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...