Disclaimer: Don't own Freezing. Just a fan.
Chapter 1: What is Left?
2200 Hours, May 19, 2068 (Military Calendar) / Mirai Army Headquarters, West Genetics Special Forces Barracks
Satellizer had never been so happy to see her bed before. After sixteen hours of being on duty, she was ready to pass out and sleep forever. Fortune seemed to favor her too, as there was no sign of her bunkmate anywhere. Satellizer loved her friend to death, but God did she need to rest.
Unfortunately, keeping routine took priority over sleep.
Trudging through the door of her room, Satellizer dumped her gear by the dresser and slumped down into the chair of her desk. She rested her head on the cool wood for a few moments, hoping it would help alleviate the pounding in her head. When it inevitably did not, she groaned and forced herself up.
The person staring back at her from the mirror above her desk was a stranger. Her blue eyes were red-rimmed and bloodshot. She had bags a mile long under them, though her glasses helped hide those somewhat. Her once golden hair was now a faded, flaxen mess. Her mud-caked uniform looked terrible as well, though that was no fault of hers. Whoever had decided that white would be a good color for their uniforms clearly had no idea what a life of soldiering entailed, or simply didn't care. Satellizer had a sinking feeling it was the latter.
She had spent most of the day helping the Training Corps, perpetually understaffed, drill Pandora and Valkyrie recruits. With the Nova Threat still looming, Supreme Commander Aoi had need of every soldier and with the Valkyrie Initiative in full-swing, new recruits were lining up to join Humanity's new defense force every day. The Mirai organization was, ostensibly, a private institution created by Dr. Gengo Aoi to fill the scientific niche left behind after the Chevalier collapsed following the conclusion of the Chevalier Civil War. In truth, since the war Mirai had become the dominant political, economic, and military organization of the world, leading the continuing fight against the Nova from its headquarters at West Genetics Academy.
Satellizer had been one of the first Pandora recruited into Mirai, mostly against her will since the Chevalier hadn't given her much choice when they sent their kill-squads to the academy with orders to wipe everyone out. It had been three years since that battle and Satellizer and her former school mates currently enjoyed a privileged status within Mirai's Special Forces Department's prized taskforce, Platoon 13.
Despite the apparent prestige, life was hard. Supreme Commander Aoi expected great things from his "special fighters", as he put it, and Satellizer was one of them. Arnett often complained that she had become a Pandora in order to kick-ass, not drill formations with rookies like her life depended on it. Satellizer tended to agree with her, though she had to admit Elizabeth's constant speeches about duty were beginning to erode everyone's desire to complain, at least when in the Mably heir's presence.
Sighing, Satellizer took off her gloves and removed her rank tags. She placed them in a box on her desk and activated the holographic touch-screen. As usual, she checked her mail before starting her log report. She mostly received routine updates on her platoon's status, what its current assignment was and so forth. Thankfully they were all still officially on stand-by. She noted a message from Colonel Lee and immediately tagged it as important for later viewing. Despite her peppy demeanor, Satellizer found that Su-Na rarely delivered good news in private messages.
The sender of the next message caused Satellizer to still.
She hadn't spoken to her sister in two years, despite Violet's various attempts at communication. Even now she sent frequent messages. They were often mundane things, like how the family was doing and how the El Bridget Company was faring. But each and every message had the same undertone to it. Are you all right? Do you want to come home? Why won't you talk to me? Each time it hurt more than the last. The truth was she wanted to see her family, desperately. It was their pity she didn't want. Violet and Olivia's sympathetic looks of compassion, her father's silent stoicism, and Louis's dogged attempts at talking about everything except what had happened. It was too much for Satellizer to take. So she had cut contact and thrown herself into her responsibilities. She did her duty and then some. She signed up for extra tours and training programs, anything and everything that kept her busy. It made dealing with it easier.
Sighing once more, Satellizer deleted Violet's message and began typing up her report.
An hour later, Satellizer stepped out of the shower feeling like a new woman. She dried herself off quickly and threw on a tank top and a pair of sweat pants. She walked out of the private bathroom connected to her room and sat down on her bed. Looking around, Satellizer took in the room she shared with her best friend.
It was a small, yet cozy double-bunk room situated in the heart of the Special Forces Department's main building, a relatively new addition to West Genetics. With the academy expanding every day, the rumor mill had it that the Professor had squeezed the nearby cities to cede more land to him for development. Wouldn't put it past the old man.
As always whenever she was left alone in her room, Satellizer's attention was eventually drawn to the picture sitting on the bureau by her bed.
It wasn't digital like everything else was nowadays, but an actual paper photograph. Kazuya claimed he had found an old camera in his grandfather's house and nicked it as revenge for the old man's antics. The memory of Kazuya laughing and asking if she wanted to take a picture made her smile a sad, little smile.
It had been three years since Kazuya's disappearance. Three long, lonely years since a part of her had been ripped away.
Satellizer had been a wreck at first, not understanding Gengo's explanations and not wanting to. All she cared about was that Kazuya was gone and she didn't know how to get him back. She hadn't had much time to process her loss though, as the Chevalier had attacked almost immediately after.
Fighting back had been reflexive. She had been on autopilot for the whole battle, hacking and slashing but not truly realizing what was going on. Afterwards, after the smoke had cleared and Gengo's forces had smashed the Chevalier's fleet, Satellizer had regained her senses and demanded answers. The professor had done his best to simplify the sciences behind his experiment, but most of it still went straight over her head. In the end, he had stopped trying and instead told her that Kazuya had gone to a faraway place in order to protect mankind. That he had risked his life so that their ignorance of the Nova might end and a solution to their approaching doom be found.
Since that day Satellizer had felt tired and empty. Pushing herself past her limits helped her to momentarily forget her pain, but it always came back. Her friends had quickly caught on and stopped asking questions about Kazuya. They even stopped mentioning him at all in conversations. That somehow made it worse.
Reaching forward, Satellizer picked up the photo and hugged it to her chest tightly. She just wished that he'd come back. Was that too much to ask? After all the suffering in her life, was it too much to ask for the one person who made her whole to stand by her side?
Footsteps outside her door jerked Satellizer out of her own mind and with cat-like speed she shoved the picture under her pillow and threw the covers over her head.
"Satella-san! Are you asleep already!?"
Satellizer had to dampen a groan. She was in no shape to keep up with her roommate Rana Linchen's boundless energy, which was as unrelenting as it was cheerful. Burrowing deeper into her bed, Satellizer prayed that Rana would assume she was fast asleep and move on.
As usual her prayers went unanswered.
With an effortless tug, Rana pulled the covers from Satellizer's head and threw them aside. She placed her hands on her hips and tried to affix a stern look to her face, though it did little to encourage Satellizer to sit up.
"Why aren't you dressed yet? Tonight is the night!" Rana exclaimed in what was definitely not a regulation approved level of volume.
"What's tonight again?" murmured Satellizer. "You'll have to remind me."
Rana answered her question with a glare and a pouted lip. "Tonight is the night we all agreed to go out into the city together. Remember, Arnett-senpai wants to try out that new bar?"
Internally, Satellizer grimaced. She had not in fact forgotten, merely hoped that they would forget to invite her and she could slink away without notice. No such luck it would seem, if Rana's determined expression was anything to go by.
It was time to change tactics.
"I find it hard to believe the Colonel is alright with almost the entirety of her best platoon taking the night off. If something happens, it would reflect poorly on the Supreme Commander." It was a safe bet, considering Colonel Su-Na Lee would choose to wrestle a bear without her Stigmata rather than let Gengo Aoi look bad.
"Arnett-senpai and Elizabeth-senpai got permission from Sister Margaret for our night out. They told her it was to celebrate our promotions to Warrant Officer, and she said we deserved to have fun for once." Rana's smile was bright and happy, and she looked quite satisfied that she had won their little debate in a single stroke.
Satellizer stared at her blankly, comprehending that which Rana did not. Margaret had not given them permission for the night out because she thought the platoon deserved it. Truly, Platoon 13 didn't do much when there wasn't an ongoing Nova Clash. They were Special Forces, deployed for the direst of circumstances and in the event that the Regular Forces just couldn't get the job done.
No, Satellizer thought, this was a deliberate snub against the Colonel. Following the war, the professor had promoted the Headmistress of West Genetics, Margaret Lindman, to the rank of Major general and placed her in charge of the Department of War within Mirai as a whole. In his infinite wisdom however, Gengo had also created a sub-branch inside of the department. The aptly named Special Forces Department was compromised of all Pandora officially deemed "abnormally exceptional". This included such variants of Pandora as the Transcendents, like herself. He chose Su-Na Lee to be the commander of this illustrious force.
