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Everything posted by KSK

  1. I can't really think of a tank of rocket fuel that I'd like to hard land on. Seems like I've got an enticing choice of being poisoned, flash fried, flash frozen, asploded or a happy fun combination of any of the above.
  2. Pinched from the comments over at Ars Technica Elon's comments on the first FH flight are also candid. Quote: First of all, I should say that Falcon Heavy requires the simultaneous ignition of 27 orbital class engines. There's a lot that could go wrong there. And I encourage people to come down to the Cape and see the first Falcon Heavy mission. It's guaranteed to be exciting. But it's one of those things that's really difficult to test on the ground. We can fire the engines on the ground and try to simulate the dynamics of having 27 orbital booster engines and the airflow as it goes transonic. It's going to see heavy transonic buffeting. It's behavior at Max Q, there's a lot of risks associated with Falcon Heavy. Real good chance that that first vehicle doesn't make it to orbit. So I want to make sure to set expectations accordingly. I hope it makes it far enough away from the pad that it's not going to cause damage. I would consider that a win, honestly. And yeah. Major pucker factor is the only way to describe it. I think Falcon Heavy is going to be a great vehicle. There's just a lot that's impossible to test on the ground. And we'll do our best. And it ended up being way harder to do Falcon Heavy than we thought. Because at first it sounds really easy to just stick to first stages on as strap-on side boosters. But then everything changes. The loads change, the air dynamics totally change. You triple the vibration and acoustics. So you break the qualification levels and so much of the hardware. The amount of load you’re putting through that center core is crazy because you have two super powerful boosters also shoving that center core. So we had to redesign the whole center-core airframe on the Falcon 9 because it’s going to take so much load. And then you’ve got the separation systems... and, yeah, it just ended up being way way more difficult than we originally thought. We were pretty naive about that. But the next thing is that we're going to fully optimize it. It has about 2.5 times the payload capacity of the Falcon 9. We’re well over 100,000 lb to LEO payload capability. And then it has enough thrust performance to put us in a loop with Dragon 2 around the moon. And Dragon itself, the heat shield is designed with a huge amount of margin. So it has enough margin to handle a lunar reentry. But no question, whoever is on the first flight, brave. Emphasis added. I'm sure the comment about naivete will have caused some 'we told you so' eye-rolling at other companies but I think the lack of sugarcoating from Musk is refreshing. Likewise, there's something endearing about a CEO who will cheerfully admit to 'major pucker factor' like that. Or maybe that's just the six year old in me. On a more serious note, that last paragraph is interesting. Looks like FH is going to get some love, rather than being quickly passed over for the Small Falcon Booster / Raptor 9 / whatever they decide to call the recently announced vehicle. Edit: I think I may keep a copy of that second paragraph around somewhere for use in the more off-the-wall armchair rocket design discussions that seem to happen round this way.
  3. Hah - I expect all those scary Mars bacteria put him off. The moon does seem more aligned with Blue Origin's - and possibly NASA's plans - which might be useful for finding new business. Plus any serious mission profile that uses on-orbit refuelling would be very interesting, to put it mildly. It also sounds very SpaceX somehow, as in, it would be potentially transformative for spaceflight, it's not a new concept in itself but it's not one that people have started bending serious metal for until now. Of course it'll probably also turn out to be Falcon Heavy levels of hard and be developed on about the same schedule. All the same though, my Buck Rogers brain is feeling mollified!
  4. Hard to do Red Dragon without a propulsively landing Dragon. The rational part of my brain is trying hard to persuade me that this is a good thing. Trim the wild fancies for now, double-down on clearing that launch backlog and keep the money coming in, build a stepping stone to a fully fledged BFR... The rest of my brain is completely ignoring all that rationality and is definitely having one of these moments...
  5. Taking an arrow to the knee - kerbal style. Oh - and уоц’ге шеlсоме.
  6. Finished most happily and most handsomely - great job! Seriously - that ending just made me smile. Edit: Added (at long last) to the Fanworks Library - shelved in the Completed Works section under Fiction.
  7. Cool. And 'faff' is a great word. Can be used as a verb, meaning to mess around aimlessly or ineffectually. As in: "Why am I faffing around 'researching' on the internet rather than working on the next chapter of First Flight." Or it can be used as a noun, nearest meaning I can think of is 'hassle'.
  8. The Fan Works 'Show off your awesome KSP picture' thread must be pretty high up the list: 13,312 posts and 2,371,755 views.
  9. My reaction would either be: 10n + 23592U → 14156Ba + 9236Kr + 3 10n Or conceivably: 21D + 63Li → 2 42He
  10. Och it wisnae such a bad option. We got a braw wee lesson too. I think this is where serials can get unstuck because you've got to know what your story is about from the outset which can be tricky - although I take my hat off to the writers here that seem to manage it. With a novel you can (or at least I imagine you can), get the whole first draft down, read, review, pick out the big themes that have hopefully developed over the course of the story and then sharpen them up during revision. Hmmm, I think that KSP history book was largely what the first part of my story was about. It certainly concluded with an infodump (or a pretty good facsimile of one) but hopefully that dump was a contextualisation (that's a big word to be using this early in the morning) of various ideas that had been introduced up until that point, rather than a big indigestible mass of what. That was the idea anyhow.
