All in the valley of Death

Survivor’s guilt, there is no other word to describe it.

It hurts in the stomach, the shame of living whereas all my friends and fleetmates died in glorious combat. Where was I when it happened?  Fast asleep.

But lets start at the beginning.

Our C5 crew is developing a notoriety for bashful combat and seeking out big fights.  They win, they lose but they never back down which is what EVE is all about.  I flew with them a few times and its always a blast, they know what they are doing.  And when the jabber and forum pings came up yesterday that they needed assistance, I only thought which ship to bring, not whether to go.

It turns out that they had tussled a few times with The Honeybadger, also a C5 wormhole crew but – as things go in wormhole space – kept otherwise on good terms. You shoot, you shake hands and you add the good ones to your address book – in case you need to call for help.

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
“Forward, the Light Brigade!
“Charge for the guns!” he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

And a few days ago, The Honeybadger called our crew for help.  They were getting invaded by a Russian PvP corporation and had lost badly, their towers were reinforced and they made ready for their Last Stand.  With nothing to lose, they picked up the batphone and called our team for assistance.  Our team in turn put an alliance ping out and like the minutemen called by Paul Revere, we stream from our home holes and assemble in Amarr.

Our FC puts out the fleet doctrine (armor heavy assault cruiser) which is about the only sub-cap ship  can’t fly.   I don’t now why not but I never injected the skillbook which leaves me looking for alternatives.  I figure I pick a Vexor – it ind of looks like an Ishtar and maybe nobody will notice?

Well, fleet assembles and I get my alt into a purpose-built bomber to scout ahead.  The sieged C5 has a random low sec entrance in some godforsaken region and I make my way out there – apparently it is heavily camped but we decide that it likely is our best chance to get in. I chase my scout forward, 20 or so jumps, about half low sec, some camped, most are not.  Arriving in last system, I scan down the hole and sit on it, watching for traffic, hanging loose, ready to guide the main body of our fleet in.  Then our FC decides that our relief fleet will take a different route, basically running a fairly lengthy low sec pipe to wormholes that connect to the target C5.

My Vexor pilot undocks and finds itself in the company of ~ 20 or so HACs and T3s.  I feel like the cheapskate of the family.  You know, the one who steals toilet paper at public restrooms.

We are about 5 jumps into our chain when comms is cleared, the opposing team has crashed the connecting wormhole.  This is unfortunate but we have “my” backdoor, the lowsec route.  Its a long slog but we turn the ships around and head toward it.  On the way, I pick up my Proteus and slap an Interdiction Nullifier on it.  Looks like we have plenty of DPS and I am better as a scout than a real shooter so, then at least let me get a boat that fits my skills.  And I don’t look like a coward, putting nothing on the line other than a Vexor….

My alt is still watching the wormhole from the low sec side.  Listening on comms, I get the feeling that our beleaguered friends are a little light on scouts and are looking for a fight more than to get the relief team in.  I should probably jump in, scan down the new static and risk my bomber rather than sit outside and be nothing but a warp-in beacon.

Speaking of beacon.  What is that newb ship doing here, sitting 10km from me?  Where did he come from?  Before I can react, he lights a cyno field, a sound that tears through my headset like ripping a canvas.   Out of the dark materialize 2 Dreadnoughts who align carefully and then jump into the C5 hole. Damn, I had totally forgotten that they can do that.  The hole collapses.  I am outside.  The team inside is warned, they see the massive ships and add them to the tally of known enemy capitals.  Its getting tense. They have more ships and pilots than our fleet.

Well, that slows things way down.  We now have no route at all and the convoy stops.  I jump my alt the 20 ish low sec systems back and form up with the main body of the fleet, docked somewhere central.  Over comms I hear our C5 team getting ready for something I can only call a desperation move.  Instead of a focused scouting and hole-control effort, they think of some clever trap, bite on an opposing Proteus and get duly whacked in a beautiful counter-ambush.  We have 30 dudes in PvP ships in high sec docked up and we are powerless to stop this slaughter.

“Forward, the Light Brigade!”
Was there a man dismay’d?
Not tho’ the soldier knew
Someone had blunder’d:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

Pods are destroyed, clones are activated and ships are purchased.  The assembled fleet grows and is eager to get into the fight.  I take some time away from the keyboard and do real life stuff. When I get back, the bulk of my fleet has left, a new route had finally been scanned down and it looks like that the opposing team has gone to sleep.

I chase my Bomber pilot down the lengthy pipe ahead of my Proteus, again without bookmarks and only vague directions from the local team.  The low sec gates are guarded and I stop my Proteus short of one that would have certainly be its last – but my bomber slips through them like a jellyfish between the toes of a beach walker.  I scan down the holes myself and arrive in the C5, greeted by bubbles and the bulk of our fleet happily slapping each other on the their backs.

We have successfully gotten a 30man fleet into the system.  Well, not quite.  We have a bunch of dudes outside and apparently, way more incoming.  Our hosts have called “everyone” and I hear the names of WH alliances mentioned that normally would make me cloak up.  So, we have SuSu on our side, eh?  Chatter in local, one of the invaders complains that we are bringing too many and that it won’t be a fair fight.

Well. You want fair fights, go join RvB.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.

