Twice in one conversation, Diana Kim handed me a sword and challenged me to kill her.
She made a compelling argument why I should, too - one Caldari life taken in cold blood, thousands of Gallentean lives saved in the long run.
I thought I'd be clever the first time. I played it like I was really going to do it. She was kneeling, with the blade on the back of her neck. I asked her if she wanted to be cured of her hatred of Gallente. She said that her hatred is all she is, that to remove it would be to kill her anyway. So I swung, took some hairs off her scalp as I buried the blade in the couch. Gave her this whole thing about having accepted death, maybe she can die and be reborn and... all that shit. It's what the Tea Maker is supposed to be all about, after all. Facing the real possibility of death, and if you survive then you turn the page, begin anew, let the old self die to be replaced by a newer, better person.
She called me "weak". Said that in my shoes, she'd have killed me without hesitation. Said it proves that she cares more about life than I do.
I have no idea if she's right or not. But she completely broke me.
I asked her: "Do you want me to kill you, yes or no?" The bitch hemmed and hawed and didn't give me a straight answer until I was practically begging for one, until I was so far gone that I couldn't function without hearing one of those two words.
She said no. So, I didn't. Had she said yes...
Had she said yes, she'd be dead now. And I'd have a lot of explaining to do. And I think I'm glad it didn't go that way.
But I can't shake the feeling that maybe she's right that maybe I was wrong to say that I value Gallentean lives. Do I really value who-knows-how-many of them less than I value just one of her?
Is there any other way to see this? Are my priorities really just that fucked-up? Do I genuinely believe that she's capable of being redeemed, and am I willing to pay the price in blood to see it happen?
One person, versus the greater good.
I know I should have killed her. I know it. Every logical iota of my being is screaming at me that I should have beheaded her and stood proud to defend the action.
But I just couldn't do it. I can't kill in cold blood. If she'd just aimed a gun at me, pulled a knife, given me the order, something, it would have been so simple.
Anything to avoid taking responsibility for ending a life, eh Verin? Rationalize them away, as enemy combatants, as threats, as orders and targets.
But she kneeled. And breathed her last. And even though she genuinely thought I was about to cut her head off, she bared her neck for the blow. And I've always felt that accepting your death like that is weakness, that death is something you resist until it takes you, kicking and biting and fighting.
So vulnerable. So willingly vulnerable. Absolutely and totally prepared, in the courage of her convictions, to DIE, then and there, to prove a point.
So why couldn't I do it? Is she right and I'm just that weak?
Have my instincts worked through an ethical maze that my rational brain is still struggling with?
Or is it just that I don't trust an Empyrean to stay dead?