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The Jian

Chapter 1: Contact
Authors Note: Hello and welcome to my fanfiction I am calling the Jian Bird. In
this adventure, I will be retelling the story of DARLING in the FRANXX. The key
difference is that certain events throughout the story will trigger Hiro's memory
of his and Zero Two's past. So after the first few chapters, we will be in
completely open waters. Just to put your minds at ease (spoilers) I will be giving
these two the happy ending that many fans of the series wanted. I will also be
dropping a very unnecessary plot twist from the ending arc of the show.

I would like to apologize in advance for any grammar or writing errors. I have
never written in a creative way before. So if things sound strange or clunky then
please let me know so that I can improve. This is a learning experience for me; so
constructive criticisms would be most appreciated.

As a general disclaimer, this story may occasionally feature content of a sexual


nature. All descriptions and or acts of this nature will be necessary to the
overarching narrative. DARLING in the FRANXX is a story of self-discovery and the
blossoming romance of a fated pair. I really enjoy DitF and will be treating these
characters with the respect that they deserve. If you have any further questions
leave them in the comments below.

Please note that if a passage is italicized it means its a memory of previous


events. I hope this clears up any confusion.

Thank you, and I hope you enjoy.

The Jian Bird, also known as the bird that shares wings. Unless a male and female
find a partner they are forever grounded. To me, however, their way of life struck
me as profoundly beautiful.

"I want to take a bath."

"Not again. Show some self-control" replied the doctor irritably.

Ignoring him, she leaned over to a man strapped to chair across from her and asked,
"Hey, how do I smell"?

"Leave him be." "He's drained after the last battle." The doctor replied
mechanically as if resigned to his fate.

Oblivious, she asked another of her questions. "Does Plantation 13 have an ocean"

Lucky for him the female administrator Nana walked by and saved him from answering.

"An ocean?" She asked curiously

"I wanna swim in some clear ocean water."

"Unfortunately we do not." She replied, "Won't a shower do?"

"I'm in the mood to swim"

Their conversation ended abruptly as the transport pilot called over his shoulder.

"We'll be landing shortly." "Please fasten your seatbelts."

"Understood," she acknowledged, before looking over her shoulder and saying, "Let's
continue this later."
In apparent displeasure, the girl licked herself and muttered

"I hate how I taste."

The transport slowed as it swooped down towards Mistleteinn, the great glass dome
that stood as if a sentry atop the mobile fortress that was Plantation 13. Almost
absentmindedly she glanced down. Her eyes scanning the contents of the dome below
her and found what she was looking for.

"Oh, found one."

Hiro hated being helpless. It was a feeling he was all too familiar with, but he
hated it all the same. Of course, he had to fail the parasite test. It was the one
thing he had been training for his whole life and he still failed. What made it
even worse is that he had dragged his partner Naomi down with him.

Seriously, the gods must have had some vendetta against her. She had been one of
the more talented members of the squad and her skill at piloting a FRANXX was
extraordinary. Which all begged the question as to why she had been paired with him
of all people. The only thing that he had ever been able to pilot with any success,
was the stupid training FRANXX. Which he had probably spent more time in then the
rest of his squad combined.

His musings were interrupted by a buzzing from his pocket. He pulled out his
commutator and activated its holographic display. He absently glanced through the
message and was about to form some non-committal reply; when he heard the sound of
something impacting the glass dome nearby.

Glad of the excuse not to answer, he quickly sat up and pocketed the device, before
hurrying up the nearby hill. When he reached the top he found an ominous red stain
splatter over the glass. Examining it, told him that it was blood; but where it had
come from he was unsure.

As if in answer he heard the pained squawking of its owner behind him. Turning he
noticed one of the local birds was sprawled in the grass; its now wounded wings
flapping feebly as it tried to move. His heart went out to the little creature. It
would be forever trapped in this glass cage no matter how hard it tried to leave.
In a vain attempt at assistance, he lowered his hands. The bird however just
squawked and flapped feebly into the air and disappeared over the crest of the
hill.

Before he could do anything but protest, the loud whirring of engines become
audible above him. Shielding his eyes against the sun, he glanced upwards and saw
one of APE's massive transport jets. The appearance of the jet was an uncommon
sight. Usually, those jets were reserved for the giant mechanical FRANXXs, that
were used to fight the biomechanical menace what was the Klaxosaurs. However, all
the current members of Squad 13 already had their FRANXXs so what the jet was doing
here he was uncertain of.

Sighing, he started off following the trail of blood left by the wounded bird. It
was several minutes before he noticed that the trail had led him to a lake in the
middle of the woods.

"I never knew there was a place like this." He muttered to himself

Stopping, he cast his gaze over the clearing. He was about to turn around when he
spotted, a pile of clothing resting on a deformed old tree. Walking over to it, he
bent over and examined it.
"Is this a parasite uniform?" "Strange it looks nothing like ours."

He curiously picked up the piece from the top; which after a few moments he decided
was underwear. Quickly, he realized that this was a very compromising position. He
was about to move to put it back when the sound of splashing coming from the middle
of the lake stopped him.

Turning he saw the silhouette of a nude girl, swimming in the center of the lake.
Blushing profusely he quickly turned his head away and hid his eyes. The sound of
splashing had stopped however; so slowly he looked up and saw the lake had gone as
smooth as a sheet of glass.

The seconds crawled by, and still, there was no sign of the girl resurfacing.

Giving a start of surprise he yelled out.

"No Way! Is she drowning?!"

Immediately he charged off into the lake his legs pumping as the water slowed his
stride.

"I've gotta help her!"

He had only gotten a few steps however when the girl with a fish in her mouth,
burst into the air from the water in front of him.

It only took seconds for him to realize that she was the most beautiful girl he had
ever seen. Nude as the day she was born; her perfect curves were on full display.
Her light pink hair flapped like wings around her, and her eyes were a rich shade
of Jade green. The thing that really completed her spell on him however, was the
two crimson horns protruding from the top of her head.

He stood transfixed, his eye glued to her beauty. Only when she spit out the fish
and stroud forward to examine him did his brain finally grind back into gear.

"N-N-N-N-NAKED!?" He stuttered in a panicked voice. Desperately he slammed his eyes


shut and turned his head away from her.

"Oh. And here I thought you were dead." She said somewhat lazily; as she walked
back to the shore.

"A-Are you a parasite?" He asked, trying to regain his composure. "Why are you
bathing here?"

Licking herself the girl replied "It's so weird. I heard that ocean water is
salty."

"Uh, this isn't an ocean." He said confused

"I know that much. But it's the most ocean-like place I know." She stated while
cupping her chin between here thump and forefinger.

"Aren't you going to swim?" She inquired curiously.

