UnusualAttitude

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Posts posted by UnusualAttitude


  1. 5 hours ago, Alpha 360 said:

    To start a new "sub-topic" on this thread, do people prefer to use one or more of the original 4 as their main character(s)? Or do they start over and pick the coolest name in the astronaut complex hiring list and use them as their main character?

    The latter.

    "The Bill Logs" and "The Bob Papers" just would not have cut it.


  2. 11 hours ago, NotAgain said:

    Question: Where would I get the landing legs for Escamps?

    Oh... uh... that looks like mid Jurassic.

    That must have been AIES Project part pack. I'm afraid it kicked the oxygen habit and is currently examining the radishes. It's dead, Jim.

    Damn shame, it had some great parts for probes and satellites.


  3. After serving for a full year as a resource miner on one of the near Earth asteroids, Engineer Camwise went rogue and stole (most of) Trans Pacific's lunar station from distant retrograde orbit: The Board's investigators are struggling to decide whether this was an act of sabotage, or one of space piracy.

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    After discarding unneeded modules by flinging them at the Moon's surface, Camwise returned to asteroid Y13-HO3 to recover additional hardware.

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    Thus, the Improvised Interplanetary Mothership L'Enfant Sauvage was born.

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    It includes a powerful nuclear reactor, an ELF thruster, asteroid mining capability, and a Ganymede-capable lander. Locked and loaded for Jupiter's moon Dia for refueling, before heading inwards to the Galilean moons...


  4. 3 hours ago, insert_name said:

    Im curious as to how dia looks, especially considering there are no images of it as anything other than a point source. Though to be fair most  of jupiter's minor moons are that way

    The plan at the moment is to simply use the biggest asteroid I can spawn and hyperedit it into the correct orbit. I might look into creating a custom body if I have the time/ability (which I probably won't, see below), but Dia is supposed to be only 2-4 km in diameter, and if I understand correctly, very tiny worlds can be pretty buggy in KSP. 

    The choice of Dia is intentional: very low gravity, lots of water ice. It will merely be a gas station for bigger and better destinations further inwards...

    3 hours ago, Starman4308 said:

    Camwise's diet is not going to be pleasant, is it? Even well-preserved foods don't taste good forever...

    I once dug up a jar of Marmite that had been sitting in a cardboard box in my garage and was several years past the expiration date. Marmite is difficult to find or expensive in France, so I cracked it open and ate it anyway. It tasted fine. Some foods are immortal. If Camwise returns, he might appreciate some fresh fruit or a good rare steak or two, though.

    3 hours ago, Starman4308 said:

    One very lucky, very miserable Kerbal.

    That sums up Camwise very well.

    1 hour ago, Geschosskopf said:

    Sounds like a fair fight :wink:

    "Camwise doesn't cheat death, he wins fair and square."

    "Camwise beat the sun in a staring contest."

    "Death once had a near-Camwise experience."

    I could go on... :lol:

    1 hour ago, Geschosskopf said:

    I'm still wondering where Crazy Lady ran off to, and whether any of the Mars crew has been in hiding.

    Now that we have at last sent Camwise on his way, we will find out. However...

    Tomorrow  I'm buying a house. It's on the edge of a small village out in the countryside. It has huge potential but there's a ton of work to be done to bash it in to shape. I'll be quite busy with that over the next few weeks and months. Patience will be required.

    This will be my first purchase of real estate. I'm 37. My thoughts are with all my fellow Gen-Xers and Millennials who haven't made it onto the property ladder yet due to low wages, low interest rates and banks not wanting to take the risk. Give them hell, keep pestering them and they will cave in eventually.


  5. YEAR 16, DAY 260. CAMWISE.

    I could delay no longer. My rendez-vous with the asteroid was drawing near. I had to set up that nuke.

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    More than eight months through the transfer to Y13-HO3, the remains of Station LDRO and I were drifting outside Earth's path around Sol, waiting for our target to swing in sunwards and catch us up. It had been a painfully slow process, and each day I had cursed my bad luck with the dance of orbital mechanics. Such a long journey for such a nearby target!

    Week after frustrating week had slipped through my grasp, and the feasibility of my plans were as uncertain as ever. Still, there was nothing I could do except be patient, consider my options, and try not to screw up when the time came to make the tough decisions I would inevitably face.

    The ballet of the heavens would continue as ever with a disregard for any of my projects that was both perfect and absolute.

    As the RLL came to life and I strapped into the pilot's seat, I could see both Earth and Luna clearly, just five million kilometres sunward. Despite our recent breakup, Earth looked as breathtakingly beautiful as ever.

    Make the most of the view, Cam. If all goes well, it won't last.

    Concentrate, you idiot! You're about to do something difficult.

    I flicked a couple of switches and there was a jolt as RLL undocked and backed away from the station's main node. My fingers fumbled with the attitude control systems, and I somehow managed to keep her straight, translate to one side of the station, and then inch alongside its structure aft-wards.

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    Hey, you might get the hang of this, eventually...

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    I made it round the corner, passing one of the LH2 tanks and brought the RLL to a halt alongside one of the rearwards-facing docking ports. The bulky craft swayed back and forth for a few moments as I sought to kill its velocity relative to LDRO entirely. Once this was done, I rotated the craft slowly in order to position the equipment rack as close as possible to where I would be working.

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    Any slight drift would make my next job impossible, if I was lucky. With no pilot onboard the lander to keep station, if I was unlucky I would be crushed against the uncaring truss of a massive tank of liquid hydrogen.

    A hammer and anvil situation that would come as a most embarrassing and disappointing end to my adventure.

    I snapped my helmet shut and crawled into the tiny airlock. As it cycled, I turned my head mechanically to suck on the little tube that allowed me to drink during EVA; an old pre-space ritual of mine that had become instinct. Cursing my own lack of focus, I realised that I had forgotten to refill my suit's drink bag.

    Hell, I was in for a long night.

    I'd performed EVAs before. More than I could possibly remember, in fact. Suiting up and stepping out into places where my fragile and squishy body had never meant to be taken was now second nature. Many of these spacewalks had been untethered.

    Come to think of it, I reckon I stopped having nightmares about helplessly drifting off into the void a few hundred EVAs back.

    But tonight was a first. An untethered spacewalk from a craft that was designed to be crewed (but wasn't), parked alongside a station that was supposed to be crewed (but also wasn't). My goal was to extract a nuclear reactor weighing 300kg from the RLL and fit it to the station's docking port along with its radiators and a couple of heavy cryocooler units. On my own.

    Of course, neither the reactor or the docking port had been designed for such a hack. I wouldn't be asking them for their opinion on the arrangement, anyway. I just hoped that when I drilled into the docking port to attach the reactor's mount, I wouldn't go right through into the fuel tank itself. If I did, things would get messy pretty quick.

    Then there was also the small matter of switching on the nuke and it not delivering a fatal dose of radiation to the crew quarters at the far end of the ship. One thing at a time, Cam.

    The airlock cycle ended and I slipped into space.

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    As I rummaged through the RLL's equipment rack for the bolts that would hold the mount in place, I realised that the lander was already drifting away from the station. It was slow enough to be almost imperceptible, but sure enough minute by minute the distance between the container and the docking port increased. At this rate, I would have to go back onboard the RLL and reposition it every half an hour or so.

    Hell, I was in for a really long night...

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    YEAR 16, DAY 290. CAMWISE.

    I made it.

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    Matching orbits with Y13-HO3 had taken me more than two weeks.

    Burn, refill tanks, check radiation levels, correct course, burn again.

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    More than three kilometres per second to kill relative to the target. With the additional power provided by the little reactor, I could crack water and fill the lander's hydrolox tanks in just over three exhausting days of non-stop electrolyser-nursing.

    But unlike Prosperity and her ability to glide effortlessly from one Near-Earth Object to another using electrical propulsion, my pile of hand-me-down space junk was subject to the limits of chemistry. Each burn gave me just over five hundred metres per second initially. As I left reaction mass behind, this increased to more than seven hundred for the final push. All the while Y13-HO3 was streaking up widdershins towards aphelion.

    If any element of my hacked conversion system had failed during that time, the asteroid would have slipped past into deep space leaving me with nothing else to do except contemplate why my life sucked so much.

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    Miraculously, all systems remained nominal, and at long last Y13-HO3 loomed out of the darkness astern in exactly the same orbit I had left it in the previous year.

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    I approached the rock from beneath its South pole, using the station's attitude thrusters to steer well clear. When I peered at the mining unit from afar using the station's small telescope, I couldn't spot the red warning light that was supposed to blink when the massive reactor was still active, but I didn't intend to take any risks.

