KSK

First Flight (Chapter 106 - The Sage of Barkton)

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Ahh the same problem I think every writer has; knowing what you want but not a bloody idea how to get there.

THe other ones are:

You know when I write it out it looks a whole lot less awesome

and

(while armflailing) I have to do WHAT? and the deadline's WHEN?!

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:D

Next chapter is (finally) rolling along. I knew where I wanted it to go, have known that for a while, but it took me some time to figure out how to get it started. It's shaping up to be quite a long one too - I'm about three pages in and not much has happened yet plot-wise.

Fantastic, really looking forward to it.

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:D

Next chapter is (finally) rolling along. I knew where I wanted it to go, have known that for a while, but it took me some time to figure out how to get it started. It's shaping up to be quite a long one too - I'm about three pages in and not much has happened yet plot-wise.

Take your time, write down everything relevant to the story you want to tell in some document. It's good to have a clear road-map to the end.

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*cough* ahem

How have you been last week?

Busy - as in eight pages written rather than three. :) Also quite happy because after a bit of research it turns out that some of the things I'm foreshadowing in this chapter are appropriate to and possible with the level of kerbal technology that I'm picturing for the story.

You beat me to it actually OrtwinS. Tonight should be free for writing and I was planning to post a short update on progress here as well.

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Beat you to it?

Well... impatience is not a virtue. Though I did attempt to mask it with some concern ;)

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Not sure if bumping your own thread is a virtue either so you saved me from that. :)

Anyway yes. Next update is going to be a wee bit longer yet but it should be a pretty chunky one when I finally do post it.

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If it's an announcement it's not a bump :wink:.

A post that says something like: "He guys, next chapter is delayed 'til next December 2014!" is valid.

Though, if you go the "I'm gonna give weekly progress reports until then"-way, you are stretching it :P.

I noticed finding this thread is... well not a pain, but it might trouble some.

a) The KSP forum search function seems to be a 'dumb' frequency filter. If the thread contains 100k-times the string 'interesting anomaly', it is assured to top the list when searching for 'monolith anomaly', even if there is no other correlation.

B) It disregards too common words, like: 'kerbal', 'writing', 'first' and 'flight' (see the trouble there?)

However: Google come to the rescue, input 'KSP writing first flight' in Google, and this thread is result #1 :).

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^agreed. Turns out I found this thread (and currently can only find this thread) by typing in 'Boat Parts'.:huh:

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Yeah - I've had problems with the forum search too. :(

Not really sure what to do about it - I've changed my signature to include a link to this thread which might help a bit but doesn't really make it much more discoverable. The link from TV Tropes is much appreciated though!

As an aside and out of curiosity I searched for 'ksp first flight' and 'kerbal space program first flight' on Google. This thread popped up as the third and fifth result respectively. Quite cheering, given that those are pretty generic keywords. Well generic for a relatively niche pursuit anyway. :)

Edited by KSK

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Yeah - I've had problems with the forum search too. :(

...

As an aside and out of curiosity I searched for 'ksp first flight' and 'kerbal space program first flight' on Google. This thread popped up as the third and fifth result respectively. Quite cheering, given that those are pretty generic keywords. Well generic for a relatively niche pursuit anyway. :)

"KSP writing first flight" ->#1

Cross-posting to some other forums and possibly some other fanfiction sites might help.

That only works with 'smart' search engines like Google, who take those into account for deciding what page is relevant.

KSP forum search is less useful than AltaVista.

Edited by OrtwinS

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Next chapter is up.

The Dish

Lodan watched as the the little airplane swooped down onto the runway. The rear undercarriage skimmed delicately over the tarmac, settling onto the ground with only the faintest puff of smoke. The nose wheel dipped in a smooth, precise motion, touching down squarely on the centre line with plenty of room to spare for a leisurely rollout. The noise of the jet engine had barely died away before a fuel cart raced into view and pulled up smartly behind one wing. Two kerbals leapt off and set to work chocking the aircraft wheels. The fueling point cover flipped open and the cart driver set to work, plugging in an earthing wire and unreeling the fuel hose.

The rear door of the aircraft swung open with a hiss and a complicated set of steps unfolded onto the runway. A darkly clad kerbal strode down the aircraft steps and took up a position to one side, before a second, dressed in a grey suit, appeared in the doorway and gingerly descended. Lodan gulped as he recognised the shock of black wavy hair and jutting chin. He straightened his tie and briskly strode towards the waiting party.

“President Obrick - this is an unexpected honor, sir."

Obrick looked at the kerbal bowing in front of him, taking in the unassuming suit and slightly balding head. Not much to this one, he thought, looks like a typical payroll watcher. He glanced down. Hmmm. Not afraid to get his shoes... boots dirty though and too busy for spit and polish . Then Lodan straightened up and Obrick saw a rather lined face and a pair of sharp grey eyes, gazing steadily back at him.

Much better. Not too overawed and not letting his mouth run away with him either.

The steps clattered as another kerbal hurried down them, clutching a briefcase in each hand. Obrick dipped his head politely.

“Pleased to meet you Director Lodan. This is Sambus, my aide."

Sambus shook his hand. “Great to be here, Director," he said, “but please - just call me Sam."

“Pleased to meet you Sam," said Lodan. His nose twitched at the sudden pungent smell of aviation fuel. “Our ground crew will have your aircraft turned around within the half hour Mr President. Shall we visit the main building?"

Obrick nodded and Lodan led the way across the tarmac towards a small electric cart. Two small pennants fluttered in the breeze: on one, the familiar flag of all Kerbin and on the other, a stylised design of Kerbol rising over the horizon with six smaller stars scattered across the sky. A shiver ran down Sam's back as he saw the letters KSA stenciled on the gleaming white door.

Lodan opened the door and gestured for Obrick and Sam to get in. He surreptitiously checked Obrick's seatbelt, handed the two briefcases to Sam and climbed into the front seat. The cart rocked on its suspension as Obrick's bodyguard swung himself up onto the bench beside him. Lodan stared straight ahead through the windscreen as he buckled himself in and took a grip on the steering wheel. The purr of the motor shifted up a tone, as he wheeled the cart around and drove off.

