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Voyage - The Final Warning (Interlude III - A Brief History of Galactus The Cow)

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  • 4 weeks later...

Interlude III - A Brief History of Galactus The Cow

The following is retelling of the first three and a half "Galactus The Cow" comic books I wrote several years ago, edited to be canon compliant. I liked the character enough that I brought him into Voyage, although the name is originally from an unrelated Minecraft Let's Play series.


"How much do you want to hear?"

"How much time do we have?"

"Hmm, good point. So there I was - Just an ordinary cow out on Planet Pock! Oh, to be ordinary again... On Planet Pock, with the wonderful green continents, blue riv-ceans, brown mountains, pink forests... That was centuries ago, I barely remember much of my life, only that I missed it... But then one day there was a giant meteor. Probably more like a moon, honestly."

"A moon just came out of nowhere?"

"Well probably not, but I'm not into astrology, how would I know?"

"Astrology? I think you mean - "

"Oh, right, Astral Projection. ANYWAY, I saw the meteor moon thing coming... I named it Ted. And then I realized that Ted wanted a hug, but unfortunately he's so big that I was like "Oh no, Ted is gonna kill us aaaaalllllll!" and ran to my shed to escape Ted."

"Why the shed?"

"Well, what instead?"

"So you tread ahead to the shed to escape Ted."


"Why the shed?"

"You see, I had this wonderful plan! I had TNT in my shed."


"Why should I know? Anyway, I quickly assembled a makeshift TNT powered rocket."

"In such a short time?"

"Well, it wasn't much to look at. I made a metal cylinder, stuffed it with TNT, slapped some random yellow triangles on as fins, borrowed a steering wheel, slapped a nose cone on, and tied a chair to it. But, before I could finish it, a spark from my lamp lit the fuse without me noticing."

"Random yellow triangles?" I asked.

"You're more concerned about him having random triangles than building a makeshift rocket in several minutes?"

"So anyway, I was tied to the rocket, and it took off as I was looking through my tool box. It yanked me up into the air rather violently, but that was for the best because Ted gave Planet Pock a hug right then. Everything went all explodey and when I looked back, Planet Pock was gone."

"I'm so sorry."

"I miss it sometimes, but I've had centuries to come to terms with that. Anyway, so I'm out in space, and - "

"How high was the gravity on planet Pock?"

"Oh, maybe a tad under a g."

"How could you have possibly reached space on board a rocket powered by TNT?"

"I dunno. All the scientists say it was impossible.  But they say a lot of things about me are impossible. Anyway, so I'm out in space, I'd just managed to climb in to my seat, when I see a crack, and the rocket straight up EXPLODES. So now I'm REALLY out in space, alone, and I bounce off of this random satellite - "

"Did Pock have a space program?"

"Nope, but I'm fairly sure I bounced off a satellite. And then, after that, I faceplanted into a moon."

"And survived?"

"Well I'm here, aren't I? Stop interrupting! To my left I see a crashed UFO, and then I fell into this hole and fell for five minutes... I land in a pile of cheese, and meet these green aliens who give me this translator!" Galactus showed us the translator around his neck. "Able to translate into any language. They seemed to know all about me already, and told me that in order to save my planet, I need to find the Magic Boulder."

"Oh yeah, I think Jeb told us about that briefly."

"But before they could tell me more, the aliens went to the bathroom to vomit. Apparently they are actually red, but turn green when they need to throw up."


"That's exactly what I thought! So they say "We are the defenders of the cheese moon" or something and tell me that the Magic Boulder is a work of the ancients that allows the user to travel through time. Sort of."

"Wait, don't we have time travel technology already?"

"Well, yes, and no. Half of the people say "Hey we should use it" and the other people say "Hey we shouldn't" but the "Hey we shouldn't" people just use their time machines to undo everything that the "Hey we should" people do. Which isn't much, it takes exponentially more power to go back through time a ton, trips very far back would require far too much energy. ANYWAY, all that is moot because I would later find out that the Boulder's time travel technology is very, very limited, it's less "Time Travel" and more "Bring a destroyed planet back from the dead into the present" or something like that. The details are very, very sketchy."


"The boulder, however, was well hidden, they said. They tell me that on the planet below there is this pig named Phil the Pig who can help me. They also tell me to fear the Yhugoslavakianos."

"I didn't know the Yugoslavians had a space program."

"No, Yhugoslavakianos, not Yugoslavians. So they tell me I can use their escape cannon. To get into it, I had to use anti gravity, and then I got fired to the planet below."

"You survived a planet explosion, a rocket explosion, bouncing off a satellite at orbital speeds, crashing into a moon, falling into cheese, and launching from a cannon in the space of under an hour?"