    The modules we had left on the surface all appeared to be present: as well as the mining unit, L'Orphelin du Vide was still attached to the access hatch of the burrow we had dug, and the antenna mast looked like it was intact. The same old motley collection of modules still clung to the surface. Not for the first time, I wondered whether it was actually possible to design an asteroid station that looked a bit less like a haphazard shanty town that had been abandoned by its inhabitants for decades.

    I parked my ship beneath the asteroid and prepared to spacewalk over to make sure that no-one was home. Not that I expected anyone to be around.

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    I left LDRO and jetted subjectively straight upwards. When I drew close to the rock I hugged its surface closely, making sure I was shaded from the reactor.

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    I floated over one last ridge, and there it was, my former home.

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    But first things first: I needed to go pull the plug on coms. There was no need for panic: even if the proximity warning system had alerted Mission Control to my presence, there wasn't much they could do about it. The subtle modifications I had made to the override chip of the master control panel before I'd left would see to that. But I would feel better if I knew that they weren't looking over my shoulder while I worked. Besides, I'd be taking the dish and its amplifier with me.

    I reached the main antenna situated just over the next ridge. Grasping the power line that connected it to the crew quarters' distributor, I wrenched it out.

    It's just you and me now, Y13-HO3...

    I then made my way back to L'Orphelin and entered the burrow via the airlock. I needed to check out the status of the reactor before I got to work.

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    All was dark inside the tiny space beyond the outer hatch. We'd left the entire station depressurised when we'd left, so there was no need to wait for the airlock to cycle before opening the inner door. I fumbled for the lights, discovered that they no longer worked, and pushed off into the short tunnel that lead to the main crew quarters, the light from my suit's headlamps bouncing off the smooth walls.

    Beyond lay a black hole that was the source of so many bad memories. I shrugged them off: I wouldn't be staying long. A quick glance at the main console confirmed what I had expected: the reactor had been shut down for some time and was therefore cool and ready to move. Oh, and the two water tanks were full to the brim. One hundred and eighty tonnes of pure, freshly squeezed asteroid juice for my ELF thruster. My guardian angel was still watching over me.

    I was now officially the proud owner more delta-vee than any other Kerbal in history. But where I was going, I would need every last metre per second of it.

    Now, if you will excuse me, I have work to do, and a transfer window to catch.

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    Spoiler

     

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    YEAR 16, DAY 293. CAMWISE.

    Done.

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    I floated in the crew module of the spacecraft formerly known as Station LDRO. The cockpit of the RLL lander had become far too cluttered so I had decided to move all the control panels over to the main hab, despite the slightly higher radiation levels that reigned there with the reactor running.

    I hadn't slept in more than three days. My brain was fuzzy. My gestures were slow and awkward as I selected my new target from the pull-down menu of the auto-navigation system. A tiny, icy moon called Dia that would hopefully allow me to refuel before I ran out of water to shield me from the neutron radiation streaming from the far end of my ship.

    An 11.5 km/sec burn that would get me to my target in one year and five months. Slowdown would be just under 10 km/sec. I stared at the console in a complete lack of surprise. This is what you get when you improvise a transfer to one of the outer planets. Well, it could be worse, I suppose.

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    Just one more matter needed to be settled. A name for this pile of junk that I had cobbled together. A suitable handle for the ship I had created from the various modules I had found kicking around far beyond the suburbs of the Earth-Moon system.

    As I racked my brain, I passed out for a few moments. The snooze alarm I had set to go off every five minutes blared through the crew quarters and dragged me painfully back to reality once more. OK, OK... Crunching yet another caffeine pill and tossing the empty bottle into the trash can, I came to a swift conclusion.

    L'Enfant Sauvage. The Child of the Wilderness. The ship that should not have been. A spacecraft born and bred in the outback of the inner Sol system, untamed and free to roam the skies as she wished. And an ugly pile of crap, come to think of it.

    I had told them to head for Saturn. The chances were remote, but I hoped that if anyone back on Earth now had the power to act upon this, they would heed my advice. There were plenty of places out there where the Crew of Colonisation Mission Seven could be hiding.

    My path would be a darker one, but a glimmer of hope drew me on into the shadows.

    I needed to find one of the Crew's officers or commanders. I needed to speak face to face (or with whatever components these robots had in place of faces) without the full weight of my planet and its population on my shoulders, or the Board of Directors breathing down my neck. I needed to explain the dreadful plight of my people.

    Surely any species that was sufficiently advanced to have made it across the gulf between the stars would understand that there could be no mutually beneficial relationship between us in the present state of affairs.

    Ninety-nine percent of the population of Earth wouldn't even care that the greatest event in history – the discovery of intelligent alien life – had just taken place, because they would be too busy just trying to pay their bills and survive. The remaining one percent would try to sell the Crew a full tank of fuel at triple the fair price, steal from them whatever technology they could, and send our alien visitors on their way as quickly as possible in case their presence disrupted the system that was so comfortable for them.

    There had to be a paradigm shift, or this couldn't end well. Maybe, just maybe, the technology available to the Crew could help the Kerbals of Earth free themselves from the tyranny of the Resource Companies. Maybe we could help each other.

    As I brooded, the ELF thruster kicked in and started the long, slow burn that would push L'Enfant Sauvage out of the inner Sol system, maybe for good. The asymmetric mass distribution of my botched design meant that the ship's arcjet attitude thrusters strained to hold her on course, even with the main engine running at reduced power. Nevertheless, they held the craft to her manoeuvre node. Barely. I would have to process more liquid hydrogen for the arcjets as soon as possible.

    The effects of the caffeine pill began to wear off, and I slumped against the console, too tired to think anymore.

    I'd be up against deadly radiation, massive delta-vee requirements and completely unknown mission parameters.

    I brought a complete joke of an interplanetary ship to the fight, as well as nineteen years worth of food and my own two hands.

    “C'mon, Big J. Bring it on!” I whispered to myself before finally passing out for good.

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    L'Enfant Sauvage fled on into the night.


     


     


  6. 5 hours ago, Geschosskopf said:

    Heheh, I can't help but think of Kipling's "The Gods of the Copybook Headings" whenever I see the words "social progress". 

    That's a rather, um... conservative worldview. Bartdon would be impressed. I think Camwise, however, would side with another famous author from the time on this one.

    "Moreover, anyone who starts out with a pessimistic, reactionary view of life tends to be justified by events, for Utopia never arrives and 'the gods of the copybook headings', as Kipling himself put it, always return." (George Orwell).

    PS: both Camwise and Bartdon have been to the Moon, and can personally confirm that it is not made of Stilton, or Dutch. :D


  7. 17 hours ago, insert_name said:

    I feel sorry for Froemone, everything he builds seems to get slammed into a planet or moon and destroyed.

    Yeah. Froemone spends literally years behind the drawing board. Camwise and Bartdon get to crash-test his stuff. That's the deal so far.

    Although I will add that statistically, Froemone has a better chance of making it to the end of this story alive and well. :D


  8. 14 hours ago, Greatness101 said:

    After watching The Martian for the second time I realized something:

    Hmmm... we might be on to something here... What if Camwise only used pirate speak until the end of part five...?

    “Aaaaar! I'm plunderin' this 'ere space frigate, Special Bilge Rat. Be ye blind? I say ye all find something to anchor yerselves to right now, savvy?”

    “Here's th' deal, Samrod. I be sailin' westwards and I will continue t' do so until th' perilune o' this ship drops 'neath th' Lunar waves, we'll keel-haul ye, to be sure! If me calculations be correct t'will strike a ridge betwixt Mare Nubium and Mare Humorum at five-thousand two 'undred knots. I'll welcome yer company if ye want t' come along fer th' voyage, but I do suggest ye weigh anchor if ye don' want' visit Davey Jones Locker, ye Earthlubber!"

    15 hours ago, Geschosskopf said:

    L'étandard sanglant est levé!  Aux armes, citoyens! 

    (crickets)

    Damn....  Well, it was a good try, Cam.

    I think I've (mis)quoted this before, but here it is again:

    "Des kerbals poussaient, une armée verte, vengeresse, qui germait lentement dans les sillons, grandissant pour les récoltes du siècle futur, et dont la germination allait faire bientôt éclater la terre."

    It's the final paragraph of Emile Zola's Germinal. In the original quote, I assume that he meant that social progress is a long, slow process, but an inevitable one. Patience, cricket. The seeds have been planted.


