Author's Note: My computer was recently fixed (hence my triumphant return to fanfic writing), and I found some old works in a file in it. This fanfic, while it's the second FLCL fic I have published, is the first one I wrote. It is also the first chapter work I ever wrote for fan fiction, even if it's the second, third, or fourth one I've published, dependant on how you count (Captivated could be said not to count because the division was made as a buffer between sexual and non-sexual content, and/or Mole could be said to be a chapter work because even though it's all one document, it was made with actual chapters (even though I ignored them because the chapters were kind of short, only about six and a half pages each)). This is also very much my latest, however; I had only reached mid way through chapter three in the first try, and I heavily edited what was done (I have a frightful tendency to leave out details, especially if they're not integral to the plot). Enjoy! Also, please read Don't call me Ta-kun, it's very inspired.
Chapter One -- Atomsk's Request.
Nandaba Naota, can you hear me? the voice said inside of his head. Naota looked around him for the source, but he didn't see anyone acting suspiciously. He was walking home from school and it was a sunny day. Nandaba Naota, can you hear me? The voice was strange, and yet, familiar.
"Yes," Naota muttered.
It's probably best not to speak out loud. People will think you're talking to yourself, the voice said.
Alright, Naota though at the voice. He started walking towards his house again, exactly as if he wasn't having a conversation inside of his head. Who are you? What are you?
I'm a lot of things and have a lot of names. The most notorious of which is Atomsk the Pirate King, the voice said.
"Atomsk!" Naota was shocked into saying it out loud, and some people looked at him like he was crazy. He kept walking. What are you doing here, Atomsk? Why did you return? Is Haruko here?
Well, you see, the thing is…I never left, Atomsk said.
If Atomsk had been anywhere except inside Naota's own head, he'd have stared. You have been inside of my head for six months?
But that's impossible! Naota said. I saw you leave! Haruko left to follow you!
What Raharu was chasing, and in all likelihood continues to chase to this day, is nothing more than a phantom, Atomsk said. I wanted her gone, and now it seems that that might not have been such a good idea.
What do you mean? Naota asked.
I need her to help someone who is very important to me, someone who's life I recently screwed up, Atomsk said.
Who? Naota asked.
My son, Atomsk said.
The idea of Atomsk having a family was…odd, to say the least. Downright creepy, in point of fact. Okay. How do I figure into this? Naota asked.
I need your help to find Raharu, Atomsk said. I need to reserve my energy for something that I intend to do later, but with me telling you what to do, you can build a spaceship. You can go out to the stars and find Raharu.
Go to the stars? Find Haruko? I'll do it, Naota said.
The Medical Mechanical plant had been shut down for six months, ever since Atomsk disabled it. Or Atomsk's phantom, whatever. It hadn't been demolished. Why would it be? Naota, Haruko, and Amarao (and Atomsk, Naota amended) knew about the evil plot MM had in store for the people of Earth, and no one had realized just how close they came to enslavement. Come to think of it, neither did Naota. Did they escape by a hair's breath or did they nip the attempted conquest in the bud? Ah, well.
Two figures stole in through a hole in the side of the building that no one had known was there -- no one but Atomsk.
Are you sure you want to do this? It would mean leaving behind your friends, your family, your school, the entire life you would lead if you grew up a normal kid, Atomsk said.
"Normalcy is overrated. Haruko taught me that," Naota said. "Besides, I want to help reunite you with your kid. Really."
You're not just doing this so that you can meet Raharu again? Atomsk asked.
"To be quite honest, that is a big part of it, but no," Naota said. "I know what it's like to have an absentee parent. My father did his best to raise my brother and me right, but that doesn't quite make up for the fact that my mother left when I was young. I don't even know what she looks like…" Naota shook himself physically. "Anyway, what are we here to get?"
I'm sorry, Atomsk said.
"Don't be. It's not your fault," Naota said. "Now, like I said, what do we need?"
Let's start with one of the reactor's force-shield generators, Atomsk said.
"I have absolutely no idea what one of those would look like," Naota said.
Tell Canti what you want. He'll know what to do, Atomsk said.
"Canti, find a force-shield generator," Naota said.
The robot, the second figure to enter the MM plant, went into the jungle of wires and pipes and re-emerged with something the size of a refrigerator.
