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Home isn’t a place. But you can still find your way there. This is the second of two strips based on the poem Prayer to the Sands (included as a bonus in the transcript below) which I wrote with my wife in mind, just before I asked her to marry me.  The first is called Hope, and both of them were executed with utter aplomb by the talented Becky Hunt. I often push Becky and Izak quite hard on the art front and they always rise to the challenge – I’m privileged to work with such talented and tolerant artists.

And my wife’s pretty cool too, y’know, I guess

↓ Transcript
Rain lashes across and lightning forks down. The kitten gazes wide eyed out at the storm. The robot forms a canopy over the kitten’s head with its hands and smiles wide as the storm drums on its weathered metal.

Prayer to the Sands

In the waste of the world the still one hulked,
Dun hued and pitted with rust.
A grey gaze sifted the sun stained rock,
slid over the grizzled scrub.
A prayer to the sands keened slow from its mind,
the sigh of a dying thing.
Let the light fall now from my too charred frame,
come cover me now with your warmth.
May the din and the scorch of the earth
fade away, as my iron returns to the dust.
Who can say if the soft sands heard,
if the wind was mindful at all?
But as the world wound to the cusp of dusk,
the still one lifted its head -
a mewling escaped from the age dead weeds,
a cry from the shade locked stone.
And in the last shafts of a dirt drab day
a shape coalesced from the dark.
Crusted fur and wide round eyes
deep with doubt and need.
For just a moment neither moved,
as hues slid off to drown…
Then padding fear-bold through the dim
the creature shifted close,
nosed tentatively at the bulk
and slipped inside a gap.
The still one sensed the life warm form
curled soft inside its plate,
and prayed once more to the sliding sands
to rule over its fate.
Let the light rise gold on our flesh and steel,
be kind to us now on our way.
May the din and the scorch of the earth
fade away, as we take our first steps toward home.

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120km Ground Based Journey In Elite: Dangerous

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I spend most of my time in Elite: Dangerous these days just ferrying people between two systems on the edge of human occupied space, otherwise known as The Bubble. I’m on the edge so the people who need transporting have only one route out of there. That means I visit the same two systems over and over. One, a space station in 64 Arietis called Weyn Dock and the other a planetary outpost called Salak Prospect in the nearby Independent system of Arietis Sector DQ-Y C19 on the moon DQ-Y C19 1 A.

On a good day my flight to Salak Prospect has me flying over a mountain range putting me directly in line with the large landing pads. This is usually about the time Salak Prospect is entering the daylight side of the planet on it’s 18.8 Day rotation around it’s parent DQ-Y C19 1, the closest planet to the systems Class K star.

The mountain range has always held me in awe as I fly over it. And it’s always presented itself as some sort of a challenge, just begging for the human will to conquer to well, conquer it. Sharp eyed readers will notice that I’m not landing at a the larger landing pad, but rather a medium one. I’ll get to that later.

However just beyond it is two craters. One, fairly regular, the other with a protrusion at it’s center, like a nipple or a water droplet caught in slow motion. In the below picture you can see it as the darkest and largest crater in the middle of the image below the mountain range. Salak prospect is on the opposite side of the range on the right hand edge.

Here’s a closer view of it, with me passing over it with my workhorse Keelback, loaded with two vehicle hangers as well as a fighter bay, for quick reckon work. I’m a rookie when it comes to planetary exploration. So I packed two Scarab SRV’s (Surface Reckon Vehicle).

My clever idea was that I’d park up at Salak Prospect and drive from there to the crater, and if I needed it, call in my second scarab if the first one got ruined.

The catch however is that the crater is a 120km straight trip as the Eagle flies. In the below image you can see what I’d have to go through. Meniscus  is on the left hand side while Salak prospect is the scraggly little dots on the bottom right.

The planet has just recently hit the daylight side. So I reckon that gives me a decent amount of time to complete the journey if I have to do it over multiple sessions. I know nighttime isn’t THAT bad, but I’d prefer not to work in it anyway.

I set out at 8:54:03 according to my system clock. In the image below I go around to the right of the main outpost building and go up a slightly less drastic incline.

