(..Heavenly Arms Hotel, room 373; Lylat Palms..)
Kursed had been everywhere in the two days she'd been on the space station...she hoped that she'd receive a message from Xander and Arlex before the day was up, the lead mechanic working on her ship informed her that they would be done by morning. She made sure to spend a bit of money spoiling herself...she even ordered a suite instead of an economy room...even though she refused to sleep on the overly comfortable bed...like so many other things it reminded her of Fox. She at the moment however was in use of the only real reason that she ordered the room...the 'hot tub'...Fox had introduced her to them a short time after they were on their first date. She found them to be absolutely perfect for relaxing sore muscles and stress...Stress that was something she had far too much of these days. Which didn't help with her conflicting thoughts about Lament...it seemed to her the more often they talked the more depressed and emotional she found him to be...
'I can't believe it...but I feel sorry for him Fox.'
Her thoughts about the heartbroken fox reminded her of herself in a lot of ways; they both fought for the memory of a loved one, they'd both lost a lover, and they were both pained by the memory of that loved one.
wonder what he'd doing right now...probably running like usual...'
Lament approached Belladonna's hut dropping a large load of firewood that she'd eventually need when the winter rolled in...It was already getting relatively cold in the morning, and Belladonna didn't work so well in the cold an her much older joints tended to give her much grief in the colder months. Lament walked into the hut to a friendly old smile and a hot cup of coffee. Belladonna sat by as Lament began to cook up something fore breakfast, she'd always enjoyed Lament's cooking...
"So I take it you'll be leaving soon?"
"Sometime soon I suppose...there are a lot of wrongs that I need to set in order."
"What's gotten into you? Not that this isn't a welcome change in your attitude..." Belladonna asked.
Lament smiled and even chuckled a bit, "I did some soul searching..."
"And what did you find?"
"That I still have one..." Lament answered adding a Puk Puk egg to what he was cooking, "...and that even though she's gone...I still have reasons to live. The reason it all felt so helpless is because I'd forgotten about all the people that cared. And even if they no longer care about me...the fact is that I still care about them."
"That's good to hear..." Belladonna replied, "...you know most Cerinians go through what you've been through at one point or another in their life. Especially at the loss of a loved one, a grieving Cerinian will go out in search of themselves...to find new meaning to their life...sometimes however the search can last some time, you were just one of the fortunate cases who find their answer within the first few years..."
Lament finished what he was cooking and set down two plates, "Bella...you once asked me about my past...and I have to say that I...well I reacted like a dick...and I'm sorry."
Belladonna took a large bite of her food, "All is forgiven but...I am still very interested in the matter."
Lament hesitated as they ate, the silence lasted some time, until he surprised the old Cerinian by speaking up, "I used to be...well a lot different. My friends were my life and family then...I lost both of my parents when I was still very young..."
"I'm sorry..." Belladonna interrupted, "..oh...umm...please continue."
"...Anyway...after so long I began to travel with a small group of friends. Doing mercenary work here and there...until...until I met her..."
"Your lost mate?"
"Technically she wasn't my mate..." Lament said eating a bit more, "...we had a few dates...kissed a few times...but when it came down to it...I couldn't tell her how I really felt...there was just too much that could have gone wrong...and then it did..." Tears were beginning to form at the corners of Lament's eyes, "...she managed to tell me during one of our dates that she...loved me...I reacted the only way I could, I said it back. Nothing could have ever made me happier...but...then things began to get complicated. My team was becoming familiar with some pretty bad people and there was the war and...I had to force her away..."
"I'm guessing that didn't blow over too well..."
