The vast cold expanses of New Eden are a galaxy filled with war, friendship, betrayal, and no shortage of floating corpses. The large empires, beset by problems on all sides, sit stagnant. Faced with relentless attacks from pirates and entities from deep space, the military might of these once great nations is fading away. Under their noses, the large pseudo-nation-states of capsuleers, including those calling themselves Legacy, Imperium, PanFam, and the DRF have been free to shape the geographical and political landscape of null-sec according to their will. The bedrock of these large coalitions and alliances is, and always will be, the corporation.
While there are many well known and storied corporations like Evolution, Dreddit, Goonwaffe, and Fairlight along with many others, there are also hundreds if not thousands of lesser-known corps who also have an interesting story to tell. Shadowed by the power brokers their stories of success and failure, their unique cultures which contribute to Eve’s dynamic history if even in small ways often goes unheard. Sub–Zero is one such corporation, and its CEO and co-founder is Commander Aze (formerly known as Frost). This is their series of unfortunate events…
The Founding of Sub–Zero
While many were involved in the creation of Sub–Zero, the fate of the corporation is intertwined most with the paths of two founders, Commander Aze and Jeric Saris. Starting the game within two days of each other, they were both recruited by a player named Arobiz. Not long after getting acquainted with the game the two saw themselves founding a corporation together. The history of Sub–Zero begins when player-corp Desertus Caterva decided it wanted to separate its PVP arm from its PVE core. Aze, Jeric, Ghost, Hale, Kaddan and others would found Sub–Zero as the product of this decision with the intent of being a war dec corp.
At first, the plan went smoothly. Highlights such as when Sub–Zero was “the most deadly corporation” around the time of Burn Jita in 2013, or when they were major participants in the battle of Luminaire, fielding a sizeable battleship fleet and contributing to the first ever NPC Titan death. However, cracks began to show in the facade as the more broken mechanics in the war dec system soon became more evident. At this point, a move into null-sec would prove to be “not so much a failure as much as a train wreck”, in the words of co-founder Ghost. Not only did Sub–Zero lose members, but their sister corp Desertus Caterva decided last minute to stay in high-sec. Sub–Zero, however, would not be deterred. It was time for something new.
On the Road Again…and Again…and Again
Now independent of Desertus Caterva, Sub–Zero joined S0uthern C0mf0rt and took up residence with them in deep Omist. Ultimately, this move proved to be unfruitful. Alliance leadership drama caused this partnership to end after only a few months, requiring the assistance of the Northern Associates Rental team to ensure a safe exit of the corp’s now growing PVP fleets.
However, renting space in the South could not provide the income or the content the group needed. As such, the corporation found itself moving yet again. This time they went even further north to rent in Etherium Reach, holding the System of FIZU-X and 3G-LFX. This constant moving led the corporation to lose upwards to 40% of its members. However, the corporation would finally catch a break when they were invited to join Catastrophe Uprising, which would later fold into The East India Company.
A Thief in the Night
The time within Catastrophic Uprising finally gave Sub–Zero a chance to truly experience null-sec space. The corporation was able to spread its wings and grow as a group, and in a home that provided plenty of opportunities to hone their PVP focus. However, with constant action comes enemies. Unfortunately, The East India Company soon found itself facing constant pressure, and fighting a war which they couldn’t win. With the alliance hemorrhaging space, and the direness of the situation becoming more clear, Sub–Zero was faced with a hard decision. Stay and fight a losing battle, or cut losses and regroup.
After some deliberation Sub–Zero decided to retreat to high-sec Riavayed to gather themselves and figure out where to proceed from there, a move which included the sale of their original capital fleet. After this move another stage of rebuilding took place, and a former co-founder of Sub–Zero returned. Kaddan was a lone killer with an impressive killboard, he taught Sub–Zero pilots from the beginning how to PVP, he was well trusted, and was reinstated with roles within a few months. During a late night after a long mining op the corp directors called it a night, allowing Kaddan to steal the entire corporation wealth: an 8 billion liquid ISK take, plus all corp assets, to a value in the tens of billions. He took everything not tied down. The directors, now betrayed by their long-time friend, needed to make new plans, a task made trickier with no money in the collective wallet.
There and Back Again
Following the theft, a rapid direction change was made when real-life situations brought key members back to Sub–Zero. A strong trend of growth gave the group the life it needed, and it wasn’t long until they found a home with the good people of the Serenity Initiative, a group who had kept good relations with Sub–Zero during their previous time renting space in Etherium Reach. The leadership of the two groups would forge a friendship that exists to this day. As part of SERIN, Sub–Zero was given the responsibility of defending Ethereum Reach and was given the rights to all moons to fund their efforts.