Sam stared out of his window, as the cart rolled steadily along. In the distance, a skeletal web of girders stood boldly against the skyline. A spindly crane stooped low over the framework with a spiderweb array of struts suspended precariously from one end. As the cart drove around a bend, Sam's view shifted with it, flattening the spider web into a a great latticework bowl. A team of kerbals swarmed over it like tiny green ants, some of them hauling new struts into place, others hanging in space over the edges of the bowl, working away on what appeared to be large square panels stuck here and there to the latticework.

Sam lurched sideways in his seat as the cart came to a sudden halt. Spinning orange lights cast luminous streaks across the window as a large tractor rumbled across the road in front of them, towing a flatbed trailer loaded with cable drums. Two kerbals wearing bright yellow hats were perched on top of the drums and waved cheerfully at him as they went past. Further away, a pair of excavators pecked at the ground, scooping out a ragged trench that stretched away in a perfectly straight line towards the structure on the skyline.

Sam's head swivelled as he followed the trench line back towards an elegant, cream coloured building. Two gracefully curved wings, swept out from an imposing main entrance, their roofs studded at regular intervals with domed skylights. Large arched windows were picked out in a slightly darker grey stone, giving the whole building a rather geometric look.

“Hmmm," said Obrick, “It's certainly eye-catching but it's a little too... angular for my taste."

“It is a bit minimal looking," said Sam, “although I think it goes rather well with whatever they're building out over there." He waved vaguely towards the rear window. “It'll probably look better once the rest of the site is grassed over."

The cart stopped and Lodan hopped down to open the passenger door. Obrick climbed out, looking impassively at the expanse of churned up mud between the road and the building entrance. A walkway of wooden planks was kept out of the mire by a stepping stone arrangement of concrete slabs, although even this token effort at a path was generously decorated with muddy bootprints. Several workers were gesturing emphatically at a large pit near the front entrance, although Obrick couldn't hear them over the noise of the excavators behind him.

Lodan dipped his head. “I'm afraid it's a little rough and ready, Mr President," he said, “We weren't really expecting visitors for several weeks yet, let alone one of the Twelve Pillars."

The cart springs creaked as Obrick's bodyguard climbed out and then Sam jumped down, wincing as the mud spattered over his shoes. “Please tell me the inside is finished," he muttered.

Lodan coughed. “Mostly," he said, “We're still furnishing the north wing and moving equipment into the south wing. Anyway - welcome to the Kerbin Space Agency. Please mind your step on the walkway Mr..."

“Harsen, sir."

“...the foundations aren't terribly stable with four of us on here at the same time."

Harsen stepped onto the walkway, moving lightly from plank to plank and not seeming to notice when several of them wallowed alarmingly underfoot. Obrick and Sam followed him cautiously, keeping carefully to the middle of path. Lodan crossed his fingers behind his back and set off after them. As they approached the group of kerbals near the entrance, one of them glanced around casually at the sound of footsteps. His eyes widened and he frantically elbowed one of his companions in the ribs. By the time Obrick stepped off the walkway, a ragged honour guard was ready to greet him.

“Mr. President!"

“Welcome to the Kerbin Space Agency, Mr President!"

Sam smiled to himself as Obrick strode over to the line of kerbals.

“Thank you..."Obrick peered at the name plate attached to one battered yellow hard hat. “Ms Fercan. It's all most impressive I have to say."

Fercan beamed. “It'll be a lot more impressive once we get the dish working, Mr President."

Obrick nodded and pointed towards the hole. “That's all for the dish then I presume. What have you got in there - power, servo feeds and main co-ax?"

One of the other kerbals in the line burst out laughing at the expression on Fercan's face.

“Uhh no co-ax, Mr. President. Primary signal processing is handled out at the dish itself but the data is piped back here for analysis."

“I'd like to see that," Obrick said, leaning over to peer into the hole. “What kind of pointing accuracy are you getting?"

“Too early to tell yet, sir, as we havn't tried moving it yet. We were getting around eight mdeg in testing but we're not expecting a that in practice, probably more like ten to eleven."

Obrick whistled. “That's still mighty impressive for something the size of that dish," he said. “I'd love to see those bearings but... ah, Director Lodan."He reached out to shake Fercan's hand. “I have to go I fear but good luck with the cabling and please - let me know how the pointing does work out in practice."

“I'd be honoured, Mr President!"

As he led his guests into the main building, Lodan glanced at Obrick from the corner of his eye. “I'm flattered Mr President," he said, “I didn't expect my report to be read quite so thoroughly - and I'm fairly sure I didn't include anything about the finer points of control or rf feeds."

Obrick shrugged. “I like to keep up. Besides, knowing about the latest space news is the only way to get an intelligent conversation out of half the office staff these days. Which reminds me - is there any news from the latest KIS flight?"

Sam's head snapped round but Lodan was looking apologetic. “Nothing since the last KBS broadcast I'm afraid," he said, “We had rather hoped to use the Muna 2 flight to test the antenna but the KIS were quicker off the mark than we expected. The last we heard, they'd made a successful mid-course correction and everything was looking good."

Obrick nodded. “Encouraging, but that doesn't mean too much," he said,“The Rockomax flight looked good too, right up to the point when they had their thruster problem."

“That's what I'm worried about," said Sam, “The main reason that the KIS were so quick to launch is that they pulled the Kerbin 2 probe out of their museum and used it as the core of the Muna 2."

“Kerbin 2?" said Lodan, “Wasn't that the one they brought back from orbit?"

“Yes," said Sam glumly, “so who knows what condition it was in." He shivered and looked around at the plain white walls around him. Apart from a row of doors there was very little to see. The overhead strip lights cast a stark but pallid light over everything, and their footsteps echoed on the polished concrete floor.

Lodan's office door was indistinguishable from all the rest, at least to Sam's eyes. Inside, the office was surprisingly modest. A large, plain desk divided the room in two, although at the moment it was less a desk than a holding area for mounds of papers, a large globe and an eclectic collection of cardboard boxes, desk toys and assorted pens. A drift of paper clips spilled over one corner and onto the floor and the opposite wall was entirely devoted to shelving, which was already cluttered with files of all sizes.

The other half of the room was more homely. A coffee table was placed in front of an electric fire, which glowed cheerfully under the little mantelpiece. Four chairs were set out around the table, although Sam wasn't particularly surprised to see that the chairs were also stacked high with files. A jug of water and a state of the art coffee pot sat on their own table in one corner.

Obrick stood by the window gazing out high over the grounds towards the antenna dish, as Lodan fussed around, clearing papers out of the way, making coffee and rummaging around in various boxes. The director of the Kerbin Space Agency does get one perk , he thought, This has to be the best view in the building.

