Tears in the Dust: End Credits

Rhiannon Williams 2016-06-17

*DISCLAIMER* Contains propaganda.

I’ve been waiting a while, months actually, to write these words. Many, many wonderful people who I now count as friends, have in their own way helped this article come to life. In fact, this is not the article I’d originally set out to write several months ago. We didn’t know Dust 514 was about to die back then. I now feel priviliged to be sitting here documenting and commemorating what has evolved into a momentus time in the New Eden cluster. I hope I do justice to the passionate Dust players who most definately do not want to ‘Go gentle into that good night’, and who asked not only me, but also Max Singularity and all of the Sixth Empire, to celebrate the game they love. These players don’t want to be forgotten. Rather, by their commitment, their creativity, and their desire to be part of the Eve Universe, they want to show that they can rise again, to fight again and be part of the community we love.

I have, of course, played Dust 514. The credit for that falls entirely to CPM0 Chairperson, Jenza Aranda who persuaded me to have a go at it whilst we shared a beer on the the flight to Reykyavik back in 2013. In fact, I was a bit of a guinea pig. She typed to CCP while I swore a lot over Skype about how ghastly the new player experience was; frankly I never really got the hang of it because of that; but knowing I had a buddy responsible for introducing the metagame and, indeed, awoxing, to Dust, made me grin!

Now lets go back six months or so to when I logged in to read my mail and make another attempt to beat my ship spinning personal best and found an unprecedented visitation of Dust players in our public channel. Naturally I was curious, and so began the opening of a brand new chapter in my New Eden life. As some of you may be aware, I co-founded the Sixth Empire Alliance with my good friend and fellow Fanfest partner in shenannigens, Charles White, a.k.a. the Spacepope, His Holiness, Max Sigularity, for those of you who’ve been living under a rock. He, as you may be aware gets very involved with Eve Online lore and roleplaying.

His Holiness, Max Singularity at Fanfest 2014

While there have been some previous tie-ins with events like the Battle for Caldari Prime, and the more recent Amarr Challenge, the majority of us pod pilots have been largely ignorant of the small, but passionate group of Dust players that have produced creative outpourings of lore ,which I truly hope will be incorporated into New Eden lore generally, so it will never be lost.

Credit:Playstation.com

When these unexpected, but very welcome guests, appeared in our public channel, led by long time Dust veteran Moppchopper Sneaktoots, CEO of the Arkombine Initiative, they stated clearly that they had sought us out quite deliberatly. They wanted to work with us on New Eden lore, to dedicate themselves to Max Singularity’s cause and to be part of and help build, the Sixth Empire. Moppchopper impressed us with the persuasive videos he’d made to show us his vision as to how Eve and Dust lore could link together in the New Eden cluster. We felt he and his team of creative geniuses would fit with our philosophy very well. This led to our alliance being 80% Dust players which certainly caused confusion and bafflement, as well as curiosity amongst Eve players, or as we termed it, ‘working as intended’. We had Districts taken and held, in our name. We never really knew the half of what they got up to down there on the ground, so long as they were spreading love…and by love..we mean lasers.

The original premise was to tie-in Dust lore with Max’s writings, so in the process we all got immersed into each others channels, in game, facebook, Skype ect. Our original thought was to perhaps go along the lines of The Imperiums’ invasion of Providence, Dust 514 style, then perhaps setting Molden Heath on fire in order to create content, bring more awareness and attention to the game as a whole. Many ideas were discussed, while also anticipating the arrival ofProject Nova and what that could mean. Then of course we recieved the news that the servers would shut down, for the last time on May 30th. What I can say about this however, is that our Dust friends had in fact anticipated its occurence, but not when.

Anticipated as it was, it still caused a reaction in my friends and alliance buddies, a reaction in the Dust players from other alliances I now have the pleasure of counting amongst my friends. We do not know yet whether Project Nova may fall down the back of the developmental sofa like Project Legion has, but you can bet people are very keen to get back in harness.

