The Gallente – Caldari War: Why We FightTarek Raimo
There are two long-standing conflicts in EVE’s backstory. Faction Warfare and a number of missions are constructed around their narratives. While the war between the Amarr and Minmatar is based on a dramatic history of slavery and rebellion, I always preferred the Caldari – Gallente war because it is a conflict between former allies which developed from an escalating series of fatal mistakes into episodes of such viciousness as can only develop in a classic sibling rivalry.
Once We Were Brothers
Almost 145 centuries after the collapse of the EVE Gate plunged New Eden into a dark age, two emerging civilisations came into contact with each other in a solar system known today as Luminaire.
One had developed on a frigid and barren world, never fully terraformed and on the edge of the star’s habitable zone. Historically, their society once came close to unification under the Raata empire, but had long since broken apart into corporate conglomerates which jointly formed a planetary oligarchy. They were a hard, individualistic people comprised of two ethnicities, the Deteis and the Civire, who each occupied one of the major continents. Collectively they referred to themselves as the Caldari.
Their celestial neighbours had a much more habitable world to call their home and as a consequence they had prospered early. A global democracy had emerged from centuries of city-states, kingdoms and empires which eventually united under a set of idealistic principles. When they found that they were not alone, a mission was initiated with the purpose of sending emissaries to the neighbouring planet. When they made contact with the Caldari in 22517, those astronauts called themselves Gallente, which in their language simply meant “people of our homeworld”.
Initially more advanced than the Caldari, the Gallente started a program of technology transfer which brought both civilisations on par with each other over the course of decades. Many Gallente migrated to the harsh sister planet in those years of exchange, but even then the Caldari kept them at arm’s length because cultural intermingling was alien to their idea of citizenship based on corporate affiliation. The industrious and pragmatic ways of the Caldari were, however, complemented well by Gallente creativity and vision. Together they developed jump-drive technology and the first stargate out of Luminaire was their crowning collective achievement.
Ironically, it was that very feat which planted the seed for a conflict resulting from the cultural differences between Caldari and Gallente. Spurred on by their discovery and successful development of another human civilisation, Gallente explorers began to search for more remnants of long-forgotten colonies. During the following decades they encountered the Mannar and the Intaki. Eagerly the Gallente began to help those civilisations to improve themselves as well, but as a result of that successful expansion and development effort, hubris began to spread throughout Gallente society. Claiming to be the superior civilisation with the most just government, the Gallente initiated the formation of a commonwealth to unify all four societies under their democratic rule. Despite such paternalism, the Caldari, Intaki and Mannar agreed to join, and so the Gallente Federation was founded in the year 23121; more than six-hundred years after first contact between Caldari and Gallente.
Although they had joined a larger nation, the individual Caldari megacorporations proceeded as they had always done in their efforts to seek the highest potential for competitive advantage. Blazing their own trails, they began to explore and colonise systems independently and saw no reason to report that to Federation authorities. The newly established Gallente government was not amused when their own explorers encountered those undocumented settlements.
The Siblings Part
Offended that the Caldari would colonise worlds without telling them, the Gallente demanded that those systems should immediately become part of the Federation. The Caldari corporations viewed the matter in an entirely different way however. To them those were independent colonies they had settled under their own power and that made them corporate property rather than subject to a government. Unable or unwilling to comprehend such reasoning, the Gallente responded with a blockade of the Caldari homeworld to prevent further unsolicited colonisation.
Being an unyielding and belligerent people, the Caldari did not submit quietly to those measures. Racist attacks against Gallente enclaves on Caldari Prime were recorded and secessionist ideas began to spread throughout Caldari society. When news of those developments reached the Gallente, their own patriotic activists took the stage and called for action against the neighbouring world.
Increasing political extremism escalated the tension on both sides, but history records that open hostilities ultimately broke out after a devastating terrorist attack. The Caldari had long been wary of Gallente immigrants and had assigned them areas they were allowed to settle on Caldari Prime. One of those enclaves was the underwater city of Nouvelle Rouvenor and it was there that Caldari radicals planted bombs which cracked the city’s protective dome. Hundreds of thousands died as a result of that attack and Gallente liberalism died with them.
Leveraging the public outcry about Nouvelle Rouvenor and Caldari racism in general, an ultra-nationalist government came into power on Gallente Prime, and it swiftly let deeds follow words. The blockade of Caldari Prime was reinforced to become an attack force which would “protect the ethnic Gallente” by occupying the planet. The fact that the Caldari had kept Gallente immigrants apart now made it possible for the fleet to bombard cities and military installations with impunity in preparation of a surface campaign.
Not all Federation citizens supported that extreme response. Appalled by the violence, many Intaki openly criticised the government and even more sympathised quietly with the Caldari whom they had long admired for their discipline and business-sense. Intolerant of such ideas, the Federation government prosecuted all dissenters with extreme prejudice. As a consequence millions of Intaki left Federation space and began to settle their own colonies close to the stellar region the Caldari had explored. That independent community later developed into the Intaki Syndicate.
