Taking the Odyssey (Thaddeus' ship which he named after an old book he found in the ruins of a library on Lullingstone) out of hyperdrive, Thaddeus navigates his ship toward a giant cloud covered planet. "This must be Ventura."

Finding a safe corridor between the clouds, the Odyssey twists and turns between dark clouds and lightning bolts until it finds its way to solid ground. The landing gear deploys and the ship lands with a soft bump. The crew breathes a collective sigh of relief as they emerge from the safety of the ship, stepping out onto the alien landscape of the storm-wracked planet.

The landscape stretches out before them, shrouded in swirling mists. Flashes of lightning dance across the sky and the faces of the crew. Dark clouds loom overhead, casting shadows that play across the rugged terrain. Despite the chaos of the storms, there is a certain stark majesty about it; jagged rock formations jut up from the ground, and valleys below them seem to be carved by relentless winds. The air feels charged with electricity, like lightning is crackling within the very molecules of air they breathe. And the booming thunder is almost melodious in its rhythmic certainty.

Amidst the scene, one of the crew members draws Thaddeus's attention to a distant light flickering in the darkness. Squinting against the swirling mist, Thaddeus can just make out the faint glow of a ship approaching through the storm. As it draws nearer, it becomes clear that something is indeed making its way towards the landing site.

Starlog of Paladin Roach as told by chadnorth:

Having unloaded a cargo of daggits to brokers on Diamond ‘Captain’ Roach now decides to use all of Precious’ fuel to accept a cargo of pilgrims to the planet Rapelje on the Outer Rim. The cargo consists of about 27 adolescent females robed in red with white hoods to be delivered to the Central Temple of Joris (the hierophant). As expected the trip is concluded with his normal precision (they made it). There was a parade planned for all of the newcomers as few travelers come out this far. Paladin is uninterested in the fanfare. He does not seek an audience with Rapeljeins nor does he provide a grateful donation; he thinks delivering the pilgrims with their virginity intact is more than sufficient especially after such a long trip.

Upon collecting payment he heads for the nearest hostel. While on Rapelje a lone figure dressed in black arrives at night and offers up a fair price for his next delivery.

I hear that on Ventura’s highway in the sunshine

The days are longer and the nights are stronger than moonshine.
Alligator lizards in the air...

Extremely bored while waiting for a landing clearance that may never arrive, Willy Minmax uses his time in Gondilly orbit to negotiate with the owner of the pointless scissors.  Willy manages to talk a gentleman named "Rip Higgs" down from "heavily discounted, free on board Gondilly" to "on consignment".  Why the seller would feel comfortable putting his goods onto a confessed "tramp steamer" is not disclosed, but Willy promises to do his best and return with the profits as soon as practicable.  Suspicion and regret fill his mind, despite the far greater justification for Mr. Higgs to own such feelings.


The tale of Hirila as told by nikkinoorden:

Desperately longing to leave her home planet, but never old enough to travel, Hirila finally, finally was granted a license to leave Tibro. Growing up in such an advanced society may have its benefits like being educated enough and access to technological refuse to fashion your own ship from secondhand parts, but Hirila may have been the odd one out since the pressure and expectations from a society who prides accomplishments above personal happiness or self worth was suffocating. Thus, rather than studying the mystery behind “Ghosts” like her family demanded of her, she worked hard and made her one person shuttle to leave.

She submitted her traders license number and a cargo list at the traders' guild. Her destination? Urakaze, home to probably the most inhospitable environment. However, she had heard of a rumor while repairing space vessels that there was a lone continent that wasn’t tainted by industrial waste and was uninfluenced by the Algebras. A place she could gather a few meager resources as well as hope she could venture farther out into the unknown, leaving Ghosts and her do or damned society behind.

I’m curious about this traders’ guild. Perhaps even the most insular societies must allow interested oddballs to apply, in exchange for participating in trade.

