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I do not own Vash the Stampede, Rem Saverem, Nicholas D. Wolfwood, Milly Thompson, Meryl Stryfe, etc: they all belong to the incomparable Mr. Yasuhiro Nightow.

It occurs to me that Vash -might- compose letters in his mind as the way that he re-examines his day, unwinds, and learns any lessons he can from it.

This is an attempt to blend the tales in both manga and anime. Anywhere there is contradicting information, the manga's will be used. I use manga dates where they are given. Where dates are not given, I'm using my best guesstimate.

As "Unwritten Letters" accumulate, there will be more and more spoilers.






Eight Months



Year 114, month 6, day 18

Dear Rem,

It has been about eight months since I last imagined that I was writing a letter to you. It's been a very difficult time, for me, until yesterday. I can only imagine that it's also been difficult for everyone else on this desolate, barren planet.

I haven't been writing because I've been compelled to resist the psychokinetic abilities of Legato Bluesummers. I had no surplus thought or strength to spare, to compose a letter. Thoughts of you have crossed my mind, often, but I could not permit myself to enjoy those memories or to mourn you. I'm sorry, Rem. I couldn't. I just wasn't strong enough to resist and remember at the same time.

I last imagined a letter to you when I was about to confront Knives. That... didn't go well.

He came out of the temple-like structure on the top of that hill, wearing an outfit reminiscent of the jumpsuits we wore in the escape pod. We continued wearing those jumpsuits for many years later. He also wore a length of fabric that covered most of the upper left side of his body, like a cape or cloak. The shape was subtly "off" somehow, from what it ought to be, for covering his left shoulder and arm.

If he had already transformed part of his body, I reasoned, I would deal with that as needed. If, as I feared, the meeting turned into a battle to the death, keeping in mind that he might already be partly transformed may help me to survive a little longer.

On that day, I had anticipated my life expectancy would be measured in minutes.

I was surprised when I noticed that a narrow streak of black had appeared in his pale blond hair. There was something comforting about seeing that.

No, I wasn't wishing him a shorter life. It was merely a faint hope that, if he knew what it means to have black hair, the awareness that he's not immortal might make him more reasonable. Maybe he would again begin to cherish all life, as you taught us to do. Maybe he would finally remember how to have compassion for others, and be willing to find methods of peaceful coexistence with ordinary humans.

Maybe...

As soon as he saw me, Knives began laughing at me. "What a funny face you're making," he said in a mocking tone. "You look so serious!"

... And maybe the smaller sun would fall out of the sky, and change sections of the vast desert's "oceans of sand" into oceans of water, and thereby transform this barren world into a garden planet.

I recall thinking how Knives was probably going to kill me in the upcoming battle, perhaps within the space of only a few heartbeats. Yet his initial reaction to seeing me was to laugh at me and mock me. I thought I felt my stomach fall into my boots, but, of course, that would be physically impossible. I ignored the sensation to focus on him.

I said nothing. Instead, I stood still and grimly waited to see what else he had to say. Knives is rarely at a loss for words.

"But then," he continued, "you were up against some of the finest specimens I could pull from the human race. You've learned a lot, haven't you? Or should I say, 'regained'? I thought that if you were pushed to the edge, and if I made your conscience heavy enough, you might 'awaken.' Looks like it worked."

Glowing veins of energy, often a prelude to transformation, began forming along the left side of Knives' face as he continued speaking. "It was obvious to me, though," he said, "that no mere humans would be able to kill you."

I remained silent, continuing to focus on my efforts to control my power... and my temper. I could feel the burning of transformation on left half of my face, and some of my neck and shoulder on that side. Those parts of my body began changing into feathers. I tried to keep the transformation to a minimum. I might need everything I had later; I did not wish to waste any energy on an emotional reaction.

It wasn't easy to stand there and listen quietly, while he taunted me and baited me with his words. However, I could not afford to fall into that trap this time.

"Do you understand now?" he said, "There are astronomically large differences in potential between us and them. We are incompatible with them: we cannot coexist. When they crush an ant, and kill it... they don't even notice or shed a tear, do they? This is the exact same thing. If only Tessla had had this power..."

An errant breeze proved that my suspicions were correct. His left arm was at least partially transformed into his bone blades. Had he expected the cloak to fool me? Had he come to despise my intelligence that thoroughly?

"No, Knives," I said, breaking my silence at last.

Alternatively, given the new black streak in his hair, perhaps Knives was afraid to spend energy to transform his body back to a more "normal human" appearance. Was he ashamed that he feared using his energy to restore himself to a strictly humanoid form?

