16th April 3301 – 22:51
Third surprise, and most probably the best one yet, the tech team did some fixing on the Cobra MkIII during the night. A brand new top of the line Power Plant, Frame Shift Drive, Fuel Scoop and Discovery Scanner. If I was looking for a reward, it seems I already have it.
Surfacing from the hangar to the docking bay, I had a good look at my destination just before lift off…
So far yet looking so close.
I first jumped from System to System with no real planning, simply heading for the brightest part of the night sky, until reaching another populated System called Atese. A rapid look at the star map and I realized I had reached the fringe of colonized space. It was out of question for me to dock anyway given the cargo I was carrying so I finaly decided to plan a route and set a first stage to my journey.
A very familiar place showed up right in front of me, BRSO 14 in the R CRA Nebula…
This is the perfect opportunity to put my new scanners to the test.
17th April 3301 – 20:17
What once seemed like a giant leap into deep space feels now like I’ve just stepped outside my front door. No doubt the new Frame Shift Drive will explain why I am already here…
I remember the first time I came to this place thinking how nice it would be to see an Earth-Like World in this nebula, so I was quite exited to test out the improved scanners…
Sadly, what I found on my first visit to the R CRA Nebula was all there was to see. I won’t spend as long as last time to contemplate the site and will be on my way.
This is just the beginning.
20th April 3301 – 13:24
The same way I had left the R CRA Nebula to investigate a gigantic star in the Coronae Dark Region on my first expedition, I came across another massive dying star in that same region… Theta Coronae Austrinae…
The fuel scoop engaged as I jumped into the System, this star filled my view yet it was a good 140Ls away from me. In fact, Theta Coronae Austrinae was so big that it completely melted the surface of the nearest planet, 500Ls away from it…
I was stunned by the colossal size of the star at that distance.
But the similarity with my previous trip ends there as I leave the hunt for the Veil West Nebula to remain a hurtful but distant memory, I am now heading to the Parrot’s Head Sector, another step closer to the galactic core.
21st April 3301 – 12:49
Leaping through the COL 359 and M7 Sectors, I wasn’t able to make any significant discoveries until just now. This is the last of the M7 Sector I am probably going to see yet it is likely to fetch me a good price on my return…
This Water World is on the far end of the Goldilock zone and is mostly covered with ice. On the other hand, my computer tells me I am not the first to visit this planet but that was to be expected as Sagittarius A* is a popular destination amongst explorers.
My next jump will get me into the Parrot’s Head Sector. I’ve decided to reduce my jump range during the crossing of that Sector to maximize my chances of finding interesting sites…
I will make a better use of the Frame Shift Drive capability once leaving the Parrot’s Head Sector as I am still very far away from my goal.
21st April 3301 – 20:23
Out of luck…
Well, that pretty much sums up my fifteen first “low range” jumps throughout the Parrot’s Head Sector… a worthless rock drifting around the most common Brown Dwarf in our galaxy.
I did find some microbial forms of life along the way but if there is one thing that my first trip taught me is that life is everywhere. Only the sentient type seems to be either nonexistent or extremely efficient at hiding its presence.
This short spell of misfortune brought me back to what I was doing out there. I didn’t come here to carve my name into some colorful rocky world, nor did I come to find and bring back some data about new terraformable candidates… I came out here to reach the galactic core and deliver a precious payload into the most unstable entity known to man.
So I readjusted my Frame Shift Drive and set course to my next problem…
Sooner or later, I was always going to reach the edge of the Orion-Cygnus Arm I am currently traveling through. I have my doubts as to whether or not I am going to be able to cross the gap to the Carina-Sagittarius Arm in a straight line as the stars in this area seems to be really sparse. We shall soon find out.
22nd April 3301 – 11:21
Traveling in a more or less straight line and a greater jump range got me out of the Parrot’s Head Sector in not time and to my surprise… back in the M7 Sector, or should I say one of the countless M7 Sectors.
As I was investigating the rings of this Brown Dwarf, an unusual site to say the least, the onboard computer started playing up. Something was being activated without my input, and shortly after, a voice came through the Voice Comm System…
Greeting Taylor, this is Hugh Caplin.
