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Posts posted by UnusualAttitude

  1. 6 hours ago, TotallyNotHuman_ said:

    Why does s/he remind me of a certain chemical compound? :D

    Yikes! I think Camwise would have noticed if the Kerbelle he was sharing a capsule with smelled like rotten fish, though. :D

    6 hours ago, KAL 9000 said:

    But the other crew members are innocent! They're not bureaucrats, they were deceived! 

    On second thought, kill them all! 

    57 minutes ago, greenTurtle1134 said:

    I'd agree that the Company deserves to die for their crimes, but Camwise would be careful not to fall to their level. The slaughtering of innocents in zero-gee for ulterior motives is best left to the Board.

    Indeed, our hero's only wish is to avoid more of his fellow Kerbals meeting lonely ends while serving the Company somewhere out in the deep black. But, how to go about this without collateral damage? Some infections have to be cut out... and sacrifice may be necessary. Unless... options, Cam.

  2. YEAR 14, DAY 155. CAMWISE.


    Here I am, floating in the void once more. These days, EVA has started to feel like the only place where I truly belong.

    I drift fifty thousand kilometres above the pale wasteland of my home planet's natural satellite. Even from this distance, the cold reflection from the Moon's surface softens the shadows cast by the pure, undying blaze of our Sun. The Maria, the impact basins and the various other scars that the long, exhausting aeons have imprinted into the material of this familiar sphere of basalt are clearly visible, even from this distance.


    What is remarkable, at least on the scale of Kerbalkind, is the massive construction weighing several hundred tonnes floating alongside me. It is, I believe, the largest artificial structure ever to have existed in space, and it happens to be in a distant retrograde orbit around the Moon. For those of you who have been following the developments of our space programme since its beginnings, this may seem trivial to you, or perhaps just another small step in the slow plod towards the stars. But believe me, it's a game-changer.

    You see, we're nearly there.

    By there, I don't mean that we're half way to Alpha Centauri. Clearly, that will be a project for another generation, not ours. But up here, we are a merely a gentle push away from hundreds of asteroids harbouring the riches that will unlock the gateway to the rest of our solar system.

    Water. Fuel. Metals.

    Given enough time and patience, these resources will be stockpiled up here on the edge of Earth's gravity well. LDRO Station will gradually grow into a vast, sprawling complex of fuel tanks, shipyards and greenhouses, fed by swarms of gossamer, solar-powered ships droning in from the Near Earth cortege. An army of robotic insects, bloating this staging post until it bursts asunder and spawns new offspring, ready to migrate onwards and outwards.

    And then Sol System will be the Company's new playground.

    Or not. At least, not if I can help it.

    For now, I gaze at the station in wonder. At the moment, it is docked to the additional bulk of Prosperity, the mining ship that will depart shortly to carry Jenbles and myself to asteroid Y13-HO3 where we are to set up the first mining outpost and test the hardware. We will spend the best part of a year out there. Our feedback will shape the equipment designed for future missions.

    Oh, and something I forgot to mention: we'll be packing the most powerful nuclear reactor ever launched to space.

    This reactor, designed by Froemone's team and built by Kastria, was launched into LEO some weeks ago. Along with the rest of our gear, it hitched a lift up to Lunar orbit on one of the solar tugs that had previously towed the station into position.

    The package consist of a number of elements. First up were two huge service tanks. Our main task would be to return these to Lunar orbit, each one brimming with nearly one hundred tonnes of pure, single malt asteroid water.


    Next, a docking hub and a life support module including several year's worth of food for hungry Kerbal miners.


    The Mining Utility Vehicle, or MUV, a ship I swear will get a proper name as soon as we have five minutes alone together. Sporting large solar panels and temporary living quarters, this will be our run-about once we get to the asteroid. It will enable us to set up our hardware and give us a place to live until we get round to digging holes in the 'roid and lining them with molten regolith. It was sent up with a utility module that will serve as an airlock on the asteroid's surface, allowing us to burrow into the rock, thus giving us living space that will be reasonably well-shielded from solar and galactic radiation.


    And finally, the mining module itself with the nuclear reactor in question. A massive, multi-megawatt beast of a generator, it is indeed rather overkill for the mere purpose of melting a few thousand tonnes of asteroid rock. But remember, we are nothing if not guinea pigs here. Looking at the bigger picture, this is exactly the sort of reactor that we would pack if we were to head out on a multi-year mission to one of the outer planets. The Company is merely planning ahead.


    This whole menagerie was dragged gradually up the gravity well to rendez-vous with Prosperity in Lunar orbit.


    That was the slow boat. We, however, took the Lunar Express.

