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Mobile Suit Gundam Iscariot

Title: Mobile Suit Gundam ISCARIOT
Part: 8
Fandom: Gundam (Meta)
Disclaimer: No profit is being made on this fanwork.
Rating: T Overall
Summary: Whitby Timin is a crafty young man spurred toward NIN-ANA by a good friend. He has goals, he has a purpose, he has... ...a lot of things not go as expected.
Notes: Whitby has a lot of secrets.

D: [This is goodbye, for now.]

P: [It's only goodbye if it's forever, and this is definitely not forever.]

D: [Well, it might take me awhile to get into NIN-ANA's systems. Even longer to be able to message you without being noticed.]

P: [Do you really think you can do it?]

D: [Of course. I'm going to surpass you someday, and hacking NIN-ANA will be that day.]

P: [You think I won't be busy in the meantime, Darius?]

D: [While I'm busy doing real homework, you mean?]

P: [Exactly. And you say that like it's a bad thing.]

D: [I'm not looking forward to it.]

P: [Enjoy being young! Maybe meet someone special, at least for a bit. And if you have time, two things--]

D: [Two things, now?]

P: [Two things. Hack NIN-ANA. And find a man for me.]

D: [Eh? Psyche...]

P: [That sounds weird, huh? The worst part is that I can't even give you his name, because he'll be using an alias. But you'll know. He'll make it obvious.]

D: [I... I'm not sure how I feel about this.]

P: [Darius, it's not what you're thinking.]

D: [Time's up, P. Goodbye.]

Whitby winced as he closed the connection. Psyche. She'd once been the dream he'd chased, he supposed. And then a phantom, and then a friend. He never did anything that he considered 'bad' with his hacking and she was the same. They'd spent a thousand hours talking over the last year. Entire days and nights. He knew nothing about her, aside from her handle. But she knew the world about him.

She'd encouraged him to go after the unachievable - NIN-ANA. Mobile suits and cutting edge technology. She'd reasoned that with an education from NIN-ANA - and his own skills - he'd be an unstoppable force.

She'd had a hidden motive.

Shuffling along with a crowd to board the next shuttle, he slowly began transferring all of his homebrewed applications to a tiny flash drive. He knew his device would be inspected at NIN-ANA. It just had to be clean for awhile - then he could get back to business. This time, from the inside out. NIN-ANA fascinated him. The more he read about it - a daunting task; for a school with an outstanding reputation, there was little concrete, confirmed information on it - the more he wanted to go.

Though... part of him couldn't help but want to help Psyche. She'd never asked for anything from him before. And she'd given him so much - code, ideas, shortcuts, inspiration, and conversation.

Whitby wondered if he loved her. Possibly. If it was possible to love someone who was nothing more than letters on his screen. He didn't know her real name or age; only that she had to be at least ten years older than he was, if not fifteen. Unless there was more than one Psyche, her handle had started appearing twelve years previous. She was a legend, but no one had as much as seen her.

Aleksei seemed like a nice enough guy - the sort that Whitby sort of expected to find at NIN-ANA, he supposed. At least the sort he hoped to find. Since they'd all had to go through a short psychological evaluation, which had been camouflaged as a normal interview, Whitby assumed that all of the unstable candidates had been weeded out.


Aleksei did seem to be pretty high strung. He fussed through sections of their retesting, while Whitby took his time.

Whitby watched Instructor Moros carefully as Aleksei submitted his last section of testing and headed out of the room. While Whitby had read every faculty profile he could find, some of them seemed deliberately vague. Instructor Moros had perhaps the vaguest, alluding only to decades of practical experience.

He thought perhaps he could get a little bit more of a grasp on the man based on his interaction with students. But they were all brief and Instructor Moros kept his gaze hidden behind sunglasses even within the depths of NIN-ANA.

Finishing up his own work a few minutes later, he slid from his seat and took his datapad up to the front of the classroom.

But before he could transmit his own data, Instructor Moros's datapad beeped.

"Excuse me," Instructor Moros said, frowning ever so slightly as he pulled up a message and read it.

"According to Mitra," he said to the remaining students, "your scores will be up after dinner. Everything aside from this section has already been processed."

"Wonderful," Whitby said with a little smile. He still couldn't meet that gaze unobstructed, but he quickly transmitted his data and headed for the door. If nothing else, Aleksei would be interested in hearing that.

Once in the hallway, Whitby saw Aleksei leaning on the wall beside a student that Whitby believed to be Eoin, Aleksei's roommate.

He gave Aleksei a little wave before heading over.

"Scores are going to be up after dinner," he said. Eoin had an interesting air about him. He was handsome, but aloof in a different way from Aleksei. He also had beautiful hair, but Whitby wasn't quite comfortable in saying that. Whitby took a decent amount of pride in his hair - long, dark indigo, simple - but Eoin's was in a class of its own. "Mitra just messaged Instructor Moros and said that everything other than the last bit has already been processed."

"They expect us to eat?" Eoin questioned.

"I'm hungry," Aleksei replied. Whitby smiled - of course Aleksei would be hungry. He had nothing to be nervous about now. "Besides -- nothing is going to change. We're already here."

