Creature

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  1. You're not unsaveable and you're not doomed. For starters I'm gonna say you need to give yourself much more credit about what and who you are! Here's a quick list: You're smarter than average. I know it because the average 19-year old doesn't study space technology, plan orbits and know in extensive detail how rocket engines and celestial mechanisc work. You do because you're here, playing this game. You've written some fiction here on the forums. That's more writing than the average person will probably do in their entire lifetime. So you're already ahead of the curve on that one too. You have all kinds of ideas which may or may not be good, but that's already more than most people. The average person has ideas on what they're gonna have for dinner. Not that there's anything wrong with being average, but I'm just saying those are some of your strengths, in some areas you're probably below average and that's fine too. Everyone is. I bet Elon Musk really really sucks at something. Maybe cooking. Problem is that you're expecting to be exceptional. One thing that others have said many times and I'm gonna repeat again is that everybody is bad at everything at first. Then they spend years being bad and then they spend years being OK and then they become good. No way around that fact. But first of all, start giving yourself credit where credit is due. I don't know you so there's gonna me much more than what I just wrote but at least I know those are real things and I'm on the other side of the world. I'm really tempted to say I know how you feel, but I've long ago realized that another person can never truly know how someone else feels. So instead I'll say I've felt something really similar pretty much my whole life. For what it's worth, here's my view on your situation based on this thread and some other posts around the forum from you that I've come across. First here's a little story from my youth: I really wanted to play the guitar when I was young. I really liked heavy metal when I was like 10 or 12 or so and it was my dream to be in a band one day. We even had a guitar so there was literally nothing stopping me. Somehow I never got around to it though. When I was about 15 I tried to learn it but it was hard and I never got too far. Then at 16 I changed to another school and became friends with some musician types, especially one guy who was a very good guitar player. Back then I wanted to play like he did but it turned out he had been playing since he was 8 years old so already he had 8 years of practice. So obviously I couldn't catch up in a year or two, how could I? So I kinda settled in with the thought that it's too late for me to start playing any more since I'm so far behind, I'll never catch up. He even tried to get me to play and actually he even mentioned I'd have the perfect fingers for it, too. Saying that might sound a bit weird to some but if you've ever played the guitar, having long and nimble fingers is a pretty big advantage so as a serious musician he kinda took notice of such things. For reference you can look up how big hands Jimi Hendrix has, I've got the same hand type. Now it's got nothing to do with actual playing skill, but it's a big help. And you know what? I was 16 when I decided that I'd too old. I'm 32 now. If I had started playing back then, I'd have 16 years of experience now, twice that which my friend had back then. Even if I had no talent at all, 16 years of practice would make anyone at least good, if not very good. So when at 19 you think you've missed your train, it pains me to see you making the same decision about yourself than I did at 16. If you start doing anything at all right now, when you're my age you'll have 13 years of practice doing it and you'll be very good at it. And trust me, when you're 32, you won't have reached any sort of endgame in your life where you're settled in and know everything. You'll still be young and you'll be at a perfect age to grab opportunities and do pretty much anything. Think about it for a while. If you had started doing something when you were 6 years old, you think you'd be any good at it now? Compared to your peers? For example imagine you'd started writing stories the second you learned how to write and would've done that regularly your entire life so far. You think you'd make good stories? I know you would because you do so even now (I've read them so shut up, I know) it's just that you need some practice to polish out some technical issues and learn how to make good into excellent. And that's what every single writer has always had to do. And you know what else? I'm in that same exact boat with my writing than you are. I've written enough to be decent but since I've had the same attitude towards writing that I had towards guitar playing, I haven't really practiced it properly. Thing between you and me is that I've wasted 13 years of writing time. You haven't, so make sure that at 32 you're not lamenting on the wasted 13 years and your decision of not to actively pursue whatever it is that you wish to pursue. Time is precious and even though at this age I luckily (and hopefully) still have a boatload of it to do things, you probably have 13 years more than I do. That's a lot of time to become good at something. On the subject of enjoyment and fulfillment: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/unhappy Heres' a comic I relate to. It's how I feel most of the time. I'm not a happy person and I'm really jealous of people how can just do things and enjoy it. I'm gonna go with Oatmeal and contradict some stuff that's been said in this thread. If you want to do something, you don't have to feel good about doing it. I don't feel good when I'm writing. It's hard, it's frustrating, I suck, everything sucks and I just wanna play video games instead. I do it because it's meaningful to me and not being a writer feels much worse than being a writer and enduring all the bad things that come with it. The sense of fulfillment or some abstract notion of happiness is hard to find. But meaning and purpose behind what I'm doing is what makes it worth all of it. When I have that, I find it's easier to find those nice emotions from other things like running in the woods, sunrises on crisp autumn days like this one and a nice cup of coffee and a muffin for breakfast on an airport just before heading out on a new adventure. But without meaning it's hard to find that happiness anywhere. So feeling good and doing meaningful things are not always at the same place for everyone. That's a piece of advice that gets spread around much and for people like me it's a bit misleading (No offence to anyone who's giving this advice! It's a good advice to most people but in some cases it just doesn't work at all.) The question is, what do you think is important? What's meaningful work? Who for example do you think is doing meaningful things right now? I know this is quite a wall of text and if you've had the patience to read it, congratulations, that's another thing where you're above average. You can read long texts, for many people it's quite an issue. Here's my last piece of advice. Conjure up an image of yourself 5 years ago. Go through a scenario in your head or even write it down where you give your young self some advice on what you think he should do. If you were the young you right now, how would you fix your current situation. And don't back out. You're not gonna leave the young you alone with his problems, are you? Give whatever advice you can, no matter how small. You know something now that you didn't back then. You're a little bit wiser. For what it's worth, apply that advice to your current self. It's the best you can do right now. Every single day you're a tiny bit better and a tiny bit wiser than you were yesterday. That's just basic logic, you're not becoming dumber by the day, are you? Of course not, it's the opposite.
