Warnings: Angst and spoilers for episode 24: "Ubiquitous Righteousness".
It took forever for me to breathe normally again.
From the moment Admiral Kusakabe told me my mission until even now, as I remember what I had done, every breath I took was slow and deliberate and shared a multitude of emotions that I should never have felt.
Ever since that day, ever since Admiral Kusakabe gave me those strict and precise orders, I have never breathed a sigh of relief or happiness. A breath of justice, righteousness, or heroism never escaped, for I no longer have any to exhale. All of such positive, redeeming emotions escaped when I told Admiral Kusakabe that I understood; I would honorably assassinate Tsukumo Shiratori.
I would honorably assassinate Tsukumo Shiratori, the man who fell for a disgusting Earth woman, the man who sided with the Earth scum, and the man who endangered his own sister with illusions of peace.
I would honorably assassinate Tsukumo Shiratori, my best friend.
I would honorably murder the best friend I ever had.
I had murdered the one man who made my life worth living.
There is nothing honorable about it.
No matter what words Admiral Kusakabe used to reassure me with, I will surely and slowly suffer in Hell for what I have done.
Why did I agree to it? Why did I agree to assassinate Tsukumo? I could have disobeyed the Admiral's wishes. I could have suffered demotion, torture, or even death so that Tsukumo may live. I could have betrayed my superior instead of my best friend or all of my people instead of my best friend, and Tsukumo would have still been alive. There would have been no deaths. The war would have been at an end by now. Or...
... he could have found somebody else to do it.
Why didn't I suggest for somebody else to do it?
I could have saved Tsukumo even then.
Or... I would never have committed such a treacherous act...
... and I wouldn't be left to suffer like I am.
Why did I do it?
What a stupid question. I know why. I know perfectly why I agreed. I know exactly why I told Admiral Kusakabe that I would honorably carry out this mission.
Tsukumo took away all hope from me.
Miss Nanako is not real. I know that. Ever since I met Tsukumo, I have always known that. But Tsukumo tried to teach me that she was the ideal woman to fall for, and I made him believe that he was right. He IS right. Miss Nanako is the ideal woman. But even if she did exist, I wouldn't care to get her for myself. I would let Tsukumo have her since Tsukumo was the one who initially believed that she was the only woman worth falling for, and therefore, he would deserve her.
But she would not deserve him.
Since she didn't exist, I always had a sense of relief. There was a chance. As long as he believed that Miss Nanako was a woman who could exist in real life and I believed otherwise, I had a chance. It was against everything we were raised to be as proud Jovians, but moral codes shouldn't stop me from hoping and dreaming.
And then that Earth woman came in between us, and Tsukumo finally saw what I saw.
Had the circumstances been different, I would have been elated.
But it was an Earth woman! An Earth woman who Tsukumo planned to propose to! I couldn't stand for it. I couldn't stand for his treachery.
That was why I agreed to assassinate him. I needed to exact revenge.
It was too much. Tsukumo now needs to avenge his own death somehow... or the Earth woman could. Yukina was wrong. She did not deceive Tsukumo, for she was truly in love with him as well.
When I realized that and finally saw it with my own eyes, my first breaths of regret escaped.
But when I first accepted the mission, my breathing was restricted for fear and fear only. Every time I looked at the gun, I would ask myself what I was doing, why I was doing it, and what I would be accomplishing by doing it. I would ask myself how I would be able to pull the trigger. But before any self-doubt could fully infest my soul, the conversation Tsukumo and I had before he left for the Nadesico returned.
Miss Nanako was not real.
Tsukumo finally realized that all too late... or all too early.
We left each other on such bitter terms for the last time. We would never talk to each other ever again.
I will suffer in Hell for this.
When Tsukumo came back to the ship, I was appalled to see that the Earth woman was with him. My anger returned, and as the talks continued, my rage continued to boil.
How dare he be deceived by the Earthlings?
Gekigangar told of the evil empire, and Earth was the evil empire. He had been fooled. Love makes one blind, and with his feelings for that Earth woman, his world was completely dark. The Earthlings had deceived him completely, and there was no turning him back.
So I pulled the trigger.
