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The Error

A New Frontier

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o/ Hi, KSPFW. I've had this plot stuck in my head for a while... so I figured I should get it down on the digital equivalent of paper.

This story will be written in a few styles; starting with a blog / log / klog type thing, with the Kerbals involved making posts for the rest of kerbality. Next will probably be a cinventional story format; maybe with an outside context narrarator. After that? Who knows.

Inspired by Parkaboy's Plan Kappa, Jake's The Next Frontier, and some original works I cannot remember the name of.

= = =

[bLOG 01 - ISV Singularity, LKO]

Year 32-06-12; Space Program Calendar

Welcome to the commander's blog!

Yes. I know. Terrible pun aside, however, welcome. Because PR is low on funding, staff, and motivation, I got handed carte blanché to write this as a stand-in for an actual PR release.

So, to business: the mission.

In the short form, the in-the-works-for-years Stargazer Alpha mission is kerbals' first attempt to exceed the lightspeed barrier with a destination outside our star system. To this end, it's a scaled-up Eeloo-style mission; long trip out with plans to stay for a while. Our destination star it Proxii Teris - the nearest star to our solar system at six light-years* distant.

The ship for this expedition... well... it's not so much a ship as a mobile station. Interstellar Space Vessel Singularity, they call her; a retrofitted Skylancer-class habitation station.

Why a hab station? Well, simple: it has more internal space. All except two of the hab modules have been emptied and filled with every piece of scientific and engineering equipment possible. It's a spaceborne university, albiet without the wide-eyed students or gruffy professors.

To kill the speculation: no, it's not driven by Alkerbierre (warp, to the laykerb) drive. Nor hyperspace, nor neg-mass. But I can't actually tell you how it works because it's classified.

However. That all said, it's time to introduce the crew of this fine vessel.

Leftenant Commander Bill Kerman is our XO, navigator, and co-pilot. Probably one of the most levelheaded engineers in the program to boot. He's responsible for subluminal navigation, flying when I'm not on hand, shouting at people, and helping with maintenance.

Space Officer Bob Kerman is the Science Officer, mission specialist, and (xeno?) biologist/sociologist. He's going to be poking, prodding, and microscoping any flora or fauna we might find in Proxii Teris - as well as doing all the standard scientific stuff en route.

Senior Spacer Lengas MacKerzie is our Engineer. The crazy and/or brilliant guy who handles the antimatter reactor, superluminal drive, and great big fusion engine on the back. Fairly experienced in space. Also, doesn't freak out.

Captain Kurt Kerbley is the Communications officer and our analyst. You'd think an Air Service Captain being lumped in with a civilian crew would have a bad case of culture shock... but somehow, he deals. It's like talking to any other astronaut.

And, of course, me; Commander Jeb Kerman, pilot and mission command officer. I get to serve as vice navigator and work with Lengas on our superluminal course; which means holding a calculator for him.

That pretty much covers it. If you have questions or comments, feel free to post them below! We get underway in about thirty hours.

Happy Landings!

-Jeb

= = =

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Looking forward to reading more ^^ Would love to see how an interstellar KSP story goes, very few have been done around here as far as I know.

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Nice! I can definitely see Jake's influence in there. :)

Looking forward to seeing where this one goes!

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You classified the engine type, but then said there was "a great big fusion engine on the back". FYI

By the way, this is great.

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You classified the engine type, but then said there was "a great big fusion engine on the back". FYI

By the way, this is great.

Well, the FTL drive is classified. Not so much the third most common sublight drive in this kerbalverse ;)

- - - Updated - - -

[BLOG 02 - ISV Singularity, LKO]

Year 32-06-13, Space Program Calendar

Hallo hallo! Welcome to the second installment of the punny blog.

RCS and main engine tests went well, so we have some time to just kick back and relax a bit before we have to strap in.