Whitby didn't think that was true at all. Everything could change. That was just how NIN-ANA seemed to be. Already he'd noticed little edits and changes in the Student Handbook application. Cardinell, who was the strangest dorm mother he'd ever conceived of, had edited her biography three separate times, all with conflicting information. But there was no need to mention that to Aleksei or Eoin. Not yet.

"Hey, I could end up as an ace pilot," Whitby joked, smiling. "Instead of an aspiring designer."

Psyche had suggested it. Whitby wasn't sure if it was part of her hidden agenda or not. But they'd spent so much time together... she hadn't needed to do all of that just to get him to look for someone. So... she really did care. She had to.

"Who's left?" Aleksei glanced around once, apparently taking inventory of the hallway. "Nari?"

Nari. The girl who Aleksei had mentioned several times already - the one who'd done the most sneaking around. While physical sneaking wasn't his usual mode of operation, it wouldn't hurt to have a lay of the place. Besides, finding unguarded terminals would definitely be worth his time. Though...

Whitby shook the marker bangle against his wrist. It could come off, but then he'd lose use of the trams and most of the doorways within the school section. Luckily there were push-buttons to get into his room if he left it behind in there.

Thought it might complicate his plans until he figured out a way to work around it.

"Nari and Quinn and two others," Eoin was saying as he counted on his fingers. Whitby simply watched him without commenting. "Did you notice that there were only twelve in our testing?"

"The others were in R-Block," Whitby found himself saying. Did they not know? Had they really not looked into NIN-ANA that closely? He could have put himself in R-Block if he wanted. Psyche had once asked if he wanted his way paid. He'd refused. That would have been cheating, and he didn't cheat. "I don't even know if they had to do the re-testing. Doesn't much matter."

"R-Block? Aleksei questioned. "I didn't know we had blocks."

Of course he didn't. Aleksei apparently hadn't noticed much aside from there being mobile suits on the premises. It was almost refreshing, really, to meet someone so single-minded and simple. Aleksei could be trusted, definitely.

"We're in T-Block," Eoin informed him. Whitby smiled - Eoin seemed promising deep down. "I saw that somewhere. What's the difference, though?"

Or not.

Shaking his head, Whitby replied. "Am I the only one who did some deep research? You heard what Mitra said, right? We're in NIN-ANA for life."

There. He could just sound like a bookworm. Though he was a little afraid that NIN-ANA really was for life and he'd shot himself in the foot for returning to his usual hobby once he'd completed his education. Hopefully he could work around it. He could work around most everything.

"Yeah, and?" Eoin flopped back and then sat, and Aleksei followed perfectly on cue.

Whitby sat, cross-legged, and kept explaining. "Well, there are two ways to get here," he said. "First is to do all the testing and be skilled enough to get in. You know, what we all did. The second is to pay the tuition, which is part of what keeps this place running."

"Tuition?" Aleksei looked at Whitby like he'd said something in a dead language.

"Yeah," Whitby replied. "We're all here on scholarships, I guess. But there's a going price and anyone rich enough who needs a problem child out of the way for a few years..."

Yeah. NIN-ANA had a good reputation amongst the highest of circles of being the place to send troubled children and have them turned into competent soldiers in only three years. Though there were plenty of mentions of children not returning at all, as well, which didn't seem to bother the aforementioned highest of circles too terribly much.

"Here?" Aleksei seemed surprised.

"Here," Whitby confirmed. "Though I suppose they had to be tested into something... Maybe one of them will turn out to be a good pilot."

Before anyone could reply, the classroom door popped open and Nari zipped out and over to Eoin. She flopped instantly and then shook her head. "That was awful. I don't think I managed anything right. It all just sort of turned into a blur."

"Don't sweat it," Eoin replied. "Everything will turn out good." He reached to touch her shoulder, which Whitby made a careful note of. It seemed to just be friendly, but Whitby thought it was worth remembering.

"Go eat!"

Cardinell. Of course. The one that Whitby hadn't begun to figure out. But he would...


"The sooner we eat, the sooner we get our scores and the sooner we can go see Jet and Mick," Nari noted. "I just don't want to do anything, though..." That was obvious, by how she was half-sprawled on Eoin.

However, there was something in there that was very interesting. Jet. As in, Jet Zero, NIN-ANA's lead designer who spent more time attached to the school than the rest of the colony. He was mysterious, and like Psyche, there were no images of him... But these three knew him, and on a first name basis. Obviously, Nari had done some good work.

"May I invite myself along?" Whitby questioned. "I was one of the last to get here and haven't had all the good exploring time."

It wasn't wholly a lie. He had been amongst the last, and lacking a roommate, he didn't even have anyone to stumble around with. One was awkward and dangerous. Two was just two guys out for fun. And four... three of whom knew Jet Zero...

"Of course," Aleksei said quickly as he stood. Whitby was surprised when Aleksei offered him a hand. "Tonight's going to be a great night."

Whitby was inclined to agree. He took Aleksei's hand and smiled. "I'm sure it will."

Of all the things...

