A Question of Responsibility
Tonight was the night: he was going to reveal his most precious, valuable item in his hangar. Tonight, he would show his baby to the world, to be envied over, to be salivated over. Tonight, he was the star of the show, for who could possibly steal the limelight from him, and his beautiful, beautiful ship? To be fair, tonight was about Capsuleer Unity, and other fluff, but once he made his big reveal, all else would be forgotten. He had already spoken to his crew, and selected the lucky members to be the ones flying this wonderful piece of death-dealing artwork. He had chosen one of his most trusted captain’s son to be the commanding officer… under himself, of course. The question now was, “what SKIN?” He opened the door to his hangar and pulled up his tablet. Wait, there was something he had forgotten. Of course! This hulking war machine needed no SKIN. Its deadly black chassis with the lighter highlights along the edge of the wings was pure beauty, illustrating the efficiency and elegance that the Caldari were known for. With that settled, he strode out from his hangar and into the crew quarters.
“Is everybody ready for tonight?” he asked, and was met with a resounding roar. Although he had sworn them to secrecy about the subject of tonight’s flight, they were abuzz with excitement and engrossed in the history and specs of their ship. His captain was there, briefing his son on the intricacies of etiquette as the Officer on deck. He strode over to them, smiling at his crew as he went.
“Are you ready to be the main event of all of New Eden?” he asked the pale looking boy. The boy paled even further, and his father laughed at his nervous expression.
“He was already scared to death of flying your most prized ship,” the captain said, admonishingly.
“Well, I’m sure he’ll be perfectly capable of this, seeing as it isn’t much of a combat op, more like a parade,” he said as he smiled warmly at the youth. The young man looked reassured, straightened his spine, and strode into the hangar, to finish the pre-flight checks.
“I’m just going to prep up and get ready to go fly the… Oh my god I’mactuallyabouttoflythe…” was heard as he excitedly ran for the flight deck door.
“Well, this is it. I really wished you could have been up there with me, old friend,” he said.
“Yeah, maybe I’d like to be there too, but my son will do perfectly fine. Thanks for giving him this opportunity, anyways. I’ll be watching on the holos.”
He retired to his room, waiting for the flight crew to finish up.
There was a knock at the door. When he opened it, his assistant was standing there, holding a tablet, already chattering about something or other that happened on the net today. However, something cut through the thoughtless blabber.
“Wait, wait, did you say somebody threatened the event tonight?!”
“Uh-huh, some anonymous user posted a threat on the forums, and it can be seen across almost every thread. The posters are different people, though, so CONCORD has given this threat some credibility.”
“They aren’t going to cancel it, are they?” He asked incredulously. “CONCORD already has so much security around, the only thing that can possibly interrupt this is the entirety of the Minmatar Republic attacking it, and even then, their scrap ships wouldn’t last for long.”
“Well, whatever it is, it’ll probably be alright. Just worry about your ship.”
He called up the youthful commander, and told him to load a mobile depot and some cruise launchers onto the ship. Just to be careful.
It was a great feeling to be in space again, away from the pressures and stress of his administration, and especially away from the prying questions of his Caldari-Capsuleer Liaison.
“Captain, go ahead and go full speed ahead, let’s join the procession,” he ordered, unable to hide the excitement in his voice.
As soon as they came on grid, their comms were completely jammed with attempts at hailing them, all of the messages being some form of “How the HELL did you find yourself an RSI?” The commander basked in the glory, proudly taking his place at the front of the line.
Soon, the call came online to fleet up and prepare to warp into Jita. As the front of the procession, he and his ship were given the honor of being the Vanguard, along with a Marshal, setting up the landing zone for the rest of the fleet.
“Jita Command, this is the LDR Mannetjeseened, are we cleared yet for fleet warp and cynosural field generation?”
No response came across the waves.
“Jita Command, please respond”
Not even static.
He contacted the fleet commander, asking what was up, but she didn’t know. He called up his assistant, asking her to check out what was going on at Jita. The only reply was “Go ahead and jump,” so he activated the warp drive. The Marshal beside him attempted to hail, telling him to hold until they could get more info. But some random technical issues would not stop him from taking his glory,the hard work over months, interviewing Caldari officals, bribing people for parts and to look the other way as he assembled his masterpiece. Then…
As soon as he jumped, he realized something was wrong, he couldn’t warp to the landing zone. Some prankster had set up an interdiction bubble! Right in Jita! He told the boy to set up the Mobile Depot, and fit the ship into launchers, so he could show this idiot who he was dealing with. Then he saw, not one ship, but many. So, so many ships faced him. The shocked officer called up to him that there was target lock.