So! I'll answer a few queries and comments I got on the previous blog. First up is one from someone called "Lido from Kerbswel":

Hey, Jeb! Is there any truth to the rumour that the FTL drive is powered by space krakens? Or was it really powered by everyone taking turns spinning a dynamo in the engineering deck?

Jeb hasn't quit chuckling yet, so I'll take this one. No, the fusion and antimatter reactors actually do power the super-dooper-secret Go Fast Device (no, seriously, that's the official name). The dynamo in the number three lab is actually there to recharge the emergency flashlights. -Lengas

This from someone known as "KrakenWatch":

How will you be communicating with Kerbin when in... whatever space, or on the far end?

Chuckling episode over. Well, the Air Service tried to keep a lid on it, but as you may have seen in the recent 'leak', we'll be using a quantum entanglement communicator; a fancy device that makes particles twitch rhythmically, or something. You'd have to ask Malcorf at KSCMC.

How far out do you need to go before activating the drive?

Well, we did tests and concluded we could activate or deactivate it anywhere with minimal danger... but we're still aiming for at least Jool orbit, maybe a bit farther, and we'll be emerging on the edges of Proxii Teris' gravity well. Plus, on the off-chace there are neighbours there, we'd rather not spook them. Still hopeful for that, by the way!

Welp, Bob is waving at me to get in gear and help shift some last few supplies aboard. TTFN!

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Well, this should be interesting. :D

I'll try for 'interesting'; no Big Damn Heroes this time, unfortunately.

Also, less Eeloo-shattering science :P

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[iSV Singularity, Kerbin Escape Course

Year 32-06-15, Space Program Calendar

This will probably be the last update for a while. I mean, it's not like interplanetary travel is all that exciting. Drifting for a few months, burst of complex math and thrust, repeat.

However, I'll still be doing the blogging thing and I'll keep you all updated on the intra-starship Skrabble championship.

Peace out!

- - - -

Year 32-06-30

Lengas won. He stole my crown! And as required of me, being the loser of the final match, I shall now deploy my large ham;

NNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

- - - -

Year 32-10-12

Finally approaching our destination. Sorry for the lack of blogs previously... there wasn't, ehm, all that much to write about.

But now!

We're at the designated point and about two days from the Big One, as Bill has taken to calling it. Much anticipation, here. I was asked by KSTC Central to get the crew's speculation on what we might find over there:

Bob: "Probably a star system. With planets."

Bill: "If it doesn't have ruins of some ancient civilization, I'll be disappointed."

Kurt: "More space."

Lengas: "Hopefully not an expanding cloud of gas where Singularity used to be."

Can't say I disagree on that last one. Next blog will be inside the... tunnel? Bubble? Whatever. Spacey-wacey thing. Jeb out!

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The problem with superluminal travel is a complete and total lack of of reference points. I mean, it looks breathtakingly pretty outside, but when you can't tell if your jump tunnel if ten or ten thousand meters away you tend to get a bit dizzy.

Glancing up at the swirling, technicolour vortex outside, Jeb frowned. And dizzy on a spaceship never ends well.

"We do have barf bags." Bill commented, floating upside-down (or possibly rightside-up) and reading over Jeb's shoulder. "It's not like dizziness is the worst thing to happen on a space flight."

Snapping his laptop shut, Jeb shrugged. "Still doesn't make it pleasant, Sir Blew His Oats In His Helmet."

"Is this a regular occurrence?" Kurt muttered, glancing over from his seat in the lounge. Bob grinned.

"Oh, yeah. Used to be there wasn't a flight gone by without the bickering and back-and-forth insults. Pretty sure it's how they keep each other on their toes. Or maybe just how they stay sane. Not sure it works entirely."

Kurt opened his mouth to respond, and was cut off by the cool, mechanized voice of the ship's computer.

"All crew to stations. Slipstream exit in... ten... minutes."

"Showtime!" Jeb hollered gleefully, spinning down the passage towards the bridge. Climbing through the hatch, he strapped in to the central seat as the others drifted in and buckled up.

