Just Jim

The Saga of Emiko Station - Volume I - Complete

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Oh, hey... I'm in the middle of writing up the next chapter, but I had to stop a couple times to re-verify some game stuff... Gonna try and finish it up today

 

4 hours ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

Wait, stop the presses, what's that wavy fuel line from??

Wow, that's an old screenshot. That, my friend.... is Photoshop.  :rolleyes:

This was before I learned about KIS and KAS, and how to set-up real fuel lines.

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5 hours ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

Wait, stop the presses, what's that wavy fuel line from??

It's just an eyelash from whoever handled the photographic plate while making this print :) 

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6 hours ago, Just Jim said:

Wow, that's an old screenshot. That, my friend.... is Photoshop.  :rolleyes:

This was before I learned about KIS and KAS, and how to set-up real fuel lines.

Eh, figures. Looks way better than reality. :rolleyes:

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OK, I know I'm taking longer with the writing part than usual... sorry. This cold has settled into my head, and it's like trying to think with a brain full of jello. But I am making progress, I promise.  :)

 

6 hours ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

Eh, figures. Looks way better than reality. :rolleyes:

Truth is, I just drew it in, so I'm surprised I got it to look like a real mod part... (especially the shadow) 

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18 hours ago, Just Jim said:

Truth is, I just drew it in, so I'm surprised I got it to look like a real mod part... (especially the shadow) 

Now that I know what to look for, I can tell it's "added in post" if I zoom in on the image, but only because you stated it was.

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One day we may get fuel lines that aren't rigid pipes.... and the Kraken might also visit for tea and cake while wearing a top hat and a monocle...

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36 minutes ago, WintericeUK said:

One day we may get fuel lines that aren't rigid pipes.... and the Kraken might also visit for tea and cake while wearing a top hat and a monocle...

Non-rigid fuel lines would make a Kraken visit a lot more probabe, although he wouldn't come for tea or wearing a monocle:D

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1 hour ago, WintericeUK said:

One day we may get fuel lines that aren't rigid pipes.... and the Kraken might also visit for tea and cake while wearing a top hat and a monocle...

And now I have a vision of the Kraken as the Professor from Octonauts.

Blame that particular connection on my assorted small nephews, nieces and godchildren. And I suspect that distant sobbbing I hear is @CatastrophicFailure after my conflation of the ultimate eldritch evil with a friendly pink octopus. :) 

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6 hours ago, KSK said:

And now I have a vision of the Kraken as the Professor from Octonauts.

Blame that particular connection on my assorted small nephews, nieces and godchildren. And I suspect that distant sobbbing I hear is @CatastrophicFailure after my conflation of the ultimate eldritch evil with a friendly pink octopus. :) 

Just remember my mantra, what you see is merely a defense mechanism so your mind doesn't implode. What's really there is far, far worse. :wink:

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7 hours ago, WintericeUK said:

One day we may get fuel lines that aren't rigid pipes.... and the Kraken might also visit for tea and cake while wearing a top hat and a monocle...

Back in the day (and maybe still, I haven't checked), the KAS winch cables could work as flexible fuel lines.  If you connect 2 ships with a winch, and they're anywhere but on solid ground, you'll immediately observe that they behave exactly as if they're on opposite ends of a rope.  The angle between them as wholes can change, each individually can rotate freely around its connection point, and the distance between them can contract into contact or expand to the length of the cable.  The cable is always drawn as a straight line, but it acts like a rope.

Needless to say, using the winches in space or on the water was an open invitation to The Kraken.  Being so graciously invited, It usually donned formal attire for the occasion :D 

Here's an example:

Spoiler

 

Way back in 2013, I was planning to go to Laythe in a big way.  I made some seaplane jets and was going to drop fuel tanks at strategic spots in the oceans for them to refuel at via the winches.  Testing this concept on Kerbin revealed problems.  It was pretty much impossible to bring the plane to a complete stop.  Thus, during the fueling operation, it might happen that the plane slowly drifting by the tank would cause the cable to intersect part of the plane.  This ALWAYS invoked The Kraken, as shown here.  The plane and fuel tank attacked each other.  The pilot, who was on a ladder having just made the connection to the plane, was thrown clear and could only watch as his ride and the fuel tank thrashed themselves over the horizon.

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I’m searching for a being who’s seen what I’ve seen
And I know I’ll find him someday
                                                                                       Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush, "The Answer"


Chapter 87
Plight of the Platypus

(Special thanks to @Azimech for letting me add his Groundstation challenge into the Saga)

 

 

It had been nearly three days at the Kerbal Space Center since Emiko and Chibi Kerman had dropped their bombshells on Gene and the rest concerning Emiko's capture by these Kraken-spirit things, and Chibi harrowing rescue and escape... if one could call it an escape. In Gene's mind it sounded more like jumping from the frying pan right into an open flame.