If you are listening to this recording, it is safe to say that you have reached the 1000Ly mark away from Bumbindal and towards Sagittarius A*. Our team of engineers, while outfitting your ship for this trip, have also planted this recording on your computer’s mainframe, along with a tracking device to allow us to monitor your progress. It was also a requisite coming from the main patron of this project, should you have chosen to take your ship and its cargo to Sol or Alioth. I am sure you will understand.
But I am sorry to say that the wing of Imperial Clippers that was shadowing you has now turned back to base and that you are now on your own. We are all very exited and proud back here and very confident you will bring this mission to a success.
Good luck out there, Taylor.
_________End Of Recording… Deleting… Recording Deleted__________
One thousand light years already?
That means twenty four more to go so I should better get going.
23rd April 3301 – 0:27
Caplin’s recording left me a little confused… I am not entirely sure the Clippers’ wing he mentioned was ever commissioned for my protection and I still wonder what he was so sorry about. Maybe these are Imperial ways I will never begin to understand. It did although convince me to disable quite a few systems on the ship such as my shields and weaponry in order to achieve a more manageable fuel consumption and heat.
It also cleared all sense of urgency out of me and as much as I have not been wasting time scrubbing the galactic map on the lookout for worthwhile stars so far, I still scan every piece of rock I come across in every system I happen to hop in.
It actually was during a rather long supercruise trip and reaching out to a distant star system in a binary system that I noticed something new…
The bright part of the Milky Way looked somewhat stretched.
I suppose this is a normal phenomenon while traveling to the Galactic Core, but none the less…
23rd April 3301 – 12:03
I have now reached the edge of the Orion-Cygnus Arm and the good news is that the computer came up with a viable route until half way through the gap. There is a good 2500Ly between the two arms so I will have to gamble on the rest of the crossing…
After carefully studying the route to ensure the presence of enough scoopable stars to safely see me through, I noticed that some jumps where going to test the Frame Shift Drive’s limits… I’m only hoping for the second part of the crossing to be at least as dense.
25th April 3301 – 17:38
So far, the crossing has been pretty smooth and straightforward. I am quite confident I will make it to the Carina-Sagittarius Arm without complication, only in my own time.
I still haven’t made any significant discovery but I seem to be traveling on virgin territory at least. None of the last thirty to forty systems I have been through had ever been visited before, so if I do eventually find something, I will most likely be entitle to claim it on my return.
So far, so good… if only I didn’t happen to notice a slight tremor in my left hand recently…
It’s probably nothing but it had me worried for a split second. I am relatively far from civilization after all, and I must admit I don’t feel too well. Maybe those Water-Purifiers aren’t working as they should.
26th April 3301 – 17:19
I ran a test on one of the Water-Purifiers and everything showed up as normal. Yet the trembling in my hand is now turning into a nasty twitch. I actually have to firmly hold the throttle to keep my hand still now.
Maybe I’m just tired. A few minutes ago and while I was scanning a Belt Cluster, I found myself staring at the star above my head…
My mind was slowly drifting, looking at this huge sphere of hydrogen and thinking how an essential element for life could also be such a destructive force.
I don’t know if my mind is playing tricks on me but the star was gradually taking a strange glow…
I might have been staring for a little too long and my head is now hurting slightly. Everything seems normal again and the scanner has finished analyzing the Belt Cluster… but a strange feeling tells me the analysis completed a long time ago.
28th April 3301 – 17:33
I came really close to an abrupt end today.
I was heading towards a faraway star in a binary system to gather datas on its orbiting planets. My head started spinning with my hand clenched on the throttle at maximum speed and a similar glow like the one I experienced two days ago appeared right in front of me…
A violent headache kicked in and paralyzed me… I can’t be sure but I believe I must have lost consciousness for quite a while since the next thing I remember is my ship’s screaming proximity alerts and the star shooting past me at about ten times the speed of light.
This was a close call. But the most worrying thing is that I could have sworn something other than the ship’s computer tried to warn me just as I was about to hit the star. Something or someone… I know I heard it.
Am I losing my head? I am clearly exhausted and will try my best to find some familiar looking rock to orbit around for a few hours or maybe a few days, time to get myself together again.
