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Xenogears Episode VI
By CitanUzuki678

Presented by: Xenogears: God and Mind

When Fei Fong Wong and his friends prevented Deus from destroying the human race, the energy backlash from the -Wave Existence- returning to his dimension threatened to destroy the entire planet.
     Elly, the woman Fei loved, a former Gebler officer, and the reincarnation of the -Mother-, willed Deus far enough away that the explosion wouldn't destroy the planet.
     Fei saved her from the grasp of Deus and Krelian in his Gear, Xenogears, before Deus exploded.
     They returned to their planet and the open, welcoming arms of their comrades and friends.
     The destruction of Deus and the -Zohar Modifier- rendered every Gear on the planet useless except Fei's, as well as taking away the Ether powers of everyone but Fei and Elly.
     Following the destruction of Deus, there was a time of chaos. Survivors of the destruction of Entrenank, the Solarian capital city, and other Solarians had nowhere to turn. The Kaiser of Kislev died three months after the incident.
     Aveh was still adjusting to being a republic. Shevat had been grounded after 500 years of floating above the earth.
     It took five years to settle things down, but Fei and friends helped. Without the threat of Gears, the Solaris Empire, and the endless cycle of reincarnations in Fei and Elly, not to mention the -Miang- factor in women being stopped, it seemed the world would finally settle down for the first time in more than 500 years. They were wrong…