    Crew Mission 14-02 was the second Opulence capsule to launch from Madang towards Distant Retrograde orbit. Packed on board for this cramped eight day journey were Jenbles and myself, as well as three other kerbals. They were pilots and engineers for the next mining start-up, and they would inherit the thankless task of caretaking for the Lunar station until Prosperity returned from her maiden voyage to Y13-HO3 and back.

    Closing my eyes, I think back to the launch sequence. The muffled roar from the cluster of engine bells sixty metres behind me.


    The gee forces rising to a crescendo and cutting off suddenly upon stage separation.


    The push resuming with second stage ignition and the sudden blinding light through the forward viewports as the launch escape system was jettisoned along with the capsule's aerodynamic shroud.


    Space once more. Opulence deploying her solar panels. Chief Pilot Anline confirming successful orbital insertion.


    After a single orbit of Earth, the upper cryogenic stage re-igniting for TLI, and the sight of our world slipping swiftly away into the night below.


    For a fleeting moment, it occurred to me that I should feel sorrow, some kind of loss. But the moment passed, and a wonderful sense of calm descended upon me. I had lived through everything that Earth, Luna and Mars had thrown at me so far. I had a purpose. I would not fail.


    Our upper stage had flung us onto a collision course with Luna. A few hours into our transfer, we jettisoned the remains of our launch vehicle. Opulence was free to make the small correction burn that would bring us low around the dark side where we would burn again in three day's time to intercept the station.


    Now, there was nothing to do but wait and put up with the week-long journey, the lack of privacy in such cramped quarters, and pray that solar activity would be favourable to us during the transfer. Due to the nature of our target orbit around the Moon, such a journey could last between six days and two weeks, depending on where the station was when we launched. We were relatively lucky on this trip: a fortnight in such a capsule just didn't bear thinking about.

    In the end, Sol was kind to us and sent no flares our way during our journey. Luna passed us by, our injection burn was successful, and we made a direct intercept of LDRO station at the top of our elliptical orbit.


    The distinctive shape of Prosperity was visible from tens of kilometres away as we approached at the low velocity that is characteristic of such distant orbits. I had plenty of time to admire my handiwork as Anline manoeuvred our ship gently in to dock with the station.



    Once on board, Jenbles and I were introduced to the three kerbals who would crew Prosperity during our outbound trip to Y13-HO3. Commander Astrice, Second Pilot Kimet, and Flight Engineer Ering. Raw, fresh recruits who, apart from a short trip to LEO during a test-launch of the first Opulence capsule, had never been to space before. Yet here they were, already four months into their eighteen month tour of duty. Enthusiastic, eager, naïve...

    We didn't settle onboard DRO station but instead, we took our quarters on board Prosperity straight away and prepared for an imminent departure on the first leg of our journey.

    Now, I am making a final inspection of Prosperity's magnificent solar arrays, checking the fragile structures for micro-impact damage before we head out into the unknown.


    I gaze at the mighty ship, and can't help but imagine just how much destruction she would cause if she collided with LDRO station at high velocity.

    I blinked and shook my head, wondering where such a thought could have come from. Why would I do that? Besides, I would have to neutralise a crew of three, plus Jenbles. Impossible.

    Think of the setback this would be to the Company's plans. Take them by surprise. Fake an accident during an EVA. They will come for you. Pick them off one by one.

    No... no....

    You can do this, Camwise. In zero-gee, you are superior to them all. You are stronger, and faster. You are an engineer. Use your power tool. Take control of the ship. Destroy the station. It will cost the Company years of work...

    “Shut up.” I whimpered, holding my gloved hands to the side of my helmet. Futile.

    Use your power tool. Go for their faceplates...

    “Shut up!”

    “Come in, ST. Check status... are you OK, Kerski?” Astrice sounded concerned.

    The voice vanished as suddenly as it had appeared. “Uh, yeah. Just some static on the link. It got pretty loud. How's solar activity?”

    “Nominal. Are you done out there?”

    “Yeah. I'm coming back in. See you in ten.”

    Not like that, I whispered to myself, and turned to head back to the airlock.


  3. 22 minutes ago, greenTurtle1134 said:

    The classic phrase is "For fun and profit"; the absence of the first part is likely symbolic of Camwise's attitude, or the Board's, or the author's or all of them.

    The Board and the Resource Companies certainly embody shameless corporate profit-at-all-costs capitalism. There is little room for "fun" if you work for, or live under the rule of the Trans Pacific Company.

