Cydonian Monk

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About Cydonian Monk

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    Space Monk

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  • Location Houston, TX, USA
  • Interests Model Railroading (Operations), Languages, Space Stuff, Engineering

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  1. Forgotten Space Program

    Haven’t seen that one! Sounds like it must be part of the Leviathons DLC, which I’ve only barely played. I still haven’t even bought Synthetic Dawn.... I’ve been stuck in CK2 and HOI4 too much to really have time for Stellaris. [Last time I played a “full” game of Stellaris, one of the civs died because they built Dyson Spheres in half their systems (before that was limited to 1-per-civ), and then lost the other half of their systems in a war.]
  2. THE CAMWISE LOGS - "I hope you packed a change of pants."

    In background like we’re talking about? No. Closest thing I’ve seen was a slow-burn mod for solar sails; not sure whatever became of that. kOS programs will only operate on vessels that are “loaded” in the scene, at least as far as I’m aware. You can run a kOS program on a vessel that’s not the active one, again provided it’s not outside of physics range. I’ve done that in RSS many times (some of them accidentally).
  3. THE CAMWISE LOGS - "I hope you packed a change of pants."

    I think in the case of these many-hours-long burns that if you prove it’s mathematically possible and that your ship has enough fuel to do it, then it’s perfectly ok to subtract the resources you would’ve used and place yourself in the orbit you would’ve been in. It’s really just a mathematical exercise at that point anyway. Now if you’re using a random failures mod.... Not sure how to reconcile that. Roll a die? BTW - I quite like the dirty and worn out spacesuit in this episode.
  4. Or: “Hey, how big can we make a dish? And still get it into orbit?” That’s one big dish. Presumable HANDSOMELY here isn’t another mission name acronym. Don’t know what glitch your tempest took the form of, but it was quite nice to leave you a probe that would work as an interplanetary deep space relay. I half expect BARIS to put up a stop sign and say “hey now, not so fast.”
  5. Forgotten Space Program

    I never established whether they lived or died. Presumably they didn’t have magic EVA helmets on, so..... <F> Thanks! That idea unlock thing felt strange when it was added to the game, and in need of an explanation I just decided to roll with the 2001 references. Thanks! It’s a strange place, and I felt it needed a change from the “we think it’s pollen” flavor text the game wants you to buy in to. I mean - how would kerbals know? They originally thought it was an actual speck of pollen on the telescope. Maybe I got a bit lucky, but I think that bug has been fixed (at least in the base game). It was a super annoying one though. Wow, that’s perfect. I think I know where the artistic inspiration for Pol came from now. No deep back story, and Gambler 13 isn’t likely to appear again. Just a random one-off bit of weirdness. I figure it’s been in the vicinity of that monolith long enough for things to... develop. Maybe it’s the monolith’s pet? MET for the Gambler probes is somewhere near 36 years. (Launched May 8th, 2014.) They were the last full series of probes I launched before biomes were added to the game, so there’s 1 or 2 of them on every body in the Kerbol System. They were followed by the ABISS probes - All Biomes In Stock System (or Automated Biome Independent Science Station or somesuch) - though when those were launched only Duna, Kerbin, Kerbin’s moons, and Eve (?) had biomes.
  6. Forgotten Space Program

