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


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  • 2 months later...

 

Chapter Seventeen - The Final Ring

 

Spoiler

I set down my Kpad (used as a journal) and went up the ladder to the top of the elevator pod. At this point we were in zero gravity mode, as we were free-falling towards the top of the elevator track… It’s a bit confusing to explain, but for the first bit of the journey, we accelerate at a few G forces for a few minutes to build up velocity, and then we stick to 1g for a bit, and then we’re in free fall for the better part of an hour, letting gravity slow us down.

However, we’re also being confined to the tower, which is moving sideways relative to a straight up and down trajectory, so there’s some gravitational weirdness there, but it’s mostly unnoticeable. As we’re coasting to geostationary orbit, or kerbostationary orbit as it may be called, there is less and less acceleration due to gravity, so we have to sit on the ceiling for the last bit, accelerating at 1-2 g forces, to prevent us from just shooting on by the end of the elevator shaft. Don't worry, the elevator is designed for that.

If the tower went up further than that, we’d be flung out by centrifugal force rather than pulled in by gravity. Jeb told me that there is in fact a giant counterweight but nothing goes there, it’s just a giant cable attached to an asteroid or something. You could, in theory, visit it by climbing the cable, but there are very few vehicles that can climb it. Those were the old cable climber cars used during construction and for the occasional maintenance project. In the past decade, they had only been used for routine inspections and for the occasional tourist visit.

But I’m getting off topic. I went up the ladder to the top dome of the elevator car. It was a nice change of scenery, the bottom dome was locked because of some pressure concerns (which would be addressed after it reached the top, where it could be worked on without the threat of falling all the way back to Kerbin), and the middle section was mostly filled with people interviewing or interrogating Jebediah.

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Aaah, off topic again. So there was a ladder, and I went up… But up is relative as first off, we’re in space, and second we’re in a pod that changes gravitational direction once every trip.

And, that’s another off topic statement. So is this one. And this one. And yeah I’ll stop now, I promise.

The top dome had only a few Kerbals in it, there were two older ladies chatting, and a guy reading something on his tablet with headphones in. All three were belted into their chairs as we were in zero-gee.

So, magnetic boots. You see them in old sci-fi movies, and they’re impractical for walking because they stick, but Kerbals found a way to computer control them so they can more accurately simulate walking.

No, for real. That was the last time, I swear.

And in that dome, stuck to the base of the cabin by her magnetic boots, disguised as a Kerbal, was Evelina, looking down over Kerbin. I took a breath, counted to three, and walked up to her side, immediately forgetting the things that I had rehearsed in my head for the past fifteen minutes.

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“Hi,” I said, my voice only squeaking a little bit. She did not respond. She was still keeping her eyes fixed on what little bit of Kerbin we could still see at this point. As far as trying to find out what I was supposed to say, well... I probably stood there with my mouth wide open, my mind drawing a blank for several seconds.

"So, uh... About the, uh, events of the, I mean, on the VAB roof..." She continued staring out into space, signaling that she probably didn't want anything to do with me at that point.

"Uhh..." I started again. "This is going to sound much better in my head, just to let you know... What you said back on the VAB, about not wanting to jeopardize a friendship for the sake of a relationship... I just wanted you to know that I totally agree with you on that, and what you said about maybe liking me but also thinking of me as a great friend and not wanting that to get in the way of that and, well, you know. I share those same feelings. About staying friends, I mean. Especially given what's going on, you know, with the probable end of the world and stuff."

*crickets*

"So basically, what I'm saying is, you don't have to feel weird or awkward about this or anything, not unless you want to be mad at me... And I think you're probably not mad at me... Are you mad at me? Are you mad at yourself?"

No sound except for the muffled conversation between Jebediah and the rest of the Kerbals on the elevator, a few floors down. I turned towards her and got a little bit closer for the next part.

"Come on, Evelina, you've got to give me something here, I'm about to - "

"Oh, hi, Ethan," she said as she turned her head to face me. "Sorry, I had my earbuds in, what were you saying?"

 

 

Cue internal screaming

 

 

"Oh, uhh..."

"I'm going to guess you were going to talk about the VAB."

"Well, technically I already did talk about it."

"How long were you standing there?"

"Long enough to say the whole thing."

"Oh. Oh!" She started giggling a little. "You went through your whole mentally prepared speech without checking to see if I was listening?"

"Well, um, yes."

"Yeah, sorry, I was really distracted. I mean, I'm in space! We're experiencing with Kerbin what only 24 people have experienced with Earth!"

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"Right. Space. So, uhh..."

"And you've probably been thinking about this conversation as much as I have, so let's get it over with. Go ahead, say what you want to say."

"Well, Evelina," I began, "Everything you said on the VAB, both about relationships and friendships in general, as well as your feelings towards me, I agree with. You're an amazing person and I feel like we could work either way, but given the, uhh... straining... circumstances, I think we should continue being friends. I mean, um, at least for now, maybe." Internally, half of me was relieved that I had gotten it out, but the other half of me tensed in anticipation of her response, so my overall stress level remained the same. And my entire mind was screaming "WHY IN THE WORLD DID I ADD THAT LAST SENTENCE?!?!?!?"

"Alright," she responded. I waited for more. After a few seconds I didn't think it would come.

"Alright? That's all?"

"Does there have to be more?" she chuckled. "Introducing artificial awkwardness into the situation won't make it any better... What little there is is already too much. You agree with me, I agree with you, what more is there to it? So, are we cool?" She held out her hand.

"We're cool." I reached out with the idea of a handshake in mind, but instead she yanked me off of my feet twisted me around so I was spinning very fast in the air. "AH!" I yelped. She laughed. In a good way, though. After a second or two I grabbed onto something and managed to stop spinning.

"Interesting fact, the very edge of the floor is not magnetic," she said with a slight smile.

"Wait, wait, something just occurred to me..." I began. "Would playing "The floor is lava" be more or less entertaining on a spaceship?" She stopped for a second and thought a bit.

"That's really interesting, actually. It would be easier to stay off the floor but what if you made the ceiling lava, as well? Or maybe everything except objects of a specific color?"

"I mean, we could try it," I suggested. "We are in a spaceship."

"Well, there's other people here," she said, "And the geometry of the elevator car is fairly simple, the game wouldn't be very entertaining. But there are other interesting games one could play on a space elevator."

"Like what?"

"The game," she said.

"Evelina!" I said, a bit louder than usual. "Alright, I'll give you that one, I lost. Its been a good six months. But as you were saying..."

"Games like... TAG!" she shouted as she bounced off of the compartment walls, shoving me into the air, across the dome.

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"Oh, don't think you're going to get away with that!" I said, as I hit the opposite wall on my feet, immediately pushing off to shoot back across the room in her general direction. She made a move to dodge, but I managed to just barely nick her foot. "Tag!" I pushed off the base of the bottom of the hemisphere and tried to run around the curved part like a track. I promptly fell flat on my face and bounced off into the middle of the dome.

"AHAHA!" she said as she jumped off to tag me, but her aim was off. Instead of gracefully passing by me with a gentle touch, she tackled me and we both bounced into the roof. "Ow, sorry! And tag!" And that went on for at least a minute or two.

 

==========

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"They do know we can hear, right, Erren?"

"Let them have their fun, Helski... I wish I could have lived my younger years like they are. I think it's rather cute. If I wasn't 373 years old, I might join them..."

"I completely agree with you! Although, this is an interesting game I have never heard of before... "Tag," they call it, apparently. Must be one of those human things that is merging into our culture."

==========

Shortly after those 1-2 minutes, an announcement came in over the speakers. "Please migrate to the seats on the ceilings, and evacuate the top dome. Initiating deceleration in one minute. For the gravitationally confused, move to the seats on the blue side of the cabin" or something like that. So, we went back through the hatch and tried to get near Jeb. Except he was still being mobbed by people. We couldn't even see him. Fortunately, once the 2g deceleration started, people calmed down. Jeb was still smiling, somehow, although he was sitting a few rows away from us so it was a bit hard to tell. He was giving the Kerbals next to him autographs.

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I tuned my Kpad into a live view from the top of the tower. It really put into perspective once more how massive this whole assembly was... If I remember right, the elevator car diameter is about 10 meters, meaning that the little tiny car on that image was the size of the first stage of the Saturn V. WOW.

Also, looking back on that image, you may notice a spot where the track sections don't line up. This is normal. The whole section rotates to change which track an elevator car is on, and will also move so the cars can be taken to the servicing area, which this one was.

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The car slowed to a crawl, and the stopped a few seconds later after aligning itself with the docking ports on the tower. There was a click, a hiss, and the start of a "You may now leave your seats" announcement, but after the first word, everyone stood up and began making their way toward the door.

During my journey to the door, I passed under the open hatch to the dome, and looked up at the top of the tower.

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"Ah, there you are, Ethan! And Evelina!" said Jebediah, cheerfully.

"What's the news?" I asked.

"Well, I've got another collection of fan contact information, and I'll respond to their messages using my custom personality AI running on a dedicated semi-supercomputer on Kerbin."

"I think what Ethan means," said Evelina, "Is have you found a ship?"

"Yes. It's not ideal, but I've found one."

"Yes!" We exited the cabin, but we didn't have much time to look around before Jebediah herded us into another elevator of sorts, the horizontal type that would move us along R8.

"How far away is it?" I asked. The horizontal elevator (which is a bit of an oxymoron now that I think about it) accelerated fairly quickly and took us away from the tower.

"A few hours, maybe one if we go fast?" he said.

"Oh," I said. This "horizontal elevator" must not be going as fast as it felt. We were still accelerating.

"Question," said Evelina. "How in the world do you power all of this stuff? Particle accelerators, skyhooks, space elevators... I haven't seen anything other than small solar panels on the surface of Kerbin!"

"Ah, that... I forgot to disable your optical filters for the P system."

"P system? Like the R system?"

"Hold on. I can't disable it now, so look out the window at Kerbin." We obeyed. "Now imagine two giant towers, one on each pole, the height of these ring towers. Now imagine there are giant dishes on these poles. Like, Mun diameter dishes."

"Those are some really big dishes," I remarked.

"Thanks, captain obvious."

"Originally, we covered Moho in solar panels and beamed it to those dishes, but we don't do that any more. We built three planet sized lens and mirror systems, really close to the sun, so two will always be in sight of Kerbin in case one breaks. Those reflect highly concentrated light to another set of two lens and mirror systems at Sun-Kerbin L5, which focus the beams onto another system in a high Kerbin elliptical orbit, of which there are also two, both as a backup and in case the beam is eclipsed by Kebrin, which focuses it onto either of the new, modified Kerbin polar dishes, which then convert it to power."

"Wait," I said. "You've got planet sized mirrors to generate your power?"

"Yeah," Jebediah said like it was a normal, everyday thing. Which I guess it was, for him.

"Why the complexity? That's, what, seven lenses and two receivers?"

"Ethan, if you're going to have one system that your entire planet relies on, that could also melt the entire planet if it aims a few degrees off, you want to build as much redundancy into that system as possible. Each system has minimum 5 abort systems and 30 layers of safety systems on every subsystem. If the slightest thing goes wrong, the beam can be diverted to a preprogrammed empty point in space within milliseconds. The prior stage of mirror can divert the beam to miss the faulty stage, before redirecting to another mirror. In an absolute emergency, we can shatter the mirror to prevent it from reflecting towards the planet at all, or rapidly adjust the lens so the beam disperses enough to be mostly harmless."

"Wow."

"And those are just the cool sounding ones! Think of it as the way you build nuclear power plants, but with a thousand times the safety protocol."

"In theory, at least," said Evelina.

"What?" asked Jebediah.

"We've had several poorly built nuclear power plants."

"Oh. Well... I'm not an expert in human analogies. Anyway, it's time to get off the car!" said Jebediah, hopping up from his seat. In my fascination I hadn't notice the shift in acceleration, somehow. The door opened into a hallway with several Kerbals waiting.

"Final boarding call, Apoapsis Spacelines flight 439. I repeat, final boarding call."

I was ushered into a tube that appeared to connect the large, hexagonal ring section to a smaller circular segment.

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"Wait," said Evelina. "What is this? Where are we going?"

"Ahh, I should have told you this earlier instead of wasting time on power generation, sorry for the sudden shock," said Jebediah. If he was a human he probably would have facepalmed. "Long story short, there are no suitable ships at R8, so we're going to R9."

"Where in the blazes is R9?" asked Evelina.

"The Mun. Also, sorry for the antiquated spaceship, it's a third generation Ring Runner, one of the last twenty or so in service."

"You're apologizing to me for taking me to the Mun in a spaceship?" asked Evelina incredulously.

"Ah, right. This isn't normal for you, sorry to keep forgetting that. Into the ship, on you go!"

"Excuse me, sir, are you Jebediah Kerman?" asked the employee standing by the hatch.

"Yes, ma'am. Here is payment for me and two guests. You have seats, right?"

"Of course! This time of the year, always! I never thought I'd get to meet the real Jebediah Kerman! Can I get your autograph? And one for my friend, she's a really big fan!" She accepted the payment, as well as the autographs, and let us on. Almost immediately the port shut behind us. We found three open seats in the forward section of the passenger compartment.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome aboard the MMTS ActOfGazingVacantlyIntoTheDistanceDuringADramaticSunset for Apoapsis Spacelines Flight 439."

"That's quite a mouthful," I said, wondering why they sped through the title so fast.

"What do you mean?" asked Jebediah. "ActOfGazingVacantlyIntoTheDistanceDuringADramaticSunset isn't a long word at all."

"You just said, like, 10 words really fast."

"Wait," said Jebediah. "You mean you don't have a word for that?"

"Nope."

"Well, you should. Most planets do."

"Please remain seated for the departure phase of the mission. Attention passengers, on this trip we have been gifted the privilege to transport a VIP passenger. He as an urgent agenda. As a result, we will travel to the Mun at Impulse 4 instead of Impulse 2, leading to heightened G forces and shorter transit times. Please brace yourselves. Undocking now." There was a click as the ship undocked from the ring. There was also cheering from around the ship at the increased speed.

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"So, Jeb!" asked Evelina excitedly. "What is this ship powered by? Chemical fuels? Nuclear fuels? Some sort of high thrust ion drive?"

"None of those," said Jebediah. The ship maneuvered close to one side of the tubular enclosure and began to accelerate forwards, curiously (in away that was both unsettling and really, really cool at the same time) without any sign of actual propulsion. "You see, this cylindrical extension to the ring? In human terms, it's basically a toroidal planet-sized railgun."

"Wait," I asked, "This system is powered electromagnetically?"

"Yup!" said Jebediah. "The track splits off at one point to an aiming tube, which can move around with high precision, allowing us to target the Mun, Minmus, or any planet in the system, although that third option isn't used much any more."

"So you can shoot a ship at the Mun and hit a target that can't be more than 25 meters wide?" asked Evelina wide eyed.

"Sometimes," said Jebediah. "This particular model of ship uses Hall effect thrusters for course corrections. All ships using this system are required to have some form of course correction system. Running into the Munar ring at 4 kilometers per second every 10 launches is not a pleasant or financially viable way of doing things."

"Initiating 7 g acceleration in 5... 4..."

"I'd suggest putting your head back," said Jebediah. We both complied.

"2... 1..." Instantly, I felt my weight multiply as I was slammed backwards into my chair, and the ring began flashing by faster and faster. Evelina had a grin on her face, she was clearly enjoying this. I suppose I would be just as enthusiastic as she was if this was my first time going to a moon. Not that I wasn't enthusiastic, I certainly was. But I also couldn't contort my face into a smile, due to the acceleration. We were basically getting shot out of a gun, after all.

Then the hull began to tremble and creak. That couldn't be normal, could it?

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As we shot down the tube faster and faster, I noticed a slight acceleration in the upward direction - probably due to centrifugal force. We were being confined to one orbital altitude, which we were going way too fast for.

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And then, in the space of a few seconds, the car emerged into a much larger tube,

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Was shoved over to the far side,

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Entered the aforementioned "Aiming tube,"

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And after a brief, harsh, acceleration due to turning,

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Our ship stopped accelerating, made a few harsh magnetic adjustments,

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And was shot towards the Mun.

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"Attention passengers, our launch velocity was 4.127 kilometers per second, and we are within five centimeters per second of our intended vector. We will arrive at the Mun in approximately forty one minutes and fifteen seconds. You are now free to move around the ship."

"Someone please pinch me, I feel like I'm in the best dream ever," said Evelina as she looked in awe out the window.

"There's an observation deck towards the back, and a dome in the front," said Jebediah. "And I can confirm that you are not dreaming."

"Aw, sweet! Come on, let's go!" she said as she started for the back of the cabin. Jeb and I began following her. Nobody else in the cabin moved - this was as routine as an airplane flight for most of them.  Maybe even as routine as taking a commuter train for a few of them. But then one of them looked up.

"Hey, are you Jebediah Kerman?" he said in a very enthusiastic voice.

"Here we go again!" he said as he whipped out his autograph pen. "Have fun, you two, just be back in time for braking!"

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As everyone heard the news and rushed Jebediah, Evelina and I made our way through the cabin towards the observation deck.

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First off, we checked out Kerbin getting smaller and smaller by the minute, after briefly explaining to the other Kerbals in there that this was her second spaceflight and my third, hence why we were so excited. I mean, it was 2 and 3 if you count the Hype Plane flight waaaay back in Chapter 1-2 as a spaceflight. Which you should.

In one of the compartments, I found a Whack-A-Kerbal set that was apparently standard issue for this type of ship. It was obviously old and hadn't been used for a while. I almost invited Evelina and the others in the module to play, but then I remembered that this was Evelina's first ever time experiencing this... She could spend all the time at the windows that she wanted to. Nevertheless, she asked me about it and I gave her a brief explanation. She said it was insanely cool, but Kerbin took priority. I joined her at the window.

And there we stayed, awestruck by the majesty of what we were seeing. The majesty of Kerbin, solar shadows, the magnificent purple thruster plumes... Needless to say, we lost track of time.

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"Attention, passengers, we are now ten minutes from Braking and on course. I repeat, ten minutes from Braking and on course."

"Where did all the time go?" she asked.

"Well, you know the saying. Time flies."

"We haven't even checked out the rest of the ship yet!"

"Well, shall we?"

"We shall."

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We made our way back though what appeared to be the cargo compartment, and back through the main passenger compartment, where people were still mobbing Jeb. After somehow getting through that, we passed some storage and logistics sections (somehow open to the public), passed the pilots' area, which was offset from the main hallway, and arrived at the forward dome.

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"Now isn't this beautiful," she said.

"Beautiful is an understatement," I responded. The Mun was getting larger by the second.

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"I think we're the first two humans to see this."

"Well," I said, "Unless Jeb's been ferrying around other humans for his enjoyment, yes, I'd say we're the first. It sort of feels unfair, in a way... I've always wanted something like this to happen to me, but literally everything is happening to me. I sort of feel bad that it's only me."

"What, am I not here?" she joked.