"Closer to half an hour."


"I HAVE NO IDEA!" he cackled. "So anyways - Sure you don't want any nachos? No? Ok. So anyways, I re entered the atmosphere and landed in a parking lot, next to a fast food restaurant. I'm kidnapped and taken to some sort of farm, where I coincidentally met Phil the Pig. What are the odds?"

"Probably not good."

"So I tell him I'm looking for the Magic Boulder, and he says that he had information but lost it on the planet Mycelium. So you know what we did?"


"We built another rocket!"

"Was it with a more sensible fuel?"

"Nope, still TNT. But hey, at least we had a windshield this time! Phil had an Anti-Lab below the farm's barn, and we got to work on TNT 02."


"It's like a lab but it sounds cooler! There were a number of upgrades over the last one. It was more structurally sound, had two integrated seats, we switched the fins from random yellow triangles to curved blue sheet metal spikes, and we painted flames on the front. Five zentongs later, we were ready."

"I have a question."

"How would we launch without being noticed?"

"No, that was not my question."

"Glad you asked, Phil pressed his volcano button."

"Is that a codename?"

"Yes, it's code for "That button that raises a giant fake volcano from the underground." Very convenient."

"How would that help?!?!?!?!?!?"

"Distraction!!! So we were about to launch, and then this giant several hundred foot tall green alien with eyestalks shows up, rips off a giant chunk of the giant fake volcano and shouts "OALBOALBOLABOLABOLABOLACHIA!" and starts towards the barn."

"Why was he there?"

"I have no idea! So we got in, lit the fuse, and launched! Control was a bit dicey at first, we blew up the barn and did a loop the loop, but flew right through the chunk of volcano in the alien's hand!"


"Yes! I was very glad we added a windshield."

"You couldn't have made it far, TNT can't have a very high specific impulse at all!"

"Well we made it pretty far, and I'm glad we did. That was a GREEN alien, remember? Imagine the vomit!"

"So what happened after you crashed back down?"

"What do you mean? After we launched, we flew past this gas giant with an ice moon, but we were running low on TNT so we stopped at a gas station."

"There was a random gas station that sold TNT out in the middle of nowhere? You made it to another planet with TNT? AGAIN?"

"There were two gas stations, one was cheaper! So anyway, we got supplies, and they upgraded us to Premium TNT free of charge! We also got a GPS."

"They have GPS in space?"

"Galactic Positioning System. So then we flew for a bit, and ended up at Infinity City, a giant space city, where we stayed at a hotel. Then we went to Nelson's Military Surplus Store, he's a cool dude."

"Military? I thought nobody else was violent!"

"Hey, I know what I saw! They all think I'm crazy, but well... I mean I guess I'm pretty crazy... But I know what I saw, alright! So we refueled there, got some rocket launchers, and crossed the Infinity line!"

"What's that?"

"It's kinda like a wormhole, but more liney. But then, we were attacked by space pirates!"

"There are space pirates? Isn't the galaxy supposed to be peaceful?"

"Again, I know what I saw, I swear! Luckily, those rocket launchers came in handy. But then we noticed we had a stowaway, Franny the Frog!"

"So Galactus the Cow, Phil the Pig, and Franny the Frog now?"


"Those are all human animals."

"Well obviously not. Evolution often trends towards similar designs..."

"Intelligent frogs?"

"Yes! So she is like uber smart and fixes up the ship for us, and makes some improvements. I don't remember the specifics, but I think that she was able to get the specific impulse up to like 900 or something."

"For TNT? Impossible!"

"Oi, this was Premium TNT! So then we get to talking. Franny the Frog tells me that her homeworld was destroyed by those Yugo guys, and joins us on the quest to find the Magic boulder so we can restore both of our planets."

"This sounds like a comic book a middle schooler would write."

"So we get to Mycelium, and it's this giant planet with brown terrain, some blue oceans and rivers, a giant war-torn wasteland, and this GIGANTIC mushroom that leads up into space, with a city beneath it. The legend was that this mushroom was created by the Great Wizard Ladstini eons ago."

"...A war torn wasteland?"

"I know what I saw, I'll say it again!"

"So much war... So the humans... Aren't unique in their ways of violence?"

"I mean, they've found four others."

"But we're at several already!"

"I. Know. What. I. Saw. Anyway, major design flaw, TNT 02 has no landing gear. And we ran out of fuel. So we skid across the top of the mushroom for a few minutes, not slowing down much, before plummeting off the side into the war torn wasteland. We survived, but poor TNT 02 was wrecked... HOWEVER, we ended up crashing near the site of a buried relic. We dug for a bit, and we ended up finding this ancient golden mushroom with an inscription. It said that it was Ladstini's research on the Magic Boulder, but the actual stuff was untranslatable, it was such an old language! So we were going to find a translator."

