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


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1 minute ago, Ultimate Steve said:

In my head, a Voyage movie/series would be a mixture of live action and ksp gameplay (or animation if we have a huge budget, but well done KSP sets may be faster), involving well animated Kerbals and lots of green screen. Unfortunately this involves having actual actors in the same place and probably sets. And we would have to deal with zero gravity. The KSP of course would be loaded up on visual mods. Not quite nassault level but better than stock. And also we'd need spacesuit costumes.

I really, really hope it isn't live action. Hiring actors and getting them all in one place over the KSP Forums would be... not ideal.

And I hope for a series, one episode per chapter, to make it easier to split up and to get feedback from the community sooner.

2 minutes ago, Ultimate Steve said:

Full animation could also work but I'd imagine the style would probably have to be a quicker and non photorealistic one if we ever want to finish it.

The kind of thing I'm hoping for is: pictures. Every time the set and/or characters need to be changed, or an event needs to be shown, the picture changes.

I'm explaining this poorly. I'm hoping for something like the Pixar Toy Story storyboard in the spoiler below, but higher quality pictures and stuff.

Spoiler

 

But I have no idea if this is reasonable, high-quality enough, or any of that. If it isn't, we might need to do animation, which will take much longer, but generally look a lot better.

And who will be the artist/animator? I could ring up a few people who make fan art, but there's no real guarantee.

12 minutes ago, Ultimate Steve said:

If we get serious about this, I don't know if I would be doing scripting or not, especially with college coming up, but if I don't I would like to at least consult on the script, as there is a lot I would change. This is less necessary if we wait until revision.

Well, somebody's certainly doing scripting, whether that's you or someone else. I could potentially do scripting, but I don't want to overwhelm myself; and besides, there's probably enough dedicated Voyage fans who'd love to help. Some might be into the tedium that is assembling the script.

14 minutes ago, Ultimate Steve said:

There are some parts that would probably be taken out to make the story flow better and to reduce runtime.

Probably. But certainly don't take out too much, because if it's a series, runtime isn't likely a problem, since we can always just turn chapters into Chapter Pi: Part 1 and Chapter Pi: Part 2.

16 minutes ago, Ultimate Steve said:

Not directly movie related, but an example of something that was in the first chapters that has changed: The council chamber has have been overhauled and is now completely different from it's description in the prologue. The council room is more or less the same but the station is way cooler and way bigger.

I see why it's necessary to wait until plot-holes and stuff are patched in the revision.

Also, if you don't reach the revision before college, please make sure to task someone with revising it, so we don't lose hope of the Voyage Series (or, less likely, the Voyage Film, but I still vote for series).

18 minutes ago, Ultimate Steve said:

Started work on chapter 28 last night. Can't say what the total will come out to be, but we are in the last quarter. Can't say when 28 will come. Not this year, as there are a bunch of application deadlines and I'm going way too slow. Plus new year's and stuff.

I'm not expecting it this year. "This year" equates to about 1.3 days. Don't stress yourself, or overwork yourself, and if the chapter gets lengthy (and if the fans get unruly waiting for an update), don't be afraid to add a minor cliffhanger event in the middle so you can split it up into multiple chapters-- it's how I tried evenly distributing word count across chapters back when i was into writing.

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10 minutes ago, LittleBitMore said:
36 minutes ago, Ultimate Steve said:

 

I really, really hope it isn't live action. Hiring actors and getting them all in one place over the KSP Forums would be... not ideal.

And I hope for a series, one episode per chapter, to make it easier to split up and to get feedback from the community sooner.

Yes, if this is to remain a KSP community project, live action is a bad idea. I was more commenting on my aspirational goals there, if money and time is unlimited that's what I'd do.

 It is probably too long to be a film without massive cuts, so I agree with the episodic format. Honestly the story might be too long for a single book at this point...

12 minutes ago, LittleBitMore said:
39 minutes ago, Ultimate Steve said:

 

The kind of thing I'm hoping for is: pictures. Every time the set and/or characters need to be changed, or an event needs to be shown, the picture changes.

I'm explaining this poorly. I'm hoping for something like the Pixar Toy Story storyboard in the spoiler below, but higher quality pictures and stuff.

Okay. That could work. Maybe a step further would be high quality backgrounds only changing when necessary, so we can focus effort on making the characters move more. But we will definitely not have time for like 30fps animation or anything, or fluid characters, but I do think it should have a faster framerate than the toy story thing shown.

 

14 minutes ago, LittleBitMore said:
Spoiler

 

But I have no idea if this is reasonable, high-quality enough, or any of that. If it isn't, we might need to do animation, which will take much longer, but generally look a lot better.

And who will be the artist/animator? I could ring up a few people who make fan art, but there's no real guarantee.

For a community level project I don't think we should go full animation, as long as the background/character method is of sufficient quality.

Art style is another thing we need to think of. I'm sort of flexible on this, but the characters should still be normally shaped and it shouldn't be entirely 2D. Like, flat characters talking in front of a background is fine but there's probably going to be parts where we need to show ships flying around, and probably parts where they need to walk around. But like as far as art style, again I'm pretty flexible.

And as for art/animation, I cannot for the life of me draw people or animals so that can't be me, but I do have some art experience and I could probably do backgrounds and ship design. Speaking of which, I'm not going to redo the screenshots in revision, but going back there are likely a few things I would change about Voyager. Like the whole Lost Dreams thing... No way the engineers wouldn't catch that design flaw, and no way they would design something that dangerous in the first place. In a series/movie or if I did do a screenshot rewrite (which is probably never) it would be a mechanical or operational error, not a design error. Short version: Some ships would be different if we were to make a series.

28 minutes ago, LittleBitMore said:
55 minutes ago, Ultimate Steve said:

 

Well, somebody's certainly doing scripting, whether that's you or someone else. I could potentially do scripting, but I don't want to overwhelm myself; and besides, there's probably enough dedicated Voyage fans who'd love to help. Some might be into the tedium that is assembling the script.

If I'm not too busy I will certainly think about doing the script. If I had infinite free time I'd gladly do the script, but unfortunately there's this thing called life.

30 minutes ago, LittleBitMore said:
56 minutes ago, Ultimate Steve said:

 

Probably. But certainly don't take out too much, because if it's a series, runtime isn't likely a problem, since we can always just turn chapters into Chapter Pi: Part 1 and Chapter Pi: Part 2.

True.

If it's a series, I'd only be taking things out that aren't in any way necessary to the plot (I was preparing for an alternate ending early on but I dropped that so there's some loose ends I'd snip off early on in the story) and maybe I'd work around some difficult to animate stuff.

33 minutes ago, LittleBitMore said:
59 minutes ago, Ultimate Steve said:

 

I see why it's necessary to wait until plot-holes and stuff are patched in the revision.

Also, if you don't reach the revision before college, please make sure to task someone with revising it, so we don't lose hope of the Voyage Series (or, less likely, the Voyage Film, but I still vote for series).

Noted.

33 minutes ago, LittleBitMore said:
59 minutes ago, Ultimate Steve said:

 

I'm not expecting it this year. "This year" equates to about 1.3 days. Don't stress yourself, or overwork yourself, and if the chapter gets lengthy (and if the fans get unruly waiting for an update), don't be afraid to add a minor cliffhanger event in the middle so you can split it up into multiple chapters-- it's how I tried evenly distributing word count across chapters back when i was into writing.

Thank you!

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4 minutes ago, Ultimate Steve said:

Yes, if this is to remain a KSP community project, live action is a bad idea. I was more commenting on my aspirational goals there, if money and time is unlimited that's what I'd do.

 It is probably too long to be a film without massive cuts, so I agree with the episodic format. Honestly the story might be too long for a single book at this point...

If it is too long for a single book, please make sure to revise (or tell someone to revise) the first book before you begin making the first draft of Book 2 (but feel free to add the story), so we can begin production of the first season of Voyage while you create the story for the second one, for optimum efficiency.

5 minutes ago, Ultimate Steve said:

Okay. That could work. Maybe a step further would be high quality backgrounds only changing when necessary, so we can focus effort on making the characters move more. But we will definitely not have time for like 30fps animation or anything, or fluid characters, but I do think it should have a faster framerate than the toy story thing shown.

Great idea! Easier and better to make, and yet also higher quality in the long run!

6 minutes ago, Ultimate Steve said:

For a community level project I don't think we should go full animation, as long as the background/character method is of sufficient quality.

Art style is another thing we need to think of. I'm sort of flexible on this, but the characters should still be normally shaped and it shouldn't be entirely 2D. Like, flat characters talking in front of a background is fine but there's probably going to be parts where we need to show ships flying around, and probably parts where they need to walk around. But like as far as art style, again I'm pretty flexible.

And as for art/animation, I cannot for the life of me draw people or animals so that can't be me, but I do have some art experience and I could probably do backgrounds and ship design. Speaking of which, I'm not going to redo the screenshots in revision, but going back there are likely a few things I would change about Voyager. Like the whole Lost Dreams thing... No way the engineers wouldn't catch that design flaw, and no way they would design something that dangerous in the first place. In a series/movie or if I did do a screenshot rewrite (which is probably never) it would be a mechanical or operational error, not a design error. Short version: Some ships would be different if we were to make a series.

I'll help you decide how we should do this. A bad plan would just be finding a fan artist/animator, check their art style, and ask them on their post, "Hey, this is good art, wanna go animate a series"? I mean, it could potentially work, but I'm not sure.