The tale of Paladin Roach as told by Doug Hoek (chadnorth):

Paladin Roach was a late starter. He managed to scrape together enough money to repair the engines on the crashed ship that he inherited from his uncle. He posted on an Intergalactic message board, “Have ship will travel” along with his coded contact information. Then the long wait, wondering who’d be dumb enough to to risk their cargo in this old clunker named “Precious.” Finally an interested party made contact -- a load of pet robots are needed to be delivered to Diamond. Paladin researched Diamond’s import policies and restrictions, weighed the costs and and benefits, and after taking enough payment to cover initial costs blasted off.

Once in orbit around Diamond the cargo was transferred to an awaiting shuttle (an unexpected cost plus tax) to be offloaded to the consortium itself (more cost and taxes).  "Should be able to show enough profit to get wherever the next load may take me", he said.

I have a lot of questions about the pet robots.

Thaddeus Nebulaire, born into the aristocratic opulence of Lullingstone, never quite fit in with the shallow customs of the elite class. Instead, he found solace and companionship among a group of smart stargazers who shared his passion for astronomy. It was during this time that he encountered an eccentric entrepreneur named Willy Minmax, who introduced him to his fabulously successful invention, the portable holoemitter.

This encounter with Willy sparked Thaddeus's imagination and planted the seed of curiosity within him. He purchased a holoemitter that projected a mysterious stellar phenomenon, one he had never seen before but felt compelled to explore. Inspired by this newfound fascination and armed with his family's exorbitant wealth, Thaddeus secretly embarked on a mission to build a ship with his friends and set sail to find the phenomenon.

As the final touches were made to his ship, Thaddeus stood on the brink of a new chapter in his life. With a mixture of anticipation and trepidation, he prepared for his maiden voyage, ready to leave behind the confines of Lullingstone and set sail into the unknown depths of space.

Thaddeus gave one last glimpse of the expressions on the faces of his friends in the seats next to him before pressing the ignition button on his control panel. With each hum of the ship's engines and each flicker of starlight through the viewport, Thaddeus felt the thrill of adventure coursing through his veins, knowing that he was destined to chart his own course among the stars.

"First stop, Ventura!"


Going back to VELEŠIĆI seems fine but little does Akasora suspect that this creates a problem with continuity as activating the FTL and returning to the same location causes him to effectively travel backwards in time, violating the causal laws of the universe sending him off into a bizarre landscape of strange alternate dimensions.

But he reacts to this the same way he reacts to everything, by capturing his experience in haiku!

Causality weaves,
Akasora's echoes fade,
Weird dimensions call.

Intrigued by its ambiguous advertising, Willy Minmax sets course for the planet Gondilly.  Upon arrival, he declares his cargo of holoemitters and requests permission to land.  Permission is unfortunately "delayed" due to some complications at the spaceport.  While he's waiting, perhaps he would like to negotiate trade for an available lot of "pointless scissors"?  These would presumably be safer for children to use, but Willy finds the transaction itself to be pointless.  What is the deal with this planet?


Continuing his clockwise tour of the inner galaxy, Willy Minmax goes to Fremantle, where he confronts an insupportable situation.  Satellites meant to train the cloudlike Woylie towards positively influencing the climate have failed.  They now accidentally torment the Woylie into worsening the weather, causing disastrous storms and floods.  The Noongar society that built the satellites is now unable to repair or maintain them, so Willy decides that the only help he can offer is to destroy the malfunctioning devices.  Without waiting around for thanks or blame, he does this and quickly departs.  Perhaps when Fremantle's atmosphere returns to normal, he too can return and re-establish trade with this world.

In the meantime, Akasora considers his strange fate among the distant stars:

Silent stars above,
Lonely verses in the void,
Robot dreams in code.

12/30 '23 2 Comments
I’m confused but entertained.
I have familiarity with this, as a way of life.

Akasora makes a considerable leap through the stars and winds up at the strange world of Bole, a scan revealing...

