Sunday 25 February 2018

Large Drifter fleet sighted in Caldari space!

First sighting

After a week of silence, the Drifters have returned with a large fleet in the Sirppala system. They were originally sighted by the Spectre Fleet community. This info was quickly relayed to ARC, allowing them to quickly sent out observers to gather information & formulate an appropriate tactic to counter them.

Drifter fleet scanning the Urlen gate in Sirppala

As with last week sightings, the Drifters were all damaged heavily, without a clue to who or what did this. No major aggression either, outside the few clueless capsuleers who attacked them & got quickly disposed of by the Drifters.
However these rogue attacks caused the Drifters to call in two waves to reinforce them, swelling their numbers to 51 Drifter battleships, a potentially high risk in high security systems.

This also complicated matters for ARC & their allies, as such a large Drifter fleet needed a good coordination & numbers to be able to take them down.
The ARC officials decided on a similar approach as in the Rens confrontation last week, namely fight them with waves of cheap & disposable high damage ships. They just had to gather the numbers.

A Charon freighter fleet being scanned by the Drifter fleet as they pass through.

But time worked against them, as the Urlen gate in the Sirppala system is an important link between the Jita-Amarr trade route & the major Drifter presence caused alot of concern for the passing traffic. That the Drifters sometimes destroyed a ship did not help to calm matters. Usually it was a rogue attack by a lone capsuleer. But transports hauling corpses were under threat of Drifter attack as well.
One spectacular incident with an Orca showed this. As the ship arrived, it suddenly got focused by the Drifter fleet & subsequently exploded it a massive bright lightflash.
After inspecting the cargo, it turned out the Orca was hauling a large load of capsuleer corpses for reasons unknown.
It's known for a while now that Drifters have an unusual interest in capsuleer corpses, gathering them when they can & actively attacking those who transport such corpses.

The attack on the Drifter fleet

Once ARC officials gathered enough capsuleers, they went over the tactics once last time as people boarded the ARC provided Coercer destroyers. While fragile, these ships can dish out a good punch compared to their cost & the Drifter weapons render all but the most formidable defenses useless.
Under ARC official Makoto Priano, the capsuleer fleet gathered outside the station before they warped in as one to launch the first strike on the Drifters.

And so it begins, the Coercer fleet commences its attack run on the Drifter battleships

The first strike took down a few Drifter battleships before they got obliterated. But capsuleers are stubborn & do not fear death, allowing them to regroup quickly at the station, reform the fleet with new Coercers & warp in as one, to take on the Drifters once more..
Once more the Drifters burned the capsuleers off the battlefield, but the capsuleers just regrouped, boarded new ARC provided Coercers & kept going, wave after wave, each time taking down more Drifter battleships.

And then, at the 4th attack wave, the Drifters just ceased firing, allowing the capsuleer fleet to remove the remaining battleships rapidly from Caldari space with minimal ship losses.
The fleet remained in position for a while, on alert for possible reinforcements, but they did not arrive.
In the end, roughly 100 Coercers were destroyed in favour of 51 Drifter battleships, a very good tradeoff, showing the improvement the ARC organisation made in their Coercer doctrine after the Rens encounter.
Thanks to the effort of ARC & allies, Caldari space and the Amarr-Jita trade route was once more secure from potential Drifter threats.


Several observations made during this encounter matched what occurred at Rens last week.

- The Drifters called two waves of reinforcements after they got attacked. At Rens this happened after the ARC fleet attacked them, causing them to fight two waves of Drifters.
At Sirppala, rogue attacks by lone capsuleers caused these reinforcements to appear long before ARC had gathered enough capsuleers to strike at them, forcing a battle against  51 Drifter battleships, a formidable force.

- They ceased defending themselves after a while. This occurred at Rens & occurred again at Sirppala. After they lost a considerable number of their fleet, the Drifters just ceased defending themselves, allowing the capsuleer fleet to defeat them easily from this point onward, saving the few shots fired by their doomsday weapons.

- They all were damaged heavily, their armor gone & their structural integrity heavily compromised by unknown events. So far we still don't have a clue what happened to these Drifter fleets & why they venture in our space.

