Asher pinged to warn us that we would be moving.
The question was where. Where would we be heading after Pure Blind?
We have been in Pure Blind for a while. There have been a couple of short breaks, but we have been deployed up there since November at least. However, once Pandemic Horde moved on from Fade to Geminate and people started sensing blood in the water when it came to Guardians of the Galaxy, things have started to get a bit more crowded. Adding to us and the TNT deployment near another corner of Pure Blind, The Initiative has become a lot more active coming in from Fountain through Cloud Ring, with FedUp joining them, and Space Violence, anther Imperium group, chose to deploy into the middle of Pure Blind as well.
All those Imperium pilots roaming around the area has attracted the attention of GotG’s neighbors. NCDot had deployed to Gehi to threaten Querios in the hope that it would make us pull back our groups in the north, but the Imperium has proven to be big enough to have mainfleet ops running to defend Queious without needing to call anybody back. So NCDot has also been drawn into supporting GotG direction in the north.
And then there is Pandemic Legion. They had been occupied since February attacking Providence. Having pushed back ProviBloc and ground down their sovereignty slowly week after week, PL up and withdrew when TEST declared they were deploying to the area specifically to fight them. ProviBloc quickly regained their territory.
That meant PL was back in the north looking for something to do as well. With all those forces mixed about us, our small fleets seemed less likely to be effective. Or so I gathered from Asher’s ping.
We did not know where we would be headed, or most of us did not. The best way to broadcast intel to your enemies is to make it widely known among your friends, some of whom are no doubt spies. All most of us knew was that all of us would be going and we would be hauling along all doctrines. That meant capitals going as well, which helped some as the caps could carry extra ships for people in their ship maintenance bays. (CCP adding those to dreadnoughts a while back boosted deployment hauling potential significantly.)
After handing over a few ships to cap pilots to haul, I got my main in an Oneiros for the trip and my alt in a stealth bomber to haul that along as well. When things finally came together we undocked to begin our journey, which was estimated to take us about an hour.
Bombers went to hang out on a black ops battleship on a citadel, the rest of the sub caps loitered on the undock as the capitals were undocked and jumped to their first mid-point. It was without a station, so they had to land, warp off to make safes, then cloak up to wait out their timer. Meanwhile, the main subcap fleet aligned out to catch up with the capitals in order to cover them for their next jump, leaving the bombers behind. But we ran into trouble almost right away. The locals had heard about our move op and dropped supers and subcaps on us as we jumped through the first gate.
We got away from that with only two ships lost, but it was an indication that our move might be eventful. We bounced around to get away and when the drop cleared out we ended up back where we started. We actually stood down for a while to let the hostiles clear out. The caps were safe down the road, but people were trying to scan them down.
Eventually that cooled down and the subcaps were able to move out and catch up to the capitals, then move ahead to the next mid point, which had a station for them to dock up. The bombers were sent along as well. The caps were able to jump again and the subcaps ran along to our final destination, which turned out to be deep in Venal.
I hadn’t been to Venal since early in the Casino War. It is an NPC held section of null sec, owned by the Guristas pirate faction, and follows the design philosophy of an past era. It is a region consisting of 95 systems, but it only has five NPC stations in it, so there are not a lot of truly safe locations there. But it is also in the center of the north. If you like EVE Online donut metaphors, if the north is a donut (blue or otherwise) then venal is the hole in the middle.
While none of the stations in Venal are particularly handy, if you don’t mind a few gates between yourself and the locals the region gives you access to quite a bit of the north. Black Legion used to use Venal for this back when we lived in the north. For us the likely target seemed to be Branch, where GotG has been able to rat and mine in relative peace for while we have been active in Fade, Pure Blind, and Tribute. And so we settled in to our new home.
Well, we settled in once we got the bombers caught up. Somehow they got left behind without a black ops battleship so one had to be cyno’d back in to jump us to our destination.
But once that was done we were able to settle in and start operating from our new location.
From there ops started rolling for targets of opportunity. While waiting around for opportunities there were a few things locally to shoot. There are towers and citadels hanging about for us to hit.
So we quickly got on the board with a couple of easy kills.
But juicer targets await.
GotG, learning of our change of location, packed up and deployed to counter our threat. Never mind that of the groups deployed in and around Pure Blind represented much larger numbers, we were apparently the threat. Or maybe we seemed like a manageable target. Or perhaps they really were worried about their as yet unmolested ratting and mining space.
This led to a particularly dramatic fight, which I totally missed. It was on Saturday night and I was at home and not doing anything in particular. But I wasn’t at my computer and so I did not see the pings for it until The Mittani was smug pinging about it.
We managed to catch and drop on Sort Dragon as he was moving his titan to the GotG staging in WLF-D3. Sort is the leader of GotG, so this was a particularly satisfying kill. The clash also saw another titan killed with the ISK war leaning well in our favor.
I am extremely bummed that I missed this fight, all the more so as I was home and could have easily joined in. Ah well, I can’t be there for everything. But this certainly did make for an auspicious start to our time in Venal.
More information on that battle:
Other posts related to the situation in the north: