Wolfbrothers and Gundam Pilots


Lone Wolf and Pilot: Chapter 4

L3-A0142 was an older, smaller wheel-type colony; instead of being a huge, empty disk or tube with enough sky and moving air for actual weather, the inside was set up in several "efficient" concentric floors.

The closer you got to the axis of the colony, the less gravity. Residential areas were on the rim, three middle floors after that were for factories and the like -- easier to do some types of work in reduced gravity -- and the last two around the center were supposed to have been recreational areas. Get some tourists in, maybe, get the workers to spit out their hard-earned credits before they even left the colony. In practice they were a tangle of abandoned night-clubs and struggling shops, dozens of drunkards and druggies and poor work-damaged, zero-grav-crippled assholes who should have been kicked off the colony when they stopped being able to pay rent, and instead went to ground there.

It was a real warren, and besides the colony still made an okay profit tapping them for the jobs nobody else wanted, so sometimes there would be a bust but most of the time the local cops didn't bother to try that hard.

Duo was vaguely aware of that; what he was more aware of, right now, was the shifting weight of the world in his bones, hopping off the Preventers shuttle where they'd been so, so light (but he had to stay in/under his seat like a good puppy.) This place was heavier, and there were people everywhere with home-scents of engine grease and space rock dust and exposed metal, the space-only glue they stuck in the joints. Plants in pots in carefully reconstituted soil, too high to pee on. Ozone and rat-gnawed wires.

People making mouth noises at them. Oh, right. Yeah. "Duo Maxwell and Killer. Nice to meetcha. When can we get to work?"

He'd almost made the mouth noises for hunt. They wanted to hunt. The other Preventers (wannabe pack, should-be pack what are we doing wrong) would not have liked it, though.

One man, one woman, and the man was afraid of Killer, though he didn't move back or outwardly react -- like they had no nose to smell it! Duo snorted. "He doesn't bite." Liar. "Without reason."

The dude Preventer twitched, looked at him startled and then looked down at Killer, like he was figuring out why they were that sure of things. "Sorry, I just -- I have a thing about dogs."

Not a dog! Killer grumbled back. "He says he's not a dog," Duo dutifully translated, but then relented, diplomatic as possible. "I can see the thing where they have the same bitey bits, though."

The man cringed as discreetly as he could.

"If it helps, think of him not as a dumb bitey animal, but as a... hm. Five year old kid?"

Duo paused to think about it. No, okay, sorry, the setup was just too tempting.

"... With a maw full of teeth."

"Thanks, that was very helpful."

"I live to serve."

Reluctant amusement: achieved. Okay, great, they'd bonded! Could he maybe stop having to waste brainpower on verbal dancing now. "So, that investigation."

The woman said, "It's the middle of the afternoon here, so if you don't mind having a courier bring your things to the Preventers hostel, we can go straight away. Ah, but the Chief said if you were jetlagged or your d -- your wolf had issues, we could wait a bit longer. But between you and me--"

"We're fine," Duo said. Killer nosed her. Gun scents, nice scents. No animal scents. A human cub. Chocolate?

Killer, no. She's taking us hunting. No chocolate.

"He'll probably try to thieve your chocolate once we're done for the day," Duo reminded himself to add. How would she know if he didn't make mouth noises at her? Poor blind wolf-less human.

There were no autonomous groundcars in this colony, but if you had either money or a badge you could get a priority railcar, basically an eight-person, automated little bullet train. Killer wedged himself in the narrow alley between the seats and flopped down, forcing the Preventers to do the splits across his huge ass to get to a seat. The dude one chose to keep standing by the door after he was done typing their destination in, weirdly enough.

"He's pretty big, isn't he," the woman one said dubiously as she measured his stretched-out length. Duo snorted out a laugh, remembering Shark and Glenfiddich.

"Pretty mid-sized actually."

"... No way."

Did he want to have a conversation? Usually he would, but they didn't know how sociable he was pretending to be usually and there were scents everywhere, and then the car docked into an elevator and moved them to the next layer and Duo and Killer could feel Killer's whiskers twitching differently, could feel as if the weight of their fur/clothes was taken in a little more by the ambient air, almost unnoticeable but... not.

It'd probably help if he arrived on scene and was not entirely non-verbal. Shit, he hadn't done that since the Church.

It'd been way too long since they hunted together if being dragged under sounded appealing. Okay, yes, mouth noises it was.

