As Gavyn pushed back the hyperdrive levers he watched the mottled hyperspace tunnel outside the cockpit flash with starlines then fade into the star-flecked blackness of realspace. The navicomputer gave a single positive chirp indicating that he had successfully arrived.
Wherever here was, exactly.
Looking out the panoramic transparisteel canopy of the A-24 Sleuth-class scout ship, Gavyn could just make out a thin belt of asteroids and interstellar debris- the only noteworthy prospects in this pitiful unnamed system that the Hyperspace Navigators Guild had sent him all the way out to scan and catalogue. He felt the familiar companion of boredom begin to cast a fog over his mind as he keyed the _Sleuth_’s full sensor suite to begin actively scanning the surroundings.
Well, it only took an entire week for me to jump out to the arse-end of the Expansion Region, he thought drearily. Here’s hopin’ that prospect Number 37 fares better than all the others.
Leaving the ship to power up its array of optical, full-spectrum and electronic transceivers, Gavyn headed aft to the _Sleuth_’s small cramped galley and dialled the processor for a bland protein meal and waited, idly drumming his fingers on the stained lino benchtop.
Six years working for HNG had not only rewarded him with his own ship captains’ licence, but also a corporate ship he could call his own. How proud and enthusiastic he’d felt then. But none of his trainers or co-workers had prepared him for the tedium of long-range scouting; the endless cataloguing and updating of astrogation charts; the fruitless searches for resources across an entire sector that had been meticulously strip mined thousands of years before to the rise of the Empire. The juxtaposition was enough to drive him mad some days: Here he was with the chance to explore the cosmos, yet for the last 37 tours all he ever saw was desolation and ruin, the skeletons of solar systems left rotting- asteroids and planetoids stripped bare, mines played out, atmospheres chocked heavy with run off and pollution. Like trying to strangle the last gasps of air out of corpse he coldly thought as he accepted the prepared meal from the processor.
Still, he supposed that a week in space by himself beat a day back in the office on Urce; if nothing else it gave him plenty of time to read or tinker with small projects.
After a couple of silent minutes eating, a beeping that echoed from the cockpit interrupted his lacklustre meal. Moving to the pilot’s seat, Gavyn keyed for the analysed report from the ship’s sensors. Come on, gimme something. Silicon. Gold. Agrocite. Hell, mynocks would do.
He slung back into the back of the chair, dejected, but not at all surprised. Pinching the bridge of his nose, Gavyn reached over and keyed the navigation computer to plot a flight path to the system’s outer edges, where he might discover some exoplanets or trojans asteroids not on the charts. It’d only add two more days to his trip.
Opening his in-flight log, Gavyn added the following addendum to his logs:
“Prospect 37 negative. Beginning prospect cycle 38.”