Author's Note: This story came about one day as the end result of a conversation between my friends and I. We were goofing around, and then I mentioned that somebody should write a story that combines moe with something incredibly manly, like mecha. There the matter would have rested, if my friends did not take it seriously. But they did, and as the originator of the idea, I was the one allowed to write it. For some reason, the vast majority of fics in the Manga section are the same old thing, either Magical Girl stories or high school romances (with or without supernatual elemets) repeated over and over again, with very little that is truly interesting. And so, this story is a parody of much of the stuff found at the Manga section, though it is not really an example of either thing I mentioned. This is just something lighthearted that I decided to write for NaNoWriMo, so without further ado, enjoy!
HYPER FIGHTING MACHINE MARMALADE!
Chapter 1: What was that?! The Adventure Begins!
It was a wondrously beautiful day at Koukou Academy. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and the temperature was a comfortable 72 degrees Fahrenheit. The perfect conditions for high schoolers to sit outside and relax, maybe talk about their day. Some more academically-minded schoolchildren deigned to make use of this time to study on tests and other time-consuming projects. The nerds. But one of these completely innocent high schoolers was unable to be involved in such lackadaisical pursuits. Moeko Paddington, a freshman at Koukou Academy, was all alone in her own world. You see, the poor girl was afraid of others, and was far too shy to engage in such activities as talking to her peers! Sitting on the sidelines, she tried to make it to her next class as quickly and quietly as possible. Little did she know that she would soon be thrust into a world of action and adventures of epic scale, a world of high-tech mecha battles, dramatic high-school romance, more action to keep up interest, exposition explaining the backstory behind all this, and last but not least, comedy to prevent the situation from becoming too depressing. Little Moeko would become caught up in a struggle to reveal the greatest secrets of the universe! Or maybe not, but it would still be epic.
Anyway, none of that was apparent to the child who shrunk back from social interaction like a violet. Although Koukou Academy was a high school, it was designed like a college campus, to prepare the students for later years. This meant that the classrooms were located in more than one building, and students needed to travel across the quad to reach some of their classes. As it happened, at that very moment our heroine, Moeko, was making her way to science class, located in the luxurious science building. A person could see the greenhouses the size of orchards which marked the outside boundary of the edifice, separating it from the rest of the campus. Koukou Academy, after all, was a place which only offered the best services available. The schoolgirl was in a rush as she was running late, having been delayed unnecessarily by daydreaming about… her crush. And who is this student that Moeko so longed for? None other than Reginald Darcy (yes, Darcy. All of you teenaged Jane Austen fans can lust after his bishiness now), a member of Koukou Academy's football team, the Koukou Cacao Beans. Yes, it was a stupid name, but some school administrator who shall not be named decided that it would funny to have a pun. The rest of the school was not amused, but could not agree on an alternate name, so the Cacao Beans it remained. But this is ignoring the true tragedy of the situation, which is that Reginald would never notice a shy kid like Moeko! How she wished that she had the courage to speak to him, but alas, it could never be. Oh, the sadness of it all!
The girl whose name literally means helplessness was running while recalling his handsome looks and glorious hair, and as a result did not notice the crowd approaching her from the opposite direction. And so, her path was blocked by another human being who brought her to a halt. Moeko stumbled a bit before managing to right herself, but the other teenager was not happy about the situation.
"Hey, watch where you're going!" yelled the angered teenaged boy. From the looks of him, he did not seem to be a person whom anybody wanted to mess with.
Moeko whimpered, "I'm sorry. I was just distracted and—"
"And what, little girl?" came the reply, "Your distraction caused you to bump into me. Nobodies like you are unworthy of touching me, even by accident! Now you will learn to stay out of my way. Ready boys?"
"Ready, boss!" grunted the two even larger and more hulking boys, one with blond hair and the other with black hair, dressed in stereotypical jock clothing. The members of the bully's posse promptly pushed poor darling little Moeko onto the ground and into a conveniently-placed mudpuddle! Isn't that a shame what they did to the poor girl?
Indeed, it seemed as if Moeko was going to cry. But before she could do what anime has taught us is the natural reaction of all girls who have even the slightest amount of cuteness whatsoever, she noticed her savior.
"Hey! Why don't you pick on someone your own size, you jerks?" a girl the same age as the victim of cruel bullying yelled. When Moeko saw who it was, she let out a sigh of relief. It was Amy Myers, Moeko's homeroom representative! If there was an injustice at school, Amy would take it upon herself to solve it.
