Author's Note: I must admit that the idea for this story wasn't
mine; when I was browsing through some partially translated Japanese Phantasy
Star websites, I stumbled upon a beautiful rendition of Nei, clad in purple
vest as always, amidst a snowdrift. The caption for the pic gave me the
inspiration to write this, and I want to thank that Japanese fan, wherever he
or she is.
The memories of her are still fresh, as well as the scars that had been
inflicted upon her passing. I can still see her in my mind, mauve hair
flowing, auburn eyes large and curious. She had that innocence that could
charm anyone. I grew to love her like a sister, and it hurt me in more ways
than I could comprehend when she was lost. Sometimes, on sleepless nights at
camp in the snows, I wonder if she knew what had to happen, she knew about her
fate, and planned her own demise -- suicide, I suppose.
But I can't spend too much time thinking about her now. I have to move
on...but I know she'll be forever frozen in my mind.
* * * * *
Rolf felt the cold bite of the fierce post-winter Dezo wind, and blinked
into consciousness. The sky was clouded as always, a faint grey-white smear
that blocked out the warm, nourishing heat of Algo. He shivered, threw off the
ridiculously inadequate blanket, and stood up with a yawn. The blue-haired
agent stretched, feeling his muscles tense with every slight twitch. His
entire body was sore today, which definitely didn't make him a good candidate
for fighting any other abandoned mining robots.
He and the others were in a small nook they found by the foot of a mountain,
the best protection they could get at the moment. While the danger of
avalanches was ever present, it was much better than being murdered by deranged
robots in their sleep.
He twisted his torso around, hearing the crackling of his spine, and saw
that Anna and Amy hadn't woke up yet. Kain, however, had gone off somewhere.
Not that it wasn't expected. The overzealous wrecker had probably gone off to
see if he could find any more defunct robots; machinery was his life, and who
was Rolf to say that he couldn't pursue his own interests?
The agent sat back down again and closed his eyes. He took in a deep breath
of the crisp and refreshing air and tried to blank out everything around him.
He was trained to have high endurance, to be able to go through the worst of
situations, but right now, Rolf felt that he had been taxing his limits ever
since they arrived on the planet.
The deserted spaceport known as Skure was infested with biomonsters, vicious
ones that looked to have mutated from such creatures as rabbits and avians.
Upon the party of four's arrival at Dezo, they were constantly attacked while
desperately trying to find their way out of the deathmaze.
When they finally did find the proper exit (or rather, a proper
exit), it wasn't all that welcoming either. Temperatures were vastly different
than the lush, almost tropical, climate of Mota, and the four found themselves
expending energy much faster.
Even then, the situation got worse. There were a lot of robots running
around the snowscape, all of which had been left behind by Palman miners when
dangerous gases started leaking out of their former prospects. It was
something that even the most optimistic person would frown on, and downed their
spirits. They had come to Dezo in search of answers, but it was apparent that
they weren't going to find them.
Rolf had intended to go to the nearest Dezorian town after landing and
picking up from there, but he hadn't even taken into consideration the language
barrier. It was a dire situation; the band of companions were slowly freezing
to death in the middle of nowhere and they didn't have the faintest clue as to
where to find another sign of civilization.
* * * * *
I once again took notice of how pale the woman was, how deathly
pale. She stood motionless before us and spoke calmly, with the tone of a
psychotic murderer. And that was what she turned out to be. I could see her
ferocity, that latent ability to kill, and how terrible she was...yet she was
also strangely fascinating, like a morbid distortion of my best friend for the
past seven months.
I had been listening to Nei cry out in protest absently, dumbfounded by her
twin's elegance, grace, and vileness. For the first time since we had stumbled
upon her, her expression changed into a mask of scorn. "Fool! You say such
things but you are powerless to stop me!" Nei couldn't meet her gaze, and as if
challenging her, her counterpart raised a clawed arm and added, "Just try
* * * * *
Rolf woke up with a start. He had drifted away for a few moments, but was
brought back to consciousness by Amy. She was throwing snow across his face,
and looked to be getting some kind of amusement out of it. Seeing him open his
eyes, she grinned and said, "Finally!"
The agent gave Amy a sour face and hoisted himself up. The doctor shrugged
and said, "Sorry, but they put me up to it." She motioned towards the other two
companions, who were smiling like idiots. Everyone seemed to be in a pretty
good mood today, except for Rolf.
"Okay, supply check," he said perfunctorily after regaining complete
wakefulness. It had become a daily ritual to look in on the amounts of food,
medicine, and whatnot left over from the previous days' journeys. Every day,
they noticed dishearteningly as their backpacks slowly lightened. Not a good
Today, they had about a dozen or so bottles of trimate left, with a few
dimates scattered here and there. Food was okay for the moment, but a diet
consisting only of freeze-dried vegetables and practically inedible chunks of
old meat wasn't the best way to get into good shape. Other than that, they
were pretty much fine, except for minor injuries.