There was a sudden rattle of crockery and a satisfied grunt from Lodan as he unearthed three mugs from the depths of his desk. “I do apologise, Mr President," he said ruefully, “I haven't had much of a chance to get everything squared away yet. May I pour you a coffee?"

Obrick, Lodan and Sam took their places in front of the fire. Harsen accepted a mug of coffee but insisted on standing guard by the door. Lodan blew on his drink and took a cautious sip before perching himself on the edge of his chair.

“So if I may ask, Mr President," he said, “what brings you out to the KSA? Our reports were..."

“Commendably thorough," said Obrick. “and I understand that your last budget report found it's way onto a memo of best practice from the Finance Committee. Rumour has it that the chairman of the Committee has even been known to smile when a KSA report arrives, although personally I have my doubts. Relax Director, I'm not here on a cross-checking visit."

Lodan's shoulders relaxed and he sat back in his chair as Obrick continued.

“However, as you'll appreciate, the recent KSA budget requests have been... substantial, and so I thought a quiet visit and discussion of future plans was in order."

Lodan took another sip of coffee. “We appreciate that, Mr President and rest assured that we don't anticipate any further capital expenditure on that scale for quite some time. There will be ongoing expenses of course, staff costs, keeping the library up to date and so forth but nothing outside of our allocated budget."

Sam leaned forward. “A library?"

“Yes," said Lodan, “As I'm sure you'll be aware, our initial mandate was to 'find the questions that need to be asked' and then, if required, find ways to answer them. Some of the questions were fairly obvious as you might expect. For example, there is a great deal of basic aeronautical research we might usefully undertake. However, it quickly became obvious that the most important question of all to address was which questions have already been answered?"

Lodan raised an eyebrow. “We trust the Finance Committee will agree that we should have no particular interest in duplicating well established results. However, spaceflight on any meaningful scale is going to involve a whole host of rather disparate engineering and scientific disciplines. So much so, that we decided that the most efficient way to access the information we need is to build our own library."

Obrick glanced at Sam. “That seems logical, Director, although it doesn't explain the extra construction work going on outside."

Lodan coughed. “Forgive me, Mr President," he said, “but could I be so bold as to suggest that we dispense with some of the formalities?"

Obrick dipped his head. “By all means Lodan," he said.

“Thank you, Mr President. The dish was my idea. In fact all three of them were."

Sam frowned. “Three dishes?" he said, “I only saw one."

Lodan walked over to his desk and returned with his globe under one arm. He put it down on the table and spun it round. “We are here," he said to Sam, prodding a finger at the Koluclaw mountains. “KSA headquarters, research facilities and tracking site Alpha. In the foothills so we get some elevation without having to haul all the building supplies halfway up a mountain. Also we're roughly equidistant from from Barkton and Foxham, which are of course the launch sites for the KIS and Rockomax respectively."He spun the globe again. “However we are also building tracking sites Beta and Gamma here... and here. Not particularly original names I must admit but they'll do for now."

“Kerbin wide coverage," said Obrick.

“Exactly," said Lodan. “We see Alpha, Beta and Gamma as the anchors of a global tracking network. By themselves they should be suitable for interplanetary or perhaps Minmus bound spacecraft. Full coverage for Munar or Kerbin orbital operations will require more tracking stations of course."

Sam studied the globe. “Well KIS and Rockomax have at least one site each," he said, “Plus I'm fairly sure that KIS have a secondary site in Wakira and Rockomax probably have a second site too. That's not a bad start."

“Provided that they both decide to cooperate," said Obrick.

Lodan shrugged. “I'd be surprised if they turn down a free expansion to their systems,"he said. “The difficult bit is going to be getting three sets of equipment working well together but we're working on a set of common data and communication protocols to get around that."

Obrick nodded slowly. Looks like you could do with a few more psychology books in that library, Director Lodan. Still - it's a good idea in principle.

“So the KSA end up paying for a piece of global infrastructure for anyone to use," he said. “That would seem to overstep your mandate Director."

The corner of Lodan's eye twitched. “I'm well aware of our mandate, Mr President," he replied, “and with all respect, I believe we met it. We identified a serious problem that would hinder the future development of spaceflight and we devised a solution to that problem."

“And then you took it upon yourself to implement that solution?"

Lodan didn't flinch. “Yes I did, Mr President. Right now we have two main players in the spaceflight business - and they have been set up as competitors. In the long run I trust to the wisdom of the Twelve Pillars. But in the short term I believe that policy will be a disaster."

There was a sudden sharp hiss as Sam sucked air through his teeth. Obrick kept his face carefully impassive. It seems I was right about you Lodan. “Go on," he said quietly.

“Rockomax and the KIS," said Lodan, “are both building their launch infrastructure from scratch and to a large extent they are duplicating each other's work. Sometimes, this is unavoidable - they are for example unlikely to share manufacturing or testing facilities." He gestured at the globe. “However, in other cases it is extremely wasteful. Brute necessity will eventually drive both companies to develop a Kerbin wide communication network. Cooperation in that venture seems unlikely so we will most probably end up with two separate networks. Similarly, any new company wishing to compete will also need to waste time and money building their own communication network."

Lodan took a swallow of coffee. “By acting now, Mr President," he said, “we can prevent this stupidity before it even gets started. Both companies have approximately equivalent communication networks, so we avoid favouring one company over the other. It is true that any new companies will gain an advantage by immediately having access to a global network and perhaps that is slightly unfair. However, I believe that that is an acceptable price to pay for a piece of global infrastructure that will speed the progress of established companies and newcomers alike."

“It should be a significant boost to crew safety too," said Sam, “I can think of at least one of the Twelve Pillars who would be very much in favour of that."

“I can see the advantages thank you," said Obrick, “Very well - construction of Alpha, Beta and Gamma stations is approved. Full expansion of the KSA mandate will require authorisation from the Twelve Pillars but as Sam has pointed out, there is already some support for that."

Lodan kept his face carefully neutral, “Thank you, Mr President."

“However," said Obrick, “for the moment, I strongly advise against any further unplanned expansions of that mandate. I trust we understand each other, Director Lodan?"

Lodan bowed his head. “Yes, Mr President."

Sam's mug rattled as he put it down on the table. “Time's moving on sir," he said, “Lodan - I believe that your itinerary included a tour of the building?"

