It wasn’t until his second fleet action that Allen Grace Serros earned the moniker “Lamorte DeTout” from his crew aboard the GFS Ora Insaniam, the now famous and deceased Thanatos-class Gallente carrier.
Those under Captain Serros’ command initially thought his willingness to throw the ship and all those aboard in front of concentrated fire was due to his immortality. By the crew’s vigorous assertions and public statements, the captain was always on deck and never in his pod. Their fate would be shared, which was shocking to some of his precious metal peers.
An examination of “Lamorte Detout’s” career in the Federation Navy does not provide insight into the formation of his carrier-as-a-spearhead tactics that bucked all Naval doctrines and wisdom. Its effective use against enemy battle groups surprised his superiors and justified his refusals to obey their direct orders.
But throughout his way up the Federation Navy promtion-maze, Serros was conscious of risk to a fault. Most regarded him, in their evaluations, as a “great candidate for territorial defense” and “excelled at the use of land assets in concert with weapons in the sky,” according to performance reviews and attached anecdotal addendums.
In the end, it was Serros’ usage of the GFS Ora Insaniam as a shield for evacuating civilians from the Richardson’s Peace colony in Kubinen that led to the ship’s destruction, the deaths of thousands of crew members, and his subsequent dismissal from the Navy.
The Scope (TS): Let’s start right off with what everyone wants to know. What happened at the Battle of “The Peace”?
// Serros did not begin speaking immediately. I saw him looking at images in his mind with both eyes, even the milky orb, like he was looking closely at parts of panoramic stills. He coughed before he spoke, like an instructor would to center attention. //
LD: The Amarrian and Caldari assault on a colony that housed several Gallentean refineries was indiscriminate in its calamitous effect on the planet and targeted civilians as much as it did the industrial facilities that supported our military.
The Caldari and their diplomats have stated that any people or facility that powers the engine of war is military in nature and not under the “Civilian Asset” Clause of the War Agreements, but I wholly disagree with that. I believe people need to work, make money for their families, and find a purpose for existence. They should never have experienced that level of offensive fury, behind 20-feet thick ferrocrete walls intended to shield them from attacks on planetary infrastructure.
As a result, I disregarded the rules of engagement without guilt and used my ship as a weapon, the way a sword would slice a piece of armor. We split their fleet in half and destroyed more ships in 10 full minutes than I would have ever thought possible with that task force, even in simulations. I scrambled every fighter in my hangar to prevent further catastrophic loss of life planetside, to great effect, and —
TS: — sorry to interrupt you, Captain, but —
// I felt bad for interrupting him, but his passionate feelings on the matter had already been recorded. //
LD: I no longer have a rank. You don’t need to address me as such.
TS: — … I’ve never heard anyone make that distinction. Normally retired, discharged, or even service-members accused of treason are still addressed with their rank.
// No reaction. He remained completely still. //
But … very well, how were you to achieve military success with your tactics?
LD: After the Caldari and their Amarrian allies made no effort to avoid civilian casualties and collateral damage, this ceased to be a military engagement.
I knew there were people on that planet that had no way out. Amarrian bombardment likely wiped out 5 in 7 people by time we warped in. Saving the people that survived superseded my Navy-given objectives. I am a human being first.
TS: What were those “Navy-given” objectives?
LD: Our original orders were to destroy Amarrian support elements while they were focused on the bombardment of Kubinnen III and to withdraw should any of our ships, support craft, or fighter complements sustain any serious damage or losses to their Caldari cover.
TS: Thank you for being truthful. I was told this was something we wouldn’t receive any candor on … but to follow up, you still achieved tremendous results in terms of losses inflicted.
LD: We destroyed a fleet. We smashed it. And as a result of losing half of ours after my decision, hard working people and their children were saved. Their right to exist, and the inherited freedom that comes with drawing breathe, is not only acknowledged but defended by the Federation. Their innate value is why we threw our ships in front of Amarrian battlecruisers and carriers.
TS: Family members of the fallen made their grievances known publicly and challenged your commitment to the safety of those in your command by asking why you retreated to your pod and escaped the death of your ship. Their calls for your dismissal contributed to your discharge from the Navy. Can you comment on any of that? Why exactly did you go to your pod when you had spent your entire career on the bridge with all your active staff?
LD: When it became apparent the hull of the Ora Insanium was going to break, I followed Navy procedure. Any capsuleer serving the Gallente Federation Navy as a captain has a duty to preserve their life so that experiences accrued can be evaluated and shared.
I don’t care about my life more than I did those that served under me, or that their broadcasted assertion had anything to do with my dismissal. I was discharged for sacrificing the lives of people who signed up for this very thing.
Though the survivors of Richardson’s Peace may believe they owe their lives to the deceased men and women of the Ora Insanium, the Dionisi, the Frigid, and the rest of the Navy ships destroyed, it was our duty.
TS: What was that conversation like with Navy admirals when your decisions were evaluated. How did they arrive at the conclusion that you cannot and should no longer should serve in the Federation Navy?
LD: It was short.
// Serros maintained a calm, relaxed position on the couch while we maintained eye contact. I waited for him to continue, but when it was clear he wouldn’t, I pressed. //
TS: No details?
LD: I respect the honesty of the men I serve.
TS: Why the shield of secrecy around this military procedure of a captain’s court martial? Why the lack of transparency?
LD: It’s been a tradition in all divisions of military service for our entire history and is believed to be a holdover from our ancestors.
TS: Some claim it to be an undemocratic obfuscation of a necessary accountability.
LD: My former superiors would be the ones to respond to that, not me. But it is an allegation made by anyone who favors disruption in the chain of command. There is wisdom in our adherence to it while defending the Gallente people. Otherwise, the walls you believe protect you from the unforgiving environment outside would be subject to actionable review by any novice engineer.
Without the context developed in years of service in the Federation Navy, the efficient and just resolution of cases brought before the military tribunals would not be possible.
In matters of war, expedience and justice like this are rare.
TS: Despite the outcome, you still support a system that perpetuates the “fog of war”.
LD: A very good, albeit inapplicable, analogy.
// Captains in the Navy are sharp, but generally dry. “The Death of All” was as calmly arrogant as any of them but made a genuine effort to hide it through wordy attempts at false humility. //
TS: Many anti-war dissidents in the Gallente Federation have criticized this separation between civilian government and the military as evidence of the encroaching establishment and institutionalization of the “warrior caste,” something you lectured on during your tenure at the Federal Navy Academy at Courster before Tibus Heth’s ascent and the outbreak of the Empyrean War.
LD: You’re right. The formation of a “warrior caste,” when the sphere of a soldier’s life is effectively separated and entirely unrelatable to that of the civilian, creates division and resentment among those in service.
Though the command hierarchy derives power from the citizen’s approval and blessings, when power extends from the soldier and not the citizen, the expansion of that chain of command occurs.
We don’t allow this. Civilian leaders dictate our strategy and dictate preemptive defensive actions. It was a fundamental differentiation between us and the Caldari when our civilizations first collided. And more recently now that Heth has his people worked up into a nationalistic, jingo-friendly State.
But Richardson’s Peace was an example of our military serving at the behest of the civilian government and protecting people when presented with the opportunity. We shouldn’t be confused with the Caldari State and your questions won’t bare anything intellectually nourishing if this is the basis for following criticisms.
// It felt like Serros delved into a lecture he had already given many times, and his eyes lost focus as though he were thinking of something else while describing this “warrior caste” and lecturing me about the difference between it and the Federal Navy.
I listened politely before moving on. //
TS: How do you feel about the moniker “Lamorte Detout”? Is it your identity now?
LD: I acquired it some time after Ror’s Landing and I heard it on comms when I listened in on situation reports in different parts of the ship. I know what it means. I know it was pejorative and then metastasized into a — caricature almost — of the way I lead.
But fleet commanders do not have the time to parse the meaning of a hyena’s laugh, to use an ancient anecdote. And I’ve never heard of an effective captain who was loved by his crew. In fact, many captains of a vessel believe there needs to be a healthy distance, both perceived and real, for the good of the ship and its objectives.
And if being seen as an IWNR [ editor’s note: Immortal With No Regard ] creates enough of a deterrent for an enemy to leave grid without challenging our objectives, then it only serves to inflate the income of someone who can capitalize on that image.
// His clever smile was flushed to embarassment when I presented evidence of a contract for his new line of work. //
TS: Speaking of which, The Scope has acquired an internal document that discusses the compensation and conditions of an employment contract that you signed recently. That name is the only indication of your identity and your future plans.
// Before I could lead into my next question, Lamorte held up his hand and looked behind him to his handler, an upright shadow with long hair in the finest, vintage clothing I’d seen in my short 50 years of life. From the handler’s jacket pocket emerged a tightly folded collection of slickpaper that he handed to Captain Serros.
The captain eyed the plastic sheet and then handed it back gently. //
LD: Sorry, I wasn’t aware this was out. I’ll be forthcoming.
I signed a pilot’s contract with Reeve Heavy Industries in Delve. I’m charged with destroying any Blood Raiders who assault commercial activities in our system or make any attempts to muck up our infrastructure in PDE. We will be doing this on behalf of Mindstar Technology, a corporation in alliance with the Goonswarm.
TS: Reeve Heavy Industries is headed by a Gallente fugitive and is designated a “Criminal Corporation” under the Federation Fair Practices and Industry Standards. Does this grey area of illicit employment, following the release of your body and skillset from Federation service, bother you at all?
LD: You don’t think I’ve earned my right to continue to possess what I have learned while in the Navy?
TS: As a Gallente citizen, my question would be ‘How will all those years and Kredits the Federation invested in you to captain our ships be repaid?’
LD: My answer would be the death and rescue of so many at “The Peace.”
// It was like talking to a media-trained politician off the record, but one hardened by actual warfare and the experiences I would never know or see. Even the way Captain Serros rephrased my questions or skipped past my failed logic traps left me unprepared to salvage the query’s intent. Lamorte’s reasoning and value system was admirable, but their execution may be to the detriment of so many.
// interview by Claurent Devouis