Not everyone in the solar system had benefitted from Drauger’s huge profits and rapid expansion. Many citizens of Drauger’s new solar empire began to actively oppose the company and its policies. Now, with a power vacuum on Europa and Drauger at risk of losing its access to Core energy, the opportunity to strike had come. To that end, the resistance pioneered a method of covertly inserting a small squad of militarized robots called Rigs into Kavash territory in an effort to claim Cores for themselves. The resistance sold these illegally acquired Cores on the open market in an attempt to undercut Drauger. While this new Core supply source staved off a larger energy crisis, it put Drauger on the offensive. The company insisted that all material on Europa was their rightful property and enacted a complete ban on unlicensed Core distribution and the sale of weaponized Rigs. They pursued violators aggressively.
Once Drauger eliminated the legal Core trade, a thriving black market evolved to meet the high energy demands of the people. Entire communities emerged, largely driven by a desire for wealth, to participate in the new Core economy. Many began purchasing their own squads of Rigs and performing Core-runs on Europa. The men and women leading these attacks on the Kavash became known as Core Hunters, and an entire ecosystem of goods and services sprung up to support their operations. These actions were heavily embraced by the resistance who saw this new emerging market as the key to undermining Drauger’s control.
Unsurprisingly, Drauger went to great lengths to stifle access to Europa, the trade of Cores, and the economy of support gear intended to outfit Rigs and their pilots; but the company could do little to stem the rampant Core hunting counterculture. Demand for energy was simply too high, and for many the prospect of becoming Core Hunters on Europa had become a romanticized fantasy. The reality, however, was much darker and more dangerous.
Core Hunting is a serious business. Rig pilots get at best fifteen minutes to complete their operations before the Kavash forces become overwhelming. Each Core is worth a great deal, so it is crucial to escape with as many as possible. To complicate matters, Drauger began to fund its own elite squads of Rig pilots--led by seasoned commanders--with orders to hunt down and destroy other Hunters and poach their Cores. All of these factors have contributed to a general attitude of “shoot first, ask questions later.” Individual Hunters have become very protective of their Core claims and show zero-tolerance to rivals. Predictably, this thrilling, deadly atmosphere has produced a notion that Hunters are rogues and scoundrels (a reputation that many Hunters embrace), and some have even capitalized on this to become celebrities.