  11. Cutting and pasting is a bit of a faff but does this help? йцукенгшщзфывапролдьттимсччя Й Ц УКЕНГШЩЗФЫВАПРОЛДЬТЯЧСМИТЬ Thought I had these kicking around somewhere. Happy to do the conversions for you on subsequent chapters and PM them across.
  12. Hmm, I'm not sure, or at least it hasn't happened to me and I doubt that's all attributable to painstaking care on my part. I'd have thought that serialized publication makes it less likely that your readers are less likely to pick up on the odd snafu, simply because they're (with the best will in the world) usually getting a bite sized piece of the story every week and quite often less frequently than that. Makes it hard to keep track of everything. But either way it's completely forgiveable. Mind you, the tried and tested KSK method of avoiding continuity censor is to place the real howlers at least two years apart. I'm not claiming its a good method.
  13. *blinks* *opens mouth*... *closes mouth* Does this involve trashing Tokyo or dubious Dr Who villains at any point? Enquiring minds need to know.
  14. Me too. It does look a bit busy but I think one reason for that might be that you're not just cussing in faux Cyrillic but using it for everything Val(?) is saying.
  15. Okay then. As @Ten Key mentioned, we were talking about our different approaches to writing and he came out with this comment, which I think is a good summary. "Here, I think the difference in our writing style is our approach to world building. I tend to glue together what I want to happen and then go back and world build around it. I think you kind of have the opposite approach-- world build first and then find the story." It occurs to me - although I may be wildly off the mark here - that there's not so much of a difference between a character led story and a world building led story. IF they're going to carry the story then both characters and worlds need enough depth to be interesting and also to generate consequences. A character led story will be driven by how a character responds to circumstances and, ideally, having those responses be consistent and believable. Similarly, a world-building led story is driven by a consistent set of rules or concepts and how those concepts play off each other to generate consequences. Which is possibly why I enjoy world building. I find building a consistent world to be very satisfying in its own right and also a wonderful way of generating story ideas by taking one aspect of how the world works and following its implications. As an example, the fact that all kerbals in-game have the Kerman surname, title, or whatever you want to call it. Why? Well my take on it was that there is a second sentient species on Kerbal, the Kerm trees. And so Kerman was a contraction of an older title Kerm-an, denoting a kerbal that lives away from or outside of the Kerm. Following that particular piece of fridge logic led to a large swathe of history for the kerbals and most, if not all, of my First Flight story is concerned with revealing that history and following its consequences. The notion that the word Kerm-an could be swapped around to an-Kerm, which has the opposite meaning to Kerm-an, urned out to be quite important too. On a much, much smaller scale, I threw in a couple of other words of so-called Old Kerba, mainly as flavor text. Then, following a query from one reader, I thought it would fun to try and tie these words together a bit and give them some level of underlying grammar. That's definitely a work in progress that may or may not get finished, but I've figured out a few cases and how the present tense works. Which is kinda nice because now I have a consistent framework for throwing in the odd kerbal proverb (and having that framework makes them a lot easier to write!). For example: “Erbabar-beldaonerba ebda berot pilla" The literal translation is ‘words, possessed by those they rely on for words, are half-truths’. Or in modern Kerba - "the words of diplomats are but half-truths.” Now, I like that self-consistency of world building for it's own sake. But, my scraps of Old Kerba grammar had some interesting (well I thought they were interesting ) consequences. Firstly, following up another suggestion from @Ten Key it turned out that I could translate the word 'kerbal' and give it a meaning in Old-Kerba. Better yet that meaning turned out to be entirely consistent with the rest of the story, which was wonderful, if rather serendipitous. Secondly, I chose the word pilla deliberately. It means 'truths'. Corrupt it slightly (to allow for a certain amount of linguistic drift) and it becomes pillar. Which ties in rather nicely with my Council of Twelve Pillars - the ruling body on Kerbin. But thinking about this on the way to work this morning, it occurred to me that this gets a bit deeper. In my world, a common kerbal oath is 'Pillars preserve me', which would translate roughly to 'truths preserve me'. And that ties in very neatly with a previous notion that my kerbals take integrity in public life very seriously indeed (for good historical reasons which I won't go into ), as shown in a previous chapter in which a statement is being put on the public record: “By order of this Council, a petition so placed shall be deemed accurate and inviolable. Any false statement made therein, whether purposeful or inadvertent, does constitute a betrayal of these Twelve Pillars, punishable consecutively, to the fullest extent possible by law, in each of the Six Regionalities of Kerbin." So yeah, kerbals take the truth seriously, so 'truths preserve me' would seem to be an appropriate oath.
  16. I find that really interesting in view of your earlier comment: To me, that's the essence of a good mystery novel and as others have said, I'm fine with mysteries, provided that the clues are there to find. I find Sherlock Holmes stories a little frustrating in that regard - I can never find the clues - so Holmes' brilliant deductions always have a slight air of '....and the butler did it' about them. Similarly, for your lone explorer example, that conclusion would be a great twist in the tale but I could see myself getting frustrated by the notion that the veracity of some of the information is suspect. If it's possible to puzzle out which information is suspect that would be fantastic but just leaving the question hanging - not so much. But yes, I think our differing opinions here are a reflection, or an extension, of our different approaches to writing. More on that in my next post, just in case anyone finds it interesting or useful!
