16 April 2009

A window wide open

They say eyes are the window to your soul. It's true. Without a word, eyes can say 'come hither,' 'go away' or a myriad of different things. Some say that the eyes of Amarrian-raised women are particularly expressive. Your eyes convey feeling and in doing so, subtly, other things as well.

Now if eyes are the window to your soul, then pod jacks must be the window to your mind. Without a word, these can command hundreds of people, have a ship jump endless distances across the void or turn on a pin. But all jacks, they are the same -cold and heartless. They convey Information. Thought.

Nature has been wise and kind to us over a million years. Eyes are truly windows, that look inside and outside; we can see things coming. We can shut our eyes in, well, the blink of an eye. Sometimes even without thinking we can avert our eyes, cover them, duck, curl up or ultimately stand up and defend them.

Not so with pod jacks.

Humankind is so clumsy. We do not have eyes on our back.


"What about that one?" I pointed to the backlace on display, changing the subject of conversation.

Amerique frowned and said "I'm not sure."

"Ooh, but I like it. Let's go inside."

It was actually one of the most beautiful I had seen. Simple, elegant, crystalline and sparkling.

"I am looking for a backlace?" I asked the woman behind the counter.

"To plug? Of course," she said, "would you like to see anything in particular?"

"I usually wear small and comfortable, but I'm looking for something more, ah, dressy?"

"I think I may have something to interest you." She showed me some sets and helped me choose three before directing me to the fitting room, "Please walk this way, let me call the adviser for you."

I followed her through the door, sat on the couch and relaxed.

"Hello, my name is Claire, how are we doing today?" a silver-haired  lady greeted me with a kind smile as she walked in. She introduced herself as my adviser, showing her credentials before engaging in easier talk. What a peculiar mix she was, serene and poised yet, at the same time, precise and professional. There was no hint of the artificial charm of social implants. How... genuine. What a nice surprise!

"Oh, this one is beautiful indeed. Is it for a special occasion?" she asked after she locked the door and prepared the sets for a fit. "What would you be wearing it with?"

I made myself comfortable while the couch was raising. "I was planning a black evening gown, I have this upcoming gala in a couple of weeks." I could feel the couch on the skin of my back, moving and leaving my jacks exposed.

"It does sound like a lovely combination, dear," she said, "diamonds do go well with formal, especially so with black. They also bring depth out. Let us start with this one."


Of course, what you wear over your jacks is important. Not just for the self-conscious but for anyone with a set on their spine.

Assuming you dress in something more than a basic straitjacket, you would want to choose something safe -safe as in, you definitely do not want people sticking stuff into your jacks. There is nothing between your pod interface and you -I mean, your jacks are you!- and, personally, I would not want people poking at my mind behind my back, plugging god-knows-what, probing into god knows which memories.

My mind, my thoughts, thankyouverymuch.

Sure, you say, security systems and stuff. But what good would your security system do about grubby fingers mistaking your jacks for an ashtray? About water and sand at the beach? About smog and dust in the city? How about lint? Imagine not being able to plug into your pod because of a candy wrapper -don't even mention chewing gum, just pod me now and wake me up!

Security systems, right.

Anyhow speaking of safe, you may want a closed high-collar shirt or a jacket that covers everything up to that top plug on the base of your neck. Caldari no-nonsense, traditional Achur or Amarrian no-skin-no-sin are your main options. That's safe. You could go designer, too.

But depending on your personality and lifestyle, you may want to dress differently. A gown with a low back, a v-neck, halter-top, any top that shows your back. Or summer on the planet, casual, a sundress, a swimsuit. Sports? Workout? I could go on. Even a trucker wants to wear his muscle shirt once in a while, non? Not many capsuleer truckers around, on second thought.

Some people keep the original socket-caps for planetside.

Me? Thank you, but I do not think you will find me wearing bright-yellow Ishukone plastic caps to a wedding.


As the third set of plugs clicked in place the couch announced with a beep that it would slide back into a position easier for me to stand up. Claire invoked again the mirror so I could see.

