SCP-8969

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RAISA Historical Archive » Stellar Affairs Division » Project VAGABOND » Access Warning

Warning!

The file you are currently attempting to access is filed in the RAISA Historical Archive, and is currently subject to documentation code BRILLIANT—LAKE—VAGABOND.

BRILLIANT: File is pending archival, subject to RAISA assessment.

LAKE: File has not been edited or updated in over fifteen years.

VAGABOND: File is attached to extrastellar colonization initiative Project VAGABOND.





1/8969 LEVEL 1/8969
CLASSIFIED
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Item #: SCP-8969
Neutralized

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SCP-8969 on Luna, as captured by satellite ARCHIMEDES-2.


SPECIAL CONTAINMENT PROCEDURES: SCP-8969 has dissipated and requires no further containment efforts; the Stellar Affairs Division will continue to monitor ARCHIMEDES satellite telemetry over the Aitken Basin in the event SCP-8969 reforms.

Godspeed, VAGABOND Team.

DESCRIPTION: SCP-8969 was an unstable spatial anomaly measuring 5.6 km2 in surface area that formed in the Aitken Basin on Luna, Earth's only moon, between January 15th and May 11th, 2001. Initially, SCP-8969 superficially resembled a Class-W dimensional gateway (colloquially referred to as a Way) in form and function; insertion of a remote probe by on-site Stellar Affairs Division personnel at the request of Stellar Affairs Deputy Director Lt. Casey Temple indicated that unlike a Class-W gateway, SCP-8969 neither required an access ritual (i.e. a Knock), nor did it lead out into the Wanderer's Library.

Instead, the probe was released at high velocity into an as-yet undiscovered solar system located some 6,500 light-years from Earth in the Perseus arm of the Milky Way. In order to facilitate communication regarding the system, it was given the proper name Vanaheim. The probe had sustained severe damage from traveling through SCP-8969 (still immature at the time), but remained operational enough to fall into a rapidly-decaying orbit of the fifth and largest moon of the fifth planet in the system, designated Vanaheim-f5. During its descent, the probe captured visual and environmental data strongly suggesting the presence of plant life on the surface, which controlled tests later confirmed to be the case with the additional possibility of animal life. This represents the first encounter with extraterrestrial life in recorded human history.

Given that SCP-8969's maturation process mirrored that of standard Ways, projections indicated it would reach peak stability in approximately six months before rapidly destabilizing and dissipating; at its peak, it would be stable enough to send persons and large cargo through with minimal risk of harm.

Following an emergency session with the O5 Council, Stellar Affairs Director Michael Atreus approved the execution of Operation VAGABOND: the emergency conversion of the FSV Otrera, initially intended as a backup to the Starsite-1 lunar base and afterward being prepared for use as the Foundation's first outpost on Mars, into a colony ship equipped to land as a self-sufficient forward operating base on Vanaheim-f5. Deputy Director Lt. Temple was promoted to Commander of the FSV Otrera, and preparations immediately began to retrofit it into humanity's first true starship.


Section 8969.1

INTRODUCTION


RAISA Historical Archive » Stellar Affairs Division » Project VAGABOND » Mission History

Over the course of SCP-8969's maturation cycle, Stellar Affairs administrators launched a massive program to headhunt potential VAGABOND mission candidates, from both inside and outside the Foundation.

Due to the logistical complexity involved in transporting hundreds of personnel to the lunar surface, personnel were placed into one of three categories:

  • SCHEDULE I: Mission-critical personnel; ship command, flight crew, astroengineers, navigators, mechanics, et cetera. Schedule I crew were transported to Starsite-1 via FSV as soon as their training was complete, and waited in either Starsite-1 or the Medusa Station until departure day, when they were on board the Otrera as it went through SCP-8969.
  • SCHEDULE II: Noncritical mission-significant personnel; administrators, biologists, physicists, farmers, xenologists, auxiliary engineers and mechanics, etc. Schedule II crew were trained on Earth and transported to the lunar surface after the Otrera was completed, several days before departure day. They embarked through SCP-8969 either aboard the Otrera or on the auxiliary shuttles.
  • SCHEDULE III: Noncritical support crew; cooks, cartographers, security troops, ancillary support staff, etc. Schedule III crew were trained on Earth and transported directly to Vanaheim-f5 through auxiliary shuttles. Additional Schedule III crew continued to be shuttled to Starsite-3 once it was established, until SCP-8969 destabilized past its Martin window and travel was no longer possible.

