Having earned its reputation as one of the most versatile of eve online ships, the Republic Frigate thudded out of lightspeed and slid to an easy, friction-less halt about ten kilometers’ distance from a tiny, distant shimmering directly overhead. Sensors immediately revealed that the ship directly overhead was an imperiled ally, being swarmed by a fleet of tiny attack drones. They were firing at it from all directions, whipping in tiny, extremely close orbits. It was a daring tactic; by flying too close to the ship for its guns to track it, they were perfectly safe from them, and yet extremely close and capable of striking, seemingly without any available counter. If they had simply been programmed to keep their distance, the Rifter’s 200mm autocannons would easily have destroyed them one by one.
The Republic Patrol ship, helplessly engulfed in this ferocious melee, was clearly being observed by another nearby ship. A Tristan-class frigate, famous for its upgraded drone capabilities, hung silently in the distance. It wasn’t moving, but it didn’t need to move in order to continue its remote drone assault on the other Rifter.
Without hesitation, and sensing that his own Republic Frigate hadn’t yet been detected, Capt. Abel Kimathi gave the order to close at the maximum speed that the ship was capable of reaching; it was an unsustainable maneuver that could cause permanent damage to the propulsion system of the ship if not done with precision and care.
As I discovered on this journey behind enemy lines, Cpt. Abel Kimathi, commander of this newly arrived Republic Frigate, wasn’t known for his care, or his precision, pertaining to battle tactics, dinner etiquette, or any endeavor between.
What Abel was known for was his fearless devotion to the destruction of the enemy, but among the crew, Kimathi was famous for the thick, branded scar he concealed at the moment, on the right forearm, under his pressed MLF fatigues. To gain access to the Matari Liberation Front Hall Of Captains, certain rituals must be obeyed, after which the benefits are tediously and painstakingly revealed. The benefits of this scarring were said to include the ability to endure trials beyond those known by mortals. Although this resulted in an excellent dynamic for wartime psychology for officers, the morale of the crew depended on the commander’s acknowledgement of their mortality at times. Capt. Kimathi’s crew was well vetted, well prepared, and well paid because of this dynamic.
In the vastness of space, there usually aren’t very many objects nearby. Because of this, the only way to get an accurate read on relative velocity is often with sensors in most environments. Eventually, In just a few strained seconds, those sensors had warnings blaring across their screens; temperature readings from the propulsion bay revealed that the engines had reached a non-sustainable condition in exchange for the speed achieved.
The straining of the engine of the Republic Frigate on this perilous approach could be heard by all aboard as the usual growl of the thrusters grew in tone and intensity, to a ringing howl, eventually so loud it could be felt in the vibrations and rattling of every inch of the Rifter as the entire crew braced for impact.
As a direct result of the efforts of the Republic Frigate’s arguably overworked propulsion crew, the Tristan was nearby already, in relative terms. In Eve Online, 28 kilometers is extremely close, considering velocities greater than 3 kilometers per second.
A collision alarm rang once and was immediately silenced. An instant later, the enemy Tristan’s imperceptibly tiny silhouette grew to its monstrous 50 meters, close enough for only the most observant, or distracted of the crew of the Republic Frigate, along with myself, to, in a moment of infinite violence, see inside the Tristan’s windows. But in the instant following and in a blindingly close yellow flash, the spherical shield of the Republic Frigate came online.
I was informed in the After Action Report that although the two ships never physically touched each other at the moment of shield impact, the Tristan was hurled off into space, tumbling in a tumbling spin, tangential from it’s peaceful, silent perch.
Before its thrusters could activate to recover from the ramming, Capt. Kimathi’s crew unleashed volleys from the 200mm autocannons and dove toward the tumbling Tristan. The race to a tight orbit around the enemy was on.
By the time the third volley landed on it, it had become clear that the shields of the Tristan were unusually formidable; finally, landing of the fourth volley signaled the previously engaged light drones switching targets from the friendly allied Rifter to Capt. Kimathi’s Frigate.
In the passing of an instant the drones had closed the distance, the plumes from their thrusters now all around, curled into blurs of orbits just beyond the barrier of the Republic Frigate’s flashing shields. Facing the option of either engaging each drone individually or striking the head of the serpent, the drones, despite their devastating first volleys, were ignored. Regardless of their damage, in Eve Online, drones deployed in a solo pvp factional warfare 1 on 1 will only attack at the command of their drone bay transmitter, which was installed on the Tristan, in is case.
The objective, then, remained: to kill the Tristan. With the addition of incoming damage from the drones, Hobgoblin II’s, the certainty of accomplishing this objective became more nebulous with each passing second. Volleys from the Republic Frigate’s 200mm Autocannon I’s alternated with synchronized strikes from the tangle of drones deployed by the Tristan, until finally, the capacitor of the Republic Frigate began to shudder under the combined load of the Small Ancillary Shield Booster, the 5 MegaNewton Microwarpdrive, the Republic Frigate’s webifier and scrambler modules.
