Cowboy Bebop:  Rhapsody in Blue

Prologue

By Nightsong

 

 

 

It was the first time since my awakening that I‘d had a place I belonged, and I didn’t even recognize it until it slipped through my fingers. 

 

Till he slipped through my fingers…

 

Faye Valentine choked back a sob, slamming her fist into the steering column of her Redtail so hard that it left her fingers stinging.  Beneath her, the rather limited scenery of the unterraformed wastes of Mars flew by, its naturally red landscape purple underneath the starry night sky. 

 

It was all too much like that night, and it brought back the very memories she had flown out here to get away from.

 

It had been nearly a week ago, now, that she and Jet had seen the CBC broadcast that told of the strange explosions that had been witnessed from outside the Red Dragon Syndicate headquarters. 

 

And it had been only a few days later that it became incredibly apparent that Spike was never going to come back to the Bebop….. was never going to come back to her.

 

Now that Spike was gone, it was all too easy to admit to herself how she’d felt about him.  More difficult was the understanding of why she’d felt so strongly for him, a man who’d never shown her the slightest bit of interest. 

 

Because that isn’t what love is. 

 

She’d certainly met enough men in her life that had shown romantic interest in her, only for her to later discover that such interests were deceptive, two-faced.  And perhaps that was where Spike had differed from most of the other men in her life.  He’d never fawned over her even once… but at the same time, he’d been there.  He complained sometimes, sure, but he’d accepted her.  They were part of a team….

 

Perhaps it was simply that Spike had let her belong.  Spike, Jet, Ed, even Ein… They’d all been a team, a family.  The family Faye had been wishing for since she’d awoken to this strange world three years before.

 

But before she could realize that, Ed had wandered off again, and Spike….

 

The tears would not be denied this time, and they began to fall from her emerald-hued eyes.  As they did, their passage was marked audibly by subdued cries.

 

I don’t belong anywhere.

 

.

 

Don’t know why I’m concerning myself with this.  He was never anything but a pain in the ass anyway.

 

Jet adjusted his still-stiff leg slightly as he pulled himself a few inches farther underneath the engine systems of the Bebop. In one hand, he held open a manual that supposedly had a ‘complete troubleshooting guide’ for anything that could possibly go wrong with an engine; in the other he held a basic wrench.

 

Neither looked like they would be terribly useful faced up against the convoluted mess of wires, gears, and bolts that made up the underside of an engine that had been jury-rigged far too many times.

 

Damn fool.  He knew as well as me what it cost to live in the past.  He knew… and he went and died anyway.

 

Closing the manual, the balding bounty hunter turned his gaze upon the engine, giving it a dark look as if answering a challenge.  He then pulled his wrench up to a bolt that looked like it might have needed adjusting, and went to work.

 

How many times have I made these very repairs, because of some gung-ho crap he did?  Heh… way too many, definitely.  Shoulda been a mechanic instead of a bounty hunter.

 

Jet allowed himself a small smirk as he pulled a metal covering from the engine, revealing behind it a mass of charred wires.

 

Hell… I miss him.  Pain in the ass that he was, I miss him.  I don’t pretend to know altogether what made him go back, as much as he acted like the past meant nothing.  I’ll probably never have a damn clue what made him go face Vicious.  But I do know, while he was here, life was, well… different.  Something about how he acted got me to look at each moment like it was the only one that mattered.  Taught a man stuck in the past how to live in the present… hell, Spike, what made you go back?  I just… don’t understand.

 

He sighed, and set to work replacing the ruined components. 

 

At the very least, he thought, I can work without having to hear him bitch about how I’m not fixing dinner.

 

.

 

Lost… lost lost.  Have to look harder.

 

“Ooooh, great Edward, show us where the father-person is!”

 

Ed sat on the dusty ground, hunched over her computer Tomato, with a mission.  Ein lay next to her, watching in rapt curiousity as she wildly tapped at the keys with her fingers, humming a nonsensical tune. 

 

Where they were, exactly, neither had any clue.  Ed had set off from the Bebop days ago with some vague idea of tracking down her father – one that probably would have been forgotten after a few days had it not been for the importance Faye-Faye had placed on it.  What she hadn’t expected was that he would be hard to track down. 

 

Now she had her computer wandering through the wastes of cyberspace, typically a simple task for one like Radical Edward, but was surprised to find absolutely nothing about an Applederry.  Anywhere.  Not even a birth certificate.

 

Moaning loudly, she flung herself back on the sand next to Ein.  “Edward is stumped.” She told the data dog pitiably. After a moment, it became clear that he had no more insight into the matter than she did.  Noting this, the red-haired girl let out a great sigh and started randomly clicking on her keyboard with her toes. 

