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: Having left NIN-ANA to join the mercenary Solitaire, Mick's team continue settling in to their new lives. Meanwhile, back at NIN-ANA, Commander Varuna is possibly making the same mistake for a second time.
Notes: The First Years make a surprising discovery.
"This takes me back," Solitaire said as he gave Mick a little slug on the shoulder. He could forgive the NIN-ANA pilot suits that Mick, Amde, and Jet were wearing since there certainly hadn't been time to get them anything else. Eternity had checked them over, and Amalgam and Tiercel had gone over their machines -- there were no trackers, nothing still connected to NIN-ANA. Lore had reprogrammed their IFFs and aside from a comment about how weird Jet's OS was, she hadn't said anything else - certainly not about anything suspicious.
"Good times," Mick replied, slugging Solitaire back. Solitaire grinned. Even if Mick didn't have Akhlys to command, Tisiphone was a fine machine. It was nearly a twin of Atropos and Solitaire knew that it and Atropos would be a truly intimidating sight. There was no point in keeping it hidden now, after all. He felt a little bad for Eternity, having only her Rubis, not that it was an inferior machine.
"I'm counting on you," Solitaire said. He was - in more than one way. Yes, Mick was to be the triggerman and do all the heavy hitting. But this was also the test. As much as he hated to do it, he did have a plan in case this was all a double-cross. Eternity had insisted and if it put the crew at ease, well, it was for the better. Mick would understand.
"You'd better have my back." Mick didn't look back on his way to Tisiphone. Solitaire could have shot him a dozen times. He hated the feeling in his gut. But it would be over soon. He'd get into the job and get things done. It was what he did. Thinking too much was what had gotten him in trouble in the first place.
Though... as much as he had once wanted to go back to NIN-ANA, did he still want to? He'd convinced himself that he hated NIN-ANA and Varuna when really, he just hated himself. He'd hid. Too much had happened and he'd had to keep hiding...
And once he had finished hiding, he'd always done the best he could - even if it wasn't true redemption, he was trying. Except now he'd dragged Mick and Amde down to his level. And Jet, who was a true innocent.
Solitaire knew, as well, that it had been an Iscariot Command. Amde had told him, though he'd assumed. Iscariot. The worst of traitors. Death. Varuna had not and would not forgive him.
He climbed into Atropos and closed the cockpit, quickly starting everything up.
"This is Solitaire. Phase one begin."
"Dire here, all systems green."
"Deadline, good to go."
There was a pause, and Solitaire realized there was one thing Mick hadn't told him.
"Jet? You do have your final name now, don't you?" he asked, curious.
"Of course he does," Mick replied. "'S'a good one, too."
Jet froze with his fingers above Klotho's controls as the radio checks began. While he did have a Gundam, he was not a combat pilot and had never been assigned a third name. Of course, nothing was coming to him. He wanted something to go with Mick's 'Dire', but his mind was just blank.
"Deadline, good to go."
He hit the comm button, hoping something would come to him quickly but nothing did. He released, hoping to chalk it up to a misfire with Klotho's radio -- wrong channel, something.
"Jet? You do have your final name now, don't you?" Solitaire's voice was just a little suspicious, Jet thought, but also amused.
"Of course he does," Mick interjected quickly. Jet exhaled. Mick would save him, as always. "It's a good one, too."
"Says someone who thinks 'Dire' is a compliment," Amde said.
"Nyx," Mick said firmly. "Like black space, like the hell we're going to send these bastards to."
"Nyx," Jet replied. "Comm set."
He hoped he sounded convincing. Not so much at repeating his sudden new name, but at what he thought Mick was trying to tell him.
There was only one all-black mobile suit in NIN-ANA, aside from the color-coded Safphirs. And that was Ereshkigal, the machine he could almost control with the gloves Mick had given him. Ereshkigal, the Queen of Hell.
He just had to keep believing.
The kidnappers never knew what hit them.
Two months passed.
After a month of varying routines and generally laying low, the First Years all noted that they'd never had their hangar access restricted. And therefore, they quickly reclaimed their study space.
Mick had made good plans and had enough lessons uploaded into an application to keep them going for quite awhile. Both Mitra and Cardinell awkwardly stepped in for discussions and journals, and Psyche had an amusingly deft grasp of the language and took care of most of the grading.
"Do you think it needs anything?" Whitby asked aloud, looking up at Ereshkigal. "We should ask Mitra. He'd know, wouldn't he? It's too bad Varuna never comes down to practice or anything."
