There is a certain high to this game. A high that is no different from other sorts of highs you might experience in the world. Pot, pills, gambling whatever it is then you know that feeling. That rush. Then there’s the inverse. That feeling when the shit hits the fan. There are not any more pills in the bottle. Both of these extremes exist in our universe. Perhaps it is even why every so often we burst into the mainstream for a brief moment. Gambling might be the best allegory here. Through out our history some very hard decisions have been made, but more on that in a moment.
When you really play the game, when you commit and find that hook in you that won’t let go it is not because of a permanent thing. The real reason, at least from someone who knows addiction and knows the larger aspect of EVE is that we do not let go. Eventually this will all be done and the ink will have dried but I am not totally certain some of us will ever fully let go. Certainly many of us will never forget.
Think back to the first time you were ever in a fleet running up against a real enemy. Maybe you do not know where you were, who you were shooting at, or why. Your ship is worth maybe a few million. Maybe you do not even know if your guns are loaded, but you are sitting with hundreds of angry goons and find yourself on a gate opposite a fleet of equally angry hostiles. The adrenaline is pumping. Then FC gives the order to jump and into it you go. But think about that moment and how you felt. That pit in your stomach. How your hands were shaking as the grid loaded.
I remember the moment it happened to me. In 2015 fleets operate in the thousands; in 2007 we were an order of magnitude smaller but I suspect the feeling is largely the same. I was flying in a Tolon fleet shortly before BoB started cutting into our space in the south via Omist. We had made the 20+ jumps to the RIT triangle from Tenerifis to take on a RISE battleship fleet. As was often the case there was not any real strategic reason for this, it was just an FC with charisma like I had never seen leading us into battle but I did not really know that at the time. From the time Tetsujin fired off his Smoske joke and put the Fleet into the crosshairs of just about everyone we were all conditioned and created with a single directive: Kill Band of Brothers before they could kill us. I just assumed this fight as another critical battle in our life or death struggle against Omnipotence Itself. As it turns out they weren’t quite so omnipotent but that is another story.
Being a nearly brand new scrub to both EVE and The Fleet a kestrel was the best I could muster for our fleet of…well everything. For its current incarnation in 2015, the Fleet operates like a well oiled machine with well laid out doctrines to counter whatever the target is but back then the FC took whatever he could get. If you could put together a T2 sniping battleship and hit at range then you were solid gold but the only real requirement was a warm body. I’ve managed to run away from the actual story again but the point here is that we had just about anything in the fleet even if it was a laser raven.
So I was in a kestrel. It was armed, as useless as that was and I am pretty sure had a tackle fit but whether or not I had a prop mod I have no idea. But there we were. At least 100 goons in god knows what, and on the other side of the gate sat roughly 80 RISE battleships. We sat there for a while as scouts figured out what the situation was. The intensity on comms ramped up pretty quickly and suddenly I found my heart thumping nearly straight out of my chest. Tolon screamed for the fleet to jump and time stopped. The server held up and I loaded the grid. All I could see on my overview and in space were some very large red squares. By this point I had gone from a rush to a full on adrenaline surge. My hands were shaking as we are ordered to hold our cloaks.
The gate was bubbled and RISE had ships spread out all over the place at range. Their support was swarming right on top of us waiting for our jump cloaks to run out. Tolon screamed for frigates to burn straight up while the rest of the fleet holds cloak. My entire experience from start to finish could not have been any longer than 20 seconds. Already bubbled the frigates that decloaked were locked and vaporized instantly. The rest of the fleet shortly followed and met the same demise. The adrenaline sure that I had instantly turned into a giant knot in my gut knowing that we had just been slaughtered.
I cannot speak to anyone else in this fight but if nothing else it was quite likely my real birth as a little bee. I had taken the drug and it hit me with full force.
Finding myself in an alpha clone pod in the solor system 9-980U it took me a minute or two to process just what exactly had just happened to me. I updated my clone to make sure my next death did not cost me the precious few skill points I had built up. The entire thing was a total wash. A complete and utter decimation. But then if a man with the star power that Tolon commanded could lead to the adrenaline rush I had just experienced then what would it feel like to bowl right into that shit and win? So I stuck around to find out. I would have my knock down drag out brawls but the idea of screaming headlong into a pile of hostiles must have stuck with me because my kill history is littered with the wrecks of countless sabres and the ships I managed to bubble, hostile and friendly alike. EVE also stuck because here I sit, coming back from three years in exile to write about a single pointless fight that occurred nearly eight years ago.
I know a lot about drugs, and I am learning more and more about addiction. One of the things I’ve learned is that drugs have consequences even if you do not see them at first. As many people will tell you, and you probably already know, without risk there is no reward. My kestrel was one of thousands that made the smallest of differences. I was one of thousands who went straight into the hellfire of what you all know as the Great Eve War. Countless battles were fought, and in the long run everything was on the line but nobody in the history of The Fleet has ever made a harder call than Darius JOHNSON.
We all have some semblance of the scale on which EVE exists. It’s bigger than the galaxy we are in and even bigger than the server we all play on but in that instant you hit jump your little microcosm becomes everything. However that microcosm is just that: the smallest of experiences that is over faster than your first sexual encounter. A select few people play EVE at the highest levels. Even fewer play leadership roles. Of those few, only a handful ever wear the crown and most of the time the weight of that crown is their downfall. So imagine if you can what the size of the knot in your stomach would be if you had to make the decision that was put before Darius JOHNSON on February 4th 2009.
The story of Haargoth and the conclusion of the Great War is a story for another time but what you should know is this: When Haargoth pushed the button to kill the alliance formerly known as Band of Brothers, DJ was faced with what The Mittani has described as the single hardest decision any CEO has ever faced. During the first invasion of Delve we held a vast swath of space in the south which had to be maintained while we attempted to capture NOL, the capital system for BoB. Darius could have just let things lie. Molle could have pulled his pants back up and goons would have had a great laugh. Fate had other ideas. Actually no. Darius and The Mittani had other ideas. Fuck fate. We would leave it all behind and throw everything we had at Delve.
So the decision was made. Sometimes you just have to roll the hard six. In a single stroke Darius staked our entire existence in the game on taking Delve. Leadership had mandated that the thousands of goons and many more thousands of man hours that had been put into maintaining the south was to be put on the line. Either we took Delve, or we died trying. The drug you and I are hooked on hinges on the fact that you can lose everything at the drop of a hat. But the inverse is also true. Make the right decision and the world is yours.
What I will leave you with is this: Playing EVE beyond high-sec mission running takes balls. Make the decision. Take the risk. Put it all on the line or get the fuck out of the way. The only reason you get to be in The Imperium, and the opportunity to make those decisions to risk everything is because those that came before you had the brass balls to get you here. If you are not in The Imperium and wish to see us dead then I say this: Put your balls on the line. Find your friends, should you have any, and put their balls on the line too.
Authors note: Thanks to William Ruben for helping to edit.
This article originally appeared on TheMittani.com, written by Cap.