[SoERR] Reports from On the Way Home evacuation base

The purpose of this document

The purpose of this document is to give an overview to the capsuleer community about what things look like in one of the many volunteer refugee bases in the cluster. International communications and official news seem to have broken down, and in the confusion it is difficult to gain information. While what I have is only a very tiny piece of the puzzle, it seems that tiny pieces is now all we have, so I will attempt to share mine.

Before I begin, I will apologize that the information here is so poor, hastily put together, narrow and at places not much better than rumors.

And again I extend my thanks to all who have flown with us these past months. Fate walk with you all.

Do you remember that evening’s shade?
Your skin so pale, were you afraid?
We spoke no more, we did not fight.
You were gone with the dying light.
(“Before the Tears fell”, trad, Sb.)

Situation overview

SoERR base Invaders Must Die continues to be deployed in Skarkon. Beacons and gathering bases on orbit have been deployed but keep on being shot down. The refugee base On the Way Home is stationed in Gelfiven and services mainly Skarkon evacuees.

Incoming evacuation traffic has slowed down and is now mostly civilian, with military and capsuleer efforts concentrated in keeping dropship landing zones, stations, gates and orbits clear. We are receiving occasional refugee boats from elsewhere both to to Gelfiven and directly to Pator. Base runs at full capacity with minimal facilities provided.

Reports from ground and from operations in the region are difficult to piece together to form a coherent picture. Lack of information is a major hurdle.

Base situation

For the first time in its existence, I am sorry to report On the Way Home at max capacity and struggling. We are processing people in and out as fast as possible and still can provide only very basic accommodations to all in our care.

It helps that here, unlike our typical situation, a lot of the people do have a place to go, some kin off the taken system or at least tribal charity if nothing else, so we are not starting most of them from zero. Yet, there are a lot of unregistered people and people in local registries now destroyed, without a claim to their name, and we are currently processing out slower than in.

Materials-wise, we are well off enough. We have enough frozen food and clean water to last us for a year or more of this. Hab units are the scarcest resource but dockside has been kind enough to lend a hand with settling people in.

(Please do not offer help if you do not have a concrete offer as to how. As is typical in a crisis, we are also out of capacity to co-ordinate such and to teach new people on the fly. If you can donate, we take supplies - food, water, textiles, smartfab units, antibiotics, and for once we are not out of Vitoc, at least - but the best help now would be as many parallel small refugee camps as possible.)

Reports from Skarkon

Reports from the system itself are conflicted. We can confirm with certainty that the SoERR station itself has been left alone and since the main capsuleer evac operation it has not even had a werpost on it. The Parliament station and gates are heavily guarded by werposts, with new ones going up as old ones are destroyed, hampering movement in an out considerably.

Triglavian vessels in space seem to care little about what a vessel is before deciding on whether to shoot it. Unarmed transport traffic by neutral parties gets shot with as great a likelihood as a combat contingent, which makes heavier ship movement difficult without heavy escort and limits evacuation capacity.

Reports from individual ground bases on inhabited planets are conflicting. Small mining colonies on asteroids and moons have mostly been evacuated successfully and without incident. That said, we also have reports of destroyed ones, without evidence of the culprit.

Planet II orbit is mostly clear of hostile vessels, but any beacons set up on orbit are destroyed. We do not have current coverage enough to confirm by who exactly, but whoever it is, the destruction of orbital infrastructure impedes heavily with clear contact with ground and means that my operations have a very sporadic picture of what goes on on the ground as whole.

What I can tell you is that most lift-off points of our own and, based on comms chatter, those of others, have been left alone both by all forces currently on ground. There has been a lot of posturing and relationships are certainly tense, but when push comes to shove, the respect for tribal civilian life more often that not prevails.

Nevertheless, two situations are particularly worrying.

