Indeed we do so. I was away on personal business for a few days and when I came back - a few, important things had changed. Much to my surprise ; the M34N Pirates have set their corp standings to RED to Black Flag. Most of the other M34N pilots weren't even told that this had happened, certainly there was no votes or anything and there many a frantic call from them to us on private channels asking for clarification. Most were as surprised as we were. In response, least we get ambushed and with reluctance, Viper set M34N to RED as well.
So now what? I spent the first morning catching up with Viper and others. I needed to gather the facts and sift through them and not get caught up in the spin. I feel it's partly my job to seek clarity and to audit what we do. It appears that this standings change stemmed from our decision NOT to set up any more corps to BLUE, regardless of how close we have worked with them. This has been a founding principle for us, we are a zero-political corp (well almost zero) that want to keep as little in the way of blue corps as possible. It keeps things simple to us. Any blue standings will be done on an individual by individual basis. This was the status quo and while not ideal, it was a practical solution to a complex environment but our conduct since the corp's foundation speaks for itself. We have not broken our word on any occasion and we have not shot at anyone who we've had friendly dealings with....unless they deserved it.
Tempered Steel Legion (TSL) are an industrial corporation that I have had friendly dealings with before I joined Black Flag. A corporation that managed to find a niche in supplying ships to low-sec corporations such as ourselves. Some of their pilots are ex-M34N and we've flown with a few of them. Competent and quite friendly, and not to forget, suppliers of fine hardware. Some are regarded as pirates with negative security ratings, lighting up people's overview in blinking red when they arrive.
TSL supplied ships to us (as well as to M34N and others) and we were happy to purchase them at very competitive prices. A good working relationship for all concerned. TSL are blue to M34N and WayCharles, a pilot that I have known ever since I came to Gusandall and before I joined Black Flag is a senior director there. He is also ex-M34N but apparently left under clouded circumstances. He had asked for his corp to be set to blue to Black Flag and we have informed him of our policy standings and declined his offer and said that we would maintain personal good standings with just a handful of TSL pilots. Pilots that we have got to know over time and who we have flown with in gangs. He appeared to be happy with this, at least initially but continued to press the issue.
We were, however, forced to make a choice a day ago: M34N corp (on behalf of TSL) demanded that Black Flag change our standings for TSL to blue and if not, then they would consider us hostiles with immediate effect. There then followed some heated words between the two parties, which polarised the two sides even further. Am sure the chat logs will be very revealing, if I manage to get hold of them.
However, we were shocked by this sudden turn.
No corporation can exist as a self-serving entity if it does not exercise its own free will. No corporation can exist if we draw a line and then allow someone to step over it. Even if we accepted all demands made by M34N and set TSL to blue...I doubt that relationships would remain between that of equals. We would have lost our sovereignty as a corp in the process of regaining half-friends who apparently do not respect us or our wishes. (from Viper Sam's internal memo to us, he said it so well, it's included.....)
The choice was simple and was made within seconds of the demand. It was a no.
M34N then set us immediately to red after this conversation where Viper wouldn't comply with their demands on OUR corp. We would never demand M34N to do something like that. It's madness. As soon as this happened, Hellequin corp ([JOKER]) another M34N ally, performed the same standings change. But chatting to a Hellequin pilots this morning, they too were surprised by this unilateral decision. There was no corp mail, no announcement, no vote, just the realisation that we would now be marked as red on their overviews.
Black Flag pilots understand now where we stand and it is far better to fight and die for your own principles than it is to live by someone else's. We've had our internal discussions, calmly and without much shouting. We're not happy that this is over something as small as a standings issue. Our conduct over the last three months speaks for itself. We're sad to lose fellow pirates but we respect their choice. We're getting ready to fight now. Just when there are a load of anti-pirates gunning for all of us, we end up in this. We kindly request anti-pirates (yes, am looking at Rhericlya and DeltaUK1 to name two) to sit back and watch from afar. Black Flag will prevail. I've spoken to nearly all the corp members and all is well.
To all the independent pilots in the INDEPENDENCE channel, please be contact me or Viper Sam for more information or clarification. The channel will always remain open to EVERYONE. However, be a bit more careful for the next couple of weeks if you are around Gusandall and Eifer; you're neutral to almost everyone (including to each other) so be on your toes. Mixed gangs will still run but there will be less. However, this shouldn't stop some of you bad boys doing solo work though or ganging up with BF or M34N as required.
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