A third op for what seemed to be a comedy doctrine, a wry “coming to kill you in ratting ships” statement to the sov holders in the north, seemed a bit odd to me. And this was made all the more strange as Asher is not one to nail his colors to a set doctrine, especially one that doesn’t have enough cargo space for a mobile depot, a full set of module refits, and a drag bubble. (A concept represented here in meme form)
I suppose a cargo hold full of extra drones might count as refits. Maybe.
But there we were last night, undocking in our VNIs, loaded with drones, and off to fight over timer on another one of the citadels that had been scattered about the north for just such a purpose. We keep this up and people will start copying this doctrine soon.
Resupplied with drones, drugs, and fresh hulls for those who lost theirs the night before, we undocked and got on a titan, pilots from TNT increasing our numbers, to wait for our bridge into the fight.
Of course, that time PH fought the battle themselves and the odds… at least in the number of ships, leaving aside we were in cruisers and they were in battleships… were as close to even as makes no difference.
This time we jumped into DW-T2I to find that PH had called up their local friends, the effectively blue neutrals (bluetrals), to ensure things went their way. The numbers were stacked heavily against our VNI fleet when we arrived and tethered up on one of our citadels in the system. There were an array of fleets from PH, Guardians of the Galaxy Coalition, and Mordus Angels in the system, ranging from destroyers to capitals. The directional scan from Moomin did not look good for us.
As Asher assessed the situation for us on coms it sounded like we were just going to give it a pass and go home. Then the timer for the Astrahus came out and the gunner, Gennel, who had successfully made the hostiles pay for getting to close to his weapons in the past, started pasting hostile force auxiliaries that had nonchalantly gone into triage mode within his reach, with an Apostle exploding almost immediately.
Taking out the support that the capitals had brought with them and scaring them off the Astrahus grid seemed to change the situation for Asher and we were called to align then warped to the now besieged citadel. We were safely tethered there when he called for us to anchor on him with propulsion modules on. We launched drones, unthethered, and began hitting Tempest Fleet Issue fleet that GotG had brought.
A quick dozen targets were taken out and we were feeling pretty good about things. Our speed and low signature kept us reasonably safe while our drones chopped up one target after another.
A bombing run caught us at one point, but did not hit us full on, so we kept going. We were still clearly going to lose the Astrahus, but we seemed on the path towards extracting greater value in ISK from the enemy in faction battleships and force auxiliaries.
The hostiles were not done escalating however and we soon saw titans with a large group of force auxiliaries in support drop on grid with us.
Asher aligned us off to a safe to let our weapons timers run down, then put us on a citadel, our drones left behind as we exited the scene. Titans were definitely not within the realm of possibility for us, and certainly not ones that might be mounting any of the fun new anti-subcap doomsday weapons.
Asher had us dock up and reload our drone bays to replace any lost or left behind drones while the titans hit the Astrahus.
That is, of course, the problem with running into somebody elses’ home turf. They have the opportunity to drop anything they have to hand on your, including supers. We had that issue during the operations in Hakonen back during the summer.
Asher had us align back and we landed on the soon-to-be-destroyed Astrahus, tethered again, and anchored up for another run at targets of opportunity. We had to warp out almost immediately, causing some of us to lose drones (I was lucky to get 4 out of 5 back). We landed, aligned back, and gave it another try. With drones launched again we were able to knock out another half-dozen GotG TFIs and got to see the Astrahus gunner pick off an fax in the midst of the titan ball.
All that would have been well and good, but along the way a Hurricane fleet that had come all the way up from Delve to join us in the fight arrived and basically fed the enemy 70 kills, including some very expensive implant pods. That slave set didn’t really help.
Local was actually up beyond 700 people at its peak and time dilation kicked in, dipping to under 20% speed at times. But by that point the fight had passed its crescendo for us. We ended up warping to safes, leaving behind more drones, then docking up in one of our remaining citadels as the titans finished their work.
We waited a bit for things to settle down, then took gates home, unmolested by any of the defending forces who were still about.
Our little fleet did fairly well. We lost less that 20 ships, including support, and inflicted some damage on the Tempest Fleet Issues on grid. However, in the final accounting of the battle over at zKillboard, all of the usual measures went against us. We lost the objective, with the defended Astrahus, plus two citadels coming online, all destroyed. (The Astrahus only had supers on its kill mail.) Meanwhile the ISK war went badly for us once you count in the destroyed Hurricane fleet which totaled up to nearly 6 billion ISK in ships and a further six billion ISK in pods. (Okay, not every expensive pod was in their fleet, but they own the lion’s share of that loss.) And we simply lost more ships overall, again with the Hurricane fleet providing the bulk of that metric.
And yet it still felt like a win to us. Our little fleet, about 100 ships all told, heavily outnumbered, and with no chance of changing the eventual outcome, sailed into harms way and gave better than it took. Sometimes a desperate fight you know you’re going to lose is more fun than the objective outcome would make it.
Anyway, time to restock drones in my drone bay in case the VNIs fly again.