I let loose with a string of obscenities, careful not to transmit them over comms, cursing out my fleet, my ceo, and the world in general. Depite my noobishness and utter lack of experience, Abbel Nightroad had spontaneously dropped Fleet Commander duties on my head and gone off to take care of his own stuff. I found myself now, barely more than two months out of the Academy, in a Tristan and in charge of a small and incredibly chaotic fleet, without a clue in the world how to deal with it.
We'd been hired to mess with Insurgency alliance's highsec operations, and I hadn't seen much action from it. Not knowing what else to do, and unable to foist FC off on anyone else, I had picked a gate in Vuorrassi on our targets' main trade route and sat us on it, with scouts in the nearby systems. It was boring, I had the shakes from being on a prolongued adrenalin high, and for maybe an hour, no targets passed through the system.
The guys knew I was inexperienced. Most were sympathetic and helpful, but a couple of the hotheads thought this meant they didn't have to listen. One went haring off after an outlaw who was doing a seat-of-his-pants flee through highsec in an interceptor; when I put my figurative foot down and bitched him out for his lack of professionalism, the opportunist left the fleet. Another got fed up and went roaming on his own in search of war-targets.
Eventually, the gatecamp paid off and we caught an enemy Bustard. I didn't even get on the killmail because my reflexes weren't so great and I'd been too far away for my scram - what in the name of Black Rise had I been thinking, fitting a shortrange scram? - to catch it. When I docked up for the night, I felt a mixture of embarrassment and frustration at my own ineffectiveness. Everyone who'd stayed for the camp told me I'd done well, we'd caught a transport due to my choice of camping-spot, after all, and a Buzzard covert-ops in the same system an hour later - though that had less to do with my direction and more to do with sheer luck on the side of the Hawk and Ares pilots who'd nobbled him. For my part, I knew my inexperience could easily have got someone else killed if Insurgency had decided to challenge us, and I resolved to shoot Abbel if he tried to leave that responsibility in my hands again before I could instinctively tell the difference between a hauler and a battlecruiser.
I've FC'd a few more times since then, but by that time Atrocitas had gone pirate and I was starting to get a feel for the kind of trouble a particular ship could dish out. It's not been quite a year since that first run as FC and I can still remember that sort of frustration-terror feeling that makes you want to pull at your hair, and the queer, sick tremors that run through you in waves as the adrenalin starts pumping and doesn't let up. Hell, I still get those shakes from time to time, usually when I'm going into a situation where I'm likely to die horribly.
You can't do stuff like this in Real Life. Those were hair-raising hours for me, but it still counts as one of my favourite memories from when we were doing the highsec merc thing, if only because it was my first real test and I learned a lot from the experience.