The Space Dino

The Kerbal Empire

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THE KERBAL EMPIRE

Well, I really don't know where to start.

This is my first story, so any feedback for me to improve will be greatly appreciated. Uploads will be around one chapter per month (maybe longer if I'm caught up with studies), I'll give some progress updates on the way. I will add a fancy picture-title soon (hopefully:sticktongue:) but I'll make do with boring bolded words for now...

Special mention to @Just Jim for unintentionally inspiring me.

Notes:

Spoiler

 

  • There are 426 days in a Kerbal year, one day being 6 Earth hours long.
  • The story is set in a very small dwarf galaxy even being Kerbal sized (10x smaller than in real life), with the galaxy having a million stars, 100,000 of them have planets and roughly 50,000 will be surveyed by the civilizations in the story.

 

So, let's begin... *crosses fingers*

Spoiler

Prologue

 

“T-minus ten, nine, eight, seven…”

A tall rocket sat on the pad of the KSC, mist forming around it from the cryogenic fuels within.

“Six, five, four…”

The liquid fuel engine roared to life as fuel was pumped into the engine; combusting in mere milliseconds and producing hundreds of kilonewtons of thrust.

“Main engine ignition, three, two, one…”

The launch clamps released their grip on the rocket, setting it free to venture into the skies; its powerful yet efficient engines heaving itself over the skies of Kerbin.

                             ----------------------------------------------------                            

573 years have passed since the first rocket of Kerbalkind thrust itself into space, the seemingly infinite void of not-so-nothingness. Bases were on every planet in the Kerbol system; mining minerals and learning new things.

Yes, including Dres.

Unfortunately, it still seems that they have still not managed to make edible ice cream out of Minmus’ minty goodness.

                             ----------------------------------------------------                  

The rocket rumbled through the atmosphere at breakneck speed, making the speed of sound look like a tortoise, accelerating ever faster, getting closer to orbit.

“First stage cutoff, ready to decouple.”

With a barely audible thonk controlled explosions blasted away the first stage of the rocket at the edge of the atmosphere, already running out of fumes to continue running on after the fuel was exhausted.

“Second stage ignition!”

With the core stage out of the way, two more engines were let loose to continue hauling the spacecraft out of the confines of the breathable atmosphere of Kerbin.

                             ----------------------------------------------------                  

A couple of weeks ago, Wernher von Kerman VIII was wondering what he could do. With the Kerbol system largely explored, there wasn’t really much exploration to do, unless another Minmus ice cream concept was scribbled on the tables during lunch by some engineer.

There was only one way to exploration: go out. Out of the comfort of home, out of everything you knew, to go places that you’ve never seen in your life before. Fireworks do happen on the way, yes, but that’s nothing to worry about.

The next closest place to explore was well… a couple of light years away. Conventional engines would take centuries to get there, and if you decided to go any faster, you would just increase the size of the spacecraft, and it soon becomes an engineer’s ‘nope I’m outta here’ situation.

Then, it struck him.

If the road’s too long, shorten it!

Wernher grabbed a piece of paper and started scribbling furiously on it. A couple of moments later, he had come up with a doable concept. Not just any concept, a really wacky one.

                             ----------------------------------------------------                  

The second stage fell away as the spacecraft, with the words ‘Fabric Ripper’ painted on it settled into its new home- Low Kerbin Orbit. Here, the sun rises every 15 minutes or so; the temperature is very inviting; with no oxygen and plenty of radiation for a nice grilling.

“All systems are nominal, we are go for the power-up.”

Encased within the Fabric Ripper was a prototype device that R&D had been working on for months. It slowly hummed to life as electricity flowed through wires into what looked like something that would be found lying by the side of the road, yet it was very delicately assembled.

But it had only one purpose.

One that would forever etch a mark in the history of Kerbalkind.

                             ----------------------------------------------------                            

“Hey Wernher, what brings you here today?” said Jandy Kerman, the director of the space program as Wernher entered his office.

“I’ve discussed this concept with the R&D team, and they’ve all gone hyperactive after seeing this.”

