In the game of war, one must never fight to win, but
The warp and loom were silly superstitions that
mortals associated with the Fates, imagining three
crones over a machine, constantly threading and
weaving a tapestry. In reality, the Fates worked like
any other immortal, vast in mind and detail, plotting
lives without a twitch of their lovely fingers. The
sunlit room looked warm, but there was nothing warm
about the expressions on the faces of the Fates who
sat there. The rose tinted windows did not soften
their angered features nor gave comfort to their stiff
"Time grows short, Dorothy. Why hasn't Milliardo
captured those two yet?"
Dorothy polished her nails with a soft cloth while she
pondered her sister's terse question. She looked into
Milliardo's path that Relena had set before this whole
mess began, glimpsing his future of greatness that her
sister had graciously laid out for him. Then she
flipped through her own knowledge of his past and
found that nothing, whether it be in the past or the
future, showed that Milliardo would be a failure. His
ambition was too great.
"It's hard, Noin. Isn't it your job to guide him
"I can hardly be blamed," Noin said with disgust
lining her voice, "since the two radicals are ruining
all my carefully laid plans. So far, they should have
been captured according to my weaving, but there is
just too much chaos around those two. Every decision
I make is being thwarted either by Relena who keeps
changing paths on me or them who have no respect for
It was the longest sentence Noin had spoken in the
past three months of searching for the elusive rebels
of destiny. Until now, she had concentrated all her
efforts on guiding certain mortals to her cause,
trying to find these two Relena had set free upon the
world. However, it seemed that nothing was working
out for the Fates.
"My dear sister," Dorothy said rather gently, "we will
have them. They are just mortals, even if they are
free. They can't evade us forever. And besides,
haven't you been working on the mortals who travel
A frustrated snort answered Dorothy's question.
Noin's pained expression was a study of rage and
impotence rolled into one, a look that should never
have graced a Fate.
"I can't do it by myself! The three of us always must
work in conjunction with each other to make it work.
With Relena's defection, we are an imperfect team,
pitted against each other. I can only work within
Relena's parameters and she is not giving me any
choices that would be helpful."
"It is a tangled skein we weave, Noin."
"I don't need your fucking metaphors, Dorothy!"
The younger Fate shrank back at her sister's loss of
control. It was frightening, something she had not
seen in many millenniums. The situation must have
been more dire than she had previously thought.
"Calm down, Noin. I swear to you, Milliardo will have
"How can he have them," Noin bit out, "if I cannot see
A tense silence followed as Noin got up from her seat
and paced around the room agitatedly. Dorothy merely
plucked at her dress with a bland expression that hid
her inner turmoil and fear at the situation.
"It's nearly the end of three months. We have only
another week and a day before time runs out! If we
can't use the Raduleum.."
Noin let her sentence trail. The consequences need
not be spoken for it was obvious. In exactly a week
and a day from this day, they had to use the Raduleum
to erase the free mortals' souls or they would be free
for another century and then some before it could be
used again. And that was not acceptable to them.
"Have faith, Noin."
The irony was not lost on the two Fates.
The darkness did nothing to hide the presence of an
ambush from the professional assassins who knew night
as well as their own hands. The ambush ended with
seven dead ambushers, all killed within moments after
their failed attempt.
Trowa picked through the bodies carefully, letting his
trained eyes roam over the bloodied corpses in a
dispassionate way. They were all soldiers from their
style of dress and haircuts, professionally trained
and well equipped with fine weapons. None of that had
helped in the end.
"Prince Milliardo's personal guards."
With Trowa's announcement, all eyes went wide with
"The Prince's own? What the hell are they doing
"I wish I knew, Wufei," Trowa answered without taking
his eyes off the bodies, "but I don't think they'll
"Relena posed as a Peacecraft princess, didn't she?"
Trowa nodded grimly at Duo's observation, and there
was only one conclusion that he could draw. As far as
they knew, Relena was dead to this world since the
news of her demise had traveled quite quickly.
