VelocityPolaris

Past the haze

44 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

Hi. Before the story starts, I'd like to speak for a little. I have... commitment issues, and have started several stories here, but never progressed far on any. I want this topic to be different, but if it goes dead, that'd be why. My intention is for this to be a series of probably-not-that-short stories using my current science mode game. The premise? I'm kinda making this up as I go along, but it involves a space program attempting to survive in a Kerbin previously hit by an unnamed series of disasters, with a lot less public support and a government keeping a closer eye on them. Quality and enjoyment are nowhere near guaranteed, but I'll do my best to make something decent. Story will start on the next post, and here's a list of all the mods I'm using:

  • Environmental Visual Enhancements
  • Kerbalengineer 
  • Chatterer 
  • Hullcam VDS
  • Planetshine (1.2 version) 
  • Distant Object enhancement
  • EVA parachutes & ejection seats 
  • Scatterer 
  • Engine lighting (1.2.2 version) 
  • Kerbal Planetary Base Systems 
  • Surfacelights
  • Kerbal Attachment System/Kerbal Inventory System
  • ISS Station parts expansion pack (1.2.2 version) 
  • KSP Maritime Pack
  • Texture replacer (1.1 version) / Pood's calm nebula skybox, diverse kerbal heads
  • TAC life support, SETI greenhouse (1.2 version) 
  • Astronomer's performance improvement
Edited by VelocityPolaris
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Posted (edited)

Story 1: Night Rescue, Chapter 1: Exposition much?

It had been ten years since the craziness started. Changes in temperature, atmospheric and oceanic composition, waves, thickness and humidity of the air: almost everything had rapidly changed a little. And nobody knew why. There were plenty of hypotheses - Kerbal industrial output, divine punishment, aliens, some powerful special solar flare, unknown space phenomenon, the sudden appearance of an unknown source of water - but none were substantiated enough to be called theories, and none really made enough sense for a satisfactory explanation. Whatever had happened, the effects were immediate, but far from cataclysmic. Swirling patterns of clouds constantly threw shade at the ground, having a cooling effect. The open air became heavy and unpleasant, though there was absolutely no risk from breathing it. As a response, people didn't go outside much, preferring to use indoor air filters provided to them through the wonders of technology. The seas were unexplainable. A normal blue in the daytime, at night they became darker than the sky, unable to reflect even Münlight. The night sky was practically invisible on all but the clearest nights, the smallest object visible from Kerbin City being Minmus. No night sky... it was funny, the effect it had on people. Once they stopped panicking over everything that had happened, that is. Many Kerbals were like toddlers, in the respect that if they did not see something, they didn't seem to perceive it to be there. It was as if the outside universe didn't exist. Under this mindset, the Kerbal Space Program was all but cancelled for a decade. The power across the world had all gone out before the changes started, and when it was restored, the satellites orbiting Kerbin all stopped responding. Perhaps the atmosphere was messing with the signal, perhaps they were caught in the atmosphere and plummeted down, and perhaps radiation fried them all. But while many lost sight of the cosmos, others yearned to see it. Amateur astronomy groups competed to find the best ways to view the night sky, rapidly advancing the meteorology field as they did. Unfortunately for them, a weather report was more like a tornado alert now. No prediction could be reasonably accurate for an entire day. The space centre had enough friends in the government for it's continued funding, the powerful tracking dishes and research labs being put to good use trying to understand the changes that Kerbin had gone through. As time went on, it would stand to sense that Kerbals would forget why they bothered to look up at the sky. But the opposite occurred. Many people were curious, they wanted to see the universe again. Powerful figures within the government realized the value of a space program - whatever had occurred, space seemed to be tied into it, and it would definitely be useful to learn what. And space exploration had the support of plenty of people in the public. So the space program, rather than withering away, was revived. Old staff were brought back and new staff were brought in, funding was pumped into them, and a shiny new staff were put in place to make sure there were no shenanigans, and resources were used most efficiently. The first priority was to back get into space, and see from up there how different Kerbin looked. That, and pictures from space were sure to be crowdpleasers among those in the population backing the space program. So the first rocket of the new Kerbal Space Program, the Phoenix I, was launched. It's goal - to bring one Kerbal to LKO, to gather information on the planet's surface, and the stars. But while in the stratosphere over the ocean, the Phoenix I came apart for unknown reasons. This is where the story resumes.

Edited by VelocityPolaris
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Posted (edited)

Story 1: Night Rescue, Chapter 2: Undeniably Majestic

The Phoenix I was fated for failure. As the ship soared through the stratosphere, Jebediah Kerman aboard, he began to lose control. The joints holding the stages together then disconnected, through no action of Jeb. As an SRB flew by from the lower stage, a small chunk of spaceship embedded itself in the upper part of the capsule. All control had been lost, the lights on the board at mission control were going red quickly. So CAPCOM's yell reached Jeb's headphones. "BAIL OUT!" He promptly hit the eject, and was abruptly yanked out of the spaceship. Most of his tumble through the air was a blur, Jeb being barely conscious. As he plummeted towards the ground, he eventually regained awareness of his surroundings. Just comprehending the vast scale of anything is pretty difficult without actually experiencing it. And Jeb was getting the full experience. Vast ocean of air, with clouds below him, hazy land in the distance, the water below stretching forever. He spread his arms out to try and increase the effect of air resistance on him, looking quite undeniably majestic in the process.

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After the parachute jerked him back like a teacher breaking up a fight, he made a painful water landing. Miraculously, there was a piece of debris from the spacecraft floating in the water nearby, which he held onto. Before losing contact, mission control told him that they'd send a boat to pick him up, and to hang in there. It wasn't advisable to swim to land, as the nearest landmass was 40 kilometres away, and it's a bit difficult to swim that far without getting tired. Especially in a spacesuit. But all he had to do was hang on for a little while, and then they'd pick him up and take him back home. How long could it take?

 

*Several hours later*

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After hanging to a piece of wreckage for several hours, he abruptly lets go of the piece of debris, as it finally sinks. Staying afloat isn't so hard, thought Jeb. After all, these suits are made to work as flotation devices. No, what he had to worry about was electricity, and body temperature. Thoughts ran through his head on why the KSC was taking so long to pick him up - interrupted as a passing wave let just a trickle of cold water into his helmet.

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Jeb, more of an easygoing bloke at heart, let loose an enormous sigh. Somehow, it was equivalent in magnitude to any obscenity he could have let loose at that moment. "When you see a problem, the first thing you do is assess the situation. The second is to come up with a solution. There's no room for panicking." Gene Kerman's words, and they definitely applied here.

Edited by VelocityPolaris
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Posted (edited)

Story 1: Night Rescue, Chapter 3: Buck.

The sun has just gone down at the Kerbal Space Center when an ugly looking craft is wheeled onto the runway, thrown together with airplane parts. This is the Boat Duck, or "Buck" - a makeshift rescue boat crewed by Captain Macberry Kerman, and Doctor Erilenna Kerman. Mission control cuts through the front cockpit as Macberry makes the preparations for takeoff. 

KSC: KSC, Buck. request status on preparedness for launch.

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Cap Macberry: Ah, mission control. We are attempting to illuminate the vehicle currently. ...There, I believe that issue has been solved.

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KSC: KSC, Buck, deactivate those lights. You need to save power, the generator on the jet engine is your sole source of power and you can't use that until you're in the water. And please attempt some kind of radio protocol.

Doc Erilenna: Buck, KSC. Sorry, lights are being turned off. Now, can I ask, why are there no other boats this side of the continent?!

KSC: KSC, Buck... we couldn't obtain one. Nothing we could find would have any navigational ability, and they were mostly wooden fishing trawlers anyway. Anyone who still has an oceanworthy vessel either wouldn't lend it to us, or couldn't get it to us in time. We really don't have a lot of power. Are you two underway?

c Buck, KSC. Yeah, we're on our way. But please tell me why we couldn't find an airplane and rescue Jeb with that, or do anything besides start a boat from scratch.

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KSC: KSC, Buck. We did try to search with aircraft, but none of them were able to locate him. We only have the distress signal from when his rocket fell apart, we haven't been able to find his exact position. And even when we had a plane fly low over the estimated point of splashdown, nothing. Many people here refuse to believe that he's drowned, so we're sending you to check it out. We just lost the Phoenix I, but finding our astronaut takes priority over all else right now.

Cap Macberry: We arre rolling to the end of the runway now... so, control, why did the engineers not simply place the boat in the water, rather than rigging up two giant pairs of detachable wheels and sending it down the runway?

KSC: KSC, Buck, we've got no facilities on the water, though I don't know the details of why the craft was put on the runway. Maybe the engineers are just used to it. 

The craft slides down into the water, the brakes screeching as they try to hold the several tonnes from plunging in cannonball-style.

Cap Macberry: It seems we have successfully entered the water, lights are on full. ...Oh my god.

KSC: What? What do you see, Captain?

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Captain Macberry: Absolutely nothing. It is as if we have entered a void. I have been briefed, but... I was not expecting this.

Doc Erilenna: Yeah, it's pretty freaky. Only other thing we didn't make that doesn't reflect light are those monoliths. I wonder if it's related.

Captain Macberry: That is not why we are here. Engine ahead, full. Let us not waste any more time.

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Doc Erilenna: This is gonna be fun. Buck, KSC, can you put some tunes on?

KSC: KSC, Buck, request granted. We're going to go out of comms range eventually, so try to find another way to entertain yourselves, s you don't go crazy and kill each other. For example, having a conversation?

Cap Macberry: OH GOD NO

KSC: KSC, Buck. Is that any way for an astronaut to behave, Captain Macberry?

Cap Macberry: Oh please, we are hardly astronauts. You hired us both yesterday to do cargo flights and medical research, respectively.

Doc Erilenna: We're all astronauts at heart, Mac! 

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Cap Macberry: ...Very well, I shall take your word for it.

Edited by VelocityPolaris
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Posted (edited)

Story 1: Night Rescue, Chapter 4: Alone at sea (not the Steven Universe episode)

The rescue boat Buck continues plowing through the inky void of the night, relaxing piano music gracing one of precious few lights in this ocean. Her crew try to avoid looking out the window, burying their heads in instruments and books.

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KSC: KSC, Buck, status report.

Doc Erilenna: Buck, KSC. Speed is just over 25 knots, batteries are full, all systems are nominal. Visibility is still zero. Continuing route to search zone. We are nearing the horizon, without being able to use the ionosphere anymore, loss of contact is expected soon. 

KSC: KSC, Buck, roger that. We're sending out the lorry to where you cast off, to pick up you and Jeb. Just remember to land where you entered the water.

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Cap Macberry: Control, can you not simply use an aeroplane to maintain communication with us?

