The heavy door to my quarters fell shut behind me, and I slumped onto the floor next to it, leaning back against a wall. Already the first pangs of regret for my earlier outburst were beginning to seep in, but a swig of this extraordinarily exquisite brandy managed to keep them at bay.
…rrright, I’ll probably had to compensate ONS for this bottle of brandy, plus any damage I might have caused to their lounge. I might also have to apologize to that Detei which I had almost hit with my helmet.
And this year had begun so well! After Kitten had set my head straight, I had called in to take my yearly Navy Reserve service early, to return back to space fresh and re-invigorated. And for a while it had worked: with renewed energy I had begun shuttling out the ships which I had left behind in Sasiekko when I left Factional Warfare over a year ago.
Of course, I could have just contracted the ships to one of the major shipping corporations, but where is the fun in that? No, my plan had been to fly them one by one from Sasiekko to our new home, all the 20-or-so jumps through lo-sec, seeking fights along the way. And fights I got! One my very first journey, I had to play cat-and-mouse with a roving gate camp in Molden Heath; on subsequent trips I lost a fight with a Comet; underestimated an Exequror; and raised the ire of a Grandpa who yelled ‘Get Off My Lawn’, fired his shotgun, and then his family piled on as well.
And most recently the brawl in the large Amarr compound: I had warped my glass-cannon Harbinger onto a duel between a Malediction and an Atron, and happily started shooting both of them. The Malediction started shooting back, word spread fast, and the brawl turned into an exciting 9-way fight, with my Harbinger in the middle, dishing out as well as it took. In hindsight, I should have kept my ECM drones on the Malediction, while concentrating my fire on the Jaguar which had snuck up onto me - but overall, I had fared better than I initially expected.
But - and I took another drink from the bottle - when I later looked at my official combat record, I saw many kills I didn’t remember being involved in. It had taken me a few minutes to remember that those had been done on our open roams, like that big Drake fight. Roams in which I had been increasingly disinterested in bringing the requested ship types, or in paying attention; disinterested even up to the point that I’d disengage my weapons early to make sure that I would not get that final blow.
It had then come to a head on our Assault Frigate roam just that night. Commanded by John Hexis, who had shown himself to be as good at FCing as he was at scouting, he had led our merry band through a number of fights already, when eventually we came across a lone Brave Tristan at a gate. Sensibly, John ordered the fleet to move on, but I chaved: This could have been an interesting solo fight - a fight I could even have won - but on the other hand going against the FCs orders could bring the whole fleet in jeopardy, and would at minimum undermine John’s authority.
Something had snapped in me at that moment, and I unceremoniously dropped from the fleet right there and then: I would have become a liability to them if I had continued. I must have sat there at the gate for a good half hour, brooding, not moving, before finally a random pilot had guts and engaged me. Had I been paying attention, I maybe could have won - but even so, getting him into low structure even after he had a half minute head start was still something.
I didn’t remember how I got back to base; my next conscious recollection was throwing my combat helmet across the ONS lounge, and walking out with their brandy.
…of which there was still about half left. Good!
I closed my eyes, leaned back against the solid comfort of the wall. I loved this alliance and its people - it was finally a place I was able to call home again. It was good to again have stuff which I could help to defend, good to have people rallying at the spur of the moment, good to have people I liked being around with. People I didn’t want to let down. But as tonight had shown, I could no longer do roams as regular activity, even though they were a large part of our alliance’ mission. Yet at the same time I was too painfully aware that I still sucked at flying solo, and probably always would be. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
I took another drink.