This is a work of fan fiction using characters and situations from the anime series Gurren Lagann, which is trademarked by Gainax Corporation.
For the most part, characters depicted in this work are characters created and owned by Kazuki Nakashima and Hiroyuki Imaishi. I do not claim any ownership over them or the world of Gurren Lagann. There are a couple minor original characters appearing of my own design, however.
The story I tell about the former members of Team Dai Gurren is my own invention, and it is not purported or believed to be part of Gurren Lagann's story canon. This story is for entertainment only and is not part of the official story line.
I am not profiting financially from the creation and publication of this story. And I am very grateful to Messrs. Nakashima and Imaishi for sharing their wonderful story with the rest of us. Without their anime creation, my story would be sans raison d'être.
This is the story of a man who had made an uneasy peace with his Destiny. By piercing the heavens and creating them anew, he had saved the Spiral Races throughout the Universe, including his own. In so doing, he enabled the friends he loved and all humankind to carry on with their lives-to love, to prosper, to build the next generation beginning with their own homes and families. But his victories had come at a terrible price, losing those most precious to him. He had resigned himself to wander the Surface for the rest of his days while cherishing their memories in his heart, though longing to be near them in spirit once again. But Destiny would seek out the man one final time to be reconciled once and for all, forever changing him in ways he never could have conceived.
"Just a little longer, Boota," the man said, concentrating intently on the shallow water rippling between the rocks below him.
"Bui," his little pigmole companion said in reply, lying on the ground next to where the man had set down his rucksack and bed roll. This was the spot where they would make camp for the night after another day sojourning through the vast wilderness.
While he was grateful for the occasional opportunity to earn an honest day's wage for an honest day's work, he certainly enjoyed travelling on foot from settlement to settlement. It gave him the opportunity to explore the Surface, which, after all, was the reason he and his brother had ventured from their underground village in the first place. Over the last several years, he'd settled into a comfortable routine. He would explore the vast wilderness heading in no particular direction until his travels brought him to a village or settlement. There he would spend some time getting to know the people, offering to help them drill for water. Sometimes he would help plant gardens to grow vegetables so people could better sustain themselves. And everywhere he went, he planted flowers. Those were the moments he looked forward to the most, each time renewing the promise he had made what seemed like so long ago. But after a few weeks, or maybe even a month, he would leave suddenly and return to the wilderness. This was where he felt most at peace.
He couldn't even begin to figure how many miles he'd walked over the last several years as he wandered to and fro about the earth. His travels had taken him to the tops of mountain peaks, the bottoms of massive canyons, from one side of vast prairies to the other, through raging rivers, and across painted deserts. He had come to treasure each of those moments as precious in its own way. The memory of the places he had seen made the perils of harsh terrain, hot days, cold nights, poisonous plants, swarming insects, biting reptiles and vicious animals seem worthwhile.
Yesterday the man and his furry companion had wandered out from underneath the dense forest canopy and onto the river plain. Autumn was upon them, and the leaves of the broadleaf trees were all turning their vibrant colors before falling to the ground. Soon enough the trees would be bare and the rains would come. And the snow would follow along shortly afterward. Spring would come once again and green everything up before the lush foliage would blot out the sunlight from the forest floor once again. He looked forward to enjoying another complete cycle, finding himself never tiring of the wonder of it all.
Following the river upstream, he had soon found himself in the foothills. He hadn't been able to make time as he would had he headed out on the flatlands right away, though this time through he wasn't in that much of a hurry either. While tomorrow would see them likely heading deeper in to the hilly country, for now they would rest along the headwaters of this great river near a patch of late-blooming flowers. They would blaze a trail towards the flatlands before too long, though, knowing he would need to make good time travelling south to stay ahead of the inevitable change of seasons. He had spent the last winter in a settlement so isolated he was unable to leave until spring. As much as he had liked getting to know its people, he had nearly gone stir crazy from his wanderlust. This year he planned to stay ahead of the hard frost by heading southward, so he could keep digging and planting before returning in the spring.
He regretted in that moment leaving his cloak on the shore, shuddering slightly as the crisp air foretelling of the coming winter nipped at his bare back and chest. The fellow known as Simon the Digger stood with each foot perched on a rock in the middle of the stream, holding his staff above his head. In such a pose his well-toned form could well be compared to that of a marble statue from days of antiquity save for the scraggly beard and unkempt dark hair tied back behind his head. The staff pointed downward, with the rock drill at its end moving side-to-side slightly as he followed his quarry's movements.
He had come to depend upon both not only while drilling for water, but also to help stave off hunger during the periods in between. Over time, he had grown pretty skilled at spear fishing. He looked forward to being successful again as his empty stomach growled impatiently. The fish had come upstream to spawn before winter. Several of them swished lazily around in the shallow water below Simon's feet as the late afternoon sun rippled upon its surface. "We'll fry up some fish tonight and eat fine for sure, lil' buddy."
At length, Simon thrust his staff into the water with a determined grunt. "Hah!" he cried, as its point found its mark.
"Bui! Buibui!" cheered Boota from the shore as he chased his tail in a dance of celebration.
"Not bad if I do say so myself," he beamed, turning to face his little furry companion as he held up his staff to examine the speared fish as it wriggled helplessly on the tip of his drill. "Not bad at-"
Simon's words caught in his throat as he grabbed reflexively at his chest. His breath was taken away in an instant by an intense pain unlike anything he'd ever experienced. The staff fell from his other hand, landing in the water just before Simon collapsed.
"Bui?! BUI!" Boota squealed with alarm as the swift current carried off the speared fish belly up out of sight. The frigid water surrounding his face and body quickly brought Simon back to his senses. Spluttering wildly, he managed to grab his staff and crawl up onto the river bank as the pain subsided. "Bui!" his little companion squeaked as he jumped up on his shoulder and nuzzled Simon's ear with concern.
"Dunno, Boota," Simon panted. "I don't know what's going on! I never felt anything like-"
He grabbed at his chest again as he doubled over, screaming in agony in response to pain that had overtaken him. Simon felt Boota leap from his shoulder as he fell forward, landing roughly on the hard ground. He could tell a measure of his own life force was being forcibly drained from his very body. But within a moment the terrible sensation passed, though he was still struggling to control his breathing. He had come very near to blacking out.
Is my life close to ending? Simon thought as he looked up at the horizon and pulled himself up slowly with his forearms. He had heard of people experiencing such symptoms before their hearts had stopped beating, but was he really old enough now to experience them himself? Looking up toward where the sun had begun to sink below the horizon, he believed he beheld what, to him, could only be called an angel.
Simon's heart pounded in his chest as his mind struggled to accept what his senses perceived. He wasn't sure if this was a trick of a dying mind or if he really was seeing what he thought he was seeing. To him, the very clouds in the sky had formed themselves into her perfect likeness in silhouette, backlit by the setting sun. He could even see what appeared to be her long hair glinting with the colors of the rainbow.
"NIA!" he screamed, falling on his chest again as he reached a trembling hand skyward. His love, lost to him years before, was coming for him so they could be together once again. "Oh, Nia, I'm ready!" he cried out as tears began running down the sides of his face. Simon the Digger surrendered his spirit, believing his next breath would be his last.
But it wasn't. Neither was the next one. Nor was the one after that.
Simon looked up, grunting confusedly as the gamine figure appeared to wag a finger at him. "Huh?"
The image gestured gracefully toward the eastern sky where the Evening Star shone brightly against the twilight. Simon strained his eyes as he turned his head but closed them quickly as an eerie light flashed brightly. He started from the deafening noise that followed, but knew instantly it wasn't thunder. It was a sonic boom.
Simon looked back toward the setting sun, noticing the colors of the sky had rearranged themselves back into their brilliant yet random tapestry. Whatever he had believed he was seeing a moment ago, he saw nothing but the last vestiges of an early autumn sunset now.
Glancing back toward the spot in the sky from where the noise had come, Simon lay transfixed upon the scene before him. Simon could make out what appeared to be a pair of Grapearl fighting mecha as they trailed smoke and flames behind them in a lazy arc toward the horizon all the way back to the ring of mist where a teleportation halo had already slammed shut. From what he could tell, one of the mechs had lost control of almost all of its control surfaces as the other tried valiantly yet vainly to guide them both down safely.
Simon's last thought was whether the Grapearl's pilots managed to activate their emergency radiobeacons before blackness overcame him.
"Are you hurt?"
