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: Movements within.
NIN-ANA: [Any closer?]
Whitby rolled over and read the message again. He'd been hoping it was Tearle or Lyndee, both of whom he'd spent more time chatting with in the last couple of months. He'd added a lot of people to his message lists, actually. And spent less time thinking about what he'd left behind.
"You again," Whitby mumbled before pecking out a response.
W: [To what? Nothing has happened. It's been two months of perfectly normal nothingness.]
[Message Delivery Failed]
He groaned. There was nothing worse than one-sided taunting.
NIN-ANA: [You think so?]
Whitby stared. Even if his messages weren't going anywhere, they were still being replied to.
W: [How are you doing that?]
[Message Delivery Failed]
NIN-ANA: [A better question is this: How much bliss is there in ignorance?]
W: [What's that supposed to mean?]
[Message Delivery Failed]
There was not another response.
"How many am I missing?" Lyndee asked, holding out her datapad to Jet, who took it and studied it for a long moment.
"A few," he said with a little chuckle. "Quite a few."
"Then take us to see more," she demanded, frowning. "I want to catalogue every mobile suit in the entire colony."
"Why not do your homework instead?" Nari questioned from where she sat. This time, she'd taken the crate, while Lyndee had sandwiched herself between Mick and Jet.
"I'm writing about mobile suits," Lyndee shot back, followed by the tip of her tongue darting out from between her lips.
"No, you're not," Mick reminded her. "You're writing about the ways that ancient civilizations created extensive mythologies to explain natural phenomenon and then coming up with your own 'myth' to explain something about NIN-ANA."
"Like mobile suits..." Lyndee said firmly.
"I'm writing about Commander Varuna," Eoin said. "Never seen the guy, so it makes it a little easier."
Jet and Mick looked at each other above Lyndee's head, a glance that Whitby didn't miss. His own story was Cardinell as a triple-goddess, though he couldn't quite squeeze everything in perfectly.
"I figure we see Varuna all the time," Nari said firmly. "We just don't know it's him, so we don't think anything of it."
"You think so?" Aleksei asked her, before looking to Mick and Jet. "You two have met him before, right? You know what he looks like."
"Of course," Jet said. "Though I would like to think that if you saw him at work, you'd know it was him right away."
"And he's a bit of a workaholic," Mick added. "Not unlike someone else."
"Not as bad as I used to be," Jet said. His smile was soft, and there was something about it that suggested that it had only been a recent change.
"You'll definitely meet Varuna at some point during your second year," Mick continued. "He likes to speak to everyone individually about what they'd like to do with their lives. And put a little fear into them."
"He's scary?" Lyndee questioned, looking to Mick.
"In a way, I suppose. 'Intimidating' might be a more appropriate word," Jet suggested. "He's really quite a presence."
"I'm so going to use this," Eoin said, before going back to his fast typing.
"Ah, no fair," Nari complained. "Help us out, too!"
"That would probably be cheating," a soft voice said from behind Whitby and Aleksei. While Mick and Jet had probably seen Mitra enter, Lyndee had been poking at her datapad again and nearly jumped out of her skin at the sound of someone who wasn't a usual.
"Would any of you mind if I borrowed Jet for just a moment?" Mitra questioned, before circling around to gaze up at Aditi. It was the same white as his uniform, crisp and fit.
Jet seemed to shrink a bit. "About...?"
"It's time for the hangar reassignments we've previously discussed," Mitra said as he looked back to Jet and Mick.
"Now? Tonight?" Jet asked, before standing and gesturing to the students.
"Aeon's team has left for another assignment," Mitra said firmly. "There's staging space available, and we can bring Akhlys back here if it would be a comfort."
He paused and carefully fixed one of his jacket cuffs, pale hands smoothing white material over thin pale wrists.
"Official orders, Jet. There's no room to argue."
"Understood," Jet replied with a terse nod. "Would you like to inspect the machines to be relocated?"
"Once the moves are complete," Mitra replied. His gaze went back to Aditi. "You'll move Ereshkigal here?"
"Of course," Jet said. "We'll begin shortly. Though Ereshkigal..."
"Won't be an issue, I promise," Mitra said with a strange little grin. "Now... I have other matters to attend to, if you'll excuse me."
Once he was gone, Mick swore as he stood.
"No," Jet said firmly. "Don't even start. We're going to do it and that's all there really is to any of it. We're going to do it."
"Do what?" Nari asked. "Why do you have to move things tonight?"
"To put it simply," Mick explained, "because that's the only way I can put it right now - the only way I even want to think about it, - Jet, Dr. Amde and myself have been put on active duty for a very special assignment that involves us personally. Very personally. But we've been waiting for more data."
"If Varuna wants us to ready our mobile suits, then it's nearly time to go," Jet added. "But that could mean tomorrow, or in weeks or even months. His leads may not pan out."
"And he sends Mitra to tell you the bad news," Eoin said with a little headshake. "That's really not fair. He should tell you himself."
"Anything from Mitra's mouth is the same as from Varuna's," Jet replied quickly, before looking around at all of them. "Now... who can I call up to help move mobile suits?"
Five hands were immediately raised.
"Ereshkigal," Lyndee guessed, correctly. Aleksei just stared. The machine was a beast - big, black, and with what looked suspiciously like horns behind its razor-sharp v-fin.
"Ereshkigal," Jet replied. "But not who we're moving first."
"Who does it belong to?" Aleksei asked. He couldn't imagine it not having a pilot - not if Mitra had singled it out for movement.
"Guess," Mick said as he ambled along behind everyone into the hangar. He poked Eoin on the shoulder with one finger.
"Mmm?" Eoin frowned before figuring it out. "Varuna!"
"Exactly," Jet confirmed. "It'll also be the hardest to move, as it's the most finely tuned to its pilot. But then again, Amde will know instantly that someone was in Alecto."
"That's why I'm here," a sleepy voice said from behind Mick. Stepping aside, he revealed Dr. Hisano dressed down to something that would have fit better on Cardinell. She was wearing just cargo pants and a supportive tank top, but no jacket. Yawning, she looked nothing like a doctor and everything like a half-asleep pilot. "Little white-haired birdie told me that it was that time."
"Amde." Jet simply seemed to look her over. "Well... I guess we're all here."
"We are," Dr. Hisano replied. "So the gist seems to be that we're swapping out machines everywhere?"
"Alecto, Klotho and Tisiphone to Hangar Three for standby," Jet began, before reaching down into his jacket pockets and pulling out his gloves. "Hang on..."
He put them on quickly, and linked them to his datapad. Instantly, a massive diagram appeared on a screen in thin air.
"Alecto, Klotho and Tisi to Hangar Three," he started again, drawing lines from three separate hangars down to the one that Aeon's team had been in - the same one that Valentine used.
"And then Aither and Rangda to Hangar Four - there's room - and that'll leave space for Akhlys and Ereshkigal to move back to our space," Jet finished. "If there wasn't room with Angelos and those, then we'd really be playing a game."
"So that's seven moves," Mick said. "And eight pilots."
"I can't," Lyndee said quickly. "I'll just be support."
"You can and will," Mick said, giving her a friendly little pat on the shoulder that made her blush.
"I don't know..."
"I'm about the least qualified," Whitby said after a moment.
"We could bring, mmm, Abnoba or Nikkal over here for fun," Jet said, erasing his mid-air screen and drawing a new set of lines. Would make more room over there if we're going to be squeezing both Aither and Rangda in."
"Not a bad idea," Dr. Hisano replied. "Nikkal would be the best move, I think."
"You're just humoring us..." Nari started, but Eoin put out a hand to silence her.
"We wouldn't be here if they were," he told her. "We can do this."
"I'll take Alecto," Dr. Hisano said. "Mick, no one is getting in Akhlys aside from you. I'll assume that Ereshkigal will need some special consideration..."
"I can handle it," Jet said, flexing his fingers and closing all of the screens at once.
"Well," Dr. Hisano said as she pointed to each First Year in turn. "Consider this an extra Workshop. Aleksei, you'll have Tisiphone. Eoin, Rangda. Nari, I think you'd be good in Nikkal. Lyndee, try out Aither. And Whitby, give Jet's Klotho a chance."
"Klotho?" Whitby choked. Aleksei was just sort of lost. Tisiphone. Even if it wasn't the mobile suit of his dreams, it was Tisiphone and he was going to get to fly it, if only for a kilometer or so.
"What's Nikkal like?" Nari asked Dr. Hisano, apparently completely forgetting that it had been potentially brought up as an extra machine just to make everyone happy. Though doing machine moves wasn't exactly something to do on a whim, which Aleksei knew. And putting a First Year pilot - mechanic - in an actual Gundam...
"Beautiful," Dr. Hisano replied.
"You'll do fine in Klotho," Jet told Whitby. "I'm not much of a pilot, after all. It's designed for someone with their skills elsewhere. And it's not like you're going to be fighting off pirates or anything - you'll just be doing a simple drop-launch and then following your screens to the correct location."
Finally, Whitby nodded. "I suppose I can do that," he said. "I suppose we can all do this."
"Aither," Lyndee said with a little smile. "That'll be good."
"Moving Ereshkigal," Jet mumbled, looking at the black behemoth again. "I do believe I have drawn the short straw."
