Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Conversations in the Wild

Ryven had mostly healed in the days following the crash.  He had awoken hours later in the field, the night air cool and damp on his skin.  He was dressed adequately for the weather, clothed as he was in a jacket, short sleeved shirt, and cargo pants.  His boots were also quite fitting for the occasion, strong and resilient as they were.  He was also fortunate that the planet's climate was a temperate one.  He had not really surveyed the planet prior to his crash, so he wasn't sure of much beyond what he could tell right away, that it was a fertile planet with a decent atmosphere, slightly on the thin side, and temperatures that would not present him much difficulty.  Based on this information, he concluded it was very unlikely there were no other human inhabitants.  However, he was not ready to meet any of them.  For now, he needed to establish shelter and settle in.  So, he had built himself a decent shack out of local timber he had felled for himself.  It was nothing fancy.  It had a simple mat made of reeds and grass for him to sleep on.  It had dirt floors which he covered in moss to absorb the morning dew and regulate the temperature.  It had a roof to keep out the rain.  He had thatched it with additional tall grasses and reeds and then coated it in a layer of mud which had baked well enough to seal the roof.  Outside he had built a campfire pit which he used to stay warm during the early evenings and also to cook what game he could catch.  He had found a nearby lake that he could fish and the local forests contained small game which he could feed on.  He had quickly adapted to surviving in this habitat. Not that I didn't have some training in this already.  Life varies from planet to planet, system to system, but the basic rules apply everywhere.

Each night, while sitting by his campfire, he would converse with the strange whispering voice that spoke to him.  He still did not who it was he spoke with, but the discussions had become increasingly more involved, but always they centered around the subject of justice and how best to achieve it.

So, is justice a shield then for the powerless?  Or is it a sword wielded by the strong for the purpose of those wronged? 

The voice replied. "Neither is sufficient without the other, is it?"

A sword without a shield is still a sword.  A shield without a sword is a dish on which to serve your enemy his victory.  Surely the sword is better.

"A sword or a shield without the proper purpose serve only as a bed for rust."

I see.  Those who have these tools are bound by basic duty to use them.  Justice, then, is both a sword and a shield, depending on the circumstance.

"You are learning.  Though, knowing the proper circumstance is not something which comes quickly or easily.  Justice for one may be injustice to another.  How do you tell what the greater justice is?  Across a vastness such as this New Eden, how does the calculation go?  Where do the ripples end?"

I don't know. Will I ever know?

"Perhaps.  Perhaps not.  When you are ready, you will know what it is you must do."

Don't I also have a duty to my friends, my comrades, my Empress?

"Your duty to your friends, your comrades, and your Empress doe not include participating in and exacerbating further injustice does it?  Also, remember the old saying about empires."

I do remember.  'An empire long united must divide.  Long divided, must unite.'  I don't actually know where that saying originates.

"That saying was ancient before your ancestors ever passed through the EVE gate into New Eden.  Its roots are beyond recollection.  Perhaps because it has always been true.  It is the maxim of the dynastic cycle.  All empires must eventually divide and all divided nations must eventually reunite into empires.  No empire arises from nothingness.  All rise from the ashes of the previous one, like an immortal Phoenix.  The body dies in conflagration but the spirit is born anew in a new form.  The cycle goes on.  You know this.  You are Caldari.  You are a pragmatist.  Such reality has not escaped you."

Ryven nodded unnecessarily.  That is true.  Though, such thoughts are seldom consolation to those caught in the conflagration.  Nor does it ease the toil of those responsible for the rebirth.  Human trials have always been dire for those whose lot it is to realize human ambitions.

"Human ambition is a double-edged sword.  Without it, humans stagnate and wither on the vine.  Yet, individual ambition also propagates injustice.  One cannot fulfill ambition without crushing those caught between them and their goal."

It all seems quite hopeless.

"You're not here to save the universe.  Nor to change the human condition."

Then what is my purpose?  Ryven wondered.  He did not receive an answer.  Whatever his mission was to be, for now he must stay here, live off the land in squalor, and commune with this spirit until all became clear.  How long that would be, and what toll it would take from him, was anyone's guess. 

Ryven doused the fire and sighed along with it as steam rose from the now quenched embers.  He walked the seven paces to the door to his little hut and once inside, doffed his jacket and boots before laying down on his mat.  Whatever answers he was seeking, he looked forward to his dreams.  In his dreams he was reunited with his friends back in the good times before he ruined everything.  He wondered what they were up to as he drifted off to sleep.


  1. Accreditation is important. The maxim: "The Empire, long united, must divide. Long divided, must unite." is a Chinese saying. It is the first line in the Luo Guangzhong's "Romance of the Three Kingdoms" and is essentially the maxim that explains the way dynasties rose and fell in such a way that it was not so unexpected when dynasties fell. The Mandate of Heaven was a fickle thing.

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