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wanderlust [ar-43e]
(Krait Phantom)
 
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1 жовт. 2017
 
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You know yourself

Space

You read the stories; those that don't come back from scratchin' the itch. Those that do, and have these stories to tell. Those that are found, no voice left to tell, ship in bits or worse.

You know. You read it and you say to yourself: "I could tell. If I were losing it. It'd be obvious."

Maybe it is. Maybe that don't matter. Maybe when you know, it's too late.

I'll get to my girl in a minute. She's doing me proud, despite the region we're in. Yeah, I know it in my gut. It ain't her. I ain't one to tell ghost stories round a camp fire, but I just read a few and let me say this real quick. Ghosts are real.

As you'll know, I'm finding my way to the Zurara. That's my aim. That's my plan. I know where she is, too. I ain't the first to go and I won't be the last. Funny though, that some might not get much further than this. Heh. I really shouldn' be sat here talkin the talk when them Ghosts are outside my girl, in those dusty buildings, right now. I swear if I were to look long enough, I'd seem em. Real as you are readin' this.

Let me start at the beginnin'

SRV

Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta. I visited them sites in that order. Seemed about right given my route. Most a jump apart; one a little farther.

All the same. A beacon or two. Nothing spectacular nearby. Probably a good place to hide a research outpost.

Hah. Research. Them poor bastards.

All the sites still had active data points. You ride up, scan em, keep on trucking and if you're lucky, you get some data here 'n there. I managed to grab a few log entries too though. They weren't always in order, time-wise, but I got my girl to work it out and play 'em back to me. First site, well, that was a show. Left there thinkin' some poor so and so got lost; maybe paid off to do a dead end job, then lost it to space madness. Second site.. well, somethin' out here seems to have freaked 'em out. Eyes watching. Systems failing - power failing. Third site.. same goddamned story. Power, death, canopy blow out Fourth. Site. Death. POWER. EYES WATCHING.

Either those Children of Raxxla are out of their minds, or they are the worst practical jokers this site of Reorte. Either way, it ain't funny.

No one got home. That's obvious now. They may all be dead. Ain't no one out here to ask, no sign of it either. From what I can tell, these bases were that alone - but they took their ships; heh, sidewinders in some cases, out in the black to deploy those unregistered beacons. I've seen 'em. More of a quaint thing than more. Nothin' to scan; no logs. Just a beacon.

A beacon.

Beacons inform. Beacons summon. Beacons.

These are warning beacons. These should be your first warning sign. Leave. Leave now.

An' I'm still sat here.

I got me two options right now. Trust that this area is that old Earth "Bermuda Triangle" area of space, and get my ass out of here with a ship that hicups, or try to work it all out.

Thing is. That noise in my cargo rack was nothin'. Not a god-damned thing.

So I'm probably losin' it. I'm aware. I can feel it happening.

...heh, I can hear it now. There's a scratchin' outside the hull... almost funny now. Funny.

....

Site

....what the HELL is that.....?

Ain't that a thing

I had... I was gonna make my logs on a site basis. You see, there are four known research sites out here on the lip of the Rift. There's some other named systems too, 'n all but these are very real, very empt... well, seemingly empty sites just, well, just left there. Abandoned. I said so last time, and I'll say it again. Creepy as all heck.

Now, my ship has been givin' me the heebies the past few jumps. She lost some thruster capability back at Gorgon, and then at Alpha I had some weirdness going on with a junction or capacitor. To be blunt, it wasn't what I "fixed" persay as things 'been getting a bit worse. I had a power outage between Beta and Gamma. Flat out, just died. Even the ol' breathers capped out and left me seein' my own air. Stupid thing is, it all came back a few minutes later.

Wanna know the weird bit? The girl didn' notice.

You know what I mean. You reboot your girl and she comes back online. Sings her song as she wakes and gets that old ring of shield pinging away happy. Not this time. Power went, power came back. Were it a blip, well, that'd be a thing wouldn't it? A hicup in a god damned space ship. That ain't a thing, by the way. Ships don't cough.

Mine did. For minutes.

