"Out of Sight, Out of Body"
WUFEI: I hope the onnas aren’t planning to continue that
stupid chronicle. It’s bad enough knowing what they’re going to do to me this
chapter without having it described in bad pseudo-mediaeval
ARDETH: I don’t know... Dogmatix was rather nice, I
SPIKE: Eth. *snicker*
SPIKE (grinning evilly): Why not-eth?
back): Because it annoys Legolas too, and he’s standing right behind you with
SPIKE: ...Ah. Right. That’s a good reason.
do you know when the onnas are going to get going?
started. Christy said something about only being able to push the readers’
patience with cliffhangers so far before they snap...
? But... Christy hasn’t dragged me into the study! Normally they
want us right there when they’re torturing us, so they can describe the results
‘SCYTHE: Apparently they already know what you look like when
you’re in pain.
by now, the
number of times they’ve tortured us in the past!
KRASHNARK: They’d better
let me rescue Wufei or I’ll start zapping things again!
[The door to the
computer room/study opens and Christy sticks her head out.]
Krashnark, could you-- Oh good, you’re already looking outraged. Hold that pose
for a second!
[She pulls out a Polaroid camera and takes a photo of him,
tugs it out of the slot and squints at it as the picture
CHRISTY: Hmmmm... yeah, that’ll do. Thanks,
KRASHNARK: Hold on! What are you two up to now?! The only
thing I’ve got to be outraged about is Wufei! If you let Sharna seriously hurt
CHRISTY: --be able to have a nice hurt-comfort scene where
you fuss over him and soothe his fevered brow, yes, we know. Have
[The study door slams behind her, and the various characters turn to
look at each other.]
KRASHNARK: ...I hadn’t
thought of that... No! No, I’m still not going to just stand by while Sharna’s
priest tortures you, and that’s not just because I don’t want my little brother
to be able to gloat at me! It’s wrong and they shouldn’t do it to
WUFEI: I’m not sure whether to feel suspicious, or strangely
KRASHNARK: Besides, you’d just yell at me if I tried to soothe
your fevered brow.
WUFEI: Suspicious. Definitely. *sigh*
the sooner the onnas get going with the torture, the sooner it’ll be over and
done with, so... on with the fic!----------------
‘Out of Sight, Out of
“Now, it’s understanding I’ll be if
y’tell me to mind my own business, seein’ as how things are a tad busy right
now,” Cord said conversationally, blocking a sword strike with his axe, “but
would y’mind tellin’ me how come you and th’lad there aren’t glowing
Uthmar snorted, not taking his eyes off his own opponents. “Because
using Torframos’s power against a pack of perfectly ordinary mortals would be as
good as murder, which Champions aren’t really supposed to do,” he answered
shortly, grunting as he cut one cultist down and twisted to block a cut from
another. “We’ll glow for demons, mages, and spell-casting priests.”
think I’m seein’ your point,” the giant hradani mused, kicking his momentarily
distracted opponent back into the press of cultists, probably with a few broken
ribs to keep him occupied. The first green-clad soldier who lunged forwards into
the gap went down with an arrow in one eye, and Cord had a second to turn and
nod his thanks to Naiya and Terrin, who were standing on top of the baggage cart
with bows. “It wouldna be fair
to take an unfair advantage against plain
ordinary people, is that it?”
“Essentially,” Uthmar agreed, wondering
where this was going. There was a dangerous glitter in Cord’s eyes, and an edge
to his voice that didn’t go with his calm delivery...
“Then would y’do me
the favour of explainin’ just how goin’ down under three-to-one odds can be
?” Cord rumbled, smashing a cultist to the ground with an
Uthmar had to admit -- privately, at least -- that he
had a point. Normally, he would have said that forty-five fighters, two of them
Champions, would have been more than enough to handle whatever forces were
protecting a hidden temple to a Dark god, and normally he would have been
right... but the one thing he could be sure of at the moment was that the
situation was not
normal. If things had been ‘normal’, his armsmen
wouldn’t have been surrounded by over three times their number of well-armed
cultists and backed into a tight defensive ring around the cart and their
nominal ‘noncombatants’, who were proving to be surprisingly good
shots.At least they didn’t hit us until after we were all up,
awake, and armed for the march...
“It’s the principle of the thing,” he
said, a little weakly.
, is it?” Cord said derisively.
“From what I’ve seen, little man, principles
are the things that’ll get
you killed when your enemies use ‘em against you! All else bein’ equal, if one
side’s got principles an’ the other don’t, it’s the side without ‘em that’ll win
-- and y’can hardly argue that things are equal here!”
Uthmar opened his
mouth to argue, but the hradani wasn’t listening any more. The dwarf on his
other side went down as a sword point found a weak spot in his armour, and he
dragged the wounded armsman out of harm’s way, blocking the stroke meant to
finish him off.
“Now, you just sit here quiet until-- well, if it isn’t
the Jester t’the Gods,” he chuckled, leaning Gunnar back against one of the
cart’s wheels and gently probing his wound. “Didn’t recognise you with y’helmet
on. I’m thinking there’s no need to be in such a hurry to go and take up your
new job, lad!”
Gunnar winced, but managed a lopsided grin. “Actually, I
was rather planning to stay here. Somebody’s
got to keep all the rampant
egos around here in check!”
“Aye, well, if the Champions’ll just get
their thumbs out, we might be able to manage somethin’,” Cord grumbled, turning
The dwarf stopped him with a hand on his arm. “While I understand
that principles can be a bit of a pain,” he winced, “sometimes literally, and
personally I agree with you that the current odds are a good argument for
relaxing those principles... sometimes, all else being equal, principles are the
only way you can tell which side is which.” His smile faded. “Our situation
isn’t what I’m worried about right now, though.”
“Oh? And what would you
be worryin’ about, then?”
“Wufei,” Gunnar said grimly. “He hasn’t come
back, and Nataku’s just sitting there... and our opponents have hardly even
at Nataku, like they know she can’t do a thing to stop them.
They’ve done something to him, I’m sure of it.”
“Aye, that’s not good,
“It’s worse than ‘not good’!” Hissing in pain, Gunnar slumped back
against the wheel, hand pressed to his bloodied side. “I can think of two
possibilities, both damn nasty. One, he’s a demon, and was originally summoned
by a priest of Sharna. Judging by what Naiya and Rami told us, he broke free
before they could perform the second sacrifice and bind him into obedience. I
don’t think they can continue the process with a different priest, but what if
they can? What if they’re planning to do the second sacrifice now? Two, and more
likely...” He took a deep breath. “What if he is
the sacrifice? Think
about it. There’s probably more power and potential wrapped up in him than in
anyone else in this world. If a priest of Sharna gets his hands on that sort of
power... what d’you think he’s going to do with it?”
like,” Cord said eventually.
“’Aye’,” Gunnar agreed, mimicking Cord’s
accent dryly. “Which is why we have to get out of this mess and help him.
“Which means it’s time to ditch the Phrobus-damned principles,”
Cord growled, ears slanting backwards. “I’ll just be borrowing this then, if
y’don’t mind,” he added, switching his logging axe into his left hand and
picking up Gunnar’s double-bladed war axe in his
Uthmar traded blows with a succession of
opponents, swearing under his breath as one after another ducked backwards,
pulling out of reach to take a breather as another cultist stepped in to take
their place. They’re just working to hold us in place and wear us down, not
trying to kill us immediately... and I’m not even managing to seriously wound
many of them, let alone kill them!
he fumed, slashing in vain at one more
retreating figure. I don’t have time to evaluate one fighter’s style and find
an opening before he pulls back and I’ve got to start again, and I don’t have
the brute strength necessary to smash through their defences in one or
two blows, unlike Cord.
A niggling, guilty thought popped up in the
back of his mind. But I would if I just used some of Torframos’s
He shook his head, dismissing the idea, and chopped at his
next opponent’s legs. That’s not an option, no matter what Cord says. And
speaking of Cord... the way he fights, it’s damn clear that he’s not just an
ordinary smith and forester! Not that I really thought he was. Hradani aren’t
the most feared and hated race on this world for nothing, and Horse Stealer
A deep-throated bellow came from behind him, almost a
roar, and he barely had time to duck out of the way as Cord charged straight
past him into the thick of the enemy forces, striking right and left and leaving
a trail of shattered bodies behind him.--more frightening than the
Uthmar finished, watching wide-eyed as the enemy forces fragmented
around the hradani. I’ve never actually seen hradani in battle, but I’d
heard... oh damn! He’s gone berserk, he’s not watching his rear and they’re
coming in behind him--!
Without thinking about it, he reached for
Torframos’s power and charged after the hradani, blazing golden fire surrounding
* * * * *
Wufei hissed in pain as the priest carved another
line into his stomach, and then cursed inwardly as a quiet laugh let him know
he’d been heard. Worse than the pain, though, was the slow pulling
sensation, as if each slice, each drop of blood, was taking something out of his
soul... and the huge stone scorpion looming over him was starting to glow
“I’m impressed,” the priest said in an almost friendly
voice, cutting slightly higher this time as he drew some sort of pattern on
Wufei’s skin. “That’s the first involuntary sound you’ve made. You’re not
struggling, either... I don’t suppose you’re actually enjoying
“Hardly,” Wufei snarled. “I am not
thought not, but it was worth asking,” the priest mused, wiping up a trickle of
blood with one finger and licking it off. “Hmm... interesting. I’m not sure
whether you really do taste slightly different to normal humans, or whether I’m
“I have no idea,” Wufei said shortly, and closed his eyes,
concentrating. The cutting started again, darts of pain across his inner thighs,
but he dismissed it from his mind.It’s not important,
himself, reaching inwards. An illusion... the world is an illusion. My body
is an illusion. Pain is an illusion. I can simply refuse to perceive them, and
leave them behind...
Muttering under his breath, a
quiet echo of the prayers being chanted by the worshippers behind him, the
priest made another delicate slice into the meat of his victim’s thigh. Blood
welled up, dribbling across golden-tan skin in beautiful patterns, and his smile
widened as he drew in the power flowing from the wounded body--
then faded, as the spread-eagled demon abruptly relaxed and the power flowing
from him dwindled to nothing.Eh?! What’s going on? As long as he’s
alive and able to feel pain, he shouldn’t be able to block me-- He hasn’t
died, has he?!
Alarmed, he reached out to feel the sacrifice’s
throat, hardly feeling the sting as the hooked chain caught on his skin. The
demon had looked
strong, but you never could tell about a person’s heart,
and then there had been that embarrassing incident with the girl who’d turned
out to be a spy, carrying poison to save her from questioning... it had saved
her from something else, and totally ruined the summoning ceremony. The memory
of Sharna’s fury made him wince.