Simon groaned into consciousness as he responded woozily to the speaker's voice, which at that moment was shaking his shoulder to rouse him. "No, I don't think so."
He blinked a moment as the flashlight's beam shone brightly in his eyes. The sensation of the crisp air biting at his bare back and chest returned, stronger now that night had fallen, causing him to shiver.
"You are Simon the Digger, correct?"
"Yes, that's right."
"C'mon, on your feet then," the voice said as he saw a gloved hand reach down into his view. Simon took it in his and slowly pulled himself up to his full height. It was nearly dark now, which made it difficult for Simon to see exactly who was talking to him. The spotlights on the two hovercrafts in front of him shining behind the man made it difficult for Simon to see his face.
"Bui!" Simon heard before Boota jumped up on his shoulder. He recognized the soldier wearing the battle dress uniform from the militia which guarded Kamina City, his former home. "Here," the man as he held out Simon's cloak. He took it graciously and pulled slowly over his head. "Thanks."
"Sure," the soldier replied. "Would you like some help with your things? I've been asked to accompany you to my superior."
"I'm rather interested in just who you guys are, who your superior is and why you're all way out here? Are you rescuing the pilots of those Grapearls?"
"I'm Captain Slegnejm, and the homely mug driving is Sergeant Eflowwk. We're with the Fifth Engineering Brigade."
"You mean you're Dayakka's men?" Simon interjected.
Simon felt better knowing these men planned to take him to see Dayakka and that his old friend was running this show. He was sure the Grapearl pilots would be in good hands.
The soldier chuckled. "Well, we were. We both served under Dayakka back when I was a lieutenant. He commands all the Engineers now. Can I help you with your things?"
Simon glanced at the hovercraft behind him. Another similar unit stood by a short distance beyond, manned by two more soldiers who pointed at him as they gestured to one another excitedly.
"No, that won't be necessary. I feel fine now, except I'm a little tired." Simon was still having trouble figuring why he had blacked out, though. Perhaps next time he passed through Kamina City he would have a physical examination performed on him. He reasoned he wasn't getting any younger, after all.
"Glad to hear that," the man replied, picking up Simon's rucksack and staff anyway and placing them in the back of the hovercraft's open canopy. "We've been looking forward to meeting you. Now if you would take a seat, we would like to be away."
Simon sighed. "Well, we might as well go along, Boota," he said as he shrugged his shoulders. The little creature settled down under one of the flaps of the rucksack as Simon climbed in and settled himself. If nothing else, this would put them into Kamina City a couple of days ahead of time, helping him keep ahead of the hard frost the winter would bring. Despite the good fortune, Simon felt a strange sense of foreboding welling up within him just the same.
They travelled westward for some time while the harvest moon shone brightly and low in the sky behind them. The two hovercrafts raced across the high plain while Simon glanced occasionally at the stars to keep mental notes of their route. They had followed the river bottoms out of the valley, skirting the foothills. By his estimate, they were a good half-day's ride north and east of Kamina City. It seemed to Simon these militia troops were some ways out of their normal theatre of operations. He nibbled at what was left of the biscuits and dried meat the men had offered him, grateful for the opportunity to satiate his growling stomach after their dinner was interrupted. Boota had already fallen back asleep underneath the flap of his rucksack.
The glow he'd seen on the horizon some ways back finally revealed itself as a contingent of Grapearls and other various pieces of equipment milling around in the middle of the grassy prairie ahead of them. Light plants had been deployed to aid the work. Simon pulled his driller's goggles down over his eyes and stood to look toward the site. Bracing himself on the roll cage surrounding the craft's cockpit, Simon could only stare in shock as they arrived. His mind did not want to comprehend what was plain to his eyes.
"Oh, please, dear God, not them!"
The combat engineers along with their Grapearl escorts had managed to extinguish the fire, but they were only just now beginning to clear the wreckage and rubble from the crash site. Simon saw what he now realized must have been the two Grapearls he'd seen earlier falling out of the sky after their teleport. While good portions of the two mechs were crumpled beyond recognition or scorched from incendiary impacts, the markings and insignia he could see on the undamaged portions were unmistakable.
"GIMMY! DARRY!" Simon cried as he leapt from the hovercraft before it had come to a stop. He put his hand to his forehead in a look of desperation before turning to growl angrily at the two soldiers who had brought him here. "Where the hell are the Adai twins? Are they all right?"
