"...the Trousers of Time..."
The battle was rapidly descending into a farce as the Gundam boys' opponents (in their uncomfortably similar suits) swapped wisecracks and insults over the com. Another com window had popped open, showing that the girl with the bad British accent was wearing glasses, and looked Chinese. Only Trowa's opponent was quiet and still anonymous.
< < You know, it's hardly polite to be ogling we young ladies without giving us the chance to ogle back, > > the maybe-Chinese girl said cheerfully. < < Some of you chaps sound rather cute! > >
< < Jay, we're supposed to be trying to kill them, not date them, > > groaned the girl who'd made the 'tits' joke, rolling her eyes.
< < Well, maybe we can convince them to desert! Come to the light side, boys, there aren't enough eligible hunks over here... > >
< < We're living on a base full of eligible men, > > the auburn haired girl said coldly as her Gundam continued to rain blows down on Deathscythe. < < And women, too. > >
< < Yes, well, one has to admit you have a point... but dash it all, chaps, half of them are scared stiff of us! > > Jay complained, accent thickening momentarily.
< < If you'd stop answering them before they can say anything, they wouldn't be scared, > > a cold male voice cut in.
< < Well, at least I don't get my partners at gunpoint! > >
< < Christy and I haven't done that in weeks, > > the boy retorted, com window opening to show a pale face with piercing blue eyes glittering under messy chestnut bangs. < < Can we get on with the damn battle, yet? > >
< < I resent that, Asuka. I didn't need to use a gun; he just liked it. > > The auburn haired girl smirked evilly for a moment, then returned to her deadpan expression. < < Besides, it was a mission. > >
< < Was he any good? > > Dan asked curiously.
< < I wouldn't know. I killed him, Dan, I didn't fuck him. Getting back to Jay's little problem, I think I can fix it. If one of you five will date Jay, we'll let you live. How about it? > >
< < Not me, > > Trowa said, flicking open his own com window. < < I'm taken. > >
< < Yeah! By me! > > Quatre blurted out, appearing onscreen with an indignant expression.
< < Don't look at me, > > Duo put in a little shakily, also appearing onscreen. < < I don't even like girls that way. > >
*blink*blink* Really? Heero and Wufei thought, simultaneously.
< < Too bad, > > Christy said flatly, landing a solid blow that sent Deathscythe staggering.
< < Oi! You dinged my Deathscythe! > > Duo howled, retaliating.
< < Hey! You dinged my Hades! > > she yelped, abruptly losing her impassive expression.
< < Is that anything like 'you sank my battleship'? > > the third girl asked, snickering.
< < Shut up, Mel, > > Christy growled. < < I'm gonna sink his! > >
Dan sighed. < < Children, children... no fighting over the games! > >
< < Bite me, Dan. > >
< < Later, dear. I'm a little busy right now, > > he said politely, parrying Wing's beam sabre with his own.
< < Jay, are you actually going to hit yours any time soon, or are you two just going to dance around each other all day? > > Mel asked, punching at Nataku with her Gundam's telescopic arm. < < Shall I ask Christy to play you a waltz? > >
< < I just thought that, since I have the home ground advantage, it would be more sporting to let him have the first blow, what? > > Jay responded. < < He's not cooperating. While we're at it, by the way, what about you other two? Either of you want to date me? > >
< < No, > > Heero said bluntly, not opening a com window.
< < Goodness! A whole word from the Wanking Wonder! Already finished in there? Damn that was quick. Feel better now? > > Dan asked solicitously.
< < Oh, I see... he doesn't require a girlfriend, > > Jay said mournfully. < < How about you, in the spiffy red-white-and-blue with green and gold accents? Bright enough for you? > >
< < Wang ba tan! > > Wufei swore, distracted just long enough for Mel to land a solid hit.
< < That sounded like a 'no'. Dateless again... hm. Was that Mongolian, Mel? > >
< < No, it was Han. 'Turtle egg' yourself, sugar-pie! > >
< < Would you please insult us in a language I can speak? > > Christy asked coldly. < < Firman, Quabalic, Theran, Gaulish or Theodorian I can handle. I don't speak Han, Mongolian, Nipponese or Maori. Yet. > >
< < You forgot Glacin, > > Asuka put in, indifferently.
