OFF: This story is basically an extended version of Pikmin 1's game over/bad ending sequence. So it's not going to be a happy story. As it take place from the perspective of the pikmin, keep in mind that some terms will be different (they refer to themselves as "flowerians" and to bulborbs as "munchers", for example).
Still, I hope you enjoy!
Aqua, Floppy, and Crimson all stared at the ship. It shuddered, as it always did, as it slowly rose up. But there was something different this time. Everyone knew it. It had been small details at first. The alien had always been nervous and they had quickly figured that for it to keep its helmet on at all times, there must be something in PNF-404's atmosphere, something that did not quite agree with the alien's biology.
He was like their father, their savior. The Resurrection... the ships reactivated, the birth of Crimson, the first of a new generation of flowerians. They owed him everything.
Aqua had noted it and now that he thought about it, she was right. Every day, the alien took out a notepad and crossed out one of thirty squares. They had thought he was simply crossing out the parts he needed to repair his ship but even on days during which they found nothing, he crossed out a case. And on the days they manage to bring back more than one, he also crossed out only a single one.
It was a calendar... a time limit. He had a month, a mere month before something happened, probably something terrible.
They were not blind to the fact that he wanted to repair his ship. The thing had looked so pathetic, so damaged. The flowerians' own ships had definitely seen better days but the alien's? Large parts of its hull were missing, essential equipment hanged from its frame with almost nothing but prayer. The ship was obviously barely holding together and would never survive attempted to clear the atmosphere.
But there was more.
The great war. The munchers' hive who ruled their environment... together with the alien, they had taken the fight to them, fought with them as hard as they could. Countless times, the alien had pointed, Crimson had unleashed a battle cry, and everyone had charged into battle. For the alien, for their future, for life.
Defeating the munchers meant life for the alien for it meant recovering the ship parts they jealously guarded. Defeating them also meant life for the flowerians, for Aqua had begun to decipher the record logs inside the ships' computers and they spoke of the original flowerian population and of the slaughter they suffered at the hands of the unthinking but monstrously powerful predators. Learning how to defend themselves from the fearsome beasts and then culling their population was their only hope for survival.
They had lost the war. Completely.
Even with the alien's guidance, Crimson had returned too many times as the lone survivor of charges. Too often had Aqua fished nothing but corpses out of the rivers and lakes she explored with her squad, bringing back nothing but scars and tears for her people's suffering. Too often had the alien hurled Floppy and his fellow yellow flowerians over high walls only for Floppy to run back, terrorized, covered in injuries, the screams of the dying and of those who wished they were dead echoing from beyond the wall.
They were clones of weak sapient beings used to living in cities. This entire endeavor had been doomed from the very beginning.
Did the alien blame them? Floppy almost felt himself crying as the ship begun to spiral upward, desesperately trying to gain speed. He wished with all of his heart that the ship would clear the atmosphere. They had suffered too much, failed too many times. If they could not save their own people... then at least maybe they could be allowed to save the one to whom they owed their lives?
It was not meant to be. Aqua's growing knowledge of technology wasn't even needed. The holes in the hull were too large, the ship was rising too weakly. They did not even know the name of the one to whom they owed everything, the one who had brought them to life and taught them everything. They just didn't have the time to decipher his language. And now, he was going to die.
Hope, or maybe denial, gripped the three. Even normally stoic Aqua stood, her stem immobile, her eyes wide as she watched the rocket-shaped ship. For once in her short life, she wished, desesperately wished to be wrong.
"You can do it... you can do it... please..." whispered the red flowerian as the ship continued its mad dash for the stars.
"No... no! He's not gonna make it!" Floppy's panicked shout was justified ; the ship was stalling.
"MOVE!" screamed the blue flowerian. And the three scattered as the ship plummeted right back to the surface. The crash was pretty messy ; bits of metal flew everywhere, cutting into anyone unfortunate enough to be nearby. Debris flew about, parts of the repaired satellite dish that probably formed the ship's radar or communication array bouncing off the flowerian ships' hull. Black smoke filled the clearing as flames begun to consume the ruined ship.