Therefore, Prince Milliardo must have sent out his own
guards to capture those who were responsible for her
death. The mystery was how he knew that it was they
who killed her that second time. Their descriptions
had not been on any wanted poster they had seen so
"I don't think this is vengeance."
It still surprised Trowa when Quatre seemed to read
his mind like that. However, he acknowledged that his
lover had a point. For a vengeance, the pieces did
not add up.
"I agree with Quatre," Wufei said gravely, "since
these guys weren't acting like they were going to
"A capture mission, then?"
A silent nod answered Hilde's question, but other
questions hovered in the air. Why a capture mission
for a bunch of disgraced assassins? What was the
plan? What was Milliardo up to?
"You know, it would be really fucking nice if Relena
showed up with some fucking information now and then!"
Heero put a restraining hand on Duo's flailing arm,
calming his lover down with a simple touch.
"She is busy, too, Duo. We can't rely on her for
Duo knew that Heero was right, but that did not help
his frustration level at all. He was tired of being
ambushed, of being on the run. He just wanted to
settle down somewhere with Heero and have a happy, fun
life. Was that so much to ask?
"Wait, I found something."
Everyone leaned in closer when Trowa retrieved
something from one of the bodies. It was a small
scrap of paper folded many times, worn around the
edges and turning brown from dirt and blood. It
seemed like nothing until Trowa unfolded it.
Heero agreed with Duo. On that small piece of paper
was a perfect rendition of their faces, down to the
stoic expression on his and the smile on Duo's. The
colored sketch had a wayward looking scribble on it on
the bottom, almost illegible from the smudging.
"Wanted alive. The rest are of no consequence."
Trowa's serious voice added weight to the already dire
words. It was chilling how such short phrases could
clear up a situation.
"The Prince wants just us two, Duo. It must mean that
he's working with the Fates to bring us in for the..
Swallowing thickly, Duo clutched Heero's arm for
support. No matter what kind of front he put up for
everyone, the idea that he and Heero could just be
erased from existence frightened him.
"I guess we're expendable then."
Sally sounded matter-of-fact, not bitter at all that
the Prince considered them of no consequence. It was
a nicer fate than the one laid before Duo and Heero
"I knew you guys should not have come with us! I knew
it. This is just.. this sucks."
Wufei waved aside Duo's worries with a flick of his
"Don't say that! We asked Relena to thread us in like
this and this is the way it is. We're family, are we
"Well," Duo said with a hint of chagrin, "if you put
it like that, how am I supposed to argue with you?"
"You don't. Just shut up and accept it, okay?"
Duo did not resist his urge to stick his tongue out at
Wufei, but he did appreciate everyone's loyalty for
them. Even knowing the dangers ahead, his friends had
stuck with them, giving up their chances to be free of
this mess. It was more than he could have asked for
and it humbled him in a way he did not think was
"So what do we do now? Let the Prince come after our
It had been meant as a joke, a stupid and careless
idea that Duo had tossed out to cover his reaction to
Wufei's short but meaningful words. However, Heero
did not think it as a joke; in fact, he thought it was
a capital idea.
"We should get captured. It's a sure fire way of
running into the Fates."
Jaw slack at Heero's determined statement, Duo stared
at his lover in surprise. He could not be suggesting
that they just give themselves up to the Prince for
what the Fates had planned for them. When they had
decided to meet the Fates, Duo had assumed that it
would be on their terms, not the vicious Fates'.
Getting captured and being dragged into confinement
was not his idea of being on their terms.
"Are you fucking crazy, Heero" We can't just.. I
mean, what the hell.. Shit, we'd be handing ourselves
over on a fucking silver plate with ribbons on top!"
"But we'll have our confrontation, Duo. That is what
Sputtering at the airtight logic, Duo looked around to
his friends for some help. Unfortunately, all his
friends were taking Heero seriously, contemplating the
supposed plan with sincerity.
"Did everyone go insane while I wasn't watching?"
Quatre shook his head in denial as he explained.
