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Let's Do Some Science

15,992LY from Sol | Norma Arm | Byeia Ain XO-R Sector |

I just realized that I never completed my logbook when I returned to the bubble from my last nearly seven-month expedition. I guess I got too caught up in things. You see, if you'll forgive me, I jumped sidelong into the thargoid war upon my return. Well, not at first. I decided to spend some time upgrading my Artemis suit and got involved in all sorts of odd, even covert, activities at ground installations. I did a few things I'm not very proud of, if I'm being honest.

So then I decided to do something to help out, and I joined the fray against those dangerous space flowers. I think I've done pretty well, even. I managed to be present and assist in the destruction of all four of the massive titans that humanity has managed to defeat. I've joined up with others and even coordinated some attack wings. My squadron is starting to call me a veteran now... but I don't know if I really feel like one.

It was after the second titan was knocked out, though, that I started getting that familiar urge to head back out into the unknown. I have more money than I know what to do with, so I got a new ship and decided to fix it up for long-distance travel. Not that I needed much money, it was just a Cobra Mk. 3, but I wanted to get a feel for what it was like back in Jameson's days.

I took it down to the Zurara and listened to the infamous last logs. Terrible... just terrible, what happened to those folks. On my way back, though, I saw something that reminded me of the more peaceful life I led alone out in the black:

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I got back in time to take out Oya, but then immediately decided it was time to get out again. This time, I wanted my travels to be [i]for[/i] something, so I signed up with Canonn to take part in their Landscape Expedition. It seems like something I could drop in and out of, but also be contributing data for their scientists. Hell, with all the data I've collected in my travels... maybe I [i]am[/i] a scientist myself, now.

It's laborious work, and we may not find anything. We are chasing the ghost of a signal, after all. But it feels meaningful. I've risen in the ranks of contributors already. I think I'm somewhere around 11th or 12th. Doesn't matter, though, I'm not in it for anything other than a sense of accomplishment, so I'll keep scanning.

I did make it back to help with the fight against Hadad, but here I am... already heading back out to the core. I'm sure I'll go back for Indra and maybe even before then, but for now... I just need to be back out and away from the thargoids for a bit.

Loaded up the Ecco again. Got her some new paint, installed one of those newfangled SCO drives, and am on my way. Maybe I'll manage to find something worth reporting this trip, but if not it's like the folks at Canonn say - at least I will have learned that there was nothing to find.

Anyway, sorry for the delay - signing off now... and I don't even have any Lavian Brandy in my hold.

Hard Push to Colonia

Day 198 | 22,0007LY from Sol | Inner Scutum-Centaurus Arm | Eol Prou Sector | Colonia | Jaques Station |

What a whirlwind! I set out from Ishum's and Beagle after spending about five days there, and a week later I now find myself back in Colonia. Well over 40,000LY in such a short amount of time. That was some heavy travel, and I pushed hard into some late cycles while still managing to do some exploring and find a few interesting things on the way. I haven't pushed that hard since I left home, but something about nearing the end of my expedition and heading back has been pushing me. Despite all the xeno troubles that have been going on in the bubble, I am still anxious to get back.

On the way, I found a few binary moon pairs that were close to gas giant rings. These always provide some stunning and slightly alarming views.

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But the allure of an oxygen atmosphere planet and the subsequent vistas never cease to amaze me. Just stunning.

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I found as I got nearer to the core in such a short amount of time, the sheer volume of interesting or lucrative things to scan increased exponentially. The rarity of discovery one experiences on the fringes of the galaxy condenses to a flurry. It seems every system has something noteworthy to investigate. This took the cake, though. The same system I took the above beautiful shot in had four bodies that each had massively valuable biological data. This one image contains Recepta Umbrux and Tussock Stigmasis. Given that I was the first to set foot on these worlds, this shot alone was worth almost 160 million credits.

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Needless to say, I'll be returning to the bubble a rather wealthy man.

