Darkness Within (10): Revisions

MET 187-5+3

Or possibly I don’t need a new plan. Since I can’t think of a new plan, just a variation on the old plan, it would be very desirable that this is the case.

To make it to the stargate, I would need a vector-control core, and one that can fit on this hypothetical candle. That might be possible, since the cutter has one… had one. The break in its midsection looks like a clear break when the impact snapped the ship in two, so its at least possible that the after section is intact out there along with its core.

But I’d need a candle to go and look for it. Convenient, that.

If it isn’t nearby – well, I can at least get closer to the earlier parts of the search cube, and burning the candle should make me show up nice and bright on passives, more so than the hulk, so it will still be progress of a sort.

I have a design roughed out. Nothing that would win any design competitions, but it will serve for this.

First step: gather parts, starting with a drive. All the tactical platforms have are station-keeping arcjets, so my best option is retasking the for’ard ACS motors of the cutter. Better yet, looking at the aft end of the wreckage, one of the cutter’s remass tanks looks to be in one piece. If Athneél’s smiling today, I’ll be able to get it out still so, and holding pressure.

Time to carve.

MET 187-5+11

I need a bigger hullcutter.



(Author’s note: ideally, I should like to accompany a rapidly upcoming piece in this series with an actual sketch [meaning, y’know, sketch, not my usual “cross-sectional hack”] of Isif’s candle.

So, if anyone or anyone(s) out there feels like lending their artistic talents to the cause drop me a line, and I’ll send you the relevant art notes. Sadly, I can’t actually commission art for this, being a little on the starving artist side this month – and so I am just looking for a quick sketch, you understand, nothing too fancy, for the sake of the size of my guilt complex about asking people to work for little more than the love of it – but full credit will be given, along with the strong probability of actual commissioning of a fancy full-bore version if and when this sees print.)

 

Darkness Within (9): Miscalculation

MET 186-23+4

So I’ve been running some numbers.

At a best guess from the nav data available, Gutpunch had 18.5 hours1 to run at standard cruising acceleration, 9.6 standard gravities effective2. That in turn implies that I need something approaching six million m/s of delta V effective to make zero-zero with the Kerjejic stargate.

These are not happy numbers.

Actually, let me rephrase that: these numbers represent a six-species clusterfuck at a Clajdíän clambake.

The candle plan will not work, obviously, hope and head injuries notwithstanding. Samildán could bring his traveling Heaven alongside and hand me a dreadnought-sized fusion torch with all the trimmings, and I couldn’t squeeze 6e6 out of it. That’s why we had to learn to cheat in the first place.

I need a vector-control core. So let’s hope Kirchev parked the cutter facing aft the last time out.

MET 187-4-32

Well, damn.

I have half a cutter. Snapped in two at the shear line, clean as you like. Not, however, the half with the core in it.

I also have two racked tactical observation platforms, neither of which has a core, along with some spare parts racks, tools, and plenty of debris. Everything I could need to build a candle, if that would help.

I need a new plan.


  1. 20 of your Earth hours, for anyone who wants to check my numbers.3
  2. 9 of your Earth gravities.
  3. I always wanted to use one of your Earth “of your Earth”s.

Darkness Within (8): Overdue

FROM: CS UNDERBELT (FIELD FLEET RIMWARD)
TO: FIELD FLEET RIMWARD COMMAND (CS ARMIGEROUS PROPERTARIAN)

*** ROUTINE
*** FLEET CONFIDENTIAL E256
*** OVERDUE

1. CS GUTPUNCH ATTACHED TO TASK GROUP R-4-118 HAS MISSED THREE (3) ROUTINE STATUS UPLOADS AND IS NOW CONSIDERED OVERDUE.

2. CS UNDERBELT AND COHORT PROCEEDING FROM CURRENT LOCATION (PARDERIC SYSTEM) TO CONSTELLATION-EXIT RENDEZVOUS POINT TO PERFORM BACKWARD-SLANTED COURSE SWEEP, STAGGERED-SECTOR SEARCH PATTERN, AS PER STANDING ADMIRALTY INSTRUCTIONS.

3. REMAINDER OF TASK GROUP HAS BEEN ISSUED ORDERS TO PROCEED TO LAST KNOWN LOCATION CS GUTPUNCH TO PERFORM FORWARD-SLANTED SWEEP, OTHERWISE AS ABOVE.

4. MORE FOLLOWS.

5. AUTHENTICATION MORAINE HAMMOCK VAULT SIMMER GOLDEN PAWL / 0x9981ABD43E3ECC22

ENDS.

Darkness Within (7): Headaches

MET 186-14-2

I have now completed a dead-reckoning navigational fix using the surviving server rack and data stored in the logs. The good news is that the kinetic impacts do not appear to have significantly altered Gutpunch‘s trajectory.

The bad news is that while the shit-pile’s no deeper than I’ve been assuming, it’s also no shallower.

Gutpunch was on a brachistochrone course for the Kerjejic stargate. Kerjejic’s an untenanted system but a major gate intersection, which made it the perfect place for the task force to meet back up after sweeping the Loop. Trouble with a brachy is that making your zero-zero counts on maintaining continuous deceleration throughout the second half of the course, so the moment your ship gets broken, you’re off on a long ride to nowhere. One of those ways in which space travel became less safe when better drives were invented, the irony of which is rather less appreciated when you’re experiencing it personally.

On my present orbit, I’m heading off into the Shards without intercepting anything further in this system. If these calculations are correct, I should reach another star system – IGS 88-99172-B, given some dubious assumptions about the emptiness of the deep black – in roughly 875,000 years.

I’d like to be rescued before then. Well, I would be rescued before then, but by the time the squadron notes that we’re overdue, comes looking, runs the search pattern, and so forth, they’ll be rescuing my backup out of my space-chilled skull. That seems rather unsatisfying, even if no unofficial salvors find us first. Narijic System isn’t what you might call the good part of town.

That defines the next problem, then:

I have four and a half days to build a candle, sufficient to move myself, the substrate, and preferably the FDR, that can produce enough acceleration, and have enough delta-v, to reproduce the second half of the brachy plus correction (although at least for lesser mass) – close enough that I can survive it without a vector-control core. The closer I get to the Kerjejic gate, the quicker I’ll be picked up once they start coming; and if I’m under thrust, I’ll be easy to spot.

Time to check out the remains of the hangar deck.

…and then there’s another impediment. Which I will not call a problem because there’s very little I can do about it that’s not already being done.

The impact evidently shook something loose in my own hardware that my medichines can’t find, or at least can’t fix, because drugs or no drugs, this headache is not going away. And now there are little light-haloes around characters I’m reading, and other irritating visual glitches. Which might mean that I’ve got a slow leak bleeding into my brain, except the ‘chines would have fixed that by now, but in any case, something is wrong upstairs that a good scanner and a healing vat could probably fix overnight, if I had either a good scanner or a healing vat.

As it is, there’s not much to do but hope that I don’t stroke out or go insane before I get the candle built, and that whatever it is doesn’t react too badly to being put under multiple gravities of thrust.

On I go.