Things keep popping up! A new jaunt and a little bit nervous about this one, it's been a good long time since I did anything like this so it's kinda exciting, but by the same token really not looking forward to some of it!
I was enjoying my cruise back from the north, but in order to be sure of completing this new challenge in time to board the Gnosis, I had to be in the bubble yesterday evening, so had to do something I hate and never do - ride the suicidey express. Unfortunately my earliest eta in the bubble would have been the 29th otherwise and I'm already pushing it leaving now, given my work schedule! So I'm sorry to say but all that well-travelled booze has gone (see earlier log) but if I get back in time, I'll do the run again.
ANYHOW - I figured I'd jump on the Downtime Bandwagon and quickly scribble some blurb, since things will be rather busy over the next week or so! I'll pop some acknowledgements at the end since I owe some guys bigtime!
Here we go again...
I'm sat out here in Outopps, about one-and-a-half thousand light years outside the bubble heading south-west. The ship is dark at the moment, as I'm running a full systems check - which unfortunately will take several hours! But it's a necessary evil; this crate is brand new, literally hammered together just a handful of hours ago - and its about to rack up quite a few light years in very little time! So although prudence is probably out to lunch at this point, I'm going to do what I can to make sure I don't kerplode.
Let me catch up; last log, my trusty co-pilot Coral was driving the Ylva up to our ELW paradise up near the Core and for the first time, I was a passenger! Which was initially fun, then boring, but all the time great to see Coral sat in the hot seat, clearly enjoying the heck out of piloting that big beautiful Beluga. She was running SO much colder now, but even so, getting the timing perfect on the scooping and juggling the heat on the coronal exit wasn't a do-it-in-your-sleep affair!
We smoothly cruised up to just short of the core and decided to pop our nose in on "Planet Bubblegum" again, since we were in the area. This one won't get old in a hurry - very bizarre but one of the more fun things I'd seen in my travels
Freshly pinkified, we carried on. The plan had been to head to Marimba, our tropical earth-like hidey hole; slight change of plan though. We decided we'd take her up north, hit Ishum's then spin around and hit the beaches on the way home. So off we scooted and as bizarre as it felt in a Beluga of all things, the northern half of the galaxy just disappeared under our hull. We weren't far off at all when I spotted these two fun little guys in pretty tight orbit of one another, so while we took a quick break, I managed to snap a pic or two.
A few more jumps - and another earth-like, relatively close to Beagle. It's funny - however "crowded" or busy the galaxy gets, even on the highways you find the odd unnoticed little gem - or in this case big fat huge honking knee-crushing spine-mangling gem! This was a big girl as earth-likes go; and whilst she looked very pretty, I wouldn't want to vacation in a place that made me feel like I was carrying a truck - sunbathing at four-and-a-half of earth's gravity didn't sound so relaxing to me!
We were getting ever closer, but the galaxy kept putting fun stuff in our way to trip us up! Popping into a system with a landable two light seconds from the primary seemed a good place to take a rest, grab a coffee resupply and a quick nap before carrying on. Landing a Beluga with hair-dryers for thrusters on a high gravity world isn't the easiest of propositions but Coral managed it like a champ and the view was certainly worth it. It's hard to say at what point in its cycle this star was in, but it certainly seemed rather active and if this was "stellar minimum", I wouldn't want to be standing around on this dustball come its maximum!
Onwards! Up past Pooch Point, a bit of pinballing around and we were up at the Oevasy end-of-the-road. Coral was absolutely beat at this point, so with a "mission accomplished", she went off to hit the hay. She'd done a fantastic job, but part of me was (guiltily!) grateful that she'd headed off, and I could indulge one of my rituals.
I brought the Ylva back into supercruise and for the next few hours, sailed off towards the intergalactic void, the Core far behind. As the sensors ticked over to a light-year from the primary, I brought the ship around and looked back to the core, shut all the systems down and sat there in the dark, just the sound of my breathing as company.
It seems really silly to get emotional about this but I genuinely get a bit misty looking at our little galaxy, softly spinning away before me when I'm out on the rim. All those hundreds of billions of stars, dancing around one another in some kind of cosmic ballet - it's hard to get a sense of perspective on it all when you're in the thick of it, but out here you suddenly realise just how small we are - even our galaxy - in the grand scheme of things.
On the way up here, we'd passed through one system where another pair of planets had been locked in a dance with one another, while pinwheeling around the sun and we'd meekly sat by and watched as they floated past our view. And again - it's hard to really get a sense of scale sometimes, when you can spend your life living planetside; the human brain tends to shrink things down to an every-day universe it can cope with. It's really only when you see sights like those planets gliding quietly by in the dark of space that you realise - you're actually living on an absolutely gargantuan ball of rock of almost inconcievable size and mass, which is at the same time just a speck of dust!
Sorry, deep-space-gibberish strikes again - but there's something incredibly humbling about it all, something I feel mankind can do with a healthy dose of! While I sat there in the dark out on the edge, I indulged another little ritual and listened to a recording of one of my childhood heroes from Old Earth and although I feel a bit self-concious talking about it now, I don't mind admitting it brought a tear or two to my eyes
(I threw these few clips together, more as background to the speech. Carl Sagan is an absolute hero of mine and was more or less single-handedly responsible for my interest in astronomy & stellar physics. I might just be an impressionable idiot (there's no "might" about it!) but I would definitely encourage fellow players looking to 'buy into' that wonderful remote experience Elite can provide by listening to an excerpt or two of his various works, whilst off out trundling around in the dark Accreditation on youtube.)
A couple of days later, and back in the bubble. The Gnosis would be heading off in a little over a week; and whilst chatting with some guys in one of the explorey hangouts, something rather stupid happened. Possibly as a result of sleep deprivation or excessive caffeine or a healthy dose of both. Somehow I found myself taking on a challenge (more self-inflicted than anything else, I'll grant you, weak-minded muppet that I am!) - and it wasn't the healthiest of challenges.
It was fairly simple; take a Viper mkIII and run the circumference of the galaxy and be back in time for the Gnosis departure on the 6th. I know it's nothing new - it's been done many times before! I've done "the lap" myself back in the days before engineering of any kind, but that had been in a ship considerably larger than a viper; it's been done in sidewinders; it's almost certainly been done quicker than a week or so - there are some crazy people out there, one of my favorites being that long-distance lunatic Cmdr Alot, who would just demolish any kind of speed record! But it's something that I hadn't tried, the whole viper-lap thing. And I'm a sucker for a challenge like that SO - I'd need a viper. My poor beloved Bansidhe was still buried somewhere out there in San Tu, so it was time to whip out the credits and go shopping.
Why is it that Vipers always look beat to hell, even when they're fresh off the assembly line?
RIGHT - Hera, I need a really swanky powerplant please? Thanks! Elvira, yep me again, new FSD please! And I properly messed her about - "can you tweak it to optimize for fuel-per-jump? Hmm, actually no, make her optimized for mass...yes I know it's fractionally shorter jump range, that's fine, there's reason in my madness (I think!)" - and a lot of headscratching later, I left with a shiny new fsd.
I didn't have time to do the rest of the engineering. If I were to be "back on the front steps of the Reform Club" by the 5th, I had to skedaddle pronto. So a quick hug to Coral, a promise I'd be back on time and it was off out to the Gnosis, which would act as my start/finish line. A few jumps later and I dropped in on the megaship; and a couple of friends in the area dropped in to send me off in style
Thanks guys and see you soon - I hope!
Just before heading off, I took the little viper aboard the Gnosis and had her registered. I'd been trying to think of a name all the way out to the megaship and in the end, I settled for Amelia. I just hope I don't disappear out there on the rim, but it kinda felt right to name her after a wonderful pioneer and an incredible lady.
So that's that! I managed to get just over a thousand light years under my belt before pulling over and running a systems check. Amelia handled the heat surprisingly well, but there again that voodoo powerplant and the lack of enhanced dirties probably helped, compared to what I was used to in a viper! The scoop was a teacup, but then so was the tank - I'd burn the wrong-side of half a tank with every jump! - so providing I stayed switched on, the jumps would be "doable".
Now that I'm sat here alone in the dark and thinking about just how stupid this challenge is, I have to keep reminding myself of why I'm doing this, and as cliché as it is, I love "that quote" from Mallory when asked why he wanted to climb the highest of mountains:
"Because it's there"
See you soon - I hope
I just have to add a HUGE thank you to Cmdrs Leomon and Reliquiae for both travelling over a thousand light years back to the Gnosis just to take the pic further up! Not only that but putting up with a huge amount of "left a bit - forward a bit" from an inept director! Thanks so much you guys, it was very much appreciated
Thanks also to the guys from the various wings that sent their "good lucks" - promise if I get back in time I'll scrounge that booze back for you!
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