Alpha 360

Advancing Through Hardships - Chapter 11: In the Highlands of Kerbin

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Advancing Through Hardships

I know that right now, there are multiple folks working on alternate NASA timelines so mine

isn't very special. I love writing though and this will be my first post in the mission reports section. Also, if you do follow

this post, expect frequent blackouts because of school and Ksp burn-out, which I have been recently 

trying to fix. This post will be completely stock and will try to make as interesting as possible with non-rocketry chapters

thrown into the mix. Also, please comment on this and tell me what you would like to see and also if I wrote something

wrong. If I recieve no comments, then I will assume that this post is not meeting its expectations. There will

be pictures of the rockets, though I don't know how many pictures, so assume that this not picture orientated.

Thank you for your time for reading this post, Plan of Attack.  

EDIT: I have installed a load of mods, but only because I am playing with a new save that comes in

with the later chapters. The early chapters are completely mod free

Edited by Alpha 360
"Kouston, we have several problems, but that doesn't matter so we want to continue on with the mission."
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Chapter One: Fly, Fly Away Rocket

     

Spoiler

It was a bright, clear day when the Helios spacecraft launched from the Kerman Space Center. Crowds watched from the runway, a good distance away not to be fried by the M-5 engines, also known as Skipper engines. There were three of them, propelling the Helios 1 spacecraft for its first orbital test in LKO. Gene Kerman allowed himself a smile as he watched the magnificent beast race off the pad and rocket into the air.

     

   “Rocket, hm.” He commented on his own use of the word. It was a rocket, rocketing towards the heavens. He shook his head, having never being very good at eloquent speech, these words he thought were completely alien to him. He forced himself out of his dreams and came back to reality. He would stay alert for the rest of the mission, he promised himself.

              “Flight, there is a slight leakage in the first stage!” cried out a FIDO.

              “How much time until the first stage separation?” he fired out a question.

              “One minute, Flight.”

              “Leave it be.”

              A slight leakage in the first stage didn’t pose to much of a problem, granted they would be off several meters a second, but there had more than enough fuel to deal with that.

              A minute later, the first stage shut-off and detached, leaving the second stage to get the Helios, dubbed the “smarter, larger tin can” by the commander of the mission, Corkin Kerman. He was referencing the earlier China capsules, which were two-man command pods controlled almost completely from the ground. He flew the first China capsule, China 1, to the ragged edge of space. The scientists though miss-predicted the Kerman line as being 67 km instead of 70 km, so the China 1 reached just about 69 km, just missing him the title of the first kerbal in space.

 

              The engineer was non-other than Dildrin kerman, the engineer for China 2, and one of the first kerbals in space. He was experienced in most mechanical matters, and he overviewed the design of the Hercules booster, there was no one else in KASA which trusted “his booster” more than him.

              The second stage booster cut-off after the orbital insertion burn and detached.

              “Capcom, send up the check-list, let’s get it over quickly so we can move on to the fun stuff.” ordered Gene.

An hour later the capsule had finished its check-up and Capcom radioed the go to rendezvous.

 "This is Kouston, proceed with rendezvous, over"

"This is Gumdrop, preparing for rendezvous, over" replied Jeb. 

"This is Kouston, why are you called the Helios, Gumdrop, over." replied Capcom uncertainly. 

"This is Gumdrop, haven't you noticed the capsule is shaped like a piece of candy? over."

Muffled laughter erupted in Mission Control, which was swiftly suppressed by an amused glance of Gene's.

"Well, they are the crew, they get to name it." replied Gene thoughtfully, remembering what he called his fighter jet during Kietnam.

"This is Gumdrop, we have visually contacted the docking dummy."  

 

 

"This is Kouston, proceed with practice docking."

"Kouston, are receiving navigational anomalies. The nav-ball has changed completely." Dildrin asked. 

"This is Kouston, are you sure that the nav-ball has changed its programing?"

"I'm certain Kouston-" he was swiftly cut off by Jeb, "Ah, it has switched to docking mode automatically once we reached load range of the target."

"This is Kouston, what do you mean by load range?" capcom frowned as he relayed the reply.

"This Gumdrop," It was Corkin, "Jeb means visible contact range. It is not referencing that we are a computer simulation game, the very thought of it is preposterous. We are lining up with the decoupler now."

While all of this was going on, Jeb was piloting the Gumdrop closer and closer to the second stage.

"We are within five meters of the target, we have completed objective one." 

There was again muffled cheering which was silenced by an unapproving glare.

"We read you Gumdrop. Proceed with the other experiments."

These experiments were worked on for two more weeks until the final call from Kouston read, "commence deorbit burn, see you on the other side."  

They completed the burn successfully and decoupled the service module from the command module.

Ten minutes later the spacecraft hit the upper atmosphere and started the aerobrake. It was a tense three minutes in Mission Control, everything was beyond their power now. All they could do was pray and hope that the spacecraft's SAS worked correctly in this phase of the mission.

At the end of the long minutes they were radioed from Gumdrop, "This is Gumdrop, we are all safe and sound, except for Dildrin who forgot to buckle his seat beat, but he will be okay in time."

It was an exuberant group of controllers who made the day of a dozen near-by bars and of the spectators with their drunken acts of stupidity. 

 

Edited by Alpha 360
"Kouston, we have several problems, but that doesn't matter so we want to continue on with the mission."
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Chapter two: Danger a long way from home

Spoiler

"Congrats Jeb, you did awesome!" cried Dobit Kerman.

"Thanks." Jeb replied, failing to accept that the reason he was here in the bar was because Corkin had been the commander of the mission. Corkin was in the back of the bar drinking contentedly or at least he seemed contented. There was a slight dim of sadness in his eyes. He watched Jeb get broadsided by dozens of fans crowding around him, asking for autographs. There was just one person sitting near him, it was Gene. 

"Gene, I'm tired. You know me. Jeb over there is collecting a lot of credit he shouldn't have." Corkin muttered.

"Listen, Corkin. You are recognized as apart of the mission, an essential part. Jeb also should deserve some credit. He piloted the first rendezvous in Kerbin orbit and came close to the first docking."

"Yes, but haven't you heard of the praises heaped on to him.'amazing spacewalk!' they said to him. Well, I was the one who made that spacewalk. Jeb is so blind to everyone around him who isn't cheering him on. He has more fans than anyone else in the space program, and he so arrogant about it and.."

"Please, Corkin, control yourself. You are getting rather drunk. Want me to escort you home?" asked Gene seriously. 

Corkin took another swig at his bottle.

"Why does Jeb have to be in everyone's face? Look at him flirting with that poor girl. If she's not careful she'll end up like dozens of girls he has dumped."

"Corkin, you know that isn't true. You are going home right now." ordered Gene. 

"I don't have a care in... Bllleeeccchhh!" He burped loudly enough to silence the room. Everyone stared at him. Someone whispered to another, "Who is that guy?"

Gene never felt so embarrassed in his life as he forced an struggling Corkin into his feet and marched him out the door. As soon as Gene and his command passed the bar broke into a wild dance party with struggling drunks and stumping around making fools of themselves. Jeb was not among them. He had snapped a picture of Corkin while in his drunken phase. If this photo ever got out, it would ruin Corkin's face forever, he would get fired from KASA. Jeb slipped into his car and drove home to an empty house. He couldn't wait to get this picture developed. 

Three weeks later the first probe was launched with the intention of studying another planet. Its mission was to map the surface of Eve, also getting scientific reports from the upper atmosphere because no one knew, or even thought they knew what in the world Eve's atmosphere consisted of. The launch went perfectly. It successfully made it to orbit and made the encounter burn. 2 and a half days later the Eve Explorer crossed the SOI of Kerbin and became the first controlled object on its way to another planet.

Meanwhile the construction of Helios 2 was underway. This was to be a full dress rehearsal, with the LM and CM orbiting the Mun for a week preforming experiments and once again launching hand-held satellites. Bill strode through the VAB looking up at the giant beast of a rocket. The Hercules V was the largest rocket single-handily. It towered over the Hercules 1B and boasted five mainsail engines instead of three. It would be the rocket that would get them to the mun. And only he knew the rocket that would get them beyond.

The Helios V rolled out on the launch pad, it clearly deserved the stage and the attention of hundreds of tv cameras gluing their eyes on it. It weighed a crushing 400,000 tons on the launch pad, the launch pad whose next ordeal was with the real thing. The crew were all veterans, Bob Kerman who made the first spacewalk in LKO, was the scientist. Thompwell who piloted China 4 which, due to the oxidizer burning off in the summer heat, lacked the delta-v to reach orbit and had to coast through re-entry without a heat shield because of a malfunctioned decoupler. He was known as the second best pilot in the KASA, and would have been thought as the best if he wasn't married, was the LM pilot. And Stelta Kerman who was the first female kerbal in space, flew in China 6, was the CM pilot.

"T minus 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, booster ignition, 4, 3, 2, 1," There was a second between the words, the crowd held its breath as plumes of fire erupted from the bottom of the largest mechanical beast of the decade."and Lift-off, of the Helios 2." The launch stability enhancers detached from the rocket and it slowly but surely began to climb into the sky.

In orbit they decoupled the second stage and began to plotting their maneuver node. They were an extra twenty-five thousand kilometers higher than they anticipated, but hopefully everything would be okay.

They detached the LM from the bottom of the CM and turned around to dock to it when Stelta Kerman radioed Kouston.

"Kouston, we have several problems, but we want to continue on with the mission."

"Okay, what is it." asked Jeb, who was playing Capcom for that day.

