Vash the Trigun
Disclaimer: I do not own Trigun or any of the Characters or ideas in it. I do own the rights to my own characters and ideas.
Setting: Somewhere in the middle of the series. We'll say between 14 – Little Arcadia and 15 – Demon's Eye. Millie and Meryl are walking through the desert with Vash.
A/N: This was one of my first stories. I have edited this since then (it was pretty bad) but the story itself is unchanged. Unlike most of my first stories, I am happy enough with this one to leave it up.
"I'm thirsty!" Whined the blond man in the red coat. "All this walking. Why couldn't we just take the bus?"
"We could have taken the bus," said the short, black haired girl. "But someone had to blurt out that you were Vash the Stampede." She cast an angry glance to her right.
"I'm sorry Meryl." pouted a taller brunette girl. "I didn't know they would kick us off." She was close to tears. Indeed, if they hadn't been so dehydrated, she may have already been crying.
The shorter girl sighed. "It's ok Millie. We'll just have to make the best of it." She told her friend. In an undertone she whispered, 'or die out here in the desert.'
"Don't worry Insurance Girls!" Vash said cheerfully. "I'm sure we'll find water soon. The desert isn't-"
"Oh look! Water!" Millie cut him off, pointing ahead of them.
Ahead of them, no actual water could be seen. But green plants clearly could. Out here, that was as close as you got to seeing water until you put your hand in it.
"I'm sure we'll find a billion double dollars soon!" Vash yelled to the sky. He stood there staring upwards. The insurance girls stared at him like he was insane.
"Let's go." Meryl pushed Vash up over the last few feet of the sand dune. Once they were over the crest, she let gravity and the promise of fresh water do it's work. Vash started moving on his own. Soon he passed the girls on his way to the small oasis below.
On the outskirts of the oasis, there were a smattering of small plants. They were short and looked like they could use more water, but they were alive and that was an accomplishment in the harsh desert. Moving inwards, they found taller and taller cousins of the same plant. The more water the plants got, the more they seemed to grow. Luckily, there was a clear path for the companions to follow as the plants soon reached over even Millie's tall head and spaced so thickly together that they could only see a few inches into the forest. The shade was a welcome relief after so long under the sun. The path twisted and turned ahead of the girls, who had long since lost track of the red coated wonder-boy.
"So much green plant life. This place must be teaming with water!" Cried Millie excitedly.
Meryl was hopeful as well, but was beginning to get a funny feeling. A place with this much water would surely have been found and colonized a long time ago, she thought. She stuck close to her optimistic friend.
Ahead, a flash of red through the green told them they had caught up with Vash. He was standing at the edge of a small pool of water. He was not looking at the water however, but what lay across the water. There was a dome at the other end of the pond. It was the same dusty tan as the rest of the sand, but had a bright red door the same color as Vash's coat. Above it were two lines of strange writings. Meryl didn't recognize the language. The red door opened and a man emerged. He waved them over towards him and pointed to a path along the water.
As the three travelers approach, the man laughed. "Is that you Vash? Long time, no see." He came over and gave Vash a big hug. He was tall. As tall as Vash. He had a young, boyish face, that looked like it had never seen a razor, though it's clean shaven. His hair was a light brown. It looks like it was a couple of months since it got cut.
Vash looked slightly embarrassed. "Yeah. Sorry." He scratched the back of his head.
Never one to hide her emotions, Millie took the stranger's hug of Vash as permission and charged in with her own hug. "It's so nice to meet you mister-" Millie was suddenly at a loss for words. Millie was never at a loss for words. Her head cocked to the side and she had a very confused look on her face.
Meryl stepped forward while her partner composed herself. "Meryl Stryfe of the Bernadelli Insurance Agency." She offered her hand to shake.
The man took her hand and shook it. He had a powerful handshake, though his hands were much smoother than she had expected. He cocked an eye at Vash.
"They're friends of mine." Vash explained.
The handshake got friendlier. "Any friend of Vash is welcome in my home." He smiled. Then looks at Millie. "Now to answer your question before your head explodes. Yes. I am female. Though I prefer to act and be referred to has a male."
"Oooh." Millie shook her head. "That explains it."
Now it was Meryl's turn for her head to spin. Wait! What? Did he just say that he's a she? Impossible. He couldn't possibly. Her thoughts were quite a mess. Then she started to take in details she had missed earlier. A loose shirt that helped hide a narrow waist. Wide hips that couldn't possibly belong to a man. He wasn't clean shaven. She never had to shave. How could I be so stupid? She thought.
"It's simply who I am." The man/woman shrugged. "While you're here, you may call me Herman."
Vash laughed. Apparently there was a joke there somewhere. Millie giggled a second later. Only Meryl remained ignorant.
"But, where are my manners?" Herman asked. "You must be parched. Come inside and help yourselves to some water."
Millie didn't have to be told twice. She was in the house as if fired from Vash's gun. Vash gave a shrug and a smile and followed her. Meryl sighed and followed the other two. Herman graciously waved her in, then followed her inside. Closing the door behind him.
Inside, it was remarkably cool. Meryl sighed at how wonderful it was. She took a deep breath and gave a satisfied sigh.
"Do you like it?" Came the question from behind her. Meryl had forgotten that he was behind her. She gave a small start, but he continued. "I call it Central Air Conditioning. It makes my life here much more pleasant." He smiled and gave a satisfied sigh as well.
There were two rooms to either side. To the right, a small kitchen. To the left a living room with couches and chairs. It front of them, a wide hall that led down. Down to what, Meryl did not know. Meryl looked to her right and saw Millie and Vash drinking out of large metal pitchers. Vash had some water running down the side of his face. Upon their approach, Millie looked abashed. "I'm s-" she began.
"I said drink your fill and I meant it." Herman cut her off.
"Oh, thank you!" Millie cheered. And went back to drinking. Vash had never stopped.
Herman made an inviting gesture to Meryl and said, "Help yourself. Drink all you want." Then a quick smile, "If you would like to use a cup instead of a pitcher, they are in that upper cabinet." He said pointing.
Meryl walked over to the cabinet and took out a tall glass. She filled it at the sink and took a drink. Oh my gosh! This is amazing! It's the best water I've ever tasted! So cool and crisp. She thought. She drained the cup and quickly filled another and another. She had drained five cupfuls when she realized that everyone was staring at her.
"Don't let us stop you." Herman chuckled. "You've been wandering in the desert. I'm guessing you're still thirsty."
Meryl nodded and drank three more cups of water. She filled a fourth and finally slowed her pace down. When it was drained she put her cup next to the empty pitchers of her friends.
Herman clapped his hands and rubbed them together. "Now that no one is going to die of dehydration any time soon, let's get you cleaned up. I have showers in the lower level. And robes for you to wear while your own clothes are cleaned."
The girls shared a shower and Vash got one of his own. When they were done their clothes were gone. In their place were loose fitting pants with drawstrings to hold them up, shirts a bit too big, robes, and sandals. All of them were in the same pale brown.
Vash looked different. Without his red coat and slicked back hair it just didn't look like Vash. The pants, shirt and robe hid most of his scars except the ones on his hand and feet. Without the glove on his right hand, it was much more obvious that his left arm was not human. Millie and Meryl had seen him getting out of the shower before. They had seen all the scars. It was not the same shock as before, but it still moved them to know just how much he sacrificed to protect people.
Vash just smiled and gestured upstairs. "Shall we?"
Herman had prepared a small feast for them. Delicacies they had only dreamed of having. Fish. Only the richest people in the world got to eat fish. Corn as well. They had had corn before, but not so much and never strait from the cob before. There were melons they had never seen before. Including one called of all things, watermelon. Meryl was in heaven when she tasted the fish. Millie liked the fish too, but loved the melons above everything else. Vash seemed to like everything equally until Herman brought out desert. Dozens of hot, fresh mini donuts.
