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Thread: The Trans-Polar Beagle Point 2 Expedition

  1. #1

    The Trans-Polar Beagle Point 2 Expedition

    The Trans-Polar Beagle Point 2 Expedition


    Archameus Solofernes, Historian and Cartographer

    Published in the intratext archives of the Imperial Compendium, 3315

    On May 23rd, 3302, Commander Felix Macedonica brought the 'Apostata III' to land upon Beagle Point 2. This planet is justly famous across inhabited space for its location over 65, 000 light years from Sol. On board the Commander's Lakon Type 6E were 2 Scarab SRVs - the 'Dudley Docker' and the 'James Caird'. Felix Macedonica had named these light surface vehicles after 2 of the 3 rowboats used by Ernest Shackleton in his ill-fated Antarctic expedition in the early 20th century.

    The Commander's aim was simple: to establish an initial base-camp, Camp Salomon, at the pole of Beagle Point 2 and then over the following weeks navigate and map the planet's main geographical features while driving along a designated longitudinal line to the opposite pole. At the end of each day's driving and charting, the Commander would establish a new base-camp with the recalled 'Apostata III' from low orbit. This would allow him to repair the SRVs and recover from exposure due to the unremitting radiation and deep cold of the planet's surface environment.

    Beagle Point 2 is a small high-metal content world utterly characteristic of its type. It offers no remarkable differences to thousands upon thousands of others of its type across the known galaxy. Its main features comprise of blasted plains exposed to harsh extremes of heat and cold; variegated impact craters; isolated ridges and small volcanic ranges; and labyrinthine fissures riddled with canyons and sudden drops. It is a barren planet but also a famous one. As such, it deserved to be charted as befitted its stature.

    In terms of bare statistics, Beagle Point 2 has a diameter of 2,372KM. The circumference is 7,448KM. A pole to pole expedition undertaken by Commander Macedonica was expected thus to cover approximately 3,742KM not taking into account terrain extremes and other hazards. Given the Scarab's limited functionality as a long-distance expedition vehicle, it was questioned at the time whether he was undertaking more than was feasible. His reply, as recorded by various Commanders at Beagle Point 2, was nothing more than a shrug and a slight, almost-embarrassed, smile.

    On Monday, 30th May, 3302, Commander Felix Macedonica, sole pilot of the 'Apostata III' made landfall at Camp Salomon. What follows is the story of his expedition taken from extracts from his main log and the few other contemporaneous records which have survived. It is to be questioned why such a small and insignificant journey is archived at all in the Imperial Compendium. Certainly, no medals or awards were won. This Commander blazed no new trail which inspired others to follow. His trek while arduous and lengthy entailed no great challenge per se. The answer which is offered is a simple one and the clue to it lies in his naming of the original Base Camp.

    Augustus Salomon was a doomed Arctic explorer who attempted with 2 companions to sail a hot air balloon over the North Pole of Sol in the year 1897. The attempt failed and was celebrated as one of a number of romantic but fatal polar expeditions in the 19th century. What few historians realise however is that the world at that time was enamoured by the 'hollow earth' theory which argued that the earth was indeed hollow and that an entrance into this inner sphere lay precisely at the North Pole. Augustus Salomon and his two companions, among their expedition equipment took three tuxedo suits and a bottle of champagne - in case they found that entrance and met the King of the Hyperborean realm . . .

    Perhaps Commander Felix Macedonica sought to pay homage to madness and ingenuity. Nothing more. Perhaps in the vulnerability of the Scarab he saw an echo of the Eagle, the balloon, which carried all 3 to their inevitable deaths. And perhaps this Commander sought merely to ponder fate while driving across a blasted landscape and looking out through the plexiglass canopy . . .

    And as for these archives, should they not also record the small steps as well as the larger ones?

    Inflight Journal, May 28th, 3302, recording:

    . . . First approach to Base Camp Salomon is a bleak affair indeed. My decision to establish footfall here at the antipodean pole was rash and ill-thought out, to be honest. The landscape is clothed in darkness now and unremitting. The onboard navicomp is glitching and the longitude and latitude readings are veering all over the place. I tried twice bunny-hopping into low orbit to get a fix and dropped back out of supercruise at new co-ordinates which made no sense. Screw the onboard navicomp. I will do this the old-fashioned way. The System Map is plotting my rough position. I can then use the Scarab's onboard holo-compass to zone in on the polar centre. I will just have to navigate using land features and the star maps above. What was it my father taught me? Remember, there are always 3 poles - the magnetic, the grid and the true. I wonder which one Base Camp Salomon will end up at?