"Well, yeah. But I've gone to another planet, walked on two moons, I was the first human to hear about this ominous "Species." I've been cloned, taken to Kerbin, and shoved into a warp ship with my best friend, which exploded, and now we're here, travelling to the Mun on a giant magnet powered spaceship."

"If I didn't know any better," she said, "I'd say we're in a book!" I paused for a second to consider this.

"Hmm... You know, I think this would work better as a movie. Imagine trying to explain the intricacies of all these ships in just text. It would be a really long book, and we might not even be half way through!"

"Nah, it's not a movie."

"How do you know?" I asked.

"They got the orbital mechanics right!" We chuckled. "And as far as this being a fictional, scripted world... I know that it's not."

"How so?" I asked.

"Well," she responded, "If it was a story, we would have fallen in love already."

"Well..." I was about to object, "Hmm. Yeah, right after a confrontation, with a similarly aged boy and girl main character alone in the front of a spaceship, approaching a moon..."

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"If I was the author, I don't think I'd be able to resist."

"Unless the author chickened out or something," I mused. "I've tried to write romance. It's hard."

"What? No it's not! Everything else is!"

"You're a writer?" I said, surprised.

"I write a little bit. And you write stuff other than your log entries?"

"Oh, all the time. I could go on and on.

"But yeah. It would be trivially easy for the said writer to say "And Ethan took Evelina by the hand, pulling her in closely as Kerbin receded. "Evelina, though evil threatens to destroy our world, at least I have this moment here with you," he said. She smiled, her eyes tearing up. "I love you." And as they pulled in for a kiss, the sun rose above the Mun, brighter at that moment than it had ever been before..." See? Trivially easy!

"That is incredibly unrealistic," I said.

"No it isn't. Maybe a bit cheesy, but it could happen."

"You can't kiss in these giant space helmets. If you took them off, the massive collars would get in the way."

"Oh." She felt around her helmet.

"Plus, if there was an author, he - or she - wouldn't be letting us have this conversation."

"Hmm... True. Uhh, Ethan? My helmet is stuck on."

"Are you joking?" I skeptically asked."

"No, I legitimately can't get it off!" If I was in her situation, I probably would have panicked. But she actually looked more dissatisfied than panicked. She was fiddling with the slide latch, and it looked pretty stuck.

"Oh boy," I said as I reached to take my helmet off so I could better help her. "Uhh, mine's stuck too." I started to panic.

"Oh, great. What are the chances?"

"It won't budge!" I said, slightly louder.

"Is there a secondary latch, or something? You've been in a spacesuit longer than I have!"

"Not this model!" I said, beginning to panic. "Jeb just gave it to me recently! And I can't get it off!"

"Hey, you two!" said an official looking Kerbal from behind us. "Sorry to interrupt your stargazing, but due to the age of this ship, and the fact that if you're in here during braking, you could go straight through the dome, helmets are automatically locked when you enter the area."

"Oh," I said, somewhat relieved. "Sorry to cause a fuss."

"How much of that did you hear?" asked Evelina.

"You can't kiss in these giant space helmets. The massive collars would get in the way. Actually, you just have to do it upside down. Also, you might want to get back to your seats." He pressed a button on his helmet and said "Attention all passengers, two minutes until braking. Please return to your seats. I repeat, two minutes until braking. Please return to your seats."

We both obeyed and rushed back to the passenger compartment. As it turns out, all of the seats had rotated to facilitate the reverse in acceleration direction. The observation deck had a few open seats, mostly because the previous occupants were in the main module, mobbing Jeb even as they took their seats.

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"Braking in one minute. If you have not taken a seat, please do so. If you are unable to find a seat, retrieve a pillow from the underside of any seat and lay against the braking wall, head and hands back. Deceleration will be exceptionally bumpy do to the Impulse 4 transfer. There will be a slight delay in reaching the station, we are letting our VIP passenger - " There was a lot of cheering at this - "We will be letting our VIP passenger - and guests - off at their destination first. In addition, to speed up the transit, we are coming in in a retrograde direction. Traffic is low, and we are in touch with control. We should be safe. Thirty seconds to braking."

I barely had time to think about the whole "Retrograde" and "Should be safe" things. Thirty seconds later, the MMTS ActOfGazingVacantlyIntoTheDistanceDuringADramaticSunset entered an aiming track, was pushed into a main track, and began decelerating at seven to eight gees, which is not good for a human. Fortunately, the chairs turned backwards to soften the blow a bit. I nearly did black out, though.

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And then we stopped decelerating, but we were still moving very quickly down the tube, passing many other vehicles parked on the sides. At that moment, Jebediah popped in and sat down (without a chair) next to us, but not before tossing autographs to the other two Kerbals in the room.

"Ahh, finally! I went through two autograph pens!"

"Hi, Jeb!"

"I trust you two had an excellent flight."

"Oh, certainly!" said Evelina. "That's literally the Mun out there! Right now! I feel like I could reach out and touch it!"

"Good news, I bought a spaceship!" The ship we were in began to slow down once more, but only at about 1g this time.

"What's it like?" I asked.

"Quite a bit larger than the older one. It comes with multiple cargo bays, advanced nuclear maneuvering engines, and most importantly, one of the few dozen K-drives still in operation, although it is quite a bit more advanced than the old ship."

"How much more advanced?" asked Evelina.

"Well, the Memories was designed for building space stations around nearby planets. But this? This isn't just a spaceship... This is a starship, designed for exploring other worlds around other stars, later converted to a ceremonial transport ship, later converted for galactic tourism, now sitting at the docks, unused for quite some time. Between one or two generations ahead... It's like a leap from Vostok to the space shuttle, in human terms. Maybe a bit more than that."

"What's it called?" asked Evelina.

"The Inter-Stellar Starship Legacy II."

"Now isn't that some name!" she said.

"Just how big is it?" I asked.

"See for yourself, it's right out the window." The ship had stopped slowing down at this point and was doing final rendezvous maneuvers.

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"Holy Guacamole!" I exclaimed.

"Great Scott..." Jeb didn't look up from his Kpad, apparently he was finalizing something.

"Those solar panels have got to be the size of my neighborhood! The smallest thing on there is probably the size of my house!"

"In the space of eighty minutes I have gone from being angry on a rooftop to being in front of a starship!" The ship we were in stopped and Jeb herded us towards the airlock.

"Helmets on, and switch jetpacks from ambient to vacuum." We both switched our jetpacks.

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We eagerly jetpacked towards the giant starship.

"Hey, you two! Wait up! And you're going the wrong way, it's to the right!" he said into his mic.

"Is that not a giant starship?" asked Evelina.

"Oh. Oooohhh. Sorry. Ours is the one to the right of that one."

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"Oh."

"Oh."

"Come on, what are you waiting for?"

"Hey, bright side!" said Evelina. "It's still a giant freaking spaceship! How long is, Jeb?"

"A bit over sixty meters."

"The ISS is what, 100 meters? And that's with the solar panels! And we're literally orbiting the moon! How many Apollo astronauts actually got to EVA over the moon? How many?!?!"

"Well, when you put it that way..." We started towards the ISS Legacy II. 

"I'm actually curious now, how many?"

T4hCetS.png

A minute or two we were inside of the Legacy II and Jebediah had undocked.

"Alright, let's go!" said Jeb.

"You still haven't told us where we're going!" I said.

"Top secret, you'll see when we get there."

"And if we run into... you know?"

"Hope and pray that it doesn't happen."

===

Jebediah began turning the ship towards the least Species-patrolled edge of the galaxy. But then he had a thought. If he did run into the Species...What would happen? He didn't want to resort to weapons... But it might make the two humans on board feel a bit safer. Would it? Would the presence of weapons just stress them out more? Would the Galactic Council strip him of his title for using weapons? Probably not. Whole planets were making weapons this very instant. Whole planets were being attacked, agonizingly slowly. The council was a mess. Even if they found out, they probably wouldn't care, in the face of so much else.

Would such weapons even be effective? Would they need them? Jebediah felt the black shard still in his pocket, which in theory would cloak his ship. Did he trust its makers? Would picking up weapons be seen as a sign of distrust? No, he decided. Just like the many mirrors and lenses powering Kerbin, weapons would be another layer of security. Another failsafe. Just in case. Nobody expected the need to shatter the mirror, just as he didn't expect the need to use weapons.

He turned the Legacy II away from where he was supposed to be going, to a new target. It hopefully wouldn't be a long stop.

Jebediah felt a feeling he hadn't felt in a long time - disgust towards himself.

===

OGhfFW8.png

"None in lunar orbit, actually, although six Apollo astronauts did EVAs to retrieve experiments on the way back to Earth. Three of them were just poking their head out of the hatch while the other guy had all the fun, though."

"I'm so glad that the Kerbals ported Wikipedia to the Kerbin system!" said Evelina. "Wait. How exactly are we getting WiFi up here?"

"Alright, strap yourselves in. We're going to be taking a quick detour, but for good reasons. Are you ready?" asked Jebediah.

"Is the sky black?" asked Evelina.

"We are go for launch!"

qTmsU71.png

It was at this point that Kerbin eclipsed the sun. Curious. Evelina had said something about being in a dome, an eclipse, and being alone. The eclipse was different, it wasn't a dome, and we weren't alone, but the coincidence was interesting.

"K-drive is fully warmed up. Nuclear systems are online. Muon bed functioning. Life support online. Supply manifest subpar, but okay. Centrifuges currently stopped. Internal and external inertial dampeners appear to be in good shape.

3qsV6uS.png

"Initiating medium impulse K-drive in five. Four. Three. Two. One."

lBJDqns.png

This time, like the last time, there was no harsh feeling of acceleration. Acceleration that fast would kill anything living. But unlike last time, where there had been the feeling of the shakiest roller coaster ever, the Legacy II sailed smoothly through space, the vibration from the drive almost undetectable. It was almost like we weren't moving at all.