I, for one, think that assembling artists and animators might be kinda hard. Maybe we should find 3 people: one for backdrops and static images, one for animating ships and non-static objects, and another for characters.

And as for ship differences, I'm good with that. So long as it doesn't change while the animators are working on it, it shouldn't be a problem.

12 minutes ago, Ultimate Steve said:

If I'm not too busy I will certainly think about doing the script. If I had infinite free time I'd gladly do the script, but unfortunately there's this thing called life.

I suggest getting outside help for this, too. Scripting might not be that hard if all you're really doing is copying from the book. Although, I'm 90% sure I'm oversimplifying this and it's much harder than needed. Worst case scenario with a script person that isn't you: you PM them with directions, they make it, and you tell them what's wrong, and they revise it, and you tell them what's wrong with this version, they fix it, and so on and so forth. Because scripting leaves out basically every single visual detail, it should be generally a lot easier and quicker than writing. Possibly under a few weeks.

15 minutes ago, Ultimate Steve said:

If it's a series, I'd only be taking things out that aren't in any way necessary to the plot (I was preparing for an alternate ending early on but I dropped that so there's some loose ends I'd snip off early on in the story) and maybe I'd work around some difficult to animate stuff.

That sounds reasonable to fix.

Just now, The Minmus Derp said:

Great! If anyone starts a thread for this, can I have a linky?

@Ultimate Steve , @Kerbalstar , @The Minmus Derp , what do you all think about starting a group PM so we don't spoil plans, plot, and other things? If we do, then we should also start a public thread for "hiring" people to work on it, and it should have a cast list.

Also, @The Minmus Derp , I don't think you've confirmed your role in the matter. You mentioned you wanted to help with music, will that be your role?

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1 minute ago, LittleBitMore said:

Ultimate Steve , @Kerbalstar , @The Minmus Derp , what do you all think about starting a group PM so we don't spoil plans, plot, and other things? If we do, then we should also start a public thread for "hiring" people to work on it, and it should have a cast list.

I'm happy with a group PM, sounds like a plan. 

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OH MAN I MISSED A LOT!

 

Okay, the last two chapters were great. 

 

A movie for Voyage? Dude, count me in! That would be amazing! Of course, we could probably use Kopernicus and stuff to help create all the various planets for the sets and probably some CGI blending wouldn't hurt either.

 

Or, even just wait for KSP2 to release and get even better footage!

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16 minutes ago, Kerballing (Got Dunked On) said:

A movie for Voyage? Dude, count me in! That would be amazing! Of course, we could probably use Kopernicus and stuff to help create all the various planets for the sets and probably some CGI blending wouldn't hurt either.

@Ultimate Steve is releasing a casting topic SoonTM. Once that's available, you can probably sign up there.

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On 1/1/2020 at 8:54 AM, fulgur said:

I'd like to help but, unless you want someone to design weird SSTOs, I'm not sure what I could do. I'm usually available though.

Interesting. Its not related to the series, but I do have something story related you might be able to help with. I will pm later maybe, remind me if I forget.

2 hours ago, Kerballing (Got Dunked On) said:

OH MAN I MISSED A LOT!

 

Okay, the last two chapters were great. 

 

A movie for Voyage? Dude, count me in! That would be amazing! Of course, we could probably use Kopernicus and stuff to help create all the various planets for the sets and probably some CGI blending wouldn't hurt either.

 

Or, even just wait for KSP2 to release and get even better footage!

Thank you!

We are leaning towards a series format instead of a movie format, and we are leaning towards simple cartoon-like animation with in-game ships as a reference rather than direct in-game capture.

KSP 2 maybe, but currently plan is ksp1 for the reference craft.

2 hours ago, LittleBitMore said:

@Ultimate Steve is releasing a casting topic SoonTM. Once that's available, you can probably sign up there.

 

2 hours ago, Kerballing (Got Dunked On) said:

"Soon™"

 

Well said.

Yup, the dreaded soon tm!

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Chapter Twenty-Eight - Journey to the Centre of the Galaxy, Part 1

Spoiler

We dropped out of warp (technically it isn't warp but warp sounds cooler) around an orange star.

"Well... That was quick," said Evelina.

"Yeah... That was what, four seconds? Five? Three?" The ship rolled over.

"First humans around this star."

"Yup, but sadly we probably shouldn't stay around to look at the planets, who knows how long we would be here for."

"You have a point. I'm looking at the database... Our next star looks like it should be SK-Q4-4C-02F-182. That's the furthest one with a beacon in the way we want to go, at least." Information on the target star popped up on my screen.

"Appears to be home to five planets, 182-A B C D and E." I turned the ship in the general direction of the star. "Initiating jump in 3... 2..."

"Abracadabra!"

uKTK4Cw.jpg

This time, we popped out next to a red dwarf, in orbit around a gray rocky world.

"182-B by the looks of it," I said. "I wonder how many people have been down there."

"Me too, but I don't intend on making that number bigger today. I'll continue working on plotting our course, and you continue flying, alright?"

"Deal. If there's something very interesting do you think we could stop?"

"Only if it's incredibly interesting. We are under a time constraint."

"True... How long even is a Ziquu-whatever day?"

"No internet access on the ship, out in deep space, sadly, so I can't check. Anyways... Our next star... Hey, this one has a name! Kent, with 8 planets." Data popped up on my screen.

"Alright. Three. Two."

"Abracadabra!"

uKTK4Cw.jpg

Yes I'm too lazy to remake the picture every single time. I mean it's not like jumping through space would look that much different each time.

"Whoa," I said, staring out the window at the red supergiant Kent, which took up a huge portion of my window.

"Huge would be an understatement," she said. I looked the other way. We were orbiting a shiny, sparkly planet. "That planet is called Sawun, or Kent-C. According to the information here, it was a mining world that was abandoned due to the expansion of the star, which has so far swallowed Kent-A and Kent-B."

"So nobody has been there in who knows how long... Intriguing. What if there's someone down there that got left behind?"

"Then they are probably dead, given how close they are to the star. Next stop, another string of numbers and letters."

"Here we go again." I once again pointed the ship.

"Abracadabra!" we both shouted.

uKTK4Cw.jpg

We passed by a star like the sun, a blue giant with a hot gas giant around it, three red dwarfs with rocky bodies in a row, and a white dwarf before coming out at another sun-like star. At that point, a warning buzzer sounded.

"We have an overheating problem, it looks like," I said.

"It says we've done too many jumps too quickly. It says we can do a few more, but then we need to leave it for an hour or two or we risk a breakdown or worse. I guess most races had breaks for landing on worlds, and the races might not have even been this long..."

"Right, then... Should we try to get somewhere with some utilities then, or a place to explore, or do you just want to stay here?"

"Depends on what's coming up... Hmm... There is a world with an inhabited space station two jumps from now. The star is called Tuun, and it has six planets."

"Alright. Let's go check it out!"

"Right. The in between star is on your panel." I turned the ship.

"Abracadabra!"

uKTK4Cw.jpg

"Definitely three to four seconds I'd say," I said. This star was orange.

"Probably closer to four? But yes, somewhere in there. The course to Tuun should be onscreen. The space station should be somewhere around the beacon... Directions will be put onscreen when we're there. It looks like the station is around the third planet from Tuun."

"Roger that. Pointing ship."

"Abracadabra!"

uKTK4Cw.jpg

About one to two seconds later, we reached the Tuun system. The cockpit of the Abracadabra was bathed in the yellow-orange light of Tuun, which appeared to be a bit dimmer than Earth's sun. I gazed off to the left and saw Tuun. Almost dim enough to look at directly.

"Ethan," said Evelina.

"Yes?"

"Look." I turned away from Tuun and looked to my right. Out of the window loomed a sad, medium grey world, nearly entirely covered by thick grey clouds. Through some of the gaps in the clouds I could see what appeared to be grey frozen oceans. In one spot, there was a massive crack, hundreds or thousands of miles long, and in places, glowing orange lava was visible at the bottom.

"Wow... I mean, we have an atmospheric world for once."

"And oceans of whatever that is... And what appears to be lava."

"So the oceans are frozen, and there's lava? Maybe it's really intense seasons? Maybe its in a really elliptical orbit?"

"It can't be seasons, its planetwide. The orbit isn't very elliptical according to the computer. And that wouldn't explain the crack... I think something happened here."

"Asteroid impact maybe?"

"Whoever is at the station would probably be able to tell us, and we have to stop here to let the ship cool anyways."

"Right. I'm on it." I looked down at my screen. We were in a similar orbit to the station, which was only a few dozen kilometers away. As we were so close, the beacon was likely located either really close to or at the station. I began maneuvering. "Evelina, what's this planet called?"

"Let's see, the computer has a list of the planets around Tuun, and - Oh."

"What?" I turned around to face her. She looked up and hesitated slightly.

"This is Meros."

"Meros? The planet that Jeb wouldn't tell us about?"

"It would appear so." I looked back at Meros.

"It just feels so... cold and dark. Maybe sad, even."

"Something definitely happened here, and that something probably involves Jeb."

 

==========

 

"Greetings." There was a chorus of greetings in response in various languages throughout the ship. The massive Amulet class starship, the Peace Rose, had served as Kerbin's command ship over the past several days, in Low Meros Orbit. It also functioned as a de facto space station, one of the most important around Meros. In addition to the multiple rocket powered landing craft it carried, numerous ships of all kinds frequently docked to it. A much larger station was being constructed at the moment, as the amount of cargo headed to Meros would need to rapidly increase in the following days.