"Maneuvering checks. CAPCOM would like to remind you not to pitch or yaw, Ace Pilot." Bob called, tapping away at his keyboard. Jeb rolled his eyes.

"Yes, yes, don't vaporize self via slipstream collapse, got it. Reaction wheels first - Bill, set RCS to OFF, please."

"RCS is set to OFF."

Taking the stick, Jeb nudged it to the left; the ship rolled, sluggishly. I guess expecting a two hundred fifty ton starship to do anything fast is a bit optimistic. "RCS to ON."

"RCS is set to ON."

A much more satisfying response this time; he nodded, satisfied. "Two minutes to deceleration. De-spin habs one and two."

"De-spinning." reported Lengas, flipping switches. "Hope you locked down all your goodies, lads."

"Knowing Bill, his precious Kerbteasers* are all over his cabin now. Inertial dampening field and EM field to full, please."

"Gotcha. EM and ID fields at maximum." Lngas chuckled. "And for the record, if I find any snacks floating around the cabin, they're going in The Stash."

"Har har." muttered Bill. "Thirty seconds to exit. Hang on to your butts."

Silence fell briefly; then the dull rumble and vibration of a slipstream exit shook the hull, and the shimmering tunnel exploded into nothing.

"I see stars. I assume that means we're not dead. Mission Control, this is Singularity. Slipstream transit successful and complete."

Distorted, scratchy cheers emerged from the comms line. "Good work, Singularity. Standing by your report."

"Copy that. Structure is undamaged. Reactor and drive are undamaged. SSD is in cooldown and diagnostic mode. RCS and reaction wheels go. Sensor suite online. No LADAR contacts. Position fix... stand by. Bob?"

"Just a second." Bob replied, tapping away. "Gotcha! Bull's eye. Within targeted emergence zone, less than twelve thousand klicks exit drift." A hair's breadth, considering the large numbers involved in interstellar flight.

"MisCon, Jeb here. Hit the nail right on the head; within the x-ring for out targeted exit point, over."

More cheers. "Well done, boys! Director Gene and Coordinator Wehrner send their congratulations. You are free and clear to begin ops, over."

"Copy, MisCon. Everyone, clear to unstrap and start powering up this flying laboratory. Kurt, you wanted the high-gain? It's yours. Bob, feel free to activate the server farm. Lengas, Bill, check over the reactor and SSD, please. I'll plot us a course towards the predicted observation point."

Acknowledgements and agreements flew as athe crew dispersed to their tasks. Jeb sat back, the enormity of it all landing on him.

We did it. We broke the lightspeed barrier and mad it to another system.

In your face, Mort.

*A type of small chocolate-covered green pastry. No real resemblance to a certain teasing malt snack on Terra.

Edited by The Error

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"Hey, guys?" Kurt stuck his head in the door. Placing a tile on the Skrabble board with a fourish, Jeb turned to face him.

"Got something?"

"More than something. You know that gas giant we were heading towards? We got something off it."

Jeb raised an eyebrow. "Interference? Magnetic field causing wierdness?"

Kurt shook his head. "A coherent signal, VHF band. We're working on decrypting it, but it's definitely artificial."

Jeb pushed off towards the hatch. "Now that is interesting. Gather everyone in the comms lab?"

"Sure." Kurt replied, pushing off. Lengas chuckcled.

"Sign of intelligence life, check. System believed to be inhabited, check. Signal from an area uninhabitable without space travel, check. What's next? Pink-skinned space babes?"

- = - = -

Bill drifted in the door just as Kurt punched the air in triumph. "Gotcha! Wasn't really encrypted, just encoded. Maybe a beacon or similar?"

"Can we play it?" inquired Lengas.

"Probably... just... there." Kurt muttered, hitting a button.

The speakers hissed briefly before playing the message; eyebrows raised and frowns appeared across the crew.

