Content of the article: "AAR: The Battle of J170144"
Eve Online is a dynamic universe with countless fights and interactions everyday. While many of the popular stories revolve around massive fleet engagements and ongoing NullSec power struggles, I want to share just one small battle that took place with just a handful of Capsuleers. Does this story mean anything in the wider context of Eve? I doubt it. But it mattered to those of us that took part.
This story starts, as so many in Eve do, with the destruction of a single ship in an otherwise unremarkable location. The ship? a humble Heron. Its destruction? a common enough event in wormhole space that it is seldom remembered and almost never celebrated. However, those who inhabit wormholes know the Heron holds a secret; it is the the sort of ship that on its own is of little value, but as a portent of what is to come, it can be priceless. It is the allegorical Albatross to those who sail J-Space.
The story, as it relates to our side, begins with a fleet mate scouting in a wormhole not far from Jita when he saw the hapless explorer meet its untimely demise. This was mentioned on comms, the enemy ships noted, and the location given before he logged off for the night.
Oftentimes that would be the end of things and no chain of events would follow, however, following the untimely death of the Heron and eager to break a run of no content, I decided to take my own ship to the wormhole where it died in the hope that they would still be feeling brave after their kill and might be willing to take on a larger ship. I was assisted in this task my good friend John Snow. John, as some of you know, is new to Eve and specializes in flying over-tanked Gnosis' – and while his English is limited, he makes for good company and useful support.
John splashed into the wormhole in his Gnosis and proceeded to park himself 27km off the hole to scan the signatures and hopefully attract some attention. I waited patiently outside in my Rattlesnake, a ship that has already in its short life escaped several encounters that is should not have.
It seemed like John's slow and methodical scanning and obvious presence was doing little to attract any real attention, and I was beginning to think it was time to move on, when finally a hauler splashed in from HiSec. Finally John was being noticed… and it was only a matter of time before that attention would turn into a reaction.
Big Schip, a former Corpmate, and one of the most colourful characters in all of Eve, decided to join me. He said he had a Hyperion he wanted to lose, so this seemed like a good time and place to help him do that.
The response from the opposing group was rag-tag and underwhelming at first: a Daredevil warped to the wormhole and burned out to tackle the Gnosis, while a Caracal and a Scorpion from HiSec joined to support the Daredevil. With John shouting incoherently in Russian about some sort of devil that had hold of him, I in my Rattlesnake, and the ever-jovial Big Schip in his Hyperion splashed in to see what we could do to help. The Daredevil, it seems, had made the mistake of getting into scram and double web range of the Gnosis, and damage was mounting on his weak tank. With seconds to spare the Daredevil managed to get within splash range and exit the fray – the Caracal was not so lucky.
The next phase of the encounter is remembered by those who were there as 'the long calm', and apart from a suicidal Talwar that warped to the HiSec and was vapourised, for 18 long minutes nothing happened until a mixture of ships were seen on DScan: a Drake, a Rupture, a Phantasm. The battle proper was about to start.
The first ship to gain my attention was the Drake. Those of you that know me well will know I have a particular fascination with Drakes. They have always seemed to elude me, and I have never been fortunate enough to land a solo kill against one, which is a goal I have had for several years. So I set about making sure that this was to be my first ever solo kill of a Drake in a wormhole. That itch, it seems, has now been scratched.
My celebration was short-lived however as a Stork arrived and made a determined run at our ships to boosh them away from the wormhole. Perhaps he was new to flying a Command Destroyer and did not understand his own Scram would prevent the target getting jumped, or perhaps his fleet mate simply landed an ill-timed Scram of their own, but the Stork proceeded to disappear 100km into the distance with only his fleet mates with him. We were left to wonder at this sight for a few seconds before our attention turned to the new addition to the fight: a Vargur.
Initially the Vargur seemed reluctant to engage, and his shield tank depleted very quickly from the pressure applied by Big Schip and I, and he splashed out to the safety of HiSec. Unfortunately for John Snow, he had drifted a considerable distance away from the wormhole, and his cries for help intensified until they finally fell silent. We had lost not only a valuable member of the fleet, but a friend.
After a brief pause, and what we can only assume was some hurried advice on the finer points of micro jump field generator, the Stork returned to try again to boosh us away. This time he was successful – in no small part due to Big Schip declining the offer to mutually scram each other so he could ride his Hyperion to Valhalla – and the battle for which this encounter will be remembered commenced some 100km from the wormhole. The sight of two battleships and a Marauder slugging it out without respite for five minutes was as beautiful a thing as one can see in a wormhole.
The first mistake however came from the enemy: the Stork warped too close to us and was scrammed and grappled. He was not going to be any further threat to us or a saviour to his teammates after that, and he was quickly relieved of his ship.
By now, for us, support was beginning to arrive.
The highly capable Luncinia was first to splash in, and set about dismantling the enemy support fleet with her Proteus. A quiet achiever, the skill with which she piloted the ship, and the damage she applied is told in two numbers: the number of times she managed to extract from the fight to repair – three, and the total damage dealt to the enemy – over 120,000 HP after resists. A Rupture was the first ship to feel the force of her guns, and it quickly died.
The arrival of Tomasita on comms, with his two Lokis some 10 jumps away, was immaculately timed. His Lokis' arrival to the battlefield heralded the destruction of a kiting Phantasm which both he and Big Schip had managed to tackle with their Astero alts.
By now though the enemy was starting to escalate, both in their numbers, and in the type of ships that they were bringing. A Falcon began to harass us with ECM from 100km and an Armageddon, with a full rack of Energy Neutralizers and Nosferatu, put serious pressure on our two battleships. The situation began to look bleak, and Big Schip's Hyperion began to show the strain of so much DPS and so many Neutralizers – but it held. The enemy, tiring of throwing their ships into the immovable wall of the Hyperion switched their primary focus to my Rattlesnake, and while my shield boost were more than a match for the incoming DPS, the cap pressure was too much. My modules deactivated and I was both figuratively and literally, dead in the water.
BOB, however, seems to favour the fearless and the stupid in equal measure in wormhole space, and the near simultaneous destruction of the Falcon by Tomasita, the application of some EC-300 drones, and a fortuitous pre-alignment allowed me to warp as my ship was at 50% of its armour. I was safe for a few seconds to repair and re-charge my cap, but before I could return, Big Schip's seemingly indomitable Hyperion finally broke just seconds before the enemy Armageddon also erupted in a fireball.
So there we stood: a Vargur and a Rattlesnake, locked together in a mutual death-scram.
Events from here were chaotic and the following eight minutes seemed to last an hour with neither side giving an inch: the Vagur was unbreakable; the Rattlesnake held.
Several enemy ships came and went, and although the fog of battle prevents me from recalling them all, a splash from an enemy Devoter arriving from HiSec to re-join the battle after the loss of an earlier ship brought unexpected pressure in the form of high DPS. It seemed for a moment Luncinia's Proteus may be lost, but a quick target change to the Devoter revealed its famed heavy armour tank was absent and it died in seconds. It seems the saying 'all gank, no tank' had been in the mind of the ship's owner when he selected that fit, and Luncinia made sure that he would take no further part in this fight.
By now the fight was taking it's toll on our supplies. A full 40 minutes had passed since the first skirmish, and I was down to my last capacitor battery and my last reload of missiles. While I didn't realise it at the time, the pressure on the Vargur was also becoming too much. Bereft of support, 40 minutes into a fight, with over 2 million EHP tanked and his modules at the limit of their heat damage, the call to overheat all DPS on the Vargur for one last attempt finally broke him.
His shields failed. Then his armour. Then he was gone.
We had won.
Returning to the death of the Heron that set into motion the events of J170144, it was unimaginable to all of those involved that the loss of this humble ship some 90 minutes earlier would initiate what was certainly for me the most intense, hard-fought, and hard-won battles of my Eve career – a battle that cost only 5 Billion ISK but one that forged unforgettable memories for those that were there.
To the pilots of Violent Harmony, I say thank you and you have earned our respect.
To the three other pilots in our fleet, all of whom joined to fight without being asked, all of whom risked their ships without a second thought to help their friends, and all of whom were able to write another chapter in their Eve story, I also say thank you.
Battle Report Below:
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