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LOST on Laythe - Chapter 17 - Guess Who's Coming for Dinner


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Chapter 1 - Doomed

Chapter 2 - Time's a tickin'

Chapter 3 - Around the fleet

Chapter 4 - Moment of drama

Chapter 5 - The Green in the black

Chapter 6 - Spanner in the works

Chapter 7 - One down

Chapter 8 - Two to go

Chapter 9 - Thumbs Up

Chapter 10 - Val's down

Chapter 11 - Static

Chapter 12 - Snappy Dresser

Chapter 13 - Field Trip

Chapter 14 - The Box

Chapter 15 - Siren Song

Chapter 16 - The Hatch

Chapter 17 - Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

Chapter 1 – Doomed

The results were in, there could be no doubt.

The mystics had read their tea leaves and run for the hills.

The scientists had studied the data, run simulations and run for the hills.

The talking heads had listened to the mystics and the scientists, then grabbed their microphones... and run for the hills.




Emergency statement: Regarding recent discovery and the way forward.

The discovery made just a few days ago has been a shock to everyone on Kerbin. Comet Tiddles (named after the late Dr Tiddles Kerman) is on a collision course with our world and the results will be devastating. In just 42 days our encounter with Tiddles will result in a firestorm of destruction, the likes of which we have never seen. The surface of Kerbin will be rendered a lifeless ball of rock, leaving us but one option if we wish to preserve something of our species.

We must make a new life on another world and that world is Laythe.

This will not be a new beginning for us all, only a select few. But those selected will carry with them the seeds of our species’ future and our hopes.

Dr Stranlow Kerman: Chairman - Kerbal Institute for Astronautics (KIA) Year 976 Day 329.



Laythe Orientation and Survival Techniques (LOST) - Mission summary

The Team

The LOST team will be composed of three member of each of the following disciplines

·         Pilots – As much as we'd prefer not to send any of these thrill seeking jokers, we had to give the team at least some chance of finding its way to Laythe.

·         Scientists – The original plan was to send three members of KSC management (they were insisting due to the whole apocalypse thing) instead of a scientific team. We resolved that issue using a tasty looking cake, a storage closet and duct tape.

·         Engineers – These will be responsible for mining minerals from the surface of Laythe and processing them into materials for the colonists. We had hoped to send more scientists instead (specifically the senior members of the KIA), but the engineers wouldn’t give us details on the techniques they use to get the converter units so productive, so we’re stuck with sending them.


The vehicles

Four vehicles will carry the members of the LOST team to Laythe, three of them controlled directly by a pilot, while one will follow autonomously. This last vehicle really complicated the mission, but we didn’t want the scientists and engineers complaining about the pilots having an extra player for games night.

·         The lifter – A vehicle capable of flying from the surface of Laythe to orbit and back again. We don’t know what use this will have to a team of colonists, scraching out a new life on the surface, but the pilots insisted we give them “a ride” worthy of their skills.

·         The Plant – The mining and processing plant will supply the needs of the colonists. Engineers are pretty territorial, so the pilot and scientist members of the team have been warned to keep their hands off it.

·         The Lab – A fully equipped research laboratory on wheels, that will allow the scientists to gather samples from their new home and find out if there are any surprises to reveal. However we suspect it’s just a pretty standard hunk of rock, with some gas wrapped round it. The scientist members of the team want it to go on record that it is not “a school bus”.

·         The Hab – A module providing accommodation for the colonists, as well as a common area for the three parts of the team to interact. Corners of equipment have been covered with cushioning materials and all surfaces easy clean, in case of disagreements on the colony becoming a little heated.

In addition to these four vehicles, attached to the lifter on its journey to Laythe, will be two rover vehicles. The pilots have “called dibs” on these, as these are “real rides” and not “a school bus”.


The Schedule

With just 42 days until all of us on Kerbin must answer to the Kraken, there will be no time to lose preparing the four vehicles for departure to Laythe.

Careful design, testing and manufacture; concepts which the KIA has adhered to strictly in it 162 missions (9 fully successful); will need to be replaced. The new order of the day will be grabbing what we have from stores, slapping it together and hoping it works.

Launch of all four vehicles from the KSC will be in 19 days, with departure from Kerbin orbit to Laythe 1 day later. With the use of the new F-12 series Complex Harmonic Endothermic Atomic Transductive engines, journey time to Laythe will be only 21 days. This will allow the colonists a few hours to enjoy life on the surface of their new home, before their old one bites the big one.

Should the accuracy of the predicted time of our impending doom be off just a smidge (orbital mechanics is hard after all), additional supplies and possibly colonists may be dispatched to the LOST team.

Good luck and may the Kraken be with you.

Jerman Kerman: Mission Director

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Chapter 2 - Time’s a tickin

“Is that Flamin’ Kamin hot sauce I can smell?” – Jebediah Kerman.

The lights at the KSC blazed day and night, as all effort possible was thrown into preparing the LOST vehicles for launch. There was no time to be lost in getting Kerbalkinds future into orbit.

One after another the four vehicles, were moved into position in record time, before making the leap into orbit.




What the boss said.

MEMO: FAO pad preparation crews.

It has been noticed that some members of the pad crews have been hiding out behind the O2 tank, south of the pad. Both between and during launches, said individuals have been observed playing cards and generally larking about.

May I remind you guys that you have jobs to do... for the next 23 days anyway.

I know the great maw of the Kraken is opening for us all, but that’s no excuse for slacking off!

Jerman Kerman – Mission Director.


MEMO: FAO pad preparation crews.

Now that the pad bridge club has returned from behind the O2 tank, we are getting back on schedule and our brave colonists might just make it Laythe on time for our fiery demise.

While on the subject of cooked flesh, can the pad crews please refrain from using the launches as an opportunity for a barbecue. The guys in the VAB are skipping meals to get the launch vehicles ready and the smell is driving them crazy.

Jerman Kerman – Mission Director.


MEMO: FAO cleaning staff.

Since news of the arrival of comet Tiddles and the resulting destruction of our world became public knowledge, an increase in graffiti in the KSC bathrooms has been noticed.

Please make every effort to remove these before the coming apocalypse. Priority should be given to those stating “I’ve got Jerman’s memo right here” accompanied by some obscene imagery.

Jerman Kerman – Mission Director.




What the papers said:

“What the coming apocalypse means for your portfolio”

The Ekonomist.


“The colour to wear this season when meeting the Kraken”

Kerbin Fashion Monthly.


“Double doomed - comet Tiddles plus pink eye outbreak”

National Physician.


“Don’t panic, it’s a government scam”

Kerbal Enquirer.

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  • 2 months later...

Chapter 3 - Around the fleet


 “They only remember who gets there first” – Valentina Kerman


The Plant


“Roger flight, I have the vehicle in view” came the reassuring tones of Jebediah Kerman’s over the speakers at the KSC.

“Greeaaat Jeb, good to hear” boomed the voice of Gatler Kerman, a kerbal who took the need to speak in a strong clear voice to aid communication, to the extreme.

Jeb winced at this sudden blast of noise in his left ear and pulled the headset back, as a precaution against the next auditory onslaught.

“She’s getting mighty close there Gat... you sure you guys have your burn numbers correct” replied Jeb, concerned that the rapidly approaching fuel ship was about to turn the mining ship he commanded into ball of shrapnel.

A moment later the engine on the fuel ship erupted into life.

“This one’s gonna be close” Jeb muttered, as the relative speed display on the console rapidly shrank, though not as rapidly as he’d like.

Jeb watched the numbers tumble as the fuel ship, with its vital supplies, drew ever closer. He wasn’t one to be nervous in the face of imminent peril, but he had a perfect flight record and didn’t want to lose that hard earned statistic.

Finally the blazing light at the rear of the fuel ship ceased and its massive bulk sat motionless, some 20m from the pod window. That one had indeed been close.

Jeb quickly yanked his headset away from his ear again, as a loud sound of cheering and cork popping sounds erupted from it.

“Riiiight on the money there Jeb... some interns are gonna be real happy with that one” boomed Gatler, before his voice was replaced by the sounds of clinking glass and palms slapping palms, in what Jeb assumed were premature high fives.

The KSC was missing a lot of staff these days, with some blaming the approaching cataclysm for their absence. However many more were in hospital with injuries resulting from the Mission Director’s attempts to speed up launch preparation. But most were out of action as a result of attempts by pad preparation crews to make cocktails out of the ethanol, the older rocket engines used.

Due to this there was a shortage of qualified staff for many positions at the KSC. The solution was to promote interns to full staff positions and fill the remaining gaps by declaring every day as “bring your child to work day”.

“Hey there Gat, we’ve still got some work here to get this big slug of fuel docked, so don’t start that party down there too early” pointed out Jeb, concerned that interns plus champagne did not a recipe for a successful  docking make.

“I’ll do what I can” Gatler replied “but the dance competition is starting and I think I’m in with a chance”.

Jeb shuddered at the thought of the very overweight Gatler, making any kind of motion, let alone dance moves.

“So this is going to be down to me then” he muttered to himself before switching the Remote Tech unit to local select and preparing to dock the fuel ship himself.


The Hab


“Nope... won’t need that.”

“Not a chance, you took a bite out of me on that trip to Minmus.”

“Hmmm... not sure what you are, but don’t like the look of you.”

These and many other utterances from Elson Kerman, the pilot assigned to the Hab ship, signaled his disquiet at some newfangled piece of equipment aboard his vessel. With each snarling remark at the controls of the vehicle, a ship system met an untimely deactivation.

Not one for change, his motto was “if it ain’t on, it won’t kill you”, was something he had lived by for a considerable time, enough to make him the oldest pilot in the program.

Elson’s distrust of new hardware was only matched by his disdain for those who designed it. In its early days Kerbin’s space program had been relatively incident free (at least fatality free) and he attributed its escalating toll on the roster, to the desire of KSP engineers to try out the latest shiny piece of tech.

“So how you doing Elson” came the muffled voice of Gatler at the KSC. Elson’s many years in the program had given him the foresight to reduce the megaphone level of the controller’s voice with a sock, duct taped into the speaker.

“Just fine, just fine” responded Elson, having turned off the last piece of equipment that seemed superfluous to the journey to Laythe.

“You sure... you don’t want us to send up an old valve radio, so you can rip out the comms unit” chuckled Gatler.

“No thanks, just fine here” replied Elson, having heard all of these jokes many time before.

“How about some flying goggles and a leather jacket?” responded the KSC controller, not giving up on his attempt at hilarity.

“Like I said, it’s all good...” said the Habs pilot, before being cut across by the voice from the ground.

“I’m sure we could get the techs here to reconfigure those engines to use coal” continued Gatler, breaking into a broad laugh.

With that Elson flicked the switch that turned off the comms system, leaving him in the faint glow of the almost entirely deactivated console.

In the safe soothing darkness, Elson stared out of the cupola’s main window and contemplated the mission ahead.


