Cydonian Monk

Forgotten Space Program

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, superstrijder15 said:

slight error here: is are

Late edit that wasn't proofread enough. Fixed now. Thanks!

Edited by Cydonian Monk

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Posted (edited)

Titanium Sky

"All we're saying is it's peculiar to assign all of us to The Mün while your crews get to use Copper Station. The lab situation here is unbelievably primitive, not to mention that we had to pack up and move some very delicate long-term experiments. These are things we could have left behind if our science team hadn't been sent to do maintenance and janitorial work."

Jonbald was rapping his knuckles on the edge of his desk. The call with Verly had been going on for too long, and he was silently questioning if he should have bothered keeping communications satellites in Münar orbit all these years. Or maybe he should've sent all the old crews to Dres instead. Of course Rosuki's kerbals would push back against his agenda. They weren't ignorant, and by now understood they had no parts to play going forward. It was nothing personal, really, just matters of business and trust. 

"Your concerns have been noted my dear. Now..."

"I'm not your anything, you old snot. Where's Rosuki? We haven't heard anything from here since she landed. Can you put her on instead?"

"No. Your boss is indisposed. As we've discussed repeatedly, until she recovers from her issues there is nothing..."

"Right, nothing more you can do except relay my concerns to her, blah, blah, blah. Look, we get it. You took over. It's your show. We can still work together, there's no reason to fight like this, but we at least need to be honest with each other."

Jonbald smiled, a gesture completely lost on a radio call. Honesty, of course. Why hadn't he thought of that. Obviously these kerbals would all play along perfectly nicely if he told them that he was planning to abandon them and fly off into the dark between the stars. 

"As I was about to ask before you interrupted me, what do you need to bring the Münar operations back to full capacity? Food, water, air, laboratory resources? How are your fuel reserves? Monoprop?" The call was empty and filled with static for a few moments, and it sounded as though Verly was shuffling around near her microphone.

"I'll have a full manifest sent back, but we could use another fuel depot, or at least a resupply for the ones we have. Especially if you're bringing a bunch of new landers out here to drink from our tanks."

"Done. Anything else?"

"No, that'll do for the immediate future."

"Good. Now if you'll excuse me I have some pressing matters to attend to prior to my launch. We'll continue this discussion once my teams and myself have transferred out to your station."

"Understood. Pequoni 2 Out."

He turned off the microphone and unplugged it. The handful of papers he had scattered across his desk were gathered up and returned to their file. The file itself was slipped into one of his desk drawers. His office door opened just as he closed and locked the drawer. The members of the Continuum Council walked in and closed the door behind them. Right on schedule. Cartina Kerman, former tourist and the public face of the Space Program, Munlin Kerman, monk and representative from the "The Order of Kerbin World-Firsts Record-Keeping Society", and of course Gene Kerman and Wernher von Kerman, his two most trusted advisors. They each took their place in seats opposite from him. Gene and Wernher were already wearing their flight suits.

"You two are certainly eager to go back up."

Gene answered in the affirmative and smiled. "Nothing like it."

"Indeed." Jonbald folded his hands and let them rest on his desk. "Shall we begin? The plan as it stands now is for our three teams to proceed directly to The Mün. Gene's team will land at the abandoned Pioneer Mün Base and prepare it for habitation, while Wernher and myself will land directly at the site. We expect this expedition to take no less than a full year to complete, excavation and repairs or recovery of the object included.

"As such, this will be our last face to face meeting for some time. Once we have secured the crash site, I do not intend to leave the craft or return to Kerbin until we have completed our objectives. Cartina, that will leave you in command of all operations here on the surface. You have proven yourself more than up to the task."

"Thank you."

"Munlin, you are welcome to remain at the Space Center or return to your order, whatever is needed. We will be in contact when we need your assistance or advice." The monk nodded, but did not answer. Typical. 

"Well then, let's get going. Three of us have a flight to catch." He chuckled and flashed a half-fake smile. No objections were raised, so he adjourned the meeting and bid Cartina and Munlin farewell. Gene and Wernher made their way back to the astronaut ready room.

Once they were gone he paced around his office one last time, making certain he was leaving nothing which would be needed on The Mün. His office was mostly just for appearances anyway, filled with the odd book and random assortment of broken tools, his attachment to anything "real" having been broken many cycles ago. He tried to remember what it was like, back when he was just a regular astrokerb. Landing on the Mün, assembling space stations with his hands and a few simple tools. He stared out of his window at the distant mountains and allowed his memories to wander. Had it really been so long ago?

When he turned back from the window he jumped at the sight awaiting him, one of the few times in his life he had been startled by anything. One doesn't expect to see three monks standing in the center of their own locked office. Unnerving, how they always appear out of nothing. Now that he thought about it, it was entirely possible Munlin hadn't left. Yet he was absolutely certain Archibald and this third, otherwise unknown monk were not there before.