"That's sensible."

"BUUUUT then one of those red aliens from the cheese moon from earlier shows up in a weird rocket and says "Hey we're actually the bad guys, give us the relic" and apparently Franny is actually their queen! She steals the relic, threatens us, and leaves with those guys, who actually turned out to be the Yugo guys. So now we're stranded in a war torn wasteland, with no TNT, no relic, and apparently the mushroom monsters come out at midnight. Then, this giant sphere with the words "Depth Sphere 3" or something shows up in the sky, no idea what happened to the first two."

"The Death Star?"


"What the hell is the Death Star doing in reality?"

"You know what the Death Star is?"

"Yeah, it's like the best known superweapon in all of human fiction."

"OH!!!! THIS IS BIG! So Franny's device also pulled from human fiction! And this was thousands of years ago… so… Future fiction??? Wait, I'm getting ahead of myself... So later we found out that Franny and the Yugos had come up with this device that could gather all of the greatest villains from fiction and history in one spot, in reality. There were hundreds, but there was this "Dark Invader" dude who built the Depth Spheres, and maybe a green clump of moss in a trash can, I don't remember."

"Darth Vader and Oscar the Grouch?"

"Prime Evil! And she gathered them all in an attempt to take over the universe!"

"Wait... Like The Species?"

"No, nothing like The Species. So they try to fire the Depth Sphere, but it doesn't work. Anyways, we're stuck on Mycelium, surrounded by junk, and then we see this volcano."

"Another volcano?"

"Yes. So, we are like "Hey we could use this as a cannon to get back to the city" and we build a spaceship cannon projectile out of old war machines, mainly a tank and a mecha, but then we find out that this volcano is actually extremely powerful, and it launches us SUUUPER far. Like the mushroom cloud from the volcano ends up bigger than the giant mushroom from the city. A lot of the lava reached escape velocity!"

"I'm pretty sure that's also impossible!"

"Well obviously not. But we were on a sub orbital trajectory So we waited until near apoapsis and fired shells out of the tank cannon to circularize our orbit."

"Well at least it's more sensible than TNT!"

"Meanwhile, Dark Invader is building more Depth Spheres in pocket dimensions but they keep failing, so Franny goes to Trash Moss for plan B. By this point, we found a space station. We met a guy who traded us the tank for a spaceship, and a promise that we restore three more worlds when we found the boulder. By complete coincidence, it was an extremely high tech, advanced TNT rocket, with seats just right for us, that looked the same as the other ones stylistically."

"This is an awful lot of coincidence."

"So anyway, Dark finally got the Depth Sphere working after like 80 thousand tries, and tires to destroy Mycelium, but the laser beam hits a giant mirror at a mirror shop, ricochets for a while, and destroys the Depth Sphere."


"Well, you see... I don't know."

"You don't know?"

"I must have had some memories erased at some point... The next thing I remember, Phil is breaking me out of some place, and then it explodes and whatnot. He fills me in on what he remembers, basically, there was a lot of battles, lots of adventures, and when I got out of it we were on TNT 12. Franny's empire was crumbling, we retrieved the artefact, and apparently the translation said that Ladstini was somewhat fascinated with the boulder himself, apparently it was extremely, extremely old. It was a legend in his time! We had also found Phil's old notes, and a few other leads. The boulder, it seemed, had the power to restore planets at any phase of their life, or a mixed phase, but the planets had to be destroyed or disfigured. A curious being known as "The Sentinel" also supposedly watched over it. But really we weren't able to find out much more."

"No location hint?"

"Minor hints, but they were mostly speculation and led nowhere. Also, we never found Phil's planet again. We couldn't even find Mycelium again after a certain point. So Phil and I went on more adventures, trying to find the boulder... But after a certain point, well..."


"We gave up.  Phil left the crew somewhere around TNT 200 or so. Last I talked to him, he was extremely depressed. The man had lost everything. Many years later, after I had been unable to even locate Phil's star system, I found the Galactic Council. I told them all I knew, but they were far more excited about "Hey a new species! Let's make him a representative!" than finding the boulder. They all think I'm either crazy or a comedian putting on an act."

"So nobody believes you?"

"What part of the whole story I just told you sounds believable?"

"Good point... So wait. You found the council very late on? The Yugos weren't part of it? Nor was Franny?"

"Nope. We thought they could have been in the uncharted portions of the Galaxy. We still haven't charted everything, but we've checked most of it and haven't found much."

"Did you find anything at all?"

