Disclaimer: Fafner and its characters be not mine, they be Xebec/Hisashi Hirai's.
Author's note: Bloody hell, I finally updated this fanfic! The thing is I had originally planned for this story to be in two parts; the first set during episodes 23/24, the second during episode 25/26. But part two just kept getting longer, so eventually, this evening, I decided to split it into three. So now I'm posting chapter two (lol, which I actually started back in 2007, as soon as I'd finished part one).
Right, so this chapter is set mostly during episode 25. And also a few of the scenes in it are based on official Fafner promotional art (such as the scenes 'in Soushi's mind' that are based on the picture of poor uke-looking Soushi being restrained/groped by the golden Festum tentacles. Surely everybody must have seen that picture by now?).
And just a note of warning, this part contains a non-consensual Festum/Soushi moment (which is the main reason this chapter took so damn long to write. I felt so mean as I wrote it. Sorry, Soushi...). If you've read my latest 'Days of Blue' chapter, you might remember what Soushi said about assimilation:
"As my body was being assimilated, my mind couldn't comprehend it in any other way than, well, sex – becoming one the way that humans do. And so to me, it was like I was being raped."
So baring that in mind, enjoy the new chapter.
ALL ALONE IN THE NIGHT: PART TWO
"The Festum tried to use your power against you, but they could not control it. And so they have kept alive the one who can."
"You mean the person who operates the Siegfried System?"
"Yes. A human called Minashiro Soushi."
Kazuki could scarcely believe it; Soushi was still alive. This changed everything, now he had a new purpose; he had to rescue Soushi.
And they'd even been given a method for combating the assimilation effects by that Festum in his mother's form, so even if Soushi had been assimilated, they could help him now.
They'd tested the assimilation treatment on Sakura right away, and she'd actually begun to respond to it, much to Kenji's delight.
After explaining their new plan of action, Fumihiko had dismissed the pilots, urging them to get some rest; they had a long day ahead of them tomorrow.
But Kazuki was just lying back in bed, staring up at the ceiling, feeling wide awake. He just kept mulling over the events of the day, and remembering the joy that had flooded through him upon hearing those words.
"He's alive," Kazuki murmured excitedly. "Soushi's alive."
The Festum hadn't actually blown up the Siegfried System; somehow they'd managed to transport it - and Soushi - to the north-pole, where the enemy Mir was.
"I hope he's alright. I hope he's not... badly assimilated."
It didn't matter, they could still help him.
"I wonder what's happening to him right now," Kazuki said sleepily. "When we get back home, I'm going to do it; I'm going to tell Soushi how I feel about him. Even if he doesn't feel the same way, I have to at least tell him."
"Anata wa soko ni imasu ka?"
With great effort on his part, Soushi forced his aching eyes open. "Where am I? What happened?" he whispered.
He couldn't remember it all that clearly, just in pieces; being trapped inside the system; the assimilation crystal covering his body; Kazuki trying to set him free; the feeling of being separated from his body; Kazuki chasing after the Festum.
Soushi looked around the barren place that he found himself in. An odd humming sound radiated through the air, making his head feel fuzzy, making everything feel oddly surreal.
The sky was pitch-black and streaked with fiery orange and red clouds. The ground was also dark, and seemed to stretch on endlessly.
Soushi tried to move forward; he let out a muffled gasp as his body was jerked backwards.
"I can't move. Why can't I move?"
Finally summoning the strength, Soushi tilted his head and glanced down at himself.
"-What is this...?"
He was shocked to find that he was being restrained by a multitude of bright gold and orange Festum tentacles - the same kind that had tried to assimilate the Siegfried system. They wove tightly around his whole body, holding him firmly in place.
Soushi cried out as a sharp pain shot through his left eye. He felt another tentacle wrapping itself around his neck, forcing his head back.
"Help," he whispered, voice filled with pain as he tried not to start crying. "Help me... Kazuki."
Soushi looked up at the sound of his voice. Kazuki was there, appearing seemingly out of nowhere. The brunette's flight-suit was torn and burnt in places, his face dripping with sweat as he limped towards Soushi, a hand clutching a particularly bad looking burn mark on his shoulder.
"Kazuki!" Soushi said breathlessly, straining against his binds. "You're here! How did you get here?"
"In my Fafner," Kazuki panted, coming to a stop before Soushi. He looked up at the blond with glistening eyes. "I followed that Festum here. I... I thought that you were dead."