"Archibald. My apologies, that was rather a shock you gave me."

"Good. Perhaps it will awaken you to the danger you face and divert you from the course you have set."

"And what course would that be?"

Archbald sighed. "We've been over this before. There is no need to twist your words, Jonbald, if that is who you still are. I have already given you a warning as a friend. Now I give you a warning as a gravely concerned monk, as a protector of Kerbin. If you insist on venturing to the crash on The Mün, if you attempt to recover it and use it to press your advantage, you will die."

"Is that so?"

"Yes. You are messing with things far beyond your understanding and control. Things deadlier than you have realized. For the sake of yourself and those under your command, turn back. Turn back now. This is the last warning I can give."

"And if I say no?"

"Then I bid you farewell, old friend."

Jonbald looked down at the floor under his feet, briefly considered the request. What were keeping from him? All he wanted was help Kerbin escape from its own gravity. To venture out into the void, sail between the stars, leave the cradle behind, all the usual desires of adventure and exploration. To return home. Their real home. To return to the stars. How could that be so terrible as to bring ruin to all of them? No, Archbald was not a murderer. The crash was not dangerous. He looked back up at his old fellow crewmate.

"Very well, your concerns have been noted. And I promise you they are unfounded. Everything will be perfectly all right, perfectly safe. You will see."

Archibald's eyes carried a heavy sadness, one not hidden by his faint smile. 

"So be it. I have tried, but you will not see reason."

"Oh, I see your reason perfectly clear. You are afraid I might expose your lies, your decades of manipulation. 'Worlds First' indeed. No, I will no longer play along with your game, whatever it is. Do give Rosuki my regards, won't you? And let her know her crews are asking after her."

"I will do as you ask. Goodbye, Jonbald."

"Likewise, my dear old friend. We'll talk again once I have finished my work on The Mün."

"I wish it could be so." 

Archibald bowed, as did the other two, and they retreated from Jonbald's office. Empty threats, veiled dangers. Shadows and whispers of shadows. Never a direct answer. Nonsense, all of it. He knew what to expect with the crash, he himself had been in the one up North. This one was no different, no more dangerous than a sleeping infant. He gathered his belongings, little as they were, and made his way through the astronaut complex to join Gene and Wernher in the ready room. It would be good to be back in null gravity. Up there, up where everything was perfectly safe. "Nothing like it," as Gene had said. Nothing like it indeed. 


--

Titanium Y-8

The craft rolled out to the launchpad over night, as had become standard for Titanium launches. It was just now finishing its fuelling, and the ground crews had moved the crew loading gantry into position. The Titanium Y-8 flight would be the fourth full mission for this Ti-Y1 spacecraft, quite possibly the most reuse any spaceplane had ever seen. Jonbald certainly couldn't remember any which had been to space and back four times. And this was to be another routine mission, just with a short year-long berthing for the Ti-Y1 at Copper Station as they all rode Irons out to The Mün. 

Kadun was once again piloting the craft, the flight computer once more directly commanding the ascent. Jonbald joined her in the cockpit, Gene and Wernher secured themselves into their seats in the passenger compartment. The ground crews rolled back the boarding gantry and gave the signal once they were clear of the blast zone. Jonbald watched Kadun work through the final pre-flight checklist with the controllers in MC-1. It was interesting to see the process from both sides, having witnessed the Titanium Y-6 launch from inside MC-1 and now the Titanium Y-8 from the inside. Once the checklist was complete, Kadun secured the clipboard, gave them all a thumbs up, and flipped a toggle switch on her flight console. The equivalent switch was soon flipped by a controller in MC-1, and the flight computer started counting down from 10. One final callout from their interim flight director, some motivational message Jonbald was too wired to remember, and off they roared.

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The launch was rather a bit louder than he had expected, especially for a single-engine craft. In all his previous flights the main engines had been at the far end of the rocket, separated entirely from the crew capsule. Nice, quiet rides, if a bit bumpy. He was trying to remember what his last launch was exactly. Obair 2? The mission to build Baile Speir and its hardened communications system? Most likely. Either way both it and his Mün mission launch aboard the Fios 3 were both much quieter and less turbulent than the Ti-Y-8. 

Maybe it was an effect of pushing their huge fuel reserves in front of the craft as they ascended? No, it was still a winged rocket, no matter where the fuel was. Center of mass was still in a properly engineer place, moving backwards as they burned through their fuel reserves. Just two wings and the most powerful single engine they could build. The turbulence became a rough shake as the craft passed through the sound barrier, then retreated back to just an annoyance.

"That's weird."

