Gundam Wing Fan Fiction / Outlaw Star Fan Fiction / Sailor Moon Fan Fiction / Fan Fiction / Zoids Fan Fiction ❯ All Death's Children ❯ Chapter 7

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

Notes: People will die. Whether they stay that way (in this story, at least) is totally up to me. ^_^ Enjoy!

Some Thanks: To Bry, the Fly Mage, who reads almost everything I write, hounds me to write more when it's necessary, and keeps me company online when everyone ELSE I know has the good sense to go to bed. To Elf, True Queen of the Vamps, who reads almost anything I write dealing with her two favorite angels of death, hounds me to write more when it amuses her, and inspires me by portraying said angels FLAWLESSLY in her own fics. To Jaug, Lover of All Things Aisha, who reads anything I write that interests him, hounds me to do more whenever he's bored enough, and never fails to make me snicker. And to Bry again, for constantly renewing my sense of humor. Never mind that only two of them have even read this story yet, it's probably better if they weren't connected to me, anyway. For strictly legal purposes and their own protection, of course…

Chapter 7

Though Gundams were generally designed for one person, it was not the first time Hotaru had squeezed into one with its Pilot. Duo always enjoyed a chance to tickle her, while Heero's only preferences were that she didn't touch the console or get in his way.

The mission always came first.

That was what Hotaru kept telling herself when Vega had looked at her in the docking bay. He'd been going to each person on the team, making sure they knew what to do. Only a glance was needed to communicate to Heero what was needed of him. He was that good at what he did.

But Vega hadn't approached Hotaru. Instead, his eyes had drifted to Duo, who nodded briefly.

"C'mon, Firefly," Duo had said, his eyes shining with anticipation. "Time to show those Anten amateurs what the Triple Threat can do."

That was merely Duo's nickname for himself, Hotaru, and Deathscythe Hell in battle. However, Hotaru rather thought of it as a more fitting description of herself: Destruction, Death, and Rebirth. Not that she ever told him that, though. But, knowing Duo as she did, he probably already suspected.

Suddenly, Vega's voice interrupted her thoughts. He sounded very different now, more commanding.

"There's a been a change in plan. The rest of the Anten may know we're coming."

Duo cursed softly under his breath, then immediately glanced at Hotaru by way of apology.

"Red Squad will proceed to Symka 5 as planned. Black Squad will stand guard around the planet."

Duo smiled. "Not bad. He's planning ahead."

"He doesn't want me to get hurt," Hotaru murmured. "That's why he put me with you, isn't it?"

"Obscura didn't put you with anyone. He wouldn't know how, since you don't have a class. You might say I volunteered to look after you."

"So what do we have to do?"

"Keep any other pirates off their butts until Yugi secures the Rose. Then we're outta here."

"And Heero?"

Duo smirked. "Like you don't know which job he got."

* * * * *

Vega swallowed and took a deep breath before adjusting his earpiece. "Snipers, report."

"G1, in position," Heero stated.

"KG, in position," Yugi whispered.

Vega could actually hear a gun cocking before Wynn replied, "E1, in position."

"Good. G1, when you have the shot…take it."

Almost instantly, Heero fired.

* * * * *

Hanmyo leaped again, laughing loudly. "Watch me, Hanmushi!"

Hanmushi looked up from her seat on the fountain's edge. "I'm watching, dear."

The little girl turned three somersaults in the air before landing squarely on Hitorega's broad shoulders. "Ta daaa!"

Hanmushi clapped. "That was wonderful! Wasn't it, Hitorega?"

"She didn't land on your shoulders," he complained, wincing behind his mask.

Hanmyo stomped on one of his shoulders. "Are you calling me fat?!" she demanded.

Hitorega grunted. "I'll call you whatever you want if you get off now."

Hanmyo hopped to the ground. "You're no fun, Hitorega."

"Sorry. I'm allergic to sunlight."

"Last week it was happiness," Hanmushi murmured.

"And me the week before," Hanmyo added.

Hitorega backpedaled. "Er…they change. My allergies, I mean…"

"Is that why you wear that bag on your head?" Hanmyo teased. "Because you're constantly breaking out?"

