[Shorts] Raised by the State

The wrong shuttle

I recall the sense of fatigue. The kind that tunnels your vision and mutes the world around you. The term had been long and arduous as across the state funded primary academies teachers and pastoral staff ran hefty programs to identify the most suitable specialist subjects to add to our core curriculums. They would serve as our first division in curriculum before military conscription. Malkalen Academy, a distant subsidiary of the Kaalakiota Corporation, had not held back in it’s duties.

Hush fell across the classroom as our teacher walked in. I cannot remember her name but I can still picture the woman. A stern and imposing figure with the glare of a demon. “Afternoon students. This registration period will extend into your afternoon periods as your specialist subjects have been assigned to you. A communication will have been sent to your family residence, but it is tradition here at the academy for us to share them with you in your tutor group.” My fingers. I remember fidgeting as the absence of any groans belied the anxiousness of the moment. Even Galtter had shut up as the datapad became the focal point of attention. Yellow text through a blue translucent glass.

“We shall proceed through the class in student number order descending.

One Three Six. Kullelar Kobuya. Mathematics module A. Introduction to Engineering. Design and technical applications B. Introduction to astrophysics.

Two One Three. Galtter Nunta. Further Physical Education Module A. Introduction to Managerial Practice. New Eden History. Executive Module C.

Two Three One. Tallia Thorn. Mathematics module A. Statistics module A. Introduction to Data Science. Introduction to Galactic Trade.

“Two Four Seven. Hitotaka Yonesen…”

Memory plays fickle tricks. It distils the personally important from the whole and saves in bit sized package form. Alters facts for convenient fiction. I’ve tried to recall the rest of that registration, but all I can dredge up is the feeling of confusion. Of hazy disorientation. That panicked feeling of boarding the wrong shuttle. Come on. We’ve all done it at least once.

“Miss. Please may I ask a question?” The class had gone and I stand across from Miss Yonesen with my student-pad tucked under my arm. With curt nod and expectant look I know to proceed. “Have I been assigned the incorrect subjects? I was hoping to have be-“

“Your subject assignments are correct, Tallia.” Through the hazy glass of her desk-pad I can see the profile Miss Yonesen brings up. The image of a fourteen year old girl with brown eyes. Shoulder length hair. The twinge of a smile that just passed ID regulation. Performance graphs. Observation logs. Family history. Financial payments. “Your scores in mathematics, the sciences and analytical subjects strongly suggest your aptitude lies in those domains. Genealogy analysis suggests that you are ill suited for pursuing advanced physical studies, as do biometric markers during stress test sessions. Your family histo-“


“Do not interrupt me, Tallia. The Thorn family history has a long ling of superb service as analytical technicians within several Kaalakiota corporations, and there is little reason to believe you could not contin-“

“Miss, I want to see the stars. I want to go to space an-“

“Tallia.” I can recall her expression of furrowed brow and concerned smile still. The memory feels of anger, yet I can see the caring impulse in her eyes. “Do you wish to do the most that you can for your family?” I nod. “Do you wish to do the most you can for yourself?” I nod. “Do you wish to do the most you can for the State?”

“Of course.”

“With diligence and hard work, these subjects are where you can start doing the most you can do. Your parents spent a great deal to get you into this academy so that we can guide you into fulfilling that potential.”

“…Ok. Thank you, Miss.”

An audible sigh of relief left someone’s lips, though whose it was I could not say.


A clear path

“Tallia Thorn, Candidate Two Three One. I understand that you have been appealing against your assignment for mandatory military conscription period. Pray tell as to why?”

“Yes, sir.” Shifting in the uncomfortable plasti-fiber chair, I recall trying to keep eye contact with the corporate executive sitting across from me. My attention was mostly kept on the dual red tick pin badge on the lapel of his suit. Reflecting the lamp of his desk into my eye, it was difficult to ignore. “Whilst I concede that my suitability assessments from initial pathway allocation to conscription do highlight a proficiency for the role of ‚Procurement and Supply operative‘, the role does not fulfil a need to deliver on my other capabilities or patriotic duties to the state as a serving Naval combatant, Sir.” A statement refined and rehearsed at least a hundred times before this disciplinary. I needed this.

The executive’s silence took me by surprise. Expecting to be shot down like as military officials had done with her appeals, instead he merely raised his brow and got up from his chair. Straightening his suit and walked to the window that overlooked a fountain square of the office district. I watch him with a quizzical expression for what felt like minutes, at least, before he beckoned me over.

"Tell me what you see.“

“Ikume Square.” I glance at him, and the expectant look he gave made it clear he was looking for some embellishment. “Caldari going about their business. Business officials, maintenance workers, traders, engineers… children playing on the fountain.” An involuntary smile broke through my rehearsed guarded persona.

“What do they all have in common? Why are they so diligent and so energetic in their work? In their lives? What drives this kaleidoscope of activity?”

“…money? Profit? Competition?”

“Survival. Survival underpins the Caldari in every sense.” The executive smile conveyed his confident smugness in luring me into his monologue; yet his tone betrayed a sternness. His eyes betrayed his sincerity. „Yes, money and profit are important. Yet to set upon a pile of gold for the sake of it is pointless. One cannot eat gold. One cannot drink it. One cannot sleep within it and one cannot defend oneself with it. What currency can do is facilitate these primal needs. The promise of it incentivises the growth of food. The exchanging of it can build us shelter. The utilisation of it can build the means to defend ourselves and our interests."

He began to walk back to his desk, as I remained looking out at the window. “Profit is pointless in itself, unless it is directed to the good of the State and it’s people. Excessive greed and profiteering can degrade the foundations of strength. Careful nurturing of competitive forces under a guiding hand enhances. Gives the Caldari people the drive and means to survive.”

I turn to face him, watching him carefully as he delivers his point. “Your conscription assignment is not a punishment, Tallia. It is the essence of this truth. The duty assigned to you is to optimise the provision of the equipment that Naval operatives will require in the field. Without careful and considered execution, the operatives under your division shall lack the strength required to succeed in their duty. If you fail to overcome your competition, then so shall they. Their patriotic duties start and rely with yours.”

Startled by the executives direct delivery, I make my way to sitting in that accursed plasti-fiber chair as his words rattle around in my mind. It is hard to recall how long we may have both sat there, but he was the first to break the silence. “If you are determined to follow through with your appeal, I shall sign a war-”

“That shan’t be necessary, sir. I withdraw my appeal.” His warm, sincere smile must have become infectious, as I remember my own lips mirroring his. A sense of purpose. A path that made sense. A path with meaningful consequence. Finally.

“Excellent. When you return from your conscription service, I wish to speak with you again. I may have an opportunity for you, depending on your performance in driving our Navy to be the best it can be.”

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