The remark was little more than a whisper in his headset. Jonbald glanced over at Kadun, hoping she would explain herself. That's when he noticed she wasn't wearing a helmet. No wonder he could barely hear her over the radio. Not many kerbals would be comfortable enough to ride a kerbal-built craft into orbit without a helmet firmly secured to their neck ring, but there she was. He'd picked a real winner; cavalier, borderline crazy, and right good pilot, and loyal to a fault. She tapped at some gauge on her console, trying to coax a better reading out of it. He flashed a question handsign at her, open palm facing and motioning upwards, asking what was up. 

"Off course slightly." She pointed outside to the left. "Might have something to do with...."

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It had happened fast, too fast. The ringing in his ears was louder than the bang which had preceded it. One second he was listening to Kadun, the next his helmet was pinned to the bulkhead to his right. The loud crack it gave off at impact was drowned out only by the sound of the universe ending. Outside he could see a cloud of thick vapour, its periphery burning a sickly orange colour. Inside, Kadun's neck was cocked at an odd angle, her body pulled to the very limits of her acceleration couch's straps. Her left hand somehow made its way back to the flightstick while her right clawed toward the switch to disengage the flight computer. 

The computer disengaged itself first, all its screens and alarms and alerts going dark at once. Only the manual and independent systems continued their assault on his senses. It was likely the computer had broken from the g-forces, or even the sheer violence of the event. The bang. The slap. The noise. The spin was lessening, Kadun's neck returning to its proper shape. Kadun absentmindedly finished her sentence while wrestling the craft into her control. 

"... Something to do with the shimmy we picked up at 5k ASL. What in the world was that?!"

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He could feel the g-forces subside as the violent tumble became a gentle drift, but his helmet was still stuck to the bulkhead. He could barely move. Acting without thinking he used his hands to release his straps, unlatch his helmet, and then slip free from his entangled headwear. His guts twisted when he saw why it wouldn't move.

A shard of some unknown debris had punctured the side of the cockpit, speared his helmet, and even slashed apart the right ear of his headset. It had missed his head by millimeters. Had he not been looking at Kadun... he didn't want to think about it. He pressed his feet up against the bulkhead and pulled his helmet free. Free from the grasp of his helmet, the shrapnel was shot out into memory, the pressure differential between the cockpit and the outside atmosphere propelling it at an incredible speed. A glob of the ship's self-healing gel quickly filled the V-shaped hole it left behind.

It was silent now, no engines or turbulence or other disturbances. They were in freefall. The ringing in his ears was starting to fade. The computer screens caught his eyes as they blinked and flashed back to life, showing their default boot message. "Advanced flight instruments for every conceivable occasion." They just as quickly went blank. For every occasion except this one, he thought. The helmet turned over in his hands, and he ran his fingers over the hole in its side. This elicited a surprised whistle from Kadun. 

"Close shot you took there hoss."

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Indeed. Too close. He shook his head to clear his thoughts. "Status?"

"Not good. At a guess I'd say the main engine exploded, taking the jets and our vertical stabilizers with it. Lots of dead systems back there, bunch of red lights on my board. Hydraulic systems are leaking, so we've probably got a big hole back there somewhere. The good news is we still have both wings, our elevators and ailerons work, and RCS is intact. At least the RCS up here at the front of the ship. The bad news is that won't matter much when we hit the ocean here in about four minutes."

"We can glide. Glide back to the space center."

"Not with the back half of the craft missing we can't. Too out of whack, too front-heavy. But I think I have enough control and RCS to keep our nose up high enough to make a splashdown survivable. At least for some of us. Maybe even get us near that island."

Jonbald slotted his helmet back onto his neck ring and latched it into place. They may not be going to space today, but he'd not want to be without it when they hit the water. Even with the giant hole in the back of it. He gave Kadun a thumbs up and passed her own helmet to her from behind the seat. She slotted it in and latched it without complaint. He motioned again to get her attention, unsure if his headset still worked.

"What do you need me to do?"

"Right now boss, the only thing you can do is get in the back, get strapped in, and let me wrestle this angry steer into the ocean."

"I'd be of more assistance up here. I'm a pilot too, you know."

"Not a very good one, sir. No offense."

"None taken. But I insist."

"You can insist for about thirty more seconds, after that I'll throw you back there myself. When we hit that ocean, these two front windshields are going to come flying into this cockpit at half the speed of sound, with a wall of water chasing after them like a bad shot of whiskey. We both know how that story ends, so no more arguments. Got it? Go, now."

He opened the hatch to the passenger compartment to find two scared faces looking back at him. Wernher's glasses were floating freely around inside of his helmet, having been knocked loose from the force of the explosion. Gene's eyes might have been doing the same, based on the dazed look. He turned to Kadun one last time, patted her on the shoulder, and started to say something before she interrupted. 

"Thank me when you swim up onto that island safe and alive. Now get going before we hit the soup." She shifted slightly in her seat as he turned and made his way into the rear cabin. "Sir? It's been a pleasure." 

"Likewise."