KSC: KSC, Buck, I'm afraid our only two certified night pilots on active duty are busy trying to reach the Green Reef. There are only two ships currently out of sight of land, and only one is anywhere near Jeb. So we sent a plane to try to contact them earlier, and we haven't gotten a response yet. Oh, and Captain, we've heard reports that the water in your area might have a clear patch tonight. If either of you can get a look at the night sky, that'd be ace. Now just keep your boat as lit up as possible - We don't want anyone to miss you, and we definitely want you to see everything that's in the water. Good luck.

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Doc Erilenna: Oi, look, Captain. That's the last light on the horizon, from the shore. You really have to squint to see it, but it's about to disappear.

 

A little while later. The two of them are alternating between rereading some comics, looking up at the pitch-black sky, and staring at their instruments.


Doc Erilenna: Geez, this might be more psychologically disconcerting than space. It looks about the same no matter how fast we're going. At least it's not for very long.

Cap Macberry: Aye, I can understand why nobody wishes to venture out of sight of the shore in these nights. There is no way to confirm our position. We just have to hope that we have been going exactly as the course specifies. ...Are you sure everything is being plotted correctly on your charts?

Doc Erilenna: Absolutely sure of it. I just hope Jeb's suit heater lasts long enough for us to find him, that's probably the only thing keeping him alive. 

Cap Macberry: Yes, I shiver to think of how horrible that must be, floating in cold darkness, nobody to talk to, batteries slowly draining. ...I hope we have enough fuel.

Doc Erilenna: Please, don't put that image in my head, you - whoa... look.

Cap Macberry: You see something?

Doc Erilenna: Th-the night sky! I'm gonna take a picture!

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Cap Macberry: You can! You can just barely make it out! I shall have a look, to confirm our position. This may have been just the boost I have needed, it seems the stars are looking down on us after all. ...and upon them, I hereby swear to act as a Captain should.

Edited by VelocityPolaris
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Posted (edited)

Story 1: Night Rescue, Chapter 5: Kerbal in the water

As the Buck slowly picks up speed, splashes of water suddenly begin to surround it.

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Cap Macberry: Whoa... Doctor, please deliver a status report.

Doc Erilenna: No problems with the systems. It is kind of nice to be able to see something since the stars disappeared again, but I've no clue why we're getting all these splashes. It must be because of our speed, though, and it seems to be caused by our engine. Speed's been increasing gradually as fuel is used up. 

Cap Macberry: Nothing appears to make sense anymore... ah well, it is not like this is a proper boat anyhow. Though I must profess my gratitude towards the engineers when we return - the lack of leaks has been quite comforting. 

Doc Erilenna: I'd worry about visibility being limited, but RADAR isn't having any issues... not that anything's showed up on it, of course.

Several kilometres away, Jebediah Kerman drifts in a cold slumber. 

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He'd managed to seal his leaky helmet, but eventually the heater had given out. He felt discomfort and fear in the back of his mind, but it would have been greatly elevated if he had been aware enough to know that he was perhaps minutes from death. But he also didn't feel too bad. Maybe because he knew, somewhere in there, that he wasn't alone, though he had no way to do so. And indeed, even though he couldn't see it, a light had appeared in the distance, the faint glow of illuminated water being splashed into the air.

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"RADAR contact - small object in the water, 4 kilometres. The search pattern's paid off, Captain!"

Cap Macberry: Then it could be Jeb! You have command of the ship, Doctor Erilenna! Take us towards that contact!

He immediately pulls his hatch open and climbs out onto the ladder, bracing against the cold air whipping his face as the Buck races towards the contact.

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Doctor Erilenna opens her own hatch, and pokes her head out to shout at him. "CAPTAIN! WHAT ARE YOU DOING OUT THERE!? ARE YOU OKAY!?"

Cap Macberry: "I AM PREPARING TO DIVE IN AND RESCUE HIM! PLEASE SLOW THE SHIP SO THAT I MAY SEE PROPERLY!"

She slides the door forward again, and brings the throttle down to slow ahead. But less than a minute later, Macberry shouts again. "THE LIGHTS HAVE SOMETHING! KERBAL IN THE WATER!"

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Sure enough, it was the spacesuit of a Kerbal, still floating in the water. Doctor Erilenna immediately cut the throttle completely, and moved to swerve around him. 

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Cap Macberry braced himself to jump in, waiting for the boat to finally drift to a halt. Both he and Doctor Erilenna had the same wish in their mind. "Please, let him be alive." 

Edited by VelocityPolaris
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Story 1: Night Rescue, Chapter 6: Fishing

Diving into the water was disorienting, even more so than staring out the boat's windows. Macberry felt like he had suddenly lost his vision, the water leaving a sort of phantom coldness through his suit, and no way to tell his position. Back on the boat's computer, Erilenna saw his heart rate pick up drastically. She immediately looked out the window to see him facedown in the water.

Doc Erilenna: Captain! Calm down and lift your head, there! We've got every searchlight on full power, just try to swim towards Jebediah!

He sighs in realization and tilts himself upwards, his searchlight reflecting off of the only reflective object facing him. Visibility issues weren't really that great of an issue, and it embarrassed him to realize how childish he was being. 

Macberry: Er, thank you. Yes, I see Mr. Kerman. Proceeding towards him.

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Macberry checked Jeb. No response, no time for a detailed diagnosis while he was in danger. It was quite difficult to move him, but after a few exhausting minutes Macberry had managed to push Jeb over to the ladder. Doctor Erilenna came outside to lift him out of the water, and, grunting, lifted him over to the little passenger pod/medical bay.

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Macberry hauled himself out of the water, severely exhausted, and made his way straight to the cockpit. Hatch closed, course in, stabilizer on, throttle on, then he tossed his helmet behind him and sank in his seat, taking a well-deserved rest. In retrospect, maybe he should have not been wearing the all-purpose EVA suit when swimming. Geez, moving in water was HARD. Well, time to go home.