Hitorega snatched off his mask, revealing a face that looked a lot like a male version of Hanmyo's. "Maybe it's because I don't want to annoy everyone by sounding like THIS!"

Hanmushi sputtered behind her fan and looked away, her shoulders shaking with laughter.

"Maybe it's because you don't HAVE a face of your own, and you have to go around stealing everyone else's!" Hanmyo cried.

"About time someone figured it out," he muttered, shoving the mask back on his head.

"Well, don't worry," Hanmyo said, patting his arm. "I'll get you a good plastic surgeon for your birthday…whenever it is…"

Hitorega gave her a withering look. "First, I don't WANT my own face, and second, you KNOW I don't have a birthday!"

"Don't be silly. Everyone's got a birthday," Hanmyo protested. "Even Jukei…"

"Those borne-"

"Born," Hanmushi corrected.

"BORNE," Hitorega repeated, louder and clearly angry at being cut off, "in darkness have no need of such things. I have no age, no face, and no patience for annoying women."

"Then you still have to put up with me, because I won't be one for a while," Hanmyo pointed out with a big grin.

Hitorega's shoulders slumped. "Damn."

Hanmyo began to speak again, probably to tease him some more. Instead, she gasped, and her eyes went wide.

"What is it?" Hitorega asked, already reaching for his sword.

Hanmushi stood up. "We're being watched." Then she noticed the spreading red stain on the little girl's sash. "H-Hanmyo…?"

Hanmyo looked down. "Not again!" she whined before collapsing to the ground.

"Who DARES?!" Hitorega shouted, his shoulders shaking with rage.

Hanmushi focused her power and began to chant. "Paguwa sanfa paguwa sanfa…there!"

* * * * *

The sword hilt caught Vega in the back, knocking him out of the bushes and into plain sight. He scrambled aside just before Hitorega's sword came down where his neck had been seconds before.


Any other time, Vega might've been insulted. Hitorega had turned killing people into a profession, after all, while Vega sometimes got dizzy at the sight of his own blood. Anyway, it had been Heero's shot, not his. Although he didn't think it would do much good to explain that to the enraged Anten assassin.

The bushes suddenly went up in crimson flames, no doubt caused by Hanmushi's Tao magic. Seconds later, Heero dove out, squeezing off three shots before turning his dive into a roll. All of them merely bounced off Hanmushi's quickly constructed energy shield.

Vega could almost hear the gears in Heero's mind turning as he assessed the situation. An instant later, he fired again and took off, taking Hanmushi and her undivided attention with him. That left Vega with Hitorega, who hadn't become any easier to deal with.

"DIE!" Hitorega yelled, starting to bring his sword down in a fatal blow.

Then they both noticed the strange pink cloud rising from Hanmyo's body.

"What the--?!" Hitorega began.

"The Mourning Rose," Vega breathed, totally unaware that he was still connected to his teammates.

* * * * *

From his position on the front lines, Yugi's eyes suddenly snapped open, nearly blinding in their violet radiance. In one fluid motion, he drew a card from his deck. "I call upon the Swords of Revealing Light! Imprison and extinguish the clouds of confusion!"

* * * * *

It was rather like waking up from a very bad dream, but infinitely worse.

In a single moment's time, Hanmyo was made painfully aware of everything going on around her: the Geomancer and its army speeding towards Symka 5, the anticipation of the fighters around the planet, the anxiety of the ones currently on the planet, and the overpowering rage of someone who cared for her more than she had ever suspected.

And why.

But for all these revelations, Hanmyo was still trapped by the three large, shining swords around her. All she could do was sit there and watch the battle in front of her. She was torn about who to root for, though.

She was naturally drawn to the boy, as he was handsome in a clueless `who, me?' sort of way. He was clearly the underdog, or seemed to be (something she could definitely relate to).

Then there was Hitorega, who now fought with only rage and determination as his weapons. Gone was the skilled, unfeeling Anten assassin. This was a man who sought blood for a blood loss…in more ways than one. She could feel each of his anguished cries echoing off her soul…and making her stronger, for some reason.