The Lab


Given its low mass compared with the other vessels that would soon be bound for Laythe, the LOST mission’s Lab ship had been placed in high orbit above Kerbin.

One of its occupants, although at that moment not strictly speaking occupying it, coasted leisurely alongside the LOST mission’s scientific vehicle, as the two of them circled the home planet.

Gelsey Kerman, the product of Kerbin’s most prestigious universities and a member of KSP team for almost 10 years, was having a wonderful dream. She dreamt that she was gently bobbing up and down in the waves of the warm southern oceans, without a care in the world. Certain there was no impending apocalypse, no mission schedules, nor work of any kind to be done.

Just a warm blue ocean, clear blue skies and the gentle movement of the waves.

All of a sudden the dream was shattered by an ear-splitting whistling sound.

“Hey Gelsey, wake up, you got work to do” boomed Gatler voice, out from the scientist’s suit headset and into her surely perforated eardrums.

“Huhwuh, er, hmmm... no, not time for school, just five more minutes...” started Gelsey dozily before a sound like nails across a blackboard and a ship’s fog horn had a baby, erupted from her headset.

“Time to get at it Gelsey, you fell asleep again and that GravMax’ll be no use to you guys later if you don’t calibrate it now” instructed Gatler seriously; for once not having time for any kind of nonsense.

Having woken from her lovely slumber, Gelsey realised that the undulating waves of the ocean was in fact misfiring thrusters on her backpack, that by sheer coincidence had put her into a slow, undulating roll, but kept her just 20 metres or so from the Lab.

Using the approved technique of reaching her arm around and giving the backpack a good thump, the thruster misfire ceased, as well as increasing the amount of air indicated by the gauge on her suit by half an hour.

“Well, at least it didn’t go down” the scientist muttered, before maneuvering towards the ship, to carry out the calibration on the GravMax .


The Lifter



Another member of the LOST team coasted alongside the vessel that would take them to Laythe and all that it held for the future of kerbalkind. But this one had not time to listen to the KSC and the “voice of boom”. She she had work to do and no time to be interrupted, so had turned off her comms.

Her ride was going to be a little different to the science vessel the pilots called the “School Bus”. It was going to be made for speed, to enable it to get to Laythe first.

This wasn’t a priority for the mission, but it certainly was for Valentina, its pilot.

Having spent her entire (albeit short) time in the program, in the shadow of Jebediah and his spotless flight record, Laythe was one destination she was determined to be the first to set foot on. She had pulled in every favour she could with the mission planning team to arrange for her vehicle to be the first to arrive at the watery world.

But this bit of scheduling skulduggery was going to require her to make some “on orbit alterations” to her vehicle, to achieve that goal.

The main one being to remove any unnecessary mass from the vehicle, a task she had set about as soon as she’d made orbit. She started by dumping her least favourite snacks out of the airlock, but even with the size of kerbal appetites, for the big wins, she was going to have to strip the ship of some equipment.

A bolt here, a panel there wasn’t going to cut it; she needed to think big.... big as in those four rovers that were awkwardly attached to the nose of the ship. These would provide ground transportation on Laythe, but for now they were just dead weight. For a while she considered cutting all of them loose, as they were making a mess of the aesthetics of her vehicle. However she realised that she might be able to explain how two of them got lost in transit, but all four might be pushing it a bit.

Plus when she got to Laythe, those rovers were going to be some sweet, sweet rides.

Edited by purpleivan
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Great work! I have greatly enjoyed your stories. They always combine great looking screenshots with excellent plot making for a very enjoyable read. I'll be looking forward to reading more of this one. Keep up the good writing and photo-shopping. :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Chapter 4 - Moment of drama

"Tension, it's all about tension" - Jebediah Kerman

The Call

All of Kerbin, well those who hadn’t fled for the hills, or were laid up due to apocalypse party incidents, listened to the voices of the LOST team and KSC communicator Gatler Kerman, with baited breathe.

“Ok let’s do this” boomed Gatler, to the team in the KSC control room, as well as the waiting press, “let’s get these guys to Laythe”.


“Mining?” shouted Gatler in the most dramatic voice he could muster “go or no go”.

“Mining is go!” replied Jeb Kerman in a calm and much quieter voice.



“Hab... go or no go” inquired Gatler of the next ship in the fleet.

“Hab is go!” came the answer from Elson Kerman.



“Lifter... go or no go?” Gatler asked, as he ticked the box next to the word “Hab” on his clipboard.

“Lifter is go!” responded Valentina Kerman then muttering “let’s go already”.

Gatler ticked the following box.



“Science... go or no go?” Galter inquired of the of the last vessel on his list, his pen hovering over the final tick box.

Silence met the communicator’s question, with just a little static.

The communicator stared at his microphone for a moment before repeating the questions. “Science... go or no go?” and  started to nervously his pen on the console.

Still no reply from the fleet’s science craft, this was not going according to the carefully laid out plan.

“Science... go or n...” started Gatler, before a voice came of the speakers at the KSC.

“Science vessel is ready for departure Gat” confirmed Gelsey Kerman.

Gatler shuffled his ample rear end in his chair, a little annoyed at the scientist’s failure to use the approved wording for her response, before replying “Roger that Gelsey”.

"LOST IS GO!" thundered Gatler, ticking the last box on his clipboard with a flourish.


Gelsey chuckled to herself, a sly grin crossing her face.

 “Why did you keep them waiting” asked Sindley Kerman, fellow scientist and Gelsey’s sole companion on the trip to Laythe.

“Why not” replied Gelsey. “The first ship doesn’t leave for 2 hours... we don’t go until tomorrow. But pilots just have to have their moment don’t they.”

Gelsey thought back to the 3 days spent in discussion and planning meetings for the “We are go” moment and the reams of documents that accompanied them.  Some of these now lay in the trash can in her quarters back at the KSC, their title pages poking out of the top of it.

Mission Plan (LOST): MPL-23-A

Stage 18

Pre trans-Laythian burn (TLB) status check.


LOST Crew Discussion Document:  CDD(LOST) 12.

Proposal for inclusion of EDM (Exciting Departure Moment) in Mission Plan.

Proposer: Valentina Kerman

Seconder: Jebediah Kerman


LOST Crew Discussion Document:  CDD(LOST) 26.

 “To go or not to go... that is the question”.

Meeting to discuss suitable wording for EDM.


Briefing Document: EDM -4a

Re: Communication of flight status prior to TLB.

Amendment to Tension Building Pause (TBP) time, following “Go no go” requests.




The hours, minutes and finally seconds ticked by, and in turn each of the four craft in the LOST fleet ignited their engines and made their trans-Laythian burns.

The first to leave was Valentina, whose favour buying at the KSC had got her to the front of the queue.

Next was the Mining vessel, with Jeb at the controls, who chalked up yet another textbook departure for another world.

A few minutes later, Elson Kerman started the engines that would propel the Hab towards his crews’ new home. A process that he’d reduced from a plethora of buttons presses and switch flicks, to a dab at a single button, followed by shorting a couple of wires under the console.

Finally, almost a day after the other’s had departed, the science vessel, with Gelsey and Sindley aboard, received the signal from KSC ,that ignited the engines and sent them too on their way.


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  • 3 weeks later...

Chapter 5: The Green in the Black

“A depressed cat... I mean, is that really entertainment” - Coslin Kerman

Small things matter


“Roger that Jeb, we see that as well” came the voice of the KSC’s communicator over the speakers of the mining ship’s command pod, somewhat quieter than normal.

Jeb looked at the speakers a little smugly, each of which had a pair of socks stuffed into them. He was pleased with his resourcefulness in muffling the sound of the Gat’s overly loud voice. However this was tinged with guilt over sneaking them out of Voyler’s quarters, but his need for socks was greater; he had a ship to fly after all.

What Gatler Kerman had seen was that the mining ship Jeb commanded had just passed through its closest point to Tylo, precisely on schedule.

 Another box that Jeb could mentally place a tick in.

The F12 engines that all the LOST ships were equipped with had done a fine job in whisking Jeb and Voyler to the Jool system in a fraction of the time with normal ones.

It wasn’t known exactly how these new engines provided the thrust that they did. They seemed to draw more energy from the fuel than it actually contained; something scientists not on the development team said was a bit of a problem.

Those on the team that had developed them (more accurately found them in crates at the back of a storeroom, marked “Do not open until apocalypse”) said that was just old school thinking. To them science wasn’t about following rules, it was about breaking rules and hell raising. In particular breaking speed limits near the KSC in the sports cars that the huge bonuses the F-12’s “development” had brought them.

In the end the official explanation was that the Kraken must have “fiddled with the stats”, but whatever the reason, they were taking the LOST team to Laythe in weeks rather than years.

After swinging by Tylo, the turquoise orb that was Laythe steadily grew in the view from mining ship’s command pod. Having spent much of the trip in her quarters, Voyler joined Jeb in the command pod to get a good view of their approach..

“Sooo... we gonna be there on time” drawled Voyler in the distinct accent of the Northern reaches of Kerbin.

“On time, but not the right orbit” grumbled Jeb. There had been an error in the measurement of Tylo’s mass resulting in slightly less affect on the ship’s trajectory than had been planned.

“Aw nooo, but we’ll be ok like” enquired Voyler, wondering what the incorrect orbit might mean for the mission.

“400 metres...” began Jeb before being cut off by his crewmate.

“We gonna orbit at 400 metres, will we still be able ta land” enquired the engineer.

“The orbit’s too high by 400 metres” answered Jeb, annoyed by the small error, but also more than a little disturbed that the engineer responsible getting them fuel once on Laythe, didn’t realise a 400 metre orbit would be more than a little catastrophic.

“Awww... that be ok then” said Voyler, clearly relieved at the news.




As the mining ship approached Laythe, Jool had the appearance of a great black disc, with Kerbol hanging just off its narrow limb. The sight would have been foreboding anywhere, at any time, but for two kerbals, venturing further than any previous mission, with their home planet about to be decimated; it was enough to send a shiver down their spines.

Contrasted with Jool’s dark mass, the turquoise limb of Laythe was a welcome sight, one that grew rapidly by the minute.

“Ok there Jeb, 30 seconds to LOI burn” said Gatler, his voice weaker than normal, due to the apocalypse partying having run out of the good stuff, leaving the KSC with just the pad crews’ “special brew”.

Voyler glanced at the speakers the communicator’s voice came from and recognised the items stuffed into them.

“Jeeeb, why are me socks shoved in...” she started.

“Can’t talk... ship to fly, species to save” Jeb blurted out, partly due to his need to concentrate on his preparations for the burn, but mainly to avoid the sticky subject of sock theft.

Jeb’s fingers danced over the console, making last minute adjustments to the burn, then moments later the F-12 engines burst into life, bring the mining ship into a circular orbit of their new home.


Opinions and theories


As the mining ship entered orbit around Laythe, the second vessel to enter the Jool system was making its way inward.

The Hab would provide the main living space for the LOST team and by the standards of most kerbal craft was spacious.

