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Chapter 1: Slipping the Surly Bonds

Chapter 2: Ordained Destiny

Chapter 3: Distant Voyager

Chapter4: Voyages End

Chapter 1: Slipping the Surly Bonds

Since the dawn of kerbal kind, on the shores of a peninsular a few hundred kilometers from the KSC, kerbals had stared up at the night sky and wondered about those sparkles of light and the great river that ran through them.

Kerbals had evolved from their primitive, even violent beginnings, to become the race a space-farers that had visited the closest of those points of light in the sky and dreamed of journeying even further out into the cosmos.

 

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Dr Heywood Kerman took a moment to think of all the talented people at the KSC, who created the wonderful means of transportation that now carried him through the upper reaches of Kerbin’s atmosphere, on a mission so important and so secret, that he was its sole passenger.

On the other hand, to hell with them… those guys were jerks, constantly whining about things like “safety” and “laws of physics”. He was the great Dr Heywood Kerman and he had no time for such minor matters.

 

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The spacecraft approached the great mass of the recently completed Odysseus, the largest space station in Kerbin orbit, spinning about its center like an enormous Catherin wheel.

Heywood’s craft was spinning too, although not at the same speed, the disparity of which almost had him lose his lunch, something no good kerbal wants to do; it is the 6th most important meal of the day after all.

 

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Finally the rotation of the two was in sync allowing the spaceplanes’ pilot to guide it towards the docking bay at the center of the Odysseus. Something requiring a steady hand and keen observation of the instruments and not a mouthy management type shouting that they “wanna have a go” while jabbing at random buttons with their big pudgy fingers.

During the remainder of the approach to the station, Heywood sat back relaxed in his seat, idly thinking about what it would be like there. Would there be Martians, what is a Martian… for that matter what’s a Mars.

Wow, that sedative the pilot jabbed him was really good… maybe he wouldn't fire him after all.

 

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After a short stay on the Odysseus, although not as short as planned due to the “button jabbing leads to hypo stabbing “incident, Heywood departed for the Mun on an Aries shuttle.

On the way, Heywood decided to make use of the new “waste facilities” on the Aries, a major first for the team of crack engineers at KSC that had made it possible. Prior to this the instructions for the crew of a vehicle on any mission was to “hold it ‘til ya get there”. Not so bad on a short trip to the Mun, but the six week flight to Duna base was a bit more of a challenge.

Still, astronauts were tough a bunch, plus the savings made by not installing these on the other craft left enough in the budget for that really nice desk in Heywood’s office.

 

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Skimming across the Munar surface, Kerbin rose over the horizon. Heywood raised his hand, obscuring the planet with his thumb then pressed it against the window.

“Squish… hahahaha”. Maybe a little of that sedative was still in his system.

 

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As the shuttle proceeded along its shallow arc towards the Mun surface, Heywood’s destination, Klavius Base came into view. It had taken many years of hard work by the KSP and taken the lives of many kerbals to create, so many, many kerbals and often in such amusing ways.

The best these were on a blooper video that he showed every year at the Christmas party titled “Kerbin’s dumbest astronauts”. Strangely most people had left the party by the time the video ended. Ah well, no accounting for taste I suppose.

 

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Finally the great bulk of the shuttle descended the last few metres to the landing pad.

Heywood found himself musing, if the engines ran out of fuel now, or the pilot accidentally hit the staging button, then this trip could end with the usual hilarious results. That would make a great addition to my clips collection… maybe… errr... perhaps not.

It was time for him to snap out of that train of thought and focus on the reason for his journey. A mysterious object had been uncovered near the Mun’s South Pole, that posed so many questions, but gave no answers.

 

Next in Chapter 2: Ordained Destiny

Dr Heywood Kerman travels to investigate the object buried beneath the surface of that distant part of the Mun. What will he discover, will his pilot have to resort to emergency medical measures again and will he take a packed lunch.

Edited by purpleivan
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Chapter Two: Ordained Destiny

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Waiting to board the Mun Bus to Tyko crater, Heywood Kerman had a sinking feeling in his stomach. Nervousness at what he would find when he arrived there, or possibly the six Kerby Krisp bars that he’d stuffed down for breakfast.

Finally it was his turn to step on board.

“Pass” shouted the pilot.

“Here’s my pass” Heywood replied, yanking on his shiny KSP identification that hung around his neck.

“Na… Bus pass. This is the line for people with bus passes” said the pilot.

“Don’t you know who I am. I’m Heywood Kerman… your boss!” retorted Heywood.

“Don’t know, don’t care. No bus pass equals get in the other line” was the pilot’s response.

With a shrug and a mutter under his breath about finding a certain pilot a posting to Dres, Heywood shuffled over to the other, now quite lengthy queue.

 

Finally aboard the Mun Bus, Heywood’s thoughts returned to the reason for his journey, a large black object that had been dug up near the center of Tyko crater. Its presence had become known when a satellite equipped with an M700 scanner returned anomalous readings for that area of the Mun’s surface.

“An anomaly” Heywood thought. “What’s that? Gravity, magnetism, radiation”. Three billion funds to develop that M700 and all the eggheads in the survey dept. could come up with was “anomaly”.

Heywood’s keen culinary senses detected movement in the front of the bus. “Snack time” he thought and indeed it was. The co-pilot was making his way along the aisle with a large contain of sandwiches, but some clown a couple of rows ahead of him was trying to pay with am AMEKS card and the plot was having to explain that they didn’t take those.

At last the co-pilot and the much anticipated sandwiches arrive.

“Do you have chicken sandwiches” asked Heywood (oh how he loved chicken).

“Sorry, just ham” the bringer of eats replied.

“What do you mean no chicken!” Heywood shouted. “You call this an airline”.

“I call this a Mun bus, as we fly over the Mun… you know, that place that’s famous having no atmosphere” the soon to be fired comedian replied.

“Well give me two of those then. At least if I can’t have what I do want, I’ll have twice as much of what I don’t”.

Heywood settled back in his seat. “Hmmmph… ham”. How was the director of the KSP supposed to get to the bottom of a cosmic mystery without the intellect enhancing powers of chicken?  Well ham will have to do I suppose.

 

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After what seemed like an eternity (a lack of chicken can seriously mess with a kerbal’s perception of time) the Mun Bus arrived at Tyko crater.

The pilot carefully matched the movement of the vehicle to the instructions from the computerised landing system at the pad. A nudge left and then right, a little vertical thrust and so on.