* * * * *

Vega had yet to actually make an offensive move against Hitorega. Indeed, there was no time to even think of one: the Anten assassin's attacks were wild yet timed, unpredictable yet clearly premeditated, glancing blows but powerful enough to make Vega wish they weren't all landing. He could've kicked himself for not having paid more attention to Washu's lesson on spirit defenses. He had little more than a shield, and even that was fading fast.

"Well," Vega thought to himself, "at least Oscuro's out of danger. Leaving him with Fury was definitely a good idea."

* * * * *

"This can't be good."

Zero was staring at the oncoming Geomancer and its fleet of ships, trying to imagine them as Victim. He'd been trained to kill monsters, not people.

Ernn Laties seemed to have the same train of thought as her Pilot. She deftly floated to the rear of the line, letting Deathscythe Hell and Wing Zero wade into the pirate forces. It was better for Zero's concentration, anyway. He closed his eyes, confident in the knowledge that his Goddess would alert him to any immediate danger. He extended his consciousness to that of the team, absently thanking Erts for his crash course in telepathic conditioning.

He encountered Yugi first, sending signals to his teammates quickly and efficiently: shield percentages, enemy flight patterns, suggested maneuvers. He was rather like the Erts and Reneighd Klein, actually.

Duo, excited and immersed totally in battle, bringing quick death with even the slightest touch.

Heero, silent and very obviously deadly, precise and merciless in his execution.

Hotaru, quiet and almost totally unreadable at times, made human by her loving heart.

Zero's eyes snapped open in something so beyond shock it was scary.

"Get OUT of there, Zero! Leave the Victim to me and Eeva Leena!"

"Don't worry, Rei-san. There's always another chance to fight them."

"Are you feeling well, Rei-sama? You're shaking…"

"Garu…Yu-san," Zero gasped, realizing he was sweating. "Kazuhi-chan…"

This was home now. And he would defend it until he could do so no longer. As he had been trained to do.

In response, Ernn Laties drew her sword and hoisted it high, issuing a challenge to the largest ship.

The Geomancer seemed to pause, and then the red glare of its main shield announced acceptance.

With a nod of agreement, the Ernn Laties charged forward, intent on making its might known in this world.

* * * * *

Yugi frowned, and with good reason.

They had secured the Rose, which was good.

Red Squad had been split up and was on the run. Heero was in battle, Vega was fighting for his life, and Wynn wasn't answering at all. That was bad.

And Yugi couldn't actually bring the Rose aboard his own ship until Vega gave the all clear.

But that wasn't going to happen anytime soon, Yugi realized as the Mission Leader's vital stats suddenly hit the red. Vega was either dying (again) or too close to it for comfort.

And before Yugi could smother the pain and fear radiating from Vega's side of the connection, Hotaru's normally stable stats flared into overdrive, and then vanished briefly before returning in all their true power. Confusion suddenly flooded in from Duo, as did his voice.

"HEY! Where's Hotaru?! Where'd she GO?!"

Yugi's wise, violet eyes turned toward Symka 5, already knowing the answer.

* * * * *

Vega was ashamed of himself more than anything else. He'd never even seen the strike that had broken through his shield and then pierced his chest, mere inches above his heart. But the next thing he knew, Hitorega was standing over him, the bloody sword prepared to fall again.

He thought of Sara, never knowing she'd lost him a second time; never challenging Bit and Liger Zero again; never laughing at Zero's antics; never seeing Hotaru's face light up at the sight of him…but then, he'd ruined that a while ago. And now it was too late for him to fix.

The air between them suddenly twisted into a solid black spiral. Thinking it was one of Hitorega's lethal attacks, Vega looked away, unwilling to watch his end unfolding.

Then someone crashed into him with a muted cry of pain, and they both hit the ground hard.

Vega's eyes drifted open a moment later, recognizing the dark hair, pale skin, and sweet scent on top of him as Hotaru's. That was when he noticed the rapidly spreading crimson stain on the front of her dress.

"The debt," Hitorega said softly, "is paid in full." All the same, he tightened his grip on the sword. "Now, for the interest…" He started forward again.