The one responsible for the assault also knew who his confronter was, for even though Amy Myers was just a freshman, she had already acquired a reputation as a defender of the weak and downtrodden. This is how she managed to befriend Moeko—the girl wasn't completely isolated, but was still completely unknown to most people. Of course, she would not tolerate such a blatant example of bullying.
The mean jock roared, "Myers! Freshmen like you should stay out of the affairs of upperclassmen!"
"And you shouldn't pick on lowerclassmen!" the good girl retorted.
"Wait a minute. You're a freshman yourself, Myers," said the bully, advancing toward her, "You're overstepping your authority. Show a little respect!"
The overconfident teenage boy made a fist and punched Moeko's advocate in the face. The girl was shocked, and fell backwards. Her palms hit the pavement, and she looked up at her assailant.
Amy exclaimed, "You can't do this! I'm a homeroom representative! I will tell the student council!"
This deterred the two lackeys, as they did not want to get in trouble with the student council under any circumstances. At Koukou Academy, the student council was composed of only the most trusted students, and had nearly as much authority over the student body as the faculty itself.
The blond one said, "Boss, I know someone on the council. She's really a homeroom representative! We better not piss her off."
"Yeah, she could actually tell on us," the one with black hair added.
At this, their leader was actually worried. He knew what the student council did to suspected bullies, and as he could get kicked off the football team for misconduct, most definitely did not want to get punished.
"Er, fine!" he conceded, "You win this round, Myers, but rest assured, I shall not forget this! Come on, boys, let's leave."
As the three walked away in frustration, Amy helped Moeko back up to her feet.
The frightened girl said, "Thanks, Amy-chan."
"Don't mention it," replied the representative, "After all, what are friends for?"
Moeko complained, "I wish I could stand up to people like them! I don't want to be so weak and helpless. But there's nothing I can do…"
An astute observer may wonder why Moeko used a Japanese honorific, despite the fact that Koukou Academy was not located in Japan, or anywhere near those islands, at all, and all the students speak English. But ever since the Meiji Restoration of 1868, Japan had rigorously modernized and became a superpower, dominating all of Asia, and, like the United States and the British Empire, which controlled most of the other land area of Earth, heavily influenced life in other nations, even to the point of people like Moeko's father giving their children Japanese names. So, even though the student body of Koukou Academy was British, it had become fashionable among young people to sprinkle their dialogue with Japanese words and phrases. This practice was condemned by older generations, who objected to the "pollution of the English language with Orientalisms." That did not stop any teens from using honorifics, however.
Just then, a horrible realization dawned on Moeko. "AAAAHHH!" she screamed, "I'm late for class! 'Scuse me!"
She ran to the science building as quickly as she could, shoving her only friend aside.
"Ah, sorry I'm late, sensei! Gomen nasai!" yelled a flustered Moeko the instant she entered the classroom.
Her science teacher responded, "How many times have I asked you, Miss Paddington, to address me properly? This is Britain, we speak English, not Japanese. Just sit down and do not distract the rest of the class."
Moeko sheepishly looked at her classmates, who were all staring at her, and then sat down unnoticed.
Not that our heroine did not like the class, however. In fact, science was one of the few subjects that Moeko was truly good at. After all, her father was an engineer employed by the government, and because Ursus Paddington had no son, he wanted his daughter to follow in his footsteps. Fortunately for him, his daughter enjoyed the subject matter. So when school let out, Moeko would go to her father's workshop like a good little girl and help him work on his projects. Ursus Paddington's current efforts? He was contracted by none other than the armed forces themselves to design a new type of vehicle with potential military applications. No one could have known it at the time, but it would be this very vehicle that would catapult Moeko from being the shy girl at the back of the class to the one who would determine humanity's future. But as that is in the future, nobody cared.
And so, several hours later, the bell rang signaling the end of classes for the day. Moeko was one of the few students who went straight home at the end of the school day. Not only did she have work to do, but none of the cliques would let her in, as she was just too unnoticeable. It is doubtful that most of her schoolmates knew of her existence. So every day the shy girl would pass by all the groups of friends discussing their social lives, wishing that she could be a part of it but too timid to speak to anybody. Amy had student council meetings to go to, so after classes Moeko was alone. Even worse, from her position she could clearly see Reginald Darcy chatting away with his friends. Together, they made up the popular kids at Koukou Academy, forever eliminating any chance that Moeko may have had with the one she had a crush on. Isn't this terrible?