A strong, slow pulse beat under his
fingers, and he frowned. “What are
you doing?” he asked lightly, none of
his alarm showing in his voice as he twisted the boy’s head to face him. Even
if he’s passed out, that shouldn’t affect... eh? What has he done to
The face looking back at him was slack, eyes almost shut
and unseeing, a complete contrast to the angry, resentful, alive
that he’d been laughing at only seconds before. “Come on now, wake up,” he said,
slapping the demon’s cheek. “You can’t hide like that... wake up
second, stronger blow had no effect either, and the quiet chant behind him
faltered as the cultists realised something was wrong.
One of the
underpriests moved forward, swallowing nervously. “My lord, is there--" He
flinched back, out of arms’ reach, as the high priest snarled and slashed the
slender knife across the sacrifice’s chest, gouging a deep furrow through skin
and muscle until the fragile blade twisted in his hand and snapped.
didn’t feel it,” he muttered, staring into the demon’s face and searching in
vain for any reaction. “He’s alive, and not
unconscious, yet somehow he
didn’t feel it... and he has
to, or this will not work
! What did
As several former members of OZ -- including
Lady Une -- could have told the priest, torture will get you nowhere if your
victim can put himself into a trance. Wufei was only distantly aware of his
body; he felt no pain, and although he could still see and hear what was going
on around him, it seemed about as real and important as an old black-and-white
film, out of focus and echoing faintly. If someone he trusted told him it was
safe to come back he would be able to hear and respond, but until then he could
just drift in soothing warmth...
* * * * *
Still rubbing idly at
the prickling spot on his stomach, Duo turned his attention back to Quatre’s
“...probably be best to have a group overseeing it, I think. If
there’s one qualified person in charge, we can avoid arguments about who has
jurisdiction over what, and if they are then answerable to a committee there
Another dull pain moved across his abdomen, and Duo lost
track again. What the hell?
he thought, fingers moving to the new spot
under his blanket. I can’t feel anything there, and it doesn’t hurt any more
or less when I touch it, so what’s--
Another pain, this one below his
ribcage, made him jump slightly. Another, and another...
“But who would
be best for the leadership position?” Relena’s voice broke through his
distraction. “And what title should they have? I realise that question may seem
trivial, but believe me, some of the people I have to convince to vote for this
will panic if it sounds at all ‘Napoleonistic’ or ‘aggressive’...”
tried to pay attention, but a sudden prickling, burning feeling up and down his
inner thighs made it difficult. He barely managed to suppress a wince.
think-- Duo, are you all right?” Trowa’s concerned voice gave him an anchor, and
he looked up to see everyone watching him.
“Yeah, Tro... s’okay. I’m just
a little stiff and sore. Keep going, I’m fine,” he replied, forcing himself to
grin. He squirmed on the bed slightly, then let out a relieved sigh as the pain
“If you’re sure,” Heero started, leaning forwards to
stroke his boyfriend’s cheek.
“It’s fine, Heero; I just needed to get
more comfortable, I guess,” Duo replied, leaning briefly into the caress. “We
were trying to decide on who should head this ‘peacekeeping group’, right?” At
everyone’s nod he continued: “Well, I know this is going to sound kind of
flaky... but what about Lady Une?”
* * * * *
Down on his knees,
forehead pressed to the side of the bloodstained altar, the high priest prayed
desperately. My lord Sharna, forgive me, but something has gone wrong.
I--=*I can tell that!*=
an angry voice spat in his head.
=*You should have him screaming for mercy by now, and he’s not even
twitching! What are you doing about it?*=He has somehow withdrawn
into himself, I think, my lord,
the priest continued. I am ashamed to
admit my failure, but nothing I can do to his body will wake him. I have tried
to retrieve his mind with a spell, but it slips through my grasp like water and
I fear this is beyond my powers...=*So you want me to fetch him
Sharna muttered sulkily. =*I have to do everything for
you, don’t I?*=I did try, my lord, but my abilities are
naturally immeasurably inferior to yours,
the priest said soothingly,
flattering his god with the ease of long practice. He’d relaxed slightly; when
Sharna started sounding pouty instead of angry, it usually meant that the
dangerous moment had passed. If I am to complete the sacrifice and deliver
his soul to you, I must humbly beg your indulgence and
Sharna didn’t bother to answer, but the feeling of his
presence vanished from the priest’s mind, telling him that the conversation was
over. He could feel power gathering around the demon as he stood up, and smiled
at his underpriests. “Fetch the stronger knives,” he ordered, rubbing sticky
blood from his forehead. “Our subject will be back with us soon, and this has
delayed us more than enough; the time for delicacy is
A thin wisp of green fog coiled out of nowhere
in front of Wufei, and he felt a pang of unease even through his tranced
detachment. Nothing was supposed to be here in the dark with him. Nothing
be here with him once he’d withdrawn from his body, wasn’t that
what Master O had told him...?
The tinge of negative emotion made the
dark warmth around him waver, threatening to break the trance, and Wufei
automatically let it slide from his mind, sinking deeper into nothingness.
Nobody had come to get him, so he was supposed to stay where he was. Stay in the
warm dark until someone he trusted called... Duo came to get me last
he remembered fuzzily, and would have smiled if he’d retained
awareness of his mouth. Duo came and called me. Maybe he’ll call me
The fog-wisp shifted, curling towards him, and he regarded it
with a mental frown. I’m pretty sure that’s nothing to do with
Searing pain shot through him as it touched him, shattering
the trance state as if he’d never achieved it, and he found himself staring up
at the glowing stone scorpion with his own scream echoing in his
“Welcome back,” the priest crooned, tracing the knife in his hand
across the ragged slash across Wufei’s chest, smile widening as he gasped and
shuddered. “Yessss, it’s not easy to maintain composure if you think the pain’s
over and then it starts again, is it? A technique I’ve used to advantage in the
past, and you did it to yourself, oh dear... and things are about to get a
little more serious.”