Lodan pushed his chair back. “Absolutely, Sam. And you're very welcome to join the team for lunch afterwards if you have time."

The four kerbals emerged from the corridor into the main foyer. Watery sunlight poured in through the skylights overhead, giving the whole room a faintly abandoned air. Outside, Sam could see Fercan and the others still hard at work. He couldn't imagine how they'd managed to haul the drum over the walkway but as he watched, one of the engineers unwound a length of bright blue cable and tossed it down into the pit. A yellow hat popped into view as it's owner reached out to grab something from a large toolbox resting in the mud. As Sam walked past the window, the hat disappeared out of sight again.

Lodan led his guests into the north wing. Compared to the starkly undecorated office block, the corridor was almost cosy and Sam's nose twitched at the scents of fresh paint and newly laid carpet. Even though both carpet and walls were the same institutional shades of green as a hundred other government offices across Kerbin, they were a welcome break from bleached white walls and concrete. Thick blinds over the skylights blocked out the cold winter sun and even the strip lights overhead didn't seem quite as bleak.

Lodan pushed through a pair of double doors and held one of them open for everyone else. “Welcome to the library," he said.

Obrick looked around. To his left the library was partitioned up into cubicles, each with its own desk and chair in front of a window. Obrick squinted at the row of data terminals standing against the far wall, their screens staring blankly back at him. Not too much of a curve to the walls though, he thought, so there must be something else behind this library. Probably whatever computer they've got those terminals plugged into.

To his right were row after row of tall shelves, with carts of books parked haphazardly amongst them. At least three kerbals were busily unloading them as another one prowled up and down making notes on an overstuffed clipboard. Lodan gestured towards the shelving. “Plenty of space for expansion," he said, “Archives and microfilm room are through at the far end and behind that we're setting up the mainframe."

Sam shuffled his feet. “Am I seeing things, Lodan, “Or is that shelf really marked off for Xenobiology?"

Lodan laughed, “You're not seeing things Sam. I suspect the xenobiology shelf was added as a little joke but we have tried to leave room for new fields of study. We've got shelves marked out for Munar geology, extraplanetary cartography, all sorts of things. Kerbolar magnetodynamics of course after Professor Kelvey's discovery of the radiation belts around Kerbin. Actually, we have our own plans for studying the Kelvey Belts but more on that later."

Sam blinked, “I suppose that makes sense," he said, “but xenobiology?"

“Why not?" said Lodan. “We known for years that there's water on Duna. Mainly as ice around the poles but what of that? There's plenty of life at Kerbin's poles and they're not exactly hospitable either. Then there are the latest results from the LOST team..."

“Lost?" said Sam.

“Laythe Observation and SpecTroscopy," said Lodan, “The data is a bit tentative to my mind but they're claiming evidence for water vapour and carbon dioxide in Laythe's atmosphere. I doubt it's the warmest place to visit but it might be just warm enough for life!"

Obrick shook his head. “Life beyond Kerbin," he said, “I don't think you're going to find anything to put on that shelf for a while."

Lodan smiled, “Not until we get close enough to have a really good look, Mr President," he said, “and even then, if we find anything, it'll probably be simple plants, bacteria, maybe insects if we're very lucky. Certainly not the pink skinned aliens of popular fiction."

“Even so," said Obrick soberly, “one single paper on that shelf would change the world." He looked at the lined face of the KSA Director.“I admire your optimism, Lodan but I'd take that label off the shelf for now."

Lodan nodded. “Oh indeed, Mr President. Apart from anything else, I hardly think that letting the world know that we're searching for extraplanetary life is the best way to establish a reputation for the Kerbin Space Agency."

“But you'll be doing it anyway?" said Obrick.

“Of course. Quietly and indirectly to begin with - and please rest assured that it is firmly at the bottom of our priority list. But as you pointed out yourself, a single paper on that shelf would change the world."

Lodan pushed the library door open. “In any case gentlemen, it's time you saw some of our less... speculative research. Please follow me."

After the almost completed north wing, the south wing was a shock. Wheel tracks and footprints snaked through the layers of dust on the floor, stacks of panels leaned against the raw concrete walls and the ceiling appeared to be very much a work in progress. Here and there, stepladders led up into the maze of ducts and cable runs and Sam could hear snatches of conversation from above, interspersed with the high pitched squeals of assorted power tools and the strains of a particularly enthusiastic Spearkan country band.

Sam looked pained. “Dear Kerm but that's awful," he said.

“Oy - I heard that Kelney!" A grimy head poked out from the ceiling. “This is quality music this is, which is more than I can say for the crap you..." The engineer spotted Obrick staring at him curiously and went pale.

“Oh no," he said in a very small voice and shot back into the crawlway, knocking his head against a duct with a loud clang and a burst of colourful but hastily sanitised oaths.

Lodan sighed and pointed towards a row of hard hats and laboratory coats hanging on pegs by the door. “Everyone take a hat please," he said. “The lab coats are optional but recommended. Welcome to our research and development wing."

All three kerbals put on their hats and lab coats without comment. Lodan left his jacket on a peg, pulled on a hat and led the way down the corridor.

“Just like the library and archive rooms, the lab block was designed for expansion. We originally intended to run a single lab to begin with but recent developments prompted us to start a second research program." Lodan gestured towards a closed door. Sam saw a large photograph of the Mün stuck to it, together with a crude sign reading 'MIR'.

“Mir?" he asked.

“Our first program,"said Lodan, “Munar Imaging and Reconnaissance."

“That makes sense," said Sam, "I bet they can't wait to see the results from the Probodyne Prize!"

“The first images of the Far side will certainly be interesting," said Lodan, “and if we're lucky, some of them may even be good enough to work with. To be honest though, we're more interested in the spacecraft than the science at this point."He opened the door and poked his head inside.

“Ahh yes. Power is off for the moment whilst the engineers are working on the new gas lines. Come on in, good kerbals."

The laboratory was gloomy inside but Sam could still make out a set of workbenches with a bewildering array of tools and half assembled pieces of electronic equipment scattered over them. A pair of cameras stood on tripods in the middle of the room and what appeared to be the innards of a third camera were mounted on a a set of stands fixed to a very heavy looking stone table. A number of cabinets and larger pieces of equipment stood around the edges of the room, although Sam couldn't begin to guess what they were for.

