As I mentioned in a previous post, the promise of a deployment was set to be fulfilled this past weekend. The Mittani told us that come the Fireside on Saturday we would learn our destination and foe and the Goon Expeditionary Force would sail off on a new adventure.
And then we got to the Fireside and he didn’t tell us. We were still going. It was still the traditional short speech and then into fleets to head out. But he declined to tell us our destination or foe.
His justification was that some of the null sec watchers had declared that they knew exactly where we were going, but wouldn’t say where or even hazard a public guess, so Mittens said he wanted to keep them guessing since that was a pretty sure sign they didn’t know.
This sort of thing happens every time the word is out that we are going to deploy. I was writing about the same thing almost exactly a year ago in the run up to our deployment north to glass Tribute. So I don’t doubt that this time was any different. And we would find out soon enough as the meeting ended and pings for move op fleets went up.
The doctrines for the deployment had been announced, the the usuals taking the lead. I got out a Guardian for the Sacrilege fleet doctrine, loaded it up with extra drugs and replacement drones and a few other special refit items and got undocked and ready to go. I always want to go in the first move op. That is usually where you learn the most… and where the most screw ups happen.
You can see a bunch of capitals… dreads, carriers, and faxes… on the undock with me.
I put my alt in a bomber as there was a special ping for those, so I figured that would be the next most important doctrine to get up there. I was wrong on that. Something for the Jackdaw fleet would have been better, but there is always time for another run.
The capitals jumped to their first destination while the subcaps formed up on a titan to be sent on our way. It was quickly clear we were headed north, going up the Eye of Terror towards Cloud Ring and points north. This is a well worn route for me these day. When we lived up north we flew to Delve or Fountain to fight every summer. Now we live in Delve and we fly north to fight every summer.
So we landed in ZXB-VC to cover the capitals as they took the gate into Fountain.
The trip through Fountain can be short. There is an Ansiblex from the first system to a mid point, where everybody takes a gate to get on the Ansiblex to the last system and the gate to Cloud Ring. This can be a 2 minute run in an interceptor.
Pushing a thousand people… and there were over a thousand in the ops channel, which means there were more ships passing though as many of us were flying two or three… through the pipe ends up with time dilation hitting pretty hard. At times we saw it drop well into the teens.
So we shepherded the caps as they moved along. For the Anisiblex jumps they had to put their armor plates offline in order to get under the maximum mass limit for the jump bridges. This was where we found a few people who brought the wrong ship, like the guy in the Nyx who complained on coms that the Ansiblex wouldn’t let him go through. Supers and titans cannot pass though, so he was stuck part way up the pipe with a convoy that was going to leave him behind.
Others had to be prompted to offline their plates repeatedly and there was the usual person who decided to AFK in their capital mid-op or who ended up going the wrong way. There is always room for confusions on these ops.
There was also a bit of waiting for a few titans that were coming with us, no doubt to bridge us places later, who had to make the jumps themselves rather than using the Ansiblex jump bridges. So it was a slow time getting to J5A-IX at the far end of the region.
Once the last big boy passed we were finally able to move into Cloud Ring.
There, if anything, the tidi got worse. This was no doubt because the fleet was all together again and because Cloud Ring isn’t really a busy region, so it doesn’t have the most robust servers running it. We turned to take the jump bridge, which sent us to F7C-H0. At that point I thought we were going to head into low sec, which is even worse when it comes to tidi and moving big fleets. Our jump got us to max tidi.
But rather than venture further, we settled into the Keepstar there. This was our destination, at least for now.
That told us our destination, but I wasn’t exactly clear who our foes were going to be. From that location we could move into Fade or Pure Blind, but we were also on the boarder of low sec regions Placid and Black Rise.
And the first op I went on didn’t help out much on that score. We formed up a Sacrilege fleet and flew into Pure Blind, passing through 6RCQ-V where we have a Keepstar from a past deployment already.
From there we flew to X-7OMU to attack a Pandemic Horde Astrahus that was at the armor timer.
They were waiting for us and we ended up in a brawl with a fleet of Muninns and some Abaddons with Fax support. Some Jackdaws showed up to help us, and it turned into a running fight over a few systems. We lost the objective and the ISK war, but it was a pretty intense brawl.
It was in the middle of that brawl that I realized I hadn’t taken all the extra stuff I had packed along out of the cargo hold. However, I managed to survive my turn as the primary, though we ended up losing half of our Guardians along the way. The Muninn fleet logi was also hard hit as the same people in fresh Scimitars was killed a few times after reshipping. Towards the end of the fight they started showing up in Kirins, frigate logi, as the word was that they had run out of Scimitars.
Most of the fight took place in KLY-C0, but it ran across a few systems. I think I caught it all in the battle report.
The odds were pretty even, and the enemy was able to reship and rejoin the fight, so you’ll find a few logi who were blown up a couple of times. The joy of fighting on your own turf.
Despite a couple of close calls, and that guy at the end in a Cynabal who chased me for a bit, I was able to get home with the remains of the fleet, where I pulled all the extra baggage out of my cargo hold.
So I guess we’re fighting… whoever is near by. Pandemic Horde and the Conifers and their allies. We shall see. More move ops happened as the weekend went on and the order is to get the market stocked for people to be able to reship. So as long as CCP doesn’t go full Hurricane Hilmar on us again, like they did last year, we seem to be stuck in for a fighting deployment.
Somebody did a video with some scenes from the move op, if you want to see it in action.
There is a section in the video of some subcaps sitting on the ZXB gate. (It is the small gate, a smuggler’s gate, that is different from the empire gates.) I am in that fleet.
So we’re up north. At least we made the move without getting ambushed, which was what happened during a similar move op five years ago this month.