07 JUL 3305, Hamilton Gateway, system Wolf 406 (Headquarters of the Alliance Elite Diplomatic Corps)
This is Jav Marlo, on board the Cratos, landed at Hamilton Gateway, the headquarters of the Alliance Elite Diplomatic Corps, in system Wolf 406.
This has been a very strange week. I must confess that my trip to system Hoff and my encounter with Zal Marlo, my alleged brother, has affected me. Besides the fact of discovering that I might have a family after all, based on what Zal said, my father could be a Federal. How can this be? It is true that he was always absent, flying missions, but he was a high rank Alliance operative. That I know. Maybe he was not running missions but raising a family on Mars. Or maybe he was a cover agent. That would make him a traitor, instead of a hero of the Alliance. I needed to find answers so, right after leaving Zal at Oluwafemi Terminal, I headed towards Dublin Citadel, to the place where I grew up, seeking for answers.
Zal said that our father disappeared while conducting a cover operation in Alliance territory. That does not match with what they told me. According to the Alliance Defence Force, my father’s Asp Explorer was found adrift in Merope with no signs of him or his body. I did not think it was appropriate to tell Zal Marlo about this. I barely know him. I am going to need to learn more about him too. In the following days, I went again through all the files about my father services for the Alliance. Most of the information is classified, specially his mission logs. Nothing there. I tried in the past to contact the Alliance Council of Admirals looking for answers about my father disappearance with no success. It was my plan to get some notoriety among the Alliance factions in order to try again, but now I cannot do it. What would happen if I discover that he was a spy for the feds, that he was a traitor? That would put me in a very difficult position. I am a member of the AEDC militia now. I have met again with all my father’s contacts and friends here at Dublin Citadel. I cannot tell them about him maybe being a Fed, so I tried unfruitfully to get information from them while concealing my suspects. Another cul de sac. Professor Palin suggested me in my last trip to the Pleiades that maybe I should ask the notorious engineers Bill Turner and Lori Jameson about Alliance cover operations that my father might be involved in. He also warned me about Bill Turner. It does not matter now. Both engineers are still way out of my reach. The only thing that was clear for me was that I needed to discover who my father really was, if what Zal Marlo told me about him was true, before digging more on his disappearance in the Merope system.
After three days in Dublin Citadel, I was going mad. Many of the things I gave for settled were being questioned now. I felt like a foreigner in my own hometown. Not that I was never very attached to any place, but I grew up here, and now everything seemed a lie to me. I was getting paranoid. I even thought that I was under the eye of the Alliance Interpol. So, I decided that I had to leave. I had heard that Aegis Research had issued a statement about growing concerns that meta-alloy harvests in the Pleiades Nebula had slowed dramatically. And that they were asking pilots to hand exploration data to The Oracle in the Delphi system. I discovered many ammonia worlds on my way back from Beagle Point and I still got that data, so I headed for the Pleiades again. At least, this way, I could contribute a little bit to the war against the Thargoids.
The trip made me good. I remember that going to the Pleiades seemed like a huge adventure time ago. Now, after being in Beagle Point, it seemed like a turn around the block. Anyhow, I did not stay there for long. After cashing the remains of my exploration data, I headed back to system Wolf 406, to Hamilton Gateway, my new home. I needed to think what would be my next step. Maybe I should go to Mars and see if I could find information about my father there. But Sol is a permit locked system. You need to have a rank in the Federation Navy to be allowed to travel there. And, besides, with everything that is happening now, it seemed too dangerous.
While I was thinking on my next steps, I decided to concentrate in my role as part of the AEDC militia. I took some petty courier missions for Wolf 406 Transport & Co, and move around some systems in the surroundings. Doing that I started to take conscience that the scope of the AEDC operations is vast, and that most of these operations involve defending the Alliance territory and its factions from pirates and worst. If I wanted to really contribute, it was clear that I was going to need a bigger ship. One that would be capable of sustaining heavy combat. It was time to gear up.
I acquired my only experience in combat during my first trip to the Pleiades. I expended a week there helping the local security force fight the pirates that were attempting to take over an asteroid ring in several skirmishes. That got me a reputation among the local factions and the rank of Expert in combat. I flew a Viper Mark III that I called the Achilles and collected 481 bounty-vouchers on it. But, to be honest, the local forces did most of the job and I had never pull the trigger again after that. Now, with the credits I earned on Distant Worlds 2, I thought I could afford a bigger ship. And there was only one ship I could think of. The true war horse of the Alliance: The Chieftain.
According to Lakoon Spaceways, the Alliance Chieftain has been designed not only to dish out punishment, but to avoid it. The Chieftain is more manoeuvrable than ships of similar size and weight, and its combat profile means it can more than hold its own in a fight. I A-rated every system of the ship and mounted three multi-cannons and three small railguns. I installed some surface reactive composite armor and reinforced the hull along with the modules. I added some countermeasures too, a FSD interdictor and a fuel scoop. I wanted it to be difficult to spot in a fight, so I chose a dark paint, but added some green stripes. After all, I meant to use it for defending the Alliance space. The only thing left was to choose a proper name. And, being this a ship created with the only purpose of combat, I decided that Cratos, the personification of power, strength and dominium in Greek mythology, would be a proper name. Now it was time to try it.
That is the biggest ship I have owned. And the most expensive. Everything in the Chieftain is combat oriented. No room for luxuries. The crew quarters are Spartan but appropriate. Just equipped with the basics. They clearly were not thinking in long trips. The canopy is incredible spacious. Or it seemed to me, used to smaller ships. It holds space for a co-pilot and offer great views. I must confess that I love the thrill of testing a new ship.
I took the Cratos out for its first flight and confirmed that the Chieftain is incredible nimble for its size. They say it was designed to counteract the agility of the Thargoid interceptors. I wanted to get used to fly on it, so I decided to visit some of the engineers in the surroundings and see if they could tinker a little bit with its systems. And that is when the Chieftain proved that it was designed just for combat. Accustomed to the Hyperion and the Electra, the Cratos is a real pain to move around the Bubble. Even after Farseer increased its jump range, the tiny fuel tank makes necessary to fuel scoop at every star, and the overcharged power plant overheats easily, at least compared to a Diamondback Explorer.
I have engineered the Cratos to the limit that my resources allowed me. Modifications do not come cheap, but I must say that I put the Painite Zal Marlo gave me to a good use. The engineers are very demanding. It seems that I am going to need a lot of materials if I want squeeze the whole potential of this ship. But I am quite satisfied with the results so far. I guess this is a work in progress.
It was time for a real combat test. There is always a Compromised Navigation Beacon someplace in the Alliance space, where wanted vessels piloted by criminals have overcome the security forces and fly around harassing the disgraced pilots that arrive there. This places are ripe for bounties too. They are really dangerous combat grounds, with no backup and, usually, they should be avoided at all costs. The perfect set up for a ship like the Cratos. I found one and dropped to normal space. Seconds later a Krait Phantom approached and scanned me. On this occasion, instead of running, I deployed my hardpoints.
In the following days I fought every wanted ship I could. I challenged Kraits, Clippers, wings of Eagles, Cobras, Anacondas and even Type 10 Defenders. During the first encounters I had to retreat several times with my ego wounded and my ship scratched, but I went to Todd “The Blaster” Mc Quinn and overcharged my multi-cannons. After that, with their new incendiary rounds, they started to melt the enemy ships shields. Then I could snipe through their systems with my rail guns. I lost my shields many times, but the reinforces to the hull always managed to resist until the shields recover. After three days, I was able to defeat Elite Anacondas, Kraits and Type 10 Defenders. Most of the encounters with these incredible dangerous enemies left me bruised and battered and in need of patching at the nearest station. It seems that the Chieftain has a tendency to take all the strikes to its canopy. It did not matter to me. I took the scratches as a badge of honor. They were the marks that proved my progress as a combat pilot and, as I have said, this is a work in progress.
