And here we are. At the end. Special thanks are at the end, but the last chapter is right here. Read it.
I do not own Zoids, and this is a work of fiction not made for any personal profit or gain.
-I'll Pity You When You're Gone
Having had just about enough of swinging his legs over the bed, Van was glad to see doctor Flinn enter the room.
"So, Doc, give me the short and long of it," Van said, bringing his feet to a halt. Flinn dropped his clipboard onto the desk with a slap.
"Well, Lieutenant," he started, taking up his chair, "I'm happy to say that no, you didn't further aggravate the break in your arm yesterday. The x-rays didn't show any extra fractures or bone fragments." Van sighed with relief. What with all the running, fighting, and tackling he had done, he could have really hurt himself. That rather irrational jump from the cockpit probably hadn't helped the healing process either.
"Does this mean that I should still get this cast off on time?"
"Should do. Another nine days and it'll come off. I wouldn't recommend any more reckless behaviour in that time, though," Flinn said, giving Van a look reminiscent of one a school principal would give to a rampant rule-breaker.
"Oh, don't you worry," Van replied cheerily. He jumped off the bed and headed for the door. "I'm just about the least reckless person you'll ever meet."
Right on cue, Van's left, far healthier arm collided with the door frame. Biting down hard to stop from either yelling or squeaking in pain, he managed to force out, "That was planned," before he was completely out of the dubious doctor's sights.
Muttering some choice words about irony, Van massaged his elbow as he headed back along the hospital corridor. His coordination always took a nose-dive when he was tired, and he was, naturally, tired.
It had been close to one in the morning when he'd followed Thomas back to his room to talk. He'd had no idea of the kind of conversation he would end up having with the man. Otherwise, he might well have insisted to have it wait until the morning, if only for his own state of mind.
Though it was clearly something he disliked sharing, Thomas had launched into his story with little preamble, as though it had been rehearsed. He had taken a little less than half an hour to finally get to the centre of what he was telling Van: the thing he had done one afternoon ten years ago.
It had hit Van like a slap in the face. The shock of it left him either blank, or seething with a hundred emotions at once. He wasn't sure. What he did know was that he had gotten up off of the bed they were both sitting on, and stepped away.
"Um, could you just … excuse me, for a bit?" Thomas had stared at him.
"Where are you going?" Thomas had asked apprehensively.
"Just in here," Van had replied, slipping into the adjacent bathroom and shutting the door. Leaning back against the door, Van had let out a breath, and started to wrestle the maelstrom of his thoughts into order.
After a short eternity in that tiny space, coming to terms with all that had been said, Van had re-emerged. He had found Thomas in a despairing state, one hand pressed to his face.
Van had never been very good at dealing with emotional shock, yet even he realized that he had done exactly what Thomas must have been expecting him to do. He had run. It was the least sympathetic thing he could have done.
Whilst stumbling through an apology to the Imperial, Van found himself telling Thomas of his own strife in recent times. It was inadvertent to begin with, but he came to see it as the decent thing to do. Thomas had just told him what he had surely never told anyone other than Karl, and it was only fair that Van tell him what only he and Fiona knew.
Van sighed. Telling his own story, about his belief about murdering Raven and the trauma he'd stockpiled in his mind had taken a lot of time as well. He wasn't nearly as articulate as Thomas had been, so he had in fact taken longer. Which was, he thought, ridiculous, considering how paltry his own problems seemed in light of Thomas's.
Following that, and a lot of more superfluous conversation, it had been four by the time he made it to his bed. A grand total of four hours sleep later and here he was.
So tired and distracted was he that he'd already sailed right past a particular room before he noticed. Van stopped in his tracks, and looked back. Room B-18.
He chewed his lower lip. Did he really want to look in there again? His feelings were a definite 'no', but his brain was reasoning that there was no harm in it. The guy was likely to be in another coma after all the stress he'd put himself through running down Hiltz.
Shrugging, Van turned on his heel and went back to the room. It never hurt to keep tabs on people.
He looked in the window and found himself locked in a stormy glare. Raven was most certainly not unconscious.
Flinching back unwittingly, Van sidestepped away from the door. That had been unexpected, to say the least. He hadn't meant to panic but he was still getting used to Raven's presence. Added to the fact that he was awake, and apparently aware, it had been somewhat disconcerting.
Van glanced back at the door once more before starting down the corridor again. He was still not ready for this. Especially not after yesterday.
He made it back to his room in a gloomy sort of haze. Once through the door it occurred to him that he should find out where Fiona was. Unfortunately, his exhaustion overwhelmed his concern.
