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By: Irwin Kwan

Author's Note: I don't like these, so I'll keep it short. This fiction contains spoilers for Disk 2. I'd also like to thank Amber Michelle for her continuing contriubtions and support.

Why must we feel pain to live?
Why cannot we feel just love and joy?
It would be easier that way.

You may love yourself, and others too.
But this kind of love gets you nowhere.
So how do we make all people happy?
How do we make it so love is right?

It's not the giving, nor the receiving.
Not the self, or others alone.
It is the sharing of love that matters,
The exchange between people that counts.

      Emeralda watched Elly embrace the fallen reaper. Blood flowed off of her wounded palm into the fallen Wels‚ mouth, feeding him his few last moments of pleasure before his death. Her pale face looked over the Big Sulfural Mass. Elly‚s blue eyes and dark eyelashes were stained with her tears.
      Elly was so merciful, Emeralda thought. But I feel bad. I helped kill him.
      Emeralda took a glance at the monster once more, trying not to recoil in disgust. The face was stretched tightly across the skull so tightly that it looked as if the skin was burned right off , revealing the muscles underneath. The creature emitted a horrible smell that instilled turmoil even in her nanomachine senses. But the lipless mouth smiled as its eyes closed. Elly‚s thick crimson blood dripped from her hand and fell on the creature‚s chin.
      The Big Sulfural Mass, his eyes closed and his face turned up in a slight smile of content, ceased to move.
      Citan offered the auburn-haired woman a cloth to patch her wounded hand. „Here, Elly,š he said.
      „Thank you, Citan,š Elly replied curtly in her soft, but assertive voice. She wrapped the cloth tightly around the wide gash on her hand, then handed his sword back to him with a bow. She turned around to address the other mutants who were infected with the mutation virus that Krelian had spread over the earth. Her blood dribbled slowly through the cloth. A drop fell, hitting the ground and splashing into a multitude of small, red spheres that stained the ground.
      Elly‚s speech to the mutated humans was lost on Emeralda as she reflected upon the moments that she had just witnessed. She reached a hand up to her mouth, adjusting the scarf around her face. The scarf helped to hide her inner thoughts. Behind the white scarf, only her tanned nose and her brown eyes showed from under thick, emerald-coloured hair.
      Emeralda had tried wrestling the idea in her mind that killing the Wels was merciful and right, but something didn‚t seem right about it in her mind.
      Elly‚s voice droned in the background. „Come with us, and we‚ll try our best. We won‚t destroy you like Solaris will. We might not be able to help all of you. But I hope you will let us try.š
      őTry‚ was the catch-word nowadays, Emeralda thought. There was only so much a human being could do. Even herself, a nanomachine colony, couldn‚t solve all the problems of the world.
      She tried to relate to humans, but they were often intimidated by her perfect appearance or her ability to adjust her physical form at will. They stayed away from her when she visited towns with Elly and Fei.
      Emeralda did her best to try to let others accept her. She tried. But trying wasn‚t good enough.
      But, as Maria had said once, „Sometimes, trying too hard is the problem.š

      She was thinking about this during the entire trip back to the Yggdrasil.
      After over half a year living closely with the crew of the ship, it was now quite obvious when Emeralda was bothered by something. Although Fei would have loved to help her, he found himself totally unable to relate with her; she had an uncomfortable habit of calling him őKim‚ and asking about his views about life. Fei was often overwhelmed by her questions and her outlook. More than once, Bart found Fei in his room, staring at the ceiling, trying to sort things out.
      Today didn‚t seem to be much different.