Sightseeing in the Cluster

Battle of Fort Kavad Monument

ATXVII woooooooo
The wrecked station, wrecked ships, and memorial plinth of the Battle of Fort Kavad Monument.

Alliance Tournament XVII is got started in earnest this weekend.  Although I’ve found myself enjoying almost all of the matches I watch, my favorite matches are probably those where an established or well-known alliance tournament team gets thrashed by an unexpected underdog (I suspect I’m not alone in that particular preference). There’s just something particularly satisfying in watching a match that every commentator (professional or amateur) had assumed would be a walloping by the preferred team, only to see those expectations overturned either in one magnificent mistake (such as the ever-beloved boundary violation) or by a slow battle of attrition going absolutely the wrong way. If its satisfying for me as a viewer, I can only imagine the ecstasy the underdog team feels to see the strategy that everyone questioned pay off (or, even better, when an unexpected mistake gives the underdog a win even they weren’t expecting).

Also boundary violations woooooooo
A better view of the wrecked Fort Kavad.

Of course, there’s an entire nation in New Eden that have the experience of being the successful underdogs: the Minmatar. When the Minmatar began to rebel after the brief (but disastrous) Amarr-Jove war, no one really expected them to be successful. Over the course of the thousands of years of Amarrian history, they had never failed to subdue a targeted race: from the Udorians on Amarr Prime to the star-spanning Minmatar Empire, the Amarr had Reclaimed every civilization it had encountered so far. The sole exception? The Gallente Federation, and the Empire never formally targeted the Federation for a Reclaiming (though many an armchair military historian has salivated at the thought of watching such a fight play out).

The Minmatar really do love their surprise strikes.
The wreckage of an Apocalypse-class battleship still glints in the starlight.

But, spoiler alert, the Minmatar managed to pull it off, against all expectations. Through a combination of tenacity, duct tape, and (covert) support from the Federation, the Minmatar managed to not only free their home system, but establish themselves as one of the 4 major powers in New Eden. Minmatar independence was guaranteed when they managed to strike a surprise blow (a standard play by the Minmatar, who are exceptionally good at pulling off such moves) against amassed Amarr fleets at Fort Kavad in Odatrik, a half dozen jumps out from Pator. Today, a monument stands at the ruins of Fort Kavad to commemorate the victory that assured Minmatar independence.

Aura has the following to say about the Battle of Fort Kavad:

Seriously though, am I the only one who thinks this looks like the mothership from Homeworld?

The preserved ruins of Fort Kavad loom over the battlefield where the Minmatar struck the final blow that would secure their territories and allow their fledgling Republic to rise to its full height in relative peace.

Named after an ancient lord of the Ardishapur Family, Fort Kavad sat at the center of the Ortner Redoubt, the last major toehold of the Amarr Empire in Minmatar space at the end of the Great Rebellion. The position guarded the core of the Ammatar Mandate the Amarr had set up as a defensive buffer but more critically was within striking distance of the Minmatar heartlands.

I do like the composition in this shot tbh

Despite the chaos that the Great Rebellion had sowed across the Empire for several years, many Amarr lords were unwilling to settle for defeat at the hands of their erstwhile slaves. In BYC17, a militant faction at the Imperial Court promoted a plan to use Fort Kavad as a springboard for a counter-offensive that would regain the lost territories. A demoralized and confused Emperor Heideran VII, possibly afflicted by an attack of the Turit Disease he suffered with, allowed the militants to proceed with their plan.

As Amarr forces built up at Fort Kavad, the Minmatar became aware of the plan and knew that an opportunity to strike a decisive blow was at hand. The Battle of the Golgothan Fields had robbed the Amarr of much of their capital ship strength, forcing them to concentrate battleship squadrons at Fort Kavad. Minmatar rebel forces from across their hard-won territories assembled and launched a pre-emptive strike in numbers that would overwhelm the defenses of Fort Kavad and catch the assembling Amarr fleets by surprise.

