[05.13.00] » by Alex Weitzman
Characters, events, etc. are based on Squaresoft's Xenogears. Sue me.
WARNING: The story following is based almost entirely on events of the second disk of the Playstation game Xenogears. Hence, it contains innumerable spoilers. It is suggested that the reader finish the game itself before reading. As it serves as a clarification of the second disk events, it is conceivable to read alongside playing the game, but that'd probably end up being severely awkward anyway.
Elhaym Van Houten, commonly known as Elly, furnished her battle rods as she warily looked about the two stretches of field to the left and right of her. The smaller figure beside her tugged the skirt on her Solarian uniform, jumping, and said without caution, "Look! Look! Elly! Elly! Is that the place?"
Elly looked straight now, at the metal door in the side of the ground-embedded facility. She nodded. "Yes, Emeralda, that is the Mass-driver." She kneeled down to Emeralda's height and said, "Now, are you ready for this? There could be a lot of defenses inside and this time you're not in Crescens. You might want to stay close to me."
Emeralda protested, "I don't need my gear! I'll do THIS to anybody who tries to stop me!" She shot out her hand, in the form of a blade, over at a rock very close to Elly's shoulder. Elly paused in silent shock as it split in two. She had only seen Emeralda fight in her gear. This ability was something new to her, but she resolved to ask Citan about the nanomachine girl's powers later.
They began a quick sprint over to the entrance in view, able to avoid any interference. Elly opened a panel to try and rewire the door so that she could feed it some power and open it. But when she opened it, the buttons were alight. She exclaimed, "It's still working! That may mean we won't run into too many problems." Emeralda jumped up and pressed the button before Elly could, opening the door. As Emeralda rushed in, Elly said in mock annoyance, "Hey, you little sea urchin!"
As they continued on, they encountered no security measures on the part of the base, but they did have to climb over some debris. After clearing one specific hunk of fallen metal, the two young women saw a missile graveyard, a place where rockets and the such were stored but would never be released. Elly muttered, "What form of people were these to feel it necessary to create so many-"
She cut herself off, then turned to the equally transfixed Emeralda and asked, "Do you remember anything of the people in general from the time of your 'birth'?" Emeralda shook her head. "Kim didn't let me out yet. All I know is Kim. Just Kim." Elly got sick of that name a while ago. "You mean Fei?" Emeralda nodded. "Yes, Fei's Kim." Elly didn't bother to pursue as she got her answer.
Finally making it to the release cannon, Elly searched the room with her eyes and frowned. "Citan's not here yet, and it still may not be safe here," she mumbled. Then, she was tapped on the shoulder. Elly, startled, turned quickly towards Citan, standing behind her.
He smiled. "Don't worry, Elly. I'm still on your side." He walked up the controls. "Now, what say we do the people of this planet a big favor?"
As the orb accelerated up and through the atmosphere, Elly smiled. She truly was a hero. And they just saved everybody from the horrible fate of ignorance and fear. It was a feeling of true bliss. Elly knew that it was the best feeling she ever had. Then, she took it back. She knew it could get better: her feelings can only improve while she's with Fei. She said to her two companions, "Let's go to Shevat and help Fei protect the peace signing."
Turn of the key.
Whirring of the motor.
And Jimmy Harper was off, groceries in the gentle tow of the back of his boat. Checking his navigation charts, he veered slightly left, which unfortunately added the glare of the sunset to his eyes. He traveled for about 15 minutes at top speed until he could see the island in the distance, with the house on the shore. Landing at the dock, Jimmy unloaded the supplies and walked into the house. He set things down and began to put them into the refrigerator, muttering, "3 weeks....on my own..."
Upon his finish, he cooked himself a subpar dinner and went to bed unsatisfied from the stomach up.
In the morning, Jimmy got up insanely drowsy. Glancing at the clock, he noticed he slept for ten hours.
I just can't get up today, he thought.
He managed to lift himself up despite his blurry morning vision and made his wobbly way towards the kitchen. Swinging the fridge door open, he grabbed the milk and chugged it from the carton, knowing it to be his pick-me-up. As he put the carton back, he blinked several times and regained vision. And that's when he saw it. His hands. About four of his ten fingers were bent backwards and sideways in unimaginable ways.
Gasping out loud, he rushed to the bathroom to splash his face, hoping what he had seen was just a blurred daybreak delusion. But when he got there, he realized what else was wrong with his body. In the mirror, he saw that his ears were stretched to being five inches long each; his hair was gone except for a couple of small strands that stuck up like needles; his eyebrows had grown to almost completely protrude over his eyes; his nose was raised to the up-right and had been pushed in so the nostril openings were parallel to the face; and his entire head was bluish.
Looking over the rest of himself, he found that, strangely, his blue head and normal-colored bent fingers were the only problems. However, the sight still made him panic. Putting on his pants from last night and a new shirt, he grabbed the keys and leaped into the motorboat. He pushed it to the max and made it to shore in ten minutes. Running, almost stumbling over himself, he advanced to the supermarket he had gotten his eats from before he left. But the couple of people outside screamed and dismayed almost more than Jimmy initially did. Quickly coming to conclusion of his situation, he did the only thing that came to him, which was to run more. Salivating heavily, he ran straight into a forest.
He ran for so long, his feet kept going even when he felt dead tired. Finally, after twenty hours, in the midst of the woods, he came upon a small house with smoke coming from the chimney. He knocked on the door and passed out.
The next time Jimmy saw light, he was lying, naked, on a cot. Trying to move, but being unsuccessful at it, he opened his eyes so he could at least see what was going on. He saw loads on books shelved on a stone wall. The light in the room was coming from a lamp in front of him and some odd green glow coming from the side. But the big surprise was when he looked lower and saw his hands. The fingers were completely back to normal.
Jimmy gasped and tried to move his arm so he could feel his head. He wanted to know if hair was up there again. But he couldn't. He felt no restraints; his body just wouldn't move anything from the neck down. Jimmy muttered something about legs and then he realized that he COULD talk. Taking in a deep breath, he yelled, "HELP!!"
In rushed a creature that looked even weirder than Jimmy did in his transformed state. He was almost a living oval, with a muumuu of sorts that only allowed for his small arms and a head only 3 inches higher than the collar. The creature first said, "What?!" and then calmed as he realized that the person on the cot had shouted the word. He walked up to the cot and said, "Oh, it's you. Clever attention-grabber, Mr.-" He paused to take out Jimmy's wallet and read the boater's license. "-Harper."
Jimmy wasted no time in saying, "What's going on here? Where am I?" The creature nodded - to the best of his ability, that is - and replied, "Ah, yes. I supposed you would have very little understanding of what has clearly happened to you. You're quite an interesting case. But enough idle speculation. I'm Taura. You arrived at my abode here last night in a mutated state. Simply put, you were one of the Wels."
Taura paused, and asked, "What continent are you from?"
"The southern part of Ignas."
"Okay then. You haven't heard of Wels, so we can tell you that story later."
Jimmy looked incredulous. "We?"
