I was long out of ammunition and reduced to ramming things;
trying to aim at targets smaller than myself, hoping to lengthen the time
I had left in this battle. My engines were whining pathetically and I cursed
the stupid, lumbering, stolen thing….why couldn’t I have managed
something with a little more power? Around me, the battle swept on, pretty
well oblivious to little ol’ me. The mission was to get aboard the
ship that loomed ‘above’ me, blocking the Earth from my sight.
After that, I had not been informed what the goal was. I’m not, apparently
to be trusted with that kind of information. I paused, not having anything
close at hand to ram into that wouldn’t have swatted me like a fly,
and took stock of where my teammates were. The Wing Zero, as usual, was
in the thick of things, cannons blazing and somehow managing to look as
stoic about the whole thing as its pilot Heero Yuy. The Deathscythe was
near at hand, reaping Leos like wheat with its massive blade, and just as
my eyes brushed across it, I heard the maniacal laugh of its pilot Duo Maxwell.
The Shinlong and Heavyarms weren’t far, guarding each others backs
and creating just as much chaos as the other two, Chang Wufei and Trowa
Barton piloting them each respectively. I couldn’t find Sandrock at
first, but then it appeared, not far from me, Quatre probing at the ships
defenses with bursts of cannon fire. Leave it to quiet Quatre to keep the
mission in focus. So far, we had not managed to break through the ships
shielding to get at whatever prize lay within, and since I was pretty much
useless in the battle that the Gundam pilots were waging around me, I turned
my attention to that quarter as well.
I could hear the banter of the other pilots over my radio
but didn’t bother trying to join in. Experience had taught me that
I wouldn’t be welcome. I guess it was just a guy thing.
‘Duo! What the hell! Watch your back, damn it!’
‘Yes Mama-Yuy.’ Another laugh.
‘Quatre? How’s it look?’ Trowa, sounding
‘Weak spots, but no breaks yet.’ Quatre replied,
and then, oddly, ‘I’m all right.’
I drifted out, looking for a weak point in the dim, almost
visible shielding of the ‘Hamshire’, what I saw instead were
the two mobile suits closing in on Quatre. Can you sneak in a mobile suit?
I guess you can, because Quatre in his Sandrock was oblivious.
‘Quatre! Look out!’ I sent the warning, but had
put my suit in motion before the impulse to yell had even hit my brain.
I heard Trowa yell at the sound of my warning.
‘Hilde?’ Quatre began to turn, but I don’t
think he would have made it. Didn’t matter, my sputtering propulsion
system already had me on top of the two Leos and I spread my ‘arms’
wide and as Duo says, ‘put the peddle to the metal’. My trajectory
was going to take the three of us right into the side of the ‘Hamshire’
and if my luck held, through the shielding.
I wrenched the two Leos around and tried to put as much of
them between me and the ‘wall’ we were heading toward as I could.
I think I yelled something stupid, I might have just screamed, I’m
not sure. I hate the sound of things going splat, especially me. I think
somebody yelled my name. Probably Quatre, since everybody else was a little
too busy to notice the girl pilot doing something stupid. Then we hit the
shields and if I had any more thoughts, they were thoroughly scrambled.
Remember when you were a kid and your parents put those little plastic covers
over all the electrical outlets? It was to keep you from doing something
extremely painful. I wished I had one now. What was left of my electrical
system was fried. I was fried. I’m pretty sure the two suits I had
clutched to me were fried way worse. But the shields went in a spectacular
light show and I was becoming a boarding party of one. Kind of wish I’d
been conscious for the landing.
I’m sure I wasn’t out for long, if I had been,
I’d be dead. Maybe it was the hiss of escaping air that brought me
around, but reflexes kicked in and I awoke with my shaking hands strapping
an emergency oxygen mask over my face. My fingers were clumsy and everything
felt…twitchy. My head was pounding and there was fire burning down
my right thigh, I looked down, horrified to find blood soaking through my
pants leg. And yes, I am well aware that it was damn near a miracle I was
alive at all.
My suit was a wreck, would never get me back out of here,
and I could only hope I wasn’t trapped in it. One panic-attack at
a time Hilde-girl; first the leg. I fished the med-kit out from under the
pilots seat and used the scissors to cut away the material of my pants.
It was pretty nasty, gashed, as near as I could tell, by a piece of shredded
Leo that had penetrated the hull of my suit. All I could do for it now was
cover and bind it and hope I didn’t bleed to death before I could
get it stitched up. I wrapped as tight as I dared and was rewarded by a
slow down in the oozing blood. I glanced longingly at the painkillers in
the box, but was afraid they’d further muddle my poor jolted brain,
so settled for stowing the kit in my pack for later. My radio was dead along
with the rest of my suit, and I couldn’t tell what was going on out
there. What if the others thought I was dead and left me here? Surely they
were taking advantage of the opening I had given them and were boarding.