  17. Hey folks, This thread has grown quite a bit since the original First Flight short story. To make things a little easier (and thank you to those who suggested this), here are the links to the various chapters for ease of reading. The whole story is also posted up on my forum blog. Cheers, KSK Contents Prologue: First Flight Part 1: The Interplanetary Society 1: Space Program Rising (Part I) 2: Space Program Rising (Part II) 3: New Directions 4: Satellite 5: Two's Company 6: These New Engines 7: The Courage of Conviction 8: The Other Side 9: Kerbal in Space Soonest 10: Project Moho 11: The Seed 12: Poyekhali 13: All the Proof They Needed Part 2: Secrets of the Kerm 14: Decisions 15: New Homes 16: Mun Or Bust 17: We all build them - We all fly them 18: MarkusA380 Fanart 19: Reunion 20: Beached 21: Beyond Kerbin 22: Far Side 23: The Dish 24: Dreams 25: A Journey Around the World. 26: Circles. 27: Docking - Part I. 28: Docking - Part II. 29: And Rendezvous. 30: The Cords That Bind. 31: Echoes of Time. Part 3: Kerbal Space Program 32: Right of Conclave. 33: Project Eve. 34: Uncharted. 35: Dewdrops. 36: Preparations. 37: Pioneering Spirit. 38: With a little help... 39: Stormclouds. 40: Second Mün. 41: Training Days. 42: The Best Laid Plans. 43: A Voyage for the Ages. 44: Mün. 45: Priorities. 46: Pre-emptive. 47: Diplomacy. 48: Pilgrims. 49: Lightning. 50: Through the Eyes of a Child. 51: Under Pressure. 52: Halfway Point. 54: Craters. 55: If you cut us... 56: One Small Step. 57: The Days the World Stood Still. 58: Starseed. Part 4: The Age of Fire. 59: Engines and Engineers. 60: A Thin Red Line. 61: Children of Kerbin. 62: Shrinking the Ellipse. 63: Journeys. 64: Hopes. 65: And Fears. 66: Black Stripes 67: Prospecting 68: For Kerm and Kerbal. 69: A Time for Love. 70: Shaking the Pillars. 71: Crossroads. 72: A Grove for a Grove. 73: No Borders. 74: Hot and Cold. 75: Politics. 76: Blue and Grey. 77: The Skies of Minmus. 78: A Few Good Kerbals. 79: Names. 80: Instincts. Artwork and Crafts I'm absolutely thrilled (and more than a bit humbled) to be adding this section to the contents list. Here are links to various illustrations, screenshots, in-game vehicles and (unbelievably) a mod, from First Flight created by readers of this thread. Enjoy - I know I did! "Those Trashcans definitely made it happen." The Kerbal 1 blasts off on its pioneering first flight. "It's Kerbin... just Kerbin." The Kerbal 1 crew get their first glimpse of their world from high altitude. By Yukon0009. "Four green hands clasped in quiet triumph as Kerbin's very first artificial satellite soared through the void." The Kerbin 1's broadcast from the KIS to kerbals around the world inspires the Speciality Fireworks Company's transformation into the Rockomax Corporation. By minepagan. "Moho 1 has cleared the tower!" Jebediah Kerman rockets into orbit - and history. By Yukon0009. "I think we've just got a very happy kerbal up there." Wilford Kerman notches up his own spaceflight firsts aboard Moho 3. By MarkusA380. "There's parking space to the left as you go through the gates, Ornie." Whether you need to pick up supplies for a morale raising barbecue or tow rocket stages to the VAB, Ornie is your kerbal. By Mr. Pseudonym. "Why don't you just do that, Jonton Kermol." Seen here in typical working garb, the kermol are the vital, rural half of kerbal society. By Krevsin. ------------------- Before the Space Program, before Mainsails and Mun rovers, before there was even such a thing as a probe core, there was just a group of friends with a shared dream who refused to let that dream go. This is part of their story. It was a bright sunlit afternoon as Geneney walked out to the launch pad. He could see the rocket in his minds eye. A gleaming tower of sculptured metal rising into the sky with a cluster of the latest generation engines at the base and the newest, most spacious capsule sitting proudly at the top. Ready to take him to the Mun, to Minmus or anywhere else he cared to go. He sighed. The reality of course was rather different. A rusty launch tower constructed from old scaffolding. A bunker full of worn out monitors and other abandoned electronic gear. And a last ditch attempt at a rocket that they had built from whatever junk they could scavenge up and weld together. Wernher's original LV-1 engine had proven far far more difficult to scale up than any of them had imagined. Getting the stability augmentation system to work had eventually been an exercise in stubbornness rather than elegant engineering. And as for the decouplers. Geneney shook his head. Best not to think about the wretched decouplers. He reached the first of the launch clamps and inspected it carefully. The rocket loomed above him, a battered metal cylinder with a tangle of plumbing at the base, connected to the familiar ribbed shape of the LV-15 engine bell. Four RT-5 solid fuel boosters attached to the sides by explosive bolts and a simple capsule secured to the top with more explosive bolts completed this most unlikely looking spacecraft. In Geneney's opinion 'booster' was an optimistic name for a squat drum of firework propellant with a cone attached to the bottom. As for sticking them on with explosive bolts... No - best not to think about the decouplers. Besides they had worked well enough in testing and none of them had been able to get the hydraulic pusher system to work reliably. Geneney could hear voices far above him as Lucan helped the three cosmonauts into the capsule. An occasional mumbled comment from Bill, Bob's nervous chatter and Jeb, talking