"You know...it didn't hurt when she punched me in the face, or even when she kicked me..." By now Lament's tears fell freely into the dish of food below him, "...but...the last words she said to me changed my life forever...I hate you...I hope you never come back from the war...So I didn't...I no longer had anything to go back to. I moved from one bar to another drinking my life away until this old hare gave me a second chance. He told me how this old pirate a long time ago had passed his name on hoping to create some sort of legacy...he went on to explain that the name somehow made all of his sorrows go away, and that he himself was looking for one to take his place...his name was Tyrel Mayson before he inherited the name Lament. I saw no reason not to take his offer...I mean what the fuck did I have to loose right?..." Lament said wiping away his tears, "About a year passed before I heard the news...a small ship matching the identification of the one I'd sent her away in was found in the asteroid belt near Corneria...there was hardly anything left. Being Lament had given me a purpose in life again...but even if she hated my guts...I still loved her...the news drove me back to the bottle...and I slowly slipped further and further away from who I was. Then Kursed came along...swearing revenge on me...apparently I was accused of killing her lover or something like that...in those days of my drinking I could have...but...nonetheless her chasing me, it sparked something inside of me. The thrill of fighting and fleeing for my own life...it brought back all the good memories of being a mercenary..." Lament paused for a moment, "...but we were recently forced to work together to get off of Titania where she asked me something that hit me pretty hard..."
"And what did she ask you?"
"Have you ever cared about anything other than yourself?..." Lament smiled and chuckled, "...it was a ridiculous question...of course I had...but...it stuck with me for some reason...and even being drunk off my as for 24 straight hours didn't make it go away..it just proved her point. I did only care out myself or I wouldn't have tried to drown my problems in Scotch with every spare moment I got. It was then that I realized something...I had become the one thing that I hated the most...a lowlife..."
"Why not go back to your friends? I'd be willing to bet they miss you very much."
"I'm sure they do...but they have lives of their own now...they're both married and happy...I don't want to ruin that. My showing up...trust me...it would...err...complicate matters."
"Then what will you do?"
"Set as many things back in order as I can before I die...but to do that I need to find out where Slash and that Fyra girl disappeared to. Kursed was right...those two have something horrible in mind and I don't want to think about what it might be. If I guess right it's got something to do with the humans that used to live on Cerinia...It's also got something to do with the sword but...I can't put my finger on it...there's just some sort of angle that I'm missing..."
For the longest time the two remained silent, Lament had just laid on quite a bit. They went through their day and as night set in Lament helped the old one into bed, her's was upstairs. Then he returned to the one Kursed had used in the downstairs...
"Bella?" He started as he stared out the nearby window.
"What is it Lament?" Belladonna asked with a slight chuckle.
"A-are sins...ever forgiven?"
"Forgiveness is a complicated subject young one..." Belladonna replied, "...you could have it and not even know it...but if by forgiveness by the gods as long as you want it and ask it is most likely given..."
"What if you needed it from someone you've done no end of wrong to?"
"You mean Kursed..." Belladonna pointed out, "...I am afraid only she herself could give you that...but I've seen the contents of her soul, she's looking for the same thing. She doesn't blame you for her lover's death, she blames herself...her pain goes a lot deeper than you think...and I'm afraid that if she doesn't learn to let it go...it will kill her."
Lament started to speak again but in the end there was nothing he could say, the old Cerinian had already fallen asleep. He however wasn't so lucky, his constant thoughts of what Belladonna had said kept him awake with a mass of questions that rushed through his head; Who was he? Did I even kill him? What if I did? Is there any way to apologize for doing such a thing? I know I wouldn't be able to forgive my lover's killer, maybe I should just lay down and die like she said. That'd really convince her wouldn't it...blow my head own head off right in front of her...He looked in the direction of the well...but don't worry about that I know how you feel about suicide...
His thoughts gave him no comfort, only the aggravation he felt for not being able to think of anything other then what he'd been told. It was late morning when he decided he couldn't take the pain of his own thoughts anymore...
The loud thumping sound outside sounded like an Earthwalker parading through the area forcing Belladonna to wake rubbing the side of her old head...
Belladonna made her was groggily down to the floor where the sound began to grow in volume and rhythm, it was most definitely not an Earthwalker...the sounds were too loud and too close together...
