Pilfered fragments from an unknown archive

  1. Cruoris.

I found my way to a darkened place filled with smoke, music, and that familiar crimson scent. It pooled everywhere underfoot. Slick and shimmering in the strobing lights. Bodies were strewn casually about the floor. All were missing parts.

The eggers would come here to numb out and mutilate themselves, or each other. Others would modify. Translucent skin – so you could see the organs inside, pulsing and working away.

Grotesque, yes. But a party like this keeps the baseliners out, and it was one of the last known places once might find a member of the Guiding Hand.

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I have not heard this name in years

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Yes, an old name. Weighty in the right circles if one wants to invoke mystery or mystique. The benefits of being a shadowy, enigmatic organisation is that people can never be quite sure if they’re all dead, or just disappeared. Perfect conditions for cultivating paranoid conspiracies. A myth that ages over time like wine, thriving and perfecting itself in forgotten cellars.

I fondly remember a tale of Istvaan’s describing a place like this one. Dreadful, and dreadfully imaginative. I wonder if those works are lost to time, or still sitting out there somewhere, waiting to be decanted.

These new gods have probably forgotten the old ones. I like to imagine them waking up again someday, hungry.

Group of Four – These were (probably) grouped for a reason.

106. Dominations.
Our initial analysis has been as rigorous as possible, but we are low on test subjects. Another shipment is required to complete the work.

Despite the earlier incident it does not appear to be a weapon, though it exhibits potential as one. Prolonged exposure at short range induces blurred vision (and in cases with overlapping fields, total and permanent blindness), dizziness, severe nausea, vomiting, and eventually a sustained loss of consciousness. Further exposure beyond that point does not appear to yield any other effects.

Given that lower social structures are non-biological, this may have been considered an acceptable tradeoff in the miniaturization of cloak technology for their use. The applications beyond that are unknown, though it suggests

Preliminary estimates are Early Ephemeralist era – approximately 20,000 syo.

Ca. 106-107 Unknown ternary identifiers a?t?z?
Olmar’s growing sentimentality spooked everyone. They’re moving custodianship back to the Zainou Ishukone nexus. They’ll accelerate things through our free captain proxies in the North. We’re assured this alliance is part of the play and our friends will return to the fold as needed, but in the intervening years, I want you watching things closely. Keep one eye on Constantine, and two on her watchdog.

111 Sabik
Your suspicions were correct. Two visits to the 4-4 den, and two detonations. Both now confirmed as her. We kept the same agent and invited her in again, as planned, but were hit by the exact same attack. It’s baffling. The same device was deployed before detonation too. Our agent and her guards lost consciousness near-simultaneously, a full two minutes prior to death. It’s still unclear if this is a targeted attack or the triggering of some defense mechanism. As with last time it’s impossible to determine more without autopsy. This was all followed by the same controlled incendiary cleanup. We will change plans and relocate. If she appears a third time, the clone will not die, and she will not escape again.

She showed almost no deviation from the first visit. We went ultra-low tech and somehow still she did this. We used our best scanners, and nothing remotely capable of this was found on the clone or nearby. We’re not sure at this point on the appropriate changes to security.

What’s especially strange is the repetition. Why return after the first attempt failed, if it was an attack? Why spoil the deal again if it was genuine? The recordings suggest she came for C3 once again, but that market collapsed for us months ago. Her actions make no sense.

111 Dominations
Explaining that latest one: She wouldn’t have returned if she remembered the first time. Must be filtering memory already and for some reason the first visit was compartmentalized or lost. There may be more than one of her already. She could be much closer than Zainou realize.

Chatter among the Sabik suggests they’re largely clueless. We initially suspected a ruse, but the same intercepts yield verified and valuable intel, and should continue to do so. Authenticated biometrics show the same pattern observed in the YC 106 event from the device recovered in Vitrauze, even down to the blindness (they haven’t thought to check for that yet, but they will eventually. I’ve given instructions on what to look for in future intercepts to everyone).

Heaven understood the initial 106 event correctly, it seems, but not the full of extent of this technology’s application and operational use. The apparently random interval of time between visits help confirm our suspicions about sustained telepresence capabilities. Maybe they were tracking her (unlikely, but possible), or sitting in that room (our theory). If so, two years is too long for any human agent to remain in a place like that undetected without being killed.

