Disclaimer: Bokurano and its characters do not belong to me.
Warnings: Spoilers for the end of the anime.
Author's Note: Writing equivalent of doodling - I scribbled this down very quickly and impulsively after watching the end of the anime, no plot or point, it's almost a character study but not even deep enough for that. Normally wouldn't have posted this, but since I've found maybe a grand total of ten Bokurano fics online, thought I'd post it anyway. GRAND TOTAL IS NOW ELEVEN, YAY! :D
The cockpit is eerily quiet.
One by one, the chairs have emptied. Dung Beetle was silenced. And now there's just him.
Nobody to stop him if he runs away. If he decides that their Earth doesn't deserve it.
His laboured breath rattles loudly in his ears, echoing off the invisible cockpit walls. The battle has stilled again - the other pilot must be tired too. Should he push it, or back off so that they can both rest? It's been about 29 hours. There are still 19 left to finish the battle. If he can just sleep for a while...
But the other robot has two lights. There's another pilot in there to wake the other one up, or maybe even their own Dung Beetle - probably how it got the drop on him before. He grinds his teeth and glares at it. The image wavers, blurs.
Zearth runs on his life force. None of the other battles lasted even half as long as this. Is it possible to run out before the fight is finished?
The other pilot would die by then too – maybe even sooner if they were older. The thought brings a humourless chuckle from his parched throat. He feels through the bag on the (empty, all of them empty) chair next to his, and finds the thermos, but there's barely even a mouthful of liquid left in the bottom. He throws it hastily aside when the enemy lurches forward again, arms windmilling haphazardly through the air.
There was a time when he'd had a childish thought - that their Earth wasn't worth it. They were going to die anyway, so why shouldn't they let another, more deserving, Earth win? Building giant pits to trap the invading robot, crowds of people cheering and supporting their pilots from rooftops, heedless of the danger... And what had their world done? Tried to cook them alive along with the enemy robot. Stuck hacking chips in them for research. Killed everyone who tried to bring the truth to media.
But he's not going to chicken out. Not after everything he's said and done, not after witnessing everyone go through the same struggle. He might not have liked most of them, but he isn't going to invalidate their sacrifices either. It wouldn't have been fair for him to survive. Of all of them, he had the least reason to live from the beginning. Was the least deserving.
The cockpit shakes under the impact. Directed by his thoughts, Zearth slams its black arms against the torso of the monolith, but still can't manage to pierce it. A heavy blow sends him reeling backwards, and in a panic he swings out a leg, tripping his opponent as well. They crash to the ground simultaneously, crushing what few buildings remain on this flattened battleground. Stalemate. Again.
He fights, and fights, and fights. Borrows moves stolen from all the battles before him, but his opponent has seen plenty of battles too. He can't seem to get the upper hand.
And then it happens. A mighty blow that shakes even the heavily protected cockpit. It rattles right through the wooden legs of his tiny schoolhouse chair. Frantically, he checks the damage. Zearth's left arm, falling to the earth. "Damn it," he swears, but his voice is raspy, and his vision blurs again. Is his time up already? Is that why Zearth's armour is failing?
"…Am I going to lose?" Here, all alone? After all this?
Another shattering blow – the black armour shudders, splinters flying free. His opponent is desperate too.
Then he sees her. Dressed in her blue uniform, and smiling so serenely.
"Mother?" It's just a hallucination, brought on by fatigue, and gone an instant later. Maybe even the cockpit showing him visions of what he wants to see – anything is possible. It's funny - he should hate her, really. For leaving him behind, for never coming back, for making him feel unwanted, for not telling him the truth. He had to find out from Tomotsu, and then only when it was too late. "I see. When I die… I can be with you again." Properly, for the first time. He can finally meet her and talk to her as her son.
He won't be alone anymore. Won't have to put up with Kana's pity.
In a burst of determination – he doesn't even know where he's pulling it from – Zearth launches itself forward, knocking the enemy to the ground. Desperately – they're both desperate, all of them had been desperate – he attacks. Reckless. He doesn't bother defending. He throws everything he has into each strike.
Then all of a sudden he's holding the white bulb in Zearth's pincers. Finally. He can scarcely believe it.
The moment stretches into eternity. The gravity of these few seconds is enormous. With just a little force, he'll doom an entire universe, and save his own.
"I'll see you guys again soon too." Friends that he never wanted, but now misses.
The cockpit shatters, and the two lights on the enemy robot go dark.
The sky disappears, and the cockpit returns to its dark, dull, orange-brown colour. The mark on his face fades – he can't see it, but can sense its passage. Or maybe he's imagining that too, after seeing it so many times before.
He stands shakily. His legs feel weak, his vision foggy - he doesn't know if it's just ordinary fatigue, or Zearth's curse at work. It doesn't really matter either way - no one's there to witness his moment of weakness. He doesn't need to put on a good face, like Moji or Kanji or Kirie or Machi or any of the others.
They'd fought so many battles. Was it really only fifteen?
"To think that these battles repeat themselves over and over… Thank god I don't have to go to another Earth." Even if it means it's the end.
He sways slightly. There's no more time. "Now… I can finally be free of this."
Ushiro takes a shaky breath, and sends one last command to Zearth.
The dark behemoth crumbles, legs and arms and head and torso shattering into chunks of black armour. The endless rumble as Zearth collapses in on itself is muted. Like the distant ocean. Like at that summer nature camp by the sea.
It's quiet. So quiet, in that circle of empty chairs.
Ushiro dies alone.