The Venal Alliance immediately demanded a re-vote in light of Taggart’s war declaration against its own allies. It should go without saying that this changed the minds of a number of swing votes. The original vote was 6-5 in favor of Taggart, but the new vote was 9-2 against Taggart (not counting Taggart’s vote.) It was partially meaningless given that Taggart had made no qualms about burning the alliance to the ground. But this was a moment for the other Venal Alliance corporations to reform and to clarify that their dedication was to Venal Alliance, not Taggart. Venal Alliance as it once existed was now dead. The nine remaining members reformed and began calling themselves the New Venal Alliance, shifting their focus to destroying Taggart Transdimensional.
This was more difficult than it sounds, however. Taggart was still staggeringly wealthy and well-equipped. One of the first issues that divided the former Venal Alliance was that Taggart wasn’t showing up for battles. SirMolle himself was upset that Taggart wasn’t hurting enough. The members of the “New Venal Alliance” had just ended a large, highly destructive war against Evolution, and were now expected to fight a war against Taggart, which had barely taken any damage in that war. Taggart was fresh and flush with equipment for fighting a long war.
Taggart Transdimensional was not a fighting corporation, though. Its pilots liked to mine and make money, and they were exceptionally good at it. Taggart preferred to stick to its own niche while fighting its wars through proxies and mercenaries. It had all the resources needed to fight a war without the will necessary to see it through personally.
Taggart got together with the two other former Venal Alliance members who had voted to stand by it (former pirates who had been hired to become a makeshift military,) and the new group began calling itself the Northern Alliance. It attracted one more new member: the well-known pirate group “M3G4.” Taggart was now at the head of an alliance that featured some of the most feared pirate factions in the north of New Eden. It claimed Venal for its own uses and warned all others to evacuate.
However, Taggart had drastically underestimated the disastrous results of spurning its former allies when those allies voted democratically to stand by Taggart. It left an alliance of free spacers in favor of an alliance filled with hated pirates.
Jade Constantine’s propaganda machine used this to her advantage and was effective at painting Taggart in a horrible light. Jade rebranded Taggart Transdimensional as “Taggart Transpiratical.”
Over the next week the New Venal Alliance started receiving care packages from all over New Eden. People were sending ships and money and morale-boosting well wishes inspiring the New Venal Alliance to keep up the fight and wipe out the enemies Jade had painted as hypocritical capitalist snakes.
More foreign volunteers continued to come up North to fight with the New Venal Alliance. Venal Alliance had been through hell for the last two months, but its leaders understood better than anyone in New Eden how to make a war fun. It was managing to win wars while it was actually losing on the battlefield, because it understood that EVE players need to have a goal to stay entertained. The New Venal Alliance gave its members a goal using ideology, and attracted other players from around the New Eden star cluster because it offered these people something to believe in—a real reason to be playing this video game.
This alone would have been bad news for Taggart Transdimensional’s brand new Northern Alliance, but something else happened that Ragnar didn’t expect: Evolution was true to its word.
Evolution held up its end of the cease-fire bargain and stopped fighting the New Venal Alliance. Beyond that, Evolution went so far as to actually aid the New Venal Alliance in its oncoming civil war. Evolution supplied it with ships, minerals, and manpower, essentially making the New Venal Alliance into Evolution’s proxy for destroying its sworn enemies: Taggart Transdimensional and its gang of pirates.
The New Venal Alliance knew, however, that it wasn’t going to beat Taggart through force of arms. Taggart was simply too wealthy and could replace ships too easily. So Venal started training its new allies in unconventional tactics in order to disrupt Taggart’s income. One new corporation called Reikoku stood out from the crowd. Its pilots were new to EVE and Jade Constantine had recruited it as a mercenary unit and schooled its pilots in the dark art of “suicide ganking.”
The basic idea is to equip a cheap ship with 100% of the ship’s energy focused on burst firepower—with no concern for survivability—to almost instantly kill your enemy. This way you can attack them right in front of EVE Online’s NPC police force in high-security Empire space, and still be able to secure the kill. The NPC police will show up and destroy the attacking ship as well, but it’s cheaper, easier to replace, and not filled with valuable mining cargo.
“We basically funded a suicide ganking campaign against Taggart miners in northern Lonetrek,” said Jade Constantine. “Which was the other front of the war. To be quite honest, Reikoku did more to crush Taggart than anybody else because they absolutely loved [suicide attacks.]”
This went on for two weeks. The New Venal Alliance fought a series of battles for Venal itself while Reikoku hammered the Taggart supply lines and trade routes throughout Lonetrek to the south. Only fifteen days after this fighting officially began, a delegate from Taggart appeared in the EVE Online forums.
“Earlier today Ragnar Danneskjold officially stepped down as President and CEO of Taggart Transdimensional and declared his retirement from EVE. […] We wish to put the controversy of recent times behind us, and as such are wiping the slate clean. Our kill-on-sight list is empty, and we are declaring a unilateral ceasefire effective immediately. All bounties have been revoked, and all existing alliances have been dissolved. In particular, while Taggart Trandimensional has never condoned piracy, we have in the past been members of alliances which have included pirate corporations. This is no longer the case, nor will it ever be in the future. We look forward to reaffirming our diplomatic and trade relations with all other corporations and alliances, and working towards a secure and prosperous future for all. — GunnyP, new CEO of Taggart Transdimensional October 2, 2003
The day before, Ragnar had undocked his famously rare and expensive Navy Issue Apocalypse-class battleship and made a proclamation in front of his people.
“I’m going away planetside for a time,” he is said to have written (some speculate that he was going on vacation.) “Fight hard. Fight to the last. Never surrender.”
And then he logged off and was never seen in New Eden again.
Though Taggart tried as hard as possible to hide it, this was a surrender. Taggart’s figurehead leader, Ragnar, had left the game suddenly and without explanation, and leadership fell to people who no longer believed in this war. They wanted to go back to building wealth, not squandering it on a pointless war. Taggart Transdimensional evacuated the north and tried to get back to the peace that used to be considered normal.
Almost every other corporation involved in the fighting agreed to the ceasefire eagerly. SirMolle was still skeptical, and didn’t seem happy to stop killing Taggart ships, but he went along with it.
Taggart had been wounded badly through all of this. Its membership had dropped catastrophically, and it had grown to depend more and more on mercenaries. Then a player named Anla Shok broke its back.
A former director in Taggart Transdimensional, Anla Shok, recognized the corporation’s weakness for the opportunity it was and executed the largest corporate theft in the first year of EVE. The still vast coffers of Taggart Transdimensional (filled to the brim when the ultra-wealthy Ragnar left his fortune) were looted. In total, 1.2 billion ISK was stolen from the shared corporate account all of the directors used to pool their funds—an incredible amount of money for the era that would have paid for hundreds if not thousands of ships.
Anla Shok then took the ill-gotten gains and joined Evolution.
Ragnar’s fortune would become the seed money SirMolle needed to embark on a mission to fulfill his destiny and conquer all of New Eden.
Empires of EVE: A History of the Great Wars of EVE Online is available in Kindle, audiobook, hardcover (currently sold out) and softcover versions. The Kickstarter for Volume II ends Thursday, May 10th.
Images: Razorien (Eve photography), Andrew Groen (Avatar portraits), CCP Games (Eve Online).