Since the Pilots Federation endorsed passenger flights and the Beluga luxury liner entered the market, the tourism industry has boomed. Commander Duck of Death, a seasoned explorer, took this reporter on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the far side of the galaxy.
Our journey took us to the Black in Green Nebula, Sagittarius A* and the Red and Green Glory Nebula, as well as a planetary ring with a staggering 54 million kilometre radius. But that wasn't all.
"I've been planning to go to Beagle Point for a few months," said Duck of Death. "Since I'm on the original roster, I feel I have an obligation to complete the expedition."
Spirits were high as we traversed the abyss and entered the Solitude Void, but as the bright lights of the core dwindled, I could sense the primordial fear building. Finally, we reached Beagle Point. Before us was the entire Milky Way, farther away than ever, and behind us...the rest of the universe. We were standing on the edge of infinity.
Freelance Reporter, Elite Travel Writers' Cooperative
The Buckyball Racing Club is back with a new race, and this time it's taking on the aliens.
Kick the Alien (and Run like Hell) is a 26-kilometre roundtrip SRV race. The event starts at the Noctrach-Ihazevich Research facility and involves driving to the nearby crash site, 'kicking the alien', and then driving back to the research facility as fast as possible.
A representative for the Buckyball Racing Club said: "All other methods of interaction with the crash sites have failed to get a response – perhaps this will wake them up".
The race starts on Saturday the 26th of November and is expected to last for two weeks. Competitors can make their run at any time during this period, and can run as many times as they like.
Commander Alec Turner
Following reports of unprovoked assaults on Canonn vessels from Farragut Battle Cruisers in the Merope system, Dr Arcanonn of the Canonn Interstellar Research Group has released the following statement:
"This is a regrettable misstep, and I invite the Federation to explain how these battle cruisers can represent anything other than militarised resource denial. The presence of gun emplacements by as-yet unknown parties was already a cause for concern, and this worrying development smacks of gunboat diplomacy."
At least eight Farragut Battle Cruisers are understood to have been sighted in Merope, all identified as Federal.
Dr Arcanonn continued:
"I am morally compelled to insist on a public inquiry examining the deployment of warships to a system that plays home to an insufficiently understood phenomenon."
Commander Nicholas Powell
The Formidine Rifters are an unlikely collective of explorers from various backgrounds, systems and factional allegiances who have put aside their political differences to work together toward a common goal. For several months, they have been working together to map the region between the two farthest galactic arms just past the Heart and Soul Nebula.
Commander Finn McMillan of the Earth Expeditionary Fleet, one of the many Rifters devoted to this project, addressed the galactic exploration community today:
"We would like to invite all explorers dedicated to expanding human knowledge to join us in the Formidine Rift. We have reason to believe that there is something beyond the galactic arm that may change humanity's view of the cosmos, but we simply need more eyes, ears and minds to help us unravel this mystery."
On the 10th of February 3301, two Faulcon DeLacy Cobras launched from Allen Platform in the Dijkstra system. Piloted by Commander Dr Simms and Commander Sid Solo, the ships were fitted for an endurance attempt unlike any other. Now, more than 16 months later and having circumnavigated the galactic core, the pair is about to return to inhabited space.
There have been many changes since they left: software updates have allowed them to go from making short hops of 100 light years to plotting routes of 1,000 light years at a time, improved communications and wing dynamics have facilitated the sharing of exploration data in a manner unprecedented before their departure, and planetary landings have now been authorised. Indeed, neither ship is fitted for SRV activity.
What are their feelings as they approach the human sphere? "I'm not sure," said Dr Simms, "I'm worried about docking at a space station again. It's been so long since I saw anything other than stars and distant worlds, I'm not sure I remember how to land."
Commander Sid Funkleton
A fleet of over 4,000 survey and support vessels has departed from Mitterand Hollow in Epsilon Indi. The Crab Nebula Expedition is the largest coordinated flight of explorers since the Distant Worlds Expedition. It has attracted a wide range of pilots, from veterans to beginners taking their first trip outside the bubble.
The goal of the Expedition is a detailed planetary and mineral survey of tens of thousands of systems outwards of Sol, focusing on the regions around many well-known nebulae. The expedition is expected to reach the Crab Nebula on the 5th of July 3302, with the survey completed and the data returned in early August.
Felicity Farseer and Elvira Martuuk have personally refitted many of the exploration vessels. With both engineers claiming that their designs provide the best performance, this will be a major test for both.
Commander Ian Doncaster
New Africa Gazette
It is almost a month since Jaques departed from Gliese 1269 for Beagle Point in his specially modified Orbis Starport. Pilots from the Distant Worlds Expedition and the FGE exploration wings had been eagerly awaiting Jaques's arrival.
Jaques' travel time was originally predicted to be about one week, but this time passed with no sign of the space station. Many pilots remained hopeful that Jaques would arrive in time for the end of the Distant Worlds Expedition on the 5th of June, but the closing ceremony was conducted without him.
