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Voyage - The Final Warning (Interlude III - A Brief History of Galactus The Cow)

Ultimate Steve

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On 6/12/2019 at 12:20 PM, RealKerbal3x said:

All that and you left us on a cliffhanger...

In all seriousness, that was amazing.

Thank you! This has been planned as a cliffhanger for a while, though. Fortunately, this next chapter has been one I've been looking forward to for a while, so in terms of actual writing time, it should take less time than the others. However, I'm going on vacation on the 22nd, and I won't be back until the 7th, so if I don't get finished before a few days before the 22nd (packing, preparations, etc.) then you probably can't expect it for a while, sorry. :(

I just wrote a short paragraph on how I don't have many screenshots past this next chapter done, and I elaborated, but then I realized that it would have been a bit of a spoiler. The point is that after this next chapter there will be a slowdown as I have to do more gameplay, which will probably involve designing more stuff.

On 6/12/2019 at 10:38 AM, fulgur said:

I need to reread those now! It has been far too long!

On 6/12/2019 at 1:03 PM, Kerballing (Got Dunked On) said:

WHAT!!!!! WHAT!!?!?!?!?!? But... But... AUGH CLIFFHANGER

Yeah, sorry! I can't say for certain, as I don't have everything completely planned out precisely, but there is a chance that this will be the biggest cliffhanger in the story. A chance.

On 6/12/2019 at 1:24 PM, Kerbalstar said:

A cliffh... a... n... g... e... r... n... oooooo! 

In all seriousness, this was a great chapter! Great job!

Thank you! :)

On 6/12/2019 at 6:57 PM, obney kerman said:

Not again!

Oh, yes, again! Hopefully not too many more times, though.


To be serious for a moment... Thank you all for staying with me through this journey that I started (checks OP) over two years ago. Wow. How in the world has it been two whole years?

Anyway, I feel like my writing has been improving greatly with each chapter. This story has been a great journey, probably the best thing I have ever written. Thank you for supporting me on the way, it means a lot.

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Hundreds of Planets.

All sizes, all kinds.

Eighty Eight Species.

One on the ultimate mission, the others standing in the way.

One chance.

One chance to stop them.


If even one.



Chapter 23 - The Heart of Jool


The first thing I remembered was the sky.


Then the rocking. 


Then the creaking.

Then the rush of the Joolian wind through the broken windows.

Then I thought "Ooh, pretty" or something.


Deep down, I knew something was wrong, but I couldn't quite place it.

Then my mind began to function once more. The noises became louder as my ears recovered.

And the pain. Oh, the pain. I felt like I had belly flopped onto concrete from all sides at once. I was probably covered in bruises. I found it difficult to breathe due to all the pain in my chest. I must have broken a rib, or several. However, the pain would soon be gone, replaced with adrenaline filled panic.

But then I remembered. I blinked. It hit me that I was somehow still alive.


I heard a muffled yell far off in the distance. I turned towards it.

"ETHAN!" I saw Jebediah shout. I heard next to nothing. My ears were gradually recovering. I could tell because the roar of the wind was getting louder and louder still. Or maybe that was because the atmosphere was getting denser... And denser... And denser...

It then hit me that I would be dead in a few short minutes if we didn't figure something out. The pressure was going to crush us. I clenched up in terror.

"ETHAN!" shouted Jebediah. I heard him this time.

"JEB!" I managed to cough up.


"I feel like I was just run over by a steamroller carrying a herd of dancing elephants."

"Ethan, we don't have time for your jokes!" he shouted. He was still strapped into his seat, frantically flipping various switches, pressing various buttons. As if even half of them were still connected to anything.

"A few broken ribs, most likely. Arms fine. Legs fine. Mentally, though, I - "

"Evelina! Are you awake yet?"



"I think my arm is broken!" While I didn't hear it, I saw Jebediah cursing under his breath.

"Is your other arm fine?"

"I... I think so."

"Not great, but good enough. Are you both mobile?" At this point, I noticed that Jebediah appeared to be bleeding from somewhere on his head. The inside of his helmet had small spots of blood splattered around.

"How mobile are we talking?" asked Evelina.

"If my life depends on it, yes," I said, although I knew it would not be easy.

The ship was rocking and spinning around like a baton thrown up in the air. Or at least, what was left of the ship.


"To buy us more time, I'm attempting to restart the nuclear engine!"

"How much time do we have?" I asked.

"More time to do what?" asked Evelina. Her question was far more important than mine.

"At best, maybe fifteen minutes, seventeen if i can get the engine on, maybe only half that. The gimbal should stabilize our descent, making transport easier. Do not undo your harnesses until I test this. The last thing we need is for one of us to fly through that window!"

"What are we going to do, Jeb?" Evelina asked again.

"We are going to fly the Wyvern out of here!"

"The Wyvern can do Jool?"

"Jool is smaller than Earth. Almost there..." He flipped several more switches. He had opened up a panel and fiddled with several wires. There was a rumble from the back of the ship that subsided quickly. "Come on, Legacy, I just need ten minutes of thrust!"

"WARNING: REACTOR TWO MELTDOWN IMMINENT. SAFETY PROTOCOLS ENGAGED. CANNOT BRING REACTOR UP TO POWER. CANNOT IGNITE NUCLEAR ENGINE." Now, "Nuclear meltdown imminent" is a phrase that many people would rank among the scariest things you could ever hear. But, although it was terrifying, it didn't hit me as hard as it probably should have. Over the past few months, even over the past few minutes, I had gone through far more frightening things.



"Look, Legacy. I cannot save you, but you can still save us. Please."


"Enact protocol RWI-009," said Evelina.


"Deactivate," said Evelina.

"Deactivate," said Jebediah.

"Deactivate!" I said.


"Come on!" pleaded Jebediah, messing with more switches. "You can do it!" There was more thumping from the back of the ship. A bang or two. And then a roar.


"Yes!" shouted Jebediah.

"What did you do? How did you know to do that?" I asked Evelina.

"I read the manual! That command was put in -"


"Our exhaust is zetizing!" Jebediah observed.

"What's that?"

"Doesn't matter. No time."


"Jeb?" Evelina asked nervously.

"It doesn't matter, the pressure will most likely kill us first!"

"You're doing a great job at reassuring us!" I shot at him.

"Don't you have a pill for that?" asked Evelina.

"We're wearing spacesuits! Yes, we have a food airlock, but there simply is no time!" The engine gimbal had made its best effort at stabilizing our rocking motion and slightly slowing us down. "Now! Ethan, firmly grip the edge of your seat with one hand and undo your buckle with the other. I will help Evelina. Get out of the control room and down to the habitation modules. Wait for me there. If I'm not down in three, no, four minutes - "


"- The Wyvern is all yours." Although this was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life, I couldn't help but feel a slight amount of, what's the word... Pride? Happiness? Coolness? It was almost like a father telling his son he could drive his car around... And my father had, because of circumstances that were not his fault, been remarkably absent from my life for the past several months.

As if I knew how to fly the Wyvern.

"There are locks on the hatch!" I said. Jeb flipped a few more switches.

"I just blew the hatchway. Or, at least, I hope I did."

I looked down. All but two of the harness straps had broken, and one of the ones left was partially torn through. With one hand I gripped the side of the seat, and with the other, I tried to undo the buckle. I tried for several seconds, but the buckle wouldn't budge. It was melted shut. I tried the other one. Same problem.

I looked around, and at that point I really noticed the state of the control room. Not a single window was left, only sparse shards at the edge that looked like they had melted and refrozen. The walls were blackened from the re-entry fire. There weren't any loose objects left. Some of the equipment bays were just gone, with sparking wires, broken pipes, some spewing gases, and exposed ship structural beams the only sign that there had been something there. I tried the buckle again. It was firmly stuck in place. Then, I looked next to me. The seat to my right was completely gone.

I had a panic attack. If I had chosen that seat, I would be dead or falling to the core of Jool right now. I was only still here because one strap decided to rip only halfway. How long had it been? If I had only about thirteen minutes left, then every eight seconds I spent struggling with the harness was a full percent of the rest of my life. The amount of time it took to do that math was... The amount of time to calculate that wouldn't be worth it. I took three quick breaths and forced myself to come to my senses.

"EVELINA! Do you still have your Swiss army knife on you?" Evelina thought hard for a few seconds as Jeb continued undoing her latches. Evidently, hers had been spared from the melting. She was panicking just as much, if not more, than I was.

"I left it in the bag I packed, in the ring! It's gone now, I'll never see it again!"

"Actually," Jeb said as he pulled it out of his pocket, "I was using it to conduct repairs on a control circuit a few hours ago!" He reached across the cabin and pushed it into my outstretched arms. "Sorry." He stood for a second. "It is most definitely an extremely useful tool."

"Don't apologize!" she said. I fiddled with it for several seconds, trying to open any of the knives. However, I was wearing a spacesuit, and with that came gloves. After a few more percent of my life had passed by, I managed to open the largest knife by using a snapped strut on the control panel in front of me as a lever. I began sawing frantically through the strap, which was far tougher than it looked. After a few more percent of my life, I had cut all the way through, but in the process jerked the knife right through the other side, and straight into my glove. The harness dropped away, but thankfully I remained in my seat thanks to the air resistance acting on the ship.


"What?" shouted Jeb.

"I punctured my suit!"

"How the hell did you manage that? These are made of - "

"Do you have a patch kit?"

"I don't know where they are! Probably in the ring! Close your hand for now! Jool's atmosphere is hydrogen, as long as you have a constant supply of oxygen, you will be fine! As long as we can get to the Wyvern before the pressure reaches significant levels, the atmospheric content won't kill you. The pressure will - "

"Kill me first, got it." I gripped the side of the chair with the gloved hand, trying to seal it. I reached over to the central console and grabbed it.

"Just do not get near any sparks!" shouted Evelina. Right. With each passing one percent of my life, more hydrogen made its way through the slit in my glove. I was becoming more and more of a bomb.

I walked around with surprising ease. The floor only rocked a bit compared to what it had been doing, although it was still several times worse than an abnormally turbulent airplane ride. Both hands were still clamped onto whatever was left to grab onto, the one hand pressed especially tight to stop the leak...

My ears hadn't popped when the suit was punctured, I realized. That meant that the external pressure was close to one atmosphere. Either that, or my self sealing was very good. That meant that instead of an outward leak, the leak was, or was about to become an inward leak. I needed to get to the Wyvern in the next few minutes or I would be crushed early.

I made it to the ladder in the middle of the command center and descended.


I noticed the magnetic coffee cups were still on the table, somehow. The windows in this module, being much smaller and stronger, had not broken either, although there was a crack in one of them. I began looking around for anything that could patch the leak.

The duct tape cabinet.

I went further down the ladder trying to find it.


There it was, just around the corner. I practically ripped it open, and then spent the next several percent of my life first delicately applying a layer after matching the sides of the cut up as close as I could, and then adding more layers, before wrapping the whole thing as well as I could several times, using up most of that roll in the process.

Just as I was done, Jeb came down, helping Evelina. "Alright, let's go," he said. We passed through the habitation section, bouncing off the walls. At one point, Evelina was thrown against a cabinet hard, on her broken arm. She cried out in pain.

"The best legal painkillers in the galaxy will be available when we get to the Wyvern!"


The external pressure was significantly higher than one atmosphere by now, but while I felt it in my ears, they had not popped. That was a good sign that my duct tape patch was holding up well enough.

"Wait!" I said. I turned to face one of the bedroom doors.

"Go!" said Jeb.

"The flower," I said, opening one of the doors. It was the wrong room. I tried the next one.

