Reports are coming in from asteroid fields all across Empire-controlled space that GoonSwarm Alliance is conducting a new campaign against Hulks. GoonSwarm’s kill board for this campaign, (titled "Jihadswarm" in their signature style) indicates that some 66 Hulks have been killed along with a few industrial ships so far. Another 100 or so Hulks and Mackinaws have been reported as killed on their main board.
I sat down with GoonSwarm diplomat Vile Rat and Karttoon, the leader of the Jihadswarm faction, to talk to them about this. Karttoon unabashedly confirmed that "yes, we are engaging against any regular miner in Empire controlled space." He claimed that in the first five days of the campaign GoonSwarm had destroyed over 34 billion ISK of assets, and that in all some 250 ships have been destroyed thus far.
Vile Rat emphasized that this was not a campaign against new pod pilots, but against those who by now should be making it in lawless space with all of its dangers.
When asked whether or not GoonSwarm was doing this for personal gain in the Hulk market both denied this was the case. “For far too long,” Vile Rat said, “the weak have lived under the protection of Concord’s protective umbrella and have gotten rich off the backs of the working class.”
When asked if GoonSwarm would be ransoming Hulks during this campaign Karttoon said, "We shall allow penance for the wealth hoarders to remain on our holy land." His comments seemed to suggest that GoonSwarm is claiming all of Empire controlled space as their own, if not materially then in some spiritual manner.
Calimor, a New Eden researcher, points out that GoonSwarm's campaign is affecting the black market where ISK is exchanged for black market currencies. "Although many innocents are being attacked, miners who work for outlaw corporations are feeling a huge hit." Prices on the black market have gone up 50% since GoonSwarm's campaign began.
The Ex-Band of Brothers spymaster Digital Communist, himself no stranger to the dark underbelly of New Eden, had his own theory as to what was driving the GoonSwarm campaign. He also referred to recent actions taken by Triumvirate. who have similarly been making life much harder for Empire-dwellers.
Whatever the underlying reasons may be, it is becoming increasingly clear that CONCORD's influence over the actions of capsuleers within supposedly "lawful" space is once again being challenged. The common perception that CONCORD-enforced space is safer for capsuleers than the frontier regions has long been considered something of a myth.
"There's a cyclical nature to CONCORD's power over the capsuleer class," remarked Amir Kevash, an Associate Professor of the new "Capsuleer Studies" department at Caille State University.
"[Pod pilots] will find a loophole, exploit it for personal gain or indeed, simple amusement. CONCORD will move to plug the gap as always. A few months later, as tactics and technologies evolve, a new workaround will be found and once again CONCORD will be on the back foot. From the Goons and the recent Black Ops jumpdrive fiasco to as far back as the now-infamous smartbombing of Yulai and earlier, there has always been a certain to-and-fro between the two groups."
Kevash remarked that with the recent problems CONCORD was already facing, they were likely already stretched too thin to deal with smaller issues in a timely fashion, leaving empire-bound capsuleers to fend for themselves for the time being, perhaps indefinitely.
"It's getting to the point where it's becoming flagrant. Podders are once again flaunting their disregard for the rule of law. Their methods are becoming as widely-spread in terms of knowledge as they are in terms of a shrugging acceptance amongst the populace. Take that egger vonHolst's recent holovid for example. Not only does it bring the issue to a huge audience, not only does it display the methodology, but it does so with an unmistakable sense of pride. It's yet another bump on CONCORD's increasingly rocky road."
Almost as if to confirm Kevash's statements, Vile Rat ended his comments by addressing empire-dwellers with the remarks: “You are on notice; we are coming for you.” One thing is for sure--miners in Empire controlled space have a new danger to watch out for.