Taura smiled, breathed in, and replied, "There are many players in the game you have yet to meet. The game itself, before you ask, is a matter of the liberation of the populace from a mass control set up by a extensive conspiracy involving falsified religions and puppet governments."
Jimmy stayed silent for a quick second and then laughed. "You know what's so amazing about that? You said that entire mouthful in one breath. That's a lot of thinking to absorb RIGHT NOW, Taura, so why don't you just tell me about the setup in this room? What's that glow?"
Taura grinned and began to explain, "That is the glow of the nanomachine terminals. Nanomachines are microscopic, and they can create nearly anything in these terminals of mine." Taura turned Jimmy's head to see the terminals, two tubes of greenish water with controls on the bottom. Taura continued, "I sent the nanomachines into your body to reconstruct your head and hands to their original form, the look of which I got from the pictures in your wallet. It's a new process, and where it usually takes me about twenty minutes to figure out what to do with my nanos, your misfortune took me a record hour and a half. After that, it was surprisingly quick. You've been asleep for twelve hours, which includes the time it took for me to devise the process. For somebody to return to human form from a mutate, it just seems near impossible."
Taura stopped to think, and Jimmy jumped at the chance to finally get a word in. "Wait a sec. Why can't I move?"
Taura broke his concentration and said, "Oh! Yes, your lack of mobility and ability to sense things from your neck down is because I sent the nanos throughout all of your body. You just recently completed returning to your real body, but remember that only your head and hands mutated. The nanos in those parts of your body dissolved, but the other nanos need another outlet. You can't tell due to your numbness, but your cot is over a toilet. As disgusting as it sounds, you are right now continually urinating, your body's natural outlet for unknown substances. Don't worry about your privacy, as I am skilled in many medical practices. Anyway, you were naked in the tube, so it's no big deal to be laying stomach down on a cot."
Jimmy looked askance at the old one. "Um, no big deal? That so-called 'game' of yours has to be major for my mutation and now constant....urination....to not be a big deal."
Taura lowered his grin a little. "My friend, you have no idea."
Jimmy finished dressing and turned to knock on the door to signify his completion. Taura opened the door and immediately said, "Sorry about that. My bathroom only locks from the outside."
"Isn't that immensely inconvenient?" Jimmy retorted.
"I usually live here alone. It doesn't matter most of the time." Taura was going to continue but was interrupted when a spectacled man in a green shirt walked in slightly hurried and said, "Taura, you have to see this!" He then looked and saw Jimmy awake and dressed. "Oh! He's up, eh?"
Taura nodded. "Jimmy Harper, may I present Hyuga Ricd-"
The man cut him off. "Citan Uzuki will do at this time and place." Citan shook Jimmy's hand and said, "I assume you're interested in knowing what's happened to you and your body?"
Jimmy shrugged. "If it's all the same to you, I'd prefer a pinching so I can wake up and eat a lousy breakfast to go with what must have been last night's nightmare-inducing dinner."
Citan chuckled as he led Jimmy and Taura into the next room, also filled with equipment and books. "You're not getting off that easy. As it is," he said, pointing to a display of Jimmy's blood canals, "you've come in contact with what seems to be a couple of things. One of the two is a virus. I haven't identified what it is, as it's very new to me. It may or may not have had a part in your change. The other would be some nanos."
Jimmy scratched his chin. "But, I didn't even know what nanos were until Taura here used them to save me."
Citan nodded. "Makes perfect sense. The nanos you came in contact with were released by me, Elly, and Emeralda." Jimmy wasted no time in saying, "WHO?" Taura whispered, "Some more of the players."
Citan continued. "These nanos were meant to remove the Limiter seal inside of you - and everybody - to free you from fear of Solaris and its people. What my hypothesis entails would be that the removal of the Limiter converted you back to the true human form, commonly known as being a Wel. There are several things I don't understand, though."
"First, how did you come in contact with the nanos? They were released into a high altitude and shouldn't come down for about two more days. Second, what did the virus do? My hypothesis could be completely off if the virus had any part in the mutation. Also adding to that worry is that your virus entered at the same time as the seal-removing nanos, but began its function right after the removal of the seal. Why?"
Jimmy wondered about this man who was clearly now talking to himself.
"And third," Citan concluded, "why did your body move so fast?"
"Huh?" Jimmy quickly replied.
"Your mutation was healed by Taura's nanos, but the seal and virus were removed before your arrival at this house. It seems that your immune system was highly efficient in eliminating both from your bloodstream in mere hours after infection. There's something in your DNA that's the cause of it, but I won't know for sure until I return to Shevat and use their more advanced equipment."
Jimmy rattled his head. "That's, once again, a lot to absorb. What's Shevat?"
A small red light went off on Citan's watch, who then answered, "You may receive a better answer than most, my young friend. I need to keep an eye on you, but I'm needed elsewhere. So it's best that you come with me."
Taura spoke up as Citan dragged the confused and tired Jimmy to his Omnigear. "Hold on, Hyuga. He's just barely recovered and..."
Citan interrupted once more. "Don't worry. Fenrir's a smooth ride. Just look whose thoughts it runs on!"
Taura had nothing more to say as Citan loaded up his passenger and took off towards Nisan.
Jimmy couldn't decide what to turn his focus to - the incredible-looking cockpit he was now sitting in with Citan, or the landscape as it sped by at insane speed. He had very little time to dwell on the two, however, because soon he could see two very large metal monsters. One was a humongous pink figure walking towards a town that was already invaded by the second - what looked like a small sphere surrounded by innumerable metal rods, which did pretty much all the work as they shifted and hit.
All Jimmy could mutter was, "It's a Koosh ball..."
Citan, oblivious to the humor, said, "My god, they're attacking Nisan!" Looking to the pink figure, he said, "And the young one has resurrected Roni's ultimate weapon!" He turned to Jimmy and said, "Hold on. We're going to attach to the Yggdrasil IV and it may get bumpy." Jimmy just shook his head and said, "You're gonna have to start talking to me like a 4-year-old unless you have that much time to explain EVERYTHING to me."
Fenrir conjoined with Yggdrasil IV at the leg and Citan and Jimmy got out, with Jimmy in constant amazement of the size of the machine. A quick elevator up and they were in the control room. Citan knew exactly where to go and who to talk to, but Jimmy could only stand in the door, dumfounded at how much had happened to him in the past three hours. He was forced to move when a large, green bodybuilder-type with orange hair pushed him aside and said, "Move it, punk." He then moved up behind Citan, who was talking to a silver-haired man with an eyepatch.
Citan noticed Jimmy and brought him forward, saying, "Ah, this is the boy, Jimmy Harper. Jimmy, this is Sigurd, the first mate of the Yggdrasil and an old friend of mine." Citan turned to Sigurd and said, "The ordeal of Jimmy's I just described requires me to keep an eye on him, so I brought him with me."
Sigurd nodded. "That's quite apparent. Jimmy, do you feel strong enough to help us on the bridge, or would you prefer to sit somewhere?"
