The Imperium had been hyping it for days. Keepstar timer, 0030 on Friday. In the unassuming lowsec system of Aeschee, more than seven hundred pilots formed up from Goonswarm Federation alone, joined by hundreds more from Snuffed Out, The Bastion, The Initiative, Test Alliance Please Ignore, and others. Imperial Legacy was not just going to take down a defenseless Keepstar as it onlined – they were going after an active, hostile, guns-online Keepstar owned by Shadow Cartel, an alliance that conspired against the Goons in 2016’s Casino War. Would this finally be the night that enemy ships would form up and give the Goons the gud fite they’ve been desperately seeking for weeks?
In a word: no.
A Public Shaming
The Keepstar was not merely killed; it was the victim of a public humiliation that almost made this writer embarrassed to take part in it. In a deliberate attempt to avoid ti-di, titans and other capital ships led the initial charge, with subcaps sitting patiently off grid in case they were needed. The capital ships laid into the Keepstar, taking fire but dealing out much more in return. The fight could have been over in a matter of minutes. The titans rapidly dropped the Keepstar to around 30% hull…and then stopped.
There was no opposition. No reason to rush. Out of the 1,679 pilots in local chat, more than 1,500 were members of the fleets attacking the Keepstar. Shadow Cartel, whose recruitment ad says they offer “regular PvP fleets across multiple time zones” and “a wide variety of PvP content on all scales,” simply refused to show up. They would rather accept a 320 billion ISK lossmail than give battle.
So the humiliation began.
With guns un-grouped, the capital fleet calmly applied just enough damage to keep the repair timer paused. The subcap pilots, who had showed incredible discipline by holding position when they knew a Keepstar was dying nearby, were finally given the go-ahead to get on grid and begin attacking. Once everyone had gotten in on the killmail, the titans opened fire again, and the Keepstar blossomed into dust.
One thousand five hundred seventeen pilots got a 320 billion ISK bonus to their zKillboard, not because the fight was hard and needed so many pilots, not because it was a desperate race to kill the Keepstar before the timer ran out…but because the enemy was so cowardly, so unwilling to fight, that the Goons and their allies could take all the time in the world to let everyone participate.
That is a public shaming.
Shadow Cartel’s recruitment ad says they offer “a Keepstar to live out of,” so that will probably have to be updated.
As Shadow Cartel is a lowsec corporation and not a formal member of any of the null-sec coalitions currently fighting against Imperial Legacy, this fight would not seem to have any strategic implications for the Great Western War against PanFam, GOTG, et al. However, one must consider the circumstances of the fight. Imperial Legacy brought more than 1,500 pilots to bear on a random Thursday night (USTZ) / Friday morning (EUTZ). Those are staggering numbers, and any strategist in PanFam, GOTG, or Winter Coalition must reckon with them before planning any offensive or defensive operation. Indeed, it seems that hiding behind cyno jammers may be the only strategy that does not result in immediate annihilation.
Although the battle did not concern them personally, it is plain to see that the enemies of Imperial Legacy understood what was at stake. The battle report linked above shows that members from Pandemic Horde, SLYCE, and Circle-of-Two, among others, were present at the fight. In the numbers they fielded, it was clear that they were never going to save the Keepstar, but they clearly got the picture: the Goon steamroller is steamrolling.
The message sent to Imperial Legacy’s enemies is simple: “This could be you.” This Keepstar was dunked merely because we could, and as one stop along a path towards revenge against a number of the Imperium’s enemies. It sends the message: Fight us if you dare – and it is plain from the past several weeks that the enemies of Imperial Legacy do not often dare.
Editor’s note: This article was updated with minor changes to provide historical context and clarity.