"Huh?" "Me?" "Nah, I'm good." Was his confused reply, as he made his way back
towards the shore.

"Really?" "But it feels so good and you were staring so hard, I thought you wanted
to swim, too."

"Th-That's because I thought you were drowning." He said quickly, his hands making
a placating gesture "So I jumped in to save you, and�." His voice trailed off and
he turned away as he realized that she was still naked. "S-Sorry, but could you put
your clothes back on?" He requested meekly.

She brought her hand up to her chin as if pondering and then bring her fist down
into the palm of her other hand she said in a slightly triumphant voice. "Oh, I get
it! She pointed at him dramatically "You're a pervert"

"W-W-W-WHAT!"

"Where'd that come from?" Came his incredulous reply

She lowered her pointing finger to his hand, which he then followed with his eye,
only to realize far too late that he was still holding her underwear.

"This isn't what it looks like!" He exclaimed in surprised horror, as he


desperately tried to rid himself of the undergarment. Feeling his cheeks burn like
the sun he held them out to her.

To his astonishment however she burst out laughing and began clutching her sides.

"Your face was priceless!" She wheezed still fighting to regain control of herself.

"But you jumped in to save me, huh?" She said once she had calmed down. "Thanks, I
appreciate that." And flashed him a cheeky smile.

He turned around to give her some privacy as she changed back into her clothing.

"That uniform� Are you a parasite, too?" She inquired

"No." He said dejectedly, picking up a stone.

"So you don't pilot?" She asked

"I can't pilot. I no longer have the ability." Came his meek reply. He threw the
stone and almost as an afterthought he added. "I even dragged my partner down with
me." The stone made a splash as it hit the water and sank below the surface. "I no
longer have a place here anymore."

"Huh. So you're just like me." She stated.

That statement piqued is curiosity. Lifting his head he turned to look at her.

"I'm always alone, too. Thanks to these horns." She stated while putting on a
headband that seemed to secure itself to her horns with a little click.

"If you don't belong here, just build a place where you do." She continued. "If you
don't have a partner, just find another."

Raising her hands like claws she started forward and grabbed him while saying "And
if you can't." Her face flashing with an almost hungry expression. "Take one by
force!"

Leaning forward she licked his cheek. Taken by surprise and with her full weight on
him, he collapsed back into the edge of the lake. The strange girl following him
down with her arms landing near either side of his head.
The atmosphere around him for the most fleeting of moments changed as she stared
hungrily at him.

"Wow, your taste makes my heart race." She said hungrily "It bits and lingers. The
taste of danger."

"Wh-What are you�" He started

"Would have you preferred a kiss?" She said ignoring him; her voice sliding back
into its usual tone.

"A kiss?" he asked confused

"Oh, you guys don't know, huh?" She said.

Leaning down to his ear she whispered. "It's a very special thing."

Standing back up she stated. "I think I've taken a liking to you. Won't you be my
Darling?"

"D-Darling? You mean partner?" He asked confused

"Your ability's probably just still dormant. I can awaken it for you." She stated
holding out her hand. "And you weren't frightened by my horns."

Was this his chance? His chance to reverse everything and become a pilot like the
rest of his squad mates. He reached out his hand shaking, uncertain that it would
work; but confident that it was better than doing nothing.

A rustling from the tree behind them broke the magic and she retracted her hand.

"Too Bad." She said her voice growing cold. "Time's up."

She turned away, looking towards a wounded man and a small squad of plantation
forces that had just come out into the clearing.

"We've been looking for you." The wounded man said annoyed. " Why do you keep
running off alone."

"It's not like there's anything to do until tomorrow's welcoming ceremony." Her
body poster and tone indicating that this was a less than welcome interruption.

"Well, as your partner, I am the one who suffers for it." The man said and roughly
situated a hat on her head; making sure it covered her horns.

"Partner?" He muttered to himself an odd emotion sparking in his chest.

The man turned to him and asked. "Are you a parasite cadet?" Not waiting for a
reply the man plowed on. "Your welcoming ceremony's tomorrow, correct? Sorry, she
bothered you."

The plantation security forces were wrapping a coat around her and talking to her
in hushed but stern voices.

"It's okay." He muttered

In a louder and slightly more desperate voice, he asked. " Um, what did you mean by
partner?"
"Let me give you some advice" came the man's irritated voice. "Stay as far away
from her as you can." The man turned and the group began to walk away as he said
over his shoulder. "She's not the kind of pistil that just anyone can handle."

His brain was going into overdrive trying to think of something to say.

"Your name!" He blurted out. " What's your name?"

"Name?" Said the girl not turning around. "Do we parasites even have names?"

His heart fell. Of course, he had forgotten that outside of Squad 13 none of the
parasites have names just codes to identify their aptitude.

"Well, my code is 002." "Everyone calls me Zero Two."

Pain blinded him as a memory of events long forgotten surged to the forefront of
his mind. Images, sights, feelings, sensations, sounds, drowned him and it has all
we could do to keep from crying out.

"002? I've never seen a code in the single digits before." 002� Someone pondered.
"Hmm� Oni? No, Zero Two?" "Not very good, huh?" "Eo To!" Called a red, black, and
pink shape. "Huh? Do you understand what names are?" Came that strange voice again.
"Eo To!" "Eo To!" "Eo To!" chanted the shape again. That strangle voice spoke
again. "I should've thought of a better name." "Sigh, come on Zero Two."

Abruptly, he snapped back to reality with the realization that the plantation
guards were half leading, half hauling him towards what looked like the parasite
administration building. Quickly he looked around and noticed that Zero Two and the
plantations security forces were nowhere to be found.

The guards stopped at the entrance and shoved him forward. "The administrator is
waiting for you inside." One of the guards said in his flat voice.

Without saying a word he made his way through to the room where the administrator's
desk was located. When he got there he knocked and after a few seconds was told to
enter. Taking the seat provided he waited; noticing that the male administrator
Hachi was the one seated across from him. Hiro knew what this was about; any
parasite team that failed to pass the parasite test would be sent back to the
orphanage where they grew up.

Interrupting his thoughts and without any form of permeably Hachi began speaking.
"You and your partner are scheduled to leave for the orphanage in twenty minutes."

"Understood," he replied dryly

Hachi's next words, however, caught him slightly off guard "Code 016, you have been
given special permission from HQ to remain here in Mistleteinn."

"Why." He asked, alarm bells popping up in his head. Papa and APE protected and
looked after the children but they weren't known for doing unnecessary things.

"I am not privy to that information." Replied Hachi

For a few fleeting moments, he thought about staying. He came to the realization
however that it would be useless. Zero Two was probably long gone, and sitting
around being dead weight for his friends in Squad 13 would have been only made
things worse.
"I will leave with Naomi." He heard himself say.