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The more Gene learned of this planet... this Earth... the wilder it all seemed. Witches... that flew?

Gene had known of witches all his life, wise women like the Rock-lady who seemed to have a special bond with nature. They were teachers, philosophers, healers. But this... this broom-flying, magic-casting, fire-spouting abomination Chibi described... this was a witch??? What kind of insane-asylum planet was this Earth?

Still, in spite of how bizarre it all sounded, Gene was starting to see a pattern to these Krakens, and some it began to make just a little sense to him.

But right when things were getting good, and Emiko was about to pick up where Chibi had left off, the office intercom buzzed loudly... 

"Excuse me, sir..." Obney Kerman's voice rang out.

"Ob... Obney!" Gene yelled out. "Did I NOT leave specific orders to be undisturbed?"

"Yes, sir," Obney replied calmly. "Your orders were quite specific, sir. Absolutely no-one was to interrupt you... no-one but the Grand Kerbal herself, sir..."

"Then why???" Gene started to reprimand, then paused as he realized what Obney was saying "Oh.... Oh, no.... At this hour?"

"Yes, sir." Obney answered softly. "She's waiting on line-3."

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Suspecting he was about to get chewed out... again... for being behind schedule in the Emiko Station project, Gene dismissed everyone with a sigh, and headed up to the helipad, where he preferred to be in situations like this.

But much to his surprise, the Grand Kerbal blew off his apologies without a second thought.

"Gene, listen," her Majesty explained. "We have a situation that requires your assistance, and in turn may benefit us both."

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"As you know, all of our resources are focused on helping the refugees from the Baikerbanur Center disaster. Entire burrow-plex's are still being excavated, and no-one can get anywhere near ground-zero yet."

"We have been monitoring the situation, ma'am," Gene said softly. "If there is any way we can be of assistance..."

"There is," the Grand Kerbal answered. "Not with Baikerbanur itself, but another matter which is still unfortunately related. You are aware of the Azimech Ground-station project?"

"Yes, ma'am," Gene answered. "They are 5 huge un-kerbed civilian communication stations positioned around the planet, and in co-ordination with our own tracking station, will vastly improve planet-wide communications for everyone. But I'm not sure I understand, other than the tracking station at Baikerbanur, the ground-station towers weren't effected, were they?"

"No, not directly," the Grand Kerbal explained. "The problem we face is at the time of the disaster, five of Zaltonic's leading scientists were up at these towers, bringing them online."

"I see," Gene said softly. "And those towers are all located in remote mountainous areas..."

"Exactly," the Grand Kerbal sighed. "Gene, I can't spare one single Kerb, and we have nothing that can make it to them fast enough if I could. So I need you to set up a rescue mission, using whatever means you see fit, and get to those stranded Zaltonic scientists."

The Grand Kerbal paused.

"And perhaps... perhaps afterwards... you can find some of them a new home there within your organization."

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And so it was that 3 days later Gene found himself handing off the last minute instructions and co-ordinates to Jeb and Val, as they prepared to set forth in Angelo Kerman's latest, and most advanced, prototype yet.

The Planetary Long-range Amphibious Transport (Prototype-1)
or PLAT-P1
Instantly re-named by Emiko, the Platypus:

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This variation of Angelo Kerman's bison series took the concept of an airship gondola, and adapted it to an amphibious land vehicle instead, and was designed to explore even the harshest conditions on worlds like Eve and Laythe.

It was, however, just a prototype, and not fully field tested, which worried Gene. But preliminary tests were astounding, and in the right hands, it could prove to be a land-speed record breaker.... which is just what the Grand Kerbal requested.

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Standing in front of the astronaut complex, Gene handed a K-pad to Jebediah while Werhner said good-bye to Emiko, while inside the Platypus, the rest of the crew strapped themselves in. For this mission Gene choose his best: Jeb, Val, Bob, & Bill. But because of her familiarity with Angelo Kerman's designs, Gem would be pilot, and in a strange twist, be teaching Jeb and Val the controls during the mission, and not the other way around. Harfield, Jandolin and Theo would also be coming, mostly because of their past relationships with the Zaltonic scientists... and for reasons Gene asked Harfield to keep to himself.

And lastly, Emiko insisted she and Chibi must also come, for the safety of everyone.

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"I... I really wish you would reconsider," Werhner hugged Emiko tight to his chest. "What if something happens?"

Emiko squeezed Werhner back, then glanced over her shoulder at her Magic Boulder.

"That is why Emiko must go," she whispered to Werhner. "In case something does happen."

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"So how'd he take it?" Chibi asked Emiko as she sat down and buckled herself into her seat on the observation deck.

