I was thinking about Incarna the other day.
For those of you living on Mars, Incarna is one of CCPs upcoming innovations that will allow EVE players to leave their ships and wander around station. Word is you'll be able to start all manner of station-side businesses "from plastic surgeons to fashion outlets", adding yet another dimension to the EVE economy.
One feature that has my daughter very excited is the fashion potential. It seems EVE is hiring fashion designers to create clothes for the Avatars.
Yes, apparently you will be able to dress your EVE in-station avatars.
So, what happens when Project Runway meets the EVE sandbox?
Well. Anything's possible....
I was in empire when the message called us home. It came through the encrypted priority channel with a red tell-tale flashing next to it. Terse.
All personnel return to base.
Nothing more than that. I dropped the cans I was hauling off in Oursulaert, left the blockade runner Fiddler's Way in dock and blew out of system in a cheap Atron frigate fitted for speed. Security protocals dictated radio silence. I worked my way through empire and ran the lowsec gauntlet with no idea what would greet me when I got to HQ. At the entry point to nullsec, I slipped a pirate blockade and took a shortcut through a hostile space to get to our home station.
When I finally jumped in-system, everything was was quiet. No sign of invasion or recent fleet fights. I thumbed through the scan indices. All the POS were in place. No wrecks. No chatter on the intel channel.
I pointed the little ship toward system center and headed for station.
May Station is a quiet little backwater. Not much to look at. Humble, as outposts go. It's comfortable, though. Has what I need. It's home.
Home had apparently changed while I was away.
Instead of the usual dreary dockside with the smell of machine oil, the grind of can loaders and the thump-hiss of the air circulators I emerged from the docking gangway to the sound of gentle, soothing music. The air smelled clean, touched with the the faintest scent of spices. The dockside brothels gin-joints were gone and in their place were quaint, tasteful storefronts. One offered t-shirts with slogans like "I Brake for Viators". Another sold bath linens and exotic soaps. A third specialized in Caldari pottery.
Something was wrong here. Very, very wrong. I checked the loads in my sidearm and loosened it in its holster. Then I headed for Bingo's.
Bingo's is the regular haunt and unofficial headquarters for my corporation. If the gang was in-system, that was where they'd be. I arrived at the door and, at least here, everything seemed normal. I pushed through the door, prepared for the worst.
And I found it. Instead of the murmer of conversation and the wobble of music from Bingo's ancient juke box, I was assaulted by the WHOOM-PA WHOOM-PA WHOOM-PA of a driving dance-music bass line. Bingo's smokey ambiance was gone, replaced by pulsing lights reflected off mirrors and glitter.
The dance floor was jammed, bodies clad in exotic clothing writhing to the music. Every table was packed with people and all the people were turned out to the nines. The clothing, the hair styles, the all looked like vid streams out of empire of Jita high society.
At a table on the other side of the dance floor some glitterati chick jumped up, waved at me and called my name. I took a closer look at her, and then at her companions. All three of them waved and beckoned me over to their table. I blinked twice, then crossed the dance floor.
"Lir," I said as I joined them. "Vae, Orchid," I nodded at each of the three women, all members of my corporation. I paused a moment, searching for words.
"You look...," I hesitated.
"Incarna," laughed Vae. "We look Incarna; which is to say totally fabulous!"
And so they were. Each of them were dressed in the sort of outfits you only see in magazines - on vid stream starlets. The cloth was obviously of fine quality and very very sheer, leaving just the right amount to the imagination. How the clothing stayed on their bodies was left to mystery. Their makeup was impeccable and their hair was coiffed in a way that was positively gravity defying.
"Uh, where to you hide your sidearms?" I asked.
"Don't," said Vae. "Spoils the drape of the fabric."
"The Incarna upgrades hit station just after you left," said Lir.
"You mean all this," I gestured at the club once known as Bingo's. "And the changes at dockside...?"
"Incarna!" They all called out together, then burst into fits of laughter.
"So," I said. "Kento called me back from halfway across known space just to see some station upgrades and get all funky and shit?" I was sleep deprived and addled from the long trip and I could feel the anger rising in me.
"No, no!" said Lir. She paused a moment and sipped from a very tall, very fruity drink.
"Kento's going to take the corporation in a whole new direction," she continued. "He's pulled everybody back in for re-orientation."
"Re-orientation? New Direction?"
"Yeah," said Orchid. "We're going total Incarna."
"Total Incarna," I repeated. "I have no idea what that even means."
"Kento will explain," Vae chimed in. "It's all the brainchild of our new director of R&D."
"We have a new R&D Director?"
"That's right, you haven't met Aldo!" Vae exclaimed. "Hold on a minute!"
All three of them turned to the dance floor. Cupping their hands, they all howled in unison.
At that a short, dark figure dancing with three statuesque Khanid red-heads turned and looked at us. He stopped dancing, waved away his partners and approached the table.
Aldo was a somewhat rotund Gallentean. He had a broad face that sported an large pair of old-fashioned spectacles. His dark hair was receding, but expertly styled to make it look more a fashion statement than an accident of genetics. He wore a scarlet jacket jodhpurs and tall riding boots, all reminiscent of ancient hunting clothing. His boots sported little sliver spurs and he carried a silver chased riding crop, as though the last horse in all New Eden hadn't died a millennium ago.
