Ewoks, Ev0ke and NC are attacking the Talos Coalition outpost in 9R4, which is basically in our backyard, and blue. So tonight, I was part of the relief fleet.
The result was something along these lines.
I lost an Apocalypse in the fighting. I hadn't even named it, it was just a piece of standard-issue equipment that the corporation handed me and used.
I'm still reviewing the crew roster. about 72% of the crew evacuated and were recovered by friendly cleanup to crew a BLAST vessel. 16% were recovered by hostile cleanup and are now POWs... presumably they'll just wind up working for the other side. Can't say I begrudge them that, it's not like they have any ideological reason to work for one side or the other. The remainder, including the ship's executive officer and the quartermaster, are missing presumed KIA.
Dying aboard a piece of standard-issue equipment without even a formal name. None of the missing personnel left forwarding addresses for next of kin or beneficiaries.
If there'd been anything, even a record in the ship's manifest to send bereavement pay to an account number, they'd seem more human to me. As it is, it's almost like another statistic of ship loss, like how long the shields, armour and structure held out. How many modules survived the destruction, who the people who shot me down were.
I survived. With so many armed and active targets on the field, they really weren't bothered with shooting at an unarmed capsule, so I punched out of the warp bubble and disengaged. Made it back to v6 safe and sound.
I'm... not pleased, but at least relieved to find that I still care about their deaths. I feel sorry for them, and for the others like them. Sometimes, I think our crews must be more inherently tragic than we pilots are. Putting their lives on line - and they only have one to gamble - on the promise of wealth. I think a lot of them are here precisely because they want to die but can't quite will themselves to suicide. We build our crews on the desperate, the weak and the forlorn.
I checked. ALL of the crew on that ship were forwarding their pay to somewhere else. The payroll is full of charity codes, bank accounts registered in somebody else's names, or entries that are just marked "refused".
Do we waste lives? Or do our crews waste them for us just by signing up? Is it parasitic behaviour to take what is freely and willingly given?
I don't think I'll ever be the kind of pilot who fails to think about the people I'm destroying, but I've come to terms with it I think. Ghosts don't haunt my bedside... but they do haunt my ships and keep them running for me.