Northward for Structure Defense

There was supposed to be a big USTZ op on Friday night, but it didn’t come off.

That was fine by me as I hadn’t been on Jabber for a couple of days so totally missed the build up.  But on the Fireside on Saturday The Mittani brought it up, apologized that it  didn’t happen, but assured us that an op would be coming up at 02:00 EVE time in order to defend timers on a couple of Fortizars up north that are part of the coalition power projection network.

The primary doctrine was to be the Sacrilege fleet, which was hyped a few times during the Fireside and in pings as the day went along, so it was probably not surprising that when 02:00 came around and the ping for the evenings fleets went out, that is the one that filled up almost immediately.

Asher was our FC and while the speed with which the fleet filled might not have been surprising, the fact that we were all in the right ships, with sufficient mainline DPS ships, boosters, and enough logi did seem to surprise him a bit.  It is a rare thing for everybody to show up on time with the right fit.  I guess if you ping at us enough about getting ready for a fleet some of us pay attention.

I opted to go with the logi wing for this op, refitting a Guardian I had in my hangar in order to meet the changes that the Surgical Strike update made necessary.  And naturally I went with the  Frontier Safeguarder SKIN from the Generosity Celebration event.  I collected the whole set for subcaps as well as a couple for force auxiliaries.

Bright and flashy

I like those SKINs even more than the Emergency Response set.  They are loud and colorful and the red and blue lights flash and it is a pretty obnoxious package, which is what I look for in a SKIN.

Meanwhile Asher was having to tell people there was no room in the fleet.  We were at 256 and he needed space to get scouts in with us.  People went off to the Munnin fleet, which I might have done as well, but I always fly with Asher when I can so I stuck with it.

We later found out that somebody in a Sacrilege joined the Munnin fleet but stayed on our coms and somehow made it through the whole evening without realizing they were messed up.  John Hartley, the Munnin FC said the Sac just carried on with them, sometimes on anchor, sometimes not, but never seemed to be fazed by their predicament.

The Munnins filled up too and a third fleet, this time Jackdaws, was formed up to handle the overflow, and then a bomber fleet for people who wanted to go that route.  This was a pretty big form up considering it was well outside of EUTZ and well into Saturday night… though I guess people aren’t really going out on Saturday night right now.

Asher was especially happy with the fleet composition as it only had a single Vigil frigate.  The Vigil is a newbie friendly option that lets people target paint to help the main line apply damage.  But you only need a few and there are times when vets pile in with them just to go along for the ride.  But when you have just one Vigil in the fleet, that pilot suddenly becomes special, their ship is the fleet morale ship, and ends up on the logi watchlist, and so it was with M4X HEADR00M.

Pilot of our morale Vigil

Once important issues like that were settled it was time to undock and start heading north.  Our destination was Pure Blind and we were off down the Eye of Terror network of Ansiblex jump gates.

To the Ansiblex

The route, at least to the Pure Blind boarder in Cloud Ring is generally a quick run… it is only 11 gates or so… until you start pushing about 700 pilots through it at the same time.  There were a lot of us jumping through together.

Gate activation for a fleet, each line representing a ship landing

And things got progressively worse as we moved along.  Delve is always active and so gets processing resources assigned to it that meant we only saw a little time dilation kicking in.  Through Fountain, a quieter region, it was more noticeable.  And then we hit Cloud Ring and we were clearly stressing the system.

Tidi hitting us hard

That is the game slowing down to 17% of normal speed for us.  We weren’t shooting anything, we were just using gates to travel.  But loading into a system is a heavy task and with three fleets going though at once.

But we pressed on, getting to the Keepstar on the boarder.

Sac fleet in warp

It was about then that information began to get passed along about the disposition of the enemy fleets.  Pandemic Horde had put together a Harpy fleet with about 100 pilots, while NCDot had wrestled together around 50 pilots for a Munnin fleet, which meant that the likelihood of there being a big fight was about nil.

At that point the fleets split up.

The Munnins went off and found a Naga fleet to wreck, then headed back home.  I never heard what the Jackdaws got up to, but word was that the bomber fleet managed to get itself wrecked shooting a structure.  And so it goes.

And the Sac fleet, we stood to and watched over the repair cycle of the Fortizars that had been reinforced.  We saw Horde in their Harpies come by a couple of times, but they didn’t want to close with us and were more than quick enough to stay out of our way.  We sat on a gate hoping to maybe catch them, but it wasn’t to be.

Sprawled about a gate in Pure Blind

At that point Asher sought to entertain us with story time in fleet.  He asked people to x-up in fleet chat if they met certain criteria for a miss-spent youth then called on people who did x-up to have them tell their story.

I thought this was going to be the time to go to the no-chatter channel, as the average person has trouble keeping stories of their life short and to the point.  My experience in life is that when somebody finally gets to the phrase, “to make a long story short…” it is far too late to hit any definition of the word “short.”

But Asher was a pretty good emcee for this, and kept people from getting too far into the weeds.  And we all learned about Jason Padgett, who became a mathematical savant after somebody beat him up.  Only one person ended up saying, “…to make a long story short…” at which point several people keyed up to say, “Too late!” as the tale had already rambled into the weeds.

The Forts repaired themselves and the hostiles didn’t look like they had much fight in them, so we flew off to reinforce a Pandemic Horde Astrahus, just to leave a calling card.  The Astrahus hadn’t even been fit yet, so we were able to knock it down through shield and armor.  Meanwhile, the “describe your crime” show went on.

After that we went over a couple of systems and shot a United Federation of Conifers Fortizar.  This had been fit, but nobody was home so we just put drones on it.  Then somebody from the UFC flew in to gun the Fort, so people who were paying attention pulled their drones.  Those who were asleep at the switch promptly lost their when the point defense system, the PDS, was switched on, wiping them all out.  So it was on to missiles to set the first timer.

Sacs firing away

Meanwhile the gunner started launching bombs at us, which woke logi up as we had to start repping people as they took damage.  I got  a good look at the logi wing around then, and was happy to see that my cap transfer buddies were both using the same SKIN I had chosen.

Cap buddies represent

Apparently we were shooting this because Brisc Rubal said on the Meta Show that he does not like the UFC, to the point that he has a coffee mug in support of his statement.  I guess they shoot at him or have some TISHU refugees or something.

Brisc, who will be running for CSM15 I hear

That kept us busy for a while, though at one point, just as we were done, M4X HEADR00M veered off and took a lot of damage from a bomb or the PDS or something got him.  It looked like the morale Vigil might go down.

Vigil in trouble!

However, he managed to survive by warping off.  At least I think he did.  I checked over on zKillboard and didn’t find a kill mail.

After that Asher warped us to one of the Guristas sites from The Hunt event, not knowing that you needed a key to get past it and had to be flying a destroyer or a frigate even if somebody had a key.

The Gate to nowhere

That lesson learned, we turned for home.  With just out fleet coming back we put less stain on CCP’s servers and did not invoke as much tidi as before.

Back home through Cloud Ring

Once you get through Cloud Ring it is just a few gates and you’re back home in Delve.

The last gate home

Overall the fleet lasted about three hours, which was kind of long.  We got two PAPs for it, which was good for those who need more.  And we even had the swarm DJ spinning for us, if you cared to tune him in. KarmaFleet has a regular Saturday Night Swarm op that usually includes him, but that had been cancelled in favor this.

It would have been better if we had gotten a fight, but it wasn’t too bad and the story time was amusing enough to keep us going.  And, of course, our structures were saved.  Op success.

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