By Calesta Kiang
IT HAS BEEN a little over a year since my son, Tarek, was killed. I chose to write this letter to the Aremis Post because it was this very NewsOrg that first reported on his senseless death, and yet in that time, the popularity of “blading” continues to grow unabated amongst the youth of our planet. As a mother who has seen this pointless trend rip her world apart, I implore you, let us put an end to this practice once and for all.
For those of you who are still unaware of this plight that is affecting the younger generation of our planet, blading is what many teens call the idiotic act of actively seeking out an encounter with the Vanduul. The threat of constant attack not enough for our children, they have begun to purposely fly into Vanduul hunting grounds and goad those ruthless creatures into attacking. To “earn your blade” or to be “bladed,” a pilot’s sensors have to detect target-lock from a Vanduul ship. Then it’s up to the blade-hopeful to evade and escape back home, where presumably they are congratulated by their peers and told how “blast” they are. One weekend, my son and two of his friends, Kyle Allens and Li Con, left the system to attempt just that. None of them survived.
When you look at the way the Vanduul conflict has been glamorized all over the Spectrum, is it any wonder that being able to boast about an encounter has become the height of popularity? Just a few weeks ago the Arena Commander tournament was held and billions of young people from around the Empire gathered to watch simulation jockeys repeatedly fight Vanduul with absolutely no consequences. This so-called “game” is lauded for its realism, and the players who won the tournament were awarded an embarrassing amount of credits. How are impressionable teens not supposed to think that the real life counterpart to this experience would not be as fun and exciting? Arena Commander is basically a training course on how to blade.
Then of course, there are the vids and stories they are bombarded with every day. The Flight of 42 is one of the highest rated vids out there, and, even though it came out years ago, I can’t think of a child today that hasn’t read the Burning Skies series at least once. While these tales are based on history, they present conflict with Vanduul as daring adventure rather than the tragedy it so often is in real life.
Now, this piece is not about placing blame, it is about finding solutions. It’s not my goal to get Arena Commander or anything else banned or censored, I just point these examples out so people can understand better what their children are being exposed to and how it might be warping their view of the way the universe actually works. It becomes clear how blading came to be such a temptation when you realize that the Vanduul are being presented as easily defeated villainous caricatures of themselves, instead of the reality, which is that they are vicious creatures who will kill without a second thought.
It is up to all of us as parents and mentors to talk to our children, and get them to see the truth of the matter. Please, tell them of my son, his friends, and the dozens like them who have lost their lives. Tell them how deadly the Vanduul truly are.
That first step is what all of us can do at home to make a difference, but there is something the UEE can do as well. I propose an age limit on Jump Point use. Unaccompanied minors should be restricted to flying in-system. Though our planet is unrecognized, if we stand together, Citizens or not, the UEE would not be able to ignore our voices. United, we could make a real change and save countless lives.
I promise that this is something I will continue to fight for in Tarek’s memory, and I hope you will all join me in putting a stop to blading once and for all.
Calesta Kiang resides in New Corvo, Aremis. This is her first contribution to the Aremis Post.