Tag Archives: Geminate

Liberty Squad and Running Away in Geminate

It was time for my first op of the year and for my first fleet op with Liberty Squad.

Liberty Squad is a group in the Imperium that runs in US time zone.  Formed mid-2018, the stated goal was to be something akin to Space Violence, a EUTZ squad meant to go find content for line members during peace time.

The Liberty Squad forum bee

Liberty Squad is not the first USTZ group with a pseudo patriotic name.  Back in the day there was Freedom Squad.  I flew with them some, but never joined because their fleets were open to and pinged out to everybody.  However, Freedom Squad dissolved and some of the team running that ended up forming Reavers from the remains.  I jumped on board that a little over four years back when recruitment was open to all.

Since then Reavers has become more difficult to join.  You need a vouch in from a current member in good standing with the notice that if you vouch in somebody who ends up being kicked for cause, you’ll likely be kicked as well.  While Reavers often operates in USTZ, it isn’t a group you can just join.  Reavers can also run hot and cold.  I spent most of 2018 docked up north in the long running Reavers deployment in Pure Blind.  When Reavers are active, it isn’t a casual operation.  And when we’re not, the group doesn’t do much otherwise.  Especially when Asher is out directing operations as the Imperium Sky Marshall during a war.

So Liberty Squad was formed to fill something of a gap in the USTZ.  Unsurprisingly, the leadership and members overlap with Reavers to some extent.  With Reavers quiet since the Hard Knocks wormhole operation I decided to sign up with Liberty Squad to see how things went with them.

My application was accepted without comment, which tells you how low the bar is at the moment.

Last Wednesday night was the first op that came up while I was around.  The fleet formed up on Thomas Lear, a familiar voice from Reavers.  He used to FC Reavers ops a while back.  In fact there were a number of familiar voices and names from Reavers.  I was not the only one looking for some USTZ ops while Reavers were idle.

The doctrine was the Jackdaw fleet.  I had a Scalpel handy, the tech II Minmatar frigate logi ship, so joined up with that to go wherever we were headed.

We first headed up into Aridia, where a wormhole was waiting to take us north.

Scalpel headed to the wormhole

We popped out in low sec space and made a run through high sec to get Oijanen, a low sec system in The Forge that adjoins BWF-ZZ in Geminate.

BWF-ZZ always rings a bell to me as it was the system where I got on my first supercarrier kill mail.  That was almost seven years ago. (Also, I am pretty sure the Megathron in the first screenshot in that post is Baltec1.)

These days BWF-ZZ is the gateway system to the home of Pandemic Horde.  We were just passing through to go try to blow up something of theirs.  We slipped into their space and headed to NQ-9IH where an Ansiblex jump gate waited for us.

The Ansiblex awaits, with a Fortizar in the background

The jump gate had been reinforced, so it was offline.  The final timer for it was ticking down as we arrived and we were there to shoot it once the clock was done.

Just 21 seconds left

A bomber fleet had come along as well to provide more firepower.  The hope was that the Jackdaws could handle whatever Pandemic Horde would throw at us to defend the gate.  However, the locals had other plans.

The first defender to show up was a Broadsword, the Minmatar heavy interdictor.

Hitting the Broadsword

We were happy enough to light out after him, trying to hold him down for a kill.  And then he lit a cyno and some hostile dreads started dropping in on us.

Dreads landing as the Broadsword goes up

While we were able to destroy the Broadsword, a second cyno was already up and it looked like Pandemic Horde had invited some friends to the party.  Pandemic Legion and NCDot were both there in some force and it quickly looked like that Ansiblex jump gate would not be getting blown up.

Thomas Lear decided to pull us out and we headed back towards BWF-ZZ.

However, the hostiles bridged there ahead of us and had the gate to Oijanen and escape bubbled up and camped.  We would not be going that way without taking heaving losses getting to the gate.  In addition our wormhole home was also that way.

Intel indicated that there was another wormhole options available to us.  We just had to move fast to stay ahead of the defenders.  With the Jackdaw fleet speed wasn’t a problem, but there was always the probability that the enemy might figure out where we were headed and bridge ahead of us again.  So off we went, jumping into a system aligning, and being warped to the next gate to do it all again as quickly as possible.

We were headed deeper into hostiles space, up into the Vale of the Silent and the system AZBR-2.  There, in Pandemic Legion space, was a wormhole to Thera.  Thera, the big shattered wormhole system introduced with the Rhea expansion back in 2014, always has multiple connections to normal space, and so can act as something of a transit hub.  In our case, if we could get into Thera, there was another connection that would drop us into Cloud Ring, closer to home and relative safety.

While we were shadowed by the locals almost all the way, their main fleets did not managed to catch up and we were able to slip into Thera and back out as we had hoped.  From there we just had to get to our own jump gate network to take the quick ride through Fountain into Delve.