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*about ten minutes later*

Doctor Erilenna: Oh! Cap, did you forget to retract the ladder? The light's not coming up, you better take care of that, quick!

Cap Macberry: ...worry not, for this stepladder has already detached. What is Sir Jebediah's status?

Doctor Erilenna: Unconscious, but alive. He's not doing too well from the cold, obviously, and he seems to have had some particularly nasty blows. How fast are we going right about now?

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Doctor Erilenna: Yeah, I'd say that's roughly the speed he hit the water at. Probably not too good for him. I'm trying to make sure he doesn't go into a coma.

Cap Macberry: That Kerbal's a hero. I hope he does not perish.

Doctor Erilenna: He's not going to, captain.

Cap Macberry: Good. I want his autograph.

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Story 1: Night Rescue, Chapter 7: Contact

Our... characters continue back towards the space centre in the BoatdUCK, churning up the strange water of the ocean while fuel levels steadily drop.

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Cap Macberry: Doctor Erilenna, please report the status of our charge, Mr. Jebediah Kerman.

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Doctor Erilenna: Unchanged. Sorry, Captain, but I'm pretty busy right now.

Cap Macberry: ...Understood. 

He decides to then direct his anxiety and questions towards his inner monologue, having little else to do. Item 1: What if Jebediah enters a coma? He had no idea, no knowledge about the subject except "don't let the bad thing happen." Having to rely on other people wasn't fun at all. Alright, Item 2: What if Jebediah... no. Brush the thought aside. Think about what you can do something about, Macberry. Compartmentalisation, that's what they called it at astronaut school. Too bad he was one of the first to fail the programme. Item 3: What if they run out of fuel? With an engine that had barely been water-tested, and the new, unique properties of this water, they didn't have exact calculations for how much range was left. But it would definitely be cutting it close. Should he be worried about that? It seemed out of his control, too. But how to react seemed important to think about. Cut the lights and anything else that uses a battery, and put the cabin/medical bay heater and transponder on full, that seemed the best option. Then, once a plane flies within range, or a boat, lights on full. The problem would be the aftermath. To the government, a single launch failure was not the end of the world. Space is hard, and the KSC had a good chance of getting off without any consequences if they didn't have another major launch failure anytime soon. But failing the rescue mission? That would make them look like a bunch of twits. So the real plan, if they ran out of fuel? There's a pair of paddles in a compartment somewhere in here, get them, pull really hard, and have a cover-up of sorts later. 

On the beach, a lone lorry waited to pick up the crew. After all, the Buck HAD ditched it's wheels, and Jeb sure wasn't walking. Lights were at full power to guide it in, although the VAB would always be far more effective as a lighthouse.

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The lorry was having it's own issues. Apparently, nobody had ever thought to test it on a slope so steep as the coastline, and it was continually sliding into the ocean.

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Finally, they just moved it so it's side was facing the shore. Occam's laser, or whatever it was called.

The splashing of the buck was finally doing some damage to the ship, or at least those within it. Captain Macberry immediately reached for a barf bag, although that would be unnecessary. 

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Erilenna was unusually quiet. So everyone had to bear the continual crashing onto the water themselves, until the boat either flew apart, or reached it's destination. Ah well, a true captain must be able to stomach such things. But at least he had the stars for comfort -

KSC: 'sup, Macberry. Your internal monologue has the call button on. 

Cap Macberry: Control! With just over a score of kilometres left to travel, you. Excellent! And I see you've no longer a need for the formalities you insisted upon? 

KSC: What can I say? It's been hours, so I got a bit, uh... kanaseidaad. Oh, uh, you get him?

Cap Macberry: Yes, we have Jeb. He appears to be unconscious but alive, for now. 

He cups his hand and shouts towards the cabin. "Erilenna! Control is at it again! The switches for the three-way communications setting are in there, could you please get them? And, control, can you relay the rescue lorry's signal to us?"

KSC: Oh, uh, sure. Al, how do you do that thing he was talking about?

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Cap Macberry: Curses, it seems the rumours were true. The night shift is criminally incom- ooh, 'tis the space centre within our sight!

 

 

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Hey, nice work! A few of the screenshots are really great!

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Posted (edited)

Story 1: Night Rescue, Chapter 8: Return

Fuel almost empty, the boat splashed up and down faster, slamming itself against the water repeatedly. A warning light came on in the cockpit as some of the loose parts on the side fell off.

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Cap Macberry: -gah! This is the buck, hailing the rescue lorry. We are using the facilities of the space centre to locate you on the beach. Are you gents prepared to retrieve us from the water?

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Felix Kerman: Rescue lorry, calling buck. We're ready to pick you up. Just beach your boat, and we'll take it from there. You seem to be bouncing a lot, can you slow down?

Macberry Kerman: I am afraid we cannot risk losing momentum here. We may run out of fuel before reaching the beach, otherwise. 

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Felix Kerman: Captain! You need to slow down before you reach the beach, or you'll kill your patient! Don't worry about the fuel, we'll find a raft or something to take you ashore! Hilltrice, get back inside, we're going to have to prepare for an impact here! 

Macberry Kerman: S-sorry, everyone. Don't panic, I'm going to low throttle. G-gah, what did I almost do?

Felix Kerman: Alright, cancel the crash positions, people. Don't worry about it, Buck. Just focus on beaching safely.

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After a couple of minutes at low speed, the Buck finally approaches the lorry, petrol down to the last few litres, and slides it's nose up onto the beach. 

