Bees of Future Past
December, 2015. The Mittani stared glumly at the alliance management window in the centre of his screen. The Goonswarm Federation alliance, which once upon a time had appeared such an unassailable power within the EVE universe, was down to a single lonely corporation, the Goonwaffe, and when he clicked further through the series of information windows, he could see that the corporation’s member count stood at a mere two players. How had it all gone so wrong, he wondered? Only three years earlier, Goonswarm’s members had numbered in the tens of thousands, their sovereign territory stretching across fully half of New Eden. But somehow, under his watch as CEO, the alliance had suffered a catastrophic series of defeats and defections, and, as corporations and pilots slowly trickled away from the once-great organisation, the remaining players had been forced to give up their systems and their stations, reduced to living in high-sec systems while they desperately tried to halt the outflow of resources and fighters.
Nothing had worked.
Slowly but surely, the last few remaining corporations had upped sticks and left for bigger and better alliances, leaving The Mittani raging into the nearly empty chat channels while he was forced to watch from the sidelines as other groups claimed the space that had once been his. Delve, Pure Blind, Period Basis, Fountain — one by one, regions were claimed by other alliances, happily moving in their assets and renaming stations that The Mittani had once spent so long agonising over the choice of the perfect name. All gone.
He knew the real reason behind the abject failure of Goonswarm, of course. The so-called “EVE community” had spent years mocking GSF, taking every opportunity to point out their failures when it came to leadership or strategic decisions. Threads appeared almost daily on the r/eve subreddit, touting the “failscade” of the Goons, mercilessly mocking The Mittani and his fellow directors as their small group was smashed again and again by larger foes. Coup after coup had almost removed him as head of the alliance several times, while highly public leaks of private chat logs heaped embarrassment after embarrassment on his shoulders. He realised he had clenched his hands into fists, and forced himself to calm down. There had to be a way back from this — but how? Think, he told himself, just think. There is no problem you can’t figure out how to solve, given enough time.
He stared again at the list of the remaining two corporation members, the only two surviving players left of the Goonswarm in 2015. He tapped his teeth for a second, his brow furrowed deeply. Then he reached for his mouse, right-clicked, and opened up a new chat window.
“You know what you have to do, right?” The Mittani shivered in the storage locker, a heavy coat around his shoulders as protection against the chilled and stale air.
Beside him stood the only other remaining Goon. Mittani wasn’t sure which part of the world the man came from, but the price of his plane ticket to travel to the States had put a sizeable dent in The Mittani’s bank account. He spoke with a slight accent which The Mittani thought might have been Russian, or perhaps Greek, but it was hard to tell. At least he’d agreed to the meeting, which was the hardest part. Convincing him of the rest of the plan should be easy.
“Tell me again, it still sounds a bit — crazy,” said the other man.
The Mittani leaned forward, removed one hand from his pocket and pulled the tarpaulin off the machine that occupied most of the storage locker in which they stood. “I know. But you have to trust me. It sounds crazy, but I’m telling you … this is a time machine. Don’t ask me how I got hold of it; you don’t need to know. All you have to know is that it works, and it’s not going to kill you when you use it.”
“You are going to travel back in time to 2013, right before things started to go wrong for the Goonswarm. And your job is going to be to distract the community — those idiots from Reddit — from what we’re doing.”
“How am I supposed to do that?” asked the man.
“You’re going to start a new alliance. And this alliance is going to be the worst, most ineffective, most poorly run bunch of fuck-ups in the entire game. All you have to do is keep screwing up, again and again. The community will take care of the rest.”
“I don’t get it.”
The Mittani stroked his soul patch. “Those people, the ones on Reddit or the other sites, they need somebody to kick. They need to make themselves feel better about their own lack of accomplishments by shitting on whoever is lower on the totem pole. For the last three years that has been Goonswarm, and they’ve succeeded in virtually killing us off; we’re dead and buried. Now though, you have a chance to change all that. You’re going to create a new alternate timeline, one in which your new alliance has a target on their back so big that nobody is going to be able to resist.”
“Okay, I can do that,” said the other man, “and then what?”
“And then, in this new timeline, Goonswarm will prosper. Instead of failing in the glare of public attention, we’ll keep growing, keep taking more systems, bringing in more allies. While nobody watches, while their attention is occupied by the ridiculous antics of your new alliance, the last three years will be replaced by a new reality, a new truth. Instead of mocking us for failscading, it will be your alliance that people will be laughing at. I want you to make all the mistakes I have made over the last few years, the things I now realise were failures but that you will erase from our history; you will engineer coup after coup, by promoting anyone that cannot be trusted to director roles; you will accept anyone as a member without even the most cursory background checks; and you will parade those failures under the noses of the sorry individuals who would otherwise have focused their ire on me and my Goonswarm.”
“I understand,” said the man. He removed his jacket — he did not take off his sunglasses, The Mittani noticed — and stepped into the time machine, ducking his head slightly to avoid the rough, serrated edges of the door. Once inside, he turned to face his CEO. “What should I call it, this new alliance?”
The Mittani thought for a moment. In the past, when GSF was on the rise, he had prided himself on the cleverness of the names he gave to his organisations — names that evoked historical warriors, feared organisations — and he felt he could not miss this opportunity to put his personal stamp on this most audacious scheme yet, a time-traveling Trojan horse of a plan. He glanced down at his down-filled jacket, where the symbol of the Goons, a cigar-smoking bee, had been embroidered onto the breast.
“You will project an underdog persona, putting a brave face on your failures, and the people will hate you for it even more,” said The Mittani. “And when the time is right, and I reveal that I was behind this, the most audacious plot in the history of EVE Online — to literally rewrite history, under the noses of our enemies — I want people to know, without a shadow of a doubt, that I … that we, the Goonswarm, were the ones behind it.”
“So?” said the man, “what’s the name?”
“You will name your alliance,” said The Mittani, leaving a slight pause for effect, “Brave New Bees.”
The man in the time machine nodded. “Got it.”
“You don’t want me to to write it down?”
“No — I got it.”