Jimmy shrugged. "Hey, I'm here, so I'll help. What can I do?"
"That would be up to the young master," said Sigurd as he gestured to the side. Jimmy turned to see a young man who looked to be the same age as him with another eyepatch walk up to him and shake his hand. "Hi there. I'm Bart, the captain of this vessel. And you?"
"Jimmy Harper, the bewildered pinball of the last few days. I'm afraid I know very little as to what this is all about, Bart."
Bart laughed and slapped Jimmy's back. "Ha! You ever hear of Nisan?"
"Yeah, that holy place."
"Well, it's under attack by that gear out there and we're the cavalry!" He led Jimmy to a large control setup being operated by a redheaded young woman. "We can always use help on the mechanical motion of this hulking beast. Welcome aboard, Jimmy!"
Jimmy could have sworn the guy was about to call him Private.
Bart continued, "If you need help, talk to Elly here. She'll be of use." Elly shot a look at Bart, who then simply shook Jimmy's hand again and headed off towards the wheel.
Jimmy shrugged. Maybe he was a little too friendly from the get-go, but he didn't seem all that bad. He turned to face Elly, who had turned to face him. They smiled at each other as Elly began. "Hi, I'm Elly. By the way, Bart's not always like that. You just caught him in a real good mood. He's very pleased to have resurrected this gear. So, you're new here?"
Jimmy nodded and thanked somebody up there that there seemed to be somebody he could get along with from the first impression. "Yeah, I've been dragged into this by one hell of a story. It's rather odd, but I suppose you, just like everyone else here, has a much better understanding of what's going on."
Elly smiled again. "Yeah. I can explain to you the details after this battle of ours. Here, let me show you the controls."
Just as Elly finished her tutoring, someone yelled, "We have contact! Prepare to engage enemy!" Elly finished up her sentence quickly and said, "Pull that release lever!" Jimmy did, and they began to work together as they formed an attack while other members kept tabs on the status of the large Gear, as others would hold down the opponent, referred to by Elly as Ft. Hurricane, and its offensives.
Soon, both Gears were tiring. The crew of the Yggdrasil was slightly unequal to the task of continuing, but they wouldn't give up.
Then, Hurricane pulled back all of its rods as it revealed its sphere for a quick second, then sent all of the rods forward in a huge attack that burst some lines in the cockpit. Crew members began to work on the fissures as Elly and Jimmy remained steadfast. Hurricane reared up for another super attack when Elly and Jimmy looked at each other at the same time and had the same idea at the same moment. Nodding to each other, both pulled their release levers just as the sphere was shown in vulnerability. The double punch sent Hurricane several miles away, rods falling off and machine breaking down.
The crew of the Yggdrasil crowded around Elly and Jimmy, but most crowded around Elly. However, Bart, Citan, and Sigurd went up to Jimmy and firmly shook his hands as they thanked him for his hard work. Once again, out of a pure lack in knowledge of what was happening, Jimmy simply shrugged.
A knock at the door. Jimmy got up and opened the door to his new courtesy home in Nisan that he just moved into. Bart walked in. "Hey, there. How are you feeling?"
Jimmy rubbed his head, motioned to the bottle of aspirin, and said, "Fine, considering that was my first Gear battle." Bart furrowed his brow as he sat. "You say that with such nonchalance. I thought you knew very little about anything that our little family is up to." Jimmy also sat. "No, Elly explained most of it to me afterwards. Which reminds me: You're the king?"
Bart shrugged. "I....I'm unsure about that. The people want me to be their king, but I don't really feel cut out for it."
Jimmy nodded. "Understood. I, myself, don't feel cut out for much other than what I do as it is."
Bart, catching that, retorted, "Hold on. That reminds ME: Who are you? Y'see, while you may now know plenty of the truth of the world, we all know very little about you other than that you were a Wel and you can legally drive a boat."
Jimmy laughed. "Yeah, in the whole confusion of mutations and nanomachines, I've forgotten to properly introduce myself." Jimmy stood up, took a large bow, and proclaimed, "I am James Thaddeus Harper, actor at large."
It was Bart's turn to laugh. "Actor! Geez, of all the things to come out of left field! You're going to have to tell Elly. She'll flip."
"Her, I told. We had a good talk."
Bart continued, "So, what were you doing out on some island all alone?"
Jimmy faded his big stage smile and sat again. "That's all due to my father. He....doesn't believe much in me or the acting trade. I'd been basing my life on doing community theatre productions and, well, he just didn't think I should do that. I made a bet with him that I could survive on my own for a full three weeks, and he took it, saying it was the easiest bet he ever won. The whole mutation thing occurred on the first morning of living alone."
Bart stayed silent for a second, then said, "I wouldn't know much about fathers who don't support their kids. Mine was the best dad anybody could have. But, I do understand being put into a position unnatural to one's spirit. Hey, if you ever need to talk, come on down."
Jimmy snickered. "Double for you. I can deal, but can you?"
Bart grinned. "Just watch me."
Both laughed and shook hands. Bart headed for the door, but said before going, "By the way, you're invited to the peace signing tomorrow, so wake early."
Jimmy yelled out as Bart walked away, "I make no promises!!!"
Jimmy was there as Bart shook the hand of Kaiser Sigmund for the first time and a simple piece of paper signaled the end of a long, drawn-out torture for both Aveh and Kislev. A torture brought about by the deceased Shakhan and the still-active Solaris.
The very second their hands touched in camaraderie, Bart and the Kaiser both noticed the sky as every citizen began to shout and holler with joy. Jimmy, himself a performer and no amateur to being a presence in public, let out a loud "WOO-HOO!!!!" before glancing in the direction of Bart's gaze.
It was filled with odd, red and blue dots that just seemed to come from nowhere, like a strange snow season. As the gathered audience noticed the uneasiness coming from their two newly joined leaders, they too looked up towards the heavens. Some muttered to themselves, some whispered to others, but most just stared in utter silence as the specks fell.
One particular young child watched a tiny red particle float down to his hand. But before he could move his hand to touch it, it disappeared into his skin. An excitable lad, he yelled out, "It's gone!!!" That's when people began to squirm between one another in worry.
In the meantime, Bart's watch beeped. He listened close, then motioned to Jimmy. "Jimmy! C'mon! Citan's got something to tell us and I think it's about what happening!" He grabbed Jimmy by the arm and ran with him towards the lowered site of Shevat. Jimmy no longer held the face of a flabbergasted youth, but one of surprised understanding, as he immediately noted what was happening as many of the crowd's participants began to double over in pain.
"Not quite, Jimmy, but close," said Citan when Jimmy echoed his suspicion. Citan pulled up a chart of diagnostics. Jimmy, searching the screen, eventually found his name on the bottom. This was his body's readout from the more advanced Shevat technology.
"As you can see, Jimmy's experience, like we've said before, was of two things: The nanos and a foreign virus. Thanks to Shevat, we have determined that the virus is the cause of the mutation." Citan sighed. "Which, of course, completely slashes my previous hypothesis."