The alien had failed.
It was a pointless gesture. He knew it. Everybody knew it. It was over. It was all over for the alien. Yet emotion gripped the flowerians. They thrown themselves out of the exit hatches of their ships, sliding down the ramps to join the elders. Crimson yelled at the others.
Floppy flinched as he approached the burning hulk only for one of its fuel containers to explode, sending sparks and pieces of red hot metal flying. He heard a scream of terror, his heart pounding from the near-miss as his stem was nearly cut off from a razor-sharp piece of the hull almost hitting him. He slowly realized the scream had been his own.
Crimson did the most foolish of things. He dove right in. He grabbed into the burning, white hot metal even as it threatened to burn his hands despite his natural resistance to heat. His stem lowered and grabbed the edge of it, the petals blackening from the burns. Other reds approached and despite the pain and the fear, helped him lift the debris.
"Come on! Come on! Together! ONE TWO! ONE TWO!" The flowerians worked together. Aqua organized the remaining blue flowerians and, using the debris that weren't super-heated as makeshift buckets, begun to bring water in to try and put out the fires or at least, reduce the sheer heat. Floppy and the few surviving yellows helped, making sure everyone remained calm and working. Crimson and the others shifted debris and then, he saw an opening.
He was the oldest flowerian alive. Effectively, the alien was to him his father. Despite the language barrier, nearly everything in his short life had revolved around him, both good and bad. He would not let him die, even though he was doomed. He would not let things end like this.
The ship was burning. It was the first time he saw the insides of the ship. For all of its different design, it reminded him of his own ship and it only served to make his heart ache more. Beams collapsed from the ceiling, live wires shot sparks, smoke prevented him from seeing much. The fire was so intense, he wasn't sure he had ever experienced such heat before. Despite his best efforts, he stumbled due to the unstable, slanted floor, tiles of the ships uneven.
He saw a door, halfway demolished, stuck in its door frame and signs of green beyond. The cockpit! A figure was inside...
The flowerian thrown himself at the door and pushed as hard as he could. Smoke choked him even despite his resistance. His mouth, nose, and flower all acted to try and extract oxygen from the burning wreckage to fuel his strength and even despite his body's natural advantages, he found so little. No! The alien won't die here! He won't let the father of his species die like this!
In a supreme effort, he let out a scream and pushed the door against the frame, managing to burry it back into the wall and to open the way. Despite the pain that went through his arms, despite how he was starting to choke despite his enhanced breathing organs, he made his way through. The alien was still in the pilot chair. The glass helmet had large cracks on it and he could clearly see splatches of red all over his face. The suit seemed to have long gashes on it. He was injured, severely injured. Even more than he had ever been at the end of even the most disastrous battles.
To see the one to whom he owed everything, practically his father, in such a state... his vision got even blurrier and for a brief moment, he realized he was crying.
No! No! He mustn't give up! He tugged at the fallen alien's body, trying to pry him from the chair. A deafening clang as some of the ceiling collapsed behind him served as a reminder that the ship's integrity would not hold much longer. He must be attached to the chair! He looked for parts of the suit that were not usually there and noticed the straps. He grabbed into them with both his hands and stem and pulled as hard as he could. Even despite his natural strength as a red flowerian, he found himself sweating from the effort.
"Come on come on COME ON!"
The straps snapped. The alien came free. He grabbed the alien and slung him over his shoulder. He was taller than he was and so heavy he thought he would buckle. No! He won't give up! He won't leave him behind! A soft grunt came from the alien as he struggled back out of the cockpit. Support beams and bits of wrecked systems collapsed further as the hull of the ship threatened to collapse on their heads. The sheer heat and flames that had constantly licked at his body had caused burn marks even despite his resistance and yet, Crimson marched through.