  9. YEAR 15, DAY 339. CAMWISE.

    You know that feeling you get when you're trying to get a good night's sleep but you are the sole occupant of a spacecraft on a suborbital trajectory around a body with no atmosphere..?

    ...Yeah, I thought not. (Hint: it's awful, and you don't get any sleep whatsoever).

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    After the initial excitement of stealing more than half of Trans Pacific's total space assets and flinging them towards what looked like certain doom, there was the small matter of dropping from a fifty thousand kilometre retrograde orbit to Lunar datum. This dizzying plunge took more than two days to play out, and I'll be damned if I managed to snooze fitfully for more than half an hour during the whole process.

    Maybe this was for the better: I had work to do.

    The initial burn that had put Station LDRO on a Moon-grazing trajectory had used almost all of the hydrolox fuel in the lander's tanks. Twenty-five tonnes of liquid hydrogen and oxygen expended for a measly three hundred metres per second of delta-vee, plus small change.

    My first priority was therefore to make more fuel.

    I had vast quantities of water to crack sloshing around in the station's tanks, and I had already calculated that I had more than enough to get where I wanted to go. I soon realised that the amount of water I had wouldn't be the problem.

    The problem would be converting it into rocket fuel fast enough.

    As soon as I'd cut the throttle and shutdown the RLL's main engine, I made my way back over to the main crew module of the station to check out LDRO's own system. It consisted of a single electrolysing cell to split the water into hydrogen and oxygen, and a single cryocooler unit that would then chill these elements into their liquid state and pump them into the RLL's tanks.

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    Samrod's engineer Orrick had very thoughtfully tested them for me the previous day, so I knew for a fact that they were fully operational.

    The whole system was controlled from a small console attached to one wall of the crew module. I flipped a few switches, waited for the system to power up.

    I frowned at the console anxiously and made a few quick calculations.

    Nine days to fill the tanks completely once they were dry. Nine days! This wasn't an immediate problem, but I planned to perform some much longer burns further down the line. If I could only produce enough fuel for a couple of minutes of thrust per day, I was in serious trouble.

    I glared at the console angrily.

    Looking at the figures, I identified the two bottlenecks in the process: the slow pace of electrolysis, and lack of power. I slouched back against a bulkhead, scratching my head for a while, then I put my helmet back on and made my way back over to the RLL.

    Rummaging through the lander's equipment racks, I soon found what I was looking for. Froemone had provided the RLL's with not just one, but two electrolysers. Not for the first time, I breathed a sigh of relief and silently thanked my old friend for his almost fanatical commitment to safety and redundancy. I then proceeded to mount the two units on one of the RLL's trusses, before returning to the station to route them into the system.

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    With everything working again, hydrogen and oxygen production increased threefold initially, until the station's batteries ran out of juice, and the electrolysers tripped out automatically to avoid the life support systems going dead. The station's solar arrays simply couldn't cope with all three running at once. I was faced with a choice between making fuel quickly and being able to breathe.

    I ignored the console disdainfully, just to show it how disappointed I was with it.

    My thoughts turned to the small nuclear reactor that I had inspected, still nestling in storage in the lander. It was designed to be set up on the surface of a planetary body, at least a hundred metres away from the craft itself. Shielding would be provided by a few cubic metres of regolith, either by digging an artificial mound, or by using the natural shape of the terrain to put some solid ground between the source of radiation and the craft's occupants.

    Unfortunately, I had no regolith with which to shield the station's crew modules. I would just have to find some other way to protect my fragile DNA from the reactor's ionising wrath.

    Well, we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.

    I also made the decision to camp out inside the RLL until further notice, figuring that I preferred to be close to the throttle of the only main engine I had left. I therefore had to rig up a remote command station for the station's resource conversion system so that I could monitor it from the lander's cockpit.

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    The RLL was comfortable enough for just one Kerbal anyway, as it had been designed for a crew of three on month-long missions, and could seat six at a pinch for shorter durations. Its lower crew quarters, surrounded by chunky toroidal water tanks, also provided the best protection from solar and cosmic radiation of any area of the ship. Now that I could no longer rely on advanced warning of solar activity, it would be better for me to sleep down here rather than relying on my dosimeter to wake me.

    Choosing one of the bunks randomly, I stripped off my suit and lay back, trying to get some rest. I knew that another long day awaited me: I still had to strip Prosperity of everything that might possibly of use to me, food in particular. They would be no resupply missions where I was going.

    My thoughts turned to Earth and I found myself wondering what was going through the minds of my friends back there.

    Would Froemone have guessed the true identity of Kerski the rogue asteroid miner yet? Would the Board be tracking Station LDRO with every single radio and infrared telescope that was available to them? Probably. This was my greatest concern, since the rest of my plan relied on everyone involved being absolutely convinced, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I was about to dash the Station – myself included – into the Moon.

    Sleep did not come, so in the end I gave up and began hunting through the crew module's lockers for a pencil and paper. After several drawers full off dehydrated food and first aid supplies, I eventually found what I was looking for, and I began to write.

    Hours later, my watch beeped softly, letting me know that just 24 hours remained until Lunar impact. I rubbed my eyes, exhausted, and read back through what I had written with satisfaction.

    I was ready to become immortal.

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    YEAR 15, DAY 340. CAMWISE.

    Seen from Earth, the Moon would be gibbous waning.

    When my watch ticked down to zero, marking the precise moment at which perilune would occur, Luna would be casting her cold light across the west coast of America, as well as most of Africa and Europe. I hoped that the weather would be kind to my audience, and that Earth's clouds would not obscure what was about to play out. If I was to die, I wanted lots and lots of witnesses.

    My watch beeped again. Half an hour until impact.

    It was time.

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    Station LDRO was about to sweep across the Lunar disc. Once it did, it would become completely invisible to any telescope attempting to track it in the visible spectrum, concealed by the glare of our natural satellite.

    As the station plunged towards the surface from its highly elliptical orbit, backscatter from the Moon's surface would also hinder any attempt to see the station with radio waves. In theory, at least.

    However, the impact of a one hundred tonne structure travelling at hypersonic velocity would be clearly visible to anyone who happened to glance at the Moon at the right moment, even with the naked eye.

    Firing the attitude thrusters, I reorientated the station and opened the main antenna for one last transmission towards Earth. I cranked it up to full power, hoping that the rumours of my defection had spread across the globe already. Remote research stations, independent prospecting companies, isolated settlements... all of these had antennae that could conceivably listen in on the message I was about to transmit. And I counted on it falling into as many ears as possible.

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    I held the notes I had prepared in one trembling hand, and flicked the microphone open nervously with the other.

    “Fellow Kerbals...” I began. For a moment, I hesitated as I looked up (down?) at the Earth through the lander's viewport, and the implications of what I was about to say began to strike home. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and continued anyway.

    “My name is Camwise. I was the Senior Engineer of Omelek Space Centre in the Pacific Ocean, but some of you may remember me as a member of the first crew to orbit Mars.

    I am speaking to you from the Lunar station funded and launched by the Trans Pacific Resource Company. I do not have time to explain how, but two days ago I took control of this station and forced the rest of the crew to evacuate. As I speak, they are safely on their way back to Earth.

    I then modified the station's orbit so that it will crash into the surface of our Moon and be destroyed. This impact will occur within a few minutes. If you look carefully, you will all be able to see a brief flash of light between Mare Nubium and Mare Humorum: that's just below the Kerb-in-the-Moon's mouth for those of you who are not familiar with our satellite's topography...

    The resulting crater will be visible with most decent telescopes for all eternity, at least for all practical purposes. I apologise in advance to the astronomers amongst you. You're going to have to make a slight correction to some of your maps. Sorry for the extra work. But look on the bright side: it's not like I will be bothering you again.

    But before I run out of time, I must tell you why I'm doing this.

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    By now, I'm sure that many of you will have understood that the Resource Companies don't have your best interests at heart. In fact, they don't give a damn whether you live or die in the most miserable conditions imaginable. As long as you pay for their oil, their gas, their metals, and as long as the price is right, their race to the bottom will continue.

    I have seen this with my own eyes. When I got back from Mars, the Resource Companies accused me of misuse of their property and sentenced me to serve on board an Icecrawler in Antarctica. There, I witnessed firsthand the cruelty of a system where those who are complicit live, and those who are unfortunate enough to be insolvent die.

    The Resource Companies will not hesitate to eliminate those who question their methods. The second crewed mission to Mars failed to return, and this was no accident. It was never the Board's intent to get them home safely. Let me remind you of their names. They were Principal Investigator Bartdon, Chief Pilot Munvey, Chief Engineer Karanda, Assistant Investigator Desfal, Second Engineer Mitzon and... Second Pilot Lisabeth.