"There's no way I'm going to be able to hide something that big!" Naota said.
Well, we are going to strip it down, but honestly, what do you expect? We're building a starship, Atomsk said. Besides, who said anything about hiding? You're going to have to tell your father what you intend to do eventually, or did you plan on skipping town on him?
"I guess I didn't think it out that far," Naota admitted abashedly.
"Luke, I am your father," Darth Vader said on the TV.
Naota, who with Atomsk's instructions and Canti's help was actually building a starship, just shook his head at the wide, empty, useless space they were in. Hardly efficient. He felt Atomsk sigh.
"What is it?" Naota asked. Kamon looked at him. "I was talking to Atomsk," Naota explained.
"Ah," Kamon said.
I'm just wondering…how my son will react when I tell him who I am, Atomsk said.
Naota's saw the parallel between Darth Vader and Atomsk, and then he wondered where the parallel ended. "I take it that there's a reason they call you 'the pirate king?'" he asked.
I am a scoundrel and a thief, a more evolved being that uses its gifts not to help people but to play pranks on them and use them as pawns in my demented games, Atomsk said. On many worlds, I am known as the God who Lies, or some variation thereof. As a matter of fact, Christianity's Satan is actually loosely based on me.
"I really wish that you'd not do that, it's kinda creepy," Kamon said. "He's in your head. Why don't you talk in your head at him?"
"Sorry," Naota said. So what you're trying to say is, you're not the type of person to bring to school on parent-teacher night.
I took up a dalliance for a couple years with a lesser being. I even got married. Why not? It wasn't like the laws of mortals could bind me, and even if they could, you live such pathetically short lives, anyhow. During that time, we had a couple of children, and then I got bored and left, Atomsk said. I didn't even think about it twice, not at the time. Why should I? They were lesser beings. Only one of them even showed any promise of having any kind of powers, and they would have remained dormant his entire life, if I hadn't come along… Naota felt Atomsk sigh inside of his head.
What did you do? Naota asked.
What I always did to mortals. I used him as a pawn in one of my games, I awakened his powers and used him to take out one of my enemies, Atomsk said. I wreaked havoc through him without his knowledge or consent, and the experience has left him forever changed. Again, I didn't think twice about it at the time. Spending six months hiding in your head, though, it taught me that you people deserve better than that. I only want one thing now, and it is to redeem myself in his eyes.
You made his life into lemonades, so now you want to help him make lemonade, Naota said.
Exactly, Atomsk said.
Naota looked at the starship he had created, the vessel that was to take him to the far ends of the galexy. "What an ugly looking thing." They had used an actual dumpster as a casing, and the bits and pieces that stuck out looked like they belonged in one. "Where's the cockpit?" Naota asked. "I mean, this thing is going into space, right? Shouldn't there be, you know, a cockpit?"
The force-shield will protect you from acceleration and provide you with nice, breathable air, Atomsk said. How did you think Haruko's vespa managed space travel?
"Yeah, that makes sense," Naota said. "The thing is…what if I float out of the bubble?"
The force shield won't let you. It will bounce you back. It will also protect you from things like extremes of temperature, UV radiation, etcetera, Atomsk said.
"So I become a three-dimensional pinball! That's just great!" Naota said.
Better than becoming a Popsicle, son, Atomsk said.
"Don't call me that. You're not m father. As a matter of fact, even my father doesn't call me that," Naota said.
As you wish, Atomsk said.
Naota looked at the spaceship. "Why am I doing this, again?"
You want to help reunite me with my son so that I can try to fix what I did to his life, Atomsk said.
"Suddenly, it seems that generosity can only be stretched so far," Naota said.
You want to be reunited with Haruko, then, Atomsk said.
"She said she'd come back for me," Naota said.
No, she said she might come back for you. And even if she does, when will she come back? He race is incredibly long-lived, by your standards, Atomsk said.
"She said that she was twenty," Naota said.
She was counting decades, not years, Atomsk said. You'll be lucky if you're not dead of old age by the time she returns.
If Atomsk had been anywhere except for inside of Naota's head, he'd have glared murderously at him; as it was, he glared at the junker of a spacecraft. "Damn you, Atomsk. Just, damn you."
