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  1. "Kerbol is so ...Bright! - and in the beginning there was light, infinite light! And in that infinity how could there not be divinity? And if that divinity was at the beginning of everything, how could there not be divinity *in* everything?!?" So Valentina had answered the reporter's question, and now the press was eating it up. Her cheerful seemingly naive voice giving breath to the channeled hopes of a whole world desperate to explore and learn, and echoing the deepest beliefs of Kerbal kind. Jebediah the veteran test pilot was consciously keeping to the background, allowing the brilliant Academy graduate her chance in the sun. He had not been that way at the start though. In the blockhouse he had walked up to Gene's side as the early count-down checks were made and whispered, "what the hell Gene??" Gene had only spat out "not my call." Jeb was stunned, and ticked- but not for the fact that someone else was going to be the first Kerbal in space. Gene was beyond ticked, gone somewhere into that broad plain beyond it where you have to go to to get your job done. The huge stack- far taller than any other rocket they'd yet constructed- had been halfway to the pad when they'd discovered the problem. The probe core wasn't responding. In fact, no-one could find the certification documents from its installation- and the implications of that were just mind numbing. The contract would be in jeopardy, and things were still at the desperate edge in year 3 of the Program. Calls were made to the capital, and discreetly - though loudly - word was passed down that this launch would go forward. So, instead of helping to take notes to write the flight manual, Valentina had climbed into the cockpit with 30 days of hastily assembled supplies taking the place of the loaded dead-weight. Gene now rolled into Mort's office the day after Valentina's recovery- he knew he was coming, so he didn't bother to knock. Not that he would have today anyway. He tossed a handful of papers on Mort's desk as he hung up his phone. "If this happens again I'm quitting Mort. No, I'm not quitting, I care too damn much. But I'll sure has heck not stand for this again! In what was supposed to be our first unmanned test of our orbital capsule, SOMEONE forgot to install the probe core. With 2 hours to go and the rocket rolled to the pad, someone in Civil Authority orders that the launch proceed- which bless her soul Valentina cheerful jumps at! So instead of observing and "shadow piloting" the mission in safety, she flies the mission. She had to manually fly the pod down, because son-of-a-gun it wasn't neutrally Stable! And thank Jool the parachutes were calibrated adequately!" "Mort, we can't let anyone outside this campus run our program!! They give us funds, then shut up and let us work. That's it! That's their deal, and they have to Get that!" Mort looked again at the bristling kerbal standing in front of him. Did Gene have no understanding of how real world functioned? Those with funds were far and few in between. And those with funds to spare were even rarer! "Gene, lets assume you repeat what you said right now, albeit in a slightly civilised manner to the Civil Authority committee meeting tomorrow. Lets assume they are genuinely concerned about the safety of their beloved Kerbonauts and vow to take action. Are you with me till now?" "Yes, I am! But thats not the point! Someone has -" "And lets assume they launch an enquiry!" Mort raised his voice."Do you know what they wil find? They will find negligence by the VAB workers, who answer to Werhner! He will be implicated, no doubt. Don't forget, a brilliant rocket scientist he may be, but Werhner still has lots of enemies. Then the fingers will point towards you, dear friend. For you are the de facto leader at KSC. With you and Werhner gone, KSC will detoriate, further giving excuses to the Civil Authority members to cut funding." "Do you think you have a lot of ground to stand on? The KSC is your responsibility! And so are the constituent facilities. Best case, they will ask for your resignation for your incompetency. And worst case, you will be tried in a criminal court for negligence of kerbal life." Gene stood perplexed- "Mort, this can't go on! We can't risk our people like this!" "Of course not Gene. This will not happen again. You will have some words with the VAB workers and Werhner, while I will catch a flight to the capitol and sooth ruffled feathers. Quite a lot of people are upset that we are 'ignoring' safety of our crew. And then, we will forget all about this exchange" His wrath somewhat doused after having been correctly re-directed back at his own house, Gene returned to his own office where he soon after received word of changes to Program procedures. No longer would the engineers and flight directors simply be choosing whatever project or contract they wished over coffee and donuts. Every 6 months there would be a Corporate Ratification And Proposals meeting, at which the Program would lobby for their desired choice of direction, but the final call would come down to what the people would be willing to pay for- civilian oversight, from the finance wing. While swallowing this bitter pill, Gene started collecting the documents he needed to have at hand for his other set of new instructions- to deliver a summary and survey of Program equipment and progress at that first ...C.R.A.P. meeting. ...It was going to be a long night...