    As of today, the Forgotten Space Program mission report has been running for two years (and one day, because I'm running late). Two years is an incredibly long time, more than 5% of my life. This year has been unexpectedly busy and distraction-filled, so the pace is nowhere near what it was two years ago. I landed the crew on Vall on the 12th of February and returned them to orbit on September 15th; and didn't post this until now, the 3rd of December (or the 4th, because of course it's late). So it really hasn't been two years - just sixteen or so months with a bunch of dead air shoved in the middle. This likely wouldn't still be a going concern if I didn't have readers. So to preface this 91st post I'll say thank you, and I hope you enjoy. ---- Exit Vall, Stage Outwards It was a simple matter to bond the two Sulphurs together, a procedure both Thomlock and Gletrix had done hundred of times by now. They docked the "rescue" shuttle to the business end of their lander, more to save themselves from running fuel between the two than for any other reason. A small amount of monopropellent was moved into the Sulphur 5, just in case they'd need it, and then the disulphide boosted itself into a higher orbit. The ascent from Low Vall orbit was the opposite of the descent. They climbed into a much higher yet eccentric orbit, altered their orbital plane to match that of their fuel can, and then dropped down to rendezvous with it. This process took several hours, but saved a considerable amount of fuel. Thankfully the fuel depot was in exactly the same orbit where they'd left it. (Nothing is absolute in this universe, and there was always the possibility that whatever accident had claimed the rest of the Potassium 3's cargo would have returned and finished the job.) In absence of a source of electricity its onboard computers had once again died, but unlike before it had not started into a dangerous tumble. The crew transferred fuel into the two Sulphurs just as soon as they'd docked. Macfred ran an inventory of their fuel reserves once everything was settled. As suspected, they would have enough fuel to visit both Pol and Bop. Enough even to land on both, and maybe bring back some samples. Tylo orbit was out of the question (even a very high orbit requiring a low-energy capture), so they would at most visit four of Jool's moons. Their mission had only been designed to land on three of them, and they'd lost one of their fuel depots early after arriving at Jool. All things considered they were doing quite well. A quick review of the orbits of their target moons led them to choose Pol as their next visit. Traveling to the outermost known moon of Jool required a small plane change, a bit of time, and for them to take their fuel depot with them. They would not have enough fuel to return here, top off, and then go to Bop. It also required one of the shuttles having its engines pointed away from the rest of the stack, a maneuver which Gletrix completed while the others were resting. Seven days later they made their escape burn, leaving the icy moon of Vall behind them forever. -- Pol-italicized Pol-lution It first appeared as a dark spot against the backdrop of stars. Thomlock wasn't even sure what he was seeing, but the ship's computer was convinced a small moon was exactly where he was looking. Small being the operative word, less a moon, more an unexpected bit of matter expelled by one of Jool's mighty belches. As this speck caught up to them, it took on the features typical of an airless moon - crisp shadows, areas of absolute darkness with ridges illuminated inside them, a dull shade of emptiness, et cetera, et cetera. Yet this was a strange moon. It was a dark brown color, at least from the first glance. Rather difficult to spot, such a low albedo and its dull, humorless tone. Soft against the universe, sharp against itself. And the closer they got, the more Thomlock could swear it was green. And brown. And green again, just not a healthy green. Green the shade of a morning following a late night on the town. And strangely lumpy, too. This was no moon, it was a disgusting blob of kraken disgorgement. Disturbing enough even to take away his appetite. Their capture burn was considerable for such a small lump - 403 meters per second. This would place them into a relatively tame retrograde orbit, inclined 175 degrees against normal. The math at this excretory speck was rather kind to them at least, their final orbital velocity only a quarter of that on approach. It would've used more fuel to enter an inclined prograde orbit than it would to just burn from their present situation. Not that their inclination mattered anyway - the Calcium survey had identified only two anomalies on the moon, both near the equator. One was an unknown device broadcasting as a flag, the other an object of super-dense matter most likely made of exorem; another monolith. The crew agreed the likely monolith was the more interesting target; the flag would be a nice alternative, but unlikely to reveal anything of importance. They already knew kerbals had landed here. It was Gletrix's turn as lander pilot, so Thomlock found a comfortable chair in the lower cabin and let her take the controls. It was a simple job, not really befitting of her masterful skills, but this and Pol were the only moons left to land on. He wondered if perhaps he shouldn't have let