I looked at the full-body hologram, staring straight at my own back. Here... there. I made a twirling gesture with my hand and the holo dutifully obeyed, with the jewels sparkling on my back as the image turned.

"It looks gorgeous." Each plug was a little star-flower made of small clear, shiny translucent gems, arranged around a bigger one in the middle. Each one a different size, big enough to cover its socket and then some, all loosely strung by two shiny silver strands.

It looked great and I did feel great. "This one, I like this one."

"You look great with it, do you not?" She paused. "I could show you a matching necklace, if you would like to see."

She was good, a very good saleswoman.


Backlaces -jack-links or back-brooches or spine studs or any name you would use- have found their place in the wardrobe. You find them in all shapes and sizes and materials; rustic beads, semi-precious, precious; diamond, pearls, emerald, morphite; wood, silicone, fake skin, low-profile trit; clear, opaque; on strands or loose. Men prefer sports teams links, clocks, dice, dorsal fins or creepy little eyes that follow you around. Pandemic Legion links have become very popular this year, peeking out over men's collars, probably because of the Tournament.

Of course most of what you see around are not really plugs. There is an entire legitimate industry of genuine back jewelry to make you look your best, whether you are a pod driver or not; sometimes just to make people look like capsuleers. Beautiful designs, only instead of plugging into your jacks these would -don't ask me how- stick to your back. But there, now even a trucker can get those from brands and a stores that need not pay the ransom fee for an 'Ishukone-approved' logo on the mounting. And they look almost the same. Almost.

If you ask me, I would go for clear gemstones. They don't look quite the same.


Claire was right, transparency did bring depth out.

She showed me how the release worked and how to wear them or will them off myself. Once done, we went back to the counter where I had my new backlace and necklace set for delivery.

Amerique had, in the meantime, fallen in love with something shiny at the opposite corner. She is such a sucker for bracelets and rings.

"Would there be anything else?" asked my newfound friend Claire, so very helpfully.

"Yes... earrings? Just like these but, do you have a crescent set of four for the left side, one for the right?"

"Why of course," she looked carefully at me and noted "you can also have your ear pierced here, as a courtesy."

I smiled back at her "Oh, thank you so much but that will not be necessary."

The customer is always right. She discreetly warned me with "a beautiful set of four..." remark, her eyes still looking with confusion at the two drop rings on my ears.

"Oh, these are not for me, but thanks again," I explained.

Technically, true. They were for my jump clone, but how would she know?


In the end, it is a matter of personal taste, and tastes differ. Whatever makes you feel safe and comfortable and good is right, clothing or plugs or both over your jacks.

That, or play ashtray. Why would anyone want to wear their wide open mind on their back?

Back wear restores that basic sense of security we lose with pod jacks; it helps us shut that window to our mind, when we want to. We were not born with pod jacks, it is not our fault we have to look for ways to keep them safe. And if it helps us look and feel great, all the better.

Because, remember, you do not have eyes on your back.

Not your own, anyway.



  1. My favourite set is a personal design; a set of rough garnets I panned at a tourist site when Dad took us on holiday when we were kids. Last year I had them split into the thinnest flakes and layered so they catch the light, then mounted them on plugs with small bio-lumes underneath.

    I'm such a goth... >_>

    ((OOC: excellent point made, and a wonderful read ^_^))

  2. A wonderful read Quintrala. Keep up the good work.

  3. With the Ralpha Dogs, you often can't see our jacks, as our long hooded jackets tend to cover up that area of our necks (mostly). That said, our usual plugs are made of ebony from one of the Gallente worlds, hand-carved to match the original dust plug shapes, and laser-etched with our corporate monogram, the three Greek letters Rho, Alpha, Delta. They probably cost as much as your gems, due to the manual labor involved in carving them, but fit our understated style better. Some of our ladies, such as Lexx, Selena, and Zephira, do favor showier plug jewelry for fancy dress wear, of course.