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The events portrayed within this tale predate both anime and manga. Most of it should make sense to anyone who's either seen or read about the events leading up to the "Great Fall." Most of it comes from things portrayed or strongly implied in manga and / or anime.

Mild to moderate spoilers if you don't know who Tessla was, or how learning about her affected Vash and Knives. (In the manga, it was the "Tessla" situation - not beatings from a bigoted crew member - that turned Knives against humanity.)

Note: I do not own Vash "the Stampede," Rem Saverem, or Millions Knives: they all belong to the incomparable Mr. Yasuhiro Nightow.





Trigun: Shipwrecked



Chapter 1: Landfall




November 2409, exact date unknown
Day 1


I wish that this day, and all that has happened in it, were only a nightmare. It feels too terrible to be real...

But no nightmare has ever included this much pain. No nightmare was ever this vivid and consistent. No nightmare I've experienced ever had each detail illumined with such stark, vivid clarity. And no nightmare, before, has ever lasted half so long.

I smell the dust kicked up by our footsteps, along with my own sweat. I feel the chill of the night air on my skin. I feel a cold wind moving my hair as gently as Rem would touch it. I hear that same wind blowing, instead of the soft hum of various shipboard processes.

I hear the sand crunch under Knives' boots, as he walks ahead of me. I hear the crunch of my own boots, with each staggering footstep that I take. I feel the weight of my bag on my shoulder, and the movement of my clothes against my skin. I feel the ache of bruises all over my face, forearms, and body.

I gasp, short of breath from pains in my side and abdomen. I'm still shocked that my brother hit me so hard, and so many times. One of my eyes is swollen almost completely shut. The other cries partly from physical pain, and partly from a worse pain that has nothing to do with my body.

I've had bruises before. I bruised my hands and knees, a few times, when I was learning to walk last year. I got bruises on my shoulder and elbow once, when I ran around a corner too fast and slid into the wall. But I have never felt anything like these.

Rem never hit us. When we were very small, she slapped our hands a few times. When we grew older, she explained that we had been reaching toward something dangerous. The sting of the slap on our hands was far less than the pain we might have experienced if she hadn't stopped us.

We had learned very quickly that a sharply-spoken "no" would not actually stop us from doing anything. After we figured that out, she had been compelled to teach us through a different means.

Rem never raised her hand against either of us in anger. It was always done in love, and always entirely for our own good. Even then, she only did it only while we were too young to be reasoned with. She said that day "when we could be reasoned with" came much sooner for us than it would have come for an ordinary human child. She'd been relieved when she could talk with us, instead of needing to use physical discomfort to instruct us.

Knives had never raised his hand against me in anger, either, until today. Part of me is still shocked. The reasons why he beat me are more painful than all the bruises from both beatings combined.

None of those things even touches on what he did to the ships.

I feel sick to my stomach, thinking about what has happened ... and is still happening. Right now, I am completely unable to do anything to assist any of them.

I must concentrate. For now, at least, I must fully conceal my feelings from Knives. Rem taught us that any strong emotion is detectable by another Plant, even at considerable distance. My current emotions would displease him greatly. I don't want a third beating.

When I look upward, and manage to blink away the worst of my tears, I can see the burning trails in the night sky. Those trails mean that more ships are continuing to plunge toward the surface of this barren, desert planet.

I remember what the preliminary scans said. No large bodies of surface water were detected. Quartz-based sand and rock covers the vast majority of the planet. Atmosphere is similar to that of Earth, the planet from which our Seeds colony ships originated, but drier.

It's livable for ordinary humans, but only with substantial help from Plants. None of us can live without water.

Was it truly only hours ago, when I was standing on the ship with Rem, before the alarms sounded? Was it truly only earlier today, when she pushed us into the escape pod, and told me to take care of Knives?

Did she know, or suspect, what he would tell me as our escape pod fell away toward the planet? Had she already guessed why the ships' courses had changed?

Rem and I, we both knew that Knives was changing. We had seen it, but we had not understood what we saw. We had hoped that it was only a temporary transition for him, as it had been for me.

I changed, too, when I first learned what had happened to Tessla. Rem helped me get through that. Eventually, I learned to handle it. I became myself again, only sadder and wiser. I still mourn Tessla, but knowing about her was no longer terrifying. It was no longer destroying me.

Rem and I have both been worried about Knives. He didn't seem to be dealing with it... or, at least, he didn't seem to be dealing with it at first.

When he started changing, we hoped it meant that he was going through a similar process to what I had wrestled through. His process was simply happening more slowly, or so it seemed. We both did our best to be available for him, and to support him, as Rem had done for me.

There were times when he seemed moody, distant, and more thoughtful than usual. Then there were other times, when he seemed much the same as he had always been. He gradually grew moodier, but we continued to love him and accept him as completely as ever. Surely, in time, our combined love for him would help him get through this just as Rem's love had helped me. After he dealt with it, he would be stronger.

Or so we thought.

I should have seen this coming. Rem... Oh Rem!

Did you reach another escape pod before the ship blew apart? Or are you lost to us, too?

One terrible day, in my own process of learning to handle the terrible truth of the manner in which Tessla had died, I spent a few minutes hating ordinary humans so badly that I wanted to kill them all. But the reality, when I tried it, was so horrible... thankfully, she recovered.

I should have watched Knives more closely. I should have realized that a day would come when he wanted all humans to die. I should have watched for it, and stopped him from hurting anyone.

I failed all of the many sleeping people in all of the ships that crashed. It's as much my fault as Knives'. I should have seen it coming. I should have stopped him.

I saw our ship explode: the one where Rem, Knives, and I had lived. I didn't see another escape pod... can Rem really be dead? No, I must not think that way. She has to be alive - she has to!

There could have been an escape pod going out from the other side of the ship. I couldn't see it, if there was one, because of the explosion. There must have been another escape pod... right?

I don't know if I can do this without her.

But... if Rem is truly lost to us, then it becomes even more important that I keep all of my promises to her. Keeping those promises may be the only memorial I can make for her.

I never paid much attention to the ship's chronometers. Hours, days, and years were only numbers, without any great meaning to me. I slept when I was tired, and I ate when I was hungry. I didn't need a clock to tell me about those things!

I guess I resented it, a little, whenever the clocks decided that Rem needed to do something else. I didn't like them taking her away from Knives and me.

I can do math as well as Rem or Knives, or even the sister-Plants in their orbs within those large glasslike bulbs. However, I don't enjoy numbers as much as some of the others do. That's probably another reason I didn't pay as much attention to the ship's clocks as I should have.

I know that Knives and I are nearly two years old. I'm not sure which day it is, now, though, according to the ship's calendar. The ship's chronometers are no longer available to inform me. So I don't know how many days it will be until we will have completed our second year.

How strange that such a trivial thing occupies my mind right now!

I should have paid better attention. I should have treasured every hour - every minute - with Rem. But I didn't. I foolishly thought that time with her would continue for many years yet. Almost instinctively, I had believed that, because she had always been with us, she always would be (or, at least, that she would be with us for a very long time yet).

I didn't treasure her nearly as much as she deserved.

If she's still alive, and I find her, I will make that right with her. I will love her every day of her life, and protect her from Knives - no matter what it takes. She protected us, so it's only fair that I return the favor... if I am given an opportunity to do so.

If it's too late - I hope it's not, but if it is - then I will protect the humans that Rem died to save, and their descendants. No... I should do that even if she is still alive.

I hear Knives' footsteps stop ahead of me. I stagger a few more steps forward, and then I stop near him. I'm still partially numb from all that has happened today.

"Come on," he says. "Let's make camp here, for tonight. It's getting colder, and the wind is picking up. These rocks should at least shelter us from the worst of the wind."

