Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Tipping Point

So I was wondering who the hell NCDOT are.

A member of Goonswarm once joked that if their opponents ever made a corp named 'The NC' they would obliterate any Goon fleet without resistance. About a month later, former elements of Triumvirate went ahead and created a whole alliance called 'Northern Coalition.' and proceeded to cause all kinds of mayhem in Fountain and Outer Ring.

A few days go NCDOT turned up on the border of Providence, basing out of the system of Yong. As suspected by many, it soon became apparent that they were working with Evoke. Since NCDOT is mostly a US time zone operator, any advantage that New Providence previously had in that slot promptly vanished.

Word on the street is that Sodalitas, Daisho Syndicate and Agony are already making their evacuation plans, and will be exiting Providence soon. The remaining members of New Providence simply don't have the numbers to mount any meaningful resistance. At this point it's all over apart from the sovereignty grind.

This is going to be a very decisive time for CVA. Potentially they could make make huge gains, though I suspect their cultural identity will not allow them to negotiate any deal with a NBSI entity.

Time will tell, but today markes the end of another era for the region.

So I'll be leaving Providence for now. I've got itchy feet again and there are still whole regions of the EVE universe I've never visited, frontiers I've never seen. I'll probably hang out in high-sec for a while and make my plans. If I stumble across anything interesting, hell I might even write about it.

In the meantime, this is Rebecca Aventine signing off.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

A Week in Providence

So I was scouting around Providence in a Taranis, when I stumbled across a confrontation between CVA and Evoke.

I had noticed earlier that day that Imperial Order system 18-GZM had fallen to CVA and had headed into the south-western side of Providence to see if I could get a look. However after bursting through a gate camp in a neighbouring system I found myself cornered with hostiles eyes watching each exit. Deciding that discretion would be the better part of valour I pulled a 'logoffski' and left it for a while.

Upon returning I spotted that another system X6AB-Y had dropped sovereignty.

Since I had probably missed whatever action had taken place in 18-GZM I changed course and made my way to X6AB-Y. Interestingly enough I found Territorial Claim Units deployed in this former Ushra'Khan system by both CVA and Evoke.

I have to confess I had mixed feelings about this. Partly because I had previously been using this quiet backwater system to do some ratting in. The former owners having left the station 'Slavers Bane' open to neutrals such as me. But mostly because the countdown on the TCUs indicated that I would be tucked up in bed and snoring happily by the time they came online.

Subsequently I completely missed the massive three way fight that took place, and EVE News 24 had pretty much scooped me on the whole story by the time I woke up to read it. But hey, that's just how it rolls in the cut-throat business of internet spaceship journalism.

You can read the whole story elsewhere, but in summary, CVA eventually won the system in spite of losing an Avatar Class Titan. By all accounts New Providence did pretty well that night, cleaning up a lot of Evoke SBUs, reinforcing New Berlin and rounding the evening off by killing CVA's super-capital.

So having lost in their bid to take X6AB-Y, Evoke consoled themselves by reinforcing a bunch of stations in the Daisho Syndicate and Sodalitas constellations, and blockading various systems there. I scouted this out, and worked out the various timers would imply another major weekend fleet engagement by Evoke into their enemies time-zone.

A few days later I turned up in JEIV-E to witness New Berlin come out of reinforcement. Unfortunately it was too early in the day for New Providence to come out and play. However Evoke and Ewoks turned up in over thirty carriers and made quick work of repairing their station. Perhaps I would have better luck with the next timer, but that wasn't for a few more hours.

So with time to kill I decided to go to Rens and trade in my Claw interceptor for a Stiletto. I could go into the various rationales behind this decision, but to be honest it was pure whim.

It proved my random impulses were onto something however, because halfway through Derelik in the system of Tanoo I stumbled across a dreaded Sansha Incursion.

As is often the case, I was late to the party. But I managed to fleet up with the hundred or so pilots already in system and help drive off the Sansha Nation in a fight that concluded with the destruction of Slave 32152's carrier.

Thankfully Slave 32152 had omitted to fit any smart bombs, otherwise my journey could have ended rather abruptly.

Somewhat later I fitted out a brand new Stiletto in Rens and dove back into Providence. First stop was Y9-MDG, and this time I was not to be disappointed. With around four hundred pilots and a Cynosural Field in system it looked like I had hit the jackpot. I sneaked into a close reconnaissance position off station and got my camera drones ready.

