"We'll... probably fade soon, huh?"
The two now-Klaxo Sapiens were bathed in light, and both could feel their consciousness fading.
They were at peace with that, though.
They had done what they needed to do.
The two nuzzled their horns against each other and closed their eyes, waiting for the inevitable fade in consciousness to encroach upon them, and that it did.
Yet, the fade it promised did not come, and there they remained.
The feeling seemed to recede, and with it, the nothingness.
"...Are you still here, darling?"
Zero Two's hesitant voice convinced Hiro to open his eyes, and upon seeing that nothing had changed, pressed a reassuring kiss to her lips. "Yeah, Zero Two, I'm still here. We both are." But why was that? Shouldn't they both be dead?
Hiro's partner shuddered, and he pressed himself closer to her to help calm both her nerves and his, though it seemed to work to little effect, judging by his own rising fear and Zero Two's trembling.. "Did we do something wrong? Shouldn't we be... dead, by now? Why are we still..." Zero Two's somewhat panicked questions alarmed Hiro, and his eyes began to dart about, seeking an exit to wherever they were, only growing more frightened as he found none. "I- I don't know. Did we- did we fail?" Was this some elaborate prison by the enemy, to trick them into believing themselves victorious? One last thing to trap them in their hubris of their final success?
Trapped. In the end, they were kids once again, trapped in a bubble with no way out. No way to see their friends, or family. Trapped. At the very least, they had each other, but... to spend an eternity locked in a prison with no door?
That was a life they had already lived through. Must they endure that in death as well?
Zero Two's breath was erratic as she clung to him, shaking. "Trapped, trapped, trapped again," she whispered hoarsely. "Darling, what did we do wrong?"
Hiro shook, looked at Zero Two's face, whose expression was one of frightened confusion, then looked away.
He had no answer.
"I- I don't..."
Then Zero Two pulled back for a moment, panic reverting to confused suspicion as she spied someone behind him, and her palms curled into fists. When she spoke next, Hiro's blood ran cold.
"...We're not alone in here, darling."
Hiro whirled around, claws at the ready and fangs bared, because who else could be within this void but their enemy? The sentients of VIRM had no physical body, and it was very much possible that they had followed them within this void, to take away all that made them who they were.
Only, the person on the horizon was no purple star, no malevolent deity.
It was a girl with long, white hair, blue skin, and a horn protruding from her bangs.
The girl lifted an arm and gave a muted wave.
"I did not think you would give up your lives so easily, human." The Klaxosaur Princess spoke as she strode (as well as one could stride in the void between life and death, there was no floor to stride on) towards the duo, stopping about an arms length from them. "Yet, here you both are, awaiting death. Do you not have people to return to?"
"You... How are you here? How are we here, for that matter? Where are we?" Hiro questioned. He had fully expected to be dead, by this point, but now he was speaking to what should be an equally-dead princess.
"Darling has a point," Zero Two narrowed her eyes at the princess. "What are you doing here?" The little she had interacted with the princess hadn't exactly left the best impression on her.
Being thrown out of her FranXX had not improved that impression in the slightest.
"I am here," the princess stated, "because my soul was tied to both of yours. I did give up my life for you two." Pausing and looking around the void, she shrugged. "I am glad to see my sacrifice was not in vain."
Zero Two stared. "So, you mean we-"
"You succeeded," the princess nodded. "VIRM has been destroyed. Their planet has been obliterated. The motherworld is safe, at last. A thousand grievances have been repaid in full." She smiled. "For that, I thank you. I am glad I trusted you two in this."
The two partners relaxed, then, tension leaving their bodies. Somehow, they knew the Klaxosaur Princess spoke the truth. And since that was the case... There was nothing to worry about then, was there?
They had won. Their friends were safe, though they would never see them again, but...
I think... I'm fine with that, they thought in unison. While, yes, they would never have the chance to see the world without the leash of APE holding them back, or enjoy the company of Squad 13 with the constant looming of battles forever cast aside, nor would they have the chance to fulfill their childhood promise of marriage...
Earth was safe. Their friends would be able to live their lives in a way no human, Parasite, Adult, or otherwise, had been able to do in a century.
If they had to die to achieve that, then both Hiro and Zero Two considered it a victory well worth the sacrifice.
At least, in death, they would have each other.