Kicking off his boots, Van fell onto the bed and was asleep before he hit the sheets.
An irritating noise woke him. Moaning in annoyance, Van groped blindly for the alarm clock and pressed the snooze button. It made no difference whatsoever, and the noise continued.
Hefting himself off the bed with his elbows, Van squinted at the clock. The red numbers told him it was three past twelve, but the alarm light wasn't blinking, He frowned, gaze shifting right to the telephone.
More awake now, he registered that the noise was the phone ringing. He picked up the receiver. "Lieutenant Flyheight," he said, stifling a yawn.
"Finally! Where have you been, Van, I've been calling you for ten minutes."
"Oh, Fiona. You're back on the base?"
"Of course I am," Fiona replied, sounding vaguely exasperated. Somewhere in the background, Van heard Thomas shout, 'Has he picked up yet?' "Yes," she called back. "Van," she addressed him again, "I've been calling because Karl's got to leave. We're seeing him off."
"He's what?" Van exclaimed, jumping to his feet.
"Leaving. He got reassigned, seeing as the Hiltz issue has been resolved. Come down to the north runway, that's where we are."
"All right, I'm coming. Hold on 'til I get there." Van hung up the phone and cursed his jacket, which had conveniently gone missing.
After a hurried search, Van strode quickly through the hallway. He had known that the major would inevitably be sent elsewhere very soon, but he hadn't expected it to be the next day. Then again, the army didn't have majors to spare. It was selfish of them to demand he stay, just because they wanted him around.
As Van pushed through the doors into the brilliant sunlight, he knew that he, too, would no doubt be reassigned shortly. Thomas as well. There was a funny kind of regret he felt at that idea. They had just been through some of the most harrowing, emotionally draining events of their lives, yet he was remorseful that it would be over.
It's not so much the trauma that I'll miss, he reminded himself. It's the bond we've managed to form. I don't want to break that so soon.
And to think, the catalyst of it all was Raven.
The north runway was not very active, but there were more operational Zoids there than had been in recent days. The repair effort was finally producing results. Van made a straight line towards the small group of people milling around Karl's Command Wolf. Fiona noticed him first.
"I knew you'd make it," she announced happily before trapping him in a hug.
"Whoa, what's the occasion?" Van said, surprised at the abrupt display of affection. Fiona just grinned at him.
"What, I can't hug you at will? And you're awake, which is quite an occurrence these days," she added.
"Ha ha, your rapier wit slays me."
The presence of the two Schubaltz brothers behind them was noticed when Karl cleared his throat. Thomas looked shrewdly at Van as he said, "It's been proven that sleeping more than ten hours is bad for your health, you know." Van gave him a withering look.
"Well, forgive me for making up for lost time." He turned to Karl. "So, reassigned?"
"Yes," said Karl. "I've been ordered to lead the contingent that's escorting Hiltz to the maximum security prison in outer Gaigalos. Everyone answers to a superior."
"I'll bet General Ramsey doesn't," Van grumbled.
"Oh, you'll find that he does," said Karl with a smile. "He answers to an unassuming fellow named Rudolph."
"Well now," Thomas interjected thoughtfully, watching something over Van's shoulder. "I don't think he'll give you any trouble, at least."
Four Imperials crossed the path to a Zaber Fang. Two of the soldiers carried Hiltz, either still unconscious or under sedation, on a stretcher to the Zoid.
"What kind of state's he in?" Van asked, watching as the soldiers began the arduous task of installing the prisoner in the Zaber Fang. Thomas shrugged one shoulder.
"Multiple lacerations, bruising, concussion. Bit of a fractured skull. Not surprising really." Van's thoughts briefly flashed to an enraged Raven laying into Hiltz ferociously, and sighed.
"Isn't that dangerous though?" Fiona said. "Should he really be moved when he's in that condition? It might cause permanent damage."
"It would be tragic, but it can't be helped," Karl said dismissively, and Van got the distinct impression that no one really gave a damn if Hiltz was hurt further or not.
"What about Ambient?" Van said, having just remembered the red organoid. "He might have escaped during all the confusion."
Fiona shook her head. "We did a diagnostic scan on the Lightning Saix last night. We aren't entirely certain, but the readouts on the core show some anomalies that might indicate an organoid was fused to it when it was destroyed. Those kinds of readouts don't show after an organoid has disengaged, even if it's merged with the core many times before."
"There's been no sign of Reese or her organoid either," Karl added, dislike written all over his face. "The systems in the Rare Hertz care make references to her, so she was definitely involved to some degree."
"We'll never have a fully conclusive answer," Thomas said. "The facts are just too ambiguous."
"More answers might be received once Hiltz is in a good enough condition to question. In the meant time, we'll have to be vigilant in case Reese or the organoids make any move."
"Major Schubaltz!" called out a technician. "The pilots are ready, and the prisoner secured. You're clear for takeoff whenever you're ready."
Karl acknowledged the man with a nod. "I'll keep you all posted on Hiltz. Until I see you next, keep safe." He clasped hands with Van and Fiona. "Thomas, could I have a word?" he added, indicating the other side of the Command Wolf.
As the brothers left, Van glanced at Fiona. "You look different," he observed. She stared at him, perplexed.
"What do you mean, different?"
"I don't know," he said after a moment. "You're just different somehow."
Fiona looked at him, then back towards where Karl and Thomas had gone. "Aren't we all," she murmured.
It wasn't a question. It was a fact.
After a time, they saw Karl climb the Command Wolf's ladder and open the cockpit. Thomas came back over to them, looking markedly graver than before. Fiona laid a hand on his arm. "Is something wrong?" she asked, concerned.
"Not at all," he said, relaxing his posture a little. "Just sorry to see him go."
They stood back as the three-Zoid group prepared to leave. With a bellow, Karl's Command Wolf bounded off in the lead, closely followed by the two yellow Zaber Fangs. The runway vibrated until the last Zoid was out of sight over the ride at the end of Redstone Compound.
Something in the line of code was just not working.
Frustrated, Thomas ran his fingers through his hair and stared at the screen. He had been writing new program patterns for BEAC all week, and he couldn't seem to be satisfied with it.
The background noise of blowtorches and electric saws drew his attention away from the computer. He was in the storage shed where the Di Bison was being repaired; the crew had done a great job in the four days they had been working on it. The melded and ruined metal from the Gunsniper's shot had been removed, the inner circuitry replaced, and now the new shells of armour were being welded into place.
There was an incredible amount of noise, but Thomas still preferred to work in there rather than in one of those stuffy communications labs. He enjoyed seeing his Di Bison take shape again.
Returning his mind to the program, Thomas could not pinpoint what was bothering him about it. Cursing under his breath, he erased the entire line and started again.
The new line of code was not much of an improvement. Feeling like he was going in circles, Thomas exited the program in irritation. He was probably spending too much time on it. When he thought about it, what was he trying to improve with the BEAC program? Efficiency and accuracy, yes, but he didn't really have a definite reason for writing up new source codes at the moment. There was nothing wrong with BEAC.
You're being evasive, sneered a little voice in his mind. Thomas pushed the thought away. That wasn't true. He had not been avoiding Fiona and Van. It was more a case of separate interests. Fiona was always heading back and forth between the Rare Hertz caves with the research teams, so she wasn't around a lot of the time. Van seemed distracted, by what Thomas couldn't guess. If anything, Van was being more avoidant than Thomas these days.
Inevitably, he remembered what Karl had said to him before he left, four days ago. "Look, I never enjoy saying goodbye to you," Karl had said, "but I particularly don't like it this time, what with everything that's gone on. I'll just say this… you've done something very admirable in telling the others what you did, but you can't believe that will be the end of it."
"I don't understand," Thomas had said.
"I know you don't. But here's my advice to you: don't panic, and don't make excuses. Those have always been your negative traits, 'Mas."
I'm not making excuses, he thought. They were valid reasons. Both Van and Fiona were on the base right now. There was nothing stopping him from going and talking to them, if he so wished.
Maybe that was it. Thomas closed the portable computer with a snap. It wasn't that there were valid reasons why he couldn't go; it's that his mind was making them up at every opportunity. He was still doing it, even after learning to trust them.
Casting one more look at the Di Bison, Thomas crossed the shed to the doorway. Technology could wait. He really needed to spend some time with human beings, for once.
Fiona was glad that it wasn't lunch hour. She had been in the food hall before when it was lunch hour, and although being in the middle of a raucous group of soldiers had its charms, she could only handle so much of it at a time.
Life had been slow since Major Schubaltz left. The three of them had yet to be reassigned by the Guardian Force, and as a result there was little for them to do. Fiona had been assisting the research team up at the Rare Hertz caves, owing to the fact that the place interested her, and she was often able to sense hazards there before the soldiers came across them. She was not certain, but the cave had an archaic, familiar feeling that suggested it might have been in use in Ancient Zoidian times. The idea fascinated her; she had come across so little from the Ancient times that she could understand.
