VNI Victory in Fade

I HATE this kind of BR because it looks like we didn’t fight a lot of guys but what actually happened was they didn’t kill anything and the only living ships on the BR from their side are the ones that smartbombed their own ships that did die.

-Asher Elias, post-op ping

I have been slacking on the New Eden front of late.  I haven’t really logged on since that mid-November hot drop up north.  Things to do, pet battles to fight, and so on.

It already being a week into December I figured I had best check in and at least see what was going on.  As it turned out I got back in Jabber at an opportune moment.  Not only were we still deployed up north, so I was parked in the right station still, an op had just been announced.   Going along on the op would require me to purchase a new ship however.  The Vexor Navy Issue was the ship of choice.

The VNI, as it is commonly called, is a faction cruiser, a drone boat, and, in my experience, often the favored ship of low budget ratters in null sec who take on anomalies with the doughty little craft.

A VNI in station showing its distinctive color scheme

It has enough speed and shields when fit correctly to survive forsaken hubs and the like, but it isn’t a hard target.  Those who come into our space to hunt ratters often choose to go after VNI pilots because they are viewed as easy kills if they get caught unaware.

But the VNI is cheap… well, cheaper than an Ishtar and much cheaper than a carrier… so if you get a few anoms in the ship has paid for itself and you can afford to get another one.

So not exactly a combat ship of the line in my experience.  But Asher always has something new going on and I’ll buy into whatever doctrine he has in mind just to be able to go along for the ride.  There were some up on GSF alliance contract so I got somebody to buy me one in advance so I would be ready.

Being me I also looked to see if I had a SKIN for the VNI.  Oddly… or perhaps not… I had no SKINs for that hull.  While the VNI is actually a sharp looking ship, I always like to look a bit different.  However, out in the deployment station there weren’t any SKINs on the market for the VNI.  But CCP has a new SKIN set for Gallente up in the New Eden Store, the Kopis Edge style.  Somebody described the look as Gallente trying to disguise themselves as Amarr, but the cruiser SKIN was only 55 PLEX so I bought one and activated it.

Khopis Edge VNI

I got myself set for the op then busied myself with other things.  As I waited I saw a ping come up for a TNT op.  My alliance is also up north, though hanging out in a different system.  They too were calling for a VNI fleet, which made me wonder if the null sec meta had changed in some way since I had last been on.  Two separate VNI ops on the same night, though the TNT op was forming a good 30 mins before the Reaver op.

Of course there wasn’t really two ops as I found out a little later, but a single op.  My alliance and my SIG were joining forces for a fight.  The destination was DW-T2I in the Fade region where the Imperium had dropped an Astrahus to annoy the locals, in this case Pandemic Horde, and force them to come out and fight.  Dropping on their ratters and miners wasn’t enough, we wanted to shoot them in larger numbers.

As our op came together TNT made their way to us and we joined up on the way the the target system.  There we found the friendly citadel already into its timer with a PH Tempest fleet, supported by some anti-bomber destroyers, already hitting it, the timer paused at 11m 49s.

The state of things on our arrival

We landed on the citadel and tethered up.  After getting ourselves together and anchored on Asher, he had us drop sentry drones in small groups around the Astrahus.  When everybody had their drones deployed we were given a target to lock up and began shooting.

One, two, three, four, the hostile logi, tech II Guardians, were blown up as the Astrahus gunner joined in with void bombs and points when he could.  The hostile response was to try and pick off some of our drones and to smart bomb, presumably to shake off any tackle that might come their way.  Our drones were not going to come get them.  Sentry drones are immobile.

PH smartboming away

They managed to wipe out some of their own logi support with the smart bombs, but not much else.  After we shredded their logistics support they turned and warped off.  A few stragglers were tackled and blown up, but most got away.  Our losses so far were a single Sabre against 8 Guardians, a Damnation command ship, a Tempest, a Loki, and a Stiletto.

A good exchange from our perspective.

A gaggle of Mordus Legion Cormorants showed up about then and tried to take a shot at us. But after losing a couple of their ships for none impact on us they buggered off and found a wormhole to Delve where I understand they found a warm reception.

There was still time to go before the Citadel would be safe, and Asher figured they would be back with their Tempest fleet, this time with force auxiliary support to keep them from getting popped.   So he had us dock up, abandoning our sentry drones for the moment, but leaving them all on grid, and swap in some heavy drones in our bays.

The sentry drone menace still on grid

We then undocked and resumed our lolling about the citadel, anchored on Asher, waiting to see if they would return as expected.

Crowd of VNIs anchored up

Pandemic Horde did show up again as expected, their Tempest fleet landing at range to keep away from the sentry drones.  The began firing, pausing the citadel timer again, this time with just under a minute to go.

Not much time left…

We turned for them and launched heavy drones this time, sending them after the hostiles before their fax support showed up.  But no force auxiliaries ever arrived.  They were back with the remains of their force just to see if they could find an angle to hit the Astrahus without us killing them.

That plan proved to be futile.  We knocked out a Loki first as they tried to head shot Asher.

Their Loki going down to drones

After that we began to chew up the Tempests again.  They started to smartbomb but were far enough apart, and their caps were denuded by several well placed void bombs, that it was not seem very effective.  Half a dozen Tempests went down before the rest escaped.

A Tempest about to explode

They left behind their own drones, which we mopped up, leaving the field to us.

An Acolyte II’s shield flaring from hits

Meanwhile the citadel timer ran down so it was safe for the next six days.

Safe for now

All told, according to the battle report, we popped 45 enemy ships… well, they killed a few of their own, but we’ll claim them… worth about 6.2 billion ISK for the loss of a single interdictor.

Unfortunately, as Asher noted in the quote at the top of the post, since they barely killed anything besides their own ships, only those we blew up and those that smartbombed their own comrades appear, plus whoever got our dictor.

From there we were able to head home, enjoying Asher’s joke, which was to fight them in the same sort of ratting ships they are usually flying when we hunt them.

Later we went hunting for their VNIs in interceptors and I got popped by a Serpentis dreadnought.  I learned that they will point and neut you pretty fast, and all the more so if you boost your signature by lighting your microwarp drive so he can target you faster.  You live and learn… or die and learn.  I did get my pod back home in one piece, denying the an easy kill I suppose.

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