(Author's note: I'm going to warn the reader now, this article is going to be biased. But why, Grath? Well, because my side is currently winning, and that's just how Caesar said it should work a long time ago. Win, and you get to do a victory dance.)
Assuming you haven't been following my somewhat sporadic ramblings about this, here's the recap. During the AAA war that burned for half of last year, SOLAR decided on a few occasions to lend a little support. At the close of that war, Pandemic Legion (PL) decided to move east to Uemon and give the Drone Region Coalition (DRC) a little payback. Never let it be said that Shadoo doesn't keep his word. At the same time, N3 had just wrapped up the occupation of its staked-out space in the south and turned its gaze east, towards the southern drone expanses.
N3 began a slow burn of the southern half of the Drone Regions, aided by Red Alliance (RA), if you can call what RA does "aid". In the north, PL began harassing coalition members like SCdot and Black Core Alliance (BCA). Intrepid Crossing (IRC) had been rendered inert by an accidental set of moves from RAZOR, so the coalition wasn't really at full strength, despite the relative peace they had been enduring.
Over the weeks, PL would milk what fights they could from the smaller alliances, many of which were decidedly one way because the young, new groups had no answer to the triage carriers PL has become known for. This meant the southern fights often were just SOLAR. Some they would win and some they would lose to the combined weight stacked against them. Make no mistake, dear reader, SOLAR is a very good opponent. Their relative participation levels and FC skills should never be overlooked, and if you should find a very large herd of Russians knocking at your door, bearing their flag, you should probably know you're going to want help. Fast.
I say that because it's all but over for SOLAR now. The first battle of U930 gave SOLAR's lesser allies false hope. The chest beating about the terrible things they were going to do (seriously, some of you have issues. Seek help.) to the forces who had dared to attack SOLAR's empire was on a scale rarely seen in EVE. It spawned this mail:
The next 21 hours BCA is under Marshall Law.
All fleets will be Mandatory during Marshall Law.
If a fleet is called and your online you will be in that fleet or logged off.
Anyone caught ignoring the fleet will be jepordizing [sic] their corporations membership in BCA. (I dare you to test me on this one)
THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO HAS BEEN ATTENDING FLEETS!
Executive Officer of Black Core Alliance
Then, on the day of the second battle for U930:
General Order 1 is now in effect. Until further notice, all of DRC is under martial law. All fleets called are required. More orders to follow. Place ships per required fits in our staging locations.
I don't know about you, but the name "General Order One" alone makes me scared to be logged in.
The outcome of all of this now has become plainly obvious. They were routed completely. Intelligence had failed them and not caught the supers that crept in like a thief in the night. The fight was decided before it ever began. A new strategy was tabled after their resounding defeat: BCA would now field the tried and true "Blue Ball PL" campaign, as SOLAR was in slight disarray. Nobody had expected to lose.
None of it would matter. N3 sealed the coffin shut with their move to LEM. The Fortress that was the Drone Regions had now become a tomb; they would sit and starve like a castle under siege. People sometimes complain about the blue masses of coalitions, but I believe the DRC war here illustrates why these happen more out of need and less out of cowardice. EVE's "living in space" dynamic is currently way out of whack. There isn't any way the space can really support the industrial needs of a group living in it. The belts and mining anomalies can't possibly supply the minerals needed for an extended siege, much less the ammo or build slots to keep up with it all.
Black Core Alliance now felt this acutely. There was no way out. Every single system that might grant their jump freighters a breath was gone. In its place was a cold, terrifying darkness, with a boogeyman behind every shadow. Cynos and interdictors waited for the doomed craft. Nothing moved without PL or N3's say so.
February 26th was the proverbial straw. If you've ever seen the PL supercapital fleet, you'll know what I'm talking about. If you haven't, imagine the most ridiculous spectacle of power ever displayed in EVE. Massive and overwhelming are words that completely fail to capture the scope of what's in front of you. Several hundred supercarriers, and well over a hundred titans, means that we don't even bother reporting normal cap numbers. You can see them in pictures, though. They're what look like the small schools of fish around the huge beasts that are the titans.
BCA hadn't seen it until that day. They'd only had small flashes of it here and there. At around 23:00, February 26, we put it in their living room. SBUs had been anchoring all evening across much of Malpais. N-YL, the latest of BCA's slightly mobile capitals, would be where the Shock and Awe would begin. Within a few hours, seventeen systems were reinforced around the area by PL alone. NCdot and the forces of N3 were pressuring separate areas. The effects were both devastating and immediate:
With all of the issues, and with the political concerns, The HC has determined that to be fair and honest, BCA alliance will be turned back over to Numenor and he will be making a deal to become a renter.
With that said, here is the order of operations that want to remain with Sullen Arise as Alliance CEO. I have spoke to most CEOs and here is the path.
1. Xfer sov and station to Dark Star Enterprise This is my holding group until Sov can be addressed.
2. Get your shit out to the Forge low sec ASAP. Remember still a war dec.
3. Drop from Black Core Alliance if you wish to go with us.
4. Apply to new alliance S E D I T I O N Sullen has control of this allaince [sic] and we shall reform under this group.
We want to keep the family together, so please do as you feel is correct and right. Lets keep it civil, and cause no grief.
They couldn't get mails out fast enough. PL directorate and FC mail boxes lit up with requests for negotiations. The High Council of BCA was now public enemy number one around the alliance and an "every man for himself" attitude swept through like wildfire. It would be Chareck of NCdot who negotiated the final deal:
<Chareck> it we myself who arrange the BCA deal which ment we got control of both their pet alliances too
<Chareck> they basicly got double teamed by me and shadoo once i check if you guys were up for it
<Chareck> make sure you mention tho neither of us paying them isk to hand this shit over
Other alliances in the coalition swiftly followed suit. It would seem that SOLAR would stand alone.
SOLAR Stands Alone? Not Quite
At the writing of this, one ally has decided that they will stand with SOLAR: Flame Bridge. If you're thinking "Who?", don't feel bad. Before yesterday, I hadn't heard about them either. I know them now though. They too came to seek terms at first, although their demands were much more forceful in the talks than everybody else's: they wouldn't join any renter alliance, they would keep their own flag, and things like that. Then, curiously, SOLAR issued an order that Flame Bridge jam all their space. And suddenly the most amazing thing happened, they did.
In modern EVE, it is nothing short of phenomenal that an ally would stand shoulder to shoulder and fight to the end. Far too often, friends give up, or even worse become the enemy. If for no other reason than because it's easier. Flame Bridge would not go that route. In what can be described as a ninja move, SOLAR was able yesterday morning to completely reset U930 to its original state. All progress on the system was lost and it's back under SOLAR's total control. The old girl still has some fight in her.
I'm not foolish enough to believe it will amount to much. SOLAR is now 200 men short in fleet fights due to the implosion of so many of its allies in such a short span, and saying logistics are a nightmare doesn't even begin to cover it for the besieged empire. The only aid that's shown up has been FA and RAZOR, which largely has amounted to bickering amongst their member corps about whore guns on logistics ships. Short of that, it's getting camped in, getting cut off, or bringing a T1 cruiser fleet, as in the first U930 fight. In other words, useless. For now, though, maybe the friendship and the rare good spirit of an ally (Flame Bridge), and a few small victories will hold the SOLAR forces spirits through what is amounting to a very long night. More likely, in the coming weeks, the Drone Lands will be out of Russian control for the first time in four years.