The story behind the desolation of J153001
On the 15th of April, the guns fell silent. After a hellish week that saw bloodshed and destruction, it was all over. The inhabitants of the J153001 system, also known as Aphelion, could only watch helpless as the triumphant conquerors sifted through the wreckage of their citadels and engineering complexes, taking what they could and destroying what they could not. The work of several years was now hauled by the barbarians, to be either sold or used in their future endeavors. As for the conquerors themselves, they had little interest in the system. Having plundered and looted the most valuable possessions of the inhabitants, they prepared to depart back to their home system of Thera, their convoys of deep space transports hauling the riches of Aphelion. Aphelion had fallen.
A Dream of Fire and Coal
Aphelion was quite the crowning achievement for Wormlife [WORM], an alliance living exclusively in low class wormholes. It was an industrialist’s dream come true; a safe haven where mining operations and ship production could be done in relative safety and around the clock. The system was chosen for its natural defensiveness, being a class 1 wormhole system with a null security space static. For those who don’t understand wormhole mechanics, wormhole system classification denotes many features, chief among them is the mass and size of ships able to enter it through wormhole connections. The lower the class, the stricter the limitations. A class 1 wormhole system can’t fit in a ship bigger than a battlecruiser, and even then only a handful at best.
As for a null security space static connection, it means the usual wormhole that spawns in the system and connects it to other systems. Though sporadic wormholes may spawn that link to other regions of space, the null security space static is guaranteed to spawn every day. For Wormlife, a null security space static connection guaranteed its safety from eviction by other wormhole corporations and alliances who, as residents of wormhole space themselves, would have logistical issues mounting a direct attack on Aphelion.
With such advantages, Aphelion seemed like a perfect choice and Wormlife set about building up the infrastructure. Due to the mass limitations, everything had to be built from the ground up. Setting up temporary shelters in the form of Astrahus citadels, the alliance went and anchored Raitaru engineering complex to construct the more advanced citadels needed for its plans which could not fit through the wormhole connection. Mining barges and command centers were brought in to mine the necessary minerals and produce components for the Fortizar citadels and Azbel engineering complexes. These were vital as the latter would be used to produce the Rorqual capital industrial ship fleet that would churn a never ending supply of minerals for the furnaces of industry, while the former will allow said ships to dock.
As time went by more structures were erected. A second Fortizar to serve as a backup structure, more engineering complexes for production and research as well as dozens of refineries which were placed on the many moons in the system. These were set up to crack the moons and haul pieces from their surface into orbit, thus creating asteroid belts around the clock for the Rorqual fleet to devour. Aphelion became a buzzing hub of industry as its residents went about their days mining, refining and manufacturing all sorts of goods. It was only a matter of time before their endeavors attracted the attention of other, more dangerous entities.
A Rorqual industrial capital ship, nearly 20 of the vessels were produced and used in Aphelion
The Menace of Thera Stirs
One such entity was Dopamine. [100MG], a member corporation of WE FORM V0LTA [GLHF]. The corporation noticed the industrial buzz of Aphelion and inserted a spy into Wormlife to gain access to the system. For the better part of a year, the spy lay dormant in the alliance, keeping tabs on activity in Aphelion. The spy worked to gather as much information as possible, documenting the many structures in the system, their reinforcement timers and where most assets were located. Even things such as what time zones were the most active were noted
The first sign of trouble for Wormlife came in February. Dopamine fleets infiltrated the wormhole and attacked and subsequently destroyed two Rorquals mining on the night of the 23rd. This attack will be repeated a month later, when Dopamine forces once again struck on the afternoon of the 31st of March, netting three Rorquals this time. Wormlife had no illusions now, Dopamine was not only aware of Aphelion’s existence, but was actively targeting it.
This led the executor to believe Dopamine had managed to insert a spy in their ranks, a suspicion that was confirmed later when Dopamine approached Wormlife with a simple offer: Pay 25 billion ISK and it would go elsewhere.Wormlife’s executor turned down the offer. For starters, Aphelion was not a money making system, but rather a financial black hole maintained for the benefit of the alliance’s members. Secondly, knowing that extortionists are never happy to settle for just a one time payment, they’d rather risk an eviction attempt than cave in and start paying tribute. Perhaps they were counting on Aphelion’s natural defenses to deter an invasion.