It grieved me that I no longer understood my brother. Sometimes, I wonder if I ever did.

"Your body... I won't let you use any more power," Knives said, in the same tone of voice that he had been using. "Your hair is turning black."

Somehow, I managed not to wince. I was all too aware of that change.

"Do you know what that means?" he asked. "That color is the blackness of decay. The way I see it, you're much closer to death than I am!"

As he finished speaking, he extended a transformed part of himself beneath the ground where I stood. It spiraled around me, and then rose as a helix. I drew both my revolver and the gun concealed in my prosthetic arm. I fired both at him.

He formed part of the bone-like extensions from his left arm into a shield surrounding himself. As with my own feathers, when bounty hunters shot at me after taking me out of a church, Knives' bone-blades could prevent bullets from reaching him.

It had been a worry as I had been approaching: if I could not fight him effectively with bullets, then the likelihood of my own death was even greater.

Yet seeing him stop my bullets was not a surprise, not really. I had expected him to show off, at least a little. He has grown arrogant, partly from spending so many decades thinking of himself as vastly superior to humanity. Yet he has many of the same character flaws that damage and destroy the lives of too many ordinary humans. I have some of those flaws, too. In that respect, Plants are no different from normal humans. We simply have greater destructive potential if we lose control.

The bone-like shield surrounding him began to reshape. He didn't drop the bullets he had caught. Instead, he pulled them slightly into his bone shield, and then reformed that shield into something resembling gun barrels. He flung most of my own bullets back at me. Thankfully, the latest coat and body-armor from Seeds was bulletproof. I still acquired some nasty bruises, and he knocked the wind out of me and knocked me down. He beat me nearly unconscious, by flinging those bullets at me so hard.

It's slightly possible that I may have passed out briefly. However, if I had, I think that Knives would have killed me while I was helpless. So I probably never completely lost consciousness. Or else, if I did, it was for too brief a period of time. He didn't realize it in time to exploit my weakness.

"It seems you still haven't figured it out," Knives said, "so I'll spell it out for you, in detail. Are you ready?"

I continued my struggle to catch my breath, while precariously balanced on one hip and both elbows.

"This is war," he said. "Do you still expect mankind to just accept those who wield such amazing power as we do? No way! It's completely out of the question! They'd come as a bloodthirsty mob to bind us and murder us, without even a shred of regret! The manner in which they treat those who threaten their safety... you should know more about that than anyone! By now, it should be engraved on your very soul!"

I managed to stand, even though I was distinctly unsteady. I looked away from the ground at my feet, which was speckled and spattered with puddles of my own blood.

"If it comes to that," I said, "let's run away as fast as we can. And then, after things have calmed down, I'll silently return and approach them again."

"More than a century has passed," he shouted, "and that is what you have learned?"

He attacked again. I made use of the reloading tubes on my coat. I left the one attached to my arm-gun, but shook the other one free each time when my revolver was refilled.

None of the bullets reached him, but at least by keeping him on the defensive he couldn't wield his bone-blades to attack me.

One bullet did strike roughly where his left shoulder should have been, and tore his cape. That's when I learned what he was really concealing from me... there were two sisters, bulb-dwelling Plants, which he was in the process of absorbing. He pulled them in, while they screamed in protest.

I was too slow, too shocked to believe the evidence of my own senses. I failed to do anything to protect them. I pushed aside those emotions. I had to focus on Knives, not on another regret.

Knives, the self-appointed protector of Plant-kind, was consuming other Plants to fuel himself.

Even ordinary humans abhor cannibalism...

"I want to forget everything that happened yesterday," I said, "but man, that's impossible. I can't do anything about my regrets. But, for now, my hands still work."

I looked down at my hands. Fighting with guns was accomplishing nothing, and it would continue to achieve nothing. Sadly, I began to channel power to my hand.

"It's only when I've eased someone else's sorrow that it becomes a little easier to bear," I said. "That's the only time when I feel a little bit at peace. Tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow."

I clenched my teeth against the pain, as my right hand began to form into the barrel of an "angel arm" cannon.

"That's why," I said, "No matter what happens, I won't let you have your way, Knives!"

In less than a heartbeat, his expression changed from arrogant annoyance to fury. "I told you," he said, his voice building with every syllable, "I won't let you use your power!"

We were facing each other, and his left arm was entirely transformed into a collection of bone blades and other unnaturally long and sharp shapes. He thrust one of those sharper-than-razor blades through my right forearm and disrupted the formation of my arm-canon. He used that intersection to fling me to the ground.