up a storm in his enthusiasm. Geneney smiled to himself. Bill was still a believer, Bob... well Bob was loyal. If his best friends were risking themselves in a home-brewed rocket, then Bob would be there alongside them. And as for Jeb, he had never given up, despite all the difficulties, frustrations and exploded prototypes. He'd kept them going, with his permanent grin and irrepressible enthusiasm, even as the other members of the Kerbin Interplanetary Society had gradually drifted away. It helped that the grin hid a surprisingly competent engineer, otherwise Geneney was fairly sure that Wernher would have stuffed Jeb headfirst into the engine bell of the LV-10 test model and probably fired it too. His smile faded. The LV-10 test had been a definite low point and they still hadn't figured out exactly what went wrong. The LV-15 worked, although it wasn't close to being powerful enough and all their attempts to cluster multiple LV-15s together had failed. Eventually even Jeb had conceded that the multiple LV-15 design was just too prone to overheating and suggested using a set of RT-5 'Trashcan' engines instead. All the launch clamps seemed to be in order and a loud clang from above announced that Lucan had finally closed the hatch of the Kerbal 1. Geneney waited as Lucan clambered down the launch tower and the two kerbals hurried back to the control bunker. ------------- Geneney tapped his microphone. "Kerbal 1, this is Control. How are you guys doing up there?" Jeb's voice crackled from the speakers. "Cool, calm and collected, Genie. How's that telemetry looking?" If Geneney knew Bill and Bob, then calm was most probably a lie, let alone collected. No point in breaking the facade though. "Wernher's just running the last tests on the decouplers now Jeb. Five minutes to launch." Wernher pressed a button on his console and grunted in satisfaction as a set of indicator lights winked out. He flicked a switch and all five lights flickered briefly then lit up with a reassuring green glow. "All rocket systems check out. Guidance control and launch sequencing transferred to booster. Ready when you are, Gene." "OK then. We all know what we're doing. LV-15 engine start on my mark, 3 second hold down at full power as a last check, then we release the clamps and light up the Trashcans. That last bit is probably going to be a bit bouncy guys, so as soon as the LV-15 lights you'll probably want to hold on to something." "Gotcha, Genie." Geneney took a deep breath. "LV-15 ignition in five...four...three...two...one.. Mark!" Lucan and Geneney turned towards the main monitor screen. Behind them they could hear Wernher rattling through the ignition checklist. "Firing gas generator, turbopumps powering up and IGNITION!" Fire erupted from the base of the Kerbal 1, rapidly focusing into a single hard bright flame. A steadily increasing rumble could be heard outside as the LV-15 throttled up to full power. "Holding for three...two...one..." The bunker shook to a thunderous roar as all four RT-5s ignited, sending sheets of flame washing across the launch pad. The image on the monitor flared brightly. Spots danced in front of Geneney's eyes as he stared at the screen trying desperately to spot the Kerbal 1 amongst all the static. As the image came back into focus, all Geneney could see was a badly scorched launch pad. The noise in his headphones suggested that this was due to a successful launch rather than a catastrophic explosion but the faint screams didn't sound at all good. The static on monitor 2 didn't look promising either. "Wernher - talk to me!" "LV-15 performing well, all four RT-5s are running. All decouplers intact," came the calm response. "Capsule telemetry and sensors offline." Geneney gripped the arms of his chair tightly. "Which means?" "We have no way of telling how high the capsule is travelling, how fast or at what angle." Lucan interrupted him "If the decouplers haven't fired...I can still hear the engines in my headset, so the rocket should still be in one piece." He snapped his fingers. "The main data cable - it probably just came loose during the launch. Wernher, try SCE to Aux." Geneney's knuckles turned white as Wernher searched for the switch on his console. Then, with a click, monitor 2 lit up, as telemetry suddenly flooded in from the Kerbal 1. A slow smile spread across Geneney's face as he got to his feet and slapped Lucan on the back. Above his head, the numbers for altitude and velocity of the Kerbal 1 were both steadily increasing. ------------ "10 seconds till burnout." Geneney kept his fingers firmly crossed as he waited for the Trashcans to shut down. Five seconds to go, two, one... and nothing. The roar of the engines still filled his headphones. Five more seconds, ten more seconds. He was just turning towards Wernher, when everything went quiet. There was a series of muffled explosions and four lights on Wernher's console winked out. He grabbed the microphone. "Kerbal 1, this is Control. Come in Kerbal 1! Jeb, Bill, Bob - can you hear me!" Jeb chuckled. "Hearing you loud and clear, Genie if you'd let us get a word in edgewise!" "Jeb - thank the Kerm! Are you guys OK up there?" "The Bobcat here is looking a bit blue but we're all good. Nothing but Class A Badasses on this rocket ship!" Jeb paused to savour the moment. "Yeah, this rocket ship...", his voice trailed away. "Dammit guys we did it! Faster than any kerbal has ever travelled, higher than any kerbal has ever travelled and way way noisier than any kerbal has ever travelled! I told you those Trashcans would do