The ship was about 100 meters long and housed Ambassador Jebediah Kerman, several dozen crew members, and precisely thirty-eight Merosians (each in a spacesuit that supplied the gases they breathed), the only ones in space at the moment, and most of the Merosians who had ever been to space. There were many prominent leaders on board, several scientists and engineers working with the Kerbals, a few translators, and two of the first Merosian astronaut class. One Merosian country had an early space program which was on the cusp of manned spaceflight. However, their prototype space capsule had only flown once, unmanned, before it was evident that Meros was doomed. Both of the astronauts were ecstatic to be there.

Those thirty-eight Merosians, along with dozens of Kerbals including Jebediah Kerman, were on the observation deck of the Peace Rose, which featured an artificial gravity wheel system. The ship had been moved to a medium orbit in order to observe the Cetidra. Cetidra was a word that appeared in the Kersieik language, a prominent language on Meros, and showed up, slightly varied, in many other Merosian languages. It has no equivalent English word, but can be loosely translated as the opposite of an apocalypse. Jebediah took his place at the microphone in front of the group of Kerbals and Merosians, known as the Cetidra Assembly.

"You all know what we are here for, but I shall briefly explain once more, as the events of today will no doubt live on in history for millennia. There will be few Merosians who do not look back at this day." There was a murmur from the crowd.

"We currently orbit Meros, a world which has been devastated by incomplete knowledge of global systems, shortsighted thinking, and delayed or nonexistent action. Meros suffers from many perils, many small, and many seemingly insurmountably huge. Chief among them is the over-consumption of Meros's abundant supply of fossil fuels. Due to the pollutants causing a greenhouse effect, the surface temperature of Meros has rapidly risen. The high temperatures have created feedback loops all throughout Meros, on its surface, subsurface, and oceans, releasing more and more warming gases. The temperature of Meros has risen by over twenty degrees centigrade, causing uncountable side effects. Most crucially, as we speak the atmosphere is growing more and more toxic to Merosians, and is expected to be completely deadly in a handful of days."

"Once more as you all know, recently the Kerbals and the Merosians met by chance in this great cosmic void. We are doing everything in our power to help protect Meros and all life on it. As mentioned earlier, there are many problems facing Meros, but in order to fix them, we must first solve the temperature crisis and the atmospheric toxicity crisis. We debated on the best way to do this. Our main options were construction of a massive solar shield and the releasing of cooling gasses into the atmosphere, each followed by cleaning the atmosphere. Unfortunately, we have no idea what side effects these cooling gases will have on the environment, and we don't want to make the problem worse than it is. A giant sunshade will take too much time to build. We needed a measure to buy us time."

"So here we are today, the day of the Cetidra. A tremendous number of atomic explosives have been buried deep underneath the northern wastelands of Elkirdi. The surrounding area has been fully evacuated. In just a few minutes from now, those explosives will detonate with the force of many gigatons of TNT, propelling billions of tons of dust high into the atmosphere, forming a worldwide cloud layer. We have calculated that this dust will reflect the sunlight away from the planet and will act as a temporary sunshield until the real one can be built. This explosion will provide about 80 percent of the required cooling... As there is a large margin of error in our calculations, we don't want to risk overcooling the planet. After a few days several follow-up detonations will take place, further tuning the dust levels."

"Meros is expected to undergo a massive famine after today's events. Kerbin is working to produce as much food as possible for all of the species on Meros. Kerbin is also in the process of manufacturing enough protective gear for all Merosians, to protect against the dust, the radiation, and some of the more toxic atmospheric gases. All of this will be shipped to Meros on our rapidly expanding fleet of cargo ships. Initially, existing designs will be used, but in the next few weeks the design of the Meros class will be completed, designed specifically for this job, and in the coming months thousands will be built. We will construct a massive space station, Space Station Hope, near Meros where these ships will dock. There we will station several dozen, maybe even several hundred single stage to orbit spacecraft which will distribute the food and supplies all across Meros. It is this station to which the supplies for the massive sunshade will be brought. Construction will begin in the coming months."

"Today is not just the day we save the planet. Today is not just the day we learn from our mistakes, and to think ahead. Today is not just the day we forge a relationship between planets, setting a precedent I hope will span galaxies. Today, people of all worlds, is the day where we save billions of lives, present and future, each with their own journey, each with their own friends, family, love, regrets, hopes, mistakes, dreams, and with their own stories. Unique stories, never to be experienced by another being ever again. Stories as intricate and vast as your own. Stories that will be passed down throughout all time, inspiring others for as long as there is life! Life! Life and the stories, experiences, and memories thereof are the most precious things in the universe. Today, the day of the Cetidra, we will take back our stories! We will take back our life!"

The crowd cheered. Some of them were excited. Some of them were in tears. Many of them were nervous. Many of them were thankful. All of them were hopeful, even those who disagreed with the plan. They all knew that at this point, not much else could be done, and all they could hope for was the Cetidra, a shining beacon pushing back the darkness from which none had thought escape to be possible.

The primary detonation of the Cetidra was scheduled to happen in three minutes. A secure cart was wheeled out to the stage Jebediah stood on. It was positioned to his right, beside his podium and lectern. Jebediah took a drink from his water bottle and turned around to face the planet Meros. It would be years before this view would be available again, the dust would block it all out. Meros was so beautiful. The views were spectacular, of course, but the planet was many times more beautiful because of all of the souls who called it home. Thousands of star systems had been surveyed and yet Kerbin and Meros were the only two worlds so far to bear the gift of intelligent life. Both of those worlds had experienced major events that proved just how fragile and precious that life was, and what measures must be taken in order to protect it. Kerbin had been saved, and so would Meros.

A tear slid down Jebediah's cheek. He looked at the countdown clock projected onto the wall of the Peace Rose. Two minutes had passed, one remained. He opened up the case on top of the cart with a special combination. Inside, on the right, there were two columns of labeled lights, all of them green. On the left there were a few switches, a speaker, a phone, and an arming light. Jebediah moved several switches, and the arming light turned from red to yellow. He picked up the phone.

"This is ambassador Jebediah. Confirm, are we go for the Cetidra?"

"We are go."

"Confirm."

"Observational surface base is go."

"Monitor base - "

"OSB 2 is - "

"Confirm."

"Go."

" - Jebediah is - "

"The day of the Cetidra."

" - Take back life."

"Twenty."

"Cameras trained."

"Xernon high court preparing."

"Two billion viewers."

" - Is the new beginning - "

"Confirm!"

"Confirm!"

"Go."

"Yes."

"Magolarchui is ready."

"Confrim."

"Ten."

" - Sent confirmation of - "

"Nine."

"OSB-3, cameras - "

"Eight."

"We are all go."

"Seven."

"Jebediah Kerman, Meros is go!" One final green light lit up on the panel. The case beeped. In the middle of the control panel there was a cover which clicked as it unlocked. Underneath it was a red button, the button that the leaders of Meros had selected him to press. The button that would save billions of lives.

Jebediah looked behind him out towards Meros once more. He clenched the phone in his right fist, poising his left hand just over the button. For Meros. For hope. For joy. For stories.

Jebediah closed his eyes.

For life.

Three.

Two.

One.

 

==========

 

"Hello?" I asked to the empty, dim hallway. We had docked to the station's docking array and entered a few minutes ago. We had passed through the massive docking array tunnels and were now in a smaller hall, presumably leading to the center of the station. There was no sign of anyone so far. "Where is everyone?"

"Well, we just barely passed the docking array. We could still have quite a ways to go... The station was gigantic on the outside."

"Yet it was obviously incomplete."

"Yeah... I wonder why they abandoned it."

"The Species, maybe?" I asked.

"This hardware is way too old to have been built recently," she responded.

"True. There's so many docking ports here, huge docking ports! Why would they need so many?"

"Let's hope we can find out." We floated through the tunnels for several more minutes before coming up on a massive spherical module, mostly transparent, with walkways throughout, branching off into several spinning cylinders, only a few of which were spinning. Suspended in the middle of the sphere was a massive spinning decorative centerpiece, sort of like an atom but with a planet in the middle. We stood around taking it all in for several seconds, as it was the largest open volume of space we had ever been in, save for maybe one of the space elevator segments where a tower intersected the main rings.

"Hey, you! What are you doing here?" shouted a strange sounding voice from the center of the sphere.

"Oh. Hi!" Evelina responded, waving.

"We needed to wait for our spacecraft to cool down, and we were in the area, so we thought we would come here and take a look around."

"Oh. Well, the museum is technically open... We have not had any visitors for days now, we are shutting down the station temporarily for... Renovations."

"Renovations?"

"Yes. Renovations."

"Why bother? Who knows how soon The Species will be here?" I said. The man abruptly stood up and faced me with a harsh stare. He was tall, and pale yellow-green, with very skinny legs and a tall, well defined head. I would later learn that he was a Quiiiiizniuvo.

"How do you know of The Species? You are Kerbals!"

"Special clearance," Evelina responded. "We are helping, um, test equipment for the evacuation."

"Shh!" I harshly whispered to her.

"It's the truth!" she whispered back. "Or, was."

"It's secret!"

"Oh, okay," said the man at the desk. "Come here, we have much to talk about." We made our way down to the base of the sphere.

"What is the status of this station?" I asked, trying to sound like someone who had special clearance.

