The first person to answer my call for assistance with what to do in Colonia is also the first person to agree to an interview about living independently of Sol and the factioned, political interstellar community that developed as we pressed ever further out to the stars. One of the problems of meeting people in this galaxy is the time zones. At the usual time for Mr Dog to get into his flight suit and start running system checks, I was sipping the last of my hot chocolate and getting into bed.
Last night (Wednesday) I made an effort to stay up late again, and I managed to catch Mr Dog just as he was doing his pre-flights. Two pads over sat a deep red Gunship, and when I made eye with the Pilot, Mr Dog cut me a Federal-style salute to let me know I had found him.
Commander Scubadog first strikes me as a thoughtful and patient man. As he welcomed me aboard his Gunship, The Ceti Rebane his hospitality was tempered by a practical and worlds weary experience. The ship is both functional and homely. It has a job to do, but it’s also a good place to put your feet up and listen to the smooth jazz oozing like audible honey from the ship's coms while sipping your spirit of choice.
Scubadog and I before going for a patrol at a compromised Nav Beacon.
Mr Dog gave me the co-pilots seat and took us for a cruise heading for a place he knows that has a good view. The Ceti Rebane hummed steadily onwards telling me its power gen and thrusters didn’t just go from A to B, they were often pressed into service for more deadly matters.
Once the Gunship was aligned to the star so we had plenty of light without blinding us, I pulled out my slate and got straight into the questions. Mr Dog had mentioned a CNB he liked to patrol and a fighter hanger that didn’t currently have a pilot. He gave me the impression that would be the highlight of our little Q&A session.
“Let’s start where it started for you Mr Dog, How long had you been flying in the Bubble before you decided to head for Colonia?
The light of recollection glinted in his eyes and a flat lipped smile played on his face for a moment.
“I got my pilot's license four years ago. I had only been a commander for 3 months before I migrated to Colonia. I focused on courier, black box and trading missions to work my way up to a Diamondback Explorer after cutting my teeth on the Sidewinder”
“You had yourself a DBX? That’s a few upgrades beyond the shoe-box Sidewinder. With a good range ship in your possession, is that what made you want to leave the bubble?
“After completing some shorter exploration jaunts--which included visiting the California Nebula, I was itching to make a clean break from the Bubble. I didn't know about Neutron star scooping at the time, much less the Neutron Superhighway. I literally just pointed my ship toward Colonia and followed a succession of randomly-chosen waypoints 2000 lightyears at a time. It took me 3 months to finally slip into the mail slot at Jaques Station.
“If that was four years ago, that means the workshops weren’t yet open for tinkering with modules, and the Guardian sites were yet to be discovered. You made over twenty thousand light-years without upgrades or an FSD Booster? That’s an impressive claim by today’s standards. Did you not have any other ships? A small fleet or modules to have sent along once you settled in, or was it a clean start in Colonia?”
Mr Dog Laughed a good hearty laugh. The sort of mirth that comes from enlightening someone that just missed the point. With a friendly smile still on his face softening his words, Mr Dog put me right.
“Fleet? Stored modules? My friend, I traded everything I had for the Debbie and the necessary modules to go deep. All the worldly possessions I owned were shoved into The Ceti Fox (His DBX)...if I died in the Black there would be no trace I ever existed. I headed to Colonia in the truest fashion of the old covered wagon”
The Ceti Rebane & Lam Bam Thk U Ma'am
I nodded to myself after listening to that explanation. Just as I said in my first post, two types make it to Colonia, and I’m glad the first person I spoke to came driven by the pioneer spirit.
“A good point well-made Mr Dog. Knowing what you know now, would you take another approach to the journey if you had the chance to do it, and I do realize this is a contradiction in terms, again for the first time?”
“Would I do anything differently? Probably not. I've heard new pilots whine about it being hard to learn the ropes of commanding your own ship. That wasn't my experience at all. Could my migration to Colonia have been faster and smoother? Absolutely. I cruised into Jaques with only a third of my hull integrity left, most of my modules significantly damaged, my AFMS gave out along the way, but what I learned in the three-month journey--and well over 100 million credits of cartographic data, was invaluable”
“Mr Dog, you came here with only a DBX and a fist full of exploration data. Its clear you eventually turned that into a home. What advice would you have for anyone else thinking of making a life in Colonia?”
That made him raise his eyebrows. I could tell he had a lot of advice to give and he needed to line it up internally before imparting his time earned wisdom.
Scubadog and I were joined by another member of the Silverbacks squadron, Junagu
“So, I've actually posted a pretty thorough log entry on the very subject of preparing for “The Move.” The first thing is get friendly with any engineers you need to that will allow you to use the engineers in Colonia, even if you really don't think you'd want to use engineers...and pin those blueprints!”
“That was what prompted my very first visit back to the Bubble. Second, pick a ship and outfit it with anything you might not be able to get yet in Colonia. Available ships and modules have dramatically improved since I first moved here, but there are still some stragglers, no Imperial ships are available for instance.”