"I started heating up the fryer while you guys were in the shower." He explained.
Dinner was washed down by as much water as any of them could drink. Meryl noticed that Herman also drank a lot of water as well. After dinner, they did the dishes together. Herman wouldn't dream of asking guests to do the dishes, but was more than willing to accept help. After the dishes were clean and drying, they retired to the living room. Herman nursed a brownish liquor, everyone else had a tall glass of water.
"Well, now that you have been fed and watered, I suppose you have some questions." Herman started.
"Who are you? And what is this place?" Meryl started accusingly. It wasn't that she wasn't grateful for the water and the food, but there was something fishy about this place and about this "man".
"That's two questions." Herman stated, calmly meeting her eyes. "I will answer them one at a time. As I said, you may call me Herman. No, it's not my real name, but I don't give that to anyone. Even the other name Vash knows me by is not my real name." Vash looked a little surprised by this, but Herman continued. "I am here because there are humans here. Humans in desperate need of help. I can provide that help, given enough time. You saw my plants out there. Only the ones in the garden get even sporadic watering. The rest have to make due with whatever they can get. And the plants are getting stronger. I help them along, of course. But they are adapting to the desert quite well. The plants I picked for this are not desert plants by nature. They are fringe plants. They thrive on the fringes. A few plants together can turn a sandy desert into the fertile soil that grew out delicious dinner in only a few short years. The plants in the actual desert are slowly changing the desert as well. They make it more fertile the longer they grow. And each year, the plants that replace the old ones grow taller and taller on the same amount of water. It's really quite amazing. In a hundred years, the plants will spread themselves outside this little valley, then they make this entire planet a more fertile place."
"So these plants-" Began Meryl.
"Are going to save the world." Finished Herman. "It will never be a blue planet like Earth, but I think we can manage green."
"How come no one else has found this place?" chirped Millie.
Herman didn't answer right away or even look at Millie. Instead he looked at Vash as if sizing him up. "How's that project of yours coming?" He asked Vash, ignoring Millie question. Millie looked a little hurt. Meryl started to get angry. No one hurt Millie if she could help it.
Vash dropped his gaze to the floor. "I don't know." It was barely more than a whisper.
"Did you know Vash? Back on Earth, there were 40,000 different species of spider. Do you know how many didn't kill to live?" Herman asked. Vash just shook his head. "One."
At this Vash's head shot up. The grin on his face was real. "There was one?"
Herman nodded. "Just one. 1 in 40,000. Those aren't great odds Vash. And if you fail..."
What would happen if Vash failed went unspoken. Vash bowed his head again. Meryl deemed it a good time to interrupt. "Excuse me! You still haven't answered Millie's question." She yelled.
"There is no need to shout. My hearing is just fine." Herman stared at her calmly until she sat back down. He picked up his glass and took a sip. "Now, why has no one found this place? That was your question?" He looked at Millie.
Millie looked up from the ground, instantly happy again.
"That isn't an easy question to answer." Herman began.
Meryl started getting an uneasy feeling. Why wouldn't that be an easy question to answer? Unless? She didn't want to think about the unless. So, she just listened.
"The people who generally stumble upon this place aren't nice folks like yourselves. They are normally on the run from something and for good reason. I like to leave this sitting around just to be sure though." With that he pulled out a large box. He set it on the coffee table and opened it. Inside was enough gold to buy your own town and a gun. "Not quite as obvious as this of course, but I make sure they see it."
"What happens then?" Asked Meryl. Hoping she didn't know the answer.
"They try to kill me." Herman said. He didn't look at any of them.
No one wanted to ask what happened after that. The fact that he was still sitting here was proof enough that he survived the attacks.
Suddenly, Vash jumped to his feet. "You Monster!" He yelled, pointing his gun at Herman. His green eyes were blazing with fire.
