OFFICE OF THE FLEET ADMIRAL -- GUANGDONG, CHINA ----------- Congratulations on making it to the last week of Captain Candidate School. By your loyalty, hard work, and dedication, you have demonstrated the highest level of leadership, and a commitment of service to the Empire. As part of your final training, the attached manual will outline the most difficult burden the Empire must now place on you: The Captain's Dictate. It is a unique mantle of responsibility, and one you should hold with pride. Your sacrifice, should it be called upon, ensures the continued invisibility of “Fortress Earth” to her enemies -- present and future. Simply put: Your swift death means the continued survival of the human race. So do not see this as a sacrifice to be grudgingly accepted, but an honor to be cherished. You are the best of us, the brightest of us. And you have been trusted with knowledge of inestimable value. You hold the birthplace of humanity in your hands. And with your death, you guard it. As you turn the pages of the attached manual, you'll find it breaks down into four main sections: - The historical necessity of the Dictate. - Common events that would trigger the Dictate, and how to plan for them with 5 simple preparedness steps. - Famous examples of the Dictate's use, and a few historical close calls that we can all learn from. - Detailed outlines of fifteen ways to quickly end your life. Five of which require nothing more than your bare hands. Read this manual, and learn it. You will of course be tested on it during Gauntlet Week, but I want you to commit this to a far deeper part of your memory. You never know when the Dictate will be called for, and I -- we -- need you to commit it to muscle memory. Sincerely yours, Juan CastellanoFleet Admiral La Grande y Felicísima Armada PS: If you’ll forgive an old man his softer side, allow me to share a few lines of verse with you. I found these to be some small comfort, when I first took on the mantle of the Dictate. They’re from a much longer poem by the Nigerian writer Abedi Dangote...where she talks about the child-like trust all space travelers must place in their Captain. I find it a helpful sentiment. We sat, we two, upon a beach, with sand unending, within reach. And plucked you, there, a single grain And held it safe with quiet pain. I ran, I flew, I kissed the sun. I leapt for days! Such joy to run! And still you kept it safe, that pearl: You held it safe for all the world. And when I tired, like a child, Having run the vastness wild, I looked up, smiling, at your face And said, "Where now is that small place?" And you, with burden, held it high Most precious grain to which we fly: Kept there, kept safe, lest it be lost. Or wrested from us at great cost. This tiny spark, this prick of light,from which all joys pour forth so bright. I take your hand, and you take mine. ...And home for bed, by half-past nine.