Felix Kerman: Alright, everyone, unload the casualty! Stachell, be ready in the medical bay!

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Purple clouds appear on the horizon, the first sign of the rising sun, as the crew of the Buck are brought into the lorry.

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With Jebediah carried aboard, Macberry and Erilenna finally say goodbye to the boat that carried them through the night, the world rapidly being filled with light around them.

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Cap Macberry: Good riddance, you fragile, leaky, fog-spewing bouncy house! I hereby swear to never enter this tar-like water again, so long as I live!

Doctor Erilenna: ...that's harsh, I'm just glad we didn't have to take a little rowboat or something. But really, we really need to learn how this water works. 

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The lorry made it's way to the health centre in the astronaut complex. Jeb had been saved, but the government made their position abundantly clear. One more launch failure, and funding would be cut. The mission had almost been a world embarrassment, and could have been made worse by the failure of the rescue mission. The space programme had to be more careful in the future in breaching the stifling clouds of this changed world.

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Next up: The launch of Phoenix II

Edited by VelocityPolaris
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Posted (edited)

Story 2: Phoenix II

I'm back! For the sake of actually getting anything done, I've decided to simplify this, and maybe reduce the amount of story stuff I write. So here we go.

 

In the Astronaut Complex Medical Centre, Jebediah Kerman had recovered pretty much immediately from his splashdown ordeal. That wasn't the problem. After the first botched launch, publicity wasn't that great. The continent's financial minister himself came by to let the KSC know, in no uncertain terms, that another major accident like that would cost them their funding. After all, many Kerbals didn't see the need to be shooting expensive fireworks, not when they had other priorities. With renewed urgency, Kerbal engineers rebuilt the Phoenix spacecraft, remodeling the launch vehicle to be much more stable. And it was finally ready to go up. Valentina Kerman sat in the capsule this time, ready to be the first Kerbal back in space.

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The pod rattled like a scooter in an automobile race, but she held the craft steady. It didn't handle all that well, so angling it while in the lower atmosphere was out of the question.

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Eventually, the forceful acceleration was reduced to nothing, the orbital burn complete. And with that, Phoenix II was back in the weightless ether of the universe, proof that the Kerbal civilization wasn't giving up on it's old endeavours yet. Valentina looked back at the surface of Kerbin, to see it far different from how she remembered. Instead of everything clearly appearing in striking detail, the planet was surrounded by those ever-moving clouds, land kinda washed out by blue. Not that it wasn't beautiful, but this haze was proving difficult. Her communications to KSC were barely getting through. There must have been some sort of, perhaps charged layer in the upper atmosphere that had this effect.

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The strangest thing was looking at the horizon of Kerbin. Up here, the stifling atmosphere looked so thin, especially with the mountain below reaching up through a large part of it.

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After snapping plenty of photographs of the ground, she silently moved on to the next item on the list. Astronomy!

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From the ground, the stars didn't often appear with much brightness. But up in space, there wasn't an atmosphere to shine through. She didn't have a telescope on the spacecraft, but any images of space would be of great use to the astronomy boffins. After all, without much astronomy training or gear, Val could see the glorious dust of the galaxy, stars, other galaxies, and, she wasn't sure about this, but it looked like Eve was hanging on a ray of the sun there.

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That's when she got a faint signal. A probe, identifying itself as Pravda 3, which by good fortune, was no more than 15 kilometres away. That was one of the old commsats, before anything had happened to the atmosphere. This one was one of a few that had been in LEO. But if the other sats were still functioning, they couldn't be much use. This one was only barely getting through to her with it's main antenna, which was meant to at least be able to reach through the atmosphere. There was only just enough fuel to de-orbit, not do a rendezvous maneuvre, but someone at the space centre could probably use the onboard data. She got on the radio, and through a lot of yelling over static, secured the access codes to the satellite just before it got out of range. Pravda 3 received from Phoenix II instructions to transmit all spacecraft logs. It ran out of power two thirds of the way through, but she doubted any of the more recent logs were important.

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After a few orbits, she fired the engine to de-orbit, and prepared for re-entry as the sun set. At least she would be coming down on land this time, near enough to rescue. It seemed like a shame - she'd barely been in space for any time at all! But she couldn't argue with orders, any more than she could argue with decreasing oxygen levels.

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The craft shook in the force of re-entry, wisps of ablative material flying off as it punched it's way back down through the sky. Val hadn't gone through this in a long time, and it was more nostalgic than scary. After all, the engineers back at the KSC knew what they were doing... ok, maybe it was a bit scary, then.

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Regardless, reentry and landing went off without a hitch, although the yank of the parachutes opening was never comfortable. It was a clear night, and as soon as she clambered out of her capsule, she noticed the Mun, and probably Duna and Minmus high above, like they had been watching the spacecraft's return. Val chuckled, and shook her fist at them. "Next time... neeeeext time!"

Edited by VelocityPolaris
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Posted (edited)

Story 3: Network

"...we have deemed it to be in the best interests of Kerbalkind to authorize the construction of a global ring of space probes. These spacecraft, from their vantage point in the heavens, will fulfill multiple roles. Firstly, communication to and from any point on the planet that has a powerful enough transmitter. This will be of particular use to re-opening the shipping industry. Secondly, the ability to retain communications with other spacecraft at all times. Third, scientific instruments onboard these probes will provide useful information about the changed world we live in. These can perhaps tell us a little about how this disaster happened to the planet, and maybe provide a little warning, in the case of another disaster. There is no doubt in my mind about the benefit to us all this investment will provide, an opportunity to create a better Kerbin."