"Is it me, or do those sound remarkably like screams?" Bill asked the room at large. Jeb gave him a worried look.

"And something that sound disturbingly like a squish. Kurt?"

Kurt held up a hand, frantically tapping away. "Got it. There is... well, what I assume to be speech and what the computer recognizes as speech. See if I can clean it up."

"Bob, can you get a bearing and wrangle us a course to get to the point of origin for this signal?" Jeb asked. Bob nodded, unstrapping and pushing off towards the bridge.

"Okay. Cleaned it up but I doubt the translation software could get anything out of it. Playing."

Kurt was right; there was a distinctive pattern buried in the noise. Language, definitely. Recognizable, no.

"Well... at least we're sure that there's something intelligent in this system. What now?" Bill looked over at Jeb, raising the Bill Eyebrow.*

"Intercept and investigate. Assuming for the sake of the argument their screaming is caused by similar conditions and events to our own, they might need help. And that," he gestured at the comms panel, "Has 'distress call' written all over it in big serifs."

"Rescue mission it is, then. I'll go prep the drives." Lengas floated out, muttering something to himself.

- = - = -

"Got it! Orbital track for Unknown Alpha-One gives it a decaying orbit around the gas giant. RADAR and LADAR can't give us a silhouette until we're closer, but the contact is huge. At least nine hundred meters** long."

Jeb whistled. "Okay, that's pretty big. How close for a LADAR paint?"

"Call it two hundred klicks for a detailed silhouette. We're at... three fifty six now."

"Taking us in. Sound general alert at two fifty."

- = - = -

"I was right. It's huge." muttered Bill. "Visual, visual. Telescope two has an image, LADAR silhouette coming up on display two."

All five Kerbals turned to examine the laser-painted image and the telescope's visual.

"Huh. Afraid to ask where center mass is, but other than that bit at the front it seems solid. Not sure why that spine is so long, though." Jeb commented.

"Hm. Maybe those pods there mass enough to balance it out?" Lengas speculated.

"Can't tell from here. Right, bring the sensor suite to bear. Analyze that thing within a centimeter of its life, Bill." Jeb ordered, turning his attention back to maneuvering. Bill nodded, flipping switches.

- = - = -

"Talk to me, Bill." Jeb held the ship at ten thousand meters, waiting for the exhaustive array of intruments to go to work.

"Power signature is pretty much zero. Cold as space. If it's pressurized, I can't tell from here. No lights, no attempt at signalling, nothing but that initial signal. Gravity detector goes nuts when I point it at the tail end, but nothing otherwise. Mag-res*** isn't giving me anything useful... the entire damn hull reads like it's got synapses integrated into it, so not helping." Bill rattled off.

Jeb frowned. "Anything potentially hazardous? Beyond the obvious?"

"Not that I can tell."

"Then we go aboard. Bill, Kurt, prep suits. Lengas, find me an airlock to use. Bob, set sensors on wide array and tell me if anything else responds to that distress call."

Acknowledgements and murmurs of assent bounced around the cabin as the crew dispersed to do their tasks. Jeb nudged the ship forward, staring.

What is this thing?

= = = = = = = = = =

Cookies to anyone who can guess the crossover by now.

*Kerbals do not possess eyebrows, but can do this thing with their foreheads to a similar effect.

**The Kerbal equivalent of a meter is almost exactly 2 times the length of a Terran one. Measurements converted for your convenience.

***Magnetic Resonance Imager. Only really usable at short ranges, but will handily tell you if there's something alive aboard a ship. Well, usually.

Edited by The Error

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Huh. Event horizon. Well, could be worse - after the mention of 'synapses all through it', I was worried it was The Beast.

Y'know, I did consider that. Briefly. Then figured the Beast wouldn't touch the explosion-waiting-to-happen that is a Kerbal ship.

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"I have good news and I have bad news, lads. Whcih do you care to hear first?" Kurt proclaimed/inquired as he floated into the bridge. Jeb turned to face him.

