The battle was instigated by Shadow Cartel forces. The alliance had been reinforcing structures in the region to generate fights. One of those structures, an Azbel engineering complex, belonged to United Federation of Conifers [.UFC.]. The alliance had only recently bought the structure and been unable to reset its invulnerability timer. This led to the structure exiting reinforced mode in an inconvenient time for the alliance.
Undeterred, United Federation of Conifers and its allies assembled a 20-pilot battleship fleet, mostly Bhaalgorns with a Lif force auxiliary serving as logistics. Six dreadnoughts were equipped with high-angle weapons to deal with hostile sub-capitals. This force waited in range of the system for the hostiles to make their move.
Shadow Cartel for its part assembled a 30-pilot Machariel battleship fleet as well as a mixed capital squadron with a Nyx super carrier waiting in reserve. The force traveled down the system, warping to the Azbel and opening fire on the structure the moment it became vulnerable.
Shadow Cartel’s was not the only fleet in the system. A 20-pilot Naga battlecruiser fleet had arrived a few minutes earlier to snipe at the structure from long range. The fleet belonged to Banderstadt. [CUT.] and SONS of BANE [.S0B.] alliances. These two Syndicate-based alliances had formerly been allied with United Federation of Conifers, with recent events causing the two sides to break off all diplomatic ties. On the day of battle, relations had already soured to the point of open conflict.
This led Banderstadt. and SONS of BANE to contact Shadow Cartel and agree on a temporary truce, allowing both fleets to solely focus on the Azbel. As the two fleets slowly chipped away at the hull hit points of the structure, United Federation of Conifers lit a cynosural beacon near the Shadow Cartel fleet and brought its own fleet through.
The battleships and dreadnoughts jumped into system, materializing near the Machariels. The two sides clashed immediately, the Naga fleet also switching targets to the new arrivals. The high-angle weapon dreadnoughts entered siege mode and locked the Machariels. With the combined firepower of the Bhaalgorns and dreadnoughts, the Machariels were overwhelmed, three of them going down in the opening volleys.
Shadow Cartel, however, quickly lit its own cynosural beacon and brought forth its capital squadron. Dreadnoughts, a couple of Apostle force auxiliaries and the Nyx landed on the field, adding their considerable firepower to the mix. With the capital ships on the field, the tide of the battle rapidly shifted. The high-angle dreadnoughts were no match for the anti-capital dreadnoughts and were quickly dispatched by their weapon batteries. The Nyx itself added its fearsome fighter bombers, which chewed through the hostile capitals with ease.
The force auxiliaries, in the meantime, helped stabilize the Machariel fleet. With the hostile dreadnoughts focusing on their Shadow Cartel counterparts, these Machariels were relieved of much of the pressure. The two sub-capital fleets concentrated on removing as many of the opposing capitals as possible. The Naga fleet, in the meantime, used the opportunity to snipe at the United Federation of Conifers battleships, bringing down a few of them with coordinated volleys as the fleet continued to circle the battlefield at a safe distance.
Shadow Cartel managed to dispatch all hostile dreadnoughts and the Lif, depriving United Federation of Conifers of their logistics support. Without it, the battleships were unable to tank the incoming damage and in rapid succession half a dozen of them succumbed to the onslaught. The remaining ships were able, with the help of the Azbel’s guns, to destroy one of the Shadow Cartel force auxiliaries. Having lost most of their fleet, however, they were forced to retreat and leave Shadow Cartel as well as the Naga fleet in control of the field.
Shadow Cartel used the opportunity to start extracting its capital ships, jumping them out one after the other as the surviving dreadnoughts exited their siege cycles and injected enough energy to execute the jump. Before all capital ships could withdraw, however, United Federation of Conifers came back to the field.
UFC and its allies had reshipped, bringing in four more dreadnoughts and a combat carrier. These ships appeared near the Shadow Cartel forces and resumed the battle. At that point, Shadow Cartel had only two force auxiliaries and two dreadnoughts left on grid to back up their sub-capital fleet. Without any other viable alternative, Shadow Cartel recalled the surviving dreadnoughts and recommitted to the fight, the two sides exchanging blows again in a point-blank capital brawl.
Even with the support of the Azbel, United Federation of Conifers capitals were no match for the combined force of Shadow Cartel and the Naga fleet. The entire force was annihilated, though able to take down a couple more of Shadow Cartel dreadnoughts with it.