I shot him out of hatred, anger, and mercy.
I regretted it the moment the Earth woman screamed his name and cried over his dying body.
I ran from the room.
And I sobbed.
That scene burned itself into my memories, and it will haunt me for the rest of my life.
Love makes one blind.
It applied to more than one person in this whole mess. It applied not only to Tsukumo but to myself as well. Our bond was too strong, and while I knew what I was doing, I wasn't thinking rationally enough. Our misunderstanding could have been resolved within time, but because Tsukumo wanted the war to end as quickly as possible, we never had any peace talks of our own. Our misunderstanding was our downfall.
Admiral Kusakabe is telling our people lies. Tsukumo had died by Jovian hands, not by an Earthling assassin. This was to be a fuel to keep the war going, but I disagree with it entirely.
I killed Tsukumo.
I killed the beloved commander.
Not the Earthlings.
What had I done?
I stare at the picture of Tsukumo, Yukina, and myself. It was an honest picture of a time long past, before we were concerned about the war. I had been the comedian, Tsukumo the happy-go-lucky one, and despite being the youngest, Yukina was the one who kept us out of trouble. She was the mature one. We were a more ideal trio than Ken, Joe, and Akira. We were the best of friends.
Tsukumo once laughed at the prospect of Yukina and I getting married, but he only laughed whenever somebody mentioned ME getting married to her someday. Whenever somebody suggested someone completely different to be Yukina's husband, Tsukumo would fall into his "overprotective big brother" mode and glare at the one who said it. Tsukumo only saw me worthy of Yukina; I wonder what Tsukumo would think now.
I never agreed to it of course, and neither did Yukina. I always called her lazy, unable to cook, unable to clean, not at all beautiful... anything but the ideal housewife. Yukina called me oppressive, obsessive, and obnoxious. Tsukumo would always laugh in response, claiming that we were already getting along as husband and wife. We promptly committed some form of violence on him, such as hitting him with whatever was in our grasp or smacking him upside the head. I remember pushing him into a swimming pool one time; THAT was hilarious.
But Tsukumo always continued to laugh.
I will miss those days... because those days will forever be replaced by the single gunfire that took place that night.
Tsukumo and I were school buddies. We had known each other since elementary school, and we grew up watching Gekigangar together. We designated roles for ourselves, which is why we look so similar to Ken and Joe. Tsukumo and I dyed our hair and styled it to look similar to the Gekigangar main characters, and we were lucky that we were descendants of nobility and had been high-ranking in the military schools. Otherwise, the punishment would have been horrid.
Yukina always scoffed at our obsession. She had always been the most mature of the three of us. However, she did get playful from time to time and told me that I was to be the first to die, and that I would do so in battle. Tsukumo glared at her and told her that unlike Joe, I was too strong to die. He wouldn't let me die first.
When he said that for the first time, a warm feeling ignited inside of my heart, and I knew I had found a friend worth dying for.
But Tsukumo was wrong.
I was right.
Although he died before I had, he didn't do it protecting my life. I wasn't too strong to die, I was too weak. I was too weak to save his life, and therefore, I killed him.
But I truly had found a friend worth dying for...
... because I am dying now.
"Let's Gekiga-In!" the crowd roars.
I scowl and tear the photograph in half.
I can no longer hang on to reminders of my happy days. Those days will never return to me. I will forever be haunted by the gunshot the night Tsukumo was assassinated... by me.
I will allow myself to forever be haunted by the night I murdered my best friend.
It is my Hell, the Hell that is best suited for me and only me. Not the Earth woman. Not the rest of the Earthlings that were there that night.
They don't deserve it.
I will suffer in Hell for what I have done, but fate will not let me wait until I die.
I will not wait until I die to suffer...
I've earned it now.
This is my Hell, living with dishonor and guilt. This is my Hell, sharing a lie with the rest of the Jovian population when I know the truth. This is my Hell, knowing that there are two sides to every story.
This is my Hell, having one question dance in my head for the rest of eternity:
Tsukumo... my best friend... will he ever forgive me?
~ Owari ~
Translation Notes: "Mokusei" means "Jupiter"