First and Last

Time weighs on unchanged ancient places like a palpable thing. It would be so in one hundred years, here in a deep forest upon land that not much farther past one hundred years will be enveloped in seawater when the meteor strikes.

But before that all came to pass it was a vibrant forest slick with last night's rain. The trees dripped spirals into the waters of a sluggish stream, its banks overhung with fallen trunks and long grass.

And the round, white-furred head of a living creature emerged from the mud of a low section of the bank, then the closed eyes in their stripes of black appeared, and the long ears laid flat against the creature's head, and four slits like gills beside the curve of the mouth. There was, it seemed, an upheaval of the earth and the creature was rolled into the water and disappeared under the murky surface.

At submersion, electricity sparked within the creature's head and coursed through its drifting body. The protective layer of skin over its eyes fell away; now glowing and open, the crystalline orbs would never close again. Instinct made its legs' first action a kick against the riverbed, and their second to struggle up the bank opposite from whence it came.

It was a newborn Zoid, born of Zi. No metallic mating calls had sounded through the forest; Zoids were not equipped for or inclined toward creating more of their kind. Such an idea would in fact had sounded very strange to one of them, had they been prompted to consider it; all of their kind, their world's messengers, were indebted to Zi only.

The newborn began to walk. Beneath the dark skin of its legs and body machinery moved in rhythmic repetitions, clicking faintly. Its thin tail waved lazily through the still air. The long ears swiveled in their almost horizontal positions from the white and black head across the back, and within the triangular gill slits vacuum mechanisms utilized the cool air to cool the complex mechanics of the Zoid and to power the nearly perpetual hydraulics of the legs.

It reveled in its own grace, though destiny seemed to it to be a presence of danger. It knew in it's child's connection to the mother planet its name; Furigrawe.

Furigrawe. It thought, in the words of the ancient language. I am Furigrawe. I am made to find the ones I can work with, the ones I can fight with, the ones that at first I will think are one and will be discovered to be the other. I am going to be the last of my kind because we can not do those things.

Its mind was young, rehearsing things told to it while it was being formed and not fully understanding yet or knowing that it would ever understand.

A long-tailed golden mouse ran from the cover of a fallen trunk and the Zoid pounced at it. Its reflexes were matchless at this age; its paws covered the mouse's body. The creature struggled; squeaking and biting at the thick, dull claws that held it. Furigrawe knew that this was not the way to destroy it, but there was a way. It had only not been found yet.

Furigrawe felt unnatural heat around its head. Heat should be released, or it would damage systems. And there was a way to do that-light flared from within the Zoid's thin skin and electricity exited through its paws, causing Furigrawe to jump back with the pain of it, as surprised as the mouse, which bolted the instant its captor was distracted. But a lesson had been learned; there, in the paws, was a way of attack.

Furigrawe resumed its walk, its search for someone else, glad of the new technique in life it had learned. But the activation of the Strike Laser Claw was but the beginning. For the name written beneath its skin, on armor not yet developed and hardened and revealed, was not Furigrawe. Humans in the future would take the ancient language of the Zoidians and use the characters for their own writings. And in the Zoid's native tongue, developed by Zoids and Zoidians together, a blank space in the line of characters indicated the original component of a Zoid's used speech; a growl. And Furigrawe, in modern Human, read differently: Liger Zero.