"You're risking your life over a flower?"

"The monolith said it's important!" That one was the wrong room as well.

"Maybe it's another flower!" said Jeb, pushing past me, opening the hatch into the next module, the artificial gravity ring.

"What other flower have we come across?" I shouted.

"You're wasting time for a FLOWER!" I opened the fourth door. The room was a mess. Stuff was burned. The window was shattered. The wind was loud. But, it was the right room. Inside the charred drawer was the Auris Facsimilis, an undelivered gift from lover to lover, still preserved inside its eternity vessel, whatever that was.

I followed Jeb through the hatchway, trailing behind by several meters. We came across the hatchway to the cargo bay, still fastened shut by several dozen locks. The hatch blowing had not worked. I realized that it would take forever to get through. Jebediah, however, grabbed something from the wall and began applying it to the hatch in a large circle.

"Stand back! Especially Ethan!" He took out another tool, which shot a small jet of plasma out from the front, and applied the flame to the circle of whatever that material was. It burned ferociously. I stepped back, as I was still a bomb.


That reminded me, we were entering a high radiation area. I looked off to the side, where the radiation suits were located. I wondered how we were supposed to change into them.

"Don't bother with those! The pressure will kill us first!"

A few percent of my life later, the circular portion of the hatch fell away, leaving a glowing ring around the edge. Jeb and I peered through the hatch, only to be nearly instantly crushed by a massive chunk of metal. We pulled back at the last possible moment.


"AAARRGH!" shouted Jebediah.

"What is it?" asked Evelina.

"The Wyvern is bouncing around in the bay, the docking arm broke! It's been bouncing around for the past ten minutes! Who knows how damaged it is!"

"So we have to escape on a damaged spaceplane," I said. A massive slamming noise came from the forward end of the bay.


"And the forward bay doors are unpowered! They are slamming open and shut at will!" Jeb observed as the Wyvern continued to slam around.

"Oh no," I said. "Trying to board the Wyvern like that would be suicide."

"Well, it's not like we have any other option!" Evelina Shouted.

"Well, we do," Jeb said.

"Other than dying, I mean!"

"Both of you, look at the Wyvern. Do you think you have above a 50/50 chance of getting in?"

"Well... I don't know, but it's probably in that ballpark," I said, as it smashed into the side once again, further denting a wing. The bay doors slammed open again.


"Not with my arm," said Evelina. The cockpit slammed into a wall. If someone had been boarding right then, they would have been smashed. Hard.

"Well..." Jebediah took a deep breath. "You see that hatch off to the Wyvern's right? That's bay 3. Can you get there?"

"If I'm not crushed," I said. "It looks more doable, but that isn't saying much."


"Wait, hold up, what's in bay three?" Evelina asked.

"Three of the escape pods. I deactivated them a long time ago, they are too dangerous."

"Dangerous?" I asked.

"I will be right back. I need to retrieve the Illasticonian Crystals from the safe."

"Oh, so you're finally going to tell us what they do?" Evelina said. Jeb ignored her.

"Ethan, get to the hatch. You're the most fit of us. Help Evelina across. I will be right there."

"And if you're not?" But he was already gone.

"Alright then," I said. "Escape pods." The bay door slammed shut once more. The Wyvern was bouncing around the opposite side of the bay. It was an optimal time. I took a deep breath, and then made my way through the impromptu hatch, clinging to whatever I could find on the side of the bay.


After several tense seconds, I made it to the hatch, which was thankfully open. I had a close call with an intake, but it was a nudge and not a shove. I looked back to Evelina. "Your turn!" I shouted. The Wyvern was still on the other side. With a determined expression on her face, she exited the hatch, legs first and, with one hand and her feet, braced against whatever was there, started making her way across the bay. I had my legs on the other side of the hatch and was reaching out with my arms.

But then the bay jerked open once again, sending a shock through the ship. The new surge of wind jerked the Wyvern around once more, and it narrowly missed Evelina's legs. She jumped, but away from the Wyvern and towards the open bay. She looked out there and froze, a terrified expression on her face. She was looking straight into Jool.

I abandoned the hatch, crawled along, and grabbed her leg, trying to drag her to safety. But then the intake crashed into my leg. I howled in pain, almost losing my grip on the bay. I desperately tried to get back to the hatch.

It seemed like an eternity, but it was most likely only a few seconds. Still, a few percent of the rest of my life...

After a struggle, Evelina and I were both safely through the hatch.

"You saved my life. Again," she said, breathing heavily, holding me as tightly as she could with her one good arm.

"How many times did you save my life back on Kerbin?" I replied. "I think you're still winning by one!" I checked to make sure - the Auris was still strapped to the suit's belt area, where I had left it.

"OUT OF THE WAY!" shouted Jebediah, who was rapidly approaching the hatch, rapidly traversing the sides as the Wyvern continued bouncing. He entered after we had stepped to the sides. He shut the hatch behind us. We were now in an enclosed space once more. At this point, I finally turned and examined the bay.


"This," he told as he faced us, "is an Illasticonian crystal," he said. He was holding up a tiny shimmering bluish crystal, held in place by an intricate framework of metal protrusions, connected to a transparent sphere, which was inside another transparent sphere. The volume between the spheres appeared to be filled with a nearly transparent gas. The whole thing was about golf ball sized, with the actual crystal being the size of around an ant, with a substantially long metal chain so it could be worn like a necklace.

"How do you make them?" I asked. Definitely a stupid question.

"You don't," replied Jeb. "They have only been found in two places. Deep in the crust of Illasticonia, and at the atomic level out in deep space, in quantities that are not useful." He handed us each one and kept one for himself. "When exposed to a gas that has a name too long to pronounce, the gas trapped between the two bulbs, they rapidly decompose into a very specific form of quantum energy. This energy teleports the nearest atoms, with the percentage of atoms decreasing sharply as the distance from the center increases, to a random point in space. Cutting this short, it has an 80% chance of being within the galaxy, 20% way further, and will teleport about 90% of the mass within two meters of it, at least for this size of crystal."

"It's a teleportation stone?" I asked.

"They are incredibly dangerous! They have a 20% chance of straight up exploding! For the three of us, that's a 50/50 chance of one of ours not working and then blowing up and falling into Jool!"

"And the pods?" Evelina asked.

"Designed so that at least two thirds of their mass stays intact when using one of these crystals. Enough life support for about two weeks, anywhere in deep space. A quantum distress beacon so you can be rescued."

"When do we start?"

"Take one of these." He passed out a few small rectangular-ish box things. "These contain all mission relevant data, including our fight with The Species. These are worth more than your life. They go right next to the crystal when you smash it to minimize corruption. Get them to any member of the galactic council by any means necessary. Get into the pods. There are basic medical kits on board." The ship shook some more.


"You will lose a few pounds when you teleport. This is random atoms throughout your body. As a result, you are going to develop lots of nasty cancers that can be reversed only if you are rescued. If not, the pods all have self destruct features."

"Why do these even exist?" I asked.

"As a last resort. Get into a pod. Wait until the bay doors are open. Press the red button, which fires the escape motors, which will clear you from the vehicle. Then curl as tightly as possible around the crystal to minimize the atoms lost, and then crush it a few seconds after launch. Then press the blue button and wait for rescue."

"As simple as that?"

"There's a manual if you have time, but we don't!" He started down the walkway to the farthest pod.

"Can we increase the radius to decrease the atomic loss?" said Evelina as she grabbed onto the ladder of the first pod.

"With a bigger crystal, but the ones we have are some of the biggest in existence!"

Suddenly there was a massive jerk to the ship, throwing us around the interior of the bay.



I almost smashed my crystal against the side of the bay, but I just barely avoided it. The rocking subsided and I climbed back onto the platform. Jebediah was up the ladder of pod one and nearly inside.

"It was an honor serving with you," he said. "May the infinities smile upon you."

"You too, Jebediah," said Evelina. "Ethan." At this point, I had recovered and was near the ladder on my own pod.

"BAY DOORS OPENING!" shouted Jebediah. The doors opened, giving the pods a clear line of sight to launch. At the same time, the ship rocked again, this time nearly to horizontal.


"EVELINA!" I shouted over the roar of the Joolian wind, now several atmospheres.


"DEAL!" I shouted. I couldn't help but smile a bit at that thought. Jebediah was in his pod. Evelina had opened the door to hers.

I reached for the ladder, but I caught a glimpse of the belt area of my suit. The Auris was gone. I had a slight moment of panic. The monolith had said it was important.


I frantically looked around and found it. It was there, jammed between the hatch and the railing. "HOLD UP ONE SECOND!" I shouted as I crawled towards the flower.


"NUCLEAR MELTDOWN IMM - " I grabbed onto one of the hatch handholds, and with the other hand reached for the flower.





There was a bright flash and a bang. I shut my eyes and screamed. The ship tumbled more forcefully than it ever had before, several times end over end. I gripped the handholds as hard as I could, with both of my hands. After what seemed like an eternity, the noise died down and I managed to get my eyes open.


The cargo bay was gone, and with it, the escape pods.


I saw chunks of debris everywhere. Then, I saw a burst of light. The escape engines of one of the pods. The engines burned out, and then there was a bluish flash. I saw another engine ignition - this one, however, did not end in blue.


That could be Evelina.

Or Jeb.

Or Evelina.

Or Jeb.

I looked around for the flower. It was not there.

I looked around for the data drive. It was not there.

I looked around for my Illasticonian crystal.


It was not there.


I had never felt hopeless throughout the entire ordeal. This was the first time.


And I completely lost it.




"Ethan, are you okay?" asked Marie, stopping her Whack-A-Kerbal invasion to check on my health.

"Yes!" I shouted.

"You're breathing rapidly, wide eyed, sweating, trembling, gripping the sides of your seat, acting aggressive and desperate, and seem to not be focusing on the game. Are you sure?"

It was at that point in time that I was overcome by panic. I passed out.

I woke up a fraction of a second later, but not around Laythe.





"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!" I screamed. A second ago I had been safe and sound orbiting Laythe.

Yet a second ago I had been in this same situation.



I scanned my memories.

I had both sets.

I was both Ethans. Wait, no. I was Ethan. Just Ethan. Ethan Edwards.

Recombination of consciousness had worked, and this was definitely a task that would require all of our, no, my brainpower.

But I shouldn't dwell on that immediately. I had more pressing concerns. Like finding a way out of this situation.

The Wyvern.

It was beat up, but unless the crystal showed itself, or there were more on board the ship, it was my only way out.

I probably had five minutes maximum.

"Get yourself together!" I shouted at myself. Ironically, I had already just become the most "together" I had been in several weeks. Was it just me, or was my voice higher than usual? Maybe it was the fright, or maybe it was the hydrogen.

My ears popped.

The pressure was getting too strong for my duct tape patch.

Despite the overwhelming wind, I managed to get the hatch open. And with that, I was back inside the Legacy II - somewhere I had simultaneously spent the past few weeks living in, and somewhere I had never been before.


The Wyvern was still flopping around, but the whole ship had assumed a nose down orientation that was keeping the Wyvern pinned to one side. My ears popped again. The Wyvern may take a while to properly pressurize. Instead of making my way directly to the Wyvern, I popped back up into the main compartment of the ship, to the staging area, and took one of the gloves from one of the radiation suits. I briefly considered looking around for another Illasticonian crystal, but that was bound to be futile. I had no idea where the safe was, or how to unlock it.

I then made my way towards the Wyvern. My ears popped again. The amount of oxygen I was breathing stayed the same... Right? I felt pressure in my head.


