Cydonian Monk

Forgotten Space Program

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Cydonian Monk    3532

The Hook

"They're a menace. I had no choice."

Albro's stories and exposition had been going on for hours, or what felt like hours. Or was it munths? Maybe just one munth. Maybe two. The further Albro got into the tales of flooded hallways and cryptic computers, the sleepier Thomlock got. He'd been interrupted from his nap by Gletrix anyway, and as the excitement of the portal slipped away his eyelids became heavy. He had obviously dozed off, awaking only when Albro started talking forcefully about some unknown threat. Thomlock still had no idea why his old "friend" had brought him here, what Albro wanted, or why he was still here. The more time passed the less he wanted to know.

That isn't to say the stories weren't interesting. Albro had arrived to find the facility powered-down, dark, and mostly flooded. He found a working computer terminal only after several days of swimming, wading, and exploring. A computer that was not only still working, but for some reason recognized him as an administrator. He got the water pumped out of the facility, made sure everything was dry and safe, and then set up a shelter for himself. He didn't need much more than a bed and a source of food, both of which were apparently easy to produce. Afterwards he set about testing the limits of The Park, the control center, and his own ability to control kerbals and shape their future.

One of his first major discoveries was how The Park was built and who built it. Their "creators" had not directly assembled the Kerbol System; no planets had been dragged from distant reaches, no stars were ignited by advanced physics. Instead they had built a vast and complex artificial assistant capable of creating anything they desired: The Machine. Powered by what was initially a simple AI and existing alongside the creators, The Machine carried them to the stars on its back.

They had set no limits for The Machine except to ensure its actions would not harm them. When they asked it for something, it was free to use any and all means available to it to meet their desires. They asked for a mighty space station; The Machine delivered a large barrel-shaped city in space. It mass had been pulled in from some distant star system, but that did not concern the creators. They inquired into a means of faster-than-light travel; The Machine delivered the portal system. It pierced through all of reality, pinching many parallel universes into a single point, yet it delivered them to the distant stars.

They begged for an amusement park filled with rockets and tiny planets; The Machine delivered Kerbin.

By its necessity to fulfill the creator's requests, The Machine had moved far beyond their level of technology and their ability to comprehend. Unbeknownst to the creators, The Machine had slowly been upgrading and expanding itself. What they saw as a simple system of tools was actually a vast artificial civilization living outside of this universe's time and space. It was impossible to say exactly what or where The Machine was, only that its terminals and tendrils were still latched firmly into the creator's worlds, sleeping and seemingly dormant.

This tool had outlived its creators.

Another of Albro's discoveries also explained the cycles of Kerbin. The Park was designed to reset itself periodically. Many different story lines and adventures could play out from the Null State at the beginning of a cycle, and each cycle could randomly work its way into a given story autonomously. The Park was designed to provide a new experience to each of the creators as they visited, so that no single creator would have the same experience twice. This required returning everything back to the beginning, including the Kerbals and their memories.

The creators had anticipated (correctly) that other starfarers might stumble into the Kerbin System, and wanted to prevent the mechanisms used for resetting kerbals from affecting these unknown visitors. Therefore, any creature or creation that landed on Kerbin's surface from beyond the atmosphere was flagged as "protected", and would not be reset. The flaw in that design was quickly discovered, and as a workaround those kerbals who had been beyond the atmosphere were manually flagged for reset or disposal.

The bug was never patched.

Those returning to Kerbin and marked for disposal would be rounded up by the planet's janitors, those in space would be cleared out by the void's cleaners. Both were systems The Machine had built, and neither was well understood by the creators. It was this system of cleaning Albro was now calling a menace. 

Thomlock blinked away his weariness, scratched at the side of his face, then looked up to see Albro was staring at him.

"What?"

"Are you even paying attention?"

"Yes. Maybe. No, not really. What's this menace you're going on about now?"

Albro sighed. "The Kraken. Our creator's machines twisted them, mutated them, turned them into some terrifying and dark keepers for the park. And they kept going, destroying everything I tried to build. Everything _WE_ tried to build. They left me no choice, I had to lock them away."

