[Welcome to Amarr - Emperor Family Station]
It was an old trick, but the soothing, de-sexualized voice of Station Comm’s never failed to distract me from the actual act of undocking - the shutdown of all external sensor feeds, the ejection of the pod, the expulsion back into the real world, into real air.
In the promo videos you only get to see the strapping capsuleer standing proudly on the balcony in front of their current ship, preferably capital class or better; but reality is much less glamorous. The details... let’s say there is a lot of coughing involved. And dry heaving. And ascramble for clothes.
Aaaaaand Cut! for the camera.
On this particular day, however, I was way beyond such trivialities - I pretty much didn’t start registering my environment until I rested my head on the pillow of that ratty old Minmatar excuse for a pillow.
Behind me were two days of roams, of intense fighting.
First, there was the Agony Alumni Roam - advertised as a Frigate-hull roam for alumni, we quickly were recommended to stage a battlecruiser as well... and ended up holding down a Carrier-supported battleship gang long enough for enough DPS arrive from nearby pirate corporations to take down the whole gang. And not even fifteen minutes later, we were back in space, trying to hunt the very same pirates who fought along our side before - and vice versa.
And today, a battlecruiser roam with friends of my alliance - the level of sophistication was below Agony class standards, but the heart was in the right place, and in the end that’s all that counts.
Of course the non-Capsuleers don’t see it that way, which is the reason why for once I chose to stay in these rinky-dink excuse of ‘Captains Quarters’. Facing yet another gathering of placards proclaiming “It’s just a game for you!” or “You don’t give a damn about the Real People!” was not what I had in mind for relaxation.
The protesters weren’t completely wrong, mind you. Some of us really consider it just a game. And in the heat of the battle, most of us capsuleers tend to forget our mortal crews, the danger we put them in. When push comes to shove, we become our ships. And that’s just it.
We feel every impact of an enemy projectile as if it broke our very own skin; the burn-through of enemy ECM as if a haze is lifted from our eyes; and most importantly, we know that the survival of our ship is dependent only on whether we would be able to outsmart our very human enemy.
There was nothing like it.
But even un-podded, like I was now, our capsuleer life didn’t stop. Even un-podded, we never stopped asking ourselves what we could have done better to defeat our opponent. Or, in the case of CEOs and alliance leaders, how to keep our organization alive and humming.
Heck, myself, I even had read up on accounting, just to run my corp!
And if we failed, for most of us, it wasn’t just a statistic on a high-score list - instead, it was personal.
The embarassement you felt when being defeated by a nominally inferior opponent; the pride warming your heart when your alliance boss commends you on your recent battle successes, even though all you did was flying an Interceptor for a gang of random people - all this went beyond the mere identification with your ship.
Everybody knew that being a Capsuleer was not the end-all of things - that sooner or later we all would return to our pre-Capsuleer lives, by choice or by necessity - even myself. But until then, it was fully up to us what to make with our time.
And as far as I was concerned, time was too precious to waste on playing to be something. Either be a capsuleer, or don’t.