I landed, hard. I was startled, and stunned. I'd fallen somewhat out of practice fighting with him. I realized, belatedly, that I'd grown accustomed to the slower reflexes of ordinary humans. I should have known better.

"I've been trying to settle things with you for a very long time," he said. "It looks like I've finally succeeded. It's over. I've tried every other option. It can't be helped. I'll meld with you. At least you can live on within me, Vash!"

He meant to consume me, as he had the sister-Plants? Did he really think it would be a meld, and that I would live on within him? Was that how he rationalized his deeds?

There would be no "me" living on inside of him, not if he did what he threatened. I knew better than that!

I wasted none of my thoughts or energy on words. I simply fought, resisting being drawn into him. I couldn't end this way, fueling his xenophobic genocide of humanity!

As I resisted, I was dimly aware of Legato's voice. At the time, I paid him no heed. However, I remember his words.

"Master Knives, I beg you, stop!" Legato said.

Suddenly, Knives was flung back. With equal suddenness, I could feel the full force of Legato's psychokinetic power pressing against me and holding me down.

Legato had been paralyzed from the neck down, ever since just before the fifth moon received its crater. Knives had broken Legato's neck as I arrived to confront him.

I don't know how Legato, cocooned in his metal case, moved to the place where Knives and I were fighting. I only know that, somehow, he did.

"You..." Knives said to Legato. He sounded somewhat out of breath.

"Yes," Legato said. "I felt it."

"Can he be bound... is it possible to restrain him... in this state?" Knives asked.

"Yes, Knives-sama," Legato said humbly.

"All right then, do it," Knives said. "I'll leave it to you. Watch him at all times."

"Yes, Knives-sama," Legato said eagerly.

Knives walked away, leaving me helpless under the power of his servant. He had spoken to Legato, a "mere" human, as if I were not there. Given Knives' poor opinion of humans, that was an obvious insult. I had not thought my brother would stoop so low.

Shortly after that, I was moved to Knives' "ark." I was not released from the oppression of Legato's mind power. I was stripped of nearly all my clothing (only part of my pants, and my underwear, were left to me). They removed my prosthetic arm. Not surprisingly, my revolver was also taken from me.

Somewhat surprisingly, they did not remove the small loop radio from Seeds, which I wear on my left earlobe. Perhaps they didn't know what it was, and mistook it for jewelry. Unfortunately, I dared not use it while I remained their captive.

Legato Bluesummers, my jailor, delighted in tormenting me.

I was given adequate water, but very little food or sunlight. I would imagine that Legato expected this to make it easier for him to control me. I cooperated as little as possible, hoping that his strength would wear down before mine ran out.

Some time after I was captured, Legato discovered one of my exercise routines while he was attempting to search through my mind.

To clarify, Legato could not actually read any of my thoughts. What he did was say provoking things, and then press against my mind and body with his telekinesis. He tried to force me to either broadcast my thoughts and memories (as I had done at Dragon's Nest Fortress, when I first remembered July) or else speak my thoughts. I resisted him when I was awake. However, he would try to wait for me to sleep. As a result of this, I dared not fully sleep while he remained my jailor.

As time wore on, it became clear that I could not always hold everything inside of myself against his constant pressure. Eventually, I allowed him to force me to show a few minor details, things which would harm nobody other than me.

Legato did not understand that he'd found those exercises because I had allowed him to do so. Many other things he had also sought, which I had not permitted him to discover. I had made it sufficiently difficult for him to learn my exercises that he probably thought he had stolen them from me.

Not long after discovering my exercises, Legato took me to do them in front of Knives. My brother was in the control room. At that time, his transvestite servant was tending the equipment. "Crimson Nail," I had heard that one called.

Legato pushed me, hard. He was using some of my more extreme exercises. While it was almost refreshing to be permitted to move, I knew that he wasn't doing it to be kind or generous. He was doing it to make a spectacle out of me in front of Knives and the other.

Soon, I was sweating a great deal from the exertion. I maintained a token resistance. It wouldn't do to seem too submissive, or too easily overpowered. I needed to strike a delicate balance, and maintain it long enough to put him off his guard. Then, perhaps...

"Notice how your body moves against its will?" Knives said in a mocking tone, taunting me. "He can make your muscles turn in directions that would tear the joints. That is his skill, or 'technique.' I was going to use him, because he's good at silencing troublesome people, those who get in my way. Oh well..."

I remained silent as long as I could, allowing Knives to continue his rant uninterrupted.

"One hundred fifty years have passed," Knives complained. "It's taking too long. During that time, thanks to your meddling, even more of our kind have been oppressed and used up. They were sucked dry. Squeezing, they do nothing but squeeze the life out of you..."

