I do not own Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, or any of the associated characters or universe. They belong to Gainax.
Yoko awakens to find herself in an asylum, unable to differentiate between reality and fantasy. Join as she descends down the rabbit hole, trying to make sense of her situation, and find out who she really is. Rated PG-13 for violence and some horror, to say nothing of a great deal of fanservice. But then again, it's Yoko, what did you expect?
Yoko opened her eyes.
An unfamiliar ceiling greeted her.
Blinking, she slowly sat up, noting as she did she was lying on a bed of pristine white. In fact, everything about the room seemed to share the same lack of color, from the walls to the bed to the door. The ceiling was bare, only the light from the far window provided an illumination. Sitting up further, Yoko saw the window was barred from the outside. Similarly, the window built into the door had mesh wires. It must have been locked. The only real features to be found were a sink and mirror against the far wall. Curious, Yoko padded over to it, trying not to wince at just how cold the linoleum floor felt against her bare feet.
Her reflection greeted her in the mirror, the same beautiful bombshell who always turned at least a dozen heads just by entering a room. But she looked tired, worn out, if not downright exhausted. Not quite bags, but there was definitely a darkening under her golden eyes, and her once luxurious red mane of hair was frazzled and full of split ends. Idly Yoko lifted up her arms and turned her body, arching her back and examining herself from other angles, pleased to find she had kept her remarkable figure at least. Strong arms, ample bust, tight tummy, and curvy hips all exactly as they should be, making her both beautiful and dangerous. It was enough to bring a small smile back to her weary face.
But the mirror, while answering some questions, failed to answer the one most pressing on her mind.
Why was she here? And for that matter, where was here?
There came a knock on the door, sudden and loud as a gunshot, and she almost jumped in surprise.
"Littner, you in there?" came a harsh voice from outside.
"Uhm... yes?" she hesitantly replied.
The door shuddered as the handle twisted, and the distinct sound of a key unlocking it caught Yoko's ear. Unsure what to make of this, unsure of what to do, Yoko froze like a deer caught in the headlights of a car as the door swung open and a woman stepped into the frame. "Come on then, doc heard you were awake. Said he wanted to see you."
It was a woman not much older than Yoko, though she seemed to have prematurely aged, with lines around her eyes from sleepless nights and a very sour expression. Her right eye was an angry shade of red, and her left was covered by a medical patch that bore a red cross. Her long blue hair seemed to reach down to her waist before it was caught up in a ribbon almost as an afterthought. She wore a tight white medical scrub and some dark red pants, both of which served to showcase that she still had the body of a twenty year old model, busty and curved in all the right places.
She looked familiar somehow, but Yoko couldn't place her features. But whoever she was, she looked mean.
"Let's get going, Littner," her voice snapped Yoko back to reality, and hesitantly, the redhead followed her out into the hallway. The floor was even cooler here, making her wish she had something to wear on her feet, but the nurse evidently didn't feel she deserved such niceties as she all but marched her along down the hallway.
"Where're we going?" Yoko asked hesitantly.
"To see the doc, now get a move on, I ain't long left on shift and I wanna get this done."
Evidently she didn't care much for small talk. Yoko kept up with her as she led the way down the hall. More doors lined both sides with similar wired windows. Occasionally, she caught sight of an occupant peering through the glass at her. Some looked on with curiosity. Some glared at her through the mesh wire glass, their eyes full of hate and malice. At one of the doors, a man with a wild mop of white hair and a bristly mustache threw himself suddenly against the viewing window, making Yoko recoil fearfully.
"Don't listen to them! You're not crazy! They're the crazy ones!"
The woman in the eye patch slammed her fist none-too-gently against the side of the window, startling the man behind it back. Grimacing, the blue-haired woman then cradled her fist in hand, obviously having hit harder than she intended to.
"Damn crazies," she muttered. "They don't pay me enough for this... God, I need a smoke..."
Yoko shivered, turning her gaze forward, and just kept walking, intent on not provoking the woman further. Just what was this horrible place she'd come to? Why was she here? And where was here?
The winding corridors of the establishment twisted and turned, sometimes in seemingly impossible ways. Yoko was almost positive she'd been down one particular stretch of doors and windows twice. Everything looked almost the same though, so it was difficult to tell. Finally, they stopped outside one such door that looked much nicer looking than the others, with a sign that read 'Head Psychiatrist' in bright bold letters. The window was much larger on the door, and there was no criss-crossing wire here.
The woman escorting her gestured rudely for her to stand still while she knocked. After a moment a voice emerged from within.
"Do come in please," it said.