'whump, whump, WHUMP'
The last sound was reminiscent of a gunshot she'd heard from one of Lament's pistols before, this caused her to rush outside, well at least as quickly as she could move. Her fears where laid to rest as she realized what was making the sound as it went off again...
'whump whump WHUMP'
Lament was standing nearby at an old palm tree...pummeling it's trunk mercilessly. Small splinters of wood showered him with every powerful strike. Belladonna smiled with a mixture of both relief and confusion as she watched through the blindness in her eyes. Lament had always been curious as to how she was able to see so well but, he figured it was just a Cerinian Telepathy trick of some kind...either way around it worried him sometimes watching a supposedly blind old vixen walking around so clearly...
"Lament...why are you beating on that defenseless tree?"
"Stress..." Lament answered delivering another one-two punch to the tree. "...it's either this or back to the bottle."
"Can't have that happening now can we? But is there a deeper reason for that particular tree's beating...I doubt he did anything to deserve such treatment."
Lament laughed a bit as he struck the tree with a particularly powerful kick, "I..." The anger welled up inside him again, "I...just...can't...fuckin'...Stand It!" He said delivering a powerful strike between each word with increasing strength, the last almost sounding like thunder, "I ruined her life...and I don't even have the decency to remember who he was or why it happened. I want her to forgive me but...do I don't think I deserve it, hell I don't even forgive myself at this point."
As Lament said this his biceps tightened and he twisted his hips as he planted all of his force into the tree forming a massive indentation roughly twice the size of the vulpine's fist. As he turned to face Belladonna the two heard the loud sound of crackling thunder, followed by the sound of the trunk groaning. Lament pushed the old Cerinian a bit further back as the tall palm fell to the ground with a loud crash...
Belladonna made her way to the downed tree and took a seat on the severed end of the trunk, "Lament sit down." She said patting the space beside her, "I care for you a great deal young one...and trust me no one will be as surprised at how quickly you've changed your outlook that I am...it goes to prove just how strong a will you have to make such a radical change in yourself so quickly..." She went on as Lament sat down, "...I can sense that these feelings of yours are pure...but as much as I wish you could. You aren't going to find your answers in any number of these trees..."
Lament looked down at his knuckles. Though they were used to such treatment they were no more than small hills of blood and torn flesh and the base of his fingers now, he wouldn't be surprised if he'd broken several of them; his other weapons were no better, he could feel the trickle of blood soaking through his socks on the inside of his boots, "I guess there's only one place left to look then huh?"
"Yes...my question is; are you willing to risk your life for redemption?"
Lament chuckled very lowly as he looked at his feet, "I'm already dead Bella...redemption is all I have left."
Belladonna could think of nothing else to say, she simply lay an arm across Lament's slouching shoulders, she wasn't sure how to fully react to his current emotional state. This wasn't a side of the criminal she had never seen before. Lament was already working out a way to find out where Slash was, maybe the information would be a good start with Kursed, but where to start looking. He had left a scouting probe in Titania's orbit, but what if they had no intention of going back to Titania? He came to a realization of what he needed to do...
Several hours passed and Belladonna noticed that Lament was spending a lot of time working on his arwing, making sure everything was finely tuned before he gathered up his things and packed everything into the small ship's cargo bay...
Lament stuffed some things into the small hatch under the ship's hull pressing a button that made the hatch clamp shut, "You're leaving then?" Belladonna asked walking up behind him.
"If I'm going to set things strait I can't sit around here moping...I need to do something about it...starting with Kursed. I can't let her track down Slash by herself...she'll get herself killed. She has no idea what kind of person he is...and the Psychobitch he's traveling with may very well be worse than he is."
"You be careful..."
"Don't worry I'll come back remember...I still have to finish that water system for you..." Lament said climbing into his arwing, "...Bella there is something I need you to do. The gravestone in the well. The name faded off."
