When you got to the Verwest Academy that morning, one thing became blatantly obvious: Stella is avoiding you.
She was in your morning classes for today, and she hadn’t said a word. Just…stolen glances, you think. It’s hard to tell, but what slim chances you get to reach out with your telepathy are deeply conflicted. As you’d well expect.
…you know your reaction should be guilt, but really, the only thing you can think is that it’s kind of cute. What she was before could qualify as ‘tsundere’, although a substantially darker application of the term than you get in anime…but now, she really does seem to be playing that role!
Well, there’s plenty of time to worry about that later. Right now…
“Mou, Korri, funnels make perfect tactical sense!”
You have more important things to worry about!
Korri may be the same age as you, but she’s a year behind – so lunch is the time you get to spend together at sixth form. It’s not every day, of course, but it’s most days; it’s pretty unusual for you not to be glued at the hip at lunch time. (Korri feels safer when you’re around, after all.) It’s a time when you two get to talk about the important things!
“I’m just thinking, wouldn’t it be more efficient to launch the drones directly from the mothership, rather than rely on piloted machines to deliver them?” says Korri.
For once, Korri’s not in a hoodie; instead, she’s got a beat-up old band t-shirt that must’ve been printed years ago…hey, wait, The Electric Lady? Isn’t that on the nose again?!
W-well, never mind that, you need to defend your honor! “Mega-particle weapons are really strong! You can’t just have them aim directly at the battleship! Mou, don’t you remember how Char blew up all those ships in the Battle of Loum?! With that big anti-ship rifle and everything! Now if you make that a beam rifle, you’re in real trouble!”
Korri sips on her tumbler, and she looks markedly unconvinced. “I don’t think that was a very realistic depiction of space combat, Cibby.”
The two of you are seated in a corner of one of the school’s many enclosed gardens – there’s plenty of cloud cover, but the rain isn’t coming for a while yet, giving you a refreshingly not-completely-horribly-hot sensation for once, so you decided to make use of it. Some say the gardens are one of the seven mysteries of the Verwest Academy! And if you pass by the statue of Yurika-sama, you’ll be blessed by the goddess of yuri – no, wait, you’re making that up! (Although you do see couples make out here every now and again, including girls…)
“Minovsky particles! I’m telling you, it’s the Minovsky particles!”
“Visual range is still a long way in space, you know. Anyway, these psychics –”
“Not psychics, Newtypes!“
Korri sticks her tongue out! “I still don’t get the difference.”
“Look, psychics are clearly distinct from Newtypes, it says so in the novels! They’re beyond any ordinary psychic phenomena, which of course, are totally real and exist!” …wait, right, no, Korri doesn’t know that. “Uh…it was the Showa era, I guess?”
“Okay, so the idea is –”
Aaaaaaaaaaaaand then you see it.
A flash of blonde ringlets, a large bottle of water, corset and petticoats (are you using those terms right?) and a golden glance your way stepping into the garden…
A meeting of the eyes. No words in Stella’s thoughts, but a glance, a blush, a conflicted feeling.
You wave at Stella, but she turns away, and quickly settles into a corner as far away from you as possible…but still giving you glances as she unpacks her lunch.
“…is Stella still giving you the cold shoulder?” Korri asks, peeking over your own substantially-less-cold-shoulder. “It’s unusual to see her alone as much as she has been lately, you know?”
“Has she?” You hadn’t noticed, but maybe you weren’t paying attention to the things Korri does. “I guess usually she’s got a girlfriend or two around, at least. Or Nazakawa-kun.”
“I’ve seen her with Milia a fair bit – but I think they fight a lot? I don’t know, no one else seems to be talking about it.” Korri hums, wrapping her arms around your back. “You didn’t tell me how it went yet.”
“It went…um, surprisingly well? I think? I’m not sure yet.” At least, the glances she’s giving you are different, but what you did to her…you wouldn’t be surprised if, the morning after, she decided she didn’t like it after all. You don’t really know how effective your powers are in the first place, let alone when you crossed those lines. “Ehe. I think she might not dislike me as much? But, her acting like this is a bit worrying…”
“I’m sure it’ll work out okay,” Korri whispers. A-ah, there’s something weirdly sensual about this, but – but surely, that’s just in your own head, right? “If she’s important to you, if you want her to be close to you, it’ll work out. I just know it!”
You…if it’s Korri, you can almost believe it. When she tells you, to do your best, you feel as if you can do anything…even if the reality falls short, you still take such great strength in her friendship toward you. Maybe you might want too much, but…she’s given so much. No matter what, she’s always there to stick up for you – even when she knows you’re wrong.
(…maybe that’s why you don’t want to tell her about that kiss.)
“It’s only natural, Cibby. I think people are noticing you a bit more!”
“I guess a bit?” There have been more glances tossed your way, but it’s hard to know what they mean. Charisma 2 is supposed to be ridiculously pretty, but that isn’t going to undo your reputation overnight. (Or maybe you just have so little Adaptability, you can’t tell? It seems like it governs ‘social awareness’, at least.) “Maybe Stella’s noticing me, but…I don’t know if it’s a good thing yet.”
(Your lips tingle as you think of that kiss – and in that very same moment, you swear you can see Stella touching her fingers to her lips, and linger there.)
(Ah, is she thinking of you? How does she feel about that kiss? If she was afraid, would she move? She –)
“Ah, Cibby, you were saying? About Newtypes?”
