KSK

First Flight (Chapter 101 - A is for Acorn)

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5 hours ago, KSK said:

 

Incidentally, I ran a word count for interest (since we're talking about sequels) and the story so far weighs in at 258,953 words. The final count probably won't be far short of 300,000. Depending on typesetting, a paperback will normally have about 350-400 words per page, so we're looking at a final page count of somewhere between 750 and 850 pages for First Flight.

I reckon that's either two decent sized novels (for the genre), a slightly undernourished trilogy or possibly the kind of doorstop tome that normally comes with a fake gold leaf embossed title and will serve as a spare table leg in an emergency. A sizeable pile of words either way.

For reference, that's longer than most of the books in the Dark Tower series and dangerously flirting with Song of Ice and Fire lengths. :D You're into solid Wheel of Time territory, and you've already blown away any Harry Potters, sunk Moby Dick, and confined Crime and Punishment. The Lord of the Rings, however, continues to leer down at you from it's black tower built on the corpses of a thousand dead trees. :wink:

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I just read the world building "micro essays", I love the detail of this world (one of the things I face when writing is the risk of writing too many notes akin to those rather than the actual story).

Also, I completely understand writing the ending as soon as it comes to mind, with every iteration of my story project the ending sequence is thought out, often before I put pencil to paper (I'm attempting to write a graphic novel) on the first page.

Looking forward to the next chapter.

Aku

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7 hours ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

For reference, that's longer than most of the books in the Dark Tower series and dangerously flirting with Song of Ice and Fire lengths. :D You're into solid Wheel of Time territory, and you've already blown away any Harry Potters, sunk Moby Dick, and confined Crime and Punishment. The Lord of the Rings, however, continues to leer down at you from it's black tower built on the corpses of a thousand dead trees. :wink:

On the other hand, I know of a fanfic for another fandom that's around 625,000 words (handily beating out both The Lord of the Rings and War and Peace), and a spinoff of that one that's somewhere significantly north of a million words.  And I can't say for sure that that's the longest fanfic ever written, so anyone who wants to write "the longest fanfic ever" has a pretty big hill to climb.  :P

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4 hours ago, SilverlightPony said:

On the other hand, I know of a fanfic for another fandom that's around 625,000 words (handily beating out both The Lord of the Rings and War and Peace), and a spinoff of that one that's somewhere significantly north of a million words.  And I can't say for sure that that's the longest fanfic ever written, so anyone who wants to write "the longest fanfic ever" has a pretty big hill to climb.  :P

Ok, I've got ask... where are they from?

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Not sure what @SilverlightPony has in mind but I've read a Harry Potter fanfic that was basically an alternative universe retelling of all seven books. So that must be up in the million word range I would think. It wasn't at all bad either - I preferred significant chunks of it to the canon material.

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4 hours ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

Ok, I've got ask... where are they from?

Believe it or not, My Little Pony:P  The fics in question are, respectively, Fallout: Equestria and the spin-off Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons.

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8 hours ago, SilverlightPony said:

Believe it or not, My Little Pony:P  The fics in question are, respectively, Fallout: Equestria and the spin-off Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons.

Ah so.  Not at all surprising that it's MLP. Some dedicated fans, there. 

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I read a multiauthor crossover Tom CLancy Ryan-verse and Battletech, literally having the two universes finding themselves co-existing suddenly. Quality and style varied, but what was good was REALLY good.
Sadly, it seems to have fizzled out, but it went on aways too.

Edited by Ravens_cry

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I have to confess - I don't really grok MLP but I guess it's a big enough internet for everyone. Then again, I'm writing fan-fic about googly-eyed green aliens so who am I to judge.

Epilogue is done. It'll no doubt benefit from being stuck in a metaphorical desk drawer for a few months and then from a final round of editing before it's needed but I'm pretty happy with it right now. Without wishing to be too pretentious, it takes the story back to its roots in some ways but should still end it on a suitable note!  Definitely looking forward to sharing it, along with the final chapter - and I understand that it's traditional to finish the rest of the story first, so I'd best crack on with that now. :)

Edited by KSK

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2 hours ago, KSK said:

I have to confess - I don't really grok MLP but I guess it's a big enough internet for everyone. Then again, I'm writing fan-fic about googly-eyed green aliens so who am I to judge.