On February 26th, 2001, the first shipment of Schedule 1, mission-critical personnel for Project VAGABOND arrived at Starsite-1 aboard the FSV Iskander shuttle. The thirty personnel included design engineers for the Otrera, astronomers, and physicists crucial to evaluating whether the project could work. Also aboard was Commander Casey Temple, future commanding officer of the Otrera.

85 DAYS TO LAUNCH

ATTACHED AUDIO MESSAGE — CMDR. CASEY TEMPLE

«BEGIN LOG»


[Fumbling with the microphone.]

TEMPLE: Hello? This working? Okay, cool.

[Silence.]

TEMPLE: Okay. Hi. I'm Case. Well, my legal name's Erin, Lt. Erin Casey Temple. Commander. Commander Casey Temple. Damnit. Still not used to that. Sorry. Wait, why am I apologizing to myself? Let's start over.

[She inhales.]

TEMPLE: Captain's log, stardate…. we don't have stardates. It's May 14th, 7:03PM GMT on Earth. Actually, for that matter, I'm not even really a captain yet, since the Otrera hasn't set sail. Set jet? Whatever. I'm sitting in my bunk in the hab we've hastily thrown together outside the crater. Fuck, I forgot to mention the crater.

TEMPLE: Okay, you know what? This isn't working, I'm gonna try this again in an hour.


«END LOG»

ATTACHED AUDIO MESSAGE — CMDR. CASEY TEMPLE

«BEGIN LOG»


TEMPLE: Okay. I'm back. Let's try to be professional about this.

[Pause.]

TEMPLE: My name is Commander Casey Temple. I don't know who's going to be listening to this in the future, but I'm the commanding officer of the FSV Otrera, currently undergoing retrofitting and maintenance in the Medusa Basin on the Moon. In less than three months, this ship, along with a full complement of six hundred crew members, is going to fall through a wormhole that opened on the dark side of the Moon and drive itself half a mile into the surface of Vanaheim-f5. It's our job to set up a forward operating base for humanity and for the Foundation. This is a one-way trip; the wormhole will almost certainly dissipate soon afterward.

TEMPLE: These days my time is spent in commander training, which is a hastily-slapped-together regimen of courses and lessons and reading to try and prepare me for a job that no one on or off the planet has ever done before. I've got nothing better to do while they get my ship and my crew together for me. Dr. Hoisen — our psychologist — has recommended everyone keep these little personal audio diaries to document our thoughts. If we're lucky, we'll get an opportunity to send the files back to Earth before the wormhole closes. Forever.

[Silence.]

TEMPLE: I'm kind of glad he did, because honestly, I'm fucking terrified. There are about a hundred thousand different permutations of things that could go wrong. But I'm doing my best not to think about it. Unsuccessfully, I might add. The way my last expedition for StellAf ended, it's kind of hard to think about anything but this mission meeting an unfortunate end. Maybe the Otrera can't meet the modification deadline. Maybe the specialists misanalyzed the formation pattern of the wormhole, and it can't handle humans. Maybe the O5s will just realize that this isn't worth the risk and can it.

[Silence.]

TEMPLE: Or maybe I'm just not cut out for this.


«END LOG»


RAISA Historical Archive » Stellar Affairs Division » Project VAGABOND » Mission History

The FSV Otrera is a MISTLETOE-class Foundation space vessel constructed from 1975 to 1978, in parallel with its sister ship, the FSV Akhenaten. In 1979, the Akhenaten established Starsite-1 as the Foundation's first permanent lunar presence. The MISTLETOE-class is notable due to its incorporation of various paratechnologies that allow it to approach a planet at high speed and drive its bow-section into the surface without harming the personnel or cargo carried inside. This creates a large habitable space within the vessel that is protected from environmental hazards as well as creating a central "spire" around which a full site can be constructed.

The initial MISTLETOE-class was designed with the expectation of only going as far as Luna, and as such only had a capacity for 50 crew members and cargo. Over the following years as Starsite-1 became self-sufficient and Stellar Affairs' primary directive transitioned to building a permanent installation on Mars, the Otrera was gradually upgraded and expanded to a capacity of over 200 by 1991. Astroengineers stressed modularity in the design philosophy, which paid off during its second round of upgrades in 2001.