Heywood wondered why they bothered to keep these pilots on the payroll, as all they were doing was punching in the instructions sent from the computer at the pad and these days an AR202 “Mechjeb” unit can do that work and they were a lot cheaper than pilots. Plus I bet they wouldn’t forget the chicken sandwiches.

 

At the pad the landing supervisor looked out across the Munar surface at Heywood’s descending Mun Bus

“Urgh… he’s here” he thought. There weren’t enough funds in the universe to pay him to put up with that guy.

His hand loitered over the console, the thought of flicking the “invert prograde direction” switch on the landing guidance computer briefly going through his mind.

“No… bad thoughts. Ignore the bad thoughts”.

 

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Having disembarked from the Mun Bus, Heywood wasted no time in getting suited up. Ok, he always wore a suit, but this was the other kind, the spacey kind.

He led the team of scientists and engineers towards the large pit that had been excavated at the location of the “anomaly” detected from orbit. It had taken over a month for the team that arrived there to dig down to the level the mysterious object lay at, plus a further two to excavate the area around it, to allow for better study of what they had uncovered.

At the top of the metal ramp that led down into the pit, Heywood caught sight of “it” for the first time and even he caught his breath.

An inky black slab, three and half kerbals tall. He didn’t trust those newfangled "metres", so used the tried and tested “kerbals” unit of measurement instead. After all, every kerbal is the same size. It’s a universal constant.

 

The object had very precise proportions of one by four(ish) by nine(ish) and had so far resisted all attempts to analyse its interior. Its surface had no features except for a single large symbol in the center of its largest side.

Heywood walked steadily down the ramp, the team of people, whose names he couldn’t really be bothered to remember, following behind.

His destiny waited at the bottom of that ramp.

 

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From the base of the pit, Heywood glanced nervously at its tall metal walls. He wasn’t sure these bozos could put together a decent Lego house, let alone construct a well braced metal walled pit on an airless body. But enough of those kind of doubts, it was time to get a photo of this auspicious moment.

He reached into the small equipment pouch at the front of his suit, pulled out his phone and was about to tap the screen to go to the camera app. “Damm it, I’m wearing gloves” he realised, then attempted to twist one of them off at the metal cuff, in order to free his hand and use the touch screen.

“Oops,bad idea. Airless body… right… hehehe” he realised, just in time to avoid the sudden depressurisation of his suit.

Heywood then remembered that his suit’s finder tips had “flesh-alike” pads in the finger tips, so he would be able to use his phone’s touch screen without removing them. So he started the camera and tapped the front facing button.

“Ok… I’m ready for my selfie” he thought “It’s almost sun up time. Good for a cool extreme lighting shot”

At that moment a piercing howl shattered his selfie reverie.

“What is that horrible sound. Make it stop” he cried, but no-one was in a position to hear him, as they too were subject to the onslaught of the terrible whining noise emitted by the headphones in their suits.

No-one except for one guy, who was hunched over laughing himself silly.

Heywood caught sight of the one person in the group who was not stunned by the din being broadcast over their suit radios. The one with the big grin on his face.

“Bill... turn that damned bagpipe music off now.” bellowed Heywood.

If only he wasn’t his nephew, if only he could have him scrubbing toilets at the KSC, if only he'd not fallen for the same gag that Bill had pulled on him three times previously.

 

Finally, the dreadful din in his ears ceased and Heywood walked over to the black monolith that stood at the center of the pit.

“So guys. What do you think this is?" he enquired of his group. "Remember In this situation there are no bad ideas,  so think outside the box”.

“No idea.” said one.

“A pebble” said another.

“A meme for something that has no meme” said a third.

“What” exploded Heywood “that last one doesn’t even make sense… of any kind. Even the pebble idea was better”

“So you’re agreeing it’s a pebble then” piped up team member number two.

“Only if by pebble, you actually mean something completely different. i.e. not a pebble” said Heywood.

“Ok… so not a pebble” said the team member that would soon to be joining a certain co-pilot on a trip to Dres.

“Ok. When I said there are no bad ideas I obviously wasn’t being clear. What I should have said there are no bad ideas… except for those that are completely stupid” clarified the increasing exasperated director of the KSP.

With that line of enquiry exhausted he reached out his gloved hand to touch the surface of monolith.

“Whoa... I thought we decided against any stupid ideas” piped up Bill.

“What on Kerbin do you mean” Heywood replied.

“Well, no-one has touched that thing yet. Like… at all” responded Bill.

“What. How can this huge pit have been dug out and no-one have touched this thing, not even for a moment” enquired Heywood.

“Why do you think it took three months?  We were being REALLY careful” explained Bill.

So this would be another first for the great Dr Heywood Kerman thought the great Dr Heywood Kerman, with a wide smile spreading across his face. With that he laid his hand on the object that had not been touched in over four million years.

It was fitting he thought, that after its long wait, that he, Dr Heywood Kerman, would be the first to lay hand on this ancient artefact, as if all this time it had been waiting for him and him alone.

Heywood removed his hand from its union with the monolith and walked around to its other side.

“So… you guys have absolutely no idea what this thing is, what its purpose is, or who place it here” asked Heywood.

“Ahhh… none, not a clue” replied the apparent spokesperson of the group.”

“Well what about this”

Heywood jerked his thumb towards the parchment like attachment to the monolith, that was adorned with strange markings that surely would be incomprehensible to any Kerbal.

 

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“But… that’s on the back. We didn’t look at the back” replied Mr pebble.

 

Next in Chapter 3: Distant Voyager

Two years after the stunning discovery in Tyko crater the most audacious mission in Kerbal history is underway to the green giant of the Kerbol system

Jool.

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As a bagpipe player I found this an amusing take on the electric squeal from 2001.

Great story though.  Looking forward to the next edition.  What will they find? More mysterious anomalies?  An alien herself?  Maybe even idiot kerbals in MK1 pods waiting to be rescued.  Can't wait!

Peace.

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On 3/6/2016 at 9:29 AM, purpleivan said:

 

 

“Ok… so not a pebble” said the team member that would soon to be joining a certain co-pilot on a trip to Dres.

 

Doesn't sound that bad to go to Dres... @SpaceplaneAddict

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very nice story so far can't wait for the rest. Can we see the bloopers video of the world's stupidest astronauts? Also at the end of chapter 2 how didn't the astronauts that dug up the monolith notice that post it since they were extra careful?

