We are suddenly living in interesting times in New Eden. Change is coming. A lot of people think they know how things will play out, but when CCP is telling people that they cannot predict the results, it can be hard to tell which pundit has some deep insight versus just some wishful thinking.
In addition to my own minor predictions, I am going to guess that, over the next few weeks, we will be witnessing the last hurrah of easy jump drive and jump bridge travel. The Phoebe expansion and its huge travel changes, expected to drop in early November, looms and all good pilots in New Eden are at least making contingency plans. The wise are making sure all their jump clone related skills are up to snuff. The traders are stockpiling goods, the industrialists materials. Those needing to have stuff shipped are doing it now rather than later, as shipping charges are expected to jump. And I am willing to bet that alliances with supercapital heavy doctrines will be looking to get in some last-minute cross-region hot drops.
And those of us who have been flying subcaps back and forth across half the galaxy in order to defend the empire… we’ll be eager to do a few last farewell flings across space as well.
So it was Saturday when Reagalan put out a ping on Jabber that he would be doing something hilarious and that he had a fleet up, but that the doctrine was as yet undecided.
Once nearly 200 people showed up and piled in on that promise, it was time to pick ships. Reagalan wanted to go with the new Hawk fleet doctrine which he has been championing, however logistics held us back. There just weren’t any Hawks up on contract. Some of us had them, but most of the fleet did not. So the doctrine was changed to Harpy fleet, while asking some people to stay with Hawks to give us some more tacklers. I opted for a Harpy because I happened to have three in the station, so I figured I might as well lose something I already had backup on. Besides which, as I found out with Sunday’s fight, the Hawk fleet configuration changed a bit and my Hawk needed to be refit to be brought up to date.
The act of nearly 200 of us swapping ships brought up TiDi in the system. CCP is going to have to put some more CPU power behind our new home, what with fleet assemblies and Black Legion coming to visit.
Once shipped, it was time to undock and head out to… wherever it was we were going.
That was some more TiDi, as was the move through the first few gates. Other ops were likely in progress.
We started down a route I had not previously been aware of, and Reagalan had been very quiet about our actual destination, no doubt in the name of operational security. But eventually he had to tell us where we were headed. We ended up joining the old convoy route to Fountain, and by the time we got to J5A he had put NOL-M9 in as a destination for fleet. We were headed to Delve.
Which was something of a pisser. I have a jump clone and the correct doctrine ship down in Delve. I could have just landed down there and waited for everybody else to take the jump bridge highway from Deklein.
That is the problem with op sec. You can’t just ping that you want people for form up in YA0 and then add in the bit about jump cloning to Delve if you’re trying to keep the hostiles from being totally aware that you are coming. So my jump clone sat unused, still saved for a rainy day, or Phoebe, whichever comes first. I suppose I did get to update some jump bridge bookmarks. The Oceanus expansion last week changed the rules a bit on where jump bridges could be anchored, so some of them had to move, obsoleting some bookmarks.
We were headed to Delve to support our southern cousins in the CFC. FA had a fleet coming from Fountain, while the LAWN gnomes were forming up along with The Initiative to defend their turf. A tower in NPC null had been put in reinforce so there was going to be a timer fight and Black Legion, also crossing the galaxy for a fight, was expected to be there. Time for a bit of pay back for our losses at YA0 Thursday evening. We had to fart about a bit camping a gate to see if we could grab anybody headed to the fight, but eventually we jumped into G-TT5V, warped to the tower in question, and found a fight in progress.
We were a little far off from the fight, so Reagalan warped us off and then back on top of Black Legion where we anchored up and started in. Bubbles went up around the fight. The numbers were in our favor, so the key to things was to pin them down, kill off their logistics, and then chop them up one by one.
As a percentage of their force, their logistics was not as prevalent as they were at YA0 two days before, and they did not seem to be as well coordinated. This may have been due to there being different fleets calling different targets, thus spreading the Scimitar reps more thinly. Whatever it was, we were able to start breaking the tanks on their Scimitars, and pretty soon they were going down as quickly as we could lock them up and start shooting. With support down, our path to juicier targets was clear.
Black Legion had three Chimera carriers on the field, which we proceeded to target and turn to scrap one by one.
Three carriers down and the battle was really going our way. Without logistics to support them, bubbled up and unable to flee, the Tengus were meat before us, waiting to be consumed.
And then, as we were laying down another round of bubbles on Black Legion, some allied stealth bombers dropped on the Tengus and bombed them. This was unfortunate, as they did not have nearly the firepower to do more than scratch the Black Legion fleet, but they had more than enough blast to clear away the bubbles. The Tengus, already burning to get out of the bubbles, was clear to warp away.
There was some chasing about. We managed to drop on and tackle one hostile in an asteroid belt.
But Black Legion had freedom of action and was able to dock up in the Blood Raiders station in system to avoid further loss.
We kept the station under guard while the other fleets finished up their business and withdrew. The most expendable fleet gets to fly cover while the more expensive assets pull out.
We sat outside and made chicken sounds and attempted to goad Black Legion into undocking, but Elo Knight merely responded in local that sticks and stones might break his Tengus, but words would never hurt him. At least I think that is when he uttered those words. That might have happened on Sunday when we had him holed up in the station at 5ZXX-K. I forget which.
Once everybody was clear, we were able to withdraw and get on the jump bridge highway back to the north. Our movements may be hampered come November, but it is still October. Black Legion also headed north. As noted in the previous post, we ended up facing them along with Nulli Secunda in Pure Blind just a day later, and then again later that night up in Deklein. They were not able to repeat their performance at YA0 and the Sunday night brawl devolved into us chasing their Ishtars all over 2R-CRW in Hawks while they tried to escape.
But the fight at G-TT5V at least got a little payment back for YA0, with the ISK war tilted in our favor this time according to the battle report.
A lot of our losses were wrapped up in a Naglfar that The Initiative threw into the brawl to hit the Black Legion carriers. Being fixated on my own little corner of the battle, I completely missed the dreads dropping in to assist.
For a wider view of the battle, what it was about, who did what, and so on, there is a post up over at TMC by Arrendis, who was also our anchor for the main part of the fight.
I expect, with Black Legion, Nulli Secunda, and a few other groups now in the north to take advantage of the last few weeks of easy travel in null sec, that we will have more fights on our hands . The final days before Phoebe will be bloody because nobody is really sure what we will be doing once the travel changes clamp down. So we will take our fun while we can get it.