"Very well. Code 703 is waiting for you outside. Guards will escort the both of you
to the transport station." Came Hachi voice.

Walking out of the room he spotted Naomi, crying on a bench just outside. He
couldn't help but feel like an absolute jerk. It was his fault that they had failed
and he was the one who was offered to stay. He tried not to think of that day but
in his guilt, it came back sharp as ever.

A robotic feminine voice began speaking. "Positive pulse and P-Factor dropping.
Time Out. Commencing stage six linking. Measuring ability score. Negative pulse
detected. Positive pulse on standby. Three. Two. One.. Timed out." Mercilessly the
test moderator's voice spoke ."Code 703 and Code 016. You Fail"

When they arrived at the station he took the place on the opposite side of the
loading ramp walkway. Looking right, he saw a group of transport spheres crawling
their way towards the station.

"You should've stayed, Hiro." Came Naomi's soft voice. "Did you refuse because of
me?"

"It's not like I'd be of any use if I stayed." He said mechanically.

"You've always been like that." She countered quietly. "You're just running away.
From your partner, and from yourself." She continued talking however her voice
started taking on slightly desperate tone. "You remember how many of our friends
disappeared from the orphanage, right? There's no telling if we could end up just
like them."

He turned his lips trying to form a reply but she plowed on without giving him
time.

"So don't try to play the hero!" She yelled dropping the briefcase she had been
carrying. "Who cares if it's favoritism? You're lucky you have a chance to stay at
all!" Crying she continued. " We've made it so far! I would definitely stay, even
if it killed me!

He barely heard the guard tell them to stop talking.

"Naomi�." Was the only thing his pathetic brain could think to say.

Naomi continued, still sobbing. " Why� Why did you have to be my partner?"

There was nothing he could say to that. The consequences of his failure were now
magnified a hundredfold, and all she did was utter a single sentence. Desperately
he tried thinking of anything else. He thought of his Squadmates who were scheduled
to sortie for the first time in their real FRANXXs; while he and Naomi left for the
orphanage. He desperately clung to that thought and held it in his mind. Still
holding on he imaged what it would be like to fight, to protect, and to fly with
them.

The giant transport sphere arrived at the dock and opened its doors for him to
enter. A cage he thought, as he followed Naomi towards the doors. A cage where he
could never fly or be free ever again.

Naomi stopped at the door and turn abruptly on her heels to face him.

"Well, take care, Hiro. I don't think we'll ever see each other again." She said
sadly.

Startled, a protest began forming in his mouth, but she cut him off. "I'm done now,
but you still have a chance. You don't have to factor me into your decisions
anymore."

"Wait a second, Naomi!" He exclaimed as he started forward. But before he could


take more than a few steps she threw her briefcase directly at him. Catching it and
falling back he landed with a loud thud on the ramp. "What are you doing?" He cried
in desperation.

"I don't need those things anymore. Make sure to share them with everyone" Came her
reply a hit of sadness entering her voice. "You know, I really like the name you
gave me." And with one final sob, she added. "Hiro, I hope you find a good
partner."

The transport sphere's doors slammed shut; sealing her off from him, and the rest
of the world.

"Naomi�" He cried leaping forward.

The hadn't even gotten a full step when the plantations guards caught him.

"Don't! You can take the next transport and still make it!" The guard said
struggling to keep Hiro, from leaping at the door. The guard let him go when he
finally stopped struggling as the transport cleared the station.

Stepping to the edge of the ramp he waited for the next sphere to crawl its way
into place. Turning his head he watched as the transport containing Naomi began to
get further and further away.

His sphere crawled up and opened its doors. Before he could take a step however
something made him hesitant. Was following her the best idea? Up until now, he was
certain, but now worms of doubt start creeping into his mind. Maybe that strange
girl Zero Two was actually still around. Maybe Naomi was right. What if he did have
a purpose here? Papa woudn't have offered him a place without a reason right?

"What's the matter? Get in already." Came the guards voice from a long way off.

Stepping back he turned to the guard and said. "Uh, I think I'll stay." His last
word was cut off however as a tremendous crash cleaved the air.

"What was that?" he said startled. Looking off to where the transports were
crawling their way off towards the horizon. Staring in horror he saw two massive
blue and black glowing spikes emerge from the ground on either side of the
transport that contained� But before he could complete his thought, the whole
ground that the transport was crawling on burst up as something emerged beneath it.
He watched in horror as the transport was tossed up into the air and then crashed
to the ground breaking into a thousand little pieces.

"Naomi!" He screamed helplessly. But were Naomi once was stood one of the
biomechanical menaces that were known as the Klaxosaurs. Screaming its challenge it
started forwards towards the Plantation.

Distantly he heard the Plantation guard yell. "It a Klaxosaur! Ready intercepting
fire!" The sound of intercept canons deploying and firing erupted violently from
the plantation behind him.

The cannons rained their fury down upon the Klaxosaur but to little effect. The
Klaxosaur simple walked forward a few more massive steps and swiped its gargantuan
tail across the surface of the plantation. In the process of taking out the
intercept cannons, the tail hit the loading dock where he was located. He
desperately grabbed the railing next to him as the dock was bent up and thrown out
of the way.

By some miraculous stroke of luck, the dock hit the walkway that curved around the
plantation. Breathing a sigh of relief, he was able to drop from the railing to the
surface of the walkway. Dully he noted that Naomi's briefcase had fallen beside him
as he crashed to safety.

His momentary relief was over however and he saw as the Klaxosaur began turning to
make its way to where his squadmates would be receiving their FRANXX's.

"Damn it!" He exclaimed. Sprinting with all his might to try and keep up with the
Klaxosaur's massive steps. The Klaxosaur quickly pulled ahead however and left only
a massive cloud of dust in its wake. Swearing he kept running his body running on
pure adrenaline as he tried desperately to catch up. Through all the dust and
screeching of shattering metal, he didn't hear or see the white, four-legged
FRANXX, run by until it was right on top of him.

"Another Klaxosaur?!" He gasped startled. But before he could do more than express
his surprise it was swallowed up in the cloud of dust.

Up ahead he heard the shouting of people and the awful sound of metal being
forcefully torn apart. This all stopped abruptly when the air rang with the sound
of something being slammed forcefully into the ground. It was then immediately
followed only moments later by agonized roars of rage and pain.

Rounding the bend, he launched himself towards the railing. When he reached the
railing however his mouth fell open in shock. The massive black and blue Klaxosaur
was facing down what looked to be a white FRANXX with four legs. He watched as the
Klaxosaur charged up a massive beam weapon and shot it at the FRANXX. Bracing the
FRANXX flipped it's tail forward splitting the beam and dissipating it with a
massive explosion.

