This week the comms have been busy with bulletins and discussions about the Princess Lavigny-Duval and the construction of her personal fleet of Imperial Clippers. The massive order placed at the shipyards of Syromyatnikov Horizons meant that metals were at high demand. However, as vast hordes of traders (and pirates I would presume) were flooding towards the Nu system in Empire space, I had already set a course along the borders of civilised space.
I set down my newly acquired Asp Explorer on a landing pad at Stepping Stone Base, HIP 8396 and collected some last minute supplies in preparation for my maiden exploration mission. Those aboard the platform were all employees of the Sirius Corporation and willing to do me a favour by refuelling my tanks considering my past. Yes I worked for Sirius, but that's a story for another time. This outpost was literally a stepping stone on a path leading deeper into unknown space at the end of which was the furthest colonised system also owned by the Sirius Corporation. One day I shall visit and recall my past. For now, I had given myself a close, but notable landmark in the galaxy in which to head towards - the Seven Sisters cluster, also known as the Pleiades Nebula.
The journey took a few days, and would probably have been quicker if I had been more selective with my scanning. I had searched GalNet for some exploration reference material, but frequently forgot to consult it. Next time I will learn to identify and ignore the celestial bodies which are practically worthless.
Mid-way on my journey, Col 285 Sector FB-X D1-78: I picked up an unidentified signal, "strange, what the hell could this be" I thought. I dropped out of super cruise and deployed hard points... Four canisters of ancient artefacts drifted within 1km of my ship. No wreckage, no other signals. My computer identified the canisters as illegal salvage, but I had to pick them up. I decided not to sift through them until I was safely at a black market where I could get them analysed professionally, so I closed up my cargo hatch and continued scanning the system.
In the same system I dropped out of super cruise in the rings of a Jovian planet and was astounded to pick up a contact on my sensors. An Adder licensed to the ID of 'Allan Sargent' was mining - for what, I couldn't tell as I had no appropriate facilities installed. I hailed the ship, and met with a less-than-friendly reply - not over the comms however, instead he charged my ship. Luckily his velocity had no impact on my shields - but I did take my leave... Whatever he was doing, he obviously didn't want company. His behaviour was suspicious and I couldn't help but wonder about the coincidental appearance of those canisters that I had salvaged...
The rest of my trip was uneventful, and soon the colourful aura of the nebula surrounded me as I jumped into the Maia system at it's heart. Again I jumped to attention as I picked up a contact on my sensors. A fellow pilots federation member: CMDR ATHCON - flying a Lakon Type-6. I hailed the ship and we shared a brief moment of friendly conversation. It seemed his enthusiasm for exploration had gotten the better of him, as his ill-equipped vessel didn't even have an advanced discovery scanner. I threw him the suggestion of following in my footsteps by acquiring an Alioth permit for a discounted Asp, for which he thanked me before we amicably parted ways.
Maia system is arguably the most beautiful place in the galaxy I have visited thus far, and also contained a black hole - something I have never encountered before. I got as close as I dared but did not want to take an unnecessary risk on my very first outing into deep space! After my lengthy scans were complete, I also visited the surrounding systems of Pleione, Merope, Atlas, Sterope II, Calaeno and Asterope and similarly did extensive observations of their celestial bodies.
My return route took me through the Aries Dark Region and towards the edges of Empire space; I had never been further than the Federation/Empire borders so this was exciting but also slightly nerving. Two other interesting occurrences happened during my return trip. Firstly another unidentified signal in Aries Dark Region MS-T turned out to be... toxic waste. Who had gone to the effort to dump this way out here? It occurred to me that the edges of deep space were probably ideal places for certain criminal activities and the dumping of illicit and unsellable cargo... Secondly in Hyades Sector DL-Y D75, I dropped out of super cruise and identified one canister of... clothing? How bizarre. I scooped this up and crossed my fingers that the clothing wasn't being worn by a corpse...
I stopped at the first civilised system I came across - Ngobe. Landing at Offutt Colony I took a long breath and stretched out in my seat as tiredness began to take me. I signed in with the deck officer and collapsed in my quarters. If I hadn't been so tired then I would surely have been kept up by thoughts of what my cargo hold contained... There were no services here to help identify the artefacts, and no black market anyway. However if there was a dead body in my hold, then I needed to be rid of it before I got too deep into Empire space. I had questions that I'd probably never get the answers to, but I guess that's the galaxy in a nutshell.