Header art by Cryo Huren
As I jump my Hel into M2, I am ready to stare death in the eye. My supercarrier is ready, and I’m also ready to fight to the death. Any fear of losing my largest asset has been extinguished during the previous two days since the Mayhem of M2. Such a frenzy of activity! I got to see first hand how the Imperium treats super pilots who lose their ships. “All titans who lost their ships PM me now” and “Can anyone fly a titan who doesn’t have one?” and “Let me know if you need fighters; we’ve got you covered.” Everyone came together to ensure that every pilot who could make it to the M2 Keepstar hull timer was reshipped and ready to go. As the warp tunnel slows and sputters, I know that I will fight with my brothers and that the entire Goonion has my back, regardless of the outcome.
We are four hours early. Four hours to resolve issues with comms caused by so many bees buzzing. Four hours to talk about managing fighters in extreme tidi. This is nothing like the “Capitals 101” training class I had taken when I returned to Eve after nearly a decade. When there is no tidi, you get instant feedback when you click on something; if it was the wrong something you can figure it out. In tidi, when you click, you are committed to that action and don’t get feedback until many minutes later.
A friend, Vain Ra (who is new to Eve), messages me from the sub fleet. Two weeks into the game and he is already in M2, “I made it, but I think this game is unplayable!” I chuckle, which makes a nice break from cursing and stomping my feet in frustration at my fighters’ lack of response: “Yes, it’s unplayable. But we win if we can find a way to play it a bit better than the invaders!”
As the hours slowly tick by, we look upon the battlefield we are preparing for conflict: giant pancakes of titans with a spread of seemingly countless supers in between. Our mood turns from the excitement of anticipation to disappointment. A corp-mate says what we are all thinking: “PAPI would be crazy not to pass. There is no way they are going to jump into this. They will sacrifice the fleet already logged off for the time being. We won’t get a fight tonight.”
And then, the first hostile titans begin to appear on overview. Our fleet commanders start to broadcast. At this point, outstanding server calls begin to approach 10 minutes, and locking a target is agonizingly slow. Another 10 minutes after entering the command, the fighters finally engage. By that time, though, the target is already dead. Things go quiet as we try to get ahead of the target list, to at least engage something. Finally, the unheard of call goes out, “Free fire on all titans!”
I stamp my feet, screaming at my screen in frustration, as target after target goes down before my fighter bombers engage. Family members come into my office to see what is going on. Even my wife, who never had much interest in Eve, looks over my shoulder at the scene of carnage and brings me a fresh cup of tea now and then. Pizza arrives from my favorite place, but I barely notice.
It is clear from the damage that many of the hostile titans do not have their hardeners turned on, which means that they have not loaded the grid upon jumping into the system. Any frustration we feel with tidi must be nothing compared to what they feel as their screens never load, but they begin to hear reports of their own deaths. However, any pity we might feel sizzles on the pan of their own hubris. They invaded our home. We hadn’t forced them to jump into the fire, but they came and now they must burn. It is our chance to change the tide of the war, and just possibly save our home.
My corporation has spent the last several months fighting against overwhelming odds to try and save our home constellation in Delve. We form up every night to play CCP’s game of “Fozzie Sov” to counter the TEST alliance’s desire to take it from us. Now the call goes out: the special list of titans we would now target. While the rest of the alliance shoots Force Auxiliaries, we rain fire with pent up wrath at these invaders.
What strikes me as we jump out, victorious, from the M2 Extinction Event, are not just the raw statistics of the battle. Some other article will share with you the trillions destroyed. But something else is building anew in this engagement. Communications are full of chatter about future plans. Even after several days of preparation and many long hours of tidi, nobody wants to dock up: “Let’s go reinforce this! Let’s plan to do that!” As I head to bed I know that tomorrow a new happy sun will rise on the Imperium.