Some of you may remember Tom, he was a very quiet guest and did nothing but sit in my hold for 65000Ly, but that’s another story. On more than one occasion I considered jettisoning him to his death to appease the gods in my bid to cross The Abyss. His presence was unsettling, as he cosied down in my cargo hold in his escape pod. At times it was all I could to stop myself wrenching him from his slumber. He was probably totally unaware of the burden he placed upon me and the moral dilemmas he caused. Even to this day I wonder if he even knows I existed, despite me rescuing him and carrying him back to civilisation for 4 months.
I dropped him off at the Search and Rescue depot in Jaques Station almost as soon as my ship hit the pad. I could not bear his presence in my ship one moment longer. The idea that an almost inanimate being could bother me so much was crazy. He just lay there unmoving, unblinking and catatonic. Even the canister of Tea I found nearby his crashed ship was more use than he was. At the time I wondered why I had even bothered to rescue him.
I am sure that he was welcomed home to his family back in the bubble but recently I have wondered more about my guest. What was he doing all the way out there with nothing but a canister of tea in his hold? What was his intention, his destination or even his purpose for being on that planet? Mysteries that I find myself yearning to be solved. Of course despite my standing in Colonia the Search and Rescue lot were of no use at all, apparently once the pod is handed over the incumbent is given total anonymity and I can have no further interaction.
This is just not good enough I have to know. Like a fire erupting in the pit of my stomach I have a burning desire to find out more. Even in his absence Tom still haunts me. Damn that man. With nothing more than a partial ship serial number and the data I downloaded from the escape pod I have to try and end this episode of my life. But for now I must work on a plan to find Tom.
So yeah it has been a while, but that's not to say there is a lack of things to say. CCN have been very active pushing their boundaries and expanding across the region. Until recently that has been a very peaceful progression across the nebula. But, that will only get you so far. It was not long before we found ourselves at the very edges of our range. With nowhere to go and many petty squabbles slowing us down we made some fundamental changes to our plan.
Previously we had intended to expand peacefully, but as stated we found this limiting. The first major hurdle was the Jaques Accord. Jaques Accord was a wonderful idea in the beginning of the region and had done a good job of maintaining a relatively peaceful co existence with our neighbours. Simply put it had become too limiting and was preventing us and others from extending our reach. All it took was a quick vote amongst the custodians and it was done, we were the first faction to leave the Accord and i think in some respects that many were relieved and agreed with us on the limiting effect it imposed.
With the Jaques Accord out of the way we were free to pick a target to take for future expansions. Now, this does not mean we had become mercenary in our approach, quite the opposite in fact we had no wish to take a factions home system but we were open to the idea that we could attempt a coup and take a system that had already seen it's founding faction deposed. Poe was exactly that and on the edge of our reach it offered a great opportunity to push our own boundaries further. The only problem being Likedeeler that currently owned the system. They would undoubtedly be unhappy and put up some sort of opposition. We needed to set the ground work to make it as easy as possible once the election started.
working Poe was relatively easy in the early stages with plenty of missions on offer. Surprisingly our influence rose unchecked almost as if Likedeeler were looking the other way. it was not long before they realised something was afoot and raised the issue in the diplomatic chambers of the CEI. No quarter was given, in fact we received an amount of support from factions that clearly were fed up with Likedeelers pushy behaviour in the past. They made an attempt to push us back but it was short lived. i think personally they lacked the numbers to do anything.
Within a day or so the Election was called, this changed the whole face of Poe. Missions were hard to come by and with our inability to take advantage of the trade and cartography markets we were at a clear disadvantage. CCN Cmdrs worked tirelessly accepting whatever missions came our way, they were not pleasant and at best repetitive. The pre-work we did paid dividends and gave us a cushion against Likedeeler. All efforts were turned to Poe and our influences slipped elsewhere, but we could not avert our gaze for one second. We have always prided ourselves on supporting the explorers out there and offering them help and a safe harbour, this trust and friendship was returned ten-fold with a number of Cmdrs delivering huge amounts of exploration data to phoenix harbour to shore up the home defences. Without this we would be facing a tougher time at home that is for sure.
With a day or so to go it seemed that Likedeeler had capitulated and were simply going through the motions, the hard work was done. We could not afford to take our foot off the gas though and a few of us maintained the effort in Poe while others turned their attentions to our other frontiers. The Election is all but won now and we await the change of hands from Likedeeler to CCN in Poe. Some would say they got a taste of their own medicine. Some would undoubtedly support our actions and realise it was for the good and benefit of the region. For us it is just about forging ahead and spreading our ethos. But it also sends the message to the rest of the region that the old CCN is dead, we are reinvented and we are not afraid. Be our allies or be our enemies the choice is theirs.
You know when you get that itch? Like when you have unfinished business, something you started but never quite completed? I got that, and it is burning a hole in my mind. You may remember when CCN became an official entity that myself and Cmdr Head_Case were some 9,000 Ly away on expedition Herbig Hurrah. We broke off from our journeys to help nurture the fledgling faction. Since then we have exceeded all our expectations. We have expanded, fought wars, forged alliances that span the Colonia Highway and consolidated our place in the Nebula. Now it is time for us to take up that gauntlet again and reconvene the Herbig Hurrah expedition. CCN is in great shape and we have a number of dedicated members who can bear the burden while we are away.