I wouldn't have to wait long. Evoke warped in with an almost identical set-up to their previous attack on JEIV-E, comprising of short range battleships supported by logistic cruisers and a squadron of interceptors and heavy interdictors.

But where was New Providence? After scouting the gates I located them attacking an SBU, and like Evoke they had decided to reuse their previous respective set-up of massed Drakes.

I got back on station in time to witness Agony making an almost perfect attack run on the Evoke Fleet. Stealth Bombers popped up and unleashed a volley of bombs right into the massed battleships doing what I can only assume was serious damage.

The Evoke battleships had been pre-aligned and promptly warped out, however the logistic cruisers were caught off guard. As interdiction spheres blossomed around them, the New Providence Drake Army warped in and set about reducing their numbers.

The Drakes held position for a while finishing off the stragglers, before warping out again. With the station vicinity now cleared of any threat, I followed in hot pursuit and tracked them down to another SBU.

At this point I got over confident. Attempting to get in closer for a better shot, I caught the attention of a New Providence Dramiel pilot who quickly out-paced my interceptor and scrambled my warp drive. Unable to escape, I switched from MWD to Afterburner and pointed him back, but the Stiletto was no match for that deadly Angel Cartel faction frigate, and after a brief tangle I found myself in an escape capsule.

I subsequently managed to escape, but what to do now? It was a long way to Rens to get a new ship. I decided there only one thing for it. This was it, pure gonzo journalism, I was going to cover the remainder of the battle in my pod.

I warped back to the station and tried to look casual. With any luck no one would think a small green metallic egg worth shooting at. It seemed the Evoke battleships were back and busy hammering on the station's defences. Strangely there was no sign of their super-carriers which I had been expecting to see by now. What was their game plan? As I sat pondering this question, an Evoke pilot crept up on me and gave me a surprise express ride to Rens.

I awoke feeling refreshed in a new clone, just in time to receive a communications from said Evoke Pilot. He spoke of the beauty of the frozen corpse now residing in his ships cargo hold, and I felt my heart flutter. Immediately, I pumped him for information. Sadly I was unable to trade his misplaced romantic interest for insider knowledge, so I made my excuses and hung up.

Well I wasn't going to let a small thing like death stop me. So after spending far too long messing around with various ships and fittings, I disembarked and headed into Providence once more. However by the time I got back to Y9-MDG it was all over. The 'Print Prostitution' Station was into it's second reinforcement and the system was practically empty.

Still there was one more timer left to investigate in the Sodalitas system of IWZ3-C, and I was pleased to discover the Evoke fleet attacking the 'Baby Seal Storage' station when I got there. Curiously there were only around 250 pilots in local. Had New Providence taken a beating and been forced to retreat? I had no way of really knowing, but as I watched Evoke deploy their super-carriers to pound the station into a second reinforcement there was no visible counter attack from New Providence.

Mission accomplished, Evoke packed up their fleet and exited. Local dropped off to about fifty, but then began to slowly rise again with New Providence pilots. Something was going on and I was determined to find out what.

Anyway there must have been some mental dysfunction in the new clone I was inhabiting, or at least that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. Because for reasons I cannot fathom I decided it would be a great idea to warp to zero on a gate with a hundred hostiles in local, with predictable results.

I awoke in Rens for the second time that night, much to the bemusement of the medical staff who recommend I lay off the boosters for a while. I took their advise and retired to the station bar to drown my sorrows.

So in the final analysis, while there appears to be no accord between Evoke and CVA, it seems that Evoke and Ewoks will slowly but steadily gain more systems at this rate. New Providence will no doubt make Evoke fight for every inch however, and certainly no one can accuse them of being mere squatters any more.

For there own part CVA have done very well this week gaining two more systems. Especially so, if the rumours I've heard are true. Allegedly X6AB-Y was CVA's capital shipyard prior to being conquered by Ushra'Khan and the value of assets recovered from the liberated 'Aurarius Capitalis' station is worth losing a Titan over.

In the meantime this is Rebecca Aventine, somewhere in Rens, getting drunk.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

New Berlin

So I was ninja-ratting out in Catch.

I'd found a nice little empty system belonging to The Initiative and was happily blasting Sansha battleships in a Hurricane when a source, who wishes to remain anonymous, asked me what the hell I was doing out in the middle of nowhere.

Turns out I was missing all the action in the Sodalitas Constellation of P6N8-J. I'd seen a few reports of Evoke operations there in the previous days, but I had sort gotten into a rut collecting Sansha bounties and the odd bit of True Sansha loot. Anyway, I figured if even random passers-by were telling me to go cover the action, then I probably should get off my ass and check it out.

