Sins of a Solar Spymaster #24 Interview with an Agent
of the most effective and long-serving agents in the GIA, Vile Rat,
has done double-duty as both an agent and a diplomat in Goonswarm.
Often, the lines between diplomacy and espionage blur. I've taken some
of his time to interview him, dragging him away from his current
assignment where he amuses himself ferrying fleet after fleet of
Sc0rched Earth to their doom.
What made you decide to get into the spy game?
After flying for a little less than a year in Goonfleet while being heavily active in both our Outer Ring invasion and our failed Cloud Ring escapades I was provided a unique opportunity. A friend who was in a now closed corp called Contraband Inc. had invited me to join up with him and fly with his group which had just recently joined the Mercenary Coalition. I had been putting that option on the back burner while informing Mittani and Remedial as a possible espionage move but to do so would mean that I had to move my primary character over and really sever from the corp instead of using a secondary agent like most do. It was a really tough decision because I'd have to cut myself off from the social side of Goonfleet which really is where the fun happens. It was determined that I didn't have enough skill points to join directly so a decision was made by my ConInc friend to put me in a 3rd corp to get some distance between Goonfleet and the MC since they weren't great friends at the time.
Where have you served your time?
The decision was made to put me in Shinra which was a member of the Lotka Volterra alliance and he used his connection with Nebba Knezzer who led Shinra at the time to ease the hiring process a bit. The timing was exceptional because shortly after moving over hostilities began between Goonfleet and LV which resulted in abandoning the MC mission for the LV one. It was all a big accident but somehow things just worked out. Currently I'm doing the spy thing with Sc0rched Earth but that's hardly an accomplishment. Having a spy in Sc0rched Earth requires you have a pulse and little else.
For you, what was most difficult part of being an agent?
Initially I retained GF.com access due to the good relations between our corps but once things broke down I was booted. This signaled the severing of my ability to play space ship video games with goons and really sucked the fun out of the game but I was still able to follow along on the forums with a parachute account set up by Mittani for my use. The new culture I had to learn to live with in LV was, to borrow a rather unfortunate term, "Alien and Ungoony". Everybody was interested in only themselves and there was no sense of community at all. Ironically enough the only community I could call a home away from home while performing this mission was a group of exiled goons inside of LV and it at least gave me some people to chat with while doing my work there.
What surprised you the most about espionage itself, or about your target?
Easily the culture difference. The pure arrogance that people displayed on a regular basis not only against their enemies but against their friends shocked me. We have a reputation as complete bastards in the EVE community but ironically we are extremely loyal and dedicated to those we consider our friends and this simply didn't exist in that alliance. They really believed they were god's gift to EVE and acted superior in everything they did and any dissent was squished pretty quickly. There is a reason the term "going lotka.org" is used, they would delete any post or thread that questioned the version of reality being spewed by leadership. I think this all hurt their ability to form a cohesive bond in the end and aside from being counterproductive (telling people things are great when your own lying eyes tell you otherwise doesn't help morale) it just makes you not give a shit about your alliance 'buddies'.
What was your proudest moment or greatest accomplishment as an agent?
My time in LV was mostly mundane recon work and feeling out the various alliances and relationships the south had. We didn't have a whole lot of information about what was going on and at the time there was a real debate going on about possibly joining up with LV as a space holder under their umbrella. To that end LV didn't have very many 'a-ha!' moments aside from me giving real time reports about that Mothership event they cheated on. My time in Sc0rched Earth has been a lot more fun as I've personally led 3 fleets into the loving embrace of Shadoo's titan or bridged HAC gangs. There isn't a lot to report on in a dying alliance so I get to do more direct action which has been a blast. It gets amusing when your FC expresses disbelief that Pandemic Legion somehow found them yet again which crushes their morale and makes the log off in a huff.
What do you think is the Achilles Heel of alliances in EVE?
Cohesion. It's been said a thousand times but it's still true that nothing else matters. If you have some sort of bond, either an out of game forum or some sort of unified language/nationality, then you can get through a lot of bad shit without losing everything. Alliances that are just a bunch of miserable nothing corps that joined up to take advantage of nice free space that fell in their lap won't last very long because they have nothing else in common other than self interest. That's what we're seeing right now in Sc0rched Earth as their primary corps leave the alliance and they find themselves unable to even enjoy their space due to the 23/7 presence of cloaking blackops ships. They feel helpless and abandoned by leadership and start to think that it has to be better off nearly anywhere else because they get no benefit out of their effort right now.
Did you have any 'near miss' experiences where your cover was almost blown?
Not really, no. It's been so easy as long as you don't do anything too stupid and don't become predictable. It's even easier when your target has no real community so there's no opportunity to stand out or be noticed. As long as you show up for PVP ops and don't do anything that draws attention you are just a quality member of the alliance and welcome.
How would you compare your time as a spy to other professions/paths in EVE that you've experienced?
Well I've enjoyed spying, even more so in my current mission, but there's nothing quite like hot dropping a dread on somebodies cap fleet knowing they are completely boned. Not nearly as fun when it happens to you though.
Do you feel any sympathy for your target? Do you think this reflects on you as a person?
It's a video game. This is something that everybody playing this game should take a few moments and consider quietly to themselves from time to time. Do I have any sympathy? Of course not. I blew up Megaton while playing Fallout 3, but I don't think that reflects on me as a person. To me it's just part of the video game and a successful spying mission is along the same lines as soloing a jump freighter with a single dread at a hostile pos or taking over a region. Spying is, and should always be considered just one more aspect of the EVE experience and if you don't take advantage of it you are really handicapping yourself. It's all about killing the enemy or destroying their space empires and in the end it's all just video game pixels. Besides it's nothing personal, just business.