1900hrs 7 Apr 3201
Location: Masseyville Starport
Planet: New California
System: Epsilon Eridani
10.63 lys from Sol, requires 4 units of fuel with this ship and engine to get home...
Log system booted, voice to text conversion commences...
Ahhh gee, guess this thing still works...
Imprisoned on Masseyville for a little over a month, I
was happy to be released and to get my ship out of the
Impound Hanger. I was surprised what good care the
Californians had taken of her. Yup, the Spruce looked good,
and felt even better once I hit the pilot's seat. Safe
aboard now with the hatch secure. Yes!
It did not seem possible I had been 'out of it', frozen in carbonite in that suspensor chamber for an entire month; still... my usual instant recognition of ship control panels and screens seemed a bit unfamiliar and fuzzy in my mind. Guess I have to expect some type of hang over after my deep freeze internment. A strange form of punishment in this system, to sentence an offender to a term in jail, then freeze him for the whole time so he has no recollection of the experience. I was told it was more cost effective and humane. Can't say I thought the freezing process was too humane! Now I know what that expression means... "What did you expect, you're in New California." Weird folks to be sure, I'll be delighted to be out of here.
Yup, out of that tube and out of the damn detention center. I decided to keep the beard I had grown during my lengthy trial. An unbelievable ordeal for a simple smuggling charge, not to mention the harsh sentence - usually I get off with just a simple fine. I'll be sure to reevaluate my future dealings in any illegal goods - at least in this system. Maybe the bribe should have been bigger.
Well, perhaps out of habit, or maybe it was just the need to check on familiar sights, I decided to bee-line it for the Sol System. Sector 0,0 here I come. - going to Mars High Orbital City...
I slowly climbed out of Masseyville after receiving clearance for launch. I watched New California shrink behind me on the departure angle view monitor as I twisted up slowly moving through the planet's atmosphere. Along the way, I passed several thunderheads and then on to the blue/black of space. The planet's blue skies gave way to indigo, that became night, and finally, I could see my old friends - the stars, again.
Looking back at New California I could see the terminator - separating night and day; and Masseyville, now over 5000 km below. I prepared for hyperjump, activated the robocruise, and engaged the automated jump sequence. Last, I clicked on the Stardreamer time Control unit and soon began to feel the familiar numbness of the Zilman field and ultrasonic waves. I settled back into my ultra comfy Silastoplaston seat, closed my eyes and entered the deep slumber state all pilots enjoy while in hyperspace. Besides, it was the only way to travel, unless you wished a case of space boredom psychosis. Now this is the only way to travel. Ahhhh.....
The jump was uneventful into the Sol System arriving 10 April 3201 at 21:46. Entry point was somewhere out and above the orbit of Saturn. Knowing the fines for bringing radioactives into Sol starports, I dumped my military drives waste out here, "Screw those environmentalists" I thought, "these couple of tons of garbage won't hurt anyone, space is vast."
Upon docking at Mars High Orbital City I decided to have the Spruce thoroughly serviced in the shipyard. Thus, I requested the Dockmaster to have the mechanics perform the Deluxe Service for both drive and equipment on her. It was rather expensive here at 7,760 credits, but worth paying to avoid a possible future one way mis-jump to nowhere.
I can't say much was happening at Mars High, but then I never came here just for the mood of the place. Still there was something or rather someone who always drew me back here when I visited the home system - and I was looking for her the moment I left the shipyard bays. Vicki. We meet a couple of years back and since then have had this off and on thing. We had quite a time three months ago, before I went off to New California and was caught with a hold filled with illegal goods. She worked at the Stockmarket Exchange, which is where I met her.
Sometimes she would give me a tip that someone on the BBS was willing to pay double for a shipment of robots, if I had any on board. She was good for other favors too. But she was gone... I heard from a clerk that knew her, that she had gone back down to Mars, probably to her old home town of Quenisset. He game me a copy of her station ID Badge. Yeah, she was something, and like any rogue who had just spent a month on ice... I decided to see if I could find her.
The trip down was uneventful. I decided to fly and land on manual just to brush up on my piloting skills. Quenisset looked the same, squeaky clean, spit and polished. Everything was just so. It was the Martian way. The entire cosmopolitan area, beautiful with bijou bars and trendy restaurants had the look and feel of a model home. You could hardly believe anyone really lived there. Well, it was the base for many of the Federation's major corporations home offices. ...And you know how big business types love to sport a particular image. Mars was ideal for that. I got clearance to land at pad six.
Once the ship was secured, I posted a note on the local BBS that I was looking for Vicki, but even after several days I didn't get a single response. I checked the various directories and there was no record or address for her. I couldn't remember if her parents still live here.
While waiting around I went hiking in the hills for a couple of days. It's so amazing to think that at one time you needed a space suit to stand on the surface and that this lush and green world was once red and lifeless.
