Monday, December 6, 2010

Operational Failure

We knew it was coming.  Three systems, Anyed, Imya and Antem to be attacked by separate forces in advance of a final invasion down the road.  It was our chance to grind the Sansha plans to a halt.  Pressures were high, nowhere more so than in the ranks of Moira./SYNE,  particularly on the shoulders of one man: Julianus Soter.

To complicate matters, there were new players on the field.  Our alliances had recognized a war with a trio of Sansha-aligned capsuleers who were guaranteed to be on the field to slow or stop any special initiatives he might put into play to counteract the invasion.

Soter was taking no chances.  While the rest of the galaxy converged on those hisec systems to make their stands, Moira. would form a special taskforce working behind the scenes to shred capsuleer resistance.   

We aligned, approx. 10 Battleships, a handful of Battlecruisers, a spread of Assault Frigates, led by Soter’s menacing Dominix.

What followed was a series of mad dashes.  Intel sighted capsuleer war targets mixed in with the invasions, sometimes at a distance.  It seemed they were popping up everywhere, and it was hard to stay focused on these diffused combatants when the screams of millions echoed over comms, as millions of souls were harvested off the surface of their planet.  But we had our job, and it was an important one; the new enemies affiliated with the Sansha  had the capacity to wait for the most critical point and ruin our logistics, to launch against the many fleets’ weak points and break the back of the defenders.

I had rented a pulse Harbinger BC for the operation.  Throughout the warps, gatejumps and held positions I made an effort to fly in synch with a Corpmate flying the same.  Our twin Harbingers remained above Anyed’s lone station while the rest of the (PVP) taskforce plunged back into Imya.  War targets had been constantly chased off and provided  far less resistance than expected, and so Soter was leading the others into the main Sansha invasion, warping his comrades to a dangerous proximity of a Sansha supercarrier and beginning to join otyher capsuleers in pounding away.   Meanwhile our Harbs orbited the roof of the space station, scanning downward and outward for any sign of a war target.  I felt better that the main taskforce was back to focusing on the invasion itself, but a little nervous floating above that massive station with two systems under our responsibility while Soter was busy.

We had received warnings of a Sansha affiliated warship in the vicinity of this station, and one of our pilots had almost gotten close enough for a lock before it escaped.  Others had been spotted but that mighty Amarr vessel had stayed off-grid.

Minutes passed.  Updates streamed in.  The Sansha commanders appeared to be spending 15 minutes in a system before moving into wormhole space and appearing in the next area.  They were bouncing, moving, confusing us.  One wormhole opened in the dark and spat out a single frigate.  In another case three holes opened and closed just as quickly , taking their flash-force with them,.  It was a mess.  Later there would be overwrought claims that Soter focused too  strongly in space operations, neglecting the ground game.  As confusion prevailed above, thousands of troops landed, and while some herded innocents into the black holds of their dropships, others set to work constructing various mysterious uplinks, apparently the real goal of their actions this day.  In the end, all three uplinks would succeed, and we would fail.  Lives were taken, lives were kidnapped, ships destroyed, ships chased off;  The Sansha did us rough.  They had their way with us, and they didn’t use protection.  Yes we forced their carriers and commanders back through the jagged holes in space through which they’d come, however their mission was accomplished.

But for now the fight still raged, and as I was distracted listening to how things were shaking out systems away, I was a second late noticing the Armageddon war target undock from the station.

In tainted gold, the massive tubular deathstick pulled a slow rotation as it gained height above the busy station.  My twin Harb began to acquire lock as the Battleship locked us down, mine coming in precious seconds later.  She raised her head like a dragon and I was acutely aware of my lack of support.

The other Harbinger blasted a red klaxon and began a focused starboard arc to bring her about on the Geddon,  My own Battlecruiser ignited the microwarp drive and launched itself forward, angling between two arms of the station and out of the metal latticework, ready to flip nose up and over to reapproach in a barrel-roll to right myself.  Between the two of us we locked, scrambled and webbed the big ship, but that didn’t mean it wouldn’t stomp us.  As I aligned on his broad left flank and punched the Fire All Weapons command, is shields wavered then reinforced under the barrage.  Thick pulse lasers lanced from the far side as my companion made a straffing run.  Ever so slowly the Geddon’s massive  megapulse lasers ground into position to fire into our hulls.

We tangled, and I again held my breath.  The Geddon, not yet having fired locked down my companion's maneuverability and weapon tracking, and, inhibited, he executed a slow spiral away from the station to exceed the Geddon's mod range.  With the vessel attacking my corpmate I ovverheated mods and blasted away with everything I had.  I even launched some core probes at the bow to help chip down the armor, ejected my garbage chutes to confuse his sensors, launched all my drones, but it was hopeless.  This beast waited until we were alone and pounced and we were not ready. 

It was then that the rest of the Taskforce rejoined us, having literally forced the supercarrier in Anyed back out of normal space.  In a rapidfire chain they landed out of their warp tunnels directly above the Sansha-aligned Battleship and battered him down until he managed to reinitiate dock and pull his bbeaten husk inside the safety of the public station.

From there we had a handful mroe engagements but as the Sansha trickled away and the dust settled, we knew that we had failed fundamentally to protect the universe we loved.  Something had been lost this day, and I shuddered to think of what time would reveal thatto be.

Next post, back to basics.

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