In the second of our regular interview features, we chat to Olivia Vespera, whose call to repair Jaques Station galvanised the galactic community.
Gazette: Greetings Olivia! Thanks for coming to chat to us.
The reason you struck me as someone the colonists might be interested in hearing about is because your thread calling for miners to help repair Jaques was really the first high-profile community initiative around the station, so it was quite important. However, you’ve also contributed to the community in lots of ways before that. So a good place to start would be: what does Commander Vespera generally get up to?
Olivia: What I generally do nowadays differs significantly from what I used to do back before I came out here. Every day I wake up in a different part of the galaxy. I try to make at least one kylie a day. When I’m not jumping, I feed and play with Mala and Kala, two Giant Verrixes I’ve kept on board since the start of DWE (the Distant Worlds Expedition). I spend time keeping up to date through GalNet and parsing through mail from friends with whom I hope to be reunited.
Within the community I try to keep myself up to date with any exploration news and look forward to watching streams from expeditions.
I’ve also gone down the dark and sometimes archaic path of Powerplay analysis in my spare time. There’s a lot of it out here in the black.
Gazette: I wouldn’t have expected that! Are you pledged to a Power?
Olivia: Yes. I’ve been passively pledged to Aisling Duval for a long time, but I’ve only started being interested in being active in the community when I reached Beagle Point. I was exhausted after the journey but an unusual urge grew within me to understand it. It’s funny, isn’t it? To have a sudden interest in the Powers yet to be the furthest one could ever be from them.
Gazette: I can see how being out there could awaken that urge. And the machinations of the Powers can be fascinating.
If you look further back in your career, however, what have been the most memorable experiences you’ve had as a pilot?
Olivia: I think the majority of my best experiences have been with DWE. The community exploration. Be it at the base camps, sitting in my ship and watching ships land and take off or climbing the impressive and foreboding Mount Greeroi. I will never forget how difficult it was to climb that mountain.
Our first and only planetary nebula at Waypoint 1:
Prior to DWE I was either mostly a trader hunting for the most profitable route I could find, or doing Dispatch work for the Fuel Rats which I adored – more so than fuel ratting itself.
But yeah, DWE has given my some of the most breathtaking and memorable sights. I will not forget… yes the most memorable experience I’ve ever had was at…
Waypoint 8: New Botany Bay
Gazette: That picture is incredible.
It’s clear that there’s a ‘before DWE’ and ‘after DWE’ division in your mind. Was it the size of the undertaking and the sense of achievement, or the social aspect which was so important to you, do you think?
Olivia: A bit of both. I think more so the social aspect. Without it, I don’t think I would have gone. Everyone who went made a lot of friends out there.
It’s not only that we got to stare in awe at these beautiful sights, but we got to marvel at them together.
The journey was made that much better because of everyone who went.
Gazette: No doubt you’ll inspire many of our less experienced readers to sign up for the next trip!
Just going back to your dispatch work for the Fuel Rats – what was it about that that you enjoyed so much?
Olivia: At the time, I felt I had a knack for it. I liked the protocol of it as well as managing several rats and clients at the same time.
I like how it allows commanders to contribute in a way that has real impact in the galaxy without having to take a ship out to do so.
It might even allow folks who don’t have their pilot’s license yet to pitch in. Though I doubt the Mischief would allow an unlicensed pilot to ‘wear the hat’, it may one day be a possibility.
Gazette: I guess there’s nothing prohibiting them from it! Again, your Fuel Rats work was something that brought you into contact with many other pilots. Would you say that being so sociable is an unusual trait for an explorer?
Olivia: Maybe prior to DWE. But ever since DWE, Expeditions of all types have come out of the woodwork.
CNE, FRE, SWE, J2J, BV… More acronyms than I know.
Gazette: It did start something of a fire amongst the galactic community.
Changing topic to the new Colony now for a minute; what was your reaction when you read about Jaques Station being discovered?
Olivia: I read the news two hours after Commander Cly posted it. I think I was relieved.
Prior to that, in anticipation of the station’s arrival at Beagle Point, I – along with a whole crew of commanders – had been waiting for its arrival. I believe Erimus the hermit even organised a sweep of Darwin’s Legacy.
I don’t quite remember but I believe I had already grown restless and left Beagle Point by the time Jaques Station was discovered, so I was relieved that it was found.
As I read through Commander Cly’s post I noticed something interesting. Whilst many of its facilities weren’t operable, the one facility that was working was the Commodities Market. Gears started to turn in my head and excitement grew at the prospect of what might be.
Gazette: What did you hope for, when you made your proposal to the galactic community? Be honest! At that point nobody knew what to expect, so no shame in wild idealism.
Olivia: On DWE it was sometimes, though not often, joked that the fleet could just stay in the black forever and not return to the bubble. We could just become a nomadic tribe of ships making our way across the Milky Way. That was how good we felt during the expedition.
There are, of course, logistical issues with that. Resupply, ship repairs, maintenance, waste management.
Everything that made it impossible for there to be an eternal fleet in uninhabited space, seemed possible at Jaques if we could just get it back up and running again.
I expected in all seriousness a new breakaway community of explorers would move to Jaques Station and build a new society.
Gazette: That’s a grand vision! Has the galactic community responded in a way you’ve liked?
Olivia: It’s a dream come true. Or at least, in the midst of coming true. There’s still work to be done.
Gazette: What, as you see it, are the biggest tasks ahead?
Olivia: Establishing a shared communications network for colonists. Setting up and training security wings. Organising events regularly and building traditions that will keep us united. Perhaps even having a fair and robust legal system for handling disputes.
Gazette: How would you like to see the Colony develop, and do you have a vision for its future?
Olivia: I’d like to see it as community driven enterprise. Perhaps even live up to its name as a ‘cooperative’. I’d like it to be free from the influences of any of the great powers. I’d like to see the colony become a hub for exploration as well as a beacon of what we can do as a community of licensed pilots when we come together.
I don’t know if that’s really easy to distill…
Community driven, exploration friendly, and outside of the influence of any of the great powers.
Gazette: Have there been any developments that have worried you, or that you haven’t liked?
Olivia: Erm… I’ve heard scratchings from the Federation and the Empire about doing something at Jaques Station, and I’d probably like to know more about the Twin Candles. But otherwise, I’m really happy with how things are going so far.
I’m very hopeful with how things are progressing and I can’t wait to see what comes next.
Gazette: What’s next for Commander Vespera? What are you working towards at the moment?
Olivia: I’ve initiated the monument thread for those who pitched in for Jaques but won’t be recognised in the recent trade CG:
Gazette: Any pilots still travelling to contribute to the now-ended community goal to repair Jaques should register on that!
More broadly, what do you think you’ll get up to when you get to Jaques?
Olivia: Honestly, I don’t know. I’ll finally dock at a station. Maybe I’ll take up mining if I make it in time.
If there’s a Universal Cartographics, I ought to sell my data. But I ought to make my way back to the bubble as well – I’ve heard a thing or two about these Engineers and I’d like to pay them a visit…
Gazette: And lastly – for quite a few colonists, this is the first major trip they’ve made. What advice would you give to budding explorers?
Olivia: Avoid Canyons.
Gazette: Very sage. I wish you’d told me that before I left on this trip, as I’m now four thousand light years beyond the Outer Arm with 23% hull.
Olivia: Yeah – I’m at 15% myself!