Learning

OOC This is an entry into the Pod and Planet Fiction Contest in the category of a Day In the Life.  It was inspired by the forum discussion of adding a bit to our ‘podding experience and not just having us blink out then back into our quarters, fully clothed.

 

Sirens howling, almost drowning out the thunder of shells exploding, lights flashing, red Red RED

Black

. . . darkness.  silence. khans peace.

The auto-injection of being ‘podded’ is swift and painless but the transfer of memory and impressions lasts beyond the death of the pilot.  He awakens gasping. Trying anything to survive another moment because his mind is unwilling to admit that he is dead, risen, and safe, now.

Different stations handle the awakening process in different ways.  The one he awoke in, this time, used lowered lighting and a set of messages on the ceiling, the first thing he would see as he came back to life.

What did you do right?

What did you do wrong?

What will you do differently, next time?

If there was a better way to resurrect he did not know what it was.  The choking, instinctive, lurch and gasp for air was muted and calm swiftly replacing the initial panic.  His mind awoke and he pondered the questions.

Some pilots ‘rage quit’ and go mope in their quarters, after a death.  Others race to get back into the fight.  This one tried to find the middle ground.  He did the usual chores of updating the clones but as he did the questions were still running through his head.  He groped for the answers knowing that he would not get everything right but each time . . . EVERY time that he died, if he learned something from it he would get better and better was what he strove for.

Learn, grow.  Do better.  Lessons taught in pain and blood are learned at a deeper level.  Those lessons that end in death were once lost as the student was no more.  Now they were the strongest educations.  Implants were replaced in his new body and subliminal education reinitialized.  Contact with the local ships markets replaced the lost ship and equipment. The crew who had either died or now orbited the wreckage of his former command in emergency escape pods awaiting rescue.  The new ship would have a new crew and hiring was an automatic function of purchase of the vessel.

Pause.  Take the same ship back out?  Take the same fittings?  What had gone wrong, this time?  Was his death something that could have been avoided?  Would a bigger ship be better or just a larger target?  Smaller, easier to pop but faster and more agile?  Once the size was chosen the fitting screen begged even further details.  What balance of modules would be best for the purpose?  No ship was able to do it all so he had to decide, once again, what was he here for?  He had made these choices before, and died.  Was it the choices?  How he had flown?  Where ha had flown?  Or did it go even deeper?

He closed the market screen, closed his eyes.  Alliances and politics.  Was trust misplaced and had he been betrayed?  Every action, every choice might have been the one that lead to his death.  Could he change that, this time?  What HAD he learned?

His eyes opened and he smiled.  The last thing he had said, as his pod had exploded . . . “good fight”.  He had learned that dying was not an end.  If he was having fun it was not even a loss.  Isk could be earned, ships could be replaced.  Some failed to learn this lesson and would bog down in doubt or fear.  They would stay docked when the system might have enemies nearby.

“Not which ship will be better . . . just which one do I want to fly, now.”  The market screen opened and he grinned as orders went out and a new vessel was prepared for the pilot.  Minutes later he was flying back into the void, ready for another lesson or maybe . . . just maybe . . . ready to teach somebody else.

Immortality will be, at best, a mixed blessing.  This new race will grow isolated, separated from the common man.  Some might believe themselves Gods and they might actually be the equivalent of the old religions Gods with all their failings written large, across the stars.  -Issah

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