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Author Topic: The Gate - Part 2  (Read 3917 times)

Callista Dalmore

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The Gate - Part 2
« on: November 18, 2015, 03:28:16 AM »

The Gate, part 2
by Callista Dalmore

“If interstellar trade is New Eden’s life blood, then the arteries which allow it to flow are our stargates.  These fantastic feats of engineering connect each and every known system; from hub to rim and back again uniting all of them, all of us, to be greater than the sum of the parts.  But for this organism to live, blood must flow to all its organs, all its parts.  Not just in the core; in the brain and in the heart and lungs but also at the periphery as well!  Why?  Because each cell that is cut off, will starve and will sicken and die.  This necrotic cell then becomes the spawning ground, the ground zero, for disease and infection.  Disease and infection which then spreads back from that one single festering cell and threaten the whole being!  It is thus not only important, it is thus even beyond critical, it is fundamental, that our stargates be maintained, that they be protected, that they be armed to fend off any threat.  Be it threats of old or new ones: rogue drones or the Drifter menace.  And this must be done efficiently, professionally and above all, impartially…”

Kjersidur Elladall, excerpt from the published transcripts of his address to the CONCORD Inner Circle conference, Yulai VIII - Inner Circle Tribunal, YC117.

Osarii looked out along the 4 kilometer length of the stargate from the Commander’s office and observed the repair crews, salvage teams and ambulance ships mop up the remnants of this morning’s events.  She blinked as the gate fired.  Traffic continued, completely oblivious.

“So the cargo was, in fact, medical supplies?”  asked Gate Commander Tol, provokingly.

“That’s what it says in my report, sir.” answered Osarii, attempting to remain calm.

“But it could have been, well, anything, could it not?” said Tol, trying again to make his point. He turned from his desk and also looked out at the myriad of scintillating ships working around the mass of the Stargate’s stabilization turrets.  “And if it had been, let’s say, fifteen million units of anti-personnel mines destined to some oppressive regime or another, would you still be standing here in my office?”

They let the question hang there between them.  Another Obelisk-class freighter warped in and queued to jump.  They watched it lumber into lane 4, catch the authorization and with a flash, disappear.

“Osarii, you are a talented pilot and a decorated officer but dammit, you are police!  We do not interpret laws. We enforce them.  D. E. D. Directive ENFORCEMENT, Department.  Get it? CONCORD makes the laws, DED enforces the laws.  There is no good or bad, there is no morality.  So the freighter was carrying medical supplies?  Destined for which side?  Who’s side would we have been on?  Neither side, that’s which side we’re on.  Because it doesn’t matter if the ship is carrying heavy ordnance or puppies being hugged by school kids:  if you’re flagged, you’re flagged and we will take you down.”

Tol paused and asked, “Now, have I made myself clear, or are we going to continue having this problem every time the perp and the vic don’t sit right with you?”.

“Permission to speak frankly, sir,” asked Osarii.

“Don’t get all formal with me Osarii, now’s the time,” said Tol, knowing in his heart what was to come but still hoping somehow, it would not.

Osarii turned and looked at Tol,  “Well sir, you say we are police, but I haven’t felt it in a long time.  You talk of impartiality but day after day, perp after perp...targets are selected, laws enforced, but to what end?  Peace? Safety?  No, that’s all just bullshit.  It’s fucking propaganda.  Because, really, it’s all about power.  DED is one of the most powerful corporations in New Eden. Why?  Because it’s a fucking monopoly!  From jump gates to system policing in every one of the thousands of Empire space systems, it’s all controlled by one corporation: DED.  And to keep that monopoly and keep all the owners happy we have to make damn sure to display that power whenever we can so that the average extractor worker all the way up to the CEO elite of elites can be swamped in a continuous media campaign with but one single message, ‘You need us’.  Well guess what, entire systems have gone dark to Sansha incursions and are we there?  No.  We stay in our ivory stations while trillions are spent on mercenary capsuleers.  It’s not impartiality that keeps us out, it’s the bottom line.  Cheaper to hire temporary mercs than to actually deploy an increased presence there. Oh, and bonus, the podders are smart enough to not bite the hand that feeds them.  Win fucking win.”

Tol, resigned, just kept his eyes on hers.

“It’s not just that, how about security in New Eden?” She continued, “Are we spreading peace and stability to more and more systems?  No.  When’s the last time a system actually raised its security status?  I’ll tell you when: fucking never, that’s when. And why is that?  Because you can’t have flashy illicit drug busts or massive shoot outs in peaceful law-abiding systems because there aren’t any.  And, whoops! There goes all your press, all your media, all your advertising, all your recruiting.  So we come to this morning.  Perfect example.  Were there, in fact, any actual incentives for us to save that freighter?  Absolutely none.  Our fourteen-battlecruiser-kill-report goes back to Central, they can point to the numbers and say to everyone ‘Hey! look how much safer you all are, and, bonus: these bad guys we’re real tough ‘cause they had logistics support as well!’  Because you know and I know that no one actually reads our fucking reports.  And then the media is going to be all over the medical supplies and as usual Central will get their media relations charlatans in and tomorrow or the next day we’ll have a nice statement, something along the lines of ‘We neutralized the attackers but if we just had a little more budget we could have avoided this tragedy.  Queue the violins, cut to a child placing a wreath on a gravestone.’

Osarii paused, catching her breath.  Then, as Tol remained silent, asked, “Tell me I’m wrong!”

Tol had stopped listening a while back.  He’d heard it all before, hell, he’d even said some of those arguments himself.  But that was a long time ago.  He kept looking into Osarii’s eyes.

What he saw there, he’d seen in a thousand pairs of eyes and would see it in a thousand more:  the burning fury towards injustice.  The view that there was, in fact, right and wrong in the world.  The view that you could actually make a difference if you righted every wrong.  It was a view tolerated, at times even encouraged in the recruits.  It motivated so many of them.

But with time, one comes to the realization that in the universe,  there is no good, there is no evil, right or wrong.  There is just form and formlessness.  Order and chaos.   To Tol, DED was form was order.  In Osarii’s eyes all he saw was passion and chaos.

“You’re done.” he said.

“I haven’t even gotten started,” answered Osarii.

“It wasn’t a question, Osarii, you’re done,” said Tol. “This interview is over.  You’re out.  Guards.” 

“What?  That’s it?  After eight fucking years?  What, did I strike a chord, Tol?  Hmm?  Too fucking truthful for you?” cried Osarii as two heavily armed security personnel entered the office.

“Apprehend officer Laprairie and escort her to hangar 6.  Have her personal effects brought to her there.” ordered Tol.

As the guards seized Osarii’s arms and forced her towards the door, she cried over her shoulder, “We could have fucking saved them you asshole!  It’s on you, Tol, it’s on fucking, you!  You’re a fucking robot, Tol.  A fucking mindless drone. Fuck you!”

He let the door close behind them. The Gate Commander sat down slowly on his chair and swiveled it so he could look out at the orderly rows of traffic lining up to his gate.

“No, Osarii,” he thought, “I am simply at peace with myself.”

The gate flashed.

« Last Edit: November 18, 2015, 04:29:15 AM by Callista Dalmore »