The primary space station in PR-8CA has become a beacon of hope for the masses of low-skilled, unemployed workers around the Delve sector. Most have come with hopes of long-term careers in the shipyards, where construction of vast numbers of starships has created demand for cheap, expendable laborers. However, many of them will be lured into the ranks of crew members aboard Goonswarm naval vessels, the promise of good pay and a chance to travel among the stars too good to pass up. The average civilian in New Eden will rarely travel outside his or her home system, let alone outside of their sector.
We spoke with Conrad, an energetic young man who had this to say about the Goon Navy:
“The insurance policy is really good; I can rest assured that my family will be taken care of if the worst should happen.” His smile grew wider as he gestured to a pamphlet clutched in his other hand. “But the recruiter says I’m far more likely to get the bonus pay for being a crew member on a ship that gets at least 5 kills.” Conrad seemed confident that the Goon Navy had long term promise as he gazed longingly out the view port at the sleek starships gliding away from the station’s docking bay. “I might get a chance to serve aboard a Jackdaw-class Destroyer,” he confided. “Supposedly, they have an unparalleled combat record. Never been lost with all hands, the recruiter said. Always gives as good as they get.”
We decided it was for the best to not correct the eager young man, as Goon security officers were beginning to eye us meaningfully. Moving further into the vast meeting room, we found another group of potential recruits chatting animatedly amongst themselves. “I’ve been put on the short list to be a gunner aboard a Maelstrom-class Battleship,” a young man named Donovan exclaimed. “I’ll be firing shells the size of the shuttle we flew up here on!” “Pssshh, whatever,” his friend Tomlason scoffed. “The recruiter told me I’m a prime candidate to serve on the new supercarrier that’s leaving dry-dock in a week! It’s fighters would rip apart your battleship without even trying.”
The debate raged on as our reporting crew pushed further into the throngs of hopeful young and middle-aged civilians, clamoring for a place to serve aboard the mighty warships of the Goon fleet. We stopped for a few minutes to listen to a recruiter giving a speech from his booth. “Men and women are given equal opportunities aboard all vessels in our proud Coalition,” the man promised with a voice both proud and regal. “Right now, you have the potential to make your fortune aboard a fast light frigate, and return home in less than a month!” The crowd gave a cheer at the news of such a possibility. “Each crew member gets a share of bounties earned when your ship earns a kill against a well-known criminal. Each crew member gets a share of ISK earned when valuable cargo is seized from enemy vessels. You can be set to retire at the ripe old age of 21, if your ship returns to dock here with 250 million ISK in her hold!”
Jaws dropped open among the crowd of listeners at the sound of such an astronomical fortune. The hopeful crewers whispered together, considering the possibilities such a fast and deadly ship offered. They weren’t complete fools; the frigate class vessels were known to be deathtraps, even among the civilians that weren’t as familiar with the military records. Legends had been told of the dozens of frigates that had simply vanished during large engagements, vaporized by the massive firepower wielded by the titanic ships of the line. It would be a gamble, to be sure, but one that might pay off if their captain was skilled.
In one corner, the Miner’s Guild was convincing another group of onlookers that the real wealth lay within the vast asteroid belts in their own sector. “In one week’s worth of hard work, our miners pull in enough ore to build twenty of those carriers out there,” the main recruiter said. His face was rough and lined from years of working in the harsh environment of ore holds and mining laser maintenance bays. “Better yet, we don’t have to stick our necks out just because some paper pusher wants to get hisself a bigger piece of vacuum to call his. We carve the good stuff out of the rock, and we get paid. Simple as that. Medical, dental, accident insurance, you’re all covered. Just sign here and here.”
A line had formed, with a rough-looking group of hopefuls all looking for a chance at a simple life of mining. Likely, they would have been laughed out of the line for the combat jobs, more than anything. The Mining Guilds didn’t give a damn about a criminal record, as long as you had a pulse.
We knew the real story. Looking around at the sea of faces, all simply hoping for a better life and maybe a chance for excitement, we could only shake our heads and slowly march back towards the docking bays. So many of these hopeful, earnest civilians would become space debris within days. The vast armadas of the Legion waited in the void, and the void was cold and unforgiving. On the far side of the station, rows of ships lined the drydocks, gaping holes in their sides, leaking plasma from drive sections, some barely able to limp home. The way was still raging out among the stars, and the Coalition simply needed warm bodies to keep the war machine moving forward.
Maybe one day, there would be peace.