her land on Vall so he could instead take one of these easy ones, and then remembered she had piloted the Aluminium down to Laythe entirely alone. Even with his two landings she would come out numerically ahead, and she had the most dangerous of the landings all to herself. Their chosen landing site wasn't exactly in the safest of neighborhoods. Their anomaly was resting atop the ridge one of the excreta's many lumps. To land near it they would either need to land directly atop the ridge, or come to rest on a somewhat unconventionally steep slope. The low gravity wouldn't tip their lander, but there was a chance it might slide down the hill away from them. They had no idea what the surface of this speck was made of. The landing became more interesting when they discovered the entire moon was covered in strange, spiky mounds. Towers of muck, reaching outwards to spread their disease to the void. Small volcanos of puss, congealed into oddly shaped towers. Thomlock's stomach turned. It was in that moment he had an epiphany. "Hey kid," he motioned to get Macfred's attention. "I've got this great idea for launch clamps." "Yeah?" "Yeah. We'll make 'em bigger. And taller. They'll work just like the old ones, but they'll be blue instead of red. And big. You should wire this back to Kerbin so they can get started on it." "I'll get right on that." Of course he didn't move, but went back to looking out of the window. Figures. They'd listen to Thomlock when he had an idea for an aircraft, or some new spacecraft, but individual parts? Not so much. (Little did he know a random intern had the exact same thought back on Kerbin. He ran to his supervisor with the idea, who then entered into discussions with Wernher up in orbit. They both agreed that, yes, they could make larger launch clamps. And maybe they should paint them blue instead of red. For reasons. The intern would go on to be just another worker bee while his boss moved onwards up the ladder.) The anomaly turned out to be further down the slope than they originally thought, and Gletrix had to make a last minute belch from the engines to dodge two pillars of puke. The Sulphur landed, or Thomlock thought it did, then started going up again. An RCS burst sent them back to the surface, which they yet again missed. He could hear Gletrix softly utter a curse in the cockpit before cutting the engines. They stuck the next landing. Stuck directly into the goopy, disgusting surface. The cockpit and all of their windows were facing uphill and away from the anomaly, so at first they had no idea what they had found. Agake slinked off to take her usual readings and do the "landing science" while the rest got their bearings and suited up for the EVA. No doubt several of the reports Agake was taking made reference to the odd composition of their new home. A spiky, sickly colored, disgusting little moon. In regular succession, and without fail, each of them climbed out of the cockpit, let go of the ladder, and tumbled backwards to the surface. As then, as each got to their feet and slopped the strangely adhesive dust from their suits, they noticed the monolith. The dark green monolith. Thomlock could've sworn it was singing to him. Agake wandered off towards their alien discovery when Macfred reminded them of the proper ritual - the flag planting. And so they begrudgingly held their excitement for the monolith and fought back waves of nausea over the surface while Agake inserted their marker of success into the soft rumination. "And so, the crew of the Sulphur 5 arrived here to find a mysterious green box." She used the force of jabbing the flag into the ground to vault over it, fire up her EVA pack, and then jet away towards the monolith. "Let's go see what it is!" Before long they were all four standing on it, poking at it, or otherwise bothering it in ways that future generations would find improper. Thomlock couldn't place his finger on it, but something about the monolith seemed familiar. Was it the tune it was singing? It wasn't really singing, not audibly, not on the radio, but when you were in its presence you felt like it was singing. It was a feeling so impossible to describe that he thought it best not to mention to the others. Surely they felt it too. Why had he thought of launch clamps when they got close to it? Why had that thought even occurred to him? He didn't care about launch clamps. Was this part of the park's control equipment? Or was this The Machine? Their ever vigilant scientist tired of the strange green construction first. According to the Calcium's scans there was another biome nearby, and she wanted to gather samples. Macfred agreed, and so Agake jetted over the ridge while they continued to gawk and meditate on the meaning of the word SQUAD. She was back before they even noticed. "It felt lonely over there," Agake said on her return. "Over away from the monolith. There was a distinct point where the spires of gunk stopped, or appeared to stop, but otherwise the surface was the same. Just... lonely. There I was, looking out into this great empty plain and I felt nothing. Nothing at all. It was very strange." After the last several munths Thomlock wasn't sure what "strange" meant, but he nodded anyway. The Sulphur's computer blipped at them as they were climbing back inside. Another anomaly had been detected by the Calcium during their EVA, and this one was