The convoy ops for the final evacuation out of Fountain had been posted on the forums and broadcast multiple times daily on Jabber over the days preceding this past weekend. Anybody who had been paying even the slightest amount of attention knew they were coming. We were headed for home in the seven regions.
I mentioned having to get my stuff together last week. Well all that warning was sufficient. I managed to slip a couple of ships out and back to Deklein during the week, I moved the couple of ships I had in TEG-SD up to 4-EP12 (I put one Celestis up on contract cheap and somebody grabbed it pretty quick), and the night before the I got my main and alt accounts setup and in the two big remaining ships, a Dominix and a Megathron, ready for the move ops.
There were going to be three move ops on Saturday, at least from my time perspective. One at 4:30am my time, one at noon my time, and one at 7:00pm my time (which is actually Sunday EVE Online time, since the game runs on UTC), each passing through the same set of systems to pick people up along the way, starting in Sakht and ending in B-DBYQ, hitting each of the staging systems in between, before heading along the most direct path home.
The purpose of a move op is to for a fleet massive enough that it won’t be viewed as a target of opportunity at gate camps and such. ~200 ships makes for a tough nut to crack unless you plan for it.
I was tempted to try and get into the first move op. I wasn’t going to get up at 4:30am, but I knew from past experience that move ops tend to be slow. The idea isn’t just to get somewhere, but to get everybody in the op home safely. That means you wait for people who disconnect or who get lost or who somehow fall a system or two behind. It is a job more for a shepherd than a fleet commander. And 4-EP12 is one of the last systems on the list, so I would have a lot of time before the op got there.
I also knew that our cats would wake me up at some point around 6am because they still don’t quite get the concept of “weekends” and get worried I might miss work if I am still in bed then. And, true to form, our cat Rigby got on the bed and started meowing at me around 6am, waking me up. I immediately… okay, maybe slowly… got up, walked down the hall to my office, booted up my computer, and got into EVE Online. However, things appeared to be moving apace for the early op, as they had already passed my system and were actually only a couple jumps from home, all in about 90 minutes. Good speed for a move op and, I hoped, an indication of how things would go on the next op.
So it was back to bed for a bit more sleep.
I had warned my wife that there might be a two hour move op starting at noon our time, and she seemed to be okay with that. There was an event going on in our local downtown area she wanted to go to, but it didn’t start until 2pm and ran into the evening. Plenty of time.
Around 11:45am (18:45 UTC) I logged into EVE Online with both my accounts and started waiting for the fleet advert to appear. I had things ready to go and decided, since I would spend a good part of the op just sitting and waiting for it to get to me, that I would take notes with time stamps, just in case this turned into a trail of tears op.
Game to blog, blog to game and all that.
So from this point forward, everything will be in reference to something I noted, with a time stamp in UTC. I am also going to put in a cut here because of many words and a pile of screen shots.