Tag Archives: Reavers

Rising to the Occasion in Fade

Asher called it while we were still docked up long before the fight.

Having suffered the humiliation of yet another defection which, among other loot, involved us ending up with a Keepstar they had yet to deploy, the Guardians of the Galaxy coalition was rightfully pissed off and so formed up better numbers than usual when it came time to contest another Raitaru coming online on grid with their Keepstar in DO6H-Q.

They were not out in huge numbers, the sort of numbers a shared feeling of righteous fury would bring.  But it was more than we’ve seen in a while and it was more than we were able to field.  We were especially short on logi, undocking with only eight Guardians in the chain channel, about half of the number we’ve been working with recently.  Two more caught up later, but I am not sure the last one to arrive got in the fight before our logi was toast.

Still, we formed up and rolled out for DO6H-Q, arriving with plenty of time to spare before the event.  As we hung on on structure we could see the enemy forming.

Calm before the battle

As the time drew near we could see their Eagle doctrine ready to go again, with capital support in the form of carriers.  I thought that the numbers against us were enough that we might not take the fight.  But we were there and the time was set and Asher seemed keen to test them, so we broke tether, leaving safety to warp onto the repairing Raitaru.

The first thing we had to do was chase off the fighters already there and set to attack, the plan being to use the carriers to hit the structure while the Eagle fleet kept us busy.  But the Eagles weren’t coming for us yet so the fighters had to withdraw for the moment or get chewed up by our drones.

Then the Eagles were in play and we started warping around the grid from point to point, looking for an optimal position from which to fight them.

Bouncing off yet another deploying Raitaru of ours

That went on long enough that Asher wondered aloud on coms if they really wanted to fight us or not.  But they did want to fight us and, after a few more warps the fleets began to grapple.  We, as usual, went after their support ships first.  You can see in the battle report that we stripped out their tackle, boosters, and some of their logi.

They did the same… after a bit.  For some reason they were hitting Ishtars early on, leaving those of us in the logi chain to scramble in order to save people.  The Eagle fleet didn’t have enough burst damage to alpha any of us off the field, but their rail guns were chewing through armor quickly enough that it was tough to save anybody.  Waiting for armor reps to land, which they only do at the end of the module cycle, meant often seeing ships wink out from my UI before they could be saved.

Then they turned on the logi and we were then quite busy trying to save ourselves.  I managed to get reps onto my down chain logi partner early on, which was enough to get him reps in time and make the enemy swap targets, but the pressure began to tell.  Soon one Guardian was down, then another, and with each one gone the rest became that much easier to kill.  You can tell how busy I was because I only took the two screen shots above during the whole fight.  No time to gawk with my head out the window looking at space.

My turn came.  I had my hardeners pre-heated and when the yellow boxes began to blink on my overview I turned them on.  I broadcast for armor, but by that point there were only a couple of Guardians left.  I was probably gone before reps could finish their cycle and then I was out and about in a pod.  I warped for one of our structures, then headed for the gate and the few jumps back to our staging to get another ship.  The enemy was fully engaged with our fleet, so the route home was clear at that point.

I sat docked up and listened to comms.  Asher was still maneuvering, trying to find weak spots from which he could extract another kill.  Eventually though, the loss of logi, tackle, and other support meant the end of the fight for us.  The enemy was not keep to let him go, looking to get more kills while they held the advantage.  The straight route home was blocked by that point and Asher led the fleet on a round about march back to our staging, losing a couple of stragglers along the way but still bringing home the bulk of the fleet.

In the end Guardians of the Galaxy won the day.  For us the objective was lost, the Raitaru destroyed, and the ISK war tilted against us as well on the battle report.

Battle report summary

There was about another 1.6 billion in ISK lost on our part during the extraction and move back to our staging, which puts the ISK balance clearly, if not overwhelmingly, in their favor.  GotG has their own after action report up on Reddit.  A victory for them.

But another day has dawned already and more citadels will be coming online.  Our time in DO6H-Q is not done yet.  And it is worth noting again that we are taking these fights to them, in their staging system, on grid with their Keepstar, with fleets of between 70 and 100 pilots.

Granted, there is a pile of suicide dreadnoughts waiting for a few stray supers to show up, but it still seems like they could undock capitals in force and shoo us away without much effort.  They could clear their Keepstar grid in a week or so and be done with that nonsense.  This was, after all, the same group that just a couple months ago was bubbling our station and trying to camp us in with capitals and supers.

Our staging, not all that long ago

We shall see if this new resurgence is just temporary or not.

Fade and the Art of Structure Maintenance

I was again out with fleets in the north last night.  During the day, if I read the pings correctly, the EUTZ crew was shooting their structures.  But come the evening and USTZ prime time, it was time again to defend our own structured being deployed on grid with the Darkness Keepstar in DO6H-Q.

We formed up in Ishtars again, so I grabbed my Guardian and got in the logi channel to play space priest once more.  Undocked we spread out in front of the station as everybody got together.

Ishtars once more in space

There is always somebody changing to the right fit at the last second, and even I was at the hairy edge of that as there was a call to change the Guardian fit from what I had been flying.

This time out we took gates to DO6H-Q.  It isn’t that far away and nothing was reported lurking between our staging and there.

Ishtars landing on a gate

We arrived in system and tethered up at one of our already anchored structures and looked around to assess the situation.  We had a bit until the first structure finished deploying and entered its 15 minute vulnerability window as it came online.

Coming online in a little over 12 minutes

You can see, in the background of the above, another Raitaru slowly deploying.

Raitaru deploying

By default Upwell structures take 24 hours to deploy, but as part of the sovereignty mechanics of conquerable null sec, deploying a structure in space owned by somebody else ups that time to six days.  So that Raitaru will be ready on Monday morning EVE time.

There was a moment of hope that GotG was going to bring a fight with something new when a Tempest Fleet Issue undock from the Keepstar.

Tempest Fleet Issue

However that turned out to be just one person undocking it for whatever reasons.

As the timer on the first structure ticked down Asher, privy to coalition level intel, decided that the locals were not going to undock a fleet at this point to contest the onlining.  We were going to stay in the area in case something came up, but do something else while we waited.

Asher warped us off to a gate and we jumped, and warped off to a POS where the locals had a jump bridge anchored.  The tower was armed, so we left light stuff with a bit of support back at the gate we came through.  We landed, anchored up, and disabled the warp disruption batteries on the POS first, then started in on the jump bridge module.

Shooting the jump bridge module

This was probably the most challenging part of the evening for logi.  The tower had no shortage of guns and we were big enough to hit fairly easily, with just a couple of shots able to put an Ishtar or Guardian into armor.  Also, when POS guns shoot in their autonomous mode, they switch targets regularly.  This meant a steady stream of calls for reps as everybody seemed to get their turn as a target.

Rep, cap chain, and neut effects on the Ishtar ball

A year from now, if CCP keeps on task, the venerable POS will be a thing of memory and jump bridges will be a different beast,  But last night we were in for the old school experience.  We knocked the jump bridge module down to half structure, then tried to rep the armor back up a bit.  The owned have to decide if the want to spend the time repping it back up or if it is easier to just shoot and kill it themselves in order to drop a fresh module.

We did not get much time to rep the module however.  As we were shooting things on the tower, a small group of locals undocked in bombers, along with one Ferox battlecruiser, in order to shoot the onlining structure.  They were hitting it with enough damage to stop the repair timer, but were making slow enough progress that we had time to finish disabling the jump bridge before heading back to shoo them away.

When we got back into DO6H-Q and landed on grid with the Raitaru, the locals set themselves to warp off.  But the Ferox pilot was a bit too slow on that front and ended up locked down, unable to warp, or even move very fast.

A Ferox in trouble

Asher wanted to let everybody get on the kill, so had us drop just one light drone each.  But as we started to eat through him he has logi start repping him as well.

