Stupid-o-meter (light years):
Getting a little excited - we ticked over the two million mark at last and the end is in sight! It's February, just a couple of weeks and change to "D-Day" and we've got about half a million more light years to rack up - so, plan!
Image taken from Wiki, courtesy of Elite Mapping Project and DW2
Never said it was a good plan though!
So we thought we'd do something a bit more fun for our last 500k, since up till now we've just been pinging all over the place around the galaxy.
- We're starting off by following the route laid out by the Distant Worlds 2 expedition that recently set off from the bubble.
- We'll follow the projected route up to Beagle, down the arm a bit and back in along the route. That should tick off about 200k.
- THEN - we'll nip down south and head, anti-clockwise, back around the rim, following my Viper challenge route in reverse.
- Which should be another 250k and hopefully find some funky rimworlds! And that should bring us back with maybe 50-100k left.
- AT WHICH POINT - I think a nice finish would be to nip up to Marimba, my ELW home north of the core, then head back.
And that - should be that! I'll keep my eyes peeled en route and adjust the route accordingly, but that should fill up the miles just fine.
ot going to lie, pretty exhausted right now!
But in a really, really
good way. We've just settled down having hit the core again after a lot of systems travelled since last log - five days ago, yikes! It's been a busy several days, just missing some friends by scant margins, a first trip to Beagle for a lot of the crew aaaand a really lovely surprise! Kei and I are shutting things down at the moment and the rest of the crew has raced off down - to the cargo hold. It'll all make sense, I promise!
ANYWAY - since last log...
We were drifting around in the north-west quadrant when we had a ping from a friend down near the Bubble nebula - fancy a meet up? Which is always a yes! So we swung around and scooched down over the next few hours; unfortunately missing them by a matter of minutes, they'd had to scoot off. A little tired, we drifted on towards the Orion spur before calling it a day. It can't be helped, things come up - but still always feels a bit of a shame to just miss a meet, especially after a 20k sprint! So the common room was a bit quiet.
//RP-ey bit, so I tagged it - if it's not your thing, go ahead and skip!
Until Hal walked in, grinning.
I asked what was so funny; he didn't say anything, just grinning ever more widely with that goofy smile of his. Everyone was looking up at this point, nagging Hal, asking what he was smiling about; until at last Lauren spotted him. She grinned back at him before asking,
"Is it finished?"
He nodded and beckoned everyone to follow. So we all got up, not really in the mood for games but curious anyway, and followed him clanking down the causeways and ladders deep into the lower decks. We finally arrived at the entrance to the cargo bay, which had barely seen any action - just a limpet or three for repairs now and then, but otherwise dusty and dormant, except for Hal's mysterious tinkering!
Unusually though, the heavy duty door was ringed with little lights and the most childish drawing of a palm tree you've ever seen stencilled over it.
Following Hal's gesture, we all stepped inside. These holds aren't exactly pretty - ours is just a big metal box, maybe several metres long and slightly narrower than that in width, only a couple of metres or more tall? They get banged around a lot and generally have rough, scarred walls, a very industrial feel and normally sit in pitch dark.
Only now, as we stepped in, we were greeted by a lovely warm glow - little lights dangling from the heavy bulkheads. The normally battered walls had been freshly painted a pale cream colour that reflected the soft lighting, very swish - but what caught our attention was the far end of the bay.
An odd looking contraption, rather like a giant low box between two and three metres square and a little over a metre high now sat, attached to the floor; pipes and cables running out from the base of it to the wall. And as we got closer, we all laughed in unison - I don't know how he did it, although I suspect Lauren had a hand in helping! But as we got closer, it became apparent what the contraption was; the interior of the "box" was empty, save for a curved, smooth bench that ran around the inside edge, with little circular grates along the bottom and mid-way up the seat backs...
Hal had built us a hot-tub.
It was empty at the moment, but that didn't stop us all bundling in to sit down, laughing like a bunch of idiots. Yan remarked that while it was an awesome addition to the Clair
, the ambience could use a little work - at which point Hal laughed again and pointed to a little box on the ceiling, bolted to the middle of the central bulkhead.