Jav Marlo signing out.
30 JUN 3305, Hamilton Gateway, system Wolf 406 (Headquarters of the Alliance Elite Diplomatic Corps)
This is Jav Marlo, on board the Electra, landed at Hamilton Gateway, the headquarters of the Alliance Elite Diplomatic Corps, in system Wolf 406. Hours ago I received a very intriguing message sent by someone who says he is my brother. My father was Cisco Marlo, an explorer for the Alliance given for dead in 3300 while exploring an unidentified signal source in the Merope system. I never got to knew my mother, Cia. As far as I know I do not have any family. This alleged brother of mine, Zal Marlo, must be an impostor. He wants to talk to me. I need to know what is he up to. I have decided to keep a log of my inquiries in this matter. I must get to the bottom of it.
I have responded to the message of Zal Marlo:
This is Jav Marlo. Let’s talk.
And he has answered:
Not like this. Let’s meet at system Hoff. I will light a beacon.
He wants to meet in space. Where is this system Hoff?... It is Federation territory. And there is more. That system was recently attacked by the Thargoids. The whole place must be a mess. The local security force will be probably overwhelmed. It seems too risky.
Who this Zal Marlo might be? Let’s see if I can find anything in the GalNet. I cannot believe it. He has a public profile file at the Inara database. Zal Marlo: Trader and miner. Competent in combat. Elite in trade. A wealthy man with a vast number of ships in propriety, including some very dangerous ones. I do not like this.
Let’s find if I can trace the origin of his message. Good. That was easy. He is not concealing his signal. It clearly originates at Herbert Dock, a Coriolis starport in system Wolf 906. Federation Territory. He wanted me to find it, or he did not care. Or could it be a trap?
I am agreeing to his terms:
Ok. System Hoff then. In eight hours.
He replied immediately:
Roger that. Bring some limpets.
Limpets? What for? Ok. I will play your game, for the moment. I will take the Electra. Like this, I am sure I will be able to run away if things get nasty. Not many ships can outrun this beauty. That eight hours window gives me time to pay a visit to Herbert Dock. Let’s see if I can spot him before he sees me.
I have arrived to system Wolf 906 and I am outside Herbert Dock. Lights off. All non-essential systems switched off. I am keeping a reasonable distance to the starport entrance and I am scanning every ship that leaves the station looking for commander Zal Marlo. Despite my efforts to be discreet, the local authorities have scanned me and asked about my business four times in the last two hours.
Wait. Here is the man. Commander Zav Marlo is approaching the entrance. And he is flying… What! A Type 7 transport. And it is unarmed. I feel somehow disappointed. I was expecting something more… more threatening. The man has a Mamba and he is coming in that flying brick. I could outrun him in my Type 6.
He is charging his FSD. He has jumped. I better hurry to Hoff system. I think he poses no threat for me at the moment. But better keep my eyes open. He may have friends. This still could be a trap.
I have arrived to the Hoff system. I can see the beacon of Zal Marlo. Dropping to normal space. There he is. And he is alone. Approaching.
Here I am. What do you want from me?
I just wanted to meet you. I am your brother. Well, your half-brother.
You must be mistaken. I don’t have brothers. Neither half-brothers.
Your father was Cisco Marlo. He was my father too.
That’s not possible. How can this be?
I don’t know yet. But I’m sure we are family. I was hoping that you would help me to figure it out.
I don’t believe you.
I’ve brought you a present, brother. Consider it a good will token.
Don’t move. I’m getting closer. I want to see you.
You don’t have to worry brother. I’ll stay still.
If I see any movement, I’ll obliterate you. I mean it. And don’t call me brother again.
I know you’ll do. Keep calm.
I’ve never seen you in my life. I don’t know you. What do you want from me? Why did you bring me here?
I mean no harm to you. I already told you. I just wanted to know you, brother.
Stop calling me that.
Don’t you want to see what I brought to you? I hope you have some limpets in this Cobra of yours. Let me show you.
Don’t do anything. Don’t open your cargo hatch. What are you doing?
Relax. See what is in it.
Painite? You… you brought me Painite? Why?
I just want to help you. You’re going to need Painite. I am a miner. I had Painite, so I brought it to you.
For what do I need Painite?
You need Painite to get to Selene Jean. I know Selene. She is really good reinforcing hulls and armours. I know that she has invited you to her installations. And she charges 10 tons of Painite to access her services. Are you taking it or not? This is not easy to get.
Ok. I am deploying my limpets. If this is some kind of trap…
I know, I know, you’ll obliterate me.
So, what now? I take the Painite. What do you want in exchange for it? I have credits.
I have credits too. You can take the Painite. It’s free. I just would like you to accompany me to some place. Don’t worry. It’s within the system.
And what if I don’t want to. I could collect the Painite and leave. You cannot catch me in that ship. Yes, you could. But you wouldn’t know why this was for. Relax, please. I know this is odd, but I just want you to see something. You can run away in this superfast Cobra of yours whenever you want. I just want you to come with me… Are you taking the damn Painite or not?
Ok. Ok. But don’t do anything or…
I know, I know… just relax bro… I mean… sorry.
If I should buy this story of yours. How did you get to know about me? I have passed a lot of time in deep space.
I know. Distant Worlds 2. And I got to know about your existence because of that expedition. You may not know, but you were famous for a couple of days. You appeared on the news. It seems that you have discovered the hottest icy body of the galaxy. Imagine my surprise when I read that a commander by the name Jav Marlo was returning from Beagle Point and had discovered a superhot ice rock. Ours ain’t a common family name, did you know?
That was by chance. Totally unintended. I just explored that system because I detected three water worlds in it, and they are worth a lot of credits. I even didn’t know about that until I returned and saw that the Galactic Mapping Project database has awarded me with a badge for discovering a galactic record. Did that appear in the news? Are you serious? That is true. You can check it. While you were flying back, your telemetry data was received by the Galactic Mapping Project and they published the breaking of the record. Dryaa Byio SZ-X d1-32 7, the hottest icy body. You were famous, at least for a while. I am afraid someone broke your record soon after. I am sorry bro… ahem, I mean I am sorry.
I am done. I have the Painite. What happens now?
Now you decide if want to follow me.
Follow you where?
To Lecrerc Terminal. An Orbis starport just a few light seconds away.
Ok. You first. Jav Marlo signing out.
I do not buy this story, but I want to know where it leads. The Painite is good and it will become useful. And I have seen no threats yet. So, I am going to play Zal Marlo’s game just a little bit more. I am arriving to Leclerc Terminal. Disengaging Frame Shift Drive. What the...! This place is in flames. The Thargoids! It must have been them. Leclerc Terminal is burning.
Zal. What is this? This place is doomed. Did you know about this? Is this some kind of trick?
That’s what I wanted you to see. A lot has happened here in the Bubble since you departed on your sightseeing trip along the galaxy.
Ok. I know. Mankind is at war with an alien race. So what?
So mankind could use a little help. Maybe from someone with credits, resources and ships. Did you know that most of the opposition to the Thargoids is coming from independent pilots? Of course there is the Aegis initiative, but most of the fight is being held by pilots like you and me. And most of the rescue and repair efforts too.
And what do you want me to do?
Nothing. Just watch.
There is people still inside the station. Probably thousands.
They are going to die. How can this be?
The local security force is probably overwhelmed. They cannot do more.
But this people need evac. Now.
Exactly. That’s the point. This isn’t about Feds, Alliance or even the damn Empire, this is about survival. Allegiances apart, there is just people burning in a station that’s tearing apart. Are we going to let them burn? Are you?
I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to help them. We must do something.
You’re right. The pilot’s Federation has sent to the system one of their rescue mega ships, the Oluwafemi Terminal, and are asking anyone with a ship to please help in the evacuation of Leclerc Terminal. Now watch me, but don’t attempt to follow me. You won’t survive inside.