The trek across the frigid desert was uneventful for the most part of the
day, surprisingly, but thankfully. They encountered no more behemoths like the
large miner robots nor gangly nuisances like the twig man series. The scenery
was always the same, though, an endless tapestry of snow and ice and snow and
ice and snow. To Rolf, it seemed almost irritating that such a renowned place
as Dezo would be so bland, so abysmal.
Towards the end of the afternoon, though, the party got an unexpected treat.
The clouds in the sky started breaking away, revealing Algo for the first time
in -- what was it? -- weeks. Even the star's harsh yellow light (which
provided with next to no extra warmth) was a welcome change, and Rolf actually
smiled. He pushed back his hair and sat on the wet slush, not caring that his
uniform would be damp for the rest of the evening.
The others also stopped to admire the view, and they watched silently as
Algo descended down the sky, producing spectacular hues of crimson and orange
as dusk drew on. When it had disappeared completely in the distance, the night
sky was suddenly filled with countless stars, like it was a dark canvas on
which an artist carelessly spilled glitter.
Dezo's sole moon was now clear and distinct, its milky appearance lighting
the way. Nobody spoke for what seemed like an eternity, just in awe of the
beauty of nature.
* * * * *
It was all a blur, and the next thing I remembered, I was kneeling down
by her side. Her purple vest was slashed open in several places, and thick red
blood flowed forth. Her expression was one of pain, and she opened her mouth
to speak when a wracking fit of coughs came. She spit forth more of her
life-fluids, and they trickled down her chin, tracing the area around her neck.
I put a gentle finger on her lips to quiet her, but she pushed me away with
"There's no hope left for me..." she whispered like a demented raconteur.
And out of nowhere, she smiled, eyes glittering. "Please, Rolf...don't let them
ever repeat the same mistake they made...when they made me..." I shook my head,
biting back tears.
"No," I said angrily. "Don't say that, Nei! Y-You weren't a mistake...w-we
all love you and you've sho-"
She interrupted me by putting up a weak, thin hand. She closed her eyes,
and pulled me close, whispering into my ear, "I hope every in Algo can find
happiness...in their new life..." And her grip loosened. Her hand fell back
down to the ground, making a heart-wrenching sound, the sound of death.
I stood up and turned away, not wanting my companions to see me cry. In the
shadows, Neifirst's body lay, dead and grinning like she was enjoying some
* * * * *
"Let's find some place to set up camp," said Anna all of a sudden. "Yeah,
the view is great here, but we can't spend the whole night looking up at the
stars." Rolf nodded dimly, and followed the slasher-wielding guardian. She
maneuvered around the landscape deftly, almost as if she was familiar with it,
and eventually, she tilted her head back and laughed.
The others stared at her as if she had gone insane, but she just pointed
straight ahead at a mountain face. What was significant was the blotch of
darkness near the bottom, which meant that it was a cave, some place warm and
comfortable, and not out in the open! "Wow," said Amy. "This has been our lucky
day!" She ran forward, eager to inspect the place.
The doctor was the first one to disappear into its shadows. The cave
entrance was low, and even she had to stoop down a little to enter, but a few
moments later, her head peeped out and said, "It's safe enough; no wild animals
or anything. It's pretty warm, too!"
Rolf, Kain, and Anna murmured happily to each other, and went inside. It
was warm, almost as if there was a huge bonfire just on the opposite
side of the cave wall. No need to go investigating further, though; after all,
curiosity killed the cat. A shelter was a shelter; a warm one was even better.
They unstrapped their insulated sleeping bags and unrolled them on the cave
floor, which was the same color as the mid-morning Dezo sky. "This place is
great," said Anna. "Aren't you glad I found it?" She smiled widely, and Amy
"Yeah," the doctor said. "This must be like the one warm place on all of
Rolf was about to suggest that they call it a day and rest up without any
further discussion, when he saw a dark figure dart across the entrance to the
cave. It came and went so quickly, that it could've been his eyes playing
tricks on himself, but his intrigue had been sparked, and he was determined to
get to the bottom of this. A lifetime of dealing with dangerous situations
made him wary of each and every suspicious item.
"You guys," said Rolf, eyes glued to the entrance. "We may have an unwanted
visitor." Anna gave him that Not again! look but let her hand drift to
her belt, where she felt the blades of her too slashers reassuringly. Amy
nodded, and Kain picked up his gun and winked.
They followed the agent's lead, creeping quietly towards the outside again.
Rolf put a hand on the cave wall, and traced it with his hand. The stone felt
cool to the touch, although the cavern itself was warm.
spit forth more of her life-fluids, and they trickled down her chin,
tracing the area around her neck
The violent contrast of the temperatures was apparent as soon as they
stepped outside, but the agent took no notice. It hadn't been his imagination
after all; the figure was standing on a hilltop, facing the opposite direction
and gazing up at the moon. It was obviously humanoid, and there was something
familiar about it. Its head was tilted up, looking at the moon, as if
like a demented raconteur
It turned around, face hidden completely in a pool of shadow, and noticed
the band of four. It then ran lithely away, as if teasing them. Rolf plunged
forth, increasing his pace. He felt the pounding of his heart, and the warmth
of his blood beneath the skin as he arrived at a near-run speed. It could've
been a life-threatening biomonster, but he didn't care now.
a heart-wrenching sound, the sound of death.
