The economic war in the north of New Eden continues.
It is we of the CFC, versus Raiden and their allies, in an effort to deny each other the economic largess of tech moon profits.
It is a war of timers and time zones as each side attempts to disrupt production and destroy infrastructure.
And so the call went out again for another fleet operation. Structures in one of our systems, EWN-2U, had been put in reinforced mode, meaning that when the timer ran out on that, Raiden would be able to destroy them.
For a weekday fleet operation, this one started later than usual. Thank the timer I suppose, but I was able to join up after work. Again I was part of the Drake fleet.
We rallied in the usual location and moved off for our forward staging area. I was a bit surprised to come out of warp right on top of one of our Avatars, a titan class supercapitals.
The Avatar was there to bridge us out to where we would defend. The question was, would the enemy show up?
We waited for the cyno to be lit, the target for the jump, while we all hovered at 2,000m from the titan.
By default, the hold ranges you can pick are 500m, 1,000m, and 2,500m, but by this point I had finally figured out that the “hold at range” button on the overview could be set to a different value.
So we hung there in space, waiting. Would we go, or would we stand down once more?
The announcement came through that the cyno was lit. We were to jump through, deep into the Branch region.
We jumped in one system over from our destination, EWN-2U. As with the previ0us night, Zarks was our fleet commander and Raegelan was the Drake anchor ship, the person we were all supposed to follow every time we dropped out of warp.
We formed up, if only for practice in the system, PKG4-7. As somebody noted, having the systems “BKG” and “PKG” in the same region seemed… unfortunate.
We flew around a bit, then got the order to align to the gate to EWN, which happened to be 90 degrees off of our course, so our trail formation turned to become line abreast as we took the warp to the gate.
Then we were in EWN. We flew to the station bubble where the Maelstroms of the Alpha Fleet were waiting. We cruised some more, wondering what would happen.
And then the count of players in the local channel started to climb rapidly. Raiden was coming to contest the tower. They were going to play in our time slot.
We warped away from the station, then warped again, then warped back to within sight of the station and could see the Alpha Fleet already engaged. Blobs of enemy ships appeared around them.
We warped to one and the routine of battle started.
Zarks would call targets, flagging them in the fleet window, where we would lock them up and get a shot. Zarks, who sounds calm at all times, would read out the first three letters of the name of the target and call it “primary” or “secondary.”
This would change rapidly as an enemy ship would warp away after taking damage or become the targeting of shield reinforcing ships and become practically invulnerable. Lock, fire, lock, fire, lock, lock, lock, fire.
The changes in targets often came faster than my ship could target them. For a while I was hitting every other indicated target. If my launchers were cycling at the wrong moment I could miss two or three targets.
Then the other fleet would warp a few hundred kilometers away and we would follow. Then when we started taking damage, we would warp away.
This went on for a while. Only once was I targeted by the enemy, and I barely had time to notice. As my shields went down, I called for reinforcement and then we warped away from the battle for a moment. So while my shields never got repaired, I never got hit again either. Score one for the psychic reppers I suppose.
We went back in again, but during this pass both Zarks and Reagelan were unshipped and warped us to an asteroid belt to regroup. We were taking damage and losing ships.
But then the news came down the line that the Alpha Fleet was in much worse shape. The Maelstroms were taking heavy losses.
The decision was made to merge the two fleets. We left Drake Fleet and joined Alpha. Or most of us did. It turned out that we were a bit better off than we thought, as a reinforcement fleet also showed up at about that time. Those of us who could warped to Dabigredboat, the Alpha Fleet leader and went back into action.
Dabigredboat, or just Boat, has a different style. While Zarks has the calm demeanor of a DJ on a classical music station, Boat is much more… frantic. But he does impart an energy as he shouts target names over coms.
For a while it was the same as before, lock, lock, shoot, warp, lock, lock, shoot as primary and secondary targets were called out. And then there was a change, a moment where the battle turned, where we had peeled back enough of their support ships and suddenly we were making kills.
Boat changed up and started calling out to just shoot anything in range, which always makes me a bit nervous, since the overview has a habit of flagging a friendly every so often. But it was lock and shoot and kill.
Then the enemy faded and we were on the field alone.
And we had won.
We warped to the PKG gate to catch as many as we could trying to flee and managed to catch a few, but that was the end of organized resistance. The tower was still up, repaired, and out of danger for the moment.
Boat then announced it was time to loot while he went and got his dinner out of the oven. I managed to scoop up some faction ammo before my tiny Drake cargo bay was full.
And then people started clamoring to head home. Boat however was still off getting his dinner ready. So people started organizing their own groups to head home. A few people tried to burn though solo, but it was a long way by slow boat and there was, of course, a gate camp. There is always some PvP corp waiting for battles so they can pop stragglers.
We nearly had a decent size blob of ships ready to pound through and gate camp, because even a 20 ship camp comes apart when 100 Drakes jump through, when Boat finally got back on coms. He got people pointed in the right direction and started the flight back home, though we had to stop and chase every single red or neutral than we came across, all the while hearing about how juicy and tender his chicken dinner was and how somebody at some time tried to bed some other player. But we got home.
The kill mails had already started getting linked around.
The overall battle shows us making 161 kills for 217 ships lost. When measured by ship value, the ratio was a little closer, with use killing 21 billion ISK worth of ships for a loss of 24 billion ISK. The joy of cheap Drakes taking down Tengus worth ten times the price.
While we lost more ships, we ended up in possession of the system and the moon mining operation, something that can generate several billion ISK in revenues every month, continued. The Raiden summary seems to align with this.
And I managed to get my first ever PvP kills in EVE Online. I only started playing the game in August of 2006. It just took me a while to get around to it.
Over 600 pilots we involved. Time dilation, the slowing down of the battle so that the server side end of things can keep up, kicked in during the battle. I think we got down to running at 65% speed at one point.
And, because I am never happy just playing the game, but feel some need to chronicle these sorts of events, there is an associated movie on YouTube.
This is clipped together to give some sense of how it felt, while the music, another title from the EVE Online sound track, gives the whole thing the proper frantic feel. There is a segment in the middle where I left the UI on so you can see me flailing about to target and shoot.
And so went my first actual null sec fleet battle. It was frantic fun while it lasted. It didn’t seem like two and a half hours. Except listening to Boat talk about his chicken. That did seem to be on time dilation.