"We began replacing the Kerbal staff weeks ago and have been redirecting traffic away from most planets. Honestly, I think it is entirely unreasonable that Jebediah has not told the Kerbals yet. I mean, how can they not know? Do none of them have friends from the planets that have already been destroyed? I'm fairly sure many of them already know... But don't have the heart to tell anyone. Anyways... The renovations are a cover story. We are about to close down and evacuate completely. Are you two here to give the final order? There are only a few employees left here, and our ship has been ready for several days."

"No, that isn't our job."

"Roger. We are expecting to be relieved of command by Jebediah Kerman himself in the coming days. I was worried that The Species was closer than they seemed, and that they were to be here now..."

"Right. Seems interesting that Jeb would come here to relieve you."

"It's symbolic. He's here to relieve not just us, but primarily the planet and the station."

"Must be a really important station, then," I said.

"Um... Yes. A very important station."

"How important?"

"It is a monument to what could have been, a monument to the importance of forethought, a monument to the stories that we lost."

"...Interesting," said Evelina.

"And what exactly could have been?"

"This, of course," said the man as he gestured towards Meros.

"And what is exactly is this?" I asked.

"Meros?"

"Yes."

"Meros could have been."

"Could have been what?"

"It could have been saved."

"Saved from what?" I asked once more. The man looked at me in confusion, then disbelief.

"You really don't know?" he asked.

"No, I don't."

"You don't know about Meros? About what happened here?" You don't know about the events of the Cetidra?"

"Should we?"

"You are Kerbal! How can you not know?"

"We were homeschooled," said Evelina. "Sheltered childhood, you know. I guess it never really came up in conversation."

"You are Kerbals, with special clearance, even, and yet you lack even the most basic knowledge of the second greatest disaster ever to happen to Kerbalkind? Have you never observed Cetidra remembrance day?"

"Second greatest disaster?" I thought, but I pushed that thought aside.

"Look, I know," Evelina began, "We should know this stuff, but our lives have been very strange ones, and we have been... rather disconnected from Kerbal society for much of our lives."

"Still... The Cetidra... A Kerbal not knowing the Cetidra would be like a Ziquunodian not knowing the Great Interstellar War."

"Apologies," I said. "We are curious, however... What exactly did happen here?"

"Gixant," he spoke into a microphone, "Get over here. Yes, I know... We have visitors. Kerbals. Yes, I know. Kerbals... Kerbals who have never even heard of the Cetidra. I know. I cannot believe it either. Be here soon." He hung up. "Welcome to Space Station Hope, location of the museum of Meros. The Curator, my associate Gixant, will be here shortly to take you on a tour of the museum." He stood up and began taking us towards one of the massive spinning cylinders. "But in the meantime... I am not an expert, but I will begin the story as best as I can."

 

==========

 

The whole room stood in still silence as Ambassador Jebediah Kerman pressed the button.

A massive explosion erupted from the northern wastelands of Elkirdi, propelling an unfathomable amount of matter into the sky.

Jebediah Kerman felt incredibly relieved, although he didn't outwardly show it. It had worked. The bombs had went off.

Less than one second after the explosion, there was a bright flash in the middle of the explosion plume.

Jebediah barely had time to register that something was wrong.

The bright flash grew rapidly, expanding throughout the atmosphere of Meros, a tsunami of fire ripping up the continents as it went.

Jebediah dropped the phone.

The massive firestorm completely engulfed Meros in a matter of seconds, the inferno mercilessly crashing down upon the antipode of the northern wasteland of Elkirdi. The meeting of the blast waves produced a massive mountain of fire, kicking uncountable tons of debris up into space.

Some of the Merosians stood in shocked silence. Others screamed and cried. Some fainted. Some, in vain, ran towards the window.

Warning lights began flashing all over the ship. Sirens blared.

Massive metal shutters began to close over the windows.

"We need to get out of here now!" shouted a Kerbal. "The debris is going to hit us!"

"No!" shouted one of the Merosians, running towards the window as the shields closed.

"Muon and tachyon beds powering up. Attention all crew and passengers, vacate the gravity ring."

"We need to save them!" shouted that Merosian, banging on the glass. Two Kerbals rushed up to him and pulled him away from the window right as the enormous shutters closed off any view of Meros.

"Jebediah, what can - "

"Open it."

"Jebediah - "

"THAT IS AN ORDER!"

"Sir, the debris!"

"We will dodge it."

"Tachyon bed at full power. Preparing for impulse."

"Commander, take us to low orbit." The metal shutter began to open once more.

"Jebediah Kerman, we need to get out of there!"

"No. We need to get them out of there!"

"They are dead!"

"They can't be!"

"Look at that! The continents were ripped up and tossed into the sky! Tell me to my face that anyone could have survived that!" Jebediah fell to his knees in front of the massive window, one hand on the glass, one on the ground to his side. Several Merosians crowded the window. Meros was dim enough to look directly at now, though perhaps only because of the halo of rock surrounding the planet.

"Commander, low Meros orbit. That is an order."

"It would be suicide! Those rocks! And for what?"

"To fly a lander down to the surface and pick up survivors!"

"Jebediah Kerman, there is no surface!"

"No." Jebediah banged on the window with both fists, repeating his plea. "NO!"

"The Kereschimov Deep Heart," quickly said one of the two trained Merosian astronauts in deeply accented Kerbal.

"What?" asked Jebediah, turning to him.

"The doomsday vault built by the Sifik corporation." The Merosian spoke with a trembling, desperate voice. "It was built miles underground. Many miles! It could still be there!"

"How many people are down there?"

"It was designed for 1000 people. No telling how many are down there right now."

"Commander, prepare our biggest lander and take us to a hover above Meros, above the coordinates of the Deep Heart!"

"Jebediah, I cannot!"

"Why?"

"It is futile! Even assuming we can get to Low Orbit without dying, we still have to land, find the base, get in, and get out!"

"I can land anything!"

"No, Jebediah," shouted one of the Merosian leaders, "You've done quite enough already." Jebediah ignored him.

"How long can the crew of the Deep Heart survive?" asked Jebediah.

"Centuries," responded the astronaut.

"Jebediah, we can wait until the dust has settled."

"But," continued the astronaut, "Who knows what that kind of shockwave did to it. It could be nothing but bits. Or cracked, leaking air or on fire, with irreparably damaged life support systems!"

"Then we need to go now!" said Jebediah.

"You can't fly through that!" shouted the Commander.

"Yes I can!" A chunk of rock struck the ship. The lights flickered and everything shook. The artificial gravity wheel's emergency system activated, beginning to slowly return the room to zero g. The metal shields began to close more.

"No you can't!"

"Thirty minutes! In thirty minutes most of the rock will settle!"

"Prepare the ship!" said one of the Merosians. "We have thirty minutes! We need medics, climbers, climbing supplies, anything we can get ahold of!"

"I volunteer!" shouted one of the Merosian astronauts.

"I can climb!" shouted another. Several Kerbals and Merosians crowded around, volunteering.

"Then it's settled," said Jebediah.

"Jebediah - " said the commander.

"Commander, I beg of you - "

"Forty minutes."

"Deal. I will be the pilot."

"No, you won't!" shouted a Merosian.

"Yes I will. I am one of the best pilots known to Kerbalkind."

"But not to the Merosians."

"Overlord Tareaik, please - "

"We trusted you, Jebediah, to save us! And we are sure as the light of Tuun never going to trust you again!" The whole crowd of Merosians all looked at Jebediah, some sobbing, some still frozen, but most with relentless resentment, sorrow, and anger.

"Please, I swear, I didn't! I... I -  "

"You! Killed! Meros!"

"I... I..."

Another chunk of Meros impacted the Peace Rose, sending the ship into a spiral. The gravity wheel abruptly seized up with a scream, sending everyone inside abruptly to the side. As Jebediah fell he saw the planet Meros, a bright and shining beacon fueled by stories now forever lost, vanish once more beneath the metal shields of the Peace Rose.

Jebediah hit a wall hard and was knocked out.

 

==========

 

Evelina and I stood in horror as the Curator and the Receptionist finished the story.

"When Jebediah woke up, he was in the ship's onboard medical center. The crew of dozens had already left for the Kereschimov Deep Heart. On board the lander were many Kerbals, and twenty-six Merosians. The ship was piloted by Commander Sanfred Kerman. By some miracle they made it through the atmosphere intact, but there was no safe spot to land, as the surface was still extremely turbulent. While hovering above the surface, the ship was struck by a massive rock which had fallen back down from space. The lander was destroyed, and the remnants fell down to and were absorbed by the not quite molten, not quite solid surface of Meros."

Evelina and I were speechless.

"Eight of the remaining twelve Merosians, and two Kerbals, were killed nearly instantly when the gravity wheel seized up. The remaining four received critical injuries and were hospitalized. Two died within a few hours. The last two were rushed to Kerbin, kept alive over the multi day journey through what seemed like sheer willpower alone. One of them died during surgery on Kerbin. The other made a near complete recovery."

"What happened to him?"

"He was put into a large enclosure simulating the Merosian atmosphere and was provided with all of the amenities that could be provided. He killed himself a few days later." We stood in shock once more, unable to utter a single word for several seconds.

"That's... That's awful!"

"Truly one of the greatest tragedies ever to strike the galaxy."

"But..." I asked. "What happened? Planets don't just explode! Did they manage to fuse the atmosphere or something?"