< < Ah, ma chèrie! > > Dan carolled. < < Voulez-vous coucher avec moi? > >
< < No. > >
< < Damn! I just can't win... > >
< < Try Asuka's method, > > Mel advised. < < Or you could just make friends with yourself in your COCKpit, like your opponent... > >
A new com window popped up, with Heero glaring out of it. < < Can we get off the 'COCKpit' joke?!? > > he snarled. < < I do NOT... WANK... in my GUNDAM! > >
< < Glad to hear it, old boy. It'd be a right horror to clean... Where do you wank, then? > > Jay smiled happily at him, then blinked in surprise as her own opponent gasped and turned white.
Quatre had been jittery ever since he'd felt the 'not nice, and not happy' presence approaching, and his mood hadn't been improved by discovering it was a mildly psychotic girl called Christy. That was why he hadn't taken the first shot against Jay; at least half of his attention was on the matte-black Deathscythe clone facing off against Duo, and he didn't want to go into battle distracted if he could help it. He'd gradually started to relax, though, because she seemed to lighten up as the fight progressed; some of the oppressive darkness lifted from his perception of her, and she began to feel less dangerous.
Then she twitched, as if something had caught her attention, and he felt something cold and violent take over her soul.
< < DUO! LOOK OUT! > >
Duo didn't have time to react as rocket launchers popped out of Hades's shoulders and fired, at point blank range.
There was an immense explosion somewhere behind him, and he peeked out from behind his bangs. I'm not dead? Did she miss?
< < Don't move, > > Christy said, eyes glittering like ice, and fired another pair of rockets over Deathscythe's shoulders. < < We've got company. 12 o'clock. > > Then she fired her boosters and shot over him in a cloud of sand.
< < Fuck. Theos, > > Asuka snapped, breaking away from Heavyarms and diving for his gatling.
< < How'd they get this far inside the perimeter? > > Dan growled, tapping at controls and quickly scanning the results. < < Shit... there's a lot. > >
< < Charon's Ferry is now boarding, > > an icy voice snarled out over Hades's external speakers as it landed on the other side of some large sand dunes. < < Tickets please! > >
< < Hoooo boy, > > Mel said, eyes widening. < < That ain't Christy. Ladies and gentlemen, Persephone, aka Awe Inspiring Bringer of Destruction, is in the Gundam. Shall we just sit this one out? > >
< < Yoicks! Tally-ho! View halloo! > > Jay yelped gleefully, bounding towards the new fight.
< < That's a 'no', > > Dan sighed.
< < Got it, > > Mel sighed, then looked up at the Gundam boys with a long-suffering expression. < < Duty calls, dear hearts. You seem to be fairly honourable opponents... at least, you haven't been spouting Theo propaganda at us, like we usually get. Why don't you just stay here while we go greet our other uninvited guests? We'll get back to you in a couple of minutes. > >
< < Right, > > Asuka snorted, as his Gundam turned to follow Jay's. < < Normal trashing will resume as soon as possible. > >
< < Um... okay? > > Quatre said uncertainly.
< < Any day now, people, > > Christy spat venomously. < < There's nearly two hundred here, and while I am that good, I don't want them messing up my enamel-- OOF! > > Hades's head and shoulders, still visible over the dunes, had suddenly acquired a couple of clinging mobile suits; they wobbled together for a moment, before slowly tilting to the side and vanishing from sight.
< < Ow. > >
< < She's changed back again! > > Quatre whimpered, clutching at his head. < < I'm getting a migraine... > >
< < Try it from my end, kiddo, > > Christy moaned, rubbing at her head as her com window cleared of static. < < Who's got aspirin? > >
Jay's Gundam reached the top of the dunes and sprang forward. < < Wotcher! Kill enemy shiny things! Oh, damn, some of them are already running away... dickless bastards! > >
< < Oh, for gods' sake, Jay, get a new war cry! That one's getting old, > > Christy grumbled.
< < Really? I'll consider it. Oh, I say, Dan, there's a bally great pile of Theos over here, nicely clumped up. You can get them all with one shot of your big bangy thing! > >
< < Big bangy thing? > > Dan almost winced.
< < I'm UNDER them! Let me get out first! > > Christy yelped.
< < But then they won't be bunched up any more, > > Jay said reasonably.
