|2015-01-30, 16:57||Link #1|
Join Date: Jan 2015
Muv-Luv Alternative: Heaven Piercing (Muv-Luv x Gurren Lagann)
AN: My first serious long fanfic. It is also unbeta'd (heh) and might have some English weirdness in it.
All in all I do hope you enjoy this crossover of mine that wrecked my brain since the day I finished reading Muv-Luv Alternative. I think it will be quite a ride.
It is also on FFN.net so feel free to review!
To the crew, it looked like space itself was burning. The various explosions that occurred around them shook the ships with various degrees of force, forcing some crewmembers to grab their panels in an attempt to not fall off their chairs.
“More space-class BETA coming from the right!” One of the bridge officers yelled over the deafening sound of their enemies exploding into chunky pieces. They had planned this invasion for a long time now and finally having the means to put this plan into action caused them all to be itching for a fight. They had already retaken one of their territories in outer space, so now they would put all they had into recapturing this planet as well.
The planet Mars.
The crimson planet glowed an ominous red as more and more of the BETA’s fleet exited its orbit and attacked the human fleet. But humanity had been ready for them for a long time now. Reloading the main cannons once again, the bridge officers continuously shouted out more and more updates from the developing situation. At the moment, it seemed that they were at a stalemate with their long-hated enemy, the BETA. The BETA in the past conquered much of the moon and the Earth, forcing humanity to the brink of extinction. Humanity’s end seemed almost certain at any moment.
Until that one fateful day.
And now, humanity was fighting back in full force. More and more shells were fired and more and more TSFs engaged the enemy in closer combat.
“It seems we cannot advance much further than this at the moment.” A voice spoke out from behind the bridge crew.
“Admiral!” said the Captain, saluting his superior officer.
“At ease.” Replied the admiral. The captain lowered his hand and updated the admiral on the situation. Their enemies were not pushing them back, but they could not break through their incredibly strong frontline either. Both sides were gaining and losing forces at an equal rate, but humanity had less to spare than the overwhelming BETA. Therefore, they had to deal with the situation as fast as they could.
“It seems we will have to use our trump card, won’t we?” The captain asked his admiral, who was processing the information the captain had given and what was on screen. It took a few minutes and a few more violent rockings until the admiral reached a decision.
“…heh.” Answered the admiral, grinning widely. “It seems that we will.”
“I see.” Said the captain. He was worried a bit for the admiral, but he had to trust in the admiral’s words. Their trump card was one of a kind and they could not afford to lose it…But who was he to deny their admiral this plan of action.
“Captain, please prepare it.” Commanded the admiral, who turned back towards the elevator.
“Prepare the trump card!” yelled the captain to his bridge crew. Even with all the explosions around them and the risk of certain death, the bridge crew could not help but smile at the prospect of seeing that thing in action again. It was a great experience every time they had.
The elevator went down towards the belly of the ship quickly, reaching the hangar.
“Your machine is ready!” said one of the mechanics to the admiral upon arrival. They already knew exactly what they had to calibrate and what they had to fine-tune every time the admiral went out in that thing, so they could get it done in record speed at this point.
“Good,” Replied the admiral to his crew. The admiral gazed at the red planet through the protective screen of the hangar, taking the sight in. “It’s time we took the fight to you, beasts.”
The admiral quickly climbed up the machine and entered its special cockpit, a cockpit the admiral had been inside many times already, and took pleasure entering every time.
Powering up the machine to its outmost power, the admiral yelled out.
“Let’s go, Gurren Lagann!”
“Haaa…” Shirogane Takeru sighed loudly. It was the only sound the young man could make at the moment. He was tired, damn tired, and going through all those lessons that he had already experienced a million times did not help him at all. He also couldn’t banish the feelings that he had felt when he jumped back to his own world. At first, it felt very good, seeing his friends again, even from afar. Not only that, but he had managed to obtain the equation Yuuko needed in order to further her development on Alternative IV, and had spoken to Sumika along the way even though it went against what Yuuko instructed him.
It was a good feeling in the beginning, but now he could feel the weight of the world on his shoulders more and more each passing day. He believed he had already tampered more than necessary with the future; his extraordinary skills that he had picked up from the many loops he went through helping his squad pass every test they had with relative ease, even the Comprehensive Combat Evaluation. But he couldn’t get rid of the nagging feeling that the future held far more for him than he could handle.
And with these thoughts in mind, Takeru continued to walk into the ruins of old Hiiragi town. That morning, he decided he would go back to his old home, just for the hell of it. It was a day off and he wanted to cool his head down from all he experienced for the past few weeks.
It didn’t take him very long to reach his ruined home. It looked like exactly as he remembered it, with the front entrance destroyed and a TSF crashed into Sumika’s house right next to it. He approached the downed machine and placed his hand on its frame, feeling the familiar cold steel. If there was one thing he was still grateful for was the fact that Sumika did not exist in this war-torn world, so she would not suffer the same pain as he had. Moving closer to the machine, he placed his forehead to it. He stayed in that position for some time, clearing his head from all thought. He just needed some time to himself to finally relax and get rid of any worries, even for a bit.
Slowly but surely, the sun began to set on the horizon, and he realized he probably should be starting to head back. Everyone would be worried about him at this rate. Removing his forehead and hand from the machine, he began to walk back towards the base when he suddenly heard a strange groaning sound behind him. He turned back to the downed machine, and looked at it curiously.
Suddenly, the machine’s huge frame groaned loudly and collapsed, scattering metal pieces and dust all around. Takeru quickly put his hand up to protect his face from the cloud of dust that blew over the area. A minute later the dust settled, and he brought his hand down to look at the remains of the now wrecked machine.
“Ah, oops.” Was the only thing he could say about the situation.
He examined the wreckage further, thinking that he probably should have been a bit more careful with it. Even ruined, a TSF could provide resources for the building of additional TSFs from its spare parts. He walked towards the ruined machine looking over the crunched up metal when a strange light blinked in the corner of his eye. He turned towards the source, finding it buried underneath the collapsed frame.
Deciding that he should investigate the light, he climbed onto the TSF, and began to remove the metal pieces covering the source of the light. He found some difficulty in the task, but the various metal parts that made up the TSF were already slashed or crushed into various smaller pieces that he could remove by himself, even though they were heavy.
He continued to remove more and more pieces of metal until he finally uncovered the source of the blinking light, and froze.
It was a machine. At least, he thought it was a machine. He had never seen anything like it in his life. It was fairly small from his perspective, but the top part of the machine was open, as if a person could ride in it. There was an obvious chair in the middle of it, and two handles blotted out from each side inside of this ‘cockpit’. It had a strange design, but the cockpit was the least interesting feature of this machine.
It had a face. Its front had a clear visage of a human face with a color resembling closely to normal skin color. The jawline and nose were painted a reddish color, reminding Takeru of the communicator an Eishi wore along with their suit. Yet the machine’s eyes were closed, as if it was sleeping.
“What the heck is this thing?” Takeru said to himself “I have never seen anything like this before. Is it a discarded prototype?”
He brought his hand forward to touch the strange face. All of a sudden, the green light returned, so now he could discern its exact origin.
It came from the machine’s closed eyelids. The blinking was slow and emitted a low humming sound. Takeru could not for his life understand what this blinking meant. Is it waking up? Is it sending a message? He did not know.
Wracking his brain for a solution, Takeru eventually decided to go to the one person who was familiar with strange objects: Kouzuki Yuuko.
In his original world, Kouzuki Yuuko was his eccentric physics teacher who would often came up with strange theories in the middle of class and then run off to write them down before she forgot. She was energetic and sarcastic, amusing herself by making fun of him at every opportune moment or teasing him about a fictional relationship with his homeroom teacher Jinguuji Marimo.
But in this world, she was way different. Now she was cold and calculating, taking her research incredibly seriously and managing to reach amazing results with her genius. She was the mastermind behind Alternative IV, the main plan of action to ensure humanity’s survival until it was discarded in favor of Alternative V in the previous timeline. When he found himself thrown back in time, the first thing Takeru did was tell Yuuko about his experiences and everything he knew in order to make Alternative IV work. He did a lot of things she asked, and she went as far as creating a machine that could send him back to his own world for some time in order to gain an equation from her other self that would advance her development of the crux of Alternative IV, the 00 Unit.
Takeru did not know what the 00 Unit was, but he did know it was a crucial part of the plan, so he agreed and did as she had asked and retrieved the equation for her.
All in all, if there was anybody Takeru could trust to deal with strange findings and phenomena, it was her. Having returned to the base, Takeru went down to the lower floors to reach the genius professor’s lab.
He reached the door of Yuuko’s lab and opened it.
“Yuuko-sensei, you here?” He asked.
Entering the messy room with papers thrown about everywhere, he saw her sitting at her main desk, typing something on her computer.
“Oh, Shirogane? What are you doing up so late?” She asked him, not bothering to look up from the screen. He figured that whatever it was that she was working on it must be important, but he still had to tell her his amazing find. Yuuko loved amazing finds.
“I just came to tell you that I found something interesting in next to my house.” He answered her.
Then, she stopped typing. When she did that, it obviously meant she heard something interesting. That was good for him he guessed.
“Ho…what is it this time Shirogane?” She asked him half-mockingly. He really hated that tone of voice of hers, but he was used to it by now. It wasn’t very different from her tone in his original world, but it was annoying every single time.
“Well, I don’t really know how to describe it.” He said sheepishly, rubbing the back of his head with his hand. “But I think it was some kind of machine, maybe a TSF prototype.”
Staring at him quizzically, she said “You know that if there was some sort of prototype TSF in the works in the area I would know about it, right? It obviously can’t be a prototype TSF.”
“Yeah well,” he replied “Whatever it is, it’s strange. It seemed like it can be piloted, and it’s fairly small, but it was only a face and it looks like it doesn’t work at…”
“Stop.” She said suddenly, stopping his description of the machine. “Say that last part again.”
“Huh? You mean the part that it’s only a face?” He asked her.
“Yeah, that part.” She answered curiously. Yuuko put her hand on her chin in thought, putting the pieces together. Reaching a decision, she got up from her chair. “Alright, let’s go see it.”
“Eh, right now?”
“Yes, right now. I want to see it now and there is nothing you can do about it.”
“…Alright.” He said with a sigh. Yep, as soon as she hears something interesting she wants to hear all the details, or if there are no details to tell, then to see them. A genius will always pursue the unknown after all.
“Go wait outside for a second. I need to get something.” She told him.
“Hm? Ok.” He answered. And with that, he exited the lab.
He waited a bit outside of the lab door, hearing the occasional drawer or cupboard opening from behind him. Whatever it was she was looking for, it looked like she misplaced it, or forgot where it was. After a bit, the sounds stopped and the door opened.
“Alright, let’s go.” She commanded.
It was nearly midnight when they reached the wreckage of his old home. The stars shone beautifully in the night sky, although the moon was nowhere to be seen. In this world, the moon was the first place where humanity had encountered and fought against the BETA. The losses were great and eventually humanity had to retreat from Earth’s natural satellite, leaving it for the BETA to populate. It didn’t take too long for the BETA to start constructing their hives upon its surface, and now the once beautiful moon that meant so much to the people of Earth only gave them a grim reminder of where the BETA first decimated them. Not long after their conquest of the moon, the BETA landed on Earth as well, quickly annihilating countries with their superior numbers and reaching to the many corners of Asia and Europe. Their hives riddled the Earth, and humanity’s population dwindled to a new low. It was only a matter of time until the BETA completely and utterly conquer every corner of the world, and humanity will be facing extinction.