    As you have probably guessed by now, the author finds that such a state of affairs would be (is?) an absolute nightmare, and some of this revulsion is reflected in the motivations and decisions of certain characters, Camwise first and foremost. I'm afraid I can't elaborate on these forums, though (rule 2.2b...). You'll just have to read on. :wink:

    48 minutes ago, greenTurtle1134 said:

    The crashing scene was really well written! It was a real contrast between this nice montage of the ship being constructed from SSTO launches and then suddenly, in a couple of lines, it goes back to heart-stopping action. And that little bit in the middle - when Camwise is arguing with himself over whether he is ready to die or not - that's really brilliant.

    Thank you, really. We'll just have to hope that he stays strong a little while longer. Earth is going to need him, badly.

    49 minutes ago, greenTurtle1134 said:

    I wonder what the Board does about the failure. Probably going to just go, "Well, our ship is finished, get lost."

    Remember that the Board needs all the victims, uh recruits it can get for the asteroid harvesting programme. As soon as they've ironed the creases out of his spine, Cam is going straight back up there to dig regolith. :D

  4. Hi.

    Was a busy week, I'm afraid. Much work to be done in the garden, and the buttock-clenching matter of electing France's new Banker-in-Chief (or Chairman of the Board if you prefer, both titles suit him), and a short weekend off during which my wife and I escaped to that wonderful place, Carcassonne, which is both a fairytale castle, and the ideal place to go in case of a zombie apocalypse.



    Got some more long burns done, though. We now have hundreds of tonnes of hardware orbiting Luna, ready to launch an assault on the Near Earth Objects and mine them into little bits.

    For profit!




  5. 1 hour ago, Shania_L said:

    Incidentally A380s are awesome, double height cabins = soo much headroom!

    Indeed, I believe that it is the only airliner on which you can successfully shoot the music video of a rock band and still have headroom to spare.



    I'm glad to see you are still around, and looking forward to moar, too...

  6. 20 hours ago, Newtie said:

    I am really liking the darker Camwise leaking out around the edges.

    So am I... And we haven't gone past Mars yet. Just wait until he hits the bottom, somewhere out in the cold, eternal darkness beyond Neptune... :o

    20 hours ago, Newtie said:

    Some day you need to remove the KSP references and turn this into a miniseries.


    7 hours ago, NotAgain said:

    No. This is a KSP fan-work.

    Once again, the paradox of The Camwise Logs is brought to light. :)

    Yes, I am trying to make this mission report feel as close as possible to a hard sci-fi series/novel/whatever, with a gritty background, (all the better to sling some social and political commitment under the radar) and very little of the usual Kerbal canon and characters (which/whom I find endearing, sometimes mildly entertaining, but it would never have kept me interested long enough to write 120,000+ words of this in more than a year).

    On the other hand, would you have kept reading this story if Camwise instead was a spanner-wielding socialist human engineer from France called Bertrand? And if Bartdon was a conservative gentleman scientist from Salisbury called Graham (with a moustache, of couse)? If their space programme had a proper, realistic timeline that would span decades and generations, rather than just a few years? Spacefaring human cavemen who eat bat paste.... wut?

    Conclusion: there's plenty of Kerbal ingrained in The Camwise Logs and...

    7 hours ago, NotAgain said:

    This wouldn't be here if it wasn't for KSP. You can't remove the thing that allowed it to exist.

    ...this is quite true. I'm not sure how my story would fare without its Kerbal-ness. Let's talk about this again when I've finished it. :wink:

  7. 18 hours ago, MatterBeam said:

    Holy hell, I went from a calm wonder at the space-station design to gripping panic that reminded me of the early days playing KSP, when my space-planes spun tail-first through the upper atmosphere on re-entry.


    23 minutes ago, MarkWatney said:

    The suspense is having me on the edge of my seat the entire time. Good job mate!

    Thank you. The thing is, I was completely freaking out myself. There was absolutely nothing scripted there, and I've no idea why the RLV spun out of control on this particular occasion: I've successfully re-entered and landed her safely multiple times before. That really was a genuine close call for Cam... sorry, Kerski. :wink: 

  8. YEAR 14, DAY 82. CAMWISE.

    Once Prosperity was complete, we had no time to waste. We had a ride home to catch.


    Jenbles manoeuvred the OUV deftly towards the open cargo bay of the awaiting spaceplane. He had been flying the little ship around the massive, complex structure that was Prosperity for the past few weeks. He had consistently kept it clear of the immense, fragile solar arrays. He had tugged the heavy sections of the centrifuge into position with pinpoint precision. And, more importantly, he had somehow managed to avoid crushing me in the process as I'd waltzed around the utility vehicle on EVA.

    Indeed, he had very quickly learnt how to turn the OUV on a dime. For a kerbonaut on his first mission into space, he was certainly proving to be a competent pilot.

    The OUV reconnected with the docking port inside the RLV spaceplane with a dull thunk that resonated throughout the pressure hull of the small capsule. Clamps locked into place. The cargo bay doors slid shut with a faint hum that was barely audible above the white noise of the life support systems, blocking off the stark sunlight of space. The cockpit's service lights blinked on and bathed us both in pale, ghostly light.

    Farewell... for now.

    I felt the RLV's attitude thrusters fire to push us slowly away from Prosperity to a safe distance for the de-orbit burn. Jenbles pushed back from the OUV's control console and settled into his acceleration couch. From now on we would be merely spectators of our own fate, as the spaceplane's re-entry profile was automated. If all went well, we would touch down on the short runway at Madang in just under an hour.

    “Belt up and shut up, Kerski,” he muttered. “We're going home.”

    Home, as Jenbles called it, wasn't at all where I wanted to be right then. But we couldn't stay on Prosperity. She would have to take her own, slow route up to the new station in high Lunar orbit. With her highly efficient but feeble solar electric drive, she would spiral slowly outwards through Earth's radiation belts over a period of several weeks. The great ship would be remotely guided from the ground during the whole procedure.

    Her first flight crew was already waiting for her up on the station. We would join them at a later date by means of the tried and trustworthy method of strapping a fancy looking tin can on top of a giant stack full of liquid propellants and lighting the wick. I couldn't wait.

    The short re-entry burn kicked in. Just under forty metres per second and our RLV was committed to returning from whence she came. Nothing left to do but hang on and enjoy the ride. Watch the altimeter indicate our plunge from vertiginous heights. Survey the control panel's splash of little green lights telling us that we were still alive. Imagine the savage forces that would soon assault our fragile machine as it ploughed into the upper layers of our planet's atmosphere.


    “Kerski...” said Jenbles after a while. “Tell me... why did you sign up for this?” You could hear the tension in his voice. You could tell that he had been told the horror stories about re-entry. That the most dangerous part of spaceflight was getting home. He was talking in an attempt to forget his own fear. By now, the slow lurch of the spaceplane had been arrested by the attitude thrusters, and we were beginning to feel the first touch of deceleration as the atmosphere thickened.

    “By 'this', I assume you mean achieving the magnificent dream of flying into space?” I asked.

    “Uh, well,” he said. “I was thinking more of the risks of spaceflight, and the possibility that at any given moment, something might go horribly wrong... so why are you doing this?”

    Because the world down there no longer has anything for me, I thought.

    Because I used to think that our space programme was something that would bring hope to Kerbalkind, and show us that there was a better way; that we could strive for a better future. I somehow managed to keep that spark of hope alive, despite everything that happened to me.

    But it was finally shattered when the Mars shuttle Quissac broke up and scattered its precious contents across the wasteland of this blighted planet. I've been lying to myself all along. This new dimension we were exploring was just another place into which the greed and corruption would seep through and prove to be tenfold. What a naïve fool you were for daring to believe that kerbal lives aren't just commodities to be exploited for profit.

    And up here, the punishment for being on the wrong side of the system is instantaneous and deadly. No warning. No appeal or reprieve. Just sudden oblivion.

    So... better me up here than some other poor fool who has no idea what he's getting in to. I know space. She is my mistress, now. And if she comes to take me today, in the next hour, or in the next minute... then I am ready.

    But first I must even the score.

    I blinked, pushed away the dark thoughts and out loud I said, “Well, the pay's not too bad...”

    Jenbles snorted. “You've gotta be kidding me. I made better money when I was bushwhacking in the Outback.”

    “Yeah, but it's kind of hard to blow it all on liquor come payday when you're up here.”

    Jenbles gave a hollow laugh, “It was in the Outback, too.”

    There was a sudden jolt. Jenbles gripped his seat. The RLV began to bank to the left, but then the thrusters caught it and the craft settled back into a level attitude. I glanced down. Still green across the board. We were descending through the top of the stratosphere.

    “What about you?” I asked.

    “Me? I had to sell my bird when fuel costs rocketed back in '12. Couldn't afford to run her any more. So I figured that if I wanted to keep flyin', I'd have to-”

    - he was cut off in mid sentence as our world suddenly became a whirlwind. Without warning, the RLV broke into a spin, gyrating wildly and pitching up at the same time. The aerodynamic noise became a dull roar that was clearly audible even from inside the cargo bay. An angry red wave swept across the control panel in front of me. Half of the capsule's systems suddenly wanted my urgent attention, but my brain was momentarily too busy working out which way was up to care.