* * * * * * * * *

     "Whew. I knew we should've waited until fall to start this," complained Dan.
     "Come on. The old Dan never would've whined about a little work," Fei replied with a grin, wiping sweat from his forehead. He looked at his young friend. Dan had grown up a lot in the last five years. His bright red hair was spiked, which reminded Fei of Dan's near-brother-in-law, Timothy. He was nearly 15 years old and it showed. He'd begun some martial arts lessons with Fei, and he was building up nicely.
     "It's not the work, it's the damn sun," Dan explained, returning the grin. He set down the plank of wood he'd carried up the ladder to the roof of the house-in-progress.
     "We'll stop soon. Yui will be done with lunch any minute now," Fei said with obvious pleasure in his voice. He was also hot since being on a roof offered them no shade. His ponytail was sticking to his back, and his baggy dark green pants were clinging to his legs.
     "Her cooking was the one thing that kept us Lahanians from going crazy in Shevat five years ago. We weren't used to being stuck indoors all day, everyday," Dan reminisced.
     He positioned the plank next to the half-completed roof and began nailing.
     "Yeah, it was awful nice of Queen Zephyr to let you guys stay there.
     I spoke to some people there during that whole crisis, and they were running really low on supplies.
     Well, they don't have to hide anymore," Fei said with satisfaction. The floating city of Shevat had been cloaked in mystery for centuries after the first war with Solaris. They betrayed the nation of Nisan in that war, and secluded themselves from the rest of the world in shame. Supplies were limited when they sheltered the survivors of the Lahan disaster since their only source of agriculture was a single greenhouse and trips to the surface were limited due to Solaris’ increased activity.
     "Fei! Dan!
     Everybody!
     Lunch is ready!"
     Yui called from the tent they'd set up to cook and feed all the villagers who were rebuilding Lahan.
     The villagers had wanted to start anew long before, but the ensuing chaos from the change of so many established institutions of power, such as Aveh’s becoming a republic and the loss of the omnipresent, omnipotent Solaris Empire, had occupied the world for some time.
     Dan and Fei climbed down the house and the rest of the village made their way to the food tent. "Where's Elly and Doc?" asked Fei as he went through the line of people picking up various foods from the table.
     "They're in the Blackmoon Forest getting some more lumber.
     You guys are building more houses than we can find wood for!" Yui said enthusiastically.
     "I have a lot to make up for," Fei replied solemnly, remembering the massacre that took place in this exact area five years ago.
     A massacre that he caused, inadvertently or not.
     "How many times do we have to tell you it wasn't your fault?
     If I can forgive you, you should be able to forgive yourself," comforted Dan, patting Fei on the shoulder.
     Dan's sister, Alice, and her fiancé, Timothy, who were also Fei's best friends at the time, were both killed in the accident. For a long time, Dan couldn't forgive Fei, and truly hated him.
     "It's not just Lahan. I did a lot of horrible things as Id before I came here.
     I destroyed the civilization of an entire continent!" Fei exclaimed in shame and exasperation, remembering the Elru incident.
     Id was an alternate personality of Fei's, a sadistic madman that dwelled within Fei's sub-conscious hell-bent on destroying the world.
     When he had been a child, his mother became Miang and believed Fei was the -Contact-. She put him through many harsh, cruel experiments to confirm it. One day, an evil man named Grahf, who was the evil will of Fei's past incarnation, Lacan, had tried to take Fei away from his home.
     His father, Kahn, had tried to protect Fei and his mother, but lost to Grahf, even though both were well accomplished in martial arts. Fei lost control, as he had done many times in the past, and unleashed an Ether attack that took out Grahf, and destroyed his home. A stray beam from the attack turned toward Fei and would've killed him had his mother not thrown herself in the path of the beam.
     His mother died protecting him from himself.
     The loss of his mother and all the experiments she had put him through as Miang caused Fei to create an alternate personality that had all of his painful memories and would receive all the future painful memories.
     Then, Grahf eventually kidnapped Fei, and caused Id to be released. Grahf used Id for many assassinations for many years, including the destruction of the Elru continent. Kahn had been looking for Fei in the meantime. When Kahn found Grahf and Id, a battle followed which ended with Fei being badly hurt, along with having amnesia, and Grahf taking over Kahn's body. Kahn was too strong for Grahf however, and would occasionally repossess his body as Wiseman, which is how Fei was brought to Lahan in the first place.
     "No matter what, it wasn't your fault. Even the survivors of Lahan have forgiven you," Yui said gesturing to all the villagers milling around the table of food, and giving a comforting smile.
     Yui was Doctor Citan Uzuki's wife, and an amazing cook.
     She was a Shevatite, and had long golden-white hair. She was very beautiful, and had even stolen the heart of a Solarian, Citan.  Yui had injured Citan on a Solarian raid many years before. As she nursed him back to health, they fell in love. Since Citan had had his doubts about Solaris' methods before, he married Yui. Citan eventually returned to Solaris, while Yui and Midori remained in Shevat, and was given the rank of Guardian Angel by Emperor Cain himself, and ordered Citan to keep an eye on Fei to see if he was a danger to humanity. This is when Citan, along with Yui and Midori, moved to Lahan.
     "To change the subject, do Citan and Elly need any help gathering lumber?"
     Dan asked, trying to take Fei's mind off the awful things he had done as Id.
     "No.
     With the peace in the world now, gathering wood gives my husband a good chance to practice his sword skills.
     That sword he picked up with you, Fei, on Duneman's Isle can slice right through most trees.
     And Elly likes brushing up on her Ether powers. She can burn a dozen trees down in no time," Yui assured her friends. As if to back up her explanation, they heard a faint explosion of fire, from the forest, which was three miles away, followed by the sound of many trees falling.
      "Sounds like you're right. Let's get some grub!" Dan suggested Fei, clapping him on the shoulder.
     They walked to the table with food, and gathered as much as they could onto their plates.
     They then walked to a grassy area in the village square and sat down on a blanket that Midori, Citan and Yui's daughter, had laid out. She had also gathered a lot of food before it was all gone. Food never lasted long when Yui made it.
     "How's it going, Midori?" asked Dan with a smile. Midori was a little younger than Dan, and had also grown up in five years, as Fei noticed Dan noticing. She had inherited Yui's beautiful hair and had let it grow out since the adventure.
     "It's hot," Midori replied curtly. She had never been much of a talker, and still wasn't.
     In fact, the only people she had ever really talked to in complete sentences, were Fei and Dan.
     This encouraged Dan to pursue her, whether she spoke to him now or not.
     "I told you we should've waited a few months," Dan prodded again, with a grin.
     "We wouldn't have gotten far before winter came.
     We have plenty of time to finish most of the houses," Fei said confidently.
     "That's pretty optimistic," Citan said, hauling a dozen logs that had been cut into smaller pieces. He let go of the rope he used to pull the wood, and pushed his glasses up, which had slipped down his nose. Citan was also sweating from the three-mile trek across the fields between Lahan and the Blackmoon Forest, which provided no cover from the sun.
     His ponytail was matted to his neck, but his light green shirt, and baggy white pants probably kept him a little cooler. He had little trouble pulling the logs, though, as he was also a martial artist.
     "Well, I wouldn't expect you to understand that," Fei replied to the pessimistic doctor.
     "I'm being realistic. We still have to build the bar and chief's house which are the largest ones of all," Citan pointed out. Elly walked up behind him also hauling some more logs. She looked radiant and beautiful even in the heat, her bright red hair glowing in the noon day sun.
     Fei stood up and helped her place the pile with Citan's, then gave her a kiss on the lips. "Good to see you, beautiful," Fei greeted with a smile, "You hungry?"
     "Starved.
     We've been working out there since six this morning. We still have a few piles to bring in. But it is a lot cooler in the forest," Elly replied. She sat down next to Fei and they began to eat.
     "In that case, Fei and I will give you a hand with the wood.
     It's even hotter crouching on the roofs nailing in planks. We need a break," Dan complained, between bites of the delicious food.
     "That sounds logical. We'll get the lumber here quicker and then Elly and myself can help you with the roof," Citan agreed on his way to the food tent and his wife.
     He kissed Yui, and got a plate of food. The crowd had dispersed from the tent, so Yui got herself some food as well, and she and her husband made their way to eat with their daughter and friends.
     "All in all, we've made a lot of progress since the beginning of summer.
     When Lahan is finished I can finally say my debt is paid," Fei said with satisfaction, hugging Elly close to him.
     "Yes, Lahan will be even better. What do you plan on doing when it is complete?" asked Citan curiously.
     He stared at Fei the way he had in the past when he was surveying Fei for Emperor Cain, to determine if he was a threat to Cain's plans of finally releasing the -Lambs- from Solaris' control.
     Citan had been a scout for Emperor Cain, who was the ruler of the Solaris Empire and had been alive since humans had first crash-landed on the planet 10,000 years before.
     Cain planned on relinquishing Solaris' control on the land dwellers, or -Lambs- as Solarians called them.
     He needed to know if Fei's alternate personality, Id, would be a threat to his plan and the humans he still was in charge of.
     "Deus and Merkava are destroyed, the Gears no longer function except Xenogears, and Solaris no longer exists. I think we'll settle here for the peaceful life. It's what I've always wanted, and both Elly and I are done with any fighting," Fei said looking lovingly at Elly.
     "Are you thinking about being the new chief?" Dan asked with curiosity. The old chief, Lee, had been killed in the accident.
     Before, though, he'd been Fei's guardian. A masked man, who turned out be Fei's real father, had dropped him off at the chief's house three years before the disaster. Chief Lee looked after and loved Fei like he was his own son.
     "Absolutely not," Fei said angrily. "After what I did, I'd never be so presumptuous as to be this village's chief, especially since I killed the last one."
     His friends started to object, but he raised a hand and continued, "I don't want the position and I don't deserve it. There are many other people here better qualified, and who have lived here longer than me."
     "But you care about this town more than anyone!" protested Dan.
     He couldn't understand why his friend refused to forget about the past and go on with his life.
     Perhaps, he wasn't so happy with the peaceful life after all? If he became the chief, he'd have to stay in Lahan.
     "I care about helping the people I hurt to ease my conscience.
     I don't care about the village itself," Fei lied. And his friends knew he was lying, but they dropped it. They'd have plenty of time to convince him otherwise.
     "Well, if everyone is done with their meal, we should head for the Blackmoon Forest and get the rest of the lumber," suggested Citan.
     He stood up and gave Yui a hug, and started for the edge of town. Fei and Elly also stood up and followed him.
     "Just a sec," Dan said hurriedly. He stuffed a few more bites of bread in his mouth and quickly gulped some water. He stood up quickly and ran after his friends. As he ran, he heard Midori giggle. He frowned, regretting eating like a slob in front of her.
     This isn't the way to impress a girl, he thought.
     Dan caught up with everyone else as they left Lahan's outskirts.
     The sun was high in the air and there wasn't much cover between Lahan and the forest.
     Once again, Dan wished they'd waited until fall to rebuild Lahan. It was his home, and he knew Fei, Elly, and Citan were going out of their way to help, but even they must not like the heat.
     They finally reached the forest after an hour of walking.
     Dan breathed a sigh of relief as they entered the cool shade of the tress. Fei smiled at his friend, and felt how lucky he was that Dan forgave him, so he could call him "friend." He'd felt guilty about the whole incident, but what really made him grieve was that he'd caused so much pain to the one person who really looked up to him.
     They reached the area that Citan and Elly had been trailblazing, literally, and found the piles of lumber they'd left behind. They tied a rope to a bunch, and began pulling.
