The Freedom To Choose

Chapter 4 Shock

Logan's mind was in turmoil. The last few days aboard the Arcadia had been chaotic, mind-opening, confusing... heartbreaking. Finding out that everything he had ever been told about the Earth, about the Coalition, about the Homecoming War, about Harlock, were all lies had torn him apart inside. Nothing was how he had always thought it was, nothing made any sense to him anymore.

When the ship had gotten close enough to the Earth for the illusion to fall away he had been so shocked he couldn't think, couldn't breathe. It had taken whole moments for him to react to the whole situation and start to wonder what exactly was going on. Seeing the planet, humanity's home in such a horrifying and lifeless state had made Logan's stomach churn, his heart dropping down into his gut and his throat clench up with fear and sorrow. He could hardly get out the words to tell Ezra he was lying. And he knew it wasn't a lie, he could see the evidence right there in front of him with his own eyes.

And then there was the whole story about Harlock's past. He had worked for the Coalition, had even been part of the efforts to keep anyone from returning to Earth. He had been the exact kind of person that Harlock now fought against so passionately.

Logan could understand Harlock's fury at being betrayed by the Gaia Coalition elites. He could understand the hurt of finding out that those who you trusted and believed in were full of hypocrisy. It was the same thing he had felt when watching the illusion around the Earth fall away, upon finding out that the Coalition had been lying to everyone for the last hundred years about what had happened. Why keep up the farce? Why give people hope and let them believe in a lie? For power? To maintain superiority and control? How could they? How could they do that when they claimed to have the only truth and to be the only ones to bring peace and order to the masses of humans scattered around the universe?

"You believe whatever you're told," Ezra had said. Maybe he was right. Maybe Logan really was that gullible. He had meant what he said when confronting Ezra before the battle. You and the Coalition are wrong about him. I feel it in my gut, Ezra! He really had come to believe that it would be better to reset the Genesis Clock, to start over and try to fix humanity's mistakes from the Homecoming War.

But now everything was all mixed up. Harlock, 100 years ago had tried to make permanent the Gaia Coalition's decision that no one should be allowed to return to Earth by creating a literal impassible barrier, a real sanctified zone that no one could cross. At least then their law would be true and no one could elevate themselves enough to give themselves permission, the privilege, to return to Earth when regular people were stuck out in space, never to return home. It would be unfair and hypocritical, so Logan agreed that the Captain's motives, his ultimate goal had been right and justified, but he had gone about it the wrong way. He tried to control something that was beyond him; Harlock's pride had gone too far in allowing him to believe that he was capable of something not meant for human hands to direct. And it had blown up in his face and destroyed the Earth. His impulsiveness, his anger, his pride, had ruined him, humanity's home, everyone's hope, and now the whole crew's trust for not having revealed the story sooner. For once, his mysterious and secretive aura had only done him harm.

And Logan? He was angry. He was furious with the Captain for what he had done and especially for keeping such an important secret. Why had he not trusted his crew with his plans? With the whole story so that they would know what they were getting into? It was not right. It was irresponsible and it was no wonder that everyone was beginning to doubt him.

But even as Logan led Ezra and the Gaia soldiers to the bridge, even as he stared Harlock down with a gun pointed at his head, and even as he changed uniforms, effectively showing his loyalty and his decision on whose truth to follow, his mind still rolled. As much as he was angry with Harlock, Logan was already forgiving him. Because no one knew more than Logan how hard it was to pick up the pieces when your own impulsiveness caused tragedy. He knew what it was like to try and fix a problem, believing yourself to be strong enough to fulfill a worthy goal, and then watch as it all fell apart around you and not be able to stop it.

Maybe that was why he and Harlock shared such a strange connection. Both of them had a past of reckless decisions with horrible consequences following and now they were both scrabbling to redeem themselves, to find a solution that would fix their mistakes and make everything better. And unfortunately for both of them, nothing was going as planned and Logan was left pondering these things, examining everything he had done since boarding the Arcadia and wondering if he could have done anything differently. If there were some way, some answer, some action he could have taken that would have allowed him to find redemption.

He was beginning to think that maybe he should have stuck with Harlock, helped him plant the last detonator and use the Genesis Clock to start over. He certainly felt like he needed one for his own life. Maybe that was really what Harlock wanted - not to let the universe try again without humanity believing itself to be the center of everything, but for the Captain to try his own life over again, to not make the same mistakes, to do better the second time around. Maybe Harlock just wanted a past he could be at peace with. But he really was not sure about any of this and his eyes could not focus on much of anything as his brain jumped from thought to thought in a messy race to attempt to find some useable conclusion.

It was while he was in this state of mind that Ezra had told him about Nami. He knew Ezra was lying about how she had died. He knew how Ezra had felt about her, how much he had been driven nearly insane with the torment of her never loving him back. He felt himself going a little crazy.

He had cried, but it hadn't lasted long. Mostly he just felt drained. His mind went blank and his chest felt hollow, like his heart had just disappeared, and he couldn't remember much of what had happened after that. Just little flashes of moments here and there. It was all too much to deal with and all he could really remember was the feeling of just wanting to get away. Why he had ended up on the Earth, he really didn't know. Stumbling around with the hot wind and dust blowing against him was miserable, but he forced himself to keep walking, to keep looking.

He needed answers. He need a truth he could believe in, that he could follow. He needed someone to tell him what to do. About Ezra, about the Coalition, about this dead and forsaken Earth, about the Genesis Clock... About Harlock...

He was so distracted, so blank and unseeing, that he didn't notice the ground dropping away in front him and so he fell. Hard. It took him a moment to start trying to get up, a groan slipping past his lips, before he finally looked up and then everything in his head finally went quiet.

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