Regene Regetta was different than the other Innovades in more ways than one. Of course there was the fact that he knew the true plan, the shape of it before Ribbons had stuck his inelegant fingers into it and rummaged around. Right now, though, as he waited for the pieces to fall into place, as he waited for Tieria to be ready to have contact with him, there was another difference that troubled him.
He was far more susceptible to boredom than the other Innovades.
Oh, he could play with his supposed family if he liked. Hilling and Revive would provide brief entertainment, especially if they squabbled with each other. Teasing Ribbons would give him some respite from the tedium. But it was the people aboard that ship that lured him. The Ptolemaios was full of such fascinating people.
There was Setsuna F. Seiei, of course, the potential key to the success of the true plan. Regene would be quite interested in him later, he knew, but right now, someone else drew his attention. Someone with the same glow of quantum brainwaves as an Innovade (no, not quite the same; they weren't as good), but so much damage clustered around them. From his quiet, unassuming viewpoint in Tieria's head, Regene could see the way Allelujah Haptism's brain lit up, broken but bright. He could see the way a knife of injury ran through the brightest light, transfixing its source to the back of Allelujah's skull. Keeping him pinned there, alive but trapped.
That feeling most of all intrigued Regene. Surely Hallelujah was as bored as he was.
It was easy to take control of certain parts of Tieria's brain. Some remained locked off to him, but those were mostly inconsequential places, like the neurons that held his feelings for his fellow crew members, living and dead. But the part that controlled his quantum brainwaves languished unused without access to Veda. Regene slid into it like water seeping into cracks and prying them ever more open as it froze and thawed and froze again. Safely in there, Regene began to use more advanced techniques of Innovation. He could see what he needed to do to loosen the knife that held Hallelujah pinned--all it would take was a great enough burst of GN particles, and there were plenty of those around here. Regene waited, and whenever the opportunity presented itself, he gathered the particles, storing them in that unused space in Tieria's brain. He knew there might be some side effects--perhaps Tieria would dream too much, or experience a vision or two after the particles had been discharged--but they were nothing he would get in trouble for, nothing that would endanger the plan.
If Ribbons found out and got worked up over it, that would be a bonus.
As he waited, Regene watched Allelujah. It seemed strange that such a gentle man could house someone so fascinating inside his brain. But then, it wasn't so different than what he was doing to Tieria--except that Hallelujah belonged there. Regene wondered if that made it less fun.
After watching a few of Celestial Being's missions--and gathering the stray GN particles from them--Regene had a new plan of his own.
* * *
It was dark, Tieria realized; it must be the Ptolemaios' designated night time. Why was he out of his quarters? He thought he had been sleeping. He knew he had no intention of moving about right now. In fact, although he was walking, the motion didn't even seem to come of his own will. No, no, this was not right. Tieria had learned how to exert his own will four years ago; what was different now? In a panic, he tried to seize back control.
But a voice came to him from somewhere inside his head and everywhere around him:
"Relax, Tieria. It's all right. I'm here with you."
Lockon, he wanted to say, but he couldn't move his mouth. It was all right, though, if Lockon said it was--and he knew it was Lockon, the right Lockon, his Lockon. Everything in his mind told him so.
* * *
In the darkness of his quarters, Allelujah woke with a start. Someone else had made their way into his room. He jumped to his feet immediately, ancient training kicking in. "Who's there?"
For a long moment, there was no reply from the darkness. But Allelujah's eyes started to adjust to the faint lighting, and he realized, to his bemusement, that the shape approaching him now was that of Tieria Erde. "Tieria...?"
"No," said another voice. "I'm not Tieria." It came from Tieria's form, but it wasn't Tieria's. It wasn't a new voice, though--not at all.
Allelujah dashed forward to seize hold of the intruder in the darkness. "Marie!" It only occurred to him after a few seconds to wonder what she was doing here, and why her silhouette looked so much like Tieria's. He paused. "Marie, what's going on?"
"I've come for you, Allelujah," said Marie's voice. Allelujah was sure it was Marie's voice. "Just lie back down."
Then there was a hand on his shoulder, and that touch sparked strange thoughts in his brain: thoughts of Marie holding him, Marie being there for him, Marie reassuring him that the pain of his long, long separation from her was finally over. He couldn't possibly resist it.
But another presence was stirring in his brain, he felt. One he'd thought long gone, although not nearly as long gone as Marie's treasured touch. It should have made him afraid, but it did not. He could feel, just out of reach, the sense of violence twitching at his fingertips. He could feel the familiar heat of pent-up anger (anger that could be something else; he recalled days when it had transformed into lust, and he'd hidden away, shamefully absorbed in the ecstasy of his own hidden self) returning to the pit of his stomach.
