MB-NKE system, Catch region. On the 18th of December at 19:53 EVE Standard Time, Providence Bloc and League of Unaligned Master Pilots [LUMPY] clashed in the system in a battle that quickly escalated to a full capital brawl.

The battle was prompted by Providence Bloc, after League of Unaligned Master Pilots informed them that they were going to roam the region. League of Unaligned Master Pilots had run a series of training fleets for its junior fleet commanders and needed a breather, opting to form a 70 pilot Raven battleship fleet with a couple of force auxiliaries, a Lif and a Ninazu, in tow. Before the fleet could leave its staging system of MB-NKE, reports came of a Providence Bloc force arriving in the system and holding position on the WLAR-J gate.

Providence Bloc had organized an 80 pilot Proteus strategic cruiser fleet. The force traveled from its staging system to MB-NKE and settled on the WLAR-J gate, where it deployed a warp disruption field and waited, challenging the locals. League of Unaligned Master Pilots accepted the challenge, warping its Raven fleet straight to the gate and the awaiting strategic cruisers, force auxiliaries in tow. As the fleet exited warp and landed near the Providence Bloc force, both sides opened fire, starting the battle.

The initial engagement saw very little exchanged between the two fleets. For the most part, the Proteus fleet kept close range with the battleships, hammering at them with beam laser and railgun fire. The Ravens did not hold back, bombarding the incoming strategic cruisers with salvos of cruise missiles. Yet as the two fleets tangled, their respective logistics wings managed to soak the damage, leading to very few losses. For the next few minutes the two sides kept probing for weaknesses, managing to catch only a few pilots off guard.

Wishing to escalate, Providence Bloc lit a cynosural beacon on the field and brought in seven dreadnoughts. The dreadnoughts wasted no time and entered their siege cycles, capital turrets turning slowly and locking on the Raven fleet’s force auxiliaries. The first barrage saw the Ninazu dispatched, the capital ship trying and failing to tank the incoming damage. With the Ninazu gone, the dreadnoughts turned their attention to the Lif. A couple of minutes later it shared its comrade’s fate, destroyed at the hands of the dreadnoughts.

The Raven fleet quickly reacted to this development, switching its targets and focusing on removing the dreadnoughts from the field. A continuous missile bombardment saw one of the behemoths cave in and explode, but by that time the force auxiliaries had been destroyed. Without their force auxiliaries, the battleships could no longer tank the incoming damage. With the tide of the battle turned against them, the League of Unaligned Master Pilots fleet commanders decided to withdraw, securing a perch above the gate and warping their fleet there to wait for further reinforcements as dreadnought pilots were desperately sought to counter Providence Bloc’s.

The Providence Bloc fleet was not about to let their enemies regroup and surged forward, strategic cruisers attempting to tackle as many of the battleships as possible. Barrages of fire hit the Ravens, easily overcoming their shields, the remaining logistics cruisers unable to fill the void left by the loss of the force auxiliaries. Unable to tank, battleships were torn apart, leading to soaring losses for League of Unaligned Master Pilots. Even so, the majority of the fleet managed to escape the slaughter and landed on the perch.

With some distance put between them, the two fleets stared at each other, waiting for the other to make a move. League of Unaligned Master Pilots, meanwhile, secured nine dreadnoughts and a replacement force auxiliary, this time a Minokawa. With its capital support ready, the Raven fleet warped its main force to 50 kilometers off the Providence Bloc dreadnoughts which still remained on the field, while its capitals warped straight to them. As the lumbering capital ships landed, they entered their siege cycles and start exchanging fire with the Providence Bloc dreadnoughts, aided by their battleships.

Capital munitions were exchanged at point blank, the sub capital fleets quickly settling into helping their dreadnoughts, focusing fire with them. Unknown to League of Unaligned Master Pilots, Providence Bloc wished for this escalation, having two more dreadnought squadrons in reserve, not to mention a carrier squadron. As the two capital forces started slugging it out, Providence Bloc brought in its remaining capitals. Dreadnoughts and carriers suddenly materialized on the field, joining the fray to the surprise of the Raven fleet.

Yet at that point League of Unaligned Master Pilots had some luck. The capital fleet commander for Providence Bloc lost his connection to the server, effectively leaving the Providence Bloc capital wing leaderless. The confusion which ensued meant that only half of the dreadnoughts entered siege cycles, depriving much of Providence Bloc’s firepower, not to mention a lack of coordinated fire. This gave the League of Unaligned Master Pilots’ capitals a fighting chance. For a few minutes a furious exchange unfolded, with dreadnoughts on both sides caving in to the onslaught unleashed on them and exploding.

Back and forth went the capital trade, with the Raven fleet managing to score a dreadnought kill only to see the Proteus fleet even the score a few moments later. Even though the two sides fought bitterly, it was obvious at that point that Providence Bloc would triumph. Providence Bloc had the greater capital numbers, not to mention most of its main fleet remained intact, while League of Unaligned Master Pilots had suffered severe losses in the previous fighting and was virtually outnumbered 4 to 1 in the capital department.