After piloting the relativity ponderous battlecruiser back to Unity Station, I undocked in a swift and agile Claw interceptor and proceeded to N-RMSH. Local traffic was light and there were no significant gate camps to bar my way. Unfortunately I didn't have any bookmarks for the Sodalitas pocket of systems, so I'd have to reconnoitre on the fly.

I soon discovered it wasn't just N-RMSH that was under siege. There are six systems in P6N8-J, each with a station. Every one of them was reinforced with timers counting down, and with Sovereignty Blockade Units deployed at every Stargate, every system was vulnerable. Oddly enough, not every SBU belonged to Evoke. A few of them appeared to be owned by Sodalitas, and I can only assume they had taken a page out of The Star Fraction's book, and hijacked these SBUs in an attempt to derail the blockade.

I should go into the background of Sodalitas for a moment. They're one of the lynch pins in the New Providence coalition. They've been around since the campaign that swept CVA out into Domain, and were later instrumental in evicting the former Ursha'Khan. In short, they're a major player. So if Evoke breaks Sodalitas then that's pivotal to the future of the whole region.

Anyway with six separate stations all reinforced, I was pretty sure something would happen that night. It looked like the JEIV-E station, curiously known as 'Turkey Shack', would be the first to come out of reinforcement mode. That would still be way past midnight for the German Evoke pilots, but it being the weekend perhaps they would still come out to play.

Either way, I had a few hours to kill, so I decided to head out and sell off my True Sansha loot. It was then that I stumbled across another news worthy item in the border system of G-5EN2.

A squadron of stealth bombers including pilots from The Star Fraction and Mortal Destruction appeared to be attacking Teutonic Guard's station. Now while the station itself was invulnerable, it's services were not, and the bombers were busy wrecking it's Repair Bay. Multiple warp disruption spheres hung in space outside the station effectively trapping a single TG Zealot pilot inside it.

Mortal Destruction used to hang out in G-5EN2 with it's former owners Final Stand. So it appears Star Fraction has been reaching out to those with a grudge against Teutonic Guard, to heighten it's guerilla campaign here.

Moving on, I finally made it to Rens, contracted my faction loot for auction and nodded off watching a holoreel. It felt like it had been a long day.

Little did I know, it was just getting started.

I awoke with a start, and checked the time. I had ten minutes to get back to Providence. Reaching for the Quafe Extreme I set course for JEIV-E and undocked. I raced through systems in a blur and took the Dital entrance to Providence. Thankfully there were no gate camps waiting for me and I made it to the target system just in time.

Local comms displayed over 380 pilots in system. This was it.

Thirty or forty wrecks tumbled in space just beyond the Stargate. A few interceptors wove back and forth through the debris near the SBU deployed there. But they were too far away to stop me as I engaged warp and jumped to my reconnaissance position just off the station. Cloaking up I scanned the vicinity.

There were definitely a lot of sub-capitals out there, but nothing much in visual range. A few escape pods warped in to dock at the station and reship, so there was definitely fighting going on somewhere.

It was then I spotted a ship I had never seen before in my travels. A Polaris Inspector Frigate floated perhaps a hundred clicks off station. It was registered as being owned by ISD Celestin Delune so presumably I wasn't the only reporter to have taken an interest. I soon noticed that the Polaris was warping back and forth to the station, and realised it's pilot must know something I didn't. I waited for it's next departure, dropped my cloak and warped after it in hot pursuit.

I was rewarded with my first visual sighting of the Evoke fleet. Consisting of Armageddon, Megathron and Tempest battleships, supported by Guardian logistic cruisers, the fleet held position below a ringed gas giant.

Interceptors and heavy interdictors further supplemented it's forces, and quickly came into play as the New Providence defence force arrived on the field.

The New Providence fleet appeared to be almost entirely composed of that recent favourite of null-sec warfare, the Caldari Drake battlecruiser. Cheap and effective, a critical mass of shield buffer Drakes can missile volley more expensive vessels before logistic pilots are able to react and repair the damage.

However the New Providence pilots were not going to escape this particular clash unscathed. The Evoke interceptors closed the distance to the Drakes in seconds, allowing the heavy interdictors to warp to them and deploy their warp distribution fields. As the Drakes aligned out, the Evoke battleships began to arrive, and though most of the defence force managed to get away a few remained trapped and were quickly destroyed.