"We don't know ourselves, sir," the soldier replied. His partner held up his hands, gesturing in a manner suggesting Simon calm down. "I'm sure we'll be able to find out soon enough how the Commanders are-"
"Then find out, and find out right now!" Simon barked as he drew his goggles down around his neck. "JUST WHO IN THE HELL DO YOU-"
"They know exactly who you are, Simon, which is why they brought you to me right away."
Simon turned toward where the familiar voice had come. "Well met, Dayakka."
"I was hoping we might meet again under happier circumstances, my friend," the other man said as he and Simon clasped each other's shoulders exchanging a hearty greeting.
Dayakka turned to the soldiers operating the hovercraft as he ran a hand through his close-cropped graying hair. "Leave his things here and return to Central. We'll be along after we mop up."
The two men thumped their chests in salute before one of them lugged Simon's rucksack and staff over the side of the craft and down to the ground. "Bui! Bui!" Boota squeaked as he emerged from the rucksack and jumped up on Simon's shoulder. "Thank you for the lift," he said to them both.
"Gladly," the first man replied. "Yeah, not every day we get to meet *the* Simon the Digger," said the other. A moment later, the marker lights from the speedy craft were lost in the murky darkness as they sped off toward Kamina City.
Dayakka chuckled. "Actually, it was good I heard your voice, Simon. I would have hardly had recognized you otherwise. You ought to try partaking in the miracles of modern civilization more often. Like shaving," he said, sniffing the air noisily in Simon's direction for effect. "And showering." Simon could see the laugh lines and crow's-feet beginning to form on his friend's face as he smiled at him.
"Well, you know that I'd always wanted to explore the Surface, so now I have the time," Simon chuckled good-naturedly at his friend's rebuke. "There isn't much by way of modern conveniences out here in the bush, you know, but I usually clean up before I take on a new drilling job or plant flowers. I did, however, sort of take an unexpected cold shower before your men found me."
Simon whistled as he noticed the epaulets on Dayakka's uniform. "Those men said you'd been promoted over all the engineers, but I didn't know they went and made you general!"
"The mountain of paperwork got bigger, so they had to promote me to a higher rank so I could still see over it, I guess," Dayakka snorted. "Sometimes I think I'm just the only one thick-headed enough to take the damn job. But someone had to do it, and Kiyoh and the kids like that I'm home most every night now."
"But then why would you be out here during field operations?"
"Well, this particular mission called for it. Come with me please, Simon; I need to talk to you. And there are things you need to see."
Simon hoisted his rucksack over one shoulder and slung his staff over the other. A moment later, he and Dayakka stood near the nearly completely demolished cockpit of Commander Darry Adai's mech.
"Dayakka, are Gimmy and Darry..."
"I can assure you they're both alive, but in pretty rough shape. They got the snot beat out of them for sure. I've been getting updates on their condition every half hour or so. Their vitals are stable now, although it sounds as though Gimmy is still unconscious. Amazingly enough, Darry was talking when we pulled her out of her cockpit but sustained a compound fracture to her left leg. We had to sedate her for her own good as she became hysterical when we told her that her brother was unresponsive."
Simon felt his heart ache for the two kids. Well, they aren't exactly kids anymore, he thought with a sense of nostalgia. He had sat next to his friend Dayakka and his family several years ago when Gimmy and Darry Adai had graduated at the top of their class from Lagann Academy. Then they had accepted their commissions with the space forces. A few months back, Simon learned that they had returned to Kamina City for a "special assignment", and figured this certainly must have had to do with it. He took pride in their being two of the best pilots in the joint Terran fleet, as well as growing into fine young adults and respected officers. Both were married now; Gimmy's son was a toddler already.
Simon reflected silently how he hadn't been much more than a kid himself that day he and Kamina left their underground village with Lagann what seemed like an eternity ago.
He whistled as he inspected the ruined cockpit of Darry's mech up close. The engagement must have been brutal. "I'm certainly glad Darry was still talking after taking a blow like that on the lower frontal quadrant." Simon knew full well she must have parried just quick enough to avoid a direct hit by an ion cannon blast. A lesser pilot would certainly have been incinerated instantly.
