UnusualAttitude

THE CAMWISE LOGS - "Don't blink."

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On 4/23/2018 at 10:38 PM, HamnavoePer said:

This still alive? Just checkin'

It is, although I've got next to nothing done in the past month or so. My life is all work, no play at the moment I'm afraid. 

I know I left you guys with a bit of a cliffhanger. I'll be back with more as soon as I can. :wink:

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hey cliffhangers are great.  although no cliffhanger will ever be as good as the summer break split for best of both world's part 1 and 2 from ST:TNG

 

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On 2/17/2018 at 9:03 AM, HamnavoePer said:

Damn, do I come across as that old? I started reading this when I was 11 or 12, somewhere around that. As it happens, this is the reason I made a KSP forums account, because I wanted to comment on this. I've had KSP since I was 10, I will be 14 in 3 months. 

On 2/17/2018 at 8:12 PM, NotAgain said:

*Internet High-Five*

I didn't start quite that young, but fairly close.

I'm not the only youngling on here, I see. I'm getting 18 in less than a month. 

On 2/17/2018 at 8:57 PM, Geschosskopf said:

Never grow up.  IT'S A TRAP!!!!!! :o

Sadly this is considered mandatory at my current age, Peter Pan:D

What? I like astrophysics, and I have corrected my teachers before when they are trying to explain to the class how to get between earth and mars. I distinctly remember one teacher saying "To get to Mars from earth without using too much fuel, you have to wait until they are REALLY close together, and then you have to go towards mars"

11 Year old me: "No, you have to wait until earth is approximately 1/3rd of an orbit behind mars, then do a Hohmann transfer"

Teacher: "Ummm....."

This kind of stuff was my youth, too. I got my first book on aliens and the universe, written in the '80s or something, with Erich von Daniken as a serious guy they talked about, when I was like 8 years old from some friends of my parents. When I was 10 my parents gave my an 'Illustrated Atlas of the Universe'. My physics teacher just let me play KSP whenever space comes into the picture in class. I remember one day on exam stunt day, I spent the whole day in his classroom behind the lab, trying to get a tanker to dock to a hellish mothership that I had launched into an orbit crossing the munar one and nearing the atmosphere.

I also remember when we had a project on making a Mars mission, and I basically solo'd half the project of the actual mission meant for 16 people. Fun times.

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:confused: That was a wild ride.... You are quite the writer, @UnusualAttitude

I was listening to this song while reading the last chapter. It fit the mood, somehow..

Spoiler

 

Like someone commented earlier, the Kerbals are way, way too human in this story, and it is genuinely scary....

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On 6/5/2018 at 10:10 AM, Nivee~ said:

:confused: That was a wild ride.... You are quite the writer, @UnusualAttitude

 

I'm quite the unproductive writer at the moment also, but thank you so much for dropping in and taking time to share your thoughts. This will get back on track eventually. I'm just hindered by the slight inconvenience of renovating a house right now. :wink:

On 6/5/2018 at 10:10 AM, Nivee~ said:

 I was listening to this song while reading the last chapter. It fit the mood, somehow..

 

Wow, that JJ guy has some voice. I've always found it crazy how many great bands and artists come from Iceland.

On 6/5/2018 at 10:10 AM, Nivee~ said:

Like someone commented earlier, the Kerbals are way, way too human in this story, and it is genuinely scary....

We humans can be pretty scary creatures at times, yeah. You don't need to search too hard for some awesomely terrifying aspects of human nature. This is where most of my inspiration comes from, with just a dash of Kerbal wackiness to keep things entertaining as our character's situations go from bad to worse. :)

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Any idea when this will pick up again? I really want to see what happens to Bartdon and his crew, as well as Camwise's crazy escapades

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On 9/7/2018 at 6:46 AM, Plecy75 said:

Any idea when this will pick up again?

Hey ho, boys and girls and anyone else who is still listening. Yes I do, sort of.

I've just about finished the long and painful process of updating The Camwise Log's savefile to... ahem... KSP 1.3.1 (you know me by now, always a bit outdated....). The process took about two weeks of what little spare time I have and involved killing off many vessels, rebuilding most of the rest of my fleet and hyperediting the modified craft into place. Please excuse the (slight) cosmetic changes in some of the vehicles: I hope most of them will go unnoticed.

