His first thought was simple enough; a grand total of 'Fuck...'
He'd lost track of the years he'd spent bickering with the people in the foundation. It had been well over a decade since he left the Alliance mobile suit development program along with five old friends, which had since fallen out of touch. It was just as long since he'd last gotten to actually build some of the things he dreamed up.
Until last night, when everything changed. Quinze had stopped by his little workshop. The man had grown ever more bitter since Heero Yuy got assassinated, and by now he was flat out vitriolic. He'd become more of an eyesore than a sight for sore eyes - not that it mattered much to J. His real eyes were long lost, and the biomechanical implants gave him itches he couldn't scratch.
It was a minuscule price for vision, though. His handicaps had not affected his mind; he could still see far beyond anyone else. J had a good feel about how things would play out - and the Barton Foundation's plan for vengeance and domination would not be successful, even if he chose to support it fully.
Then Quinze had told him he'd been granted the funds to build a new weapon - a Gundam.
The Barton Foundation only knew of the concept as a powerful mobile suit, nothing more. J grinned to himself, snapped his three-fingered claw after a fly buzzing by, missing by a wide margin. Oh, how wrong they were...
After Quinze left, so had J. He had headed for the nearest bar and made his body as drunk as his mind. It wasn't in celebration, but more of a wake. He wasn't sure for what or whom. Perhaps himself.
He'd collapsed in an alley heading home, sat down to let his body work on the alcohol, just as surely as his mind worked design schematics. Blueprints formed and changed, limited no longer by money, only available material - but with a blank check, that was hardly a concern anymore. This Gundam would be spectacular, indeed.
And so far, it was all in his head. He didn't dare commit anything to paper, lest he become dispensable.
And there were several elements missing.
Like a pilot.
He couldn't make the suit react fast enough to remote control, and a fully automated system was even worse. If people began to forget the dying and screaming; the fear of death and maiming - if they only thought of war as some kind of great videogame, then surely the vague concept known as 'peace' would forever be lost.
A pilot... The Barton Foundation would probably pick some brawny knucklehead with a temper - someone who shared their agenda. J shook his head. No, such a pilot would never do.
Footsteps alerted him, even in his inebriated state. The neighborhood wasn't the best, and he'd learned to be careful. His eyes, his claw and his cane painted a picture of an easy target. It had been a few weeks since he last had to prove some punks the error of that picture.
They were probably out of the hospital by now.
The footsteps stopped. A kid was watching him; a young boy, probably no more than eight, ten tops. No, not just watching - studying, evaluating. There was nothing of the haunted look most of the seasoned street urchins evolved about him - perhaps this kid hadn't been on the street for very long, then.
There was something about his stance that inspired a strange sense of trust, of dependability. J couldn't help but smile just a little. There was something about this kid he really liked, but he couldn't quite put a finger on it...
"Hey..." he greeted the kid.
No change in expression. The boy kept looking at him, his body showing signs of readiness to counterattack, if J proved dangerous.
Oh, yeah... J finally realized why he liked the kid. "You've got good eyes..."
There was no fear there at all - there was little of anything there, really, except a fierce determination in cold blue. This kid would go far, J surmised - if he was steered right...
He grinned to himself. Oh, the kid was definitely alert now, studying him intently - perhaps thinking of killing him. J reached for a discarded soda can with his claw and promptly crushed it with his three metal fingers, all to show he might be a cripple, but not an easy target to kill or mug - just in case his hunch about the kid was wrong.
But he didn't think so. Perhaps this could work out after all... "Want to become a Gundam pilot?"
At that, the kid hesitated for just a few seconds. J could see the boy didn't even know what a Gundam was - which few outside the foundation did.
At least for now. The world would know soon enough - and never forget.
The boy approached him, stood there. For a moment, J thought the kid was about to help him up - but he didn't; he simply stood there like a good little soldier, not acting without a proper command.
J grinned as he stumbled himself onto his wobbly legs and cane. Oh yes, this kid would go far - under his guidance.