Mobile Suit Gundam Iscariot
Title: Mobile Suit Gundam ISCARIOT
Fandom: Gundam (Meta)
Disclaimer: No profit is being made on this fanwork.
Rating: T Overall
Summary: Aleksei Vivek dreams of becoming an ace mobile suit pilot. It's all he's wanted and all he's worked for. But what happens when he gets to NIN-ANA, the toughest training school there is? What happens to a dream when it's time to wake up?
Notes: The end quite possibly begins.
"It'll be odd without Tisiphone standing guard," Eoin said as the four of them wandered into Mick's hangar that evening.
"Even more disappointing that we don't get to do the repairs," Nari noted sourly as she glanced back at him. "Even if it would take us the entire year."
"That's why we're not doing it," Aleksei said with a sigh. As much as he'd like to do something to help get Tisiphone back into perfect condition, he was well aware that he wouldn't even know what sort of camera array it took if it fell on his head.
They circled around Rangda, paying more attention to each other than...
There was no blank space where Tisiphone was supposed to standing. Instead there was a beast. Easily twice Tisiphone's sheer bulk, it was also at least two meters taller and was fitted with multiple armaments.
"Ohgawds, what is..." Nari stopped dead in her tracks and Eoin crashed into her, grabbing her to keep them both from falling.
"Damn..." Whitby managed.
Aleksei had a guess. It was an older mobile suit, and he'd found information on similar. It was still one of NIN-ANA's Gundam-types, he was sure. But it lacked the hallmarks of Jet's designs, which was quite interesting. But then again, Aeon's Anaplekte also wasn't one of Jet's, so they were still around...
Jet's voice cut through the stunned silence. Aleksei looked quickly to where Jet sat, not really paying much attention to him, but instead to the sofa, which contained Dr. Hisano and a drowsy-looking Mitra leaning against her.
Aleksei could only imagine that Mitra wouldn't want to be seen in such a casual pose, but he barely shifted until Dr. Hisano gave him a little nudge.
"Oh... come sit," he said, smiling as he sat up. "Sorry... it's been a bit of a long day."
"Understandable," Nari said softly, making the first move as she untangled herself from Eoin's grasp. "We were just all looking at..."
"Akhlys," Jet finished. "Yes, I can imagine you'd want to. I never really get tired of looking at Akhlys either." He smiled and gestured for them all to come closer.
"Aleksei." Jet got to his feet and stood staring up at Akhlys. "You know how you're so fond of Atropos because it saved your life?"
"Well, I suppose I feel the same way about Akhlys, because while it was very much my relationship with Mick that made all the difference as to how my life has gone, it was Akhlys that was the key. So I guess Akhlys saved my life," Jet said, turning to smile at Aleksei.
"I thought it had been retired," Eoin said. "Mick said..."
"It's only until Tisiphone is repaired," Mitra said with a strange little smile. "Akhlys is a remnant of a time past and perhaps shouldn't make too many appearances outside Jet's tinkering."
"Akhlys is a survivor," Jet noted.
Slowly, the quartet sat, bunching together on crates to not be too close to Dr. Hisano or Mitra and leaving Jet's chair open.
"You four seem to be a part of all the excitement around here," Mitra said, glancing at each one of them for a long moment. "Perhaps because of the company you've chosen."
"They're good students," Jet countered. "And yes, they've gotten quite the unique experience thus far. Even tonight."
He looked back to Akhlys.
"Mick had better not need to field her."
"He took his turn in the rotation," Mitra said firmly. "Mick agreed, though..."
Aleksei held his breath, but Mitra did not elaborate. Instead he glanced to Dr. Hisano, who gave him a little nod, before he looked back to the quartet.
"Are you all glad to be here?"
"Yes," Nari said. "More so now than before."
"It's been a dream of mine for so long," Aleksei admitted. "I was really disappointed to not be ranked as a pilot, but..." He looked over to Jet. "I think the ranking was correct. I... really like the thought of doing more than just flying."
Mitra gave Aleksei a strange little smile. "That's good to hear, Aleksei. There have been others whose aptitudes have betrayed their attitudes, and it's assuring to know that the decisions that have been made for them were not in error."
"Others?" Eoin questioned. "Would have been nice to hear that when Aleksei thought the universe was ending."
"Mmm. Aeon, for starters," Mitra said. "And Amde, here, as well."
"And here I am as a doctor," Dr. Hisano said with a little smile. "But Aeon, yes, I'd nearly forgotten... he wanted to be the best mechanic NIN-ANA ever produced. He thought he could walk on through and assign himself to whatever team he wanted."
"Instead, he's one of the best pilots we've ever had," Jet said as he finally went back to his chair. "Leader of the best Recovery Team we've ever had.