    Commander Hastion approached me the other day and wondered at my suggestion of mounting a trans-polar expedition.

    "In an SRV?" he laughed.

    I didn't reply. He wouldn't understand. I have sat in a cockpit staring at witchspace and distant worlds since January and leaving Palleani. Now I can hear the crunch of gravel and volcanic rock under my tread. Feel gravity in my bones. Step out onto a distant shore and reach down to run its dirt through my fingers. What else could I do after all that effort to get here?

    The more I tinker with the SRVs, the more I think the 'Dudley Docker' will be the main beast of burden. Both Scarabs are identical but each has little quirks and foibles. The 'Dudley Docker' is quiet and reliable whereas the 'James Caird' rattles like a Type 9 breaking out of FSD. There IS power in that SRV but it is temperamental with it. It feels good to be on final approach to the antipodean pole now and getting oil and grease on my hands again after so long in deep space . . .

    I wonder if I shall take the Lavian brandy with me? I probably won't meet any underground kings but who knows what other beings might lurk out here?

  2. #2
    Sounds epic, safe travels.

  3. #3
    Who knows indeed. Good luck!

  4. #4
    Thanks - it will be an adventure finding out!

  5. #5
    Can't rep you again yet, but what an adventure

  6. #6
    Love it! If you don't mind some company I'll join you at some point on your mission from time to time. Kamzel is staying at Beagle Point so will be around if you need help with anything o7.

  7. #7
    I would appreciate it - the night is dark and full of terror out here at the bottom of Beagle Point 2 . . . o7

  8. #8
    Originally Posted by Macedonica View Post (Source)
    I would appreciate it - the night is dark and full of terror out here at the bottom of Beagle Point 2 . . . o7

    how long to get there ?

  9. #9
    That's part of the adventure - finding out! Less time than the trip to Beagle Point, I hope. If I survive, that is.

  10. #10

    Inflight Journal, May 28th, 3302, recording:

    My instinct is that the magnetic field about Beagle Point 2 is experiencing minor fluctuations. There is no other way to account for the odd readings the navicomp is giving me regarding latitude and longitude. Either that or I am a lousy pilot - which is always a possibility. Screw it. As I said before, I will rely on the SRV and its holo-compass. This afternoon I drove some 40KM pole-wards using the 0 degree bearing and maintaining a visual lock on a bright star above the horizon which guided me towards where I think the antipodean pole is (as best I can find it). This was old-school exploring - bumping over rough terrain and looking up into the stars for succour. The 'Dudley Docker' coped well over the sustained drive and only took minor damage through bumps and scrapes. This SRV is stolid and reliable.

    I hope to reach Base Camp Salomon later this evening.

    It's odd talking into a mic while trundling over rough, crater-pocked ground and calderic ridges. The stars glitter fitfully overhead and even now as I am narrating this, there is a beauty in them utterly different from the canopy of a ship in supercruise or even low orbit. They appear so far away as I sit here and mouth nonsense - almost as if they are mocking me. Up there, as we blast past them, deep into the galaxy, it is as if WE own them. Play with them. Down here - now - as these wheels grunt over the rocks it is the other way around.

    Down here, the stars own me.

    Perhaps I need this after the DWE and the sheer volume of space I have travelled through. I need to sit and absorb time and space and myself.

    I sit in an SRV at the opposite end of the galaxy and have barely drawn breath since leaving Palleani. Now - now, I am drifting over a barren landscape and the tracks I leave behind will echo for all eternity . . .

    Last night I shared a few memories with fellow DWE pilots and in all the talk and SRV racing, there was a moment when we parked about a large boulder and lit it with our beams. We fell silent for a moment, absorbed in our thoughts, lost in space, and I realised that this was exactly what we were always fated to do: journey far into a distant place and cast what light we have upon it for no other reason than to allow that light to reflect back into our soul-starved faces. We lit a boulder and in doing so illuminated our hearts.

    Am I being maudlin'? Yes, yes, of course I am. Who wouldn't out here on the last rock?

    Although now that I think on that night, I remember Commander Patreceleus sensing something strange in the ambient echoes about us. Something so strange that we powered down our systems and listened into the night. What we heard was Beagle Point 2 itself breathing, resonating, humming, and we all stared out of the canopies and wondered on that sound. I saw one Commander put a gloved hand up against the SRV canopy and hold it there, as if trying to feel that breath. And I wondered if behind that gloved hand lay a smile or a frown . . .