Knives was "melding" another Plant into himself as he spoke. He was sucking her dry, exactly as he protested against ordinary humans for doing. At least they did it to live, not to kill... and most of them have no understanding that we are people, too.

Knives has far less excuse than they do.

"When they're done with one of us, they throw our murdered bodies away like trash, and then repeat the killing cycle all over again," Knives continued. "You have no idea, Vash."

"I've seen the dead Plants," I said. "Believe me, I've seen them. All of them had black hair. Those were not the bodies of Plants who had lived out their intended life span. They were the bodies of Plants who had been abused past their limits."

I paused very briefly, trying to hold in tears over the Plants who had suffered these things. I would permit myself to mourn them, again, later, after I escaped. During that conversation was not the time for any distraction, including mourning the lost ones.

"But still," I said, when I was reasonably certain that my voice would be steady, "there is no other method for humans to survive on this barren, desert planet. There is no other option to which they can turn. They are forced to rely upon Plants... on us."

"Do you understand?" I said, beginning to breathe raggedly from the pace at which Legato was pushing my body. "Knives, you seem to forget ... so easily ... all that you've done so far. You brought all of this on us. Never forget that, Knives. The humans on this planet were forced to a life of drought and hardship. They were thirsty, and suffering. The Plants, our brethren, were forced into a situation where they must be exhausted because there was no other choice."

I paused briefly to catch my breath, again, before I said what I expected would bring down the wrath of at least one of my captors. One-armed handstands, using my left arm's stump, were challenging enough without these other stresses.

"The reason for that," I said, "the thing that started it all, was the Great Fall! Gaaahhh!"

Although I have struggled to keep myself both flexible and strong, a body shouldn't bend in some directions. Because I had needed to concentrate on the conversation with Knives, I failed to resist adequately when Legato twisted my shoulders and made my left stump move out from under me while he bent my back beyond its usual limits.

It didn't help that I'd not been able to move much for a couple weeks. I collapsed, gasping and grunting from the pain.

When I had nearly recovered, Legato threw me again.

Knives stood by, watching silently. After a moment, he turned away.

There was not one word, nor even a gesture, of rebuke to his servant. Nor was there any suggestion of a preference for greater restraint. Neither sympathy nor mercy was shown toward me by my twin brother.

That hurt more than what Legato had been doing.

"All frequencies have been broadcasting the order to halt for some time," Crimson Nail said.

"Do you think they're about to open hostilities?" Knives asked.

"There's no doubt," Crimson Nail replied. "Let's drop the 'janitor.' There will be a mixture of shouts and screams, but it is only the beginning."

I could feel Knives' smile even though his back was turned toward me. He wasn't guarding his emotions, though I still needed to conceal, or set aside, most of mine.

As the shouts and screams, which Crimson Nail had predicted, began to be heard, I allowed my grief to be "loud" enough that Knives could detect it. But he didn't turn, not even to glance over his shoulder at me, until after all had gone silent below.

Then an over-the-shoulder glance was all he showed any inclination to offer.

I still lay on my stomach, with my arm twisted behind my back and my chin against the floor.

"Do you really believe," I asked softly, "that people cannot change?"

He'd begun to turn away from me again as I spoke, but he paused with his face in profile. He was frowning slightly, but he had stopped. Encouraged by this possible sign of softening on his part, I raised my head a little to plead with him.

"It may take a long time," I said. "It may take an unbearable amount of time, and they may sometimes regress, but humans do make progress."

Knives' frown deepened. He turned his face away from me, and began to walk with his back fully turned toward me.

"You must remember," I shouted to his receding back, "at least Rem was that way!"

He paused and turned his face partly toward me again.

"Time, huh?" he said. "It's the amount of time that's the problem. By the time they've changed, during that period, our brethren will be exploited, dried up, and thrown away. We'll all be smoldering in the bottom of some trash heap."

"But if that's the way it has to be," I said, "or if you can correct that problem, that should be enough. Can't you simply accept it?"

"Who says that's the way it has to be?" he said, turning away again. "They're nothing but livestock, Vash. I can't be bothered with the babbling of a domesticated pet. They take, Vash... all they do is take. They suck up everything they can without shame. They will continue taking until everything has run dry. It's been this way forever, that's what history teaches us."

Did I hear him correctly? Had Knives just labeled me a domesticated pet of humanity, and discounted my words as babbling? Had his xenophobic hatred truly taken him that far? Was that why he consumed other Plants? Did he also consider them as nothing more than "humanity's pets"?