Coughing he looked up again and screamed in terror was the four-legged FRANXX flew
through the air towards him. With a leap, he barely made it out of the FRANXX's way
before it smashed into the walkway.

"Ow.. What the hell was that?" He said rubbing his head.

In response, the body of a man covered in red blood hit the ground in front of him.

"H-Hey.. Are you alright!?" He said crawling forwards to help the man.

"Forget about him. He's done for." Said a familiar voice.

Looking up he saw that Zero Two wearing a skin-tight red parasite uniform was
leaning exhausted in the doorway to the cockpit.

Standing he said, "What are you doing in there?" Equal parts concern and confusion
entering his voice.

Turning her head to look at him, he saw that the whole right side of her face was
covered in dark red blood. What he thought was odd however was that there was a
strange blue substance running down her left cheek.

"What, you have to ask? I'm going monster hunting, of course." She replied as if
stating the obvious, her voice snapping him out of his thoughts.

"You're going to pilot this robot alone?" His voice filled with bemusement.

"I gotta go." She said ignoring him and getting up awkwardly she turned to head
back inside.

"W-Wait a second" he cried leaping forward and grabbing her arm. "You can't! You're
hurt!"

"Out of my way!" She panted slapping his hand away.

"This is insanity. Besides, you're by yourself now. FRANXXs can't be piloted


alone." He said trying to reason with her.

"I'm always alone." Came her sad reply. "That's how it's always been. I'm used to
it."

"No! You'll die!" He yelled his desperation mounting.

"I'm not afraid of death." She countered softly. "That thing's going to start
moving again eventually. And when it does, everyone here is gonna die either way."

"I'm not afraid of death and I have a job to do." She said starting forward. "I'm
going."

He wouldn't let her go. Not alone. He was powerless, unable to help his friends,
and unable to fight the Klaxosaurs. But this girl needed him. It didn't matter if
he only had one wing. If he could use it to help her fly; even for just a little
bit longer, than he would do it.

"Wait." He commanded. "I'll pilot that robot with you. I'm not about to let you go
alone."

"Oh?" She inquired curiously turning to face him, "Are you prepared to die?"

"I don't know." He replied. "But as I am now, I don't belong anywhere. That's no
different from being dead."

Straightening up and looking her straight in her beautiful eye's, he demanded with
all the strength that he possessed "So take me with you!"

"Huh.. You really are just like me." She said quietly. "You and I are very similar.
It's been a long time since I last saw a human cry"

Reaching out she caught one of the tears that had started to fail down his cheek
and added in a louder voice. "I like the look in your eyes. It makes my heart
race."

"Now come to me." She said while grabbing his hand and pulling him bodily into the
cockpit.

As they fell towards the cockpit chair she said with a smile "Let me get a tased of
you. You are now�" "My darling!" Landing in the seat she pulled him close and
kissed him hungrily.

It was the most addicting thing he had ever experienced! Her lips were as soft as a
dove and her mouth tasted as if it contained the sweetest honey in the world. Her
tongue shot forward as she began to feed off his desire, and he replied with equal
enthusiasm trying to lap up that sweet honey that he found so enticing.

As he continued to kiss her; he felt his blood burn. His whole body surged with a
power far stronger than he had ever experience. This power, however, didn't feel
foreign and it felt as if it had always been apart of him; just locked away.

Their minds begin to sync; positive and negative pulses soaring to the max within
seconds as the FRANXX came alive around him.

[STRELIZIA - ACTIVATED]

[STRELIZIA - ACTIVATED]

[STRELIZA - ACTIVATED]

The FRANXX came alive unfolding from its four-legged bestial form and transforming
into the blindly white Iron Maiden. Unsheathing its massive magma spear, the FRANXX
flew at the now charging Klaxosaur and drove the point straight through to its
core. The Klaxosaur exploded in a massive cloud of blue blood which fell like rain
as it's blue and gold core slid off the tip of the spear.

Hiro returned to his own mind panting a few minutes later. The effort of piloting
the FRANXX with the ferocity that they had leaving him breathless. Although he was
winded he felt that something deep inside him had changed. His once caged mind felt
open and as though could fly anywhere he wanted to.

Looking around he spotted Zero Two smiling at him from the pistil's seat situated
in front of him.

"That was quite impressive." She said approvingly. "I don't think I have had anyone
with your potential before."

"Thanks," he said breathlessly.

Shakily he got up and began to walk towards the now open cockpit door. His legs,
however, gave way after only a few steps. Luckily Zero Two was quite fast. She
grabbed his arm and placed it around her neck before he hit the ground. Leaning on
her they made their way through the door and stood on the face plate of the FRANXX.
She lowered him gently to the floor and he sat leaning his back lean against the
door.

In his exhausted state he never heard her whisper softly to herself. "Found you.
Darling"
Chapter 2: Squad 13
Authors Note: Thank you for your support on the previous chapter. Before we begin I
would like to address a concern I have seen voiced by some readers. Some fear that
this Fanfiction is going to be a copy of the anime. These opening chapters are a
build up as Hiro starts to unlock more of his memories. Eventually, enough events
will take place that the story will diverge and no longer resemble the show. Just
as a sneak peek I have about 25 chapters planned. So at the rate of changes that we
are going, we won't remain with the anime for much longer.

Special announcement: Some later chapters will include links to concept art for
events and or characters that come up later in the story.

Thank you for your continued support and enjoy The Jian Bird Chapter 2: Squad 13.

Goro was stunned as were the rest of members of Squad 13. His friend Hiro, was the
last person he had excepted to emerge from that FRANXX. Wasn't he supposed to be on
his way to the orphanage? And who was that beside him; that wasn't Naomi. There
were so many questions that he needed answers to.

"Hiro!?" Cried his surprised partner Ichigo.

"That impossible!" Came the arrogant retort of Zorome.

Luckily for Goro the Plantation administrators Hachi and Nana were running towards
the group now gathered around the deactivated FRANXX. Turning he began to formulate
one of his many questions that he was dying to ask, when Ichigo burst out "Is Hiro
alright?!"

The female administrator Nana gave the vaguest answer she could possibly give in
his opinion. "We are unsure."

Well, that was helpful he thought irritably. Not only was he confused but now he
had to add concern for his friend to the list.

He watched as the girl supporting Hiro lowered him to the floor of the faceplate.
Still staring at her he watched as she tucked her pink hair behind her ear and
turned her head to look at Hiro. That was when he noticed the two small crimson
horns protruding from just above her forehead. "Who is that girl?" he pondered
aloud.

"That's Zero Two. The Partner Killer." Came a voice from behind him.