My girl, she woke and her shields were still up.

Ahm.. well, I'm gonna stop there. I hear something in the cargo rack I need to go invest... what the hell is that?

Next log will stop you comin' this way. I guarantee it. D

...damn noise.

Abandoned

It's a funny thing. I'm sat here, lights blazing, looking at an abandoned... research? site in the middle of bleedin' nowhere. Some 8000LY from home and what do I see on my scanner? A high wake pattern. It's too far gone for me to scan now but someone was out here.

That probably shouldn' be weird, bein' that people lived here once upon. But it looks like it's been quiet a long time now. Dust settles' you know? And there it is, a wake. See, you heard the ol' line. Space is big, real' big. So the chances of bein' this far out and happenin' across a fellow traveller are fairly remote. I mean to say, there are bases within a klick or two, but still, it's a cold dark black out here to be just missing someone. Were they, like me, just looking? Or were they involved... in whatever this place was here for. Hell, they didn't even pack up. I might take the buggy out, have a nose around.

But prior to that, I spent the last day jumping down this way. It's a well trodden path. I gave Salome's world a looksee - it's an Amonia world some 170,000LS from arrival, so that took a bit of time to skate over to. Nothing particularly remarkable about it, but again, we all know what those bugs like, and it's Amonia. So, was she looking for them? Or somethin' else? We'll never know now I suppose.

Salome

After that, I took my leave and headed here. In this sector of space there are now, at least found so far, four bases used as outposts and research stations. Again, I'm goin' back a few on this, and I doubt there's much of anything to discover here, but it's still spooky in its own right. I figured, I got a few thousand light years to go before I find this ghost ship I'm after, and a pit stop ain't gonna... heh, I was gonna say hurt - but that's untrue. I ain't stepping foot in these places personal. No sir. Might never leave. Might catch me a cold.

Interesting thing. I landed in-system and honked. Found a couple of unregistered beacons. Ain't nothing comin' out of them though. No scans, no noise. They're there though; probably just a friendly hello to those that called this place home for a time, but I gave them a look anyway.

Beacon

Then to the prize. Or the first of em. As I say, I ain't stepped foot yet, but I landed and thought I'd write up first. You know, just in case. Gave my girl a system-reset. I'm still getting a power quirk somewhere inside. Swear last night, I heard the thrusters power up themselves, cycle and die. I was out for the count though, so probably in my head. I mean, failsafes stop that kinda nonsense out here. Unless I got a gremlin on board. Heh.

The base

Waiting

Rifts and Graveyards

Been a couple' days since I took my leave of that oddly comforting rock. Seems most travellers out this way tend to end up staying longer than they expect. Meet a same same in the bar and shoot the shiz. Come back the next evening after toiling away making the girl ready, and there they are, propping up the bar as usual. That was me, or was gonna be if I didn't haul my ass in to the black.

Thing is, I ain't in a hurry, nor am I headed anywhere. I've had my luck recently and can take some time for me and the girl, so figured I'd go sightseeing. Itchy out here.

I headed out toward the Rift; passed through a fairly well lit area, much already seen by human eyes, and then through the Graveyard. Now, that place is creepy, but not for the reasons I expected. See, as you fly through, it's dark on one side, and shiny on the other. A cluster of red dwarfs, best my maps could say, seemed to be forever on my horizon, then they passed me by, a shining beacon, tempting you in.

I didn't go.

See, the history of that place is that for some reason, ships ended up wrecked there. Not disappeared, wrecked. Now, I ain't saying these pilots took fancy to a rock and faceplanted, no. These were in space, mostly. Blown up, floating husks. Best bet is a local pirate installation or fleet took that area as their own and plundered those with a little too much curiosity in their tanks. As far as I know, those must be long gone as the wrecks have too. Don't make that area any less creepy though.

I did suffer an oddity with the girl. I lost partial power whilst out by a binary pair; came up on me real quick whilst scooping. Barely 80LS away from the Yellow was a Red, and as I came in system it was on my panel but out of sight. I swung round and it was right in my face. I guess you do this jump/scoop enough you get complacent. Silly really; that all said, I can't account for the power loss, nor the drop to normal space whilst my FTL drive decided to reboot. Odd.