"No. That would have been much worse. The Kerbals considered this in their calculations. What they did not consider, however, was the fact that there are two specific subsurface layers of Meros, one of nearly pure hydrocarbons, and one a layer of a rock with a high oxygen content, with a rather low oxygen disassociation energy requirement. The layers are separated by a relatively thin layer of fairly inert rock. Due to the scale of the detonation, large sections of the two layers were flung up into the air, and in the heat of the explosion, the mixture was set alight, propagating back down into Meros, the explosion crushing the layers in between. The explosion continued, radiating rapidly out from the epicenter, completely encircling Meros."

"How does a planet go that long without something like that being triggered by an asteroid impact?"

"Both layers were incredibly deep underground. It would have taken a massive asteroid to trigger it, so massive that it would have ended most life anyways. The detonation was incredibly deep in order to kick up as much dust as possible."

"Wow..." We stood around for a few seconds, still trying to take it all in.

"The Last Merosian kept a diary. In his last days he wrote for much of each day, about all manner of things. At times, especially near the end, he was barely coherent." Gixant, the Curator, gestured towards a glass enclosure. Inside was a stand with a very, very old book on it. It had markings on the front, which were not automatically translated.

"What does it say?"

"I do not read that language, but it is known to be a particular year in the Merosian calendar, suggesting that he had more diaries for previous years. Below that was his name, but it was scratched out."

"Oh."

"What was his name?"

"We don't know."

"You don't know?"

"He was an engineer who came along with one of the leaders. There wasn't much visitor documentation for the Peace Rose, so he fell under the radar... We only know some of the names, and the fact that 38 Merosians were on board. And, of course, the biggest source of Merosian documentation, Meros itself, was blown up. He wouldn't tell us his name, in fact went to great lengths to prevent us from ever knowing. To this day, he is known simply as The Last Merosian." I leaned in towards the glass surrounding the diary.

"And what about the Deep Heart?"

"Nobody could find it. It could have been completely crushed, and it was almost certainly damaged, probably beyond repair. If there were Merosians down there, they would have had no way of getting back up, not unless they could have tunneled through miles of ash and rock."

"What if it wasn't damaged and they are still down there?"

"This was over four hundred years ago."

"Oh."

"While it is theoretically possible they could still be alive, it is incredibly unlikely. In any event, we have tried time and time again to locate the Deep Heart, but we have had no luck, and now, we never will."

"But what about - " His communicator rang. He answered.

"Yes? Understood. Preparing." He pressed the button on the communicator. "Attention all beings in the Tuun system, as of this moment the museum is closed. Place the station into long term hibernation. We leave at the end of the day. Jebediah Kerman will arrive in a few minutes to formally decommission the system."

"So... That's it?"

"What?"

"The Species is coming, and is this the end of the story of Meros?"

"We know not what will become of Meros under Species control, but that is a very likely outcome," said the receptionist.

"The end of Meros, possibly," said the curator, "But the end of the story of the Merosians ended a long time ago." A communicator beeped again.

"Hello. Understood. Attention, there was a miscommunication. Jebediah Kerman is here right now and is heading to the museum wing." He put the communicator down again. "Unfortunately we have to ask you to leave, but if it is any consolation, you will have the opportunity to meet Jebediah Kerman himself in just a few minutes."

"Oh... Err... We would love to, but we already met him and - " Evelina cut me off.

"And we need to be on our way soon. I would imagine our ship is ready by now."

"Well, then. I wish you luck on your journey." He was about to say more, but then we heard footsteps from down one of the museum hallways. Evelina and I panicked.

"Bye!" she said, dragging me further down the hall and around the corner.

"The exit is that - Oh. Greetings, Representative - "

"Out," said Jebediah. "Turn cameras off. I shall not be bothered unless it is a matter of utmost importance."

"Understood." We heard two sets of footsteps walking rapidly away. Evelina and I stood just around the corner, trying to be as quiet as possible.

"He's here?" I thought. "Why now?" We stood there as still as possible for what felt like several minutes before I slowly crept to the edge of the corner and risked a peek around. Jebediah was standing there, facing the journal, his head lowered slightly, his hands held in front of him.

He said nothing for several more minutes.

"I'm sorry. I did it again. I swore I wouldn't. I swore I'd learn. But I pressed the button again. No sorry can undo or make up for that." He stood in silence once more. "I... I know nothing can make up for what I did, both recently and all of those centuries ago... I don't even know if it's worth it to try."

Jebediah hunched over and bawled, sobbing sentence fragments before giving up and curling up on the floor.

I turned away from the hall and tried to walk quietly down the hall we were in, trying to find a way out. Shortly into the journey I came across a window with a view of Meros.

I thought of all that had been lost. The lives, the loves, the stories...

 

The happiness.

 

The futures of all of the Merosians.

How, in the face of despair, they had been given hope, only to have it torn down in a matter of seconds.

But the original despair... Would the futures of the Merosians have contained much happiness at all either way?

 

 

 

I turned around, and there was an exhibit before me, the centerpiece of which was a large picture, a grainy, enlarged photograph of a rocket with a space capsule on top.

I skimmed the exhibit's text.

This was the only remaining photograph of the launch of the Starshot I, the culmination of the Merosian space program. It was a space capsule, fairly similar to the Mercury capsule. The Starshot I mission was the unmanned test flight of the capsule.

The first third of the exhibit was dedicated to what little was known about the early Merosian space programs and Starshot I.

The rest of the exhibit discussed Starshot II, which was drastically accelerated and modified following the realization that most Merosian life would soon die.

Starshot II was a last ditch attempt at saving the species, which when faced with overwhelming odds stopped being a serious attempt at survival and instead became an attempt at giving the Merosians hope for survival.

The plan was to launch a heavily modified Starshot capsule that could seat two, connected to a massive service module carrying months worth of life support. This would be docked to a habitation module, pre-positioned in orbit, and then the two spacecraft would dock to a transfer stage. The three modules would be launched by multi-core versions of the existing single core Starshot lifter.

The habitation module would launch first. The crew, one man and one woman, would launch second and dock to it. The transfer stage would launch third, and the crew would rendezvous with and dock to it, and then the whole stack would be sent away towards the next planet inward, Etrolah. The crew would re-enter while still on a hyperbolic trajectory, land, plant the many seeds they had brought with them, and attempt to restart Merosian civilization.

The Merosians had only ever launched a handful of satellites.

The single core launch vehicle had only flown a few times, and did not have the greatest track record.

There was no pads for anything beyond the three core version.

Some plans called for a lifter with eight cores.

Starshot was only designed for a short flight.

No Merosian had flown in space before.

No Merosian spacecraft had ever docked with another.

No Merosian spacecraft had ever re-entered that fast.

No Merosian spacecraft had ever flown by another planet, much less landed on one.

The life support systems had never been used operationally for a short flight, much less a months long flight.

By weight, the vast majority of the stuff launched on the mission would have never been tested operationally.

I could go on and on with all of the things that made this mission nearly hopeless, but here's the real kickers.

 

Nobody knew what Etrolah was like. All the Merosians knew was its size, distance from Tuun, its color, and that it had an atmosphere. The odds that it was habitable, well...

 

And if by some miracle,  if everything went perfectly, well... One could not rebuild a healthy population with the genetic diversity of only two people.

 

The mission was feasible on paper, but, in practice, all but impossible.

The first launch, carrying the habitation module, launched early on and exploded. The plan was changed. The trip would be done without the habitation module. Two people crammed into a space capsule for months that was already cramped with one person for a day.

A secretive country offered their unproven launch vehicle for a smaller version of the living module in exchange for being able to submit an astronaut for training. Not even for selection... Just for the slight chance of being selected. That launch nearly failed, but it placed the smaller version into orbit.

Both the capsule and the transfer stage were due to launch in mere days, almost at the last possible time, but then the Kerbals showed up.

 

 

 

 

Jebediah... Why do you blame yourself? It's not your fault! The Merosians were already sinking massive amounts of time and resources into a plan with less chance of success than betting on a dime landing on its edge! The best they had to offer was survival bunkers for the ultra rich, and Starshot II, which at best, was false hope, and at worst, was complete fraud.

And you think that a plan with the potential to save everyone that failed was worse?

There wasn't enough time to fully introduce the species to each other. How was there supposed to be enough time to think of every possible outcome, let alone how the rock layers would chemically interact with each other, of all things? 

Even if it was wrong to try to help, for some reason, the blame did not rest on one person. It rested partially on Kerbalkind, for the failed Cetidra, partially on the crew of the Peace Rose for allowing most of the remaining Merosians on board the lander, but above all on the Merosian leaders for allowing their planet to get like that in the first place.

 

All Jebediah did was press the button.

 

I heard Jebediah screaming and shouting. I only caught snippets, but he was begging the diary for forgiveness "one final time," and berating himself as if the diary had responded - about how he did not deserve it and never would, about how he couldn't ever fix what he had done, about how he could never been forgiven, about how he was a monster, and about how he killed them all, every last one. Nobody deserved to be thought of like that. Nobody deserved to hate themselves for trying to help.

 

I ran down the hallways to him. I nearly crashed into the walls when I changed directions. I was screaming internally. "Jebediah, please... This! Is! Not! Your! Fault! Would the Merosians have wanted you to go on hating yourself for trying to save them? Failing to save is not the intent to destroy!"

I ran past Evelina, a shocked expression on her face, reaching out for me, trying to stop me. I ran out into the hallway, towards Jebediah.

The far doors burst open. "Jebediah!" shouted the voice from beyond the door. Jebediah, curled up on the floor, shot up to his feet.

"I told you all to not bother me!" he shouted. The man behind the door jumped back.