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Gene and Wernher both started speaking at the same time, talking over each other on the ship's main channel. He waved downwards to silence them, pointing towards the seats behind them and tapping at his headset while walking past. Wernher looked positively comical with his glasses bouncing around inside his helmet. Finally, once he was strapped in and ready, he asked them to speak slowly and repeat their questions.

They both spoke on top of each other again, but soon Wernher went quiet and Gene got in a coherent question.

"What happened?"

"Nothing good. Main engine exploded. We're going to hit the ocean, and hard. Kadun is going to try to glide us down as best she can. Splash land. Make sure you're strapped in." He checked his straps again before continuing. "Wernher, secure your glasses. Last thing we need is a half blind chief engineer with an eyepatch." His helmet was off and back on again in record time, after which Wernher tried to hand his spectacles back to Jonbald.

"What am I supposed to do with those? No, put them someplace you won't lose them. Someplace they won't get crushed." 

The turbulence was back. They had hit the soup, as Kadun had called it. It felt rougher than normal, the newly-jagged edges of the Titanium almost certainly to blame. Kadun would occasionally lose her wrestling match against the aircraft, causing the nose to drop down violently. Then they would be out of the dive and back to "gliding". At least she was keeping the craft falling in the same direction, and not challenging it into a flat spin. With no tail it would be easy to become a discus. 

The noise made him think the turbulence would rip the craft into shreds before they got anywhere near the ocean. The airframe must be in better shape than it sounded, the wings must still be fully intact. Otherwise the craft would be pulling to one side or the other. The noises were haunting. Low whistles that slowly climbed into higher frequencies as though they were accelerating downwards. He knew it was just the increasing air pressure and the holes in the hull whistling. Mocking them as they fell to their fates. Jonbald chuckled when he realized they had made the world's most expensive flying flute. 

No, this wasn't the time to laugh. Was the air mixture getting to him? Maybe. This was serious. Not funny. Serious. As serious as jumping out of a perfectly good spaceplane without a parachute. The idea scratched at the back of his mind. Parachute. Clawed at it. Parachute. Demanded an audience.

"Wernher?"

"Ja?" The fear in Wernher's voice was palpable. Shaky. Scared. Of course he was. He had every right to be.

"I've got an idea. Something new for you to work on when we get to the space center."

"It can wait?"

"Yes, I suppose it can. Just remind me later, okay?"

"Okay."

"Prepare for impact." Kadun, her voice projected forcefully into each of their ears. "Ten seconds to ocean." She counted down, maybe even skipping a number here or there. She said "seven" twice, or did she? He wasn't sure. Time stretched off into infinity, ten seconds became ten lifetimes. It all spread out before him, just as in all the movies and stories of near-death experiences. "Six." His first trips to the orbit. His mission to The Mün, landing alone. Baile Speir. "Five." The return to Kerbin after the program had gone silent. The police. The asylum. "Four." The new space program. The monks, older than even himself. The Orbital Sciences Division, his first project for Continuum. The North Pole Expedition. The crashed UFO. Working in the shadows for years. "Three." Kanawha, Elite and her crazy plans. Hiding in plain sight as a flight systems programmer, then a radio technician, then hiding in the north. "Two." Rosuki, the cataclysm, the purge, the Council. All of it. 

His stomach dropped suddenly, as though it had fallen clear through the rest of him and out onto the floor. Kadun had pulled the Titanium up hard one last time, the airframe screamed in protest. So this was it. Falling, broken, bloodied. Knocked right out of the Titanium Sky. His sky. He looked outside and saw nothing but water. Endless, infinite water.

"Brace! Brace!! Brace!!!"

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Nothing but darkness. Endless, infinite darkness.


====

End Kerbal Space Program v1.3.1.
 

--

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Edited by Cydonian Monk

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That was an amazing chapter

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Wait...They crashed right before the change...So they'll probably be dragging their tired feet over to the Space Center right into a program that has no idea they exist? Or has it been too long for me to remember what goes down when this happens?

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11 hours ago, fulgur said:

That was an amazing chapter

Thanks!

This was a story piece which I struggled with for quite some time as I wasn't sure how I wanted to handle it. I always knew it needed to get here, where Jonbald was denied space, but had so many different ideas on how to approach it. (Including some incredibly out-of-character actions from others, such as Rosuki flying one of Jonbald's old jets into the Titanium at launch, but ejecting herself and using a Vanguard parachute to land.) I eventually gave up and just launched him to orbit.

Except.... when I did that the launch failed after "Colliding with a Launch Clamp" at ~20km altitude. That fun old bug. So I said OK, went back and dressed it up, and rolled with what the game gave me.

Splashing down at the same island they almost landed on during the Ti-Y-5 reentry overshoot was not originally meant to be a bit of foreshadowing..... Otherwise I might have built more into it.