"I bet Varuna is an amazing pilot," Lyndee said, gazing up. "To have a mobile suit like that... I bet it could go head to head with Akhlys."
"Akhlys would have to have a pilot," Aleksei said flatly. "And no one can fly it but Mick or maybe Aeon or Ashtorethe."
"I want them to come back," Nari complained from over on one of the sofas. "This place is boring without them."
There was a soft beep and Nari frowned, holding up her datapad.
"Hey, guys... Um..."
"What?" Aleksei questioned.
On her datapad was a lone message-
NIN-ANA: [I agree.]
Whitby swallowed hard.
"It's... never done that before?" he asked cautiously. It had been awhile since the station had said anything to him and he'd never mentioned it to anyone.
"Of course not!" Nari exclaimed. "There's no sender -- it just says NIN-ANA."
"Maybe it was just a glitch?" Lyndee said, heading over to peer over Nari's shoulder. "Send a message back."
Whitby watched as Nari tapped something out and sent it. Of course, it failed and Nari moaned about it.
"I can't send anything back... But someone sent me a message like they're here..."
"It wasn't me." Psyche's voice was clear as she walked around Sarasvati's feet, waving. "Sorry, I caught some of that as I was coming in. You got one of those fun messages too?"
"You've gotten them?" Nari asked, twisting to look back at Psyche.
Psyche nodded before catching sight of Whitby and attaching herself to him. Not once had she walked by him without hugging him, which was almost a little disturbing.
This time, he hugged her back.
"How are you?" he asked. She was beautiful, of course - her hair was slowly losing its color and she was turning into a female version of her older brother. Which wasn't as strange as Whitby had hoped.
"Good," she replied. "Didn't know you'd be down here, though. I'm supposed to be down here to talk about..."
She gestured at Ereshkigal.
"Ereshkigal?" Whitby questioned, frowning. "Varuna's machine?"
"Well, Ms. Cypris wanted me to take a look at the systems and see if I understand how it operates. I'm good with computers, but... I don't know about mobile suits. But I guess there's a question about something Jet did..." She frowned. "Nothing bad, that I know of. He was just... he's a genius, Darius. Jet's a complete genius. We may be really good at what we do, but he's... he found his thing so hard and I just don't know."
Whitby nodded. He did know.
"Maybe we can help?" he said, gesturing to the other First Years. "If nothing else, we're familiar with the hangar."
Psyche laughed. "Thank you. You might even be more help than I am, to be honest."
Whitby watched Aleksei tune in immediately to Ashtorethe. Without Jet, Ashtorethe was teaching again, though she apparently had been emphasizing his designs over her own.
Beside Ashtorethe, surprisingly, was Mitra. Or perhaps not surprisingly, since Psyche didn't exactly have the run of the place. Whitby was still fairly sure she had more restrictions on her than a regular student, though she did have access to Mick's room. Her room.
"Evening," Mitra said, his tone even. "I seem to remember Aeon telling you that it might be a good idea to find a new hangout."
"It's not like we know anything. Everyone always went out of their way not to talk about the past," Lyndee said firmly, hands on her hips.
"I believe them," Ashtorethe said firmly, putting a silver hand on Mitra's shoulder, a sharp contrast to the pale of his hair and the black of the uniform he was wearing. "Though..."
"Though?" Whitby echoed.
"I don't believe in coincidences," Mitra said. There was a hint of amusement in his tone, which surprised Whitby. But something else seemed off about Mitra -- maybe it was because it was after hours and he wasn't as frazzled. There had been other times, after all, that Mitra had shown up in the hangar and seemed docile and quite personable.
"So you're going to tell them, finally," Ashtorethe said. "Good."
"Tell us what?" Nari asked.
"Instructors Hedone and Zero, and Doctor Hisano..." Mitra began. "Well, Lyndee, three months ago, your sister Naimee was kidnapped by a rather nasty group that had plagued space for quite awhile."
"What?" Lyndee went pale and looked like she was going to lose her footing. Luckily Aleksei was there before Whitby could get there. They both held her.
"And then safely rescued by a very powerful, skilled mercenary squad," Mitra continued. "There is no doubt that amongst the machines spotted were Atropos, Tisiphone, Alecto and Klotho."
"Mick... saved my sister?" Lyndee managed. "Naimee?"
Mitra nodded and looked to Ashtorethe, who had hauled out her datapad and quickly sent an article with grainy photos over to Nari's datapad.
