Zechs Marquise flexed his hands over the controls of his mobile suit, Tallgeese. It was almost painful for him to fly it so slowly, but he dutifully flanked the three Apache series-9 attack helicopters that were skimming over the surface. How anyone can live out here is beyond me, he remarked to himself, watching the countryside flying past below him. Dreary didnt begin to describe how it felt to see the same open grasslands stretching to the horizon in any direction.
A beeping sound brought his attention back to the task at hand. Zechs smiled grimly. Target acquired. Im coming, Treize. He paused to brush imaginary specks of dust off his uniform as he always did before going into battle, before he flipped open the comm links to the rest of the attack force. Team Leader, this is Lightning. Ready to commence attack run.
There was a momentary pause before Unes voice returned over his earpiece, calm and cool, as always. Roger that, Lightning. Recommend you stay low to the ground on your approach.
Acknowledged. Zechs couldnt help a small smile as he flipped off the autopilot and felt the huge machine bucking under his hands momentarily. It only took him a few seconds to master it. Remember to stay back. Your entrance will be on the east side, near what will remain of the command post.
Roger. Commence your run on my mark. Three, two, one, mark.
Back in Helo-1, Une and Walker shared a smirk as they watched the huge suit take off, quickly dwindling to a white sparkle in the sky.
The Lightning Count smirked, crystal blue eyes glinting mercilessly as he watched fifteen shapes appear on his threat screen. Those fools. Fifteen! If a Gundam were to come here, these nitwits would deserve what they got! He increased to attack speed.
Tallgeese outclassed the defending Leos almost as greatly as a Gundam would have.
As Zechs charged up the Dober gun, he imagined the men in those suits torturing his Treize, locking him away in this awful place, humiliating him
For the Future! Tallgeese sped straight through the defenders, scattering them like so many leaves. Zechs pulled up sharply and executed a hairpin turn before firing on the unsuspecting suits from behind them, quickly incinerating five, while another suit fell to the ground, smoking. Zechs turned a blind eye on the escaping pilot he would leave it to Une to deal with anyone outside of a mobile suit.
The remaining nine suits were all firing on him, and Zechs growled as he was forced to dodge and evade multiple shots. His face broke into a snarl, though, as his threat monitor registered an incoming missile beacon. Damned bastards think theyre going to take *me* down so easily?! Hah! Tallgeese pulled a beam sabre as he closed on the other suits.
Zechs was distantly aware of the sound of an acquiring tracking beacon as he dodged straight into the melee. His speed would be the deciding factor; as long as none of these pilots decided to be brilliant and actually put up a real fight He slashed hard right through a suit and was spinning away as it exploded behind him, already forgotten as he closed on his next target.
This pilot at least seemed to be aware of him and was standing his ground, waiting for the attacking behemoth to come within a decent range to take the shot
Tallgeese executed a barrel roll as machine gun fire tore from the Leo, spraying around him and indeed hitting a pursuing suit. Zechs cursed under his breath this guy actually knew what he was doing
A devilish grin lit his handsome face, and Zechs slowed a fraction of a second, the beeping threat beacon announcing the arrival of his destruction from behind, and another suit approaching on his right
Now! Tallgeese darted straight up and out of the fray at the last possible moment, climbing madly
The explosion of one missile hitting two fully loaded suits rocked Tallgeese, nonetheless. Zechs pulled the Dober gun again as he turned back into the scene red-hot shrapnel was falling everywhere, it seemed, and many of the remaining six pilots had stopped in shock and horror to watch the scene.
A mistake made out of caring, but a mistake, nonetheless. Zechs fired.
The field cleared, Tallgeese approached the base at an almost leisurely pace, and the rifle came up one last time.
From the cockpit of Helo-2, Sally Po smirked at the chaotic scene. "Courtesy of your friendly, neighbourhood Lightning Count, one panicked base and a gigantic hole in the wall to crawl through. Une, I'll go first, and you guys cover me. Helo-3 should stay aloft, just in case."