“So, where is it?” Yuuko asked, snapping Takeru out of his stupor.
“Oh, right. It’s here.” He said, leading her to the ruins of the TSF. Not much had changed since he had been there a few hours before, except that it was getting a bit harder to see. He climbed on the ruins of the TSF again. Reaching down, he gave Yuuko a hand in climbing the wreckage. Once she was on, he carefully led her through the wreckage until they reached his aforementioned find.
Upon seeing it, Yuuko could not help but be amazed. “This…is one heck of a find you have here Shirogane. “She told him, still amazed.
“Yeah well, even if it is, I don’t know what the heck it is. I was hoping you could tell me.”
“This…is what I’ve been looking for.” She told him. He didn’t understand what she meant by that. She has been looking for it? So she did know what it was.
“Well…what is it then?” he asked her.
She remained quiet for a bit, thinking. “I will tell you once we bring this back. For now, let’s take it to the base. No wait, it will be bad if someone sees it. We need to do this quietly.”
“Quietly?” he said curiously. “How can we bring something like this through the front doors quietly? It’s too big to carry and it will definitely make a whole bunch of noise if we try to move it.” After saying that, he touched it in order to prove his point. It moved a bit from his touch, causing the wreckage around them to make a slight groaning noise.
But then its closed eyelids start to blink with the strange green light again, humming quietly.
“Eh?” Yuuko said, looking at it. “It’s…responding.”
“Responding? How the heck is it responding? All it’s doing is making some lights and noise. It will be even harder to move it now!”
“You don’t understand Shirogane. It is definitely responding. But not just to anything,” she began. “It’s responding to you.”
He stared at her for that. Responding to him? How the heck does that even work? He didn’t do anything other than touch its frame. “Are you for real?” He asked her.
“For real.” She answered. Suddenly, the pocket of her lab coat started to glow the same strange green light as the machine. It blinked in sync with the machine’s blinking. Yuuko and Takeru noticed this, and curiously, she pulled the glowing object from her pocket.
It was a drill. A small yellow drill lay in the palm of Yuuko’s hand, glowing green in sync with the machine Takeru had uncovered. The two looked incredulously at the glowing drill, thinking about what this meant.
“Take it.” She told him, handing him the drill.
“Huh?” He replied stupidly.
“I said take it. The machine responded to you, and then this thing started reacting as well. I think this might be what is needed to get this thing moving.”
“Are you sure about this Yuuko-sensei? I don’t want to do something dangerous and suddenly explode or grow new arms or something.” He said skeptically.
“Don’t be such a bore Shirogane. You never get to experience enough exciting things in life, especially in your case. This one thing won’t kill you, and if it does, I’ll make sure to dissect you to uncover your secrets~” she responded dangerously.
“You are not making this any easier you know.” He said, squinting his eyes at her.
“Just take it damn it.” She said to him, forcing the drill into his face.
“Alright,alright!” he said back, taking the small drill into his hand. As soon as he took it, the drill began to glow brighter and in greater frequency than before, puzzling the two.
“Well? Are you gonna get in?” she asked him.
Hesitantly, Takeru sat down in the seat of the strange machine. He studied the panel before him, noticing a small round hole in the middle of it. He stared at the hole, which glowed as well in sync with the drill in his hand. He swallowed hard, and in one motion, inserted the drill into the hole and turned.
And then, the world was filled with green light.
A white spiral appeared around the drill in the panel, extending outward. The machine’s eyes opened widely, and green energy poured powerfully from the bottom of it. Yuuko had to cover her eyes from the bright light with her hand while Takeru instinctively grabbed the handles on the side of the cockpit.
“Wha! What is it doing Yuuko-sensei!” Takeru shouted over the sound of the machine’s engine.
“I have no idea! But whatever it is doing, it powered up!” She shouted over back to him. Deciding to try it out, Yuuko jumped down into the machine, right into Takeru’s lap.
“Wha-wha-wha-what are you doing?!?!” he screamed embarrassingly. What the hell was she thinking in a time like this?!?!
“Quiet down Shirogane and let’s see what happens!” She answered back.
The machine began to hover over the ground for a bit, and then did something that amazed them both.
Arms appeared. Arms slid over from the back of it to its side, growing from what appeared to be shoulder guards, and underneath it, legs extended from the bottom and grew small feet. All that while the machine hovered slightly over the ground with the green light filling their vision.
“All right! It works!” Shouted Yuuko.
And then the machine shot forward. Grabbing on for dear life, Takeru grasped the handles of it while Yuuko grabbed on to him. The machine shot past the wreckage of Takeru’s old house and deeper into the ruins of Hiiragi Town.
“Whoaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!! !!!!!!!” Takeru screamed while panicking. He didn’t know what the hell was going on but he sure as hell wanted it to stop. The machine kept on flying forward with great force and he had no idea how to make it stop.
“Shirogane!” Shouted Yuuko. “Think of it like a TSF! What do you do to get a TSF to stop moving?! It should work the same way!”
Still grabbing on to the handles for dear life, Takeru channeled all of his military experience in dealing with fast and furious machines, he ran through his mind the command to stop.
At his mental command, the machine descended down to the ground, throwing dust and dirt behind it until it slid into a complete stop.
“Now that was quite a ride I have to say.” Yuuko said, breathing a bit harder than normal. It seemed like the machine’s sudden acceleration unnerved her a bit as well.
“That was a lot less fun than I thought.” Takeru replied sarcastically.
“You are still such a bore Shirogane. Do you think you can get it to move normally? I want to take this thing back to the hangar.”
“Uh, I think. It kind of works like a TSF like you said so it shouldn’t be too hard.”
“Good, then let’s get moving. I’ll show you where to go.”
With the matter resolved, the two walked back to the base inside of the strange machine.
“Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaa~~~~” Takeru sighed loudly.
“Takeru! It’s rude to sigh without covering you mouth!” Mikoto scolded him.
Takeru was currently in the cafeteria for breakfast with the rest of his squad. He went to sleep pretty late yesterday night after his wild adventure with Yuuko-sensei. After they had reached the outside entrance of the hangar, Yuuko told him that she would take it from there and sent him off to sleep. He took the drill out of the panel and handed it back to her. After that, he quickly went off to his room and crashed on his bed, not even bothering to change clothes. That’s how tired he was. He was one hundred percent sure he would miss roll call in the morning but luckily, Kasumi came to wake him up like every day.
Kasumi was still an enigma in his eyes. In the previous timeline, right before ----- boarded the ship out of Earth, he went looking for her and found her in the lab, hugging the eerie brain-in-a-tube. Once he tried to get her to come with him, she spoke with a tone so similar to Sumika that he was stunned. It was a moment he can never forget. He began to think that Kasumi was some kind of parallel to Sumika in this world, but in the end nothing connected, so he dropped it from his mind.
After being woken up, he fixed himself up a bit to look presentable and headed to roll call, which was followed by breakfast.
“Honestly, where did you learn your manners Shirogane?” Chided Chizuru, AKA Class rep.
And what came first thing in the morning? Being lectured by the rest of the squad.
“Takeru, did you not sleep well?” Meiya asked worryingly.
“It’s not that,” He began. Before he could finish his sentence Kei cut him off.
“Played with himself…” She quipped.
“Don’t say things that can cause a misunderstanding!” He returned to her.
“As I was saying before Ms. Pervert cut me off,” he cleared his throat. “Yuuko-sensei called me for something and I stayed up really late so I barely got any sleep.”
“Ah! That’s no good Takeru-san!” said Miki. “You need to take care of yourself! We need you in top shape you know!” She added, swinging her arms up.
“I know I know, but her words are absolute and all that, so I can’t really go against her.” He replied
“We cannot understand the XO’s reasoning, but whatever it was I am sure it was of great importance.” Meiya added in a dignified tone.
They continued in relative silence, sometimes with one of them talking about meaningless topics until suddenly Kasumi came up next to him. He had to give it to her; this girl knew how to sneak up to him without him noticing. Only once she began talking did he actually notice she was there.
“The professor is calling you.” She said softly.
“Ah, I see. Thank you Kasumi.” He said to her. Nodding once, she walked away. Taking that as his cue to leave, he picked up his tray and went to throw it out.
“I’ll see you guys later then.” He told his squad.
“Yes,” Meiya answered him. “See you in class later.”
Takeru quickly cleared out his tray and went straight ahead to Yuuko’s lab. His instinct told him it had to be about that machine he had found.
“You’re late.” She said impatiently as soon as he arrived. Together the two of them went to another elevator. Pressing the button to go down to the hangar floor, the door closed and the elevator began to go down.
“I have discovered something really interesting about that machine you found.” She began.
“Like what?” He asked her.
“For starters, it really is different from regular TSFs. Other than its size, it has completely different controls and interface, although seeing that it stopped once you mentally commanded it to stop, it seems that is also works on the thought-based control. Also, when I had tried to power it up myself with that little drill, it wouldn’t work at all. It seemed to completely refuse my access to it.”
“So what does that mean?” He asked.
“My guess is that since yesterday you are the one who powered it up, it will only respond to you now. It is a peculiar little thing. It has a tiny engine yet it managed to output such power with such a small frame. Even more peculiar is that I did not feel even a bit of motion sickness. I never rode a TSF before so I should be susceptible to it yet I did not feel it even a little bit.”
“So what does it mean?”
“It means that if we can reverse engineer it, we can try and isolate all of these unique features it has and apply them to mass-produced TSFs. It will grant us a huge advantage either way. We did manage to figure out its name.”
“It has a name?” Takeru asked. He felt that Yuuko was not exactly telling him everything, but he was used to that. She never told him what exactly the 00 Unit was either and a bunch of other parts of her grand design. He understood her reasoning behind it though. If he knew too much and discovered something he didn’t like, he would no longer cooperate with her like she wanted, and so he played along.
“Yes,” she said. “It’s called Lagann.”
“Lagann? As in enveloping face?”
“Exactly. A fitting name don’t you think? It is nothing but a face with an engine after all.”
“So why exactly are you telling me all this?” He asked her. Generally, whenever she called him it was in order to tell him something she was willing to share or give him some sort of mission.
“Because it is a part of something even bigger.”
“What do you mean?” he asked, confused.
“I’ll show you now.”
As soon as she finished speaking, the elevator stopped and the door to the hangar opened. He personally never stepped foot in this hangar in the other timeline. For him, it was one heck of a revelation.
“I personally didn’t want to bring you here until later, but it’s important that you will be. It doesn’t respond to anyone other than you after all.” She said to him, taking a step out of the elevator. Following her, he stepped out as well.
The hangar he found himself in was gigantic. The ceiling was incredibly high up, and he figured that several TSFs could stand on top of each other and they would still not reach the ceiling. Separated inside of this hangar by giant concrete walls were several huge bases, serving as what would have been on a smaller scale for TSFs, but right now many of them were empty except for two. In one of them was what seemed like a TSF under construction, although he couldn’t really tell what it was.
