"...the Vatican has no official statement at this time regarding these strange events. And we still have been unable to contact anyone at Preventer Headquarters." The woman glanced down at the papers in her shaking hands then back up at the camera. "All we do know is, this - this thing - whatever it is - is changing people left and right, all over the world. No reports are in yet from the Colonies, but we must assume the same events are unfolding there. And -"
The haggard-looking woman's words were cut short as Duo switched the television off.
"So what's the verdict?" Heero's voice asked from the doorway.
"Looks like we're still on the hush at least," the American replied. "They're starting to figure out the demons though." He tossed the remote down on the table. "Half of the news stations are out. I think the same woman's announcing on every channel."
"Aed and the third generation are gone," Heero announced, dropping down on the couch next to the other man. "Amaterasu's planning on us heading out in a few hours."
"So time's almost up then," Duo commented blandly.
"Yeah," Heero agreed before they both fell silent for several minutes.
"Hey, Heero?" he finally asked, the words jumping out of him. "Do you think we're going to make it through this?"
The Japanese man was silent another long minute before he replied, "I'm a pessimist. That's why I'm always pleasantly surprised when things turn out all right."
Duo resisted the urge to smack either himself in the forehead or Heero, but only barely. "Why not just say, 'No, Duo, I don't think we're going to make it through this'? I mean, come on, Hee-chan!"
As close to a grin as Duo had ever seen on his face, Heero spoke again. "Well then, if you don't mind, I have a question for you. Do you really think Usagi's still in there?"
He had to consider it a moment. More than anything, he wanted to believe that was true, but he wouldn't put it past Quatre to lie in order to motivate them. "I think it's possible," he finally admitted, "but I don't know for sure." He dug into his pocket to pull out the Ginzuishou. "This thing might make a difference though."
He held his hand out. "May I?" he asked quietly. Hesitating only a second, Duo placed it in his outstretched palm, watching as the Japanese man studied it. "I don't get it," he finally admitted, a huge confession from Heero. "It doesn't look like anything special, just a big shiny stone." He placed it back in Duo's hand, shaking his head slightly.
"I guess that's because we're not 'of the house of the moon' or whatever." He could hear the bitterness in his voice but could do nothing to be rid of it. "Which means what exactly? I know her name means 'Rabbit of the moon' and people used to call her Sailormoon, and I know she has had this jewel thing with her from the first time I ever saw her, but still..."
Heero placed a cautious hand on his arm. "If - when we get her back, we'll ask her about it."
"If we get her back."
Heero climbed to his feet and held a hand down to pull Duo up as well. "When, Duo. When we get her back." He tugged the other man till he too was standing. "Let's get ready. I want a piece of Thanatos."
A smirk Heero remembered well form the days of the One Year War. This was Pilot 02, the smiling God of Death - and it was a bit of a relief to see him again. "You're not the only one. I'm going to kick his ass then hand it over to Shinigami." Duo paused. "Heero, be careful if Shinigami shows up. I can't control him, and I don't know what he thinks of you."
There it was: the perfect opening to a question he'd been waiting to ask. "Why is it you can't control Shinigami? No one else seems to have that trouble."
"No one else was already a god when they were stuck in Wing Zero."
Heero had to blink several times at that announcement. "Zero did this?" Duo nodded, and he frowned. They'd known the Zero system was doing some horrible things to them, but even he'd never know it could be this bad. "How'd you find out?"
"Pretty simple: I'd be fighting, I'd blank out, I'd wake up, and everyone else would be dead."
"How'd I miss this?" he muttered, thinking aloud.
"I didn't figure it out for a while myself, not until I looked at the cockpit video feed. Shinigami and I can look alike - and during the war, he tried to look like me most of the time. On solo missions, though, he apparently decided to cut loose, and I know my eyes don't glow in the dark and I don't have wings or any of his other more... distinctive traits." He snickered in memory. "One of the times I recorded him, he left me a couple of nasty messages."
Heero couldn't hold back a quiet laugh. "So he's you with powers, in other words." The alter ego had some of Duo's more less-than-endearing traits, but he seemed to also possess Duo's memories. He should be fine, but to make Duo feel better... "I'll be careful if you will."
"Deal. Now let's get out of here and kick Thanatos' ass to hell and back."
* * * * * * * *
It was nearly annoyingly easy to sneak back into Thanatos' so-called stronghold. Almost too easy, Heero thought to himself, though he certainly didn't voice that sentiment aloud; Duo looked plenty nervous enough as it was going up these stairs to the second level, he supposed because this was were Usagi had... been replaced with Amaterasu.
And thinking of the godly pain in the posterior, she was trailing a foot or behind them. She moved with an eerie silent grace that was very unlike Usagi.
"What makes you so sure he's up here?" Duo whispered over his shoulder, breaking the near-perfect silence. It took everything Heero had in himself to keep from jumping or even just flinching.
"There is a miasma of evil over this place," she explained. "It would be thickest where Vritra is, and it is thickest up here." She glanced around almost nervously. "He is close."
A soft clicking noise interrupted whatever response Duo had had in mind. Instantly Heero went on guard, though it was nearly too late. Several of the doors along the hallway opened, and demons streamed out towards them. Instinctively, he stepped in front of both Duo and Amaterasu and started firing.
It took two shots to realize it wasn't working. "They've gotten stronger," Duo noted for him. He nodded in silent agreement anyway. "Try Kuzanagi."
His free hand grabbed the miniature sword from its place in his pocket while he kept firing with the other; it may not have been hurting them, but it was at least keeping them held back. The weapon had barely cleared his pants when it began to grow. It probably shouldn't have surprised him that it had changed shapes again, from the light kodachi it had been under Usagi's care or the rather elegant broadsword it had been for Duo or even the slightly heavier katana it had been when he had it last into a Chinese wushu sword. He wasn't too sure why any of this surprised him anymore, not that he didn't think he wasn't taking all this rather gracefully, for him at least.
::I've been waiting 1500 years for some major demon ass-kicking,:: a voice whispered in his mind. It took him a second to realize it was coming from the sword he held. ::Let's show these guys what we're made of.::
It felt like he could let the sword go and it would fight for itself. Granted yes, his training had covered swords and he'd been able to best Relena with this same one, but he'd never really been all that great with them, in his own opinion, but as he feinted then plunged it into the heart of the closest demon, it felt as natural as breathing.
Clapping interrupted his contemplation. As one, the demons froze as Thanatos - no, Vritra - stepped into the hallway also.
01 September 2004
Well, obviously I'm not making my first deadline, so happy 4 years Gods and Other Creatures. It's been a trip, ne? I've been through three co-authors (Usa-chan, Chibi Tenshi, and Ryoko Crawford), and I've even outlasted the original archive it was stored at (the first FanFic.net). We've made it through times with up to 15 reviews per chapter till now, where we're lucky for one each. But it's been a fun 4 years; let's just hope that ending it doesn't take another 4 years.
Let's see... Technically, we just met a new character! Did anyone guess Kuzanagi was going to have a personality? And if you're wondering, yes, the other two treasures do as well. I can't say any more for fearing of giving spoilers. *cries* For an example of Kuzanagi's new shape, look here: http://www.darkmagick.net/fic/crossover/gods/kuzanagi-form2.jpg
I'm working on this at work, so I'm getting a fair amount written every day. Hopefully I should have another chapter done soon. Later!