the trick!" "Well we've still got a couple of things left to do, Jeb but yeah - those Trashcans definitely made it happen. Thirty seconds of fuel left for the LV-15." Lucan was keeping a close eye on the telemetry. The Kerbal 1 was actually accelerating slightly now as the last litres of fuel drained away, until at last the engines shut down. The last light flickered out on Wernher's console accompanied by a final muffled bang from the speakers. "Shutdown and booster separation confirmed, Jeb. We figure you should top out at around thirty to thirty five thousand metres." "Thanks, Luco. Not bad for a first flight, not bad at all! Looks like I won that bet with the Bobcat too - he reckoned we'd get to twenty five thousand at best!" Bob laughed nervously. "Are you sure they were just the standard Trashcans, Jeb? If we get down from here in one piece, I'm not sure I'll be able to get out of this seat, I got mashed into it so hard." "Didn't touch them, Bobcat. They sure did make for one heck of a ride though. What did you think, Bill? Hey - are you OK there, Bill? That window isn't coming loose is it?" "Oh... Oh wow... Guys you need to see this." Bill silently reached out a hand and Jeb wordlessly passed him the camera. Geneney blinked. He'd never heard Jeb sound like that before. Almost awestruck. "What is it, Jeb?" "It's Kerbin... just Kerbin. Only not quite and all of it at once. And the sky - it's full of more stars than you can believe. Greens and blues and brilliant white clouds and then black and stars." "You're not making any sense, Jeb." "No, no I don't think I am. You're gonna have to see this for yourself, Genie." Geneney sighed. "You know we're never going to get another shot at this. The Kerbal 1 was all we had left," he said sadly. "Actually, Genie, if even half of Bill's photos come out, I think you're going to get to see this quicker than you can imagine and in a bigger and better rocket than you can imagine too. Hey, Bill, if you're done with that camera, pass it over here. Genie, I'm taking off my helmet, sticking the camera into it and wedging it under the control panel for safekeeping." Geneney's jaw dropped. "What, why, what are you doing? What happens if you get an air leak?!" Jeb's voice was uncharacteristically serious. "I'll just have to hold my breath, Genie. Whatever happens to Bill, Bob and me, you need this camera. It's all the proof that the Kerbin Interplanetary Society needs and it's going to change everything." --------- Two small green figures stood on the roof of a makeshift concrete bunker, anxiously peering out to sea. Geneney glanced at his watch and then scanned the horizon again, too nervous to look away for more than a moment. He knew that he probably wouldn't see the capsule from this distance but the parachute should be visible. And it should be visible any moment now. Beside him, Wernher suddenly stiffened and pointed at the sky. An orange streamer popped into view, plunged towards the ground and then fluttered skywards. Geneney's heart was in his mouth. If that was the drogue chute then... YES! Two orange discs burst into the sky and then unfurled into the welcome, welcome sight of two fully opened parachutes. Geneney and Wernher looked at each other, grinned in triumph and then threw themselves down the stairs as fast as they could. "Lucan, Wernher - boat. Now! We've got three kerbonauts to pick up! Epilogue - two days later Four members of the Kerbin Interplanetary Society were lounging about at the Jebediah Kerman Junkyard and Spare Parts Company. Bill was in Jeb's office working on his camera, whilst Jeb was out with a pair of customers, helping them rummage through a pile of old engine parts. As the three of them strolled back towards the office, Geneney overhead snatches of conversation. "Were you boys anything to do with a mighty lot of noise out by that old rusty tower the other day?" Jeb nodded, "Yup, that was us, sir. Testing some bits and pieces from the junkyard." The older of the two customers chuckled. "People back in town reckon they saw one of those rockets flying into the sky." He snorted. "Load of nonsense if you ask me, never mind what those crazy interplanetary characters keep talking about. Although I have to admit, they do make some mighty fine explosions." Genneny stifled a grin as Jeb tried his best to keep a straight face. Just then Bill popped his head around the office door. "Hey guys - photo's came out nicely. You want to take a look?" Jeb smiled. "Love to, Bill." He turned towards his customers politely, "and would you good kerbals care to join us?" Geneney stared at Jeb's office wall. Most of Bill's photographs were blurry views of not very much, taken out of what was obviously a very small window. Several more showed what looked like maps. But none of the eight kerbals crammed into the room had eyes for anything other than the largest picture in the middle. This too was clearly a view through a window but beautifully sharp. A very obviously curved line down the middle separated inky blackness from brilliant blue, dusky brown and lush green. Far away in the distance, the familiar battered grey ball of the Mün rose over Kerbin. Geneney blinked back tears. Jeb was right. They had really done it. They could do it again. And there would be a Space Program.
  18. Well apart from helping to turn this story around - not a lot really. And all critiques of forthcoming chapters (or indeed, this one) will be more than welcome. @superstrijder15 - thanks for the kind words and all I can say at this point is - hang on to your hat...