"Don't worry about that!" Bart replied. "Just go on!"
"Well," Citan continued, "obviously this is another of Krelian's plots, as no one else is this good with biology and nanos, save for Taura. We've discovered the virus is special to this Mass-driver nano. Each viral protein and its DNA attach to a nano. One per. Multiple nanos come into the body, taking viruses with them. Then the virus waits for the nano to complete its duty, and it attacks, mutating the host into a Wel. Clearly this is done for two reasons. It makes us think the removal of the seal triggers the mutation, and it avoids being destroyed by the nano as it works."
Accumulating worry, Jimmy asked, "And that stuff is raining down now? Just as I was outside there?"
Citan, anticipating the ultimate point of his thought, said, "I wouldn't worry if I were you. It's not a virus that changes its own pattern. Like measles. Have it once and never again."
Jimmy let that sink in as Bart blurted, "Wait a minute. How did Jimmy contract a mutation several days earlier on his own?"
Citan nodded. "That was another of my questions that I answered. Look at this." Citan pulled up a new screen, this one covered in arrows that loop around over the planet. "This is a map of air currents. The air currents are what makes the Mass-driver nano plan work."
"How?" asked Bart, still not getting it.
"Simple. If there were no air currents, the nanos released from the Mass-driver capsule would fall straight down. Not only would that not reach the majority of the populous, but the capsule opened overseas. We had been counting on air currents the whole time."
Citan turned to Jimmy. "What we hadn't counted on was a certain speedy air current that swept its share of nanos and virus over to Jimmy's island. On that island, he was alone, so only he was affected. The current moved the nanos at four times the speed of the others, and that's why Jimmy's case came so early. Thankfully his body was good enough to remove the virus before getting in contact with any of us."
Jimmy perked up at that. "Didn't you say there was something in my DNA responsible for that? Have you figured that part out yet?"
Citan shook his head. "No, I don't have a sample. Mind if I take it now?" Jimmy held out his arm and Citan almost put in a needle when a voice from the intercom called up and said, "Taura has arrived with his equipment, Mr. Uzuki."
Citan stopped what he was about to do and joyfully said, "Okay. I'll be right down." He turned once more to Jimmy and patted his shoulder. "I'll get that sample later. Thanks to Taura's time with you, he feels that he's prepared to handle the effects of the virus right here in Nisan. You've been a great help to us, whether you know it or not. I'm going down to help Taura, so you are dismissed for now."
Some time later.....
"The M Plan," Fei said distastefully. "I knew the Gazel had more to do with this than they liked to let on."
Elly nodded. "They're an unsavory bunch and still act intellectual. I had the displeasure of being reviewed by them once. After my little accident in Jugend."
As Fei, Elly, and Citan began to prepare themselves for a coming battle at another Soylent System facility, they heard a knock on the door. Fei opened it to see Jimmy standing there. For a small period of time, the two were in slight shock. Jimmy had heard so much about Fei, the true leader of this cause. He heard Fei was strong enough to dent Gears. He heard Fei was the driver of the most powerful Gear there is against Shevat. And he heard it all from people who actually knew Fei. Jimmy was stunned to be meeting him, and while Jimmy was already very friendly with Bart, Elly, Taura, and Citan, Fei was just one of those people Jimmy couldn't feel he could approach, not even with his years of dramatic training. As for Fei, he couldn't help but admire someone who lived through being a Wel. And Fei was far inferior to Jimmy in the ability to simply approach people and talk to them.
Elly broke the spell by saying, "Jimmy! Hi! What's up?"
Jimmy walked in and bowed his usual stage bow. "I've come to wish you well on your exodus of the Wels. And to give you this." He tossed a small object to Citan. He caught it and examined it. "This is a video camera. The smallest I've ever seen."
Jimmy nodded. "Wear it on the side of your glasses and we, stuck in Nisan, can keep an eye on you. It may help you someday. As for the size, Taura showed me how to use the nanos. It's actually not that hard at all."
Elly jumped in by saying, "I hear you've been trying to set up a small drama troupe to pass the time and entertain the patients. How's that going?"
"Um, all I've got is Bart and Chu-chu. We still need a bunch more."
Fei entered the conversation with, "How about Elly? She's pretty dramatic."
Elly was surprised at the suggestion, but smoothed her expression looking at the pleading faces of Fei and Jimmy. "Okay. Count me in." She hit Fei on the shoulder. "Now we have to go, genius."
As the Soylent System broke down and produced a humongous Sufal Mass, Billy and the others watched the events, watching for anything else and hoping to assure the safety of their three agents in the field.
Bart and Jimmy weren't there, however. They had gone fishing in Nisan's lake.
Three weeks later...
Jimmy signed the pictures for the two little girls. It was a depressing sight, as they both had melted faces on one side and rabbit feet. Still, they were constant patrons of the Nisan Troupe, ever since their start about a week and a half ago. They loved the shows, commented how nobody ever did good plays anymore (to which Jimmy would constantly attribute to the majority thinking like his father), and wanted both his and Elly's autographs on pictures of their recurring characters that the girls had acquired.
One said, "Be sure to give those pictures to Elly!" Jimmy nodded, saluted them off, and wiped his forehead. The last thing he ever expected to do was give autographs.
Now, off to find Elly, he thought. She's gotta sign some photos...
He walked across the town and stopped dead. A humongous golden gear had stepped into town and Elly was talking to it.
"So don't hide the feelings near to your heart. Don't fear love...." Elly said loud enough to be picked up by the Gear's audio sensors. The megaphone hooked to the Gear began to pant and breathily said, "Y, you......now you......ARGH!!!!" It raised its claw high to swing at Elly.
Jimmy ran towards her and yelled, "MOVE IT, ELLY!!!" He pushed her out of the way as the Gear hit him in the side.
Insane agony in his midsection as he flew towards a wall.
Horrible pain in the back of his head as he hit it.
And then nothing.
The blanket rustled a bit as Jimmy's eyes began to blink. Suddenly, he opened his eyes wide and sat up quick. "Wh-what happened? Where am I?"
Margie put a wet cloth on his head. "Shhh. The clinic. You had a nasty bump. You've been asleep for five days. A lot has happened."
Jimmy nodded. "One would assume. I feel fine, though. If you don't mind, I'd like to get up and see what's going on."
"WHAT'S GOING ON?!?" yelled a voice from outside the building. Another yelled back, "Elly's going!!" Suddenly, the door swung open and Renk was standing there. He adopted a relieved expression and said, "Ah, good, yer awake. I'm gonna need one of those cameras of yours. I'll explain on the way."
Jimmy nodded, said goodbye to Margie, and followed Renk as they stopped off at Jimmy's home and headed off to the outskirts of Nisan. On the way, Renk explained how the second Anima Relic was gotten for Rico, Mahanon rose from the sea, and Krelian snatched almost everybody but Elly from Mahanon and is holding them hostage. Renk then told Jimmy the reason for the rush: Elly was going to leave almost immediately, without preparing supplies or anything. Him, Stratski, Helmholz, Vance, and Broyer were trying to get her ready, and possibly talk her out of going alone, when Jimmy woke.
