January of YC107 brought news of the Caldari Gaming Commission's COLOSSUS race finals, with the date set for the 30th of the month and the Commission promising to breathe new life into the gaming industry with further capsuleer events. Betting on the race final, which early estimates put at 100 billion ISK, soon reached 300 billion ISK - an extraordinary amount demonstrating the wealth available to capsuleers.
With the Caldari Gaming Commission having announced prizes of fully-fitted Caldari Navy ships for the winners of the COLOSSUS race, anticipation was high on the day of the race final. With racers beginning their marathon in the Fountain region, many fell afoul of blockading capsuleers early on, though plenty punched through to continue the race into Cloud Ring where more attackers lay in wait. Surviving racers sprinted to the race finish deep in the Branch region and Team Lai Dai swept the board, taking the team contest and placing 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the individual pilots contest.
The Caldari Gaming Commission hosted an award ceremony in honor of Team Lai Dai early in February, and the Caldari State's Chief Executive Panel congratulated Lai Dai together with the runner-up teams of the Wiyrkomi and Hyasyoda corporations.
Zainou Biotech suffered a serious security breach in March, when two leading scientists, the biochemist Ullia Hnolku and his wife, Eckarine Mitumi-Hnolku, went missing, believed to be in possession of a classified drug known as Insorum. Zainou, a subsidiary of Caldari State megacorporation Ishukone, suffered massive drops on the stock markets as soon as the news emerged, with many questioning the future of the biotechnology leader.
The Jorvel Nekarr incident greatly concerned the Amarr Empire for much of March, beginning with the capture of the rogue Amarr agent in Misaba system. After taking Nekarr to the nearby Zoar and Sons station in system, the Amarr Imperial Navy began to initiate quarantine procedures and place massive security cordons around the station.
Affairs took on a very serious character when an agent of the Caldari-based Takamatsu Trading Exchange penetrated the Zoar and Sons station and caused a security alert throughout the Empire. Hunted down by the Navy and independent capsuleers, Kani Odana was killed before he could pass on any information he may have gathered. Takamatsu and the Amarr Empire vigorously disputed these events but to no avail for Takamatsu. The Amarr soon decided to move whatever investigations were taking place in Misaba to a secure facility out of the way of prying eyes.
CONCORD's Directive Enforcement Department (DED) released a report in April revealing that increased numbers of illegal deadspace outposts were being established on the fringes of CONCORD-patrolled space. Of particular concern was news that Sansha's Nation and the Guristas were rapidly expanding their holdings in deadspace pockets.
The investigation into the disappearance of biochemist Ullia Hnolku and his wife Eckarine Mitumi-Hnolku acquired new urgency when it was discovered that the compound insorzapine bisulfate, known as "Insorum", could pose a serious threat to public health. In light of this, the Caldari Navy took over the investigation and search for the missing scientists but soon ran into problems when the Minmatar Republic filed a formal complaint against it with CONCORD. Caldari Navy ships were alleged to have docked at a Republic Fleet station without permission - in breach of the Yulai Convention - while searching for the Hnolkus. Just as the affair seemed to be spiraling out of control, leaked Zainou Biotech reports indicated that the Insorum mutagen was not as dangerous as earlier reports had suggested. This calmed matters down but raised a number of questions as to the conduct of Zainou and its parent corporation Ishukone.
In the Gallente Federation, President Souro Foiritan experienced a setback in his campaign to be the first two-term President of the Federation when his delegates blundered, failing to properly launch his campaign and correctly starting the process of appointing his election emissaries. Opponents Eman Autrech and Mentas Blaque, in contrast, began their campaigns smoothly and were soon making political capital at the expense of the embarrassed incumbent.
May brought further developments in the Insorum Affair, as news agencies across New Eden broke the news that the insorzapine bisulfate compound was believed to be capable of reversing the effects of the mutagenic drug Vitoc. The missing Ullia Hnolku and wife Eckarine Mitumi-Hnolku were still believed to be carrying samples of the drug, together with key knowledge as to its manufacture, leading to reports that the Amarr Empire was mobilizing navy units to search for the scientists in light of the newly-reported properties of the substance.