moving. Moving very slowly that is, but it was metallic and it was just over the hill from the anomaly, making it only that much more suspicious. Were they being followed? Was this some alien spy? They scrambled to their sets while Gletrix fired up the engines, none bothering to remove their EVA suits. She hit the thrusters so hard giant globs from Pol's surface shot up, some sticking to the rear of the craft. It was just a quick hop - up, a short burn sideways, and back down. The first they saw of their spy was a flash of sunlight reflecting off of some unknown surface. And then again. Gletrix brought the Sulphur in low and came to a hover. Familiar shapes formed as they descended - legs, solar panels, an engine. This was some sort of old probe, and it was skidding down the side of one of Pol's many ridges. Occasionally it would encounter some elastic lump and rebound into the void, only to come down softly shortly after and again continue its slide. It showed no signs of stopping. Thomlock tapped his suit radio and addressed the crew. "We're never going to catch it like this." He unbuckled his seat, grabbed his EVA pack, and drifted towards the rear docking port. "Gletrix, hold off on the main engines for a couple seconds while I slip out of the rear airlock. I'll head down and hold on to it while you find a place to land." "Are you out of your mind?!" "Yeah, maybe." He kicked open the docking port, venting the rear cabin's atmosphere with it. The force of the decompression shot him towards the surface and the probe, and most likely boosted the Sulphur 5 back towards orbit. From the corner of his eye he saw a glob that had been stuck to the docking port shoot off into the distance, never to be seen again. One less unwanted surface sample to worry about. The rest of the crew landed some distance down the slope while he wrestled with the probe. It was a strange craft, not an entirely unfamiliar design, and it appeared to still have a small electrical charge. He had no idea what had set it to bouncing and sliding, and there were no obvious signs of damage. Perhaps it had been bounding around this tiny mound of waste for many years, having never completely landed. Or maybe their own landing had disturbed it, one of their bounces sending this probe upwards and away. They would never know. He grabbed at the legs with his left hand and used his right to jet down to the surface. Even then, with him holding it, dragging it backwards, the ancient probe continued its slide. He was just dragging more of the gelatinous surface along with it. He gave his jetpack a quick burst, hopped over to the downhill side, and leaned in. Put his back into it, put his mittens against it, pressed with his EVA pack, planted his feet firmly in the muck. Finally it stopped. "That's quite a prize you've got there, you old kerb." He looked up to see Macfred in front of him, space wrench in hand. "How about we take a look inside this thing, hmm?" Thomlock pushed away and motioned towards the stilled beast. "Be my guest, kid." There wasn't much to the small probe, just a simple fishbowl filled with various gizmos, some lights, and lots of batteries. The two goo containers on its side were empty, the goo having long ago made their escape. The probe core appeared to have had a small reaction wheel, but some unknown force had robbed it, wrenched it free. Perhaps it fell off while bouncing around, perhaps the goo took it with them. Who knows. Despite their best efforts they were unable to bring the probe back online. And forcing the antennas open did not result in radio contact. Eventually Macfred closed the probe's hatch, put the bolts back in place, and declared it a lost cause. Thomlock ran his mittens over the builder's plate, but couldn't scrape enough of the heavily encrusted Pol Glop off to make out a name. "It doesn't look like any of the other probes we've found," he said while glomping back to the Sulphur with Macfred. "Then again, the probes we found on Laythe weren't of the same design either. Just lots and lots of different yet similar things, scattered into places where they shouldn't be." "Too bad we can't take it to Laythe orbit and give it a closer examination. Or maybe pack it away for the return to Kerbin." "No, we've done enough of that. Enough dragging these old things about. This is where it belongs. It's an artifact now, a sort of flag, a totem sent by some madkerb and forgotten on the surface of this krakens-forsaken moon for the rest of eternity. Let's get out of here." And with that the muck spires of Pol were behind them. The other flag on the surface wasn't interesting enough to warrant another landing, and Agake managed to gather samples and data from all but the most inaccessible of Pol's biomes. They rendezvoused with the their traveling fuel depot, topped off their tanks, and made their way to Bop. -- Much later, back on the surface of Pol, the Gambler 13 probe blinked to life. It gave its landing gear a quick twitch, and then bounded once more into the void. It had no idea why those strange green creatures were, why they had held it down, why they were so interested in it. It had been a scary few minutes as they dug around inside of it and pulled on its ears, but now they were gone and it was free once more to stroll about on the surface of Pol. Wheee! <Poing!> Freedom! --
  7. So what song is stuck in your head today?