"Well, we found you lot. But no Pock. No Mycelium. No evil frogs. No Depth Spheres. No Phil. No Infinity Lines. Nothing. They still humor me, I guess, and at least act like they are seriously considering my stories... Do you believe me?"

"I... I don't know."

"I figured. But please remember... I know what I saw. I am sane. Maybe not perfectly sane. But sane. Alright?"

"I can believe that." Evelina nudged me and passed me her tablet.




===>[+] Galactic Union of Planets Species Report 743

[+] Subject: Pockian Cow

[+] Subject: Galactus The Cow

[+] Author: Dr. Frimiltun.

[+] On First Contact: On (DATE) we came across Galactus The Cow adrift in space in a tiny, slender rocket known by Galactus as TNT 396. Despite no prior known contact, we were able to converse with him thanks to a translator on the subject's neck. First contact went very well, with responders describing Galactus as goofy and funny. The responders were initially extremely alarmed to see what appeared to be weapons on TNT 396, however, these were said to be for "asteroid defense" by the subject. Galactus was taken in for questioning and TNT 396 was taken in for inspection.

[+] On TNT 396: Rocket was approximately thirty meters long, three meters in diameter, with a dark red body with stripes, black fins, and a black nose cone with crimson flames. Galactus commented that he was going through a "Goth" phase when he painted the rocket. The rocket featured three seats, all open to space, rudimentary controls, and fairly ancient computer technology. The propulsion system was hybrid. Long distance travel was achieved via a form of anti-trilithium Alcubierre drive. Deep space steering was accomplished by sub-spacetime control fins using interactions with the Higgs field to directly steer. This is not a novel concept, but has not been developed in Union space due to lack of perceived need. Medium range travel was accomplished via a compact fusion reaction engine (which also provided spacecraft power) fueled by any available liquid. Short range travel was achieved using stick-shaped explosive devices. RCS capability was given by thrusters using a sticky, yellow, surprisingly tasty goop known by Galactus as "Nacho Cheese."

[+] On Galactus The Cow: Galactus described a long journey that had taken him from his destroyed homeworld, Planet Pock, through many inhabited worlds, memory wipes, wars, and betrayals to The Union. We speculate that such a collection of civilizations may remain undiscovered in the Uncharted Arm of the galaxy. (ADDENDUM (DATE): Further exploration has proved that this is almost certainly not the case) For the full account of Galactus' story, please refer to Galactic Union of Planets Species Report 734.

[+] On Truth: Galactus has described several actions along his adventure that are nearly or completely physically impossible. These include:

///[+] Launching a makeshift TNT powered rocket on an interplanetary journey

///[+] Surviving several unsurvivable falls

///[+] Launching a second makeshift TNT powered rocket on an interstellar journey

///[+] Experiencing several one in a billion coincidences which conveniently advance his story

///[+] Encountering several violent spacefaring species

///[+] Surviving in a vacuum indefinitely

///[+] Surviving being shot out of a volcano powerful enough to change a planet's orbit

///[+] For the full list please refer to Galactic Union of Planets Species Report 735.

[+] As such, most experts have concluded that Galactus' story is almost certainly a partial or complete fabrication, although such a fabrication is likely not on purpose.

[+] On Galactus' motivations: Galactus' homeworld, Planet Pock, was allegedly destroyed by an asteroid or moon impact. Galactus seeks the mythical object "The Magic Boulder," an ancient artefact that supposedly has the ability to restore planets via travelling through time. His adventure has been almost entirely focused on locating this boulder.

[+] On Evidence: No evidence of most aspects of Galactus' story have ever been found. There are no star systems in the Galaxy identical to the one supposedly housing Planet Pock. No evidence of the Magic Boulder's existence has ever surfaced. No evidence of the described series of advanced civilizations has ever surfaced, despite years (ADDENDUM (DATE): Centuries) of searching. Several logical inconsistencies have also been found in his accounts.

[+] On Evidence II: However, some evidence exists. The existence of Galactus The Cow himself proves that his species exists/existed and that Planet Pock likely is/was a real place. The translator around Galactus' neck is extremely advanced, many times more advanced than our best translator technologies, and is currently impossible to replicate with known manufacturing techniques. If Galactus is to be believed about the state of Planet Pock's technological progression, they did not have the technology to construct this device. This, and the existence of the advanced systems on board TNT 396, is strong evidence for the existence of at least one additional spacefaring civilization. Therefore, with the evidence that does exist, it is impossible to completely refute Galactus' claims.