It was the other hangar that they approached. As they walked up to it, he noticed two things. The first was the aforementioned Lagann, sitting on the side with a few mechanics apparently working on it. The other was the TSF sized red machine that he had never seen before in his life. It had a face too, with obvious teeth and shoulder guards that sported a flaming red skull with black shades.
Yes, shades. And the machine itself sported these shades on its eyes.
“Say hello to the other half of Lagann,” Yuuko said. “Gurren.”
|2015-02-05, 17:01||Link #2|
Join Date: Jan 2015
“Gurren?” Takeru asked her. “As in crimson lotus?”
“Exactly.” She answered him. “This machine’s name is Gurren. We found it years ago in the same area that you found our little Lagann here, in the ruins of old Hiiragi Town.”
“Found it? How exactly do you just ‘find’ something like this? It obviously stands out from everything else. It’s big, it’s bright, and it’s menacing! I mean look at those shades! It looks like it came out straight of hell!”
“You can say what you want but we did just find it there by complete accident.” She squinted her eyes at him. Again, he could tell that she was hiding something. This woman was a master of half-truths and withholding information. No matter where it came from, this machine was obviously suspicious, especially if he found Lagann completely on ‘accident’. He could bet money that she somehow orchestrated it, but that was probably unlikely considering she herself was surprised by his finding of Lagann.
“You said it is the other half of Lagann, right?” he said, repeating her earlier declaration. “How do you know that?”
“Well for starters,” She began, folding her arms. “Their colors match exactly as you can see. I don’t believe something like this could just be a total coincidence. The two machines match in aesthetics, so that’s one thing. Second, we have managed to access a few of Gurren’s logs and we discovered something interesting, although anybody could figure it out from just seeing these two together.”
“And that is?”
“Well, Lagann is apparently Gurren’s head.”
“Gurren’s…head?” He looked at her like she was making it up, but upon closer look he could see the connection. Gurren’s ‘face’ was on what you could call it’s stomach, which he assumed was where its cockpit laid. The top of it however was flat, covered with black metal, and seemed like something else should be able to connect to it.
“Yes, but it’s strange.” Yuuko added. “There are no ports or cables or anything that resembles a connection. We tried this morning to put Lagann on top of it, but nothing happened. Our objective right now is to install Lagann back on Gurren.”
“And I guess that the reason you brought me here is to do exactly that.” Takeru said. Yep, he knew that she wouldn’t call him down if it wasn’t so he could do something for her.
“Exactly. What I want you to do is to power up Lagann while we lower you down on top of Gurren and see what happens.”
“I bet I don’t have any say in this.” He quipped at her.
“Oh, I like smart boys. You catch on fast.” She said to him, chuckling.
Letting out a sigh, he relented. “Alright, fine.”
He couldn’t believe he let himself get roped into this. Takeru was used to being a guinea pig, but apparently trying to power up a machine no one in the base had any idea how it worked was just too much. He was used to piloting several types of TSFs, so it wasn’t like he was scared of it, but rather of the uncertainty of what the result could bring. For all he knew as soon as this thing powered up it would blow up beautifully and sink all of mainland Japan in an instant.
But this was Yuuko he was talking about so maybe he would be ok.
Maybe being a big word.
And so, Takeru found himself being lowered down slowly onto Gurren while inside of Lagann. He didn’t quite like how Lagann’s cockpit was wide open like that. It wasn’t safe for anyone who piloted it if they accidentally fell off from the top. He was thinking that maybe there had to be some kind of cover. Maybe it was external?
As soon as he thought about the cover for Lagann, suddenly a canopy appeared above his head, sealing him inside.
“Yuuko-sensei!” He screamed out. “This thing suddenly closed me in!”
“Oh really? Good job, Shirogane!” She screamed back from next to Gurren foot. “What exactly did you do!?”
“I don’t know! All I was thinking was how it was dangerous for this this to be wide open all the time, and suddenly it closed me in!”
“Well good work, Shirogane! Now you don’t get to leave until you get me results!”
Urk, this again. Her sadism knows no bounds.
Now sealed inside of Lagann, Takeru grabbed the handles and waited as he was lowered down on top of Gurren. When he felt a slight jerk from the bottom of Lagann, he knew that he was on top of it now.
“Alright Shirogane! Make this work!” Yuuko shouted to him.
At her words, he came up with a few methods. Maybe he should shout a few words? Think a few words? He didn’t really know where to start. Lagann stood on top of Gurren, unmoving.
“Alright, let’s do this. Link!” he shouted.
“Ok then! Join!” he tried again.
…Nothing. It was getting kind of annoying. He was commanding Lagann in spoken words and in his head yet nothing he did had any sort of effect.
“Nothing, huh?” Yuuko said to herself.
Not giving up, Takeru continued.
“Link start! Fusion Ha! Lagann powers activate! Super combining form! Penetrate! Impact! Trace on! Install!”
Despite Takeru’s shouting of increasingly ridiculous phrases or words, Lagann would not budge. Not matter what he said or what he thought, Lagann continued to stand rigid on top of Gurren, not responding to anything. Takeru felt stupid at his embarrassing attempts.
“I guess that failed.” Yuuko said to herself. “Alright, Shirogane! We’re bringing you down! We’ll try again some other time!” she shouted to him.
Sighing, Takeru relented and stopped his attempts.
“Well that was a total failure.” He said as soon as he came down, still inside of Lagann.
“Perhaps we did not try everything just yet,” Yuuko said to him while thinking of possible solutions. As a scientist, she already knew what it felt like to fail your experiments. What that meant is that they didn’t isolate the correct factor. She knew that Gurren and Lagann we related, she was sure of that. But how the heck do you get them to link? Does it require something other than just words? “I’ll keep working on a solution. Get out of that thing and meet me in my office.”
And so Takeru did as he was told. Lagann working on mental commands was something he figured out easily by now. It did it when he first found it and now with the canopy. Giving the mental command, the brain-like canopy unwrapped and receded, revealing the high ceiling of the hangar again.
“I see you got the hang of it now.” Yuuko told him as he took the small drill out of Lagann’s panel and climbed out. Leaving it in the hands of the mechanics, he joined Yuuko in returning to the elevator.
“Well, as you said it works on mental command. It’s different from regular TSFs in every possible way except in that. It’s kind of reassuring actually.” He said a bit hesitantly.
“How nice. Our first priority however is to figure out exactly how to get Gurren and Lagann to reunite. I believe only then will we be able to analyze them completely. Until then we can only analyze its basic features, as well as keep on examining Gurren.”
“By the way, Yuuko-sensei, how did you figure out their names?” He asked her. He didn’t get his hopes up for a straight answer though.
“I have my sources.” She said out straight. Yep, no getting your hopes up with her.
Soon enough the two of them entered the elevator back up to the main base, and swiftly returned to Yuuko’s lab.
“Well, now since this morning was so full of results, I’m going back to work, and you should be going back to class.” She told him as soon as they entered her office.
He supposed he should really get back to his squad now. He missed the whole first period of class and he really wasn’t planning on missing anymore. Even though he already knew all of the material and he had Yuuko covering for him every single time, he didn’t like to be absent from class all the time. You can never be too cool for school. As soon as he turned to leave however, Yuuko spoke up again.
“Shirogane, catch this.” She said to him. As soon as he turned around Yuuko threw something at him. Catching in midair with one hand, he examined the object. It was a thin metal string. It was slightly thicker than a guitar string, yet amazingly flexible as well. In his hand it coiled almost like regular sewing string. Takeru looked up at Yuuko, questioning the meaning of it. “Put your drill on that string and put it around your neck.” She said. “I want you to have it on you at all times. Not in your pocket or in your room. On you at all times, am I understood?”
Unable to refute her judgment, he relented. “Yes, ma’am.”
“Good, now get going.”
And so Takeru left for his morning classes.
“Early on, 1st generation TSFs such as the F-4 Phantom were envisioned as mobile tanks, and were sent into battle with heavy armaments and armor plating while operated by retrained former military aviators. The results were…”
Takeru couldn’t really focus on the lesson. After all, he knew this material already. He could say that he knew more than Marimo knew at this point. Heck, he could even tell her about TSFs that aren’t studied in regular training facilities and about TSFs that have yet to be developed. Instead, he found his thoughts drifting back between two subjects. The first was the strange machine Lagann and its other half, Gurren. He could tell from Yuuko’s explanation that there was obviously a whole lot more to those two than what they discovered. In the elevator, Yuuko also explained to him that they managed to get Gurren working with several different Eishi, differentiating it from Lagann in that it’s not restricted like Lagann. But despite working similarly to TSFs, it had no armaments other than those ridiculous black shades on its eyes. Just thinking about it made him mentally sigh. What kind of crazy person would design a weapon, a sword in this case, that looked like sunglasses? It was so inefficient in so many ways it was almost maddening. But Takeru could agree on at least one thing.
It looked pretty damn cool.
The other subject filling his mind wasn’t as happy or scientific. Takeru once more found himself thinking about his red-headed childhood friend Sumika. He found himself thinking about her a lot lately. He admitted already that he missed her dearly, and hoped he could see her again soon. Even if he got to see her and talk to her for a bit in the other world, it wasn’t the same. He wanted her by his side, waking him up every day like he was used to, to walk to school together, to have their little fights here and there, and to eat lunch with her. He didn’t keep count how much time has passed since he arrived in this world, but he was sure it has been a long time.
He sighed again, however this time not mentally. And unfortunately for him, sighing loudly in the middle of class with Marimo in the middle of teaching was rewarded with a whole lot of pushups.
And she heard him alright.
“Cadet Shirogane!” she screamed at him from the board. Suddenly back in focus, Takeru stood up and stood stiff next to his seat. His sudden movement caused the drill around his neck to jump out of his shirt, displaying it to everyone.
“Tell me, what tactics were developed in the era of the 2nd generation TSFs, and give an example of some of the TSFs were created as a result of this development?” she asked him, completely expecting him to fail.
However, this was easy. Too easy. He quickly answered, reciting the answer by heart. “Ma’am, one of the tactics developed was the High-Low Mix, which refers to a strategic measure introduced by the United States to deal with BETA battle tactics by introducing two inherently different TSF types to create a changeable combat plan. On the ‘High’ portion of the scale, this involves the use of ‘heavy’ TSFs, usually referring to units with the capability to operate over long distances for extended periods of time such as the F-14 Tomcat, the F-15 Eagle, and the Su-27 Zhuravlik, alongside ‘Low’ or ‘light’ TSFs during combat, which are usually units with higher maneuverability thanks to their lightweight construction, with the tradeoff being reduced combat range such as the F-16 Fighting Falcon, and the MiG-29 Lastochka.”
Heh, what do you have to say about that Marimo-chan?
However, his impressive answer was met with silence. He noticed that his team members were, like before gawking at him, amazed with his answer. But Marimo’s case was different. She had a shocked expression on her face not because of his answer, but because of the object now nestling on the top of his shirt.
The small drill.