"LM is spinning like a pulsar, speeding up, what shall we do?" asked Stelta.

Jeb replied without consulting Flight, "Quick, get in your Eva suit and see if you can get inside. Then activate SAS, that should stop the spinning."

Stelta, without thinking did what Jeb asked her to do when the CM received a jolt on the nose and would have started spinning if SAS wasn't on.

"Kouston we have been hit by the LM, nothing damaged severely though. Continuing to Eva."

"What the Kraken, Jeb what did you tell her to do?!" Gene screamed, furious.

"I told her to do an Eva over to the spinning LM, jump on board and activate the SAS." Jeb said calmly like that was perfectly logical.

"Holy Kraken, if she gets hit in anyway, I will have you fired, no arrested!!" Gene's head was a bright red when he suddenly fell out faint on the floor. 

"I guess that was the end of that. Quick, I need you guys to cooperate with me, see if any of you can make contact with the LM and turn the SAS on."

The control room went back to their duties shocked at the situation.

"This is Kouston," Jeb said into the radio, "What is her progress?"

"This is Mothball, calling Kouston, we have received a radio report from Moskow. They say they think they can help for a million credits."

"Done." replied Jeb.

"They said that they have experienced the same problem before, and they solved it by parking the OCM right next to their LM and used the RSC to spray the LM on the outside which reduced the spinning."

"Kraken. what is the report on Stelta, bob?" asked Jeb calmly into the radio.

"What? she's, she's done it already. She's aboard the LM and slowing it down with the RCS."

Eyes popped open everywhere in Mission Control, including Jeb's. 

Jeb took a huge sigh of relief, "That, was a close call."

 

 

 

Edited by Alpha 360
"Kouston, we have several problems, but that doesn't matter so we want to continue on with the mission."
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Sorry, RL will get in the way so much, the rest of the entries will come every two or three days.

 

Chapter 3: Looking behind.

Spoiler

Gene woke up in his room with an earsplitting headache.

"Just a bad dream." he said to himself, "Also must have gotten a bit too much alcohol last night."

He walked down to the Kitchen where his wife was making breakfast.

"Hello, honey." He said, "Do you remember what happened last night? I somehow don't."

His wife replied, "Yes, it was about 1:00 in the morning when Jebediah's car drove up with you in the back seat unconscious. He said that you weren't drinking but had managed to faint in Mission Control."

"Excuse me, dear. I have somewhere to go right now."

He now fully remembered what happened in mission control. He raced outside, jumped into his car and sped off towards KSC.

Jeb was just leaving Mission Control when Gene arrived.

"What happened!? Tell me that everything went fine and you're never flying again, worse then you are fired!" cried Gene.

The controllers coming out of Mission Control watched interested. One bold controller answered for Jeb, "Everything is fine, Helios 2, alias Mothball, is headed to the Mun with the LM on board."

Gene shot fury through his eyes at the controller. 

"You broke every single piece of protocol that upheld. You will not get off without consequences. Jeb I am reassigning you to public relations, you, you there are fired."

Giving out the punishments started to cool Gene down. He took a large breath to control himself further, then marched into Mission Control. The wide-eyed controllers moved in a green mass to the nearest bar to drown their fear.

Gene sat down at the flight director's desk, this was the fourth shift from launch. There was only one more shift, then the whole process would restart itself with shift 1.

"Have we discovered the reason behind the spinning LM, because I am not dealing with another blasted idiot screwing things up." asked Gene, still cooling from his encounter with Jeb.

An EECOM replied, "Yes, while we un-docked the CM, we were using the reaction wheels on the LM. When the CM detached, the LM stopped receiving instructions from the CM. Its last instructions were to turn to the left, so it started spinning clockwise. We have added the vital note to the instruction manual to make sure that the reaction wheels are turned off at launch."

"Thank you, finally somebody doing their work correctly. How long until Helios 2 reaches the Mun's SOI?"

"Two hours, flight."

Gene had now completely had cooled down from Jeb's disobedience. 

"Sir, we have a conformed leakage in the lander, we will not be able to attempt an abort simulation over the moon."

"Blasted Kraken. You had to ruin people's career on this mission." accused the Kraken.

"Sir?" asked a rather stupid kerbal.

"Your fired." Gene muttered under his breath, suddenly raging again.

"Sir?" repeated that unfortunate kerbal.

"YOU'RE FIRED!" screamed Gene at that kerbal, who went running from the Mission Control.

The other Kerbals went along with their business, each feeling Gene's pain as he sat embarrassed at his own outburst. The stress of a flight director was getting to him, getting to him hard.

"Hey Shorty. Ready to run?" asked the bully punching Jeb in his face, "Take this knuckle sandwich as a token of my appreciation." he sneered.

Jeb reeled back, his nose bleeding. 

"I am not going to give in to you. You will not copy my homework." replied Jeb, holding his ground.

"Yeah, you will break. I will break you!" cried the bully.

Jeb would always remember that day as the day he was broken. The bully tormented him,punching and kicking him. After an hour of punishment in the alley behind the school, the bully took the homework from Jeb's backpack, copied it, then ripped it up. Jeb cried in pain, he was left lying face down on the concrete, no one knew, or cared about his pain. His mother died giving birth to the both to him. His older sister, Valentina was in collage, while he, who was only twelve, cried in the back alleyway. 

He sniffed. What would his father think of him. His father, a giant of a kerbal, had never showed weakness before and expected his only son to do the same. His diminutive stature caught bullies like bees drawn to honey. He would get them back one day, when he was successful and them failures. He stood up, dusted himself off as best as he could and picked up his scattered supplies. 

"Son." Jeb looked up quickly, not-expecting his father to be here.

"Y-yes." Jeb stuttered fearfully.

"What is this?" asked his father, looking at his son's bloody face.

"Nothing." 

"Son, somebody beat you, I can tell." stated his father looking at his messy face, "Did you fight back?"

"Yes, sir." replied Jeb.

"Son, will you get that bully back, pain for pain." asked his father, goading him on.

"Yes, sir." replied Jeb, brightening slightly. He would get that bully back. A small conscience twinged in the back of his brain. That bully did break you, it broke you to crave revenge. Not to submission, but to vengeance. 

 Jeb woke up startled in his bed. He had collapsed in bed the day before when he returned from the introduction into the public relations board.That had been an exhausting day, and now he had to do it all over agin. He felt lonely, remembering the past. His father had always goaded him on to fight, to face his fears. And he had done so, masking his feelings either under a triumphant attitude or no emotion at all. He had been the coolest kid in school, with a car he had won from a illegal poker match with the bully, which he did strip everything of value off of by catching him cheat. There was a half-a-dozen girls who hung around him during school, all trying to be the coolest girl with the coolest guy. He hardly drank unless there was reason other than to get drunk. Everyday he had to spend time building up his emotional mask, telling lies to himself. He felt very lonely, sometimes lonely enough to consider not constructing an emotional barrier. But every-time so far he had instantly purged the thought from his mind.

The astronaut core did nothing to help, in fact it hurt him. He often sat envious of the guys in class who would be best buddies. He once even considered talking with them, but they were the backwater of the class and 'had' to spend time with the coolest in the school. When he made his first flight, being co-pilot to Thompwell Kerman on China 6 and helping them land safely on Kerbin. This heightened his popularity without end. With each additional flight more and more people joined the fans cheering him on. Except that they weren't. They were there because it was the best place to get popular. The most popular people were in the Jeb Kerman fan clubs. Jeb could feel that most of them weren't there because of him, but because of the other people in each club. His real supporters were choked out by the crowd. He could never find somebody who was authentic, but he knew that they must exist. 

He must get to work. He stood up and stretched, now that he thought about it, how about one day with an emotional mask? Really, didn't help anybody except himself. In fact, it hurt him. Everyday now he could feel the kerbality draining from him. Soon, he would be able to go back, to be real with people. No, impossible. He threw it from his mind. He had to play to the crowd's wishes, he wouldn't stop being the famous Jebediah Kerman.

The fake Jebediah Kerman.

Jeb sighed. It was a hard world he lived in.

 

Edited by Alpha 360
"Kouston, we have several problems, but that doesn't matter so we want to continue on with the mission."

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Chapter Four: An old Friend

Spoiler

"On Kerbin Connected News Corporation, KASA's Helios 2 spacecraft has splashed down safely. KASA officials say that the mission was a complete success, barring one significant anomaly in the Lunar Modular's reaction wheels. It should be noted that through the brave intervention of Jebediah Kerman, they managed to bring the LM under control. Gene says though Jebediah saved the mission objectives, he will be serving a detention to the public relation's board."

"Can you change the channel?" Gene asked the bar tender, who switched the channel to sports news.

"You are going to have to hire him back, you know that." accused Bill Kerman. They were at the celebration party in one of the more popular bars, the Dribbler.

"Yes, I have plans for him on the second, maybe the third interplanetary mission." replied Gene.

"What are your plans on your interplanetary missions?" asked Bill since they were on the subject, "Because you know that I have a rocket on the drawing board that can carry 100 tons to LKO."

"You do, well that's interesting." He said feigning surprise. He had known that Bill had big plans for interplanetary travel. 

"Yes, also I have my engineers working on a CM that can carry nine Kerbals, able to dock, able to land on an atmospheric body and can be used with a variety of modules. Probadobadoyne will be willing to sell this new technology for 10% off if you want it."

Gene was now surprised, "So that is what you call your company. Probadobadyne?"

"Yes, after the Kreek god of productivity." replied Bill instantly.

