SF-XJS system, Tenal region. On the 10th of April at 19:51 EVE Standard Time, a battle unfolded in the system over a Fortizar citadel.
The citadel in question had been deployed by League of Unaligned Master Pilots [LUMPY]. The alliance, along with a coalition of alliances inhabiting the region had been waging war with neighboring residents of the Drone Regions Federation (DRF), most notably in the Cobalt Edge region. DRF forces sought to strike back, targeting the deploying structure.
Preparing for the citadel’s defense, League of Unaligned Master Pilots gathered its allies against what seemed like an overwhelming number of hostiles. League of Unaligned Master Pilots managed to assemble a 60 pilot combat carrier fleet supported by several smaller fleets including a 30 pilot Harpy assault frigate fleet, a 30 pilot Cormorant destroyer fleet and a 50 pilot Machariel battleship fleet. Further assistance was given by Out of Sight. [OOS] which contributed several stealth bomber squadrons.
DRF forces mustered an impressive armada to counter the defenders. A full (256 pilot) Proteus strategic cruiser fleet, a mixed Tempest\Machariel battleship fleet and a pure Machariel fleet, together estimated at 250 pilots as well as fourth kitchen sink fleet.
As the Fortizar exited it deployment phase and started to online, League of Unaligned Master Pilots lit a cynosural beacon on the structure to let through its combat carrier fleet. The capital ships positioned themselves on the structures, prepared to engage the hostiles. One by one DRF forces filtered into the system, warping in range of the combat carriers and ready to engage.
The two sides opened fire immediately, the combat carriers sending their fighter squadrons after the strategic cruisers and battleships who returned fire, destroying many fighters. The Tenal Machariel fleet mainly skirmished with the attackers, launching a series of hit and run attacks and occasionally managing to volley a ship. The Harpy fleet also skirted the main fight, picking off support. The Cormorant fleet however proved unlucky and was easily dispatched by the attackers.
Out of Sight. bombers became increasingly active as the battle raged on, swooping in with their deadly payload. The strategic cruiser fleet was able to easily avoid the damage, warping off as the bombs detonated harmlessly in its wake. However the Tempest\Machariel fleet was less lucky and was decimated by direct hits. Slowly, the Fortizar was taking damage throughout the exchange which stopped it from going online and chipping away at its health points.
DRF forces decided to deal with the League of Unaligned Master Pilots’ combat carriers and lit a cynosural beacon in range of the structure and the mass of combat carriers. Through the beacon jumped two squadrons of combat carriers fitted for space superiority with a few force auxiliaries mixed in for logistics support. The carriers unleashed their horde of space superiority fighters, targeting the hostile fighter squadrons in an attempt to gain dominance.
League of Unaligned Master Pilots waited for that moment. Launching its interdictor wing, the ships quickly swarmed the DRF capital ships and covered them in a thick cover of warp disruption probes. With the capitals tackled, a new cynosural beacon lit up on Fortizar itself, ushering in Pandemic Legion [-10.0]. The alliance had waited in reserve the whole time, bringing a 60 pilot super capital fleet with a couple of force auxiliary squadrons to serve as logistics wing. The titans hit the grid, activating doomsday devices and targeting the DRF capital ships. Beams of light surged forth, engulfing the afflicted ships which quickly exploded.
The Pandemic Legion super carriers unleashed their own fighter squadrons, sending them after the DRF’s battleships and strategic cruisers. League of Unaligned Master Pilots brought its own super carrier force to the field, fielding nearly two full squadrons. With the number of fighters on the field nearly tripling, DRF forces started hemorrhaging ships left and right as the drones descended upon them. Battleships and strategic cruisers alike soon fell victim to the fighter swarm, forcing their fleets time and again to warp to perches on the grid or pings on the other side of the structure.
This gave the fleets a temporary reprieve as the fighter cloud was forced to travel hundreds of kilometers to engage the ships again. At this point the DRF decided to change tactics. With Pandemic Legion forces on the field, escalation was no longer possible. Instead DRF fleet commanders decided to focus their fire on the structure and destroy it at any costs, thus achieving their mission.
DRF fleets would warp away from the fighter swarms, landing at opposite sides of the grid and immediately target the Fortizar. Barrage after barrage was fired at the vulnerable structure, DRF fleet commanders trying to squeeze every second they could before warping off as the fighter swarm caught on. Each of these warps would see several mainline ships lost, but also the structure lose a small percentage of health. This process repeated itself for almost 20 minutes.
With the DRF capitals destroyed, Pandemic Legion’s titans switched tactic as well and started to fire their energy lances. Swords of light stabbed at the DRF fleets from the mass of super capitals, inflicting damage and even claiming ships in their attacks. The DRF’s Machariel fleet was the most unfortunate, caught full on by a titan’s lance attack. Nearly half the mainline ships evaporated as the energy beam washed through the battleship formation.
Throughout this, Out of Sight. stealth bombers kept diving in, losing a few ships but delivering their deadly payload and adding to general death toll. Even so, DRF forces persevered and kept hammering the structure. The Pandemic Legion’s liberal usage of titan lances started to take effect on the friendly fleets. The continued use of doomsday devices drained the capacitor of nearby ships, including the League of Unaligned Master Pilots’ combat carriers. With many of the combat carrier pilots focusing their attention on fighter management or using their super carrier characters they didn’t notice their combat carriers draining of energy. Several combat carriers ran dry and were forced to shut down shield hardeners, making them more vulnerable. Whats more the lances themselves did not differentiate friend from foe and often passed through the carriers. This caused several of the carriers to suffer catastrophic damage, leading to their destruction.
DRF forces managed to bring the citadel to the brink of destruction, sacrificing much to reach that point. The final blow came from a Pandemic Legion lance, as another titan attempted to hit one of the DRF fleets. The lance’s path went through the structure causing it damage. This proved to be the last straw and the afflicted structure caved in, exploding slowly.
With the structure destroyed, DRF forces had completed their mission and immediately retreated, having suffered heavy losses during the fight. League of Unaligned Master Pilots had no choice but to loot the field and attempt to recoup some of its losses, salvaging what it could while Pandemic Legion extracted its fleet. With Pandemic Legion gone and the field picked clean, League of Unaligned Master Pilots and their allies withdrew as well, having won the fight but lost the objective. This brought an end to the fight.
The Battle from the Perspective of the Drone Regions Federation Proteus Fleet
The Battle from the Perspective of the League of Unaligned Master Pilots Super Carriers
Battle report for the SF-XJS system can be found here.
All told the battle lasted one hour with Time Dilation being ever present, reaching upwards of 20-30% at times. The system itself hosted nearly 900 pilots at one point in the fighting.
League of Unaligned Master Pilots and its various allies lost a combined 170 ships, including 8 combat carriers, 2 force auxiliaries and 4 battleships for a total of 41.61 billion ISK damage.
DRF forces lost 427 ships in comparison, including 16 combat carriers, 3 force auxiliaries, 108 battleships and 87 strategic cruisers for a grand total of 159.84 billion ISK damage.
Salivan Harddin is a member of Hoover Inc., Pandemic Legion, and covers battles across New Eden