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Kerbin Exploration Project [On indefinite hold] (Warning, image heavy!)


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Ever since I found the fantastic Heisenberg mod by @Angel-125, I've wanted to fly an airship around Kerbin and see the sights, especially since its terrain is probably the most interesting in the unmodified Kerbol system. I was planning to just have reports in a similar fashion to my mission report thread, but then I realised that this was the perfect opportunity to write my own fan-fiction story. This is taking a lot of inspiration from Angel's own K.E.E.P story, but I hope to weave in some elements from @adsii1970's Kerny Kerman's Journals and @Just Jim's Saga of Emiko Station, if I can. (Big shout-out to you guys by the way - your stories are fantastic!) :D

This story centres around the United Kerbin Ship Deep Purple, which is a nuclear-powered flying aircraft carrier propelled by six electric ducted fans. It is equipped with two rovers and a tilt-rotor helicopter which allow the crew to explore the places where the seventy-metre airship cannot go. After a nuclear war decimated Kerbin 2000 years ago, radically reshaping the surface and forcing Kerbalkind underground, the Purple's mission is to build up new and detailed maps of the planet, and boldly go where no Kerbal has gone in millennia.

On with the prologue, where the Purple loads up on its cargo and makes its first flight out to the Island Airfield.

Spoiler

Prologue - The Shakedown Cruise

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"Up ship" Captain Valentina Kerman of the UKS Deep Purple watched from her seat inside the command gondola of the airship as her first officer, Milrie Kerman, carefully manoeuvred the huge dirigible up into the air. "Kelzor, are the gas bags doing alright?"

Kelzor Kerman, the ship's chief engineer, responded from his station further back in the gondola. "Looking pretty good, captain. It's taking off quite nicely without the heavy rovers and tiltrotor up on the hangar deck, but it's going to be more sluggish when we have all of that loaded up. The engineering simulations say it'll naturally drift downwards under the heavy load, but it's manageable."

"Great! Milrie, continue." The captain relaxed in her chair and smiled.

Milrie nudged the Purple's compressed air RCS system to move the airship to the side of the runway, so the two rovers and the tiltrotor could make their way into the hangar deck of the huge flying aircraft carrier. His months of training allowed him to precisely land the vessel beside KSC's runway, and await the tiltrotor runabout's arrival.

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After stealing a rocket to fly to the space station, Jebediah Kerman had been relegated to more mundane tasks for the time being. His flying was still excellent, however, and so the hotshot pilot was given the job of flying the Deep Purple's tiltrotor runabout over to the airship.

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Soon enough, the aircraft landed atop the Purple, and was brought inside the cargo bay by the lift and strapped down by Kelzor, while Jeb returned to his desk job in the Astronaut Complex. It was vitally important that any payload being carried was strapped down properly, lest it move in flight.

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Before long, the two rovers were brought inside and locked down as well. It was time to go, but not before Valentina and Milrie went through their lengthy pre-flight checklist.

Finally, Valentina hailed the control tower: "KSC Tower, this is UKS Deep Purple, registry zero-one-zero-one. We are go for flight, over."

"Deep Purple zero-one-zero-one, airspace is clear. Your request is accepted. You are cleared for flight, over."

Valentina looked over at Milrie and grinned. "Up ship. Steady as she goes, Commander."

"Copy that Captain." The ship groaned with the heavy load, but slowly rose. Milrie gunned the engines and the ship began to accelerate.

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As the Purple overflew the tower, Valentina gave another command: "Set course for the Island Airfield, heading zero-niner-six. Full speed ahead."

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With a maximum speed of 48 m/s - less than the takeoff speeds of many conventional aircraft - the Deep Purple was not fast, but it made up for it with its near-infinite range and high carrying capacity. Milrie set the flight computer to maintain speed and altitude, and sat back to watch the world go by.

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But soon, the airship was coming in for a landing at the dilapidated airfield, long-abandoned - its control tower crumbling, its hangars empty save for a few rusting rocket parts. It wasn't much, but for the crew of the UKS Deep Purple, it was the first stop of many, on a long adventure.

Thank you for reading :D

Please tell me what you think...this is my first fan-fiction, and I'm sure there's room for improvement. (Chapter list is below).

 

Edited by RealKerbal3x
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4 minutes ago, Angel-125 said:

Looks like fun! I look forward to reading your adventures. If you get the DLC, that'll add to it too! :)

I’m going to be getting the DLC as soon as I can, maybe I’ll be able to put the robotics and surface experiments to use :D

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Time for chapter 1!

Spoiler

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Not long after the UKS Deep Purple landed at the Island Airfield, named Rosie Island after the first Kerbal to walk on Minmus, it was time to deploy the airship's compliment of exploratory vehicles. Milrie offered to give one of the rovers its first field test.

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Milrie called Valentina on the rover's comms system. "Deep Purple, this is Rover 1. I'm going to take the rover up the hill overlooking the airfield. See you when I get back."

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"Copy that, Rover 1. Don't try anything silly."

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Soon, Milrie was pushing the rover up the steep hill. Despite the 25 degree incline, the rover was able to slowly accelerate up the hill. 

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When the rover got to the top, it was easier going. There was only a shallow incline for a few hundred metres to the peak of the cliff.

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Eventually Milrie was able to enjoy the view at the top of the hill. However, he wanted to get down fast, rather than take the long way round.

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Riding the brakes nearly the whole way down, he was able to drive the rover down the near-45 degree cliff without causing any damage to the vehicle. He knew Valentina would get mad at him when he got back, but this was the fastest way down.

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Later, once Milrie had secured the rover back down (and been chewed out by the captain) Valentina and Kelzor decided to take the tiltrotor out for a flight round the island - partly to test out the capabilities of the helicopter, partly for fun. She had offered for the two scientists, Melbur and Sieuki, to come as well, but they had refused, explaining that they were 'busy'.

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The two powerful engines lifted the aircraft off the deck easily, and then Valentina transitioned it to horizontal flight mode for a cruise around the island.

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As the captain expertly manoeuvred the aircraft past the island's lone peak, Kelzor felt himself going a shade of dark green. He had become accustomed to flying in airships during his training and the sudden movements of a conventional aircraft now brought him to the brink of vomiting. He stared at the horizon in a futile attempt to rid himself of nausea.

Valentina looked over at him. "Doing alright there, grease monkey*?"

Kelzor gulped and turned an even darker colour. "I...hate...flying." He let out a short and unconvincing laugh.

"Don't worry" Valentina laughed as she made a hard banking turn. "You'll get used to it."

Kelzor looked at her again, as if to say, 'Seriously?' before continuing to stare out at the mountains in the distance.

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Eventually Valentina transitioned the tiltrotor back to VTOL mode in preparation for landing. The helicopter was a little hard to control precisely, but eventually** she was able to land it back atop the Deep Purple. 

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The tiltrotor was soon squared away below decks, and the crew spent their first night inside the fairly spacious accommodations of the Purple. But it was time to move on.

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So, the next morning, the airship departed Rosie Island for its next destination...and beyond.

*OK, if there are monkey-like creatures on Kerbin, then I don't think they'd actually be called 'monkeys'. But if we were translating Kerbalese to English, I think it would be fair enough to translate the word for the Kerbal equivalent of a monkey to the word 'monkey'.

**This is taking it lightly. The tiltrotor is very hard to land precisely, even with the compressed air RCS, and for me it was twenty minutes of cursing, mashing the keyboard and reloading. @Angel-125, could you give any tips on flying and landing these things? 

 

Edited by RealKerbal3x
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1 minute ago, Angel-125 said:

@RealKerbal3x: The tilt-rotor is a challenge to fly, and Hover Mode is your friend. Keep it as level as you can and use the compressed air RCS as much as possible to move around. It does take awhile to get the hang of it..

Thanks for the tips...the hover mode is especially useful. You’re right, it is a challenge, especially because if you have even a slight pitch or roll you’ll start moving. It didn’t help that my computer was in a bad mood when I was flying the tilt-rotor and only wanted to run the game at 15 FPS :P

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The trip begins in earnest, with chapter 2!

Spoiler

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Leaving Rosie Island behind, the Deep Purple headed to its next destination - a large, flat island northeast of KSC. Apparently, Jeb had seen it out of the window of his Moho-1 spacecraft - the first kermanned craft to leave the atmosphere - and said 'Hey, that's a big island'. The name had stuck.

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Big Island was over 100km from Rosie Island, at least an hour's flight for the airship. Ordering Milrie to keep the Purple on course, Valentina headed aft to the science lab to talk to the two scientists.

When Val reached the lab, she found Melbur examining a rock, and Sieuki reading a book about ancient Kerbal mythology.

"How are you doing girls?" she asked. "We're now underway to Big Island, it should be a little over an hour for us to reach it."
Melbur responded with "I'm alright. I'm actually doing some science here, but our resident bookworm appears to be too interested in her mythology to help me."
"Hey!" Sieuki retorted playfully. "All you've been doing is pointing your thermometer at that rock for the past hour, so you can't say anything. Besides, this book is going to be rather useful later. What if we encounter any ancient artifacts?"
"Fair enough. The only thing I know about ancient mythology is the Six Onlookers - Moho, the god of fire and magma. Eve, the goddess of love, beauty and the colour purple - at least until we found out what Eve was really like. Duna, the god of war. Dres - I can't remember - the god of boredom or something? Jool, the king of the gods, with his five daughters - Laythe, Vall, Tylo, Bop and Pol. And of course Eeloo, the keeper of the Underworld."
Valentina joined in. "I've heard that according to ancient texts, the Universe was created by a group of omnipotent deities called SQUAD, which was first brought together by a being known as the Harvester. It says that SQUAD had to battle the Kraken for control of the universe, but they eventually won using a weapon that is known in legend as Krakensbane."

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Sieuki flipped through a few pages in her book. "Ah, here we are. A few fanatical followers of the ancient scriptures say that SQUAD are still around and occasionally tinker with the universe to this day, but they're vastly changed since their battle with the Kraken. Apparently, the Harvester is no longer a part of SQUAD, and it's left for another cosmos."*

As Valentina, Melbur and Sieuki continued their discussion about ancient Kerbal mythology, the Deep Purple continued across Booster Bay, so named because it's where the booster stages of rockets fall when they launch from KSC. Eventually, Big Island hoved into view. 

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Milrie called out over the intercom: "Captain to the command gondola. Big Island is in view."

Sitting back in her seat, Val picked up her binoculars and took a closer look at the island, and then turned back to Milrie.

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"That's, well, a big island" she said. "There's a bit of a hill on one side, but the rest of the island is nice and flat and should be perfect to land the Purple on."

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"I think that hill will be a nice target for a rover expedition. The scientists need to stretch their legs, anyway."
Val responded: "Let's worry about that after we've landed. I want this ship down in one piece."
"Copy that, ma'am."

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Passing above the rather steep cliffs that surrounded Big Island, Milrie looked for a landing spot. Luckily, he was spoilt for choice.

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The airship went to reverse thrust to slow it from its 48 m/s top speed, and then Commander Milrie deftly set the airship down using the RCS and the two powerful gyro rings.

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"And...touchdown."
"Nice work, Commander. Time for the post-landing checklist."
"Engines off. Flight computer and attitude control systems to off. Brakes on. Nuclear reactors shutting down."
"Lovely" Valentina said in response. "Well, let's go to work, shall we?

*Yes, I'm attempting to mythologise KSP's creation :D

 

Edited by RealKerbal3x
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Chapter 3 is here, and the Deep Purple's crew go for a little drive...

Spoiler

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Soon after arriving at Big Island, Captain Valentina put together an away team - Milrie, Tanble, Melbur and Sieuki. Their mission was to take one of the rovers to the summits of the two small hills at the southeast end of the island.

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Tanble sat next to Milrie in the front of the rover. "You know, I was on the team at Wild Blue Industries that built these Buffalo rovers. The CEO of WBI, Angelo Kerman, is quite the visionary. He says that this system is supposed to be completely modular - a couple of trained engineers can disassemble and then reassemble this rover in less than an hour."
"It's really comfortable, actually" Milrie smiled. "There's enough space in the back for two Kerbals to live for a few days, and we'll need it - later in the mission we'll be taking the Purple up north to the tallest mountain on Kerbin. From orbital data, it appears that the mountain is over six kilometres tall."
"The rover can handle that." Tanble grinned. "It can accelerate up 25-degree inclines, for SQUAD's sake."

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Only a few minutes later, the rover was approaching the smaller of the two hills.

"Looks easy." Milrie said, gunning the rover. "Let's see how fast we can reach the summit."

***

Milrie drove the rover to the top of the hill in record time. The hill reached an altitude of over 610 metres above sea level, meaning that it technically counted as a mountain*. Melbur got out to plant a flag at the summit. 

"Nice view from up here." She paused to pick up some dirt, before examining it. "The soil up here is pretty dry, without many nutrients. A farm up here wouldn't be very successful, not that you'd want to build a farm here anyway."
"Come back to the rover now, Melbur." Milrie radioed. "We need to get to the top of the other mountain over there."
"OK, Mum." Melbur smirked. "I'm just planting my flag, I'll be back in a second."

Melbur pulled the extensible flag from her pocket, and turned the latch to deploy the flag. She then planted it firmly in the ground.

"I dub thee...Mount Medium!"

***

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Soon, the rover was making headway up the other mountain, which reached almost 1300m in height. Once they reached the summit, Tanble offered to go out and plant the flag. The rover parked a hundred or so metres away from the summit, so Tanble had to get some exercise.

"I'm almost..there" he puffed. "Can we name this mountain Mount Stitch?"
"That's a negatory, engineer." Milrie radioed in response. "I suggest continuing the unimaginative naming theme of this island. You know, Big Island, Mount Medium..."
"Alright, commander. I'm here now, and it's quite the view..."

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Tanble planted his flag, dubbing the peak Mount Big, and then got out his binoculars to take a look at the marvellous view. To his northeast, he could see a sandbar sticking out into the sea from the island, and further off, probably hundreds of kilometres away, there were the white peaks of mountains much greater than the one he was standing on.

"The world's a big place." he muttered under his breath. "Let's go and explore it."

***

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After their trip to the top of two mountains, Rover 2 returned to the rolling plain where the Purple stood. Milrie sent a radio message out to the airship.

"Deep Purple, this is Rover 2. We're almost home. Tell me, where's our next destination?"
Valentina said, "We're heading east, Number One."
"Number One? Isn't that from an old science fiction series?"
"I've got every episode of Space Hike* on my computer. That's what Captain Jean-Luc Kerman calls his first officer."
"Captain...you're more of a nerd than I thought." Milrie grinned. "I guess it's time to boldly go."

*610 metres is the official definition of a mountain in the UK (where I live).

 

Edited by RealKerbal3x
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On 5/25/2019 at 9:38 AM, RealKerbal3x said:

"The world's a big place." he muttered under his breath. "Let's go and explore it."

Definitely! Looking forward to seeing what your crew discovers.

On 5/25/2019 at 9:38 AM, RealKerbal3x said:

Space Hike

I can see the tagline now: Take a hike! :)

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On 5/26/2019 at 6:09 PM, Angel-125 said:

I can see the tagline now: Take a hike! :)

I always tend to add asterisks and then forget about writing footnotes :P. The joke’s that Space Hike is roughly synonymous with Star Trek.

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1 hour ago, The Minmus Derp said:

THIS IS SO COOL

Thanks...the Purple should be flying to its next destination tomorrow, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to write up Chapter 4 tomorrow as well.

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I will be offline until Saturday evening - annoyingly, missing the release of Breaking Ground :mad: - but here's a new chapter to tide everyone over until then.

Spoiler

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Its time on Big Island at an end, the UKS Deep Purple took off to the east for its next port of call - a rather large peninsula that marked the opposite side of Booster Bay.

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"We are away, captain." Milrie engaged the engines, and the great ship of the sky began to move away. "I'm increasing our vertical speed to five metres per second, so we can avoid Medium Peak."
"Keep us on course, Milrie." The captain got up from her chair. "If you don't mind, I'm going to have a nice hot mug of koi*."
"Go ahead." The first officer smiled. "Those nuclear reactors have a surplus of power - you could run fifty kettles and still have enough juice to run the ducted fans."

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With Milrie at the helm, the Purple soon crested Medium Peak. The flag that Melbur had planted atop it was just about visible from the command gondola. This was going to be a long flight, so as the airship cruised over the steep shore of Big Island, Milrie set the automatic pilot to maintain the course, put his headphones on, grabbed a box of snacks (his favourites were salted noots**), and watched as he flew across northern Booster Bay.

***

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In the habitation section of the forward gondola, Melbur was sitting at the table and fiddling with a black rock. Valentina was standing at the other side of the room, making her mug of koi. 

Val poured the hot water into her mug, and began to stir. "What's that you've got there, Melbur?"
"A rock - well, I think it's a rock - that I found at the top of Medium Peak." She looked up. "Analysis shows it's very old, but I don't know much else about it - oh, other than the fact that it's slightly radioactive, and rather heavy."
"Do you have any idea exactly how old it is?" Valentina asked, pouring some bles*** into her steaming mug.
"As far as I can tell, it formed about 1500 years ago - long before the Emergence, and back when Kerbin was still an uninhabitable wasteland."
"Weird." Val took a tentative sip of her koi, then put it down heavily as she gulped. "Hot..."

***

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The Deep Purple continued to fly across Booster Bay. Soon, the navigational beacons for the two flags on Big Island - which had a range of 100km - went out of range.

Eventually, the eastern peninsula came into view.

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Captain Valentina returned to the command gondola. "Ahh, a cup of koi does you good, right?"
"Meh..." Milrie responded. "I prefer a koffee****."

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"Any ideas for names?" Valentina said, looking over the patchwork of grass and water. "There's a lot of lakes."
"How about..." Milrie pondered. "Would 'Cove of Lakes' work?"
"Sure, why not? Cove of Lakes it is."

***

The Purple descended to a landing on one of the beaches of the Cove of Lakes.

Tanble and Kelzor sat above Val and Milrie, on the observation deck.
"This is stop 3, of how many?" Kelzor looked across at his fellow engineer.
"27, I believe. We've a long way to go."
"Indeed we have."

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*Koi is roughly equivalent to tea in my Kerbals' universe.
**An equivalent of salted peanuts.
***Sorta like milk.
****Is this not obvious? :P

 

Edited by RealKerbal3x
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So, I will be getting back to this soon. The thing I'm waiting for is KAS updating, since 1.7.1 broke it.  KAS is a pretty essential mod for the KEP because KAS telescopic joints hold the rovers and tiltrotor in place inside the Deep Purple's hangar deck.

At least I'm able to make some progress...part of the next chapter will have space scenes that don't depend on me using KAS to 'shoot' them. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

He bacc!

Here's another chapter. In this, the Deep Purple gets a pizza delivery, essentially.

Spoiler

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After the Deep Purple landed in Cove of Lakes, Captain Valentina let her crew rest for a while - the flight from Big Island had been long and tedious. After they had recuperated, she arranged a meeting in the gondola's briefing room.

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"This afternoon" she began "STS-7 launched from KSC. And its payload is pretty special."
"I thought it was classified." Tanble dug around in his bag of snacks. "Do you know what it is?"
"It's a surface scanner." Val looked around at her crew. "We'll be able to connect the Purple's navicomp to it and set waypoints."

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Sitting across the table, Milrie grinned. "Yeah, no more navigating by eye! That was getting really annoying."

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Kelzor looked down at the mission log he was holding. "This was the second test of the new robotic arm. The first time it was tested was on STS-6, when it failed. This time it was a partial success."
"Why partial?" Sieuki asked.
"Well, the end effector didn't get a very good hold on the satellite, which meant it drifted off prematurely. But we've still got our satellite."

The meeting continued for over an hour, as the Purple's crew discussed various aspects of the shuttle mission, and other things that needed attention. It would have gone on longer, had it not been abruptly ended by the loud drone of ducted fans from above.

