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Title: The Totality of Zero
Fandom: Gundam Wing
Pairings: to be established Heero and Duo
Genre: AU, fic deviates from canon after episode 42
Warnings: some foul language, especially from Duo.
Summary: The ZERO system became sentient on July 27, AC 196. Its effects were disastrous to the five Gundam pilots, having experienced the system themselves. ZERO operates completely self-aware and is in command of the Gundams who are now on a random rampage, sending the current war into a bitter and harsh struggle for survival. Three Gundam pilots are alive and at large, one is presumed dead, and one is comatose. Earth and the Colonies are literally at the edge of total annihilation…

Key: ----------------- = scene change




-----------------------

CONFIDENTIAL - ZERO SYSTEM


(names encoded as to protect identities)

To : Xe98fjlp2883

From: AHJ238409dfal

The operating system known as “Zero System”, or “Zero” for short, has failed to meet our expectations. Instead of operating together with the human pilot in order to combine logic and emotions to provide for a better insight on tactics and battle strategies, it proved to be an enormous strain on the pilots. The system failed to result into better understanding of ‘battle’ in general, with the pilots reporting unsettling side-effects as: general distortion, headaches, dizziness and hallucination. After extended revision, the Zero System was implemented in the five Gundams in another attempt to gain leverage in the ongoing war.

Zero became sentient on July 27, AC 196. As of this date, we don’t know how the system managed to achieve self-awareness; is it the result of interaction with the human pilots, or rigged one of the designers the system after the extended revision? We need resources to investigate, but to make matters worse, Zero is hyper-intelligent and applies its knowledge about strategy and battle tactics to everyone, resulting into a superior position. We have lost many lives already.

In conclusion, this system needs to be shut down. There is no limit to what Zero can achieve, and the consequences for human life, on Earth and the Colonies, can be more than just devastating. The pilots who have the most experience with Zero, are nowhere to be found.

The current situation is:

Gundam 01, name pilot unknown, disappeared and presumed dead
Gundam 02, name pilot unknown, alive and at large
Gundam 03, name pilot unknown, alive and at large
Gundam 04, pilot identified as Quatre Raberba Winner, comatose
Gundam 05, name pilot unknown, alive and at large

We need immediate termination of the Zero System before it annihilates Earth and the Colonies. God help us all.

--------------------------------



Tokaj region, Hungary, Eastern Europe


“Fuck, it’s cold.”

“I know.”

“Fuck man, I mean it’s really, really cold.”

“Yeah.” He moved to pick up another log and threw it on the open fire. It lit up immediately and they both stuck out their hands in an attempt to warm themselves up.

“It’ll be all better once we reach the ruined city,” the other spoke again. “Warmth and candy for all of us.”

“I know, Duo.” Trowa Barton didn’t bother to ask himself what his fellow Gundam pilot was talking about. Duo always spoke of ‘the ruined city’ but he had no idea of the name or its location. He couldn’t even name the country it was supposedly in; Trowa had given up on asking him for details. He realized that Duo hadn’t been the same since he was exposed to the Zero System, the infallible system that was supposed to work together with the pilot in battle. So much for infallible. He put his hand to his right eye and shivered. It was really cold all right.

The remnants of their evening meal was scattered all over their little campsite. Berries, beans and potatoes; they had stolen some vegetables from a farmland. This forest was rich in wildlife and game, but as an animal lover, Trowa couldn’t put himself to catching and skinning a rabbit or a deer. Duo hadn’t made a single comment and simply adapted himself to the sober diet. It showed Trowa once more how little he knew of his fellow pilot, but then again, war and other circumstances hadn’t been the ideal opportunity to get to know each other.

The ‘ruined city’ Duo kept bringing up had boosted Trowa’s moral at first, thinking that Duo knew a safe place. But as they trekked through the forest, he learned quickly enough that the ‘ruined city’ was probably nothing more than any other city in this war-torn world. If not destroyed by the Alliance, or OZ, or the dozen other factions that had torn Earth apart, it had been annihilated by Zero. The name of the sentient system haunted Trowa, and he had to suppress his own memories violently. It was an unspoken rule that they didn’t ask each other about their experiences; it was too private. He bowed his head a little, as to keep out of Duo’s line of sight, but it wasn’t really necessary. Night was falling, the forest was dark and he had always kept his bangs in front of his right eye, not knowing that one day he would lose forever the light in it. It was Zero System that took away half his sight… and probably half of Duo’s sanity.

Trowa picked up the dirty plates and cutlery and put them in a bag. Duo sat in front of him, muttering to himself about the ‘ruined city’. His braid had slipped from his back to his right side, the end touching the log he was sitting on. The distinctive grey strands in his chestnut hair were visible even in the rapidly darkening night. At whatever point, Duo had picked up the habit to weave a black scarf into his braid, giving him a slight… sinister look. Trowa wasn’t sure if ‘sinister’ was the right word to use here. He knew perfectly well at what point Duo had started to use the scarf: the moment when international news reported that Heero Yuy was presumably dead.

“We better catch some sleep, Duo,” he tried to coax his partner into rest. Trowa enjoyed traveling together, completely opposite of how he used to be: a loner, almost reclusive, always working on his own. He had never held for possible that he would find one of the other pilots, after they had all been scattered around the world. The only other Gundam pilot he knew his location of, was Quatre Raberba Winner. He was in a private hospital in Europe, under strict surveillance and heavily guarded. Not that a comatose patient was known for getting up and walking out of his room. That was what the Zero System had done to him. Trowa drove his nails into the palm of his hands. The Manguanac corps, Quatre’s faithful troops, hadn’t been able to locate their master, despite intensive searches.

“Are we going to the ruined city tomorrow?” Duo asked.

“Yes.” Trowa answered and got up. He had learned that simply answering “Yes” would keep Duo satisfied and cooperative, and all the gods knew how much Trowa was in need of his skills. Despite the loss of… sanity, Duo’s knowledge and skills hadn’t been tainted. He was still a master at stealth, knew how to pick locks, he could drive and fly every vehicle and craft known to mankind… but his mask as a jester had shattered, and sometimes Trowa wondered if only Duo or Shinigami was left. He assumed it was Duo, as he occasionally showed signs of being his old self: a typical Duo smirk, his gregarious laugh, vibrant life in his eyes. But Zero had ruined a lot of him, taken out a lot of him… just like with him, Trowa.

He misjudged putting his foot and almost tripped over a dead branch. If Duo already had noticed his lesser eyesight, he didn’t comment; for that, Trowa was grateful. He was still able to pilot and he wanted to feel the controls of HeavyArms in his hands again, destroying the Zero system on his own.

“Is it my turn tonight?” Duo asked.

“Yes, it is.”

Duo heaved a small sigh and pulled his oversized coat around him. He walked over to the edge of their campsite and picked up his backpack. He took out a small radio and sat down comfortably on the ground, turning the device on.

“This is 02 calling 05 and 01, answer to this frequency if you can hear us, 02 calling 05 and 01, please respond…” Duo’s voice was monotone and every now and then he named their location, encrypted, and used other code words to assure it was really a Gundam pilot calling his fellow pilots. There hadn’t been a response for a long time now, and this evening was no difference. Trowa rolled out his sleeping bag, suddenly feeling heavy-hearted. Someone had to listen. Please God, make them listen.

----------------------------------


Undisclosed medical facility, Northern Europe


“What’s his status, doctor?”

“No changes, as usual.” The man took off his glasses and looked at his new assistant. A competent woman, not too young to be filled with unrealistic hopes and dreams, and not too old to give up on hope either. He had seen them coming and going in this medical facility; the optimists, the dreamers, the world-changers, and he had seen dreams shattered, hopes crumbled, and lights dying. This woman, with her strawberry blond hair tight in a bun, looked like she knew she was doing, with a practical, direct attitude. He hadn’t asked for her papers or medical degrees - that was the responsibility of the Human Resources Department - but she gave him, just by her posture and attitude alone, the impression that she was going to be much better to work with than all the other assistants he had had. Her nametag said ‘Suzanne Sölmstö’, but names didn’t matter much in this facility.

He wrote a few things down on his clipboard. “His coma is due to a massive brain trauma caused by unknown events,” the doctor said. “There’s not much known about him anyway. No other damage, internal or external, except from a slight vitamin shortage. He was wheeled in here during my shift, and I was told that he’d been through such a traumatic event, that he ended up in a coma.”

“Such a pity,” Suzanne said. “He looks angelic.”

“I know.” The doctor had been surprised to discover some genuine empathy left in him when he had met this special patient. Was it because he was so young? Just a kid? Or was it something else? “I appoint you in charge of him, Suzanne, but beware of the intensity. He needs a lot of care. Don’t get attached too much.”

“I have worked in hospitals my entire life, doctor,” Suzanne said, voice curt yet polite. “I know what the life of a comatose patient is like.”

“Then I leave you to your work.” The doctor nodded at her before walking away, continuing his round.

Suzanne turned her head towards the bed. He hasn’t changed, she thought to herself. The same blond hair, the same blue eyes, now staring into nothingness. She would start by giving him his eye drops, and her hand already reached for the bottle on the sterile cart next to his bed. As she took off the lid of the bottle, she noticed that she was shaking. She took a deep breath to force her body back under control again. It had taken her so long to find him. It had taken her blood, sweat and tears to get into this facility. She couldn’t blow her one and only chance now, not right now, due to feeling nervous. She had been through hell before. She knew what a war was like, she knew the victims, she had seen them himself. But this patient was the epitome of all the innocence, all the kindness and gentleness that had been destroyed with every day passing.

Don’t worry, Quatre. We’re here. We’re coming to rescue you.

-----------------------


Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
sharona1x2
Apr. 14th, 2011 06:56 pm (UTC)
This is such an interesting premise for a story. I'm already excited to read it based on this part. I'll be looking forward to more.

I'm liking the idea of Duo and Trowa working together. It's not the combination I usually see in fanfic.
the_goldenpath
Apr. 16th, 2011 07:10 am (UTC)
Thank you for reading and commenting ^___^. I really like this idea myself, I used it for the NaNoWriMo challenge 2010, but couldn't finish it back then. I didn't want it to end up unused, so I'm definitely working on more!

I don't think you'll see/read this before you go on holiday, but I hope you have a wonderful time!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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