"Oh, I'm sorry, Representative Jebediah!" he shouted.

Jebediah jumped back as well, and quickly regained his composure, although there was an unmistakable shadow of his former mood surrounding his words. In an instant all of the dark thoughts were shoved into a box in the back of his head, as far away from the present as he could get it. "I told you that I would prefer to not be disturbed."

"Representative - " Jebediah snapped. The box, not yet sealed, burst open once more.

"Stop calling me Representative! I have done nothing good to deserve that title! The only reason I got it is because I was in the right place at the right time, because I was in all of the wrong places at all of the wrong times! There are so, so many Kerbals who could represent the planet better than I can, but for some stupid reason, be it because I was one of the first astronauts, be it because I'm good at flying spaceships, be it because I saved space exploration, be it because I talk cool sometimes, be it because of all of the badassery I used to pull, or be it because I landed a moon, people want me in charge! I never wanted to be a politician! I was just relatable and notable, so they chose me as Ambassador, and next thing I know I have the blood of billions on my hands! This hand! This left hand! Right here! And then the Galactic Union shows up on our doorstep and, having forgotten how well the last time went, Kerbalkind chooses the only guy with significant interplanetary relations experience to talk to them! Before you know it, I'm right here, in charge of a planet full of overly optimistic dreamers and overly violent fools, trying to run a test that will determine the fate of a billions, trying to forget about a planet of billions I barely knew, trying to find some hope that we can save some of them, even just one of them, from The Species!" The man behind the door was staring, wide eyed at the outburst he had just witnessed.

"Jebediah Kerman... I'm sorry."

"No. I am. I... I shouldn't have said that. I'm sorry. When I am here I often become... too emotional..." He took a deep breath, attempting to regain his composure once more.

"Jebediah, Species scouts have been spotted two light years away." Jebediah didn't swear very often. In fact, Kerbals in general didn't swear very often. This was one of those rare times.

"Evacuate immediately. Don't bother with hibernation mode. Don't bother with the ceremony. Get everyone out of here."

"Understood." He ran back out from the door.

Jebediah faced the exhibit with the diary one last time and saluted.

"For what it's worth... " He said sadly. He stumbled on his next words, searching for but never finding them. He clenched his fists and turned away in rage, harshly speedwalking out of the door. Then, the warning lights and sirens started going off. He broke into a run.

I was still at the other end of the hallway, frozen, very surprised that I hadn't been seen.

"Ethan, what were you doing? You're crazy!" Evelina shouted at me.

"It wasn't his fault!" I shouted back. "He's drowning in guilt!"

"We could have been discovered! The plan would have been for nothing, and he would never trust us again!"

"I'm supposed to let him live with that guilt? I'm supposed to let him live full of self hatred?"

"You can try to console him after we've tried to save the galaxy!"

"We don't even have a plan to save the galaxy! We are planning on showing up, expecting our presence to magically save everyone! If we weren't sure that The Species were watching us before, they sure are now! Another chance meeting with Jebediah? Our ship just happening to overheat right near the site of his biggest regret? How I didn't get seen just then? The Species attacking right now? Our odds for success are worse than the odds Meros had before the Kerbals showed up!"

"That doesn't mean we can't try! A one in a billion chance is better than zero!"

"And what if we show up with the best of intentions, try to help, and make everything worse, like the Kerbals did with Meros?"

"Then like with Meros, it wouldn't be our fault."

I glared at her trying to think of a comeback.

"I... I..."

"Ethan... The Species is trying to get in our heads. Trying to manipulate us, trying to control us with all of these emotional barrages. It's all a mind game. Don't let them in. Don't let them get what they want. Don't you dare." She pulled me into a hug. I hugged back and began to cry.

"Warning. Enemies directly inbound. Evacuate immediately."

"No time for this now," she said, breaking away from me and running for the door. I ran right behind her, before coming to a halt and running back. "What are you doing?" she shouted.

"Get to the ship! I'll catch up with you!" I went back down that hallway. The main lights had gone out, and it was now just the red emergency lights. I made my way back to the exhibit.

"For what it's worth," I said. I pulled my arm back, shouted, and punched the glass as hard as I could. "OWWW!!!" I screamed in pain. My fist bounced off, the glass not giving one bit. While clutching my hand in pain, I noticed that the exhibit had a sliding door. It wasn't even locked. If times were not so dire I would have rolled my eyes. I slid the door open and grabbed the diary of The Last Merosian and ran as fast as I could to the exit.

I ran through the museum entrance, and out into the massive glass sphere, where there was no gravity. I pushed myself as fast as I could along the handrails. It seemed like it took forever, but I eventually crossed it and entered the hallways that lead to the docking array. I then realized that I forgot where we were docked. My heart sunk. I checked several different areas, but the Abracadabra! was nowhere to be found. But then, I rounded a corner and saw Evelina  floating there.

"Where were you?" she demanded. I held up the diary in response, running towards her.

"You went back for the book?"

"It's more than a book, it's the last story of a planet."

"They undoubtedly have it digitized."

"Uh... True." To be honest, I hadn't thought of that. She hurried down into the docking tunnel and climbed into the back seat of the Abracadabra! I followed closely behind, taking the front seat. I quickly undocked and tried to put as much distance between us and the station as possible. "Where to?" I asked.

"Away from The Species."

"We don't even know which way they are coming from!"

"Educated guess. Kerbin is still intact... So is Illasticonia... Probably... And the center of the galaxy... What other planets were mentioned?"

"Quiiiizzno... something. Wherever the receptionist was from!"

"I don't know how to spell it so I can't find it.The ones we know all form a straight line, more or less, and we are on it. Either side could be controlled by The Species. We will have to guess."

"Roger that. Pick a random direction."

"No, you pick."

"No, you."

"Ethan, you pick."

"Fine. Mostly forwards but a bit right, relative to our departure from Kerbin."

"I'm finding a route now."

"The ship's engine has cooled down and is ready to go."

"Wait."

"What?"

"Assuming The Species' front is a straight line, and that Illasticonia, Meros, and the Council Chamber are all fairly close to being attacked... Kerbin must be too."

"Well then," I said, taking a deep breath and taking one last look at Meros, "We need to go."

"We must." Guidance information for our next star appeared on my screen. I saluted Meros. I began whispering.

"Meros, I swear... For what it's worth... I hope we can learn from you, so that something like this will never, ever, ever happen again. I will try my best to save as many as I can, no matter the odds." I looked back at Evelina, wondering if an Abracadabra was appropriate or not. She returned my gaze.

 

"For Meros!"

 

uKTK4Cw.jpg

And off we went, hurtling towards a New Cetidra. Only time would tell if it would be fated to the same ending as the first.

 

 

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(1) Oxygen is highly reactive and likes to stay in minerals, which is why Mars has no O2 in its atmosphere (but we do, because the trees we are cutting down photosynthesise CO2 -> O2). Therefore the

(2) Hydrocarbons are only found in nature. There are specific circumstances required for animals and plants to change into (a) fossils, (b) coal, (c) natural gas or (d) oil. Therefore the existence of an entire subsurface layer of hydrocarbons is highly implausible and indicates a mass extinction several Ma ago which caused death of living things, over the entire world, in conditions conducive to fossilisation (for want of a better word).

(3) The melting points of most rocks is around 1000 deg C, which is the temp. of fires. Even assuming that the two layers meet in one place, they may not produce enough heat to melt the layer between them. If it is a very thin layer, then why did the heat of Meros' core not melt it, causing this earlier? Even if this does create enough heat to continue the reaction melting all around the world, the depth of this, and the high SHC of most rocks, would have probably prevented the heat to have melted the surface.

(4) The mass extinction hypothesised above, as the only likely explanation for such large hydrocarbon deposits in one place, must have wiped out most life on Meros. This means that it must have taken a very long time to regenerate sufficient life for a flourishing ecosystem containing millions of large and complex creatures such as Merosians, and the fact that they did not know about it indicates that it is very deep. This is supported by the rates of rock formation (i.e. the Deccan Traps, volcanoes which began 66Ma ago (coincidence?) are now 2km thick) and would prevent the rocks from being melted to the surface.

(4.1) Also, it literally says "incredibly deep" in the story. The temperatures generated by the volume of hydrocarbon that would be created if we all died today is not enough to melt through kilometers of rock.

(5) Vulcanism and plate tectonics means that at certain points around the world, these hydrocarbons will continuously be in contact with the immense heat of plate tectonics, and, due to the fact that magma includes dissolved gases, O2 as well. Why have they not already been set alight? What about previous asteroid impacts or earthquakes, which are actually quite frequent?

(6) The massive SHC of rocks is indicated by the fact that lava flows never melt rock beneath (although they can cause metamorphism, which as you know is due to high heat and temperature), and that it can take hundreds to thousands of years for underground magma to cool.

(7) In conclusion, that explanation for the destruction of Meros is nearly impossible, and having sorted that out, I can go and believe that they are all alive and lived as happily as we can expect ever after.

Sorry for going overly scientific on you. It's my response method to major tragedy in sci-fi. Also, with the movie thing that has been proposed, if I can help in any way...

Edited by fulgur
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5 minutes ago, fulgur said:

Sorry for going overly scientific on you.

The way you went "overly scientific" implies you think Ultimate Steve should have done more research, whereas he has a very busy life outside of the forums, just like any human. The way you phrased this all (especially 7) seemed a little offensive, and I think it could have been handled a bit better.