61 DAYS TO LAUNCH


ATTACHED AUDIO MESSAGE — SR. ENGR. KARL WILHELM

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Senior Engineer Karl Wilhelm

WILHELM: The best kind of engineering is the kind you don't have to do. We are lucky in this regard; the Stellar Affairs engineers of yesteryear already unlocked the secrets of twisting paratechnology into propulsion, heat shielding, force dispersion, kinetic protection, et cetera. In their infinite wisdom, they proceeded to leave this, perhaps one of the single most advanced objects ever created by man, at the bottom of a crater on the Moon.

WILHELM: No matter. We are rebuilding her, superior to what she was before, greater than the sum of her parts. I would be lying if I said it was not invigorating; there is a grander purpose to this machine than most things the Foundation designs. She is not a Scranton Reality Anchor or a more secure containment cell. She is the future.

WILHELM: She will work; she must work.

ATTACHED AUDIO MESSAGE — LT. ATREUS


ATREUS: The Otrera is a beautiful thing. A long, silvery, tapered cylinder four hundred meters long — a spear, really, and intended to be used like one. Well, she was never really intended to be used at all, thinking about it. Her little sister, Akhenaten, was the one we shot into the moon to form the tentpole for Starsite-1; Otrera was a backup, in case something went horribly wrong. When it didn't, we just kind of stuck her up here and forgot about her until we needed her again for Mars.

ATREUS: It's weird, now, to see her being a hive of activity again. I took the rover to Medusa and crawled in through a tunnel. It's what I imagine the interior of an anthill looks like: a hundred engineers, rushing around cold-welding panels to a skeleton and applying thermal shielding. Exosuits they're using to lift the heavy stuff; even a few miniature cranes to carry the massive curved hullpieces into position. And this silver spear at the center of it all, lying half-disassembled.

ATREUS: I don't know how the hell Dad managed to talk the Council into this boondoggle, or why I'm here. But right now, seeing the Otrera lying there as they pull the thrusters away and extend its body, I have no idea how they plan to make this work.

ATTACHED AUDIO MESSAGE — CMDR. CASEY TEMPLE


TEMPLE: I like to imagine that in the distant future when someone is listening to these, humanity — non-Veiled humanity, I mean — will have settled the moon. I don't exactly know how the Foundation is going to explain the skyscraper that's already there, but let's assume they do, and the person listening to this wants to know what living on the moon is like.

TEMPLE: Bad news: it sucks. Medusa Crater is covered with a metal shield to stop debris from potentially hitting and compromising the integrity of the Otrera while it's under construction, but the Schedule 1 crew that they're shuttling up here don't live in the crater. We live either in a small set of habitats just outside of it, like me, or four hours rover-drive away at Starsite-1. If you've ever owned hamsters and had one of those colored-plastic mazes for them, that's basically been my living situation for the past 3 months. Low gravity, low ceilings, little water, tasteless dehydrated food. Showers are basically a fantasy, and every so often a rock clunks the panelling of the dome and makes us all skittish.

[Pause.]

TEMPLE: God, I missed this place. Took a moonwalk to clear my thoughts the other day. I've been talking with Dr. Hoisen — he says it's not abnormal to feel this way, in the circumstances. I don't think he's wrong; I'd be really suspicious if the person whose shoulders the weight of humanity's survival was suddenly thrust on was feeling great about it. It's the pressure of all pressures. But whether it's normal or not doesn't change the reality that's starting to settle in for me: I don't know if I can do this. I couldn't cut it last time, and they grounded me. But the stakes this time are so much higher. I get nervous even going out of my room because everyone's eyes are on me and the only thing I can think is "their lives depend on me not fucking up". Not a great thing to think if you have a history of fucking up.

TEMPLE: I look up at the sky, at the Earth, waiting for that moment all the famous astronauts talk about, of feeling total peace and oneness with the universe. It doesn't come.


RAISA Historical Archive » Stellar Affairs Division » Project VAGABOND » Mission History

By June 10th, the new extended chassis of the Otrera was stress-tested by engineers to determine whether it could withstand the force that would be placed on it. The beams were displaced by 0.9 centimeters — comfortably within the tensile range of 0.75 to 1.50 centimeters. The extension for the chassis was the first and most significant obstacle to getting the Otrera mission-ready, and was projected to take at least 35 days even with anomalous assistance. It was completed in 26.

The transportation of Schedule 1 personnel to the lunar surface continued steadily, with all Foundation vessels not otherwise engaged being pressed into service. On June 7th, for the first time in human history, the population of the moon crossed the 100 mark.

49 DAYS TO LAUNCH


ATTACHED AUDIO MESSAGE — DR. CHRIS LI

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Dr. Chris Li

LI: I loved space as a kid, watched The Right Stuff, had piles of books about the solar system and the sun and all sorts of things. But childhood fantasies have a way of getting crushed by reality. I got older and found out I wasn't particularly great with the math-heavy sciences; physics, pure math, engineering. Chemistry was more my speed, particularly plant chemistry. Interesting stuff, but not terribly relevant to a space program that was dying anyway.

LI: So instead I study plants, both anomalous and mundane, at Site-15. Not a Stellar Affairs researcher, not an astrophysicist, just a botanist. When I was approached by two StellAf liaisons with a printout of various chemical soil data, I just assumed it was some classified anomaly they were unwilling to tell me about. Hardly uncommon. They just said in vague terms that they wanted to know whether it seemed likely that this soil could support plant life. When I told them it had all the necessities — nitrogen, potassium, phosphorous — they asked if I could refer them to the most qualified person in the Foundation on soil fertility and botany. Somewhat sheepishly, I told them they were talking to him.

[Pause.]

LI: And now I'm wearing a spacesuit on the Moon while we watch the first starship in human history come together. Life has a way of working out.

ATTACHED AUDIO MESSAGE — DR. ALEJANDRA CASAUS


CASAUS: I wasn't really expecting anything when the away team went off on the rover to investigate the ARCHIMEDES anomaly — that's what we called it, before it was designated SCP-8969. There were about 50 of us here at Starsite-1 when it happened. Since then, the number has ballooned to almost 150.

CASAUS: When they said it looked like a Way, I openly laughed at them. You don't get Ways on the moon. That's insane. But then the photos started coming in. That characteristic iridescent sheen, like a pool of oil someone carelessly spilled across the lunar surface. The waviness in the space surrounding it, like asphalt on a hot day. By the time I got clearance to visit the site as Starsite-1's chief science officer, I was already halfway there in a rover.

CASAUS: The moon just isn't very anomalous. Nothing much up here except for us. And then this, appearing out of nowhere. A one-time opportunity to sling ourselves farther than any man has gone before. I'm not religious, but it's hard to deny a sign when you see one, you know?

CASAUS: They didn't want to give up the Starsite-1 science officer, but the moment I saw the Otrera, it was over. I demanded to go. She's beautiful, and she needs to carry the brightest minds we have to offer. I'm smart enough to know that's me.

ATTACHED AUDIO MESSAGE — CMDR. CASEY TEMPLE


TEMPLE: I suppose it's time for full disclosure, in case you haven't figured it out yet: not my first time on the moon. I got recruited into the Foundation Astronaut Corps right after we landed the Akhenaten. By 1980, I was on the motherfucking moon. Until now, Starsite-1 has been our magnum opus at StellAf; once you're up there, seeing it with your own eyes, it's not hard to see why. A skyscraper, tip screwed into the lunar regolith. The inside is bare-bones but who cares about creature comforts when you can bounce from wall to wall? When you can suit up and walk outside on the moon dust and see the entire Earth, rendered like a blue marble you can just pop between your fingers?

[Sigh.]

TEMPLE: Like a lot of Foundation personnel and most of our astronauts at the time, I'm augmented. For me, it was my legs. Car accident while I was in talks with NASA to go through their training program. My legs weren't the only thing that got crushed. The thing I'd been working my whole life towards, squish. I was despondent. My mom told me I didn't speak for weeks. Just staring off into space in my hospital bed. Then, one day, I got visited by a guy in a dark suit who said that he represented an organization that could help me. Not just get my legs back, but go to the moon. I thought it was some kind of sick fucking prank. Nearly leapt off the bed and strangled him. Glad I didn't.

TEMPLE: That was the first time I met the Director.


RAISA Historical Archive » Stellar Affairs Division » Project VAGABOND » Mission History

The structural modifications to the Otrera were completed on July 6th. The ship had started at a length of 204 meters; by the end of all modifications, it had more than doubled in length to 413 meters. A month out from departure day, engineering focus shifted to developing the interiors for human habitation and, critically, improving the propulsion systems to carry the additional weight.

