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Thread: Elite Dangerous Writing Contest - November 2017

  1. #151
    Originally Posted by JonathanBurnage View Post (Source)
    This story is based very closely on an expedition I made recently. I have wrapped it in a little fiction to aid the narrative - but the discovery I made, the events leading up to it, and how I eventually got there and back are all true.
    Superb! You may or may not win the storywriting contest but you've earned a place in the "Epic tales of derring-do" section of my sticky "Best of forum" thread!

    Alec-s-best-of-the-forum-(and-elsewhere)-thread

  2. #152
    Originally Posted by JonathanBurnage View Post (Source)
    This story is based very closely on an expedition I made recently. I have wrapped it in a little fiction to aid the narrative - but the discovery I made, the events leading up to it, and how I eventually got there and back are all true.

    ---
    On the house

    https://i.imgur.com/gb2ABMU.png

    “De Lacy Juliet Oscar November, welcome to Jaques Station. Submit a docking request if you wish to land.” I thought I would never hear that again. Touchdown. I triple check that the ship’s navigational logs have uploaded to Universal Cartographics and head for a well-earned drink.

    “What’ll it be young man?” The grizzled barman’s voice cuts through the background noise.

    “Lavian Brandy, 2991 special reserve.”

    Every head in the room swivels to face me. You just didn't ask for that. The barman fixes me with a disapproving stare.

    “Son.” His fingers brush the ancient bottle’s original seal, “You had better have a pretty good reason for me to open this.” He plants his hands on the bar; my triple Elite insignia have no impact on eyes that have seen millions of light years. His silence speaks volumes. You have no business making that request, boy.

    “When I left Shinrarta-”

    “Big shot here gets to park at Founders’ World, everyone!” He leans in. “You and every other pilot here. Try again, kid.”

    I lean in too. “Pull up a chair. When I left Shinrarta…”

    …the marshal signals me clear to depart, the last person I’ll see for a long time. Sunlight catches the newly-painted Combat Elite emblem on the deck of Endurance as she eases out of Jameson Memorial. Finally the trio is complete - I can stop chasing ranks and start to create my own adventures. I steer the Anaconda’s bow toward the centre of the galaxy and jump away into the black.

    Far below the galactic plane, I pass between binary stars so close it seems the whole sky is on fire. I fly around golden rings, shimmering in sunlight. Beautiful Earth-like worlds - marbles of emerald and azure - remind me of home. I near the depths and the view changes - a golden disc spreads out above me, whilst below only a smattering of stars punctuate the inky blackness. I push the ship to its limit, far beyond its normal jump range. I know I have the jumponium to get back, but this doesn't detract from the thrill. This is far more than scan-jumping to make a bit of money, or to curry favour with an Engineer. This is real exploration.


    Three weeks into my expedition I pass over a lonely bookmark on the map - Kyli Flyuae AA-A h4. At 3381LY below the galactic plane, it's more than 80LY further down than the lowest system ever reached. I have a few isolated systems plotted - but no real hope of getting to any of them. I pause to give the map a quick scan anyway.

    The Kyli Flyuae sector gets my undivided attention. YJ-Z e9 and ZE-A g15, two neutron star systems in a vertical line, lead straight to AA-A h4.

    The distances between them look vast, but maybe just within my reach. I hurry down through the rapidly thinning stars to YJ-Z e9. It’s 245LY to ZE-A g15 - well within my maximum supercharged range of 265LY. I navigate the neutron jet, jump down, then select AA-A h4 - it is 274LY away.

    Damn.

    After flying halfway across the galaxy I'm a paltry 9LY short of a new record. But I know that a handful of ships with that jump range exist. I prepare to head all the way back to the bubble for further engineering. But maybe there is another way…I'll need a starport. The nearest is in Colonia, some 9000LY away. I set course immediately.

    The bright, dense stars of the core make for a dramatic change after being out on the edge of the galaxy - I am so used to darkness filling half the sky. I dock at Jaques and offload my SRVs and shields, and replace my engineered distributor and surface scanner with lightweight stock items. My maximum supercharged jump range is now just over 276LY. I can make it!

    But can I make it back?

    The distance is right on the limit of my jump range - I will have to be very light on fuel. But the AA-A h4 primary star is Wolf-Rayet O-class. There is a normal O-class star in the system - somewhere. Will I run the tank empty before I can reach it? This is no time for fuel light bingo. I work through the detailed hyperspace fuel calculations. Ha! With precision scooping at the start of the route I can get to AA-A h4 with 4.28T in the tank. I could fly to Hutton Orbital and back with that much. I will have more than enough.

    https://i.imgur.com/eZYrpFSh.jpg

    My smug grin vanishes as the real problem hits me. I won't have nearly enough.