Repping a hostile Ferox

I do wonder what was going on in the pilots mind as time dragged on and we were both shooting him and keeping him alive.  He kept trying to move and shoot us and launched his drones, which were shot as well.  That is all you can really do, just keep squirming and maybe there will be a mistake and you can get away.

After keeping him as a pet for a while, Asher had us all launch two more light drones to apply damage to see if logi could keep him alive.  I activated my other two reps on him as the extra drones hit.  As it turned out, we could not keep him alive.  According to the kill mail he managed to tank a lot of damage with us repping him.

We were briefly able to capture a Nemesis stealth bomber as well, but it was too fragile and blew up very quickly.

After that we were left alone to tether up and wait for the timer to count down, after which we headed back to our staging.  Or tried to.  On the gate out we got fed a couple of targets and started to wonder if this was a ploy to keep us there.  But once everybody’s aggression timer finally ran down we jumped through and headed home.

We went back because it was late for some people… it was late for me even, though I get up at around 5am, so late is a relative term… so we docked up and let people log off.   A few more people joined the fleet and I decided to stay for the next round.

Asher said that we had intel indicating that they would undock for the next timer so we might get a fight.  That merited a ride out to battle, so we got in range of the titan and waited to be bridged directly to our destination.

Waiting for the bridge

Back in DO6H-Q the locals, like earlier this week, had formed up a fleet based on the Eagle heavy assault cruiser.  However, like last time, they didn’t form up enough numbers to overwhelm us so, once we clashed, things turned very quickly in our favor and they had to flee the scene.

As that happened a TEST pilot, Cpt Sobad (alt of Capt. Soban), indulged him in his alliance’s tradition of shitting up local by haranguing the locals for not being able to stop us despite being in their staging system and under their capital and super cap umbrella.  We, as usual, stayed silent in local.  But seeing an outsider taking the locals to task was amusing.

Cpt Sobad tethered at our citadel

He was able to tether up safely at one of our structures because we have them set to be open to anybody not in GotG or PanFam.  We let him warp out a pick up a souvenir corpse from the battlefield.  He has since returned the favor by writing to PepsiCo about the obvious state of our thirst after this hard work.

That was about the end of the action.  Asher deployed his MTU, named after Erebus SilentKill, the only MTU he will tolerate on the field, and it cleaned up the wrecks so as to leave nothing for the locals.

A Vigil valiantly salvaging wrecks

Once the Raitaru was online a hauler was brought in to fuel it up.

A Prowler and a covert cyno

That was it for the op.  We rolled home without incident.

The battle report for the night, which covers both interludes, shows the ISK war tilted again in our favor.  We didn’t kill as much as the other night, but we didn’t lose anything expensive this time either.  Somehow I didn’t get counted on the battle report even though I was on a few ship kill mails.  The zKillboard related kills shows me, though it has a different time frame.

Also, a side note on the topic of GotG FC Erebus SilentKill; he apparently has decided to quit EVE Online, for which he was memorialized and/or mocked over on zKillboard, depending on how you look at it.  We have faced him more than a few times lately.  He was the one harrying our fleet when we went back to shoot the Sotiyo again.  On the other hand, he was also streaming his fleet with no delay and talking about his intentions, so handed us a bounty of intel.

Anyway, I wonder what the leader of GotG, Sort Dragon, who is vacationing in Japan currently, will have to say when he gets home?

Addendum: See my comment below on what has happened this morning, including the theft of a Keepstar.  More links there.

Another Structure Delivered to Fade

I missed a few days last week on the northern front.  Over the weekend I jumped back to Delve for the first time since November to join in as a logi pilot in an FC tournament.  But the efforts to draw out and Darkness and their allies in the Guardians of the Galaxy coalition continued on, and last night I was back in our staging and waiting on a titan to join in on the fun.

Waiting for a bridge to Fade

We had another anchoring Raitaru coming online on the grid with the Darkness Keepstar in DO6H-Q.  Soon enough I was up in Fade with the Ishtar fleet as we watched the anchoring timer count down.  After that the citadel would be vulnerable to destruction for fifteen minutes, after which it be online.

Ishtar fleet with many Blaze SKINs

It seemed that GotG would rise up to defend their space this time around.  On the overview was their new fleet composition.

Eagle Fleet arrives, their FC in a Loki

To counter out armor Ishtar heavy assault cruiser doctrine they picked the Caldari rail gun focused heavy assault cruiser.  They were on the field with Eagles, supporting shield logi, and a gaggle of Celestis electronic warfare cruisers to sensor damp us.  In addition they had some carriers out with fighters to support them.

As we moved around the fighters were sent our way first, but were withdrawn fairly shortly as our own drones were able to chew them up fairly quickly.  My big logi offensive for the evening came about because I managed to get on a few fighter kill mails.  However, once we finally closed with the Eagles I was too busy responding to calls for repair to launch my light drones again.

The clash was short and sharp and did not go well for the Eagles.  They got bubbled to pin them down when they started taking losses.

Eagles in the bubble

At our end we lost a few interdictors… which is something that just happens as they are priority targets and not very durable… but only one Ishtar, and they were already down to structure when I locked them up so my reps never got there. (Armor reps hit at the end of the module cycle.)  But logi managed to save everybody else who broadcast time.

The hostile fleet got out of the bubbles and withdrew, leaving us hanging around the Raitaru waiting to see if they were going to try anything else as the counter ran down.  They opted not to and we were soon tethered on the Raitaru.

Hanging in space off our latest citadel

As this was going on, a couple gates over in C8-CHY, an Imperium Raitaru on its final timer was getting pounded by a lone Phoenix dreadnought.  A drop, which included a super carrier, was organized.  While it did not save the Raitaru, it nabbed the Phoenix, so the locals ended up trading a dread that zKillboard says was worth 3.8 billion ISK for a Raitaru valued at about 600 million ISK.  Not a good exchange.

Looking at the battle report, the clash was very much in our favor.

Battle Report Header

Despite getting on those fighter kills I did not show up on the battle report, so TNT isn’t represented.  But neither were a number of the carriers.  If you don’t get on a ship kill you don’t get counted.  Still, I got to see us drop another structure in DO6H-Q.

As seen from the Darkness Keepstar

It joins a number of other Raitarus of ours in their system.

Imperium structures in blue

That seems to be the structure of choice, no doubt due to its low cost.

And so it goes.  The latest Raitaru is online, fueled, and with a module fit, so killing it will require the full three fight process rather than the two fights needed for a structure in Low Power mode.

Notes from the Pure Blind Front

We’ve been out on this deployment to the north for a while.  I do not think my main has been back to Delve since some point in November of last year.  Back at the start we were running around in VNIs shooting ratters with the same ships they were using.

VNIs leaving the station

I haven’t written that much about the deployment as this sort of guerilla warfare doesn’t always make for interesting tales.  We go shoot structures and drop on miners and ratters.  There are a few posts if you click on the Reavers tag and scroll down the posts, but that does not represent our level of activity.

However, recently a few things have happened, not all of which I was there to see first hand, so I thought I would sum up a bit of the situation.  A year from now we’ll see how all this played out, but for the moment this is what has come up.

Changes Over The Last Month

As I noted previously, Pandemic Horde moving to Geminate left something of a hole in the north that the Guardians of the Galaxy coalition was looking to fill.  They started off right after the whole million dollar battle thing by clearing all of our structures and aggressively camping our staging station, keeping it bubbled and watched.

This is a bubble camp

They seemed to tire of that after a few days and we were soon able to undock to clear the bubbles and kill some of their forces.  Eventually they gave up on that, but would aggressively defend the structures they had planted all over the system and attack any that we dropped.  Then they lost some titans and seemed to give up on activity in our staging system.  We have since been able to drop structures and chip away at theirs in system.