They finally got there, with Vance trying his hardest to persuade Elly to put on a protection vest. Jimmy interrupted the scene and threw Elly the camera. Elly, seeing Jimmy was awake, took time to run over and hug him. Tearing up a bit, she said, "I wish I had the time to convey my gratitude for your bravery the other day, my concern for your condition, and my worry for our comrades, but I am really very rushed right now." She sadly chuckled a bit.
Jimmy, returning her hug, smiled and said in reply, "Don't push yourself too much. It's probably what Krelian will expect, from what I know about the guy." Finishing the embrace, he looked at her watery gaze and asked, "How in all the world did I end up here, trying so hard to act cool as you go off and risk your life?"
Elly shook her head. "You're a fantastic actor. Which reminds me, you need to know what's going on with the Troupe."
Jimmy snickered. "Tell me WHEN you return, not IF." She took the camera, put it behind her ear, and looked up at her Gear. The Omnigear. A glint of apprehension flickered across her face. For a second, it looked to Jimmy like she wouldn't go after all.
Suddenly, her fist clenched and she jumped up to the cockpit.
Two weeks later...
Jessie's watch was always an edgy one, but it always seemed to be worse when his coincided with Billy's. The two had made up, Jimmy had heard, but they certainly didn't act it. It reminded him of his own father. Only his own father didn't have any legitimate reasons to despise Jimmy's trade, like Jessie had for Billy's Ethos.
Despite all of this, they were still resolved to use as much of the equipment and to its full extent, if it meant finding Elly after Krelian took her.
However, the severe inability to find the homing traces of Elly's Shevat Omnigear was disheartening everybody. Billy tried once more with a search. In the meanwhile, Jessie tried to make chitchat with Jimmy.
"Hey, why haven't your troupe done any more shows lately?"
Jimmy looked askance at the silver-haired one. "That's probably because everybody's favorite redhead still isn't here."
"Oh. What's the big deal about that?"
Billy shook his head as Jimmy responded, "She's only the most popular cast member. It may help that she's also the one that every patient responds to OFF the stage as well."
Jessie shrugged. "Eh, I preferred Bart's performance. He's got spunk."
Jimmy snickered internally. He loved Bart, almost as a brother, but the guy was no actor. And this is a opinion shared by Sigurd.
Billy stopped the silliness by purposefully being loud as he said, "Nothing again! It's just getting to be pointless!" Meant to incite Jessie a bit, Billy backfired when Jessie answered, "You said it, Billy," and sat back in a reclining chair he had put in there.
Jimmy sighed as he recalled the last sight he had of Elly. Adjusting her camera....
"THAT'S IT!!!" Jimmy shrieked. "We're going about this all wrong. What if her Omnigear doesn't even exist anymore? That would explain why we can't find it!" Billy, listening to a new suggestion and preferring it to figuring one out himself, got up and offered the chair at the controls to Jimmy. He sat down and pulled up his electronic list of cameras made. #12 was what Elly had on her. Punching in a few codes, Jimmy prayed a bit, then caught himself. Wasn't sure that was viable anymore...
Suddenly a picture appeared onscreen. Of a metallic interior swarming with red and blue wires, with a dull white light coming from behind. It looked empty from what they could see. Billy said, "What's this?"
Jimmy grinned and replied, "The camera in Elly's ear. It's still functional." He then switched to map mode and identified where the signal was coming from. He pointed to the flashing red light, looked at the astonished Billy, and said, "Go there."
Billy rushed out.
Some time later, Jimmy had returned to his home in Nisan, tapping on the keyboard in front of him, with his own small set of green nanomachine terminals. He programmed in element choice, shape to take, process the object must achieve, and let the nanos work. Within five minutes, each of the two tubes had one of Jimmy's almost-trademark cameras floating within them.
Jimmy picked them out of the cylinders, dried them, and began to print a small number on both. As he carved in #s 25 and 26, the numbers reminded him of the calendar. Jimmy stopped what he was doing, put down the tools, and started to lose himself in thought.
How long had it been? Not including the four days of unconsciousness, he had been in Nisan for over a month. Over a month..... The bet he made with his father was only supposed to last three weeks. Now, for over a month, he'd been without his family. In fact, he had no idea if they were even still alive. Or at least still human. But other than that, he then realized he had no regrets. He had found a new family: Elly, Bart, Taura, Citan, Margie, Fei, and everybody.
"I.....I really do.....belong here...." he muttered.
Margie then knocked and subsequently opened the door without waiting for an answer. She first said, "Are you decent?"
Jimmy turned to her and said, "Never, but don't let that stop you."
Margie giggled a bit, and replied, "There's a man here who'd like to see you. He saw your picture in the Troupe window and apparently knows you. He's a bit mutated, but not as badly as he is wounded."
"Who is he?" Jimmy asked as he tried to make out the silhouetted figure behind her.
"Well, find out." She ushered the man in, then closed the door behind her as she left. And there they were. Staring at each other like both had seen a ghost. A ghost they secretly hoped to see, but now wished they weren't. Father and son.
Jimmy looked his father over. Margie was right: He was a bit mutated. His mutation consisted of bluish fur running over his exposed arms and a new growth of red hair in front where he once had been balding. This looked highly odd due to the fact that Jimmy's dad was black-haired. Otherwise, he looked generally the same, but he sported a cast on his leg and bruises all over his body. Jimmy knew his dad used to fight professionally, so whoever did this wasn't kidding.
Jimmy made the first move by standing and offering his dad a chair. His dad sat, and then he looked at Jimmy with a warped marriage of relief and anger. He said, "Jimmy, what the hell do you think you're doing here?"
Jimmy's gaze of sadness dropped quickly when he recognized the tone. The same tone as when his father would denounce his dramatic trade. "Doing here?! Living, thank you very much! And it's nice to see you, too!"
His father shook his head. "It figures. It figures that you come to the town of Sophia and open a miserable house of ridiculousness. An ODIUM." Jimmy couldn't stand it when his father referred to theaters in that fashion. His father continued, "I'm out there workin' my butt off to make sure this family survives and you wanna ACT."
"And what's wrong with bringing a little joy to the masses, huh, Dad? What's wrong with that?!"
"IT'S FUTILE, THAT'S WHAT!" Jimmy's father snarled and sunk lower into the chair. Then Jimmy realized something else. If Dad was here, then where was Mom and his sis Jennifer?
"Wait a minute, Dad. What the hell DID happen to your 'family of survivors'? I doubt that Mom would let you come here and talk to me without her."
Jimmy struck a nerve. Mr. Harper began to breathe heavily, as if he were reliving the moment. Finally, he spoke, "Your mother.....mutated beyond any human emotion or memory. She slaughtered your sister and roughed me up before I was forced to shoot her."
"WHAT?!?" Jimmy screamed. "YOU SHOT MOM?!"
"I had to!!!! To save her life and mine!!!"