With a supreme effort, he pushed himself and the alien out of the burning wreckage, the sight of the clear, star-filled skies greeting him.
"IT'S GONNA BLOW!" screamed Aqua, in panic.
"EVERYONE TO THE SHIPS! EVACUATE IMMEDIATELY!" called Crimson despite everything. Every flowerian rushed for the ramps of their respective ships. Despite how much he was hurting, the red elder carried the alien all the way with him to his ship. Despite his burning feet, his aching body, he pushed himself into the interior of the ship, dragging his father with him.
As the last of the flowerians boarded the ships, the three onion-shaped ships quickly lifted off. Mere seconds later, the flames inside the alien's ship reached the fuel compartments and ignited them, causing the rocket-shaped ship to become a large sphere of fire as it exploded. The three colored ships jerked and almost fell out of the sky as the pressure wave shook them and debris dented their hulls but against all odds, they all managed to stabilize and lift off, leaving the site of the crash behind.
The alien was awake. Though his vision swam, he saw what seemed to be the interior of a starship. Which was strange as it was not the SS Dolphin. But as he looked on, he saw the first pikmin he had ever plucked and recognized him. Many of the pikmins he had plucked, those he had helped, were gathered around him. He had always wondered what the onions looked like from the inside. He had never realized that they were truly starships, not unlike the SS Dolphin.
Though they had saved him from the crash, the flowerians knew that the atmosphere inside their own ship could not be breathed by the alien and that soon, his space suit's air supply would run out. Yet, they did not leave his side. Crimson grabbed the gloved hand of the one who had been as a father to him. Despite the weakness caused by his coming death, the alien managed to speak. A soft, low voice, which spoke in a melodious language that Crimson wished he could understand.
To die alone, afraid, horribly. Suffocation was a horrible fate. They had seen so many die ignoble, painful deaths alone. And they knew many had wandered or vanished from sight, to die completely alone, their agony forever unknown. Though Crimson could not save the alien, he at least wanted him not to be alone.
Often, he had wondered... could the alien cry? He was not half-plant like they were. It was likely much of his body language was different. He sounded afraid, terrorized in his final moments. He wishes he would have fought harder, smarter. He wish they hadn't failed, that they had helped him enough. That they hadn't just been fodder for the munchers. But it was too late now, far too late.
"I'm sorry... I'm so sorry. For everything." He would never understand the alien's words just as it would probably never understand his. To owe him everything... and never be able to express it. He had thought he had accepted it. He had thought... he had come to live with it, as he and all those he knew and love sang of their plight together, during their long trips through the unforgiving surface of this planet.
On the alien's suit, small drops dripped. How silly. Here he was, crying all over him when he wasn't the one desesperately choking for air that was no longer breathable. The alien did not have to see this. He had never asked anything out of him. And he never would.
And despite everything... despite his blurry vision... he finally learnt that yes, the alien could cry.
None of the flowerians moved during the night. Sleep only came once exhaustion, from both physical and emotional stress, became too much to bear. The oldest flowerian remained at the side of the one who had brought him into the world the entire night. Ever since he was born, he had always been at his side. And he remained so as he breathed his last.
"Hello? Helloooo? Is anyone here?" Crimson was brought out of his sleep by Floppy's words. The slight distortion meant he had finally figured out how to use his ship's communication device. It also probably meant the night was over.
Suddenly feeling more tired than he ever been his entire life, he slowly brought himself to his feet and saw the large-eared, yellow-colored flowerian staring back on the console's screen. His eyes were bordered with black and the stem was drooping, a petal having fallen off a rather pathetic-looking flower. Seems he hadn't been the one who had been unable to sleep for the most part.
"I-I'm here." he said. He stared back at the oldest yellow alive. His expression spoke of how much he didn't want to ask the question, the one that had to be asked.
But eventually, he had to ask and he did. "Did... did he...?"
"He didn't make it through the night. Even if he hadn't run out of air, his suit was punctured too much to be repaired and he was practically bathing in his own blood. He's... I'm sorry."