"Roger, Sally. We're right behind you. You're the guerrilla tactics expert here." Une replied, motioning at her team to be ready.
Copy that. Sally Po turned back to her team, her countenance excited, but commanding. Alright, people! Were going to have approximately ten seconds to clear the helo! Remember to roll when you hit the ground and duck as we run hes not setting her down, so shell be kicking up a hell of a lot of grit in your face. Are we all clear?
She grinned and keyed her mike. Take us down, pilot.
The light next to the open back of the helicopter turned green, and Sally yelled, Go! The soldiers jumped to her command immediately, and as Sally followed the last one out, she couldnt help laughing. Tallgeese passed overhead, firing warning shots just over the roof of the Base to keep its defenders down.
She briefly counted heads to make sure all seven of her people were present and accounted for before she keyed her mike. Were down and ready to go, Une. Follow us in two.
Acknowledged, came a slightly crackled reply.
Nodding to the team, they took off for the base at a full run. Tallgeese swooped over their heads once more in salute.
Une smirked and keyed her mike. Team Leader to Helo-3. Lets stay in tight formation for now. When we break, you will buzz over the building while we circle to the north slightly to let the team off. You are then to circle back and open fire on anything you see on the ground that is not us. Is that clear?
Jonas, here. We copy. Une smiled and congratulated herself. David Jonas was still rather young to be commander of one of their helicopters, but he was sharp and reliable. She knew shed made the right choice.
She keyed the mike again. Okay, prepare to break formation. Three, two, one, mark! She watched in no small amusement as frenzied ground defenders hesitated, not knowing what to fire on anymore. She watched as Helo-3 made its turn
The rapid staccato pings of machine gun fire filled the air. Now! Take us down now!
The light turned green, and Walker lead the team out.
The eight man team knew they would not have the benefit of surprise. They broke into a run immediately, guns drawn, firing on anything that moved around them. Walker felt his heart in his mouth as he moved. They just needed to get inside; they would be that much safer
He swerved at the last minute and opened fire on a side door, blowing it off its hinges before he ran straight for it and inside. He bent double, breathing hard, as the rest of the team followed him in and a short ways up a narrow hallway.
Une pushed her way to his side. What the hell was that?! Do you know
There were guards waiting at our entrance, Une, he said quietly, a soft accent making itself known. Sallys team had already gone that way. They were ready for another group.
She stared at him, but then nodded. Okay. Fair enough.
As she turned back to the rest of the team, Walker smirked. Une was so cute when she was trying to be intimidating.
He never noticed the incredulous looks the others were giving him.
The hallways were dusty and filled with smoke. Treize sagged against a wall, his head spinning from the foul air and his exertion. He hadnt realised just how badly his treatment had weakened him while still in that cell, but now His arms ached as though on fire as he set Duo down as gently as he could and sagged down next to the boys prone form.
Treize froze he could hear approaching footsteps, the heavy tread of Army boots and raucous voices yelling as they passed him by, not one man thinking to look down the small side corridor. He smirked and crept forward, waiting for just the right moment
"Running is only going to get someone trampled!" an angry voice shouted from somewhere towards the back. The approaching patrol did its best to slow down, despite the repeated explosions that shook the building around them. Watching, Treize could see fear in their faces. He couldn't blame them - considering who they were holding, they had to realise who would be attacking and just how unlikely it was that they would survive it. Treize gave a grim smile. Unless Wufei was capable of holding him back, *he,* himself would probably be dead before he could blink, when Heero Yuy found him carrying a bruised and battered Duo in his arms.
Treize's tired muscles tensed as the last man walked past, unsuspectingly focused on the path ahead of him. Letting the fellow pass him, Treize struck. Grabbing hold of the man over his mouth, Treize quickly snapped the soldier's neck, and soundlessly dragged him into the shadows.
