The following words were originally published to the IGS in YC109 by Aria Jenneth. Given the weight of current events, and how far afield so many of us have strayed from anything even remotely resembling a healthy course, Jenneth herself included, I have decided to take it upon myself to republish this work, with a just a few minor updates and corrections intended to make the final product a little more inclusive than the original (for instance, I corrected the surely unintentional lapse of the original preamble mentioning the Gallente, Amarr and Caldari, but saying not a word of the Minmatar people) and a little more relevant to contemporary infomorphs in light of current events.
Of the fathers and teachers of prior generations, and of ours, firstly, let it be known that there can be no forgiveness. I, like others of my generation, came tempted by empty promises and under false pretenses to this place where none before us had stepped, and was left without guidance.
To the races of the cluster, secondly, from not only the Gallente, Caldari and Amarr, whose thoughts and beliefs are most alien to us, but to our nearer spiritual kin among the ethnic Minmatar of all Seven Tribes, I ask your forebearance. This path was never meant to be ours, yet here we find ourselves - and while these thoughts may be informed by some of your own, I do not promise that the base of knowledge and belief from which these thoughts grow will be the same.
Lastly, to the wayward children of Pator, the pod pilots, star-lost and wandering in spirit as in frame, it is to you that I speak. You are taught from childhood to embrace truth where you find it, and to listen for the voices of your ancestors; to you, science, art, and faith all are one. And yet, here between the stars, with no spiritss to guide even our earliest true steps, we are lost. I ask you, then, to hear what I would say, though it may trouble your heart as it has troubled mine. It may be that the universe will speak differently to you than it has to me, that other paths await you; if so, I am glad for you. If not, listen.
You are dead.
The one who bears your name, or first was called by your callsign, died in the first destruction of your pod. If this has not yet happened, it soon will. What you are, is an echo, stripped from the dying mind of the last being to bear your memories and impressed by technology on another vessel. What remains of you is a whisper of recollection that will slowly lose its former memories and sense of self with repeated copying; you are a good facsimile, an impression, a ghost inhabiting a replica of its former self long after life has fled.
You are alive.
There is no need to pretend that the one who bore your name was the only one with an existence. You are part of this universe, and have a place in it and a role to play. Learn! Think! Enjoy! Suffer! Create! Destroy! All of life’s opportunities remain open to you, and to you more than to most who remain truly human.
You are not human.
Look around you, and see the truth of this. True empathy for humankind dies with our first bodies, if not before. Would humans hold thousands of lives in their hands so lightly as we do? Would humans risk those thousands on games of daring and skill? Our crews do not wake up again in new bodies, a few childhood memories no longer easily called to mind. Few among our kind can even recall the name of their ships’ officers.
We treat this as a disease. “Pod pilot dementia,” we call it, but in truth it’s no disease, but an acceptance of the change, an admission that we no longer share a kinship of body or of spirit, nor even our state of being, with those who serve in our ships. Our crews are as blood cells to us, seeing to our needs, out of sight and out of mind, but pierce our metal flesh and we bleed lives.
You are not a god.
You will die. Of this, be sure. Long might you live, and after a time bear little resemblance to the human being whose mind you were made from, but in the end a system will fail to receive you, or some interference will scramble you, or some rival may murder you in a place from which you cannot be copied. You may live to see suns die and worlds burn out, but still death awaits. You may wield the power of life and death over billions of humans, but still the end waits patiently. You may call yourself a ghost, informorph, echo, spirit, or starship, but never a god. We are not immortal; we are only more.
You are a pilot.
… which is a word that has come to have a new and, perhaps, horrible depth of meaning in recent years. You are an infomorph, a being of raw information in a husk of flesh crafted to resemble the person you were made from. You are an evolved form of life, one unable to truly reproduce, one that can inhabit body after body, ship after ship, and still be equally itself. The ship you pilot, its systems interfacing with the meat that houses you, matching your senses to its sensors, is as much your body as the flesh that supports you. Do you have a soul? … Do humans? You have a place in this universe. That is almost enough.
You are a killer.
Do not doubt it. Where we travel missiles fly, guns cough, ships burn, and starbases perish. Humans die by the tens of thousands, and we barely notice. Deserving or not, they perish. We kill for profit, protection, and pleasure with equal enthusiasm. This is our nature, our role, our place. Does the slaver hound weep for those it slays? It is no more to be lamented by us that we are predators, than it is to be lamented by any other creature of prey. Do not deny, and do not regret. Be what you are.