Speaking of which, I plan to continue on after my brief respite at Jaques Station. I had planned on heading straight home, but I'm now considering detouring slightly to meet up with some fellow squadron folks who just set out on an expedition of their own. It won't be too out of the way, and it'll be good to see CMDRs KnightFury_Ed_TTV and Conjoron before I return home.

I can't believe I'm nearing the end of this journey. I certainly won't ever forget it.

Six Months to Landing

Day 185 | 65,647LY from Sol | The Abyss | Oevasy Sector | SG-Y D0 B 9 F |

I departed on May 13. Today is November 13. By my reckoning, that's about six months.

I landed on the furthest planet of Ishum's Reach today. I'm not entirely sure it has sunk in, yet. It's just surreal.

Let's go back a little though. I absolutely can't leave out that, since my last log, I did manage to stumble upon a lovely O2 atmosphere world with some biological signals, but what always takes my breath away about those words are the astounding sunsets. See for yourself:

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From there, I made pretty good time... and more than a few credits. Last night, I finally completed the jump into Beagle Point. I scanned the beacons, I saluted a dog that's been dead nigh on a decade, and I landed and walked around a bit on a moon. I then headed over to one of our squadrons carriers, the TFCS Wings of Time, conveniently parked in the system by our very own CMDR "NotAScratch" Hunter_TTC." I sold some data, relaxed a bit at the bar, and then prepared for the final leg.

Almost forgot the most important part. Well, to me anyway. While I was on that moon I finally delivered the cargo I had been hauling all this time. One ton of Hutton Mugs and one ton of Lavian Brandy. Well... minus a little bit of tribute to the captain, as well as some for the return journey. Most of it, though, you can be sure.

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So then I began the slow process of single-jumping to Ishum's. Sure, there's some "recommended" routes other pilots have taken, but I'm not usually one to stay on the beaten path. I am an explorer, after all, so I made my own way. Just a few short jumps later, and a nice cruise to the outer edge of the system, and I made it. Over 100k Ls from the entry point, and over 65,647LY from Sol. The furthest mankind has travelled, save those suiciders that point out from here and just keep going until they run out of fuel and oxygen. I walked around on the planet that is further from Earth than any other known planet. Me.

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Like I said. Surreal. I may have looked out into the black and just wondered for a hair of a second. What if. How far? Seriously, though... just a microsecond. That's all. The thought passed before I really processed it.

I'm going to soak it in for a bit before heading back to Beagle, and then start planning the long, long journey back home. I hope the war is over with by the time I get back, but somehow I doubt it.

Almost There

Day 176 | 61,921LY from Sol | Acheron | Cheia Dryoae Sector |

Well... it's clear to me now that I haven't been as faithful to my log entries as I had initially planned. I keep finding ways to procrastinate and not make an entry. Busy with ship repairs. Plotting the next leg of my course. That bottle of Lavian won't drink itself. You know, all the usual little lies we tell ourselves.

I have been busy, though my overall pace has slowed somewhat. I'm in with the rhythm of the black, now. Slow and steady. Lots of sleep.

While I was flying through the Dryman's Point and Sagittarius Carina Arm regions, I saw so many crystal formations and peduncle trees. It's kind of crazy, you know? They exist almost nowhere else in the galaxy, and yet seem to be everywhere in those regions... almost as if they know about the borders [i]humanity[/i] has drawn. Kind of creepy, really. Anyway, I did see a really pretty grouping of crystals just before I exited into Mare Somnia:

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Then, later on, I managed to capture a pretty impressive (I think) nighttime shot on a small ice body. The galaxy spread before me in the night sky provided the only light, and my drone cam happened to catch a neat silhouette of me standing on the surface:

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Last week I made it to my last pit stop at the DSSA Jolly Roger. I stayed a couple of days there to recuperate, and then headed back out and plotted my final leg to Beagle Point. Currently, the computer says I have just under 200 jumps to get there. It's kind of surreal, to be honest, to think that I set out on this little expedition of mine almost half a year ago. But here I am... almost there. Soon, the sun will set on this trip and I'll be turning back towards home, and all the nonsense there is to find back there.

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Then again, I took my time getting out here. I suppose I can take my time getting back, too!

A Bit of Recuperation

Day 130 | 45,172LY from Sol | Sagittarius-Carina Arm | Abairdy Sector | DSSA Gilles Villeneuve T2X-16T |

This will be a short one, my dear log. I docked at the DSSA Gilles Villeneuve a few days ago. I'm now a wealthy man, having added over six billion more credits to my account from the proceeds of my data collection efforts. Not long ago I was a little embarrassed at the sheer amount of credits my account was adding up to, but I'm slowly getting over that feeling. So what if I could buy a handful of these fleet carriers? Surely I'm not the only CMDR with those kinds of funds. At a certain point, it just becomes a ridiculous amount and the money doesn't really matter anymore. Maybe that makes me a bad person? Who the hell knows? All I know is that it's not why I came out here.

Spending a few days on this carrier around other people has done me good. I like going it alone for long stretches, but I'm learning that even I have my limits. I've also learned that I'm getting pretty sick of Lavian Brandy, so it's good to sample some of the 'local' sauce.

Then again, these folks spend all their time ages away from home too. Maybe we're all just the same kind of crazy.

Anyway, did see an interesting binary moon pair that was in pretty close proximity to the rings of a gas giant. Made for some impressive views from the surface.

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Anyway... that's all I've got this time. Setting my plotter antespinward and continuing on soon. I think I'll have a few more drinks first, though.

Gravity

Day 115 | 43,658LY from Sol | Dryman's Point | Dryia Chraea Sector |

Made it to the edge again. I guess you'd call this the "eastern" edge if you were looking at a galaxy map with Sol near the bottom. It marks a milestone in my having traversed the full width of the galaxy. I've turned the Ecco antespinward now, setting my sights on the DSSA GILLES VILLENEUVE for a final pit stop before I begin the last leg of my originally planned expedition. I find myself considering what the plan is once I get there... once I complete this exploration rite-of-passage that I never bothered with before. I suppose a small amount of Lavian Brandy will still be left, and I only opened one case of the Hutton Mugs I'm carrying since they are reusable. That FSD-salvaged metal is pretty tough stuff.

Dryman's Point seems unique in that it appears to border a region of space home to thousands, maybe millions, of peduncle tree colonies just floating freely in space. Where did these things come from? How do they exist in the vacuum of space? Why haven't they spread beyond this region? I've been out on this journey for months and never seen a single NSP signal, but in the last weeks I've seen at least fifty of them. The novelty eventually wears off and you forget the rarity. Only the questions. Always questions. I guess I'll leave that to the eggheads back home. I'm just a finder.

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I can't sleep on the ship lately. When I first left the home systems, I would spend hours just floating about the Ecco's cabins. Sometimes I would drift off and experience that slight panic upon waking, worried I had somehow drifted outside the ship. Ludicrous. For the last week or so, however, I find myself having to land somewhere before I can get any decent sleep. I need the gravity. I need to feel the the grounding force applied to me, no matter how slight it may be. I need to feel the weight of things.

It sounds crazy, I know. I'm a spacer. A pilot. I live out in the blackness. Why do I feel drawn to gravity like this? I've always felt a draw to land the ship when I'm taking a long rest, but now I can't fall asleep in space at all. I feel somehow uncomfortable when I'm on the drift.

Maybe it's those feeds from Aegis. Think of it. MILLIONS of people being collected. To what end? Nothing good, I'll wager. The 'goids are engaging in their own little genocide, and we're quickly becoming the galactic refugees. Is that why I can't sleep out here? I'm afraid I'm going to wake up in the clutches of one of those... thimpets? Isn't that what they are calling them back home?

Maybe it's good I'm out here, although lately I'm wondering if I should head back. What difference can one man make? One pilot? I don't know, but it's starting to weigh on my conscience. Weigh. There's that gravity again.