He grimaced in distaste as he got to look the soldier in the eyes for the first time. It was a young man, probably the same age as Wufei, terror showing in wide, unseeing eyes. Treize quickly closed them. "Better this way than at the hands of a vengeful Gundam pilot, lad," he whispered as he quickly disarmed him.
Just as he was about to stand, a quiet voice whispered behind him, "Don't forget his knives." Treize turned - Duo was standing, but just barely, clutching at the wall with his good arm.
Now that they had better light to see by, Treize gasped at the sight of the dark bruise that covered the young man's left eye completely and extended down over his cheek and broken lip in the vague outline of a footprint. "My God..."
"I've had worse, Fancy Pants," Duo remarked dryly in a wheezy voice. "Gimme the pistol and a couple knives."
"You can't possibly throw them, as you are..."
Duo took a lurching step forward. "And I'll never be able to handle the kickback of a machine gun like this. Deal with it." He grabbed a knife out of Treize's hands and held it flat against his wrist. Treize finally understood. This wasn't for throwing, it was for slashing, if anyone got close.
Treize hefted a semiautomatic machine gun carefully. "Heero is going to kill me when he sees you like that."
"Wufei won't let him." Duo's footsteps were remarkably quiet for someone so injured.
Treize shook his head; he could barely hear the person behind him. "I wasn't aware that anyone could stop the Perfect Soldier when he had his mind on something."
Duo coughed - the sound was terrible, and Treize couldn't help wondering if one of those broken ribs had punctured a lung, as well. "People do dumb things when they're in love."
Treize froze and turned as something became clear. "This wasn't really your mission, was it?"
Duo gave him what passed for a smile in his current state. "Sneaking around is more my style than Heero's. He would have gotten caught long before he accomplished the mission. I, at least, got the information out before they grabbed me."
"You are a true idiot."
Duo tried to laugh and instead gave another hacking cough. "I've been told that before. Then they never call."
Sally Po could hear gunfire ahead, lots of it, and she grimaced. "Friendlies under fire ahead, people! Let's move!"
She approached cautiously, squinting to see through the dark, smoky hall. Yes, there were at least ten men still standing, though many were clearly dead on the floor around them. All fire was directed at a small alcove.
Her eyes widened as she caught a glimpse of a small figure stepping out of cover for only a few seconds. There was a gun in the figure's hand -
He was gone just as quickly, but not before two more attackers fell to the ground with bullets between their eyes. Machine gun fire and enraged yells broke from the attackers in reply.
Sally's team chose that moment to attack. It was over quickly, and she breathed a sigh of relief and began to move forward.
"Identification, or I'll shoot." She froze. Why did that voice seem distantly familiar?
The voice called out again. "02 - Delta Kilo Alpha."
Sally shook her head. "I am Doctor Sally Po. I'm a friend!"
"Oh, thank Heaven," another voice said, and she started in shock. A tall figure loomed at the corner. "Relax, Duo. Miss Po, it is a pleasure to finally meet you."
He stepped forward into the light, and Duo followed suit as best he could.
"Everyone, stand down!" Sally had no idea what a Gundam pilot was doing there, especially one in such bad condition, but she did not want to see what he would do if he felt he was being cornered by anyone or anything. "Treize..."
Duo was trembling from the effort of remaining upright. "But where are..." His eyes rolled back into his head and he began to fall again.
Treize somehow managed to catch him and slowly lower the boy to the ground. He looked up again at the incredulous doctor. "It is a long story, Miss Po, but one I assure you I will tell in stunning detail as soon as we get free of this place."
She shrugged, not having the energy to fight it and waved another man forward. "Very well. Let me take a look at him, at least." She came closer and turned Duo over, frowning sharply.
As she worked, Treize couldn't help asking. "How did you find us? We expected the Gundam pilots..."
Sally looked up again and gave him a dim smile. "Zechs never stopped looking for a second, General. You should count yourself lucky."
