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A War In Space: The Banker Who Gambled Everything And Brought Eve's Greatest Empire To Its Knees

Special report

A brigade of pirates, a gambling kingpin, a temperamental fleet commander and the financier who brought them all together. How one very rich man and his cartel of allies dethroned the most notorious leader in EVE Online [official site] and scattered his once-unstoppable army of 'Goons'.

As a companion piece to this report, you can peruse the cast of characters here. Read it before, read it afterwards or use it as a reference point throughout.

Space is at war. Thousands of people have died, risen, and died again. Thousands of ships have been destroyed in fierce battles, torn apart by lasers, or blown to pieces by missiles from stealth bombers. Pilots, new and old, are rushing to join comrades on the front line, seeking adventure, glory and fame. For one side of this conflict, the war is almost over. For the other, the true war is just beginning. EVE Online is once again exploding.

A sandbox MMO that is familiar even to mainstream media for its headline-generating battles, Eve is undergoing its first great war in years. On one side, a force of players calling themselves the Imperium but often called the 'Goons' because of their roots in the Something Awful forums. On the other side, a band known as Moneybadger Coalition - a conglomerate of mercenaries, militiamen, pirates, corporations and private armies.

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The reasons for this war are many and the grudges held across Eve's 13-year history have played their part. But behind the historical resentment, behind the missiles and the lasers, behind the Goons and the Badgers, lie a handful of men who have done more to fuel this war than anyone else.

The bankers.

Meet Lenny

Lenny Kravitz2, banker and strategist for the Moneybadger coalition

This is Lenny. Full name: Lenny Kravitz2. It's a strange name for an established investment banker and stockbroker. In real life, he is a defence contractor for the US Department of Defense. In Eve, he is a money man. He has been described as "obscenely rich" by some of his fellow players and although he has been trying to keep a low profile in recent weeks, he is now feeling very exposed. He has just been revealed as one of the masterminds of the new war. The 'Goonswarm' will soon be coming for him.

"They can't really hurt me financially," he says. "The worry was they would try to single me out, target me as an individual out-of-game, so we kind of kept everything under wraps."

Lenny has shares and stocks that bring in huge sums of money on a monthly basis. He also gets a wage as a 'banker' for a high-profile casino called - a website where any Eve player can gamble their fictional currency on slot machines and raffles. His 8% shares in this casino alone get him 150-250 billion ISK a month, he says. He lives in 'high-sec' space, where an ultra-powerful computer-controlled police force watches over everything.

"I can't really be harmed in-game," he says.

A fleet en route to a fight

From his home in high-sec, Lenny claims to have  orchestrated one of the grandest and most ambitious moves in the game's history. He has taken on The Mittani, an infamous spymaster and leader of the Imperium, and won. Six months ago if you told an average Eve player that Goonswarm could be defeated, they would have thought you were spewing nonsense. But six months ago Lenny knew something your average player didn't. He knew The Mittani was slipping.

Back in October 2015, a player called Gobbins was leading a fleet of ships to a region of space called Cloud Ring. They were the Pandemic Horde - a group of relatively new players learning how to fight. Behind them every step of the way was a Goon fleet. It was a wild goose chase, one that ended in the Goons waiting 16 hours to capture a single unimportant system. Lenny kept watch from his perch in high-sec and began to think.

The Rifter, one of the Goons' traditional ships

"It was a big old troll," he says. "What that did for me was it identified that Mittens [The Mittani] didn't have the information control that he used to years ago. He could be given misinformation and made to react to various things. Basically, he showed weakness. We didn't expect them to be militarily weak but we expected Mittens not to have a full grasp of what was going on with the game."

He approached a band called Mercenary Coalition and suggested "taking on the Goons". One of their leaders, Sabre A - a man in a leather jacket with a small 100,000 ISK bounty on his head - told him it was "impossible." The Goons had been a force of nature within New Eden for as long as anyone could remember. Lenny rephrased his question for the mercenary. How much would it take to go after the Goons?

