Mobile Suit Gundam Iscariot: System Command
Title: Mobile Suit Gundam ISCARIOT: System Command
Fandom: Gundam (Meta)
Disclaimer: No profit is being made on this fanwork.
Rating: T Overall
Summary: Lancaster Dusk has a mission go bad/Solitaire begins a new life.
Notes: aka 'Shades of Beige' or 'This fic is about what everyone eats for breakfast'.
Docking at Altere was quick and painless. He really was 'Terry Dolen', from Gemma Caeli and no one seemed to even look twice at him.
Even the immigration check was painless. The Emeraldes in their cargo hold were non-functional and being taken for repairs, but they had a request to pick up a fellow student. Mallory wore his uniform. Solitaire donned a t-shirt with his jeans and feigned annoyance at his Uncle Dolen running him all over the place.
"Wouldn't it have been better for one of us to stay with the shuttle?" Mallory asked once they were clear into the colony.
"Too suspicious. Even if it was a simple pick-up - well, if it was, Si-Lisa would have been waiting for us," Solitaire said, shaking his head. "We might need to get creative in finding her, which will be unpleasant since I have no idea what she looks like."
"You said that everyone thought she was just a computer program, right?" Mallory asked.
"It's in her favor if no one knows what she looks like. For any colony-controller, actually."
"Or anyone who isn't quite what they appear to be?" Mallory chuckled. "Like Dolen, right? He hasn't aged a day since I started taking classes and that was nearly a decade ago."
"He's pretty public, though," Solitaire replied. "But as far as I know, he's a few decades older than he looks."
"You ever think about doing it?"
Solitaire shook his head. "Not really. I guess if it really came down to it, and I actually had to make the choice, I... I don't know." He shrugged. "You?"
"Up until a couple of days ago, I didn't even know what I wanted to do with my life," Mallory reminded him. "But, ah... I'm glad to be casting in with you."
"We'll see what you think once someone starts shooting at you."
"I'll hope they're as bad a shot as I am."
"That, we'll work on," Solitaire noted. They kept walking, looking through a heavily retail sector. Solitaire had his sunglasses on and was trying not to look around too much. Dolen had promised to do his best to let Siduri know they were on their way, but he'd flat out said he had no idea if she'd get the message or not because something had gone horribly wrong with her situation. And that was why he wanted her out of Altere.
"Yay," Mallory commented flatly. "Not all in one day, I hope?"
"Depends on what we have to do after this," Solitaire replied. He stopped at a crosswalk and glanced to see if it was clear to sneak across. Before he could step off the curb, a woman came barreling from the other direction. She had her head down and shopping bags in her hands and she clipped him before he could even get out of her way.
One of her bags fell and she glared up hard at Solitaire.
"Are you okay?" Solitaire asked, reaching to pick up the bag.
"I'd be better if you weren't in my way," she replied sharply. She had pretty purple eyes behind thin violet-tinted glasses and even the tips of her long brown hair were frosted purple. "Honestly--"
She snatched the bag back from him.
"No you're not," she continued. "I should have you both arrested as delinquents--"
"Ma'am, we--" Mallory started, only to be silenced by a harsh glare.
"As I was saying, I should have you both arrested as delinquents," she said before leaning a bit closer, "but Lan - right? - I think I'm being followed."
Mallory's eyes went wide. Solitaire just nodded, glancing down to where the woman had a Siduri Bunny keychain attached to the purse slung across her body.
"They're not going to be thrilled to see me," Solitaire replied in a loud whisper. "Do you have any access left?"
"Nothing," Siduri replied. "I mean, if I can plug in, I might be able to work with a small area, but if he finds me, he'll throw me out again."
"I think I see 'em," Mallory added, giving a little nod off to their left.
"Mal, take a couple of her bags," Solitaire said. "Siduri, may I have a moment of impropriety?"
"Whatever gets us out alive," she replied, handing bags over to Mallory. "Lan?"
