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So this is it. My last work for the KSP community. A ton of writer's block and negative feedback led to the figurative end of my IRL writing. I just wanted to leave the fans of my favorite game with one final piece.

It's a short story, split into three (maybe four) chapters. Hopefully you enjoy it, in all its barely edited glory. First of all, I have some thanks to make. These will be in the spoiler below.

Spoiler

First and foremost, a huge thanks to @KSK, @steuben, @DarkOwl57 and all the other guys from the Thread for Writers to Talk about Writing- words cannot express how grateful I am for your feedback and help.

Secondly, I'd like to thank @Lo Var Lachland for his 'We Who Witnessed' series, which I have drawn some inspiration from and thoroughly enjoyed, as well as @CatastrophicFailure's epic 'Revelations of the Kraken' and the incomparable 'First Flight' by @KSK for the same purpose. I have yet to read 'The Saga of Emiko Station' but I am assured it is excellent.

Thirdly, and finally, a special thank you to all those who supported me through these crazy, turbulent times on this forum. Hard to believe it's been nearly two years now; I still look back at my first posts, requests for Mun rockets in the KSP demo, and wonder if I knew what this fleeting adventure would become.

Right. On with the story. Thank you in advance, for reading.

 

ANOMALY

CHAPTER I- DETECTION

 

 


 

The Endeavour spacecraft sped in the blackness of space, carrying four tired kerbals, millions of kilometers from home, around and around in the orbit of their the penultimate stop on their exploratory journey of the Joolian system; a little greenish speck named Bop. Zigbald Kerman, the Endeavour's commander, was a veteran of spaceflight: legendary pilot of the Tranquility 14, first manned mission to Minmus, and the flight engineer for Pilgrim 2, kerbalkind's first voyage and landing on Duna, among countless other missions. He had logged a record 3,926 days in space and was nearing the end of his illustrious, multi-decade career. He was the last of the 'early' kerbonaut classes- joined before the Mun landings and after the first orbital flight- which meant he was due to be replaced by newer kerbonauts, a fact he was none too happy about. As he said, newer kerbonauts were 'mollycoddled Sams and Sallies who'd never flown a rocket by the Kerbal instinct, but by the damned manual: younglings who needed an electronic cuddle to stop  themselves from destroying the damned spacecraft in a hyperactive fit induced by too much sunfruit juice and djan chips.' Zigbald's cynical attitude thoroughly irritated his second-in-command, Verfal Kerman. She herself was a 'middle-career kerbonaut' and spent all the 779 days in space she had logged before Endeavour doing rotation on the various orbital stations in Kerbin's SOI. She thoroughly disapproved of Zigbald's 'idiotic' approach to flying the multi-billion fund spacecraft, and almost flushed him out the Docking Port 4 exit hatch when he suggested 'a close-up fly-by of Jool's rings, to scare the rookies.'

 

She took an almost motherly approach to the other two kerbonauts' wellbeing on Endeavour, a fact that had the kerbonaut psychology department back on Kerbin dumbfounded and Zigbald intensely irritated. After all, Lizmund and Rayby were comparatively babies on Endeavour, being under three-quarters Verfal's age of forty-one cycles. Lizmund was an orbital engineer on the Dynawing shuttle program and had spent her short career repairing various faults on the Kerbin International Space Station, and general maintanence on the vast CommNet satellite coverage network. So far her help with maintaining the Endeavour's communications and power generatation systems had been totally invaluable, and helped avoid a large number of harrowing problems. The there was Rayby. The baby of the crew at just twenty cycles old, he was a scientist studying astrobiology at the University of Kerdlington, just thirty kilometers as the fletchling flies from the KSC launchpad. The star of their program, he had been funded by the taxpayers of Kerbin to accompany the kerbonauts to the Joolian system in the hope of finding life on Laythe, and maybe Vall. However, the two moons were barren of life, aside from metals in Laythe's sand which Rayby claimed to be a sign of a once-great civilization; he was especially glum thanks to his inability to find any organisms.

 