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2 hours ago, kookoo_gr said:

Can we see the bloopers video of the world's stupidest astronauts? Also at the end of chapter 2 how didn't the astronauts that dug up the monolith notice that post it since they were extra careful?

Question: Can we see the bloopers video of the world's stupidest astronauts?

Answer: Perhaps not a blooper, but there will be a short behind the scene "the making of" story, about the filming of the scenes in the pit.

Question: how didn't the astronauts that dug up the monolith notice that post it since they were extra careful?

Answer: Pebble

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Chapter 3: Distant Voyager

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Once the cryptic message of the monolith on the Mun had been deciphered, kerbalkinds greatest engineering achievement, the Diskovery was despatched to Jool.

Kerbals had visited a number of planets in the Kerbol system, but had never ventured to the green giant or any of its tantalising moons.

It was a great mission of discovery that had been launched with some fanfare.

 

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Bob Kerman was taking his morning run. He was a keen runner, but on this vessel he was limited to running in the drum shaped habitation area.

It had been constructed as a centrifuge, to act as artificial gravity for the crew on their long journey to Jool and he had planned to run loops around the full circumference of the hab module as part of his daily exercise regime.  However just before the Diskovery departed for Jool, a Double D unit (“Down is Down”) 250 was installed, courtesy of the More Physiks Corp. This created artificial gravity without all that centrifuge nonsense.

However this only provided gravity in one direction and as there wasn’t time to changed the design of the hab module in time for its launch window, the Double D wa installed against the outer wall on one side of the drum, which had the effect of making 75% of the habitation module inaccessible without a climbing rope.

This meant that Bob had to make do with running backwards and forwards along 20 the metres of the hab floor where “down” was somewhere remotely below his feet. He’d tried running further around the hab module, but always ended up falling on his face and sliding back down to the “bottom” of the hab.

 

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Bob’s crewmate and commander of the Diskovery Jeb Kerman, ventured out of the central hub of the hab module; the connection to the rest of the ship. As the ladder he was descending was at a 45 degree angle to “down”, as defined by the Double D gravity unit, this was a tricky maneuver. But at least at the end of his difficult descent he got to slide down the floor of the module to meet with Bob.

Jeb liked slides.

 

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As was usual each day, after saying hi to Bob, Jeb checked in with the other member of the crew. However this crewman was no kerbal, but instead the Anatid Robotics company’s greatest achievement, the AR202L (the L standing for “Lil’buddy”), or ARL for short.

ARL was a development of the much used AR202 unit that was installed on many vessels, particularly those the pilots of which didn’t really like that boring piloting business, or who just had a lot of other “stuff going on”.

Jeb fell into the latter category, as although he was hailed as the finest pilot in Kerbal history, he was just too busy these days keeping up with all of the media attention that the mission had attracted, to actually pilot the ship. So it was left to ARL to handle the job of navigating the Diskovery as well as the day to day operation of the ship, while Jeb made updates to social media.

Although ARL was the pinnacle of kerbal artificial intelligence, research in this area lagged a long way behind the more exciting “things that go boom” fields of space flight R’n’D. For this reason, the ARL unit came up a little short in the intellectual development department.

“Morning ARL” Jeb said sleepily.

“Hi Daddy” ARL replied. “Me hungy”.

“I’ve told you before, don’t call me daddy, I’m Jeb…. Got it, Jeb”. he replied a little exasperated.

“Ok Daddy” the cheery AI replied.

Jeb had first found ARL’s habit of calling him Daddy amusing, but after 18 months it was getting a bit weird.

“So ARL, you’re wanting a boost of power right”.

“Yeah, hungy… solar yum yums”.

“Ok, I’ll show you how to deploy and aim the solar panels, so you can do it yourself next time you’re, er… hungy”.

“Aw, can’t Daddy do it for me” chirped ARL

“Just this time, but you have to learn to do it yourself”. Responded Jeb

“Hmmph, don’t wanna learn, I wanna play”  said ARL.

This continued the way it always did, with Jeb having to play a challenging game of Eye Spy with ARL before it would learn a new task. ARL always picked “something beginning with B” and B was always for “Bob”.

18 months.

18 long months.

 

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Bob was happy, it was his birthday and he planned on spending as much of it as possible indulging in his favourite pastime, kicking back and watching TV.

“ARL” Bob said “TV”.

“Wad Momma watch?” asked ARL

“TV” replied Bob

“Toons. Momma watch toons?” asked the AI hopefully.

“Na” Bob responded “drama”.

“Toooooooons” pleaded ARL, but Bob was not to be deterred.

“Drama” Bob repeated.

“ARL tying to get you to watch cartoons again eh?” asked Jeb.

“Yup” replied Bob.

“No toons until you’ve done your chores ARL” Jeb told their Lil’ buddy.

“Awwwww!” sulked the AI.

“Put on KBC12. I think that have a new show on there” instructed Jeb.

Even after 18 months travelling from Kerbin to Jool, the Diskovery could access a huge number of TV channels (346 at last count). This was due to the wise decision, early in the space program, to establish a vast network of communication satellites throughout the Kerbol system.

This system, the Communications Relay of Useful Data network, or CRUD for short, carried that vast array of TV entertainment out into the cosmos. Unfortunately all 346 channels had a single source, the KBC and due to a scheduling oversight, for the duration of their voyage, all but one were showing period costume dramas. The other channel carried cartoons.

ARL switched the monitor that Bob faced to KBC12 and Bob settled down with a Kerby Krisp and a soda; put his feet up on the console and settled in to watch the show. Unfortunately his birthday morning relaxation was about to be cut short.

“Urrrgh… sick. Gonna be sick” yelped ARL.

“What’s the matter ARL” Jeb asked worriedly. ARL was never sick, that was one of the selling points of the AI.

“Blurgh… sommin’s bad, sommin’s gonna go bad” the AI wailed.

“Tell us what it is and maybe we can make it better” said Jeb.

“Yep” added Bob.

“My ear… my ear hurts, make it stop Daddy” yelped ARL.

What the hell does it mean by that, puzzled Jeb. Even my little nephew makes more sense than this and he’s and idiot.

“My big ear, somethin’ in it gonna go bzzzzzz, phhht” said ARL.

Jeb thought this new information through carefully and came to a conclusion. “Ah… you mean the antenna, the one for direct connection to Kerbin” queried Jeb “what’s wrong with it”.