Regardless of these losses the New Providence forces were on their home turf, and could quickly reship in another cheap battlecruiser and rejoin the fight. Evoke pilots on the other hand would have to run the gauntlet from Assah if they lost a ship and tried to get back.

Or would they? At that moment my on-board scanner picked up the signature of a Cynosural Field. I aligned to it's source and jumped. Half way there I suddenly realised that the field would probably have been deployed inside the shields of an Evoke staging POS, and that I would likely come out of warp right into the sights of massed artillery...

My fears were realised, as I dropped out of warp. There indeed was a fully armed and operational POS, inside which there just happened to be a fully armed and operational Erebus Class TITAN.

Frantically mashing the cloak button, Fortune smiled on me. The warp had been long enough that the 30 second cool-down of my cloaking device had already expired and I vanished into the starry night before any hostile weapon systems locked onto me. Presumably with a Titan deployed, Evoke could bridge in any reinforcements they needed. At that moment jump signatures appeared around the Cynosural Field. Something was coming through.

These were no mere battleship reinforcements. Evoke was escalating the conflict and bringing it's super-capitals into play. Six Nyx and two Aeon Class super-carriers had arrived, and were aligning towards the Sodalitas station.

I followed as they warped off, but I had misjudged their destination. The space around the station was empty when I arrived. Where had they gone? It was a question I wouldn't have time to ponder, as the Evoke sub-capital fleet presently warped into view.

It didn't hang around for long though. New Providence had another trick up their sleeve. Appearing as if from nowhere, a squadron of Stealth Bombers launched a salvo of bombs towards the Evoke battleships which immediately warped off again. Both sides appeared to be engaged in rapid hit and run skirmishes.

Warping in directly below me, the super-carriers arrived and unleashed their fighter bombers. Somewhat unnervingly, as they swarmed towards the station, they passed within 10km of my fragile ship, almost de-cloaking me and revealing my position.

New Providence countered this by warping their Drake fleet into range of the super-carriers and focused their fire onto a single Aeon.

Evoke responded by warping in their support fleet, just as the Drakes pulled out, and suffered another attack from the defenders' stealth bombers. The back and forth attacks continued ,while Evoke redeployed their super-capitals high above the station and unleashed their fighters again.

Once again the defence force ambushed the super-carriers with focused missile fire, but were forced once more to retreat by the return of the Evoke battleships.

In the end, the courageous defence fought by New Providence's coalition of pilots was to no avail. Battered and pounded, the station personnel signalled their surrender to Evoke, and formally handed the station into their possession.

Further skirmishes continued, but I had already seen enough and retired from the field. It was an extraordinary battle to follow, fought by highly skilled pilots and fleet commanders, unmarred by the lag previously associated with these fleet engagements, and an example of what EVE can be at it's best.

In the meantime I present to you Evoke's first station in Providence, New Berlin.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Spies Like Us

So I went and lost the Vagabond, at a random gate camp appropriately enough. What threw me though, was that I lost it to CVA in a bizarre turn of events.

I think I know how Pandemic Legion must feel.

Outraged by this non NRDS behaviour I sent a formal enquiry to their chief diplomat. I was hoping for either some form of reimbursement or a reply so arrogant that it would make for great copy and a tabloid headline.

Unfortunately, what I got back was a calm and considered explanation, pointing out that since my previous corp was an entity considered red by CVA, I would still be considered red while residing in a NPC corp such as The Scope.

Frankly it's this sort of thing that gives fanatical imperialists a bad name. How dare they spite my agenda by being polite and rational!

Anyway, turned out I could reset my status to CVA by creating my own private corp, which I promptly did. You are now looking at the CEO of Aventine Investigations, a gonzo tax haven operating out of a cardboard box in Dodixie. I probably drop out back into The Scope in a couple of days. I think I miss the random banter and general bat-shit insanity, and of course the occasional lead.

So I was indulging in a bit of high-sec mission running to replenish my funds (don't look at me like that, I know you've all done it) when things took a turn for the weird...

Kuzya Morozov > My corporation has paid delicate attention to your news organization. And is prepared to supply you with two personal assistants for your taking.

Rebecca Aventine > This sounds intriguing.

Kuzya Morozov > These assistants are yours for your use. Any lose of equipment or ships will be replaced by my corp. You are not limited to any assignments for them. That being, mining, missioning. recon. Etc. You will find them lacking in PVP abilities so that may and well be not recommended. We have read your many contributions of information. And find them vital to our own needs. However if you choose to accept them. We would like to remain anonymous.

Rebecca Aventine > Well I guess I could use help around the office.