Would they check on me? I didn’t dare sit here and hope. The mission
always came first. No doubt they’d raise a glass for a fallen comrade
later, but I wasn’t going to bet my sweet ass that they would spare
the two minutes it would take to actually look for me.
My abrupt entrance had left a gaping hole in the side of the
‘Hamshire’ that guaranteed there was no air out there, so I
began to struggle into my suit, trying to keep my breathing calm. Don’t
panic, Hilde-girl, it’ll take them time. Time; I could practically
hear the clock ticking in my ear, timetimetime, all out of time. Things
were awkward with the mobile suit lying flat on its back, but I eventually
managed to get the damn vacuum suit on and sealed. It felt like bloody ever
before I was finally able to hit the emergency hatch release, and then I
thought I’d fall over with relief when the lock blew and I was able
to crawl free.
Dragging my pack behind me, I climbed down to the deck and
had to activate the suits magnetic cleats to keep my footing. At least the
ships auto-seals had kicked in, and I wasn’t fighting against a decompression
hurricane. I headed for the most likely boarding area and damned near got
my head blown off for my trouble. The Gundams had landed.
‘Whoa! It’s Hilde!’ I was a little ashamed
how my voice squeaked, but hey; sue me…I was having a bad day.
It was Quatre and Chang, suited and walking with magnetics
like I was. The minute I had moved into their line of sight, two barrels
were leveled at me, and I swear for a second, I thought they were going
to shoot me anyway.
‘Hilde? Are you all right?’ This from Quatre,
who always was the polite one. But the barrels never wavered.
‘Yeah,’ I lied, and don’t ask me why I did,
but looking in Chang’s cold, calculating eyes, all I could think was
‘they shoot horses, don’t they?’
God forbid I slow them down and jeopardize the mission. It
may seem I was over-reacting, but I cannot describe to you the look I was
getting from Chang Wufei, like he was sizing me up and finding me lacking.
I vowed in that moment not to limp. The blood wouldn’t come through
the suit even if I bled out. What they didn’t know wouldn’t
‘What are you waiting for, boys?’ pleased to find
my voice a little more under control, ‘We’re on the clock, let’s
The flippant words seemed to break the spell and we finally
moved out, or rather, they moved out and I followed along like a little
lost puppy. They didn’t even spare me a damn gun. I had to salvage
a rifle from the enemy after the first skirmish left the deck littered with
It was a long, scary haul through that ship. The boys obviously
knew right where they were going and what they were after. I kept up, by
God, shooting when shot at and doing my best to keep those two in one piece.
I wasn’t getting out of here without them, after all. My leg was throbbing
like a mother, and I was starting to feel a whole lot of other bruises and
sore spots, but I just could not shake the feeling that as soon as Wufei
cataloged me as a weak spot, I was just so much excess baggage left on the
docks. If I were lucky, he’d shoot me first to keep me out of enemy
Data is what we turned out to be after; I stood watch at the
door with Wufei while Quatre did his download thing. We didn’t speak
much, and when Wufei did feel compelled to address me, I was referred to
as ‘woman’. I started calling him ‘man’. It severely
pissed him off, but it helped take my mind off the really wet feeling I
had in my right boot.
Then it was the part where we ran like hell and I thought
I would die. I think I accounted for my fair share of the bodies we left
in our wake, and I kept up, and yes, thank you very much, I’m damned
proud of that. I kept the pace they set and didn’t so much as cuss
about the pain. The limp started to show towards the end though, and I noted
Wufei noting it, but it wasn’t affecting my aim so he let it slide.
We made a detour, right at the end, to set some explosives.
I guess it was to mask what we really came for. I wouldn’t know, being
the ‘little woman’, nobody bothered to explain anything. But
now, with a timer ticking away on our back-trail, we really started to move
and I had my first serious doubts about making it out of there alive.
Coming into my little self-made docking bay, I could have
crowed with glee. Made it! Made it! Made it! But we had to slow the pace
and switch back to the magnetic cleats as we left air and gravity behind.
Through the rent hull, I could see the battle outside was slowing down;
Heero and Duo mopping up, while Trowa guarded the two empty Gundams that
waited for us. Waited for the three of us. Could you cram two people in
a Gundam? This was a hell of a time to find out. I gravitated a little closer
to Quatre, not really relishing the idea of riding home on Chang Wufei’s
lap. I decided that the best defense was a really ballsy offense and grinned
over at Quatre as we worked our way across the deck,
‘So; want me to drive?’
The look he cast at me, even through the face plate of his
helmet told me he hadn’t thought about it before now either.