"Duo, this is the best chance we have. You'll go
straight to the source and you know you won't be
killed until at least you see the Fates."
"Shit, Quatre, it isn't death I'm worried about! It's
that other thing they have planned! Besides, they
want only me and Heero. What about you guys? You
aren't suggesting I watch while the rest of you are
killed off, are you?"
"No, that would be fruitless," Quatre replied, "so the
plan should be that we split up and follow you from a
"Then we rescue you two if you need rescuing." Trowa
finished Quatre's thought.
"I don't fucking believe this shit. You can't expect
me to go along with this!"
Despite Duo's misgivings, the plan was approved by a
vote of six to one and plotting began immediately.
Duo could only watch and listen as his friends and
lover outlined the plan.
"The trick is to find the Prince's patrols. We don't
know where they are."
Heero was deep into the logistics of finding a group
of would-be ambushers. He explained that he and Duo
would just walk up to them and make them take him and
Duo to the Prince whereupon they would meet up with
the Fates. Duo shook his head to make sure he heard
right. He had just suggested that they just stroll up
to a bunch of armed and dangerous men and ask them to
take them to their leader. He loved Heero dearly with
all his heart, but he was beginning to have doubts
about his sanity.
What was even more disturbing than the crackpot plan
was that the rest of the group was fine with it.
Sally outlined her and Hilde's role to trail them to
their place of confinement to lie in wait for the
perfect time to break them out. Wufei drew up battle
plans if such a contingency arose and Trowa was busy
calculating the likelihood of a Peacecraft ambush at
certain spots along the road. Quatre was supervising
the whole hair-brained scheme like a general over
major war plans.
Duo was convinced that he was the only one with his
head screwed on just right.
"So, we split up at dawn. Duo and I will continue
walking along the road and watch for signs of the
Prince's soldiers. Sally and Hilde will be our trail
and the rest of you cover for them. Good plan."
Heero sounded so damned congratulatory of this lame
idea that Duo could only stare in mock horror. His
friends also had that same look as Heero though, as if
they considered this plan somehow feasible. It was
"May I just fucking reiterate that all of you have
lost your goddamned gourds?"
"Point noted and ignored. Next?"
It was a wonder that no one heard Duo's jaw drop to
Heero sighed at his lover's truculent face, noticing
for the fifth time in that many minutes that Duo was
angry with him. He still did not agree with the plan
even if he was going along with it and he let it be
known by being silent and moody. Heero wondered why
his smart and generally clever lover could not see the
plan for what it was.
"How long are you going to be angry, Duo? It has been
six hours since we split up."
"I'm not angry. I'm fucking pissed."
That was the only sentence Duo had spoken in the past
few hours and it was laden with icy rage. It wasn't
pleasant, but at least he was talking.
"You know this plan is not a bad one."
"Hah! Right! This plan is so shitty I don't know why
I'm going along with it!"
Heero could feel his own temper fraying at his lover's
stubbornness. Why couldn't he just admit that the
plan had merit and that it was probably their only
option to find the Fates?
"Duo, stop being unreasonable. What is your problem
with this plan?"
As soon as the question finished, Duo stopped walking
and stood on the road, still as a rock. Heero stopped
walking as well, staring at his lover with frustration
in his eyes. He nearly snapped at Duo when he refused
to move after a few minutes, but then he noticed that
Duo was shaking. Concern immediately overrode
irritation and Heero went to Duo's side.
"What's wrong, Duo? Won't you tell me?"
Violet eyes looked up and to Heero's surprise, they
were dry. From the way Duo's body had been shaking,
he had been certain that Duo was crying, or at least
on the verge of tears. However, his eyes were
completely void of liquid and glittered in furious
"This.. plan is stupid, Heero. What if they find out
about Trowa and the guys and kill them? What if they
can't get us out before the Fates have their way with
us? What if one of them dies because of some stupid
shit we haven't thought of? Have you thought about
any of that shit, huh?"