< < My heart bleeds. Really. > > A smallish mobile suit appeared briefly over the dunes, arching in a beautiful involuntary parabola, with its arms and legs flailing.
< < Ooh, look! Mosh pit! > > Dan said gleefully, following Asuka over the top.
< < Jump on me and you die. I'm serious. > >
< < Aww... but I thought you liked me on top... > >
< < In your dreams, Dan, > > Christy snapped.
< < Will you two cut it out? > > Asuka snapped.
< < Jealous, are we? Wanna be in the middle? > > Dan returned, smirking.
< < Jealous... no. The middle... has possibilities, > > Asuka countered coldly, filling a Theo suit with bullets. < < Just fight, Dan. > >
< < Yes Asuka, sir! > > he said, mock saluting.
The five Gundam pilots-- er, the newly arrived ones-- er, the ones who were all boys and currently very confused, walked their Gundums to the top of the dune and watched.
< < 'Kill... enemy... shiny things'? > > Wufei said slowly.
< < 'Big bangy thing'? > > Heero muttered.
< < This is very weird, > > Quatre said, probably making the understatement of his life. < < Should we help? > >
< < Which side? > > Trowa asked. < < The Gundams aren't from the colonies, or we'd know about them... at least, we should. But they're fighting what look like a pack of OZ's Leo and Aries suits... though the paint jobs are a little strange. And I don't recognize the smaller model. > >
< < The really strange thing is the fact that before they started their nonsense, they seemed just as surprised to see us as we were to see them, > > Wufei commented. < < I can imagine us being surprised if this was their first battle, but we've been rather public over the last two years. > >
< < It certainly doesn't look like this is their first battle, > > Heero said dryly, watching the carnage below.
The large pile of brightly coloured mobile suits on Hades was rapidly dissolving as Mel's Gundam hacked into them with a thermal blade that looked like a short handled, double headed axe. Those she didn't hit, scrambled off and ran, until there were only five left.
< < Hey, Christy, I've got an idea. Make like a golf tee! > > Mel said gleefully, spinning her thermal blade around to strike with the flat. < < FORE! > >
A red and blue Leo arced away, shedding limbs.
< < Bad luck, Mel; it's landed in a sand trap, > > Dan said sympathetically, slicing and dicing the suits around him.
< < At least there's no water hazard nearby. FORE! > >
< < Mel, back off! > > Christy ordered, squeezing her eyes shut. < < Shit, this is going to hurt... > >
< < No no no no no! > > Mel yelped, running away. < < Dammit, Christy, not the self destruct again! > >
Atop the dune, four Gundams turned to look at Wing.
< < Hn. > >
< < They're related. Definitely, > > Trowa muttered.
< < I heard that, > > Christy grumbled, then fired a pair of rockets and blew the last mobile suits to bits while they were still sitting on Hades's chest. Her com image fuzzed out completely for a second then gradually began to clear.
< < Ow, > > she muttered as Hades slowly staggered to its feet. < < I'm definitely going to need a new paint job... > >
< < Would you stop playing? > > Asuka cut in as he mowed down a group of Aries suits. < < I'm doing your job over here... > >
Hades flipped the bird at the red and black mech, then grabbed the nearest Aries and threw the suit over its shoulder.
< < I wanna program that gesture into Deathscythe, > > Duo muttered, then yelped. < < Heads up! Incoming! > >
< < Got it, > > Trowa said calmly, then shot the mobile suit out of the air.
< < Nice shot, > > Christy smirked.
< < Oh, I say! That was just like skeet shooting, > > Jay chortled, hacking through her opponents with gay abandon. < < PULL! > >
< < It's as good a way to get rid of them as any, > > Mel commented, tossing one of her opponents towards the audience; Trowa hit it with a missile this time.
< < FOUL! No terminally guided weapons allowed in skeet shooting! > >
'Don't Fear the Reaper' blasted out of Hades's speakers as Christy leapt into the thick of the fight, swinging her black scythe with surgical precision.
< < They're nuts, but they're good, > > Heero admitted.