"Oh Reginald-kun," she said to herself sadly, "You wouldn't want anyone like me to be your girlfriend anyway. I'm so helpless that I can't do anything."
Moeko had no confidence in her abilities whatsoever. Does this not tug at your heartstrings? If you are not sorry for her, then truly you have no soul. Putting aside this matter, the poor defenseless little girl slowly walked home, wallowing in her own melancholy.
The journey home from Koukou Academy would have been completely uneventful, were it not for one incident which neither Moeko nor any other witness could conceivably ever forget. For halfway along the way, the girl encountered a most extraordinary individual. It was a male, about her age, dressed in what appeared to be a cross between a HAZMAT suit and a military uniform. The outfit was bizarre enough, but the man also had a very familiar looking pair of sideburns (though because his face was obscured by tinted sunglasses which nevertheless looked awesome, Moeko could not tell if she had seen him anywhere before), which, unlike ordinary sideburns, were not attached to the face at any point below the temple, but were merely long side bangs which flowed over the ears.
Without warning, the mysterious person called out, "Moeko, do not despair! Just believe in yourself, and realize your destiny!"
The girl in question did not know how to respond to that. How did he know her name? When she voiced this objection, the man exclaimed, "I am one who watches out for you! You may call me… Aniki!"
At this, Moeko simply stared straight at the one asking to be called Aniki, a single drop of sweat falling from the back of her head. She was so stunned that she did not notice Aniki take a giant leap and make his leave down the road.
After several minutes, she was finally able to say, "That guy sure was weird. Does he really watch out for me? I don't know if that's nice or creepy."
One thing was for certain, and that was that darling Moeko did not want to see the oddly-dressed personage again.
After seeing no more strange incidents like the one above, the schoolgirl finally arrived at her father's workshop. Moeko's mother died when she was very young, so her father had always been the one to take care of her, eventually deciding to teach her how he did his job. As has already been mentioned, that job involved inventing machines for the government. And the most recent project her father had been commissioned for was standing right in front of her.
The workshop's ceiling was twenty-five feet high. This was a fortunate circumstance, as the project that Ursus was working on needed all of that volume. Standing majestically, the newest application for the British military, a gigantic work of art and metal, possessed of a humanoid form, the most powerful war machine in existence, the Mechanical Giant, Hyper Fighting Machine Marmalade was in construction. To its side were two other mecha of the same design, designated as Jam and Relish, also in the last stages of completion.
Upon entering the room, Moeko was greeted by her father, who was eating a slice of bread topped with marmalade. He asked, "How was school today, Moeko?"
"I see. Well then, I could use your help. It's almost complete, but go up and screw in the plating on Marmalade," replied Ursus.
"I have a question," said Moeko. Surprisingly, her question was not about why her father trusted a teenager to be involved with a highly important government commission, but was possibly an even more fundamental question.
The girl asked, "Why is the mecha called Marmalade?"
"Because," replied her father between bites of his bread, "Marmalade is a truly marvelous fruit preserve!"
Moeko did not know how to respond to that. Regardless, she climbed up the scaffold with toolbox in hand and set about fixing the armor plating to the humongous machine. All of the machinery had already been constructed, and the plating was the only significant part left before Marmalade was fully operational. Because Moeko was good with tools, her father trusted her, that she would not make a serious mistake and set the project back for months. If he had known the consequences of this decision, Ursus Paddington may well have decided to attach the plating himself, but he did not, and so it went.
By this time, the teenaged girl had attached all the screws along the bottom portion of Marmalade's head. Now she had to attach the top end, and she would be done. She would need to climb the smooth blue surface of the magnificent machine to reach the top, and that could be a difficult task. After all, Moeko was not very athletic. But still, she must try.
She stretched her arms as far as she could to locate a handhold, and said, "All right then, let's do this."
She took a deep breath, and pulled herself up to the top. As the cockpit, which was wholly located inside the mecha's head, was open, she straddled herself over the edge, so that she could see both the inside of the cockpit and where she must drive the screws into the plating. From this position, she did just that.
Ursus noticed that she was finished and called, "All right, now carefully climb down!"
