The battle had been raging for a while when I sat down at my computer and saw a list of pings from Blawrf McTaggart, CFC Skymarshall. Most of them were old enough to discard, fleets long since off to the races, and trying to catch up by yourself is a mugs game. But the last one was only six minutes old, a call to get into a reinforcement fleet and get on a titan for a bridge into the current fight.
Multiple doctrines were being called up; Harpies, Celestis, and Apocalypses were in demand. I was in my high sec implant clone, still working away at my leadership training plan, but my timer had run down and I was clear to clone jump immediately. So it was back to my clone in F2OY-X where I jumped into my Apoc, primarily because I had the power grid implant needed to fly the doctrine fit already installed in the clone, and if I was going to lose it I figured I might as well lose it in the ship I need it for.
I was on the bounce right away, into the fleet with the titan to get a bridge, undock, enter the POS password, warp to the titan at 10km so as not to bump it, into the bubble, and then a quick burst of speed with the microwarp drive to get in range because the bridge was already up and I didn’t want to have to wait around for the next group to form up and get bridged.
We landed in A-ELE2 and things slowed way, way down. There were about 1,100 people in the system and TiDi had everything running at 10% of normal speed.
A-ELE2 is not that far away from our staging system in F2OY-X, but it is in the hot zone corner of Delve, the NPC null sec, where our foes are staged and where there are often camps and where a lot of the action happens.
I dropped the reinforcement fleet and changed com channels to find out what the Baltec fleet was doing. Reagalan’s was the FC and he was calling targets already. It was time to get out there, but servers were balking at doing anything. It took half a dozen tries to get into fleet even though there was space available and then it was time for the long, slow warp to join the battle.
Landing on grid was agonizing. My ship seemed to spend an eternity stopped at the battle but still in warp. I could see the targets being broadcast, they were in my overview, but I could not lock them up because I was still flagged as being in warp. Finally, the server relented and I was back in normal space and able to engage targets. Despite TiDi, the enemy, a host of Black Legion Augoror Navy Issues were in a bubble and going down fast. Locking a target took ages, and when you finally got somebody locked they would appear to be only lightly damaged before suddenly blinking out in the familiar destroyed sequence. They cycle time of my lasers was the gating factor for kills. I launched some drones and got those into action to give myself an additional way to deal damage… and to whore on kill mails.
Reagalan had the fleet orbiting the POS tower, which is at the very center of the defensive bubble/shield, at just enough range to be outside of the bubble and able to fire, but also able to duck back in and become immune should they get targeted. After the action, Reagalan asked how many pilots managed to pull off this maneuver, and there was quite a show of hands. That, and reports shared with us about Black Legion complaining about us constantly blowing up their anchor or target caller because we had a spy in their midst, seemed to be tiling things our way.
And then, as often is the case, Black Legion got free of the bubbles and warped off, leaving us alone in space orbiting the POS with no targets. TiDi dropped from the heart crushing 10% to a bearable range as the server was no longer having to keep track of hundreds of ships moving and locking and firing and taking damage.
We sat there for a bit. There was a report of a fight at the 1DH gate, but Reagalan warned us not to just jump in willy nilly thinking we would get a few more kills. So we stayed in orbit of the POS for a bit until the time was ripe, then he warped us all off to the gate together where the Brave Newbies Moa fleet had been bubbled. Then it was a race to lock up targets again before the exploded. Reagalan was broadcasting targets, but they were popping so quickly I just took to sorting by range and locking up everything possible in hopes of getting in a shot or two. That did not last long, the Moas melting like snow under a hot sun.
Then it was back to the POS and into orbit. There was actually a very nice starburst pattern of ships as we landed in a ball on the tower and then turned on MWDs to get out of the shields and into orbit. We waited there for a while to watch the POS for any further hostiles and cover the carriers that had been sitting in a happy, self-repping ball all this time. My corp CEO was in the carrier ball, in one of two Chimeras in a sea of Archons. He wanted me to get a good shot of him, which I figured I had better do because I haven’t done much with the corp in ages. I go on strat ops and click on participation links. I don’t play with our towers, mine, do planetary interaction, or even rat much these days.
After the carriers pulled out, we headed to the 1DH gate where there was a scramble to get through as the ISboxer bombers were out and about and waiting for us to land on the gate. All those people piling on the gate caused a bunch of people to drop, so there was a long wait until people got back online, through the gate, and back with the fleet. Then it was another gate back to F2OY-X and then to the station and done.
I never did get the story as to how this fight started, except that it was over the POS where the brawl took place.
According to the battle report, there were more than 1,200 players involved with over 1,500 ships on the field over the course of the fight, with losses of nearly 48 billion ISK for both sides combined. The split in forces was 686 CFC to 528 hostiles on grid, so not excessively unbalanced. Black Legion and their allies ended up with more kills, destroying 435 ships to the 251 we blew up. On the ISK war, things tilted our way, with the hostiles losing some expensive ships.
That comes out to about 21 billion in losses for the CFC and a little over 26 billion for the hostiles. And we ended up with the POS still intact. So I guess we won.
One bit of intel that got passed along was about TEST, who apparently had 60+ Ishtars formed up at one point, but then did not join the battle. That force might have changed the ISK war if not the overall result of the battle.
Addendum: There is now a write up about the battle over at TMC.
After a quiet week or so, where I mostly collected participation links for sitting on titans by never bridging into combat, or chasing around reluctant foes when we did, it was nice to get into a stand up fight that did not involve us getting blow up in Ruptures. (Rupture doctrine is now dead.) It managed to push me over the 1,000 kill mail mark, though EVE Kill and Zkillboard cannot agree on exactly how many kill mails I have been on over the years. (And Battle Clinic says I have less than 700. No idea what the right number actually is.)
And, as usual, screen shots from the fight after the cut.
The battle at A-ELE2.