The book she was reading, like most others in her collection, was one of exposition about the Ancient Zoidian artefacts that had been discovered over time. What made this book interesting was that it was an Imperial one. Whilst all the Republican books on the subject she had borrowed from Doctor D were good, the Imperial archaeologists had discovered some different things, and had quite separate theories as to their purposes. She continued reading the section on Zoidian architecture.
Although not much remains on the site today, the Zeppelin expedition of fifty years ago found enough of the original structure to provide a possible reconstruction of the area. It seems that the building which may be a temple was part of a larger complex with the same component parts as a necropolis complex. This includes a lesser temple in the valley and a connecting causeway to the-
Flipping the page, Fiona had doubts that the area pictured would have had anything to do with a necropolis. It wasn't anything in particular; she just felt that it was not a funerary structure.
"You shouldn't frown so much." Fiona looked up to see Thomas standing next to her table. "I know intellectuals write in the most boring method possible, but glaring at the book won't change that." She smiled at him.
"Actually, it has nothing to do with their stuffy intellectual speak," she informed him. "I'm more concerned with their stuffy archaeologist inaccuracies. You can sit down, you know."
Thomas blinked, and then sat down in the chair next to her, putting his portable computer on the table.
"Were you coding things again?" Fiona asked. "I don't know how you can do that all day long. I mean, sure, you're good at it, but it must get boring."
"Why do you think I packed up and left it?" he replied. "Besides, I had no idea what I was doing anyway. Work for the sake of work."
"I hear the Di Bison is coming along well."
"Yes, well, it's got a proper head again, which is useful. I've probably forgotten how to pilot the thing, it's been in the shop for so long."
"Oh, you'll jump back into it in no time."
"So…" Thomas said, lifting the book to peer at the cover. "'Structures and Artefacts of the Past'. Interesting?"
"I think it is." Fiona paused. "Want to read it with me?"
"Sure. But don't go too fast now; I'm only a simple Zoid technician."
Nine days after Hiltz had been captured, and Van was still stuck in between his two main opinions. Opinion one was that he was not going to get involved with Raven again, that going to see him would be stressful and he did not want to do it.
Opinion two was that he was dwelling far too much on Raven to have any choice other than confronting him. He was distracted, agitated, and tired, and it was all because he couldn't come to terms with what was going on with Raven. He had to talk with him.
Sooner or later, he was going to drive himself to insanity with his indecision. What was the problem, anyhow? He should just go into that room and demand to know … something.
There was the other problem: he had no idea what he would say once he went in there. Van knew he was desperate for something, some piece of information he had not received, but he didn't know what. It was frustrating.
He inevitably came to the conclusion that, no matter how much he didn't want to do it, he would have to speak with Raven if he ever wanted to get answers. He knew that most of his reluctance still came from his fourteen year-old self, and his uncertainty at what kind of Raven he would find.
Shaking his head, Van pulled on his jacket and left the room. He had to stop putting it off. The matter was – or should have been – clear cut. He wanted to talk with Raven, and so he would.
The corridors of the hospital wing were quiet, save the occasional scuffle of a nurse passing between rooms. Most of those injured in the attack had been discharged for some time now. The only patients still in the hospital were those newly wounded in petty skirmishes with bandits, or the ones who had been hurt severely.
Van passed into the B corridor with hardly a glance at the Imperial soldier standing guard there. He had already cleared himself to do this a few days ago, even though he hadn't actually followed through on that day. The guards had been placed at either end of the corridor only a few days ago, after the doctors reported that Raven was quite capable of walking on his own again. The army didn't want to take any chances after what happened last time.
Van thought the precautions seemed pretty lax; but then, they were still only guarding a hospital patient. According to his medical reports, Raven wouldn't be a threat for a little while yet.
He came at last to room B-18, where he hesitated. His gut feeling was that he wasn't ready for this. But he'd been feeling like that forever, and if it wasn't going to change on its own, he'd have to force it.
Van went inside.
He didn't know what he had been expecting, but it was not Raven, dressed in his piloting outfit, putting on his boots. As the door banged shut behind him, Raven glanced up and noticed Van standing there in shock. They stared at each other for almost a minute.
"I didn't realize you were coming," Raven said eventually, returning his attention to his boot.
Still trying to get his brain back into gear, Van said, "What do you think you're doing?"
"It would appear I'm getting dressed."
