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


purpleivan
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Chapter 13 – Field Trip

“It’s all great surf, from here up to Magnus point” – Valentina Kerman

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 “Hey kids, don’t forget your lunch box and make sure to hold your travel buddy’s hand” chuckled Val, delivering the latest in a long line of gags about their upcoming trip in the science vehicle.

“If you get lost, find a grown up and...” began another Val zinger (in her mind at least).

“Val... shut it, or you can walk to that Lifter of yours” snapped Bob, uttering more words than he’d done in the last two days. He might be in the depths of his own dark thoughts, but that didn’t stop the pilot’s juvenile taunts sinking through.

Having run out of field trip related quips, Val decided to call it a day. For now at least.

“Right Bob, see you inside” she said, heaving the hatch of the vehicle open and dropping down inside.

Once inside Val made her way to the rear seat of the vehicle and strapped in, while Bob and Voyler dropped in one after the other, through the hatch. Bob made his way forward to the driving seat and Voyler took up the 2nd seat in the lab with Val. Once Bob had gone through the procedure to start up the science vehicle, it left the colony site at a steady pace to the North West towards the location of the Lifter.

“Are we there yet” whined Val, in as childlike a voice as she could muster and pulled a wide grin at Voyler.

This was followed by Voyler screeching “Booob... are we thar yet Booob” and breaking into a loud giggle.

Val could tell that Voyler wasn’t the sharpest tool in the box, but they did at least share a sense of humour.

“Bob... I’m tired, and I want a glass of water” Val hollered, continuing the childish goading of their driver.

Bob turned in his seat to look back through the hatch from the driver’s cab, back into the lab, a deep scowl lining his face.

“You want me to wreck this thing, just say the word... I’ll do it” he retorted, again more verbal than he’d been in weeks, but not in a way that made Val comfortable with continuing the game.

“Booob, I wanna...” started Voyler, before Val landed a well aimed kraken plushy (one of Sindley’s collection) to her face.

“Shhhh... cut it” Val demanded, making it clear that her partner in crime had to give up on the game too.

The science vehicle trundled across the seemingly endless brown dust of Laythe’s surface. Another 10 minutes went by, followed by another, then another. Val had finally had enough.

“Bob, seriously, can this thing go any faster... we’ve got the hook up and fuel transfer to do and at this rate we’re going to be heading back to camp in the dark” stated Val.

No reply was forthcoming from their driver, so Val tried again.

“Bob” she yelled.

The vehicle suddenly lurched to one side, followed by a gut churning rocking motion, and Val wondered if Bob had been serious about wrecking this thing.

“This is no hotrod, it’s built to protect the research gear, not racing” Bob finally yelled in reply.

“No hotrod, you got that right” muttered Val before asking “do you have a rough time for us getting to the Lifter?”

“We’re about ½ distance, so 30 minutes” Bob answered.

30 more minutes! Val could smell the geeky science in this thing. It smelt of lab equipment, chemicals and a lack of excitement. She need out and she needed it now.

“I’m going up top to check...  something” informed Val, before unbelting herself from her seat, jamming on her helmet, then climb up to and out of the hatch.

She hauled herself out of the top of that school bus, with the joy of a 12th grader skipping gym class, something she’d never actually done, loving as she did, any kind of physical pursuit. The pilot in her wanted, no needed some excitement and judging by the rocking motion of the school bus, this could be just what the doctor ordered.

Val jammed her boots under the ladder rungs that lined the top of the vehicle, stuck one arm out in front of her and the other behind, before crouching slightly. She closed her eyes and imagined she was surfing the big breakers that hit up the coast from the KSC.

 

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Suddenly without warning the wave she was riding felt like it slammed into rocks, as Bob hit the brakes. Her eyes jerked open and in front of her was the Lifter. She thought that they were about to smash straight into it, but as her vision cleared she realised that the vehicle was going “school bus fast”, rather than any real speed, and it slewed gently over to the side, parking few metres from the her baby.

She hopped off the top of the vehicle and made a perfectly braced landing in the brown dirty beneath it, before racing over to the Lifter.

Val remotely retracted the ladder attached to the base of the Lifter, to allow the lab access to the docking port.

“Bob, I’ll make the port ready and you line yourself up” Val instructed, wanting to waste no time getting back in the air.

She walked over to the docking port and adjusted the settings on the control panel next to it, setting it to “remote receive” before snapping panel cover shut.

It seemed to her that Bob was taking forever to get the science vehicle lined up with the port, does he need half a planet run up to it, she thought to herself.

“You having some problems there Bob, you’re backing way off for this?” she asked.

“This things not built for maneuverability, plus it’s full of fuel for that ship of yours” Bob responded.

The science vehicle finally stopped its retreat from the Lifter and started heading towards it, lining up with the docking port as it did so.

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Bob move the vehicle steadily forward, looking ahead through the main window towards the Lifter, as Val who stood by it, waved him in. He’d planned to use the docking assistance system for his approach to the docking port, but annoyingly it just displayed the message...

VEHICLE NOT IN SPACE

CALL TECH SUPPPORT

09 – 16 weekdays.

As the science vehicle edged forward Bob wondered why anyone would trust him with this. He wasn’t much of a driver; he wasn’t much of anything anymore. He’d been a scientist once, but look at what that had caused, he shouldn’t be here, he should be back on Kerbin, where he deserved to be.

“... OFF, BACK OFF” yelled Val over comms.

“What? Bob mumbled “back of...” before a massive clang echoed through the vehicle as he and Voyler were thrown out of their seats.

“Kraken’s teeth, what are you doing Bob!” Val shouted, before rushing to the docking port to see if it was damaged. Fortunately the long history of docking mishaps in the KSP had forced vessel designers to build them to be ready for pretty much any kind of approach speed. Resulting in them being almost indestructible.

“Sorry Val, I er... I sneezed, it was a really big one and I was distracted for a moment” lied Bob, not wanting to discuss what had been in his thoughts a moment earlier.

“Ok , ok, looks like there’s no damage, just bring it in nice an slow next time” replied Val, remembering how a really big sneeze had resulted in the loss of the first kerballed Mun mission.

“Don’t worry about it, just focus” she continued.

Bob stared intently out of the window and carefully lined up with the docking port again and very slowly moved forward.

“3 metres” informed Val.

“2 metres”.

“1 metre”

“Half metre”

Finally there was a gentle thud as the two docking ports met, both Val and Bob waited for the familiar sound of capture latches ringing out, but none were to be heard.

“You’re too low” yelled Val, seeing that the docking port of the science vehicle was a good 20cm below that of the Lifter.

Bob thoughts suddenly drifted to the more profane kind as he thought about why that could be.

“It’s the fuel” Bob exclaimed “the Lifter is empty and we’re half full”.

Val was not impressed. Back on Kerbin some lazy engineer was not getting the business end her boot for not thinking about these vehicles needing to dock with different fuel levels.

Ah well... just four more days and Tiddles’ll do the booting for me.

