At the time of this writing, 9 Gallente systems are vulnerable (the Infrastructure Hub may be shot to turn the system over to the Caldari) and a further 14 systems are contested over 90%. The Caldari presently hold 68 of the 101 systems in the war zone. On the surface it would appear that the Gallente Militia is in a state of collapse after their complete warzone control victory in January, and that the Caldari are about to do unto others what has been done unto them. What lies beneath the murky surface, however, is another story entirely.
After several early victories by the Caldari, culminating in the stinging blow of taking long held Gallente home system Heydieles, a recent 3 pronged assault on the part of Ev0ke <EV0KE>, Happy Endings <FONDL>, and The Bloody Ronin Syndicate <RONIN> to take the systems of Eha, Esesier, and Nennamaila respectively has ground to a screeching halt. The battle reports from the combatants involved tell a tale not of heroic victories, but of one brutal cage fight to another, with the battle cries of “Die FROG!” and “Hold the Fucking Line!” echoing into the darkness of space.
Nennamaila is known as “The Fortress” to those corps and alliances that call it home, and is located right smack in the center of the warzone. Like Rome of ancient times, all roads lead through Nennamaila.
RONIN, formerly of Old Man Star (the last system to fall in the Gallente Christmas Offensive) set their sights on this system on the 18th of February in this eve-mail from greg01 of the RONIN corp I.B.S to his alliance:
Sent: 2013.02.18 12:49
To: The Bloody Ronin Syndicate, Cory Braum, Hidden Snake, Squatdog,
You have achieved more than I could have hoped for in January and February.
We lost OMS and Ladistier but not until the end. We made them pay dearly for it. There was much rejoicing in their "Hollow Victory"... a medal and a high five. For what? Less than 24hrs later they lost 100% control.
Now, at the middle of February, Caldari Occupancy is at Tier3 and the Gallente are struggling to maintain Tier2. They smack talk us, give us abuse at every opportunity because we have constantly maintained our doctrine.....we fight on our terms and we have not left faction warfare when all appeared lost.
So, hopefully this will be the last corp/alliance move for a while?
Get all yur PvP ships to Enaluri II - State Protectorate Logistic Support. I do not want excuses, Silver is moving stuff all week so contact him for JF Services. Apparantly, the cost is to take his wife out for the evening so he can play more EVE?
We move to Enaluri to harrass the low-life in Nennamalia. Fight inside the plexes, let their big ships gather dust outside or in the station.
GET YOUR SHIPS READY AND MOVED TO ENALURI NOW............
Gal Mil intel channels exploded, and Operation: Hold the Fucking Line! was called. 2 days later, the tune began to change somewhat:
Sent: 2013.02.20 15:10
To: The Bloody Ronin Syndicate, Hidden Snake,
After a dismal performance against what should have been easy kills we need to sort ourselves out.
I'm not pointing fingers at anyone so this is a general mail to the whole alliance.
GET YOUR PVP SHIPS INTO ENALURI STATION II
GET YOUR PVP SHIPS FITTED
GET A WHOLE LOAD OF DIFFERENT TYPES -- LOOK AT CORP FITTINGS AND SPEND SOME TIME NOT PVP'ING/NOT PLEXING GETTING PREPARED.
IF WE DO A MEDIUM PLEX AGAIN WE TAKE CRUISERS
SMALL AF'S AND DESSIES
I DO NOT WANT TO SEE A REPEAT OF TODAY'S FAILURE TO TAKE THE GALLENTE ON.
I HOLD MYSELF RESPONSIBLE...........TARGET CALLING WAS FINE 2ND TIME AROUND BUT SHOOTING THE RIGHT TARGETS WHEN SNAKE WAS CALLING PRIMARIES WAS JUST BAD.
And they did.
What followed was a week of bloodshed. In a defense lead by Villore Accords <GMVA> and Monkeys with Guns. <BNANA>, and joined by countless other Gal Mil entities, the trench warfare began. Fighting plex to plex, RONIN, with support from several other Cal Mil entities began an all out assault on Nennamaila. Seeing much success during their EU primetime, RONIN was able to push Nennamaila into the 36% range on the 22nd of February. During the USTZ primetime, a long night of boring de-plexing began, 0.7% at a time.
At roughly 2 hours before downtime on the 23rd, GMVA pilot Drakan290 and a bare handful of defenders were getting a last push in before heading to bed when a known Caldari off-grid booster appeared in local. Then came the rain:
We'd kill a couple of them, and they'd manage to crush us with their numbers. So we'd split apart, both sides reshipping, and we'd meet again in a Medium Outpost for another tussle. Bear in mind we were on the losing side of every fight, and most people would have docked up and said ''Fuck it'', but we were pissed off about the situation, and if it's one thing [GMVA Corp] Genstar is, it's dedicated. Refusing to let them have the Complex before downtime, we started reshipping, refusing to let this go unchallenged and for our work to be undone. Frankly, it was rather brutal. I remember looking at the Medium Outpost whilst the squids reshipped and thinking ''My God....there's 20 wrecks here, what the hell are we doing'' We lost almost every fight, but we would take one or two of them with us, it wasn't pretty, glorious, nor terribly efficient, but we weren't letting them have that plex.