Jumping about a foot in the air and scared half to death he spun around. Behind him
was Dr. Franxx; a bent over old man with half a mechanical face. If it had been
anyone else when he would have cursed them into oblivion; but seeing how Dr.
Franxx, was the inventor of the FRANXXs he thought that might be a bad and
potentially dangerous idea.

"She doesn't actually kill her partner though; does she!?" Yelped a scared Kokoro.

"I heard that if she rides with any Stamen for three times then they die." Was
Misturu's unconcerned reply.

"He looks fine though." Kokoro's partner Furoshi contributed.

Goro and the rest of the squad turned expectantly towards Dr. Franxx; hoping that
he would fill in the details by answering their questions.

"I guess we should go and ask him." Stated the doctor leaning on his walking stick
as he began to plod his way forward.

His attention solely focused on their conversation; he hadn't realized that while
they had been talking Hiro and that mysterious girl Zero Two had made their way
down to the ground. He and Ichigo were the first ones over; questions of concern
bursting from their lips before they had even arrived.

"Are you alright!?" Both he and Ichigo demanded as they skidded to a halt right in
front of Hiro.

"Yes, I'm fine." Was Hiro's reply has he waved for them to calm down. "I was never
in any danger."

He and Ichigo quickly looked at each other both thinking the exact same thing and
simultaneously agreeing that this was not the right time to bring it up.
When he returned his gaze to normal he noticed that Zero Two was looking at Hiro
with an odd expression on her face. Her face seemed to be a mix of surprise,
longing, and desperation all mixed into one. By now the rest of the squad had
caught up and had questions of their own. Hiro answered them all smiling and
reassuring. Goro noticed however that Hiro never truly gave them his full attention
and his teal green eyes seemed to keep wandering back to that mysterious girl. I
wonder how these two had met? He was almost certain that he had never seen anyone
with horns, either at the orphanage or Plantation 13.

"Wheres Naomi?" Inquired Ikuno suddenly.

He watched as pain spread over Hiro's face and Goro knew that whatever the answer
was it wasn't good.

"I.. Don't know." Hiro finally replied, his voiced shaking with emotion. "She
didn't let me enter the transport with her and." Hiro gathered himself and
continued. "When the Klaxosaur attacked it, it destroyed the transport she was in."

The group fell silent as the impact of what Hiro had just said hit them like a ton
of bricks.

"So she's dead?" Came Miku's sad voice; sounding as if she didn't want to believe
it.

"That would be the safest guess." Her partner Zorome replied sadly.

He and the rest of the group were silent for a few minutes; each processing in
their own way, the loss of one of their squad mates. Her presence would be sorely
missed. Naomi had never been the center of attention but her kindness and
willingness to lend support had made her an important part of everyone's lives. He
knew this would be an especially hard blow for Ikuno since her and Naomi had always
been close and got along especially well.

Their melancholy was interrupted by the return of the plantation administrators who
had just got back from investigating the deactivated FRANXX.

"It's time to return to the plantation." Came the voice of Hachi.

Silently the group started to make their way back towards the plantation. The ghost
of the one no longer with them almost hanging in the air.

"Sir we have erased Code *1* .s. However there are fragments of Code **2 that we
cannot era..e." "tRy.. again THey are�unnecessary noise." "Sir a second time may
damage � brain." "Very well; leave them for now. I will make my final decision
later."

"My first pretty thing." "Da�.. li..g."

The warm morning sun was shining through the window to the boy's dorm; it's gentle
rays slowly urging him awake. Hiro groggily opened his eyes and stared up at the
bunk above him. He had just had the strangest dream. All he remembered of his dream
were broken fragments of voices but who they belonged to was still a mystery. What
he found odd however was that most of his normal dreams were abstract and very hard
to piece together after the fact. This dream, however; or at least the pieces he
could remember were vividly clear and easy to understand.

Sighing he got up and notice that all of the beds were empty. Grabbing his clothes
from the dispenser he put them on; taking extra care to make sure everything was
neat and that nothing was bent out of shape. He wasn't sure why he had the sudden
urge to do this but something told him that he should. Once he was finished he
stopped at the wall mirror that hung by the door. His wild jet black hair framed
his face and his eyes were their usually shaded of teal green.

Satisfied he made his way to the door and opening it walked out into the hall.
Before he descended the stairs he stopped at a picture of Squad 13 on the wall. He
looked at everyone's smiling face until his eyes came to rest on Naomi. She looked
so innocent in this picture. Her chestnut brown hair and eyes were matched only be
her kind smile.

"You deserved better than me." He said sadly to the picture. "If I'd only have been
more capable then perhaps you would have been spared."

Sighing he turned away and began to make his way down the stairs towards the
entrance hall. It felt like it took forever but finally, he reached the bottom.

"Are you feeling alright." He heard someone call. Turning he saw his friend Ichigo
descending the stars behind him. As per usual her, navy blue hair was arranged so
that it hung by the right side of her face and her eyes sparkled their usual lime
green.

"Yeah, I'm fine." Was his offhand reply.

"Come on, I know you better than that." She insisted.

"I was just thinking of Naomi." He said sadly. "Tell me have the administrators
said anything about the crash?"

"They have actually." Ichigo said hesitantly; sounding as if she wished that she
didn't have to answer. She took a deep breath and continued. "The search teams
haven't been able to find anything except the wreckage. They have even searched the
surrounding area and there is not a trace of her anywhere. "

Sighing the only reply he could come up with was. "Well if they do, please let me
know."

"Of course." She said immediately.

Turning he began to make his way towards the mess hall. Trying to think of anything
except Naomi he wondered if Zero Two was still around and if he would see her
again. After they had defeated the Klaxosaur she had been collected by a group of
plantations guards and he hadn't seen her since. Papa must really want to keep an
eye on her since every time she got out of their grasp, guards never seemed to be
very far behind.

He was only a few feet away from the door to the mess hall when Goro stuck his head
out. Goro liked to keep his short yellow hair wild, and he wore narrow lensed
glasses which framed his hazelnut eyes.

"Hey Hiro get in here, that girl is in our mess hall." Goro said quickly.

Hiro heard Ichigo's sharp intake of breath from behind him before he started
forward to investigate if what Goro said was true. Sure enough, there was Zero Two
sitting with a table to herself and looking preoccupied but very pleased. Walking a
few more steps he saw that she was pouring a giant jug of honey over everything on
her plate. It didn't matter if it was ham, sausage, bread, or fruit; if it was on
her plate then it was covered in a liberal coating of honey. He watched in
fascination as she picked up a massive slab of honey dripping ham and stuffed it
into her mouth. Although he found the action quite endearing and secretly wanted to
try it himself; he heard whispers of disgust and confusion from several members of
the squad. Taking his seat he continued to watch as she poured more honey on a bun
and stuffed that in her mouth too. Still transfixed by her he watched as she
intently licked all the honey from her right hand.

