Author's Note: I intend on having fun with this 'logbook' so enjoy the fruits of a bored yet active imagination.
The sun lingered over the high rise in Hope City, Founder's World. For the next couple of weeks it would continue to do so until the planet's 42 day rotation cycled. At the bar of his own hotel & restaurant sat a downcast John Grant.
"Kill me..." he griped. "Why can't I find a good woman Joe?"
Joe smirked. "Look on the bright side. The suns out and the birds are singing."
"Don't remind me, a month of sun?" Grant winced at the glare, "Don't know how you stand it."
Joe grinned sardonically as he refilled his boss' stein. "I go to the beach like normal people."
"Pft, normal people. I miss the night month." Grant took another swig.
"The best time to visit is during the sunset or sunrise." Joe topped him off and tossed the empty bottle. "So deal, what happened this time?"
After another gulp Grant lit up a cigar. "Where do I begin? For starters I didn't get to really enjoy the Stellar Unknown expedition. I started late because Bureaucracy and tedium kept me grounded."
8/25 - 8/27 - Chelomey Orbital, Cubeo
"Woman!" Grant yelled for his co-pilot Ann, "We're a day late and a dollar short!"
From the next room Ann yelled, "John you didn't pay the rent on your office to Maisonpierre, now she thinks you're trying to skip out without paying! She's not letting the movers load up the last boxes!"
"Ohh for fuck sake!"
"I mean I did get to enjoy a little bit of it. I revisited Eta Carinae - a binary star system halfway between us and the Carina Nebula. By the way, did you know there's a good chance it could go Hypernovae soon? Canonn researchers installed a monitoring station deep inside an asteroid in the system. One of these days the neutrino count will spike, and I fully intend to be there when that ticking time bomb goes kablooi!" Grant blew a smoke ring. "Of course knowing my luck I'll have to buckeyball it from Beagle Point on the day Eta Carinae hypernovas."
"Uh huh," Joe yawned bored, "anything interesting happened or-?"
"-I'm getting to it!"
8/28 - Eta Carinae AB1, Campsite
"Look at that Ann!" Grant said looking through pictures from other expedition members. "Hen 2-23, it's purple colored and comes highly recommended by the organizers... what are you doing?"
Ann closed her chat channel, "Nothing, what?" Grant raised an eyebrow at her. "What?"
"So... Hen 2-23?" He continued, "Wanna plot a course?"
"Sure, sounds fun."
"A few hours later I realized we weren't gonna have an easy jaunt to Hen 2-23. Turns out It's a jumponeum mountain."
"What does that mean?" Joe asked.
"Ehh," Grant groaned, "in astrogation you plot jump coordinates to reach distant stars. Most explorers like me have got the best plotting computer money can buy already installed in their ships. Generally I can plug in a route and the computer auto-calculates it up to about 20k lightyears. Sparing me the tedious jumping back and forth to my navigation panel. 'Mountains' are found in fringe star zones generally. They're basically areas that inhibit auto-routing. 'Jumponeum mountains' are further flung star zones where jumps are so distant you have to get creative with your course plotting. Even to the point of synthesizing upgraded fuel."
"You can synthesize fuel now?"
Grant sighed, "No... but you can upgrade it. Let me give you a run down. Once upon a time some crazy daredevil flew into the wash of a neutron star for the first time on a lark. Afterwards he noticed that his fuel scoop had been active the whole time which made him worry about exposure damage to his FSD. Quick damage check showed minimal wear and nominal function. So when he checked the contents of his fuel bay he noticed something strange: Gunk lodged in the fuel injector. After running a quick diagnostic he determined that a jump would clear the injector. So he did, and the result - only about a quarter of the predicted fuel had been needed to make the jump."
"The first Icarus maneuver?"
"The first Icarus maneuver. A few experiments later and ol' Icarus figured out that his jump-range had also quadrupled. Well, a couple daredevils later tried to replicate Icarus' shenanigans with a white dwarf. The results were mostly death. When it wasn't death it was a let down as he/she/it only gained an extra 50% boost to their FSD."
"Right," Joe nodded.
"Well at any rate, some egghead scientists came along one day and determined what was causing this phenomenon. Turns out elements like Polonium, Yttrium, Niobium, and what not were getting expelled from these star remnants. This gave them the ohh so wonderful idea to replicate the process in a lab. From there they found a safer, less caustic mix, that pilots with the right equipment can synthesize on their own. Finally the recipe patent was sold to Sirius, who passed it on to us."