  2. Oh, I finished my degree in June so if you can add that to the OP, I'd appreciate it M.Sc (Tech) in Biotechnology (minoring in process engineering), University of Turku, Finland.
  3. Amazing chapter, one of the best ones! I feel sorry for Camwise, so far he has been able to fix pretty much anything that's gone wrong but this time something broke for real even though he managed to save the ship and everyone else It's definitely going to be interesting so see how all of this affects him. Also I have to say your text has a very good pacing to accommodate the action and chaos and keep everything rolling forward with a good momentum.
  4. Chapter 4 - Shooting Stars Mum, Dad, I’m writing this down since I know you’d try to stop me if I came to talk to you and I don’t want to have to fight over this. My mind is made up and I’m going to be an adult now, just like you always told me to, and do what I think is the right thing to do. So as you’ve probably guessed by now, I decided to join, like I said I would. So you won’t be seeing me for a while. But trust me, it’s nothing like you think it is. I know. I’ve seen it with my own eyes and talked to the people there. They keep things a secret for now but everyone knows it’s not going to be like that for long. Once they go public, I can contact you again. I hope you understand. They have a mission and a purpose and that’s what I need in my life too, you said so yourself! They’re going to do something great. And if I have to sacrifice a few years of my life to help achieve that goal, I’m happy to do that sacrifice. Please, don’t be mad. Once you see what we’re going to do, once you see what your son will achieve, you will be proud of me. I promise. No matter what, I will always be your son. Experiment Yep. There was a smudge on the window. And it was on the outside. It shouldn’t happen but there it was. A blur in Lodhat’s little viewport to the cosmos. You could hardly see it, but with the light coming in just so – a grey spot hovering over the world. It didn’t matter whether it came from an engineer’s greasy finger after a hasty snack before rolling out the rocket or from some sort of weird, high-altitude bug with a substantial horizontal velocity vector hitting the window during launch. There was a smudge on the window. It was only day five and Lodhat was already thinking about turning this little bucket around and going home. He missed the outdoors. The long runs from the space center to the mountains and back. The beach. Swimming. They called Lodhat’s mission by many names. Project X. Xperiment. He called it the Bucket. Or in all of its brutal honesty, some people called it just experiment. With no capital letter. Because that’s what it was. He was just going to stay up there for 30 days like a lab rat and come home. They would poke him with instruments afterwards and see if he’d sustained some damage from the long stay in microgravity. Maybe not the most exciting mission, but hey, he had an impressive physique and a long history of measuring his body composition due to his athletic background so he was best suited for the mission. It didn’t make it any less boring, he thought and traced the rim of the window casually with his finger while watching Kerbin roll under him. Lodhat listened to the pre-flight checklist on the radio. Advance 2 was on the pad, ready to launch in a few moments. It was heading to the Mun. Now that was an interesting mission, they’d actually have to do stuff. Valentina sounded so calm and maybe a bit robotic over the radio that Lodhat almost suspected she wasn’t even a kerbal at all. But as soon as the engines lit up at liftoff, her barely contained, bubbly laugh betrayed something about her personality. Lodhat was on the other side of the planet during the launch so he couldn’t actually see it and since they launched at the same orbit as Lodhat, they’d remain on the other side. It didn’t matter though. He could follow the mission from his own computer inside the Bucket. Advance 2 didn’t have a lander, instead they carried a resupply pod which they docked at the nose just like the lander and pushed it to the Mun. Apparently it was cheaper to bring just fuel instead of a brand new lander so they would intercept the Advance 1 lander, refuel it and take it down to the surface. Initially Jeb had protested against the plan as the Advance 1 mission had been compromised but they would actually check the entire lander, fix whatever was broken and at the same time see if such an operation would even be feasible. --------------------------------------------------------------- I was once Nelsen Kerman. My name hasn’t been spoken aloud in over a year. Still I do not forget Nelsen. He never goes away. This morning I woke up and made my morning devotions with him. I meditated on my Duty and listened to him speak to me about it. But after meditation I stood up and walked to the door. I left Nelsen sitting on my chair. He could not – would not – help me in my Duty so I need to leave him behind. He weeps as I close the door. But Nelsen always waits for me. After the Duty is done, he will be there and speak to me. Now I am not Nelsen. I am a Sinbearer. --------------------------------------------------------------- Lodhat had four seats to sit in. That was a sort of a luxury. Or it was supposed to be, at least. He strapped himself into one of the chairs for a nap. He had tried napping while floating free. It was relaxing until he bumped into a wall, woke up just enough to realize what was happening and fell back asleep just to bump into something else five minutes later. The chair was more uncomfortable but it was a steady discomfort, something he could control. Just like the mission. A few hours later Advance 2 had rendezvoused with the lander and started to refuel and repair. Shelgen was the engineering mission