Many players gathered with old friends and enemies to battle again for old times sake as the end drew near. Others played last matches for lols and fun. The presence of CCP Contra, who stayed till the end, was very much appreciated as the countdown began. There are many, many posted videos on YouTube, so please have a look. In tribute to all the players and devs who worked on the game, when I was approached to write about Dust all those months ago, I set out to find and collate some video, and some player-written lore which I hope you will enjoy.

On the day Dust died I did my best to grab as many quotes from Facebook and the forums and wherever else and put them with the music that became my earworm as I’ve written this, seemed to fit somehow.

Credits: Music, Chase and Status, TMC

 

Some soldiers, at the end, chose a quiet, poignant route to say farewell, from the comfort of their bases and barracks, waiting for when the TacNet shuts down and their Neocoms cease to function.They spent time reminiscing with friends old and new, fearful for the future, yet celebrating many battles won and lost, thier first death and how scared they were, laughing over who died in the most ridiculous fashion. They broke out their last rations, their last purloined spirits, beer and contraband. They, while sad, had hope for a new beginning, but first, you need to say goodbye to what has been.

 

I don’t mind saying that seeing the server close for the last time was a gut wrenching moment. My Dust friends just said, ‘Imagine how you’d feel if Tranquility closes forever.’ All I can say is, I do now!

 

Posted in the Intergalactic Summit, by Aeon Amadi:

A broad spectrum message was dispersed to all corners of New Eden, the recipient being anyone who cared to view it. Heavily encrypted, it would likely take a Khanid Cyber Knight to decipher beyond the context of its contents, let alone trace back the source. The message begins, with a faint flicker of static over the dimly lit silhouette of a sitting man. The man is clearly Intaki, if his facial features are any indicator, clad in severely damaged armor. In his balled fist is the bunched hair of a disembodied head, still oozing blood from its stump.

“I won’t sugar coat this – things have changed. All of my previous contacts are dead – truly dead – or gone. I’ve been blacklisted from everything. My assets, my credits, even my warbarge denied me access. I knew something was peculiar, but I didn’t know why. That was until this son of a ***** tried to off me. I’mma level with you, I’m barely alive. I spent the last hour choking on my own blood. So let’s get to the point.

I hope they only came after me. They’ve already nyxxed several dozen of my crew. Immortals who didn’t wake up because there wasn’t a clone to wake up in. There is no coming back from this one. Let’s be honest with ourselves – without our gear, we’re worthless. Go into hiding. No-one is going to save you, no-one is going to help you. Don’t trust anyone who hasn’t died for you already, and even then trust them about as far as a bullet can reach them.”

The Intaki grunts, shaking his head as he lowers his gaze to the floor. A trickle of blood begins to drip from his long, black hair in a pool between his boots. He drops the severed head with an unceremonious, wet ‘thump’. With a long sigh he returns his gaze to the video feed.

“I’m done for. Few too many bullets, not enough paste to close the wounds. Get as far away from Empire Space as you can and never stop flying until there’s no-where left to fly…. This is Aeon Amadi, former privateer and contractor… Signing Out…”

The message comes to an abrupt end, returning to its start position.

Empire news reports began to emerge of  a ceasefire, sure to bring relief to beleagured inhabitants, yet leaving suddenly unemployed and stranded mercenaries uncertain of their future. Some have forged expatriat alliances as in the the case of the Arkombine Initiative, where many capsuleers and currently vacationing mercenaries talk, plot and plan for the future in the smoke-filled backrooms, where the liquor is cheap and the locals are accomodating…

Others have decided their own ways to forge a new future after an incident now known as The Twenty-One Gun Riots caused the near destruction of the biosphere of several planets causing a widespread humanitarian disaster on a huge scale. This has resulted in a call for a ceasefire termed the Bosena Accords after an impassioned plea by Eskola Ergonimics veteren Galm Fae:

“As a survivor of Heth’s Purge, former hunter of Templars, and one time member of the Templis Dragonaurs, I understand more than anyone else the horrors that immortal infantry brings into this world. I understand, because I have been an active participant in this unending nightmare of conflict. However, I recognize that the very same anguish that we bring to a planets’ population is also our own. The events of the Purge, Operation Highlander, and now the Twenty-One Gun Riots must not ever be allowed to happen again. Therefore, among this peace, I call upon my fellow immortals for the enstatement of a new organization dedicated to upholding this ceasefire in Molden Heath for as long as feasibly possible. I have donated all ISK made available to me for the creation of this peacekeeping force, and I actively encourage fellow immortals to join me in this task of keeping the region safe and prosperous for years to come.