Space to live, space to play, space to slink away and sulk, or right now... space to argue.

“Season 8 and you know it” shouted Coslin, one of the LOST team’s engineers.

“No way, season 10” retorted Bill, a fellow engineer and seemingly a believer in the theory of everything is better in bigger numbers.

“What” exclaimed Coslin, thumping the table, causing her to float up out of her seat “The mystery of the singing shoe... All’s well that ends ill... The saddest cat... THE SADDEST CAT... are you crazy”.

“The saddest cat is one of best, you’re just to daft to understand it” replied Bill, annoyed that a fellow fan of “Kit Kerman, Space Detective” failed to appreciate the humour of one of his favourite  episodes “The saddest cat”.

“Everyone knows the show went downhill after Jolin got hit by that sign” insisted Coslin, referring to Jolin Kerman, the 3rd of 5 actors to play the title role in the show’s 12 season run.

Jolin Kerman’s unexpected demise came when signing autographs at the gate of Anchor Studios; the makers of the show. The famous anchor fell from the sign over the gate, crushing the star and setting off yet another search for a good looking, but overweight actor (the portly director of the show refused to have anyone skinnier than him play the part) to fill the role.

“Ok... let’s just ask Bob” suggested Bill; certain that a kerbal of his intellect couldn’t fail to see the many strengths of the show’s tenth season”.

The pair glanced nervously at the door to Bob’s quarters, before concluding that a guy who’d locked himself away for almost the entire journey, probably wouldn’t be too pleased being asked to settle an argument, even one as important as this.

Kit Kerman Space Detective had a rabid following of highly opinionated fans, who liked nothing more than to theorise about the “deeper meaning” of the show. Although it was a highly formulaic detective procedural, the series of strange accidents that befell its leading actor, as well as the sets being burnt down 3 times, and a string of truly appalling scripts, led some to believe that the show was cursed by the Kraken.

Others theorised that the show was being conspired against by “those in the know” who they believed were trying to kill it off before it revealed a dark secret about the history of kerbalkind.

Still others, identifying as the Brotherhood of Kalkan, held that the pattern of incidents that befell the show, when appropriately transformed using a form of mathematics no-one understood (or they possibly made up) predicted the date of the apocalypse. To them “The Saddest Cat” was a pivotal episode.

Given that comet Tiddles was on route to its fiery encounter with Kerbin, interest in the Brotherhood had spiked recently.

The argument raged over the coming hours, as the vessel raced through the system, en-route to Laythe.




Bob Kerman gave a deep sigh as he exited the airlock of the Hab ship. After closing the hatch, he used his suits thrusters to manoeuvre to a couple hundred metres from the vessel, then rotated himself to face it. Beyond the Hab lay the great green bulk of Jool, finally being seen in its true colour, as the vessel made its way through the system. Over his suits' comms connection to the command pod, he could hear the argument between Bob, with his Brotherhood leanings and Coslin, a firm believer in “the curse” in the background.

The mission’s lead scientist turned off the comms unit and finally floated in blessed silence.

No more arguments no more noise, no sound at all... just my thoughts.

No please... not my thoughts.

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  • 1 month later...

Chapter 6 - Spanner in the works

“Oh no... we’ve got another one” - unnamed: accounts dept, propulsion division KSC



First one bleary eye opened, then the other and then both jammed shut again as the light from the cabin light hit Gelsey’s retinas.

“Oooo” came a familiar voice from the command pod, that lay the other side of the door of Gelsy’s quarters..

“Aaaaaah” came the voice again.

Even in her sleepy state Gelsey recognised it as that of her fellow passenger on the trip to Laythe.

“Oh Gat, I wish you could see this, it’s sooo amazing” the voice exclaimed.

“Errrr... you what... erm... sorry there Sindley, got distracted for a moment” came Gatler Kerman’s voice from the lab’s speakers; less deafening than usual.

Truth be told, Gatler had nodded off for a moment. This was partly due to the recent shift to the launch crew’s “special brew” as the drink of no choice at the KSC. But it was mainly because Sindley had spent that past 20 minutes giving him a blow by blow description of the Lab’s approach towards Jool.

“It’s soooo green... you know the colour of the grass in the western hills on a spring morning after the rain. It’s even greener than that” described the scientist.

“Roger that ... green” responded the KSC communicator.

“But with bands of white, that make it even more wonderful” continued the scientist, in not so scientific language.

“White... gotcha” replied Gat, wondering if this tale of colour schemes was going to continue all the way to Laythe.

“I... I think it’s a little larger than before, and the colour is so...” started Sindley, before a voice cut her off.

“Mornin’ there Gat, so how’s thing’s looking, are we good for the Vall burn?” asked Gelsey, as she entered the pod,  giving the poor communicator a reprieve from her fellow scientist’s Jool observations.

“Oh... er... thanks there Gelsey... and to you Sindley, lovely description... like I was right there with you” replied Gat, secretly thanking the Kraken that he wasn’t.

At least speakers had an off switch.

“Let me see, let me see... Vall” began Gatler. “We’ve got a small correction to your burn that we need to pass up to you... don’t want you getting too much of a good thing eh” chuckled the communicator. The “good thing” referred to being the gravity assist that would swing the science vessel into the correct trajectory for their Laythe encounter.

“Hey, you can never have too much of a good thing Gat” chuckled Gelsey, “except if it leaves you stuck in Kerbol orbit with no fuel”.

Gelsey took a look at the console of the pod, most of which was covered in clear plastic sheeting, the glow of the displays beneath blurred by it to be almost unreadable. Her attention came to rest on the big switch, just left of center of the main panel marked “remote operation”. This switch was in the on position, glued in place by a huge blob of adhesive.

“Ok there Gelsey, if you set your AR203 to receive and high-band locked, we’ll update you for the burn” instructed the communicator.

The AR203 was the successor to the much respected (in some quarters at least) AR202 flight control unit. This unit had been a huge success, performing faultlessly on the two missions on which it was flown. To celebrate this feat, the Union of Pilots and League of Flight Industry Technicians rounded up every unit for a “special event”. With these technical marvels in hand they headed out in the dead of night and buried them in a deep hole, high in the mountains West of the KSC.

The successor model; the specifications of which were agreed on after much negotiation, had the same basic flight control capabilities of the 202. However instead of the unit making the calculations for a vessel and controlling it autonomously, a pilot was required at a remote control unit to manually set up all burns. All 203 RCU’s had a card slot on the side, into which a pilot would slide their UPLIFT card (Local 17 for launches from the KSC), unlocking the unit for operation.

At the KSC, young pilot Tomard Kerman sat at the remote control unit. He reached forward took the union card from his wallet and slid it into place, then proceeded to set up the remote control unit for transmission of the new burn settings to the science vessel’s 203.

While this was going on Gelsey and Sindley set about making things ready for the incoming flight control update.

Then suddenly... everything went black.


For a moment there was silence, as the two scientist floated in the pod of the science vessel, lightly bathed by the oh-so green hues of Jool.

Then... noise.


“WHAT DID YOU DO?” shouted Sindley, suddenly her voice less fanciful and more accusatory.

“What do mean, what did I do?... you think I turned out the lights for dramatic effect.” replied Gelsey.

“Well, I mean I didn’t touch anyth...” began her crewmate.

“Or maybe I decided to pulled a random breakers JUST to see what would happen” continued Gelsey.

“But...” Sindley started.

“Or perhaps I just wanted a clearer view of Jool’s verdant glow” said Gelsey, more than a little mockingly.

“Well, it is very verdant, I mean it’s an amazing thing to witness so far from Kerb..” started Sindley.

“Stop!” exclaimed Sindley’s crewmate “New rule... no prose of the universe stuff while I’m around  to hear it”.

“But that’s not fair, I’m only trying to descri...” began Gelsey’s rather brow beaten colleague.

“Shhht!... what did I say?” demanded Gelsy.

“Errrr... no more prose of the universe” replied Sindley dejectedly.

Gelsey looked towards one of the areas of the pod’s console not covered in plastic sheeting, that housed the ship’s system status board. There glowed a swathe of Jool like green lights, but two glowed an angry Duna red.

“Great... main power bus and the high gain are out.” Stated Gelsey before asking her crewmate “so which do you want to take”.

“I erm...” began Sindley, relieved that Gelsey’s haranguing had come to an end. “I’ll take the high gain”.

Sindley headed for the airlock in the lab module, and Gelsey started to go through the checklist for resetting the breakers, many of which had been thrown, to bring main power back online.

Just as she was exiting the pod, Sindley turned her head towards Gelsey.

“I’ll get a wooonderful view of Jool from out there” before giving a wink and launching herself towards the airlock.




Sindley gazed at the green white marble of Jool as it hung in the blackness, accompanied by the blue of Laythe, the grey of Tylo and the blue/grey of Vall. It was as if a giant child had been playing with them, when suddenly called to dinner, leaving them floating in the void.

No time for such thoughts though, the Vall encounter was only a few hours away and that antenna needed to be fixed before then, to receive the burn update.

With a small nudge of the thrust on the underside of her backpack, Sindley drifted upward, to get a closer look at the RA-15. This was a piece of equipment that she was well acquainted with, as it had been the stock solution to the problem of getting scientific data home to Kerbin for many missions.

As she drifted upward, her shadow spilled out unrecognisably across its oblique lower surface, then gradually morphed into a clearer rendition of her shape, as it move up towards the center.

There was no obvious cause of the problem with the high gain dish, no apparent damage, or signs of anything coming loose. Sindley realised that she needed to take a look at the underside of the unit, where it was mounted to the ship. But that would take some doing, as the gap between the dish and the fuel tanks was pretty tight.

Manoeuvring herself in close to the fuel tanks, she tilted her head to peer into the darkness beneath the dish. She flicked on the lights mounted on her helmet, wincing for a moment at the sudden brightness.

She looked over the mounting and the cable connections to the antenna and everything seemed fine. Finally she saw something that looked a likely source of the problem. Wedged into an exposed part of one of the guide motors was what looked like a piece of paper.

She stretched he arm out to grab hold of it, but then noticed a spark jump from the motor across the paper into the mount, and thought better of it.

“Gelsey, you’re at the breaker board aren’t you?” she asked over the suit’s comms.

After a moments silence, the voice of her crewmate came over her headset.

“Er, yeah, why’d you ask?”

“Could you pull the breaker for the RA-15... just the motors, don’t need to take down the whole unit” she replied before continuing “there’s something stuck in one of the motors and I want to pull it out”.

Gelsey gazed across the breaker board until she found what she was looking for and snapped one of the breakers into the “Off” position.

“The motors are out now, should be safe to work on Sindley” came her crewmate’s voice, sounding far less shrill than it had when she’d been inside.

“Roger that” replied Sindley before reaching into the gap to retrieve the object.

After much stretching and wiggling of stubby fingers (hers were stubby, even for a kerbal) she grasped the piece of paper and pulled it out from the motor.