Sabre plucked a made-up number out of the air, thinking it didn't matter. Something like six or seven trillion ISK, he said.

"Okay," said Lenny, "I have that."

The kingpin's joke

Eep Eep, owner of the casino

The casino Lenny was working for knew nothing about any of this. The man at its head is called Eep Eep, another "obscenely wealthy" individual. This gambling kingpin, pictured above, had set up his website in 2012 and it has since evolved into a hugely successful enterprise, allowing him to hire several financiers from within New Eden to spread his investments among the interstellar market.

In December 2015, one of his best bankers came to him and to his colleague (a mega-rich Twitch personality named 1RONBANK) and told them that he was planning a war against the biggest Empire in the game. That banker was Lenny. He was going to ask them for a promise.

You see, two years previously another group had the same idea - to take on the Goons. Their name was Pandemic Legion and their campaign ended in disaster, in a battle that is now known as "the Bloodbath of B-R5RB" - a furious fight involving over 7000 players and the destruction of ships worth up to $300,000 in "estimated real-world value".

Huge battles in Eve undergo the "time dilation effect". Time literally slows down during the fight, to 10% of normal time, simply to allow the game servers time to process everything that is happening. This means that battles last hours as gigantic capital ships cycle their weapons and hundreds of hulking spacecraft trundle slowly towards their targets. When the Pandemic Legion lost at the Bloodbath of B-R5RB, they had to watch themselves slowly die for 21 hours.

Lenny asked Eep Eep and 1RONBANK: if the worst came to the worst, and his forces suffered a similar catastrophic defeat, could he rely on them for support? They looked at his plans and said yes.

The money for a long war was therefore secured. But the casino was still not directly involved. Eep and 1RONBANK were only back-up financiers, an insurance policy. They were still busy with their own work - and their own problems.

The Zombie heist

For the kingpin Eep, the problem was a group called Space Monkeys Alliance. One of his bankers had just been ripped off by this group to the tune of 200 billion ISK, via an elaborate scam. Eep approached the the Space Monkeys and asked them to give his employee back his money. They laughed in his face. When he threatened that there would be consequences, they laughed even harder.

"They thought it was a joke," says Lenny.

Widget Zombie, left, and her husband Binary Zombie

The relationship between the casino and the Space Monkeys was about to get even worse. A husband and wife duo that Eep considered friends and partners were part of the Monkey's clan - they were called Binary Zombie and Widget Zombie. This pair weren't just recent acquaintances - they had helped him build his gambling empire. She, Widget, had invested in the casino and now owned shares netting 40 billion ISK a month in dividends. The husband, Binary, had helped Eep set up the server for his website and even did some administrative duties. But the Zombies were loyal to their Monkey overlords and because of the tensions between the two groups they were ordered to betray their old friend.

By the time Eep looked at the machinery of his website and noticed the "irregular activity", it was too late. The Zombies had hacked the casino. He banned Binary from his admin access but a 'back door' had already been installed. Eep found it and bricked it up, but hundreds of billions of ISK had already disappeared, transferred directly to the Zombies' bank accounts, as well as the bank accounts of their fellow Monkeys.

This was a "separate event completely", says Lenny. But it was hugely advantageous to him. Eep was now personally invested in punishing the alliance that had wronged him. He went straight to Lenny.

"He was pretty pissed off about the situation," says Lenny. "He basically told me: 'I know that you're doing something. Can you hire mercs to kill Space Monkey Alliance?"

Lucky for him, Lenny already had someone in mind. He hired a mercenary group for 105 billion ISK a week to harass the Monkeys to death. The first shots of World War Bee were being fired and most of the citizens of EVE did not even know it.

On the next page, an old foe of the Goons rises from the grave

"Isolated incidents"

Pro-Imperium propaganda

While still in the 'planning phase', Lenny was capitalising on even more mistakes the Mittani and his Goons were making. When the Imperium invaded low-sec space (where NPCs own the space but players can 'farm' the moons) many pundits agreed they did so simply out of boredom. But the move infuriated and galvanized the usually splintered groups of pirates in that particular sector. Lenny took notice.