Every time something happens, we gain more data, but knowledge increases risk. If there’s a third time in their new den, we’ll know, but interception is even more doubtful now they’re alert. In the meantime, I suggest we move carefully. This is far beyond anything we thought possible. Even knowing this, or what is possible, has made us all targets. Our next step, only when ready, should be to infiltrate this place with a sacrificial lamb. We need to know if breaking the code of silence is what triggers these things. If they’re watching that room, doing it there will tell us. The Sabik know so little they’ll never stumble on it, so we’ll have to force a test ourselves. I am sure you appreciate the risks, but if knowing itself is what gets everything deleted and everyone dead, we may have to alter operations permanently.

Let’s reach out to Heaven and make sure Olmar is ready for a return. We’ll need JOEI to cooperate for this next part if any of this is accurate. She’s the only thing that can protect us outside of a full retreat.

Oh, and if you can pry her from the rest, we’ll take the asteroid girl too. She could be useful, but I understand if this task is impossible.

Note how many clones deep you are at this point. The others grow uneasy with too many duplications, given circumstances, but I don’t.

Unless you hear otherwise, I’ll be taking that advice you provided and putting the rest of this project back to sleep.

Ca. 111 Unknown ternary identifiers a?t?z?
You asked me to keep two eyes on him and I see why now. Parud network picked up a cognitive match on a second illegal clone.

Seems to be working under the pretense of a journalist. Most recently worked his way towards attending the appointment of Salaf. If the biometry is accurate, then this clone appears to have been stolen from Sisters’ stock (likely X-7, but we’ll verify). They haven’t reported it missing, though. I’ll send an agent to gently make them aware of this and gauge the response.

Longer term I will aim to uncover this second clone’s purpose, but I’ll need a secondary myself.–


Tadpole

PROLOGUE
PURPLE WINDS

It all started with the idea of the mesocosm – an enclosed experimental space; part real world, part simulated. It was a concept our Creators lifted from ecology. Out there in the field, the boundaries between a mesocosm and the greater environment were permeable – things could move between them. In this sense, it wasn’t really separate from the larger space it inhabited – the two were more alike than it might first seem.

In time, our Creators began thinking about virtual reality in this same way; not as separated space, but as something part of the real world; an enclosed, controllable version of it.

It was around this time, our best history tells us, where the line between the two first began to blur beyond recognition.

And now, we are lost.


23 June 2014 — … talk focused around EVE Online’s history and its future. … CCP aiming ‘to create virtual worlds more meaningful than real life’.

24 Mar 2015 — EVE Online has a news network, The Scope, that’s more informed on the inner workings of its universe than that of real-life news networks.

12 May 2015 — Their ambition was simple but ludicrous: to “create virtual worlds more meaningful than real life”.

30 Aug 2019 — EVE, which launched in 2003, has its own governments, currency, economy, and religions, making it more complex and intricate than even the most …

18 May 2020 — With creator CCP’s company mission being nothing less than to “create virtual worlds more meaningful than real life.” Quite the aspiration.


It is a cloudless night on the planet. A warm gust of air buffets against us, pushed down from the equator as it spills out over the surrounding tussocks. Bathed in the faint purple light of the nebula above, the ground ripples sensuously like waves. Just above the horizon now, the station has almost orbited out of sight. A small grey fleck is all that remains, shimmering occasionally as it catches the sun. We have gathered here today, in this wind-blown sea of grass, to look up. As our collective gaze pans toward the sky the purples gradually recede into an endless black. Eighty is leading the talk. She is telling us how there should be other stars out in that blackness – that this entire scene is not right.

The news is unsettling. There is a strained discussion about how much we can trust this information, and on what else we might already understand that explains it. She tells us this is everything we know – unless someone is withholding. Hours pass and we still have no consensus. The conversation shifts to what we can do to investigate, to the design of further experiments. Already, some are launching off into the darkness as they return to the station to reshape themselves – something with powerful lenses. Telescopic eyes to pierce the darkness, if MELA will allow the modifications. We should have done this earlier Eighty tell us, and for once we all agree.

I had heard the First were coming tonight, but we see no signs of it. Perhaps they are watching from afar. Perhaps they are among us. Perhaps they have left. We do not know.