Epilogue is done. It'll no doubt benefit from being stuck in a metaphorical desk drawer for a few months and then from a final round of editing before it's needed but I'm pretty happy with it right now. Without wishing to be too pretentious, it takes the story back to its roots in some ways but should still end it on a suitable note!  Definitely looking forward to sharing it, along with the final chapter - and I understand that it's traditional to finish the rest of the story first, so I'd best crack on with that now. :)

Really dying to see how you're going to wrap this up, seeing as how the "sequel" was begun before you were even halfway thru. :wink:

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10 hours ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

Really dying to see how you're going to wrap this up, seeing as how the "sequel" was begun before you were even halfway thru. :wink:

Fortunately, Jake had the great good sense to set his sequel relatively far in the future and to be deliberately vague about timelines. I don't think it's ever mentioned explicitly in the story but from the various thread comments, The Next Frontier is set approximately 30 years after the events of First Flight. That gives me quite a bit of wiggle room, especially if you count the events set out in the epilogue. :) More importantly, it gave Jake enough wiggle room to write a loose sequel for a story in progress.

I don't think I'm giving too much away if I say that First Flight is not going to end with Starfarer 1 in a parking orbit around Kerbin. :) However, the story will be heading Next Frontier-wards by the end and I've had a lot of fun working bits of Jake's world-building into my epilogue.

Jake writing The Next Frontier in parallel with me writing the formative chunks of First Flight was a lot of fun and really helpful. On a practical note there's nothing quite like a peek into the future to help steer the direction of a story. :) And having bits of Jake's world-building to draw on and watching him build bits of my world-building (as and when it came out) into his story was a real buzz.

 

Edited by KSK

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Next chapter is up. Fair warning - this is about the darkest one to date.

A Grove for a Grove.

The wind howled against the cliff face, catching against the craggy overhangs and swirling over jutting edges of rock with a sepulchral moan. On the cliff top, a snow griv dropped onto all fours and raised its muzzle to the sky, adding its own shivering howl to the mournful chorus, as if to welcome the ghosts of history home to roost.

The squad leader suppressed a shiver as he studied the four mountaineers in front of him. Three tough, weatherbeaten kerbals, any one of whom looked like they could, and probably had, faced down a charging scallan. Their sergeant, Lukin, wore a band of dirty grey gronnek fur around the edge of his snow hood. Deep set eyes watched the squad leader from a nest of wrinkles and more than a kerbals's fair share of scars. Gronneks don't shoot back though. And scallans don't have families. None that you'd care about anyway. A gust of wind rattled the hut windows, shaking the heavy black drapes stapled over them and keening through a chink in the slatted walls. Safe behind its screen of sooty glass, the flame from the hanging kerosene lamp barely flickered. One the mountaineers flicked a sideways glance at the drapes, before turning her attention back to the squad leader.

"Did you find them?"

Lukin snorted. "Truly. Kerm knows why they're holed up there but they are."

The squad leader shrugged. "The main passes were too obvious and they needed to resupply before breaking clear of the mountains. For sure they won't be refuelling anywhere in Wakira without a fight."

"Figured that part for myself, sir." Lukin kept his face straight with an effort. "Could point them at three, maybe four better places within an hour's drive though."

"I'm sure you could, sergeant. But now you've found them, what did you figure to do about them."

"Draw 'em out and burn 'em down, sir. Open the taps, toss in a special flare or two rigged with sawdust and sparkles - should make a full enough job of them." Lukin hooked a gloved hand over his shoulder. "Let the guards catch a look at this collection of ugly mugs first, all accidental like, to pull 'em away from the camp. Then we knock them on the head, drag 'em behind a rock, and light off the trucks." He scowled at the squad leader's approving look. "Truly. We're Wakirans, not murderers. We'll even leave the seffleks a nice fire to keep warm by. Meantime, I'll be heading off quick and quiet to the first of those safe places."

"Volunteering for bonfire duty, sergeant?"

"Wouldn't trust that lot to keep their eyebrows in one piece, sir."

The squad leader contented himself with a nod. "And afterwards."

"Box gully just south of Hookeye Ridge, sir."

"I know it. Shoes on, people - time to go."

Each of the mountaineers unhooked a pair of four-toed snowshoes from his or her harness and strapped them on. Lukin snuffed out the kerosene lamp and cautiously poked his head out of the door, before gesturing for the squad to follow. They left in single file, rocking slightly on their unevenly soled footwear, snowflakes gusting into the hut behind them.  At a murmured command they headed out into the night at a loping trot, leaving fresh trails of griv paw prints in the snow behind them. The squad leader clapped his sergeant on the shoulder and set off after them.

