Time Doesn’t Heal All Wounds


Last week, members of the United States Special Forces captured Ahmed Abu Khatallah, the terror suspect believed to be responsible for the 2012 attack on U.S. personnel in Benghazi. Among the four Americans killed in the attack was Sean Smith, better known to the EVE Online community as the character Vile Rat. Nearly two years after his tragic death, I’m still having a hard time coming to terms with the circumstances.

I’m going to start this off by saying that I never knew Sean Smith in real life. I wish I had. Nor am I going to go into some in-depth eulogy, people who knew him much better than I did a better job anyways.

I knew the character Vile Rat though. He was pretty famous internally within Goonswarm when I first joined the alliance in the middle of 2007. He’d hang out in the Sigma jabber channel and I’d occasionally bullshit with him, and once in a while I’d joke around with him in comms. He helped develop a powerful internal mythology in Goonswarm along with other players like Remedial, Sesfan Qu’lah (#1 CEO of my heart), Scavok, Stoffer Ninjapirate, SUAS, The Mittani, Deaken Fiss and Zastrow. Over the years most of the older players moved on due to real life and burnout. Yet when all the oldtimers started vanishing, he and a handful of others stuck around and helped build Goonswarm into the entity it is today. Most of the crazy political events that involved Goonswarm from the RedSwarm Federation days until his death were directly attributed to him. The community response to his passing was a testament to just how profound his contributions to EVE are, and some of the kindest words spoken about him came from Goonswarm Federation’s biggest enemies.


One of the worst parts of growing up is slowly losing friends and family to death. There is sense to be made from death. People get older, people get diseases, people get in accidents, and people even commit suicide. No matter how heart-breaking it can be, there is usually some sense to be had, even in unexpected death. But time, no matter how slowly, usually heals all wounds. But nearly two years later, I’m still having trouble moving on.

Part of the problem with moving on is that the Benghazi attacks had significant national political fallout that continues to this day. I’ve always been involved following politics; I’ve been enamoured talking on the subject with like-minded individuals and respectfully debating those who disagree with mine. Yet the 2012 American election was one of the most bitter experiences of my life. Anger at an administration that failed to protect an online friend I knew and anger at a significant number of people who used a tragedy to further promote their own agenda.

I’ve been hoping the last two years that punishing those who did the attack would bring me some closure. Up until now, I’ve figured my anger would go away once those responsible are brought to justice.

So far, that hasn’t been the case.

Tags: hvac, loss, vile rat

About the author

Xander Phoena

The good looking, funny, intelligent member of the team, Xander set up Crossing Zebras with Jeg in April 2012 mainly because he was talking too much about Eve on his other podcast. Playing the game for almost five years, Xander still has absolutely zero clue about how to actually play Eve but somehow still manages to talk a good game.

  • Kamar Raimo

    Honestly, if I were dead, I would not want to be named alongside Remedial. That guy is/was pretty fucked up. Even Mittani has repeatedly said so in public, and he usually doesn’t name and shame other Goons.

  • Alphax45

    Dammit Xander, why you post a things that make me the feels. RIP VR flying above us forever. o/

  • Nobdy

    This was when I stopped disliking the president’s policies, and started actively disliking him personally for being a liar.

  • Drew

    The thing is, Xander, those responsible have NOT been brought to justice.

    Terrorists are animals. They are despicable pieces of shit, but at least they can be relied upon to behave reasonably predictably; that is, give them an opening, and they will try to kill you.

    The United States government is responsible for competently protecting our ambassadors, diplomatic staff, and citizens overseas. The fact of the matter is that the government failed to appropriately handle the collapse of Libya; failed to provide adequate security to Ambassador Stephens and his staff in Benghazi; failed to improve security when Stephens requested it repeatedly; failed to mount a rescue attempt the instant it learned of the attack; failed to be honest and forthright with the American people in the aftermath; and a host of other basic abrogations of duty.

    This is a non-partisan issue. It is a competence issue. It is very possibly a criminal issue. I, for one, won’t feel closure until those who are *really* responsible are behind bars. Unlikely to ever happen, but one can dream.

  • Saint Mick

    There is no such thing as “Closure”. The only thing that we can do about death is accept it, hope some of the pain goes away and continue to try and live our lives the best we can. Vile Rat was before my time in Eve but his legend was one of the first things that made me realise that Eve was much more than a conventional computer game.