After a few seconds of fiddling with the hatch, I was in. I shut the hatch. It wouldn't latch. I slammed it harder. There we go. It sealed. The vehicle began to adjust its atmosphere. I breathed a short sigh of relief.

Then I looked down at the control panel.


Both to my right, left, front, down, and above my shoulders were dials, buttons, knobs, and switches of all kinds. My first thought was "How am I going to do this? I don't know where to start!" However, there was a control stick, throttle lever, and navigation instrumentation that all looked very similar to the types used on the Voyager's equipment. That, I could hopefully work with.

A few of the switches were prominently labeled. One was marked "Reactor Startup." I flicked that one. Nuclear engine ignition switch... General power switch... It couldn't be that simple, could it?

I heard a hum build up behind me. I flicked the switch marked RCS and maneuvered around. It was going to be a struggle getting out of the bay doors. I was going to have to ram the end cap.

I went to full power. The engine, at first, sputtered, but then roared, and blew the rear end cap right off.

"Well. That was easier than expected."


I used the RCS to push myself out the back of the cargo bay. The wind caught the rear of the ship first, and the rest of the ship soon entered the turbulent Joolian atmosphere. I flipped around a few times, but then the fall stabilized.


I tested the control surfaces and the engine once more.


I confirmed that most of the critical systems were working at least well enough to fly around. Some of the panic subsided then and there. I was out of immediate danger. I was not going to he killed by pressure.

At that moment, the craft beeped and an atmosphere light lit up. Good. I took off my damaged glove and put the other one on. Fortunately, the connectors were of the same type, and the glove fit on perfectly. I noticed for the first time, a dosimeter/Geiger counter display on the glove.

"I don't want to know," I muttered, but it powered on automatically anyway. It immediately began flashing red and beeping. "Thank you, I already knew that!"


I descended past the Legacy II. This may be the last time eyes ever see it. I felt very sad at that thought. That letter was still on board. The flower was most likely gone. The last remnants of an interstellar love story, perhaps only remembered by three people and their clones, one whom was probably halfway across the galaxy, one who may be dead, and one who was trying to fly an illegal spaceplane while receiving extreme amounts of nuclear radiation.


I pulled up. I needed to find the flower. It was important, and judging by people's reactions to the monoliths, the flower was very important. I found a radar switch and flicked it. It began projecting icons onto either the glass or my eyeballs. I searched around for an appropriately sized piece of debris.




Why her? Why not Jeb, who has nearly ten clones and has died probably dozens of times? Why her?

Her suit showed up on the radar, but that didn't necessarily mean that she was still alive. What would I do if she was dead? No. I couldn't think about that.


I flew over, closer to her, trying to match velocities. I spotted her off in the distance, flying by at a range of several hundred meters. Was that her flailing in the atmosphere, or was that her turning to face me? Was she alive or dead?

A closer flyby confirmed that she was, in fact, alive, and had activated her EVA jetpack. I briefly lit up with hope, but she was still in a near death situation.

Now what?

I need to catch her.

I had several minutes, as she was falling much slower than the ship was. But would it be enough?

I checked to see how slow I could glide. Not slow enough. Hitting the ship would be like stepping in front of a car. I needed to get as slow as possible.

First thing's first, deploy the landing gear. More drag. I had two rudders. After a few seconds of fiddling, I managed to find the controls for them. I set them to deploy opposite of each other. More drag. Was that a fairing on the front?

It was. I hesitated a second. Both the rudders and the gear were reversible. But I was still going far too fast. It had to be done. I found the control, and blew the fairing.


The speed reduction was near instant. I could feel the deceleration. Fortunately, the fairing did not hit the spacecraft.

Then, I had a realization.

The hallway was too narrow for anyone to pass another, even in times like these. If I managed to catch Evelina, I would have to take the back seat, and she would have to fly the Wyvern.

And having just been blown up, and with her broken arm, with the pain she must be in? And I was the more experienced pilot. I couldn't expect her to be able to fly. I had to have the front seat.

But there was no way to do that.


The ladder.

I deployed the ladder. I was planning on it anyways, to give her a larger place to grab on to, and for more drag. But what I was planning, well... I was suddenly extremely glad that Jebediah had taken the time to fix it.

No. I couldn't possibly do this. I couldn't control the craft like that! I couldn't aim for her!"

Wait. Wasn't there an SAS target setting?

No. Not on this vehicle, for whatever reason.

But it was settled. I had to try. I turned around to face Evelina. I made sure SAS was on, and I angled the plane downwards so that my path would hopefully intersect hers. I then tried to open the hatch.

It was stuck.

Duh. The pressure outside was probably ten atmospheres now! I looked around for several seconds before I found some EVA related switches. I flicked most of them. There was a hissing as the atmospheric pressure equalized.

I then opened the hatch again. Luckily, it opened vertically rather than horizontally, otherwise it would have been nearly impossible to open, or would have ripped off. I took a deep breath, thinking about all of the things that had to go right for this to work. I made sure not to lock myself out. Then, terrified, I stepped out into the Joolian airstream, making sure to go slowly, gripping the ladder, well, for dear life.



I slowly crawled down, looking forwards to Evelina. On target... On target...


I reached the end and held on as tight as I could. Evelina got closer and closer, and closer!

But I missed. By a hundred meters or more.

I quickly climbed back up into the cockpit, my muscles sore from the terrifying nature of what I had just done. I flew some distance away, pulled up, and turned around for another pass.

I lined up, set SAS, and stepped out.


Evelina had caught on to my plan, apparently. I could see the jets of thrust from her EVA pack as she tried to adjust her trajectory.


She approached rapidly.


But we missed once more.


How many more times could I keep doing this? Certainly not many. Nonetheless, I climbed back in, flew away, turned around, aimed, set SAS, and climbed out once more.

I lost count of how many times I did that. It couldn't have been more than ten, though.


Evelina was too high.


Evelina was too low.


There was one pass where I swear I could have reached out and touched her. Grabbed her. But even though I reached, no contact was made. If I had made contact, I may have gotten ripped off of the ladder. We would be together again, but only for a few minutes.

Then, I had one very scary pass where I completely forgot to set SAS.


I flew straight down, plowing faster and faster through the extremely thick atmosphere, fighting to keep my grip on the ladder and re-enter the cockpit. I got back in and pulled up, firing the engine to regain altitude. I noticed a flashing alarm on the control panel. "ATMOSPHERIC PRESSURE ALERT. GAIN ALTITUDE!" it said.

This was it. How many more passes could I make? One? Three?

I heard a creaking noise coming from the rear of the craft. My spacesuit showed a pressure warning as well. I settled on two more passes. Would I be able to stick to that number, though? Could I let Evelina fall into Jool? I began to feel nauseous thinking about it.


I lined up the Wyvern once more, set SAS and exited the cabin. My suit warning beeped more and more. The same warning was probably going off in her suit. My heart beat faster and faster.

I saw her coming closer and closer still. This pass looked especially close. Really, really close!


I gripped the ladder harder and reached out with one hand. She got closer. Closer. Her hand reached out for the ladder.


Her arm bounced off of the ladder.


Her helmet bounced off of the intake.


I watched helplessly as she careened away, almost as if she was in slow motion. I had come all this way... And what were the odds that I would be able to get her on the next pass?

I closed my eyes and screamed for a second, banging my helmet on the ladder.


I had failed. I wasn't going slow enough. I was gliding too steeply. I could have found more things to deploy! Why hadn't I? Evelina was now doomed because of my stupidity.


I looked up. And then to the side. I gasped. In my surprise, I almost let go of the ladder.


Evelina, with the aid of her helmet, had managed to grab onto the wing with her one good arm. With the other, she struggled to control her thruster pack.

She managed to get her legs over the wing, and pressed them, one on each of the cylinders. With one hand, she grabbed onto whatever protrusions there were in the craft. She slowly climbed against the wind over to me.


She had an arm over the top of the intake. Then a leg. Then her whole body. She stood up and reached out her arm. She grabbed the ladder. Then she got a foot up. Then the other.

We looked up. Our eyes met.


"We're even now!" I shouted. I was crying. Half tears of fright, half tears of joy.

"Gee, my knight in shining armor has returned!" she cried.

"Oh, this?" I gestured to my blackened spacesuit (from the re-entry). "Oh, yeah, and here's my trusty steed!"

"Wow, a two legged dragon? And a gauntlet!" she gestured to my orange radiation resistant glove.

"It was a bit difficult to tame, but the the Wyvern is ours!"

"And where's the classic kiss for the damsel in distress?" she joked. Or half joked. I don't know! I was about to reply when there was a very loud noise. I snapped my eyes shut and tensed up. Nothing bad happened. I opened them.

There was a massive crack right down the middle of my visor.

"Jeb was right, we don't have time for jokes! Get in the Wyvern!" I shouted. She quickly obliged, rushing up the ladder. I quickly followed.


As soon as she was out of the way, I jumped in, and slammed the hatch shut. It didn't latch. I tried again. It didn't work. I started freaking out again. Only on the third time did it fully shut. The atmosphere began equalizing. The ship creaked even more. I pulled up, fired the engine, and flew upwards.



"Okay, what just happened?" Evelina said. I turned to face her. I couldn't help it. I got out of my seat, stepped back to meet her, and gave her a big hug.

"Evelina, it's been a year since I've seen you."

"What? It's been five, maybe ten minutes!"

"Oh. Right. Well. It's both of me. We're both here. I'm here."

"Oh. Well, then. Hello, Ethan! I missed you!"

"You better bet I missed you!" I responded. I relaxed the most I had in the past, well, how long had it been since we were first attacked? Thirty minutes? An hour? "I'll tell you what happened on the way up. Wait... Oh no. The flower!" I pulled away from Evelina (OH MY GOODNESS. MY ACTUAL GIRLFRIEND!!!) and went back to the radar. We were out of range of any detectable objects, besides a few of the larger chunks of the Legacy II, far below us, all but destroyed. "I don't see it anywhere!"

"Ethan, maybe it wasn't the flower that was important."

"Of course the flower was important!"

"Nobody cares about the flower any more. Everyone originally involved has long since died! Unless we go time travelling, I doubt we're going to run into anyone who does care."

"Honestly, time travel wouldn't surprise me at this point," I replied. "But if that's true, then why did the monolith say it was important? Maybe it's a medicine, an antidote of some kind? An important ingredient for a component of a big universe saving machine?"

"I think it was arbitrary. Had you not gone back for the flower, which Alonya told you was important, you would be in an escape pod, and probably suffering from cancer half a galaxy away. But because you went back for it, well, I'm alive right now." I stopped and thought for a few seconds.

"Which means that the monolith either needs you alive or me happy for a greater purpose..."

"Also probably true. What's your glove blinking for?"


"It's a dosimeter and Geiger counter."

"Let me see."

"You probably don't want to know." She grabbed my gloved hand anyways.

"Oh. You're right. I didn't."

"Don't tell me."

"We need to get back to orbit as fast as possible," she said.

"And then what?"

"Probably call for help, I'd imagine!"

"How? the entry wrecked the suit radios, I'm beyond sure it wrecked the ship radios. I don't even know where the radio on this thing is! Jeb would have done everything in his power to send a distress signal."

"We will figure that out once we get to orbit. This place has got to be crawling with ships. We just detonated three nuclear weapons in space, and The Species was here! Jeb told people to come get the wreckage... Which was actually a semi-functional ship that then shot us..."


"Right. Into space." I had already retracted the gear and ladder, and I had reset the rudders. The broken docking port at the top of the ship was still there. I ditched that. I flew up several dozen kilometers and began accelerating eastward.