It seemed that at some point during his answer Marimo dropped the chalk she was holding to write on the board, and seemed to focus all her mental capacities at staring at the drill. They remained in that position for quite some time, his squadmates slowly freed themselves from their amazed stupor. But Marimo was still staring at him. In fact, at this point she was openly gawking, trying to take in what exactly she was seeing. It took quite a few callings from Chizuru to finally get to Marimo.
Marimo spoke with stutter. “A-a-ah, yes that is correct Shirogane.” The stutter in her voice was abnormal, that was for certain. He had never seen Marimo so shocked before, not in this timeline at least. He never knew she could even make such expressions. He saw these kinds of faces on Marimo only in the other world, where she was a bit more fickle and feeble. Seeing it on this Marimo was far too unusual. Does the drill bother her that much? “Ahem,” she recomposed herself, clearing her throat. “You are correct Shirogane. It seems you do pay attention in class. However, dozing off in the middle of my lesson is unforgivable. You just got yourself 200 pushups.” She commanded. He agreed to her command willingly, and sat back down.
Sometime later, the bell rang for lunchtime. The lesson wasn’t interesting like he had expected since he already knew the material, but he paid attention nonetheless in order not to incur Marimo’s wrath again. As his squadmates began to tidy up their tables, Marimo called out to him. “Shirogane, stay here.”
He didn’t really understand what she wanted. As his squadmates bid him goodbye for now, they exited the classroom and headed for the cafeteria, all the while trying to guess what Marimo was going to do to him this time. As soon as the squad’s footsteps could no longer be heard in the hallway, Marimo spoke up firmly, approaching him.
“Where did you get it?”
Takeru could only look at her in confusion.
“I said, where did you get it?” She asked again, getting so close to him he could see his own reflection in her eyes. He was a bit taller than she was, so he was forced to turn his head down in order to look her straight in the eyes.
“I will not ask you again Shirogane. Where did you get it?” She repeated, anger seething into her voice. Takeru was taken aback by the increasing tone of her voice. He had never seen Marimo this angry before in his life.
“Ma’am, I really don’t know what you are talking about.” He replied, still confused.
Apparently sick of his feigning ignorance, Marimo resorted to more forceful means. She grabbed his collar and yanked him down to her height, repeating her question in an angry shout.
“DON’T PLAY DUMB WITH ME SHIROGANE! I ORDER YOU AS YOUR COMMANDING OFFICER TO TELL ME WHERE DID YOU GET THIS DRILL!”
Her loud voice caused his ears to ring. He had never heard Marimo shouting so loudly and so frantically about something, nor did she ever become so forceful or violent with any of her students. For Takeru, the Marimo he was seeing right now was more than unnatural. She looked deeply in his eyes, studying him and trying to force the answer out of him. Realizing what she was talking about, he turned his eyes downward to look at the drill hanging around his neck. Looking back in her eyes, Takeru stuttered out a weak response. “Uhhh, Ma’am, I…Um…that is…” He didn’t really know how to cause her to back down. All he could do was hope that she would let go off him soon.
Marimo was no fool however. Every single time Shirogane Takeru refused to answer one of her questions, was because it was confidential. The only time Takeru was ever exposed to confidential information was when he was dealing with a certain mad scientist: Kouzuki Yuuko.
Having found the answer to her question on her own, she released his collar and caused him to stumble backwards a bit. Trying to figure out what the presence of the drill on Takeru’s neck meant, Marimo grit her teeth. She never thought that Yuuko would give him something so insanely important. Something that had shaped her life a long time ago. Something that represented all she had lost. She calmed herself down, not completely satisfied but understanding. “I apologize for my sudden outburst Shirogane,” her voice commanding and stoic. She was apologized in a more military manner rather than a personal one, not bothering with any sort of bowing. “I was a bit surprised when I had seen it but now I understand where you could have obtained it. Please go to the cafeteria and inform the rest that the next class will be starting a little later than scheduled. This however does not mean you have the right to laze around. Study while you wait for me to return. Understood?”
Recomposing himself from the earlier scene, he stood stiffly and saluted. “Ah, uh, yes Ma’am.”
“Good,” she said, her voice calm “Off you go.”
Obeying her command, Takeru headed to the door of the class. Giving one last look to the serious Marimo, he opened the door and headed out, closing it behind him, leaving the conflicted Marimo alone in the classroom.
“So what did Instructor Jingujii want from you Takeru?” Meiya asked him as she chewed on some lovely synthetic salmon. “I’m…not quite sure,” he answered as he took a bite of the salmon himself. It was really good as he had expected. Kyouzuka really know how to manipulate this synthetic food to create a dish that come close to the original. Salmon were one of the many species on Earth that were brought to near extinction with the invasion of the BETA. They were one of many others, as species such as tuna and flounder had already been completely eradicated. Earth’s biological diversity was being reduced by the minute. It was one of the reasons humanity wanted to end the war with the BETA so quickly. Even if humanity was to successfully eliminate the BETA on Earth, actually living normally would be incredibly difficult. Food was already scarce and agriculture become more arduous as more and more farmland was ravaged by war. Humanity would have to live for decades on synthetic food until they would somehow be able to revitalize the land and return prosperity and growth to the world.
“Does it have anything to do with that necklace of yours?” Chizuru interjected, finding interest in the conversation.
“Yeah Takeru, we never saw you with this necklace before. It’s kinda weird too. A necklace shaped like a drill? That’s something special for sure!” Added Mikoto enthusiastically. The rest of the squad voiced their agreement with a simple nod, making Takeru feel a bit cornered as he sweat dropped. Even if Yuuko didn’t voice it, he knew for a fact that revealing anything about Gurren and Lagann was tantamount to suicide. Confidential information is to never be disclosed until she ordered it to be disclosed.
“It’s nothing special, really.” He said innocently, lying through his teeth. “I guess someone she knew had something similar? No idea. Hahaha…”
“Takeru, if you can’t tell us then just say so.” Meiya said, noticing his blatant lie. She was sometimes too sharp. If he wasn’t careful she could make him spill out his secrets, as much as he shouldn’t. The knowledge of him being from another world is one of the most guarded secrets in the world right now; with the only people in on it are Yuuko, Kasumi, and Takeru himself. Since Yuuko is the one who told him to shut his mouth up about that particular piece of information, she would never say anything, and Kasumi was too loyal, smart, and quiet to ever reveal something about him. In the end, he was his own worst enemy in that regard. A bit of mind games in the hands of an expert and he could accidentally spill the beans.
“Sorry.” He apologized, confirming the squad’s suspicion that it has something to do with his special mission with Yuuko.
“It’s fine Takeru-san! It was a bit strange to hear the Instructor scream so loudly too!” Miki added, causing Takeru to give her a confused look. “We heard her shouts from pretty far away,” interjected the class rep, making Takeru switch his stare to her. “Don’t give me that look, it’s not like we intended to eavesdrop on your conversation. She seemed pretty angry from her tone of voice I should say. I guess it struck an emotional chord in her heart or something.” She shrugged, relieving her from any sort of retort from Takeru.
“Whatever it is,” Meiya added as she munched on another piece of salmon. “It is not our place to pry. She is our instructor and a fellow human being. It would not do to pry into her private life. It is our code of conduct if you recall.” Agreeing with Meiya’s statement, the group continued to eat.
They finished their meals fairly quickly, and went to clear out their trays when Takeru suddenly remembered what Marimo had told him. “You guys, Marimo-ch…I mean Instructor Jinguuji ordered that we return to class and wait for her. She said she’ll be late.” He informed his sqaudmates. Feeling skeptical, Chizuru spoke up “That’s strange, the instructor is never late to the classes. I wonder what could be wrong.”
Feeling curious as well, Takeru said softly “Yeah me too...”
Soon enough they began their walk back to the classroom. On the way, Takeru decided to study the drill around his neck, causing him to fall a bit behind the rest. He looked at it curiously, studying its features. It’s really strange, he thought. He believed that Lagann was probably a lucky find in the beginning, but when Yuuko had claimed that she was looking for it, he realized that it probably wasn’t as coincidental as he thought. Strangely yet, Marimo acting like she did in the class because of it was nothing less than very unusual. This drill never appeared in any of his other timeline, so what could its appearance in this one signify? Will it spell doom or salvation for mankind? Or will it turn out to be a total fluke?
Returning the drill to under his shirt, he upped his pace in order to catch up with his classmates. As Ayamine was about to open the door however, the base alarm flared up suddenly and loudly. The group looked incredulously at each other as an announcement was made in tandem with the blaring alarm “Moving to DEFCON 2. All combat squadrons stand by in full gear. Repeat, moving to DEFCON 2. All combat squadrons…” The announcer repeated this phrase several times to catch the soldiers’ attention.
Out of the entire group, Takeru was the most confused. This event never occurred in the other timeline. Could this possibly mean…Takeru recalled the General’s announcement of the activation of Alternative V on Christmas day. Could this possibly mean that Alternative V is starting sooner than before? Did Yuuko already fail? Takeru found himself starting to panic. His goal was to prevent the activation of Alternative V from the start. Having it begin so early would mean all of his progress up until now would be for naught!
“Takeru!” Meiya shouted to him as the rest of the squad ran to gather their equipment “Come on! We need to get ourselves ready!”
“I need to go see Yuuko-sensei! Sorry!” he shouted back as he started running in the opposite direction. Turning around the corner, he lost sight of Meiya. Running as fast as his legs could take him, Takeru sprinted to Yuuko’s office.
Earlier that day…
The feelings that Marimo was feeling at that moment could not be easily described. Seeing Shirogane leave the classroom, she bit on her the fingernail on her thumb. She could not understand how something so precious could come into his hands so easily. She knew that Yuuko had given it to him, but she didn’t know why. The drill was too significant to just be handed to one of the soldiers, no matter how special they are supposed to be. Determined to get answers, Marimo headed to the command center. She didn’t have the clearance to access Yuuko’s lab, so she must first speak to her direct assistant, 1st Lieutenant Piatif, in order to reach her.
Arriving at the command center, Marimo spotted the lieutenant at one of the computers, typing down whatever it was she was typing. Marimo didn’t care. Approaching her, Marimo spoke up “1st Lieutenant Piatif.”
Noticing her, Piatif removed the headphones from her head and stood up to face her, saluting her back. “I wish to speak to Professor Kouzuki’s in her lab right now.” She said. Taking note of the seriousness of her tone, Piatif responded “Sergeant Jinguuji, I require you tell me the purpose of your visit.”
Squinting her eyes as her impatience rose, Marimo responded. “It’s about you-know-what.”
Piatif’s eyes widened a bit at her response. Earlier that day, Yuuko had instructed the lieutenant to tell her if Jinguuji Marimo requested to see her. Piatif was more often than not surpised at the professor’s foresight. She must have caused something that would make Marimo want to see her as soon as possible.
“I understand, please wait a moment as I infor-“ Piatif began to say as the door to the command center suddenly opened, and looked in shock when she saw who entered.
Passing the doorway, Undersecretary Tamase, General Paul Radhabinod, and Executive Commander Kouzuki Yuuko entered the command center.
“It seems our situation is most complicated.” Said the undersecretary, concern in his voice.
“We will discuss this as soon as we gather more information.” Answered the General. Yuuko stood by the two men, listening to their conversation. Not letting the opportunity slip by her, Marimo approached her with great courage. “Professor Kouzuki, if I may have a word with you.”