    If 4.28T is all I will have on arrival at AA-A h4, then 4.28T is all I will have once I jump back to ZE-A g15 - and that system has no scoopable stars. How far can that last 4.28T get me with a supercharge? 219LY - not enough to get back to YJ-Z e9. I will end up stranded in the depths of the galaxy, the record-breaking data in my computer and no way to get home and claim it. Not exactly The Right Stuff.

    I could find a willing tanker. It would be a big ask to come all that way.

    I could simply make the first jump and call the Fuel Rats, but intentional stranding is frowned upon. If I ask in advance maybe someone will come, but I am loath to reveal the location of my discovery.

    I sleep on the problem, but I am restless.

    Mild paranoia sets in. What if someone beats me to it? The galaxy is a big place, but others could be looking too. There will be no plaudits for getting there second. I stare at the galaxy map.

    The solution has been there all along.

    ZE-A g0 - an O-class star placed so perfectly it is almost divine providence. 185LY from ZE-A g15 - within the range of the last of my fuel - and close enough to other stars that I can use a synthesis boost to get back. I calculate the fuel remaining on arrival at only 1.5T - a tiny margin of error. But I'm pretty good with numbers. Fuel light bingo it is…

    So I have the ship, and the route. They say it's better to be lucky than good; I'll need to be both.

    The elephant in the room is that AA-A h4 has no neutron star to send me home.

    The only way this doesn't become a one-way trip is for me to pull off the risky double neutron supercharge technique - engage hyperdrive within the neutron jet and hope that another boost is acquired in the 4 second countdown. I make for a nearby neutron star to practice. Sometimes I make a complete hash of the approach, but get lucky; other times, I execute the manoeuvre perfectly and nothing. I estimate my chance of success at less than half.

    But I already know I’m going.

    If I don't, someone else will claim the record for themselves. I couldn't live with the shame, knowing it could have been me except I wasn't brave enough to try.

    I don't bother to scan anything on my way back down. I'm pretty sure I'm not coming back. At ZE-A g15 my jump range is exactly as predicted, so at least my fuel calculations look right. Maybe I’ll even get far enough for that to matter. The 20,000LS cruise to the neutron star gives me more contemplation time than I really want. On arrival I supercharge before coming around for the jump to AA-A h4, tucking in as close as I dare to the star’s exclusion zone right next to the root of the jet. I need to be inside it for the entire countdown to maximise my chance of getting that vital second supercharge.

    Days of preparation, and an 18,000LY round trip have brought me to this moment. Now I have one chance. Everything will come down to those 4 seconds.

    <Frame shift drive charging>

    I crack the throttle open slightly - I have to enter the jet slowly or I will cross it too fast. The hum of the engines rises to a peak.

    <Ready to engage>

    The HUD prompts me to throttle up. Not yet.

    The steady drone of the engines and the whirling of the jet are almost hypnotic. My hand rests on the throttle - one twitch will send me hurtling into the abyss. Not yet.

    The jet looms ever closer before me, sweeping a huge blue arc across the canopy and filling my view.

    Not yet.

    The suspense is shattered by the FSD safety alarm. I enter the jet cone and slam the throttle to the stops.

    <Four>

    I am committed - there is no backing out. My eyes fix on the notifications panel, looking for acquisition of the second supercharge.

    <Three>

    Shards of light streak past as the hyperspace conduit forms in front of the ship. I ignore the safety warning glaring at me from the centre of the HUD. One way or another, it doesn't matter.

    <Two>

    Endurance accelerates across the jet cone and to starboard I see the haunting dark hollow at its centre. The notifications panel remains resolutely blank.

    <One>

    Still nothing. The countdown reaches zero; game over, I've had it. I see the conduit clearly against the blackness of the intergalactic void. Witchspace beckons to me.

    <Engage>

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmBqCkxQW6o

    I guess I won't be-

    <Frame shift drive supercharged>

    I punch the air in exaltation. Endurance launches herself across the vast interstellar distance, carrying the second boost needed for the homeward journey.

