It had been days since I had dropped off the Book of St. Arzad to Hiva Shesha. All she had said was:
After all of the trials and tribulations, we finally have the truth at our fingertips. Now it’s time to dig in and find out what the Wildfire Khumaak is all about.
I thought I was going to wear grooves into the floor I had been pacing my temporary quarters so much. I had opted to stay local, to be there when Hiva’s research was completed, but as I had learned, you couldn’t rush a historian; they all had the time in the world.
I was pulled from a sound sleep at 4AM on my NeoCom. Hiva was on the other end. She looked worn down, tired, but more than that, she looked older, deeply troubled. Without hesitation I asked her what was wrong:
I have devoted much of my life to history of all sorts, from its unflappable truths to its infallible lies to the nuanced information systems found throughout the chronicles, artifacts, disputed ruins, and subjective quagmires. Despite what people think, history is a shapeless void of nonsense, akin to space’s vacuum or the cold, thoughtless smattering of stars that we call home. There is no meaning besides what we make of it; we do not know truth outside of the lenses we place over this shapeless void, the teeming nothingness, the endless morass of information.
I was fully awake and sobered emotionally by her words. I could sense she was at a personal crossroads, and I would need to listen carefully if I was to be of any use as her chosen confidante.
This book troubles me. I do not know what to make of it, nor do I know how to proceed. If what this book says is true, and the chances are good that at least some of it is, then the Starkmanir did not begin their rebellion out of a thirst for independence, but rather out of loyalty to their Holder, a man known to them as St. Arzad. The Wildfire Khumaak, a symbol he stole from them, is not an enduring relic of independence, nor is it a glowing tribute to the spirit of the Matari people. Rather, it is an artifact devoted to the memory of the Starkmanir captivity, an heirloom of oppression, but also an endearing homage to a fallen captor.
Though a man of strong opinions, I held my tongue. Now was only the time to nod and continue listening.
In other words, the Wildfire Khumaak subverts the defiance of my people.
That is, of course, if this is true. All we have is the relic and this book. The story of St. Arzad is practically hidden or buried in the Amarr history: I can’t find a trace of it. For all we know, this is apocryphal heresy, a rash account of history, a fever dream of some demented Starkmanir, or an outright hoax.
I don’t know. I honestly don’t know. I’m torn on what to do, and thus I will put the choice in your hands. I don’t want the responsibility for what happens to this text. There are two places we can take it: Return it to the Defiants and reunite it with the Wildfire Khumaak, or donate it to a Gallente historian I know. The former option gives the book back its people, though I don’t know how they’ll approach the text (or even if they’ll release it to the general public, which to me seems a shame). The latter will keep the book safe and make it available for the greater good. Even though it’s a troubling account, it’s still history, and it stills needs to be known.
The choice is in your hands.
It was like she had parked a cruiser on my chest. I felt a tightness I had never experienced, and my hand instinctively grasped. Though physically fine, I felt as though I were having a heart attack, something unheard of for a capsuleer.
My posture broke, my shoulders sank, and my eyes worked furiously, looking this way and that as I analyzed the problem, trying to factor in the countless repercussions of either decision, and failing.
As I said, I leave the decision in your hands. This book is a remnant of the Minmatar people, and thus it probably belongs with my brethren. If you feel the same way, take the Book of St. Arzad back to Oggur Marendei, the Defiant member you spoke with earlier. They have the Wildfire Khumaak, and they should have this book as well.
Like I said, this book is unsettling for me, not as a historian, but as a proud member of the Minmatar Republic. The resistance our people endured for the past years is very important to me, and our ultimate defiance of the Amarr people is crucial to our cultural identity. This book does not show our defiance in a positive light, or at least muddies the motivations behind it.
This text belongs with our people. I cannot attest to how they will handle it, nor can I say for certain that they will bury it. But the right thing to do is to give it to them and not to let any outsiders take possession of it. This pains me as a historian, but it feels right as a Minmatar.
The truth is not easy, nor is it absolute. We base our understanding on our perspectives, the ideas we wish to accept, and the data we acknowledge as correct. Everything else is information clutter obscuring our understanding of the world around us.
My head swam, vertigo settling in. She made good points, and even though she believed it to be the right thing to do, did I? The decisions was mine alone to make.
I started to question what others might do in my position, friends and enemies alike, grasping for someone else to make this decision.
To make things even more of a dilemma, Hiva offered me a cargo of ten experimental RSS Enhance Probes, with 4x the flight time of the Sisters probes I often employed.
I needed more information.I asked Hiva about the Gallente historian.
Posmon Aubenard is a friend of mine, a Gallente historian working with the University of Caille. He’s a trusted academic, an astute scholar, and a respected member of the university’s staff. If you take this book to him, I know that he will preserve it and keep it safe, possibly even put the book in the proper historical light with a best-selling book of his own in a few years. That might not sit well with our Minmatar brethern, but at least we won’t lose the truth, or whatever part of the truth this book represents. The Defiants can keep the Wildfire Khumaak – although I’m sure Posmon would love to get his hands on it – but it’s just an empty symbol without the book.
Time stretched endlessly, though only a few seconds passed. I was silent, biting my lip, not sure which way to decide. I completely understood why Hiva passed this off onto me. It was a huge responsibility to bear. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to be the one to make the decision, yet I was the one who had to make it, in retrospect.
When we are quiet, when we stop thinking, when we are completely raw and truthful with ourselves, I believed that we can hear a gentle voice of inner truth. Each of us possesses it. Each of us can choose right or wrong.
It’s our own life experiences that have tainted this voice, that have driven down in silence to the point where we can’t even recognize its sound anymore. It’s our own baggage that damages us. We are the only ones that can control how we react to things, how long we let things affect us. We control our tomorrows.
I made my choice.
I won’t forget this.
That was all Hiva said as I headed for the Onslaught.
AVESBAR VI – MOON 18
I had showered off since docking, and now was walking down the main access ramp to my ship. I held a satisfied smile on my face, knowing I made the right decisions. Under my warm, wrapped in leather, was the Book of St. Arzad.
I extended my right arm, warmly shaking hands with Dr. Posmon Aubenard of Caille University.
Thank you for giving me this book. I will sure it comes to no harm. This is not an easy history to swallow, and I’m not sure how factual its statements are. But it is better to tackle the truth than to bury it. Many Matari will be upset when this book is revealed to the public. I don’t know how or when that revelation will come about; all I know is that it must. Thank you for your help. Good luck.
I was shuffled off to an aide, and enjoyed a fine feast that evening at the University. As the night hours wound down, I was quartered in generous accommodations, and sent a comm to Hiva, wondering how she was holding up.
I think we did the right thing. Though I’m deeply troubled by this situation, as a historian, I must confront it. Thank you for all your efforts in this investigation, Roc. Though some of our people may be upset with you, the Matari people as a whole owe you their gratitude. Good luck in the future, my brave pilot.
She had said all that had needed saying I supposed, and again, I was content with that. It was the last time I would ever see Hiva Shesha, but I would not soon forget the time we had spent together, nor the way my path was altered from our shared experiences in this adventure.