Aleksei looked like his brain had frozen and needed to be rebooted. There wasn't a huge difference between pilot and mechanic, after all - just time spent on certain elements. And besides, Whitby thought Aleksei would be a fabulous mechanic. He seemed to really love mobile suits, especially NIN-ANA's Gundams.

He couldn't even find any disappointment at having his own ranking changed. Psyche had been the one pushing him into design and from what he could see, both repair and design tracks could opt into all but a handful of the same classes. He didn't want to actually go into mobile suit design, after all. Maybe that was where the difference was...

"Hey, Aleksei... it's okay..."

He didn't much care for the glare he got in response. Maybe he wouldn't try again.

But this was keeping him from meeting a true legend. Whitby reached for Aleksei's hand, hoping this would work. Aleksei hadn't let go of his hand quickly before, and he wasn't sure if Aleksei felt the same warmth that he had, but he wasn't overly concerned with the specifics as long as it would get him to his short-term goal.

Carefully, he pulled Aleksei away from the screens. "It's not like you won't get to learn to pilot," he told Aleksei. "Classes will be almost identical. And it's not like you won't be able to find a piloting job once we graduate. Look, mine got changed too but it's... not a huge surprise, really."

"I just..." Whitby was surprised when Aleksei pulled his hand forcefully away. Maybe that had been a bad idea. Maybe he'd really insulted Aleksei.

"Do you still want to go see your friends?" Whitby asked. It was a last ditch attempt, to be honest. He didn't want to lose this chance, and if he'd angered Aleksei, well... But Aleksei nodded and Whitby let out a breath that he didn't know he'd been holding in. He gestured for Nari and Eoin to head over, and thankfully they did, quickly.

But they were all quiet on the tram ride. Whitby took it upon himself to look up the official NIN-ANA pages for Jet and for... Mick?

Mick Hedone. It had to be a joke. Had to be. Whitby hoped he was keeping his expression under control, otherwise...

There was no picture, so Whitby wanted to wait and see, but 'He'll make it obvious.' echoed in his mind.

There were two men sharing a ratty sofa on the far side of the hangar. Whitby quickly undistracted himself from the mobile suits and looked them both over. One had long, curly-fluffy blond hair and a strong build. He was keeping a protective arm over the back of the couch and almost touching the other man, who seemed just a bit younger. The second's hair was a deep purple, dark but not as dark as Whitby's own, nor as long. It also looked somewhat un-kept, as if it was a low priority most of the time.

"Evening," the second man said, looking up at the sound of footsteps. He let go of a large datapad he'd been sharing with the blond and then slipped away, moving to perch on a chair in slightly better condition than the sofa. The blond looked a bit surprised, but compensated quickly. Whitby watched them a second longer, going through the possibilities. Obviously, one of these men was Jet and one was Mick.

"I see we have a new body..."

"This is Whitby," Eoin offered, gesturing. "And Whitby, this is Jet and Mick."

"Honored," Whitby replied quickly. The younger one was Jet. The younger. It was almost mind-blowing. "I've heard a lot about you. And read your faculty biographies."

Also not a lie.

"What's ol' Mitra saying about me now?" Mick asked. He shook his head, but he had a wicked smile on his face. Mick Hedone... "He should know better than to try to make me sound like a respectable member of NIN-ANA's teaching staff."

Teaching staff? There'd been a brief mention of him once overseeing some high-level maintenance courses, but that was all.

"Security officer," Whitby offered. That's what the page currently said. Thug, Whitby assumed. It worked for him. "With an interest in literature, language and art."

Whitby still thought he seemed like a fairly straightforward thug. But 'Hedone'!

If Mick was as well-read as suggested, and a fan of literature and the arts, he'd make himself quite obvious with that name choice. He'd read the myth of Cupid and Psyche enough times to know that they had a daughter name Voluptas, known in ancient Greek as Hedone.

"Art," Jet commented flatly. "Art..."

Mick was laughing, though, and Eoin quickly joined in as he settled onto one of the chairs.

"Something wrong?" Whitby questioned. Had he said the wrong thing? Slipped up that he knew far more than he was letting on?

"Mick's got an appreciation for the human form, yes," Aleksei said quickly, before chuckling himself. Whitby was surprised - he didn't think Aleksei would manage even a smile for the rest of the evening, but here he was joining everyone else in a joke.

"I'm mostly harmless," Mick said. And before Whitby could respond, Mick patted the seat next to him - where Jet Zero had just been, and where he'd be able to see that large datapad and whatever they'd been perusing on it.

He didn't hesitate to sit.

But the screen was switched back to a standard NIN-ANA background. Alas.

After Mick -- Instructor Hedone's class, there was no doubt in Whitby's mind that Mick was the one that Psyche was looking for. But he had no way to communicate it to her. Whatever he'd had installed on his datapad, he couldn't even begin to hack around. Every single program he'd kept in his flash drive had failed when he'd attempted to reinstall them and he could only spend so much time trying to work around the seemingly endless security restrictions in place. He had homework to do as well. But he wanted to let Psyche know that he'd succeeded. He'd figure it out. Somehow.


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