"Call it mental toughness. Call it 'Too dumb to die'. Call it zombification. Whatever. -A- have an annoying way of not knowing when they're beaten. You can knock them down, shoot them execution-style, knife the body a dozen times, rub their collective face in the dirt and dog-shit, and walk away from their mangled corpse with their lunch money jingling in your pocket while you whistle tunes from 'Aida'. A week later -A- will be back, nailing the dismembered body of your beloved family pet to your front door."
- Fiddler's Edge, The Edge Awards
You'll recall that last week I wrote in response to a Ripard Teg post that, while I am not given to gloating, I am not above the odd victory dance when the occasion warrants it.
You may consider Against All Authorities' (-A-) recent return from the dead such an occasionous occasion.
Now, if you'll recall, way back in the spring of 2012, there occurred a gradual escalation of commitment in Delve by various parties that resulted in a pan-nullsec clash for control of that region. The final step in said escalation was the entrance of Clusterfuck Coalition (CFC) into the conflict on the side of Pandemic Legion and Test Alliance Please Ignore against Nulli Secunda, Raiden and -A-. CFC's leadership pitched this as an all-in, no-quarter-given war aimed not merely at defeating the enemy, but eliminating their capacity to pose a future threat. As The Mittani® stated at the time:
“We – and ‘We’ means ‘Everyone’ – are going to Delve, and it will burn. No mercy, no respite, no ‘freeports’, just brutal conquest – conquest which will not stop until this threat to our bloc is extinguished. If that means that we must set all of Catch on fire to remind this ex-NC, ex-IT, ex-BoB excrement of their proper place in the universe, so be it.”The Southerners, already outnumbered by Test Alliance and PL, were swamped in the subsequent tidal wave of players from CFC joining the fight against them, and were quickly driven from Delve. The war followed the retreating forces South into Catch and the domains of the Southern Coalition (SoCo). By October the Southern Coalition, which had long supported -A- during times of trouble, itself began to unravel. A schism within Red Overlord (ROL), which was at the time providing some of the most effective resistance to the Northerners, resulted in the collapse of ROL and the defection of certain member corporations to the newly formed Unclaimed[DOT], which was aligned with the PL, Test and the Honey Badger Coalition (HBC) cause.
Resistance from the Southern alliances collapsed shortly thereafter, and -A- took refuge in NPC nullsec.
Now, -A- had retreated to NPC nullsec during previous wars only to return and retake its old space from the interlopers. However, in those cases -A- had managed a planned and well ordered retreat that maintained the alliance's organizational integrity and kept its combat assets largely intact. In this case -A- had been routed. Its membership's morale was at low ebb, its supporting coalition was in tatters, and the monolithic forces of the HBC and the CFC stood firmly in the way of any return to Catch.
As 2012 drew to a close, -A- remained in NPC nullsec exile and what had been a trickle of defections to other alliances slowly became a persistent stream. On January 6, Russian Thunder Squad, who'd been with -A- since 2007 and, along with Rage and Terror, were regarded as the most critical of -A-'s corporations, announced their departure for Darkness of Despair.
With that, the writing appeared to be on the wall for -A-.
As bloggers and podcasters closed the books on 2012, eulogies were being written for Against All Authorities, many of them dismissive and unkind. The common wisdom among the EVE media was that -A- was as dead, and their failscade was foregone conclusion. However, as February turned to March, the flight of members from -A- slowed at around the 1,000 membership mark, and then bottomed out in the mid-800s. At that point the common wisdom in the blogosphere shifted somewhat. Pundits stated that, while -A- might not have failscaded outright, it was still effectively dead. -A-, they said, was spent as a sov nullsec power, incapable of taking and holding space or driving events. They were, its eulogizers held, a hollowed out shell that just happened to wear the -A- emblem.
As I wrote last January, -A- has been prematurely eulogized so often in the last few years you'd think they had a Summer home on the River Styx and rented jet-skis from Charon. -A-'s enemies and critics have an appalling habit of walking way from -A-'s 'mostly dead' body, assuming that 'all dead' will follow in due course. Having seen this scenario play out before I counseled those celebrating -A-'s demise to caution. Wait and see, said I.
And sure enough, as Spring gave way to Summer, there were signs of life in the cemetery as -A- once again clawed their way from the grave. By June, -A- had rebuilt a large portion of its membership. Of particular interest was the addition of some solid sov warfare corporations, including Anzac Alliance, which spoke to -A-'s long term plans. By mid-August -A- had quietly returned from NPC nullsec to occupy the C45-9Ya constellation in Feythobolis. Using that base as a springboard, -A- began re-occupying systems in Catch, taking possession of systems in the 9HXQ-G constellation in Catch from The Initiative as late as yesterday. GE-8JV in that constellation, generally regarded as -A-'s traditional home system, was among the systems taken.
It's certainly likely that -A- is getting by with a little help from its friends. This is, after all, the age of the coalition and there are very few alliances that can take and hold sovereign nullsec without some backup. And there may be a degree of defensive indifference involved in the recent take-overs, but there's no doubt that -A- is taking Catch systems by force of arms. There are many questions that remain to be answered, but on one point there is no doubt:
Against All Authorities is undead again.