His name was Chang and he was drowning.
He didn't want to drown but he didn't know which way was up. And the green water was thick and clinging and warm like blood. Comfortable.
His name was Chang and he was dying. Green water in his lungs. It felt tingly, a little weird, a little nice. He couldn't remember how to find out which way to swim.
His wife would have laughed. He couldn't remember the sound of her laughter either.
But she would have, because who drowned in green water, seriously. Mocked him for weakness. His name was Chang and he didn't like being weak.
His name was Chang and he refused to be weak.
Oh. The answer popped in his mind like bubbles, because it was bubbles. Bubbles would tell him which way to swim. To get where? He didn't know. His wife would laugh if he stopped now.
He breathed out the last of his air so he would drown faster and know where to go so he wouldn't. His arms were heavy but his wife would laugh, so he had to go.
Warm like green blood. Swim, swim. Swim in green blood like thermal beam weapon. A trident. He was swimming in a trident's fire blade. Pretty images. They made him laugh except he had no more air to expel and the green was warm in his lungs, thick and cloying and he didn't even want to cough.
He was drowning.
Swim, swim, swim.
Hard thing under his hand. Weird. Not green. Had there been anything before the green? Green was warm safe nice home plasma fire.
His curly bits fingers at the end of his long moving swimming bits arms dug into the hard thing soil and then his head was cold and weird. It tingled so strong now. He thought of aspirin, fizzing itself apart in a glass.
Aspirin was for drinking against weakness. He was not weak.
Or an aspirin, either.
Out of the green now.
He sat and watched the green slough off him and back into the puddle. Lake. It was nice to look at, shifting and shining and tempting him. Come back come back let us make you fizzy and warm like green, green blood, it said to him.
He was cold. It was interesting. His skin moved in quick little twitches all along his back and his arms prickled with tiny dots, where he could see them through the torn black thing covering them. So strange. Not really new. He was cold.
The ground was warm brown. There were big tall green and brown things all around like trees and other such Downside things. Colored little things, dancing in the wind.
Flowers. His wife had liked flowers.
His wife had died in flowers.
Maybe he could die in those and then they could go into the green together,
she wasn't in the green. Her flowers had been so, so far from the green, way up there in the black. And the green was trying to make him come back and telling him things that weren't, things like "we're waiting for you."
He didn't like that. Lying green. He pushed himself away with his bendy bits. Legs. Feet. Damn it, green. First you drown me and. It's bad. Right? Drowning was bad, even when it was warm and it didn't hurt. And felt safe.
Even then. Drowning him he could forgive, but lying to him he couldn't.
He pushed himself farther away. The trees weren't as pretty as the green, but he pretended. Hah. Not watching you anymore, shimmery, lying green.
It was in his eyes. Everything was shimmering green, like looking through a bride's veil but his bride hadn't worn a veil because she wanted to stare him in the eye because she was so proud.
His name was Chang and he didn't stop moving even when it was green because his wife would laugh.
Plasma fire. Thermal scythe. Burning his metal arms away.
At some point when he was lost in the green something caught his arm and yanked and then there was red. It was wet and he hurt and since there was a big great eye near him he grabbed a stick and the stick went in the eye and then there was a lot of noise and movement, up until there wasn't.
His arm was still red and leaking. It was nice to look at. Red was such a violent color. Not soothing at all. Not lying at all.
He was cold again and he didn't like that. Must find warmth. But not plasma fire because it lied and also it was much too warm. He pushed and pulled until he was up again and he went, stepping over the scaly thing with the eye. When things went gauzy he looked down at his red arm and it pulled him back. And he walked and walked and walked forever. There were insects and dogs and dragons and vines and snakes with wings.
Survival in the jungle. The words were in his head. He wasn't too sure what they were for. Follow the water. Okay.
He'd been standing at the edge of the forest for a while, watching the little town, when the word "drugs" made it to his conscious mind. He frowned, though everything was still fuzzy and far away and his face felt numb. Drugs were... bad. Altering.
He did feel altered.
He curled his arms around his not-bleeding-anymore arm and clenched. The jolt of pain ran straight to his brain.
He didn't know. Villages were dangerous. Trusting strangers was dangerous. OZ might be there lying in wait. Sally and Une would be angry if he wasn't cautious.
Une was OZ though, wasn't she? But she was his superior officer, and he wouldn't have switched sides.
Except he had. Mariemeya. Mariemeya was Treize's daughter and he owed her for
making her an orphan.
Treize was gone. OZ was gone. He needed help. He'd been drugged. Smugglers? He'd been on a mission (he must have been) and now something was wrong.
The town was too big to be a smuggler hideout. There would be a police station there. Hospital, to put the red back in, where it should be. Get the green out. Get the...
Altered. Drugs. Get help. Yeah. He clenched his fingers on his arms again and the pain cleared his head a bit. He started walking through the field, left the forest with its lush leaves and twisty vines and flying snakes behind.
The town was all rickety wooden houses on stilts, footbridges. Made him frown again, though for a minute he didn't know why. It was like they wanted to be high up off the ground. There was a watchtower. Watchtower, watchtower. What did they watch from that tower?
Bad things? Maybe just the forest. It was bad enough.
He couldn't think. The ideograms looked weird and he couldn't read them, so he didn't know where the police was, or the hospital. Or if there even was one. The streets were either dirt or roughly paved. No asphalt. He went around through the trees so people wouldn't see him.
Maybe it was a bandit town, at that. He stumbled into an alley and watched the main road, trying to make sense of things.
He'd been on a mission. Preventers. Because he was an adult now and the war was over, so that memory of him holding mobile suit controls had to be wrong. Nataku was gone. Both Natakus were.
One step into the main street. Two steps. He could hear children kicking a ball around close by. A woman watched him from her house on stilts. She had a white parakeet.
He was nowhere close to the Antarctic ocean. He was...
He was green.
Stumbled back into the alley. There was a crate and a corner and he sat there. Everything was green and soothing and terrifying.
Later the nurse said he'd probably only been under for less than five hours before they managed to wake him, which was extremely promising and he would be over the worst of the Lifestream poisoning in no time at all. There was nothing to worry about.