< < Are you all right, Duo? > > Quatre asked. < < You've been pretty quiet... > >
< < Oh, I'm just peachy, > > the braided pilot groused. < < Really! I knew the whole Bermuda Triangle thing was a bad idea. We've been blasted into the fucking Twilight Zone and we were just fighting versions of us that seem to have stepped out of a bunch of funhouse mirrors but I'm just damn PEACHY, Quatre! > >
< < Ooh, the peanut gallery is restless today, > > Dan remarked.
< < We've never had a peanut gallery before, Dan. They're setting a precedent. Go with it, > > Mel advised. < < I have just one question, though, Duo-- it is Duo, right? > >
< < Yeah... > >
< < What the hell is the Bermuda Triangle? > >
< < There's a hot bath with my name on it back at the base, > > Christy sighed over the com, trudging back up the slope with her deactivated scythe slung over Hades's shoulder, < < and I can get to it as soon as we've dealt with you five. At this point, I don't really care whether we kill you or make friends. What's it going to be? > > Hades kicked half of a green and blue Aries out of the way and planted its feet solidly, waiting.
The last few stragglers from the attacking force were limping off over the horizon as the ten Gundams faced off again.
< < Personally, I want a nap, > > Mel put in, yawning hugely. < < Naps are good. > >
< < You always want a nap, Mel. > > Dan grinned and opened his mouth to continue, but Mel cut him off.
< < One word about 'beauty sleep' and you are dead, Martel. > >
< < ...Yes'm. > >
< < I want an icepack, > > Jay said mournfully, rubbing at her shoulder.
< < Dinner, > > Asuka muttered.
< < Right, we're agreed. We want this resolved quickly. Make nice or die, > > Mel summed up.
< < I don't think we should have been fighting, anyway! > > Quatre said earnestly. < < We-- > >
< < Ex-CUSE ME? > > Christy interrupted, glaring. < < You came here to attack our base; this goofball, > > she pointed at Duo, a gesture echoed by Hades, < < dings my Hades, and now you say we shouldn't be fighting?! What's wrong with you, boy?! > > she yelled, waving her glove encased arms. Hades's arms waved, too, nearly slapping Dan's Starthrasher in the face.
< < Um... Christy, > > Mel said sweetly as Starthrasher jumped back, < < you might want to switch off the waldoes if you're going to go all Theran and talk with your hands... > >
Christy (and Hades) flipped her off, then turned back to the other group. < < Well? Are we going to fight or what? > >
< < I vote for 'or what', > > Quatre said meekly, opening Sandrock's cockpit and stepping out.
< < Jeez, Quatre, one of these days that tactic is gonna backfire, > > Duo muttered, rubbing at his forehead. < < You'll come out with your hands up and get shot... > >
< < We're making nice, then? Suits me, > > Dan said cheerfully, opening up.
Trowa strolled out without a word.
< < Jolly good, chaps, that's the way! > > Jay said, shutting Dyscalculia down. She wavered for a moment as the fractured visions showered through her mind again, then her usual vague smile reappeared on her face. "Ooo. Interesting," she murmured, glimpsing a few bright image-shards, and walked out.
There was a short pause as everyone took in the splendour of her red velour bathrobe and bunny slippers.
< < I didn't know she was piloting in that, > > Mel muttered. < < Did you guys know she was piloting in that? > >
A pained noise emitted from Hades's speakers, followed by Christy's voice. < < Jay, have you ever heard of something called 'fashion'? > >
"Oh, yes," Jay said cheerfully. "Suits me, what?"
< < Of course, considering what we're piloting in, > > Mel broadcast, < < we really can't comment. Your turn, guys... > >
Grudgingly, Wufei released his harness and stepped out of Nataku.
< < You go next, Mel, > > Christy said.
< < Mel? > >
Pause. Mel sat, blank-faced, staring at her view screen.
< < Hel-looo, Mel, anybody in there? > > Christy sing-songed, waving one of Hades's hands in front of Mel's Gundam and then tapping it on the head with her deactivated scythe.
"Oooh... Please stop switching around like that," Quatre whimpered, rubbing at his temples. "It's very upsetting."
"You get used to it," Jay assured him.
"I don't think I want to..."
Mel blinked abruptly, then smiled and started to detach herself from the waldoes. < < Sorry. Wool gathering. > >
Stepping out, she grinned at Wing and Deathscythe, resplendent in short cut offs and her 'THEY DON'T PAY ME TO CARE' t-shirt. "Next?"
