In Conflict Ravaged Huola, Sherry Producers Feel the Pain of War

This Tech 4 Flashback article is a brilliant piece which conjures vivid scenes of planetary strife in a pastoral setting and could easily reflect the impact that DUST 514's troops have on any populated planet.

The author's pen name was Maris Livour and all correspondence received was from his real name rather than an EVE character, whose identity remains a mystery even to me.

In Conflict Ravaged Huola, Sherry Producers Feel the Pain of War
By Maris Livour

Ravani Province, Huola VII - In an unusual step in Galactic politics, the Gallente Federation has called on Matari forces to ease the level of violence on the planet of Huola VII. In recent weeks, the Minmatar paramilitary force known as The Hand of Freedom has conducted countless raids on the fertile planet that exports the expensive and highly sought Ravani Sherry.

Since the THF raids, Ravani Sherry, whose main buyers come from the Gallente elite, has seen an almost complete shutdown in production. It has been confirmed by Tech 4 News that one of the most known producers of Ravani Sherry, Max Gralany, has been taken hostage by the THF since last week.

Different Governments, Different views

Sunrise over the Ravani Province on Huola VII
“The violence on Houla VII has affected a partnership with one of the only non-slave industries in the Amarr Empire,” says Gallente Deputy Minister of Trade Martin Rasu. “We are simply asking that our friends in the Minmatar Republic focus their energies on defeating the oppressive forces of the Amarr Empire while leaving those desirable elements of the Empire, who I’ll mention again are working with non-slave labor, alone.”

That was the official word from the Gallente Federation Government as it responds to protests coming from a number of its wealthier and influential citizenry in regards to Ravani Sherry production. One such citizen is Bruno Masters, holo-reel action superstar. His philanthropic organization, Borders without Borders, concentrates on bringing peaceful solutions in times of war.

“Like, Huola is not…Ravani Sherry production needs to be protected because…like…uh, it’s a peaceful operation and, like, it hires all kinds of people. You know?” said Bruno Masters in regards to the violence that has effected Ravani Sherry production on Huola VII. “We think that people should just, you know, cool it. Peace, you know?”

In contrast, the Minmatar Republic has sent the following statement to Tech 4 News:
The Hand of Freedom is a group of independent freedom fighters who have no political ties with the Minmatar Republic. They are citizens from the Bleak Lands who have banded together to fight off the oppressive activities of the Amarr Empire. While we encourage their brave actions and urge them to continue to harass the enemy in order to shake off Imperial rule in their lands, we cannot and will not dictate to them the proper method to fight in their own homeland.
“Utter and complete rubbish,” says Houla Defense Minister Marcus Vander. “The Matari terrorist forces that are engaging the citizenry of Huola VII are armed with the most sophisticated Minmatar weaponry and have shown to have been highly trained in insurgency warfare. To claim that this is a citizen’s militia group is laughable.”

An official of the 24th Imperial Crusade, talking to Tech 4 News under the condition of anonymity, elaborated more, “The THF has shown itself to be an elite special operations terror unit. So far it has bested both the local Houla authorities and our own elite paladins sent into Houla VII to hunt down its members. The skill displayed by these terrorists can only mean years of special training, possibly learned in Gallente Special Operations training camps or the like.”

Ravani Sherry and the Gallente

One of the few remaining Ravani Sherry cellars on Huola VII
Meanwhile, the coveted Ravani Sherry is seeing a rise in prices due to the lack of availability.

“To put it mildly, this has made Ravani Sherry even more of a drink of status among the Gallente privileged,” says Kena Moraeux, chief editor of Fine Wine Magazine. “Before the troubles on Huola VII, one bottle of Ravani Gold would go for nearly forty thousand ISK. Today we are seeing that price tripled. This may go well with the wealthiest citizens of the Federation for a time, but there are fears that Ravani Sherry production will completely run dry if hostilities on Houla VII continue.”

There have been calls by some distributors for a government sponsored replication program, which would copy Ravani Sherry in limited quantities, assuring a high but fixed price on the product. This wouldn’t, however, go well with consumers. “The allure of Ravani Sherry is the unique soil composition of the province the grapes grows in and the amount of light it receives from that systems white dwarf star. The taste coming from the Houla grape after such natural and organic conditions is exotic, like nothing else in the galaxy. Ravani Sherry can’t simply be ‘replicated’. There’s also the fact that this product, grown in Amarr space, is not produced from slave labor. This came about after growers in Huola VII came to an agreement with their largest consumer base, the Gallente, to not only abandon slavery, but use freed slaves as paid labor. It’s a success story to the Gallente. So when one has Ravani Sherry, it’s not only a fine drink, but a symbol of Gallente pride as well,” adds Kena Moraeux.

But not everyone in the Federation is buying what some would call elitist politicking and a potential thorn in Gallente-Minmatar relations.

“What we’re talking about here,” says Gallente Senator Ben Welson, “is fuss coming from the elite of Gallente about a product that only the richest of the rich can afford to drink. We have no business telling our Minmatar allies the best way to fight an enemy whose preoccupation is the subjugation of an innocent people.”

Senator Welson, along with fifty other law makers, has sent an urgent letter to the Gallente president asking him to pull back the protests of the Department of Trade. “There is much more at stake here than Ravani booze. What the Minmatar have endured for years under the Amarr and their continued struggle to defend themselves from Amarr aggression is worth far more than the drinking habits of a few elites.”

Sherry Producers Wary That No Aid Will Come From Amarr

Clandestine meetings are becoming commonplace amongst civilians.
On Houla VII itself, Ravani Sherry producers are weary of recent paramilitary activity in their province and the Amarr military’s willingness to engage enemy forces. This anxiety has become even more evident after the abduction of Max Gralany, owner of the top selling Ravani Gold.

“We just want to make a living,” says Veniesa Gralany, wife of Max Gralany. When her husband was abducted, she said that the THF troops also killed some of her free Matari workers. “They claimed they were traitors. Ammatar. They lined some of the men up along the large stone wall in the vineyard, and shot them all. It was horrible.”

“We will defend our land if we have to. Most of us out here don’t give a flip who owns the planet,” says Ravani Eagle Sherry producer Cavin Dredge. “We just want to be left alone, and continue to make our Sherry without the violence of war affecting our lives.”

When asked if he was confident Amarr forces would protect the area, Mr. Dredge said he wasn’t.

“There has been a lot of friction between the Amarr military and the Ravani Sherry industry. We have been subject to random searches, and suspected many times of being of engaging in abolitionist activities. It comes from our decision not to rely on slave labor and the prosperity we’ve seen because of that decision. We’re distasteful liberals according to them, and I’m sure they would love nothing more than this Minmatar terrorist group wiping us all out.”

Both the Houla defense force and the 24th Imperial Crusade deny those claims.

“We are bound by both honor and duty to defend all Amarr citizens,” said Marcus Vander. “We may not like their politics, but we will ensure their safety at any cost.”

The status of Max Gralany is unknown, though Tech 4 News is currently trying to meet with a representative of The Hand of Freedom for an interview and their take of the situation.

[If you enjoyed this article and would like to read more EVE fiction in the Tech 4 Flashback series, here's a good place to start: Tech 4 Flashback: The Stories of the Non-Capsuleer Residents of New Eden.]