My first task was to finish the ten-hour long burn to set Camwise on his way to Jupiter. Fun times. 

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My usual (bad) habit when I update is to spend far too long messing around with the various new parts and engines that I somehow manage to cram into my bloated GameData file. So, most of the next month will probably be spent crashing a variety of new aircraft and rockets. The forecast for the space centre will be "heavy debris fall with some finer spells later" for a while. Only then will I tackle the gargantuan task of getting my characters out into the depths of the outer Sol system before they die of old age.

I am truly sorry this is all taking so long, but I will have a bit more time now that my house is actually starting to look like a house. You also have @NotAgain to blame for my return. Meeting him during his epic Tour D'Europe reminded me that I should keep this going before any readers I still have also die of old age...:D

See you all soonTM.

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Good to see you back, @UnusualAttitude, and I'll join you in re-appearing. I shall resume regular service shortly, but until then I have a severly problematic bug to fix that stops me from recovering any craft with a Kerbal in it.

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On 11/8/2018 at 11:01 PM, NotAgain said:

Good to see you back, @UnusualAttitude, and I'll join you in re-appearing. I shall resume regular service shortly, but until then I have a severly problematic bug to fix that stops me from recovering any craft with a Kerbal in it.

Each kerb gets one mission, then gets out and  spends the rest of his/her existence on kerbin, wherever they landed. 

 

Edited by Thedrelle
grammar
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I don't know why but this reminds me of my "We Who Witnessed." 

maybe it's because it's an alternate dimension? 

I don't know.

Keep up the great work! :D

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On 11/23/2018 at 5:53 AM, lunardog15 said:

this thread is amazing thanks so much

On 11/23/2018 at 6:45 AM, Lo Var Lachland said:

Keep up the great work! :D

Thanks to you both, and welcome to the party! I also bring some good news: the next episode is more or less done and will be published very shortly.

So, because it has been a while, it is once more time for the mandatory pre-season recap to remind you all where we're at...! :D

Part One: the Moon vs. Me

Spoiler

 

In Part One: the Moon vs. Me, we are introduced to Senior Engineer Camwise from Omelek Space Centre and his pilot Catbeth, who are stranded on the surface of Luna in the South polar crater Drygalski after a crash-landing caused by a poorly designed lander.

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Despite this drawback, they struggle to set up a surface outpost and then travel several hundred kilometres across the Lunar highlands to visit a structure spotted from orbit. It turns out to be some sort of spacecraft that is clearly not of Kerbal origin, and has apparently lain in the dust for many thousands of years. This, along with the discovery of a massive arch-shaped structure during a previous mission, suggests that the Sol System was visited by some kind of extra-solar intelligence in the distant past.

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Camwise and Catbeth make it to orbit using the moonbase's utility shuttle and return to Earth safely.

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Part Two: the View From Phobos

Spoiler

 

In Part Two: the View from Phobos, Camwise is recruited by Principal Investigator Angun and his deputy, Planetary Investigator Margaret, to take part in the Kerbals' first crewed flight to orbit Mars. Officially, it is precursor mission with the goal of operating rovers on the surface from orbit.

However, Angun has a secret agenda. Years before the space programme was launched, he discovered the abandoned datacore of an ancient artificial construct on the bed of the Pacific Ocean that continuously emits a signal that he eventually managed to decipher. It depicts a pyramid on the surface of the Red Planet, and Angun intends to find it and study it, whilst keeping his intentions from the Board of the Resources Companies that sponsor their venture.

During the long flight to Mars on board the ship Cernin, Camwise realises that Angun hasn't told him the whole truth, and that Margaret is concerned that the hypothetical extra-solar presence may be connected to an extinction event that wiped out most of Earth's land and marine life about a million years previously.

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Working from Martian orbit, they manage to land a rover near the Pyramid and approach it, but find no entrance and detect no further signals. Meanwhile, Camwise, Angun and their pilot Jonnie make the first crewed landing on the satellite Phobos, collecting samples and possible proof that Phobos was created from Martian impact ejecta. Upon returning to orbit, they pursue and briefly observe what looks like the remains of a large cephalopod drifting above the moon, but are unable to capture any video footage of the encounter.

