(Note: The following took place in chat between Echo and myself earlier today and posted here after some slight editing.)
Earlier on board the Liracor...
Sunny greeted Autumn with a note of concern as she entered the med bay for her pre-hunt vaccinations, "The Kotiri are off the ship, and Quan actually appears to be a competent pilot. But *you* still seem bothered. Unless it is your basal state - which I don't think to be true. Entirely, that is."
Autumn shook her head, bearing her arm for the injection, "It's just, the way you spoke earlier, you seemed to consider planetary genocide a viable solution to a possible problem, it gave me cause for concern. Normally I would assume someone that made such a comment was jesting, but in your case, I was less than certain."
Usually, you try to solve problems, don't you?" Sunny smiled. "Why is my case so specific?" She then laughed. "Ah, the propaganda reaches far. Is this it?" She did not seem angry, just amused, with a deeper layer of a complex emotion Autumn could yet not judge. "Regardless, a genocide is a lot of effort, and implies you are targeting a specific genus of creature, based on whatever your agenda is."
Autumn paused at Sunny's question, a bit puzzled at her mention of propaganda. "Solving problems is in my nature, it's what makes me such a skilled mechanic, in your case I have.." She struggled to convey the feelings she had recently felt blossom for Sunny, "Grown fond of your companionship, more than as simply a friend."
The doctor sat on the infirmary's examination table, hands in her lap. "I do make rather decent company in better times, I've been told." "It is fairly obvious that you're stalking around prey that you would yet not jump - forgive the metaphor."
"It wasn't so much genocide, as the talk of casually unleashing a bio-plague on a planet or system struck me as.. One might say less than honorable." She admitted takling a half step closer.
"Is it honor that drives you? I never asked, never searched." Sunny inquired with a flick of her head tails.
Autumn nodded after a moments introspection. "Yes actually, but more a personal honor that a sense of honor to a cause or species."
"It's not a concept my culture uses overly much. Ethics, a sense of duty to a galaxy filled with life but also barbarism, a generosity of the better-off, those come to my mind easier." Sunny interjected with a slight smile.
"My loyalty is to any I would call mate and fore most, those I consider part of my pack secondly, and those I enter into contract with a third, it has served me well so far." Autumn replied, her own code of conduct one she had long since decided upon, but rarely voiced for others.
"But then, we did slay about fifty homo sapiens without pause. Did they need slaying?" Sunny asked her, gesturing in a random direction of space, the metaphorpical equivalent of the starship graveyard.
"It was us or them so yes, we had no other course available, nor would I have taken one had it been there honestly." She gave a toothy, slightly predatory grin.
Sunny leaned forward to run a finger across Autumn's chiseled abdominal muscles. "I don't doubt this."
"I have no hesitation about fighting any who seek conflict with me or mine." She pawed at a loose thread on her kilt before continuing, "But to unleash a bio weapon on a planet would kill those who sought no conflict with me, it feels.. cowardly but also excessive, bring death those who do not seek mine in return." Autumn felt herself relaxing under the woman's touch, despite the difficult topic.
"I don't wish to go into abstract justifications and play on words. I was a healer, a mother and sire, perhaps not with a formal oath, but with the sense of duty that comes with any of those callings. Death sucks, there's so much more beauty to what life can bring." She told autumn, a slight note of sadness entering her voice.
Autumn nodded in complete agreement, pausing as Sunny dragged the hound close, looking for something in her eyes. Autumn stared back without hesitation, gently running her duranium claws along Sunny's back.
Whatever she hoped to find, she did, as Sunny continued. "I cared far more, not too long ago. Honestly, I would not think much of setting a plague free now, for all it matters. Tell me my nihilism is unfounded, pointless, that some means to ends should be unexplored by the good guys."
Autumn gave her a slow firm squeeze, letting her emotions show in both actions as well as words, "If we cross those lines we cease to become the good guys, and the only difference between us and our foes is would be our ship designation, and a diminishing sense of self worth."