He smiled to himself as he backed away to allow Sally to wrap the injured pilot up carefully. As another man stepped forward to pick the boy up, he couldn't help answering her. "I do."
Une went pale as she stepped into the small cell. Walker had gone to kick the door in and nearly fell over as it swung open easily. She followed. "He's not here. Oh, God, Walker, he's not here..."
"Une, you have to stay calm." The young man darted forward, flashlight in his hand, to explore the cell. His nose wrinkled at the smell.
He froze when she grabbed his arm. "Shine the light over here." He complied without question.
They both went cold. There was blood on the ground, and it wasn't old. "Zechs is going to kill us."
"Not if we find him first," Une replied. She keyed her mike, breaking radio silence. "Sally, this is Une. We're at the cell, and he's not here..."
The radio crackled sharply in her ear. "We've got him Une. He managed to get out. Extract."
She couldn't help smiling. "Acknowledged." She turned back to her team, eyes glinting happily. "They've got him."
Walker grinned. "Let's get the hell out of here, then."
His smile faded, though, as he turned back and looked down at the blood that stained the floor. He hoped the General would be alive at the end of all this.
None of the Gundam pilots felt like being alone, so Wufei had brought his laptop to the living room, as had the others. Quatre set the radio to monitor all the frequencies they normally used, as well as the emergency ones. Trowa made sandwiches that no one was in the mood to eat, and Heero stared out the window, obviously looking for any sign of his missing lover. Hours spent hacking into Oz's databases had turned up nothing in reference to any prisoners or Gundam pilots, and now all he could do was wait.
"It's my fault he's missing," the Japanese teen whispered, breaking the silence. His shoulders slumped and he rested his forehead against the glass.
"Heero? How can it be your fault?" Quatre asked, eyes wide.
Heero sighed and turned around to face the other three. "It was supposed to be *my* mission. If I hadn't let him convince me that he was better suited to it, he wouldn't be missing."
"If that makes it your fault, Yuy, then we are just as much to blame," Wufei stated.
Trowa nodded. "We *all* agreed that he should take the mission. And we know the mission itself was completed, since Professor G confirmed receipt of the data files. So, we were correct in letting him go."
"But where is he? What if--"
"Heero, it could be anything. Yes, we're all worried. Something has gone wrong, but it could be as simple as whatever vehicle he stole is broken down on some deserted road and he's walking back," Quatre said, trying to be as optimistic as possible, even though he felt it was much more serious than a simple car breakdown.
"Or he could be out there, surrounded by enemies, fighting for his life," Wing's pilot growled, turning back to stare out the window once more.
Une, Walker and half their team were waiting just inside the entrance, while the rest were guarding the outside. There was sporadic gunfire in the compound, but nothing serious. She keyed her mike to let Sally know they were waiting. "Sally, we're holding the main entrance. ETA?"
The radio crackled slightly, then Sally's voice came through clearly. "ETA about one minute, Une. We're just rounding the corner and-- we have you in sight, Une."
Une squinted through the light smoke and dust to see Sally's team making their way towards them. "Walker, with me. The rest of you hold here," Une snapped and jogged towards Sally, Walker at her heels.
"Sally, where's--" she started as she reached the doctor, then Trieze stepped through the group of soldiers and she smiled in relief. "Treize... you're all right? Are you injured? Your face-- did they--"
"My dear Lady Une, I'm fine. A little worse for wear, but nothing a good, hot shower, decent food and a full night's sleep won't cure," the tall man replied, giving her a quick hug. He then reached out to shake Walker's hand. "Good to see you, Walker."
Walker firmly returned the handshake. "You, too, General. We've missed your presence these last few weeks, but we never gave up--"
A commotion behind them interrupted the younger man and Treize spun around. "Duo," he murmured and walked back into the group of soldiers with Sally, Une and Walker right behind him. The Gundam pilot was thrashing feebly, trying to escape the arms holding him, eyes wide and unfocussed. Une, recognising the young man immediately, gasped slightly, then winced as she registered the severely damaged state he was in.
