Seeing a route to Beagle Point, reaching the system in one piece, and being able to see just how far we are from home were all incredible feelings.
65,256ly from home.
We scanned the system, as is customary when reaching landmark systems like this. It's not quite what we expected. I thought Erimus would have picked a fancier location to have the finale of Distant Worlds.
It is however a GREEN system. Having all the Jumponium materials required for a grade 3 boost. Which is kind of a good thing considering how we used our final boost to reach Beagle Point. There is a makeshift camp on Beagle Point 2, the first landable planet in the system where Explorers who have made the trip park themselves for a short while, but it's nothing special. We spent some time with them before moving out to Beagle Point 7, which is the only planet in the system with Polonium.
Whilst searching to replenish our J3 supply was our top priority, we also took some time to plot our route back out of Beagle Point and get back to a stage in the galactic arm where we could plot sustainable routes over long distances. That system would be Iorant FN-B c13-0. We were able to retrace our entrance steps to Beagle Point, thus allowing us to return to a known point of travel, and allow us to move to an area we knew we could advance across. From here we were able to get a full 1000ly plot out across the galactic arm, and start heading towards an area known as "The Sublustris Beacon".
Coming home we turned out attention to our list of objectives. We had achieved our two main objectives - Visit Sagittarius A* and Beagle Point. We had achieved three "special objectives" - Visit our first Neutron Star, tag an unclaimed one, and complete our first Neutron Jump; Visit our first Black Hole (Sagittarius A* doesn't count for this), and tag an unclaimed one. This left us with four remaining "special objectives" - Visit and tag an unclaimed White Dwarf star, complete a charged jump from one; Visit our first Wolf Rayet star, and tag an unclaimed one; Tag an unclaimed planetary nebula; and Tag a stellar nebula.
There was also another big thought at the back of our minds. Achieving Elite Exploration Rank. To get this, It is believed to require over 150 million credits in exploration data earned. The final rank, Pioneer, requires 100 million to complete and achieve Elite status. Thus we would have to scan an enormous amount of things on our round trip home from Colonia.
We identified three Nebula's to visit on the way home, taking the galactic east side of the core. We also set ourselves the goal of scanning every system with an unclaimed Water World, Earth Like World, Ammonia World, Neutron Star, Black Hole, White Dwarf, and any system which had a number of High Metal Content worlds.
Finding these things would prove to be awkward in the run in to The Sublustris Beacon, since we were running the route many took to reach Beagle Point. It didn't however stop us claiming some Water Worlds early on.
Both of those existed in systems already tagged by other explorers. I can only assume reaching Beagle Point was the main focus of their trip, and thus leaving these in an effort to speed up their trips. We however will happily take them, given our new overarching objective of achieving Elite Exploration Rank. Approaching our return trip like this absolutely delayed our arrival home - as we easily could have banked the distance if we went flat out - something I excel at and would be more than happy with given the experience of The Abyss - but I'm also happy knowing we are working towards a goal, and this data will make it's way into the hands of someone with a use for it in The Empire. I did mention earlier that we've been passing some of the time by speccing builds we'd like to create when we get home, and we finally have a working document for which engineer upgrades will be applied to which ship. We'd also like to see about unlocking the remainder of the engineers sometime soon.
We reached and passed The Sublustris Beacon, and indeed made it some way across The Abyss, entirely without issue this time I may add, no Jumponium of any grade was used in crossing.
We discovered a number of Water Worlds, Terraforming Candidates, and an Earth Like World:
The Earth Like System also had a terrestrial Water World.
The pictures courtesy of our Fighter payload, which hasn't really seen too much use sadly. We tried to make use on our way home, but we couldn't stay and admire the view, we were wanting to get home sooner than later at this point. Finds like these would significantly boost our progress toward Elite Rank.
We added some more Water Worlds to our collection as we finally made it out of The Abyss using a general route provided by CMDR Wishblend, albeit it only served as a rough guide, our route plotting computer did the work without issue. One of the last things we saw from The Abyss is arguably the coolest thing of the trip - and witnessed entirely on accident:
Entered into the system, immediately began fuel scooping from the star right behind us, Neutron infront, and two stars further out in a binary peeking over the centre of the pulsar. Accidental Neutron number 2, but this time we didn't Neutron jump, since it would mess with our route.