I'm now in the Heart nebula; there's two almost toe-to-toe - in galactic terms at least - out here; Heart and Soul. Cute, no? Well, There's a couple of bases here, right on top of the rift. I passed the Alpha listening post.. that's a story in of itself - them "Children of Raxxla" (ain't that creepy) placed a couple out here as listening posts. For what? Thargoids? Something else? I guess they know. But, it's well hidden. I scanned the system and came up blank, so carried on my way. There's curiosity, then there's stupidity. Where was I? Oh yeah, I passed that and settled here. Around 5k LY since my last stop, and around 7500LY from home. Not small amount, to be sure, and now it gets interesting. There's a ship out here. A big one. Said to be haunted. I aim to pay her a visit and then, well, see what I see. I'll put a log in if I find her.

After that, I gotta be careful. My girl has the range I think to get me through, but there's plenty of Red out here I can't scoop.

Then do I make a left, or a right?

Gaps. Big gaps.

I'm still callin' the next part of my journey, travel. I'm gettin' from A-to-B, old style. Jump/scoop. Nothin' fancy. I could find the Neutron highway nearby, pick it up and leap frog for a bit, but I got that itch and I wanna see if I stumble across anything fancy. I got no reason to think I will, but this first leg was pre-planned. I let the girl do the plottin', as it were, and didn't deviate.

That all said, I'm about to cross the Orio-Persian Gap. Space ain't exactly flat, but maps tend to be. So, lookin' down on our Galaxy there's a lot of nothing, filled with black holes and planetry nebula. A lot of it has seen traffic in a kinda "line of sight" way towards the 'Rift, and a whole lot more of it has never seen a ship - at least, according to records. Let's say, of the human variety.

Do I.. Hmm, tricky stuff this. I could let the girl find me a way through. Plot a cheeky route and avoid anything I can't scoop, or pick my way through and keep an eye on fuel. Mmmmm. The bow-tie nebula is in my way, so I may as well go lookin. No harm in taking some holiday snaps on my road trip. Then I can go "left or right" and go visitin' well known stops and hope I come across somethin' special, or head through the dark to the next big point of interest, according to the current maps.

Or well, there is the Graveyard. Dunno why it's there, but it is. A large, multi-LY area of space that's claimed many a vessel and her crew. I can't say I'm too keen on joining the ranks, but there might be something to find ou there - and, well, it's a ghost story. Who don't like a ghost story?

Something in my gut is saying I gotta go there. I gotta see this for myself. Could be nuthin, right? I mean, what are the chances I actually find a system with a wreck in it?


I was gonna leave it there, but I stayed another night after a brief technical issue with my ship. Looks like I had a faulty stabiliser on the port side thruster array. Wouldn't have made much difference really, but I like her smooth running. I was hoping this rock had some outfitting services, since I cashed in around 6m in cartographic data from my brief run down here. Not a bad paycheck for sightseein', but alas, a repair is all I could get for my cash. Maybe one more drink...

NGC 7822 Sect.. a big rock

Figured I'd start after the travel, but my memory ain't great. I don't mean it's going - hell no, I just mean the detail, you know? Was that rock brown or red? Did I land on 3c or was it 4? I know my logs are all there. Hell, I can get my girl to recite them like a story. Not a good story, but a story all said. But, no, there I go again - heh - no, I thought, I just jumped 53-or so-times and that was travel. I saw worlds; some water, some rock - and they had names on 'em. Every single one. The girl tends to chatter away to herself in my ear. Keeps me sane and away from the scary's. But she tells me things. This star is old. This rock is close to the star. This planet has life. You know, the basics. Also tells me if it's mine or not. If I'm the first trucker out here scanning. Got me a load of those; first discoveries. All over the Codex. Thankyouverymuch. But I tell you. 2800LY and it's all been found. I ain't surprised - we humans been out here for hundreds of years; okay, that's a bit rich, decades. Most stuff that maybe got this far out (and no doubt; you read the history, there's no way - but it happened) never reported back, and here I am reading about Commander suchandsuch scanning this dusty rock.