    I couldn't see the horizon, of course, but the navball showed that we rolling through several full revolutions per second and the gee load was increasing with each passing moment. What the hell was going on? An explosion? Hydraulic failure? One of the guidance computers gone haywire? With effort, I managed to turn my head to the left and look at Jenbles, who was transfixed in sheer terror, staring ahead as held on to his seat with a death grip.


    “We have to abort!” he yelled, his gaze darting to the large red button protected by a plastic cover on the panel between us.

    “Can't do it yet, too high, too fast!”

    “But we're gonna break up, Kerski!”

    The roaring noise increased, the gee forces spiked, and then everything went black.

    The blare of the master alarm cut through the darkness. The fog began to clear as the huge load on my chest lifted and became a strange sensation of falling. I forced my eyes open and looked around. Jenbles was still locked out, his head slumped forwards.

    I attempted to make sense of what the capsule's display was telling me: flight controls were gone and the attitude thrusters weren't responding to guidance inputs. The engines had spooled up and were attempting to correct our flightpath with the exhaust gimbals. Unsuccessfully.

    Oh. Also, the RLV was plummeting through 8,000 metres, caught in an almost vertical dive towards the terrain below, doing just under Mach one.


    We had thirty seconds...

    Abort!” I shouted at no-one in particular, flicked the protection cover open, and pressed the panic switch.

    A distant detonation, a whoosh, and I was suddenly blinded as daylight flooded the cargo bay. The doors were blown back by explosive bolts and then the abort motors beneath us fired with a roar. Another kick, a second of violent movement and -


    - the OUV collided with the spaceplane and snapped to a neck-breaking halt, pinned to the front corner of the cargo bay and held there by the one of the fuel tank mounts that had somehow managed to hook over the side of the fuselage. The solid rocket motors burned out uselessly and the OUV didn't budge. All I could see through the windshield was the forward bulkhead, but meanwhile the altimeter ticked away, down through 5,000 metres.

    The jolt had brought Jenbles back, but unfortunately he didn't really have anything useful to contribute, apart from muttered curses and heavy breathing. Our velocity was still falling dramatically as the air got thicker and the RLV's engines stopped once more, but she still stubbornly refused to pull up. We were about to nose dive into the ground at terminal velocity, locked in a deadly embrace with the vehicle that should have brought us home safely.

    Well, at least this would be over quickly, I thought.

    I am ready.

    I'm going to try and settle the score. For us.

    No, I'm ready. Right now.

    ...settle the score.


    For us!

    With a flicker of something that felt like annoyance I muttered, “not ready...” and jabbed the abort switch a second time, deploying the OUV's drogue chutes. The airstream caught them instantly and ripped the capsule cleanly from the spaceplane's hull. There was a jerk, a moment of smoother deceleration as the chutes bit into the airflow, and then another massive blow as the vessel hit the rear bulkhead of the cargo bay.


    The hull rang like a bell. I could see only blue sky through the windshield.


    Our lives hung on a thread for another heartbeat, then the main chutes deployed.


    The RLV's tortured hull gave in to this final blow on top of the stresses she had encountered during re-entry. Her tail ripped off entirely, just aft of the cargo bay. With a final screech of metal on metal, the capsule was thrown clear. Fortune had determined that our time had not yet come, and our canopy was not caught by the RLV's tail plane as both main parts of the wreckage fell away below us to their doom.


    Looking down through the windshield, I watched, mesmerised, as the two sections impacted the wasteland below in a flash and a cloud of dust.


    Seconds later, the OUV touched down with a final jolt that knocked the breath from my body once more. My head was still ringing and my neck had been tortured by repeated loads in just about every direction imaginable. For a while, neither Jenbles or I were capable of speech and the only sound was that of our laboured breathing.

    “Did we win?” he asked, breaking the silence at last. Then, turning away from me, he threw up the contents of his stomach onto the capsule floor.

    Uhm... time to egress, perhaps.


  9. 1 hour ago, adsii1970 said:

    Cannot do much as I am still living in an apartment.

    ...with a pretty nice view from what I assume is your back door. Spot of fishing?

    3 hours ago, Just Jim said:

    My orchids, however, seem to be loving it!

    Beautiful! You guys are starting to change my mind about only growing things that are edible... :D

  10. On 4/18/2017 at 2:17 AM, tater said:

    Saw 7 deer in the yard yesterday. Probably what ate the marigolds.

    Wow, seven. I don't think I've ever seen that many deer before in one place.

    On my side, progress in the potato and onion bed is good. (I planted them one month ago today).


    Also, we have sweetcorn.


    "With a melon!?"