Firstly, reports of Triglavian forces overtaking civilian settlements have come in on multiple occasions. Based on pieced together reports, it seems that there are locations where Triglavian entities take to ground to set up their own structures and operations. In those areas they do not hesitate to destroy whatever comes into their way if it does not move out from under them fast enough, and do it with wanton, careless show of overwhelming force. Where mostly unaugmented human forces have been reported as attempting to delay this, they have been promptly destroyed. (We are not in contact with any of the warclone communities as is.)

Lift-off points in direct contact with us, however, have seen only sparse assumed hostile movement. One of these incidents involves a ground convoy of civilian refugee traffic’s path cut by (assumed) triglavian forces. Instead of following the lift-off officer’s instructions to not attempt to reach the lift-off but to swerve southwards and attempt to clear the triglavian movement, the civilian convoy decided to make a dash towards the base. Unfortunately, no one survived the contact. The triglavian forces stopped short of the lift-off itself and seemed to lose interest, but to be prudent this point was abandoned soon after.

Second, while the majority of evacuation operations seem to proceed without various agents bothering each other beyond harsh words and inane threats, there are still reports of heavy human-to-human conflicts outside of these operations. Another drop-off/pick-up location we were in contact with reported being threatened and either control of the point or supplies demanded by two separate forces, one claiming to represent the Krusual tribe and another claiming to be backed up warclones. How much these claimed affiliations by militia without insignia carries weight I have no idea, but at least it speaks of a belief by the locals that said groups are influential and would believably do these things. (My compliments to ground commander Aubaris & crew for handling this situation without casualties.)

Main challenges

At the moment, the main problem we face is that solar systems are, to use a technical term, big, and even on a relatively “small” population planet such as Skarkon II, there is a lot of people, they are under not normal circumstances standing in an orderly line at a dropship pickup point, and once they are off the planet they still need to be housed, fed, comforted and settled.

The operation is huge. I’ve done refugee work for two decades, and I have never seen anything like this. And yet, to think, the Republic got off easy, compared, and we are used to this kind of work, too. It must be worse in other places.

Official word on situation on ground, the triglavians, and what to expect in the “liminalities”, is sparse enough to be in practice non-existent. I do not know what would be the worst explanation: that communications between communities are so broken down not just us but everyone has lost ability to piece it together, that there is no one left that could communicate clearly, or that there is information but it is not being shared.

Lack of information and outright misinformation in general is a major hurdle. It leads to rumor mills, completely wrong tactical decisions, unnecessary delays, inter-tribal tensions that has lead to shots fired, and in general makes co-operation between the various organizations working in the region very hard. I cannot hold with any of the “information quarantines” imposed and I certainly do not hold with how the political atmosphere was still being stirred up and threats made against other operators when the system had already been fallen and the question who owns it exactly should have been a moot point long ago.

Capsuleer TL;DR

Stuff’s ■■■■■■. Planets are big. Some official information would be nice.

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With a bit of TLC and some lowered standards, one can make a passable barracks or even apartments from some cargo containers. Although the gentlemen I host are prior military/paramilitary, which may have something to do with it.

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Thank you Rhiannon-haani for this informational update. Torchwood will release one of our own very soon.

But in advance of that, if it helps, I would like to note that any Amarrian or Caldari personnel can be transferred to a Torchwood office or installation for processing back to their individual empires.

For the record, we are processing all refugees as well, however our assets are limited to Amarr and Caldari space at present, with only satellite offices in the Federation and no presence in the Republic. As such, we are not the best option for Gallente or Matari seeking to get home. But our extremely close ties with the State and Empire allow us to serve them better.

I also would like to say how much of an honor it’s been serving with you. You are a shinning example of the best humanity has to offer.

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If there are any refugees needing to cross Empire lines, I can assist. I’m based out of an Orca and I’m able and willing to cross any Imperial borders, having maintained neutrality with all four Empires.

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Update from medical

(Medical wishes to apologize for the delay in their reporting and regrets that their viewpoint was not included in the first report, which is now corrected.)

According to records of the medical staff of the base, as the number of evacuees coming our way is getting lower, so is their condition getting more severe. In the beginning, almost everyone evacuated was in fine health apart from pre-existing conditions that might have been exacerbated by limited access to shelter and care. Since then, we have seen increasing amounts of evacuees in need of medical care.

As conditions worsen on the affected planets, effects of exposure, hypothermia, and plain of lack of food and water are apparent in many cases. Increasing numbers of burns, shot wounds and blunt trauma have been treated in the center.

There are also many patients with biological and chemical effects by unknown agents leading to needs of quarantines and observation in already crowded environments. While most of these cases are delegated to specialized care and quarantine, some mild effects of such agents have trickled to pretty much all centers. Chemical burns, obscure microbial growths, localized but progressing blood vessel anomalies, and changes in lung metabolism and oxygen uptake have been observed.

Eye-witness reports speak of local flora withering in the dimming light as expected, but also of heavy environmental effects where triglavians advance, effecting local scenery and wildlife - and also people - but these reports I can of course not personally confirm. I offer the eye-witness story below as representative of the stories we hear from personnel on ground.

"It is eerie; how the triglavian influence advances like a wave. If you look at it from the distance, it’s like a stormfront, where human lights go out, then there is a period of darkness, and then triglavian lights go up. Sometimes there is fighting where this happens, but often also not, it’s just… there, and then, it’s… over. People rarely come from those zones anymore. They did in the beginning, running for their lives, but they don’t anymore. And when they do, they are… sometimes changed. You can see it in their eyes, on their skin… they are changing.

And no matter what triglover reports say, sometimes they die of it. We had a group arrive, changed… You must understand, we cannot take groups like that on the regular transports, we do not have the quarantine measures, so they have to wait for someone who has, and they have to wait away from the main groups. So they waited. We kept watch, but only as much as to stop them from approaching the drop base, we had no reason to control them otherwise, free civilians. In the next morning, most of them were gone. And those who were left were dead, twisted like, maybe they had seizures or something? Some had bled a little from those weird veins on their faces, but there was no fight, no gunshots, nothing. The Fleet took charge of the site soon after."

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Well that’s disturbing. Very disturbing indeed.

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Update

During the past 24h, evacuee traffic from inside the Republic to our base has slowed down to an almost non-existent trickle.

P5 and spaceside in Skarkon as well as most of Krirald are reported clear by both eyewitnesses and official channels.

P2 is apparently completely overrun. Most dropdown/pickup sites have evacuated or been destroyed. We’ve heard of Seykal, Krullefor, Cartel, indie capsuleer and Fleet sites abandoned. Rumor mill says AEGIS and Fleet Marines are still on ground in force and fighting, but I am personally convinced rumor mill would say that even if the planet itself was shattered to pieces and scattered off orbit.

Lots of frostbites, burns, and other damage on the last batches of refugees. Looked otherwise for a while, but medical got to earn their pay, too.

Come darkness!
I am the candle in the hand of Fate

Come war!
I am the weapon in the hand of Fate

Come death!
I am a child, holding the hand of Fate.

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It is with growing unease that I report we have lost contact to Ground Commander Jaqel Aubaris and company on Skarkon II last night at 21:49 while the evac unit was on its way to meet with the closest units of the Skarkon Tribal Resistance Army, under conditions that do not give reason to assume anything good of their current situation.

For any concerned parties, I am taking the liberty to use Commander Aubaris’s pre-authorization for such situations, and make it known he is a capsuleer clone and maintains regular backups. Current situation does not yet meet the legal conditions for declaring death and firing a backup.

I do not have such information authorizations for the rest of the company. Kin has been notified where appropriate.

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day
World’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away
Change and decay in all around I see
Oh Fate who changest not; abide with me

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Captain Rhiannon, if its at all within the realm of possibility, I would like to extend one of my Clone Pilot squadrons and an M-class heavy transport still on Skarkon II for S&R operations to, hopefully, retrieve this evacuation unit that has gone silent, and deliver them either to a safely designated location of your choice, or bring them to their original destination.

I know that things are considerably tense at the given moment, so leave this choice to you, instead of making a snap decision.

I would be grateful of the assistance.