Then the Goons established a "Viceroy" system, demanding tithes and loyalty from their conquered regions, incensing the pirates even further. Lenny reached out to five of these brigand groups with the same bucket of cash he was using to conscript his mercenaries. The space bucaneers, who were already beginning a parley with one another, looked at his money and smiled. Yet more pieces of Lenny's plan were in place. It was time to strike.

"I had smaller groups hit the null-sec regions that bordered Imperium space. I had TISHU and The Culture hit Fade and Cloud Ring - [which is] SMA [Space Monkeys Alliance] space. I had Chaos Theory and OOS hit Venal. So I had four fronts open...

"On top of that, the way that we were proceeding was that this wasn't an invasion, this wasn't a war, these were 'isolated incidents'."

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Pandemic Legion even resurfaced. The group that had been wiped out two years ago in the Bloodbath of B-R5RB was back and itching to bruise their old enemy. And the 110 billion ISK a week Lenny was paying them to take bites out of their old foe was an excellent bonus. He also promised to refund any capital ships lost in their fights. When Lenny is asked how many other player groups he has on contract he starts counting out loud.

"I have one, two, three, four..."

He counts all the way to twenty-eight.

Declining numbers of Space Monkey pilots

The war was now in full swing. The Space Monkeys were reeling. It would not be long before half of its members threw down their arms and deserted. The Monkeys have since left the Goonswarm coalition in disgrace, and a central figure of the feud with Eep's casino - a character named 'Winet'  - has biomassed his character, a process in which a person is irrevocably deleted, effectively committing suicide within the game. The Space Monkeys have also lost a large number of officers, according to Lenny, and all of their territory has been overrun, leaving the remaining members homeless and disoriented. Eep, the gambling kingpin, has fulfilled his threat. It turns out he wasn't joking.

As for the Zombies - I have sent them several mails. I have received no response.

The man who commanded his own birth


The fleet commander is angry. He keeps shouting.


A pilot in the fleet speaks up, suggesting that he leave the stragglers behind.

"NO. I don't want them to win because YOU'RE fucking lazy," he shouts. "They don't deserve it. They don't deserve shit. They don't deserve their space, they don't deserve their fuckin' ships, they don't deserve to live in '0.0', they don't deserve to have a fuckin' alliance."

His name is progodlegend, and he is coming back from a fight. His attitude towards Goons is no secret.

"I don't want them to have a fucking single thing."

progodlegend is a veteran fleet commander, an 'FC', somebody who leads hundreds of pilots at once from warp gate to warp gate, looking for a brawl. His in-game bio includes a quote from a fellow player: "I hear PGL even FC'd his own birth."

He is currently fighting for TEST, an alliance of Reddit users. Like Pandemic Legion, they too have a blemished history with the Goons, after being badly defeated during a conflict called the 'Fountain War'. Finally, it looks like they may have their revenge.

The map of 'Northern' space on March 1st 2016, before the major battles of the conflict began.

"By the time TEST arrived... it only took us two weeks to put Goonswarm into full retreat. I don't think anyone really expected that... Two weeks ago from today we weren't even sure we were going to win. And now it just looks like it's almost over.

"What we've noticed - as we've captured three or four regions in almost two weeks, we've been taking space so fast they don't even have time to evacuate their stuff - a lot of their people who were there when times were easy are not sticking around now that times are hard... It's unlike wars in the past. There hasn't really been much resistance."

The losses suffered by Imperium, including the dissolution of 'Get Off My Lawn' and 'Fidelas Constans', as well as the occupation of 'Space Monkey Alliance' in the middle of Goon space.

The fleet commander talks about the war mostly in surprised tones. That the Goons would allow themselves to be pushed around so much has come as something of a shock to someone who lived through the bombardments of The Mittani's previous campaigns.

"The Goonswarm and CFC [The Imperium] just let events get out of control... Especially because usually Goonswarm can see those things put in motion and they take steps to stop it coming together... This time I think they got so caught up in the backlash to the Kickstarter thing they didn't realise what was being put together until it was way too late."