For now... onward to the GILLES. Stick to the plan. See it through. Jump. Scan. Jump.

Wearing Thin

Day 95 | 35,825LY from Sol | Dryman's Point | Phooe Auscs Sector |

Oh. Right. This thing. I think I forgot I was supposedly committed to making logs of this journey. Too much brandy, too much black, maybe a little bit of madness. I started out staying on top of it and I think I had great intentions. It's hard to remember. That was months ago.

The core and Colonia were too bright. I'm not used to that much light. It took too long for my eyes to adjust as I began heading towards the opposite rim. I've been sleeping a lot, as a result, curled up in my bunk for hours or days at a time while parked on some moon.

I've seen a few things, between bouts of sleeping. I found this cool nebula that seemed to be touching a star.

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Then I found an even cooler, fiery nebula with twin stars and a moon. The nebula looked like the aftermath of a massive explosion, and I started thinking about those ancient stories about phoenixes and thought... well... maybe those could be its eggs!

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I sent my data and images to the folks over at the Galactic Exploration Catalogue, but they didn't seem very impressed. Oh well. Not sure I'll bother sending anything over to them again, not that I hold any ill will. Just... what's the point, you know? From what I hear on the GalNet it sounds like all of civilization is on the brink, so who cares about some nebula out in the middle of nowhere? Goids abducting people in escape pods? I don't even want to think about what they are doing with those people.

So I don't. Instead, I sleep. Then jump. Then sleep. Jump. Sleep. Jump. Scan. Sleep. Jump. Scan.

Ugh... might not be any brandy left when I get to Beagle at this rate. If I ever get to Beagle. My fault, I suppose, for taking the indirect route. I'm still committed, yeah I see that look in your eyes, but you know... I've also forgotten the feeling I had the first time I cashed in my data. Those billions of credits are just numbers on a screen now. What good do they do me out here? None. None at all.

And what's up with those whispers I keep hearing in witchspace?

Anyway, not sure why I'm still dictating this to the computer, and there's sleeping and jumping and scanning and brandy drinking to do.

Colonia Arrival

Day 65 | 22,000LY from Sol | Inner Scutum-Centaurus Arm | EOL PROU Sector

Just made it back to civilization. Well, sort of. I've arrived at Jacques Station in the Colonia system. It's been a long time since I've been out this way. I suppose I took the scenic route getting here, since it took me a little over two months. It feels weird seeing stations, carriers, and [i]traffic[/i] again. Part of me is glad to be back around lots of other people. Most of me is itching to get back out in the black again. The sheer number of stars in the area is nearly overwhelming after spending months in the dark reaches of the rim.

Partway here, I ran into a system with an ammonia atmo world that was registering some biological signals, so I flew down to take a look. I came into atmo near the sunset region of the planet, and was immediately shocked at the vibrant reds that greeted me. I half expected to hear Latin chanting when I disembarked on the surface.

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Speaking of Latin chanting, I think I've just about shrugged off that Raxxla nonsense. I'm not going to say I won't check out eighth moons or anything anymore, but I've stopped perusing the codex and coming up with wild theories. It's nothing more than a passing fancy to me now... because deep down I think I know it's probably bullshit. Or at least, that's what I'm telling myself so I don't go crazy. Nobody has found it yet. If it exists, which I am beginning to doubt, it may never be found. I'm still an explorer, though, so I'm still going to explore interesting things I find... including gas giants with abnormally large numbers of moons.

Speaking of which, I found a system not far from here with over 50 bodies. Several of them registered biologicals but with no atmospheres. The gravity on most of them were too great for me to disembark, but I did manage to get out on one of them to get a couple of nice shots of these anemone type plants. I had to be careful though, as the heat of that planet started cooking me inside my suit as soon as I stepped out.