More misfortune hit the Foiritan administration when a large Serpentis strike force attacked Gallente Federation assets in the Alperaute system and succeeded in hijacking the Molyneux, one of the six Soltueur-class Titans controlled by the Federation Navy. Gallente intelligence was later able to identify Serpentis Corporation CEO Salvador Sarpati himself as the leader of the attack that resulted in the capture of the Molyneux. The Federation Navy placed a 1.2 billion ISK bounty on Sarpati's head, making him the most wanted man in New Eden, with his henchman Tuvan Orth attracting a 500 million ISK bounty. Despite these efforts, Sarpati was able to escape with his new ship back to Serpentis space, leading to accusations of apathy against Foiritan as it was confirmed there were no plans to send Federation forces into nullsec in an effort to recover the lost Titan.
The Insorum Affair took another twist late in May when Omir Sarikusa, dreaded leader of the Blood Raider Covenant, claimed responsibility for kidnapping Eckarine Mitumi-Hnolku, wife of Ullia Hnolku, the biochemist whose defection with samples of the Insorum drug alerted New Eden to its existence. The Blood Raider chief went on to claim that his organization was in control of a prototype of the Insorum drug and was prepared to use it to strike at the Amarr Empire. Confirmation of his claim to have captured Mitumi-Hnolku came with shocking images of her being subjected the Blood Raider rituals of 'blooding,' with Caldari State sources confirming the woman shown to be Ullia Hnolku's wife.
Within days of the Blood Raider announcement, Ullia Hnolku was dead. Apparently driven from cover by desperation at the kidnapping of his wife, Hnolku enlisted the assistance of a number of Minmatar capsuleers, keen to gain access to Insorum for purposes of freeing the legions of Minmatar slaves suffering under the chemical cosh of Vitoc. As Hnolku prepared to meet with the capsuleers, he was attacked aboard the station he had been hiding in and suffered a grievous knife wound. Managing to board a shuttle, Dr. Hnolku departed the station, escorted by a large force of Minmatar freedom-fighters. Along the way, possibly suffering impaired judgment as a result of blood loss, Dr. Hnolku made a premature jump through a stargate and fell into an ambush set up by Caldari capsuleers. His unarmed and unarmored ship was summarily destroyed.
Reports from nullsec sources in June indicated that relations between Outer Ring Excavations (ORE) and their security providers Mordu's Legion were deteriorating to breaking point. Due to their rumored history of persistently bad relations, it was suggested that personal disputes between ORE CEO Orion Mashel and Legion chief Muriya Mordu had gotten beyond the point of reconciliation.
Eclipsing all other events of June, and arguably the entire year YC107 to date, was the Mabnen Incident on the ninth day of the month, when a chemical attack led to shocking destruction on the planet of Mabnen I in the Amarr Empire. Beginning with the distribution of an aerosol agent into the atmosphere of Mabnen I, centered on the Hemlock Field complex of slave colonies, the attack was initially thought to have been foiled when the vessels releasing the chemical were shot down by Amarr security forces. This assumption was shown to be premature as a number of slave colonies experienced rioting and were soon in flames. By mid-morning, seven of the twelve colonies in the vast complex were out of communication with Amarr authorities and the military was being called in to restore order.
At noon, Omir Sarikusa broadcast a statement claiming full responsibility for the attack on Mabnen I, revealing that the Blood Raider Covenant had released an aerosol form of the nsorum drug into the atmosphere of the planet. There was no reaction from the Amarr Empire to this claim but reports suggested that Emperor Doriam II had begun a series of emergency meetings with his top advisors. As the day wore on, Mabnen I descended into chaos. Rebelling slaves spilled out of the colonies and wrought havoc across the affected region.
Citizens of the Minmatar Republic reacted with joy to the news of the slave revolts, hailing Insorum as a cure for the scourge of Vitoc. Republic Prime Minister Karin Midular urged the Blood Raider Covenant to contact the Republic to discuss peaceful use of the Insorum drug. While this may have been done for show, many thought the suggestion hopelessly naive. The Caldari State insisted it intended to take no action over the Mabnen Incident, refusing to see itself involved in a purely internal affair of the Amarr Empire despite the origins of the Insorum drug and the continuing captivity of Eckarine Mitumi-Hnolku.
Clearly mindful of the role of its subsidiary Zainou Biotech in the Insorum Affair, the Ishukone Corporation went even further, denying all responsibility for the Mabnen I slave-revolts and insisting that the Blood Raider Covenant had significantly altered the Insorum drug, using it in a weaponized form not envisaged or developed by Zainou Biotech.
Emerging from his councils, Emperor Doriam II responded to the Mabnen attack by declaring all-out war on the Blood Raider Covenant. Acknowledging that a blow had been dealt to the Amarr Empire, the Emperor promised that every arm of the Amarr military would be raised against Omir Sarikusa and the Covenant. Ministry of War officials confirmed that a massive mobilization of the Imperial Navy was underway and preparations for orbital and suborbital warfare were being made. The object of the campaign was to be the annihilation of the Blood Raider Covenant.
Fighting was not long in starting, with the second half of the month seeing sustained strikes against Blood Raider installations in their Bleak Lands stronghold. With capsuleers engaging on both sides, the brutal fighting was said to have resulted in Blood Raider losses amounting to billions of ISK, as the forces of the Amarr Empire targeted key Covenant facilities across the region.
With the campaign against the Blood Raider Covenant going well, July should have been a victorious month for the Amarr Empire but was swiftly turned into a time of tragedy and mourning. Matters began well enough as the Imperial Navy dealt what it called a 'crushing blow' to the Blood Raiders, destroying one of its major installations in the Sahtogas system, the center of Blood Raider power in the Bleak Lands. The Empire claimed the facility to have housed the Blood Raider's Insorum research laboratories, stocks of the drug and a large munitions dump. After this, it did indeed seem that victory had been achieved. The Covenant fielded no significant battlegroups, and only scouting and raiding parties were sighted within the Amarr Empire.
Then came the assassination of Doriam II, stunning the Amarr Empire and shocking the New Eden cluster. The death of the Emperor was confirmed by Court Chamberlain Dochuta Karsoth, who was unwilling to shed any light on rumours as to the identity of the assassin, preferring to condemn the act as 'heinous' and lament Amarr's 'unspeakable tragedy.' Imperial Navy squadrons were placed on full alert with patrols particularly heavy on the Republic and Federation borders.
While the details of the assassination trickled out, confirming that the killing took place in the Imperial Palace in Dam-Torsad, the major empires of New Eden reacted with horror. The Caldari State's Chief Executive Panel unanimously condemned the 'appalling atrocity,' while Republic Prime Minister Karin Midular described the assassination as an 'act of cowardice.' The various political institutions of the Gallente Federation also condemned the murder, expressing the view that it should not be allowed to threaten the peace between the empires.
Within a fortnight, claims that CONCORD had identified Doriam II's assassins surfaced after a meeting between investigators and Chamberlain Karsoth. This prompted the Chief Executive Panel to dismiss CONCORD's findings as amounting to 'zero.' It also caused Omir Sarikusa to issue a mocking statement, pouring scorn on the efforts of CONCORD. Although the Blood Raider chief made no claims of Blood Raider involvement in the assassination, he did declare that the Covenant would strike at the Amarr Empire from their new bases in Delve region.
CONCORD's investigation into the assassination of Doriam II caused more controversy in August when a memo suggesting a connection with the Royal Khanid Navy was leaked. The memorandum also revealed that CONCORD were preparing to insert agents into the RKN as part of the investigation. This provoked a strong denial of any involvement by the Khanid Navy and demands that CONCORD cease infiltration operations aimed against it.