The door slid open, and Yoko stepped inside with the other woman, taking a look around. It was a pleasant little office, the walls a warm, dull yellow in color that evoked a calming influence, and covered with a number of plaques, awards, diplomas, and paintings that drew her eye every which way, unable to focus on anything particular at a time. A mahogany desk, a pair of padded chairs, and a long couch were the main furniture, all old designs that looked very comfortable to Yoko. The air had a faint smell of smoke, or perhaps it was incense? She couldn't identify it, but it smelled slightly sweet, which rather than make her feel at ease filled her with a faint nausea.
"Come in, come in... don't be shy."
Behind the desk sat an older gentleman, perhaps mid-fifties if Yoko had to guess his age, with hair of ivory and a short beard and thin mustache that covered a kindly, faintly wrinkled face. His eyes almost twinkled behind a pair of horn rim glasses. He gave her a kindly smile as he indicated a seat in front of his desk for her. Unlike the nurse, he was not dressed as a medical practitioner. A white coat hung on a peg in the corner of the room, but for the moment he was wearing a brown jacket and a faded navy-blue sweater, making him seem much more approachable and caring. Likely an image he cultivated on purpose.
"Hello Yoko," he asked in a soft tone. "Do you remember me?"
She tried to wrack her brain, coming up with a few names and faces, but none of them matched his. "I'm sorry, I don't."
"Well, once more then... my full name is Doctor Tali Ran Psi..." he indicated a plaque on his desk which had such written on it. "I'm head of psychology here. We've been having sessions together on and off for... oh, the past three years or so, ever since I started consulting here. Is any of this ringing a bell?"
For a second, it almost did, like there was an actual chiming in her head. A church bell ringing, to be precise, low and throbbing in the back of her head. She pressed two fingers to her temple and the pain faded away almost instantly, but left her mind no clearer than before.
"I... no, I'm sorry... where am I? What is this place?"
Doctor Psi shared a glance with the woman who'd brought Yoko in. She just rolled her eyes. Ignoring his more cynical medical staff, he favored Yoko with a compassionate look. "This is the Tepplin Psychiatric Hospital, in Tepplin City. You were born and raised only a few miles away in a place called Littner... remember?"
"Littner..." the name tugged at her mind, creating again that sense of familiarity.
"Yoko... what's the last thing that you remember?" he asked gently.
She opened her mouth to respond, but only managed an awkward sound before closing it, unsure of what to say. Yoko tried to think back, but she couldn't recall any further than a little while ago when she'd first woken up. It was all just a chaotic mess in her head. She saw flashes of images: fighting, running, kissing, wielding a gun, no wait, a naginata... no, it was definitely a gun. A rifle. But none of them made any sense, and none of them seemed quite real to her. Yoko's eyes widened as she realized she only had one answer: nothing. She remembered absolutely nothing. Her mind seemed like a wholly blank slate, utterly empty.
Perhaps sensing her distress, the good doctor saw fit to fill in some of the gaps.
"Yoko... for the last three and a half years, you've been a resident here, following your... unfortunate breakdown. Everything else: your fights, your enemies, your comrades... it's all been a delusion. You weaved a world of fantasy around you so tightly it was difficult for you to see the world as it really is. Several times, in fact."
"No, that... that can't be..."
"When you were a child, you had something of an... extraordinary imagination, to compensate for the dullness of the life you led. You built a whole world around it. A world of struggle and strife, with you as the heroine. Fighting... beast men and..." he paused a moment to check his notes. "Some sort of... strange aliens. But in time, as with all childish fantasies, those faded... unfortunately, when your husband died, you suffered a psychotic break. Your mind simply wasn't able to deal with the trauma of being alone again."
"Husband?" she asked, puzzled. She looked down at her hands, but her fingers were unmarked. No ring, and no paler band of flesh to indicate she'd been wearing one recently.
"You were married to a soldier," Doctor Psi explained, rummaging through a folder and drawing out a photograph. "He died shortly after the two of you were wed on the battlefield... that was almost... four years ago now."
He held out the photograph, and Yoko took it in her trembling hands, peering at the image contained therein. It wasn't an especially good photo, it looked like whomever had taken it had been using a handheld camera, and the image was slightly blurred. She could make out enough to tell it was the face of a handsome looking man. Tall, sturdy shoulders, a ragged head of hair that fit with the 'devil may care' grin on his handsome face... but beyond that she couldn't make out finer details. The color had faded from the photo so it was all washed out browns and tans, she couldn't even be positive what color his hair was, a shade of blue or a dark blonde.
Yoko stood on some distant battlefield... was it a rocky wasteland in the morning rain? Was it the deck of a space battleship? She wasn't sure. She saw the man who loved her. And she loved him, at least a little. His strong arms wrapped around her shoulders, and she gently return the gesture, embracing his midsection as their bodies pressed up close together.
Their lips met... and his final, fatal fate became sealed in a kiss...
As abruptly as the memories had come, they faded away, lingering on the edge of her conscious mind but unable to be called forth with any vivid details, only vagueness. Yoko took another long look at the photograph in Doctor Psi's hand, but she still didn't recognize the individual shown there. They were a stranger to her.
