The 296 meter long Thorax class cruiser slowly maneuvered towards the acceleration gate. The gate itself was 15 kilometers long and the technology reached back to expansion era of the empires that survived the great EVE gate collapse. This one was constructed by the Serpentis Corporation leading to one of their many hidden drug laboratories within Gallente space. As the cruiser reached a distance of 2000 meters it started to align with the gate. A few seconds’ later blue electrical lights surged along the gate and the cruiser and its 176 man crew was accelerated and warped to the hidden Serpentis drug laboratory.
Gaylan felt nauseous when then ship exited warp. Even though it had only been a short jump he still got affected by it. The first week he had suffered from jump sickness a lot, but his body had somehow adjusted to the warping and now it was only minor annoyances associated with the warping. He checked his monitors and holo projectors and quickly assessed the situation.
“Seven frigates and three cruisers.. Range 30 kilometers” he announced to the other five members on the bridge. “No reaction or hostile actions yet. It is like they don’t know we are here”
There was no captain on the bridge. This was a capsuleer ship and none of the crew members had ever seen the capsuleer. Not as far as he knew. They had heard her a few times on the intercom when she had addressed the crew. He assumed it was a woman. However the voice could be altered for several reasons.
The captain as he called her steered the ship towards a small bunker sitting close to a large asteroid. The bunker which after a quick scan was confirmed to be the drug laboratory was orbited by two sentry guns defending it against intruders.
They were 25 kilometers away from the bunker when the Serpentis reacted.
The frigates, all Daredevil class, quickly closed range with the cruiser and opened fire. Gaylan felt a rush of adrenalin as the combat started but that only made him more focused. His fingers danced across the keyboard and screens calling up schematics on the enemy ships and weapon systems.
The capsuleer quickly targeted the frigates and before Gaylan knew of it the five blaster cannons started spewing hybrid charges furiously at the first Daredevil frigate. At the same time Gaylan heard the characteristic sound of drones being unleashed from the belly of the cruiser. The drones, Hobgoblin II’s, zoomed straight towards the cruisers and quickly swarmed their first victim.
“Our shields are gone” an operator across the room said in a calm voice “Armor taking damage. Standby for Reppers.”
Gaylan returned his attention on the Daredevil again. The capsuleer let the blaster cannons dance across the frigate in a violent ballet relieving it of its shield and quickly stripping away its armor. Gaylan zoomed in on the daredevil and both horrified and amazed at the same time he saw how the hybrid charges ripped the ship apart exposing the hull and interior of the frigates to the cold emptiness of space. He saw the poor crewmembers of the frigates get sucked into space dying as their lungs collapsed and their bodies froze. Within a few minutes all the frigates had been dealt with. The bridge was silent.
The capsuleer put the Thorax closer to the bunker and concentrated on the remaining Serpentis cruisers. Gaylan was amazed with the speed and the daft maneuvering from the capsuleer. Again the exchange of fire between the Thorax and the Serpentis cruisers was like seeing a dance of death. Gaylan felt as if he was watching a holoreel. It was all so surreal and even though he knew that he could end as one of those poor frozen bastards out there he was never really afraid. This wasn’t his first combat engagement and it wasn’t going to be his last.
As the last cruiser exploded and the drones destroyed the sentry guns the thorax established an orbit around the Serpentis bunker. The drones returned to the drone bay and the blaster cannons settled back in their idle stations and reloaded.
Gaylan realized he had been holding his breath and let out a sigh. Apparently he wasn’t the only one. There was chatting among the rest of the crew on the bridge. Some even laughed a nervously. Another encounter survived. Another mission completed.
They orbited the bunker for several minutes while other crew members went out into the emptiness of space and into the wrecks of Serpentis ships stripping them of anything valuable.
To Gaylans surprise the blaster cannons swung back into action. The bunker was targeted and within seconds the bunker started falling apart. A few escape pods were launched, but Gaylan knew the several thousand people, innocent probably – woman and children, was dying a short and violent death as the bunker stopped to exist in a bright and blinding explosion.
