After the Secret Missions

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Omega Wing (Vigrid System)

I was tired of combat, of death, of flying, and of space. I wanted to feel grass under my feet and wind against my face. I wanted to talk about things other than ships, weapons, strategy, and tactics. People who hadn't experienced war in space could never under-stand the complex emotions it evoked. I wished I hadn't either.

I never had any doubts about our goals. I was ecstatic that we'd destroyed the Kilrathi weapon that had taken the lives of a quarter-million colonists. The Confederation had no choice in the path it had taken. I guess it was the conversation with Paladin, where he brought up the issue of genocide, that started me thinking.

How can you really win a war when the only apparent solution is the outright destruction of an entire species? That's one issue that had never come up in the ethics classes at the space academy. It's also an issue I'd never considered when I signed up to become a combat pilot.

When I was young, my heroes were the men and women who fought in space. It looked exciting, with the opportunity to see things that most people only saw in holo-vids. Fighter pilots were the cream of the crop, the best and brightest, most fearless and brave. At least that's what I thought.

I'd only been in space for 18 months, but I felt like a 20-year veteran. At this point I realized that the steely look I saw in the faces of pilots when I was young actually revealed a numbness born of living with death and destruction. It was something you could never get used to. The thrill I felt the first time I blasted a Kilrathi ship had been replaced by the realization that I was also destroying a life. An evil life, perhaps, but a life nevertheless. I wondered if Kilrathi pilots felt the same way.

Looking back at my feelings at the time, I realize I was exhausted by the intensity of the missions in Kilrathi space. Becoming a fighter pilot hadn't matched my expectations, but I knew the job we were doing was one that had to be done. You really can't worry about the destruction of a species that's intent on eliminating you.

I also realized that watching Maniac try to deal with his personal demons was having an effect. Whenever I thought of what he was going through, I understood that it could just as easily be me. That was scary.

I headed for the bar.

Next Entry:
The Secret Missions 2: Operation Crusade
The Firekka Treaty - Finding an Ally