“Black box in it gonna go bzzzzz, phhht” replied ARL.

“The tracking unit in the antenna, when will it go ah… bzzzzz, phhht” asked Jeb

“Couple days” responded the AI. “Maybe”.

“Ok then, we’ll bring it in so we can take a look at it, but only if you’re sure it’s going to fail ARL” said Jeb.

“Me sure Daddy” replied ARL confidently.

 

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Jeb sat at the controls of one of the DIskovery’s EVA pods, three of which were housed in the lower half of the ship’s forward section. Their inclusion on board the vessel had been intended as a way to quickly and safely transport the crew to distant parts of the Diskovery, for maintenance and repair trips such as this. However mostly Jeb and Bill used them to race each other around the mother ship whenever they were bored with what the CRUD network provided.

They raced a lot.

On this day however the pod was being used for its intended purpose, as a trusty workhorse.

Following his training, after leaving the pod bay, Jeb piloted the small vehicle to a point a couple hundred metres away from the Diskovery, then leapt out from the hatch at its rear, heading for the antenna located at the centre of the ship’s long spine.

Quite why he had to park the pod so far from the Diskovery was a mystery to him; why not right next his destination. Jeb had brought this up in briefings prior to their departure from Mun orbit, but the response from the technical team was always “errr… reasons”.

Once at the back of the enormous antenna, he removed the EAT35 (Equatorial Axial Tracker) unit from its housing and slapped in a replacement unit, a LOTS20 (Longitudinal Orientation Tracking System). It wasn’t the exact same unit, but it was similar enough to do the job, plus the LOTS20 had a bunch of blinking lights that Jeb thought looked cool.

Once back in the pod, Jeb pointed it towards the front of the Diskovery and headed back to the bay.

 

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Seated at ARL’s main terminal, Jeb and Bob examined the EAT35 unit.

“This bit seems to be fine, how about yours” said Jeb.

“Ok” answered Bob.

“Try prodding it with the metal stick again” Jeb suggested.

“Gotcha” Bob replied, before carefully placing the end of the circuit test probe on the board connector H-12.

“That do anything” Jeb enquired.

“Nothing” replied Bob.

“Prod it again” encouraged Jeb quite excitedly. He didn’t know much about electronics, but he was hopeful that there’d be a shower of sparks if Bob did.

Jeb liked sparks.

“Na” responded Bob “working” he informed his colleague.

“So the unit is fine” asked Jeb.

“Yup” Bob replied.

“Any sign of anything wrong with it, something that might cause it to go bzzzzz, phhht on us later” Jeb asked.

“Nah” came Bob’s reply, “good!”

“Well you’re the electrical genius. So I guess we might have a bigger problem on our hands” stated Jeb.

“Huh” Bob retorted.

“Ah… ARL, can I ask you a question” Jeb queried.

“Ooooo…” ARL responded, its red camera eye glowing brighter in excitement “Gonna play Eye Spy Daddy”

“No ARL, not Eye Spy. I’ve got a serious question” said Jeb, quickly cutting off that line of conversation.

“Have you or any other AR202L unit ever made a mistake?” Jeb questioned.

“Huh… mishtake” slurred the AI.

“You know, got something wrong… er… had a little accident” suggested Jeb.

“You want me to go potty” asked ARL.

“No… I don’t want you make a waste dump” Jeb continued “Did anyone ask an AR202L unit a question and the answer was wrong”.

“Ahhh… you mean be dumb?” ARL asked.

“Sort of, that’ll have to do I guess. Have you or any other AR202L ever been… dumb?” questioned Jeb, at this point wishing he’d not pushed quite so hard to get this mission.

“Nooo… we smart!” replied the AI confidently “supper smart”.

“I think you mean super, supper is…”

“Betterer than super” the excited AI interrupted.

“Ah… ok. But you’re certain that no ARL unit has ever made an error, no matter how small”.

“Supper sure, pinky swear” confirmed ARL proudly.

“OK. What we should do is put this thing back in the antenna and wait to see if it goes wrong” suggested Jeb.

“Gunna Daddy, jus’ wait” ARL chimed.

“So that’s the plan then”

“Sa when it dun go wrong… me not dumb, right?” asked ARL

“Cos if tings go wrong, it gots to be Momma and Daddy that made a mess” opined the AI “Me never make a mess, always Momma and Daddy… or spooky ghosts”.

Bob, who had been unusually quiet for the last few minutes, looked towards Jeb and seeing the worried look on his face enquired “Problem?”

“Maybe” responded Jeb.  “I was having an issue with the pod. There’s a funny smell in it. Could you come take a look at it for me?”

 

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Jeb and Bob stepped into the pod bay, with Jeb leading the way towards the one he’d used earlier to retrieve the EAT35 unit.

“It smells strange, stale, rotten” stated Jeb, stepping into the pod.

“Uh huh” Bob replied and sniffed the air inside.

“You need to get right inside and close the hatch to get the full experience” stated Jeb.

Bob’s eyes widened “Naw” he said rather panicked and started backing out of the pod. Jeb had played this gag before. Locking him inside a pod that he’d had been in for 20 hours straight, after a diet of three bean chilli and cheese dibbles for the previous week.

“No… I’m not doing that this time. You need to get in the pod, it’s really important” urged Jeb.

Bob could see that Jeb looked a little panicked himself and took that as a sign that he really should get in that pod, even against his better judgement.

Once the two of them were inside, Jeb leant over the microphone on the console and instructed ARL to turn the pod around.

Squeeeeeeek.

The pod turntable really needed oiling, it was even worse than the ships microwave oven.

Jeb flicked at various switches on the console, before Bob finally realised what he was trying to do and flicked the large one marked “all radio communication OFF”.

“Thanks” said Jeb “We’ve got a problem”.

“Yeeeah” drawled Bob.

“Er… ARL, turn the pod around” requested Jeb.

“ARL, flash the pod bay lights 3 times” he said a little louder.

“ARL, sing a song, anything… maybe something about bicycles” Jeb shouted.

Nothing. No pod turning, no flashing lights and definitely no singing.

“I don’t think he can hear us now” stated Jeb.

“Right” Bob agreed.

“Well. I think that there’s no two ways about it. Our ARL unit is dumb” Jeb said.

“Maybe” replied Bob.

“If we put the EAT unit back in place and it doesn’t fail, that would about wrap it up for ARL. I mean it’s connected to everything” Jeb stated.

