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Mobile Suit Gundam Iscariot

Title: Mobile Suit Gundam ISCARIOT
Part: 17
Fandom: Gundam (Meta)
Disclaimer: No profit is being made on this fanwork.
Rating: T Overall
Summary: With their first year at NIN-ANA more than half over, Aleksei, Whitby, and their friends have already had more adventures than they could have dreamed. However, past sins are finally coming to light and in one instant, things will change forever.
Notes: Suddenly, Psyche!


Aleksei reached and carefully had his Rubis grab one of the blinking red 'flags' he'd been hunting on the outside of the colony. It was his third, and he was proud as he attached it to the Rubis's skirting.

"Half-hour left, everyone." Moros's voice was calm. Apparently no one had done anything too horrible in their freshly-built borrowed Rubises.

"This is impossible!" Skerry complained over the communal channel.

"I have three," Aleksei shot back. He didn't know if it was a good number or not, but they'd been out there for a half-hour and his first flag had taken twenty minutes to find.

"I have two," Whitby answered. A few others chimed in, but Skerry didn't respond.

The Rubis was not unlike the Safphir that he and Whitby were still working on daily, and also not unlike Tisiphone, either. It was far newer than Tisiphone, and while Tisi had a newer OS than it had originally equipped, it was still a step back from the Rubis, which left the Rubis far easier to control.

As amazing as it had been to fly in Tisiphone, Aleksei had to admit that if he was thrown into a battle at that exact second, he'd go with the Rubis.

He still didn't know why they were using brand new machines, though. Aside from the initial start-up, these were maiden flights. But he wasn't going to complain - maybe this sort of testing was necessary. Instructor Moros certainly hadn't said this would be a safe class -- he'd even instructed them to steal each other's flags if it came down to it.

Not that Aleksei really thought any of them would.

He drifted up, moving to check by a wing of solar receptors. Knowing to be careful around the delicate equipment, he made sure each of his movements was precise. It was easy now -- easier in space than even in the simulator. Everything was just falling into place. It was good. And, he thought, if he was lucky, he'd be able to do post-flight maintenance on the Rubis.

It would be a shame to hand it back over.

He glanced out in the direction that cargo ships normally came from -- too bad it was so far to the next station even moving at high speed. Certainly, he couldn't just take off and keep the Rubis... Moros would shoot him down in a heartbeat. Moros and Mick.

Aleksei sighed and just as he was about to declare the section clear, he saw the tiny flag and caught the almost nonexistent radar ping it put off.

"Four!" He turned and sped over to it, grabbing triumphantly.

"Fifteen minutes."

That had been fifteen whole minutes? Four wasn't enough!

"Attention all non-combat mobile suits currently on the exterior of the station." Mitra's voice cut in as Aleksei's main screen turned red.

"Please immediately return to the nearest hangar. Abort any exercises or repairs you may be participating in and seek shelter. Coordinates of the nearest hangars will display on your screen shortly and doors will open automatically upon your approach," he continued. "Anyone unable to reach a hangar is asked to seek other shelter until an all-clear is issued."

Aleksei swore as his screen changed and directed him to a part of the colony he was wholly unfamiliar with. But if it was that urgent, well, he wasn't going to disobey. The Rubis was unarmed and he doubted he could do a thing without at least a saber.

Four would have to do - if it even meant anything now.

Like Mitra had said, as soon as he'd gotten close to a set of doors, they opened and he popped inside, relieved as they closed behind him. Lights came on with arrows, directing him through an airlock and into what looked like one of the Rubis production facilities.

"Rubis X986, please follow audio instructions," a calm, female voice told him when he got into the main part of the hangar.

"This is Aleksei Vivek, First Year," Aleksei replied. "Am I Rubis X986?"

The woman's soft chuckle echoed around him.

"You are, Aleksei. I wasn't expecting you, of all people. Well..."

There was a pause, and Aleksei could only wonder what was going on now.

"Forgive me. My name is Ashtorethe Cypris, a good friend of your friend Jet," she told him. "I'm just a little surprised that you're the one who happened into my part of NIN-ANA."

