Never Could Have Been Worse.
By Icka! M. Chif

Rem's alive.

Not alive, alive. She's been physically dead for over a century.

She's been living in my memories for longer than she was here, in the universe.

That doesn't mean I love her any less.

But I saw her again, almost for the first time it seems. Outside of my mind. She was physically -here-. I could hear her, see her, reached out and touched her if I had so chosen.

I didn't have to. I could still recognize her after all these years.

She had changed, of course. Where she once towered over me, I now towered over her. She had cut her hair and dressed differently too. She had changed her name as well.

Meryl Strife.

But she is still undeniably Rem.

There are slight differences, Rem always seemed calm and caring, but when pressed, she had a will stronger than tempered steel that even the fiercest person would bend to.

Meryl is the mirror opposite, having adapted to this harsh world. On the surface, she's hard steel. Calm, cool and collected. But when you least expect it, she's got a heart as big as this same world.

Do you believe in re-incarnation?

I never really did until Meryl stood up to a mob to save my life.

I was ready to die.

She stopped them.

I couldn't believe it. I had given up on everything. The Gung-Ho Guns were dead, failed in trying to kill me. Legato was dead, by my own hand. Wolfwood was dead as well. I was ready to join them.

I wonder if Wolfwood believes in re-incarnation. I don't think it's part of his religion, but he always did have his own way of thinking and doing things.

I wonder if he'd believe that Rem is an angel.

I've heard that once an angel touches your life, you're changed forever.

I think this makes three times that an angel has saved me.

The first was when Rem saved my older brother and me when we were infants. Then again when she put us in the life pods to go save the ships. And now, from the mob.

Would that make her a guardian angel?

I've never been good at that role.

But I'm trying it again.

Knives travels with me now.

He hates it, I think. Not the traveling, but the traveling with humans, living like one of 'the spiders'.

Sometimes I think he hates me.

But it's okay. It's what guardian angels do. They guard. I guard the humans from Knives, guard Knives from the humans and guard Knives from himself.

Eventually, he'll come to see them the same way I do. I may take decades, but I'm confident it will happen.

In Wolfwood's religion, there's a story about a man who came back to life after 40 days. It's a big holyday for them, filled with laughter, symbolism and festivities.

One of the common symbols is a butterfly.

I've studied butterflies a lot when I find them, which is rare. I still think there is a way to save both the butterflies and the spiders. Or at least have them exist peacefully.

And I've think I've noticed something that Knives has missed.

Some butterflies are poisonous.