[+] On Theories: The leading theory is that Planet Pock once did exist, and was destroyed, leaving Galactus as one of the last, or the last survivor, eventually rescued by an advanced civilization. Emotionally distraught from the destruction of his homeworld, and aided by potential memory wipes or possible memory inhibiting drugs, potentially related to hospitalization, he made up an adventure, a fantastical adventure, in which he was the hero, determined to save his people. He invented the Magic Boulder and Phil and the Yugos and most of his journey in order to cope with loss and give him hope. Galactus believed this adventure was real, and acted as such, exploring in whatever ship he could find in a vain attempt to locate the supposed Magic Boulder.

[+] On Anomalies: It is impossible to tell without a full dissection, something not possible until after Galactus' death (and we made him functionally immortal), but there is a minority belief within the scientific community that Galactus The Cow may be a quantum linked being, with power over a small part of reality, being able to alter the laws of physics within reason unless measured. This seems to roughly mirror the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. The more precisely the anomalous effects are observed, if they exist at all, the less powerful they are, usually down to the point where they are undetectable. This would explain how he can survive long falls and how he can breathe in a vacuum, his amazing luck, and the unreasonably high effectiveness of any ship he pilots. However, due to the nature of these anomalies, these effects can never be directly measured. (ADDENDUM (DATE): Further minor inconclusive evidence of quantum linking has been observed in individuals who have survived the use of high numbers (over 30) of IC Emergency Translocation Devices (Commonly referred to as Illasticonian Crystals). However, Galactus claims to have never seen or heard of this technology or anything like it.)

[+] On The Origin of Galactus The Cow: It is speculated that Galactus The Cow may have originated from (REDACTED). However this is impossible as neither TNT 396 nor any of the TNT series rockets that Galactus recalls have the technology necessary to (REDACTED).

[+] In Conclusion, much of what Galactus says is demonstrably false. What little grains of half-truths exist hint towards at least one possible additional unconfirmed civilization, however no additional evidence supporting any of his claims has been found. While he may possibly have severe trauma and brain damage, his intentions are peaceful, therefore I recommend that his status as a representative be maintained.

(ADDENDUM (DATE): Representative Jebediah has taken a great interest in Representative Galactus. The two have become allies. Perhaps they have been able to discuss their similar experiences, namely the horrifying sight of an inhabited planet exploding. It is great that Galactus is fitting in.




"So... Galactus is an SCP?" I whispered to Evelina.

"Maybe... But as much as I want to believe him... I don't think I do."

"The story just seems too fantastical... If there was an evil frog with thousands of Death Stars, and dozens more civilizations, I think the Union would know about it. And he couldn't have come from very far away, not with the tech in his ship!"

"Yeah... I wonder... Will we ever know the truth..."

"Alright you two," Galactus announced. "We're just about here. I'll try to sneak you in... I can't promise anything after that. If the meeting goes well, I might be able to evac you... But you're probably on your own, just to warn you. Good luck, main characters."

"Thank you, Galactus, it is an honor."


"Behold, the Galactic Council Chamber!"


"Wow... That's kinda... Underwhelming." I observed. And it was true... Compared to the megastructures on Kerbin, Illasticonian cityscapes, Merosian space station, and beautiful Jslanian mountains, this station seemed to look dated, and like it tried to appear grand but fell a bit short.

"You expected more sci fi? Sorry, kids! This thing was built millennia ago, at the conclusion of the Great Interstellar War, it's ancient history. This is pretty much the oldest spacefaring vessel still in service."

"...They kept a spaceship running, above a black hole, for thousands of years?!?"

"And they think I'm crazy! You know, it might even be older than human civilization, I'll have to check... It was built back when we didn't know what we were doing, and retrofitted to keep up with modern tech. Gotta say though, it's quite nice having a cool ancient traditional meeting site like this. There's all that poetic stuff about having utter destruction above and below, showing the fragility of life and how it must be protected and blah blah blah... But really I think they just wanted an excuse to make a cool space station."

"It's so... Dark."

"Well, it is a black hole, after all! Honestly, it's a miracle the darned thing hasn't fallen in yet."

"Where are all the ships?"

"Oh, they are there."

"I don't see any."

"Well they are probably too small to see. Except that flagship... That's arriving soonish I think."

"Wait. It's hard to get a sense of scale. Just how big is this thing, exactly?"

"Oh, about seven kilometers." I blinked in surprise.

"That seems excessive to carry under a hundred council members!" Evelina observed.

"Well, when it was built, we had exactly two data points for the size of intelligent life... Imagine how awkward it would be if they found giants next and built the station too small! Everything in there is overbuilt, to accommodate all manner of species. And all that tech in the back, we can't easily replace it, so we're stuck with the non-miniaturized versions. It doesn't take three kilometers worth of stuff to sustain orbit around a black hole any more, but it did back then."

"What exactly is that stuff?"

