I am not sure how the fight began. I am not sure who was fighting whom. All of that is part of the bigger picture, into which I am generally not plugged. And in this case, it wasn’t even a CFC fight, we were just there for targets of opportunity and to support some people we aren’t really allied with (they aren’t blue to us, but they are not red either) against some other people who I know we aren’t allied with (they are red to us).
I am not even sure when the fighting began. I saw something come up on the RSS feed from EVE News 24 as I was eating my lunch at the office. And there was something on Twitter from EVE-Kill.net.
Down in Catch, a region in the south of New Eden, a timer had run down in KW-I6T, the last Nulli Secunda system in the region. And they were going to fight for it. (Okay, if you want to know all that, there is a summary over at The Mittani. But I didn’t know any of it until after the fight.)
It was one of those fights that snowballed, bringing in capital ships and supercapitals, as it kept on going and going.
It was still going when I got home from work and Gaff IM’d me asking if I was going to try to get down and join the CFC contingent already engaged. I didn’t think that I was going to get down there on my own, so I looked in on the streams. Both Mad Ani and Dabigredboat were broadcasting, though I had to go with Boat because not only was he also leading a fleet (the man can multitask without any degradation to his level of performance… what that level is, of course, is the question up for debate), but he was playing some of the best/worst 80s pop music I could imagine on his stream.
Then around 5pm my time, a call went out for a reinforcement fleet to head to the fight. Reagalan already had a Baltec fleet down in the fight.
They were on grid with an Erebus titan that they had bubbled and were slowly bumping away from its triage carrier support. (Diagram of this effort at TMC.) They fully planned a titan bonfire that night and we were going to fly on down there to help out. So a fleet went up under Kari Trace with a rally point in 4-EP12.
More words and pictures after the cut.
About that rally point.
4-EP is up in Fountain, which isn’t exactly next door to Catch. But it is closer than VFK-IV and the rest of Deklein, and 4-EP was our final staging system during the war in Fountain, so there was an expectation of ships and supplies being on hand. We had actually been told to leave doctrine ships in the system… only that message came out about two days after most of us moved our stuff back to Deklein.
I logged in, jump cloned from high sec, where I was sitting in my +4 implant clone to speed up training Amarr Carrier IV, to 4-EP. I was sure I had some ships left over there.
And I did.
Just not anything for the Baltec fleet doctrine. I had all sorts of shield logistics, a couple Harpies, a blockade runner, a Caracal, and my insta-Cane, a Hurricane battlecruiser fit to lock up and shoot small-ish targets quickly. But nothing that quite fit the Baltec fleet doctrine. I was tempted to take the ‘cane, but we get pressure to conform to doctrine for coalition fleets. And there were a couple of Baltec Megathrons on contract. Well, mostly Baltec. I bought the one with no guns and no ammo, paid through the nose for the last 7 tech II rail guns in the system (which probably came off that ship) and scrounged around for some more missing parts.
The market had lapsed somewhat and I was only able to put together enough items to be mostly sure I would get reimbursed if I lost the ship. I was mostly short on ammo types and there wasn’t a cap booster to be had. And I fully expected to lose the ship. These sorts of ventures are usually one-way propositions for most of the fleet. So I bought the full insurance plan. 300 million ISK later, I was shipped.
That in hand, I joined the fleet, which was up to 19 people at that point and then began the wait. Kari wanted to wait until he had 50 people. He also wanted more logistics, but there wasn’t an Onerios to be had anywhere close by. (Plus I just bought and insured that damn Megathron.) There were some Guardians around, but I didn’t have Amarr cruiser V, so I couldn’t fly one. Then somebody needed to fly in a ship in a carrier, so we needed a cyno, but nobody had a cyno ship handy. We got that straightened out, lit the cyno, the carrier dropped in and docked, and then the pilot realized he bought and fit a ship, but forgot to put it in the hangar bay, so still needed to find a ship. More people showed up assuming there would be ships on contract to buy, which there were not. We had to find somebody to scout, but there seemed to be a mutually exclusive situation where people in appropriate ships did not have microphones to speak on comms. Finally we got that sorted. And then Kari said he needed a smoke break and that we would finally leave after that.
So after about an hour of trying to get ourselves straightened out, there were 33 people in fleet and we were going to go. We undocked, formed up at the jump bridge, the command was given, and we jumped through. There were 19 of us on the other side a minute later.