These four kerbonauts were the latest in the long line of great explorers to leave the fragile envelope of Kerbin's atmosphere in the search of their long lost home-planet, which they had named 'Aquarius' due to its predominately water-covered surface. Unfortunately all the Kerbals had was a ripped photograph and a hazy stellar co-ordinate to go on. That hadn't stopped them from mounting kermanned missions from Moho to Eeloo, desperately trying to find a clue to exactly where Aquarius' star system was, or the other half of the ripped photograph. So far, other than an SSTV signal on Duna, a smelly probe recovered from Eve's ocean called Po'er 10, and the aforementioned discovery of rare metals in the Laythian sand, nothing had been found. After thirty-five cycles of searching and hoping, the mystery of Aquarius was still no closer to being solved. An anomaly on Bop, however, heralded a faint glimmer of hope: an area roughly a kilometer in diameter on Bop's surface seemed to emit a pulse that scrambled and garbled satellite transmissions. 'Perhaps it's a transmitter to Aquarius, or even a cloaked spacecraft that might take us there!' thought Mission Control. To that end (and owing to Bop's incredibly low gravity) the KSC had authorized the landing of the entire interplanetary mothership on Bop's surface to process signals and samples in the relative comfort of the main lab complex, rather than hurriedly squashed into a lander cabin. And so, with that fateful decision, began the greatest adventure ever to grace the Kerbal species, an act that would define the space program for millennia and crumble the very rock that Kerbal evolution and heritage was built on.

 

*

 

Zigbald's reminiscence of a day in the Barkton launch complex with his wife was rudely interrupted by the squawking of the Kerbin comms system. "Endeavour, you are under analysis for Bop de-orbit burn. Please disclose altitude and orbital speed, over."

Zigbald keyed the response button and, a touch grudgingly, replied, "Copy, Flight. Orbital altitude is nine oh five four apoapsis, eight nine one seven periapsis. Orbital speed is 61.2 meters per second. Awaiting go/no go for Bop landing burn." He let go of the comms button with an audible click, only to hear a sibilant hiss of static, then another transmission from Kerbin. It sounded a little breathless, as if the radiokerbal had just got back from running the KSC marathon.

"Endeavour...you are go...go for Bop landing, I repeat...go for Bop landing." A pregnant pause lasted a few seconds, then a gulp and the hacking cough of someone clearing phlegm from their throat. "We anticipate landing burn ignition in 186 seconds...retain sustained thrust for twenty two seconds. We are targeting a landing... within 200 meters of anomaly... you will lose contact with us inside the circle of interference."

"Roger that," said Zigbald into the reciever. "How big is this anomaly, Control, and what the hell do the preliminary scopes tell us?"

The reply came back a few seconds later. The radiokerbal had his breathing under control now. Thank the Kerm, thought Zigbald, the heavy breathing was making me damn uncomfortable. Can't speak for his missus though.

"Endeavour, the glitched reports and scans we've managed to pick up indicate a many-tentacled object roughly thirty meters across by six high. Reports indicate a possible organic make-up. See you on the other side, Slick." The transmission cut off.

 

This was the last communication Endeavour ever received.

 

*

 

Rayby perked up. The mention of life and organic compounds brought a huge grin to his face. Verfal, however, had reservations. Thirty meters! It's huge, she thought, what if it's alive? Sentient? Will it try to destroy the Endeavour? Eat us?  The last thought sent a mental shudder rushing through Verfal's brain. No. Okay. Kerm knows you spend too much time worrying. Just start prepping Rayby and Lizmund for surface ops. That'll... make it all fine again. Clearing her throat and switching from her 'irritated kerbette' voice she used to address Zigbald into her 'nice smiley' voice she used when around kids, or friends.

 

"All right, Rayby, Lizmund, we'll be landing soon. The gravity is very low, worse than Vall. Lizmund, you'll need to keep an eye on your stomach. If you get gravity sickness ping me or Rayby on comms. DON'T ping Zigbald unless you want a three-hour lecture on 'how Kerbals were never gravity-sick in my day' and 'I'm so old, I was at the Mun's birthing celebration...'" This got a derisive chortle from Rayby and a small smile from the blushing Lizmund. Over the roar of the nuclear engines, Zigbald turned round  in the piloting chair and bellowed in their direction.

"I heard that! It's not too far to float back home you know! Why, without my impeccable piloting skills you would ALL be-"

At this precise moment the spacecraft groaned and shuddered violently, as if it disagreed vehemently. Zigbald made a noise rather like a koobish being slowly flattened and returned hastily to the controls. Verfal smirked.

"As I was saying, gravity is very low. Rayby, please refrain from EVA-packing off into the far reaches of the planet; we don't want a repeat of what happened at Vall, now do we?" Lizmund giggled and Rayby blushed, remembering what he and the older communications engineer had done in a crater some six klicks from the landing site (Nothing too inappropriate: anything further would have required taking off their spacesuits, which is a very bad idea when you're on a planet with no breathable air and an average temperature of 200 below freezing.)

 

Verfal continued with a small smirk. She'd more or less had the same conversation with her kids back home on Kerbin many cycles ago. Clearing her throat in mock seriousness, she continued.

"Now as you're aware, I permitted fraternization-" she drew out the word, embarrassing the two younger kerbals, "-in our crew-"

"MY crew!" shouted Zigbald from the piloting chair. Verfal rolled her eyes and continued speaking.

