Flieger, grüß' mir die Sonne, grüß' mir die Sterne und grüß' mir den Mond. Dein Leben, das ist ein Schweben, durch die Ferne, die keiner bewohnt! - Hans Albers, F.P.1 antwortet nicht (Adaptation in the 80s: Extrabreit)

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Under giant blazing stars

No one can tell me,
Nobody knows,
Where the wind comes from,
Where the wind goes.

It's flying from somewhere
As fast as it can,
I couldn't keep up with it,
Not if I ran.

But if I stopped holding
The string of my kite,
It would blow with the wind
For a day and a night.

And then when I found it,
Wherever it blew,
I should know that the wind
Had been going there too.

So then I could tell them
Where the wind goes;

But where the wind comes from
Nobody knows.  

 - Wind On The Hill, Alexander Milne

20141006-19:17, Hopkins Hanger, Lalande.

I don´t know what it is with me, but once I fired the game up, I just forget about all planning and theorizing which I did so far, and let the string go. This reputation mechanic is still not clear to me, but tonight, I just yearn for some flying, where the cosmic winds are going to blow me, as I am finally at the border, ready to step out of the old beta1 bubble.

I guess it is time to establish some data, if I ever want to get ahead with profits. Those measly 2000 Credits missions do not cut it in the long run. Supply missions are only doable if you know where the supply is. Since missions are on timer, you hardly manage to find and bring back, if you find, the supplies. So I am resolved to write down all supply in a 1-jump range from Lalande. I can then select missions which bring me to every one of those systems so that I do not fly without profit, and top my missions up with fetch-type missions as soon as I located all relevant supply.

Noting down all the systems and system types, there are two agricultural, three refinery, two extraction, one industrial, one high tech system. The missions offered by the bulletin board at Lalande are not completable for me, and again I note those fetch-tea/coffee missions for juicy 13k Credits. Since my theory is that supply opens up with increased reputation, I am pretty sure that one of those two agricultural system will provide me with tea and coffee. So I accept three fetch missions which require overall 14 coffee and 10 tea units.

This theory proves to be wrong in this aspect. Both Naranka (commodity trade only at Hawkin Depot, not at Novitzki Oasis) and Ross 1057 (Wang Estate, no trade again at the far out Curtis Outpost) offer only a slim selection and neither tea or coffee. Hm, how do they survive without? Thus my reputation-theory remeins unproven, or maybe, coffee and tea is just reserved for upper reputation people. In my need I fire up the thought-useless galaxy trade map. There is a stream of coffee a bit around the corner, from out of Tun. Maybe this one time, the galaxy map actually would be correct? Clicking on the intermediary waypoint, the map moves "downwards", and another trade stream becomes visible from out of Eta Cephei. Since the latter is an indepenend system and my reputation should be better with Federal systems, I want to go to Tun. 

To my dismay, I have to discover that the final jump to Tun is too far for my frameshift drive; 13,5 ly, whereas my Cobra can only cover 10,46 ly. Damn. I guess I am lucky that at least Eta Cephei is in range. But I do not have high hopes.

However, Eta Cephei is a huge suprise. First and foremost, the sun. Being used to the typical class G stellar objects with their yellow-orange glow, this sun, labeled as red-orange class K star, is blazing in an incredible mix of orange and blue-white. I did not even know that this combination of colour is possible, but the graphic artists really managed to pull this one of. I am in awe! This is full power flarishness, this is rich, this makes me feel exposed, as potentially irradiated to death and disintegrated the instant my ships shield would fail! Honestly, this is so impressive that the Frontier-spaceships suddenly feel so much inadequate for traveling amongst the stars, like, a fairy-market-scooter on a highway.

Basically, just the view of this solar system captured me enough to forget about all my plans and just want to stay here for a while. Isherwood Station is on a very close orbit around the sun, so that you have to close in very carefully around the star´s perimeter. I cannot help wondering how the station can remain so close without any apparent protection against irradiation and sunstorms? The handwavium of energy-shields, I guess.

At first, the planet which is in such a close orbit looks like a habitable world. How should that be possible, so close to this blinding inferno? Slowly inching closer, fully expecting some kind of warning message and overheating of my ship, the planet turns out to be a barren one; of course, as it should.

The surpises continue. Isherwood Ring has a plentiful supply of everything in agriculture and even some processed metals. And, yay! My pilgrimage has endet! Is has both of coffee and tea! It is indeed a "rich" system. Unfortunately, the mission timers of the according fetch missions are down to about 4 and 8 minutes. No way to get back to Lalande in time. Well, they will pop up again. In fact, what is this? They do pop up right now, on the very same station which sells the supply! I have to ticked this, it can surely not be as intended. Arrr, but not before I serve myself liberally of this unexpected opportunity! After all, my grinding money is not what this game is about for me, so lets better get over with this quickly.

