When Dolon was young, he learned of his father’s valor through the touch of medals his mother kept in a case. The container was the keepsake he chose to take to her bedside, at the Federal Defense Union, above Villore VI. Sleek and variant vessels imbued the woman with the breath of life, which she had for many years expelled in the caring devotion to her family and the grieving that followed the death of her husband. Dolon began to speak of him at great length, though spoke of him only as he knew—through the medals shown in the open case.
The death of his mother, and the little he knew of his father, hovered as a black crest he had painted on his helmet when he returned for deployment aboard a Thanatos that was exiting from a jump above Melmaniel IV. It was a system, that for the past hour was the scene of an escalating field of conflict, and the Thanatos had been directed by superiors in the Federation Navy, to journey there as a relief, in the way of fire support. Dolon served, like his father, as a fighter pilot, a product of a generation at war.
He sat poised in the cockpit of his Firbolg and the rumble of interstellar travel ended with a loud crack that ripped through the abundant clamor of the battle. The Gallente carrier was off point when it came out of the jump and the vessel groaned to climb steeply towards the safety of friendly forces. The order was given nevertheless for Dolon and his squadron to engage.
Piling into open space streamed the fighters, like rockets from a missile bay, and their order was given to eliminate approaching drones. The Gallente forces navigated murderous swathes of projectiles that painted the battlefield gray before crashing into their targets as raging starbursts. And in deadly pursuit of the reinforcements came Caldari Dragonflies, delivering ordinance in a vengeful storm.
Dolon considered that such a remarkable array of armaments and human grit was no less similar than the daunting experience that his father earned his medals fighting. He knocked on his helmet as a luck-borne wish of death to his enemies and gallant reflex to himself.
The foe smashing carried on for an hour, and from a weaving facility on the planet surface, fought another group of soldiers hired to turn the battle tide in favor of the Federation. The Caldari were not ignorant of the value that their planetary platform possessed, and there had situated, mighty batteries to assist in thwarting an aerial threat. Strategic targets were chosen and massive payloads of explosives were blasted into space. The Caldari affiliates roared and hooted as the battered victors, and the Thanatos, among the final ships, began to weep orange flames.
A fleet wide order was given to pull out, and Dolon was among the scattered. Bravery was fleeting when facing death and he drove in a desperate line to his hangar. Distress consumed the command and the capsuleers screamed to jump! “Jump! Jump!”
Dolon witnessed torpedoes exit from a parade of Caldari Phoenixes, and judged to pass the Thanatos to reach the planet atmosphere. Static filled his ears and the glow of his instruments faded as he fell in the care of planet’s pull. The pilot was not alone in his descent and travelled with fragments of the Thanatos beside him.
To this point in his career, Dolon experienced limited exposure to atmospheric flight, and without guidance from the carrier’s systems, he was plummeting blindly. The shell around him moaned at the unusual temperatures and forces that acted on it, and Dolon trusted that he might survive his tribulation a valorous man, albeit, dead.
The planet ocean spat in violent swirls as Dolon came to view it beneath the cloud cover. He braced himself for the impact, closing his eyes firmly. In an erratic chopping crash and spin, the craft smacked the waters several times before agreeing to stop, and the motions made the pilot unconscious. Silent in the storm, was Dolon, a drifting flotsam of the war, and beeping steadily in his care, was the Firbolg transponder.
Dolon dreamt that washing over him was a shower of platinum and gold, traced by the colorful stripes of ribbons. The medals decorated the blackness of the shroud surrounding him, and he rejoiced in the honors with a dumb smile. He began to pin each accolade he could snatch onto his vest, till it showed no more room. Little time passed before his smile began to fade into that of twisted panic when he felt himself sinking from the weight of his awards. For all he tried, he could not rip away, unpin, or in any fashion, remove an honor. The spiral hastened downward, and he heard the stories he told of his father, all beginning in rapid sequence. He struggled for silence and drummed his ears in nervous shaking—though to no avail did the stories stop. His voice became louder, and tempted to tear away his own head, Dolon began to pull with great force, though instead, he stripped himself of his helmet and awoke.
“You are not dead Mr. Denis” spoke a sweetly sounding voice. Dolon had been opening and closing his eyes before he knew he was awake, and his doctor, expecting him, had just noticed. He was a wrinkled man who was aged to the point that when he should want to retire from life, it would let him.
“In a scale from one to ten, Mr. Denis, are you in any pain? One, no pain at all, ten, the most you’ve ever felt.”
Dolon groaned and the doctor accepted the answer by pressing buttons on a chic terminal, calibrating it for the patient, and Dolon relapsed in his waking struggle with the infusion of painkillers. “No, not dead yet Mr. Denis,” the doctor said, rounding the warmly made bed.
Dolon had taken to letting a cheek anchor his face to his pillow, and the doctor stood in sight of Dolon with a datapad in hand. The doctor had been considering the documents shown in a bright light from his device, and he continued to scroll through them.
“We’ve looked very hard Mr. Denis, for any next of kin you might have. Do you have any family Mr. Denis?” Dolon found it hard to answer and he did not speak or attempt to shake his head.
“I see,” said the doctor, “we will begin with some tests.” A series of questions were asked to examine how stable the victim was in mind and body, and he passed for a healthy man. Dolon wanted to be silent for the rest of the day, and at a time, he considered for the rest of his life, though he became angry at how pathetic he saw himself and answered the final question, of the final test of the series, without a nod, but a “yes.”
“Would you say you are fit for continued service Mr. Denis?”
“Yes” he said and he recognized the softness of his answer, and then cleared his throat, “Yes, yes I am.”
The ancient face of the doctor lit up, and he changed the mode of his datapad and readied a stylus to be handed to Dolon. “I am glad to inform you, you are a remarkable candidate for our capsuleers program. You know what a capsuleer is, Mr. Denis?”
“The Federation Navy has chosen to sponsor you for your health, that is in its prime, and for of course, the incredible acts of valor that you showed above Melmaniel IV.”
The doctor set beside Dolon Denis, the stylus and datapad, and on the device, an area for his signature. The man moved to the doorway to make his final piece. “Think it over Dolon.” He smiled with a slow and confident nod, “For this opportunity, many of us would die.”