The New Normal

Recently we have had to go into GotG space to get them to form up, since they mostly leave our staging system alone.  We have been into the Darkness capital system to drop structures, or to reinforce their structures, on grid with their Keepstar, acts that don’t always get a response.

Shooting one of their structures, Keepstar visible

We’ve been into Deklein drop structures and reinforce their stuff to see if we can get a rise out of them.  We don’t always form up to defend what we drop or reinforce.

Deploying a Raitaru, visible between the Keepstar uprights

There was a Sotiyo engineering structure we hit, setting a timer.  A Sotiyo is where you build capitals and super capitals.   That they formed up to defend, but when the timer hit we were nowhere to be seen.  Depending on who is telling the tale, one of the titan pilots that formed up either blew up his own titan by playing the self-destruct dare game because they were bored or self-destructed and rage quit the game because they were assured we would show and we didn’t.  They self-destructed a super carrier as well.

Either way, reinforcing that Sotiyo ended up costing them a titan.  So we went back and reinforced it again, along with other structures.  And when we’re not doing that people are still out hunting miners and ratters.

A Rorqual we got after reinforcing that Sotiyo again

The Strange Tale of Bad Juice

At one point in a prod at GotG Reavers chief Asher Elias went to Reddit and posted a link to an enthusiastic video showing the locals shooting a small, undefended Imperium tower.  It was very much in the usual spirit of what happens in /r/eve, a bit of a laugh about them posting that but not fighting us.  Golf clap level stuff.  The video itself got some extra views and a few wry comments and the person who made the video, who we saw in space later that day, seemed chill about it.  More views are better, right?

Then the video maker freaked out, posted another video accusing Asher of cyber bullying for posting the link which ended up bringing legions of haters to his video and declaring that Asher could be facing up to 10 years in prison (according to Texas law).  And then there was the declaration that he wanted to face Asher in an MMA style cage match, a post which he took down because he said CCP Scorpion threatened him with a ban if he did not.  CCP Falcon showed up in that thread to say there was no CCP Scorpion and that he didn’t know anything about any of that.

The drama seemed to be too much for all concerned and the pilot ended up the week looking for a new home.

A MOA Defection

Mordus Angels, who long waged a low key guerilla war against the CFC then the Imperium when we lived in the north.  While their solo war was never more than a nuisance, once the Casino War opened up they found themselves with many allies as we were swept from our space and, in the aftermath, found themselves holding sovereignty.  They soon became part of the GotG coalition, “blue-trals” to their neighbors, and open to ratters and miners and getting fat on the bounty of null sec space.

Now it is us sitting in an NPC station waging a guerilla war against them and their allies.  Despite the occasional hysterical cry that we’re there to invade, we’ve just reversed things.  We just happen to have the economic power behind us to drop suicide dreads.

As the Monthly Economic Report earlier this week indicated, ratting and mining is down and not so very lucrative in Fade, Deklein, and Pure Blind where a lot of GotG lives.  Up in Branch however, some of the coalition are working away relatively unmolested being out of easy bridge range.

That MOA was suffering while others were making bank seemed to set off one of the MOA corps who defected to The Imperium, bringing with them some assets and snapping the local MOA owned jump bridge network.

Anyway, having been in our coalition for almost six years at this point it is bizarro world strange to have a MOA corp defecting to us.  But then, the MOA that lives in Pure Blind now is hardly the MOA that used to live in 5ZXX-K for all those years. (And a couple more corps, FWCEF and FWS, left MOA after A.N.D defected.)

Space Violence Arrives

While a couple of Imperium SIGs have been wandering the north for a while looking to harass and interdict the locals, it has often been a low key affair.  And then the Space Violence SIG announced that they had arrived with ~400 dreadnoughts and were looking for trouble.

The thing with low key is that, while the locals know you’re around and can guess pretty accurately what you can muster (and what it will take to counter), but the rest of New Eden is pretty oblivious unless something big happens, and then they only know after the fact.  That is too late for third parties.

