Gundam Wing Fan Fiction / Outlaw Star Fan Fiction / Sailor Moon Fan Fiction / Fan Fiction / Zoids Fan Fiction ❯ All Death's Children ❯ Chapter 4

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

If nothing else, Vega's room was luxurious. There was a bed two sizes too big, a Jacuzzi, a color TV bigger than him, and a laptop. Absently, he wondered if everyone got this kind of treatment.

The `queen' had seemed anxious to have him join, but she hadn't forced that on him. Though perhaps this was the way she had chosen to lure him in. Maybe she really was rich.

And now that he thought about her, Vega was having trouble forgetting her pale, flawless (save for the fact that it was a ghostly white) skin; wild, bushy black hair; and the way her dark lips formed a half-smile that made his heart stop. He had a feeling he couldn't say no if he wanted to. Besides, it would be worth it just to find out how his skills in battle compared to Duo's. Maybe they'd even get a chance to go at it.

He wondered whom Hotaru would cheer for then.

Carefully, Vega removed a small locket from his breast pocket and opened it. A soft, serene tune filled the air as he stared at the woman's picture, gently tracing her face with his fingers. It was the only item, other than Berserk Fury, that he'd brought with him.

* * * * *

Sarah did not regret leaving the Backdraft. She felt it was something Vega would've done, eventually. The Count had been a bit upset to see her go, but once she swore not to ever use her talents to construct another Zoid, he calmed down considerably.

He was not, of course, concerned about Vega. The boy was dead, after all. The Count's only concern was whether or not someone else would rise up against the Backdraft. It seemed that he'd forgotten about the Blitz Team, but Sarah was sure they'd give him a reminder soon enough.

And it only confirmed a suspicion Sarah had concealed for a long time now. The Backdraft didn't care about pilots, only the Zoids they piloted. Anything beyond that was expendable.

Like Vega.

The thought brought tears to her eyes, even now. She'd raised and trained him as if he were her own, only to hand him over to an organization that cared about his piloting skills and nothing else. They'd only taken her, as well, because she'd had potential and Vega wouldn't fight without her nearby. Despite how childish he acted at times, Sarah knew that Vega cared for her. He treated her just like any son would his mother: with respect, love, and occasional annoyance.

And he was her son, in every way that mattered now. Only she'd never told him that.

She regretted not holding him more (no matter how he complained), not telling him how much he really meant to her. It was eating her up inside, slowly but gradually.

But Sarah didn't do anything to fix it. There was nothing that could be done. She wanted-no, needed-Vega…but he was gone now.

Wasn't he?

* * * * *


Her eyes snapped open, and her left hand began wrapping around the gun she kept under the pillow. Vega had made plenty of enemies, none of which were sad to see him go.

"Put that away. You won't need it."

She felt the blood run cold in her veins. That voice.


He was standing beside the bed, staring at her with a strange look in his eyes. The only emotions she could make out were sadness and a strong sense of longing.

"Are you afraid of me?" he asked.

"No," Sarah said at last. "Just surprised to see you. Since you're…"

He nodded. "I needed to see you, too."

She found herself holding back tears. "Why?"

"What do you mean, why?" Vega sat down beside her on the bed. "Sarah, I know I never told you this, but-"

"You appreciate me taking care of you."

"Well, yes, but not what I was going to say." He smiled. "I was going to say that I miss you. That I love you. That I don't want you to be unhappy because I'm dead."

Sarah couldn't feel the tears slipping down her cheeks, but once her vision became blurry, she figured it out. Blindly, she tried to reach for him, forgetting that he was dead and little more than a ghost.

Yet, her fingers collided with the black, very solid uniform he'd been wearing when he died. It was the same he'd been buried in, as well. Her eyes forced themselves open, and she wiped her tears away.

"I stole this," he admitted, holding up the locket and showing her the picture inside. "Hope you don't mind."

"I couldn't really do anything, even if I did," she pointed out.

Vega shrugged and slipped it back in his pocket. "Sarah, please don't ever doubt that I adore you. Even death can't stop that." He reached up and gently traced her cheek with his gloved fingers. "I have to go. Don't forget me, okay?"

Sarah threw her arms around his neck, hugging him tightly.

Vega smiled and wrapped his arms around her, inhaling the scent of her hair. "I'll miss you, too, Mom," he whispered in her ear.

He was gone again.

* * * * *

"So you're back."

Vega opened his eyes to see a boy with strange, spiky hair sitting across from him. He was one of the other people present when the queen had appeared.

"Usually only Seekers can visit the living. You must really love her."

"Who are you?"