Something about Marie (surely it was Marie, who else could make him feel this way?) being so close made him feel Hallelujah again, and Allelujah did not mind. He was almost, almost whole. Without protest, he sank backwards onto the bed.
Marie took hold of one of his hands and stroked it--her own hands were just a little too big, and that was strange, but he couldn't hold onto that thought, because she spoke again. "I'm going to do something to you, Allelujah. Don't be afraid."
"I can't be afraid of you, Marie. I can't."
"I know," she said, and she took something off from her waist. It was a length of braided cording. Her fingers didn't seem quite soft enough, but that didn't matter, because it was Marie, and he could trust her, even as she tied him to the bed, hands and feet and all.
* * *
Regene marveled at how easy it was to manipulate these people. He knew that time among humans had changed Tieria, but who would have thought he'd fold so completely at the mere voice of one dead man, summoned via stray GN particles? It would have been shameful if it weren't so amusing. As for Allelujah--
That was more intriguing still. From the way the quanta shifted and charged inside his brain where they were trapped, Regene could tell that Hallelujah was strong, stronger than any ordinary human had any right to be. More and more, this wasn't just an idle game to amuse himself--he wanted to meet this Hallelujah. And he wanted to see how this Hallelujah reacted when stimulated.
Allelujah was fully tied down now, his mind floating away in thoughts of Marie Perfacy. It would be easy to bring Hallelujah out--with the GN particles so close to the surface now, Regene could already feel him stirring.
It was time for the main event. With a thought, Regene released the rest of the particles in a single blow sweeping towards Allelujah's head.
* * *
Hallelujah opened his eyes. "What has that idiot gotten me into now?" He looked up at the shape above him in the dim light. This close, he could see glasses gleaming so very faintly. "Did he really believe that you were our Marie? That just proves how much he needs me."
"Humans do seem to need each other," said Tieria, poised above him. "It's a weakness of theirs. But you...you only need your other self."
"That's why we're the true super soldier," he said, "and she's just an entertaining diversion. And our Marie." He had to add that, even if he'd need to wait until Allelujah worked up more of a spine to actually see her. "You don't think you can kill me like this, do you?"
"Kill you?" Tieria smirked; with his eyes fully adjusted to the dim lighting now, and the delusions of Marie no longer troubling him, Hallelujah could easily make out his expressions. "What would that accomplish?"
"It'd make this place a lot safer," Hallelujah said, and he grinned. "But you wouldn't be able to do it. You think these will hold me?" He tugged at one rope.
"Hah!" Hallelujah flexed his fingers. "I could tear the whole bed apart if I wanted." It was fairly sturdy, so doing so would leave its mark on their shared body. Hallelujah wasn't too worried about that. He figured the pain would be a good lesson for Allelujah.
"Now that's even more interesting," Tieria said. "Luckily for both of us, I'm not here to kill you." He knelt down and began to undo the lacing on those ridiculous pajama pants that Allelujah always wore to bed, settling one hand on Hallelujah's bare stomach as he worked.
"Oh, is that all?" Hallelujah was still grinning. "You didn't even need to tie me up for that--you know how frustrated I get in that idiot virgin's body? I always wondered whether you had a kinky pervert hidden in there. Now I know for sure. You didn't do a good job of hiding it."
Tieria stood up with a laugh. "Who do you think I am, Hallelujah Haptism?"
"You're Tieria Erde, aren't you? The prissy bitch who pilots--Seravee, now."
"Oh, no," said the person wearing Tieria's body. "I like you, Hallelujah, so you can call me Regene. You might say I'm Tieria's you."
"No," Hallelujah said. "I would never say that. Allelujah and I are one of a kind. You're something else. But at least you're more fun than being stuck in there under the world's most inconvenient brain injury, so let's fuck."
Regene pulled Allelujah's pants the rest of the way down, until they reach where Hallelujah's legs were tied together. "I'm glad we're in agreement," he said.
* * *
Tieria didn't think to question why Lockon was here, or how. He couldn't. All he could do was marvel at how good it felt to touch him this way--
--even if his skin was not quite the right shade, the noises he made not in quite the right voice. The voice that murmured to him inside his head was the right one, so nothing else mattered.
* * *
Allelujah couldn't bring himself to wonder why Marie had finally come to him, after resisting so strongly. All he knew was that she was here, and he was grateful, as he had always been grateful to her. He didn't need to think; Hallelujah was doing that for him. He didn't need to feel anything other than Marie's hands all over him, holding him down. That was more than enough.
* * *
"For a human activity," Regene said after they were done, "that was very interesting."
"You fuck good for some kind of robot," Hallelujah agreed. "What do you think would be the most fun to tell Tieria and Allelujah?"