Jaques’ station, existing away from civilised space and the comforts of home, has been a beacon to us all and the exploration community has embraced it, with its great exodus from occupied space. Here, we are building our new home.
By luck, we have as a relatively close neighbour another great exploration site. At the centre of our galaxy lies Sagittarius A, a supermassive black hole – a dark, dense, and dangerous object of immense beauty. Your correspondent has yet to visit it, but it is well known by all.
And so it is fitting that your correspondent’s colleague from the Institute of Galactic Exploration and Research (IGER), Cmdr Satsuma, has the honour of planning and executing the first great expedition from Jaques’ station to the core worlds (and, indeed, the first expedition to launch from Colonia). Your correspondent will be joining that great journey, and will keep you updated on its progress. Meanwhile I caught up to Cmdr Satsuma to discuss his plans for the expedition.
I began by questioning the draw the core has for explorers. Cmdr Satsuma said:
“You’ve put your finger on something there: the core has always drawn explorers en masse. I joined the First Great Expedition before Zulu Romeo made his famous trip to the core, and back then it was the sole focus of the organization. It literally had been put together for the purposes of making a trip to the core and back.
“And there were a lot of open questions at the time: we were curious what the black hole would do to us and we worried about wear and tear from travelling. We didn’t know if our ship’s systems would simply degrade to uselessness as we advanced, how quickly that would happen, and if there would be anything we could do to mitigate it. So we literally didn’t know if our ships would hold together for the trip.
“But of course a ship did make it, and since then it’s been a pilgrimage for any serious explorer to do at some point. There’s something about counting coup against the supermassive black hole that draws us.
“And that’s really where the C3E started. When the CCN was first being put together, Corbin Moran asked me to join as an exploration team leader. I wasn’t sure how many people would be involved and how many would make it out there.
“The [Galactic] Nebula Project was very well organised, with a very strict mission and rules of operations, wings of two commanders, etc. I figured some explorers would really enjoy that structure, but others might not. We’re a very independent breed, you know? So I cast the exploration wing as a very loosely structured group with no real mission. I wanted to have something for people to do, but I wanted it to be optional. So I started combing through the Galactic Mapping Project, finding points of interest that were in the area and didn’t have a lot of data.
“And it turned out the people who joined the exploration group really liked that. And they flew godawful distances in a hurry to survey these places. But one thing kept coming up: lots of these people who had made the trip to Jaques’ and were willing to fly many thousand light years a day had never been to the core.
“That’s where the expedition began. It was originally supposed to be just a quick group jaunt to the core and back, for the exploration wing folks who had not been there yet.
“And it just kind of took off from there. The Galactic Nebula Project was due to be in the area in late November, so I figured it would be fun to rendezvous with them, and to hit some of the interesting places the CCN explorers had been finding along the way.”
Such passion will not be lost on any explorer, but Cmdr Satsuma noted that we are all independent. This brought forth another question: we explorers are social creatures, and have banded together in an amazing way for Jaques. I wanted to know what drove him to organise such an expedition for the benefit of other explorers.
“I mentioned that I joined the First Great Expedition quite a while ago. In all that time, I’ve seen the leadership of the organisation change, but I’ve always benefited from it – from the people who participate, from the staff, from everyone. It gave me a sense of being a part of something, even when I was out months away from seeing anyone else.
“I was one of the pilots who flew in Distant Worlds, as well, and that really brought home to me that there was a larger community of explorers in the game; I simply wanted to give something back to that community.
“Especially the CCN Exploration Wing. Those people are full-on space-crazy maniacs, and I adore every one of them.”
Your correspondent couldn’t have put it better himself. Watch out for future reports on progress once we have begun our expedition. And if you have never been to the core, or if you want to return there with like-minded explorers, join our expedition in November here.
Fly safe CMDRs, and see you out there.