Gather ‘round for a holiday tale full of cheer and giving, from the Elite: Dangerous community. An intrepid explorer actually left galactic space in the game’s vast map, and was still rescued from the void by the famed Fuel Rats.
Cmdr. Persera, skipper of the Jack of Flames, answered a challenge in the Hutton Orbital Space Station, well known to Elite players as point very far from the nearest inbound jump point at Alpha Centauri. Getting there would be nothing like getting back from the edge of the galaxy, though. Here’s how it all went down.
After advancing to Explorer Elite status, Cmdr. Persera outfitted her vessel for exploration, and joined an expedition to try to reach Beagle Point. This is a good idea, as there’s safety in numbers, etc. However, a personal matter in real life intervened, taking her away from the expedition and out of the game for a few months.
Cmdr. Persera chugged out to Hutton Orbital Station (it’s about a quarter of a light year from the nearest jump point), Persera stopped in to pick up some Hutton Mugs from the gift shop, the only place it’s available. It’s a well known but rare item that usually means the person carrying it has traveled a long way. Their rarity increases the further they travel from Hutton Station, so collectors can sell them for a nice price closer to Sol.
But Cmdr. Persera noticed a flyer in the Station’s gift shop. It advertised a mission to take a Hutton Mug as far as possible from Beagle Point and jettison them. Space littering, basically. Cmdr. Persera said why not — except she was now traveling to Beagle Point, 65,000 light years from Sol (the Sun), by herself.
To make a long story short, she made it. Then, drawing from the travels of a Cmdr. Deluvian, who set a distance record from Sol (65,652 light years ) Cmdr. Persera decided to take a crack at that record. She arrived at Semotus Beacon, more 65,000 light years from Sol, but from that point onward could not make a hyperspace jump to go further.
So Cmdr. Persera, after making fuel calculations, turned off all the modules in her vessel (an Anaconda) and flew in supercruise for 48 hours to go 65,659 light years from Sol. Supercruise is the game’s equivalent of manual drive. So that’s 48 hours of real time spaceflight going in one direction away from the galaxy.
The problem is Cmdr. Persera blew her fuel calculations, and didn’t have enough to get back to Semotus Beacon. From there, her real options would be to self-destruct her ship — which would forfeit her progress and her record.
Enter the Fuel Rats. We profiled them in early 2016. Their purpose is to come to the aid of stranded explorers, run fuel out to them and get them home. Cmdr. Persera appealed for their aid in the Elite: Dangerous forums, but one replied that it would be the toughest assignment they’d ever taken on.
Three Fuel Rats came to the rescue, in what was called Operation Beyond The Void. The plan was to get Persera enough fuel to get her to the nearest “scoopable” star (a star that her vessel can use to replenish her fuel tanks) and get home. However, they were well aware that with fuel so tight, there was a real possibility one or all of their own would become stranded instead. “A fact of life as a Fuel Rat,” said Cmdr. Highwaywarrior.
The Fuel Rats livestreamed the rescue, which concluded on Dec. 23 with a successful outcome. The two archived videos (“48 hours of black,” is the subtitle, so take that seriously) can be found on theunkn0wn1’s Twitch channel. It took about as long for them flying in supercruise to reach the immobilized Cmdr. Persera. She jettisoned her cargo of mugs to fulfill the Hutton Station contract, then turned for home.
There is a ton more detail in this very long thread, which is full of gung-ho cheer and gratitude to the Fuel Rats. It’s as good as any narrative showing the bond among Elite: Dangerous players, and gives a great insight into this remarkable meta-role the Fuel Rats have created for themselves in service to the community.
(h/t reader Paul W.)