She held it up in front of her helmet, its lights illuminating it in the shadow of Kerbol. She couldn’t make out what it was at first. There was something written on it, but she couldn’t read it, then realising it was upside down, she twisted her arm to correct its orientation.

Now she could see that the piece of paper was a speeding ticket.

Name: Jumlin Kerman


Home address: Kerbin (c/o KSC, propulsion division.)


Offence: Exceeding the posted speed limit


Details of offence: Travelling at 93m/s in a 30m/s zone.


Payee Details: Send it to KSC accounts dept... F12 Ruuuulz!

Not understanding what a speeding ticket was doing jammed into their antenna mount, Sindley flipped it round to look at the other side and found her answer. Scrawled on it barely legibly in black marker were the words.

Give Bill back his spanners


Remember one way ticket


Do before launch


Clearly Mr Jumlin had stuck it to the vessel as a reminder and forgotten to remove it. Hopefully he didn’t forget to give Bill back his spanners too Sindley thought to herself. Engineers get very possessive about their tools.

Once back inside the science vessel, Sindley and Gelsey brought the antenna back online,  so were able to receive the burn update from Kerbin. For some inexplicable reason of spacecraft wiring, the speeding ticket becoming wedged into the motor as it slowly rotated to track Kerbin, had caused a short to the main power bus, bringing down power throughout the vessel.

Engineers Gelsey thought.

Can’t launch with ‘em, can’t launch without ‘em.

Edited by purpleivan
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Chapter 07 -  One down

“Fuel heater coil... about yay big” – Pad crew chief KSC




Voyler Kerman sat nervously, strapped into her seat waiting for what was about to happen.

Jeb Kerman sat behind her at the controls of the mining vessel that had crossed millions of kilometres to a planet never visited by Kerbalkind. With the future of the species at stake there was much weight on his shoulders. However he’d never failed to stick a landing, so there was that perfect record at stake to add a little pressure too.

Clocks ticked down, dials spun and fingers drummed in anticipation on the console, then finally... it was time.

One green finger jabbed one orange button and the F12 engine at the base of the vessel burst into life and the vessel started to descend.

With all of its equipment and tanks, the mining vessel was the heaviest of those of the LOST colony fleet. Descent was going to be the longest and the hairiest, hence it being given to the KSC’s premier pilot.

Jeb’s face, although calm, was intensely focused on the console in front of him. Voyler however had nothing to do but contemplate the task that was about to be attempted. With no window to look out of, she relied on a small console to her side to keep her updated on the events of the landing.

With just a few seconds to go before the descent burn was complete, there were a series of jolts that shook the whole vessel. Worryingly a small red light appeared on Voyler’s console marked “fuel pressure”.


Some weeks earlier in a card game on Kerbin, a young member of the KSC pad crew was chatting about the little project the crew had going on behind the big O2 tank. That project required much tubing, junctions for tubing as well as heaters, if the coming apocalypse was to be “fully fueled”.

There had been many item to procure, some of which were in short supply,

“So you get one?” enquired another of the card players, a six of Duna and a pair of Kraken Widows in his hand.

“Sure” replied the young pad crew member “couldn’t get one from storage, but I found another... don’t think they’ll miss it”.

“Great work... now pass me that jug, you’re lookin’ at a thirsty guy here” said the card player with a grin, beckoning with his free hand.


Back in the present, on a vessel plunging through Laythe’s atmosphere, Voyler Kerman was not grinning, in fact she was panicking.

“Jeeb, Jeeb, we got a warnin’ light here... we got no fuel pressure”.

The fuel might have had no pressure, but right now Jeb Kerman had plenty of it. His perfectly timed descent burn had quit on him early, and they were going to overshoot the landing site, so he and Voyler were headed for a heavy watery impact.

“Well do what you can to get me some” snapped Jeb “I can’t fly this thing without fuel”.

After a moment he realised there was some flying he could do. He gradually pitched up the heavy vessel to give a bigger profile to the air it was rapidly passing through, in order to increase drag. It would buy them some time, but they were still on their way to a watery grave without some fuel.

Voyler looked over the console; but as the vessel shook, from its angry angle of attack passing through the atmosphere, much of it looked a blur to her. Finally she caught sight of something that looked like a solution. She tapped a small blue button on the console and fuel started to flow once more, bringing the mighty F12 back to life.

“There ya goes Jeeb” shouted Voyler over the noise in the pod, noise that was already diminishing as the pilot swung the vessel to its normal angle for descent.

“Ok I think I’ve got this” replied Jeb as he finished orienting the vessel to point retrograde once more to complete the descent burn.

 Finally, the fuel exhausted, the F12 cut out and the mining vessel was on course for a landing on something solid, even if it was a few kilometres away from the planned landing site. Many weeks had been spent by many scientists and mission planners back on Kerbin, to pick that landing site. But where they were now headed, was where they were going to stay.




Minutes later, after passing through the upper atmosphere of their new home, the mining vessel spewed forth a display of orange and white billowing above it.

The chutes had survived the fiery descent and now held the vessel in their reassuringly draggy hand.

In the build up to the launch of the LOST fleet, the fine fabric that these parachutes were made from was in short supply. Rumour had spread like wildfire that the material was favoured by the Kraken, and so it would spare those wrapped in it, on comet Tiddles arrival. That or or at least make their end a swift and painless one.

The rumour started as a joke by a late night comedian, but rapidly went from humour, to rumour, to accepted truth by many.

With supplies short, the LOST planning team had to skimp here and there on the precious cloth, with one such cut back being to the mining vessel. Instead of the required number of chutes for a gently touchdown of the bulky craft, the landing would be assisted by a short burn of the F12, to bring it to a gentle stop on Laythian soil.

However Voyler’s little blue button was marked “Landing Reserve – Transfer”. With just moments to go before touching down Jeb adjusted the throttle setting of the F12 and jabbed the engine ignition button on his console to bring it back to life.

Kerhpuuut...pthhhh sounded the engine, followed by a sound much like the last dregs of a milkshake being sucked through a straw.

“Voy what do you see, she won’t light” shouted Jeb.

Voyler looked at her console, all the fuel readings were solid red bars, with the numerical readouts all a discomforting “0.0”.

“It be ok Jeeb... jus a moment... jus a moment” replied the engineer, reassuring herself as much as her crewmate.

Voyler could see the landing radar’s display of the distance to the ground below them falling faster than was comfortable, or safe. But there was nothing she could do except grip the armrests of her seat tightly, screw one eye tightly shut, the other glued to the descent speed indicator, and hope.

“It be ok... jus you see... be ok” murmured Voyler, finding the repetition soothing.

“Be ok... be ok... be Ow!” said the engineer as the vessel came to a shuddering halt as the landing legs hit the ground. Hydraulic rams were pushed, metal groaned and fillings in heads shook, as the mining vessel came to rest on the surface.

The first Kerbal vessel to hit Laythe seemed to be in one piece but was going to need an inspection of the landing legs and the structure they were attached to at least.

“You ok there Voyler?” enquired Jeb, clear concern in his voice.

Voyler unscrewed her left eye and slowly released her grip on the armrests before exhaling deeply “Yeah Jeeb, I’m ok... I’m ok”.

Having checked that the vessel wasn’t about to topple over, Jebediah Kerman took a deep breath and uttered the words that kerbals everywhere we eager to hear.




“LOST is on Laythe KSC... I repeat, LOST is on Laythe”.

For a moment there was silence at the KSC as they took in the moment, then the sound of glasses clinking, hands slapping and whoops of joy filled its buildings. All their hard work was paying off and some kind of future (other than a fiery demise) seemed to be in store for at least some of their species.

On the Hab, Coslin and Bill stopped their heated Kit Keman discussion, while Elson sat across the table from them, smiled and took a bite out of large slab of chocolate he’d brought for the occasion. Bob Kerman, still floating along outside the Hab knew nothing of the arrival, as his suit radio switch was still firmly in the off position, to block out the sound of Bill and Coslin.

On the science vessel Gelsey and Sindley hugged for a moment then returned to their observations of Vall as it receded behind them, its gravity swinging them on course for Laythe.

Meanwhile... bring up last place was Valentina in the Lifter, who stared out of the cockpit window, wondering what it must be like to be first for once.

Edited by purpleivan
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The way you portrayed the "kerbal-ness" (semi-organized chaos, F12 engine, prophetic television shows, etc.) of it all is quite comical. The screenshots, of course, are the usual PurpleIvan Quality™: simply stunning.

I am very much enjoying it so far and looking forward to more in the future, especially the part when they discover that "Tiddles" isn't actually going to hit Kerbin.

Edited by GearsNSuch
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Chapter 08 – Two to go

“Make that two rolls, we got a lot of console to cover” – Jebediah Kerman



Sindley and Gelsey Kerman were huddled around a small screen mounted on the console of the science vessel’s command pod. The view it showed was from a camera mounted on the rear of the vehicle, and the view was breathtaking. A half illuminated Jool hung over the limb of the blue green expanse of Laythe that filled the lower third of the screen. With Jeb and Voyler safely on the surface, the time for Sindley and Gelsey to join them was just moments away.

“Ok there Gelsey, I’ve got a good signal and burn is in 30 seconds” came the voice of Jeb Kerman over the pod’s speakers.

“Good to hear Jeb, everything’s ready up here” replied Gelsey, glancing at Sindley and mouthing “yeah?” to see if there might be any last minute thing that she might have missed.

“Yes... all good here, hope you have a beautiful landing site for us down there?” enquired Sindley “wonders to explore”.

“Weeeeell... if you call an endless expanse of brown dirt wonders, then I guess we’ve got plenty for ya” replied Jeb.

“Oh fantastic... can’t wait to get down and see it” answered Sindley excitedly.

A small pause followed before Jeb’s voice came over the speakers again. “Ok kids hope you’re strapped in tight ‘cos we’re just 10 seconds from burn”.

Sindley looked at Gelsey, nervousness apparent on her face, her fingers tapping rapidly on the armrest. Clearly the descent to the surface worried her, even if there might be “wonders” down there as a pay off.

Back at KSC the communication between the two vehicles was being monitored, but they kept silent, so as not to distract Jeb from his task of controlling the decent of the science vessel. It also gave them a chance to recover from last night’s “Toga for Tiddles” party, so having nothing to do but listen was very welcome.

“Ok, time for this school bus to go for a field trip, in 3, 2, 1” said Jeb, counting down the de-orbit burn.

The F12 burst to life, its dull roar rumbling through the structure of the ship. Sindley and Gelsey stared at the console, watching their ground speed steadily tumble as they were  pressed firmly into their seat backs. with the rapid deceleration. On the ground Jeb had his hands full... literally, as he held the sticks mounted on the remote control unit that communicated with the science vessel’s AR203. Good thing that he’d managed to find his UPLIFT card in time he thought, no idea how it came to be wedged between two wall panels at the back of the pod.