"Cool story bro."
Grant blew a smoke ring at him, "So anyways we're climbing this mountain right? Then I start worrying because I'm running out of mats for synthesis."
8/28 - SPHUEDUIA NR-W D1-0 4 C
"Ann," Grant said into the comms, "Pretty soon I'm going to find an LZ for you to come pick me up at, kay?"
After a second she replied, "And here I was enjoying the solitude."
"Uh huh," he smirked, "I've given us another twenty or so injections. Wasn't expecting I'd need it so soon before reaching Tenebrae though."
About five seconds later she said, "I see a good LZ to the west. Head that way and I'll pick you up."
"Well," Grant said to Joe, "I didn't head west. I kept moving along my trajectory because I knew I was coming up on a good photo opportunity. Then wouldn't you know it-"
8/28 - SPHUEDUIA NR-W D1-0 4 C, 10 minutes later,
"John!" Ann said surprised, with the Return to Darkness
hovering a half a click away. "I uhhh, I found this Eagle just sitting here. It's empty, and the comms are down."
Sure enough Grant pulled up but saw no one in the cockpit. The ship was registered to a Christian Elmerot of the Janja Crimson Family (JCF). An independent outfit from the star system Janja. "Empty my ass, hey Elmerot we're not pirates!"
The pilot sat up in the cockpit. "Look, I'm just an explorer, please don't kill me!"
Grant rubbed his temple in frustration, "Didn't I just say we're NOT pirates?"
"So I'm like, couple of questions guy. How d'you even get an eagle all the way out here! Like... how the frik, where the frik, why the frik??!”
Joe laughed, "An eagle's a fighter class ship right?"
"Yeah," Grant continued, "so the guy says he's an explorer, but that's bullshit. I mean it almost fits, you know? Novice combat rating, random ship on a jumponeum mountain. But two things told me something was up: 1st," Grant motioned with his index finger. "His company; even though they're registered as independent, they often run amok when clients are pushing into Janja, for the right price of course. Basically they're a merc-mafia. One such client is the blue haired princess herself, but I'll return to that in a moment. 2nd," He motioned with his index and middle fingers, "Ann's antics since leaving had been at best suspicious, at worst borderline inept. Believe me, that girl isn't inept, so It didn't take me long to put two and two together." He drank another gulp of beer, "But I'm not a fool so I played ignorant, waited, and watched."
Grant continued, "On the 7th we started cataloging Lagrange point clouds. By that point I had already stopped trusting her, but like I said: I needed to keep up appearances. Along the way I snapped a few photos, you know to hang up in my office."
"Or in the bar, or the lobby of the hotel," Joe smirked, "when really you're better off putting them up in the bathrooms."
Grant narrowed his eyes grinning, "That's gonna knock down your tip smart guy!"
9/7 - 9/8 - Road to Waypoint 2
"Hen 2-23, I'm renaming this thing. It's now Samuel Jackson Star."
"Another day, another sandspur"
"At Waypoint 2, we got to spend some time blackhole surfing and racing. The best part about it though was I managed to get a hold of Bertuccio who started making his way towards me."
PS4 Meetup, Waypoint 2
"SRV race time!"
"Forgot to change my oil."
"Mass jump at a blackhole? Another idea that sounds good in theory."
"After meeting up, Bert and I had to take an entire month off of the expedition."
Grant took a few gulps of beer while Joe stood wide-eyed and concerned. "So wait..." he began then tapered off.
"Ann?" Grant frowned. Joe simply nodded. "Ann and I had a long candid talk."
9/11 - Bertuccio's ship, somewhere on the Carina Arm
"Who do you really work for?!" He demanded angrily at Ann who was cuffed and sitting in an airlock.
"Grant please," she cried, "I don't understand where this is coming from!"
It had been two days of non-stop questioning. Unfortunately she had been clever enough to wipe her logs to the point where even Fred couldn't restore them. "I'm done Ann, I know you're working for someone but I can't prove it." He sighed. "Sorry, but you died during the journey. Promise I'll have you returned to your family."
"Wait!" She finally surrendered and straightened up in the chair. "You're a bastard, you know that?" Grant's face was impassive. "I'm an agent for Emperor Arissa Lavigny-Duval, I was tasked with monitoring you and your comms. She has suspicions that you are...- wait, where are you going?"
John had started for the hatch, "How stupid do you think I am! This is your last chance to tell me the truth! The tiniest lie and you're out of here!"
