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À la lumière de l'amour de ma mère

posted on Archive Of Our Own on the 6th of february 2021.
14,312 words.

Teen And Up Audiences

Archive Warning:
No Archive Warnings Apply


Metal Gear

Otacon & Dr. Strangelove (Metal Gear), Otacon & Solid SnakeThe Boss & Dr. Strangelove (Metal Gear)

Otacon (Metal Gear), Dr. Strangelove (Metal Gear), Solid Snake, The Boss (Metal Gear), Mammal Pod

Additional Tags:
no "Snake/Otacon" tag as it is mostly readable as platonic but BOY we are TOEING that line
it’s still Philanthropy Days so they live together (and you can guess what that entails)
HEAVILY Implied/At This Point More Or Less Canon Strangelove/The Boss
i did not put it as a relationship tag because it isn’t the focus of the story—still there though
Canonical Character Death
Family Feels
Family Secrets
you know what happened to Strangelove you can piece together what I mean
vague references to Otacon’s past/childhood as told in MGS
Artificial Intelligence
Ghost In The Machine (Literal), Ghosts… In General?
Seemingly Alive Supposed-Conscienceless Technolog
Meeting Mom (but messed up)
Meeting Mom’s GF (but messed up)
Lucid Dreaming
Dream Visits
The Author Has Little Knowledge of 70s Technology
I Would Assume This Is Not How Most Of This Works
This Is Likely Not How You'd Retrieve Information From The AI Pod But I Never Tried So I Can't Know.


"The strange, cylindrical shell had come to them with an eight-inch floppy diskette.
Snake liked to hold it up and look through the central circle, observing Otacon across the room.
It was labelled with a simple white tag: a string of incomprehensible numbers, a year, a location that had been written over a few times, and, in a dulling red ink, the words 'BS-Imago'."

Hal gets possession of the Mammal Pod. The memory boards only wait for him to pull them out.

[chapter 1]    chapter 2    chapter 3
chapter 4    chapter 5

Chapter Notes

This takes place somewhere between the end of events of MGS2 and them getting Sunny.
The whole thing contains spoilers for MGSPW and MGSVTPP (especially Strangelove's tapes on both) and necessitates to have at least vague knowledge of these to understand. 😏.

I must say that the "who gave them back the Mammal Pod?" is never explained. This is simply not about her journey.
In my heart and mind I know who I see did it but shhh... that's another canon divergence for another time 😏

The Mother Shell

She stood almost nine feet tall, a silent, sleek monolith.
She looked out of place in the storage unit they were renting, hidden somewhere in the beating heart of the city, but, if we were being honest, she would look out of place everywhere else.
The concrete walls muffled the world around, cradling her—and Hal, who didn’t dare to stand, and had to kneel—in a cold, grey, tranquil cocoon. He hadn’t found the strength to turn on the fluorescent lights overhead. Engulfed, still, in a contemplative, almost pious silence, he kept his eyes on her; on her black, slick reptilian shell.

She had rust here and there, making her seem blood-stained. The great big eye under her crown of neons (which, he assumed, would light up eventually) looked almost familiar.
Hal pulled himself on his knees and crawled a foot forward. He sat back on his heels and kept a shy, reverent distance.
Eventually, he reached out a hand, expecting electricity or radiation to paralyze him in the spot—but neither came. He grazed the shell with his fingertips, not daring more.
It had the barest of hint of texture; like pores, like goosebumps.

“Do you want me to leave?” asked Snake. He had stayed back a respectful few feet. Feigned nonchalance cocked his silhouette as he leaned his back against a concrete wall, but he mostly felt uneasy. He had never been good with family reunions, especially not his own. This time was only different because the cold, emotionless family member Otacon was talking to couldn't reply.

Hal barely looked at him over his shoulder, as if not daring to fully tear his gaze. He answered: "No… it's fine. We're not staying much longer anyways."

Snake noted how he phrased it. As if too much guilt would weigh on his bony shoulders if he implied he'd be the only one to leave.
The monolith couldn’t hear him, or at least Snake didn’t think it could, but he still noticed how Otacon walked around his words when in range of its perceived ears.

Eventually, Hal took a step back. He first withdrew his knees to his chest, bowing his head, and pulled himself on his legs. He carefully kept his eyes off the monolith as he turned on his heels and walked up to Snake where he was waiting for him.

“We’re leaving?”

“Yeah. I have to bring my things in here before I can do anything.”

“What are you planning to do?”

Otacon shrugged as he pried open the door of the storage unit. “I’ll see. I don’t think I can crack it open.”

“But if you could?”

Otacon fell silent. Played mindlessly with the keys in his hand until it smelled of rust. “... I’ll see.”



The monolith had come to them with an eight-inch floppy diskette. Snake liked to hold it up and look through the central circle, observing Otacon across the room. It was labeled with a simple white tag: a string of incomprehensible numbers, a year, a location that had been written over a few times, and, in a dulling red ink, the words “BS-Imago”.
The sealed envelope it had come in bore the words “Thought you might want to know.”
David recognized the handwriting without ever really. It ate him up inside when he read.

Otacon had ferreted out a disk drive from some guy. He didn’t really seem to understand the weight and history of the thing because he sold it to Otacon for twenty bucks and two spare tires (that they didn’t need anymore because they had ditched the escape car already). Snake had gone to pick the package up—he was the least recognizable of the two with his newly-dyed auburn hair.