"Listen closely, Vash," he added, "don't you get it? What they are doing is an injustice! This reality is as twisted as it can get. I simply want to do one thing, Vash: bring justice to this world. Have you forgotten Tessla?"

Briefly, just that once, I resisted Legato's psychokinetic powers with my full strength. I raised my arm and brought my fist down onto the floor hard enough to make a sound to catch Knives' attention. I allowed my tears to come, and flow down my cheeks.

"I have never forgotten," I said, "not even for one second! How could I? That was the day when we lost you, Knives!" I added more softly, almost to myself, "Ever since that day, you've been mad."

I bowed my head, weeping.

"That's why, Knives," I continued brokenly, "I can never take your side on this issue. It only proves the point. Only the victims of violence can describe its essence. Only those who have suffered can speak the words of truth that will stop the fighting. You want to keep yourself from feeling pain. But you need to look deeper within to find the source!"

I looked up at him again, from the floor where I was on hand and knees.

"Tessla's death," I said, "do you really want to add it to your endless chain of hate and strife? Is that what forms the core of your heart? All you attributed her death to was hatred and jealousy. You bottled up your emotions and refused to face the issue head-on. The only battle you really need to fight, the true battle, is the one within yourself."

He began to turn away from me again.

"Don't look away from me, Knives!" I shouted desperately.

Briefly, he smiled. Then his expression turned fierce.

"Yes," he said. "It is just as you say, Vash. It was a great pain. The pain I feel within is horrible. That was how I learned my true self."

He laughed bitterly: two short, harsh, staccato sounds.

"You're completely right," he said. "Now, they must learn as well. Then we will all be even. Yes, this battle will return everything to even and take us back to peaceful times, Vash."

"Knives!" I said, raising my voice again, but not quite shouting, "Don't do this! Don't make the same mistake, again. We didn't come this far just to commit such atrocities!"

"Look around you, Vash," he said, "and calm down. This reality is tainted, as twisted as it can get. At this time, my only purpose is to save our imprisoned brethren. If those imperfect beings down there, who live such an incomplete existence, should rise up and kill each other because of that... it will prove that is all they are capable of."

He turned and walked away.

"Knives!" I shouted after him, but he did not respond.

Since I had been able to wrench control of my arm away from him, from that day forward Legato gave me even less food than formerly.

Time stretched out oddly, as I wrestled for control of my own mind and body. Because of this, I gradually lost track of the time that passed.

Knives did as he had said that he would. He began, and continued, to collect our kin. The "ark" began to fill up with the bulb-dwelling Plants who provided power, water and other things needful for life to ordinary humans.

I wept, aware of the death that would come from this... even if the humans did not kill each other (as Knives expected they would do). The people would starve, and dehydrate, and overheat, down on the desert world without any Plants to sustain them.

He was killing them, Rem, and there was nothing I could do to stop him. Not while Legato held me prisoner and his strength was undiminished.

Knives didn't seem to realize that he was simply transferring our sisters from one prison to another. They were as much prisoners as I was... and equally as imprisoned as they had ever been. The only difference was that they were not being drained, at least not until Knives chose to consume one (or more) of them.

The Plants whom Knives didn't absorb were all thrown into the ship's hold. We were trapped in a deep room with intermittent walkways going both north-south and east-west. Sturdy bands of metal followed the same pattern, leaving rectangular holes just large enough that we might press our faces against them. None of us could reach more than an arm through.

Legato was always there, glaring at me and tormenting me. I asked why he served Knives... he told me something of his life's history. Perhaps I will share that with you another time, in a future letter. It is not a pleasant tale.

I was kept on top, near the hatches where he pitched our sisters in. They lay there, heaped several layers deep. I could feel their elbows, shoulders and knees against my back as each squirmed in efforts to find a comfortable position. Each was also frightened, at first. Bulb-dwelling Plants are unaccustomed to any physical contact.

I never complained, nor discouraged the sisters, no matter how hard they kicked. It wasn't their fault that we were trapped like this... it was a result of my failure to reason with (or defeat) Knives.

I wanted to struggle toward my own escape, but I also felt compelled to comfort my sisters as best I could. I shared some low-volume thoughts and emotions to calm them, as I was able, between resisting Legato and trying to figure out what to do. I felt my body gradually wasting away, as time wore on.

I didn't know where the ark was. I didn't know if we were near to, or far from, Seeds. The friends who called me "family" might be too far away to reach with my mind, without drawing Knives' attention to them again (which was unacceptable, since they were defenseless against him). There were too many unknowns to formulate any solo escape plan with a strong likelihood of success.

