Reality Storm: Chapter 7
released 27th February 2003
Duo didn't like fighting. Really, he didn't. But life had taught him that if nothing else you had to fight to defend those who could not defend themselves. Their allies in this technological dark age certainly counted as defenseless.
Or so he thought until a splash of blue arced past him, slicing an Aries in half with a trident. Duo stared, unnerved, as the dark pieces of now-lifeless metal fell sparking to the ground. The humanoid figure that had destroyed the machine followed more gracefully, bound also to the laws of gravity. It cocked a salute at Deathscythe as it flowed downward, then caught itself on the bough of a tall pine and sprang back into the battle.
Shaking off his shock as another Aries opened fire on Deathscythe's Gundanium skin, Duo grinned, saluting back with his own scythe and then catching the pesty OZ mech in the backswing.
Heero took stock of the new entrants in the battle, cataloguing their abilities and setting aside the question of their origin until it could be dealt with. For the duration, they seemed to be allies, which was all that mattered. Neither having enough power to fire its beam cannon nor having been repaired to the point of flight, Wing's offensive capabilities were limited to its reach with a beam saber.
It was not unlike trying to swat flies just out of one's reach.
The dark blue armored figure seemed to have chosen to defend Wing, hovering around the Gundam. Golden arrows tore through the air with unimaginable force, the archer calmly picking off his targets one by one even as the concentrated fire of the Aries mobile dolls, no more than golden raindrops of energy, slid off of an invisible shield around it.
"What are those things?" he muttered along a secure channel.
"Wish I had a clue," Duo replied. "At least they're on our side."
Heero snorted. "For now."
"You are such a pessimist."
Manned? the question whispered in Quatre's mind.
No, he replied, hoping the original thought wasn't his own. It was eerie, hearing voices in his head. He watched in amazement as Seiji, clad in that green armor, sliced his sword before himself, letting loose a torrent of raw energy that ripped through one of the mobile dolls. The human-sized figures, so tiny in comparison to any of the mobile suits, had become the Gundams' protectors, turning the tide of battle as easily as if born to it.
Whispers in the back of his mind assured others through a link Quatre could only sense and marvel at.
While his primary focus stayed on the battle, Trowa wondered in a secondary line of thought what the other pilots might be making of the armors. They were very effective, their firepower somehow on par with that of their opponents, each possessing some kind of shielding against the return fire of the Aries--those few shots that connected. In motion, the man-sized figures were simply too small and too fast for accurate targeting.
Trowa found himself briefly wishing that they could take the armors and their wearers across the time divide, despite the practical impossibility of such action. If they had such allies, doubling their own numbers, their attacks on OZ would become much more efficient and effective. But risking the continuity of time and space, the conservation of mass, and the paradox of killing your ancestors would surely not be a good idea. If there was anything Trowa had learned as a mercenary and terrorist, it was that the overriding force to the universe was without a doubt Murphy's Law.
"Yo, Tro," Duo's voice crackled along the radio, "you okay?"
"Yes," he replied softly, though if he hadn't had Shuu protecting HeavyArms, he might not have been. Open panels along several sections of the Gundam left dangerously vulnerable areas. A direct hit to any of them would fry the Gundam's circuits, perhaps irreparably.
"Need help, or is that orange guy good enough for you?"
"Watch your own back, 02," Heero's voice rebutted. Trowa frowned and switched his camera views to see what had Wing's pilot worried. There were an inordinate number of Aries targetting Duo... but Trowa could see only one vulnerability, a literal Achilles heel where a panel had been removed on Deathscythe's left ankle. He switched another screen to check on Sandrock, who likewise was surrounded.
"Pfah, they'll have to try better than that." Duo justified his arrogant words with his scythe. Trowa could appreciate the Dolls' strategy; take out the currently strongest Gundams, then concentrate on the more badly damaged ones. It might have worked, except an unforeseen factor seemed to have been added to the battlefield in the Gundams' favor.
Lying prostrate upon the ground, unable to rise, Shenlong was at the mercy of the mobile dolls fire. Still, the dragon's-head arm snaked out, crushing one by one the dolls that came within the Gundam's visual range.
Unfortunately, the mobile dolls were programmed to take in such information and react accordingly. Wufei had destroyed merely a handful before they stopped coming within his Nataku's vision and reach. Though the Gundanium exterior of the mecha was supposedly inviolate, exploding missiles rocked Shenlong, battering Wufei around the cockpit, his safety harness leaving bruises he knew would be painful later--if he survived. Silence hissed across the yet unrepaired radio. He had no way of knowing how the others' battles fared--and no way of requesting assistance. His lips pressed tightly together, Wufei mentally ran through every curse he knew in all the languages he spoke, promising to deliver divine justice and retribution if only the Gods would give him aid.
When explosions began showing gold and crimson just at the corner of one of the few working exterior cameras' view, he assumed that one of the others had managed to get a weapon working and the fortunes of battle had fared well enough that they could defend him.
When the pieces of the mechs came raining down, however, not in small fragments but rather in twisted hunks of whole metal, melted into half-unrecognizeable slag, Wufei realized he had no clue what was happening outside of his Gundam.