Gorgon Research

I'm here in NGC 7822 Sector BQ-Y d12 - sat in this hollowed out asteroid; Gorgon Research. I say it's a pit stop. I've travelled. Stage one. Nice folk here; met up with a fellow last night in one of the dives the local egg heads use. Serves stronger stuff than I'd like to admit; maybe they ain't lightweights, maybe the "science" scares them. Or, the nebula we're sat in. Maybe it's that. You heard the rumours. What's in these pretty clouds. What they were, how they came to be. Nah, you know what they ARE... but do you believe it in your gut? Do you? Just messin' with you. Not sure I'd stare too close though. So this fellow says there's been ships heading in and out the rift near by. I say near, I figure I got another 7, 8,000LY of jumps. A few weeks of travel but a few more stops on the way before I leave life behind... if I go. He says the traffic's up; somethings going on. I heard there's a research vessel down there, long abandoned. I heard it, I've not seen it. I plan - heh, listen to me! plan.. there's some beacons down there. I'm gonna use them as way points, then head in to the rift. I don't know what I'm planning on finding. A whole bucket load of nothing, maybe. Or, maybe ghosts. Lots of ships coming and going. You wonder how many go.. and if as many come back? Ain't no one keeping tabs on that number, I tell you.

Anyway, I'm here on deck. Wondering if I should maybe go get another beer first. Get a night's, then head out. Space ain't going nowhere, and it's rather nice to be 'round people at the moment. Ah, getting all sentimental and such and such; it's not my thing. I prefer the cold. I like it dark. I'll head out tomorrow. She's calling again.

Travel first, explore second

If you got the right tools, the bubble ain't so big. A few hundred LY left or right, up and down. Sure thing it's expanding, oh betcha. We going great guns on spreading out little race out in to the stars. You hear about the station in core? Damned if that ain't human, what's the word, ingenuity? Seems like a word to me. For sure we just keep reachin' out.

Course, that ain't always the right thing to do. Sometimes, personal of course, you gotta take care of home. Of your own. Them Thargoids - what a word - well, they're making moves out there. Maybe it's why I'm further out. Heh, that's gotta be it, right? I'm safer out here. Damn, I can almost convince myself of it. No one would know. No one would hear. They'd scoop me right up, beat up my poor girl, and there'd be only a cloud of green lost in the void for someone, or some thing, to stumble across. Yet, safer it feels. Away.

But they're doin' it. Can't tell you why. The 'Net says we started it; rumours for decades about the previous war. Even that became a rumour to most folk. Prove it they'd say, heh, well they just come knockin'. Maybe they're... let me look it up - ah here it is - Xenophobic? They just hating on whatever ain't them. I think we do that, don't we? Right now, I probably fit that. I don't wanna wake up with some giant - you know, I got no idea what they look like. They could BE the flower - but most say they ain't. But anyway, I ain't there and we're still reachin out. Lookin' for something? THe big Corps are; it's obvious. They've been sending capitals out and freelancers to find Guardian - heh, another great word - tech to help fight the war. You know how it goes; we only find that tech when SOL is gone. I've see the talkies, I know how old Hollywood told the story.

I guess I'll build a war machine one day. When they find it, the big guns, the original war enders. Whatever the Guardians used. It's out there. We'll find it, or they'll push out first. Then, BOOM! Heh, gonna be fireworks!

Damn I got sidetracked again. Travel.

Oh yeah, so you head out.

Wanderlust

Where was I? Oh yeah, guts and lust. Sure, a great combination, no doubt about it.

I'd returned from my first real trip in the black. Can't say I'm a better man for it, or a better pilot. I got my ship home. Heh, that's rubbish. My ship got me home. She's a better human than I am, for sure, but I think I treat her right and I ain't complaining about her holdin' air on a daily. I spent some deep pockets on makin' her jump like each throttle-up is her last. Damn near 80LY in one hit. Scoop the ol' Neutron and, well, you do the math.