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I'll be here in Colonia for a few days, at least. I've got to see Etienne Dorn and get some final modifications done to the Ecco. After that... well I haven't decided yet. I may head towards the core again since I'm so close, or I might just make a beeline for my ultimate destination out at Beagle. I'm even considering heading right back to the rim and continuing spinward on a circumnavigation. Not sure I'm that crazy, to be honest.

First, though, I think I'll head to the bar for a few drinks that [i]aren't[/i] Lavian Brandy and aren't served in a Hutton Mug.

Dark Wheels & Surprise Visits

Day 51 | 39,737LY from Sol | Errant Marches | Rhiefa Sector

It's been awhile, as is becoming fairly typical for my log entries, so there's quite a good bit to report I suppose. After having just visited Star One in my last entry, I headed spinward along the rim towards the waypoint I had intended to bank towards Colonia from. Along the way I stumbled across some pretty impressive sites on a frozen moon orbiting a nearby ringed gas giant. I submitted the find to the Galactic Exploration Catalog. but it may not quite meet with their high standards. Still... it was noteworthy to me for the sheer number of geysers erupting along the entire surface. I've never seen a body quite that active before. I caught some nice views while there.

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Also noteworthy were the biologicals I couldn't find. The majority of the surface is made up of deep crevasse and ravines, so I eventually headed on my way without finding everything. Haven't done that in awhile.

Something began happening to me after Star One, though. Maybe I've been too long in the black, or boredom started seeping in, or I actually am developing some kind of delirium. I started pouring through the Codex reading about The Dark Wheel and Raxxla. ME.... reading up on that stupid legend. At first I couldn't believe I was doing it, but then I started digging into other, less-reliable sources, and I found it began to pervade my thoughts as I jumped from system to system. One haunting thing I read about was the so-called "whisperer in witchspace." Now, I'm not usually one to give much credence to such stories... but even [i]I[/i] must admit to hearing some strange sounds in witchspace from time to time.

I'm not saying I'm putting my stock in the rumors of the legendary world or the dark society involved with it, but I've definitely been interested in learning more. That may not be a good thing.

Another odd thing came to my notice while I was heading spinward. My ship's comm system was getting the usual pings from registered squad mates, but I happened to notice when glancing through the list one day that one signal in particular was unusually strong, which meant that it was unusually close. Most of my squad mates were either over 40,000LY away in the bubble or scattered across the galaxy, but my estimates put this signal somewhere in the 18,000LY range. It belonged to CMDR WileEJeff, a friendly sort with an amiable sense of humor. I checked again the following day and the signal had gotten even stronger, meaning closer. Was he coming out to check on me? Was something wrong? Did I offend someone back in civilization that had sent him out to exact their toll?

I decided to hop on comms and ping his ship with a text alert for whenever he was manning his helm. It was simple and direct.

"Do I have a stalker?"

It didn't take too terribly long for my ship to register his reply. "Thought I'd surprise you with a visit and maybe a special delivery."

I'm not going to lie to you, my dear log... for a brief period panic set in. I'd been out here so long with only brief visits to carriers to restock my supplies and sell my data, so I was getting very, very accustomed to my solitude. Even those brief carrier stops had been short, planned, and slowly built up to over hundreds of jumps. Now a member of my squad was zeroing in on my position and would be here very soon.

I decided to buy the time I needed to process and mentally prepare to engage with another human being (my gosh I am losing my head), so once I reached my originally intended turning point I instead turned rimward into the sparse section of Aquila's Halo that corners the Outer Arm region. I fired up my injectors and began the slow, methodical process of plotting a single jump at a time until I made it to the very edge. I then turned back spinward again until I found a system just slightly in from the edge that was my FSS reported as teeming with life. CMDR WileEJeff was getting close, so I picked a nice moon about 30,000Ls from entry and flew out, made my landing, scanned the few biologicals on the surface, then waited. I was now over 43kLY from Sol, and a little over 30kLs from the system entry point.

In short, I was making him work for his visit. What a fool I was.

