The War of the Keepstars carried on last night as the Imperium formed up in their forward base in Cloud Ring and went to… um… Aeschee… in the Essence region… to kill a Keepstar owned by Shadow Cartel, a 500 pilot low sec alliance.
That seemed odd. Not that I think we need a reason to shoot a Keepstar. If an alliance puts up a structure and cannot defend it, then it gets blown up. But we are in a war here and Essence didn’t seem like a front line region in the conflict.
However, it was explained that Shadow Cartel is a long time ally of Pandemic Legion and NCDot, not to mention one of our foes in the Casino War, so they were going to lose their citadel for being with our enemies then and now. And if PL and NCDot didn’t form up to help defend their ally, well there was a lesson to be seen in that. Plus, who isn’t going to go along for a Keepstar kill?
I was in for it and flew an interceptor over from our staging in Pure Blind to our own Keepstar in 6RCQ-V in Cloud Ring to join up with one of the fleets. I bought a Megathron so I could join up with the Baltec doctrine fleet I knew would be called. I felt like flying a DPS ship for once, and I have a nice SKIN for it.
When the ping went our for the Baltec fleet forming under Cainun I was in it quick, which was good because it filled up fast. Unfortunately it filled up with Megathrons, so Cainun first asked people to swap to logi, then started kicking battleships from the fleet in order to make room for logi. We were going up against an armed Keepstar.
So I bought an Oneiros off alliance contracts and swapped to that. I would go back to being a space priest for another fight. Meanwhile, on coms we were asked/told to keep the banter down and be quiet as all fleets would be sharing the same voice coms so Asher could direct us all. A lot of people would be on the same channel.
With not a lot of time between the form up and the Keepstar’s timer, we were undocked and waiting on a titan to be bridged out.
We could see capital ships undocking and jumping out to the first stop on the trip to Aeschee. I knew a lot of ships were on the move. But it wasn’t until we bridged out and landed at the first citadel stop that I started to appreciate how much firepower was on the way.
That is the sort of scene that makes you wonder if an Astrahus should have enough power to tether all of those ships. And, of course, the titans dwarf everything else. The capital fleet near the back seems small while you can barely see the subcaps jumping in close to the citadel.
Having done the easy part, the slog to the destination began. Low sec space tends to also be low utilization, so the nodes running them often start to stagger when a big fleet moves through, and we were several big fleets attempting to gate through the region. Time dilation quickly kicked in as we went from system to system, easily dropping to 10% when too many people went through a gate at once.
Fortunately it wasn’t too many gates until the next waypoint, but the time went slowly and I started to wonder if we would make it in time. I was watching Jebi on EVELog Twitch, one of my favorite New Eden streamers and his timer was counting down as we lumbered from gate to gate.
We arrived at another citadel where our titan friend bridged us ahead. The subcaps were first in the system on a friendly Astrahus on grid with the Keepstar.
Of course, it wasn’t subcaps only for long. Soon the titans started jumping in, landing on the Astrahus.
The titan blob blotted out the citadel, and we were not bridging everybody in yet. Asher was trying to meter the incoming traffic to keep from revving the tidi meter to 10% by piling everybody on.
When the timer finally ran down we still had people out of the system, but the titans had aligned to the Keepstar already and warped to it to start shooting at it.
The titan guns were enough to stop the timer and hit the damage cap with room to spare. It was suggest that titans ungroup their guns and fire using just a single weapon, since most of the damage was wasted anyway.
Of course some people, seeing the shooting start, panicked, fearing that they wouldn’t get on the kill mail. Like fans at a concert for The Who, seeing this warm up got them to surge forward before their time. A couple of force auxiliaries warped ahead into the titan ball, only to be targeted right away by the Keepstar.
That meant the subcaps got the call to move forward so we could use our logi wing to try and save the errant faxes. The first one died before we could get reps on it, but a later one was save. But now we were in range as bombs headed our way. We spread out to orbit Cainun as best we could inside the super ball, where movement was constricted.
There was a lot of reps to be handed out at that point. Bomb damage was hitting a lot of people, so I was busy for a stretch.
The handling and rationing of firepower had kept tidi down in system, keeping the shoot to its expected 30 minutes, so eventually the Keepstar wore down to the point that Asher started having groups warp in to tag the Keepstar with their weapons so they would get on the kill mail.
The subcaps turn came and we warped in, landing just 7km or so off the structure. We were set to apply our minor damage. I had brought a combat drone for just this reason… I chose the Oneiros because its drone bay can hold a selection of repair drones and still leave room for that whore drone to get on kills… and tried to target the Keepstar.
However, like a lot of people, my client was misbehaving. With about 1,800 ships on grid, the client was near its memory cap and things were not always working right. For me this manifested itself in my not being able to target anything. Everything, including the Keepstar, came back with an error about needing to be within 129km when I was quite clearly much closer than that.
No tinkering with this would fix it and I didn’t want to dump the client and restart at that point. The kill was very close and I wanted to at least get a screen shot of it as it started to brew up.
The explosion hit. It is a good thing that there is no splash damage from a Keepstar explosion, as I was very close in by that point. The big explosion cycles through and a wreck remained on grid where the Keepstar had been.
The kill was recorded, and while I did not get on the kill mail nearly 1,500 of my close and personal fleet mates managed to at least tag it. Of course, you couldn’t even get to the kill mail for a while as everybody was hitting zKillboard at the same time, bringing it to its knees.
My client was about done for as well. It had pretty much stopped responding, so as we aligned back to the Astrahus I was pointed and moving in my own direction. I killed the client and logged back in. There was still room in fleet fortunately, a bit of attrition having worn us down from the 256 people listed when we left Cloud Ring. I was alone when I logged back in, but was able to warp to Cainun and get on the titan that would start us on our trip back to 6RCQ-V.
Thus began the tidi bound flight home. Still, Asher gave us an estimated time for the operation before we departed which was pretty accurate. We formed up at 23:00 UTC and he said that if all went well we would be back on our Keepstar at around 02:00 UTC. We beat that time, but not by a lot.
The ride home was slow, but the lack of anticipation made it much more relaxing. We jumped and aligned and waded through the tidi as the various fleets tried to stagger their movements along the way. We sat for a bit at the final waypoint with some of the capital on an Astrahus, waiting for our turn to bridge back home.
Then it was “bridge up, go go go!” and we were back in sight of our Keepstar, ready to dock up and call it a night.
So, as I always say, the war goes on. A lot more ops are planned for today and tonight. There is still grinding to be done in Fade. And tomorrow there is a final timer for another hostile Keepstar in the north. I am not sure if that is going to be a fight or if we’re in the mode where we wear down the enemy by setting final timers for which they have to form, only to have us not show up. But if the ping goes out and I have the time, I’ll show up. And if not, well, there is always the Alliance Tournament on Twitch.
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