First tower is about to come out of reinforcement but we have plenty of people to bring in.  Comms is an unbearable chatter of bravado and bullshit, fleet chatter is nothing but obscene image links.  Basically, there is no fleet discipline and nobody is in charge.  I ask and get permission to leave the hole with my bomber pilot to scout for alternative routes.  The one guy who I trust blind in this adventure is Nylon Elephant, a solid FC but with so many people, the command structure is not clear.

While the local team has a scout heading out with much talking about his scanning skills, I quietly scan down a C5 chain with nullsec holes that ends up in a calm low sec backwater, a few jumps away from Amarr.  I report the chain over the inane banter and get a few convos from from stranded support teams.  While the official route stays some convoluted C5a-C5b1-C2c-C2d-something route, I get 3 teams with multiple boats each in from C5a-C5b-C5c-LS or C5c-NS.  The team inside our new home has devised some clever way to share bookmarks since everyone is from different corporations.   I simply go out and fetch people.  Its not rocket science, ladies.   On the way, I get my Proteus pilot in as well.

Flash’d all their sabres bare,
Flash’d as they turn’d in air,
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
All the world wonder’d:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro’ the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reel’d from the sabre stroke
Shatter’d and sunder’d.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.

The team slams the door shut, i.e. jams a Dreadnought through it a few times until it has gone critical.  The hole is buzzing with friendlies, I think we have 100 man fleet now and both my ships are in.  We have a 15 minutes before the first tower comes out of reinforcement.

Someone takes command, comms are getting less stupid and things get more organized.  But nothing happens.  The tower is repped up and the lone Russian in local channel is still complaining about not being able to get a fair fight.

The next tower comes out in about 1 1/2 hours.  It is 3 am where I live and I am beyond tired.  I ran across New Eden non-stop for 5 hours, mostly low sec and Wormholes.  I did my job, I helped guide in a sizable fleet.  But now, I can’t keep my eyes open.

When I wake up, its 09:00 local and quickly check the killboard.

Holy crap, what happened.  When I left, my team was full of confidence.  What I am looking at is a complete slaughter.  I log into jabber, ping my friends and realize that they were up until 06:00, basically doing an entire night of playing before the engagement started.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro’ the jaws of Death
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.

I don’t really know how the fight turned so badly. I do know that the majority of our fleet had signed off – unlikely a coincidence, the opposing team probably had a spy and knew who was online and when.

I heard rumors of one of the “rescue teams” stealing ships from the open POS and enemy carriers landing inside it the bubble.  I.e. someone gave them the password.  And btw, who sets the Strontium levels so perfectly that the invading team is well rested and their peak play time whereas the defending team has trouble staying awake?

Well, our team lost.   The hole is hostile – congratulations to the opposing team.

But much, much thanks to our guys from Outer Ring Sleeper Collective who herded an unreal number of cats, rang the batphone, waited and organized, stayed up literally all night and then tried to save someone else’s hole with no promise of reimbursement.  Glory was to be the only reward.  And for that I would not hesitate and do it again.

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wondered.
Honor the charge they made,
Honor the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred.


PS.  I will have another post about this when the dust settles a bit.  Maybe I get the scoop on what actually happened during the fight.

9 responses to “All in the valley of Death

  1. A lot of the timer issues came from us having a complete lack of experience with defending a PoS. The thought of removing stront before the towers were RF’d wasn’t even considered.

    I can only thank everyone that showed up and died with us during this desperate attempt to save our home.

    • Hey, thank you for giving us the opportunity. I just re-read my post and realized that I may have come across quite negative. I was really bummed that I missed the fight but I still had one of my best nights out in EVE. Just wished we could have saved your home…. Next time!

  2. Alfred Lord Tennyson … oh my.

    Yeah, I am just some chick with basic education but I know my poetry. 😉

    Beautiful – even if a bit longwinded – post. Makes me miss you that much harder.
    In another world, with another set of circumstances aligning …. I’m not going to go there.

    A shame you didn’t win after all this effort.

    One thing that is not some mushy girly late night emotional stuff:

    I have talked with my RL friend who flies my account currently. He lives in lowsec, but they fly armor T3/AHAC most of the time.
    There are so many things better than Vexors for that setup:

    – Armor tanked webbing Lokis
    – Oneiros or Guardian logi
    – SEBO, scramming, brawling Proteus
    – Gallente command ships

    I am sure you can fly any or some of those.

    Next time, think about it.

    You are a wormhole pilot, be bold!

    • Yeah, Tennyson… I thought it was perfectly fitting. I read up on the backstory years ago and always wondered how a complete tactical f-up like that could possibly be put into a heroic light. I don’t subscribe to glorifying sacrifice. I hold it with Patton: “The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other guy die for his.” I would have hoped for a complete curb stomp on our side. Try messing with my “temporary” friends and get flattened. There will always be a next time though….

      As for the rest, Aurelie, we miss you but we know that you now have better things to do at 3am (like writing fiction????). Stay in touch, you know where to find us….

    • Would’nt have missed it for the world. Just bummed I missed the battle itself. Had plans to whack Falcons and snipers – my boats would have been useless in the middle of the fight… Thanks for the invite – lets do this again 🙂

      PS. Never watch cat videos…

  3. Pingback: PvP As A Survival Tactic | A journey through the mind

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