"Rolf?" he heard Amy ask worriedly. There was something in his glazed
expression that frightened her. Rolf wasn't listening, though. He sprinted
across the snow, leaving large clumsy footprints. When he got to the top of
the hill, he looked downwards and saw the figure standing there, waiting. It
stepped forward a few more paces, and beckoned for him to come.
dead and grinning like she was enjoying some secret joke
There was no need for anything else. The agent ran blindly down the hill,
and rushed forward in a mad dash of glee. Reality was twisted, and nothing
mattered anymore. Only him, and the figure standing in the snow. "Nei!"
Indeed, the purple-haired friend of theirs was there, smiling warmly at them.
Amy rubbed her eyes, mouth wide open in astonishment, and Kain spit out some
"Nei!" cried Rolf again. His three companions came down the hill as eagerly
as he, and ran forward to meet their dead companion, this bend in logic. Nei
was still smiling at them. She was clad in her familiar bodysuit, but didn't
seem cold at all despite the inadequacy of such outfits for Dezorian weather.
"Wait," said Anna. "This is probably some illusion!" She struggled to find
the words. "Just a mirage! I-I saw Nei die; this...this is impossible, and you
all know it!" But nobody was listening. They were overwhelmed by her
presence, Rolf most of all. He tried to choke out words, but found that he
couldn't. Instead, he brushed away a tear from his eyes and stretched out his
arms to embrace her. Nei stepped back for a moment, face still locked in that
smile, and she shook her head.
Nei buried her head in her hands, and suddenly looked away. When she turned
to face them again, the startling contrast of lights showed that she was no
longer the one that they knew; she was the twin, the counterpart, the harbinger
of doom. And she was angry. Rolf stopped advancing, and although no one
spoke, he could hear things in his head as clearly as if they were spoken right
next to him.
Filthy meddler, what're you gonna do now? I killed my wretched sister,
but was my passing your act of vindication? You're worthless, agent! Your
whole life was spent being babied by your superiors, and you never learned how
to deal with things by yourself. That's why she's dead. She's
dead all because of you, and you know it!
"No!" screamed Rolf, clutching his head. Locks of blue hair sprouted up from
between his fingers. "That's not true!"
Neifirst laughed evilly and said, "Are you sure?" Then, she ran further
forward. In mid-sprint, she looked back one more time, and there was another
change. She was not the bloodthirsty killer, but the sweet, innocent girl once
more. The killer. The girl. They were one and the same, yet two completely
Nei! Hold on!
She stopped running, and turned around. Even in the dim light, Rolf could
see tears come forth from her eyes, and they ran down her cheek. Her tears
were like pearls, and they starlight shone upon them.
her life-fluids, and they trickled down her chin.
Her words were lifted by the wind and carried towards the agent. She
sounded confused and disoriented. "Rolf, I..." Nei groaned, as if suffering
from a powerful headache.
hand fell back down to the ground
A deep rumble was heard from behind the group of companions, and the others
turned around to see what it was. Rolf, however, could not break his gaze.
Nei, no longer seeming to be in pain, smiled weakly, and just like that fateful
day at Climatrol so long ago, collapsed on the ground. She dissolved into the
snow. "Look out!" he heard someone yell. It might've been Anna. He stared
dumbly at the spot where Nei had fallen, and didn't move. Then, he felt the
push of strong arms and saw that everyone was running.
the sound of death
The rumble became increasingly louder, but the events that were unfolding
felt hazy, like the recollection of a dream in early morning, when unreality
had been lifted like a dense fog. The shouts and the rumble and his own angry,
terrified scream were all hums in the back of his mind.
"There's no time for that now!" yelled the guardian. "It's an avalanche!"
Rolf finally commanded his body to move, although his muscles felt more sore
"Saner!" Amy screamed out into the night, and he felt his motions quicken,
taking him ever farther. They ran, as if fleeing a deadly foe, not stopping to
catch their breath. Specks of snow and ice that were sprayed onto their ankles
were constant reminders for them to quicken their pace. Eventually, the rumble
slowly began to die down, and their movements began to slow, too. The agent
lied down and panted like a dog. Amy surveyed the area from which they had
come: it was covered by a fresh blanket of snow, at least six feet high. The
cave and a good portion of the mountain face were buried underneath.
Rolf lied there for the rest of the night, not caring for anything else.
They had lost all their supplies in the disaster, but they still had their
lives, so it was something to be grateful for. Amy came up to him and tried to
comfort him. She, too, was shocked at the recent turn of events, but could
cope with it better.
"She knew," said Rolf lifelessly. "She knew that was going to happen, so she
lured us away. It's all because of her." He began to sob, and the tears came
rushing forth like a flood. They fell down to the snow with a faint crackle
and fizz of heat. "She knew; she saved our lives. Even after death, she was
watching over us. God, I miss her..."
Amy knelt down and put a hand on the agent's shoulder and said, "We all do."