I nod silently, and drop my bag onto the ground. We each have a bag that we found in the escape pod, which contains various survival supplies. I reach into mine, searching by feel.

I find a thermal blanket. I pull it out and shake it out. I fold it in half, and arrange it so that part is on the ground and part will go over my body. I climb in between the layers, lying on my side. I curl up in the thin material, resting my head on my left arm, and close both eyes.

"Aren't you going to eat anything?" Knives said impatiently.

I shook my head, not trusting myself to speak. I don't think I could eat, even if I tried.

"At least take a drink from your canteen, idiot," he said.

I open my eyes, sit up, reach into my bag, and pull out the canteen. I unscrew the lid and take a very small sip. My stomach churns, but doesn't reject it outright.

I can almost feel my brother nod, before he makes a wordless sound of disgust and says something insulting about me again. I replace the lid on the canteen, carefully making sure that it's tight enough to prevent leaks, and then I put it back into my bag.

I lie down again, and close my eyes. I can hear him making his own preparations to sleep.

Tears continue trickling out of my eyes and wending their way down my face toward the thirsty sand.

Knives' words from earlier today echo in my head.

"The Plant ship will not crash. Only the ships with humans will be destroyed," he'd said.

But Knives seemed to have forgotten that there are Plants on each and every ship with humans on it, too! If he is doing this to avenge Tessla, then why kill more Plants?

I don't understand. What he's saying and what he's doing don't make sense.

I won't ask him about it now, though. That would be stupid.

Knives beat me in the shuttle, when I protested the manner in which he was gloating over Rem's probable death. He beat me after we landed, when I said he wasn't human. Almost every time he hit me, he insulted humanity and said that he is nothing like them.

I can still feel the same types of emotions coming from him now that he radiated then. If I say the wrong thing, he will probably beat me again.

I am guilty of starting it, though I was swinging blindly. I wasn't really trying to hurt him, though I did want him to stop laughing. The deaths of so many people... the idea hurt so much that I lashed out almost instinctively. I shouldn't have attacked him, though. It only made him angry. He beat me fairly thoroughly, each time.

I don't think I ever hit him, not even once. Though I have many bruises, none of them are on my knuckles.

I have to control myself better. I don't want provoke him that badly again.

So many are dead... both Plants and ordinary humans. Their precious lives are lost forever.

If only I'd been a better brother, this would not have happened. Perhaps, if I am a better brother now, he can finish healing. Then he won't have any reason, real or imagined, to hurt anybody else.

If you're alive, Rem, please stay alive. I will search the whole surface of this planet, until I find you. If you're not alive anymore, then... rest in peace.

Warm, wet tears continue streaming down my face. I hope Knives doesn't notice.

I will try, Rem. I promise. I will try my best to take care of Knives, just as you asked me to do.

I will also do my best to take care of the ones you risked your life to save.

You'll see, Rem. I'll do my best. Somehow, I won't let you down again.

.

...

.

Author's Note: If I have calculated correctly, the "Great Fall" would have happened sometime in the year 2409 (according to the Gregorian calendar, which makes the year when I wrote this tale 2015 AD or CE).

Events occurring on the twins' first birthday were described as being "not three years" (suggesting only slightly less than three years) after an event which occurred in mid-December of 2405. This implies that the Plant twins were probably born in 2407, so that when the crew awakened on their first birthday it was during 2408.

From a lack of any indication of a second birthday party, it seems likely that the Great Fall occurred less than a year after their first birthday. It may have happened near their second birthday, which (combined with the aforementioned information) would suggest sometime in November. Thus the date given at the opening of the chapter was chosen.

Note: I do not own Vash "the Stampede," Rem Saverem, or Millions Knives: they all belong to the incomparable Mr. Yasuhiro Nightow.

This tale has 5 chapters:

Chapter 1: Landfall
Chapter 2: Transitions
Chapter 3: Survival
Chapter 4: Ordinary Humans
Chapter 5: Home

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