specialist in charge of the lander preparations. That was one cheerful guy. Lodhat wasn’t a cheerful guy. He wanted to be sometimes, but he was more about doing than talking. Shelgen seemed to be proficient in both at the same time. Impressive work, though. He was able to install a new flight computer and new solar panels with solar tracking during a single EVA mission. Shame the lander could only fit two and Shelgen would have to stay in orbit and not even see the lander in action. Such is the fate of the engineer. Lodhat closed his eyes and tried to imagine what the landing looked like. Valentina and the mission scientist, Agare, sent a constant stream of status reports on two channels during the descent. Lodhat pictured the lander in his mind, slowly gliding over the grey munscape. Val sounded a bit nervous. There had been some problems with the lander during docking. For some reason it had started to spin on it’s own, which could indicate a leak but nothing was found. In the end Shelgen had concluded that it was probably due to the faulty computer or the universe had a glitch. No phantom forces during descent though. Finding a good landing spot. A small boost and some horizontal RCS. A good spot located. Killed the horizontal. Steady on the throttle. And soon a touchdown. Probably some dust puffs. A small incline but the lander was stable. Nice job, everyone. Lodhat saw all of this in his mind. It would be his future, too. Or something similar at least, but better. There was something more ambitious in store for him. The thought made him smile as he gently floated around his little home in orbit. He would be the first to pilot a Minmus lander when Advance 4 would launch. He listened to the transmission and stared out of the window. Not the one with the smudge. The clean one. He listened to Val and Agare prepare for EVA. He listened them planting the flag and exploring the landing zone. Apparently Highlands was a pretty rough place to land. --------------------------------------------------------------- The desert sun burns bright. I look upon the Sin and it hisses and spits foul fumes in the distance, looking small now but it already weighs heavily on my heart. My Duty is to board the Sin and fly with it. It is forbidden and an abomination, but as a Sinbearer it is my role to do what must not be done so that the Brotherhood may benefit. It is my sacrifice and there will be penance later. --------------------------------------------------------------- Lodhat listened to Val and Agare heading back in to orbit a while later and meeting the command module. He took a small nap during their trip home and made sure he had an alarm to wake him up when the crew was coming home. He listened to them land and he listened to the Touchdown Boogie party they were having while waiting for recovery. He cheered them on the radio and they said they waved at him as he passed over their heads, shining like a particularly stubborn shooting star which just refused to stop glimmering. He waved back. On hindsight he probably should’ve told them that. --------------------------------------------------------------- On the ladder I make my final decision. They told me it is all right to feel uneasy about this. They said feeling like that only means I am not corrupted. I ascend the ladder and look at the desert once more before I steel my nerves and open the hatch. The Sin devours me. Inside it is quiet and my heartbeats ring in my ears. I let the fear wash over me and focus on my Duty. That is the only way to conquer your fear. To function even when dread and terror scream in your ears. --------------------------------------------------------------- Hours and days and orbit cycles blended into one long, blinking existence. Lodhat spun around the planet time after time. He used to float near the window, one hand holding him steady while staring out and just trying not to think. Until he accidentally smeared the window with his finger. Now there was a smudge on the inside, too. He tried to clean it but only managed to make the smudge bigger. Fifteen days of boredom behind him, fifteen days ahead. One cycle at a time. That’s how you get anything big done. You start out, it feels nice and fun for a while and suddenly it’s not anymore. Suddenly you just can’t do it. Exhaustion and boredom hits you in the face. At that time, when you’re absolutely sure you just have to stop, is when you need to keep taking those steps. Keep moving forward. It hurts, it’s awful and you can’t do it but you do it anyway. And that’s how you get anything big done. He heard some things on the secure line. Interesting things. And a bit scary things. Bill and Bob had found some mysterious devices around the space center. Some kind of electronics but individually they didn’t have any clear function. Together though they could be combined into some kind of a communications and listening device. He heard about Valentina’s investigations. About the secret base alarmingly close to the space center with prototypes of rockets, a mockup of a command pod and a surveillance tower. He monitored her as she flew across the ocean to chase a lead, only to find an ancient occult site. Lodhat didn’t know what Valentina was looking for, but from the brief discussion with her, she didn’t find it. Someone had been there recently, though, so maybe the trail was still warm. All that detective work down below made him uneasy. Nothing he could do about it up here. --------------------------------------------------------------- I place the relics of Ascension and Judgement in front of me, the Commandments of my Duty. I reach for Ascension and place my hand over it. I meditate until the signs align and the beast wakes up underneath me. It is time. I ride the beast and mutter a prayer as I rise with it to the sky. The teachings are clear to me