Chapter 13

Been trying hard to give you a sense of what matters to me, but also to find a way to talk about the things that, uh… that scare me. "Thing," really—singular. And that thing is… loss. Losing. I'm a poor loser, I admit it. I run from it. Full speed. Others don't. Others accept it. But everything I said about my Queen is true; she is my shield.

She is also a lie.

I don't know when I made her up. Or better… I don't know when I decided to believe in a life I don't know and can never truly own. Was it during this life? Was my rebirth as a Guardian—or the void of everything I was before—what drove me to invent comfort? Possible. Even likely. But I'm not sure.

I do have flashes of memory of the life I had before I was a Guardian, but that's all they are, flashes—quick flickers of people and places in my dreams or in that space between a bullet and getting rezzed.

I see a woman there, and she's all I've ever known of a life long since gone. I feel love for her. Is that love a memory, or am I simply loving the memory? I've convinced myself of the former. I've concocted a truth to make myself whole.

The kid. The woman. I do not know them. They are not real.

But I wish I did. And I wish they were.

They're just the two best cards I could find to keep up my sleeve when the odds were stacked against me.

I made them real in my mind and in my heart.

I fell in love with the idea of them, and I crafted a truth that allowed me to feel.

In truth, it was selfish.

When I came to for the first time, I felt so alone. Broken. My Ghost tried to comfort me. But this life felt hollow. So I ran.

But the flashes… Like daydreams, they promised something more. Something other than suffering and war. So I clung to them. And I built my truth. And it made me a better man.

Some would dispute that fact. Some would say, "A good man who lies to himself is good only because he hides from the truth." But I disagree. I think, in this world, you need to find what is best in you and cling to it. That's all I did. I found what moved me, and I fought for it.

Without Ace, and without my Queen to listen to me, to hear me, to see me… there's no telling who I would've become.

But I know.

And I know there's a chance it wouldn't have been very nice.

So that's what I am offering to you here: a chance. Look at my life. Look at the things I've said, the things I've done. See how the promise of a simpler life and true, pure love—even if it was all just a game—see how it drove me, directed me…

Now go find your own.

I know this confession isn't as clean as you may like, but then again…

It's not a confession.

It's a warning.

Find the path to your best self and walk it. Because the alternative is a lonely road. Don't you ever forget it.

Otherwise, I may just have to come back.

And kick your ass.

See ya later, pal.