"Not great," Emiko sighed. "But Werhner knows more than any Kerb how important it is. Magic Boulder saved Werhner's life once... oh... oh wait... so did Chibi!!

"I did what, now?" Chibi asked with a smile. 

"Chibi helped save Werhner!" Emiko beamed. "Remember how Chibi taught Emiko about CPR on Earth?"

"Yes," Chibi answered, then a look of amazement spread across her face. "Wait... did you have to?"

"YES!" Emiko laughed. "Yes... and it worked! Saved Werhner from poofing!"

"No way..." Chibi gasped. "Oh, you have to tell me all about it!"

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As Emiko prepared to tell Chibi about their adventure in the fated Eagle lander, Harfield and Jandolin quietly filled Bob in on their real purpose on the mission.

"For the last year or so, since her arrival, Jandolin and I have been Emiko's personal physicians," Harfield explained. "And we've uncovered some rather... remarkable... genetic anomalies."

"And now, with the arrival of this Chibi," Jandolin continued, "Well... We're finding many of the same exact anomalies. And this is what Gene wishes us to explore further, and perhaps find some explanation for this strange connection between the two of them."

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Further back Theo had just finished double checking his hydroponic pods and getting himself secured. This next phase in his hydroponic experiment was vital, and he was eager to get rolling. The test flight in the Annabel Lee had been a total success, but this trip would be very much different than a nice, soft balloon ride. This time his babies would be subjected to all sorts of bumping and rolling about, which is what Theo looked forward to. The pods were designed to be self contained, even under a variety of adverse conditions, and knowing his sister, they would have plenty of those!

Yes, this was going to be all sorts of fun for Theo.

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And finally, in the rear airlock module, Jeb and Bill sat back and began switching on the control panel monitors.

"OK, I have to confess," Bill said with a smile. "A couple years ago everyone thought this Angelo was a bit of an... eccentric. Now I wish we had been eccentric enough to have recruited him back then."

"Yeah, agreed." Jeb smiled as he looked over the new and much more intuitive all-glass control panel. "I like the way he thinks."

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In the Command Gondola, Valentina looked over with immense pride as Gem brought the massive new rover online with absolute precision. Years ago she and Jeb had recognized an almost instinctive talent in young Gem, and it was clear from the first she would someday be an amazing captain.

"S.A.F.E.R. reactor is up to temperature," Gem looked over her readouts. "Core temperature showing 1000K and holding... radiators functioning at 106%.... all systems in the green. If everyone back there is ready..."

"I'm showing green-lights on all rear sections," Val replied. "Everyone is buckled in and ready."

"Excellent," Gem smiled. "Then let's get this show on the road. We'll need to get away from the center and out on the grass flats before we engage the engines."

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And with no further ado, Gem slowly pulled the Platypus away from the KSC and into the night, while Gene, Werhner and Angelo watched in silence.

"How did you get her to approve it?" Angelo asked softly, but Gene stood and said nothing.

"You... did tell her majesty the Platypus was fusion powered?" Angelo whispered.

"No... you didn't tell her, did you?" Werhner asked just as softly.

"Yeah..." Gene tried his best to force a smile. "I am so screwed."

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Once the Platypus was a kilometer or so from the space center, Gem smiled and switched on the rover's mighty tornado fan engines. Originally intended for just amphibious crossings, Gem learned quickly the huge fans worked quite well on land as well, and were much more efficient than larger, internal combustion engines.

"We just have to be careful..." Gem called out to val over the roar of the fans. "Not to exceed 1/3rd throttle on land, or we could rip a wheel off..."

"Wait... what?" Val called back with an astonished look. "Just how fast can this go?"

"We're not sure," Gem grinned. "I'm hoping we'll get a chance to find out.... Hold on!"

And with a scream Gem released the safety break, and the huge rover lurched forward with astonishing speed!

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"OMG," Val screamed. "60 m/s and holding..... this is AWESOME!"

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But on the back Bob wasn't thrilled at all, and looked at Harfield in a sort of motion-sick horror.

"You're daughter is... is as crazy as VAL?"

"Worse," Jandolin smiled as only a mother could. "And just as good a pilot as Val..."

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Up in the Observation dock, Emiko continued to tell Chibi of her and Werhner's adventure on the Mun, as Kerbol slowly began to paint the horizon red... and impossibly soon they were already pulling to a quick stop so Jeb could quickly hop out and plant a marker flag.

"There are small GPS tracking devices in the flagpoles," Emiko explained to Chibi. "This way Worlds First Society can track progress... Kerbals love road-trips ever since Piper Kerman circumnavigated the Mun..."