He replied only “eject” before any more talk was drowned out by the impact of thirty-two smartbombs impacting. Then, that sound was in turn drowned out by a more powerful silence .
He woke up, of course, to see his liaison to the Caldari staring at him. He groaned, sighed, and sat up, asking her what she wanted. She had a look on her face, a look of disgust and anger.
“Do you know what you’ve done?”
“Other than lose my most precious ship and possibly my entire crew? Why are you looking at me like that?” He noticed something. “Why am I chained to the bed?”
“What ship did you lose, ignorant capsuleer?”
He wondered what that had to do with it. “A Raven State Issue, why?”
“There is a protocol for this, for the dishonor of losing that ship”
Yeah, he knew all about it, it’s not like he didn’t do his research.
“Yeah, whatever, I’ll die another death, it’s not like I have any implants left.”
She smirked, and told him that a tribunal was meeting in half an hour, to discuss. He had to be there.
“Okay, I’ll kill myself, yadayadayada, let’s just get this farce of a meeting over,” he said, attempting to rise out of his chair to leave.
“SIT DOWN, sir, we are not finished. You have disgraced the Caldari, by losing one of our most prized ships, something done only once before, and never by a capsuleer. As such, we have decided that your death cannot make up for the great dishonor you have brought upon yourself and upon the race you called your own.”
“Whatever, what do you want me to do. I can pay a fine, sure”
“No. You will atone for your foolish mistake, and you will experience death before you are released… only it will not be your own.”
“W-what do you mean? You’re going to kill someone?”
“Yes. And it will be you who chooses who will die.”
He stuttered, unable to comprehend what they wanted. Was he supposed to kill one of his family? Or what did they want from him. His family were all capsuleers, so their stupid punishment wasn’t going to affect them either.
“Your crew survived, by the way.”
He felt a kindling of joy, glad that he hadn’t caused the deaths of so many, only for it to be stolen away by an impossible feeling of guilt and horror.
“You will select the one to die from your crew”
He fell to the floor, desolate, as pre-emptive waves of guilt began to roll over him. Who could it be? He had spent too long with them, suffered too many hardships, to sentence one to death. How could he possibly do this?
He thought to himself, later, “Maybe I should just pick at random? Yes, I’ll do that.” He went over to the crew quarters, and, with a trembling hand, opened it, where several of his crew members were healing from their ordeal, having dealt with explosions and laser impacts trying to escape in the Heron he had in the escape bay.
“I have an announcement to make,” he said, standing on a bunk to get everyone’s attention. “Everybody is going to put their name into this hat, and we are going to draw a name. My liaison here will draw, and the winner will have a surprise for them.”
He began passing around the hat, and once it was filled with the names, he passed it to the woman next to him, but she pulled not one, but five names.
Giving them to him, she said, “ You will take the ultimate responsibility for this. I will not leave it up to chance.”
He looked at the names. One, a custodian he had assigned to the ship, two, a minor munitions officer he had spent five years with, three, the navigation officer who had gotten him out of countless tight spots. Four, was an intelligence officer, who technically worked for the Caldari Navy. He didn’t like them much, but he couldn’t bear even imagining killing someone because he didn’t like them. But the last name…This one was too much. When he saw En Welle as the last name, he couldn’t help but be shocked. His closest friend wasn’t even on the ship when the incident occurred! How could they think of putting him on this dreadful list? Then the realization hit him. This was not Magda, no, this was worse. One En Welle was not on the ship, but there was another. His Son.
Racked with guilt, and the pain of his new clone’s growing bones, he went to his dorm to sleep. However, any sleep he got was not rest, due to his nightmares of all the death defying events he had gone through with this crew. But the latest, one of an ejection pod not launching, of a young boy being consumed in an explosion, was the worst.
He woke up, felling worse than ever, contemplating the decision that had to be made by tonight. Who did he think should die? Himself, of course. He had flaunted this ship, not caring for the bait his ship had been, the gleaming eyes of pirates and capsuleers alike. Why did he do such an idiotic thing?
He choked down a booster to let him more logically, without the burden of emotion. Already it was taking effect, as he contemplated the decision. Of course he should take some of them blame, but who else? Not registering names or the memories behind them, he made a decision.
“Cowardice is what we see here today, unparalleled cowardice. This creature, forced to make a decision that someone of his mindset simply could not, cast himself out of an airlock. Of course, none of his clones shall be regenerated, ever. He sought to protect his friends from the horror he had wrought upon them, failing to realize that of course, the Caldari Empire shall not give in to emotion. From here on out, let this set a precedent. Should this great dishonor come about again, especially if it is a capsuleer that brings about this horror, the commanding officer of the beloved ship shall be sentenced… To death.