One of the first things I see on the way up is a cargo capsule rolling down the hill. Someone needs to do something about all this garbage.

I use the parent planet as a guiding point to follow towards my destination.

I spend the first part of this journey getting to 85% hull integrity on my SRV.

It was at this point at 9:24:50 I call it quits for the night (Feb 14) and don’t pick up the journey again till Feb 19, 4:01:04. I whip out my ship launched fighter and take a quick look around just to get my bearings and see how the constellations have moved around. I do my best to take off and land in exactly the same spot. It’s a little difficult due to how bad the terrain is. But I manage.

I keep DQ-Y C19 1 slightly on my left (but within sight) from here on out, which roughly gives me the right direction to go in. I could use the coordinates but I’m not great with numbers and like to do everything by sight. Would be nice to lay down landmark flags or something to follow though.

My newly repaired vehicle quickly prangs and isn’t so spotless anymore.

I reach my first basen and think to myself “Wow, this trip isn’t going to take long at all, it’ll just be over that range in front of me!” I then proceed to roll down the mountain.

I come across my first skimmers, protecting cans of coffee and other detritus. Not my interest so I carry on, giving them a wide berth.

I hit 50% fuel on my first SRV and it’s at this point I realise I might be in trouble. I do some quick calculations and realise I might run out of fuel about 20km or so out from the crater.

I decide I’ll let that be future Izak’s problem and quickly find a downed probe and take a couple selfies.

I’m only 40km away from Salak and I’ve got less than half a tank of gas in my first SRV, and no discernible way to refuel. Did I mention I was a rookie?

I jump on the Galnet and discover that I can in fact refuel via mining rocks and processing sulphur and phosphorous. Pity I can’t find any god damn rocks on this rock!

I wimp out, frustrated, and call in the ship for my replacement SRV.

At this point I take the opportunity to go about 4 or 5km up in my fighter to get a quick look at how far I’ve got to go. Doesn’t look bad! Maybe I’ll be able to make it on my second tank after all. Maybe. If maths suddenly decide to cut me a brake.

From this point onward I follow the arm of the milky way, slicing up from the horizon, as my guide. I set out resolutely hoping I’ll find resources along the way. I’ve spent a couple hours on this trip now and I don’t want to screw it up.

Using the SRV’s radar I find a couple mineable outcrops full of nothing useful. Got elements for repairs though!

I also find another probe, this one protected, and get a bit of a warning. I skedaddle because I don’t want to get into a tussle.

I finally find enough resources for refueling, I have enough for a couple tanks. Until now I was getting pretty frustrated and abusive at my SRV’s constant spin outs. But now that I have a safe amount of fuel, I’m happy. So happy in fact I take a photo of the pattern I made getting all the precious rocks.

Shortly after I get my first ground level view of the crater. A wide flat expanse is before me and with a recently repaired SRV, I gun it with reckless abandon, doing massive jumps along the way.

I smash my hull to below 50%, but I’m undeterred. Suddenly I’m making my way down the inside lip of the crater. The nipple is still about 18km away.

Undeterred…

It looks like there’s already some sort of human presence in the crater already.

As I approach the nipple I see something is already on it. Another wreck probably.

System Defence Force? Are you kidding me? Parked all the way out here. And look at that angle. As I take the photo my SRV slides backwards down the slope.

I’ve done it! I’ve made it to the top of the highest point of Meniscus Basin (as I’m going to call it) and completed my journey! Salak Prospect is registering as 118km away but I’m going to call it a nice even 120km to make up for all my zig zagging. The time of completion is 7:14:41.

That means I was on the road for about 3 hours and 45 minutes. I usually idled my SRV in the 0.18g gravity at about 10m/s. This kept me flat on the ground most of the time.

The exact Co-ordinates of Meniscus Basin is 5.3596° -75.8978° for those interested in checking it out.

My beauty shots didn’t register at the time of completion. So I logged back in a day later and took photos of where I left off. The shadows have deepened as the sun makes its way down to the horizon.

Would I do it again? I’m not sure. I’d need new sites to check out. But it was certainly fun, and broke up my usual play. The music that accompanied me along the way was Stellardrone, who I was introduced to through the community.

Thanks for reading!

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