March 16, 3303,
Taurus Dark Region - en route to the California Nebula
After the incident at Lalande 27055 on the 15th, I felt I needed time to recover and center myself. I had more than enough credits to upgrade my frame shift drive, an operation that took about a day for the engineers at D'eyncourt Gateway. The new 4B drive almost doubled my jump range. After a short test cruise, I decided that the best way to get some peace and quiet was to head out of the Bubble again.
I selected Bellatrix as my destination, a trip that took me an hour and a half to complete. It would have been shorter, but I chose to stop at a few locations along the way for scans. Hip 25814 was the longest of my stopovers, as well as the last one before my destination. The fifth planet there was a Class IV gas giant that had a beautiful set of rings, as well as a grouping of white clouds on its equator. I took those clouds to be the result of ring material falling into the gas giant, the water and other volatiles providing some much needed contrast to the planet's dark magenta coloring.
After reaching Bellatrix, which held only the star itself, I popped into a few neighboring systems, scanning almost absent-mindedly as I mulled over my future. For a time, I considered renouncing the weapons on my craft, choosing never to fight again. I'd heard of explorers who'd done exactly that, though more for the need to shed "useless mass" and increase jump range than for any emotional reason. The words of a certain religious text came to mind: "If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away..."
And yet... It is clear that life, both in and out of the Bubble, can be a violent one. Between the pirates at the Bubble's edge, and the political and military jousting of the major powers, I was certain to encounter more combat, and I may not always have a friendly police force to protect me as I did that day. And not just me - on my way to Bellatrix, I encountered the remains of a destroyed ship. Rescue vessels, belonging to no faction I recognized, jumped in not long after I arrived, searching for survivors. We left each other alone as they continued their tasks, and eventually they jumped out again, finding no-one to rescue, and having to settle for salvaging what cargo and material they could.
Out here, pilots and ships had little protection beyond what their technology offered. Someday, someone might need help, and if I was there, and unable to give it...
I would keep the weapons, I decided. While I would not look for conflict; if it should find me, or strike at defenseless people nearby that I could help, then I would fight in defense.
My decision made, I thought of returning to the Bubble, but not just yet. I decided to push my ship to its limit, and set course for the California Nebula. There is an Alliance research base located there, and the trip - a good 800 light years from Bellatrix - would take only three hours. Longer, if I decided to sightsee along the way.
Besides, although this region of space appears well-mapped, I doubt anyone has attempted the crossing to the nebula from Bellatrix. I might just find something new on this trip.