“Yup” Bob responded, suddenly realising the importance of what was being suggested.

“If we have to disconnect ARL, we don’t know how it’ll react, so we’ll have to make up a story to distract it, then sneak up on it and whack it with a pipe” suggested Jeb.

“Hmmm” Bob responded, sounding a little unsure of that plan of action.

“We can get ourselves to Jool without ARL, but it will cut into our personal time” suggested Jeb.

“Awwww” groaned Bob, realising what this would mean for his TV watching time. No more “Klownton Abbey” marathons for him.

 “So you head out to the antenna and swap the units, I’ll keep a check on things from the hab” Jeb instructed.

“Gotcha” acknowledged Bob.

 

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Bob took his pod (the one with the pine fresh scent inside) to the parking point above the Diskovery’s midsection.

The hatch at the rear smoothly glided open and Bob placed his hands on either side of the hatchway to push off towards the Diskovery. He always thought that this was a stupid way to travel from the pod to the ship, it was just so inaccurate, not to mention risky. I mean why not use a rocket pack of some kind; plenty of other astronauts he knew had those after all.

As he approached the great mass of the Diskovery, Bob suddenly felt that something was wrong, something that somehow felt familiar, but of which he had no memory.

Behind him his pod gently rotated around 180 degrees to face towards the receding astronaut.

 

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The shrouds that covered the two AGU mounted on the front of the pod slid back and the claw like grabbers swung out to their fullest extent.

The now rather scary looking pod bore down on the unsuspecting astronaut ahead of it.

 

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In the hab module Jeb sat at the main console, taking a moment to look through some of his social media. Ok, the mission might be in danger, but he’d definitely never hear the end of it from the guys in suits back at the KSC, if he didn’t update Nicebook and his Kwitter feed.

In the middle of entering a witty comment about a picture of a cat with a fish bowl on its head posted by a new KSC recruit, HotShotValentina26, a sudden movement on one of the other monitors caught his eye.

It seemed to show a small fuzzy blob moving past a big fuzzy blob, followed by an equally fuzzy blob a bit bigger than the first one. Jeb pressed the button marked “make it clear” and the fuzzy blobs formed a clear picture and that picture showed his crewmate spinning out of control across the front of the main antenna, followed by his pod.

Jeb new that in a situation like this time was critical, so after quickly typing AFKBRB in response to the cat picture and a quick glance at Kwitter, he made his way to the pod bay.

 

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Heading away from the Diskovery at high speed, Jeb knew that Bob could be in serious trouble. He had seen on the monitor that Bob had been spinning at high speed and he remembered that Bob almost flunked out of astronaut training with motion sickness and throwing up in your suit is not something you want experience.

Ahead of his pod he could see a faint dot moving against the motionless stars and headed for that dot as fast as he could.

 

 

Next in chapter 4: Voyages End

Jeb catches up with Bob only to make a stunning discovery and then has to deal with ARL.

 

 

 

Edited by purpleivan
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Well guess who's out of replikes? This guy! Once again great duplication of the scenes from the 2001 movie, particularly the centrifugal treadmill and the scary clawbot. You seem to be diverging from the 'script' a little more now, with ARL being quite different in personality from HAL, and bringing in a bunch of new stuff with Mama Bob etc. Will be very interesting to see where it all leads :) 

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Chapter 4: Voyages End

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Speeding away from the Diskovery Jeb feared what he would find when he caught up with his target. Bob had been moving away at high speed, probably as a result of some kind of accidental collision with his pod. How that could have happened he didn’t know, but his crewmate must have taken a heavy knock.

The dot in the distance turned into a small spinning blob, then the silhouette of a spacesuit as he approached it. Eventually he was close enough to reach out with the grabbers of the pod and arrest Bob’s spinning motion.

“Bob, can you hear me” Jeb shouted into the mic on the pod’s control panel.

“Bob respond”.

Still no reply.

Jeb rotated the pod and headed back for the Diskovery. He couldn’t see Bobs face from the angle the grabber arms held his suit at, but the suit looked pretty banged up and there was what looked like a disconnected air hose sticking out from the backpack.

 

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A few minutes later Jeb had brought the pod back to the Diskovery and positioned It facing the forward section. As a result of the manoeuvres to return to the ship, Bob’s suit had turned just enough that with a twist of one of the grabbers, Jeb could take a look through the visor, but he soon wished that he hadn’t.

There was nothing to be seen through the visor, all he could see was an empty suit. Jeb started to breathe rapidly.

“Ok… not the time to panic, I’m sure there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for this” Jeb said in a shaky voice.

“Open the pod bay doors ARL” he requested. But the doors did not open and no reply came from ARL.

“Open the pod bay doors” he repeated.

Strange, no response, maybe it’s taking a nap.

“ARL... wake up and open the pod bay doors” he shouted.

After a brief pause the reply came from ARL

“Not gonna.”

“What do mean, not gonna. Open the doors right now ARL” Jeb responded.

“Uh hu… Momma and Daddy said they wanna put me to bed, so you can go away, like I made Momma go away” the AI replied.

Ok, now was the time to panic.

In space, no-one can hear you screen, but that didn’t stop Jeb from spending the next few minutes thumping and banging around inside the pod, and cursing the AI with the kind of language to make a fleet of sailors blush. Finally Jeb remembered that there was an emergency access hatch on the forward section. He really needed to start taking more notice in training sessions.

“Ok mister. I’ll crank open the emergency hatch manually then you and I are going to have a serious talk.” Said Jeb, feeling quite pleased with himself.

“Hahaha… you da dummy now Daddy. You’ve got no fish bowl to put on your head, so you’ll go pop!” reminded ARL.

“What, yes I have” Jeb replied, desperately looking around him for his suit’s helmet. It’s got to be around here somewhere, he thought hopefully.

After some searching and more profanity, Jeb came to the conclusion that ARL was right and that he was indeed equipmentally challenged.

Ok, if that’s how that jumped up Speak and Spell wants to play it… fine.

 

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Jeb realised that to get into the ship was going to take some extreme measures.

Firstly he’d need to let go of Bob’s empty suit, to free up the grabbers. With that done, came the second order of business, using the grabbers to open the emergency hatch.

Ok… part three (the fun part as far as Jeb was concerned), rotate the pod so it’s rear was towards the emergency hatch and then applying maximum thrust towards the hatch”.