    Remember them, please.”

    My voice came to within a fraction of breaking point. Tears came and floated away across the lander's cockpit, uncaring physics robbing me of their warmth. But I found new resolve.

    “Whatever your beliefs are, and regardless of whether you are the top of the pyramid or deep down in the basement, you must have realised by now that there is a better way of doing things.

    You see, I'm trying to show you that the Resource Companies are not invincible. Their plans can be thwarted. Look, I'm just one poor guy with a grudge acting on my own and making all of this up as I go along, and I managed to bring down their greatest asset. A station that they have been working on for years.

    But this is just the beginning. Once I'm gone, it's your turn.”

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    I looked up at Earth once more: from here the planet looked so distant, so uncaring, so aloof. I suddenly found my self shouting.

    “Rise! Rise, Kerbals! You must resist!

    We have a deadline, and the Companies have already wasted too much time! They are only interested in applying their business model to the rest of the Sol system. Remember the Martian Transmission. You must reach the outer planets, and you have only six years left.

    Forget Jupiter. It's impossibly hostile. The radiation belts would make any crewed mission there sheer insanity. Go for Saturn. There are many moons there where one of the alien constructs may be hiding.

    This station is not at all necessary to accomplish that goal. Take Madang. Use the new thrusters and nuclear reactors that we have developed. Waste no time. Launch and assemble a craft in Earth orbit directly. Sun-dive at the next opportunity and get a delegation of sane Kerbals to the ringed planet. If you can do this, we might yet avoid becoming extinct as a species.

    I'm counting on you all. Citizens, settlement governors, independent company employees... but most of all I'm counting on all of you who are on the payroll of the Big Three. You are the only ones with the power to bring down the Resource Companies from the inside and make this happen before it is too late.

    Camwise, out.”

    I cut the microphone and closed the dish. At least I had tried. I was on my own now.

    Firing the attitude thrusters again, I flipped the station so that the remaining core modules of Prosperity were facing downwards. As the Moon loomed into view through the top of the window I was startled at how much closer the surface appeared compared to when I had last looked, mere minutes previously. Perilune was not far off.

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    It was time to see if my calculations were correct, or literally dead wrong.

    I tripped a switch on the remote command station that I had set up to release Station LDRO's forward docking port. The immense bulk of Prosperity floated free and began to inch away from the station on her own trajectory.

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    There was no time to lose. I used the feeble thrusters to push away from Prosperity with agonising slowness, and then flipped the station one last time so that the lander's main engine was facing downwards.

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    By the time this whole procedure had played out, I began to see the details of the Lunar surface through the window at my feet: the very smallest craters and individual boulders all gliding past at improbable speed. The lander's radio altimeter, which until now had been pointing silently into space, began its rhythmic ping with vengeance.

    Beep. Beep. Beep.

    I grabbed the lander's throttle and prepared to expend the small amount of fuel I had managed to squeeze out of the cryocoolers in the previous two days. If it wasn't enough, there would soon be two more craters on the Moon for the astronomers to map. In the nightmares that had haunted me during the previous night, the had engine had failed to fire...

    Beep...beep...beep...

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    ...but the reassuring push of thrust kicked in straight away and the station began to pull away from Prosperity. Rocks and dust whirled past in a grey blur just hundreds of metres below. The relative speed was twice that of a hypersonic airliner, but up close and personal and in complete, deathly silence. I had never witnessed anything like it.

    Ten Seconds... Twenty seconds... and the rockets sputtered out. Bingo fuel already? Dammit, that was a short burn. Would it be enough?

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    Beepbeepbeep...

    I gazed down in horrified fascination as I realised that the two dark marks that I had noticed a few moments earlier were the shadows of Prosperity and Station LDRO, creeping closer across the surface with each passing second. When they caught up, it would be like matter touching antimatter, canceling each other out in a flash of instant oblivion.

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    Whose stupid idea was this already, Cam?

    Bipbipbipbip...

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    The shadows chased us, closing in on Prosperity first as they danced up and down on the rough terrain of the highlands. Then the slope became steeper, and in a final surge Prosperity's shadow hunted her down.

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    Her docking lights illuminated the dust for the briefest of moments. Then she was gone, swept away astern in a blinding flash of light that was quickly obscured by a wall of regolith spewing out into the void...

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    Bibibibibi..!

    ...but it wasn't over. With the great mining ship down, the second shadow danced closer still and showed no sign of giving up the chase.

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    When at last it seemed like I could almost reach out and touch it, a great calm descended upon me. I then knew without a doubt that I had cut it too close, and was about to be snuffed out of existence unceremoniously within the next tick of the great cosmic clock.

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    Beeeeeeeeep!

    Perilune.

    Station LDRO swept over the final crest and into the Sea of Humidity. The ground fell away abruptly, the dizzying motion blur receded and sanity was restored once more.

    I spluttered and retched as my ability to breathe was restored after what seemed like an eternity. I looked out across the Mare towards the highlands beyond, and sobbed in wonder at the stunning landscape that unrolled before me.

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    In that moment, I was just a tiny, stupid Kerbal sitting in his puny little ship, unworthy of beholding such majestic beauty.

    But a living Kerbal.

    I had made it. The flash and the crater left by the demise of Prosperity would be apparent proof that I had executed my threat. My egress from Lunar orbit would be covered by a cloud of rocks and debris from the impact, dashed out along a similar orbit to my own and rendering any attempt to track the remaining modules of the station fruitless.

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    All I had to do was burn and escape once I was hidden on the farside.

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    YEAR 16, DAY 6. CAMWISE.

    In a single stroke, I had become both the perfect martyr, and free to roam the Sol system unnoticed and unhindered.

    Which was good, because I was already planning to go steal more of the Company's stuff.

    My short burn on the farside had pushed me out into a wide geocentric orbit that swung past the Moon once more just over a month later. During this time I busied myself with making more fuel and assessing my choice of escape burns. After disconnecting the antenna's transmitter, I also tuned in to mission control every day in an attempt to glean information on what was happening back on Earth.

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    Samrod, Anline and the other Kerbals who had escaped from the station had made it back safely. Apparently, no revolution had yet occurred from within the Trans Pacific Resource Company. Had I really expected any other result from my plea for rebellion?

    Spoiler

     

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    And beyond this, nothing. The radio chatter I listened in to gave no inkling that mission control even acknowledged that something had gone wrong. If they had new projects now that their station was gone, they were keeping it tightly under wraps.

    After much cursing and struggling with the auto-navigation console, I had determined that my best option was to eject from the Earth-Moon system during my next close pass over the Lunar surface, and then make a small correction burn in deep space.

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    Then, because I was so far from the optimal transfer window to my target, I would have a massive three klick per second burn to accomplish to slow down when I got there. How the hell I was going to squeeze such a large amount of delta-vee from this sorry excuse for a spaceship within the space of a few days was anyone's guess. The only good news – the fact that I had another eight months to figure it out – was also bad news. I had the best part of another year to go before I even got to pick up the gear I needed.

    Well, whatever. It's not as if I'm looking forward to see that dump of an asteroid again. Let's just hope that it's still where I left it.

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  10. ...By the way, I almost forgot.

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    A rather disarticulate Lisabeth would like to join me in wishing you all the best for 2018.

    Thank you for sticking with this for nearly two years, now. With luck, we have only another three or four to go... :D

    Anyway, next episode will be up tonight if the electrical storms don't take out my power. Enjoy it in all its wordyness!

    Cheers, UnusualAttitude.


  11. 29 minutes ago, Geschosskopf said:

    Glad you like the changes.  I spend maybe 10-15 minutes with Memrise per day, but I've been doing that for a couple months now I guess.  Not that much time, but it's enough to keep the spelling conventions in my head.  That's really the whole trick to it, as the underlying words are mostly English, just spelled differently.  If you remember the pronunciation rules, you can sound out the words and immediately know what most of them mean because they sound like words you know.

    I think it's awesome that you've gone to all this trouble to develop a language for your characters. I've been having a lot of fun trying to understand the dialect of the Laytheans, and I can get the gist of what they're saying most of the time. But we're both native English speakers. This may not be the case for a significant proportion of your readers, who may have no problems reading plain English, but will struggle with this rather weirdly written phonetical version of it. Case in point: "No ken drin bia." Sad.