now, no kerbal is meant to leave the comfort of Kerbin like this. --------------------------------------------------------------- On day 21 of his mission, Advance 3 launched. This time he could see the launch from high above. The rocket looked like a tiny speck of light riding on a huge exhaust trail. Like a pen writing a poem about physics on the blue paper of Kerbin’s skies. Except the ink was a bit runny, of course, as the exhaust spreads quite easily. Being a gas in a gaseous medium and all that. But still very poetic, Lodhat thought. Advance 3 had a new lander aboard. This one was the kind Lodhat was supposed to land on Minmus with. It was a bit smaller in size but also a bit heavier. However it should be easier to fly and land. Sure the weight cut into the delta-V budget a bit but the craft had so much to spare it wasn’t a problem. Lodhat wasn’t sure, but he did suspect the whole craft had been designed with Minmus mission in mind from day one. Agare and Shelgen were aboard again, this time Gusgee was piloting the mission. That’s two Mun missions for them while he was stuck in low orbit for the whole time. Lodhat wondered if they were getting the same routine feeling. They say there’s nothing routine about spaceflight but as far as Lodhat was concerned, sitting in a bucket day after day was pretty much how you define routine. They did their munar injection burn just 60 kilometers from his craft. Lodhat could see the plume from the engines as they accelerated on their journey. It wasn’t a spectacular sight by anymeans, just another bright dot against the dark background, but it was nice to know the dot had people on board. They were actually doing things here. Advance 3 was a mission that would probably become a poster child for all the Mun missions. Everything was smooth. Gusgee brought the lander down in Northwest Crater with no hiccups at all. That was great news for Lodhat, the new lander was sleek and could perform translational movement with ease. They could probably hop around Minmus at least a few times before having to return. Gusgee and Agare completed the usual survey studies and returned safely to the command module just two orbits later. Lodhat monitored their return and was lucky enough to see the shooting star that was their capsule during re-entry. He waved at them when they had their Touchdown Boogie and cheered as he flew over them. A few days later Lodhat was almost surprised to realize his mission was over. The boredom and routine had become normal and now when it was over, all the empty time melted away and all that was left was just a few shining memories of great moments. He returned to his capsule and started to go over the return sequence. After a short burn to lower the orbit he detached the capsule. He was committed to re-entry now. Gene’s steady voice was calling out his trajectory parameters to him. Lodhat couldn’t feel it yet, but the instruments showed him his pod was ever so gently rocking back and forth in the residual atmosphere. --------------------------------------------------------------- The Judgement calls once and I reach for the controls. It calls twice and I arm the Celestial Fist. It calls three times and I release the Fist. I can hear the fury outside and then it is quiet again. I command the beast to turn around and slow down. Soon I release myself from it and fall until Kerbin’s waters embrace me again. I have fulfilled my Duty and I let myself feel happy for a while, just a small moment stolen for myself, before they come and collect me and it’s time for penance. --------------------------------------------------------------- Then something on the radio was not right. Gene told him of an unknown contact crossing his trajectory in less than a minute. The atmosphere started to thicken and he could feel the vibrations now. They couldn’t identify what was happening but Lodhat had no control over his craft and it was too late to abort. Then the one contact was suddenly twenty large contacts and each of those became an expanding cloud of tiny contacts. The plasma started to envelope his pod and he lost the radio signal. First the shaking was normal, the pod vibrated steadily around it’s axis. Then several things happened at once and a second later Lodhat was piecing together the fragmented memories inside his head. He remembered the bright spot of light shining in the pod’s wall and the popping and whistling sound of air escaping. He remembered the sharp crack that shook through the pod just a moment before that. Something must have hit the pod, something the size of a marble. There was the spinning right after that. How his heading marker suddenly jumped dozens of degrees off the retrograde marker. And the nauseating twist inside his guts when the airstream tossed his pod around like a plastic bag in an autumn storm. And there was the thud in his back when something pierced his suit and hit his spine. There was no pain, at least not that he could remember. Maybe it was still coming. Maybe he would remember it later as a snapshot of this moment. But right now it was still peaceful. It was all very confusing and he realized the world was growing loud around him but at the same time it was becoming so very, very quiet. All the alarms were ringing somewhere in the distance. Exactly two minutes and seventeen seconds later the pod’s automation would deploy his parachutes and bring the damaged pod safely to ground. Exactly two days and three hours later Lodhat would wake up in the hospital. Exactly four days and one hour later all his friends would turn up in his room and they would have his Touchdown Boogie. This time there was nobody in the orbit above waving at them, no shooting stars and open skies, just the fluorescent lights. And exactly five days and two hours later the doctors would tell him he would never walk again.