We made rapid progress having left The Abyss, heading toward another earmarked nebula to hopefully tag our name on. For a time, we made the choice to filter out M class stars, given that we had encountered an incredible number of them, and they had little of note in them. The trade off for this choice was an extra three jumps or so per 1000ly, totally acceptable in our eyes, since the positive gain was more things like this:
We also beat a personal record. By this point we had found plenty of triple Water World systems. This time however, we beat said record.
Only the first was a Terraforming Candidate, but to find four in a single system, along with the many many others we found in nearby systems on our route homeward would fire us a long way to getting Elite Exploration Rank. On Friday the 7th, we found another Quadruple WW system, and our decision to filter out M class stars and non scoopables began paying off big time. We found 8 Earth Like Worlds. Eight. Thats us found the same number of ELW in a day than we had found in all previous trips. We stopped stopping by them for pictures because it was adding hours, days to our trip. We had hoped to be home by this point, but it took an extensive period of time to scan everything in these systems. We began to be more picky again about scanning after spending so long on our way home.
We continued to find Earth Likes en route to the nebula we bookmarked as a return trip target. Surprise surprise, it was also tagged. We got the idea, and decided it would be better to just give up on tagging any nebulae this trip and focus on returning home. There was however a field of Neutron and White Dwarf stars nearby, which we scanned some of.
The following day we set about breaking a record - previously, on our first trip to Colonia, we managed 427 jumps in a day on September 9th, which was the day we arrived at Jaques. We have come close twice in this trip - 425 on March 30th, whilst firing out towards The Abyss, and 411 the day after being at Beagle Point, April 4th. So we had to break 428 jumps in a day, which we worked out to be roughly 12000ly distance in order to be sure of it. We spent all day jumping, at times burning our ship with the heat from activating the FSD too early. We used all our Heat Sinks - accidentally firing the last one off just before The Sublustris Beacon. Cooking the ship meant we would have to use the dual AFMU's we brought along with us to repair the damage at the end of the day after finishing our break attempt. Our Power Plant and our Hull were running quite low by this point. Well, low is subjective - 92% Hull and 89% Power Plant, neither of which could be repaired by the AFMU's and as such were our limiting factors for deciding when enough would be enough - but thankfully it never got to that point. During this intense jump day, we didn't scan a thing. We activated the Advanced Discovery Scanner in every system, but we never once opened the System Map, meaning without us individually reviewing every system we jumped to, we wouldn't ever know if we missed something special. In the wake of the gold rush of Earth Likes the days prior, we intentionally missed two out the night before we reached that nebula, simply in order to try and make some better progress - since we'd been hammering at this journey non stop all week with little in the way of breaks. Scanning planets just delayed our return, and we had begun to think that Elite Exploration wouldn't come from this trip - but to be honest we had no idea how close we would get until we docked and sold the data.
The end of our trip took us to this vista. We dropped into the rings of this gas giant without scanning it - although we could tell it had water based life in it thanks to some subtle sound cues. We undertook a lengthy repair stint using our AFMU's, repairing all the modules we could.
The end result? 551 jumps. We absolutely roasted the record, and honestly we think we could beat it again. We got into a good rhythm of jumping quickly, even if it damaged the ship, and boy did it pay off. We brute forced 16000ly in that blast, and brought our time home travel down heavily, probably by a few days at least. It was at the sacrifice of progress toward Elite Exploration, but by this point we were more interested in getting home.
The following day we continued to make significant progress. We covered another 11000ly following a late start which was a result of us sleeping in following the concentration and effort of the day before. We once again adopted the position of not looking at the system map to keep our speed up.
As we neared to home we began suffering ship operating system failures. Numerous times we were dropped out of supercruise by the ships computer, as if it registered me having done so, despite me not touching those controls. Then our AFMU's locked up, and refused to repair anything. By this point we were just dying to get home and hosed, back in the Safety of Imperial territory.
And finally we did. We sacrificed so much in the way of scanning data, but it sped up our arrival probably by a few weeks at least.
Such a pairing of welcome sights. Capitol, and Dawes Hub.
Commanders Mathew and Katie of Tegalus - April 12th 3303 20:30 Galactic Standard Time (GST)