September 22 ~ December 11, aged 25
Most Noble Phantom of Benevolence
The blistering winter air whipped at my skin as I laid the bouquet of white roses and lilies by the icy headstone and stepped back. Hato followed suit, laying a wreath of scarlet flowers on the snowy earth. She stepped back, clinging to the sleeve of my black winter coat. We bowed and paid our respects. I lingered in deep reflection a little while before leaving the cemetery.
A year had lapsed since his passing. I had graduated as a student of Polaris the third week following Yuukai's funeral. Despite his physical absence at the graduation ceremony, I had somehow felt the aura of geniality his smiles always evoked. As upset as I had been at his passing – the breaking of his promise, though it was forgivable – it gave me great comfort to know his spirit was now in a better place. Perhaps he was now with his sister and brother-in-law.
Shortly after my graduation, I had been appointed a Junior Commanding Officer. Additionally, I had also been called to fill Yuukai's position as the Head Assignment Coordinator. Yuukai had held other positions, but others had been deemed more suited for them; even I hardly believed myself appropriate for the role of Welfare Officer. I had spent a short period in training for my position before beginning to work as coordinator. It would take time and experience before I reached the standards Yuukai had left behind, but I endeavoured to work to the best of my ability.
Hato remained a tenant in my home. She had grown considerably since our first encounter; her childlike innocence she still retained, but she was now more intelligent and of a quicker mind than she had previously been. Having a desire to further her education, she undertook several part-time studies within the academy, though it had been decided she was not required to complete assassin training. Her preferred course of study tended towards handicrafts and home economics. She missed Yuukai dearly, having seen him as a fatherly figure for the short time she had known him. In that respect, she had not been alone; each member of the Polaris community grieved over his loss.
The other agencies, naturally, had not ceased to operate. Many had hoped to gain ground on Polaris, but their pitiful efforts had had been in vain. Arcturus was among such agencies, but their poor performance dictated their low expectations. Others had also attempted to overtake Polaris by various means, but reports clearly indicated that their methods were miserably inadequate. The loss of one member, that member's superiority and heavy influence aside, did not necessarily prescribe the downfall of an entire network as Polaris; we were too industrious and too highly esteemed to even consider regression.
On the other hand, Albireo's name was all that remained of the agency; it had been small in numbers, high in activity but not nearly as productive as Polaris. The deaths of each known member of the small agency had been verified. Additionally, the entire base had reportedly been destroyed in an explosion that had occurred the year prior; all that had been found were smouldering ruins, ashes and the bodies of two male adolescents, one of whom had been confirmed dead while the other had been taken back to Polaris for immediate emergency treatment. It infuriated me that Albireo, even at the end of its life, had managed to take what little I'd had.
Tearing my gaze away from the picturesque countryside swiftly passing by, I glanced down at my wrists. Faint white scars on my wrists, barely visible against my pale skin, were part of the little tangible evidence of what had happened that night. The traitor's record had been marked accordingly, and Yuukai and Hato were perhaps the remainder of the evidence. I had provided an extensive account of my own experience for Polaris's archives, but there had otherwise been little record of the incident.
Upon returning to the school, I sent Hato, along with all others who had attended, back to class while I retreated to my office. While I might have been the current occupant of the office, I still considered the space as belonging to Yuukai. The room was noticeably tidier than it ever had been in Yuukai's time as coordinator, but from time to time I would find myself missing the messy sprawl of papers and stationery spilling across the carpet, or the jumble or books occupying the desktop and chairs. I had once, out of yearning and perhaps boredom, attempted to recreate the chaos within the office, but even in that Yuukai had far surpassed all.
As much as I missed my uncle, I knew he would not want tears shed in excess over his departure. In the past, he had often labelled death a grief that all have felt, and must feel. He had always believed strongly in progression as being of utmost importance and tended to discourage stagnation and idleness. I could only respect his wishes.
A few words he had spoken in the past stood out in my memory more clearly now that he was gone.
"The world is progressively deteriorating. Humanity is declining. It's plain to the sight, yet few seem to see. The world as it is should never be considered perfect, and it will be a long time before we're even close. Our line of work perhaps contributes greatly to that, but even without us, even without murder, humanity in its current state is very much flawed and imperfect."
As if to reaffirm Yuukai's point, a message alert flashed on the screen. I clicked the icon and tapped a few keys to view the message. It was a response to my search for further information on a particular assignment. The basic information had indicated that the owner of a small underground weaponry laboratory had requested the incapacitation of his main competitor. After further enquiry, I now had information that the laboratory not only developed weapons, but also formulated and distributed various illegal substances.
Naturally, Yuukai was right. The world in which we lived and breathed was far from perfect. Humanity was a long way away from perfection. But at the same time, it was something to be thankful for.
If the world were a perfect place, I would be out of a job.
A/N: Thanks for reading, I appreciate the support of all readers and especially reviewers. This is the end. There will be no official sequel, BUT I may compile a mini-story collection. Vote on the relevant poll on my profile page, please =)
I'd really appreciate any comments you have on the story and/or how to improve the writing. Thanks again for your support!