Will a big splashy announcement about Space Violence’s arrival in the north shake things up?  NCDot has come over from Tribute to support GotG on occasion, but they know the drill, that we’ll just fade away if they bring enough supers.

Response by the Locals

Confirming what I mentioned up a way, the GotG response to our presence has gone from aggressively going after us to not forming to fight, this coming from a leak from GotG leadership.  The expectation is that they can time zone tank their structures and we’ll get bored and go away. As Asher notes, not fighting is a legit tactic, and one we have to use ourselves up in the north where we can easily find ourselves outnumbered if the locals form up.  But given our past, I think it will take a while before we tire of shooting structures and dropping our own.

Anyway, unless a war involving us breaks out somewhere in New Eden, I think we’ll be the north for a while longer.

A Tower Without Stront

The ongoing skirmishes in the north continue in and around Pure Blind.  Some times they are big.  More often they are more modest in size.  With the departure of Pandemic Horde from the area, the Guardians of the Galaxy coalition has had to pick up the slack.  That started off aggressively.   During the time of the failed million dollar battle, when our attention was elsewhere, GotG and PH cleared out all of our citadels and towers and dropped their own, towering up all the moons in the system.   On our return to Pure Blind they started bubbling our station in an attempt to camp us in.

The situation upon our return

Their resolve in this seemed to waver as we showed up regularly to break their camp and clear out the bubbles.  Their aggressive stance slackened and responses to our activity dropped off, allowing us some nice kills now and then.

Meanwhile Pandemic Horde left behind a bunch of POS towers that slowly but surely ran out of fuel and became regular targets for us to shoot.

Drones tickling an unfueled tower

We also began the slow process of rebuilding our structure base, dropping citadels and engineering complexes.  Those were contested regularly… until they weren’t, and slowly we’ve added more structures to the mix.

There was a gap in the back half of March that I missed, which included that fight where GotG lost five titans, but I’ve been back and on ops since the weekend and the pace of things has changed.  Getting capitals and super caps dropped on us was a regular event before, now we seem to be able to roam in numbers often without that.  Also, NCDot has starting getting involved, looking for some fights close to home no doubt.

They were the ones who showed up to shoot a Raitaru we had dropped, a fight that would have happened had Comcast not dropped Asher just as we were forming, leaving us without an FC.

The next night though we were back again, with another structure coming online and nobody around to oppose us.  Formed up to cover that, Asher took us to one of the towers that NCDot had dropped so we could shoot it to see if anybody would show up.

Shooting a tower with lots of hardeners

At a glance this fresh tower in our midst looked formidable, with many hardeners to up its damage resistance, portending a long and dull shoot to put it into reinforced state.  However, the person who put up the tower had placed the hardeners but hadn’t gotten around to putting them online.  So they were merely decorative.

As nobody seemed to be forming to fight us, Asher called out a bit of heavy support to speed things along.

Nags add their weight to the shoot

They came in for a siege cycle then docked back up as the shield quickly approached the 25% level, at which point the tower would be reinforced and become a target for another day.

And then the tower dropped to 24% and we realized that, in addition to the hardeners, the tower also lacked any strontium clathrates, the ice mining derivative that fuels a towers reinforcement mode.  Without that we could just sit there and burn the tower down and kill it.

That’s right Pee-wee, the secret word is “Unstronted!”

And, in a moment of things just not rolling NCDot’s way, seemingly just seconds after the shields dropped below 25% an NCDot pilot warped into the POS shields, no doubt carrying some stront with which to fuel the tower.  However, once the shields are below 50% you can neither add nor remove any stront, so he was already way too late, but it seemed especially galling that he should arrive just when the tower’s fate was sealed. (The amount of stront determines how long the tower will remain reinforced, so defenders will tinker with the amount in a tower being attacked to get a favorable time period for the next round.)