29th April 3301 – 21:37
Right when I engaged the hyperjump I heard a voice on my right saying “Where the hell are you going?” so I turned to the jumpseat next to me and found it empty…
Of course it was empty and I wonder what led me to believe otherwise. I am indeed drained and ready to drop so the plan remains, find some familiar view and rest. And for once, luck is coming my way. According to my scanner, I have found what I was looking for…
Although devoid of all landmass, this Water World was close enough from what I remembered of LHS 3447 A5 or even Thea for that matter, so I placed the ship on its orbit, cut out engines and all non essential modules and left it to slowly drift…
I will let the ship go around a few times and forget about the mission for a moment. I cannot honestly remember the last time I slept…
1st May 3301 – 12:30
What time is it? Hang on a minute, did I just sleep for two days straight?
First things first, I looked at my hand and the jittering seems to have gone… a bit.
I sat back in the cockpit and initiated a system check. Many of the ship’s modules had been damaged somehow, only I can’t remember and figure out how this could have happened. Confusing as it might be, it isn’t such a great deal but I simply didn’t expect to use the Auto Field Maintenance Unit so early…
I then moved on to the Navigation System and realized that I was seriously off-course. I did make it to the Carina-Sagittarius Arm eventually, not that I could remember actually getting there, but approximatively 1500Ly away from the THAILEIA Sector that I was supposed to get to.
After a meticulous inspection of the ship’s navigational data, it occurred to me that I had constantly been on the move from the beginning of the crossing, following a rather erratic route. Looking closer at the time and dates of each jump, it was clear that there was no place to fit any break. Did this mean I had not slept for nearly a week? It sure seemed so.
Everything was beginning to make sense, and looking at my stock of Water-Purifers and Food Cartridges, it was also apparent I didn’t even eat or drink properly.
Lack of sleep and malnutrition, isolation and most likely some sort of cabin fever, no wonder I felt like losing it.
This brought me to a huge realization, regardless of how many hours I had spent in a cockpit so far, I was still working in a factory assembly line four or five months ago.
I really need to organize myself better than this.
2nd May 3301 – 22:56
I am picturing clearly now how much I have drifted from my original course. But this mishap came with its own reward, I am now completely off the beaten track and cruising as a result through strictly unexplored space.
This might not last too long since I spotted on the map a good first stage to the rest of my expedition, the nearby Omega Nebula…
I thought at first that I could see it in the distance, but after computing the course in the navigation system, I understood I was probably looking at the Eagle Nebula, a little further away…
I will need to establish several checkpoints like this one to avoid anymore misfortune, the same way I have now set regular reminders to keep track of time and avoid getting carried away; reminders like the alarm bleeping now, telling me that I should be getting some sleep.
I am certainly not tired but I will not push my luck this time.
5th May 3301 – 12:33
This looks more like it…
As the Omega Nebula gradually appeared in front of me, so did what seemed to be a massive cluster of main sequenced stars. These might explain why I could not see the Nebula in the first place, a simple case of backlighting, given the luminosity of this cluster.
If my memory serves me well, I did find the most interesting bodies to be orbiting these types of stars.
It would be a shame to not swing by this region after the Omega Nebula sightseeing stop.
5th May 3301 – 22:27
What a sight! Cruising within nebulae will never fail to impress me. I could stay here forever, once again.
This one is a lot bigger than what I previously experienced with the R CRA Nebula. If I had to guess and at first glance, there are probably just over fifty star systems inside the dust cloud, but I don’t feel like exploring it in depth as I couldn’t find anything significant delving in.
My eye is on the near cluster and its multitude of interesting and promising looking stars…
I will head for this area and remain there for as long as I can scan interesting things.
I have made it a fifth of the way to Sagittarius A*, and with nearly 20.000Ly to go, I could use some time for myself and collect some data to cash in on my return.
9th May 3301 – 9:57
I can see why regions like this are popular amongst explorers, or at least those after the big bucks.
Not only the main stars are cluttered together in a small area of the galaxy, but also within their own system. It seems to be the destination of choice if one is looking to scan a maximum of stars in a minimum of time.
There are literally tens of thousands of these in a relatively limited area, and the older types of stars usually end up orbiting the main sequenced ones in systems like this one…
I had been roaming around this sector for days now, satisfying my greed, until today’s jump.
While refueling, I activated my scanner to map out the system and for a minute, I thought of a glitch when the holographic image displayed something quite unusual…
I was incapable of seeing anything while approaching the anomaly. Only the stars in the background began to move in a very weird fashion, but even once a few light seconds out, I could not see anything. I turned the ship about to use the milky way’s light in order to reveal what was now extremely close when everything around me suddenly became distorted. With no idea of where I was going, I immediately exited out of supercruise…
A black hole.
Absolutly everything around me was warped to the point I could only rely on my instruments to avoid getting too close and eventually steer out of danger.
This encounter came as a reminder of the purpose of this expedition and invited me to leave the area and concentrate on my destination once again.
9th May 3301 – 19:31
A few hours after getting back into my regular routine, I spotted the fainted Omega Nebula again, next to the riches laden star field I had spent the last few days in.
It was already looking so distant even though I had long given up on rushing towards my goal, being babysat by the onboard computer reminding me now when to sleep or eat. Heck, I had even programmed it to advise me on stretching exercises during those long supercruises in binary systems.
The Eagle Nebula I had mistaken last week for the Omega Nebula was now right in front of me and felt like the perfect second stage to the trip…
It wasn’t too much of a detour and would make an ideal break given how much I had enjoyed visiting nebulae so far.
It is just over 1000Ly away and should not take me too long now.
10th May 3301 – 16:07
Steadily but surely, I am progressing towards the Eagle Sector.
I knew right away, after jumping into this new system that I had made an unusual find…
These two terrestrial Water Worlds were orbiting each other, one tidally locked to the other very much like the Moon is to the Earth in the Sol system. Both terraformable, one even had an atmosphere of nearly 90% oxygen.
This will definitely be a valuable find to report back to civilization.
Closing in on these two Water Worlds, I noticed the Eagle Nebula in the distance. I am only a few hundred light years from the nebula now and I am confident I should be able to get there before the end of the day.
11th May 3301 – 19:58
I did not make it to the Eagle Sector last night in the end, but I made the jump this morning after waking up and indulging myself with a printed egg and bacon cartridge.
There is again a star cluster to visit, but this time, nested within the nebula and making for a majestic view at every stop.
So I spent the day visiting this massive nebula, once looking so small, and jumping from one system to another, I came upon another unsuspected site…
Another Water World, but when you would think to have seen them all, this one was lodged in the middle of a rocky asteroid ring. I didn’t even know this to be possible. The planet itself was a satellite of a nearby class III gas giant and its own ring system.
I think I’m going to stick around a little while longer and enjoy the view.
There are nearly 7000Ly between me and Hugh Caplin now and I’m sure he wouldn’t mind me taking another break. I am slowly realizing the magnitude of this journey.
13th May 3301 – 10:10
I have left the Eagle Sector yesterday to focus again on my main objective.
Plotting a route through the next few hundred light years towards Sagittarius A*, I began to assimilate how far from home I already was. I thought of my family, and for the first time in five months, I targeted home and LHS 3447.
7120Ly, a distance I still find difficult to fathom. Even the onboard computer could not point me in the general direction anymore. I can see what I believe to be the Orion Nebula and the Barnard Loop disappearing in the distance. They used to look so big I remember thinking as a kid they actually were at arm’s reach within the LHS 3447 System.
For crying out loud, I used to get lost in Dalton’s Gateway not so long ago, and look at me now…
I left on this journey nearly one month ago now and I only crossed a tiny fraction of our Milky Way. To say that we are small is an understatement. I think I’m going to be sick. Being alone in the limited space of this ship doesn’t help and although I have enough supplies for another year, I don’t know if I am cut out for this trip… But I can’t turn back, not with the cargo I am transporting I can’t.
I never should have looked up the LHS 3447 System.
God, I miss my folks.
14th May 3301 – 16:35
I started a game of chess with the computer.
Not that I am any good at it but my grandfather used to let me win when I was still a child. As he was teaching me some of the moves and basic strategies, he was always trying to include valuable life lessons about anticipation or sacrifice. None of this really soaked in to be honest, all I remember is his comforting figure while we were playing at his kitchen table.
I don’t really enjoy chess for a start but it will distract from my lonesomeness and break the monotony during supercruise.
I looked up through the canopy for a second and the Milky Way caught my eye again. It had spread significantly compared to the last time I actually paid attention to it.
The computer is a lot less forgiving than Taylor senior used to be, I’ve already lost my queen.
21st May 3301 – 13:09
I could tell straight away from the map that I was onto something good. Within a few minutes, I was in a relatively low orbit around this World for further examination.
What a sight, but not only a pretty one as the surface scan brought some outstanding details about this planet. The air was breathable for a start and the temperature in some parts was close to the one provided by the life support unit on the ship, this in itself was an incredible discovery. Even more astonishing was the evidence of an indigenous life. There was a new, undiscovered sentient form of life down there. Once again I felt the urge of descending to the surface but I knew the CobraMkIII wouldn’t survive the atmospheric entry.
24th May 3301 – 16:02
10,000Ly out and another 15,000 to go.
Since I am now spending a lot more time sleeping and looking after myself in general, I would have expected my progress to slow down significantly. Quite the contrary in fact as it turns out I am more efficient and regular than ever, but I still cannot figure out any E.T.A. yet.
To celebrate this new milestone, I treated myself with a much needed clean shave this morning and spent the rest of the day relaxing while looking out in the distance. I can see my goal is a lot brighter now. It looks so close…
It is just past 4pm now and I still have time for quite a few jumps before the end of the day. I feel pretty good I have to say, lonely… but good.
Time to go now.
28th May 3301 – 13:39
I woke up this morning still sitting in the jumpseat…
I must have fallen asleep last night while scrubbing the Galaxy Map in preparation for today’s part of the trip. I will never get used to waking up in the darkness of space. If it wasn’t for the computer informing me of the time and date, I would have happily believed having slept only five minutes.
After breakfast and some exercise, I got back into the cockpit and resumed course to Sagittarius A*. I don’t know if it is the distance already covered or the healthier routine I had put in place, but I was now convinced in my chances of reaching the core and delivering my payload. I was no longer uneasy with the idea of venturing so faraway from civilization. I knew I was in for the long haul and felt free of all sense of urgency. In fact, I was now traveling in a rather pleasant state of zen.
The Milky Way, once only a scratch in the night sky was now blinding me as I was progressing towards the core…
It was now surrounding me, wrapping itself around my ship like a warm blanket.
I am halfway there and feeling great,
Hugh, if you can hear me…
1st June 3301 – 20:19
Lucky I wasn’t day dreaming arriving in this system…
If by any chance, rust had miraculously been building up on the cooling vents, it sure has gone by now. With a little bit of luck and some self-control, I was quickly out of danger but I understand now why the engineers at Watson Port refitted the ship with a Mirrored Surface Composite alloy before my departure.
I also noticed, after one of my countless chess game loss, that the density of stars around me had drastically increased…
I know this was to be expected, considering how close I’m getting to the Galactic Core, and I’m sure it is about to become a lot crazier.
On a more pragmatic note, and with the data at hand, I now believe I should be reaching my destination sometime in the next couple of weeks. Sagittarius A* being still at a respectful distance of 10,648.93Ly.
6th June 3301 – 11:23
During my daily system inspection before setting off this morning, I picked up a new signal.
I thought of a new recording from Caplin at first, but the translated data revealed something else entirely:
Now, this was unexpected. It would seem that Galnet has revolutionized its broadcasting system. How in hell did they manage to send their feed all the way out here is a complete mystery and an astounding feat.
So Halsey is most likely dead and we have a new president… not that I really cared for her anyway, but I didn’t expect things to be moving this quick in such a short space of time.
As much as I always liked keeping clear from politics, this limited contact with civilization gave me a significant lift. I tried to look for the sport section, curious as to how the LHS 3447 Rollerball team was doing but wasn’t so lucky.
