Year YC111 - February
Tournament Closes and War Continues
The 6th Alliance Tournament came to an end in early February, with Pandemic Legion defeating R.U.R. alliance in a thrilling final match between the latter's Caracal Navy Issues and Abaddon team and Pandemic's Vexor Navy Issue and Minmatar command ship squad. Having already defeated the defending champions of Ev0ke alliance in the semi-finals, their victory in the final saw Pandemic Legion crowned Alliance Champions for the first time after a history of strong showings in previous tournaments.
The continuing war with the Gallente Federation and the occupation of Caldari Prime continued to be sources of contention throughout the month. The Wiyrkomi Peace Corps, the security arm of the patriot faction Wiyrkomi Corporation, announced it was sending an additional full brigade of troops to take part in the occupation of the Caldari's original homeworld. This highlighted the involvement of a number of corporate security troop forces belonging to such megacorporations as Kaalakiota, Lai Dai Corporation and Wiyrkomi alongside Caldari Navy marines and Provist troops on Caldari Prime. The Wiyrkomi deployment was considered to mark a shift away from such corporate forces working mainly as defense forces around assets seized by megacorps toward being contract troops answering to the Caldari provisional government on the planet.
Ishukone Contendors Speak
While patriot corporations such as Wiyrkomi continued to be unstinting in their support of the occupation and general war effort, Ishukone Watch CEO Mens Reppola spoke out on the subject of the occupation on the political talk show Games of State. Referring to the recent report on the costs of occupation, Reppola charged that the occupation was "a logistical nightmare ... draining the resources of the State." The former Navy captain went on to point out that the Caldari Navy was conceived and organized as a defensive force that could not sustain an offensive of the Scope and length of the occupation and the continuing war against the Gallente Federation. With his candidacy for the Ishukone Corporation chief executive seat now well-known, Reppola also spoke of the importance of solving problems in the interests of employees and the State itself, emphasizing that this had been the approach of the late Ishukone CEO Otro Gariushi.
Mens Reppola had also been critical of the Caldari offensive in Verge Vendor in his remarks on Games of State and the campaign in the region swiftly resulted in sky-rocketing insurance and shipping rates, driving many freight companies and independent pilots away from the region. In other shipping news, a crippled Iteron-class industrial vessel was discovered burned out in space with all hands lost in the Caslemon system, Essence region. Mystery surrounded the vessel's fate and its purposes, with no public records of its cargo or destination available, until a Federation Navy statement was issued confirming the ship had been contracted by the Navy to relocate military equipment. The statement also revealed that an investigation had concluded that the ship had been destroyed by demolition charges set inside the vessel after its cargo had been stolen. The Federation Navy blamed the Caldari for this raid but questions were raised as to why there had been no naval escort.
Minedrill CEO Soisonen Okalala, a candidate for the Ishukone CEO spot, used an appearance on This is The State to respond to fellow candidate Mens Reppola's remarks on the occupation of Caldari Prime and the course of the war against the Gallente Federation. Okalala suggested that the report on the costs of the occupation was too narrowly-focused and did not balance the costs against the gains. The Minedrill CEO also congratulated the State Protectorate for its efforts in Verge Vendor and expressed support for the approach of State Executor Tibus Heth with regard to the Amarr Empire and the economic agreement with them. These last remarks were perhaps a response to criticisms from within the State over an agreement between the mining conglomerate Ducia Foundry and the State and Region Bank securing 50bn ISK of financing for the Amarr corporation.
Heightened and at times contentious activity between Caldari corporations seemed to be a feature of the month's events, with Hyasyoda Corporation walking out of negotiations with Zainou over a supply contract, Minedrill and Top Down Retail entering into a partnership to develop new mining technology and Caldari Business Tribunal investigators raiding Ishukone Corporation's offices in Oimmo system. This last incident proved to be embarrassing for the Caldari Providence Directorate, which had prompted the CBT to take the action and sent its own troops to participate in the investigators' raid. Within the day, Ishukone Watch made over 300 arrests among Ishukone personnel on charges of aiding piracy and corporate corruption throughout the Mito constellation.