“O-oh, right!” Good, a distraction! W-wouldn’t wanna stare too much! You cross your arms and huff confidently – it’s not the first time you’ve talked about this with Korri, but a reminder never hurts. “Ahem. Founded under the philosophies of Zeon Deikun, Contolism consists of two distinct yet interconnected components – ‘Ere-ism’, the inherent sacredness of the planet Earth and humanity’s destiny to leave it behind; and ‘Side-ism’, the material and political independence of the space colonies from the Earth Federation, in order to achieve this end!
“Reaching space is merely the next step in humanity’s evolution – and from the sea of stars will emerge a ‘new type’ of humanity, one capable of perfect communication and perfect understanding! No longer needing words to communicate, and able to comprehend perfectly the thoughts and emotions of others, such an existence would bring an end to concepts like ‘war’ or ‘hatred’, and –”
“That just sounds like psychics with extra steps, Cibby.”
“Mouuuuuuu…it’s an ideal, really.” You sigh to yourself. Korri really doesn’t get it, huh? “The Universal Century of Gundam is defined by war. Even if they kept failing at it, even if they weren’t good people, villains like Char Aznable or Haman Karn still held somewhere in their hearts the hope that human beings could come to understand one another if they left the Earth behind. Right to the very end, there were people who were trying to come together in perfect understanding, whether they had psychic powers or not – even if they never managed to reach it.”
“But you need the psychic powers to be a Newtype in the first place, right?”
You shake your head. “Looking at the powers is missing the point – as countless leaders had, seeking to use it for war. It’s not a supernatural power that makes a Newtype, it’s the willingness to pursue that ideal.”
“I see…so it’s a forest for the trees thing, then. That makes sense! But if their entire existence is defined by the needs of a company that sells war toys, isn’t that very hope doomed to failure from the start?”
“You’ll have to take that up with Namco Bandai, which you’d need a time machine for…”
But Korri giggles a bit. “It would be nice, though, wouldn’t it? ‘Perfect communication’?”
“Y-yeah…” You rub the back of your head. “I can think of more than a few misunderstandings I’d like to fix.”
Your powers…’understanding’ is something they’ve brought you, but Thought Skimmer is quite a long way from perfect. And ‘perfect communication’…do your powers enable that, as well? You’re not sure mind control counts as ‘perfect communication’, if it’s just molding another’s thoughts to yours…but, according to meme theory –
Korri hugs your side, all of a sudden!
“It’s okay, Cibby! I know you’ll make it work.”
“I’ll, uh. Do my best!” You flash a peace-sign, trying to hide your nerves. S-someday Korri will know! Eventually! For now, just try and make her happy, right?
“Oh, hey, over there. That’s…Milia, right?” Korri points over your shoulder, and sure enough, in a distant corner of the garden, seemingly simply passing by – shiny ruby red hair, unmistakable. And next to her, pink hair, in a loose ponytail, a little shorter, a little more slight…”And isn’t that Li Xiao-Yin –”
“The mysterious Li Xiao-Yin?!”
“…do you have to say that every time?”
“Mouuu, she didn’t take that Mysterious Summer Course just to be called plain ol’ Li Xiao-Yin, you know!” Well, not really, but it feels wrong to not refer to her by that title. “Looks like they’re fighting, though, to me.” Certainly, the air around them seems pretty hostile, though it’s way too far away to hear – plus, y’know, it’s Milia. You’ve only ever seen her be nice to the people in her Debate Club, as far as you can remember. “Maybe they’re dating?!”
“Is Xiao-Yin even into girls?” asks Korri.
“No idea! She’s so mysterious, though…” You really should’ve picked the Literature Club, but – point of pride, you wanna stick with what you’ve done. That said, looks like Stella noticed too; rather than persist here to stew in her tsundereness, a single sarcastic wave from Milia is enough to send her packing…and then Xiao-Yin is needling Milia again, pink against red as blonde flees the scene. Guess that club rivalry is real!
“I’ve heard Milia likes to taunt Stella a lot,” Korri whispers, as if the two of you could be overheard. “The two don’t get along at all.”
“Makes sense. Milia’s monogamous, I can’t imagine Stella’s habits sit well with her.” Which just feels weird to you. Must be a rich girl thing – tradition and all that. Most people haven’t grown up like you, with poly relationships being a normal part of family life, but being so insistent about it is pretty rare for people your age.
Hm. Does Milia know Stella’s secret? The de L’Impératrices would travel in a lot of the same circles; most of the noble families still have a lot of financial interests, from what you understand. Holding something like that over her would be cruel, but you wouldn’t put anything past Milia at this point –
Stella’s gaze, even at this distance, meets yours for the briefest of moments. Her mind, open to your own, as you see her touch her lips.
Who are you, Cibele?
You touch your own lips, as Stella fades into the halls, tantalized by the possibilities.
Could she – would she – did she?
“…oh, what about that thing, a couple decades after the first war, where a space unicorn discovers that Newtypes were supposed to be part of the government of space? Several decades before anyone knew they existed?”
O-oh. Right. Korri’s still here. Ehe. Friend now, gay later!
“Eugh, Laplace’s Box?” you mutter, laughing to yourself, even as your gaze lingers into the distance. “Even I can’t explain that one!”
Improves situational awareness. Improves emotional intelligence. Sharpen senses. Improves sense of danger and common sense. In addition, improves the effectiveness of the Telepathy skill tree. Increase through observation and reading of emotions or use of Telepathy skills.
Thinking ahead and situational awareness aren’t quite our things either. But, you’ll have more than enough to spare. Enough to even understand the frosty Calvina…don’t you want to know what’s in her heart? What it is you can do to make her happy, so happy she’ll never leave your side?