     They'd almost reached the edge of the forest when a shot rang out and snapped the rope Dan had been pulling.
     Dan fell down from the release of weight, and landed behind some bushes. Fei, Elly, and Citan dropped to the ground behind other bushes.
     "Stay down!" Fei ordered Dan.
     He saw Dan lay as low as possible and cover his head. Another shot flew right over his head.
     "Damn!" cursed Dan, startled at how close the shot had been.
     "Where's it coming from?" Elly asked, looking around fearfully.
     "Right in front of Fei it seems," answered Citan, calculating the direction judging from the shots fired at Dan.
     "I got it," Fei said confidently. He crouched behind his bush, and fired a ball of Chi energy at the source of the gunfire. He heard an electrical sizzle, and saw a man like creature stagger out of the brush.
     The man lifted his head up and Fei saw that half his face was made of metal. He had metal teeth, no hair, and an eyepiece on the metal side that emitted a red laser. He had a hole in his metal side, which was sparking and exposed wires from where the Chi shot had hit.
     "Be careful, Fei! That laser targets his shots! It's extremely accurate!" warned Citan. Citan crouched down, thinking what to do. Elly's Ether attacks took a couple seconds to conjure and the cyborg would be firing again before she could pull one off.
     He'd heard of experimental models of cyborgs being used in Solaris' army, but none were successful.
     Before Citan could think of any idea, Fei had one of his own.
     Fei rushed at the cyborg, and landed several punches into its abdomen, showering more sparks as he hit the metallic side, then did a backflip kick that sent it straight up in the air. Fei followed the cyborg up closely and punched it back into the ground.
     There was a small explosion as the half man-half machine blew up. When Fei landed, the flesh side had disintegrated and there was only a pile of burnt metal. He stood over it as smoke rose up from the scrap metal.
     "What the hell was that?!" asked Dan as he stood up brushing the dirt and leaves off his baggy red shorts. Elly also rose and walked over to Fei.
     "Are you alright?" she asked Fei, wandering how his hands weren't hurt from punching into the metal monster.
     "Fine.
     Luckily, I remembered my old Tenbu technique," Fei said with a grin. "I figured after the Chi shot a good slam into the ground would knock it out."
     Citan walked to him and clapped him on the shoulder.
     "Good thinking, though it was a bit rash. In answer to your question, Dan, that was a cyborg. Solaris had been experimenting with them before as a smaller version of the human-Gear hybrid idea. After the success of combining Achtzehn with Nikolai Balthasar's mind, they weren't far from perfecting it. But as you know, they never got around to it."
     "Nikolai Balthasar?" asked Dan, with a look of confusion.
     "Oh yes, you never met him. He was Maria Balthasar's father. You met her when the refugees were staying in Shevat," Citan replied.
     "Oh yeah. But if Solaris never figured out a working model, where the hell did that guy come from?"
     Dan asked, even more confused.
     "Maybe it finally escaped from a Solaris lab?" Elly suggested.
     "Doubtful.
     They have to be programmed what to do, and even if it somehow gained a will of its own, they need electrical power as much as we need food. But as you see from the scrap, the plug for the power is on its back, which is inaccessible to the cyborg itself. Someone else would have to plug it in. After these five years it would've run out of power long ago, and never been able to get more," Citan explained. He was getting the look in his eye that Fei knew meant he was extremely interested in what he was talking about, and not very aware of who he was talking with.
     "Then where do you think it came from, Doc?" Fei asked, snapping Citan back into reality.
     "I don't know. No one in the world has the technology to create such a being anymore, and most don't have much need of one if they did find it in an old lab," Citan mused, rubbing his chin.
     "That doesn't mean someone wouldn't use it. Just because Solaris is gone, doesn't mean no one would use a cyborg, as you call it, to take control of Aveh or Kislev.
     There are still plenty of rebel factions and bandits left in the world that might try to use one just for petty robbery," Dan countered, getting a little satisfaction in disproving Citan's theory.
     "Anything's possible. In any case, we should get back to Lahan with this wood. There's no point in standing in the forest wondering about this.
     It's a long walk, and will be even longer pulling the lumber. Let's get moving," Citan suggested.
     "I guess you're right," Elly said, grabbing the rope tied to her bundle.
     Dan took the piece of rope that had been shot off, and retied it.
     He then followed after Elly, with Fei and Citan bringing up the rear. The reached the edge of the forest, and even after all that had happened, Fei heard Dan give a groan at stepping back into the blazing sun.
     He smiled to himself.
     "Out of curiosity, Fei, where is Xenogears? It's not anywhere near Lahan, or I would've seen it in Doc's telescope. Did you abandon it?" asked Dan, trying to make conversation to take his mind off the heat.
     "No-," Fei started, but a rumble and a shaking broke him off.
     A shadow slowly crept passed them, and stretched all the way to Lahan. The birds in the forest took off, scared by the loud noise.
     Fei looked up and saw a familiar shape.
     "Funny you should ask!" Fei answered Dan with a huge smile on his face. The shadow grew smaller as the mysterious object descended until it was completely on the ground. A hundred yards in front of them sat the Yggdrasil. It was the only airship left in the world with Solaris gone, and Kislev's only ship, the Goliath, had been destroyed long ago.
     The captain of the Yggdrasil was Fei's best friend next to Citan, Bart Fatima. Fei dropped his load and ran toward the ship with Elly following, and Citan and Dan calmly walking after them.
     Fei reached the ship first and climbed up the built-in ladder on the side of the giant machine. He reached the deck and Elly was close behind. No one was on deck yet as a human could only pilot the ship in the bridge.
     Only a gear could control the ship from the outside, and Bart had none that worked anymore.
     Fei approached the hatch of the ship as Citan and Dan also reached the deck.
     The hatch popped open and out climbed Sigurd first.
     Sigurd was Bart's half-brother, and the first mate of the Yggdrasil. Sigurd had long silver hair and blue eyes, the mark of the Fatimas.
     He had also lived in Solaris at one time, and been friends with Citan. Both of them had actually been high-ranking military officers in the Solaris army before they learned to disapprove of their methods.
     Sigurd and Citan escaped from Solaris at about the same time.
     "Hello, Hyuga" greeted Sigurd, calling Citan by his Solarian name.
     He squinted in the bright sun, which must've seriously limited his vision as he was missing an eye.
     He and Bart had been in an accident on the Yggdrasil even before Fei had met them, and they both lost an eye, but on different sides.
     Citan walked to Sigurd. "It's good to see you old friend. What brings you and the young prince here?" Citan asked. Bart had been the prince of Aveh, the last full-blooded Fatima, but when he regained the throne from the Solaris pawn, Shakhan, he returned Aveh to a republic as per his father's dying wish.
     "Unfortunately, it's not a courtesy call. I'll let the young master explain," Sigurd replied, grimacing.
     As he said this Bart climbed out of the hatch. Bart's blond hair was in a loose ponytail and clashed with his tan skin.
     He had once been a desert pirate to fight against Shakhan, when the Yggdrasil was only a sand cruiser and not an airship. He still wore his pirate attire, even though he'd given up the business when he gave up the throne, of a red vest and white pants. His whip hung from his belt at his side.
     "Fei!
     It's been too long!"
     Bart exclaimed as he hugged Fei.
     "It's good to see Elly and Citan again, too," he said smiling at his other friends.
     "It's been, what, two or three years?" Fei asked, grinning. Though he wouldn't admit it to anyone, he had really missed Bart and traveling in the Yggdrasil.
     "At least. That's my fault.
     I should've visited more.
     You've been busy from what we saw of Lahan in the air. Hello, who's this litt-" but a shake of Fei's head stopped him,"-young fellow?"
     Bart asked, referring to Dan.
     "My name's Dan. I heard about you when we were in Shevat," Dan replied, shaking Bart's hand.
     "Oh yeah, Fei mentioned you a few times. You look pretty tough. Maybe you'll be of some help on this mission," Bart said, looking Dan over.
     "What exactly are you doing here?" asked Elly, wondering what kind of mission Bart could mean.
     "We have serious problems, and not much time to explain.
     We need to be back at the Three Wise Men's place ASAP. If you're going to help us, you need to come now," replied Sigurd with obvious urgency.
     "Balthasar, Melchior, and Gaspar? What business do you have with them?" asked Citan, his curiosity peaked.
     "Like Sigurd said, we don't have time for questions.
     If you're gonna come, let's go," Bart replied, being serious for a moment.
     "Go ahead Fei," Elly spoke up. "They need your help. I know you've been a little bored in Lahan. I'll stay and keep rebuilding. I'm not in the mood for anymore adventures."
     "But-" Fei started.
     "I've noticed it too," interrupted Dan. "You want to help us, but you don't really feel like staying in Lahan forever. It's understandable.
     I think you enjoyed the old adventures more than you'd like to admit to yourself. I'll stay too, to help, and in case anymore of those cyborgs show up. You've taught me enough martial arts I can be of use here."
     "Are you guys sure?" asked Fei, knowing they were right.
     "Yes, go on. You haven't seen Bart in so long. This is a good chance for you to catch up," Elly reassured Fei.
     "You've seen the cyborgs?" Sigurd asked with steel in his voice.
     "One anyway. We encountered it in the forest just before you landed. Are you saying there's more?" Citan asked, even more curious.
     "In that case, Elly and short stuff should definitely stay.
     Lahan's gonna need the protection," Bart said. Dan gritted his teeth at being called "short stuff," but was kind of grateful that this tough looking pirate thought he could protect Lahan.
     "Just come on. Hyuga, are you going to come?" Sigurd asked, knowing the answer even before he asked.
     "You've captured my interest. I'd like to know more about these cyborgs. I'll come too," Citan replied. "Dan, tell my wife and Midori, I've gone with Fei and the Yggdrasil.
     They'll understand."
     "Sure thing, Doc. I'll look after them. Come back soon, Fei," Dan told his friend. If more of those metal monsters were coming, he didn't want Fei and the only doctor in town gone for too long.
     "As soon as I can. Take good care of Elly and Lahan," Fei asked the boy. No, he's not a boy anymore, Fei thought.
     He still thought of him as little Dan sometimes. He walked to Elly.
     "You sure you don't want to come?" he asked, taking her hands into his.
     "Yes.
     I've had more adventures than you have including my years in Gebler. I'm ready to calm down. And the village may need me," Elly replied. "Lahan's my home too now. I have to protect it."
     "Ok.
     Be careful though," Fei said, then kissed Elly. Everyone else looked at the sky and the ship until they were done.
     "I will," Elly reassured Fei. "Now get going. You're in a hurry," she reminded him as Dan began climbing down the ladder.
     She looked at Fei one last time, then climbed down the ladder as well.
     "Well, let's get inside and get outta here!" Bart yelled, overjoyed to be on another adventure with his friend.
     Sigurd, then Citan climbed down the hatch.
     As Fei climbed down, Bart grabbed his shoulder.
     "It really is good to see you," he said, smiling.
     Fei smiled back. "You too," he replied.
     "Oh, Fei. What did you mean 'Funny you should ask?' when I asked about Xenogears and the Yggdrasil landed?" asked Dan, as he began climbing off the ship.
     " I had no use for it, and Bart loves Gears. All the Gears are worthless, including Bart's Andvari, so I let him keep it. He has more use for it than me," replied Fei, as he also continued down a ladder.
     "Oh," Dan said, disappearing below the edge of the Yggdrasil's deck.
     "Good luck Fei, Bart," Elly said, as she started off the ship.
     "You, too" Fei said, disappearing into the Yggdrasil.
     "I'll make sure he comes back to you," Bart promised Elly, climbing into his ship.
     "You better," Elly said, smiling and climbing down the deck's ladder.
     Bart smiled back and closed the hatch behind him.
     When he reached the hall outside the bridge, Fei was waiting.
     "Where's Citan and Sig?" Bart asked.
     "They went into the bridge already. Why are you smiling? You got something up your sleeve?" Fei asked, eyeing Bart suspiciously.
     "You'll see. Let's join them," Bart replied, stepping through the door leading to the bridge.
     Fei followed, and saw Bart's guardian, Old Maison, chatting with Citan and Sigurd.