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They rendez-vous with Cernin, but Margaret refuses to allow them to dock, explaining her concerns that Earth might once again be contaminated by some sort of harmful pathogen that she believes was carried from Mars to Earth, causing the mass extinction. She then attempts to leave them behind in space.

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Part Three: Lunacy

Spoiler

 

In Part Three: Lunacy, we are introduced to Acting Principal Investigator Bartdon, who has replaced Angun during his absence. We learn that the Space Centre lost contact with Cernin and, shortly after, an impact was observed on the surface of Phobos, leading Omelek to believe that Cernin was lost along with her crew. Meanwhile, a space probe in the Jupiter system has begun to detect familiar, strange structures on some of the giant planet's moons.

Bartdon goes through the list of anomalies on the Lunar surface and decides to lead a mission there himself. Accompanied by the new Senior Engineer Froemone and Theoretical Investigator Steledith, he returns to the Lunar South Polar region. His team set up listening devices in locations where Bartdon suspects further datacores might be hidden. The crew also discover another strange construct that looks like some kind of antenna array, built into a deep crater. However, no new signals are detected and the Resource Companies are beginning to lose faith, threatening to withdraw their support of the space programme.

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It is then that Cernin returns from deep space, desperately pulling off an Earth capture, and we learn that thanks to the swift actions of Camwise and Jonnie, Cernin was boarded before impacting Phobos and disaster was averted, although all means of communicating with Earth were lost. Margaret was killed in the ensuing struggle, and Camwise blames himself for her death.

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The crew of Cernin are blamed for their disastrous mission, and Camwise is offered a choice between imprisonment or an engineering assignment in Antarctica. He chooses the latter and serves onboard an Icecrawler – a type of nuclear-powered polar supply truck – called Montbrun. There, he meets Junior Engineer Gemxy, and in the harsh polar conditions, his anger at the callous monopoly of the Resource Companies begins to grow.

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Part Four: Too Big to Fail

Spoiler

 

In Part Four: Too Big to Fail, we learn that one of the listening devices Bartdon placed on the Moon has allowed a datacore to recharge and reboot, and begins emitting messages down to Earth. Froemone and Steledith are elected to speak with it, and it introduces itself as the Second Engineer of Colonisation Mission Seven. It explains that the datacores are the remnants of constructs that were sent to the Sol System on board a ship called Transmare with the goal of finding a suitable place for their Creators to settle.

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The Second Engineer encourages the Kerbals to reach out into the System, in search of his Crewmates, suspecting that they may still be present on other bodies. He provides Froemone with blueprints for an advanced fission reactor to help them, but warns that his Crew are programmed to carry out their mission at all costs. Steledith reveals that she has deduced the Crew's home system thanks to the orientation of the antenna situated on the Moon: a star named Beta Hydri some 24 light-years from Sol.

The Kerbals send off a new generation of probes (the Fontanes class) to study the gas giants, and Bartdon is instructed to begin plans for a mission to the surface of Mars immediately. He does not trust the Board, and is wary of disturbing ancient, buried dangers in the outer System. He hand-picks his crew for the mission, including Camwise's cousin Karanda, as well as his former love, Lisabeth. Their ship is called Laroque.

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Overcoming many technical challenges, Bartdon and his crew make it down to the surface of Mars and Bartdon undertakes an epic three-month rover journey across the surface with Second Engineer Mitzon onboard an Arcambal rover. Bartdon delays the moment he must comply with the Board's orders, but he eventually makes his way to an oddly shaped hill near Tharsis Tholus, which turns out to be a stone sculpture of a Kerbal face: apparent proof that the Crew did actually make contact with the Kerbals when they were still primitive savages.

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The Kerbal Face transmits a message pre-recorded by the Transmare's First Mate via Arcambal's uplink. He claims that the other Crewmates made their way to the moons of the gas giants Saturn and Jupiter, and instructs the Kerbals to make contact with them, setting a deadline of ten years. Bartdon cuts off the transmission at this point, and he and Mitzon alone hear the end of the message. The First Mate's message reveals that the Crew have the ability to wipe out life on Earth if the Kerbals do not comply.

Bartdon and his crew return to orbit and rendez-vous with Laroque. Their mission continues with further prospection of the Martian moons, Phobos and Deimos. However, the Board has grown tired of Bartdon's insubordination. With all the data they need to begin their ambitious plan of colonising the System, they attempt to get rid of Bartdon and his crew by detonating hidden explosives onboard both Laroque, and Bartdon's lander. Both ships are crippled.

