Podded

I was podded again.

We were fighting in Klogori and managed to take one with us before our pods ejected. We each warped off and Inarri was the first to reach the Hadozeko gate. He was pursued by the capsuleer we shot down, who had quickly reshipped into a Proteus; one apparently fit with hyperspacials. Inarri had a head start, and was mid warp when the Proteus entered Hadozeko. It blew past his pod and waited for him to land. Inarri died on the Resbroko gate.

I landed after. I saw the cracked capsule as I passed, but somehow both myself and Kyra made it into Resbroko. We thought we’d avoided the danger, but as I landed on the Hror gate a Maelstrom decloaked. I saw a flash, and the next thing I know I’m floating in a vat, nauseous and dizzy with a splitting headache… Kyra met the same fate.

I’ll never get used to it, I don’t think. However I can’t help but notice that each time feels a little less impactful.
Not the dreadful waking process; the significance.
I just died. Shouldn’t that mean something?

The first thing Inarri spoke of after waking was how he lost his Crystals. He’s never been one to shy away from cybernetics. I get it, they’re expensive. Losing that would be frustrating and I don’t blame him for his irritation. I just can’t help but worry how he was more concerned with losing his implants than he was with losing himself.

So many capsuleers will clone jump to close a distance, or to swap out augments, or to cure a hangover… There is such a willingness to throw our own lives away. This idea that our death is inconsequential is worrisome, because it becomes easy by extension to devalue the life of another.

The indifference to death scares me.
I don’t want to gradually grow numb.
Though I worry that this indifference is already creeping in.

There is this tendency for capsuleers to grow callous and apathetic. It’s not true for everyone, but it’s more than common enough to alarm me. I’ve met a pirate more concerned with her profits than her tribe, and a defector who believes morality is the incorrect choice. I have a rival who thinks the human corpse is pleasant decoration, and a friend who suggested certain planets be glassed.

Why is this normal? Why are these things just ignored and forgotten and accepted? We measure battles in loss of ISK rather than loss of life, and continue to seek conflict as if we haven’t had enough. I have heard so many capsuleers equate the concept of violence and fun. A “good fight” shouldn’t be a phrase. Aren’t they all bad? This is a mindset I pray I avoid.

Yet I can’t help but acknowledge the addiction of adrenaline.
The butterflies. The heart pounding shakes.
A small part of me enjoys the fight. A smaller part even craves it.

War and death are unavoidable. I am not so naïve to believe otherwise. Needless conflict stoked by greed and politics are a senseless waste of life, but fighting to change the cluster for the better is a fight I will always take. We are capsuleers. We are too powerful to be reckless, too influential to be careless, and have too much potential to be ignorant of the problems we could tackle. We just need to remember what we are doing it for.

This idea of self before other needs to end. We will exist for countless lifecycles. We have plenty of time for ourselves. Can’t we spare some of that time to make the universe a better place? One of the most depressing things I hear is people who say it’s impossible. They believe the cluster is hopeless to change, and some even think destruction is a better alternative. It is not.

I can feel all of this death and violence starting to change me.
I’ve been quicker to anger, less patient and forgiving, and at times even cold.
But I cannot quit for the sake of myself.

Because someone needs to fight,
And someone needs to die,
And someone needs to stand and oppose that which is truly evil.

Every one of us needs to take a hard look at what our actions are causing for others, because our choices can affect thousands if not millions of lives. However, we must also act for those lives. We must shield and fight on their behalf.

The only way anything will ever change is if we make it happen. We can make a difference. It is on each of us to try, and it is on each of us to do what is right. It is on you to make an effort.

Our future, which we will experience, is in our hands. That future is worth sacrificing for.

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Oh, how addicting it is.

It’s something that I struggle with too. Fighting as we do, should be treated with seriousness as a necessary, but unfortunate job.

But it’s hard to not want more. And when you fight a lot, it’s hard not to treat it casually.

I’ve had the same sorts of struggles for a long time. Just do your best to question yourself about everything. Introspection can keep you on the right path, and treating what we do with the reverence it deserves.

Generally speaking, yes. Conflicts such as the one we both participate in represent a failure of humanity to overcome our differences through more measured means. We can come to conclusions about who is to blame - you know my thoughts on that particular topic already and I fear I know yours all too well - but the fact remains that humanity as a whole is wounded every time our differences can no longer be resolved through any means other than violence.

However, I don’t believe that offering somebody a ‘good fight’ following the conclusion of a battle should be taken as an indication of the participants’ desensitisation. If anything, I’d argue it’s the complete opposite. It’s a recognition of the fact that the person you just engaged with is a human being themselves. They may be deeply misguided, callous, aggressive, or any number of deplorable things, but they are also a person that tried their hardest to put everything they had into fighting for whatever it is they believe in. Sometimes recognising that effort can go a long way to stop yourself from dehumanising them, even when it may feel that they have done so to you.

That is why I have tried to ensure I say it to you, no matter how much it may have pained me to do so in recent months.

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It’s a defense mechanism, a rationalization. It’s a way to avoid having to think about things too much, to avoid contemplating just what’s happened. and that has to be avoided, because it threatens the ultimate defense-through-denial rationalization that most capsuleers cling to so desperately: the delusion that we’re ‘immortal’.