The "Kickstarter thing" was another misstep by The Mittani. A project in which the Goon leader pitched a novelisation of the 'Fountain War' on Kickstarter, written by a military fiction author. Many players sneered at this. The way they saw it, Mittani was trying to make money off a story they all had a part in. And since he was the one organising it, the story would doubtless be historically biased towards the Goons. In the end, the Kickstarter didn't reach its goal and the debacle became just one more thing that was slowly turning the galaxy against him.

Ships repairing each other after a battle

The fleets of progodlegend have stomped through the "North" of space, capturing systems and doing their part for the Moneybadger Coalition. But, like he says, its various members have had their own disagreements. The pirates of low-sec, the mercenaries - huge forces like this have always erupted in infighting in the past. Isn't he afraid of that?

"Normally we would be. And that's usually been the problem... I mean, The Mittani's right when he says that they can expect their enemies to fall apart. The problem [for him] this time around is that we have literally not taken a single major loss. Literally, we haven't lost a single major fight, not even one, in months...

"It's really hard for there to be drama when all you do is win."

But a war without drama is not an Eve war. This time the drama was all on the Imperium side, as cracks started to appear between the players. And one of the superpower's biggest tribes was about to crack in the most destructive way possible.

Traitors for traitors

A small fleet coming out of warp together

"People don't know a lot about Circle of Two because we usually choose to keep a low profile."

This is the voice of someone within 'Co2' - a higher-up who wishes to remain anonymous. He tells me that one of the group's slogans is: 'We do our propaganda on-grid.' Meaning they spread word of their power on the battlefield, not on forums. For this reason, they usually try to stay out of the media. Today, they are making an exception.

The Circle have been around since 2006, a flock of Serbian players who wandered space together until they woke up one morning and found themselves in bed with the Goons. They have been together ever since, growing stronger and earning respect, even from those outside of the Imperium.

"Within the Imperium we've always been one of the military powerhouses," says the representative. "You can see who's bringing the numbers into battles. We've always been one of the most active military alliances within the coalition. And recently with the anti-goon war we occupy a pivotal region in the North."

When I spoke to Lenny, the banker, about this group he agreed that, militarily, they were the strongest within the Imperium. Politically, however, they were the weakest link. They have always been the angsty son of the Imperium. They had much more loyalty to their brothers and sisters in Bastion and LAWN - two other Imperium groups - than to Mittani himself.

"Contrary to the other alliances in the coalition," says the representative, "we have proved that we could stand on our own two feet."

Anti-Goon propaganda

In the early fires of the war, Moneybadger mercenaries got into a major brawl with one of the Circle's giant capital fleets. But the Circle's Goon reinforcements 'abandoned' them in the middle of the fight, leaving them vulnerable. Three of their Titans - the most fearsome ship in the game - were destroyed. Two weeks later, the same thing happened again - the Goons fled the field during a major battle, leaving the Circle's 300 ships to face 1000 Moneybadger ships. Rather than continue the fight and act as a "meatshield" for their masters, the Co2 commanders ordered everyone to self-destruct. They scuttled their entire fleet.

With this bitter taste left in their mouth, the Circle fought on, only to receive a message from their feudal overlords. The Goons were withdrawing from the Circle's home region altogether, it said, and they were taking Bastion and LAWN with them. The brother and sister the Circle had been protecting, it turned out, were abandoning them too. They had been left exposed on three fronts to all the encroaching armies of the bankers. They were alone. They were furious.

"That was the straw that broke the camel's back."

The Gateway to the North

'Bubbles' surrounding a station - protecting it from interference

The abandonment of Circle of Two left the group "strategically, absolutely fucked" according to Lenny, the banker. He also says it is the worst move the Mittani could have possibly made.