“Go to hell!” Wufei choked out, trying to regain
control over his muscles. I will not struggle helplessly, damn it, I
will not scream again-- I refuse to give this bastard the
“Not until I die, dear boy, and as long as I make
myself... useful... to my lord Sharna, he’ll see to it that I live a long and
The Chinese teen managed a laugh and a twisted grin. “Oh?
The priest I killed was being ‘useful’, but he didn’t look very healthy by the
time I left. Sharna didn’t do a damn thing for him, so why do you think he’ll
bother lifting a finger for you?”
“Because your death and sacrifice could
be a greater triumph than any of his priests have managed since the Fall of
Kontovar,” the priest told him smugly, and drove the short-bladed knife straight
through the palm of his right hand.
squeezing his eyes shut for a moment before forcing himself to open them and
keep watching. I can’t turn away from courage like that,
he told himself,
feeling sick. I can’t refuse to bear witness to it, even if I know I’ll never
be able to tell anyone what I’ve seen.
I can’t refuse to watch him prove
I was so wrong about him...
blood and realised that he’d bitten through his lip in his efforts to keep
quiet. He jerked involuntarily at the increased pain as the priest twisted the
knife before pulling it back out, but managed to stay silent except for harsh,
ragged breathing. And that’s all he’s getting,
he promised himself
grimly, glaring up at the ceiling. If I can push myself back into trance, and
go deeper this time -- so deep that nothing can reach me, not a friendly voice,
not Sharna, nothing--
I’ll die. I’ll die without ever waking
Somehow, now that he’d made that decision, he was calm
again.If I can manage it, they won’t get what they want. That priest
won’t get any more power, Sharna won’t get whatever he gets out of a
sacrifice... well, he may still get the satisfaction of having had his brother’s
chosen Champion killed, but at least it’ll be a flawed triumph. Besides, I have
the feeling Krashnark will make him regret it soon enough.
depending on my annoying stalker to avenge me. How stupidly
Closing his eyes, he concentrated on the darkness behind his
eyelids, trying to dismiss the pain and the sound of chanting from his
awareness. It was harder than before, but he’d proven in the past that he could
achieve trance despite drugs and torture, and this time the drugs weren’t a
A faint green smudge curled into view, and the sense of Sharna’s
presence intensified. =*But I am,*=
came the vicious thought. =*You
aren’t going anywhere. I pulled you out of there once and I can keep you from
going back! You’re mine now, and nothing is going to prevent me from taking your
Wufei thought incredulously, shocked out of
focus. I’ve made no bargains with you, I’m not one of your servants-- you
have no right to take anything!
=*You’re in my temple, on
my altar, being cut to shreds by my priest, and that gives me all
the rights I need,*=
Sharna gloated, green smudge brightening and starting
to expand, throwing out tendrils of sickly light. =*I hold you here, he kills
you... and I win.*=
Over my dead body,
Wufei told him, and the priest
paused uncertainly in his work as his victim’s mouth twisted up into a wry
It’s a pity I’m not going to survive this,
thought privately as he ‘turned’ to escape into the depths of his own mind,
pursued by threads of Sharna’s energy. I really want a long talk with
Uthmar about the way this world’s gods conduct themselves!
burned through him as one of the tendrils reached him, but he was ready for it
this time, pushing it away along with the physical pain. Illusion,
told himself firmly, falling deeper into himself. Pain is part of the world,
and the world is illusion, and illusion has no place here. The only reality is
my mind, alone in darkness...
=*Get back here!*=
flinging more tendrils after him.No pain. There can be no pain...
pain needs a body, and my body is illusion, and illusion has no place
The thought trailed off as Wufei cleared his mind completely,
Changing tactics, Sharna spun the threads out in front of
Wufei’s bodiless point of view and tangled them into a net, trying to draw him
back into consciousness instead of shocking him awake. =*I’m not letting you
he snarled, starting to panic. If he killed Krashnark’s human and
get the extra power this bright soul would give him, he could
depend on something very nasty happening to him as soon as Phrobus lost interest
in protecting him -- and though he might think otherwise in his more optimistic
moments, deep down he knew that his father favoured his older brother. Had
always favoured him. Would always favour him. And therefore had very little
interest in protecting Sharna at the best of times...
A mind, unlike a
body, has no inherent size or shape. A point of view would be a literal point if
the person concerned didn’t have a strong mental image of their own body to
provide a form. Wufei, falling deeper into trance, wasn’t just forgetting his
body; he was actively rejecting it....illusion...
him start to slide through the net, Sharna panicked for real... and
For an instant, Wufei’s disembodied mind was almost
crushed between two magics, the chain-spell keeping him isolated within his body
and the improvised web hauling him up out of trance, before something gave and
he felt himself spin free. Instead of the quiet, dark peace he’d expected, there
was a sudden crashing flood of sensation, light and sound and a strange sort of
pressure coming from concentrations of energy, disorienting him; then he
steadied, bobbing like a tethered balloon, and found himself looking down at his
own blank face from about three feet up.
If he’d had a throat to do it
with, he would have swallowed. He pulled me all the way out?! Well...
that didn’t go as either of us planned!