For what it's worth, I'm rooting for you, son, Atomsk said.
This caught Naota completely by surprise. "Wait a second. I thought…I meand, aren't you and Haruko…"
Who told you that?
"Amarao, actually," Naota said.
For one thing, Amarao doesn't know jack about me, Atomsk said. For another, even if there was something going on between us, I intend to leave the galaxy after I've cleaned up this business with my son, so she's free now.
"Wait a second; you're leaving?" Naota asked. He climbed up onto the top of the spaceship, and Canti followed, tinkering with some computer. "Is that what you're saving your power for?"
My people were among the first sentient species to evolve in the galaxy. We existed for thousands of years, we tampered with the fabric of the natural world to encourage the evolution of beings like ourselves (which, incidentally, is why there are so many independently-evolved species of human in the galaxy), and then we shed the husk of human bodies ourselves, becoming beings…well, beings like I am. We existed like this for many millennia, and then we moved on, leaving the galaxy that gave us life to evolve on its own. I…I was afraid. I stayed behind, left behind, and I watched the many different humanities evolved from the various stock, and I made mischief. I think that it is time that I retire, Atomsk said.
Naota felt nothing as the starship blasted off. He looked down and saw the ground rapidly receding. Soon he could see the ocean, then all of Japan, then all of the Earth. He was now floating.
"Amazing," Naota said.
You get used to it, Atomsk said.
"I hope not," Naota said.
This is your last chance to turn back. Just tell Canti to turn around. You can go back to your normal life like nothing ever happened.
"I want to do this, Atomsk," Naota said.
Are you sure?
"Yes," Naota said.
Because of Raharu, Atomsk half-asked, half-said.
"Yes, but also because…I never really felt like I belonged there, or that belonging was really such a good thing in the first place. I did what I did, when I was expected to do it, how I was expected to do it, because I was expected to do it, and nothing ever changed…until Haruko showed up, that is," Naota said.
There are places a lot closer to home than where we're going where you can try to find other people like you. The Earth was a rapidly shrinking ball below them.
"It's not that, it's…I don't know how to say it…"
It felt wrong. The Earth, I mean.
"Yes, exactly," Naota said. "Hey, did we just pass Jupiter?"
Largest gas giant in this solar system? Closest to the sun?
Sure did, Atomsk said.
"How fast are we going, exactly?"
Fast, Atomsk said. Honestly, Naota, we're going to another star. Do you honestly want to think about the kinds of speed necessary it is necessary to have to get there in under five thousand generations of your people? Or about how many of your so-called laws of physics we break in doing so?
"I'll shut up now," Naota said.
Chapter 2 -- Naota Arrives
"Hey, that star's getting brighter," Naota said.
That's where we're going, Atomsk said.
"What star is it?" Naota asked.
It's not visible from Earth, Atomsk said. Naota didn't want to think about how terribly far from home he was. Atomsk said something that wasn't Japanese, but somehow Naota knew that it was some sort of swear word.
"What is it?" Naota asked.
I just remembered that you don't speak Galactic Standard, Atomsk said. I can rectify the situation, but it will be…somewhat uncomfortable.
"Better than not speaking the language," Naota said.
That's my boy, Atomsk said. Naota was about to tell him to never say that again, ever, when he felt something like a chainsaw ripping through his brain. It was exactly as if Atomsk had pulled a chainsaw out of some unknown crevice and started trying to rip and tear his way out of Naota's skull. Had there been gravity, Naota would have collapsed.
The first thing Naota said when he could think again was, "God damn, Atomsk! What galvex is wrong with you?" and then he realized that he just used a word he didn't even know as a swear word.
Stop complaining. The operation obviously worked, Atomsk said.
"Operation!" Naota demanded.
A poor choice of words, nothing more, Atomsk assured him.
The starship was quickly approaching the fourth planet from this star. At first it was a pale blue dot, then it was like a blueberry, then Naota could kind of make out the outlines of continents, then… "Um, Atomsk? Shouldn't we be slowing down?" Atomsk did not answer. "Atomsk, I really think we should be slowing down!" Naota felt the first pulls of gravity pull him towards the "top" of the force-shield bubble. Then the pull wasn't so weak, and he landed against the force-shield. To his surprise, he didn't fall through, and it didn't fry him. Naota got to his feet., and looked down at the rapidly-approaching planet. "Atomsk, I'm really not kidding! If we don't slow down--"
The ship crashed, spreading a thick dust cloud all around from which nothing was safe…that is, nothing but Naota and Canti, who were protected by the force-shield.