    And then I am there.

    https://i.imgur.com/dx1Dzflh.png


    The swirling lights of witchspace are replaced by the blue-purple hue of a Wolf-Rayet O-class star, and…nothing. Beyond here lies only emptiness. Manoeuvring clear, I scan the system and stare into the endless expanse, at once both serene and terrifying. Really the view is not so different from ZE-A g15, but my sense of solitude is so much greater. Here I am on the edge of infinity - the furthest from the galactic plane in either direction that anyone has ever been. Probably the most remote place visited as well at 274LY from anywhere. I drop from supercruise and gaze back at the Milky Way, relaxing for the first time since charting the system several days ago.

    https://i.imgur.com/LQjh7Yuh.png

    But the job is only half done. I visit both stars and the single planetary body, then leave with just as much fuel as I can carry. The binary stars vanish astern as I once more traverse the huge 274LY jump. I clear the black hole and hurry to the nearer of its two neutron stars. The trip is only 600LS, but still I’m watching my fuel gauge with trepidation. I supercharge and set course for ZE-A g0; I'm sure I don't have enough. Expecting nothing but an error message, I hit the hyperspace button one last time.

    <Frame shift drive charging>

    https://i.imgur.com/8MctNrUh.png

    Turns out there is a tiny sliver of fuel remaining. Yeah, about 1.5T I reckon.

    https://i.imgur.com/A3pJTP6h.png


    I skip the usual post-jump turn and plunge straight toward the fiery blue corona. I have never flown an Anaconda with as little fuel onboard as I have now.

    Finally I hear the fuel scoop starting up.

    Never any doubt…

    The barkeep leans back to reach his terminal. I place my wallet on the counter. He pulls up Universal Cartographics, still regarding me suspiciously. Slowly he turns to look at me for a few seconds, before his gaze moves on to the dusty old bottle. He places it on the bar and breaks open the seal. “On the house, Commander.”

    https://i.imgur.com/SNszWtdh.png

    ---

    Further references:

    EDSM entry: https://www.edsm.net/en/system/id/15...Flyuae+AA-A+h4

    Forum discussion: https://forums.frontier.co.uk/showth...+lowest+system

    That is certainly some fine flying and even finer story telling. +1

  3. #153
    Many thanks for the feedback, it's much appreciated!

    I didn't have time to finish the map yesterday so here it is. Distances look a little distorted as it was the only way I could get all the stars in the shot.

    The voyage of the Endurance, 9 September 3303


    I would say that you could try and repeat the journey, except that post-2.4 it seems that double neutron boosting has been nerfed. So I'd like to implore Frontier to restore it to the game somehow! Perhaps there could be a new module that enables it, or an engineering experimental effect for FSD upgrades. I know it wasn't 'working as intended', but it was hardly a terrible exploit - it didn't give an unfair advantage in combat, or yield a ridiculous sum of credits in a very short space of time. What it did do was allow for some epic adventures - I know many other Commanders used it to reach some special places from which there would otherwise have been no return.

    Clearly I am biased here as without it my voyage would have been impossible. But I feel it is a shame that future explorers can't experience the thrill of pushing the boundaries in that way - being able to risk everything for the chance to get to somewhere amazing, tag it and come back with their own great story to tell.

  4. #154

    Thanks!

    Originally Posted by drew View Post (Source)
    Folks,

    Not wanting to teach anyone to suck eggs, but a few tips to make sure you have the best chance with your stories. No hard and fast rules, so choose to use or not, but might be helpful for those who don't have too much experience writing a story.

    The basics, get these right:

    • Spell Check.
    • Grammar Check.
    • Look for repetitions of words across consecutive sentences.
    • Remove adverbs (mostly words ending in ly) you almost certainly don't need any of them.
    • Use punctuation properly. Don't use more than one ! per 1000 words. Use commas and fullstops.
    • Dialogue needs a new line whenever someone speaks. Don't leave it inside the rest of the text.
    • Break paragraphs up. Avoid "Wall of text". If your story looks hard to read you've already lowered your chances.
    • When you have finished your first draft you are almost precisely 50% of the way through the task. Now go back and edit. Every. Word.


    Things to watch for:

    • Said is fine in dialogue. Don't whisper, expectorate, opin, remark, comment, yell, shout etc. unless you really need to. Make the dialogue the focus. If there are only two people you can get away without 'said' at all as long as you're clear who started talking first.
    • Choose a tense and stick to it. I advise the past tense unless you know what you're doing.
    • Viewpoint. Decide who is telling your story - Omniscient narrator? Character? First Person? If it's a character/first person make sure you don't describe something they can't see/feel/hear. Don't swap viewpoints without a good reason.
    • "Show don't Tell" - An old chestnut, but a good one. There's a massive difference between telling the reader somebody is scared and describing their physiological reaction to fear. Let the reader decide what the character is experiencing - don't tell them.
    • Don't explain the tech. Whatever cool stuff they have in 3304, it's just the tools of the day. Characters will just use it without thinking about it.
    • Don't over do the description. You haven't got the word count anyway, and we all know what Elite Dangerous is like. Set the scene and move on to the action.


