Crossing Paths Arc: Part 33

Part 33:Afterburn
by Kracken


Disclaimer:I don't own them and I don't make any money off of this.
Warning:Male/male sex, graphic, language, violence, attempted NCS

Crossing Paths


"Shit," Duo looked at his monitors, rainbows of colors and charts scrolling and updating every few seconds. Heero sat in the copilot's chair, awaiting orders, ready to keep the systems compensating and working in sync with whatever Duo threw at them.

'Trouble?" Heero asked when Duo didn't elaborate.

"No, just a general, 'shit', " Duo replied. "I'll start yelling a lot worse as we get in closer."

"How is the ship handling?" Heero asked as he adjusted an engine.

"A-okay," Duo replied. He tested the yoke for the thousandth time, mind tracking the play and the light touch it had. He tested boosters, one after the other. They were critical. Without them, they could smash into something in the docking bay and end up a messy red smear. There was absolutely no room for error.

"How's our buddies?" Duo asked.

Heero checked a monitor to his right. "Holding. Once we breach their security, they'll move in to back us up."

"Just like old times," Duo grinned, adrenalin starting to pump through his veins. "The two of us against an army."

Heero grunted. "They won't expect us to force our way into their docking bay."

"That'd be nuts, that's why," Duo snickered.

Laser fire streaked past them. Duo smoothly dipped the ship out of harm's way and then came back on coarse. "Knock, knock," Duo chuckled and fired back. He took out two cannons, their explosions rocking the station and causing debris to come rocketing towards them. There was no avoiding some of it, but the ship was disposable anyway. They both locked down the helmets of their spacesuits, though, anticipating the ship being holed and loss of oxygen.

"Watch it!' A voice over their com units warned. "Incoming."

Duo rolled the ship and saw laser fire streak past his visuals. He checked his sensors and saw the fighter trying to lock on their tail. A proximity alarm should have sounded. Duo pounded it with a fist angrily. Fighters were very small and short range, as bothersome as wasps on a whale when it came to armor plating on a shuttle, but, if they hit the right port, it could quickly be all over. They'd be dead in space and a prime target for anything the station cared to throw at them.

"Take him out!" Duo shouted to their shadows.

"No can do," The voice replied apologetically. "We're running silent, remember?"

"Then shut the fuck up!" Duo snarled. He flipped the shuttle over, feeling the strain on gyros and engines, and came up almost in the face of the small fighter. He felt the impact even as he fired a side gun. The fighter turned into a collection of metal parts and scattered globules of oil and fuel, but it managed to hole the shuttle in its death throes. Alarms shrieked and the air pressure dial dipped.

"Well, that cuts it," Duo groaned, "Turning back isn't an option. We have to land this turkey now or we're going to be joining the debris field."

Heero's eyes were gleaming with battle fervor. He smirked. "We knew this wasn't going to be a stealth operation, whatever headquarters thought."

Duo looked at Heero. He couldn't kiss the man with a helmet on so he reached out and tapped knuckles with him, the reassuring bump feeling good even through the thick gloves. "Love you. See you on the other side if this doesn't work out."

"It will work out," Heero told him firmly.

Duo grunted as he returned to his instruments and flying the now, half dead shuttle. "I used to be the optimist."

Heero chuckled. He checked a meter and the laughter stopped. "Land, now. We're going to critical."

Duo only nodded and flipped the shuttle again to face the space station docking bay. "Let's do it."

Duo fed all the power to the engines. Life support was dead. Heating units were offline. Radiation shielding was breached. They were wholly dependent on their suits and the clock was ticking on their air and battery supply.

"I feel almost sorry for them," Duo muttered as he guided the ship like a meteor at the small, disabled bay.

"Hn?" Heero grunted as he tried to get the engines to stay in synch.

"In their wildest dreams, they aren't expecting us to fly this shuttle up their asses," Duo replied.

"Suicidal," Heero agreed.

"Definition of Gundam Pilot," Duo laughed darkly.

The shuttle shuddered as it passed into the gravity well of the station. Duo hit the thrusters to brake.

"Brace for impact," Duo warned automatically as his hands gripped the yoke hard.

It was like a deadly ballet. They entered the docking bay and Duo had to instantly heel the shuttle over sideways to avoid crushed supports and half the docking bay wall where it was collapsed over part of the landing pad. Then it was all about braking and sliding the shuttle sideways to bring the thrusters into play to take out the blast doors. Duo watched his monitors as that part of the station had it's interior sucked out into space. Things floated by that he tried very hard not to see, men dying in vacuum still fueled some of his war time nightmares.

"We're in," Duo announced as he powered down the engines and hit the docking doors. Monitors reacted, telling him that they were now in vacuum. If they couldn't get into the station, they were definitely dead men.

Unstrapping himself, Duo pulled up his rifle from beside the pilot's seat and scrambled up. Heero was ahead of him already and they were soon pushing away from their dead shuttle towards the gaping maw of what had been the station blast doors. Red lights were flashing. In the strobe light effect of warning lights, Duo used his magnetics to lock himself to the floor of an inside corridor. Secure, he used a hand tool to pry off an access panel. He hacked the system and soon had emergency hatch protocol overridden. A door slid open and they unlocked from the floor and floated inside. The door closed and the small room began pressurizing to match the interior of the station. When a green light flashed, another door slid open. They were in.

Speed was their only lifesaver. They pounded down the low g corridors, flipping off their suits as they went. Gear went crashing to the floor behind them. When they finally met resistance it wasn't much. The inhabitants were expecting an assault on main control. They weren't expecting Heero and Duo to try and bypass the system through lower level controls.

"Outta the way or die!" Duo shouted, panting the words out like a bellows when they rounded a corner and found five armed men coming their way. He didn't expect them to, but he felt better for warning them, a trick of conscience that Quatre had taught him during the war.

They didn't slow and the men didn't back down. They were able to get close quarters enough to make the armed men think twice about shooting, though. Then it was hand to hand.

Street fighting, Duo reminded himself. Ankle bites, not frontal assaults. He kicked low and ducked blows. It was a delicate balance of meeting them head on while staying out of reach at the same time. He took one man down with a rigid finger to the man's eye and then kicked upward into his gut. The other man decided to shoot after that and Duo felt the bullet whiz past him and bounce off of the bulkhead. Duo rushed him, then, taking him down with a tackle and using his boney elbow to come down hard on the man's head.

Dragging himself up, Duo found Heero coming towards him, his three men down, one looking very dead. Duo nodded that he was all right and they began to jog towards their goal again.

"Status?" Heero asked, not even slightly out of breath.

Duo bristled, but replied truthfully, despite his pride, "Reaching limit."

Duo could see Heero estimating distance.

"I can make it!" Duo protested before Heero could suggest that he fall back.

Heero only nodded and they conserved their breath for running after that. Duo did make it, just. When they reached the lower electronic junction room, he did fall back and let Heero take out the two technicians there. One was able to hit an alarm, though, and the sound of a warning siren split the air.

"Uh-Oh," Duo panted as he collapsed into a chair and began checking systems at a control board. "Guess they don't like uninvited guests."

"I suppose it was rude of us to destroy their home before we were even served drinks," Heero dead panned.

Duo snorted in humor as he wiped sweat from his eyes. His hands were shaking. "Okay, time to open up and let some more party guests inside," he said as he hacked into systems with expert speed, shutting down the weapons array first.

The station rocked. Duo swore and looked at Heero, wide eyed. "What the hell?!" The station rocked again and Duo shouted at Heero seething, "They're firing on the station! Those fuckers are going to take it out with us on it!"

Heero was shocked and confused. "They wouldn't!" he exclaimed and then amended, "Not without good reason. Something must be going on. Disable everything. Plant the virus."

Duo's hands flew over the keyboard and then he inserted the virus chip. It began busily eating through the system. The station rocked again. Another warning siren started on top of the other and a voice began droning, 'Hull breech. Please evacuate to safe areas."

Duo finished uploading and then looked at Heero. "Hope we're in a safe area, baby, because we don't have any way of knowing what the hell's going on now."

Heero's jaw worked and then he said, "Sorry, Duo. I put us in this situation. We could have been-"

"Running errands and being bored to death," Duo cut him off. "We both wanted this."

Heero eyed him. "Did you really want it?"

Duo was silent, picking at the flat metal of the control panel as if there was something there to take off. "I wanted... I dunno... Heero, there's always going to be this problem between us; you want to give your life doing for others. I want to do that too, but end up alive at quitting time. I don't have the same... selflessness that you do."

"No more suicide missions?" Heero replied.

Duo looked deep into Heero's eyes, trying to see whether he was upset by that or not. Duo saw love there, understanding, and maybe some relief. Maybe Heero had wanted someone to rein in his need to give everything for everyone but himself?

