A/N: I should note that I'm not very confident in writing backstory, so any and all advice is much appreciated. Speaking of reviews, I'd like to thank everyone who has reviewed the story or favourited/alerted. As you can probably tell, I had lots of fun writing Epsilon. But who doesn't?
Oh, Kappa said. She didn't really blame him. To go from a presumably nice, cosy computer… or whatever, to the mind of a girl with at least one potentially traumatising memory couldn't be fun. Ada really hoped he couldn't actually feel the physical pain that the memory usually brought for her –getting stabbed was not an enjoyable experience, and the ghost pain was only a slight improvement.
Kappa was trying to process the information, less from a 'what happened' point of view than a 'why did it happen' perspective.
It happens, Kappa, she told him. It was true: muggings and muggings-gone-wrong weren't unheard of. The bastards knew we had money, so they tried to grab it. Jem fought back. He got stabbed, I got stabbed. He died, I got better. Though with one hell of a scar to show for it. The guy who'd hurt her was unpractised, and either didn't put all his force into the hit (meaning he might've been too scared) or was just plain sloppy. Missed the spine by a mile, too.
You froze. Kappa's voice was not accusatory, more pondering.
Ada froze and couldn't fight back. And then Jem had died.
Yeah. I froze.
That was a normal reaction, Kappa assured her, picking up on her discomfort. You were shocked. It couldn't happen again.
Who says? she snapped. Ada could almost feel Kappa mentally flinch. This happened less than two freakin' years ago. Not a whole lot of time for growing up.
In the last nineteen months, you've joined the military, gone through basic with Am– Kentucky and did so well that you were both selected for a classified military project. You've been on dozens of missions, and are now one of the top ten of that project. Then, almost smugly, You didn't freeze through any of that.
Kappa was very good at digging up memories, calling her back to the day she'd joined the Project with Kenni, when the Director has said something quite similar:
"Sir, if you do know about the… incident," the young private tentatively repeated the word the man had used, "then why exactly would you choose me?"
The man looked at her, as if bored. "Theresa –may I call you Theresa?" She preferred Terri, but nodded anyway. "Theresa, when someone has done that with those kinds of consequences, they tend not to repeat the same mistake. Your psych profile supports that. Now, do we have a deal or not?"
Ada shook herself back into the present. "Fair point," she said out loud. "You make me sound like such a badass."
"Better?" Kappa asked, silvery hologram appearing once again. Rather than her brother and the shit that dug up, he had chosen the form of a pre-teen boy, wearing jeans and a t-shirt. With his make-everything-better demeanour (not to mention his voice), that form suited him much better. It also looked vaguely familiar, meaning it was probably also taken from one memory or another.
"Much," she smiled. Maybe having another voice in her head wouldn't be so bad? So long as they got the privacy part down, Kappa seemed nice.
"What happened?" Sigma asked. "You just stared off into space for three minutes (and fifteen seconds). We thought you were fighting. Like, maybe some sort of 'get out of my head' fight like they have in movies, where Nevada uses her imagination to summon all sorts of crazy monsters and get superpowers and –"
Maine's growl interrupted him.
"Well… I did suggest it, but you said 'maybe'," Sigma snapped. "…Or was that sarcasm?" Maine nodded. "Oh."
"Ah, don't worry, Sig. you'll get used to it," a new voice said. Next to Wash's helmet (which had been thrown haphazardly on the bedside table) stood a pint-sized soldier in Mark VI armour, coloured blue and, for whatever reason, holding a sniper rifle. "Surprised you haven't quite gotten it already. I mean, you have been stuck with Mu for weeks."
"Good to see you, too, Epsilon."
"See! You're getting better already! I'm so proud," Epsilon sneered. His 'head' turned towards Kappa, then Ada, then Maine. "Hey, guys… and girl. Nice to meet ya."
"…Hi?" Ada said. Maine growled.
"Hi, Ep!" Kappa greeted. "How are you?"
"Fine," Epsilon said. "Helmet's pretty roomy."
"Hey… Epsilon?" Ada asked. Epsilon turned his attention to her. "Uh, could you have appeared at any point in the last few minutes, or so?"
"Yeah. First I was processing some stuff, and then I figured you guys were more entertaining to watch. Except for when you two began acting like all soap opera-y," Epsilon continued, indicating Kappa and Ada. "That was boring. Although, the whole punching-out-the-medic thing redeems you a little."
Idly, Ada wondered if people would keep bringing that up.
He's pleasant, Ada thought.
Really? I didn't think you liked him.
Kappa, I know I told you no more rooting through my brain… but if we're gonna work together, you need to understand sarcasm. Look around until you know the definition.
Ok, Kappa replied. And then, Seriously, Epsilon's nice. He's just… not good with new people.
"Hey, what's with my guy?" Epsilon asked.
"Maybe he's still recovering from having a part of another mind in his head," Sigma offered. "FILSS's tests did show you were one of the more complex structures. Actually, that was why he was ruled out for use in Nevada's procedure."
"Could be," Kappa agreed.
"Or maybe I just got stuck with the lazy Freelancer," Epsilon griped. "Great. I get stuck with the lazy one, Kappa gets the soap opera star –"
"–and Sigma gets the… it would be a pretty low blow to say 'mute' wouldn't it?"
Maine growled something that required no translation.
"You kiss your mother with that mouth?" Epsilon asked. Then, back on topic, "Yeah, I figured it would be. So I'm just going to say 'dumb muscle' and leave it at that."
Sigma instantly jumped to his host's defence, saying that, as with all Freelancers, Maine's intelligence was above average, thank you very much. Epsilon made a snarky reply, and Kappa softly told him that Sigma had a point. Epsilon turned on Kappa, being a little nicer than he was to Sigma, but not much. Sigma told Epsilon to stop picking on Kappa, and Epsilon immediately turned back to him, complaining that he was being ganged-up on.
Maine and Ada glanced at each other, agreeing to sit this one out. She had no desire to be on the receiving end of Sigma's more… creative insults, and Kappa was getting a little practise in sarcasm.
A/N: So, there's Ada's backstory, which is actually one up on half of the things I've imagined for some of the other Freelancers… which I may or may not get around to writing about. Anyway, my summer break's over in about a week, and I'm not sure how that'll effect updates. Probably not much. Honestly, I think I might post more often because there's not a whole lot of 'inspiration' around when you're stuck in your house.