  5. I bet that aerobrake maneuver isn't mentioned in the standard operating manual. Happy to see the Cernin return
  6. OK so it's been a month already. Time flies when there's much to do and no time to play and write :/ I might have also enlisted during Steam summer sale to fly some Sturmoviks in the battle of Stalingrad so that too has taken up some gaming time. Anyway, my sincerest apologies for not updating the story. I haven't forgotten it! The next chapter is almost done though, I'm hoping to get it up tomorrow or the day after. I must say it was also a bit of a pain to write since I had to play like 10-15 hours to get the missions done and fiddle with two separate installs so it was a bit of a mistake on my part to make it overly complicated. I'm definitely going to keep writing in the future, but will probably write more and play less to get the story rolling properly and more frequently. EDIT: Also this seems to be in the fan works now and not mission reports? I don't mind but was just surprised to see it moved.
  7. Oh man, I've been AWOL for a while and only now logged in to realize I've been mentioned here. I'm truly honored and a bit ashamed since I haven't been updating my story in a while I'm gonna go and work on it right now!
  8. It's a nordic thing, here in Finland it's mostly eaten during christmas but not many people like it. I actually had some last christmas and it didn't taste bad at all but the texture was just icky Nordic cuisine can actually be quite good but at times it tastes better than it looks. I'd still take french kitchen over nordic any day. To be fair fish paste is pretty much what store bough tuna sandwiches contain so it's probably not that bad. Bat-paste on the other hand...
  9. Dehydrated fish-paste sounds yucky At least it's not Lutefisk.
  10. Thanks! I haven't actually read any Colfer, but now that you mentioned it I could go see if the local library has them since I've been hankering for some reading. I've been a bit pressed on time lately but more is coming as soon as I have all the elements together
  11. Actually it's inspired by a quote from Fallout 4. It's about happiness in general there but it resonated with me on many levels so I wanted to bring the idea into the story somehow.
  12. I'm really liking this story. I think you have a fresh perspective and like @KSK said, the way your pilots fly the rockets is very kerbalish but convincing at the same time. I might even dare to say it has a tiny bit of a steam punkish attitude to it.
  13. Chapter 3 - Thrust Issues That mission was important in more ways than the general public thinks. Yeah, yeah, first Mun landing, breaking boundaries, exploring new lands, science, and so on, it’s all important obviously. What people don’t really understand is how it changed the way we work, the way we think and how we conduct the missions. The nitty-gritty-ground level stuff. It sounds lame, I know. But that’s where all the real work is done. Engineers always know the operating parameters of the machines they build, but they also need to know what the risks are when you’re outside the safe zone. And outside the safe zone is where the pilots live. They need to know exactly what the machine does so that they can make the judgement call. Neither pilots nor engineers can function if they don’t have enough data and that’s where the science comes in. Science is the canvas which our missions are painted on. You can’t see it, but without it there’s nothing. So as a result we changed our whole training regime after the mission. Previously we hadn’t had the pilots truly involved in the engineering or science or vice versa. Unfortunately this meant that Bob and I had to start teaching poor Jeb some calculus. -Bill Kerman, in the book The Founders by Melvin Kerman Advance One Bill sat in the capsule and didn’t really pay attention to radio chatter between Jeb and MC as they were going through the checklists. He was going through a mental checklist of his own. The previous weeks had been crazy and difficult, more difficult that he’d imagined. They had designed so much in so little time. The lander, the spacecraft and of course the enormous rocket, Nova, to lift the whole 52 tons of mission equipment to orbit. The rocket was too big. Or the engines too small, which was the way Bill preferred to think about it. All those arguments with the finance people still kept bouncing around in his head. For being so savvy about numbers they really had a hard time understanding the rocket equation. Divide the payload in two and you can get away with two super expensive first stage rockets but you also need two launched. Put it all in one rocket and you suddenly need five engines. But if they had a more powerful engine, you’d again need only one and a lot less fuel. This made the finance people roll their eyes. They just didn’t get it. They had thrust issues. Bill wasn’t worried though. Not anymore. Everything was ready, simulated, checked, simulated again and then checked some more. No need to worry now, his job was pretty much done. That’s how engineers roll. Spend countless of hours before anything really happens, worrying sick and tearing your hair out in frustration. Then just sit back and watch other people start sweating and worrying when they're using your design. It’s not like he could even do anything anymore if something went wrong. When the countdown hit zero, Nova launch vehicle, their greatest