"Yes way." A pause. Okay, good start, now more words. Come on, Duo. "On the long side of mid-sized, but he could be several dozen pounds heavier and he still wouldn't be the one built most like a brick shithouse."

Oh hey, they were in the dark. Tunnel to the next level up. Some of the light bulbs inside this car needed changing. He didn't mind, though, Killer knew exactly where everything and everyone was.

For a moment there was no answer. Okay, he wasn't the only one having trouble with conversation. Cool. Yellow light poured in from the next level as they crossed through, and then the outside went dark again. Duo didn't even need to move to feel as if several pounds had been taken off his shoulders. Killer's tail started to beat in the dust and dried up chewing-gum stuck to the car's floor.

"... Anyway."

"We're here," the dude Preventer said, face blank, relief rising from his skin through the cloud of fear-sweat and adrenaline. Duo sighed and climbed to his feet.

He and the woman were almost bowled over by Killer, who had decided that he was in too much of a hurry to backward-walk himself free, and had flip-squirmed his way over the back of the seats, and then bounced through the door much too lightly for a creature so massive. Duo barked out a startled laugh and bounced to follow.

It felt so nice, so nice! He thought maybe he was even light enough to do a flip --

Killer, no! Duo sent, because no, he wasn't yet. Next level of the colony, he would be light enough, but right now he would manage maybe three fourths of a flip and crash nose first into the floor. Killer growled his annoyance, eyes narrowed, until Duo gave in and did a hands-free flip himself, all his senses wide open to share the world whirling with his brother.

(Not that he couldn't do as much in normal gravity, but it was the intent that counted.)

"There, happy?"

Killer wagged his tail. Yes. A tongue-lolling grin. Hunt now, happier.

"You jerk. Okay, let's go."

"The scene is," one of his babysitters started to say, but Killer could smell the gunpowder on the air, coming in from a wave of hot, recycled colony "breeze," fresh from a vent. Duo knew the intervals at which those were usually installed; they were already trotting ahead before Duo remembered it might not be all that polite and looked over his shoulder to grin and shrug an apology.

There were people there, in uniforms, local cops and Preventers, possibly waiting for them. Duo and Killer cared only inasmuch as they would have the sample scent they were supposed to track at hand. Killer trotted forward, head low to the ground, and ignored the humans' reactions entirely as he circled, (incidentally forcing them to close ranks,) cataloguing the smells of people and leather and various brands of shoes.

"Duo Maxwell and Killer, reporting as ordered," Duo said, and didn't bother to keep the cheerful note out of his voice. "No worries, he's just making sure he can filter you out of the scene." The woman did not look convinced as Killer sniffed at the back of her knee. "Or track you, either or."

He offered a hand to shake at random; a woman Preventer with short red hair and the woman cop reached at the same time, twitched at each other before the cop managed to get him first. Oh, territorial pissing contests, awesome.

"I'm Detective Halcourt."

"Agent Serris," the Preventer inserted.

"I was told you were still a trainee?"

Halcourt smelled of gunpowder and canned vegetables and vitamin powder. Her sweat had the unique tang of lifelong colonists. She sounded suspicious, maybe a little worried. Duo shrugged.

"We were in the war, Detective, we might not be up to date on the Preventer code of conduct yet but we're really not civilians." He prompted Killer to nose at her arm, on the side where she wasn't carrying her gun (there was getting her attention, and then there was getting the wrong kind of defensive attention.) "My brother is asking for the scent," he said brightly, "he's pretty eager to get started." He was nearly sure she was the one who had it; the Preventer looked sour enough about it.

Still frowning, Halcourt extracted a metal can from an inner pocket, popped the airtight seal. "That's the corner of the table that the previous wolf found marked most strongly," she said -- to Killer, which made Duo smile a little. Killer's ear pointed forward as he listened, nose already traveling hurriedly all over the bit of furniture. Man, they must have sawed it right off, it was pretty hilarious.

Duo let his eyes close halfway, so he wouldn't distract Killer with what he was looking at.

"Male. Older. Huh -- from L2." It tasted like home at the back of his throat, a scent he identified more by the feeling rising unbidden between his brother's mind and his than by the scent itself, too subtle for a human to tell apart from a thousand very close others. "Casual drug user, Rainbow Spark mostly. There's no Burst in his sweat, though plenty on his skin..."

Killer lifted his muzzle off the sample. Got it, he projected, fierce with anticipation. (teeth snapping closed on the back of someone's neck, tackling to the floor.) Halcourt twitched. Huh.

"And we're good to go." He barely stopped himself from jogging through the group and off, turned to Serris. "Ma'am?"

