Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Granted, even then, I didn't know much of him. He was a Goon. He was a top Goon. Goons intrigue me, but ultimately Goons are a mystery to me.
My last pseudo-encounter with Vile Rat was on the day he was killed. He made his last post to the EVE Online forums in one of my threads. Not any sort of response to me, but a response to someone else that had commented. His reply made me smile.
Goons have always amused me. It's Goons like Vile Rat that keep me playing EVE Online. The irreverance. The sway, the power they hold in our game. Their ability to alter the playing field. It's people like Vile Rat who give us our content. We might not be directly involved in their machinations, but there are ripples that eventually wash-over us, whether we be in highsec, lowsec, wormhole space, or the ass-end of Russian nullsec.
I'll be completely honest here. There will be some shameful admissions.
When the first RIP Vile Rat tweets started appearing, I thought this was some cruel Goon joke of the RIP Famous Celebrity variety. Even when information started trickling out that he'd was an IT employee at the American Consulate in Libya and was the reported consulate employee killed, I was still doubtful of the veracity of these claims. The CSM6 results page lists Sean Smith's country as Canada. I took that to mean he was Canadian. American consulates and embassies do not hire foreign nationals as employees in IT positions. Security of information and all that. So I remained skeptical of what was happening on #tweetfleet.
Then The Mittani wrote his obituary and tribute to Vile Rat. I knew then that my skepticism was without merit. I felt shame having suspected Goonswarm of some cruel and grand tomfoolery. Sean was, at one point, stationed at the consulate in Montreal. Thus the Canada listing next to his name on the CSM6 results. (I'm still not sure why CCP would list location, rather than nationality, but that's not particularly important.) I deleted some tweets where I had questioned what was going on in Twitter. Nothing rude, just wondering about the Canada thing, not willing to commit just yet to joining in with their tributes. I fell asleep that night, ashamed by my own tinfoil-hattery. There was no ruse. No shenanigans. A friend to many had died this night, and I had questioned the legitimacy of their sorrow.
This morning. I'm not sure if it's natural to think this way, or if it's some dark aspect of myself. Thus I continue to feel some shame. But I've not been able to take my mind off, what I imagine to be, his final minutes. I keep thinking how terrible and painful his last moments must have been. And the sadness and horror of it feels overwhelming at times. I think of his last Jabber comments to his alliance mates: "Fuck. Gunfire." Then he logs out. Never to return. His last thoughts were to Goonswarm. I wonder when and what he last said to his family. Were they aware of the danger he was in? I hope it was quick, not painful. I'm glad he wasn't in the consulate as it burned. Was he in flight? Did he stop to try to calm the angry crowd, diplomancer that he was? This is all so morbid, depressing, but these thoughts, this imagining of what it might have been like for him, it runs through my mind and cannot be stopped. I shouldn't be thinking thoughts like these, and I feel shame.
The tributes continue today. Nearly 300 hundred outposts renamed in Vile Rat's honour. A video by Space Monkeys. Dozens of blog posts. Hundreds and hundreds of tweets from the #tweetfleet and beyond. We're often at each others throats, it's part of our metagame, but when it comes time to drop the differences, step outside the little gaming personas we've built for ourselves, we are able to do just that. And it is inspiring.
I'm sure the Goons will do a fitting and moving tribute to Sean Smith at EVE Vegas. I hope someone there will stream it live to the rest of us who would care to watch, learn and remember.
I am glad to be apart of EVE Online and the broader gaming community, who all took the time to honour Sean Smith, our Vile Rat, with dozens of articles written in the span of just a few hours. All this before major media stepped in to reduce him to nothing more than three others. To the rest of the world the byline was simply "Chris Stevens, Ambassador to Libya, and three others were killed in Benghazi last night." For all of us, he was not simply one among three others, he was Sean Smith, the Goon known as Vile Rat, who died in Benghazi last night.