Wj5ylse.png

Within seconds the Mun was a far away ball, and Kerbin had grown much larger. The sun rose once more.

o76okS9.png

Kerbin sped on past, leaving us behind. The acceleration must have increased, for seconds later, there was the sun.

NpQuD4b.png

r2LQTsd.png

The windows automatically adjusted so I wouldn't burn my eyes up marveling at just how mindbogglingly massive it was.

jrThMcY.png

And just like that...

mB4ChiJ.png

 

...We had left the Kerbol system behind.

 

...Again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Ultimate Steve
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8 hours ago, Ultimate Steve said:

"Like what?"

"The game," she said.

I see what you did there.

8 hours ago, Ultimate Steve said:

"If I was the author, I don't think I'd be able to resist."

"Unless the author chickened out or something," I mused. "I've tried to write romance. It's hard."

"What? No it's not! Everything else is!"

Welp, there goes the fourth wall. It lasted surprisingly long.

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21 hours ago, Kerbalstar said:

Yay! Moar! Now MOAR! ;)

Just kiddimg, take your time.

Hopefully not too much time! Last chapter was late for two reasons. One, the massive amount of ships I had to build and the fact that KSP doesn't like structures more than a few hundred meters long, and two, the awkward bit. I actually had the screenshots sitting around for at least a month before I found an alright way to solve the Ethan-Evelina conflict... The next chapter is not very much building, a medium amount of gameplay, a new thing which I'm not going to spoil, if I do it at all (the hardest part) and a bit of storytelling. This one shouldn't take two months.

20 hours ago, obney kerman said:

Welp, there goes the fourth wall. It lasted surprisingly long.

Yes, a surprisingly long time!

14 hours ago, Mad Rocket Scientist said:

Sounds like a Culture ship name.

Breaking news, the name of SpaceX's fourth drone ship has been announced!

 

Also, I have this outline for the entire story from about a year ago (has it really been that long?), from before the Vall landing. Today I was referencing it to see what should happen next... And so much has changed, both the stuff that I've already done and the stuff I've decided to do! That outline may as well be for an entirely different story! Time to make another one...

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16 minutes ago, Ultimate Steve said:

Hopefully not too much time! Last chapter was late for two reasons. One, the massive amount of ships I had to build and the fact that KSP doesn't like structures more than a few hundred meters long, and two, the awkward bit. I actually had the screenshots sitting around for at least a month before I found an alright way to solve the Ethan-Evelina conflict... The next chapter is not very much building, a medium amount of gameplay, a new thing which I'm not going to spoil, if I do it at all (the hardest part) and a bit of storytelling. This one shouldn't take two months.

Yes, a surprisingly long time!

Breaking news, the name of SpaceX's fourth drone ship has been announced!

 

Also, I have this outline for the entire story from about a year ago (has it really been that long?), from before the Vall landing. Today I was referencing it to see what should happen next... And so much has changed, both the stuff that I've already done and the stuff I've decided to do! That outline may as well be for an entirely different story! Time to make another one...

Hopefully... Over 200m long, really! Cool.

Yes.

The AOGVITDDADS, The OCISLY... 

I get it...

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On 11/25/2018 at 2:43 PM, Ultimate Steve said:

Hopefully not too much time! Last chapter was late for two reasons. One, the massive amount of ships I had to build and the fact that KSP doesn't like structures more than a few hundred meters long, and two, the awkward bit. I actually had the screenshots sitting around for at least a month before I found an alright way to solve the Ethan-Evelina conflict... The next chapter is not very much building, a medium amount of gameplay, a new thing which I'm not going to spoil, if I do it at all (the hardest part) and a bit of storytelling. This one shouldn't take two months.

Yeah, I've been wondering...

How did you make a giant planetary ring?!?!?!?!?!

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24 minutes ago, TeslaPenguin1 said:

Yeah, I've been wondering...

How did you make a giant planetary ring?!?!?!?!?!

I have some behind the scenes images but I won't be able to access them for at least another 4 hours. Before I post them and answer your question, could you first answer a question of mine - how convincing was it?

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39 minutes ago, Ultimate Steve said:

I have some behind the scenes images but I won't be able to access them for at least another 4 hours. Before I post them and answer your question, could you first answer a question of mine - how convincing was it?

Very!

P.S. Nice festive avatar!

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3 hours ago, Ultimate Steve said:

I have some behind the scenes images but I won't be able to access them for at least another 4 hours. Before I post them and answer your question, could you first answer a question of mine - how convincing was it?

Very convincing. I liked it.

 

 

… I need to add a santa hat to my avatar now, don't I?

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Just now, obney kerman said:

Very convincing. I liked it.

 

 

… I need to add a santa hat to my avatar now, don't I?

I agree.

 

And yes,.yes you do... ;)

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9 hours ago, TeslaPenguin1 said:

How did you make a giant planetary ring?!?!?!?!?!

8 hours ago, Kerbalstar said:

Very!

5 hours ago, obney kerman said:

Very convincing. I liked it.

Alright, then!

Spoiler

KYHSUSY.png

I couldn't find a shot of the first ring where it's all in view at the angle I want, but it's not actually that long. The craft curves and shrinks towards the end (I'm using severe amounts of TweakScale) and is shaped more like a lowercase j than a ring.

All of the other bits were their own separate craft.

Like this one!

Ck7iN4z.png

And this one!

n0vF5hC.png

And this one!

SK9rOGS.png

Oftentimes I'll have an image that just barely shows the effect, but I'll crop it so it doesn't show, like this one:

qmYdpH9.png

I originally intended to edit the image somehow so it appeared to go all the way down but I never tried and cropped it instead.

PpqQwxp.png

Many of the segments had giant RCS to try and keep it pointed in the right direction for the shot. This usually worked fine, but in the case of the splitter and aiming section... oh boy. Even with KJR it would not stop krakening, and when it did stop krakening it was annoying to get pointing the right direction because it was asymmetric.

I ended up scaling the whole thing down with TweakScale, but there was a problem. Some of the modded parts of the ActOfGazingVacantly... wouldn't scale, so I had to replace a few with scalable counterparts. Like that viewing area in the back? That was two cupolas, one flipped upside-down for a while.

Now... Heh. This thing.

Ffvg7ez.png

That river was vastly annoying, due to the fact that very few stock parts are blue. At first I attempted to go with a TweakScaled gravioli detector.

7SCsqis.png

But weirdly, those are extremely dense, and that becomes obvious when you scale it up. Not even dozens of launch clamps could keep it from falling and exploding. So I tried again with a part from a mod that looked like the gravioli detector, which is in the above picture. It had the same problem.

3oIkiaX.png

So then I tried a Cupola, which has blue windows, and I got it to not fall eventually. But I ran into collision mesh problems, I couldn't walk on the glass, I'd be several meters above it.

And then I installed DCK and made wings blue, although whatever they are calling KerbPaint now would probably have been better.

And then this happened:

YRRWr6w.png

Also, I just remembered that I had a set built for a segment on the GEO ring that I never used and never got screenshots of... I may try to slip it in somewhere!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cool! Very cool! I had wondered how you got that river. Thanks for the information. I figured that it wasn't actually a planet spanning ring, just cropped segments (even though it would be insanely cool if it was), due to KSP's physics limitations, but it looked very convincing! Any ETA on the next chapter? (SoonTM, I know, just curious if he has anything else, if he doesn't it's fine.) (And yes, I have to ask.)

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9 minutes ago, Kerbalstar said:

Cool! Very cool! I had wondered how you got that river. Thanks for the information. I figured that it wasn't actually a planet spanning ring, just cropped segments (even though it would be insanely cool if it was), due to KSP's physics limitations, but it looked very convincing! Any ETA on the next chapter? (SoonTM, I know, just curious if he has anything else, if he doesn't it's fine.) (And yes, I have to ask.)

That depends way more than my motivation rather than the work I have to do, but soon-ish. I have already done something related to the next chapter, but I don't want to say what it is yet. Unless I get distracted by something (I got back into Minecraft last month) should be less than a few weeks.

*Ultimate Steve uses Intentional vagueness*

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2 minutes ago, Ultimate Steve said:

That depends way more than my motivation rather than the work I have to do, but soon-ish. I have already done something related to the next chapter, but I don't want to say what it is yet. Unless I get distracted by something (I got back into Minecraft last month) should be less than a few weeks.

 *Ultimate Steve uses Intentional vagueness*

Gotcha, thanks. That happens with me too. If I get sidetracked on other games, or I go into one of my non-gaming(oh, the horror) phases, my focus can slip.

*Kerbalstar uses Intentional vagueness.*

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So I loaded up the game today with the intention of getting some quick screenshots (less than an hours worth of play) but I decided to make one of the supporting craft for Chapter 18 first. It's not even that important of a craft. I was originally going to handwave the propulsion and make up some random technology that would make it work, but then I tried to make it functional. And after about six hours of engineering, I got it!

Except it's too big for where I want it to go, so I'll either have to make it smaller or fiddle with the story. And I haven't added all of the minor utilities yet. But when you see the craft, and you'll know which one it is, just know that it's legit.

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  • 3 weeks later...

 

Chapter Eighteen - No Right Answer

 

Spoiler

...And that's how Cheng won a game of Whack-A-Kerbal using only one hand.