A lone, weak signal eminates from the planet. A short data burst; two minutes later another. Then seventeen minutes later the same data is sent; it is clear the intervals are near random. From witnesses in orbit, there are pockets of fighting that are scattered through an urban center where the last transport lifted off from several days ago. The flickers of light seen from orbit tell of munitions detonated with a strange spectral pattern to them. The witnesses and geosync sats are just watching as the last remnants of the resistance are eradicated by war clones. Another flash, the pattern starts to emerge; the resistance knows what they are doing. They are funneling debris into barriers for the incomming war clones. The signal happens again; short burst, small amount of data. Processing the data burst reveals old FIO encryption keys and a repeating string between the encryption data sets,

---ACR--- ---EM--- ---EVAC---

Jaqel packs another bundle onto a support column. “You sure this one is right?” he yells over his shoulder to another who is doing something similar to another column.

“Yeah, these will drop the building. But we have to be sure to be clear of the dust field. The crete in this is mixed with some nasty stuff when airborne. You good, Commander?” The young lady stands and looks at Jaqel as he stands. His old style armor shifting oddly as it has seen its share of duty the past couple weeks.

“Yeah, head further in. I need to send this transmission again; hope they can make it down to us.” He fiddles with a small transmitter that has seen better days, not to mention several modifications to the chasis that resemble some contraption prop from a holovid. The lights on it change from green to blue to yellow and back after a few seconds. “Let’s move, can’t let the Kybs find us.” He looks up as she nods and they make their way out of the back of the building; several minutes later the charges go off. The building lists to the side and crumples into a several meter high pile of rubble that will slow the war clones down.

“I hope that signal makes it out. I would hate for you to die down here, Shekel,” Jaqel says as they look at a map of the city and pick the next point to bring down. The idle rifle fire in the distance tells them they only have a little while before the war clones get to where they are now.

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Sounds like the Triglavians are trying to breed with humans to create a Triglavian / Human hybrid that can then infiltrate secure areas within the Four Houses to slowly bring each house down.

Personal update

Wormhole entry situation seems to be stabilizing and the base in Gelfiven again sees the occasional group of refugees, despite all odds. All in bad shape and with tales of terror. The planet is dying.

Contact with ground is a mess. Sporadic transmissions with tales of horror, flashes of hope that only serve to make the crushing of them that follow harder. The low orbit is a freaking warzone. Svarog are the Enemy from the darkest tales of horror our people tell.

The Skarkon station stands, against all odds - but how long, I cannot say. The buy offer mess has generated quite a lot of interest. All of my options are distasteful now, picking between fast or slow death, less or more concessions, and I hate it.

Makes one wish one was on ground with General Efrit of all people, some days. May he find his Fate and fulfill it. It is an honor to die a fiery death, and it is the only honor left in Skarkon.

When all other ways close, the Way of the Knife opens

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When all other ways close, punch a hole in the wall. On that note, I’m working an angle.

Update from Skarkon

The slow death is even slower than anticipated. The station is there, as is the occasional trickle of evacuees. Numbers are low and not anywhere close to overwhelming the combined capacity of all sorts of capsuleer volunteers. I expect some move also through the freeport Fortizar and other structures in system, but I do not like to go there, and they do not like me there, either.

Not that I like going to Skarkon, at all. I drop in, because I need to, but I rarely stay, preferring to get out again before I sleep. Sarinde has the station and he’s handling it well enough.

The few people coming from the planet are in bad shape, half-dead more from exposure and hunger than from warfare or nanotech now. I suppose that’s partly because the only places where anyone can lift off from are the remote rural places far away from the monsters and the guns. They tell tales of horror, of clouds of nanotech roaming the planet, of dark crystals swallowing cities, of snow falling knee deep where snow has never fallen before, not soft but with sharp edges to its flakes.

A friendly fly-over has confirmed that at least not all of our evac personnel were dead immediately on loss of contact. There’s been signals and there’s tracks. The area is a broken mess inside an ice-devil hell though, and landings have not been possible. I suppose hope is good but it also means no legal backups at this point.