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On through the morning and into the afternoon the kilometers flew by, until at last Gem pulled the Platypus to a halt near the beach of the great Northern Sea, and less than 100 kilometers from their first target, a mountainous ridge called Package Peak. They had traveled over 600 kilometers in less than a day, and the crew was exhausted, but motivated, and Bill put together a quick campsite while Emiko and Chibi ran down to the beach and caught several large, juicy sea-bugs with their helmets to roast for dinner.

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The next morning Emiko and Chibi woke early and whipped up a batch of sea-bug and cheese omelets for everyone, while Bill and Jeb broke down the campsite in the morning frost. And like the day before the Platypus was packed up and ready to roll as dawn approached.

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As they drew closer to Package peak, Gem brought the engines down to 10% and cut their speed considerably, while she and Val considered the best way to approach the mountain.

But just as they got within sensor distance of the peak, a large, floating boulder loomed up directly in front of them, causing Gem to pull the Platypus to a stop for a moment.

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Suddenly, back in the science lab, Bob called out excitedly.

"I'm getting some unusual gravity readings... What the?"

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"I think we should put some distance between us and that object." Bob called up to the Gondola.

"Agreed," Val answered back. "Gem, back off a little, then swing around it... give it plenty of room."

"Yes, ma'am" Gem replied, swinging the Platypus to the left and around the boulder before continuing onto their target.

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Once the massive ground-station was within visual range, Val was relieved to see a fairly gentle slope leading through the mountains and right up to the peak. With luck they should be able to make it.... she silently hoped.

"Head south at 195 degrees, then hook back to 270 when I tell you and we should have a fairly gentle incline right to the top," Val instructed as she studied her map.

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As they neared the top of the peak, Gem powered up the Tornado fans to help push the heavy rover up the increasing  incline, then slammed them into reverse as the Platypus teetered and landed on the narrow summit, pulling to a quick stop right in front of the astonished Dr. Froderick Kerman!

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"Remarkable," Dr. Froderick laughed as Val climbed out of the gondola to meet him. "I heard you coming up the mountain. But quite honestly, my dear, I had a hard time believing me ears!"

"Are you all right, sir?" Val smiled back. "We came as quickly as we could."

"I am quite fine, dear," Froderick smiled and patted himself. "But a couple more days of just snack rations... well."

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Val smiled and escorted the older Doctor to the appropriate ladder before quickly planting a marker flag and crawling back inside the gondola.

In the lab, Bob made room for the venerable doctor... then Harfield and Jandolin broke the news of what had happened to leave Dr. Froderick stranded.

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"Horrifying...." the old doctor shivered. "And... and my wife? Zelberta? Have... have you heard from her?"

"I'm sorry, let me check," Harfield quickly searched his K-pad, then shook his head sadly. "She's listed as missing... I'm so sorry, sir."

"No... no... not dead... only missing." the old doctor seemed strangely relieved. "She may have gone to the island."

"I'm sorry,... an island?" Jandolin asked.

"Yes, not far south of here is an island... maybe 90 or so kilometers." Dr Froderick explained. "On our last supply run Zelberta, always the archaeologist, radioed she had spotted some sort of structure from the air, and wanted to investigate. Zaltonic denied her request... but only an hour or so after we lost all contact. Knowing her she broke orders and had them set her down there before heading home... I hope."

"I see." Harfield shook his head, then switched over his intercom. "Gem, sweety, are you monitoring this?"

"Yes, daddy," Gem answered back. "Val is already doing a search... and... there. I've got... something. Not sure, but it's about 95 klicks south, right were the Doctor said. Shall we plot a course?"

"Yes, dear," Harfield beamed in pride. "If Zelberta is stranded out there, it's our responsibility to go and help."

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Once everyone was secure in their seats, Gem reversed one of the big fans so as to swivel the Platypus and point her back the direction she had ascended. The she gently released the parking breaks, and guided the huge rover back down the mountain, being careful not to accelerate too fast, but also not ride the breaks too hard and burn them out.

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It only took a few minutes and Gem had them back out onto rolling hills, and was able to fire the tornado's back up and head towards the mysterious island. 

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As they drew close to a point on the beach near the island, Gem looked over at Val and smiled.

"Oh, this is nothing!" she laughed. "It's not even half as far as the old island airfield."

And without further hesitation Gem slid the Platypus out into the water, and brought the tornadoes up to full throttle.

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Inside Val could not be more impressed, when suddenly a huge laugh roared out from above them.

"What?" Chibi looked over and laughed at Emiko. "What did you see?"

"Emiko.... Emiko say a platypus! Right.... right there!"

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Just a few minutes later, as the island grew nearer and nearer, Gem blinked, then squinted as what appeared to some sort of... line??? A line, or something, pointing straight up into the sky.... like some impossibly thin.... tower?

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"What the Kraken krap?" Val whispered as they pulled onto the beach, and up towards a figure that was running down to meet them.