"...so long as your fraternization didn't impact your work or produce any unwanted passengers." At this, Zigbald burst out in a fit of barking laughter, Lizmund blushed furiously and Rayby shook his head and hid his face in his palms. Verfal suppressed a laugh and ploughed onward with her speech.

"I'm proud to say you've achieved in this regard. No extra mouths to feed- though we suspect it's not from your lack of trying, judging by the noises coming from Rayby's sleeping quarters occasionally..." She grinned at the two mortified rookies, then switched to her 'business-kerbal' voice.

"Rayby, you'll exit the spacecraft first through the lab airlock. Your job will be to conduct visual observations before attempting to gain a biosample. In the unlikely case that this thing is actually alive, get back to the spacecraft immediately and recite the full crew abort code so we can all leave Bop in an emergency. Zigbald will exit next to plant a flag, followed by Lizmund. Lizmund, please set up your signal surface equipment before Rayby goes in to obtain a sample, to ensure we don't miss any natural or unnatural transmissions. I'll perform an inspection of the Endeavour to make sure we haven't left behind or damaged anything, before exiting the craft and performing soil observations. Zigbald, what's our ETA to surface?" asked Verfal.

"One minute fifty-seven seconds. Strap in tight, kerbs and kerbettes." came the grizzled reply.

Verfal smiled. "Just do as I say, and it'll all be fine. Now who's ready to become the first kerbals on Bop?"

 

*

 

The Endeavour spacecraft, a single burning pinprick of white and orange, touched down on Bop, an uncharted speck at the edge of the Joolian sphere of influence. As Rayby descended the ladder, he got a feeling of profound vastness, as the sun set over the edge of Jool and illuminated it’s rings, with Laythe and Tylo visible as coloured dots.

So this is what it must have been like for all those before: seeing a sunrise from orbit, witnessing Kerbinrise from the Mun, gazing at Ike through the haze of Duna's dust-clouds. I, Rayby Kerman, have committed a first, he thought as his feet thudded into the dirt, throwing up a small cloud of dust. Unconsciously, he keyed the comms button in his headset.

Wow...this is...it’s just...incredible.”

Rayby activated the maneuvering thrusters in his EVA pack and floated over the nearest ledge.

 

*

 

Verfal, Zigbald and Lizmund heard Rayby’s awestruck tone. Damned kid got what I had on Duna and Minmus, thought Zigbald. First Kerbal syndrome. He’ll remember this for the rest of his life. Some hotshot got that feeling the first time we saw the planet from space. “Not quite, and all of its at once.” Dammit, what was his name? Jeff? Jeb? Something like that.

The passengers were then jarred from the serene calm by a burst of unprintable expletives, then a gasp. Rayby’s voice hissed sibilantly from the radio, the whispered shock distorting his voice.

What in the name of Eumon Kerman’s stupid engine is THAT?!”

 

Zigbald cursed and suited up, radioing to Rayby as he did so.

Kid. Kid! What’s up out there. Gimme a sitrep, dammit!”

Verfal wore a strained expression on her face, fearing the worst. Lizmund gazed mutely out the window in horror, terrified that something had become of her partner, and friend. Zigbald shot out of the hatch, almost plummeting off the ladder in his haste. His ears thrummed with broken-up audio from Rayby’s radio connection.

I think it’s dead...dead...looks like...obtaining sample..”

Zigbald rose over the ledge, and glimpsed Rayby moving closer to the anomaly. Only it wasn’t an anomaly.

And Zigbald suddenly knew it wasn’t dead at all.

"Kid! Get the hell out of there, for Kerm’s sake!”

 

Rayby, for his part, didn’t realise his radio had been jammed. He thought it was just a break in transmissions. The anomaly loomed before him, its leathery flesh a tower of faded, pale green. Overcome with a sense of insignificance, Rayby fell to his knees; a dissonant echoing voice oscillated through the chambers of his mind, yet he knew only he could hear it.

“WHO DARES DISTURB MY SLUMBER…”

 

Rayby could only gape in horrific awe at the spectacle unfolding in his mind. The voice made a small hmmph of dissatisfaction, then spoke again.

“SO, KERBAL. YOU THINK YOU CAN CONVERSE WITH A BEING OF MY IMMENSE POWER? I SMEARED YOUR FELLOWS ACROSS SPACE AND TIME. I CAN DESTROY THIS ENTIRE SOLAR SYSTEM IN SECONDS. I HAVE DESTROYED CIVILIZATIONS ACROSS THE GALAXY FOR EVEN DARING TO GLIMPSE ME, AND YOU...YOU THINK IT POSSIBLE TO EXIST IN MY PRESENCE? WHAT ARE YOU, KERBAL?"

Rayby's voice quavered, like the strings of a harp. “What are you?” he thought-spoke.

