Stone Angel: Trust
By Lizeth Halington
A group of stiffly dressed men were seated in the darkness of the room, features clouded by shadows and thin veils of cigar smoke. The only source of light came from the neon glow of computer screens.
The third man from the head of the table closed a file he had been reading with a grunt.
"You object?" questioned a voice, cool and clear in the near silent room.
"Is it truly wise to bring the Children back? Their actions cannot be predicted as accurately as we want. Project Ascension..."
"They remember nothing."
"She is... of no consequence. She is ours."
The figure at the head of the table clasped his hands together, elbows propped up against the ebony coloured wooden surface, silent.
"The Gundam pilots are a very tightly knit group... Can the Children really gain-"
"Trust is just a five letter word. A pretence. Illogical..."
The buzz of conversation spluttered and died as eyes fell upon the shape at the far end.
The shiny surface of glass, which covered his eyes from view, reflected the eerie light of the blank screens.
"The Children will serve their purpose. All roads will converge at some point or another.
Michael will be found."
Somewhere on a space colony, another man with long, white hair, unknowingly mirrored the position held by another as he sat with his elbows propped up on the table, right down to the luminescent glasses. The only difference was the cybernetic hand that clicked restlessly as if by its own violation.
"So... NERV is rising after all."
"It was expected."
Kaji supposed with some amusement that if the genius' eyes were visible behind those specs, they'd be rolled heavenward.
"What are you doing here?" the doctor asked neutrally.
"I wanted to see the Children."
"I'd've thought you'd know where they were."
The younger man sighed, "I don't, alright."
"Maybe it's better that way," the doctor said, eyes still fixed on the screen's output.
The dark haired agent leaned against the doorframe, arms crossed over his shoulders casually.
"I'm willing to propose a trade. Knowledge for knowledge?"
Kaji thought he could see the old man's jaw clenchof an instant before it was replaced by the familar, all-knowing smirk without missing a beat. Soon the little lab was filled with the sound of furious typing as Dr. J attempted to contact those who should be informed of the existence of the not-quite-so-dead-anymore organization and the even larger powers that existed beyond its doors.
"Hey, Trowa!" the American boy called, "S'for you!"
And so it began. The nameless boy stood wordlessly and made for the computer, and his next mission.
Duo stared at him for a moment as he walked past, head cocked to the side in silent contemplation before he shifted his indigo-violet eyes beyond and addressed another.
"You too, Rei."
I work best... alone...
He was deluding himself. He'd worked very well with Quatre in the past... and with Heero, strangely enough. But there was something about the girl that set him on edge.
She was too old.
Discounting the fact that she was physically two years younger, there was something in her eyes that bespoke of years of sacrifice. It was as if she'd lived previous lives, and remembered them all.
Granted, none of them were newborn babes. Not even Quatre, who at times seemed incredibly na´ve, was innocent. He'd seen and done too much, just like the rest of them. Still, Rei was different. Rei was... was...
"Trowa! Earth to Trowa!"
"..." he asked intelligently.
"Mission?" the braided boy asked with an edge of amusement... as always.
"Mission accepted," confirmed the eldest, turning and catching the eyes of the youngest.
Trowa Barton, No-name, gundam pilot-03, the sad clown, (and so on and so forth), sat in the vast piano room of one of Quatre's many mansions, this one being their current base. Sometimes it paid to have a multi-millionaire as a fellow pilot.
His fingers flew deftly on the handle of the small silver flute, head bobbing rhythmically to the song.
Sometimes it was all he could do to feel human.
So he played, relaxed, inventing the formation of notes as he went, loosing himself in the sharp clear sound of his own making.
The softest of clapping caught him off guard and he lifted his eyes to meet those of the only female member on their team. He stiffened.
Everything about her was soft. She spoke softly. She moved softly. She clapped softly... everything...
Everything but those eyes... Haunting crimson eyes that almost matched her Gundam's when it was rated on a scale of 1 to 10, measuring stun factor. Medusa was at 20.
Feeling slightly unsure, Trowa fell back on routine.
Standing, he executed a perfect bow, one arm outstretched and the other held over his chest.
The Sad Clown had finished yet another performance.
"You play," she said. It was not a question.
"Yes," he answered anyway, also monotone.
Silently, they studied at each other, neither willing to reveal their thoughts.
Trowa, suddenly feeling as if he was some character in a bad western showdown movie, shook himself and gestured for her to sit.
To much Duo...
He almost smiled.
Still, even after she was seated, staring blankly at her feet, Trowa couldn't shake the image of unshaven men in wide-brim hats speaking in a really bad western drawl.
Definitely too much Duo... must kill later...
At this point another part of his brain screamed in an un-Trowa-like manner,
Aaah! Too much Heero!
"You don't trust me," she spoke, breaking his little reverie. That too, was not a question.
He sat across from her, cleaning out his flute with a rag.
"No, I don't."
Her expression remained neutral.
"We will have to work together tomorrow."
She nodded, seeming satisfied in his acceptance and stood as he detached the pieces that composed his flute: the mouthpiece, the body and the tail and placed them against red velvet.
"You play well," she announced, bowing slightly and leaving the room. The very, very faintest trace of... perfume was left in her wake.
Trowa snapped the black flute case closed, eyes hooded under those brown bangs.
Humans are drawn to conformity. In this little group of 5 now turned 6, the majority of the pilots were quiet, so being quiet himself, he was not out of place. However, when one was exposed to another personality for an extended period of time, that personality seems to latch on to one's own psyche, adding its own little comments here and there.
So, when Duo had asked him to watch out for Rei, he had agreed.