Gene thought for a minute, took a gulp of beer, then replied, "I don't think we should invest too far in the future. As it is, we still have another twelve years of Mun missions. Then a mission or two to captured asteroids, it would be about fourteen years until we will use your equipment."

"I was just getting to that. We think we have an improved LM. It can hold three Kerbals instead of two, it also comes with a new command module with space for five, Two would stay in orbit and the three would go down to the Mun, let's say to a base there. Stay for a couple Munths, then return to the CM, and come home."

Gene laughed, "So you are content with pushing me around, telling me what to do? Well, I think about it but I will call the shots." With that he finished his bottle and left the Dribbler.

Jeb answered the knock on the door. 

"Val! how are you doing?" cried Jeb, "Come in, come in." Val was the only person to which he acted purely himself.

What's up Jeb. I heard you were, 'in detention'. I decided to come around and see what trouble you are in."

"I am in no trouble what so ever. Bill told me that I was going on the second interplanetary mission and this detention is just a reassignment for a few years, probably. I might go on one of the later Helios."

"Jeb you would never guess what I going to do?"

Jeb skimmed through a mental list of the least possible things Val would do, "Get married?"

"No, I'm joining the astronaut cadet program, You know how much I love flying planes, I would love to fly a rocket."

"Right, I'll give you the low down...."

Three Munths later, the most historic mission in history a week away. The commander was Thomski Kerman, Veteran of the Third China flight. The LM pilot/scientist was Erisei Kerman. She had been the scientist on China 7. The CM pilot was Dundan, a newbie. Munory, the physician of the mission, looked over the the crews health records. This was a vital yet obscure part of the mission process, and he was proud to have it. He expected everything to be fine. If it wasn't there was two other backup teams ready to fill any hole. He looked over Erisei's medical scan, then startled. He dropped his mug of coffee surprised. It fell and shattered on the floor. There was something really wrong with this scan. 

Yes, the scan was correct. Erisei Kerman had an anomaly on her left arm. This anomaly looked to be where her funny bone used to be, right on her elbow. It would require a lot of extra time to find out what this was, but this ended her assignment to the mission. He sprinted to the telephone and called Gene.

"Hello Munory. What happened?"

"Erisei's scans don't check out. I'm afraid she's out of the mission." replied Munory.

"That sucks, well we got a new cadet that graduated astronaut class with some of the highest scores I have seen since Jeb. She says that she is Jeb's older sister, Valentina. She is on reserve team 1. I think she will fly the LM pretty good."

"Alright, whatever you say Flight."

Thomski Kerman looked at Valentina in feigned disinterest as she strode across the training room to the fake CM set. The way she carried herself was very similar to Jeb, except more humble. She was pretty, not exceptionally but very nice overall.  Her eyes caught his attention from the first moment he saw them. They were a grassy green which went well with her black hair and pale green skin. She wore no make-up, but she was still beautiful. 

"So, are you Thomski Kerman." she asked him when she crossed the room.

The Astronaut Corp is NOT a place to fall in love in, the sensible side of his mind argued.

"Yes. I am your commander. You might want to meet our CM pilot, Dundan."

Dundan who had been busy in the fake capsule, crawled out. His eyes opened in astonishment when he saw Val.

"I, amm, am Dandun, Dundan." He stuttered helplessly. He only being 24, he still hadn't known how to compose himself around beautiful women, probably the only reason he had a wife.

"Hello, I'm your LM pilot, Valentina, when do we start training?" Val flashed a brilliant smile to the flabbergasted Dundan.

"We were training, let's get started again." Thomski replied for Dundan. Wow, she is beautiful, replied the more kerbal side of him. He would have to watch himself to make sure he didn't say anything embarrassing. 

A week later they were sitting on the pad with the Hercules V. Gene drove up near the launch pad to see a load of reporters and unassigned controllers assembled near a large platform they had constructed.  

As he got out of his car, the controllers started chanting, "Speech! Speech! Speech!" Gene slowly walked to the platform and mounted it. This was the zenith of his life, the week were he would complete the mission given to him personally by John F. Kerman, days before his attempted assassination. All the TV cameras were looking at him when he began his makeshift speech by the Hercules V, five minutes before lift-off. 

"Friends, employees, reporters, astronauts, dreamers. Here on this launch pad is a rocket, fueled by dreams. The dreams of thousands of hardworking Kerbals  invested in their planet's future in space exploration. Here is the result of their dreams. The largest piece of machinery ever flown, the record breaker for distance, endurance, perseverance, and boldness. Here, is the Hercules V with Helios 3, now renamed the Extra-ordinary by the crew of Val, Thomski, and Dundan. Now, I believe that we shall run for cover." Everyone applauded him, short and to the point, that was how Kerbals like it. After vigorous applauding, everyone sprinted for cover as the loud speaker played The Final Countdown."

"5, 4, 3, main booster ignition, 2, 1." Exhaust fumes erupted from the bottom of the beast, and it detached from the pad. Kerbals screamed in delight and terror at the same time, while the crew who had watched Gene make his speech were engulfed in the smoke cloud. They would be fine, a little sooty but still alive.The rocket rose steadily from the pad and started a gentle gravity turn. "And lift-off of the Helios 3 to the Mun and back!" the speakers finally cried. 

The crowd cheered, they were going to land on the Mun!

Jeb smirked as he watched the Helios 3 take-off from the launch pad in the Kerman Space Center, "Show them your skills Val. You are one of the best pilots over flown, show them." he encouraged the unresponsive screen. 

That was when the first stage exploded and the Helios 3 plummeted to the unforgiving waters.

 

Edited by Alpha 360
"Kouston, we have several problems, but that doesn't matter so we want to continue on with the mission."

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Chapter 5: A New Plan

Sorry, RL has been computer free the last couple days, this will make up for the lack of POA. By the way, I am giving Ultimate Steve the credit for coming up with the story in a spoiler  

Spoiler

            The Extra-ordinary spiraled down, the rocket weighing it down as it tumbled towards the ground. Kerbals screamed in terror as fragments of the rocket fell towards the space center. Mission Control was crazy. Kerbals were running everywhere screaming for help. But a dozen or so controllers stayed in the their seats. These Kerbals were doing everything in their power to help the astronauts. Gene was among them, sitting still at his desk. It was normal when Kerbals panic, that they would run around screaming, it was apart of being Kerbal. 

             "Abort system activated, their parachutes are fried. second and third stages detached!" called the remaining FIDO.

             "The Extra-ordinary is on a trajectory to impact the bay in one minute." yelled a GNC through the noise and confusion of what remained of Mission Control. 

             "The crew are conscious, Gene. Thomski is losing blood. Thomski is unconscious now!" cried a EECOM. 

             "Forty seconds until impact." 

             Inside the tumbling CM Valentina was experiencing crushing gees. The Launch Escape tower had pulled them away from the debris, but they were now falling towards their doom. Val reached out to the control panel, fighting against the gees that held her body suspended. 

           She pressed a random button, hoping it would do something. The door of the CM shot out, leaving a gaping hole in the side of the CM. The CM started to flip-out, creating even more gees. Dundan was now unconscious. She could hear the GNC call out, "they are slowing down! They are drifting towards the land!"

           She flipped another switch, detaching the heat-shield. Then things started to get wonky. The heat-shield started to massively slow down the ship. The controllers couldn't make head-or-tail of it.

           "Gene, the good news is that by detaching the heat-shield, we are slowing down massively, the bad news is that we have no idea at all what is causing it." said an controller gleefully. 

           "We are down to one-hundred meters a second, we have one minute until crash." the GNC replied. 

           "Flight! The parachutes are not damaged, but the wiring is burnt. If we can get Val to pull the cord, parachutes will work!" cried a EECOM.

           "Patch that into Valentina's radio, hurry!" Gene ordered the Capcom. 

           Valentina was stunned when she heard their plan, "You say I have to pull this cord, from outside of the capsule?!"

           "Don't worry, your EVA tether will keep you safe, its very strong. At least that's what our scientists say so its pretty strong." replied Gene.

          "AWESOME!" Valentina screamed into the radio, and started to proceed with pulling the release cords. She unbuckled her seat belt and then floated up to the ceiling, the capsule had lost the heat-shield and was falling at just below terminal velocity. A cord dangled down from the ceiling connected to the parachutes.

           "Twenty seconds until impact!" the faint cry of the GNC in the background noise of her suit radio was just barely audible.  

           Valentina yanked the cord, throwing herself off balance and tumbled towards the open door. The parachutes released.

           "Five seconds until impact!" the rest of the mildly sane Kerbals who were manning their booths started to join the crew jogging around mission control breathlessly. Gene himself felt like he was going crazy, and started to get out of his chair when the video on the screen showed the capsule slamming through the air, hitting the water and starting to sink. 

            "Get recuse craft out there! See if you can salvage any survivors." Gene yelled into the radio. 

             A few minutes later the recuse crafts reached where the Extra-ordinary sank. 

            "Gene, there are three bodies here floating. Picking them up." said Jimbold Kerman, manager of the recovery services for Kerman Space Center. 

            They fished the three Kerbals out of the water and took off their helmets, which were almost swamped with water. 

            "They're alive!" cried a crew member after feeling Thomski's and Dundan's pulse. They started to celebrate, then one felt Val's pulse. 

             "This one needs serious medical attention!" he alerted the celebrating Kerbals. The celebrating stopped and they started tending the hurt Valentina while Jimbold radioed Kouston.

            "Kouston, three survivors are picked up, but all need medical attention. Valentina took it especially hard, returning to Kerman Space Center as fast as possible."