Anyway, as I was saying, Jebediah Kerman was sitting next to me. I was bundled in a blanket, my eyes almost unable to stay open. It was the scheduled nighttime on the mission. We had just finished watching Star Wars episode IV, the latest film in our interplanetary movie marathon. It had been going on for several weeks. Each crew member was given a turn at choosing a movie, including the Kerbals. Apparently, Kerbin's action movie industry sucks. At least from my perspective. Probably because they are so against violence that the smallest acts of evil are a huge deal and are blown up astoundingly in film from a human perspective. The widely held belief that violence should usually not be answered with violence makes most movie plots vastly different than what would be expected from an Earth film.

Kerbal romance movies are also very weird. Kerbal courtship customs are different than Earth customs, although they are similar in many ways. This makes the plots of those films seem EXTREMELY awkward to us.

Now, disaster and adventure movies. Those are insanely good! Especially the space ones! I told you about The Gravioli Device and Return from Eve a few days ago. Take Gravity's visuals, but with realistic orbital mechanics, better acting, better sound, better everything, and 10x better CGI. Boom. You've got something the Kerbals would make.

And historical dramas are also great, like The Race to Duna.

Anyway, as I was saying, we think Kerbal action movies are lame. The Kerbals think our action movies are terrifying. Avengers: Infinity War was just released after Marvel finally got set back up on Kerbin, and I don't think showing that to the Kerbals is a good idea.

Spoiler alert: Dora the Explorer dies in Infinity War.

So, yeah. The Death Star blew up, and Star Wars rolled into its finale. Everyone else had gone to bed at that point as we had gone a long time just watching movies. This was going to be the last one for a while.

"So, how was that, Jeb?"

"The orbital mechanics were absolutely atrocious."

And then I fell asleep.

See you next time!

 

========== Ethan 1's private journal. Rear Hitchhiker module, Spaceship UCE Voyager,  Joolian (or Julian) orbit, Kerbol System, Milky Way. I've lost count of what day it is and I'm too lazy to check.

 

 

"The orbital mechanics were absolutely atrocious."

 

"Yeah. I know. I guess it's because space travel isn't commonplace in our world so the average person has any idea how orbits work. But I guess if you replace the Sci-fi part with fantasy, it will be alright."

"Yeah, I guess," he said. "But the rebels... Why was their best course of action to blow the thing up?"

"What else could have been done?" I asked.

"Send them a message, talk it out."

"And you think the Empire would have listened?"

"They might have."

"They came in because they wanted power and control, and they were this far from wiping out one of their major enemies. Let's say you were playing a game and were one move away from your opponent losing. If they ask you to reconsider winning, would you?" I asked.

"There's a difference between a game and lives!" He said. "Of course I wouldn't in a game, but - "

"And the empire had grown so big that it was almost like a game to them."

"How do they even get to the point where killing billions is like a game?" he moaned.

"It's a movie. And some messed up people think they are right, but are good at getting people to follow them." The debate continued for several more minutes.

"It pains me to think that you can even think to put such evil into a film."

"They are the antagonist for a reason," I responded. "And trying to talk it out with The Species hasn't been working, has it?" Jeb stopped for a second and looked at me, defeated.

"Maybe the humans and The Species and those four others were the norm instead of the exception," mused Jeb.

"Others?" I asked, with a concerned expression on my face.

He looked at me and shook his head. "The other Species we've had to test."

"What happened to them?"

"I'm not allowed to tell you and it doesn't matter. Even the Illasticonians and the Ziquunodians were violent at the start, before they started the Galactic Union. Maybe..."

I decided to change the subject to something a little less depressing.

 

"So, Jeb, what are other planets' movies like?"

 

"Oh, that's a big question." He sighed and sat back, preparing to tell many stories. I wished we had popcorn up here.

"First off, not all planets have a film industry. One intelligent species in the Union hasn't independently developed the steam engine yet and prefers to stay that way. They use borrowed technology to attend the council meetings. But, most developed planets do have film industries. However, we then have to deal with languages and translation... The biggest problems occur with how information dense each language is. That can greatly affect pacing. For example, one language may be able to convey ten times as much information per syllable as another language. Imagine watching a movie at ten times speed, or a tenth speed."

As someone who used to always watch YouTube videos at 2x speed, watching a movie at 1/10 speed would be terrible. I might be able to do 3x speed or maybe 4x speed, but no way, not 10x speed.

"And then there's the average length of a movie. The Draftignitarons can live ten thousand Earth years, have huge bladders, and live on a planet which rotates very slowly. Their movies average two Earth days long."

"That's like, the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe in one movie!"

"What's that?"

"A really long superhero series that's really popular with the Humans. You might enjoy it, but you probably won't."

"And then the Draftignitarons have series as well! One of them has about a dozen good movies! But then there are the Jslans! Poor Jslans... A human could live a hundred Jslan generations. Watching that entire film series could take up a very significant chunk of their lives... Like, several percent!"

"Yikes. I'm glad I'm not a Jslan."

"The Jslans are actually some of the happiest known creatures ever. Maybe because of their short life cycle, they appreciate life more than anyone else... And their planet is amazingly beautiful. I almost wish I had been born a Jslan. Almost. Anyway, back to films. You think our space disaster films are good? Well, one species has an entire uninhabited planet with a thin, tall atmosphere just for filming things exploding in space. Because of the atmosphere, the orbits decay pretty quickly. And there are also some aquatic species, or even those that live in different fluids, or some that only see in black and white... Some have vertical eyesight, even. All of this makes the transfer of movies very difficult."

"This is all very intriguing and interesting."

"Oh, you haven't heard anything yet!"

 

==========

 

 

Y, it appears we have a very strange occurrence.

Elaborate, X.

We have found a way to increase efficiency invading Galaxy 1487135521-A382.

And our simulations have not discovered this?

There was a 99.99 percent chance that additional simulations would not predict an outcome with a better energy used to energy gathered ratio.

So why did you run more?

A very unlikely occurrence within that 0.01 percent has happened, leading us to explore the possibilities, as there was a 60% chance for energy gain.

Very well. Elaborate.

We will gain 0.00001% more energy from this by pursuing this path, a significant increase. There is a child, by the name of Ethan, who is in a very unlikely position. Everything is happening to him, at incredible odds.

Correct, X.

He could already be a hero to Kerbin and many other planets, if they knew what he was doing. He portrays many of the values emphasized by the Humans and Kerbals. He has close ties with the Kerbal Representative and another close friend. And he is currently on a ship with an experimental cloaking device onboard that he hopes will save the galaxy through testing. This is futile.

What do the simulations suggest we do with him?

It's simple. We need to make him into an even bigger hero. Portray him and his friends winning. Make him public. Increase public enthusiasm. Put him into an almost unbelievable situation where it looks like he is just about to singlehandedly defeat us.

And?

And then in one instant we crush all hope. We eliminate him, his friends, significant Kerbin infrastructure and several other things at the same time, and it will so thoroughly demolish the morale of the Humans and Kerbals that we will get 132 years of labor out of them before a revolt instead of 102, among other benefits.

Has this plan been checked?

Then it shall be incorporated into the invasion.

 

==========

 

I was woken by the sound of engines.

TJXbRBE.png

Those three faithful nuclear engines that had gotten us this far had now pushed us into an orbit around Bop. An elliptical one, of course, to save fuel. I was sort of bummed that I had missed the Bop approach, but it wasn't the end of the world or anything!

So, yeah. Very short update. Should all go well, we will have the Bop Monolith - we're assuming there is one - found in a few days, and then we're sending Jack down. Until then, there isn't really much to do... Except getting paid to sign memes, I guess. If nothing else happens, my next update will be from the surface of Bop, the last moon I, personally will visit before we return home to Kerbin. Of course, you all will have probably watched the live feed first and will have seen everything that will happen... But, millions of people read this, so I must be doing something right!

We still have Laythe, of course, but that's Alonya's job.

Ethan out!

 

 

========== Ethan 2's private journal. In transit, on board the Legacy II, several days after these events.

 

zIjJA1a.png

It was Day ??? of travel on the Legacy II - I had lost count. It certainly wasn't more than a week Earth time, that's for sure.

6qhfGpf.png

Our radiators were on the brink of overheating. This K-drive had not been designed to run for this long. It's designers had built it to explore nearby stars, not to complete marathon runs across a quarter of the galaxy. Jeb still hadn't told us where we were going.

RQu63Vn.png

The drive had been running so long, he was beginning to get concerned about muon erosion. Whatever that was.

ORNbx4b.png

As far as life on the Legacy II, it was rather interesting, at first. The ship was HUGE.

ZfdNUZg.png

In the middle of the central stalk there were two meeting rooms and two sets of berths, mostly sparse and undecorated given how long it had been since this ship had flown.

36COgWd.png

In other news I found the mustard drawer. It was all expired, despite how good the Kerbals have gotten at food preservation.

JoPIbEg.png

Hehe. A dice drawer in the zero-gee section.

V8jaWXu.png

These were the zero-g berths, tiny and wedge shaped. The ship did, however, have two artificial gravity rings.

qyZWowm.png

The first one was pretty small, I'm not really sure why they bothered. Maybe for redundancy.

3VTFHyI.png

It did, however, have the only coffee machine on the ship. Although it's not really coffee given the fact it was made by the Kerbals. It's pretty much the same thing, though.

The other ring was gigantic, however, with four separate sections - An exercise room, a sleeping room, a utility room, and a general room, which is where I generally (haha) spent most of my time.

sneiTwW.png

There was, however, one hatch at the rear of the ship, before the entrance to the cargo bays. It was eerily dimly lit. The hatch window was blacked out. Odd-looking spacesuits lined the walls. And there were at least twenty locks keeping it shut.

I asked Jeb about it and he said "Hopefully we won't need to open it but I think we will. Until then, don't go to the hatch. Don't talk about the hatch. And most certainly, do not open the hatch unless I tell you to."