The Circle have their home in a narrow region of space, essentially a buffer zone. Anybody wanting to get to the Goons from the South has to go through the Circle's turf. As Moneybadger ships amassed on the borders of their territory, the Circle's leadership opened communications with their foes. The mercenaries steamrolled into the capital - the system of M-OEE8, colloquially known as the 'Gateway to the North' - and even as the battle began, the leaders talked. Even as frigates popped and lasers burned across the void, they haggled, until an agreement was finally reached: whether the Circle won or lost, they would 'flip'. After this "last hooray", they would abandon the Imperium - the same way they felt they had been abandoned on the front line.

As expected, the Circle were defeated. The Mittani claimed a partial victory because he did not field his supercapital fleet - those expensive Titans - in what he said was obviously a trap for them. That the Goons got so much out of the region before the Moneybadgers arrived was a strategic victory he likened to the "miracle of Dunkirk" - a retreat, yes, but a heroic one.

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But when The Mittani found out that one of the strongest factions in his Empire had flipped on him - posting a list of complaints on Reddit in the process - he branded them traitors immediately and cursed them with an eternal shame during one of his 'State of the Gooniun' speeches. They had betrayed the Goons in their darkest hour and for that, there could be no forgiveness. Leaked chatlogs also revealed that the Circle had been planning this betrayal for a long time, even before the war, and they had been trying to bring their brothers and sisters with them. The seeds of a long hatred between the groups had been sowed. The Mittani has since instructed his Goons to take particular pleasure in hunting and killing their old bedmates.

"We are happy to take the fight," says the man from Circle of Two, laughing. "We are not retarded. We knew that that was coming and we knew that was a golden opportunity for him to spin it in that way.

"You can spin and use words as much as you want... but battles are fought on-grid, in a system. Words will not win you that war. Words will not scare us. That was never the case with Mittens, and it's still not the case."

On the final page, the bankers come under attack


A tiny fleet wandering around

The fleet commander is still looking for a fight.

"We're just cleaning up now," says progodlegend. "I'm serious this won't last much longer. They retreated out of all their 'sovereignty space' and they live in low-security space now. But their original home systems in Deklein were Y-AO and V-FK - and we own both of 'em now."

Deklein is the Goons' ancestral home. And TEST has marched right into it, along with the 27 other mercenary groups paid by the bankers to sack Imperium territory. They've occupied the capital systems there and are working their way into neighbouring regions, chasing fights and getting into skirmishes.

"We're going to have [the rest of] Deklein in two weeks."

Meanwhile, the Mittani has ordered all Goon ships to retreat into low-sec, to the system of Saranen, and adopt guerilla tactics, essentially surrendering his homeland. But progodlegend doesn't think they'll ever be truly destroyed.

"They're definitely not dead," he says. "The alliance 'Goonswarm' is still strong and they still have most of their leadership... The difference in the past is that they've always had more numbers than everyone else. You know, in the Fountain War when they fought back strongly they were able to start outnumbering us."

"This time, they're starting to lose allies quickly because they're losing all their space. This is something I've always wondered... Goonswarm hasn't fought a real defensive war, where their space is under pressure, since 2010. So it's been six years since they've really been truly attacked... They'll fight back and they'll probably make some ground back but I don't think they'll be the same.

"At that point its just going to be: how long are they going to stick around in low-sec and put pressure on us and how long do the Iwantisk [the casino] guys want to pay us to sit on their face, essentially."

He knows these financiers are pumping money into his alliance and, by extension, his own pocket. And he is candid about the deal.

"Yeah, we're still being paid," he says. "Although at this point we've had so much success... that if the money dried up we would still finish the job."

He lists off the bankers behind the war - Lenny, 1RONBANK, Eep Eep. He knows that they manage the casino, that they are absurdly rich, and that they are the financial fuel behind the entire conflict. But he doesn't necessarily know the individuals behind these names - whether they are "alt" accounts of another entity, or whether they have their own agendas in the war.

"All I know is we get a paycheck."