 

24 minutes ago, Kerballing (Got Dunked On) said:

so now the jump to 1.4.5, yes?

The next large batch of posts will be in v1.4.5, yes. I'm almost done with that, too, and expect to jump direct from v1.4.5 to v1.7.*.

 

5 minutes ago, cubinator said:

Wait...They crashed right before the change...So they'll probably be dragging their tired feet over to the Space Center right into a program that has no idea they exist? 

If they survived, yes. Any space program that forms naturally following this event would not know Jonbald (or previous instances of Gene and Wernher) existed. Cartina is still there, of course..... and Rosuki is on the loose. 

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, Cydonian Monk said:

This was a story piece which I struggled with for quite some time as I wasn't sure how I wanted to handle it. I always knew it needed to get here, where Jonbald was denied space, but had so many different ideas on how to approach it. .... 

Except.... when I did that the launch failed after "Colliding with a Launch Clamp" at ~20km altitude. That fun old bug. So I said OK, went back and dressed it up, and rolled with what the game gave me.

This story has so many ghosts and has long since gathered such a following that its own brand of deities have sprung into existence, just as happened on the Street of the Gods in Fritz Lieber's "Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser" series.  Thus, there are the Fates (Hates?) of the Forgotten Space Program, who dispense this sort of karma when necessary.  This is a singular honor.  Take a bow :D ..  And then blame it on teleporting monks planting a bomb....

 

Quote

If they survived, yes. Any space program that forms naturally following this event would not know Jonbald (or previous instances of Gene and Wernher) existed. Cartina is still there, of course..... and Rosuki is on the loose. 

Well, there's always hope they didn't.  Except Kadun.  A good soldier and a good hand in a tight spot.  Expendable as all good soldiers are, but tight spots will continue to occur so it's good not to expend them wastefully.  I wish her Kalhalla or a chance to finish what this explosion started, or both.

Edited by Geschosskopf

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My question is what happens to Jonbald, Wernher, and Gene since they're stuck on Kerbin... will they get reset? Will they become Forgotten?

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31 minutes ago, Angel-125 said:

My question is what happens to Jonbald, Wernher, and Gene since they're stuck on Kerbin... will they get reset? Will they become Forgotten?

First thing to wonder about is whether they even survived that crash...

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, cubinator said:

First thing to wonder about is whether they even survived that crash...

Could be that they didn't and Rosuki & Co. will have to re-appropriate the pieces of Continuum infrastructure.

Houston, we've got a cliffhanger.

Edited by GearsNSuch

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11 hours ago, Angel-125 said:

My question is what happens to Jonbald... will they get reset? Will they become Forgotten?

While, yes, we need first ask if they survived, the answer to this question is simple: Jonbald himself has not been to space since (probably) KSP v0.20.2. He returned to Kerbin at some point after that, likely v0.21.1 as I cleaned up and rescued quite a few stranded kerbals from the same save in that version. So he has already been through a great many Cycles on Kerbin, all without being reset. 

 

13 hours ago, Geschosskopf said:

This story has so many ghosts and has long since gathered such a following that its own brand of deities have sprung into existence,

It certainly has its fair share of haunted corners. I'm not sure I can ever get near Kelgee Station again.... And so many of the landed craft have "legs" that have been through so many different reinventions of the wheel that they either don't work, don't exist, or have become phantom-motion pogo sticks.

I gave brief consideration to "rebuilding" a few of the set pieces for the v1.7.* migration (as I had to do in either v1.1.3 or v1.2.1 for the Jool Jester just to get the nukes to work), as useful things such as rigid attach and resource transfer rules have been introduced in the years since many of these were launched. I then decided against it after I found that autostruts do in fact work again, and don't turn craft into balls of spaghetti like they once did. So the ghosts and eldritch deities get to stick around. (Yay?) I'll probably end up fixing a few other engines, but in most cases I can do that with KAS/KIS and an army of behind-the-scenes kerbals.

In a way it'll be interesting to see what new bugs crawl out of the woodwork. Ex: What happens to things assembled using KAS/KIS across three different major versions? (Really old pre-split KAS, previous KAS/KIS, and new KAS/KIS.) I'm _still_ stumbling on the odd ModuleManager bug from back when it had a couple nasty glitches. And there are some really, really old RemoteTech nodes and stuff that amusingly started working again in v1.4.5 for Kraken knows what reason. And I've noticed there seems to be a runaway resource node problem with Asteroids, where suddenly all of my captured and spawned asteroids have a couple hundred sets of resources (hence the massively increased save file size I mentioned a while back).

Ghosts at every corner!

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Posted (edited)

Interlude - Course Correction

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The crew of the Jool Jester (and the rest of the stack) had been talking about their drift problem for some time. None were sure exactly what was causing it, possibly a leak in an external tank or some otherwise unexplained anomaly, but its effects were obvious. Several of Maclie's crew had already inspected the exterior of the ship, but nothing obvious had been identified. It wasn't too serious of a drift at present, but they would need to make a number of tiny course corrections if they were going to hit the target for their big plane-change burn near Duna's orbit. And they'd need to make that burn if they ever wanted to see Kerbin again.

