Thursday, January 14, 2016

Beyond The Abyss

It has been two months to the day that I made port for rest and recreation in Alioth. It's been busy and costly, since I eagerly wanted to upgrad my fuel scoop to a state-of-the-art one after all the time-consuming tanking back in the black. It's not that Stellar Cartographics makes you a rich person, you know. I mean, they can if you manage to give them tons of data from like thousands of celestials, it's just that you shouldn't be tempted to calculate an hourly wage on it. Anyway, the Intrepid is in good shape again (and so am I) and I was browsing through the long term Mission Board when I ran into Commander Kamzel again. You know that guy from the Galaxy Mapping Project I hooked up with on my Perseus Arm trip. He told me of another project he was setting up and on top of his former one so quite naturally I was interested in what he had to say and show. The result was an exchange of communication over the InterCom and, well, the idea of the project won me over. So I called the docks and ordered some other upgrades for my Asp and just hoped the workers wouldn't go on strike or the station into a lockdown (you know, all those maintenance shutdowns these days...).

And now, exactly two months later, I find myself on some small fringe world named Pallaeni; and what awaits is nothing less than the biggest concerted exploration endeavor this galaxy has ever seen (apart from the era of generation ships maybe). The big impact crater on Pallaeni's pole is bustling with activity, the comings and goings of many ships from throughout known - and unknown - space. What unifies us is the gigantic Distant Worlds Project, launched in 11/3301 AD shortly before my return from the Perseus Arm. It's an undertaking by multiple private and corporate consortiums, including the omnipresent Pilots Federation with the aim to provide a safe and mapped corridor of travel to the galactic core and beyond.

Needless to say, I was intrigued from the very first start and after some thoughts, preps and goodbyes I parked my good old Asp among all those pioneer in that crater. I had the option of an Anaconda-class retrofitted exploration cruiser, but it would not have felt right to leave my 'Intrepid' behind, that space lady that served me so well all those months out in the black.

The route is set and divided in a multitude of waypoints and basecamps. The first one is the planetary nebula Shapley 1, named after ancient days astronomer Harlow Shapley, the guy who found out that the Milky Way was way bigger than it was thought and that Earth lay in a pretty boring spot of it and not in the center. He sure had a hard time then making his point.

The route from Pallaeni towards Shapley 1 was of course dotted with the homing beacons of many ships. All from explorers who agreed to share instant location data with each other. I think this alone speaks for mutual trust and the will to fly and work together. When compared to all the bickering and political schemes going on in the Bubble I sometimes wonder if it's out here in the unknown that people can together find what you might call galactic peace. We just have to tread carefully in uncharted space because you never know what waits there.

Part of the fun of it, really...

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