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: Jet appears in the middle of the night with something for Aleksei. Solitaire plays a dangerous game.
The buzzer was annoyingly insistent and Aleksei had previously been very asleep. But the more he tried to be asleep, the more insistent the buzzer was and finally, he dragged himself out of bed and to the suite's main door. Eoin stumbled up right as Aleksei opened it. There, almost silhouetted by the dim hall lights, was Jet, looking wild and frantic.
"Come on!" he said, grabbing for Aleksei's hand.
"Important," Jet insisted, grabbing and pulling before he saw Eoin standing there, equally unawake. "Just Aleksei. I'll bring him back, maybe."
"But..." Aleksei tried, with no luck. He wasn't sure what he was protesting. Jet likely also knew it was late, and Jet had authority, so... "Okay..."
"Good, let's go," Jet said with a nod, ignoring Aleksei's pajamas and ushering him along.
Aleksei shrugged at Eoin, and Eoin just shook his head and turned back towards his room.
"Do I need anything?" Aleksei questioned. He felt a little under-dressed and hadn't grabbed his datapad.
"No," Jet replied. "Just you. And shoes."
"Shoes are something," Aleksei noted, before freeing himself from Jet and darting back into the room to grab his boots, which he tugged on without lacing. He'd take care of them when he could.
"Good," Jet said when Aleksei reappeared. He clamped his hand on Aleksei's arm and started marching him along the dim hallways.
There was silence for a moment. "It's late?" Jet asked finally.
"Yes," Aleksei replied. "Or possibly it's early. I'm not sure."
"Oh," Jet said. "I wonder why Mick didn't get me and take me to bed...."
"He was with Valentine when we left," Aleksei said. After the words were out of his mouth, he suddenly wondered if he should have said anything. Maybe Mick had been with Valentine in a more than a friendly way. They certainly seemed well-acquainted.
"Ah, okay," Jet said with a little smile. "That's good. I was hoping Valentine would come around for a bit. I had some things to show him on my datapad... Maybe Mick showed him?"
Aleksei was surprised - Jet was either running on fumes, or this was how he really was and his more coherent moments were the carefully rehearsed act. Honestly, Aleksei couldn't tell. Jet didn't seem terribly tired - just excited and enthused.
"Where are we going?" Aleksei asked. "I might not be allowed..."
"It's fine," Jet said. "I think we're fine. You weren't doing anything else."
"Sleeping..." Aleksei reminded him.
"Well, yes," Jet replied as he gestured to the tram station. Either Jet had changed his control bracelet or Aleksei had never noticed how intricate it was before. Jet's hand glittered as he waved it within the tram station, triggering all the lights to full brightness and popping up an array of transparent screens around them. Aleksei's eyes went wide, but then again, he'd never seen someone like Jet access the trams. He'd only seen Cardinell and other students.
"Wow..." Aleksei stepped back. Jet waved both hands and gathered the screens up, before selecting one and then grabbing a tram from the queue.
"I'd almost prefer not to go straight into their central programming," Jet said with a little headshake. "But it's harder to lock myself properly out than to just deal with it. I suppose I could somehow make myself a separate profile if I really needed to..."
"Central programming?" Aleksei asked. "You're..."
"A system administrator, yes," Jet said. "I didn't make the trams, but their current programming is mostly mine. And I made these, too." He held out his hands to let Aleksei inspect the jewelry he had on. While his normal NIN-ANA bracelet was there, another had been added above it, one of a matched pair that Jet had on. Each one had tiny fiber-optic wires that went up to a panel on the back of each hand, before spinning off into multiple rings on each finger.
"Like this," Jet said, but before he could motion, the tram arrived.
Aleksei stumbled on. He wasn't quite awake, but whatever journey Jet was taking him on would be fascinating and worthwhile, he was sure.
"Mmm..." Jet sat on the tram and then swished his hands up. A screen appeared from thin air, and then Jet started typing. "They're still prototypes - second shot at them - to be honest. I made them myself. They link right into my datapad and all of my other terminals so I can access anything I need on the go."
Aleksei was not surprised when they stopped a little ways past the normal stop for Mick's hangar.
"Ah... already?" Jet made a grabbing motion, and tucked away all of the screens. "Well, I suppose it's okay. Have you heard anything about helping unload cargo from Edison's shuttle?"
"I'm helping tomorrow-- today?" Aleksei replied. "We all volunteered -- er, Nari, Eoin, Whitby and myself."
