There were rumblings for all of December in the normally quiet nullsec region of Providence that Pandemic Legion was coming, and the dam finally broke two weeks ago. On Friday, January 5, PL dropped an Infrastructure Hub in the system of G-5EN2. That strategic action cut off two of the most convenient routes from Providence into high-sec, through the Kari and Assah gates. This forced Provi-bloc alliances to either go the long way around to a safer gate, or else risk passing through the KBP7-Dital gate, which, in the words of one source, is “camped 23.75 hours a day by professional griefers.” The last time this writer attempted to navigate the Dital gate, it was being camped by more than 20 PL pilots.
With Provi isolated, PL themselves moved in for the kill. A roving fleet of more than 50 was spotted in north Providence on Monday night, January 8, but that was just a warm-up. Tuesday saw a combat fleet of 150 Ravens prowling the region and looking for a fight. As of this writing, there is a 20-plus Brutix Navy fleet in North Providence consisting of pilots from several different PL corporations. Providence now holds two of the top five “Most violent systems” on dotlan, with a staggering 225 ships and 123 pods killed in 9UY4-H during the past three hours alone (an average of more than one every minute as this article was being written), and 97 ships and 81 pods going down in 4B-NQN. In the past 24 hours, Providence has seen 1133 ships destroyed, an average of 50 per hour for an entire day.
Why Provi, and Why Now?
One might ask why PL is suddenly interested in a corner of null so remote from their home region, and the answer, as usual, involves following the money. In the very near future, all NPC stations in null-sec will be converted to Fortizars. Rumor has it that whoever holds sovereignty in the system when the change is made will have the option to offline the Fortizar, permanently removing it from the game. CCP has not given any indication when this change will take place; only CCP and the Council of Stellar Management know the plans, and PL has close contacts with representatives on the CSM. One can only assume from PL’s sudden lunge for sovereignty that the changes are right around the corner.
Provi-Bloc Fights Back
Providence’s resident alliances are not rolling over, though, even against the might of PL’s combined strength. Last Friday, even as PL was dropping an Infra Hub, the Yulai Federation and Curatores Veritatis assembled a full 256-pilot fleet and assaulted seven PL Citadels, pushing them all the way back to G-5EN2. While specific details of the defense are of course classified, YF and CVA continue to organize fleets to fight against PL’s encroachment.
Last Saturday, January 13, saw another large-scale pushback against several PL structures that had entered their vulnerability timer. Surprisingly, PL offered almost no resistance, and several sources described the combined CVA and YF action as an unqualified success. With PL beginning to be occupied in the north of their own territory by fights against Goon-allied corps, it seemed as if they were content to leave Provi to its own devices for a time.
Around this time, clearly frustrated by the inability to crack the Providence nut, one PL pilot posted a diatribe on Reddit complaining that structures were not vulnerable for long enough at a time. The short vulnerability windows did not seem to hamper the Provi-bloc alliances from dislodging PL all across the region, but did throw a wrench into PL’s plan to steamroller the whole region. Indeed, speed appeared to be not just desirable, but necessary, for PL to win. “CVA is notoriously difficult to dislodge, and PL has a reputation for overextending,” one source said. “The best thing that can happen for Provibloc [sic] is to drag this war out long enough for PL’s allies to grow weary of assisting and their numerous enemies to decide to strike against them in Provi or PL’s home systems.” Would PL have the patience to subject Providence to a long siege, all while under assault on its own northern border?
Sunday, Bloody Sunday
Any appearance of calm was illusory. On Sunday, January 14, a massive battle erupted in the Provi system of 4B-NQN. PL pilots came into the system just before 21:00 server time, intending to assault a CVA Fortizar that would be vulnerable shortly thereafter. A PL fleet of Ravens and Rokhs held position approximately 400km from the Fortizar, faced down by a CVA/YF fleet of mostly Abaddons. The woefully outnumbered defenders were boosted by the arrival of unexpected allies: TEST brought 267 pilots flying mostly Nightmares, while Brave Collective added 54 pilots and Goonswarm Federation contributed 40. Altogether the defenders and their allies numbered 758 pilots, while PL and their allies 715. The Local channel numbered 1672 pilots at its peak.
The fight developed slowly, but by 21:15 advance elements of the PL fleet had closed in, and approximately 50 ships had been destroyed. By 21:30 the fighting had moved approximately 60km off the station, as the defenders pressed their advantage. In these early stages of the fight, a PL bombing run took out several TEST pilots in Nightmares, accounting for most of the 49 billion ISK that the CVA’s allies lost during the battle. By 21:40, the system had reached 40% time dilation, ultimately hitting 53% by 21:45. Sometime before this, the station’s vulnerability timer expired. PL had lost their tactical objective.
However, in the chaos, PL disengaged from the Fortizar and began assaulting the Station, contesting the system’s sovereignty. They quickly siezed it, wresting sovereignty away from Sev3rance. Almost immediately, though, both PL and CVA retreated the field; by 22:15 Local was down to 1105 pilots, and twenty minutes later it had shrunk to just 250.
PL won the ISK battle, destroying nearly 60b ISK of defending ships, although most of that was the aforementioned TEST Nightmares. PL themselves lost 14b. 544 ships were destroyed, all subcapitals. The presence of such heavy reinforcement from TEST, Brave, and Goonfleet indicates that PL have numerous enemies, and it is possible that the battles in Providence may be seen as a way of undermining PL from the south.
An Ongoing Situation
In light of the rapidly changing events in Providence, we at INN will be issuing updates as new information becomes available. Please check back regularly for the latest information.