This is not a partisan issue, nor is this an attempt to forge an alliance of expatriates as in the case of the Arkcombine. This is an opportunity for different factions to come together and give peace a chance for the sake of all those that we have caused so much undue suffering.

Therefore, for the first time, I call upon all my brothers and sisters in arms to join me in the formation of the Bosena Accords. Together, we will look after our fellow soldiers and help create a world outside of this unending conflict. ”

 

A few chose yet an other path, one we pilots know all to well! Verdis DeMorsays, director of the Gold Angels corporation in the Sixth Empire apparantly has a sister he never told us about..

The drop ship rumbled under me as it clawed skyward, a sound more felt than heard. It ran through your bones in much the same way as a Nova Knife did when it grated between ribs on its way to your heart. Both similar, neither permanently damaging. Til now. I got the news at the end of a successful contract, and it’s still unreal. Potential degradation over time as well as unpredictable side effects from the use of transneural implants. I stared out the tiny window in the cargo bay, watching the dropships’ shields tearing through the dusty clouds of…wherever. Didnt matter, I just kept people alive. Side effects. Bullshit. I never survived long enough in the grand scheme of things to think about them. I was Logistics: target number one. I supplied ammunition, remote repairs, tactical drop uplink insertion, and even brought people back from the brink of death if I could arrive soon enough. Even if I didn’t, they’d be back, and I’d try again.

My Neocom alerted me to a message. Quick text read:

“hey there.”

Everyone loved or hated me. My fellow mercs depended on my repair capabilities, especially the lumbering heavy suits. I kept them spewing charges, they made a nice wall for me against incoming fire. Except snipers. To hell with snipers.

Neocom went off again:

“I know you’re there, answer me!”

Who was this idiot? Probably some Caldari marketer looking to hire me to a private firm. Maybe I should check the name. No, not happening. They brought us those sniper and rail rifles. Dishonest weapons from dishonest people. I guess growing up Gallente skews your view of people some. Never dealt well with Caldari. Verdia deMosays does not shoot someone from a kilometer away, she puts an assault rifle in their face and pulls the trigger. An honest death from an honest weapon. Far more permanent now that the clone network is disabled. What now?

Neocom notification again, okay, this ends now. No quick text, must be a big message. I open it to see:

“’Verdia, ‘Dia, eat some more, need a cyno to get out the kitchen door!”

Only one person ever said that to me and survived. My twin brother, Verdis. I reply “Fedo dum, Fedo dee, you smell like a pile of Fedo pee!”

A smile escaped at memories of summers under the Clacille sun. We were so much sillier back then. I guess time and a few hundred deaths will change that. Maybe the smile cracked something open, not sure. I followed up with

“What’s the occasion?”

Instant reply:

“Do I need a reason to catch up with my baby sister?”

Baby, my ass. Twenty minutes older and he acted like it was years. I started a reply and got cut off.

“Looking for some work? I have an offer if you aren’t already occupied. I know your cloning net is offline, probably permanently, but the capsuleer network is still up. And I have a corporation which wants you, due to your resume as a mercenary.”

A capsuleer? I washed out of Center for Advanced Studies due to “militant levels of belligerence”. No way they’d take me back.

“Sis, your merc training clears you for most of the program, and the man who runs this alliance, Sixth Empire, is an Amarrian Holder who has agreed to pay the CAS to get you fast tracked into a pod, on the condition that you’ll fly with us for a while.”

My brother was being nice, helpful, and working for an Amarrian. The end of the galaxy had to be coming soon. I asked what the catch was.