"Are you sure you know how to fly this thing?" Evelina asked.

"No, but what else are we going to do? I just need to get up to, what, three kilometers per second, pull up, and ignite the fusion engine once we are in space."

"It's not like it's rocket science or anything!" she sarcastically said. We went supersonic. The tiniest fringes of ionization flames began to show themselves. And then nothing more.

"Bad news," I said.


"I popped the nose fairing to slow down enough to catch you. We appear to be at our maximum speed."

"Try gaining altitude."

"I've been gaining altitude! We're not breaking past one kilometer per second easily!"

"Pull up now then! It's worth a shot!"




And so I pulled up. Our apoapsis rose dramatically. We got to the point where aerodynamics barely mattered and I could point straight up.


But it wasn't enough.

Our vertical velocity dropped to zero, and we fell back down into Jool. I began to panic a little bit again.

"I'm going to try shooting straight up from the get-go," I said. I pointed the plane downwards.

"Do you feel nauseous?" asked Evelina.

"Yes," I replied. "You're that terrified too?"

"Well, yes," she replied. "Do you have a headache?"

"A little bit," I said. "Fright will do that to you."

"And nuclear radiation, from an unshielded nuclear thermal ramjet." My face fell.


"I'm getting as much as possible between the engine and us."

"Good idea." I kept the dive stable, and pulled out of it gently, low down in Jool's atmosphere, but comfortably high. Somewhere in there, I got turned around, and I was travelling west, but it didn't matter. The fusion engine was efficient enough to make up for that little bit of velocity lost. "Ready?" I asked.

"Ready." Evelina gripped the edges of her seat. I turned around to face her once more. I noticed that her face was extremely pale. She bit her lip, a sign that she was trying to prevent from crying out in pain. Her arm lay limp at her side, having received quite a beating. I remembered my own injuries. Adrenaline has a way of making you forget.

"Wait. The best legal painkillers in the galaxy. Jeb told us they would be in here somewhere."

"Ethan, we'll look once we're in orbit. I'm perfectly fine."

"No, you're not."

"You've got me there, but there are more pressing matters."

"Can you even move your arm?"

"Barely without using the other one to help."

"You need medicine!"

"Then talk to me. Distract me. Tell me about a date you'd love to take me on."

"Alright. Brace yourself." I pulled up over the course of several seconds. The Wyvern began ascending straight up, accelerating as it went, but only to a point.

"Switzerland, Earth. At night on top of a decently sized mountain. Us, some small lights, a tent, lots of blankets. A telescope."

"Don't forget the campfire and s'mores!"

"You think I'm going to carry all that wood up the mountain?"

"Okay, one of those gas cooking stoves and s'mores then!"

"We would sit out under the beautiful sky, a nearly clear night, lit by a full moon."

"During a meteor shower!"

"No doubt!" We were climbing very rapidly now. "We're both sitting next to each other, on chairs, taking turns looking through the telescope. Wrapped in blankets."

"Lots of blankets."

"It is gonna be cold up there!"

"The mountain shouldn't be too tall to freeze us to death! Not snowcapped! But cold enough that we won't need an excuse to cuddle!"

"I'd adjust the telescope while holding your hand, this time pointing it up at the moon."

"I'd rest my head on your shoulder, awaiting my turn."

"I see the craters in all their glory, after achieving proper focus."

"And during my turn, I'd pull back from the telescope, turn my head towards you, and ask "Do you think we'll ever go there?""

"What do you mean? We've already been there!"

"I mean again!"

"Ever, I'd say so. SLS is a mess, but something will come of it eventually. If not them, with the BFR or Falcon Heavy. If not SpaceX, then China."

"But what about us?"

"You and me? I'm not gonna lie, the odds are pretty slim."


"I know," she said.

"But if BFR works, or if we really put our minds to it, we could become astronauts. Sweden certainly could use more of them!"

"Christer Fuglesang, our only one."

"But who am I kidding," I said. "Space is cool. But so are you. Space is far off, but you're right here. Right now."

"So you're saying?"

"There are some days I think I'd trade the adventure of a lifetime, travelling to other worlds, meeting other species, flying spaceships faster than light, landing on all sorts of moons, and saving the galaxy, for one kiss."

"That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard. Who says you can't have both?"

"True. But for now, we're still on Earth, so we'll just have to stick with the one."

"I squeeze your hand."

"I lean in," I said. Evelina made gagging noises. "What, that bad?" I asked. I turned around. Evelina threw up.

"I'm fine," she said. "Just the turbulence!" She threw up again.

"We're near the top of our arc, there is no turbulence! It's the radiation!"

"What's our apogee?"

"Twenty five kilometers short of space."


"I'm giving the engine a try." I flicked the switch for the fusion engine. I heard some noises coming from the back of the ship. A whirring. A buzzing. A loud startup-y noise. And then nothing. A message appeared on a screen: "INERTIAL CONFINEMENT FUSION FAILED. CAN ONLY OPERATE IN VACUUM."

"Is this the part where we die?"

"No, this is the part where we kiss under a moonlit Swiss sky."

"Ethan, I'm serious. What else can we do?"

"Go horizontally as fast as possible, but lower down, then pull up as efficiently as possible into a climb."

"How many more times can we do that? Will that really make up twenty five whole kilometers?"


"We can pray," I said.

"I've been doing that. We need a booster of some sort. Or maybe a massive updraft."

"I don't know, does Jool have updrafts?"

"Probably somewhere, but what are the odds that we'll just happen upon one? I don't have a map of Jool's storms memorized!"

"We can try."

"We're not-so-slowly dying of radiation sickness. Do we really have the time to get to a storm even if we knew where one was?"

"Well, where else are we going to find an updraft?" There was a sudden bright flash of light.


"The fourth nuke," she whispered.


"Okay. We have an updraft. We've got one shot at this." I took a deep breath.

"You can't be serious! We would be flying an alien spaceplane through a nuclear explosion!"

"I doubt that would be one of the top three craziest things we've done today." I pushed the control stick downwards, and the Wyvern dove faster and faster through the atmosphere.

"How did it even go off? It's a thermonuclear weapon."

"Triggered by a plutonium implosion bomb. Maybe the pressure got so high that the whole thing went off."

"The pressures required must be immense!"

"Maybe Jool is weird. Maybe it has a sudden layer of a material that reflects neutrons. And wouldn't the core have to be by itself to detonate? The core would be by itself, without the fusion part."

"We're in a sea of hydrogen. That could have fused!"

"But isn't a specific type of hydrogen needed? The bomb could have been electrically set off!" There was a huge boom as a ripple tore through the craft, probably damaging several systems. It was the shockwave from the explosion. We said nothing about it and continued arguing, descending all the while.

"The bomb was designed by our top scientists to never go off unless armed and purposefully detonated."

"Didn't Jeb arm it?"

"The important thing is that it blew up, not why! Focus!" I got closer and closer to the plume, which was now rising fairly rapidly. I began feeling the effects on control. The craft started shaking in the turbulent atomic breeze.

"Pulling up now!" I pulled back on the stick as hard as I could. I nearly passed out, but we began going upwards.


The majority of the blast was still below us, but the heated hydrogen rising was already enough to make a difference. The throttle was at maximum. We exceeded the speeds we had reached on our last attempt and soared higher and higher above Jool.


"I can't believe this is working!" shouted Evelina. The thrust began to taper off. "What's our apoapsis?"


"Oh no."

"188... 189..." My heart beat. "190." Several seconds passed. "Stabilizing around 191 kilometers. Nine short."

"Can we fire the fusion engine there?"

"I sure hope so."

"Wait," she said. "What if we used the nuclear engine as a nuclear thermal rocket? We have hydrogen on board!"

"By going EVA again with your trusty Swiss army knife and rerouting the hydrogen pipe in less than a minute or two at most? How are we going to manage that?"

"Surely the designers must have thought of that... There must have been worlds with taller atmospheres than this... Wait." She looked over my shoulder. "That switch. Right there." I looked where she was pointing. It was flicked downwards, towards the "ATMOSPHERIC" setting. The upwards setting was "LH2." I held my breath and flipped it. There was a rumble from the rear of the craft.


"Oh my goodness. Evelina, you are a genius!"

"Whoever designed this was a genius. I'm just clever."

"We're going through hydrogen rapidly. Like, very rapidly."

"Cut off as soon as the apoapsis reaches space."

"197... 198... 199... 200. Cutoff." The engine spooled down and shut off. I deactivated the nuclear reactor. We coasted for a few seconds. "More than two thirds of our hydrogen fuel is gone."

"Makes sense. We have enough hydrogen to orbit most reasonable worlds with an engine that has more than ten thousand seconds of specific impulse. The nuclear engine probably has a tenth of that at best."

"True. I hope this still works. Here goes nothing. Fusion engine ignition in three. Two. one."


"Yes!" I shouted.

"Don't celebrate yet," she said. "We need to stay above the atmosphere. Gravity losses are big here. We need to accelerate to nearly seven kilometers per second to get to orbit. We don't have much more Delta-V than that."

"We have enough." I did my best to manage our pitch angle to minimize gravity losses. Fortunately, we still had several hundred meters per second of Delta-V left when we...

...Entered Low Jool Orbit.


"Engine cutoff. Fusion shutdown."

"We... We did it," said Evelina weakly. I turned to her again. Her face was even more pale.


"There... must have been... a gap in the shielding," she managed to say between breaths.

"Medkit," I said. I felt weaker than normal too.

"Call... for... help."

"Jeb said it's in here somewhere." I suddenly got dizzier than I had before.


"I'll do my best to... to... fix it," I said. Oh no. The fusion engine. Neutron radiation. Usually blocked by the rest of the ship and the radiation suits. I looked at my dosimeter. It had stopped rising, but it was blinking more than ever and did indeed show a specific neutron warning.

"Ethan..." I turned around in time to see her pass out.

"Evelina!" I shouted, breathing heavily. I felt lightheaded. I turned to the control panel. I managed to find the radio, but it was definitely broken. I tried turning the radar on and off several times, hoping it would pulse, but then I realized that it would be pulsing regardless... I radar-ed SOS, the only thing I knew in Morse code. But no other alien species would be using English Morse code! I needed to launch a signal flare of some sort!

Wait. We just were shot out of a gas giant by the biggest signal flare I could reasonably ask for.

I snapped my head back. I had almost passed out.

There was a blue light in the distance. I squinted as it got closer and closer.



Sunlight glinted off of its solar panels. Or were those solar panels?

I snapped my head back again. I was fading fast. I remembered. The data drive! No... Evelina's had to have been destroyed by the crystal! But we needed it! Would she, by some miracle, still have it?

I turned around to check.


I saw bay doors begin to open on the massive ship.

I jerked myself awake again, in the process slapping the control stick. The ship spun around once more, turning me away from the ship.


The last thing I remembered was the sky.




I heard distant voices.

"Bandages. He needs bandages."

"No, not those little ones! The gauze!"

"Data drive..." I muttered.

"He's awake!" someone shouted. I opened my eyes.


I blinked and looked around.

"Ethan, oh my gosh, are you okay?" asked Marie.

"I'm... The data drive!"

"The what?"

"I need it! JEB!"

"Ethan, you hit you passed out, had a seizure, and hit your head," said Valentina. "Hold on, we're coming with bandages."

"Ethan!" said Jeb, who was more panicky than concerned. "Are you okay?"

"Yes, but - "

"No, not you. You know... You."

"We're orbiting."

"Yes, Ethan, we're orbiting Laythe," said Jack.

"No," I said. "We're orbiting Jool."