What do you mean inside? What do you attempt to do?
Are you crazy? Don’t go inside. You'll roast. Don’t worry. I do this all the time. And don’t attempt to follow me. You aren't equipped for this task.
Zal. Zal. Don’t. Zal.
Damn! Communications have failed. I cannot see him inside. The whole place is a hell. I only see fire, smoke, explosions and a lot of debris floating around. How can anybody fly into that? The man is crazy. He is committing suicide. He is going to toast inside his ship. The whole station is a gigantic oven. Why did he wanted me to see this?
How much time have passed? Ten minutes? More?... WAIT! I can see him. That flying brick of him is coming to the entrance. He is going to make it. But how?
Thirty two refugees safe on board.
How did you survive there?
Heat sinks. Lots of heat sinks.
Please, come with me to Oluwafemi Terminal, the rescue megaship. We can talk further there.
I follow you.
There it is. Oluwafemi Terminal. A rescue mega ship commissioned by the Pilots Federation.
And there he is too. Commander Zal Marlo, on his flying brick, landed on the surface of the mega ship. Today’s hero. I am landing too.
That was very impressive. So, what now, you big damn hero?
I am glad you decided to come along. I just hope we could talk a little further.
I have an idea. There’s this new telepresence technology. I have never tried it before, but I think I could bring you to the cockpit of the Electra. What do you say?
Let’s try it.
Damn it! I mean… that was creepy. It… I mean… you look so real.
I am glad to be here. Thanks for inviting me.
So, I’ll ask one last time. What do you want from me? Nothing, I told you. I am sorry for all the mystery, and the rescue show. You know, about a month ago I knew about your existence through the news, as I’ve told you. I did some research and dig some information about you. I was shocked. Dad never told us about you. Us?
Mom and me. I’ve not talked her about you. Who could imagine that Dad had another family. In the Alliance, nothing less.
Where is she now? Does she live? She is fine, thanks. She lives in Mars.
And… our father? Do you know what happened to him?
He disappeared while conducting a cover operation in Alliance territory. At least, that’s what they told me. Right now, I don’t know what to think about that, but I loved him. And what about us?
That is up to you. I just was curious about what kind of man you are. See, this is a cutthroat galaxy. And it is becoming even more dangerous by the days. I am a man with resources. You are a man with resources. I just hoped that, maybe, we could watch each other backs from time to time. After all, we are family.
That’s all. You want me to watch your back? _ Little by little. I realize how weird this is. It is very strange for me too, believe me. Let’s consider this encounter a first step. _ A first step towards what?
We’ll see. Look, I have business to attend somewhere else, but I thank you for coming. This was important for me. I’ll try to keep in touch.
See you around, Zal.
See you around… BROTHER.
29 JUN 3305, Hamilton Gateway, system Wolf 406 (Headquarters of the Alliance Elite Diplomatic Corps)
This is Jav Marlo, on board the Electra, landed at Hamilton Gateway, the headquarters of the Alliance Elite Diplomatic Corps, in system Wolf 406. I am recording this log to keep track of my new involvement in the activities of the AEDC and the scan data delivery missions I am flying for them.
I was expecting to have time to rest after crossing the galaxy both ways in the last six months, but the AEDC had other plans. Right after I put the Hyperion into storage, I walked with some difficulty, the time in deep space took its toll, towards the offices of the AEDC and reported my arrival. The android at the front desk just said that they were waiting for me and handed me some codes to access a private communication channel in GalNet. When I realized that no one was going to greet me and show me the installations, I left the offices and headed back to the much more comfortable low gravity hangar zone, where I have left the Electra, my beautiful Cobra MkIII, before departing on Distant Worlds 2. After so many months living in the spartan cabin of the Hyperion, the crew quarters of the Electra looked like a luxury passenger cabin of a Beluga in compare.
I switched on the comms panel and introduced all the security codes I have been handed until, for my surprise, I found I had a message from commander Pandrewno, the leader of the AEDC himself. He was asking me to visit six different locations on Alliance space to sell part of the scan data I was carrying. There was another message from commander Hook Echo, an AEDC veteran, with more details about how to perform the mission. And a final one from commander DND-Decay welcoming me back. It seemed I had a mission to perform. and a lot of credits in scan data to cash.
I wanted everything to run smoothly. I was going to carry a fortune in scan data across many inhabited systems; with their pirates, bounty hunters and opportunistic freelancers. And I did not want any surprises, so I used some of the components I have collected at the Stranded Snake Anaconda settlement along with the blueprints I got from Palin and Farseer, the engineers, and tinkered with the thrusters and frame shift drive of the Electra to improve them even further. Now she can boost up to 555 m/s and jump further than 30 light years. Feeling much safer, I transferred all the scan data I have collected in the last three months from the Hyperion databanks to the Electra computer. I was ready to start my first mission for the AEDC.
I am just a recruit not familiarized to the global strategy or the operations of the AEDC. But it is clear to me that in the last days I have been fundamentally helping to the expansion efforts of Wolf 406 Transport & Co, a faction with strong ties with the AEDC, led by the notorious merchantess Victoria Wolf VI, a very influential woman within the Alliance and beyond. So, I visited several outposts and stations controlled by them, as instructed, in systems Matres, 38 Viriginis, Sao 82442 and Shitici.
I visited too system Esien Ming, where I helped to boost the influence of the Prometheus Astro-logistics Corporation, a huge technological company that is in a coalition with the AEDC, and to system LHS 2541, where I sold some data to the LHS 2541 Alliance Combine, another faction supported by the AEDC. I was about to return to Hamilton Gateway when I got a message from commander Aricke asking me to deliver some scan data to the People’s Party of LTT 14271, a communist faction with allegiance to the Alliance he is trying to help. The moment I arrive to LTT 14271 I was interdicted by a Diamondback Scout of the Raiders of Patosata, but that is where the Electra proved its worthiness avoiding the interdiction effortlessly. I landed at Hutchinson Landing and accomplished the mission.
On the way back to Hamilton Gateway I was contacted again by commander Pandrewno and commander Mangal Oemie, and they delivered four more drop requests, so I switched course to Esien Ming and Cortes Dock again for another drop to the Prometheus Astro-logistics Corporation. From there I returned to Sao 82442 and delivered some data to one aristocrat faction based there. Commander Mangal Oemie wanted me to pass by system Ithaca and deliver some data to the people of the LHS 2541 Alliance Combine at Hume Depot. Finally, I came back to Shitici, landed at Neumann Enterprise planetary port and contacted the MCC 686 General Network faction. Neumann Enterprise is a vibrant city with all the services and amenities one could hope for. I would have liked to expend some time there.
I returned to Hamilton Gateway and found that I had two pending messages. The first one was from DNA-Decay asking me to help commander Multivex by dropping some data at system Chu Jona. It seems that there is a faction known as the Unicorn Commonwealth that he is trying to help. They say that the Unicorn Commonwealth is composed of cooperative like-minded citizens who follow the philosophy of Unicornism. This Philosophy promotes ideals of peace and cooperation to reach common goals and fundamentally teaches that no individual is superior to another inside of the philosophy.
The second one was from commander Hapac, asking me to help one group of anarchists under his protection, the Dagr Crocodiles. Catchy name! So, after resupplying the Electra I departed again. Before leaving, I bought one of the new super cruise assistant modules and installed it. It works as some short of auto pilot, something very helpful when flying from one station to another. It is quite relaxing to be able to drop the control stick for a while.
I visited some of the stations controlled by the Crocodiles and ended my tour at Oblivion station in Maweke. It is a Coriolis starport with all the services one commander can hope for, but its name is not very inviting. I wonder who might be the marketing advisor of this faction?
There I got one last message by commander Pandrewno asking me to pay a visit to Moore Installation, a planetary outpost in system LHS 2541 where Wolf 406 Transport & Co was having some problems with the elections.