My cash explodes from 350k Credits to 518k Credits before the stream of fetch-coffee/tea quests subsides. The rest is not a fetch-mineral-type quest or a transport/courier quests to Aldebaran. I also had previously bought some 5 performance enhancers, and I could completely sell them out on this mission bulletin here. Eta Cephei proves to be my charm of luck tonight.

I take my time to collect 13 transport and courier missions to Alderamin and take off and don´t even bother to visit all four space stations in this system. I am a bit in a hurry, because I waited some time for the bulletin board to refresh in order to collect more missions to the same location. This makes the timer on the firstly collected missions painfully short. What happens is, on my fast paced exit, I almost collide with an incoming ship. I turn my Cobra vertical in order to pass close by, but the docking entrance is not made to fit vertical Cobras. So my ship gets slammed off course and hammers into the docking wall. Normally not a problem. If I had shields. But I sold them and put an additional cargo rack there. The ship is somehow stuck, rocking back and forth, and my hull degrades painfully with every bang. At 49%, I finally manage to unentangle. Right in time, because the docking timer was to expire four seconds later, which would have prompted the station´s laser cannons to crisp me to space dust.

Alderamin is another suprise. The sun... is almost as awesome as Eta Cephei. In fact, there are three awesome stars in this system. A bit of an unwelcome surprise, though, is the huge distance of Sullivan Station from said star. 169.000 ls! It takes about 15 minutes in supercruise to get there. This is enough to make my first transport missions to already expire. Two more were mere seconds close to expiry as I finally open the bulletin board.Up to 538k Credits.

There is a class E4 frameshift drive. For 536k Credits, wow. I assume my Cobra needs class 4 because it started with one, and I spend some time guessing if the even better rated class 3 drive would fit on a Hauler, but I decide to not risk downgrading to a Hauler, which is also offered for sale here, because then my Cobra would be lost, as it is not offered here. Buying the new frameshift drive feels like a huge step. 2k Credits are left, I suddenly feel very poor! But it is worth it, I guess. After relogging to counter the "mass lock" bug, the display will show me proper roughly 23,15ly/20,09ly jump range. Wonderful, this range with a Cobra is awesome! (It might be lower though once I re-equip weaponry.)

(In hindsight, I am so totally lucky that nothing happened to my ship from then on; with 2k Credits, I wouldn´t have been able to pay the insurance fee to actually replace everything... although I read that apparently you can take now a loan to pay the fee? I am glad I did not need to experience this firsthand!)

Some missions require transport to one of the other two in-system station, Walz Beacon, so I make way there. Also pretty far apart, 3.600 ls. Then I am back to 9k Credits. Walz Beacon´s outfitting menu has some nice gadgets to offer. For example, a 16ton cargo rack; I did not even know more than 8 ton racks existed! No matter, I need more cash to afford any of this. Walz Station´s mission send me right back to Eta Cephai´s Isherwood Ring. Accidentally, I accept a fetch mission for Indite because I believe I saw this at the Sullivan Port. Unfortunately, it was Indium. Damn, can´t the designers think of better discernable names!?  This same mistake happens again once I arrive in Isherwood Ring. I wonder how much negativ reputation I get when I cannot complete a mission; how many sucessful mission´s reputation gain do I effectively undo like this?

A rare occassion of a transport mission with 32 units, for a 50k Credit check send my to Williams City in the same system. I wonder if Williams City this is a backer-generated name? The view from a bit farther out is equally gorgeous:

On my way there, I realize that there are still 17 stolen goods in my cargo hold. Those must be from expired missions. I guess I am not so good at management after all, because I have no idea when this happened. There was only the one mission I remember expired when doing the marathon to Sullivan Port.

Williams City´s bulletin board is a successful roulette game again. I manage to collect 20 missions to Alderamin, Sullivan Port! Unfortunetely, the flight there takes again an eternity and the first 4 missions time out before I arrive. But there is still plenty of profit left. Just the reputation loss worries me a bit, even more so because it is rather intransparent. No matter, I am now again back to 164k Credits cash. Time to visit again Walz Beacon with its nice gadgets in the outfitting menu. Unfotunately, as I arrive, the inventory has been reshuffled. I just find a new scanner to be worthwhile, which increases my optimal scan range from 4 to 6 km and relieves my ship of 2,5 tons of mass.

Since this was a very fulfilling game session, and it is late again as usual, I log off and hope that on my next login, the nice gadgets are going to be back on sale.

Afterthought/Side Remark: I had started a draft version of this entry and accidentally published it already. This final version deviates a lot from the initial one; again testimony of how faulty personal memory is when confronted with the logged reality of my notes which I am always taking "life", in parallel while playing.

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