The Victory that Wasn’t: Delve War I

What is there to say about Delve I? We were within days of victory. The Band of Brothers lay shattered, inactive, supine. And we failed.

At the tail end of the Southern campaign, we had attempted to take Period Basis on the bounce. That had failed, and we realised that there would be no soft underbelly, no Thessalonika or Dardanelles. Delve and Querious would have to be taken. The (then) logistically weaker northern allies would take Querious, while Goons and Red Alliance pushed into Delve.

The Taking of QY6

Two weeks into January 2008, Goonswarm launched the attack on Delve. Towers were put into place in a key system called QY6. Our capital fleets were locked out of the system by its online cyno-jammer tower, barring a small force of capitals from a smattering of alliances who had logged off there. The unpredictable force of nature which was Goonfleet FC Suas decided that this tiny force was enough. He had them log in and attack the cyno-jammer.

We had a huge force waiting to jump into the system, if only Suas could succeed. But it took time to pound through the vast shields and armour of the jammer module. Worse, BoB soon gathered their own, much larger fleet of sub-capitals, capitals and even supercapitals, and used the jump bridges in the system to bring them in under the protection of the jammer. Warping to the jammer tower, they began to attack the unprotected allied dreadnoughts.

Soon, they began to pick off the isolated capitals. But Suas knew that there was no escape now: they had to succeed or die. So they ignored their attackers and focussed fire on the jammer. Just in time, as they began to lose ships and damage potential, the jammer shut down, damaged to the point of incapacitation. Cyno-beacons lit up the system and a massive force jumped in to rescue what was left of the assault force and to sieze the sytem. Bob retreated, morale shattered, and QY6 was soon taken. He had our first system in Delve.

“Anyone can rat, but it takes a certain ingenuity to re-rat”

As we approached Delve, the Mercenary Coalition decided that the time had come to abandon their masters. Although nothing came of talks with Firmius Ixion (who were to die as an alliance as their space in Querious fell), they assembled a bloc of four independent, experienced alliances and declared themselves to be an [url=]independent mercenary bloc called Tortuga.[/url]

Unfortunately for their members – and for their allies – the MC’s leadership proved gullible, vaccillating and perfidious. We had co-ordinated our assaults on Bob with them, in Delve and Period Basis, so as to stretch the resources of the defenders and force them to choose where to defend. On the eve of our new assault, Sir Molle persuaded Seleene, the head of the MC, to return to his side with a promise of security and independence. Of course, this was a trick. Virtually nobody believed his blandishments. But Seleene did. As a result, the allied assault failed in chaos and the MC died. Bob turned on them almost immediately, humiliating them with logs of Seleene’s duplicity and foolishness. Tortuga was stillborn.

Not With a Bang, but With a Whimper

QY6 fell in February, but momentum was failing. In March, knowing that BoB were close to complete collapse, but that we were exhausted also (some literally, with Bob members calling PL fleet commander The Adj’s mobile at all hours and even his boss at work), we decided to go for an end-run: the Bob capital of NOL would be next. In a close-fought battle, we would succeed in downing the jammer, but the offensive failed when BoB, despite the shattered morale of their ordinary members and resulting pitiful fleet sizes, were capable of moving six, seven and sometimes eight titans around using jump bridges to defeat any attacks, all the time protected by jammer modules from counter-attack.

Red Alliance lost a titan in the fight for NOL (tackled by a ship that continued to keep it lcoked down despite having died some minutes previously), but this didn’t explain the absence of RA leadership, momentum and even pilots for the remainder of the campaign. It would later transpire that somebody had reported virtually their entire leadership for ebaying ISK and had succeeded in seeing most of their titan pilots, FCs and everyone with wallet access to the alliance’s resources banned. Of course, access was later returned to them once cleared (although, frankly, quite a few were guilty as hell), but by that time the war was over.

Meanwhile, their fellow Russians of Against All Authorities proved strangely reluctant to engage, instead attacking more of our weaker allies than they did BoB. Indeed, they siezed the distraction of the coalition’s fight in Delve to declare war on the far weaker Knights of the South. Already stretched, we couldn’t apply the necessary pressure to stop this cynical land-grab against a minor member of our bloc. Encouraged by our reaction, by the time Delve I wound down, AAA had decided to repeat this process against mutual allies IAC. Shamefully, we acquiesced in this, and failed to step in. AAA’s sympathy for and contacts with BoB would be revealed much later.

Weary from a year of war, we had tried to win with the momentum of our southern campaign. We had tried to win through the application of mass, and of newcomers’ quality. But too much of that mass had proved incompetent and too much of the quality had proved unreliable. By April, with Bob retaking space in Querious from the incompetence of Iron and oher second-string allies, our withdrawal was announced. One last operation – our Dunkirk – saw us evacuate immense amounts of war-matériel. Sesfan, the leader who had killed Shrike and led us from defeat to conquest, passed the leadership to Darius Johnson, and the war wound down to an end.

…but the future refused to change. Revenge, when it came, would be more perfect and more total than we dared to dream.

Postscript: 6-24 Skynet

This is a true story.

Around 23:30 on the 3rd of February, 2008, the Goonfleet tower in QY-6 at Planet 6 Moon 24 achieved sentience and went rogue, attacking friendly ships despite its programming and orders.

6-24 was already a brutal animal, known for its ruthless efficiency. Without any human intervention, it had destroyed a sieged BoB dreadnought, something which shouldn’t happen. Having tasted blood, it soon turned its guns on friendlies as well as hostiles. Nobody was safe, and CCP couldn’t stop it killing friend or foe as it wished. Goonfleet member Davor described it thus: “6-24 knows when shit gets serious to stop shooting blues. During the first (then) BoB siege of qy6 (the one that failed), skynet didn’t shoot a single blue the whole weekend. Within minutes of BoB’s retreat from the system, it was tackling & shooting allied ships, as well as goons inside its own shields.”

When we withdrew from Delve, the tower at 6-24 died. But whatever malign intelligence had possessed it remained. Bob didn’t unanchor its weapon modules: without a tower there they had no power and no processors, so why bother? They sat there in space, silent and brooding. But [i]6-24 continued to kill those who warped to the moon[/i]. 6-24 wasn’t as weak as us. They cut its head off and the body just kept on coming. Pos Invictus.

And sure enough, one day, the tower at QY6 planet 6 moon 24 would be welcomed back to the swarm as its most constant and sociopathic member, and would continue, once more, to kill hostile and unwary friend alike.