     Maison was an old man of about fifty who'd served Bart and his family in Aveh's capital, Bledavik, before the Fatima's had been driven out by Solaris and Shakhan, and continued to serve them. He was a stiff man, and very proper. He'd tried to teach Bart some etiquette when he still thought Bart would reclaim the throne as king, but had given up when Bart turned Aveh to a republic.
     Bart's resistance to being as stiff as Maison probably discouraged him as well.
     "Ah, Master Fei! It's so good to see you again. I told Bart he should've visited you more, but he was too wrapped up in the Gears," Maison chided.
     "Maison!
     I wanted that to be a surprise," Bart whined at Maison. The old man always found a way to ruin something.
     "What do you mean? What about the Gears?" Fei asked, confused.
     What could Bart possibly be doing with the broke down Gears?
     "He, he," Bart laughed half-heartedly. "Follow me. You too Citan."
     Fei and Citan followed Bart out of the bridge with Sigurd trailing behind.
     They all got on the elevator next to hatch, and took it down to the main deck. They all got off at the bottom, and Bart led them down the hall and to the right, toward the gear hangar.
     "What have you been doing with useless Gears?" asked Fei, still not getting it.
     Bart smiled over his shoulder and said, "You'll see."
     They reached the door to the Gear hangar when the door to their left opened and out walked Margie, the Great Mother of Nisan. The Nisan Sect was the major religion of the world and Margie had become its leader when her mother and grandmother were both executed by Shakhan in his search for the Fatima Jasper. She was about 21 by now and had grown up a lot.
     "Margie!
     What are you doing here?" asked Fei. Margie had traveled with them on their adventures before, but only because she was in danger of being recaptured by Shakhan and Solaris. She should've been in Nisan, leading the people.
     "I told Bart he'd better take me on this trip.
     I wanted to see you and the others again. It's been so long," Margie replied.
     "Others?"
     Citan asked.  He never missed anything, even a slight word choice.
     "Yeah.
     We plan on picking up our other comrades to help in this new problem," Bart replied.
     "Is it that serious? We kicked some serious Solarian ass before. You think we need the others too?" Fei asked, bewildered that the problem was that big a deal.
     "If I remember right though, it was not easy. The only thing that truly and definitively ended the Solarian Empire was a rampage by your alter ego, Id," Citan reminded, accurate as ever.
     "But we still trashed them. It wasn't a close call," Bart replied triumphantly.
     "Anyway, young master, I'm sure Fei and Citan are wondering why we're going to the hangar," Sigurd reminded Bart.
     "Right.
     Onward!"
     Bart yelled.
     Fei could tell he was excited about something.
     They entered the door and walked into the massive room that had housed the nine Gears of their comrades. The Gear shop was straight ahead where they could upgrade parts for their Gear, like engines, armor, and frames. And in all the Gear docks were the Gears of their former comrades, just like the old days.
     "Wow!
     How'd you get all the old Gears?" asked Fei.
     "They never left the ship. After we dropped you, Citan, and Elly off at Lahan, I asked our old friends if I could keep them since they were useless anyway. They all gave them to me, and here they are, better than ever," Bart replied proudly.
     "Yes, but why would you upgrade broke down Gears?"
     Citan asked, recognizing his Omnigear, Fenrir.
     "Because they ain't broke down anymore," Bart said, practically puffing out his chest with pride.
     "What?
     But how do they work without the Zohar Modifier to power them?" Fei asked.
     "The same way your Xenogears does," Bart explained, sweeping his arm toward Fei's Gear, which was closest to them.
     "But it only works, because I made contact with -Zohar-," Fei argued.
     "That's why it still works, but not how. I took Xenogears to the Three Wise Men to study what made it different from the Gears in the rest of the world. We learned that when you made Contact, -Zohar- went beyond just having the Xenogears move by mental powers, like the other Omnigears, but also made it be powered by mental waves. Of course, we couldn't copy the system exactly, but we found a way to mimic the Mental Slave Generator, as we call it, so that now our Omnigears also run on mental powers. They still require fuel, because all our mental waves can do is put the Gear's system into action, the flint to start the fire so to speak. The rest is run like a normal machine.
     But we learned yours does not.
     It's not a perfect copy of your system, but it sure as hell is close enough," Bart explained.
     "Fascinating.
     I would love to see how exactly the power system works," Citan said, overjoyed at a new toy to study.
     "You'll have time enough. We're heading for the Wise Men's place right now, where they can answer all your questions and they can explain our situation," Bart promised.
     "They'll be able to answer your questions better than I. Come, let's go to the GunRoom and get some grub. We'll be arriving in about half an hour."
     "Fei and I will pass on food. We just ate. But I'd love to have a drink," Citan said, following Bart and Sigurd out of the hangar.
     Fei paused to look at Xenogears. "I guess we're gonna be working together again.
     It's been awhile, but I think we're up to it," Fei said, then followed his friends to the GunRoom.
     They all sat around the tables in the GunRoom, while Old Maison poured everyone some tea. Citan and Sigurd were discussing old times while Fei told Bart all that'd been going on.
     "We've made a lot of progress in Lahan as you saw.
     Once we finish it, my debt will be paid. Then Elly and I can settle down," Fei explained.
     "I couldn't do that. There's too much to do and see in this world to settle down.
     Speaking of settling, the Republic of Aveh's doing well. It took awhile for the people to adjust, but they've gotten the hang of it.
     The peace agreement between them and Kislev obviously passed. It helped that the old kaiser, Sigmund, died and Rico succeeded him.
     Aveh knew a hero that stopped Deus wouldn't try to cheat them," Bart explained.
     "Rico's kaiser now? I knew he was the heir from Hammer, but the people are letting a demi-human rule them?"
     Fei asked.
     "Some still aren't too happy with it, and Rico's had to fight for the respect of the position, but most of the Kislevites have gotten used to it.
     Rico's doing a good job, so they're starting to trust him. He's stopped the use of prisoners in the Battling Arena.
     Now, Battling is totally voluntary.
     I thought he'd shut it down, but I guess he has too many fond memories of his glory days to completely get rid of it. And the people enjoy watching, so I guess it doesn't cause any harm," Bart told Fei.
     Battling was a sport in the Kislev capital of Nortune, where people battle in Gears for money, prizes, glory, and prisoners fought for freedom. Fei once had to participate in Battling to get out of the Kislev prison block, and escape with Weltall, now Xenogears. Rico had been the Champ for five years in a row before Fei dethroned him, and then he escaped with Fei and Citan, who had been helping Fei during the whole tournament.
     "That's good. He deserves that position after how poorly that city's treated him. Maybe Rico will finally stop despising Nortune," Fei wondered.
     "I ran into Emeralda and Billy, too. Some survivors from Solaris, people who escaped or were out of the capital when Id destroyed it, have settled in the area where Entrenank crashed," Bart continued. Entrenank was the name of the floating Solarian capital city that Fei had destroyed as Id.
     "She joined him to help bring religion to them. Billy says she was really depressed for awhile about not being human, so he convinced her to help him spread the word of God. She's become a lot happier and is almost as much a fanatic as Billy."
     Billy was a former Etone, a group of religious mercenaries, for lack of a better word, that killed Reapers for the Ethos. The Ethos had been the major organization of religion in the world, but had only been a front to control the land dwellers for Solaris, before they'd been destroyed at about the same time. Reapers were the products of failed genetic experiments performed by Solaris, bloodthirsty mutants that only sought to die, because of the pain they were constantly in. Human blood helped ease the pain, which caused the Etones to believe they were lost souls, searching for God, and the only way to help them find God, was to kill them.
     Emeralda was a colony of nanomachines created by Fei's past incarnation, Kim, 4,000 years before. Krelian, the real leader of Solaris and a friend of another of Fei's incarnations, Lacan, kidnapped her. He used the data from her to create nanomachines for himself, which were used in his quest to return to God. He'd fused himself with crude nanomachines centuries before, and that's why he'd still been alive.
     When Sophia sacrificed herself to stop Solaris' original attempt to resurrect God, Krelian went berserk, because she'd helped him find inner peace and he secretly loved her.
     He stopped believing in God, and sought to create God with his bare hands. To do that he needed the data from Emeralda.
     "How about Maria and Chu-chu?" Fei asked.
     "They still live in Shevat. The Shevatites repaired the city, and settled where it crashed in the South Pole. It can still take off and fly, though. They may not have liked permanently being stuck in the air, but they do enjoy having the option," Bart explained.
     An officer walked into the GunRoom just then. "Sir, we've arrived," he announced.
     "Good," Bart said. "Land the ship on the outskirts of the forest and we'll go in on foot."
     The Three Wise Men were very intelligent men that had infused themselves with nanomachines, like Krelian, and had been alive since the Solaris-Shevat War 500 years ago. They all had different specialties.  Melchior specialized in nanomachines and other sciences. Balthasar specialized in Gears and general mechanics.
     Gaspar specialized in martial arts and general battle strategies and techniques. They had a small hut in a forest on a small, secluded island where they could study and conduct experiments in their respective fields.
     "Roger, sir!" replied the officer, and exited the GunRoom.
     "Shall we?" Bart asked, setting down his mug and standing up.
     "Let's do it!" Fei replied, following his friend to the exit.
     "It's good to see the young master so lively again.
     After having so many guests and friends around, it felt kind of lonely on this ship when everyone went their separate ways," Sigurd said, walking with Citan after the younger two.
     "Yes, Fei has been rather solemn, returning to the village he once destroyed.
     He won't admit it to anyone, perhaps because he'd be admitting that Id was a bigger part of his personality than he thought, but he misses the adventures and battles," Citan explained.
     The four took the elevator up and climbed the ladder next to the bridge that led to the outdoor deck. The group surveyed the forest, which surrounded the Wise Men's hut.
     "There it is," Bart said, pointing at a thin finger of smoke wafting out of the thick tree cover. "We have to go in on foot. It's not too far," Bart reassured.
     The four climbed off the outer deck, and entered the forest.
     The forest was much like the Blackmoon Forest, though not as dark. Bart led the way with Fei, Sigurd, and Citan following.
     They walked until they reached a small, tight pass through some rocks.
     "We're halfway there. Only another ten minutes or so," Bart said.
     All of a sudden they heard some loud whirring noises and four cyborgs jumped over the rocks, two in front and two in back. Fei got in a defensive position while Citan pulled out his katana, and Bart pulled his custom-made metal whip from his belt.
     Sigurd pulled a long, double-bladed spear from a long sheath on his back.
     "Damn.
     They've spread.
     We can't let them get to the Wise Men's place," Bart said. He whipped out at a cyborg as it cautiously approached. It snapped harmlessly in front of the cyborg.
     "Right.
     Without them we'll never find out where these things are coming from. And they're still making progress on the new Mental Slave Generators.
     They're vital to our mission," Sigurd said.
     "Then let's kick some ass!" Fei shouted. He rushed the cyborg closest to him and let off some good punches into the chestplate.  The cyborg inched back and shot at Fei. Fei dodged and jump kicked the cyborg in the head. Meanwhile, Bart whipped at his cyborg and the cyborg's gun arm fell off.
     "I'm glad I made this new metal whip just for these SOBs!"
     Bart yelled.
     Citan ran at his cyborg and slid on the ground to dodge a laser shot.
     He sliced the cyborg's legs off when he stopped and brought his sword straight up through it to its chest.
     The cyborg started to shake and Citan pulled his sword out and jumped back as it fell over and sizzled.
     Sigurd ducked a laser shot from his cyborg and rushed the cyborg, spinning his spear to cut off both arms.
     Then he swung the spear and decapitated the cyborg. Fei used the cyborg's shoulders to somersault over it and unleashed his Fukei deathblow.
