Art by Major Sniper
The Battle of Big’s Disco Palace, the Massacre of M2-, the M2 Boogaloo – we have all heard the names, we’ve all heard the stories, but how did the battle come about? The propaganda from the aftermath was everywhere, but there was one particular piece that stood out – the tale of Ceric and his interceptor. But was this a true story of heroism, a myth to aid in recruitment, or just one capsuleer playing their part in a wider context.
Breaking Down the Narrative
The narratives of this myth are important. The first was highlighted by the great poster (see below) that breaks down the chain of events leading back to you, the pilot, pulling a trigger and causing a chain reaction – this is the Luke Skywalker moment.
But, behind this single act comes the more vital narrative that no act of heroism or individual brilliance would have taken place without the hard work and dedication of people supporting that moment. Luke would not have got there without the pilots of Red Squadron.
These two ideas form the basis of why EVE is such an enjoyable game, and why the big null sec wars make headlines. We are all part of something – something bigger than an individual – yet at the same time it is the acts of individuals that can shape the fortunes of others. And this isn’t just about the Imperium’s successes at M2. This also includes PAPI and all the hard work behind their side of the story.
Think about all the effort that has gone into the war from PAPI’s side. The team behind their war plan, the industrials transporting ships and modules half-way across the galaxy, the players organising the move-ops, all the way to the FCs leading their fleets and the line members throwing their ships into the fray. A vast armada of enormous scale has seen truly great deeds to make it a reality.
Behind the Scenes
No one ever won a Victoria Cross (VC) or Medal of Honour (MoH) by themselves. The citations would tell a wonderful story of individual heroism, but in many cases those acts were the tip of an enormous spear that required astonishing feats to make it a success. Many would have heard of Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone winning his MoH at Guadalcanal, but behind the citation are thousands of marines who fought beside him, who held the flanks, provided his food and water, and who also gave their lives.
The pre-battle of M2- was no different. This was the first time in the war that PAPI wanted to take a fight on a Keepstar that the Imperium wanted to defend. Their battle plan was simple. Jam the system, isolate the Imperium forces, drop caps and hit the station. Havish ‘H’ Montak was the fleet commander in charge of preventing this plan. Commanding “Welp Squad” he assembled 60 bombers and set out to reinforce the cyno-jammers in M2- and 5-C (where PAPI had also targeted a Keepstar).
“We formed to start hitting those jammers,” Montak explained. “Once the enemy realised, they formed; we counter formed. Things escalated to HAC combat…enemies leave, Welp Squad camps five hours to prevent more onlining jammers, then we formed everything.” Without those jammers the Imperium could now cyno in their titans, but this was not the only action that allowed the battle to take place.
Away from this tactical battle, there was a wider strategic ploy at play. Similar to World War II’s Allies D-Day Deception plan, Operation Fortitude, the Imperium needed to draw attention away from these systems. In military terms the Imperium needed to use a “feint” – an act to deceive the enemy by achieving contact. They had to turn their attention away from the main effort.
“We reffed the 0SHT-A Keepstar, which came out 25 minutes before the first one in Delve,” explained Initiative FC Dark. “We couldn’t break the armour timer but threatened it long enough for Goons to rage form everything they had. The numbers [in Delve] were too even for PAPI as Legacy was in Curse, so they hesitated, and Goons managed to get 5-C repaired”.
With the enemy distracted in Curse, the Imperium was then able to focus its efforts on the Keepstars in Delve. “INIT and Legacy both docked up and jump cloned to Delve,” Shines added, “forcing numbers into PAPI’s favour. With two minutes left on the 5-C repair, we warped all our sub cap fleets to M2-…Imperium fleets met up on the keep and prepped to go in on the jammer but the ceptor fleet was doing a good job of resetting the repair timer – this is where the newbro came in.”
The Death Star Trench
At this point, the battle for the jammers had been going on for around five hours. Welp Fleet had successfully reinforced all jammers across three systems. PAPI had to anchor a new one in M2-. This was the moment Goonswarm had to stop that jammer from going online. With a small fleet of Interceptors and destroyers they began their suicide run on a heavily defended cyno jammer.
Elsewhere, a quote from the mysterious ‘Ceric’ appeared. “I was with [Imperium FC AcidF’s] fleet. There was a pretty big fight on the jammer and midway we all got told to put DPS on the jammer. We pulled back to the Keepstar. One guy went in solo in an interceptor but couldn’t put enough DPS on it. I was on the second wave, me in the last interceptor and five jackdaws but I don’t know if they made it through the bubbles. I got one crit in the jammer (135)!”
With the onlining jammer paused, the Imperium had a window to get their capitals into system. As titans, supers and dreads jumped in, time dilation started, elongating the window to assemble their fleets. It was with this cascade that both sides now faced each other on what was to become the greatest fight in the history of EVE Online.
Despite the quote above, attributed to ‘Ceric,’ no evidence of a player named Ceric can be found. We do know that there was an interceptor fleet, we do know that one pilot got a shot away, and we do know that his ship was obliterated shortly afterwards. Whether it was a two-month old newbie or someone’s 20-year alt, it doesn’t matter. A legendary tale has been born.
Make a Difference
When both players and observers look at the thousands of ships that took part in M2- it is easy to feel that you would be lost in a battle of that magnitude. A newer player in high sec might never consider joining a large null sec alliance out of fear of just being a menial “F1 monkey”. What the myth of Ceric tells us, though, is that anyone can make a difference, everyone can have an impact.
The more important lesson isn’t whether Ceric is real, or whether the story of a two-month-old Eve player was the one that fired that shot. The real lesson is that without all the players, none of this would be possible. We may fill forums and reddit with passion and vitriol, but underneath it all is a ton of effort by everyone that takes part. When the pandemic is over and CCP are able to host another EVE convention, pilots from both PAPI and the Imperium will be able to have a drink together and say, “Hey who lost a ship in M2-?” Because we were all there. We all made it happen.