A damaged Drifter battleship encountered in Sirppala

- They were scanning the system gates. In Sirppala, they first scanned the Inaro gate, but then moved to the Urlen gate & stayed there for the duration of the encounter, intensely scanning the gate & all the passing traffic for reasons unknown.

To this day, we do not know why the Drifters leave wormhole space to scan gates in our space, nor why they do it in their heavily damaged state.
While it's unlikely that they prepare for a large scale conflict this time, we cannot be cautious enough, requiring us to fight these Drifter concentrations, as we cannot risk a second Drifter / Amarr conflict or anything similar.

Rest assured that Aurora News will share any reveals of this mysterious behaviour as soon as we can; to put to rest any speculations that could arise!

Thursday 22 February 2018

Multiple Drifter fleets sighted


Drifters usually patrol Anoikis (Wormhole system space) and the New Eden cluster in small groups, guarding various sites or pursuing various (unknown) objectives. Normally they never group up in fleets.
The one period they gathered in fleets began shortly after we received the Hilen Tukoss Broadcast in early YC 117, where Drifter fleet sightings became more & more common, leading to various incidents & even outright attacks on various facilities & culminated in the assassination of Empress Jamyl Sarum I by a massive Drifter force. This lead to the Amarr-Drifter war & during the rest of YC 117 & early YC 118, these two powers clashed until the Drifters withdrawn their fleets.
And then it stopped for years, with the Drifters ceasing their fleet formation & their aggressive behaviour towards the Amarr Empire.

Due to the above, these recent Drifter fleet sightings are concerning, as the only major precedent we have on Drifter fleets ended in focused aggression against the Amarr.

The first fleet sighting: The Anoikis encounter

Last Saturday, an ARC patrol fleet stumbled on a Drifter fleet during a routine inspection of the Redoubt Hive complex in the J174618 wormhole system. Before they could withdraw, the 25 Vigilant Tyrannos battleships focused fire on them, instantly destroying a patrol ship. Leaving no chance for the capsuleer to flee, they crack his pod & harvest his corpse, a standard Drifter action.

A damaged Drifter battleship near the Redoubt Hive Complex
Image by Uriel Paradisi Anteovnuecci

As ARC regrouped, they noticed these Drifter ships were heavily damaged, only able to stay in the fight thanks to their advanced shield technologies.
However, despite the presence of this powerful fleet, ARC managed to complete their main objective & took out the Hikanta Tyrannos who resided within the Hive Complex.

Unable to take on the main force with their patrol fleet, plans were made to return with a fleet capable of bringing them down. But then another fleet was sighted...

The second fleet sighting: the Curse massacre

Only a day after the Anoikis encounter, another Drifter fleet was sighted, this time in the fringes of known space, in the H-ADOC system, situated in Curse.
They were spotted around a Triumvirate staging point, collecting corpses. Also observed were the similarities with the Anoikis Drifter fleet, 25 Drifter battleships, many of them heavily damaged.
Two of the resident capsuleer organisations (Triumvirate [TRI] and League of Svelte Men [SVELT]) decided to rally a fleet to engage the Drifters & drive them out.
As the capsuleer forces gathered, they noticed the Drifters had a particular interest in the gate leading to the S-E6ES system, scanning it numerous times, sometimes even gathering their fleet to do it.
Unlike the Anoikis fleet, this one did not engage capsuleer actively, unless fired upon, which is the standard Drifter combat protocol in known space.

Damaged Drifter sighted in Curse
Image by Nomistrav

Once the capsuleer fleet was ready, they proceeded to engage this strong but damaged force. First fleet to engage were the SVELT stealthbombers, who performed several bombing runs on the Drifter taskforce.
These bombing runs demolished the majority of the Drifters with practically no resistance from them, showcasing their unfamiliarity with this capsuleer tactic.
The few remaining Drifters were destroyed by the TRI fighters, cleaning up the field.
The quick demise of the Drifter fleet was a strong showcase of capsuleer power, sending them a strong message should they ever come back.

The third fleet sighting: the Rens incident

And yet, the Drifters returned not a day later, this time in Rens, one of the main trade hubs in Minmatar space. And not only this, they arrived in greater number as well. But just as previous encounters in our space, they took an immediate interest in one of the gates, focusing their scans on it.
As Rens is a busy system, their appearance quickly became known across the cluster & a capsuleer task force was quickly gathered.
As the system lies in high sec, standard fleet tactics could not be used to engage such Drifter numbers, but quickly the decision was made to use large numbers of destroyers to engage them, as they combine firepower, mobility & low cost in one fine package.

Despite the Drifter stance of not attacking unless provoked in known space, the decision to engage them was nonetheless made, as fleets of powerful battleships in foreign space are rarely a good thing. Not to mention that the last time Drifters appeared in fleets, it culminated in the Drifter-Amarr war  and hardly anyone is looking for a repeat of that in their space.

Thanks to the large Destroyer task force, the damaged Drifter battleships were unable to overcome the combination of firepower & numbers, leading to their destruction.
But just as the capsuleer force thought it was over, another smaller Drifter fleet warped in.
Wasting little time, the capsuleers regrouped & took on the newcomers as well with their destroyer fleet.
In the end, 44 Drifter battleships were taken down at the cost of over a hundred destroyers, a high cost, showcasing how powerful the Drifter fleets are even in their damaged state.

Epilogue: What is going on?

So what is happening? Is there cause for concern? In my opinion, there is no cause for concern yet, but we do have to stay vigilant & keep close track of any unusual Drifter activity.
After all, the last time Drifter fleets appeared, they became more & more numerous over time, resulting in the Amarr-Drifter conflict.
Ever since the Drifters withdrew from that conflict, no Drifter fleets have been sighted. Until now.

The Discourse report on the 3 Drifter fleet encounters

However, these Drifter fleets all show signs of heavy damage, so whatever is ongoing, it is likely they venture in our space for something different now.
The two fleets in our space have shown great interest in our gates, scanning them intensely for reasons unknown.
It is likely connected to the mysterious Concord Drifter footage that was leaked recently, as explained by ARC personnel in this Discourse report:

Discourse report on the leaked Concord footage & how it could relate to the damaged Drifter fleets

The file is from a Concord subsection involved in monitoring Drifter activity. While unclear, it seems to show an ongoing but unknown stellar event (Edit: further analysis have shown this not to be true, what is shown instead is still unknown). However it is likely linked to the Drifter fleets one way or another due to the timing of the release of this file & the appearance of the damaged Drifter ships. More details are missing & analysis on the footage is still ongoing by ARC personnel.
It is hoped that soon we will know more of what befell the Drifter fleets & why they got a renewed interest in our space & our gate network.

Of known non-capsuleer organisations that could damage the Drifters and force them out in a damaged state, there's 3 main suspects: Note, these are speculations! We have no information at this time to indicate they are involved.

Sansha's Nation: While they used to have a strong wormhole system presence, not much of it is left, so an unlikely culprit, unless the rumours of a secret Sansha stronghold in an undiscovered wormhole system would turn true after all.

Sisters of EvE: With the Thera system colonisation, the Sisters have shown to be capable of launching large scale secret operations in wormhole space. Perhaps the damaged Drifter fleets are the result of yet another of their secret operations?

Amarr Empire: While the Amarr have no presence in wormhole systems, they cannot be discounted, due to the hostile focus their empire received when the Drifters appeared in large numbers for the first time.
Undoubtedly, the Amarr never forgot not forgave the Drifters for their transgressions & have been trying to find ways to hit back at the Drifters in their own space.
Perhaps they succeeded one way or another & struck a blow against them.

Hopefully time will tell what actually happened with the Drifters. But whatever the answer might be, it likely lies in Anoikis

Sunday 18 February 2018

The Isseras ghost ship

For several days, a Megathron battleship appeared on the scanners of many visitors of the Isseras system. At first, they thought nothing of it, probably yet another dedicated capsuleer running a string of assignments for the Caldari megacorporations or their subsidiaries.
But as days passed, its persistency on the scanners made people wonder what it was doing, as it was always there, lurking, watching for days, without docking.