    Well, uh... It's a chantey, so of course it's an ear worm. They're designed that way. Sometimes they dig so deep that you can feel yourself dragging a boat up the Volga with the rest of your team. And just when you think you've heard the last of it... ещё да раз.
  8. Forgotten Space Program

    Sometimes it’s the only option. Don’t know how many times I’ve done it in the past. Just part of what makes KSP KSP. Thanks!
  9. Forgotten Space Program

    Late Departure Thomlock's story of distant Espadarte ran late into the day. And in Geltrix's opinion it was stretching plausibility much too thin. Portals? Ok, maybe. He'd obviously gone _somewhere_. Unless he'd suddenly become the elite of all hide-and-seekers in the shortest time ever he had not been on this moon. Yet portals to a distant star system? Where their supposed creators had originally lived, and lived long enough to spawn this infinite Machine? (And not just any machine, mind you, but The Machine.) The tale had the same edge to it as the stories told by those among the "space mad" kerbals. And that wasn't a good thing. The worst part was he offered no explanation as to why. Why Thomlock? She guessed perhaps that part was obvious; he was the only living kerbal this Albro character could relate to. Yet why? Why did his old friend decide to whisk him away? Just to have a brief chat? To catch up on the times? To reveal the dark underbelly of existence and send him back with only vague promises? Nonsense. Something was missing. Thomlock slipped outside to inspect the Sulphur and prepare for launch. They were several hours from leaving Vall, but their window opened long after sunset. Now was the time to do anything that required sunlight. Any of them could have taken the chore, technically it was Macfred's job to do the inspection, but when Thomlock offered they all agreed. He was, after all, an equal member of their crew, and qualified to do all three of their jobs. And they had quite a few things to discuss about him. Agake wasted no time, broaching the subject almost before the hatch was closed. "Something doesn't add up." "And here I thought I was the only one." Macfred shook his head. "No, I agree with her. Something is missing. The story was lucid, Thomlock seems to be in good spirits and fully cognizant. I just, I don't know. There's something." They watched through the cabin windows as their now strangely alien crew mate bounced between the Sulphur's main engines. "I'm sure if it's important he'll tell us. It's not like Thomlock to hold back." "Ok, so maybe he's hiding something. What? And how do we coax it out of him?" "Maybe we don't. At last not until we're on our way back to Kerbin. Though depending on what it is he may not even tell us then." "You don't think it has something to do with The Forgotten, do you?" "No, Agake, I don't. They're weird in their own right, but I think if we were about to head back into a den of vipers he'd at least tell us that much. Whatever's going on, it'll just have to wait until we're home. Home. Free again, if only for a few moments. Gletrix rubbed at the base of her collar, the bothersome and uncomfortable thing that it was. The mere mention of Kerbin was enough to remind her of the days when she had been free of that annoying helmet ring. Had it really been four years? No, couldn't be. "So now the important question," she gave the collar a quick twist to adjust it, a bit of a fidget, "do we let Thomlock pilot us back to orbit? Or should I do it?" "You're the only other pilot here. What do you think? Is he fit to fly?" "I ain't no doctor, chief." She'd hoped Macfred had already decided for her; it certainly wasn't a decision she relished making. "I mean he seems to be all here. The story might be strange, and maybe it's all true, but he didn't obviously break from the experience." A quick glance outside revealed a remarkably spry kerbal, still bounding about on the ice. "And he hasn't lost any of his motor functions. I guess he'll be ok? Who knows. I can always take over the ship using the terminal here in the cabin if something goes wrong." "Hopefully that won't be necessary." From there the chatter degenerated into the usual smalltalk; Agake grumbling about her lost bet, Macfred zoned out and scanning through radio frequencies. Thomlock burst through the airlock shortly thereafter, announcing his intention to take a good, long nap until they were ready for launch. She hadn't realized it, but she was rather tired as well. And so she curled into