In the happiest of circumstances, we lose another good pilot to the most dreaded and indefatigable of antagonists : real life.
I’d not flown with BarnacleBoy007 long, but as he was a two+ year veteran of USYSC, I was surprised at the response (or lack thereof) at his early goodbye mail. We’d known he was getting married for some time, but hadn't realised his marital love-nest would be devoid of such modern amenities as interwebs. At this point I don’t want to dwell on mawkish sentimentality, but aside from being a thoroughly decent bloke, Barny would always be up for getting stuck into any fight with anything close to hand which had guns and a point, so a farewell roam seemed the very least that we could do.
Then it occurred to me – I was certain that in our rare plexing events, Barny mentioned being able enough to fly a carrier to trigger and escalation wave, but couldn’t do much else. Not actually owning a carrier relegated him to either flying ECM or salvage, however. I decided to rectify this situation and gave him an early wedding present: a fully rigged/fitted Archon (with contributions from William Walsh, Utari Onzo, Alzuule the fool, Fiestyone and O’nira – maraming salamat, my friends). I offered the gift with a small condition; that he’d fly it on his final night in Eve. United Systems Commonwealth would provide a sub-cap escort and we’d go down in a blaze of glory. “That would be awesome!” was his eager reply.
There were a couple of problems though. Firstly, the idea never struck me until the day before he was due to move house, so organising antagonists so close to the event might be problematic (especially so given it was to be on a Thursday). The second may not have been a problem, given our intentions, but Barny had only trained carrier skills to 2, having never actually needed them before, giving me the feeling that this was going to be a short event. Not rating our fleet’s chances of survival, I asked USYSC to turn up in T1 hulls (for insurance purposes) and themed it ‘Golden’, so Amarr ships all round. The choice was partially to match the Archon, but also I had an Abaddon sat in highsec for what must have been two years that I wanted to use, since I had always found the hull had an aesthetic appeal.
Given that the idea was to die horribly in a fire, I thought the turnout would be slim, but either in mains, alt-form or both, Gabriela Arch, Fiestyone, ImmortalisMyst, William Walsh, Utari Onzo, Athanor Ruthoren, Vincent Jardanian, Oddic, O’nira, Tuscor, Sherpa Tsi and even Galmas (after he had gotten over his aversion of K-space) turned up to see Barny off. Mostly everyone was in Amarr ships too. Abaddons, Armageddons, an Apocalypse. The Augorors had been upgraded to guardians, but in addition, there was a Scorpion, Dominix and a Machariel.
As the fleet made its way to Aunenen, the call went out on various channels inviting more people along in-case the local hotdroppers didn’t notice us. Dracos Dozen had already notified us that they’d turn up with a small fleet to initially support us, but then get in on the fun later. I accepted their proposition, given that they were a small group, but when they turned up at our fleet location, I did have trouble convincing the guys not to shoot at them. RvB had got the message that something was going on, but had been suspicious that it was a trap. A couple of frigates showed up to reconnoitre the situation and I was hopeful that it would escalate from there. The appearance of a Pasta Syndicate Ishtar fleet may have put them off, however.
We were, of course, prepared for the likes of Pasta Syndicate and had anchored a mobile cyno jammer nearby the Archon. Predictably, the Ishtar primaried the structure, but along with the Archon, our logi was up to the task of keeping it up. The Ishtars switched targets and in short order, the Dracos Dozen fleet was left a series of smouldering ruins. Pasta’s fleet was supported by several Interceptors, which darted into close range before burning back out to where the Ishtars and their support Basilisks were drifting. Our Armageddons soon got wise to this and hit them with long range neuts, leaving them as helpless targets for the other Battleships. This cycle repeated for the best part of an hour, in which we lost a Scorpion and one mobile cyno jammer (which was quickly replaced). Other than that, all the Ishtars succeeded in doing was to keep our logi on their toes.
As they quit the field, Pasta decried our ‘perma-capped triage Archon’ in local. Oh, if only they knew. We even had some nobody from Hard Knocks claiming we should thank him for facilitating the Ishtar fleet. He’d turned up to whore on the carrier mail but obviously didn’t care about it enough to bring anything bigger than an interceptor. And after we’d turned up with the intention of losing a carrier, having it warp off the field unscathed provoked some delicious tears.
After such a long fight, derps were likely to come in at some point. I just didn’t expect for them to happen once the perceived had gone and the fleet were proceeding to dock up. Sherpa was eager to log and proceeded to warp his Dominix back to highsec. At this point, it might be worth mentioning that over the hour long fight, we burned a lot of security status (especially for Gabriela who was was happily smartbombing pods). Pasta syndicate were still in the area and had intercepted Sherpa at the gate as his suspect tag made him fair game. Otherwise, I was joking about how much I wished I had an mobile tractor unit, given the number of wrecks on the field (and not counting the hundreds of millions worth of abandoned drones). O’nira actually went ahead and warped back to deploy one while the rest of the fleet were taking a break or logging off. Barny was one of those that logged, trading back the Archon and thanking everyone for a brilliant last night in Eve.
That was when we found our lurking hotdroppers. An Arazu decloaked and pointed O’nira’s Machariel as it returned to the battlefield, prompting undock orders on comms. The subsequent cyno then prompted orders of “Don’t warp!”. Local spiked as The Bastion jumped in to get a faction Battleship kill.
On the plus side, all those people who brought the Golden ships that were asked for got out without a scratch. Sadly, this also meant I didn’t cash in on my ship’s insurance after the value had inflated nicely after 2 years of gathering dust. Either way, there was content. Many thanks to Draco’s Dozen, the USYSC guys who could make it and apologies to those that couldn’t. And last but not least, best of luck to Barny with the wedding. I'm sure we’ll see you back in Eve soon.
I accidentally got the whole things on fraps. It's an hour long and watching Ishtars warp in and out for that hour doesn't make brilliant viewing. However, I've pulled some of the more eventful parts of the fight in regard to the comms - some derping and getting titan-bridged on with some transcription: