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Kerny Kerman's Journal (mission reports from a Kerbal's point of view) [Chapter 82: "Routine burn and a data packet from home"]


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1 hour ago, adsii1970 said:

Hey, folks, I haven't forgotten about you at all. I have all the images I need for the next chapter and am working on the outline now.

The summer was busier than I expected it to be. I did have surgery on my left shoulder and left hand. I am happy to announce I have regained about 85% of the sensation back in my hand. My doctor has told me that as the swelling continues to go down, I might gain even more sensation back.

I also ended up teaching two more classes this summer than what I expected. One of the universities I teach for online had an adjunct quit two weeks into the term. So, I was asked/voluntold that I would pick up the two classes. The extra money was nice but it meant I literally had no free time.

So, now with the fall semester just started, I'm beginning to have a little more free time.


I hope your recovery goes well.

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5 hours ago, adsii1970 said:

Hey, folks, I haven't forgotten about you at all. I have all the images I need for the next chapter and am working on the outline now.

The summer was busier than I expected it to be. I did have surgery on my left shoulder and left hand. I am happy to announce I have regained about 85% of the sensation back in my hand. My doctor has told me that as the swelling continues to go down, I might gain even more sensation back.

I also ended up teaching two more classes this summer than what I expected. One of the universities I teach for online had an adjunct quit two weeks into the term. So, I was asked/voluntold that I would pick up the two classes. The extra money was nice but it meant I literally had no free time.

So, now with the fall semester just started, I'm beginning to have a little more free time.


Ah... well, swift recovery, and, well, we can wait. 



No, not really I can't wait for Chapter 75 :P You know what I mean, though.


And before everyone starts yelling at me, KERBALLING, DON'T PROD THE WRITERS!, that is not what this is meant to be.

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Update: Hey, folks, I've done a bit of re-reading over the past couple of days. I wanted to make sure I didn't create any more lose ends (unintentionally) than I already have. But a few of you made comments that I have just "recently" liked. :) Good stuff.

If you happen to be reading through one of the older chapters and notice issues - misspelled words, misaligned pictures, and font changes, please let me know. I would like to fix as many of them as I can.

The new chapter will be this week - I am shooting for late Thursday evening/night.

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8 minutes ago, adsii1970 said:

I wanted to make sure I didn't create any more lose ends (unintentionally) than I already have.

There're no such things as "lose ends". They are hooks to expand the story on a later opportunity! ;) 

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Moho 33, Y003
Captain, we've achieved orbit."


Chapter 75

We entered orbit around Minmus roughly a day ago. Even though our orbit is now taking us to the dark side of Minmus, I'm excited about the possibilities this mission might bring. Unfortunately, the reason we began this mission did not allow the luxury of time to prepare or to gather the equipment needed to explore the surface of Minmus. I have both Lieutenant Gilti and Ensign Hildi tracking the Minmus lander that has been left in orbit at the end of the last Minmus mission. Commander Karloff and his engineering team have continued to make repairs to the communications system and completing the installation of equipment brought on board during the rushed refit.


Lieutenant Obion has been working closely with me over the last few hours. We were able to find the unidentified alien craft we spotted on our last mission. We are now tracking it; it is in a lower orbit than the Excursion. After we've completed the tasks on Minmus' surface, we will rendezvous with the alien craft. Dr. Zarkov and Gene want us to get within 200 meters and survey the vessel. Dr. Angelo has also asked us to send him any data about its design. He has become obsessed with the alien circular design. Bobak has hinted that our next vessel might feature some of that circular design.

"Captain," Obion quizzed. "What do you think our next mission will be?"

"Lieutenant," I began, "I'm not sure. I'm not even sure when our next mission is. I know that Commander Karloff has already started a new list of changes he wants to do to the Excursion. And Bobak's data packet indicates that even Doctor Angelo wants to complete additional refits, too. But as to when out next mission is, I honestly don't know."

"I see, sir," he replied. "During the next refit, do I have to take leave?"

"No, but it is probably the best time to do so," I said. Then after a few seconds, I thought of more. "If you stayed on board, Commander Karloff would put you to work with the refit and engineering team."

"Well, Captain," he added with a hint of a smile, "I want to learn all I can; I cannot wait to get command of a spaceship."

I didn't have the heart to tell him. His chance at being the captain of a ship was at least four or five years away. And with the Prime Consul restricting space flight to just the range between Kerbin and the Mun, I'm not sure how that will affect the development of space-faring technology. She's already insisting that no additional resources need to be used to develop new technology. We already have the means of reaching the Mun reasonably quick with what we have.

Yesterday's data packet contained a lot of information. While we were still en route to Mimmus, the newest long-range atmospheric craft was being tested. Since the video file of this was released as general knowledge - KDF, I decided to share it with the crew. We discovered that Major Thompberry took an interest in this flight based on some of the rumors he'd heard from the engineering team at New Kerbin City. 





"Now Major Maxey," Thompberry was heard saying, "you be careful. I've heard some things about what's happening near New Kerbin City -- "

"Oh, Thompy, darling," Maxey jokingly replied. "It sounds like you're worried about me. That's so swee -- "

"You, no," he replied.  But this prototype? Just bring it back in once piece."

"Oh, really?" she asked. "Major, you're impossible! But don't worry about the prototype. Lieutenant Megzby is joining me as the flight navigator. And you know how she is..."

"Ah, yes," Thompberry said, laughingly. "She's not into that crazy stuff that you and Captain Jebediah like to do." And with that, he turned and climbed back into the tanker. Maxey watched as Thompberry and the rest of the fueling crew moved a safe distance from the craft.


We heard the craft's engines begin to whine as Major Maxey climbed into the cockpit of the craft. Megzy, obviously already in the craft, called the control tower for permission to taxi to the runway.

"KSC Control, this is Shadowhawk, request permission to taxi --"

"Shadowhawk," Kuzzter's voice could be heard on the audio, "the Old Man says you're clear. Standard flight endurance test course --"

"Roger," this time, it was Maxey's voice over the audio. "We're heading out now. Tell Major Thompberry to keep my mid-day nosh warm."

"Roger," Gene replied. "But he's over here telling me you'll get no such favors. Wait, what was that Major?"

We watched as the new craft taxied to its designated starting point on the space center's main runway. After a brief pause, it was easy to tell the engines were at full throttle. A bluish-white flame could be seen blasting from the rear of the craft's engines.




"Major," we could hear Lieutenant Megzy call out over the audio. "Our airspeed is 173 meters per second. Course change to one-four degrees north in five... four... three..."

"Roger," Maxey responded. "Course correction in two... mark... increasing altitude to one-three-five-zero meters." We watched as the new craft changed its direction and altitude with what seemed to us minimal effort.



"Sparky," Kuzzter's voice could be heard over the audio, "increase your altitude to three-five-five-zero meters and proceed on course." Karloff and I exchanged a quick look, and we both laughed. Maxey's handle was given to her by Thompberry during the pilot's training portion of Kerbalnaut program. I thought it would change after she graduated. Apparently, once the program's training staff has named you, that name never changes.




"KSC Tracking," Maxey called out, "we are at altitude three-five-five-zero meters at an airspeed of three-three-niner meters per second."

"Roger," Kuzzter called out. I couldn't hear the rest of his comments because Gilti, Maxbas, and Karloff were discussing everything from the design to the performance of this new craft. For nearly thirty minutes, we watched the file switch from satellite tracking, chase plane tracking, to cockpit cameras. There isn't any doubt about it. This plane is truly a high-performance machine.

"Captain," Obion asked, "why would they send this video file of a routine test flight of a new prototype?

Before I could begin my answer, the speakers in the briefing room began to sound a warning klaxon. For those trained as pilots in KDF training, we knew what that sound meant. Something had a tracking lock on the plane. Everyone's attention was on the drama playing out on our briefing room screen.

"KSC Tracking," it was Megzy making this call. "Is there something going on in the area -- are those airspace defense kids playing around again?"

"Negative," Gene's voice was unmistakable. "I've been told that there are no airspace defense units deployed right now -- "

"Dammit, Gene!' Maxey cut in. "Something has a lock on us right now --"




"Bug out of there," Gene yelled out. " Maxey, cut out of there! What has that old crazy bat done now?"

"Gene," we could hear the voice of Major Thompberry over the audio. "I wonder if that's the rumor we've been hearing about Prime Consul Katrine --"

"Thompy," Maxey's voice cut in over the audio. "Can you get the Hornet ready for me by the time I get back? I want a closer look at what's --"

"Major," Gene interrupted. "Don't forget, I have not been relieved of my duties by the Grand Committee; I'm still over the missions which launch from this center. Thompberry, get the Hornet ready and load recon package three. If she wants a look, I want it to be a good look."

"Sir," Thompberry shot back, "I agree. I don't like this -- "

"Major," Gene interrupted again. "Before we jump to any conclusions, let's get all the facts. It could just be something Doctor Angelo is testing. It could also be some hardware error within this new craft - what did Harrison call it? Anyhow, we don't know -- "

"Sir, with all respect intended," Thompberry cut in, "I've told you the --"

"Major, see to it the Hornet is ready. That's all!" Gene cut in. It was apparent that Gene was trying to diffuse a difficult situation. And it was evident to me  Gene didn't want to jump to any conclusions against the Prime Consul. He knew that many in the KDF did not trust Katrine.

"Sparky, this is KSC Tracking," Gene calmly said. "Return to KSC. Communications situation violet." Everyone in the KDF knew what that meant. Radio silence once the order is acknowledged.

"Roger, Sparky out." And with that, we didn't hear any communications audio for the next twenty minutes of the video file. Even as the Hornet was taking off from the KSC, there were absolutely no radio communications. What we did see next was the Hornet lifting off the runway at full throttle.




"Hornet mission log, timestamp plus two-five. Testing high definition camera now. Snapshot auto-focus setting." Unlike the prototype craft we had seen earlier in the video file, the Hornet was a one-Kerman craft. And from the previous conversation and the voice, we knew Major Maxey was doing this flight.


We listened as the internal cockpit recorders picked up Maxey's comments. She was still following the communications order for violet, but because of the type of mission, she had to record her observations. "Dropping to altitude eight-two-five meters. Five minutes to target zone."

From the safety of a five-day journey from Kerbin, we watched as the cockpit camera view switched to the reconnaissance camera located within the cargo well of the airframe. Within just a few seconds, we began to hear the klaxon indicating a weapons lock also affixed itself to the Hornet. And there, in the first pictures taken of the area where the lock originated,  I saw what had triggered both aircrafts' warning systems.



"Survey complete. Kerbite excrements!" Maxey's voice expressed the same surprise I was feeling. There, on the mountains to the southwest of New Kerbin City, on the small plateau was the unmistakable silhouette of an airspace defense unit. It was tracking any aircraft which flew near the capital - the city where Prime Consul Katrine was working to establish her own defense force. There was no more speculation. Gene, a general and the officer in charge of all of the Kerbin Defense Forces, had no idea this unit was deployed. There's only one conclusion I can come to - this is the beginning of the Prime Consul's private military.



Getting back to our mission, yesterday, around kerbolrise at the KSC, we approached our destination, Minmus. Because of our arrival angle, we were within the shadow of the small outermost rock orbiting Kerbin.
"Control," I began, "take us into an inclined orbit of four-zero degrees, approach from bearing five-five mark three."

"Aye, sir," Gilti replied. "Course correction made, entering Minmus' sphere of influence." And with that, everyone on board couldn't miss the sound of our RCS thrusters making the slight course corrections to achieve our desired orbit. "Sir," she added, "Setting orbit to five-three-zero-zero-zero meters."




"Captain, we've achieved orbit," Gilti chimed. "It's beautiful! I've forgotten how good it feels to see something so familiar rather than the nothingness of space."

"Yes," Karloff added, "but let's not forget this isn't exactly a sight-seeing mission. We've got a lot of work to do before our mission winds down."

"My thoughts exactly," I began. "But we --"

"Captain," Hildi cut in. "I have a message marked 'priority and classified' for you, sir. I've sent it back to your quarters."

"Thank you," I said. "Commander Karloff, you have the command deck." I didn't wait around for him to acknowledge my order. But this was no ordinary message. It was a classified message and needed immediate attention. When I entered my quarters, I clicked the button on the control panel, and within seconds, it was no ordinary message. It was a flash message.


Until my promotion to captain, I never even heard of any of the classifications for flash messages. Sure, nearly everyone knew of the standard flash message. Then there was green, yellow, red, and blue. Blue is the highest classification for flash messages and means that they are a priority message and their distribution is highly classified.

Our ship's communications systems still have not entirely been restored since the Kerbnet update. This message came through KerbStar, the KDF's newly developed communications platform. And here this flash message was - an example of the new communications technology Doctor Angelo and Doctor Wernher had worked so hard to implement. The flash message's meaning was clear. KerbStar would relay anything dealing with defense issues. All other messages would be sent out by Kerbnet once we were able to reestablish regular communication.   

It was also clear that Karloff and his engineering team were going to take an almost thirty-minute spacewalk. That's what the SW27 meant. And I can practically guarantee Karloff will demand to do it himself since he enjoys spacewalks. But before I could close down my communications panel, another flash message came to my console. But this one bypassed the main ship's communications panel. What surprised me was the format of this latest flash message. It was unlike any I'd seen since joining the KDF.


The eerie pale yellow immediately caught my attention. And within the shadowmark of the page was a logo I'd recognize anywhere. It is the symbol of Section 31. No ranks, no real names, and then I noticed it - my call sign. Sure, during the pilot's training, our names are assigned. There are many like Starfire, Shadowhawk, and even Old Man, which are in standard speak. But my call sign is Khaob. It is from the ancient Kerman language and to be honest, I've forgotten what it means. But I was told by Bobak that Dr. Edmund had chosen my call sign.

All of the Section 31 members who are a part of the Kerbin Defense Forces have a call sign which is from the ancient language. And I noticed that this flash message had to be from Dr. Zarkov. He, besides myself, is the only other member of the Ohoroxtotil capable of sending me a flash text with this classification. And if I remember, his sign actually translates to coyote enchanter or coyote wizard.

Dr. Zarkov's message was clear - review the attached data packet and get in contact with him through a flash message. From what I understand about KerbStar, it uses eleven different frequencies within a tight range to convey data packets, flash messages, and anything else throughout the KDF. All eleven frequencies are focused around one frequency which is simply indistinguishable static, to keep anyone without the proper technology from being able to download and decode the data. And in this very specific flash message, he was setting the static frequency to the upper tier of the KerbStar system. Not even Gene, Bobak, or Katrina would be able to crack this level of security.

The data package is pretty large. I think I'll allow it to finish downloading and go see what progress is being made on the command deck. We've got to rendezvous with the Minmus lander left in orbit before the end of tomorrow if we are going to remain on schedule.




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Yay, they finally achieved orbit! The coasting period between engine burns can seem like forever.

Do I understand correctly that Maxey’s prototype got painted, then she flew back, hopped into the Hornet, then did the recon flight? That part was a little unclear.

It’s very interesting that Kerny is getting Section 31 flash messages now! I half-expected the aliens to crack their code to say hi and see how they’d react..

And I love how Karloff started asking why Kerny is getting data packets about non-mission related events. We all know its for the mission reports but I bet Karloff is getting more curious about why the captain keeps getting passed secret notes in class, so to speak...

And I can see how Dr Angelo would be obsessed by disc shaped craft of late...

Edited by Angel-125
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3 hours ago, Angel-125 said:

Do I understand correctly that Maxey’s prototype got painted, then she flew back, hopped into the Hornet, then did the recon flight? That part was a little unclear.

Yes, that's the idea. I was hoping to get across the point she's mad. In her mind this should never have happened since the only thing that should ever be painted are threats to settlements. And since she's a pilot in the KDF - charged with defending Kerbin...

I am thinking about going in and seeing what I can do to make that a little clearer, but it might happen later in the weekend.

3 hours ago, Angel-125 said:

Yay, they finally achieved orbit! The coasting period between engine burns can seem like forever.

Yeah, it has me thinking of how I actually want to handle the Duna mission...

3 hours ago, Angel-125 said:

It’s very interesting that Kerny is getting Section 31 flash messages now! I half-expected the aliens to crack their code to say hi and see how they’d react..

Yes, these things don't happen too often. And if you notice, it bypassed all the shipboard communications and went directly to his cabin's terminal.

4 hours ago, Angel-125 said:

And I love how Karloff started asking why Kerny is getting data packets about non-mission related events. We all know its for the mission reports but I bet Karloff is getting more curious about why the captain keeps getting passed secret notes in class, so to speak...


4 hours ago, Angel-125 said:

And I can see how Dr Angelo would be obsessed by disc shaped craft of late...


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  • 5 weeks later...
2 hours ago, insert_name said:

Looks like a DC-3 replica, though we may have seen this lane before

Yup, you are right on both. It is a DC-3 replica and it has been seen before... :)

2 hours ago, obney kerman said:


Nope, just a little night flying. But glad you like it.

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  • 2 months later...

Moho 34, Y003
Sir, you have two flash messages..."


Chapter 76

I remember the first time a mission I was on achieved orbit around the Mün. There was a sense of nervousness, excitement, and terror which hit all at the same time. While I've gotten a few more missions under my belt, I still have those sensations. Even when we arrived in orbit around Minmus, I felt the same excitement, nervousness, and terror I experienced with that first mission. I guess Bob was right - achieving orbit around some other object other than Kerbin never becomes business as usual.


"Captain, we're back!" Hildi chimed in. "Sir, it's simply... breathtaking!"

And she was right. Our orbit was approaching the terminator between day and night on Minmus' surface. In another half-hour, we'd begin the procedures to establish a link to the computer on board the lander in orbit. Once we are able to do that, we'll dock with the lander, transfer fuel to it, and begin the descent to the surface.