engineering achievement so far, lifted off the pad. It was rising slowly, almost hovering above the pad, before starting to gain speed. Bill closed his eyes and let the sounds and the gently increasing acceleration carry him upwards. “And second stage engine cutoff. Orbit stable at one twenty two by one twenty. Nice work with the rocket, guys!” Jeb said. The crew unbuckled their seatbelts. Bill and Bob started going through their own checklists while Jeb prepared the spacecraft for Kerbin departure configuration. “Undocking second stage,” Jeb said on the radio. A tiny bump complemented his words and confirmed that the craft had separated. “We have cleared the lander, starting pitch and alignment maneuvers.” Fast response valves rattled somewhere behind them as the RCS thrusters pulsed and sent the craft in a slow spin around its center of mass. “Target in crosshairs, closing in at zero point five, distance five meters. Two meters, speed zero point two, offset two degrees, correcting. One meter, offset zero. Contact. Engaging hard lock. Decoupling engine shroud. Decoupling lander from second stage. All systems green. MC, we’re docked.” After receiving confirmation from ground, Jeb took off his headset and closed his personal radio loop. “How about that docking, guys? Never been so stressed while flying so darn slow!” “Good job, Jeb,” Bob said. “MC confirmed numbers on our insertion burn. Node is up in ten minutes.” “I can’t believe we’re really doing this,” Bill said quietly. “I know, right,” Jeb said. “Wasn’t that silly idea after all.” “Nope,” Bob confirmed. “But we’re not standing on the Mun just yet so we’ll have to wait before popping that beer open.” “I can’t believe you guys managed to stash those in the lander. Gene would be furious,” Bill laughed. “Don’t worry, we’ll bring you one back from the lander when we EVA over. A smuggled non-alcoholic beer for the loneliest kerbal in history. How sad is that?” Jeb said. “I hope this part doesn’t go in any historical annals,” Bob said. “In fact we should probably toss the bottles out the airlock once we have a return trajectory from the Mun.” “Or just leave them in orbit. Someone someday would get a great laugh when they find them,” Bill grinned. Message from Mission Control interrupted their banter and still smiling Jebediah put his headset back on, flipped the microphone to position and started to prepare for the upcoming burn which would send them to the Mun. After a five hour flight they were closing in on the invisible but important boundary which would transfer them from Kerbin’s gravitational influence to Mun’s sphere of influence. For Bob that meant work in the form of an EVA to inspect the science package on the lander and perform some important measurements high above the Mun. He floated by the service bay and signaled Jeb to open it remotely. Bob turned on the headlamp and peered in the bay. Everything seemed to be functioning and the readings on all instruments were being recorded correctly. Some extra background noise in one of the enzyme activity sensors on the goo. The value on kinases seemed to be pretty high, though. Bob ran a calibration series on it and confirmed the coefficient of variation to be still under ten percent in the dynamic zone. Nothing wrong with the instrument then, but they should try to widen the range. Suddenly Jeb started shouting on the radio. “Congraaaatulations, record breaker!” “The what and the where now?” Bob asked, looking around inside his space suit and immediately realizing there probably wasn’t anyone hiding behind him. “First kerbal to float freely over the Mun, my dear fellow. We just got official confirmation on telemetry that we’re completely under Mun’s gravity now,” Bill joined in. “Oh, that’s nice,” Bob said. “If you have MC on the radio, can you inform Linus the beta package on the goo needs to have a wider dynamic range, please. Or maybe a few microchannels with separate dilutions. Thanks.” “Bill, why do we let him do this if he’s not even gonna gloat about it,” Jeb said, intentionally keeping the radio still on so Bob could hear him talking. “Very funny, Jeb. I’m coming back in.” An hour and one orbital circularization burn later Bob was back outside, this time with Jeb as they both transferred to the lander. The docking port was only able to transfer resources and data between the command pod and the lander. Future designs would allow crew to transfer through but for now it was considered unnecessary since EVA activities had been confirmed several times to be a safe way to move between spacecrafts. After turning on all the lander’s systems, Jeb undocked it from the command pod, leaving Bill to orbit alone. Meanwhile Bob was rummaging around the containers. “Jeb, is your radio loop off?” Bob asked “Yes, why?” “We’re in trouble.” “What?” Jeb asked and looked back from this seat. “The beer. It’s gone.” “No way! They must have found it.” “Yeah and not say anything until the mission is over. Standard procedure. Heck, we were the ones to decide not to tell the crew anything that’s not mission critical,” Bob said. “Well this is mission critical,” Jeb muttered. “But how can it be?” Bob asked. “I was the one who sealed off the lander and signed it. And it’s not just the beer! The whole box is missing. The one with emergency repair tools. Sure they could’ve found the beer and removed the box but it would be a serious breach of protocol if someone went inside after sealing and