I arrived at the Heart Nebula yesterday morning. It’s an ethereal curtain of pink dust, cloaking a core of bright stars. I set a course for an O type star in it’s centre to make landfall.

So far, ‘barnacles’ have only been discovered on airless worlds formed of at least 60% rock, with a temperature no greater than around 420 Kelvin. This system contained a likely-looking rocky world.


Once I cleared the proximity of the main star my eyes started to pick up the glorious colours of the nebula. I angled the Lord of Kobol down into orbital cruise around the planet. ‘Barnacles’ have tended to be found amid areas of topographical interest – canyons, craters and the like. I found a likely contender and carefully set the giant ship down.


I sighed gratefully as the thrusters powered down.

So far, so good.

Now time to get down to the deployment deck and buckle up in one of the Surface Recon Vehicles. I’ve brought two on this trip, in case I run into mechanical trouble.

I shunted one towards the hatch and swung myself into the bubble-like cockpit. It always felt eerily fragile, especially when I had no idea what was out there.

Oh well.

I punched the command to deploy and tensed as the insectile craft was dropped jarringly onto the planet’s surface. Gravity here was 0.14 – the tyres connected with the alien dust with barely a bump.

I sped off under the crimson sky.


Several hours later, I’d burnt through two fuel tanks and found nothing of scientific interest. I did, however, find several metallic meteorites which yielded useful elements used in synthesis and vehicle maintenance. I returned to the ship to scout elsewhere.

By the end of the day I’d scouted three similar planets in different locations around the nebula, had a synthesis array full of useful base materials but no sign of any other activity. Time to continue the journey.


The next stop was the Soul Nebula. I’ve always thought it resembles a heart more than the Heart Nebula does, and the Heart Nebula itself smacks slightly ghost-like to me, so I can’t help thinking they’ve been named the wrong way around.

Nevertheless, it was fourteen short jumps between them. I made a scan of likely systems in the area and again selected a planet that fit the parameters.

This world was greyer and rockier than those I’d visited in the Heart, and it’s surface was laced with deep, inviting canyons.


My SRV can manage a top speed of 32 metres per second…

For the next three hours I raced joyously across the most majestic, sweeping canyon network I’d ever seen, in a most unscientific manner. The bottoms of the canyons were perfectly flat; their walls, impossibly high around me.


No aliens, but a lot of fun.

Imagine chucking the Weasel through these, I thought to myself. I recently fitted the Weasel with high-spec racing thrusters – making her top boost speed a mighty 512 metres per second. She would love it here.

Several hours later I recalled the Lord of Kobol, and trundled reluctantly back into the loading bay. Time to move on.


Back in the Bridge, I opened the navigation console and traced my finger down the Perseus Arm to my current location – and then straight down.

Down to where the stars thinned to nothing.

The Formidine Rift…

Explorers had barely begun to define its edges, let alone map it. That’s where I was going.

The Rift is flanked by a seemingly-impassable region of dark systems known as the Poseidal Wall. Until recently this hadn’t been crossed, but I’d read of a pioneer who’d made the journey and recorded his route. It had become known to explorers as the Heisenberg Bridge, after its discoverer. This would be as good a place as any.

I set the hyperdrive to spool and engaged the mighty lateral thrusters of the Anaconda. The nose of the giant craft gently lifted towards the stars.

Next stop… where the map ends.




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