The group decided to invest heavily in their moons and Sub–Zero created a profitable enterprise with full access to valuable moons. With as much content as they wanted and a steady income, Sub–Zero was able to prosper and grow within Serenity. The peace would not last long though. As happens in Eve, the wheels of history again began to turn and in the wake of the Phoebe release, Phoebe Freeport invaded, taking a system in the front pocket of Etherium Reach. Soon after the defeat of PF, Triumvirate decided to move into the region and take it. While Serenity had a plan to defend their space, it soon fell apart when the Russian alliance of Total Absolution decided to not show up for multiple timers, yielding the region to the invading force. So much for supposed allies.
Once again Sub–Zero found itself on the losing end of a war with a group whose space was being devoured by a larger enemy, and once again they found themselves facing the hard decision whether to fight a war that couldn’t be won. When Triumvirate’s victory became obvious following the fall of a large portion of the Serenity supercap fleet, Sub–Zero packed what remained of their capitals and moved back to the historical home system of Riavayed to rebuild again.
The Lost Year
What followed was a dark period of Sub–Zero’s history. While real life enabled Jeric and Aze to meet in what would be called “The Old Chicago Meetings”, real life also caused Aze to take extended breaks from Eve in service to his country; this is a trend that has continued in his career. While Jeric was a great industrialist, he was admittedly not an FC, an ingredient every PvP goroup needs. Without content providers, the corporation began to dwindle in size.
Regardless, under the leadership of Jeric Sub–Zero was able to persevere and survive where many others would have withered away into stardust. Jeric took steps to substantially grow Sub–Zero’s industrial base while the corp existed in this diminished capacity, and soon enough his efforts saw Sub–Zero growing along a new yet familiar path. The lost year ended when life finally permitted Aze to return properly and start working with Jeric to implement the “Old Chicago meetings” plans.
Their plan was to build the corporation to enter null-sec independently. They didn’t want to rent, they didn’t want to be part of a blob, and they wanted to build a group organically from the ground up. The two began recruiting vigorously to get the numbers needed to succeed in such a task. It was around this time that Sub–Zero would hit a windfall from their affiliation with the “What Drifters” NPSI group. The “What Drifters” incident was focused on the drifter’s incursions into High Sec; these sites when run correctly could net the fleet hundreds of billions of ISK in a few days with ease. Commander Aze ran these fleets as an FC with Morathia and Virion Stoneshard to such effect that CCP patched the incursions. The spike caused by the group can be seen on the incursion line on the “Top 8 Sinks and Faucets Over Time” from the Economic Reports, creating a permanent memorial to these efforts.
“What Drifters” provided the corp with the funding they needed to jump-start their ambitions. With these funds, they started an ore buyback program in corp, avoiding raw ISK generation in favour of building freighters. The profits were then used to fund corp programs and the development of infrastructure. The business model consisted of ore buyback and corporate participation in ship production. With the promise to buy any type of ore at 90% of Jita costs from anywhere you posted the contract, the corporation offered a convenient program that helped less well-off corp members, and provided the corp with the materials and profit margins necessary to build and expand.
Flush with cash and riding high, Sub–Zero started building. With a stable business model, Sub–Zero decided to reach out to some of its high-sec neighbors. With Star Tide Industries and NER industries, Sub–Zero formed the Lin Kuei Kokuryukai Alliance, and at the height of LINKK’s empire, they spanned three systems with eleven Upwell structures and 22 POS structures under their control.
The alliance concentrated its group effort into industrial endeavours, hoping to build up funding for a null-sec expedition. However, while the alliance continued to expand its player base and manufacturing capacity, they were plagued by problems that often burden high-sec organizations. They experienced uneven recruitment and retention. Many players would join to try things out, only to quit the game soon after. With all the focus on industrial efforts, most fleet activities not mining ops were done through public groups such as Spectre Fleet or early Sansha Incursion groups like CIA and TDF.
This led to a diminished ability for Sub–Zero to fulfill its original purpose: PvP. In order to get their members ready for the activity needed in null, the corp decided to occupy a wormhole. However, they soon learned that wormholes were not for everyone, with most members of the alliance decided to stay in high-secc.