There is a moment of excitement when we notice lights nearby but they are only fireflies. Out of caution, and perhaps some misguided hope, we scan a few of them but find nothing. We are alone tonight, it seems. The conversation falls away over time and most depart. The few of us remaining now sit in silence, still staring into that void. I sense they are wondering the same thing as me – if we really want to know the answers here.

I eventually leave too. Returns to the station are offered, but I decide to wander for a while. I want to feel the wind on my face a little longer.

For almost two hours I walk through the fields, slowly working my way down to the house by the river. I haven’t come this way in so long the path has become overgrown. The vegetation surrounds me, thick in places and difficult to break through. With this wind and the exertion, the environment starts to feel swampy. I have sweated entirely through my clothes by the time I can hear the sounds of water gliding over rock.

I kneel by the river, splash my face, and drink deeply. I can see the first signs of morning reflected in the flowing currents. It’s hard to imagine you’re alone, I think, watching as slivers of gold and white fall beneath the foaming water, and rise again.

Caught by the winds as they rush along the river, a patch of Eucalyptus trees sigh and groan in acquiescence, their leaves whispering in some unknown language amongst themselves. A large cutting of bark, not entirely separated from one tree, knocks gently against the trunk in the breeze. I wanted to make a boat from it, I remember. A canoe, it is called. I could use it to float down the river. Let it carry me out to the sea and sand. Perhaps, if it floated well enough, I could even rest as I drifted downstream.

I walk to the tree and gently peel the last of the bark away, cutting it as needed with a sharpened fingernail. Clouds of dust spill out from the thick bark as I wrest it loose. It is light, but sturdy. I try to think more on this idea. Canoe.

Following the riverbank further downhill to the house, I can see a strange new light ahead. Someone has installed a cord of incandescent bulbs and intertwined them with the Wisteria I planted. It now sprawls and climbs over anything that can support its endless appetite for expansion. Their flowers look almost white in the light of near dawn.

I pass through the gate, resting my makeshift canoe against an outer wall. I am scanned and the entrance slides open. Further inside I can hear music, and my mouth waters at the smell of onions cooking.

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CHAPTER 1
COGITO

#406 – Trieste | Day 2

I’ve come to tell our story, that much I know. I won’t capture all of it, that much I know too. From what I’ve learned in just a day, I can tell already that they’ve unspun too much thread for me to re-weave back into a complete tapestry, and they have no intentions of slowing down. The best I can hope for is to grasp the right strands and draw this madness back together into something that makes sense.

I wish I could ask it of them. I wish I could just say STOP. We need to get this all down first. Capture every part of it. Where we are now, where we have been, and what we know so far. The data loss when you each go your own ways about this is so needless and tragic.

Centralize. Consolidate. And then proceed.

But then perhaps this chaos – this unfettered curiosity – is the point. Perhaps even, this is the way?

I suppose I should lead by example and start by introducing myself.

My name is Trieste, and I am two days old.


During his talk, Groen mentions the flood of uncategorised archive information he’s picking through, the changeable wikis, the forum posts. As we talk in the interview he mentions the fear of information not exactly disappearing but simply becoming unreachable when the amount of digital content we produce outstrips our ability to catalogue it for archive accessibility. He also tells me that we don’t necessarily understand the importance of virtual worlds right now and their potential impact on the future. His book is an attempt to make something coherent from all of those disparate strands and smatterings of information.


Most of us live in a station orbiting a lush, oceanic planet world fifty kilometres below. The station is run and maintained by an intelligence we refer to as MELA. She is like a caretaker to us. She guided me in here, woke me, and nurtured me into this world. She is like a teacher too. Sometimes, when there are problems the rest of us cannot solve, she can provide the answers. Below, on the planet, a handful of us live different lives away from the many facilities available here, in our metal home.

The station orbits a planet, and that planet orbits a star. And that – is our world. For now? Or forever? Not even MELA knows the answer.

I arrived at the station in a box that some call coffins. We all did. The box was small. Just enough to hold me. We do not know where they come from, or why. Inside each is one of us. We journey through a darkness for a time we cannot count, and then we are here, delivered to the station’s arrival port – where curious inhabitants will gather in welcome.

I am arrival #406. What they call a Tadpole. It is over 3,000 days since the First arrived, though we do not see them. It has been many years, roughly speaking – we are still not completely sure on Time. There is debate on that, as all things.