a ball in her seat and drifted off to sleep. -- She awoke to the rattle of her seat's harness. The ship had shuddered, most likely caused by the engines spooling up. Someone had strapped her in while napping; she hadn't even noticed. She must have been far more exhausted than she realized. A strange kerbal blinked at her from the other side of the window; it took a few seconds to recognize her own reflection. Groggy. These cold dark mornings were not all they were cracked up to be. A quick shake of her head and she was awake, though koffee would be the best fix. Thomlock's voice boomed into her helmet speakers, and now she was really awake. "Ok kiddos, say goodbye to Vall." The sunlight was gone, its timid warmth no longer brightening the icy plains. Launching from the darkness, in the darkness, into yet more darkness. As was only right and proper. It was a strange phrase that, burned into their minds through some shadowy indoctrination, yet so perfectly fitting for their space agency. Half of everything happened in the dark, most of it forgotten before the next sunrise. Her still sleepy brain registered the flash of the engine lights before it felt the shudder. The ice was briefly illuminated in an unnatural warm glow, a cloud of vapor spreading out in their wake. And then they were away, led willingly into the dark by a twice dead kerbal. What could possibly go wrong? The g-forces were nice; enjoyable even, after so many days in the lower gravity of Vall. Everything was pulled along one vector, backwards. She only noticed the pitch over maneuver because Tylo slipped out of her view. Tylo, the only moon of Jool they wouldn't land on. They weren't even planning to fly by the moon, unless it was in a position copacetic to their destination. Disappointing, somewhat, but when they left Kerbin the agency lacked the resources and the tech to land them safely on Tylo and return them to orbit. Heck, they weren't even sure they could get them back to Kerbin. It's just that Jool 4 just doesn't have the same ring to it. Jool 5 was where it was at, what all the cool kerbals talked about. Yet she was getting way ahead of herself. They'd only landed on two of the moons, and as impressive as it was to be the first kerbals to land on Laythe, a Jool 2 was only half of the accomplishment of a Jool 4. Half the number of service ribbons, too. Thankfully she had secured that "first to land on Laythe" achievement alone, quite likely the last kerbal to ever do so. So maybe she wouldn't hit all five, but she would still be first. And possibly last. Good times. And then the engines cut out. Or... not so much cut out as sputtered out. Two completely different sounds, and any kerbal would recognize the difference. One was good, the other was "uh oh, what now?" Even a mechanically disinclined scientist such as Agake would know the difference. One is a sharp jolt, the other is a series of uncomfortable jolts. Sometimes followed by a kerbin-shattering kaboom. Gletrix only realized the RCS was firing after the main engines went silent. A strong hiss as the tanks vented into the rear jets. Not a good sign. "T? How we doing up there?" Silence for a few seconds. Too many seconds and too much silence. "Don't you worry about us, I'll get us back into orbit. Just a bit more. A bit more." And then the RCS sputtered out. Macfred chimed in from below. "Was that the last of the monoprop?" "Nope, there's still some in our EVA packs." Gletrix heard the latches of Thomlock's harness clang off of the console before she saw him drift out of the seat. "We'll make orbit, even if I have to get out and do it the old fashioned way." He spun around to face her as he pulled his EVA suit on over his flight suit. "Which is what I'm going to do. Get out and push. It's the kerbal way." He zipped up the thick EVA suit and started pulling the straps tight. "You might want to bring the other Sulphur down to meet us, just in case something goes wrong." "Shouldn't we wait until we're in orbit?" Macfred floated forward to help Thomlock with his suit. "If something goes wrong we won't make orbit. There's enough oomph in our packs to get the four of us into a safe orbit without the shuttle, but if we lose the ship we lose the remote controls to the other Sulphur. I don't need to run the number to know we'll never make it into a higher orbit and change planes on our EVA packs alone." "Yeah. What the kid said." They had a point. She fired up the remote console and brought the other shuttle online. It didn't take