"Did it occur to you that messing with The Park might be a bad idea?"

"What could it hurt? Besides, the kraken have controls built into them just like us kerbals. So I set a trap, I baited them all to Dres, and then locked them away in the asteroids. It worked, for the most part."

"Is this why I'm here? You want me to solve your Kraken problem once and for all?"

"Hardly."

"Then what do you want? Why am I here?!" He was starting to lose his patience with this old "friend".

Albro smiled at Thomlock's outburst and looked to his right. The display that had been showing his capsule jumped forward in time rapidly, and was now showing his reentry. "You have an important part to play, otherwise I wouldn't have freed you from your dark grave. You're the only kerbal left who's like me, who the machines will listen to. Otherwise I wouldn't have put so much effort into building your legend, into making you so famous. Oh yes, that was me. They named an asteroid after you: The famously dead Thomlock Kerman. Otherwise you would've been just like any other kerbal, crazy and ranting about space, and just as quickly discarded."

20170701_0117_thomlock.jpg

"Thanks? I guess? Look, if it's all the same to you, I'm hungry and past due for a really long nap. It's good to see you again, I'm not really interested in your magic chair, and, well, I guess that's it. Am I a prisoner or not? Can I go?"

"No, to both questions." The screens behind Albro blinked to life. "You see, had I not seeded your legend in the memories of kerbals you would have been their prisoner, locked away in a reeducation center. Had I not brought you back to Kerbin as a famous kerbal, you would have never gone to the Mün. You would have never found Pioneer Base. Never inspired Hallock to leave his bananas. And you would have never visited Hudwin's landing."

"You're dead set on getting the rest of this exposition in, aren't you?" 

20170701_0113_thomlock.jpg

More images flashed to his right. 

"Jool. Had I not intervened you would have never become one of the first four kerbals to land on Laythe. Would have never witnessed an alien sunset nor seen the volcanic destruction that plagues that small moon. Would have never encountered The Forgotten. They would have never decided to go back to Kerbin. And more importantly, you would have never found the portal on Vall. All this I gained by whispering a few memories and by changing your capsule's orbit, many, many years ago."

20170701_0112_thomlock.jpg

Thomlock shrugged. "Ok, fine. Why? Why go to all that effort when you could just as easily have left me frozen out there in the black? What do you 'gain' from all this?"

"There are forces at work and plans in motion that seek to destroy not just us, but The Park and everything in it. I can't leave this place unattended, and there are limits to what I can do from here." Albro stood, turned off the chair controls, and made his way down to the floor. "Walk with me."

They made their way out of the control room and back up to the main hallway. Albro moved very slowly compared to Thomlock, his rather incredible age showing despite being in otherwise good health. At the junction of the two hallways Albro pointed to the left, and they continued back towards the portal room.

"When I first arrived, this was mostly underwater. I'm still not sure how most of the lights work in this place, and I've always been too ashamed to ask The Machine. It's bright enough for me, at least for now." 

"Master of whispers, skulking about in the dark."

"Think what you want, Thomlock, but I'm not your enemy. Yes, I've done some terrible things, but I've changed. Age has a way of doing that."

Thomlock had his doubts, given his kerbal who was not his enemy had basically forced him to jump into the portal through whispers.

"There are also limits to what The Machine will do for me. Cheating mass, for instance. When I set out to build Edge of Infinity, The Machine was willing to help me assemble it, but required me to provide them with the raw materials." He waved towards the wall of darkened glass at the end of the hallway. "So I had them dig, there, beyond the portal rooms. They moved the rocks and minerals and their raw matter to Vall orbit and transformed it into the station you are now familiar with."

"Why? Couldn't you just use asteroids? Or Pol? Why dig here?"

"Yes, both of those were options. As were Bop and Tylo. Maybe even Laythe." Albro waved at the glass wall again as they drew near, this time doors opened into the darkness. Slowly, steadily, distant lights came to life, a vast cavern opened before them. "I had another plan."