The science vessel was making a good entry through the upper atmosphere, with only an occasional adjustment required at the remote control unit. Jeb glanced at the burn remaining time that was steadily ticking down. 27 seconds to go and things were going well, certainly a smoother ride than his and Voyler’s ... so far anyway.

“20 seconds Gelsey” Jeb announced, giving her the time until engine shut off.

Gelsey thought about responding, but realised there was nothing for her to say. She and Sindley were just mass in the equation at this point, having no control over the descent of the vehicle. Just leave him to it she thought, he might be a pilot, but he was a good one and was more bearable than than most.

“10 seconds” came Jeb’s voice again.

Not long to go now Gelsey thought, a few minutes and were on the surface.

“aaand shutdown!” confirmed Jeb, as the roar behind the two scientists ceased.

Gelsey and Sindley scanned the parts of the console that was readable, for signs of mishap. No red lights, no numbers out of place... nothing. So going better than most missions Gelsey thought, looks like we might make it down in one piece.

Steadily the science vessel continued towards the surface, the navball, just about readable through the plastic, seemed to show them on a good track towards their target position. Then again, given the distortion through the thick sheeting, they could be way off course.

With its work done, the engine section was detached, and Jeb gave the vehicle a small rotation to pick up some drag, pulling it away from the track of the F12.

“How’s our descent path looking Jeb” enquired Sindley, wondering how much of a drive they might have to join the mining vessel at the colony site.

“Looking good... might be a couple K or so off, but no more than that” answered Jeb, clearly proud at the accuracy of the landing he was guiding them to.

“2 kilometres, not bad” Sindley said to Gelsey “time for us time to give the vehicle a good check out on the ground”.

“True, true” replied Gelsey although she’d prefer a landing bang on target, to minimise the time before meeting up with Jeb and Voyler. Sindley was ok to be around, as long as they were talking shop, but she missed good old meaningless conversation.

To protect the vessel during its fiery passage through the atmosphere, a large inflatable heat shield opened at its base. As the vessel descended, the molecules of Laythe’s atmosphere began to party around it. The universe’s own DJ was playing and the party was getting HOT, and more so by the second.

Gelsey looked at the plasma that swarmed around the vehicle, frequently glancing at the system status board for signs of trouble. Meanwhile Voyler stared out of the front window, equally terrified by the intense heat that was the other side of it, and entranced by the colour and flow of it as they descended. Gradually the glow around the vessel decreased, as did the buffeting it was receiving in its plunge towards the surface. The pair started at the altimeter, bracing themselves for the inevitable jolts that lay ahead.

Jolt one hit at 5,000m as parachutes ejected from their housings at both ends of the vehicle. Fortunately they were still attached by a myriad of tethers to the rapidly descending vehicle. Looking at the console the two occupants could see their rate of descent gradually decreasing.

Sindley stared out at the green sky, no stars, no great bulk of Jool to look at, just green. Sindley liked green, certainly more than the fiery orange of a few minutes ago.

500m and jolt two hit as the parachutes that rippled above them in the airstream billowed out into a display of orange and white that blocked out the sky.

“Sky” Gelsey thought realising something was wrong.

“Er... Jeb, shouldn’t we have lost the heat shield a while back” she enquired.

“What!” exclaimed Jeb “that should have detached at 10k”.

“Well before the chutes opened, we were still looking at the sky, not the horizon” replied Gelsey, sounding rightly concerned about the huge shield that was surely still attached to the rear end of the vehicle. “No way we can land with that on there, we’ll roll over on touchdown”.

“You sure you’re still looking straight up, you could just be disoriented?” asked Jeb, confident that these scientists couldn’t tell up from down without a calculator.

“Well my back is still being pushed into this seat and looking at the navball we’re pointing straight up” she replied, not liking the dismissive tone in Jeb’s voice.

Jeb wasn’t used to scientists taking an interest in the navball, especially one drapped in thick plastic wrap, so took a look at the matching display on the remote console in front of him. Gelsey’s was right, they were indeed still pointing skyward.

“Ok, ok... er, Gelsey, take a look at the upper right area of the console, there’s part with 3 blue lights and a row of dark green switches... you see ‘em?” guided Jeb.

Gelsey looked toward the part of the console that Jeb referred to “blue lights, blue lights, blue lights” she muttered, while searching. Finally her gaze came to rest on what looked like three blue lights, best as she could tell through the murk of the plastic

“Found them Jeb” she exclaimed.

“Ok, you see that row of dark green switches, you need to flick down the 3rd switch from the left end to manually release the shield” instructed Jeb.

Gelsey reached forward to press what looked like the 3rd switch. It was difficult to be see where one switch began and another ended through the plastic, but it looked 3rd, best as she could tell.

Jeb suddenly remembered the plastic that had been installed on the console just prior to the departure from Kerbin. “Best bet is to keep their fingers off aaaanything they don’t need to use” he remembered saying at the time. Maybe he’d been a bit hasty in that decision.

“Whoa there Gelsey, don’t touch anything!” Jeb shouted, sounding unusually panicked.

“What’s the problem” asked Gelsey, her index finger halted just above what was most likely the 3rd switch. Sindley glanced at her nervously, having noticed that they were already down to 300m, although thankfully that big shield was slowing their descent considerably, so buying them some time.

“You need to be real careful with those switches” Jeb warned “the 2nd switch cuts the chutes and the 4th is snack storage detachment”.

Gelsey instantly understood the gravity of the situation, button 2 was a deadly impact with the surface, button 4 would be days without snacks until a later ship from Kerbin arrived.

Both were fates not worth contemplating.

The scientist thought for a moment and asked what she thought might be a pertinent question.

“How many switches am I looking at on that row here?”

Jeb thought for a moment, trying to remember more clearly the layout of the cupola console. He wasn’t that familiar with it, as the cupola wasn’t what pilots thought of as a real pod; one fit for a pilot, even if it did give a great view.

“Three” came Jeb’s reply after a few seconds.

“Ok... just to confirm” Gelsey replied, sounding a little annoyed “it’s the third from the left, on a row of three switches”.

“Yup... third one in from the left” confirmed Jeb.

Gelsey shifted her finger over to the rightmost switch and flicked it down.




At that moment both Sindley and Gelsey wished that they’d not had quite such a big lunch to celebrate the upcoming landing, nor the snacks that closely followed it. The vessel was swinging and rolling wildly as it now rested loosely at one end on the detached heat shield. They were now pointing roughly in the right direction; they could see the ground now at least, if a bit too much of it.

“Jeb... urghhh... we’re looking at a lot of ground here... eroooh... I think we’re snagged on the shield” informed Gelsey; slapping a hand over her mouth, while trying to keep what was inside her stomach from being outside.

Jeb could see from the navball display that the scientist was indeed correct. 2 for 2 for Gelsey today... Go science!.

He took hold of the sticks on the remote control unit and started to roll the vehicle side to side in an effort to dislodge the shield.

Inside it, the two scientists could contain their stomachs no longer and hurled. Fortunately the console was mostly covered in plastic and largely below them at that point.

After several of these rolling motions, far too many for its unfortunate occupants, the heat shield broke free, causing the rear end of the vehicle to fall suddenly, coming level with the front. The jolt brought forth another fountain of partly digested snacks from the poor scientists, but at least they finally were looking at the horizon.

Free of the heat shield, the troubles of their landing were surely over.




Having a partiality to Kerby Krisps, the delicious snack of choice for many kerbals, Gelsey had been steadily eating her way through the stock of them on the science vessel since departure from Kerbin, in fact a couple of them were now sprayed across the plastic covered console.

These snacks were all stowed in the rear end of the science vehicle that hung below the (theoretically at least) well balanced array of parachutes. Unfortunately for the two scientists, Gelsey’s taste in chocolate treats meant that the front and slightly heavier end of the vehicle was slowly drifting to point towards the surface once more. Not so great an angle to jeopardise the vehicle and its crew, but enough to give them a less than perfect landing.

The front wheels hit Laythian dirt for the first time, scraping along for a moment before lurching back up, followed by the rear's hitting the ground, their suspension groaning under the sudden shift of weight. A pattern of lurching between front and rear wheels contact followed, lasting about 10 seconds, emptying what little was left in Gelsey and Sindley’s stomachs, before finally coming to rest.

Fortunately the brakes were on, stopping them from rolling down the slight incline that they had landed on. They had that at least.

After a moment to catch their breaths and compose their stomachs, the two shook hands weakly. They might have hugged, given they had finally landed on the planet that would be their new home, but given the state of their suits after their stomach churning ordeal, they thought better of it.

“Jeb, KSC... science vehicle here... we have landed on Laythe” Gelsey announced before slumping back in her seat and letting out a low sigh.

At that moment a tiny streak across the sky above them signaled the arrival of the Hab vessel, slamming into the upper atmosphere, to lose some speed in its encounter with their new home.

Two down, two to go.

Edited by purpleivan
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  • 3 weeks later...

Chapter 09 - Thumbs Up

"The Kraken... my fat green ass it is" - Bill Kerman.


Quiet for once reigned on the Hab vessel.

With Elson busy in the command pod while Bill and Coslin prepared for the landing; there was too much to do for idle chatter. Even Bob made an appearance, leaving the confines of his cabin, to help with preparations.

“Cupcakes 62.5” yelled Bill from number 1 of the four arms of the module. Breaking the silence to inform Coslin of the mass of the sugary snack contained in that section of the vessel.

“Kerby Krisps... 94” Bill followed, wondering how there was so much left of the delicious purple wrapped snack bars.

With the Lab narrowly avoiding a disastrous landing, caused by Gelsey’s fondness for Kerby Krisps, no-one wanted to take the chance of their own eating habits, putting them in similar peril.

So the list continued.

“Soft blue cheese... uuurgh...17” said Bill, pinching his nose and choking down his urge to hurl. This “delicacy” was a favourite of Elson, and the reason why he was rarely disturbed in the command pod.

“Ahhhhh... Flamin’ Kamin chilli dogs... so that’s where you’ve been hiding” exclaimed Bill, excited to find extra supplies of his own favourite.

“What’s the weight” shouted Colsin, seated in the central module, with a clipboard in one hand and a pen in the other.

“Er.. 24... make that, mrrhp... mmm... 23.5” replied a rather muffled Bill, having stuff a handful of the spicy snacks into his mouth.

Bill continued to shout out numbers and Coslin wrote them down, until all stores in that arm were accounted for.

With the Engineer’s work done, it was Bob’s turn to check supplies.

“Mini-corncobs 13.5... You get that Cosy?” asked Bob.

“Sure... 13.5” she replied.

“Toothpicks – 18” he shouted, wondering why such a large amount of the tiny wooded tools had been supplied for them. Then he imagined the horror of being stuck on an alien world with corn stuck in his teeth, and no way to remove it.

Bob continued, focused on his task, trying not to let thoughts stray.

Once the four arms of the Hab had been thoroughly checked, as well as the lockers on the walls of the central module, Coslin calculated the weight distribution for any imbalance.