He could see himself--
self, he supposed was an appropriate term, lifting translucent
hands that glowed greenish-white and looking wonderingly at them. Sharna’s
nauseating energy was everywhere, too, a darker, uglier green than he was; a
faint lattice woven through the walls of the chamber, a solid mass seething
around the stone image looming over the altar, fading tangled strands falling
away from his disembodied self, and a stronger concentration spreading from the
chain around his neck to surround his body, looking like matted cobwebs with a
ragged hole torn in them. The ‘tethered balloon’ thought had been surprisingly
apt, because his floating self was tethered to his body by a thin silver
tendril, threaded through the hole in the cobweb-spell... which was closing up
as he watched. He had barely a second to realise and feel uneasy before it
sealed itself, pinching off the shining tendril and setting him
he thought numbly, watching the drifting tendril as
it shrank, seeming to evaporate. The spell was designed to cut me off from
any links between myself and things outside my body... so it did. I might have
been able to get back into my body if I’d tried before the hole sealed, but
Somebody leaned into his field of vision, peering closely into
his body’s face, and he recognised the priest, looking seriously agitated. He
couldn’t help feeling a tinge of satisfaction at that. Ha. That’s ruffled his
composure, finally... hm. I seem to have achieved my aim, even if this isn’t
quite the way I was trying to do it!
He bobbed higher and turned
slightly, moving so that he could see more of the chamber. The soldiers don’t
look happy, either-- there's Vaijon! And the others! They weren’t
The sight of Karthan brought the subject of his lost links to
the dwarf and Nataku back to the forefront of his mind. If I could just talk
to him again... were the links destroyed, or just temporarily blocked? Can I
A faint tugging feeling made him focus his
attention back onto himself, and he raised an insubstantial eyebrow as three
hair-fine threads spun out of his glowing self. It seems the desire is the
act, in this state-- wait. Three?
Frowning, he watched one of the threads
drift tentatively towards Karthan, while the other two stretched out towards one
of the walls, looping and tangling around each other. I presume Nataku is in
he thought, puzzled, but why two threads?
musing was cut short as the first thread reached Karthan and immediately snapped
taut, thickening. --fei! Wufei! Please, damn it, hear me, can you hear, are
Karthan! Are you all right? I--
momentary rush of emotion, relief and joy and hope and fear all jumbled
together, and then it was as if Karthan had bundled five minutes’ worth of
explanation into a single mass and thrown it at him.--use the link
lend me your power I’ve borrowed your healing in the past I should be able to
borrow your strength! I can borrow strength break free do something at least
distract them buy time--
--and everything blurred as the link pulled
tighter and snapped him into Karthan’s body.
them, why did they have to stand up again?
Vaijon fretted, craning his neck
and stretching up on tiptoe. I can’t see, damn it! Sir Wufei stopped
moving again and now they’re all panicking but I can’t tell
Karthan jerked violently next to him, rattling the
chains binding him to the wall, and there was a faint crackling sound, like a
pinecone thrown into a fire. Vaijon glanced down, opening his mouth
automatically to ask if something was wrong, and then flinched back as the dwarf
shuddered, jittering lines of white energy crawling over his
“...Did it work?” he whispered after a tense pause, when nothing
more seemed to be happening. “Are you borrowing his strength?” Can you get us
out of this?
The dwarf looked up at him, breathing heavily,
and Vaijon gulped as he saw the same greenish-white fire burning in his eyes
that he’d seen in the demon’s. He seemed dazed, blinking, but recovered quickly
“Karthan didn’t borrow my strength,” he said quietly, voice
not sounding quite right. “He borrowed me
* * * *
“Well, I know this is going to sound kind of flaky... but what about
Everyone else in the room stared at Duo, and he almost
snickered out loud at their wide-eyed looks of blank incomprehension.
he decided, that’s what they look like. Really surprised
After a couple of breaths, Quatre recovered his composure
and cleared his throat. “Duo... she’s one of the bad guys!”
no,” Duo argued seriously. “She just wasn’t on our side. Look, OZ sucked, I’m
not going to argue about that, but the fact is that Kushrenada had perfectly
good motives. He wanted system-wide peace, and we can sure as hell agree with
that; it was his methods that we were arguing with.”
colonies into heavily-guarded prison states was a bad idea, yes,” Trowa muttered
is,” the braided teen continued doggedly,
“everything Une did, she did for Treize. Yes, she was so wound up in the idea of
getting results for him that she went over even his limits fairly often, but I
think that was usually when he hadn’t made the limits clear. So... he wanted
system-wide peace. This new organisation is going to be working for system-wide
peace, and you bet it’s going to have clearly defined limits! If we presented
this to her as ‘what Kushrenada would have wanted’, I bet she’d jump at the
chance to continue his dream, and we’ll never find anyone else who’ll be so
determined to succeed--"
A slight pause and minute widening of Duo's eyes
were the only warning the others had that something was wrong before he screamed
and curled forwards into a ball, wrapping his arms around his chest. The scream
trailed off into a pained whimper, and tears leaked from the corners of his
Heero grabbed his boyfriend into his arms. "Duo! What's wrong?!" He
only vaguely noticed Quatre slumping forwards in his chair, fist clenched over
his heart, before Duo's body jerked and his right hand spasmed, hitting the
Japanese teen in the jaw.
"...no, 'Fei, no, 'Fei, no, 'Fei..." Duo
chanted breathlessly, eyes glazed and unseeing.
"Heero! What's wrong with
him?" Relena asked anxiously, scattering folders over the floor as she scrambled
out of her chair and moved to Duo's other side. “Should I get the
"Hurts," Quatre gasped, pressing his face into Trowa’s chest as
the taller boy supported him. "Pain... not Duo's... Make it stop...