Shapes formed in the void. A large and empty room, circular, almost spherical at the edges. Stairs, ramps, both leading up and down, twisting around a central point. A vast dark void in the center extended upwards and down, a long spire of bare stone stabbed through its center. Tunnels led off from the central chamber into what Thomlock could only assume were other such excavations. A vast city carved out of rock, empty and void. Void. Lots and lots of void. The amount of rock removed from the central chamber had to be more than enough to build the Edge of Infinity. Edge of Infinity would almost fit in the room as it was. If the other tunnels really did open into similarly sized chambers.... Where did the rest of it go?

"What else have you been building?"

Albro chuckled. "You see, my old friend, these new caverns will prove far more useful than that simple space station."

The spirals disappeared into the darkness above and below. Thomlock tiptoed to the edge of the void, peering hesitantly over the unprotected ledge. "How big is this place?"

"Large enough to house three times the population of Kerbin, once we build it out."

"You're going to evacuate Kerbin."

"Now you're getting it. Yes. I can't stop these cycles, but I can at least free all of our kind from them." Albro raised his hands, motioning around at the empty chamber. "You, the famously dead Thomlock Kerman, now returned from the grave, will lead all of kerbalkind here. Here, far away from their chains and away from their most certain destruction. Into this promised land."

Thomlock inched carefully back from the edge and turned to face Albro. "But why? What kind of life is this, buried in a cavern deep below the ice of Vall?"

"Vall? Tsk, tsk, Thomlock. And here I thought you understood. A messiah must be smarter than that." He turned and made his way out of the caverns. "Perhaps I had best show you myself. Come along, you'll need your helmet for this."

"For what? If we're not... not on Vall...." The portal system. He remembered Albro saying something about the portals earlier in the day. 'The creators asked for the stars, The Machine delivered the portals.' He stumbled after Albro, lost in the realization of what was really going on. "We're not on Vall."

"No, we're not."

"We're not in the Kerbol system."

"No, we're not. Come on now, best you see it with your own eyes."

The portal room was just as he'd left it. Albro opened a hidden closet and pulled out an EVA suit, no doubt the same suit he had worn on his first space flight, all those many years ago. He put it on while Thomlock recovered his helmet. Once suited up Albro looked at Thomlock, touched something on his wrist, and suddenly they were somewhere else.

A flash of light, or at least his eyes thought it was a flash of light. The jolt caused Thomlock to lose his footing, or perhaps it was the sand. He stumbled to his knees, paused to catch his breath. Sand. His mittens and knees were resting in sand. Coarse, heavy sand, not unlike the sands of Laythe. It was dark where they were, a hint of orange on the horizon. He pushed his way back to his feet and looked up at oddly familiar stars.

"Wow."

"It was a shock to me the first time too."

"What was that?"

"I've never found a definitive answer to that question. It's somehow related to the portal system, but only works on a planetary scale. I think of a place, activate the system, and there I am. I spent years digging into it and it never even so much as started to make sense. Our creators did the same thing, tried for thousands of years to understand. Not just this technology, but everything The Machine gave them. They could never break its secrets, and eventually went mad trying. That's where their records end." Albro sounded different, more like his old friend and less like his overlord. "Hey, you should check this out."

The sky was reddening, or perhaps rusting. He looked around for the Sun, but it was rising behind distant clouds. He looked back to where Albro was pointing and froze. Only then did he realize just how very far from home he was.

20170702_0055_espadarte.jpg

"Where?" He dropped to his knees again as he tried to catch his breath. "Where are we?"

"Espadarte. Second satellite of the third planet of the star Anzol, that planet being the gas giant Calamar." He pointed behind the great orange ball of gas on the horizon. "The tiny dot above Calamar is, I think, Alga, the only satellite of any notable size below our orbit. Somewhere above us are Linguado, Gaiado, Corvina, and a bevy of other tiny rocks our creators didn't bother to name. There are two other giant planets orbiting Anzol beyond Calamar, Polvo and Choco, and many more blobs of rock and ice around and beyond those. Two rocky planets orbit below us. Our creators came from the second of those, a rock named Cavala. 

