The battle was instigated by Pandemic Legion [-10.0] forces. The alliance once again deployed a Raitaru engineering complex in Phoenix Federation (PF) space, this time in the CJNF-J system. With the structure set to online on the morning of the 5th of April, both sides prepared for another clash in what has become a long series of battles.
PF organized a 70 pilot Tengu strategic cruiser fleet in order to remove the structure. The force bridged ahead of time to the system, arriving first and landing at a perch above the deploying structure. The coalition also had the support of Tactical Supremacy [TIKLE] and Dangerous Voltage [DV]. The two alliances formed a joint 60 pilot Gila cruiser fleet to aid PF forces. Their fleet made its way from the Catch region, holding on a gate one system out to wait for the hostiles’ arrival.
Pandemic Legion for its part had 60 pilot Machariel battleship fleet assembled to defend the structure. The fleet included a squadron of combat carriers as well as a few Apostle force auxiliaries. Two squadrons of dreadnoughts were also organized but remained docked in the alliance’s Fortizar citadel in case the “Attackers” would escalate matters as happened before. With PF forces already present and the structure set to enter its vulnerability phase within a few minutes, the Machariel fleet left the confines of the citadel and prepared to bridge into the system.
It was at that point that everything went wrong. A latecomer to the PF fleet needed to bridge in to join the main force. The Fidelas Constans obliged, since the cynosural beacon was still lit in the system. However, as the titan prepared to open the portal, its pilot made a classic mistake. Instead of choosing to bridge, the titan pilot chose to jump to the beacon. This resulted in the titan materializing on the field near the Tengu fleet.
This caught everyone by surprise. Pandemic Legion reacted quickly to the new development, calling all of their scouts present in the system to warp to the titan and light a cynosural beacon to allow its fleet through. PF fleet commanders managed to recover from their shock and had the titan pilot align to a safe spot and prepare to warp off. Unfortunately, one of the PF heavy interdictors had its warp disruption field active at the time, forcing the fleet to wait for its deactivation.
One of the Pandemic Legion scouts landed near the behemoth and activated its cynosural field generators. The beacon lit up, allowing an Apostle and combat carrier through. However PF forces opened fire on the ship swiftly destroying it thus dispelling the beacon. With the beacon gone, Pandemic Legion was unable to bridge in its fleet. The Pandemic Legion Apostle though had its own cynosural field generator fitted and replaced the scout as a beacon. With a new beacon on the field, Pandemic Legion had its entire fleet jump through, including the dreadnought squadrons.
Even so, Pandemic Legion didn’t have the titan tackled. The behemoth aligned to a safe location was set to warp out, the heavy interdictor’s warp disruption field going down. Yet, before it could initiate warp, a friendly interdictor accidentally snared it in a warp disruption probe. The interdictor attempted to screen the fleet and the titan from the hostiles but instead ended up helping them. With the titan pinned down, the Pandemic Legion fleet had enough time to jump through and properly ensnare the giant. Dreadnoughts were told to immediately enter siege cycles and focus on the beast while the Machariel fleet targeted the strategic cruisers.
The battle flared up near the titan as the Tengu and Machariel fleets tangled in a close quarters brawl. The Tengu fleet attempted to draw range from the battleships, targeting tackle and logistics ships. In rapid succession interdictors and logistics cruisers were felled by the strategic cruisers’ railguns. The Machariel fleet retaliated in kind, ripping apart Scythe cruisers and Scimitar logistics cruisers with autocannon fire. Back and forth the two fleets traded logistics ships. It was the Pandemic Legion’s logistics wing which was completely decimated, the vast majority of its ships obliterated in the opening volleys. This forced Pandemic Legion to rely on its force auxiliaries which severely limited the fleet’s mobility.
The Gila fleet joined the fray as well, warping at range of the two fleets and unleashing its swarm of drones. The drone cloud rushed into the rank of battleships, tearing its way through the brown hulls. One by one, battleships faltered and exploded in bright explosions as the drone horde tore through them. Even with force auxiliaries on the field, the Gila fleet was able to exact a toll from the battleships. The drones simply hopped from one battleship to the next, searching and exploited weaknesses in the force auxiliaries’ coverage.
The Machariel fleet remind focused on annihilated the Tengu fleet. The Pandemic Legion dreadnoughts had finished their task, dispatching the Avatar while the sub capitals fought. With the titan destroyed, the dreadnoughts waited for their siege cycles to run out so as to extract. All the while, the Raitaru finished deploying and started the process to online, the combatants seemingly forgetting its existence entirely.
Taking heavy losses, the Tengu fleet focused its firepower on one of the dreadnoughts, bent on exacting some toll from Pandemic Legion. The Tengu fleet managed to take down the dreadnought but with mounting losses chose to warp off and rally. Pandemic Legion attempted to snag as many ships it could, dispatching those caught. At the same time, the Gila fleet continued to harass the battleship fleet, staying safely out of range of the autocannons while striking with its drones.
Unable to pursue the Gila fleet and having pushed back PF forces, Pandemic Legion concentrated on extracting its remaining dreadnoughts as well as its fleet. The dreadnoughts warped down to the Raitaru which was close to becoming operational. Once on the structure, the capital ships allowed themselves to be tethered to the structure while an exit cynosural beacon was sorted. Once the last dreadnought made it to the engineering complex, the battleship fleet followed suit, holding its fire so as to clear its combat timer to allow its ships to tether as well.
The Tengu fleet however was not about to give up. Unable to take Pandemic Legion head on, the strategic cruisers turned their attention on destroying the engineering complex instead. The Tengu fleet warped to a perch above the grid before attempting to land at long range of the structure so as to blast it out of the battleship guns’ range. Yet as it executed the maneuver, a warp disruption probe launched near the structure caused the entire fleet to be dragged, landing at the structure itself. With the Tengu fleet at point blank range, the Pandemic Legion forces started blasting the strategic cruisers who tried to escape.
This gave the Raitaru all the time needed to finally online, securing the structure and the objective for Pandemic Legion. With the Tengu fleet having suffered heavy losses and the objective lost, PF forces chose to retreat, conceding the field. The Gila fleet followed suit, as Pandemic Legion seemed unwilling to battle the cruisers. This left Pandemic Legion as the sole victor on the field.
With the titan destroyed and the battle won, Pandemic Legion extracted its dreadnoughts from the field, followed shortly by the battered remains of its battleship fleet. The departure of Pandemic Legion’s forces from the system marked the end of hostilities.
Battle report for the CJNF-J system can be found here.
All told, the battle lasted 34 minutes with Time Dilation not reported and the system hosting an estimated 240 pilots at the peak of the fighting.
PF and allies lost a combined 66 ships including 1 titan and 18 strategic cruisers for a total of 111.41 billion ISK damage.
Pandemic Legion lost 42 ships including 1 dreadnought and 9 battleships for a total of 16.14 billion ISK damage.
Salivan Harddin is a member of Hoover Inc., Pandemic Legion, and covers battles across New Eden