January proved a difficult month for House Kor-Azor: Aritcio Kor-Azor, head of the family and son of Emperor Doriam II, was reported as having been involved in an 'incident' in the Cathedral of St. Tal-Romon on the planet of Eclipticum in the Kor-Azor Prime system. Apparently having rented the cathedral for private commemoration of "religious festivities," the Royal Heir was deep in 'celebration' with a number of cronies when a priest of the cathedral walked in on the group.
As it emerged that a number of artifacts had been destroyed, that the cathedral had had to be thoroughly cleansed and that portions of it had needed to be re-sanctified, Yonis Ardishapur, head of the devout House Ardishapur, voiced his concerns over the incident and demanded that the Theology Council investigate. Seemingly oblivious of (or simply uncaring toward) the controversy he had sparked, Aritcio was soon celebrating his ninety-ninth birthday in lavish style, prompting Uriam Kador, head of Kador Family, to denounce the Emperor's son as an 'uncouth scoundrel.' Whatever the opinion of his peers, Aritcio seemed to have the better of the matter when the Theology Council cleared him of any wrongdoing concerning the cathedral.
The Caldari-Gallente research effort at the Crielere Project ran into trouble when Crielere command staff confirmed that a number of advanced technology blueprints had been stolen. Otro Gariushi, charismatic CEO of the Ishukone Corporation (a major partner in Crielere), played down the matter, declaring it insignificant compared to the advances made by the project. Even so, Gallente Federation President Souro Foiritan made a surprise visit to the Crielere research facilities. Letting it be known that he was extremely displeased with the way the Crielere command had handled the theft, Foiritan insisted that an exhaustive investigation be conducted.
No doubt anticipating that such an investigation would uncover inconvenient facts, Otro Gariushi seems to have decided to tackle the matter head-on. Declaring that the Caldari had 'carried' the Crielere Project, disparaging Gallente contributions, Gariushi all but admitted that the Caldari had taken the missing blueprints, justifying the act as compensation for their own contribution. Unsurprisingly, these remarks caused an uproar among the Gallente scientific establishment and outraged the Gallente Federation, with the Senate immediately suspending funding to the Crielere Project. Attempting to calm the situation, the leading scientists on the project, Gallentean Henric Touvolle and Caldari Taromi Umailen, publicly called for harmony, asking their fellow scientists to stay with the Crielere research community.
As the greatest research project ever seen in New Eden was wracked with problems, CONCORD had to deal with an apparent rogue officer. A taskforce of CONCORD ships was sighted leaving secure space without authorization by DED Command. So seriously was the matter taken that an emergency session of the CONCORD Assembly was called. Within days, DED Internal Security Chief Tantoseisen Kakkichi turned himself in, returning his task force to CONCORD-patrolled space. The affair took a curious turn when the imprisoned DED officer was placed under a gag order, along with his legal team, as CONCORD fleet activity was seen to rise sharply.
The inevitable happened in February, with the Caldari State and the Gallente Federation officially abandoning the Crielere project and the research stations they had constructed in the Crielere system. A Guristas raid seeking to capitalize on the situation was foiled by a hundreds-strong capsuleer force gathered to defend the scientists after warnings came in of Guristas reconnoitering the stations. After a second attempt to raid the stations amid evacuations proceedings, the Guristas retreated entirely from Crielere. Perhaps in gratitude, but likely mainly out of principle, the Crielere scientists chose to publicize their findings, leading to several advanced technologies reaching the open market.
On a later run intended to reverse some of their setbacks in Crielere, The Guristas were dealt a huge blow when Jirai 'Fatal' Laitanen was killed in battle, even as Korako 'The Rabbit' Kosakami escaped. The two Guristas leaders led a strike force against the Crielere Project where they succeeded in capturing lead scientists Henric Touvolle and Taromi Umailen. Kosakami was able to take the abducted scientists with him when he made good his escape. For a time, it was thought that the Guristas organization had been thrown into complete disarray by the death of one of their founders, but seasoned observers still today suspect this was all a ploy, with Laitanen, a veteran capsuleer, almost certainly alive and in hiding.