"Right. All my experience of hunting with a wolfbrother comes from Barton and Strauss, a few days ago, but I get the theory."

That'd make one of them who did, Duo thought, but he decided to stay quiet.

"Lyle and Cortez will stick with you. The rest of us will fan out through the streets to cut off anyone you'll flush out who might try to circle around."

Oh hey, now he had names for his shadows. He wondered which was which. "That should work," Duo agreed, and wondered how many tunnels and staircases this place had. One thing he remembered from back home was that unless they blocked people in three dimensions this kind of net only worked for sure on respectable people who did not routinely explore the sewers and maintenance crawlspaces.

Doesn't matter, Killer said, won't lose our prey. Duo gave a quiet chuckle of agreement.

"One thing Director Une warned me to remind you, Maxwell -- I can not hear you think. I will hear you report very regularly on your findings via this radio."

She handed him a headset, which he fit on with barely a sigh. He bet it had a locator beacon in it, and it itched at him, making him want to ditch it as soon as possible, but that was a terrorist reflex. Even if the prey had hacked their frequency and could see him coming that way, the Preventers regs said that it was more important that he could be found by his allies.

"Got it."

"Next corner over is where Barton's brother was attacked with the pepper bomb. The smell should have faded but--"

"Got it," Duo repeated patiently -- only he'd totally cut her off, that was so patient, wow. He couldn't even bring himself to care, Killer's head had swiveled around and he was already starting to trot ahead. Duo needed to follow.

Detective Halcourt fell into step with him as he jogged after his wolf. She reminded him a bit of a Catherine Bloom in her forties, frizzy brown hair and stern-concerned face; he was barely surprised when she asked; "I don't care which side -- but what outfit were you with?", and when a weak, untrained echo of must have been underage can't have been to the front rose to halo it. (Sometimes it happened, hearing someone who wasn't a wolfbrother, though it stayed rare -- and she was nowhere near as loud and clear as Quatre was.)

"My age," Duo answered instead, "is 'not old enough that wasting another three weeks for Coyote Bartonsbrother to get better will make an appreciable difference.' Ma'am. By the way, Barton and I are the same age."

He bounded ahead, turning the corner after Killer.

His brother was being cautious, little sniffs only, edging around the pepper scent. For a minute he nosed at a bit of ground that smelled like Coyote and pain, somehow, and he growled softly, and then he was holding his breath to cross the horrible bad evil pepper zone and searching for the prey-enemy scent. It was old and faint, layer upon layer of passerby feet and colony smells to cover it even in the short time that had passed, but Killer was stubborn, and when it was about scents, very patient.

He found it again, and they were off, Lyle and Cortez on their heels.


They'd rested well in the shuttle. Duo's body was trying to tell him it was getting tired, that it'd been hours, but he wasn't jogging fast. He'd found his stride, easy and regular like clockwork, and it felt good.

Killer trotted back and forth, and Duo scanned the streets; whenever one of his shadows started to pant too loudly he would tap the radio and ask Control to switch them out for fresher ones.

Up, Killer told him, and circled the maintenance door again waiting for Duo to open it. It was locked, half-heartedly; a light kick at the bottom of the door panel where other shoes had left scuff marks by the dozen popped the lock out of alignment, allowing it to open.

"Going up," he said, and followed his brother up clanging metal steps. Someone asked him to wait, that they were sending men to the exit. If he paused now he would lose his pace and his muscles would stop moving like a well-oiled machine, so he said he'd wait upstairs. Killer didn't pause.

Upstairs the lock was solid but the lower panel of the door was gone, edges rusted into reddish lace; Killer wriggled through, Duo dodged low, stepped through, put his back to the wall. He scanned the street, found nothing, no one. It was getting too late for families, not late enough for partying. (Brussels time: one AM. They'd napped in the shuttle. They were fine.)

Lighter here, so nice, and Killer allowed himself one dreamily long, floating jump before he put his nose back to the street, lengthening his endless strides without making them any higher, so he wouldn't lose the faint traces. Duo bounced after him.

(The dude should have taken the public cars, Duo couldn't help but think, with so many users to swamp his scent they'd have lost him in a hot minute, but then he remembered they all had cameras, and the station didn't (usually) have wolfbrothers, so maybe not.)

"Maxwell, slow down!" someone said in his ear. Duo grunted an acknowledgement.