On the Caldari side, corporate leaders could not agree on a unified response while the population fled into the mountains and frozen wastelands. Eventually two main factions formed. One group wanted to comply with the Gallente demands and sue for peace, the others desired to fight back and secede from the Federation. During an incident called The Morning of Reasoning, the secessionist leaders poisoned the CEOs of the peace faction during a meeting and divided their assets among themselves. Thus they decided the fate of the Caldari State.
The corporate directorates realized that even unified they could not win against the much more powerful Gallente, so they ordered the evacuation of Caldari Prime with the goal of building a new capital in their colonies. While the Gallente were still engaged in the conquest of the Caldari homeworld, remote colonial shipyards of the major corporations began to construct warships. Following advice from Intaki defectors, the Caldari developed small and maneuverable attack craft which could be flown by a single pilot. Carriers with jump-drives were built to deploy those fighters against the powerful but cumbersome battleships the Gallente favoured.
In the meantime the displaced citizens of Caldari Prime began to prepare fervently for evacuation by building transport vessels in hidden shipyards which had survived the orbital bombardments. When the day came for the colonial forces to attack, they completely surprised the Gallente. Their fighter squadrons with carrier support proved highly successful against the Federation ships and so they broke the blockade and the Caldari population began to evacuate.
Inspired by the military success against the Gallente fleet, several aggressive corporate leaders wanted to pursue the retreating enemy and attack their homeworld in retaliation, but scouts reported that the Gallente prepared for a counterattack which the Caldari fleet would not be able to repel. The more realistic CEOs pledged themselves to completing the evacuation of civilians, and again factionalism paralyzed the Caldari when both sides were unable to formulate a common strategy. With half of the planet’s population still remaining on Caldari Prime, this indecision risked the lives of millions in the face of an even more devastating Gallente attack.
At this point, one colonial admiral – Yakiya Tovil-Toba – took the initiative and jumped a single carrier with a small support fleet directly to the Gallente homeworld in a heroic effort to stall the imminent attack. For days he managed to keep the Gallente fleet occupied with tactical ingenuity, but eventually he had to face the inevitable. When only his carrier remained and Tovil-Toba himself was fatally wounded in the battle, he ordered his flagship to enter the planet’s atmosphere in a suicide attack. The admiral died moments before his carrier broke apart and devastated the city of Hueromont with its impact.
The Gallente called off their attack to deal with the disaster which claimed almost two million lives and the Caldari managed to complete the evacuation of their former homeworld. To this day, Yakiya Tovil-Toba and his crew are revered as heroes by the Caldari for that sacrifice which allowed the safe escape of many millions.
The State Against The Federation
While the Caldari built the centre for their newly independent state in the aptly named Forge region, the Gallente again went through a period of political instability. Just like the failure to prevent Nouvelle Rouvenor spelled the end for the previous government, so did Hueromont for the current one. The newly formed Scope media corporation channeled the negative public opinion and the quasi-fascist government was forced to resign in favour of an interim administration, until new elections could be held.
The Caldari would not relent though. They kept raiding Gallente outposts at the border between the two celestial empires and the Federation Navy kept pushing back in an effort to “liberate” Caldari colonies. Aware of the political weakness within the Federation, the Caldari presented terms for a peaceful settlement. They would cease hostilities if the Gallente recognize the sovereignty of the Caldari State and return the world of Caldari Prime to their control, but even without a functional government the Gallente were unanimous in their refusal of those terms. A foreign outpost next to their homeworld and a precedent for secession would not bode well, especially at times of political instability. Nobody wanted to risk another event like the Intaki mass exodus.
Despite unwillingness to settle for peace, it had become obvious to Gallente military experts that their battleship doctrines could not deal with the small Caldari raiders, and so they developed a new weapon system: automated fighting drones guided by an artificial intelligence which reacted faster than any human pilot. Soon those machines became an insurmountable challenge for the Caldari fighter pilots and it looked like the Gallente would be victorious.
Then the Jovians intervened.
Initially friendly to the Gallente, the Jovian Directorate had ceased diplomatic relations when the Federation fell under extremist rule. When they re-appeared on the diplomatic stage, they did so on the side of the Caldari. Jovian engineers revealed the principles of the capsule control system to the beleaguered Caldari State and thereby gave them the ability to fly much more powerful ships than just fighters with only one person at the helm. Furthermore, pod pilots could control a ship as if it was an extension of their own body and that gave them a fighting chance again. This development prolonged the war for decades as the Caldari built frigates fast enough to outmaneuver the Gallente battleships and of sufficient strength to survive their swarms of attack drones.
Whether the Jovians had intended for that to happen is not known, but eventually capsule technology spread through the empires and gave birth to a new age. Soon the capsule control system was combined with cloning technology and infomorph transfer to create a new breed of pod pilot, the capsuleer. Those effectively immortal individuals would change the political landscape of New Eden in ways nobody had anticipated. Naturally that also influenced how the war between Caldari and Gallente developed further.
More on that next week.