"You must have hit your head really hard, Ethan," said Marie. "Here, hold still." She began wrapping a bandage around my head.

"We?" asked Jebediah.

"Evelina," I said. He moved in closer to my ear.

"I'll take it from here, Marie," he said, taking the roll of gauze from her. "Evelina launched her pod. We haven't found it yet, but we're looking," he whispered in my ear.

"No," I replied. "Her pod exploded. I saw it."

"Oh." Jeb's face fell.

"I saved her," I said.

"You saved her to the data drive?"

"No," I said. "I saved her. We're in Low Jool Orbit, dying of radiation sickness."

"How did you manage that?!" He barely managed to maintain his whisper.

"You tell me. But you need to come get us."

"Will do. You must have quite the story to tell."

"Oh my. You bet. But the data drive... I lost mine. Evelina's is probably gone."

"Shh. it's fine. Mine's fine, and I'm within the friendly part of the galaxy."

"But what if it's corrupted?"

"Remember when I said that the drive was worth more than your life?"

"Yes," I answered truthfully.

"Forget that. One encounter survived, one of a dozen. Their fight pattern often changes unpredictably. It was stupid of me to say that."

"So the data isn't as important as I thought?"

"Well... it is important. But Ethan? You are a living, breathing, loving, intelligent being. No amount of data could ever replace you."

"Jeb, are you sure you know how to put on a bandage?" said Marie.

"Right, sorry. I think it's better that you do it."



"Exactly to plan," said Z.











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  • 3 weeks later...

Good news, I'm back from vacation and work for the next chapter has started! There is one element that, if I decide to do, may take a while, but I may not do it as it doesn't add much, really.

Anyways, to pass the time, here's me with a rocket engine I saw on vacation:




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Chapter 24 - Rescue Mission



Hi, y'all,

During that game of Whack-A-Kerbal where I had that seizure (I'm recovering nicely just so you know, that's the first time that's ever happened and hopefully it never happens again), the ship was struck by three different electromagnetic pulses, each stronger than the last. As nobody was observing at the time, we don't know what caused them. The Kerbals may be looking into it. It might have been something to do with solar storms and Jool's radiation belts.

The first two pulses were not very powerful, but the third one messed with several of our ship's systems. We can repair most of the damage. A lot of our data is scrambled and our personal electronics were hit hard, but for the most part, the Voyager is good enough to continue the mission.

The only serious damage was done to the John Cena spacecraft, the cockpit of which was not designed for long term spaceflight, and therefore did not have substantial shielding built in. We do not have the parts to fix the computer systems. It can still be flown and controlled manually, but cannot be controlled across the docking port (which, by the way, is having electromagnet issues) due to the interface controller being shot, and the manual control is very iffy. We managed to fix the lights, at least. If we really needed to land it on Vall or something again, we could, but the odds would not be the greatest.

So, yeah, The comms equipment is mostly okay, but we're all still trying to figure out how to rescue Alonya, and on top of that we have to get the ship fixed.

Just a short update, so bye!




Cheng had found a way to save Alonya.

He had defied the monolith.

Unfortunately, that way involved using the John Cena in a way that meant it was going to be controlled using something docked to it.

There were no Jr. size interface controllers available. The ones on the ship had all been damaged beyond repair (despite Cheng's best efforts) by the EMPs.

Normal size docking interface controllers were incompatible, again despite Cheng's best efforts.

The two parts on the John Cena that Cheng would need for his plan to work were the liquid fuel pump and the engine. The plan *could* be done without both, but chance of success on the first and only try would be very, very low. He attempted to wire the controls directly across to the Voyager, bypassing the docking port, as a test. In the process, he managed to burn out the engine controller. Thankfully, it was repairable, but if he tried again, it may not be.

After he spent the next few days trying to fix his plan, he gave up and focused on what he had to do next.

He fixed up the John Cena as best as he could.




Star-Ethan's Private Journal


When I woke up, I heard beeping. I couldn't really feel anything at all. I couldn't see anything either. That's probably because my eyes were closed. I tried to open them, but didn't have the energy for the longest time. Eventually, I managed it.

Everything was blurry for a while, but the ceiling was white. After a while, my eyesight cleared.

Everything seemed off. I felt very heavy. The lighting seemed harsh yet cool at the same time. The air felt... Very sterile. My head was tilted to the side, and I was laying down. The far wall of the room was dominated by a large black panel, and decorated in white and dark blue.

I caught a glimpse of my right arm. It was hooked up to what appeared to be medical equipment, but medical equipment unlike anything else I'd ever seen before, extremely advanced and extremely odd. I followed the trail of wires and pipes. I moved my head to the left, turning over.

And then I saw him.

"Aah!" I yelped. I jumped a little, but couldn't very much as I still had very low energy. There was a figure standing next to my bed, watching me. He appeared to be around my height, maybe a bit taller. But he was large. Not to be "that guy," but he was very round, and would definitely qualify as obese... if compared on a human scale.

He (was it a he?) was blue! He was also bald, had very weird eyes, and wore a stern expression. He carried some sort of tablet-like device in his hands. I would describe his appearance as a cross between blue Shrek and Winston Churchill.

"Oh, you're awake at last," he said. His voice sounded bored, nasal, and not exactly British but sort of British. I don't know if that's normal for his species or not.

"You're... You're..."


"Well, yes, but that's not what I was going to say. I was going to - "

"I'm afraid we must skip over the shock of meeting an Illasticonian. Good evening, Ethan Edwards. My name is Quibzwi. On your planet, you would call me Doctor Quibzwi. We have better words for that, but we shall stick with Doctor for the time being."

"Good evening, Doctor Quizby... I mean Quibziwe... Well, err..."

"Kwib. Zwee."

"Quibzwi, sorry. Doctor Quibzwi."

"You are very lucky to be alive, Ethan. You were attacked by not one, but two Species ships, received a ginormous dose of solar radiation, escaped three nuclear explosions, a K-drive explosion, an intense atmospheric entry, a nuclear meltdown and containment failure, clinging onto a ladder deep inside a gas giant several times, flying an illegal spaceship you had no prior experience with through another nuclear explosion and into orbit just in time to be picked up by a passing vessel and rushed here."

"Where exactly is here?"

"The finest nuclear focused wing of the finest medical center in the entire galaxy."

"And you?"

"Well, I do not mean to brag, but I am one of the leaders in the fields of radiation sickness and oncology. Representative Jebediah was rather insistent on having the best of the best take care of you. After all, nobody has ever done any treatment nearly this advanced on a human ever before, not to mention the severity of the damage."

"And -"

"Young man, I must caution you. While your life has been saved, radiation is nothing to play with, especially given the state of human technology - not to mention their, irresponsibility, incompetence, and capacity for violence."


"If Jebediah had not given you that medicine, you would have died minutes later in excruciating agony. If you had not been picked up by the ship, you and Evelina would have passed in and out of consciousness as your body, well... To put it kindly, disintegrated and burned."

"I - "

"And had treatment been left up to humanity at that point, they would have overcome their stupidity long enough to find a way to keep you alive for hours, or even days more if you were unlucky, experimenting on you as you were kept in a state of one of the greatest pains known to anyone. You and Evelina would have begged for death minutes in. But that didn't happen. I am not an expert in human facial expressions, but I believe I have sufficiently driven home my point based on your reaction." I gulped and shook the thoughts from my head.

"And Evelina? How is she?"

"Fine. We started with her. She has been awake for two days, which have mostly been spent in various debriefings."

"How is she emotionally?"

"Most species exhibit emotion in various ways. I am not an expert in human emotion, I am an expert on cancer. Perhaps you can tell us."

"Right. How long have I been here?"

"In human days, nearly nine."

"Wow. How are things back home?"

"I have been more concerned with getting you back to health as fast as possible."

"So I could be interrogated?"

"Debriefed. And while that is a reason, the Species are getting closer and closer by the day. I was about to leave before this emergency came in."

"Oh. I am sorry."

"No need to be sorry. I was compensated, although I was concerned that this would take longer than it has. Now. Are you feeling alright?"

"Still a bit numb, but okay, I guess."

"Good." He began detaching me from the various medical equipment that surrounded my bed. "You should be alright to get up and move now." With some effort, I sat up and swung my legs over the side of the bed and stood up, immediately stumbling and partially falling down.

"I feel heavy. Is that the medicine?"

"Possibly, but I would be willing to wager that it's the gravity."

"Yeah, funny. Do you want me outside?"

"I don't think you can breathe the outside atmosphere too well, you are limited to a few rooms tailored to humans, I'm afraid."

"Wait... Did people pollute the planet while I'm gone?"

"Ethan, you are not on Kerbin." He touched something on his tablet and the black rectangle on the far wall became transparent. It was a window. "You are on Illasticonia."


The view was amazing. Illasticonia was lit by a blue star, painting the immense city in a blue sci-fi glow, and what a big, shining city it was... And here I was, amidst it all. On an alien planet.





"You have no idea how glad I am to be standing before you," said Jebediah Kerman to the various leaders of the planet Meros. Curiously, there were different leaders for different parts of the planet. Countries, they called them. A reasonable amount, less than fifty, though, and there were bound to be differences between species. "I am the interplanetary ambassador for our world, Kerbin, although most of you know that by now. Our leader remains on Kerbin out of caution. We would like to reassure you that we come in the names of peace and cooperation."

"Greetings, Jebediah," said several of the various leaders in various languages. Various computers and translators were present, both Kerbal and Merosian.

"I do believe we should begin with the elephant in the room, seeing as we have made it evident that we bear no ill will towards one another," said one of the Merosian leaders.

"Correct," said Jebediah.

"Our latest estimates show two to three weeks before people begin dying due to the atmospheric content, while disasters wreak havoc everywhere in the meantime. Collapse and anarchy will begin sooner," said another leader.

"Our estimates, however rushed they may be, show around the same," said Jebediah. "We need a fast solution. We will do everything reasonably in our power to help."

"And how much is in your power?"

"Frustratingly, not much. If we had months, we could gather all of the carbon and other toxins from the atmosphere to reverse the greenhouse effect. If we had a year, we might be able to build a massive sunshield orbiting Meros to decrease the amount of sunlight reaching the surface. If we had more ships, we could evacuate Meros entirely, but we can't."

"I would like to state that Agolaria became carbon neutral nearly five years ago, and strongly urged other countries to - "

"Agolaria is tiny!"

"Well, Geanti declared a global climate emergency seven years ago!"

"Declaring an emergency does nothing if you do not follow through with it!"

"Dernej is still the world's largest emitter, and the amount of oil and coal burned rises daily!"

"Please, people of Meros," said Jebediah. "Who did or didn't do what is not an issue that is important right now. The important issue is what we are going to start doing right now. We will begin setting up nuclear, solar, and antimatter power stations on Meros as soon as we become fully aware of the power standards used here."

"And what about automobiles?"

"Your people must limit travel. Walk, or bike... If you have bikes. I am in general near clueless about your society, I apologize. Anything we can do to get Meros on a path to being carbon negative."

"Phasing out cars is incredibly impractical!"

"Yet it is necessary. In the immediate term, we must halt the problem as much as possible. In the short term, we must buy time. In the long term, we must reduce the temperature of Meros and completely fix the atmosphere, while dealing with all of the other ways the planet has been trashed."

"And who trashed the planet? Dernej."

"Well I'm sorry that our congress is almost entirely comprised of big oil executives! There is only so much I can do with my limited absolute power as a leader!"

"Quiet," said Jebediah. "What people did or didn't do in the past is of no consequence right now, what is of consequence is what we start doing right now. We must do all we can in the immediate term. Sacrifices must be made for the sake of the planet. In the long term, we can and will build a sunshield, and can and will do our best to clean the atmosphere. In the short term... We are still assessing options."

"You mean looking for options. You haven't found any yet."

"I am going to be honest with you. You are correct. We have not found any viable options yet. It is being made our number one priority planetwide. If there is a way to save Meros, then you can be sure that we will do our absolute best to find it." There was silence in the room for a few more seconds.

"I believe that this is our best chance," said one of the leaders after a while. "I hereby transfer my dictatorial powers to Jebediah Kerman. Jebediah, you are now the supreme ruler of Xerni."

"I know nothing about Xerni."

"And yet, right now, Xerni could use your help more than mine." Jeb's communication device buzzed. He turned away for several seconds, listening. He nodded.

"Okay. Thank you." He turned back to the crowd. "The details have not been worked out yet, but we have a plan that may work."




"The title Supreme Ruler of Xerni can only be transferred by the current Supreme Ruler, and is only valid after consulting the Xernon High Court," whispered one of the Jebediah Kermans to himself. "And since the Xernon high court no longer exists, I will always and forever be Supreme Ruler Jebediah Kerman of Xerni."

Jebediah looked down in sadness.




"It's time," Cheng whispered to himself. The plan was due to be enacted in a mere two days, four more passes of the landing site below the Voyager. They had settled on sending down a makeshift electric screwdriver along with a few other parts to rearrange the plane into something that, per the calculations, should be flyable enough, and attach a hydrofoil to the bottom of the plane to allow it to take off.

The plan had too much that could go wrong. Far too much. Everyone knew the odds were slim, but it was the best plan they could come up with, besides Cheng's earlier plan. He had shared the plan, but nobody could find a way to get the necessary hardware working.

Cheng had another plan. This one had a higher chance of working. Unfortunately, it had one major drawback.


Cheng looked around. He wandered through the modules, checking that everyone was asleep.

Everyone was. Trying to be as quiet as possible, he opened a drawer and removed the electric screwdriver, being prepared for its descent down to Laythe in a makeshift descent capsule. He snuck throughout the ship, gathering food, water, and a few other critical items. If all went well, he wouldn't need that much.


He looked out at Jool.


He looked out at Laythe.

And then he donned his spacesuit and went through the airlock.


He jetpacked over to the re-entry module.


The drill, being as makeshift as it was, probably did not have too much life in it, so he had to be cautious.

He removed four sepratrons from the craft, of the eight that were there, making sure that he removed every other one,  so that the thrust would still be balanced.

He then proceeded to remove one of the four parachutes. It was harder than the sepratrons to remove, as it was embedded in the structure of the craft.


Admittedly it was a bit of a gamble. One side would experience a larger impact than the others, and chance for injury during landing was raised a little, but the capsule had been designed with chute out capability. The capsule would, in most likelyhood, be fine.


Cheng went into the hatch on the John Cena, and began to get situated. He took out a tablet, a spare one, not his main one, and began controlling the Voyager via it.



First, he ejected the Emerson from the Klaw tug and fired its engine to bring it into an orbit with a similar orbital period to that of the Voyager.


Then, the tug itself was ejected, along with the scanning module. Cheng maneuvered the tug, which docked with the scanning module.


Cheng set the tablet aside and took up the controls of the John Cena. He hesitated, however, when he noticed Ethan's rolled up keyboard in a corner. He picked it up, re-opened the hatch between the John Cena and the Voyager, transferred the keyboard, and closed the hatch.

The John Cena undocked from the Voyager and pointed towards the tug/scanner combo.


Cheng took up the tablet again and Klawed his own ship.


Cheng then noticed that the reaction wheels on the space tug were not inline with the rovemate. He fixed that with one redocking, and then went EVA.


He did his best to securely attach the parachute as far forward as he could on the tug.


Cheng then proceeded to adjust his inclination with the RCS tug according to plan. After the burn was complete, he looked back at the Voyager.


He said nothing.




I woke up first that morning, somehow having gotten a good night's rest for once. I floated around to the cockpit, checking some systems, and I looked out the front window. Something seemed odd, but I didn't notice the first time. A few seconds later, I looked back, and the scanning module, Telemachus, was gone. I started panicking. Cheng had been going on about the docking port controllers and what not, and how stuff was failing. However, the docking port seemed to be in perfect condition, at least the one on this end did. I scanned for nearby objects and found one.

I ran back to the habitation module and knocked on the door to Marie's sleeping compartment. "Marie! Get up!"

"Can't this wait?" she mumbled.

"The Emerson unklawed and floated away."

"Then grab it with the Klaw and bring it back!" There was a short lived moment of pride and excitement for me - I was being trusted to operate two spacecraft.

"The scanning module is gone without a trace." She said nothing. Several seconds passed. "Marie?"

A few seconds later, she opened the door of her compartment and floated out, fully dressed. "Without a trace?"

"Not on the short range scanner!" My eyes fell upon my keyboard. "Odd, I thought I left this in the lander." I went over, grabbed it, and tried to open the hatch to the John Cena. "And now we have a stuck hatch!" Marie came over and looked at the hatch - through the tiny window in the docking port - and saw stars.

"The John Cena is gone," she said.

"Our electrical systems may be having problems."

"Everyone up!" she shouted. "Jack, contact control, Cheng, check the electrical systems! Ethan, with me! We are going to grab it with the tug!" We made our way to the command module.

"Oh no," I said as I checked the computer.


"The tug is gone."

"The tug is gone?" said a very tired sounding Jack who had floated up through the hatch.

"And the lander. And the scanner. Emerson is flying alongside!" I reported.

"I am telling control now," he said.

"Cheng!" shouted Marie.

"I'll get him up," I responded. We probably weren't going to klaw the Emerson until we found the Klaw. I went back to his sleeping compartment. I knocked. No response. "Cheng?" I knocked harder. "CHENG! We have a situation, please wake up!" Worried, I kicked the door. I then went to get the key from storage. I opened the door, fearing he had died overnight or something. I looked inside."Guys," I said nervously.

"What?" said Marie.

"Cheng is gone."

"He can't be gone!"

"Maybe he was doing some late night work on the lander," suggested Jack, "And accidentally triggered something and got launched away."

"That doesn't explain everything else, though. And is the Cena's radio working?" I asked.

"I don't know. Starting long range scan," said Marie. A few seconds passed. "Well, I found the ships. One life sign."

"Where?" She pulled the video up on screen.


"UCE Voyager to LML John Cena, this is Marie. Cheng, what are you doing?!?"

"Oh good, you're up," he said. "I'm rescuing Alonya, of course."

"You and what plan?"

"I would rather not talk right this second, I am about to enter Laythe's atmosphere and I need to concentrate."

"Update, the drill is missing!" said Jack.

"It's called an electric screwdriver, and I have it right here," replied Cheng calmly.

"If this goes wrong, we don't have a screwdriver, you know?"

"Thank you, captain obvious, although you are correct. If this goes right, though, we won't need the screwdriver."

"Are you aerobraking into a low orbit to drop something down to the surface?" asked Marie.

"No. My trajectory is currently set for a landing."

"A... Landing? Cheng, are you crazy?" Marie asked in disbelief with a hint of a chuckle.

"How are you getting back?" I asked.

"Trust me," he said. "I will tell you everything when I am on the surface."

"Cheng, please, just adjust your trajectory to go to low orbit, or better, to not aerobrake at all. Let's talk about this before you go ahead and do it!"

"Too late," he said.


All of his transmissions became more and more staticy.

"And I will need all the fuel I can get!"

Then, the static overtook his voice and the radio went dark.





Cheng focused as he expertly kept the spacecraft pointed prograde. His use of the scanner as a makeshift heat shield had not gone as smoothly as he anticipated, but nothing else besides the probe core appeared to be melting.


Except for that, of course.





"Cheng, please respond!"

"First atmospheric pass completed. I am now on a trajectory to land somewhere near Alonya."

"Cheng, this is madness! Get back to orbit right now!"

"If I do, I won't have enough fuel left for the plan."

Cheng was once again cut off as the flames came back.



They subsided once more, but Cheng had turned off the radio. We all watched with anticipation as Cheng flipped the craft Cena first, and used the RCS to initiate a steep glide towards Alonya.



"Altitude two kilometers," said Jack.

"How is he going to land? Surely the spark doesn't have that much thrust!" I said.


Suddenly, a parachute popped out, alarmingly low, and immediately fully deployed, slowing the spacecraft to a speed of about eleven meters per second.


"Where did he get that?" asked Cheng.

"The descent craft, more than likely," Alonya said.


Cheng fired the engine in the John Cena a few meters above the surface.


Splashdown, while rather fast, caused no damage to the craft.

"Rescuer-1 to Voyager, landing on Laythe was successful. I am just over 300 meters from the - "

"Explain yourself, Cheng."

"Just hold on, I would rather only explain this once, and I want to do it to Alonya's face." He went EVA, hesitated, and then temporarily attached four sepratrons to the cabin. Later, we found out that this was so he wouldn't sink to the bottom of the ocean carrying them.


"Where in the world did you get those?" asked Marie.

"Again, the descent vehicle probably," I said. I checked the ship's computer. Indeed, one parachute and four sepratrons were missing from the descent vehicle.


Cheng was now pushing the spacecraft (Rescuer-1, apparently) towards Alonya and the Lost Dreams. We argued with Cheng, who ignored us, for a few more minutes.

"If one of you could wake Alonya up, that would be great," he said at last. Marie obliged and began playing music into Alonya's headset.

"Huh? What?" she said after a while.




"Cheng? Cheng! What the hell, why are you down here?"

"Because I am rescuing you."

"There's only one seat!" One of us is stuck here! You shouldn't have come!"

"That's where you're wrong."

"And you can come up with a rescue plan that works better than the one that humanity spent weeks on?"

"I borrowed a parachute and four sepratrons from the descent vehicle. I brought the tug, the John Cena, and the scanner down. I used the scanner as a heat shield, and its remains will be useful later. I landed with a combination of the parachute and the engine."

"And you need the lander why? Without it you could have gotten away with the chute!"

"Two reasons. To refuel the plane to give it a better chance of reaching orbit, and to maintain the float angle of the plane while we reattach the tug."


"I'm getting ahead of myself. Now that the stuff is here, we are going to Klaw the side of the plane with the tug, and use the RCS and reaction wheels to bring it close to horizontal. One of us will pilot the John Cena, probably using the engine to get it underwater, and dock with the Lost Dreams. From there, the plane and lander will float mostly level. We will detach the tug. I will then detach the spent de-orbit motors, and attach more sepratrons in their place with the electric screwdriver, altering the existing mounts so I can attach four instead of two."

"What are the sepratrons for?"

"I'm getting to that. From there, the tug, with the remains of the scanner attached to the back for additional leverage, will klaw the top rear of the plane, we will use RCS and reaction wheels to rock back and forth, and eventually reach vertical again, pointed maybe thirty degrees above the horizon. We will refuel the plane, board both command pods, rock forward and back as far as we can, and then, at the right moment, fire the jet engine, light the sepratrons, and when we are vertical, release the Klaw! The sepratrons will get the jet up to a speed where it can produce enough thrust to work properly, and from there, we fly up into orbit, where we are picked up one by one on the Emerson and brought back to the Voyager." He inhaled.

"Wow..." said Marie. "That's... Complicated."

"But it sounds plausible," I said.

"We're going to fly to orbit with the John Cena docked to the front of the Lost Dreams? That's got to be heavy!"

"And weren't the docking ports having magnet problems?" I asked.