"I was looking for..." he gestured with one of the Rubis's hands down to the four magnetic beacon-flags on his skirting.

"Ah, that one," Ashtorethe said. "Yes, I remember days of setting up that course."

She gave a little sigh. "Anyway, I don't have a ground crew to assist you, but there's plenty of space to park. If you'd like to go ahead over to the empty berth to the left of the green supply tram, that would be perfect. Do a full shutdown and then follow the arrows on your datapad."

"Understood," Aleksei replied, glancing around once before heading over to disengage. He heard his datapad softly beep three times from where he'd plugged it into the Rubis's console. Something had downloaded.

It was easy enough to get the Rubis powered down and get himself to the hangar floor. From there, he pulled out his datapad and pushed at a flashing icon. It turned into an arrow. Aleksei shrugged and headed that way.

After a few twists and turns and up a flight of stairs, he found himself in a control room looking at a woman with long, grey hair and a uniform relatively unlike the normal NIN-ANA school uniforms. It was tighter, definitely, more obviously tailored to fit her. And it was also a deep red.

"Hello, Aleksei Vivek," she said. "I have to admit that I'm not as social as I used to be, along with being very busy here in the factory. But I know you've seen my work."

Aleksei nodded. "It's an honor to meet you, Ms. Cypris. But..."

He winced -- something was going on outside and he wanted to know what. And he definitely wanted to know if the rest of his class was okay.

"Here, dear..." She reached to turn on a bank of screens. "It looks like everyone is in the process of getting inside. Honestly, I have no idea why he called an alert so early - you're all a very competent bunch this time around. Probably one of the best classes in the last decade."

"Do you know why there's an alert?" Aleksei asked. The radar screen was different than the ones he was used to reading and he frowned.

"This," Ashtorethe said. The radar pulled out and a clump of red dots appeared. "Mitra is likely trying to see if they have business here. There's nothing scheduled and they apparently didn't answer the initial hail."

Aleksei blinked. He hadn't even seen her touch the screen, but... Glancing back, he stared -- how he hadn't noticed before, he had no idea. But Ashtorethe had metal instead of hands. Silver fingers glinted in the control room's oversaturated light.

"Mmm?" She gave him a curious look before realizing. "Oh... Yes, well, accidents happen," she said softly.

"Now..." She zoomed the screen in a bit until the dots listed tags, none of which had a proper IFF. "I wonder if I can open up a few channels and listen in."

Aleksei couldn't help a chuckle. Apparently nobody minded their own business in NIN-ANA.

"Where's Aleksei?" Whitby rushed through the hangar, looking around. Two other Rubises had made it in with him, along with Instructor Moros. And they'd come into the holding hangar for Tisiphone, Alecto and Klotho, of all the awkward places. Whitby winced.

"He's fine," Jet's voice called. "I just got a message. He's fine."

Whitby let out a breath that he didn't know he'd been holding. And he was with Jet. "What's going on?"

"I don't know," Jet admitted. "We're still trying to get IFFs and communication established. It's a tiny shuttle..."

He slipped a hand into his pocket and pulled out his motion gloves, turning the hangar into his own control room.

"I'm not sure this'll work..." He plugged a thin cord into the smallest of the datapads that Whitby had ever seen him with. "But let me see if I can find a channel..."

There was nothing at first, aside from a grainy visual of the shuttle, which looked much like every other little shuttle that Whitby had ever seen.

"All bands, broadcast." Instead of the shuttle, a grainy video feed appeared. The speaker was female, about Jet's age, and had bright red hair. "NIN-ANA, I'm here! Darius, Brother Dearest... Could you get out here and get these guys off my tail? And guys on my tail, I am not who you think I am!"

Jet blinked. Whitby blinked and swallowed hard. There was no denying that aside from the hair color, the family resemblance was there. Their eyes were the exact same shade.

"Psyche," Jet said calmly. "Mick's sister."

"How do you know..." Whitby started, before realizing that perhaps he'd said too much.