I had helped in the expansion efforts of some factions supported by the AEDC. But there were many more factions in the Alliance, and I had more scan data in store so, after resting in Moore Installation, I started a tour around some of the most important Alliance systems: Lave, Diso, Leesti, Reorte, Zaonce, Tionisla and Alioth. I took the opportunity to move some merchandise too. In all these places I sold scan data and gained reputation with the Alliance controlling factions.
I was enjoying a really nice dinner at Aachen Town in Alioth, an amazing station full of green zones and fountains, when I received another message. This time it was the engineer Lei Cheung, from Laksak, inviting me to his installations. It seemed that my efforts were building me a reputation. It is known that the fee to access to Lei Cheung services is 200 tons of gold. Well, there is no space for that in my Cobra, so I flew back to Hamilton Gateway, retrieved my Type 6 transport, the Palas, and took it to Selous Orbital in Cupinook to load it with 100 tons of gold.
The plan was to take a flying brick full of gold across several systems full of pirates and land it in a high gravity planet. I guess I did not think it a lot. Several interdictions later and after a visit to Mullane Mines in LTT 7069 where I loaded another 2 tons of gold, I got to know Lei Cheung.
Lei Cheung grew up in a trade clan of tramp traders. He learned engineering on the job and discovered that he possessed an affinity for shield technology. Even though he receives regular offers, he won't leave his family. He is willing to help fellow traders though and has built a large operation over the years from this work, with other family members running a scrapping and rebuilding business on the same site.
I shared some of the scan data I still had, and Lei Cheung got me an interview with the engineer Ram Tah himself, the leading specialist in Guardian Technology.
Ram Tah’s toll to his services is 50 units of Classified Scan Databanks, which I already had, so I flew to Phoenix Base in Meene. Ram Tah has travelled as far as it is possible to go in the galaxy. Over the years he has collected many strange and unusual items, and he's always eager to acquire something new and unknown from the black. On his travels he learned the value of limpets and various defence mechanisms, and so spent many years perfecting his craft in improving them.
I told Ram Tah about my adventures in Distant Worlds 2 and showed him pictures of the Guardian Ruins I had visited. Then I sold him some scan data and he said that he might have work for me in the future. I told him that I would love to explore the Guardian Ruins and learn more about their technology.
Satisfied after finishing my diplomatic tour, I headed back to Hamilton Gateway. And here I am now. Back on board the Electra, recording this log. Now that I have access to the AEDC comms channel, I can see that they are involved in a lot of combat operations and conflicts all around the Alliance space. That looks serious business. I hope to be able to join them in combat in a near future. But there is still a lot I must learn before.
Jav Marlo signing… WAIT!
And this is very intriguing:
My name is Zal Marlo. I am your brother. We need to talk.
Brother? I do not have any brother. Is this some kind of joke? I need to find out what this is about.
BACK FROM DISTANT WORLDS 2
24 JUN 3305, Morgan’s Rock asteroid base, system GC 6188 Sector LC-V c2-28
Recording. Ok, let’s see if there is anybody home. I hope they remember me.
Hello. Ahem. This is Jav Marlo, on board the Hyperion, landed at Morgan’s Rock asteroid base, in system GC 6188 Sector LC-V c2-28, attempting to contact the Alliance Elite Diplomatic Corps Command. Can anybody hear me?
I was recruited months ago by commander Dna-Decay, but soon after departed the Bubble to participate in Distant Worlds 2 expedition. I have been in deep space for months… and I carry very valuable scan data. I thought it could be useful for the Alliance. I am requesting instructions about how should I proceed.
Hi there, commander Jav Marlo. Welcome back. What is your estimated time of arrival to Wolf 406?
Ahem. I hope to arrive to Hamilton Gateway in two or three days.
Good. We will talk when you arrive. Over.
Well. It seems I am back in business. This expedition is coming to its end.
25 JUN 3305, Morgan’s Rock asteroid base, system GC 6188 Sector LC-V c2-28
This is Jav Marlo, back in the cockpit of the Hyperion, getting ready to depart Morgan’s Rock. I would have liked to rest a little bit more, but I promised to arrive to Hamilton Gateway in two days. It is not far away, but I would hate to be late and, besides, Morgan’s Rock amenities are not very appealing. Anyhow, it was good to sleep in a room for a change, and to have a real shower, even at minimum gravity.
The hangar tech crews have checked the Hyperion. After so many jumps and repairs in deep space, all systems still work properly and only needed minor patching. These installations are not equipped for repainting the ship, but I do not mind. It feels like a badge of honour, the battered and scarred paint after thousands of fuel scoops around stars. I am very proud about how the Hyperion behave all along the way. Now, it is time to face the last stage. Let’s go.
Resuming log. I have arrived to system Blu Thua JS-J d9-1, also known as Tark. There are four Earth-like worlds and four Water worlds here, nothing less. One of the richest systems I have ever seen, and a firm candidate for colonization just two thousand light years away from the Bubble.
26 JUN 3305, system HR 5906.
Resuming log. I have arrived to system HR 5906. According to Distant Worlds 2 Fleet command, there is and abandoned settlement build around a stranded Anaconda here. I want to see it… Here we are… Approaching HR 5906 AB 2 A… Launching probes… That must be it. Unregistered derelict… It is on the edge of a canyon. I will try to land close.
Amazing! They built a base around the stranded Anaconda. It looks very well equipped from here, but no signs of activity.
No welcome committee. No attempts of communication. I can see some manufactured materials scattered around. And that data point seems active. I can see its green lights. Maybe I could be able to download the settlement comms log if I get close enough.
I have jumped into the SRV and I am closing to a comms uplink. Let’s see what it has to tell.
LOG 1: Hey Janey come check this out! Looks like we’ve struck the jackpot. I told you there was something out here. What is it? A ship. Looks like it’s been here a while. Someone must have crashed and used it as a shelter. Look, they’ve made buildings out of the wreckage. We’ve got to check this out. Who knows what salvage will be in there. I don’t like it, what if someone’s still in there? Relax. If there’s someone there, maybe we can trade with them. Come on let’s check it out.
Well, well. Who are these guys? Not the original crew of the Anaconda, of course. Probably scavengers.
Wait. There is more.
This place gives me the creeps. Can we go back to the SRV now? We’ve had a look around and no one’s home. Are you kidding me? That’s the best part, we can take anything we like. We need to get to the bridge to see if we can get this thing running again. The ship still has power, the emergency lights are still on and the doors work.
It gets more interesting. They ventured inside the ship. Maybe I should do the same.
Jav Marlo downloading the logs of the Stranded Snake Anaconda settlement (HR 5906)
And there is another piece of data.
Internal Sensor Array activated. Security systems coming online. Hey look, something’s happening. I told you this thing still had power. Now if I can just find the switch to… Maybe we could fix it up and have second ship. That would be so great, but you’re flying this one. It still gives me the creeps. Got it. Let me just see if I can override these security measures and we’ll be golden. Security breach detected removing threat. Wait a sec, what’s that? What did you do! Oh hell, shut it off! Shut it off! Shut it off! Shut it off!
I did not like that. Poor devils. Well, one thing is for sure, I am not coming into that ship to find out what happened. I am collecting all the equipment pieces that are lying around and getting the hell out of here.
Wait. What is that? Under the hull of the Anaconda. May it be?...
This must be the SRV the scavengers used. It has been shot. Destroyed by someone. And I am not staying here anymore to find by whom. It would be quite ironic to die here, merely four hundred light years away from home, after crossing the whole galaxy, with such a treasure in my databanks.
Here I am. Almost six months later. I am back, at Hamilton Gateway. Home.
Let’s try to make a smooth and fancy landing. After so many months I am feeling a little bit rusty. Why is the entrance spinning so fast? Was it always like that?
Done. Switching off systems. Securing the ship. Opening the hatch. Entering the hangar. That was a great trip.