“Looks like we need 86kg in Arm 3” Coslin announced.

Bob, realising this was close to his own mass, he took the chance to once again return to solitude, pushing off against the wall lockers behind him and floating off to Bill’s quarters in to Arm 3. Bill and Coslin strapped themselves into the seats mounted on the walls of the center module.

“Elson” Coslin called, “Bill and I are strapped in here, so good to go”.

“Roger that Cosy, how about you there Bob?” Elson called, waiting for confirmation that all those on board wouldn’t be slamming into the walls when he fired up the F12.

No reply came from Arm 3, not a peep.

“Hey Bob, you strapped in back there” shouted the pilot, eager to continue with the next point on his own checklist.

Still no reply, although Bob had been almost invisible and silent the whole trip, so it wasn’t unlike him to be so now. This fact considered, coupled with Bill’s experience, led Elson to assume that the scientist must be safely strapped in.

Bob was in fact floating near a window in Arm 3, wondering if he deserved this chance to escape the fate that lay ahead for most of his kind. Probably not he thought, but too later to do anything about that now.


Moments later Elson’s voice came over the speakers of the vessel.

“Burn in 10 seconds, so hold on tight”

“Huh... burn” exclaimed Bob and tried to push himself off against the ceiling towards one of the seats on the floor. Unfortunately he’d drifted just far enough from it, for to be out of reach as were all other surfaces.

“Uh oh... stuck” he thought, and then began franticly blowing as if trying to extinguish the candles on a centenarian’s birthday cake.

“Pfffffffft....pfffft” he continued, before the scientist in him realised the futility of the effort, and decided that curling up into a ball and just waiting for the inevitable was a better course of action.

“3... 2... 1... ignition” came Elson’s voice over the speaker, announcing a sudden burst of thrust from the F12’s, as well as Bob’s rapid transit to the floor.

“Owww... dammit” cried Bob, suddenly feeling that he hadn’t quite earned the wrath of the universe, certainly not one as painful and humiliating as this.

Pain from his rapid transit to the floor and the force squashing him against it. Humiliation due to his face being pressed into a collection of dirty laundry that Bill had left loose in his quarters.

“So... how long I can hold my breath?” he wondered.

Back in the center module Bill and Coslin were enjoying the ride far more than their unfortunate crewmate. For the first time in weeks they had a sense of there being a “down” and it was under the rear ends they were seated on.

Coslin beamed a sly grin at Bill, pointing at something on the arm of her suit after giving it a quick polish with her glove.

Bill leaned forward, as best as he could in the seats' belts, to try and get a better look.

“Kurse of the Kraken” ringed around the number 8 was emblazoned on a badge that was attached to the arm of Coslin’s suit who gave a thumbs up and a big smirk.

Wretched “Kriker Kraker” he thought, the truth of the show was far too meaningful for the likes of them, especially “The Saddest Cat”. Only Brothers knew the true meaning of that episode.

“The truth is the cat, in cat we trust” he murmured before flicking her a gesture that was definitely not on the HR dept’s approved list.

Meanwhile in the command pod Elson was busy monitoring the descent of the vehicle. In the weeks that it had taken to get to the world that they were now descending towards, he had disconnected all but the most vital of systems. He wasn’t going to let some over imaginative engineer spoil this landing with some last minute failure.

With the descent burn complete, Elson separated the drive section from the vehicle, then after checking that it was sufficiently clear of the vessel, deployed the inflatable heat shield.


As the vehicle descended, an orange glow of plasma gradually grew from the edge of the heat shield, soon blocking much of the view from the vehicle, of the planet below. Bill and Coslin stared into the fiery display, waiting for it to subside. In Arm 3 Bob stared at the floor with one eye and a particularly grungy looking grey sock with the other. He could make out some kind of marking on top of it, a monogram perhaps.

“B... K” he muttered, as best as he could, with the force of re-entry and what felt like the other sock in the pair pressed against his mouth.

“Ah... B.K for Bill Kerman... makes sense” Bob thought, appreciating the engineer not wanting his laundry getting mixed up with anyone else’s. In reality the monogram was a large B and K, separated by a tiny O that  combined formed the acronym of the Brotherhood of Kalkan. These were a sign of Bill’s belief in its teachings and his willingness to splash out a dozen funds on the snazzy footwear.


As the vehicle decelerated, it started to pitch over, gradually bringing it into its planned orientation for landing on the surface. Soon after, the parachutes deployed, further slowing its decent. This provided the opportunity for Bob to leave Bill’s quarters and move to the central module. Replacing the physical discomfort he had been enduring, with the emotional discomfort of being around Bill and Coslin.

For a moment his sombre mood was replaced by something approaching happiness, as he looked out of a window, to the horizon of the planet below. Perhaps he could get a new start there, even forgive himself a little. He’d had the best intentions with that experiment after all.

But the thought quickly gave way to the empty feeling in his gut that he’d suffered for so long. Not the emptiness of missing a 2nd breakfast, or even a pre-dinner snack, but that of feeling he never deserved to eat again.


Meanwhile in the command pod Elson Kerman looked out of the window, holding his arm stretched out in front of him, his thumb sticking out to one side.

“Errr... ” he muttered, sounding a little uncertain of himself "800".

“700, no 750” he continued, these numbers being the distance to the ground, as best as he could judge it, by wiggling his thumb up and down and squinting. He would have had an accurate figure for the distance from the landing radar, but he'd been a little over zealous in his disconnecting of any “unnecessary” systems in the pod, leaving him with just his thumb and eyeballs.

At what he judged was 500m, he opened the chutes and the hab slowed to 15m/s.

The surface grew steadily larger, as did the mining vessel, which was less than 100m from what would be their touchdown point.  The Hab was equipped with small landing motors, to bring it to a comfortable 2m/s for the touchdown, but were not powerful enough to lift it off the surface. So where it landed was where it was going to stay.

Elson felt a little smug that he’d managed to land so close to the intended landing point, with only half the electronics in the pod operating. Those kids in the engineering department could have saved a pile of money if they’d just stuck to the basics. However given the Kerbin's imminent demise, along with its currency, that wasn’t going to be an issue much longer. A lot of wasted mass though, enough for a couple extra crates of soft cheese at least.

Touchdown was close now, so it was time to fire up the motors for a soft landing.

“70.... 60... 50...” Elson counted down, estimating the remaining distance to the surface.

“Ok touchdown in 10, 9, 8, firing motors” came Elson’s voice over the speakers, as the vehicle slowed as the small rockets on the vehicle came to life.

“5, 4, 3...” he continued, before being interrupted by the landing pads making an earlier than anticipated impact with the surface. The hab shook and its gear groaned under the vehicles' weight, while inside the crew sank deep into their seats. They were a little dazed by the harder than expected landing, but were unscathed.

Elson quickly cut the landing motors, then made safe the other systems used in the descent.

Back at the KSC Elson's voice, came over the speakers of the control room. "KSC, this is the Hab. We have arrived at Laythe".

"Great to hear that" replied Gatler Kerman "everyone there in one piece" he enquired, taking into account the previous, eventful landing.

"We're all good here, we'll start stable station prep in a couple minutes" confirmed Elson.

"Ok, Val will be with you guys in 21 hours" replied Gatler.

In the command pod, Elson, having received the notification of Val's estimated arrival time, replied "Roger that Gat, 21 hours." He leaned back in his seat and stretched his neck

"Maybe I shouldn’t have disconnected that radar" he pondered. "Nah... I just need a bigger thumb".

Edited by purpleivan
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Chapter 10 - Val's Down

“I forgot to carry the two” – Unnamed intern at KSC


The LOST mission to Laythe had one vehicle left to land, the Lifter, piloted by a very unhappy Valentina Kerman. Her unhappiness being due to her failure to be first to reach Kerbalkind’s new home.

As this was likely to be the last mission that 99.9999% of her species would know of, she’d put a lot of effort into being the first Kerbal on Laythe. Being second to Jeb (yet again) she could have handled, but to arrive last, in what was the fastest of the four vessels, was too much for her to bear.

Her attempt to ensure her early arrival at the planet had begun weeks earlier, with a series of well placed bribes to some of the interns that were responsible for calculating the trajectories for the vehicles of the LOST mission. This had cost her a lot of canteen credits, as most of the interns wanted a chance to scoff down some of the choice meals that were prepared for those at the KSC with flight status. As a result she’d spent almost every day since Tiddles’ discovery making do with plain noodles, or onion soup. But with her skulduggery at the KSC and the stripping down of her ship in Kerbin orbit complete, she was all set for her boots to make the historic first steps on Laythe.

Well... that had been the plan.

While the launch from Kerbin had gone flawlessly, setting her up for a gravity turn at Tylo, and then a Laythe encounter, some 9 hours before Jeb’s in the mining ship, one little thing was due to throw a spanner in the works.

Either through forgetfulness, or as a result of overdoing it on the pad crew’s “Special Brew” the night before, one of the interns made a small error in their calculations. The intern in question was responsible for the burn that would take place at Tylo, to swing the Lifter towards its Laythe encounter. However the forgetful/hungover number wrangler forgot to take into account the effect of Val’s stripping of the ship for its speedy Kerbin departure. The result of which was the burn being a couple of seconds longer than actually required.


Hours after the burn had taken place, Val in the Lifter shot by Laythe at a distance far beyond what her near depleted fuel reserves could adjust for. Val sat at the controls of the vehicle, powerless to do anything, as she shot past her target. As the planet shrank from view, another, much larger object grew at an alarming rate.



Fortunately for her, the error by the unnamed intern didn’t send the Lifter into the atmosphere of the gas giant, but instead on a scenic tour over its rings. She had to admit it was an amazing sight, but one which she’d have gladly given up, to get that original Laythe encounter right.

Then once again a planet receded from view, while another grew. It was time for her to meet her old friend Laythe again.

It was now almost an hour since Jeb, a school bus of geeks and that old timer piloting the Hab had all beaten her to a landing. The one way she had left to prove her piloting prowess was nailing an accurate landing at the colony site.


Val’s landing was to be complicated by it being direct from approach to the planet, rather than a slower, orbital speed. This wouldn’t be her first “bolide barbeque”, but it would be the first without the aid of Kerbin’s global positioning system to establishing her location.

So for this landing, the radio signal from colony would be her only guide.

Note: Global Positioning System is accurate for small values of global, due to its lack of coverage of the polar regions. The decision to not cover the poles was taken on the basis that it’s too dammed cold there for anyone to want to visit.

The Lifter slammed into the upper atmosphere and was rapidly surrounded by a glow of plasma and with temperature readings rapidly climbing, Val deployed the inflatable heat shield. On her console a reading of the direction and estimated range of the colony was displayed which at first seemed fine, but as the vehicle descended, it was clear that her hopes of a pinpoint landing were going to be dashed.