At this point, nearly all Schedule 1 personnel had been transported to the lunar surface.

32 DAYS TO LAUNCH


ATTACHED AUDIO MESSAGE — DR. ALEJANDRA CASAUS


CASAUS: Since we found the wormhole, we've sent basically every probe we can scrounge up through it. It's located very conveniently: close enough to the planet that it's the most powerful gravitational contributor, but far enough that we can collect data on everything else surrounding it.

CASAUS: The sun, or what passes for it, is actually a white dwarf, the incredibly dense core that's left behind when a star like our sun dies and expands, shedding its outer layers. It's probably the most beautiful little blue gem I've ever seen. Unfortunately, when those layers are shed, it sacrifices most of the star's luminosity, so it's a lot harder for white dwarfs to support habitable planets. That's where the gas giant comes in.

CASAUS: Well, we thought it was a gas giant at first. We're still calling it a giant for simplicity. Really, it's something called a brown dwarf — a type of substellar object that's too large and hot to be a gas giant but too small and cold to be a star. It fuses deuterium, so it does emit radiation, but mostly in the infrared band. It'll heat our new planet, but most of our light is going to come from the white dwarf.

CASAUS: Since the planet is so close to the giant, it's tidally locked. That means we need to make a distinction between the "dayside" - the side that's constantly facing the giant — and the "nightside" — the side that never sees it. That's not to say they don't both get light. The planet orbits the giant once every ten or so hours, so there's five hours of daylight followed by five hours of darkness, minus around twenty minutes on the dayside when the dwarf is behind the giant. Even the term "dayside" is a bit of an exaggeration — the giant does provide a constant low level of illumination, but it's no more than what you'd get from a full moon. Oh, and it's red.

CASAUS: That's about as far as my expertise can take me. I might be chief science officer, but I'm just a physicist. I've asked Dr. Li and Dr. Novikov to brief Commander Temple and I on the surface conditions as soon as possible, particularly those that pertain to habitability and native life.

CASAUS: We've got a month left. We're gonna use every second of it.

ATTACHED AUDIO MESSAGE — DR. ARVIND RAJENDRAN


RAJENDRAN: I have a long history with Commander Temple. She remains one of the smartest, toughest, wisest, most capable and natural-born leaders I have ever had the pleasure of serving under. Those are all reasons I cited when I refused to remove her leg prosthetics in 1987, along with a score of other StellAf personnel who had just been grounded. I know how big of a deal Amoni-Ram was; I've been with the Foundation longer than many of my colleagues have been alive. But the reality is that even in 1987, we had no medical evidence personnel with augmentations who never stepped foot in Amoni-Ram were subject to Robert Aram's influence. Of course, that didn't stop the O5 Council from ordering a recall and interrogation of all personnel with them — which, at the time, included 80% of astronauts at Starsite-1, led by Commander Temple — though she was still a Lieutenant, then.

RAJENDRAN: I am eternally grateful the Director stepped in when he did; he prevented many of his personnel from being crippled all over again, and he prevented me from having to do it or risk being fired. On that day, he guaranteed the loyalty of some of the bravest men and women I have ever known. Unfortunately, even he couldn't stop the Starsite program from being shuttered; for 5 years, Starsite-1 lay dark, quiet, and utterly empty. Operations were eventually restarted — with the caveat that augmented personnel could not be astronauts. Lieutenant Temple and her team retired to desk jobs at StellAf headquarters in Site-69, and I went with them to take care of their unique needs.

RAJENDRAN: The thing about augmentation is that it's one of the most complicated medical procedures there is. Every operating room needs a surgeon, an engineer, and a half dozen technicians minimum. Ever since Prometheus went under back in '91, it's gotten harder and harder to get the information we need on their models. That knowledge is being lost.

RAJENDRAN: Nearly a third of this expedition has an augment of some kind, be that as major as a limb replacement like the Commander's or as minor as an ocular recording device. The Foundation's only letting that happen because we're going so far from Earth that if something does happen, they'll never be at risk or even have reason to know. I can only hope they give us what we need to make it work. I have the most medical experience regarding augmentation from across the Foundation, and I'm still far from being an expert. I just hope I can be what these people need me to be.