  19. I doubt it'll fail. It might get a bit slower, unless Squad or TakeTwo pay whatever surcharge is needed to ensure that traffic to the site is prioritised*. Although it's not a terribly data heavy site anyway so we might not notice a slowdown anyway. *That might be one small benefit of KSP being owned by a deep-pocketed publisher.
  20. Oh - now this is getting interesting. I like the writing and I like this particular take on the Original Three. Looking forward to more!
  21. Next chapter is up. With special thanks to @CatastrophicFailure ,and especially to @Ten Key, for all the polishing. Instincts “Tell Jonton that I’ll be over as soon as I can.” “Of course I will,” said Patbro. “Come on, Joenie - the sooner we start, the sooner we’ll be there.” He nodded at Meleny in unspoken gratitude, raised his hand in farewell to a solemn Adbas and led the way down the path. Silently, Meleny and Adbas watched them go. As soon as they were out of earshot, Joenie tugged on Patbro’s hand. “Is my mum dead?” Patbro glanced down at her. “No,” he said carefully. “She’s not dead…” “I saw you look at Meleny,” Joenie said. “It was one of those looks grown-ups use when they don’t want to lie but they think telling the truth will be too scary.” She scowled. “I hate it when grown-ups do that.” “She’s still breathing,” said Patbro, “I wasn’t lying to you, Joenie, your mum isn’t dead. I don’t even know what really happened - I didn’t get a chance to speak to your dad before he sent me to get you - but Enely said there’d been an accident with her Kerm.” “Was it a bad accident?” Joenie’s voice quivered. “I don’t know, Joenie.” Patbro ground his teeth in frustration but managed to keep his voice level. “I just don’t know.” A bitefly landed on Patbro’s arm and he slapped it away. Joenie carried on walking, face scrunched up in thought. “Mummy might be asleep,” she said. “Like Daddy was when his Kerm got black spots.” She trembled, eyes brimming. “It was horrible. Daddy kept screaming. I tried to fight the tree for him but I was only little and couldn’t do anything. Then daddy fell asleep for three days and when he woke up he wasn’t the same any more. Mummy used to shout at him a lot, then she took me away to stay in her house with her Kerm. She used to talk to it a lot but she never screamed.” Joenie sniffled and wiped her nose on her sleeve, then blushed and turned her face away. Patbro pretended not to notice as she carried on talking. “I think Daddy started getting better after my birthday. Maybe the butterflies helped. He was always talking to his Kerm - Mummy said he was part of the Kerm, helping it to look after the Grove but I didn’t know what she meant. One day, daddy told me all about it, how he had arms and legs and branches and roots and leaves.” Joenie giggled and she put her hand in front of her mouth. “Daddy told me that the beetles tickled him. He talked to me in my head and showed me the worms chasing each other.” Patbro smiled. “You’re lucky”, he said. “I can’t talk to my Kerm the way you used to talk to your dad. All I get see is a big mess of everything in the soil all jumbled up together.” Joenie nodded. “I haven’t asked Elton to teach me about the soil animals,” she confided. “Elton’s nice but he’s a bit scary too, like Grandpa. I don’t think he wants to talk to kerblets very much.” Patbro opened the passenger door on his truck before walking round the other side and climbing in behind the wheel. He checked that Joenie had her seatbelt on before looking all around and pulling away. “I think Elton does want to talk to you,” he said. “I think he’d like that very much.” Joenie looked at him through narrowed eyes but Patbro’s expression was quite serious. “Leave it a little while though, Joenie. Elton’s worried about your mum too and might not want to talk to you right now.” He started the motor and pulled onto the road. —————— The truck stopped opposite Gerselle’s hut and Patbro climbed out. The few small Kerm branches visible above the roofline swayed and rustled despite the lack of breeze and Patbro stared at them uneasily. Then the creak of passenger door opening and sudden patter of footsteps drove all other thoughts from his mind. “Joenie - wait!” Joenie stumbled, scraping her shin on a stone but scrambled to her feet and ran for her mother’s hut, heedless of the blood trickling down her calf. Patbro sprinted after her. “Come back, Joenie!” Joenie ignored him. She pelted up the path, hurtled through the front door and pushed her way through the crowded kitchen, nearly tripping over Enely and leaving a trail of indignant kerbals behind her. One of them opened her mouth to speak before her elderly companion nudged her in the ribs. “Close your mouth lass. That’s Gerselle’s young ‘un.” Mortified, the younger kerbal clapped her hand over her mouth. “Oh Kerm - oh the poor girl.” Enely sprang to his feet, eyes widening in alarm. The sleep room door banged open and Joenie charged through. “Daddy!” She skidded up to the bed and stopped short. “Mummy?” She shook Gerselle’s shoulder, careful not to disturb the leaves wrapped around her head. “Wake up, Mummy. Please. I’m here now.” “Joenie!” Patbro raced into the room, the scent of cinnamon catching the back of his throat. He saw Joenie shaking her mother’s shoulder, saw Jonton getting to his feet; the villagers around him backing away as if in slow motion. Jonton’s head turned towards him and Patbro stopped in dismay, quailing at the look in his friend’s eyes. “Jonto…” “Fetch Joenie. That’s what I said.” Jonton’s voice shook. “Not ‘let her run away from you.’ Not ‘let her see her dead mother before I could do anything’.” He clenched his fists, molten torrents of rage and grief blazing from his eyes. “I asked you to do one thing. ONE SIMPLE BJEDLA THING!” Jonton’s gaze scoured the room. “AND YOU! NOT ONE OF YOU COULD STOP A LITTLE GIRL! NOT ONE OF YOU!” Joenie backed away from her parents, trembling like a cornered creva, gaze darting around the room. In the ringing silence following Jonton’s outburst, she bolted for the spare bed, squirmed past its stunned occupants and slid under the nearest leaf cluster. Jonton saw the movement from the corner of his eye and spun round to follow it. “Joenie! No!” He threw himself after his daughter, Patbro following close behind and narrowly avoiding a low branch. Jonton’s head scraped through a cluster of leaves, hairs brushing across his scalp and then recoiling from the roiling inferno of emotions raging beneath the surface. Vines erupted from the ground hurling both kerbals back. Their writhing tips seemed to taste the air, unfurling into double rings of needle sharp teeth from which clusters of thinner, paler tendrils emerged like pulsating tongues, glistening with ichor. Patbro landed hard, gashing his forehead on the floor. He rolled over and sat up, blinking blood out of his eyes. The kerbals on the bed screamed in terror, freezing as the vines lashed at them. The other villagers stampeded for the door, barging past Enely and knocking him to one side. The leaves closed around Joenie’s head and for a second, the thrashing vines froze. Seizing their chance, the kerbals scrambled off the bed and ran for their lives. Connecting to her mother's Kerm felt itchy compared to connecting to Elton but Joenie was in too much of a hurry to care. Ignoring the waves of agitation dashing against her, she called out with her thoughts as she'd been taught. Mummy! Where are you, Mummy? There was no reply. Joenie tried again, making the words in her mind as big and as loud as she could. Mummy - I've come to find you! The agitation around her boiled over into fright. <Gerselle!> <dangerdangerdanger> <make safe!> The vines whipped around and over Joenie’s inert form, wrapping her in a protective cage. One of them found the scrape on her leg and began to probe it. Jonton staggered to his feet, grabbed the roaming vine and tried to pull it free, crying out as it twisted out of his grip and slashed at him, its cluster of dripping tendrils trailing lines of fire across his face. He staggered back, eyelids aflame. ————— The sound of her mother's voice all around her brought Joenie up short. Mummy? <I am not Mummy. I am Jonelle.> <confusion> <you are Gerselle but not Gerselle> Joenie frowned. The voice wasn't talking like her mother even if it sounded like her. Then she remembered that Elton’s voice always sounded like her father's. Are you Mummy's Kerm? <I am Kerm. I do not know Mummy.> Yes you do. She talks to you all the time. She's talking to you now. An image of Gerselle's head wrapped in leaves flashed through Joenie's mind. Where is she? <said before. I do not know Mummy. I know Gerselle and Jonton and Enely and now Gerselle-but-not-Gerselle> Mummy is Gerselle, stupid! She has to be here. Mummy? Mummy! <Gerselle is not here! I told other kerbal called Enely to find her. Want Gerselle, not shouting kerbal!> She is too here! I saw her head in your leaves - she must be here. Tears pricked the corner of Joenie's eyes. Why are you hiding her - why are you being mean? <what is mean? Go away bad, angry kerbal! I want to talk to Gerselle! > She is. She is talking to you! I saw her. Joenie burst into tears. I want my Mummy now! The waves of grief and anger radiating off her made Jonelle wilt. I hate you - I hate you! Overwhelmed, Jonelle curled in on herself, withdrawing her vines and retreating behind her mental barriers. Instinctively she curled her leaves up too, slipping them free of Joenie's head. With a final anguished cry, the link to Joenie broke and echoing silence descended. Jonton rushed over to his daughter, a still shaken Patbro following at a discreet distance. Joenie lay twisted around on her bed, her face buried in her pillow, muffled sobs squeezing their way around its edges. Her feet flailed at the wall trying to reach Jonelle's trunk. Jonton dropped to the floor and tried to wrap his arms around her, only for Joenie to squirm away from him. "Go 'way!" "It's me, sweetheart. It's daddy. I've got you." "I want Mummy." "So do I, my love. So do I." Jonton climbed onto the bed beside her. "Come on, up you get - that pillow will be getting all soggy." Sniffling, Joenie uncurled herself, peered at him through tear-blurred eyes and screamed. ————— Horrified, Enely watched the vines flow over Joenie’s body. Their writhing grew more and more agitated, tips peeling back to reveal needle teeth and then squirming closed again. One vine flew free, a second joined it and then they all seemed to crumple in on themselves, sliding off the bed and leaving Joenie looking curiously exposed. He heard Joenie’s scream, saw her scuttling away from Jonton and for an agonising moment he froze, torn between his friends and their newly awakened Kerm. As if you have a choice, sefflek, he thought. Unless you want your weakness to finish what it started. Face set in a grim mask, he skirted around the room, eyes fixed on the ground around Jonton’s abandoned bed. Bracing himself, he darted forward and leapt, hitting the bed in a tangled heap. Behind him, the sleep room door flew open and Meleny hurried in, panting for breath. Offering up a silent thanks for the distraction, Enely slipped his head under Jonelle's wilted leaves. They squirmed over his forehead as if fighting against the touch of kerbal flesh but aeons old instincts were not to be denied. The last thing Enely saw, before the white light filled his vision, was Meleny putting her arms around Joenie. Jonelle? Jonelle - are you there? <Enely?