Spooky.

Anyway, Evelina and I were in the general area in the larger ring.

bUfIez3.png

"So, I talked to Jeb," I said, "And he's not going to tell me the year, but these travel posters were from the late second generation of Jool Infrastructure, right before the K-drives were invented."

j70hrVf.png

QLNiJpa.png

9fCEZwH.png

"That ticket price, 25000 funds," said Evelina, "That's rather low. How did they manage that?"

"Reusability, refueling, and turnaround. They made giant nuclear powered spaceships which would aerobrake at Jool and Kerbin. They could get there in under a human month!"

"That's fantastic!"

"But they started having radiation problems. Going through Jool's radiation belts, using cheap, dirty nuclear engines, and long stays on Laythe were not good for the tourists. Or the staff. Or the colonists."

"Ouch."

"That's why the Kerbals never colonized or terraformed Laythe. They are looking at building a giant radiation shield, but they have more pressing matters right now."

"Kerbals are that sensitive to radiation?"

"Yes. Apparently Laythe would almost be safe enough for colonization by humans. But for Kerbals, a few Kerbal years, tops."

ncHiBLS.png

"So, do you think we'll ever be able to take these Kerbal disguises off?" I asked.

"Not for a while," she said. "On the off chance that the Species find us, and on the off chance that they blow us up before they can tell we're disguised, he doesn't want to bring the humans into it."

"I guess it's a valid reason," I replied. She smirked and turned her disguise off for a fraction of a second. "Evelina! We're not supposed to do that!"

"Hmm, I thought you thought my face was beautiful."

"When did I say that?" (Not that I disagree!) We were about to continue when Jeb's voice came over the intercom.

"Evelina and Ethan, please be advised. We are approaching our destination." I knew it had to be coming soon. Once we had turned around to start slowing down I knew we were about halfway through our journey. Still, it caught me off-guard.

"Are you going to tell us where we're going yet?" yelled Evelina to the microphone on the other side of the room.

"Just look out the window," Jeb said. So I stood up and looked out the window. Sure enough, far in the distance, there was one star that appeared to be steadily growing larger instead of flashing past.

MyFWRVt.png?1

"Big surprise, it's a star," said Evelina.

"And we're the first humans to see this star up close!" I said, my eyes glued to the window as the star drew ever nearer.

"Entry will be extremely bumpy," said Jeb. "Please hold onto something." This statement seemed odd to me, given that the only bump there had been on the entire trip was when we turned the ship around. I barely had time to think that before it seemed that the ship hit an imaginary wall.

igjxDLo.png

Instantly I was thrown against the window as the ship vibrated and creaked, feeling additional deceleration. I thought we were doomed, it felt like riding an extremely fast, old wooden roller coaster. Throughout this, the star got bigger and bigger as the gravity ring spun around.

ApE0ZRu.png

"It's beautiful!" Evelina managed to shout over the roar (which was subsiding), despite being pressed against the window.

gmFJy7r.png

And then we shot past the star. I was concerned for only a fraction of a second before I realized that we were probably going to a planet around the star, and sure enough, there it was, a tiny dot.

And in about two seconds it went from a dot to...

PDjzKJU.png

qkl9O0S.png

dQhin1P.png

And the ship stopped, along with the vibration. The K-drive was visibly cooling off.

Evelina and I were shocked for a few seconds. Eventually I managed to say "So I guess we're not the first humans to see that star up close, then."

"Welcome back to Earth!" said Jeb.

"Wha... Why are we here?" I asked, while also looking out the window. It was the first time I had seen Earth from this perspective.

"All in good time."

"And didn't you cover the entire planet in purple Jell-O?" I asked. "That I had to walk through for like two weeks?"

"False. We covered the entire solar system in purple Jello-O. We just upgraded it, it's pretty clear now. We've also invented a device which will unfreeze a 100m-ish diameter sphere around the ship. So we can still move around and stuff. Actually, hold on a second." The K-drive started up once more, changing our orbital direction significantly. A few seconds later it was off again.

hKb69Ad.png

"Congratulations, you are now the first humans in a polar orbit around Earth."

"Wait, so what was the big disturbance near the star?"

"That," said Jeb, "Was because we were going too fast for the Jell-O bubble generator to keep up, meaning that we basically just rammed through the Jell-O at several times the speed of light, which wasn't really good for the ship. Or the Jell-O. Or spacetime integrity."

"It doesn't seem like the phrase "Several times the speed of light" should be good for anything!" I said.

"I realize you're awestruck by the view, but I'd appreciate if you would get up to the control deck." Evelina and I managed to tear ourselves away from the window and go up the ladder that led back to the core.

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"Alright. I will admit I have been really secretive," began Jebediah, "But I think you are a bit nervous going up against The Species armed with absolutely nothing. And despite the stance of the Galactic Union..." He took a deep breath, "In times like these I think we would all feel better if we had a few weapons to throw around. Just in case. Not that we'll need them."

"You're joking," said Evelina.

"I wish I was. I know what this looks like - We're trying to deweaponize you, but we're weaponizing ourselves. And I don't know what to say..."

"So you came to Earth because we have the best weapons."

"No," said Jebediah. "You have the best currently available weapons that aren't locked up."

"Our weapons are locked up!" I said. "We don't just leave them out in the open! Or at least our nukes. We probably do leave some weapons out in the open..." I trailed off.

"By human standards, your weapons are secure. But I'm not human, am I?" A picture popped onto our screens.

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"That is Kirtland Air Force Base. It contains the largest nuclear weapons stockpile in the world, hidden, underground."

"Oh, I remember reading about this once!" I said.

"How many nuclear weapons do they have?" asked Evelina.

"That's classified," I said. "Everything related to the weapons stockpile is, except for the fact that it exists, pretty much. The total number may never be known."

"2215," said Jebediah. "Counting the few that are in various stages of dismantlement."

"Never mind," I said.

"So you want to steal nuclear weapons from one of the most heavily guarded places on Earth?" asked Evelina.

"The guards aren't on Earth any more!" said Jebediah as he stood up and made his way down the ladder. He motioned for us to follow. "And besides, Earth could do with a few less nuclear weapons, if you ask me!" We arrived at the forbidden hatch a few seconds later. "Put these on," Jebediah said.

"These old heavy things?" asked Evelina. "What are they for? Can't we just use our normal spacesuits?"

"Oh boy. Here comes the explanation," he said as he slipped into one of the extremely heavy suits.

"Should we be scared?" I asked.

"Let's just say that if things go well we'll only irradiate a small part of new Mexico. That will be cleaned up before the humans go back to Earth, of course. Assuming that happens."

"And if things go wrong?"

"Let's not talk about that!" He said. "Your suits should protect you from the radiation." Our helmets (with severely tinted visors) were all on now. He began undoing the various locks on the hatch. "Alright. What I'm about to show you is illegal on every single inhabited planet except for one that is already so radioactive that nobody cares."

"What is it, an Orion drive?" Evelina asked.

"Desperate times, but I'm not suicidal!" said Jebediah as he pulled off another lock.

"Is it something to do with Illasticonian crystals?" I asked. Jeb looked up and stared at me, appalled.

"Why the hell would you ever think for one second that using those is a good idea? That's more than suicidal!" I was still wondering what exactly Illasticonian crystals were, as Jeb had mentioned them with a similar attitude several times. I was about to ask but Evelina spoke first.

"So, what exactly is in there?" Jeb put the last lock in the drawer to his side.

"It's a Deployable All-Atmospheric World Exploration Vehicle, abbreviated as DAAWEV in English. In Kerbal it sounds menacing."

"That doesn't tell us anything," I said.

"It's a very small SSTO designed to be able to explore most atmospheric worlds. But in order to fit that functionality into such a small space," he began opening the door, "We had to build some... dangerous... technology."

"Coming form the people that store antimatter like it's gasoline," I pointed out. The door was open. It led to an airlock. We all stepped in and Jeb shut the outer door.

"The ship that I am about to show you has a large amount of liquid hydrogen, a nuclear reactor, an unshielded direct cycle nuclear ramjet, and an unshielded laser induced inertial fusion engine."

"You had me until the fusion part," said Evelina.

"Oh boy. So you know how a nuclear rocket works, right? Well, instead of using fission to heat the propellant, it uses fusion. And spews neutrons all over the place."

"And - "

"If I have to spend three weeks telling you how it works we're not going to have time to save the galaxy! Anyway - Once I open the other side of the airlock, we'll be irradiated as I turned the reactors on remotely to save time. I'll have at most seven minutes to get into the cockpit, which is shielded by the nuclear reactor, before I experience significant damage. You two will be fine unless you take an hour."

"Wait, the nuclear reactor is the shielding?" I asked.

"Well, there's structural stuff in there too."

"And the seven minutes is with these heavy suits?" Evelina asked.

"You know what, let's just go. Go through the cockpit to the passenger compartment. Obviously I'll be the pilot." With that, he opened the hatch and we found ourselves in the dark cargo bay of the Legacy II.

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"Wow... It's so.. so..." began Evelina.

"Oh, sure, take your time with admiration, it's not like I'm being baked to death right now or anything!"

"Right."

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I moved forward and climbed quickly inside the DAAWEV, into the passenger compartment which was hopefully shielded enough so that I wouldn't die instantly. Evelina entered shortly afterward, Jeb at her feet practically shoving her in. He shut the hatch and sighed with relief.

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"Okay, we're coming up on our landing site. Opening bay doors. Undocking." There was a long clang. "And, jetting forward."

"What kind of RCS does this thing use?" asked Evelina. "Meta-fusion, hall effect, quasi-stable quantum whatever? Maybe even antimatter?"