In the end, I have to admit, they didn’t seem to seriously
consider leaving me behind, but I did notice that Chang wasted no time in
divorcing himself from the issue all together by boarding Shinlong as fast
as his little cleats would let him and sealing the hatch while Quatre and
I tried to figure out how to cram us both in Sandrock’s cockpit.
We managed it, it wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t comfortable,
and I don’t recommend it. We made it out a full two minutes before
the explosion. I didn’t have much in the way of safety straps and
re-entry completely sucked. If I hadn’t already been beat to hell
and back from my trip through a ships shielding, I might have called it
the highlight of my day. I gritted my teeth, tried to maintain an attitude
Duo would have been proud of, and hung on. There was a whole lot of evasive
maneuvers and some fancy flying that I was in no shape to appreciate and
eventually, there was good old solid ground and I found myself in the back
of a panel truck on my way to a safe house listening to the guys tease Quatre
about having a girl in his Gundam. I suppose I should have said something
then about being hurt, but to be honest I was getting a little miffed that
no body bothered to ask why good ol’ Hilde was limping and grinding
her teeth, shaking like the proverbial leaf. The leg kind of felt better
now that I wasn’t running on it anyway, so I just figured I’d
tough it out a little longer.
The house wasn’t much, on old two story out in the country,
a couple miles outside town. Long driveway up from the single lane road
that ran past it, some big oak trees in the yard. Had the kind of front
porch that would be real nice in the summer time with some lemonade and
a rocking chair. The kind of house your grandparents might have lived in,
or somebody’s grandparents from some old movie. But it was cold out,
and late, so tonight it didn’t look all that inviting. I almost asked
if they would go on past and take me on into town where I could get back
to the base tonight instead of waiting until morning. But they were all
talking at once about what they were going to do first, arguing about showers
and who would get which room, smacking each others shoulders and slapping
each others backs, and I just kept my mouth shut.
The truck pulled up in the front yard, and everybody baled
out, while I climbed laboriously down. They were yelling and laughing back
and forth, still on a high from the mission, I guess. I was having a little
trouble relating. After sitting still for so long, I had to stand in the
driveway, hanging on the side of the truck for several minutes before I
trusted my leg to hold my weight enough to start the walk to the house.
By the time I got through the front door, flight suits had
been dumped and drinks had been handed around. Duo was running up the stairs,
slopping soda on the way, and Heero was already in the side room at his
laptop. Can’t forget those mission reports, now can we? Chang had
vanished into the bowels of the house somewhere and I could hear Quatre
and Trowa’s quiet voices coming from the kitchen.
I stood in the middle of the entry room with my sad, bedraggled
pack over my shoulder and didn’t know what the hell to do. I hurt
from top to bottom, felt light-headed and weak. I was still in the bottom
half of my stupid vacuum suit and nobody had thought to ask why. The voices
all around me were calling and jeering and so terribly comfortable with
each other. I felt like a cocker spaniel puppy that had just wandered into
a wolf den. Can you say, out of place? All right, I can admit it; I was
starting to feel sorry for myself, and stupid, really stupid. How the heck
was I supposed to speak up now, hours after the fact and mention the eight-inch
laceration in my leg? Oh, I can just see me trying to tell them I thought
Chang was going to shoot me. Somehow, standing here in the middle of the
living room, the whole idea seemed kind of absurd. Well, mostly absurd.
Duo went thundering down the hall over-head, ‘Dibs on
the shower!’ I think I heard Chang curse. Quatre popped out of the
kitchen, an indignant frown on his face.
‘Duo! Ladies first!’
I thought I would die. Suddenly, the hustle and bustle of
busy young men all around went silent. Even the tack-tack sound of Heero
at the keyboard stopped. Duo poked his head over the rail at the top of
the stairs and glared at me.
‘Uhmmm…Quatre, no, please; I’ll wait my
turn.’ I tried.
‘Quatre!’ Duo hollered down, ‘She’s
a girl; she’ll take forever!’
‘Duo! Don’t be rude!’ Quatre snapped, and
then in a lighter tone turned back to me, ‘Hilde, I insist.’
There was grumbling from upstairs, but Duo disappeared from
view and I could hear his footsteps recede back towards his room. Quatre
ushered me up the stairs, the perfect gentleman, and showed me where the
towels were. He didn’t even seem to notice me practically dragging
myself up the stairs with the railing.
Despite the pressure of knowing there were five sweaty guys
out there waiting for the shower, it was an immense relief when I finally
had the bathroom door shut and was alone. I dumped my pack and went straight
for the pain-meds, gulping two of them down with water cupped in my hands.