Yuuko looked directly at her younger colleague and smiled, knowing what the sergeant wanted from her. “Gentlemen, if you may excuse me, I will brief the sergeant on the situation so she may brief her squad later on.” She said, making up an excuse.
“I see, be sure not to take too long.” The general answered, buying it.
Yuuko looked back at Marimo and led her through the doorway. She wanted absolute secrecy when they discussed the matter at hand. Nobody can hear what they would be talking about.
Arriving at an empty classroom not far from the command center, Yuuko sat at one of the student’s desks in order to make herself comfortable. Putting her left leg on her right, she feigned ignorance. “So what could you possibly want from me at this time, Instructor Jinguuji?”
Marimo’s patience depleted instantly at her tone. Slamming her hands on the desk, she shouted at her. “Don’t play dumb! You know exactly what I’m talking about!” Her rage noticed, Yuuko continued to listen. “Why does Shirogane have the Core Drill?! It’s not something you can just give out to anyone! Tell me right now!”
Looking at her seriously, Yuuko replied calmly. “You are well aware of our agreement, are you not?” Marimo deflated slightly at her response, but continued.
“I am aware! But even so-“
“But even so,” Yuuko interrupted her. “Our agreement clearly stated that for me to provide you and your colleagues with a functional life and job, you will relinquish your holdings on Gurren and the Core Drill. Since the two of them no longer belong to you, I am free to do as I wish with them.”
Gritting her teeth, Marimo persevered. “But even so, handing the Core Drill over to someone unrelated is—“
“There is a reason behind this course of action.” Yuuko interrupted her again, looking her dead in the eye.
“And what reason could that be?” Marimo replied angrily, staring back.
Considering her next sentence, Yuuko smiled again. She decided to be direct. “Lagann has been found.”
The surprise on Marimo’s face was something Yuuko could describe as to be totally worth all effort. Instantly losing all color in her face, Marimo could only stutter out a response. “Wha-what? How? Where?”
Grinning now that she had grasped the initiative, Yuuko continued. “In the same place where we found you. How we missed it so easily is beyond me, but it was found buried underneath a scrap TSF in the ruins of old Hiiragi Town. And the one who found it…Was Shirogane Takeru himself.”
Marimo could barely believe what she was hearing. It was right under their noses all this time, and then she tells her that none other than the ‘special’ Shirogane Takeru himself found it? It was preposterous!
“But that is not all.” Yuuko continued. “It comes as a surprise to me as well, but Shirogane has created a response from Lagann.” Yuuko then described the events of that day when Shirogane led her to Lagann’s location. She explained to Marimo how she had taken the core drill with her on a mere whim, and how that whim paid off when Takeru proceeded to get a reaction from Lagann and successfully activated it.
Marimo’s surprise was almost audible at that point. “But that is impossible!” She said loudly, slamming her hands on the desk again. “The only one who can activate Lagann is-“
“Yet no matter how impossible it seems, it is the truth. Shirogane Takeru has succeeded where we have failed for the last three years. All of our work is nothing in the face of this development, yet this development could not come at a better time.” Yuuko interrupted her again. Curious as to what she was referring to, Marimo listened. “I went through the records time and time again. What is described in those records can only be described as the work of god. But that work was undone when Gurren and Lagann were separated. What we have here is a chance, a chance that humanity might never get again. My goal right now is to remake the machine described in those records. It could very well hold the key to humanity’s victory against the BETA.”
The seriousness of Yuuko’s resolve could be felt in what she was saying. Now that the two pieces are together, they can be used in order to ensure humanity’s future. “But we have come across a problem,” Yuuko continued. “Despite this development, we were unable, even with Shirogane’s help, to gain any results. Something seems to be lacking in a department I am not familiar with. Therefore, I am going to experiment with them in the most appropriate field for their purpose.”
Marimo’s eyes widened at her declaration. “You can’t possible mean…”
“You will hear all about it in the briefing.” Yuuko stood up from her chair, stretching lightly. “I will overlook this outburst of yours. In the meantime, come with me. There is much for us to discuss.”
Leading Marimo out, the two women left the classroom and headed back to the command center.
Takeru was growing more and more impatient with each passing second. After the alarm started, he sprinted as fast as possible towards Yuuko’s lab, only to find that she wasn’t there, nor was Kasumi. It then dawned on him that she might be in the command center, so he turned around and sprinted there as well. He did find her there fortunately, although not alone. She was in the company of the undersecretary and the base general, as well as being accompanied by Marimo for some reason he did not know. After they had finished their discussion about the situation, he was sent ahead back to the classroom and was instructed to tell the others to wait patiently for their briefing.
Hearing about dangerous things like a coup d’état did not help calm his nerves at all. He didn’t understand why such an event would occur, diverging so significantly from what he had experienced. Even worse, was the fact the Yoroi Sakon, the enigmatic and bubbly father of his friend Mikoto showed up as well, bearing some very dangerous words, saying that it is not a coincidence that a group such as the 207th Squadron was formed. Only when he made such a fact so obvious did Takeru start thinking about how strange their group really is. Leaving without saying another word, Sakon left the command center.
As Takeru processed through his mind Sakon’s cryptic words, Kouzuki Yuuko walked in through the class doors.
“Salute!” Marimo commanded to her squad. As one, all members raised their hands to salute their superior officer.
“I already told you to quit it with these meaningless formalities, gosh.” Yuuko complained, relieving the saluting members. “Anyway, here is the outline of the situation,” she said, handing Marimo a file filled with reports. “Read through it.”
Taking the file from Yuuko, Marimo quickly scanned over the reports. As she read, she was astounded to discover that the UN Security Council has decided to incorporate American units into the anti-rebel forces. And that they would receive them, right here in Yokohama base. Quickly briefing her cadets of the situation in the capital, Marimo gave the stage to Yuuko, knowing she had more to add.
Yuuko smirked. She had to give it to Marimo for being able to withstand her anger and frustration to such a degree. She just had to see the look on her face once she was finished briefing the cadets on what she had in mind for them.
“Lieutenant, prepare the presentation please.” She asked of her assistant. Acknowledging her order, Piatif began setting up the projector. Yuuko began her briefing in earnest.
“Before we start going anywhere, I will tell you of another objective of this operation. In your command under Sergeant Jinguuji, one of you will pilot an experimental TSF that we have developed here on this base. The purpose of this deployment is to give it a test-run, so to speak.”
By the time Yuuko finished her sentence, Piatif had already finished setting up the projector. With a cue from Yuuko, Piatif started it up. As soon as the squad saw what was on screen, they gasped in shock.
But not nearly as much as Takeru and Marimo.
“Meet the Gurren.” She proclaimed. On screen were schematics, photographs, illustrations, and every detail about the strange machine Takeru saw in the hangar. Descriptions of its size, weight, shape, and armaments we all displayed for the squad to read.
Takeru could not believe what he was seeing. Yuuko was seriously presenting Gurren to the entire squad? And it was going to be used in this operation? Has she finally lost her mind?
“The Gurren is a special TSF that specialized in holding objectives and defensive operations.” She continued. With a cue to Piatif, she moved on to the next slide. “It has armor that has been reinforced several times over to give it protection against everything mankind could dish out, be it bullets, tank shells, and even TSF swords. It has been hypothesized it can hold even if a Fort-class BETA steps directly on it, and theorized that it can withstand a laser-class’s laser for more than 5 minutes.”
The next slide moved in place.
“But that is not what is important here. I can already tell you right now that you might be exposed to combat during this operation. Therefore, one of you will be deployed inside of Gurren for the duration of this operation and using it to defend the objective you are holding. Any questions so far?”
Tamase Miki raised her hand up. “Ma’am, how is this Gurren operated? Is it similar to a regular TSF?”
Liking her question, Yuuko moved on to the next slide, displaying the Gurren’s cockpit and controls. “It is indeed piloted similarly to the TSFs you know, expect for a few key aspects. For one, it has been confirmed that it is not necessary to wear an exo-suit during piloting for the sake of eliminating motion-sickness, since Gurren has been constructed in a way that eliminates the motions that cause nausea and weakness in the first place. Basically, motion-sickness is none-existent while inside the cockpit of Gurren. On the other hand however, when it comes to weapons, we had to sacrifice a few key aspects of traditional TSFs in order to compensate for its toughness. First, it does not have in anyway side arms or compartments for storage. The two arms you can see here are all it has in terms of what it can grasp. Whoever pilots Gurren will have to get used to these changes as quickly as possible.”
At that point Chizuru raised her hand. “Ma’am, then how can it fight without any weapons at all?”
Smiling, Yuuko answered. “The standard rifle will be held in one of its hands and that will be it for long-range combat. On the other hand,” She moved on the next slide, displaying information about Gurren’s strange sunglasses. Takeru could see confused looks from his teammates as they studied the slide. “These glasses function in a way that is similar to the standard TSF blade, but even stronger. It has been doubly reinforced with super carbon and titanium, making it able to cut through even a destroyer-class’ armored front. We decided to shape it like sunglasses in order to make it easier to draw and use. Any further questions?”
Takeru already realized by this time that the information she provided about Gurren was incomplete. She for one did not mention Lagann, and therefore their hypothesized relations. He had to admit that he did not know anything about its more technical components, although he already realized that she made up the part about it being a prototype TSF. He theorized that if Gurren was being deployed, then Lagann might be as well. Is this her attempt at remerging them? Perhaps, but he had no concrete proof at the moment. Yuuko’s manipulations could really drive a man insane sometimes. Takeru then noticed in the corner of his eye Marimo’s glare at him, causing a small shiver to run up his spine.
Seeing that nobody had any further questions about Gurren, Yuuko decided to get right to the point. She didn’t have a lot of time to spend on this briefing since she had to start accommodating the American Army that was soon to arrive on this base. She had to make sure that Gurren’s existence is to remain a secret for as long as possible, even if just for this operation. There was already a lot at stake for her in this operation, but if her hypothesis paid off, then she wouldn’t have to worry about any backdoor attempts at theft since Gurren would be permanently locked out for them.
“So,” she began. “I’ll get right to the point. “She adjusted her coat and folded her arms. “Which brave soul in this squad is willing to put their life on the line to pilot this experiment?”
The squad went quiet at that. Yuuko glanced over the five girls, who were now staring at the floor, concerned and confused, ruling Takeru out. He was needed for something else. A minute passed and not one raised their hand. Feeling irritated, Yuuko tried again. “Well?”
Gathering up her courage, one girl raised her hand high in the air and spoke. “I shall do it.”