“Third, if you have a fleet and are planning to move any or all of it out there, fly your most expensive ship out here, and then weigh the cost of bringing any of your other ships. Ships and modules are more expensive in Colonia, but they're still a lot cheaper than transferring. To the extent you can, buy modules in the Bubble in sizes and classes that might not be available in Colonia and store them for transfer later. Again, it will be expensive to transfer them when you need them, but it will save you a trip back if you don't fancy the travel.”
“Fourth, be prepared for the fact that everything that's available in Colonia is significantly closer. Even in a Sidewinder, most systems are only 2 or 3 jumps apart, and we have a much larger concentration of Neutron stars to make it a breeze. Finally, because we're still sparsely settled, ganking and piracy is hardly a thing here. Mining for the high-credit materials is almost worry-free here. I would argue that you can build up your bank account a LOT faster here than in the Bubble”
I could tell he was searching his mind for anything he may have missed, but after he mentioned mining, I had to interrupt before I forgot to ask.
Troubel on patrol. Anaconda flavored.
“Touching on what you just said about earning credits here, what do you do to make a living?”
“I'm primarily an explorer. I embrace The Black in all it's wonder and boredom. I currently have two ships configured for that purpose, my favorite being the Anaconda. Having said that, in the past year I recognized that it takes me a lot longer to build up the old bank account doing meaningful exploration than it does to mine certain materials. So, I taught myself deep core mining as a means to quickly buff up my credits after a particularly large spending spree. It also provides a bit of change of pace to keep me mentally healthy”
That rang so true with me. After my first expedition, I enjoyed the easy pace of mining and sonar-like ping of the analyzer. In a lot of ways, mining is very much like exploring, but knowing I could just make a jump or two and be back home was much better than being stuck out in that black. Home is where the heart is, and many commanders call their ship home. I wondered if this was true for Mr Dog.
This raider did not back down
“Do you have a station you call home Mr Dog?”
“My home station is now Bisley Landing in the Benzaiten system. When I first migrated to Colonia I settled on Colonia Dream in Ratraii because it had the largest shipyard and the widest variety of modules, although you still have to go to Colonia, Ogmar and a couple of other systems for some ships or modules.”
“After three years, though, the very utilitarian scenery inside a Coriolis station gets...depressing. I began a search for a station with more lush views and discovered that Benzaiten is a system heavy on tourism. Bisley was exactly what the doctor ordered. Colonia Dream didn't support stellar cartography or interstellar factors, whereas Bisley supports both. Bisley's shipyard is as small as you can get and module selection is minimal. But everything is SO close in Colonia, it's not an issue”
Lush Views indeed
“You have a home and you know where to go to keep the credits flowing. Is there anything you miss about the Sol bubble at all?”
“What do I miss about the Sol Bubble? Nothing. It's that simple. With a decent jump range and plotting mostly Neutron stars along the path, if I absolutely must visit the Bubble it's not the juggernaut my initial trip was, but there's absolutely nothing a must go back for.”
“Opportunities out here are significantly better than in the Bubble, as far as I'm concerned, so it's absolutely been worth it to migrate here.”
He said that with a still friendly face, but a steely determination in his eyes. It was more than evident going back to The Bubble was not at all on his mind.
I don't know how we didn't ram that bounder.
“You have been most accommodating Mr Dog and I thank you for your hospitality. In general, how do you think visitors from the bubble are received in Colonia?”
“Visitors are received well, on the whole. But, it's not unlikely to run across a commander who is focused on his or her belly button and won't give you another thought--or respond to a quick "o7". Most will respond to hails, and if you’re both sitting at a station a nice discussion will often ensue.”
“It’s always nice to know civility isn’t dead. Do you feel like it’s “Us and Them” when it comes to the people of Sol and Colonia?”
That question caused a bit of a squint to crease the Commander's face and I felt like I’d pressed Mr Dog to look for an answer to a question he’d never felt the need to ask himself.
“I'd say there's only a little bit of the "us vs them" feel here. When someone comes here and then starts to trash the region I get pretty defensive. It's easy to draw me into the "well, here's why life in the Bubble sucks" tit-for-tat. But, I always have to fall back to the idea that it's a big galaxy, 99% of it is unexplored, untamed, so there's room for everyone.”
“Every person is different in terms of what drives them, what satisfies them. It's really no different than city folk vs country folk. I don't care for the bustle. Others feed off of it. If I were to make one selling point to other commanders it would be this: If you can muster a decent ship to come out to Colonia, you'll probably not find a better opportunity to gain wealth quickly without hassle.”
“Come out here, give it a try. Get a DBX, learn to scoop Neutron stars, and come out here for some mining. If you want someone to give you the tour, show you the ropes, just stop by Bisely Landing in Benzaiten. I'll even provide cover while you try your hand at mining, but you probably won't need it.”
The smile on his face was just as warm and friendly as the drink we were sharing while we talked and I genuinely felt I was sitting opposite a man that would go out his way to help a passing Commander with an issue.
Thus far my experience in Colonia has been as easy and laid-back as Scubadog of the Silverbacks. Easily a great spokesman for Colonia, and a fantastic example for his squadron.