Black Mountain: The Sanctuary

The keyword for the Sisters is care. Not only care for others, but care for themselves. Carefulness, in fact. They've gone to great lengths in establishing themselves as a neutral party in the world of New Eden, and while some activities among their internal factions may be less than savoury, their name still stands unflecked and untainted.

The bulk of the Sisters' factional manpower is drawn from their synonymous corporation, the Sisters of EVE (SoE). This manpower is applied in all manner of ways, depending on both the individual projects at hand and the agendas of the three blocs that make up the Sisters faction. Sometimes the Sisters need faithful healers; sometimes they need worldly diplomats; and sometimes they need people of quite a different caliber.

The first bloc is the SoE themselves. As has been chronicled elsewhere, the SoE is a philanthropical organization dedicated to bettering the life of New Eden's denizens. After their performance in the Caldari-Gallente war and the Minmatar recession from Amarr, they gained the grudging respect not only of the four major empires but of various other factions as well. The SoE are the only party which can freely enter war zones irrespective of which forces are locked in combat, and they are renowned - or notorious - for assisting pirate factions in rescue operations, often following capsuleer attacks. While the SoE never choose sides in any fight, it has to be said that as a rule they do not think highly of capsuleers and their unfettered indulgence of bloodshed and mayhem; and, in fact, much of their information and even some of their equipment tends to come from faction pirates as thanks for having saved the lives of those who the capsuleers left for dead.

The second bloc is the Food Relief corporation. While Food Relief (FR) are ostensibly responsible for delivering necessities - primarily food and medicine - to those in need, they have taken a few steps into the political arena. Those steps are tentative and small, as befits any agency whose goodwill and clout are based primarily on its neutrality, and are for the most part focused on diplomatic relations such as improving dialogue with both army leaders and insurgents. FR have never officially withheld their deliveries, but in recent times there have been occasions where their medicine drops were delayed or reduced due to unforeseen events - environmental conditions, usually, or a sudden outbreak of hostility on their caravan routes - and some political analysts maintain that these delays indirectly affected the outcomes of other factions' military campaigns. The warring forces may not need FR's supplies, but they do need some manner of public support, and if the public is made to starve, so will its support. Once the media then picks up on the suffering innocents and starts broadcasting their images throughout the constellation, it becomes even more apparent to the warring factions that FR should be given due reverence and assistance.

It should be noted that the Food Relief corporation itself only deals with administrative matters, such as where to focus its drops and how much it should give to each side. The SoE contains the workforce pools themselves, and FR and the Sanctuary both draw on them when engaging in projects. The disparity between the SoE and FR is administrative for the most part, though there are subtle ideological differences: The SoE bring healing to the masses and proclaim their faith, while FR is more focused on practicality, numbers and diplomacy.

The third bloc is the Sanctuary. It is a scientific research institute, and is easily the most secretive of the three. This secrecy may seem to run counter to the institute's purpose, but has proven vital for the Sanctuary to maintain complete neutrality. There are various forces in New Eden who would much like to gain access to the Sanctuary's data on troop movements, combat avoidance tactics and combat stress resistance techniques. There are also various forces in the world of the media who would be very interested in publicising information on the Sanctuary's theological research. A century's worth of goodwill has gotten the Sisters far, but it wouldn't take much for the public's fascination with cults and occultism to override that goodwill, particularly in an organization so revered for its benevolence. Everyone loves a fall from grace.

The Sanctuary, as with Food Relief, is an administrative institution. They have their overseers and their employees, but their test groups are pulled from the SoE. However, this should not imply that the members of the SoE are all part of a faceless mass, waiting to be chosen at random by the powers above. Each member will, if he shows loyalty and talent, be given the chance to offer his services to the bloc he prefers, and work for them on a permanent basis. Faith, diplomacy and science all have their place.

This factional division, natural as it is, has caused some ideological disparity among the Sisters blocs. As a result, its leaders have been developing new ways to unify their forces. Despite some initial hesitance on the leaders' side to encourage it, the most effective way is in fact one that has cropped up naturally among the workers themselves.

