Duo had successfully managed to infiltrate the terrorists and was now in their command center, absently running his hand over the Uzi he was holding as he steeled himself for the next stage of the plan. He licked his lips nervously under the cloth bandanna tied to his face and fought the urge to reach under his shirt and scratch his back where his trademark braid rubbed against his skin. By now, Trowa was already inside and in control of the monitor room. Quatre was already on his way in through the underground basement and Heero was waiting on standby with the dummy Gundam in case things turned sour. All Duo had to do was hang tight and wait for Wufei and Sally to show up and then it would be game time. Epyon de Telos wouldn't even know what hit them.
Just another stupid group of selfish bastards with an agenda, Duo thought and adjusted his sunglasses as he sneered beneath the mask. Hadn't they learned anything from the invasion four months ago? Clearly, the message didn't go as far as they'd hoped.
He sighed and patted the magazine of the Uzi, feeling the small score mark he'd made to indicate the magazine with blanks. Truth was, there was a part of him that was elated someone had dared to do this. He fought hard for peace and he knew he'd more than earned it, but there was this part of him that came to life in conflict. On some level, he'd been missing that thrill, that rush of adrenaline that came from battle. It bothered him a little, but he figured the fact that it bothered him was one of the things that made him different from these Epyon de Telos morons. Sure, he was a bit crazy back when he made that first hell-bent for leather trip to Earth with Deathscythe, but he'd matured a lot since then and as much as he missed the rush, he could live without it.
Wufei and Sally finally arrived at the doors, both carrying briefcases. They were ushered into the room slowly and searched for weapons.
"Is it all there?" the leader asked, his voice trembling a little with anxiety. These guys may have been former military and were decent enough to get this far, but they were clearly scared. Not good. In Duo's experience, scared people tended to be less than predictable and might do something stupid.
"It's all here," Sally replied firmly and started to raise one of the briefcases as the signal to move.
Duo snapped his Uzi up and fired three bursts, satisfied to see fake blood and cloth exploding off her shirt. It just wouldn't be believable without those beautiful little squibs. Wufei dove to the side into a roll and then took off down the hallway in the resulting confusion, disappearing from sight.
"What the hell is wrong with you?" shrieked one of the terrorists, knocking the gun out of Duo's hands.
"She looked like she was going for a weapon!" Duo protested loudly as another terrorist grabbed him bodily and wrenched his arms behind his back. He felt a pinch as the man tied his hands together with a plastic zip tie and winced. He was hoping they'd use rope or nylon – plastic was harder to get off.
"You idiot!" the leader snapped, shaking bodily. The man was terrified, completely and utterly terrified. "No one was supposed to get hurt!"
"How was I supposed to know she didn't have a gun?" Duo shouted back. It was easy to fake the jittery ticks of a paranoid terrorist. He'd been one long enough to know how it looked and sounded.
"Now what do we do, boss?" The terrorist who had taken Duo's gun gave their leader a deeply perturbed look.
The leader of Epyon de Telos ran a shaking hand through his hair and sat down slowly. "Okay," he murmured, taking a few calming breaths. "We're going to go ahead and say we've received the ransom money, but we need the confirmation that our brothers in arms have been freed. That other agent won't be a problem. We'll find him on the cameras. He's got nowhere to run."
"What about him?" asked the man holding Duo.
The leader pushed his sunglasses up on his nose and stood. "Get him out of my sight. We'll deal with him later."
One of the terrorists, a tall man with pale, almost white hair and mirrored sunglasses, stepped forward and twitched his gun in the direction of the hall.
Duo paused, struck by a sense of familiarity. It couldn't be! Then, the terrorist behind Duo shoved him in the shoulder causing him to stumble a little, but he recovered quick and started walking after the fair-haired man.
Duo grimaced under his mask, staring at the man's back as they walked down the hallway. Could it really be Zechs, back from the proverbial dead again?
The height and hair color seemed about right, and the man's movements were those of a man who was completely comfortable with his weapon, a professional in every sense. But according to Duo's sources, the former Lightning Baron had been assigned to Mars after the invasion ended as a Preventer. It wasn't very likely that he'd be able to make the journey back here that quickly. Still, there was a chance it could be him and it'd be nice to have another friendly around.
"Let's put him in the room with the hostages," the pale-haired man piped up suddenly, instantly dashing Duo's hopes. The voice was completely unfamiliar: it sounded too young, much too young, and nothing at all like Zechs.
So much for wishful thinking, Duo mused and inwardly cursed – if this guy wasn't Zechs and wasn't with Epyon de Telos, then that could only mean he was a hostile of some sort, most likely an assassin, and one of the hostages was his target.
Duo had made a point of taking a look at the guest list on the way down from L2. All of the hostages were politically connected or active in some way and there were quite a few major business moguls in there, including the guy who was bankrolling much of the new technology being developed for the Mars Terraforming project. Every single one of them had numerous enemies. A crackpot with enough money and a real axe to grind could take advantage of a situation like this to slip an assassin in with the terrorists and conveniently take care of their problems.
And here they were, headed straight for the hostages.
Duo had two words for this sort of situation: not good.
They turned a corner that led deeper into the castle, closer to state function rooms that Duo barely remembered from his last visit, and slowly approached a set of double doors, guarded by two of the terrorists.
"What's going on?" one of them called out, lowering his gun. "Did we get it?"
"Nah, not yet. There was a bit of an accident," the man behind Duo replied, shoving him forward. "Seems this guy has an itchy trigger finger. Boss wants him out of the way for a while, so we figured we'd drop him off here and let him sweat a bit with the hostages."