Treize gently grasped Duo's uninjured arm as he weakly attempted to swing at the man carrying him. "Duo, listen to me, you're safe. We're getting out of here. Come on, Duo, look at me..." The tall man smiled slightly as the teen began to calm down and his eyes slowly focused on him. "That's it, Duo. Focus. It's all right." He reached out and took the injured pilot into his arms, a slight grimace of pain crossing his face. "Are you back with me now?"
"Yeah," Duo whispered raggedly, "sorry... bad reaction."
"I'm not surprised," Sally snorted, checking his forehead for a fever. "Between your injuries, probably a moderate concussion and a fever, we're lucky a 'bad reaction' was all it was. Come on. We need to get him back to base fast."
Walker quickly moved to his General's side. "Sir, you're in no shape to carry him. Will Mr. Maxwell let me take him?"
"I'm not sure how he'll--"
"Hey, T-man, Toady... 'm right here, conscious, an' mostly in m'right mind now," Duo slurred, fighting to keep his eyes open. "Won't try an' kill nobody. Han' me over, T-man... Wouldn' want ya to drop me or nothin... might break somethin' else an' I don' think that'd be good..." he rambled as the transfer was made.
Walker blinked, but gently held the injured pilot, mouthing 'Toady?' to Treize. The General just shrugged, smirking slightly.
"Treize, something tells me that the debriefing later is going to be very enlightening," Une said and Duo's eyes snapped open at the sound of her voice.
"I must've been real bad in m'previous life. 'M rescued by Scary Une. All we need now is Sexy an' I'll know I'm in Hell..." Duo's voice trailed off as he slid back into unconsciousness and Une couldn't help the small smile that crossed her face.
"Lets GO people!" Sally snapped and keyed her mike. "Zechs, we've got them and we're exiting now. Helos one, two and three prepare to extract. Be advised, we do have wounded. Radio ahead for trauma teams to be ready for our arrival," she said, leading the group out into the compound.
The two teams of soldiers were directed to Helos one and two, while Sally quickly herded Treize, Une, Walker with Duo and a couple others with minor gunshot wounds to the third helicopter. Helo three had been equipped with basic medical supplies for just this situation. Walker immediately settled Duo onto the stretcher mounted to the side of the helicopter and backed off to help the walking wounded.
Once they were airborne, Sally moved over to Duo and began a quick check over the unconscious pilot. She motioned Treize to stay by his head and called Une over. "Une, cut away his shirt, please? I need to see if anything is broken besides his arm. Treize, if he wakes up, be ready to calm him down. I don't need him moving around and with that concussion, I can't sedate him. What the hell did they do to him? It looks like they kicked him in the head and face...
Treize nodded. "According to our young God of Death, this is 'the usual'. They interrogate him, he mouths off, they beat him up. We have both decided that the positions of terrorist and dictator are hazardous to our health, and that career changes may be in order."
Une looked at Treize, slightly shocked by his flippant humour. She was accustomed to his occasional dry, sharp-witted comments, but this was something new. A slight giggle escaped, that turned into a horrified hiss as Duo's shirt was fully removed.
Sally cursed virulently and immediately turned her attention to the braided teen's chest and abdomen. There was hardly any skin *not* black and blue, and boot- and fist-marks were clearly visible. She carefully rolled him over a bit, finding his back similarly marked. Duo moaned, but didn't wake up as she laid him back and began feeling his ribs for breaks.
"I am *so* tempted to have this chopper turn back around, just so I can find the ones who did this and return the favour," she snapped, wincing as Duo tried to jerk away from a particularly painful area of his ribs. "Interrogation is one thing, torture is another." She continued examining, vaguely aware of Treize's voice quietly talking to the braided teen. "Une, hand me the stethoscope. I need to check his lungs. I don't like his breathing and it's possible one of the ribs has slightly punctured a lung. I know you've have field training, so remove his pants and check his legs for breaks as well."