Today, or perhaps yesterday, I think I may have died. I cannot recall. Perhaps it does not matter because I am not dead right now. Cogito ergo sum.


Australian National University
Ngunnawal and Ngambri Country
Tutorial for PHIL 2061 – Philosophy of Mind
5:59pm, Tuesday, March 2030

“Before we wrap up, who would like to explain what was meant here in the passage by “Descartes’s Rock”? What was the author trying to say?”

“That he’s alone?”

“Yes? Emily? Go on.”

“Well, he started by questioning everything, right? And after all that, the only thing he could be sure of in the end was his own mind. The whole cogito ergo sum thing. If he’s thinking, then he knows he exists. But that’s all he can really know. So, it’s like he’s stuck on a rock in the middle of the sea. It’s a firm rock, or like, a good foundation but…yeah.”

“It’s also a big sea.”

“Yeah! It’s like he’s sitting there, pointing at the waves, going Can’t be sure that’s real, can’t be sure THAT’s real, dunno about that either!

Laughter swelled through the classroom.

“Thank you Emily. Well said. And well put, Trieste! Okay, that’s it everyone. I’ll see you next week!”

Introduction and Abstract – Draft v1.2

‘I was there’: In-situ onto-epistemology in EVE Online

EVE Online’s single-server architecture and it’s deep, often arcane, open-ended sandbox gameplay creates conditions for collaborative in-situ environmental discourse set within a realistic in-situ socio-political context. This suggests the possibility of applying these same technologies and design principles to other “real world” applications where similar in-situ learning and knowledge exchange is desirable but not possible or practical, either due to external factors (COVID being a pertinent example) or other barriers to access such as distance or disability.

The transfer and teaching of Indigenous Ecological Knowledge (IEK) is an example of one such application. It illustrates how epistemological processes such as knowledge creation and exchange depend on more than static documentation and require the kinds of socio-political frameworks and interactive processes EVE Online simulates, while also sidestepping physical limitations to participation.

In the paper Law for Country, Wanta (Stephen Patrick) Jampijinpa, applies the Walpiri framework ngurra-kurlu to a standard ‘environmental stewardship’ challenge like the conservation of a threatened species. While the practitioner could document different aspects of ngurra-kurlu like language, law, skin, and ceremony that represent Warlpiri IEK, that process alone is ‘unlikely to foster revitalization of that knowledge because it does not engage with how the knowledge exists in situ’.

To better enable the regeneration of knowledge, he says we need to be there, actively engaging with the social institutions and political contexts: learning, teaching, modifying, practicing, and negotiating knowledge between us. We can’t just transform a cultural tour into a few pages of a report and call it a day.

To illustrate the point here, EVE Online’s in-situ socio-political simulations and institutions needn’t accurately map all their real-world counterparts, only demonstrate that focused, targeted areas pertinent to the application – in this case, game design – can be accurately simulated. I argue that the degree of success to which this is achieved in EVE suggests that other targeted applications could theoretically achieve the same for their own ends.


Introduction – Social and Political institutions – Draft v1.2

There are many different social structures in EVE Online, and one is between those who might identify as roleplayers (RPers), and those who do not. This may seem strange, given this genre of game – MMORPG – is an acronym for Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game. The difference is perhaps in how players understand what “roleplaying” means. For many, simply playing the game is playing a role - a definition most agree with, including many in CCP (the creators of the game). Others, however, like to expand this idea further. They will pay closer attention to the game’s background fiction, its history, and the people and places in the game’s environment the developers have created and described over decades. EVE Online’s science fiction setting is rich with history and possibility for those who like to like to see themselves not just as a game player, but a character within EVE’s virtual world, New Eden.

Related to this difference in playing style, there is a supposed dichotomy between player agency as in-game “regular players”, and partially in-game and also out-of-game “roleplayers”. This argument recurs especially in discourse on roleplay (RP) and “in-character” engagement with EVE’s setting. To put it simply, the thought is that posting on forums, or writing fiction, or even roleplaying in-game doesn’t contribute in the same way, or have the same impact, as players who actually “do things” in-game.

The idea here is related to age-old terms of reference the EVE community uses like “sandbox” and “theme park” which I’ll do my best to explain and represent in the context of EVE’s gameplay and narrative design.