 

Maybe Edward will check on Bebop, she thought.  She surprised herself by sighing as she thought about the ship.  Edward… misses the Bebop?  She blinked and sat up, her head looking up into the night sky.  Edward misses Spike-person and Jet-person and Faye-Faye.  What planet are they on?  Beating up bountyheads and smoking cigarettes, Edward bets.

 

The thought refusing to leave her mind once it had been entertained, Ed leaned back over her computer and typed in a search.  Almost immediately, a host of related links pulled up, most of them involving massive property damage and cancelled bounties that she herself had been present for.    A more recent link, though, pulled up information about an explosion at a building on Mars dated just last week.  Interested, Ed pulled it up.

 

After hacking through some negligible amount of security, she was greeted with a note that told of a massive bout of infighting within the Red Dragon Syndicate, and below it a list of casualties.  Puzzled now, she scanned through it.

 

…And did a double-take as she saw the name written in nonchalantly about midway through the list.

 

Spike Spiegel.

 

This… no, this can’t be right.  Spike-person dead?  No way!

 

The red-haired girl furiously typed in a new search regarding the explosions at the building.  Each and every related link brought her back to the same bit of data, the same name listed under ‘Casualties.’

 

Spike Spiegel.

 

Spike… gone?  …Dead?  Edward… Edward doesn’t understand.  A tear rolled down over her cheek, and splashed down in her lap. 

 

“No!  Spike-person can’t be dead!  No no no no!” her shout scared Ein, who sat up bolt upright and looked at her as if disbelieving.

 

“Edward shouldn’t have left… now Spike-person is gone?  Never coming back?” she looked at Ein with tears shining in her eyes.  “Ein, what have we done?  Why did we go away?  Now Edward will never see Spike again.” 

 

The Welsh Corgie could offer her no answers, but he seemed every bit as upset as she did.  The two of them sat there for several long minutes in silence.

 

.

 

Live, damn you.  Live.

 

“Gorudo.  How’re they looking?” the voice on the line was fuzzy and slightly hard to make out, but it was simply a price that the Syndicate had learned to pay for a secure connection. 

 

Gorudo Hashima was a short, thin man with close-cut black hair.  His face drawn and marked with slightly asian features, his face was a cold mask that revealed nothing of any emotions that his conversation might have been causing.  He wore the smart black suit of a business man, and kept a revolver holstered close to his heart.

 

As the Syndicate member held the cell phone up to his ear, he turned and looked through glass into a room filled with a dozen or so hospital beds.  “Not so hot, most of them.  The important one’s in stable condition, strangely enough, but it doesn’t look like the largest part of our boys are going to make it through the night.”

 

“Hell.  This counterstrike was the most costly thing we’ve ever done.”

 

Gorudo took a few steps through the empty hallway, his gaze continually returning to the hospital beds.  “No joke, but it’s not like we exactly had a choice.  No one expected Vicious to move so quickly.”

 

A dry chuckle sounded on the other end of the line.  “No one ever managed to expect anything that man did.”

 

“Fuck… that’s the truth.  But he’s out of the picture now, thanks to our unknowing agent.”  Gorudo shook his head and leaned up against one of the hall’s plaster walls, pulling a cigarette out of his jacket.  “Speaking of which, you did pick up his ship before those ISSP dogs could impound it?”  He fumbled with his lighter for a moment, attempting to light it several times before he was rewarded with a flame.  He then used it to light his cigarette, and took a long drag.

 

“Thankfully, but we ran into some major problems with them with the building itself, as you know.  Apparently the bastards got an anonymous tip that something big was going to happen before he even showed up.”

 

“I want you looking into that… if we’re going to rebuild this organization the way it should have been rebuilt, we need to clear all undesirable elements.  I trust Vicious’ last followers are being taken care of, correct?”

 

“There weren’t many to round up, honestly.  Most of them got taken down by our boys and Spiegel in that last run.  But there will be no trace that Vicious was ever in the Syndicate by the time our candidate wakes up, I promise you that, Gorudo.”

 

The Syndicate man blew a long trail of smoke from his mouth, his sharp eyes looking again through the window at the hospital beds.  “Soon, the Red Dragon Syndicate will again be as great as it was in the past.  Very soon.” His eyes focused on one of the prone forms in the sickroom.  “All we need is the banner to unite the serpents under.”

 

.

 

“Too much time has passed by to

lament that we were deeply in love

The wind keeps blowing, while my heart

cannot heal all the tears in it.” – The Real Folk Blues, translated.