long to get a rendezvous plotted and programmed into its flight computer. It wasn't ideal, the maneuver required three burns to reach them, but they'd at least live long enough to get to the other Sulphur. Even if that rendezvous was the hard way; in an EVA suit. And on the dark side of the moon, because fitting and right and proper and all that joy. They weren't particularly short of orbit anyway, close enough they could've vented the shuttle's atmosphere and made it into a safe orbit. They might have even technically been in orbit anyway, with their apoapsis near 17km and their periapsis well above 2km. Probably not high enough to miss the icy moon's many ridges, and she'd rather not find out through field testing. A quick mental check of the numbers and she was pretty sure one jetpack's worth of monoprop would be enough. Their periapsis crept further upwards the longer she watched. She hadn't even noticed Thomlock slip out of the front docking port, and the tiny fraction of a G from his EVA thrusters was barely enough to cause the debris floating around the cabin to move. Yet move they did, if slowly. The numbers crawled away from their likely doom and towards a dark conference with Sulphur. 3km. 4km. 5km. And on. Just then the other Sulphur performed its first burn, kicking into a higher orbit. There it would then commit its plane change, burning however many degrees it needed to align their orbits. She watched the telemetry to make sure everything was going as planned, and her heart almost stopped when the feed cut out. "Connection Lost." What? What!? Oh, of course, there were only so many options for data relays at Vall, and their relay had just drifted out of sight under the moon. This was why the craft were equipped with programable flight computers. "I'm back. Miss me?" Agake groaned from the lower seats as Thomlock made his way inside. "Not that line again." He was done? Already? Gletrix tuned them out and looked back at the numbers. Orbit. He'd finished the job while she was obsessing over the other shuttle. It was a good burn he'd just performed, and close to her projection. She'd need to make a tweak to the other Sulphur's program once it matched their inclination, but it was workable. Assuming the Sulphur ever came back into... no, there it is. "I'm back." Contact. "Miss me?" Maybe. A couple orbits and some strange maneuvers later and they were set. The two shuttles would drift toward each other in the dark, and just when everything seemed like it would be forever in that abyss, the sister Sulphur would shine like a gemstone in the candlelight. "Precision." Macfred drifted into the upper cabin just as the Sun crossed Vall's horizon. The Sulphur 3 was drifting in the void above them, station keeping a little over a hundred meters away. It had finished its rendezvous in the dark, matched orbits, and was now awaiting their arrival. All without direct control from a kerbal. Strangely independent, these machines they had built. Fill them with a program and along they would run, reacting to stimuli, putting on a good show, entertaining the crowds. "Just like fine clockwork. Nice job." Was he talking to her? Was he commenting on her thoughts? Had she been talking aloud? Nonsense, of course he was talking about the rendezvous. "Thanks." She closed the remote control terminal and unlatched her seat harness. "I'll head over to the other shuttle and get us docked up. It'll be easier from over there, hands on the actual controls instead of a radio link. Shouldn't take too long." Macfred and Agake helped her into her EVA suit while Thomlock nursed the reaction wheels to hold their orientation. They were almost out of this mess. Just a short walk, a quick docking, and back up to the fuel tanker they'd go. Then maybe they'd get to knock two more moons off of their list. Jool 4, here they come. Hopefully. Just this short walk. Nothingness below, nothingness above, two islands of life between a vast nothing. Short walk. Right. Space. It was good to be back, back out amongst the dust and micrometeorites, separated from certain death by only a thin layer of cloth. One speck of dust would tar through that layer and through her and out the other side before her brain would even register it. No, shake that away, she had a job to do here. Space. It was good to be back. It was good to have something to do again. It was good to not be bored. This was never boring. It was just a short walk. A stroll down to the corner to fetch a bus and bring it to meet another