Suddenly, Duo calmed and relaxed, eyes fluttering closed
as he gasped for breath. Heero carefully pulled him out of his tight curl, hands
searching for any physical sign of what had happened but finding nothing except
a few muscle tremors and a fast heartbeat, slowing down now.
asked shakily, cupping Duo’s cheek gently. “What happened? Are you all
The braided boy’s eyes opened slightly and he raised his hand to
Heero's face, returning the caress before letting it fall back to the bed.
"S'okay..." he whispered to his stunned boyfriend, lying limp and apparently
exhausted. "Somethin’ hurt ‘Fei real bad, but it went away... an’ he didn’t. I
could still feel him for just a second after the pain stopped, an’ he felt
better. 'Fei's gonna be okay...” His eyes closed again, and his breathing slowed
Heero frowned, watching Duo until he was sure he really had
fallen asleep, then turned to look at the other people in the room. Relena
looked thoroughly lost. Quatre had straightened and was rubbing his chest,
relief and confusion clear on his face. A concerned Trowa hovered over his
lover, hands lightly stroking down his upper arms in
"Heero," Relena asked softly, touching his arm, "what just
happened? I thought..."
"Yes, Heero, what did
snapped, blue eyes locked on Duo's recumbent form.
Heero sighed. "I'm not
exactly sure," he replied, brushing Duo's hair off of his face. "Duo had a dream
He was interrupted as the door flew open and Dr. Modi and
two nurses rushed in.
"What has happened? We heard a scream!" the doctor
exclaimed, rushing to the bedside.
Heero shook his head, trying
desperately to think of some sort of convincing explanation, fast. I
certainly can't tell him that Duo is either hallucinating or receiving mental
messages from our lost friend!
He opened his mouth, not really sure what was
going to come out, but was saved from having to answer as Relena spoke
"Duo had a nightmare, doctor. We were talking, and I suppose he dozed
off. It's probably from all of the stress he's been under lately... the
accident, the surgery... He really isn’t comfortable in medical environments,
you know," she said with just the right mix of concern and calm, smiling at the
"Hmmm..." the doctor replied, checking Duo's pulse and peering
closely into his now-peaceful face. "That is understandable, yes. His pulse is
good, there's no fever..." He turned to Heero. "If young Mr. Maxwell has any
problem sleeping because of further nightmares, let the duty nurse know, Mr.
Yui. I'll leave orders on his chart for a mild sleeping aid to be administered
on request, just in case."
With a nod, he ushered the nurses out the
door, closing it behind himself as he left.
Heero sighed and flashed
Relena a small, thankful smile. Relena smiled back, then repeated the question
Heero was hoping no one would return to.
"Okay, Heero. What the
Heero ran a hand through his messy hair.
"Duo thinks Wufei is alive in some sort of alternate dimension, and that they
were in contact last night as he dreamed." He turned slightly to glare at
Quatre, remembering how Duo had reacted to the Arab pilot’s earlier stubborn
insistence that Wufei had to be dead. "And I believe him."
that's... not possible," Relena said, shaking her head. "Alternate dimensions
are science fiction! Surely you and Duo don't really..."
"Yes, we do,"
the Japanese teen said stubbornly. "Space colonies and feasible energy weapons
were considered 'science fiction' not all that long ago. According to the
doctors, there’s one particular theory they accept regarding alternate
dimensions. They explained it as being like a pair of trousers with an infinite
number of legs. The massive amounts of energy released when that experimental
weapon backfired blew a temporary hole in our leg, then pulled Wufei out.
According to their theory, he would end up in a similar dimension to the one he
left, so he’d be able to survive, and according to my
theory, if some of
that energy stayed with him it might act as a connection back here, making it
plausible for him to be able to contact this dimension, and Duo, who he has
strong ties to." Heero turned his glare on the blonde girl, daring her to
"But--" she persisted.
"No... it has to be true," Quatre
said, awe in his voice. "That wasn't
Duo's pain! It felt like
"'Felt like Wufei'?" Heero asked, blinking at the unexpected
“All the people I can feel are different,” Quatre explained,
still rubbing his chest. “It's easiest to express as flavours, I think. Trowa is
like... melon, cool and refreshing. You're like strong peppermint with a
metallic undertone. Duo is complicated, bitter chocolate and sweet orange and a
little salt. Wufei is completely
different to him -- warm spice and musk
-- and that's what I was 'feeling' just now. And even though it was strong, it
was tenuous, as if very far away or going through a filter."
the 'alternate dimension' theory," Trowa put in quietly. Seeing Relena’s
confused expression, he explained further. "If you think of Duo as a receiver,
rebroadcasting the 'signal' from Wufei, it makes sense that it would be
dampened. Like the difference between sitting in the front row of the audience
at the orchestra, and listening to the same musical piece on a stereo." He
shrugged. "It really is the only explanation, unless you want to blame it on
both Duo and Quatre hallucinating the same thing at the same time, without the
benefit of mind-altering drugs. That seems a lot less likely to me than the
Doctors' whole 'Trousers of Time' theory... no matter how confused we were the
first time they tried to explain it."
Relena opened and closed her mouth
a few times, speechless, then shook her head and threw up her hands in
surrender. "All right... I’m outnumbered and out-argued, and... well, I want to
believe it too, I suppose! So. We have reason to believe that Chang Wufei is in
some alternate dimension, alive and, uh, at least semi-well and probably getting
“Well put,” Trowa said dryly, going down on one knee to help her
pick up her scattered documents.
