Existential Crisis

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Summer's Gift - Pericles Station October 20th 2520

Faria pulled off his collar, loosened his shirt and splashed some water on his face awkwardly with his one hand. As usual, he got his shirt wet, and did a thoroughly unsatisfying job. It was one of the things he missed most about having two hands, the simple pleasure of splashing water on his face.

"Count your blessings Shepherd." He chided himself.

He returned to the 'bedroom' part of his suite, and looked at the datapads, lying across the small desk/vanity.

His sources showed him the discomforting facts about the settlement on Highgate. The 'Blush Mine'(named for the pinkish earth surrounding the mine) was supposed to be a model of efficiency and safety when it was founded on the site of a geologic anomaly, a vein rich in naturally occurring bismuth, used in a variety of electronics, medical and other uses. However, when workers complained about lead poisoning and other hazards, the Corone Group sent a number of security agents to protect their investment. Now, the site is run as practically a prison labor camp. The workers are threatened, abused, and extorted with threat of no lead treatments at the site. The mine manager, a recipient of Corone nepotism Melvin Jackson is under the authority of the security chief. That man is our boy Pedro 'Coyote' Escabar. The Coyote seems to have taken a page from that mission on Persephone, and submerged himself into the role. His own words "use that darkness, be that darkness" were coming back to haunt him. Can you do that and return from the edge? Faria mused on his own 'dark night of the soul' he hoped it was possible. It's his job to pull the Coyote out, or see to it he can't hurt these people any more.

It was oddly soothing to view something from a tactical perspective rather than engage in the philosophical debate he did with the crew. He cut his teeth on tactics. Location analysis, threat assessment, resource accounting; it was second nature to him. Of course, he needed to keep a check on that. He wasn't in charge of Voodoo company anymore. He could not, would not do what they did to achieve the mission goals. He was a man of God, and God's playbook was a whole new thing. Still, the territory felt more familiar when dealing with known threats, and straightforward goals.

That was not the case with Rick and his crew. He wasn't sure what to think, but he was confident that he was failing. There was something bigger here than he could fully grasp. He felt more assurance of the humanity of Arden and Joshua at the way they prickled at his faux accusations. But, the question ran deeper than whether Blue Sun was abusing people's rights, or creating a master or subject race. It had to do with every human being in the Verse. It had to do with what it meant to be human. The very idea of Humanity was in peril. Freewill, morality, our essential selves are articles of faith every bit as much as God, and the Heaven's themselves. It was something like that turned to him to the cloth in the first place. If we didn't believe in something, then what were we? But, this brave new world threatened that faith more than all the evil it had ever faced. It has been a cornerstone, an anchor, since the time of Descartes. Cogito Ergo Sum. I think, therefore I am. But what if we're wrong? Not that we don't think, that much is self evident. But that our thoughts are entirely superfluous. Our actions, our reactions engineered by either a self serving and malevolent force like Blue Sun, or equally bad, the apathetic forces of nature.

Shelley's cautionary tale wasn't about trespassing on God's territory by creating life. It was about shedding an unflattering light on ourselves, and finding the true monsters. Arden and Joshua, and the pitiable Reavers are not the danger in themselves, they are cruel mirrors suggesting something we dare not believe.

By teasing and taunting the crew he hoped for some sign. Some glimer of evidence that this was wrong. That our destinies were ours to choose, that our wills were our own. But, what could prove that? And worse, what if he were wrong?

He looked in the mirror and couldn't shake himself out of this funk. Prayer was out of the question now, he could only hope that with the morning, and a focus on the task at hand he could shake himself free of this.

"Of all the times for the Cortex to be down." He mused.

"You certainly have ways of testing us, don't you Lord?"

He set aside the bible and picked up the databook. He reviewed the security cam footage of Jackson's last wave to Corone. "Hmmm.. if Joshua were a little thinner, his hair a bit more greasy, the nose a bit more tapered." The wheels began to turn and the beginnings of a plan began to form.

Shepherd Faria