"Dr. Po, I hardly think--" Treize objected, only to be cut off sharply.
"It *is* necessary," Sally snapped. "If he has any breaks in his legs, I need to know! And don't tell me he doesn't just because he was walking. He's a Gundam pilot. They *all* do things impossible for 'normal' people."
Treize forced back a reply and began murmuring to Duo again. "It's all right. We need to check your legs. You're safe..."
Une cut away the teen's pants, but found nothing worse than more bruising and a possible ankle sprain, and quickly covered him with a blanket as he started to shake in the cool air. Sally finished her exam, tucked the blanket up around his shoulders and sat back with a sigh.
"Well? Diagnosis, Dr. Po?" Treize asked tiredly, leaning against the side of the helicopter, one hand resting on Duo's shoulder.
"Not good, but it could be much worse. Moderate concussion, broken arm and severe bruising, as you know. I've found three broken ribs, and from the slight gurgle in his lungs there could be a small puncture or he could be developing a bronchial infection. I'd guess he has bruised kidneys, but there's no sign of abdominal bleeding, and he's running a temperature of about 101. He may have an ankle sprain, and every muscle in his body has to be screaming every time he moves. But I won't know exactly how serious things are until I can get a blood test and have him x-rayed. How about you? Anything I need to take a look at right now?"
"I'd say not," Une murmured, smiling and nodding her head in Treize's direction. Sally followed her gaze and found him sound asleep. She grabbed another blanket, covered the general and chuckled softly.
"I'll have to agree, Une. I guess I'll just go check on Walker's progress with the others."
Zechs sighed. Walker was obviously beginning to get annoyed with him, but he couldn't help calling over to find out what was going on. So far, his only replies consisted of 'we're okay', 'Treize is all right, but he can't talk right now', and finally a 'dammit Zechs, we're busy over here! We'll get back to you as soon as possible!". The last comment did nothing to calm his nerves.
Finally giving in to his internal promptings, he called over a fourth time. "Marquise to Walker, over."
Tallgeese's radio crackled and Une's voice came over the link. "Zechs, we read you. Are you alright over there?"
"No, I'm not all right! No one will tell me anything! What the hell is going on over there?! How is Treize? Why can't I talk to him? I need answers, Une!" he snapped back, pounding his fist against the suit's console for emphasis.
"Zechs, calm down. Sorry we haven't been able to give you any details before now," she replied, voice calm. "Treize is fine, just exhausted, thin and slightly bruised--"
"Then why were you all 'so busy' and why couldn't anyone tell me anything?" Zechs growled.
"Well, I can't give you all the details now, since Treize hasn't given them to us, but he wasn't the only one we rescued. Apparently, one of the Gundam pilots, Duo Maxwell, had been captured and thrown in the cell with him. It's Duo that had us all occupied. He's in pretty bad shape, and Treize has been keeping him calm so we could work on him. This is the first chance I've had to get in touch with you."
"Duo Maxwell? Gundam pilot? And Treize is still alive? This should be interesting," Zechs replied, surprised, then he sobered. "Can I talk to Treize now, Une? I need to know for myself..."
"He's asleep. He dozed off as Sally was giving him her diagnosis of Duo. I'd rather not, but I *can* wake him up for you."
"No, don't do that. If there were anything wrong, you'd tell me, I know. If he wakes up before we get to the base, tell him... ah, have him..." Zechs wasn't sure what he wanted. He wanted to tell him he loved him and missed him. He wanted to rush into his arms and kiss him. None of which was appropriate given their current situation.
"I know, Zechs, I know." Une replied softly. "And I will tell him, if he wakes up before we land. I promise. We should be back on base in a few hours. You can tell him yourself, then. Radio over here again, if you need to, but I've got to go now. Sally and Walker are working on our other wounded, and I need to keep an eye on Treize and Duo."