“It’s rather a vague reassurance, but
since we’re hardly going to get postcards I suppose it will have to do to take
that particular load off all our minds,” she muttered, sounding a little
stressed. “And I really don’t think it’s a good idea for me to think about this
too much until after I’ve had some time to let it sink in... slowly. So,
gentlemen, if you think we can still concentrate, shall we finish hammering out
these ideas -- quietly
, without waking Duo? I have to have
to present as a middle-ground view in the council session
* * * * *Are you all right?
urgently, feeling oddly off-balance in the shorter, heavier body. Karthan?
Are you there?!
came the tentative answer, and he closed
his-- Karthan's-- the body’s eyes, feeling immensely relieved.Gods, I
thought I’d knocked you out of your body when I slammed in!
I think you
just knocked me further in, or something,
Karthan replied, seemingly
regaining his composure. You know, if you’d asked me yesterday what I thought
the possible consequences of our link might be, this would not have been
one of them. And may I say how very glad I am that you’re not dead?
very nearly was,
popped out before Wufei could smother the thought, and he
felt the dwarf’s shock as the closeness between their minds let the rest of the
information leak over, telling him exactly what Wufei had been about to do to
himself. Cursing inwardly, he tried to close off his thoughts, with limited
success. He could feel Karthan’s solid, warm personality pressed close against
his, like Duo’s presence next to him in bed on a cold night when the memories
bred nightmares and one or both of them needed company, and there was a flicker
of surprise and embarrassment as that thought made it across too. Then a
sympathetic wince at his
curtly, angry at himself at this sudden lack of control, breaching his mental
privacy. (--the only sort of privacy there is sometimes in a close-knit clan
or a small safehouse and I value mine so much--
) He was uncomfortably aware
of the few flickers of emotion and image that were trickling across to him from
Karthan’s thoughts; there was nothing clear yet but he was sure that would
change, and the thought of listening to someone else’s private thoughts was
almost as bad as having someone else listen to his. I don’t think I can go
back to my body, but my link to Nataku is back now. I can go there and use our
link to loan you--
Karthan interrupted firmly, nervous but
determined. This is going to need everything you’ve got, not just brute
strength, and I have no idea of how to use your other powers, like that armour
and the extending punch.
Neither do I! It just happens!
thinking it feels good somehow but it scares me sometimes--
what if it doesn’t ‘just happen’ for me? Besides which, I’m no better
than average at fighting unarmed. If you stay in my body and use it to fight, I
think we stand a better chance of survival.
(--if I fail we die my
) We can try to keep our thoughts separate, and just... do our
best to ignore whatever we can’t hold in.
(--seen some already in dreams
-- honourable man trust him keep his secrets--
Wufei thought back slowly, convinced more by the ‘leaked’ thoughts than by what
Karthan had said intentionally. I’ll try.
(--didn’t happen when we
were together in Nataku wonder why--
)You’ve got a point, that is
strange. Maybe because we were both still linked to our own bodies? Like having
Wufei requested grimly, and took a
firm grip on the chains holding them to the wall.
He’d hoped that one
quick yank would break the chains loose from their attachment point, leaving
him/them with a short length hanging from each wrist, useful as an improvised
weapon until he got his hands on something better; instead, the stone wall
cracked and the ringbolt both chains were fastened to pulled out. Keeping one
eye on the agitated group at the other end of the chamber, watching for the
first signs that what he was doing had been noticed, he frowned as he picked it
up, intending to twist the links free -- nearly dropped it as the frown felt
, distracting him -- caught it again, fumbled as he tried to get
the right grip with shorter, wider hands than he was used to, swore
Karthan’s mental laughter brought him up short. Don’t
complain! I’d rather have a couple of fumbles getting loose than not be able to
get loose at all!
Wufei grinned sheepishly, and nearly dropped the
ringbolt again. Your beard tickles every time I move my-- your-- every
time I change expression!
Not once you get used to it, it doesn’t.
)I have no intention of staying here long enough to
get used to it!
Taking a deep breath, resisting a hysterical urge to laugh
as the damned beard tickled him again
, he wrenched the ringbolt out of
shape and pulled the chains loose. “It’s a start,” he muttered, and blinked as
the voice came out strangely, Karthan’s deeper pitch blended with his own
quicker, sharper delivery.
“Uh... Karthan?” Jens said tentatively,
staring at him wide-eyed. “How did you...”Only Vaijon knew what I was
Karthan informed him quickly. The others were too far away to
reach with a whisper and I didn’t want to be overheard--
Wufei opened his mouth to explain, realised exactly how odd anything he could
say would sound -- anything brief, anyway, and he didn’t have time
anything detailed -- and closed it again. “Vaijon, you explain,” he muttered,
stretching up to reach the manacles on the blond knight-probationer’s wrists. “I
think I’m going to be busy-- Gods damn it, don’t I have enough problems with
being short at the best of times?!”Hey, I’m tall by dwarven
Karthan shot back. (--used to get in trouble for growing out
of my shirts and now he wishes I’d done it more?--
face colouring. “Here,” he said, voice trembling with suppressed laughter, and
slid down the wall into a crouch, bracing one leg for Wufei/Karthan to use as a
step. He grunted slightly as the dwarf’s not inconsiderable weight came down on
his thigh, but held steady. Jens’s explanation was delayed again for him to
watch in fascination as Karthan’s stubby fingers pried carefully at the thick
iron cuffs, slowly bending the edges up far enough for him to get a secure grip
and snap the lock without bruising Vaijon’s arm. “Torframos,” he swore softly,
“it’s just like watching my father peel the rind off a cheese!”