ATTACHED AUDIO MESSAGE — CMDR. CASEY TEMPLE


TEMPLE: I'm not too close to a lot of people around here. Especially after I got grounded. More on that later. But the Director? He's stuck his neck out for me way too often for me not to appreciate it. Weird dude, mysterious, lots of sway with the Council, but nobody you'd rather have in your corner.

TEMPLE: Anyway, I was saying. I'm trying to socialize more in the habitats. If it wasn't for the legs, I think most people wouldn't even realize I was commander. You kind of stand out in a crowd when you've got a pair of Prometheus Labs hunkers below the waist. Though I'm hardly the only augmented one here — lots of good folks with metal arms, or ocular implants. That makes it a little easier to talk to them, a shared experience.

TEMPLE: I guess mainly I don't really know what I'm doing. When I was in the Air Force, the relationship you have with subordinates is pretty clearly defined. That carried over to StellAf. But these aren't just guys I'm giving orders to — these are people I'm gonna be leading, literally for the rest of our lives. I can't just be a boss. I need to be something better. I need to be a leader.

TEMPLE: My XO, Lieutenant Atreus, visited today, to see how the ship was coming along. He lives at Starsite-1 the rest of the time. Good kid, though he's got a bit of a chip on his shoulder. The Director's kid, and those are some goddamn massive boots to fill. Anyway, he was shocked. And, I'll admit, so am I. I talked them into letting me see the bridge. You really wouldn't believe it. I'm still not sure I believe it.

TEMPLE: The Director called me yesterday. Not for long, just a few minutes; video communication with Earth from here is a massive pain, so we try to avoid it. Nice little talk. Nothing important.


RAISA Historical Archive » Stellar Affairs Division » Project VAGABOND » Mission History

The modifications to the FSV Otrera's propulsion systems were comparatively minor to the structural overhaul. It was powered by the same high-yield fuel that had fueled the FSV Akhenaten, but the comparatively weak gravity of the moon meant that even at nearly triple the mass, the existing propulsion system would effectively be able to deliver the Otrera into lunar orbit. Attention was focused on recalibrating the propulsion system for the new, somewhat idiosyncratic weight distribution of the Otrera. The interior was built with the understanding that for most of its life after landing, the ship would be a static structure and 'upside-down', with the nose and upper third eventually being underground. Crew cabins were thus focused towards the nose, with storage and cargo areas in the middle.

Final psychological evaluations on personnel began two weeks out from launch day.

15 DAYS TO LAUNCH


ATTACHED AUDIO MESSAGE — DR. HANNA NOVIKOV

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Dr. Hanna Novikov

NOVIKOV: I am realizing I am among a very small number of people here who have only recently learned of the Foundation.

NOVIKOV: When I was contacted by this organization, I assumed it was some kind of joke. They informed me I was the best expert they could find in the field of exobiology. I thanked them for the compliment, corrected their misconception, and sent them on their way. The agents clarified I was the best expert that nobody would worry about if I vanished, and that it was in my best interests to work with them.

NOVIKOV: I continued to believe it was a joke up until I was flown across the ocean, rushed through training, and placed in the shuttle. Upon landing at the lunar base, I transitioned to believing it was a dream, and gave myself two weeks to labor under this delusion. I am a punctual woman, and so on the fifteenth day, I processed my shock and awe at my new reality in fifteen minutes, and then I got to work. A month ago, the ship was lying gutted like a wounded animal. Today, the hull is shining and the interior is being built. Things are moving quickly, and I will not be left behind.


ATTACHED AUDIO MESSAGE — SR. ENGNR. WILHELM


WILHELM: Two weeks out. I could scarcely be more shocked or proud of my team. This is the task of a lifetime. We completed it in less than three months. It was admittedly helped along by the fact that we were all working with preexisting designs and with a truly infinite budget — and that this ship was being constructed off-Earth. That means we never had to worry about escaping orbit. In many ways, this ship is not meant to fly; it is meant to fall.

WILHELM: Regardless, the hull is complete with thermal shielding, and the interiors are almost finished. Four to a cabin is tight, but when the ship is set up and the expedition can expand and construct new buildings, hopefully it will ease up. Not that I will ever know.

WILHELM: Part of the reason I threw myself headfirst into this work was to avoid answering a key question: will I go with them? A younger me would have unquestioningly said yes. But I am 50. I have a wife and two children. The Foundation assured me they would be taken care of, but what kind of man would I be if I wandered off to an adventure and let my family believe I died? Many people aboard this ship took that choice, and when she takes off, she will leave behind many broken families and absentee funerals.

