I don’t know what has happened but I send the command to get my pod linked with my Hurricane class battlecruiser and send have the GQ alarm sounded aboard it as well. My crew knows that they have until I dock my pod to be ready for combat or their will be hell to pay. Fortunately my XO’s are good men and women and they make sure that the ships are always ready to go at a moment’s notice.
I double check my ammo load and undock from the station, once out in space the FC has given orders for everyone to rally on the G-QTSD stargate and wait for orders. I give the command and warp to the gate in jump range and wait. The FC is giving orders for everyone to try and get more people active and into our current fleet, capsuleers are returning from other operations from several systems away as fast as they can. Several more are currently planet side and have disconnected from their pods and our FLT communications networks. There is no way to raise them and get them back until someone can physically find them and get a comm into their hands, for without our pods our neural receivers are useless.
We sit waiting on the gate and as people trickle in from other areas it is clear to me that whatever has sparked this emergency CTA is over by now. Either the attackers have completed their task or the defenders have driven them off. After over an hour the FC stands the fleet down. He notes that in just over an hour we have a scheduled CTA and wants to make sure that the maximum number of pilots are available to come on that operation. We later learn that the enemy had attack a cyno jammer in a system nearby but the fleet couldn’t get enough members quickly enough to help repel the attack, and the jammer was quickly destroyed.
I decide that I will simply dock back up and give my crew a rest before the scheduled CTA. I give the order for them to stand down from GQ and send the ship back to the SAH-AD outpost. I remain in my pod docked to my hurricane as I review the tactical situation and look over battle reports, get some new ammunition and decide that the losses we have seen in the area having another ship ready to go would be a good thing. I buy and fit out a new hurricane class battlecruiser as a backup to the one I am currently flying. These ships aren’t cheap but they aren’t horribly expensive either so it isn’t that big of a deal for me. Getting a competent crew is by far more of an issue then getting modules and hulls, of course that is an issue that the HR people have well under control and I have never had to leave a station or outpost without a full crew. I don’t know how they do it but I am sure the amount of isk they charge my corp for their services makes it easy for them to find new recruits, plus the salaries capsuleers pay to their crews mean that we can be very selective in who serves on board our starships.
The time for the CTA arrives and the fleet begins to fill up along with our comm channels as capsuleers prepare for battle. Ship fittings are checked and rechecked, ammo loaded and combat drones are repaired from previous battle damage, all the thousand and one details that a good capsuleers and his/her crew have to do before battle. I make sure that my medical clone is up to date, always have to check those before you undock.
As the fleet rapidly goes over 100 in number the FC gets on the fleet comms and asks how many capsuleers have experience with adjusting overview settings? This seems like an odd question to me right before battle but I have done that before and it is something that you have to be careful with but isn’t terribly difficult. The big risk is that if you turn off something that could easily get you killed as an enemy ship or defensive structure kills you and you can’t see it on your tactical overview. With over 100 pilots in the fleet I respond that I know how to adjust those settings and several others state they are capable of adjusting them as well. The grand total of those of us that can do it…..six…out of 100+ pilots. The FC says that he can’t believe that only six of us know how to adjust these and that people shouldn’t be lazy, nearly a dozen more people volunteer that they can adjust them as well.
The FC picks me and several others to adjust our overview settings and refit our ships to specifically target stealth bombers with artillery. Most of us refit to have at least one sensor booster and I load mine with a scan resolution script to increase my targeting speed against such small ships. Our orders are simple, if any stealth bomber shows up on our grid we are to target them with everything we have. While this makes sense to give us the better targeting speed against such small ships it also means that I have had to remove one of my shield extender which makes me more vulnerable to enemy fire, I don’t like this part of the plan but orders are orders. We can still shoot the primary targets as designated by the FC but the SB’s are priority. I undock to activate my full tactical systems and adjust my overview settings before docking back up to wait for the fleet.
The fleet finishes forming up and we head out after sitting at a jump bridge in a nearby system for what seems like forever we get orders to prepare to move out. The enemy is on the way and the FC sends scouts into several nearby systems to monitor their movements and orders us into the 6-EQYE system. We assemble on one of the stargates and deploy combat drones. Our fleet numbers over 100 pilots and I am confident that we are in a good position to ambush and destroy the enemy as they return to their staging system.
The scout reports that hostiles have arrived two jumps out and gives the numbers; approximately 100 enemy ships are on the way. Mostly battleships and their support, now our fleet is all battlecruisers so this is going to be tough but we can do it. Battleships are stronger but slower and easier to hit. With even numbers we might just take a good number of them out before one side breaks contact. Everyone prepares for combat, they jump one system closer and we are warm up our weapons.
“FC BREAK FC BREAK” comes over the comms (never a good thing in a scout when you already have the enemy fleet under observation) and reports that a second enemy fleet is entering the system two jumps away. The FC asks how many and the scout again reports over 100 enemy ships have entered the system and are headed our way. We are now outnumbered two to one and the new fleet contains tech 3 cruisers along with support.
This is not good and I start to think that the FC will order the fleet to retreat rather than engage 200+ enemy ships that are all individually stronger than our own, but he doesn’t. He orders us to keep our drones out and get into position to engage the enemy. We now wait, ready to ambush the fleets that have now combined and are waiting just on the other side of the stargate from us. The gate flashes as the hostile fleet begins to transit into the system and everyone waits for the first salvo of hostile fire.
The enemy fleet holds their jump cloaks but with so many of our own ships already in position on the gate proximity causes several to become visible to our tactical sensors sooner than the others. The FC orders the fleet to open fire and begins to call and designate targets. With so few targets and so many ships I have a hard time locking onto them before they are gone but I do manage to get shots in on the enemy.
The first kill is a maelstrom class battleship, followed quickly by a scimitar class logistics, a huginn class recon, and another scimitar. By this time I have been called primary by the enemy fleet and am taking heavy fire, my shields fail and my armor melts. I prepare to give the evacuation order to my crew as my hull starts to collapse when the fleets’ logistics pilots are able to pull me back from the brink of destruction (about 20% hull integrity). They are able to hold me with my shields long enough to kill a nemesis class stealthbomber that decloaks in the middle of the insanity on the gate. Another scimitar is called primary and my guns fire on him as well, I have lost track of my combat drones and have allowed them to simply find and shoot whatever they can. Their onboard AI’s are more than enough to handle the combat surrounding me as I ever could.
The logistics pilots of the fleet have saved my ship twice by now but as the enemy scimitar goes down I have been called primary by the enemy fleet for the third time and with losses already mounting among the coalition fleet they are no longer able to keep my ship up and it goes down in a burst offlame. With my hull already severely damaged by the first assault they didn’t have enough time to get reps on me this last time. Fortunately I had enough time to sound the evacuation alarm and my crew manages to get to the escape pods in time. The enemy fleet is using smartbombs but because I was fitted with artillery I was slightly out of the main fight and my crewmembers pods are not lost to the area effect weapons of the enemy battleships. Nor do I lose my pod, after making my way out of the disruption bubbles that surrounded the gate I bounce around from safe spot to safe spot, celestial to celestial while I search for a way to escape from the system.
I eventually hook up with two survivors and we make our way back toward SAH-AD, two jumps out from SAH-AD we encounter another group of five or six survivors and we all jump back into the SAH-AD system together.
Over the next hour or so the survivors come in from the fleet, some in pods, some in new clones from the medical bays and some in combat ships that survived the battle. I am not sure what the final loses look like coalition wide but from Str8nge Brew they came out as follows:
Ships Pods ISK
Enemy 13 3 1.93 Billion
Brew 15 5 1.17 Billion
Brew pilots lost more ships and pods but we cost the enemy by far more isk; in a battle outnumbered 2:1 that is about the best we could hope for.