Jet slipped into Ereshkigal's cockpit and attempted to link his datapad and gloves in. There were no traditional controls, not even foot pedals, and Jet swore as he tried to make the connections.
At once, everything connected and the cockpit lit up.
"I'm here," Varuna replied calmly. "I apologize for the delay - I do need to be fully connected to remotely move Ereshkigal, even with your assistance."
"I thought you were assisting me," Jet replied with a little laugh. "Ashtorethe is a damned genius, you know."
"She and I built this together," Varuna replied. "Ah... try your sections of the controls. You should be able to move without any trouble, and handle all of the basics. I'll just step in if you need me."
"Is this hard for you?" Jet asked.
"Not hard, just... it requires a unique level of concentration," Varuna admitted. Jet had to smile at the tone of Varuna's voice. Something about it was nearly playful, and it was something Jet hadn't heard from Varuna in some time. It almost kept him from being angry about the reason behind what they were doing.
"I suppose it would," Jet said. A bit of his hair fell into his face, loose from its tie, and he blew at it to knock it away. He didn't dare use a hand - with his gloves on, he'd be liable to wipe out half the hangar.
"I'm ready when you are," Varuna said. "Everything else seemed to go quite smoothly."
"Yes," Jet replied. "Those five... including Lyndee... They're going to be the next group like Aeon's team."
"Like Aeon or like his brother," Varuna replied. "I know. I've been watching them very closely."
"I'd prefer to not consider the latter," Jet said flatly, having Ereshkigal take its first few steps. "They're good kids."
"Even Lyndee," Varuna said. "I can't imagine you'd have let her stick around otherwise."
Jet laughed at that. "Don't say too much or I'll convince myself you nearly let her die just to get this sort of reaction."
Varuna didn't reply.
"You didn't, did you?" Jet questioned a moment later, as he followed his screens toward the airlock, past where Lyndee was amongst those waving him out.
"Do you think I'd have let you force me out of my own extended body just to do that?" Varuna questioned.
Jet took the chance to stay silent, though mostly he was concentrating. The sort of piloting that Ereshkigal required was infinitely different from even Klotho's simplified systems. He wouldn't have dreamed of sending one of the First Years to try this - not even Mick or Amde. Though if the First Years hadn't been around, Jet assumed that Varuna might have been willing to make the move on his own.
"You're planning on flying," Jet said. "There's no reason to move Ereshkigal to an active hangar otherwise."
"You may be a decent actor, but you're a terrible liar," Jet noted as he made his way carefully to the airlock, waiting as doors closed and sealed and opened again. Getting out of NIN-ANA's artificial gravity would be a blessing.
And unlike the first years, who he'd insisted wear suits even though they were going to be outside for mere seconds, Jet had forgone any safety equipment. For starters, it would make moving far too difficult and probably play havoc with his own connections.
"Not the worst thing I've been called," Varuna said a moment later. Ereshkigal stepped easily out of the colony and with just a little thrust, Jet pushed away and drifted for a moment. It was impossible to really get a feel for Ereshkigal. The machine was half Varuna, after all. It was the same as trying to get into the security systems and other things that Varuna personally administered. Perhaps even worse. Though he was the one in the cockpit, Varuna was the one in control.
"Mmm, how does it feel to be a mobile suit?" Jet asked as he turned again. He couldn't stay out for too long - Mick would worry. Well, Mick would be out in Akhlys dragging him back in. It wasn't as if he didn't leave the colony often - he tested mobile suits almost daily and could get his custom Rubis set and out in seconds.
Was Klotho really the best choice to take against that man? If it was even still him. Atropos would fetch an amazing price as a private sale, and that man would be fine with a Rubis or Deamonde or even some other custom machine.
Varuna had to know something.
"Are you angry with me?" Varuna asked. Jet paused Ereshkigal outside the open hangar doors.
"Yes. But I understand the order," Jet said with a sigh.
"An Iscariot Command is not something I give lightly," Varuna reminded him.
"I know," Jet replied. "But sending Mick and Amde. Especially Amde -- she's not a fighter any longer. And I damned well know that an Iscariot ends with either the death of the target -- or the team."
"An Iscariot Command is not something I give lightly," Varuna repeated. "I've spent years thinking about it, Jet. You and Amde are necessary. Mick will be assigned team leader and you're the team that he needs. And you're the only ones who can take on Solitaire, if it's him."
"I just wonder why he's turned up now..."
"That, Jet--" Varuna paused, and softly used Jet's real name, which made Jet shiver and lose his concentration. Luckily, Varuna took control of Ereshkigal and corrected, getting the huge black machine into the airlock safely.
"That, Jet, is beyond even what I can know."
While Jet trusted Varuna, he did not entirely believe him.
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