Perhaps Quatre was actually rubbing off on him after all.
Swing around, he shot at another wave of soldiers. Gundam Heavyarms responded promptly at his every command but somehow everything still seemed sluggish.
"Take out the tower!" he ordered his battle partner, slightly frustrated at the seemingly never-ending supply of enemy mobile suits.
On the left screen, he could see Rei silently obeying as Medusa hovered closer to the control tower, white lance twirling a deadly dance in the air.
She was good, there wasn't any doubt about that. She wasn't bad with the beam cannon either, a weapon that until now, he had more associated with Heero's Wing Gundam than any other mobile suit.
She aimed and shot... true.
The tower was destroyed in a shower of rubble and screams of despair.
Trowa's mouth was set in a thin line. Those screams would haunt him later.
"Those who have laid eyes on a Gundam will not live to tell about it," he recited grimly, quoting the orders he knew by heart.
Orders weren't meant to be comforting.
Without the control tower active and giving its own orders, the enemy suits scattered randomly, attacking in disorganized raids.
"They should have been trained better," he heard her say over the COM link.
"Yes," he agreed. But soldiers were trained to be mindless...
His grip tightened on Heavyarm's controls.
"On my mark," he muttered.
Rei was beside him now and Medusa's eyes were glinting maniacally. That gundam wanted to battle. It seemed almost malevolent that way.
This was their mission. This was their life. Making sure that somewhere out there, another family would be father-less, brother-less, widowed...
He sighed resignedly, the exhalation of breath whistling softly, inaudibly past his lips.
The God of Death was peeved, to say the least. Sure, he'd been minding his own business when...
"Hey, jerk! Why didn't you watch where you were going?!" snapped the next newly initiated person-on-Duo's-target-practice list, muttering curses in... German?
Yep, German... he'd spent enough time with Hilde to recognize the language by ear...
Parcels and groceries decided it was a good time to learn to fly... landing was another matter entirely.
"Aww... Hell..." Duo muttered, figuring that the word summed everything up quite nicely, glancing at the remnants of what would have made a very nice lunch. "Me? Me?! What the hell were you watching, or can't you see past the end of your-!"
The braided American lifted his eyes off the crash carnage for the first time and got a eyeful.
Trowa woke up to be greeted by Rei's pale, blank face.
"You took a harder hit than you realized," she explained.
Beyond them, Medusa and Heavyarms lay unresponsive on their respective trucks, hidden under green material.
His brow furrowed and he closed his eyes, feeling disoriented.
"Concussion," she stated, reading his unvoiced question.
That explains why I felt too sluggish, he thought.
"Where...?" he asked.
"Almost there. We're over the desert, but we are be fine on autopilot for now."
Her fingers worked deftly, bandaging his head. He lay still, unresponsive.
"You still do not trust me?" she asked this time.
"No, I don't," he replied again, peering up at her. Green eyes met crimson. "Perhaps later."
The words sounded insincere and flippant, even to his own ears...
Trust was just a five-letter word, after all.
Back at the mansion
Wufei's eyebrow twitched uncontrollably.
"Care to repeat that, Maxwell?"
Duo laughed nervously and backed up, waving his hands in front of him in a gesture of self-defence.
"Hey, hey, Wu-man, don't shoot the messenger!"
Oops... Duo grimanced.
"DON'T call me 'Wu-man'!!"
"Eh..ehehe... Take it easy! You're gonna pop an artery or somethin'..."
Mouth! What were you thinking!? Duo berated himself even as his eyes sparkled with the faintest glint of humour.
Brain, you weren't thinking!! came the flat reply.
Oi... I'm loosin' it...
Heero lounged on a cushioned armchair. He ignored them all and just kept reading.
Kind, kind Quatre decided to take pity on the American.
"Wufei, take it easy... it's not Duo's fault..."
Rounding on the blonde, Wufei glared.
"First they send her and now they want to send another one?!" he ranted.
Switch roles: now it was Quatre waving his hands in front of him in self-defence.
"Wufei... it's not that bad," the Arabian sweatdropped. He really didn't find anything so terrible with the situation. They were getting help, wasn't that a good thing?
"Injustice!" the black haired boy growled, looking ready to decapitate someone.
"Hey, at least I'm not some macho, chauvinistic little boy who thinks he's got what it takes to pilot a gundam and rants about some false justice every other minute... And, if you don't mind, I don't appreciate being talked over. Check that... I refuse to let you talk over me," piped in a new and definitely female voice with a touch of arrogance and a definite note of anger.
This is going to be a long day... Quatre sighed.
Duo smirked half nervously and eyed the door.
Heero flipped a page of his book.
Enter one Asuka Sohryuu Langley, Gundam pilot 07.
Somewhere else, crossing a bleak desert landscape in an abnormally large carrier, a nameless boy with long, brown bangs gazed stonily out a small, circular window.
Stiffly he fingered the bandage on his head and frowned.
Something's not right... We haven't been acting like ourselves... not really... what is it...?
Although it was hardly noticeable, all the gundam pilots had had a slight change in behaviour lately. Except maybe Heero, who still seemed as stoic as ever.
He turned and as the felt eyes boring intently on him and briefly caught sight of a blue-haired girl before she retreated to the cockpit.
Author's notes: Ooookies... um... Any suggestions as to Asuka's code name?
Weeeell... still not much of a plot.. I'm workin' on it, alright?!
Go see my web page at http://www.angelfire.com/anime2/loft1050/
Disclaimer: Eva and Gundam don't belong to me (duh). I think that was a given... **pout**