Past the haze

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Hi. Before the story starts, I'd like to speak for a little. I have... commitment issues, and have started several stories here, but never progressed far on any. I want this topic to be different, but if it goes dead, that'd be why. My intention is for this to be a series of probably-not-that-short stories using my current science mode game. The premise? I'm kinda making this up as I go along, but it involves a space program attempting to survive in a Kerbin previously hit by an unnamed series of disasters, with a lot less public support and a government keeping a closer eye on them. Quality and enjoyment are nowhere near guaranteed, but I'll do my best to make something decent. Story will start on the next post, and here's a list of all the mods I'm using:

  • Kerbalengineer
  • Environmental Visual Enhancements (Without Citylights)
  • Chatterer
  • Hullcam VDS
  • Collision FX
  • Planetshine
  • Distant Object enhancement
  • EVA parachutes & ejection seats
  • Scatterer
  • Engine lighting
  • Kerbal Planetary Base Systems
  • Surfacelights


Edited by VelocityPolaris

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Story 1: Night Rescue, Chapter 1: Exposition much?

It had been ten years since the craziness started. Changes in temperature, atmospheric and oceanic composition, waves, thickness and humidity of the air: almost everything had rapidly changed a little. And nobody knew why. There were plenty of hypotheses - Kerbal industrial output, divine punishment, aliens, some powerful special solar flare, unknown space phenomenon, the sudden appearance of an unknown source of water - but none were substantiated enough to be called theories, and none really made enough sense for a satisfactory explanation. Whatever had happened, the effects were immediate, but far from cataclysmic. Swirling patterns of clouds constantly threw shade at the ground, having a cooling effect. The open air became heavy and unpleasant, though there was absolutely no risk from breathing it. As a response, people didn't go outside much, preferring to use indoor air filters provided to them through the wonders of technology. The seas were unexplainable. A normal blue in the daytime, at night they became darker than the sky, unable to reflect even Münlight. The night sky was practically invisible on all but the clearest nights, the smallest object visible from Kerbin City being Minmus. No night sky... it was funny, the effect it had on people. Once they stopped panicking over everything that had happened, that is. Many Kerbals were like toddlers, in the respect that if they did not see something, they didn't seem to perceive it to be there. It was as if the outside universe didn't exist. Under this mindset, the Kerbal Space Program was all but cancelled for a decade. The power across the world had all gone out before the changes started, and when it was restored, the satellites orbiting Kerbin all stopped responding. Perhaps the atmosphere was messing with the signal, perhaps they were caught in the atmosphere and plummeted down, and perhaps radiation fried them all. But while many lost sight of the cosmos, others yearned to see it. Amateur astronomy groups competed to find the best ways to view the night sky, rapidly advancing the meteorology field as they did. Unfortunately for them, a weather report was more like a tornado alert now. No prediction could be reasonably accurate for an entire day. The space centre had enough friends in the government for it's continued funding, the powerful tracking dishes and research labs being put to good use trying to understand the changes that Kerbin had gone through. As time went on, it would stand to sense that Kerbals would forget why they bothered to look up at the sky. But the opposite occurred. Many people were curious, they wanted to see the universe again. Powerful figures within the government realized the value of a space program - whatever had occurred, space seemed to be tied into it, and it would definitely be useful to learn what. And space exploration had the support of plenty of people in the public. So the space program, rather than withering away, was revived. Old staff were brought back and new staff were brought in, funding was pumped into them, and a shiny new staff were put in place to make sure there were no shenanigans, and resources were used most efficiently. The first priority was to back get into space, and see from up there how different Kerbin looked. That, and pictures from space were sure to be crowdpleasers among those in the population backing the space program. So the first rocket of the new Kerbal Space Program, the Phoenix I, was launched. It's goal - to bring one Kerbal to LKO, to gather information on the planet's surface, and the stars. But while in the stratosphere over the ocean, the Phoenix I came apart for unknown reasons. This is where the story resumes.

Edited by VelocityPolaris

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Story 1: Night Rescue, Chapter 2: Undeniably Majestic

The Phoenix I was fated for failure. As the ship soared through the stratosphere, Jebediah Kerman aboard, he began to lose control. The joints holding the stages together then disconnected, through no action of Jeb. As an SRB flew by from the lower stage, a small chunk of spaceship embedded itself in the upper part of the capsule. All control had been lost, the lights on the board at mission control were going red quickly. So CAPCOM's yell reached Jeb's headphones. "BAIL OUT!" He promptly hit the eject, and was abruptly yanked out of the spaceship. Most of his tumble through the air was a blur, Jeb being barely conscious. As he plummeted towards the ground, he eventually regained awareness of his surroundings. Just comprehending the vast scale of anything is pretty difficult without actually experiencing it. And Jeb was getting the full experience. Vast ocean of air, with clouds below him, hazy land in the distance, the water below stretching forever. He spread his arms out to try and increase the effect of air resistance on him, looking quite undeniably majestic in the process.