Doubt the shoes'll fool 'em for long but it might make the difference. And with any luck one of the seffleks'll fetch up against a real griv. Lukin checked the gear on his own harness, tied back the ear flaps on his snow hood and set off down the slope into the wind, drifting noiselessly from one rocky outcrop to the next.

An oily stench of diesel fuel was the first warning that he was getting close, the falling snow muffling sound and sight with equal facility. Cautiously he backed up against the cliff edge, trusting to the weather and his nondescript clothing for concealment. Gradually, his eyes adapted, picking out the expected edges of shadow against the night sky. Four logging trucks formed a perimeter at the edges of the camp, big bowsers of fuel strapped to their trailers. A darker, square bulk occupied the centre, a flicker of yellow light suddenly revealing an open door to a well lit interior and dim figures within.

Convenient. Six in there looks like, so another six on patrol by my last count.  He unhooked a chunky radio handset from his belt and tapped the transmit key twice, then held it for a longer burst. Then he waited.

The sharp clatter of falling stones cut through the snow-swaddled night. There was a long pause and then another, fainter clatter. Lukin crept forward, ears straining for the sound of voices. eyes swivelling from side to side. He glanced up just in time to see a figure silhouetted against the skyline. Another, more distant, clatter reached his ears but still there was no response from the supply camp. Lukin waited patiently.

Kerm. Too dumb to notice or they know exactly what we're about. Either way it seems we're doing this the hard way. He tapped out a second coded transmission, two long bursts followed by three short, then dropped to the ground, edging towards the nearest truck on his belly, reaching for the weighted baton in his belt. One of the shadows by the cab resolved itself into the figure of a guard peering alertly around. Lukin backed away on fingers and toes; circling around, gathering himself.

Like taking down a gronnek.

He sprang to his feet, loping across the snow, weapon held across his chest. The guard spun around, reaching for his belt, just as the baton snapped out and caught him neatly behind the ear with a meaty thud. He dropped to the ground without a whimper. 

Lukin flipped open the bowser hood, studied its innards for a second, then opened the main valve. Diesel gushed onto the snow, the sudden reek making his eyes water. Hastily he pulled out a rag, tied it round the valve to deaden the noise and struck it sharply with his baton. Satisfied that the - now badly bent - handle wasn’t going to close again, he heaved the unconscious guard over his shoulder and took off in a crouching run. He laid the guard down behind the first convenient rock and pulled out his radio, thumb reaching for the transmit key. 

Two answering rattles of static told him that two of the remaining bowsers had been disabled. He clenched his fists, willing the last of the saboteurs to report in. The radio hissed in his hand in one long then two short bursts. Retreating. Cannot engage without compromising position. Lukin swore under his breath then sent his final message of the night. 

Three balls of brilliant white light lit up the sky in quick succession, throwing jagged shadows over the encampment before dropping into the rapidly spreading, glistening slicks of fuel. The cabin door burst open, armed kerbals spilling out, just as the flares burst open with a loud crack scattering sawdust and burning magnesium shavings over the snow. With a deceptively soft whump, the diesel ignited, sending tongues of orange flame racing across the ground. Before the horrified Firesvarn guards could react, the flames reached the trucks, charring paintwork and igniting tyres in blazing clouds of choking black smoke. Metal warped and twisted in the heat, rivets popped, joints flexed open pouring out yet more fuel. 

The guards ran.

Amidst the chaos, three kerbals slipped quietly away into the night, leaving nothing but three trails of boot prints in the snow. A single trail of four toed paw prints, scuffed and dragged out as if made by a wounded animal, petered out amongst a rocky slope leading up to a narrow cave entrance.

—————

“Vanguard is outbound. Bearing two-two-five for waypoint alpha.”

“Copy that, Vanguard.”

Val checked her instruments and, satisfied, leaned back in her ejection seat. “Any news from Zephyr, Control?”

“Just scheduled civilian flights, Vanguard. No Firesvarn movement on the ground, nothing heading for Nordham Bay.”

“Good,” said Val briefly. She glanced out of her cockpit canopy, searching for the rest of her patrol. “Last thing we need is disrupted shipping on top of everything else.” The glint of sunlight on steel revealed two other aircraft flying alongside her in a shallow V formation. She clicked a button. “Ferl - you with us?”