Apparently the result of a longstanding Watch investigation and surveillance operation, the Ishukone security arm was forced to make its move prematurely when the CBT/Provist raid interrupted its surveillance and alerted some targets of their operation. The Watch stated that almost 50 suspects had eluded capture, among them some of the 'worst offenders.' When the Caldari Providence Directorate suit against Ishukone Corporation went the the Tribunal's Regional Court it was dismissed, vindicating the position of Ishukone and leaving the Provists sorely disappointed. Ishukone chose to leave the matter there, refraining from exercising its option of a countersuit over the premature raid and disruption to its business and that of Ishukone Watch's surveillance operation. More good press for Ishukone Watch CEO Mens Reppola came when he intervened in the dispute between Hyasyoda and Zainou to bring about a return to negotiations between the two corporations.
Treason and Salvation
In the Amarr Empire, news of the arrest of the Ammatar Fleet Grand Admiral Einkur Aro on the orders of Amarr Royal Heir Yonis Ardishapur shocked many across the Ammatar Mandate. The charges against Admiral Aro were listed as dereliction of duty, failure to prevent mutiny and treason. Speaking about his decision to order the arrest over six months after the Elder Invasion exposed serious deficiencies in the Ammatar Fleet and sparked widespread defections from its ranks, Yonis Ardishapur noted that "as the one in charge Grand Admiral Aro is totally responsible for the failures and actions of his men." The action caused much disquiet within the ranks of the Ammatar Fleet, with many fearing a general purge. On this the Royal Heir would only say that he had 'yet to decide how deep the ineptitude in the Fleet runs.'
In Amarr itself, a charismatic former slave and cleric in the Salvation Church of Blessed Servititude, Abel Jarek, declared his intention to lead a "Salvation Crusade" from Amarr to Pator, home system of the Minmatar. Accompanied by 214 Minmatar former slaves, Jarek left Amarr aboard a chartered transport and began to tour around Amarr systems picking up more former slaves to take part in his 'crusade.' The Salvation Crusade ships were soon preparing to cross into Minmatar space where they would have to leave behind their House Sarum security escort, the presence of which was an apparent sign of favor from the Sarum Family.
Crossing into Minmatar space towards the middle of February, Abel Jarek's small fleet of ships encountered several hostile vessels in Auga system. Mostly consisting of attack frigates of the Rifter-class, the hostile fleet ordered the Salvation Crusaders to turn back into Amarr space after halting Jarek's ship with a warp disruptor. Abel Jarek is believed to have immediately refused this order but the stand-off was prevented from descending into deadly violence by the arrival of Caldari mercenaries in several powerful ships, including three Cerberus-class missile cruisers and two Rook-class electronic warfare cruisers. These mercenaries jammed the Minmatar frigates and escorted the Salvation Crusaders on their journey to Pator system. Arriving in the Minmatar home system, Jarek and his followers landed on Matar and set up a camp in the largest refugee holding zone on the Minmatar homeworld.
Ever since news of the 'crusade' had reached the Minmatar Republic there had been much controversy and strong feelings of antipathy, as evidence by the unofficial attempt to halt Jarek at the border. However, as returning slaves claiming Republic citizenship, Jarek and his followers could not be stopped by the Minmatar government despite the outrage their arrival and plan to build an Amarr chapel in the refugee camp caused. This outrage manifested itself in a number of violent arguments and minor scuffles when Jarek's followers ventured into the main camp to preach. This hostility culminated in a major escalation when a several-hundred strong group of rioters, apparently led by masked men directing the crowd's actions, broke into the Salvation Crusade compound and burned their Amarr chapel down. The violence resulted in numerous injuries among Jarek's followers but there were no deaths. Complaints that the local police and fire services took too long to arrive were dismissed by the Matar authorities. For his part, Abel Jarek was defiant and vowed to 'continue to spread the word of God' among the Minmatar.
Troubles in the Republic
Other problems in the Minmatar Republic emerged in late February, with Aidonis Medical - a medical and aid charity run by the Aidonis Foundation - warning that food supplies to the Republic were at risk due to shortages in Verge Vendor region caused by the ongoing Caldari offensive and consequent contraction of shipping volumes. Added to this was increased tension over the issue of land in the Minmatar Republic caused by a rising immigrant population and, in particular, the return of the Nefantar and Starkmanir tribes. With members of both tribes pressing claims to ancestral lands distributed to other parties or held by the Minmatar government in their absence a considerable increase in land disputes was reported by the Minmatar land and estates agency Urban Management.