I've been working a lot out of Asellus Primus. The factions there are being good to me in terms of trading, and it appears to be a reliable safety net for earning money and materials. After consulting with trade networks I've deduced a rather good trading route that I've aimed to prepare for. So for this, I've saved as much as I could to purchase a T9 Heavy. And god, do I hate flying it. It's fat, slow and since I'm running without shields to maximize profits, any scrape is almost inevitable without computer aid.
I've relegated my shieldless Python to storage for now as I intend for it to be either an Outpost Trader or a Multi-role fighter, perhaps both. It'll be a while before I can purchase adequate combat gear for it, as well as gain access to the right people to make it a brilliant force multiplier.
Speaking of people, I've gained access to some more of these Engineers. I had to travel 5,000ly away in a direction in order to get them interested in me and then sell the data to the right people to get the others to notice, but it was a nice exploration stint. I earned a fair bit of dollar from it as well so it wasn't entirely wasteful.
So now all I have to do is build enough cash to create my multi-role fighter, collect some materials and build a monster of a ship. It'll take a while but hey, it'll be a nice long-term mission for me.