“Right above you,” came the laconic reply. 

“How’s that radar holding up?”

“Doing fine. Too bad there’s nowhere to wedge one into a Cloudrunner.”

“Yeah. We’re dropping to eyeball height. Shout if you see anything up there.”

“Will do.”

Val clicked her radio back to the air-to-ground channel. “Coming up on alpha, Control. Descending to reconnaissance altitude.”

“Copy, Vanguard. They should be expecting you but make sure you stay on the right side of the border anyway.”

“Not a problem, Control. That easterly wind is holding steady - should carry the packages right where they’re needed.”

The four aircraft flew on, the Kolan tundra unrolling relentlessly under them broken only by the thin and, Val was surprised to see, mostly deserted thread of the Northern Highway. Ferl reported a steady stream of radar contacts from the west but after Val’s terse warning to one patrol which came perilously close to crossing the border, the Wakiran forces kept a respectful distance. The tundra began to give way to scrubland and patches of conifer forest, and then to the first signs of cultivated land and kerbal habitation. A light flashed on Val’s instrument panel accompanied by a chime from the waypoint indicator.

“I’ll take the first delivery. Watch my back and for Kerm’s sake make sure you hit the next waypoint!” Val checked her transponder settings and pushed her control stick forward, easing the Cloudrunner into a shallow dive. “We’re here to offer our help - and make a point - we’re not here to get involved!” 

The outskirts of a small kerman town appeared on the horizon, surrounded by a scattering of Groves. Val banked to the right, carefully adjusting her heading, then rolled level and uncaged a button on her control stick. “Vanguard, payload armed.” Her eyes darted from canopy to waypoint indicator and back, judging distances, waiting for the exact moment. “Deploying payload!” She tipped her aircraft onto a wingtip, banking hard left, fingers clenching around the weapon release button. The torpedo pylon under the Cloudrunner’s belly sprang open and a rounded tubular capsule tumbled away towards the ground.

Explosive bolts fired, fragmenting the capsule and scattering hundreds of brightly coloured streamers across the sky, each tied to a small cardboard message tube. The wind caught the streamers, carrying them across the border and depositing them across swathes of Wakiran farmland.

One by one the other Vanguard pilots followed Val’s lead: diving for the border then pulling away leaving nothing behind but a cloud of colourful streamers to flutter down over towns and villages, fields and Kerm trees.

—————

Gunfire hammered down the road, almost drowning out the roar of heavy diesel engines.

Designed to stop a charging snow griv at a safe distance - and if that failed, to put another half-dozen rounds into it before it closed to an unsafe distance - each shot from the heavy, semi-automatic hunting rifles was deafening by itself.  Together, they melted into a brutal, nerve-shredding din that bypassed mere eardrums and pounded the brain to an insensate mass. The Wakiran troops lay flat on the floors of their vehicles, cowering under seats, curling up in footwells, arms wrapped protectively around their heads. Bullets ripped through the air, smashing safety glass, ripping into upholstery, whining off door pillars, ricocheting around passenger compartments.

The platoon leader flung open his door. Under no illusion that a few millimetres of steel would offer any real protection, he peered through the chink between door and hinge, trying to catch a glimpse of the approaching enemy forces. Seeing nothing, he steeled himself to lean out a little further.

The rebounding door slammed into its frame. The truck lurched on its suspension, throwing the commander hard against one arm. He felt, rather than heard, a dull snap. Sheets of jagged fire strobed before his eyes and he clenched his jaw in a futile attempt to not scream. The truck lurched again, steel shrieking against steel as it rocked wildly. The commander tumbled over the handbrake, the blow knocking the wind out of him. He fell against the opposite door and this time the fire was engulfed in black.

He awoke to an ominous silence. One-handed he struggled to haul himself into his seat, not daring to inspect the throbbing weight hanging from his other shoulder. Strange - I thought it would hurt more than this. His hand trailed over the edge of the seat cushion, the momentary friction enough to scrape bone against bone.

Ahh.

Blinking exploding stars out of his eyes, the platoon leader looked around. The truck was ruined; buckled door wedged into its equally buckled frame, side panels bowing inwards and what remained of the roof riddled with bullet holes. Pellets of broken safety glass crunched unnervingly as he shifted in his seat.  The other trucks in his platoon hadn't fared any better. Knocked sideways, or in most cases, off the road altogether, one of them perilously close to fetching up against a tree trunk, their makeshift roadblock had been comprehensively demolished.  The commander screwed his eyes shut against more than the agony in his arm. 

