Operation FromPaarlWithLove (Africa Fields)
From Paarl With Love
In the days following a recent successfully completed fielding (takedown sitrep here > https://community.ingress.com/en/discussion/15438/sorry-smurfs-no-baf-for-you) to introduce a newer player to large Ops/MU, the fateful words were spoken.. We should go bigger next time. "I haz an idea", she said. Let's cover Africa!
I called up our Italy counterparts and proposed the idea to them. Fielding from Italy and South Africa to a shared base link from Ghana to Sudan sounded like a fun afternoon outing :D. Agreements were reached, plans drawn up and key distribution checked. Agents were quickly recruited and a date set to coincide with the annual Resistance Blue Cities event in Mid-July. Travel plans were made.
We were set!
And then, as Murphy would have it, things started going wrong. South Africa experienced a surge in Covid infections, especially in the Gauteng province, and our president thought it prudent to prohibit non-essential travel in and out of that province. Lockdown was also tightened to level 3 with a 9pm curfew. The travel restrictions meant that some of us could not fly down to the Western Cape to participate. We discussed it with everyone and agreed to postpone it to some time in August when those restrictions might be lifted.
Then in August, South Africa experienced a brutal and violent upheaval in the KwaZulu-Natal province that spilled over to Johannesburg in Gauteng. Violent rioting and rampant looting made for a VERY worrying climate. We were not sure when or where it would end, so thought it prudent to wait until things quietened down. Which, to our relief, it did.
Niantic's Second Sunday event for September at the time still had the requirement of completing official MD missions to tick up the MD Badge, and a Cape Town ENL agent mentioned that I should head down to CT in Sept to do the Cape Town MD missions there. This sparked the idea > "Hey! I can use that as cover to fly down for our fielding Op, and I wouldn't even need to hide my presence!" And so our date was set. Fly down on Friday 10th, field in Paarl on Sat 11th, and then do the MD missions on Sunday the 12th. Perfect weekend filled with Ingress activity.
Flights and accommodation were booked. Agent availability confirmed. But Murphy struck again. Our Italy counterparts had an unexpected emergency, and would not be available to field with us. They withdrew and wished us luck with our end of the Operation. They've already cleared the holding links from Italy to the DRC and put in further blockers to prevent interference, so their work was done.
Once more Murphy reared his ugly head. On Friday morning, our Sudan anchor was dropped by a low-level Enlightened agent. Inquiries confirmed that this agent is legitimate.
Our OP was dead in the water!!! What followed was panicked scramble to find alternative anchors, as I was due to fly down to Cape Town later that afternoon. Several options were considered and discarded until we settled on using Kampala. Keys were available, but not in sufficient numbers to justify a single anchor. Agent @MaxDaddy78 confirmed his key and VRLA availability that allowed us to use several anchors in the city. Phew! Plan B saved! Links were drawn, agents re-assigned and we're off to Cape Town.
@araikus888 and I arrived in Cape Town and @NeoMitch collected us from the airport. We decided on dinner in Paarl (the location of our planned links) and to strengthen the impression that we were there for Second Sunday, we proceeded to capture and deploy a couple of portals in the area before heading through to Robertson where we were staying. Saturday morning found us on the road, touring some of the local towns and capturing uniques, before we headed through to Paarl for our pre-fielding meetup at 4pm.
@Cygnenoir indicated that the coast was still clear. @MaxDaddy78 had completed setting up the portals in Kampala earlier that morning. No unexpected activity or blockers popping up, so we were looking good. All agents arrived at our meetup point, and our Ghana agent @Cyborgmutt was on route to the Jamestown Lighthouse anchor. This portal needed to be flipped down at 4pm (UTC+2) to drop the blocking link to Malawi, and then flipped back to blue at 5pm when we would start fielding. Checkpoint was at 6pm (UTC+2). @MaxDaddy78 in Kampala also indicated that Uganda was enforcing a very strict curfew at 7pm (UTC+3) which coincided with checkpoint, so he would need sufficient time to link the portals up and head home.
I briefed everyone at our meetup point on what to expect. Keys were handed out, Zello checks were done, and we were set.