"Hopefully she doesn't ruin her good looks with the ways she's eating." His friend
Goro commented.

"I can't believe all her injuries healed so quickly." He said as a way of response.

Realizing what he had just said his immediate thought was. "Wait a minute her
injuries are healed!" He screwed up his face in concentration trying to remember
back to their meeting on the walkway. "Hadn't she been bleeding?" Turning his head
he looked her up and down and couldn't find a single cut, scratch, or blemish of
any kind. "I could have sworn that she had been injured." He thought to himself.

His mussing were interrupted by the sound of Zorome's voice who had just walked
over and stood beside Zero Two.

"Hey there." He said, his arrogant voice was like nails on a chalkboard to Hiro's
ears. "It was a real treat to watch your skills in action. If you so desire I,
Zorome the Great, shall most graciously ride with you. I am sure that I could
outperform with ease whatever merger skill that wuss was able to accomplish."

Hiro was not going to listen to the rest of this. He gritted his teeth and turned
away as the sudden urge to punch that arrogant brat, came over him like a wave
crashing against the shore. He knew that Zorome had problems with his self-esteem
and was constantly looking for people, most of all Papa, to verify his
achievements. His appearance even exacerbated this problem in Hiro's opinion.
Zorome had extravagant purple eyes and wild light brown hair that seemed to just be
begging for attention. He also knew that Zorome's strong dislike of him was because
Hiro was constantly given attention from the high ups due to his low code number.
Even if he understood why Zorome might feel the way he did; he still found it
really hard to try and forgive Zorome for hating him for something that he couldn't
control.

"What do you think you are doing! These are my best pair of clothes!" Shrieked
Zorome.

Hiro smirked to himself. He didn't know what Zero Two had done but anything that
made Zorome give that reaction he approved of. Lost in his amusement of the whole
situation he didn't notice that Zero Two had moved until she scooted onto the chair
he was sitting on.

He started in surprise and was about to ask a question when Zero Two began to
speak. "This is much better. Let's eat together, okay?"

She grabbed the honey jar from the table in front of them and began to pour it over
his food; her tongue sticking out the corner of her mouth as she worked. After she
was satisfied she dipped the tip of her finger into the honey and popped it in her
mouth.

"Um, Zero Two, would you let me pilot your FRANXX again?" He asked after a moments
pause.

"Of course." She said immediately; removing her finger from mouth. "After all you
are my partner." "Darling." Seductively tracing his lips with her finger as she
said the last word.
"D-Darling?" The squad repeated in confusion.

Although he heard the rest of the squad question amongst themselves; his whole
attention was focused entirely on Zero Two and her smile. He was forced to look
away however when Nana walked into the mess hall.

"Alright everybody, settle down I have some announcements to make." Smiling she
said. "First, I have been assigned as your caretaker just like I was back at the
orphanage." A general note of approval went around the room. "Secondly, you are
scheduled to test drive in your real FRANXXs in an hour so don't be late." There
was a buzz of excitement as everybody started talking to each other at once.

Hiro heard over the buzz of conversation Ichigo ask. "Nana is Hiro really going to
be her partner."

Nana looked over at Zero Two and answered in a voice of somewhat irritation. "We're
still awaiting orders from HQ on what to do with Zero Two. But for the moment, she
has not been assigned a partner or a place among your squad." She made sure to add
special emphasis to the last part of her sentence. "Now Zero Two come with me."

Before Hiro could do more than protest feebly, Zero Two got up and muttering walked
over to the administrator. Getting up he asked the administrator. "If I am not her
partner then what is my place in Squad 13?"

"Papa will give you your orders in due time. Please just sit tight until then."
Nana replied softening her voice. She and Zero Two then walked out before he could
ask anything more.

Disheartened he sat down and ate the food that Zero Two had cover in honey. This
helped his mood quite a bit and he decided that while the rest of the Squad was
doing their drive he would grab some extra practice in the training FRANXX. If the
time did come when he was allowed to pilot with her then the least he could do was
be prepared for it.

Once he was finished he left the mess hall and made his way towards the elevators
that lead into the plantation. From there he would make his way towards the FRANXX
center and find the changing room.

When the elevator arrived he stepped in and was about to close the door when Ichigo
called to him. Looking up he saw her running towards the door. Quickly he jammed
the hold button and waited for her to arrive.

"Thanks." She said, stepping in.

Hiro knew that Ichigo was squad leader and knew that because of this fact she liked
to be one step ahead of everybody. She was probably going to the FRANXX center as
well since the squad was on the verge of its first real test drive. The elevator
was quiet until Ichigo broke the silence.

"Are you really going to pilot that FRANXX with her again." She asked

"Yes." He answered simply.

"You know, I have heard rumors about her." She said. "Supposedly none of her
partners could ride with her more than three times." Continuing she said. "I don't
know if its true but, I think, to be safe, you should stay away from her."

"If I can't pilot, I'm as good as dead anyway." He replied. Luckily for him, the
elevator arrived at the landing and he had an excuse to depart from her since the
boy's and girl's changing rooms were in opposite directions.

He should have been scared of Zero Two after what Ichigo had said but he wasn't.
There was just something about that girl that fascinated him so much and he
couldn't bring himself to be scared of her. If those rumors where true then she had
probably been feared and hated her whole life. The monster that nobody wanted and
everybody feared. He thought back to their first meeting. "I'm always alone. Thanks
to these horns." Her voice echoing in his mind. No! He wouldn't become another one
of those people. He knew that somewhere deep down she was probably just as
vulnerable and hurt as everyone else. She had just been forced to hide herself away
and she needed someone to help her find her way out.

He arrived at the changing room and opened the door. Spotting his locker he walked
over to it and began to take off his uniform. While he was doing this Mitsuru
walked in and gave him his usual disinterested glare. Mitsuru's eyes were narrow
and looked like two chips of hard flint. His slicked backed hair made him look even
more like a condescending jerk. Mitsuru had always disliked Hiro and he wasn't
quite sure why. Has far as he could remember he hadn't done anything to deserve
such treatment.

Once he was finished undressing he grabbed his skin-tight parasite suit and pulled
it on. Glad of his excuse to leave he exited back out the door he had come through
and walked to the main lobby. Most of the areas here were off limits and even if
they weren't the only reason a parasite might come here was to train. It was true
that the lobby could lead to the launch bay but seeing how the changing rooms and
briefing room had their own paths that lead straight to that location there was
little it offered.