It is pretty normal for a fleet to take off a leave people behind. People go AFK, get distracted in other windows, are still trying to make it to the rally point, or are just spies looking for intel in fleet chat. But to lose more than a third of the fleet on the first jump, that is a bit extreme. People were waking up though, a few people hadn’t made the rally point yet or were AFK. Slowly people caught up as we moved along. I felt sorry for the guy we caught up with us coming up from Delve, since we were headed that way and he could have stayed in 1DH and waited.
Getting down to Delve and then into our Querious staging system in F2OY-X was uneventful. Fountain has jump bridges to shorten the route and both Fountain and Delve are pretty quiet these days. There was one set of bubbles in PR-8CA, but that was it. In F2O, we set our next destination, which was W9-DID, a system next to KW-I6T. By this point in the battle, CCP had successfully isolated KW-I6T on its own node, so there was little or no time dilation on the trip there. Getting to an adjacent system was just a matter of the usual travel burdens.
So we set are destination and half the fleet said, “WTF?” because the route planner was sending us on a 48 jump grand tour of high sec due to the “safest route” option being set. I brought up the Razor travel tool in the in-game browser which showed me the more direct route, just 29 jumps. And the first jump was back to 1DH, which confused most of the fleet as well. Again, we got ourselves pointed in the right direction and started up the pipe to high sec, where we would cross through and then head back into null sec.
The pipe was generally clear. As we lumbered forward, the last few people running behind caught up, bringing our total up to about 25 ships.
Along the way we got a bit of a treat. Our scout, one jump ahead in T8H-66 spotted a hostile Vagabond traveling the other direction. So we held up on the gate in 7V-KHW and waited for him to jump through.
I am sure it was one of those pants loading moments for the poor pilot. He jumped from a system with one non-vis hostile and right into a pack of Megathrons. He was tackled and blown up. I was actually on the ball and got on the kill mail.
At that point the op was declared a success. We got a kill. We were totally winning the ISK war!
So we moved on.
As we got closer to our high sec transit, it came out that one pilot in the fleet had -10.0 standings, and so was likely to be blown up by CONCORD in Arzanni, a 0.6 system we had to fly through if he was in a slow ship like a Megathron. And, of course, he was in a Megathron.
A check of alternate routes showed that we would have to travel into the vicinity of Hell and back to get to the fight, so we started looking for somebody he could swap ships with. The first attempt was with somebody who ended up not being able to fly the Megathron. (Doh!) The next swap was for a Hurricane (I knew I should have brought my insta-cane!). And even then, one of the pilots could fly the other ship, but not with all the guns online. So those had to be offlined. Finally, after far too much mucking about, we made the jumps through high sec and into HED-GP, the first system in null sec Catch. Our -10.0 pilot had no problems.
HED-GP is kind of an unusual system, being a null sec system adjacent to high sec, with no low sec systems in between. Of course, it is always camped. There were drag bubbles around the gate to catch people trying to crash through to the safety of high sec. Various hostiles warped in to perches around the gate to eyeball us. Things were mildly tense, so Kari moved us around the bubbles, bounced us off a celestial, and then got us to the gate and the next system before he started the reverse ship swap.
There we sat at a planet while ships were swapped and guns were slowly brought back online. Finally we were set to go. We pressed on to our destination.
Around 2J-WJY we ran into a Brave Newbies fleet. A big fight like the one going down in KW-I6T means reinforcements and stragglers, so the routes in are always camped by groups looking for more modest fights. Brave Newbies ran over from Providence to find some action, and were in our way with a fleet of destroyers and frigates that was large enough to potentially cause us some problems. We were posturing around a gate and wondering whether to jump into yet another group on the other side with Ishtars when another CFC reinforcement fleet showed up, doubling our numbers. Once we established communication with them, we were able to move together in a force big enough to get a free pass.
So it was on to the fight! And in a few jumps, were were on the gate into KW-I6T. It was about two and a half hours since we started forming up, back when we were told that they had an Erebus titan trapped, being bumped, and into armor. You would think that would have been over by now.
oh yeah i'll take my aeon on this fleet
But thanks to the magic of time dilation, while we spent more than 150 minutes getting to the fight, the fight system was running at 10% speed, so a mere 15 minutes of game measured time had gone by for the fight. That is one of the side effects of TiDi. Those in the fight slog along at slow speed while reinforcements are moving ten times as fast.