A few minutes later, Providence Bloc managed to finally overcome the last dreadnoughts remaining for the Raven fleet. With the capitals gone, came the turn of the battleships themselves. Capital turrets, fighter squadrons and of course the strategic cruisers turned their guns on the Ravens. In rapid succession, the battleships were destroyed, leaving only a few to warp out and safe up in the citadel in the system. This left Providence Bloc in command of the field.

But League of Unaligned Master Pilots was not beaten. Quickly reforming, the alliance re-shipped and brought an 80 pilot Gila cruiser fleet. While the fleet was assembling, interdictors were sent on suicide missions to the WLAR-J gate, where the mass of Providence Bloc capitals still lingered, awaiting extraction. The interdictors kept a portion of the capitals pinned on the gate grid, sacrificing themselves at times to keep Providence Bloc from withdrawing. Finally the Gila fleet was ready, warping back to the gate grid and landing at 80 kilometers from the Providence Bloc Proteus fleet.

By then, Providence Bloc managed to extract a great deal of its capitals, but a few were still stranded thanks to the League of Unaligned Master Pilots’ interdictors. The Proteus fleet remained on grid and attempted to help the capitals by dispatching the interdictors whenever it could. This allowed the Gila fleet to engage the strategic cruisers, unleashing a swarm of drones. The cloud of drone headed straight towards the Providence Bloc logistics wing. Within moments the Guardian logistics cruisers became engulfed by the drones and swiftly torn apart by their fire.

After a couple of minutes, nearly the entire logistics wing of the Proteus fleet had been devoured by the Gilas’ drones, leaving the strategic cruisers vulnerable. With the Providence Bloc force auxiliaries having extracted already, the Proteus fleet had no back up logistics ships. The drone cloud descended next on the strategic cruisers, dispatching them with the same ease as it did their logistics cruisers. More and more strategic cruisers succumbed to the onslaught of the Gila drones and exploded, the light of their death illuminating the drone swarm. The Proteus fleet tried to fire back but could do very little as the Gilas kited out of the range of its guns.

With three capitals still tackled and taking heavy losses, the Proteus fleet had no choice but to retreat. Quickly, the fleet perched above the gate before warping back down to the gate itself and jumping out. The Gila fleet chose not to pursue, instead focusing its fire on a tackled dreadnought and carrier which remained near the gate. The Gila drones flew towards the capital ships, covering them and tearing into them as it did to their sub capital support. With no defense against the drones, the two capital ships were easily destroyed leaving only a last dreadnought still stranded on the grid.

With the route of Providence Bloc’s forces taking them through the Curse region, The Gila fleet decided to try and intercept the fleeing Providence Bloc fleet and warped off to a titan in order to bridge ahead of Providence Bloc. This left the stranded dreadnought to be destroyed by allied forces of League of Unaligned Master Pilots who descended upon the lone capital ship in the Gilas absence. Scores of stealth bombers and other assorted ships gathered around the ship and bombarded it, the stealth bombers unleashing countless flights of torpedoes which finally brought the ship down. Thus the last Providence Bloc capital met its fate in MB-NKE.

In the meantime, Providence Bloc hurried back to its own region, taking the route through the Curse region rather than risk a trip through Catch. This turned out to be a mistake, as League of Unaligned Master Pilots scouted the route of Providence Bloc’s retreat and chose to cut it off. As Providence Bloc strategic cruisers jumped into the Jamunda system in Curse, they were followed by the Gila fleet which had bridged behind them only seconds after. Interdictors jumped in immediately and once again launched warp interdiction probes, trapping a large portion of the strategic cruisers on the gate.

The Gila fleet wasted no time in following through and releasing a new batch of drones in order to resume its assault on the retreating Proteus fleet. The Gilas didn’t even bother taking range, keeping close to the strategic cruisers which attempted to burn away from the gate and the cover of warp disruption probes. Taking the advantage, the Gila drones swooped in and started annihilating strategic cruisers. One after another Proteus and Legion strategic cruisers were torn apart by the remorseless drones. Finally a large enough portion of the Proteus fleet managed to free itself and warped off, jumping out of the system as soon as it landed and not stopping until it reached the safety of its staging system.

The Gila fleet declined to pursue, content instead in removing the last few stragglers before extracting back to its staging system, having secured a costly victory. Thus, the battle MB-NKE came to an end.

The Battle from the Perspective of League of Unaligned Master Pilots

Battle report for the MB-NKE and Jamunda systems can be found here.

All told the battle on its various parts lasted 42 minutes with Time Dilation not reported and local in MB-NKE reaching a peak of 243 pilots at the height of the first engagement.

Providence Bloc lost 48 ships in the fighting, including 11 dreadnoughts, 1 carrier and 14 strategic cruisers for a total of 47.22 billion ISK damage.
League of Unaligned Master Pilots lost 74 ships in the fighting, including 9 dreadnoughts, 3 force auxiliary and 30 battleships for a total of 52.44 billion ISK damage.

Salivan Harddin is a member of V0LTA, WE FORM V0LTA, and covers battles across New Eden