I’ve been in Metropolis now for about a week and will be here for the duration of Exercise ‘Brotherhood’. After this I expect I’ll be reassigned again.

So far the experience has been worthwhile. I’m learning a lot and it’s interesting to see all the different ships—Minmatar and Gallente alike—while having time to discuss tactics and form bonds with pilots outside the navy. A Brutor pilot, Darius Shakor, has been following my squad around the last few days, observing some of the “dry run” combat simulations we’ve been doing.

Darius is not entirely what I expected. Of course I met numerous Minmatar while at the academy, but they are all expats from the Republic and have integrated with Gallente society to varying degrees. Darius, by contrast, seems very much ‘original’ in the sense of having never been tainted by the Federation. Quiet and thoughtful but not shy, and definitely confident in his abilities and opinions. He sits out there cloaked up in a Rapier, watching each of us closely and listening to the comms exchanges we have with the Minmatar pilots we’re paired up with. When he first joined us he said little other than asking pointed, intelligent questions, after which he’d fall silent again to consider our answers, but after a while started to engage us more in general talk in the still moments between skirmishes. He certainly likes to debate!

I get the sense he’s…looking for something though and won’t stick around for the rest of the operation. He says the Republic Navy contracted him to observe us but doesn’t quite seem the type to be doing navy work. I can’t put my finger on why, which makes me wonder what he might really be doing here. There is more to him than he lets on and I can’t help but be curious.

A palpable nervous tension permeates the ranks on both sides. The Caldari and Amarr disapprove of this event and people here wonder if we’re going to find ourselves surprised by one or both navies even though we’re in Republic space. I don’t imagine they would actually dare to attack us given the political climate and general anxiety of the public. I can see how the timing is unfortunate considering what happened in Malkalen, but surely they didn’t expect the exercise to be cancelled? A joint effort between two navies is a complex affair requiring weeks, if not months, of planning and preparation to simply be cast aside. Despite the now unfortunate timing, the fact is that life goes on for the rest of us.

I’m looking forward to the rest of the exercise.