Life is an interesting experience. We sail through it, most of the time not thinking about it’s end. We consume it’s joys and sorrows oblivious to it’s ultimate and implacable finality. We rarely get to know when we’ll experience our last hug, our last kiss, our last gaze into someone’s eyes… But, sometimes we get to know when the end comes, and we get to do the things we always wanted to do.
This is the case of an EVE: Online player. And EVE: Online player with a character named @Chappy78_Chapman, which is, in real life, fighting an unforgiving medical condition. Among Chappy’s life wishes, was to have one big EVE fight for his birthday. One fight to bring out the best in him and the best in us. One fight to resound through New Eden and through time, into the history of New Eden: Chappy’s Summoning.
This was surely an unique and exhilarating event for all that took part in it. I’ll always remember hearing about it on “Talking in Stations” 15 minutes into the event and double checking and triple checking if it was in that moment. Then putting together a pair of ships and blitzing them to the Tunudan system, where it was to take place. The trip there was exciting in itself, coming from about 20 jumps out, jumping in a haste, without taking time to scout the gates for campers, all the time questioning if I will get there in time. The last leg of the journey went through the Kulelen system, which is fitting, because this is a special one, being a Triglavian invaded system, thus part of the cutting edge of the EVE lore. The jump into the Tunudan brought forward the first pleasant surprise: around 1900 players in-sistem at the time of my arrival, with many more to come and a 90% TiDi. I quickly proceed to a few random system bookmarks, just in case, “quickly” being more of a formal choice of words here, as the 90-95% TiDi made sure it took me 10 minutes to jump between 3 celestials. After this logistics drill, I warp in to the main place of the battle: The Tunudan Sun. I was greeted with a brief game freeze, just as I was approaching the 10.000 Km threshold of my warp, only for the game to pick up again and present me with a truly awesome sight: in front of me lay a massive, tightly packed battle blob, comprised of what must have been at least 1.000 on-grid ships, and that is low-balling it and already as that many wrecks. I was pleased to see ships of all kinds and classes, ranging from the most modest corvette, the snappy cruisers and destroyers, the sturdy battleships, to the mighty Rorqual, Phoenix, Naglfar, Zirnitra and later on a Leviathan.
The blob was flashing red and yellow, from the flag system. Everyone was shooting left and right, some cleverly positioned capital ships were smartbombing everything around them to oblivion, some kind hearted capsuleers were repping others, some were drone swarming and some were target painting and disrupting, but we were all having fun. The fight lasted for a honest 3 to 4 hours, with no shortage of ships being fielded and ammunition being put to use. I’ll always remember zkillboard’s page for the system being rapidly updated, faster than the main page for the whole game is usually updated, until zkillboard himself fell victim in this fight, stopping updating precariously at 03:57 EVE time, on a Thorax kill and staying in this neuted state for the rest of the EVE-day, until shortly after down-time. I’ll always remember listening to a twitch broadcast of this battle, one where Chappy was present and speaking along with a handful of other EVE streamers and content creators and hearing him recount his EVE experiences and encounters with other players. I’ll always remember the other players talking out of the goodness of their hearts and encouraging him to look forward in his life, and at one time, one streamer pointing out a Marshall kill that took place in this battle, the pilot of the battleship - a well-known Wingspan wormhole hunter - having a special meaning to Chappy, with Chappy not knowing that he came to this battle, and getting emotional when he realized that Wingspan showed up and spared no expense, fielding a bling-fit Marshall for this occasion.
I must say that I’m an adult, I have real-life obligations, interactions and relations, I play EVE mostly for the fun of it, but damn it, I couldn’t help but feel a sting in my eye, a lump in my throat and get a wrinkly chin when I heard Chappy’s reaction.
Congratulations to Chappy, to the game developers, game masters, ISD’s all of CCP’s staff and all of the EVE Online gamers community for answering the call of one player to gather and bring the best of themselves, to gather and have fun and entertain each other, to gather and be human together, in a virtual world, in a time when we are so divided and separated in real-life, when bad things are happening and emotions run high (2.020 – COVID-19). This event will forever be etched in the history of New Eden and the greater gaming world. It will be so because it was organized on a dime, in a splinter of time and it rose to greatness out of the good-will and kindness of upwards of 2.000 players on a single game shard. This event now exists because it can, not because it must, it exists because we chose to make it so. 2.000 players that chose to take a simple idea and turn it into an epic reality. And that is something to be remembered and treasured.
I leave you with pictures taken by various players throughout this battle.
Happy birthday! Fly into the light, Chappy!