We kept on shooting, all the more enthusiastic now that a kill mail was on the menu.

My alt in a laser Vexor adding to the firepower

Once we were past the shields, where the bulk of the Caldari tower’s defenses lay, things went much more quickly and we were rewarded with that tower kill mail along with kill mails for all of those hardeners.

The hardeners being popped

The day when POS towers will be removed from the game is still coming.  In a way I will miss their quirks compared to the citadel defense mechanics.  And few things can brighten up a structure shoot than learning that the tower you’re shooting won’t require a second visit because the defenders forgot to fuel up with stront.

And so the game goes on in the north.  We shoot their stuff and drop our own structures.  If they don’t come to defend, then we move outward to shoot stuff closer to their home.  If they do defend then we get a fight.

Guardian with a Kill Mark

You know you’re in a target rich environment when even logi manages to get a kill mark.

Our fleet at the scene

A Nidhoggur tried to interrupt what was supposed to be a quick bubble clear op, got trapped, got a Lif dropped for support, then dreads, and then a fleet of bombers.  The latter dropped piecemeal at fairly close range and engaged us with torpedoes leading to a situation one might call a “feed.”

The end was a bunch of dead ships on the field, most of which were theirs.

Wrecks around the station, our cap chain visible in the distance

We escalated as well and sacrificed some dreads to kill their caps, but the end result was very much in our favor according to the battle report.

Battle Report Summary

And we got all the bubbles cleared in the end as well.  Op success.

And, since I mentioned it in the title, I suppose I had better show it off in the post.

Kill mark in the red circle

That little mark means I managed to get the final blow on somebody’s ship.

Daredevil Race

Ranger Gama drew Asher in the Theta Squad Secret Santa gift exchange, so his problem immediately became, “What do you get the 23rd best FC in the Imperium?”

He decided to get Asher a Reavers event since Theta just krabs in Delve day and night I suppose.

The event was to be a frigate race.  The route and frigate type were to be announced at the time of the race when Ranger Gama would hand them out.  He imported ten frigates, one for himself, one for Asher, and eight more for whoever showed up in time to claim one.

The planned time for the race was delayed on a couple of occasions, which worked out for me as I happened to sit down at my desk just after Asher pinged Reavers to let them know it was on.  I was in soon enough to claim one of the frigates, which turned out to be a Daredevil, a Serpentis faction frigate.

Me being me, I quickly logged an alt into Jita to buy a SKIN because I just can’t undock anymore without one.  The Glacial Drift SKIN was available and cheap, but then I saw some of the Serpentis Victory SKINs listed as well.  Those were given away as part of Alliance Tournament XV.  They were much more pricey, going for over 300 million ISK, but also more rare.  So I picked up one of those and contracted it to myself and activated it.

Daredevil in the hangar with a new SKIN

The race was originally going to be a point-to-point run, but Asher suggested something to make it more interesting… or dangerous… or both… so the instructions were updated in the fleet MOTD.

The route, with one five minute stop

Each of the ships had a name for the occasion.  I ended up with the ship named “In.”

We undocked our frigates and met up on a citadel in ROIR.  From there the race began.

The frigates themselves were setup for speed, capable of well over 5km/sec with the included faction MWD burning.  Otherwise, as you can see from one of the Daredevils that got caught, there was a bit of shielding and some festival launchers armed with fireworks to use along the way.

Festival Launchers on the ship

As we flew off Apple Pear showed up and was given a ship.  Only seven had been handed out so he started off a few gates behind us.  Given that the route was static and everybody was warping at the same speed he needed some hostile intervention to help his cause.

The rest of us warped along towards the first destination.

Daredevil in warp

This was where I started to have problems.  I was up with the leaders when one of our cats managed to get himself caught in the handle of a shopping bag which was hooked over the door across the hall from me and began to thrash wildly, seeming more likely to harm himself via that than anything the bag would do.  I dropped my headset, grabbed him, lifted him up to take off any strain, then calmed him for a bit before slipping his head out and letting him run off.  He was okay and I had my daughter dispose of the bag, but now I was behind the pack, though still out in front of Apple Pear.  At least I was still alive, having sat uncloaked on a gate for a bit.