Jandy looked out his window and saw several engineers running about on the KSC grounds.

“You must have something here. Those guys are running about more excitedly than when that donut was introduced… I had to pull it from the kiosks.”

Wernher said nothing.

“Back on topic. What do you have here?”

Wernher handed the file he was holding to Jandy. He flipped through the pages; it was nothing like he had ever seen before. He couldn’t help to ask Wernher, “What is this?”

“It involves very complex and delicate parts, but I’ll get to the point. This device flexes spacetime itself to decrease travel time to nearby stars, or other places that are currently inaccessible by conventional rockets.”

“A warp drive?!”

Wernher nodded his head.

“I’ll keep this file. Don’t worry about the funding.”

Wernher then proceeded to burst out of Jandy’s office before he could react.

“Scientists,” Jandy said to himself.

                             ----------------------------------------------------                            

“Activating the drive…”

The warp drive hummed louder and louder, energy flowing through it, preparing itself to warp some spacetime. Moments later, the space around the Fabric Ripper started distorting, as a small engine on the back of the spacecraft ignited and started pushing it through the increasingly warped spacetime.

The telemetry was showing speeds of a regular spacecraft accelerating, yet in reality the Fabric Ripper had already left other rocket engines in the dust, if space was a desert, that is.

At Mission Control, Wernher was looking as the orbital path of the spacecraft was now approaching an escape from Kerbin when he realized that R&D hadn’t put a stop button on it. Sure, the Fabric Ripper only had miniscule amounts of fuel, but given its current performance it would probably end up on the other side of the galaxy.

Then, telemetry was lost. The controllers looked at each other, puzzled. Same was the case with the whole of R&D crammed into the observation room at the back.

Suddenly, the door of Mission Control burst open.

“I’ve detected a Munquake!”

That was weird, Munquakes had already been debunked years ago; the Mun was not geologically active.

Another Kerbal then entered Mission Control and said, “There’s no Munquake. Our satellites have detected an impact on the Mun, probably due to the prototype smashing into it.”

‘That makes more sense’ – ‘Yeah’ – ‘Eat that, Munquakes!’ were said between the scientists and controllers. Wernher secretly breathed a sigh of relief. Guess he won’t have to tell anyone anything now, eh?

                             ----------------------------------------------------                            

Jandy stood before a plethora of reporters and journalists, some operating video cameras, some snapping away photographs, some talking to each other.

Jandy started,” Good morning.”

Everyone proceeded to pay attention to him.

“You may have heard about the testing of our new prototype, which I am happy to announce was an astounding success, despite it creating a new crater on the Mun.”

The crowd chuckled.

“We have been testing a warp drive, a device that will allow us to go beyond our solar system to other stars in a short amount of time.”

Sounds of amazement circulated throughout the members of the press.

“When is the drive expected to enter production?” asked a reporter.

“We cannot confirm for now, but I’d say a few months’ time.”

“Can it be fitted to our spacecraft?” asked another journalist.

“It is supposed to be fitted on our spacecraft,” replied Jandy. Stupid reporters, he thought to himself.

“What will this mean for us?”

Jandy thought for a moment.

“A new era of exploration will begin, my friend.”

Chapters:

Chapter 1: Into The Darkness of the Void

Edited by The Space Dino
Some updates

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@The Space Dino

This sounds like it is going to be awesome!

Glad I could be one of the first to see it!

With a bit of luck, I think this has enough potential to be among the best of the best KSP Fan Fiction Series.

Edited by JK_Kerbineer

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I apologise for the lack of updates as I'm pretty busy recently (and also for the next week :()

I can say that the first chapter is about halfway done, and don't worry, it's longer than the prologue; I don't take that long (hehe).

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It's done! Shorter than I originally thought, but trust me, the fun starts next chapter.

Past couple of weeks was busy with exams, just finished it today. Planning on getting back to lots of writing!

Spoiler

Chapter 1: Into the Darkness of the Void

 

YEAR 573, DAY 12

 

Many excited scientists and engineers, along with the press, assembled at the newly built Spaceport Of Kerbin, which – you guessed it – was situated in orbit around Kerbin.

