Since Then

Seventy-three years.

The earth had journeyed around the sun seventy-three times since then.

She sat overlooking the forgotten, rotting shell of Deus. The dead god had laid discarded in this hole, born into the earth with force so violent that it sent reverbs throughout the course of history, for seventy-three years.

Civilization most likely would have covered over and cleared away the fallen, crumbling remnants of the forgotten god, had they had the opportunity. It had been the genearl opinion of her and her allies that once the threat of Deus had been dissipated, people would slowly but inevitably return to the shattered lives they left behind, or work hard to build new ones from the ground up. It was the duty of the heroes, after all, to save and rescue and help and revive... and who better to act as heroes than that handful of people and their iron-strong wills?

But that was seventy-three years ago. Ideals had changed since then, and as she looked out over the death-beckoning crater, she realized they had saved nothing, rescued nothing, helped nothing, and revived nothing. The thick aura of Deus still hung in their hearts, forever soiling them with the evil of blasphemy. Faith in god diminished... people lost their will to live. The frozen fortress, the final refuge of life, lasted only nine years after the queen's death. She told her closest comrades and her nearest heir Maria Balthasar that she was walking out into the abysmal, icy plains to find the meaning of her actions.

She never returned... they found her frozen corpse a full month later, a look of tranquil depression painted on her face. For the next nine years Maria tried her hardest to follow her predecessor's footsteps; but she too fell prey to the unforgiving cold... as people slowly died away or left the snowy outpost, supplies dwindled out of existance. Eventually one final, unforgiving blizzard tore through, claiming the lives of Maria Balthasar and the hapless citizens of a city, fallen from grace.

Those who didn't stay in the arctic refuge attempted to return to their ruined homes, including the people of the desert kingdom of Aveh, under the rule of crown prince Bartholemew Fatima. Bart ruled loosely, allowing a senate appointed by the people to govern the realm. Sadly, the miniscule taste of power given to the citizens after hundreds of years of monarchy caused the newly appointed minister of defense, Bart's half-brother Sigurd, to die in an alley at the hands of an ebbing revolution.

Bart attempted to crush the rebellion, but failed terribly. The people of Aveh had forgotten his selfless deeds and those of the prince's cousin Margie. Both died tragically young in the blaze at Bledavik palace, snuffing forever the Fatima dynasty of Aveh. The newfound republic, loosely built on the massacre, died soon after, thus drawing Aveh's long, wartorn history to a close.

Many people would not let go of their dogmatic beliefs... they stuck steadfast to the teachings of god, trusting the wisdom and glory of the heavens. These people were seen as opposition to society, and were hunted down mercilessly. The Razing was a tragic result of this religious war. A group of men calling themselves Liberators, bloodthirsty men devoted to destroying any trace of god on the face of the planet, for fear of Deus regaining strength, marched on the once proud and beautiful city of Nisan. This sect of the Liberators was led by another of the poor girl's friends, a brawny mutant who went by the name Rico Banderas.

This is one of the heroes' more tragic stories, since it drove a wedge down the center of a once-strong friendship. One of the Godsmen (a derogatory name for people who still held faith in god) was a young priest named Billy Lee Black. He and his little sister Primera were staying in Nisan at the time of the Razing, and the tragedy was taken so far as to pit two friends, brothers in any other rite, against each other. Liberator and Godsman met in the centar of Nisan, while the Razing tore on around them. The story goes, Billy strode up to Rico and told him, "It would pain the lord if he saw me spill the blood of my comrade." He then sunk to his knees and folded his hands in prayer; Rico snapped his neck. Billy was only nineteen years old.

Likewise, Rico did not survive the bloodbath known as the Razing. Primera, however, escaped with a small band of Godsmen into the countryside. That group was never seen again by human eyes.

Not to say that the entirety of the past seventy-three years was full of terror and tragedy. A short month after the fall of Deus, Nisan was a place full of joy and celebration. Billy was given the honor of joining his friends Elhaym Van Houten and Fei Fong Wong in matrimony. They lived in a small house within Nisan's walls, but were away during the Razing, away to see Doctor Citan Uzuki.

It was not a visit of pleasure, regretably. Elly had developed a debelitating disease, and the prognosis was not good. With the world in such dire shambles, Citan was unable to do anything more than make Elly comfortable for the final few months of her life. Grieving the loss of his wife, Fei had nowhere to turn. He spent many years roaming the world, watching it slowly drip into entropy. Eventually he returned to the home of Citan Uzuki, saying he was finally at peace with himself. The doctor welcomed him with open arms, and Fei spent long years with his paintings and his thoughts, enjoying the simple pleasures in life.

Citan's daughter Midori eloped with her childhood friend, Dan, just after she turned sixteen. She had had an arguement with her mother and simply left. None of the former heroes heard from the couple again, but they all prayed for their happiness.

Citan outlived his wife by seven years, leaving Fei alone in the small mountain cottage.

All of these terrible memories kept flooding over her as she looked out over the dead god Deus. Seventy-three years had not marked her. Her undying existance was dedicated to fighting the death of the world, though there was little for her to do to realistically stop it. She and Fei agreed to meet every year, to enjoy each other's company and relive happier times... those visits became sadder and sadder as she slowly watched Fei drift away from the mortal world.

He died last week, practically in her arms. She buried him behind the small cottage, as best she could, and left the house empty to crumble as it would. He was the last one, the final member of her family. And she sat now, untouched by time, overlooking the terror which even today was tearing the planet apart from the inside out.

Years of contemplations led her to believe that the world was better off in the cruel, yet watchful eye of Solaris. Ignorance was bliss, after all. Ignorance...

...she regretted being taken to that ruined Zeboim city, far beneath the surface of the earth, seventy-three years ago. The journey which awakened her mind and showed her the torture that the planet must endure.

Seventy-three years.

"Kim..." she braved a whisper to the uncaring sky.

On the far side of the crater, overgrown with flora, forgotten by man, sat the empty, metallic shell of Xenogears.

Surrounding it were the dead, abandoned gears of her comrades...

...fiery Andarvi, who once fought so bravely against opression...

...fearless Renmazuo, once a strong-willed champion...

...brutal Stier, a once relentless gladiator...

...mystical Fenril, whose shimmering blade still reflected the infinite light of the sun...

...powerful Seibzehn, a legacy that once shook the skies...

...and familiar Crescens, whose wings still reached defiantly towards the clouds.

They sat as the planet's headstones, overlooking an open grave, in which lay a rotting