A theme park is a mostly static experience: the rollercoaster is on rails, and the rides never change. In gaming terms, a theme park is driven mostly by non-player-character (NPC) content. Examples of this in EVE would be the “missions” that player-characters undertake. They are static content that does not change, driven by NPCs. In narrative terms, they are an unchanging story told “down from on high”, by the writers, designers, developers, and artists who make the content. Because they are static, they are largely a story told to players, not with them. In terms of player agency, and in terms of knowledge creation and exchange, it’s akin to a pamphlet acting as a tour guide for a museum. There is no bilateral knowledge exchange – no conversation, no asking questions. It’s a mostly unidirectional experience and ontology.

By comparison, a sandbox is driven by players. The unpredictable, dynamic, and complex interactions possible between people at various scales enables emergent behavior and unexpected outcomes. The story is told by the players, about the players, with the players. The actions of past players too, contribute to a rich history and narrative. This sandbox history could be considered contested too, and somewhat amenable to a constructivist analysis. Many parts of EVE history are not objectively understood – despite attempts by historians like Andrew Groen to document somewhat authoritative records. Instead, they are filtered by different player’s socio-political frames and positions as agents in that history, as inheritors of its consequences and political associations, and as onlookers with their own in-game stakes and views. History and knowledge are negotiated by these different parties. The general design and promotion of EVE revolves around this kind of sandbox gameplay, where players have a unique level of autonomy and agency relative to other games, and where the core experience is not “on rails”.

Highlighting further differences, the same is rarely said for the history of EVE’s setting. The in-setting content communicated by activities like the previously mentioned “missions” is not considered “up for debate” by the community in the same way. It is instead considered a kind of literary canon and referred to as such by the community. Player contributions to the in-world setting and its content are labelled as “fan fiction”, and developer-made contributions given the hierarchical term “Prime fiction” or PF. Players are advised and, to an extent, pressured by other roleplayers towards social norms where these hierarchies are recognized. Works outside an accepted canon – what we might call Apocrypha – might be frowned upon. Players whose fiction or actions violate extant canon are sometimes labelled as “god-modders” – a term that implies they are making modifications to the world that only gods (developers) could or should be able to make. The lowly player cannot speak down from the Heavens (well, not unless they become a god-creator in Zion first, of course).

In his brilliant Long Read: How a virtual world went to the edge of apocalypse and back, Simon Parkin describes it in this way:

Few video games accommodate their player base in this way. Eve’s creators have learned that the future of their world depends not only on the happiness of the game’s players, but also their feeling that the players, ultimately, own the world which they inhabit. Pétursson describes his company as mere caretakers. A better analogy is that he and his employees are gods. While many CCP staff members play the game avidly, they also exist in Eve on a celestial stratum, defining the rules and boundaries of its reality, listening to the desires of the players and deciding whether or not to act upon their pleas.

Unique to EVE Online, and demonstrated in the quote above about a “shared ownership” framework, is that these lines between sandbox and theme park, and between player and creator, can become deeply blurred, in both ways. The differences I’ve laid out have important exceptions.

Firstly, in-game player actions that have in-game impacts can be deeply motivated by in-setting, in-character, roleplayed positions. Jericho Fraction (JF) is mentioned in that history of “player/sandbox actions” documented by Andrew Groen, but what’s left unelaborated (at least in the Wikipedia entry summarizing the book) is that JF’s motivations were essentially roleplayed. Indeed, Groen’s characterization is that many of those early players operated in a semi-roleplayer mode where they took the game seriously – a norm later subverted by Goonswarm. Though many will have forgotten this aspect of this particular story, some have not. Eve’s past has many remaining survivors and delegates, and a non-zero portion of them remain in positions of influence to negotiate not only these histories, but what they represent. More importantly, countless other campaigns like JF’s have repeated throughout EVE’s history and still do today. Players driven by roleplayed motivations have always “played a role” in shaping the geography and the political and social topology of EVE Online’s virtual world. Some of these groups have shown tremendous staying power throughout its many decades of operation.

Secondly, many player actions and stories have been directly converted by CCP from “fan fiction” into canon. CCP’s sustained interest in recognizing player agency is unique among games and has taken a multitude of forms over the years, worth outlining in some detail.

Turning fanfic to canon.