She trembled in terror and rage. Finally she sighed in defeat, "I work for Aisling Duval-"
Joe's eyes were wide as saucers, "No shit... Aisling Duval herself? I wouldn't have figured her as the type to-"
"-Please, all of the big players in politics are conniving scum. Aisling is no different. Of course I knew I couldn't trust her, hell I only chose her as my client because I wanted access to her prismatic shield generators. In the time I've served I've yet to meet her. My only interaction has been through intermediaries. I've no real loyalty to her whatsoever. Still though, of all the bastards and bitches on the intergalactic stage, she was the only one I thought might effect real change in our time." He scoffed, "I had hoped she and I would meet so I could judge for myself her true character. It might have been that Ann was meant to vet me quietly but..."
Joe hesitated before asking, "As for Ann, did you, -you know?"
Grant laughed, "No! Geez, I'm not a complete dick. I interrogated her outside the bubble so my ship was subject to intergalactic law. While torture is technically illegal, corporal punishment isn't. Since the most I did to her was smack her on the face a few times and vaguely imply that I was going to airlock her; she can't say it was inhumane. I was careful to give her food, water, and time to sleep in between questioning. Ultimately I returned her to Aisling's people and got away with a slap on the wrist. Now I'm an independent pilot again."
"You're an asshole is what you are." Ann sat down next to him. "I'll have-"
"-Nothing." He glared bullets at her. "Joe, kindly call security. I want this bitch banned and removed from the premises."
"You're a petty bastard as well." Joe shook his head and went to call security. "Look Grant, I know you think you have me figured out-"
"-It wasn't hard Ann." He said through clenched teeth. "A buckeyball racer, explorer, dreamer? Your service record? All of it screamed too good to be true. Isabella saw it, but I was weak. I know you didn't kill Raúl or nothing, I'm well acquainted with your role in this. I was a spy once and I understand. Doesn't change the fact that I can't trust you."
Ann smiled, "I've been blacklisted John."
He scoffed, "So?"
"Check for yourself!" She insisted, "You've been there, you know how hard it was for me to get here from Cubeo." She sighed. "I also know you're working some sort of long con. It was my job to figure out what."
Grant grinned, "A job you failed miserably at."
A lump caught in her throat, "Do you want to hear my side?"
"Not particularly." John took another gulp of beer. "My cup runneth low and because of you my bartender is away fetching security." He groaned and went behind the bar.
"I didn't want to spy on you anymore." He paused in his tracks momentarily. "After we fought Zhou Li together, after I watched you and Vito bury your friend... I started," She groaned softly, "I came to care for you guys."
He resumed searching for a refill, "First rule of spycraft, don't get attached."
"Yes well, you won. I'm sure you're used to that by now."
"Hah! No, I'm not." He said pushing through beers. "Ehhh," he sighed, "What did you want to drink?"
"Any old stout will work. I'm not in the mood for anything fancy."
John pulled out two Highlands and they toasted, "Cheers!"
"Cheers!" She smiled. After a few moments spent regarding each other, she decided to swing for the fences. "I want in."
"I'm sure you do!"
"John please!" She begged, "I want to be with you guys, no matter what happens."
"You were in," he waved over security. "Now you're out."
"Miss please come with us." The head of security grabbed her shoulder and she wriggled away.
"It wasn't all a lie John," several guards tried to grab her unsuccessfully, "keep your hands off me! I'm going..."
After watching her go Grant sat back down and finished off his beer. "Joe, a good woman is hard to come by. Don't ever let her go if you find one."
Joe scoffed, "Good thing I'm gay."
John laughed until he cried, "Then you've been spared a lifetime of confusion and miss-communication."
Note: Yeah... been stupid busy for ReAl LiFe rEaSoNs. Moving, cutting ties, burying friends, changing jobs, NaNoWriMo. Promise my dumb stories will turn more cheerful again eventually. Just haven't been in a chipper mood. :/
Here's the rest of my Stellar Unknown pics
"Bit foggy out, use your headlights."
"It's.. c- c- c-... Cold..."
"Carina brand Pumpkins, perfect for a Nuclear Fall!"
"I swear something moved out there!"
"Last shot of Samuel Jackson Star, otherwise known as Hen 2-23"
Be very, very, quiet. I'm hunting anomalies.
"The Romulans are coming, the Romulans are coming. One if by space, two if bye Vulcan."
"Here we have the T-Type anomaly. It's the most dangerous anomaly out there. One mistake and it will turn red and destroy you... I'm gonna poke it with a stick."
"It's angry, it's angry!!!"