Then I got down to the business of stripping out of the rest of my vacuum
suit. The pants were a total loss, stained with blood from crotch to cuff
and I marveled that I was still standing up. Off came the bandages and everything
else and into the shower I went. The hot water ran rusty for a time, but
I finally got the dried blood cleaned off and was able to get a good look
at the wound. It was still oozing when I stepped into the shower, and after
cleaning and further aggravating it, was bleeding rather freely again. It
was definitely going to have to be stitched up. I kept the shower short,
well aware of people waiting on me, and got out and toweled off, trying
to keep the blood from getting all over the bathroom. I pulled a clean pair
of underwear and an undershirt out of my pack and put them on, and then
fished out the med-kit. I heard footsteps in the hall.
‘Hilde? Aren’t you done yet?’ It was Duo’s
‘Almost. I’ll be out in a couple of minutes.’
I hadn’t been in here twenty minutes yet, damn it!
I heard the footsteps retreat again. I sat on the toilet and
pulled out the kits needle and sutures. I really hate getting stitches,
but hey, I have had training. I wished I had a shot of whiskey though. Hell,
I wished I had a damn doctor. I sacrificed one of the white washcloths to
the cause and started stitching. Dab and stitch, dab and stitch, curse under
breath, dab and stitch. I guess I developed my own sort of rhythm. I was
about half way done and feeling kinda proud of myself despite the unshed
tears burning the backs of my eyes, when the bathroom door burst open with
Duo hollering, ‘Hilde! What the hell is taking….’
Must have been a really interesting sight, me sitting on the
toilet in my underwear, in the midst of the blood-soaked wreckage of my
discarded clothes and bandages. My wet hair still dripping from the shower,
frozen in mid stitch. Duo just stood and stared and the day just sort of
caught up with me.
‘I. Said. In. A. Minute.’ I grated, and gave him
my absolute best Heero Yuy type glare. Then, with my uninvolved foot, I
reached out and kicked the door shut in his face.
I continued my job and listened idly to the sudden flurry
of hushed voices out in the hall. When I finished, I rewrapped it in fresh
bandages and got dressed in clean clothes. I cleaned up as best I could,
stuffing my ruined clothes and used bandages in the little bathroom trashcan
until it over flowed. I crammed everything else back in my pack and then
had to sit for a minute.
Nobody came yelling, ‘Hilde! Oh my God!’ Nobody
came and even knocked on the door. I was feeling pretty sorry for myself.
I couldn’t believe how self-involved these guys were. Nobody cared
enough to question the limp or the vacuum suit. On the ride back when they
were all patting each other on the back and checking each other’s
condition, not one of them had thought to check on good ol’ Hilde.
Damn it, I was the one who had gotten them on that ship. I did my part,
I carried my weight, I didn’t slow anything down. Why wasn’t
I afforded the same concern as everyone else? Just because I was a girl?
Have I mentioned I hate self-pity? It quickly turned to anger
and I hoisted my pack and marched out, resisting the urge to sling the door
back against the wall. Duo and Chang were in the hall, heads together and
talking in whispers that abruptly cut off as the door opened. I marched
past them without a word and headed down the stairs. Yes, marched; you think
I was going to bloody well limp down that stairway? I don’t think
Quatre was at the bottom of the stairs looking flustered and
upset. Heero was leaning in the archway leading off to the side room, arms
crossed over his chest regarding me as I came down the stairs. Trowa stood
in the kitchen door, watching Quatre. I was flaming pissed.
I stopped at the bottom of the stairs and spared Quatre a
tiny incline of my head. ‘Thank you Quatre, you’ve been a perfect
host.’ And I walked past him and right out the front door.
Stupid? Yeah, extremely so. And I knew it even as the door
clicked softy closed behind me. But I shifted my pack and continued my march
down the steps off the porch and down the driveway into the night. I didn’t
let the limp come back until I was sure I was lost from sight. I didn’t
start cursing until I got down to the road, and I didn’t cool off
enough to regret it until I was half a mile down the road and too damn late
to turn back. My stitches were pulling, my head and leg were aching, and
it was freaking cold! My damn hair was still wet!
The lesson in this little tale, my children? Angst and stupid
pride are not just a guy thing.
And nope, since you asked, nobody came after me. When I think
about it too hard, I like to tell myself that nobody believed Duo’s
story about what he saw in the bathroom, I mean, come on, I’m just
a girl, right? But I can’t think too hard about the mess I left in
there, or that little fable just falls all apart.
It was two stinking miles to town and after the first one,
I had to stop and cut a walking staff from the trees lining the road. At
about a mile and a half, I cried a little. I wanted to stop so very badly,
but I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to get started again. By the time
I reached the edge of town, all I had left were the embers of my anger.
I found a cab and had myself delivered back to the base, and went straight
to the Med-lab. They took one look and admitted me for blood loss and near
hypothermia. I got a nifty little lecture about doing my own stitching,
but thankfully nobody questioned my story about getting separated from the
group and I didn’t have to admit what an idiot I am.
And, you know? I really don’t like to think about what
went on in that house after I left.
Fiction : GW :