    So... thanks for the subtitles. Just, please don't overdub the Laytheans with celebrity voices. That would be too much. :wink:


  12. 9 hours ago, HamnavoePer said:

    Now give me the next chapter already! I must see this retrograde burn's result.

    I was working on it, got a couple thousand words done and then got distracted by songwriting for my new band. Soon.

     

    5 hours ago, Laythe Squid said:

    Get ready for problems.

    That's a beautiful picture you have there. A bit smoky, though. It looks just like a Balrog re-entering over the Atlantic Ocean. I imagine in the next picture, Gandalf appears wielding Glamdring and shouts "You shall not impact!"


  13. 15 hours ago, HamnavoePer said:

    Nothing like a good retrograde burn to put some action into things, right guys? No?

    Indeed. Prograde is for sissies. If you burn radial or anti-radial it's obvious that you don't have a clue what you're doing, you noob. Normal and anti-normal are for the obsessive, and hold maneuver node is for control freaks and nerds.

    Retrograde is definitely where it's at.


  14. 7 hours ago, greenTurtle1134 said:

    Crowning Moment of Awesome. We've literally waited years for this.

    So has Camwise!

    But yeah, thanks. That was so much fun to play through and write, and most liberating after the many previous moody episodes that were required to set up the situation.

    7 hours ago, insert_name said:

    will the landing legs be able to support such a big lander? Id imagine if cam wanted to keep the station he would put a lot of stress on them

     

    7 hours ago, greenTurtle1134 said:

    So, what does lithobraking a space station into the Moon accomplish, exactly? Does he actually plan to land it? Or just ruin the hard work of the Resource companies?

     

    7 hours ago, Geschosskopf said:

    Anyway, I suppose the whole Company Plan is pretty well scuppered here.  The station's gone, Prosperity's gone, so the asteroids are gone until all this can be replaced.  If there's budget to do so.  And in any case, the prospect of getting to Jupiter in time for tea seems to have vanished.  Yes, this is definitely more effective than crashing the asteroid into Kerbin.  But the long-term consequences of missing tea time seem rather gloomy....

    I can't really say anything that won't spoil the fun of the next couple of episodes. All will be revealed. Never underestimate Camwise's awesome engineering powah!

    7 hours ago, Geschosskopf said:

    Still, I can't help but feel some regret at the deliberate destruction of such wonderful assets.  You make amazing stuff and do it in RSS, so it seems like defacing fine art.  Still, the KSP gods do need a real sacrifice sometimes, not just the scraps we usually throw them.

    I was a bit reluctant to dismantle Prosperity, in particular, 'cause I was quite pleased with the way she looked. In one draft of the story, I had Camwise just undock her, point her prograde and jam the throttle open with some space tape before jumping ship. She would have become the first interstellar (ghost) ship launched from Earth, and I would have been able to switch back to admire my creation drifting off into the void. Sadly, this scenario didn't work out...

    In the end, Camwise dismantling Station LDRO reminded me of the destruction of the Arbogast in the Expanse. So beautiful...

    Spoiler

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  15. YEAR 15, DAY 330. CAMWISE.

    And so, as Prosperity swings past the Moon and brakes into the transfer orbit that will bring her up to rendez-vous with Station LDRO, I sit in one corner of the bridge and consider my options.

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    During our three-month return journey, I had often made my way to the bridge to look out through the ship's windows and escape the crushing gravity of my quarters in the centrifuge. Prosperity's crew had very thoughtfully reduced the spin rate by half when we had come aboard, but after a year of constant microgravity, even a quarter of a gee was still almost unbearable and we were still readjusting slowly.

    Tonight the view is magnificent. From our perilune of ten thousand klicks, Luna's brilliant disc is as stunning as ever. Constant and unchanging, she remains the ever-faithful companion of Earth throughout the aeons.

    On such timescales, the Blue Planet's continents flow like a viscous fluid that pools or is scattered by the whims of plate tectonics. The oceans wax and wane, over and over again. Luna watches and waits, unblinking, the purity of her pale face blemished only by the dark scars of the Maria. It is this imperfect face that Luna turns to us when we look up to her in the night sky. Seas of basalt that had been pulled from her innards billions of years ago by the gravitational tides of her parent planet.

    Dark, solid basalt that was guaranteed to destroy any spacecraft that happened to impact it at orbital velocity. This was good.

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    Spoiler

     

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    Special Investigator Samrod, his pilot Svetlana and Engineer Orrick had arrived at Station LDRO two months before us. Although the details of their mission were highly classified, I guessed that they had been busy preparing their first descent to the Lunar surface. They would be studying potential landing sites close to their target, wherever it was. Orrick would be hard at work, making sure the Station's electrolyser cells and cryocoolers were fully operational. These would be vital in order to convert the water we had harvested from Y13-HO3 into hydrolox fuel for their lander.

    With more than one hundred and fifty tonnes available, it would be possible to refuel the lander many, many times. This was good.

    However, the craft itself was still on its way. It had been launched some days previously, and had clawed its way slowly out of Earth's gravity well, towed by one of our eTugs. By chance, it was scheduled to arrive and dock at Station LDRO just hours before we got there ourselves on Prosperity.

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    Spoiler

     

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    Samrod and his team would still be busy inspecting the lander and making final preparations. In his eagerness to depart, he might even recruit our help to speed things up. This would provide the only opportunity I needed, and it was also good.

    I looked down at the Moon once more. Prosperity was winging her way across the dark seas and would reach our destination as the station drifted round to the Lunar farside.

    If everything went as I intended, every single Kerbal of planet Earth with a sufficiently large telescope would be watching and waiting to witness the fate of Station LDRO as it reappeared one last time.

    This was not only good, it was also absolutely essential to my plan.

     

    YEAR 15, DAY 333. CAMWISE.

    As it turned out, Samrod and his crew were still in up to their necks in preparation work when we arrived.

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    Station LDRO was still the same mess of modules and fuel tanks it had been when I had left it more than a year previously. But this time round the tanks were full, and the prototype version of Froemone's new land-anywhere monster sat proudly docked to the tail end of the main truss.

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    From the little information that trickled through to us while we were in deep space, I had already heard that it was an impressive machine, but I was still blown away by its size, regardless. It dwarfed all previous designs I had worked or flown on, be it the two-stage Cirq landers that had allowed us to land on the Moon for the first time, Karanda's pile of trash that had nearly got Catbeth and I stranded, or the tiny hopper Céré I had flown on down to Phobos.

    The Reusable Lunar Lander (or RLL) was simply in a league of its own.

    Once manoeuvred into Low Lunar Orbit by one of our eTugs, it was capable of reaching the surface with fuel to spare. Its multiple equipment racks contained science experiments, a long-range rover that could be unpacked and assembled on the ground, and a miniature nuclear reactor of the latest generation.

    For short-stay missions, it could land anywhere on the Moon and return to low orbit without additional fuel, as long as it abandoned its equipment on the surface. In this case, replacement packages could be launched from Earth via spaceplane, and be tugged up to Station LDRO cheaply.

    For longer missions lasting days or even weeks, the nuclear reactor could be set up on the surface and power the lander's life support systems through the long Lunar night. The containers also contained a small drilling rig and converters that would be able to top up the fuel tanks, as long as the craft landed inside one of the icy polar craters.

    One of the solar eTugs was already present, no doubt there to tow the RLL into position, I noted. Another minor annoyance I would have to deal with, but a manageable one.

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    Prosperity docked at last and Samrod wasted no time in summoning us to the station's main crew module to hear our report. The five of us floated in a ragged line as Samrod hung on to a bulkhead and appraised us one after the other with his piercing gaze.

    “Commander Anline?”

    Prosperity is ready for handover to the next crew, SI,” said Anline. “I had Raelyn make a full inspection of the solar panels and propulsion unit before we arrived. Everything is in good shape, and fuel consumption for the journey was as expected.”

    “Very good, Commander. You will return to Earth with Raelyn and Dundous onboard Opulence Three as soon as the replacement crew arrive. Their launch is scheduled in ten day's time.”

    “Thank you, SI.”

    Samrod turned to address a tight-lipped, mirthless smile at Jenbles and myself. “And you must be the first of our intrepid rockhoppers...”

    “Yes, SI. Senior Technician Kerski and this is Pilot Jenbles.” I replied, as smartly as I could.

    “Well, ST. I'm sure the Board will be eager to hear your debriefing as soon as you two are planetside. I hear that your operations on Y13-HO3 were a complete success.” His gaze was icy, but he could not hide the relish in his voice as he continued. “I'm sure that you will both have plenty of experiences to share with your respective debriefing officers. Trans Pacific and Kerbalkind as a whole will be excited to learn firsthand that the colonisation of space is both feasible and practical. Living on an asteroid for a year... what an amazing achievement!”

