K3JR-J, Venal - The 20th of November marked the third birthday of notorious pirate corporation, Veto.
Former Federation Citizen #D-03071984/FNA395 turned Gurista loyalist, Ethan Verone shed a little light on the corporation - its past, present and possible future.
"We started out as a ten man corporation founded as an anti-CONCORD Assembly movement. There were tough times at first, as we attacked targets many times our size. When we eventually decided to allow ourselves to grow, the corporation grew almost six times in number in around a month.
"Six of the original ten are still with us, some of whom have taken tours of duty elsewhere before realising where their home is. The majority of the pilots who leave us either retire from capsuleer service or return to the Corporate family, eventually."
References to "home" and "family" might seem strange in a criminal organization, but Veto, says Verone, are a close-knit group:
"Without a doubt [we're very close]... Newer pilots who join tend to either fit in completely or don't last long in the ranks. We pride ourselves on how well we work together. That pride also extends to our planetside and dockside support personnel.
"Some of my closest friends, and of course Kyoko, work for me."
He speaks of Kyoko Sakoda, once Ambassador to the Guristas for Omerta Syndicate, then a leader in the Angel Cartel-loyalist corporation Ghost Festival, and now a pilot of Veto. She was also once a close friend of Verone's ex-wife, Naphtalia. The very mention of Kyoko sets Verone grinning.
"Let's say it's very serious and I'm sincerely hoping we have a long and comfortable future together. To put it simply, we're very much in love."
Veto. is regarded as an exponent of "old-school" piracy, practices of which include predation in asteroid belts and ransoming. He explained how this works:
"Well, it's quite simple. One or more of us will attack a vessel we come across, disable its ability to warp and cripple it with a barrage of heavy fire. From there, the pilot is contacted via FTL comm and offered a price to pay for the release of his vessel, his capsule and those of his crew who weren't killed in the firefight. If the pilot pays, he or she keeps their vessel. If not, we salvage what's left when it's destroyed...
"...and attempt a secondary ransom, should we catch the capsule."
"It can be [difficult to control the situation sufficiently to prevent the destruction of the vessel] at times, especially when we engage smaller classes, such as frigate, cruiser and destroyer hulls. We generally don't have too many issues though, and people seem to pay the toll more often than not.
"It's a lot more profitable when you snare the right type of target and it keeps my pilots active and sharp. Sat stationary at a stargate all day tends to make a pilot become a lot more lazy and complacent. Finding the right targets is key, much as I assume finding the right stargate to blockade is."
After three years of criminal activity on a large scale and the 14 decorations he's earned for acts of piracy, Verone was still not hard-put to choose his favourite moment in Veto's career:
"I'd say the most defining moment in our corporate history for myself, given my history with the Federation was our involvement in the Kassigainen Incident. The destruction of the Federation Navy convoy was a sweet taste, I only wish I could have seen Foiritan's face. We were also quite generously rewarded by our client, which added to the good feeling... I think that shines out as the moment that Veto Corp stepped over the edge and into the unknown; a direct attack on a Sovereign Navy."
Veto. have not been without their tragedies, either. Many will recall the death of Mikato Tarawa, callsigned "DarkElf", at an Impro cloning facility earlier this year.
"The loss of Mikato Tarawa was one of the hardest things I've ever had to bear. He was a good friend, and a close friend to both myself and my Co-CEO, Mitokka Hussmann. He was also a very skilled leader, and one of very few I'd ever have considered to take the reigns of my corporation, should it be needed.
"We remember Mika with pride, always with pride. He was and will remain one of our finest pilots."
Previously holding no loyalties save to each other, Veto has, in the last year, declared a new allegiance to the Guristas Pirates.
"We've finally found a corporate entity that thinks and behaves as we do after years of searching. We're currently operating between Venal, the Federation, and State-claimed space depending on our assignment.
"We're very happy to be working for Mr Kosakami and Mr Laitanen, it seems we've finally found our place."
So where next for the alleged trillionaire crime-lord and his eyepatched brothers-in-arms?
"We'll have to see what Fatal and The Rabbit have in store for us.
"I can guarantee though, that with a roster as dedicated and skilled as ours, we look forward to the next three years as fondly as we look back over the past three.
"We'll still be here, without a doubt."