"He has her picture up on his fridge," Jet noted. "I really hope none of the Rubis ended up in our hangar -- Mick stayed there just in case and he'll plow right over them in Akhlys."

"Who's launching? Can they get to her in time?" Whitby questioned. Psyche. On her way. And she was beautiful. She'd said his name...

"Apparently she's a hacker," Ashtorethe said, changing the screen enough to see who was launching from within the colony. "Hmm. Akhlys and Sarasvati. Interesting. And a handful of Rubis from this side, but they seem to be more defensive."

"A hacker?" Aleksei questioned.

Ashtorethe nodded. "Now, I can't say I know all about them, but... I was always under the impression that Mick and Psyche never really approved of one another. Not growing up, at least. But the lure of family is always great."

"Did she go to school here?" Aleksei questioned.

Shaking her head, Ashtorethe adjusted the screen with one little hand wave.

"No, I don't think she's a pilot at all, though we could change that, if Varuna lets her stay. He's... very lenient with Mick, for reasons I'll never understand. Not that Mick isn't charming. He just... Well..."

She gave Aleksei a little smile that Aleksei didn't understand but also didn't want to ask about.

"He's Mick," she summarized. "Along with Lan and Amde, well, they should have been legends."

"Sis?" Mick's voice crackled over the comm channel. "Hang in there."

"Lan?" It was a name that Aleksei hadn't heard. Not from Jet or Mick, not from Valentine or Eris or Moros, who all talked about other pilots frequently.

"Solitaire," Ashtorethe rephrased. "Aeon's older brother, Amde -- Dr. Hisano's betrothed. Mick's best friend. Our very own traitor."

She shook her head.

"I suppose I understand why they didn't tell you, but really, you need to know."

Aleksei wasn't sure if he was supposed to say anything or not. He didn't really have words. Because he realized something right as Ashtorethe voiced it.

"Solitaire was Atropos's pilot."

He didn't have words for a long time after that.

Rookies. Mick had no idea why they were after his sister, but they were doing a horrible job at at actually catching her. Well, maybe he knew why they were after her. Maybe they thought that NIN-ANA would assist them. Psyche probably had a bounty or two on her...

He opened all of his channels. "This is Mick Hedone of NIN-ANA in Gundam Akhlys. What is your business with this shuttle? You are in NIN-ANA space without permission."

"We are merely attempting to apprehend this wanted criminal," came back the response.

"Are you law enforcement?" Mick questioned. He... really didn't want to kill the so-called "good guys" if he didn't have to. He scanned for their ship - it was just ouside of NIN-ANA's space, though he knew that Varuna and Mitra would be keeping a close eye on it.

"We're a private retrieval group..."

Mick aimed and fired, taking out the main camera of the nearest one, an Emeralde, following up with a shot to one of its legs.

"Go now or I'll kill you all," he said. He would. If they so much as raised a weapon against him or his sister, they'd all be dead before they could finish aiming.

"I'm sure sharing the bounty with NIN-ANA..."

"That's my sister," Mick growled, not even waiting for them to raise their weapons. He'd take the lecture from Varuna.

Putting himself between the shuttle and the damned rookie 'private retrieval group', he opened fire. Not a single one of them managed to get a shot off.

Perhaps that was why he'd been assigned something other than Akhlys. Akhlys made it far too easy to simply destroy.

"Mick?" Jet's voice broke through the silence.

"Read you," he replied, exhaling. Yet again, he hadn't bothered with a pilot suit. When he turned to check the shuttle, Cardinell and Sarasvati were beside it. She'd taken a defensive position, weapon ready, but apparently hadn't fired.

"I will never make you mad," she commented as he gestured that she should guide the shuttle in. He had Akhlys. He could do whatever he needed to. Akhlys could do it...

"You couldn't even measure the amount of power Akhlys is using. A fraction of a fraction of a percent," Ashtorethe commented as they watched Mick decimate the pursuing mobile suits. "Probably less. He's very good with that machine. Though Lan was good with Anaplekte. And before you say it, it was only pure coincidence that Aeon has Anaplekte now. But Anaplekte has a completely different power-plant. Akhlys is unique in how it functions."