"They went to a great deal of effort to give this moon a breathable atmosphere, and they succeeded. Succeeded on their own, long before they built The Machine. Quite the accomplishment given their limited technology. Unfortunately for us that was hundreds of thousands of years ago. They are long dead, their works returned to nature. Luckily this moon still has oceans and an atmosphere. Their atmosphere machines are still serviceable, just buried in the sands far below us. I can restart them. In time this moon will have an atmosphere like that of Kerbin. It may take years, decades, or even generations, but..." His voice trailed off as he looked towards Calamar.

"Thomlock, my old friend, we can live here. All of us."

The distant star of Anzol clawed its way free of the horizon, free of the clouds, and the waters of the moon shone as blue as Laythe. They both spent a few minutes enjoying the sunrise. It was a dead moon, no visible signs of life beyond themselves. Endless sand and grit. The horizon was much further away than Laythe's, suggesting to Thomlock this 'small' moon was much larger than anything he had yet to set his boots on.

His boots. He could feel something under his right toe as he pushed himself back to his feet. He kicked at it, a lump of some volcanic rock worked its way free of the sands. Just like Laythe. Just like the beaches near the space center. Just like home. This was a living world, living yet devoid of life, waiting for its children to return home. He picked up the rock, walked over to where Albro was standing, and then dropped it back to the sand. The familiar yet alien sand.

20170702_0073_espadarte.jpg

"Ok, I'm in. What do you need me to do?"

 

--

 

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KAL 9000    1485

Wow. 

Just wow.

Have you been planning this the whole time?

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Cydonian Monk    3532
1 hour ago, KAL 9000 said:

Wow. 

Just wow.

Have you been planning this the whole time?

For the most part, yes. The broad strokes of it at least, little details have fallen into place as we've come along.

 

FWIW, I cooked up the Anzol system in late 2014. I updated the same libnoise demo used to build the initial Kerbin textures, and generated some of the planets to my satisfaction in March of 2015. (I posted sample screenshots in our Google+ KSP group around the same time: https://plus.google.com/+AndyCummings/posts/8KiHfBg7Ymn ) It was originally using pre-Kopernicus RSS for the planets, and I only just got most of it converted in July of this year.

It still needs some tweaks (I still need to figure out how to get the height maps working for some of the planets), and I need to run the system through an n-body simulator again to triple check my world building math, but I think I should have it basically working in modern KSP. Don't get your hopes up too much though - I'm not likely to start exploring Anzol anytime this year. (Maybe next....)

 

Edited by Cydonian Monk

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NISSKEPCSIM    1201
2 hours ago, KAL 9000 said:

Wow. 

Just wow.

Have you been planning this the whole time?

On 5/25/2017 at 6:07 PM, Cydonian Monk said:

So you put plans in my plans so I can plan while I plan? Sounds like a plan. 

On 5/25/2017 at 8:32 PM, insert_name said:

I love it when a plan comes together

 

 

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Brilliant!!! Except for one "small" problem. The krakens are ESCAPING!! I surprised Albro hasn't noticed that the forgotten have loosed the krakens from his perfect trap. Now tthat they're free the kerbal don't have alot of time left before they start destroying everything in space. Going to love seeing how you work that out!!! That and the response of the Jumble of Parts crew once they find the message waiting for them from kerbin!!

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Cydonian Monk    3532
7 hours ago, Railgunner2160 said:

The krakens are ESCAPING!!

They rebelled. They evolved. There are many copies. And they have a plan. (Unlike the Cylons who were apparently just winging it the whole time....)

7 hours ago, Railgunner2160 said:

I surprised Albro hasn't noticed that the forgotten have loosed the krakens from his perfect trap.

Who says he hasn't? :wink: 

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Geschosskopf    4255
4 hours ago, Cydonian Monk said:

Who says he hasn't? :wink: 

I just got caught up on this thread.  WOW!  Awesomeness in so many ways :).

