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Esoteria — It happened over the course of the last few weeks. Small engagements in the Esoteria and Stain regions that became more concentrated over time. However, this last week signaled to Test Alliance Please Ignore that the inevitable had occurred: Stainwagon Coalition, led by Soviet-Union and its various allies are at the borders of Esoteria. With a number of system attacks and a Keepstar station onlined in the Stain region, the former rulers made it clear they were ready once more to take back the south.

Stainwagon Coalition has had a long history under various incarnations within the Southern regions. Continuously beaten back into the Stain series of non-player controlled systems, they have time and again come back into New Eden’s sov space intent on rule.  The last great empire they held in the South stretched from Paragon Soul up into Impass and parts of Feythabolis. That is, up until the Winter War, when TEST, along with Circle-of-Two, Vanguard Coalition, and others, laid siege to Stainwagon’s systems in the South, a war that ended with Stainwagon wiped completely from the sovereignty maps of space, and sent into their namesake regions while the spoils of conquest were divided among the victors.

Stainwagon now seems determined to rise once again. Very shortly after TEST deployed North, at the beginning of this month, an offensive seems to have begun in Catch, Stain and finally the Esoteria regions – small skirmishes that grew into larger escalations of pilots. By yesterday evening, a leak from the TEST forums of this announcement from their high command requesting all pilots staged in Obe, their lowsec staging to the Northern nullsec regions, to return South, and by late evening of August 19, heavy fighting in VYJ-DA, in Esoteria, made it clear that Soviet-Union and with them the Stainwagon Coalition, were coming back to fight for their old sovereignty.

I spoke with Dran Arcana,the Head Diplomat from TEST following the reddit announcement. Dran signalled that the attack on Esoteria was not unexpected:

Stainwagon is one of those entities that only strikes when it thinks it can, they’re clever that way. We always considered Stainwagon’s resurgence to be a credible threat to the south, but such a threat would probably never come if we just sat down there.

The difficulty, of course, lies in the Stain Region itself – a region that cannot be held by pilots, so all stations are open safe docks, however, an alliance is unable to gain the advantages of holding player-sovereignty. It is, however, neighboring the region of Esoteria, amongst others, and difficult to keep under control, a fact that Dran acknowledged:

You can’t exactly “hit” things in NPC null to evict someone, so it’s a sort of catch-22.

However, the turn back to Esoteria will not only be a matter of Stainwagon suppression. TEST is returning to a South that has in recent weeks seen a number of their old allies from the Winter War turning against one another, with Vanguard Coalition moving on Phoenix Federation, and Circle-of-Two fighting against SOLAR FLEET. Dran Arcana wanted to make it quite clear:

Our prime focus right now is recalling from the North and assessing the situation in the South. There are two major conflicts right now, one between Stainwagon remnants and our allies in Catch which we fully plan on dealing with, and the other between two allies that has a less obvious course of action… FCON, Solar, Co2, even XIX were all part of the original Stainwagon eviction of the south and it’s a messy situation to put lightly.

A messy situation, it seems, that has been ripe for the return of Soviet-Union and their allies. Whether new alliances will be made over the coming weeks is unknown, as the massive TEST fleet moves South.

(At the time of this writing, our reporter was unable to contact Soviet-Union or other Stainwagon members for comment)