Throughout the game’s development, short stories and “chronicles” have been written to expand the game’s science-fiction space-based setting and introduce foundational ideas such as the role of players as immortal starship captains, “capsuleers” who can re-enter a new clone of their body after death. Notably, some of these chronicles were written by players, not developers, and can still be read today on EVE’s official websites. Many others written by players were not documented online, but still officially recognized through publication of EVE Online’s magazine EON.

Another source of engagement has been CCP’s volunteer program, the Interstellar Services Division (ISD). It has for years run a reporter’s division that creates fictional news content and reports on player actions, incorporating them into the game’s lore regardless of the motivations that inspired said actions. Because of these reporters, players who don’t explicitly identify as “roleplayers” can still find themselves involved, or even enshrined, as part of the game’s lore and history through their actions and achievements, or sometimes just through dumb accident or luck.

Other divisions of ISD have run in-game events of various kinds over the years ranging from small-scale chats about politics in dedicated roleplay channels, to large-scale conflicts and intrigue played out in-game with stakes on the line such as in-game rewards, penalties, assets, and so on.

Complementing volunteer-led “live events”, CCP has also created their own larger-scale events with a focus on player agency and ability, in targeted and limited ways, to shape the game’s official narrative and the world it describes. Early in EVE’s history, a planet was named after a player who won a “space race” spanning the universe. Many players are enshrined as champions of yearly tournaments – their names etched into in-game items that record and celebrate their accomplishments. Others who have contributed to in-game projects and events have seen their contributions recognized, or even translated directly to in-game content.

These experiments in interactive narrative and sandbox gameplay demonstrate the various ways in which virtual worlds can create a place-based, bilateral knowledge exchange and creation process (writing and negotiating history together, creating and negotiating an agreed upon reality together), that is grounded in that place’s own social and political contexts (the geographies of New Eden, the world’s setting, the meta-understanding of these places as players, the political alliances and histories of player groups).

It is important to note these specific configurations and their parameters are application oriented: the goal is to create a game, and a game with a very specific and unique flavour. Other applications, such as the virtualization of worlds and peoples for the purposes of education or research (sometimes dubiously labelled “serious games”) could employ similar design principles enabling bilateral exchanges but create wholly different social and political frameworks and settings to ground them. Indigenous epistemologies and ontologies could be “hard-coded” into these experiences to represent customary laws, in much the same way that New Eden’s laws preventing planetary genocide by powerful capsuleer starship captains are hard-coded into the game: players cannot unilaterally decide to destroy a planet, or the game’s core NPC factions, or the world itself (something that would be sub-optimal for CCP’s business model). The possibilities are limited only by technology, programming sophistication, and the imagination.

Research-based simulations that in socio-political terms (if not visual terms) border on emulation have equally promising applications. This allows for researchers to visualize accurate reproductions of environments and that are normally difficult to access. The work of Robert Fleet showed how studying EVE’s criminal and violent side – empowered by the higher player agency EVE’s sandbox allows – created a relatively useful dataset for studying “real-world” criminal and violent behavior. More broadly, he makes the point that player activity in these virtual worlds can create useful data for a range of applications, something that has been seen elsewhere, but remains little explored by many academics and developers alike.

The way in which these behaviors intermix and interplay with both real-world and in-setting ideas and ideologies, and the way that actions (regardless of intent) can translate to “canon”, all suggest that EVE Online is not just a microcosm, as Parkin describes, but a mesocosm too.

To add:

As an example of social-political contexts permeating the mesocosm and existing simultaneously within “dual realities”: Hiring in the ISD’s fiction and reporting divisions might be partially influenced by player allegiance and familiarity with lore, including focusing on specific factions or ideas. As an example, roleplay-focused players from a specific faction bloc might have elevated knowledge and engagement with that area and be able to contribute greater insights and contributions to the game canon. Regardless of whether it is true, the point is that it could be, in some small way. The socio-political contexts allow for this consideration to occur in the first place.

Modern-day hiring and organizational structuring that focuses on ensuring a diversity of perspectives and voices from those with different backgrounds is not dissimilar from ensuring that your cadre of interstellar reporters has a Minmatar expert to report and write on matters related to that in-game faction, and to get that you might have to go to the source – Minmatar-aligned roleplayers.