Suddenly Gaylan wished he were somewhere else…
1 week later Gaylan sat in one of the many bars of the station. The crew had been given a 24 hours leave and most of them spend it either in bars or brothels. He sat by himself slowly sipping his drink. The bar was almost empty even though it wasn’t late. He didn’t mind that. He needed to think because the episode a week prior had been on his mind constantly.
“You look worried”
He looked up startled. A red-haired woman was standing next to him. He hadn’t heard her walk up to him, but then again he had been deep in his own thoughts. She was pretty. Long red hair, high cheekbones and freckles. She had a slender build and reached him to the shoulder. she somehow seemed familiar.
“Did I startle you?” she said with a smirk.
He cleared his throat. “oh.. I didn’t see you coming… yeah a bit” he laughed.
“Can I sit?” she said and took a seat next to him before he could answer. She ordered the same thing he was drinking.
“So care to share?” she asked him directly.
A little too directly for his taste but there was something about her that made him want to share his concern. Maybe because he hadn’t been with a woman for some time.
He told her about the episode with the serpentis and the unjust killing of the civilians in the bunker. He let out his frustration towards the capsuleer piloting the flying coffin he had embarked. He let go of his frustration about being a pawn without rights. Being a puppet controlled by a mad puppet master or in this case mistress. What had triggered it was the killing of the innocent people in the Serpentis bunker.
He sighed and stopped his rant. His glass was empty. She ordered him a new drink.
“So it was okay to kill the Serpentis crew in their frigates and cruisers but not the ones in the bunker?” she asked. He nodded.
“It is perfectly possible for a just war to be fought unjustly and for an unjust war to be fought in strict accordance with the rules.” she said and looked him straight in the eyes. “The Serpentis is an abomination and a threat to Gallente society and therefore they must be removed.”
She took a sip of her drink and continued
“Capsuleers or soldiers, like yourself, do not, of course, have a right to kill just anyone. Combatants are permitted to kill only opposing combatants. This is, indeed, the traditional understanding of the central requirement of discrimination. All combatants, just and unjust alike, must discriminate between combatants and noncombatants, intentionally attacking only the former and not the latter. This way of interpreting the requirement to discriminate between legitimate and illegitimate targets is so deeply entrenched that we typically reserve the pejorative term ‘terrorism’ for acts that violate the requirement, so understood—that is, for acts of violence intentionally directed against noncombatants as a means of achieving aims of a broadly political nature.”
She looked at him and said “follow?” He didn’t but was intrigued by where she was going with this so he nodded.
“So your concern is that you were part of slaughtering innocents? Well innocent means those who retain their immunity to attack are therefore are not threatening. In the context of war, the innocent are those who do not contribute to the prosecution of the war, that is, noncombatants. The noninnocent are those who pose a threat to others, that is, combatants. They lose their immunity and are liable to attack. In your case that is the pilots attacking your ship.”
“Go on” he said
“What does ‘innocent’ mean in the context of war? In the just war tradition, to say that an individual is not innocent is not to say that he is guilty, that he deserves to die, that his life is less valuable, or that his death is less tragic. It is only to say that he has done something to meet the criterion for liability to attack—which, according to the traditional theory, is posing a threat to others. The notion of innocence bears only on the permissibility of killing, not on the tragedy of death.” She emptied her drink and put down the glass.
“So what you are saying is that by posing a direct threat to Gallente society through production of drugs and supporting or affiliating with the Serpentis those inhabitants became combatants and thereby the killing of them became just?”
She smiled. “Thats exactly what I am saying.”
He thought about that for a minute.
“Or maybe” she continued “Your captain is just another cruel and heartless capsuleer”
She got up and brushed his arm lightly. “Take care crewman and fly safe.”
She turned and left. He finished the rest of his drink and was about to leave when he suddenly realized how he knew her.
Her voice… Gaylan suddenly felt cold..