6 minutes ago, fulgur said:

Also, with the movie thing that has been proposed, if I can help in any way...

@Ultimate Steve will set up a casting topic at some point in time before the 15th of January. Once that's up, he'll start accepting new cast members.

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30 minutes ago, LittleBitMore said:

The way you went "overly scientific" implies you think Ultimate Steve should have done more research, whereas he has a very busy life outside of the forums, just like any human. The way you phrased this all (especially 7) seemed a little offensive, and I think it could have been handled a bit better.

I didn't mean that and have now rephrased (7). What I meant was that I find the story of Meros very sad and so attempted to prove that it could not happen in real life, because it is impossible and Michael Bay-esque, and that is what I usually do if I come across some sad or slightly-implausible thing in sci-fi. And I don't expect him to go and get a qualification in Geology and spend hours hammering it into his brain with a geological hammer for the exams, because only a fool™ like me would pick it for GCSE.
I hope replacing the accidental offence with purposeful self-deprecating jokes is acceptable.

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52 minutes ago, fulgur said:

 

(7) In conclusion, that explanation for the destruction of Meros is nearly impossible, and having sorted that out, I can go and believe that they are all alive and lived as happily as we can expect ever after.

Sorry for going overly scientific on you. It's my response method to major tragedy in sci-fi. Also, with the movie thing that has been proposed, if I can help in any way...

 

44 minutes ago, LittleBitMore said:

The way you went "overly scientific" implies you think Ultimate Steve should have done more research, whereas he has a very busy life outside of the forums, just like any human. The way you phrased this all (especially 7) seemed a little offensive, and I think it could have been handled a bit better.

 

15 minutes ago, fulgur said:

I didn't mean that and have now rephrased (7). What I meant was that I find the story of Meros very sad and so attempted to prove that it could not happen in real life, because it is impossible and Michael Bay-esque, and that is what I usually do if I come across some sad or slightly-implausible thing in sci-fi. And I don't expect him to go and get a qualification in Geology and spend hours hammering it into his brain with a geological hammer for the exams, because only a fool™ like me would pick it for GCSE.
I hope replacing the accidental offence with purposeful self-deprecating jokes is acceptable.

Thank you for your words, I will definitely not take it as an offence and I admit I am definitely by no means a geologist!

I will take your words into account, though, thank you for pointing out some of the stuff that was wrong with the explanation. I admit and will never deny that the explanation was definitely not a very good one, but I needed something that would abruptly and dramatically end Meros accidentally. I will try to use this feedback to create a more realistic scenario.

I intend to either fix the current Cetidra in the revision (if possible) or replace it with something else once I have figured out how to make it more believable while also maintaining the dramatic pacing. I could also take the route of "It was all or partly an illusion by The Species and it only had to be believable enough for Ethan and Evelina to get the needed emotional response to set up something else down the line" which I hadn't considered before but actually seems interestingly appealing now...

I would also like to say that there is a lot of other information about Meros inside my head that didn't make it into the story because it would have turned an already long chapter into an even longer chapter, and some of it may help with believability.

So the current Cetidra sequence is definitely not super realistic, but I will try to defend it at least a little with that omitted information.

 

There are 2 parts and summaries at the end of each if you want to skip to the summaries.

 

 

59 minutes ago, fulgur said:

(1) Oxygen is highly reactive and likes to stay in minerals, which is why Mars has no O2 in its atmosphere (but we do, because the trees we are cutting down photosynthesise CO2 -> O2). Therefore the

(2) Hydrocarbons are only found in nature. There are specific circumstances required for animals and plants to change into (a) fossils, (b) coal, (c) natural gas or (d) oil. Therefore the existence of an entire subsurface layer of hydrocarbons is highly implausible and indicates a mass extinction several Ma ago which caused death of living things, over the entire world, in conditions conducive to fossilisation (for want of a better word).

Part 1, reasons why Meros may have a massive hydrocarbon layer

I admit I put very little thought into what would create a uniform worldwide layer. As you said, a mass extinction around the world in just the right way to make a uniform layer would be incredibly unlikely, especially given that Meros has been said to have both land and oceans.

Edge case: Meros could have an underground populated or once populated by microbes living off of heat or minerals producing methane or something else as a byproduct, but this also requires a similar rock layer around the world although this is more likely than a worldwide mass extinction. I just thought of this and there are doubtless many problems with this so don't take this as fact. Especially the heat part, as you mentioned heat is already really problematic in this system.

We have mostly eliminated life as a source for the layer, so maybe we can turn to chemical means. There is a real world example for a world having a lot of Methane with no known life (although life is possible): Titan, although this is admittedly atmospheric and surface methane rather than subsurface deposits of ambiguous "hydrocarbons." Titan also doesn't have oxygen (at least not a lot of it) so that does pose a problem... There are many theories as for where this methane came from, but one theory is that it outgassed from way below the surface, having been made through radioactive processes near the core, meaning that some of it was/is below the surface, just not in a uniform layer. If there was a gas-tight layer of rock then during the outgassing it could have gotten trapped below it in a porous rock layer, instead of reaching the atmosphere, I guess... But this would mean that there can't be a significantly large way up to the surface otherwise it would all leak out, and it would also require worldwide rock layers. Uniform worldwide rock layers are also unlikely, but more likely than a uniform hydrocarbon layer caused by a mass-extinction. Maybe Meros has a mostly uniform rocky body with only small bodies of water breaking up the uniformity.

 

Summary: Meros's hydrocarbon layer is not very realistic, and pretty much impossible when considering a mass extinction. However, the outgassing theory might bring it into the realm of improbability instead of impossibility. There is probably some combination of factors that could make the formation of such a layer possible. Due to the size of the universe, if it is possible at all it will probably happen somewhere. If I decide on this theory I will need to slightly modify the story.

Side note 1: I'm far from an expert on Titan.

Side note 2: I played around with the idea of Meros having a methane atmosphere, negating the need for a gas-tight layer, but then they would have to have oxygen deposits in order to burn the methane, and a large oxygenated layer in order for the explosion, and I think the exhaust from methane is way less of a potent greenhouse gas than methane itself, so the climate change story completely falls apart when considering this.

1 hour ago, fulgur said:

(3) The melting points of most rocks is around 1000 deg C, which is the temp. of fires. Even assuming that the two layers meet in one place, they may not produce enough heat to melt the layer between them. If it is a very thin layer, then why did the heat of Meros' core not melt it, causing this earlier? Even if this does create enough heat to continue the reaction melting all around the world, the depth of this, and the high SHC of most rocks, would have probably prevented the heat to have melted the surface.

 

1 hour ago, fulgur said:

 

(4) The mass extinction hypothesised above, as the only likely explanation for such large hydrocarbon deposits in one place, must have wiped out most life on Meros. This means that it must have taken a very long time to regenerate sufficient life for a flourishing ecosystem containing millions of large and complex creatures such as Merosians, and the fact that they did not know about it indicates that it is very deep. This is supported by the rates of rock formation (i.e. the Deccan Traps, volcanoes which began 66Ma ago (coincidence?) are now 2km thick) and would prevent the rocks from being melted to the surface.

(4.1) Also, it literally says "incredibly deep" in the story. The temperatures generated by the volume of hydrocarbon that would be created if we all died today is not enough to melt through kilometers of rock.

 

2 hours ago, fulgur said:

 

(5) Vulcanism and plate tectonics means that at certain points around the world, these hydrocarbons will continuously be in contact with the immense heat of plate tectonics, and, due to the fact that magma includes dissolved gases, O2 as well. Why have they not already been set alight? What about previous asteroid impacts or earthquakes, which are actually quite frequent?

Part 2, the thickness and depth of the layers, and premature detonation

I made a mistake saying the layers were incredibly deep. I don't want to put a number on the depth because again I am not a geologist, but I think I most likely overstated the depth. There is a fairly simple explanation for the Merosians not knowing about the layer.

Meros in my head is like Titan's levels of fuel but taken to the extreme. On Meros there is a massive amount near (but not on) the surface (not enough to start a world ending explosion), which is the supply that the Merosians used to fuel all of their stuff. The near surface reserves, which would have been sporadic like Earth's, actually caused by dying stuff, would have held way more fuel than Earth's do. They had enough fuel near the surface to last for a long time, it was not really beneficial to explore mining deeper, for fuel, at least... Mining for other stuff, maybe... That is something I have no explanation for. Maybe it wouldn't have been economical to exploit the layer even if they knew of it, because of all the near-surface reserves.

If we're going with the Titan-esque, theory, maybe the near surface reserves are mostly oil and coal, and the deeper stuff is methane, and their energy grid is not set up for methane.

This is also part of the reason Climate was such a huge problem, with all of the fuel available they would have ramped up usage early, and would have used it abundantly without much care for efficiency, hence why they are having climate problems despite being at somewhere around 40-s to 60-s technology depending on what you're measuring by. I also consider Meros to be a much more fragile world climate-wise than Earth.

In addition, depending on the depth of the layer and mineral availability at the surface, it is possible that the only holes deep enough to reach the layer would have been the entrance to the Deep Heart and the Cetidra Detonation holes, all of which were focused mostly on speed and payed little to no attention to the geology of the surrounding rock beyond what it would take to get through it, and in the case of the Cetidra, how good it would work at blocking the sun.

Focusing on how long it would have taken the layer to reach that depth, I have no idea how fast new rock is piled on top of old rock, but I think it happens at different rates on Earth and if we go interplanetary it is probably even more varied. I know nothing on this and there could be a real problem here, but if we don't go with the mass extinction model then it isn't a problem at all because the layer could have formed at a different time...