Hotaru suddenly came to life (ironic as that seemed) and stretched out her hand.

An instant later, Hitorega found himself impaled on the Silence Glaive. There was a low gurgling sound in his throat as he fell to his knees, the double-pronged blade still buried deep in his neck.

Vega took a deep breath, swallowed, and suddenly remembered that he was Mission Leader. "Take the Rose!" he shouted at no one in particular.

At any rate, Hanmyo's spirit, the swords holding it captive, as well as her corpse, promptly vanished.

With that out of the way, Vega's attention flew back to Hotaru, who had gone limp in his arms. He was no doctor, but the fact that she wasn't breathing and was now positively soaked in blood didn't seem like a good thing at all.

Without warning, Heero was by his side, looking somewhat singed around the edges, but ultimately satisfied with whatever had happened with Hanmushi. "We should go."

Vega was about to speak when Yugi's voice sounded in his ear.

"I agree. We can hold off the pirates for now, but with everyone but Wynn damaged, it'll be a lot harder. There's no need to risk losing the Rose, now that we have it. I suggest we retreat."

Vega nodded in silence, his gaze drifting back to Hotaru.

"I'll make sure the way is clear," Heero volunteered, checking his gun and leaping into the bushes again.

Vega carefully cradled Hotaru to his chest and stood up. Pain shot through him at once, and he remembered that he was one of the damaged ones Yugi had spoken of. He all but ignored it and concentrated on carrying Hotaru. She wasn't the least bit heavy, but everything was made difficult when one had a hole in his chest.

So Vega could hardly be blamed for not noticing that Hitorega wasn't dead. Nowhere near it, in fact.

"Don't leave," Hitorega snarled almost good-naturedly. "I'm not done with you yet."

Vega glanced over his shoulder to see the assassin's sword rushing towards his exposed back. Automatically, he pushed away the rising sense of dread and hopelessness in his heart. He couldn't think like that. Hotaru needed him.

Failure was nowhere on his list of options.

Although, for some reason, he found Hitorega's feet terribly interesting. Mainly because the ground was splitting open beneath them.

Hitorega finally noticed as well, but by then, the deafening roar of fury (or maybe Fury) had already filled the park.

Vega wasn't sure how it happened, either. One moment, Hitorega was charging. The next, he was caught within the sharp jaws of the Berserk Fury, being swung around like a screaming doll. By the time he realized that Fury should've been in the Symka docking station two miles away and not bursting from the ground in the middle of the park, the Ultimate X Zoid had vanished, and the assassin was an even bloodier mess…and still, amazingly, alive and determined to kill Vega.

Vega was annoyed now. "Can't you just die?!" he shouted in frustration.

Hitorega's reply was lost in the sound of a gunshot. He paused, then hit the ground face-first…revealing Wynn behind him, holding a smoking (and rather large) gun. Something told Vega it had probably been designed especially to defeat a Tao Master.

"Congratulate yourself, Vega," Wynn said, putting the gun into his suit jacket. "You have managed to impress me."

At that moment, a hovercraft pulled up, and Heero kicked open the door. "In," he barked.

Vega and Wynn got in.

* * * * *

Duo had just sliced his forty-second pirate ship in half (some had finally had the good sense to fly AWAY from the beam scythe) when something within him exploded. Not in a good way, either.

Reacting to a feeling deeper than instinct and beyond emotion, he established a connection with the Berserk Fury, and made the dire mistake of not preparing himself for what he might see.

And at first, he saw nothing but a dark violet cloud, shielding everything in the cockpit from view.

Though it was exceedingly difficult, Duo pushed aside his Gundam training momentarily and looked again, with the eyes of the immortal Shinigami.

Then he saw that it was not a cloud, but spirit energy. While he knew Hotaru's to be very dark at times, it had never been this shade. Duo gradually realized that it was Vega's doing. Somehow, the kid had managed to adapt his energy to fit hers. Not that it was helping all that much. Hotaru was giving off more energy than she was talking in. At any rate, she would never take Vega's energy and risk harming him.