Silence. Neither knew what to say. It was so strange, indeed. The alien wasn't even technically one of them and yet, his death was sending them reeling even harder than if anyone else had. But then, he had brought them into this world, led them, taught them. Wherever others come and went, the alien was a permanent fixture, an invincible and all-knowing figure that had stood strong and brave in the face of the impossible.
To see this benevolent being crying, bleeding and choking to death with him unable to do anything to save him had to be the most heartbreaking experience he had went through. Given the sheer enormity of the horrors the munchers had inflicted upon his kind, this was saying something.
"I'll... I'll tell Aqua. She have to know..." Crimson nodded absentmindly, not sure what to say.
What to do? He... he just wasn't sure. "I... I guess he deserve a funeral."
"Crimson, you..." the yellow trailed off, not wanting to finish his thought, whatever it had been.
"I don't want the one who brought us back to be eaten by a muncher or to be left to rot. He... he deserve a decent funeral. We owe him at least that..."
The yellow flowerian scratched the back of his head and sighed. But then, he slowly nodded. "I guess. I... I just can't believe this. I guess it was coming but I... I just..."
"It's okay. I mean... I don't know." he didn't want to start choking up, not now. "Call Aqua."
The transmission ended.
It was decided by all flowerians that the alien's body would be recycled by the red ship's bio-engineering processing bay. His earthly shell would be destroyed, allowing his soul to return to the stars or wherever alien souls go when they die, and the now finished life in his body would be thus transmitted, allowed to fuel new life. It was probably not the alien's own culture's proper funeral rites but having never managed to decode his language and learn the proper rites, giving him a flowerian funeral was all they could do.
The ships returned where their people had first been resurrected, at the spot of Crimson's birth. It was there that the alien's path and the flowerians' had first crossed. It would be there that the journey would be concluded.
Heavy silence hung over every flowerian as Crimson, Floppy, and Aqua moved the body personally. Everyone had grieved or was grieving for someone. The great war against the munchers had claimed so many lives... they were all so young, so inexperienced, plucked out of the earth only to be drafted into fighting for their survival. Few made it. Of the few that did survive, none survived without a broken heart, without witnessing death and its horrors.
The three barely felt the weight of the body. Their hearts were heavy enough that they did not feel it. Crimson gazed one last time at the cracked helmet and the no longer breathing face of the alien within. "You were as a father to me. Though your body did not escape this world, I hope your soul did..."
"He was a father to all of us." added Floppy.
The ship's tractor beam activated. The three looked up as the spiraling energy sucked the alien up. And in the vortex of light, he disappeared, his journey finally over.
From his flesh, a single seed could be created, falling off before slamming into the earth nearby. Crimson barely paid attention, his gaze locked upon the now inactive tractor beam. He... couldn't believe the alien was gone. He still couldn't believe it.
Then he heard a horrified gasp.
He turned around and-
Everyone turned to face the planted seed. Everyone's eyes went wide as saucers, their stems suddenly very stiff.
"I... REALLY don't think it's supposed to do that..." the horror in Floppy's voice was so total he could not suppress the mad twitch that came to his left eye and stem.
"No..." Crimson whispered, his vision growing blurry once more. "No! NO! NO NO NO NO!"
This couldn't happen! It just couldn't happen! It couldn't!
"The bio-processing processing bay... it... it must have been damaged in his ship's crash and subsequent explosion..." even Aqua could not keep the horror in her voice.
A malformed, horrifying mockery of the alien's head was halfway burried in the earth, a dying flowerian stem wagging back and forth, wilting visibly by the second. This was sick, this was a sick joke. It had to be.
Crimson could not take it anymore. He sprinted and climbed up the access ramp, entering the ship. Inside, he almost thrown himself at the console. On the screen, a single word flashed with grim finality: Error.
"No. NO! NOT THIS! ANYTHING BUT THIS! Any... anything but this..." he thrown himself at the console, breaking into sobbing.
With the cloning bays malfunctionning, there was no way to replenish their losses anymore. As their leader died, so did their future. It was over. All over.
Two months later...
A blue onion-shaped ship burnt in the distance, two of its three legs broken, its hull smashed against a ledge, half of it burried in a shallow lake. Small blue and yellow corpses could be seen, half-eaten, all over the shores. Of the eldest and last of the blue flowerians, nothing was left except a blue stem attached to a flower, floating on the surface of the lake nearby.
Floppy stood on the roof of the flowerian colony compound, the one their predecessors had built when first coming to this world. It was a wreck, completely ruined, half-sunk into a deep lake. Ruined machinery lies within, the pathetic remains of whatever dellusions of a future they could have had long rusted to uselessness. The sun was setting soon and the munchers would wake up. The last ship was finishing up burning in the distance.
Not a great loss, he guessed. Without the cloning bays, the ships were useful only for movement and it wasn't as if anywhere on this forsaken dump of a planet was safe. Aqua had tried, unsuccessfully, to fix the faster than light drives. What good would have that done anyway? They had no idea what was out there and they had no supplies for any kind of long distance exploration.
Floppy sighed. He was alone now. Truly alone. He wondered... was there any predator that could get to him, on top of this ruined roof? Probably, his kind wouldn't have went extinct in the first place and needed to be resurrected by the alien if surviving had been this simple.
For a moment, he wondered if the original flowerian his DNA was based off of had died in a similar way. If any of them had done this, when they knew the end was inevitable. Hope was fleeting on PNF-404.
Frankly, he pondered if the alien hadn't truly been cruel after all. Why resurrect his kind, really? What was there to find on this horrible filthy rock where everything wants everyone dead so badly? What is there to live for? Wasn't it enough that the munchers had slaughtered them to extinction once? Why had the alien brought them back, only for them to die again?
Crimson had been wrong! The alien hated them! It was the only reason he had subjected them to this! It was... it...
His anger burnt itself out. The alien had simply wanted to survive. He had no way to know everything would go this badly. For a moment, he wondered if the alien had even known anything about his kind at all.
This place is a death trap. He had argued with Aqua that they'd all die. But she had said that without functionning cloning bays and one of the three remaining ships down, they had no choice. If the original compound created by the original flowerians did not hold anything they could salvage... then... then...
She hadn't wanted to accept it. Not unlike the alien's fate, no one had really accepted that it was just pointless, that it was all over. But he had noticed it. There were too few of them left and every day, their meager numbers shrunk further. But even in the face of inevitability, the first and last of the blue flowerians had denied what was obviously her kind's fate.
The sunset was beautiful. He had never really noticed it before, afraid of it as he had been for the longest time. The yellow flowerian did the yellow equivalent of a smile, the first time he did in a long time actually. He remembered the songs he used to sing with his friends when they were alive, of their grief but also their hope.
He looked at the block of concrete in his tiny hands. A heavy part of the ruined structure, created by his own people, before they all went extinct for the first time. He wondered how the ancient flowerians created such wonders. It was not unlike the ships, actually. Once, his people travelled the stars, not unlike aliens. Ha... he wish he could have seen this. He wish he could have seen and did so many things.
He... he just wish he could play and sing with his friends again. But nothing would bring those moments back.
Acquiring the cable had been more difficult. He had torn it out of a control panel, almost entirely decayed, inside the abandonned structure. Not all of it was flooded and he had found a loose, long, strong wire. Still live, somehow, but that had not been a problem for him, as he resisted electric currents. It had taken a lot of tugs but he had managed to tear out of the control panel.
He thrown the concrete block off the edge.
The cable, tied solidly around both the block and the flowerian's waist, dragged the later with the former. The water felt cold as he hit its surface.
Once again, a species became extinct on PNF-404. Being free of sapient beings, no one ever learnt of the extinction as it came to pass, this time definitive and permanent. No one would ever even know what the name of this species was.