took away our equipment.” “Good point. I guess we’ll have to find out once we’re back home. No way I’m gonna start THAT discussion over the radio when we’re about to do some serious history.” “Right. There’s probably an explanation, but this sort of thing shouldn’t have happened. Just focus on the landing,” Bob said and took his seat. Jeb directed the lander towards their landing site inside one of the biggest craters. Under Jebediah’s guidance the lander fired it’s engine in a long burst, cutting the horizontal velocity above their landing site. Jeb straightened the lander to a vertical orientation and flipped a switch to turn on the flight computer. He frowned and flipped it back off and then on again. “Bob,” Jeb said. His voice had suddenly gone from the usual relaxed tone into pure stainless steel. “The computer’s not responding.” “I see it.” “Mission Control, flight computer is not responding. Soft reset not responding. We’re trying a hard reset now,” Jeb said on the radio. “Copy that, Advance Lander, we confirm no signal from the computer,” Gene was on duty again. He wouldn’t let anyone else handle the first Mun landing. “No go on hard reset,” Bob said. “I’m opening the main computer panel now.” “Smoke! I smell smoke!” Jeb shouted both to the radio and to Bob. He got out of his seat and started heading to the emergency station. Bob pulled out a panel covering the computer systems and tossed it aside. It flew across the cramped cabin, bounced from the wall and flew back, hitting Bob in the back of his leg. “Ouch! There’s no fire. Repeat, there’s no fire. I can confirm smoke but it’s just a fried circuit board,” Bob said, panting slightly from the pain and panic. Jeb had a fire extinguisher already pulled out and he seemed reluctant to put it back until he was sure there was no danger. In the back of his mind he was keeping track of their altitude. They were in freefall and on their way to the surface. He started making his way back to the pilot’s chair. “Hold on,” Bob continued. “I can reroute the altitude radar and fuel gauges but that’s all we’ve got.” “MC, this is Advance Lander,” Jeb said. “Here’s the situation. We have no flight computer, but all analog systems are still functioning. We can still land.” “Jeb. Bob,” Gene said, “it’s your call. But be advised that we have no telemetry feed and the deep space radar isn’t designed for flight guidance on the go. So if you go, you’re on your own. Do you understand?” “I understand,” Jeb said. “Pilot is go for landing.” “I understand too,” Bob confirmed. “Science is go for landing.” “Copy that, Advance Lander, you’re go for landing. Good luck.” Even through the radio it was possible to hear Gene trying to hold his voice steady and bite back the urge to pull the plug on the mission. Jebediah fired the engines again and killed most of the lander’s velocity. It wasn’t as fuel efficient as he’d liked, but they had the reserves to do it and it was safer that way. He kept firing the engine in bursts to keep the lander’s speed low nice and low. Once he saw the lander’s shadow drawn on the munscape, Jeb let the engine run on low thrust, just enough to keep their speed constant. He carefully adjusted with RCS and about one meter above the surface he killed the engine and let the lander glide down. “Touchdown!” The two kerbals suited up and depressurized the lander. Jebediah was the first to set foot on the Mun, soon followed by Bob. They hadn’t prepared any momentous quotes to say. The general public didn’t even know they were here. Certain important kerbals were following, of course, but there was no need to impress them with pleasantries. Simply doing the work they were doing here was more than enough. However for both kerbals this was one of those moments in life which take time to grow before you start to fully realize how significant it was. One of those moments, when you’re too busy and caught up in the moment to feel anything, when all the things you need to worry about are more important than where you are. One of those moments, which you look back on much later and feel all the emotions, all the awesomeness and all the greatness that was in that moment and maybe with a bit of regret you wonder why you didn’t feel this way when you were actually there. “Jetpack seems to be the best way to move around,” Bob reported back to Mission Control. He was flying towards Jeb who was already examining a fairly standard crater near the landing site. “Yeah, the surface seems to be easy enough to traverse when it’s level, but this crater wall seems to be quite steep. Relying only on ground transportation would severely limit our operating capabilities here,” Jeb replied. Bob landed gently just a few meters from Jeb. “I’m taking a sample from the rim of the crater now.” “Stay here, Jeb, I’m going to check out if that rock over there is as interesting as it looks. I might want to sample that, too,” Bob said but he lifted his hand to get Jeb’s attention. Bob kneeled on the ground and started writing in the dust with his finger. Bill had orbited the Mun alone three times when the lander lifted off and rendezvoused with the command pod. They didn’t have to perform any docking maneuvers, Bob and Jeb simply powered down the lander, took the few samples with them and EVA’d over back to the pod. One orbit later they had settled in and received the maneuver node which would send them back to Kerbin. “Hold on, MC,” Jeb said while going through