    Things to do:

    • Story telling is all about catching attention, maybe putting in a twist, having interesting characters and situations. Whatever you're planning... cut to the chase.
    • If you write dialogue, read it out loud. If it sounds crass, it is.
    • Read your work out loud in total. If you run out of breath, you don't have enough punctuation.
    • Get someone else who isn't related to you to give it a read. Listen to what they say about it.
    • Write it, edit it, leave it alone for a bit and then re-read it and edit it again. Keep tweaking it. When you're utterly fed up with the thing, you're done.


    Examples:

    Good - "Raise the damn shields!"
    Bad - "Raise the shields!" he yelled, loudly.

    Good - Larry felt his stomach clench as the magnitude of what he'd done became clear.
    Bad - Larry was feeling quite upset about what he'd just done.

    Good - Laser fire struck the beleaguered vessel, shattering its hull.
    Bad - The pulsed field emitter charged and emitted a stream of coherent radiation that spread through the void of space before irradiating the ship's hull and exceeded its thermal dissipation capability.

    Good luck!

    Cheers,

    Drew.
    Excellent advice. I'm saving this for general writing use as I'm not sure I'm going to make the deadline. Real world shizzle sucks!

  5. #155
    Excuse the off-topic nature of this but ...

    Originally Posted by JonathanBurnage View Post (Source)
    Many thanks for the feedback, it's much appreciated!

    I didn't have time to finish the map yesterday so here it is. Distances look a little distorted as it was the only way I could get all the stars in the shot.

    The voyage of the Endurance, 9 September 3303
    https://i.imgur.com/0MqJB9x.png

    I would say that you could try and repeat the journey, except that post-2.4 it seems that double neutron boosting has been nerfed. So I'd like to implore Frontier to restore it to the game somehow! Perhaps there could be a new module that enables it, or an engineering experimental effect for FSD upgrades. I know it wasn't 'working as intended', but it was hardly a terrible exploit - it didn't give an unfair advantage in combat, or yield a ridiculous sum of credits in a very short space of time. What it did do was allow for some epic adventures - I know many other Commanders used it to reach some special places from which there would otherwise have been no return.

    Clearly I am biased here as without it my voyage would have been impossible. But I feel it is a shame that future explorers can't experience the thrill of pushing the boundaries in that way - being able to risk everything for the chance to get to somewhere amazing, tag it and come back with their own great story to tell.
    When did 2.4 drop?

    The reason I ask is that we did a Buckyball Race in July called "Double Action Jackson" which made heavy use of Neutron jumps and several of the competitors succesfully used double boosting during the race to improve their times.

    https://forums.frontier.co.uk/showth...03-09-07-3303)

  6. #156
    Originally Posted by JonathanBurnage View Post (Source)
    I feel it is a shame that future explorers can't experience the thrill of pushing the boundaries in that way - being able to risk everything for the chance to get to somewhere amazing, tag it and come back with their own great story to tell.
    Not to mention that all-or-nothing, do-or-die feeling. It was the ultimate risk an explorer can face.

    Great story. Even though I knew you made it (or there'd be no story) my heart was in my mouth, both reading it, and again watching the video.

  7. #157
    Originally Posted by Alec Turner View Post (Source)

    When did 2.4 drop?
    26 September, so after your race. I have not tried double neutron boosting myself since 2.4, but I have read several posts by people claiming they have tried repeatedly and never succeeded.


  8. #158
    @Dale Emasiri Do we just add the submission just pasted in an email or a text document as an attachment?

  9. #159
    I sent mine as an attachment and got confirmation that it had been received.

  10. #160
    Just submitted mine, just a shade under 2k words if you exclude the chorus of "Donald where's your Remlock" which was tacked on beneath the story and forgot the delete before I posted it.

  11. #161

    Discordia 7 - By CMDR Shekhinah

    Wanted to share my entry with yall. Hope you like it!

    https://drive.google.com/open?id=1l2...nmIzLNrqSD8XZd

    Let me know if I should share it in a better way ... because if you don't have a Google account (for some reason ) then you can't open the shared link.

  12. #162
    Originally Posted by TheGrudge View Post (Source)
    Here goes nothing

    ---------------------------
    One of the best parts of having submitted my story is finally reading through all of the other stories here. Love this one, The Grudge!

  13. #163
    A Heartbeat Away - By CMDR Campbell-Clelland

    Some great stories shared here so far.
    Here's my first-time effort - https://drive.google.com/file/d/1nLF...ew?usp=sharing
    Enjoy, hopefully...