As our orbit arched closer to the surface of Minmus, I was reminded again of the reasons I joined the Kerbalnaut program. I wanted to be the among the first to walk on the surface of Minmus. Ever since I was a youngling of seven cycles, I wanted to learn what was beyond Kerbin. Already, Kerbal News Network is reporting that my generation of Kermen will be the last to be born underground. The younger generation - those born within the last five cycles, will be what they are calling the split generation - Kermen of the same generation where part were born on the surface and part were born in the birthing units in our underground cities. So much has changed in the last three years.

Now, I am just 4 days away from the beginning of my 34th cycle...

"Sir," Lieutenant Gilti's voice cut through the fog of my mind. "You have two messages incoming. I'm routing them to your quarters."

"Thank you," I said, getting up from the command chair. "Lieutenant Obion, you've got the con."

"Aye, sir!" he exclaimed, gladly taking the command seat.


I arrived to my quarters as the communications panel was beginning to indicate it had received the incoming messages. It was a routine flash message from Gene asking me to include additional information on the next ship's status report. Each report has actually been a little longer and more detailed than the previous one. In addition to crew health, rations remaining, fuel remaining, overall ship status, and mission evaluation, Gene now wants me to include a new section, an engineering report by Commander Karloff. This report will be his recommendations for upgrades to the Excursion and the other vessels which come after her.

The second message was unexpected but not a complete surprise. I opened the message to find a video file from Bob.


In my last communication with Commodore Valentina, she told me to contact you directly and you'd pass the message on to Gene and Dr. Zarkov. Earlier this evening, something happened which I didn't expect. For the third day in a row, we took the snow cat up to the crashed unidentified alien craft. From there, we went to the crest of the ridge and, as we have every trip up here, watched Kerbol begin to set over the horizon.

Today, Jebediah looked at me and said, "Bob, how did I get here?"




Before I could answer, he powered up the snowcat and swung it around, heading back down the slope. He didn't even pause to look at the alien craft. At the base of the slope he turned the snowcat towards the Arctic Research Station.

"Bob," Jebediah began, "how did we get here?"

"Well," Bob answered, half heartedly, "you stole a trainer and decided to fly up here..."


"No, Bob, not that." Jebediah said, followed by a heavy sigh. "How could I get to the point..."

"Jebediah," Bob sighed, "you were under a great deal of pressure. You were the first chosen for the pilot's program. You were the first one to go into a suborbital trajectory, and you were the first to orbit Kerbin. You were also the first to set foot on the Moon."

"But it's nothing I didn't want," Jebediah added. "I just didn't count on..."

"What," Bob asked. "The notoriety ? The pressures of fame? The belief you are so much better than everyone else?"

"Bob, I..."

"Even during our Mün mission," Bob hesitantly began, "you barely let Bill and me do our jobs. You almost caused an incident with docking with the command module --  remember hitting it so hard that it took nearly all the monopropellant to align the two vessels back to optimum position?"

"At the time, I thought it was fun. But now, it is all so..."

"We tried telling you then to calm down, to be a team member instead of having us being your accompaniment." Bob shot back. "You did the same thing over the desert that you did with us. And your niece paid the price for it. Jebediah, someone always pays the price for your stupidity and arrogance."

What happened next took Bob by complete surprise.

"Bob," Jebediah said with a sigh. "Let's go home. I've got to see things through."



"Bob, deploy the stabilizers as I disengage the energizers." Jebediah said. "Please..."

"Sure thing," Bob said with a smile, "Stabilizers deployed. Setting controls for hibernation mode."

"Good idea, Bob," Jebediah replied. "We don't want the snowcat to be totally dead the next time someone comes here."



"Bob, couldn't you have stolen something a little more... adventurous?" Jebediah asked in a joking tone.

"No, Jeb," Bob laughed, "I couldn't. Every other plane was either was for one pilot or was already scheduled for a mission. I was supposed to be teaching first-year pilots how to land it on the Island Airfield and then return to the KSC. But you see how that went..."

"I can only imagine the look on the old Kerman -- Gene's face!" Jebediah added.

We climbed on board the old cargo plane and I couldn't resist, "Jeb, just who's idea do you think this was?"

"You mean, Gene -- ?" Jebediah couldn't believe his ears.

"Yes," Bob replied with a smirky tone. "He knew I was planning to come here and see what you were up to.  So when he approved the training flight, he also told Major Thompberry to fuel the plane to its capacity and to deactivate the automatic communications relays so Katrine couldn't track me."

"When... When were..." Jebediah began to see there was more to this plan. "When were you going to tell me?"

"You never asked until now," Bob said.






"What else are you not telling me, Bob?"

"We're not heading to the KSC right yet," Bob answered back. "My (ahem) orders have always been to get you back to the old space center."

Once the craft lifted off the makeshift ice runway, Bob banked sharply to the west. "We'll be there in about seven hours if we fly straight through."

"So, what's the plan, Bob? Why go to the old space center when we know it's closer to -- "

"Jebediah, I'm not sure what's planned for you," Bob interrupted. "But I was ordered that once you were ready to come back, to take you to the old space center. From there, I will fly back to the KSC alone and you'll remain here. But that's all I know."



"Bob," Jebediah asked, "you're flying without Kerbnet?"

"Jeb, there's a lot that's happened since you've been here." Bob explained. "Kerbnet has been compromised -- "

"Well, what's the plan now?"



"Bob," Jebediah said in a hushed tone after nearly an hour of silence. "Do you have any idea what's going to happen to me next?"

"No, I don't." Bob could tell Jebediah was under the weight of tremendous remorse. "You really put Gene and Dr. Edmund in a tough spot. Now Rayven is the Senior Consul of the Triune Council since Dr. Edmund's death -- "

"What happened to Dr. Edmund?" Jebediah asked in a state of unbelief.

"Jebediah, he's lost." Bob said, holding back his tears. "His plane went down..."




"Bob, let's set her down for tonight. No need us killing ourselves or losing another aircraft." Jebediah said, in almost a near whisper.

"Yeah, Jebediah," Bob replied, "I can barely see anything anyway. Jeb, reach over and deploy the landing gear and turn on the landing spots --"

"Oh, so you're giving the orders now, Bob?" Jebediah said, half joking.

"Yes, I am." Bob added with a stinging reply, "I'm not the one who is the fugitive!"

"Gear is down and activating landing lights now, Bob." Jebediah said without any signs of humor.

"Okay, hold on, Jeb," Bob added, "This will be fun..."



"Uh, Bob," Jebediah exclaimed, "you do realize there... are... aieeee! There are trees out there, right?!"

"Yeah, Jeb, I do. Now be quiet..."

"But there are aieaeee! That was close!

"And we're down! Right among the trees!" Bob shouted with a tone of complete satisfaction and exuberance. 'We're down. Let's power down the systems and call it a night."


After the video feed ended, the remainder of the message file was directed at me.

He just sat there, Captain. For most of the flight, he sat in silence. I've never seen him like this since I met him during the pilots' training course. When it became too dark to navigate by sight, only then did he begin to speak again. It was his idea for us to set down.

"Captain Kerny," Bob directed the remainder of his message to me. "I've told Jebediah that Commodore Valentina wanted me to remain in contact with the KSC and Gene through you since your channel isn't one monitored by New Kerbin City. Commodore Valentina told me to tell you she is still out, awaiting futher orders, whatever that means.

Jeb's been asleep in the cargo hold for the last hour and is unaware I'm sending this communication to you. By the time you get this, we will probably be close to resuming our flight to the old space center. I'm not sure what's going to happen once we're there, but I am supposed to drop him off and head immediately to Tulum Station.

I'm signing off for now, I will get in touch with you when you're back here.

And with that, the communications panel's screen went dark, waiting for my next command. Since we have data link and capture procedures beginning in another five minutes or so, I think I will head back to the command deck.

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1 minute ago, Angel-125 said:

Life happens. I have had little time to mod for the same reason. Nice to see Jeb getting his S together. :)

Yeah, I figured it was time to tie up some lose threads in the story. I've got a few that have been nagging me and need to be resolved. And I think this particular one needs to be resolved soon.

It's been a brutal semester. I now am only teaching at a community college and one university. But last semester, I was at three separate schools teaching five classes. Now, in January, I will still have five classes but only at the two schools. This actually saves me about an hour and a half of travel time a week - something I can definitely use! And as I have more time, I can do more of the things I enjoy.


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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 months later...

Moho 34, Y003 (supplemental)
What awaits beyond this short mission..."


Chapter 77

I still haven't had the opportunity to look at the materials Dr. Zarkov sent up. For the first time since this morning, I'm back in my cabin and preparing for my sleep cycle. There's been a lot to catch up on from the data packets sent from Bobak, Drs. Wernher and Angelo, and of course, a small data packet from Bob.




"Captain Kerny," the voice on the audio-only data file began, "I'm giving you our in-flight update, as you probably expected." Bob added.

We took off this morning right at Kerbolrise on location. I made sure to take off before Jebediah was totally awake. Gods, can the Kerman snore! We're still making good progress on heading to the old space center, the one Gene calls "KSC -2" and should arrive there in about three hours. Once I arrive there, I'm not sure what's going to happen to Jeb. All I know is I am to refuel and head back to the KSC alone in this craft. I'm signing off, now. May the Gods be with you, Kerny.

And with that, the audio file ended. The first file of the data packet from Bobak explained why Gene saw the urgent need to get Jebediah out of the Arctic Research Station. The file contained the operational orders which had been signed nearly a year before Jebediah took refuge there. It seems that an arctic expedition had been scheduled to arrive at the Arctic Research Station just one day after Bob and Jebediah left the station.






The new expedition is to spend one year studying the unidentified alien craft and the surrounding area. It seems that Prime Consul Katrine and members of the Grand Committee are in agreement of the potential for surface settlement near the polar regions of Kerbin. This expedition had a secondary purpose - to survey three possible polar sites for colonial development. The briefing notes Bobak sent in his data packet were pretty routine. By the time of Kerbolset, the first part of the expedition's Kerman had arrived at the station and were already unloading their supplies. By Kerbolrise tomorrow, the transport aircraft would fly back to the KSC and pick up the next round of supplies and Kermen. This first fllight brought another snowcat, three engineers, two scientists, and two pilots - besides the two pilots required to fly the transport craft.





At times I do wonder what it would have been like to explore the recesses of Kerbin. There's so much about our own world we simply do not understand. And certainly, the polar regions are part of the unknown. But when I stop to think about what would be different, I cannot imagine doing anything different than what I am already doing now. When I began my Kerbalnaut training I knew that some day I might command a Mün or Minmus mission. But I never expected to be commanding anything as large as the Excursion. Bobak's data package contained a little more information about an upcoming refit once we return to Kerbin -- whenever that may be.



Earlier today we moved the Excursion into position to make docking with the lander a little easier. It's a little different docking using a computer console than it is using the controls of the lander itself. And normally, either Karloff or myself would handle this kind of docking maneuvers. But today was different. According to the data packet sent up by Bobak, one of the personnel updates is Lieutenant Obion is eligible for promotion. The ranks of the Ground Expeditionary Forces are a little different - in the Navy or Space Corps, his next position would be a lieutenant commander. But within the GEF, his next rank will be captain. No, he doesn't get command of his own ship, but if he were in command of a planetary expedition, he'd have the authority to lead either a three-craft squadron of atmospheric craft or a ground unit of ten Kermen. But before he can be promoted, there are some proficiency requirements. And since he's been assigned to this crew, I get to decide what those proficiency requirements will be and what duties will be added to his responsibilities while aboard the Excursion.

"Captain," the voice of Gilti cut through my thoughts. "We're in range of the lander's transponder. We're beginning the docking protocols now."

"Roger," I replied. "Lieutenant Obion, you have command."

"Aye, sir!" He said. "Lieutenant, activate docking port P1 beacon now." This was the first stage of any docking procedure. The beacon sends telemetry to the lander so that its on-board computers can make minute adjustments for more efficient docking.

"Yes, sir," Hildi responded. "P1 beacon is transmitting. We are now receiving primary telemetry from the lander." And as if on cue, the sole docking port on the lander began relaying its information to the Excursion. Essentially, the computer systems from both vessels are communicating with each other. This was another one of Dr. Angelo's ideas on how to improve ship-to-ship docking.

"Lieutenant Obion," this time it was Commander Karloff, "Excursion's computer indicates docking window approaching. Estimated fourteen-point-seven-five minutes before hard contact."

"I concur, sir," Hildi said.

"Good," Obion began. " Steady as she goes; commence docking procedures."





"Contact in five..." Hildi began the countdown. "Four... three..."




The sound of clunking steel and magnetic locks filled the ship.

"Sir," Gilti called out. "Lander computer is reporting command controls routed to our computer. We have hard dock."

"Lieutenant Obion," Karloff began, "Engineering console confirms hard dock. Transferring fuel, electricity, and monoprop from central tanks."

"Captain, sir," Obion asked. "Do I transfer command back to you?" He then began looking down at the command deck. "I'm not sure what comes next -- "

"That's fine, lieutenant." I interrupted. "Lieutenant, you and Hildi will go down to the surface once Commander Karloff downloads your coordinates. He'll brief you on this mission's requirements."

"Aye, sir," he replied. "I want to thank you for..."

"Nothing!" I began. "You're going to have to learn ship operations sooner or later. Why not get started now, right?"

"Yes, sir!" he said jubilantly. "When does the landing mission start?"

