Francisca has been with me for a while. And she's been an invaluable crew member...pretty much the perfect crew member. She absolutely knows what she's doing, she doesn't take herself too seriously, and she follows orders in a pinch. Now, that's not to say she ain't above stiffening her back and calling me out if I make a stupid call. And I love that about her. She's pretty handy with the tools, too. So when we're out in the black and need to do some work that the AFMS can't handle (or isn't worth the materials) or I don't want to gen up a bunch of limpets for, she helps me out a lot. Obviously, I can do it myself, but having two sets of hands is always a good idea. The other great thing about Francisca was that she was social but not too social. She had a similar temperament as mine, and was fine in company, but was equally cool with spending hours by herself. She didn't need to be constantly there, being interacted with. We had a mutually agreeable "buzz me if you need anything or just wanna chat" contract going. I mean, let's get real, with a ship the size of The Ceti Azeria, two people don't really make a bit of difference in the "empty room" tingles. At no point did I think that she'd become unhappy serving aboard ship. Heck, the only time I had her tag along was when I was in the Anaconda, the Corvette or the Chieftain. It's not like I was grabbing her leash every time I went out.
So, this morning at breakfast she announces that she's unloading at Explorer's Anchorage today. Apparently, the friends she has been hanging around with from the DW2 caravan made her an offer she couldn't refuse. I mean, sure, her contract allowed for us to dissolve it at any time for whatever reason, whether I just didn't need her services or she got bored. But, crap, not that means I gotta visit the crew lounge and find a replacement for the rest of the trip unless I wanna go solo. Which, I can, of course. But that wasn't how I planned this journey. Thing is, the Crew Lounge only recently opened up (now that the station is further along in construction), and there really isn't a large selection of recruits. Pretty much everyone who came here is focused on making money off construction of the station and the megaship. I'll probably have to just wait until construction nears completion, then maybe there will be quite a few people looking to do something different and don't have a particular need to go home. Hell, maybe someone with decent chops is interested in escaping all the Thargoid crap back in the core systems and is willing to move to Colonia. It could happen.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch...cooler heads have prevailed, the appropriate apologies have been extended, and The Silverbacks are one big happy family again. It was depressing seeing some of the gang leave, so it's equally exciting that they are back. And none too soon! It looks like our faction expands without even trying. We are in five other systems besides our own Arexe! I guess the inhabitants of those systems really like our style of leadership. Why wouldn't they, though? We keep government out of most folks' business, we support only enough taxes to maintain a reasonable system authority force for protection, and everyone remains independent. The stations themselves are all responsible to keep solvent themselves by providing value-added services and charging accordingly. You know, basic commerce. Most of the systems we expanded into were previously ruled by dictators or heavy-handed corporate types. We are a welcome change. But, with all this expansion, it means we need to maintain a presence in those systems, if for no other reason than reassurance the populace we're engaged and we have an open door for their concerns...you can only do so much virtually. So, now The Silverbacks are formulating a plan for some members to take one for the team and move to a station in each of those systems. We briefly discussed how nice it would be to be able to have formal representation in Colonia since that's my home, but the challenges of making that happen just aren't worth it yet. Perhaps we look at stationing a fleet ship out there. I dunno.
Anyway, I've been going back and forth between exploring and charting more systems local to galaxy-center and then sticking in-system to cultivate Encoded Signal Sources. Man, the materials you can pick! But I figure we only have about another week before the construction here is done and I'll have to make a decision--tag along with the DW2 crowd to Beagle Point, or head back to Colonia Dream. Decisions, decisions.