"Oh!" Jet grinned. "Good. I suppose I could have waited, then, but I didn't realize it was so late. Or early. I really haven't slept in... Well, when was Mick fighting with Mitra?"
"That's... been about thirty hours," Aleksei said with a frown. There really wasn't any way Jet had been awake all this time, was there?
"Mmm, Mick must really be distracted," Jet said with a sigh. "And Amde, too. Usually one of them will chase me down."
Jet practically bounced off the tram and Aleksei followed a bit behind. He'd been too busy watching Jet to have remembered to tie his boots. Clunking along, Aleksei glanced around. But the stop didn't look terribly different from most of the others in the area - dark metal plate walls, and a number instead of a named location.
"The contents of the shuttle were sent by the Helvetios Army," Jet noted as he waved a hand at the nearest door. The little light beside it turned from red to green and opened with a tiny grinding noise. Beyond was a dim hallway and Aleksei didn't look back as he followed Jet down it.
"Are you familiar with Helvetios?" Jet questioned, glancing back at Aleksei. "You're from Atlova, aren't you? Same point--"
"Helvetios is a far wealthier colony," Aleksei replied. "And besides, my family stopped traveling after Dea Matrona -- especially after my sister was born." He couldn't help a little sigh. He'd asked so many times to go somewhere -- anywhere, but he'd always been denied.
"Not a surprise, really," Jet said. "That area was volatile for years after the war. It still is, actually, according to the Helvetios Army. They have a lot of pirate activity, along with at least one radical group."
"So they sent a bunch of mobile suits to be repaired?" Aleksei questioned. Surely Helvetios had their own facilities that would be far less expensive.
"Amongst other things," Jet replied. He smiled at Aleksei and for a moment, Aleksei was truly unnerved. "They sent data as well, and have asked us to fix these machines, sell them as many new ones as we can..."
At the end of the hallway was another door, which Jet waved his hand at and then opened manually when a heavy lock clicked deep within.
"To analyze exactly what sorts of battles they've been fighting," Jet explained. "From that, we can offer tactics and instruct them in strategies that will make their forces more efficient. I believe one of our mission teams will be heading out to help when the time comes."
"Aeon?" Aleksei wondered aloud.
Jet shook his head as he ushered Aleksei onto the observation loft of a large hangar where close to two dozen badly damaged mobile suits were laid out in rows. Aleksei swallowed hard and picked out what he could - seven Safphirs, three Rubises, nine Emeraldes, and two Deamondes. And two he couldn't tell... too much was blackened and missing.
"Those can be fixed?" Aleksei questioned, leaning over the railing.
"Most of them," Jet replied. "The ones that aren't will still be useful, though. Come along."
Jet walked quickly over to a metal lift and Aleksei followed. He was grateful for the lack of stairs, and while they descended to the hangar floor, he finally knelt and tied his boots.
"Arcane and her team will probably be sent," Jet muttered. "I really don't know. I haven't had much of a chance to talk to Varuna -- it's taken me a little while just to see what's here."
The lift bumped to a halt at the bottom and Aleksei again trailed behind Jet past the first row of machines, and along the second almost to the end. The hangar was silent aside from the sound of their footsteps and the faint hum of the ventilation system. Like a tomb, Aleksei thought.
"This one," Jet said, stopping so abruptly that Aleksei nearly crashed into him. Jet was pointing at a Deamonde that was missing an entire arm, part of a leg, most of its head and a good chunk of one side.
Moving with years of practice, Jet scrambled right up the good side of the machine and into the cockpit, pausing before turning back and then offering Aleksei a hand. There was still a good gap between them, but Aleksei thought he could do it.
The climb was surprisingly easy and his hand was in Jet's after only a couple of seconds.
"A little less gravity," Jet noted as he tugged Aleksei up to sit above the cockpit, dangling his feet down in. He held a finger up to his lips, as if somehow it was supposed to be their secret.
"Anyway," Jet continued, turning. "I wanted to show you this. From what I can tell, the picture is about two years old, but..."
He trailed off as he pulled a thin cable from his pocket and plugged it between the machine's console and the bracelet on his right wrist. There was a soft beep from somewhere inside the Deamonde and a tiny flicker of lights in the cockpit.
A screen appeared at Jet's fingertips, and he played through commands on his left hand.
"Is that the mobile suit's operating system?" Aleksei questioned. There was far too much damage for the Deamonde to display anything on its own. But with Jet's interface...
"Exactly," Jet replied, smiling as he looked up at Aleksei. "But wait, it gets better."
