*Start Flashback*

A Few Months Earlier:

He wasn't sure just what he had been expecting. Maybe that the ship would have miraculously fallen into some lake or deep bed of snow, where the fall could have been cushioned. Perhaps that somehow the ship could have been damaged but would have never completely fallen.

Most of all though, he had hoped his friend could still be alive.

But looking at the juts of machine lying scattered around the clearing, he knew it was never possible. Splinters of jagged steel lay in a deadly maze, and the only somewhat in-tact part of the ship was lying right in front of him. Slowly, cautiously, he crept toward it, instinctively drawing his gun. It was only a habit due to his long years of directing military ships, something that he could never break, even when he knew there were no survivors here.

The first site to greet him as he entered the ship was a long string of dead roses. Blackened and defeated, they lay limply on the ground of the entranceway. Vincent's eyes narrowed in disgust as he thought about the tortures the man who had once been there had gone through. At least, he thought, the Maestro finally got what was coming to her, as he spotted a badly burned body resting against the side of the destroyed vessel.

There was no sign of Alex – either his body had been cast out into the sky (where, Vincent thought grimily, he would have probably preferred to be anyway), or someone had gotten here before him. Why they may have wanted the dead captain, he had no idea, but he could only hope they were no enemy. He was sure he had been the first to request to explore the ship, yet he now knew someone had been here before him. He knew he would do everything in and beyond his power to recover his friend's remains. He owed Alex at least that much.

*End Flashback*

Despite his constant searches and tireless efforts, Vincent never recovered Alex's body. He supposed it must have been lost early in the battle of the skies. Yet there was a strange feeling in him. Something in him refused to believe Alex was truly gone. So although the captain was forced to return to his own ship and abandon his efforts, he never really gave up the notion that he had miraculously survived. It wasn't until the captain's funeral that he started to lose hope. Seeing that casket, even though he knew it was empty, was the hardest moment in all his long years. He started to wonder if his belief was simply him trying to avoid the truth – after all, he had even said himself that Alex was not easy to kill. Hell, he had tried to kill the man many times before, but somehow he always slipped out of his grasp. But Alex was still a mortal man – even he could not avoid death forever.

*Start Flashback*

A young boy ran around a large oak tree, giggling as he maneuvered his toy ship, making little buzzing noises as the ship 'flew' through the air. He was barely 6 years old – very short with light brown hair in a mop and enthusiastic brown eyes, and wore plain but clearly expensive clothes – the fabric was silken and smoother than most would have the pleasure of wearing. His father, a wealthy general of the imperial army, believed that you should dress like you are about to go into a fight – unburdened by jewels or trinkets that could be deceiving to the mind's eye in the heat of battle, yet you always need to be presentable outside a battle for your superiors.

Vincent's father was a well known and respected general who had served the army for many years. He had singlehandedly defended the eastern guard post for nearly 20 minutes against over 50 Disith soldiers until backup was able to get there. Had he failed, they would have bypassed the gate and laid ruin to the many small towns lying on the border of the two lands – causing hundreds, if not thousands of deaths of innocent farmers and livestock. He was now retired from active duty, reassigned to training the recruits, but he was still as tough and strict as he had ever been. Vincent looked up to him as a role model that he one day hoped to surpass in fame.

Vincent stopped, listening closely. There was a strange noise coming from one of the bushes on the far side of the garden – not far from where he was standing. He frowned and dropped the toy, instead arming himself with a short but sturdy stick, before slowly approaching the bush. Upon closer inspection, he could just barely make out a bit of fabric in the middle of the bush. He raised the stick and gave the figure a sharp slap, figuring he could knock it out, but underestimated his arm strength. Instead of falling, the figure stood quickly and looked at the general's son with wide eyes.

It was a poor boy – possibly a servant. He wore dirty rags of clothes and looked like he had not had a good meal or bath in awhile. His hair was a clump on his pale skull, apparently having not been brushed for some time, although Vincent had a feeling he was not quite as poor as he seemed.

"Who are you?" He asked curiously, keeping his stick raised defensively.

The boy, aware that the stick wouldn't hurt him, but sure that the guards in the courtyard would, replied quietly, "Alex. And you are General Raidon's son (1)."

Vincent frowned, "How do you know who I am?"

Alex shrugged, "Everyone knows who you are. And anyway, it isn't hard to figure it out."

This caused the older boy to scowl, "I hate it when people compare me to him…I'll be a much better General than him. In fact, I'll be the captain of my own ship!"

Alex slowly smiled, "I think I'll be a captain too. That way, we can see who the best pilot is."

Vincent grinned and added, "Yeah! And I'll be there to save your butt when you get in trouble!" This earned him a scowl from Alex, but before he could reply, one of the guards started to near Vince, who shoed Alex away. "Go, I'll see you next week!"

Alex's eyes brightened, and he nodded eagerly before ducking into the bushes just before the guard came within earshot. Vincent turned to the guard, who beckoned for him to follow. He did so obediently, but couldn't help but cast one more look over his shoulder.

*End Flashback*

++End Chapter++

I spent a long, long time trying to decide how to do this chapter. I knew from the start I wanted Vincent to star, but it was really difficult to figure out how to do his meeting with Alex, and to decide what I wanted to concentrate on. His first meeting was originally going to have them fighting, then they would meet again after the battle, but somehow I liked having the really young versions of themselves meeting without knowing as much about each other. And the ship part was just fun to write.

Anyway, I hope you liked the first 'restart' of Corrupted Hearts. Let me know if you have any complaints or anything and I'll try to change things if I can, but remember this is supposed to be more of an AU story, so the pasts are purposely not like they 'should be'. The next chapter will go back to Teran and Rosaline's relationship, and a long awaited ship will return. Enjoy!

(1). I am not sure who Vincent's father is and I didn't want to get any facts wrong, so I decided to make up my own name and history for him. If you happen to know, it would be awesome if you could tell me! I'll probably use the fake name for this story, but if I decide to do any more writings it would really come in handy.