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In an attempt to salvage the situation, Omelek Space Center operates independently from the Resource Companies, and recovers Camwise from Antarctica. He helps them devise a rescue mission, allowing Lisabeth and the crew remaining onboard Laroque to save Bartdon and his team on Phobos. They then proceed to refuel Laroque and perform a transfer back to Earth.

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Part Five: L'Enfant Sauvage

Spoiler

 

Part Five: l'Enfant Sauvage begins with a secret meeting between Camwise and Froemone in the Australian outback. Froemone explains how all operations have moved to a new site in Guinea called Madang, and that the Board is designing and building the hardware necessary to mine Near Earth Asteroids and gather resources for exploration and colonisation missions to the outer Sol System. He also confirms that Bartdon and his crew were apparently killed whilst attempting to return to Earth onboard the Martian shuttle.

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Camwise shuns his old friends and goes undercover, assuming the identity of a deceased technician called Kerski. He manages to rejoin the space programme, and is sent to work on the first asteroid mining ship, Prosperity.

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Meanwhile, Steledith receives a visit from Special Investigator Samrod who reveals the Board's plans for a crewed mission to the Jupiter system. She manages to steal the last images recorded by Fontanes Three of the giant planet's inner moon, Metis. She flees Madang space centre to an unknown destination.

Camwise and his pilot Jenbles, are sent up to Lunar Distant Retrograde Orbit where they board Prosperity, heading to asteroid Y13-HO3. They are to be the first crew of deep space resource miners.

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Camwise and Jenbles spend more than a year on asteroid Y13-HO3, successfully extracting water that is sent back to lunar orbit and testing new hardware. It is a lonely, difficult life, and Camwise - in a fit of madness - is tempted to kill his companion and use the asteroid to threaten the Board and upset the status quo back on Earth. In the end, his kerbality prevails and he comes up with an alternative plan.

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Camwise and Jenbles are recovered by Prosperity and return to lunar orbit where Special Investigator Samrod is preparing to take a crew down to explore sites on the Moon's surface with a powerful new lander. During an unscheduled EVA he hijacks the station, using the lander for propulsion. Samrod and the rest of the crew are forced to abandon the station and return to Earth. 

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To trick the Board into believing that he is dead, he then make a low pass across the surface of the Moon, crashing some of Prosperity's modules into the surface. A few minutes prior to impact, he transmits a passionate speech, urging all of the Kerbals on Earth to rise up and rebel against the tyranny of the Resource Companies.

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Now free to roam the Sol System unnoticed, Camwise returns to Y13-HO3 and salvages additional equipment from the mining station there. He cobbles together a ship that he believes is capable of interplanetary travel, naming it L'Enfant Sauvage. He plots a course for the gas giant Jupiter, where he hopes to make contact with more of the Transmare's datacores. 

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Meanwhile, we return to Bartdon's story more than three years previously. After capturing successfully into orbit around Earth, their shuttle Quissac is deorbited by a tug sent up to meet them, a manoeuvre that Bartdon strongly suspects is an intentional move by the Board to get rid of him for good. Bartdon manages to blow the tug off their tale using explosives, but it is too late to stop Quissac from reentering. They are trapped on board a Martian shuttle that was never designed to bring them home safely through the Earth's atmosphere...

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1 hour ago, UnusualAttitude said:

I also bring some good news: the next episode is more or less done and will be published very shortly.

YEAH!!!!!! I have been waiting for this! :) :D

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:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D

wooooooooooo content 

Edited by lunardog15
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YEAR 13, DAY 121. BARTDON.

We sat buckled into our seats and hoped for the best.

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Groans and tremors echoed through Quissac's hull as she belly-flopped into the upper reaches of the atmosphere. The tortured ensemble of metal and composites played a dirge that spanned the entire spectrum of frequencies. Deep, unnerving whispers of infrasound. Jarring, high-pitched screeches and creaks.

Of all of the crewed spacecraft ever built by Kerbalkind, none was as well-traveled as Quissac. Assembled in one of the trendier technology parks in Tanegashima, she had then been hauled out to the sandy wastelands of Hammaguir for the most extensive test campaign any of our hardware had ever been put through. Then it was back to the Pacific and Omelek where she had been strapped to the top of a massive booster and blasted into space, never to return. At least, that had been the original plan.