Kuzya Morozov > Excellent. I will inform my superiors...

Kuzya Morozov > My superiors have agreed and all is in order. How shall I proceed?

Rebecca Aventine > If you could give their names, and let me run a background check.

Kuzya Morozov > The assistants in question are myself and BoSZoneOni

Rebecca Aventine > Ah, thank you. And are the two of you willing to fly around null-sec?

Kuzya Morozov > I have no problems flying null-sec. However I am ill experienced in that department. It's been quite a few years for me. Been around high too long. Any political balances that may exist I am unaware of them. Or necessary tactics about flying safely in null-sec. My partner is even more naive.

Rebecca Aventine > Well I work in Providence a great deal. If you're not prepared to dodge bullets for a good story it might be best to walk away. Though I am flattered by your offer.

Kuzya Morozov > We are prepared, just not knowledgeable of the ways in which to be best prepared.

Rebecca Aventine > Ok, well I have to dash off for a while. I'll make a note of your names and get back to you. Thank you for your interest in my work.

While I suspect this is an elaborate short-con to blow up my battleship when I undock, I wouldn't object to having a couple of spies around hypothetically. Essentially that's all a journalist is, only instead of reporting to someone like The Mittani I just spill the beans to all and sundry for free. If I wasn't planning to fold the corp in a few days I'd probably hire them just for the hell of it. If nothing else they'd be great cannon fodder.

So getting back to Providence, the current situation there appears to be a time-zone stalemate.

Evoke and CVA respectively out number their opponents during EU prime time, while New Providence dominates the US slot. The up-shot of this is that no one can deploy the numbers required to take sovereignty in their opponents time zone. Which isn't to say there aren't battles going on, but unless someone on the defensive screws up really badly, it's deadlocked.

For their own part, Evoke seems well established in Assah, and are happily hot-dropping super-capitals, sort of taking over from Pandemic Legion who exited stage right to Venal. An alliance with the amusing name of 'Not Found' deployed some SBUs in Hyena's border system Y-MPWL, but I haven't seen any further action there just yet. And finally, Dara Cothrom handed over a system to Flying Dangerous, giving FIGL complete control over the ZQ2-CF constellation.

In the meantime, this is Rebecca Aventine somewhere in Sinq Laison, signing off.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Teutonic Tengu Trade

So I was heading to Assah to check on the Evoke build up, when I discovered a few Star Fraction pilots lurking in G-5EN2. The ever helpful SF pilot Claire XXX was on the scene and explained that they had been busy attacking Teutonic Guard (aka TG) in retribution for their part in the assault on YW-S0Z.

Formerly held by The Final Stand, the important border system of G-5EN2 was taken over by TG quite recently, no doubt as part of the same campaign that attempted to replace Star Fraction with On The Rocks.

For their own part, TG seem a friendly enough bunch (when they're not chasing away overtly curious journalists from loitering outside their station) and seem willing leave this particular entrance to Providence open to visitors. However this particular day the visitors would include a covert squadron from Evoke in addition to the SF guerilla fighters.

Sensing a battle in the offing, I warped to the station and cloaked up at a discrete distance to observe the action. A warp distribution sphere hung 100km off the station which TG appeared to dislike, as they presently undocked in two battlecruisers and a Tengu in order to remove the intrusive bubble.

Almost immediately local spiked as Evoke stealth bombers and recon cruisers warped in, surrounding the out-numbered TG gang. The resulting fight was brief and one sided, with Evoke commenting that they were more than happy to trade a bubble for a Tech III cruiser.

Time will tell how resilient Teutonic Guard are, as for now it seems constant harassment from SF and Evoke will be the order of the day in this system.

Moving on to Assah I noticed a curious thing. Pandemic Legion and Evoke ships were undocking from the Ammatar station and completely failing to shoot one another. So some form of agreement between these two alliances would appear to exist. I've been reading reports recently of Pandemic Legion attacking Deklein Coalition assets in Venal, so perhaps these attacks are being bank-rolled by Evoke in revenge for being evicted from Cloud Ring.

Further exploration of nearby systems revealed Sovereignty Blockade Units deployed in two Daisho Syndicate systems. I can't confirm that this is the beginning of an Evoke invasion however since the SBUs in question appeared to be owned by Daisho themselves. While rumours abound, it remains possible that Evoke has been invited to take sovereignty by the New Providence Holders, rather than intending to take systems by force.

In the meantime this is Rebecca Aventine, somewhere in Providence, signing off.