^ Briefing in progress
Aaaaaaaaaaaand then Murphy struck again for a third time!!! Accra had rolling power blackouts which caused heavy traffic congestion and severely delayed @Cyborgmutt. He would not get to the lighthouse in time to flip it down and back an hour later for us to make checkpoint and allow @MaxDaddy78 to still get home in time. So once more, we postponed. Everyone was consulted and we agreed to resume at 7am the next morning. @Cyborgmutt completed his assignment and we headed over to the local restaurant for dinner.
5am Sunday morning rolled in cool and drizzly, and we headed out to our meetup point for 7am. Everyone arrived and we quickly re-briefed the plan. @MaxDaddy78 was in place with his daughter. @WredeWillemien at her assigned portal to drop the final blocker. Checkpoint at 9am and our starting time at 8am. Aaaaaaaand we're off!! @chizbitz threw the first two links and @MaxDaddy78 had his daughter close the first field. 83 million MU! It was on!
^ @MaxDaddy78 with @SarahaSiren
Fields were starting to show up in a steady progression as our train of agents drove from portal to portal to close. Each agent closed two fields, until we encountered yet another issue. The agents with iPhones experienced delays with "Link creation failed" errors that would not resolve. It was decided to have the next agent close fields and allow the iPhone agents to use the 6 spare layers at the end of the plan to close. We continued. Checkpoint rolled around and we had 26 layers standing out of the planned 38. Success!!
We continued fielding after checkpoint and our fruit-phone agents managed to finally close their fields as well. And we had absolutely no interference from any Enlightened. Even the expected spoofing didn't happen. (I really expected our Ghana anchor to be spoofed down either during or shortly after our fielding was completed).
^ 38 Layers at roughly 83 million MU a layer
^ @RobberySl8ter and mascot AgentGrumpProtestSmurf
^ @queery as Dispatcher
^ @Cygnenoir on Intel
Once every agent had their assigned 2 layers completed, we had a spare 6 layers that I could dish out. I suggested drawing straws to allow everyone a fair chance of scoring a 3rd layer. Agent @ohduh had a handy app for that, and we had our lucky 6. Keys were handed out and we completed the last 6 layers for a glorious 38-layer deep-blue blanket over Central and Southern Africa by 10am.
And off we went to attend the xfac meetup for the Second Sunday get-together.
Local ENL agents @Rath24 and @JaclynZA took it upon themselves to clear our fields. As most of us were still on the road, we were unable to offer up much of a defense, but it was enough in some cases that they had to resort to using Jarvis viruses instead of bursters to get the fields down. It was a good battle!
^ @Rath24 and JaclynZa (not a recent photo)
And here is where it gets interesting. One portal was flipped with all 8 resos still intact, and only the two VRLA were destroyed. This left a fully functional P8 that we could re-use :D. While at the Second Sunday meetup, myself, @NeoMitch and @araikus888 scoured the portal remote view for any signs of dropped keys that were missed during cleanup, and lo and behold, we found 3! So we hatched a quick plan to go back to Paarl and make use of that oversight.
We had to hurry, as we were due back at the airport in 3 hours for our flight home, and the trip to Paarl is an hour each way. Arriving at the last portal on our fielding plan, we re-captured it and put a blocker up to prevent ENL from linking through our path when they realised we were back. We then proceeded to find the dropped keys and went to flip the P8. And voila! 4 Fields completed on that portal, with a cheeky "Round 2, FIGHT" comm sent to the ENL team that cleared the first time, and we were off to the airport.
^ 4 Layers at 83 Million MU for Round 2
Leaving Cape Town was hard. We had such a good weekend there. Nothing better than one hugely successful Operation done with a fantastic team, followed by a great Second Sunday xfac event.
Another local ENL agent @Matatac took it upon himself to clear the last fields bright and early this Monday morning after standing overnight for 2 checkpoints. And so ends a wonderful Op.
Finally, the credits:
38 Layers at roughly 83 Million MU a layer
Total MU Captured: 3,189,454,765 MU
4 Layers at roughly 83 Million MU a layer
Total MU Captured: 335,673,151 MU
Uganda - Kampala Team:
South Africa - Paarl Team:
@Azhreia - broke the 1 Billion MU captured threshold
@assert8 - with a shiny new Onyx Illuminator badge!
Unfortunately the following agents couldn't attend the Sunday, but they were ready and willing for Saturday:
^ We take our portal defense seriously 😅
^ The “unfortunate” mistake of flipping a full P8 and leaving mod slots open