A grim discovery was made in the Amarr system when prominent slaveholder Rezini Lifu was found dead and mutilated in his home. His slaves, all trained as gladiators, were reported missing along with several combat vessels. A later raid by gladiatorial ships on an Amarr Vitoc convoy in Rasile system was soon linked to the Lifu case.
Another Vitoc shipment was attacked, and this time destroyed, in early September, as it made its way to Amarr. Escaped gladiator slaves were again believed to be responsible for the attack, as two bodies identified as former slaves of recently-killed slaveholder Bamadak Pareh were discovered bearing tell-tale signs of death from Vitoc withdrawal. Later in the month, an even more grisly discovery was made as over 70 bodies belonging to Minmatar slaves, many of them gladiators, were found dead in a disused hangar in the Zaimeth system. Many of the bodies were identified as former slaves of the slain slaveholders Rezini Lifu and Bamadak Pareh.
October brought fleeting sightings of other escaped gladiators, though soon enough most of them disappeared, never to be heard from again. Sporadic pirate activity was a highlight of the first week of the month, with a Guristas task force being destroyed by the Caldari Navy; Serpentis ships sighted on the Federation border; and a Blood Raider task force succeeding in stealing seven Navy Issue Apocalypses from shipyards in Khanid Prime. A later assault by Serpentis forces in Placid was speculated to be an attempt by the rogue corporation to destabilize the Gallente Federation elections.
More peculiar was the case of two scientists embarked on a project to build a 'brain wave control' device. Dr. Albert Vance and Dr. Victor Stats first emerged into public view as they tried to recruit Caldari capsuleers to supply electronic parts for their research project. Rapidly reported to the authorities amid increasing alarm at the megalomaniacal claims being made by Dr. Vance, the pair were forced underground when the Caldari Business Tribunal launched an investigation into the Vance and Stats project.
The fugitive scientists were reported to have shifted to attempting to recruit among Amarr capsuleers in early November. In response, Caldari judges took the step of issuing 'kill-on-sight' warrants against Vance and Stats.
The Insorum Affair was given a sad coda with news from a source within the Blood Raider Covenant that Eckarine Mitumi-Hnolku, wife of the late biochemist Ullia Hnolku, had been broken by months of captivity and regular subjection to vile Blood Raider rituals. As it was suggested that the Blood Raiders had destroyed her old personality and were attempting to insert a new one, loyal to the Covenant, it seemed Mitumi-Hnolku was beyond all help.
The Amarr Empire issued an interim report on the investigation into the assassination of Emperor Doriam II in December. Serving primarily to dismiss any claims arising from leaked CONCORD memos, the report made vague suggestions of progress in identifying the killers but accepted that key conspirators were at large and remained unidentified. The report also stated that Amarr investigators could no find no evidence whatsoever of involvement by any neighboring state, or personnel associated with government organizations within or outside the Empire. The Khanid Kingdom was quick to highlight this, repeating once more its repudiation of suggestions in one CONCORD memo that the Kingdom had had some involvement in the assassination.
The increasingly buffoonish Albert Vance and Victor Stats were exposed as failures when, following their escape from Caldari agents, they attempted to demonstrate their 'mind control device' only for it to spectacularly fail, afflicting Stats, serving as test subject, with obvious mental impairment. The communications feed to their facility was severed before agents of the Caldari Business Tribunal could trace them.
As the year approached its end, the Caldari Gaming Commission announced surprise plans to hold a Capsuleer Alliance Tournament in the last week of December. Hastily-assembled teams began to compete for the coveted title of Alliance Tournament Champions on the 28th, with many surprising and thrilling fights in the first rounds. Battling through the elimination tiers, Band of Brothers and KAOS Empire met in the grand final to provide a fitting climax to the tournament. In a tremendously close battle, it came down to BOB's sole-surviving Eagle-class Heavy Assault against a KAOS Deimos-class Heavy Assault and Ishkur-class Assault Frigate. In a remarkable display of shield-tanking, the Eagle triumphed, winning the first championship on behalf of the Band of Brothers.