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"Doctor Zelberta," Froderick smiled as he climbed out to meet the stately looking Kerbette.

"Doctor Froderick," Zelberta smiled back in the most professional manor... then reached out and gave her husband a big hug.

"Where is the supply chopper?" Froderick suddenly frowned.

"Why, back home I suppose." Zelberta answered innocently enough. "But they were supposed to come back for me... why... what happened?"

"Oh, my dear...."

But then they were interrupted as Jeb and the rest began to climb out, and looked up at the impossible tower in amazement.

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"What is it?" Bob and Bill asked simultaneously.

"I'm afraid I don't know," Zelberta replied. "I've been calling it Isis Tower, for lack of a better name. But I can't determine who or what made it. All I know is it's impossibly old... and I think it's haunted."

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"We should investigate..." Bob began, but was instantly cut off by Jeb and Zelberta both.

"No!" they both yelled, then looked at each other...

"I'm sorry..." they both then said again at the same moment... and laughed...

"No, please, you first." Jeb smiled at Zelberta.

"Thank you," Zelberta smiled, then looked at Bob. "I searched for two days, there is no entrance."

"And we have a mission to finish," Jeb continued. "Leave a marker, and I promise as soon as we're finished we can come back and search to your hearts content."

"Well..." Bob grumbled, but gave in and pulled out a flag marker instead.

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Then everyone climbed back in, and Gem turned the Platypus back north and towards the mainland, and their next destination, the old polar outpost where Emiko was first abducted all those years ago. While it wasn't actually part of the rescue mission, it was right on the way, and Gene wanted the crew to check things out after all those years of being empty... just in case. 

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There was only a couple hours daylight left, but Gem was able to make good time, and was within 100 kilometers of the polar outpost when she pulled the Platypus to a halt for the night. Like before Bob quickly set up a small camp for the crew, while Jandolin prepared a traditional Kerbin 6-cheese souffle to celebrate Froderick and Zelberta's rescue and reunion.

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While Bob sat basking in a sort of hero-worship come being in the company of two of his scientific idols, Val wandered outside and found Jeb standing and enjoying the vast, cold silence.

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"Hey, there you are," Val whispered.

"Yeah..." Jeb smiled back. "I was just.... listening. It's so still and quiet."

For a few minutes neither spoke.... they just stood and enjoyed the serenity of each other's company.

"Someday..." Jeb whispered, then paused a moment before continuing. "Someday.... it might be nice to settle down, maybe dig a burrow near here... Just you and me... far away from everything.."

"Why Jeb...." Val smiled. "Is that a proposal?"

"I suppose it is," Jeb whispered.... listening to the wind howl softly thru the pines.

"Then I believe I accept..." Val whispered back.... "It's so peaceful... yes, I think I could grow to love it here..."

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The next morning the crew was packed and ready to head out before dawn... Gem seemed especially excited as she brought the tornado fans online and turned the Platypus just slightly west of north, and headed into the dawn. And about an hour after Kerbol had risen, Gem spied a thin line of snow on the horizon, and announced to the crew.

"We have reached the Polar region."

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Soon enough the Platypus flew out onto the snow and ice, picking up speed and leaving a wonderful trail of snow behind them. But after a short while Gem pulled the Platypus to a halt on a small hill, and looked ahead in wonder.

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Before them stretched the Polar ice cap... a sheet of solid ice stretching all the way to the pole itself... 

"It's so... smooth..." Gem whispered with a mischievous grin.

"Just be careful..." Val began to say, but was too late when Gem slid the Platypus down onto the ice sheet....

... and pushed the fan's throttle to full speed!

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"70 meters per second... 75... 80.... 85 m/s... and...." Gem screamed... "HOLDING at 87.5 meters per second!!!"

"WOOHOOOOO!" Val screamed back... "This is definitely a world record!!!

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Faster and faster the ice screamed by, until almost too soon the automatic sensors snapped on, and Gem saw the polar station was only a scant dozen kilometers away.

"Awww... that was too quick," Gem laughed as she pulled back on the throttle and veered towards the snow covered hills to her left.

"Pun intended?" Val laughed back.

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At first everything seemed perfectly normal as the Platypus drew closer to the polar outpost, until Gem noticed... something... She couldn't quite put her finger on it, but something seemed.... odd... out of place. Then she realized what it was, and slammed on the brakes so hard it almost knocked Val out of her seat.

"What's wrong?" Val asked as she pulled herself back upright.

"Ma'am, this place has been abandoned for quite a while, correct?" Gem answered Val's question with a question.

"That's correct..." Val answered, then saw it herself and gasped....

"Then if it's empty, why are some of the lights on???"

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Instantly Jeb ordered everyone to stay put, while he took Bob and Bill over to have a look around the base.