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And Kerbin? That was much more than a year away. Almost a year and a half. And Jool was already 260 days behind them. Agake couldn't quite wrap her head around how kerbals could live this far out. Out here where everything took years or even decades to reach. Want to go to Jool? That's a seven year commitment. Eeloo? Even more. Dres? That trip that will take the rest of your life. Anything else? Your kids might make it if you don't. Don't like living in a tin can? Tough. Realize you made a mistake when you signed on with the space program? Too late. Wish you hadn't snagged that delicious looking snack which turned out to be the bait for a trap? Too bad. Or maybe that was what the mystery goo was thinking. 

Thankfully she had a large number of research samples and experiments to help her stave off the space madness. And several of the more science-leaning members of the Jool Jester crew and other Forgotten were willing to help, and always there for her to bounce ideas off of. That Bob kerbal was usually helpful, if you could ignore his occasional odd idea about the monoliths and other peculiarities of the Kerbol System.

And then there was the shard.

Agake had her face buried deep in one of her samples when the ringing tone returned. At first she mistook it for another of the tiny course correction burns, but jumped when she caught the green glow from the edge of her vision. The shard. The exorem sample. It always emitted a pleasant and soft noise, a perfect note. The same note. The first time they had heard it was on Bop, near the monolith. She couldn't remember much about Bop, just this pleasant sound, that her rock hammer had broken, and that she somehow now had this translucent and softly glowing shard in a sample container.

Just as the many times before, the glow started out a faint green, and grew more intense just as the volume of the tone increased. She keyed the microphone on the shipwide intercom system before the glow got any stronger. 

"It's doing it again!"

Macfred and Thomlock came floating into the Sulphur first, followed by a couple of the others. Agake unsecured the container holding the shard and let it float free in the middle of the cabin. Thomlock stabbed at it with his finger, setting it into a spin with a simple flick. 

"Interestring toy you've got here, kid."

Macfred squinted his eyes at Thomlock and stopped its rotation. The shard inside bounced off of the edges, transferred some of its momentum into Macfred, but continued spinning along one of its axes one it had stabilized. 

"How many times is this?"

"Five, since we left Jool. No obvious pattern to the timing between the events just yet." 

Thomlock cleared his throat. 

"So, we all remember what I was talking about, right?"

She gave him a thumb's up affirmative, that tiny bit of non-verbal communication she'd picked up from The Forgotten. Many of the others crammed into the tiny cabin did the same. Macfred didn't, still holding on to his unshakable belief in radio, and repeated what their older shipmate had said. This launched the two back into the dialog interrupted the previous time the shard's glow had died out.

"Yes. Albro has been using the systems under his control to run experiments on the kerbals back on Kerbin."

"Exactly. Each cycle he set up different government styles, different economic systems, different religions, and so on. Trying to find the best fit for our society so it can survive in this cave system he's built on Espadarte. Or, more importantly, to find the ones which don't work so he can exclude those from his model."

"Right."

"And, since the lot of you can remember me telling you that, it means he can't hear us while this weird green thing is doing its, well, its weird green thing, and can't access our memories after the fact."

"Because otherwise he would've used the whispers to erase it from our memories."

"Bingo. Same way he lured me into that thing on Vall. You know, I almost believed him when he said he wanted to save all of kerbalkind, but something just didn't add up. I don't trust this guy. I didn't trust him when we were rookie astrokerbs in the same space program, and I certainly don't trust him now. If he was so obsessed with saving all of us, he wouldn't have killed millions with these experiments. See, I think his real purpose is something far more sinister, and that we're in the way somehow. I think he's obsessed with these beasts he's trapped at Dres."

"The Kraken."

"One and the same. Or many and the same, I guess. And if that's the case, if all he wants to do is eradicate them once and for all, well, I don't know that he'll care too much what happens to us mere mortals once he's done. I certainly don't think sending everyone on Kerbin through the local exits to Espadarte, wherever they are, is as good an idea as he makes it out to be."

Agake shook her head. "If the kerbals living on Kerbin are the only impediment, why hasn't he just killed all of us? If he has the power to build space stations and move rocks around to trap his pests, then he has easy enough ways to wipe out all life on Kerbin."

"What makes you think he hasn't tried? I think that's part of The Park's design. Somebody kills all of us off, it just makes more. Somebody makes too many of us, it just recycles a few to keep the balance. Remember, we were just toys to these self-anointed gods who built us.

Plus, I think these guys," he raised his arms to indicate the rest of the crew, "and all the rest of us stranded wayward souls are somehow in the way. And maybe beyond his reach or his absolute control. The more worlds we get stranded on, the more of us end up Forgotten, maybe he loses just that much more control."