The tension had arisen later on, when Gengo made it clear that although Su-Na and her platoons were considered part of the Department of War, they were outside the regular chain of command and answered directly to him in his capacity as Supreme Commander. Despite her status, Major general Lindman had effectively no authority over quite a number of incredibly powerful Pandora housed within her own academy. The rumor mill took it further, and claimed the situation only recently grew hostile due to Su-Na's extreme measures to root out and eliminate Chevalier Remnants. Measures that Margaret vehemently objected to. Whatever the truth was, the two woman had been chilly to each other ever since.
The most important thing though, was that Satellizer now had her out.
"Yeah listen, you guys go on without me. I really can't afford to piss the Colonel off any more than I already have," Satellizer ended her excuse with a nervous chuckle that wasn't all together false.
Rana narrowed her eyes suspiciously and squared her shoulders. Satellizer had to stifle another groan. She had a feeling things were about to get ugly.
Then all of sudden Rana's demeanor changed. She bowed her head, slumped her shoulders, and sat down on the bed beside Satellizer. She said nothing for several minutes, just sat and stared at the ground. Finally she shook her head and looked up into Satellizer's face.
"Ok, if you don't want to go, I won't make you." Rana had a strange smile on her face.
Satellizer stared, completely caught off-guard by the sudden change. This was not like Rana at all. Normally she would hound her friend until she agreed to come. Actually getting what she wanted had left the Untouchable Queen floundering for a response.
Rana kept smiling and reached forward, snagging Satellizer's right hand. She gave it a bone crushing squeeze and said "Just….promise me you won't get lost in the pain. I don't want to lose you too, ok?"
Tears welled in Satellizer's eyes. Dammit, now I feel worse. Retrieving her hand, she threw both arms around Rana and squeezed with all she had. Rana immediately reciprocated, and the two friends, who should have been sisters, held each other in their shared pain.
Separating, both girls were crying, but also smiling. Wiping her eyes, Satellizer spoke up, "Hey, how about I help you get ready?"
Rana's bright smile made her glad she had asked.
Forty-five minutes later, Satellizer ushered Rana out of the bathroom. Her white dress was perfectly tailored and Satellizer had worked hard to make sure her friend's makeup was perfect. Rana did a little twirl and the Untouchable Queen nodded in approval.
"You look great Rana."
"It's all thanks to you, Satella-san! I don't know what I'd do without you!"
I rather think it's the other way around.
Satellizer kept that thought to herself, and instead wished her friend a good night. She made sure to ask that Rana give her regards to Elizabeth and the others. If she didn't, Satellizer would never hear the end of it.
She sat back down on her bed and pulled the covers close. Finally, she'd be able to sleep. She turned her head to the side and closed her eyes. She could hear Rana open the door to leave, but didn't hear it close. She was about to call out and ask what was wrong when a voice she recognized all too well spoke, "Is there a celebration I wasn't invited to?"
Satellizer rolled over and stared at the door. In the frame stood her younger brother Louis, dressed in a full suit and tie. She had not seen him in years, since the last time he had accompanied their father to speak to Dr. Aoi at Mirai Headquarters.
Without permission he brushed by Rana and stepped into the room. She looked ready to object, but closed her mouth after Satellizer gave her a look.
"Rana, you go on and meet up with the girls. I have to speak with my brother," said Satellizer to her friend, though she had not averted her eyes from her brother.
Rana wrinkled her brow in thought and looked between the two siblings. After a moment, she nodded and walked out the door.
Louis shot a glance at the door as it closed. "Your friend is quite the beauty."
"Not going to partake in a Friday night celebration?"
"What's there to celebrate?"
"Oh I don't know, how about being alive?" Louis ended his remark with a glare. Satellizer was unperturbed and fired one of her own back. After a tense moment, Louis broke eye contact and sighed. "I didn't come to fight with you, Satella."
"Why did you come then?" asked Satellizer. She was far too tired, both emotionally and physically, to deal with her family right now.
"Partly," said Louis, "To see you, dear sister." Satellizer responded with an unlady like snort.
Louis continued on, undeterred. "Father sent me to negotiate with Aoi. His health is failing and he didn't want the old bastard to see him weak."
"His name is Dr. Gengo Aoi, and you really should show him more respect." Satellizer wasn't surprised by her father's health or Louis's distaste for the Supreme Commander. Violet had confided both to her in early messages she had sent.
Louise glared at her. "Are you defending him? After what he put you threw? He's the reason Kazuya is gon-," Louis abruptly cut himself off. He grimaced and seemed to search for new words to mend his slip up.