"What were you ranked as, Doctor Hisano?" Nari questioned.
"Originally, I was part of a combat mission team," Dr. Hisano replied, smiling. "Though... My medical calling proved stronger and my team was supportive of my decision to attend medical school. Not that I wasn't home and testing for Jet whenever I could."
"Without their leader, her team was split to do independent work," Jet added. "Which is how Mick and Akhlys came into my life. Though that is a bit of a long story that's more Mick's to tell than mine."
Aleksei stared, a little stunned, at Dr. Hisano. She was a former combat mission team leader. She... had been Mick's team leader. That meant--
"Did you have a Gundam?" Whitby asked. "Who else was on your team? Did they have Gundams?"
"Alecto. And Tisiphone for about a week, once," Dr. Hisano said before shaking her head. "I... would prefer not to talk about the other member of my team, though. I'm sorry."
"Anaplekte," Jet said firmly, ignoring the look Dr. Hisano shot him. "Before it went to Aeon, though it might have had another pilot in there in between. And also, very briefly before the team was split and everyone was reassigned, Atropos."
"Atropos..." Mitra had a bit of a faraway look in his pale eyes. Beside him, Dr. Hisano had an equally strange look on her face but didn't say a word.
Aleksei winced. When Dr. Hisano had introduced him to Aeon, she'd mentioned having been engaged to his older brother. Though no one ever spoke about him. Something had happened - something bad. Something that he hoped someone would tell him about once they were ready.
"And Mick had Akhlys, of course," Jet added, drawing their attention back to the hulking machine. "Would you four like a quick tour?"
Not a one of them had to be asked twice.
Dr. Hisano and Mitra were gone by the time they'd finished.
Aleksei stared at his datapad, trying to figure out who the message was from, but he was stumped.
NIN-ANA: [Go deeper. Atropos is more than just a mobile suit.]
A: [What does that mean?]
[Message Delivery Failed]
Aleksei frowned and tried again.
A: [What does that mean?]
[Message Delivery Failed]
Whitby was looking at his own datapad, frozen, when a message from Aleksei came in. He didn't read it right away, though - he stared for another minute at the last incoming bit of text.
NIN-ANA: [What are you thinking, Darius?]
Carefully, he saved the message to his archive and switched over to see what Aleksei wanted.
A: [I just got a strange message...]
Whitby frowned, a thousand possibilities racing through his mind.
W: [What did it say?]
He'd taken a couple minutes to reply -- he didn't know if Aleksei would still there to respond. But a few seconds later, there was a telltale beep.
A: [It was about Atropos. But... I couldn't reply to it. It wasn't from anyone, somehow.]
Whitby sucked in his breath, unsure how to ask his next question without being too obvious. Not that Aleksei would be worried about anything other than his own situation.
W: [What do you mean 'it wasn't from anyone'?]
A: [It just said it was from NIN-ANA. As the sender. And when I tried to reply, I just got a failed message.]
Whitby rolled over on his bed, propping himself up on his elbows before replying. He could pull up a complete roster of residents, but most of their actual jobs were obscured.
But how would anyone know? How? Unless Psyche was there. But she wouldn't bother hiding... Would she? No, she'd let him know. Besides, all of that had been wiped. All of it. Someone had found out afterward and...
W: [That's really strange. It wasn't from Mick or Jet?]
It would have been easy to dismiss Aleksei's message as a glitch if he hadn't gotten one of his own at almost exactly the same moment.
A: [No... it was almost contradicting them... There's something they're not telling me.]
W: [What did it say?]
A: [Fwd: NIN-ANA: Go deeper. Atropos is more than just a mobile suit.]
Whitby stared. Even the sender itself was the same. Just NIN-ANA, no other name and likely no other information in hidden headers or anything.
W: [I think we have to think about what we really know about Atropos.]
A: [Jet asked me not to tell, but he didn't just take me on a tour of machines that night.]
A: [One of them had a functioning OS and stills of Atropos on it.]
Whitby blinked, torn away from three quick searches on who might be able to send messages anonymously. There had to be plenty of talented engineers apart from the school, but how would any of them know who he was?
A: [Within the last couple of years.]
W: [Is that good or bad?]
Thinking about Atropos was far easier than thinking about his own predicament.
Whitby narrowed his search to within the school. And then went back to see if he had a single file still around where he used his handle. Maybe on what he'd tried to load from his drive, but those had all been rejected...
His datapad beeped, but he didn't switch back over to Aleksei's reply right away.
NIN-ANA: ['I let her know you're here.']
A: [I'm not sure. What do you think?]
Whitby flipped back to the first message and tried to respond.
W: [Who are you?]
[Message Delivery Failed]
W: [Who are you?]
[Message Delivery Failed]
NIN-ANA: [Surely you've figured that out by now.]
A: [Whitby? You still there?]
W: [More tired than I thought, sorry. Catch you tomorrow?]
A: [Yeah. Feel about the same. Night.]
Whitby flipped back to the last 'anonymous' message and stared at it. Was it Jet? There wasn't anyone else in the colony that had that much control over the central systems and certainly not over the messaging and datapad applications. Well, Mitra perhaps but Mitra had looked completely exhausted and was probably long asleep. And besides, Mitra just didn't seem like he'd have the time to be pretty much running the school and also poking into everyone's private lives.
At least he and Jet had apparently made up. Mick's absence was troubling, though, unless he was just looking after Tisiphone for a spell.
Whitby set his datapad aside and rolled. It was Mick - he was probably sanitizing the cockpit before the Third Years who'd be repairing it got a good look at the stash of porn he kept in there.
Still... someone knew his other name. Someone knew about him and Psyche. Someone really might've told Psyche that... Wait, Psyche knew he was on NIN-ANA. She always had.
He went back to the message and then he saw it. Quotes. He didn't understand.
"I let her know you're here," he said to himself. "I let her know you're here."
Was he supposed to tell that to someone? Why not message them directly?
His datapad was always on his person, and monitored constantly for any unauthorized access. It had been even more secured before coming to NIN-ANA, but he'd had to disable and remove a lot of applications. But before that...
He was surprised to wake up with his alarm -- he hadn't remembered falling asleep.
But the messages were still there. He hadn't dreamed them.
Pink. Sparkles. And far too much time to kill before the mission began.
Gate glanced from her flawless nails to the mobile suits in the Pandemonium's main hangar. Each one had been gone over carefully, right down a hundred-point inspection that Gate had created herself...
Two Safphirs, three Emeraldes, two Rubises, Jackal's Deamonde... She sighed.
Not that Solitaire had so much as touched his own mobile suit since the last time she'd gone over it, but Gate couldn't help herself. There was time to kill.
She let herself out of the main hangar and into a much smaller one where a lone mobile suit was secured.
"Morning, Atropos," Gate said as she looked up at the beautiful red and white machine in front of her. It'd been two years since she'd first seen it. And she never grew tired of admiring it.
"Of all the places, this is where you end up sleeping?" Jet poked at Mick's bare stomach and shook his head. "Do I even want to know where you've been, by the way? I could try to guess by the smell, but you showered."
"Grading papers," Mick replied, mumbling. "And of course I showered."
"Mmm, do I assume that's a euphemism or do I believe you?" Jet mused as he turned and swung his legs over the edge of the bed. He stretched and glanced at the clock. "I must have really slept hard. I didn't even feel you crawl in."
"You were out cold."
"I'm guessing you were, too... Good thing it's Workshop day or you'd be late for class."
"Varuna is up to something," Mick said flatly. "I just don't know what."
"Varuna is always up to something," Jet replied quickly. "I'll go make breakfast."
Mick reached to pull the covers back over his head. Akhlys had been a surprise. Not an unwelcome one, but one that even Jet had barely commented on. It felt too normal, or too staged. Something was off... Normally when someone managed to trash their machine, they were just on the standby list til their mobile suit was repaired, but with Tisiphone out for a couple of weeks, Akhlys had been transferred back to his care without even a question.
He was far from NIN-ANA's best pilot, or even its most seasoned. That was part of the charm of life there - plenty of calm, uneventful days punctuated with messy, awful missions that no one else ever would want to do. Not the flashy stuff, not the stuff that required the utmost precision. Just the messy, awful stuff. That was the stuff that he did.
But Mick would never not trust Jet. He just wished that Jet would be a little more open with him.
"Coffee..." Jet's voice was soft, and Mick heard the telltale clunk of a coffee mug hitting the bedside table a moment later.
"I'm going to have to sleep here more often," Mick commented, peering out and up at Jet, who hadn't bothered with anything other than his pajamas yet.
But there was a look in Jet's eyes that was very serious and almost terrifying.
"Atropos is out there," Jet said with an almost-practiced flatness. "I've found recent data -- well, within the last couple of years, which is recent enough.
"When it's spotted again, Varuna is going to issue an Iscariot Command."
Immediately, Mick wished he hadn't woken up. Ever.
"The team will be you, me, and Amde," Jet continued. "That is why you've been re-assigned Akhlys. Varuna knows what you can do with it."
"When the fuck were you going to tell me?" Mick questioned, sitting up and shaking his head. "When the fuck were you going to tell me that, Jet?"
"I was going to tell you about Atropos once I'd finished analyzing the data. As for the Iscariot - I just found out," Jet replied, his tone terse. "Mitra was waiting at the kitchen table."
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