Chapter 23: Extinguished

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Log #341: Academies
    Rogue Slayers are some of the most dangerous and unpredictable people on Chorus.  Officially referred to as "Hunters", these unstable yet skilled fighters generally become something like mercenaries, fighting for or against whoever the buyer desires.  Very few people who become Hunters ever return to a stable career, and many eventually die on the job.  Thankfully, it takes a considerable level of mental volatility to become a Hunter in the first place.  However, while such mental insecurity is the most common condition that leads to the life of a Hunter, depression or hopelessness can also play a large role in leading individuals down that dark path.  There are rare cases in which a Hunter is restored to society, although the number of those who successfully have done so can be listed on a single hand.  Essentially, when somebody becomes a Hunter, any live they had lived is over.

                                -General Elvira Ramos
                                    400 BPE

    This had gone on long enough.  Sarah, Matthew, and even Francis had put everything they had into helping Kazu, and he shoved them away as if they were attacking him.  At the campsite, Matthew was trying to reassure Sarah and get her to sleep, while Francis glared into the empty sky.
    At least, that's how I had left them.  I weaved through the woods, looking directly forward.  Why did this happen?  What went wrong to let this darkness spread so far into our hearts?  Was it because of me?  Was it because I was a bad leader?
Was it my fault?
    No.  I had done my best to keep everyone in a good cheer, to encourage each and every member of our teams to do our best.  It was no fault of mine that this dark cloud had spread throughout Chang and Marinos Squad, but his.  I didn't care what disgusting, suffering, hateful persona had dragged Kazu into blackness and taken his place—it needed to be destroyed.  I had to bring light back into his eyes.
    He saved me, and now it was my turn.  Now was the time he needed me most.
    There was no way I could let him down.
    I gently nudged aside a branch, and immediately beheld the gorgeous view of a cliff overlooking a sparkling forest.  The moon gently covered the forest in an ethereal, white glow as stars decorated the sky around it. 
    Directly over the boy, sitting silently at the edge of the cliff.
    I took five tentative steps onto the slab of stone, and gazed at the mesmerizing view for a little bit longer.  It was hard to look away, but I had a job to do.
    I had a friend to save.
    I stepped forward, and spoke.


    I hated it.  I hated everything.  I absolutely hated everything that he had said. 
    But the more I hated it, the more sad I became.  The more I hated it, the more I knew he was right.  And that made me hate it even more.
    Despite the emotions clawing at my sanity, the world didn't seem to care in the slightest.  Somehow I had stumbled upon the prettiest view on Chorus, and no matter how many times I blinked, it was still there.  The full moon, basking the forest in a sparkling white light, hovered in the sky patiently, unflinching towards the hatred and disgust resting atop the cliff just below.  The forest twinkled mockingly in the moonlight, without a care in the world.  It seemed to be beaming at me, wrapping its peaceful arms around my being, whispering to me that everything will be okay, that I will be okay.
    The very idea of everything being okay was ridiculous.
    Despite everything, though, the view was mesmerizing, and the throbbing of my heart seemed to dull with every minute.  The hatred lingered, but adrenaline that had pumped through my body nonstop for the last twelve hours seemed to finally find a place to rest.  In its place, an unstoppable sadness flooded through me, guilt and heartache consuming the beautiful world around me.  The darkness was kindly, gently devouring everything.
    And all I could do was watch, eyes tainted with guilt.  All I could ever do was watch.
    "Isn't that right... Junior?"
    Behind me, a voice filled with sympathy and hope responded.

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