Pandemic Legion brought a hundred and seventy pilot Tengu Strategic Cruiser fleet, supported by a thirty pilot WAFFLES(dot) [N0MAD] bomber wing. Being the first into the system again, Pandemic Legion set up on the ZXIC-7 gate at optimal with its Tengus, the same route HERO Coalition used before to enter the system. Meanwhile the [N0MAD] bombers spread around the gate, ready to deliver their payload at a moment's notice.
HERO Coalition for its part, fielded a two hundred pilot strong Dominix Battleship fleet, with a robust Electronic Warfare wing, mainly Maulus Frigates. It was supported by a Test Alliance Please Ignore [TEST] Ishtar Heavy Assault Cruiser fleet, fifty pilot large. The two fleets then made their way to the F4R2-Q system, entering ZXIC-7 system and warping to the F4R2-Q gate.
At 23:05 EVE Standard Time, HERO Coalition forces jumped into the F4R2-Q system, and the two sides collided violently once more.
At first, the fight seemed to be merely a re-tread of the previous engagement, with minor variations. [N0MAD]'s bomber wing launched a bombing run as the HERO Coalition's fleet uncloaked and anchored on the gate with the ensuing explosion destroying much of HERO Coalition's Electronic Warfare wing.
Pandemic Legion's fleet kept kiting and engaging the Dominix fleet at ease, while the HERO Coalition Battleships struggled in vain to break the Tengus' tank. The [TEST] Ishtars attempted to engage the Pandemic Legion Scimitars with little success, while fresh reinforcements for HERO Coalition kept trickling in, with a Caracal Cruiser and a Harpy Assault Frigate gang entering the field, attempting to put more pressure on the Logistics wing of Pandemic Legion, as more Electronic Warfare Frigates and Cruisers were brought to the field.
However, Pandemic Legion continued to persevere, inflicting casualties upon the HERO Coalition forces while its [N0MAD] bomber wing dove for a second bombing run, this time on the [TEST] Ishtars who lost several support ships and drones, forcing them to warp off.
However, during the commotion, the Sovereignty Blockade Unit situated on the WLAR-J gate was destroyed by a HERO Coalition Capital squadron. As information from scouts was recieved, it soon became apparent that the HERO Coalition Dominix fleet was merely a distraction meant to occupy the Pandemic Legion force while the Capital fleet removed the Sovereignty Blockade Units in the system, thus removing the threat to HERO Coalition's sovereignty.
Yet, it seems the mounting losses of the HERO Coalition Dominix fleet reached a critical point, as the Battleships used their Micro Jump Drives to clear away from the remaining interdiction probes deployed around the ZXIC-7 gate and warp off the field. This freed the Pandemic Legion fleet to pursue the Capital ships, who were in the process of removing another Sovereignty Blockade Unit on the VA6-DR gate.
The tackled HERO Coalition Aeon with its now dead escort fleet
The HERO Coalition Capital fleet was quickly tackled on the VA6-DR gate, with interdiction probes making sure none of the Capital ships could warp out, including an Aeon Mothership which accompanied the Capital fleet. Pandemic Legion quickly lit a cynosural beacon to allow its Titans to jump in, followed by supporting Motherships, while the Tengu fleet kept watch. One after the other, the newly brought Titans focused their Doomsday devices on the tackled Capitals and volleyed them. The Motherships, at the same time, let loose their Fighter Bomber wings on the tackled Aeon.
HERO Coalition's Archon Carrier hit by a Doomsday device during the initial fighting on the VA6-DR gate
At this point, HERO Coalition managed to remove the Sovereignty Blockade Unit on the VA6-DR gate, effectively securing the system for their side, yet the tackled Aeon presented a problem. Deciding to sacrifice their Dominix fleet to apply pressure on the Pandemic Legion forces, they warped it on top of the Pandemic Legion Titan fleet and started engaging. At the same time, they lit a cynosural beacon of their own, jumping in more Dreadnaughts.
The HERO Coalition Dreadnaught fleet turned its entire attention to the nearest Ragnarok titan, managing to bring it down to half armor before the Motherships' Remote Repairer cycles caught up. At the same time, the Pandemic Legion Titans cycled their Doomsday devices again on the newly arrived Capitals, adding to the slaughter.
It seems in all the commotion the Aeon managed to clear the interdiction probes around it, as Pandemic Legion tackle was pre-occupied with the Dominix and Dreadnaught fleets, and able to warp out to the station. From there it safely extract from the system. The remaining Capitals though, did not share its luck, and were destroyed to the last, alongside many Dominix Battleships.
Pandemic Legion's fleet close to the end of the battle
With the Aeon safely out of system, and the system itself secured, HERO Coalition forces disengaged, leaving Pandemic Legion forces to loot the field and clear the wrecks.
Battle report for the F4R2-Q system can be found here.
During the height of the battle the system hosted almost a thousand pilots, with Time Dilation being a noticeble factor, peaking to twenty-two percent during most of the fighting. Bomber activity was strong at the start of the battle, with [N0MAD] bombers in particular, but dropped severely as the fight moved to the VA6-DR gate. More than one hundred and forty-five billion ISK of damages were incurred during the fighting, with three hundred and forty-eight ships destroyed. The fight was over in ninety minutes from its start.
Pandemic Legion lost the strategic objective, but won the field, suffering twenty-three losses for two billion ISK in damages, most of them either tackle or bombers, with one Tengu destroyed due to the pilot disconnecting.
HERO Coalition won both a strategic and a moral victory, but at a great cost. Managing to save the system and the Aeon, HERO Coalition sacrificed no less than twenty-seven Dreadnaughts and ten Carriers and fifty-one Battleships. Including all the losses incurred during the fighting, HERO Coalition lost two hundred and ninety-seven ships, for a total of one hundred and thirty-six billion ISK.
According to sources within HERO Coalition, the second Dreadnaught fleet was supposed to jump on top an Erebus titan that was bumped away from the main Pandemic Legion fleet, allowing HERO Coalition to snag a Titan kill to offset their losses. It is however, unclear as to what exactly went wrong.
Further more, the Aeon was apparently a bait for the Pandemic Legion fleet, with the plan to jump the Dreadnaughts on top the Motherships and Titans brought to the field. However, Pandemic Legion's Titan fleet exceeded expectations (Reaching to almost a hundred Titans and Motherships).
With the F4R2-Q secured once again by HERO Coalition, one must wonder whether by winning the system, HERO Coalition lost the war, or whether this will represent a turning point in its struggle against Pandemic Legion.