Awake and Alive
"I'm at war with the world and they
Try to pull me into the dark
I struggle to find my faith
As I'm slippin' from your arms
It's getting harder to stay awake
And my strength is fading fast."
—Skillet, Awake and Alive
I stared at Zoë, unable to believe what I was hearing. I did not need saving. I'd done my part for the Balance ten years ago. I'd sacrificed everything to restore Balance to Stark and Arcadia, and now she thought I was involved in something greater, something more important, than the war with the Azadi? No. It was impossible. I was no longer the April Ryan she thought I was. I was the leader of the rebels, fighting a war for the good of the people. She had to accept that. She had to accept that I'd lost my faith the moment I'd seen the Vanguard gun down my friends ten years ago. She had to accept that I was no longer a part of her world of Stark. Arcadia was my home now, and as much as I missed my friends—Charlie, Emma…—I couldn't Shift back to Stark even if I wanted to.
And, more than anything, I saw myself in Zoë. She looked lost and confused and unable to figure out what the hell was going on. Exactly how I had felt when I had first Shifted to Arcadia with Cortez's assistance. I didn't want her life to be turned completely upside down, the way mine had when I'd embarked on the longest journey of my life a decade ago.
I had a chance to send her home so she could live her normal life, and forget all about the Balance and her visions about the little girl and the black house in a frozen, barren land. And I had to take it.