CONCORD stunned New Eden by announcing they had discovered a series of abandoned deep space bases throughout the outer regions of the cluster. Treason charges against Commander Tantoseisen Kakkichi were being dropped in light of his instrumental role in discovering the mysterious network of bases, 69 in total, spread across 23 regions. CONCORD investigation teams had established that the bases were perhaps 20 years old, possibly older, and constructed by an organization known only as 'Immensea.' Amazing as this news was, it was not the only discovery CONCORD made in the outer regions in February, as they later released details of a network of uncharted stargates, believed to be linked to the Immensea organization and extensively used by pirates and smugglers.
The Minmatar Republic found itself convulsed by a debate over the public display of the Khumaak, a symbol of freedom for the Minmatar ever since a rebellion was sparked by an Ardishapur Heir's death at the hands of a slave wielding the Heir's own traditional Amarr sunburst scepter - the very object later idealized as the Khumaak. As Prime Minister Karin Midular's Sebiestor Tribe pushed for the symbol to be removed from the list of official state symbols and banned from public display at state occasions, other tribes vigorously opposed the measure.
In March the Khumaak issue came to a head, with the Republic Parliament eventually adopting a compromise measure providing for the symbol to remain sanctioned for display on fleet, military and state apparel but banned from display at state occasions, particularly those involving contact with representatives of the Amarr Empire. In general, the entire move to ban the Khumaak was felt to have backfired, as it started a widely-adopted fashion of wearing the object among Minmatar in the Republic.
Tragically, the scientists Henric Touvolle and Taromi Umailen were found to have died of starvation in the slave mines of the Amarr planet Inis-Ilix I. Despite an earlier agreement between [Aritcio Kor-Azor and President Souro Foiritan that the scientists would be freed, a terrible mix-up - possibly caused by freedom-seeking slaves - resulted in the scientists' being sent to one of the brutal mines run by House Kor-Azor. It was rumored that the slaves who'd used the mix-up to escape had carried sensitive documents out of Aritcio Kor-Azor's research facilities.
The Ishukone Corporation was once more embroiled in controversy when it emerged that a multi-billion ISK deal to supply the Khanid Kingdom with transcranial microcontrollers was intended to facilitate the devices' use on slaves. As adverse comment erupted across New Eden, the Khanid Kingdom emphatically denied ill treatment of slaves fitted with the microcontrollers, giving examples of slaves voluntarily lining up to be implanted with the devices. Ishukone CEO Otro Gariushi was also moved to defend the practice, claiming the microcontrollers improved quality of life for the slaves. The CONCORD Inner Circle's later ruling that the trade was legal dissatisfied many, but the chips continued streaming to the Khanid Kingdom unabated.
The Quafe Company, the enormous Gallente soft drink conglomerate, hit the headlines with aggressive promotion of its products, in particular its new soft drink Quafe Ultra! Despite Caldari complaints, the Quafe Corporation pressed on with its marketing strategy, promoting the drink across foreign markets and commissioning a holoreel named 'Ultra!' to promote the new drink. The premiere of 'Ultra!' was a smash box-office success, and a party for the stars and other dignitaries was announced.
Tragedy was to strike at the party, held at the Rent-A-Dream Gardens in Elarel system, when a terrorist organization named UDI (United against Decadence and Impurity) raided the facilities, killing several of the film's stars along with other party guests. Narrowly missing an opportunity to assassinate President Souro Foiritan, who was invited late to the party, the UDI nevertheless shocked New Eden. The incident became known as the 'Elarel Massacre.'
April opened with Gallente Federation President Souro Foiritan pledging to bring the UDI to justice and setting up a special investigative task force. Within days the Federal Intelligence Office was able to claim results when it captured a UDI operative in the Sinq Laison region. President Foiritan addressed the Federation, confirming the capture and calling for increased vigilance.
Transcranial microcontrollers were back in the headlines as demand for the devices in the Gallente Federation sent prices spiking. Such was the price increase that the Khanid Kingdom broke off its import contract with Ishukone Corporation, citing the increased cost of the chips, which had risen in line with market conditions. In a bizarre turn, the prevalence of microcontrollers as recreational devices in the Federation was highlighted by the antics of Gallente Senator Cedriq Tyrion, who behaved as if he were dallying with a young girl in the middle of a speech to the Senate. The strange behavior was caused by the influence of a transcranial microcontroller over Senator Tyrion and the incident raised Gallente concerns about the devices' ancillary effects.