Quissac had been designed to put a crew of four down on the surface of the Red Planet, to keep them alive for a few months and to return them safely to orbit. End of story. She had achieved this flawlessly and her mission should have come to an end once she returned to Laroque. But things hadn't really played out as expected and we had asked so much more of her. And dammit, she had delivered.

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A second trip to the Martian surface, an unexpected detour to the moon Phobos, and a rather unflattering stand-in as a tug for our ride home through interplanetary space: Quissac had done it all without complaint. Never had any of our hardware been pushed so far beyond its original design specifications and come through with flying colours.

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But now, Quissac had had enough. She was weary. You could feel it.

She no longer felt like the crisp, tight ship that had brought us to a majestic landing on Lunae Planum nearly two years previously. She was starting to feel more like a collection of random parts flying in close formation. And yet, she now faced her greatest challenge: returning to her home planet, and keeping us alive in the process.

Karanda was cautiously optimistic that such a feat was indeed possible. After all, the ceramic tiles that coated Quissac's belly had so far proven to be perfectly adequate and had been originally designed for Earth re-entry anyway. There had been no need to develop new material for the mere matter of making the first trip to a distant planet when an off-the-shelf solution was ready and waiting, left over from the spaceplane programme.

In addition, now that the Mars shuttle was empty of supplies and equipment and had only a trickle of fuel left in her tanks, she had a tiny ballistic coefficient. She would wade into Earth's atmosphere like an obese parody of the leviathan of ancient times, engulfed in fire as she made a dramatic descent towards the African continent. Munvey had predicted that we would come down two hundred klicks inland from the west coast. Returning to the birthplace of Kerbalkind would be a fitting way to end our first voyage to another planet, would it not?

It also happened to be about as far as possible from Tanegashima and the sphere of influence of the Trans Pacific Resource Company, which was damned fine by me. Would Trans Atlantic, the locally dominant faction, be any kinder to us? This remained to be seen. One thing at a time, in any case. Our main concern would be surviving the next few minutes.

The Karman Line came and went. Technically, we were no longer in space and could therefore claim to have made it back to our home planet. But those last hundred kilometres, as always, would sort the living, breathing kerbonauts who'd made it from the heroes who had not.

Indeed, as we were still far out over the Atlantic Ocean and streaking through the mesosphere, things began to get hot.

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The first part of Quissac to give up the ghost was the external camera situated beneath the craft's nose. Karanda, gazing at her screen, had warned us that this would probably happen. Munvey had shrugged it off, droning “It's only eye candy, anyway. You've all seen Earth before, haven't you?” Clearly, the idea of hurtling blindly towards the ground at Mach 25 was all in a day's work for this Kerbal. If anyone could get us down, Munvey could.

Karanda was more concerned about the shower of debris from the fried camera unit that had been ripped away from its mount, peppering Quissac's hull. Her console beeped angrily about the impacts detected on both of the forward engine pods. She frowned at it for a moment before announcing that the engine parameters were still nominal and that they should start when the time came.

“Copy that CE,” said Munvey. “Attitude thrusters seem to be holding out just fine. Let me know if anything else is about to blow.”

Although we were now flying blind, the map screen in front of me showed that we were creeping up on the African coast. We would be over dry land in just a few minutes' time.

As we sank further into the atmosphere Quissac began to rock gently from side to side, lacking any proper wings to provide stability. The shuttle's tortured swan song grew in intensity as the atmosphere around us thickened and a pale glow filtered through the windows at the top of the crew cabin as the air around us reached searing temperatures. My crew mates sweated in their suits beside me. It felt like being part of some kind of odd mass cremation.

“Aerofoils beginning to bite, looks like we got-...”

Munvey was cut off in mid sentence by an ominous thud from Quissac's starboard bow. The shuttle lurched sharply and then settled, caught by the thrusters.

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“Report, CE!” I snapped.

“Forward right engine is... gone...” said Karanda, gaping at her monitor.

“Please clarify 'gone' CE?”

“Gone, as in no longer attached to our craft, PI.”