  14. #164

    Elite Dangerous Novella Contest: "Like Father, Like Son."

    Like Father, Like Son.

    (Parts of this are a true story.)

    My family’s rags-to-riches story began 1300 years ago when one of my ancestors, by all accounts an under-achieving young man, took 10,000 Bitcoins – which you now know as Galactic Credits but which at the time were a little understood, nearly worthless, experimental digital currency – in payment for a pair of pizzas. Upon returning to the restaurant, my impoverished great-to-the-Nth-grandpa had to pay for the pizzas out of his own pocket. He was then fired for accepting “fake money.”

    The story goes that Great Grandpa Joe stuck that Bitcoin transfer info into a drawer because he had no idea how to spend it. Twenty years later, he found it. Bitcoin value had grown to what would now be about two hundred million Galactic credits.

    Under achiever he might once have been, but after that he and several dozen subsequent generations managed to multiply that wealth several thousand times.
    So much for that old saying is that new wealth disappears in three generations.

    Our family grew that fortune for fifty straight generations.
    Unfortunately, I’m in the fifty-first.

    Around my sixth birthday, my father – who filled that role by paying for my boarding school tuition and ensuring I had a nanny around when not in school – chose to fulfill his lifelong ambition of becoming the twelfth Major Power in the galaxy.

    He would do this, he decided, by exploiting the Trappist-1 system.

    I remember him telling me about his grand plan. It was one of our few parent-child meetings. “The Trappist-1 system,” he lectured, unblinking fervor in his eyes, “was the very first, multi-planet, extra-solar system with at least one earthlike world ever discovered from Earth. It played a catalyzing role in mankind’s race to the stars.

    “It’s a system that deserves an ongoing, prominent role in history.”

    Once started he was like a runaway thruster. His Trappist-1 system would become a shining beacon among the core systems. That’s how he referred to it: “His Trappist-1 system.” He would create a destination to fire the imagination.

    I don’t think it ever occurred to him to ask why a system smack in the middle Zachary Hudson’s sphere of systems remained unsettled. Perhaps it didn’t matter. Dad was the kind of man who couldn’t be bothered to look before he leapt.

    But somehow he found investors to augment his own inherited wealth. Lots of them. He put together engineers to do the impossible: Create an armada of mega-ships that would frame shift several entire orbitals through the interstellar vastness, then tow them into place upon arrival. There would be no slow station building in Dad’s plan. He would spend whatever it took to produce a thriving system in one fell swoop. His Trappist-1 would go from empty vacuum to shining destination almost overnight.

    He and his fleet set out for Trappist-1 on my thirteenth birthday.

    I remember that my “present” from him on that day was a ticket for future passage to His Trappist-1 system, along with a mock deed to my own spacious, windowed, permanent residence in a prime suite in the best orbital. He was, he’d said, giving me the best flat in the house.

    It was, of course, on an orbital that did not yet exist as advertised.

    My dad was all about the future. The past was boring and the present was just a stepping stone toward more exciting things.

    There were over one hundred ships in Dad’s fleet. He spent every credit of our unimaginable family fortune putting his venture together. He kept back just enough to cover my remaining years of boarding school.

    You have to spend money to make money, he said.
    The plan, he said, was for me to join him the day after I finished my graduation celebrations.
    I renewed my long-time vow that I’d never become like him.
    I may not have had much drive in those days, but I had no shortage of teenage angst.

    Neither he nor any single ship nor person in that armada was ever seen again.
    No distress beacons were ever found. No escape pods or signal sources. No abandoned cargo. No debris.
    And sure as hell there’s no thriving enterprise populating the Trappist-1 system. Aside from some reclusive miners, it’s still as empty as the eon it was formed.
    Every credit of our family fortune disappeared into the black.
    Thanks, Dad.

    That’s how I, the only son of one of the richest men in the galaxy, started my adult life in one of those cheap-, thirty-two thousand credit flying deathtraps that Faulcon DeLacy markets cunningly as a “Sidewinder.” It’s the ship they make so cheaply that FD literally gives them away. If you believe their adverts, they’re just doing their benevolent part to support the Galactic Universal Basic Income (or UBI) project.

    Apparently, a sidewinder was a deadly little creature you could find back in the Sol system, once upon a time. A wiki entry on the GalWeb says it struck terror into the hearts of all who encountered it.

    Today, the only people terrified of Sidewinders are those who have to climb into one to make a living.

    Most of those who decide to try their luck as independent pilots die.