Finally, I decided to give up the search and head on out. Keeping the Spruce on the landing pad each day was running up quite a little bill. After a casual look at the galactic star charts or perhaps just because I had never been there, I decided to head for the Fomalhaut system. What did the Nav. computer have to say about it?
"Fomalhaut Type A spectral class star 1797519 Earth Masses. 14.51 lys from Sol Type A Hot White Star with a terraformed agricultural world. Fomalhaut is a stable system with 33 major bodies. Vast areas of the terraformed world are used for growing custom grain crops in enormous quantities which are then exported to surrounding worlds. No manufacturing is permitted to avoid any polluting emissions."
...Hmmm sounds like a "Kansas of the stars." You can see the Fomalhaut System targeted in green in this picture of my navagation console.
The major planetary body for commerce in the Fomalhaut system is third from its sun - the terraformed world called Conversion. Mass is 1.6 that of Earth's, so I guess I'll have to do a little weight training to adjust to the gravity. Average temperature is 22 degree centigrade; Orbital period: 4.2 years - that's where the long growing season comes from I guess. Major Starports include: Fort Regan, New Lloyd, Francis, and Vincenttown. Fomalhaut 5 is a unique object, being non-stellar in nature, a type of uncooked-off star with surface temp of 1000 degree C. Major imports include farm machinery, robots, and fertilizer. And, to a smaller extent, Luxury Goods and Medicines are desired. Fomalhaut is a member of the Federal Democracy. It has a population between 10 and 100 million. It is system #6 in Sector -1,0
Right, time to get to work now. Got a run to make. My cargo for Fomalhaut: bought Luxury Goods off the Quenisset stockmarket at 1206.1 per ton. 224 tons in stock. Bought 17 tons.
Fomalhaut is "downspin" as they say from Sol, below the plane of the galactic ecliptic and quite a long single jump for any ship from here. Luckily, one of the unique benefits of my ship's configuration is carrying the class 3 military drive allows me to do single jumps of up to 24 light years! Most other ships could only do that in two, perhaps even three jumps - if they could get the range in the first place.
Leaving Mars... 14 April 3201 at 1500hrs. 6 tons mil. fuel on board for class the 3 engine; 17 tons lux goods in the hold; navigation hyperspace computer set for the Fomalhaut system. Current cash on hand: 68,892.8 credits. Launch request granted.
Oh, I don't think I mentioned that the ID of my ship is NH- 784. The NH in the ID reminds me of an ancient abbreviation I heard was once used for an area of North America before WWIII. I think it was a district in the Unified States or something, called New Hampshire. It was said to be beautiful with many forests before the nukes came. Anyway, since the ship is painted in a color similar to what a blue spruce tree looks like (they're replanted on Mars now), I nicknamed her the Spruce... Silly I guess, but Commanders get attached to their vessels.
Arriving... Dobson Terminal.
A week has past since I left Mars, its now: 21 Apr. 3201 at 2246. "Good Evening Commander" says Dobson Approach Control, "Prepare for automated docking sequence". I just love these big wheel type stations... all the amenities.
I was not in too good a mood after just waking up from the star dreamer, perhaps an ugly dream star or something. I went right to the stockmarket to see what I could sell my luxury goods for: 1528.8 is the buy price.
I then checked for a better price on the BBS but did not find any. I did however notice a post for narcotics wanted and willing to pay 2484 a ton! Hmmm, could be the authorities trying to nab some smugglers with a sting ad. I know about that. Hey, somebody here wants to go to AC 79 3888 system, and they only want to pay 250 credits - what jerks. I wouldn't even undock for that!
O.K. Biz before pleasure... I decided to sell my Lux Goods at the market and see how I
do... Made a little money. Total cash now at 94878.4 credits. Not a bad deal. Let me see, that's a profit of 322.7 per ton, times 17, that's about 5500 credits total profit. Good deal! Better than I expected.
Huh, crap. - I've still got my 6 tons of radioactives in the hold. I forgot about them! I don't even know if you can bring them into starports in this system... duh probably not since there really into agriculture and all. Luckily, I was not searched when I docked. Good thing I came in late. This stuff is a by-product of the military drive, one of the big hassles of using one. Yeah, they're expensive and dirty, but its the only way to get a class 3 drive into a hull this small and still have decent room for cargo. It's the only way I can get this type of range. What's a Commander to do?
Guess before visiting any other starports in this system I'll take a little sight seeing trip out to Fomalhaut 5 and hit the jettison button.. Heh heh...
Continue on with Chapter Two
O.K., that ends the first installment of my Pilots Log. Since I have received many requests to continue this feature... Chapter Two is now available directly through the link above or can be accessed at the index. Feedback is always welcome. Try the clipboard and give me your thoughts... THANKS. Hope you enjoyed the story and graphics.
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