2 Coffin Jockey

The door slowly crept open to Erich's bedroom, where, as he suspected, his mother was sitting on his bed with a scowl on her otherwise gorgeous face. Though she was in her late thirties, Krista Jaeger appeared as if she were not much older than her son, who was already eighteen years old.

This was because of the gene therapy that all Germanic citizens underwent at birth, which increased things like physical attractiveness, strength, agility, intelligence, fertility, and, most importantly, lifespan. The average lifespan among the Germanic Star Empire was two hundred and fifty years, most of which was spent in youth and fertility.

Because of this, Germanic families tended to be quite large, as it was considered a duty to the state to do so. Krista's piercing blue eyes settled themselves upon her errant son, as he stood at attention before her as if the woman were his drill sergeant. Awkward silence existed between the mother and son for several moments before Krista began to yell at her son in a voice so loud it could be heard throughout the entire mansion.

"What the hell were you thinking? Do you have any idea how much trouble you would be in if anyone found out about these holo-recordings? For fuck's sake, Erich, you are an aberrant, which means the law will be much more strict with you if you ever get caught stepping out of line! Honestly, are you trying to give your mother a heart attack!?!"

Erich did not even bother to argue with his mother, or attempt to justify his actions. Out of all of his family members, the only one who even cared the slightest amount for his wellbeing was his mother, and because of that, the woman had earned his respect. The fact that she had used the scientifically correct term to refer to his condition as well as scolding him about the danger such a crime posed to his well-being, and not how it would affect his father's political career, showed this sentiment. Thus, all he could do was apologize.

"I'm sorry mother…"

The beautiful woman who had the appearance of a twenty-year-old simply sighed and shook her head, before further commenting on her son's choice in contraband.

"Honestly, Erich… Oni girls? You know how the Empire feels about miscegenation. You would probably get an even harsher sentence simply due to the fact that the women in these holo-recordings are not even Germanic!

As harsh as the government is on vice, there is still an underground porn industry, which would have been a safer bet. Lord knows your father has been hunting those degenerate bastards down for some time now. If his superiors were to find out that his own son was in possession of such contraband, it could damn well ruin his career. But I don't really care about that. I just want you to be safe! Promise me you won't purchase any more videos like this!"

Erich could only sigh and nod his head in agreement with his mother's words. With his power of telepathy, he could read the woman's thoughts, and because of this, he knew she meant every word that she said.

"Alright, I promise, I won't purchase any more videos like these… So what is my punishment this time?"

The woman looked at her son with a disappointed expression on her face before laying down the sentence.

"Disconnect from the grid. For the next three months, you are not allowed to access it!"

Erich looked at his mother in disbelief. Did she seriously just demand he cut off all access to the grid for three months? The grid was the common term used to describe the Interstellar Network. It was essentially the internet, but for the entire Germanic Star-Empire.

In addition to every citizen of the Germanic Star Empire being genetically enhanced at birth, they were also injected with nanites which provided access to grid. In other words, their brains also acted as smart phones. This was useful for a number of applications, chief of which was cloning. If a citizen of the Empire's body perished, especially in battle, their consciousness could be immediately transferred into a clone's body via the grid.

A person's thoughts and memories were regularly saved to the grid as backup storage. Thus, by disconnecting from the grid, Krista was not only making her son no longer able to effectively browse the interstellar network, but she was also cutting off his lifeline. If he were to be killed in these next three months, only a three-month-old copy of his consciousness would be transferred to his clone's body. Thus robbing him of many memories.

Krista could instantly tell that her son was about to debate with her about his punishment, and thus she instantly shot him down before he had the chance by reminding the boy of the sentence he would receive if these holo-recordings were ever to become public knowledge.

"Don't argue with your mother, young man! If I showed these videos to your father, he would have you sentenced to a penal battalion for the next ten years of your life! And that is the minimal sentencing. When you take into account the fact that you are an aberrant, you are likely to serve twenty-five years! Three months disconnected from the grid doesn't sound too bad now, does it?"

Upon seeing that he had no chance of lowering his sentence, Erich sighed heavily before accepting his mother's punishment as law.

"Alright mother, I will disconnect right now…"

After saying this, Erich skillfully maneuvered within his own mind to the section of the grid's interface, which allowed him to disable it temporarily. He set it to automatically turn back on in three months' time. Something he hoped he would not regret.

With her son's punishment starting now, Krista smirked before crushing the holo-recordings with her dainty hands, ensuring that they were ground to dust and unrecoverable. She then kissed her son on the forehead, before walking out of his room, but only after assuring him that everything would be alright.

"You'll be fine. It is only three months. Now get yourself ready for dinner. Your father is coming home tonight, and he will have the results of your conscription by now…"

It was only after Erich's mother had left the room did the young man sit on his bed and lament his lot in life. His father was no ordinary man. In fact, the man was a Sector Governor, and spent most of his time off the world, managing the affairs of multiple star systems.

In total, the Germanic Star Empire had thirty-six systems under its control with one hundred habited planets. These thirty-six systems were split into twelve sectors, with an additional four over sectors. If a system governor was the dictator of an entire star system, then a sector governor was the dictator of three star systems.

In other words, the lives of trillions of people were in the hands of Erich's father. Despite the immense power that the man wielded, he had never shown any favoritism towards his children. The Germanic Star-Empire was a society based upon merit. As such, nepotism was a serious offense, even in its most benign forms.

Thus, Erich knew that his father had not gone out of his way to get his son a cushy office position in the military. And would have selected his job based upon the Empire's needs, and the position that he was most genetically qualified for.

After taking a particularly long shower, where Erich grieved the loss of his precious contraband, he then got dressed in some nice evening wear before approaching the dining room table, where his entire family, aside from his younger sister Heidi had gathered to greet the head of their household.

His mother Krista was looking particularly ravishing, as she went out of her way to look as nice as possible for her husband. Before long, the door opened, and an exceptionally handsome man entered the room with a wide smile on his face. Despite being in his early forties, Heinrich Jaeger looked not much older than his eldest son. In fact, one might say that Erich inherited his looks from his father, with the obvious exception of his mutated hair and eye color.

The man was quite happy to finally return home to his family, where he immediately greeted his wife with a hug and a kiss, before giving his eldest son a firm handshake. Once he had displayed his fatherly affection to all of his children, Heinrich finally spoke.

"Something smells amazing? My love, what did you cook for me?"

Krista wore a loving smile on her pretty face as she responded to her husband's enthusiasm with the words she knew he yearned for.

"I made your favorite, Jägerschnitzel with a side of Käsespätzle, and Kartoffelpuffer"

While the Germanic Star-Empire descended entirely from Pan-Germanic origins, meaning that they came from countries such as Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, England, Lichtenstein, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Erich's family was almost entirely, if not entirely, German in heritage.

Because of this, a lot of the recipes that were used to make daily meals came from the fatherland of the old world. Upon hearing that his favorite meal was being served, Heinrich was quick to inform his family that the time to eat had come.

Thus, they all sat down at the table and began to enjoy a nice family meal together. Eventually, after some casual conversation between Erich's father and the rest of his family, the man spoke up about something which would have a direct impact on his eldest son's life. However, when he spoke to Erich, he did so in a voice that was far less enthusiastic than the one he used when conversing with his other children.

"So… Erich… You will be graduating from high school in three days, yes? I have already filed your conscription notice on your behalf, and I think you will be pleased with the position the party has provided for you."

Erich could feel his stomach knotting up at the very thought of being sent into the Star Marines. Germanic Star Marines were the primary infantry unit of the empire. They were not only genetically enhanced super soldiers, but they were equipped with advanced power armor, turning them into walking tanks. However, the mortality rate among Star Marines was much higher than almost every other unit, specifically because they were fighting the many horrors of the galaxy on foot.

And while death was not final to the citizens of the Germanic Star Empire, as in most cases, they could be cloned into a brand new body. The pain and trauma that one suffered upon death were not easily overcome. Thus, Erich crossed his fingers, hoping that he would not be selected for this elite cadre of soldiers.

Seeing the look on his son's face, Heinrich knew exactly what the boy was thinking, and scoffed before delivering him news that was perhaps even worse than what he feared most.

"Congratulations Erich, you are this family's newest coffin jockey…"

Erich's heart practically imploded when he heard this news, and while the rest of his siblings snickered at his misfortune, his mother gasped out loud and even dropped her glass in shock. Coffin Jockey was a derogatory term for starfighter pilots.

In this universe, the only thing that had a higher mortality rate than being a Star Marine was being a starfighter pilot. Hence the nickname. After all, most battles took place in space before reaching orbit, and there were quite literally a million things that could result in your death if you were flying in a starfighter.

Of course, the physical and mental demands for being a Starfighter Pilot were exceptionally high, and because of this, they were given exceptional benefits and pay to compensate them for their likely demise. Naturally, this meant that Erich would have to go through the Naval Academy and earn himself an officer's commission before he ever even entered pilot school, let alone participated in battle.

While the average service length during conscription was eight to ten years, officers were required to fulfill a much longer tenure in the armed forces, and because of this, Erich was looking at a solid fifteen to twenty years before he could enter either the civilian or political sector.

Erich could hardly believe that he had been so unlucky, and immediately felt defeated in his heart. While his siblings took joy in his misery, his mother was devastated, and was quick to ask her husband if there was anything he could do to help their son.

"Dear, this can't be right… Erich is not fit for such a dangerous job. Can't you pull some strings to have him made a deck officer?"

Heinrich glared at his wife with a furious gaze. Nepotism was a serious offense in the Reich, and his wife had just now suggested he commit it. Thus, he did not hesitate to remind the woman of her place with a particularly foul tone in his voice.

"Even if I wanted to do something so scandalous, I would not be able to. The conscriptions selection process is handled by an advanced artificial intelligence based in the capital. I have no right to interfere with its decision. I know you care about the little mutant, but his fate is out of my hands."

After hearing his own father speak such vitriol towards him, Erich no longer felt much like eating, and decided then and there to go to sleep. He abruptly stood up from his seat and departed in silence, without even saying a word.

Having fled from the dinner scene, Erich climbed into bed and lamented his lot in life once more, knowing that his future was about to be filled with an unfair degree of pain and suffering.

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