Duo stepped out, looking vastly uncomfortable. "Umm... hi."
< < You or me next? > > Christy asked Asuka.
< < Silly question, > > she muttered, wriggling out of the waldo gloves and detaching sensor pads from her skin. Before stepping-- uh, rollerblading out of the cockpit, she shifted Hades's stance slightly so that the Gundam was standing with one leg anglled outwards, toe dug into the ground. "Last call for interlopers," she called out as she pirouetted to a halt on the armoured "drawbridge". "Olly-olly-oxen-free!"
"Rollerblades?!" Quatre squeaked.
"Hey! You caught me indulging in a little recreational exercise, okay? I've piloted in them before," she sniffed, crossing her arms over 'Welcome to Hell! I'm Charon, your tour guide.'
There was a long pause before Heero stalked out of Wing, glaring.
There was another long pause.
Everyone turned to look at Asuka's looming Gundam.
"Asuka! This whole truce thing applies to you, too, y'know," Mel yelled. "Get out here so we can finish making nice and go home!"
"You were the one who wanted dinner," Dan pointed out.
There was another pause -- just long enough to make a point -- before Asuka stepped out. "Get this going, then," he scowled, peeling off his tanktop. "It's hot out here. Let's take this down to ground level."
"A trace of shade would be appreciated, yes," Jay muttered, squinting up at the cloudless sky.
Christy bladed to the edge of the platform and straight off. It was only a short drop to Hades's angled leg, and she picked up speed, blading smoothly towards the ground-- and then her eyes opened wide as something occurred to her.
*Whack* She performed a perfect face-plant as her wheels hit the sand and stopped moving.
"*spit* *spit* --it. No asphalt," she muttered, raising her head. Her tanktop had ridden up, displaying an impressive collection of scars on her back and her spine holster.
"Ah," Dan sighed in admiration. "Our top assassin... grace personified."
"You do realize that there's a wire to let yourself down by, right?" Mel asked, using hers.
"I'd give that landing an eight point five," Trowa said calmly, a trace of a smile tugging at his mouth as he descended.
Christy stood up and started dusting herself off as everyone else came down, then twitched. "Ooo... sand in the shorts," she muttered, wincing.
Quatre sidled over to Trowa and resisted the urge to clutch his arm. "You're taking this very calmly," he whispered.
Trowa glanced down at him and shrugged. "Whatever happened, happened," he replied. "We'll find out what we can do about it later; in the meantime, there's no point in worrying."
"I... wish I could make that work for me," Quatre said, smiling sadly, then looked past him. "Duo, are you--"
Duo went for Quatre's throat, but was blocked by Trowa. "'You're getting upset over nothing, Duo,'" he snarled, trying to wriggle out of the tall boy's hold. "'The Bermuda Triangle is a myth, Duo.' Myth THIS, Quatre!" he howled, waving one arm at their interested audience.
"Duo, calm down--" Heero started, moving forward; Duo ripped himself away from Trowa and spun to face him.
"You HAD to plot that damn course that way!" he snarled, pointing an accusing finger. "Optimum route, my ass! I sure as hell don't think we're gonna reach the target on schedule this time! Only Quatre's allowed to have bad feelings and have them taken seriously! Stupid Duo, he doesn't know anything! Duo no baka, stop overreacting!"
"Nipponese?" Mel muttered, blinking.
"Sounded Quabalic to me," Christy muttered back. "Why would anyone call Duo a young camel, though?"
"'Nobody vanished', you said! Bullshit! We all fucking vanished!"
"There, there," Jay said soothingly, walking over to Duo and hugging him. "Don't kill the empath. He feels sorry and it's not his fault, what? It's probably okay if you maim the other fellow, though."
Duo froze for a moment, startled, then looked at her. "Is that supposed to make me feel better?"
"Yes," she said earnestly, rubbing his back. "It's working, too."
"...suppose so," he said grudgingly, returning the hug; then he sat down on the sand and sulked. "It's confirmed," he grumbled. "I've died and gone to hell..."
"No you haven't," Christy said flatly. "I'm the landlord, and there's no room in the abyss." She turned to Jay as she walked back, and lowered her voice. "If you're done 'molesting' our guest--"
"Comforting, not molesting. There's a difference, what?"