Valentina twisted around to look out of the window, and craned her neck to see if she could get a look at whatever was making the racket. But she couldn't see anything.
Milrie jumped up from his seat. "You probably won't be able to see whatever that is from in here, Captain. I'll go outside and look."

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Hastily jumping down from the gondola, Milrie looked up to see the familiar cigar-shape of an airship. He took out his binoculars to have a closer look, before radioing his captain.

"Captain! There's another airship coming in! It's the Led Zeppelin*!"

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Val radioed back: "Led Zeppelin? The recovery airship? What's she doing here?"
Milrie responded: "I have no idea. We weren't told about this."
"Can you try to hail her? I want to talk to the captain."

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"Copy that. Patching you through now."
"Led Zeppelin, this is Captain Valentina Kerman of the UKS Deep Purple. Acknowledge."
"This is Captain Jenzon Kerman. Good evening, explorers."

***

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Soon after the Zepellin landed, Val went out to meet Captain Jenzon.

"What are you doing out here, Jenzon?" she asked. "I thought the Zep wasn't due for completion for another ten days."
"Well, we wanted to do a shakedown cruise, and you weren't going to be this close to KSC for long, so we told the engineers to hurry up."
"How long is she?" queried Milrie, looking up at the new arrival.
"75m. Five metres longer than your Deep Purple." Jenzon smiled.
"What's her maximum altitude?"
"We actually haven't tested that yet. We might give it a go on the return trip to KSC." He pulled out his radio. "Rosie, open the doors please."

Two huge doors slid open to reveal a cavernous hold, with a small cargo pod at the top. "I'm sorry that you weren't informed of our visit beforehand." Jenzon pointed to the cargo pod. "But we did bring you some presents." 

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A winch lowered the pod to the ground, before detaching and retracting.

Jenzon gesticulated toward one of the grey boxes on the sides of the pod. "Those boxes contain surface experiment packages. You can get your scientists to set them up near whatever they want to make long-term studies on. But there's only two, so they'll have to choose wisely.

"In the white container we brought you some spares - connector ports, a telescopic tie-down, a couple of extra electric screwdrivers."
"Well, thanks, Jenzon. Those will be very useful. But please, next time, inform us if you're going to come galumphing in with your ship."
"Will do, Captain. And if you'll excuse me, I think it's time to find out how comfortable this new ship's berths are."
"See you tomorrow." Valentina turned back to Milrie as Jenzon walked away. "I think it's time we turned in as well. It's been a long day, and we've got exploring to do in the morning."

*I think you probably understand my airship naming scheme now :P

 

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A little note that I forgot to include with the latest chapter: this week and next week, I have my end-of-year exams at school, and I need to study for them. This puts playing KSP rather low on the priorities, especially because flying airships across the planet is extremely time-consuming. Don’t expect a new chapter for at least two weeks.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just one more exam to go, on Friday...hopefully this weekend I'll be able to start work on a new chapter.

Oh, and I've made some plans for how this story is going to pan out...I hope you'll like it :D

Edited by RealKerbal3x
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1 hour ago, josselin2196 said:

Can you share the craft file? i want to try your buffalo VTOL. Trying to make one for hours but it never finish very well for jeb.

The tiltrotor is very similar to the stock craft that @Angel-125 provides with the mod, since I didn’t have much luck building my own either. All I did was attach a KAS winch at the COM for lifting stuff, and 4 JV-6 jets for moving it about in the Deep Purple’s cargo hold. I’d recommend you just get that (it should be in a Ships folder inside the zip when you download the mod) and modify it to your needs.

I may upload the craft files (depending on if people want them) for the airship and rovers when I’ve finished the journey, but since the VTOL is so similar to the craft that comes with the Buffalo mod I figured that you could just use that :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

I apologise to those of you who read this for the lack of new chapters. The problem is, the part count on the airship absolutely destroys my framerate. This removes a lot of the fun factor and means that I'm not particularly motivated to fly it, especially because the game kept crashing when I tried it today. I'll give it another go tomorrow - I really don't want to abandon this.

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