I swear I'll get to the point. Or maybe I won't. Turns out I like just shootin' the shiz with you. Appreciate you readin' no matter.

I got home. I didn't exactly retire the big Annie, but she's a pig in Super and nigh on impossible to dance with on high-G rocks. She cuts a hole in the air, that ain't no lie, but I didn't build her with finesse in mind. You could also say I missed the point of exploration. Damn, I wasn't exploring, I was travelling. Big difference. Get there, get back. See the thing, cash the reward. But I got the itch. You hear about that? If you'll allow me.

You either get the itch or you get the scary's. The itch is the easy one. You go out, see your soul in the stars, come home and then, through the canopy, outside that mail slot, you hear her callin' you back. She wants you out there; the void. And hell, you need her too. So you go, you answer, you try to find her. But, you might come back with riches and a scar or two, maybe even another ship or 3, but you don't come back with her. Just the itch. The scary's. Well, that ones harder to define. Most don't come back. Thems are still out there, or dead, or worse. I think, some say even. I dunno. I seen them "Thargoids" up close. I run. I ain't stupid. Those big beautiful flowers; heh, well maybe it was them all along? Maybe they the scary's... but no, I think some folk call it "Space Madness". Can't say I can explain what that is exactly. Maybe the itch becomes scary? Maybe you DO find her.. and she hugs you so close you can't let go. Don't wanna let go...

I'm sat in her now. Wanderlust. The Phantom came on the market last year, 3304. A Krait variant of sorts. Same view, bigger jump capability but with kit on board at the same. She's a 60LY kinda girl; perhaps a bit more suited to exploring over travelling. I picked one up and gave her a bit of love here 'n there. No fancy paint yet, but them modules are only just hitting the market. Soon though, maybe if I come home.

I'd spent a couple months helpin' out here and there. My bank balance, heh, for one with some mining - another story I'll maybe tell you one day - and even fending off them 'Goid scouts here and there. But, well, I got the itch you see. A nervous itch. Jump 30', jump 11'... get home, look out that mail slot. Itch.

So I'm scratchin'

A gut feeling; or something else?

The last journey... hmm, that's not right. The last trip? Commute? It sure as hell didn't start out as Exploration. I think I explored. I jumped, a lot. All over. 60,000LY I reckon. But, I digress...

I headed out with Sag A* in mind. That said, I've spent the past few years in the bubble doing what all good Commanders do. Making money. Sure, Space, with a Capital S, is big, but I'll be sure as shiz, kick me in the crotch, confirmed as greedy as every other human out here in the black. You don't, hell, you don't, go pointin' to the second star on the right "and on to morning" without the right vessel, and credits in the tank. Hell, you don't leave home without enough raw rock in your hold to make sure you can at least feed the greedy girl that is kind enough to be called "home on the road".

So, digressin' again, I hit Colonia. That bright beacon of expansion. The big C. The ol' station in the rings. I'm making this up. I figured it was a logical first hit. Scan some stars; ride the Neutron, cash in. Then, if I made it - and don't be thinkin' we don't all leave with the dark hooded one on our shoulder - I'd turn, head in to the core and hope space madness didn't take me before a poorly timed wave ride didn't.

Gotta say, that with all them jumps, my trusty Terminus did me a solid. Got me out, got me home. I saw some sights. Gee, Space is big. But sights I saw. I got me some nice external probe shots of some nebula, a crazy big star or three... and, well, some other stuff too. You know, if you head from the core systems towards that big ol' black hole, in just a few jumps you might happen across some folks home's that no longer have folks along for the ride. Terribly sad stuff. Heh, I even saw my own Anaconda-class vessel been used as makeshift base or, something. I'd... I'd not head to that though. I mean, seemed safe enough until I scanned the hull, found she still had power and read the last couple' logs. Just be sure you're near your own hull and she's got her thrusters spinning, y'know?

Where was I? Oh, Wanderlust...

12k out

Jan 28th 2019

20...something thousand LY to Colonia. Another 10 or so to Sag... and about 13 back so far. The bubble is a long way off.

It's pretty out here. Dark.

Pretty.