Again it was the issue of the missing mass (that mass having been left behind in Kerbin orbit) that was causing the Lifter to decelerate more rapidly than planned.

Her only chance to correct for this was to deploy the parachutes late... very late, something that Val was prepared to take the risk of to pull of a touchdown bang on target. However this would significantly increased the chances of the vehicle (and its pilot) being smeared across the surface of the planet. But no risk no gain, right.

At first the late deployment seemed a viable plan, with the projected descent trajectory settling within a few hundred metres of the colony. However touching down there would be a short lived victory, as it would require a landing without the use of parachutes or the engine. So this “landing” would be more of a terminal, high velocity impact with the surface, killing all onboard and anyone close by.

Realising that she’d run out of alternative options except “die in the attempt and wipe out the colony”, Val let out a sigh and lazily plonked a finger on the Deploy Parachutes button. Above her pyro’s fired and sheets of orange and white fabric exploded from their casings.  As she stared out towards the horizon she could make out the location of the colony, with the Mining and Hab modules in place and what looked like the Science vehicle making its way towards it from the South West. But as the Lifter descended, the colony disappeared from view, beyond the horizon.

Finally the parachutes opened and her vehicle gently drifted towards the surface before making a perfect landing, something the other pilots had all had major problems with. However that small point was little consolation for the 17km between her and the Colony.


So this was going to be yet another time that Jeb would go down in the history books, but at least those books were back on Kerbin and in 3 days they were due to be wiped by the cleansing fire of comet Tiddles.

With that thought Val chuckled.

“Nothing like a clean slate”.

Edited by purpleivan
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  • 1 month later...
  • 2 weeks later...

Chapter 11 - Static

“Keep it coming... hot and black, I got work to do” – Tramley Kerman (software engineer)


“Repeat KSC?” requested Valentina, not quite making out the communication from Kerbin, over a burst of static.

“We confirm distance to the colony site at 17.6km” boomed Gatler Kerman, reminding Valentina of the scale of her disappointment.

“Roger that KSC, I guess I’ve got some driving ahead of me” Val replied, wishing that the she was due a shorter trip. But at least she’d get to try out one those sleek rovers, slung on the side of the Lifter.

“Ok, I’ll begin prep for EVA and resume comms at the hatch” informed Val, before tapping the small button on her headset, to break off communication.

Minutes later Valentina stood at the hatch with her hand on the main release lever, ready to swing it open, and after a moment of reflection said “KSC... I’m at the hatch, opening now”.

Something came over Val’s headset, but was blotted out in her mind by the sight of the world that stretched out before her. It was surely the same as that which she’s seen from the cockpit of the Lifter, but now she was about to step outside for the first time in weeks.

Before the mission to Laythe, Val had only landed on the Mun and Minmus. Jeb and a handful of other kerbals made it to Duna, Ike and Gilly, but this would be her first time descending to a surface beyond Kerbin’s backyard. At least Jeb hadn’t been the first to make it to Duna she thought, that record belonged to Malon Kerman and he’d made it there years before Jeb got some red dust on his boots.

Shame he was lost on the return trip though, but space travel can be a tricky business.

“Valentina, please respond” requested the loud voice in her ear.

“Err... sorry, please repeat KSC” she responded.

“Does the ladder look in good shape” enquired Gatler, wondering if it had incurred any damage during the fiery entry.

Val grasped the hatch frame in her left hand and leaned out to take a look down the ladder towards the brown surface.

“Looks good, no apparent damage”.

“Roger that Val, then proceed to the surface” instructed the KSC communicator

Val turned her back to the hatch and took hold of the handle at the base of the hatch frame, then tentatively swung a boot out into the void between her and the surface. It wasn’t that she was nervous of the descent, but she really didn’t want to take a tumble and have that 17.6km trip with a sore head.

Her boot hit the reassuring solidity of a ladder rung, then she grabbed the base of the hatch frame with her free hand and leaned back, before taking a step down the ladder.


Halfway down the side of the vehicle Val paused in her descent.

KSC, I’m at the panel and ready for release procedure” Val informed.

She reached for a small panel cut into the side of the hull, before using the small “press’n’turn” release catch that was so common on Kerbal craft. The panel popped open enough for her to flip it fully open with a flick of her thumb.

“Ok Val, proceed with opening the panel” Gatler instructed.

Way ahead of you, Valentina thought before saying “Panel is now open, ready for release”. She then pressed a pair of buttons simultaneously, triggering a small green light to illuminate, then a third button marked “Rover Release”. The two rovers that were mounted to the Lifter either side of her, gently slid down the side of the vehicle.

“Hmm... something’s not right” Val thought, “shouldn’t there have been a...”

She was suddenly cut off by the sound of Gat informing her “Don’t forget the design change that the safety team wanted, you need to press the Arm button before Release to fire the...”

“Explosive bolts... oh krak” exclaimed Val, remembering the last minute change in the release procedure, to give 2 points of commit before firing the bolts that would push the rovers away from the hull.

Krak indeed.

As the two rovers raced towards the ground, propelled by good old gravity, bu unaided by the explosive force that would have pushed them away from the Lifter, a loud scrapping sound made its way through the vehicle, up Val’s arms and into her skull. A moment later the scrapping stopped, as the pair of rovers cleared the hull, before a loud metallic crash, as the they made friends with the landing gear.

Close friends.

Val started descending the ladder as fast as she could.

“Can you confirm rover release and deployment Val” came Gatler’s loud voice, making for an uncomfortable fit alongside the panic it was sharing space with inside her head.

“Misfire, misfire” shouted Valentina, as she neared the bottom of the ladder, deciding to jump down and miss out on the remaining few rungs.

Her boots hit the ground, but not as hard as she was expecting, due to the slightly lower gravity than Kerbin. She turned and ran towards one of the rovers.


It was a worrying sight.

The explosive bolts that should have given the rovers a hefty push away from the Lifter as they fell (if Val had armed them first), had fallen with them and had struck the landing gear. These were now combusting at a more leisurely rate than planned. It was less like an explosion and more like a small rocket motor, one which was attempting to push the rover away from the Lifter That rover being held in place by its brakes.

The plume of gas and sparks from that small rocket was dangerously close to the landing gear.

Val’s impulsiveness in her release of the rovers had got her into a bit of a pickle, but her quick thinking was going to get her out of it.

She remembered that there was a brake release lever on each of the rover’s four wheels, to allow moving it without having to enter the vehicle. She raced around the rover, disabling the brakes on three of the wheels, and then ducked underneath it to get at the fourth on the far side.

She reached up to give the release lever a yank, then dropped to the ground as flat as she could in her bulky suit. The rover moved away from the landing leg pushed by the motor that threatened to melt it. Val stared up at the underside of the rover, as it slid past overhead. Her eye’s caught sight of a marking on one of the various panels on it.

There were a few words, but the word “Safety” caught her eye.

Yep she though... next time think “safety”.

After a few seconds the rear end of the rover passed over the top of Val, leaving her a clear view of the sky. She caught site of something to her left and turned her head to look. It was the vast bulk of Jool hanging in the sky.

“Well hello there Jool” she said to herself and gave a wink... “Oh krak!” she exclaimed, suddenly remembering that there was still another rover to deal with.


Valentina took off as fast as here boots would carry her to the other side of the Lifter.

On arriving there she found that the explosive bolts on the other rover were doing the same fiery display that threatened to damage one of the landing legs. Again she raced around, disabling rover brakes, but for the last one, rather than disable it from underneath; she pulled herself to her feet, pulled the lever and grabbed hold of the suspension mounting in front of her.

The rover headed away under the power of the slowly exploding bolt and Val went with it, hanging on to the back of it, as she had the overcrowded buses, where she grew up. There weren’t many people were she was from, but when there’s only one bus a day, it gets pretty busy.

After a few seconds the bolt burnt out and the rover started to slow. Val reached down and yanked on the lever to re-enable the brake, and the vehicle lurched violently round to the side, throwing Val off in the process, before coming to a halt.

Just like that old bus.


Sometime later Valentina stood near the Lifter, admiring the pair of rovers that she’d corralled after their unplanned excursion.

But there was work left to do before she could head off for the Colony site. First, Gatler had informed her that the science team wanted her to take a surface sample. She reached for the small touchscreen on her right arm with her left glove and tapped the text on it “Take Surface Sample”. This opened a small hole in the bottom of her boot into which the suit drew a small amount of the soil beneath it. That little sampler was a fantastic invention and avoided a lot of unnecessary bending.

After that she had to return to the Lifter to remove the final part of the equipment that had been attached to its exterior for the journey to laythe.

This equipment was the aero mast that was attached to the nosecone of the Lifter. This had allowed the vehicle to be controlled while sheltering behind its heat shield during the descent to the surface. Val was now sat at the controls in the cockpit, with her hand hovering over the Release Aero Package button, but before pressing it, wanted a little chat with the Gatler.

KSC can you confirm that aero package release procedure” she requested.

After a shot pause Gatler’s voice came over the speakers “errr... press button marked Release Aero Package” before continuing “everything alright up there Val”.

Valentina stabbed at the button and a satisfying jolt, followed by a bright glare emitted from above her.

“Everything’s fine here KSC”.


The aero package flew up and over to the side of the lifter, carried safely away from it by a small solid rocket motor. It crashed into the surface, flipped around a couple of times, before coming to rest on the surface.

With that last major task completed, Val took care of some housekeeping tasks on the Lifter, preparing it for her absence during her trip to the colony site.

KSC all systems made safe, master switches are off. Will now make way to Rover 2 and head for colony site” informed Val.

“Roger that Val, have a good trip” replied Gatler.


A few minutes later Valentina was in the driving seat of Rover 2, heading away from the Lifter and Rover 1. She had briefly tested one of the rovers on Kerbin and it seemed like a decent, if slow to accelerate ride. But now, zipping across the dunes of Laythe, with Jool visible out of the left side of the cockpit, it felt like it was where it truly belonged.

It was engineered to be capable of 35m/s, but had an advised max driving speed of 25. After her near disaster earlier, Val decided to play it safe and keep at around 30.

Communication between the colony and her had been out for the entire time she’d been on the surface; due to a software upgrade to while she was in orbit, knocking out short range comms. On the one hand this meant that she hadn’t had to go through some annoying “welcome to Laythe” speech from Jeb, but on the other she was really looking forward to speaking to someone other than Gatler.

Back at the KSC a young software engineer, barely old enough to remember the first landing on Duna, worked through the night on a fix to the comms problem.

The engineer coded, drank coffee, tested, drank coffee, tested some more... and drank more coffee.

The real stuff of course, this was not a decaf situation.

By 8:00am the lone engineer, drenched in sweat, partly from the pressure he was under to make the fix, but also the copious amounts of caffeine in his system, shakily hit the “submit” button, followed by “deploy”.

Moments later Gatler grabbed his microphone with a flourish that came from a kerbal who for the first time in weeks did not have a hangover; the pad crew’s special brew having run dry 20 hours ago.

