About the only thing rarer in New Eden than a freeport Keepstar is a diplomatic solution.
After a tense two days following the reinforcement of the Aunenen Keepstar, Matterall announced on Tuesday – just hours before the timer would have left the Keepstar vulnerable to a second attack – that a deal had been struck between him, Fafer of Ghost Legion, and the Imperium’s leadership that would save both Keepstars.
The deal, which was confirmed by The Mittani, leader of the Imperium, would see both the Aunenen and Malia Keepstars removed from those systems and moved to new locations which have yet to be determined. The movement of these Keepstars, which will require the destruction of citadel rigs worth billions, was deemed sufficient by the Imperium to save the Keeps, despite their history. The ownership of the Keepstar, in the meantime, was transferred from Ghost Legion to “Talking in Stations Corporation” as Matterall announced early Monday.
“The reality was that the guy that financed his so-called ‘WWB’ also put these down as trade hubs. They were going to die, but we worked out a death-by-name destruction deal that at least saves two keepstars for future City-State locations (with some security assurances). That’s a two Keepstar win, rig loss,” Matterall said. “They get what they came for, we live to anchor another day.”
The Imperium has made clear through all of its media outlets that it will not rest until all those who were a part of the Casino War have been punished. As The Mittani confirmed, “…everything touched by those involved in the Casino War deserves to burn or otherwise be stomped on as publicly as possible.” He went on to say “[w]e intend to destroy every part of the New Eden Trading Company/PL network. If the keeps are moved from that system, they are no longer part of the network.”
While this outcome has satisfied both Matterall and the Imperium leadership, it left a sour taste in the mouth of some others.
Lady Scarlet, of Northern Coalition, was skeptical of the deal. “Let me guess,” she said in a statement on the Talking in Stations Discord, “it’s only safe if you put them where the puppet master tells ya? Have fun replacing the rigs, hopefully Goons pay for them. [I] still think he should self-destruct it and give the middle finger.”
Sort Dragon, Dead Coalition leader, pushed back on this attitude, saying, “I mean that’s only fair. The north wasn’t going to defend it. So to the victor goes the spoils.”
While the deal ensures the Keepstar moves and is no longer in a position to serve as part of PanFam’s infrastructure, no decisions have yet been made on a new home for either structure. Matterall noted that he wanted to move his Keepstar more than five light years from nullsec to prevent potential future attacks. He also confirmed that, once moved, the Aunenen Keepstar will become a true “freeport” and that Goonswarm and Snuffed Out will be allowed to dock and use the facilities.
“[This deal was] really hard to negotiate. I’m impressed,” said Carneros of the Bastion.
The deal comes on the heels of two days worth of furious negotiation between Matterall, Fafer and the Imperium leadership. While originally indicating a willingness to form to defend the Keepstar shortly after it was reinforced late Sunday night, Northern Coalition leadership appeared to reverse itself the next day, with Lady Scarlet saying “…we are going to sit back and watch, then laugh how Goons again prove they shit on [their] own.” Without a major coalition to mount a defense, it was clear that the only solution that would keep the Keepstar from being destroyed would rely on Matterall’s ability to talk.
That ability, obviously, is significant, because the deal was struck and the Keepstar has already begun the unanchoring process.
While the immediate threat has been resolved, the fate of the Aunenen and Malia Keepstars remain hanging in the balance. The unanchoring of a Keepstar, especially ones that have received as much attention as these have, will become prime targets for pirates – once the Keepstar has unanchored, any player with a freighter capable of hauling the 800,000 meters cubed packaged Keepstar will be able to scoop it and run off. While this requires hard work and impeccable timing, it has happened in New Eden on more than one occasion, including a year ago, when Mercenary Coalition’s Syndicate based Keepstar was unanchored by accident (after a half dozen or more ‘faux’ unanchoring attempts) and scooped before eventually being destroyed by the Initiative. Ensuring that the Keepstar remains in the hands of its owners will require considerable effort.
As this story ends not with a bang, but a whimper, it is important to note just how unlikely the result was. Diplomatic solutions are a rarity in New Eden, given humanity’s propensity towards violence, especially when it comes to high-value assets. The fact that Matterall was able to come up with an acceptable solution and convince both Fafer and the Imperium leadership that he was both willing and able to hold up his side of the bargain was not a likely outcome when this crisis first began.
One thing is certain – the dream of freeport Keepstars remains alive … at least for now.