             "Roger that, medical teams will be on site." replied Kouston.

            Two weeks later Valentina came to in a hospital bed in Kouston. Jeb sat near-by fidgeting while he waited for his sister to waken. 

            "Val! You're awake!" Jeb cried jumping up from his seat. 

            "Did the rest of the crew make it?" she asked slowly, moving her head to face the ecstatic Jebediah.

            "Yes, but, I can't believe that you are awake. I have been waiting for a week, an entire week of you just sleeping away like nobody's business. Because of this incident we will not go to the Mun for a while, but that doesn't matter." 

            "Wait, you don't care if we go to the Mun or not? What has happened to you?" questioned Valentina. 

            "I don't care about the Mun anymore because we just found a new moon of Kerbin! It's small and made with a large proportion being ice, making it the prefect place for a mining base to refuel ships heading out into the solar system! Its small and the light gravity of it makes it one of the easiest places to land, as well as great flats that stretch for miles and miles around. Gene is devoting 70% of all KASA resources to landing Kerbals on Minmus, that is what we are calling the new moon! There will be a meeting on the new initiative next week!" 

              The next week, Gene stood up on the podium, waiting for the Kerbals to quiet down. There were Kerbals from all branches of KASA, from the R&D division to the Public Relations Board.

           "Kerbals, we are here to discuss the Minmus Initiative. Bill Kerman, leader of Probodobodyne, has offered us completely new Space Launch System, called the Samson,will be able to launch large amounts of cargo into LKO. He has offered that his brother, Bob Kerman, will completely refit our Mission Control to deal with such an upgrade. Bill here guarantees that none of their rockets will blow up, ever. He promises to pay 1,000,000 credits to us per rocket accident. So that means that they will never break. On the launch pad in Kerman Space Center, the Samson stands ready to be launched. The crew will several old veterans, including Corkin Kerman and Bob Kerman. The newbie will be Keyke, the LM pilot. This craft can hold five crew members, but we are just using three for simplicity's sake. The crew have voted to call the spacecraft, The Incredible, for this is even larger than the Hercules V,  basically two of them strapped to the sides of the main core.

                The Samson rocketed into the air without a hitch, making a flawless gravity turn. There were hundreds of oohs, and ahhs, as the massive rocket lifted-off of Cape Kerman. 

               "Smooth, smooth as a bell!" cried Corkin Kerman inside the Incredible. 

               Five minutes later they were in orbit. 

               "Detaching Boosters." said Keyke with glee, as he opened the safety protecting a button. Three words were written under button, 'DANGER! JETTISON BOOSTERS'.   

               He pressed the button and pushed himself over to a window where the boosters where thrown back by the solid rocket motors, spinning away in stupendous glory. 

                "Wow!" he exclaimed at the sight. Bob also glanced out the window at the boosters tumbling away. Corkin didn't look at all, he was busy doing the check up for the Incredible. 

                "Preparing for burn to Minmus in one day, be ready for it." he said plainly has he examined the three meter wide control board in front of him.

                   "Corkin. This is Kouston, we had a slight change in plans, you will be the first kerbal to leave Kerbin's sphere of influence."

                   Cokin stared blankly out the window, "What the Kraken!?" 

 

 

Edited by Alpha 360
"Kouston, we have several problems, but that doesn't matter so we want to continue on with the mission."

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By the way, I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions for the name of the series, since I am out of ideas, and that I dislike the present name because it doesn't signify what in the world this series is about. Thanks for all your help.

Edited by Alpha 360
"Kouston, we have several problems, but that doesn't matter so we want to continue on with the mission."

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Chapter 6: Maybe Minmus 

Through an unanimous vote, since only I was voting, I have renamed this series, Advancing Through Hardships. Enjoy!

Spoiler

        "Kouston, could you tell me how can you do this since we have only three months of supplies on board?" asked Corkin, having gotten over with his previous shock. 

         "You will proceed to Minmus, orbit, then you will eject yourself out of Kerbin's sphere of influence. As soon as you get out of the SOI, you will conduct experiments then return straight back to Kerbin. You will have an ample fuel budget, about seven hundred meters per second extra. Also, we have a special experiment which you will find by the time you reach Minmus. Just so you know, Gene approves of the experiment."

          "What?" he asked. Then he heard a thumping noise up in the LM2. As he watched in horror, he saw Jeb float down through the hatch.

          "Hi Corkin, I am your assigned LM pilot. I have just been looking over the controls. Are you sick Corkin? You don't look so well." commented Jeb as he floated in the zero-g.

          "You got on this ship without my knowing, and now the oxygen and food will run out because of you! You blasted idiot!"  he bellowed into Jeb's face. 

           Jeb grinned, "Gene told me to steal-away in the LM, so I am supposed to be here. Also, you might have noticed that we have excess lifesupport, that extra lifesupport was for me."

          Without a care showing on his face he drifted over next to Keyke and joined him looking at the boosters tumbling away. 

          The next day after checkups they started the departure burn  to Minmus. 

          "Departure Burn in three, two, one." counted Mission Control, "Ignition!" cried Jeb when he throttled the engines to 100%.

          The CapCom relayed the instructions from mission control,  "It has been two minutes of burning, prepare to shut down engines in three, two, one, Shut-off!"

         "You will miss Minmus by 6,000,000 kilometers, a few million kilometers outside of Minmus' SOI."

         "Understood, Kouston. Setting up correction burn at the descending node."

          Jeb yawned, "Well, I'm going to take a nap, wake me up for the maneuver." He unbuckled his seat-belt and pushed himself to the LM where he had his stuff stored.

         "Jeb! Remember to wake up at the maneuver node! If we miss that maneuver node, I'm blaming you!" Corkin cried angrily up through the hatch.

          "Alright." Jeb replied, not a trace of care in his voice.

          "I'm going to take a nap." Keyke announced, strapping into a sleeping bag on the wall.

          "Remember to wake up at the maneuver node, if Jeb's not awake by then, wake him up." ordered Corkin. 

          Corkin stayed in the commander's chair, monitoring the controls. He slowly slipped into a sleep, the last thing he saw being a red light on the panel.

          Down in Mission Control, A GUIDO noticed a slight anomaly with the trajectory. It looked it like it was moving slightly retrograde, but he dismissed it as a computer programming glitch. 

          Hours later Corkin woke up. He unstrapped his seat belt angrily then shook Keyke awake. 

          "You idiot! You missed the maneuver node by one-hour!" 

          "Corkin! You might want to see this!" Jebediah yelled down from the LM, "We're in trouble. Big trouble." 

          Corkin floated up to the LM, "What do you want me to see?" he asked confused.

          Jeb pointed out the window, a stream of particles was leaving the engine bell down on the first stage.

          "The engine must have been on 4% power since we ended the departure burn. It has expended 800 m/s Delta-V. We are now on course to a close Mun fly-by then a collision with Kerbin. Minmus is out of the mission."

          "Where did you get these stats?" asked Corkin running down to the capsule and tried to turn of the engine. 

          "Mission Control, they are figuring a way to by-pass the off-switch.  Apparently the launch jigged up the circuits and the off switch is the 4% power switch. Also, there is 200 m/s left in the tank which if we don't stop it in thirty minutes will take us to a collision course to the Mun."

         Corkin was thinking hard, "Jeb can't we just detach the third stage?" 

         "Well. Mission Control said that if you detach the stage, it will likely crash into us.But, we can try to isolate the fuel source."  replied Jeb.

         "Alright, lets work on that."

         "Incredible, This is Mission Control." forty minutes later they had isolated the fuel source, but they were on a collision course with the Mun in two days. 

          "Yes, we copy."

          "We have come up with a new plan. You will not change course and will complete a suicide burn and land on the surface of the Mun. As a flag, you can use the flag patch of one of your Eva suits. Bob can come up with some experiments to bring back home."

          Before the astounded Corkin could answer, Jeb replied, "Awesome! We are all ready to become the first Kerbals on the Mun!"

          One and a half days later they entered the Mun's SOI. Corkin although had recovered again from surprise, he wasn't feeling very good so most of the controllers in Mission Control had bet that he would never fly again.

           "So the plan is to detach the third stage, then to run the service module dry at 10 kilometers, fall for little bit while flipping the craft around and detaching the service module. Then fire up the LM engine to land on with the landing legs. Plant a flag and preform experiments for three hours, then launch get to orbit and return to Kerbin as fast as possible, giving us a sixty percent chance of success." Corkin rated as they approached the surface of the Mun.

          "Sounds great!" cried Jebediah. 

          "Well, you have the fun part of landing this beast, I have to come up with useful experiments. Well, I can test how things fall on the Mun. Like water and that plushie Jeb won from that silly contest of his. Anyway, I'll detach some of the science experiments form the service module for use." grumbled Bob.

         "Well, I'll monitor the lifesupport supplies and see what we can do with them." said Keyke, "I will need to transfer all the supplies from the service module to the capsule and LM."

         "This is Kouston, you have two hours before the decent plan is activated. Also, if you fail, we at least don't have to clean up the mess." The CapCom tried and failed to make light of the situation.

       "Not funny." Keyke defused the joke. 

       "As the minutes passed, they readied themselves for the descent. 

       "T-10....9.....8....7......6.....5.....4....3.....2.....1, ignition!" cried Mission Control in one voice as Jeb throttled the service stage engine.

        "We have anomaly! The service stage engine is firing at 96% thrust, which would put the landing velocity at 13 m/s."

        "Lets hope that the LM can turn around fast enough." 