Happy that finally someone stepped up, Yuuko spoke again. “Finally someone with some steel in them. Very well, Cadet Mitsurugi Meiya, you will forgo piloting a regular Fubuki and will henceforth pilot the Gurren for the rest of this operation.”
|2015-02-21, 09:39||Link #3|
Join Date: Jan 2015
Kouzuki Yuuko could only sigh in exhaustion as she slumped in her chair in her office. She had to deal with far too much this day, between being briefed about the coup, briefing the cadets, and setting up everything so the Americans can be welcomed to the base. The day being mentally tiring was an understatement at this point, but she knew that she had done all she can in order to make her plan a complete success. Powering on her laptop, she began the usual routine of updating her reports on the events on the day. It was a chore, all these formal documentations of every day on the base that she had to send back to the UN headquarters so they could see and understand their operations. Of course, as the head of the Alternative IV plan, she also had the responsibility of updating any sort of progress she had on the plan and send it back to her superiors as well. In all honesty, she wished that she could cut her relations to them completely. Despite the world’s situation, humans still had the gull to be greedy politicians and seek power for their own personal use. It was the reason she was not surprised of the emergence of a rebellion. As a Japanese citizen, she understood the motivations behind such a coup. But as a scientist aiming for the salvation of the world, she could not be more disappointed. Throwing away their lives fighting other humans was preposterous. Every single Eishi and soldier that fell in battle again humans was one Eishi or soldier less that they had to fight the BETA. With the BETA’s population on Earth already exceeding humanity’s, they didn’t have people to spare at all.
Hearing Sagiri’s speech earlier that day was irritating to say the least. He spoke of putting the country back on its right path. He spoke and revealed the true nature behind the operation to rescue the people of Mt. Tengen, which turned out to be closer to a kidnapping than an evacuation. He spoke of how the government disregarded the wants and rights of the people despite it being an area waiting for a disaster. He spoke of the horrible ways the evacuees were treated, like criminals. And he spoke of how such selfish actions will break the Shogun’s heart, and how he and his colleagues would right the wrong done to the people.
His speech was a beautiful one. It would very easily sway people to his side. People who could not see beyond their own comfort zone and only care about one single country in the midst of all others, despite some countries having ceased to exist as the result of the BETA. For the common Japanese populace, such a man was a godsend, someone who could liberate them from their cruel reality and deliver them to a better future. But such a man could only protect them from other humans. What would he say when in the future, his efforts would all be for nothing as the BETA will sweep through Japan, murdering its people and reducing the once proud empire to a kingdom of rubble.
These were the thoughts that ran in Yuuko’s mind. She, above all others, put the majority above the minority. She knew that in order to defeat the BETA, many people will die; some perhaps even close to her. She had steeled her heart and defiled her own soul in order to make sure humanity will live on. She put everything she had into the success of Alternative IV, deriving herself of sleep and food in order to bring everything together. The godsend that was Shirogane Takeru only helped speed up the process tremendously, even perhaps salvaging the Plan entirely. The equation he had brought back from his won world was the key. With it, she could finally complete the 00 Unit.
Having finished typing her formal report for the UN, Yuuko accessed her top secret files: the records of Gurren. Every time she read these records she could only be more intrigued as to how it worked, where it came from, and what could it mean for humanity. She skimmed through the records again, verifying that she indeed did not make any sort of mistake in her plans. As she read through her files, she noticed in the corner of her eye a very slight movement on the far side of her lab. Not bothering to raise her head or stop typing, she called out calmly “You already know I hate it when you sneak up like that out of nowhere. The next time you do it I will not hesitate to just shoot you.”
Chuckling slightly, the shadowy figure moved towards her, revealing itself as it stepped into the light. “My, my. Perhaps it would not be so bad to die at the hands of a beautiful woman such as yourself, Professor Kouzuki.”
Yuuko gave a slight shrug. “Flattery will get you nowhere.”
She was already used to Yoroi Sakon’s teasing comments. As a master teaser herself, such compliments would never work on her. Hearing him say it a thousand times every time they met only reduced their effectiveness.
Sakon replied playfully. “Now now, I speak only truths after all. In the design of your great plan, I’m sure even a man like myself could have a few uses before he becomes worthless.”
Yuuko stopping typing at his words. Clasping her arms ominously on the table, she spoke up. “Of course. Until the machine in the records is completed I won’t stop for anything.”
For all of his playfulness, Sakon could not help but be worried about what she had in mind. “You are playing a very dangerous game here professor.” He said seriously, dropping his ignorant and whimsical persona.
“I know,” She answered. “But if everything goes according to plan, then I won’t have to worry about a single thing.”
“Hoh,” he said, his tone questioning. “And how is that?”
She knew he already had the answer to his own question. Deciding to humor him, she replied. “The moment Shirogane Takeru completes it, I will be targeted almost instantly. Those damn old geezers won’t just allow a special machine like that to just pass by them without trying to…borrow it from me.”
Removing her hands from the table, she twisted in her chair to the side. “It will be my greatest weapon as well as my greatest defense. And even if that fails, any attempts to steal it will be useless since once they are joined, Gurren and Lagann cannot be separated without the presence of Lagann’s pilot and the Core Drill.”
Chuckling slightly, Sakon complimented her thinking. “You sure have thought this through.”
“Like it’s any surprise for you.” She said, ignoring his innocent tone. “Besides, worst comes to worst I could just say it is a product of Alternative IV and they will drop the case. Only the sharpest of them will even begin suspecting anything else. They have absolutely no idea what they are dealing with.”
“Are you sure you know what you are dealing with as well?” he asked her.
“To tell you the truth, no.” She answered honestly. “After all, none of the data we have was found by us. All of it existed inside of Gurren’s records after all. The only things we have discovered are its original controls. Many of my hypotheses are risky gambles after all.” Smirking, she continued. “But I like gambles. You can never get anything done if you do not take the risk in the first place.”
Sakon sighed in response. “Those records…sure are magnificent. I could never imagine this would be the result of what we found that day. I sure am glad I tagged along with you back then.”
“It’s more like you invited yourself. Still, as much as I hate it, your assistance is critical. Pulling strings in the government has never been more useful to me.”
“To think the great Kouzuki Yuuko would flatter me. I guess miracles really do happen.” He said, putting his hand in his coat pocket.
Yuuko smirked, “Don’t get used to it. There is still much we have to do. Right, now we can only sit and wait for results.”
Seeing the Gurren in the main hangar caused Takeru to gaze at it wondrously. The idea that Yuuko was using this operation as a measure to remerge Gurren and Lagann could not escape his mind. According to what Yuuko told him, they were indeed supposed to be one machine, but he had his doubts. He figured that sending it into combat would deliver results, but it was far too dangerous. She was taking a huge gamble with a move like this, especially when it came to the fact that Meiya would be the one who will be piloting it. How does Yuuko know it’s safe? He could only fear for Meiya at this point. Using a machine that has not been tested on a real battlefield could potentially bring a disaster. They were fighting against other humans, who in the worst case scenario would capture the Gurren and use it against them. There were plenty of people and leaders with personal and political agendas that could bring humanity ruin faster than even the BETA.
But at this point, Takeru could only believe. He had to believe that Yuuko knew what she was doing. She has done incredibly amazing things until now, sending him to his own world even for a few hours is one of them. Yet Takeru always had his doubts.
“It sure is mysterious.” A voice behind him said in wonder.
The one who spoke was Chizuru, who noticed his staring at Gurren. “How can the Vice Commander deploy this TSF without combat data is beyond me, but we always knew she was a bit eccentric.” She giggled.
“I know,” Responded Takeru “She really is…”
Chizuru noticed how Takeru continued to stare at Gurren, not taking his stare off it for a second, his eyes questioning its purpose. “What are you thinking about?” She asked him, leaning to the side to try and catch his attention.
Her question caused him to lower his gaze to the floor. “Will it be alright?” He asked, concern in his voice.
“What do you mean?” She asked him.
He stood in silence for a while, building up his thoughts. “I mean, can we really use these TSFs to…kill people?”
She eyed him with concern. Blinking once, she gazed upon the crimson visage of Gurren as well. “If we are forced to.” She began, deciding to be blunt. “They…killed my father after all. They did not have the mercy to show to their fellow humans, even though we should all be together in this conflict against the BETA. Yet they focus on supposedly ‘weeding out’ the corrupt from the country. It boggles my mind as much as it boggles yours. I don’t like the concept of killing myself, yet if this is what we must do to save humanity, then…”
Takeru could only clench his fists in response. He knew this answer already. Such useless killings and conflicts can only take. They would never gain anything worthwhile from killing their fellow man. It was an ideal that Takeru took upon himself a long time ago, even though he could not remember when. Killing humans was out of the question. But…if they got in the way of humanity’s safety, if they got in the way of the success of Alternative IV, then he perhaps cast his own humanity away.
Before Chizuru could continue speaking, the two heard a loud dragging sound in the hangar below them. Distracted, they could only look over the railing down to see its source.
Takeru could only go wide-eyed at what he saw. Being dragged slowly by cables on the floor of the hangar was Lagann. Several mechanics crowded around it as it approached one of the TSF hangars, stopping right next to one of the Fubuki’s foot. The cables were released and more mechanics crowded to it as they began working. Takeru could only stare in awe, not noticing the person walking behind him.
“Surprised?” the voice said arrogantly. Takeru recognized the voice. It was the voice of the one person who would dare pull this off. Turning around to confirm his suspicion, Takeru stood face to face with Kouzuki Yuuko. He began to feel irritated when he noticed the arrogant grin adorning her face. He figured she knew he would run straight to her when he saw Lagann being brought to the hangar, so she saved herself some time and energy by coming to the hangar herself.
“Yuuko-sensei, what…” He began to ask when she interrupted him. “Cadet Sakaki,” she began, her voice taking on its commanding tone.
“Yes, ma’am?” Chizuru asked her. “Please go find Mitsurugi so I can give her instructions on the use of Gurren.” Yuuko commanded her.
“Ah, yes. Right away ma’am.” Chizuru said, obeying the order. Looking back at Takeru curiously, she left the hangar to find Meiya, leaving Takeru and Yuuko alone on the bridge in the hangar.
“Before you even start talking I’ll explain what you just saw.” Yuuko said, folding her arms below her breasts. “Lagann is going to be deployed along with Gurren,” She began, eliciting a shocked look from Takeru. This woman was just pulling more and more crazy stunts on me without telling me this in advance. “What we are going to do is strap Lagann to your Fubuki. You will be deployed inside the Fubuki on your mission. Make sure that Lagann makes it back in one piece, got it?”
Takeru opened his mouth to say what was on his mind, but he figured that calling her crazy was a redundant move. Opting to instead get to the point, he spoke up. “Why?
Smiling again, Yuuko replied “You already know the answer to that Shirogane.”
Gritting his teeth in irritation, he spoke up bluntly. “This is too dangerous! What if your idea fails? We will lose our lives, we will lose Gurren and Lagann, and we’ll lose any chance of Alternative IV working! Why takes these unnecessary risks?!”
“It’s because they are necessary,” she answered calmly. “Gurren and Lagann could perhaps become humanity’s strongest weapon against the BETA. We have to get to them fuse back together so we can actually use them. For all of Gurren’s toughness and Lagann’s mobility, they would stand no chance against the bigger and more dangerous BETA classes. Listen well, Shirogane. I have accessed Gurren’s records already in the past and let me tell you that it is absolutely necessary you succeed. The power that could be obtained is immeasurable. We have to make use of it against the BETA while we can. I am afraid that if this fails, we will almost certainly face extinction.”
Takeru grit his teeth. For all he wanted to argue, he knew she was right. It is an opportunity that they just cannot pass up. Obtaining such a trump card for humanity will raise their chances of survival by huge numbers. Yet he could not agree completely, because of one simple word she had said.