The two terrorists guarding the door chuckled a bit and one dryly commented, "Yeah, they're real terrifying, those politicians!"
"Only to anyone who is afraid of a little hot air," the other chortled, turning to unlock the doors.
Suddenly, there was a heavy thud and the familiar clatter of a gun hitting the ground from behind Duo and the face of the terrorist he was looking at froze in horror, a mere half-second before a throwing knife buried itself to hilt in the man's throat. The terrorist fell back with a gurgle, falling against the door. Startled, the other terrorist scrambled to the side, fumbling to raise his gun, but he was not fast enough and shortly slumped to the ground, a throwing knife sticking out of his right eye. Then, the pale-haired man seemed to glide past Duo like a wraith and quietly went about the task of retrieving his knives.
Duo remained utterly still – he wasn't stupid. This guy, whoever he was, just took out three grown men and could have gone after Duo, but didn't. This was clearly a pro and Duo wasn't about to push his luck with this guy any further.
"You're with the Preventers," the pale-haired man said at last, standing. "That's the only reason you're still alive."
"Then you know I'm not alone," Duo replied tersely, a bit irritated that the guy had made him as a Preventer so quick. "Back-up's on its way."
The pale-haired man stared at him for a moment, the mirrored lenses and cloth mask making it impossible to determine his expression. "It's of no concern to me," he said, finally, and grabbed Duo by the upper arm, guiding him to the doors.
As soon as the doors were open, Duo took mental stock of the hostages in the room, looking for friendly faces as his captor shoved him forward.
"Where is Kaiba?" the pale-haired man asked, loudly.
There was silence.
Duo hoped this Kaiba fellow was smart enough to keep his head down and hoped he'd have enough time to get the hidden razor in his belt and free himself before this pro got impatient.
"I'm Kaiba," a strong voice called from the back. A stern-looking middle-aged man pushed his way forward, with what appeared to be his children in tow. Gods, two of them were just kids and couldn't have been older than Mariemeia.
Duo worked the razor free, careful not to make it obvious what he was doing.
"Arrangements have been made for your freedom and that of your family. Please, come with me. There isn't much time," the pale-haired man said.
Duo nearly dropped the razor in shock and cursed again, fumbling the blade. A rescue? Someone paid a pro to come in and extract a family? That sounded too good to be true. He had to stall them: "You idiot, the Preventers are already on their way in – this will all be over soon anyway!"
Kaiba looked like he was about to say something and step back, but a hand on his arm stopped him.
Duo used the distraction to launch a renewed attack against the tie, mentally cursing zip ties.
"Don't worry about us, Kaiba-san," Relena said formally, withdrawing her hand. "The Preventers are working on getting us out right now. We'll be right behind you."
Her gaze lingered on the youngest boy for a moment and flickered to Duo.
"I understand," Kaiba piped up, his face wan as he picked up his youngest son and stepped towards the pale-haired man. "Seiji, close your eyes and don't open them until I tell you to."
The little boy immediately shut his eyes, nodding in fright.
"This way," the man said, moving back towards the doors, "Quickly, quickly!"
They disappeared through the doors just as Duo finished sawing through the last of the plastic. Cursing loudly, he tore off his hat and mask and drew out one of the handguns he'd concealed in his jacket.
Lady Une stepped forward, her face grim, and reached into her purse. "I think you'll need this, Preventer," she said, holding out a small transmitter – no doubt it was a secure line and she'd been using it to transmit data on Epyon de Telos from the start.
Duo nodded gratefully, and immediately bolted for the doors. "Preventer Four to all agents: hostages in ballroom: situation green," he said, hopping over the bodies. "Unknown hostile involved, cover compromised. In pursuit now."
The pro hadn't gotten very far, only to the end of the hallway – Kaiba and his children were slowing him down significantly.
Clicking off the transmitter and raising his gun, Duo shouted, "Wait! This is the Preventers, stop where you are!"
The pale-haired man made a sudden sharp gesture with his hand and the hallway itself seemed to stretch with a nauseating lurch, causing Duo to stumble. When he looked up, they were gone.
"What... what in the hell was that?" he murmured.
AN: If you're expecting instant Sailor senshi and magical hijinks, you're reading the wrong fanfiction. Additionally, if you were hoping to see a lot of romance, you will be sorely disappointed. This is going to stick very closely to an adveture drama/supernatural mystery story. Hopefully, though, you'll enjoy the end result, even if the build up isn't as quick and it's not beating you over the head with pairings.
Individual chapter notes:
Works around the Preventer 5 incident at the end of the Episode Zero manga, so this essentially springboards right off of the unfinished canon.
The pale-haired man as the unidentified but very familiar looking Epyon de Telos "definitely possibly a secret agent" - his identity will remain a mystery for a while. I always did find it really improbable that it'd be Zechs, considering Zechs was on his way to Mars with Noin at the end of Endless Waltz.
Why Kaiba? Kaiba Corp is a massive international industrial civilian corporation with technology that doesn't fit Sailor Moon's primary time but seems more in line with what would be necessary to form the foundations of the Gundam Wing technology. Additionally, as much as Seto denies it, he has strong supernatural connections. This makes even potential descendants of either him or his brother ideal for attracting weird enough things to pique the interest of the Sailor senshi. At the same time, it's also a really cool way to slowly open the eyes of the Gundam Wing cast to supernatural stuff without rubbing everyone's faces in it straight up.
That being said, stick around and enjoy the story.