So many inquiries from people on how they can help. I don’t know how they can help. We have enough donations of standard supplies now to run On The Way Home at capacity for almost a year, and so many offers of longer-term housing, and niches that need to be filled. Transport capacity is fine, and there’d be tribal units still with enough dropships if there was somewhere worth landing they could safely land.

It should be spirit-lifting how people come together to help the refugees. It is not. The planet is still dying.

There is also traffic in to the system, now, what with the filaments flooding the markets, and the wormholes patterns well-known, and them kept open for Edencom by us and others. Volunteers for the resistance army have started to appear at my docks. Volunteers for the resistance army! Ragtag bands of youth in their diversion years, imagining some lost tale of heroism, calling themselves fancy Circle names, like the Storm Daggers, or Burning Ice, or Efrit’s Eagles. (Bet he has never heard of them.)

Dropships sometimes appear and then the youth are gone. I ask no questions. What’s it to me? I am a civilian and this is semi-freeport. Anyone can come and go as long as they are not hostile to the tribes.

Too little, too late.

If you want to bring something, bring fuel. The station still needs to burn it.

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Changes in the Skarkon base office usage

We have had some new visitors in Skarkon lately, and dockside decks B-2 to F-5 are now under the jurisdiction of Republic Command and used by their local operatives, and off limits to regular capsuleer and civilian traffic.

The local partner goes by the (decidedly uncool but certainly professional) name of 2nd Besateoden Combat Engineers. They are multitribal; predominantly Seb, with Brutor and Thukker well represented too. They are reasonably polite, quite isolationist, barely articulate in Standard Matari, and utterly uninformative; like trying to chat up a wall. So, while I’d love to share more details, details are need to know, and I do not need to know. Station Manager Sarinde has checked credentials and he actually does have the knowhow to make sure they do check, so that’s that. Happy to be able to help.

Upside is someone who at least looks like they know what the hell they are doing now rounds up all the kids from Circles With Cool Names, which should secure them gear and instruction that might actually if not keep them alive at least make them useful before they die.

We have had to make a slight change to office rents to cover for the space, but other than that I have been assured none of this should affect other patrons of the station in any way. I apologize for any inconvenience.

As another matter, I must ask baseliners to stop attempting tourist trips to Pochven. It is not safe. Capsuleers offering this service should be ashamed of themselves, and for the love of gods stick to Krai Veles if you must.

News from the surface

We have had very short intermittent spots of contact with our own lost ground crew. They are moving towards a potential lift-off site but the trek will be hard. Casualties are unknown. Svarog seems to have been opposed to evacuation attempts from the beginning and they are not getting any more gentle as is. Not only do they seem to be bioforming (trigforming?) the planet on a fast schedule and could care less for who is on the way, but they actually actively engage with transports and nothing can convince them otherwise. I’m told a support drop will be attempted only if absolutely necessary, as there’s fears it will simply attract attention and make things worse.

Refugee camp update

Situation at On the Way Home in Gelfiven is stabilizing; with the Parliament working for land assignment for those who do not have kin in other systems that can take them in and with capsuleer efforts such as The New Eden Re-Housing Initiative (NERI) helping, the majority of people have somewhere to move on.

While the triglavian situation has been a crisis, the world has sadly not stopped to simply watch. The warzone is still there, the Empire is still there. We left some of our housing units and staff in Amo on the dockside camp, but they are struggling without the main freighter and especially without the most experienced personnel.

The Amo base has the Vitoc clinic, but they have had to refer a couple of simple infection and trauma cases elsewhere already with most of the capable medical hands with us in MH. It’s not like we don’t have the kudos to do that, but wasting favor on something we could do ourselves feels, well, wasteful. Even more annoying, psychological work has fallen in large part into the hands of various spiritual groups, a situation that I am not entirely happy with. Empire refugees do not generally have enough information to judge belief systems for themselves and are easily lead, and mislead, even by well-meaning people.