> Relief swept over him. Yes, Jonelle - it's Enely. <nasty kerbal is here?> Nobody else is here - just me. <good. Nasty kerbal very loud, very angry. Said I was hiding Gersellemummy. Jonelle's voice was flat. <not hiding Gerselle. Don't understand mummy> Enely cast his mind back to life in his old village. The nursery hut, thick walled and whitewashed to keep out the worst of the desert heat. A place of sanctuary for new mothers carrying pouched kerblings or with very young kerblets. He showed Jonelle an image from inside the hut; female kermol sitting on brightly coloured cushions, sipping from glasses of water and watching their youngsters at play. Fluffy headed kerblets crawling around in search of playmates or peeking over the edge of their mother's pouches. Can you see the small kerbals? <yes. Many small kerbals. Some being carried by big kerbals> That's right. The big kerbals are all mummies. They look after the small kerbals. All the small kerbals have a mummy - a special kerbal to look after them. Enely sensed a sudden spike of curiosity. <why?> That's... complicated, Jonelle. Can you just believe me? <...yes. I see your picture, must be true. But it is very strange> I suppose it is. Now the... <the angry kerbal said mummy was called Gerselle. She said I was hiding her. I don't understand why. Gerselle is not here. Why did the angry kerbal say she was?> Enely swallowed hard and concentrated on the sight of Gerselle lying under the Kerm leaves. Because she saw her talking to you. <confusion> <this is not right. The kerbal in my leaves is Gerselle? But Gerselle isn't here> No, said Enely gently. She isn't. And that's why we need your help, Jonelle. He focused on his image, remembering the healing vines burrowing into Jonton and imagining them crawling out of the earth and slipping beneath Gerselle's skin. With a shock of recognition he remembered that the tips of the healing vines had also split into clusters of paler tendrils. We need you to keep Gerselle alive. <confusion. whywhywhy?> Please, Jonelle? Something in his voice brought the young Kerm up short. <I will do this for you Enely. But it is very strange> I know it is, said Enely but thank you. He paused. I have to go now though - I need to talk to Joenie. <Joenie?> The angry kerbal. Her name is Joenie. -------------- Jonelle's mental voice faded to a whisper and vanished. The light faded and Enely found himself face to face with a pair of blurry eyes. He blinked them into focus and the rest of Meleny’s face swam into view. Behind her, Jonton was sitting with one arm around Joenie, murmuring to her and holding a dripping cloth to his face with his other hand. He lifted his head as Enely sat up and let the cloth fall away. Enely choked back his own scream. Jonton’s face was a grotesquely inflated mask, one eye half lidded and the other swollen completely shut. A line of weeping sores marched across his forehead, the skin around them split and bleeding. When he spoke, his voice was mushy, his jaw moving as little as possible. “Did you get through?” In reply, Enely pointed at Gerselle's bed and then down at the ground beneath it. Jonton followed his gesture, his suddenly clenching jaw pulling his sores further open. “You’re sure they’re healing vines?” “Yes. They’re all the same I think.” Enely lowered his gaze. "Do you think it'll make any difference?" “No,” Enely replied at last. "But as the song goes, you never know till you try." He glanced at Joenie's tear-streaked face. "And I think we have to try." Jonton's arm tightened around Joenie's waist. "I think so too," he said. "And, Enely... you can wait with us if you like." Enely felt a great weight lift off his shoulders. "I would like that very much," he replied. "Thank you." Behind him, the vines wound their way up the foot of Gerselle's bed.
  22. Ahh - I *think* the glowing goop is benign. Usual caveat applies - this is a @CatastrophicFailure story so expect the unexpected, but it sounds very much like the good 'ol mystery goo that turned out to be so helpful back in Book 1. Oooh - onions. Nice and crispy I hope? Om nom nom nom...
  23. OK, @Kuzzter's latest Kerbfleet update brought up an interesting point - unreliable narration. Rather than derail the story, I figured I'd bring it up here instead. As in - what do folks think of it? Personally, I'm not a fan. Charles Stross's Laundry Files series are written using an unreliable narrator and it drives me buggy. The whole premise and worldbuilding behind the series is a bit weird anyway, so I'm never quite sure whether what I'm reading is weird because that's just the way the world works, or whether it's the good 'ol unreliable narrator at work. Gah.
  24. Well I'm right with Kenlie on that one. I'm sure unreliable narrators can be done well but I'm not a fan of them.
  25. Well that last line isn't at all ominous.. And how in the name of Igor's unlamented jockey shorts did Val wind up in a research outpost at the outer end of nowhere? Is she even on Kerbin? I'm not sure it's technically possible to start on a cliffhanger but you've surely managed it! Very much looking forward to seeing what happens next.