It’s now been 10 months since I launched from Lave Station, and I’m finally back in the bubble of inhabited space and a bit richer than when I left. Having made it to Sagittarius A*, I kept on exploring a bit further out before doubling back and slowly getting back. Then, some time late october, the boredom hit and I went on a break from Elite, only coming back for a few hundreds of light-years every now and then. 7 months later, I felt like it was time to get back and finish what I started and finally get to explore planetary surfaces. Here I was, about 21k LYs away from human space, and I was going to make it back, and do it quick. It wasn’t the greatest part of the trip for sightseeing as I didn’t go out of my way much for picturesque settings, but a few more undiscovered Earth-like worlds were scanned in addition to the neutron stars that paved my way home.
Then, with about 8k LYs left to cover, the news came that the Terry Port station in the Garoku system was going to pay extra for the delivery of exploration logs. That was my cue for an extra push, and two days later I was staring at the mailslot entrance of Terry Port while listening to the (new to me) chatter of the traffic control channel.
Now, docking has never bothered me, but having survived my way across around 3000 hyperspace jumps and collected a fortune in data, I was a bit stressed during the entry. Thankfully, my luck held, and just as no madman had ambushed me on my way back to the bubble, there was no large ship racing through the mailslot as I made my way in slowly. I was soon in sight of my assigned landing pad.
And finally, here I was, safely landed. Back from the core 10 months after I left. After a major sigh of relief, it was time for the rest of the formalities. Having left the ship for some badly needed servicing, I registered to the local exploration data Community Goal before starting to sell my data. A little while and many ‘first to discover’ notices later, and my final tally was about 68m credits which will be more than enough for a good while. Among other things, that was 137 water worlds, 7 ammonia-based life worlds, 10 Earth-like worlds, 80 other colonisation candidate planets, 20 black holes, 247 neutron stars, 3 carbon stars and 1 Wolf-Rayet star. My explorer rank has now soared up to Pioneer, and a current Top 10 rank places me in line for at least 6m credits more from the Community Goal.
Job done. I could now relax and smile at the idea that I had done it: to Sagittarius A* and back in my little Cobra MkIII. The pressure of the fragile valuable data was gone and I could now go fooling around carelessly again. First things first: the ship got well deserved brand new coat of paint, with the Pioneer exploring rank badge sitting prominently at the front.
Then, I got rid of the automated repair unit which saved my bacon a few times out in the black, to make room for a surface vehicle bay. Not long after, I was driving on the barren surface of a random frozen rocky planet, basking in the view of distant sources. There’s plenty more to see, and though I need a break, I know I’ll be back out some day…