With the minister's speech finished, Linus Kerman switched off the telly. The presentation room was full of discussion now, and he raised a hand for silence. "Sirs, before you continue, I need to add something. The complicated orbital maneuvres and techniques which made our original satellite network possible were largely the work of one Kerbal. Clarkler Kerman, scientist, and manager of the tracking station for several years. Unfortunately, he's no longer with us. My mentor, Wernher Von Kerman, is currently working very hard to replicate his work for our own network of satellites, we're going to try to copy the orbits of the old network. Now, all we have to do is design, build and launch a bunch of satellites. Easy, right? I wouldn't know, that's the engineering department's problem."

The satellites started launching not long after, each launch amazingly going off without any unexpected detonations. First, three in keostationary orbits.Screen_Shot_2017-04-05_at_3.55.06_PM.pngScreen_Shot_2017-04-05_at_3.57.03_PM.pngScreen_Shot_2017-04-05_at_4.03.28_PM.png

Then four in Low Kerbin Orbit.Screen_Shot_2017-04-05_at_6.41.00_PM.png

Two braving interplanetary space, chasing and following Kerbin in the same orbital path.Screen_Shot_2017-04-28_at_10.55.11_AM.pn

And the last two, in long, eccentric, inclined orbits around Kerbin. Screen_Shot_2017-04-30_at_9.34.31_AM.png

Despite a shortage of knowledge on the finer points of the orbital mechanics of satellites, they were all in place, and functional. Meanwhile, Wernher had made a discovery from the old probe's logs. The damage taken by the Pravda 3 comsat occurred before the solar flare had arrived. What they could do with this knowledge, nobody knew, but it sure raised some questions.

Like a good luck charm, with the satellites transmitting away, Kerbal economies across the planet began to grow. Instant global communication, previously restricted to a few locations linked by repaired wire damaged in the crisis, was more widely available now. Poverty and isolation were already becoming less common, and when many Kerbals heard the beeping of a satellite's radio, they heard hope. With the space programme's new publicity, the budget was approved for two more satellites, which were not as directly useful for Kerbin. The Summit type, each armed with 4 powerful interplanetary-grade transmitters. Receiving a signal from them would be an important part of any future mission out of Kerbin.

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Edited by VelocityPolaris
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Story 4; Oculus Station, Chapter 1: Core

One of the main goals of the reformed space programme was "to find out what's been going on without us in the cosmos." And, as the astronomer's guild pointed out at the latest budget meeting, there had been a severe lack of that. Basic satellite-mounted cameras had found out little more about the local planets than ground-based telescopes - that they were significantly brighter. And the images were coming back rather garbled, especially the further-out satellites. This was likely due to what appeared to be an increase in radiation from Kerbol. Some serious astronomy was in order, and since the ground telescopes weren't finding out much more through the soupy atmosphere, a space telescope was proposed. Engineers and scientists sat down with paper and pencils, and this was idea was expanded even more. A space telescope, scientific instruments, a laboratory to analyze it all, Kerbals to perform experiments, and before anyone could ask how much it would cost, they had the design for a space station. Quite a few were, understandably, opposed to this project. A couple of extra satellites, okay, but a space station? That might cost a squick more. A permanent Kerbal presence in space was a momentous goal, argued the project's critics, and it wasn't something that should be accomplished on the people's budget. But the space programme was in the limelight, and they got the budget for the station, reduced a bit and diluted over a few years. Private investment and crowdfunding managed to make up for the rest. Handling publicity wasn't something anyone at the KSC was particularly good at, but this time it was on their side. As long as the modules, otherwise empty corridors full of papers with notes from contributors, didn't blow up.

The first rocket was the core module, a space laboratory with a giant telescope, one based off of designs that astronomy enthusiasts had been dreaming up for years. How space affects Kerbals hadn't been studied in significant detail before the crisis, there were plenty of little experimental payloads scientists on the ground wanted to send into space, and surveying different areas of Kerbin from above would be useful. So as soon as the first crew of Kerbals came to Oculus station, they would have plenty of work.

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Although it would make rendezvous-ing with the station an awful lot harder, Oculus station would be in a polar orbit. It was practically synchronous with Kerbol, so the risk of running out of power was greatly reduced, and it let ground surveys look at more than just the area around the equator.

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For once a mission went without any major hiccups, the station safely in a 500 km polar orbit. But without a crew and living space for that crew, it was mostly useless.

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Story 4: Oculus Station, Chapter 2: Minor hiccups

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The second module of Oculus station, designated the End module, was launched shortly after the first. 

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The end module, featuring scanning gear, the rest of the science equipment, and an airlock, was intended to be the final piece of the station. But the government had a major mining project planned, and needed data from orbital scans sooner, rather than later. They would put it up in space now, and sandwich a crew module between them. A crew would have to be sent up soon, so the station could be put to some use.

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An exhausted mission controller flipped through a heavily bookmarked old textbook, calling out directions, as his co-worker, sitting by a monitor, adjusted a joystick, with the care of a waiter carrying a fragile glass full of wine, on one finger. And with the slight wobble of undersized docking ports connecting, the end module was successfully in place! All that was left was to send up a crew - but, of course, there was a slight hiccup with their plans for that. Palian Industries, one of the major investors in the space programme, was hit with a major loss when some sort of freak weather event hit their largest factory. And so, they pulled their funds out of the space venture. Now the KSP's original plan was to send up a crew module with a docking port, then send up a crew capsule to dock with it. But the budget was reduced enough that they couldn't quite afford that. There was enough monies to launch the planned crew shuttle, but there were no usable docking ports on the station for it. A major oversight, one that caused the engineering department a fair amount of facedesking. But keeping the attention of their financial backers was hard enough for the space programme. They couldn't just wait around for enough money to pile up. So, a very Jeb-esque solution was improvised at the engineering department. Something along the lines of "Who needs docking ports anyway?" And speaking of, Jeb, Bill, and Bob were in today's rocket. More for publicity than practicality? Maybe, but some famous names were more likely to keep the attention of the ones with the funds. Not that a late night mission was ideal for getting people to watch it. 