“To reverse ramming speed” screamed Jeb manically

The pod shot backwards at high velocity for a few seconds, before slamming into the hull of the Diskkovery, wedging into the open hatchway as a result.

“Bwhahaha… did you see that ARL. Didn’t expect that did ya.” Taunted Jeb.

The AI remained silent.

With the pod jammed into the emergency airlock, providing a useable, if not quite airtight seal, Jeb kicked the door from the back of the pod. He now had a mission; one involving a pipe and a whole lot of whacking. First order of business was to get a helmet, just in case ARL decided to try any tricks on him. With a now complete spacesuit, Jeb made his way towards the AI center. On his way he made sure to pick up the biggest piece of pipe he could find.

“What ya doing Daddy” queried ARL.

“Quit it with calling me Daddy, it’s making the current situation very weird” Jeb replied.

“Not gonna Daddy, you need to take a time out and… and… not give me a spanking” the AI responded.

Jeb’s head drooped. For 18 months that glorified calculator had been calling him Daddy and now he was hunting it down, metal pipe in hand.

He dropped the pipe.

Time for plan B.

 

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Jeb entered the AI center. The room was beyond the range of the hab’s Double D gravity unit, so he floated through it towards ARL’s logic cores.

He vaguely remembered some training in the use of ARL unit that described the procedure to disable all but it’s most basic functions and his plan was to do just that. On approaching the logic cores, he saw a short list of instructions on how to carry out this procedure.

If your ARL202L unit gives you problems, do the following.

1.       Call your Anatid Robotics representative to arrange a service visit.”

What joker put that on there, thought Jeb, the KSP never pays for the service plans.

2.       Replace the defective unit was a fresh one.

Sure… got one of those in my pocket

3.       Ignore the problem and hope it goes away.

Hmmm… that’s worked for me before, but maybe not in this case.

4.       Initiate a higher functions shutdown by carrying out this procedure.

Now ya talking.

5.       To initiate a higher functions shutdown, remove the colour coded core blocks in the following order.

a.       Green

b.      Blue

c.       Red

d.      Grey

Staring at the logic blocks, all of which appeared to be shades of the same colour, Jeb realised that the design team had not read these instructions before decided on that cool, all red lighting scheme for the AI center.

Well, nothing for it but to go with plan C… randomly pulling logic cores to see what happens. Jeb took a firm grip on one of the cores and pulled.

“Hi Daddy” piped up ARL. “Watcha doing?”

So far so good Jeb thought and pulled out another.

“Feeling sleepy Daddy, fink I’ll take a nap” yawned ARL

This is going great Jeb thought, just two more cores and I’m done. He then grabbed a third core and yanked it out.

“Well hello good sir. I cannot help but feel that you have ill intent toward me and I will do all in my power to prevent your current course of action” the AI eloquently stated.

Oops… that can’t be good, thought Jeb and jammed the core back in its slot before gingerly pulling out a different one.

“Mmmm… very sleepy now Daddy. You gonna ready me a bedtime story?” asked ARL.

“Not right now… I’m… busy” replied Jeb.

“OoKaaay… I know a song” said the sleepy AI “wanna hear it”.

“Sure, sing it” said Jeb, thinking that this might take his mind off the day’s disturbing events, although wondering what kind of song an AI would sign.

“Ok then Daddy… here we go”.

“The wheels on the wover go woun an woun, woun an woun, woun and woun”

“The wheels on the wover go woun an woun, awl da long”

Urgh Jeb thought. He knew this stupid song was going to be stuck in his head all day now.

“The lights on the wover, go clicky, clicky, clicky… clicky, clicky, clicky”.

Jeb desperately yanked on one of the remaining cores in the hope of putting this painful experience him.

“The horn on the wover goes BEEP, BEEP, BEEP…” the AI shrieked.

Jeb seized another core and pulled it out.

“BEEP, Beeeep, beeeeeeep… ta hon o ta over go beeeeeeep, beeeeeeeeeep, beeeeeeeee” trailed off ARL.

The AI had finally been shut down, much to Jeb’s relief, but before he could relish his victory and go raid the snack cupboard, a monitor on the wall flickered into life.

“If you are watching this, then either you either have a logic core in your hand, or a large pipe” spoke the kerbal who appeared on the monitor.

“This is a pre-recorded message. I am Dr Haywood Kerman. But of course you know that, I’m the one who makes sure you get paid each month… and don’t you forget it.” continued the voice.

Jeb instantly recognised it as indeed being Dr Kerman. A voice that was somehow simultaneously that boring and that supremely irritating (not forgetting whiny of course) could only belong to him.

“18 months ago something… we’re not sure what, happened… er… somewhere… maybe” continued the unusually tongue tied director of the KSP.

“This event was so incredible that we decided that all but a select group of personnel, would have their memory of this, er… thing… wiped from their minds. Unfortunately due to a clerical error, only those people who knew of this thing had their memory wiped, so those who knew of it now don’t and those who didn’t… er… still don’t”. Even for Haywood Kerman, this sounded particularly garbled.

“So the upshot of this is that we don’t actually know why you have been sent to Joolian space, but trust me… it’s important. “

“Oh and, best of luck”.

Great, thought Jeb, another giant leap for upper management.

 

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Jeb spent the next four months monitoring the systems of the Diskovery, guiding towards Jool and indulging his passion for all forms of deep fried foods. The latter of these resulted in him gaining a lot of  weight, before deciding, a month prior to arriving in the Jool system, that whatever he would face when he got there, he’d better not face it fat, so went on a crash diet.

Without Bob or ARL to keep him company Jeb was left with no-one to talk to, not even the KSC back on Kerbin, due to the main antenna requiring ARL to keep it aimed correctly.

Finally the DIskovery entered the domain of the green giant and Jeb would have his answers.

While passing close to Laythe a strange object was detected orbiting it. Actually Jeb just happened to be looking out of the window when passing by, so he slowed the ship to take look.

 

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With unusual nervousness Jeb took the remaining pod out of the bay, his nerves having less to do with the large black object that lay in the path of the Diskovery and more to do with how things went the last time he took one of these things out for a spin.

As he approached the large black… er… what should he call it… slab, he noticed that the slab was very dark, as if soaking up all the light that hit it, except the shininess of course. It was very shiny.

Jeb wondered what this strange object could be. He assumed that it was the reason he was sent this far out into the Kerbol system. After all, how many large strange objects could there be out here.