Herman didn't even blink at having Vash the Stampede pointing a gun in his face. "Put that away before you hurt someone. If that goes off, who do you think is likely to get hit?" He asked calmly.
The fire died as Vash looked at the girls and realized just who in the room was likely to absorb a bullet from his gun. He still looked furious at Herman. "How many?" he wanted to know as he sat back down.
"You don't want to know that." Herman replied.
"How many!?" Vash yelled, slamming his now empty hand on the table.
"As many as it takes." Herman said looking Vash in the eye.
"Murderer!" Vash yelled as he jumped up again. His hand went to his gun, but he left it in his holster this time. Meryl chose that moment to grab Millie's hand and head away from the argument. She took her to the kitchen and made her some tea. Though they could still here the fight from there.
"Murderer!?" Herman finally showed some reaction. He had been too calm for too long. With the girls gone and Vash accusing him of murder, her finally got to his feet. "Yeah, I killed. I killed murderers, rapists, and thieves. But more than that is how important my work is. This will literally save this God-forsaken planet. Even if all those people had been innocent, I would still kill them to keep this place safe! In 200 years, this planet is going to be lush. But you would rather I build a village here? There's enough water here for 50 people to live comfortably or 100 sparingly. Do you think I should throw away a million lives in exchange for 50? What kind of insane space logic did they teach you?"
"No one has the right to take a life." Vash answers quietly.
"A great lesson for a child." Herman spits. "But adults are expected to make the difficult decisions. The ones where there's a gray area. 'Is it right to kill the person who is about to kill 10 people?' No? What about 100? 1,000? 1,000,000? Is that killer's life worth 1,000,000 innocent lives?" Herman received no answer from Vash. "My plants are going to save millions of lives. My conscience is clearer than yours my friend. You're hands may be clean. But the destruction that you've caused trying to keep them clean..." Both men fell silent.
"You girls can come out now." Herman called. "We're done fighting."
Meryl and Millie re-entered the living room. "I'm sorry my question caused so much trouble." Millie said.
Vash and Herman flashed Millie the same smile. It was the later who answered. "It wasn't your fault Millie. This is an old argument between Vash and me."
"Are you going to kill us now?" Millie asked with tears in her eyes.
Herman had a sharp intake of breath. He swallowed as tears came to own his eyes. "My dear, dear girl. What made you say something like that?"
Which was exactly what Meryl wanted to know. They had had a slight chance of escaping before she had asked that and put him on his guard. Now that he knew they knew, they were toast. Unless Vash did something brave and foolish like he was wont to.
"You said you would kill innocent people to keep this place a secret and I agree. If it's going to save the planet, then I gladly give my life!" Millie stood at attention. Her head forward and tears streaming down her face.
Herman crossed to Millie. Meryl was standing next to her and reached inside her coat for her derringers. Vash caught her eye and shook his head. Millie stood there with a hand inside her robe, looking rather Napoleonic. Herman reached Millie and very gently raised her head to meet his eyes. He wiped away her tears as his own started falling and he said, "I would do anything to save this place from those who would do it harm. Luckily, I don't believe that killing you will be necessary to protect this place." He looked between Meryl and Millie. "I must ask you to solemnly swear to never mention this place to anyone. Including talking about it amongst yourselves. Doing so, could cause others to come here and could destroy my plants before they are ready. In short, talking about this ever again could destroy the world. Will you swear?"
Millie answered first. She saluted and shouted, "Sir! Yes, Sir!" Herman smiled and kissed her forehead tenderly.
Meryl nodded. "I won't tell a soul."
"Good." Herman said as he left the room.
"Hey, what about Vash?" cried Meryl.
"He won't tell anyone." Herman assured her. But he turned and looked at Vash anyway. "He knows that as long as I'm here, I can't be elsewhere." The two men exchanged a look. "Come, I'll show you to your rooms. Your clothes will be dry by morning. I'll take you to the nearest town myself."