"Sorry, I'm Yugi. I'm here to give you a reading."

"Reading?" Vega repeated.

"Like palm reading, but more accurate. Don't worry, it's free." Yugi held up the golden pyramid hanging from his neck and closed his eyes.

For a wild moment, Vega thought the tiny eye on the front of the pyramid had opened and was looking right through him. He'd imagined it of course, because when he looked again, it was closed again.

"Interesting," Yugi said. "You will find happiness, friendship, and love with an unexpected comrade."


Yugi shrugged. "Enemies can make great allies, if you know what to do with them."

* * * * *

The "throne room" was empty when Vega found his way back to it the next morning. He sat down on the couch to wait, and then noticed that the two fish seemed to be looking directly at him. He tapped his finger against the bowl, frowning a bit when they didn't move at all.

"They don't trust strangers," said a voice in his ear.

Vega nearly jumped off the couch when he realized the queen was right behind him, peering over his shoulder at the fishbowl. He could feel his heart thudding wildly in his chest. After he caught his breath, he realized his heart wasn't a bit calmer, and knew that it was because the queen's pale, soft (at least, he imagined it would be) cheek was very close to his.

The queen reached past him to press a delicate finger to the bowl. Instantly, both fish zipped over to the pale digit, following it closely as she moved it around.

"What's your answer, Vega?" she asked.

Vega blinked, staring at the glossy black fingernail at the end of her finger. "Yes." He could sense her smiling.

"Wonderful. Welcome to the family." She took his finger and pressed it against the bowl. "Look."

Vega watched the fish follow his finger now, but soon his eyes were drawn back to her finger. "You asked me if I knew who you were. Have we met before?"

"Indirectly," she said airily. "You've seen me in your dreams. You heard my voice in your final battle."

"Do you have a name?"

She grinned. "Sure. Why, do you need one? I've got plenty."

Vega couldn't stop himself from smiling. "I was hoping to hear one, actually."

"As I said, I've got plenty. But the one I hear most often would be Death."

"Are you sure?" Vega asked at once.

"I think I know my own name, yeah. Why?"

"Well…you're beautiful," he said at last.

"And…you have a problem with that?" she asked, smiling.

"No, of course not! It's just…well…"

"I could be ugly, if you want."

"No, no! It's…um…complicated."

"You expected me to be all big and scary, didn't you?"

Vega blushed. "Uh…sort of."

"Then wake me up at five in the morning. This is how I look the rest of the time."

"Right. So…um…what do I do first?"

"Straight to the point, huh? I like that." She stood up. "First, you'll need your own cabbit."

"My own what?" Vega asked.

She grinned. "Oh, good, you've never seen one before. This'll be fun." The queen tapped the TV once, clapping her hands in glee as the screen brightened. "Great, it's working today!"

Vega gave her an odd look.

"It was on the fritz for a while," she explained with a backward glance at him.

Vega continued to stare at her (partially because she was nice to look at) and kept his mouth shut.

A boy with unkempt brown hair and Prussian blue eyes appeared on the screen, looking as if he'd just woken up.

"Heero! Did I wake you?" the queen asked, sounding apologetic.

The boy's reply was a grunt that Vega suspected was a rather unflattering suggestion.

"Well, good morning to you, too, Mr. Grumpy! Listen, Vega needs a cabbit, and don't give me that look, mister."

Despite the queen's command, Heero continued to glare daggers at the screen. Vega suddenly had a vision of Heero savagely kicking the TV until it broke.

"Anyway, Firefly tells me you've been ignoring Damsel again."

At this, Vega was certain he heard Heero swear. The queen either didn't or chose to ignore it.

"You will get up and make yourself at least halfway presentable. You will take Vega to Cabbit Corner. You will feed Damsel breakfast and pet her at least twenty times. Is that clear, Heero?"

For a moment, Vega thought Heero would whip out an unseen gun and blast away. He seemed like the violent, unpredictable type. But Heero only sighed and vanished from the screen.

"Don't worry about him," the queen said, turning to face Vega. "Heero's always moody this early. He works better at night."

"I don't want to be a bother," Vega muttered, remembering Hotaru's initial description of Duo.

"Oh, sweetheart, don't worry about that!" The queen leaned down and kissed his nose. "I know it must seem a little strange here, but you'll get used to it. And if anyone's mean to you, you just let me know."

Vega suppressed the urge to blush. "Right…um…what should I call you?"

She shrugged. "The default would be Lady or something like that. Whatever both of us are comfortable with. And if you pick a name I don't like, you'll know."