Dammit, my blasted ship was falling apart around me! I closed my eyes and pictured our crippled shuttle plunging earthwards surrounded by a cloud of debris that would be seen by anyone within a thousand miles of the African coast. A fiery plume across the sky that would mark the end of my challenge to the Board's reckless pursuits. The end of my crew, after all we had been through together.

I looked around the cabin. Karanda and Mitzon; our engineers. They had worked so hard to keep us breathing during the long sunward voyage and now they sat with their hands tied, with nothing to do but provide damage reports as the atmosphere tore into their handiwork and the final seconds of our mission ticked away.

Desfal, the young investigator I had chosen to assist me, gripped his seat and stared forward, eyes wide. I felt sorry for the boy. He certainly didn't deserve to be caught up in such a mess.

And Lisabeth, our second pilot. She was the only one who gave the appearance of complete calm. Arms crossed in front of her, she sat ready to brace with what could have been a slight smile on her lips as if she was enjoying this somehow. So young, and yet ready for the end already...

We couldn't fail now! We were so close to making it! So much remained to be done, now more than ever. For the sake of damned, wretched Kerbalkind.

“Munvey...” I said looking down at him as he wrestled with Quissac's controls. “You still have three of the damned things. Put us down gently would you, old boy?”

The words had barely left my mouth when Quissac pitched violently in the opposite direction as something gave way on the port side. The ship's funeral dirge reached a crescendo, but even that was not enough to cover the awful bang that marked the departure of another engine.

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There was a moment of horrified silence on the coms channel. Karanda's report was unnecessary. Everyone knew what had just happened.

“Well, PI,” Munvey said at last, “we're still waiting for the doctor in physics to tell us how many engines we have left.”

“Precisely one more than it took you to stick the first Moon landing, CP! I trust that you will cope,” I tossed back.

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Mercifully, the heat began to subside as we screamed in over the continental coast. It looked like the remaining engines would make it. The craft was now wallowing from side to side. Munvey had switched off the attitude thrusters to preserve the precious trickle of fuel that sloshed in the bottom of Quissac's tanks. It would be used during the final few seconds before we touched down. Whether we lived or died was now down to those rear engines starting, and the following impact being... survivable.

The radio-altimeter on the screen before me ticked down to the moment of truth at a vertiginous rate. I threw one last glance at the map. We would land somewhere in the mossy plains to the West of the Congo River. At least the damned terrain would be in our favour.

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Quissac dropped to subsonic. The atmosphere had finished its work. Munvey punched open the shuttle's bay doors and the mossy ground streaked past below, rich and dark in the mid-morning sunlight. We were now merely a few hundred miles per hour away from home.

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“Brace your butts, boys and gals! If you can still move, I want an immediate evacuation once we're immobile. Now, I want to see all of your ugly mugs again on the ground!”

Altitude warnings chimed out from the cockpit. Munvey went into overdrive, simultaneously pulling back on the controls whilst rotating the engine pods to align against our forward velocity and dropping the landing gear.

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The LV-909: the most reliable engine ever to roll off a Kerbal assembly line. Now, just two of these magnificent pieces of machinery lay between us and instant annihilation. There was a distant rumble from somewhere behind us as the ignition process began...

Not today...” I heard Munvey mutter.

...and a kick as they sputtered into life one last time.

Ignition!”

My body pulled forward against the straps holding me into my seat. The thrust continued for a few seconds, gaining in intensity as the tanks drained dry. One question remained: had Munvey timed this right?

Bang!!!

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The engines cut out and in the same instant there was a massive blow that almost struck me senseless, followed by another brief moment of weightlessness. Quissac's failing attitude control had allowed the nose to drop and when she struck she bounced, rising back into the air as if reluctant to bring her final flight to an end.

Then it was over with a crunch. The port landing gear had collapsed and Quissac scraped to a halt with a distinct list to one side.

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The ship had barely stopped moving but I was already unbuckling my harness and shouting orders.

“Everybody out, dammit!!!”

I pulled myself out of my seat and immediately collapsed onto all fours, smote by one full gee after nearly three years of partial gravity. Shouting hoarsely, I pushed my crewmates ahead of me as we slithered for the hatch to the rear of the crew compartment. One by one, we made it to the ladder and out into the darkness of the cargo bay beyond.