"Glad you mentioned that..."
He flicked a couple of switches on the side of the tub; all the lights went out and we were plunged into darkness. Before anyone could protest though - the little box in the ceiling lit up and suddenly all around the walls of the cargobay were bathed in light, a beautiful vista of a beach and tropical forest was projected in a 360' panorama around us. There were even the soft sounds of waves washing up on the beach, presumably from speakers he'd cleverly concealed around the bay. It all felt remarkably familiar...
"Remember last time we were on Marimba, I ducked away for a while, when you guys were getting ready for departure? I got some good scans of the beach... Anyway, hope you like it? "
No-one was saying anything, just too enraptured. It certainly was nothing like as swanky as a first-class luxury lounge on a Beluga; the projection was a bit scrunchy in places, the hot-tub looked like a plastic and steel box and not particularly refined - and yet I wouldn't have traded it for anything. It was wonderful and eventually everyone was handing out the hugs and back-slaps to Hal and Lauren. Those two lunatics can always be relied on to put a big wide grin on my face.
Hal promised he'd have it running by tomorrow night; we reluctantly all climbed out of the tub and walked back out of the cargo bay. Can't wait! But for the meantime - back to "work"!
Next morning, we found ourselves just outside the bubble - but we wouldn't be "going in", not until the trip was done. We'd been closely following the departure of a recent expedition involving a whole boatload of explorers heading up to the top of the galaxy and back down through the north-east quadrant, with many friends taking part. So as we chatted over breakfast, that sounded like a plan - follow that route which was essentially a nice big 200k loop up to Beagle, clockwise around the arm a bit and then back down.
Perfect! So we quickly bolted down the rest of breakfast, hurried off to our stations and pretty soon, off we chugged to the first waypoint outside the bubble for the Distant Worlds 2 expedition - the Omega sector! Which of course we arrived at in the dark, but still managed to snag a quick piccy of the landing site, on the cliffs above the canyons.
Taking a breather at the first DW2 waypoint!
It was kinda funny - knowing that several thousand ships had been through here not long before, I half expected to find bits of detritus, limpets, dead srvs - the spacer equivalent of coffee cups and sandwich wrappers!
But the site was pristine and for some reason felt a little lonely and spooky; even though I'm used to exploring the deeps alone, just knowing that I'd missed this huge convoy made the place feel more empty somehow?
Anyway - easily remedied! We dusted off, broke orbit and started making our way to the next waypoint - the Delta site in the Conflux region. We managed to bump into an old friend, Cmdr "Doomeddonut" en route, but technical difficulties and time once again got the better of us, so after a quick wave and brief chat in system, we were off again. And after a handful of jumps - we arrived in orbit over the waypoint.
We dropped down to a few k over the settlement and I took a scuttle down in an slf, to nose around that forlorn little site. I'd been here years ago, but it still gave me the creeps! And it wasn't long before I was hurrying back to the ship, eager to be back with the crew!
"Let's moon 'em!"
The waypoints for the expedition being top secret, for obvious reasons, we had only a rough idea of the route they'd follow from here. So we took our best guess, meandering onwards up through the Conflux, wiggling our way up through the core past Sadge and on up north over the Styx. All the while, finding the usual never-ending stream of shiny! It took an ENORMOUS effort of will not to divert a little to our ELW paradise home and take a day off on the beach - but that would have been the end of the challenge. It's hard enough leaving that place at the best of times, but when you're exhausted and have been trapped in a steel box for two months - it would be procrastination city.
Onwards and upwards the next day! It's always a kick in the gut, this last stretch, both coming and going - the fizzing little pulsars drop off, stellar density decreases and suddenly it feels like your trudging along with boots caked in mud! But the trick, the golden rule for me at least is - never look at where you're going.
Just chew your way slowly through the plots and enjoy the pretty around you - and there was an awful lot! I completely understand that pilots' interest are often going to reflect Unicart's payouts - gotta pay the bills somehow! But I'm lucky enough to be fairly comfortable now and it's just nice and relaxing to poke and prod everything now and then - give the dustballs and the little gas giants a bit of love.
And doing all that - suddenly I can't target next system because hurrah, we've arrived in Beagle!
Looking a bit tired but still going strong - that's my girl!
A little scooch over Beagle 3 this time, so the guys could get some piccies. And without being patronising at all, it really was fun to see how excited everyone was - Coral, Hal and I have been up here a whole bunch of times and while we're not blasé about the beauty of the core from out here, it's just really nice seeing the rest of the crew so pumped for their first visit! Poor old Clair
is looking a little tired though - I was flicking through my old logs and looking at her gleaming hull as we left Capitol two months ago and I really can't wait to get her back in dock and give her some TLC!
A little overnight stay, a quick run of module repairs aaand off we headed again, this time scooting south-east, down the Sagi-Carina arm to the next sector for a little snooping. Rim travel is always a bit of a hike, but I never feel more "out there" in the deeps when scuttling around the outer edge of the galaxy. It really doesn't help "making the yards" each day, but it's just fun, in a weird way, although the sheer number of systems to slog through to make any kind of headway is pretty brutal! There again, you run into a lot of shiny to keep you going, and that eerie gulf of darkness off the port bow is always a little reminder that however vast we think our galaxy is - it's the tiniest little pinprick in the vast sea of the universe.
We doglegged back in towards the eastern edge of the core, following the projected DW2 route as best we could guess. And finally - at the end of a long weary day, we dropped into a pretty blue gem of a system, the starfield glowing from the primary neutron, so reminiscent of the skies over Colonia? And I couldn't resist dropping the Clair
gently to rest in a field of geysers, little purple jets washing over her hull, like some kind of spa for my poor weary anaconda.
Pampering the Troops!
And speaking of a spa - we're all shut down for the night. Time to go grab some gear and head down to the cargo bay to bubble our fatigue away! Take care out there!
Stupid-o-meter (light years):
//OOOOk, going a bit nuts here - almost done!! Just 34k to go!!! But just for fun..
I know the whole ganking-in-open debate is right up there with politics and religion for some, so I'm not touching that one with a bargepole All I will say is, I kinda like the excitement of the risk, so I'll be trucking back in to the bubble with no escort, in Open, with at best guess, around 10 billion creds in data This is thanks to ch4 change in data pricing of course, but I have a sneaky suspicion that would represent the biggest scalp in monetary terms for a gank in Elite history :D Soooo should be fun! Good luck to all the pvp types, absolutely no problem with being hunted and here's to a bit of fun on the way in
Apologies for typos and grammarfacepalms, sooo busy atm and no time to proof!
WE'RE ALMOST HOME!!!
It's super early in the morning. I've snuck up to the bridge by myself, past the epic orchestra of snoring reverberating around crew quarters, and sat up here in jammies a bit chilly - cockpit always gets rather nippy with all the systems powered off! But I can't sleep - it's been a fairly roller-coastery week or so since my last log and it only really hit me last night - we're just a couple of days from completing the challenge!
You'd think I'd be watching the "countdown clock" really closely, but somehow this weekend crept up on me without me noticing. We've had a busy week and met a whole bunch of folks along the way, so I'll try and record them in this log as best I can. Won't be long before the Snorers wake up and we have a headscratch about where to go - we're drifting around the south-west quadrant at the moment and looking to setup for a nice straight shot home on tuesday, so maybe nip to Colonia this evening, or up to Marimba, our home north of the Core. We'll see.
SO - anyway, what have we been up to!
We'd done that loop of the DW2 expedition, up to Beagle, down the arm and then back to the bubble. Then we'd nipped back up to the Core for a poke around; and we'd found a lovely little place to rest up one night, kinda up near the Styx - an undiscovered little planetary nebula, which was a big surprise, considering it wasn't far off the Beagle Highway! So we had a mooch around and found a beautiful little campsite to rest overnight at.
Whip out the SRV-sized marshmallows!
I maaay have got a little too carried away taking piccies here and nearly sploded the SRV! So a sheepish repair later and we were good as new.
But the starfield was just so beautiful, with the little lava spout flickering warm yellow lights off the hull of the Clair
, it really was quite cosy!
Next morning, we scuffled back to the Core - we'd arranged to meet a friend who was out snooping around the area, looking for Langrangian knick-knacks; and before long, I'd dropped in at the pre-arranged coordinates - which turned out to be fairly spooky! A very dense, dark lagrange cloud made all the more spooky by static discharges! Space lightning is very pretty from a distance but not quite so much up close, in my egg-shell thin little conda!
showed up soon after and it's always the way - everytime you try and get a piccie, the environment isn't obliging and the flicking lightning sparks decided to come over all shy! Unfortunately our schedule meant we couldn't hang around; so a little flying together through the gloom, a quick chat and a wave, and we had to turn tail. Thanks again, Arburich, and all the best with your hunting!
Bugging out before we got fried!
After that, it was time to flip another quick u-turn and head back up to Beagle for the second time in less than a week! Honestly, I remember the days when BP felt like this impossibly unattainable trek, yet now it's a day's hard travel! I'm not taking anything away from it though, it's still one of those "tick list" items and wish everyone doing it the very best.
It wasn't too long before we were dropping back in at Beagle Point; and despite our stupidly tight schedule, we still had time for a quick "boop" with an old friend - our premier cake delivery service, courtesy of Ziva
a while back, had made it up to the 'end of the road', in that honking great full-combat cutter! And bruised and battered paintwork aside, she was still looking like a beast - I'll freely admit, it'd spook me a little to drop into BP for my first time and see a fully-loaded combat cutter in the neighbourhood!
Exploration bloodied, but unbowed!
Not just that, but also took a call from Cmdr Crash
way back home, who fancied a virtual peek at the old 'furthest from Sol' or at least as it was back then! So that was fun, having someone holo in from the other side of the galaxy for a few virtual photos and a little slf joyriding.
I must admit, I did come over a bit tour-guidey and end up doing the whole "and out of your left window, you'll see the Large Magellanic Cloud, keyrings available in the giftshop..." - sorry Crash!
Anyhoo - was great. I'm just not used to seeing people out in the black, I'm usually such a hermit and it's been kinda fun. But once again, schedule-of-death wouldn't allow for more than a quick grin and wave, before having to about face and scooch off. We skipped a little west on our way back in, not finding too much excitement along the way - tons of the new biologicals and geologicals of course but it's funny how quickly the new becomes the mundane - and yet a space magpie like yours truly is always entranced by the beauty of shiny things, however old and well known.
Big ol' diamond ring
We scooted on down through the Orio-Perseans, nipping past the Bubble Mk 2, and although we didn't stop, I did slow down for a sneaky peek at one of those big old cargo transporters, for nostalgia's sake. After I left the Navy, I didn't have a clue what to do with myself and seriously considered working on one of those gargantuan freight thingies as they drifted around the deeps - they're really quite amazing. Basically like being on board a megaship, only a lot more relaxed - people tend to be a lot more calm when their job is to move millions of tons of crap from point a to point b without rushing, just drifting along nice and steady. Can't rush something like that.
That having been said - these guys got kinda snarky and even started taking a pot-shot or two at us, leading to a very quick "ok, ok!" about-face and bug-out. Sign of the times I guess, but still, a very pretty big beastie, in its own way.
Space trucking on a BIG scale!
We scuttled on down into the south-west quadrant for a mooch around before setting up camp in the gravity well of the primary - it's a surefire sign usually that we were all exhausted and just couldn't be bothered to sniff around for a ~1g planet to camp out on! That cargo ship though was a funny reminder - Yan actually made quite a cool analogy - it's like seeing shore birds suddenly when you've been crossing a vast ocean. You can't see the shore just yet - but you know it's not far off.
I can hear the sound of reluctant sleepy heads piling out of their bunks, so I'd better scoot. Two more days to home, sleep and the longest bath in the history of mankind