“This is our optics lab," said Lodan. “Design, prototyping and calibration in here, flight qualification and testing a couple of rooms back. We've just started phase three of the project, so we don't actually have a working model to show you I'm afraid."

“Phase three?" said Sam.

Lodan nodded. “Phase one was a review of the available literature on Munar astronomy, phase two was mission definition and hardware specification. Phase three is prototyping and development."

Sam wandered between the workbenches staring in fascination at the camera parts. “Some of these look so delicate," he said, “I can't quite believe you plan to put them on top of a rocket and fire them off to the Mün."

“They're sturdier than they look," said Lodan, “but yes, we've had to rethink some of our ideas already. The current model is looking promising however."

“You mentioned a second research program," said Obrick.

“I did," said Lodan, “We're not even out of phase one for that yet and we've only barely cleared out the lab space. You're welcome to see it of course but there's really not a lot to look at apart from a large collection of packing crates. We have big plans for the Space Radiation Laboratory though."

“Space Radiation," said Obrick, “I presume this has something to do with the Kelvey Belts?"

“Mapping the Belts is our highest priority at the moment, Mr President. Distribution, radiation intensity, particle density, energy spectra - we urgently need this data before planning any other missions. The radiation was strong enough to affect the cameras aboard Satellite Four, so goodness only knows what it might do to a crewed ship."

“Agreed," said Obrick, “Have you chosen a launcher yet?"

“Not yet," said Lodan, “but my preference would be Rockomax."

Sam frowned. “Why not offer it as a competition again?" he said.

“Mainly because Rockomax already have the experience with satellite operations," said Lodan. He raised an eyebrow at Sam's expression. “Don't worry - there'll be plenty of launches once MIR starts flying and even more once the Space Radiation Laboratory is finished with the Belts."

Sam bit back his first response. “Why - what happens then?" he said

“We go back to the Mün with radiation detectors," said Lodan calmly, “Gamma ray spectrometers to be precise."

“I don't follow you," said Sam. “Are we expecting Kelvey Belts around the Mün too?"

“No," said Lodan, “but Kelvey Belts aren't the only source of radiation in space. We've studied cosmic rays for decades - high energy particles in Kerbin's upper atmosphere. Those same particles will also be hitting the Mün and...look the physics gets complicated but we think we can make a chemical map of the Munar surface."

Obrick looked at him intently. “What sort of chemicals?" he asked

“Industrially useful metals," said Lodan. “Lighter elements too and possibly even water, although we think we might need another sort of detector for that."

“Water and metals," said Obrick to himself. “Excellent work, Lodan - excellent. I presume you were planning to mention this in your next report?"

Lodan caught the look on Obrick's face and smiled inwardly. Gotcha.

“Naturally, Mr President. Fully planned out and costed as always."

Obrick rubbed his hands together briskly. “Well I've seen everything I need to see here, Director Lodan. How are we doing for time Sam?"

“Just over an hour before we need to leave, sir,"

“In that case, good kerbals, I suggest we finish with a tour of the canteen. Please lead the way, Director."

As they approached the main foyer, Lodan was astonished to find it full to bursting with kerbals. He was about to clap his hands for attention when he heard a familiar voice echoing tinnily from a speaker.

“I repeat, loss of signal from the Muna 2 occurred precisely on schedule. All we can do now is watch, wait and hope that the engine fires as planned. If all goes well, Mission Control should reestablish contact with the spacecraft in exactly one hour and forty seven minutes. This is KBS News reporting from the Barkton Space Centre."

---------------

Jonton smiled as he accepted a mug of cocoa from a tired looking kermol. A pair of small green hands appeared over the lip of her pouch followed, after much squirming, by a pair of very wide eyes, looking solemnly back at him. The tiny kerblet chirped happily as Jonton gently ruffled its silky black hair.

“Congratulations," he said, “how old is..."

“He's just under three months old Keeper. Have you got a smile for the Keeper, Jebediah?"

Jonton reached out with one finger and stroked one of Jebediah's hands. “You're too busy taking everything in to bother with smiling aren't you, little guy," he said.

Jebediah squeaked and disappeared again. The pouch rippled and bulged and Jonton winced in sympathy as he saw a foot and then what looked like an elbow pushing out against its confining wall. He got to his feet.

“Here - take my seat," he said, “I'll lend a hand with the cocoa."

The kermol looked at him gratefully. “Thank you Keeper," she said, sinking onto Jonton's cushion and cupping her hands under her pouch.

Jonton smiled. “My pleasure," he said.

The village hall was full to bursting. A group of older kerblets were huddled together in one corner, safely out of earshot of their parents and ignoring two of their younger siblings who were busy squabbling over a KIS hat. Another pair of youngsters hurtled past, indulgently watched by the adults as they careered around the room.

Jonton blew on his cocoa and turned his attention to the television cabinet at the far end of the room. The black and white picture showed a studio, with two presenters sitting behind a table and talking. Jonton was too far away to hear what they were saying but from the sudden shushing from the cluster of kerbals sitting around the television, he assumed that it was something important. There was a call from the back of the room to turn the volume up as one of the presenters turned to face the camera.

“We are now going live to the Barkton Space Centre where we rejoin Leland Kerman outside Mission Control."

“Thank you Milfrid. If you are just joining us now, this is KBS news reporting from the Kerbin Interplanetary Society launch bunker and we are now in the final moments of the Muna 2 mission. A little over one hour and thirty minutes ago, the launch controllers lost contact with the Muna 2 as it swept around behind the Mün. By now, if all has gone to plan, the probe will have fired its rocket engine and slowed down just enough to be pulled into Munar orbit."

Leland's voice dropped to a whisper.

“We're now going down into the control bunker itself to join the flight control team as they wait for a signal from the Muna 2. As our regular viewers will know, data from the probe is being relayed through the new KBS communication satellite which was designed and launched by the Rockomax Corporation."

The image on the television screen blurred and tilted as Leland and his cameraman climbed down into the bunker. As it steadied, the watching kermol could see a group of flight controllers hunched over their consoles and a countdown clock ticking away on a big screen behind them. As the camera panned around, they saw a row of kerbals standing quietly against the wall. One of them looked up, nodded and then walked towards the camera.

“I'm now talking to Bill Kerman, one of the flight dynamics officers at the KIS and of course, one of the Original 3 kerbonauts who flew on the Kerbal 1. Bill - what's the latest news from the Muna 2?"