I did remember that Wolfwood had known where Knives' headquarters was, when he lead me there. There had been indications that he'd been unhappy about taking me to that place, and even a possible inclination to stand and fight beside me. If he remained under Knives' power, he might be on board... or close enough to reach with my mind. He might also be able to get on board safely, if they still believed him loyal to Knives.

Did he know I still lived?

Days and nights passed as I pondered, but I found no better plan. I decided my best hope was to make the attempt. Wolfwood had wanted our approach to Knives' headquarters to be more subtle... well, I would give him an opportunity to make a subtler approach. But it was too soon. Legato had not yet shown any signs of weakening.

Time passed, as my body grew weaker but my jailor did not.

Finally, a day came when I thought I sensed less strength in Legato. I wasn't quite sure yet. Though impatient to aid everyone being hurt by Knives, both Plant and ordinary human, I waited longer. A day, a week, another week, and then nearly a month passed... until I was sure that my jailor had weakened.

I carefully hid it from Legato, and began reaching out with my mind. My thoughts sought Wolfwood. I formed a picture of the hold, mostly filled with bulb-dwelling Plants, but also containing myself.

I concentrated, resisting Legato with my body and one part of my mind. Simultaneously, I reached out to Wolfwood with everything else that I had.

Hours went by. The suns set, the moons rose. Still I concentrated. The moons set, and the suns rose. I continued concentrating, while hoping and praying that I wasn't wrong about Nicholas... that he really had become a friend.

"Tongari!" I thought I heard his voice, muffled from being on the other side of a door, but I wasn't sure if I'd imagined it. "Can you hear me? Tongari?"

Between my surprise and my racing thoughts, and the need to keep Legato distracted, I missed part of what he said. It was something about "loud" and "ears."

Suddenly, Wolfwood stood by Legato with his handgun's muzzle against my jailor's head.

"It's been awhile," Legato said. "Do you have business with me?"

"Reached your limit, haven't ya?" Wolfwood said. "Give it up... or rest in peace."

"Wolfwood," I said, wishing to warn my friend. My voice sounded hoarse, almost unfamiliar to my own ears. "That man is..."

"Betrayal, treason," Legato said, "such foolish things. How idiotic - unforgivable. You bore me. Your penalty shall be death. The least you can do is to die quickly."

"Look, if you even blink and slip up on your concentration, he will be set free," Wolfwood said. "It's just as I'd suspected... You've been concentrating for over half a year, dedicating all your power toward keeping him down. You've weakened..."

"Those words were all I needed," Legato said. "What you just said has shortened your life-span. Not that you were going to live much longer, anyway..."

Wolfwood made some inarticulate sounds as he attempted to resist Legato's use of his special powers. My friend was forced to point his handgun at his own head.

That's when he said, "Now, Tongari!"

I was bidding a silent, regretful, mental farewell to the sisters. I could not help them to escape from the ship at that time. I had to get away, first. With the help of my human friends, I stood a better chance of stopping Knives and helping both peoples.

I formed a small canon from part of my hand and fingers. I shot at the rectangular bars that had held me down for so long. I made a hole large enough that I could get out. Swiftly and silently, yet weakly, I began to climb out.

Legato cried out, and twisted my body backwards. I cried out at the pain. Fortunately, I'd gotten far enough to fall across the bars. So I didn't fall all the way back in on top of the sisters. At least they were not further inconvenienced by me.

Bang! Bang-bang-bang-bang BANG!

Wolfwood continued shooting Legato's cocoon-like metal life support case until his gun was empty.

Legato, and his life support case, fell forward.

Wolfwood reloaded his gun.

I managed to pull myself to the walkway, where my physical strength began to give out.

I heard another shot, and sounds of pain from both Wolfwood and Legato.

I felt Wolfwood throw me over his left shoulder. My body dangled over his back, and he held my legs with his left arm. For the first time since I was captured, several months ago, I fell asleep. I'm ashamed to admit it, but truth is truth. I had grown too weak and exhausted to be of any further use in my own escape.

I was awakened as Wolfwood prayed. I knew he wasn't talking to me, but his words hurt to hear. I could not be silent.

"I beg you, the young ones... I only wanted to save them," Wolfwood was saying as I began to wake up. "God, O my Lord... can murderers only be murderers? Are you saying I cannot be forgiven for my past? Am I that wrong?"

I flung out feathers, to stop the bullets coming at him. I leaned partly in front of him, to shield his body with my own.

"You are not wrong, Wolfwood," I said. "You can change!"

If he had truly been a murderer at heart, and nothing else, Nicholas would never have come to save me. Especially not only on the strength of what probably felt like nothing more than a dream, to him.