Walking over to the massive window that observed the training room he looked down.
The familiar room was empty as he had expected. "Maybe someday all the time I spent
in here will pay off." He thought. Walking over to a lift he descended until he
reached the ground floor and then made his way over to the training FRANXXs. His
usually FRANXX was available and ready for use. He had always been attached to this
one. He wasn't sure why; it was the exact same as any of the others but if it was
available he took it. "02." He said reading its designation number. "Thanks for
bearing my failures for all these years. Hopefully just one more time my friend;
just one more time." The last words he whispered almost as if praying.

Getting in he sat down at the controls and stretched his arms and neck. He was
going to be here for a while. The rest of Squad 13 would be gone for most of the
day as they got accustomed to their real FRANXXs. Today he needed to master the
Mega-lance which was the only weapon available that was similar to the one that
Zero Two's FRANXX used. Flecking his fingers he powered up the training FRANXX. The
FRANXX hummed alive around him and grabbing the controls he took a few steps
forward. Once he was in the center of the room he called out. "Computer. Activate
Mega-lance training excise. Programs novice through master. Set difficulty to max."
He twisted the control handles and the FRANXX reached out to grab the Mega-lance
that had been provided.

"Program ready." A computerized female voice called back.

"Begin." He said.

"That's my Darling." Whispered Zero Two approvingly; as she quietly sat observing
from the window above Hiro.

"Program complete. You have finished the Mega-lance training course." Sounded the
computerized female voice.
Sighing he whipped the sweat from his brow. It had been a long day and he had only
taken very short rests.

"Well, at least I am somewhat prepared." He said to himself. Turning he piloted the


FRANXX back to its docking socket. Shutting down he opened the cockpit and got out.
Looking at the clock on the wall he saw that he had been here for almost eight
hours. Finally getting to the lift he rode it up until he reached the lobby. "The
Squad should be back by now." He pondered as he walked his way back to the changing
rooms. Quickly he got undressed and took a hot shower.

The water felt like heaven on his aching muscles and for a few seconds, he just
stood there as the water fell over him. "The Mega-lance was a satisfying weapon to
use." He thought to himself. "It was light enough that is could be wielded in one
hand which allowed for quick blocks or counter attacks. But it also possessed
enough weight for devastating power blows and savage thrusts."

When he had finished his shower he dried himself off and got dressed quickly. He
needed to get back to Mistilteinn; his friends were probably wondering where he was
and admittedly he probably had been gone for too long. Exiting he made his way
towards the elevators. He was about to call the elevator when out of the corner of
his eye he spotted Zero sitting next to a pole. When he walked over to her, he
noticed that she was curled up in a ball with her head resting on her knees. She
also appeared to be asleep because aside from her light breathing she wasn't
moving. He was going to wake her up but instead gazed at her horns. This was the
first time he had ever seen them this close. Her horns a pawn closer inspection had
an almost crystalline structure and with their crimson red color, they almost
looked like they were made of ruby. The only word that he could think to describe
them was, beautiful.

"Darling, you pervert." She said softly interrupting his thoughts. "Quit staring."

"S-Sorry!" He said in surprise reeling back.

"It's fine. The doctor says that parasites are better off being a little pervy."
She said with a smile.

"Still, why does that make me a pervert?" He asked halfheartedly.

Getting up she stretched and said. "I was tired of waiting for you. Let's go."

Turning, she made her way towards an exit off the main lobby.

"Huh? Where are we going?" He asked as he started off after her.

She didn't answer but continued walking down the corridor she had chosen. Up ahead
was a security forcefield. Why she had picked this corridor caught him as odd since
none of the parasites had the security clearance to pass through that field. When
she reached it however she passed through without encountering any resistance at
all. He made to do the same but as he originally predicted the forcefield refused
to let him through and made a loud beep. Turning she looked questioningly at him.

"We children have restrictions on where we're allowed to go. Nearly all of this
area is off-limits to us." He provided as a way of explanations.

"Oh?" Turning she held up her hand and smiled.

"Is that an S-class ID?" He said astonished.

Saying nothing she walked through the barrier again and put one arm around his
waist and grabbed his hand with one of hers.

"Wh-What are you doing?" He asked confused.

"If we go through together, like this.." And in an almost waltz-like motion, they
walked through the barrier.

"I got in!" He said astonished.

Letting go of him she ran forward a few steps and gave a little bow. "See? Piece of
cake."

The door at the end of the hallway opened onto a vast balcony that overlooked a
sparkling golden city.

"Wow! This is amazing!" He gasped. "How did you know about this place?" He
continued still in astonishment.

"All the plantations have similar designs. This is nothing special." She said
disinterestedly.

"Really? I've never set foot in the city before. All I have ever known is
Mistilteinn and a few other facilities." He said still in somewhat awe.

"This is all just a mask to hide behind." She said with just a slight note of
disgust in her voice.

The way she said those words caught Hiro as odd and for some reason; he got the
feeling that she was talking about more than just the city.

"What is the mask hiding?" He inquired curiously.

"What humanity has become." She stated simply. "A series of dead one-way streets
that lead nowhere."

With that, she jumped over the rail and onto a narrow beam that hung over the
endless city. She walked forward until she was standing at the very end.

"That's not safe!" He shouted in horror. "Please come back over here."

"Say, darling." She said interrupting him and turning she looked him straight in
the eye. "Do you wanna run away with me? I can get you out of here, darling."

"Get you out. Get you out. Get you out." Echoed through his mind.

Glass smashed. A little red figure wearing a black ragged coat was huddled in a
corner of a blank room. A voice called from a branch outside. "Come with me! I can
get you out of here!" A small pink hand reached forward almost pleading with the
figure to come with him. "Please!"

"Please! Please! Please!" Snapping back to reality he saw Zero Two cartwheeling on
the beam toward him. Before she reached him she flipped into the air and landed
next to him.

"Just kidding." She said sweetly.

"Don't do that ever again! You could have gotten yourself killed!" He said with
more intensity then he had meant to.
A loud beeping came from his communicator before he could continue. Irritably he
pulled it out and accepted the voice call that he had just been sent.

"Hello." He called into the communicator.

"Hiro." Called the voice of Nana. "Come to the briefing room; your squamates will
meet you there."

"Roger." He called back and hung up.

Lifting his head he saw that Zero Two was looking at him with a strange look on her
face. It was very difficult to read and kind of looked like it was a mixer of
surprise, hope, and sorrow all at once.

"I shouldn't have shouted." He said apologetically. "I'm not sure what came over
me."

"You're fine." She said in her usual tone. "In fact, I think this may be the first
time anyone's ever worried about my safety before."

"Oh." He said lamely feeling the heat crawl up his face.

"Don't we have a meeting to get to?" She said teasing.

"Y-Yes. Of course. We should be going." He said recovering.