        "The service module will run out in T-10....9....8....7....6....5....4....3....2....1, detach!" cried Capcom.

        The service module drifted away slowly as Jeb spun the craft with RSC and pointed the LM's engine at the Mun.

        "Ignition!" cried Jeb as he fired the Poodle engine. 

        "Their landing speed will be 5 m/s! They made it!" cried a exuberant GUIDO.

        "Three hundred meters, 70 m/s!" cried a GNC.

         "Two hundred meters, 50 m/s!" he said right after the previous announcement.

          "One hundred meters, 40 m/s!" Mission control held their breath.

          "50 meters, 20 m/s."

          "Firing RSC!" cried Jeb.

          "25 meters, 10 m/s."

          "5 meters, 5 m/s. TOUCH-DOWN!" Mission Control burst into cheers. Happy Kerbals flailing about jeopardized the mission so Gene had to resort to desperate measures. 

         "EVERYBODY, SHUT UP!" he bellowed. 

         Everything suddenly became quiet.

         "Good, drinks are on me." he addressed the thirsty Kerbals.

         The controllers stampeded En Masse out of the mission control. 

         "Alright, shift number two. Get in here." 

         As the replacement shift entered the building, Gene calld Corkin, "Have any words to say?"

         "Yes, How will you get us out of here!?"

            

 

Edited by Alpha 360
"Kouston, we have several problems, but that doesn't matter so we want to continue on with the mission."

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Chapter 7: Off the Mun

Spoiler

"What do we do now?" asked Keyke as he twiddled his thumbs while Bob and Jeb were outside preforming experiments. 

"Sit and wait." replied Corkin. 

They sat in silence for a couple awkward minutes, then Keyke pipped up, "Are you a fan of Jeb, because I am."

Corkin huffed and stayed silence.

"Was that the wrong question to ask?" Keyke shuttered.

"Yes."

They sat for another couple minutes, "Did you see that footage of Val when she saved the Helios 3 mission? That was just epic!"

"Yes."

Five minutes later Keyke had mustered up the courage to speak again, "I'm bored."

Corkin glared at him angrily, "I am too. Shut up."

Suddenly Jeb splattered on the window. His face brightened up with a smile, then he pushed himself away with a thrust of him arms and a puff of mono-propellant.

"That startled me, why did he do that." Keyke wondered unwittingly aloud.

"Because he is Jeb, haven't you learned that?! Shut up or I will toss you out the airlock." Corkin threatened.

Silence. You feel the air passing through the filters, the slow huff, puff of Kerbals breathing. Corkin finally settled down to nap when the alarm clock rang.

Corkin stood up violently and hit the alarm clock off the shelf. Keyke picked it up, and read the entry on it aloud, "Moho transfer window, 3 minutes."

"Why are we alerted about a Moho transfer window when we are stuck on the surface of the Mun?" 

Keyke shrugged, "I think all alarm clocks are connected to time certain events like transfer windows."

"Really." Corkin muttered sarcastically. 

"This is Mission Control. We are ready to bring you back. Now listen. Bob and Jeb will take all the experiment results and store them in the capsule, then they will strip the outside of science equipment. That will add about 20 m/s of Delta-V. Then on the inside, you will throw away the back-up parachutes, the back-up batteries, and all the mono-propellant out of the Incredible. That will give you an extra 10 m/s. Finally, as soon as y'all reach orbit, you will dispose of the landing legs which will give and extra 20 m/s. That is vital that you obey all of our instructions. Any questions?"

"Ummm. Wouldn't we need those back-up batteries to hold our retrograde-position during reentry?" asked Corkin, shuddering.

"The aero-dynamic forces will keep your position, hopefully."

"What happens if we lose the parachutes?" asked Keyke, shivering.

"You would bail. You will be also given a hero's burial." Mission Control dutifully reassured them.

"Great! We're ready when you are!" cried the irrepressible Jeb. 

They set to work stripping the lander of its valuables. 

A few hours later Bob called Kouston, "Kouston, we are ready for lift-off."

"We copy, Incredible. Launch will initiate in three, two, one. Ignition!" cried CapCom. 

The Incredible lurched forwards, directed for a lower equatorial orbit. 

"The charts say that you can make it. You will have 230 m/s left after entering orbit, hopefully enough to get you out of there. Supply wise, you are good to, though the charts predict that there might be a slight problem for wastewater during the final stage of the atmospheric reentry."

"What are these charts that you keep referencing?" asked Corkin.

"Well, it the Kerbal Engineer. Or Bill, he keeps tabs on everything in this mission and he has twenty Kerbals giving him all the reports and writing up these charts with everything we know about your spacecraft."

"Engine burn is almost over. 5. 4. 3. 2. 1. Engine Shut off!" cried Jeb as he hit the off button for the LM engine.

"In eight minutes you will circularize your orbit and then we will send you the data for the maneuver node."

"Right!" Jeb agreed.

"Stop it Jeb! CapCom doesn't need your remark at every end of his sentence!" Corkin bellowed at Jeb.

"Hey, a little warmness would hurt on your part." replied Jeb, slightly bitter. 

Corkin fumed in silence while Jeb was busy with the controls. 

Jeb couldn't resist a little jab at Corkin while he was angry, "Corkin, can't you join Bob and Keyke in the command module, I need my space."

Corkin glared, and stayed seated. Jeb took no notice, waiting until Mission control was ready.

"This Kouston, engine ignition in 5. 4. 3. 2. 1. Ignition!" 

Jeb opened the throttle and let the Incredible speed into orbit.

An hour later, they all sat in the command module of the incredible and looked at Jeb's miserably drawn projection of their orbit after their maneuver node. 

"You see, we are just 3.4 m/s short of completing the maneuver, which will place us at 71 kilometer, sentencing us to death. What Mission Control suggested was to get out the fire extinguishers, tape them to the outside, and fire them. We will most likely go deep into the atmosphere and feeling some crushing G forces, but we will be able to make it back."

"Well, I'm glad to go home! I can't image, We'll all be heroes! Don't you see it?" babbled Keyke in spite of himself.

Corkin glared at him, Keyke annoyed him as much as Jeb did, "Yes. Now get back to work everyone. I'm the commander here."

Bob and Keyke went back to analyzing the Mun samples  and Jeb reentered the LM to prepare for the departure burn. Corkin buckled himself into a seat and promptly fell asleep.

He woke up to the steady shaking of the LM engine moving the Incredible further and further away from the Mun. A minute later the engine cut off. He unbuckled from his seat and drifted up to the LM cockpit. He pointed an accusing finger at Jeb, "You initiated the burn while I was asleep. You disobeyed my orders to wake me up when the burn started."

"What orders?" Jeb asked.

"The automatic orders that Kouston in-forces. The one that says, the commander must be awake when any maneuvers are being preformed."

Jeb shrugged, "That's a mere formality, it is not necessary at all. By the way, do you mind popping off outside and firing the fire extinguishers?"

"You can do it yourself." retorted Corkin. He drifted down to the science bay where Bob and Keyke were examining the samples. He lacked any spirit of helpfulness. 

After Jeb fired the thrusters, he came back inside and examined the course.

"Blast. Crew! We are on a collision course with Kerbin!"

 

Edited by Alpha 360
"Kouston, we have several problems, but that doesn't matter so we want to continue on with the mission."
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Read the story. Gotta say, it's quite good! I like how the anomalies show up every five minutes (just like in real life, and this isn't sarcasm), and the characterisation is definitely your story's strongest asset. I could definitely learn from your writing.

Edited by VelocityPolaris
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Thanks. Yes I know how I real life every single mission launched--and a few that didn't--had some problems. I read an autobiography about Gene Kranz, the flight director that Gene Kerman is based off of, and it went into detail about alot of problems that could have finished missions but were solved by Mission Control. Never underestimate Mission Control. By the way, the book I read is called, "Failure is not a Option" and it is a very good read. 

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Chapter 8: An Advanced Start

I case you are wondering. I have started a new career mode game which I use Tantares ALOT. I mean, its my favorite mod other than KSPI-E or USI. But there is a catch.....I have cheated my way to about the three hour point in the game, but this was a week ago. That is why there has been no pictures. I hope that the pictures will pick up through these few chapters, though I can not assure you that the pictures will continue. Also, chapters are going to come and go pretty fast.

Spoiler

          "Jeb. I come formally to ask your resignation. Corkin has made some comments about your actions, but that doesn't matter. What does matter is that you have been taking too many risks. I am afraid that you will never fly in space again." Gene paced across the floor of Mission Control uncomfortably.

          Jeb gave an earsplitting laugh, "Like you can keep me from getting onto a rocket. Try your best to stop me but I WILL fly in space again. I WILL see the stars unfolded and displaying their awesomeness without a cumbersome atmosphere. I WILL see the flat surface of Minmus stretching off over the horizon, with or with KASA." 

            Gene sighed and handed Jeb the resignation papers, "Sign them then you should leave."

           "Good-bye. And when you see Corkin, tell him that I will beat him to Minmus!" Jeb announced and he walked away calmly from Mission Control. When he got home he let his feelings loose. 

             "Kraken take Corkin, Gene and everyone working with them! THEM! They think they can get me retired when I am only 35! The ignorant idiots! Kraken, the blasted sons of snakes! They think they can ground me forever! Tell that to Corkin and he sock your face off, and he deserves it completely! Those blasted, blasted, blasted stupid idiots!" he rated as he paced hurriedly in a circle. 