Zechs leaned back in the seat, a wave of relief pouring over him. "Roger Une. See you when we land. Zechs out."
The blond pilot mused over the scanty information Une had to give him, then his mind latched on one thing. Duo. Not 'Gundam pilot', '02' or even 'Maxwell'. Une was referring to the boy as 'Duo'. And Treize had been keeping him calm? Something was going on here, and he was dying to find out what it was.
It was strange enough that a Gundam pilot would be in Eastern Russia, in that same location, but for him to seem to be *trusting* a person he was sworn to kill Maxwell was in bad shape, though. Perhaps Treize had looked after the boy and thus won his trust, or at least a promise of a truce; he knew Treize hated to see anyone in pain, especially anyone he could equate to Wufei quite easily
His injuries had to be truly bad to bring out Une's mothering instincts, at least. And thinking about that just brought his thoughts back to Treize. Une had said he was thinner. How thin? Had they fed him at all? Did they beat him up? Was that why he was bruised up? How bruised was 'slightly bruised,' especially coming from Lady Une?
How was Wufei going to react when he finally told him?
"God, Wufei " Zechs quickly pulled up his email programme, chewing on his lip. How could he have been so stupid as not to let their Chinese lover know that Treize was safe? He knew how worried Wufei was
He felt doubly bad as he found one blinking message waiting from Wufei. "Dragon "
He read quickly, one fist clenched at his side.
----- message begins -----
I had not heard from Treize since I last saw you both, over a month ago. I had assumed he was with you, especially when I could no longer contact either of you. If those Romefeller bastards have touched one hair on his head, I swear that I will hunt them down one by one and make them beg me for mercy.
The other pilots (excepting Duo, who is late to return from a mission) know about our relationship. I told them everything, and they want to meet with you. Zechs, I think they'd even help us to find Treize, as soon as Maxwell gets back, that is. We are all worried about him; good as he is, even he can get caught, and he has never been this late without getting some kind of message to us before.
Please tell me the moment you get any news. I am in Europe, but I can get to anywhere you need me for a rescue mission. And if you find him tell him I love you both and miss you.
Take care of yourself,
----- message ends -----
Zechs sighed, "Me, too, Dragon, me, too." Engaging the autopilot, he hit REPLY.
----- message begins -----
Good news here. The reason I've taken so long to respond is that we got a tracer on Treize and went after him. I am pleased to tell you that he is safe, and currently fast asleep in one of the rescue choppers. I haven't seen him yet, but I'm sure Lady Une would tell me if there was anything wrong with him, if not out of courtesy, then out of fear of what I (and you, when you found out,) would do to her for concealing the information.
More good news - Treize was not the only prisoner we rescued. Your missing pilot was also at the facility. I've been told that he was in bad shape when he was rescued, but Sally Po has been with him, and I am sure he will be alright. Please tell Yuy that we will give him the best treatment we possibly can.
He probably knows about us by now, too. From what little I've heard, Treize was instrumental in getting him out and treating him for his injuries, and I doubt he would have trusted him for any lesser reason than your good opinion.
I want to see you again soon, and I have no reservations about meeting the others, either. Please bring them with you when you come - our current home base is near Vilno in the Carpathians, near the remains of what the locals believe is a haunted castle. They keep away from us, so I guess it still serves a purpose. We should be back on the ground there in about three hours.
Come to us soon.
----- message ends -----
Hitting SEND, Zechs reached out on impulse and disengaged the autopilot. His face broke into a smile as tension finally seemed to roll off of him in waves. Somehow, telling Wufei about it had brought it home - Treize was safe again. His grin deepening, Zechs sped up into two barrel rolls.
He laughed as Une's worried voice came in over the radio, and
opened his comm link to reply, "I'm just fine, Lady, I assure
you. Better than ever."