WILHELM: No. No, I have done my part; the Otrera will fly without me. I will never know if my magnum opus succeeded. I can only run the numbers and hope.

ATTACHED AUDIO MESSAGE — DR. CHRIS LI

LI: While Hanna gets used to her new reality, I've been working with her to assemble a brief on the conditions relevant to life on our new world. She's a smart kid, but obviously out of her depth. So would I, in her position. Hell, I already am in my position.

LI: The planet is a bit smaller than we're used to. 80% Earth gravity, but with a thicker atmosphere. We think the atmosphere is shielded from solar winds by an incredibly powerful magnetic field, which also protects the surface from the giant's more damaging radiation. As for water, there's a single ocean, which stretches in a wide band across the equator, separating the north and south into two massive continents.

LI: Life itself is abundant, mostly in the form of vegetation. It's mostly greenish, but leans yellow on the dayside and blue on the nightside — we're pretty sure that has to do with the balance of wavelengths between the dwarf and the giant. We've also seen evidence of insect-like life, but we're fairly sure it's larger and less abundant than what we see here on Earth, since atmospheric oxygen is higher.

LI: Overall, there's nothing either Dr. Novikov or I could find that indicate it's an unsafe place for human settlement. The way native species respond to us is yet to be seen and adjusting to the conditions is going to take time, but we will adjust. Unless something goes catastrophically wrong… this could be home.

ATTACHED AUDIO MESSAGE — CMDR. CASEY TEMPLE


TEMPLE: I feel a little better now.

TEMPLE: That talk did me good, I think. A lot of good. Since then I've been spending a shitton of time out in the habs. Talking to people. Getting to know them. We're a diverse bunch, pulled from all over the world. We've got every gender, ethnicity, faith, creed, and walk of life represented here. That's an unspeakable concentration of world experiences, packed into a bunch of tents on the moon. And they're all looking to me.

TEMPLE: For whatever reason, that thought doesn't terrify me anymore. It's… invigorating. Not to quote Trek so often, but we really are going where no one has gone before. It was an abstract possibility back then, but it feels so close now. The ship is nearly complete, they're doing the computers now — which are critical but I trust the guys. They've managed to pull this project together from nothing, so kudos there.

TEMPLE: I had a meeting with Casaus and Atreus — the Otrera's chief science officer and XO. Technically I'm in command, but I've had plenty of bad experiences from subordinates feeling like they're, well, subordinate. I'm more than happy to share the responsibility with them. And they know the buck stops with me, not them. I think it's gonna be a good relationship.

TEMPLE: We also picked out a landing site today. Our maps are pretty basic, but we found a nice little peninsula on the northern continent, near the termination line between dayside and nightside. And maybe this is selfish, but I am the commander — I kind of want to take the first step outside. I watched Neil Armstrong take that first clumsy hop on the moon as a kid — call it cliché, but that was my moment.

TEMPLE: With any luck, the first legs to step on our new world will be made of steel and carbon fiber. And with a little more, the first lungs to breath that air will be breathing easy.


RAISA Historical Archive » Stellar Affairs Division » Project VAGABOND » Mission History

The final days of preparation for the launch of the FSV Otrera consisted of transporting Schedule II personnel from Earth to Medusa Basin, along with critical supplies and equipment. Hundreds of tons of rations were loaded into the ship to sustain the expedition until agriculture could be established, along with requisite agricultural supplies. Redundant copies of highly-compressed digital data were placed at various points throughout the ship, covering a vast and diverse archive of human knowledge. Flash-frozen embryos to reflect the approximate genetic diversity of humanity were loaded onto the ship, along with artificial wombs. Personnel with remaining attachments to Earth were permitted to record personal messages for friends and family, to be distributed by the Foundation in the event of a future BM-class Broken Masquerade scenario.

4 DAYS TO LAUNCH


ATTACHED AUDIO MESSAGE — CMDR. CASEY TEMPLE


TEMPLE: Some stupid part of me thought things would be less busy when the ship was complete. I was dead wrong.