Jimmy began to pace. "That's it. I always knew you were a.......you know, for all your little close-minded, do-your-part thinking, that was certainly an unconventional thing to do, POPS." Mr. Harper tried to retaliate, but he couldn't get a word in. "Wanna know what I'm doing here? I'll tell you, Dad. I'm saving lives. I'm saving hope. If it weren't for me and my troupe, the unfortunates of this town wouldn't have a leg to stand on LITERALLY. I make it so they have the courage to go on. Can you say that about your life, Dad? Can you say that what you did in life as a soldier did anything like that? I took that bet with you to show you that I could play your game and still be myself. And look at me now. I've got my own theater. I know 'Sophia' personally; she's the leading actress!!! I make these small cameras to help us keep track of our fighters, which even now qualifies me as an actor who does more. CAN YOU SAY THAT ABOUT YOURSELF, DAD?!"
Mr. Harper just lowered his head. "No.......I can't."
Jimmy stopped and watched his dad get up, hobble to the door, and leave, but not before saying, "I'm going to go heal myself now."
Two days later....
Carbonite freezing. The mere process of it made Bart shudder with dread. If anything, he had wanted to see Fei and Elly, standing side by side, at the day he was put into the monarchy. Now it just seemed like nothing was worth ruling anymore. Merkava awoke. The people's cries of agony as they.....changed......
Bart took the small pocket knife from his boot. He always said that if things were just impossible, then he would.....just.....do it.....
The knock on the door saved him and his wrist. Putting own the blade, he walked up and peered through the keyhole. A donkey was peering back at him. Confused, Bart opened the door to a loud "HEE-HAW!!!"
Jimmy removed the mask and picked the startled Bart up from the ground he landed on in surprise. Pulling the dumbfounded Bart to a chair, he said, "I know it's not really the time, but I supposed you could use some cheering up. I know I would if one of my best friends was frozen in rock-ice."
Bart sighed and let his head flop back on the seat. "You don't know the half of it. You've just saved my life again." He motioned to the knife, laying on a counter. Jimmy gasped and grabbed Bart's shoulders tight. "All right, Fatima, you listen to me." Jimmy shook him a bit as he continued, "I don't pretend to be the most understanding person on this planet. I am never out there with you in battle. I wouldn't know how to fight a kindergartner. But I do know that you can't give up. For all the ones who've died, there're still others who live. Without Elly, it's getting worse. I know that. But it can and will get better, and this is only if you KEEP TRYING. So don't you quit on me. 'Cause I'm not quitting and I'm barely a part of this whole entourage."
Bart pulled his head up and said, "What's that supposed to mean? You're the one who keeps us all honest around here! I don't think Elly would have made it without Fei for emotional support and you for intellectual support!"
"Fine then, Bart. And will my intellectual support be in vain?"
"NEVER!!!!!!!" Bart stood and yelled at the top of his lungs.
Jimmy grinned. "Great! Now, go fish." Jimmy quickly dealt a pack of cards out, but Bart didn't pick up his. Instead, he said, "There's something else to say. Your father was one of the ones who changed and became one of the Seraph Angels for Merkava."
Jimmy looked up. "He did?"
A voice at the doorway replied, "That's correct." Citan walked in and began to de-pair Bart's hand as he spoke. "He transformed quickly. Which makes me wonder."
"About what?" Jimmy asked.
"Why didn't you transform? You father was healed of his mutation, but he still changed. And it's been documented that the children of Angels become Angels. So why not you?"
Jimmy shrugged. "Why not you? Why not Bart? Why not Margie? It's no big deal."
Citan shook his head. "Ah, but it is. It's been established that prolonged time in Solaris or Shevat keeps this type of mutation, but other than that, one must be an Animus factor."
"Huh?" Jimmy's standard response. Citan responded, "Existing through multiple personalities as one of the vessels for the Gazel. You've been in Nisan all the time, and you still don't change, especially when your father has. May I do something I've been putting off for quite some time?" Jimmy said, "What?" Citan retorted, "Take a DNA test of you. See your genetic history. Trace your family tree. If you recall, I was unable to do it some time ago."
Jimmy thought a bit, then nodded. Like he expected it, Citan removed a needle and drew a bit of blood from the arm. Capping the point and replacing it back into his coat, he nodded and said, "Thank you. We will know quite soon what your situation is."
A guard knocked on the door and said, "Captain Bart! Fei has escaped! Queen Zephyr requests your presence! And Citan's!"
"Hope they get him back," Jimmy muttered as he looked up on the video screen full of snow. Real snow, as Citan's camera was projecting images from where they were. Close to the top of the planet. Jimmy still couldn't fathom being where he was, in the situation he was in. It all seemed so impossible. But these were thoughts he couldn't think in the presence of Bart or Elly or, to some extent, Fei. It still seemed right.
He nodded to the others, who knew that Jimmy wasn't interested in watching plain snow. They took over watch as Jimmy stepped out onto the walkway. Jimmy never took much time to admire the architecture of Aphel Aura when he was in Shevat. Now, he found himself with an unexpected period of free time, and he was determined to enjoy it. The strange, yet lovely sight of platforms floating through the air, taking people places, filled Jimmy with a type of inner peace. The whole look of the old capital seemed meant to inspire.
Jimmy decided to take one of those platforms. He walked up to one, stood on it, and waited. And waited. Nothing happened. Jimmy stomped on the platform. Nothing. He caressed his fingers over its dirty surface, looking for a button or something. Nothing. Jimmy was about to get off when somebody yelled from up on a floating platform, "Talk to it, stupid!!!" Jimmy flipped the guy off as he said, "Thank you!" with a growl, then turned down to the platform and said, "Um, hi there."
"Greetings. Do you wish to go up?"
"Um, sure." Suddenly, it moved. Jimmy, unfamiliar to the whole experience, backed up a bit and almost fell off. But he couldn't. As if something was blocking him, Jimmy's stability stayed permanent. He felt at the "barrier". Like an invisible wall. Jimmy laughed and leaned against it as the trip continued.
Then, someone shouted to him, "Jimmy!!! We need you over at the computer terminals! We have the info on your DNA!!!"
Jimmy shouted back, "Great timing!!!"
The guy ran with the platform, knocking over people and a couple of dogs on his way. Jimmy snickered at the antics of this guy. Finally, the platform landed and he was able to run up to Jimmy. He said, "Sorry about that, but your history produced a VERY surprising effect."
Jimmy replied, "What's that?"
"It's better if you see it."
Jimmy was surprised to see that Taura had uncovered Jimmy's history himself. He thought some guy he didn't know would do it. Taura welcomed Jimmy in, offered him the seat, and began to itch with anticipation of explaining it all.
Taura finally got Jimmy comfortable enough and started, "Well, your DNA proves to be strangely, but rightly, familiar. I admit, I hadn't looked at your DNA before when I healed you as your mutation didn't change DNA, but just physical form. But now....wow."
Jimmy, feeling a little impatient due to all the awe at his history, said, "What is it?"