"Don't be a smartass!" snapped Van. "You're doing a runner, aren't you?" Raven ignored him, snapping the clasps together on his boot and reaching for the other one. "I can't believe you. You're supposed to be injured! Don't you realize that's the only thing that's stopped us shipping you straight off to prison?"
"Yes, I do," Raven replied blandly, not looking up. "Which is why I'm leaving now, before I get 'well enough' to be convicted."
"Damn it, if we'd known you were well enough, we would have sent you along with Hiltz!"
Raven flinched. He slowly looked up at Van. Van tried not to let his anger dissipate under that steel glare, but it did. Suddenly, he felt like he was fourteen again, being bared down upon by the Geno Saurer for the first time.
Eventually, Raven looked away. He snapped another clasp shut on his right boot, with his left hand. His other, the right, was still wrapped in a bandage.
Van had seen the wound on his right palm, on that first night when he'd been told of Raven's injuries after his collapse. He had never known where he got it; but he could guess. It was deep, and most likely would never heal properly. It was reopened too often.
"You should have let me kill him, you know." There was only a hint of anger in his voice, but Van caught it anyway.
"What difference would it have made?" he said. "Just another dead person to your name. There was no point in it."
"He deserved to die for what he did," Raven snapped, whipping his head up to lock eyes with Van again. "You don't know the half of what he's done." The rage faded from his face and he turned away again. "He'll get the death sentence anyway. What does it matter?"
Van was finding this to be very surreal. Raven wasn't acting like either his old self or like his deadened self. It was some fluctuating shift between the two, near as he could tell. It was throwing him off, because at least if Raven was angry, he could be angry back.
"You don't honestly think I'm going to stand here while you leave?" Van asked, watching as Raven finished with his boots and stood up. The renegade picked up his battered tan shirt and pulled it on, with his back to Van.
"I don't know what to think where you're concerned. I'll just have to see, won't I?"
Van scowled in annoyance. "After all this, I'd have to be an idiot to let you escape again. After all you've put me through?" Van's emotional lines were fraying. "After all the pain you've caused me? The pain you've caused others? You didn't even care about what you were doing to others. You didn't stop for anything! It was up to me to make you stop. It was me who had to kill you."
Turning around again, Raven stalked across the room and snatched Van around the neck with his fingers. "And you think that was a terrible experience for you?" he snarled, anger building in his eyes again. "You think it was such a horrible ordeal for you, to be the killer? I can't even begin to tell you how much pain I was in when that gravity cannon hit the cockpit. If it wasn't for Shadow, then I-" Raven stopped short. Van stared at him, riddled with old panic, frozen under Raven's nails digging into his skin. Emotion withering, Raven stepped away from Van and removed his hand.
Van massaged his throat nervously. Raven was a goodly distance away now, but he still wasn't comfortable, knowing that he could flare up again at any time. It seemed though that Raven couldn't hold his anger very long.
Casting Van a dull look, Raven returned to the other side of the room. "I hate you, Flyheight," he said quietly. "More than anything. Part of me wants nothing so badly as to grab hold of you again and choke the life right out of you." He sighed. "But another part of me … really does not care anymore."
Van, still near the door, rubbed his arm absently. He had gotten the cast off in the morning. It was still stiff, but it was good to have it back in working condition. Right now, though, his arm wasn't bothering him.
"I hate you as well, you know." He did not know if Raven was looking at him, because his gaze was fixed on the wall. "God knows, I tried not to. I wanted to be your friend. But I hate you, and that will never change. I was sorry for you, when I thought you'd died, but it was only because you weren't around anymore." He paused. "I still feel sorry for you, and for what happened to Shadow. But I will never stop hating you for what you did to me."
Glancing up, he found Raven watching him through narrowed eyes. He looked more tired than he'd ever seen him. Then he shifted, and he was impassive again.
Raven reached up to the window and fiddled with one of the screws. He pulled it out. Removing three other screws from the frame, already loosened, he pulled the unattached glass out with a grunt and dropped it onto the hospital bed. Stepping onto a chair near the window he put one foot on the empty frame. He looked back at Van.
"There will be five minutes until an alarm is raised," he said. Van understood. A window of time to allow Van to look blameless, should he decide not to raise the alarm himself or take Raven down now. He kept an expressionless face when meeting Raven's eyes. Raven looked much the same. "Bye," he said simply.
With a rustle and a jump, he was gone.
Gazing at the empty window for a moment, Van turned and left room B-18. Shutting the door behind him, he walked at a sedate pace down the hallway.