So, the two partners turned to the Klaxosaur Princess in unison, tension gone. "Thanks for telling us, princess," Hiro smiled, and Zero Two begrudgingly nodded her agreement at that. "You're here to take us to wherever dead people go, right? Let's go. We're ready."
And here the Klaxosaur Princess paused. "What made you think that I was here to do that?"
Zero Two blinked, then growled. "...So, you just came here to tell us that we won? You going to leave us here?!" The red Klaxo Sapien took an angry step forward, only for the princess shook her head. "No. The opposite.
I have come to escort you back to the realms of the living."
Both Zero Two and Hiro froze.
Without warning, the Klaxosaur Princess' tail split into eight, and her tentacles surged forward, wrapping around the two before they could think of struggling, though they both did so regardless, and the princess sighed.
"Do not make this harder than this has to be."
Picking a seemingly random direction (though Zero Two noted that it seemed to shine brighter than the rest of the void), she Klaxo Sapien began to walk, and within moments that could have been seconds, minutes, days, or eve months, all three found themselves before a gate of golden light, and the princess turned back to them at last. "...This is where we part."
Uncoiling her tentacles, she gently placed the two pilots before the gate, and immediately, both Klaxo Sapiens felt its pull and their hearts begin to beat once more, and they turned back to glimpse the princess with their rapidly dimming vision. "Wait!" Hiro called, "What about you?!"
"I shall remain here," the princess shrugged nonchalantly. "Until this void collapses, that is. Then I shall join my people in death."
"But- you'll be trapped for who know how long!" Zero Two cried out. "This place might be here forever!"
"Then forever I shall remain," the princess spoke again, before beginning to turn away. "Do not worry for me. I have lived my life, simple as that. It is your turn, now. Live your lives, both of you. Perhaps you can bring our people back from extinction."
Then the Klaxo Sapien princess was gone, vanished into the depths of the void, and Hiro fumbled wildly for the Zero Two's hand as their vision faded. Catching it, he relaxed slightly, pulling her close. "Don't let me go, Zero Two."
He felt the hand in his tighten its grip briefly. "Never, Darling."
Then their vision flashed gold, and they were gone.
The Klaxosaur Princess watched as the only other inhabitants of the void she found herself in vanished before her eyes, and she let her calm façade drop.
And why should she not? There was no one around to witness it, nor would there ever be anyone to. The Next was forever lost to her, that much the princess knew. This void, whatever it was, would not disappear until the last person within it did, and there was no way for her to remove herself in it.
So here she would remain.
If she had not steeled her soul and locked her emotions in a box at the bottom of the sea eons ago the Klaxo Sapien might have cried, though out of sadness or laughter, the princess knew not. How ironic, she thought bitterly. Not even death can alleviate me of my isolation. At least, during the periods between hibernation beneath the earth and her waking hours throughout the centuries, she had always been able to visit her Klaxosaurs, or inspect the ships, or see to the fortifications of the Gran Crevasse, or direct the slow construction of Her Child.
What could she do here but wallow in her many past failures?
"You always look sad when you cry, dear. Chin up."
The abrupt appearance of an unexpected voice caught the Klaxosaur Princess off-guard, and when she spun around to confront it, claws out and fangs bared-
-then she froze. Her tentacles, poised to strike, dropped, and stared at the figure before her.
The horned figure bathed in golden light seemed to smile sadly. "Sixty million years is a long time to spend in isolation. I am so sorry that we left you to suffer it alone."
The princess stared.
How long had it been since she had seen her, the mother that that had bore her?
In truth, the princess had never expected to see her again, not even in death. She had thought her mother's soul had forever been rent from the earth for all time, barred from the Next, doomed to wander the stars in eternal torment. Yet... here her mother stood, though even now, she began to fade, threatening her loss once again.
"Long have I waited for this chance, daughter," her mother smiled.
How was this even possible?! Her mother had been dead for eons!
The princess knew it to be true.
She had seen the corpse burn before her eyes.
"The chance to make amends."
Make amends..? What mistakes had her mother ever made, besides-
Then she began to glow a bright gold, brighter and brighter, and in a daze the Klaxosaur Princess reached out for the other woman
There was time to shout nothing else, only a plea that would remain unanswered, just as it had all those centuries ago.
Something held her back, however, the same force that had flung the two partners from before out of the void, and the princess could feel the realms of the living calling her, pulling her soul towards it. A chance that she had thought impossible to gain. The Next would be open to her, and her soul would be allowed to carry on in peace.