“At the moment we're just watching and waiting with everyone else, Leland. We do know that the Muna 2 fired its engine but obviously we don't yet know whether the burn was successful."

“I know I've got my fingers crossed, Bill and I'm sure that everyone watching at home has as well. I do have a question though - how do you know that the engine has fired if you're out of contact with the spacecraft?"

“That's a little complicated Leland. We launched the Muna 2 towards the Mün on what we call a free return trajectory. If you picture a big figure-of-eight with Kerbin in one loop and the Mün in the other, you'll have the right idea. Now the big advantage of a free return is that once the spacecraft is on the right course it will fly around the Mün and back to Kerbin without us having to do anything else at all.

“Wasn't that the same trajectory that Rockomax used for their Satellite 4, Bill?"

“Absolutely, Leland and we used it for the same reason. If anything had gone wrong with the Muna 2 before it reached the Mün, we might still have had one chance to get some pictures and send them back to Kerbin. As it happened, everything looked fine so just before loss of signal we commanded the spacecraft to start the timer for Munar orbit insertion.

“That makes sense so far, Bill."

“Okay. Now if the spacecraft was still on a free return trajectory, then we should have picked up a signal about thirteen minutes ago. So we know that the engine fired but as I said - we have no way of telling whether it fired for the right amount of time."

“The burn time is quite important isn't it?"

“It certainly is, Leland. If the engine doesn't fire for long enough then the spacecraft will just fly round the Mün and off into space. If it fires just a little too long, then the spacecraft will crash into the Mün instead.

“Well, I guess I'll just keep those fingers crossed a bit longer then, Bill. Thank you for talking to KBS News."

“My pleasure, Leland."

Leland turned back to the camera. “For those of you who are just joining us, that was kerbonaut Bill Kerman, talking to us about the art and science of cosmic navigation. I am Leland Kerman at KIS Mission Control at a little under three minutes to go before we regain contact with the Muna 2 spacecraft on it's voyage around the Mün."

The village hall fell silent as the clock ticked downwards. The squabbling kerblets seemed to sense that something was happening and scampered back to sit down beside their parents. Even the KBS news team was quiet, content to simply record the moment and listen to the flight control team. Jonton paused in mid sip as the last digit flipped over from one to zero

"I'm picking up a signal, Flight. Downlink established... and we have telemetry!"

“How's she looking Joemy?"

“Looking good, Flight. Power systems are nominal and... one moment."

The camera zoomed in on one kerbal, working away at his console.

“Camera deployment confirmed, Flight. We're picking up..."

The rest of Joemy's report was drowned out as the clock disappeared from the main screen and was replaced by a complicated looking set of figures. They didn't mean a thing to Jonton but from the sheer volume of celebration in Mission Control, he assumed they meant good news. There was a squawk of electronic feedback as the flight director came back on the air.

“Settle down, guys! Let's see some pictures before we call this done. Joemy - say again please."

“Camera deployed and tracking, Gene. We're picking up data over the high gain antenna but it's still going to take a couple of minutes before we get a complete frame."

“Understood, Joemy. What have you got for me Lucan?"

“You'd almost think we'd planned this, Gene. Reacquisition time was right on the numbers, initial tracking data looks good, spacecraft is in orbital rate."

“Here we go - first picture coming through!"

Jonton leaned forward to get a better look. The KBS camera leaned in with him as it zoomed in towards the main screen. The numbers disappeared as it faded to black and then an image appeared! Jonton tilted his head to one side, trying to make sense of the strobing mess of white lines. This can't be right

There was a whisperered conversation in the background and then Leland took the microphone again.

“Sorry about that everyone. We're having a little problem trying to take a television picture of umm another television picture. Please bear with us as we try to pick up the satellite transmission directly." He tapped the side of his earphones. “Thank you. Yes, we're ready to switch feed."

The television screen flickered. There was a burst of static and then the picture came back in to focus. Jonton gaped at the blurred, grainy image. It was unmistakably a picture of the Mün but with none of the familiar patches of dark and light that he was used to seeing from Kerbin. The far side of the Mün he thought, I'm seeing the actual far side of the Mün! A smile spread across his face as the picture changed, showing another brand new side to the most familiar object in Kerbin's skies.

---------------

A tap on the shoulder woke Jonton from his reverie.

“We're closing the hall I'm afraid, Keeper. Can I get you a night light for your walk home."

Jonton blinked at the elderly kerbal in front of him. “Uh, no thank you," he said, “that won't be necessary."

The kerbal nodded. “As you wish, Keeper. Going to be a long night for you I expect."

Jonton's knees popped as he climbed to his feet. “I expect so," he said, “The Kerm will want to know all about this." He smiled. “And I may just spend a while looking at this side of the Mün too."

“I can't quite believe it to tell you the truth, Keeper. The idea that tonight the Mün has a little mun all of it's own."

“Neither can I," said Jonton softly, “and it was put there by kerbals."

 

<< Chapter 22:     Chapter 24>>

Edited by KSK

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Very good, nice take on the organization and handling being set up. Love the way this story is flowing. Keep up the great work!

The rear undercarriage skimmed delicately over the tarmac

Does this mean there was a Mac Adam Kerman?

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Whew, I hadn't read this for a few months and I just got finished catching up today. I just gotta say, I really love this story. Keep it up! :D

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And there the two worlds met on common ground. Kerman and Kermon, united in awe of exploration. Both drinking heavily from the nectar called 'new stuff to see'.

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"pink skinned aliens of science fiction."

Boy will they be surprised!

Seriously, though, this needs to be published as a novel/saga! Imagining this as a movie is just as easy, too.

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*pushes thin-rimmed glasses onto long, bent nose and perches on the edge of a stool, notebook on fingertips* *licks thumb and with it flips the notebook's yellow pages, sighing in his black turtleneck, beret, and jeans* Monsieur, zee copy edeet.

---

Lodan watched the the little airplane swoop onto the runway: the rear undercarriage delicately skimmed the tarmac, settling with a faint puff while the nose wheel smoothly and precisely dipped onto the centerline. After a leisurely roll-out, the pilot cut the engines--hardly had they fallen to whine when a fuel cart smartly raced behind one wing. Two kerbals leapt off and chocked the aircraft wheels. The fueling point cover flipped open, and the cart driver plugged an earthing wire and unreeled the fuel hose.