Side note: as I type I am starting to like the Titan-esque theory way more than the Extinction theory but I will continue to address both.

As for the layer separating the two layers, the Cetidra detonations don't so much melt it as they do pulverize it and kick debris from the layers into the air, where it mixes and reacts. Once the reaction had started it had enough energy to expand outwards, crushing the layer as it went, allowing for more mixing and reacting, etc.

The problem now is, as you said, the layer in between melting or getting disturbed allowing for the rocks to mix, or in the Titan theory, allowing for the methane to leak out. As the layer isn't deep enough to experience high temperatures, melting by the core wouldn't really be an issue. As for the explosion reaching the surface and killing everything, again, the layer may not be as deep as originally thought.

THOUGHT: Another interesting theory is that the Cetidra detonations cracked the surface enough to release the methane, which mixed with the oxygen atmosphere and burned the surface, but this would be a local event that wouldn't kill everyone, unless it used up all of the oxygen, leaving the Merosians unable to breathe... The atmosphere was already close to toxic and this would have put it over the edge. But this is just a thought experiment and has nothing to do with the other two theories, and it wouldn't be nearly instant. It would also leave people in shelters like the Deep Heart alive. IDK if I mentioned it in the story but on Meros the rich were building shelters, mostly on the surface, and stockpiling energy and oxygen so they could survive.

/end thought

The issues left in this part are (1) the explosion of the layer not being enough to make it to the surface, and (2) something not causing an early detonation.

1 is a major issue depending on the depth of the layers, which can't be too shallow that:

A. The rock on top of it could have been eroded, exposing it

B. An asteroid could have hit early and started the detonation (also plays into 2)

C. It was discovered and accidentally mixed and detonated (the explanation also plays into 2)

Whether the explosion will significantly disturb the surface is critical to the entire Cetidra. I am not very well versed in explosives, but I'd imagine we want the layer as shallow as possible while still avoiding A B or C to give the explosion the greatest chance of reaching the surface. Also, as with the in-between layer, I tend to imagine that this layer wasn't melted, but mechanically fractured to the point of destruction by the blast.

A, well, maybe Meros doesn't get a lot of erosion, despite Merosian rhyming with Erosion. It's another planet, and we really only have one data point as to how geological processes work.

B, this also plays into 2 as said before, Jupiter is theorized to, in effect, shield Earth from long period comets and some asteroids with its massive gravity well. It is possible that Meros has a gas giant or gas giants nearby providing the same effect but perhaps at a larger scale.

C is a bit more difficult to explain, as it is known that the layers were breached at least twice (once for the Deep Heart and at least once for the Cetidra, it could have been one hole that branched out or several holes) without a detonation. The assumption that both layers could have mixed during this and may have been fairly easy to ignite. I mentioned that the rocks in the oxygenated layer require lots of energy to release their oxygen in the first place (didn't think this one out either, brings up more problems, but in this case it might save me) so it should require a large trigger event to cause a detonation, something like a huge asteroid impact, or the Cetidra. Small fires or maybe smaller earthquakes or volcanic events would not be enough to trigger it. If the setup is right, the layers would kind of be like C4, hard to detonate without the right conditions, but very powerful if detonated correctly. This should also explain the rest of 2.

 

Big important part:

Now, as for plate tectonics and volcanoes, those big enough to trigger the Cetidra, it is known that Meros has no supervolcanoes, I believe I mentioned it in the story. Otherwise, the Kerbals would have attempted to blow up a supervolcano to block the sun out. Earth has several supervolcanoes, which implies that Meros has a much lower level of volcanic activity than Earth does, and possibly by association a much lower level of tectonic activity. The effects of not being very tectonically active go beyond just eliminating triggers for the Cetidra, they also allow for higher chances of a worldwide rock layer staying together over time and not developing massive gaps which would cause mixing, leaking, or detonation. I'm not a geologist, but if I understand correctly, lower tectonic activity allows for a more uniform surface, allowing for higher chances of a worldwide rock layer forming in the first place.

 

Messing with tectonic activity could affect how life forms and evolves, given some of the theories that a reliable heat source helps with the formation of life, but we have a grand total of one data point on this topic so I'm just going to leave it as "It's possible it had minimal impact"

 

Summary: I greatly overstated the depth of the layers. They are higher up, meaning that melting of the in-between layer by the planet's heat shouldn't be an issue, and also that the explosive energy needed to destroy the surface shouldn't be *as* much of an issue, although admittedly it is still an issue. The in between layer would be pulverized instead of melted, as would the surface layer, although definitely not to the extent that the in between layer would have been. How quickly the layers are covered up by new layers and how this plays into timeframes, well, this shouldn't be much of an issue as Meros's rock layers could be forming at a wide range of speeds and isn't too constrained by what we see on Earth. The chances of premature detonation, especially with the rock layers so high up in this revision, can be explained by the idea that the detonation would take a high energy event to start (AKA Cetidra or impact) (explained by the energy levels needed to get usable oxygen out of the oxygenated rock) and then minimizing the probabilities of those said high energy events happening. The most notable of those fixes are gas giants shielding Meros from comets and asteroids, and the low levels of tectonic and volcanic activities preventing volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and hot spots from detonating the planet. The reduced tectonic activity *probably* increases the chances of worldwide rock layers forming and staying maintaining a good enough seal between the fuel and oxidizer layers over time. With the high energy threshold, the issue of tunneling into the layers causing a detonation is also mostly solved.

Note 1: I should have split this up into two parts, the second one for vulcanism/tectonics and the first for everything else in this part.

 

2 hours ago, fulgur said:

(6) The massive SHC of rocks is indicated by the fact that lava flows never melt rock beneath (although they can cause metamorphism, which as you know is due to high heat and temperature), and that it can take hundreds to thousands of years for underground magma to cool.

Specific Heat Capacity is an important part of the picture when you involve melting stuff. Again I'm not entirely sure what real world physics and calculations would do to this assumption, but I assumed that the rock layers would be cracked and pulverized to destruction rather than melted to destruction.

I think the only part where I specifically mentioned melting was that the surface was slightly molten afterwards but also in retrospect this was overstated and may have given the false impression that the whole surface layer melted. I think there would be some molten areas given the power of the explosion, but definitely not the whole planet. Again, not an expert, but you have definitely brought to my attention that the amount of lava hanging around should be much lower, likely only sporadic.

 

3 hours ago, fulgur said:

 

(7) In conclusion, that explanation for the destruction of Meros is nearly impossible, and having sorted that out, I can go and believe that they are all alive and lived as happily as we can expect ever after.

Sorry for going overly scientific on you. It's my response method to major tragedy in sci-fi. Also, with the movie thing that has been proposed, if I can help in any way...

Thank you for calling to my attention some of the more major issues. As for the happily ever after part... We will see.

Movie/series thing: The current status is that we are trying to get a crew together to make a short test segment to see how feasible the whole project is and to see what will work and what won't before committing to the whole thing.

 

The biggest remaining problem in my opinion is how the necessary layers formed in the first place, but I'm liking the Titan-esque theory although it is still incomplete. If I get it to a point where I am satisfied with it and the issues with it are gone, I'll retcon it into the story.

 

A final note, the events of the Cetidra are likely still full of holes, and it is incredibly unlikely, but for story purposes, I just need it to be "not impossible." I hope that this explanation has brought it from "impossible" up to "improbable." More discussion about this is okay but I don't plan on dwelling too long on it. If I can get an overarching set of conditions that seem like they could work, then I'll stick with those and not elaborate further because beyond a certain point I have no idea what I'm talking about and I am beyond certain I will never come up with a perfect, detailed explanation so I will settle for a fairly believable rough overview.

 

Wow that's a big wall of text.

 

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Decidedly, since everyone else is talking about sciencey things, I'm going to Pretend I Know What I'm Talking About When Really I Don'tTM and share some small thoughts on the situation.

10 minutes ago, Ultimate Steve said:

B. An asteroid could have hit early and started the detonation (also plays into 2)

Suppose Meros might have moons. These would deflect and protect against most asteroids. Heck, Meros could be a Pluto-Charon situation: has a moon that's arguably a binary planet with Meros. Extreme asteroid protection.

After a lot of searching through the thing, nothing I can accurately talk about, so leaving it at that.

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I like the Titan theory too since it's very plausible. On my scale of sci-fi disasters, where 1 is 'Long Earth Yellowstone', 5 is the Doctor and 10 is 'mumble mumble asteroid mumble mumble dinosaur mumble mumble' Meros was about a 4 and is now a 2.

The oxygen for this could come from several sources actually, such as dissolved gases in volcanic vents (least likely as you said Meros was an old planet which had already mostly cooled), the layer of oxygen-rich rock, which is unlikely but possible as oxygen is very reactive, and silicon dioxide, aka quartz (very common mineral), has a high temp. required for thermal decomposition. Still don't know about the depth of this layer and whether it could melt enough rock to cause that; in areas where the crust is very thin on Earth, there is no continual apocalypse, but of course that isn't all the world at once, with unpredictable currents...

The last problem is that the oxygen would probably be exposed to the atmosphere in some places, to be ignited by stuff like electric storms, which might or might not be continuous and have caused this already.

Also liquid and gaseous methane co-existing would mean that Meros was very far from the sun and it would take a while longer for global warming to be an Australia-level problem, but poisoning the atmosphere would still be equally easy.

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