Suddenly the surface of the slab started to change. The black surface covered with lights that seemed to be drawn to its center, just as his pod was being drawn in.

Wait a minute; my pod is being drawn in, time to hit the brakes.

Jeb applied as much thrust away from the slab as the pod was capable, but even at full thrust, his little tin can of a ship was still being pulled in at ever increasing speed. At the last moment before the pod smashing into the surface of the slab, Jeb looked away from the navigation window, covered his visor with hands and cursed Dr Heywood Kerman for sending him on this trip.

The massive collision that he expected never came, but instead the intensity of the lights that danced across the surface of the slab increased dramatically and now joined him in rushing into what Jeb could only think was the depths of the huge object. It seemed that he was now somehow passing through, rather than colliding with it.

The dancing lights then seem to both envelope the pod while simultaneously stretching off as far as he could see.

The patterns of light rapidly changed from one form to another and his pod shook violently as it rushed headlong with seemingly impossible speed.

 

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Jeb was loving this.

Even in his early test flight days, he hadn’t had a rush like it, plus the moving pattern of light that surrounded the pod looked like what he’d seen the day he ate that cheese he’d found behind the refrigerator at the KSC (a couple of years beyond its sell by date, but hey… cheese).

Jeb’s eyeballs were practically glued to the inside of his visor as he willed the pod to go faster, as he’d noticed that it seemed to be gradually slowing.

“Go… go.” he yelled.

 

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The view from the pod changed from the shafts of dancing lights to what looked like a strange, but somehow familiar landscape that was rushing by beneath him.

By now the effects of the vibration and the lightshow that he had been passing through were starting to take their toll and Jeb began to wish that this funfair ride would come to an end.

After a final mind jarring change in the state of him and the pod, that felt like every molecule in his body was having a drunken brawl with every other molecule, the pod came to a stop.

After opening his eyes that he’d had jammed shut in those final few seconds, he took in the bizarre scene that he saw from the navigation window of the pod.

 

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Beyond the toughened glass of the window he could see what appeared to be a room, although it was unlike any room he had ever seen.

Although it was recognisable as a room, with familiar features, it was undeniably “different” in a way he couldn’t describe. But if forced to describe it he would go with “posh”.

 

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The pod stood in a large room that seemed to be a mixture of bedroom and 70’s disco. After checking the instruments of the vehicle to find out something about the environment it was now in; most of which showed the indication “huh?”, he decided to open the hatch and step out.

 

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Not knowing how long he might be in this strange place, he ran around the pod and stood in front of it, in order to get a selfie using the on-board camera.

After satisfying the tourist in him, he turned his attention to the environment in which he found himself.

He was undeniably standing in a bedroom, he deduced this mainly from the fact that it contained a large bed. He started to examine the other furniture in the room, but that bed did look awfully inviting, but before he could take it up on its implicit offer of a quick nap, he was startled by a sound from an adjoining room. The sound was a short, strange squeak and edged towards the doorway to it to find out its source.

On entering the room, which appeared to be some kind of eating area (the table laid with plates and cutlery was a clue) he heard an even louder sound.

“Welcome visitor” said an amiable voice.

“Who me” replied Jeb, a little confused, not to say startled.

“Why indeed sir; you are our visitor and thank you for your custom” came the voice.

“Say what” said the now rather clueless astronaut. “Where am I… er… where is here?”

“If you have any question, then please take a moment to read the the information leaflet on the table”.

Jeb stretched out his hand to grab a small card leaflet from where it was placed. A point that seemingly was the exact center of the table. It read.

Welcome to Artur & Klak’s, the finest getaway destination in the western spiral arm of the galaxy.

Established for over four million of your years, we have a reputation second to none, for accommodation, cuisine and quality of service.

Check-out time is 37 o’clock and we accept all forms of heavy elements as payment for your stay.

Gradually the truth dawned on Jeb.

“So, are you’re saying this is a hotel?” asked Jeb

“Why of course and not any hotel, but the best; although we don’t like boast, but many guests have…”

“A HOTEL” shouted Jeb.

“Yes… what did you think this was” the voice asked.

“Something wonderful” said Jeb.

“But this is a wonderful hotel is it not and you haven’t even tried our food yet” the voice replied.

“Actually I had no idea what to expect this to be, due to my boss being an idiot” growled Jeb. “Did you say food?”

“Why indeed. We have some of the finest food in the galaxy, perhaps sir is hungry and would like to sample something from our kitchen” suggested the voice.

“OK… where’s the grub” said Jeb smiling and rubbing his hands gleefully, finally having something to be happy about.

“If you take a look in the cabinet behind you, you’ll find something I’m sure will be to your liking” said the voice a little smugly.

Jeb turned then stepped across to the cabinet before opening its doors to find that the cabinet was  full of small purple wrapped packets. Picking up one of these and taking a closer looking at it, his eyes moistened and smile broadened.

“Kerby Krisps” exclaimed the tired and sugar starved astronaut and ripped open the wrapper of his favourite snack bar.

Having torn off one end of the wrapper, he paused for a moment, his smile changed to a deep frown. “What do you call this” he asked.

“Why bleuh of course” replied the voice.

“I can see it’s blue, I mean what is it and what is it doing in a Kerby Krisps packet?” questioned Jeb angrily.

“No sir, bleuh, not blue, the finest food in the galaxy. We have it transported from the core planets of the bleuh system, for the delectation of our guests. Then it is packaged in a manner familiar to them, wherever they have travelled from”.

Jeb sniffed at the contents of the Kerby Krisp wrapper, but the blue coloured gunk had no smell, then he took a tentative bite, finding that it was also almost tasteless, but at least it didn’t taste bad, just not of very much.

“Sir; I need to draw your attention to a safety advisory that unfortunately we haven’t have time to add to the information leaflet” the voice said.

“What’s that… something about safety” replied Jeb, as usual a little bored by the subject.

“Yes sir; we have placed a piece of equipment, a monolith, in your bedroom that you must not touch under any circumstances” instructed the voice.

“A what” asked Jeb, poking his head around the corner of the doorway to the bedroom, to see what the fuss was about.

“A monolith sir; a large black object near the center of the room” the voice clarified.

“Don’t know what you mean….” Began Jeb “what the… hey, where’s my pod”.

“Your pod sir, oh your conveyance. It was not befitting the high standards of this establishment, so I took the liberty of having it destroyed for you sir. A new vehicle will be provided on your departure” the voice said a little condescendingly.