bus. She pushed off of the Sulphur 5 and kicked her way into the void. Floating through the endless nothingness above an icy prison. She was alone again. The last time she felt this alone was during the descent to Laythe. The Aluminum, a good craft, but if something had gone wrong.... She spent several minutes there, completely alone, on the surface, the furthest kerbal from home. Her survival was dependent entirely on the other three members of their crew. (And Jeb.) They had to land nearby and "rescue" her from that surface. If they missed, she could at least fly out to meet them. Unless they had missed so badly they ended up in the ocean. They could have left her, aborted the landing, gone back home or out to Vall or even Eeloo if they were so inclined. Yet of course they wouldn't. And they didn't. They weren't robots, they weren't executing some program. They were kerbals. Would one of these Sulphurs rescue the other if it was falling to a certain death? Had it? No. What if it had been programmed to.... She reached out and grabbed the ladder of the Sulphur 3. The sudden transfer of momentum caused the shuttle to fire its RCS jets, a program taking over to rescue itself. She almost lost her grip thanks to that hard burst from the shuttle, but she held on. Her eyes turned towards the stars, temporarily mesmerized by the nothingness. Was she programed to hold on? Had some machine whispered that in her ear? No. A star in the Cloud of the First Kerbals constellation caught her eye, brighter than the others. Was that where Thomlock had gone? Was that Anzol? She couldn't remember their names, those stars. She wasn't even sure they had names, and if they did who was to say they were the real names? The correct names? What was real anymore? The emptiness, that's what was real. Out here every kerbal is alone. So very alone. Work together or risk slipping into the void, never to be found again. Or be stranded on the surface of some distant moon, or distant planet. The others? The other three? They were entirely dependent on her now. Their shuttle was empty, dry, only two of their EVA packs had fuel. If she left, if she took this shuttle and ran, they would never be able to leave. Trapped here, three frozen kerbals, drifting above a cursed and frozen moon. Would someone, some... thing, program such malice into a kerbal? No, of course she couldn't leave, that was just the darkness talking. And she didn't. She was needed; they were needed; all kerbals were needed. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but at some point they would all be needed for something. She opened the hatch, climbed inside, and took control of the shuttle. She turned off the shuttle's flight computer and set about checking its systems. No more programs, no more robots, and no more hypothetical disasters. It was dangerous enough being out here without imagining more pain on themselves. It felt good to be free of the boredom of Vall's endless ice. She moved towards her friends, off to rescue their stranded little spacecraft. Space. It really was good to be back. -- Navigation: Next Post
  10. Many years ago, back before they moved the Control Center, I used to plant flags in honor of all my lost kerbals in front of said control center. Then after some update all of the flags were teleported *inside* of a craft I had just placed on the launchpad, destroying that craft and killing its crew. I don’t plant memorial flags anymore.
  11. Forgotten Space Program

    An update: Sometimes when life gets busy, it gets so overly busy that it sucks the oxygen out of the room and leaves nothing for anything else (or some other metaphor that works). This has been one of those months. Thankfully things are slowing down now (or appear to be). And we get a couple of days for holiday this week in the U.S., so I’ll hopefully find some time where I can sit down, relax, and get back to kerbal and writing about kerbal. So the next post (or next several posts) should start flowing again in a few days. I hope. What a year. At least it’s been interesting. Cheers.
  12. Photography Showcase Thread!

    Trees, and lots of them. (2017-08-15, White River, WA, US.)
  13. How you doing?

    Meh. Can’t talk about it for reasons that can’t be talked about, but... Meh. Frustrated? Yes. Disappointed? Maybe. Mostly just... Meh.
  14. Photography Showcase Thread!

    Stars, and lots of them. (2017-08-15, Crystal Mountain, WA, US)
  15. Forgotten Space Program

    It’s from an older version of Tantares.