Until curiosity got the better of one capsuleer & decided to investigate this strange Megathron. After a fruitless search at various capsuleer structures, it made the mystery only larger as it hinted that this large ship was floating alone through deep space, unmanned...
Considering that a Megathron battleship is a large investment for many capsuleers & for non-capsuleer organisations, leaving such prize unattended warranted further investigations.

Capsuleer Aradina Varren managed to pinpoint the strange Megathron's location & warped to it to investigate closer.
As she inspected the drifting Megathron, she found no signs of damage, yet the ship was clearly adrift. A true ghost ship, floating abandoned across the system.
In an attempt to unveil the mystery, she boarded it, hoping to find a clue on what befell this battleship & the crew.
Inspecting the equipment on board, it unveiled a part of the mystery. Its fittings indicated that the ship was used to close wormholes, securing the wormhole system from unwanted visitors.

But why was it left there? We might never know for sure. The most logical conclusion is that the pilot made an error as he rolled to close the wormhole link, stranding him on the wrong side.
But why abandon it there, in deep space, while there are stations present in the system? In a high security area nonetheless?

Whatever transpired, the pilot & crew left their ship, never to return, their fate unknown, leaving a large capable warship adrift in deep space.

The derelict Megathron, retrieved by capsuleer Aradina Varren

Aurora News: A new beginning.

More then two years ago, Aurora News, part of the Aurora Arcology fell silent due to a combination of factors. The main ones were:

1) The perceived increasing outside threat posed by the Drifters, who have a constant presence in the Arcology homesystem Irjunen.

Current status:
The Drifters are under constant observation by Aurora surveillance teams & have been deemed a non-immediate threat. However we maintain high caution with them. Any pilot or capsuleer who does deals with us is explicitly advised against acting aggressive in any way or form towards the Irjunen Drifters & Seekers, in order not to attract their attention.
As a result, the immigration restrictions have been lifted, reopening the full capacity of the Aurora Arcology project to refugees across the cluster.

2) The rapid growth of the Aurora Arcology population, causing a large variety of issues, from services being inadequate for the larger population, to increased tension between groups due to cultural misudnerstandings.

Current status:
Pieter Tuulinen's advice has been a great asset on the security side of things, professionalizing the Aurora Law Enforcement groups, assuring the safety of Arcology citizens against inside & outside threats.
Thanks to this, the growth of the Aurora population did not strain our law enforcement departement.

A reorganization of the Arcology services & structures has also been successful, as a large population has different needs & priorities then a smaller one, not to mention the scale differences in required supplies & all the issues that came with it.
After all, a city of over a million long time refugees is run differently then a refugee camp housing thousands

To address the cultural differences between the variety of refugee groups, a mandatory cultural understanding course has been set up for all future refugees, along with an accompanying book to improve people's knowledge of alien cultures & why some practices are taboo & others are sensitive to certain groups (from: 'Why Slavery is not tolerated' to 'The importance of tattoos for Matari' etc).
It's been observed that even a basic understanding helps greatly in getting people to get along on a larger scale.

In short: the situation is stable now & can handle a rising number of refugees more efficiently.

3) Enhanced pirate forces and their presence

Current status: Still ongoing. Pirate fleet strengths have been on the rise the past few years, making them much bolder in their engagements.
Luckily, the Irjunen system is a small capsuleer hub and through this, pirate levels are generally on an acceptable level thanks to capsuleer actions.
While they mainly run various errands & assignments for the various megacorporations settled in the system, the result is still the same, we all profit from a safer system under capsuleer actions.

4) Shifting of priorities caused Aurora News to cease publications, due to lack of resources.

Current status: As the Aurora Arcology is stable, funds have been allocated once more to Aurora News, allowing publications to resume under a new light.

As the main issues have been addressed & contained, Aurora News can now relaunch. However, as I have been out the loop for a long time, our main focus will be small news articles, as more info will be gathered on larger issues & how they are seen among the rgeater capsuleer population.

Our stance on bringing news remains unchanged; providing honest news with integrity & respect.