     He leapt into the air and shot out balls of lightning from his hands. The cyborg got knocked back with each hit. When Fei finally unleashed the final and largest lightning ball, it shook, sizzled, and fell over. Bart used his Bracer deathblow, his whips slicing through the cyborg's metal body until most of its wires and parts were hanging from its massacred chestplate. The cyborg toppled over, convulsing.
     The four friends relaxed and returned their weapons to their belts.
     "That was easy enough.
     But we were lucky.  We've seen dozens on some of the remote islands in the Aquvy area," Bart said thankfully.
     "I see why we need to gather the rest of the group," Fei said.
     They continued their walk and arrived at the Sages' House without further incident. Gaspar was in front to greet them.
     "I'm guessing you ran into some more of the cyborgs.
     We could hear the fight from here.
     But I see you defeated them unscathed," Gaspar noticed smiling.
     "Hey old man. It was a piece of cake. We whooped 'em good!"
     Bart bragged, with a huge victory grin.
     "Don't get too cocky boy! Since you left, their activities have increased worldwide. They're not just landing on deserted isles anymore.
     We heard reports of some fighting in the mountains between Kislev and Aveh," Gaspar informed, frowning at the impudent ex-prince. He didn't like Bart's attitude. Gaspar was once a great martial arts instructor. Still was, though he didn't do much teaching anymore. His students were always respectful, and honorable.
     Bart was everything he'd told his pupils not to be. If Balthasar hadn't told him of Bart's great skill with Gears, and his accomplishments in stopping Deus, he would've kicked the little shit out long ago.
     "Yeah, yeah, yeah, old man," Bart muttered under his breath.
     Bart didn't like the grumpy old man any more than he liked Bart.
     "Gaspar, it's good to see you again," Citan greeted stepping forward.
     "Ah, Hyuga. I hope my daughter and granddaughter are safe, " Gaspar said, referring to Yui and Midori.
     " Anyway, I'm glad to see you're here to keep this young upstart in check. I don't think Sigurd here has been tough enough on him since he relinquished the throne," Gaspar hassled Sigurd. Sigurd had had many discussions with the Wise Men since they'd gone to them for help with restarting the Gears, and they all considered him an equal.
     Although Sigurd had white hair, he was actually quite young, early thirties like Citan, but his wisdom and philosophies had impressed even the Wise Men.
     "I couldn't dumb down his arrogance even when he was the prince," Sigurd replied, in turn hassling Bart. "Let's go inside and talk to Melchior and Balthasar, and clue Fei and Hyuga in on the situation," he suggested before Bart could get worked up.
     "Fine," Gaspar said, and turned into the large hut.
     Fei was amazed when he walked in.
     The Sages hadn't bothered separating their various specialties with walls, and the whole hut was filled with various objects. He saw test tubes, and nanomachine reactors, like the ones he and Elly had been healed in after crashing near the hut while escaping from Shevat.
     The Shevatites wanted to carbon freeze Fei after he destroyed Entrenank, but Citan and Elly helped him escape.
     These were for Melchior's research into nanomachines. Fei also, saw a greasy corner where two Gear generators the size of a large man were sitting, along with smaller pipes and hydraulic systems from Gears, which Balthasar was working on. Finally, Fei saw a corner with sparring mats and fighting dummies where Gaspar would practice and develop new techniques.
     "This place is stocked! Everything you could ever need for any subject is here!" Fei exclaimed in awe.
     "I'm not sure about that!" Balthasar replied modestly, looking around one of the Gear generators he'd been tampering with.
     "Anything useful to our current situation anyway. Gears, kickin' ass, and, well, I never understood how science or nanomachines could help us," Bart said ignorantly.
     "You little punk. It was the modified Disassembler nanomachines that allowed you to even touch the Seraph Angels when Krelian fortified them with healing nanomachines.
     It was science, research, and the nanomachines that allowed us to create the Mental Slave Generators for your Gears. Without science and my nanomachines, you guys would have gotten toasted against Krelian and Deus, and you'd be in big trouble now against the cyborgs.
     So watch your tongue!" chided Melchior. He always got touchy when Bart underestimated the power of his nanomachines just because they weren't huge like the Gears the young pirate loved so much.
     "Easy Melchior, don't let him get to you," Sigurd chided back.
     "Ah, it's the brother that got most of the brains!
     Good to see you!"
     Melchior greeted Sigurd, and got in one last insult. Only Balthasar really liked Bartholomew, since they shared a common obsession with Gears, so it was Sigurd's job to keep the peace, lest the Sages' get too pissed and discontinue their help, which was all-important during this time.
     "If I may say so, can we cease the bickering long enough to explain things to Fei and myself," Citan asked, begging on the inside.
     He hated suspense.
     He was too used to being the one hiding the secrets, like his past as a high-ranking Element in the Solarian government, his assistance to Emperor Cain in freeing the -Lambs- from Solarian control, even his great skill with the katana. Now he knew what it was like to be kept in the dark.
     "Right.
     We don't have much time," Balthasar began. "We'd set up radar and sonar outposts all over the world, land or sea, centuries ago, during the war with Solaris 500 years ago. About half of them were destroyed during the war, and the others powered down after we went into hiding. After you all destroyed Deus, we decided to restart the remaining outposts to keep an eye on the reforming world. Soon after we restarted them, Bart showed up to ask for help with the Gears.
     We got involved in that and forgot about the outposts for awhile. Then, after we created the first Mental Slave Generator, we got a reading on one of the radar outposts in the Aquvy area. It appeared to be some kind of meteor.
     Bart decided to investigate with his newly re-powered Andvari. When he got there, there was a large capsule the size of a small Gear.
     It opened when he arrived and dozens of those cyborgs emerged. It was a tough fight since the slave generator for the Andvari was still a prototype and not very good. Luckily, Bart took care of them and destroyed the capsule in case it had any radio equipment that let it communicate with who or whatever dropped it."
     "Then, we started getting these readings all over the Aquvy area and the southern continent where Shevat is now based," Melchior explained.
     "We left the ones that crashed onto deserted islands alone since we discovered that these capsules lack any kind of propulsion or power, they are only dropships.
     This confirmed our guess that they were being released by something larger, possibly just outside our atmosphere.
     We helped Shevat mop up the cyborgs in their area and explained the situation to them.
     They decided to lift off and patrol the more heavily populated Ignas continent, and warn the cities and towns of the cyborgs. For our part, we continued to improve the Mental Slave Generator. Once it reached the level of the more advanced Zohar Power Generators, we implemented them on all of Shevat's Gears. Then, Bart decided to gather up the old heroes who stopped Deus.
     We still haven't seen any sign of whatever is dropping the cyborgs yet, so we need to gather you all up before we're in over our heads."
     "Do you have any ideas what could be dropping these things?"
     Citan asked thoughtfully.
     "None.
     Not even Solaris had developed any means of space travel, or even high atmospheric travel.
     Entrenank was probably the highest man-made object ever created and it was nowhere near to reaching outer space. In fact, Fei and Elly are the only people to go that high, in Xenogears.
     But this is definitely not a Gear," Gaspar explained. "The dropships are too large and too many to be dropped from a Gear of any size."
     "What does that leave? Another Entrenank, or prototype spaceship? We're still finding leftovers of their technology. Maybe some looters, or explorers found it and accidentally activated it, " Citan mused.
     "It just doesn't fit. We'd always heard about new weapons from our agents in Solaris.
     And calculating the size of the dropships, and how many there've been so far, the ship or whatever would be huge. Even larger than Entrenank. It'd be close to impossible to hide something that size, " Melchior explained.
     "Besides, how and why would looters release these cyborgs?
     I doubt they'd know how to operate a machine as big as you're saying. And what reason would they have to do it?"
     Bart asked.
     "Maybe to scare people away from home to do more looting, " Sigurd guessed.
     " But that's still doubtful. If it's not Solarian than that means something extraterrestrial."
     "In either case, it's time to find our friends before things really heat up.
     So let's get started!"
     Bart yelled.
     "Usually I'd say Bart's rushing things again, but he has a point.
     There's nothing new to learn here and we do need to hurry," Fei said.
     "I agree. It will take time to find and explain this to each of our comrades. We must get started immediately," Citan stated.
     "Go ahead. The cyborgs are tough, and have no real weakness, so be careful. The new Mental Slave Generators are installed in all your Gears, and I'll keep developing better ones as well as finding a weakness in the cyborgs.
     Good luck," said Balthasar.
     "Very well. We'll leave now.
     Thank you for your help," thanked Sigurd.
     The group turned and went out the door, leaving the Wise Men to their work.
     "Do you think they stand a chance?"
     Melchior asked.
     "For now. They have the Gear technology, and the fighting skills thanks to us. But eventually they'll be in over their heads.
     There is a way to destroy the source of the cyborgs easily, but I don't think they're ready to understand it, or consider using it," Balthasar mused.
     "Things will get much worse before they get better.
     We'll be lucky to survive this," Gaspar predicted.
     Back at the Yggdrasil, Fei and the others were considering what to do next.
     "We need to split up.
     There are too many people, too far apart to go everyone one at a time," Bart thought.
     "Fei and I will go to Kislev and talk to Rico. We'll take our Gears and guide Rico's with autopilot.
     Rico has a lot of respect for Fei since Fei beat him in the tournament. We'll have a good chance of getting him to join us," explained Citan.
     "Good plan. We'll visit Shevat and see if we can get Chu-chu and Maria to join. We can drop off the new Mental Slave generators the Wise Men gave us before we got you too. We'll meet in Bledavik," Bart ordered.
     "Alright.
     Time to mount up after all these years, huh Citan?" Fei asked.
     "Yes, it will be quite a thrill to ride my Fenrir again.
     And the new Slave generators will probably make handling much easier," guessed Citan as they walked out of the bridge to the elevator. They took it down and walked to the Gear hangar. As they reached the door, Margie came out of her room.
     "Where are you two going? Leaving so soon?" she asked with a smile.
     "We're taking the Gears and recruiting Rico Banderas to help.
     We'll meet you guys in Bledavik," Fei assured her.
     "Oh, okay! I was worried that Bart shot his mouth off again and scared you away," Margie said with a grin.
     Fei laughed. "Not yet anyway.
     We'll see you Margie."
     "Good luck!" Margie yelled as Fei and Citan walked into the cavernous Gear hangar.
     Fei was again awestruck at the size of the room and the Gears after five years away. The Gear shop had been expanded to hold the larger Mental Slave generators, and their was an area roped off for Gear mechanics to install the newest generators into the Deurmods, standard pirate Gears. Fei approached his Xenogears, which was closest to the entrance and Gear shop.
     Its "wings" glinted in the bright light of the hangar, and the eyes shone. The contact with -Zohar- had transformed his Weltall into one of the strangest and most powerful Gears ever seen.
     Besides running off of brainwaves without an MS generator, it could shoot energy beams without the use of the Ether Amplifier. The Wise Men were convinced they weren't Ether bullets, but that maybe it was some kind of psychic release. Either way, Xenogears could deal out large damage with no fuel and little effort.
     "After despising Gears for so long, it's strange how excited I am to be able to ride one again," Fei thought aloud.
     "Everyone wants excitement and action. To enjoy these things does not mean you are a monster like Id, only that you are human. And fighting to protect those you love is not an evil thing," reassured Citan.
     "Yeah.
     Enough talk, let's jet!"
     Fei shouted enthusiastically.
     "Right.
     You get Xenogears warmed up, I'll program Nortune's coordinates into Stier's auto-pilot," Citan agreed.
     Fei entered Xenogears' cockpit as Citan ran to Stier, Rico's Omnigear.
     Fei turned on the power, and felt Xenogears respond to even his smallest thoughts and movements.
     He felt powerful, which scared him, but he shook it off.
     "Fei, the coordinates are plugged into Stier. It's preparing to take off. You go next and I'll follow," Citan ordered over the radio.
     "Gotcha," Fei replied, as the Gear launch bay doors opened.
     He saw Stier roll over on its roller wheels. The Gear was large, bulky, and didn't appear to move fast, but Fei knew better.
     The wheels allowed the heavy machine to move nearly as fast as the lighter gears, like Elly's Vierge, and the jet booster on its back was one of the best. Fei saw Stier stop short of the door, and pause.
     Then, there was an explosion from the jet, and it shot off the Yggdrasil, which was still parked in the field outside the Wise Men's forest. Xenogears moved to the door next. It stopped and spread its wings out. All at once, the wings ignited and Xenogears began hovering.
     "Here goes!" Fei shouted as Xenogears blasted off the Yggdrasil and into the air.
     Fei saw Stier a mile or
     two ahead, and heard Fenrir blast off a few seconds later.
     "Everything okay, Citan?" Fei asked over the radio.
     "Just fine. A little rough at first, but no problems. Like riding a bike," Citan replied confidently.
     The Yggdrasil lifted off and blasted to the east to the Aquvy region where Shevat was floating. That's where most of the dropships had crashed and Shevat was keeping an eye on things.
     "How long to reach Nortune?" Fei asked as they shot past the Wise Men's island and over the ocean.
     "Not long. About an hour.
     Keep an eye on Stier in case the autopilot fails," Citan warned.
     "Roger," Fei replied, and settled in for the trip. Xenogears practically flew itself and the view was magnificent.
     Fei thought about how little you appreciate something until it's on the brink of being destroyed.
     "Look out! There's something on my scanner! Twenty clicks ahead!"
     Citan suddenly shouted.
     Fei sat straight up as he saw a fireball shooting from the sky onto the shore of Ignas. It was monstrous and threw up a cloud of dust two hundred clicks high.
     Fei stared in disbelief at the size. , At least as big as the Yggdrasil.
     "I'm setting Stier down in the mountains by remote control now.
     Let's land a click away for now.
     Be careful," Citan warned.
     "Roger.
     I'm gonna give it a quick flyby before I land," Fei said, speeding Xenogears up.
     "Quickly!
     We don't know what it is or what its defenses are. Don't do anything rash!" Citan scolded.
     "I'm not Bart. I'm just gonna see if I can tell what it is. Don't worry, there's still so much dust that I probably won't see anything, and the same goes for whatever this thing is," Fei reasoned.
     Xenogears reached the Kislev shore and Fei slowed it down.
     He could just see the outskirts of the crater but there was too much dust and smoke in the air to see anything in the center. The object's speed combined with its fairly large size had made the crater several times larger than the object itself had appeared. Xenogears landed on the north side of the crater, but Fei kept the engines on, just in case.
     "See anything, Fei?" Citan asked as Fenrir landed. Citan had his G-katana unsheathed, ready for anything. Fenrir was a formidable Gear. It was small, but the katanas were as sharp as Citan's and could slice through nearly any Gear, or at least put a pretty large dent in it.
     It was also the fastest and most agile Gear along with Emeralda's Crescens. The green Gear and the horns shone dimly in the fading afternoon sun. They may have to postpone the visit to Rico until tomorrow.
     "Nothing yet. I'm not getting any energy readings or movement either. The dust is clearing now though. The wind's picked up," Fei observed.
     They stood in their towering Gears, waiting for the dust to settle for several minutes. The sun could no longer be seen over the mountains and Fei knew they wouldn't be able to visit Nortune today. Finally, the dust settled enough that they could see the top edge of the crater.
     The crater was actually a hundred-foot high pile of dirt the object had pushed up around it, and Fei couldn't see the object over the pile.
     "Ready to go?" Fei asked, anxious to get it over with.
     "Yes.
     Still be careful.
     Just because we haven't seen anything yet, doesn't mean it's not dangerous," Citan warned.
     "No problem," Fei replied, and fired up his jets.
     Xenogears began to hover and moved forward. Fei heard Fenrir moving behind. Fenrir didn't actually hover, but Citan had learned that by using his jets in quick bursts, he could fly forward at low altitude like Xenogears.
     The two Gears covered the one click distance in little time. The crater would've seemed tall to a human, but was only a quick boost up for a Gear.
     Xenogears flew upward and landed on the edge with Fenrir next to him.
     "Wow," Fei breathed. Inside the crater was a box-shaped capsule that was as long as the Yggdrasil and at least three times wider.
     "Is this a dropship?" Fei asked.
     "I don't think so. It's much too big for the dropships Bart described. Those only have to hold a dozen or so cyborgs.
     This craft is big enough to transport a dozen Gears," observed Citan with puzzlement.
     This was something new and unexpected...
     "Let's get closer," Fei said, heading down the hill before Citan could reply.
     Xenogears jumped down to a lower ledge again and again until it reached the bottom of the crater, about a hundred yards from the craft.
     "I see some cargo doors on the front. I wonder what this thing is..." Fei wondered.
     Fenrir landed next to him. "It doesn't have any engines or flight propulsion. It's just like the dropships, but much larger," Citan saw.
     Just then the cargo doors began sliding open. Xenogears tensed and Fenrir held his G-katana ready.
     The sunlight streamed into the dropship as the doors opened. Fei strained to see anything inside. The doors finished opening, but nothing happened.
     "What the hell's goin' on?" Fei asked.
     "I don't know. Keep on guard," Citan said.
     Then, they heard a metallic whir, and a rumble. A row of five tanks rolled into the light.
     They were camouflage green and brown, and rolled on treads that circled several large wheels.
     They were only half as tall as the Gears, which was still very big for tanks. They had large cannons on a turret on top with smaller guns on all four corners.
     "What the hell are these? Are people controlling them?" Fei wondered.
     "I don't think so. They would've tried to contact us before coming at us with a threatening force.
     But we'll see," Citan said.
     He didn't want to push it too much.
     If these were a friendly alien species on a scouting mission, or even an army from some country in the world, it was imperative not to act violently before their intentions were know.
     "Those are some primitive weapons even if they are big.
     They look like they shoot cannon shells. Not even reactive rounds," Fei observed.
     "Good.
     If they're a threat, they'll easily be destroyed," Citan confirmed.
     All the tanks unloaded just then and halted. Five rows of five tanks sat before the two Gears.
     They didn't move for several minutes as Fei held his breath. Then the turrets rotated and all 25 guns trained onto Xenogears, rising for the trajectory over the tanks in the front..
     "Well, shit," Fei said with exasperation. Xenogears shot straight up as the guns fired.
     He felt the shells explode beneath as a small fireball rose under his Gear. He stopped flying and hovered for a second.
     "If they wanna play hardball, I'll play hardball," Fei muttered through gritted teeth. Xenogears spun around and around as it fell. Fei extended the wings to the sides and increased the power of the boosters shooting out.
     Fei closed his eyes as Xenogears landed, the booster flames flying over the rows of tanks.
     The impact alone took out five tanks, and the flames melted another ten into disfigured piles of scrap metal.
     Citan followed Fei's lead and attacked with his G-katana. Fenrir was a blur as Fei heard the impact of the sword on the tanks.
     When Fenrir was still, six tanks sat with their treads slashed and cannons lying on the ground.
     Fei charged up Xenogears and let loose a flurry of psychic bullets from Xenogears' hands.
     The blasts hit the remaining four tanks and they crumbled under the intense energy.
     "We should destroy this in case it has an automatic radio that feeds info to the 'mother ship,'" Citan suggested.
     "No problem," Fei replied as he let loose a huge psychic blast that blew large chunks off the dropship until it was littered all over the crater.
     "Nice job. Remote-controlled tanks.
     They were primitive.
     Maybe this is some large rebel faction that got their hands on an old Solaris toy," Citan mused.
     "Yeah.
     Anyway, we can't visit Rico tonight. The sun's down, and we might spook them coming in Gears at night. They don't know that Gears can be operable again," Fei reminded the doc.
     "That's true. Let's move into the mountains with Stier where we won't be spotted and make camp," Citan suggested.
     "Sure thing," Fei replied. He fired Xenogears' boosters again and took off with Citan trailing behind.
     He found Stier's radar beacon on the radar system and turned toward it. It was a short trip, and Fei saw Stier sitting in a small forest on a plateau bridging two large mountain peaks. He landed Xenogears nearby, avoiding the trees.
     Fenrir landed on the other side of Stier and Citan disembarked. Fei opened the cockpit and jumped out as well.
     "I need to check over Stier. It doesn't avoid objects on autopilot and may have gotten damaged judging by the branches lying around it," Citan said, observant as ever.
     He grabbed a toolbox out of a leg compartment on Fenrir and walked to Stier. Fei began gathering the branches knocked down by Stier for a fire.
     He heard Citan tinkering with the joints and opening compartments on various parts of Stier.
     Fei piled the wood in the center of the circle of Gears.
     "You got any matches?" Fei asked when the wood was piled just right.
     "Right here," Citan replied and tossed a box of matches to Fei.
     Fei took a match out and struck it on the box. It flared and Fei held it still a second.
     Then he touched it to the kindling at the base of the fire until it caught and began to grow.
     "There we go. Fire's ready," Fei yelled to Citan.
     "Good," Citan said, looking up, "that'll keep any monsters away.
     There's some food that Sigurd packed in Fenrir's right leg compartment. I'll finish up here and help."
     "That's okay, take your time," Fei replied quickly.
     The doc's food was almost as bad as the emergency rations he'd shared with Elly when they were stranded on a chunk of the Goliath airship in the middle of the sea when Bart impulsively shot it down.
     "Alright.
     It won't take long.
     A hydraulic joint on the right arm and claw has some leaves and twigs stuck in them.
     Everything else looks good.
     Thankfully the booster engines weren't damaged. We'd never move this thing," Citan said with gratitude.
     Fei pulled out a loaf of bread, a canteen of water and one of beer, and two t-bone steaks. He put the steaks onto a pan included with the food and held it over the fire.
     It was soon sizzling and Fei flipped them over. Once both steaks were done he added some salt and pepper. Then he put the steaks and bread onto two plates.
     "Food's done," Fei called to Citan.
     "Ah, good. I'm hungry," Citan said and jumped off Stier's arm.
     "I'll take the canteen of water if you don't mind," Fei offered.
     "Go ahead. I could use a pint," Citan said smiling.
     They ate in silence. Fei wolfed down the food and was pleased the steak hadn't turned out too bad.
     Citan ate slower than Fei even though fixing Stier had been a hard chore. When they were finished, Citan packed the dishes and extra bread back into Fenrir's leg compartment..
     "So how is our large friend?" Fei asked.
     "I got the leaves and twigs out of the joints and oiled them just in case.
     It should be fine.
     We'll be able to take off tomorrow no problem," Citan replied confidently.
     "What should we do about the dropship?" Fei asked.
     "We'll tell Bart and the others about it when we get back.
     We're pretty isolated, so I doubt anyone else saw or cared about the thing. If anyone does check it out, their just gonna find a bunch of metal junk thanks to you. They won't be able to tell what any of it was before," Citan reasoned.
     "You think they'll send more dropships that size with those tanks?"
     Fei wondered.
     "Probably.
     They've been dropping the cyborg dropships for a few months now according to Sigurd.
     These tanks must be the next step for whoever is doing this," Citan guessed.
     "All the more reason to gather everyone. Whoever's doing this has a huge supply of cyborgs, and probably a shitload of these tanks and other goodies. Our Gears are the best in the world and some of the few that are operational again. Anymore of those tank dropships and people are really gonna get hurt," worried Fei.
     "Right.
     Let's get some sleep.
     We'll head out early tomorrow," Citan said. They curled up their sleeping bags, also packed by Bart and the crew, and fell asleep.