"Take the cars to Seventh and B-street intersection, meet me there," he offered instead. He could hear his current shadows breathing hard a half-block behind him, and at this gravity it wouldn't be too hard to catch up; Killer couldn't run all-out or he'd risk losing the thread of scent he followed. It wasn't like they were entirely without backup.

Meanwhile there was either a mole in the local police station or a hacker, as Trowa had told him, and if it was a mole he could see them trying to slow him down as he closed in...

Maybe he was being paranoid.

Something other slammed into his mind -- (danger, this is the street you're on, this is the danger zone, you're in it, move) -- instant awareness, soul-deep. "Killer!" he yelled, kicking off the ground to dive ahead.

Something exploded behind him with a crash of glass, a cloud of gray dust catching up, surrounding him. He closed his eyes, locked his chest, no breathing, shoved at Killer's mind to keep going, to outrun this.

They could see the street in their minds, even with their eyes closed, the way it branched off left into a narrow alley, how there would be an aeration grate at the end. Killer planted his four paws on the street, pads and claws gripping to redirect his massive bulk; Duo touched the ground hand first, twenty feet past the epicenter of the bomb, rolled once, twice to bleed off momentum, and followed. His feet skidded some; he had to grab onto a street sign pole and swing himself toward the mouth of the alley.

The gray stuff was everywhere. Once inside the alley, Duo cracked his eye open wider, took a sniff, sneezed; shit. Up! he prodded; Killer sneezed in turn and gathered his limbs under his body, ran at the wall, bounced and twisted the way that only worked in low gravity. He landed on the fire escape's first landing with a rattling clang; Duo followed.

The cloud was still expanding, though it thinned as it went. If they stayed on top of the staircase it'd catch up; they would get affected less, but they'd be affected anyway. Duo paused briefly on the third landing to tap his headset. "Maxwell and Killer -- no casualties. Lost our escort."

(Prey's escaping. )

There was that. Smiling, he grabbed hold of the guardrail on both sides of the hatch that led to the next level, rammed both feet in. Clang. "In pursuit."

Long, twisty corridors lit by weak blue-green flickers, leading to safe rooms in case the air supply was contaminated or the fans broke (pretty rusty hatches), to escape pods in case the colony broke (he wondered how long since the last maintenance.) He and Killer veered left, once again, paws and feet running muted-soft, hunting; the assailant would be escaping using this space, too. They didn't have a visual, but --

(I do.)


"--xwell -- need to --"

"Signal's breaking down," he whispered cheerfully into his headset, and then Killer's ruff prickled up from ears to shoulder blades. Oho. "Live scent found, repeat, live scent found."

After that he shut up because there was no need to yell they were coming, now was there.

They ghosted along the trail, stalking. They could capture their prey now, or... hm. Nah. Better to see where it was running to.

Fun, Killer told him, so fun, so fun, hunt chase stalk, doesn't know!

You little psychopath, Duo laughed back, silent, teeth bared.

But sneaky.

Yeah, it's fun to be sneaky.

They were starting to hear footsteps, hurried; the man was jogging, though, not running at full tilt. Hm.

(flush him out), said another voice, (waiting net/pack/corral-of-people, doitnow)

Huh, yeah, they had to be near the elevator-car-train things, no doubt there would be cops -- there were, he could almost smell them, fanning out, looking for him, ("Damn it, if we lose the Director's rookie" -- "where the hell did that asshole and his hellbeast--").

... Yeah, okay. Killer?

Killer lolled his tongue for a second, and then took a deep breath, and howled.

The amount of noise was horrific. Metal walls and narrow corridors bounced the sound along, everywhere, echoed it all over the place.

Scrabbling feet, a sudden stink of fresh sweat and adrenaline.

Duo let out a pretty good imitation of a wolf snarl, and tried not to laugh; Killer allowed his claws to rake the floor as he touched down only to leap forward again, so light! The man was running full-tilt now, and they were both tired, they'd been running all day; Duo barely felt his body anymore but he knew he would, the second they stopped.

There was no way in hell they would lose him now.

Clang, clang, clang, going up metal rungs -- a ladder, who needed a ladder in this gravity.

Though the manhole hatch was going to be pretty narrow for his brother, Duo realized a second later as he turned the corner to watch it slam closed. Damn, so maybe the prey was vaguely smart. (Coyote would have fit through there, he was sure.) Where to --

(Next turn, left and then right, smells like salt and beer and old stale piss and human sweat (what's a hobo?))