If Shadow Cartel thought it finally got a reprieve, it was sadly mistaken. The fight had drawn the attention of Snuffed Out [B B C]. The alliance had kept tabs on active conflicts and spotted the conflagration in Syndicate. With a Nyx appearing on loss mails, the alliance quickly formed a 70-pilot strategic cruiser fleet and hurried to the region, contacting the locals to acquire more information. Snuffed Out managed to get in touch with United Federation of Conifers pilots who explained the situation while the Snuffed Out strategic cruiser fleet burned to the destination.
As Shadow Cartel forces were recovering from the latest bout of fighting, a cynosural beacon lit up 400 kilometers away from the engineering complex, heralding the arrival of Snuffed Out forces. These forces now attempted to warp on top of the still present Nyx, hoping to catch it. The pilot had however been aligned to a celestial and entered warp immediately. The Snuffed Out fleet did not pause and attempted to give chase, warping from celestial to celestial in hopes of catching it. Shadow Cartel had, in the meantime, lit an emergency cynosural beacon which allowed the Nyx and the other remaining capital ships to escape.
With the Nyx jumping out, Snuffed Out forces warped back to the Azbel, hoping to catch any of the Shadow Cartel capitals or battleships. The alliance had however retreated already, leaving only the Naga fleet present. Snuffed Out quickly probed out the battlecruisers and warped on top of them, catching only a few. The rest of the fleet was able to slip away and withdraw as well. Dispatching the few battlecruisers it managed to snatch, the Snuffed Out forces, too, chose to retreat rather than linger on the field.
United Federation of Conifers used the opportunity to bring in a new batch of capital ships to the field, including several combat carriers and a Ninazu force auxiliary. These capitals landed on the Azbel and aided Snuffed Out in pushing out the Naga fleet. With no more hostiles shooting the structure, the Azbel managed to repair itself, winning the objective for United Federation of Conifers.
Shadow Cartel was not however done yet. With Snuffed Out forces gone, the alliance returned to the field. Spotting an untethered combat carrier, the battleships pounced on the ship, their autocannons tearing it apart quickly. United Federation of Conifers attempted to aid the tackled combat carrier by bringing in the Ninazu. Unfortunately, by the time the FAX had landed, the combat carrier had already been dispatched and the Ninazu quickly became the battleships’ next target. Unlike the combat carrier, the force auxiliary proved a much tougher opponent. The battleships poured an inordinate amount of autocannon rounds against its armor, but to no avail. The ship simply tanked all incoming damage, its capital armor repairers compensating the damage faster than the battleships could apply it.
The Naga fleet also returned to the field to try and aid Shadow Cartel in cracking the force auxiliary, also adding stealth bombers with their high yield torpedoes. Yet with all that damage on the field, the Ninazu continued to stand strong. Minutes went by with the ship unyielding. At the same time, Shadow Cartel and the Naga fleet were unwilling to back down and let the ship live.
Shadow Cartel hoped that the ship would run out of capacitor boosters at some point, thus leaving its energy depleted and causing its armor repairers to turn off. Just when it seemed that this would be the case, United Federation of Conifers managed to bridge a hauler onto the grid which was filled with capacitor boosters and restocked the ship’s hold with the needed charges. Finally, Shadow Cartel had no choice but to bring back the Nyx to finish the job. After an agonizing half-hour, the Ninazu caved in, the Nyx’ fighter bombers overwhelming it with their firepower.
With the Ninazu destroyed, the battle finally came to a close. Shadow Cartel and the Naga fleet both departed from the system, having won the engagement and lost the objective. United Federation of Conifers was left to sift through the wreckage.
Battle report for the 2Q-I6Q system can be found here.
All told, the battle lasted 78 minutes with Time Dilation not reported and the system hosting an estimated 150 pilots at the height of the battle.
United Federation of Conifers and allies lost a combined 44 ships including 13 dreadnoughts, 2 force auxiliaries, 2 combat carriers and 11 battleships for a sum total of 53.49 billion ISK damage.
Shadow Cartel, Banderstadt. and SONS of BANE lost a combined 26 ships including 4 dreadnoughts, 1 force auxiliary, 3 battleships and 3 battlecruisers for a total of 20.73 billion ISK damage.
Snuffed Out forces suffered no losses in the fighting.
Featured and secondary image credit: razorien