I'm heading home at a comfortable speed.
I've crossed from Xibalba to Kepler's Crest again, then navigated the Vacuum for my third time to get back into the Sanguineous Rim and reconnect with my previous route.
I'm in explored territory again, heading spinward towards the Elysian Shore and finally close the loop of my journey.
During my crossing of the Sanguineous Rim I stopped to take a look at two landmarks I had never seen before.
One of them was the Rosette Nebula.
The other stop was in the neighbouring Jellyfish Nebula, where a Neutron Star shone so bright that it lit the otherwise red gases with its blue colour.
My current destination is PHRIO PHOE NO-X D2-6, the final system before I turn to the Bubble, 116 jumps away now.
Navigating through the Vacuum was a breeze, thanks to the fact that I could retrace the steps from my first crossing. Stars were sparse, but not having to look for a viable body every jump surely helped.
Once I found myself in a spot with a decent star density I turned East and explored the part of Kepler's Crest I had neglected during my first trip.
I found a few interesting planets, but systems in the outer arms tend to be less prone to surprises.
I am now in Xibalba, in fact I'm almost at the end of the Arm. I could have travelled to its very end, which is about 3000 light years from my position.
Truth is, this space is tricky. The stars are VERY rare already, and starting to use FSD boosts at this distance means that I would have to stop several times to look for materials.
Considering that getting to the far end was not the goal of my trip - and I'm not particularly bothered at the moment - I decided that this is as far as I go.
I'm sure I'll regret this, but what the hell, I'm travel weary.
Long story short, I've turned my ship around and I'm finally going home.
In the meantime, here's some eye candy from a place far, far away.
I've crossed the Outer Orion Spur without nothing to report, and I've arrived, for the second time, to the Sanguineous Rim.
I landed here last year after crossing the Outer Arm Vacuus on my return from Kepler's Crest.
Chance has it that I'm now in the same system where I had decided, back then, to push forward towards the Tenebrae Region and close my loop of the Galaxy instead of going straight back to the Bubble from here.
Same as I did at the time, I've decided to pospone my return by a few weeks and go back to Kepler's Crest.
Point is, I have just realized that when I was in Kepler's Crest last time, after visiting Amundsen's Star, I had considered my trip almost done, so it didn't occur to me to continue East and peek at the Region of Xibalba.
Since my long term plan is now that of exploring all sectors of the Galaxy, leaving Xibalba behind means that - as remote as it is - I'd have to come here at some point just for the sake of it.
So, well, I'm doing it now that I'm at its closest.
Here's in green the path I'm going to take.
I look forward to being in Xibalba.
It's one of the most remote regions in the Galaxy, and if I decide to see the end of the Outer Arm I'll have to navigate though thin space, probably start managing my fuel properly, and gather some more materials for FSD boosts.
Again, I haven't decided yet.
Anyway, at the moment I'm displaying only the visited stars on my route plotter, so I'm sure I'm retracing my step exactly until the moment I'll have to turn East and follow the Outer Arm towards its end.
I just realized this is the fourth time I fly though Hawking's Gap.
Every time I have been here, however, I have crossed it along its shorter dimension, whereas this time my route has lead me to travel it lenghtwise.
It's funny how galactic sectors seem to have their specific feature (when they have one), that stops the moment you cross their border.
In Dryman's point I must have scanned at least a hundred Notable Stellar Phenomena.
The vast majority of them turned out being Peduncle Trees of some kind. However, right before the border with Hawking's Gap, I came across three Lagrange Clouds, which was a first for me.
The Notable Stellar Phenomena signals have stopped showing on my scanner the moment I crossed into Hawking's Gap, which to be honest hasn't been something to write home about so far.
I've found a below average number of interesting planets, zero biological signals and zero anomalies.
The only two bodies worthy of note were a Water World that orbited fairly close to its sun, and a pretty Ammonia World that sported a nice set of rings.
I am now almost at the end of the sector, near the point where I change my course and turn South.
I will cross the Orion Spur and get to the Perseus Arm, my next milestone roughly 10000 light years away.
That's when I'll decide whether I'm done with this trip and turn back home, or take a long detour. I'll think about it later.
I've flown East straight as an arrow and crossed the border into Dryman's Point in a reasonably short time.
I've also already intersected my previous route and turned South towards the Bubble.
Almost exactly at the point of intersection I hit a personal milestone.
1 million light years travelled, who would have thought.
Anyway, one feature I had forgotten about Dryman's Point is that it's packed full of Notable Stellar Phenomena.
Literally every other jump I come across a signal that I feel compelled to investigate. The vast majority of them are Peduncle Trees (I think I've scanned a thousand of them), but I also found a Metallic Crystal, which wasn't yet in my Codex.
The progress is slower with all these sites to scan, but I guess that's the whole point of exploring. I just wished there were more variety, and maybe a new discovery or two.
I think I tend to be more impatient when I start smelling home, although I might have decided to take a long detour before I actually make it to the Bubble.
More on this some other time.
To my regret, I've now left The Veils.
In fact, I've already crossed most of the Troyan Belt, reached one of my arbitrary landmarks, and turned East to start crossing into the Sagittarius-Carina Arm.
The last stop in The Veils was a beautiful nebula by the name of FLYAI FLYUAE AA-A H20.
It wasn't better or worse than most nebulae I've visited, but its peculiarity was that of being surrounded, in a radius of about 1000 light years, by a thick cloud of Neutron Stars.