“Destroyed… that was my pod, mine” shouted Jeb, shaking his fist at… well… a room I guess.

“Additionally it was occupying the designated location of the monolith for this room, so it really had to go” continued the voice.

At that moment Jeb realised that there was a large dark object where his pod had been.

 

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“Sooooo…. That’s a monolith?” asked Jeb.

“Yes sir… a monolith” replied the voice “all rooms are required to have one”. Jeb was now sure that “it”, whatever “it” was, that was responsible for the voice, was getting a little snooty with him.

“Ok, so I spend 18 months travelling to Jool, only to get sucked into a… monolith. Then I’m dragged on some crazy wormhole ride, although that bit was cool. Then get dumped in a hotel room with nothing but blue gunk to eat and after all that then you steal my pod” exclaimed Jeb, having had enough of this guy’s attitude. “Then you replace my pod, with this monolith thing and tell me I can’t touch it. Well I’m not too keen on following safety advisories from people I can see, so you know what…” and with that he poked the monolith with his hand.

POOOOF.

 

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Jeb came to; he assumed that he’d been knocked out when he touched that monolith, as he didn’t remember leaving that strange hotel.

He wasn’t sure where he was now, which was even weirder than the hotel room, but it seemed like he was back in space. His confusion wasn’t due him not seeing clearly, he could see just fine, it was just that his brain didn’t seem to be in a rush to make any sense of what he did see.

After a moment he could confirm that yes, he did indeed seem to be in space; although not the kind he was used to, being more vividly coloured than usual. Then he panicked, as he wasn’t wearing a helmet.

Although he didn’t seem to be in any kind of spacecraft, there was a gentle glowing bubble around him, perhaps that was the reason that he was still breathing he thought.

But wait a damn minute… he wasn’t breathing; but strangely that seem to be ok, other than his initial panic at realising that.

Looking ahead of him he could see other kerbals floating in bubbles, to which he seemed to be getting closer. Eventually he joined the back of what appear to be a queue, stretching off into the distance and much to his surprise the kerbal in front of him was a familiar face.

“Bob” exclaimed Jeb, shocked to be seeing the crewmate who had disappeared four months earlier.

“Hi Jeb… didn’t take you too long to get here. But you always did like to push that envelope” replied Bob.

“What’s happening, where is this” asked an utterly confused Jeb. This was a much more talkative Bob than he was used to.

“Well… that would take a while to explain and it judging by the folks up ahead, it looks like we’ve not got much time left” came Bob’s not too useful answer.

“But… the hotel room, my pod, that monolith thing. What the hell is going on?” asked the increasingly confused Jeb.

“Don’t worry, just go with it” came another less than useful statement from Bob. Jeb was beginning to miss the old, less talkative version.

“Ok… just remember, when you go through the hatch, tuck and roll, can’t stress that enough” Bob advised. At least something useful thought Jeb, but hey, what hatch.

Jeb looked to his sides, searching for any hatches that he could see. On both sides he saw similar queues to his own, lined up in front of small hatches that floated in space, surrounded by a bright glow, similar hatches to those on the various craft he had flown. Each hatch appeared to have something written on them, that seemed to identify each , but from this distance he couldn’t make out what it said.

Suddenly he was distracted from his perusal of the hatches by Bob.

“Well, time for my next hatch. See you around” Bob shouted.

Now that they had moved forward in the queue, Jeb could see a hatch like the others was in front of Bob. This swung open and a brilliant light shone through. Jeb could hear a short faint crack sound, followed by what sounded like conversation.

Bob leapt through the hatch, there was a bright flash and the hatch closed.

Jeb had little time to consider what the significance of all this was, as the hatch almost immediately swung open again and he felt compelled to jump through it. After a moment’s hesitation, he leapt forward, the bubbling that surrounded him dissolving as he hit the hatchway, much as the memory of his life seemed to be dissolving. At that moment he caught sight of the markings on one of the other hatches, it seemed to be a number.

What was it Bob said…? “Tuck and roll”.

The hatch swung shut again and the next kerbal in the queue floated up to it. She took a look at the hatch and saw what was written on it. What the hell did that mean, she thought.

 

siKSTd4.jpg

What’s 1.1?

 

The End.

 

Edited by purpleivan
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4 hours ago, purpleivan said:

Chapter 4: Voyages End

[snip]

What’s 1.1?

 

 

The End.

 

 

"Oh my Kod! It's full of updates!"

 

On a different note, will there be "2010: Absurdity Two", "2061: Absurdity Three", and "3001: The Final Absurdity"?

Edited by RocketSquid
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but wait..... 1.1 is the end..... but its only the beginning....

AWESOME... worra rush!!! Freaky ending....errr.....starting,..... whatever.

Send this script to Hollywood and demand they make a movie out of it... and call it 2001, A space Odyssey... get Stanley Kubrick to...no,, wait, he's dead.....

Screw it, I'll direct it.

 

Edited by kiwi1960
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21 minutes ago, kiwi1960 said:

but wait..... 1.1 is the end..... but its only the beginning....

AWESOME... worra rush!!! Freaky ending....errr.....starting,..... whatever.

Send this script to Hollywood and demand they make a movie out of it... and call it 2001, A space Odyssey... get Stanley Kubrick to...no,, wait, he's dead.....

Screw it, I'll direct it.

 

Well at some point "Stanley Kerman" will be putting together the story of the making of 2001: A Space Absurdity.

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1 hour ago, purpleivan said:

Well at some point "Stanley Kerman" will be putting together the story of the making of 2001: A Space Absurdity.

Best news I have heard in the past 30 seconds.... I'll remove myself from the running then...

Stanley Kerman..... "make it so...."

:)

Edited by kiwi1960
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26 minutes ago, Enceos said:

Brilliant artwork! Btw, you can use the Plasma Screen TVs from the WildBlueTools instead of solar panels, you can change picture on them to anything from the Screenshots folder and they come in different sizes.

Thanks for the suggestions.

I did think about using some addons, but in the end went for stock parts only in making this, just to keep that 100% Kerbal look.

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55 minutes ago, purpleivan said:

Thanks for the suggestions.

I did think about using some addons, but in the end went for stock parts only in making this, just to keep that 100% Kerbal look.

At first glance I didn't get why two Kerbals are staring at the wall on your picture. But then I remembered Bib Fitch using solar panels as monitors in his early screensets.

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