Over the weekend, Elite: Dangerous‘ years-long Formidine Rift mystery transformed from a pseudo-ARG into a full-blown event. A character named Salomé, carrying precious info, was set to traverse a treacherous route. Players could protect her ship or try to blow it up. A notorious troll decided to do both.
This story originally appeared in May 2017.
As outlined by Ars Technica, a number of player groups coalesced around the event. Together, a bunch of them formed the Premonition Allied Coalition, or PAC for short. The 3000+ member group aimed to protect Salomé, whose ship would be (in part) piloted by sci-fi author Drew Wagar, writer of Elite: Dangerous tie-in novel Reclamation. Whether Salomé lived or died, Wagar’s next book would reflect that, immortalising the player who did the deed, if she kicked the space bucket.
Despite the fact that PAC issued a barrage of threats to any non-PAC members in event systems, and another group, the Children of Raxxla, defended Salomé’s ship directly, she ultimately took huge damage and went down. It should have been extremely difficult for anybody to finish her, with that kind of firepower in her entourage. But that’s only assuming everybody played fair.
When the dust settled, a player named — I kid you not — Harry Potter claimed the kill. A member of Elite‘s infamous Smiling Dog Crew, he was supposed to be helping defend Salomé. The whole SDC, however, has a reputation for, well, fucking shit up. They like to grief players, but they occasionally use their powers for twisted sorts of justice, for instance when they abused overpowered heat weapons to fry fellow players, hoping that developer Frontier would notice and finally take action.
Harry Potter is perhaps the most infamous member of that infamous group. He’s turned griefing into an art form, stream sniping, murdering people during charity streams, and skirting the edges of outright harassment. So, how did he, of all people, gain the trust of the PAC? Well, apparently the SDC promised to be on their best behaviour, and they’d spent the past few months not being total shitheads, so PAC members decided to roll the dice. Plus, as Ars Technica points out, if you’re gonna have anybody help defend a mostly helpless ship against other players, you might as well go with the folks who specialise in “radically unfair, mechanic-exploiting PvP combat”. For one, that’s a valuable asset, and for two, better to have them with you than against you.
This, however, allowed SDC members to do a couple of very important things. First, one or more of them likely got themselves added to Salomé’s in-game friends list, allowing the SDC to determine her exact location. And of course, they got PAC’s permission to be present in event systems, negating the threat of immediate disintegration via gigantic, hyper-aggressive space armada. Potter, that damnable boy wizard, basically rolled out his own red carpet.
“Come on, Harry,” said one of his co-conspirators as he went for the kill. “Be a legend.” About a minute later, Salomé was space dust.
Author Wagar confirmed the kill in a solemn blog post.
“Commander Salomé, ex-Senator and disgraced lady Kahina Tijani Loren of the empire, is dead,” he wrote. “She was confirmed killed at 20:49 gametime on 29th April, 3303, succumbing to hostile fire from Commander Harry Potter.”
While some speculated that the event was scripted, Wagar claimed that he didn’t pull any strings, which is believable when you realise that he’s gonna have a hell of a time writing around the fact that the killer’s name is Harry Potter.