The moment Moxie fell, his Kyoumougan reverted to its dormant state. No longer could he see the complete scenes of destruction unfolding bloodily ahead of him. Just brief flashes.
It ought have been blissful, but flashes were all he needed to deem every possible outcome of this onslaught a failure.
With Moxie down, there was nothing more he could do. That much was certain, and he'd accepted it minutes ago. Why else would he have reached for her to aide him in his battle? He was too weak, so much so that he needed her.
His heart still ached from falling that low.
In a way, it was painful and ironic that it had to end like this. Finally, Moxie lay bleeding and on the brink of death in his arms, the curse mark he had spent half his life coveting shredded from her body. For once, she was weaker than him, and at his mercy.
He could leave her to die, destroy her himself or better yet, sacrifice himself here and now to win this battle and show her up for all eternity and never have to live another day of this accursed life.
But the Kyoumougan showed him none of those sights.
The reason was simple - none of those were his options.
He was here to protect his daughter. Nothing more, nothing less. Hurting Moxie had never been part of the equation. Never again would it be.
Nobody was going to get hurt. At least, not while he was here. His eye told him that there was no way he could fight this man in his present state, and it was never wrong.
His heart told him it wasn't his place, as much as it hurt to admit it.
There was only one option, wasn't there?
He set Moxie gently on the sand, and climbed to his feet. She would hate him for this, he knew she would.
But maybe that much was a good thing, after everything else he'd done. Finally.
"She's a fool, isn't she? She doesn't understand what justice truly is. I'm sorry you had to listen to that. I'm not like that."
Only his brown eye surveyed the commander's face this time. His final attempt to keep this request genuine and heartfelt, as it had to be.
Had he been presented with any other choice, he would have taken it. But since when had the world been on his side? Heh.
"Parts of me agree with the things you've said. I won't say that they're right, as I'm in no position to judge. I've lived a tainted life, and to fight you after everything I've done...it's not my position. I'll take you up on your bargain, and I will leave. I only had one reason for being here."
Stones were dropping into his stomach with every word he spoke. Maybe the bulk of the refugees had already escaped, but his choice right now would jeopardize the lives of any who remained.
He'd regret this forever. But at the same time it was all he could do.
He had an obligation to Hanae, a duty to make up for his mistake of bringing her into this world by promising her a secure life within its cruel confines.
He sank to his knees, his trousers soaking in Moxie's blood.
For the first time, there was a strain beyond mere battle worn panting in his voice.
"It's...my daughter. Hanae, she hasn't been born yet, no, I-I don't even know, my beloved is in the process of giving her life, and hence neither was capable of fleeing this camp. They're still here, somewhere. I fought simply to stall, to give them the time they needed. But there is nothing more I can do in that vein, except plead that whatever you do with those who remain here, you don't touch them. That is my only parting request."
Pantsu swallowed in a fruitless attempt to clear his tight throat.
He felt so sick. Did he have to sink to this level?
He hoisted Moxie's body up over his shoulder, but his whole body trembled as he did it. With every sentence he uttered in plea, the Kyoumougan erupted into a dozen visions. All of them scenes of failure.
How could he expect this man to keep a simple promise, just because he asked?
He had to try harder. But how? Right now, he was in no position to fight for Hanae.
The Kyoumougan blared.
N-no, not that. He couldn't.
No, it was the only way.
But would that justify it? Was this the curse of a man lusting for power, or the primal instinct of a father?
When he spoke, both eyes pierced the commander.
"You know, you said something interesting to my sister. A man will do whatever it takes to protect what they care about. You're right. I told you before - I've lived a tainted life, one where I've taken countless others for nothing but personal gain. I regret this life, but should something happen here to my daughter, I can't promise that I won't hunt you down and relive it for the sake of those I swore to protect."