Soushi shook his head fiercely. "No, I'm not dead. I'm still here. I'm so glad you came for me. I- You-"
Soushi's eyes widened in surprise as Kazuki reached out his un-injured arm, and cupped Soushi's cheek in his palm. He couldn't help but flush at the tenderness of his touch; soft and reassuring; it made him believe that maybe he'd somehow make it out of here alive.
Kazuki smiled and brushed his fingers across heated flesh. "Of course I came to save you," he whispered, beginning to blush himself. "I can't live without you, because I... I love you."
Soushi felt his heartbeat speed up. "What?" he whispered in disbelief.
"I love you," Kazuki repeated with more confidence this time.
"But, but...," Why was he telling him this now, in this place? It all felt so strange to Soushi.
"What's wrong? Don't you love me, too?"
"No, I do love you. I've loved you for as long as I can remember, but-"
Soushi didn't get a chance to finish, as suddenly Kazuki's mouth was covering his. Soushi gasped at the unexpectedness of it, and Kazuki used this opportunity to slip his tongue inside, exploring the heat of Soushi's mouth.
Regardless of how bizarre the situation may have been, Soushi did love Kazuki very much, and so he closed his eyes and returned the kiss enthusiastically.
"Soushi," Kazuki whispered, his voice sounding deeper than usual.
"What is it?"
"Are you there, Soushi?"
"Kazuki?" Soushi said questioningly, opening his eyes again.
And suddenly it wasn't Kazuki in front of him anymore. The figure twisted and merged into that blond Festum; the Festum who had talked to him earlier, attacked the island and kidnapped him.
"You!" Soushi cried out, struggling anew to free himself as the blond Festum regarded him with an unreadable expression on its face.
"We do not understand why you struggle," said the Festum, raising its hand to Soushi's face in much the same way the phantom Kazuki had.
Soushi flinched; he was nauseated by the fact that it had been this Festum touching him, and not Kazuki.
"Let me go!" he said, trying the wrench his head away from the Festum's cold hand.
"We cannot do that," replied the Festum. "We do not understand how to use this."
"This?" repeated a puzzled Soushi. "What are you talking about?"
"We do not understand how to use this machine. But you do, and so we must keep you here, so that you can help us fight."
"Help you fight who?"
"The children of Alvis. They are coming here to destroy us. So you will help us fight them by using this machine."
"The machine is... the Siegfried System?" Soushi whispered. "Wasn't I in it just now? Yes, I remember; the assimilation crystal had covered me up to my shoulders... So how am I in this place now?"
Soushi turned to look questioningly at the Festum, but a wave of dizziness passed over him, and he shut his eyes to block out the feeling.
When he opened them again he was back in the Siegfried System, his body still covered in the green crystals, the sky still dark and alien.
Soushi swallowed and tried to regain his composure, whispering shakily, "The Festum are playing with my mind again, making me hallucinate. I hope Kazuki and the others get here soon; if they even know that I'm here. I don't know how much more of this I can take..."
The night before the final battle, Kazuki dreamt. The dreams came in fragments; each of them short, but vivid.
In the first dream he was in his flight-suit, floating in the ocean. His vision was blurred as he drifted deeper into the murky water. He blinked, trying to get his eyes working again, but that just seemed to make it worse.
And then, through the gathering darkness, he could make out a figure, pale and shining above him.
The vision reached out his hand, caressing Kazuki's tired features.
"Shhh, it's OK. Don't be afraid, Kazuki. I won't let you fall," Soushi murmured comfortingly.
The darkness was all around him now, with Soushi being his only source of light. He accepted the hand that was offered to him, grasping it tightly.
"I'll show you the way back home, Kazuki. I promise."
"Soushi, I love..."
And then the dream suddenly changed.
Soushi was before him, the assimilation crystals covering him up to his neck. The crystals and Soushi were glowing gold, like a Festum.
"Please, Kazuki... help me! There's not much time left!" Soushi begged, his voice strained, tears threatening to fall as he gazed at Kazuki fearfully.
"I'm coming, Soushi! Hold on!" Kazuki stumbled forward, his right eye throbbing beneath its bandage. He ignored the pain as he pressed on. He had to get to Soushi. Not much time left... Not much time... I'm almost there...
Kazuki reached out and pressed his hand against the crystal.
And it shattered.
Kazuki woke up screaming. He gasped for air, his body covered in a cold sweat.
"No! Soushi, come back!"
When he finally managed to calm down and get back to sleep, the last dream was far more pleasant.
Kazuki was standing on the beach, gazing out at the water, listening to the wind. The sky was clear and azure, just as it should be. Everything about this island was just as it should be.