The new Eye of Terror, running from Querious up into Cloud Ring, is living up to its predecessors.  Without any jump fatigue accrued, fleets are using it to zip up north and back in very little time.  This is apparently causing GSOL a bit of a headache as they have to refuel the gates with liquid ozone more frequently than the old jump bridges.  We made our own run down it into Delve without issue and ended up back home without further incident.

And so ended my first op with Liberty Squad.  It wasn’t exactly a rousing success, but most of us got home safe and there was a bit of adventure along the way.

Meanwhile, I suspect that I will be headed up to Geminate again in the future.  It seems like Pandemic Horde will be the next location where Imperium SIGs and squads go to find content.  Space Violence is already reported to be in the vicinity.

A Short Visit to Geminate

Peace is dull.  I don’t mine nor do I rat any more.  I have accumulated enough ISK to tide me over for some time, helped along by alliance SRP payouts for losses.

SRP is the “ship replacement program,” where the alliance uses its wealth to compensate pilots for ship losses.  There is some nominal payout for peace time operations, but operations that are considered strategic get better returns for losses.

Also, strategic ops have that element of purpose, a sense of “doing something” that a separates them, in my mind at least, from the random roam or other attempt to fleet up just to find trouble.  That is probably my professional life bleeding over, as I am inevitably the person in sprint planning meetings pointing out that a sprint isn’t just a random three week period of time to do whatever.  If there is no goal or deliverable or whatever we might as well not bother diligently creating new sprints.

Anyway, I live for the Jabber ping that has a fleet flagged as “strategic,” and after going nearly half a month without seeing such a ping, one popped up yesterday.  Two, actually, though the first one was just a call to roll a wormhole and clean up some bombers that leaked through into Delve.

The second one though, that was a call for a Cerberus fleet to run out to get in on a fight that was brewing somewhere undisclosed.  And Thomas Lear, long a member of Reavers before he split off to form Liberty Squad, was going to be the FC.  That looked to be exactly my cup of tea.

I got into game, into fleet, and into a Cerberus, which I had to buy off contract because I appeared to have mislaid the one I thought I had hanging about.  After some cajoling about numbers… we had a lot of support and not enough Cerbs… things finally got under way and we undocked and got on a titan.

Three Avatars in a row

We were getting a titan bridge out because the new, fatigue free jump bridge network was still in the process of getting deployed.  In fact, CCP Fozzie announced the first connection between the new modules just this morning.

The old jump bridge network is still up and functioning, and I suppose we could have take that to get our first leg over, but a titan was handy so we used that instead.  The bridge went up and off we went.

Sent on our way

We were headed east.  As the story eventually came to me, TEST had reinforced a Pandemic Horde Sotiyo up in Geminate previously and were now set to contest the armor timer.  We were invited along to help them as they were expecting a fight.

So we gated our way into TEST space where they provided a titan to bridge us a bit further along.  Then it was up through Scalding Pass and  the Great Wildlands towards our destination, 04-LQM in Geminate, where the Sotiyo lay.

That gave us plenty of time to see the new gate graphics along the way.

A fiery Minmatar gate

We moved as a group through system after system in that familiar warp ball, our destination slowly moving closer, the 255 of us causing time dilation now and then as we transitioned.

Cerbs moving together

Unfortunately the dithering about getting the fleet composition right as well as having to gate most of the way (there was a wormhole, but it collapsed before we got to it) made us late to the party.

By the time we arrived in 04-LQM, the combined fleets of Pandemic Horde, NCDot, and Black Legion had destroyed much of the TEST battleship fleet and sent the rest packing.  There was only two minutes left on the repair timer when we arrived on grid as well as a lot of hostile ships already loaded and looking for fresh targets.  It was not our best timed arrival.

Still, we had come all that way, wrapping around half of null sec, driving from Delve to Geminate.  Thomas wasn’t going to go home empty handed.

Thomas brought us through the gate to LX-ZOJ and had our interdictors bubble it up in the hope that we could pin the enemy down and take some out at range with missile volleys.  The enemy followed through as expected, Elo Knight in his Monitor being one of the first ships to break cloak.

Looking at the bubbled gate from range

Cainun, who was shepherding logi and support, called targets for us, starting with the expected Munnins.  The plan was one volley per target in the hope that enough damage would land when the missiles arrived to alpha the ship.

Following the Muninns was a fleet of Nightmare battleships, which became the targets of choice.

Nightmares down in the bubbles

However, our volleys were falling short of our hopes.  I saw several Munnins and Nightmares knocked down into structure only to survive because the threat had passed as we moved to the next target.  A second volley might have pushed a few over, but I could see reps hitting many of those close calls so that follow on missiles would have to face full shields and reps.

Meanwhile we were losing our own ships as the hostiles started popping Cerbs.  Pilots who overheated their shield hardeners, remembered to trigger their assault damage control, and broadcasted for reps quickly, and in that order, likely survived.  But those who were slow or who slipped up went down quickly, long before any help could reach them.

With the death of Cerbs, our ability to alpha targets with a single volley stopped being a viable plan.  While we got in a few kills, we were losing more than we killed and things were tipping even more against us as time went on.  Thomas had us align out and we managed to escape, bubbling the gate behind us to slow pursuit.

Having already won the objective and the ISK war, the locals seemed content to wave bye-bye as we left.  They didn’t have anything left to prove.  The battle report tells the tale.

Battle report from the full fight

At least I got my strategic participation counted and got myself on a few kill mails, proving my existence in the game for yet another month.

Of course, we were still way the hell out in Geminate and a long way from home.  The route back to Delve was about 60 jumps.  While I like touring the new gate graphics, I wasn’t feeling the need to see that many gates.

As we were heading back the word came down that there might be a wormhole for us, running from Insmother, about a dozen jumps from our then current location, to Aridia, the low sec space adjacent to Delve.  That would cut a lot of gates out of our journey.  The problem was that the person with the wormhole information was getting it second hand and nobody actually had their eyes on the wormhole to know its state.  It could have been ready to collapse.

Eventually the person reporting it got there, saw it was up, and went through to verify that it did, indeed, poke through to Aridia.  Off we went, forming up at the wormhole.

Waiting on the wormhole

While some anxious people went through early, most of us waited until Thomas gave us the green light to enter the wormhole.  It stayed up for the whole fleet.  From there it was just a dozen gates or so to Delve.  Amarr gates, to compare with the Minmatar gates. (Both of which look better than the Caldari gates.)

An Amarr gate with the new doodads

We ran into a LowSechnaya Sholupen smart bombing battleship gate camp, which claimed an interceptor that was scouting ahead.  But they got out of the way when a nearly full Cerb fleet started landing on them.

From there it should have been simple.  However, there was an incursion going on in the constellation that includes 1-SMEB, the system that connects to Aridia.  So we grouped up there before going through, lest the incursion rats, known to camp gates and tackle passers by, take their toll for passage.

The gate into Delve, Fat Bee present, ships jumping through

As it was though, the incursion rats apparently had other business to which to attend, so everybody passed safely through to the jump bridge and through to home.

It was good to shake the rust off a bit and get something of a fight.  All this peace is too much to bear.

A Hole in the North

I heard Monday on comms that Pandemic Horde was packing up to move.  This was confirmed later via an article over at INN.  PH were going to leave their home in Fade, Pure Blind, and a bit of Cloud Ring, and move east to pick up space in Geminate.  That space was being vacated by the Russians who were going to consolidate deeper into null sec after Triumvirate gave up in Insmother.

The North Feb 15, 2018

That will actually put Pandemic Horde up tight against the rest of PanFam who sprawl across Tribute, Tenal, and Vale of the Silent, the latter sharing a border with Geminate.  That is probably a good move for them as it makes for a tighter center of mass for PanFam.

Move ops should be fun as people line up to try and catch them exposed on the path to their new home.

But it raises the question of who will move into the vacated space once PH finishes relocating?

Certainly the Guardians of the Galaxy Coalition, led by Darkness, seems a likely candidate.  One of their members, Mordus Legion, already holds some space in Pure Blind.  But do they want to shepherd that much space?

One of the oft commented upon/complained about aspects of the current situation in null sec is that you do not need to control nearly as much space to have sufficient access to mining and ratting to keep your members happy.  The Imperium, for the most part, is fine just in Delve, as the monthly economic report indicates.  Farms and fields.

The Initiative went and took much of Fountain when the previous situation there fell apart, not so much out of need as the fact that the space was there to be taken.  That put the reach of The Imperium up to the border with Cloud Ring and not so far from Fade and Pure Blind.  There went the neighborhood.  So PH’s move puts them a bit further from that mess.

Guardians of the Galaxy will no doubt scoop up the remains of Fade, which is small and in which they had maintained a foothold already.  The western half of Pure Blind however seems like a lot of space for them to keep an eye on.

And Cloud Ring seems right out.  Cloud Ring is already a bit of the Wild West with even some Gallente Faction Warfare pilots, off on a lark, grabbing the Assilot constellation in the region back in September, space that they still hold today.

I guess Cloud Ring could just roll along on its own, but western Pure Blind… GotG either have to take it to cover themselves or get somebody they can deal with to move in.  Maybe Tri is looking for a new home?