The Sisters have always been unified in love, but they are also increasingly becoming unified in hate. This is not as paradoxical as first might seem. Everything has its inverse, and if you truly and honestly devote yourself to a particular entity, whether it's a physical object, a living thing or an abstract ideal, you will invariably find yourself at odds with that entity's antithesis and enemies. The Sisters of EVE have devoted themselves to saving lives, helping the sick & wounded, and gently prodding humankind to sacred ascendancy; and what foils them at every turn, in greater measure than politics and weaponmaking and natural disaster, is a force that continues to grow: The capsuleers.

Of course this is an oversimplification, and the people in the Sisters of EVE realize that as well as anyone else. Capsuleers, in and of themselves, are no more of a uniformly evil force than any average Empire subculture, and they are nowhere near the only one that routinely causes death and destruction. There are countless atrocities performed on any number of planets, let alone in space, by groups and armies and factions entirely unrelated to ship pilots. But to the minds of many Sisters, and even of many others, the capsuleers have come to represent this malevolent nadir of humanity: They are powerful, and they use that power in the ways of the old gods, delivering it with fire and noise and blinding lights and leaving a wake of anguish, all in the name of whim and immediate desire.

This has given the Sisters something to rally around, and even if it's subtle, it helps them do their job, cursing and growling at the concept of capsuleers while they patch together yet another whimpering group of collateral damage. It should be noted that since the Sisters of EVE cannot afford to antagonize the capsuleers, they use only dutifully appointed representatives that actually quite like ship pilots. But on the ground floor, things are a little different, and with this kind of dark unification factor, there will always come those who take it too far and want to become proactive. There have been stories of the SoE doing more arms training than before, and of Food Relief taking decisions that are decidely more militaristic in nature, even going so far as to demand personal information on capsuleers in exchange for providing assistance.

In and of themselves, these developments are not that surprising: The SoE always have to be ready for combat and thus periodically renew their teaching syllabus, generally putting a higher focus on self-defence each time; and Food Relief want to plan their operations without having to fear interference by rogue capsuleers, which means they have to know something about them. It is the Sanctuary who have taken their anti-capsuleer stance to the furthest and most dangerous point, and they are the one corporation within the entire Sisters of EVE faction that can now be said - carefully, for nothing they've done has been proven, and as the Sisters tread with care around us, so must we around them - be schisming from the rest. There were even hushed rumours of their theo-technological research having taken dark and occult turns. One particularly enduring tale is that at some point an informant gave the Sanctuary information about something called a Book of Emptiness, a powerful machine once developed and hosted by the Society of Conscious Thought but now adrift in space, and that this same informant included a piece of proof called an Oblivion Cocktail that was based on the same tech. It is said that it was easy work to adjust the Sanctuary training of its SoE recruits in order to prepare for possible engagement over this thing - search and rescue missions were already part of their agenda - and to filter out from the SoE masses anyone who was immune to the Book's effects and vulnerable to the Sanctuary's propaganda. If true, this godsend would give the Sanctuary an opportunity to further its agenda without sharing too much with the other blocs, to a point where they might even attempt to gain control of the entire Sisters faction, followed by so much else. The current status of this rumoured project remains unknown, but given how far-fetched it sounds, the public doesn't seem much bothered. Besides, even if it is true, there is cause to rejoice, for the rumour has a second part: There is a counter-revolution within the Sanctuary, a force of individuals who are against this secret development, having seen its subtle poison, and want to turn the corporation away from its evil, dangerous path and back towards the Sisters' true purpose, without risking that their corp or the faction as a whole lose its reputation and power in the process.

If one lends credence to rumours, it might be assumed that these underground forces for good don't stand much of a chance, for evil tends to prevail. But the Sisters of EVE are masters at handling themselves in adverse conditions, and it is in their nature to face reality and deal with a situation as it is, not as they'd like it to be. They will not be led by dogma for long.

This counter-revolution, if it exists at all, will undoubtedly proceed under the Sisters byword. They will let their enemies think that everything is alright until the time is right, and they will not impose on, expose or affect anything until they are ready. They will be efficient, and they will be swift, and they will be very, very careful.





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