"I've answered the last question Citan put forth. In fact, the last two, if I remember correctly. Why your body moved so quickly in removing the seal and virus, and why you didn't transform into an Angel even after your father did. Your history traces back regularly for about 500 years, but then it stopped. As it seemed, the DNA profile of your young ancestor of that time and his parents didn't match AT ALL."
"Yep. Your great-great-great....well, you get the idea....grandparents were not actually of your family. This made no sense until I began to rediscover some old patterns of some of the 500-year-old rebels. Zephyr's cohorts. Your real multi-great-grandparents, the parents of your younger ancestor of that period, were rebels fighting Solaris alongside Zephyr, Sophia, Lacan, Krelian, and the such."
"Don't forget Roni Fatima," Jimmy reminded.
Taura smiled at the reminder of Jimmy's kinship with Bart. "Yes, Roni, too. And me. I was alive at that time, and it seems I even remember your real ancestors. The whole DNA pattern findings reminded me of the full story. I do recall most of it.
"Your ancestral great-grandfather was on of the few Animus-patterned individuals working for us then. His Gear aligned with a Relic quite early on. As he used an Omnigear, he proceeded to be one of our best on the frontline. One special mission, we had hoped to send him deep into the heart of Etrenank and take it out. He agreed, but only if he could take his wife with him. She also was a rebel, fantastic at reconnaissance and disguises. Hence, the leaders of Shevat agreed. Before leaving, she gave her baby to a neighbor's family, asking them to take care of him while they were gone. Unfortunately, they would never return. The Omnigear was trashed, then restored for the purposes of Solaris, and the two were taken hostage. Back then, of course, Krelian wasn't with them, so your ancestors didn't become Wels for the M Project. When it was clear that the two rebels would never return, the neighbor with the baby swore to try and raise her family to avoid such tendencies as her two missing compadres had. She adopted the child unofficially, gave him her own name - Harper - and kept him away from any such knowledge of rebellion and upstart inclinations."
Jimmy nodded after sitting still for some time. This was big, and all he could do was take the news like "It's raining today."
Taura continued, "As your ancestor aligned with a Relic, it's easy to assume that you are, like Bart and Elly and so forth, existing through multiple generations. It explains a great deal. It's why you didn't transform after your father did: 'Multiples' never transform like that. It explains why, with all those nanos and viral proteins to yourself on the island, all that changed were your head and hands; and even then, it only took hours to remove the seal and virus. And finally, it explains why you so easily get along with all the other 'Multiples' here. You've known them before."
Jimmy's jaw dropped. Taura walked over to the lad and said, "Get some rest. You need to recover after these revelations. And believe me, I'd do the same."
Panting as he sat up, Jimmy shook his head. He patted the pillow around him and got a sense of the reality he was now living. The dream...a dream of being captured in Solaris. It was most definitely a reliving of the past life of his 500-years-gone ancestry. He had heard that the Animus factors like Fei and Elly suffered such flashbacks when Elly explained the whole situation in the first place. However, Jimmy hadn't had any until he was told his DNA was Anima-aligning. Maybe you need to have a shred of suspicion of your intronal fate to retain these dreams. But that was a stupid idea.
Then, he heard small footsteps outside his door. He got up, put on a shirt, and opened the door to see Chu-chu hurrying off somewhere. He called out to her, "Hey, Chuey! What's going on?"
"Jimmy-chu! Fei has returned and everybody's been talking for a looooong time on the Shevat placechu! I went back for my Chu-chu Idol, in case we have chu fight!"
Jimmy scratched his head and followed the little pink one up to Shevat. As he got there, Bart and Sigurd were walking back. Bart caught sight of Jimmy and said loudly, "HEY THERE!!" Jimmy shook his head. Bart's in one of those good moods again....
Sigurd whispered something to Bart and walked on, as Bart stayed behind to talk to Jimmy. "Hey, Jimmy, you missed some major stuff while you were snoozing."
"Oh, yeah? You missed some major stuff as you were off building snowmen!"
Bart laughed. "That I was told. You're an Animus factor, huh? What's that feel like?"
"Crappy! I can't get any sleep now and I'm not even going to get a cool Omnigear due to miserable Solaris!" Bart laughed again and said, "Well, we need you, my man, Omnigear or not. We're attacking Merkava, and your help is needed to keep everything cool."
Bart took Jimmy aside to a room with a large screen and some scant controls. He motioned for Jimmy to sit as he began to explain, "Well, I'll give you a quick rundown, as we're a little stretched for time. The cannon on Merkava keeps regular attacks impossible, along with those Angels. So, we're using the shields of Shevat's Excalibur and my Yggdrasil IV to make 40 seconds of invincibility as individual gears, like Fei and Citan, will keep back Angels. Once the 40 seconds allows us to get close enough to block the cannon with Excalibur, I will pilot the Yggdrasil from top, jump off holding the bow ram, and slash the cannon up. This'll make their defense much weaker."
Jimmy nodded. "Okay. What's my part?"
Bart continued, "As I said, I'm up on top the Yggdrasil in my Andvari. Citan, Fei, and pretty much everybody else will be outside fighting Angels. And Sigurd's helming the Excalibur. Somebody's gotta be inside the Yggdrasil controlling output, which I can't do from on top. Also, if I'm knocked off, I need someone inside who I can trust to finish the job."
"And that's me."
Bart grinned. "It's simple. Keep the meter of fuel steady at one point. First the Yggdrasil saves its energy, then after Excalibur's shields are done in 20 secs, you kick in with Ygg's shields for the next twenty. This gives us enough time to do the duty."
"Why the hell am I here?" said the actor, standing in captain's position as they began to fly off towards Merkava. Maison, behind him, muttered, "Don't worry. I'm here to help. Push that blue button."
Jimmy did, and a holographic projection of the energy gauge was called up. Jimmy relaxed a bit. With Maison behind him, nothing was going to go wrong. Franz began to make his counting more vocal.
Jimmy's head began to become, once again, a flustering whirlwind of confusion. Of the countless thoughts that passed through his cranium at light speed, some of the stickier ones involved ,"How did you get here?", "You're an Animus?!?!?", "You're staring down a load of ammunition energy! You're gonna die!!!"
"Maison?" Jimmy said. "Get me a glass of water please."
Maison grabbed the drink he had already prepared just in case.
Jimmy chugged it.
"Turn it on!!"
The shield became activated. Jimmy began to watch the gauge. Glancing at the visual screen showing the view directly into the cannon, he suddenly said, "Turn it up a bit." Franz turned to Jimmy, who nodded, and Franz did as told.
Maison went up to Jimmy, who got the jump on the old butler by whispering, "Merkava's turned their cannon up a bit. It might have broken the shield." Jimmy motioned to the intercom and said a bit louder, "Call Bart and tell him to attack as soon as possible. He's got no time for delay."
As Maison did, the Excalibur blocked the cannon with its bow. Yggdrasil, as if Bart got the message and immediately acted upon it, leaped off the Excalibur, grabbed the bow ram, and drove it into the cannon origin. For Jimmy and everybody, they were all loose in the bridge, so they got shook about particularly badly. Franz's back almost touched the ceiling.