* * * * * * * * *

     Bart and crew took off in the Yggdrasil as soon as the three Gears had launched.
     They headed east to the Aquvy region where Billy and Emeralda were based. With the Ethos totally disbanded, Billy had started his own religious sect, recruiting other Ethos and Etone members who were unaware of the Ethos' connection to Solaris. Emeralda had joined too.
     When Fei and the others first found her, she had been a child and just as oblivious and naive as a real child. She mysteriously transformed to a full grown woman when she visited the old Zeboim city underground and had gained the knowledge and common sense of an adult at the same time. After the defeat of -Deus-, when everyone went his or her separate ways, she became very depressed. She knew she wasn't real flesh and blood, just a group of little machines with no heart and no soul.
     Billy taught her different, that everything that cared for others, and was cared for by others, had a soul.
     She decided then to help others the way Billy had helped her, to prove that she was worthy of the love others gave her.
     Together, Billy and Emeralda set up a new mission on the continent where Entrenank had crashed, just north of Aquvy. They gathered survivors from Solaris and built towns for them, and showed them the value of religion since Solaris had done most everything except outright ban it. With their country destroyed and the lies of the evil, stupid -Lambs- disproved by this strange missionary, they accepted Billy's religion readily and things blossomed.
     "You think they'll help out Sig? Killing is something frowned upon by this religion.
     Even if the enemy is just a bunch of tin cans. They accepted Emeralda after all," Bart thought aloud.
     "Yes, but these cyborgs don't have feelings like Emeralda.
     I don't think they'll have qualms about that," Sigurd pointed out.
     "We'll see."
     "Sir, thirty minutes is the ETA to the mission," a techie on the bridge called.
     "Steady as she goes. Keep an eye out for any trouble. The cyborgs have been grouping here for some reason," Bart warned.
     "Aye, aye sir!" the techie called back.
     They continued in silence for the next thirty minutes.
     As they approached, Bart saw some activity on the viewing monitor aimed at the mission.
     "Looks like they have some company," Sigurd observed.
     "Damn.
     Well, I guess they had to land somewhere inhabited eventually," Bart said as he saw a firefight in the middle of the mission's courtyard. Cyborgs were attacking in full force, and former Etones and other priests were huddled behind trees and demolished brick walls. A few priests were shooting back and Bart saw Billy in his flowing blue Etone uniform, crouching behind a wall near the cyborgs.
     "The courtyard is too crowded to send in Gears. Sig, you and I will go in on foot and help out.
     Weapons engineer, fire two drop charges at the rear of the cyborg group. Helmsman land as soon as firing has commenced and everyone get to the upper deck battle stations to support. Hop to!"  Bart ordered.
     The Yggdrasil took aim and dropped two charges in the middle of the rear cyborg group. The helmsman swooped in for a landing as soon as the charges were released.
     As the Yggdrasil touched down the charges landed and took out half the cyborgs.
     "Let's go Sig!"  Bart yelled, and they ran out of the bridge and onto the upper deck. The crew followed and ran to the gun positions to support their captain. Bart and Sigurd were down the ladder in no time and ran to help Billy as soon as their feet hit the ground.
     "Need a hand?!" Bart yelled as he and Sigurd approached Billy behind the wall. Billy leaned around the wall and fired three times with his shotgun, taking out two cyborgs.
     "Sure, but what are you doing here?" Billy asked back.
     "It was on our way," Bart replied as he leaned against the wall next to Billy with Sigurd next to him. "Where's Emeralda?"
     "In front of the mission in case any cyborgs sneak by.
     Thanks for the air support.
     There must've been a hundred of them!" Billy exclaimed.
     Just then the Yggdrasil's upper deck guns strafed through a thick group of cyborgs, taking a dozen out. "Not anymore," Bart said with a grin as cyborg laser fire shot around the wall.
     "What should we do?" Billy asked.
     "In this case I don't think we have any choice but to charge ahead," Sigurd replied.
     "Just my style. Now you're talkin' Sig! There's about two dozen left," Bart said as he took a quick glance around the wall, "so three of us stand a chance." Bart then signaled the gun crew on the Yggdrasil to hold their fire.
     "Save story time for after. Go!"
     Bart yelled.
     Billy ran out with pistols blazing, but the bullets were too weak for the cyborg armor. He holstered the pistols and pulled out his Ether gun, unleashing a wave of electric energy, which fried more than half the remaining cyborgs. Bart meanwhile drew his two whips and started flinging them at a group of four cyborgs. The chain whips snapped into the cyborg armor and detached several arms.
     Then Bart spun the whips over his and snapped them in a wide arc, decapitating all the cyborgs.
     Sigurd withdrew his twin spear and rushed through a line of cyborgs with it held sideways, slashing through the robots. A circle of cyborgs started closing in on him, so he crouched down and spun the spear over his head, tearing the cyborgs to pieces.
     "If there weren't so many of them, they wouldn't be so tough," Bart said, placing his whips on his belt.
     "That's been bothering me lately. If these cyborgs and the 'mother' ship dropping them are so advanced, why are they so easy to defeat?" Sigurd wondered aloud, sheathing his spear.
     "Maybe the cyborgs are new technology, y'know? The creators haven't had time to really improve them," guessed Billy, holstering his Ether gun and beginning to walk back to the mission.
     "But why send prototype technology onto a strange, unknown planet to instigate battles? I see what you mean Sigurd. If you're gonna invade a planet, you should use the best of everything you have," Bart said, falling into step beside Billy.
     "In any case, god thing we were on our way to Shevat.
     You and your fellow Etones would've had quite a time stopping that many cyborgs," said Sigurd, following the two younger men.
     "Yes.
     Luckily, we Etones devised a plan of what to do should any show up after you warned us.
     The civilians are hiding in the wine cellar of the chapel. The entrance is hidden and Emeralda's near it, so it's pretty safe," Billy explained.
     "We could've used her Ether powers on the front lines," complained Bart.
     "Emeralda's Ether powers have been a little unreliable since Zohar was destroyed.
     Her creators didn't utilize the Zohar energy when they designed the nanomachines that make up her body, but Zohar did improve their performance and power. It wasn't an issue since she became a missionary, but now that the peace has deteriorated she's been practicing to improve her control," Billy explained.
     "But she can still transform her body into any shape, right?"
     asked Sigurd.
     "Yes, which still makes her a valuable warrior," Billy replied as they entered the outdoor corridors of his mission. Other Etones were also returning to their duties, and checking on children and other frightened civilians.
     "This is a nice place. How long did it take to build?" Bart wondered.
     "A little under a year. We had lots of help from the Solaris survivors," Billy answered with some satisfaction.
     "Did all the survivors stay here?"  Sigurd asked looking at the beautiful stained-glass windows as they entered the Great Hall.
     "No, some of the less religiously inclined moved about ten miles away on the edge of the crater from Entrenank, which as you may have noticed, has flooded over the last five years into a beautiful lake. The town is called New Entrenank, but not because they still cling to the old Solarian ways. They're just homesick. It's quite a change from a sky city as technologically advanced as Solaris to a home on the ground with the bare essentials," Billy sympathized.
     "I guess. At least they're close enough to get help from you guys if anything happens," Bart said as they turned a corner and proceeded down some stairs. Missionaries were rushing around to make sure nothing had been damaged and a few civilians who hadn't had time to hide were hurrying to their rooms to check on their belongings as well.
     "They wouldn't really need it. They managed to salvage some surface-to-air cannons from Entrenank, as well as some handguns, and placed them around the city when the cyborgs started showing.
     This is area's been hit hardest by those things and New Entrenank is probably the safest city in the Aquvy region," Billy told his friends. They turned another corner and arrived in the wine cellar.
     Emeralda was standing there in her tan jumpsuit and white scarf wrapped around her neck.
     "Billy, I see we have some old guests with us," Emeralda observed with a soft smile. When Fei and his friends first found her, she had been a child and talked like one.
     But when she visited the Zeboim ruins under an old lighthouse, she'd regained her memories of Kim and Elly, mysteriously grown into an adult, and no longer spoke like a child.
     "Emeralda.
     Good to see you again!"
     Bart greeted warmly.
     "Thank you for your help. What brings you out here?" Emeralda asked curiously.
     "We were on our way to Shevat to drop something off.
     We saw the trouble from the air and stopped to help," Sigurd explained.
     "What was so important to drop off that you'd risk travel with these things around?" Billy asked, also becoming curious as to why his old friends were out in Aquvy.
     "Well, we hadn't' told you about this, but we've been able to create an engine that allows our Gears to run again," Bart revealed with a smile.
     "What?
     Why didn't you tell us earlier?"
     Emeralda asked.
     "Well, it wasn't until recently we were able to create an engine powerful enough for the Omnigears. We've been supplying Shevat with them for awhile for their guard force to help out around here since this has been a hotspot for the cyborgs. We didn't think you needed to know until we could get Renmazuo and Crescens back up," Sigurd explained, referring to Billy and Emeralda's Gears.
     "So when were you gonna tell us?" Billy asked, slightly miffed that his friends would keep something this important secret.
     "After we dropped off the new engines at Shevat. They only have standard Gears, so any improved power would be useful to them. We've also picked up Fei and Citan. Essentially we're going around and picking up the old crew to take care of these mechanical bastards," Sigurd told his old comrades.
     "We're wondering if you want to join us too. Fei and Citan are currently on their way to Nortune to see if Rico will join. We were gonna check up with Maria and Chu-Chu chu, uh, too," Bart stuttered.
     "What about Elly?" Emeralda asked.
     She'd been a little mean to Elly when they first met, calling her an "old lady," but had grown to like her after their adventure through the Mass-Driver facility.
     They'd needed to use it to launch nanomachines that would release the -Limiter- in humans worldwide.
     "She's staying in Lahan. She's done with adventures and wants to protect Lahan if any cyborgs show up, which they did just before we picked up Fei and Citan," Sigurd explained.
     "So it's us, Maria and Chu-Chu, and Rico left?"
     Billy asked.
     "Pretty much," Bart responded with a grin.
     "Well, um, sorry, but we can't leave," Emeralda informed her friends with a bit of sadness in her voice.
     "She's right. We can't abandon the Etones or the mission. I hate to sound conceited, but we're basically all that's keeping the cyborgs from overrunning this place. And we won't let them destroy all we've worked for," Billy replied firmly.
     "Well, I'm sorry to hear that. It's gonna be weird without you two," Bart answered sullenly.
     He also hadn't gotten along well with Billy, and was looking forward to another adventure with him to solidify their friendship.
     "Sorry.
     We just can't leave," Emeralda confirmed.
     "We're sorry about that. If you can't help us, we can at least help you. We'll leave your Gears here. You're gonna need them," Sigurd predicted.
     "Thanks.
     It's kind of selfish taking help without returning it though," Billy said with ashamedly.
     "Don't worry about it. We're glad to do it, and the Gears don't do us any good without the only pilots that can use them. They're just taking up space," Bart kidded.
     "Still.  Thank you though," Emeralda said with a small smile.
     "No problem. I'll have the men unload them on the edge of the courtyard. It was good seeing you again at least.
     We gotta hurry," Bart urged walking away.
     "Yes, and if you change your mind, just contact Shevat.
     They'll let us know.
     You can catch them on radio now that they're so close," Sigurd advised.
     "Thanks again. Sorry to disappoint," Billy called after as Bart and Sigurd left the mission.
     "Well, that's two strikes," Bart said disappointedly.
     "You can't blame them though," Sigurd replied.
     "Of course not. Let's hurry to Shevat. It's getting late," Bart noted as they crossed the courtyard to the grounded Yggdrasil.
     They boarded the ship, unloaded Renmazuo and Crescens, and were on their way again.