"Actually, just normal hydrazine." There was a thump as the DAAWEV hit something. "Oh."

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"Don't tell me that this thing won't fit!" I said.

"They got it in here somehow, I can get it out." There was some worrisome scraping and clanging as Jebediah fired the thrusters. Eventually, the DAAWEV exited the cargo bay.

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"Okay, the DAAWEV is free!" said Jeb.

"We need a better name for this thing," I said.

"How about Wyvern?" suggested Evelina.

"What's a Wyvern?"

"It's a type of dragon that has two legs instead of four."

"Okay, then. Wyvern, it is."

"Here goes nothing," said Jeb. We waited earnestly for something to happen for several seconds. "Err... Technical difficulties with the inertial fusion system."

"What sort of - " There was a sudden roar from the back of the ship.

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"There we go! Inertial fusion active! De-orbit burn in progress."

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"Wait a second..." said Evelina. "I'm going to visit America!"

"I'm not taking you to see anything cool!" said Jeb.

"I've wanted to visit America for a while... But I never thought it would happen quite like this." The engine shut down.

"We're beginning the re-entry sequence. This thing shouldn't melt, the DAAWEV - or Wyvern - is coated in an extremely heat resistant paint. Which we may or may not have chipped when we exited cargo bay."

"You're supposed to be reassuring us, Jeb!" I said.

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"What city is that?" asked Evelina.

"Despite being an American, I have no clue." A few more seconds passed and the re-entry flames started.

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I was looking at our velocity and was somewhat alarmed by the fact that we weren't showing down much. That and the heat gauges. Jeb, as if reading my mind, said "It's been forever since I've flown one of these, I forgot that it's more of a brick than a plane."

"Can you land it?" asked Evelina. Jeb turned around (somewhat disconcertingly as he was flying us through re-entry), looking somewhat offended.

"Evelina, I am Jebediah Kerman. I can land anything! I landed a particularly aggressive moon once!"

"You meant to say "On" a moon, right?" asked Evelina.

"Pssh, landing on moons is easy. Landing moons is quite a bit harder." I began to ponder how exactly one would land a moon on something before I was interrupted by the craft suddenly spinning, causing the g-meter to raise dramatically. It reminded me of my first spaceflight, on the so-called "Hype Plane," all those months ago, mere hours after the Kerbals had abducted all of humankind...

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"Okay, good news and bad news," announced Jeb. "The thermal paint is intact. Mostly. But due to unexpected turbulence, probably due to the fact that only a 100 meter diameter sphere around the craft is not jell-o, we're going to fall short of Kirtland. But we do have an infinite range jet engine, so we should be good. We can get there at the amazing speed of three kilometers per second. We'll just have to irradiate some more air." There was a loud bang. "Ah, that was the ladder exploding."

"You mean melting," I said.

"No, I'm pretty sure it exploded."

"Why do you need to build a ladder out of explosives?!?"

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"Let's just slow down a bit so we can cool off." I agreed with him, that seemed like a good idea. After a one or two minutes of deceleration, the Wyvern was now "just" supersonic. Jeb leveled out. "Okay, firing up nuclear ramjet. To Kirtland!"

And then nothing happened.

"Err..."

"We seem to be having a lot of technical difficulties today," said Evelina. "When was the last time this craft was flown?"

"A few decades if we're lucky."

"And when was the last time it had maintenance?" asked Evelina.

"I may be a galactic representative and one of the best pilots in the galaxy, but I don't know everything."

"Wait... Are we stuck here now?" I asked, beginning to panic.

"No! Well, maybe. It's probably an easy fix, the reactor is working, just not the engine. I think. I wish Bill was here."

"I mean, worst case scenario, we're stuck on Earth," said Evelina. "How's that going to be different than the first decade and a half of our lives?"

"I hope you like Grape Jell-O," I said.

"It's not actually Jell-O, you know," clarified Jeb.

"So, what now?" asked Evelina.

"We land and try to fix it. I mean, really, what kind of a question is that? It's sort of obvious, if something mission critical is broken, you try to fix it."

"Do you have tools?" I asked.

"Uhh... A few."

"A few?"

"Like, two. If you count a calculator as a tool."

"I have a Swiss army knife," said Evelina, "one I actually bought in Switzerland."

"You mean you've been carrying around a knife this whole time?" asked Jeb, slightly concerned.

"It's a tool, not anything for nefarious purposes. It's got screwdrivers, pliers, scissors, a few different, uh, cutting devices, tweezers, and who knows what else."

"Kirtland will surely have tools, it's literally an air force base," I suggested.

"The only problem is that our current trajectory will put us about 150 kilometers south of Kirtland."

"That's got to be a vast desert!" I exclaimed. "We'll be miles from anything!"

"Speaking of our trajectory, say hi to the troposphere."

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"Ahh... I'm still sure I can land this thing, but these clouds are rather thick. Just as a precaution, can anyone spot anything that is easily visible on the surface, as a reference point?"

"We're in the middle of the desert, the best we could possibly do is a large rock. There's nothing out here!" Evelina said. I began searching out my window, which was mostly blocked by the liquid hydrogen tanks. But a few seconds later, in the middle of some odd looking terrain, I spotted something small and black.

"Hey, Jeb! Starboard and downward, something black-ish!"

"Roger." The Wyvern turned. "I have a visual. Thank you, Ethan."

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The next minute or two were pretty tense, as Jeb circled the strange object. As we grew closer, it resolved into a weird sort of tower. An obelisk maybe. In the end, however, the cloud layer ended just above the surface and we didn't need it as a visual marking for landing.

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The ground grew nearer, at a worrying speed... This vehicle was definitely brick-like. We bounced once. Twice. Three times, and then settled down.

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The brakes activated, kicking up sand. Once we had slowed to a reasonable speed, Jeb turned the craft towards the tower.

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"Just a random tower in the middle of nowhere, that doesn't seem quite right," Jeb said.

"It's a bit cloudy out," I said.

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"Hold on a second," said Jeb. A second later, the sky cleared in an instant.

"How did you do that?" I asked.

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"I've told you several times, if I explain every single bit of technology we've invented, we won't have time to save the galaxy." The Wyvern stopped a few dozen meters from the strange obelisk. "Alright, the reactor is in standby mode, so you should be fine to exit the craft. At this point you should be able to hug it and not receive a lethal dose of radiation for at least a few hours." Jeb opened the hatch and air flooded in.

It was a poetic moment. Despite having been back to Earth once before, I had not breathed the air, as it had all been Jell-O. And it would have been extremely poetic if I had gracefully climbed down the ladder, gazed around, and taken a deep breath of the fresh, warm desert air.

Except the ladder had exploded so I fell onto the sand.

"Ow!"

"Oh, right. Evelina, can you retract the landing gear, please?"

"On it, Jeb!"

==========

Okay, I really hope this is the landing gear button and not the "blow up the fusion reactor" button...

==========

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"Alright, first order of business, weird monolith thing," he said as he walked towards the strange object. Evelina and I followed him closely behind. It was at this point that I noticed a few small buildings, and a fence in the distance. It's a miracle we didn't hit the fence on the way down, actually... Why hadn't we spotted them on the way down?

There appeared to be two plaques on the obelisk. As we got closer, we could read the text.

"Hmm, it appears to be - " I began, and then stopped.

"Oh," said Evelina as she realized where we were.

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I shifted my gaze towards Jeb. His face fell as he read the plaques.

Image result for trinity site plaques

He did not speak for a while.

"Of course we had to land here," he said at last. "I knew about this, but... but... knowing and seeing are two completely different things."

"There's plenty of worse places we could have landed," said Evelina.

"But... Here I am, trying to steal nuclear weapons for a hopefully just purpose, and we land near a profound testament to... to... The destructive power and the perceived need to have it."

"Jeb, I think we should go before you get too - " began Evelina, only to be cut off.

"A memorial honoring the monsters who built and deployed these weapons. To the ones who allowed them to be used. To the ones who supported it!"

"It's generally agreed that the bombs saved more lives than they took," I said. I instantly regretted taking the conversation in that direction.

"How?"

"At the time, most experts thought Japan was not going to surrender without a massive invasion. The bombs are thought to have scared them into finally surrendering."

"And how many lives would this invasion have taken? A hundred thousand?" said Jeb.

"Many hundred thousands at the best." Jeb gasped. "Millions at its worst. Vastly more than the quarter million lives taken by the bombs."

"Guys, are we really having this discussion now?" asked Evelina.

"And if they were going to lose anyway, and suffer mass deaths, why didn't they surrender or talk it out?" asked Jeb.

"Because they believed that surrender was a terrible thing."

"Guys!"

"Why?"

"I don't know, maybe they thought that they'd be treated the way they treated their enemies."

"And how was that?" I was about to list off all of the terrible things that the Japanese had done, but I stopped myself. However, I could feel that Jeb sensed that I didn't want to say them because they were so terrible.

"Guys! Please! Just stop," said Evelina, "We can go on and on about the atrocities committed by humankind. And we can agree that the world would be an infinitely better place had none of them happened, but unfortunately, they happened, and we're stuck in a world where they did happen, and we're trying to deal with them. In dealing with each of them, we were faced with several options - and here, we were in a situation with no right answer. We had to choose between several evils."

"And Jeb, we're going up against The Species, who can be said to be the ultimate force of evil. You said it yourself, you want to have weapons by your side.  And here, the allied powers were up against an enemy force that would stop at nothing to destroy them. You condemn their solution, yet embrace it yourself."

"That's... That's different. The bombs would be like bug bites to The Species... Not even that... Would they? Would..." He collapsed to the ground.

 

I had never seen a Kerbal cry before.