Squad 13 was already in the briefing room when they arrived. Silently he and Zero
Two took a seat on one of the benches.

Without any preamble, Hachi began to speak. "We would like to confirm the piloting
abilities of Code 016. So Code 016 is going to participate in a mock battle."

"A mock battle with me in an actual FRANXX?" Hiro said in surprise.

"Yes, that is correct." Answer Nana simply. "Based on how you perform here we're
considering promoting you to a parasite."

"Congrats." Goro whispered from behind him.

"Thanks." He whispered back; still in some shock. This could be it. Would he
finally be able to serve his purpose? Did this mean Zero Two was joining Squad 13?
"I really hope that's the case." He thought to himself. Just at the thought of it,
his heart started to beat a little faster.

As if a dream was coming true he heard Hachi say. "Pick your partner."

"I'll do it." Zero Two said before Hachi had even finished speaking.

"Zero Two." He said relieved.

"Well I mean, you are my darling." She said as if stating an obvious fact.

"One moment." Ichigo interrupted. "Let me be his partner."

"Ichigo?" He said aghast.

Ignoring him Ichigo plowed on. "She doesn't belong to our squad. Also, if you're
only measuring Hiro's aptitude, then it should work with me as his partner."
"Then why does it have to be you?" Mitsuru said. "You already have Goro as a
partner, and you want to ride with Hiro?"

"I agree with Ichigo." Goro interjected. "Ichigo has the highest aptitude numbers
of the whole squad. If anybody can draw out or demonstrate Hiro's abilities it's
her."

"That answer was ready way to quickly." Hiro thought to himself. He couldn't help
but get the feeling that Goro and Ichigo knew what they were going to say long
before they had ever gotten to this meeting. His question was "Why? Did they know
something about Zero Two?" He doubted it. He had spent by far the most time with
her compared to the rest of the squad.

"Pipe Down." Nana said. Interrupting his thoughts.

Nana directed her words at Zero Two. "HQ hasn't authorized the use of Strelizia. So
Hiro will need to take the test with one of his squad.

"Well, that sucks." Zero Two said dryly.

Getting up she said. "Fine. My injuries haven't healed completely yet, anyway."

"Wait, what?" Hiro said surprise and concern entering his voice.

Ignoring him Zero Two walked over to Ichigo and said slyly. "I'll let you have him
this time. Go for it." She then bent over and whispered something in Ichigo's ear
before turning and leaving.

"So you'll handle it, right, Ichigo?" Nana said

"Yes, of course." Ichigo replied after a moments pause.

"Who will volunteer as their opponents?" Hachi asked.

"Me!" Zorome said instantly.

"Hey who died and made you boss?" His partner Miku said her attitude as fiery as
her red hair.

"I'm gonna show 'em what I'm capable of." Zorome replied.

Sighing Miku said. "Fine, we'll do it."

"Done." Nana said quickly.

"The fight will be scheduled for tomorrow morning." Hachi began speaking.

"Wait! Let's do it right now." Zorome interjected.

"Very well." Hachi said tapping his datapad. " The necessary FRANXXs will be placed
outside the plantation in thirty minutes. Don't be late."

Hiro stepped into the area that had been set up outside the plantation. Since Earth
was nothing but a barren waste land that was only fit to be harvested for magma
energy; all the administrators had to do was move the FRANXXs outside. Both the
FRANXXs where kneeing at opposite ends of the area and waiting for their pilots.

Each FRANXX was designed to embody its female pilot, due to the fact that the
females were the ones who interfaced directly with the FRANXX. The males filled a
more guidance and support role. They were the ones who had the initiative with the
controls so it was their job to be alert and know how to best use the FRANXX to its
maximum potential. In an ideal world however, both the male and female aspects of
the FRANXX would become one; and the FRANXX would be the embodiment of a combined
mind. This was unheard of however since no parasite team had ever reached the sync
rate required to achieve such a feat.

Ichigo was standing by her FRANXX Delphinium, and looking somewhat nervous. She was
already in her skin tight parasite suit. All the female suits had the same design
with a headpiece that functioned as a display and control handles that deployed
from their legs when in use.

Slowly he made his way over to her. He wasn't sure how he felt about this whole
ordeal. On one hand, he really wanted to prove that he was a capable parasite. On
the other however, he felt that this was going to end in a similar way that it had
every other time. He wondered why that the only person he had ever been able to
sync with was Zero Two. The only reason he could think of is that Zero Two felt so
familiar to him. But that made no sense since he had only met her a little over 24
hours ago. "Life does the strangest things." He muttered to himself.

"You ready?" Ichigo said when he had finally meandered his way over.

"Yep. Let's do this." He said with a smile.

They both walked over to the mobile lift that had been provided and began to
ascend. From his rising vantage point, he saw Zero Two, Nana, Hachi, the members of
Squad 13 who weren't participating, and. "Is that Dr. Franxx?" He said allowed.

Ichigo looked and yelped. "I think it is!"

"I wonder what he's doing here?" He pondered allowed.

"Beats me." She said confused.

They arrived that the Delphimium's head a few moments later. Reaching out Hiro
touched his hand to the FRANXX. The hard metal felt cold and stiff beneath his
hand. The faceplate to the FRANXX opened a few moments later revealing the entrance
to the cockpit. The door opened and they took their places inside. Hiro sat at the
back and Ichigo was kneeling on all fours in front of him.

"Alright, wuss lets see what you're made of" Called Zorome's voice over the
communicator.

"Commence syncing." Hachi's voice called.

A few moments later he heard Zorome and Miku call. "Ready!"

Ichigo deployed the controls and activated her display. "Just focus on connecting,
Hiro. I'll take care of the rest."

"Got it." He replied.

Reaching forward he grabbed the controls. The display on Ichigo's head came alive
as her sync rate flew to the max. His rate, however, had barely moved at all.

"Just relax and focus Hiro." Ichigo called over her shoulder.

He took a deep breath and tried to connect. Grasping, he desperately searched for
Ichigo's mind. His sync just rate dropped even further and was now hovering
dangerously close to zero.

Faintly he heard Hachi's ever so familiar count down. "Ten. Nine. Eight. Seven.
Six. Five. Four. Three. Two. One." "Timed out." "The mock battle is over."
"Delphinium's parasite team has failed to sync in time. The battle is forfeit to
Argentea's team. Both teams please return to the ground."

"Well, I was expecting more of a challenge. I guess those low code numbers don't
amount to very much." Came Zorome's sneering lear.

Hiro didn't even listen he just got up and walked nubbly to the lift. Ichigo joined
him a few seconds later and they descended in silence. Nubbly he thought. "Here I
am being tied to the ground once more. I wonder. Will I ever fly?"