“Ok there Val, we’ve got that update we’ve be promising ya. We’re ready our end, so just put your comms into Data Receive Mode 2” informed the communicator, eager to get communication up and running between all the vehicle of the LOST mission.

“Roger that KSC” replied Val “comms set to Data Receive Mode 2”.

Val waited, then waited some more, then finally the status light on the comms board marked “Local” lit up. At that moment a buzz of voices overlapping one another screeched through the speakers of the rover.

“... up any prune juice you can find at the store, and I’ll ferment it”.

“Hey the Kraken has good things planned for you, now if I can just get your credit card number...”

“No... it’s your pet, no way I’m going out looking for it in this weather”.

“The market’s down now, but that’s the perfect time to buy big and clean out the suckers”.

“... no way... he did, oh sweet, when Jerman see’s it he’ll pop an artery”.

“My name’s Simley and I’m calling to offer you a great deal on facial cleansers; everyone wants that clean green glow when they meet the Kraken”

“... cancelled it, she said it was too long term. I mean it’s only 18 months and... what... what news?”

“No sir, you can’t collect on your life insurance before the comet hits...”

Somehow, between the reporting authority that took receipt of the request for the fix, the management team assigning the task, the oversight committee responsible for all the “oversightering”, the steering committee that decided the spelling of tasks, and the software engineer actually assigned the task of making the fix... (draw breath)... the definition of local changed, from the surface of Laythe to somewhere much closer... the cell tower on the VAB roof.

Val shouted into her microphone trying to find out what had happened.

KSC, KSC, do you read?... I have major interference on comms, repeat interference on comms”.

Meanwhile the noise continued.

“... broke her leg, how... oh that’ll do it”.

“...all ten season, I got 6 days, gonna watch em’ all... even got this drinking game planned for the Saddest Cat, every time Kit says...”

KSC... do you read, I can’t take much more of this” screamed Val.

Suddenly the din ceased, it was if the universe had suddenly taken a vow of silence, plus another to be a lot less annoying.

“That better Val” enquired Gatler, his booming voice a welcome sound.

“Much... what happened, there was this huge amount of...” began Val.

“We could hear the phone chatter through you comms back to us... put two and two together, sent someone up on the roof with an axe, seems to have fixed it” explained the communicator.

“Thanks... silence isn’t so bad after all I guess” replied Val, thinking that she’d swap conversation with the colony for not having her ears melted by that racket any day.

“Well, I got more good news for ya... looks like you got our local comms on top of yours, so you should be able to talk to the colony now” informed Gat.

Val was about to thank Gatler again, when Jebs voice came over the speakers.

“Welcome to Laythe Val... better late than never huh”.


It had been 3 minutes since Jeb’s voice had come over the comms and Val still hadn’t answered.

She could now see the vehicles that made up the colony on the horizon, and she was seriously thinking about turning around and heading back to the lifter. Ok, there was very little food there, or water, or air... so she’d be dead soon, but at least she wouldn’t have to see Jeb’s smug face... that had to be a tick in the pro column.

“Val, can you hear me, I think I can see you approaching from the West”.

Still Val couldn’t speak.

Mybe she thought... no, that wasn’t legal, and probably broke the laws of physics.

He just had to give that smug little speech.

“Gat, do you have comms with Val, I’m really concerned now... I think I can see the rover out to the West, but she may be incapacitated, I’m thinking of heading out on foot to see if she’s ok”.

Oh sure... Val thought, he’s going to be the hero now, come out and rescue me, fat chance.

“Jeb, this is Val... had some issues with the comms, think it was due to the update. No need to head out, I’ll be at the colony in 2 minutes” said Val, finally breaking her silence.

“Ok there, Val... you had us all worried here, you take care of yourself, we’re all looking forward to you getting here.” Jeb replied.

As she drive towards the colony Val had an uncomfortable feeling that she wasn’t used to... no, couldn’t be.

Shame was for other people.


On arriving at the colony Val parked Rover 2 close to the Hab module, shut down the rover’s systems.

Valentina stared out at the cluster of vehicles. They looked like an odd assortment of things to contain a species last hope for survival, but this would be her home from now on. The pilot put on their helmet, gloves and gulped down what was left of a large doughnut that sat on the console... not necessarily in that order.

Val turned to her left, flipped the release catches of the hatch, grabbed the main release lever, and swung the hatch open. She climbed out and onto the small platform above the front left wheel assembly and smiled.

She was really looking forward to having a conversation with someone using an indoors voice, even if it was a smug senior pilot.

Edited by purpleivan
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  • 4 weeks later...

Chapter 12 - Snappy Dresser

“We’re going with sunflower for the pilots... nah, just kidding Jeb” – Hansword Kerman (KSP fashion department).


“Urgh... yellow, you’re kidding me right” exclaimed Jeb, none too impressed with the sartorial sense of Gelsey’s suit.

“Who cares what colour it is, I’m inside it, can’t see it, the suit's functioning correctly, so why would I care!” replied the scientist, wanting to get on with exploring their new home, rather than discussing their wardrobe sense.

Since the full team had assembled, Jeb had been waiting for a good moment for an important announcement, and this felt like it.

“Ok... everyone in the Hab, I’ve got an important announcement for you all” commanded Jeb on the team wide comms channel, before striding off towards their main living quarters.


A few minutes later the full LOST team had assembled in the Hab, ready for what Jeb had to say. Some were curious what this important announcement could be, while others felt it was cutting into valuable work and/or nap time.

“Ok, ok... looks like we’ve got almost everyone here, just Bob left... ah no, I see ya at the back there Bob” said Jeb, just about able to see the lead scientist, standing hunched over at the back of the group.

“So I’ve got a couple of announcements I need to make before we get to work today. First up, we’ve got confirmation from KSC that The Box is arriving tomorrow evening, should be making entry about two hours before sunset, so I want to get the Lifter recovered before then” stated Jeb, before continuing with the main subject of the announcement.

“If clothes maketh the kerbal, then right now we’re a pretty confused bunch of kerbals. We can’t tell who’s who, we’ve got engineers in green and red, scientist in blue and even... yellow” continued Jeb shuddering. He had little time for the colour yellow, unless it was in the form of Flamin’ Kamin’s super hot mustard.

“So from today we will be wearing our new LOST team suits, which are colour coded, based on discipline. Scientist in blue, engineers in green and pilots in red” he said proudly; looking forward to the increased efficiency and pep that the spiffy new red suits would give his team of pilots.

“What shade of blue are the scientist suits” enquired Sindley.

“Well, a blue-ish shade of er...” said Jeb, trailing off, as he hadn’t actually looked at the new suits, so didn’t have a good answer to give.

“Ok, I suppose I’ll just have to wait and see... it’ll be a surprise” replied Sindley, busy adjusting her hair into a more attractive style for a range of shades of blue.

“Ok follow me everyone” Jeb instructed, before moving off towards Arm 2, squeezing past Gelsey, who was more interested in finishing off her breakfast than a new suit.


Once in Arm 2, Jeb opened up a hatch in the floor to the storage locker that contained the collection of nine suits.

“Ok everyone, gather round” said Jeb, then reached into the locker, grabbed a suit and shouted “scientist, size 1” before handing it to an eager Sindley.

Jeb grabbed another, this time a red one “pilot, size 1” then handed it to Elson, who seemed surprising keen to try something new.

Next was a green suit “engineer, size 1” shouted Jeb, followed by Bill pushing through the group to grab the new apparel. He was the lead engineer, so it only made sense for him to get his first.

This continued until all the suits, all size 1 (all kerbals are size 1) had been handed out and now there was much activity in the crowded Hab Arm, as the team donned their new gear.

After a couple of minutes the task of turning the team into a colour coordinated group of efficient colonists was complete.

“Ok everyone outside” shouted Jeb and made his way towards the airlock.

One by one the team made its way out onto the surface, and huddled in groups, admiring their new kit.


Valentina and Bill looked at the back of Sindley’s suit, admiring the new look this would give the team.

“Love that logo on the back” said Bill excitedly “reminds us of just where we are” he continued, looking at the letters L.O.S.T that were stamped into the helmet, which was framed by the bulk of Jool.

The logo, stamped into the helmet, had reduced its structural strength of the rear by 40%, but the mission planners had decided it was important for the look of the new suits to make a real statement, and painted on logos were so last year.

“Ok everyone, gather round” shouted Jeb over team wide comms.

“Right, so we’re taking a team photo, I want you all to line up in front of that small mound of dirt there” instructed Jeb.

The team shuffled off in various directions, each to one of the many small mounds of dirt that littered Laythe’s surface.

“No, no... that mound there” exclaimed Jeb, frustrated at the team’s inability to clearly understand the mound he was now pointing at, was the one he had referred to.

The team shuffled towards Jeb’s special mound of dirt, before forming up in a line. There was a shiny new blue suit, then a red, a glistening green, then another red.

“No, no... not like that, group up by discipline. Pilots, then engineers and you scientists at the end there” the frustrated team leader instructed, determined that the arrangement have some kind of organisation to it.

With the team finally arrayed in a satisfactory manner, Jeb tapped the timer shot button on the camera erected on a tripod in front of him, before running over to join the line up.

He jostled his way in between Val and Elson, straightened himself up and smiled, waiting for the click of the camera over his comms.


Two hours later, at the KSC, a proud and more than a little envious Gatler Kerman stared at the recently received photo he’d just affixed to the wall. Those shiny new suits, did look pretty good, and the wearers weren’t about to get incinerated by comet Tiddles.

It joined other important images of the exploits of the KSP, on the walls of the most hallowed place in the complex... the staff canteen.

There was the photo of the launch of the first kerballed spacecraft, next to that of its flaming wreckage. To it its left was the launch of the second kerballed craft, next to the one of its clearly relieved pilot, after making a safe landing.

Other highlights of the program to be admired that day.

  •            The first sandwich to be consumed in orbit (before and after shots)
  •           The first near successful docking in orbit (missed by only 957km).
  •           The first fully successful docking in orbit (8th attempt).
  •           The mooning of the Mun and the Munnites (required a special “two helmet” design of suit and a belief in the the Mun being inhabited).
  •            The first kerbal to arrive on the Mun (still holds the record for the largest debris field).
  •           The first kerbal on Minmus, Dardew Kerman.
  •           The longest duration mission, Dardew Kerman (still there as far as anyone knows).
  •           First kerbal to set foot on Duna, Malon Kerman (subsequently lost on the return flight).
  •           The largest hoagie eaten while on an escape trajectory from Kerbin (also Malon Kerman).
  •           First kerbal to set foot on Ike, Jebediah Kerman.
  •           First interplanetary rescue mission, Jebediah Kerman (from Ike after his craft toppled over following landing, due to too many or too few rivets used in its construction).

Yes... this new photo truly deserved its place on the walls that bore the record of the kerbalkinds space exploits.

Too bad it was due to be obliterated in just under four days.

Edited by purpleivan
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