But first i must travel back to Shinrarta Dezhra to pick up my vessel for the rest of the journey. Loki's Lament is currently sat in the hangar in Shinrarta Dezra where she has been for a while. I must travel there and ready her for another trip. The same ship has seen me to Beagle Point and back and of course from Sol to Colonia on several occasions. In short order i arranged travel back to the "other" civilisation and was soon standing in the arrivals lounge in Jameson Memorial. I glanced out of the viewing port at Founders world below gazing at the dazzling blue seas and lush green lands i almost felt i could stay here, but no i had business to get on with. The transport to the hangar was swift and efficient as you would expect from one of the galaxies busiest ports, Jamesons Memorial you see, is only open to those Cmdrs that have been deemed worthy by the pilots federation and had the award of Elite bestowed upon them.
As i surveyed the large but compact lines of my Asp i felt the urge to jump straight in and head off in a totally random direction. Pretty she may not be but effective and comfortable she certainly is. I boarded the ship and took some time looking around and familiarising myself with her layout again. As i slunk down into the Cmdrs seat it was like i had never been away. The chair moulded perfectly to my body and i felt weightless as it surrounded me. A few switches flicked and the control panels flashed into life, almost psychedelic in there variety. All seemed good as i uploaded the new firmware for the nav computer, i can now plot 20,000Ly in one go using whatever combinations of stars i liked. With a course plotted some 3,000Ly short of Centralis i fired up the engines. The ship hummed as if with excitement at being unleashed again. With diagnostics and pre flight checks complete it was time to depart. The hangar soon disappeared from view as i was hoisted back up to the surface of the station.
There are some partnerships that are just meant to be, the symbiotic relationship between a Long Range Explorer and his ship is likened to that of the fighter pilot and his craft. You learn all those little idiosyncrasies and soon they become as familiar as the nose on your face. In no time at all i was bursting through the no fire zone on my way back to Centralis. The journey has become so run of the mill now, were once it was deemed a serious effort to make it. The Neutron Highways and the Outposts along the way Facilitate those in a hurry or that don't like to stray too far from civilisation. The journey was swift yet uneventful save a few systems with Earth like planets. In no time at all i could see the violet haze of Colonia in the blackness. Almost iridescent it acted like a beacon amidst the pitch black. Guiding me home, it loomed before me expanding, growing until it was all enveloping. The nebula is a beautiful thing, it alone is reason to be out here rather than in the swamp they call the bubble.
I lurched down on the pads in Centralis, getting used to that gravity after 22000Ly of nothing is still a difficult task. I had little time my partner in crime was itching to be away. I tried to convince myself i had all the time in the world but to be honest the itch was building again, the dark was calling and my little jaunt to the bubble and back had simply fed it and made it grow bigger. So that was that i was ready the trip was on and all that was left was to get going.....
The journey back to Colonia was a slow but steady route, The Beluga took some getting used to and i had to make good use of the stations along the way, Hillary's depot was a welcome sight for sure. I had almost forgotten what it was like to travel without the huge ranges I had become accustomed too. But the reciprocal of that is how much more you see. Even along the now, extremely well-trodden highway there were undiscovered wonders, it got my mind thinking about a new venture one day to try a little retro exploration. Travelling somewhere without the aid of engineering or chemical enhancement, but that’s a story for another time.
Right now, my single aim was to get to Colonia again where I know my friends were relying on my getting back to the "grind", great factions do not build themselves. It would seem that in my absence in Colonia things were certainly reacting in a strange manner. attempts to overthrow systems seemed rife. We, ourselves were struggling at points to keep level in the systems we resided in. What tomfoolery was occurring I had no idea but someone somewhere was up to something. Some organisation was actively attempting to upset the apple-cart. I had to get back to help out and settle things down.
The journey continued slowly, the itch to get back to Colonia was growing. I had resisted the urge to use the neutron highway due to the dangers involved and my lack of shields. but 10Kly out it became too much, I took the plunge deeper in the galactic plane and was soon amongst the fields of black holes and Neutrons. This was a dangerous part of the galaxy to the uninitiated, I had done this, many times before though. The galaxy flashed past like I was travelling through time not space (which in some ways is actually exactly what was happening). My thoughts focused on what lay ahead in Colonia, on what I would find on my return. Despite only being absent for a week or so things were changing rapidly there.
It was not long before the nebula of Colonia appeared in the distance. Like a welcome mat it was there greeting me as I approached. I had time to reflect on the great progress that had been made in the last year in the region. From that one stricken ship to the ever expanding, bustling and vibrant community it is now. Sadly, the upsurge in visitors and bubble dwellers had inevitably brought with it some of the lesser appealing aspects of the old civilisation. The kind of stuff that meant the need for people like me to oversee things. It also brought with it the scum and villainy, despite that we had made a great community which fostered inclusion, involvement and communication.
The last few hundred lightyears were gone in a flash and I sat amidst the hues of deep purple and ruby red. I took a moment to drink it all in, to see what we had created. I was proud of course I was at what we had achieved, but every day a bit of that wonder slipped away as people poured in from other regions of inhabited space. The emotions were mixed with the relief that I would hopefully not need to make that trip again. Hopefully my fleet would be sufficient to see me through the times ahead. But first I needed to get those last pieces of my puzzle to Colonia and that would require me spending some of that hard-earned wealth I had and of course inevitably it was going to take a little time. And time I had lots of now it would seem.
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