+++OPEN LOG-CMDR SOUVARINE ABOARD SSF VORTIGAUNT-15.02.3302+++
This is Souvarine, checking in from the rafters of the galaxy. Amongst the Gods, you might say. I’ve come as far, um, ‘up’ as I can. Now old Vorty sits on a barren plateau on a dusty boulder two thousand, seven hundred and sixty light years above the Solar plane. The galaxy lies below me. It’s glorious.
Two days ago I made the final jump to Sagittarius A*, the giant black hole at the centre of our galaxy. It’s a complex bit of frame shift acrobatics, jumping to a black hole, as it involves a considerably wider margin of error than simply jumping to a star. Never mind a black hole the size of the Solar System.
There it is – the largest black hole of them all. The big one. Impossible to comprehend.
I had a cup of tea while I maintained a distant orbit, wondering at the incredible lens flaring all around me. In fact, it was more than light that was being bent – it was spacetime itself. The whole sky looked as though it was painted on to a tarpaulin, and someone was moving a giant bowling ball underneath it – stretching and bending the very fabric of reality around it. It sullies the meaning of words to say I had never seen anything like it.
I opened my nav map and searched for the highest reachable star above the galaxy I could find. Above two thousand light years they thin considerably, and there are even some above three thousand – but the Vortigaunt can only stretch to thirty-odd light years per jump. I found the highest I could, tipped my nose up and began the seventy-odd jumps needed.
For some days now I’ve noticed something that unnerves me. Margot says it’s just cabin fever, that I’m imagining it. Perhaps she’s right. But every now and then, while I’m punching holes through reality and whizzing through what’s left when you pull back the curtains of spacetime, I keep thinking I’m seeing strange green orbs fly past the ship. They’re rare, and too fast for me to even get a look at, but I know I’m seeing them. They remind me of grizzly stories they used to tell at the Academy, about pilots back in the early days of private interstellar flight being yanked out of witchspace by Thargoids and attacked. So few made it that those that did were widely discredited, and thought to be making it up. It’s probably a fairy story, and by all accounts impossible, according to all understood definitions of that word. But it terrified me nonetheless.
When I finally reached the highest point above the galaxy that I could, I scanned the system for landable bodies. There were a couple of gas giants, and some volcanic planets – whose atmospheres looked to stormy to penetrate. I settled for this tiny moon and made my approach.
Now the thrusters have powered down I’m going to make a short foray in the lander. I tried to tell Margot that I’m going to search for more compounds for the field nano unit, but she knows that I really just want to take pictures.
What do you know? The stars are out tonight.
+++CLOSE LOG-CMDR SOUVARINE ABOARD SSF VORTIGAUNT-15.02.3302+++