The Klaxosaur Princess would have taken up the opportunity in an instant had it not required for her mother to stay behind.
She tried, oh, she tried. One foot she set before the other in a near-futile attempt to move forwards, away from the golden gate that even now beckoned for her. One step after the other, each one bringing her closer to the smiling figure.
This was the closest she had been to her mother in eons, and already she was being taken away, just like before.
Closer and closer the princess got. Slowly, but surely, she gained ground, fighting what seemed like the whole world trying to pull her back, stubborn and unrelenting.
So focused on setting the next foot forward the princess was that she did not notice the woman step forward to meet her, not until she was abruptly pulled into a hug, and the princess stilled.
Then the princess cried.
The female's smile brightened as she held the sobbing child in her arms, eyes soft and loving. "Do not cry, Naba. It is unbecoming of the Apalexx."
Yet, cry the Klaxosaur Princess did, weeping into the chest of a mother missing for as long as she could remember. It was only when she had ceased, gaining control of her emotions once again, did her mother speak again.
"It hurts me to see you like this, but I can't alleviate your pain," her smiled faded. "What I can do, however, is give you this. Once last gift to you, my daughter. In life I gave myself up for you...
...and in death, I so again."
Then her mother pushed, and the princess tumbled backwards, finally entering the gate, against her will.
There was a flash of light, brighter that even the sun, followed by one last barely-glimpsed smile, and then...
"Live on, daughter."
The Princess of the Klaxosaurs saw nothing but gold, and remembered nothing.
Where was/were she/they going?
They all look familiar.
Whose memories are these?
The wings beat.
The Jian lovers flew.
A N D
T H E
S T A RS
S H O NE
G O L D
She was... floating?
No, she was flying... somewhere?
It was warm. Dark. Cozy. Smelled good- like a bed long awaited, filled with warm sheets.
She saw several others, all her, all gone in an instant, and just as quickly forgotten, lost amongst the stars.
Where was she?
Who was she?
She looked to find her other wing gone.
...Where was her Darling?
"Hello. You seem lost. Do you need help?"
She turned, and saw... someone? sitting on a bed not to far from where she stood, and she wandered over to it, surveying the person that sat upon it.
He was horned, his skin had a blue-ish hue, and his smile filled with sharp teeth, and there was a single, feathered wing attached to his back, not unlike her own, she noted. She felt as if she should know him.
...Yes, this was the 'darling' she had been seeking. She knew this instinctively, for some reason, that the man(?) before her was indeed her missing wing. She might have mistaken him for someone else had she not notice that he two also only had one wing, just like her.
But... that was why she was here, wasn't it?
"Are you my Darling?"
The figure, who had been studying her as she had been him, paused momentarily, before nodding slowly. "I...think so, yeah." Moving to the side, her Darling(?) made room for her on the sheets, and she sat besides him. Suddenly, a smile plastered itself on her face, and she felt her chest warm. "Hello," she greeted, and the Darling gave her a pleasant smile. "Hello," he greeted back. "What's your name?"
She frowned as she delved into the recesses of her mind searching for one, but found no name for herself. "I don't have one."
The partner looked thoughtful for a moment. "That's sad." There was silence for a moment, then he brightened. "...Do you want me to give you one?"
She nodded. "Yes."
The silence continued for a moment as the other stared at her, lost in thought, before emerging from his mind with a smile. "I have one." A pause. "What if yo don't like it?"
She smiled wider this time. "I will."
He nodded and shuffled closer, drawing her forehead to his, and their horns rubbed slightly. He opened his mouth and spoke.
Zero Two woke up abruptly, eyes slamming open and body jerking upwards, safe in the arms of her Darling who slumbered beside her.
Though, where they slumbered yet remained unknown to her.
She stood and stretched and took in her surroundings. They were in...
A thousand thoughts raced through her head, and if only she had the time to sort through them, but her partner shifted in his sleep.
"Zero Two..." he murmured, and her Darling reached out sleepily with arms, as if hoping to find her, and the pistil found herself relaxing.
...Wherever we are and how we got here... can wait, I think. It doesn't really matter, anyways.
I'm with Darling.
That's good enough for me.
She wasted no time returning into his embrace, snuggling comfortably in his arms, and the two returned to their peaceful sleep, the first of its kind in a long time.
And, on the other side of the cockpit, the Klaxosaur Princess opened her eyes.
A/N: Revision Finish 1/8/2021