    I managed to be one of the lucky ones. I survived long enough as a data jockey to trade in my leaky Sidewinder for a nearly new Lakon Spaceways “Asp Explorer” capable of taking rich celebrities on interstellar sight-seeing tours. Basically, I’d graduated to being a tour bus driver to the stars (see what I did there?).

    It wasn’t much of a business, but it was mine. I owed no one and reported only to myself.
    Well, myself and my fares.

    Turns out that while you’re a lowly data jockey, you can pretend mistakes didn’t happen, because nobody else is there to see them. It’s a wrench-dropped-in-a-vacuum kind of thing. When you have passengers, that’s not necessarily the case. Especially when they won’t stay back in their part of the ship.

    We’re about 2000ly from the Rhea system, where my fares booked me. We’re about a week into the trip. A tapping on my cockpit door intruded on the delicious solitude of interstellar exploring.
    After several days of being cooped up in the little passenger cabin I provide, one of my passengers has begun to get tired of her traveling companions. Her solution has become to visit my part of the ship. When she does, we each pretend not to notice how differently each of our spaces have begun to smell.

    Despite all the dry baths you take, there's only so much the air scrubbers can do.

    She goes through her (now) daily "How's it going?" and "Where are we?” pleasantries, then she gets the obligatory, "Are we there yet?" whine out of the way. I give her my polite "Ha ha never heard that one before" chuckle in reply. Then she notices that I've left my pilot binder lying open to the page where I've printed out the route I found from the Galactic Internet page I referenced before accepting her fare.

    She looks at me. She looks at the binder. She looks out the window at the endless expanse of stars.

    Before I can stop her, she reaches past my shoulder and toggles my cockpit's left display over to the galaxy map. It shows that, yep, I do indeed have a course plotted. I raise my eyebrow at her, my expression like "Duh." What does she think – that I’ve just headed out blindly on a 6000ly sightseeing trip?

    She looks again at the printed route notes, with their eight 1000ly legs.

    "You've never done this before, have you?" she asks. That last time a girl asked me that, it didn’t end well …just quickly.

    "I've made hundreds of jumps," I protest. "Hundreds more just on this trip alone. The next four hundred or so will be more of the same. It’s not rocket science. I got this."

    She nods. "Uh huh." She points to the bottom line in my binder. Do you know why this last line, clearly printed from a GalWeb page, is red? And can you tell me why that "last jump" annotation on the ninth line says 1847 light years? What exactly is our max jump range in this rattle trap?"

    I let the slight to my ship slide as I scratch my head. "A little over 29ly," I mumble.

    "Did you even try to plot this using the ship’s route planner?"

    "Well, duh," I said. "You can't. Ship systems can only plot out to a max of 1K. That’s why you have to use the GalWeb route planning web page."

    Her face went slack. "Show me your map screen.".

    I did. "See?" I pointed to the line on the screen where it displayed the system’s 1000ly limitation. It was right next to a UI element that said "Most cost effective route."

    She reached over my shoulder and selected an adjacent setting. It changed the selection to "Fastest Route." Next to that were a few words I'd never noticed before. "Max range, 20K ly." Turns out there are some things they don’t cover during your three days of flight training before you get your Sidewinder. Things not necessary for data courier missions.

    "Try now," she said, her tone patient, like she was talking to a chimpanzee (not that they exist anymore, but if you've ever known a woman who had to give you directions for something you should have already known how to do, you know the tone).

    I rolled my eyes and commanded the planner to recalculate my flight, now using the new setting.
    "Route failed," said the screen. Oh, crap.
    "You know why it's failing?" My fare lady asked, one eyebrow arched.

    I slump my shoulders. "Because either that last 1812 light years cannot be bridged with my ship’s jump range or the distance between refueling, scoopable stars is too far given our fuel capacity."

    She looks as me with pity. She looks out the view screen and the endless black. She looks around at my claustrophobic cabin. “Do you always leap before you look? That’s a dangerous trait for a pilot.”

    I’m speechless. Holy crap, I realize. I do. It’s what makes life fun.

    She interrupts my revelation. "Have you ever heard of engineers?"

    I scowl. Engineers are tinkerers who mod perfectly good equipment to squeeze out extra performance the original manufacturer didn’t intend.
    My Dad used engineers.

    "I'll introduce you. If you want to survive out in the black, you’re going to need them. I know of a couple that could tweak this bucket into managing 50K jumps."

    Oh, I think. "Where?"

    She points wryly back in the direction from which we'd come. "How far have we come so far?"

    "About two thousand light years," I mumble.

    "Then they’re about two thousand light years back the way we came." She takes over the galactic mapping screen and plots a new route. "If you’d gone here first, you’d actually be able to take me to the destination I booked.”