* * * * * * * * *

     Fei panted as he ran through the darkness. He wasn't sure who or what he was running from or even if he was indeed running from something. He was tired of running, but fear and anxiety drove him on.
     A soft light appeared in the distance in front of him. Yes!
     That's it!
     He had to get there!
     He was close; he could sense it.
     Hurry!
     Almost!
     "Ah!"
     Fei gasped as he sat up straight in his sleeping bag, panting and sweating. He let out a slow breath to calm himself.
     Xenogears, Fenrir, and Stier towered over him and Citan, who was still sleeping soundly in his bag.
     Fei closed his eyes and tried to forget the dream, shaking his head to clear his mind.
     He'd had this dream before, but he'd never gotten as far in it as this night. He was sure now, that he was running toward something in the dream, but not sure what. Fei lay back down, afraid to fall asleep for fear of having the dream again, but also wanting to have the dream, to discover what his goal was.
     He closed his eyes after gazing at the stars, and thought of Elly.

* * * * * * * * *

     "Fei. Fei! Get up!" Citan yelled at his friend in deep sleep.
     "Huh?
     Wha-?
     Oh, hey Doc.
     Sorry, I didn't sleep too well last night," Fei explained, getting up and stretching.
     "I understand. This ground is rather rocky," Citan commented, oblivious to his friend's anxiety.
     "No, I mean, ah," Fei sighed. "Never mind. Let's hit it.
     Bart and Sigurd probably already visited Billy and Emeralda."
     "Yes, we need to reach Rico as soon as possible. Hopefully, today's trip will be less eventful than yesterday," Citan said pessimistically.
     "It'll be alright. I'll pack up while you fire up Stier's autopilot. Maybe we can beg a decent breakfast from Rico if we show up hungry," Fei suggested with a grin.
     "Fine.
     I'll have Stier revved up in no time," Citan replied confidently.
     Fei rolled up the sleeping bags and stowed them into Stier's travel hatch, and spread some dirt on their campfire ashes just in case.
     Citan, meanwhile, fiddled away in Stier's cockpit, occasionally stopping to mumble some calculations to himself and check the onboard map on Stier's computer.
     When he finished and climbed out of Stier's cockpit, Fei was already getting into Xenogears.
     "All set Doc?" Fei asked, sitting in his cockpit with the hatch open.
     "Yes, the autopilot's set and I'm pretty sure I got all the debris out of his joints. Stier won't give us any problems," Citan replied, climbing into Fenrir and starting up the engines.
     Fei also fired up Xenogears, and a few seconds later Citan began Stier's engines by remote control.
     They took off slowly; not wanting to knock any tree branches into the Gears' joints. When they reached the correct altitude, Xenogears took off at his top speed with Fenrir and Stier following at a slightly slower pace. Now that they were airborne, Fei saw that they could've easily reached Nortune the night before had Stier not gotten tree debris in his joints.
     It was gonna be a quick hour flight at his current speed.
     From his viewpoint, high in the air, Fei saw that many little villages had sprung up outside of Nortune in the last five years. Rico had made a point that Nortune was just too dirty and dingy for civilians to live in, and had used Kislev's funds to help them move to cleaner air and greener fields. Nortune was solely used as the Kislev capital and the Imperial Prison now, though Fei suspected Rico wanted to move the capital to a cleaner location as well.

* * * * *

Last Updated June 15, 2001.  I hope you like this. I made some updates and edits to earlier sections due to info I found on xenoheadquarters.xenogears.org. Thanks goes to them. I will be updating much more often now that school's almost out.

I hope and encourage anyone who reads this to e-mail me and give me comments, good or bad, and any suggestions to make this FanFic better. Thanks to those who have e-mailed me to compliment my work. That kind of feedback helps motivate me to continue work on this. CitanUzuki678

 

~ End ~