Chapter 3

(We survive. We give back to the land. We help those in need. They come for us anyway.)

(The Regime raids our camp. No logical explanation for those they kill. Clan-mothers. Clan-fathers. Children. They kill us without purpose. A red spattering courtesy of a Stalker spreads across my face. Goodbye, Fhent. Goodbye, clan-uncle.)

(I am covered in red. It's all I see.)

(It spills out of these Stalkers like an endless crimson wave as I face them. Their valuables and instruments become mine. A Glaive of my own. A Sapphiric Converter.)

(Father is carried off, not killed. Not yet anyway. Not many of us are left. Mother and the others look at me with concern. Not for my injuries, but for those who suffered at my hands.)

—-They disrespected your power.—-

They were weak.

—-And yet you still saved them when you could.—-

(The Stalkers attack us under the Umbral Sun, during a migration. They know how to find us—they know we move at twilight—the space between when the Stalkers hunt and the planet kills.)

(We barely survive. At the safehouse, they dance and sing, not in celebration, but in admiration of their continued existence and in memoriam for those lost. I sit in anger. I hunger for revenge.)

Loss meant little to our kind. It was too rampant.

—-Are you sure it wasn't just you?—-

You know not what you ask.

(I'm a boy. I hold the furry little Yhadt in my hands as it wriggles before pulling it apart. It separates from its skin with ease. What is this worthless, pointless thing?)

Why show me this?

—-This you have already seen… experienced. Surely you can handle it again?—-

(This worthless, pointless thing… it dies so unceremoniously—did it ever matter at all? The children weep for their lost pet, but I feel… powerful. I feel—)

—-You know what you are. You always knew.—-

(Mother and the others look at me with concern. Not for my injuries, but for those who suffered at my hands… and they are right to do so. Tearing their bodies to pieces brought only joy. What… am I?)

I am a monster. I knew it then, I know it now.

—-Not a monster. A savior.—-