"Duo," Heero said quietly, "these are concerns that
have always been present, even before the plan. Why
are you so reluctant all of a sudden?"
Instead of answering, Duo looked away, his eyes
focusing on something beyond Heero's shoulder. He bit
his lip, worrying the flesh between his sharp teeth
and his brows contracted in thought. Duo knew Heero
was right, that he was being a paranoid idiot, but he
couldn't help it. There was so much at stake and
everything was coming to a head.
"I'm just scared, Heero," Duo admitted softly, "and I
don't know what to do. It was easier just looking,
not actually having the possibility of finding. I
know I'm being a moron, but.. I just don't want
anyone to die."
Heero moved to put his arms around Duo and felt his
lover sag into his body. There was so much tension
within him like so many coiled springs ready to snap.
"It will be okay. I know it."
Duo sighed at Heero's reassurance, knowing that Heero
could not possibly predict that it would all turn out
fine. However, his heart believed Heero and told the
rest of him that those words were not empty and hollow
of meaning, but that they were a promise to him. It
took away the greater part of his fear and chased away
the desperate thoughts in his mind.
"You better be right or I'm going to fucking strangle
you, got it?"
Chuckling, Heero nodded into Duo's hair and rested his
forehead in the full mass. His lover was coming to
his senses finally, his fear having washed through him
and leaving his system.
"I'm glad you're okay now, Duo. I thought for a
moment that you'd cry."
It was supposed to lighten the mood; it was supposed
to be a small teasing comment. However, Duo stiffened
and turned his head to look into Heero's eyes with a
deadly look in his violet eyes.
"I don't cry, Heero. Ever."
There was nothing to do except nod uncertainly at
Duo's clipped response. Then suddenly, Duo smiled big
and his eyes twinkled with determination.
"Shit, we can't just stand here! Let's get going
So they continued to walk along the road, only this
time, they were of one mind about the plan. The
tension and the anger had disappeared in one moment of
confession and they walked hand in hand once again,
eyes set on the future.
It was with relief and some amount of disbelief that
the captain of Prince Milliardo's Fourth Unit Guards
watched as two figures leisurely sauntered up to them
in a measured pace. To make sure, the captain looked
at the sketch and then back at the boys, making sure
that they were the ones who were to be captured.
Unlike the previous description of their mode of
travel, they were alone, none of their purported
companions anywhere near them.
When they stopped just in front of the Fourth Unit
captain without having drawn a weapon or even getting
into a defensive posture, it was obvious to the
brilliant captain that they meant to be captured.
Though he was somewhat suspicious of their actions, he
wasn't about to curse the good Fates for landing him
an easy capture. The previous group had died rather
quickly and he did not want to test out these two's
"I am Heero, this is Duo. You are from the Princes
Guard Unit, are you not?"
There wasn't even a hint of fear in that well
modulated tenor voice and it should have tipped off
the captain that they were up to something. However,
it did not matter much to the captain... it was his
mission to capture them and here they were, just
offering themselves up.
"I am the captain of the Fourth Unit. We are under
orders to take you to the Prince."
"Well then," the long haired boy said with a half
smile, "lead the way, buddy."
The captain ignored the mocking tone and pointed them
towards a small wagon just beside the road. It was
equipped with bars and an inch thick chain that served
as a lock. It was an inescapable prisoner transport
system, sturdy and strong.
"Say, Heero, looks like we're going to travel in
Quirking his lips in what could have been a smirk,
Heero opened the barred door to the wagon and stepped
inside, his eyes looking around their accommodations
with appraisal. Duo followed closely behind him and
sat unceremoniously by the corner farthest from the
horses, squirming around to get comfortable.
"So, captain.. take us to your leader!"
Duo received neither a smile or a laugh at his
light-hearted comment. Instead, the captain signaled
his soldiers to lock the door and to check the hitches
on the two horses responsible for dragging the wagon
to wherever Milliardo was. When everything was done
with soldier like efficiency and candor, the group of
soldiers formed ranks around the wagon and then they
were on the move.