Well, it was a short visit for me.
The highlight of weekend fleet ops up until Saturday evening had been flying around Black Rise to pop a couple of Black Legion faction battleships with DBRB. I hadn’t been in one of his fleets in ages, and it was good to see that he hasn’t calmed down at all. The best moment during that op was when he had us on a gate, yelling into coms that the hostiles were on the other side and jumping through, only to discover we were on the wrong gate. All those low sec names look alike.
Things were quiet on Saturday afternoon until the call went out to form up to take on some hostiles out in Cloud Ring who were hitting one of our towers. We were going to head out in Tengu fleet, though we had to go through the usual round of trying to get enough Scimitars and boosters before we could get on our way. Having gotten on my share of kill mails for the month, I joined up in a Scimitar to help keep the fleet alive.
I figured something interesting must be going on as when I undocked to join the fleet at the staging POS, there was a huge lump of capital ships undocking as well.
We had to sit in the POS and be cajoled for a while until the fleet composition settled down into something useful before we headed out and down the “so familiar I could fly it in my sleep” pipe from Deklein to Cloud Ring. After nearly three years in null, I think I have finally flipped over and systems with seemingly random letters and numbers as designators seem normal while systems with actual names seem odd.
We got into the region and held a couple of gates out. I gather we were waiting for our own caps to get into the system. Eventually we moved into F7C-H0 as well though, and dropped into the fight under heavy TiDi. The main fight seemed to be a slugging match between capital ships, but there were plenty of sub caps running around as well. Our personal nemesis seemed to be a fleet of rapid light missile launcher fit Cerberuses. (fit) Those seem to be the counter to our Harpy fleet doctrine, but they seemed to do equally well in a mass against our Tengu fleet Scimitars and Scythes. They were able to lock up and alpha Scimis off the field before we could get reps on them. And so when my name came up as a target, I could see that mass of ships yellow boxing me, meaning that they were locking me up as a target, at which point I called for shield reps. But before help for me could arrive, the boxes went red and the missiles began to hit.
And soon I was in a pod in the middle of the battle, my Scimitar having exploded.
I had about a minute of peace as I tried to move towards the edge of the bubbles with an eye to warping off when I got caught and was sent quickly home to our staging system at YAO.
The battle was still in full swing, and my first reaction was to just jump into another Scimitar and head back towards the fight. I knew the route after all, and a Scimi can be swift. But that way lies madness and gate camps, so I reigned in my enthusiasm and took stock of the situation. A Harpy fleet had just gone out (soon to pay the price in facing those Cerebruses), and was far enough away that I wasn’t going to catch them.
However, a Baltec fleet was forming up. That meant swapping to an armor doctrine ship. As usual, logistics was in demand so I went with an Oneiros. I wasn’t in the right clone to fly the Apocalypse battleship, the mainstay of the fleet, in any case. It needs an implant. The joys of clone juggling. Anyway, we got out there on the titan, as fleet boosters were obtained and logistics pilots were recruited (including any number of dead Tengu fleet logi pilots), and sat.
We ended up just sitting for about an hour before we got our participation link and were stood down. We were, it seems, just a fleet in being, there to show the hostiles that we had more forces to drop on them should they pursue our withdrawal from the battle.
The whole thing was apparently a trap to lure out some CFC capital ships to kill. While much of the CFC leadership was hanging out at EVE Vegas (here are Elo Knight and The Mittani, something I linked in fleet during the op) Black Legion and N3 set their plans in motion, and we stepped right into it. (Rumor has it that the leadership in Vegas were all hovering over Skymarshal Blawrf and his laptop at one point to find out what was going on while they were away.) The ISK war was tilted heavily in their favor, though they did not leave unscathed, losing some caps of their own. The battle report sums it up as such:
Long time gaming pal Gaff, who just returned to EVE Online last week, managed to get on kill mails for ten hostile dreadnoughts before losing his Archon in the fight. He was almost all the way into the POS shields as the capital fleet pulled back when he went into structure and exploded.
And so it goes. Another big fight in before the November 4 Phoebe expansion turns operations like that from a two jump flit for capitals (16 ly covered from YA0 to F7C according to DOTLAN) to a 20 gate slow march through TiDi.
The two competing EVE Online news sites both have battle reports up.
Meanwhile I have, as usual, a few screen shots from my own short time on grid. You can just see the ball of Cerberuses that killed me in that last picture.