Vaijon, before Jens has a heart attack,” Wufei said pointedly, snapping the
second lock and hopping down to the ground. “If I do it, it’s going to sound
like I’m speaking in the third person, and it’ll be very
An alarmed shout came from behind Wufei/Karthan, and Vaijon’s
head snapped up to look, awe and laughter vanishing from his expression. “I’ll
explain, and find some way to get the others loose,” he said, looking down at
his burned, useless hand with a frustrated grimace. “You have something else to
[With a puff of orange smoke and a
sprinkling of Official Pseudo-Biblical Chroniclerereth Sparkly Dust, Dogmatix
appears in the middle of the lounge, balanced precariously on a rickety soapbox.
The various inhabitants of the House of Bishounen Torment-- errr, Mel and
Christy’s quite nicely furnished home-- stop whatever they’re doing and stare,
with various expressions ranging from surprise to interest to ‘Oh god no,
they’re doing it AGAIN...’]
LEGOLAS: This had better be over in less than
twelve minutes, because that’s when ‘Bubblegum Crisis’ comes on and you’re in
front of the TV.
DUO: If you’d be quiet and let the Official
Chroniclerereth speak, please...? [He settles down to listen,
DOGMATIX: Err... I don’t think it’ll take-eth that long. Ahem.
Hear ye, hear ye! Here beginneth the Second Book of Eth, which continueth from
the First Book of Eth. Even though it’s really a scroll, not a book, and it’s
been written on the back of the first one to saveth parchment, so technically...
er, where was I? Oh! Yes, Second Book. Eth. And weep, for His Demonic Highness
be-eth captured, and lain uponeth the altar of the uncute younger broth-- ummm,
of Sharna, and attendeth to by the most vile icky priest.
WUFEI (scowling): I’m going to have to do something about
CHRISTY: Heero... go smiteth him with thine mighty beam
DUO: I secondeth that motion!
QUATRE: I do
admit... Sharna doth need smiting. Eth.
HEERO: Not you
DOGMATIX: May I go on-eth, please? Leggy’s starting to sharpen his
arrows... thanketh you. But lo, His Demonic Highness doth retreateth into
himself, and leaveth behind but an empty shell, and snatcheth a grim victory
from the grasping fingers of the icky, icky priest.
DUO: You could
calleth him something worse than ‘icky’, you know. Several
DOGMATIX: Well, I triedeth, but whenever I wroteth down
descriptive, it burnt a hole in the parchment.
SPIKE: Make it fast, bint. Bubblegum Crisis is on in eight minutes
DOGMATIX: I thought you liked the ‘eth’ thing! Eth.
like Priss better. Move it! ...eth.
being wroth, didst plungeth his hand-- er, well, icky green tentaclethes
anyway-- into the very being of one Chang Wufei, and proceededeth to rippeth out
His Demonic Highness’s soul! And everyone waseth very surprised. Even the icky
priest, and most of all Sharna himself, because-eth the big moron hadn’t meant
to do-eth that.
KRASHNARK: Heh. Twit.
DOGMATIX: And yea, His
Demonic Highness’s pain didst echoeth through the trouser leg of the universe
(size 57 times ten-to-the-bazillointh extra large-eth) and acrosseth the thread
that bindeth Wufei to one Duo Maxwell, who screamethed in pain, which much
alarmethed his comrades and one reformed Pink Princess. Said pain didst also
brusheth over the empath, who didst taste Wufei upon Duo’s scream, and no we
don’t mean that
way, hentais! Eth.
DUO: Hey, Q-bean kiss-ethed me
back in Chapter 4, so it’s not completely out of the questioneth!
(blushing): Those were special circumstances! Um, eth.
HEERO: Omae o
korosueth! ACK! It’s catching!
TROWA: ...... (Eth.)
(talking faster, one eye on the clock): And so was Wufei casteth out of his
body, and trapped thus, bereft of host and home. But all was not losteth, nay!
For Karthan didst calleth out to His Demonic Highness, and thus were the two
joined in one, and Wufei spake unto Vaijon, and reassureth their erstwhile
friend who’d finally gotten the flagpole out of his ass that everything was
fine. Eth. Then with his demonic strength didst Wufei breaketh the bonds holding
Vaijon, and lo, hope shone-eth upon the company once more.
minutes. And if I
catch it, I’ll shoot you whether you’re in front of the
TV or not.
DOGMATIX: Eep! Here endeth the Second Book, or Scroll, or
Second Side of the Scroll, whatever, of Eth. Eth. Bye!
[Another puff of
smoke and sprinkling of glitter, and she’s gone.]
ARDETH: Legolas, you
have to admit it’s kind of fun.
SPIKE: Yeah, it grows on you... like
athlete’s foot, judging by how contagious it is!
‘SCYTHE: Krashnark, I may have to do something about
that brother of yours... he’s beginning to annoy me.
KRASHNARK: Join the
club. And I
am going to do something about him, so hands
‘SCYTHE: You’re missing the point. The last time I got annoyed,
Krakatoa went ‘boom’... eth.
DUO: That was you? Cooleth!
Wonderful. Not only do I have two gods in my life acting like obsessed stalkers,
there’s also a demi-god of Death with poor impulse control. Spike, where do you
buy your vodka? I have a feeling I’m going to need to place a bulk order...