An account from the Dover corner of Operation Penknife
By Ian Hart
I had the privilege of firing the first link of Penknife – The Big One, the field covering London from Newbury to Cambridge to Dover. Obviously there were some things going on beforehand….
When MattWPBS shared his vision for a big field, I was eager to put Dover forward as a candidate. Kent Enlightened had grown, and we were in a strong position to control the area. So when the First World War Zeebrugge Bell in Dover was put forward as a portal for the field, I was delighted. Having looked at big fields anyway, I was already aware that a link from Dover to Cambridge was possible. With Xeodus operating in the Cambridge area, the thoughts had crossed my mind. I expected the possibility of that link to be spotted. Newbury, however, was the unexpected.
As the time went on, we allowed blocking links to fail. Split between secrecy and openness, we tried to contact as many players as possible to ensure no blocking links were put up by our own side. Resistance links were not a problem – they could be taken down in minutes. We had a strong mobile contingent who would go out and take down portals where necessary. As the area was controlled by the Enlightened, the challenge was a new player who might unwittingly put up a blocking link. Some links were put up, but each one, mercifully, was taken down by a resistance member. Across Kent and beyond, portals were made to look attractive. Invariably, the bait was taken and links came down.
Meetings happened. Keys were swapped. On the night that we set up L8 portals in London, penknife was also being planned. Double03 found himself visiting Cambridge, and brought back the key to LMB that I would use on the night. Raids were happening in preparation. And the link from Zeebrugge Bell to LMB was good. Then the news came through from MattWPBS – the last blocking links had been taken down, and 24 hours later Penknife was to be attempted.
On the big day, everyone was buzzing. There was also concern – had we been rumbled? I was preoccupied with another matter. I was visiting London for…. well that’s my business. Planning Penknife II? Scheming large numbers of L8 portals? Or nothing to do with Ingress? I’ll leave you to guess. Maybe you’ll find out…. Sometime.
After my meeting, I started my role in the pre-ops. Lordmirg and some of his associates had been hitting portals in Kent. I went for the Tower Bridge/London Bridge area, where Lordmirg had many portals, and took as many down as I could. Keeping them busy meant less chance of strikes on Kent – and less possibility of links being put up that would obstruct. It also meant more of our Kent Enlightened would be free to make penknife work. As late as I could leave things, I went home. On the way I started getting messages that Lordmirg was taking back portals. He was a high level resistance, if he was tied up undoing what I had done than surely we had not been rumbled, or he would be doing other things…. I hoped.
Home, and a last recharge of the batteries. Communication with MattWPBS, Xeodus, Eric the Cavalier. All is progressing nicely. Time approaches. Last thing to do is give the nod to jaitchjaitch80, who was holding back ready to take out a portal at the last minute. It’s time for him to do his strike, and off he goes. When he took the portal he found…. Well maybe some of the resistance know what he found? Anyway, he did the job, took down the portal efficiently (as I would expect of him) and off to take up position.
I was at the Zeebrugge Bell. There’s no pictures, cos it was dark. Nothing to see. The Bell, in darkness on the side of the old Maison Dieu, about to light up something special. Messages exchanged. All in place. Newbury taken and we are off! All links clear. Now it is time to make the first link. Penknife is go. Loading up the links and…. LMB is not showing! Tried again. Nothing. Not in the available or unavailable portals lists. I’d been using the tablet, so I switched to the phone. Never has Ingress taken so long to load, it seemed to me. Heart beating, still no sign of LMB on the links. Selected the key and looked at LMB. Then returned to make the link, and finally it was there. Relief! I did get some strange looks from passers-by as the “yes!”came out. Hit confirm… its there! I stood back as the other links were made. The sight was brilliant. On my small screen using the app this little piece of a field was showing. But I knew, that little field extended right up to Cambridge and Newbury, encompassing the whole of London.
There are a lot of people I haven’t mentioned. Many of the Kent Enlightened played roles that I prefer to keep quiet – because they are valued and gave us a huge advantage, I’m not going to give that away. You know who you are though, and you know I salute you.