At the gate we all moved into Reagalan’s fleet, thanks Kari for getting us there, moved into the new voice coms channel, and then jumped into KW-I6T.
Or tired to, in any case. For the next 30-40 minutes, not much happened. I was one of the “lucky” ones from our fleet. I managed to land on grid in KW-I6T and so was spared the ongoing warp tunnel graphic for the duration. But once through, nothing was responding. Reagalan gave us instructions, who to jump to, how to approach the titan, how to set up to bump it. He told us that it was down to ~40% shields, that while it was being repped, we had bumped it almost out of range of its support. With just a little more effort we would get it moved and all be graced with the glory of being on a titan kill mail.
But nothing happened. The game continued in a horrible lag with no response to any command. Modules wouldn’t activate, ships wouldn’t move, scanners wouldn’t run, nothing was happening. Chat though… whatever subsystem runs chat was still going strong as people vented their frustration into local.
When I got into the system, local showed ~1,300 people. That slowly dropped as people got messages about being timed out. After the 30-40 minute period of “nothing happening” that number was getting close to 1,000. And then the moment came. Local began to drop precipitously, in lots of 50 or 100. Everybody was getting dumped. A few people reported being able to hang on, but local reportedly dropped to ~100 people before it stopped.
We all logged back in as quickly as we could. We were moving again. TiDi was back down to 10%. But we were all warping back from those safe locations the game sends you to when you get disconnected. So we were all dumped safely out of game. However, that included the Erebus titan that was our target. And that pilot wisely opted not to log back in. He was gone from the bubbles. There would be no titan kill glory for us.
Most of us were able to get to Reagalan and the main fleet at that point. There was an Archon that happened to log back in right in front of some of the fleet, so there was a carrier kill for some. I did not get on that. Thirsting for blood and in the middle of a bunch of potential targets, I picked a red tagged pod and sent my drones after it. I was going to get some sort of kill out of this, and I figured it was an -A- pilot so I was safe. The last I heard we were shooting them.
Of course, a few minutes later Reagalan told us not to shoot anybody from -A- or a couple other alliances, as they were our nominal allies in this fight. There was some sort of distinction between “good” Russians and “bad” Russians and so forth. All I know is that I shot the wrong guy.
Oops. Sorry dude!
I take solace in the fact that he got home a lot quicker than a lot of us and that we got smart bombed repeatedly right after that, so he was probably a dead man in any case.
At that point, with no big targets and hours having gone by for even those of us newly on grid, Reagalan decided it was time to take us home. We bounced around the system a bit and managed to bubble ourselves.
But eventually we got out. He set the fleet destination for G-0Q86 and we started off. A couple of jumps into the trip, I realized that something about that system name was very familiar. At first I dismissed it as just one of those usual locations. But then I realized we were headed to goddam Curse.
I finally got my ass the hell out of Curse last week and had no desire to go back. Certainly not with a big, fat, fully insured Megathron to either abandon or fly home. I was getting off that bus at the next stop.
A few people shared my view on heading to Curse. The nearest “safe” location was back to high sec space. But that would take us through HED-GP and the inevitable post-battle camp for stragglers. Hoping that we had enough and, frankly not really caring about losing a ship this long into the affair, I tagged along with the loose group headed for high sec.
We bounced through a few systems without issue, then came to HED-GP. I tried to route via a distant celestial in hopes of missing the drag bubbles that were still there at the gate, but they were too well placed. I dropped into them, putting me 38km off the gate. There was nothing for it but to just turn on the microwarp drive and hope to power on through should any hostiles show up.
Fortunately, nobody showed. I made it to the gate and jumped through into high sec. I would worry about getting the Megathron back to null another day. I set a course for Amarr with an eye to actually resupplying the ship to the Baltec spec so it would be ready the next time I needed it.
So not much to show for a long night flying around New Eden. “Join the CFC and see the Galaxy!” quipped Toldain on corp chat. But there was a big battle in KW-I6T. The stats show it to be the most violent system in the last 24 hours, along with the systems around it and on the way to it, including HED-GP. (Data, as always, via DOTLAN EVE Maps.)
And the activity graphs for the system show a lot of activity.
The system itself remains in Nulli Secunda hands. How long that will last is hard to tell. They have only had the system for a month. The various blocks in the war in the south will no doubt be clashing over it again. So if no super caps were killed yesterday, there will probably be further opportunities.
Now some pictures of dubious relevance to the story above.