“You said that immeasurable power could be obtained” he said. Yuuko nodded her head in confirmation, telling him she was listening. “But how can I know it will be used for humanity’s benefit? I have seen myself what happened at the end of the world. The only true conflict humans had was against themselves. How can I know that the power that we obtain from fusing Gurren and Lagann will actually be used for humanity? How can I know it will not cause a meaningless incident like the one we are being deployed to right now?”
Yuuko was quiet at his question. It was a good question after all. At present, Takeru was the only one who can pilot Lagann. Should she lose his cooperation then she loses Lagann as well, and she does not know if there will ever be another human being that will be able to activate it. But even so, she was the one in charge here. She could not allow a high school boy to cause her resolve to waver. She had decided a long time ago to cast away her feelings and adapt a calculating persona in order to be able to focus on Alternative IV. “There are no guarantees, Shirogane.” She answered bluntly. “But you can be certain that I will do whatever it takes to make sure it will protect humanity, from the BETA, and even itself. I take it since you have already met me in the past you can count on my words, am I correct?”
Takeru stared into her eyes, attempting to find malice. Smiling to himself, he let go of his tension. Experiencing a whole lot of political infighting between humans can make anyone a bit suspicious of a person’s motives, but she was right. If there was anyone in the world he could trust wholeheartedly in, it was Kouzuki Yuuko, the genius scientist with the formula to save the world. Seeing him smile, Yuuko put on a warm smile herself.
If anyone else had been watching the two, they would assume they were about to come to blows. Yet, that was not the case. Wordlessly, the two reached an agreement.
They were snapped out of their stupor by a sudden call from the elevator. “Commander Kouzuki!” the voice called out. Hearing the sound of feet tapping quickly on the ground, he turned his head to the source to see Meiya running towards them. Stopping as soon as she was within range, Meiya saluted Yuuko. “Cadet Mitsurugi reporting Ma’am!”
“I said to drop the formalities.” Yuuko said sadly, sighing in mock despair. She was saddened by the fact that nobody seemed to remember her telling them to stop saluting her. She is not military personnel so why do they keep on doing it. “Well then Shirogane, I better get Mitsurugi up to speed.”
“I see,” he replied. “See you later then.”
He watched as Yuuko walked away with Meiya towards the elevator and right to Gurren. Takeru then found his attention caught by his own Fubuki, and he watched as Lagann was forklifted high up, then connected to cables. Lagann was then raised slowly up until it was in height of the TSF’s back, and pinned in place by large metal straps, making it appear like a strange backpack. Takeru chuckled at the sight. It looked completely ridiculous from where he was standing. In fact, the entire situation was absolutely ridiculous from the very beginning. He still didn’t process completely the events of the last few days. From him finding Lagann and to Yuuko showing him Gurren to the announcement of the coup d’état. All of a sudden the realization dawned on him that it was a truly amazing situation, even if it is a sad one. He dearly wished that Yuuko’s plan would truly bear fruit.
Finding himself alone on the bridge in the hangar, Takeru decided to head outside. It took him some time to navigate the many corridors and hallways of the base, but eventually he arrived at the main courtyard at of the base. As soon as he stepped outside, his jaw dropped. Stationed around the base were TSFs, Type F-4 Phantoms and F-15 Eagles to be exact, probably from the American Army. Takeru took the scene in awe as he looked around, studying the various TSFs stationed around the base. In the middle of the courtyard, sticking out like a sore thumb were four Type-00 Takemikazuchi, one a blood red color and 3 other pure white. Tracing down the height of the machines, Takeru’s sight fell on their feet, where he spotted four too familiar figures. Meeting his eyes, the figures advanced towards him.
“Shirogane Takeru.” Said the leader of the figures, disdain in her voice.
“Tsukuyomi…” Takeru answered softly. He could not forget his first meeting with Tsukuyomi in this world. In his own, she was the main caretaker of Meiya, and as a result was part of the group that always hung around his house, taking care of the cooking and the cleaning of his house and the huge mansion Meiya built in his neighborhood. She was a stern, yet warm person that had always acted in Meiya’s best interests and always made sure everyone was welcome. Yet in this world she was the exact opposite in her personality. Here she was stern and stiff, being a member of the Japanese Royal Guard, and walked with a certain military graced that made people wary of her immediately. While still acting in Meiya’s best interests, she was far from warm. In fact, their first meeting ended with much hostility and her calling Takeru a “dead man”. Even in the last timeline he didn’t ever figure out what she meant by that. Accompanying her were her three direct subordinates: Ebisu Minagi, Tomoe Yukino, and Kamiyo Tastumi. In his world, the three were total idiots, nicknamed as such, and would always cause mayhem and trouble whenever Tsukuyomi wasn’t looking. They were silly, yet fun to be around when one feels down. Yet like Tsukuyomi, in this world they were a complete flip. They are now dignified, competent, and no-nonsense women of great power, by far exceeding his own. The four of them being stationed here was a complete surprise to him. Why would the Imperial Guard send troops to Yokohama base when they could send more backup to suppress the coup? The mere thought angered him greatly. It was the reason why humanity was losing to the BETA. Wasting their time in pointless conflict instead of seeing the greater picture is only putting victory further away from their grasp.
“You have guts showing your face here, Shirogane Takeru.” Tsukuyomi said sternly. The four Royal Guard members were dressed in their exo-suits, their colors matching their TSFs. It seems they arrived not long ago.
Sensing the hostility in her voice, Takeru gulped once. “What do you mean by that?” He asked her.
“I have heard of the situation Meiya-sama has been placed in. Being forced to pilot an experimental TSF with no guarantee of success. Such occurrences could only be caused by one such as you.” She answered back aggressively. Takeru’s eyes widened at what she said. How did she already discover Meiya is piloting Gurren? That is not possible. It is confidential information of the highest order. Could the Imperial Army have spies inside of the base?
“Give me one good reason not to execute you on the spot.” She finished. Takeru could feel the killer instinct rising from her hateful eyes. However, he did not falter. Standing his ground, he stared back into her eyes. For outsiders, it would seem like they would soon come to blows.
“That is far enough.”
Takeru and Tsukuyomi were pulled out of their stupor by the commanding voice. Turning around, he saw Meiya approaching them quickly.
“Meiya-sama!” Tsukuyomi called out to her. As Meiya joined them, Tsukuyomi pleaded to her. “Meiya-sama, you must withdraw from the mission! There is no reason for you to pilot an untested TSF! It is far too dangerous!”
Folding her arms, Meiya answered strongly. “Tsukuyomi, the decision to pilot it was mine and mine alone. I volunteered for this role by own will. As for that matter, I demand you tell me why you are here. Why are you not protecting the Shogun?”
“Guarding Meiya-sama is…A task the Shogun has bestowed upon us herself.”
“Do not speak such nonsense!” Meiya raised her voice. “You know of the danger the Shogun is in!"
Answering sadly, Tsukuyomi did not relent. “And that is precisely why…I cannot leave your side Meiya-sama. Your protection has been entrusted to me by the Shogun herself. I cannot allow you to throw away your life for such foolishness.” Gritting her teeth, she continued. “Even if you order me to, I cannot leave your side. I must eliminate all threats to your person, regardless of the source.”
“And because of that you have the audacity to threaten my squad mate? Such an act is too low for one of your stature.”
Tsukuyomi tensed. “I would have looked the other way if you had been piloting a regular TSF, but to use an untested prototype in such a delicate assignment is nothing short of suicide!”
Meiya looked down on the ground sadly. “Do you really…have such little trust in me?”
Her words struck a chord in Tsukuyomi and her attendants. Finding herself at a loss for words, Tsukuyomi attempted to correct her when Tomoe began speaking. “Meiya-sama, that is not the case at all! Tsukuyomi-sama is concerned for the wellbeing of the Shogun as much as you are!”
“Tomoe, stand down!” Tsukuyomi commanded.
“She is right!” Kamiyo interrupted. “We are all torn apart by this situation! Please Meiya-sama, try and understand how Tsukuyomi-sama feels!”
“We cannot abandon our role!” Ebisu added. “We were named your attendants by her Highness!”
“That’s enough.” Meiya interrupted them, shutting the three up. Looking sadly at Tsukuyomi, she continued. “I apologize, Tsukuyomi. I do not know what came over me.”
“However,” Meiya said sternly. “Regardless of how you feel, if the task to protect me was given to you by the Shogun, then I likewise cannot go against my orders. I volunteered for this role knowing full well the dangers involved. I request that you trust my judgment.”
Tsukuyomi thought in silence. The look in Meiya’s eyes showed her conviction. As much as she wanted to, Tsukuyomi knew that trying to convince her anymore would be a futile attempt. The pregnant silence created an uneasy atmosphere around the two women. Breaking the silence, Takeru asked. “First Lieutenant, is her Highness safe?”
The abrupt question caused Tsukuyomi to widen her eyes. Looking at Meiya, she found her staring into her eyes, pleading for a response. Blinking once to calm herself, Tsukuyomi answered. “Yes, she is safe. You have nothing to worry about. The 2nd Battalion, the elite of the elite, is guarding her as we speak.”
A wave of relief swept over Meiya. Hearing that the Shogun is safe lifted her spirits in these harsh times of conflict.
“I see, that is good.” Meiya said happily. “I thank you Tsukuyomi for giving me these news. Come Takeru, we must be ready for the briefing.”
Takeru watched as Meiya walked away back inside the base. He wondered why Meiya is so concerned for the Shogun. What sort of relationship does she have with her if she herself tasked Tsukuyomi to guard Meiya?
“Shirogane Takeru.” Tsukuyomi said to his back, causing him to turn back to face her. “I will apologize for my earlier threats. It was not my place to do so.”
A bit confused at her sudden sincerity, he began to speak. “No, it’s fine, you were just worried for Meiya and I get it.”
“Even so, do not forget my words. I do not trust your words at all at this time. Should Meiya-sama fall to any danger; I will be looking for you for answers.”
Takeru knew what she meant by those words. “Let us go. We shall meet again, Shirogane Takeru.” Signaling to her companions, the four Honor Guards left the courtyard.
Several hours passed since then. The members of Squad 207 gathered in their classroom as Marimo briefed them on the situation.
“As you can see, our squad is tasked with rearguard duties. Our role is to defend Tougashima Fortress. The area of operation will be in the area of Hakone.”
The briefing was one huge mess, Takeru thought. Marimo informed them how the Japanese government had accepted help from the UN and American armies in order to counter the rebel’s forces. Takeru knew it was the work of Tamase’s father. He had to give it to him for granting them this help. He hoped that it would bring a swift end to this meaningless conflict, regardless of the price of trampling on Japanese pride. In this screwed-up world, such pride could only bring further disaster on humanity.
While the rest of the squad was surprised by the sudden deployment, Takeru was not. After his talk with Yuuko, he knew the true objective of the operation: to merge Gurren and Lagann. If that is the objective, then it he can assume that they will meet the enemy there. He thought about telling the squad, but he realized that if he did, their deployment would most likely be called off and Yuuko’s goal would be unfulfilled. She knew it was the best chance they had to accomplish it, so Takeru decided to stay quiet.