"Gee, I hope they didn't notice us," Naota said dryly. Naota looked up and saw that the body of the ship was directly above their heads. "Um, Atomsk? I hate to ask, but what happens when the force-shield shuts down?"
Relax, it's not like the shield has friction, Atomsk said, knowing where Naota was looking because he was inside of his head. The ship will slide to the ground like butter on a hot frying pan.
"When?" Naota said.
Just about…now. Nothing happened. Maybe there's a few minutes of fuel left, not to worry, though.
"Canti, prepare to brace that thing if it falls on our heads," Naota ordered.
Honestly, you should trust me, Naota.
"Why?" Naota asked.
Have I been wrong yet? Atomsk asked.
"Not as far as I know, but now would be a poor time to end that steak," Naota said.
The ship seemed to slide down the bubble and hit the ground with a thump that probably would have been deafening had Naota been able to hear it. The shield protected him from the noise, just like it had protected him from the extreme temperatures and UV light of space.
"When does this shield come down?"
You'll know, Atomsk said cryptically.
"Damn it, Atomsk, I--" and he stopped talking there, because as it turned out, he did know that the force shield had gone out. He knew because he was suddenly in the middle of the dust cloud that his ship created. Naota managed to pull his shirt up over his nose before he hacked his lungs out--barely.
"You could have given me some warning!"
You would have figured it out on your own, had you any brains in that head of yours, Atomsk said.
"Honsetly, you're worse than Haruko!" Naota complained.
I choose to take that as a compliment, Atomsk said. You might want to start walking before you get too much dust in your lungs.
"Which way, oh great pirate king?" Naota asked sarcastically.
East. Towards the sun.
"Come on, Canti," Naota ordered.
"I've been walking forever," Naota complained.
Relax, we're almost there, Atomsk said.
"Almost where?" Naota demanded.
"Hey, you! Boy! Any idea what caused this dust cloud?" a woman's voice asked. Naota saw someone as caked in dirt as he probably was by now. Actually, he was in all likelihood even dirtier, because she seemed to have come out of a house that had just barely been out of the total destruction range of the initial shock wave.
"Um, yeah, my ship sort of crashed," Naota admitted. "Sorry about that?"
"You did this!" the woman demanded incredulously. "Honestly, you're lucky that it's all abandoned farms around here! What if you came down in the city? Do you have any idea how much trouble you'd be in?"
"I guess I'm just lucky. The junker was made completely of salvage," Naota said. Something tells me that it did exactly what it was meant to do, though, didn't it, Atomsk? Atomsk didn't respond.
"Well, if you caused this, the police are going to be after you, and that's a fact," the woman said.
"I'm surprised they haven't caught me already," Naota admitted.
"Well, they can't do anything with this dust the way it is, but as soon as it does, they're going to find your ship, find the registration, find out who you are, and arrest you," the woman said. "So, until they do, wanna come inside and get cleaned up?"
Do it, Atomsk said. Suddenly, it didn't seem coincidental that her house was just far enough away to still be standing.
"Sure, why not?" Naota said. Can they track me? I mean, our ship isn't exactly registered, is it?
The ship is currently burning itself with white phosphorus, in order to destroy any skin or hair samples you left behind so that they can't get a DNA match on you, and all the parts will register to Medical Mechanical. They most definitely have your picture from when our ship passed into view range of the satellites, but that won't make their job very easy, not when you're dealing with a planet of eight billion people, Atomsk said.
"Come in, then," the woman said.
Naota and Canti entered the building. He pulled his shirt of and shook the dust from his body, running his hands through his hair repetitively, and causing a minor dust cloud.
He felt more than saw the woman watching him. He looked up at her, and noticed that she looked a lot like Haruko. Then again, maybe it was just that she was only the second person he had ever met with pink hair and yellow eyes. She was staring at him.
"What is it?" Naota asked.
"Are all members of your race so beautiful?" she asked.