"I'm sorry, that's not my husband," Yoko protested. She wasn't sure who it was, but she'd never seen the person before in her life.
"It's not!" she suddenly shouted, then slapped her hands to her mouth, unable to believe she'd yelled so loudly. The woman in the eye patch stepped forward, but Doctor Psi gently held up a hand to stop her.
"It's alright, Adiane. Yoko, listen... please... I know this is difficult for you..."
She closed her eyes tightly, trying to shut out his voice. This was wrong, all of it felt wrong. She wasn't supposed to be here. This wasn't her home and this wasn't what she was supposed to be doing. Yoko started to squirm in agitation, about to climb to her feet when Adiane shoved her back down in her chair by the shoulder.
Her eyes blinked open... and everything was different.
Bullets flew through the air as beastmen converged on Yoko from every angle, some sort of sickening, twisted fish-headed freaks. They swarmed her en masse but they were slow and clumsy, Yoko casually slammed the butt of her rifle into one's face, spinning the weapon around like a staff and knocking back two more. A trio converged on her blind spot but she expertly loaded and fired off a round at their feet, the sheer force of which sent them flying.
Yoko was untouchable, invincible, unstoppable. And she just kept on fighting. She tugged back on the bolt and popped the empty shell, loading another to continue the battle.
As she did, the smoke cleared behind her. Without looking, she could sense a new danger approaching. Adiane the Elegant loomed behind her, resplendent in her beautiful kimono, ready to eviscerate Yoko with her scorpion tail, which reared up, about to strike...!
As abruptly as it had started, it all came to an end.
Yoko blinked her eyes, her head throbbing, and realized she was back in the office with Doctor Psi. He was gazing at her with an unreadable expression, taking a moment to adjust his glasses before making a note on a piece of paper on his desk.
"Yoko? Is everything alright? It looked like we lost you there for a moment..."
"I'm fine," she replied, finding her voice hoarse. Lifting a hand to her cheeks, she found they were slightly damp with tears. She brushed them away furiously, feeling her cheeks grow hot with shame. "I'm fine," she repeated more firmly. "I'm not crazy," she protested.
He shook his head. "I prefer not to use that term, Yoko... it's so... damaging. But you aren't well..."
"So what happens now?" Yoko asked bitterly. "Ink blots? Word associations? Or do we skip that and go straight for brain surgery?"
He barked a short laugh at that. "No need for such extreme measures. At least not yet. That seems like it was a very mild episode," Psi said, stroking his pale beard. "It's a good sign, Yoko. It means your treatment is working. Even so, I'd like to keep up our sessions and..."
"No, I mean... I don't feel crazy... I know who I am," Yoko protested. "I shouldn't be here... I should be-"
"I'm afraid that's not an option, Yoko. You know that," he replied.
"We're concerned for your safety. Your delusions have been particularly strong in the past, and you've been a danger not only to yourself but others around you. Like what happened to your parents."
"My... my what?" she asked, feeling a sinking feeling in her stomach.
"... maybe you're not ready yet to hear about that," Doctor Psi said gently, shifting the files in his hands. Yoko reached out, gently placing hers over his.
"What about my parents?" she asked, dreading the answer, but with a desperate desire to know. She could tell even without his saying anything something was truly, terribly wrong here.
He gave her a measured look from behind his glasses, gauging her mental fortitude and inner strength, and silently conceded she did indeed look strong enough to bear it. "After your breakdown, when your husband died... you first went home, to see your parents. At first you were... highly depressed and strongly in denial about his passing but... they gave you your space and hoped you'd be able to recover with their tender loving care. Unfortunately... one day you sunk a little too deeply into one of your delusions. Your thought your parents were your enemy... keeping you from your true loved one."
The implications were ghastly, to say the least. Yoko's eyes widened as her irises shrunk to pinpricks in horror. "No..."
It was storming outside. Rainfall was heavy this time of year, and lightning flashed outside the windows of the kitchen. The lights had gone out, it seemed there was a momentary power outage. Mother and father were gathered in the kitchen, the latter trying to light a candle to provide some illumination.
Striking a match, he lit the red candle, casting a warm glow over both their faces... and illuminating a pair of golden eyes that emerged from the darkness behind them.
Both parents jumped in shock as lightning illuminated the kitchen, showing Yoko standing there, eyes dull and unseeing as she stared straight ahead, tears streaming down her pale cheeks from crying. Her arm came up like it was a puppet's, jerking on a string, and she reached for the cutting board laying on the kitchen countertop beside her.
Mother and father could only stare in mute terror as her hand jerked up again, her expression unchanging. Lightning flashed outside, thunder rolling in its wake, as her arm descended. Once. Then twice. Then again and again and again still.
