E9KD-N system, Fade region. In the early hours of the 22nd of March, allied forces engaged the Imperium once more in the system over a series of sovereignty timers.
Allied forces organized a joint 200 pilot Northern Coalition. [NC]\Pandemic Legion [-10.0]\Psychotic Tendencies. [TISHU] Proteus strategic cruiser fleet, supported by a Test Alliance Please Ignore [TEST] stealth bomber wing and a The-Culture [-T C-] Svipul tactical destroyer fleet, estimated at 50 pilots. This force set up on the FIO1-8 gate in the E9KD-N system to block Imperium movement in the region while entosis operations were carried through by supporting gangs.
Against this the Imperium organized several fleets, including but not limited to a Machariel battleship fleet, a Cerberus heavy assault cruiser fleet, a Proteus fleet of its own and a Hurricane battlecruiser fleet. Though exact numbers are unknown, it is believed the Imperium had more than 500 pilots split across the different fleets.
As the Imperium was still forming its fleets, most of the sovereignty timers had expired, allowing the allies to preform entosis operations unhindered. By the time the Imperium did undock and started moving its fleets down to the E9KD-N system to engage the allied fleet, it had already lost the strategic objectives.
Even though they won the strategic objective, the allies continued to hold their position on the FIO1-8 gate, waiting for Imperium forces to engage them. The latter finally obliged, jumping into the waiting strategic cruisers with their Machariel fleet. As the battleships anchored up, both sides quickly opened fire, starting the fight.
Both sides maneuvered on the FIO1-8 gate, the Proteus fleet having little difficulty maintaining a medium range from the battleships. As the Machariels anchored up, Test Alliance Please Ignore’s stealth bomber wing started it bombing run. Wave after wave of bombers dived into the packed formation of battleships, unleashing their deadly payload.
As the bombs hit the battleships, stripping their shields and causing moderate armor damage, confusion spread through the Machariel fleet as pilots panicked and broadcasted for remote repairs. This had the unfortunate consequence of simply overwhelming the logistics wing, who could not tell who was targeted by the hostile force and who simply suffered from bomb damage, rendering it effectively useless.
The Proteus fleet quickly capitalized on that fact, and started volleying off battleships as the bombers continued their devastating runs. One by one, mainline ships exploded as the strategic cruisers concentrated their fire and continued to take advantage of the confusion, all the while maintaining moderate distance from the battleships who were more focused on shooting the stealth bombers than the Proteus fleet.
At the same time, the allied Svipul fleet perched on grid kept sending command destroyers into the thick of the Machariel fleet between bombing runs and teleporting away battleships. Separated from their fleet, the Machariels proved to be an easy prey as the Svipuls descended upon them, tearing them apart before returning once more to their perch and repeating the cycle.
As the battle raged on and Imeprium losses mounted, reinforcements fleets started arriving to the system. This gave the Imperium Machariel fleet confidence to continue fighting, as the Cerberus and Hurricane fleets started entering the system, the Cerberus fleet warping to a perch on the grid before engaging the Proteus fleet at long range, though its damage was easily soaked by the strategic cruisers. The Hurricane fleet entered through the same gate as the Machariels did and simply anchored up, opening fire on the Proteus fleet but suffering casualties from stealth bomber raids and the Svipul fleet.
As the allied Proteus fleet slowly increased its distance from the Machariels, positioning itself away from the two fleets, the Machariel fleet decided to swap from artillery cannons to auto cannons in order to engage the Proteus fleet at close range. After changing their configuration, the majority of the battleships pinged above the gate and then warped off before returning once again, attempting to land on top of the Proteus fleet.
Landing near the strategic cruisers, a close range melee ensued as the Proteus fleet burnt away from the Machariels, the two sides exchanging heavy blows. By this time though, more Imperium reinforcements poured into the system while allied bomber wings suffered heavy losses. The allied Proteus fleet had also sustained a few casualties during the exchange, with losses slowly increasing. Having already won the strategic objective, the allied Proteus fleet commanders decided it would be more prudent to retreat, rather than risk a total loss.
The strategic cruisers quickly cleared any hostile interdictors and interceptors around the fleet while burning away from the Machariels, aligning to their out gate. With no ships tackled and the fleet clear of bubbles, the strategic cruisers warped off, leaving Imperium forces to hold the field.
Thus, allied forces managed to extract safely, leaving Imperium forces victorious on the battlefield, but having lost the strategic objective. With this large scale fighting in the system came to an end.
The Battle from the Perspective of the Allied Proteus Fleet
Battle report for the E9KD-N system can be found here.
All told the battle lasted 30 minutes with Time Dilation peaking at 15% at one point but subsiding and for most of the battle being minimal and no real effect on the proceedings. The system hosted 700 pilots by the end of the fight.
Allied forces lost 103 ships, the vast majority stealth bombers with only 10 strategic cruisers lost during the fight, totaling at 16.4 billion ISK damage.
The imperium lost 129 ships, including 52 battleships and 11 battlecruisers for a total of 39.72 billion ISK damage.
Salivan Harddin is a member of Reikoku, Pandemic Legion, and covers battles across New Eden