"Squads - report in by truck."

He waited, ignoring the shaken but heartfelt swearing from the back of his own truck. Besides - I couldn't have put it better myself. 

“Alpha-one. Two kerbals down, sir! No fatalities.”

"Alpha-two is all-in. No damage here but bruised egos, sir.”

"Bravo-one  - all-in, shaken but not stirred!”

"Bravo-two - three kerbals down... and we'll be sending Calley back to her Grove, sir."

The radio went very quiet.

"Understood, Bravo-two. Charlie-one?”

“All-in, sir. No shortage of bruises but nothing that'll stop anyone holding a spade for Calley.”

"Copy." He clicked the radio off and carefully turned round in his seat. "Sure wasn't hearing any bruised mouths back there. What about the rest of you?"

"Count us in for spade duty too, sir."

The radio clicked on again. "Charlie-two reporting all-in. Anyone that can move, move. Barrim, Sidgan, please render medical assistance to Alpha-one and Bravo-two. Barrim - a word with you once you're done please. Everyone else - gear check on your transport and equipment. I don't care how much sky you can see through the roof - I want a scouting force after those Firesvarn seffleks before they do any more damage. Start at the two Groves up the road and for Kerm's sake keep your heads down.”

Two of the six trucks were wrecked beyond repair and all of the remaining four were windowless, dented and badly shot up. Fortunately, one of them still had an intact set of tyres and, after a brief inspection, four kerbals from Bravo squad piled in with their equipment and weapons and drove off.  After a brief conference with his sergeant, the platoon leader sent out two patrols drawn from trucks Alpha-two and Charlie-one. Whilst Barrim and Sidgan tended to the injured, the rest of the platoon set to work pushing their vehicles into the middle of the road and overturning them.

By the time the scouting party returned, the roadblock was back in place and a crackling fire built behind it. Bandaged kerbals stood by the warmth, sipping from tin mugs, their comrades busily stripping and cleaning weapons and repacking rucksacks. The side of the road was marked by a shallow mound of fresh earth.

“Report.”

"They didn't go anywhere near either village, sir. Far as we could tell from talking to the villagers, they went out of their way to skirt around both Groves."

A raised eyebrow. "And you took their word for it?"

"No, sir. We recced the area. Checked the rest of the Groves in the group too - nothing doing. The last anybody saw of them, they were heading southeast. Too much territory that way for a quick look, sir and since they don't seem to be looking to take any nearby Groves, we came back to report."

The platoon leader adjusted his sling, scratching absently at the thick roll of bandage around his arm. "If they're not capturing old Groves, they must be trying to claim ground for new ones. Not good but it beats the alternative. Break out the maps."

"Yes, sir." The scout ran back to his truck and retrieved a bundle of acetate rolls, which he quickly spread over the ground. The platoon gathered round, alternately studying the map or their commander.

"Southeast?"

"Yes, sir."

"They're going cross-country then.” He jabbed a finger at a line of hills sheltering an expanse of forest. “Probably heading for the Bouldertops - they’re the nearest clear territory to here. We’ve got them marked for Groves ourselves but they don’t have any defending forces to speak of. Command didn’t reckon we’d need them this far over the border.” The platoon leader grimaced. “Give them enough time to bed in and knotweed would be easier to shift.” He jumped to his feet and made for his truck, followed by his platoon sergeant. “Command’ll need to know about this. For sure we’re not going to be digging them out ourselves.”

——————

Lemke stole through the forest, creeping through the undergrowth, alert for Firesvarn pickets - or for a loose twig underfoot that would give away his position. Up ahead he spotted a tree liberally festooned with balls of twigs and moss, white feathers visible inside some of them. Automatically, he shifted course, working his way around a clump of thorn bushes, staying downwind of the woodjar rookery.

A twig snapped. Lemke froze against a tree trunk, eyes darting left and right. A dip in the ground, fringed by more bushes offered better shelter, the hard ground and drifts of dried thorns underfoot sufficient to hide his passage. He dashed forward, lifting his feet high to avoid scuff marks and dropped to his belly. Silently, his hand dropped to the knife sheathed at his waist.