“The write-protect notch is taped,” Otacon had noted when he first held the diskette in his hands. “It was taped a few times over. Someone wanted to keep everything that’s on this thing safe.”

Snake didn’t really understand how these two parts of his sentence correlated, but after all, his knowledge of computer science was quite limited.


Otacon’s corner of the room looked like a minefield, Snake unable to stride across and having to very carefully avoid a bunch of computer parts discarded on the floor. It reminded him faintly of a seafood market where the fish would be gutted and their insides tipped on the slippery ground. He didn’t ever recall going to a seafood market.

“Any luck?” he eventually asked when he had enough of standing in the entryway.

Otacon tilted his head towards him as if to catch his words better before promptly cocking it back straight on his shoulders, leaning towards his screen. “I’m just setting it up. I’m having trouble getting my computer to recognize the hardware, it’s probably because it’s just old.”

“But you’ll get there?”

Otacon snorted out a hearty chuckle. “Yeah. Yeah, I’ll get there.”


Hal’s eyes ran from line to line, break to break. Some of it was comprehensible to David, who watched the screen alongside him, his chair flanking Otacon’s by the long-legged table they made his computer desk; the rest was unintelligible programspeak. Otacon didn’t seem to have a single issue following the clunky, obsolete characters stretching in lines across the monitor.

When Snake inquired about it, he simply responded: “It’s old for sure, but I can still understand it. A lot of this language survived to this day, you just have to have an eye for it.”

“Which you do,” added Snake. Maybe he meant it as a question, but his flat, matter-of-fact tone betrayed him (he simply knew). Otacon’s mouth quirked in an almost prideful smile.

He wandered through the jungle of data, line after line like one would go trench after trench. Worry ate at his eyes (they widened surreptitiously). The light grew harsher and harsher as the sun set. Eventually, Snake slipped off his chair and got them takeout.


“How are things going?” Snake asked over Hal’s hunched shoulders. He hadn’t moved, hadn’t spoken since he had gotten his computer to read the diskette.

Otacon’s back suddenly straightened and he twisted on his chair. Snake could see he was sitting on it with his legs crossed again. He sighed, already expecting Hal to complain and whine about backache for the next few days.

“Well,” Otacon started, the resignation in his voice betraying his already setting-in exhaustion, “there is a lot of data. More than I expected, in fact.”

Snake walked to his desk and picked up an empty box that previously contained a hearty serving of Pad Thai.

“A lot of it seems to be, uh, filler data,” Otacon continued. “To make it harder to extract the actual data. Whoever wrote this really wanted to keep it safe.”

Hal reached for a few lines on the screen with a bony finger.

“I can still read it. Once you find which parts can be discarded, it’s easy to navigate through.”

“Found anything of interest?” Snake asked, following the finger across the pixels.

Otacon readjusted his glasses, his hand twitching with a nervous tic that Snake started to know well—it’s not quite fear, but it’s damn close.

“Dates, a lot. Years. Some lines seemed to be used to record milestones in whatever project this was. Some notes of corrections made. Initials...”

He pointed. Snake leaned in.



“Anyone you know?”

Otacon shook his head.

“I don’t even know if it’s supposed to be a first and last name, in what order, if it’s something completely different…”

Otacon scrolled up and down to further his point, showing Snake every instance of the two letters he could find.

“Why does it appear so often?”

Otacon glanced at him sideways—a wide, insectoid eye finding his partner from under the temples of his glasses, a quirk of his that Snake had learned to appreciate. A nervous chuckle whistled past his lips.

“Well, computer scientists—programmers, coders, engineers—we tend to… be proud of what we make.” He mindlessly and pointlessly moved the mouse around, fingers sending it from one side of his grasp to the other. “My name is somewhere on everything I’ve written for REX. The blueprints, the sketches, the codes. This nuclear annihilation machine has the Emmerich seal on it.” He fidgeted, shook as if ran through by a current. “... It wouldn’t be the first one, anyway.”

Snake shot him a glance that cut his self-flagellating short, his insisting, sharp eyes encouraging him to continue:

“It’s mostly directives. There are a few very elaborate commands in here that I do not think a computer could execute. Some lines read more like…” He scrolled up, down, re-read. “Well. You wouldn’t talk to a computer like that.”

“Like what?”


Snake watched Otacon rummage through inked pages of a notepad, bent and crumpled from how long he’d had it, and push under the desktop light some freshly-smeared lines of writing. Snake squinted. Otacon was illegible. The stress showed through how tight he looped his o’s and a’s, how sharp he cut his i’s.

“... Some parts just read like a love letter.”

They kept silent. The floppy drive purred restlessly, Otacon’s computer tower snored. He fidgeted with the pages of his notepad, growing increasingly uncomfortable as Snake read and re-read his notes. Maybe he shouldn’t be showing that, he thought. Maybe he shouldn’t be reading that.
He didn’t know who these lines were addressed to, but he knew they weren’t meant to be read in clunky and awkward pixels on a 2006 LCD monitor.
He didn’t want to think the square, bendy floppy was a Pandora’s box. Nothing in here read like a curse, but then again, he thought, they just seemed to find him anyway.

Eventually, Snake’s voice slipped over the purr of the hardware.

“What do you think is in there?”

He didn’t specify where.
Hal shrugged, not asking for specification, not specifying.
He scraped with a mindless nail the ink setting in the creases and pores of his hand.
It looks like blood in his low light,” he thought. He promptly swallowed that back and closed his fists, hoping to crush the mental image in them.



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