A few more taps and Jet pulled up a folder of camera grabs.
"This is what I wanted you to see." He tapped twice, scrolled faster than Aleksei could follow and then from a tiny thumbnail, a giant image appeared where the screen had been.
Aleksei sucked in his breath.
The shot was a bit blurry, but there was no denying exactly what they were looking at. Silver and red were in all the right places, and the gleam of aqua eyes was impossible to mistake.
"Still in service as of two years ago," Jet added. He gave Aleksei a lopsided little smile. "I'll keep looking?"
"You don't have to," Aleksei replied quickly. He wondered if he'd be able to sleep again, ever, or if he'd just keep smiling. "Just knowing it's out there..."
He reached and accidentally put his fingers through the image.
"I'll send you a copy, don't worry."
Aleksei nodded, pulling his hand back and resting it on the cool metal of the Deamonde's midsection.
"Mmm?" Jet tucked the image back away and closed the screen.
"Did Atropos do..." Aleksei gestured down at the damage beneath him.
Jet shook his head. "From what I've been able to find in the logs, along with data sent by Helvetios, their military has employed mercenaries from time to time. More expendable, apparently. I've found shots of non-Helvestian Emeraldes and Rubises, mostly. And then... Atropos."
Aleksei nodded. He felt a little better, really.
"There's just one line about it - 'Unknown mobile suit assisted fighting off pirates attempting to ambush freighter. Escort team paid in advance and did not stick around.' No names or anything," Jet said, his voice wavering just a bit.
"So it's a hero," Aleksei declared.
Jet nodded and turned to unplug the cable from the Deamonde. His next words were so soft that Aleksei didn't think he was supposed to hear them.
"That means he might still have it..."
One job. Definitely wasn't the most above the board mission that they'd ever done, but the payout would be worth it.
And Solitaire had a damned good idea on how to turn it all around, anyway. He had contacts, after all. Staying out of trouble and out of sight didn't happen by magic - he just had the connections he needed to have, when he needed to have them.
"Our liaison is docking," Sincere said softly in his ear. Solitaire reached up to carefully click on his earpiece's microphone.
"Is that what we're calling him?" Solitaire questioned. He'd meant to be there in the hangar already, but he'd had his own arrangements to make.
"Seems as good as anything," Sincere noted. "His name is Jackal; he's been with the Fireshade Group for two years and... oh! He's a Delfend survivor."
Solitaire shivered under his jacket.
"Who puts that on their profile?" he questioned before perhaps wondering if he didn't want an answer. "Never mind. Did you get the data I sent?"
"I'll alert you if we get any replies," Sincere replied. "Interesting risk you're taking."
"I know. But you're letting me. I didn't tell the others..." Solitaire sighed and turned, heading into the hallway that would take him to the main hangar. "I just..."
"I understand completely. This isn't the last questionable job we're ever going to take... You're doing the right thing."
"Thank you, Sincere," Solitaire said. "I'll come see you in a bit."
"You can turn off your mic when you enter the hangar - I have audio there on my own," Sincere reminded him.
Solitaire chuckled and reached to tap the earpiece before making his way into the main hangar.
Already Jackal's Deamonde was secured in a berth, which didn't surprise Solitaire in the least when he saw Gate and Tiercel as acting crew. He knew that Gate had to be itching to poke around in it.
The customizations were plentiful and interesting to pick out. Weapons, reinforcements, changes to the head shape - Solitaire saw them all. The machine itself was painted a mesh of silvers and blues so specifically faded and blended that Solitaire almost winced at the thought of having to repaint it after any decent damage.
Either Jackal was a damned good pilot or had mostly rode on the accomplishments of his peers.
Solitaire doubted it'd be long before he found out.
Lore and Eternity were both talking with Jackal, who was still suited up but had his helmet off. As Solitaire approached, both women turned to glance in his direction and it wasn't long before Jackal's gaze wandered as well.
Solitaire didn't think Jackal looked only two years his senior. Not with the grey streaking his otherwise short sandy-brown hair and lines on his weathered face.
"Welcome to the Pandemonium," Solitaire said, holding out a hand. A moment later, Jackal accepted and gave it a firm shake. Neither Lore nor Eternity looked entirely pleased, but Solitaire figured he could question them later.
Jackal needed to get settled in. There were plans to be made.
"A pleasure to be here," Jackal replied, giving a toothy grin. "You must be Solitaire."
"You have mail," Sincere whispered.
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