"The jet is way too big for a plane of this size, and I brought extra fuel so that the second stage will be able to fire longer!"

"And the drag, Cheng! That's like flying a brick to space!"

"I prefer the term "aerodynamically irresponsible." But yes, it is not as aerodynamic and we will not have as high a top speed, but as long as we get a decently high apoapsis, we can orbit! Once we get high enough, we can ditch one of the capsules once it's out of fuel, and fly the other one to orbit with the other person carefully holding onto the ladder! We even have our jetpacks if we need them!"

"And you've done the math? It works out?"



"I taught him what I know, and now he's gotten so good I can barely start to understand what he talks about!"

"The student has become the master," said Jack.

"But why didn't you tell anyone about this?" demanded Marie. "You just about gave us heart attacks!"

"I knew everyone would dismiss it as ridiculous and too risky, and because it was finalized so late, everyone would have likely gone through with the first plan anyway. But if you really think about it, this does sound ridiculous, but it makes sense, doesn't it?"

"This sounds absurd, but it's too late to go back now," said Marie.

"Once you light the sepratrons, you only have one chance! The timing of the liftoff could go horribly wrong!" I said. "Admittedly, it sounds cool, and there are fewer chances to mess the assembly up than with the first plan, which  pretty much meant rebuilding the whole plane."

"That's a lot of things that have to go right, but you could say the same about the other plan," said Jack.

"Well..." said Alonya.


Alonya hugged him tightly for several seconds.

"Oh my. We... We... We're going home!"


"Yes, Alonya. Yes we are!"

"When do we start?"

"Right now."


A grin spread across Alonya's face.






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  • 5 weeks later...

Somewhere in an alternate/mirror universe:

Journey: The Last Notice. The humans find an alien species, the Kerbals. However, this race is tremendously silly. They must give them a test to see if they can become serious enough to join the United Federation of Planets. All Kerbals are teleported to Earth where they must travel to Mars, Phobos, and Deimos and back using 1950's-2010's era human technology. Starring protagonist Obbury Kerman and his love interest Degrid Kerman. Also on the mission are humans Elon Musk, Buzz Aldrin, Peggy Whitson, and Richard Branson. Halfway through the mission, the galaxy is attacked by extremely silly aliens who threaten the integrity of society with their sillification rays.

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  • 1 month later...

Aaaand it's been two months.

The screenies for the next part have been done a while but I haven't written in forever. I've also got stuff going on, like college application, musical rehearsal, a slight homework backlog, other activities, trying to find a date to homecoming, etc. Unfortunately, it's not as convenient as having an alien land you right there and finding someone who wants to go with you on the roof of a rocket assembly building.

This isn't dead but I may very well miss my target of having the story wrapped up by the end of the year.

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21 minutes ago, Ultimate Steve said:

Unfortunately, it's not as convenient as having an alien land you right there and finding someone who wants to go with you on the roof of a rocket assembly building.

Really? You mean that when I get older, no aliens will abduct me and I’ll meet the girl I love on a sub-orbital untested plane? This is craziness! In all seriousness though, I understand how hard it is. Best of luck!


23 minutes ago, Ultimate Steve said:

I've also got stuff going on, like college application, musical rehearsal, a slight homework backlog, other activities, trying to find a date to homecoming, etc.

You have a life? This is crazy! ;) 


24 minutes ago, Ultimate Steve said:

This isn't dead but I may very well miss my target of having the story wrapped up by the end of the year.

I look forward to more, but take your time. RL is hard. :)

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Chapter 25 - Saving Alonya


========== Star Ethan's Private Journal

I hadn't exactly been forbidden to walk around this wing of the hospital, but I hadn't been told I could either... In my defense, there's only so much you can occupy yourself with in a room full of medical equipment beyond your comprehension and no access to outside information (After all, I wasn't supposed to be here, and no human was supposed to know that aliens other than the Kerbals exist). Plus, I couldn't sleep. It might have something to do with Illasticonia's day length.

I swung my legs over the side of the bed and tiptoed to the door. I slowly opened it. The hallway was lit only by the night glow of the city streaming in through a window at the far end of the hallway.

I looked left. On that end there was a large door, presumably the airlock. There were a few other doors, which were labeled as patient rooms, operating rooms, and storage rooms. I slowly turned my gaze to the right. It seemed that I was, indeed, alone.

I stepped forward. Suddenly, something jumped out of shadows, towards me! "AAAA!" I shouted, jumping backwards. I fell flat on my back, a bit harder than I would have liked because of the high gravity.

"Relax, dude, it's just me," said a familiar voice. The figure stepped fully out of the shadows.

"Oh. Evelina. Hi!"

"Hello again, Ethan!" She helped me up, and we hugged.

"I missed you so much," I said.

"I missed you more!"


"I do bet!" We pulled away.

"So, you're okay?" I asked.

"I'm not the one who nearly cracked his head open on the ground just now."

"Haha. You know what I mean, though... You were, well, sitting closer to the engines."

"Oh, yeah, that. The doctors haven't told me much, but I'll be okay, for now at least. I have a slightly higher chance for cancer later in life, and I guess you do too, but all of the other stuff that they fixed in the meantime should more than offset that. Are you okay?"

"Oh, yeah. I'm fine. I was a tad lonely, bored, and anxious, but who wouldn't? And did you say that the doctors fixed other stuff?"

"Yeah. They didn't tell me but I heard them talking about how they couldn't believe how fragile our bodies were and that they couldn't resist making a few upgrades. Don't tell anyone, we aren't supposed to know."

"Weirdest superhero origin story ever."

"It's probably just disease resistance and organ optimization and boring stuff like that."

"Right. Evelina? You look tired."

"Oh, yeah. Since they finished helping me first, I've been interviewed by God knows how many people about how the attack went. Enjoy these few hours, they will want to interview you too."

"Yay, something to look forward to... How long have you been out here?"

"Only a few minutes. I wasn't going to stay long, what if someone comes and we're not supposed to be out here? I thought about coming in to wake you up and talk to you, but - "

The airlock beeped and we both froze. A light turned red. It started to hiss. Before we could take more than a step or two back to our rooms, the door swung wide open to reveal none other than Jebediah Kerman.


"Ethan! Evelina!" He said, obviously struggling to hold a smile on his exhausted face.

"We were just going back to our, well - "

"How soon can you be ready to leave?"

"Well, now I guess? It's not like we have much of anything to pack."

"Right. most of the stuff that was on the Wyvern has been decontaminated and has already been loaded onto my spacecraft. Unfortunately the Wyvern itself was confiscated, deactivated, and placed into storage, as it is an illegal spacecraft after all. Since this was a secret mission, none of us are facing charges. If it's anyone that will after all this is done, it's me, as you were following my orders and never flew it except when you didn't have a choice."

"Do you have clothes for us?"

"What's wrong with what you're wearing now?"

"We're in hospital garb, Jebediah," Evelina said.

"Exactly. Comfy, has it's own temperature regulation system, tailored to you, repels dirt, what's not to love?"

"The blue and white polka dots."

"Also we don't have socks or shoes."

"Point taken. Get your stuff, I'll find something for you to wear, and we're out of here in a few minutes."

"Where are we going?" I asked.

"Kerbin. Illasticonia is likely one of the next places to be attacked. The planet is being evacuated as we speak. We'll debrief you further when we get there." I looked out the window at the majestic blue city. This could all be gone in who knows how long? I started tearing up. "Ethan, let's go!" I snapped out of it and quickly walked back into my room and gathered up the few things that were mine. I wondered... Would this room ever be used again? There was an earsplitting beep in the hallway. I heard Jebediah cry out. I ran back to see what was happening.

Jeb was backed up against the airlock door. In front of him was a green hologram, with ethereal webs spreading out in tendrils all around, a dark spot in the middle that evoked the reaction one would get if it were a hideous creature, though this creature was without form apart from the darkness. It spoke.

"Greetings, Representative Jebediah Kerman. I speak for The Species. I come with a crucial message."

"You!" snarled Jebediah. I had never heard him speak with this level of anger and fear. "Get out of our galaxy!"

"All of the Galactic Representatives will arrive to the Galactic Council Chamber around Sagittarius A* for one final meeting. A final surrender agreement will be presented. If not accepted, we will never offer you another deal and will proceed with our ideal galactic plans. The meeting will commence in exactly 3 Ziquunodian days. You may bring all the force you desire ,as  it will do nothing. If a representative is not present, that representative's planet shall be immediately obliterated. If The Species has already destroyed that planet, a random inhabited world will be destroyed instead. We would like to remind you that the Species exists as a driving force to discover all that exists, learn all that is to be known, and prolong existence, no matter the cost. The time is ticking, Jebediah. You certainly don't want your world to end up like Meros." Jebediah clenched his fists and began to tremble.

"You didn't have to make this personal. This is not a personal matter."

"Neither was Meros." The green orb curled up into itself, spinning faster and faster, its light growing brighter and brighter, until it plinked out of existence. Evelina had seen the whole thing from down the hallway. I had hid behind the door. and peeked out. It probably didn't help. The Species probably knew exactly where I was the whole time. Nobody spoke for a while.

"I need to go," said Jebediah, in a tone of voice I had never heard him use.

"Alright. Let's go," said Evelina.

"No. You are not coming. The Species are going to have all of the most important people in the galaxy in one place. We will be completely at their mercy, if they even have a single ounce of mercy among them. You two are going back to Kerbin."

"Jeb - "

"I was blackmailed into taking both of you with me on a dangerous, likely one way mission before, and I won't make the same mistake again. You two are getting put on the next neutron bolt to hub 9 and from there, a secure ship back to Kerbin."

"I... I understand."


"Evelina, we ran into two small Species space fighters and by all human knowledge, we should not have had any chance of living to speak about it. Who knows what they will have at the chamber? This isn't an adventure game. We can't keep looking at danger and saying "Oh, that looks fun!"


"Come. We need to get your stuff. I wish you safety on your journey."

"Likewise," I said. "But what's Meros?"

"I said come on, Ethan, we need to get your stuff."

"Jeb - "

"Put on these bubble helmets. They will allow you to survive in the hospital's atmosphere. It's low tech but we don't have time to get you fitted with respirators."





"All the thrusters still work," replied Alonya.

"Good. Aiming... Aiming..."


"And captured! Alonya, get full trim upwards on the controller and trim yaw and roll to remain stationary. I'll prepare for the docking attempt. If it doesn't work turn it off, we don't want to be wasting RCS fuel. We have plenty but we don't want to take any chances."

"On it. Trimming upwards." The nose of the spacecraft began to rise out of the water.


"Oh hey, we don't actually need that much RCS."

"Good." Cheng hopped into the John Cena.

"Cheng," said Marie over the radio, "Maybe we should wait a bit to have mission control fully review your plan before proceeding with it."

"If we work hard enough, we can catch the Voyager on this pass."

"Days on Laythe are like 15 hours long. It doesn't matter."

"I've been on Laythe for long enough, haven't I?"

"I would like a second opinion, at least," said Marie. "You are proceeding awfully fast. Bill! You're an engineer. Do you think it will work?"

"I'm not allowed to give insight into mission critical decisions."

"Aaagh. Guys, please, let us think this through for a while before you accidentally blow something up or get someone killed!"


The adapter is off. I'm going for a docking attempt." Cheng fired up the John Cena's engine and the craft slowly drifted towards the Lost Dreams.

"At least use caution to some extent!" exclaimed Marie.


"Rock the ship back and forth with RCS a bit. I'm currently holding the docking magnet wires in place."

"Got it." There was a click.


"Alright, mechanical latch on, magnets off. We're docked!"