With the expedition over, anxiety started to take hold of the remaining pilots, as many had been depending on Jaques' arrival to replenish supplies and make essential repairs for their onward journeys.
Fearing that the starport might have suffered an accident, searches of planets in the Beagle Point region were organised, led by Commander 'Erimus' Kamzel. On the 12th of June almost twenty pilots conducted an intensive search around the base camp on Darwin's Legacy, covering nearly 20,000 square kilometres, but no sign of the spaceport was found.
The search took place in almost total darkness, at low altitude. Several ships and SRVs suffered damage, and one pilot ran out of fuel, necessitating rescue by the Fuel Rats. With hope all but lost and the risks to pilots becoming ever greater, the search was reluctantly called off.
Commander Mad Billy
Starport personnel across the Lave cluster are preparing for an increase in traffic, as pilots from the Buckyball Racing Club and the Elite Racers compete in their latest event. The 'Old World Hustle', which combines point-to-point rallies and zero-gravity aerobatics, runs from the 11th to the 19th of June 3302.
Despite being held in low esteem by authorities, both the Buckyball Racing Club and the Elite Racers are privately acknowledged as providing a boost to commerce in systems where their events take place, particularly by the proprietors of station bars and the purveyors of outfitting services.
"Insurance claims are good for business," said a salesman at the Lave Station shipyard, before hastily adding "although of course a pilot's safety is our primary concern."
A flight recording has surfaced revealing the destruction of a Fuel Rat rescue vessel.
Two Fuel Rat pilots responded to an emergency call and refuelled an apparently stranded Python. One Fuel Rat jumped out of the system, but the Python pilot made his move before the second could follow. The footage shows that the attack was swift and came without warning, and resulted in the destruction of the Fuel Rat vessel.
The attacker claims to have been collecting a bounty set by another Commander, who has denied the claim. Regardless of the ultimate truth, both pilots have since been the target of manhunts. The long-term consequences of this incident remain to be seen.
Speaking from the Canonn Interstellar Research Institute, Dr Arcanonn has commented on the current state of barnacle research and lauded the discovery of harvesting sites in the California Nebula:
"Once again, the efforts of an independent explorer have resulted in an exciting discovery. Thanks to Commander Wobblytickle's report from California Sector DL-Y D4 C6, the long-suspected presence of barnacles in the California Nebula has now been confirmed."
But Dr Arcanonn's tone grew notably cooler when speaking about the barnacles of the Pleiades Nebula:
"The loss of several barnacles – whether through destruction or exhaustion – is naturally of concern to those of us investigating this enigma."
Commander Nicholas Powell
Humanity's newest and most advanced Unknown Artefact research centre, the Canonn Institute in Col 285 Sector IX-T d3-43, is finally open.
Dr Arcanonn, under heavy guard, was the first to arrive at the opening ceremony, and he had this to say:
"It is an amazing feeling to stand before after being in hiding for so long. After more than a year of work, the Canonn has become one of the most open, diligent and dedicated science organisations in inhabited space, and now we have an amazing research centre."
"I want to thank those who supported the construction of the institute. I'm looking forward to repaying that faith by sharing the discoveries we make here!"
Dr Arcanonn finished by announcing an open order for UAs and meta-alloys to help initiate research at the institute.
Commander Lord Zoltan
Cynthia Sideris, chair of Universal Cartographics, made a brief comment outside UC headquarters this morning on Jasmina Halsey's ostensibly unsuccessful search for the "architects of creation":
"Whether or not President Halsey's 'architects' exist is open to question, but chances are that some form of non-human sentience exists in our galaxy. We've received data from as far as Beagle Point, but even that represents only an infinitesimal fraction of known stars in the galaxy. We can only keep looking."
President Halsey's psychological review continues.
Commander Stateira Eleshenar
Zandu Science Journal | Interstellar Press
As Federal and Imperial factions continue to fight for control of the contested Neits system, the New Galactic Cooperative of Worlds has issued a statement denouncing the violence. GalCop's representative, Jahena Yar Savor, addressed both sides of the conflict, and appealed for an end to hostilities in the spirit of cooperation and unity.
"Our differences must not be settled through violence," said Savor. "This conflict may have begun because of ideals, but it has led to very real damage. Until both sides set aside their differences and their weapons, the citizens and business interests of Neits will continue to suffer."
'Disc' Commander Felix Dyson - Radio Skvortsov
A demonstration was held today at Leoniceno Orbital in Azaleach calling for the immediate release of all information submitted in response to former Federal president Jasmina Halsey's appeal for exploration data.
"Something isn't right here," said one of the demonstrators. "Mountains of data were submitted, and within two days they were able to review it thoroughly enough to declare there was absolutely nothing of interest? This reeks of a cover up."
Speakers at the rally demanded that the Azaleach Partnership, to which the information was submitted, release the data so its findings could be independently verified.
"Science relies on openness, collaboration and peer review," argued one speaker. "It's an integral part of the process. Any conclusions based on secret data should be treated with suspicion."