The rear door of the aircraft hissed open, and onto the runway unfolded a complicated staircase. A darkly clad kerbal strode down and stood beside them ere a second, dressed in a grey suit, appeared in the doorway and gingerly descended. Lodan gulped when he recognised his shock of black wavy hair and jutting chin: Lodan straightened his tie and briskly strode, already greeting,

“President Obrick - this is an unexpected honor sir.â€Â

Obrick examined the bowing kerbal, analyzing his unassuming suit and slightly balding head. Not much to this one, he thought, looks like a typical payroll watcher. He glanced down. Hmmm. Not afraid to get his shoes... boots dirty though and too busy for spit and polish . Lodan straightened up, sharp grey eyes from a lined face steadily returning Obrick’s gaze.

Much better. Not too overawed and not letting his mouth run away with him either.

The steps clattered when another kerbal hurried down them, clutching a briefcase in each hand. Obrick dipped his head politely.

“Pleased to meet you, Director Lodan. He is Sambus, my aide.â€Â

Sambus shook his hand, “Great to be here, Director. Please - just call me Sam.â€Â

“Pleased to meet you, Sam,†said Lodan. His nose twitched at the sudden pungent smell of aviation fuel, “Our ground crew will have your aircraft turned around within the half hour, Mr President. Shall we visit the main building?â€Â

Obrick nodded. Lodan led them across the tarmac towards a small electric cart whereupon fluttered two small pennants:the familiar Kerbin flag and a stylised design of Kerbol rising over the horizon with six smaller stars scattered across the sky. A shiver ran down Sam's back when he saw that the white, gleaming door bore three stenciled letters: KSA.

Lodan opened the door and gestured for Obrick and Sam to enter. He surreptitiously checked Obrick's seatbelt, handed Sam the two briefcases, and climbed into the front seat. The cart rocked on its suspension when Obrick's bodyguard swung himself onto the bench. Lodan through the windscreen stared straight ahead while buckling in and gripping the steering wheel. The purr of the motor shifted up a tone, and he wheeled the cart around.

Sam stared through his window while the cart steadily rolled. Against the distant skyline boldly stood a skeleton of girders whereover lowly stooped a crane, a spiderweb of struts precariously suspended from one end. The cart drove around a bend, shifting Sam's view: the spider web flattened into a great latticework bowl. A team of kerbals over it swarmed like tiny green ants, some hauling struts, others hanging over the edges of the bowl and working a patchwork of large square panels.

The cart suddenly halted! Sam lurched sideways in his seat: spinning orange lights luminously streaking the window while a large tractor rumbled before them, towing a flatbed trailer of cable drums whereupon in bright yellow hats sat two kerbals who at him waved while they passed. Sam blinked and groaned.

Through his shifting eyelids he glimpsed a pair of excavators that so pecked at the ground as to carve a ragged trench that stretched to an elegant, cream coloured building: two gracefully curved wings, swept from an imposing main entrance, their roofs studded at regular intervals with domed skylights, large arched windows of slightly darker stone.

“Hmmm,†said Obrick, “It's certainly eye-catching, but it's a little too... angular for my taste.â€Â

“It is a bit minimal looking,†said Sam, “although I think it goes rather well with whatever they're building out over there.†He waved vaguely towards the rear window. “It'll probably look better with grass.â€Â

The cart stopped, and Lodan hopped down to open the passenger door. Obrick climbed out, impassively beholding the expanse of churned mud that between the road and building entrance lay. Like stepping stones before him stretched concrete slabs that bore a walkway of wooden planks--generously decorated with muddy bootprints. Several workers were emphatically gesturing to a pit near the front entrance, although Obrick couldn't hear them over the the excavators that behind him roared and whined.

Lodan dipped his head. “I'm afraid it's a little rough and ready Mr President,†he said, “We weren't really expecting visitors for several weeks yet, let alone one of the Twelve Pillarsâ€Â

The cart springs creaked when Obrick's bodyguard climbed out. Next Sam jumped down, wincing when the mud spattered over his shoes. “Please tell me the inside is finished,†he muttered.

Lodan coughed. “Mostly,†he said, “We're still furnishing the north wing and equipping the south one. Anyway - welcome to the Kerbin Space Agency. Please mind your step on the walkway Mr...â€Â

“Harsen sir.â€Â

Lodan winced, “Mind the foundations...â€Â

Harsen stepped onto the walkway, flitting from plank to plank and seemingly unaware when several of them alarmingly wallowed underfoot. Obrick and Sam cautiously followed him, carefully taking the path’s middle. Lodan crossed his fingers behind his back and set off after them. When they approached the group of kerbals near the entrance, one casually glanced around at the sound of footsteps. His eyes widened, and he frantically elbowed one of his companions in the ribs. By the time Obrick stepped off the walkway, a ragged honour guard was ready to greet him.

“Mr. President!â€Â

“Welcome to the Kerbin Space Agency Mr President!â€Â

Sam smiled to himself when Obrick strode over to the line of kerbals.

“Thank you...†Obrick peered at the name plate attached to one battered yellow hard hat. “Ms Fercan. It's all most impressive I have to say.â€Â

Fercan beamed. “It'll be a lot more impressive once we get the dish working Mr President.â€Â

Obrick nodded and pointed towards the hole. “That's all for the dish, then, I presume. What have you got there - power, servo feeds, and main co-ax?â€Â

Another kerbal burst out laughing at the expression on Fercan's face.

“Uhh no co-ax Mr. President: the dish handles primary signal processing, and the data is piped back here for analysis.â€Â

“I'd like to see that,†said Obrick, leaning over the hole. “How accurate is your pointing?â€Â

“Too early to tell yet sir - we havn't tried moving it yet. We were getting around eight mdeg in testing, and we're not expecting that in practice - probably more like ten to eleven.â€Â

Obrick whistled. “Still impressive for such a huge dish as that one,†he said. “I'd love to see those bearings but... ah Director Lodan.†He reached out to shake Fercan's hand. “I have to go I fear but good luck with the cabling and please - let me know how the pointing does work out in practice.â€Â

“I'd be honoured Mr President!â€Â

Leading his guests into the main building, Lodan glanced at Obrick from the corner of his eye. “I'm flattered Mr President,†he said, “I expected my report to be less thoroughly read, and I'm fairly sure that I included nothing about the finer points of control or rf feeds.â€Â

Obrick shrugged. “I like to keep up. Besides, knowing about the latest space news is the only way to get an intelligent conversation out of half the office staff these days. Which reminds me - any news from the latest KIS flight?â€Â

Sam's head snapped round, and Lodan was looking apologetic. “Nothing since the last KBS broadcast I'm afraid,†he said, “We had rather hoped to use the Muna 2 flight to test the antenna, and the KIS were quicker off the mark than we expected. The last we heard, they'd mid-course corrected.â€Â

Obrick nodded. “Encouraging, but that doesn't mean too much,†he said, “The Rockomax flight looked good too-until they had their thruster problem.â€Â

“That's what I'm worried about,†said Sam, “KIS were so quick to launch mostly because they pulled the Kerbin 2 probe from their museum and used it as the core of Muna 2.

