Darkness’ latest assault on the strategic Querious system of ED-L9T has resulted, at least for now, in a stalemate. The Imperium forces were unable to hold the station or the TCU, but Spacemonkey’s Alliance got the critical final blow on the station. As a result, hours of work by Darkness to take the station in a fight that saw more destruction than the entire campaign that preceded it may have been in vain.
With the station timer coming out at 02:51 on the morning of June 6th, both the Imperium and the Guardians of the Galaxy were determined to be ready. Both formed early, and called in aid from numerous sources.
The Imperial forces were comprised of the Reavers’ Ishtar fleet, reinforced with additional Ishtars, logistics, and support from The Bastion bringing the fleet’s numbers to over 250. At the same time, Imperial FCs brought a Tengu fleet and a small tackle group, and SMA fielded an Ishtar fleet of their own, while situational allies Pandemic Legion fielded their ‘Slippery Pete’ Tengus, and BRAVE Collective brought a contingent of ECM Burst interceptors. Additionally, local pirates The Exiled Gaming contributed a small group of Taloses, and Confederation of xXPIZZAXx’s Elite-Space Coalition added bombers to the mix.
Guardians of the Galaxy once more brought their armor Strategic Cruiser fleet supported by triage and dreadnoughts, with Northern Coalition (NCdot) fielding their own armor Lokis, Gentlemen’s Club (GClub) bringing Harpies, and Black Legion providing a Tengu fleet numbering over a hundred pilots. The total number of pilots involved exceeded 1500—a new high mark for the campaign, but only the first one that would be set during this fight.
The Imperium began by preparing the station grid with dozens of anchored warp disruption bubbles arranged around the station so as to leave the undock largely clear. The Guardians, on the other hand, had logged off a significant portion of their forces in ED-L9T the night before. Moving off the station grid, the Reavers rendezvoused with the reinforcement group from the Bastion, and waited. As the timer expired, Imperial carriers undocked to begin to attempt to repair the station. The hostile fleets began to land moments later, and began damaging the station; the race was on.
Once the Guardians and NCdot began to assault the station, the Reavers warped in and battle was joined in earnest. Each side’s maneuvering was slowed by the extremely heavy time dilation in the system, but both sides were also able to output enough damage to volley ships off the field before remote reps could land. As with many TiDi fights, this would be a long, grinding battle of attrition, set against the backdrop of the station’s continually-lowering armor. An additional carrier would undock to add more reps to the station, but to no avail.
A bird’s eye view of the brawl, complete with the new overview/bracket icons.
Relentlessly, the armor continued to drop, and the station’s structure began ticking away as the defenders whittled away at the attacking dreadnoughts. More than once, the Guardians responded to their dread losses by adding more and more capitals to the fight over a station that has earned nicknames like ‘Triage Graveyard’ in this campaign. The repair efforts were not enough. The station would fall.
At 5% structure, the defenders’ surviving carriers were ordered to dock, and dreadnoughts undocked as the Imperial forces turned their own fire on the station as well. The dreads were unable to lock the station in time to add their own dps, but when it did flip… it flipped to Spacemonkey’s Alliance, under the corporate banner of Applied Anarchy.
With the station temporarily out of their reach, and well over a dozen of their dreads and carriers still sitting in the remaining warp disruption bubbles, the Guardians began working to clear tackle. Their enemies continued to pour fire into the trapped capitals, killing triaged carriers and sieged dreads alike. In an exchange somewhat reminiscent of Sort Dragon’s own display of tanking in B-R5RB, an Imperial Phoenix soaked up over 1.3 million points of damage, surviving long enough to hold the Guardians’ fire while four of their triage died.
As the fighting on the station grid shifted away from a race of DPS vs remote reps, another was just beginning. With the station no longer in the hands of the same alliance as the system’s Territorial Claim Unit (TCU), the TCU itself was vulnerable to attack, and the Guardians wasted no time jumping in additional dreadnoughts to the TCU grid. As they opened fire, the Imperial forces on the station were forced to split their focus. The SMA fleet, and both the Imperial and PL Tengu contingent moved to defend the TCU.
The mounting losses eventually forced the Guardians’ subcapitals to withdraw from the station grid. As they did, they moved to the TCU POS to support the dreadnoughts there. The Reavers’ Ishtars remained on the station grid, keeping the remaining dreads pinned down and unable to join the attack on the TCU. This left the Reavers themselves unable to defend their own TCU, until a reinforcement fleet of tackle and Interdictors arrived minutes later to take over.
With the Reavers joining the efforts on the TCU, the race was fully on again – and as it was earlier, the incoming damage outpaced the reps. When the TCU’s shields failed, the Reavers decided to throw everything they had at the armor, warping in a triage Nidhoggur fitted for full capacitor regen in order to run 4 remote armor boosters. In the last moments, a cyno was lit and a second triage carrier jumped in. Two more were given the order to jump in from an adjacent system, but at that moment, clients in that system disconnected with a message that the node was being remapped.
Whether the TCU would have been saved by the addition of two more triage carriers is open to question, but ultimately, the result is what it is: the TCU was destroyed, followed shortly after by the untanked Nidhoggur. It would be the last kill of any significant size the Guardians would get, however, despite losing another 11 capitals before their subcapitals could extract.
In the final tally, Darkness and their allies have at least broken the Imperium’s defensive index, but it has come at a heavy price. Over 161b ISK was lost by the Guardians and their friends, including 26 dreadnoughts, 8 carriers, and 101 Strategic Cruisers, representing over 16 months of combined skill training time. At the same time, they inflicted 39.1b in casualties to the Reavers and their allies – a number that belies the value of the station and system, as much of the DPS from the Guardians’ fleets were focused on their objectives. Objectives that at this time are still very much within their grasp.
The Reavers went on to destroy the Guardians’ SBUs in the aftermath of the fighting, and anchor a pair of TCUs in a bid to reclaim their hold on the system. Darkness has also anchored a TCU, and is expected to attempt to destroy the onlining Imperial TCUs at some point during the EU day. No matter which side finally takes the system, this engagement is easily the largest, and bloodiest, of the campaign. Indeed, at 200.89b ISK destroyed, the butcher’s bill exceeds the 196.08b ISK destroyed in the fall of ZXB-VC. This single fight over the ED-L9T station stands as the costliest battle of the entire extended conflict, which began with the N3 Invasion of Fountain in mid-March, and stands as a testament to the dedication of the pilots on both sides who saw the fight through to the end.
UPDATE: Shortly after Downtime, Darkness did return to flip the station, and have additional TCUs onlining. At this point, it seems inevitable that they will take full control of the system.
This article originally appeared on TheMittani.com.