 

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“Bob... you’ve still got the landing pack engines attached, you can use those to lift that thing enough to dock” instructed Val, feeling a little smug at her ingenuity.

That might work thought Bob, but there might not be enough thrust to actually lift the lab, just burn fuel trying. Ah well, not point in not trying. Bob armed the engines, switched the fuel flow before yelling “stand well back Val”.

Val stepped back a few metres and Bob lit the engines, first at 25%, then raised the thrust until finally at 70% the vehicle started to lift up on its suspension.

“Come on science boy... baby needs some fuel” muttered Val, willing Bob on in his effort to finally dock.

Suddenly the capture latches rang out and the two vehicles rocked lightly, as the docking ports firmly attached. The landing engines on the Science Vehicle cut, and its front wheels dangled a few centimetres off the ground.

“Nice flying there Bob, she’s attached” congratulated Val, “just start the fuel flowing and I’ll do the rest”.

Sometime later the tanks of the Science Vehicle were empty and those of the Lifter half full... plenty to get it and its eager pilot into the air for a landing at the colony site.

 

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“Right back off nice and slow” instructed Val.

What was she saying?

“Put the pedal down Bob, like your life depends on it. I’ve got some flying to do and you don’t want to be in close when I lift off” Val continued, giving just the right degree of urgency.

Bob wasn’t about to have another mishap due to not taking care with his driving, so the Science Vehicle continued its steady retreat.

“Come on, come on, come on” Val muttered, almost able to feel the controls of a vehicle fit for a pilot in her hands again.

Eventually the vehicle was far enough from the Lifter for Val to be confident that her departure wouldn’t result in a science flavoured barbeque. Well maybe a light toasting, but she had a ship to fly.

 

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Val raced to the foot of the ladder, clambered up it, and then used the exterior panel controls to retract it, before continuing up the hull mounted rungs towards the capsule. Each rung on the way felt like a week, as she climbed up the side the vehicle.

“They should have installed a lift” she complained.

Finally at the top she swung open the hatch and climbed inside.

Once there with the hatch closed, Val pulled off her helmet and took a deep breath of pure pilot zone air. Immediately an acrid smell filled her nostrils, followed by the pungent aroma of something on the very rotten side of “no longer edible”. She’d forgotten that this had been her home for the trip from kerbin and had more than a little of a “lived in” smell to it.

Rotten apple cores, urgh... sweaty socks, blurgh... oh no, oh no... rotten milk shake.

She couldn’t bear it any longer and traded the “sweet” smell of pilot freedom, for the interior of her helmet, as she jammed it back over her head.

Ok, she thought... urge to throw falling and urge to fly rising, so let’s get this bird in the air.

 

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Back in the Science vehicle Bob patiently awaited the announcement from Val that the Lifter was prepped for lift off and that she was starting the procedure for her departure, so he could back off to a safer distance. Suddenly the vehicle was rocked as if a giant baby had grabbed it like a rattle and started shaking it.

Beyond the main window Bob saw the blinding flash of the F12 engine on the Lifter bust into life, as the vessel shot up into the sky. A blast of brown dust sprayed onto the windows of the vehicle, from the force of the Lifter’s engine, as its pilot use maximum thrust to climb into the air at great speed.

“Damn pilots” Bob yelled as the Lifter rapidly rose before disappearing from view.

Back in the lab section, Voyler was busy getting ready for her own departure, as she was tasked with bringing Rover 1 back to the colony site. She’d searched supply lockers for the tastiest looking snacks she could find, before heading for the ladder to the hatch.

“Booob... I’m reeedy ta gaw now Booob. I see ya back at the cooolany” drawled Voyler.

With no reply coming from the driver she assumed that all was good for her to leave the Science Vehicle and make her way to Rover 1, which secretly she’d been wanting a turn at driving since Val had turned up at the colony in Rover 2.

She didn’t have the usual disdain for pilots that most engineers and scientists had, in fact she quite fancied herself at the controls of powerful machinery.

 

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Once out of the hatch Voyler lowered the ladder, made her way down it, then retracted it again. She starred for a moment at the rover parked about 50 metres away, before hurrying over to it. The engineer clambered up the suspension on its left side, then grabbed one of the recessed handholds on the cockpit section and hauled herself up to the canopy, before opening it and jumping inside.

She looked across the instruments, many of which were superfluous, as the cockpit had been designed for aircraft. In the rush to prepare the LOST fleet for departure, it had been the only thing available at short notice for the driver’s section of the rovers.

Voyler flicked the switches that brought the necessary systems to life, as well as arming missiles, retracting flaps and turning on jet engine reheat. This wasn’t a mistake that Voyler had made for once; she just wanted to play at being a hotshot pilot.

With the rover ready to leave, she pushed the drive lever forward and swung the wheel sharply to the left, leaving the Science Vehicle and a spray of dust behind her.

 

Finally alone at the Lifter landing site, Bob stared out across the brown expanse of the Laythe terrain. Maybe he shouldn’t go back, he could just stay here; have his own colony. But no, he had to go back, the rest of the science team had done no wrong and who was he to deprive them of their lab.

Nobody, that’s who.

He took a last look at the scorch mark that Val had made in her hasty departure, put the vehicle into drive and headed off in the direction of the colony.

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After 40 minutes of driving he’d come to an important conclusion... the Science Vehicle sucked as a means of transportation. The pilots gave the science team a hard time about it being a School Bus, but at least those could make their way up a slight slope without struggling. This mobile lab on the other hand was useless on all but flat terrain

For that reason Bob had decided to avoid the steeper hills he’d encountered on the way to recover the Lifter and Rover 1, so was approaching the colony site from the North.

Finally reaching the top of a long slope, Bob stopped the vehicle.

He had a great view over the shallow valley that the colony was located in and could see the low sun reflecting off the solar panels of the Mining Vehicle. But more interesting was something in the distance that caught his eye. On the horizon, was a bright sparkle, probably a reflection of the sun that hung just above the horizon behind him.

Bob made a note of the direction and apparent distance of the sparkle, and then headed down towards the colony.

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Edited by purpleivan
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Chapter 14 – The Box

“Fuzzy slippers that light up when you walk... no sweat, gimme something harder” – Stranlow Kerman - Chairman - Kerbal Institute for Astronautics (KIA)

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With backlit Jool resting on the horizon like a giant soap bubble, the members of the LOST team got to work making preparations for the arrival of The Box.

For the most part the preparations were just normal day to day tasks; normal for a bunch of kerbals setting up shop on a distant world that is. However Jeb wanted the colony to be looking its best for the final arrival from Kerbin, so had tasked some of the colonists to dusting and polishing the vehicles of the colony. For this “much needed” task Jeb had assigned Coslin and Bill.

The pair of them had spent most of the previous evening in a heated discussion (involving the use of ad hoc projectile weaponry) of Kit Kerman, Space Detective. Their “debate” had been about the merits of the episode “It Erman”, in which the titular character was trapped in a strange alternate universe, identical to their own except it lacked the letter K.

