GalNet connection set up. Source system: Skaudai CH-B d14-34. Recipient system: Sol. Ready to transmit. Timestamp 06:15 Nov 18 3302.
Kiara Müller has what she needs and is eager to get back to Earth. Will less time left on the return trip than I took to get out here, I’m nervous, but there’s only one thing left to do – launch and head for the stars.
I have three weeks to bring a passenger 22,000 light years away and then back again. I have next to no long distance experience and don’t have a good ship for it. This is an Elite: Dangerous adventure.
Unfortunately my layover was longer than I would have liked, almost two full days with real life conflicts getting in the way. Now, time is very short, and I’ve decided to cut a straight line back home. This will take me through the fourth signpost from Sol, Sacaqawea in the Skaudai nebula as the only way station between me and home. Each leg is going to be very long – 10,000 light years then 12,000 light years – but if I stick to scoopable stars and don’t get squished by any binary stars, I should be fine.
I was unable to find any passengers or missions for the return trip to rake in some extra cash, so I set out as I came in – battered, with an empty hold, an explorer and her retinue eager to get back to Sol. I left the station and lined up to take the header photo for this log.
…And then while sitting still for the picture I got scanned and Kiara got annoyed by that. Her happiness decreased to Content because she’s secretive and would rather not get scanned at all. Arriving to Sol late could jeopardize that even more. My direct route is now even more crucial than before. It’s going to be tight.
Upon leaving Colonia I immediately noticed two things. First, by not sticking to the edge of the core – or by some crazy coincidence of chance – I’m finding far more orange and yellow stars than I did on the way out to Colonia, the last leg or so of which was dominated by huge white and blue stars. Secondly, I’m no longer orienting myself toward the core. The entire way in I was able to put the galactic core to my right and orient myself with an “up”. Now I just point any which way, not sure if I’m up, down, or something else, as the galactic arm is too faint to see until I leave the glare of the system’s primary.
Along the way I ran into a few more interesting binaries. Another couple of orange stars tried to squish me on exiting, but my heat capped at 103%, the Orca’s heat management again coming through for me. A white giant and blue giant were orbiting nice and close and I am *very* surprised that they haven’t managed to rip each other apart yet through tidal forces or something – or just merged. Can stars merge? That sounds like it would be fantastically awesome to witness from a thousand light years away.
I eventually finished all 26 episodes of Space Battleship Yamato 2199 and, in the mood, continued to the live-action film from 2010. To round out the starship bridge feel I had going for a while, I watched the video I made of me and some friends playing Artemis Starship Bridge Simulator.
At this point, this is less a travel log and more a recommendation of cool things to watch. Which, hey, that means that the trip has been uneventful. There are less pretty things to look at when we’re looking away from the core and I’m not being adventurous on my route, looking to stay safe and get back to Sol within my time frame. But hey, a viewing recommendation list isn’t necessarily bad either, right?
Which is why it’s weird when I say that I next watched the second and third act of Battleship.
Look, guys, just skip the first act and know that the loser protagonist is dating the Admiral’s daughter and his responsible older brother wants the best for him. I just saved you half an hour and now you can watch it and agree with me that the third act is better than it has any right to be and is simultaneously the best Veteran’s Day movie possible.
Upon finishing that I stopped to take stock of where I was. The Skaudai nebula is just 1,600 light years away (“just”, hah, what perspective a few weeks out this way gives you). I’ll be passing relatively close under another nebula before getting there. It’s Monday night; reaching the space port is well within my grasp, and will leave me with a couple more evenings and a couple more days to reach Sol. It’s entirely doable, but is just as daunting as when I set out.
I started Sword Art Online; I’d seen it before and will be watching at least the first arc, but if I stil with it, its 49 episodes (contrasted to Strike Witches’ two seasons of twelve and Yamato’s single 26-episode run) should get me most of the way back home.
Stars are getting sparser. The sky is no longer dazzling and my average jump range is dropping off, down to 14 or so instead of near-maximum. It strikes me that while the 12,000 from Skaudai to Sol is only a bit longer than Colonia to Skaudai, the system distance may add another 10% to that distance – or more – in extra jumps.
As I near the nebula, it’s definitely a bit more visually impressive than on the way in. As I said previously, nebulae in-game generally aren’t as dazzling as we see then in (false color in) real life, but whether Skaudai’s an exception or if they’re prettier to look at from the direction of the core and are better lit, I can’t say.
Arrival back in Skaudai CH-B d14-34 was uneventful, and gave me another “first in over two weeks” – I instinctively honked my discovery scanner in-system and didn’t return any new objects. Of course; I’ve been here before. I landed and (after breaking out a calculator for the first time) sold off over seven million credits of exploration data, bringing my running total up to 22,636,059 earned from just this on the trip. Assuming the mission turns in without a hitch, I have officially made Beluga money. Anything past this – one the long final leg back to Sol – is window dressing. Literally window dressing, gotta make those passenger cabins look nice.
I finished the night by recreating a photo I took when I was here last, roughly 25,000 light years ago. (Remember as always to click on the image to go to the full-size photo, I kept it nice and big for comparison here.) The paint on my ship is deteriorating faster than ever. Pilot Federation patches are missing entirely and the dull metal of the ship is starting to take over. I wonder how much will be left when I get back to Sol – if there will be more bare metal than paint. And how much it’ll reflect how I feel.
One more leg to go. Earth awaits.