Redefining “Epic Journey”

Commander Cruento Mucrone is another of those ordinary Commanders accomplishing extraordinary things. But even by seasoned explorers’ standards, his journey is truly one of epic proportions. The Gazette caught up with him recently to learn more.

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Thank you for taking the time out to speak to the Gazette, Commander. So, firstly, what is the nature of your mission and what are you flying?

I am flying a stock Cobra Mk III, Silence Unbounded. I left the Bubble on 3rd September 3301 with the aim of circumnavigating the outer rim of the galaxy, following each of the four major arms as far towards the end as I could get before retracing my steps to cross to the next one.

Nearly 17,000 systems, and more than 300,000 light years later, I am now well into the Outer arm, having been to the end of the Sag-Car and Scutum Centaurus arms and having recently come back to the “south” of Sag A*. I feel as though I’m around halfway done. However, that calculation could potentially be thrown off by quite a lot – it depends on how far into the Outer Arm Vacuus I can push Silence, and so how long a detour back to cross into the Perseus Arm I end up making.

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That’s a huge task you’ve set yourself. You say you estimate you’re half-done – does this indicate you won’t be finished for another year, maybe October 3303?

I think, like almost every explorer, the urge to scan everything in a system is becoming rarer over time. On my first trip, I scanned every single body in the first 900 systems or so – I regularly passed two or three hours without jumping! That has slowly declined and what I will scan in detail has become a list that can now be shorter than ever, depending on my mood.

Often, however, I will see at least one system full of HMCs that look like half of them are in the Goldilocks zone, and then I WILL scan everything. I always scan the star I jump to. In between that it varies, and the amount I scan per system on average is decreasing, and consequently my rate of travel is accelerating.

For these reasons I’m thinking it might be more like 20-22 months rather than the full 2 years.

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That’s fantastic! How are you coping with some of the lower density areas? Presumably you don’t have an SRV on board if your Cobra is stock? What’s your jump range?

My basic jump range is 25.6 light years. I can eke out 27 and a bit on fumes. No SRV, no jumponium; if you couldn’t get it 12 months ago then I don’t have it. I have had offers of help with mat scooping but (a) I’ve committed to doing this old-skool and (b) I’m far too scared of losing it all to make my first attempt at low altitude flying with 17,000 systems of scan data on board. I’ve never landed on a planet; I’ve gone into orbital glide a few times to admire the view but not gone much lower than the transition zone.

I’m coping with the low-density areas stoically… I’ve become quite good at recognising the density I can plot through in the GalMap and I don’t try and plot more than 2-300 light years when the density drops. Occasionally I’ve manually plotted lengthy stretches to get a bit further along an arm, cross a gap a bit earlier or in a few (ultimately failed) attempts to get more than 40k light years west of Sol, noting system names on a piece of paper/using bookmarks since they became a feature. The important thing is to remember that sometimes you must go back a little to go forward.

What keeps you interested, and moving forward? Is it possible, given the sheer amount of time you’ve spent out there, to still be amazed or surprised occasionally?

Finding an ELW never loses its allure – I don’t go out of my way to cherry-pick likely systems so they’re not that frequent and I also like to listen to music while I fly so I don’t use the system map sounds which means there’s still a sense of excited anticipation as I fly out to one of those pale blue dots that looks like it probably is.

Big stars as well, jumping into a system and seeing the distance to the star that’s right in front of you is in the hundreds of light seconds always makes me go ‘woah’ and I really like the light in blue systems generally for taking pictures.

In the end, I just find flying my Cobra an incredibly relaxing and satisfying way to spend my life.

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Will you be calling in on Colonia at some point? It seems like it might be your natural home, apart from the one Out There..

 Definitely. I might even skim the bubble and go straight there at the end of this trip, but I need to get back to the crossing form Perseus to Sag-Car to complete the circle so I’ll be on the far side of the bubble from Jaques.

I’ll see how it’s looking over there in 9 months – hoping it will be different to the main bubble and not just smaller and farther away…

One final question, then: what happens when you finally touch down? Will you spend your no-doubt huge fortune from map data on bigger ships, upgrades, engineer modifications? Will you be looking to do something even as simple as driving around on a planet?

I’ll check out the planetary landings and hoon around in an SRV for a while. After that…?

I have no idea. Watch this space.

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All photos courtesy of Commander Cruento Mucrone

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