Girls in love were stupid that way. Hotaru especially, Duo decided with a sigh. The Gundam training took hold again, the scene vanished from memory, and Shinigami sent another lost soul to Hell, courtesy of his beam scythe.

* * * * *

He would not lose her, Vega told himself over and over. Not like this. Not when she had no idea how much she meant to him.

Hotaru (her body, at least) seemed to be of a different opinion. She was rejecting the energy, for some unknown reason.

Vega had tried everything short of shoving it down her throat, for fear of choking her. And he was even beginning to consider that when he finally heard her voice.

"Don't," Hotaru gasped softly, trying to shift in his arms.

"What?" Vega asked at once, leaning closer so his ear was near her mouth.

"Don't…do that," she whispered, indicating his solid black aura with a flimsy hand. "You can't…help."

"Why not?!" Vega demanded, then lowered his voice. "I won't let you die, Hotaru!"

"Because I won't let you," Hotaru replied, smiling sadly. "Sacrifices don't work that way. Anyway, it's not up to you. My choice…"

"No! You don't get to choose anymore!" he shouted. "Not if it means…losing you…all over again…"

Tears spilled down Hotaru's cheeks as she placed a finger against his lips. "Just promise me one thing, Vega."

"Anything," he said quietly.

"That you'll forget about us-when we weren't speaking-forget why we were upset with each other…and just hold me until this is over. Please?" Her voice sounded even smaller than usual.

Vega merely tightened his grip on her and pressed his lips to her forehead.

Hotaru closed her eyes, and her breathing grew shallow…before it stopped abruptly.

The silence was deafening…and too much.

"Oscuro!" Vega shouted in desperation. "OSCURO!"

The black cabbit appeared on Vega's right shoulder a moment later. He peered down at Hotaru's pale face, then yowled questioningly.

"I…I need your help," Vega stammered, brushing away the spots of wetness on his cheeks. Somehow, he didn't think they would impress the cabbit.

Oscuro stared at him, but not in disinterest. It was more like confusion or blankness now. As if he didn't know how to help Hotaru…or if he KNEW he couldn't help her.

Vega's heart sank. Cabbits couldn't heal. At least, his couldn't.

"We got trouble, Vega," Zero's voice cut in over the com unit. "BIG trouble."

Vega risked a glance.

The Geomancer loomed forebodingly on his screen, even as more and more pirate ships poured out of it.

"They're like roaches!" Duo swore. "They just keep coming!"

"Too bad I wore my good shoes today," Wynn murmured dryly.

"Vega," Yugi said quietly. "We can't continue this way. None of the others are seriously hurt, but…if she doesn't receive medical attention from Washu immediately, Hotaru…may die."

"They won't let us leave," Heero noted. "We'll have to go through them."

"Do you have ANY idea what kind of power that would take?!" Wynn cried.

Vega made a decision, and turned off his com unit. He took a deep breath. "Oscuro?"

The cabbit looked up at him.

"I've never asked you to do anything. I've never intentionally made you unhappy. I'm saying all this because I need a favor."

Oscuro did not respond.

"Hotaru means…everything to me. I don't know if she means anything to you, other than someone who occasionally feeds and pets you…but I don't care. I refuse to let her die like this. And if she goes, we're going with her. Unless you know something about being a Pilot that I don't."

Oscuro considered that, then leaped onto the console…and sank through the metal like a ghost.

Abruptly, a black crystal appeared in front of Vega, followed by two more, one on either side of him.

"Is that a yes or a no?" Vega asked after a moment.

Oscuro's face peered at him from the center crystal. The normally indigo jewel on his head had turned blood red, and the cabbit had never looked more severe. Still, he nodded briefly.

Vega sighed in what might've been relief. "So. Any ideas on how we got out of here?"

To his immense surprised, Oscuro actually smiled…

* * * * *

Even under the most bizarre battle situations, Heero was famous for not allowing his focus to waiver the slightest bit from the enemy. He was the Perfect Soldier. Perfection didn't waiver.

And then, along came Vega Obscura with his weird aura, unusually strong spirit energy, and amazing mobile suit. It was almost painful not to watch him sometimes, just to see what he would do…and the poor fool he would do it to.