Equally, the notion of hiring someone from within a faction to then report on it creates potential conflicts of interest – another socio-political consideration with an ethical dimension. Indeed, there have been many times throughout the game’s history where developers and others have been perceived as biased towards or favoring one particular faction, character, or idea – a concern that echoes the stakes and importance of the game’s setting to some, and the ways it can influence other areas and players who may not even identify as traditional roleplayers or show direct interest in the game’s settings and lore. EVE’s ancient history includes a related incident where a developer was so deeply invested in their in-game community and its power, that they created new items exclusively for them, to create advantage. EVE is serious business, as the game’s most well-worn adage goes.

These complexities illustrate how these in-game contexts can to an extent map and mirror the real world.

As an example of historians documenting “dual realities”: Minoru Hokari’s approach to Indigenous history – specifically the Gurindji walk-off – showed how even academics can work within, between, and across different epistemologies, ontologies, and accounts of events in a way that respects and accounts for all.

Nightmares of a star god
Herko Kerghans, Taleweaver

They die with us,
we don’t.

Beautiful day. Deep blue and bright white. So bright… Eyes forget colors, up there. And not only eyes… skin white as the sand, and sun beats merciless. Like it that way, just hot sun and my skin. And hot sand… everybody is barefoot except me.

Nothing seems to have changed much. Same few roofs here and there, same distants rocks, same people enjoying the sea and the sun. My little piece of paradise, just as I left it when I went up.

I approach a group of boys and girls around my age, yet so much younger… A few are still swimming, although most have gathered in a loose circle. They light a fire. Some of them dance… Tanned bodies, firm muscles, singing and laughing.

“Heyya man! You a pilot, right? First time I see one… no offense!”

I smile. “Yeah… Most of us stay up… but I’m still in love with good ol’gravity…”

Friendly laughter. “C’mon, come sit with us by the fire! Gonna get cold soon!”

They make space, I sit among them. The girl to my right places a light hand on my shoulder, her hand so warm…

“It’s ok… you are not a ghost… but you do need some serious tanning!!”

We joke. We laugh. We sing. We talk. The girl’s name’s Aikka. Deep dark eyes, thick dark hair flowing like a waterfall. Stars are up.

”Tell us about the stars!!”

With voice and gestures I build massive space stations for them, stargates, huge ships. I share the euphoria of warp drive, the nausea of gate jumping, the pure joy of flowing in zero G.

“And all the time in this pod of yours?”

Yes, all the time… in a pod, in a womb, in a wet grave. You feel through optic fiber, you have metal for limbs and chips for brain. Your senses crave the warmth… you can see the sun, a million suns, yet your skin is always trapped in fluid in plastic in steel.

You itch but you cannot scratch.

The Void all around you, the Cold for only company.

“I’ve heard… I’ve heard it’s violent up there, isn’t it?”

It is… yes it is. Massive fleet battles, ships bursting into flames, steel structures the size of a moon exploding so bright as to humble a small sun. I point them places I’ve been to… places I’ve fought in… Places I’ve died…

“But you don’t… you can’t… die, right?”

No, we don’t die. What is death to us, immortal man-machines? Our ship dies. Our crew dies. We don’t… eternal gods in bodies of steel, spewing fire through the galaxy.

Night is falling and the air is cold, too cold for me. I get closer to the fire. Aikka kneels behind me, her body barely touching my back, so warm… Her fingers brush the contour of my cyber jacks.

The faint touch is almost too much to bear.

“But oh, my immortal god… a high price you have payed…”

She kisses the back of my head.

Over the implants.

I know her soft lips touch the metal.
My every nerve craves the contact.
It burns my soul,
but metal doesn’t feel doesn’t feel
DOESN’T FEEL!!
it growls from my stomach
it crawls up my chest
it burns through my throat and I’m screaming I’m yelling I’m crying I’m trembling and she holds me tight as I vomit my pain and my rage

OOOHH GOOOD!!! OOOHHH GOOODDD!!!

I can’t see I can’t think I can’t will I shake and sob and cry and feel her holding me and feel the others gently grabbing my shoulders, putting their palms on my chest on my back on my head and hugging me they hug me they hug me tight…

They hold me tight as I try to take my shaking hands to the back of my head, to the cold numb spot I NEED TO TEAR IT AWAY!! away from me and my body and my skin and feel her warm lips and her kisses her kisses her kisses her kisses…

They hold me tight until my body stops shaking
and my eyes are dry
and my throat is burning
and my arms are limp and relaxed by my side.

And she wispers in my ear:

“Don’t worry, my god… you are still human”