After the parachute jerked him back like a teacher breaking up a fight, he made a painful water landing. Miraculously, there was a piece of debris from the spacecraft floating in the water nearby, which he held onto. Before losing contact, mission control told him that they'd send a boat to pick him up, and to hang in there. It wasn't advisable to swim to land, as the nearest landmass was 40 kilometres away, and it's a bit difficult to swim that far without getting tired. Especially in a spacesuit. But all he had to do was hang on for a little while, and then they'd pick him up and take him back home. How long could it take?


*Several hours later*


After hanging to a piece of wreckage for several hours, he abruptly lets go of the piece of debris, as it finally sinks. Staying afloat isn't so hard, thought Jeb. After all, these suits are made to work as flotation devices. No, what he had to worry about was electricity, and body temperature. Thoughts ran through his head on why the KSC was taking so long to pick him up - interrupted as a passing wave let just a trickle of cold water into his helmet.


Jeb, more of an easygoing bloke at heart, let loose an enormous sigh. Somehow, it was equivalent in magnitude to any obscenity he could have let loose at that moment. "When you see a problem, the first thing you do is assess the situation. The second is to come up with a solution. There's no room for panicking." Gene Kerman's words, and they definitely applied here.

Edited by VelocityPolaris

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Story 1: Night Rescue, Chapter 3: Buck.

The sun has just gone down at the Kerbal Space Center when an ugly looking craft is wheeled onto the runway, thrown together with airplane parts. This is the Boat Duck, or "Buck" - a makeshift rescue boat crewed by Captain Macberry Kerman, and Doctor Erilenna Kerman. Mission control cuts through the front cockpit as Macberry makes the preparations for takeoff. 

KSC: KSC, Buck. request status on preparedness for launch.


Cap Macberry: Ah, mission control. We are attempting to illuminate the vehicle currently. ...There, I believe that issue has been solved.


KSC: KSC, Buck, deactivate those lights. You need to save power, the generator on the jet engine is your sole source of power and you can't use that until you're in the water. And please attempt some kind of radio protocol.

Doc Erilenna: Buck, KSC. Sorry, lights are being turned off. Now, can I ask, why are there no other boats this side of the continent?!

KSC: KSC, Buck... we couldn't obtain one. Nothing we could find would have any navigational ability, and they were mostly wooden fishing trawlers anyway. Anyone who still has an oceanworthy vessel either wouldn't lend it to us, or couldn't get it to us in time. We really don't have a lot of power. Are you two underway?

c Buck, KSC. Yeah, we're on our way. But please tell me why we couldn't find an airplane and rescue Jeb with that, or do anything besides start a boat from scratch.


KSC: KSC, Buck. We did try to search with aircraft, but none of them were able to locate him. We only have the distress signal from when his rocket fell apart, we haven't been able to find his exact position. And even when we had a plane fly low over the estimated point of splashdown, nothing. Many people here refuse to believe that he's drowned, so we're sending you to check it out. We just lost the Phoenix I, but finding our astronaut takes priority over all else right now.

Cap Macberry: We arre rolling to the end of the runway now... so, control, why did the engineers not simply place the boat in the water, rather than rigging up two giant pairs of detachable wheels and sending it down the runway?

KSC: KSC, Buck, we've got no facilities on the water, though I don't know the details of why the craft was put on the runway. Maybe the engineers are just used to it. 

The craft slides down into the water, the brakes screeching as they try to hold the several tonnes from plunging in cannonball-style.

Cap Macberry: It seems we have successfully entered the water, lights are on full. ...Oh my god.

KSC: What? What do you see, Captain?


Captain Macberry: Absolutely nothing. It is as if we have entered a void. I have been briefed, but... I was not expecting this.

Doc Erilenna: Yeah, it's pretty freaky. Only other thing we didn't make that doesn't reflect light are those monoliths. I wonder if it's related.

Captain Macberry: That is not why we are here. Engine ahead, full. Let us not waste any more time.


Doc Erilenna: This is gonna be fun. Buck, KSC, can you put some tunes on?

KSC: KSC, Buck, request granted. We're going to go out of comms range eventually, so try to find another way to entertain yourselves, s you don't go crazy and kill each other. For example, having a conversation?

Cap Macberry: OH GOD NO

KSC: KSC, Buck. Is that any way for an astronaut to behave, Captain Macberry?

Cap Macberry: Oh please, we are hardly astronauts. You hired us both yesterday to do cargo flights and medical research, respectively.

Doc Erilenna: We're all astronauts at heart, Mac! 


Cap Macberry: ...Very well, I shall take your word for it.

Edited by VelocityPolaris

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Story 1: Night Rescue, Chapter 4: Alone at sea (not the Steven Universe episode)

The rescue boat Buck continues plowing through the inky void of the night, relaxing piano music gracing one of precious few lights in this ocean. Her crew try to avoid looking out the window, burying their heads in instruments and books.