With that said, in this era wardecs were a minor nuisance, but sometimes you found corps who actually wanted to fight. One such encounter led to fun games such as baiting retrievers and joining in with small High Sec skirmishes. But these smaller skirmishes came to an end as Lin Kuei began to grow. The 300 members of LINKK became a target of constant wardec harassment by the larger pirate groups. Due to the pirates’ tendency to flee from fair fights and camp primary trade routes, LINKK and Sub–Zero found their efforts to build towards null starting to stall as more wars came in.
I want to join The Bastion
Around this time, Star Tide Industries parted ways with LINKK to try joining ProviBloc, a decision that caused conflict in the leadership group. Starved for content and unable to move safely about the trade lanes or join the public groups that members relied on for content, Aze stepped up and decided that something had to be done. The current situation was untenable and, to be blunt, not fun. Aze didn’t want to lose the momentum gained since “What Drifters”, and he knew his alliance wasn’t ready to move out independently, but they had to do something to expedite their null-sec aims.
With this in mind, Aze reached out to his friend Orion-Sa-Solo, former lead FC for Serenity Initiative, who arranged a sit down with Fountain alliance The Culture [T-C]. T-C offered to rent out the front pocket leading to Aridia in Fountain for 13 billion ISK a month. A price that was just too high to bear. Aze didn’t want to subject his corp members to the de-facto slave labour conditions that would be needed to pay such a bill, especially considering The Culture refused to include moons in the systems in question. The corp leadership continued to look for other opportunities until one night Aze stumbled into the Talking in Stations discord. He discussed the wardec system and how its mechanics have broken, and the true frustration of trying to grow a community but being hamstrung by the highsec mechanics with Matterall, Sullen Decimus, Dirk MacGirk and others. After a month of war in, Aze told them he was watching a large majority of the playerbase of Sub–Zero go inactive, most citing the wardec system and cowardly opponents.
It was clear something had to change By camping trade lanes and running from fair fights when presented to them; the war dec system just provided a cheap way for large groups to grief new players and the organizations that cater to them. Aze asked “With such a system in place, how do new groups grow independent of renting or joining a blob?”
Half-jokingly, Sullen provided the answer to his question: “Just join Bastion”
That night those words continued to replay in Commander Aze’s mind until he decided to bring up the idea to Jeric Saris, and the two were invited to talk to The Bastion’s infamous leader Carneros. This discussion left them with a great impression to what he offered as a leader, what Bastion could offer to Sub–Zero, and what Sub–Zero could offer Bastion. With a good deal on the table, the two directors took a vote among the members, where 95% of the voting members voted to join Bastion. With the decision settled, the alliance consolidated into Sub–Zero and the group moved to Delve post-haste.
The business model first implemented in highsec has proved to be even more profitable in null, as the corporation quickly moved from selling freighters to selling supercaps and titans within the Imperium. Despite their success, Sub–Zero continues to be somewhat unique in their approach to their business, with a preference to rely on group effort for industrial production as opposed to one or two individuals doing all the work. The corporation remains built around everyone being involved.
From the ore buyback, all the way to ship production the corp follows a policy of “corp first’. While this might not suit all capsuleers, it has led to Sub–Zero being the prosperous entity it is today. The new fruits of null-sec has allowed them to not only escalate their ore buyback and shipbuilding program, but has also allowed them to institute new programs, such as the pap raffle. In Sub–Zero some of the corporate profits are used for a raffle where all fleet participation links, or ‘paps’, are counted as tickets. At the end of each month, a ticket is pulled and the winner receives a carrier. This program was designed not only to encourage fleet participation but also to help expedite the process of getting its members into carriers. A newer program, more limited in its availability, is a “rent-to-own” supercapital scheme. Basically, trusted members can make an initial deposit, receive a supercap of their own, and then pay off the remaining balance in monthly installments. Such policies are only feasible due to the unselfish corporate culture in which donation mining ops and other corp-first activities are fairly common.
Since 2013, Sub–Zero has grown from its humble beginnings as the PVP arm of a small group into a significant manufacturer of supers and titans for Imperium and Bastion members. The group continues to grow in power as they build up their own capital and super capital fleet while maintaining a solid core of active members. From its first failure in null to its successful move into The Bastion, the story of Sub–Zero has had many twists and turns. But unlike many others, it is a story they are still writing. In the harsh and unbending universe of Eve, sometimes that is a victory in itself.
Sub–Zero is recruiting, but is highly selective in its membership. If you are interested in helping to write the future of this tale, join in-game channel “Sub–Zero” and ask for a recruiter.
If you think your corp has an interesting story to tell, then consider contacting D’nara Atreidis in-game.