"--whatever," Christy hissed. "Are you getting anything from them?"
"Well, they're awfully confused, and the one with the plait is very upset."
The Theran pilot sighed. "Something I can't get by listening to them. For example, are they confused good guys or confused bad guys? Are they Theodorians? Stuff like that! Things we can use to make decisions!"
"Oh." Raising her voice, Jay called out, "I say, chaps, are you Theodorians?" Without waiting for an answer, she turned back to Christy. "Nope! They never heard of them. They seem to be confused good guys, and fairly trustworthy... except that one." She pointed at Heero. "Don't let him near your Gundam unless you want to wake up and find Hades stripped for parts."
Christy glared. "Don't... even... THINK... about... it. "
Heero glared back, folding his arms. "I did it once. And that was in exceptional circumstances."
"Sheyeah," Duo muttered.
"I wouldn't, if I were you, even if 'exceptional circumstances' come up again," Mel advised him. "Christy developed a good security system for our Gundams and she tends to set hers on 'ginsu'." Rubbing reminiscently at her behind, she winced slightly.
"Are you ever going to stop whining about that?" Christy said impatiently. "At least it wasn't set on 'puree'."
"You could have set it on 'stun'," Mel sniffed. Christy shrugged.
"Shouldn't have been in Hades in the first place."
"You asked me to fetch you something!"
"Right... if anyone's going to get things moving along, it looks like it's going to be me," Dan said, stepping forward. "I'm Daniel Martel, from Greater Gaul; call me Dan. This is Starthrasher," he added proudly, gesturing towards his Gundam.
"Second on our list is Christina Stepanopolous, piloting Hades, a princess from the Atlantean Empire of Thera."
"You had to bring that up," Christy grumbled.
"Third we have Asuka, from Glacis," Dan continued, ignoring Christy's comment. "His Gundam is called Morkeleb. Don't fuck with him, he's a psychopath."
Asuka gave him a Look. "Hn."
"Pilot number four is Jarvia Vencedor--"
"Yes, it does mean Winner," Jay said cheerfully as Quatre opened his mouth.
"--a close relative of the Vaterean Matriarch and pilot of Dyscalculia."
"...a Gundam named 'the inability to do math'?" Wufei muttered.
"Well, it uses the Division by Zero System, don't'cha know."
"And last, but tallest, we have the Aotearoan Princess Melanie Tangaroa, piloting Taniwha."
"Well... pleased to meet you, everybody," Quatre faltered. ("No, you're not," Jay muttered.) "Your Highnesses."
Christy and Mel both winced. "I work very hard to stay clear of the 'Highness' stuff," Mel said. "Don't."
"And I get plenty of it when I visit my uncle," Christy grumbled.
"...eheh." Quatre cleared his throat. "Right. Well... our pilot 01, from L1, is Heero Yui. Pilot of Wing Gundam."
"L1? What's that?" Christy asked. "Never heard of it."
Quatre blinked. "One of the space colonies."
"Right, they're definitely not from here," Dan said, nodding. "We've got colonies on Ares and Selene, but not in space," he explained.
"Ummm... what are they?" Duo asked, looking up from his seat on the sand.
It was Dan's turn to blink. "Ares is the fourth planet out from the sun, named after the Theran god of war, and Selene is Firma's satellite."
"Right. That was clear," Wufei grumbled, squeezing his eyes shut and pinching the bridge of his nose. "What's Firma?"
"This planet, old chum," Jay said, pointing down. "Here. What do you chaps call it?"
"Earth?" Christy looked at him incredulously, then started sniggering. "Oh, that explains a lot. No wonder you're building colonies in space, if your planet is boring enough to be called 'Dirt'!"
End Warped Mirrors
 Firman, Quabalic, Theran, Gaulish, Theodorian, Han, Mongolian, Nipponese, Maori, Glacin: Real life equivalents are English, Arabic, Greek/Italian mix, French, Russian, Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, Maori, Danish.
 Ah, ma chèrie! Voulez-vous coucher avec moi?: Ah, my dear! Will you sleep with me?
 Persephone: Greek meaning "Awe inspiring" and "Bringer of Destruction". In mythology, wife of Hades, God of the Underworld.
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