Then again, Pure Blind isn’t anybody’s favorite region… unless you like to hole up in the NPC in the middle and hot drop on the things.  So it will be interesting to see who ends up there and if they will live there or just hold it to keep somebody else from living there.

On the one hand, it is probably good that null sec is now all largely livable space without the useless systems that made people spread out.  On the other, if you told me five years ago that there would be chunks of prime, livable null sec that people wouldn’t want to bother with I might have laughed.

Anyway, we will have to see what develops in the hole in the north left by Pandemic Horde’s move.

In Which We Blob

The purging of Cloud Ring continues, though mostly while I am asleep.  Waffles and Pandemic Horde changed their vulnerability widow to be during AUTZ, so the Entosis Link ops have been left to Lemba’s Korean’s in DOKDO and Arsehole squad, the AU/NZ time zone SIG in The Imperium.  So I wake up in the morning and can see the fleet pings that went out overnight.

While The Mittani’s optimistic six day forecast now seems… well, optimistic… the purge doesn’t seem to be in doubt.  The desired end state though… I’m not sure what that is.  We don’t want any hostiles living in that region, so we are purging them.  But we don’t want to take the sov ourselves, so we didn’t, for example, drop a TCU in W-4NUU after we killed the Pandemic Horde TCU, which allowed them to drop one and take the sovereignty right back. (Though reset to 0, so the system is easier to take/retake.)  And we have seen that our only friend in the region, Fweddit, can’t hold the whole region by itself, so I am not sure who we expect to come live there.  Who wants to live next to us?

Anyway, there has been day by day coverage over at The Nosy Gamer under the Kickstarter War tag.

Having avoided Cloud Ring completely, I did get into one fleet over the weekend, once that ended up in a fight.  There is a story about it up at TMC that I find a bit confusing.  The copy makes it sound like the whole thing was a surprise when, in fact, there were pings out for a “max dudes stratop” nearly 24 hours in advance.  Maybe I have misunderstood.  I guess we did pour in over time.

Anyway, the pings were out far enough in advance for me to get down to our staging system in Pure Blind and be online and ready to go.  Well, mostly ready to go.  I ran down in an interceptor and wasn’t keen to buy a doctrine ship off contract until I knew what fleets were going up.

When the ping for fleets went out, the initial options were Tengu fleet or Harpy fleet.  Later Cawk fleet was added to handle all the people piling into the system and trying to get into a fleet.  I opted for Harpy fleet because, if nothing else, a Harpy is cheap and warps faster than a Tengu and looks better as well.

Harpy out and flying about

Harpy out and flying about

Also, with three Basilisks lost already this month, I might be past my limit on reimbursement.  No need to risk losing a Tengu or a Basi.

Anyway, I got into fleet and immediately began looking forward to the next Reavers deployment.  It has been a while since I have been in the main fleet during an op.  Somewhere around 500 of us showed up, got in fleets, and starting flying towards some distant destination, leaving time dilation and tasty stragglers for MOA in our wake.

We reached UMI-KK about an hour after I joined the fleet, a system where I had both a jump clone and a Harpy standing by, so if I had known I could have saved myself the first part of the journey and the price of a Harpy.  The cost of op sec.

We didn’t have to go the whole way by gates.  We did take one jump bridge.  When we arrived there, the guy who said he had a three day timer before he could take a jump bridge and was told we would be taking one, again announced his timer issue.  I suppose he expected us to all slog an additional half dozen gates to keep him safe.  We took the jump bridge and let him fend for himself.

We left one Harpy behind

We left one Harpy behind

From the far end of the jump bridge it was a few more jumps through tidi until we finally arrived at MR4-MY in Geminate.  Our FC was hurrying us along at that point, as it sounded like the fight was going to end soon.  Sure enough, things certainly seemed to be in progress when we got there.

Fight in MR4-MY

Fight in MR4-MY, many bubbles

After some mucking about just out of range of all of the fun, our FC pointed us at the two biggest targets on the field, the two Archon carriers supporting the NCDot fleet.

The prized on the field

The prized on the field

Everybody loves a capital ship kill.  And certainly everybody seemed to get on those kills.  There were 741 involved parties on the first carrier kill, and 717 on the second.  I also managed to get on the kills of a Proteus, a Damnation, and a Devoter.   But that was about it.  After that, the field was clear and it was time to head back home.

The battle report shows 865 of us blobbing 121 of them, inflicting 43 billion ISK in damage for about 5.5 billion in losses.  That is the old CFC way.

And then it was another hour getting back to our staging system.  The whole thing went a little longer than three hours, so at least we got two participation links for the effort.  But it was a reminder of what big fleet fights can be like in the main fleet, with time dilation, hours of travel, uneven levels of skill, and coms that made me hide in the “no chatter” channel.  After that, a Reavers deployment feels like a vacation.