Most viewers ascribed its plot to writers who were just phoning it in after 7 seasons of coming up with scripts for the show. However ardent fans like Bill and Coslin had their own theories. For Coslin the missing “K’s” were highlighting the lack of of personal identity in Kerbal society, but for Bob the number of these missing letters (167) took a prime place in the complex formula that calculated the end of Kerbin.

The upshot of this discussion was that the pair had to be dragged apart by Jeb, who sent Bill (who’d been doing most of the projectile throwing) to the Science Vehicle to cool off. Now with an order from Jeb that the pair of them not discuss “that stupid kids show” ringing in their ears, the pair of them set to work on scrubbing the vehicles.

After a couple of hours the two rovers were looking like new (i.e. very slightly cleaner than they had the night before) and Jeb headed over to Rover 1 to take it for a short drive. He planned to position it a couple of hundred metres East of the colony, to provide an outer marker for the landing of The Box. Elson was meant to take the rover out, but as he was busy cleaning the remains of last nights discussion off the walls of the Hab, he decided to drive it himself.

As he approached the rover, Gelsey ran over to it, which surprised Jeb, as he’d never seen her run willingly in the 7 years he’d known her. The only times he’d witnessed it were when lab experiments were “not behaving as expected” and was usually accompanied by her wearing a gas mask and screaming some choice obscenities.

 

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“Wait... rover... drive” Gelsey wheezed after her uncharacteristic exertion.

“Not happening Gelsey, this isn’t like that School Bus of yours, it’s a finely tuned piece of transportation technology and it takes a pilot’s skills to control it” replied Jeb getting the gist of what she meant.

Gelsey turned and stomped her way over the where Jeb stood, with a steely look on her face. She didn’t like Jeb’s condescending tone.

“Now just wait a minute there, you had Voyler drive this rover back here just yesterday, and she’s not got half the brains...” Gelsey started before Jeb cut her off.

“Well I made an exception that one time and after all she’s an Engineer, she’s used to, erm... handling things... er... with wheels... and levers and...” Jeb began, before remembering he’d only let her drive it because she’d been saying “Gooo on, gooo on, gooo on” at him for 3 hours straight.

Plus he thought, there might come a time when one of his team of pilots wasn’t available to act as taxi driver, when some scientist or engineer needed a ride. He had to admit, he trusted Gelsey with the machine more than Voyler.

 

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“Ok Gelsey, take her out 200m East, that’s that way” Jeb instructed, pointing to the small signpost that was Jool.

“Oh East, you mean the direction that the sun is currently rising in” replied Gelsey, with only a hint of sarcasm in her voice.

“Yeah... that too, I guess you’ve got two things to show you the way. Don’t get lost” Jeb answered, assuming that anyone other than a pilot had the navigation skills of a small rock.

Gelsey hauled herself up the side of the rover and made her way into the cockpit. She plopped down into the seat and prepared the vehicle to move off. This was complicated by the scatter of sticky notes that Voyler had attached to various controls and displays, to give her a more thrilling ride on the way back to the colony the previous evening.

“Guns” Gelsey muttered ripping a note from the interior lights controls and stuffing it in a suit pocket “don’t think I’ll need that”. This was followed by notes marking such things as “afterburners” , “eject” and “bigger guns”.

With the controls cleared of Voyler’s fighter jock fantasy aids, the scientist started up the rover, swung around the mining vessel and headed East.

She'd had been looking forward to trying out one of the colony rovers, but the reality of the experience was less than she’d been expecting. Although the rover looked like a little hot rod, it was actually woefully under powered, driven as it was by the RoveMax Model M1. These had started out life as the RollerMate Economy, a wheel for electric golf carts, before the company moved into the sexier (and more lucrative) world of space exploration. But at any rate, it beat driving the Science Vehicle, if Bob’s “Pregnant Whale” description of its handling was to be believed.

Once in position, Gelsey put her feet up on the console, pulled a small flask of coffee from her leg pocket and poured herself a cup. The Box wasn’t due for another 7 hours and 26 minutes, and she didn’t want to get volunteered by Jeb into the colony cleanup crew, so she planned to settle in for the day.

As she looked out over the console towards the colony, she saw kerbals scurrying around from vehicle to vehicle, brushes and cloths in hand. The sun glided slowly overhead as the colony became ever so slightly cleaner.

This also gave Gelsey a chance to indulge in her favourite pastime, and she grabbed a few hours sleep.

“..sey, come in” suddenly squawked in her ear.

“Huwhaa” she exclaimed suddenly jerked awake by the sound of Jeb’s voice.

“Gelsey, Gelsey, come in” Jeb repeated, sound like he might have been calling for a while.

“I’m here Jeb, I hear ya” she responded, rubbing her eyes.

“I need you to turn on the rover’s location beacon, set it to channel 3, with high gain tracking.” Jeb instructed, the plan being to do the same with the Mining Vehicle’s beacon and have The Box drop in slap bang in the middle of the two.

Gelsey quickly set the controls as Jeb had described and a small antenna popped out of the mid section of the rover and slowly tracked across the sky, as The Box started its fiery descent.

 

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Meanwhile the rest of the LOST team stood within the confines of the colony, awaiting the arrival of the last piece of equipment they would ever receive from Kerbin. Fortunately this one would make any future deliveries redundant.

As Val stood staring at the sky, listening to the updates on the descent of The Box, she saw a small glow to the East gradually grow brighter and larger, as their much anticipated piece of equipment made its way down to them.

3M (Magical Marvel of Manufacturing)

AKA.

THE BOX

Specification and development plan:

Dr Stranlow Kerman: Chairman - Kerbal Institute for Astronautics (KIA) Year 976 Day 341

The What

As there will not be time for us to send all the equipment required for a fully functional colony before our planet’s imminent demise, we need to provide a means of manufacturing on the surface of Laythe.

So, imagine a box, in which the thing you want most comes true:

You want a new engine bell for your rocket motor; it can make it for you.

You want a 27m length of corrugated aluminium tubing; it’s on its way.

A piece missing from your 10,000 piece jigsaw puzzle; we’ve got that covered.

How about a six pack of miniature cheeseburgers, with strawberry icing and chilli flakes on top (mmm.. . I really want one of those now... underling, make a note); no problem, this thing is the 3 Kraken M.

 

The How

For this we will need a massive joint effort, drawing from all fields of engineering, science, project management and even some of those nutbag fringe beliefs that we’ve fought as a species to rise above for all these centuries.

No expense will be spared; we will scour the globe for the finest in their fields and bring them here to the KSC; first class of course. We’ll keep the focus grouping to a minimum, but we need a better name than “The Box”. Efforts on that will start now, including a phone in poll on the prime candidates, to see what kind of mass appeal they have. After all it’s important to keep the public on board with this... for the next few weeks anyway.

 

The When

This thing needs to be designed, built and launched in 23 days, so best roll up your sleeves, put your thinking hats on and get cracking.