Dopamine had their answer, and thus their response; If they were not going to get the money peacefully, then they’ll take it by force. However Aphelion presented quite a logistical problem. How would you assault what seems like an impregnable fortress, where the defenders have quite the home turf advantage. The answer the alliance came up with was simple: Build a Trebuchet.
Besieging a Castle
Trebuchet was a siege weapon from the medieval ages. With castle and fort construction technology improving, allowing for more formidable fortifications, siege engineers scrambled to answer the challenge they presented. The Trebuchet was one of those answers. This massive wooden construct could lob boulders at enemy towers from a safe distance, bringing them down and allowing the attackers to breach the defenders’ walls. However due to the size of the weapon, it could not be moved on its own, and had to be disassembled for transport and reassembled on the battlefield. The same principle would be applied by Dopamine.
On the eve of the 7th of April, a small Drekavac battlecruiser fleet set about escorting 20 deep space transports. In their holds were two towers, an Astrahus citadel and the hulls and modules needed to equip a small Leshak battleship fleet. The force infiltrated Aphelion and set about anchoring the structures, activating them then deploying ship maintenance arrays to assemble and house the battleships. Once the ships were in place, Dopamine pilots streamed into the system, boarded the vessels and set about torching the system.
Leshak battleships. A whole squadron of them was used to siege Aphelion
Wormlife pilots woke up to find their infrastructure under attack. To their credit they attempted to fight off the attackers, but while on paper their numbers seem impressive, in reality many pilots were alternative characters, industrialists or simply people unsubscribed from the game. Other wormhole organizations were called to aid in the defense of the system but were unable to overcome Dopamine’s numerical superiority. Following the eviction handbook, the corporation having set up its base, had taken control of all wormhole connections making reinforcements an impossibility for Wormlife.
Raze It to the Ground
Dopamine reinforced structure after structure. While it created a slew of timers, its targets were focused from the start. The main target had been the Fortizar in which Wormlife had stored its capitals. It fell on the 9th. Thanks to wormhole system mechanics, ships and stored assets were ejected from the wreck, allowing Dopamine to pilfer it. Among the many assets seized were a squadron of capital ships; dreadnoughts, force auxiliaries and combat carriers. These ships would be used by Dopamine to bolster its own forces and expedite matters. Armed with the capital ships, Dopamine marched onwards, destroying several engineering complexes and a Tatara refinery. Each structure would spill its contents for Dopamine to pick up.
The captured Wormlife capital fleet, piloted by Dopamine pilots
By the 15th most of the central structures had been destroyed by Dopamine, their contents picked clean. What couldn’t be used or transported was scuttled. Capital ships, having served their purpose, were stripped of their fittings then had their self destruct sequences activated. Sub capital ships were also destroyed, many of them by Dopamine guns. Wrecks were looted and salvaged and convoys of deep space transports were sent back to Thera, laden with the spoils of war. All Wormlife pilots could do was watch in horror as the work of years went up in flames.
Dopamine had no intention of completely evicting Wormlife. For starters, the slew of scattered timers would require a lot of work that may not yield much in term of loot, as the primary asset structures had already been hit and destroyed. Secondly, it was never meant to be a full eviction. All Dopamine wanted was to smash and grab as much as it could at the shortest amount of time possible. Having achieved that goal, remaining to destroy a few structures seemed meaningless.
Some of the assets seized in the operation by Dopamine forces
With the violence dying out, Dopamine had managed to capture 13 capitals, 18 Rorquals as well as hundreds of billions in personal assets. According to the corporation, the final tally of their haul stands at 346 billion ISK, including the insurance payments for destroying all the capital ships. For Wormlife, Aphelion’s demise seems unrecoverable. Though some of its infrastructure will weather the devastation, for many pilots the feeling of safety had been completely shattered. Rebuilding everything will take months, and who is to say that Dopamine or another group won’t storm the wormhole system once again and torch it once more to the ground.
If anything, the tragedy of Aphelion will join that of Rage, showing once more that the glorious isolation many wormhole groups had used to shield themselves from the rest of the cluster was but an illusion. For the pilots of Wormlife, it turned a dream into ash, and that perhaps, is the biggest tragedy of it all.