WinterCo instigated the battle as it attempted to bait Test Alliance Please Ignore super capitals. A plan was hatched to force Test Alliance Please Ignore to deploy super capitals by tackling and attacking Rorqual industrial capital ships. For the plan, WinterCo secretly built a dreadnought cache in range of the system, seeding force auxiliaries as well. WinterCo assembled a 180 pilot Zealot heavy assault cruiser fleet and moved within range of the system using roundabout routes so as not to be spotted by Test Alliance Please Ignore scouts.
Once the fleet was in position, seeded interdictors in the system logged in and warped to mining sites in search for miners, the system itself known for its heavy mining activity. They managed to tackle six of Rorquals in one anomaly. With the ships tackled, WinterCo had a cynosural beacon lit in the site and bridged through its fleet, bringing in a few dreadnoughts in the process to entice Test Alliance Please Ignore to bring supercarriers and titans. The Zealot fleet began shooting the pinned capital industrial ships, forcing them one after the other to enter their invulnerability mode.
Test Alliance Please Ignore wasn’t blind to the plight of the Rorquals and quickly organized a Hurricane battlecruiser fleet in response. The force, estimated at 180 pilots, bridged to the neighboring VR-YRV system on the IPX-H5 gate. Once it had materialized on the gate, the fleet jumped through and warped to a perch above the field where the Zealot fleet was busy dispatching the Rorquals whose pulse activated nexus invulnerability cores had burned out leaving them vulnerable again.
The Zealot fleet as stated above had been waiting patiently for Test Alliance Please Ignore’s response. In the meantime, it kept working on the Rorquals as they exited their invulnerability mode. One after the other Rorquals were cut down by the Zealot fleet, three of them succumbing to the Zealots’ firepower. Before WinterCo could destroy more, Test Alliance Please Ignore hurried and brought a couple of Minokawa force auxiliaries to the field. The force auxiliaries entered their triage mode and were able to apply remote shield transfers to the stricken ships, thus saving them from destruction. Instead, the Zealot fleet targeted one of the Minokawas, trying in vain to chip at its shields. Powerful shield boosters negated the fleet’s damage, giving enough time for the Hurricane fleet to arrive.
The Hurricanes didn’t linger long at their perch and warped down, landing near the Zealot fleet and opened fire on the heavy assault cruisers. A bloody exchange began as artillery cannons and beam laser batteries traded fire.
The first volleys of the Hurricane fleet proved costly to the heavy assault cruisers, with several ships destroyed in rapid succession. According to WinterCo, the losses were aggravated due to communication troubles, forcing the fleet to use backup voice servers as their own continued to crash. Regardless the Zealot fleet fought back, firing on the battlecruisers and bringing down two to three ships for each mainline ship it lost. A Ninazu force auxiliary was also brought to the field in order to aid the Zealot fleet in stabilizing. At the same time, a fourth Rorqual was brought down, ostensibly by the few WinterCo dreadnoughts present on the field.
The battle continued unabated, both sides trading losses without pause. Slowly but surely, WinterCo was gaining the upper hand. Test Alliance Please Ignore’s losses kept mounting, with the loss ratio only increasing as the fight went on. These losses were partly due to WinterCo’s stealth bomber squads which entered the field, swooping down on the battlecruisers and releasing their payloads into the Hurricane formation. The bomb damage, though not as costly in lives, put more pressure on the already struggling logistics wing and contributed to the general confusion. Add to it the dwindling firepower due to losses, and it was no wonder the trade-off gap was widening.
Taking advantage of the chaos of the battlefield, one of the tackled Rorquals managed to slip away. At this point, there was only one another Rorqual, three force auxiliaries, and a couple of combat carriers which warped in to aid the stricken ships pinned on the grid by WinterCo forces. With the Test Alliance Please Ignore fleet targeting interdictors, WinterCo’s grasp on the capitals was loosening fast.
With losses mounting, Test Alliance Please Ignore’s Hurricane fleet decided to withdraw, warping off the grid. The fleet, however, wasn’t ready to concede defeat just yet, instead of waiting for reinforcements to arrive in the system and replenish its ranks. In the meantime, WinterCo occupied itself with bashing the remaining Test Alliance Please Ignore capitals, in particular destroying the fighter squadrons which were hounding the Zealot fleet’s remaining interdictors.
Having replaced some of its losses, the Hurricane fleet warped back to the grid, this time landing near the only remaining tackled Rorqual and a 100 kilometers away from the Zealot fleet. The Zealots reacted immediately, switching to long range ammo while trying to close the distance but the Hurricane fleet worked to maintain the range. The Hurricanes also targeted some of the remaining WinterCo interdictors, dispatching them. With the loss of the interdictors, the warp disruption probe cover broke which allowed the last Rorqual to jump out, joined by one of the Minokawas.
While the Test Alliance Please Ignore secured the freedom of the last Rorqual, it continued to lose mainline ships to the Zealots’ guns. The Hurricane fleet returned fire, managing to inflict some losses but losing far more mainline vessels in the process. After a few more grueling exchanges, the fleet warped out again leaving the Zealot fleet with only the two remaining Minokawas and a couple of combat carriers still tackled.
Before they could dispatch them, the Hurricane fleet warped back again to the same spot as before, merely 70 kilometers now from the Zealot fleet. The two fleets resumed fighting, the Zealots once again burning into the mass of battlecruisers. For the third time, the two fleets exchanged fire.
WinterCo seeing that Test Alliance Please Ignore wasn’t going to escalate further decided to simply wrap things up. A cynosural beacon was lit next to the Minokawas and a squad of dreadnoughts was let through to finish off the defiant ships. Test Alliance Please Ignore seeing this, and realizing it would be unable to save the rest of the tackled ships, as well as having suffered grave losses, chose to finally retreat. The Hurricane fleet warped off the grid for the last time, prompting the Zealot fleet to try and tackle as much as it could.
With the Hurricane fleet gone and the rest of the Test Alliance Please Ignore capitals destroyed save one combat carrier which managed to slip away, the Zealot fleet cleared the grid of all remaining hostiles before extracting its dreadnoughts. Once the capital ships were safe, the heavy assault cruisers withdrew as well, bringing an end to the fighting.
Battle report for the IPX-H5 system can be found here.
All told the battle lasted 57 minutes with Time Dilation not reported as a factor in the fighting and the system hosting an estimated 400 pilots at the peak of the fighting.
Test Alliance Please Ignore lost 209 ships in battle, including 4 capital industrial ships, 2 force auxiliaries, 1 combat carrier and 149 battlecruisers for a total of 60.85 billion ISK damage.
WinterCo lost 58 ships in battle, including 17 heavy assault cruisers for a total of 14.04 billion ISK damage.
Featured image credit: Razorien
Secondary image credit: Razorien