"Ok, so what then? We can't trust him enough to go to his moon, and we can't stay here without him meddling in everything. Do we just wait for him to give up and die of severe old age?"

"Hey, we're the same age, me and him. Only I was in hibernation for 95 years and he doesn't look all that much worse for wear. I don't think waiting him out is an option."

"So what then?"

"I don't know exactly. Maybe we move everyone to space. Live in big spinning shelters like dandelions seeds floating on the breeze. I have no idea how many we would need to move every kerbal off planet, but I'm guessing it'd take most of our lifetimes just to get a millionth of them into orbit anyway. So that's probably out of the question. And to be honest, I'm not really sure how this plan of Albro's to get all of us to Espadarte will work either. Seems like a huge undertaking just to find all these old broken portals and fix them, and then we'd have to move millions of kerbals through them. The logistics just don't make sense. 

"No, we need something else. And maybe it's too big for just us. We're talking a planetary-scale engineering project here. If he's serious about this, and it's not just some ruse to get us to flip some switch he can't reach that allows him to do whatever it is he really wants, I don't see how me, the four of us, this entire crew, or everyone we've ever known could somehow make it work."

The shard was dimming, its perfect note was becoming faint and distant. Thomlock held the sample container and watched intently as the bright green receded back towards its dull translucence. The green of it reflected in his eyes while its soft spin sent waves of light across his face.

"No matter what we do, I think it's time we stopped running. Changed course. Took the fight to him. And we've got several hundred days to think up ways to do just that."

 

--

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Edited by Cydonian Monk

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Dun... dun.... dunnnnnnnn!

An amazing chapter, as per usual.

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Curiouser and curiouser.  Trying to figure this out, it seems to me that something or somebody knows what Albro's up to and doesn't like it, so is trying to help the Forgotten thwart him.  But amongst the known players on the field, which of them can manipulate the Shard?  So maybe this is all a coincidence?  Like the Shard's random manifestations are just a lucky side effect of its own internal vibrations reaching transient harmonics, or that it somehow resonates when the Queen of Space Madness plays a certain song on the radio?

In any case, I blame the vibrations of the Shard for the drift of the ship ;) 

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Nice to see Thomlock and crew still kicking! Now I wonder what that shard is all about. Reminds me a bit of an old TV series called Defying Gravity...

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Posted (edited)
14 hours ago, fulgur said:

An amazing chapter, as per usual.

Thanks!

 

6 hours ago, Geschosskopf said:

But amongst the known players on the field, which of them can manipulate the Shard? 

None of them. Something else to consider with this interlude - it takes place between KSP v1.3.1 and KSP v1.4.5. Six version bumps.... six cycles. And they left Jool at v1.2.2, so eight total cycles in there..... Assuming the Shard events are actually cycle changes in the first place. (Hint - they are.)

6 hours ago, Geschosskopf said:

So maybe this is all a coincidence?  Like the Shard's random manifestations are just a lucky side effect of its own internal vibrations reaching transient harmonics, or that it somehow resonates when the Queen of Space Madness plays a certain song on the radio?

You reading my notes now? ;) Ok, so it's not that simple. 

Quote

In any case, I blame the vibrations of the Shard for the drift of the ship ;) 

I'd blame a kerbal riding on a ladder, but near as I can tell they're all inside. Must be some other source of phantom motion, so the Shard is as good an excuse as any. 

 

3 hours ago, Angel-125 said:

Nice to see Thomlock and crew still kicking! 

Hard to forget about these guys. Someday they may even make it back to Kerbin! :) 

Quote

Reminds me a bit of an old TV series called Defying Gravity...

I'd forgotten that show even existed. I remember watching it on ABC, and not being overly disappointed when it got canceled early... but 2009 is something of a shadowy year in my memory. I should go track it down on a streaming service somewhere. 

 

--

In other news, I've just (as of last night) finished the last of everything I needed in KSP v1.4.5. There are some set pieces and staging and whatnot I need to do to get a couple screenshots for the end of this upcoming Sequence, but otherwise I'm done with v1.4.5 forever. (Yay!) And I _think_ I have a working install for Forgotten in v1.7.3, but I need to swap some parts in the persistence files with the old ones, because honestly? The new art on the new parts makes many of these old ships look worse. 

As of now, Scrivener tells me Forgotten Space Program has exceeded 200,000 words. (202,585 to be precise.) Some of those are hyperlinks to images (of which there are ~1,640), and I've excluded from the compilation things like storyboarding, discarded plots/posts, research, character notes and whatnot, so I think it might actually be over 200k. That's quite a few words!