    Jenbles squirmed uncomfortably at my side. Memories of our dark dwelling in the bowels of Y13-HO3 came flooding back. The dank, dripping walls that had been carved into the ancient rock and plastered with a molten regolith that had an acrid smell, like gunpowder, that never really went away. The close confinement of our tiny prison from which no escape was possible. The feeling of being trapped, despite the vast emptiness surrounding us. The absence of any normal day and night cycle that made the passage of time meaningless and turned the whole experience into an endless nightmare...

    “Indeed, SI. I can't wait to share what we've learned.” I said, looking Samrod squarely in the eye.

    “Good! You will return to Earth with Commander Anline's crew. And Kerski,” he said, holding my gaze for a moment longer, “I understand that you're somewhat of an expert on nuclear reactors. I need your second opinion on ours. It's still packed in the RLL, but I would like you to have a look before we go down. I just want to be one hundred percent sure that the radiators and the cooling system weren't damaged during launch. The last thing we want is a meltdown while we're on the surface.”

    “Of course, SI,” I said with the warmest smile I could muster. “That would indeed be... unfortunate.”

    The smile wasn't even fake. I had just got what I wanted the most: a chance to take a good, close look at that lander...

     

    YEAR 15, DAY 338. CAMWISE.

    My chance to act came at last as Station LDRO slipped behind the Moon. For a few hours, Earth would be completely hidden from view. Most of the station's occupants – including Samrod – were resting.

    Raelyn was pulling second watch, and I kept her company, feigning lack of sleep.

    Two hours into her watch, an alarm rang out from Prosperity's bridge. Raelyn hurried over to see what was amiss, and I followed, pulling myself through the docking node behind her.

    “One of the accelerometers was just triggered. It's the starboard solar truss,” she said, looking up at me from the engineer's station.

    “Micrometeorite impact?”

    “Yeah, probably. I'm gonna have go out there and take a look. Damn, I gotta go and wake Anline now.” She turned towards the hatch that lead back to the Station, hesitating.

    I counted slowly to three before answering. “Look, don't wake anyone. I've got this. Go back to the station. I'll suit up and check it out. It may be a false alarm. This way, nobody gets disturbed in the middle of downtime unless it's necessary.”

    “You sure, Kerski?”

    “You know me.” I winked. “Space is my home.”

    “Whatever you say, fella.”

    Raelyn sealed the hatch between Prosperity and the Station as I pulled on my shabby space suit.

    Thus, I was granted a free spacewalk with no-one else watching. This was all I needed.

    I flipped a few switches on the console in front of me and vented Prosperity's bridge before slipping out of the hatch into space. Raelyn spoke to me just once from LDRO's com station.

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    “Let me know if you need anything, ST.”

    “Uh, yeah. Just keep the coffee warm, OK? I'll be back in five.”

    That last part would eventually go down in history as being one of the most wildly inaccurate statements in the history of spaceflight.

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    I made my way aft towards Prosperity's propulsion unit, but instead of making my way past the fuel tanks and along the solar truss to inspect the solar panels for damage, I paused at the port that connected the truss to the main structure of the ship.

    There, attached to the docking port itself was an auxiliary power unit that could allow, amongst other things, for an emergency manual jettison of the module in question.

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    I paused for a moment, my gloved hand resting above the jettison switch. This was the point of no return. Once I'd flipped it, I had already committed myself to years of loneliness in space.

    Are you really up to this, Cam? Are you..?

    Yes I am. Maybe. I don't know. Oh, to hell with it all.

    With a flip of the switch and a dull thud, Prosperity's starboard truss decoupled and began to drift away, oh so slowly.

    I jetted around to the port side of the ship and repeated the same operation, allowing the second massive solar truss to float free.

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    Alarms were no doubt blaring inside Prosperity's command module by now. And blare they might: since I had left the hatch jammed open and the bridge was in hard vacuum, no-one could hear them.

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    This would give me the time I needed to make my way around Prosperity's centrifuge towards the Station's main fuel tanks where the eTug was docked.

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    I flipped a few more switches, and in moments the main components of the solar tug were drifting away from the station on their own subtly different trajectories.

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    Finally, as I continued my way aft, I wrenched the station's main dish closed and secured it hastily with some space tape.

    Time was now of the essence. My sudden dismantling of the tug had evidently set off additional alarms onboard the Station itself. Raelyn went crazy and started yelling at me. I muted her voice in my headset and made a beeline for the RLL.

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    My EVA to inspect the lander's nuke and accessories (which where in perfectly good shape, by the way) had allowed me to familiarise myself with the craft's overall design. I had the hatch open in seconds, and hauled myself into the cockpit. I didn't bother to pressurise and simply pulled the hatch closed behind me. Moments later, I was at the controls, and I began looking around frantically for the auxiliary power system.

    Froemone, help me. You designed this massive, beautiful pile of junk. I'm about to use it for something it was never designed for. But I know how you like to over-spec things. Right now, I just need to know how to turn this thing on...

    C'mon... What could possibly go wrong?

    As I looked at the pilot's control panel, things began to click into place. There, there and there. The lander's cockpit came to life, and the whole station shuddered as the attitude thrusters provided ullage for the main engine. I grasped the throttle in my left hand and flicked the volume of my headset back up to normal.

    By now, the entire station was awake and by the sound of things, Samrod was going ballistic.

    “...damn it, Kerski, come in! What the hell do you think you're doing out there?”

    “I'm stealing this space station, Special Investigator. What does it look like? By the way, I suggest you all find something to hold on to right now.”

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    I flipped the lander's throttle fully open. The main engine rumbled into life below me, pushing on the massive station with nearly twelve tonnes of thrust. Not enough for violent acceleration, but sufficient to send anyone caught off guard spinning into the nearest bulkhead. I couldn't help but smile as I heard Samrod's grunt of surprise, and the other crew members shouting in the background.

    Station LDRO – with Prosperity's core modules and centrifuge still attached to its forward docking node – ploughed forward through the mass of debris that my undocking frenzy had created minutes before. Most of it had floated clear of the station, but one of Prosperity's mighty butterfly wings got momentarily snagged on one of the station's own solar arrays. A few seconds more, and it scraped its way to freedom, miraculously leaving both arrays intact.

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    I looked down through the lander's forward window at the mess that I had just made. I saw tonnes of complex, expensive hardware that had taken months to build, launch and assemble in orbit. Now, it was just useless scrap, abandoned to spin endlessly in cislunar space. For the first time since I could remember, I laughed.

    Samrod was shouting again. “Orrick, get suited up now! We're going to have to take him out!”

    “Tut tut, SI. EVA safety 101. Never attempt to perform extravehicular activity from a spacecraft that is under thrust. That would be very, very stupid.”

    I could almost hear Samrod's mind racing over the roar of the RLL's engine. “Commander Anline, get your crew over to Prosperity. You must find a way to undock and save the ship..!”

    “Nope, Samrod. Nice try, but you can't do that either. I must confess that I left the hatch open. Very careless of me, I know. The bridge is depressurised. Besides, if you take a look out of your nearest window, you will see that Prosperity is now missing a few rather vital components.”

    There was a pause as my words sank in. Samrod roared. “What the hell do you want, you crazy freak?!”

    “Here's the deal, Samrod. I am currently thrusting retrograde and I will continue to do so until the perilune of this station drops beneath the Lunar surface. If my calculations are correct it will impact a ridge between Mare Nubium and Mare Humorum at two-point-three kilometres per second. I'll welcome your company if you want to come along for the ride, but I do suggest you leave if you want to live.

    Grab your suits and take to the capsules right now. In three minutes time I will stop thrusting for exactly two minutes to allow you to clear the station. If anyone comes near this lander during that time... well, let's just say that I still have my hand on the throttle.”

    For a moment, I could hear only the sound of Samrod's heavy breathing.

    “Two minutes and fifty seconds, SI. Do it. Now.” I insisted.

    It was enough. Samrod began shouting orders and dispatched the seven Kerbals that remained onboard to the two Opulence capsules. They had been designed, amongst other things, for just this sort of emergency, and could be prepared for launch within seconds.

    True to my word, I cut the lander's throttle when I heard both Anline and Svetlana announce that they were ready to undock. The capsule's little attitude thrusters puffed jets of hypergolics, pushing them free of the station until I could see both craft through the lander's upper windows.

