I returned three days ago from a two months trip to the NGC 7822 Stellar Nursery, mapping out YSOs, Black Holes and Neutron Stars. NGC 7822 has a story of its own and surely one day I will put down my version of it. Let it be said that it’s worth the trip.
As soon as I had a beer and a shower back home, I took out my good old T-7 (the Space Mule) and hit the shipping lanes along the Federation-Imperial border. It’s one of the last regions where trading goods and having fun are still the same thing. And yet, things were different. Folks around the spaceports seemed somewhat detached. They had their squabbles over discounts, they had their bullyings for the best landing pads and they always wanted to be first in the queue for docking permits.
After three days I found out, that I was detached. Out of sync. That the bustling, busy anthill was doing its duly routine and I… I looked back out there. It took me two days of trading in that cramped Space Mule to realize (again) that I don’t belong here. Busy trade lanes full of traffic, comms chatter, wannabe pirates and the omnipresent systems’ police.
I got wanderlust… again.
I sold my Beryllium (for the gazillionth time), gave the traffic warden some bucks for a mug of coffee and told him to mothball my Space Mule again. I went to the Universal Cartographics Bulletin Board and it didn’t take long to find an entry from the Institute of Galactic Exploration and Research (IGER). They were looking for pilots for an extensive survey of the Sagittarius-Carina spiral arm. What followed was a short comms exchange with the operation’s Commander, and then things were set: It would take a decent amount of time but should be worth the stretch. UniCart would buy the exploration data as usual but would leave all other mapping rights to the IGER operation called the First Great Expedition. They were already underway but there was still time to catch up.
So I went out in my Asp Explorer, the AGS Intrepid, and set off to meet them. I thought of a flashy operations name for myself, and feeling the need to ‘spiritually’ lay civilisation aside for a few moments and concentrate on the beauties and wonders of the universe I decided to take the ‘Pilgrim Road’ to the stars, like so many other men and women did before me. And only the universe knew, what would wait at the end of it.
A more perfect stage couldn’t be asked for…