The Great Wildlands, a region of NPC null sec space with only three stations, used to be very empty. I remember flying through the region for a deployment to Curse back in the day and hitting empty system after empty system. I mean, a lot of null sec is empty at any given time, but usually not in such great strips. A lot of space with no place to dock up and hide.
Then came citadels. You don’t even need fuel for a basic Astrahus, and it is much more annoying to kill one of those, with the vulnerability window and three timers, than a POS.
Suddenly you could make a home amongst the Thukkar Tribe space in the Great Wildlands. It is still crap space, since you can’t upgrade it with an ihub since it is NPC space, but it is null sec all the same. There is some value to be found there ratting and mining. Value enough for somebody to drop a Fortizar out there in the system H-8F5Q along a dead end path, no doubt hoping to escape notice.
It did not escape notice, and while I cannot speak to who did the groundwork for the first two timers, Shadow Cartel invited us out to join in the final battle over the citadel. We are deployed not too far away and were even given some help getting out to the fight via a titan jump bridge. It is always a bit dicey letting people you might otherwise shoot sit on your titan, but we were good and just took the bridge.
We showed up in Typhoons with a pair of Apostles to supplement logi support.
I had the second monitor hooked up to dual box for the fleet. I was in a Typhoon on my alt while flying a Damnation command ship for boosts on my main.
We arrived on grid after the repair timer for the Fortizar was already running, landing and anchoring up to open fire at considerable range. The idea of the Typhoons is to have max missile skills and boosts so as to be able to hit targets with cruise missiles from beyond the 250km mark.
However we could not quite achieve that mark as the pilot running the relevant boost only had command ships trained up to level 4, and every level you train adds 3% to the effectiveness of the boost. As it turned out, that last 3% was necessary, so we had to settle in and shoot at closer range, inviting the citadel, gunned and manned, to fire back on us.
We spread out around the Apostles to stay clear of the capacitor emptying void bombs the Fortizar was throwing our way.
The citadel was concentrating on the Apostle flown by Izalis.
The Fortizar was able to overwhelm any support we were able to muster for Izalis and her Apostle went down with what I would consider disconcerting speed.
In one of those twists of fate, the kill mail for the fax went to one of us. RatKnight1, who has achieved fame/notoriety on past deployments, had run his smart bomb with the rest of us to shake some small ships. He happened to have been in range of the Apostle when he did, applying some damage. When the Fortizar killed it, due to how EVE Online accounts for these things, he ended up getting credit for the final blow… and top damage. I thought that the person gunning the citadel would get credit, but I guess not. And, in a testament to the dysfunction of the system, zKillboard even credits RatKnight1 with a solo kill.
So he was hearing about that for the rest of the fleet, letting Thomas Lear off the hook from hearing about how he jumped his titan rather than bridging earlier in the week.
Losing a fax so soon in the fight was something of a blow, but we carried on, re-positioning to shoot the citadel, leaving Izalis’ first capital wreck behind.
Arrendis in our remaining fax did not get hit and was moved out of range.
We remained focused on the citadel for a while until the defenders undocked a Vexor/Vexor Navy Issue fleet with Basilisk logi support to assist in the defense of the Fortizar.
Asher took the opportunity to warp in on them and we ended up wrecking quite a few of their ships. At one point a command destroyer from the enemy fleet slipped in and used its area affect micro jump drive to boosh a few of us 100km off the fight. However, the jump was not well planned as it dropped us on top of the bulk of the sentry drones that the Vexor fleet had deployed. It was easy enough for us to activate the aforementioned smart bombs on our ships to clear away a great chunk of their supporting fire.
I was slow boating back in my Typhoon when we decided to move again and resume shooting the citadel. We warped off and got ourselves pointed towards the dying citadel.
It was at this point that we discovered the whole lock 250km lock range issue. So we left Arrendis in his Apostle and warped into range of the Fortizar again more to make sure we got on the kill mail than because our DPS was needed. With the enemy cleared from the field and some more firepower having arrived, the end was now a foregone conclusion.
We warped in, took some shots, then warped off. Asher turned us around and warped us in again, but accidentally warped at zero, landing us in the the midst of the point defense system. We left again in a hurry then warped back in at a more prudent range to get in a last few shots before the Fortizar started coming apart.
You can see the ball that is our fleet hanging there in front of the citadel. From that point we were about done. There were some MTUs on the field, and Asher has declared war on all MTUs, friendly or not, so they got blown up. Then we were off for home, Arrendis tagging along until he got within range to make a jump to cut a decent number of gates off of his trip. That also allowed us to speed along.
The kill mail shows 141 capsuleers involved. I tried to do a battle report, however there were so many groups represented on the field… often by just one or two pilots… that in many cases I couldn’t declare somebody for, against, or a third party. The main thing that it showed was that there were fewer than 300 pilots recorded as involved in the battle.
Basically, a battle of an objective where the forces were not totally lopsided and both sides drew blood. EVE Online working pretty well.
Pictures from the battle.