When the Eruseans extricated his remains from the flame-scarred wreck, there wasn’t enough to tell whether Mobius One had been a man or woman, young or old. All that the Eruseans knew was that he was the one with the ribbon insignia that had led the assault on Comberth Harbor, ruined Stonehenge, and singlehandedly destroyed every illusion anyone had that the Eruseans were invincible.
The Erusean press told proudly how the vanguard of Erusean’s air force fought and defeated him over the Gnome Ravine. They celebrated and cheered over images of the charred infinity loop, while some anonymous officers quietly returned his remains and flight recorder to us through third party contacts. The recorder showed us how Mobius One had, blinded by the jammers and bad weather, crashed into the valley wall. Erusea’s interceptors never got there.
Our press release did not mention this. “He died fighting to protect others,” we said. “Let’s not let any sacrifice go to waste: his, or any of the other soldiers who have died to reunite our nation under one free sky.”
We did worse than lie: we turned the death of a good man into a recruiting tool.
But while the news took a break from the war, the war didn’t stop. There wasn’t anything Erusea could do, and everyone knew it. By that October, we took Fabaranti.
Not before, however, half the northern invasion force sunk to the bottom of dark Antarctic water.
Not before San Salvaction turned into the biggest humanitarian disaster since the fall of Ulysses.
Not before soldiers were treading through bloody sand in the Whiskey Corridor as they made their way to the front.
Not before the Megalith Crisis, which we avoided only by the death of an entire squadron.
No, the commentators are right, our victory was inevitable to a point. Mobius One was not winning the war for us, we were winning it for ourselves. I’m not even sure that his presence would have made a significant difference to the outcome of those battles.
But in crises like these, with the hardships we face, there’s nothing to be gained by diminishing the accomplishments of a single man. Mobius One died an ignominious death, because though he was a hero, he was still a person, just like all of us. We all know people who died senselessly in this war. Our mistake was thinking that the ignominious end was unbefitting a hero. Never should we think any death ignominious. Not a single man or woman struggling on this continent is struggling ingloriously, and nothing in death can change that. The terms of our death say nothing of how we lived our lives.
In our dishonesty, we unwittingly tarnished the memory of a good man. No apology will absolve us, but it's my sincere hope we can still fix the damage we’ve done.