The turning point of the siege came on the early afternoon GMT of February 26th when a Gal Mil Defense gang lead by BNANA Fleet Commander Larkness fought three successive running battles against a primarily RONIN fleet and turned them back, each time holding the field only barely. Without logi support of his own, Larkness turned to EWAR support from a Falcon and Blackbird pilot to get enough jams on the 3 enemy logistic ships to give his gang a fighting chance. In over 2 hours of fighting, though Larkness's fleet took heavy losses, the contested percentage of Nennamaila started, and finished, at 10%.
On the morning of the 27th, greg01 sent a final mail to RONIN:
Sent: 2013.02.27 08:57
To: The Bloody Ronin Syndicate,
General Order to be undertaken immediately
RONIN is moving again. The main reason is that we have no US tz support.
Please get it done. I'm not bothered about this next move, so move your ships and mods back to Yvangier.
Regards and Thankyou
Prior to the Gallente Christmas Offensive, Eha was one of several Caldari stronghold systems, most recently home of the corporation Black Rise Guerrilla Forces [BRGF] who put up a very stiff defense of the system, but were overwhelmed by the weight of nearly the entire Gallente Militia. After the offensive, a 3 man Gal Mil corporation, Level Up [LVLUP] moved in as caretakers of the system, with pledged support from Justified Chaos [JUSTK] corporation 2 jumps away. As EV0KE steadily pressed their way eastward across the warzone, it was only going to be a matter of time before they landed on LVLUP's doorstep.
EV0KE sightings in and around Eha began to happen around mid February; initially the offensive was light enough for LVLUP and JUSTK to handle on their own, but a general alarm was sounded on February 20th when the hammer began to drop. Brosefs. <BRAHH> another large Caldari alliance began working the USTZ in step with EV0KE's EUTZ presence. Already tied up with the defense of Nennamaila, GMVA and BNANA lent what little support they could spare, and others including Rise of Legion <ROFL> and C.L.O.N.E. <CL0NE> alliances chipped in where they could, even while CL0NE's home system was under assault as well.
Realizing early on that EV0KE wasn't eager to take fights that may not prove efficient for a kill board, Gal Mil defenders adopted a strategy of cheap fit ships that would die in heavier numbers, but would be counterbalanced with more expensive, if fewer actual kills. The strategy appears to be working for the time being.
At the time of this writing, the offensive against Eha is still ongoing, though it has slowed somewhat. After being pushed to a 42% killboard efficiency, BRAHH has left the Caldari Militia as of downtime on February 27th. EV0KE, having bled 300+ members since joining Cal Mil in early January, lost another 81 member corporation on the 24th of February, bringing their total membership down to barely more than 1/4th what it was in their Sov holding days. Reports also indicate that EV0KE has begun setting up infrastructure in Notoras, next door to Samurai Pizza Cats <SPCA.> alliance home system of Nisuwa, which could indicate an impending shift in pressure away from Eha.
Esesier is a dead-end system in the far west of the warzone, and home to CL0NE. Almost in concert with the other two Caldari offensives, this system was in the cross hairs of FONDL immediately after the fall of its gateway system, Anchauttes. A mail intercepted from greg01 of RONIN during the siege of Nennamaila indicates some amount of cooperation between the 2 alliances:
Sent: 2013.02.19 16:33
To: The Bloody Ronin Syndicate, Poison Ivvy,
Happy Endings is now +5 Blue to RONIN.
Please treat them with respect and courtesy. I hope to roam/fleet up with them in the future.
Can we pay some attention to plexing Esesier alos. It would assist our caldari brothers and sisters in their fight. PLus the Galls are arrogant fuckers in this system. They need to go..............
Over the course of the Esesier offensive, FONDL managed to reinforce several POCOs, and reportedly offered to ransom the system for 15 Billion ISK. When they didn't have the allies and numbers to engage FONDL directly, CL0NE ran a campaign of guerrilla warfare, using cloaked ships as sniper warp ins for hit and run harassment during POCO bashes, and calling in what help they could from JUSTK, ROFL, and others.
After nearly 2 weeks of no noticeable progress, a final battle occurred on the 21st of February as a FONDL fleet cross jumped the defending CL0NE gang into Esesier. CL0NE was then joined by a combined fleet of ROFL and Sicarius Draconis <DRACO> ships, and a massacre followed as FONDL found themselves outnumbered nearly 2-1. Esesier has quieted down dramatically in the aftermath.
The Pendulum Swings
As the war continues to rage across the the zone, it would appear, at least for the moment, that the Caldari war machine has begun a slowdown. The Gallente have yet to show signs of any real interest in plexing outside of their core systems, and the Caldari farmers are beginning to run out of offensive systems to plex. Either a stalemate is coming, or perhaps the pendulum is about to swing again.
Small fights and larger battles are still prone to happen at any time, and animosity is still very high between the 2 factions, but there is no glory to be found in Black Rise at the moment - just a bunch of pilots, some fighting to keep their homes, some fighting to take them. Abannan of JUSTK and Drakan290 of GMVA may have said it best during my interviews preparing for this piece:
"It's only facwar" some people may say, and yes it is, but these systems are as important to us as sov nullsec fortresses held by nullsec alliances. It's not about winning, or efficiency on a killboard at this point, it's about holding the line, keeping what's ours, and defending our homes.” -Abannan
“We're not ''Heroes of the Federation'' because we don't pander to everyone, we do what we do because we believe in it. Whether we should have docked up and logged doesn't matter to us, what matters is that we kept that system at 12% for and hour and a half, refusing to let the enemy gain a larger foothold. With our last breath we will spit blood into our enemies eyes, because Fuck. Them.” -Drakan290