This was fairly unexpected, as in the 155000 light years travelled in this journey so far, all pretty much at the same distance from the Core, I had come across only one.
It seems just a peculiarity of this neighbourhood, and almost a confirmation of the wonderous nature of The Veils.
Once crossed the border into the Trojan Belt, the magic seemed to be gone.
I did find a good deal of Water Worlds and a couple of Earth Likes, but in the same measure as the rest of the Galaxy. Nothing like the surprising troves of The Veils.
So, I'm not doing many stops, and I'm making good time towards one of the systems I had discovered in my previous trip.
In about 6000 light years I'll reconnect with my old route, and then I'll carry on counter-spinward towards the Bubble.
I'm in the Veils again.
It took a long time to get out the Formorian Frontier. For a start, it's vast. Then, I decided to fly across the outer border, almost close to the Abyss, and there weren't many stars to jump to so my route was fairly erratic.
Nonetheless, I am now in the Veils again, and they are awesome. Hands down the most eventul sector I've explored so far, and I'm including my previous loop of the Galaxy in this statement.
In less than 10000 light years I've discovered about a dozen Earth Like Worlds, maybe 50 Water Worlds and a couple dozen Ammonia worlds.
I've taken so many pictures that I could fill a gallery just with planets of The Veils.
But I'll post just a few.
This is a nice ringed Water World I came across.
This is one of the many Earth likes I discovered.
And this one is another Earth Like, its main feature being that I got distracted and face-planted onto its atmosphere, further damaging my power plant in the process.
Of all the Ammonia Worlds I found, this might be the prettiest.
The most interesting thing I saw in The Veils however is a Brown Dwarf with two sets of rings, the outer one humongous, almost 200 light seconds across. Between the outer and the inner ring two rocky planets orbit each other, both of them orbiting the star.
I had never seen something of the like.
I also had a couple of dangerous close calls.
In the first one I landed between an A star and its M star companion. Once again I managed to maneuver out of their furnace before my ship started frying.
In the second one I landed between two stars and managed to escape, only to end between another two binaries. This time my temperature got close to 100%, but I managed to get clear without popping my last Heat Sink.
This one was close.
Anyway, I'm not even halfway through The Veils, I look forward to seeing what else lies within.
In my last log I said something along the lines of "I have just one Heat Sink left and if I get out of hyperspace in the middle of two stars again all I have left is pray".
Literally - and I mean literally - one jump after I had said that I happened to land between these two bad boys.
I managed to sneak out of both exclusion zones before my dashboard started to smoke, so at least this time I made it unscathed, and without using my only Heat Sink.
Anyway, I'm well into the Formorian Frontier now.
First time I've been here, almost three years ago, I remember I couldn't help feeling in awe of this space.
Beyond the point I am now there's the feared Abyss, dark and starless, and after that the Northern edge of the Galaxy, where the most distant star from Sol shines.
I've crossed the Abyss four times already, but I still feel in awe of this distant frontier. It might be because that first time fewer than 50 people had made the crossing. It took me almost two weeks on my unengineered Asp, navigating manually one jump at a time between dead ends and impossible jumps.
The Formorian Frontier felt like the last safe space before the big troubles.
Anyway, in this last stretch I've dicovered, among other things, a very nice Earth Like World. In fact, I liked it so much that I saved two shots from that stop.
I am now in an almost empty system called BLAA BYOEKA IK-F B3 1-0. Its only distinctive quality is that I had discovered it four months ago during my last journey, and it marks the point where I reconnected with my old route and turn East.
The map of my past six months travels is starting to look more interesting.
This means I'm officially halfway though my trip.
I skipped through The Veils like a stone on water, but I managed to stop for a few scans.
The only event of note is that I got distracted while scooping fuel and crashed out of Supercruise in the exclusion zone of an O Class star.
No big deal, really, a part from a 2% damage on my Power Plant that I won't be able to repair until I dock at a Station.
But the accident made me realize two things:
first, I'm really happy with the setup of my Phantom. Sacrificing just a little bit of range to carry both AFMU and repair limpets was a good choice. Flying halfway through the galaxy with a smashed hull wasn't fun during my last vojage.
Anyway, I've just crossed into the Formorian Frontier, and I'm about 110 jumps from the next change of course, some 6500 light years away.
I've travelled across most of Newton's Vault Now, and I'm bound to the Fomorian Frontier, which I had visited twice before.
This last sector has been full of interesting discoveries, first of which was the nice nebula right past The Conduit, known by the uninspiring name of MYOANGOOE AA-A H2.
Well, it's not exactly a discovery, since everyone and their grandma had been here already, but it was a first for me.
Look how pretty it is.
I also came across this nice ringed Brown Dwarf that made a weird effect on its ring due to the shadow cast by its A Class companion.
If I had seen the like of this before I don't remember. The upside of having a bad memory is that everything is an undiscovered wonder given enough time.
Anyway, I've reached the arbitrary landmark from which I have to turn North and connect with the route of my previous vojage.
As you can see I'm almost close to the border, I'll cross into the Veils for a short time and straight up into the Fomorian Frontier.
Once in the system I've discovered 5 months ago I'll then turn East to complete the loop of the Galaxy.
The bend I-m designing now will make sense once I'll have completed my master plan of travelling though all the Arms.