BOLE is so radioactive that every object native to the planet visibly glows. The beautiful glow of Bole was seen as a sign of divine providence to its first settlers, a theocratic society known as the Hakuraku, who see themselves as wise judges of merit. Native to the planet are the Tianma, a species of winged equines that greatly esteemed by the Hakuraku as heavenly emissaries. Lest they be overwhelmed by the "holy radiation" of their home, each Bolean must wear an expensive piece of jewelry called a "wudi". The wudi's circuitry, itself powered by radioactivity, manages to repel Bole's natural radiation in such a way that the wearer is instead surrounded by darkness. It is only removed for special ceremonies when the pure light of Bole is fully embraced.

Akasora sees only one way to capture its ki:

Radiant divine,
Wing'ed equines grace the skies,
Wudi shields the glow.

Unable to reach the Støver sector, Willy Minmax instead opts for a short trip to the capital of the Lullingstone sector.  There he arranges to record views of its natural wonders and breathtaking constructions.  The planet's cascades, caverns, and castles will surely fetch a reasonable price in less beautiful corners of the galaxy.  The elite Lullingstoners also pay to have their own images recorded, but Willy is less optimistic that others will want to admire their ostentatious coiffures.  Who knows, though?  Maybe the images will find favor as a source of comedy.

12/26 '23 2 Comments
I would like to admire their ostentatious coiffures.
Yay! What planet do you live on, again?

Akasora stays in the same sector and scans the nearby world of ...

VELEŠIĆI (56) is a planet rich with life that once also had a large human population, but pollution damaged most of the arable land. The centuries of emigration that followed have resulted in more people of Velešići heritage living off-world than on Velešići itself. A few ancient families remain, within well-defended enclaves. For although the ecology of the planet was disrupted, many creatures survived and adapted to the polluted land. Of particular interest are the vukpas, which are very dangerous carnivorous pack animals. In addition to their teeth and claws, vukpas bear one more unusual weapon: a virus. Anyone within shouting distance of a pack of vukpas is at risk of infection, and the primary symptom of uncontrollable laughter serves to both attract vukpas and incapacitate their prey. Hunting parties on Velešići must be extremely cautious, because he who laughs does not last.

Disquieted by what he learns, he chants aloud:

Laughter's viral dance,
Vukpas' carnivorous jest,
Survival's cruel test.

In the Stîngă system, Willy Minmax is disappointed to learn that he will not be permitted to sell the artificial intelligences any technology, no matter how innocuous.  He is permitted a brief and extremely well-supervised visit with them, however.  His question about recent visitors reveals the existence of one in particular:  "AFFIRMATIVE.  WE NOTICED HIS NATURE IMMEDIATELY, BUT HE SOON DEPARTED TOWARDS THE STØVER SECTOR."  His nature?  What could that mean?  Willy's minders choose that moment to cut short the interview, and he is forced to depart with his curiosity unsatisfied.  The inspectors will no doubt have much to discuss, and he is happy that they at least let him leave the system without further delay.

12/24 '23

Burning the fuel, Akasora takes the nearest space lane to a new sector, discovering...

OVALAU is tidally locked with its primary, with one hemisphere always facing the star. Its ecosphere hence consists of a narrow band between the too-hot sunny side and the too-cold dark side. Ovalauers are very resourceful in dealing with this constant climatological balancing act, but a history of dangerous epidemics has left scars on their collective psyche. Whenever an outbreak (or even a rumor of one) occurs, everyone hurries away from the presumed-infected zone, clogging the congested paths along Ovalau's prime meridian. Some even opt for a life-threatening journey across the uninhabited wastes, desperately seeking the antipodes of disease. After an awkward interval waiting for the plague to dissipate, they all eventually go back home to what's left of the rest of their lives.

After giving the planet careful consideration, he intones this haiku:

Sun's captive embrace,
Fear shadows along the line,
Balancing scarred souls.

Willy Minmax briefly makes landfall at Jerzy, where its culture of scarcity and violence doesn't fit well with his affable marketing of holoemitters.  He doesn't even leave the ship as he requisitions fuel to continue his journey.

12/23 '23