    Things aren't going so well in the greenhouse, however. So far, my tomato plants look a bit thin and weedy, considering I planted them indoors back in February...


    Courgette's are growing just fine, though.... (sigh).


  11. 11 hours ago, michal.don said:

    If anybody who reads this is an experienced RSS interplanetary traveller, I'll be very grateful for any advice for my space program - nobody in my Space Agency really knows what they're doing :) 

    If we knew what we were doing, this wouldn't be called research, would it? :)

    From my experience, a crewed mission to Mars is perhaps the most interesting challenge you can undertake in KSP. There are so many different ways of going about it, and without knowing the technology, engines and parts available to you, I can't really give you any practical advice except: test, test, test. Your lander(s), in particular. Forget everything you know about Duna: that Mars atmosphere is slippery.

    Look at what other players have done and decide what type of mission seems fun for you. This is important, as it will be a huge task, and there will inevitably be some tedium involved. Youtube has many videos of players (winged, Chris P. Bacon, Sparker spring to mind) who have done this using conventional or proposed methods. I know you've been following some of the Camwise Logs, but as a reminder, this is where my slightly more unusual attempt began.

    I wish you the best of luck and look forward to seeing what you come up with.

  12. 15 minutes ago, Orion Kerman said:

    It was created that way to make people think it wasn't created then.

    What? Some dude went around tampering with every single zircon crystal in the Earth's crust? Before 7am in the morning? 

    I'm still waiting. :D

  13. Just now, Orion Kerman said:

    But the real question is can you prove it wrong because there is no evidence to say my thought is wrong. Except it's just an annoying question.

    There is plenty, if we stick to the scientifically accepted definition of "evidence": radiocarbon dating, Uranium lead dating, redshift, cosmic background radiation, the lascaux caves, the pyramids... the list goes on.

    If we don't stick to the accepted version of "evidence" then your "annoying question" is just belief

    Please provide an alternative explanation for any of the above.

    I'm waiting. :D




  14. On 3/5/2017 at 8:26 PM, UnusualAttitude said:

    “Froe, is there any news of Bartdon and his crew? Anything? Maybe Trans Atlantic made a mistake, or maybe they're covering something up...”

    Froemone stepped forward and put a hand on my shoulder awkwardly. “Cam, stop right there. The official version of what happened hasn't changed since it was first reported. Quissac's circularisation burn was miscalculated and she re-entered over the Atlantic. She broke up on the way down. Trans Atlantic found the wreckage on the west coast of Africa. There were no survivors.”

    “Yeah, that's the official version, but...”

    “There were witnesses, Camwise. Many independent witnesses, and reliable ones. An airship Captain saw her come apart, and the scatter of debris. You and I are engineers, Cam. We both know that Quissac was designed to land on Mars, not on Earth. You have to let it go, now. They're gone, Cam. She's gone. I'm so sorry.”

    From Year 13 Day 204. Quissac, not Laroque:wink:

  15. 15 hours ago, NotAgain said:

    Goood, good. Let the hatred run through you.


    7 hours ago, insert_name said:

    considering that the board plans to send some of these kerbs on a suicide mission, I would be surprised if they didn't have some sort of fate worse than death that they could use as leverage against camwise or whoever he threatens/decives into going along with his scheme


    6 hours ago, KAL 9000 said:

    And your journey to the Dark Side will be complete!

    Don't know if you guys are old enough to remember this one, but this would be closer to my inspiration for Cam's state of mind right now. 

    "Luck and I weren't on speaking terms..."



    ...sorry for the dreadful photoshop chainsaw job. :D

    Edit: by the way, this was back in the day when game studios had their own soundtracks written and didn't just resort to generic royalty free music (jab intended). Pour a drink, sit back and listen to this masterpiece. Ah.... the moodyness. :wink:

  16. YEAR 14, DAY 25. CAMWISE.

    My name is still Camwise, but for now, you will have to call me Kerski.


    The blistering midday sun shone down on Madang's secondary runway. The air shimmered and broiled above the dark tarmac. Parked majestically near the runway's threshold was the long sleek shape of an RLV spaceplane. With the sunlight reflecting off the pure white skin of its fuselage panels, it was probably visible from the summits of the nearby Bismarck range, miles away to the South.

    I squinted into the brilliant light and scratched my newly grown stubble. I still wasn't used to it. It was itchy at the most awkward moments.

    The junior engineer standing next to me mopped his brow with a filthy handkerchief and said, “Is yer team ready, Kerski?”

    I drew a deep breath. “Yeah, let's clear the area.”

    Mersy raised both arms above his head. A siren sounded and the technicians surrounding the spacecraft began to withdraw to the safety of a bunker situated at the top of a small rise, two hundred yards or so to the side of the runway. We would still have a great view of the test, but we would also be sheltered in case things didn't go quite as planned.

    Junior Engineer Mersy shouted at the Kerbals, struggling in the tropical heat, to hurry up. He clearly wanted to get the test over and get back to the comfort of his air-conditioned office as soon as possible. Whether the test was successful or not was none of his concern. The RLV would fly to orbit in a week's time, regardless of the outcome.

    We peered out towards the runway from the relative safety of the bunker's embrasure.

    “This 'ad better be good, Kerski,” he said, without meeting my gaze.

    As if you give a damn... I thought.

    Mersy's scepticism was understandable. The three previous test firings of the Orbital Utility Vehicle's abort system had all been more or less spectacular failures. The first time, the capsule had remained stuck firmly to its docking mount inside the RLV's cargo bay, the solid rocket abort engines firing uselessly at the adapter below it and almost melting through it to the fuel tank that it protected. Only the short burn-time of the abort engines avoided the test ending in a massive explosion of toxic hypergolic fuel that would have destroyed the test article, as well as severely damaging the spaceplane itself.

    During the two subsequent tests, the OUV had detached as it was designed to, but the thrust from the four small rocket motors had proved to be unbalanced. The small capsule had tumbled ungracefully, end over end, until it had ploughed into the runway just a few metres from the launch vehicle itself. Not good if the said launch vehicle was already a blazing inferno from which the capsule's occupants were trying to escape.

    On the third test, the OUV had caught the spaceplane's fuselage with a glancing blow as it flipped uncontrollably through the air, causing additional damage and delays. Principal Investigator Jedfal was getting impatient, obviously under pressure from higher up to get the engineering crew up to orbit on schedule. If things didn't work as planned this time, corners would be cut, and the launch escape system would be disabled. With the relative reliability of the RLV spaceplane, it had always been seen as something of a luxury anyway.

    A luxury, at least for the investigators and committee members who would never have to ride into orbit in the belly of a spaceplane themselves.

    That's where I came in.

    Against all odds, I had scrounged my way to Tanegashima, hitching rides on old oil-burning airships. I had earned my passage by pulling engineering duties in conditions of dubious safety offered by even more dubious employers. When I had arrived in the great Pacific city, I had made my way straight to the seediest suburban caves I could find. There, in exchange for some basic maintenance services, I had struck a deal with the mortician of a small clinic who happened to have what I needed: a new identity.

    Senior Technician Kerski had been a poor soul who had emigrated from Eastern Europe and worked for half of his life at the nuclear power station of a major coastal settlement. He had then gone back to school and had managed to fulfil his childhood dream of flying as a test-technician for RATO systems at the Tanegashima Aviation Company. The rockets he worked on had significantly improved the payload capacity of TAC's turboprop aircraft when they had to fly out of challenging hot-and-high airports, such as Xichang.

    Unfortunately for Kerski, his dream had come true all too literally one winter afternoon. A test article had fired accidentally during a walk-around inspection, precisely at the moment Kerski happened to be taking a closer look at the rocket's nozzle.

    Kerski had happened to be somewhat of a loner who had no relatives or close friends, so his crew-mates scraped what was left of him off the tarmac and took him to the clinic, from which he would then make his final lonely journey to the crematorium. Not that there was much left of him to burn...

    Except Kerski never got that far, and thanks to the shady dealings between the mortician and myself, he made a miraculous recovery and was discharged from the clinic just forty-eight hours later, with a clean bill of health.

    The rest had been easy. Madang Space Centre welcomed new recruits with open arms and Kerski was an ideal candidate for the asteroid mining programme. The fact that his identity papers were slightly charred and that the Kerski in the photograph looked a little different from the one who presented himself at the job interview was overlooked.

    Extensive experience with nuclear reactors: check. Proficiency with rocket propulsion systems (despite the odd mishap...): check. He was no youngster, so he only just clawed his way through the physical tests, but he made up for this by unexpectedly proving to be much more at ease than his peers during microgravity training on board the vomit comet.

    That is how I, Kerski not-Camwise, made it to the top of the list. I would be going back to space soon, and in this damned capsule with its abort system I'd been asked to try and fix.

    I'd attempted to recalculate the capsule's mass distribution and make sure the combined thrust from the four rockets was aligned with its centre of gravity. I'd checked and re-checked the firing mechanism to make sure that the thrusters were lighting simultaneously. Without a complete redesign of the system, there was nothing more that I could do.

    “Stand by to commence test on my mark...” I said nervously into the portable radio.

    “Copy, ST.”


