Warp To Zero
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Warp To Zero: An Autohagiography
I sat on that smelly couch in my soon to be ex alliance's station and contemplated the words on the screen in front of me.
Over the past week I'd used emails to incite a certain state of mind in my soon to be ex corp mates as well as the alliance at large. The message in front of me was a very effective work of innuendo. My finger tapped the desk by the keyboard. Something nagged.
Suddenly I realized that I had only to send this email and then forward it to the leader of my soon to be ex alliance and my soon to be ex corp would almost certainly be run from the alliance at gunpoint. My blood ran cold. My friends had committed themselves to people who were this feckless. They'd not thanked me for telling them any part of this so far. They'd not welcome this bit of news either.
Everything we'd built--I'd built--for the last 15 months wasn't orbiting anything. It was all floating in dead space. On the sufferance of self important fools. Somehow, in the company of friends, and with all the best intentions, instead of an army we'd joined an idiocracy.
Well I know, I've always known what the price for membership in such clubs always is and I'll never pay it. I'd rather die alone.
I had to leave.
I consider my time in my ex alliance to have been very productive. I learned a lot about how to and how not to run an EVE organization. I learned why experienced players, particularly industrial players, would not want to come to nullsec. I learned why you would not want to get onto voice comms. (The whining. The scapegoating.) The studied silence of the adults who know you can't win for arguing with children. The reflexive contempt of so many of the not even weekend warriors for the industrial player. I got a good long look at the traps CCP has built into sovereignty. How they keep us players running hard just to stay in place as any good game designer should do, has to do.
I got another look at nullsec politics as the alliance I was part of was the client of larger alliances. Perfectly understandable and the way politics goes in RL but I'm looking to occupy a more autonomous position than that. Not necessarily a more powerful position, but certainly more autonomous. More about that later.
It was very instructive, how the threat of being thrown out of the alliance and being stranded in now hostile spsce is both an aromor for incompetence and a necessary stimulus. I've thought a lot about this, because the carbon based life form that plays me has a lot of experience with volunteer organizations and so my sympathies are for the poor bastards who are trying to organize the things as much as they are with the rank and file.
Still. The question of autonomy enters into it. There has to be a way of building an alliance that does not operate like a dictatorship based on the lone alpha male approach. How does CCP allow us to do this?
This is obviously not the design theory behind the Hearts And Minds Alliance which is meant to do only one thing and do that very well. Here the autonomy of the players involved is so built into the structure of the network that a strong central authority is needed in order to compensate for a natural tenancy to not act in concert. Praxis Astra can be the Dictator For Life of a group of players who can disappear like ghosts at a moment's notice without ever being able to do much to abuse anyone's perogatives.
The question that comes out of this is how to make a generalized alliance, not just a network of spies, but fleets with Admirals and Merchant Princes and different corporations with different specialties that has autonomy built into it for the individual players as well as the organization as a whole. That's goal one. Goal two is how to set up the thing so it forces its members to play better all the time. Yeah, forces. The whole lot of us from top to bottom. Because that's how you get people to be better. You challenge them. That would be a mighty trick to play.
What am I going to call these guys? Its like meeting a Sith Lord. Such unabashed willingness to destroy what others have built for its own sake. The word pirate or spy doesn't seem to do it justice. After a year and a half of the straight up and down guys in the corp I just left, these scoundrels are a breath of fresh air.
So the organization enters its testing phase. Players are coming to me and saying they want to be bad evil guys. The first step is to put this to the test. Listen carefully. Find out what the player really want to do. Really wants. NOt just what they say they want. Then if that's compatible with SFSC stuff, you've got a fit. A lot of these folks are going to wind up as contacts. That's fine too.
This ia so frackin' fun I just can't say. Meeting players from all over. Having to go on scouting and intel assignments all over the place, hi sec, null sec. NPC nullsec is fascinating. These guys would kill you as soon as look at you. I can hardly wait to start recruiting here.
He asked a good question before he died. Why are you doing this? There was no answer. His death was sweet. Short and easy. But as the life ebbed from his eyes I closed mine. I could escape from his question no more than he could escape my poison. It isn't enough to destroy. His struggles stopped, but mine were only beginning. The irony, here, is that one way or the other he and I would surely come to the same end.
Good? Evil? There is no good or evil. There is only the world and the patterns which with we invest it. To take the terror of this and peen it into another thing is the task of a man, a woman, a child even with the will to put their hand to that hammer. Better for most of us not to even try. To fail damns all our policies to nihilism, solopsisim, rudderless want. To succeed though.... To make an ethic so familiar as to help you shape yourself to exactly what you must be.... Who would not be tempted by such a prize? The power to be what you must be and do what you must do is the thing that makes anything else have value.
The group keeps you grounded and it imprisons you. I have people who work for me who recognize nobody's existence but their own. You can feel it in their reactions. If I were a dancing bear to be negotiated with or an alien, floating on my tank of liquid ozygen, they'd have the same reactions, the same plan. They see things only in terms of their own gain, or mine. To these creatures there is no reason to listen to a man's story aside from the tactical information to be gleaned. No amount of love or hate or time or familiarity will change this. I feel more kinship with my slaver hound bulldog than I do them. I wold mourn his death more than I'd mourn any of theirs.
These are the true intraspecies predators. They have no Word. They don't live as members of a social species. They will never understand that the best and worst things in life come from other people. They will never see the abyss that opens when a life is ended.
I find their company very stimulating. I spend a lot of time being aware of very basic things like where everybody is in the room.
How can I earn the trust of such people? How to make them understand that the value of their stories is greater than the intelligence they convey?
A young man asked me if he could bribe me to give him the contract. I found the very question amusing. Who would I put a good word in with after all? "Oh by the way Praxis?" "Yes, Praxis?" "I think this is the kid for the job." "Oh? And that wouldn't have anything to do with the 17.5 million ISK he bribed you with?
I told him he'd have to tell me the story of his first kill. I told him if he lied I'd have him hounded, hunted, killed suitably. He withdrew his contract and i haven't heard from him since.
I don't know what to tell Agent X about being conflicted because he has empathy for his targets. It was an interesting conversation last night. This is going to be an even bigger problem than I thought. I had no answer for him other than that there really isn't any comfort to be found in amorality any more than there was to be found in self abnegation. I think of the task I face with him as exactly the course Socrates took with the eponymous Gorgias. He has to detach himself from what he has been taught for only one moment. I can bring him to the threshold of that moment, and no farther. They have to make the leap all on their own for it to happen at all.
Insight. Its like free will. Or the wings of a butterfly. Touch it and its gone. Break it and everything you value in them the most will bleed away.
One of the first things you learn in this business is that there are plenty of tools in the world. You don't need to manufacture them.
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