This entry is has been written from an ‘in character’ perspective.
As I begin to record this, in ten minutes a battle will start over control of CNC-4V, central staging saystem of the Ushra’khan in southern Catch. The station will soon exit its shield reinforcement stage and we shall move to destroy sovereignty blockade units on the local stargates.
Our enemy is Against All Authorities, -A-. It was not long ago that we were allies, and that this was their space. Interesting how that works out. A few weeks ago we were based in Omist, living alongside Imperial 0rder out of their station. Our recent ties to -A- came through them, with us as a token renter, one of the fringe members of their southern coalition.
When Imperial 0rder was abruptly disbanded from within, all hell broke loose. To us our commitment was to IO and our loyalty to them. -A- had become simply a landlord, and a distant one at that. When the DRF coalition came to Catch -A- had withdrawn their assets before fighting even began. As Catch fell they were already relocated to Stain. They gave the order that all allies were to follow them there or face a standings reset.
Well, there is nothing for the Ushra’Khan in Stain. With IO gone and Omist fallen without a shot being fired, it seemed the end of the road had come for our latest venture into null sec. And then, an unexpected offer, from an unexpected source.
A pilot who we had fought against during our recent time in Curse made contact with us. He had since moved across to one of the alliances now snapping up territory in Omist and had been surprised to see the Ushra’Khan there. He immediately began diplomacy for us to retain our fledgling Omist holdings if we moved across to the DRF camp. Suddenly we found ourselves with a dilemma; cut our losses and walk, or agree to switch sides in the conflict.
Ordinarily the answer would have been obvious; we would not have abandoned our hosts and allies. But, our hosts and allies had suddenly ceased to exist. To where then do we place our loyalty? To whom do we owe a debt, and what must we do to satisfy it? The offer was brought to me and I contemplated it. I debated it. In the end I found that I surprised myself.
What loyalty do we owe to -A-? What is our bond? I found myself at the realisation that our only connection left was simple ISK. Their demands that we should follow them to Stain I found… lacking in respect. That is the tone of a master to servant, not of a true ally. And that was not a road I wished to walk, so I chose an alternative.
We were offered holding in Catch a region better situated strategically for our needs, in addition to our holdings in Omist. It is an obvious gamble, the space will be in stronger contention and much of it was unsecured. I see it as an opportunity. Something we can take part in winning for ourselves, somewhere to make our own. And so we come into direct conflict with -A-.
As I have been making this record, we have destroyed two of the three SBU’s in CNC-4V. The third is faltering. -A- have not chosen to give battle tonight, and our own fleet is the largest I have seen us field in some time. With a little support from Jagged Alliance and a visit from White Noise we are re-securing the system. It is encouraging.
My thoughts have settled on the subject of loyalty for another reason though. Recently some of our pilots chose to part ways with the Ushra’Khan to form a new all. And some of my corp mates decided to go with them. That saddened me, but I had known for a long time that we would lose some people. It has been a hard and frustrating year for the Ushra’khan. We have faced conflicting view points on where the future of the alliance lay and that had finally come to a head. Loud, messy and depressingly public, but it has at last resolved. It saddened me to lose some good people, but the disruption is at last settling.
Then a few days ago as I was moving my Vargur Marauder from hitting a starbase back to station, I came across Harri Bar at a stargate. A former corp mate gone with the splinter group. I hailed him, he responded with a greeting. We both paused, I was wary of his intentions given the ambiguous relationship our alliances now held. He locked my ship, and so I responded. Another pause. I suspected that he was a part of a roaming gang, and that I was now in their sights. I calmly relayed the scene to my gang mates. Harri warp scrambled me. I kept on waiting.
Then he fired. What was this now? A game or a real threat? Still I waited. I have known Harri a long time, I knew my Vargur was well able to withstand his Vagabond and I wanted to be sure of his intent. His gang mates jumped in, I moved to action. I returned fire on Harri, my former corp director, and dropped a heavy neutraliser on him. His shields began to collapse under my autocannons as I called in my own fleet. And there I was was for those long few moments, a lone ship under assault by former comrades. It ended as quickly as it started when my alliance mates landed around me and Ineluctable immediately abandoned the field. Harri’s Vagabond escaped the field in low shield, I was left holding around 50%.
And so therein lies my introspection. Loyalty is an elusive and shifting thing. As there once was a day I would have stood shoulder to shoulder with -A- and fought to the last, there so recently a day I would not have imagined Harri launching an attack on my ship like that. So casually can we moved from closest allies to casual foe. If the day comes when those pilots and I fly together again, while I see them as I did? Will that moment on that lonely stargate matter to us?