Three individuals carrying pamphlets identifying them as members of 'The Hands of the Architects' have been apprehended at Jaques Station. Starport personnel discovered the individuals attempting to modify the station's frame shift drive.
A station spokesperson said: "The individuals are apparently members of a cult that arose shortly after Jasmina Halsey first claimed to have encountered super-intelligent, non-human life. Materials confiscated from the individuals indicate that they hoped to force a mis-jump during Jaques's forthcoming journey to Beagle Point. Apparently they thought this would give them an opportunity to meet Halsey's 'architects'."
The would-be saboteurs are currently being held in custody at Jaques Station while starport personnel discuss possible extradition with nearby systems.
A Radio Skvortsov commentator recently reported that extremists from the Eravate system were attacking traders running liquor and other legal narcotics to Skvortsov Orbital. The traders, who hail from all sides of the galaxy, were invited to the system by the Diamond Frogs to supply a party celebrating the return of the Distant Worlds Expedition. But recent reports indicate that the Eravate extremists are not the only ones preying on the traders.
According to these new reports, some Diamond Frog ships are also participating in the piracy. Although there is no evidence that the Diamond Frogs' leaders or prominent Commanders are orchestrating or participating in these attacks, numerous pilots have reported being interdicted by hostile Diamond Frog vessels.
One disgruntled Commander claimed that he had been interdicted multiple times by a number of different Diamond Frog ships. The pilot said: "The dingbats keep pulling me out of supercruise, and it's starting to get annoying! Don't get me wrong, the Diamond Frogs seem like good people, and I'll continue to deliver booze for those brave explorers, but they really need to get their house in order and put a stop to these shenanigans. It's casting a shadow on the whole endeavour."
Commander Virgil Kyle
Earlier this week, private security firm the Diamond Frogs issued a request for liquor and other legal narcotics to be delivered to Skvortsov Orbital in 63 G. Capricorni for a massive party celebrating the success of the Distant Worlds Expedition. Independent traders throughout civilized space have responded enthusiastically to the appeal, but it would appear not everyone wants to share in the festivities.
Recent reports indicate that an extremist temperance organisation from the nearby system of Eravate has been interdicting and destroying merchants attempting to deliver legal intoxicants to Skvortsov Orbital. Although only minor casualties have been reported, representatives from the Diamond Frogs have expressed concern about the social unrest in Eravate spilling over into neighbouring sectors.
Commander Paramemetic, the Diamond Frogs' chief logistics officer, said that the security firm would take steps to ensure the safety of traders making deliveries. "It's a shame these puritanical troublemakers are trying to steal the spotlight from the explorers," he said, "but we'll make sure they don't interfere with the celebrations."
'Disc' Commander Felix Dyson, Radio Skvortsov
Preparations are underway for the Distant Worlds Expedition gala at Skvortsov Orbital, but one explorer will be unable to attend: Commander Olivia Vespera, pilot of the expedition's fleet flagship, a Type-9 named Zombie Wasp IV.
At the time of writing, Commander Vespera is still at Beagle Point, prospecting for the necessary materials to synthesize 'jumponium', a colloquial moniker given by explorers to frame-shift-drive injection. Without it, Vespera will be unable to return home.
But Commander Vespera is unconcerned – in fact, she's jubilant.
"I got a message saying that Jaques Station is coming to Beagle Point. I might actually be the first to meet him here!"
One year ago today, Federal President Jasmina Halsey and Vice-President Ethan Naylor embarked on a tour of Federation frontier systems. Two weeks later, Starship One was declared missing with all hands. Despite initial assessments that the ship would never be found, the remains of the vessel were located and a handful of survivors recovered, including former president Halsey.
Although Halsey had many political opponents, she also had many supporters. Some of these supporters have assembled outside the psychiatric facility on Mars where Halsey is currently located, waving signs and chanting various slogans, seeking her release.
Rachel Young, one of the most vociferous of the former president's supporters, made this statement to on-site reporters:
"President Halsey worked hard for the Federation. She deserves to be with her family. She deserves the respect and protection any former president is entitled to, not to be locked up in the funny farm."
Federal law enforcement is monitoring the protest to ensure it remains peaceful.
Dr Derthek, a founding member of the Canonn Interstellar Research Group, has embarked on an ambitious project to map NGC 6357, also known as the War and Peace Nebula, in its entirety.
Before departing, Dr Derthek gave a brief interview explaining his motivation:
"I've examined the Unknown Artefacts, I've seen the barnacles, I've even completed a circumnavigation of the galaxy. But the estimated 13,000 systems of NGC 6357 have always fascinated me. It's one of the most prominent sites of massive-star formation close to the bubble."
"I think there's something out there, although I don't know what. But it'll be my home until my ship, the RSV Canonn, has visited every single system. I might find more barnacles, more UAs, or something entirely new. Who knows?"
Hundreds of fellow scientists have sent messages of support, and Universal Cartographics is understood to be eagerly awaiting Derthek's return.
Commander Lord Zoltan