"Bad news?"

"There's a psychoinductive field on the unknown. It's what's causing the mag-res failures; and I suspect it either came into being much stronger or spiked recently, hence the screaming distress call."

Jeb reached up, massaging his temples. Just when he thought memories of the Acheron had faded. "Good news?"

"Field's psycho-recessive."

Bob looked up. "If it was strong enough to affect the crew, how is it psychorecessive? Even the groves are psycho-dominant."

Kurt shrugged. "We know pretty much nil about this lot's reaction or tolerance of PI fields. For all we know they could have no resisitance whatsoever. Regardless, we could stay aboard the unknown for a few weeks, easy, before we'd even show stage one symptoms. Discounting field spikes or increases, anyhow."

Jeb nodded. "That's something in our favor, at least. Len, you found that airlock yet?"

"Yep. Frame twelve portside on the LADAR silhouette. Incompatible with ours but we can just EVA over." the engineer reported. Jeb nodded again.

"Alright. Kurt, Bill, Len, you're our best SAR techs. Prep another suit for Bill and get ready to head over. We'll maneuver close enough for an EVA and send two of the EADs* over with you."

- = - = -

"Alright, we're holding. Fifteen hundred meters from the unknown... EADs away and holding next to Singularity. You're clear for EVA."

"Copy, Jeb." Kurt acknowledged, opening the outer hatch. "We're leaving the airlock now."

Drifting out, he engaged his KMU and turned to face the alien ship. Whistling to himself, he brought up the magnifier, examining the hull while Bill and Lengas got themselves situated.

"Damn, this thing looks... archaic. Almost like someone hacked it together from bits of a cathedral or something."

"That is wierd." bill floated past, checking over the two droids. "And a bit creepifying."

"True. Alright, let's go. Jeb, have one drone follow, one trail. Flip their floods on at two hundred meters."

The procession of droids and kerbals moved forwards; floating between the two spacecraft. Kurt pondered the strange design as they approached, scanning for an airlock.

"Airlock is one hundred meters forward, Kurt. Look for a round hatch, like a docking port." Jeb chimed in over the comms. Kurt glanced about, locating it.

"I see it. Do we know how to get it open?"

"If there's buttons, press away. If not, EAD-1 will try to brute-force it."

Searching, Kurt sighted a small panel. Eyeing it, he tapped it - no effect.

"Found the pad... gimmie a sec to sort it out."

Poking randomly, he almost jumped (if such a thing is even possible when free-floating in space) when the door split, allowing a blast of atmosphere to escape into space.

"Right... door open. Let's go." Kurt kept his voice level, willing his heart rate to go back to normal. It was just an airlock.

The airlock was spacious, even with both droids inside with them; he had no trouble finding the identical panel and button to open the inner door. Pressure hissed and equalized as the door slid apart; the kerbals flicked on helmet lights and floated inside.

"Right. Droid one, head towards the bow and map. Two, ditto the stern. Bill, Len, follow me with droid one."

As Bill tapped out the commands to the droids, Lengas floated over to the side of the corridor.

"Hey, Kurt. Come check this out," he called, waving him over. Obeying, he spotted the objects of Lengas' interest; small metallic boxes, with blinking lights on them.

"What are these, d'you think?" Lengas muttered, glancing about.

"Hrm... from that," - Kurt indicated a little shattered-circle icon on the front - "And their placement... maybe demolition charges? Meant to split the ship in half if there's an issue in the aft hull or somesuch?"

"Why not just use explosive bolts?" queried the chief engineer, jetting forwards. Kurt and Bill followed.

"Beats me. Droids find anything of interest yet?"

"Nada. One found a hatch and it waiting for us, two found a bulkhead and is trying to get through the door." Bill replied, checking his wrist computer.

"Alright. Let's keep moving." Kurt ordered, floating on.

- = - = -

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