KSC: KSC, Buck, status report.

Doc Erilenna: Buck, KSC. Speed is just over 25 knots, batteries are full, all systems are nominal. Visibility is still zero. Continuing route to search zone. We are nearing the horizon, without being able to use the ionosphere anymore, loss of contact is expected soon. 

KSC: KSC, Buck, roger that. We're sending out the lorry to where you cast off, to pick up you and Jeb. Just remember to land where you entered the water.

Cap Macberry: Control, can you not simply use an aeroplane to maintain communication with us?

KSC: KSC, Buck, I'm afraid our only two certified night pilots on active duty are busy trying to reach the Green Reef. There are only two ships currently out of sight of land, and only one is anywhere near Jeb. So we sent a plane to try to contact them earlier, and we haven't gotten a response yet. Oh, and Captain, we've heard reports that the water in your area might have a clear patch tonight. If either of you can get a look at the night sky, that'd be ace. Now just keep your boat as lit up as possible - We don't want anyone to miss you, and we definitely want you to see everything that's in the water. Good luck.


Doc Erilenna: Oi, look, Captain. That's the last light on the horizon, from the shore. You really have to squint to see it, but it's about to disappear.


A little while later. The two of them are alternating between rereading some comics, looking up at the pitch-black sky, and staring at their instruments.

Doc Erilenna: Geez, this might be more psychologically disconcerting than space. It looks about the same no matter how fast we're going. At least it's not for very long.

Cap Macberry: Aye, I can understand why nobody wishes to venture out of sight of the shore in these nights. There is no way to confirm our position. We just have to hope that we have been going exactly as the course specifies. ...Are you sure everything is being plotted correctly on your charts?

Doc Erilenna: Absolutely sure of it. I just hope Jeb's suit heater lasts long enough for us to find him, that's probably the only thing keeping him alive. 

Cap Macberry: Yes, I shiver to think of how horrible that must be, floating in cold darkness, nobody to talk to, batteries slowly draining. ...I hope we have enough fuel.

Doc Erilenna: Please, don't put that image in my head, you - whoa... look.

Cap Macberry: You see something?

Doc Erilenna: Th-the night sky! I'm gonna take a picture!


Cap Macberry: You can! You can just barely make it out! I shall have a look, to confirm our position. This may have been just the boost I have needed, it seems the stars are looking down on us after all. ...and upon them, I hereby swear to act as a Captain should.

Edited by VelocityPolaris

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Story 1: Night Rescue, Chapter 5: Kerbal in the water

As the Buck slowly picks up speed, splashes of water suddenly begin to surround it.



Cap Macberry: Whoa... Doctor, please deliver a status report.

Doc Erilenna: No problems with the systems. It is kind of nice to be able to see something since the stars disappeared again, but I've no clue why we're getting all these splashes. It must be because of our speed, though, and it seems to be caused by our engine. Speed's been increasing gradually as fuel is used up. 

Cap Macberry: Nothing appears to make sense anymore... ah well, it is not like this is a proper boat anyhow. Though I must profess my gratitude towards the engineers when we return - the lack of leaks has been quite comforting. 

Doc Erilenna: I'd worry about visibility being limited, but RADAR isn't having any issues... not that anything's showed up on it, of course.

Several kilometres away, Jebediah Kerman drifts in a cold slumber. 


He'd managed to seal his leaky helmet, but eventually the heater had given out. He felt discomfort and fear in the back of his mind, but it would have been greatly elevated if he had been aware enough to know that he was perhaps minutes from death. But he also didn't feel too bad. Maybe because he knew, somewhere in there, that he wasn't alone, though he had no way to do so. And indeed, even though he couldn't see it, a light had appeared in the distance, the faint glow of illuminated water being splashed into the air.


"RADAR contact - small object in the water, 4 kilometres. The search pattern's paid off, Captain!"

Cap Macberry: Then it could be Jeb! You have command of the ship, Doctor Erilenna! Take us towards that contact!

He immediately pulls his hatch open and climbs out onto the ladder, bracing against the cold air whipping his face as the Buck races towards the contact.


Doctor Erilenna opens her own hatch, and pokes her head out to shout at him. "CAPTAIN! WHAT ARE YOU DOING OUT THERE!? ARE YOU OKAY!?"


She slides the door forward again, and brings the throttle down to slow ahead. But less than a minute later, Macberry shouts again. "THE LIGHTS HAVE SOMETHING! KERBAL IN THE WATER!"


Sure enough, it was the spacesuit of a Kerbal, still floating in the water. Doctor Erilenna immediately cut the throttle completely, and moved to swerve around him. 


Cap Macberry braced himself to jump in, waiting for the boat to finally drift to a halt. Both he and Doctor Erilenna had the same wish in their mind. "Please, let him be alive." 

Edited by VelocityPolaris

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