From left to right: progodlegend, Eep Eep, Lenny Kravitz2, The Mittani, Widget Zombie and Binary Zombie

Lenny is still making money. The dividends from the casino are still rolling in, and the cash from his trade deals is keeping him afloat. He is spending a ridiculous amount of money but the war chest has yet to run dry. Meanwhile, the Goon diaspora in low-sec sees itself under constant persecution. According to Moneybadger pilots and propagandists, many Goonswarm-affiliated pilots are unable even to undock from their space stations to go "ratting" - the practice of killing NPC enemies for cash and loot. The moment they leave the station, they are attacked by the pirates and mercenaries who despise them. Making money as an individual Goon is supposedly becoming harder every day. They are becoming refugees in a game that was once theirs to pillage.

The bankers, meanwhile, have not been invulnerable. There have been accusations that players working for have been trading ISK, the in-game currency, for real money. This is something that is forbidden by the developers of the game, CCP. Their terms and conditions state that to play you must agree not to exchange ISK for pounds, dollars, rubles - anything. Doing so is not only a breech of those terms, punishable by a permanent ban, it is also unpopular with many of Eve's pilots.

It's unclear where these accusations of corruption came from (one might guess Goonswarm but there's no proof of this). Wherever they originated, it was enough for CCP to ban 15 bankers from, pending an investigation. Eventually, all but two of these accounts were reinstated after 30 days when they were found to be innocent. The two bankers who are still banned may well have been breaking one of the only laws of New Eden, says Lenny, or they simply might not have submitted a support ticket of "appeal" to the developers.

"We don't know," says Lenny "because we haven't heard from them for a while."

He insists that the practice of "RMT" ("real money trading") is something the casino frowns on.

"A lot of the bankers in Iwantisk don't like that either, because it causes a lot of issues with us."

If the bankers are banned from playing EVE pending an investigation by CCP, he says, they can't work. The casino loses the people who keep the place functioning. If a banker is found doing this within the organisation, he assures me the casino will likely fire that person themselves. "Self-regulation" in action.


A soda advertisement, yesterday

It is the dead of night when I run the blockade to reach Saranen. The Goon "refugee camp" has been set up in a soda warehouse orbiting the moon of a gas giant. Even now, in "ghost time", when the number of players is reaching its daily low, there are still 220 Goons in the system, most of them sitting in the station where I've just docked. Local chat is filled with noise, insults are being hurled, propaganda is being shared. Far from being cowed and frightened, the Goons are in good spirits.

"This is awesome," says Lion Rafale, a rank and file member of the GoonWaffe who agrees to talk to me. "Never had so much fun."

Even though the 'Swarm is on the run?

"Hardly on the run, really," he says.

Lion Rafale, a GoonWaffe member and happy 'refubee'

He says that they are fielding hit-and-run 'swordfleets' - designed to make life as painful as possible for anyone attempting to tame the system. This is all part of the leadership's new "Afgoonistan" strategy, whereby the Imperium hopes to wear down its enemies with constant guerilla harassment. Lion is just fine with that. A week ago it was much hotter, he says, when Moneybadger destroyers were on the prowl. But now, everything is hunky dory.

"Saranen is clear as hell now," he says.

I look at my map. 264 people have been killed in the past 24 hours. It is the second-highest death rate in all of New Eden. Only a flashpoint in the region of Fade is currently more deadly (and only by 20 deaths).

A map showing the danger zones of the space around Saranen

"Sov [sovereign space] is in flux," he says. "But I'm loving dishing out the pain and sadness to the enemy... Loving all this fighting."

I ask about The Mittani. Does this fighter pilot think his Emperor is doing a good job of the war? He nurses the question like a true Goon.

A loyal Goon.

The Mittani unbowed

Somewhere in Saranen, the leader of the Goons is relying on men like Lion. But manpower alone won't save him. In Eve, much of the war is fought on message boards and Reddit, on Twitch and YouTube. Endless propaganda spews forth from either side, bolstering the morale of current troops while also enticing new recruits to the cause, as well as "lapsed" players. The Mittani is one of the game's most notorious spin doctors and intelligence chiefs. He even runs his own media outlet, specialising in news for Eve Online. He has branded this conflict a "hellwar" and scathingly refers to those who oppose his empire as "summer children" - the entitled 'millenials' of New Eden who don't know true hardship and will inevitably be defeated through a war of contrition.