TEMPLE: This place is a madhouse now. More people than ever coming in, people I didn't even think we would need — geneticists, architects, bankers, historians, mechanics, linguists. We even got an extremely, extremely sensitive special order straight from Earth: twenty thousand flash-frozen human embryos. I knew they didn't expect us to like, repopulate the human race by hand, but it's still staggering to see. The camp is full to bursting, so we've been moving older arrivals to inside the Otrera.

TEMPLE: Oh, yeah. I took a tour of my new posting, now that it's complete. Fuck yes, dude. Fuck yes. She's a behemoth. We went in through the cargo hold, which is being packed with every item you could think to ever need, and a fabricator for things you don't. It's kind of impossible to explore it fully, because it's laying down when it's designed to be standing vertical, but I got the picture. Cabins on cabins, a media library with everything from Homer to Deep Space Nine, a pool — empty, obviously — I mean, I even get a stateroom to myself.

TEMPLE: And the bridge. God, you wouldn't believe the bridge. It kind of makes me sad it's only ever going to fly once. Standing in front of that viewport, hands clasped between my back, watching as they inched back the metal covering the mouth of the crater… I think I finally felt what those astronauts were talking about.

[Silence.]

TEMPLE: The Director was right. I see that now. This is what I'm meant for. You can't run from what you're meant to be. That thought doesn't scare me anymore.


0 DAYS TO LAUNCH

RAISA Historical Archive » Stellar Affairs Division » Project VAGABOND » Mission History

On August 7th, the FSV Otrera was lifted upright by 17 cranes, and stabilized inside Medusa crater. At 0201 hours GMT, the ship's main engine was activated, and the Otrera took flight, settling into a thrust vector that would take it into the lunar orbit until it was in a position to stop thrusting and enter into a controlled descent towards SCP-8969.

At 0712 hours, the Otrera passed through the lip of SCP-8969, and into the Vanaheim system, representing the first time humanity had left our solar system. It continued its controlled fall towards the surface of Vanaheim-f5, remaining in regular contact with Stellar Affairs Command. At 0933 hours, the ship made contact with the surface at Landing Zone 1. As expected, communications with the Otrera were temporarily interrupted. Secondary shuttles were withheld until communication could be-reestablished.


ATTACHED AUDIO MESSAGE — CMDR. CASEY TEMPLE

«BEGIN LOG»


COMMAND: Otrera, please respond.
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COMMAND: Otrera, please respond.
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COMMAND: Otrera, please respond.
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COMMAND: Otrera, pleas—

OTRERA: This is Otrera actual. Hear you loud and clear, Command.

[Background cheering from Mission Command.]

COMMAND: Delighted to hear you again, Commander. Status report?

OTRERA: It was a little bumpy on the way down, took a few bruises. But everyone's alive. Worst damage is a broken arm. The Otrera is firmly wedged 105 meters underground with minimal structural damage to the hull.

COMMAND: Angle?

OTRERA: Stabilized at 1.45 degrees. Damn near perfect. This baby isn't going anywhere.

COMMAND: That's excellent, excellent news. We're ready to start sending the FSV shuttles through as soon as you give the all-clear.

OTRERA: Sensor readings should start coming through in the next ten minutes, I'd like those in first.

COMMAND: Roger.

OTRERA: Now, I'd love to chat — but the crew's waiting to open the first airlock to the outside.

COMMAND: Is there a mechanical issue with it?

OTRERA: No. They're just waiting for me. Commander gets first step, you know. I've got a great line worked out and everything.

COMMAND: Ah.

OTRERA: Be back in a jiffy. Got somewhere I'm meant to be.


«END LOG»










RAISA Historical Archive » Stellar Affairs Division » Project VAGABOND » Mission History

Supplies and additional Schedule III for Project VAGABOND continued to be shuttled in through SCP-8969 until August 28th, when the gate exited its Martin window and the passage of equipment and supplies became dangerous. Radio signals were still able to pass, and Site-69 continued to exchange updates with Starsite-3, when the increasing distortion caused by the anomaly's destabilization made even simple text communication impossible. SCP-8969 experienced a predicted rapid destablization. The final communication with Starsite-3 was received at 0641 hours on September 9th, consisting of the following message:

BREATHING EASY
SEE YOU ON THE OTHER SIDE

As the Vanaheim system is approximately 6500 light-years from Earth, communication is unlikely to ever be resumed. SCP-8969 completely dematerialized at 1644 hours on September 10th, 34 years, 5 months, and 16 days ago.

We wish them nothing but the best of luck.


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