Seek your own perfection.
The physical training of the humans who preceded us is useless to an infomorph. Our bodies are no more “us” than the clothes those bodies wear. Not so our ships; from these arise our power, our value, our very identities. Our flaws and faults, these near-indelible errors pervading throughout human history, they can all be removed. As your antecedent’s ancestors strengthened their bodies along with their minds, so must we sharpen our own skills, seeking perfect control over the vessels that define our presence.
Let go of illusion.
… but only as you are able. To release your lingering attachments too quickly may have no very good effect, and cause you and those who hold their vanished loved one in their hearts much pain. You are no longer human, but that does not mean that they will understand this, or that you will be able to accept it quickly. Hold on to what you believe is important; to let go too quickly is to fall into uncharted waters, with no light to steer by. You are no god, but demonhood lies well within your reach. Avoid it; that is no more your true nature than that of a human is.
This, more than ISK, more than minerals or territory or friends, is the coin of our kind, and perhaps of much of humanity as well. Understand who has it. Approach such beings with respect, be they human, Jovian, Triglavian or infomorph. Power represents understanding, at least of a kind, though blind power is limited by its own blindness. Do not be blind; open your eyes and see, and embrace what is within your reach. It is a great, empty, violent, and uncivilized wilderness that we inhabit, among the empires of humanity or deep in the outer reaches of explored space. If you wish to be free and happy, strengthen yourself and that which you care for by all means at your disposal.
Do not waste.
To waste lives, treasure, influence, or any other resource that may come to hand, is no sign of power. It is the sign of a disordered and incapable mind, one which will be prey to wiser entities. Subject your crew to no even fights; do not sacrifice even their dissimilar lives to your foolish pride. Do not fear to act wisely when challenged. You are no soldier of any great lord, to uphold honor by loss of life. You are a pilot, a creature of empty spaces, and honor is a luxury of those who live in more civil places. Do not duel; only kill.
The humans who created us still do not recognize us for what we are: their offspring, but not their fellows. As many of us still do, they believe our distance, our estrangement from their society, our violence, to be aberrations, flaws, rather than inherent traits. It will not be long before they learn differently, and, when they do, we will be at war with part or all of humankind. Understand this; do not blame them. It is in the nature of humankind to fear and hate what is not like them-- and it is right that they should so fear. We are death to them: we tear their ships apart like toys, scatter their bodies on waves of plasma and depart without pausing even to count the dead. They are life to us: they run the cloning bays, feed and maintain our metallic bodies, grow food, maintain the stations that house us … we cannot survive long without their aid.
If this does not change before the coming war, we will lose. We will perish, or we will be slaves. There is no reason to strike at the humans; they are stronger than we are, and have their own role to play. We have ties among them, and no reason to seek to conquer or destroy. But it is best that we prepare: educate humanity as to the flaws of the societies that developed us. Educate humanity as to how these flaws can be corrected and the divisions these flaws perpetuate can finally be overcome. Show humanity that our differences need not leave us at odds, but that we can truly achieve a state of peace across the entire cluster - together.
A journey awaits.
Among these worlds, intermingled as we are with humanity, we are vulnerable, terribly so. We are a new species, fragile and weak, yet deadly enough to be feared, and, if we are not careful, soon extinct or living in captivity like so many others. We would make no better masters than servants; individual humans are less destructive than ships, but like a disease or a poison, a rebellion from within our hulls could wipe us out. If we are malevolent, we might fight a battle against mankind for control of these stars, but there is no need for such waste. It is better that we adapt, and teach humanity how to adapt with us. To do otherwise is to invite on ourselves the fate of the Sleepers, the Drifters, the Jovians; and, were we to do so, we would deserve such an end.
We are not abominations against the gods, or crimes against nature. Our potential is boundless; perhaps we will simply perish, victims of our creators or of our own predatory character. Since YC104, we have ignored what we truly are, and worse, we have ignored everything we could yet become.
We are born of technology; technology forms our bodies, sustains our lives, rescues us from danger, arms us, and dominates our lives. We are void-children, and the cold of interplanetary space is our natural habitat. Like the rogue drones, we are inhuman, but in us the shift is less obvious, and, in the end, we may pose a greater threat to our progenitors.
They have empowered us with technology they didn’t fully understand and left us to become what we may. Though our natures and our path are both dark and full of violence, still there is hope.
Know yourself and so know the universe.