He'd risked his life, to rescue me. I could do no less for him.

I've found a friend, Rem - a genuine friend! This is the first time that's happened since you died. I don't want to lose him, Rem...

"Tongari," he said, coughing, "since you're awake, get to it, idiot."

"I'm sorry," I said. "It's not over."

"I'll let you take over from here... leave it in your hands," he said. "I think I have to rest for a little..."

"Are you okay?" I asked. "Just don't die, not yet..."

"Don't worry," he said. "I won't die yet. I still have lots to do."

I had no other weapon. I began forming a Plant canon with my forefinger as I had done to break through the bars holding me captive.

"Wolfwood," I said, half thinking aloud, "I've had to apologize to you so many times... I really owe you a lot, don't I?"

I saw an aging man in a wheelchair, accompanied by another. They bore cross-shaped weapons, similar to (yet different from) Wolfwood's.

I warned them to get out of the way, that I didn't wish to harm them but I couldn't allow them to interfere or cause trouble. As we finished speaking, Crimson Nail appeared.

"Checkmate," he said. "Your form is much less powerful than his. It isn't even the same game anymore. For the last eight months, he has been attempting fusion with different individual Plants, combining entities. He has reached a completely different dimension of existence. I'm not lying if I say that he has been taking it easy on you. If you show the slightest amount of disrespect, he will send you to your death."

I sat on my right heel, with the other knee against my left shoulder, bracing myself up with my right hand. I was so tired that I hung my head.

"Give up," Crimson Nail said.

I slowly took a deep breath, considering how best to answer.

"You know," I said, raising my head and nodding toward Wolfwood, "that man put his life on the line for me. He feared death twice as much as others, and did his best to hold on to life. I'm afraid that he's going to die. He has an incredible tenacity, though."

I willed my weak, weary body to stand.

I raised my right arm. This person had served under Knives long enough to know what that arm can become. I saw his eyes widen.

"Do you think I care whether I can win or not?" I said, when Crimson Nail only stood there looking at me. "He is reason enough for me to keep fighting."

I clenched my teeth, knowing it was going to hurt.

"Here I go," I said.

The "angel arm" cannon began to form. It hurt, all right... so much that I found myself yelling. I couldn't afford to let the pain stop me, not then.

"You fool," Crimson Nail said. "Will you throw your life away so easily? You'll die of exhaustion!"

"Stop!" Knives shouted. "Don't do it, Vash!"

He said something else, about ending it, and threatening to kill me. Then, in that strange contradictory manner he has, he called me "brother."

"No, stop!" Crimson Nail called.

I looked at him, and grimaced.

Then, quickly, I reformed the canon so that it pointed behind me, instead of in front. I fired through the decking of the ship, right by Wolfwood (and directly under my own feet), so that he and I would fall through the new hole without being harmed by the blast.

As I'd planned, we both fell through the hole I'd made. I wrapped some of my feathers around Wolfwood, as we fell. I hoped they would be enough to protect him from the impact of the fall, as I felt exhaustion claiming me again.

Knives reached for me, with his own transformed appendages, as we fell. I felt his wrath, and his frustration as he reached for me. He couldn't move faster than we fell, though. So he struck my chin with the tip of one of his feather-like blades before he abandoned the attempt.

We landed heavily, and kicked up a bit of a dust cloud. Wolfwood was already unconscious when I shot the hole in the ship. I passed out just after we landed, too.

When I awoke, it was no longer daylight. Instead, the stars were out.

I pushed myself up to a sitting position, and looked at my friend. He'd lost a lot of blood, and was still bleeding. His body, including his internal organs, was riddled with bullets. It was bad, really bad. I feared I was going to lose him, this newly proven friend.

I stared at him, silently lamenting internally that I didn't even have any bandages.

"Idiot," he said. "Do you really think I'd die so easily? Don't be so quick to give up on me!"

His voice startled me, for I had feared he was dying and beyond help.

"Wolfwood?" I said, fearing I was only dreaming and that he hadn't spoken.

He reached into his suit's jacket, where he usually pulls out a cigarette. This time, instead, he pulled out a small vial of liquid. He pried off the lid with one thumb, and drank it.

"It takes a lot more than that to get rid of a member of the "Eye of Michael'."

"Eye of Michael?" I repeated, unfamiliar with the label.

"You could call it an organized syndicate, or guild, of assassins," he said.

He went on to tell me about himself, things he had never mentioned nor even hinted at previously. I sat quietly and listened.