I watched as his massive Beluga came in for a landing beside my relatively tiny Dolphin. I had honestly started to think of my little ship as quite spacious and roomy, but his reminded me how wrong that thought was. When he deployed his SRV and drove up to my ship, he immediately jettisoned two cargo containers which I would later learn were filled with coffee.

"Brought you something to fill those Hutton Mugs with," he said with the wide, friendly smile I've learned he gives freely. "Afraid it's gotten a bit cold since I set out, though."

When I tell you I almost died laughing, well... you'll just have to take my word for it. I think I almost hyperventilated from all the extra oxygen I was sucking in. I needn't have been stressed about his unannounced visit. Turns out a friendly face was just what I had been needing most.

As one may expect with most explorers, we're a bit crazy. We almost immediately began getting up to hijinks and at one point I even parked my little ship on top of his. It looked like the Beluga was carrying its child, just like an ancient earth whale would swim with a calf.

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We took some obligatory photographs together, checked out the local flora, did some crazy flips in our SRVs, challenged each other to jump them up on top of his Beluga. Eventually he got me to help him with some light maintenance on his point defense system.

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After running around like idiots for awhile, we ended up just sitting on top of his ship and chatting over the quiet hiss of our oxygen systems while watching the alien green atmosphere dim with the sunset. My soul felt recharged by the time we said our goodbyes, and it was only after several jumps that I realize I had [b]completely[/b] forgotten about the coffee he'd ejected on the surface for me. I guess I'm still stuck with Lavian Brandy, for now. I really am an idiot sometimes.

His visit did me a lot of good, though, even if he is completely mental for making the insanely long trip out here just to visit and have a bit of fun. I suppose I can't really talk, though, considering I just flew 487,465Ls to check out the eighth moon orbiting an unnamed gas giant. Stupid Dark Wheel nonsense. There was nothing there, of course.

We really are all just a little touched in the head. I think it might be a prerequisite of being an explorer.

Star One

Day 40 | 36,551LY from Sol | Errant Marches | Flyeia Eaewsy Sector

Not a ton to report, but it's been over a week since my last recording so I figured I was due. The most notable thing I have seen in that week would have to be the fabled Byaa Thoi GC-D d12-0, or "Star One" as it is colloquially known. It's the Milky Way's closest stellar neighbor to the Andromeda Galaxy. Close is pretty subjective, though, as the former is still over 2 million light years away.

I've gotten pretty used to staring off into the void, so looking towards Andromeda itself wasn't the most impressive thing for me there. It still looks incredibly tiny that far away, but deep down I know it's incomprehensibly immense. I feel like I've travelled so far to get to this last stop of the Milky Way, and it's nothing compared to the distance that remains between our two spirals.

That awe-inspiring thought notwithstanding, the more impressive sight was still when I turned the Ecco around to head back towards our own galaxy. This is what the ship's exterior cams caught:

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Just... beautiful. I've heard of feeling 'on top of the world' but this is something else. I guess it's 'on top of the galaxy.' Was definitely a sight to behold.

So now I've turned my ship spinward along the edge and I've been heading that direction for a little over a hundred jumps so far. I'm about a third of the way to the edge of the Errant Marches, at which point I plan on making a turn coreward towards Colonia. As much as I like it out here, it will be nice to visit civilization again for a little while and do some tinkering on the Ecco. I'm certain I can get a few more light years out of this FSD.

It's interesting, though... when I think about [i]visiting[/i] Colonia. I feel like heading back to the bubble and Sol would also be [i]visiting[/i]. I've only been out a bit over a month, but I guess this isn't my first trip in the black. I dunno... so-called civilization doesn't feel like home, anymore. Being out here does. I'm surrounded by indeterminable blackness and emptiness interspersed only sporadically with wonder and beauty. Yet I feel more alive than I ever have before.

This is where I belong. In the pilot's seat. In the black. In the void.

Eventually, I'll run out of brandy though. Maybe I should learn how to distill the stuff myself.