I've commanded small fleets of T1 cruisers or interceptors before, but today I found myself flying a Gankerax in command of a fleet that included a Blackbird, an Arazu, a Huginn, a Malediction, a Hurricane, a Merlin, and a Stiletto--all piloted by blood-thirsty members of the Ministry of Destruction. Ignoring the odd frigate or destroyer up to no good at an asteroid belt, I charted a course for adventure.
First we dipped our toe into Old Man Star, a known hangout for pirates and cutthroats. Our scout in the Malediction spotted several juicy targets, including a Taranis that was dogging his steps as he warped from vantage point to vantage point. I instructed the fleet to stand by on the gates into the system, and told the Malediction pilot to linger longer at his next stop; when he felt the Taranis was on his way, he gave the word and we all jumped into the system and warped to his location. Unfortunately, the Taranis webbed our scout and popped him in short order, and while a couple of our fleet members managed to web and jam him, the Taranis made it out before anyone could disrupt his warp engines. MOD 0, bad guys 1.
I set a course for Oulley, and we hunted our way in that direction. Local bad boys from the Dead Parrots and Starbucks kept a low profile. The other combat corps seemed to be taking it easy in well-defended space stations; I like to think they were quivering in fear of our mighty fleet, but it could be they were simply sleeping off a party from earlier encounters where they ruled the field.
Then our scout reported a gate camp on the Agoze gate in Vey; an Armageddon, a Harbinger, a Hurricane, and a Tempest from the ParadoXon alliance. Our Blackbird had all racial jammers except Amarr, so I laid out a plan wherein he would jam the Hurricane and Tempest while the rest of us primaried the Armaggedon. Inexperienced as I was, I opened the floor for alternative suggestions, but none were put forward. On my command, we jumped through the gate; once everyone was in, we dropped cloaked and put the plan into action.
Immediately, things began to sour. Have you spotted my fatal mistake yet?
Pilots began to spam comms with reports of taking heavy damage and imminent death. I ordered a stop to those reports, pleading for useful intelligence. Then it came, perhaps 30 seconds into the engagement: people were taking fire from sentry guns. I had ordered the fleet to open fire on neutral ships at a jump gate! Our Arazu went down, then the Blackbird. I ordered all pilots to get out immediately; I myself was primaried by this time, and could only pound my command console as my warp engines and impulse drives were scrammed and webbed. While my Thorax was doomed, I was at least able to pilot my escape pod out of the engagement before any of those lucky ParadoXon dogs could claim the bounty on my head.
I don't know if you can imagine with what heavy heart I pondered, sitting at a lonely spot in Vey space, the damage I had done this day to my mates in the Ministry of Destruction. Their professionalism was reflected in the fact that they executed the plan with full trust in their fleet commander, initiating hostilities against ships protected by the powers that be. Ships fit to levels I couldn't afford were turned into scrapmetal, pilots with skills I can't fathom found themselves waking up in some cold clone vat bay.
I hope someday to become a pirate fleet commander of some repute. May I find the fortitude to endure the burden of command. And may I learn more from the mistakes of others.