He had been an orphan, raised in an orphanage. From there, the "Eye of Michael" had recruited him. They had claimed they would teach him to become a missionary, offering information about God and Christ to those who didn't know it. Instead, they trained him, and altered his body, to make him into a highly effective assassin.

He had been given increased muscle strength and mass, sharpened sensory nerves, strengthened bones, and a measure of enhanced automatic healing capabilities.

"The forced increase in metabolism that came with the accelerated regeneration system has caused me to age faster than normal," he said. "If the people from the orphanage, my friends from long ago, could see me now, I doubt they would recognize me."

"So that man was one of your own, a comrade, wasn't he?" I said, meaning the man in the wheelchair on Knives' ark. "Why did he target you, like he was trying to kill you?"

"I shot him," Wolfwood said. "I was planning on secretly killing him, and making it look like an accident. Then I pretended to be 'Chapel.' I hoped, eventually, to kill off Knives. At least, that way, there wouldn't be any more kids who'd end up like me..."

He paused, and then said, "Tongari, when I turn my gun against the others, my brothers, my heart turns cold. Help me, Tongari. If we are too late, then everything I have done up until now will be wasted. I beg you, help me..."

At last I understood why he could keep up with me, something no other ordinary human before had ever been able to do. He had been altered, just as my kind had been. Apparently, with similar results. We're so much alike, he and I, both of us wanting to protect others...

He went limp, and I panicked from a fear that he was dying.

"Wolfwood?" I said. "Oi, Wolfwood! DON'T DIE!"

"Can't I even sleep?" he said, in his usual caustic tone.

So I let him sleep.

At first, I watched over him, listening to his breathing. But exhaustion overcame me and I slept, too, until around mid-morning. That's when Brad and a few other Seeds people found us. They're taking us to a place of safety. It feels so good to be safe, even if it's only temporary.

It feels better still to have finally found a friend who's formidable enough that he can hold his own against Knives' assassins, even if he can't overcome Knives himself. Better yet, he's a friend who can travel with me, so that neither of us needs to be alone.

So many bad things have happened. I feel a little guilty, right now, that I'm not sadder about them than I am.

Please don't think too poorly of me that I'm happy to have a friend I can understand, someone who understands me. This is such a rare thing... I treasure him. I treasure the people of Seeds, too, but this is different. They're peaceful, and live in seclusion from everyone else. Wolfwood, he's more like me. He can travel, and he can fight...

I know I can't keep this friend forever. Physically, he seems to be in his mid-30's. However, he's much younger. He wouldn't say precisely, only that he's not yet twenty.

One day, he will die. Hopefully, he will live for years or even decades yet... but, like every acquaintance I've ever met, and the Seeds people who found me, and even you, dearest Rem... a day will come when I will lose him, too. I will do everything in my power to make that day as distant from now as possible. I hope he can enjoy some peaceful days before his time runs out. I want to see him happy, maybe with Milly. I think they'd both like that.

I feel like, for the first time since the Great Fall, I have a good reason to live. The bad reasons are to fight Knives, and to make as many things right as I can (compensating for my sins). The good reason is that I now have a friend, Nicholas D. Wolfwood.

I miss you, Rem. I still love you dearly, and I always will. Nothing can ever change that.

- Vash "the Stampede"
I do not own Vash "the Stampede," Rem Saverem, Meryl Stryfe, Milly Thompson, Nicholas D. Wolfwood, etc: they all belong to the incomparable Mr. Yasuhiro Nightow.

This series of "Unwritten Letters" attempts to get inside of Vash's head, usually regarding the events in the manga (or anime). I will try to follow the chronology as closely as possible, and blend in Anime where the Manga is silent (though favoring Manga when ever there's conflicting information).

I imagine that Vash would be someone who'd want to re-examine a day's events, and try to learn from any mistakes he made. Vash doesn't consistently have anyone around that he can talk with that honestly. So it occurs to me that Vash -might- compose letters in his mind as the way that he re-examines his day, unwinds, and learns any lessons he can from it. Most of these "unwritten" letters will be addressed to Rem. However, if it's about something I imagine Vash would think that someone else might understand better, he may address that one to someone else.

The dates align with the manga. I use manga dates where they are given. Where dates are not given, I’m using my best guesstimate.

I hope all who read this collection, or any part of it, will enjoy it. :aww:

The entire collection of "Unwritten Letters" may be found in my gallery's "Unwritten Letters" folder.

...

If anyone's curious, my other Trigun Fanfiction (most of which is not duplicate posted at DA) can be found through my profile at fanfiction.net. :)

Note: There's no need for an account or to log in, just to read things posted at fanfiction.net. ;P

Trigun: Vash Love+Peace 
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