    They say that Felix is an ancient name once used by the Romans. It means felicitous or lucky or graced by the gods. It is a good name. An honoured name. But now as this darkness falls down upon me I do wonder if I am tempting fate by throwing luck into the dark . . .

  11. #11
    Great idea and a fitting tribute to the Dudley Docker.

    A rousing three cheers from the cockpit of The James Caird!

  12. #12
    Originally Posted by Scoopy Doopy View Post (Source)
    Great idea and a fitting tribute to the Dudley Docker.

    A rousing three cheers from the cockpit of The James Caird!
    Why, a fellow Shackleton enthusiast! Thank you for the cheers. I thought about naming the SRVs after Franklin's 'Terror' and 'Erebus' - but that was tempting fate too much . . .

  13. #13
    Originally Posted by Macedonica View Post (Source)
    Why, a fellow Shackleton enthusiast! Thank you for the cheers. I thought about naming the SRV's after Franklin's 'Terror' and 'Erebus' - but that was tempting fate too much . . .
    To read of Shackleton is to become an enthusiast

    Perhaps you could name a couple of the high peaks Terror and Erebus instead. That might be fitting and I believe they are still going strong

    Best of luck again commander.

  14. #14

    Report of the Official Trans Polar Beagle Point 2 Enquiry, September, 3303

    Page 107 onwards

    Official: You met Commander Felix Macedonica for the first time at the Beagle Point DWE landing site, is that correct?

    Hastion: I did, yes. We were onstation to guide new arrivals in and word on the comms was that a Commander was incoming flying a Type 6E. We had had a couple of those old tubs land already but even so, it was best to be prepared.

    Official: Prepared?

    Hastion: What I mean to say is, well, any explorer worth his salt flies an Asp. Oh some of the big cheeses upgrade to the Annie - the Anaconda, that is - but, no, organize a meeting or an RP and I bet your bottom credit, it's all Asps. So when something like the Lakon Type 6E comes in - or maybe a Keelback, or a Type 7, it's best to be on hand.

    Official: But I understood the DWE flagship was a Type 9? Is that correct?

    Hastion: It was, yes. And that was why she was the flagship. She was unusual. We took pride in that, you see?

    Official: And you took pride in Felix Macedonica's Type 6E?

    Hastion: Something like that. Look, you have to understand - at the time, we didn't know him. He was just one of hundreds of pilots inbound to Beagle Point 2. Many didn't make it - they turned back or drifted off on their own journeys - deep space can do that. He was one of the lucky ones. He'd made it. Like I said, word on the fleet comms was that he was inbound and low on jump mats. A few of us were ready if needed. That's all.

    Official: But you weren't needed?

    Hastion: In the end, no. Commander Patreceleus had helped him out mining for mats and then set up a wing signal to guide him in. I didn't meet him until later that evening once he had finished his post-flight checks and ran the generator down into idle.

    Official: So what can you tell me about him?

    Hastion: He was an explorer, like all of us. A solitary.

    Official: A solitary? The DWE fleet ran into hundreds - that's hardly a solitary event, Commander.

    Hastion: You see, that's where you're wrong. Yes, there were hundreds of us - over a thousand in all, I think. But the point is, we didn't travel as a fleet. No, we moved alone or at best in small wings. We only met up at the RPs - and even then many drifted in alone ahead of time or - as in his case after Saggy A - weeks later. We were a fleet only in our imaginations. We traveled as we have always traveled - alone. It is why we push out into the uncharted galaxy. To be alone and pushing at the edge of what lies just beyond - and what lies just within also.

    Official: So he was nothing special? Nothing that happened later on was intimated to you when you met him that first night?

    Hastion: Apart from his mad idea to SRV pole to pole? No - I laughed at that. I think a few of us did, But it wasn't malicious. No it was the laughter of the infected.

    Official: I am sorry - infected, did you say?

    Hastion: Listen, when you are out there and moving at FSD speeds across the bosom of the cosmos, your mind gets twisted a little, you know? You begin to see things differently - from a different perspective. That's when madness creeps in - a mad idea. Like going to Beagle Point - or Saggy A - or charting a distant nebula. You see a glint in the eye and you know a worm has wriggled its way into the mind of the Commander opposite you. And you smile at that madness. You smile because you know there is nothing you can say to change his or her mind. Nothing.

    Official: And knowing now what happened on that transpolar trip, do you regret not saying anything? Anything at all?

    Hastion: . . . Not for a second . . .

  15. #15
    This is going to be a great read

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