They went. (It did smell exactly like advertised.) They burst through a group of old, well-used men and women, still flailing with nerves after Killer's howl, bounced across the room, and were gone. Cardboard was blocking a broken window; Killer jumped right through, Duo on his heels. They rebounded onto the street and flipped left and there it was, there he was, the running man. He threw them a panicked look over his shoulder and started leaping down the street at breakneck speeds.

"--Maxwell! You --"

"In pursuit! Asian male, in his twenties, shoulder-length black hair, dark blue shirt, knee-high black boots--"

"--We've got you on the map, keep going--" (they're waiting at the corner, another two crossroads, don't let him turn--)

Won't, he and Killer promised.

He let Killer speed ahead, the wolf keeping low to the ground, though his paws barely had enough time to brush, to speed him ahead, before he was leaping forward again. No way he would attain that kind of speed anywhere on Earth, no way a man would match, with only two feet to push off of and no long, strong back to snap himself forward.

"--must not make the arrest yourself--"

He wasn't stupid. He didn't have a gun, of course he wouldn't.

(Not stupid/doesn't have a gun. Huh.)

Oh, fuck you, buddy.

Half a block ahead, Killer snapped his fangs at the man's heels to keep him from turning into another street, and had to brake hard not to overtake him, or he and Duo would have to make the arrest right there. Passersby hurried to find cover, or stared dumbly, pressed against the buildings -- not the best place for it.

Killer had to pretend to stumble to let the man gain momentum again, but then they were almost at the corner behind which --


Killer braked hard. The suspect dodged into the next street.

(Go back a block.)

You could tell us where the fuck we're going! Duo threw back, but he went, landing in a deep crouch and then kicking back the way he had come from. It didn't take Killer long to catch up.

(From the yelling behind him the suspect had run right into the waiting arms of the local police. Success.)

(Shh running now. Preyburrow/wolfless too slow. Right-left-right follow the chemical burn in your nose.)

It was so easy. The images were so clear, the position of everyone in all three dimensions, every member of the hunt, every obstacle, Duo and Killer's and the others' specific abilities, the terrain they were dealing with, everything unrolling smooth and lightning-fast -- if you do this/then we do that, you can/then we can/yes.

Yes. There.

Duo didn't know who had even thought it first.

Some old little shop, large windows, grimy. Plastic, not glass, wouldn't break. He flipped over his wolf, Killer crouching low to brake with his paws planted wide, braced his shoulder blades against Killer's side; a good hard kick to the door lock sent it crashing into the wall. (Crazy how rusted and weak everything was around here. Made him miss home almost.)

Front room, empty, backroom noisy with people running. "Preventers! Freeze!" Like hell they would, but it was almost fun to bark it out like that, even more fun when Killer snarled and threw himself bodily at the next door, ramming it with his shoulder and shaking the whole frame before letting Duo tear off the electronic lock's cover and slap two wires together to force it open. (Funny how that one actually locked.)

The backroom had been converted into a laboratory; the heavy equipment had been broken and left behind. Duo caught a glimpse of someone running out of the back door, a backpack on their shoulders -- fucking morons, leave the drug, make more later. He jumped over the table, Killer snaked his way under it, and they were chasing people once again. (Man were his thighs starting to ache.)

The back door opened onto a narrow alley, almost a long corridor. The buildings all along were full of fire escapes and ramps, some really not regulation -- planks going from one side's second story to the other side, but the prey was on the ground level, even though they were going to try leaping up to reach a first floor landing in a hot second.

One of them did try it, at that, and then a yellow streak of fur burst out of a first-floor window and caught it -- him? -- right in the ribs.

Duo got to watch the man and the other bondwolf pinball to the next wall over and hit in oddly slow motion. The way they rebounded before drifting to the floor seemed almost too slow for any real damage, but the man flopped like a bag of bones on landing and didn't move again.

The yellow wolf -- Mary -- stood in the middle of the alley, staring at the last one -- woman? -- and not growling, not flicking her ears, no nothing.

Gunpowder and rage scents, she shared, just as the drug runner shoved a hand into her pocket to grab her weapon.

Heero landed on her with pinpoint accuracy.

The gravity was too weak for him to feel like a ton of bricks, but once he was on her back it was a really simple matter to immobilize her arms and force her to let go. Duo hopped closer and tried not to grin (and tried not to yell where have you been, you goddamned asshole); he kicked the gun aside where no one could get at it in a hurry, and oh, he wanted to -- nrgh, but Killer wanted it more, so he set about checking the unconscious man for weapons and life-threatening issues. He worked blind, hands feeling their way, he couldn't even take his eyes off Heero that long. The asshole might ghost away again if he did!