 

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The glow in the sky receded all the while Jeb kept shouting out number letting everyone know how the descent was proceeding.

“6000 metres, 165 metres per seconds” read Jeb from the readout on his arm.

“5000 metres, 161 metres per second” came another update.

“4000 metres, 155 metres per second” updated Jeb.

The glow was replaced at first by a small grey dot that gradually grew in size as The Box whizzed down towards down the colony.

“2500 metres 117 metres per second” Jeb informed, at which everyone sucked in a deep breath.

At 2200 metres the parachutes were programmed to deploy, but the high failure rate of these at that critical moment, had over the years made this step more than a bit hazardous.

“Kraken be merciful” muttered Coslin.

“In cat we trust” thought Bill.

“I just can’t look” thought Bob and slapped his gloved hand over his faceplate.

A couple of seconds later and the beautiful sight of four fully deployed canopies billowed above The Box, slowing its descent from a crushing 100m/s, to an only slightly worrying 7m/s.

 

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Finally it was down and apparently in one piece. The collection of communication dishes mounted on top of it, moved into their active positions and a low hum became audible from the direction of the large grey block. The dishes didn’t actually server any function, but one of the designers had misinterpreted the name of what they we going to build as being an enormous TV set, so had built in some serious satellite TV capabilities.

Some members of the team rushed over to take a closer look at this marvelous device, that when supplied with minerals extracted from the ground by the Mining Vehicle, would be able to make anything that they needed.

Others, wary of the “science” that had been used to make possible Stranlow Kerman’s rather ambitious specification, decided to keep their distance for the time being.

 

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Jeb stepped forward from the crowd that had gathered around the new addition to the colony and walked up to the great slab of kerbal tech. He could see a small piece of paper stuck to it, next to the large dull yellow door.

He leaned in to get a better look at it.

 

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Edited by purpleivan
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  • 3 weeks later...

Chapter 15 - Siren Song

"It should be give an unmistakable warning that no-one can ignore, nor sleep through" - Part 176b (Outline Specification)

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3 Days to destruction of Kerbin.

What wasn’t there to like about The Box

The scientists were excited by the principles behind it, the engineers admired its constructions, the pilots... well who doesn’t like some new shiny.

Jeb had wanted the start of the use of their new equipment to be a smooth, well planned affair, with a neatly prioritised list of requirements from his team. Instead he felt like a waiter at a restaurant on a Saturday night.

“A new infra red filter for the microscope” shouted one.

“Type 2 fuel hoses” shouted another.

“New seat cushions for the Hab” yelled one of the engineers.

“Chilli cheese paste” screamed another over the din.

Jeb was now wondering about the wisdom of supplying them a machine that promised to provide anything his team could wish for, well at least before their current supplies had dwindled enough to focus attention on what really mattered.

“Hey, everyone” yelled Jeb, trying to cut across the onslaught of requests.

“Socks... blue ones with white spots on them” shouted Sindley, eager to add something new to her extensive collection.

Jeb knew there was only one option to make himself heard. He reached for the touch panel on the left sleeve of his suit and tapped on the button marked “Alert”. The illuminated button blinked yellow 5 times in rapid succession, giving time for him to change his mind and deactivate it. After the fifth yellow blink it changed to solid red and an ear splitting sound ripped through the atmosphere from each of the colony modules.

The sound of the Colony Alert siren had been described by some as a cross between a cow vomiting and two fog horns making babies... just much louder. Whatever the specifics of the sound, it did the job of stopping the flow of Box requests. However the mood of the team had changed from excited and optimistic, to mass panic.

Some assumed the KSP’s highly recommended (and with their hardware’s track record, much used) “duck and cover” pose. Others meanwhile dashed mindlessly from one position to another, or ran in circles. Two engineer "circlers", whose “orbits” conflicted, ran straight into each other, while one of the pilots dropped to their knees and started franticly scrawling a picture of the kraken in the soil.

In the midst of this Jeb stood motionless, waiting for the initial panic to wear off and for the team to remember their training. Then he realised that the Colony Alert system was a late addition to their equipment, and so this might be the first time those around him had heard it.

Suddenly the sound of a million Kraken maws opening ceased and the colonists froze in whatever position their state of mind had put them in.

 

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“Ahem...” said Jeb over colony wide comms “Now I have your attention, I think we should start using The Box by making something we can all enjoy and...” before being cut off by Coslin who was now running full tilt towards him.

“What... what was THAT NOISE Jeb, that was YOU!” she screamed as she tore across the ground towards him.

As she drew close Jeb took a step back, just as Gelsey raised he left arm and jabbed her index finger at his faceplate.

“Calm down Gelsey, I was only trying to...” began Jeb.

“CALM... I am CALM” shouted Gelsey, continuing to jab at Jeb’s visor “if I wasn’t calm, I’d be doing a whole lot more than shouting at you”.

Jeb thought about the situation, as well as the look on Gelsey’s face and realised that he should probably begin by explaining the sound of doom that he’d just inflicted on everyone.

He raised his hands before saying “Ok everyone, gather round”.

The members of the colony team pulled their helmets from under the soil, stopped their runs for the hills and turned to head toward Jeb. As they approached and Gelsey continued to give him that slightly psychotic stare, Jeb thought through what he was about to say.

“So... some of you might not know what the Colony Alert siren sounds like” stated Jeb, to which the others gave a bewildered look, all except Gelsey, who continued to stare him down, like a bear staring at its soon to be lunch.

“That was a siren?” asked Bill incredulously “I mean I thought the planet was taking a deep breath before it spat us out into space”.

“Did that thing get certified... by anyone?” enquired Coslin.

“Seems a bit unnecessary to me” stated Elson “you could just whistle in ya mike, I mean that’s just one more piece of kit that’s gonna fail on ya sometime”.

“Certified... it was not” stated Jeb before continuing “it was a late addition, too little time, too much continuing the species to be done”.

“So any other, late additions, that we should know about JEB, things we might be upset about?” demanded Gelsey, again jabbing at his visor, before screeching “I don’t know, maybe some emergency heaters that use the power of the sun to melt our skins off, or how about emergency water rations made from genuine children’s tears”.

Jeb looked at Gelsey, who was clearly very unhappy, almost as unhappy as the gloved finger that was still jammed against his visor. Clearly the Colony Alert siren had been a little over done, so something was needed to lift everyone’s spirits.

“Ok, sorry about using that siren just then, it won’t happen again... unless of course there’s a real emergency” said Jeb.

“I thought my brain was exploding” stated Bob.

“Ah... ok Bob, again I apologise for that, but moving on to the reason I used the siren in the first place, we need to prioritise the list for The Box, as we’re limited by the amount of resources the mining vehicle can extract” Jeb explained.

“Ok, but who gets to go first” asked Sindley, concerned about the lack of blue socks with white dots in her wardrobe.