Edited by Cydonian Monk

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23 minutes ago, Cydonian Monk said:

In other news, I've just (as of last night) finished the last of everything I needed in KSP v1.4.5. There are some set pieces and staging and whatnot I need to do to get a couple screenshots for the end of this upcoming Sequence, but otherwise I'm done with v1.4.5 forever. (Yay!) And I _think_ I have a working install for Forgotten in v1.7.3, but I need to swap some parts in the persistence files with the old ones, because honestly? The new art on the new parts makes many of these old ships look worse. 

I envy your ability to do such surgery ;) 

23 minutes ago, Cydonian Monk said:

As of now, Scrivener tells me Forgotten Space Program has exceeded 200,000 words. (202,585 to be precise.) Some of those are hyperlinks to images (of which there are ~1,640), and I've excluded from the compilation things like storyboarding, discarded plots/posts, research, character notes and whatnot, so I think it might actually be over 200k. That's quite a few words!

Not to mention all the words of code to keep patching this old save limping along.  And building a whole Principia-friendly solar system.  Anyway, quite an accomplishment, especially given the high entertainment value.  Bravo!

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A Note from the Author: Advance Reading Suggestions

This next Sequence will revisit characters we've not seen in more than three years. (June of 2016.) It should've been sooner, which is entirely my fault. I always wanted to get back to this crew but kept getting distracted by shiny things.

Since you kind readers are often (and rightly) wondering how anyone in their right mind could keep track of the where/why/how/who's, I figured I'd give you advance notice and a list of posts to freshen up your memories. Without spoiling too much, of course. Just gentle nudges towards these chosen words. I'll leave it to you to find the correct words in the following list of posts. :)

And hopefully you'll enjoy this next little bit, Sequence 8, which marks the last Sequence of Volume 2. It was quite a bit of fun to play through and an enjoyable Sequence to write.  I plan to have the first part of this next sequence posted either tomorrow or Wednesday. But for now I'll leave you with these six links:


https://forum.kerbalspaceprogram.com/index.php?/topic/126972-forgotten-space-program/&do=findComment&comment=2476516

https://forum.kerbalspaceprogram.com/index.php?/topic/126972-forgotten-space-program/&do=findComment&comment=2507529

https://forum.kerbalspaceprogram.com/index.php?/topic/126972-forgotten-space-program/&do=findComment&comment=2514827

https://forum.kerbalspaceprogram.com/index.php?/topic/126972-forgotten-space-program/&page=29&tab=comments#comment-2649348

https://forum.kerbalspaceprogram.com/index.php?/topic/126972-forgotten-space-program/&page=40&tab=comments#comment-2791863

https://forum.kerbalspaceprogram.com/index.php?/topic/126972-forgotten-space-program/&page=35&tab=comments#comment-2708845


Are you ready?

20180807_ksp0469_MoT.jpg

Cheers,

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Oh boy more background reading! :D And that shot of Duna... o.o I don't even remember what space station that is, if we've even seen it yet at all.

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4 hours ago, Cydonian Monk said:

This next Sequence will revisit characters we've not seen in more than three years.

It was good to revisit those ghosts, including 2 of my favorites, the Queen of Space Madness and her consort, He Who Wields the Shovel.  Can't believe it's been so long a time, both in this world and theirs.  Ghosts are assets nearly as valuable as living enemies.  The latter make you stronger, the former are brakes on your hubris on many different levels, or at least are your best way of keeping tabs on boon companions long gone.  I look forward to communing with all these spirits in coming updates.

Also, Kerbin's atmosphere in that last pic looks rather like the sky over 1970s Los Angeles. where and when the word "smog" was invented as I well remember from having lived then and there.  My side and rear teeth still bear the scars of their stunted development as a result.  I thus find it easy to assume that nothing good has happened on Kerbin during the last few resets.

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Posted (edited)
5 minutes ago, Geschosskopf said:

Also, Kerbin's atmosphere in that last pic looks rather like the sky over 1970s Los Angeles where and when the word "smog" was invented.... I thus find it easy to assume that nothing good has happened on Kerbin during the last few resets.

Nothing good indeed. So bad that it lost all its water, dyed its hair red, and moved out of its parents house to become the fourth planet. ;)

I kid of course, because that's Duna.

 

Edited by Cydonian Monk

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Just now, Cydonian Monk said:

I kid of course, because that's Duna.

Well, that's disappointing.  I figured that was a portent of Bad Things of literary value.  Now it's just a milepost on the Forgotten Highway.

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19 minutes ago, Geschosskopf said:

Well, that's disappointing.  I figured that was a portent of Bad Things of literary value.  Now it's just a milepost on the Forgotten Highway.

Oh, Kerbin will get its due.....

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That ship looks like a cross between a derelict space station and a modern interplanetary explorer. Oh wait, that's because it is.

The Memory of Speir! No, wait that sounds awful. Baile Tomorrow? That sounds like the madkerbs are in jail. Um...

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