When she finally came to, Yoko could only blink her eyes, feeling surprisingly warm, her body covered in a sticky fluid. Lifting up her stained hands, she saw they were covered in red. She still held the murder instrument in her right hand. On the floor, in front of her... well... they were almost wholly unrecognizable. Mother and father lay side by side in pools of blood.
The bloody weapon clattered to the ground as Yoko sank to her knees and wailed in pain and horror.
"You..." Doctor Psi went on in obvious discomfort. "Well, there was a kitchen knife..."
"NO!" she protested, leaping up and slamming her hands down on the table. "I wouldn't! I couldn't do something like that! I-!"
A pinprick of fire made her gasp as something plunged into her arm. Looking up, Yoko saw the orderly, Adiane, with a syringe in hand. The sharp tip had just exited her skin, leaving behind scarcely a mark, yet its contents had just been pumped into her bloodstream.
"What did you... what... why...?" she felt her eyes flutter and slumped back into the padded chair in front of the desk, head rolling to one side as all the strength emptied out of her.
Doctor Psi relaxed a little at the sight of such. "It's alright... it's just a mild sedative to help you relax... Adiane, I think we're done here for today, can you escort Yoko back to her room?"
"I'm off shift in like ten minutes," she protested, indicating the clock.
Doctor Psi sighed, lifting up his glasses and rubbing his eyes. "Very well, have your relief attend to her please, we want to make sure you're as comfortable as possible," he directed the last bit to Yoko, who slumped in her seat, feeling weak all over.
She gave a dim nod of her head, but she didn't feel comfortable.
She felt afraid.
She was returned to her room by another orderly, a tall, thin man with a mane of silvery hair whose nametag read 'Cytomander' and who had a nasty sneer on his face the whole time. Yoko was glad when he left her alone, though less so that he'd locked her in. She tested the doorway once he was well out of sight, tugging hard on the handles, but they refused to budge. Probably bolt locked. Yoko certainly wasn't going anywhere anytime soon. Turning around, she took another look around her sparse quarters, finding virtually no furniture apart from her bed. The sheets had been made and the covers smoothed out, but it only added to the look of clinical sterility.
This wasn't a room where someone lived. This was just a place where someone slept.
Flopping down on the bed and gazing up at the unfamiliar ceiling, Yoko sighed heavily. Though her body was weary from what felt like a long day and the drugs pumped into her system, her mind was racing, trying to make sense of it all. Again she tried to recall something, anything, that could help make sense of her present predicament. Doctor Psi's explanation had seemed logical and true enough, yet something felt intrinsically wrong with it all. Like that photograph of her supposed husband. Even without her memories it didn't feel like someone she knew, let alone loved. There had been no warmth there, no affection, no real feelings. It was a stranger's face. Would she have truly married someone like that? Yoko didn't think she would, but without her memories she couldn't be one hundred percent sure. She felt the same way about the story with her parents... she didn't even remember having parents. Yet when she tried to recall a childhood, all she got was swaths of gray, as if parts of her memories had been deliberately whitewashed by a very bad painter.
Sighing, she rolled onto her stomach, kicking her feet up in the air, and tried to think of something else. Anything else. The room was dark, but as her eyes began to adjust to the dim light she saw it wasn't wholly pitch black, there was a little illumination coming from the window against the wall.
Hopping off the bed, padding across the icy floor in her bare feet, she threw open the drapes, gazing up at the moon high in the sky above. It was full tonight, and hung low in the sky, a great disk of silver that lit up the night sky almost as bright as day. In older times, the moon was called Luna, and associated with lunacy and lunatics. She wasn't sure how she knew that, but Yoko was positive the information was true. She remembered showing someone how to spell moon. That idiot hadn't even known how to spell his own name...
Grimacing, her head started to pound, and she rubbed her temples again until the pain ceased. Just when she thought she was making progress with her memories they slipped away again. It was maddening.
Yoko gave a full-body shiver, not liking the sound of that.
As she gazed up at the celestial body, Yoko felt a tingle in her arms, and for a moment, imagined she saw something falling from the skies against the backdrop of the moon. A yellow, five point star, drifting down towards her...
... then the image faded, leaving only the pale moonlight to wash over her, and Yoko still with unanswered questions.
Who was she? And why couldn't she remember? Was she truly crazy after all?
I had a lot of inspiration for this story, which makes me deeply ashamed it took so long to actually sit down and write the damned thing. Most prominently of course was the many, many adorable outfits Yoko found herself wearing throughout the course of the series, as well as the Parallel Works and her own special little Music Video S.t.a.r.S. The idea that Adiane is a smoker also comes from the Parallel Works.
I once had a music video on youtube that paid tribute to Yoko with Katy Perry's "Wide Awake" which was naturally the source of the stories title, and held a similar premise of reality and fantasy blending together in impossible ways.