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With some unusually smooth piloting, the crew shuttle was on an intercept course straight away, and Bob soon giggled triumphantly, being the first to spot the upcoming station.

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The rendezvous was performed just like any other docking, with one issue - nothing to dock to. Bill took the pilot's seat, breaking into a nervous sweat while he tried to gently ease the craft right up to the station. The plan was a simple one - fly only metres away from the side of the station, completely stop the ship, then attach the two vehicles together using pipes. Obviously, this plan had a lot that could go wrong. Bill's piloting skills, much to Jeb's resentment, proved more than adequate. Not liking having to deal with an argument, Bob went out to try to connect the pipe between the two ships, awkwardly trying to rapidly adjust to the environment of space. And after a dizzying hour of EVA that left Bob's brain absolutely knackered, the pipe was finally attached. But this made the entire station unstable, and it began to wobble back and forth, picking up in intensity. Jeb's eyes snapped fully open, reminded of the much fiercer gyro krakens that had claimed many past ships. He rushed to the window, then back to the controls, and detached the two points where the most instability was - the docking connection between the end and Oculus modules. It wasn't enough, but Bob outside flew to the pipe, and removed the connection to the crew shuttle. Bill grumbled something, then rushed to the remote control panel, and activated the end module. Nothing was about to spin out of control anymore, but the wobbling meant that everything had been given some angular momentum when detached. 

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Why no new posts? Answer: I'm sick and feel like [redacted]! Yay! Probably get something done on the weekend.

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Posted (edited)

Don't worry. I follow your work in great interest. By the way, I have been trying to do something like this as well, only two likes and no comments. Don't feel bad if none take to it immediately. Remember, when CastotrophicFailure and Kuzzter "retire", there has to be replacements. Also them two were like this in the older days of the alpha. If you want to see what I am doing, its called Advancing Through Hardships. I would be honored if you could take a look.

Edited by Alpha 360
"Kouston, we have several problems, but that doesn't matter so we want to continue on with the mission."
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3 hours ago, Alpha 360 said:

Don't worry. I follow your work in great interest. By the way, I have been trying to do something like this as well, only two likes and no comments. Don't feel bad if none take to it immediately. Remember, when CastotrophicFailure and Kuzzter "retire", there has to be replacements. Also them two were like this in the older days of the alpha. If you want to see what I am doing, its called Advancing Through Hardships. I would be honored if you could take a look.

Much appreciated, the knowledge that people are reading this is an astronomical amount of motivation. The school internet (don't judge me) bans any image uploaders, so I can't really upload a chapter now, or read your story, but I shall make sure to have a look later.

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Just read thru it and I like it! My only criticism is a couple screenshots are somewhat dark. Might I recommend using a second ship or rover off camera with colored spotlights to provide some ambient lighting.

Nice work! :)

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Posted (edited)

11 hours ago, Just Jim said:

Just read thru it and I like it! My only criticism is a couple screenshots are somewhat dark. Might I recommend using a second ship or rover off camera with colored spotlights to provide some ambient lighting.

Nice work! :)

Thanks! It's a nice suggestion, but I don't really incorporate chase craft into the missions, and I don't plan on using cheats / hyperedit at any point. 

Edited by VelocityPolaris

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@VelocityPolaris Correct me if I'm wrong, but @Just Jim I think that is kind of the point (and fancy seeing you here) from what has been described it is supposed to be hard to see things, as caused by the 'Event'.

Although I would appreciate the images being not quite so dark. For example, in the below I have no idea what is supposed to be happening in this image?

On ‎08‎/‎05‎/‎2017 at 4:46 AM, VelocityPolaris said:

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@VelocityPolaris Don't get me wrong I love the story so far, but half these stories are told in screen shots it is good to be able to see the detail, I would suggest one of the ambient light mods (although I have not used any my self, not sure if Just Jim could advise, just look at Emiko, fairly sure he knows what he is doing:D) This reminds me of the Forgotten Space Program (By @Cydonian Monk) mystery and suspense and all that, and Kerny Kerman's Journal (By @adsii1970) with the first 'Kerbal' view.

In short keep it up.

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@VelocityPolaris: It's tricky getting good shots on the dark side of the planet or at night. I will often use mods like Aviation Lights, or the Stock-a-like spot lights to accent the vessels I'm using. One, it gives some cool effects, and two, it helps to define what the reader is trying to get from the image(s) you've shown them. Like you, I take my lumps whenever I show extremely dark pictures... No worries, this whole thing is a learning experience. And do not forget to make a back-up copy of each of your chapters. I copy and paste mine on a Word document, then save. That way, if the forum crashes and eats your posts, you won't be as stressed since you can simply cut and paste to put it back.

Enjoying your story so far, keep going... :)

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Posted (edited)

8 hours ago, VelocityPolaris said:

Thanks! It's a nice suggestion, but I don't really incorporate chase craft into the missions, and I don't plan on using cheats / hyperedit at any point. 