Satellizer saved him from the dilemma. "I am fully aware that Kazuya's disappearance is Dr. Aoi's fault."
"Oh? And how is that?"
"Because he told me."
"He told you? I find that hard to believe."
Satellizer rubbed her temple, feeling the onset of a migraine. Nothing quite like family to make you feel great. "Yes Louis, he told me. He's told me quite a number of things during our talks."
Louis blanched at the thought. "Talks? What talks?"
"Twice a week I go to his office and we…talk."
Her brother looked thunderstruck, so Satellizer continued, "We talk mostly about Kazuya. The Professor tells me stories about when he and Kazuha-san were young. Most of them are pretty funny." Without meaning to, Satellizer had begun to smile. Last week, the professor had told her one story where Kazuha had tried to sneak a little Kazuya into school with her under a raincoat. The ruse had been foiled when Kazuya grew hungry and his stomach growls had given him away. She and Gengo had laughed for hours at that.
As she was distracted, Louis spoke up. "That's the first time I can remember you smiling in recent memory." He looked sad to have to admit that.
"Do you want to know why Dr. Aoi's stories make me smile?"
Her brother nodded.
Taking a breath, Satellizer continued. "It's because Dr. Aoi isn't reminiscing about a dead grandson to me. He truly and wholeheartedly believes that Kazuya is still out there somewhere, and that he will return someday. Everyone else has given up on Kazuya, but not his grandfather."
She left a lot of things out in her explanation. Like how even Gengo's faith, which was strong and durable like mankind's survival instinct, had days where it faltered. On those days she would find him in his office, sad and trying to drown his pain in booze. When he was truly drunk, he'd say all kinds of strange things to her, like how he wished fate was something that could be killed, because then he could simply kill God and be done with this twisted world. There were other strange things though, like when he lamented that he never got a chance to properly know his granddaughter, who looked so much like her mother. Satellizer thought he meant Kazuha, but a niggling feeling in her gut told her he was talking about someone else.
Strangely enough, she didn't mind the Professor drunkenly venting to her. It made him seem more human than his normal persona did, the one he wore as the protector of mankind. Though Colonel Su-Na seemed to resent their talks and didn't bother to hide her disapproval to her subordinate. Satellizer had an inkling why, but tried not to think too much about it. The relationship between the Professor and the Colonel was far too complicated to unravel and more importantly, it was none of her business.
She told her brother none of this. It was not his concern.
Louis had a pensive look on his face, like he was trying to piece together a puzzle. Eventually he sighed and slouched down into the chair by Satellizer's desk.
"If it makes you smile, then I hope you keep talking to him."
Satellizer raised an eyebrow at Louis, and he continued, "Look Satella, all that I and the family want is for you to be happy. I understand that you might not be capable of that right now, but you have to understand that we are just not capable of leaving you alone in this world. Especially me, considering how much I still have to make up to you for"
Satellizer was about to respond, but Louis cut her off, "And please, answer Violet's messages. She's driving me crazy."
Her brother's smile was genuine and she couldn't help but return it. He made a good point, she hadn't considered that her family was just as incapable of abandoning her as she was of abandoning Kazuya.
"Ok, I'll send Violet a message tomorrow. And I promise to try and maintain contact with everyone."
Her brother let out a breath and leaned back in his chair, clearly happy about the result of their conversation. Satellizer couldn't let it end without a good jab though.
Louis straightened a bit in the chair and immediately started glaring at her. Satellzer couldn't help but laugh.
Her brother wasn't amused. "Mother keeps bringing up marriage. I think Violet was the one who first suggested it, that traitor."
It felt good to hear Louis complain about their sister and her step-mother. It felt like being back home. Tomorrow was a new day with all new challenges, but at least tonight had been fulfilling. Strangely enough, she found herself eager to meet those challenges head on. She'd have a lot to tell Dr. Aoi in their next session as well.
As her brother regaled her with family tales that she had missed, Satellizer smiled a little smile and let herself forget her pain, if only for tonight.
Ending Note: And there you have chapter one. Again I'm only going off the manga so If you're an anime only watcher, this probably made no sense.
Couple of things to note. "Mirai" is Japanese for "the future". I thought it appropriate for a futurist like Gengo to name his new organization as such. Also if you're curious about Satellizer's uniform, just picture the Chevalier battle outfit (the one with the long coat) only except being red and black its white and black.