"I'll take care of it Lament..."
The air hatch to the cockpit slid shut over Lament, Belladonna sat by and watched as the black ship tore off into the sky carrying Lament toward the Raven which still hung in orbit. His first mission was to find Kursed and hope that she was in a listening mood. As soon as Lament made it into the docking bay of his ship he rushed to the bridge almost leaping into his captain's seat...
"MEL...get me a sub-space link with Kursed's ship."
"Closer though advised as sub-space link will give away our current position." MEL's voice answered from the ship's PA speakers.
"That's exactly the point patch it through and get me a reading I want to know where that ship is..."
MEL remained silent for a moment, "Sub-space link established...ship location: Lylat Palms resort and space station...currently undergoing repairs."
Kursed had actually began to enjoy herself. She'd been shopping for the first time in years, picked up a few things...nothing she really needed; few new articles of clothing, certain sweets that she liked, and a gold bracelet that she couldn't stop eyeing as she made her way through the endless shops around the place. She'd been to the spa at least three times already and was contemplating on whether or not to go back for another visit to the strong soft hands of the, obviously gay wolf masseuse. She remembered when Falco first explained the concept of homosexuality by pointing out a gay couple or two one day on Corneria before she'd became a full fledged member of Star Fox. She found the concept to be a bit odd...but all together figured that other people's love lives were absolutely none of her business...she also learned that there were lots of conflicting view on the subject all over the star systems that she'd been to; she found it to be completely idiotic for people to be so fixated on such a matter when there were wars and death everywhere...
She had just finished with breakfast as she had slept in late when her personal communicator sounded, "Hello.." The communicator she had was a lot like a cell phone no images.
She couldn't believe the voice that greeted her, "Kursed...don't hang up..."
"What the fuck do you want?" She demanded.
"Look...we need to talk..."
She was a bit confused, "About what?..."
"I'll just say you were right and leave it at that..."
"Well as much as I like hearing you admit your being a moron..."
"Listen...please..." Lament cut her off, Kursed was stunned, did Lament just beg her to listen to him? "...I can help you find Slash...I want to help you find him..."
Kursed sighed, "I'm sorry Lament...but I don't have a reason to trust you..."
"...god you stubborn bitch..." Lament said, "...then listen to this. You stay where you are...and...lying or not I'll sign over registry of the Raven to you. The Raven...it's yours. All you have to do is stay there and listen to what I have to say when I arrive."
"You know if you're lying to me you're dead..."
"If that's what it comes down to I won't stop you.." Lament said turning off his communicator.
Kursed was stunned...Did I really just have that conversation?...She asked herself. She still couldn't believe what she'd just heard, was he really on his way to the station? His voice sounded so different, like he was sincere about the whole thing...but it was his last statement that caught her off guard. He'd always fought so hard for his life, why would he give it away so quickly now? She could only wait and guess what he may have been thinking. She had no other option, she called the front desk and ordered the room for one more night...
(Sauria...two hours later)
Belladonna had promised Lament that she'd take care of his love's grave. Her secret of being able to see while blind was something Cerinians had learned long ago; she simply used her Telepathy to control the mind of a local bird that rested on her shoulder when others weren't around and used the same Telepathy to look through it's eyes...in truth Mind Sight, as they called it was a very simple to master skill that even the most unskilled Cerinian learned at a young age..
After about an hour of arranging things and watering the flowers about the area she knelt in front of the gravestone...She concentrated the magic force of her Cerinian heritage into her palm and as it became enveloped in a deep blue light she placed her hand on the face of the stone slab...There was a hissing sound followed by a strange smell as the stone began to heat up at an incredible rate. After a minute of this her hand returned to normal which she withdrew allowing the spot to cool...Belladonna stood to examine her work, and with a satisfied nod headed out of the well. Where she'd placed her hand on the gravestone, set in still glowing hot letters was a single word...