"No more suicide missions," Duo told him firmly. "Once we get out of this one, of course." Duo propped his chin on his hand and glared at the now useless control panels. "I really hope we live long enough to-"

Heero wrapped arms around Duo and pulled Duo almost into his lap. He said against Duo's cheek, inbetween soft kisses, "Don't be afraid to tell me the truth, Duo. I want to hear it."

"Who cares about the truth right now?" Duo replied and turned to kiss Heero on the lips. "This may be a our last few moments. Let's enjoy it."

"We're not dying yet, and I want you to level with me," Heero insisted as he backed away from Duo's kiss.

Duo glared and stood up. "Okay, so this sucks! I don't want to do it again, okay? Po wants us to police some bad guys, okay, but I want the same chance to get out alive as the next agent. Expendable is not stamped on our foreheads."

"Agreed," Heero replied, very serious. He looked around them, felt the groan and thrum of stressed metal all around them.

The doors were suddenly forced open and five men poured in, scrambling for all they were worth. They closed the doors frantically and then collapsed in heaps on the floor, oblivious to Heero and Duo aiming guns at them.

"It won't hold!" one man panted.

"No, it won't," another agreed.

Duo waved his gun at them, "Hey! Preventer agents here! What the hell's going on out there?"

The first man sneered, glaring with bloodshot eyes. "You don't know? Half the station was taken out. Bulkheads are compromised everywhere. Guess we get a little revenge. You guys are about to become space junk along with us."

Duo slammed a fist onto the console. "Those bastards!"

The second man snarled, "We were two minutes away from turning them into space dust with our modified beam cannon. If Hanson had been quicker at the controls.... Good thing he's dead or I'd kill him myself!"

Duo and Heero exchanged a look.

"Guess they had a good reason for firing," Duo grumbled. "But it's still shit!"

Some of the men began to stand up, eying them and their guns. It was plain that they didn't think they had much to lose.

"Don't try it or I'll take you out," Duo warned.

"You and the rest of your army of toothpicks?" One man sneered.

"You're funny," Duo retorted. "You'll be even funnier with a bullet hole in your head."

"You're being accused of serious crimes," Heero told them. "Don't make it harder on yourselves."

"We're facing the death penalty. It can get worse?" One man mocked.

"I wouldn't push it!" Duo warned harshly, "Now, everyone, lay down flat on your stomach and don't move."

One man complied, looking completely defeated. The rest eyed each other. The station heeled over just then and everyone was thrown off balance as gravity tried to reestablish itself.

"Dammit!" Duo yelled and was already in motion as a man went for Heero. He couldn't chance a bullet in that level of instability. He was a colony born child, though, and zero gravity was as familiar as the low g of a space station. Even as gravity began pulling them back to the deck, Duo was taking Heero's attacker out with a true flying kick. The impact sent him spinning off, but the man went limp.

Heero had left the man completely to Duo and he was throwing himself against the other men. Duo aimed his gun at the men, but found himself watching in awe as Heero did martial arts moves in the slowly growing gravity. He should have been disoriented, flailing like everyone else, but he was in perfect control. Another man went limp and another howled as his arm snapped under the force of Heero's grip. That man used his free hand to pull his gun. He was going to chance missing and blowing a hole in the bulkhead or maybe he thought he couldn't miss at that range.

"Heero!" Duo yelled as he barreled into the gut of man number four and then kicked him straight in the crotch. Free, Duo pushed off from a console and sailed towards Heero and the man aiming the gun at his forehead.

Duo didn't have time to imagine a life without Heero in it, didn't have time to contemplate what revenge he was going to take on that bastard, and didn't bother trying to think what he could do to save Heero. He couldn't save him. There was only one... maybe two seconds between that man squeezing the trigger and the man he loved most in the world being dead.

There was a loud slap as Heero struck the gun aside. It fired even as Heero slammed his forehead into the man's head and knocked him out cold if not dead. Duo felt the sting of the bullet as it sliced his cheek. He shouted in surprise and horror even as it pierced the bulkhead.

Heero and Duo froze and the man who had opted to give up started gibbering what sounded like nonsense in fear, maybe he was praying.

"Please, please, not armor piercing bullets!" Duo exclaimed and then gritted his teeth, waiting.

The sudden hiss of air escaping made their blood run cold.

Back to chapter 32

on to Chapter 34

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