"That's definitely them," Nari said.
Whitby nodded. Aleksei was apparently dumbstruck. But Whitby could understand why -- there was Atropos and Tisiphone together.
Lyndee swore and snatched the datapad away.
Whitby glanced back to Mitra. There was something else... Well, this was something else, too. Outside information was rare and filtered. Outside correspondence was nearly non-existent. But this...
"Now then... We do have a task at hand." Ashtorethe looked to Psyche. "You'll need these."
Whitby watched as Ashtorethe handed Psyche a pair of Jet's tracer gloves. Psyche blinked, looking at them for a long moment before pulling them on.
"How do these work?" she questioned.
"Like this," Ashtorethe replied, holding up her own hands. Carefully, she plugged a long thin cable between her wrists, and then to her datapad. "Though mine are a little different."
Psyche quickly plugged in to a pad tucked at the small of her back, which surprised Whitby. He didn't know that Psyche had been given her datapad back. Though maybe she had one of Mick's or Jet's -- they seemed to always have an endless supply.
"Now..." Ashtorethe pulled her hands across the empty space of the hangar, and a half-dozen screens popped up.
Psyche blinked once, and then mimed the motion. The same screens appeared. "There are..." Her eyes went wide. "Oh... Wait..."
"What is it?" Mitra asked.
"Well, a little personal," she said with a soft laugh. "Hold on."
For the next couple of seconds, she tapped at the air, scrolling and pulling through a dozen screens each time, changing, making colors flash. Whitby couldn't even figure out what they all were, though he had the bad luck of being on the wrong side of them, with Lyndee tugging at his sleeve to look at the article about Mick.
"Okay, I've found Ereshkigal," Psyche said a minute later. "I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this, but I think I understand what Jet did."
"Please tell me I'm not looking at what I think I'm looking at," Ashtorethe murmured. Whitby almost didn't hear her, and he didn't hear what Mitra added, only that it made both women look down at him with strange winces.
"Well," Mitra added a moment after, louder. "Psyche, would you mind heading up to see if that really will work?"
"I really don't think you should," Ashtorethe said, reaching for Mitra's shoulder. "If it was finished and ready to test, Jet would have said something."
"I'll have Psyche with me," Mitra said. "I know my limits."
"Like hell," Ashtorethe noted, shaking her head. "But I don't think you've ever listened to me."
Mitra chuckled. Whitby wondered if he was the only one finding Mitra's behavior to be completely odd.
Unfortunately, nothing really came of the next part. Mitra and Psyche vanished into Ereshkigal, and then returned after only slightly moving Ereshkigal's head and arm after a partial startup.
Ashtorethe was letting Nari touch her fingers...
"That was amazing," Psyche managed when she set foot on the hangar floor. She'd detached the gloves from her datapad, but still had them dangling from her hands. She giggled.
Beside her, Mitra looked tired and a little strange, but he was smiling too.
"Apologies for the secrecy, you five, but this is definitely classified," Mitra told them when Whitby was caught staring.
"Someday?" Lyndee questioned. "Please?"
"Someday," Mitra promised with a swift nod. "But for now, I think we'd best bid you a good evening."
"I'll stay a bit longer, if you don't mind?" Psyche said. "I'll behave. I just want to bother Darius for a bit."
"That's fine," Mitra said. "I can brief Ashtorethe. Have a good evening, Psyche."
"You too." She waved.
As they left, Whitby couldn't help watching Mitra. Something. Something... Mitra just hadn't seemed as...
"Mmm?" She'd bent over the sofa, looking at something Nari had up on her datapad -- that message, perhaps?
It was a long-shot, but enough evidence was clicking into place. The docile Mitra nearly asleep against Amde, a doctor. Friendly Mitra, fixing a cuff on an arm that hadn't had a NIN-ANA bracelet on it. Amused Mitra, wearing all black instead of all white, poking around in a machine other than Aditi.
"That wasn't Mitra, was it?"
Psyche straightened and stared at him.
"What do you mean 'that wasn't Mitra?' Eoin questioned. "Who else would it be?"
Trying not to giggle, Psyche shook her head. "I didn't realize you didn't know."
"Didn't know what?" Aleksei asked. "I'm confused."
"I'm not," Whitby said. It wasn't the truth, but he did know one thing. "That was Varuna."
A split-second later, his datapad beeped.
NIN-ANA: [Hello, Whitby. Very good.]
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