Entry 4 - Mediations on illusion.
March 12, 3303,
Wregoe XC-Z C27-8 A 1
Which is more illusory, distance or nearness? I've had close to two hours to contemplate that question, and I'm leaning towards the opinion that distance is more illusory than nearness.
I'm two jumps away from my destination on this expedition, currently resting on the first landable high-metal content planet I've found on my journey so far. It's my third planetfall since leaving the Bubble, but the first one where I've encountered no human presence. My first planetfall found a cache of supplies guarded by some skimmers, and a pirate Viper which passed me over when its pilot realized I had no cargo to steal. My second planetfall found a crashed nav-beacon, guarded by a solitary skimmer with a bad attitude. It was my first real combat situation where running was feasible, and I'm pleased to say I acquitted myself admirably. I scanned the beacon, uncovering some data that I suspect the Federation would want.
But here... nothing. No ships, no skimmers or probes. The planet had been tagged by another - I was not the first to visit this system - but I wonder if anyone had ever bothered to land on this world before I arrived.
I chose a crater somewhere on the equator for my landing spot, flying low over the surface to see if I could pick up any signals that may indicate points of interest. When I found nothing, I brought the Forbidden Seas to what seemed a suitable landing spot near the crater's center. It was that landing that started my thoughts on the illusion of distance.
I departed the ship on landing and was immediately greeted by a warning that my SRV's hull had been damaged. The supposedly smooth ground was rougher than it appeared, and I decided to dismiss my ship. I would work my way out of the crater towards smoother ground, and recall the ship there. Thus began a two hour journey over rough terrain, with sensor echoes frustrating my search for materials. I was able to find four outcrops - one of which didn't display the usual scanner trace - and a metallic meteorite - and plenty of signs of other minerals that were not picked up from my low pass. Another illusion - a land of plenty that seems barren from afar.
The two hour trek out of the crater was thankfully uneventful, though there were times in the last hour that I felt more like a mountain goat than a man. But there were no real dangers to occupy my attention, and so my thoughts drifted to a different set of illusions; those of politics.
From the earliest days of spaceflight, explorers have often reported a sense of detachment from the squabbles of those they left behind. The grandness of the cosmos makes our efforts seem insignificant by comparison. But when politics stretches across space, the distance between powerful people and those they rule also provides its own illusions.
One system I visited on the edge of the bubble sits foremost in my mind; Wapatis, a barely colonized independent system bordering Federation space. I had to touch down at one of the outposts there for fuel and to get my bearings. I found signs of civil war and famine - what law was present here was spread thin, and there were no agricultural economies within fifteen light-years of the system. It broke my heart to leave without helping - but I had no means to alleviate the suffering there.
Could anyone help? The Federation was closest, but the corporations behind it may not see profit in aid. Besides, their President seems more interested in sabre-rattling than in helping the less fortunate, and if the rumors of alien ships are to be believed, that action could put us all at risk. The Empire might help out of a sense of honor, but I wondered how many people would find themselves enslaved? I know there are those in the Empire that argue against slavery, and I wish them well; but I also know there are those who would fight to preserve that deplorable institution.
And what of the Alliance, my "home and native space" as it were? Our diversity can be both a strength and a weakness. Each world can live as it pleases, but sometimes our worlds focus too much on their own concerns, and ignore or even work at cross-purposes to our fellow member-cultures. Even our Prime Minister Mahon's unchallenged position in Alliance politics seems illusory. We don't have the political infighting that the Federation and the Empire have, and so have nothing to distract us; but the fact no other politicians have risen to challenge him bothers me. Are we truly lacking in political talent that we have no real great leaders? Are those skilled in politics more concerned about their own worlds than the welfare of the Alliance overall? Whatever the answer, systems like Wapatis remain as likely to fall in the cracks in the Alliance as they would be exploited by either the Federation or the Empire.
Perhaps there is no ideal government, no perfect ideology, that can give humanity the peace and prosperity we desire. Perhaps the best we can do is to insure the progress we make is not lost.
And on the subject of progress, it is time for me to close this log entry and resume my journey. Two jumps left.