 

The voice made the audible equivalent of a smirk.

“SOME WOULD DARE TO BRAND ME AS A GOD, IN FEAR OF THAT WHICH THEY DO NOT UNDERSTAND. BUT MAKE NO MISTAKE, I AM NO GOD. NOR AM I A DEMON. SUCH TRIFLING LABELS FALTER AT THE SHEER IMMENSITY OF MY BEING.”

 

FOR..

I…

AM..

THE…

KRAKEN!

Edited by SiriusRocketry
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Likewise - thanks for the mention and for the little shout-outs here and there. :) I did like the part where Zigbald gets Jeb's quote nearly right - and then forgets Jeb's name!

I like your four characters, even more so for the fact that they're not the familiar Original Four orange suits. Looking forward to more.

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That's a fantastic start! Great way to set the opening tone of the story by introducing the characters (and their traits) without being direct, providing a setting (and a bit of lore as well), and of course throwing in some comedy in there as well! English teacher mode aside, I'm really looking forward to seeing what's next for the band of four (and whether or not Rayby is going to eat the dust). Oh, and thanks for the mention- I love helping people out.

 

Spoiler

Now it's time for FTG goshdangit

 

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On 4/14/2019 at 7:27 AM, SiriusRocketry said:

(Nothing too inappropriate: anything further would have required taking off their spacesuits, which is a very bad idea when you're on a planet with no breathable air and an average temperature of 200 below freezing.)

But what could they have possibly done then? :o I mean those are some very thick, clumsy spacesuits...

On 4/14/2019 at 7:27 AM, SiriusRocketry said:

so long as your fraternization didn't impact your work or produce any unwanted passengers

Yeah, fat chance! :D But it looks like kerbals are more disciplined than humans...

Also, I can picture Zigbald talking to the newbs, "Now listen, I know you are young, but keep this in mind: We don't have baby diapers. Do you want to clean up the mess in 0g?" That would have been a really effective motivator! :D

This is really interesting! I will keep an eye out!

Edited by Nivee~
spelling and grammar~
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Hello everyone,

Due to injuries and mental health complications, the second chapter is going to be released a little later than originally thought. Thank you all so much- your words are beacons of hope in some dark times. Rest assured I'm working to deliver Chapter 2 as a great chapter.

 

Thank you all,

Sirius

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6 hours ago, SiriusRocketry said:

Hello everyone,

Due to injuries and mental health complications, the second chapter is going to be released a little later than originally thought. Thank you all so much- your words are beacons of hope in some dark times. Rest assured I'm working to deliver Chapter 2 as a great chapter.

 

Thank you all,

Sirius

Hey, we completely understand that mental health is important. Take all the time you need.

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6 hours ago, SiriusRocketry said:

Hello everyone,

Due to injuries and mental health complications, the second chapter is going to be released a little later than originally thought. Thank you all so much- your words are beacons of hope in some dark times. Rest assured I'm working to deliver Chapter 2 as a great chapter.

 

Thank you all,

Sirius

Don't worry bud, we'll still be waiting for it when the time is right. Eagerly awaiting the next chapter. 

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  • 3 weeks later...
26 minutes ago, ResonantWaves said:

Hey guys, I made an account just for this story! Picked it up while searching for KSP fanfiction, and I gotta say it's one of the best things I've read, KSP or not. Where is this guy? @SiriusRocketry are you gonna finish this off? Anyone know why he hasn't written?

 

@ResonantWaves--I know Sirius on Discord, and unfortunately he has been struggling with mental health recently, hence why this is his magnum opus. However, I will contact him later today to double check Chapter 2 is in the works--I believe that he said it could come out later this month.

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That's pretty awful... Mental health is unfortunately such a problem for youth today. I've been reading a couple of other KSP fics, but permit me to say none have hooked me in like this. Wishing him a speedy recovery from the British Midlands. 

Edited by ResonantWaves
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@Vanamonde can you or another moderator please lock this thread... I can't continue this any longer.

 

I'm sorry everyone. I've let you down. I may even return later but for now I cannot deal with this anymore. 

Edited by SiriusRocketry
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  • 2 weeks later...

 I know it's getting closed, but I just wanted to sneak in here briefly to say how much I liked that chapter. The exposition chunk at the start reminded me of the best theme analyses and summaries of classic works, if that makes any sense. Also loved the little bits that hinted at a subtly different Kerbal culture (whatever sunfruit juice is, I want it). Favourite part was probably Zigbald's bark - told me he had more depth than your average hardboiled veteran individual. Well, the story may not continue, and for very good reasons, but it has at least taught us all the very valuable lesson of "do not poke kraken". Thanks for giving this a go.

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  • 2 weeks later...
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