I hear ya, but it depends on what you consider cheating. For me, if it's just a lighting vehicle, I don't really consider it cheating. Not if I've done everything else the hard way. I'm just adding in a temporary vehicle to add some red lighting effects, or whatever. But that is entirely your call... I understand either side of this one..

And I can't wait for the upgrade... it's supposed to address the ambient lighting... and hopefully make my suggestion obsolete! :D

2 hours ago, Pretorian28715 said:

 Correct me if I'm wrong, but @Just Jim I think that is kind of the point (and fancy seeing you here) from what has been described it is supposed to be hard to see things, as caused by the 'Event'.

I went back, and I see what you mean... 

And I try to check out all the new stories, even if I don't comment on all of them. :)

Edited by Just Jim
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Story 4: Oculus Station, Chapter 3: Onboard

From the pilot's seat, Bill angrily wrestled with the crew shuttle's RCS thrusters, always just a bit too much off to match the angle and velocity of the Oculus core module. Bob, exhausted and frustrated from towing around parts in EVA, simply sat there in space, not doing anything, as the two modules of the station drifting further away. Jeb was in the airlock of the capsule, waiting impatiently for the pressure to drop so he could take care of things. But it was just taking too long, Bob was barely responding, Bill was half-mad with concentration, the team was falling apart. This wasn't how it was supposed to go. Jeb turned on his suit radio and contacted Bob, doing his best calm, mission commander voice.

Jeb: Oi Bob! Are you taking a break out there?

Bob: Yeah... I'm sorry... I just... I can't... no energy...

Jeb: And that'd be a perfectly good reason, under normal circumstances. But I can't get out there in time, so you need to reconnect that pipe. Do you remember the engineering department's catchphrase? 

Bob: ..."You got a break when we hired you"

Jeb: Right. And our space station spiraling apart is hardly a good time to take a break. Find a handhold on the station and wait. Bill will rotate the shuttle to the correct angle, then you can connect the pipes. Mission control says to use a strut as another attachment point, to keep things semi-stable. How much EVA fuel do you have left?

Bob: Just... just under 3 units.

Jeb: Don't be afraid to use it all. Might save you a bit of energy, and if you run out and go drifting into space, I'll retrieve you as soon as I get out of here. 

Bob: Promise that... you're not just hanging back... to make me do the work?

Jeb: Promise. This is serious, I wouldn't risk any of my friends because of laziness.

Bill: JEB! THE RED LIGHTS ARE ON OVER BY THE AIRLOCK PANEL THINGY! GET BACK IN HERE!

Jeb: How conveniently inconvenient, that must have to do with why we're not depressurising. Alright, give me the stick.

Bill: NO! I'M NOT LETTIN' YA CRASH THIS THING! I'VE ALMOST GOT IT!

Jeb: Our brains are in emergency mode, Bill. At this rate, you're more liable to ram the station than I.

Bill: AND... and what makes you the calm one here?

Jeb: Dunno, I'm usually excited, so I think I counter-panicked, and calmed myself down by accident. Look, you're stressed out here, why don't you see if you can find out what's wrong with the airlock?

Bill: Alright, alright. We're astronauts, let's do this. We better not have a leak, or I swear, life is getting a lemon thrown at it. 

His rocket packet firing, Bob strains to connect first a strut, then a pipe between the two slowly moving vehicles. This time, it holds together.

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With one more struggle, straining for air, Bob navigated over to the science lab's hatch, clambered inside the space station, and did the closest thing to collapsing possible in free-fall. In the crew shuttle, Bill rushed over to the other computer, took control of the end station module, and slowly brought it in for docking. Jeb, having fired the thrusters a hundred times to keep the shuttle from drifting away, made his way to the bottom compartment to take a snack break. Immediately, he heard the sound of the airlock opening. Bill made his way outside, carrying several strut connectors.

Jeb: Bill! What is this! What are you doing out there!?

Bill: I'm placing struts between the two modules. I don't need you on my case about it.

Jeb: Oh. ok. Have fun. I guess you fixed the airlock?

Bill: Faulty indicator, thankfully. We don't need another baby kraken attacking us. Technically, it's only the laws of physics making fun of us for being bad at building things, but it sure felt like a kraken attack.

Jeb: Well, you seem to be feeling better. 

Bill: Solving a puzzle, per say, can do that for ya.

The four struts were finally attached, finishing the crew's assembly of this strange space station, one with an even stranger centre of mass. After a short break, they had a brief look around the station.

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The interior was a bit like a weightless kid play structure, with many different nooks and crannies, but little in the way of open space. Still, it was big enough for everyone to pick their own module.

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With Jeb hard at work on the secondary lab's computer, Bill and Bob began the slow process of calibrating the telescope. Mission control guiding them, they were first asked to focus it on the closest celestial body.

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Bob: Mission control, it's confirmed. we have a visual on Kerbin. It's still there, if you're interested.

KSP: Good to know. Nicely done pulling off the attachment with the crew shuttle - it looked like it got really dangerous, so we had to disable the television broadcast a few times. Anyway, the flight surgeon says take the orbit off to get acclimated. Then we'll run some space physiology experiments, and try to aim the telescope at the Mün.

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Sorry no chapter today. I promise that I'm not going to give up on the story, but, well, I'm about to leave for Arizona. 

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54 minutes ago, VelocityPolaris said:

Sorry no chapter today. I promise that I'm not going to give up on the story, but, well, I'm about to leave for Arizona. 

Let me guess... summer vacation? Never fear, we know the drill... Have fun and we'll look forward to when you get back.

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