Ashtorethe sighed. "It's a mistake that I made, and yet... I can't bring myself to dismantle it. Akhlys is like a child to me, I suppose. I put my heart and soul into it, making the strongest and best mobile suit that I could. I just got ahead of myself. I didn't think about what it would really be able to do. I didn't think about what could go wrong."

"Ms. Cypris..."

"At least Solitaire has Atropos, and not Akhlys. If he had Akhlys... Well, I've heard rumors of what he's doing these days."

Whitby watched the siblings cling to each other from afar, and watched as Mick playfully tugged on Psyche's hair. And as she kissed Mick. And again. Whitby tried to watch her mouth, but he couldn't make anything out.

Mitra strode up to them, gesturing and looking upset but not yelling. Whitby could see the light reflecting off his cuff bracelet, making it sparkle with each little flail of his hands.

And then Psyche kissed him, too, and Mitra froze completely, not doing anything for a good long moment.

"I wonder if she'll kiss Varuna as well," Jet commented, chuckling. "She's cute, but I want to let all of this settle down just a bit more before I go over there and start another round."

Whitby nodded. Jet had shut down the audio and then video once Sarasvati had gotten to the shuttle. All was well... Whitby could only assume what had happened out there, and he could understand why Jet hadn't wanted to make a big display of it. He'd caught a few of Cardinell's more colorful curse words.

He didn't know what he'd say to Psyche. He'd failed, after all.

Out of the corner of his eye, he caught Mick gesturing over to the general area where he was standing with Jet.

Psyche was fast.

"Darius!" she cried, before pulling Whitby into her arms. "You're taller than I was expecting!"

"How do you...?" He froze, realizing he was supposed to be denying. No. Yes. But not so obvious...

She ruffled his hair and kissed his cheek. "Silly. I knew you'd find my brother and keep a close eye on him. So of course you'd be you."

"I..." She was rather shapely, now that she had her spacesuit peeled down to her waist and tied. And she hadn't eased off on the embrace.

"I can't believe he's teaching here! How fun... And sending me your schedule - that was sneaky. But so was he... 'Hedone'. I caught that right away," she continued, still hugging. "I'm so happy to meet you! We're going to have so much fun!"

This was Psyche? Extremely smart, quick, uncatchable hacker...

"Ah... you must be my brother's partner!"

Instantly, Psyche transferred herself over to Jet, who let out the tiniest of squeaks before carefully hugging Psyche back.

"Well, I suppose that's an accurate description," Jet managed, chuckling. "It's nice to finally meet you."

"I can't believe I'm finally here," Psyche replied. She gave Jet a quick kiss that wasn't entirely on the cheek and let go. "Well..."

"I'm sure Amde would like to give you a quick once-over," Mick said as he stepped up behind her and looped his arm through hers. "You've had a long trip and..."

"I'm fine," Psyche replied. "But... Maybe it wouldn't be bad, huh? Do I get to call you 'Mick' now? You should call me 'Psyche'... I guess you already did, didn't you? Why did you pick 'Mick', anyway? I get the 'Hedone', but..."

Psyche was still chattering away as Mick led her off, and Jet stood there laughing.

"Now I almost want to meet their parents," he said to Whitby. "Can you even imagine? I always thought Mick carried on, but wow..."

"Mick isn't his real name?" Whitby questioned, frowning. He knew the 'Hedone' wasn't a real last name, but...

Jet shook his head. "We each adopted a new name when we decided to stay and work for Commander Varuna. And then anyone on a mission has a code name as well."

"What's yours?" Whitby asked.

Jet shook his head. "Can't tell," he replied, which made Whitby frown.

"Do you know Mick's?" he asked.

"All three," Jet replied. "I suppose I can tell you his code name -- it was what he was using when I met him - 'Dire'."

"Dire." Whitby paused, unable to hold in a little shiver. What a fitting name for a man who had apparently just killed a half-dozen men and wasn't even dwelling on it.


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