“No catch, do what you will. We provide ships and training, you go do what you want. We get tax money from some things, but mostly just want you to help us out when we need it. Like when something big needs to be turned into lots of tiny things. Think it over, and if you’re interested contact that Holder, Max Singularity. He can pave the way at the university, then Gold Angels corporation will take you in. It isn’t a bad life, and there’s so much to see out in space.

It’s a start Sis, I just want you to know that I’m here for you. Space is big, so big you need time to figure out which bits of space you want to explore, or who to explore with. You may end up on the other side of New Eden, fighting for a cause or for people I know nothing about. We may even shoot at each other one day. You are my baby sister, I’ll always know it’s you, grinning at the trigger end of a gun; flying a ship like you always said you’d kill me with after I put that baby Fedo in your sock drawer when we were six. I may not be able to guide you through it all, but whatever happens, you deserve the best start I can give you.”

I hated him sometimes, but this wasn’t one of them. Verdis had piqued an interest. I wanted to know more. I walked away from the window to where my equipment lay after my last battle as an immortal. My helmet sat on top of the stack, and I picked it up, turning it lightly in my hands. Such a small thing to protect so much. Its single eyepiece reflected the last flicker of flame as the dropship shields burned through the upper atmosphere. the flicker reminding me of Verdis’ stories of lasers flashing in the void, and rifles tracing their arcs to end a mercenary’s clone. They really aren’t so different, a helmet and a pod. That moment changed my fate. I would do more, I would become immortal yet again.


Our friend Pokey Draven had his own personal way of saying farewell.

Reqiuem For A Mercenary:

The lone mercenary slowly works his way up the side of the mountain. A dropship would have been faster but he wanted to experience every last detail, every footstep, every strained breath. It’s not often that you get to choose where you die on the battlefield, war is ruthless like that. Even so this time was special because it would be the last time. “Obsolete technology” they said, “The hardware is degrading too quickly.” He knew this day would come, they all did, but even so it was more difficult that he expected. It’s a funny thing, being an immortal and dying thousands of times…only to be forced to suddenly cope with your own mortality.

He knew this clone wouldn’t last, they weren’t designed to, and the system to transfer his consciousness would soon be taken offline. He was going to die soon and there was nothing he could do to stop it. Fear of death was always the first thing new mercenaries needed to overcome, yet he could feel it wrapping around his heart yet again, its cold grip squeezing his chest. If anything he welcomed it, the fear of death is truly proof that one is alive, a feeling he had long forgotten.

He reached the peak of the mountain, a spot he remembered well. He chuckled to himself, looking at the spot where he died for the very first time. It was during his first battle that he was crouched in this very spot overlooking the canyon below trying to perform recon on the enemy below. He was so scared of dying that he didn’t notice the scout behind him until the nova knife was buried in his back and he fell from the cliff to his death.

The mercenary shakes his head, a faint smile on his face, thinking about how much things have changed since then. Even so it seemed fitting that it should all end in the same spot where it all began. He offered himself this quiet comfort of choosing where to die to help quell the memories of all that he had endured to get there. If he was going to die, he wanted it to be on his terms for once.

He stands and checks the time, 11:59, this was the end. He presses the release on the back of his dropsuits helmet, pulling it from his shoulders and dropping it to the ground; he wouldn’t need it anymore. His eyes are closed as he breaths in the planet’s thin atmosphere; it’s cold and harsh, but he welcomes the dull pain in his lungs. Standing at the edge he lifts his face up to meet the warmth of the sun, letting its light engulf him.

All the memories, all of the experiences, all of the people he met. They rush into his mind one by one, filling him with a sensation of a life well spent, and well fulfilled. He went through hell, but it changed him for the better, and for that he was satisfied. The gripping fear of death slipped away from his heart as he opened his eyes to meet the blinding whiteness of the sun.

The mercenary smiles and says to himself “Such that we may rise again.” and takes a step forward.

Credits:OSG network, Pokey Draven

Credit: Pokey Draven.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this article! You know who you are. Dust 514 is dead, long live Dust!

To all of you mercenery veterans, we thank you for your service. We hope to see you again soon.

Credits:Moppchopper Sneaktoots

 

“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time… like tears… in rain. Time to die.”  -Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer), Blade Runner

 

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