Some hours had passed since the Amarrian Diplomat had arrived at briefing facility. Tensions were running high throughout the Corporate facility, and fatigue was already setting in with some of the pilots. Since deployment to the Bleak Lands a few weeks prior, Alpha squadron had been on the go non-stop. DSR followed by a briefing after briefing, followed by combat practice, followed by more briefings – this all lead to combat fatigue. Keacte was quite tired today and had not been sleeping too well. He had been thinking that he needed a break from this. Keacte was constantly on edge awaiting a claxon, or a hostile fleet being announced. Today was no different.
But today was different. Keacte was flying his trusty rusty minnie cheetah. No armour battleship for him today sadly. He had not taken delivery of his battleship in time for Kourmonen after the Poitot holy hand-grenade a few months back. Although merely cosmetic damage – it came at a cost. He had never been space-rich; on the contrary in fact. Keacte managed to scrape together enough funds to fight , but a damaged battleship was going to take some time to pay off.
He was Glepps eyes and ears this time round – a role which he thrived in.
Keacte dropped out of warp in his cheetah some 30km from the hostile fleet. By now the Agony POS was out of reinforced, and there were around a half a dozen or so hostile battlecruisers aligned and ready to destroy the forward operational base. Agony could not allow this to happen and as such had rallied a large armour battleship fleet ready to defend. The destruction of the POS would be a big setback for the Amarrian Empire and their attempt to restore stability to the region.
In the hours previously the Amarrian Diplomat had talked of fighting for the greater good, and fighting for the people – all very worthy aims in Keactes opinion. Alas, some of the Agony pilots were in it for more than that – the fame, the fight, the girls, the ISK. Getting on the good side of the Amarrians is a very lucrative and financially rewarding endeavour. Keacte was torn though. Although he needed the ISK, he in fact agreed with the principles set out by the Diplo, and was fighting for the good of the Amarrian people. This was more than about ISK for Keacte – this was about freedom from persecution.
As Keacte grabbed the control of the cheetah, he mopped his brow as a few beads of sweat had formed, and blinked slightly – as he manoeuvred the cheetah in alignment with the hostile fleet, his field of view changed and rotated slightly, causing the sun to flood into his cockpit and he was bathed in its tender kisses. It felt good. He missed that natural warmth of the sun that you feel when planetside. He reminisced momentarily about his last time back planetside in Dastryns with some friends. It was so warm that day. The beer was cold, and the company was good – it seemed like a lifetime ago, and yet it was only around 6months or so ago.
This distant memory was abruptly broken as his comm ear-piece scratched with some low static, and he then heard the familiar voice of Glepp as her voice swept softly over him. Glepp had a soft, calming, semi-hypnotic voice. She had called for a rally point at an incursion deep safe within Kourmonen. By now, Agonys fleet had swollen in numbers and had around a dozen or so battleships with guardian support undocked and ready for combat.
Keactes eyes were fixed on the hostile fleet. They had only moved slightly to align to the POS, so his gut feeling was that they were about to escalate into combat. As Keacte was about to report no movement, the hostile fleet gained speed and warped down to the staging POS. Keacte sat up in his seat and took a breath.
“Recon, Keacte in Kourmonen at tactical off Agony staging POS, hostile battlecruiser fleet has warped to the POS. They are engaging – repeat, they are engaging”
Glepp called the align to the POS, and squad warped Agony to the POS. Glepp called for the anchor point. Keacte was spamming his scanner. The Agony fleet had appeared on scan, and around fifteen seconds or so later around a dozen or so brilliant white lights burnt trails in space.
Just at that moment, the hostile battlecruiser fleet warped out!
Keacte laughed to himself – had they got scared? had Agony brought too much? had they forgotten their ammo?
Tactical retreats often happen in New Eden. When in combat, there is no point in throwing ships at a combat situation. You really need the odds in your favour. That, and good intel. The hostile fleet had seen the Agony fleet on scan and inbound to their location, and warped away when it became clear that their mere half a dozen battlecruisers were not going to be enough for them to take Agony on.
They had wisely fled. All things considered, this was a good move for them and in light of the battleships now on the field.
Around 5 minutes elapsed, when it became apparent from the Militia intelligence channels that the hostile fleet was shipping up and they too were bringing battleships. Glepp was calling for the intelligence from the Amarrian diplomats on comms but she just could not get a straight answer as to the location of their fleet, their numbers or fleet composition.
Glepp was calm, but Keacte knew that she would have been absolutely seething inside. Seething for blood, but also seething at the uncertainty; it is the uncertainty in New Eden that gets you killed. Remember that first time when you engage a pilot on a gate without knowing what is on the other side. This was kind of like that. Glepp didnt know if this was going to escalate; and know her as Keacte did, Keacte knew that she would not have wanted to have been caught with her pants down [again].
The silence was broken abruptly by Glepp; the hostile fleet had been caught on short range scan. It was a around a dozen or so battleships with support.
As the hostile fleet landed, their fleet composition and size was much the same as the Agony fleet, and Glepp called the primary target eventually popping it relatively quickly; unfortunately the blood was not going to be shed today – the hostile fleet reps stabilised, and for the next 10minutes each fleet slugged it out – but to no avail.
Keacte suspected that Glepp and Itko were playing the long game on this. He suspected that they suspected that the hostile fleet would ship up and fight battleship versus battleship. It wouldn’t have been the first time. Keacte was sure it wouldn’t be the last time either. Itko and Glepp had played the long game before back in Syndicate. But this time round, the more Keacte looked on the more he convinced himself that was their plan. Itko was a shrewd tactician. He was a quiet, conscientious capsuleer with much experience despite his junior years, and had learnt much in his short time in Agony – he had also commanded much respect from his peers.
This fight was going nowhere – basically the incoming damage match the outgoing damage, and each fleets repairing potential. Keacte stared long and hard at the ships on the field, this was set to be a stalemate.
Then the flash came. The hostile fleet cyno’d in an Archon for ship repairs. The Archon dwarfed the battleships in size. It was at least two to three times the size.
When a cyno goes up in New Eden – you never know what is going to come through. In this instance, the hostile repairing potential far outweighed the Agony incoming damage, and as such that was the game changer. In effect the battleship damage was now nullified.
Glepps voice could be heard calling for the disengagement, and the order for the retreat to the incursion deepsafe. The Agony fleet had come for a fight, but just would not be able to break the hostile fleet under the Archon reps.
The battle was not lost.
It was just temporarily postponed.