Art by Major Sniper
PAPI and the Imperium got down and dirty in a bloody Friday night brawl in the O-EIMK constellation. Legacy FC Progodlegend (PGL) pinged for a “Friday Fight Night” and was not disappointed, as the two warring coalitions traded over 300bn in ships across the Imperium’s home constellation. In a full tidi brawl, the PAPI coalition won the ISK war 138bn to 176bn, anchoring yet another Azbel, but again failing to achieve significant objectives.
The siege of 1DQ1-A continues to be a bloody affair, yet this was not a scaling of the walls but a muddy hand-to-hand fight in the trenches. The breach was made on the E-VKJV gate in E-DMQT. PAPI, with a jump bridge connecting their staging of T5Z to E-V, used this as their infil route into the constellation. Quick to respond, an Imperium Eagle fleet was waiting on the other side with carrier fighter support. Thus began what was to be an uncharacteristically close-range engagement between the two sides – the new PAPI Harpy doctrine (“Blarpy”) blasting its way through Imperium logistics at a rapid rate.
This initial engagement saw the Imperium slightly ahead, but with over 200 Harpys now in system, the assault frigates got to work on the Imperium fighter swarm. Although damage or destruction of fighter squadrons is not a priority during large sub-cap brawls, for every lost wing the Imperium had to slow-boat another replacement wing from the Fortizar 1000km from the gate. In heavy tidi, this delay made the numerical sub cap advantage more painful later in the fight.
Escape from 8WA
Meanwhile, as the clash on the gate continued, another fight erupted in the neighboring system of 8WA-Z6. Sneaking behind enemy lines, PAPI attempted to ref the iHub in this system. The Initiative. arrived quickly in Jackdaws, but were met with a hail of fire. Immediately falling back, INIT reshipped to Muninns. This phase of the battle saw a huge PAPI initial advantage. Clearing logistics early, PGL’s Eagles at first appeared to be triumphant. Yet, Imperium’s FCs aggressively warped at close range. Losing Basilisks quickly, the PAPI squadron attempted to escape from the bubbles; at one point the Imperium’s Muninns had completely encircled what looked like a last stand. But, as PAPI switched to engaging interdictors, eventually the bubbles ran out and the PAPI pilots made their escape, rejoining the majority of their fleet in E-D.
As all fleets converged on the E-V gate, a chaotic multi-range brawl would decide the outcome of the battle. The Imperium – with Muninns, Eagles, and Tornados with carrier support – fought PAPI’s seemingly never-ending Eagles, Muninns, Blaster Harpys, T3Ds and bombers. The Imperium’s early advantages were chipped away, with the combined Initiative/Goonswarm Muninn fleet taking the bulk of the damage. The fighting shifted from ranges of <20km out to 100km+ as the Harpys tackled and destroyed anything close, but were easily picked off when they strayed away from the gate.
Reshipping was the name of the game in this fight, with some pilots sending four Heavy Assault Cruisers to Valhalla in a single night. PAPI used their reinforcements from T5Z wisely. Their combined-arms sub-cap fleets were able to counter most threats throughout the fight. Again, lots of Jackdaws were present, a reactionary measure from their losses to the Pando/Alice bombing run a week ago.
Imperium Eagles Bombarded
As the invulnerability window closed on the constellation, both sides looked to extract. The Imperium pulled fighters that had suffered nearly 20bn in losses throughout the fight; at this point the Imperium’s Eagle fleet took a thorough hammering. Outnumbered and without fighter support, over 100 HACs were lost, plus supporting ships, as PAPI flipped the ISK war in the final throws of the battle, killing over 400 ships for 100 in losses.
Bloodied and having suffered heavy losses, PAPI secured their control of the E-V gate and brought in a Rorqual to anchor another Azbel. With this final act the fight was concluded; 2600 pilots lost 3200 ships in the 3-4 hour scrap. Both sides will be satisfied with the result, but PAPI, despite again having a sub-capital numerical advantage, were unable to out-maneuver their foes and secure any objectives. Tactics have been evolving over the past month during the first phase of what will be a long siege. The Harpy has again proven its effectiveness. Equally, the fear of bombers has caused a shift in fleet compositions and dispersal. Both sides are shifting positions slightly in this trench-war slugfest.
Rivers of Blood
As the war approaches the one year point, it is clear that the PAPI leadership were not expecting such a fierce resistance in the O-EIMK constellation. Their slow, methodological approach that has proven so successful, now appears unimaginative and costly. With 14 Azbels destroyed in E-D, they have come no closer to flipping the system and securing their entry into the 1DQ1-A fortress.