    I squint at her. I check the calendar. Hell, we have LOTS of time left. I smile. Perhaps this isn't a disaster! "I'll reverse course, upgrade my drive. That won't take long. Then we can head back out!" I grin. “You gave me weeks to get you there and back. No harm, no foul!” No refund! "Yeah?"

    "Oh, hell no," she replies. "I'm bailing in the first civilized system reach. Interstellar exploration isn’t for starry-eyed ninnies! It’s dangerous! Just get me and my friends back in one piece, numb nuts!"

    You're not supposed to slam cabin doors on these ships. It's protocol. Especially if you're just a passenger.

    But she did, anyway.

    I rotated the ship. "Frameshift Drive charging," the ship's ing Betty whined, for about the two hundredth time. Straightening in my chair, I engaged the FSD.

    Homeward bound.

    I had engineers to visit. And maybe an armada to find. And a system to exploit.

  15. #165
    Just submitted mine 2 minutes before the dealine via E-Mail, after starting to write it just 4 hours before the deadline, well I hope it's not too bad. There will be some mispelling and typos since I didn't have time to really proofread- but I hope some of you enjoy my last minute story

    Elite: Dangerous
    Commander's Log
    Beginnings Novel
    [Log Entry #1]

    Today I'm very excited! Today is the day I got my very first, own starship.
    It's a Cobra MKIII, everything is stock, except for an Onionhead paintjob with decals.

    I bought it from an older man living on Mars, it was probably his son's or something.
    He seemed to be happy to have "finally sold it". I just had it checked at the Mars Security Office,
    they said that everything was done according to law and that the paperwork checked out.

    So here I am. Commander of my very own ship.
    The "Comba Cobra".

    The only Problem now is to get a Job.

    [Log End #1]
    -
    [Log Entry #2]

    A friend at the Federal Navy Public Service Office helped me to get a service contract in the Navy Auxiliary.

    It's a simple Job; Haul 100 small crates from a navy depot on Mars to a medium operations platform in close orbit around earth once a week for 100.000cr per run.
    And since I was in the Federal Navy as a pilot I don't have to learn any new protocols.
    But the best thing is that I can use a navy priority corridor, so I don't have to float in the mess that is mars air and space traffick.

    [Log End #2]
    -
    [Log Entry #3]

    Wow.
    I'm baffled by what happend to me today. I didn't think that after what happend to me the last few weeks, that I can be- so happy by just meeting one person.

    The day started pretty normal, I went to Mars, landed at the depot, filled the paper work and left an hour later with the crates.
    After ten minutes I arrived at the operations platform and to my surprise someone with a friendly, calm and young male sounding voice greeted me on comms.

    "Greetings Commander, you are on time and clear for approach. Please note that you are not allowed to land on the hull of this platform and therefore need to position your ship on the marked side of the platform, facing away from the planet."

    As I flew towards the marked area I noticed that the platform had what appeared to be multiple landing zones on its left hull, judging by the size of them they seemed to be for smaller craft but big enough for a Cobra nonetheless.
    But probably just for a wing of Condors or something.

    As I was in position the voice said:

    "Thank you Commander, unfortunately our small cargo limpets are defect and I'm the only one on this platform. I would really appreciate it if you could help me transferring the cargo onto the platform."

    I agreed, put my EVA gear and helmet on, depressurized the ship and opened the main airlock in the back.

    At the same time an airlock opened on the platform and someone with a standard navy EVA suite came out and greeted me by waving his arm.
    We established communication between our suites and he came over to help me unload the crates.
    The glass on his helmet was black, so I couldn't see his face.
    But that was probably a good thing or I would have probably been distracted the whole time.

    It took us about 3hours and 41minutes to transfer all of the crates and to store them in 0g.
    During the time we both didn't talk that much besides some "over here" and "that way".

    Afterwards he invited me into the pressurized living quarter's section of the platform to fill out the paperwork and to thank me for my help.
    I accepted since it was already a long day and It was a nice idea to breathe some -hopefully- clean air.

    I followed him and immediatly took off my helmet once we were in the pressurized part of the platform. He however kept his on- and did go to the above deck.
    I enjoyed the air for a few more seconds and then followed him.

    As I moved upwards through the hole in the floor, I saw him taking of his helmet and the second he looked at me, I was completely blown away by what I saw.

    I tried to speak but couldn't say a thing. I tried to move but my entire body was frozen.
    I probably looked like a complete idiot, just staring at him.