             Valentina hurried up the steps after racing from the KASA astronaut agency, "Jeb! I heard all about your flight to the Mun and back and how to endured the highest gees ever! It was like twenty-gees! and you pulled the parachutes 400 meters from the ground, slowing down just before hitting the ground."

             Jeb was still pacing in a circle, when he stopped and took a deep breath, "They fired me. They said it as formal resignation, but they fired me! Somebody doesn't want me in KASA. I was on the top of my game. I saved the Incredible while Corkin was nearly dead of the gee forces, and he will fly again! Me, friskier than a bee, am fired. I'm going to bring Corkin down with me."

             Valentina hadn't gotten pass the first words, "Gene fired you?! What, your their best pilot, why should they give you up?" 

             "Because somebody up top was bribed and told Gene to do it. Gene would never accept a bribe, but maybe a guy on top will."

              The phone rang, Jeb answered it, "Hello, who is it?"

              "Its me, Stelta. I heard that you were fired from KASA and that you are starting your own space program, I want in." 

              Jeb thought for a second then answered, "Yes, there is an open spot for you. Who told you that I was starting my own space program." Jeb rattled his brain for an explanation, "I was trying to keep a lid on it."

               "Oh, Bill. Who else?"

               "Alright. Met me at the junk yard tomorrow morning."

              Jeb hung up, "Val, I think I'm going to start my own space program. Luckily, Bill is going to help with the finances, and start me off with a few million credits to get my space center up and running. But, Val. Don't quit your job to join my program because you wouldn't get paid much." 

             Val shrugged, "Good luck." 

              Jeb went to work making everything fit together in his brain.

              1: Somebody up on top fired him from KASA                                                                                                                                                           2: Bill spread rumors that he was starting a space program                                                                                                                                   3: Bill was willing to fund the program

              It didn't make much sense but he had to get to work.

             "Well, what do we have here?" asked Stelta when she arrived at the junk yard the next day. The fledgling space center was built on the outskirts of New Kerman, there was already a concrete launch pad, a tracking station and an open air mission control. The kerbonaut complex was just a dozen or so tents set up far on the right. There was a large shack which had a large sign on the top of it, saying in big letters, R&D. There was no runway or SPH and the administration building was an empty dug out with limited electricity. 

            "Welcome to JSC, or Jeb's space center. The company that you are going to work for is named Rockomax, another invention of mine." Jeb grinned. 

              "Well, lets get to work." she replied. Jeb lead her over to one of the tents were three other recruits stood.

              "These are some Kerbals who want to sign up to be kerbonauts. They have no previous experience, so you are their superior. This is Raydred, our first pilot. This is Agagy, our scientist. And finally, this is Kenski, our engineer with experience with jet planes." after they had all shook hands and Stelta had officially signed up, Jeb lead her over to the VAB where a group of engineers were huddled around a table with blueprints on it. 

            "Wow, how long did you take to make all of this?" asked Stelta. 

             "Umm, about five hours." mumbled Jeb.

             "What?"

             "Five hours." Jeb said his interest turned to the designs on the table.

             "What!" cried Stelta, "That must have taken a lot of effort."

             "No it didn't. I called up a load of friends and gave them each tasks right after I legally formed Rockomax. They converted this huge wheat silo into the VAB, the tents where easy to set up, the rest of the shacks and dugouts were built quickly. But, it was a long night." Jeb grinned. 

             "Alright, what's this?" asked Stelta pointing at the blue-prints. An engineer looked up and answered for Jeb, "This is the Progression 1 SSTO. Single stage to orbit, how about that!" 

              "You see, funds are going to get pretty low so its best that we start with reusable rockets. The Progression can carry two passengers to low orbit, for training or to rendezvous with a space station or stranded life pod. It is just the first of a line of Progression rockets which will get us the Minmus before KASA." Jeb replied airily. 

             "Isn't everyone here newbies?" asked Stelta looking over the motley crowd of young collage students, homeless tramps, and various young rocketry amateurs."

             "We aren't, I mean me and you. That is pretty much the list. That is why we are going to be staying in LKO for a long time, to get everyone ready for the trip to Minmus. What is good is that  KASA plans to leave for Minmus in about two years, plenty of time for us to get off the ground."

             "When is the first rocket launching?" asked Stelta admiring the large empty silo that was the VAB.

              "In two weeks. Unfortunately, you will be flying the second Progression. The first Progression crew will be Agagy and Raydred. Agagy will practice preforming experiments in Zero-G and Raydred hasn't been higher off the ground than what his own feet can do. Well there's a trainer in the 'kerbonaut complex'. I'll just leave you to your work." He left with a smile plastered on his face towards a series of large dump trucks carrying gravel.

 

         The launch took place two weeks later, the JSC had started to have some form. The kerbonaut complex was completed and three large dishes where constructed as well. 

         Raydred and Agagy were strapped into the Progression 1, or just the Progression by the crew. 

         Jeb acted as the Flight Director, "This is NK, calling Progression, over." Jeb had only several older radios despite the funds at his command. They were simply not in stock. He had a group of engineers designing a brand, spanking new one as they spoke, but it was a few days away from being completed.

          "This is Progression, we're ready for lift-off."

          "Lift-off in 3. 2. 1. Ignition!" Jeb cried from Mission Control. Raydred hit the throttle and the stabilizers detached. The rocket rose slowly up, too slowly. 

          "Engineering, is this a problem?" asked Jeb as he watched the rocket struggle upwards.

          "No, our charts say it the Progression has enough Delta-V."

          A minute later the Progression was 15 km up and acceleration rapidly, "NK, the acceleration problem has been fixed. Nothing to worry about."

         Three minutes later and Raydred fired up his engine to get into a circular orbit, "NK, We are in orbit!" 

         Then a monitoring EECOM noticed something amiss with the data he was receiving, "Flight! There has been an oxygen leakage. They have one day of oxygen left, and descending rapidly."

         "Shorten the mission down to two hours! Get rid of any experiment that is non-vital!" Jeb cried to the scientists.

         In thirty minutes, since the scientists hadn't made any suggestions, Jeb made the decision for them, "The Mission will abort back to Kerbin, now!"

       In twenty minutes they had reentered and had landed. His engineers had overestimated the amount of parachutes needed by about a factor of 2. That would be fixed. Then a knock sounded on the door of Mission Control. Jeb stood up and opened it. There stood a load of reporters. 

        In a flash Jeb shut and locked the door. "Everyone! Scatter!" he cried as he raced towards the backdoor of Mission Control. The reporters had come and all must run before them.

 

Edited by Alpha 360
"Kouston, we have several problems, but that doesn't matter so we want to continue on with the mission."

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Chapter 9: Progression(s)

Spoiler

      "Launch of the Indirect in 3. 2. 1. Ignition!" cried Jeb as he pressed the big red button in the center of the consul. The probe on the launch pad shot up, heading for the Mun. 

      "Flight! We have red hot heat signatures on the probe body. There is a twenty percent chance it will burn up in the atmosphere!" an EECOM alerted.

      "Keep the angle of attack above 45 degrees for the atmospheric launch." Jeb ordered.  

     "The heating has dropped off significantly, Flight." 

     "Glad to hear it."

     Minutes later the Indirect was in orbit. In Mission Control a kerbal stood beside Jeb, watching over the procedures.

     "Can you give me assurance that the satellite will reach the approximate orbit specified?" he asked with an air of superiority, "I would hate to tell Kerlington Model Rockets and Paper Products that your satellite bound for the Mun failed to work as projected by your proposal since we are paying for this very expensive mission."

     "Please, your tongue is asking for a rest. The payload will be released a specified. I thank you for having patience with our progress." Jeb's words felt too big for his mouth. It was very trying to please his guest but it had to be done. SSTOs were very hard to recover and they could haul up very much right now. So he had turned to cheep, disposable boosters for his probe program. But something relatively in space flight still meant a million or so per launch so contractors had to be found. 

     "Maneuver node is created, departure burn is calculated. Burn in 16 minutes." Jeb sighed, it was slightly boring these parts when the craft was waiting for a maneuver node. That was why he often had some magazines near his side during a mission. In this mission he had tried his hardest to look professional for his distinguished guest so the magazines were absent.   

      Jeb twiddled his thumbs, waiting for the maneuver node to be executed. 15 minutes later and the engine fired up, and two minutes later it was throttled down. Three hours later the probe entered the Mun's SOI. The tired controllers cheered feebly. It had been a long day, but it wouldn't stop there. They planned a maneuver node and executed that one as well. They had reached the final orbit. Jeb stood up wearily from his consul as well as everyone else. Even the representative from KMRPP was exhausted from watching the mission. 

      Stelta met him on the way out of Mission Control, "Tiring day?" 

      "Yes, I'm going to end somebody to be a second flight director. i just can't do it. Gene had Jirrul and Kikiel as flight directors for probe missions and the occasion rescue mission. I'll find somebody."

      "There's a list of retired and fired controllers from KASA I could find for you." Stelta replied, trying to be helpful. 

      "Thanks that would help." Jeb hear a quick burst of laughter in the background, but he ignored it. Tired controllers would take the simplest things and laugh at it.

      "Good-bye." Jeb said, walking away back to his house to hit the hay. 

      "Good-bye." Stelta replied and continued her course for the VAB to see if  she could help with the construction of the Progression 2. It was her baby and she nursed it and had infinite faith in it. 

      It stood 30 meters tall, about two-thirds the size of the Hercules rocket. It was only 2.5 meters, making it quite slim. It could carry two crew members to HKO, maybe even to a fly-by of the Mun. But it would be close and the Progression 3 was filed to complete that task. 

