The body of the alien ship floats listlessly before me, the gaping tears on its hull a testament to the effectiveness my Guardian gauss guns had against it. It was a Basilisk-class Thargoid, stronger and faster than the regular Cyclops; it’s the third one I’ve downed by myself, bringing my total Interceptor solo kill count to seventeen. That doesn’t include the countless Scouts I’ve destroyed, or the higher class Medusae and Hydras that were brought low by the combined efforts of several pilots in a wing, myself included.
And yet... I don’t feel any better. If anything, I feel... sad.
As I had expected, the unlocking of Guardian tech and the engineering of my ships has been a resounding success, especially for my anti-Xeno crafts. That allowed me a generous amount of survivability as I rode the learning curve associated with combating the Thargoids. My first Interceptor kill was done as part of a wing; I made so many mistakes I was sure the group wouldn’t want me back. Surprisingly, they did, which was good; that first notch on my belt had felt exhilarating.
What I hadn’t expected was how short that sense of triumph would last. On my first solo takedown you would have thought I would have thrown a party, but the dead, empty shell of the Cyclops seemed to reflect the hollowness of my victory, and each subsequent kill after that felt increasingly unfulfilling. Where was all this death leading to? Were we destined to fight each other until one side wiped the other out? If that was the case, then that makes us no better than INRA. It makes me no better.
My wife gets it. She accompanied me on one of my runs, something she didn’t enjoy at all. There were plenty of pucker moments and Oh shit! yells for her, and at the end of it all... I found her crying at the sight of my beaten foe. That’s when I knew the fire had gone out from her too.
We’ve already made plans to return to Ohm City, where we can take a break from all the war action and rebuild our semi-depleted finances. She’s already looking forward to going back to work at the local hospital and seeing her friends again. She’s not giving up on her volunteer work either; she plans to recruit a bunch of her nursing buddies for month-long tours at the rescue ships.
As for me, I’ll probably bounce around between my transport enterprises at Robigio and Medb. When my wife heads out to do her volunteering, I’ll be flying them out to where they need to go, and then I’ll stick around and support Operation IDA through search-and-rescue jobs. The AXI wing that I flew with will also be there; I’ll lend them a hand if they ask. I certainly won’t be looking for any more solo kills to add to my blood tally.
And when the new exploration package gets released, along with the new Krait Phantom, I plan to purchase one, soup it up, and then take my wife out on a long exploration vacation. It’ll be a nice getaway from this seemingly endless, mindless war.
War. That word just triggered a memory in my head, a debate that I saw between a militaristic captain of a Federal corvette, and his more philosophical second-in-command. That captain had stated that war was just another political tool for factions and powers to further their ambitions and destroy their enemies. The lieutenant countered that the true enemy could not be destroyed, to which the captain bid him to reveal who the true enemy was.
He answered, “In this age, with the capacity that we currently have to kill and destroy, the true enemy is war itself.”