R&D had come up with the idea that instead of building some sort of awesome warp drive powered space research station, it would be much simpler to build a big spaceship, which, was way more robust and did not require any finger-crossing precision connecting maneuvers, also known as docking.

However, to be able to explore the galaxy out there without taking forever to study only one of millions of star systems, the spaceship would need to have the capacity to house as many scientists as the R&D complex, which meant it could not be launched atop a gargantuan rocket (which the Kerbals had learned the hard way). Thankfully, there were plenty of scientists working at the KSC, so needing to find enough crew wasn’t a problem at all.  

The spaceport was shaped like a ring, but to the hungry minds at R&D it was referred to as ‘the most magnificent donut-in-a-donut’, as the station was divided into two parts, the outer ring and the inner ring. The inner ring housed the building equipment and held the ship under construction in place. It was connected to the outer ring via two tubes, which allowed workers to go between the rings, and also to provide building material for construction, which were stored in the outer ring.

The outer ring spun to create artificial gravity so that ‘the workers would feel right at home’, as an engineer said. It housed the other facilities of the spaceport, mainly docking bays, storage, a hall, and the crew quarters. When a spacecraft was coming in to dock with the spaceport, the outer ring would stop rotating and allow the spacecraft to dock, then continue to spin again.

Jandy cut the tape as he inaugurated the Spaceport Of Kerbin with the press taking so many pictures Jandy could barely keep his eyes open for the photographs. He quickly coaxed them inside and told Wernher to show them around as he tried to regain his eyesight. Sooner or later Wernher too threw the job over to another engineer after he ran into a wall.

 

YEAR 573, DAY 90

 

A metal hulk slid out of the Spaceport Of Kerbin’s grasp slowly and surely, drifting further and further away from it. Aboard were a 426-strong crew of skilled scientists and engineers, which were to take the first step beyond the confines of the Kerbol system. Commanding the spaceship named the Far Reacher was Rhode Kerman, a specifically selected geologist to find worlds on which resources were available to mine.

The ship was shaped like a triangle, with a rectangular command post protruding upwards at the back of the ship. Two massive ion engines propelled the ship, along with the revolutionary warp drive. They were powered by huge batteries, which in turn were charged by even bigger ultra-efficient solar panels which were retractable; a technology perfected over the years.

The Far Reacher had three powerful scanners situated at the three corners of its triangular shape. They would scan planets, stars and other celestial bodies and study them in detail either from orbit or on the surface, which in case the ship was equipped with landing legs and landing engines. The bottom of the ship was also padded with heat-resistant material for atmospheric landings.

For the crew the ship had arguably cramped living areas for each of the scientists, but most of them were perfectly fine with that. There were also several labs for tests, and a small quantum computer that despite its small processing power relative to the projected designs, had a reasonable edge over its conventional relatives.

“Sir, where will we be heading on our first excursion?” asked the navigation officer.

“Can someone bring out the galactic map?” answered Rhode.

A hologram appeared in the command post, showing the Kerbol system and a few named systems of particular interest in the vicinity.

“Hmm… let’s go to this one,” replied Rhode as he pointed to a blip on the hologram.

“Sure thing. Plotting course for the Renade system.”

With several quick movements from the navigation team on their post the ship oriented itself correctly. The engines roared softly as they ignited. The warp drive, much bigger in size than the one on the Fabric Ripper, hummed to life a few seconds later as the space in front of the Far Reacher distorted and off the spaceship was on its first of many journeys.

Meanwhile and the Spaceport Of Kerbin, Kerbals were cheering at the sight of the Far Reacher speeding away. Some of the journalists were interviewing the cheering workers as Jandy and Wernher watched.

“This moment is going to be stuck in the history books,” said Jandy.

“Yeah,” responded Wernher. “It’s going to be glued in there so firmly a piston not’s going to be able to rip it out.”

They both chuckled.

“Great idea limiting on how much of the press could come up here,” said Wernher. “I don’t want to be exposed to that quantity of flashes ever again.”