     It was to launch in three days, after the controllers had a few practice rounds then it would be off into the wild black yonder. As she walked up to the rocket the engineers looked up from their work, acknowledged her presence, then started working again. She looked at the Mainsail engine that was powering the gigantic beast. They were just touching it up, making it look pretty. The engine was similar to the M-5 engines that powered the Hercules, but it was more efficient and produced slightly less thrust. The efficiency was what mattered, without it there wouldn't be barely enough delta-v to go around a table. Well, that was a mild exaggeration.

      "Can get a welder and get to work?" Stelta asked the engineers. One of them gestured to a welding kit, "I seen you welding before, you don't do a bad job of it."  

     Stelta grabbed the welder and started to work on sealing the main fuselage, "What is your name?" she asked the engineer.

     He shrugged, "My name's Geofry, I know your name's mis Stelta seeing your badge." His accent came from the lowlands, Sea-salt, if her guess was correct.

     They worked in silence adding the finishing touches to the rocket. 

     "So, your flying this rocket?" he asked.

     "Yes, were you thinking to name it because I'll struggling for a name, I'll probably ask Raydred for a name."

     "How about the Fortunate?" the engineer asked.

      Stelta pursed her lips, "That'll work. Thanks for that." With that she walked out of the VAB to return to her apartment.

      "Launch of the Fortunate in 3. 2. 1. Ignition!" cried Jeb. Stelta turned the throttle on and the rocket rumbled upwards. Things started to turn sour early on in the gravity turn. 

       "Flight, extra-ordinary stresses on the capsule."

       "Turn down the throttle!" cried Jeb.

       "The capsule is slightly damaged, Flight but the stresses have been relieved." cried and EECOM.

       "Flight!, The turning down of the throttle has placed us in an awkward position. We can go to LKO but not to HKO. We don't know how the rocket will preform on reentry." alerted an GUIDO.

        "That problem can be fixed later. Is anything else wrong?" asked Jeb.

        "FLIGHT! The booster just shut down, three of the four fuel pipes are dead and the one isn't enough to feed the engine."

         "Abort! Abort to Kerbin!" cried Jeb. 

         "Flight, the decoupler malfunctioned and the capsule is drifting away from the rocket!"

         "Orientate retrograde now!" Jeb yelled.

         "Flight! The capsule is pointing prograde, the gimbals locked on us!" 

         "Get somebody in that to point themselves manually away from the booster since the booster was pointing prograde when it detached."

         "Flight! There is a massive drain in the water supplies! It looks like a micro-meteoroid hit the water storage and ruined it. The reaction wheels have only so long they can function without water,"

        "Freaking Blast it! Get them back down right freaking now!" Jeb screamed.

        "Flight reentry has just started. They are pointing 6 degrees off of retrograde, exposing the damaged side of the capsule."

        "Put them all on suit oxygen. We can only pray now, blast it." muttered Jeb, sweating. The whole room stank of sweat from anticipation. Would they make it through, would they rescue Stelta and Kenski?

        "Flight. We lost contact with the Fortunate. We are now tracking debris from that area." A GNC said softly.

        The SimSup, or the Simulation Support, stepped out of her "box" on one side of Mission Control.

        "Well done all of you. I expected a lot worse from you. You managed to survive until fifteen minutes into the flight. I expected that you Jeb would fire up the engines even higher to stop the aerodynamic forces from hurting the capsule. Of course if you had done that the space craft would have exploded and the mission lost even before they exited the atmosphere. Well done being cautious for once." With that she left the room. Everyone there was exhausted from the horrendous Sim. All of them hoped that this worst case scenario would never happen in their careers. 

       Of course, when you wish for something not to happen, it always happens. 

 

Edited by Alpha 360
"Kouston, we have several problems, but that doesn't matter so we want to continue on with the mission."

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Chapter 10: A New Partner

Spoiler

     Jeb looked through the rundown bar late the next night. The ceiling hung down in several place, the mossy wood bending under the strain of the second story. Random chairs were employed to the center of the room where mostly-drunk occupants slumped against the bar. The light came from four steampunk bulbs in each corner. Smoke formed a dense cloud in the air, adding to the broken down feel of the place. 

      He walked up to the bar and gentle pushed aside two drunken Kerbals and righted a stool on the floor. The bartender walked up to him and asked, "Can I get you anything?" His voice was amazingly gruff but showed no sign of unhappiness.

      "You were a professional controller at KASA, and you helped solve the problems of China 3.  I could use you your services." replied Jeb starkly. 

       "Deal. But, could I still run this place. It feels like home to somebody like me." He asked sorrowfully looking around at the ramshackle place.

       "With the pay you will be getting, you can refit this place and pay an employee. I want you to be a Flight Director, or at least somebody who can be my assistant."

       "Alright, where do you want me to sign the papers?" he asked getting out of the bar and walking over to Jeb. 

       "At JSC, 10:00 am sharp." Jeb ordered.

       "Yes, sir." replied the ex-bartender.

       The next day the ex-bartender arrived at the JSC office building. He gazed longingly at the perfectly firm ceiling, the lack of trash scattered on the floor. He took a breath of fresh, pure air not defiled by smoke. He glanced at the clock, it read 9:59. 

       It turned 10:00 a few seconds later, but by then he was knocking on the door of Jeb's office.  

       "Come in." Jeb said.

      The ex-bartender walked in and took a seat.

      Jeb started interrogating him by asking a vital question "What is your name?" 

      "Wefly, sir." Wefly replied.

      "Age?" Jeb asked again not looking up from his paper.

       "54, sir."

       "Past occupations?" 

        "I first was a computer engineer, then I was a controller, then I was a soldier for two years, a light-weight wrestler, and a bartender."

        Jeb smiled, "Light-weight wrestler? Well, any relatives?"

        "My mother is still alive and kicking. My two brothers died in a car accident, my sister ran away with somebody--I have no idea who--and my father died because he tripped and fell off a ski slope."

        Jeb felt sympathy for the kerbal, "now write the amount of money you own, right here." 

        Wefly wrote a large 0 in that spot.

        Jeb stood up and shook hands with Wefly, "I'll give you an advance." he said, pushing over five one hundred credit bills. 

        "Thank you kindly, sir." he said, and he exited the building. 

         The next day Wefly sat right next to Jeb. The real launch of the Progression 2 was underway. 

          

 

 

     "Launch of Progression 2 in 3. 2. 1. Ignition!" cried Jeb, and Stelta threw the throttle down, the rocket started flying off the pad. Progression flew through the thunder clouds, burning the clouds into wisps of air. Everyone in Mission Control shuttered in anticipation, what would happen, would they be able to save the Progression if everything went wrong? If failing that simulation had done something, it put everybody on high alert. 

       Suddenly everything turned sour once more, "Flight! My consul reads says that cabin oxygen is zero!" all the EECOMs were screaming something dreadful. Cabin pressure had been nuked, the experimental fuel cells had blown up, the engine stopped firing, and half the fuel disappeared in a instant  in the top tank. 

        "Abort!" cried one of the controllers. 

        "No! We're not aborting!" cried another controllers.

        "Stelta!? Everything here says your dead! Stelta!" Jeb cried into the radio. 

        The battle continued, the controllers were divided in half over aborting or not aborting. 

        Wefly had been looking outside the entire time, he decided to intervene.

        "EVERYBODY SHUT UP! The Progression 2 was struck by lightning and the data you see on your consuls is ratty. re-load the data and get back to work!" he ordered. Amazingly, nobody argued with him. 

         Jeb sighed, the mission wasn't lost after all, Stelta and Kenski would survive to live another day. 

         "Wefly, great job. How did you know that lightning struck the rocket?" 

         Wefly tapped his head, "Think, a large charged metal object right in the middle of a lightning storm. What else would happen?"

          "Good job Wefly. You are promoted to Flight Director." Jeb tapped his shoulder.

          "Kenski, start the exterior experiments." ordered Jeb.

          "Yes sir."

          Kenski nodded subconsciously, and started to suit up. After thirty minutes of struggling and sometimes employing Stelta's help he got inside of his EVA suit. He drifted over to the airlock and cycled the air. He heard the slowly hiss of air leaving the airlock until the pressure was zero. He forced open the door and pushed off in the blackness.

          He stared at the blue ball below at his feet. He felt like he was falling, falling down towards the planet. The land sped around the planet. He looked forwards now, trying to repress the sense of descending through the atmosphere. The heat and plasma of reentry, the high-gees that could mash a Kerbal into jelly. 

          "Stop thinking about reentry." he told himself. He looked ahead the sun shining through the hazy atmosphere, being refracted and giving off a yellow light. 

           "This NK, give us your EVA report."

           "Well, everything is so, so tranquil. It is very hard to imagine that three hundred million Kerbals inhabit this planet. No borders can be seen from space, so it seems pointless that wars ravage all over Kerbin. The atmosphere looks quite, forbidding. I can't imagine that the atmosphere that gives everyone on Kerbin life, is the main barrier to space travel. To think that we will soon travel through it again, and it might kill us."

         "That's good enough Kenski. Don't worry, we will get you pass the atmosphere." Jeb reassured him.

         "Alright, proceeding to exterior experiments." 

         Six days of semi-constant monitoring later and the time for reentry had come. Wefly had now officially become a flight director and he and Jeb decided to come up with different teams of controllers, each would do one 3 hour shift, sleep 3 hours, then get back to work and continue. Jeb's team color was white and Wefly's team color was red. This meant that every controller must wear his or her team color so that the shifts would work. 