The only reason I ever remember the name of the Tempest is because of Clear Skies, lol

With Fort Kavad’s defenses crippled and entire battleship squadrons destroyed or disabled, the Amarr were in disarray but refused to retreat knowing well the penalty they would face at the hands of their fanatical lords. Many commanders launched suicidal counter-attacks and some broke past the Minmatar assault in an apparent attempt to mount the counter-offensive they had planned. At high cost in ships, including precious battleships, the Minmatar prevailed and wiped out the scattered Amarr taskforce.

The news of the defeat at Fort Kavad roused Emperor Heideran’s erratic anger and the militant faction at court suffered accordingly for their fatal underestimation of the Minmatar. Once the Emperor had seen to the security of the Ammatar Mandate, he once again lapsed into seclusion, having ordered no further military adventures on pain of death and the enslavement of all relatives of any lord foolish enough to defy the orders.

A dream of mine is to have some sort of explanation for these "spaceshuttle wrecks" but I know they're used everywhere so it will probably never be

For the Minmatar, the Battle of Fort Kavad was a famous victory that eliminated the danger of a counter-offensive by the Amarr Empire. In the relative peace the Minmatar fighters had bought with their blood, the Minmatar Republic was established and its defenses secured. Amarr warlords knew better than to openly defy the Emperor’s peace but inevitably the means for militant Amarr and Minmatar to strike at one another was found in the bitter Vindication Wars that would be fought through and against the puppet state of the Ammatar Mandate.

The memorial plinth with a Minmatar standard.

Anyone who has flown through the Amarr system will immediately recognize Fort Kavad’s profile. A tall and narrow station structure, this particular type of Amarr station has always reminded me of a mothership from a hologame I used to play as a kid, though gilded in traditional Amarr gold rather than the soft blues and reds that I was used to. I’ve always wondered if the resemblance was intentional. In any case, today, the gold trimming of Fort Kavad is burnished from centuries of lying in ruin. Unsurprisingly, the only thing to survive is the superstructure of the station itself; it’s long been stripped for parts otherwise, though I imagine that the Republic carried out some minimal restoration for purposes of the monument.

I accidentally posted this early WHOOPS.
A closer view of some particularly unidentifiable wreckage.

Nearby, the remnants of a few Amarr ships can still be seen. I didn’t recognize some of the classes of ship that can be seen, but those hulls of the ships had been warped and tattered almost beyond recognition, so perhaps that would those particular designs. The remnant ships appear to be draped over nearby asteroids. Perhaps the impetus imparted on the ships as their power cores exploded pushed them into the nearby rocks to drape as they do. In addition to the mysterious ships, the twisted wrecks of more standard Amarr designs (such as the Apocalypse), along with Minmatar ships (such as the Tempest) can be seen. Also nearby is the standard memorial plinth that has gained fashion recently around the cluster. The Minmatar Republic seal glows above the holographic base, a final flag of victory flying over the defeated Amarr station.

Oh, look, a backlit shot of the monument as an ending photo, how original, mark
The wreckage of Fort Kavad

Just like the Minmatar over a century again, a number of underdogs managed to upset the presumed status quo over this past tournament weekend, and undoubtedly more such upsets are to come as the tournament continues. There’s a reason why ‘the underdogs are victorious’ are such a well-worn trope in most kinds of fiction: there’s something far more compelling about watching a juggernaut snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Sure, a larger, better funded, better armed team can win. But that’s expected. That’s boring. But when a juggernaut is felled, that’s something. When a supposedly unstoppable force is brought to a screeching halt, that’s a story. That’s something that will be talked about, analyzed, pored over for future generations. So it is with Alliance Tournament underdogs, and so it is with those scrappy rebels that managed to stop the juggernaut of the Amarr Empire.

Basic Information:

  • Attraction: Battle of Fort Kavad Monument
  • System: Odatrik
  • Security Rating: 0.8
  • Region: Heimatar
  • Potential Hazards: If you’re below a -3 in security status, or -5 standing with the Minmatar, you’ll have to deal with some rather unpleasant policemen.

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