“Not who, but what” Jeb replied mysteriously “and I have some thoughts on that, you see it came with some materials already in the machine, to be used as a test run to make something we can all enjoy”.

With that Jeb turned and walked to the control panel for The Box and entered the ID code for the first item it would manufacture.

 

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“So what do you think, cool huh?” exclaimed Jeb, some 20 minutes after setting The Box’s first task.

He stood before the other colonists, some of whom nodded approvingly, while others, such as Gelsey had questions.

“So... it’s a new suit” Gelsey stated “does it do anything new?”

“Well no, not as such, but it is cool right... so shiny” answered Jeb, hopping round in a little circle to give everyone a good look.

Some of the surrounding colonists muttered their approval and nodded, but Gelsey wasn’t convinced.

“But we had brand new suits a couple of days ago, was this really the most important thing to get The Box to make?” she stated.

Jeb paused, a single finger raised and mouth agape, for once at a loss for words before saying the only thing he could think of in the moment

“But shiny right!”

The suit was indeed shiny, being covered in a dust repellent material intended to prevent a build up of Laythe’s fine grain soil on it.

“But is it too shiny” asked Sindley “I mean that’s really a thing isn’t it?”

“No, no... you can never have something too shiny” replied Valentina, before asking "So Jeb, where’s mine?”.

Edited by purpleivan
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4 hours ago, roboslacker said:

Shiny! But does it have the mission logo?

It does, but much smaller in blue across the front of the suit. Unfortunately the new suit models aren't mapped with unique UV's, they're mostly flipped, so it was difficult finding a place to put it, that wouldn't end up with a mirrored copy of it as well.

I made the  switch to a newer version of the game (from 1.3.1 to 1.6) to give me access to the retro style suits that I'll be using soon, so unfortunately lost the big normal mapped logo on the helmet.

I also lost the visor reflections, as the newer versions of Texture Replacer have problems with them.

But elsewhere... shiny!

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  • 1 month later...
  • 2 months later...
  • 11 months later...

Chapter 16 - The Hatch

“11b: All components containing high speed combustion materials must be identified as such with warning labels of a good size, in a clearly readable position and in a nice font.”

Commission on Spacecraft Safety labelling guidelines:

24Jm84H.png

With the temporary deafness from the day before finally out of their ears, thoughts turned to exploration of their new home. Having something exciting to report back to Kerbin might pick up the spirits of those about to have a fiery assignation with comet Tiddles.

Some wanted to head for the nearest shoreline, if only to make sure it was a great expanse of the wet stuff and not some kind of weird shiny blue dirt. But Jeb agreed with Bob, that the strange flash he’d seen when returning from the journey to the Lifter was a higher priority.

But who should be making the trip, well himself of course. If there was anything strange, or of historic importance to find out there, then the colony leader needed to be there.

Then there was Bob. He’d been the one to catch sight of the thing and he was the senior scientist, but ever since his project Moros has been cancelled last year, he’d been become far too depressing to be around. Even when comet Tiddles was found to be on a collision course with Kerbin, (to the joy of all the conspiracy theorists, who’d been prophesying doom for decades) it seemed like it just business as usual.

Ok... Mr Doom and Gloom would have to go, but how about the third seat. The rover had three of them after all, and it would be a pity to waste one on their first exploration trip.

Well, to keep everyone happy, it would probably need to be an engineer. Bill had been far too picky about the exact shade of green, the detailing on his new suit should be. No standard Engineer green for him, he needed something that said “I’ve been an engineer since the VAB was just some farmer’s barn”.

That left either Coslin or Voyler, and Coslin was busy fixing the landing legs of the Mining Vehicle, after its heavy landing, something he trusted her to do, far more than Voyler. Nothing wrong with Voyler as a person; good table manners, a fine taste in socks and didn’t cheat on games night, but he wasn’t entirely convinced about her as an Engineer.

Anyway... maybe she’d enjoy the trip.

With his crew list decided, he announced his decision over the colony comms.

“Ok everyone... except Bill, Val, Sindley, Elson, Gelsey and Coslin... gather round”.

With his team gathered, loaded and safely strapped in for the trip to Bob’s mystery sparkle, Jeb pointed the rover in the direction Bob had marked on the map. With the scientist being his usual reclusive self, Voyler was left as his only source of conversation on the trip.

It was going to be a long one.

 

As the rover headed toward the location Bob had identified as the source of the strange flashes, the scientist wondered what mysterious object, plant or creature might be in store for them. Evidence of an alien civilisation, a new element or a crystalline growth of some kind.

“We’re here” yelled Jeb suddenly over the intercom, snapping Bob from his thoughts and scrambling for the hatch.

On stepping out of the rover Bob turned towards the front end, to see Jeb climbing down from the cockpit, then beyond to something that was clearly out of place, but also strangely familiar.

 

jab4Azt.jpg

“What be dat” enquired Voyler, just a couple of steps behind Bob, while Jeb led the trio towards something buried in the dirt.

“Well it kind of looks like...” began Jeb.

“It’s got a hatch” shouted an excited Voyler “can we goes inside Jeeeb... pleeeease”.

“We need to find out what this thing is before we even think about anyone going inside” replied Jeb “besides, we don’t even know how to yet”.

Voyler gave Jeb a frowning that reminded him of a child being told they couldn’t go out and play in a rain storm.

The trio stood and stared at the strange hatch, each with their own thoughts on what maybe inside and the advisability of entering.

Jeb: If there was a protocol (there wasn’t) for whether to enter a strange hatch on an alien world, it would be long, highly detailed and he would follow it to the letter.

Bob: Nothing good... probably something deadly, so I should go first.

Voyler: Let me in, let me in, let me in.

Jeb walked cautiously over to the strange object that was covered in dirt, except for some very clean windows.

“Flight ready shine” Jeb muttered, admiring the meticulous polishing that this must have required.

“This must have been what you saw the flashes from Bob”.

Bob stepped forward to stand alongside Jeb to get a closer look, then noticed something very familiar on the side of the object.

“ger explo... olts” Bob read out loud, before reaching out and wiping some of the dirt away.

“Danger Explosive Bolts” was emblazoned on the side of the object in a clear crisp font. Possibly Kalibri.

“What” Jeb exclaimed “what is that doing there?”

“It’s an explosive bolts warning, you know, for things like emergency hatch release.”

Jeb turned and gave his chief scientist an annoyed frown. “I know what the warning is for, but what is it doing here.”

“Well, it’s for the hat..” started Bob.

“I know it’s for the hatch, but what is a hatch doing here, a kerbal hatch, with CSC 11b compliant warning labels.” Jeb exclaimed.

“I dunno” replied Bob.

None of them knew, no kerbal had ever been launched towards Jool and its moons.

“Ok, we need to get this thing open” announced Jeb, with a note of urgency in his voice, not that there was any real reason to rush this, but he was now incredibly curious about what was inside.

“So how do we get inside” asked Bob.

“Ooo... we could blow it open” shouted Voyler excitedly “do we got any mining chargers... for charging in mines with?”