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    Good call, Special Investigator. So long, Jenbles. It was nice working with you... I breathed to myself, and slammed the throttle forward again.

    CjgLKzb.png


     


  16. On 12/22/2017 at 6:06 PM, HamnavoePer said:

    And THIS is why being a teen is rubbish... Want to do everything, but can't do ****... idc that I quoted myself

    Well, with you being about the same age as my stepson, I suppose I should to lecture you sternly about the responsibility and hardships of being an adult who has to put food on the table, pay the rent and wash his own dirty socks...

    Nah, just kidding. Instead I'm about to post the Camwise 2017 Christmas Special, with thrilling action scenes and guaranteed excitement. Stay tuned.


  17. 17 hours ago, Geschosskopf said:

    It was a kreole, mostly Early Modern Kerbish but with numerous additions from other languages as old or older, with a syntax uniquely its own, following its own logic. 

    That's some nice thick, juicy Kreole you have going there. I'm still trying to decipher bits of it. Bet there aren't many other languages with pronouns like "yumitupela".... :)

    But at least we know they have language, basic tools such as knives, and that they can count to one hundred. This should be a breeze for a diplomatic genius such as Geoflan.

    Or will they turn out to be like the Ewoks: cute and cuddly on the outside, but murderous psychopaths within?


  18. 3 hours ago, Sorabh said:

    Is it bad that i pictured my long lost lady love, smiling at me?

    Damn it.. this is going to be a night full of tears and self loathing for me again...

    Although i must congratulate you @UnusualAttitude, your writings invoke all sorts of emotions..

    Hello @Sorabh. First of all, thank you for joining us and commenting.

    I don't really know how to respond to this, though. Yes, as a writer, it is always satisfactory to learn that some of the emotion I put into my story trickles through to the reader and speaks to them on a personal level. It is however quite rare for any of my readers to comment on this aspect of my stories, which is understandable in this context of this forum. But that's not really the point here.

    If you lost someone truly close, then I am very sorry to hear about that. And I hope that in time, like the main character of this story, you will be able to banish the ghosts and find new purpose, whilst still cherishing those memories. Stay strong.


  19. 12 hours ago, HamnavoePer said:

    But does he not need to get put on some kind of "Rehabilitation" thingy for dark thoughts, only for him to break out awesomely?

    I think any attempt to send Camwise to rehab would be doomed to failure. He would either escape by jury-rigging a jetpack made of toilet rolls, soda and mentos, or alternatively talk the entire personnel into a state of catatonic depression merely by telling his story.

    6 hours ago, Geschosskopf said:

    I haven't tried landing an asteroid in about a year I guess.  Last time I tried, it exploded from the heat.  Glad to see we can get them on the ground again.  It used to be fun bowling with them :) 

    Be advised: this is still a 1.2.2 install. I'm also using Roverdude's mod that makes asteroids much larger and brings their density up to a realistic value (which explains the 350,000 tonne mass).

    For the purposes of my screenshots, I simply "dropped" the rock from 200 km straight above the target, so re-entry speed was far lower than reality, but still comparable to a stock Kerbin re-entry.


  20. 2 hours ago, Geschosskopf said:

    Still, I'm glad Camwise changed his mind.  Otherwise, the story would have been over too quickly.

    Yes. I'm not going to let him go yet. He hasn't suffered nearly enough. He had many more places to be and things to do first... 

    Also, that simulated asteroid strike didn't go quite as planned, anyway...

    Spoiler

     

    First of all, it sank into the ground on impact, up to nearly half of its diameter.

    8ahbyj7.png

    Then, would you believe it... it bounced.

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    The (virtual) Earth rejected it, spitting all 350,000 tonnes of it back several hundred metres into the air. All of the mining structures were destroyed by the collision, except a particularly stubborn KAS ground pylon.

    RsuRrdI.png

    It then crashed into the sea and settled on the bottom, spinning gently. I reloaded at that point, before the Kraken appeared...

    If I'm bored one evening, I may perform some additional testing. Hurling one million tonne rocks at the Space Centre might be mildly entertaining after enough beer...

     

     


  21. YEAR 15, DAY 257. CAMWISE.

    The dreams and nightmares were sometimes horrific.

    phP8rGz.png

    ...my finger hovered over the switch, trembling.

    This particular switch was the one that would retract the control rods fully and bring the nuclear reactor up to full power almost instantly, delivering a fatal dose to my pilot Jenbles. Sitting in the cockpit of L'Orphelin du Vide, stationed mere metres away from the mining rig and protected by only thin aluminium, plastic and laminated glass, he would be hit by the full force of the radiation emitted by the unshielded containment vessel.

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    The prototype Kastria MX-L could be pulsed quickly from shutdown up to full power for brief periods of time without risk, in theory at least. Even if Jenbles realised what was happening and attempted to manoeuvre L'Orphelin out of the way, by the time his craft's sluggish plasma thrusters carried him to safety, he would have received a dose of several Sieverts. Dozens, maybe. Enough to leave him incapacitated due to the nausea and vomiting within minutes.

    Back on Earth, with the best medical attention available, his chances of survival would be remote at best. Out here, he would inevitably expire from acute radiation poisoning within a few days, if he even lasted that long.

    I, on the other hand, would be perfectly safe. We had moved the reactor's monitoring station into the living space we had dug into the asteroid's surface as soon as it was suitable for occupation, allowing me to operate it from the safety of our underground hab. I was protected by at least twenty metres of solid rock. My ploy to get him to inspect the reactor while I remained on station to diagnose the system had worked.

    “I'm in position, Kerski. I see nothing unusual.”

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    I wiped the sweat from my brow and strained to keep my voice neutral.

    “Are you sure? My readouts here suggest heavy damage to one of the radiators. Maybe a micrometeorite strike. Can you get any closer?”

    “Well, both radiators look OK to me, and if I get any closer I'll run slap bang into the rig. Look, if you don't believe me then come out here and see for yourself.”

    Do it Camwise. Flip the switch. Once you're rid of him, the reactor, the drive and the asteroid will be yours...

    “No!” I snapped. To Jenbles. To myself.

    You will become the most powerful Kerbal in the Sol System.

    “No...”

    “Right, mate. Whatever. But you're gonna have to take my word for it, these radiators are fine...”

    Jenbles' voice faded into the background noise. My hand inched towards the switch, twitching. How did we get to this point, already?

    Oh, yes. The Resource Companies. The Board. Last night, I dreamt of Earth.

    Earth. That planet where I was born. In a cave, a lifetime ago.

    On asteroid Y13-HO3, Earth was the brightest object in the sky apart from Sol.

    At closest approach, Earth was less than three million kilometres away. At such a distance, it wasn't quite the blue marble that was so majestic from Lunar orbit, but it was still instantly recognisable against the inky void. A bright azure disk, on which everyone I'd ever known had lived and almost everyone I'd ever loved now lay buried.

    Sometimes we drifted further out on our long trip around Sol. Earth faded, its pale light clearly visible nonetheless. Next to the eternal radiance of our star, Earth's glow was as cold as ice.

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    I dreamt of the small mound of snow in Antarctica that I had dug to cover the victims of station Vrijheid 2. The frozen remains of a group of Kerbals left to die alone in the murderous cold. Good folk, bad folk maybe... Who knows? Their stories are all long gone, buried in the deep drifts of a polar winter. But I knew that they had had one thing in common: all of them had struggled and died because they believed that maybe, just maybe, there was a better way of doing things.

    I dreamt of the Board of Directors of the Resource Companies. In my dream, they were all faceless ghouls, as I had never met any of them in person.

    I had however experienced firsthand the consequences of their near absolute power over every living soul on the planet many, many times. Before I first went to space, this had all been beyond me. This was simply the world that I had been born into, just like millions of other Kerbals. This was how it was and – I'd assumed – how it was supposed to be.

    Some say that traveling afar gives you superior perspective. If that is so, my journey to Mars and back should have made me one of the clearest thinkers of my age. Whether or not this was true, little by little the systemic and unnecessary cruelty of life on my home world became first discernible, then evident, and finally – when Quissac went down – abhorrent.

    And, improbably, after so many years of accepting what was and not what ought to be, fate decided to gift me with the ability to change things.

    To strike back at the faceless, suited oligarchs who held the fate of my people in their grasp and who had decided that my family and the kerbelle I so desperately loved could be discarded as so much collateral meat. To tip the balance of power, and bring the Resource Companies to the negotiating table.