“Thanks. I’m sure the medical team doesn’t want to deal with eye problems of the two of us either.”

They both laughed.

 

YEAR 573, DAY 183

 

Jandy looked at the galaxy map to the left of his desk. There were now several star systems that had been surveyed by the Far Reacher, along with many more stars that had been discovered along the way. The Far Reacher had been working in in tip-top shape, much to the satisfaction of Wernher and his team.

Wernher then came into the room with a bunch of papers. Knowing him for years, Jandy knew that he had something new that bubbled up from R&D.

“Sorry to disturb you, Jandy, but I- “

“No need to apologize. Just tell me what you have in mind.”

Wernher smiled. “Guess you know me quite well, do you?”

“We’ve been here since we graduated from the Academy, how can I not?”

“That aside, we’ve drawn up a concept for a ship that will build mining bases on planets or moons out there,” said Wernher. “We modified the design of the Far Reacher by removing all of the labs and stuff, which we will replace with a big cargo bay with a ramp. It’ll have the capacity to store all the equipment needed for a base plus about three-quarters of the building material.”

“What about the other quarter?” Jandy asked.

“We’ll build the mining component of the base first, then as we build the rest of it we’ll have enough materials to finish the rest of the base by the time we run out.”

“Just go ahead and build it. Don’t spend too much on donuts though, we went over the budget last time.”

“Thanks!” replied Wernher. “Don’t worry, we won’t spend too much on donuts only!”

Before Jandy could hear ‘only’ Wernher had already burst out of his office and was well on his way scampering the couple hundred meters to R&D instead of taking the buggies parked everywhere.

                             ----------------------------------------------------                            

Meanwhile, the Far Reacher was in orbit around a gas giant named ‘Cotton Candy’. It appeared that at the time the scientists in the Far Reacher were all thinking about food and only food. Unknown to Jandy, all of the previous systems that had been discovered and surveyed were named after food; there was even a star called ‘Minty Hydrogen’.

In the command post, everyone was just doing their usual thing; looking at some data, plotting courses, looking at the gas giant or eating a donut, which on request by the crew comprised 45% of the food onboard the spaceship, to the great frustration of the health specialists.

Suddenly, a scientist came up to the command post and exclaimed, “JACKPOT!” at the top of his lungs.

“Whoa, what is it?” asked a startled Rhode.

The scientist just handed the few pieces of paper he was holding to Rhode.

“Hmm…” said Rhode as he looked at the data. “Wait… are you sure this is not an anomalous result?”

“I have forgotten how many times I’ve scanned and reanalyzed the data. As hard as it seems to believe, this is legitimate!”

Rhode suddenly went into a state of feverishness as he grabbed the intercom and practically shouted into it.

“Everyone listen up! Around Cotton Candy we have discovered a small moon that has an extraordinarily high amount of rare materials!”

A few sounds of amazement were heard.

“Statisticians, wherever you guys are, the data will be handed over to you and I want you guys to calculate the estimated value of this moon! We shall name this moon ‘The Golden Moon’ so that all of Kerbalkind can remember this amazing find!”

The scientists started cheering as a donut or two was dropped. Just as the cheering started, another scientist came up to the command post.

“Calm down, guys. This might be a pretty marvelous discovery, but the latest calculations from the computer estimates that the moon will fall below the Roche limit of Cotton Candy in a few hundred years.”

“Aww. Then shouldn’t we start mining it now?” said a scientist.

“The moon is under constant tidal forces and has little gravity. Plus, it has a pretty irregular shape and a high orbital speed. It will take a while for us to build a mining base on there, and even if we manage to do that who knows what could then happen? It’s a pretty unstable place to be.”

“Well, you do have a point. This is what us scientists are supposed to be doing; evaluating discoveries and plausible projects.” said Rhode. “The best we can do now is to send the data back to Kerbin immediately and see if they can make something out of this.”

Everyone agreed.

 

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Hype?

Spoiler

There was a catch.

It had lights dotted on it.

 

Edited by The Space Dino

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