I barely remember how to walk. I will have to stay in the low gravity zones of the station for a while. I am so weak. But it is good to be back. It feels really good to be back.
This is Jav Marlo. I have come back to the cockpit of the Hyperion to finish this log and to put the ship into storage. A well-deserved rest. After checking with the station authorities I had a drink, ate a good steak and checked my pending communications. It seems I have been awarded with a diploma for finishing Distant Worlds 2. That was a really nice surprise, but not the only one. I am now a Distant Worlds 2 veteran and have the right to use a special decay on my ship. I had to see how it looks on the Hyperion so I ordered the ship to be repainted and changed the Elite in exploration decay for the Distant Worlds 2 one. It fills me with pride. And the Hyperion looks brand new now. This tough little ship took me to the farthest corner of the galaxy and brought me back home in one piece. It performed incredibly well. For months it was my home and, despite the tiny quarters and the space madness, I am going to miss flying on it.
Well, I think I have a date with the Alliance Elite Diplomatic Corps Command. All this scan data is burning in my pockets.
Jav Marlo signing out.
23 JUN 3305, Morgan’s Rock asteroid base, system GC 6188 Sector LC-V c2-28.
I have travelled through twenty thousand light years in the last seven days crossing along the Norma Expanse, the Scutum-Sagittarii and the Conflux regions. In a couple of hours I will be in Morgan’s Rock asteroid base, hopefully. From there, only the Saggitarius Gap separates me now from home. Merely five thousand light years more. A walk in the park after travelling more than three hundred thousand light years in the last six months. And right now, about to came back to civilization, so close from home, anything I can think of is about eating a steak. A thick, warm, rare, steamy steak with baked potatos. A real one, of course, not that synth crap. I cannot stand the food rations of the ship anymore. A melted chees sandwich would be great too. Damn it! I could kill for a melted cheese sandwich right now.
Ok. Let’s get serious. This is commander Jav Marlo, recording this log on board the Hyperion, somewhere in the Inner Orion Spur, about to arrive to Morgan’s Rock asteroid base, my first contact with civilization since I departed Explorer’s Anchorage four months ago.
After leaving the Phroea Ploe Nebula Cluster, the next milestone in the itinerary was the Shrogaee Nebula in system Shrogaae LB-C c14-1067. Explorers are very fond of nebulas. I guess it comes from the times they had to plot the routes manually. Nebulas are easy to spot in the void. They probably used them to keep track.
The Nebula was beautiful to behold and, hidden inside it, there were more surprises. Something I have never seen before. I detected two notable stellar phenomena and approached to pay a look. There I found something the computer identified as Chryseum Void Hearts. Shiny huge organic structures that can live for thousand of years. Amazing!
Very close to the Shrogaee Nebula there was the perfect spot for a night camp. The Brain Forest, in system Shrogaae KK-A d983. Brain Trees are a type of Fungal Life found on several rocky and ice worlds. They resemble Earth like trees with a brain-shaped organic object at the end of its branches. Their purpose is unknown, but they appear to be related to the Guardian Ruins sites.
And talking about Guardian Ruins. As espected, there were plenty of them within the nearby Teal Nebula in the Eorl Auwsy sector, and I took the time to visit one of them in system Eorl Auwsy SY-Z d13-3468. It is said that the engineer Ram Tah is the leading authority in the research of Guardian Technology, and that he is paying good money to independent pilots that run missions collecting data from the Guardian ruins for him. I would like to meet the man and collaborate with him. There is something fascinating about these places. I would like to know more.
The next stop was the Singularities Playgorund, in system Mynoaw AA-A h26. An astonishing system with four black holes as main stars, first discovered by commander Relooops. But the most incredible view of the system is its double ringed neutron star. A visit worthwhile a detour.
And from there I headed the impressive Isegrim Nebula, in system Greae Phoea QF-I c25-150, one of the nebulas of the Gallipolis sector.
There, in the Gallipolis sector, I made a nice discovery. An Earth-like world half the size of Earth. It always fills me with pride discovering one of those.
Right after that I flew for a couple of days straight all along the Norma Expanse. When I arrived to the Hollow Veil Sites, in system Blaa Hypai LZ-F b27-0, I was exhausted, so I decided to land in one of the Guardian Ruins to rest. I slept in the cockpit seat instead of the bunk in the cabin. They say that there are still active sentinels in the Guardian Ruins, and I did not want any nasty surprises during the night. The view of the ruins at sunset with the Hollow Veil Nebula in the background was mesmerizing and it increased my wishes of learning more about this old civilization.
I left the Norma Expanse behind me and headed for Angerona, in the Scutum-Sagittarii. In system Flyua Phio AM-J d10-51 I found an Earth-like world that was one hundred ninety two thousand light years away from the entry point. Anyhow, I had to map it.
Angerona, in system Plio Aihm ML-P d5-307, is a huge landable icy world with more than thirty two earth masses. It has a beautiful ring and is only thirty eight light-seconds away from the system’s main F star. This translates to a paradoxically high surface temperature for an icy body at 1029 K. The high temperature plus the gravity of 2.8G combine for an interesting challenge to commanders wanting to explore it surface features. Honestly, after so many months in deep space I felt that my body was not ready to endure such a test, so I sadly avoided the landing.
On the edge of the Saggitarii Scutum with the Conflux lies system V1033 Scorpii. According to the Galactic Mapping Project database, V1033 Scorpii is a binary system composed of a F-type star and black hole. This black hole is a so-called microquasar, a black hole sharing characteristics of black hole quasars at the center of galaxies. Microquasars pull matter from the companion star which forms an accretion disk around the black hole. This accretion disk may become so hot, due to friction, that it begins to emit X-rays. The disk also projects narrow streams or jets of subatomic particles at near-light speed, generating a strong radio wave emission. The black hole also can provide unique lensing effects on nearby nebula NGC 6357. I had to see it.
Amazing sight! Before leaving, I also paid a visit to the notable stellar phenomena in the system and I found Rubeum Metallic Crystals and Solid Metal Spheres, nothing I have not seen before.
And right there, in the middle of the Conflux, I found a system worth colonization in the future. Lysooh UT-R d4-51 has three landable bodies, plus three terraformable planets, plus an Earth-like world, plus a couple of ringed icy bodies with hotspots of void opals and low temperature diamonds, all of them orbiting a scoopable Blue-White Star. A very profitable finding that could be very valuable for a mining company willing to expand its business to the deep space.
And here I am now. Landed in system Cat's Paw Sector HR-W d1-31, also known as the Red Storm Geysers, because of its active fields of silicate vapour geysers and the views over the painted red skies caused by the Cat's Paw Nebula. I am exhausted. Hopefully, this will be my last camping night on this expedition, and I could not have hoped for a better setting. I pity I did not bring some marshmallows with me. I hope to arrive to Morgan’s Rock asteroid base tomorrow. I will finish this report then.
At last! I finally arrived. A space station. After so many months. I am going to be able to leave the Hyperion. I cannot believe it. Morgan’s Rock asteroid base is right in front of me. According to the Galactic Mapping Project database, Morgan's Rock is an asteroid base controlled by the Interstellar Mining Corporation, with 15,000 staff on site. The base is located inside the small NGC 6188 nebula. All services are available except for ship outfitting and a shipyard. The identity of 'Morgan' remains clouded in mystery.... I do not mind at all. I did not come here to meet Morgan. I just wish they serve steaks in the canteen. Jav Marlo requesting docking permission.
This is Jav Marlo back in the cockpit of the Hyperion. I am grateful this rock has minimum gravity. I think my muscles could not afford standard gravity right now. First thing I did after landing was running to the canteen. They did not have steaks, but they had real meat hamburgers at an exorbitant price. I did not mind. I am rich now. I ate a couple of them and a melted cheese sandwich as a dessert. The typical bad quality stuff you could expect to find in a forsaken place like this, but it tasted like heaven to me. Of course, they did not have Lavian Brandy, so I asked for a Cubeo Gold. I was enjoying my second glass, it feels nice to drink from a glass instead of sipping from a bag, when I thought about walking to the Universal Cartographics office and cash out my scan data. It must be worth hundreds of millions. But then I thought, such a treasure in exploration data could be worthwhile even more in the right hands. I know Sirius Corporation pays good credits for exploration data but, do I want to associate with them? Beyond the credits, information is power, and I am sure there are other factions that could take a lot of profit of the data I am carrying. I joined the Alliance Elite Diplomatic Corps soon before departing to Distant Worlds 2, and I never got really involved in their operations.
Maybe I should make them a call.
Jav Marlo signing out.
THE LONG VOYAGE HOME
17 JUN 3305 Somewhere in the Empyrean Straits.
This is commander Jav Marlo, recording this log on board the Hyperion, crossing the Galactic Bar. Heading back to the Bubble. Heading back… home.
I might have overcome space madness. Crossing the Solitude Void and the Silentium regions proved to be hard, but I did it. Anyhow, I am thousands of light years far from home, and I must keep focus. I have developed a routine, with stablished periods of flying, resting and eating in a twenty four hours schedule. This has slowed down my path but helped my mental stability. I am also trying to reconnect with the issues of men reading about the news that I receive here from the Bubble.
The Voyager Trail, the path back home recommended by the Distant Worlds 2 fleet command, has far way less milestones than the route that took us to Beagle Point to break the monotony of the trip.
Arriving to system Hyiechou AI-J b36-0, also known as Sysipho’s Rock, was quite a relief. According to the Galactic Mapping Project database, the system contains a vulcanic active icy moon, while its parent body itself is a moon orbing a gas giant. A 2 c a is tidally locked to its parent body, allowing for a constant view of the moon A 2 c looming over the geyser site - just like the rock in the Sisypho’s myth, being a constant reminder of the futility of life in a seemingly endless universe but in the same vein offering a way to self-realize oneself in it, as the ancient philosopher Camus already put it over 1300 years ago. I could not agree more. I landed close to a geyser, under the shadow of the rock, and meditated about my place in the galaxy and my goal in life. I thought about my father and the quest I interrupted to participate in this expedition. I recalled that the worlds of men are being harassed at this very moment by an alien invasion, and that I am thousands of light years away from all that. It is time to come back.
Back on track I arrived to sector Chraiteau, where I found two Earth-like worlds in a row. The first one in system Chraiteau AK-E C13-0, an otherwise anodyne system with just a landable moon.
And the second one in system Chraiteau WW-C C0, which has much more to offer, including several landable planets and moons and a class I giant with a pristine ice ring.
I have developed the habit of searching for high mass systems when entering in a new sector and, if it does not suppose a big detour, pay a visit to these systems. It is always a source of pride to discover a black hole or a Wolf-Rayet. That is how I arrived to Dryignoe AA-A h70, which contains a Wolf-Rayet and two class O stars. That was the first Wolf-Rayet star I had seen in a while. But it seems that commander EtherealCereal found it first.
I headed for system Bleethuia FF-A e1, also known as Proximity Rock. The Galactic Mapping Project database says that it is located within visual range of the Flyai Flyuae AA-A H20 Nebula, and that the system presents an uncommon trinary formed between a Class M, a Neutron and a White Dwarf. However, that is not what makes the system really catch the eye, it is the first landable body, that is only a scant fifty one light years away from arrival, relatively close to the dancing trio. It allows for views of all celestial objects with fantastic fidelity. I found a place to land from where to behold the nebula and the star’s trio.
It seems that neutron stars are now less scarce than in the outer rim. That might speed up my pace, but I must be extra careful. I am carrying a fortune in scan data and I feel my focus and reflexes diminished after so many months travelling. Overcharging the frame shift drive in the jet cones of stars is always a dangerous business. Neutron stars can be treacherous and white dwarfs kill more commanders than Thargoids. That is why I replenished my Auto Field-Maintenance Unit when in Proximity Rock and repaired the main systems of the Hyperion. The battered painting has no solution right now.
Right after departing Proximity Rock I discovered two black holes. The first one was in system Tegneia EG-Y g0, and had two neutron stars orbiting it in the distance. The second one was isolated, in system Phreia Byoe BA-A g1. It had eight solar masses and was more than twelve thousand million light years old.
Now that I am close the galactic core, Wolf-Rayets are more common. I pass by them anytime I can but, alas, I have not been able to find any not already been discovered on this part of the trip.
In system Hypio Bli EN-C c5 I found an Earth-like world orbited by a water world tidally locked. There were no landable bodies in the system.
The next milestone in the itinerary was the Blue Peach Nebula, in system Lyaisai PS-U e2-160, a planetary nebula with two class F suns and a total of fifteen objects in orbit that orbits a small black hole in the southeast corner of Perseus Stem.
And very near it was system Rotheau SZ-O e6-895, or Rattla, a system comprising a neutron star aged twelve thousand million years which is orbited by an incredibly beautiful lonely ringed Earth-like world.
I was in the core regions. At last! I had crossed the Delta Quadrant. This last part of my trip proved the hardest since I left the Bubble six months ago. And it took its toll too, both physical and mentally.
With a renovated spirit, I headed for the Aether Nebula, in system Eorm Phyloi OY-Z d37, a medium sized nebula located over two thousand light years above the galactic plane. The Aether Nebula is named after one of the primordial deities of Greek mythology, being the personification of the pure upper air that the gods breathed - particularly apt for the nebula's position in the galaxy.
The Perseus Stem is ripe with stars and systems containing Earth-like worlds. I found one in Cleeqai YP-O d6-9547, a very rich system containing tens of landable bodies.
And then I found an amazing place. After visiting hundreds of barren systems in the outer rim, I jumped into Zuneae GD-A D14-2200, one of the richest systems I have ever found. It has forty three celestial bodies including an Earth-like world, three water worlds and an ammonia world orbiting its four scoopable stars that are one F white star, two red dwarfs and a K yellow-orange star. Seven of the bodies are landable and six of them are terraformable. The place also has a class I gas giant with a pristine ring with hotspots of platinum, rhodplumsite and serendibite. A system like this, with four bearable life planets, would be an ideal place for a colony, and a very contested system if it was in the Bubble. And it is just six thousand light years away from Sagittarius A and Explorer’s Anchorage, right after the eastern neutron fields.
I must report the discovery of system Zuneae GD-A D14-2200 to the Galactic Mapping Project as soon as I am able. But first, I must think of a name that suits the system. The place is so full of life that I have decided to call it Gaia, like in Greek mythology, the primal goddess and ancestral mother of all life.
I am recording this log somewhere in the Empyrean Straits, approaching system Phroea Ploe PD-B e2165 and the Phroea Ploe Nebula Cluster, just about twenty four thousand light years from the Bubble.
Just a couple of weeks more and I will be home.
Jav Marlo signing out.
ON WARS, MERCENARIES AND DRUGS
30 MAY 3305 Somewhere in the Silentium Region.
This is commander Jav Marlo, recording this log on board the Hyperion heading towards system Hyiechou AI-J b36-0, also known as Sishypho’s Rock.
I am feeling a little bit better. Arriving to Voyager’s Reach boosted my moral and I think I might have overcome space madness, at least for a while. My Whitchspace dreams are still recurrent though, and I am still tens of thousands of light years away from the core regions, so I have to figure out something to keep my mind occupied. It occurs to me that maybe I have been so focused on arriving to Beagle Point and exploration that I have loosen my ties with civilization. Old, evil, harsh, violent and corrupt civilization. Home.
It has been weeks since the last time I paid attention to the news. It is like if I have lost my interest in the issues of men. Maybe it is time to reconnect. With everything that is happening in the Bubble, the war with the Thargoids and all the power struggles, I should catch up with the recent events now that I am coming back There was a time when GalNet, the Pilots Federation data network and source of its power, was only accessible from space stations. But since a year or so they have been able to create a news bulletin accessible from starships. It always has helped me focus to record these logs so, let’s see what is going on.
I wonder what happened with Nova Imperium. Curious, the politics section does not open with conflicts within the Empire, nor the Federation, but with the rivalry between Prime Minister Edmun Mahon and President Gibson Kincaid of the Alliance. It seems an impeachment procedure is on its way. The democratic way of solving a dispute. Admiral Denton Patreus of the Empire has his ways too to solve these matters but, perhaps, they are a little bit more expeditious.
Some technician was able to stole a starship from a starport in the Vega system. That is impossible. I do not believe this. There must be something more.
There is a rush for Guardian commodities. That is something a I have pending. I need to get my hands on some Guardian technology an enhance the jump range of my ship.
The Thargoids are still assaulting the core systems but they are not targeting the most important social or military centres. The main resistance against them is being held by the independent pilots, not by the superpowers. And within the mayhem, local conflicts still erupt and the local factions fight for influence in their tiny systems in this cutthroat galaxy, as it always has been.
Enough of the official reports. Let’s see if I can find something juicier on the independent bulletins. Wait. Here is something interesting. War in Terra Mater, an article in Sagittarius Eye Breaking News. Terra Mater, that is where they grow the plants from where they extract the Blood Bores, the drug. I have never tried them, but they say it is a potent physical stimulant with some uncomfortable side effects that, despite them, they are very popular among mercenaries and bounty hunters. That reminds me that I should have brought some performance enhancers for this stage of the trip. Damn! I thought about coffe, food cartridges and even bought some survival equipment, the Lavian Brandy does not count, but I did not think about stimulants.
I remember the Blood Bores were very popular among hand to hand combat practitioners from my times as a martial artist, and that even blood checks at competitions were common, for the shake of fair play. Later, they became even more demanded when the trade contracted as a result of the system becoming permit locked. That rose the price of the Blood Bores in the systems where they were legal, and even more in the black market. The Blood Bores are nurtured by the anarchists of the Brotherhood of Terra Mater, who recently had been challenged by the theocrats of the Sacra Oculus who intend to use the Blood Bores to create a breed of super soldiers against the Thargoids. A sensible plan! We do not even know how the Thargoids look like and they are thinking on going hand to hand combat with them. Anyhow, it was just a matter of time that they attract the interest of a bigger power, and it was Pranav Antal and his Utopians who tried to get control of the system, causing a war in the process. It seems that Pranav Antal’s ambitions are beyond the control of the monopoly of nanomedicines, and that they want to control the Blood Bores too.
Odds were against the Brotherhood of Terra Mater, harassed by a much bigger power but, in a dramatic turn of events, several mercenary groups came to the rescue of the brotherhood. Among them, the article highlights the performance of the Blackguard Dragoons. Catchy name! These ones claim that they were not enlisted by the brotherhood and that they simply “liked the cause”. I do not buy it. There must be something else. Anyhow, it seems that thanks to the efforts of these mercs with a golden heart, the permit access to the system remains controlled by the brotherhood and Blood Bores remain legal and available at GR8Minds, Terra Mater’s principle station.
Let’s see if I can find more info on these Blackguard Dragoons. That information could be useful. Someday I could have a problem which with no one else can help me, and I could be able to find them and maybe hire them. Here they are, the Blackguard Dragoons announcement at the Inara database, resolving situations since 3304. An independent mercenary faction, with no ties to any of the superpowers, that takes on contracts to bring about the changes that their clients wish to see. It seems that they act on their own agenda too. Their cause is the spread of true personal liberty and freedom. The good Samaritans. A leopard can't change its spots. Perhaps there are some personal files.
Hey wait! What do we have here?
I have just found another Earth-like planet. System Blie Chrea QO-X C28-1 for the record. Let’s take a closer look. What was I doing, by the way? Here. Inara database. Known members of the Blackguard Dragoons. Personal files. The Squadron Commander is Stryker Aune. And there are pictures. Amazing! I do not know how this guy can fit into the command chair of his ship. Does Remlok do suits that size? The only word that comes to mind to describe him is massive. He is bigger than the planet in front of me.
This guy must be the most dedicated bodybuilder in the galaxy. Not someone you want to cross in a dark alley. I am wondering what a man like him may want to do with the Blood Bores. He is clearly in no need of more physical strength. Wait! Is that a prosthetic arm? It looks like a cybernetic claw. It seems that he has quite a curriculum. There are many files about him in the database. Not so much about his partners though. Maybe I have found some reading material for the trip back home.
Great. Two neutron stars in a row. At last. I am arriving to system Hyiechou AI-J b36-0. Sishypho’s Rock. From there just fifty thousand more light years to the Bubble.
All this reading on wars, mercenaries and drugs has made me reflex. Here, surrounded by the solitude and the silence it is easy to lose perspective. This is a huge galaxy, full of wonders that we are barely starting to discover. But in our little corner, the Bubble, the law of the strongest prevail, as it always has been in the dominions of men. I may be an accomplished explorer now. But the Bubble is a dangerous place, and now is even more dangerous than when I left it months ago. I know how to run, but if want to discover what happened to my father, running may not be enough. Now we have to add the Thargoids to the political struggle, the conspiracies and the pirates. More wars and conflicts are arising. This expedition has opened my mind, filled my pockets but weakened my body. There is a lot to do. I must get fit again. I must use my new wealth to buy and build a proper combat ship. I must tune my flying abilities. If I want to survive back at home, I must get ready for war. Let’s get to it.
Jav Marlo signing out.
SOLITUDE AND SILENTIUM
26 MAY 3305 Voyager’s Reach
This is commander Jav Marlo, recording this log on board the Hyperion heading towards Voyager’s Reach.
It has been two weeks since I departed Salomé’s Reach, currently the most distant reachable landable body from Sol. Before me, twenty two thousand light years distance crossing the Solitude Void and the Silentium regions to arrive to system Byoo Briae CW-C c26-0, also known as Voyager’s Reach, the place from where the recommended route back home starts. Solitude and silence had been my only companions on this trip so far.
The remnants of the Distant Worlds 2 fleet have dispersed after reaching Beagle Point. The fleetcomm channel remains now silent most of the time. I guess that many commanders have taken a straight course back home. I do not blame them. I have not seen a single soul since I departed the campsite at Legacy Crater in Beagle Point. I am feeling lonelier than ever in my life.
I have experienced space madness before. The last stages of the Distant Worlds 2 expedition were quite an endurance test. But this is totally different. The only word that comes to my mind to describe this region of space is desolation.
For thousands of light years and hundreds of jumps I have not found a single remarkable, not even interesting system. Most systems I jump are barren, with just a few icy worlds orbiting around its stars. From time to time I may find a waterworld or ammonia world, but these are very rare. The stars are so scarce and separate one from the other that is almost impossible to keep a straight route or to squeeze all the jump range of the Hyperion and, of course, there is no neutron highway here to short the trip. I have found just two neutron stars, both already discovered, in this last two weeks. It is, as I say, a wasteland!
Well, I must admit that I found an Earth-like world halfway, in system Pyria Eurl LJ-T C3-0. Right there, in the middle of nothing. The farthest one I have ever found from the Bubble. Like an oasis in the middle of a desert. A world with a human-breathable atmosphere and indigenous life more than sixty thousand light years away from civilization, in one of the most unknown and unexplored regions of the galaxy. It could be quite a place to hide.
And after that, nothing, thousands of light years of nothing. Jump after jump. Solitude and silence. Emptiness and absence of gravity. I feel weaker every day. I am losing bone mass. I am losing weight too. I feel sick. I brought some food rations with me to flavor the trip, but I do not find them appealing anymore. I have some Lavian brandy too, but I have decided to avoid drinking since I am not sure if I can trust my senses anymore. Sometimes I lose the conscious of time and remain in the cockpit of the Hyperion, attached to the command chair for hours and hours without noticing. I cannot get a proper sleep. I have a recurrent dream in which I am trapped in an endless Witchspace tunnel. I get up soaked, floating in the cabin, go back to the cockpit and start to jump from system to system again and again. With the galaxy on my right. Always on my right. I feel like if the Hyperion would be becoming some short of flying coffin for me. Any moment I will make a fatal mistake and die here. Alone. Afar from everything. Just surrounded by the solitude and the silence.
Resuming log. I have made it. Voyager’s Reach. At last! This remote system on the fringe of the galactic rim marks the beginning of a stablished trail back to the Bubble with some stablished points of interests. The Voyager Trail is inspired by the journey of a fictional ship, the USS Voyager, that was accidentally transported to this corner of the galaxy circa 2371 AD and headed back to the Sol system in a trip that took several years. A tale probably inspired by the epic mythological trip of Odysseus.
For me, it marks the place from where I will head back home too. No more the galaxy will be visible on my right window. From now on I will have it in front of me. Soon I will be in the Sagittarius-Carina Arm, where the density of stars will be bigger and hopefully, that will allow me to travel faster if am able to find neutron stars from time to time. I am dying to reach the core regions and be able to take the neutron highway again. But first I must cross the desolates regions before the Scutum-Centaurus Arm. I am excited. I am coming back!
I think I should rest before confronting this new stage of the trip. I mean, a proper rest. Landed. With gravity.
I have found a nice camping site close to the slope of a mountain in the second planet of the system. I can see the core regions from here. The night is dark and the silhouette of the mountain cuts the view of the distant galaxy. I need to leave the ship and stretch my legs. I have not driven for weeks. I think I will wander around a little in the SRV and then I will get a proper rest. I just hope I do not dream with Witchspace again.
Jav Marlo signing out.
BEYOND BEAGLE POINT
10 MAY 3305 Salomé’s Reach
This is commander Jav Marlo, recording this log on board the Hyperion landed at Salomé’s Reach, at the very edge of the galaxy, beyond Beagle Point.
My Diamondback Explorer, the Hyperion, was able to cross the Abyss with no mayor problems, but arriving here has proven to be more difficult. I had to manually trace every jump to system Oevasy SG-Y d0, also known as Semotus Beacon. The use of jumponium was mandatory. One of this jumps was over eighty light years. It was a good thing that I made myself a good reserve of synthesis materials when I was in Beagle Point, and that it exists a well stablished route to this system in the Galactic Mapping Project database.
According to the Galactic Mapping Project database, Semotus Beacon, also known as Ishum’s Reach, is currently the most distant reachable star system from Sol.
This system represents a double galactic record. It is at the same time the most distant system from Sol at 65,647.34 light years and also the system furthest north of Sol at 65,630.16 light years. The system was apparently visited by "unknown means" sometime in 3301 by a Commander Tooth, who originally held the first discovery tagging rights with Universal Cartographics, until the system was revisited by more legitimate means by Commander Ishum in June 3302 once engineered FSD upgrades were introduced.
And once in the system, it is compulsory a visit to Salomé’s Reach, or Oevasy SG-Y d0 B 9 F, the outermost moon of the secondary star, that is over 134,000 light seconds further out into the intergalactic void making it the most distant planetary body an explorer can currently visit.
This place was designated Salomé’s Reach in honor of Senator Kahina Tijani Loren, Salomé, by a member of the Children of Raxxla who was the first pilot recorded to have landed there on June 3302. It had to be her. It always amazes me how Salomé was able to cause such an impression in the galaxy having died so young. Even here, the farthest place a human can go, her influence manifests. Salomé, the patron saint of the explorers.
And this is it. No place to go beyond. From here, the only possible way is back. And that is what I intend to do. To come back home. To the Bubble, all through the galactic core. But it is a long journey. Who knows what wonders will I discover on the way and how many perils will I face? Let’s find out.
Jav Marlo signing out.
DISTANT WORLDS 2 – EPILOGUE
8 MAY 3305 Beagle Point
This is commander Jav Marlo, recording this log on board the Hyperion landed at Legacy Crater, basecamp of the Distant Worlds 2 Expedition in Beagle Point. Being in this place now is the culmination of an incredible Journey of Discovery.
The expedition left Pallaeni system the thirteenth of January, and one hundred and five days later I managed to arrive to Beagle Point. Few of us were able to made it. Many quit along the way, some were attacked, others sadly died in accidents, and there were even those who were not able to face the space madness and succumbed. I mean, this was not an easy trip, but it was worth it, at least for me. On the way here, I have visited every waypoint on the route, stopping in all the points of interest, major or minor, that were marked on the itineraries released by commander Kamzel, with the exception of the Peak, that I was not able to reach. I have seen many wonders, photographed and documented them. I have met other fellow commanders with shared interests. And I have discovered some hard and hidden truths about this galaxy and myself. All my thoughts about these experiences, along with my navigation data, have been dully recorded in logs aboard the Hyperion that I am making public in GalNet through the Galacatic Maping Project database (EDSM) and the platform Inara. Maybe somebody will find them interesting in the future.
To all the commanders that organized and have participated in Distant Worlds 2: o7.
I have spent the last ten days exploring Beagle Point and enjoying the views of the Milky Way, there, on the horizon. Many commanders are still arriving.
I have been driving a lot around Beagle Point 2, collecting minerals, specially Arsenic and Yttrium, to be able to synthesize jumponium. You never know when can it become handy. It feels good to drive a little bit instead of flying for a change. Impossible to lose track here with the galaxy on the sky as a reference.
The beauty of this place haunts me. All the troubles and tribulations of the Bubble look so far now. They look so meaningless from here, on the edge of this beautiful and huge galaxy that we have just started to truly explore and know some years ago.
But there is a war ongoing. The human worlds are on fire, attacked by an enemy from whom we barely know anything, not even its motivations. And I have left many unattained businesses there too. I am neglecting my duties with the Elite Alliance Diplomatic Corps. I almost left them to embark me on this expedition the moment I sign with them. And I have some personal and unfinished matters to attend too. Maybe it is time to come back. I am not the same green pilot that left the Bubble months ago. I have changed. And now I have the resources to properly equip myself. This expedition has resulted more profitable that in my wildest dreams. The exploration data stored in the Hyperion databanks is worth hundreds of millions of credits. And there is still the way back.
I have returned to Legacy Crater to spend my last night here, with the other commanders that are gathering, and enjoy some camaraderie. The trip back promises to be lonelier. Tomorrow, I will leave Beagle Point. I will always remember Legacy Crater as it is right now, shining with the dim light of an eternal sunset.
When I woke up the commanders that spent the night too at Legacy Crater were gone, but I was not alone. Commander Thunder-guts was carefully landing his shieldless ASP, and minutes later commander Psygar landed his Anaconda close to us too. The three of us met in the field to exchange impressions about the expedition. For reasons beyond my comprehension, commander Psygar had brought a Guardian Relic all the way to Beagle Point. Well, I am not to judge since I have been carrying three crates of Lavian Brandy all the way here, and I thought that was a great moment to share them. I loaded one of the crates in the SRV and jettisoned it on the ground for anybody to pick it. I bet this is the farthest a bottle of Lavian Brandy has ever travelled. It could be a great commercial. Anyway, here is a toast for Distant Worlds 2.
And this is it. I am leaving Beagle Point. But before I start my trip back to civilization, I have heard at the basecamp that nowadays it is possible to travel even farther than here. Well, I did not made it this far not to try going a little bit farther. So I am putting the galaxy behind my back again and venturing even deeper into the void. Forward, further… beyond Beagle Point.
Jav Marlo signing out.