He spotted a pair of boots through the bushes and held his breath. They stopped and Lemke heard a muffled clink of equipment as the Firesvarn soldier dropped to one knee, fumbling with his laces. Lemke measured the distance between them by eye, mouth suddenly dry. Up, across, head back and slice. One less picket to warn the rest. He set his jaw. I can do this. The Firesvarn straightened up, waited for a nerve-jangling minute then set off again, Lemke’s head swivelling to track him.

I can do this. I have to do this.

Lemke launched himself from the dip and threw himself across the forest floor, drawing his knife as he went. He flung his other arm out in preparation, ready to lock it round his enemy's throat. A mottled olive-and-brown jacket filled his vision, short neck and close-cropped black hair above it. Hair not so very different from his own. Hair that snapped round revealing wide open, terrified eyes.

I can’t do this.

The blade swung up and back. Lemke lashed out, slamming the hilt of his knife awkwardly into the side of the other’s head. The Firesvarn dropped bonelessly to the forest floor, eyes rolling back into their sockets. Lemke dropped the knife and fell to one knee, catching him, fingers feeling for a pulse. When he found the beat, weak but steady, he almost collapsed too, limbs suddenly shaking uncontrollably. 

Can’t leave. Must leave. Must hide. Crush berry.

He dragged the unconscious soldier into the dip he’d just vacated and heaved him onto his side. He broke off a spray of berries from the nearest thornbush and crushed them between his fingers, gagging at the sudden rotting stench. He wiped the brownish juice over the Firesvarn’s face and hands then scrubbed his fingers vigorously on the other’s jacket. 

Not dead but smells dead. Smells bad. Need to find. Make trail.

Hastily, Lemke scooped out a trench in the leaf litter. Removing the Firesvarn’s belt, he tied the soldier’s wrists together behind his back, rolled him into the trench and piled the litter back over him. Breaking off branches from the nearby bushes, he arranged them on top  of the limp form until it was mostly hidden under a blanket of thorns. He climbed to his feet and cut a shallow blaze in the nearest tree trunk, not enough to damage it but clear enough for all that knew to see. He set off into the forest again, marking a trail as he went.

——————

The first skirmish had been relatively short. Deprived of their scouts, the Firesvarn at the valley entrance were caught by surprise and then overpowered by superior Wakiran numbers. Although the fighting had been fierce, casualties were mercifully low, the Firesvarn commander unwilling to waste the lives of his troops once the true size of the Wakiran forces became apparent. After a brief foray into the forest to retrieve Lemke’s and, he had been relieved to see, a number of other scouts, the prisoners were now on their way to the nearest town. 

The second skirmish had not been short.

Lemke skidded behind a boulder, leaned out, fired, ducked back. Incoming rounds tore chips of stone off his meagre cover in reply. Rifle fire echoed from the surrounding hills in a savage counterpoint to the screams and shouted orders coming from his radio. He heard a rapid burst of fire somewhere to his right and the bullets whining over his head abruptly ceased. 

“To me!” Another Wakiran soldier waved at him frantically from behind a larger outcrop of rock. “Go, go, go!”

Lemke grabbed his own weapon and sprinted across the uneven ground, throwing himself to the ground amidst another deafening exchange. The blue band on his companion’s sleeve marked him as being from a different platoon. “Lemke - twenty-first,” he shouted over the gunfire. “You?”

“Nedrim. Fifteenth under Lenory!”

“Thought your lot were taking the next hill over!”

“Yep! Got split up by those seffleks,” Nedrim aimed a rude gesture downhill, “down there!”

“Right!”

Lemke caught a glimpse of movement to his left, turned and fired. His shots went high forcing the approaching soldier to the ground. Nedrim’s rifle roared and the soldier rolled over once and lay still. He scanned the hillside, searching for cover, fingers busy reloading his own rifle. Nedrim grabbed his arm and pointed. “That way I reckon.” 

Lemke nodded in reply, eyes darting from tussock to tussock, searching for more Firesvarn. “You go first - I’ll cover you.” He saw Nedrim sprint away in a crouching run, zig-zagging up the hill, head flicking back and forth. His rifle barrel twitched back and forth in sympathy as he tried to watch in all directions at once. Nedrim threw himself into a shallow dip, looked round, then gestured for Lemke to follow him.

A single shot rang out, startlingly close amidst the background chaos. Lemke slid feet-first into the hollow, just in time to see Nedrim topple forward. Time seemed to slow down as he stared at the other kerbal in sudden disbelief, barely registering the blood and tissues spattering his own uniform or fluids seeping into the grass from what remained of Nedrim’s skull. From the back it seemed strangely undamaged. 