* * * * *

Heero seemed to be in a slightly better mood when he finally showed up. According to him, cabbits (and Vega had been dying to know) were "hyperactive, high maintenance bunny things" that were ultimately a waste of time. He also said they were assigned to every Pilot, but Vega couldn't figure out why that was, and Heero didn't look as if he wanted to go into detail.

Cabbit Corner turned out to look like a large pet store. Large, glass cases formed the walls, which rose all the way to the high ceiling. There were anywhere from two to five cabbits in each case, and a couple of them seemed to have gotten out, because one jumped over Vega's head every few seconds.

"Just a minute!" a familiar voice called.

Vega was trying to figure out where he'd heard it last when Hotaru's head rose from behind a huge basket of carrots. There was a brown cabbit snoozing atop her dark-haired head, and an off-white one perched on her left shoulder. The amazing thing was that Hotaru didn't seem to know they were there as she slowly walked over, dragging the heavy basket behind her.

Hotaru finally looked up, and her face brightened considerably when she saw them. "Oh, Vega! You're staying? That's great!" She rushed over to give him a big hug.

Vega would've been more comfortable if the cabbit on her head hadn't opened one eye, yowled sleepily, and then dozed off again. As it was, the one on her shoulder decided he was fairly interesting, and hopped onto his shoulder just before Hotaru moved away.

"Heero, Damsel's been asking for you all week," Hotaru said, giving him an irritated look.

Heero stared pointedly at a spot just beyond her head.

Hotaru made an impatient nose and opened a case on her right. Instantly, something brown sprang into Heero's hair, yowling happily and somewhat possessively.

Heero looked as if a rat was crawling on him.

"Don't look at me like that; she's yours, so take care of her." Hotaru turned to Vega and smiled. "You'll be needing one, of course. Any preferences?"

"Are there any that aren't so…happy?" Vega asked hesitantly. The off-white cabbit was licking his cheek.

"You want a sad cabbit?" Hotaru asked, frowning a bit. "I like to think I keep them all happy…"

"Well, no. Just one that…I don't know…no one else would choose."

Hotaru thought for a moment. "There is one…but no one's been able to handle him…or her. It's impossible to tell with this one, really."

"Is that why no one wants it?"

Hotaru shook her head as she led him deeper into Cabbit Corner. "It's not that no one wants it, it just doesn't want anyone. It's got very unique coloring for a cabbit, too. Some people say it's rabid, but I think it just has anger management problems."

Vega paused. "Did it bite you?"

Hotaru glanced back him. "No, not me…" she murmured, trailing off rather suspiciously. She stopped beside a case with only one cabbit in it. Where the other cabbits had been various shades of off-white or brown, this one had a glossy black coat. The jewel set into its forehead was a bright indigo, and its yellow eyes seemed to glare directly at Vega.

"Well, this is it," Hotaru said. "Sometimes I can pick it up, and sometimes it'll bounce around so I can't get to it." She carefully opened the case and tentatively held out her palm.

The cabbit seemed to inspect Hotaru's palm for a long moment before turning its back on her.

"Let me try," Vega said gently, reaching up.

"Be careful," Hotaru warned, looking nervous.

Vega's hand was inches from the cabbit when it suddenly spun around, hissing angrily.

Vega paused, nodded to himself, and then picked up the cabbit by the scruff of its neck.

The cabbit continued to hiss, but it made no move to free itself.

Vega carefully brought the cabbit down to his eye level, staring into its eyes. He saw a crimson collar around its neck with gold writing. "Does that say Oscar?" he asked, squinting.

Hotaru giggled. "No, silly. Oscuro. You know, Spanish for dark? The queen named it."

Vega set the cabbit down on his shoulder.

Oscuro finally stopped hissing, but it didn't look any happier.

"Oh, I think it likes you," Hotaru said, sounding a bit jealous.

"How can you tell?" Vega asked.

"Well, you've still got all your fingers, haven't you?"

Vega looked at Oscuro, who was giving him a disinterested glare. "Yeah. For now."

Without warning, something took shape directly in front of Vega, startling most of the nearby cabbits…except Oscuro, anyway.

Hotaru gasped, clutching at her throat. "Ryoko! I asked you not to do that in here!"

Ryoko gave her an amused grin. "Sorry, but I'm in a hurry." She turned to Vega. "Let's go, new kid. You've got your first training assignment."

"Training? Nobody said anything about training," Vega replied.

"That's because you didn't say yes until today. We don't tell quitters anything." She paused, and her grin widened a bit. "Nice cabbit."

"Uh…thanks. What's training again?"

Ryoko grabbed his hand, her grin suddenly fading. "You'll see."