"Oh, an engine, a power collection device, a whole smattering of gadgets that allows us to orbit FTL and not have time go all wonky, devices that allow nearby ships to do the same, life support systems, radiators... But anyway, the details can wait. We're going in. Those handles on the side are the docking arrays, and the council chamber itself is inside a smaller sphere inside that larger sphere up front. I have absolutely no idea what you plan on doing, but I'm going to dock near the front end on the right hand side. From there I can get you into the air vents, I'm uploading the files to your tablets. Just make sure to use the right ones, this one species breathes sulfuric acid or something like that. Don't want to go in there! I'll proceed to the meeting. You, well... What exactly do you have planned anyway? No, wait, I shouldn't know... The fewer people who do, the better."

"Right." I looked at Evelina, and she looked back at me. Both of our faces betrayed the fact that neither of us had a plan beyond "show up and hope an opportunity presents itself to mess up The Species' plans because we might be important enough that they are shaping our paths for their own benefit." We have gotten this far, but our luck has to run out eventually...

"Alright then. Here goes nothing," Evelina said nervously as she grabbed my hand.





"Everything is in position," reported Z.

"Affirmative," responded Y.




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Awesome interlude @Ultimate Steve! I appreciate the meta jab “this sounds like a comic book a middle schooler would write”. Also, with all these... coincidences, I have two theories about Galactus (besides that he’s a character from an old comic that got ported over here, of course). A, he’s actually sent by the Species, but doesn’t know it. Why, that’s hard to say, but perhaps even just to get Ethan and Evelina there and distract them through the flight, or B, he’s actually from another galaxy or something, which would explain why the Union hasn’t found out anything about him. Anyway, great interlude and I look forward to the next chapter!

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  • 1 month later...

Ultimate Steve - On K Drives (not part of the story, just a lore note)


It's no secret that very few things in the story actually make sense if you look at them closely for any amount of time. This is generally worse towards the beginning of the story because I know better now. One of the biggest things I'd change if I ever get around to a second draft (which requires finishing the story lol) is making the technology make more sense.

One thing I've been working on recently is making K-drives, which I've stated to be "not infinite energy machines" into something that's not actually an infinite energy machine, despite being an in-universe analogue to a glitch that is literally an infinite energy machine and behaving exactly like an infinite energy machine. My very bad explanation from a few years ago doesn't really hold together much, so here's my attempt at an explanation that makes sense.

The basic idea is that K-drives are just really good batteries combined with a way to convert potential energy directly to kinetic energy (and in later versions, back again at high efficiency). This is done against a reference "background field" so there is a zero energy level as to prevent infinite energy being extractable. This combined with a few other technologies allows for an effective FTL drive.

The following explanation kinda makes sense with what is already written, but not completely, and will require some changes in the second draft (if it ever exists).

Essentially, K-drives are the brute-force method of FTL. They rely on three or four key technologies. The first is essentially a capacitor/battery capable of safely containing enormous amounts of energy. The second is a device that will allow efficient conversion between this stored energy and kinetic energy (in both directions) via interactions with an unnamed, unmoving, universal background field. The third is an admittedly technobabble set of "Muon beds" or "Tachyon beds" or both (I forget which one I've used, I probably used both) that allows for either (I haven't decided yet) shifting local lightspeed forwards or backwards so that you can still accelerate as if you were stationary, so you can accelerate efficiently and surpass C without actually surpassing C, OR doing something similar but only around C, and once you are past C you can accelerate as normal (in essence, bringing you over the light speed "wall" or asymptote). The fourth technology is an inertial dampener of sorts which eliminates the local effects of acceleration. However, these are quickly replaced following the development of field-thrust type K drives.

In addition, there's also something that allows them to avoid time dilation and/or possible time travel when exceeding light speed, but that is something nearly every sci-fi universe has to have so I won't bother trying to technobabble my way out of it, as its been done so much that people rarely bother explaining it any more.


A history/explanation of K-drives:


The Kerbals discover a new extremely rare material, called K-material (I don't have a name yet, maybe Krakenium?), somewhat early on in their space exploration pursuits. It is discovered to be a very awesome battery (Early on in the story I mention humans somehow having the best battery tech but that's stupid, forget I said that, I wanted to take it out long before I thought of this). So awesome, in fact, that it could safely store essentially but not quite infinite amounts of energy. Most of it is found naturally discharged, but some of it contains a huge amount of energy (energized K material). It is used as a general power source or very good batteries early on, in many applications. However, eventually the Kerbals discover a way to interact with a background field of sorts that permeates throughout all known space. This technology is extremely expensive. By pushing off this background field (essentially a road of sorts) they can convert stored energy into kinetic energy fairly easily (acting like a tire on the road). However it needs a lot of energy. Generators are too big/heavy. The only known stuff capable of containing this energy in a compact space is K-material (Antimatter could also be used, but this was before widespread use of antimatter as a storage medium). Because of this, and the whims of the scientist who invented it, the propulsion tech took on the name of the battery and not the engine. It can be charged up using high-energy ground based power sources and then be launched on a spacecraft.