Plans for the restoration of the damaged St. Tal-Romon Cathedral on Eclipticum, site of the controversial incident involving Aritcio Kor-Azor, were initially raised by Catiz Tash-Murkon, but in May Emperor Doriam II himself took a personal interest, declaring the cathedral to be the property of the Imperial Throne. In his decree, the Emperor ordered that the cathedral be moved stone-by-stone to Amarr Prime and reconstructed on holy ground on the Amarr home continent.
A rare initiative from the Jovian Directorate started off one of the more unusual incidents of the year. Announcing that Misu Baniya, a Jove ambassador, would be a diplomatic liaison with the four major empires and other factions, the Jove amazed New Eden by declaring that their representative would visit all the faction leaders in the space of one hour. With the method for achieving this miracle discovered to be a matter transmission device, amazement turned to horror when the device malfunctioned, scattering the Jove ambassador across the cluster in tens of thousands of pieces.
In the aftermath, Tunai Moran, Jove Ambassador to the CONCORD Assembly, revealed that Misu Baniya's brainscan had not been completed before his disintegration, resulting in a faulty clone activation. The four empires swiftly offered to assist the Jovian Directorate when it was made clear that the Jove possessed the means to reconstruct Misu Baniya if sufficient fragments of his body could be recovered. It was soon discovered that tiny pieces of Baniya had appeared on stations across the New Eden cluster and the empires began to buy the Jove body parts on the market.
The Secure Commerce Commission stepped in within days, placing a moratorium on the trade in Jove body parts on the grounds of the distortions being created in the market by massive infusions of ISK from the empires. Black market trading in fragments of the unfortunate Baniya rose sharply following the SCC moratorium. Ambassador Tunai Moran took the unusual step of offering advanced cloaking technology |blueprints to encourage recovery of Baniya fragments. Shortly thereafter the SCC lifted its moratorium. In a final twist, sources within the Blood Raider Covenant revealed that Omir Sarikusa, leader of the Blood Raiders, had given orders to collect Jove body parts for unknown purposes.
Whatever scheme Omir Sarikusa was embarked on, he called a halt to Blood Raider acquisitions of fragments of Misu Baniya at the beginning of June, with a sizable portion of the luckless Jove's body collected and reportedly made ready for transport at his personal base. Over the course of the frenzied collecting operation hundreds of Blood Raider vessels had been lost and speculation as to Sarikusa's need for the body parts was intense.
The official collecting efforts of the empires culminated with direct trading for the body parts by authorized buyback commissioners. With Jove convoys running under cloak gathering the parts, the process was completed within 24 hours of the buyback beginning. The Jove official supervising the collection, Gyt Quisog, was later able to confirm to CONCORD's Inner Circle that sufficient body parts had been collected to make reconstruction viable. Cloaking technology blueprints would duly be made available to pilots participating in the collection effort. By the end of the month, the Jove Directorate was able to announce the successful molecular reconstruction of Misu Baniya and a conventional diplomatic tour by the restored Jove ambassador.
July saw the completion of the transfer of the Cathedral of St. Tal-Romon from the planet Eclipticum in Kor-Azor Prime to Amarr, a process which had begun the month before. With few transport losses during the lengthy transfer process, the cathedral was expected to be reconstructed and renovated without difficulty on the Amarr home continent.
Mordu's Legion saw much action during the last half of the month, following a meeting between Muriya Mordu and Outer Ring Excavations CEO Orion Mashel. An extensive mobilization of Legionforces led up to a major strike against Serpentis Prime, where Muriya Mordu used an unknown device on the primary chemical refinery station orbiting Serpentis Prime VIII. Speculation about the device ranged from its being everything from a sabotage weapon to an advanced scanning system.
Whatever the case, Mordu's task force moved cautiously through the now-alerted Serpentis territories before being pinned down in August by Guardian Angels forces led by Brynn Jerdola and Setele Schellan, noted commanders in the Angel Cartel force tasked with protecting their Serpentis ally's assets. After an hour-long battle, the Guardians were forced to retreat and await reinforcements, allowing the canny Muriya Mordu to withdraw his forces in good order, escaping for friendlier space with his mysterious task completed.