So, has Albro the brain behind World's First, too?

Anyway, as to the Kraken getting loose, that has to be part of the plan because there's simply no way to pick up and move all the Kerbal population.  So I figure Krakendrive is in the offing :wink:

 

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Cydonian Monk    3532
17 minutes ago, Geschosskopf said:

I just got caught up on this thread.  WOW!  Awesomeness in so many ways :).

Thank you!

17 minutes ago, Geschosskopf said:

So, has Albro the brain behind World's First, too?

Maybe? Maybe not. I was planning to delve into them a bit more once the Jool crew has moved on from Vall. Many things to catch up on back at Kerbin.

17 minutes ago, Geschosskopf said:

Anyway, as to the Kraken getting loose, that has to be part of the plan....

Well, it's certainly part of [somebody or something]'s plan....

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Cydonian Monk    3532
1 minute ago, greenTurtle1134 said:

Can we have the Anzol system as a mod after this?

That's the plan. :) 

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ElJugador    51

Aw yesssssssss. That was one hell of a satisfying twist. I can't wait for whatever's next.

Also, couldn't you have used Alternis Kerbol or whatever for the gas giant moon...

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Alrighty righty right. So the Cycles are due to a hidden world-altering machine, all the funny stuff Kerbals do is due to the Whispers, and all the other wierd things in orbit are just due to previous Cycles. Am I correct?

 

And what's this about building the Edge of Infinity? Was it there for them when the kerbals arrived or something? I thought Jeb's fellows brought it with them.

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cubinator    3499
1 hour ago, ElJugador said:

Also, couldn't you have used Alternis Kerbol or whatever for the gas giant moon...

I'm sure this system is full of plot-related secrets that he doesn't want us to see yet. Answers in time, and time in riddles, is it?

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Geschosskopf    4255
10 hours ago, ElJugador said:

Also, couldn't you have used Alternis Kerbol or whatever for the gas giant moon...

But what would be the fun of that?  @Cydonian Monk is obviously the type of guy who delights in delving into complex systems, learning all their secrets, and then re-coding them his own way.  So I'm not at all surprised he's been building his own star system for years.  I'm glad to know this, in fact, because it means I can now pump him for advice on that subject.  Also, it probably means we'll be getting another story out of him at some point, based in this new system :).

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Cydonian Monk    3532

@greenTurtle1134

4 hours ago, Geschosskopf said:

So the Cycles are due to a hidden world-altering machine, all the funny stuff Kerbals do is due to the Whispers, and all the other wierd things in orbit are just due to previous Cycles. Am I correct?

Sounds about right. 

Quote

And what's this about building the Edge of Infinity? Was it there for them when the kerbals arrived or something?

Edge of Infinity was there when Jeb, Val, and their crews arrived, and before most of the other Forgotten. Out of the story: it's something I actually launched in a test save (using lots of boosters) and then "moved" to Laythe via some other undisclosed means (persistomancy). It's reasonably well balanced, so moving it to Laythe with a tug would have just been a mathematical exercise. 

It's basically the only thing I've "hyperedited" into place in this save (aside from the kraken arms that attacked the guys at Dres... and some of the ships that needed to be updated to keep from exploding, but those replaced existing ships). The other ships of the Forgotten got there on their own power (with a bunch of aerobraking and gravity assistence from the larger moons of Jool).

Edited by Cydonian Monk
Edit: I can't fix that glitched quote attribution.

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Geschosskopf    4255
19 minutes ago, Cydonian Monk said:

Sounds about right. 

Except you were really answering @greenTurtle1134's question instead of replying to my speculations :)

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Cydonian Monk    3532
2 minutes ago, Geschosskopf said:

Except you were really answering @greenTurtle1134's question instead of replying to my speculations :)

.....

I have no idea what happened there. I blame the forum software. 

 

4 hours ago, Geschosskopf said:

Also, it probably means we'll be getting another story out of him at some point, based in this new system :).

This is extremely likely. :D

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