In addition, it's worth noting that the whole galaxy is moving relative to the background field, so if you tapped the brakes, per se, you would appear to accelerate away from the planet, but only until you reached zero velocity relative to the field. So not an infinite energy machine, but it could be essentially used as a near infinite energy machine if you could make one big enough to, say, convert the kinetic energy of planets into usable energy. However, that comes way later and isn't very practical. The first Proto-K Drives just braked and were shot out of the solar system, but had to deal with tons of waste heat from the braking.

Early K-drives are first tested on probes, and can only accelerate at a tiny amount, and are very jittery. This jitter is because part of the engine runs on keeping two devices (referred to as plates) a set distance from each other, the distance correlates to acceleration. Acceleration increases exponentially the closer the plates are together, meaning it is very distance sensitive, causing vibrations with the slightest distance change. Later tech will improve this vibration. This subset of K-drive tech is known as a "Point thrust" K-drive because the thrust is produced essentially at a single point, where the thrust is then transferred to the rest of the craft.

Eventually, the tech gets to a point where enough thrust is produced to essentially make torch ships (capable of a sustained 1g or more) and those ships are used for interplanetary transport (although a lot of it is still done using existing tech, which is probably some variant of nuclear fusion but I haven't detailed their exact history so I don't know exactly). The trip isn't exactly comfy, though, with that vibration. At this point, K-drive tech isn't seen as FTL-viable, it is basically just a really good "conventional" propulsion system. If you managed to pack enough energy into it to get close to light speed, you would of course, be stopped long before light speed due to diminishing returns.

As K-drive tech got better and better, acceleration increased too, and the only limit was how much the Kerbals could sustain. This limitation was lifted when basic inertial dampeners were invented, which could be powered by the conveniently located uber-battery, allowing the craft to accelerate very quickly without negative effects on the payload, although the vibrations were still felt.

Of course, an essentially magic battery would have epic uses commercially, if not for the fact that, due to its rarity, it was incredibly expensive. This limited development into use of K tech outside of space travel significantly.

At this point, K tech was starting to get so good that another problem started to emerge. The Kerbals were having a lot of problems generating the power necessary to power all of these K-drives. At this point, when slowing down relative to the background field, all that energy was simply dispersed as waste heat, and the ships ran out of fuel eventually. This energy requirement may be behind the Kerbals' construction of that giant solar power system. This all stopped with the development of "closed loop" K-drive technology. Previous K-drives were "open loop." Closed loop K-drives could recapture energy from the field when slowing down instead of having it all go to waste. Initially the efficiencies were low, but over time it went up to some arbitrary very-close-to 100% value. If we go back to our "wheel and road" metaphor, this can be thought of as regenerative braking.

This solved the energy problem for the time being. All the Kerbals had to do was charge up K-material, and then it could essentially last forever in a spacecraft, needing only occasional recharging due to imperfect conversion or ship power requirements that were not directly related to propulsion. Spacecraft still had a "max speed" where the batteries got empty, but this wasn't an issue, as with current battery levels that speed could approach the speed of light.

However, now kinetic energy could be transformed into usable energy very easily. This prompted the development of very large versions of K-tech, designed to capture energy from the kinetic energy of large asteroids and small moons (maybe planets as well).

At this point, a problem started to emerge. Thrust is determined by the distance between two plates. If they got too close and too much energy was absorbed or discharged at once, the K-drive would simply burn itself out and become unusable. However, as K-drives were becoming more robust to withstand this energy output, and the plates got closer and closer together to extract energy on planetary scales, weird things started happening. It wasn't practical to contact the "background field" on a large surface area, and was usually unnecessary, so it was done on a small surface area. Unfortunately, it was discovered that above a certain energy-per-second-per-area value, if the K-drive was strong enough, it would permanently rip the background field causing all sorts of side effects, and of course, leading to no thrust. However, this phenomenon is localized, and because the galaxy is moving, the tears fly away quickly and are easily trackable and avoidable. Increasing K-drive surface area on the background field side was never really solved, so extracting energy from planets couldn't be done quickly. This also limited the size and acceleration of K-drive ships, although with gradual tech development this limit was expanded and didn't really come into play much.

After this point K-drives were always made at least slightly weaker than the background field on purpose so they would always fail before the field failed.