"I'm way over that line then, girl. Want to high-five with a war criminal?" She gave a brief grin at the joke, "Sometimes, there is no high ground, especially when you're a mother. There is no right or wrong, only us versus them. If I had a gun, I'd have killed them with it, a knife or a spoon or a freaking rock. All I had was a lab."
Autumn shook her head, "We have all done things we're not proud of, it's moving past those actions and not letting them define us that separates us from those we bare fangs and blade against."
"My kill count is somewhere around one and a half billion. Beat that," Sunny challenged her, "Not entirely intentionally, but still. I feel way less sorry than I probably should. I sometimes laugh because they died because they were stupid."
"When defending ones pack there are few lines I would not cross either, if it was my pack or a entire plants population I would choose my packs, simply because my pack would trust in me to put them above all else and to betray them is something I could never bring myself to do. You did what was necessary to protect the lives of those you loved, even if the results exceeded your intentions."
"So. Then the question is, would you think me more honorable if I had taken a knife and shanked every single last mother@!#$er on that planet personally, dragged them to from a throne-mountain of bone, and roared my triumph to the skies in triumph?" Regardless, it did not *work* because the Feds did not stop killing my people just because I killed a bunch of theirs."
"The specific actions are not what make you honorable, it's the motivation behind those actions that count, you acted to save your pack, in that there is honor, you used the weapons and tools available to do so, in your position I would have done no different."
Sunny looked at Autumn pointedly for a moment before continuing, "Because as you said, to the island that is the *I*, the closest, loved shores matter. I'd love to have the moral high ground once more, the idealism, the pervading humanism. All I have now is a few gadgets, this suit, my snarky comments - and you. And really, funnily enough, that's enough."
"It's not enough to simply survive, I did that on Black Water station when I was a pup, but now, after seeing the wonders of the universe, I've come to understand one needs to live their life in a manner worthy of self respect, and hopefully leave the universe, or at the very least the piece of it they call home, a little brighter place than it was when they entered it." Finding others to share that journey is the key that makes the challenges and difficulties during the rest worth while."
"Fair enough, I can live with that. Not entirely on the level of a Hippocratic oath, but it's a solid start." She gave Autumn a long kiss. "Improving the universe one saliva exchange at a time."
Autumn returnsed the kiss eagerly, letting some of her primal desire and the swell of bestial passion take hold, but only for a moment.
"One last thing," Sunny continued, "If the crew ever considers selling me to the Feds, the 100 K credits on my head may look nice until you consider that they basically value one of their dead guys at 0.0067 cents a pop. What sort of deal is that?"
Autumn growled, suddenly tense, "If the crew ever attempts to sell one of our own, the one proposing such a action with any degree of sincerity will find themselves greeting the pale hound before their next breath!" She snarled slightly at the imaginary threat, a hand dropping reflexively to her hand cannon. "No one I serve with will place profit above pack, ever!"
Sunny gave her an apologetic smile, "Sorry for spoiling the mood."
Autumn lowered her ears and gave Sunny an cringed slightly, "It's okay, I get over protective of those I call pack, even more so when it concerns those I wish to call life mate." She lowered her head and looked to the side in embarrassment, realizing she had spoken far more than intended in her moment of emotional excess.
Sunny started cheekily at first, "I passionately, perversely enjoy when you let your feral side surface. These moments make me wish you could somehow knock me up..." she reached out to grab the hound by her behind... then, Autumn's confession came, wiping the grin off Sunny's face. "Autumn, don't be... I... flattered, oh... there's a hunt on."
Autumn paused for a half a second, mentally debating how to properly respond to prevent an pervasive awkwardness from tainting their hunt with Jerome. "Yes, and after we're done hunting on the planet, there'll be a second hunt in my quarters, with a very enticing quarry." She leaned in and gave a playful lick to the side of Sunny's face, spinning about and slapping the medics leg with her tail, following it up with a mischievous grin over her shoulder and hurrying to the airlock, content to forget her unintentional confession moments ago, and instead focus on the enjoyment of Sunny's continued companionship until a later time; when a better opportunity presented itself...