“Also, the Imperial Honor Guard’s 19th Independent Guard Unit will be accompanying you on this mission.”
Takeru could hear the small gasp from Meiya. That unit was Tsukuyomi unit, meaning that she will be joining them. Although Takeru bore no ill will towards Tsukuyomi, he still felt uneasy. Her being with them would mean she would keep a close eye on Meiya and himself. Still, Tsukuyomi was skilled, so her help would only make any possible confrontation way easier on the cadets themselves, not including the reinforcements from the American Army that they will receive, according to Marimo.
And so Marimo continued her briefing, explaining to them the route they will take to their objective. Their routes involved taking a major highway, resupplying along its line as they continue their advance. She continued explaining they will split into two separate fire teams with herself as the leader. Takeru was reassured by this fact. Having a commander with experience will alleviate some of their own uneasiness.
“The teams are as follows: Sakaki leading Alpha team with Ayamine and Yoroi, while Mitsurugi will lead Bravo team with Shirogane and Tamase. Since this is the first field test of the Gurren, extra precaution is to be taken for its protection. While I have faith in its durability, we cannot take any chances. If the need arises, I will instruct you to take a circle formation around it. All of you finish tweaking your armaments into the next half hour and meet me in the hangar. Dismissed!”
Saluting their superior officer, the squad turned to leave towards the hangar. As Takeru turned to leave himself, Marimo began speaking. “Mitsurugi, Shirogane, if I may have a word with you two.”
Looking at each other in confusion, Meiya and Takeru turned to face Marimo, who walked towards them. She looked at them sadly, concern in her eyes, and spoke. “You two…Be careful. I do not know what we will encounter in this mission, but please watch yourselves. For your own sakes.”
Takeru and Meiya looked at each other again for a second, and smiled. Turning back to her, they saluted her “Yes Ma’am! We won’t make you worry!”
Smiling back, Marimo relieved them and watched as they scurried to the hangar. Now alone in the classroom, she said softly to herself. “And mine…”
The squad moved forward in the ruins of Hakone. They had deployed a few hours before and had gotten through the highway without and problems. Throughout the walk, Takeru stole a few glanced at Meiya, who was inside the crimson visage of Gurren. It was strange, he thought. Meiya took the opportunity to adjust herself to Gurren’s controls, commenting about some of its surprising aspects. From what she had said, Gurren also had anti-movement sickness features, which Takeru did not find very surprising. If Gurren and Lagann were previously one machine, then it’s obvious that they would share some key features. Meiya complimented the reaction speed of the controls as well as its bulk, but found its lack of side arms and overall rigidness to be bothersome.
Takeru knew Yuuko as monitoring them from the base. She had said so herself before they had deployed after all. Constantly checking on their life signs as well as control logs, she cited that she wanted as much data about their operation as possible. For now, he figured she was monitoring primarily the Gurren, as Lagann, still strapped to his own Fubuki, and was currently inactive. Fumbling with the drill around his neck, Takeru felt a strange connection. It was as if he could feel the very slight humming of Lagann, as if it was waiting for his orders. It was such a strange feeling, yet a very pleasant one. He felt as if he was being protected, as if it cared for his wellbeing. He would have to ask Yuuko about this when they returned to the base.
The group continued forward in their formation towards the fortress. Marimo opened a channel and explained that no enemies have been sighted in the area. As no changes in the plan took place, could continue at their leisure to their destination. Still, Takeru felt uneasy. Other than Meiya mechanically commenting on Gurren, no one else said anything. He figured that the possibility of dying frightened them as much as it did him. While they all had the resolve to do what’s necessary, it was still an unfamiliar feeling to them.
It bothered Takeru more than it should have. While thinking about the other timeline, he found his memory to be fragmented. He recalled many memories from that time, but one simple, yet extremely important memory was missing: Any sort of confrontation with the BETA. It bothered him that he could not recall fighting the BETA since he could recall fighting humans. He knew the tension of battle and the uneasy feeling that accompanied it, which was why he was fairly calm in this situation, yet could not understand the feeling of fighting BETA. It felt like something he had never experienced, even though he was 100% sure it should have been.
As they passed through Hakone, Takeru felt some fond memories coming up to his consciousness. He remembered Hakone very clearly. It was the place where they all went as a group back in his home world, where they had fun like never before and had drunken misadventures. He missed that warm feeling. He missed seeing his friends with smiles on their faces.
As he was going down memory lane, Marimo suddenly came up in the comm, arresting his attention. “This is 00 to all units. Fighting has broken out in the capital. It is unconfirmed, but it seems a foot soldier opened fired on the Honor Guard in the palace.”
Takeru felt his pulse rise. “Captain Sagiri attempted to call for a ceasefire, but could not get the situation under control. This situation however does not change our initial plans. We will separate into our designated teams and continue the mission. 00 out.”
“01, copy that.” “02, copy that.”
The group continued to walk in silence through the mountain. Takeru thought about trying to lift their spirits, but he realized it wasn’t a good idea. He wasn’t the only one feeling the tension, so trying to lift everyone’s spirits could only backfire on him and cause Marimo to yell at him.
Eventually, they reached the fortress, creating a circle formation in order to guard from enemies and take a rest. Pointing their nozzles outside of the circle, they waited patiently and silently. Suddenly, Takeru noticed snow began to fall around them, painting the area with an eerie yet calming atmosphere. He watched the snow fall, mentally chuckling at the irony of its beauty. Choosing to arrive at such a moment? What bad timing. It was beautiful no doubt, yet saddening as well. Takeru knew that people were fighting in the capital, yet they could not hear the sound of gunshots nor see flashing nozzles. They could only see this beautiful snowfall.
Hearing a beeping in his right ear, Takeru watched as Meiya’s face filled his screen, taking note of the unauthorized use of an encrypted channel. It probably meant she wanted to talk only to him. It didn’t surprise him, seeing as in the previous timeline, when they had been stuck in Mt. Tengen Meiya did this as well. It seems like she has a knack for breaking regulations.
“Takeru,” she said softly over the comm. “I wish to speak with you.”
Noticing the small hesitation in her voice, Takeru touched a different subject. “Hey Meiya, how are you doing in there?”
Surprised by his changing of the subject, she decided to indulge him a bit. “I’m fine. It’s still a bit strange to pilot, but I think I got the most of it for now. It’s quite a piece of work.”
Takeru smiled. He figured smiling would make it easier for her to talk about whatever it is she wanted to talk about.
“Takeru, I have a question.” She said after a small silence. When she noticed he didn’t speak, she allowed herself to continue. “What do you think of what the rebels are thinking?”
Her question took Takeru by surprise. He didn’t think she would ask him about that. If she wanted to, she would bring it up while they were speaking with Tsukuyomi, so why bring it up now? Is it because of their now only the two of them could hear each other’s words?
Thinking for a bit, Takeru came up with an answer for her. “I…” he began. “I think this entire situation is a waste of time.” His response caused Meiya’s eyes to widen, apparently believing he would say something else. “What I mean by that is…I think we should be focusing our efforts not on fighting each other, but on fighting the BETA. Every Eishi, every pilot, every soldier we lose fighting each other is one less we have for fighting the BETA. If we can’t even get along amongst ourselves, how can we ever unite to beat the BETA?”
It took Meiya a moment to process his answer. Coming up with a response, she asked him. “I see…But can you truly understand how they feel?”
“I can.” He answered bluntly. “But that doesn’t mean I agree with them. I used to not understand this way of thinking, but something happened that made me understand them better.” He recalled Meiya’s words from the previous timeline. Yet at the same time he recalled humanity’s tragic end. The activation of Alternative V, the bombing of Earth, the meaningless conflicts between humans trying to obtain control of what’s left in the midst of the war with the BETA. Such outcomes can only come to pass if humans do not band together.
“Then, Takeru. For what cause are you here?” she asked.
To change the future of course. To change the fate of humanity. To make it so they could survive to see tomorrow. But he couldn’t tell her that. She wouldn’t understand what he would say. She didn’t know about that fate, nor does she have to. He could only work silently towards that goal.
“Because I do not want to lose to the BETA. I want to ensure humanity’s victory at all costs.”
“I see, so you prioritize humanity’s victory over everything else. Even if our goals are the same, as long as we value different things, we will have different methods.”
“I know that, but right now what is important for humanity and Japan is to beat the BETA. Everything else should come after that.”
“Even if it means losing our humanity?”
Takeru found himself speechless at her question. Obviously that was not what he meant, but for her to take it this far was surprising. Ensuring humanity’s victory at all costs…Could it possibly lead to such an outcome?
“Even if humanity wishes for victory, we have been fighting for a long time. Time is passing on, and we are getting weary. The citizens’ lives are getting worse by day. Malnutrition, forced relocation, substandard housing, obligatory conscription, and men and women alike are sent to battle. Some people believe they can change that with their own strength. They would all give their lives to improve the people’s future. Can you truly say that is not important?”
He could not speak. “If we put these problems on the side, they will continue to get worse. They will get worse and worse until out very humanity will be cast aside. When that happens…who will be left to truly defend us from the BETA?”
Takeru grit his teeth, cursing his lack of retort. Instead, he decided to ask her one question. “And that is something…you’d take upon yourself, right?”
“Yes…it would.” She answered softly. “From the very beginning of our fight with the BETA, Japan has been constantly trampled on by others, becoming dependent on other countries, occupied by their armies. The BETA ravaged our lands, and those lands we taken back by ravaging them even more. Yet despite all that, we have not lost our mettle. That is because of the hearts of the people. The very foundation of our country lies with the Shogun and her family. You could say that the Shogun is Japan herself. Should we ever lose what makes us who we are, how can we call ourselves humans anymore? No, you could say some of that was lost already. The government became corrupt, those in charge seeing the Shogun as a puppet to strengthen their own power, and eating away at our foundations. What the rebels are trying to do…is to save what is left. To save Japan, and its humanity, from utter destruction.”
Takeru did not respond. Those words…were exactly her own feelings. For her, for Mitsurugi Meiya, those words were absolute truths that she would gladly take upon herself. He knew that is she could, she would join the rebels to save Japan. Yet still, he could not understand such words.
“But even so,” He began. “This cannot possibly be what the Shogun wants. This fighting is only putting on a bigger burden on the Japanese and the rest of the world. The UN, the Americans, all countries are vying for control of a post-war world that might not exist. What is the point of keeping our humanity…If we will no longer exist to retain it? I want…to save Japan just as much as you…but saving just Japan is meaningless. Such fighting will not convince anyone you are right. The world must get its shit together if we want to ever have a chance at remaining humans.”
“That’s enough, Takeru.” She interrupted. “I don’t want to hear it anymore. If you say you cannot understand, then do not condemn it. Just stop.”
Obliging her request, Takeru stopped speaking. He realized that there was no point in talking about this anymore. The two of them…could never let go of their ideals. But he had to say one last thing to her.
“But even so Meiya…I will save the world. And I will save Japan.”
“I see…You are strong, Takeru.”
At her words, Meiya shut off the channel. In that very last moment, Takeru saw it. The very small smile that graced her features. Yet her last words bothered him. Calling him strong…Is that really how he should be described? He was not sure.
Seeing as his shift would be in some time, Takeru closed his eyes, and wandered off to sleep.