The cannon fire stopped as it began to explode from inside. As Excalibur flew Yggdrasil away, even the crew in the bridge could hear Bart up top, yelling, "YEAH!!!!!"
Several hours later...
The actor stood outside the Gear Hanger door, contemplating the possibility of demise. The possibility of demise for Bart. It was conceivable, but only if you imagine Bart losing every fight he got into. Jimmy put the idea from his mind.
After ten more minutes, Jimmy began to wonder what was happening. He knew they were right over that big white rock statue that everybody was calling "Deus". He had been waiting for Bart, Fei, and everybody to show up so he could wish them their proper goodbyes. But they hadn't come. He got a bit impatient until he heard Rico's voice talking to someone near the elevator. "Man, I'm just itching to go! What's holding us up?" Maria's voice rang back, "Oh, just calm down. Let Bart and the others do what they want, then we'll go. It shouldn't take much longer."
Jimmy couldn't begin to fathom what "Bart and the others" would be doing other than tuning their Gears, and he certainly didn't see them enter as he stood his own vigil. Maybe they meant in the Gun Room?
Jimmy left and walked into the Gun Room. He saw Maison on his constant sentry behind the bar, and Billy lecturing something to Primera and Emeralda. When Emeralda caught wind of Jimmy, she giggled, whispered something to Billy, who snickered a bit and whispered a bit. Before Jimmy could ask what was going on, Billy got up, came over, and shook his hand as he said, "Go down to Bart's room."
"Why? What's down there?"
"If you haven't guessed by now, you must be either tired or thick-headed." With that, Billy walked back to his young pupils and resumed his speech. Jimmy mentally shrugged it off and walked down to Bart's room. He knocked, heard no answer, and came in.
It was dark for two seconds. Then the lights came on and four figures in donkey masks all bellowed, "HEE-HAW!!!!" They removed their masks, and Jimmy could now recognize Fei, Bart, Citan, and Chu-chu. Jimmy laughed and said, "What is this, sweet revenge?!"
Citan laughed as well and said, "No, it's a little piece of gratitude. While the others don't know you that well, we four all have something each to share with you. So, on Bart's recommendation, we played donkey for you."
Jimmy grinned at Bart. "THAT I figured. Well, to merely know that you feel gratitude towards me is in itself a pleasure." Citan nodded, then gave way to Chu-chu. She walked up to Jimmy's waist and said, "I want chu thankchu for letting me be in the troupe, Jimmy-chu. This is a replica of my Chu-chu idol I had made for chu. Please treasure it and remember me, won't chu?"
Jimmy nodded and gave the small one a hug. Chu-chu then said, "Now chu go tell Emeralda!" She rushed out. Citan then came up. "As I know that Fei and Bart wish chu....pardon me, I can only hear her for so long without talking like her.....wish TO share personal thanks, I convey my thanks for everyone for all the good work you've done for the people of this planet. Your cameras kept those not fighting close to those friends of those who were, your contact with Taura allowed for quick action against the mutation threat, and most of all, your troupe entertained the mutates when all hope was lost. You are truly an example of the real purpose of the theatre. While your time with me has obviously affected me as well, I feel they pale in comparison with what you've done for so many."
Jimmy sniffed a bit and said, "Thank you, Citan."
"Hyuga will do, Jimmy. Hyuga will do." Citan began to walk out as he said, "I must fuel my Gear for the next and final battle. I suggest," he said, turning to Fei and Bart, "that you two do the same upon your finish."
Fei then came up to him. "My thanks is more personal, but I like to think it also is a thanks for everybody on this planet. I wanted to thank you for being here, as a friend for Elly. In Nisan, she was always under a great deal of pressure, as every person with even a smidgen of mutation came to the city looking for the legendary Sophia. And while she seems to be her 'reincarnation', Elly is not Sophia. Your support was just crucial. Your troupe gave her another way to express herself, and the fact that she always had a good friend coming home from a battle whose life was never in danger, well, that fact just kept her going. Everybody agrees around here: You and I completed her. And while I never really spent that much time with you, I respect you. Possibly more than anybody else on this ship."
Jimmy smiled. "Well, when you come back with Elly, the three of us will have more time to spend together." Fei nodded, while holding back some tears. "Yeah...we'll do that..." Fei then walked over to a table and picked up a fruit basket. "As usual, Doc forgot something important: his gift. I'll present his first before going to mine." The basket was very full and diverse. It had desert strawberries, anorets, mertoruags, bizfruit, bulimies, geridelbars, ariberries, hob-jerky, and Nisan water. Then Fei produced a CD. "This one is mine. It's an M Disk. It's a complete selection. You won't find a bigger collection." Fei and Jimmy nodded to each other and Fei left. Leaving Bart and Jimmy.
They stood there a bit, and Bart then said, "Whatcha waiting for? You know what I'm going to thank you for."
Jimmy grinned and replied, "Being an incredible friend, piloting yer ship for you, supporting you when you were down, and being a thing of handsomeness to aspire to. I miss anything?"
"Being an example of self-congratulatoriness to avoid," Bart quipped back.
"No, that'd be you," Jimmy shot again. Both laughed. Bart walked over and put his hand on Jimmy's shoulder. "Your actions have inspired me to take the office of king. I am going to find my destiny. And I'd enjoy it if you were a member of my royal court."
Jimmy bowed the classic bow. "I'd be honored, my liege."
Bart then pulled out a piece of paper. "And one last gift from your father." Before Jimmy could scream bloody confusion, Bart explained, "It must have been written right before he transformed. He clearly meant to slip it under your door or something." Bart opened it and read,
I was standing in front of your theater (I used it correctly.) when some people came up behind me and began to talk amongst themselves about your performances. I then realized that seeing your show had taken away from the pain of their mutation. I thought that your way of thinking was minority. I now realize that I was the minority. I am truly sorry. But for your theater's success, I am truly proud. God bless you.
Jimmy stood there for a bit, then hugged Bart. After the embrace, Jimmy knocked Bart's chin a bit and said, "Don't die, man. Margie's counting on you."
"What's that mean?"
Jimmy sighed. "Margie's coming down with a fever." Bart gasped and Jimmy smiled. "Just a fever. A small incentive so that you don't die."
Bart smiled and said, "Thanks. Thanks for everything." As he began to walk out, Jimmy reminded him, "Don't die!"
The sight of Xenogears coming back from seemingly impossible odds made everyone jump for joy. Even Margie, still feeling a bit woozy, made a ruckus as Fei and Elly descended.
From the back, Jimmy just stood still and smiled ear to ear. He couldn't have been happier at that moment. However, he did know it'd only get better once the Gear lands. His mind began to swirl a bit, like the familiar times. But there was a certain clarity to it now, as if everything was resolved. He knew he belonged here. He was just so glad he got to be a part of this whole event of humankind.
All he needed was someone to explain it to him now and then.