I clearly have a lot of catching up to do and this should help me through the rest of my journey.
7th June 3301 – 9:18
It did become a lot crazier, as suspected. There are so many stars around, it’s almost impossible to identify what’s in the immediate vicinity without the help of the scanners.
But in all this cluttered mess, something showed up in the distance that I could have easily missed…
It could have been a close Gas Giant or a blue Type O star, but my instruments were indicating nothing ahead. So I decided to investigate the surrounding region on the Galaxy Map…
Strange phenomenon to say the least.
Focused on Sagittarius A* and my cargo, I had recently been zipping past Nebulae to avoid unnecessary detours but this is right in front of me and just over 100Ly away.
I’m heading there right now.
7th June 3301 – 17:47
There’s a Neutron star about 10Ly in front of me, but what is causing this micro-nebula occurrence, I have no idea…
My god this is really close… Yet I can’t see a thing.
There is something very eerie about this nebula. I was so used to the bright surroundings being so close to the Galactic Core, it feels like I’ve jumped into a dream…
… And I’m looking right at death.
Stunning as it is, I’ve scanned the creepy thing and left.
I am so close, impatience is getting the better of me.
9th June 3301 – 15:39
This is it… the end of the road.
Sagittarius A* is no longer the unreachable goal that it was when I left Watson Port. My scanner finally picked its signature…
In a few hours, I shall be able to plot a valid course to it. I never thought this day would ever come.
Having read about improbable bandit activity near the core, I’ve now powered my shields and weapons. I also ran a test on the Torpedo Pylon and everything seems to be working just fine, despite the little damage inflicted on the module along the trip.
11th June 3301 – 10:39
I can hardly believe I have finally made it. But the excitement and pride I felt while still in witchspace turned into sheer panic as soon as I jumped in. I had seen a black hole before but nothing of this magnitude, I felt sick in my stomach.
I knew I could no longer trust my senses and turned the ship away as soon as I could. I needed to regroup.
Once at a respectable distance from Sagittarius A* and after allowing some time for my heartbeat to slow down, I circled around this monstrosity to gauge its size.
As much as I did think everything through during the last few days, my plan of action had completely escaped me now. I decided to approach the supermassive black hole until the first sign of danger and dropped out of supercruise.
I activated the Auto Field Maintenance Unit to perform the last repairs on the Torpedo Pylon, I didn’t want the probe to misfire.
I stared at Sagittarius A* for a few seconds before firing the probe, maybe a few minutes…
The torpedo went haywire as soon as I pressed the trigger and my heart jumped again, but the probe signal on my radar confirmed that it was following a straight course… and soon disappeared.
Did this mean Caplin’s probe was now traveling through the wormhole, or already trying to emit from another galaxy, billions of light years away? It could as well have been destroyed the second it went off my radar, there was no way to know for sure and I had to assume the mission was a success.
Now the Prototype Relay Unit was still sitting in my cargo hold so I looked for the nearest system to make the delivery…
STUEMEAE KM-W C1-8086 is as close as it gets.
I am now leaving this dreadful place to finish the job.
11th June 3301 – 22:35
This place is perfect. It is relatively near from Sagittarius A* and the closest planet, not only having already been discovered, is at a good distance from the main star.
This will surely decrease the chances of future explorers to come and snoop around, allowing the Prototype Relay Unit to orbit this low profile planet unnoticed, for many years to come.
After a few minutes in supercruise, I finally reached my destination and placed the CobraMkIII into orbit. I initiated a repair sequence on the cargo hatch and released the Relay Unit into space…
Once again, I had no way of testing if the Prototype Relay Unit was operational and whilst turning my ship around, I took a good look at it and noticed a green flashing light.
This would have to do. Mission accomplished… I guess.
A kept an eye on my communication systems as I was moving away from the drop zone, hoping for it to activate magically like it did when playing Caplin’s recording shortly after I left Bumbindal. But nothing happened.
I suddenly realized how far I was from home and that I’d already been out there for nearly two months. Oh yes, I have more than enough supplies to see me back and the ship is in a relatively good shape but the silence of the comms system got to me. I felt lonely before, but never in a sickening way like today.