"The betrayals of the Easter weekend changed everything," he says in one of his war addresses. "Hatred has returned, that outrage demands vengeance, and every single entity which has come at us during this affair must now be deliberately and systematically crushed out of existence, even if it takes us years.

"...our enemies include thousands of younger entitled players who feel that Eve is about 'dank frags' and 'good fights', who disdain metagaming and will run to reddit to shriek at the drop of a fedora the moment the going gets tough or you don't play by their rules. The post-BR-5 generation are the summer children who have never seen a bloc war, much less a hellwar; they legitimately believe that our coalition has never fought a defensive war and never in history been outnumbered."

The Mittani, or 'Mittens'

He has a point. The Goons have always prevailed, even when backed into a corner. The Moneybadger Coalition has been itching to fight the super-capital fleets of their enemy, but at every possible encounter The Mittani has denied them that satisfaction. He believes that these gargantuan fleets are the cornerstone of any military power, much more so than "land" which can always be re-taken later. He didn't just witness the loss suffered by Pandemic Legion in the Bloodbath of B-R5RB, he was one of the causes. He knows how crippling it is to lose your best ships, how it can take years to recover. In this way, his "Afgoonistan" strategy makes sense.

But much of the true damage is being covered by spin, and sometimes outright falsehoods. He says that the Goons are gaining tons of new members, flocking to join 'KarmaFleet', their Reddit brigade. In reality, member numbers are more or less the same. Worse still, top-level directors have been outed as spies and a series of chatlog leaks are still ongoing, with his infamous "Black Hand" agents unable either to discover or disarm the sources. All the while, the enemy propaganda machine churns on. Recently, a Moneybadger pilot thought the Goons "could use a care package". He flew into Saranen, the Imperium's new home, in a diplomatic shuttle and got himself blown up. When the Goons picked over the ship's corpse, they discovered a cargo hold full of skill books - 441 copies of "Leadership", 10 copies of "Corporation Management" and 1 copy of "Empire Control".

Yet The Mittani has never been one to bend the knee. He has only done this once, symbolically and jokingly, to the Space Pope. In a colourful address to his people, he stands defiant and pledges not to rest until his 'Swarm is on top of the galaxy once again.

"Hellwar is a path for only the most dedicated and motivated," he says. "We should not look down on those among our allies who are not excited by the prospect of years of struggle, hardship and vengeance; until now the Imperium has only known mere bloc wars - though across the coalition there number thousands of veterans of the last hellwar, which ended seven years ago. We have our own summer children who have never known a world where we did not have absolute military superiority, those raised after B-R5; it is up to us to harden them now, just as the crucible of Syndicate did for us in 2006."

A peaceful system in New Eden

Back in high-security space, Lenny the banker is far from being delighted at the Moneybadgers' ongoing victory. In fact, he is a little disappointed. The goal wasn't simply to "balkanise the north" and destroy the Imperium's super-coalition, he says, but to fuel a war that would last a long time and bring some excitement to New Eden, as well as new players. But the Imperium has already scattered. Their home systems are occupied, their allies are abandoning them in droves.

"Goons just kind of up and died on me," he says.

For now, the front is quiet. It is expected to get even quieter over the next week, as the generals and stockbrokers of Eve Online make pilgrimage to Iceland for the developer's annual "FanFest". There they will drink with one another, play poker and plot against their enemies (not to mention their friends). It will be a welcome hiatus for the fleet commanders and propagandists of the Northern War. Some time to enjoy the peace and quiet.

But one man is not going to FanFest. For him, "quiet" does not mean "over."

"Our enemies have declared that 'there are no goons'," says The Mittani. "Then as now there will be no quarter, no diplomacy, no negotiation...

"They will all burn."

For a list of all the important figures in Eve Online's new conflict check out our "Who's who?"

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