    The spaceplane's cargo bay doors burst open and there was a loud detonation followed by an explosion of movement. The OUV leapt into view, accelerating straight upwards on four spears of fire pouring from the stubby nozzles that protruded from the bottom of the crew cabin.


    About two hundred metres up, the abort rockets cut off with a bang and the OUV reached the top of its ballistic arc a few moments later.


    The parachutes blossomed as planned and the capsule drifted to a gentle landing on the edge of the runway, well clear of the spaceplane.


    I suddenly realised that I could breathe once more.

    Mersy clapped me on the shoulder. “Well, that's settled. You 'ave yer abort system,” he said with a false cheer that meant he really didn't care, and turned to leave.

    I stared at the OUV thoughtfully, mulling over what I'd just seen. “The abort engines aren't powerful enough...” I said, thinking aloud.

    “Wha' were that, Kerski?”

    I realised that Mersy had heard me, and cleared my throat. “Their thrust is too low. A successful static test is one thing; pulling a capsule free from the cargo bay of a vessel that is breaking up at hypersonic speed is entirely another.”

    Mersy stared at me suspiciously. “Wha' der you ken 'bout hypersonic breakups?”

    More than you can possibly imagine... I nearly replied, but instead I held my tongue, dropped my gaze and resumed being Kerski.

    “'This ain' no time for a redesign, man. That capsule is goin' ter space in a week, wether yer on board or no,” Mersy called over his shoulder as he rushed back towards the space centre and the comfort of his office.

    I watched him go with relief. So far, no-one I'd met had recognised me for who I really was. A couple of weeks ago, I'd caught a fleeting glimpse of the familiar figure of Froemone disembarking from the hypersonic flight in from Tanegashima. Fortunately, our paths had not crossed during his inspection of the proceedings here in Madang. My cover was still intact.

    And Mersy was right anyway. Launch escape systems be damned, I just want to get back to space.

    I certainly don't belong on this planet any more.

    YEAR 14, DAY 32. CAMWISE.

    I had vowed never to leave Earth horizontally again, yet there I was, once again trapped inside the cavernous folds of a spaceplane cargo bay.


    The ascent was mercifully short. I closed my eyes and let the feelings wash over me once more. The sickening lurch of take-off and climb out. The steady, inexorable build up of thrust as the craft climbed through the Mach numbers. The brutal kick in the backside that pressed me into the capsule's acceleration couch as the massive dual-cycle engines switched over and the nose lifted again, straining to win its seemingly impossible fight against gravity and reach space.


    RLV had granted me the seven-point-eight kilometres per second necessary to achieve weightlessness. When the thrusting ended, a blissful smile on my lips, I loosened the buckle of my lap and shoulder straps, eager for the manoeuvring to be over and fully enjoy the feeling of microgravity once more.

    The cargo bay door slid open to reveal the pure, brilliant daylight of space, unaltered by the shroud of Earth's atmosphere. I drank it in – the first time in nearly five years.


    I am back. I am home.

    This time, the stay will be short and there is much work to be done before I return to Earth one last time.


    My pilot Jenbles and I are here to assemble the Company's new ship, the NES Prosperity. Once this is accomplished, the first teams of Kerbal engineers will be dispersed amongst the Near Earth Asteroids. I will be on one of those teams.


    Out there in deep space, I will work hard. Be discreet. Prove myself – as I always have – to be quietly competent.


    The Company will learn to count on me. Appreciate the efficient way in which I get things done without complaint. They will entrust me with running tests on their mining equipment, on their landers and their rockets.


    I will watch and learn the secrets of their new generation of nuclear reactors, and how to exploit them to their fullest potential.


    And once they trust me completely, they will then learn who Kerski really is, and I will remind them of what they took from me.

    My life, my family, and my love.

    Then I will make sure that the Chairman and the members of his Board never, ever forget the name Camwise again.

  17. 3 hours ago, tater said:

    Missed a few posts since this thing got pinned---I actually find pinning threads makes me read them less, because it removes valuable information (position showing recent posts).

    I know. Maybe I should subscribe, but subscribing to one's own thread seems.... pretentious.

    But don't worry too much, a gardening thread on a spaceflight gamer's forum is like... dancing to architecture.

    24 minutes ago, tater said:

    Ugh. My son likes to plant marigolds. We have them in planters out front. One is an old, cast iron kettle grill (previous owner left it with the house) that is well off the ground on legs. The marigolds are cut off at the ground... Deer?

    I'm very sorry to hear that.

    Could be deer. My father (who lives in the countryside proper) had to set up an electric fence to protect his garden from the wild boar.

    Uhm... or maybe random spiteful neighbours....?