Lisabeth slid, Karanda and Mitzon tumbled. Desfal missed the ladder altogether and hit the ground ten feet below heavily. I followed suit and landed on top of him, unable to control my fall. Bruised and battered, as one seething mass of arms and legs, we clawed our way out from beneath our spacecraft and into the sunlight. Munvey had made it out through the cockpit's emergency hatch and joined us. We were clear.

I rolled over and propped myself on one elbow, appraising the sorry sight of my intrepid crew of interplanetary explorers writhing through the damp moss on their bellies.

Well, any landing you can crawl away from, eh...?

After a short rest, I found that I could stand. Barely. Light-headed, I fumbled with the latch of my helmet and managed to remove it somehow.

After months in the vacuity of space, my senses were immediately assaulted by the overwhelming sounds and smells of Earth. The stiff breeze from the East that ruffled my hair and had probably saved our lives, scrubbing off those last few knots as we touched down. The creaks and groans coming from the structure of our ship as she bled off the heat of our hellish reentry. Hissing noises and small clouds of steam where she had come to rest on the wet ground. The pungent, wholesome scent of the vegetation beneath my boots and the sickly-sweet stench of vomit as Desfal threw up the contents of his stomach beside me. Welcome home, Bartdon.

I tossed my helmet away, threw open my arms and bellowed loudly. At the sky. At the Board of Directors. At every single other soul on this planet but at no-one in particular.

Damn you all to hell! Do you even realise who you were trying to mess with, you blasted imbeciles? We made it, dammit!”

My ranting was interrupted by the sound of an aircraft approaching. Damn, that was quick. They must have already been in the air waiting for us to come down.

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The turboprop made a low pass, roaring overhead before banking into a wide curve to land at a safe distance. As it taxied up, it dropped a ladder.

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“On your feet and keep that line straight,” I said to my crew as it approached and came to a halt. “Be ready for anything.”

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A swarm of Kerbals dressed in standard-issue security gear slid down the ladder and hit the ground running. They had us surrounded in seconds and the kerb in charge stepped forward, snapping smartly to attention as he addressed us.

“Security Officer Andorf of Team Six, Sector Five, Trans Atlantic. Welcome back to Earth, Quissac. Is your ship secure?”

“Let's just say that it hasn't blown up... yet,” I said, staggering up to meet him. “I am Principal Investigator Bartdon and I am in charge of this ship and its crew. What are your orders, SO?”

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“I've been ordered to take you to an undisclosed safehouse immediately, PI. Trans Atlantic CEO Sidke will join you there for debriefing as soon as it is possible for him to make the journey without compromising your location.”

“The CEO, eh? Short-circuiting the Board of Directors? Who does this Sidke think he is?”

“It's for your own safety, PI.” Andorf's face revealed nothing as he ignored my question. “I strongly suggest that you comply.”

“And my crew?”

“You will all be taken to separate locations. You will be unable to communicate, at least for the time being.”

So this was it. Yet another leap into the unknown. Who could we trust? What choice did we have?

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I turned to look at my crew, shrugged and then stumbled towards Andorf. I grabbed him by the front of his jacket. I'd meant it to be a gesture of intimidation, but my knees gave way from the effort and I ended up clinging to him to save myself from falling.

“Listen carefully, SO,” I rasped. “The lads and lasses behind me happen to be the damned finest bunch of kerbonauts you'll ever have the honour of meeting. You just keep them safe, d'you hear me? That's all I ask.”

“You have my word, PI. It is also currently in the CEO's best interest.”

“Then you may carry out your orders, SO.”

Two members of the security team carted me off towards the awaiting turboprop. The air around our crash site began to throb as more aircraft approached. Andorf began shouting instructions.

“Make sure her fuel tanks are vented! The sappers are on their way and we'll be scrapping her as soon as they get here. We have three hours to make this site spotless!”

I shrugged off my escort as we reached the bottom of the ladder as I would not allow myself the indignity of being carried. I stopped to look at Quissac one last time, knowing that within minutes, the engineers would be cutting into her hull and erasing all traces of the crash site.

“Farewell, you damn fine hulk of a blasted ship,” I muttered to myself as I hauled myself up the ladder, rung after agonising rung.

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“Farewell, and thanks for the ride.”

Edited by UnusualAttitude
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3 hours ago, UnusualAttitude said:

Congo

Dont you mean Kongo?

Also, Woot MOAR!!! Good to know you're still alive! 