“No Voyler, we don’t have mining charges” replied Jeb, unsurprised that Voyler’s go to solution involved something noisy and impractical.

“A stick... do we got a stick we can push it open with” Voyler enquired.

“A stick” Jeb asked dryly, as he twisted his head, scanning the arid, featureless landscape for the remains of a tree.

“Nope... no sticks”.

Bob, who’d been studying the object in detail had found something of great interest. Part of the grey outer skin of the object had pealed back, revealing a rusty surface beneath it, with grooves running across it.

“Hey Jeb... it’s a Red Tub” he exclaimed, chuckling to himself for the first time in months.

“It’s what” Jeb replied, more than a little surprised at hearing the nickname for a KSC capsule that had been out of use for almost 20 years.

“Old Rusty Red... well hello old girl” Bob responded “it’s a Mk 2 alright, I can see the bonding grooves for the thermal layer and nothing rusts like that old cheap steel.”

Jeb then realised how to get that hatch open.

“Ok you two, stand back on the other side of the rover.”

“Aww... but why” whined Voyler.

“Yeah why, what are...” began Bob.

“Just get back behind that rover, this might be... dangerous.” ordered Jeb.

The pair wandered round to the far side of the rover, then dropped down on the ground to look though the large gap beneath it.

“Ok, ok... where are you” muttered Jeb as he brushed dirt from the around the hatch, revealing a slight bump in the surface of the skin of the hull.

“Ah there you are, thought you could hide did you” Jeb continued with some satisfaction.

The Mk2 (aka the Red Tub) had a number of flaws, some in its design, some in its manufacture and others, a special combination of the two. Jeb had remembered one of these KSC specials, which was that the emergency hatch release had been designed to be used by the kerbal inside the vehicle, by punching through a thin glass plate, breaking a circuit in the process and triggering the explosive bolts that would wrench the hatch from the capsule.

Unfortunately the design drawings showed the trigger module the wrong way round, pointing towards the outer skin of the vehicle, instead of towards the neatly cut hole in the cabin interior wall. Unfortunately in case of any docking mishaps, or meteor impacts, the Mk2 skin in that area was exceptionally thin, meaning that a hard knock in the area to the bottom left of the hatch, would often send the thing flying off.

Jeb ducked down behind the base end of the capsule, reached up and gave the hull a good thump.

Nothing.

“Uhhh... ok, a little to the left” Jeb muttered.

Thump... nothing.

“Awww... come on, where are ya” Jeb grumbled.

“Third try’s the char...” Jeb began, before his fist made contact with the bump in the hull, followed by an almighty bang and a “fine” piece of kerbal engineering went flying into the air.

“Wooooo” shouted Voyler “do again, do again”.

Bob, after clearing away the dust that now covered his faceplate, made his way over to join Jeb, who was already looking down into the hatch.

“See anything Jeb” he enquired, as Voyler bounded past him, headed towards the capsule.

The engineer, not for the first time, misjudged her movement in Laythe’s low gravity and instead of coming to a halt neatly at the edge of the open hatch, slammed into the back of Jeb, sending him tumbling into the capsule.

 

“You ok Jeb” Bob screamed over the radio and for a moment received no reply.

“Jeb, you...” Bob started.

“Aaa, yer, ah, yes... ok” responded Jeb a little weakly.

Bob arrived at the edge of the hatch and looked inside. In the darkness he could just about make out Jeb, his shiny suit contrasting with the grimy interior of the pod, even in the poor lighting in it.

Jeb meanwhile got to his feet, standing on what looked like the wall of a Hitchhicker can, or at least some early version of it, that was somehow connected to the interior of the Mk2 pod above. Over on what he assumed was the base of the can, was a small hole cut through into another space below the surface, which he cautiously moved towards.

“Does you wan me ta come down Jeeeb” asked Voyler, already throwing one leg over the edge of the open hatch.

“Nooo, no... just stay up there and be ready to help me back up” snapped Jeb, preferring to face the dangers of this mysterious craft alone, than with Voyler’s “help”.

Jeb poked his head through into the hole in the base of the can and stared into the dark void. As his eyes grew accustomed to the gloom, he started to make out pieces of equipment, some of it complete with panels intact, others ripped apart, with wires and tubes hanging out of them.

It reminded him of his college dorm room, a thought which sent a shiver up his spine.

On one side of the space was a crudely fashioned exercise bike, with flattened food cans for pedals and what looked like a bent fuel line as handlebars. On the other was the pile of panels and craft internals that looked like something from a Krankenstein movie. In the center of the pile was something emitting a dim light and a low, buzzing hum.

At the far end of the space Jeb noticed something move, something that looked like a pair of gloves pulling at a goldfish bowl. A moment later there was a soft pop sound and the goldfish bowl rose up out of what looked like a pile of old laundry. Some of the old laundry then stood up and shuffled over to the pile of panels.

“Noo, nooo” a muffled cry carried through the thin Laythe atmosphere.

The pile of laundry stuck out a glove and punched at buttons next to the dim glow.

“Phewww” the muffled voice said.

Jeb quickly accessed the communications controls of his suit, adjusting its setting from “L.O.S.T Local Comms” to “Did they have radio back then”. The speaker in his helmet crackled and he began to speak.

“Hello... can you hear me” he enquired, at which point the pile of laundry dropped to the floor.

“My name’s Jeb, It’s ok, I’m from the KSC” Jeb stated proudly “who are you?”

“KFC!” the laundry replied excitedly.

“Er... no, the KSC” Jeb replied.

“Awww...” replied the laundry, clearly disappointed.

KSC?” the laundry enquired “why are you here, did they lose you too”.

Jeb realised that this conversation was not progressing as quickly as he’d like.

“I’m coming in, it’s ok, I’m not going to harm you” he said to calm the laundry.

Jeb ducked down and stepped through into the space, there was a smell in there, something indescribable and strong enough to permeate his airtight suit.

“Urgh... I think I gonna... no, I’m ok... I think” mumbled Jeb as he fought the urge to empty his breakfast into his helmet.

“Not harm me" the laundry exclaimed "did you blow the hatch, I didn’t have a helmet on down here”, clearly annoyed at having their abode suddenly evacuated of air.

“I didn’t think that...” Jeb started.

“No, you didn’t think did ya... you just got straight to blowing that hatch without a care in the world, like it’s something ya do every day” the laundry replied cutting across Jeb’s explanation.

“Hey... that’s unfair; I had no way of knowing anyone was down here.” Jeb retorted, more than a little annoyed that anyone would suggest he’d carry out such an extreme action without carefully thinking it through first.

“And now what am I gonna do, I can’t keep this helmet on all the time” the laundry complained.

“You can come with use, we’ve got space at the colony, with food... and soap” suggested Jeb, more than a little reviled at the state of the place.

“But I have to stay here so it won’t go ding” was the reply, one which didn’t make much sense to Jeb.

“The ding... what ding?” asked Jeb.