Convenience, mostly. If you hold people to account for the positions they espouse, you’ll find your circle slowly shrinking. Lucrative and influential positions will become prisons—what if the person in charge knowingly does something that violates your principles? So a lot of people turn a blind eye to the immoralities around them. And it’s not just capsuleers, though we’re probably among the segment where that immorality has the highest odds of involving violence and death on a massive scale.

There are a lot of factors in this. For some, it’s the adrenaline high that you bring up. Or it’s bloodlust against a hated enemy, or a need to show the other side up… or in some cases, yeah, just a need to get their rocks off by killing people. Some pilots are just screwed up homicidal maniacs whose clone contracts should be cancelled. :person_shrugging:

For others… it’s satisfaction, and fulfillment. I spent years honing my skills—not the skillbook training, but the actual ‘how you prepare, how you lead, and how you react in the moment on the field’ skills that went into my non-Directorate positions within the Imperium; Recon pilot, Logistics pilot, logistics lead, the creation and running of RepSwarm, etc. I spent countless hours studying, both pure academics to understand the way ships and modules operate to what some like to call watching ‘game day tape’, playing back footage of engagements, my own and others, seeing what worked, what didn’t, and why. Learning from the successes and failures of the best across New Eden until I got to the point where I was confident that I was the best.

When you put that level of work in, for that long… there is a real joy to being able to put all that effort into practice, to be what you have spent so much of your life working to be, to do what you have bent all of your efforts toward being able to do. And it’s not adrenaline. I’ve gotten that adrenal spike, sure. I know what that feels like. It’s never given me the transcendent sense of… fulfillment, I guess, that performing my function at the the peak of my capabilities does. Of taking all of that work, and breathing life into it in a way that is so much more than the sum of its parts.

I know when I’m off my game, as it were. I’ve had fleets where I knew my positioning was off, my reactions weren’t perfect. Where I realized I overlooked something in the prep. A lot of time, that’s when the adrenaline kicked in… when there was a reason for alarm. That’s how I know that that adrenaline high? It’s nothing compared to the deep satisfaction of knowing you are doing what you have worked hard to be able to do, and doing it as well as you possibly can. Even if what you’re doing is only necessary because you’re stuck in a horror show.

I know this is a thing that gets tossed around unironically a bunch in small-scale engagements, and honestly… that still boggles my mind. I can tell you from experience that there’s a good 200,000 or so pilots in null who only ever use that phrase as mockery of the other side… even though a lot of them will never admit it.

No.

Sometimes, violence is a necessary response to injustice. Maybe there’s no time to seek a non-violent solution on the scale that’s needed. More often, the non-violent solutions have already been tried and failed.

In moments like that, it is important to separate the situation from your response to the situation. Regret that things progressed to the point of violence. Regret that violence became necessary. But when violence becomes necessary… never regret answering that necessity.

We’re really not. While we may be able to present a level of individual violent response that’s largely unmatched across New Eden, if we all got together—every independent capsuleer in New Eden, regardless of where you’re originally from, and demanded social change in any of the empires… they’d ignore us. And what would we do about it? Shoot the baseliner vessels CONCORD lets us see? So much of the baseliner economy travels on vessels our pods’ and ships’ firmware just automatically filter out and never even tell us have been nearby.

I’ve been there. After B-R5RB, it got pretty bad. It took time, and refocusing on human connection with people, to pull me out of it. And the relationship I started while I was in that recovery process… it crashed and burned, hard… and while I don’t know that the reasons really connect the two things… I don’t know that they don’t, you know?

That anger you feel, that coldness? Stop and ask yourself some time if it isn’t all a way to avoid dealing with something else. I couldn’t begin to say what it is in your case, but it might be a sense of guilt at what you have to do. Or at what you can’t do. Like I said, it hit me hard after B-R, and it was because it doesn’t matter how good your fleet’s engineering wing is, or how fast you get the nano-reassemblers streaming, when dozens of doomsdays hit a single target in a single volley… you’re impotent, vestigial. When the escape pods are getting mired down in a few hundred kilometers of anchored warp disruption bubbles and annihilated by overlapping titan smartbomb sequences… it’s agonizing. Eight years later, I still get REM-cycle phantoms if I try to cycle down in the pod for too long. S’why all of the capitals I own include staterooms and an internal pod gantry so I can decant.

In the end… you need to find what works for you, and then… let it out. The anger, the pain that drives you to shut down and embrace that cold, armored exterior. Find ways to vent, to express what you’re feeling. Or… eventually… go mad.

Probably not. But someone will, and we shouldn’t need it to be ‘us’ for that to be reason enough to try to give them a decent place to experience.

Also, happy belated birthday. Hope you get to celebrate it next Mar 23rd.

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It’s been rather inspirational to hear your thoughts, motivations, and your hope for the future. The slippery slope you describe is very much real. Death becoming a temporary nuisance devalues a part of what makes life worth living. Life’s meaning reduced down to numbers, raw data; just as our memories and consciousness is, over and over again. I do believe we lose pieces of ourselves each time we die. Though, one can only hope, in some small way, that we are all the better for it. Commit the hard lesson to memory, and aim to do better next time.

I can offer no consolation, I’m afraid. The drift towards callousness and indifference can either be a slow fall or a swift one, but it is a fall nonetheless. The only antidote I found was to not take anything for granted. Death will get its due. It always does.

And yet … even as the Autumn leaf falls, perhaps a sudden gust of wind may yet lift it up to prolong its flight. If only for a time.

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