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3 hours ago, HamnavoePer said:

Dont you mean Kongo?

The absolutely best thing about Real Solar System is that we don't have to abuse the letter K all the time. ;)

1 hour ago, superstrijder15 said:

I look at the KSP forum again after like a year, and instantly find this! Amazing!

Nice timing. Stick around. If all goes as planned, there will be more.

7 minutes ago, Thedrelle said:

Aw, they are gonna tear down the Quissac.

how sad is that.

Very sad. It was some months ago now, but I can remember having a massive lump in my throat when the time came to hit Recover Vessel. That craft and I spent some seriously long evenings together.

It's not everyday your Mission Summary reads both Recovery of a vessel returned from the surface of Mars and Recovery of a vessel returned from the surface of Phobos.

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Contracts We Did Not Accept, Volume 21, Chapter12. 

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Seriously, Lodlock & Co. You don't want to be on that ship, believe me...

Edited by UnusualAttitude
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On 12/4/2018 at 9:34 PM, roboslacker said:

Well, that was a tense binge.

A "tense binge" sounds like something I would do on a friday night after a particularly hard week, but I'll take that as a compliment...

Thanks, pal. Glad you enjoyed it.

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I love how you pointed out the irony of the crew making it millions of miles to another planet and back, only to almost get killed by petty politics within a cosmic inch of their home.

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YEAR 13, DAY 156. BARTDON.

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Dear Principal Investigator Bartdon,

We have never met in person, so allow me to introduce myself. I am CEO Sidke of the Trans Atlantic Resource Company. I am the individual responsible for sending the security team that picked up your crew when your shuttle came down.

I am also responsible for your present situation. I fear you may consider it to be a captivity of sorts, but I assure you that this is the only way for you to remain safe for the time being.

As I'm sure you have already gathered, the directors and benefactors of all of the major resource companies were furious at the way you handled the Martian Transmission. Some of them disagreed with the Chairman's decision to try and eliminate you, as they suspected that you withheld information that could be vital to their business strategies. However, all of them concur that you have hindered their financial interests at almost every step.

Forgive me for putting this bluntly, but they would have submitted you to a brutal interrogation and killed you, Bartdon. They didn't want you “out of the picture,” or even in a prison-cave. Just dead. You have sheer luck to thank for coming down in Sector Five: I know most of the Security Officers there personally, and I believe that I have convinced the Board that your craft was destroyed. Your dramatic landing certainly made things easier in that respect.

I, however, do not wish your demise. On the contrary, your actions have shown that we might agree to a certain extent on what is to be done about the threat of the alien constructs. Our cooperation could be salutary for Kerbalkind as a whole.

But for now, my hands are tied. I am merely in charge of running Trans Atlantic and must project the illusion of absolute loyalty to the Board. There is growing dissent within the company, but it is not yet sufficient to trigger an open rebellion. If any proof of my true intentions falls into the wrong hands, then a dire fate awaits me also.

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Despite this, you deserve some answers, so I have taken the risk of writing to you. Don't be offended if the gentlekerb who handed you this letter personally didn't stop to chat. He is putting himself at risk too by delivering my mail.

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He arrived – and left – by the Air Service flight that resupplies the island once a month. I'm sorry but I had to send you to the most remote place I could think of.

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I'm afraid that the facilities are a bit run-down. It was once a weather station, but our space programme made the research performed there redundant and it fell into disrepair. The members of the skeleton crew probably won't recognise you, and if they do, they won't care anyway.

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I'm not sure that you will manage to blend in and make yourself at home, but give it your best shot. You might be there for some time, I'm afraid. Your crewmates were taken to similarly remote and secure locations. As I write this, they are all safe to the best of my knowledge.

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Watch the skies. If anyone other than the monthly freight-dogs approaches that runway, it's either my own personal assistant come to fetch you, or something has happened to me and you are on your own.

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There is a basement under the ruined building on the west side of the island. Hide there until they are gone. What you should do afterwards is up to you. I wish you good luck if this should come to pass.

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I hope we may yet meet in person. We will have a lot to discuss. Patience, Bartdon. Change is coming.

Sincerely yours, CEO Sidke.

PS: I had a set of clubs left in that basement. At least you will be able to practice your swing.

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Edited by UnusualAttitude
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