He watched his feet as he walked. Nothing ever seemed to go the way he expected it to. Then again … everything seemed to turn out all right in the end regardless. Passing the guard at the end of the hall, he turned and kept going.
Despite himself, he had to grin as the alarm sirens started to blare out overhead.
Van leaned back against the Blade Liger's leg as he watched the fiery sunset out the open gateway. There were still some soldiers rushing around, surveying damage and reporting to senior officers, but the scene had quieted down some time ago.
There was no sign of Raven. Hijacking another Zaber Fang, he had blasted his way out of the base in the early afternoon and tore off into the desert at top speed. Damage was minimal, as far as the base was concerned, but the damage to the soldiers' morale was quite bad. The infamous war criminal had disappeared again, and this time, no one had been able to track him down.
Van had gone out with them to search, but to no avail. Even if he had been actively trying to find where Raven had gone, he wouldn't have found it. The man knew how to vanish when he wanted to.
Growling, Zeke sidled up next to him. Van smiled and rubbed the organoid's head. "Yeah, I think so too," he said. "It's better this way."
He turned to see Fiona and Thomas come across the runway to him. They looked worried. "Have they found anything?" Fiona asked. Van shook his head.
"Nope, not a trace. He's completely gone."
"Oh, dear. I don't know what poor Captain Reyes is going to tell the General," she said sadly. "It's not really his fault."
"Don't worry, we can file the report," Thomas said. "It was the Guardian Force's duty as well, seeing as we were the ones who captured him." He caught Van's eye. "How're you holding up?"
Van shrugged. "Fine, really. I don't mind." The two of them looked at each other, surprised.
"But, Van, aren't you upset?" asked Fiona hesitantly. "I mean, he's out there again, and he knows who he is now." Van caught on that what was really worrying Thomas and Fiona was how he was reacting to the whole ordeal, not what Raven was supposedly doing out in the wilderness. He smiled a bit.
"I can't say that I'm entirely happy, but I'm fine with it. I think this might be the last we ever hear of Raven."
The four of them looked out across the orange-drenched sand of the desert. Part of the wall on the gate was shattered, having been nicked in the Zaber Fang's flight from the base.
"By the way," Thomas said after a while, "Colonel Davies called me half an hour ago." Van looked over at him. Colonel Davies was the director of the Imperial Guardian Force operatives. "He's got a new assignment, about twelve hundred and fifty miles west of here. We're moving out in the morning."
"We?" Fiona queried.
"Oh yes, it's a joint Republican-Imperial mission. All three of us have to go."
"Twelve hundred and fifty miles though," sighed Fiona. "That'll take us ages."
"Terrific. I'll have plenty of time to teach you about text-based command systems then." Thomas had that obsessive glint in his eye that he got when talking about anything technical. "It's a travesty that you don't know anything about them. Even more so that you think the GUI systems are better. Why, the flexibility and customisation available to text-based systems alone are enough to-"
"Thomas," Van interrupted, "has anyone ever informed you that you're the most boring man on the planet?"
The leaves in the forest rustled softly in the wind. Sunlight streamed down through the thick vegetation, piercing the ground in places with warmth and light. A bird flicked down out of the trees and skimmed across the surface of the tiny lake, twittering and swooping amongst the insects. Clicks, buzzes and animal cries echoed along the water, which was still and clear.
On the sandy edge of the water was a block of coarse stone. Lodged in the earth, it was vaguely rectangular in shape. Words had been chiselled into it roughly.
You meant the world to me, though I never could see it myself.
I will always remember.
In the silence of the forest, leaves fluttered down.
To Pointytilly, for listening to me bitch about being a bad author and helping me with Zoids information and structuring problems.
To Plink and Pochyakko, for being my earliest inspirations in the Zoids fanfiction area.
To the people at Zoids Evolution Forums, for putting up with my newbie-ish questions and entertaining my love of Raven.
To Red Baroness, for being my most faithful and consistent reviewer. You even followed me here from the Golden Sun section. And for that gorgeous piece of fanart. Thanks so much.
To Feirdra, for being my second most consistent reviewer.
To Sh33p, for leaving me two of the most complex, awesome reviews I've ever received. And hopefully one more.
And finally, to every single one of my reviewers. I mean it when I say I could never have done this without you guys. You gave me boosts every time I hit writer's block, and we know that was an awful lot of the time. Thanks to any future reviewers as well, because I love you too, even though you may not get a new note saying so.
It's been a long two years, one month and eighteen days, but I made it. Thanks again. Hope to see you again some time!