This was a problem. For unfortunately, Moeko was afraid of heights! She was able to climb things without much trouble, but was paralyzed with fear upon looking down! It was a curious condition, one which chose that moment to afflict the high school student.
"I'm sc-scared of falling," she stuttered.
"Just go down gently—"
Her father's advice was suddenly interrupted by a siren. The loud noise startled Moeko and caused her to fall from her lofty workstation. Fortunately, instead of meeting a grisly death twenty feet below, the timid schoolgirl fell in the direction of the cockpit, and landed harmlessly on the soft, padded chair. At that instant the machinery in the mecha operated, and Moeko was pricked with a needle, much to her horror, and the mechanical giant read her vital information.
"PILOT DETECTED," said a mechanical voice, "SPECIALIZATIONS CALIBRATED."
Down below, the cause of the warning sirens were made clear. The television in the workshop, which had been tuned to a sports game at the time, suddenly changed its programming, seemingly of its own accord. On the screen was a man's figure, dressed in dark clothes and covered in shadow.
Ursus yelled, "What's going on here? Who is the man on the screen?"
As if he could hear the question, the figure responded, "Greetings, humanity. We are the Antilovers, opposed to all love and procreation, and are broadcasting this message on every television station. It has come to our attention that humans' love for each other has reached unacceptable amounts, and the population of the Earth has reached seven billion. This cannot be tolerated, so we have decided to wipe out love by destroying humanity. You are a cancer on the planet and must be eliminated. Soon, you will all be gone."
In the workshop, Ursus and Moeko were startled by this news. None of it made sense. The Antilovers? Who were they? Why do they hate love enough to kill all humans? How would they go about it?
"That's ridiculous," muttered Ursus, "There is no way these guys are for real."
Suddenly, he was proved wrong. Through the large garage door of his workshop, he saw a fleet of what appeared to be insects in the sky. Closer inspection, however, revealed that the creatures were anything but insects.
"Impossible," Ursus gasped in astonishment, "The Antilovers have mecha? But the Marmalade project is top secret!"
However, the fact that the enemy airships consisted of mechanical giants was impossible to deny. Whoever had leaked the information would be punished, but there were more important things to do. Ursus knew that his daughter was currently in the cockpit of Marmalade, and that the mecha was operational. There was only one thing to do.
He picked up a radio and transmitted into Marmalade's cockpit, "Moeko, I know that you're in the cockpit. Now, Marmalade was designed to calibrate itself to the first person to enter the cockpit after it is activated. After the calibration, only that first person is capable of piloting it. Since you fell in the cockpit, Marmalade has been calibrated to your vital signs, and that means that you must be its pilot. It seems that you are the only person in any position to do anything about the Antilovers at this time, so go out and oppose them!"
His daughter was not very thrilled with this news.
"WHAT?!" Moeko exclaimed, "That's ridiculous. I can't pilot Marmalade, I'm too scared! Why can't someone else do it?"
"Because, none of the other mecha are operational, and Marmalade calibrates to whoever enters, so that it can be custom-fit to the specifications of the pilot! You weren't intended to be the pilot, but you have no choice in the matter!"
"What kind of design flaw is that?" Moeko wondered to herself, "I can't do this. I'm just little Moeko, I hate fighting. Why do things have to be this way?"
Outside, the Antilovers' mecha had landed, and were already razing houses to the ground. Innocent homeowners ran away in terror. Both Paddingtons could clearly see this happening. This atrocity could not be permitted!
The poor little girl observed the destruction going on around her in sheer horror. There were people she knew who lived in those houses. If she did nothing, they would die. Sure, she was afraid, but she did not want anyone to get hurt. She willed herself to activate the controls to make Marmalade move.
"Come on, please work!"
The awesome humanoid tank took its first steps, outside of the workshop. Marmalade was going out to confront the vile Antilovers and their evil agenda! Marmalade was on one side of the street and the Antilovers were on the other. There was only empty space between the two combatants.
Before doing anything else, Moeko sent a heartfelt plea to the enemy, asking, "Why are you doing this?!"
She got no answer. Instead, the mecha across from her opened fire!
It's the first battle! Will Moeko and Marmalade emerge victorious, or will humanity be destroyed without a fight? What is the Antilovers' agenda? And most importantly, why is the mecha called Marmalade?! Stay tuned!