Once Seiji had given them the all-clear relayed from Quatre that these giant robots at least didn't have people inside of them, Shuu grinned and really let himself go. Destroying metal objects really wasn't that much of a challenge for someone whose elemental link was to Earth, but it sure felt good to shake things up and make some noise.
He only winced a little when he saw how much damage they were doing to the forest. There was smoke and fire ignited not by Ryou but rather by the flaming pieces of giant robots that fell toasted to the ground. He drew the others' attention to the problem.
This is not good, Seiji replied, feeling the trees shrieking, a high voiceless sound composed of the cruel ravage of winter and a sense of ageless insentient patience threatened. The trees were his link with Shuu's element, their roots thrust in the earth and their branches reaching for the light. Ryou, can you do anything about this?
I'm a little busy right now, Rekka retorted.
Ryou, can you maybe absorb the flames? Tenkuu speculated, as cool and intellectual in battle as ever.
Not now, Touma! Nine to one odds ring a bell with you?
Well, actually I think it's closer to nine point two four five to one odds. Though of course, that's just a rough approximation....
How about after we finish with these guys? Kongo interrupted.
Touma, if you and I combine our powers, do you think we might be able to make it rain? That was Suiko.
It's worth a shot.
Shoving the screaming to the back of his mind, Seiji of Kourin concentrated his being on his next opponent and sliced the robot in half with his sword, which bled golden light into the skies as the "Aries" fell.
Ryou could feel the forest burning, the heat and the flames a hazy sense of warmth, comfort, energy, and food for his armor tickling just out of reach. If he wanted to, he could reach for them, bring the flames sweeping up, flood the sky with them, cause the world to light up in a sunset blaze, burning, burning, burning....
But he didn't want to.
What he wanted was to keep the flames contained, to use them as he meant them to be used. To light a campfire. To destroy the enemies who would destroy him. To burn a controlled firebreak around Nasuti's house. To keep himself and his friends warm, protected, safe.
Impressive and deadly as the youja generals' armor had been, siblings to the armors of Ryou and his friends, he knew gratitude that their powers and armors hadn't been reversed.
If during the war one of the generals had possessed the power of fire....
He shivered and split his attention, a part of it keeping the nascent forest fire in check and under his control while the rest of his mind kept its concentration on the battle at hand.
Shin felt Ryou split his attention and thought about doing the same, trying to summon water to quench the flames even while fighting this battle, but he knew he wasn't that skilled. He let the thought go. He trusted Ryou implicitly and wasn't worried about the firestorm spreading beyond the boundaries Rekka defined for it. Adding water to fire with only half his attention on the problem would create steam. Superheated water might cause even more of a problem than the original fire, so he left it alone.
There was no water within the "Aries" robots, which left Shin at a bit of a disadvantage. His armor-augmented senses slipped through and around the mechanical forms without finding anything to latch onto and make brutal use of. So he had to fall back to the old-fashioned way of killing an enemy. Fortunately, he'd had a lot of practice with the carbon-copy youja in the war. He wasn't sure who he was fighting to defend now, or even if their new friends were on the right side, but he also wasn't sure it mattered. He wasn't about to leave defenseless those who were under his protection, especially not to inhuman beings whose only purpose in coming here was to kill them.
Especially when those robots hadn't even bothered to allow for the civilians and supposed civilians within the battle area....
The Aries robots had none of the grace or beauty of the Gundam war machines, but at the present moment they were a good deal more effective.
Touma had never thought of himself as an aesthete, but neither did the observation surprise him. He supposed it might be an effect of having spent months running around in magical samurai armor, facing opponents garbed in variations of the same. If he looked at the exterior designs of the Gundams, he could see futuristic versions of their armors. The Aries uniformly lacked such beautiful details.
Was it a Pavlovian reaction to feel more comfortable about giant robots so long as their carapaces echoed what you were used to? Or was it an ingrained reaction against industrialized society to see the individual designs as more graceful and inherently worthy than what were obviously mass-produced though highly tuned and efficient war machines? Touma stored the thoughts away for later consideration as he suddenly realized there were only a handful of the Aries machines left. He raised an arrow and sighted along it, fired, automatically reaching for a new arrow even as the first struck and destroyed.
Apparently they'd reached some critical mass for decision, because the remaining robots turned tail and headed for the rip in the sky which Touma could not so much see as sense, a thin, jagged line of wrongness that twisted the sky around itself, warped and odd.
The new arrow picked off one, then Ryou lost patience with the retreating edge and finally resorted to his full attack, a twisting spout of fire that pulled the flames up from the ground and lashed them out into the sky, burnind and melting the mechas, a white-hot fury that left nothing in its path but the occasional flake of drifting ash.
Author's Notes:Back to Chapter 6 On to Chapter 8 Gundam Wing Fanfiction Page Send comments to author
This chapter owes two major debts. One is to the members of the Charmurai mailing list, especially Natalie, who as always took my half-unreadable slag and polished it into something decent. Thank you, N-chan, for the inspiration to flesh out this chapter. The other debt is to everyone who's been reading this series and written me to ask for more. If it weren't for the requests for Reality Storm outnumbering those for my other series easily five to one, the chapter might never have been finished. I can only hope, being hopelessly inept at battle scenes, that it has been marginally worth the wait. Thank you to my readers--who are, after all, a very large part of why I write.