The part of Lemke’s mind that wasn’t yammering in shock flung him sideways and round, desperately trying to bring his rifle to bear on the attacker behind him. Something flared in the corner of his eye and he felt a sudden dull pain in his chest. Hitting the ground awkwardly, he rolled onto his back, both hands patting the front of his jacket curiously. 

The sky seemed to turn pale and grey, clouds gathering around the tops of the Bouldertop hills. Lemke touched his damp sleeve with a finger. Must be raining. I should get to shelter. He tried to sit up but nothing seemed to work any more. His joints felt as if they were packed with sand; gritty, slow, unwilling to move. His eyes felt suddenly heavy, the leathery rasp as they rolled back against his eyelids almost soothing. Like a… like a…

Lemke’s rifle slipped out of his hands. One leg twitched briefly and then fell still.

——————

Bleakly, the Firesvar commander surveyed the aftermath of the second skirmish, the remains of his personal platoon gathered silently around him. Bodies littered the battlefield, Firesvarn and Wakiran alike. Each of them a mother’s son or daughter lying dead on a hillside far from home.

 

Edited by KSK

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4 hours ago, Commander Zoom said:

War.  War never changes.

War! UH! Good Kerm, y'all!

What is it good for?

Advancing the plot! :wink:

9 hours ago, KSK said:

Metal warped and twisted in the heat, rivets popped, joints flexed open pouring out yet more fue

Extra credit for NOT following the trope and having vehicles made of explodium. :D

 

but what about this bit?

9 hours ago, KSK said:

Not dead but smells dead. Smells bad. Need to find. Make trail.

Protecting the snoozing fellow from the local wildlife?

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37 minutes ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

Extra credit for NOT following the trope and having vehicles made of explodium. :D

You should notice a distinct absence of sparking bullets too. :)

38 minutes ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

but what about this bit?

10 hours ago, KSK said:

Not dead but smells dead. Smells bad. Need to find. Make trail.

Protecting the snoozing fellow from the local wildlife?

Precisely. No point having qualms about killing somebody if you then knock them out, tie them up and  leave them to be eaten by whatever critters are roaming the forest.

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Which shows how much of a rookie Lemke was; most large predators prefer carrion, unless it's gone really manky, because it can't run away or try to gore them. Unless those thornberries smell like something that's so decayed that not even scavengers can eat it.

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I'll have the new version of the file up soon, there are just a few delays. (stupid real life getting in the way of my forum posting...)

Edited by Plecy75

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New file download is up.

Ok, this was waaaaay faster than I expected, as setting up a direct file download on OneDrive was a lot simpler than expected. I am moving from Dropbox to direct download from OneDrive because my Dropbox subscription has expired. So, here is the download link. Disclaimer: it is very large for a word document

First Flight.docx

CAUTION!!! File size is 841KB

give me rep plz

Edited by Plecy75

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On 12/4/2016 at 6:15 PM, Commander Zoom said:

War.  War never changes.

No... No it doesn't.

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No - war never changes.

I have to admit - it's not where I saw the story going either but so it happens. In the end pulling a last minute reprieve out of an authorial hat seemed more than a bit cheap after having a looming crisis present for so long. 

So - war it is. Ultimately, this is what everyone has been scared of since the day the Kerm Crisis broke.

And on a cheerier note - big thanks to @Plecy75 for keeping on top of the downloadable copy! 

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Ok, so I've been hearing rumors of a sequel by @JakeGrey, and I would like to know where I can find it.

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I have been informed that linking to it directly is emphatically discouraged. However, you can find it quite easily on Archive Of Our Own; the KSP section is rather small. Oh, and it's a crossover, but I won't spoil the surprise by saying what with.

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On 27/12/2016 at 7:17 PM, JakeGrey said:

I have been informed that linking to it directly is emphatically discouraged.

Noted - thanks @JakeGrey.

On a slightly different note, have an update about the real KIS! And yes - comparisons to KSP have not gone unnoticed in the comments. :)

Edited by KSK

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4 hours ago, KSK said:

Noted - thanks @JakeGrey.

On a slightly different note, have an update about the real KIS! And yes - comparisons to KSP have not gone unnoticed in the comments. :)

Cool!! :cool:

I'ma go start sticking my head in bushes right now! :wink:

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