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.

Drinking Problem

“Thirty-Two Tons, this is Clajdia SysCon, we’re going to need you to abort your next maneuver, recompute for previous burn time plus twelve minutes, crossing traffic drone freighter DF-01369. Over.”

“Clajdia SysCon, Thirty-Two Tons, negative on that, we have traffic priority over drone freighters. Over.”

“Thirty-Two Tons, Clajdia SysCon, affirmative, but you don’t want to exercise priority over one-three-six-nine, over.”

“Clajdia SysCon, Thirty-Two Tons, clarify please. Over.”

“Thirty-Two Tons, Clajdia SysCon, one-three-six-nine is a three-hundred-barrel fermenter of Callaneth’s Finest Ballistic Beer with a special requirement for constant acceleration. We preempt her for you, they lose thrustdown. They lose thrustdown, they lose the batch. They lose the batch, all the belters out of Ipsy Station want your heads to decorate their candles. How badly do you want to harsh the local color? Over.”

“Clajdia SysCon, Thirty-Two Tons, recomputing as requested. Clear.”

Hohmann Transfer Delta-V Approximator

Speaking of handy little Mathcad tools, this one is a generic delta-v approximator for planet-to-planet Hohmann transfers, based on the same mathematics as this Stack Overflow answer:


As mentioned there, it makes various assumptions, including that the bodies’ orbits around their sun are within delta of circular and coplanar (which works reasonably well for Sol), and that you aren’t using low-thrust drives and as such it can get away with treating burns as instantaneous. The further you wander away from these, the more approximate the approximation gets, belike. Caveat calculator!

Anyway, here it is:



Make Yourself at Home

“Welcome to Tessil System Space. You are now entering the Tessil system advisory zone. Contact Tessil SysCon on channel 43.2 and identify. Current ephemerides and system documentation updates are now being transmitted. Procedural control is now in effect.”

“Current alerts: Undocumented debris has been spotted in Adírdis-Celéres brachistochrone route section four, moving at 4.1 miles per second. Subchannel 7 contains continuous loop data on this navigational hazard.”

“Outer system approach vectors between 225+75 and 210+60 have been closed off due to a lighthugger’s deceleration burn. These approach vectors will be cleared for traffic in 27 hours.”

“A hazardous material incident has closed primary docks and locks at Qéral Station, Tessil L4. Duration of closure will be 5.8 hours estimated. Starships and spacecraft arriving at Qéral Station within this window are advised to delay their arrival or divert to alternates. Starships and spacecraft lacking Δv for such maneuvers should contact Tessil SysCon on channel 43.2.”

“New alert: Solar monitoring satellites indicate magnetic flux activity over the acme polar region of the system primary. Estimated time to solar flare is 49 minutes from this mark. Duration estimated at four hours, with peak radiation output of 0.12 Gy per minute. Tessil SysCon recommends all unshielded sophonts seek radiation shelters within the next 30 light-lag adjusted minutes. Solar flare predictions are accurate to +/- 20%.”

“Message repeats. Welcome to Tessil System Space…”

– Tessil-Galáré stargate nav buoy, general broadcast

Trope-a-Day: The Bridge

The Bridge: Unusually for fiction, buried right in the middle of the ship where some smartass can’t shoot it off.  Also, very distinctly not the Combat Information Center, the Flight Deck/Conning Tower, any kind of conference or communications room, Damage Control Central, Flight Operations, Astrogation, or any one of the other assorted rooms scattered throughout the ship’s volume where some department or other runs its stuff.

In some designs, may even be entirely virtual.