For these reasons, it is likely we will move the main base back to Amo, or elsewhere where support for Empire / war refugees is easier, soon.


(Modular hab units at On the way home)

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Warzone heating up

Seems the warzone tide is indeed turning, and that usually means an influx of refugees. The base is now really prepping for a move back to Amo. I cannot help we did not do enough, but we did what we could, and that’s that. Plan is medical will get some of their people most involved in the more weird incidents to Skarkon, but the rest of the base will be back at regular support for people fleeing our original invaders soon.

I dare say they have missed it. Everyone’s done good work and put in good hours and no one is complaining, but it is obvious dealing with internal displacement is new for this camp and everyone’s uncomfortable.

The sign wall tells all new stories now.

Skarkon update

Stormwind PMC has shown up. They intend to go on a search of our missing people, and have miraculously managed to actually talk to the 2nd Besateoden and have some kind of plans for a joint drop (or something, I still don’t need to know too much). I am happy with the sentiment and I do wish them luck, but to be quite honest do not think much of the plan, and I do not think much of the risks involved.

But there’s no reasoning with the Brutor, and that’s that.


(If you want to stop a Brutor warlord with a plan, bring a tank)

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Update from the base

The main base is moving to Amo today, after delays cased by a hisec war on some of our operatives and alternatives being still somewhat tied up in Skarkon. There are news and rumors about Sarum mobilizing again - seriously, the guy’s on level of the Efrits on not knowing when to give up, is he not? - and we need to be ready.

Thanks to donations we are well-stocked and fully operational. Flights to our Secret Starway collection points that have been delayed in the past months should resume before Year’s End. Thank you for your patience and collaboration in these trying times (you know who you are).

Update from Skarkon

As a cultural awareness pro-tip for anyone entering the station or human positions on ground: covering your face with equipment, except when the conditions absolutely demand it for survival, is now considered even more rude and suspicious than usual. Humans have faces and names and show them; to hide behind cover is what the Enemy does. Apparently. With how on the edge people are, just a question of time before someone gets shot as a collaborator for wearing a breather too long after exiting a pod or a fighter.

After an initial period of out of contact, Stormwind PMC has sent a private encrypted. They have made contact with parts of the missing medical expedition after a trek inland. There was heavy fighting with Svarog on the way, but after some aerial support from other forces in the area (I’ll leave it for them to name themselves or not), not only is most of team alive, but they have managed to send up some technical reports on the conditions on the planet based their experiences. The stranded group is medical / evac, so not strictly speaking scientists, and the conditions are hard, but many of them have the training, and maybe it will be some use. These reports have been forwarded to the relevant national academic institutions.

Stormwind and Aubaris’s team have managed to reconnect with the STRA. Unfortunately the area where 2nd Besateoden and as extension now Stormwinds are doing whatever super-secret stuff it is they are doing is deep into enemy territory. Communications are limited due to security concerns, and lift-off has turned out to be trickier even than we expected. This bothers the PMC not, as they’d rather stay with Efrit anyway, but it makes getting the originally stranded and now wounded and weakened team out a damned mess. We are exploring various options; at the moment capsuleer intervention and a POCO lift-off seems the likeliest route.

What forces on ground can hope to achieve when the sun itself is lost and Triglavian plagues sweep the planetary surface, I have no idea, but the Tribal Council has spoken and that’s that. Maybe making Svarog pay for each step they take there is something.

To those concerned, unfortunately we still have no confirmation on the whereabouts or status of Commander Jaqel Aubaris. Legal proceedings for backup recloning have been fired but as the requirements there are somewhat strict on confirmed death of the original, it might take some time. Meanwhile, search continues as much as possible in the conditions the troops face.

May ancestors smile when they see the tribesmen and -women on ground. Come War, I am a weapon in the hand of Fate.


Images from a report on mutaplasmid “snow” on former desert steppes on Skarkon II.
((OOC: Images: an Earth phenomenon called “watermelon snow”, viral images, tried & failed to find original credit.))

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On the way Home, in RJD colors, moves home to Amo through a metaliminal storm.

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