"Well, I'm sure The Tigress going to catch hell from her husband over this. He's been imploring upon her to take that promotion and let someone else play stick jockey."
A moment later, Simon and Dayakka looked up at the smashed hulk of Gimmy's Grapearl. The cockpit had sustained tremendous blunt force impact, requiring the engineers to extract him through a hole cut into the back of the mech. Simon shook his head in disbelief. "I don't understand, Dayakka. Who would do such a thing to them?"
"Let me begin by saying that everything you've seen and heard here is very sensitive and under no circumstances can be talked about publicly."
Simon nodded. "These two volunteered to test pilot a new super teleportation system we've been working on to conduct a reconnaissance mission to The Periphery," Dayakka continued. "This process expands upon the rudimentary understanding we have of the process you yourself used to transport us to Nia and the Anti-Spirals during our final battle with them, but requires much less Spiral Energy."
"Well, looking at these scorch marks, I'm guessing they didn't just teleport into an asteroid field."
"You are correct, Simon. They did indeed beam into the middle of a firefight."
"On the Periphery? Who could have attacked them out there? I've heard it's about as much of a backwater as this place," Simon replied, waving his hand around him.
"We wanted to see for ourselves whether or not what we have heard from the other Races was true. And today, we received our answer."
Dayakka held up a small imager and queued it up. An image appeared showing what appeared to be a battle between two opposing star fleets recorded by the external cameras on Gimmy and Darry's mechs. Shortly into the video, Simon heard the alarm in their voices-they had been discovered and began taking fire. A number of hostiles teleported directly in front of Gimmy and Darry's mechs. After a minute or so of brilliant maneuvering, Simon could see the enemy forces ganging up on them. He could see the punishing fire and melee bludgeoning the enemy mechs were dishing out before the images abruptly cut to blue screen.
He shut off the imager and put it back into his pocket. "You will recall the day Team Dai Gurren had defeated the Anti-Spirals, we had been contacted by a number of other Spiral Races. Though our abilities to teleport our own fleets are rudimentary, we have had some successful diplomatic missions to some of the nearer systems." Dayakka hung his head. "However, some of the Races living on the Periphery are now starting to wage war on one another. Several have already been subjugated. We are concerned for our well-being and that of our allies.
"But those races have been kin for centuries!"
"That may be so, Simon, but it appears the hawks among them crave more Spiral Power, just as the Anti-Spirals predicted. The conflict may be in a backwater part of the galaxy, sure. But you've just witnessed their intentions. And this footage confirms that everything we can do, so can they. We fear they may bring the fight to us in time, and what would likely result."
Simon nodded. The Spiral Nemesis they had all sacrificed so much to avert would be all but inevitable. The cataclysmic event believed to hail the end of the Universe had come to be known in a darkly jovial manner as the corollary of the theory used to describe its beginning. The Big Crunch.
Dayakka turned and walked away from the ruined mech toward a small hovercraft parked near where a mobile command post had been established. "The intense fighting Gimmy and Darry found themselves in severely depleted their energy stores. We didn't think they had enough juice to make it home; especially given many of the power conduits to their prototype teleportation equipment were destroyed. We despaired they would ever make it back. But by some miracle they must have managed to focus the very last of their own Spiral Power and navigate their way here. It must have taken an enormous toll on them, as their vital signs were dangerously low when we extracted them."
Simon shook his head as if to clear it as Dayakka's words sank in. "What's with you, Simon?"
"Er, nothing, Dayakka. Just recalling something from before, that's all." Could those have been the very moments he felt his own Spiral Power being siphoned away?
"It was something of a happy accident that I could retrieve all of you with one operation," Dayakka chuckled as he climbed into the hovercraft and motioned Simon to do the same. Boota settled down in his usual spot once Simon had stowed his gear.
"Indeed, my friend. Tell me, how is everyone? You and Kiyoh have a son now too, right?"
"Yes indeed," Dayakka replied, poking a button on the craft's console to pop up a small image of the boy with the rest of their family. "Dano had a high fever though when I left, so I should call home to see how he's doing. Anne seems to like doting on her kid brother, which helps Kiyoh and I out a lot. She's such a good girl, you know."
The glow of the morning sun had just begun to light up the eastern sky as the two men sped across the landscape toward Kamina City. They had a fine time catching up and laughing about bygone days as they went.