And some 30 or so minutes later, the three met back in the Platypus conference room, along with Val, and radioed down to Gene for further instructions...

"That's right, sir," Jeb explained their findings. "Just a few wrenches, a heavy winter suit, and some cheese-snacks..."

"Missing Cheese-snacks," Gene mused. "That doesn't sound very Kraken-ish to me."

"One more thing," Bill chimed in. "We also spotted what might be tire tracks. They're pretty snow covered, but look to be heading north."

"There's nothing up there but an old re-fueling depot," Gene shook his head. "Alright, go have a look... but be careful. If you see anything like that Red Boulder, you turn and get out as fast as possible, understood?"

"Understood, sir," Jeb replied, then switched off the screen...

"Let's go, Kerbs..."

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A few minutes later Gem had the great platypus turned around and headed back down to the ice flats, then turned and headed straight north to the pole.... ETA, not more than 20 minutes or so.

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As they got within visual range, Gem powered down the fans and just used the wheel motors to slowly approach the old depot. But there was no-sign of the Red Magic Boulder, which would have dwarfed the old station... no sign of anything. For all practical purposes it appeared quite abandoned.

But as Gem brought the Platypus to a slow halt a few meters from the station, a grizzled old Kerb suddenly appeared from between two old junker rovers and stood glaring at the Platypus!

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"Watching from their monitor in the back, Bill suddenly let out an excited yelp...

"I... I don't believe it," Bill gasped. "Poddon? Poddon Kerman?"

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"Do you know him?" Jeb asked.

"Yes... wow..." Bill grinned and began to unbuckle himself. "Everyone, stay inside. Gem, you come with me."

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Once outside, Bill looked over at Gem and smiled. 

"Just follow my lead." he whispered, then began to hurry up to the older Kerb with an excited smile.

"Pappy... Pappy Kerman!" Bill called out. "What are you doing all the way up here in the middle of no-where?"

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"Well, I thought I was getting away from young whelps like you," Poddon 'Pappy' Kerman smiled. "How have you been, young William?"

"I'm well, sir," Bill smiled back. May I present Gem Kerman, our driver. Gem, this is Pappy Kerman, best rover mechanic on the planet."

"I'm honored to meet you, sir," Gem bowed slightly, while Pappy just huffed loudly.

"I'm not sure about all that..."

"Oh, don't be modest, sir." Bill grinned. "Gem, when I was a kid, every team on the rover circuit wanted Pappy to be their crew chief... And ended up bugging him so much that he retired and disappeared from the public eye years ago. I should have known you where hiding up here."

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"But, Pappy," bill suddenly turned serious. "I'm... I'm not sure it's safe for you here anymore... there have been developments..."

"Oh, pssstttt....." Pappy snorted. "No-one is interested in an old wrench-turner like me anymore. I'll be fine..."

"But..." Bill began, but Gem saw an opening and cut him off...

"Sir...." she asked meekly. "Are you really the best mechanic on Kerbin? May... Might I ask a small favor?"

Pappy looked over at Gem with an amused smile. "Yes, go on, spit it out, child.... But I'm telling you now, I don't sign autographs."

"What? Oh, no, nothing like that, sir." Gem turned back and looked back at the Platypus. "Could you... well... Would you take a look at the right front wheel for me? The last 100 or so kilometers she feels like it's sticking just a bit... pulling to the right..."

Next to her Bill did his best to keep a straight face... but inside he suddenly howled and hooted and wanted to give Gem the biggest hug... With one seemingly innocent question Gem had just single-handedly recruited the best mechanic they could ask to have... hook, line and sinker... and Bill knew when Pappy answered they had him.

"Why, of course young pilot, I'd be glad to give her a look-see..."

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20 minutes later pappy was under the Platypus with a small flashlight, checking around every square inch, until he called out to Gem and Bill and re-emerged, shaking his head.

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"Well, you were right," Pappy explained to Gem. "There's a big hunk of ice wedged in between the secondary struts, and it's slicing into one of the hydraulic lines."

"Can you fix it?" Bill asked. 

"Well... yes and no." Pappy shook his head. "We can melt the ice with a torch, and I have a replacement hose.... But we're going to lose a lot of hydraulic fluid swapping out the hose... much more than I can replace."

"We can get more at the base-camp," Bill replied. "Can we make it back without burning the wheel up?"

"I think so," Pappy looked over at Gem. "But take it slow, and have someone watch the temp gauges until we get back. If they start to spike, we'll have to stop and let it cool off a bit. Understand?"

Yes, sir," Gem smiled as they turned to climb aboard. "And sir... thank you!"

Pappy just huffed and followed Bill into the rear cabin... and Gem giggled. She already decided she like this gruff old man... there was something about him that just felt... like a mechanic. 