"Yes!" I said enthusiastically. "What's next?"

"We need to detach the sepratrons from the back of the craft and add the four new ones," said Alonya.

"Yes, but first," responded Cheng, "now that the craft is level, we're going to re-attach the tug to the tail fin to get more leverage."



"And there we go!" Cheng said. "The first sepratron is off!" He kicked it to the side and it slowly sank. He hefted one of the new ones over and began modifying the bracket to hold two instead of one.


"Two down, two to go! Alonya, flip the craft over!" Alonya rocked the craft back and forth, using both the reaction wheels and the RCS. Eventually, it peaked, and rolled all the way over, resulting in a large splash.

"Careful, Alonya!" shouted Marie. "Don't break the tug, we need that!"


"Right. Sorry," apologized Marie. Cheng grabbed the third sepratron and made the walk back across the docked craft.

"Wow, it's a bit slippery when it's wet."

"Be careful. The worst thing that could happen is you dropping the screwdriver and it sinking to the bottom of the ocean."


"Adios!" The other empty sepratron was knocked off of the craft. Soon, the third new one was attached.

Everything was going so well. Cheng walked back over to get the fourth sepratron, now comfortable with walking on the wet craft. He picked it up, began walking back, and...


"NOOOOO!" Cheng dove into the water, but it was too late.


The fourth sepratron slowly sank deeper and deeper into the depths of Laythe's ocean.

"Cheng? What happened?"



"I slipped and fell. I dropped a sepratron in the ocean. It's gone."

"Oh no."

"Wait... Wait! I think that we can still take off with three. We just have to mount the third one on the bottom and leave the top two. That will leave the thrust mostly in line and means we only have to do one custom mounting point."

"Cheng, wait," said Marie. Stop being so brazen in your pursuit of orbit! Something has already gone wrong! Please, let's wait for a second opinion. Maybe the mission controllers can optimize your plan. For Pete's sake, even the monolith told you to be careful!"

"No. I told Marie to be careful on Laythe because of what the Monolith showed me."

"And what exactly did it show you?"

"Alonya, please flip the craft over again."

"Roger, flipping."



Cheng prepared to move the third sepratron from the lower port side to the underside of the craft.




"Jebediah Kerman. Are you seriously suggesting that you nuke our planet?"

"Yes. In order to build loads of carbon capture machines and an orbiting sunshade, we need time. We have under three weeks before people start dropping dead because newsflash, they can't breathe carbon. Best case scenario, the sunshades will take several times that. The planet is so hot now that forests are dying and burning constantly, releasing more carbon than the rest of Meros combined. This carbon makes the planet even hotter. It's a feedback loop. In order to stop this feedback loop, we need to take drastic action to cool the planet down as soon as possible."

"Which is what the sunshade is for!"

"Again, we don't have time for a permanent one now, but we have time for something more temporary: Uncountable tons of dust flying up there blocking out the sun should do the job. Our top scientists have been calculating day and night. We have enough nuclear material to blow a giant chunk of land into the air, blocking out most of the sunlight. We would have used a supervolcano but your planet doesn't have any of those."

"It's enough of a shock to our scientists that an atomic explosive is even possible. They can barely conceive of the side effects. What about the radiation?"

"We're designing the bomb to mitigate that. There isn't enough explosive material on our entire planet to do it with conventional explosives."

"Jebediah. This is madness. How do we know that the radiation and dust won't kill everyone?"

"The radiation should be only a few times greater than the background and only for a few years. We'll distribute equipment that protects against dust to the entire planet."

"And what about all the stuff you haven't thought of? How soon do you want to do this?"

"This week. Next week at the very latest. The longer we wait, the less likely we are to succeed. It will take time for the dust cloud to spread."

"Only a few days... You aren't going to be able to think of everything in time!"

"No. But do you have any better ideas?"

"I... I guess I'm not the super advanced space traveler from an alien world in the room. I'm afraid I have no other option than to trust you. I am no scientist... But if your planet thinks they know how to save ours, you have all of the support that the nation of Daneistrai can give."





"Science experiments number 2... 3... 4... All Cena experiments away."

"Don't break anything."

"I'm not taking off anything large! Only non critical small stuff that is dead weight and extra drag. Okay. I think..."


"That's the last one." Cheng looked  up at the sky. "We're ready. Alonya, how are those simulations going?" Alonya had been in the cockpit of the Lost Dreams for a while running takeoff simulations.

"I've got the hang of it. Hopefully this performs the same in real life. Pulling up after takeoff is likely the biggest problem."

"Alonya..." began Marie, "I wanted a second opinion but it seems to be going well down there so far, and if what you say is true, you are ready. Do you think you are ready?"

"Well... Yes. I trust Cheng's math. I think I can take off without much issue. Cheng, are we go?"

"Yes. We are go."

"Alright. Let's review the takeoff plan."

"Orient so that we're nose up facing the proper direction, rock back and forth, warming up the jet engine. When we're swinging upwards, we fire the sepratrons and detach the klaw once we're at a sufficient angle. The sepratrons will get the jet to a speed where it can work well enough to accelerate us. Arc over to the precalculated angles shown on the tables I made. Once we're out of the thick part of the atmosphere, we transfer fuel around, stage, fire the plane's engine, and run out of fuel. Alonya, at this point you will go EVA and grab onto the John Cena's ladder. Then, we undock, and I'll carefully fly the John Cena to orbit. If we don't get all the way there, we jetpack."

"Alright. I think I've got it." She paused for a second. "Cheng... This is insane. Are we actually going to do this?"

"Do we have any other option?" Alonya took a deep breath. "Alright. I'm strapped in." Cheng boarded the lander can.

"I'm strapped in as well."

"I'm notifying KSC of your impending takeoff," said Marie.

"Anything I can do to help besides stand here nervously?" asked Sean.

"No, not really, I don't think," she said.

"And me?" I asked.

"Moral support, I guess."

"Alright. Left. Right. Left. Right. Left. Right. LEFT!"


"And we're vertical."


"Aligning to launch azimuth..."

"Alonya," said Marie, "I do not mean to pressure you, but please, take this as seriously as possible. Theoretically, you can abort and land with the drogue chute and engine, but you won't have sepratrons, and likely won't have enough fuel for a second attempt. You have one shot."

"And, you know, the fate of humanity depends on a human getting off of Laythe," added Jack.

"Yeah, right, no pressure," she said.

"Wait one second," said Cheng.

"Of course you delay now."

"You said you had difficulty pulling up in the sims."


"Fire the bottom sepratron first. Once you're near vertical fire the other two. That should help."

"Roger. That's a really good idea, Cheng."

"One shot."

"And I'm sure as the ocean we're floating in going to make it count. Ready?"

"Electromagnets and mechanical docking locks are firmly in place. Fuel levels are good. Azimuth is good."

"Alright. Rock back and forth, fire jet, bottom sepratron, top sepratrons, release klaw, fly up. Cheng, on second thought, you should release the klaw, not me. All that at once is a bit much to do."

"Alright. Roger."

"Lost dreams is a stupid name."

"Yeah, no kidding," I said.

"UCE Voyager, this is the Phoenix. Takeoff in ten seconds."


Back, forth!

"Nine! Eight!"

Back, forth!

"Seven! Six!"






Engine startup!

The jet engine began to whine.







The jet engine spooled to life.


The jet engine pushed the craft forwards as the reaction wheels, thrust torque, and reaction control thrusters strained to pull the nose up.



The bottom sepratron fired.

"FIRE!" Alonya shouted as she fired the second set of sepratrons.

"RELEASE!" shouted Cheng.




"We're yawing!"



"Sepratron burnout, pitching slightly..."

"Pitch tables up."

"Cheng... We're gaining vertical speed. It worked!"

"Son of a Kraken!" exclaimed Bill.

"You're in the air!" I shouted.

"Following altitude/speed/pitch tables now," said Alonya.


"Cheng... We're going to make it!"

"Go, Phoenix, go!"

"Um, Cheng? The tables say I'm going too slow. I'm going 150 and I'm supposed to be up to 200."


"Could it be the reduced sepratron count?" asked Marie.

"No, it's the drag! We're struggling to accelerate. At this rate, we're not going to get supersonic!"

"Cheng, you either messed up your tables or your drag calculations!" accused Marie.

"I made no mistakes."

"Then why are we not going to make it past mach one?"

"You never would have let us get off the ground if you knew."

"Cheng, why are you pumping fuel backwards?"


"Because, Alonya, if you want to reach orbit, you are going to need every drop of fuel you can get."


There was a loud click.


The John Cena wobbled around for a moment before it was ripped backwards by the relentless wind, smashing into a wing in the process. The Phoenix shot forwards, doubling its acceleration.


"CHENG!" shouted Alonya. The John Cena tumbled. "WHAT DID YOU DO?"

"Alonya, abort," said Marie.


"No! You won't be able to make it!" shouted Cheng as his craft tumbled. "It was hard enough to land the first time, remember?"


"I've done it once, I can do it again!"

"And then you won't be able to make it back!"

"Throttling down. Turning."

"Alonya, listen to me! On the best of days, the Lost Dreams had a 50/50 shot at working with the EVA pack! That, combined with the current fuel situation necessitated some kind of drop tank!"

"My controls have no effect!"

"Because I'm remotely locking them to prograde. Sorry, Alonya."

"Cheng, release her controls, that's an order!" shouted Marie.

"Believe me, if I could do this without dying, I would. I tried so hard to think of a way that would work."

"And we'll think of another way!"

"There is no other way."

"You can't possibly know that!"



"Pushing you further into space with the last of my EVA fuel. Acting as a takeoff ramp. Clinging to the ladder and losing grip. Endless realities. Always the same outcome."

"Cheng - "

"I pleaded. I prayed to all of the gods I could think of. I learned math. I calculated everything I could that would help your chances of survival. I tried being nice to gain favor with you all - and NOTHING WORKED! The being nice part? That was a complete sham. I only did that because I deluded myself into thinking it would give me a chance at living. I tried changing the future. I tried, I really did... But the monolith wants, no, needs me to die. So please. Make my life count for something. Your controls are now unlocked. Get to orbit. Save humanity."

"Cheng - "

"You faked being nice?" asked Jack.


"Cheng, you are a liar. It might have started out as a sham - but as someone who deals with people, fake and real for a living, I can tell when someone's faking, and your friendliness slowly became real."

"That's not true!"

"The old Cheng would have shouted at me, cursed me out, and huffed off angrily to mope. You're just saying this so we don't feel as bad about letting you... letting you..."

"Guys... He's right. I'm sorry. Thank you all for showing me what true friendship feels like. Please... Remember me. Goodbye."













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On 9/24/2019 at 1:40 AM, fulgur said:

Another amazing chapter.;.;

*notification sound* Fulgur likes a post in Voyager: The Final Warning.

The great like derp of 2019 strikes again...

On 9/24/2019 at 7:52 AM, obney kerman said:

Well, I... wasn't expecting that.

And by "that", I mean most of the chapter. Well done!

Stay tuned for more hopefully unexpected things.

On 9/27/2019 at 11:29 AM, Kerballing (Got Dunked On) said:

Cheng... *slight tears*


Something I'm going to do in the rewrite, assuming I ever get there, is give more characters arcs and changes. Many of them are just there. I think I did this way better with Cheng than the other characters... But there's still lots of room for improvement.

A bit late for that now! The endgame will begin soon.


Thank you all for the kind feedback!


Also, anyone here know a decent amount of photoshop? If possible I would like to get someone to make a few things for me for the next chapter, something that can't really be captured in the game.

Edited by Ultimate Steve
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