“THE DING” the laundry shouted “the one that must never be heard, the ding that is the death knell of all kerbalkind.”

“The what?” Jeb replied utterly confused.

The laundry pointed towards the dim glow, with its slightly annoying hum, that for some reason was making Jeb hungry.

“I have to reset this countdown every 6 hours or a terrible fate will fall on Kerbin”.

A bit late for that thought Jeb, but replied “countdown of what, what’s going to happen”.

The laundry turned its head looked at Jeb, who saw its face for the first time and they appeared to be another kerbal. A poorly shaven and generally scruffy one, but a kerbal nonetheless.

“The end, of everything, I have to press this button before the countdown ends or all Kerbin will be destroyed” replied the scruffy kerbal.

“Yes, you just told me that, just in a slightly different way... it’s not helping” replied Jeb who was getting a distinct craving for some leftovers.

“This countdown” the kerbal responded, pulling back a piece of panel to reveal a green illuminated four digit display that was ticking down. “I was about to reset it when you blew the hatch and I had to grab a helmet”

Jeb stared at the clock, the kerbal stared at Jeb, waiting for some kind of response from him.

00:03

00:02

00:01

Beep, beep... beep, beep... beep, beep.

“Nooooo” the kerbal screamed “you’ve doomed us all” then started desperately stabbing at a small console below the clock, as the beeping continued.

Jeb stepped forward and shoved his glove into the pile of panels and pipes and gave them a good shove, causing many to fall on the floor. This revealed what at some point in the past would have been a shiny metal box. He then reached towards a small chrome plated handle on the box, pulled on it, opening a small hatch on the front and the beeping ceased.

“It’s a microwave oven” explained Jeb “just a microwave. How long have you been here?”

The kerbal’s head drooped, staring at the floor “I don’t know, I lost track after six years”.

Jeb stepped closer to him and put a hand his shoulder and said “it’s ok, come with me”.

“But the countdown, Kerbin... the doom!” exclaimed the kerbal, on the verge of tears.

“I think it’s done” replied Jeb, looking into the interior of the oven at the very charred remains of what might have once been a pizza, possibly with pineapple.

“Let’s get you up to the surface”.

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Chapter 17 – Guess who’s coming to dinner

 

“Hey it’s pink, never seen a pink one before” – Bob Kerman (KSC Chief Scientist)

1MVSRwc.png

Bob held on to Voyler’s legs, while she dangled through the open hatch. The kerbal Jeb had encountered inside grabbed hold of Voyler’s outstretched glove and between them he was hauled to the surface, closely followed by Jeb.

“Huwfff... I deedn’t know you was so heavy Jeeeb” puffed Voyler, exhausted from the effort.

Jeb didn’t respond, but felt that his weight was sufficiently close to the KSP’s guideline of “comfortably rounded” that he didn’t need to feel self conscious about it, let alone... go on a diet.

Bob and Voyler seemed strangely calm about this new addition to their colony and Voyler only seemed interested in what to call him.

“Can we call him Yubble, or Pensley, or I know, I know... Fluffy” yelled Voyler excitedly.

Jeb shook his head and asked the strange kerbal “So what’s your name, you do have one right?” he asked.

“Erm..., er... Malon, Malon Kerman” the stranger replied a little unsurely.

“THE MAL...” Jeb began, before being cut off by a loud whine from Voyler.

“Awwww... but Fluffy be sooooo much better” complained the engineer “you know, cos of dat fluffy thing on his face”.

Jeb had to agree it was a fine lip rug that the kerbal was sporting, the kind he’d occasionally thought about growing himself, but never had the time to. However it was no reason to replace his name, especially a name that was synonymous with the early days of the space programme.

“Pleased to meet you Malon, but how... I mean how on Kerbin did you get here” asked Jeb more than a little curious to know how a kerbal, last known to be leaving Duna for Kerbin ended up on a moon of Jool.

Malon looked between the three members of the LOST team, Jeb open mouthed in anticipation of his answer, Bob attentive, but a little glum and Voyler repeatedly mouthing the name “Fluffy”.

“It was a long time ago, I... I don’t remember everything, I left Duna for orbit, but overshot the AP and got into an orbit high enough to get snagged by Ike” answered Malon.

“Ah... the Mini Magnet” replied Jeb, well aware of the small moon’s reputation as a wrecker of orbits.

Malon nodded then continued “I tried to turn the Ike slingshot into an orbit around Kerbol that might get me back home after a couple of orbits, but the engine valve stuck open until it drained the main tank... sent me off towards Jool instead. Once I got there and was into that pinball game around Jool. I ended up close enough to this place to adjust course for a landing.”

“Wow” Jeb responded very impressed, although a little envious of this old timer’s navigation skills.

“Jeb” said Bob, leaping into the conversation like some kind of sullen tiger “head back to the colony?”

Jeb turned to the scientist and gave a quick nod before saying "yup, better be getting back" followed by all four climbing into the rover and heading for home.

 

5Tsd8ET.png

As the rover came to a halt near the Hab, Gelsey and Cosley wandered over towards it, to discover if the team had found the source of Bob’s mysterious flashes.

The rover's hatch opened, then the first set of boots stepped out of it and hit the ground, then a second, a third, then... a fourth.

Gelsey stood mouth wide open, she would have screamed but felt too dozey to be bothered with that part of her reaction. Meanwhile Coslin, instantly recognising the new addition to the group, from his picture on the "Wall of Lost Heros" (actually 3 walls plus some air conditioning pipes) checked her air mix setting, as she was clearly hallucinating.

“M... Malon Kerman” Gelsey stammered, still fiddling with the valves on her suit “how... I mean, it is him right” she continued, darting her gaze towards Jeb.

“It is indeed, been here a long time too, so we should get him inside and into a fresh suit” Jeb answered, eager to have the new addition to the colony be in standardized attire.

“Oh no you don’t, this suit’s been with me through thick and thin for 17 years, I ain’t getting into one of those fancy looking things you lot are wearing” Malon responded, panicking at the thought of losing the only thing he’d worn in nearly two decades.

“Ok, ok, can we... well they, at least give it a clean, just on the outside” Jeb countered, with a compromise that didn’t involve anyone (especially him) touching the interior of what must be the most disgusting space suit in existence.

Malon nodded and the group headed for the hatch of the Hab.

 

Some elbow grease and industrial strength cleaning solvents later, Malon’s suit was sufficiently clean for Jeb to authorise it for “temporary use” until the lost pilot could be convinced to swap it for standard LOST gear.

With Tiddles just one day away from Kerbin, Jeb had to focus on making sure that all was ready for his team to be the lone remnants of kerbalkind. So he tasked the LOST team with cleaning the colony vehicle interiors, while he checked anything that could be fermented or distilled were put under lock and key. There would be no apocalypse parties in his colony like those back at the KSC, not on his watch.

 

ojmNObW.png

With the essential work of making the colony spotless and safe from any last minutes alcohol fuelled shenanigans, Jeb, Bob, Coslin and Malon headed outside for some fresh... suit air.