He waded out into the water, almost revelling in the sensation of the water soaking into his dark blue Alvis uniform.
He felt at peace; like he'd come to the end of a very long journey, and now he could finally rest. Closing his eyes, he breathed it all in.
Maybe this was paradise after all.
He opened his eyes as he felt a presence behind him. He didn't need to turn around to see who it was; he already knew. He'd been waiting.
"Soushi," he whispered, as Soushi wrapped his arms around his waist, and rested his head on his shoulder.
"Kazuki, I'm here."
Kazuki awoke soon after that dream. It had left him filled with the odd combination of happiness and sadness. He didn't know what to think of it. And he couldn't help but feel apprehensive of the battle to come.
All he knew for certain was that today he would see Soushi again. And that's all that he needed.
Soushi closed his eyes and let loose a cry of pain as a sharp pulse of energy suddenly raced through his mind.
'That Festum must be crossing with the system again,' Soushi thought in his dazed state.
Sure enough, multiple view-screens popped up all around him, that blond Festum's smirking face present on the centre one.
"Child of Alvis, teach us the true fighting method," it ordered him.
Soushi ignored its demand, still gasping painfully, struggling in a futile attempt to break free from the assimilation crystals that covered his body.
"Now you are going to destroy the humans on this land," the Festum continued coldly.
'The humans on this land?' Soushi thought, his head thumping in pain. 'That means the others must be here. Kazuki is here...'
"K-k-Kazuki..." Soushi whispered in a cracked voice, closing his eyes. He was... afraid.
"You will help us, child of Alvis, the Festum said, its voice sounding much closer than before.
"No, I won't do it!"
Soushi opened his weary eyes as the pain abruptly lessened, and saw that the Festum was hovering right in front of him, still with that odd smirk on its face.
"You will do what we tell you, Child of Alvis," the Festum said, its cold breath stinging like ice against Soushi's face. "We wish to become one with you."
"What?" Soushi moaned weakly. The world twisted around him and once again he found himself bound by the gold and orange Festum tentacles, suspended in the strange dark world of nothingness.
"Once we become one, you will do as we say," the Festum's voice suddenly came from behind him.
It was then that Soushi realised his body was bare, and a wave of sickness passed over him when it dawned on him what the Festum intended to do. He blushed as the Festum pressed itself against him from behind, sliding its hands down his sides to rest upon his hips.
'No. This isn't happening. It isn't real. My body is still inside the Siegfried System, trapped in the assimilation crystals. This is all just an illusion,' Soushi thought erratically as the Festum positioned itself. 'But I guess this is the only way my brain can comprehend assimilation… as sex.'
He wanted to run away and hide. But this was all inside his mind and so there was no place left for him to hide. He couldn't escape.
Soushi screamed loudly as the Festum entered him roughly, sheathing itself fully in one agonising movement. Soushi fell limply against his bonds, mouth open, gasping in shock and pain.
Pain. So much pain. It hurt so much. He knew it could be painful at first, but this—it felt like he was being torn apart. Soushi bit down on his lip to keep from screaming again, tears trickling down his cheeks and then falling into the nothingness beneath him.
Soushi sobbed and whimpered as the Festum kept a steady rate of sharp, deep thrusts, its nails digging into Soushi's hips deep enough to draw blood.
If it had been Kazuki, he would have been gentle. Kazuki would have touched him with love and kindness. But the Festum knew nothing of such things, they had only learned about anger and hatred.
'Kazuki, please get here soon…'
Kazuki stared at the scene before him with wide, amazed eyes. There were Neo UN planes and submarines as far as the eye could see – thousands of them. But surrounding them were Festum in equal numbers.
This was certainly going to be a battle to remember.
But they weren't here for a battle; they were here to rescue Soushi and to fulfil the request of the Festum in his mother's form.
All of the Neo UN's machines seemed to be focusing their fire on the huge pyramid shaped object in the sky. Kazuki's group knew from the information they'd received that this was just a distraction and that the real heart of the enemy was hidden elsewhere.
Blasting the Festum out of their way, the four Fafners headed towards the secret entrance.
"Come on everyone, this way!" Kazuki called to his friends.
"Right!" the other three pilots replied in unison, their minds linked together by the system.
'Soushi, I'm almost there,' Kazuki thought, frowning in determination as they broke their way through the wall. 'Just hold on for a little while longer…'
end of part two
I feel like such an arse for doing that to Soushi. But it had to be written. And there'll be more of it to come in chapter three...