"Solitaire," Solitaire corrected before wrapping an arm around her and pulling her close, giving her a quick kiss just to the edge of her lips.
"Go with it," he whispered.
"Happily," Siduri replied with a chuckle and leaned against him for a moment. "If I can get into the system of your shuttle, I can probably change launch schedules."
"We'll do it," Solitaire replied. "Don't run unless things are getting really bad."
For every block they made it, their pursuers edged closer.
"Once we get to the dock, we run," Solitaire announced a block away from the port entrance. "Siduri, Mallory, get us out of Altere. I'll be ready in an Emeralde in case..."
"Atropos?" Siduri questioned softly.
"Still working on it," Mallory replied. "But it'll live."
"I'm so glad. I managed to fake a destruction signal," Siduri said as they neared the port entrance.
"Now!" Solitaire cried. He grabbed Siduri's hand and ran.
Somehow they made it through in the confusion and before Solitaire could even catch his breath, Siduri was patching a cable from the back of her neck into the control panel of their shuttle.
"I can get us out of here--"
Before she could finish her sentence, the shuttle physically moved a good foot sideways, throwing Siduri into Mallory's arms.
"Mal, get everything up, Siduri, get us clear to launch. I'll go out if I have to," he said, heading toward the back of the shuttle.
He closed the cockpit door and ran to his Emeralde. No sooner had he finished starting up his Emeralde than the shuttle started to move.
"We're clear!" Mallory cried. "Siduri is amazing."
"Don't let your guard down."
There was a long silence.
"That's a lot of Safphirs."
"Send me visuals," Solitaire requested. Mallory was right - it was a lot of Safphirs. And most of them had their guns raised.
"New plan," Solitaire replied. "Mal, Siduri, get back here and into the other Emeralde. Once they start firing, the shuttle is scrap."
"This isn't your Gundam - we can't make it to Gemma Caeli in these," Mallory replied.
"We're not gonna," Solitaire said. "But Siduri, I'm going to need you to hack back into Altere for me."
"I can try--"
The first shots hit the shuttle and Solitaire could tell that Mallory was pushing it as hard as he could.
"Head back around Altere. There's a military dock and a ship there, a cruiser that--"
"The Palisades?" Siduri broke in. "It's..."
"Currently decommissioned, right?" Solitaire questioned. "I asked Christiane about it when I first got in - if there was anything I could use to take the team out for practice away from the colony."
"But the Palisades..."
The shuttle rocked again.
"We're going to steal it," Solitaire declared. The Palisades was a fine ship, aside from one quirk.
"I think I see it," Mallory declared. "I'm going to set auto-pilot and we'll get back there ASAP."
"I'm taking over launch timing," Solitaire added. "And I'm launching."
He didn't wait for any reply, instead taking the moment for what it was. From there, all he had to do was shoot Safphirs and that was easy. That and stay with the shuttle, which seemed to have caught on fire inside. Hopefully Mallory and Siduri were okay.
As he wheeled around and plunged a saber through the body of a dark mobile suit, he saw them launch from the shuttle, which veered and exploded, taking out two Safphirs on its own.
"I have a lot of bags," Siduri replied flatly. "Sorry. But we're good. I'm trying to find the Palisades but it's... Got it!"
"She's sort of taking up most of my controls," Mallory complained. "I can't really--"
The Safphirs were hanging back anyway, either confused or waiting for further orders.
"I'll blast our way in if I have to," Solitaire said.
"No, I got it," Siduri replied. "But I can't really do anything with it til we're in. But I got a rear hangar door to respond."
"What's so strange about this ship?" Mallory asked.
Solitaire heard Siduri chuckle.
"It requires a properly-outfitted cyborg to even get the controls unlocked," Solitaire said. "Which is why I couldn't just use it for training."
The Safphirs, their numbers lessened but still overwhelming, came up fast on them without warning. Apparently, they'd gotten new orders.
"Go!" Solitaire cried, spinning to slash and shoot as many as possible. He could feel the Emeralde getting hit and dammit, he hadn't had time to even think about a helmet. A few good hits and he'd probably lose most of his life support.
And then, suddenly, just as he was starting to think it was the end, all of the Safphirs stopped. Solitaire checked his rear-screen. Behind him, the Palisades had lit up and was moving.
"Need a lift?" Mallory's voice called. "This little one can move."
"Don't mind if I do," Solitaire replied, dropping down to follow along the bottom of the ship until he saw an open hold gate. He didn't even care where he was; he set the Emeralde on its knees and waited for the airlock to clear.
He felt the ship accelerate.
And he let out breath he didn't even know he was holding.
As he descended, he was surprised to see arrows flashing, directing him toward the front of the ship.
"Hey, Lan, this is great." Siduri's voice was disembodied, floating over an invisible public address. "It's different than being part of Altere, but it isn't bad."
Solitaire chuckled. He'd have to remind her again of what his name was. But first, he wanted to find the bridge and maybe sit down for a minute.
Mallory had taken a navigator's seat on the bridge, fingers flying over the Palisades' control panels.
"Solitaire! This is amazing! And I'm not really flying her at all - Siduri is," Mallory said.
"Yeah, and I'm trying to hold off reports of a stolen military cruiser hitting every dispatch ever," Siduri said quickly. "What do I do?"
"You can get into Altere?" Solitaire questioned. He hoped Siduri could hear him. "Or at least where it was docked."
"Briefly, I think. I don't know. He's got it locked down pretty tight but he still hasn't learned the whole system," Siduri replied. "What do you want me to do?"
"Reclassify it as being for sale," Solitaire said quickly, reaching down into his jeans and pulling out his Zeeko Card. Lucien had said it didn't really have a limit on it, in an emergency. "I'm going to buy it."
"We'll have to officially register it in Gemma Caeli," Mallory said. "Might want to change its running name, too."
"I can't believe you bought a ship," Siduri added. She'd dragged a bundle of cables with her out to the bridge and was currently sprawled on her side across a wide bridge chair, wiring snaking from her neck and under her shirt.
"I can't believe that worked," Solitaire admitted. After a bit of prodding from them both, he'd settled in the captain's seat.
"Hey, I got Dolen!" Siduri said suddenly, smiling. "I'll tell him we're on the way. But I am not telling him about the Palisades. No way. I want him to see it in person."
"And it is official, right?"
"Registered sale through Siduri System," Siduri said. "It's completely official and done. And took like five seconds. Bastard couldn't get me in that amount of time."
"I still don't really understand that," Solitaire admitted.
"I was surprised at first, too," Siduri admitted. "I mean, I guess I assumed that the system could be shared but even in my training, it was all solo work. And since it can run automated - because I was allowed to have a life outside of work - y'know..."
"Especially since we weren't supposed to know you existed?" Solitaire asked.
Siduri nodded as best she could with her cabling. "Cute bunny mascot and whatnot. And I was actually-- Siduri the Eighth, I think. Only the second female Siduri of the set. Anyway, one day there was just... like a shadow in with me, and then it felt like I was being watched from the inside out-- like things were being tested, changes made just to see how much could be changed without me noticing. But I noticed."
"Any idea who?"
"The one who turned Tracey against you," Siduri said. "I'm sure of that. He's skilled... No clue where he's from, though."
"It wasn't a set up!" Mallory said, beaming. "That's good--"
"Still sounds like a set up," Solitaire interrupted flatly. Just... someone else. Someone he knew nothing about.
"But it wasn't anyone you knew... trying to kill you and..."
"I couldn't save anyone except for Lan--Solitaire," Siduri said softly, sighing. "I tried. Commander Christiane was dead before I even realized what was happening."
Solitaire frowned. Christiane had been the one to warn him. "But..."
"Lan, that was me. You hated me as Siduri - I knew you wouldn't listen. His pad was plugged in because he was working--"
"You saved my life," Solitaire said softly, the weight of the revelation making his voice crack.