         "Experiments are stored. Ready for deorbit burn." Stelta reported.

          "Deorbit burn maneuver node is sent. Execute in 9 minutes." replied Raydred, who was acting as Capcom since Capcoms are always kerbonauts.

          Nine minutes later the burn was executed and the Fortunate hit the atmosphere.

          "Plasma blackout in 3. 2. 1. They will hopefully emerge from the plasma blackout in two minutes." 

          Two minutes later Jeb radioed the Fortunate, "Fortunate, are you there? Fortunate!"

          Another minute passed. Jeb closed his eyes, "They're dead. The capsule would have hit the ground about now." 

          He thought just saying it to himself would help the pain of not seeing Stelta and Kenski again. Stelta was their best pilot, and a good mechanic, she helped to get the program started. She help him find Wefly, who got them into orbit. She was a good friend as well. Kenski was young, and what was even more heartbreaking was that his fear of the atmosphere was justified, it killed them. Jeb stood up and walked a slowly as he could make himself to his private break room, where he wept.  

         Likes to those who figure out what NASA mission that was struck by lightning......

 

Edited by Alpha 360
"Kouston, we have several problems, but that doesn't matter so we want to continue on with the mission."

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Chapter 11: In the Highlands of Kerbin

Sorry for the shorter chapter, RL becoming a problem again because of the promise of guests next week. I'll try to get one, maybe two more chapters during the weekend to make up for this intrusion:/.

Spoiler

     "Grandpa! Is that a meteor?" asked little Jiffery pointing to a bright point of light in the west. Jimbold Kerman looked over west at the flashing point of light. The manager of KSC recovery services was out camping with his ten-year old grandson. 

      "I don't know." he said. They watched it for a minute.

      "Grandpa, if it lands, can I have it?" 

      "Maybe." Jimbold continued gazing at it. It was on a shallow trajectory, and it still had survived up to that point. 

      They watched it burn, then slowly the flames subsided and it started to plummet towards the ground. Suddenly a sprout of flame came from it slowing it down then parachutes deployed, slowing it down further. 

      "Come on Grandpa! Lets get in the car and see it land!" Jiffery tugged on Jimbold's shirt. 

       "Lets hurry then!" cried Jimbold stumbling towards the car. 

       They drove towards the rocket which slowly drifted towards the ground. They followed the road until the rocket was right beside them then they turned into the pasture that the rocket was landing in. Large landing gear were deployed, ready to steady the rocket once it reached the ground. 

       As they reached fifty meters of it the engine fired again, slowing the descent and it landed smoothly on the grass. Jimbold parked the car and Jiffery rushed haphazardly out running parallel to the mud holes.

        Jimbold hadn't the heart to stop his grandson from reaching the rocket so he followed along a few paces behind him. As Jiffery reached the bottom of the rocket somebody climbed out of the hatch on the top. 

         "Hello! Can anybody help us?" cried the figure on the top. 

         "Don't worry, we'll, we'll find a ladder." Jimbold looked up at the rocket. It consisted of multiple large fuel tanks welded together with an engine very similar to the M-5 on the Helios rockets. 

          Jimbold tripped back to the car calling out to Jiffery, "Stay there. Don't touch anything, I'll be right back."

          Jimbold got in the car and drove away as fast as he could go towards the farmer's house he saw earlier on the road. Jiffery watched Jimbold drive off, then he craned his neck back to see the kerbal on the hatch.

             "Hello! Are you an astronaut?" Jiffery yelled up at the figure.

              "Yes, my name's Kenski." Kenski replied looking down.

              "Uh, did you land on the Mun?" asked Jiffery, "Don't all of the astronauts land on the Mun?"

               "No, not all astronauts have landed on the Mun." replied Kenski amused. 

               "Then where did you land?" asked Jiffery, his neck starting to ache.

               "I just landed back on Kerbin! I thinks that counts as landing so where." he laughed. 

               "Can I fly in your spaceship?" he pleaded.

               "I'm afraid that my spaceship is out of fuel." Kenski answered with infinite patience.

               Jiffery lowered his head, his neck in agony. He stared hard at the engine, trying to figure out the pattern of the fuel pipes. 

               Jimbold arrived with the farmer and a giant ladder the farmer strapped to the back of his truck. 

               "That's a rocket?" the farmer asked, his accent caused him to drawl and stretch his words into multiple syllables.

                "Yes. Lets get that ladder up and see if we can lean it up against the rocket. They need some way to get out." Jimbold helped the farmer unstrap the ladder and carry it over to the rocket.  

                They unfolded the ladder there and leaned it up against the rocket. It was just one meter short. But Kenski hopped off the hatched, held on to several cracks and lowered himself onto the ladder. 

                 "Stelta! Come on out. Some friends got a ladder for us!"

                 Stelta's head looked out from the hatch. She felt slightly sick, from the reentry gees. Also she had forgotten to buckle her seat belt when they started reentry so she had gotten knocked around until she found her seat and strapped in. She was embarrassed by such a rookie mistake, but felt relieved when Kenski forgot to tidy up around his seat and a bobble head fell flat  Kenski strangely bounced back after returning from space. She guessed that Kenski just wanted to cover up his enormous relief after coming back through the atmosphere. The antennae had been placed in a bad position so that it burnt up on reentry, meaning that NK control had no idea that they were alive.

                  She slowly crawled out of the rocket and alighted on the ladder. She returned to ground shortly afterwards, feeling slightly better.

                  "What space agency are you from?" asked Jimbold looking the two of them over. 

                  "Rockomax, Jeb will answer for us." replied Kenski. 

                  "Alright, I'll call my boss and see if we can help you cart this rocket over to where it needs to go." replied Jimbold. 

                   "WHAT! Jeb had an SSTO on the ground, landed and with crew. With Stelta Kerman, hero of Helios 2. You're kidding me right?"

Gene exclaimed into the phone in mission control. 

                    "Yes, can you get a mobile crane over here? Also, tell Jeb that they are still alive. He doesn't know yet because the antenna burned off in reentry."

                     "I'll, I'll see what I can find." Gene put the phone down. He had been interpreted in the middle of a simulation of Samson 2 landing. Corkin looked up through the fake Samson 2 capsule at Gene.

                      "Who was that phone call?" he asked.

                      "Jimbold said that Rockomax landed an SSTO just on the other side of the mountains, east of New Kerman." Gene replied, still thinking over his words.

                       "That's Jeb's company right?" asked Corkin interested.

                       "Yes." replied Gene. 

                       "Alright, permission to leave, I'll go help the crane deliver the SSTO to JSC." asked Corkin getting out of the fake cockpit.

                       Gene frowned, then gave Corkin permission to go. 

                       Three hours later Jeb arrived at the site where the Progression 2 had landed. He sighed in relief, he had recovered sufficiently and now watched the procedures as the crane loaded up the SSTO. Corkin was examining the engine thoroughly, trying to be helpful, he thought. Corkin would have never came out here without being ordered to. 

                       "Hey Jeb!" cried Stelta, she had just emerged from the cockpit again, this time holding large sample bags and checklists.

                        "Stelta! I thought you were dead! How did you do it?" asked Jeb breathless, striding eagerly towards her.

                        "The only thing was that the antenna burned off in reentry. Nothing else." Stelta climbed down the ladder slowly, almost forcefully.

                         There was an awkward silence for a moment, then suddenly Corkin cried from where the Progression 2 stood on the flatbed near-by, "You stinking thief!"

                          Jeb whirled around to face Corkin, "Don't you accuse me of something you can't prove." Jeb frowned and tried to force his expression to stay neutral.

                           "You blasted little devil, Jeb." Corkin stood firm. 

                            All eyes turned from Corkin on the platform and Jeb next to it. Stelta climbed down from the cockpit and landed on the ground, "What are you accusing Rockomax of doing?"

                           "This engine, you call it a mainsail right." Corkin pointed at the engine of the Progress.

                           "Yes, what do you have against it!?" cried Jeb, his emotional wall crumbling. As no answer seemed to be coming forth he reversed the blame to Corkin, his face was filled with anger, "Why are you constantly pecking at me with you useless arguments! You get me fired from KASA, you always belittle me with your comments, and now you accuse me of being a thief and a liar!"

                           "This engine, is the prefect replica of the M-5 engines used in the Helios Missions, and I never heard of you buying the blueprints of the M-5. You are a thief! You have betrayed your government's space agency's supervision, and now you will pay!" Corkin screamed the last words into Jeb's face.

                            "Corkin, get out of here." Stelta stood between Jeb and Corkin.

                            "Oh, so Jeb's speechless, he's guilty, guilty of wronging the government. I'll see you and your space program tossed into the trash can, written off as betrayers and thieves. That includes you Stelta, siding with Jeb." He spat out Jeb's name like a curse.

                            "Corkin. Get out of my sight. I will go to court of law to resolve this problem. And when I am found innocent, I'll make sure to pay a visit to KASA, and spit your faces! You Kraken scum." Jeb raged.

                            Corkin smiled, "Who lost their temper, me or you?" The workers formed a circle around the contestants. Kenski struggled through the mass of bodies and planted himself right next to Jeb.

                             "Who got drunk in that bar the night after the Helios 1? You?"Jeb taunted, "It's not like your the only one who can threaten. Now, file your case. LEAVE!" Jeb spit in Corkin's direction, and turned around, leaving an awestruck crowd behind him.

 

Edited by Alpha 360
"Kouston, we have several problems, but that doesn't matter so we want to continue on with the mission."

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