"After I give you the briefing," Commander Karloff chimed in. "But for now, we need to oversee the transfer of fuel, electricity, oxy, food, and other supplies you'll need for your three-day stay on Minmus."

"Three-day stay?" Both Obion and Hildi asked at the same time.

"Yes, but we'll need to go over all this in the briefing room in ten minutes. Until then, go get your things together."

The briefing wasn't unlike the many briefings I'd been to.I began the meeting by explaining why I had selected them, of all the crew, for this mission. Commander Karloff took the second part of the briefing and discussed the primary and secondary landing areas, what they would be looking for, and what to do if they encountered anything alien on the surface of Minmus. He also shared that the three-day mission would not be an easy one. Once they finished their work at the primary site, they were to move to the secondary site by only using RCS thrusters. Karloff explained the gravity on Minmus is fairly weak and the use of RCS thrusters would accomplish two things: it would leave the liquid fuel-oxy amount alone for the main engine to allow for a reduced-stress return and allow for them to cross Minmus slow enough so they could note any anomalies as they flew over.

With the briefing done, there was nothing left but for them to disembark from the Excursion  and head to the surface of Minmus.

"Excursion, this is Lander Five," Hildi's voice could be heard over the command deck speakers. "We're requesting permission to detach and head to the surface."

"Permission granted," Karloff replied. "You are clear to detach and navigate to the surface."

"Detaching in five... four... three... two... one..." We could hear the sounds of the magnetic locks fill the Excursion as the lander detached. 





We listened to the conversations of Obion and Hildi as they began their journey to the surface. Neither one realized they'd left the audio channel open.

What do you think of this mission, Obion? What do you think we'll find?

I dunno, Obion answered. There's a lot of variables here. But the answer, "you'll know its alien when you see it..." kinda bothers me. When you think about it, we're aliens on Minmus!

I don't think they mean us, silly! Hildi said, through her laugh. What do you think they're expecting us to find?

I'm not sure, Ensign Hildi. Obion said, with a slight pause. The signals that disrupted everything came from Minmus. Maybe we are looking to what sent the signals out? Maybe it's alien or maybe, as Commander Karloff pointed out, something Kerman-made. But I am sure they're right. If we spot something, we will know what it is.

Sir, if you're with the GDF, why did you request assignment here? Hildi asked.

Originally, the GDF wasn't going to have any Kerbalnauts. We were going to be atmospheric craft pilots, ground explorers, and the like. But Dr. Edmund convinced me and about eight others that the Space Command needed officers and enlisted trained in ground and atmospheric tactics when we do finally land and colonize new worlds.

Sounds reasonable enough. Hildi replied. I guess. But there's still that question you've not answered yet. Well, what is it? Lieutenant, can you at least tell me what this mysterious thing we are looking for?

"We don't know yet. We'll know it when we see it." He added.




Sir, I know you're talking junk now. But we are in position to begin our final descent. Estimated touchdown in five minutes.

Deploy the landing gear, Obion said. Back on Kerbin he had over five hundred hours landing on both the Mün and Minmus. But landing in a simulator is always different than landing on the real thing.




Sir, we are approaching the surface at seven meters a second. Touchdown in ten... nine...


Three... two... one...


And contact. Sir, we have landed on Minmus!


"Lander Five to Excursion," Obion said. "Wait, our channel has been open this entire time?"

"Yes," Karloff said in a matter-of-fact voice. "We've heard your entire conversation. No worries, you're not the first to do that --"

"Sir, This is Lander Five," Hildi replied. Completely ignoring the ongoing conversation. "We've landed at our primary coordinates, request permission to power down."

"Oh, yeah, Lander Five," Karloff answered. "Permission granted. Power down and call us if you need us."

"Roger that, Excursion." Obion added. "Lander Five out."

And with that, the communications channel was closed.


Now, for the first time since early today, I am back in my cabin. Although I am supposed to take a full sleep cycle, I'll be lucky if I am able to take even half of one. There's too much on my mind to even begin to think about sleep. There's the data packet sent to me by Dr. Zarkov that still needs to be looked through. There's various ship performance reports Dr. Angelo and Dr. Wernher want filled out. Those reports will be used to determine what improvements will be made to this vessel in the future refit.

From everything I've read from the operational orders we received is once this mission - our first rescue mission - is over, we are to return to Kerbin and complete our refit. Two weeks after that, we are to begin a mission to the near-Kerbin objects which are beyond Minmus and determine what they are - and return. That mission has been classified as our first "deep space mission" since it is beyond Kerbin's sphere of influence. But I have to wonder what challenges are ahead of us considering the challenges we've already encountered on this "short" mission.


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