I have done it, another 13,000 ly and nearly three weeks later and I am here, Beagle Point.
There was no clinking of glasses or cheers, loud music or fireworks like when the community goals were achieved. I jumped into an empty system. I’m starting to think that I am the only one out here. I shouldn’t have punched the caf maker for giving me cold weak rubbish, but little things are getting to me now. When I hit it, the comms console got drenched in caf, the clock is broken, and I can’t get long range comms anymore. Probably end up needing those, I can’t get hold of the fuel rats or the hull seals now if I need help, I feel stupid!
No comms to the fleet and 6 weeks without seeing a single person, I very much feel like I am on my own in the void. So black outside now, don’t even have stars for company. I took a photo after jumping into a neutron star system and super charging my FSD. It looks like I am not in the galaxy anymore, like I am outside looking back at it, I am so far out.
I have a weird mix of emotions now; relief and pride but tainted with anxiety. I will need to get home at some point, there were no routes planned after waypoint 12. I am not even sure if I have short range comms till I try. The thought of now having to travel well over 73,000 ly on my own is terrifying me.
I am seeing the hyperspace tunnel when I close my eyes, hearing Celeste in my ears when she has not spoken. I swear I saw super cruise trails and ships the other day, but my scanners picked up nothing, was that a malfunction or am I seeing things now? I don’t know if I am sleeping, eating or drinking enough, everything seems out of sync without a clock. The hum of the ship is so loud inside my ears sometimes too, it has been driving me mad. I even turned off life support so my Remlock helmet would auto engage and I wouldn’t hear it anymore but then all I could hear was my breathing. I am clearly losing it, didn’t think it would happen to me. This was meant to be a great day, but I just feel scared.
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----- Time: Unknown
I stayed in system at Beagle Point, not knowing what to do. I am guessing it was at least 5 or 6 hours but who knows. A ship jumped in at the main star. I laughed to myself at first thinking I was just seeing things again but then my scanner picked it up, it was real. Another Krait Phantom, I quickly targeted it and moved my ship round quickly, so I could get an ID ping on it. I couldn’t believe it, this better not be me hallucinating. The display read: “CMDR CAZ”.
My hands shaking with renewed excitement, I opened up short range comms whilst pushing the throttle up to fly in behind her. I opened a channel and raised her on voice. Static, just static. Please don’t jump, please don’t jump, she must have seen me I was thinking. Suddenly, her ship, “The Black Rose” arced steeply upwards in a tight loop and flew past me in the blink of an eye, I span the ship over and gave chase, was she playing with me? I thought. We danced around each other in super cruise for a moment chasing each other’s trails like we were linked with an interdiction tether, before she dropped out into normal space. I locked onto her wake signal and dropped out too.
She was stationary and facing me a kilometre away. I flew over and expertly stopped mere meters away from her canopy, we were face to face. She looked just as striking and beautiful as I remembered back at Polo Harbour. It was as if the weeks cooped up in the ship had no effect on her at all. She was giving me that flirty smile and tapping her ear. Comms! of course! I tried again static at first, but then I could hear something, I gave the top of the console a thump with my fist and I could hear her. Ironically, she sounded like she was under water, nothing to do with the caf that was inside the console though I’m sure. “Congratulations!”, “You too!” I replied. There was an uncomfortable silence momentarily before she said “Are you ok Jaykay? You look a bit, well, don’t take offence, vacant, you know a bit starey”. Did I really look that bad? No sense pretending and letting my ego speak in this situation, I thought, so I proceeded to explain things.
She was so understanding and told me that she’d seen space madness before on another expedition she had been part of the previous year and the best remedy was human interaction. We chatted for ages with our ships facing over the comms. We talked about the expedition, the mining community goals, the black holes, the crazy sights and weird planets, the biological and geological sites we’d seen, Sagittarius A, the new station and all the near misses. I so wished we could be in the same space as each other but these ships are not built with EVA in mind and nor are our flight suits.
Caz is busily charting a route for us now as we’ve decided that we should wing up and start the journey home together. I feel better already and am looking forward to our own exploration expedition, where ever that may take us.
Well done to all the brave commanders that have completed this historic feat and are now only just starting to head back, we are technically only half way and who knows what is next.