Announced the previous month, the COLOSSUS race qualifiers opened in September, with the Caldari Gaming Commission overseeing races across the lawless regions of New Eden. The Lai Dai Corporation team was selected after a thrilling race through Venal, while Wiyrkomi's team was selected following races through Catch. Kaalakiota's qualifiers ran through Venal again, and Catch and Curse played host to the Nugoeihuvi selection race. The Caldari Gaming Commission ran further races through the following weeks, allowing the megacorporations to build up substantial teams of capsuleer racers.
Constitutional change in the Gallente Federation was the major news story of this month and the following, as President Souro Foiritan battled to push through an amendment to the federal constitution allowing him to run for president a second time when his first term expired. Under the then-existing constitution it was mandated that only a single term of five years as Federation President could be served. With Souro Foiritan considering it vital to see through several of his initiatives and deeming it necessary to serve another term, the Senate played host to a stormy session as he put forward his proposal for change. Senator Mentas Blaque emerged as his leading opponent, with opposition to Foiritan succeeding in forcing a compromise measure and referring the issue to an independent committee of legal experts.
While Foiritan and Blaque clashed repeatedly in the media, the constitutional committee diligently carried out its work and finally concluded that the matter had to be decided in a Federation-wide referendum. Voting booths opened across the Federation as the month came to a close, with a high turn-out expected.
As the referendum vote was counted, under the scrutiny of the independent committee, unofficial polls at the beginning of October had the electorate rejecting the Foiritan proposal and denying the incumbent President the opportunity to run again for the highest office. As it turned out, however, the official result showed a close vote accepting the constitutional change and the federal constitution was duly amended. Unwilling to let the matter rest there, Senator Blaque organized Souro Foirita's opponents into a formidable force within the Federation Senate. Tabling a no-confidence vote, the opposition succeeded in persuading the Senate to pass it and force new Presidential elections.
With President Souro Foiritan continuing to hold office in the interim, three candidates for the new elections emerged: the incumbent, Senator Mentas Blaque and the humanitarian and diplomat Eman Autrech. Even at this early stage campaigning became heated, with Blaque and Foiritan in particular clashing.
The big news in November was the announcement by Outer Ring Excavations that it intended to release its moon mining equipment and components for the construction of deep-space starbases on the open market, much to the consternation of the four core empires. Delegations from the empires were soon sent to meet with ORE CEO Orion Mashel, in an attempt to persuade him not to proceed with marketing such equipment to independent capsuleers. Finding him unmoved by their negotiations, the Caldari State and Amarr Empire resorted to threatening sanctions against ORE. This sparked a backlash from many corporations and interested parties across New Eden, with suits and claims filed against the two empires.
As the controversy over starbase construction raged, leaks from CONCORD's Inner Circle revealed that large infestations of rogue drones had been discovered across empire space. CONCORD]was soon forced to confirm the authenticity of the leaks and admitted it had been trying to contain this information, along with the knowledge that new breeds of rogue drones had been found in deadspace pockets across patrolled space.
Moving swiftly, CONCORD enlisted the empires in ruthless sweeps through the worst drone infestations, within a matter of days successfully neutralizing the threat of a widespread rogue drone breakout. Having received warp beacon access to hundreds of deadspace pockets, the empires declared their intention to use the pockets exclusively for their own purposes and deny access to other parties. The New 25ers group immediately protested in an attempt to fight the monopoly being established by the empires, but it was a 17-year old Gallente girl that ended up thwarting their ambitions. Hacking the warp beacon signal almost by accident, the girl released her discovery to the world at large, rendering any attempt to restrict access to the pockets impossible.
The starbase construction controversy had been rumbling on throughout the month but was essentially stopped in its tracks when the CONCORD Assembly made a revolutionary statement of recognition toward capsuleer alliances. Confirming that its SCC division would not be restricting sale of moon mining equipment to the factions now legally recognized by the Assembly, CONCORD made the question of the alliances' legitimate use of moon mining equipment and starbases a moot one.
As many an empire interest peered forlornly into the future following their defeat over the starbase issue, in a seemingly contradictory move CONCORD chose to warn of the dangers of rising capsuleer idolatry in December. As a conclusion to the year YC106, it was a somewhat curious note of warning about the very danger CONCORD itself may have done much to unleash. For the first time, the capsuleers were free to build their own empires in earnest.