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"Responsibility"
Space Century: 341.98
By J.M.

"Why won't you change your mind?"

"Don't do this."

"You're really leaving?"

"...Yes."

"But why? Your place is here, among your own kind."

"'Our place is wherever we decide to go'... you used to say that to me."

"That was before I thought you would leave us."

"It's no less true now than it was then."

"How can you do this us? We need you here. You belong here."

"I am not doing anything to you. This is something that I must do, for myself."

"You're abandoning us! Not just me, all of us!"

"How can I stay, knowing what is happening out there?"

"What's out there isn't our business! This is your home. These are your people."

"How can you say that? We're all living in this world... it affects all of us."

"No! If they want to destroy themselves, let them! You have a responsibility here!"

"...I can't stand by and let them suffer. They don't deserve that."

"But you'd let your own people, your own family suffer! You'd go off and leave us!"

"...No, that's not what--"

"That is what you're doing! You're trying to throw us away, you're trying to get us out of your life!"

"No, I--"

"You want to turn your back on your family, your people! You want to forget us!"

"No--"

"And for what? To join a group of outsiders? To join people who would see us murdered?"

"It's not like that... most of them aren't like that."

"You don't think they'd actually accept you, do you? They would rather see you dead! They'd take pleasure in that!"

"NO! STOP IT! You don't know what you're talking about!"

"I've lived in this world, I've seen what they do to us! You're a child! How can you understand? You don't know how the world works!"

"I won't listen to this! You're making it worse, don't you see?"

"I'm not--"

"You're making it worse! Your attitude is the reason we've been hiding for so long! You don't want things to get better! You just want to avoid them, generation after generation after generation!"

"You're blind to--"

"I'm not blind to anything! I can finally see! Why can't you? You teach isolationism, avoidance! You think that if we ignore them, they'll go away! That's not going to happen!"

"How can you speak to your mother like this? I raised you! You're of my own flesh and blood!"

"Stop it! Stop trying to shelter me! I can't live with your beliefs! They're wrong! You're wrong!"

"..."

"...I'm not abandoning you. I just need to do this. There are bigger things happening in this world, but you refuse to see them."

"...I don't understand you anymore."

"...You don't have to. Not now. All you need to know is that the world needs help, and I need to go. If I stay here, while these things are happening... I couldn't forgive myself."

"You wouldn't have to be ashamed if you stayed... you'd be helping here ... you'd be making a difference here ."

"...But I can make more of a difference out there."

"You've been raised to take his place, you know that. You've been raised to protect us. His time is almost over. You have a responsibility to--"

"I--"

"You have a responsibility to protect us."

"...I will be protecting you."

"No, you'll be off goodness knows where, doing--"

"I will be protecting you. By making the world safer. If I do that, it's better for all of us. Us and them."

"...You're father used to have similar ideas."

"Don't bring him into this. It's not the same."

"It is the same! He had your ideas and it got him killed! Do you understand that? He tried, and they murdered him! Those are the animals you want to protect!"

"They're not animals."

"Yes they are! They don't think! They don't care about each other! Why do you think so many of them die? Because they'd sooner kill each other than live with one another! They're not like us!"

"You can't do that... you can't condemn them all for the actions of a few. You can't."

"But don't you understand? This trouble they're in now, it's of their own creation! I don't want to see you pulled into their madness!

"That's not... they're..."

"Animals!"

"NO! You don't know what you're talking about!"

"..."

"..."

"... I don't want you to die."

"..."

"I don't want to lose you as I lost your father."

"I'm not going to die."

"You don't know that."

"I know that if I stay here now, while this is going on... I may as well be dead."

"...And what about us? What will happen to us while you are away with them?"

"There are others here who can do what you want me to do. I wasn't to be the only one."

"But we need every last one of you... especially in these times."

"...It's not as if I'll be gone forever. Just for a while... when all of this is over, I'll come back. I'll come back and do what you want. But not now."

"And what if you don't make it back? What if something happens to you?"

"If it happens, then it will happen. I cannot live my life fearing that."

"And what if you come back and we aren't here? What if something happens to us ?"

"...If we accomplish what we set out to, you won't need me to come back. It'll be a different world."

"...So who is it? What is he like, that would drag you away from us?"

"...He's like dad was. He will fight, but he believes in... a better time."

"He's going to get you killed. He'll betray you."

"No. He's not like that. He's just as good as any of us."

"..."

"..."

"...He reminds you of your father?"

"Yes. He's... dad would have liked him, I think."

"Your father liked almost all of them. I never understood that."

"Dad saw something in them... he saw that they're just like us."

"Don't say that... I can't... not when it was those same... that killed him."

"...Dad died with his beliefs intact. He never gave up, to the last... He was right about them."

"...I see more of him in you every day. That's why I worry so much."

"..."

"Your father died trying to help them. I don't want to see that happen again. It'd be like losing him a second time. But I'd be losing you, as well."

"..."

"When you were born, I kept hoping that you'd grow up to be just like him. Strong, dedicated, responsible... but later I stopped wanting that. I didn't want you to follow him. I didn't want you to become what he had become."

"..."

"But then I realized that your father had always been what he was. He had never changed... I had just never allowed myself to see all of him before."

"..."

"I wasn't ashamed, or disappointed... I just wanted him back. I wanted him to care for us and us alone... I didn't want to share him, or his thoughts, with outsiders. I... know that I was selfish... but I think... I had a right to be. I didn't want to lose him."

"...You aren't losing me, either."

"Yes I am. You're going to go off. And you'll be with them. And not with me."

"I'll come back. And I'll always think of you. I'll always think of everyone here."

"..."

"I can't forget... I won't forget. I know I have a responsibility here. And I will come back and fulfill that responsibility when the time is right. But now... now I have another responsibility."

"..."

"Someday, you'll understand."

"...Your father... told me the same thing. I... still don't."

"...I love you."

"I love you."

"Goodbye."

"...Come back, as soon as you're able."

"I will."

"I'll wait for you."

And with that, Myau the Musk Cat bounded off, his golden fur momentarily glistening in the moonlight, before being swallowed up within the darkness of the forest. He would join Odin in a fight to free Palma from its terrible plague, yet had no idea of the grand scope of adventure that awaited him.

His mother turned, bowed her head in silence, and then slowly walked into the nearby thicket.

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