And despite being only a few yards away from the Geomancer, Heero actually turned away when he felt Vega's energy flare out of control…at least, what would've been out of control for a lesser Pilot.

He was even surprised to find that his sensors were indicating the Berserk Fury was no longer the Berserk Fury. And Heero did recognize the large, black spikes jutting out from what now passed for Fury's back.

It seemed that he'd left Vega's sour, extraordinary cabbit off the list.

* * * * *

"We have to do this, partner. We can't let Hotaru die!"

Though the words were not directed to him, Zero nodded. "Don't worry, Vega. Nobody's gonna die if I have anything to say about it."

An alarm went off, and Zero snapped his head to see the Geomancer bearing down on the Berserk Fury. They'd probably seen that his energy was off the scale, and were trying to stop him before he got too dangerous.

"Not on my watch, pirate scum." He closed his eyes and hailed Ernn Laties through their link. "Vega can take the shot on his own. But maybe we'd better line it up for him…"

Suddenly, the Geomancer froze, as if stopped by an unseen force.

Zero turned his attention back to his friend, unaware that his normally brown hair was pale blue and swimming around his head.

"For Sara…Bit and Liger Zero…and you, too, Hotaru…Fury will not fall this day! KING BEAM!!!"

For a moment, there was nothing but stillness, save for the echo of Vega's battle cry. Then an impossibly dark beam of power flew from the transformed Fury's gaping maw, racing across space like a bolt of lightning.

Zero let out the breath he'd been holding in. "COOL!"

* * * * *

Duo had just agreed to rush the Geomancer with Heero when it exploded.

Well, that was a bad term for it. There WAS an explosion, and when the smoke cleared, there was a gigantic, glowing hole where the ship's bridge had been.

"Anybody wanna tell me what just happened?" Wynn asked, sounding puzzled.

"Who cares?" Duo replied. "As far as I'm concerned, that hole is an exit sign!"

"Vega must've had the same idea," Yugi agreed. "He's nearly halfway back to base…"

"WHAT?!" Duo stared at the image of Yugi's smiling face in disbelief. "How?!"

"I honestly don't know," Yugi confessed. "But I sense what I sense. Zero can second me, if you like."

Just then, a white streak flew by.

"Don't bother calling him back," Duo muttered, shaking his head as his thrusters kicked in. "I'll get the story later."

Yugi smiled again. "As you wish."

* * * * *

Washu was waiting patiently when Vega leaped from the Zoid that only looked a little like the one that had left a few hours ago.

"Washu!" Vega cried, running as fast as he dared while carrying Hotaru in his arms. "You've got to--!"

"I know," Washu said simply, lifting Hotaru's thin frame from his arms. "Don't worry, Vega. She'll be fine."

"But…but you haven't even LOOKED at her!" Vega protested. "Her heart has STOPPED, and it--!"

"Vega. I have been Hotaru's best and only physician for the better part of ten centuries. I think I know my patient."

Vega's jaw dropped, which was exactly what Washu had planned for.

"Thank you for getting her back here so quickly. And good work out there. You and Oscuro are quite the team. Although you could work on those shields a bit." With that, Washu and Hotaru faded from sight.

Vega emerged from his daze only when Oscuro dropped onto his shoulder.

"Hey! Can't you see I'm…injured…?" Vega stared at the former hole in his chest, somewhat surprised to see that there was no hole in his chest. "Oscuro…did you…?"

Oscuro snorted, as if he'd been insulted.

Vega touched the spot, and vaguely recalled Hotaru's hand resting there when he'd held her. "Something very weird is going on here…"

Oscuro hopped onto his head and yowled in a commanding sort of way.

"How you can think of food at a time like this is beyond me. But you've definitely earned it." Vega reached up to scratch behind Oscuro's ears. "Good job, boy."

Oscuro purred for a second, and almost forgot to snap at Vega's skilled fingers before the sensation got too nice. He had a reputation to uphold, after all.

* * * * *

Next Time: Hotaru reveals her secret, Vega makes a promise, Yugi explains it all, and Zero says goodbye.