 

"Jeb, I'm sorry, I didn't mean - "

"I'm such a hypocrite," he sobbed.

"I'm - "

"No right answer," he continued. "How could the evil required to warrant such evil exist?"

"I don't know, Jeb. But here, it does."

"And nobody thought to stop them? Nobody thought to talk it out? How do people bad enough to do these things get put in charge?"

"I don't know, Jeb."

"And the ones who obeyed their orders... How... Why..." He stood up and walked towards the Wyvern.

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"Jeb, what are you doing?" I asked.

"Fixing the plane, of course. It needs doing, and maybe it will distract me."

"Here's the kni - I mean, uh, multitool," said Evelina, holding out her Swiss army knife.

"And you offer me another weapon!" shouted Jebediah.

"Just because it can be used as a weapon doesn't mean it was designed as one," said Evelina. "The Wyvern would be a weapon far worse than anything humanity has built if you used it correctly." Jeb stopped climbing and considered, before shaking his head, defeated, and pulling out his one tool, a screwdriver. He began opening a panel on the engine.

"Bring me my helmet," said Jeb, "And get yours. If I have to go deeper than one layer it could get dangerously radioactive, despite the reactor being in standby mode."

"Roger," I said, continuing to feel terrible for having brought the whole thing up. It wasn't my fault, I tried to tell myself. I didn't cause the Wyvern to have landed here... Although I had spotted the obelisk. I hadn't fought the wars... I hadn't built the bombs. I hadn't killed anyone. But why did I feel so bad? As if I had done all that stuff, although it had happened many decades before I was born?

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"Alright, compartment one is open. I'm running diagnostics... What idiot put the diagnostic checker inside of the engine... I'm looking around in here and I can't see anything out of the ordinary... Oh. Never mind, it's just a fuse." He popped the old one out and put a new one in.

"Really? Just a fuse?" I asked.

"Should be," he said. I thought for a second - this would be really funny if it weren't for the circumstances.

"So, what now, Kirtland? Or do you just want to get out of here?" I asked. Jeb stopped and stared into the distance.

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"I... I..." He turned and walked towards the cockpit. Five seconds and he was inside. Seven and he was strapped in. Eleven and the gear were down.

"Jeb?" I asked, walking towards the Wyvern. I had taken my helmet off.

"Take this," he said, tossing me a small metal device. "It will keep the Jell-O away. Don't touch the Jell-O or you might get stuck in time and we may not be able to rescue you. I will be back in a few hours."

"But Jeb, I - "

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There was a loud noise as the direct cycle nuclear ramjet roared to life. The hatch clanged shut and I ran for cover, as my helmet was off and that thing was spewing radiation, but the only cover nearby was Evelina. Fortunately, I had the sense to go for my helmet instead of hiding behind her.

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The Wyvern gained speed, and after a short distance, took off, circled once, and then took off like a bullet, travelling... northwest.

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"There he goes," said Evelina. Neither of us said anything after that for a while. The Wyvern disappeared over the horizon a few minutes later, followed by a trail of orange longer than the radius of the unfrozen bubble - meaning that the Wyvern left a visible line behind it.

A short while later we talked and agreed that based on direction, he was probably going to Japan. At a speed of 3 kilometers per second, we worked out that it should take him 2-ish hours (estimating distance, neither of us knew geography too well) to fly there and back, plus some time to look around.

Ten hours later he still hadn't shown up. We made a guess. He saw what happened there and decided to see whatever else he could. Morbid curiosity is a real thing, and he had a jet with infinite range. There was no way to know where he was going, but one could guess. He was about to see with his own two eyes the aftermath of all humanity had to offer.

Cambodia. Poland. Iraq. Berlin. Stalingrad. Nanjing. Korea. Vietnam. New York. Of places like them, there was certainly no shortage... We figured for an hour at each, and travel. When all the places we thought he could have traveled to ran out, we figured for two hours at each place. We slept (a bit difficult in a hot desert where the sun doesn't set due to the whole planet being frozen in time), tossed rocks, fiddled with our suits, played endless games of tic-tac-toe in the sand, made towers, talked... And ran out of things to do. I would have worked on my journal, but I had not brought my Kpad down from the Legacy II, and it would surely be dead by now anyway.

After the second time we slept, Evelina complained of lightheadedness. I noticed it, too. To test my theory, I ran around for a bit and found myself exhausted after just starting. I realized that, because of the limited size of the unfrozen sphere, we must be slowly using up the oxygen inside it. It was a problem that could easily be fixed by picking up Jeb's device and walking a bit. What couldn't be fixed was our complete lack of food and our dwindling supply of very old water contained in the suits.

After maybe three days, who knows, into Jeb's journey, we spotted the orange streak returning... From the East this time. After circling once, he landed and pulled up next to us, switching off the Wyvern's jet. We walked up to it, and Jeb exited the craft, letting go of what remained of the ladder, falling to the sand. He made no effort to get up.

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"Jeb?" asked Evelina. He did not respond for several seconds. But eventually he sighed, and spoke.

"I think I understand now." He sat up.

"Jeb - " I began.

"Hush. The existence of the Galactic Union was built on the ideas that violence, even retaliatory violence were the ultimate evil, and that all violence can and will be prevented, without additional violence."

"Jeb, I - "

"But somehow, we have never had to deal with the idea - the fact - that sometimes the growth of evil cannot be stopped without evil, and that evil can grow into a large force that cannot be reasoned with, never in a million years."

"Um - "

"We did not know about the fact that such evil can exist. That's why we're so unprepared for it. Because we don't believe it can exist. It shouldn't exist. Nobody in their right minds would want it to exist. But it can. And does." He stood up.

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"Jebediah!"

"But it exists."

"I - "

"Yeah, you heard me right! It, somehow, despite the good tendencies of almost every single intelligent being known, exists!"

"We - "

"And as Evelina said, sometimes there is no right answer when going up against an unreasonable force."

"We need - "

"Were humanity's violent responses towards violence right? No. Were they the best option? No. But was it necessary to do somethingAgainst evils so powerful? I say... yes."

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"I understand why humanity decided to use nuclear weapons. I am not saying that they were right. And I wish I could forget all I have seen... More atrocities than I thought could be possible in this galaxy. There is a memory erasing device available... But there is a human saying. "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." And because of this experience... I believe I now have a better sense of what we lose and gain each time we may attack The Species. I thought I was ready for this war before. But I wasn't. I'm still not ready now... No one in their right mind could ever be ready for a war, especially one as big as this one... But I am as ready as I will ever be now." We both waited a few seconds to make sure he was done with his proclamation.

"That was an amazing speech," I said.

"I agree with you, Jeb," Evelina said.

"But can we get some food now?" I asked. Jeb's face turned from one of dramatic solemnness into one of concerned disbelief in about zero seconds flat.

"Oh, shoot! How long have I been gone?"

"Three days, maybe?" said Evelina. "Human days, not Kerbal days."

"I am so, so, sorry. Here," he said, pulling some rations out of his pocket. Evelina and I attacked them without mercy. Jeb watched us wolfing down the rations for the better part of a minute. "How did you manage to get those open... I never can!"

"Hunger will do that to a person," said Evelina, talking through a full mouth. Jeb grabbed one for himself and tried to open it, without success.

"Ahh... I left the opener in the Wyvern." I took it from him, but since I no longer super desperate, I found myself unable to open it as well. I passed it back to him.

"Here," said Evelina, passing Jeb her Swiss Army Knife. Jeb held it for a few seconds, examining it. He fiddled with several of the attachments, observing their every motion, before selecting one of the knife blades and gently slicing open his ration bag. He closed the knife back up, held it up to the light, and passed it back to Evelina.

"It seems like a very useful tool, indeed. I may get one at some point."

"So, back to orbit?"

"No. We're going to Kirtland." I was surprised at this. Jeb must have noticed my expression, as well as Evelina's. "Only because the species is so powerful that in comparison these weapons might look like toys. And this is not a decision that I make lightly... But it is a decision that must be made."

"Well..." I began, at a loss for words.

"No right answer," Evelina said. "Sometimes, the only way to peace is through the fire"

He held up his ration bag. "To peace." We held up our bags as well.

"To peace," I repeated.

"To peace," Evelina finished. We touched our ration bags to each others. And then Jebediah brought both of us into a very strong bear hug.

"Come on, let's get out of here," he suggested, "And never speak of this again."

"Time to steal some nuclear weapons," I said. "Quite possibly the only time in human history anyone's had a good enough reason to do so."

"One small problem," said Evelina.

"What now? Is there something else I haven't seen? Something else I haven't considered?"

"Uh, no. The ladder exploded and you forgot to retract the gear."

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"Also, um, how much of the planet did you irradiate?"

 

==========

Please update me, X.

Part one of the plan is complete, Y.

And how much energy did this require?

Enough to blow a small fuse, enough to slightly glitch the temporal suspension field, and nothing more. The trio has now faced and partially resolved a severe moral dilemma, one crucial to the plan's success.

Good. When will part two take effect?

Not for several days. The Heroes will continue on the right path until then. But we must prepare.

Elaborate.

We must prepare two light TL-11 space fighters. Expendable. Remotely piloted.

I will notify Z. It will be done.

==========

Jackie kept running across the surface of Kerbin. Her journey has not been forgotten. She had become a small celebrity, and had stopped many times along the way, for interviews, appearances, and the like. Due to these stops, and the fact that many of the publicity stops were not directly on her route (or anywhere near in places), she had only completed eleven percent of her quest - to circumnavigate Kerbin via running.

And she still didn't know that her decision to run would impact the lives of everyone in the universe. Nobody did.

 

Not even The Species.

 

 

 

Edited by Ultimate Steve
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