Naota didn't know why he wasn't surprised. He just rolled his eyes and went back to dusting himself off. Then he realized something: He had only met two members of this race, and both of them had found him, a young boy, sexually attractive. He had thought that Haruko had been yanking his chain at first, and then realized that she was kidding on the square, but this…could it be a coincidence?
Atomsk…is there something about these people that I should know? Naota asked.
How do you mean? Atomsk asked innocently.
Just tell me, you bastard, Naota said, exasperated. You know exactly what I mean.
Even on your homeworld, the standards of what is proper do not always remain the same from place to place. For example, there are tribes in I think you call it "New Zealand" where young boys felatiate older men because they believe that ingesting semen will help them grow up to be stronger and manlier. Or was that the one where parents look the other way when children have sex with each other because they're incapable of having children yet? I always mix those two up. Anyway, my point is, what would make you think the galaxy abides by your rules when even on your own planet they aren't universally accepted? said Atomsk.
So what you're telling me is that all women on this planet are into young boys, Naota said.
Not all of them…but a lot, yeah, Atomsk said.
"What does that mean?" the woman asked.
"When I asked you if all of your race were as beautiful as you, you rolled your eyes and didn't answer," the woman said.
"It means…you know what? Never mind what it means. Just forget it," Naota said. "It wasn't an answer to your question."
"So then what is the answer?" the woman asked.
Naota thought of his friends from school. "No, they're really not."
"Ah, well. You, at least, will never go hungry or cold in the cities."
"Never mind," the woman said.
Male prostitution is very popular on this world, even more popular than female prostitution, as a matter of fact, Atomsk said.
I see. Well, I don't like guys, so --
The clientele is largely female, actually, Atomsk said. Honestly, son, what did I just tell you about not thinking that the universe revolves around your way of thinking?
I told you not to call me that, Naota said. "Hey, where's the shower?"
Naota washed his hair for the sixth time since getting into the shower and still did not feel clean. He was lathering up for a seventh go at it when he heard a knock on the bathroom door, which opened a crack. "Hey, boy, what size are you?"
Ten and a half, Atomsk said.
Trust me, the sizes are different here, Atomsk said.
"Ten and a half," Naota said.
"I'll see what I have," the woman said, but her voice said that she doubted that she had it.
Naota washed his hair for the seventh time, and began lathering for an eighth run.
If you're not clean by now, you're not ever going to be, Atomsk said.
If a certain someone had seen fit to land us properly, instead of crashing us…
Blah, blah; whine, whine, Atomsk said.
"I've got a robe in eleven, I hope it's good enough."
Atomsk was silent, and Naota took that as a go-ahead. "I don't see why not," he said.
Naota was able to tie the robe tight around his waist (thank god), but not above that, so it exposed his chest and upper stomach with literally every other step. He thought that the woman did it on purpose, and said as much to Atomsk.
Of course, she did it on purpose! But what are you going to do? said Atomsk.
"What is it?" the woman asked.
"Just thinking," Naota said. He looked at the food she had given him. It looked like ramen, but it did not taste like ramen. Not bad, per se, but different. Alien. Naota's brother had told him how weird the food in America tasted, and that was still on the same planet. What did he expect here, on the other side of the galaxy?
"So, boy, what's your name?"
"That's a strange name."
"It comes from my people's word for 'honesty,'" Naota said.
" 'Honesty,' I like it."
"What's your name?"
"Rehara. So, what are you doing here…Honesty?"
"Please, call me 'Naota.' I came here looking for someone, actually," Naota said.
"Anyone I'd know?" Rehara asked.
"It would be an amazing coincidence if you knew her--"
Tell her! ordered Atomsk.
"--but her name is Ha--, I mean, Raharu. Haruhar Raharu," Naota said.
"Her name is Ha-- I mean, Raharu. Haruhar Raharu," Naota said.
Rehara was suddenly suspicious. "Why are you looking for Raharu?"
What should I tell her? Naota asked.
Tell her about your feelings for Raharu, Atomsk said.
"I'm in love with her," Naota said.
Rehara stared at him for a moment more, and then started laughing. And laughing. Laughing until she was bent over and tears were running down the sides of her face. "That bitch always was the lucky one."