Killer bounced his way past Heero, ears up and tail wagging, and then he and Mary touched noses and -- and a rush of hot wind through an Earth city, car exhaust and dog markings and stray cats, ice cream melting sweet and cloying on the pavement tangled itself up with hot asphalt and the blood-like tang of rust in the back of your mouth, with ozone and burnt plastic and overloading engines and cordite and nitroglycerin and blood.

Heero finished securing the thrashing woman with the straps of her own backpack and finally turned to look at Duo, to let Duo see more than the back of his head for the first time in two fucking years. His hair was still a mess of thick brown hair, cut short over the back of his neck and falling on his face. No spandex and tanktops, though; he wore miner overalls, zipped up to his throat, it was a wonder Duo had recognized him at all!

I did wear other things, Heero sent, with flickers of images of other outfits he'd worn, but Duo shrugged them off with the retort that they all felt like disguises.

He couldn't believe they were talking about clothes.

I'm not the one in uniform.

Fuck you so much.

He secured the man's arms with handcuffs Trowa had handed him -- so practical! -- and straightened up. His thigh muscles burned with the strain, his hip sockets protested. He thought if he sat down he wasn't going to get back up again.

"What the hell are you even doing here?" he asked, and held his hand out for Mary. "Hey girl. All grown up, now, I see."

Last he'd seen her she was a teenage wolf, all gangly and barely reaching the middle of Killer's barrel; she was almost Killer's height at the withers now, and her short, dense coat underlined an impressive musculature. She was probably heavier than Duo's brother was.

Strong, she agreed, and allowed him to trail his fingers along her muzzle.

"So what's with the miner disguise?"

Heero checked that the woman was well secured and looked up at him. "It's not a disguise. I work there."

Huh. Yeah, okay, there was rock dust on his pant legs and his sleeves, and traces of sweat. Yeah. He still didn't look big, even for an eighteen-year-old, but Duo could see him mining, strangely enough. Wow. So weird, imagining Heero Yuy, mystery pilot-slash-hacker-slash-asskicker extraordinaire, holding that kind of physical job.

"... Huh. So how the heck did no one notice Mary?"

"We stay on the asteroid. Too many cameras on the colony." Had to disable so many to make ourselves a way to here, Heero thought/remembered, not quite at him, but... openly enough that Duo could hear it if he tried, could even see flashes of Heero's hands typing away, dismantling control panels, rerouting feeds, of Mary sneaking through the very precise, narrow paths on which she was invisible.

Wow, it was almost like having an actual conversation, instead of a terse exchange of the bare minimum of necessary information. Duo thought he liked it. Like, a lot.

"--Maxwell where the fuck are you!?--"

Whoops. Heero, stay here! he pushed at him before he gave the address, and the fact that he had two more suspects in custody and yeah, okay, he wouldn't mind backup to pick them up. Shit, there was no way Heero would stay that long and allow himself and his sister to be seen, and then Duo wouldn't even get to know how he and Mary had known to be here, to help --

(That synergy, so perfect. Was this what it was like to hunt with your own pack? He didn't want to lose it again, Killer didn't want--)

"I was the one who told Une about the drugs in the first place," Heero said, almost absently, and looked at his sister. Mary stared back, for a second, something passing between them out of range of the pack bond, and then she gave Killer a nudge with her muzzle and turned away.

"Wait -- what? But she said she wasn't in contact with you!" Duo protested, even as Mary jumped against a wall and rebounded across the street to catch herself on a windowsill. Her sleek yellow tail disappeared into the shadows, and then Heero followed, catching the edge of the window with his hands and pulling himself up, smooth and effortless.

She thinks she isn't, Heero sent, a last thought, and then he was gone from Duo's mind again.

Killer whined, went up on his back paws to claw sadly at the wall, then flopped back down.

"Yeah, me too, buddy. Me too."

With a sigh, he checked on the prisoners again. The woman tried to spit on him and kick him in the knee, so Duo pursed his lips and pointedly said nothing when Killer sat on her.

He wondered if it would feel like that, to hunt with Trowa and Wufei. Maybe they ought to make more efforts to finally be promoted enough to get to try.

Cameras or not, he was going to have to tell Une -- Glen might not recognize Mary's scent on Killer's fur but Coyote would, and the prisoners had no reason not to mention them anyway. But by the time anyone got around to checking on the mining asteroid for a war vet and his wolf they'd be long gone, and who knew how long it'd take to meet again.