    An asteroid. My asteroid. When I wriggled my way back into the kerbonaut corps last year, I had spotted this opportunity straight away. Hundreds of thousands of tonnes of mass. A massive stockpile of potential energy that could be used as a kinetic threat to anyone who happened to be living down in the gravity well of Earth.

    I'd got this far with surprising ease. Impressive, but not enough. I still needed a means of propulsion.

    Fortunately, Trans Pacific had provided the missing link. I figured that this had probably been probably Froemone's idea, in his eagerness to capture a rock into a closer orbit that would allow more frequent transfer opportunities, as well as to test our ability to redirect bodies that posed a potential threat to Earth. The irony of it all...

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    And so, just over a month ago, an eTug arrived bearing empty water tanks for us to fill, in exchange for the ones we had slowly filled up over the previous months. The uncrewed craft would haul more than 150 tonnes of propellant back to Lunar orbit.

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    She also carried the prototype unit of a larger, more powerful ELF thruster. The Kastria MX-L, with hindsight, had clearly been designed to power this new engine.

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    This gap of a month between us receiving the thruster and the arrival – scheduled in just two day's time – of Prosperity to collect us was required for us to extract more propellant. Prosperity would be low on fuel when she got here and would need a top-up before we all returned to cislunar space together, abandoning Y13-HO3 while the thruster performed a long, slow transfer burn. The asteroid would meet Earth in another six months, and brake into a highly elliptical orbit around our planet.

    Obviously, the Board hadn't expected its mining colonies to go nuts and start flinging themselves back at their homeworld as soon as the first thruster was delivered. To their credit, they had taken precautions, but I already knew them to be inadequate. I had spotted the override shutdown chip nestling in the innards of the reactor's control monitor the very first time that I had stripped it down for inspection. I knew that it would require a screwdriver and all of thirty seconds to get rid of it, when the time came to do so.

    I dreamt of the rocket equation. Based on the efficiency of the thruster and the twenty percent ratio of water contained within the hydrates locked up inside Y13-HO3, I would have just over six hundred metres per second of delta-vee to play with. With sufficient patience this would be enough. Enough to strike at any target I should choose to aim for within the Earth-Moon system. I would also be able to protect myself against any attempt at being boarded by hostiles by cranking up the reactor for a few moments, if need be.

    In order to negotiate anything, you need a plan B. But you can't intimidate anyone unless they truly believe that there is a chance that you might carry out your threat. With regards to this, I held all the cards. None of the Board members had ever heard of Kerski. He was the biggest nobody ever sent to space. His superiors at Madang Space Centre would describe him as bland, discreet, instantly forgettable... They wouldn't have a single useful thing to say about him that might help the Board decide whether this dude was serious about his threats or not, and so they would have no choice but to fear the worst possible outcome.

    Besides, once the dice were cast, I would no longer have to pretend to be Kerski anymore. How I would love to be a fly on the wall of the boardroom when they learn who they are really dealing with. “What is his name again? Camwise? As in former Senior Engineer Camwise? That kerbonaut we sent to rot in the Antarctic? Uh oh...”

    I can almost smell the cold sweat from here already. You'll need a change of suits pretty soon, my friends.

    My demands would be simple. The immediate resignation of the entire Trans Pacific Board of Directors, including its Chairman. The Board would be replaced by a council of elected officials from all over the Pacific region, representing the interests of their respective settlements. During the transition process, my one and only contact would be Senior Engineer Froemone (who I felt sorry for already). He would oversee the process and report back to me.

    If I felt that the process was taking too long, then I would wipe Tanegashima off the map.

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    If SE Froemone came to any harm during this time, then I would wipe Tanegashima off the map.

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    If any craft came within range of Y13-HO3 station's proximity warning system during this time, I would crank up the reactor, spin up the asteroid using the thruster and spew deadly radiation in all directions. Then I would wipe Tanegashima from the face of the Earth.

    In the mean time, I had enough food and nuclear fuel for several years. I would watch and wait.

    I dreamt of the impact event. A flaming bolide streaking through the atmosphere bathing the doomed city below in its ghastly light. The serpent had many heads, and it would take more than the loss of their corporate headquarters to get rid of Trans Pacific for good, but that was beside the point.

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    The fact was that the destruction of the city would be a major setback for the space programme. Our ten-year deadline to reach Jupiter or Saturn would never be met. According to the Martian Transmission, my rock from the heavens would merely be the first of several, or perhaps many...

    Shock the system. A full reset. If this is the best we can do, then maybe this galaxy is better off without us.

    The final pieces were slotting into place. The puzzle was almost complete. One final obstacle stood between me and my goal.

    Jenbles.

    After working with him and breathing the same recycled air for nearly a year, I had to admit that he was OK. We had shared a tiny sarcophagus with no windows carved into the bowels of a 4.5 billion year old lump of rock flying through space for months on end without ripping out each other's throats: this simple fact spoke for itself. In any other circumstances, I would have vowed to watch his back for the rest of my days.

    He hated the Resource Companies as much the next Kerbal, this I knew for certain. But was he prepared to take this to the next level? If he had the choice, would he be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice if there was the slightest chance that it would improve the lot of his brethren back on Earth?

    Probably not. We can't take that risk.

    Unlike myself, Jenbles often talked about the future. He had plans for when he would return to Earth to collect more than a year of back pay. He wanted to build a small house on the more temperate west coast of Australia. He intended to buy shares in one of the electric airships, because they were less vulnerable to the fluctuations of fuel costs...

    He spoke of these plans with emotion. He cherished them. If he realised that those dreams were not going to happen, he would definitely try and stop me from sending us both hurtling to a fiery doom, and taking a major city with us.

    He would have to go.

    “Hey there, Kerski. You still there?”

    My hand touched the switch, shaking more than ever.

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    I dreamt of the crew of Quissac. First of Karanda, staring at me silently in disgust at what I had become, even as the Mars shuttle broke up around her and smote her remains across the desert below. Lisabeth still struggling with the useless controls, eyes wide as she stared at the ground looming through the windshield, yelling something I could not make out.

    Bartdon was inexplicably calm. Well not calm, exactly – merely his usual self. As the fuselage panels were torn open behind him by the blind wrath of aerodynamic forces and sunlight cut into Quissac's crew cabin, he looked down at me with his trademark glare of disapproval.

    “Blast, I see you're slacking again, boy. Got yourself a big rock, eh? How's that working for you? Feeling all entitled, now? Well it won't do you any good, you know. This might sound a bit rich coming from me, but trying to boss people around just doesn't work.

    If you want something done properly, then you have to do it your damned self!”

    Bartdon and the others disappeared into a flash of light, and the nagging voice was back.

    “Kerski, come in. Are you OK..?” said Jenbles.

    Yes! Do it..!

    Then my fingers curled...

    Do... It... Now!

    ...into a clenched fist.

    “No.”

    Defiance, resistance. But not that way. No other Kerbal would die by my hand. Ever.

    Bartdon was right. I had to pull my finger out and do what had to be done myself. Besides, my anger and sorrow had blinded me all along and had taken me down the wrong road. No single individual should have the power to decide the fate of an entire planet. That was just wrong, and deep down, I had known it all along.

    “Sorry, Jenbles. We just needed to purge the cooling system. I can fix this from here. You are good to dock.”

    I knew what I had to do. The new path that now lay before me was vertiginous: billions of kilometres of loneliness and danger. Just thinking about it was absolutely terrifying.

    Later, Jenbles and I took our supper rations together in awkward silence. I couldn't meet his gaze. Eventually, he got up and flipped a few switches on our comms console, tuning into the chatter from Mission Control. We learnt that Froemone's monster lander had finally passed acceptance tests and was ready to be launched, and this happened to be just what I now needed.

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    A special envoy sent by the Board intended to take it for a trial run down to the surface of Luna to check out some of the anomalies there. This dude's name was Samrod, and the schedule for the next few months suggested we would get to meet each other on LDRO station when Prosperity brought us back from Y13-HO3.

    Hello, Samrod. I hope you packed a change of pants. Your plans are about to undergo some slight... adjustments.

    The following night, I dreamt of Lisabeth once more. This time, as Quissac broke up around her, she smiled at me.


  22. 23 hours ago, Geschosskopf said:

    But yeah, I don't encourage emotional attachment to my Kerbals until the end of the story, when we know who's still standing :)

    Despite your warnings, I cannot help but root for Geoflan. He reminds me of Professor Challenger from The Lost World, or Axel Lidenbrock from Journey to the Centre of the Earth.

    Let's hope that, should the Laythean natives prove to be aggressive, he can run a mile in under five minutes. :wink: