As The Fleet Grows...
...so does the workload. Since the last entry I have grown my fleet by 3 ships. A Beluga and Imperial Clipper as planned as well as a low signature Diamondback Scout. Outfitting and engineering these new ships have kept me busy but now it's mostly done. Supporting the faction Aseveljet has also been quite busy work even though I only work half as hard on it as my squadron mate.
I got the Beluga first because it occurred to me that taking billionaires on sightseeing tours is a way to gain influence with which I am already well familiar. The 8 luxury cabins are so opulent that they rarely even demand any detours. I often sneak take a break on those cabins myself and it's hard to get back to the bridge, as confortable as it is with its earth tones and rounded shapes. I also have 36 first class cabins for more reasonable passengers like tourists or businessmen traveling to a conference. Much more desirable job since they are less likely to treat me as their personal servant. As for flight characteristics, it's pretty decent to fly for a ship of its size.
The Clipper was a very pleasant surprise. Back when I was working my way up through the Imperial ranks to the Cutter, I ignored this ship because of the large pad requirement and wide hardpoint placement. While these are real problems, the ship is otherwise joy to fly. Its supercruise handling is very good, the view from the cockpit is excellent and it looks beautiful in front of celestial objects. These are all good traits for an explorer and now I believe Gutamaya might have in it to make a good Imperial explorer. Properly equipped, it is fast in realspace too. I equipped it primarily for liberating certain goods from those unworthy to own them, if you know what I mean, but it has a secondary role as a blockade runner as well. I took it with full cargo to Shana Bei to run a gauntlet of sociapathic commanders and actually managed to win an interdiction. Must have been the first time I win one of those against Pilot Fed types without resorting to cheap tricks like slamming into an exclusion zone. I also outmaneuvered another commander who was trying to get behind me. He only managed to initiate the interdiction the exact moment I dropped to the station. Very impressive, but it still remains to be seen how well it escapes in realspace if I get interdicted. I must test that too at some point.
As I engineered these ships, I noticed running low on encoded resources especially. I figured that I could try alternate methods of getting more data. Perhaps a hacking ship. A small ship that runs very cool and can stay in silent running for extended periods of time. With this idea forming in my mind I got interdicted in Millese by a certain CMDR DukeOnSteroids flying a Diamondback... Explorer I think it was. After dancing a bit, I easily escaped with my superior speed, but I noted he had Force Shell cannons that spun my light Courier around rather hilariously. Inspired by this, I got a Diamondback Scout. Didn't need an Explorer because I can fit everything I need to a Scout and I like the hardpoints better. A Force Shell cannon, a Railgun for module snipe practice and 2 Enforcers on rapid fire because someone said they sound marvelous that way. Engineering is not quite yet fully complete, but this vessel already runs very cool. Very good for inspecting megaships and installations without worrying them too much by being visible in their scanners and perhaps clandestine personal transport.
Meanwhile my co-pilot, after a few tries, successfully destroyed a Thargoid Cyclops with the AX Cutter. My old tactics for the Krait Mk.II weren't directly applicable and she had to adjust them a little. Adopt a more direct approach instead of boom-and-zoom. The Paradroid can outrun a Cyclops, but is not nimble enough to land enough shots as it passes. Anyway, I decided to flex my own AX muscles too and took the ship to an AX combat zone with telepresence open to any commanders who would want to join. No interceptors showed up, but we killed 35 scouts without much effort until the telepresence equipment malfunctioned and kicked the crew out of session. They need to work on that. I also toured a few failed generation ships to remind me how far us, the humanity have gone. With the inscrutable menace of the Thargoids and who knows what else is out there, I think we need to go farther still. This is why I explore.
In the faction front, Aseveljet successfully expanded to Obato, which is an Exo system so we'd better lay low, and won election on Momus Reach. Now it's fighting a war on three systems. We have a plan in place to eventually expand out of Li Yong-Rui's territory. Those Sirius commanders are watching us, I'm certain of it!