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Kerbol was sinking just below the horizon as the arrived back at the Polar base... that weird polar twilight, not quite day, and yet not night... just gloom... and deep, deep cold.

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While Pappy, along with Bill, Gem, and Jeb, worked on freeing up the Platypus wheel and replacing the severed and frozen hydraulic line, Bob decided to have a look at the Polar base communication software. There were a couple hours to kill, and he decided to use the time to his best advantage and make sure the base software was brought up to date with the rest of the Kerbnet system. Emiko and Chibi walked over with him, but only far enough for Emiko to show Chibi the mysterious saucer embedded in the frozen hillside... the saucer that had sent Emiko on her bizarre and life-changing journey to Earth.

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"So... that's it..." Chibi whispered. "That's where it all started?"

"Yes..." Emiko whispered back. "Seems so very long ago..."

"Are you scared?" Chibi asked softly.

"Yes..." Emiko began to answer, but as cut off by a third whisper coming from above and behind them.

"So that's the stupid saucer thing???" Sanny the ghost suddenly materialized and sneered. "Can we go now?"

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Inside the small communication capsule, Bob stopped what he was doing for a moment when he heard shouting from outside, then smiled grimly when he realized it was just Sanny throwing another temper-tantrum.

"Why?? WHY????" Sanny screamed outside the hatch... "This isn't getting me home... Sparkles... you promised!!!"

Then silence, which Bob knew was Emiko quietly and patiently trying to talk Sanny down.

"Emiko talked to Sanny before Platypus left," Emiko said with the voice of a stern but patient grade-school teacher. "These are best, smartest scientists and engineers..."

"Boffins..." Sanny howled.

"Whatever," Emiko patiently continued.... "They are all super smart, and we need them to stop Krakens... then Emiko can send Sanny home..."

"But..." Sanny began to protest...

"No... no but..." Emiko cut her off. "Emiko NOT send Sanny home until it's safe... Emiko cares about Sanny."

Inside the capsule Bob smiled... That seemed to work, for now, and soon the shouting stopped and he was able to get back to work.... until suddenly...

Wait... What was that???

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For a second... not even that... Bob thought he saw... something on the monitor.... a face???

Then nothing.... Reaching over he began checking the frequencies... adjusting the controls and filters... there was a lot of electromagnetic interference still coming from far-off Baikerbanur.... maybe.... 

Wait... there... for a second... then nothing again...

Bob sat and wondered... was it... could it be? Normally he would have blown it off as his imagination playing tricks... Or maybe Sanny messing with his equipment to keep herself amused... but with all that had happened recently...

He only needed a second more to make up his mind, then called over to Jeb and Val to meet him in the briefing room ASAP.

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A few minutes later Jeb and val, along with Bob, and Doctors Froderick and Zelberta, were seated in the briefing room, staring at a static covered image on the monitors...

"Before anything says anything," Bob cleared his throat. "I could very well be imaging this whole thing... But in light of recent events... well... There it is. I captured this image just a few minutes ago... The signal is extremely garbled, and I'm having a hard time locating the source... But... well... do you see it?"

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"I'm not seeing anything..." Jeb shook his head. "Maybe a little green smudge..."

"No..." Dr. Froderick looked at the image carefully.... "There is... something..."

"Sir," Bob looked over at Jeb. "With your permission. Maybe it's jumping the gun, but I'd like permission to contact Pandora."

"Do you think it's necessary?" Jeb sighed, knowing what Bob wanted.

"I'm not sure," Bob admitted. "But if any... thing... can tell us if this is a false alarm, it's... well..."

"Fine," Jeb reached over and engaged the Platypus's massive communication array.

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"Platypus calling Pandora, do you read?"

Only a couple seconds passed before a strange and semi-mechanical voice replied... and Dr Froderick looked at his wife with a scared but excited grin as they realized they were hearing the voice of none other than Thompberry Kerman!

"Captain Jebediah," Thompberry bubbled over the speakers. "This is an unexpected surprise.... And... well... bless my circuits... is that Doctors Froderick and Zelberta Kerman I see? Why, this is an honor... Sir, I've read your papers on inter-dimensional gravitational space folding, and they are truly inspired!"

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"Why, thank you..." Dr Froderick stammered, but was mercifully cut-off by Bob.

"Look, Thompberry, I need a favor."

"From me, dear Robert?" Thompberry seemed to chuckle. "And just what can a lonely brain in a jar do for you, this fine evening?"

"Just shut up and listen," Bob continued. "I was upgrading the polar base communications net a few minutes ago, and I thought I picked up a signal... maybe... It was very faint, and hard to make out with all the continued interference coming from Baikerbanur... it may be nothing... a stray tele-video signal... but..."

"But.." Thompberry suddenly grew more serious. "You suspect our friends?"

"That's what I'd like you to check." 

"Just give me a moment," Thompberry chuckled while he linked into the Polar station database and began scanning the back logs... and saw it as well...

"Hmmmmm... there is... something... A moment please..."

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High above Kerbin, Thompberry now brought all of Kerbnet's new communication arrays to bear, and scanned the surface across a wide spectrum, until he isolated the weak and garbled signal, and immediately understanding why all the interference... and called back down to the Platypus in an amazed whisper.

"I'm... I'm getting a distress beacon..." Thompberry sounded strangely excited. "It's from Baikerbanur.... from Ground Zero!!"

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Down on the Platypus, the image on the conference moniter seemed to clear a bit, and Zelberta let out a shout...

"It... It's Doctor Herbert... By all the mercy of the gods... Doctor Herbert is alive???"

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But then a cracked and garbled voice came across the speakers, and the room fell silent.... 

"Hellll bztttttt..... kkkkkzzzzzttttttttt........ Life support... bzzztttttt .....ailing.....  bbllllllllllllzzzzzzzzzz..... two days.............. Help.... please......." 

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For several moments no-one spoke, until Jeb looked across the table at Bill and Bob, and they knew before he could ask...

"She's made to handle Eve... the worst radiation storms in the solar system..." Bill said softly.

"There isn't another vehicle on the planet even close..." Bob continued even softer.

Jeb then looked at Val... 

"You know we have to..." she whispered back.

Jeb sat and said nothing for a couple seconds more... but he also knew they had no-choice... And there wasn't time to call and ask for permission... and perhaps be told no...

With a determined sigh he reached over and switched on the intercom.

"Gem... fire up the reactor," Jeb called out in quiet but determined voice. 

"We're going to Baikerbanur.... to Ground Zero..."

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The Saga of Emiko Station, and the strange tale of Emiko and Chibi Kerman, are still far, far from over...

Return to Index

Edited by Just Jim
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Great chapter! I read it through email (the email that says that you made a comment) And everything was perfect. Also.. What that a Dodge at the refueling post?

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This came at the perfect time, perfect for calming down after having to fight a ladybug invasion all day long. They came in through the frame gaps of the closed windows like they'd get something for free, I've thrown back out like 20 of them before I lost it and flushed another 30 down the toilet...

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Awesome read! The Platypus is a really cool craft as well. Ground Zero's going to be an interesting adventure too... :)

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3 hours ago, Just Jim said:

Dr. Froderick...........

...my wife? Zelberta?

And there wasn't time to call and ask for permission...

Surely, the wife of Dr. Froderick Fronkensteen Kerman would be named Inga? :D  ("Shut UP,  EYE-gor")

It's always better to ask for forgiveness than permission, PROVIDED you pulled it off and nobody died.,  Otherwise, don't bother asking anything, just flee to somewhere without an extradition treaty  :cool:.

 

 

1 hour ago, DualDesertEagle said:

This came at the perfect time, perfect for calming down after having to fight a ladybug invasion all day long. They came in through the frame gaps of the closed windows like they'd get something for free, I've thrown back out like 20 of them before I lost it and flushed another 30 down the toilet...

What latitude do you live at?  It's a bit early where I live (30^N) for the ladybugs to swarm inside seeking winter quarters.  When the do, I welcome them.  I'm happy to let them shack up in my attic until spring because I'd rather have them around than the things they eat.

Edited by Geschosskopf
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23 minutes ago, Geschosskopf said:

What latitude do you live at?

Can't read coordinates for crap but I live pretty close to Cologne, Germany. And for the end of September I'd say it's still fairly warm outside. Just this evening I was outside with my bike in a T-shirt and felt comfortable even during the fast downhill parts.

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55 minutes ago, Geschosskopf said:

Surely, the wife of Dr. Froderick Fronkensteen Kerman would be named Inga? :D  ("Shut UP,  EYE-gor")

hehehe... Yeah... I'll admit it, I seriously considered re-naming her...

Frau Blücher!!!  :D

 

Edited by Just Jim
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9 minutes ago, Just Jim said:

hehehe... Yeah... I'll admit it, I seriously considered re-naming her...

Frau Blücher!!!  :D

NEIGH!  NEIGH!

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26 minutes ago, Geschosskopf said:

NEIGH!  NEIGH!

hehehe

Actually, @Azimech named the scientists and other ground-station VIP's... I just scrambled them around a little to better fit into the story-line...

But you may recognize a couple more names before the road-trip is over... :wink:

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2 minutes ago, obney kerman said:

WHEEEEEEE!!!!!!!! NEW CHAPTER!!!!!

Also... burrows?

Sure... most Kerbals live underground, do they not?  :wink:

Edited by Just Jim
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The Platypus is worthy of its name! 

One question: Can it fight evil like its namesake? 

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