    And he just smiled, turned away and walked with his mag-boots towards the table on the other side of the room.
    2 seconds later I was able to move again, I turned my boots on and walked towards him, thinking about how embarassing that moment was, shaking.
    He then turned around, looked at me and asked me with a smile:

    "Are you okay?"

    "Yes, I- I- I just... ähm, how are you?" I replied.

    "Im fine, how about you?" he said.

    "Yes, I'm- I'm okay." I said, trying hard to speak clearly.

    I was completely overwehlmed by my feelings, I was nervous as and full of joy as I was never before, I- tried to act normal but for some reason couldn't.

    Just looking at his face made me feel weird but happy, nervous and all of that at the same time was just... amazing.

    We then sat down and started to talk a bit while he was filling out the paper work;

    "Why are you so nervous, are you sure everything is okay?"

    "Yes, I- I just..." I tried to speak but couldn't, as if something was blocking my throat.

    "Is it because of me?" he said while finishing the sentence with a smile.

    "Ähhhh. I really- I think you... äh look, look... good" I said while trying to concentrate as best as I could.

    He seemed amused, smiled and said:
    "Well if it is like that, we can maybe meet another time. Are you coming next week too?"

    My heart stood still and I cought upon hearing his words, breathing a bit heavier afterwards.
    But for some reason I felt reliefed and with far more confidence but still nervous I said:

    "Sure, I come here every week for the next six. We can meet if you'd like."

    "Great! I'm looking forward to it. See you next week."
    While saying that he gave me the finished paperwork and I tried, as best as I could, to get to my ship and leave.


    I guess I'm, for the first time in my life, in love with someone... It feels great but... uncertain.

    [Log End #3]
    -
    [Log Entry #4]

    It's been two days now since I met him. And I just can't sleep or do anything without thinking about him.
    His voice, his white hair and skin and his crimson eyes that together give him such a beautiful and amazing face. But I can't help but to think about; what if I only love him for his looks and not for who he might be.
    Would I feel the same if he had average pigmentation?

    I guess its wait and see now.

    [Log End #4]
    -
    [Log Entry #5]

    A week has passed, I met him again and I have to say: Im conflicted.

    I picked up the stuff from Mars, went to the platform and got directed to the station by a different voice this time.
    I wondered has he been stationed somewhere else?
    During my approach I saw that on the landing zones 3 Condors were parked. So he probably had to do something else.

    The voice ordered me to open the cargo hatch and to wait for the small limpets to do their job.
    I acknowledged and waited.
    After just 10 minutes the limpets were done, shortly after the voice said:

    "Thank you for your cooperation, please open your main airlock to recieve your passenger."

    I was surprised since there was no mention of any passengers in the mission description.

    I followed the order and waited in anticipation on the other side of the airlock for the passenger.
    As I had hoped, It turned out that he was the passenger. He greeted me friendly after removing his helmet and I welcomed him very happely on my ship.

    "Where do you need to go?" I asked.

    And he replied:

    "Wherever you like to go, afterall this is pretty much our first date." He smiled and headed for the cockpit leaving me baffled at the airlock.

    I was amazingly happy after he said that "our first date". That means that he also has feelings for me.

    Eventually we decided to visit Héng Shān in the north of the Chinese Region. We mostly walked and talked. He told me things about him and I told him things about me. At one point we talked about my past in the Federal Navy and why I left after just a year.
    I told him that I left because I felt betrayed after it turned out that my commander was involved in bribery and other faces of corruption. After all he was one of thousands of officers in Sol that where involved in such crimes.

    But then he told me that he really loves me and that he thinks that we should share our lives with each other but that would only be possible if I would be to join the Federal Navy again.

    A said that the chances are small that I will be assigned to the same station or ship as him and he just replied with;

    "Don't worry, my mother has some influence in the Federal Navy, she'll get us two together."

    As he said that my love for him at that moment weakend. And was replaced with anger and sadness. I got this once in a livetime chance to be together with the one person that I truly love and that would only be possible by being involved in the one thing that is tearing the Federation apart; Corruption.
    One of the things I hate since it costs many lives just because some people want to have it easy.

    After that I we got pack to the ship and I brought him back to the platform.


    And now I need to make one of the biggest decisions in my live.

    Do I sacrifice my true and only love for my personal fight against corruption or do I look away just this one time?

    [Log End #5]


    Edit:
    I just read it again and its... bad. Maybe nexte time I should write with more than 4hours left to a deadline.
    If someone who read it would like to give me some feedback, please send me a PM on the forums.
    I will rewrite the story, mak it longer and in a few weeks will post the new version in the RP version of the Forum, nonetheless I hoped some of you did enjoy reading the story.


    Also good luck to the others that their story may win!

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