I was relaxing at home, watching “Ender’s Game” on the big screen in my bedroom on our chaise with my wife on a Saturday night. We’d just finished making out — hey, I have four kids, they didn’t get here by accident! — and were enjoying what was left of the movie. IM+ Pro on my iPhone announced I had a new message. Raising an eyebrow at my wife, my quizzical look silently asked if she minded if I picked it up. She smiled and jerked her chin in the direction of my phone, indicating without speaking, “Go ahead, babe, it’s all good.”
Married for twenty years. Totally, 100% worth it. Highly recommended.
My phone had one word on it. “Help”. I knew about the logoff-traped Quantum Explosion capitals in our home system. I knew the time had come.
Reve, Compayn, Shinjo, and Nylon had been trading knock-knock jokes and cat videos in Youtube in fleet chat while they waited. It had been ten long hours, and the Otters were kind of restless. Lowsec roaming wormholes typically only last about sixteen hours, and if QEX and their hidden capitals didn’t try to get out soon, they were going to have to find another exit. With a scout stationed on the lowsec hole and another at the hidden log-on point the seeded capitals had previously used, they had the pilots watchlisted as well to know when they logged on.
“Dismay be a bad joke, but I think it’s funny!”
“Dude, that was terrible.”
“I know, right, I totally ripped that one off a web site.”
“Break break break… the Tengu pilot just logged in.”
“Nag pilot logged in. Now Moros.”
The Otter pilots raced back to their starbase to swap ships. All small cruisers, against three of the most fearsome ships that can fit into an anoiki, kilometers long apiece, capable of obliterating entire cities in a single salvo. Reve and Compayn gave one another a virtual fist-bump, then aligned and warped to be initial tackle on the capital ships the moment they emerged into low-security. All they had on their side was the faint hope that QEX had severely underestimated OTRSC, tiny ships that might be able to evade the ponderous Dreadnaught guns and Carrier drones, and a dash of chutzpah.
Make that a giant heaping helping of chutzpah.
The tiny fleet dove through the lowsec wormhole seconds before the hostile capitals arrived on-grid to do the same.
Datu was just logging onto Teamspeak about to play Eve when he heard over comms, “Datu, you’re just in time. We’re about to tackle the capitals in lowsec. We need you and your Onyx as soon as possible.”
Monsoon season was well underway. The wind and rain were alternately slamming and dousing his Pacific Island home furiously, and the hiss of the pounding downpour was audible thousands of kilometers away over the comm channel. “I’m on my way,” he replied in usual calm, quiet baritone as the login screen appeared and he carefully typed in his password.
“Here they come.”
“Hole fire. Hole fire. Hole fire. Hole fire. Hole fire. Hole verged… hole’s gone.”
“I count five. I thought there were just the three caps and a Tengu?”
“Datu logged on in his HIC. Oh, there he is. I don’t have friendlies in my overview.”
“Uhh… Comp? The dreads just went into siege.”
“Get point on the Thanatos.”
“I got ahold of Nylon, he’s bat-phoning for help.”
“Who did he find?”
“Kiwis In Space said they could bring some bombers, and … oh man.”
“He’s telling me that when he just diplo’d for help, Glyndi responded, ‘I have a huge boner now that I know who it is you’ve tackled’, and said they are absolutely sending help.'”
“Who was that again?”
“Glyndi. With the Honey Badger.”
Datu peered at his monitor, the sound of the wormhole slamming shut reverberating in his headset. “I’m webbed,” he announced over Teamspeak, “by the Moros.”
“The Moros fit a web?”
IOS members were logging on furiously now. Between batphone calls to Kiwis In Space and The Honey badger, this quiet little corner of low-security space had dozens of ships racing to join in and bring sufficient damage to take down the gigantic vessels.
But help arrived too late for Datu. Once webbed, and with no external help able to reach Datu unless he dropped point, Datu’s Onyx quickly succumbed to the inevitable.
“Onyx,” he rasped quietly into the headset as the torrential monsoon raged outside his window, “is down. Damn.” Datu stayed on-field with one character, but flew the other out to high-security space to reship into a Caracal.
I logged on as quickly as I could. After asking for and receiving a quick situation report, I logged into a Guardian. Where there are neuts, there are Guardians or Basilisks. It’s just a law of nature.
“What’s my exit? Lb1?”
“Low B 1 is down. The capitals rolled it. Use Low A 2 through 3 A 1.”
The jargon you hear above is how we refer to wormhole chains. In the ever-shifting world of wormhole combat, quickly understanding what class of system and its distance from you is critical to bringing forces to bear in a timely fashion.
“On my way. How far is Low A 2 from system?”
I sighed heavily. Ten jumps. In a solo Guardian. Through low-security space. Lowsec is the backwater of Eve Online, full of gate campers, loosely-allied pirate factions, and people looking to make a quick buck. Obi Wan Kenobi said it best: “You’ll never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.” Given the stakes, I took the risk, full well knowing that if the local militia or pirates got word we were slowly spoon-feeding an expensive fleet through lowsec to gang up on some tackled capital ships, that my likelihood of survival was extremely low.
Our fleet continued to trickle into the system. Sweir made the trek in his Talos and arrived on grid. Just in time to be targeted by the sieged Dreads, Tengu, and supporting carrier.
“Sweir needs reps.”
“Broadcast for reps, we have enough people on field now that we can’t tell who’s talking.”
“Too late. Sweir’s down.”
The Hamilton was next to fall to the sieged dread, his hurricane dying in a single volley to the Naglfar’s massive volley damage. I showed up in my Guardian, and the extra timeliness of reps spared Thrisdex from the same fate with only 96HP of structure left.
This didn’t look good. We’d been at this almost twenty minutes, lost three ships, and the enemy capitals were no closer to dying than they had been when cloaked up in our home system.
Then a few minutes later, cheers erupted on comms. Rolling into the lowsec system roughly simultaneously were our stealth-bomber wormhole allies from Kiwis In Space, a couple of cruisers from The Honey Badger, and one of our Bhaalgorns, slowly trundling into the system after hilariously scaring off a few gate camps along the way. Once our new cap chain was established, with a neuting Bhaalgorn, Legion, and Dominix on-field, and additional DPS from those little Kiwis in their tiny but fierce bombers and Honey Badgers in their strategic cruisers, we knew we’d turned the tide. Twenty-five minutes later, three capitals and a Tengu were smoking wrecks, and we bought a hauler to trundle away the loot.
We exchanged high-fives, hauled loot, but curiously no GFs were offered in local from the defeated. One of them was caught on a gate attempting to escape. The other two made it out to participate with their alliance in some nullsec shenanigans a few hours later. It was a battle won through diligence, hard work, and slow escalation of forces on our side which — very curiously — merited no immediate response from Quantum Explosion or their Blood Union allies.
I once again get the strangest feeling this was just another salvo in what is likely to be an ongoing set of skirmishes as our scrappy little wormhole alliance claws its way out of obscurity.
EDIT: Here’s the killboard. What’s always funny to me is how killboards just present a snapshot of the time of destruction; they totally miss all the other stuff that goes on to make that happen…
Zkillboard version of the battle: https://zkillboard.com/related/30003851/201403160400/