He swanned across the floor to our table. Vae, Lir and Orchid rose to meet him and the three of them exchanged air kisses with him.
"Now," He said, turning to me, "Who is this dowdy bird?"
I mustered up a smile and extended my hand.
"Mord Fiddle," I said.
He ignored the offered handshake and looked me up and down
"Nononono," he tutted, tapping his lower lip with his riding crop. "This simply will not do!"
"Lirael darling," he said, waving a hand in her direction. "Tell him. Tell him it will not do""
Lir raised a sympathetic eyebrow at me, "It will not do," she said.
"There!" Aldo crowed, waving his arms in triumph. "You see? It. Will. Not. Do."
"What?" I asked, feeling my face redden with anger. "Exactly what won't do."
He tittered a bit, covering his mouth with the fingertips on one hand while gesturing at me with the other.
"This...thing. This garment. This...Oh, what is called? Vaeline, my sweet. What is the word? Ah! It is so hideous my mind refuses to recall the name for this...this...."
I looked down.
"Coverall!!" he cried. "Yes! It's a horrible word. It's a horrable name. But so true to the dreary nature of the garment. Look. So utilitarian."
""U-t-i-l-t-a-r-i-a-n," He repeated the word, drawing it out for emphasis. "It covers you up, but this is all. Meh! I say meh to your coverall. It is a fashion catastrophy."
"It's not supposed to look good...." I began.
"And is very successful at so doing. One would swear your coverall was made for the sole purpose of improving the self esteem of other clothing."
I ground my teeth and felt a low growl begin in the back of my throat as I reached for my sidearm. Vae anticipated the move, stepped toward me and dropped her hand over mine before I could draw my gun from the holster.
"C'mon Mord," she said in a low voice. "Aldo can get on the nerves, but we're lucky to have him. His fashion Industry skills are maxed out. He can even work with Intaki crinoline. The guy's a rock star when it comes to clothing."
I took a deep breath and nodded at Vae. She gave me a tight smile and stepped back. I turned to Aldo, who'd watched the exchange with his over-bright eyes.
"Well," I said, "I suppose there's nothing wrong with having a little flash to wear in station."
"For station?" He cried. "No, no,no! Fashion is not just for station! What, you think looking fabulous is only for getting sloppy drunk on dockside? For finding a lady capsuleer and making the jiggidy-jiggidy?"
"Hey, I don't...." I began.
"Fashion is living. Fashion is breathing," Aldo said, executing a little pirouette.
"Life is an occasion," he said. "You must always look your best - even crawling through synthetic oil in the engine room. One can be fashionable even in battle. You may die in agony, but you will do so knowing that, while you may not be the better man, you are the better dressed man."
"Now," he said, whipping out a pad and stylus, "How much closet space on your ship?"
"Closet space?" I said, "It's a combat ship. There's a locker, but no closet."
"Ahhhh!" he cried out, covering his ears with his hands and stamping his feet. "This I cannot hear. This is too much." He stopped and and poked me in the chest with his riding crop.
"You," he said quietly. "Are a Philistine."
"Because my combat ship is short on closet space?"
"Yes," Aldo said, as he began tapping data into the pad. "But don't worry, it isn't your fault. It is a new world, yes? The age of Incarna. We must all adapt. Not to worry, though, I have just the thing for you. There!"
He thrust the pad toward me. I peered at it.
"Yes!" beamed Aldo "A fashion upgrade for your strategic cruiser. It adds a 10,000 m3 walk-in closet. And with these rigs you can install a motorized hanger rail system and on-board dry-cleaning"
"But you've ripped out the defensive subsystems," I pointed out.
"I know!" He clapped his hands gleefully. "It's totally lock and load, baby!"
"Mord!" called a booming voice from behind me.
I turned to see Kento, our corporate exec crossing the dance floor toward me.
"Welcome back. I see you've met Aldo."
"Eh, Kento," I said, "Are you wearing spats?"
"I know!" Kento smiled proudly at Aldo. "The man's a visionary, isn't he. We're completely regearing the corporation to leverage the Incarna upgrades. I've got all the Industrial command ships in dry-dock. We're ripping out the maintenance bays and installing tech 2 fabric mills and on-board tailoring shops."
"But the mining ops," I stammered.
"Mining?" Kento wrinkled his nose and waved his hand in dismissal. "Dirty business mining." He tugged at his cuffs and his diamond cufflinks twinkled in the club's pulsing light.
"No Mord," he said throwing an arm over my shoulder. "It's a brave new world. Yesterday's battles were fought with lasers and rail-guns. From now on, it's needles and thread, and may the best-dressed win. Strategic cruisers? Bah! Jovian silks and Sleeper synthetics; that's the next frontier in T3 technologies. "
He took Aldo's pad from my hand and held it up where we could see the fashion-augmented Proteus.
"That," he said. "Is our future. Tomorrow's battlefield isn't the spacelanes, but the fashion runway and the glossy pages of Vogue New Eden. Can you imagine it, Mord? Can you see the future?"
And to my horror, I could.