"Yeah, and you just saved mine," Siduri replied.
"I'm not sure we're even," Solitaire said. He felt a little better about having survived - because one of his team had made it, even if he hadn't realized it. He had fed everything he could into the Siduri System. So Siduri was as much a part of the project...
"More like we're connected," Siduri said. "I think that's what I like so much. Being connected. Makes me good for the job."
"Is it difficult?" Mallory questioned, glancing over at her.
"No," Siduri replied, shifting a bit. "The surgery is the worst. And the recovery. And that first plug into a system. But after that-- it's amazing. It's helping people and making sure a little bit of the universe is running just right."
"That sounds difficult," Mallory admitted.
"Well, passing all the screenings for a job like Siduri -- that was tough. Especially for a woman," Siduri admitted. "I'm divorced, so that was about a thousand questions. And female, which was another thousand. But no, I'm happily single and unable to have babies and honestly, just working was good--
"At least I was in an IT field before the surgery," Siduri continued. "I was going to have the port put in anyway, but the colony upgrade was sort of a whim."
"Either Dolen is going to have to find me something to plug into or I'm staying with you guys and the Palisades."
"Pandemonium," Solitaire said quickly.
"Huh?" Mallory looked up at him.
"Pandemonium," Solitaire repeated. It... summed up a lot of things, including the current situation and what he expected his life to be like for a bit.
"I like it. I'll register it." Siduri grinned. "Okay, done. Cruiser Class Pandemonium, registered out of Gemma Caeli to a private cargo delivery company. Business contact is A. Mal. Gam."
All of the information flashed up on all of the screens on the bridge.
"Amalgam," Solitaire said, chuckling. "Now that's a good one."
"Me?" Mallory questioned. "That's me?" He spun around once in his chair. "I have a code name!"
Dolen, with Mary, and Lucien were both waiting when the trio stumbled off of the Pandemonium. Solitaire thought they all needed at least a week to sleep off their four day mission.
"Lisa!" Dolen cried, sweeping Siduri into his arms as soon as she was away from the ramp.
"Dolen!" She squeezed him tight and hesitated in letting go for long enough that Mary sort of winced.
"Good work," Dolen said as he let her go. "All three of you, since apparently it took all three of you to steal an Altere military vessel--"
"Solitaire bought it," Lucien corrected. "That was brilliant, by the way."
"It's not like Altere really has a military anyway," Siduri added. "The Palisades was left behind by another group and Altere claimed it and then realized it was dead weight. They got a fair price for it."
"So I noticed," Lucien said, chuckling.
"Do we get a day off?" Mallory questioned.
"How about a week?" Lucien countered. "By then, I will have that next mission ready."
"You'll need a navigator," Siduri said quickly. "I mean... someone who can control the ship, y'know--"
"Lisa, would you perhaps help them?" Dolen questioned. "It'll give you something to do until you find someone who can put your abilities to use."
"Of course," Siduri said, beaming. "I can even get a cool code na--"
"Siduri," Solitaire interjected flatly. "You already have one."
"Do I want to know what's going on here?" Kenzie questioned from his side of the hall.
"Nope," Solitaire replied. "Just roll with it. It might get weirder."
"Shhh--" Mallory commanded from the sofa. Siduri had claimed the bedroom that Lucien had been using, though Lucien was apparently back in his own space. Or perhaps he was bunking with Swann. Solitaire hadn't really gotten much of a chance to talk with Lucien aside from clarifying that someday the Pandemonium would be repaid and not to do that again because processing had nearly ground to a dead halt over the speed at which transactions were flying through.
"My bed," Solitaire told him. "We can share. I know we'll end up sharing."
"You can share with me," Siduri called from her room.
Solitaire was not at all surprised when, halfway through the next day, he woke to find Siduri snuggled on Mallory's far side.
It wasn't quite the family he expected. But... it was the one he had.
Drink Lemonade! Tip Your Waitress!