Then I ran into another issue.  When we arrived in JU-OWQ in Deklein, my auto-pilot route sent me back the way we came to get to C4C-Z4.  I still do not understand why, as I checked later and did not see any systems anywhere close by on my avoid list.  So I passed by Apple Pear going the other way, made it through CCP-US, where he had reported a gate camp on both gates, and on towards Fade.

Fortunately there was nothing in the rules about the route, just the requirement to hit the specified waypoints, so that my route differed from the route everybody else took didn’t matter.

Some space maps with routes

Well, it did matter a bit.  My route was two jumps longer, but it turned out to be a bit safe as Asher and the rest of the pack ran into some trouble, with two Daredevils getting popped in K4YZ-Y.  I made it to C4C without incident, but was easily 3 minutes behind Asher, Ranger Gama, and Norgraad. I warped on grid with the Keepstar and started burning away from it and the few carriers that had fighters out to try and nab us.

On grid with the PH Keepstar

Asher and Ranger Gama seemed to do okay, but Norgraad managed to get popped by the locals, though gamely carried on in his pod.  They warped off, heading to the next waypoint while I lingered on grid watching the stopwatch on my iPhone slowly count off the minutes.  The leaders were reporting some people waiting for them ahead, but by the time I was able to warp off towards the next destination they seemed to have given up.  I left Apple Pear behind on the Keepstar grid and went in chase of the leaders.

While there was mutterings on coms about the dangers ahead, they were often vague, like the leaders did not want to help those chasing them catch up.  But it didn’t really matter.  The only hope I had of catching up was to warp straight from gate to gate and just hope to crash or burn past any gate camp.  So off I went.

Fortunately for myself an Apple Pear, the path through was pretty sparsely populated.  At least that was fortunate for us as far as staying alive went.  It also meant that there wasn’t much to slow down Asher or Ranger Gama or even Norgraad in his pod.  Norgraad’s slow warps mean I was able to pass him at least.  He got caught in Cloud Ring while I burned on.

The Cloud Ring nebula

The only real peril for me was at the Alsavoinon gate in F7C-H0.  There, on the boarder between null sec and low was the expected camp with a bubble setup.  I landed straight in it and the campers were slow enough to react to my arrival that I thought I might make it through to the gate unscathed.  However, burning in as fast as I did I hit the gate and bounced off it so far that I had to burn in again.  I took some damage, dropping to half shields, as I made my way back to the gate again, but got through and was on my way.

Low sec space posed no threat and it wasn’t until the path brought me back into null sec that I ran into some additional trouble.  There was a drag bubble in EWOK-K on the O-N8XZ gate that pulled me out of warp shy of the gate.

Burning to the gate again

However, no hostiles were minding the store and a lone TNT pilot was plinking away at the bubble to take it down.  I would have joined in to help… Asher and Ranger Gama were already over the finish line… but fireworks don’t do much.  After that it was just a few more empty gates and I was over the finish line myself.  There I burned over to Asher and Ranger Gama and joined in the shooting of fireworks.

Apple Pear showed up after a bit, followed by Elisha Okaski, who made it all the way from K4YZ-Y in his pod, earning him a special commendation.

For my third place finish I won a free ship of the line for whatever Asher’s next Reavers doctrine ends up being, mostly because Ranger Gama was the organizer so counted himself and Asher out of the contest.  Elisha Okaski will get a ship as well for persevering through most of the race in a pod.

I handed Ranger Gama back my ship so he could use them for some future event and thanked him for setting this up and, of course, declaring me one of the prize winners.  We’ll have to see what the next doctrine ends up being.

That was probably my last op of the year.  Below some screen shots of us shooting fireworks.  We had to turn the MWDs off as the ships were otherwise outrunning the launchers.