the checklist. “I get nothing from the decoupler. No green but no red either.” “We confirm, Jeb. Nothing on our end either. Bill, we need you to check the wire connections while Jeb goes through rest of the checklist,” Gene said. A few minutes later Bill opened the comms. “Nothing wrong with the wiring, MC. Requesting permission to go EVA and inspect the decoupler. We’ll have to postpone the escape burn by one orbit but I don’t think we can do it anyway if we don’t have a working decoupler.” “We agree, Bill. You’re clear for EVA.” Jeb and Bob waited with anxiety for Bill to suit up and listened to him go through the long checklist when inspecting the decoupler. Working with explosive bolts in a cumbersome EVA suit was best done with extreme caution. “I’m opening bolt B seven now and sliding the panel open. Hold on. What in the… MC we have a problem. There’s no signal from the decoupler bolts because there are no decoupler bolts.” Bill was breathing heavily now. They had no way to detach the command pod from the rest of the rocket. “Um… Can you repeat that, Advance One, did you say there are no explosive decoupler bolts at all?” Gene asked. “That’s right, MC. Instead of decoupler bolts there’s just standard steel bolts used when the decoupler is being installed. These should be removed and replaced with explosive ones in the last phases of construction. It’s a safety issue,” Bill explained. “Someone’s head will roll for this,” Gene said. “Get back inside Bill, we’ll try to figure this out.” “Actually I might have a solution already,” Bill said. “If I cut out these bolts one by one now and replace them with quick release bolts, we can do the escape burn and I’ll just pop out for a quick EVA about an hour before we enter the atmosphere and detach the capsule manually.” Gene was silent for a while, listening to his advisors. “OK, that should work. Bob, take the toolkit and go on EVA to help Bill.” “Roger,” Bob said. “OK you’ve got to be kidding me. Bill, you haven’t moved the toolkit someplace else, have you? Cause it’s not here.” “What? No, it should be in the engineering station.” “Well it’s not.” “What’s going on here? OK, the lander is still there. I’ll jetpack over and go grab the emergency toolkit. It should be enough.” “About that. It’s missing too,” Bob said. “Along with the beer.” “What beer?” Gene interrupted. “Did you smuggle BEER in the lander?” “Gene, focus!” Jeb cut in. “No decoupler. Aerodynamic stress on reentry. Fiery death. Explosions in the sky and roasted kerbals. Termination of our activities. Solution now, shouting later!” “Actually I have an idea,” Bob said. “But it’s risky and it’s crazy but in theory it should work. We could do a couple of shallow reentries with the engine facing forward. It should be able to take the heat, right?” “Yeah, it should. As long as we can keep the craft oriented that way. It will want to turn but if you fly it tight, it should stay like that. We can still pop the heat shield off and the rocket with it so landing with parachutes is not an issue as long as we don’t burn to death,” Bill said. “Right, let’s do a very shallow one first to test it out and then dip in more on following orbits. We still have lots of fuel so we’re tail heavy anyway,” Jeb pitched in. “Just remember, Bob, this was your idea. If it doesn’t work, I’m never buying you a beer again.” Much to the surprise of everyone, the craft held it’s orientation easily with Jeb keeping it steady in the airstream. After three passes they had bleeded most of their speed and were preparing for the final reentry. They lowered the periapsis down to 20 kilometers. When the craft hit the thicker part of the atmosphere, the engine started to overheat. They still had almost one km/s of dV left and Jeb fired the engine. It wasn’t designed for atmospheric use and the deeper they fell, the less power they got from it. But everything counted. Engine was at the limit, with overheat warnings beeping on the instrument board and showing a 95 % overload. Until it started to drop as they reached 15 kilometers and their speed dropped to mach 3. As the last drops of fuel were drained, the craft couldn’t hold it’s orientation anymore and flipped sideways. Parachute indicators changed from red to yellow to green. Jeb deployed the parachutes which sent the whole rocket swinging in the air like some kind of a high tech children’s toy. “You know guys,” Jeb said after checking the airspeed gauge. “I think we should keep the rocket. Mortimer will be happy to hear we’re taking this whole reusability issue seriously.” Moments later the rocket hit the ground, falling over like a giant tree with only the engine nozzle sustaining some damage from the landing. The crew climbed out to breathe the midnight air and listen the overheated rocket popping and creaking after it had first swollen from absorbing heat and energy and was now releasing it and returning back to it’s proper form. “So,” Jeb started cautiously, “now that we’re not being watched... Who do you think just tried to kill us?”
  14. Hehe, I was actually going to quote that exact same line and say pretty much same thing about Bartdon I like how the Bartdon's rambling is so different from Camwise's and they both have their own, strong voices. To be honest I'm maybe even liking Bartdon more than Camwise. Or well, at least I'd like to see how he manages if when something goes utterly wrong.
  15. Thank you everyone for the encouraging words