• Published 16th Apr 2014
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Horizon - Nagmeister



Five kerbals go on an interstellar mission and run into a planet of colorful ponies.

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Alsted sat in the Horizon's cupola, looking at the world down below. “I wonder what's happening down there,” he thought to himself. “They haven't sent any transmissions besides that one...”

“It's probably nothing,” said Hanald, who had drifted behind him. “They're probably just busy doing something.”

Alsted hoped that was what was happening; the things that had been seen on that blue sphere were certainly not the most comforting. Especially the weird lion thing, which he had found, from searching the ship's databanks, to look like a mythological Mantikore, made him fear for the lives of his friends and crewmates.

Meanwhile at Mission Control on Kerbin, the reports of what had happened were flooding in. “Well,” said Gene Kerman, head of Mission Control for Horizon, “this is odd.”

“Ya think?” said one of his assistants. “This is the first time Kerbalkind has made contact with an alien species, and it went like THAT?!”

“Well, hopefully it didn't make them hate us.”

“You do realize that we have to release these images – and the video – to the public, right?”

“Not if we can deny the video even exists. The images, however, are likely impossible to cover up. How long can we keep them under wraps for?”

“We can't.”

Outside of Mission Control, hundreds of reporters swarmed. The guards and police were doing a good job of keeping them away from the building, but when Gene Kerman left the building, he dismissed the guards and police and was almost instantly swarmed by random people.

“Gene, sir, what happened?” said one.

“What were the pictures you received?” asked another.

“Can you tell the public about the mission?” said one that looked like a reporter.

“We heard some rumors about extraterrestrial life, can you confirm or deny them?”

Gene turned to face the crowd, gesturing them to get back. “Ladies and gentlekerbs,” he began, “as some of you know, we have received our first surface images from Horizon.” Cheers and applause thundered out from the crowd. “However, we can neither confirm or deny their subjects. What we know is there is a high possibility – within the greater than forty percent range – that there is life on the surface of planet Skolo 138c.”

Questions again arose. “What about our Kerbalnauts? Are they safe?”

“What kind of life?”

“Can it be turned into rocket fuel?”

“Did they find the land of infinite snacks?!”

Gene finished his short speech with, “While we do not have all the necessary information to determine the type of life, or if it even is life, we cannot deny the possibility. If it is sentient, we will attempt to communicate. If it is not sentient,or it is not life at all, we will try to return a sample immediately. Major mission plan changes may be necessary; indeed, it may even become a diplomatic mission, not a scientific one. However, we at the Kerbal Space Program are certain that our brave Kerbalnauts will be safe, and have full confidence to complete their mission, whatever it may become.”

Gene retreated into the building, and the reporters from the major news networks followed. On the control center's social notification panels, there suddenly appeared a swarm of messages from random Kerbals. Then, something happened.

On the large communications screen, Alsted's face appeared, with Hanald next to him. He was somewhat surprised at all the reporters who had come. He quickly regained his composure, and started stating the current mission logs.

“On mission day 276, Commander Jebediah Kerman flew down to the surface with copilot and navigator Bill and scientist Bob. On day 277, they made first contact with what appear to be sentient native life. On day 279, another meeting occurred. These meetings continued every two until earlier today, on day 290, a form of letter was received. It has been scanned, and is currently being uploaded. In about three seconds...two...one... there we go, file transfer complete. Open it up on one of the secondary screens.”

Gene hit a button on his desk, and the image opened up on a side screen. “What...” was all he could say. It was written in rather neat handwriting, in standard Kerbish no less. It even had a signature in the corner, but there was some sort of stain.

“So... we were prevented valuable information about who sent this letter because of a COFFEE STAIN?!” said one of the reporters.

“Do you have any clue who the letter came from?”

“In his report, Jebediah stated that the letter was sent by something that calls itself 'Princess Celestia.' Other than the meetings every other day, however, there is no clear indication that this thing even exists.”

“Well, what in the meeting makes you think it might?”

“The native who we meet with seems to think highly of this creature.”

The reporters all stood in the room, talking with one another. One of them said, “Can you provide pictures of either of these creatures?”

Alsted went over to a compartment and pulled out a folder. Inside were some low-resolution pictures taken by the lander's navigation camera. “There are more high-definition pictures, but they're being uploaded to the ship's database right now. We'll get them to you eventually.”

The reporters stared in awe at the photographs. This creature, whatever it was, was definitely not Kerbal. It was anything but. This would certainly make headlines, so they all ran off to their respective stations to put out a story first.

Soon, the transmission ended and the screen went dark. Alsted drifted away from the communications console and was just about to leave the room when he heard, coming through the console's speaker, in a voice that he did not recognize as Kerbal, “Horizon? Come in, Horizon.”

Author's Note:

Yes, I'm not dead. This chapter is just one that I threw together in a few hours, and is probably going to be subject to heavy revision.