Public support for Everus Harbor blockade is a highlight of Hurston Dynamics' problems with workers

Public support for Everus Harbor blockade is a highlight of Hurston Dynamics' problems with workers
Red and Black Coalition blockade Everus Harbor / by Svalbard Sleeper District / licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

When militant action disrupting your "business as usual" is praised by onlookers, you've made enemies among those creating your wealth

Note: this article originally appeared on 13 June 2951 in Conscientious Mag

/21 January 2953/

You thought not much could bother the megacorporations controlling Stanton and its workforce? Well, those at Red and Black Coalition, one of the left-wing revolutionary guerilla groups contesting the corporate nature of the system, gave them a few issues on Saturday. And while some complained and even scorned the group's brief but firm logistical and economic blockade of Everus Harbor, they also found praise from others on site.

It was a pleasant morning at Everus – as much as it can be pleasant to be looking down at a planet ravaged by industrial development – with a slight rose-tinted wrap visible around Hurston as the sun rose from behind the orbital station. Standing behind the spacious, tall glass windows offering a vista view of the planet, my ears were picking up music from the Everus local ambience in the halls behind me.

I found myself at Everus after discovering a public invitation to a tour of Hurston from organiser Gerand. A group of travel enthusiasts was joining the event to take in the sights of the planet from altitude, and I thought I'd ruin my weekend by examining the damage the neo-feudal family's business has done to its nature and biodiversity. So I signed up and hopped on one of the taxis heading to Everus, where the tour was set to launch from.

My plans for the travel were torpedoed however, as a last-minute request for editing text for an associate's history project came up while I was waking up in my hab room. I found myself making edits through the event launch time, not wanting to let them down on what I considered to be an important project.

Now standing in the lobby at the station, an hour after the tour ship had departed without me, I was looking down on Hurston and that massive half-building, half-monument to its overlord company. Then my eyes caught engine trails emerging from the atmospheric tint around the planet. Seconds later, swooshing engine sounds – picked up by exterior audio surveillance systems of Everus – were added to my aural perception of the surroundings. I took a look around – standing nearby, a few visitors were also looking out at vessels criss-crossing the immediate area outside the exterior constructions of the station, but everything looked like the usual experience in a lobby with a vista. Local comms channels had a few cues about what was happening, though.

maximiser > anyone want a ride from everus down to lorville*

Ellie-the-Egg > you are aware that everus will be blockaded soon?

maximiser > what do you mean lmao

Kenmore > Worker action

Alton-Kelteel > ATTENTION HURSTON BOUND TRAVEL: RBC has blockaded Everus Harbor in support of an ongoing Worker's Party Strike. Please ridirect all hurston bound travel to HUR L1, HUR L2, or any of Hurstons moons

A few seconds later, bursts of glowing red tracer rounds from station turrets told me it was happening. The tracers chased targets behind the frames of the station windows, but looking at their vectors, I knew they were taking aim at pilots zooming around at high speed.

Tapping my mobiGlas, I identified myself as a reporter in the station to the blockading fleet, and they allowed me to receive basic telemetry for tracking their location and callsigns (disclosure: I had a few channels that made this possible, due to my former affiliation with RBC). I began counting numbers and – whenever the pilots appeared within about five kilometres of the station – recording their ship types. Throughout their engagements outside, I identified Hornet- and Vanguard-class fighters, and later caught a glimpse of a Hammerhead gunship among the vessels piloted by them. Up to eight combat machines in total were involved, in my estimation.

Who are Red and Black Coalition?
Formed only a few years ago, RBC are a militant guerilla group targeting UEE and corporate security forces and challenging their power over the working class of the Empire.
Their vision involves waging operations against these targets and establishing "an autonomous society separate from imperial control".

No less interesting than the fights taking place outside were the exchanges that soon ensued in the local comms, with the group mentioning some of the grievances that had brought them to the place, and those in the vicinity responding to the developments.

RBC said their blockade of Everus was "intended to disrupt the supply lines of the Hurston Dynamics Corporation" and was held in support of "an ongoing Worker's Party strike" against HD. They allowed pilots to leave the station untouched, but warned off any approaching vessels, informing those piloting them that they would become targets in case they attempted to cross the blockade line.

The development brought the comms channels around Everus to life, with some declaring their displeasure at having their work disrupted – unsurprisingly. Trader Khidar made it clear by messaging "I'm not up to speed with the [drama]… am I good to do my business on this planet with the 5 ships surrounding me or naw". Others had stronger grievances, with a pilot under the callsign Rat_bat telling me they were "shot down coming into Everus right before the announcement". Subsequent comms messages between Rat_bat and RBC's Kaya66 clarified the former's vessel had been destroyed by a Hornet pilot unrelated to the Coalition, and the perpetrator had been taken out by the group in response to the act.

But among the comments were also supportive messages from those at the station, heralded by the cheer of "Down with the corpos!" from an individual under the alias of Baltyr. Announcing myself as a reporter, I asked the latter about their thoughts on what we were witnessing. They told me they had been at the station when the action started, and even though they were not familiar with Red and Black Coalition, they felt "[w]hatever group might be involved isn't as important as the issue" of anti-corporate action they approved.

SvalbardSleeperDct > @Baltyr Do you think this kind of action would serve to raise those questions in Stanton?

Baltyr > The megacorps have the weapons of wealth and coverage. I expect any questions near their core will be redacted quickly. But focusing on their extremities is where they and their control is weakest.

Frantic action inside the station soon joined the sounds of activity outside – I could see some pilots running to terminals to leave Everus as permitted by the blockaders, while others rushed back to the interior, presumably for safety.

About 20 minutes into the blockade (in my estimation), authorities released their first message broadcast through local channels, warning RBC pilots to lift the action and allow those heading to Everus to land at the station, citing UEE regulations. Response from the guerilla group was predictable, with Kenmore's reply "Words are empty" letting those in charge of the station know the organisation would not give up the action.

Den-CIG > Right, this is an unlawful assembly You should Clear out now

Den-CIG > UEE reg demand that fair trade be let into the Harbor!

Den-CIG > This is one one and only Warning!

Despite the appearance of imminent response from the local authority, RBC later said government agencies had done "nothing to stop our blockade", adding only a response from private security forces had caused the group to break off the blockade after some time.

The events did not stop there, however. Even though I had no means of following the subsequent developments in person, my channels with the Coalition were again useful in learning what took place after their pullback from Everus. Their summary said the Hammerhead involved in the action had "suffered a critical hardware failure" leading to its crew having to leave the vessel and ending up in custody. The group was transferred to the Klescher Rehabilitation Facility on Aberdeen for detention.

In response to the development, the remaining element of the fleet regrouped and later organised a daring raid on the moon to rescue those incarcerated at the compound, known to provide its managing company with questionable labour of inmates in its mines. Another operation centred around a Hurston Security depot, back on the planet above which the blockade had transpired hours before.

In their statement, RBC said the Everus action and subsequent raids had shown "the UEE and private Stanton do not have the resources to hold off a sustained campaign". The efficient rescue of their members from Klescher seems to confirm this. We will see if the Coalition's actions cause the intended damage to HD in the longer term. However, answering the question I started this report with – the megacorporations holding Stanton and its workers in their grasp clearly aren't pleased with having their business disrupted even for a brief moment. And, in my view, even more important was the vocal support this organised, militant, targeted action had among some of the people who have to deal with the dystopian reality of a corporate-owned solar system.

And that is the main takeaway from this Saturday's extraordinary developments.

*All comms messages are published unredacted