“So I know what brought me to Laythe, but what brings you here, or do you have half the planet colonised by now” asked Malon, assuming that there must have been remarkable advances in astronautical engineering in his absence.

“No, we’re the first to land here... well, we thought we were” replied Jeb, sounding a little disappointed.

“Ok, so exploratory mission then, boots and flag kind of thing?” said Malon.

“Weeeell... long story about that, actually pretty short story” responded Jeb, knowing he was about to pass on a very uncomfortable truth to the new member of the team.

“Uh huh” replied Malon, now expecting a short tale of a list of unvisited planets, some shot glasses and some dice.

“Ok” started Jeb, not quite knowing how to break the imminent doom for Kerbin to this long lost traveller. “You remember Kerbin... the crystal clear blue seas, the vast expanses of grassland, the snow capped mountain peaks”.

“Oh yeah, I can picture it now, there were days when I thought I’d never see it again, but now that you’re here, I can almost smell the ocean”.

“Weeeell... only for another 21 hours” said Jeb, suddenly cutting off Malon’s reverie.

“What do you mean, only for another 21 hours” said Malon, a distinct tremble in his voice.

“Actually, it’s closer to 20 now, what with all the cleaning and locking away the fruit snacks I just didn’t get round to checking the tim...” began Jeb before Malon’s chopped him off.

“WHAT... what happens in 21 hours?” shrieked the lost adventurer.

“I think you mean 20 hours, well, how do I put this nicely... in 20 hours comet Tiddles...” began Jeb, before being interrupted by Malon’s sniggering.

“Tiddles... someone named a comet Tiddles, really, ah well, I guess there’s a few of them and all the good names got used up” commented Malon, stifling his snigger.

“Well in 20 hours and... 23 minutes, Tiddles is going to hit Kerbin and wipe out all life on it” continued Jeb.

Malon stopped sniggering.

“Nooooo, it can’t be true, not now, not now I get to go ho...” began Malon before a look of anger erupted on his face.

“You stopped me, you stopped me from pushing that button, I told you you’d doom us all” shouted Malon, leaping at Jeb and knocking him to the ground.

“But wait... found out... weeks ago... you... stopped... couple hours... ago” Jeb tried to explain, while Malon had him pinned down, slapping at his helmet.

Bob and Coslin dragged Malon off of Jeb, who climbed back to his feet and started brushing the dust from his suit.

“Huu ahh huu ahh huu” panted Jeb, getting his breath back “we found out about Tiddles weeks ago”.

Malon then started touching the fingers of one glove to the thumb of the other in a very deliberate fashion, while muttering numbers under his breath.

“Ok, I believe ya” repluied Malon, satisfied with his fingertips calculation “but I thought none of the comets came close to Kerbin, asteroids sure, they hit all the time without the place getting a scratch, but comets?”.

Bob who’d been silent the whole time, not that it was much of a change for him, gave him an answer.

“It was me” blurted Bob, who then for a moment felt like he’d just fallen into free fall, his whole body numb. It was followed by fear, hunger, then some other kind of sensation a bit like sitting in a warm bath ... then relief.

“WHAT?” screamed Coslin.

Bob stared towards the Hab, unable to look any of those around him in the eye, swallowed then spoke.

“I caused, I... I errr, changed Tiddles path towards Kerbin” he said, his voice shaky and low.

“No, no, doesn’t make sense, you couldn’t have done that, how would you move a comet” stated Jeb, sure that it wasn’t a physical possibility and even if it was, the scientist he’d known for most of his career would have had a very good reason to do it.

Not moving his gaze from the Hab, Bob explained.

“Remember project MOROS?” he began.

“Uh huh, that Massive Ordinance... something, something” replied Jeb.

“Massive Ordinance Rocket On Standby, it was a plan to redirect a comet towards Laythe” Bob explained.

“Er... why” Malon asked, curious why you wouldn’t let sleeping comets lie.

“We didn’t know what they were made of, or what they would do if they hit a planet. We knew that asteroids just poofed out of existence as soon as they hit the atmosphere, but comets... we were worried about those.” Bob continued.

“But they don’t come anywhere near Kerbin, so why would we care, besides it sounds like a waste of some perfectly good space hardware” enquired Jeb, suddenly remembering that the programme had a pretty big budget.

“But if one did come our way, we’d want to know what to do... ignore it like those paper mache asteroids, or start some kind of evacuation plan.” Bob answered.

Malon started to laugh, at first a light jovial chuckle that turned in a deep belly laugh that had him falling on the ground clutching his stomach.

“And I thought I... and all the time you...” said Malon struggling through his laughter.

“All that button pushing... the sleepless nights... the aching finger” he continued.

“But we didn’t know” Bob started, clearly more than a little distraught “it looked good after the explosion we set off, it headed straight for an intercept with Laythe, but then it got in amongst all those moons and...” he trailed off, completing his description of the failure of the project, with an expletive filled rant at Tylo.

“So what happened, after it passed Tylo” asked Coslin, her initial anger having passed, replaced by curiosity about the mechanics of how it got to Kerbin.

“We lost track of it... it was a long way off the main plane, the orbit was even more hinky than Dres’. Then 9 years later we picked it up again, headed for a collision with Kerbin” Bob replied, glad to get to the end of his tale orbital mechanics and large explosions.

“Oh” Coslin said, rather disappointed by the rather uninformative answer, “but if you lost track of it, how do you know it was the comet that you diverted” she asked, offering Bob a way out of his rather sticky, species destroying situation.

“It was pink, you have any idea how rare pink comets are?” Bob snapped, not going to be tricked out of the blame that easily.

“Errr...” began Coslin.

“It’s the only one we’ve ever seen, that’s how rare” continued Bob.

“Ah... ok, but how were you to know that Tylo...” began Coslin.

“Because I’m a scientist, it’s my job to know" Bob retorted.

Bob wasn’t wrong.

KSP - Contract of Employment:  Section2b (Responsibilities of Chief Scientist)

 

1.       Knowing stuff... lots of stuff, preferably stuff involving long names and even longer equations spread over multiple blackboards. Alternatively equiations can be on table napkins, but only if space on nearby blackboards is unavailable and the employee has neat handwriting.

 

2.       Walking the Mission Director’s dog (Mondays and Thursdays).

 

Bob, Jeb and Coslin stood silently, looking at the ground, processing this shocking news. Meanwhile Malon had a wide smile on his face, knowing it wouldn’t be he who’d be the bringer of doom to his species. He stretched his arms out above him, arching his back as he did so, then asked the question foremost in his mind.

“So... what’s for dinner?”

Edited by purpleivan
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  • 1 year later...

@Admiral FluffyThere should be, even though I've not written anything for LOST on Laythe in about 18 months. I have the plot outlined for the remainder of the story, I've just had a lot of thing getting in the way of completing it here. I definitely plan to finish this though, even though it's been on hiatus for a long time.

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