In Eve Online, the capacitor is the heart of the ship, responsible for diverting power to the various systems relied upon by the crew for survival and victory. It’s failure occurs in predictable waves, as the various systems cascade into shutdown until the ship is rendered unable to sustain itself. The Republic Frigate has crude and effective safeguards against this doom cascade.
The first is the experience of the crew; each had been trained to the highest levels in the arts of capacitor and CPU management, and of the Minmatar frigate hulls themselves. Training plays a more significant role than most other factors in determining success in solo frigate pvp combat in factional warfare.
The second of the Republic Frigate’s safeguards is the 5 MegaNewton microwarpdrive, which offers impressive speed, but at the expense of a permanent diversion of about a fifth of the capacitor well to itself. This speed can be beneficial to the Republic Frigate at times, in situations where closing the distance to the target is the determining factor in victory, for instance. But this diversion of such a significant portion of the overall capacitor well can be a serious detriment after that target has been successfully engaged. In solo frigate pvp, there’s no point in catching the target if you can’t kill it once you’ve caught them.
Entering the range of the enemy’s tackling modules in Eve Online is dangerous for most ships equipped for speed, but the Republic Frigate is well-equipped to chase and brawl afterward. The commander of the ship must have fearless cunning, not a sense of safety and preservation for the lives of his men or himself, to pull off the maneuver.
To ensure that the Republic Frigate still had the lungs to destroy the enemy Tristan after the chase, and while constantly cycling its own armor repair system under the onslaught of the fleet of five Hobgoblin II’s, Capt. Kimathi deactivated the microwarpdrive, effectively dumping its well of diverted energy back into the capacitor, and abandoning any possibility of a speedy escape.
From a distance, the other Rifter’s crew had stabilized, regrouped, and begun launching volleys at the Tristan in formation above Capt. Kimathi. The cumulative damage of the two Minmatar ships rose in significance against the heavily tanked Tristan, as distant flashes appeared at the shield in tiny, rippling, expanding rings.
Kimathi’s order compelling the diversion of the microwarpdrive’s power back to the main capacitor appeared to have come too late; the crew’s gasps and exclamations were audible as the power on the bridge flickered between explosions and abrupt shifts in gravitational forces.
The armor of the Republic Frigate had begun to fail, leading to the structure showing fresh buckles in the hull in circles, outlining the trajectories of the light drones in frenzied attack outside.
The shields of the Republic Frigate had long failed. The drones racing tightly just outside the ship’s exterior outside were now striking decisively into the body of the vessel itself in sharp, buzzing spurts, leaving deep indented gouges visible from inside. That audible rattling under the pressure of the attack was the last straw; it was at this moment that, finally, Capt. Abel Kimathi’s mortality became a concern.
But then, just when it seemed as though the Republic Frigate’s tender iron flesh would be torn to pieces by the oppressive swarm of Hobgoblin II’s, the Tristan’s shield’s flickered dimly before definitively vanishing. Sensing his advantage, no order to retreat was given, and the next volley from the Republic Frigate’s rapidly overheating 200mm autocannons connected with the exposed, dirty white underbelly of the Tristan, punching through the armor immediately.
The deafening racket of banging and clanging inside the Republic Frigate immediately ceased as the attacking drones stopped dead, hanging tacitly in space, their 20mm cannons spinning silently to an eventual halt.
The Tristan, in reply, burst harmlessly into glowing, pillowy clouds in the silent fury of the vacuum, spilling its contents into the yawning blackness.
Among those contents were survivors, who were mercifully allowed to pass via escape pod (or to die by Tribal Liberation Force patrols, due in the area at any moment). But most importantly, Capt. Kimathi thought, were the spoils of the victory: 15 Hobgoblin II’s. Including the 5 that were attacking, this amounted to enough of a profit to enable the Matari Liberation Force to build at least 5 more Republic Frigates.
After we docked at a station that was kept secret for security reasons, a group of celebrating militants passed us when I asked one for a quote. For emphasis, or maybe just for clarity, he removed his shades and stopped his brisk walking pace. Looking me directly in the eye, he replied:
“In factional warfare, victory isn’t just about killing your enemy.” He placed the unlit end of his victory cigar in his mouth, freeing his hands, and rolled up the sleeves to his heavy Matari Liberation Front fatigues. He took a deep, slow drag. “Victory is killing them, while forcing them to fund your repairs, replacements, reloads and upgrades.” That was the last I saw of the captain before he took a very short rest while the Republic Frigate was undergoing repairs, and apparently immediately redeployed.