Now, the breakthrough that allowed FTL travel, Muon beds and/or Tachyon beds. The explanation for those is far up there, I don't have much more to say on that. Basically they ensure that you avoid the lightspeed asymptote and can keep accelerating like no speed limit exists. After some experiments (and of course something to avoid possible time dilation/travel), the first FTL flight is undertaken, and Kerbalkind begins branching out to nearby stars. The first K-drive ship Jebediah uses around Pol is one of these early FTL-ships (although it has likely been upgraded over time, why else would it have a cloning bay and that high acceleration).

However, there were two new problems that emerged in that early interstellar era.

1. If you want to get further than the nearest stars in any reasonable amount of time, you need a LOT of energy. To get to other stars in a reasonable time you need to travel many times the speed of light, which requires many times the power of a fleet that can just go at twice the speed of light or so.

2. Kerbalkind could not produce enough energy to fuel more than a few ultra-high speed K-drive ships a year.

1 and 2 wouldn't be a big problem if the "energized" K-material mentioned earlier didn't exist. However, most of Kerbalkind's supply had been used up by that point in domestic and scientific applications. No problem, just explore and find a bunch of the pre-energized stuff!

3. Energized K-material, and K-material in general, is extremely rare in the universe. The relatively high concentrations in the Kerbol system were just flukes.

This was a big problem, as now the total energy stored by the Kerbals (plus the extra generated each year) had to be split between a bunch of K-drive projects (and also running the planets). Making the ships as light as possible was also a priority, as that would reduce the energy required to go fast. It was a tradeoff between fleet tonnage and ship speed. Eventually, more energized K material was found outside the Kerbol system, but this was rare. Exploration begins to find more energized K material and extraterrestrial intelligence.

Sometime into this exploration era, the field-thrust K-drive is invented. While they could not increase the area of contact on the "background" side, they did find a way to increase the area uniformly on the "real" side. They found out how to have the engines, instead of producing a tiny point-thrust, to produce a field thrust, a bubble of acceleration. Every atom in the bubble is evenly accelerated, which essentially (finally!) solves the vibration issue, also making inertial dampeners obsolete, usually only used as a backup system.

Kerbalkind's biggest goal at this point was to find life outside the Kerbol system. The ISS Legacy II comes in here (the second K-drive ship in the story, the one that fell into Jool). Several life-seeking ships were built, taking up the majority of the energy allotment. After a long time searching, they eventually found Meros (the explosion of which I do need a better explanation for) but we all know what happened there.

After this time, a very experimental new technology emerges, "Field Vector Thrust" K-drives. Instead of the thrust direction being fixed, like a non-gimballed rocket engine, the acceleration direction can be altered without turning a ship. It isn't usually amazingly useful, but can be in some scenarios. The number one priority is studying how it works to see if it can also be done on the "background" side. This never happens, or at least not for a long time, though because of what happens next.

However, around this time, the Kerbals are found by the Galactic Union, and they are integrated. The Union are shocked that they didn't find them earlier on. Many species are found right after their first FTL trip. The reason this happened is because K-drives don't emit highly visible signatures like most other forms of FTL do, hence why they are used to try to evade The Species.

At this point, the Kerbals learn how to build more elegant, energy efficient FTL engines using different tech developed by The Union. Almost all development on K-drives stops immediately because they are far more expensive. However, the tech is studied by the Union because it is actually far more advanced than the Union's own K-drive technology, because it's only practical to develop on planets that have K-material accessible on, which are very rare. Existing K-ships, however, even old ones, benefit massively from Union tech because now, even more energy is accessible. Acceleration remains the same, but top speed increases because the amount of energy in the batteries was not limited by battery capacity but by the amount of available energy.

Due to the rarity and expense of K-material,  K-drive technology became obsolete (but many existing ships continued operating because most of the cost is up front and not in upkeep), and existing K-material is used occasionally as batteries due to its near infinite storage potential. At least in the Kerbin system, Antimatter becomes much cheaper (and a way is found to safely store it) and it becomes the preferred way to store large amounts of energy.



The only problem I can currently foresee with this explanation is that at some point, someone would have had a very high chance of accidentally running into Kerbin at several times the speed of light, causing an apocalypse, especially with the Kerbals' attitude towards danger. Enormous safeguards or enormous luck is needed for this to work. However I think this explanation is much better than the ideas I had before.


Again this explanation may not be fully compatible with the existing story, but if I ever get onto a second draft, some explanation, likely similar to this one, will be thought up and adhered to.



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2 hours ago, Ultimate Steve said:

K-material (I don't have a name yet, maybe Krakenium?)

Kerballium, kervomorium, kermanillium, i have names for days!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Binged all episodes in a day. This is EPIC!!!

My man, Steve, when will you drop the next episode? Can't wait!!!

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  • 2 months later...

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