“Kerbin 2?†said Lodan, “Wasn't that the one they brought back from orbit?â€Â

“Yes,†said Sam glumly, “who knows what condition it was in.†He shivered and looked around at the plain white walls. Apart from a row of doors there was very little to see. The overhead strip lights cast a stark and pallid brilliance. Their footsteps echoed on the polished concrete floor.

Lodan's office door was indistinguishable from all the rest, at least to Sam's eyes. Inside, the office was surprisingly modest: a large, plain, piled desk divided split the room, and one on side a large globe and an eclectic collection of cardboard boxes, desk toys and assorted pens served as decor. A drift of paper clips spilled over one corner and onto the floor, and the opposite wall was entirely devoted to shelving that all sizes of files already cluttered.

The other side of the room was more homely. A coffee table stood before an electric fire that cheerly glowed beneath a little mantelpiece. Four chairs surrounded a table - also stacked high with files. A jug of water and a state-of-the-art coffee pot in one corner sat on their own table.

Obrick by the window stood, gazing over the grounds and towards the antenna dish while Lodan fussed, clearing papers, making coffee, and rummaging through various boxes. The director of the Kerbin Space Agency gets one perk, he thought, this view must be the best in the building.

Crockery rattled and Lodan satisfiedly grunted when he unearthed three mugs from the cavernous drawers of his desk. “I apologise Mr President,†he said ruefully, “I haven't had much of a chance to square everything away. May I pour you some coffee?â€Â

Obrick, Lodan, and Sam sat before the fire. Harsen accepted a mug of coffee and insisted on guarding the door. Lodan blew on his drink and cautiously sipped, perching himself on the edge of his chair.

“So if I may ask Mr President,†he said, “what brings you out to the KSA? Our reports were...â€Â

“Commendably thorough,†said Obrick. “and I understand that your last budget report found it's way onto a memo of best practice from the Finance Committee. The chairman of the Committee is rumored to smile when a KSA report arrives - I have my doubts. Relax Director, I'm not here to cross-examine.â€Â

Lodan's shoulders relaxed and he sat back in his chair as Obrick continued.

“However, as you'll appreciate, so the recent KSA budget requests have been... substantial, and I therefore wanted to quietly discuss future plans.â€Â

Lodan sipped, “We appreciate that, Mr President, and rest assured that we anticipate no more upcoming large capital expenditures. We will have ongoing expenses: staff costs, updating the library--â€Â

Sam leaned forward. “--a library?â€Â

“Yes,†said Lodan, “The KSA seeks and answers questions, some as obvious as you might expect--basic aeronautical research--whereas others less so:†he bit his lip, “Which questions are answered?"

Lodan raised an eyebrow. “We trust the Finance Committee will agree that we should have no particular interest in duplicating well established results. However, spaceflight on any meaningful scale is going to involve a whole host of rather disparate engineering and scientific disciplines. So much so, that we decided that the most efficient way to access the information we need is to build our own library.â€Â

Obrick glanced at Sam. “That seems logical Director, although it doesn't explain the extra construction work going on outside.â€Â

Lodan coughed. “Forgive me Mr President,†he said “but could I be so bold as to suggest that we dispense with some of the formalities?â€Â

Obrick dipped his head. “By all means Lodan,†he said.

“Thank you Mr President. The dish was my idea. In fact all three of them were.â€Â

Sam frowned. “Three dishes?†he said, “I only saw one.â€Â

Lodan walked over to his desk and returned with his globe under one arm. He put it down on the table and spun it round. “We are here,†he said to Sam, prodding a finger at the Koluclaw mountains. “KSA headquarters, research facilities and tracking site Alpha. In the foothills so we get some elevation without having to haul all the building supplies halfway up a mountain. Also we're roughly equidistant from from Barkton and Foxham, which are of course the launch sites for the KIS and Rockomax respectively.†He spun the globe again. “However we are also building tracking sites Beta and Gamma here... and here. Not particularly original names I must admit but they'll do for now.â€Â

“Kerbin wide coverage,†said Obrick.

“Exactly,†said Lodan. “We see Alpha, Beta and Gamma as the anchors of a global tracking network. By themselves they should be suitable for interplanetary or perhaps Minmus bound spacecraft. Full coverage for Münar or Kerbin orbital operations will require more tracking stations of course.â€Â

Sam studied the globe. “Well KIS and Rockomax have at least one site each,†he said, “Plus I'm fairly sure that KIS have a secondary site in Wakira and Rockomax probably have a second site too. That's not a bad start.â€Â

“Provided that they both decide to cooperate,†said Obrick.

Lodan shrugged. “I'd be surprised if they turn down a free expansion to their systems,†he said. “The difficult bit is going to be getting three sets of equipment working well together but we're working on a set of common data and communication protocols to get around that.â€Â

Obrick nodded slowly. Looks like you could do with a few more psychology books in that library Director Lodan. Still - it's a good idea in principle.

“So the KSA end up paying for a piece of global infrastructure for anyone to use,†he said. “That would seem to overstep your mandate Director.â€Â

The corner of Lodan's eye twitched, “I know our mandate, Mr President,†he replied, “and we’ve met it: we identified a problem that would greatly hinder spaceflight, and we devised a solution to that problem.â€Â

“And then you implemented that solution?â€Â

Lodan smiled, “Yes I did. Two main players exist in the spaceflight business. In the long run the Twelve Pillars are right; in the short run, their competition will be disastrous.â€Â

Sam sucked air through his teeth with sharp, sudden hiss. Obrick kept his face carefully impassive. I was right about you, Lodan. “Go on,†he quietly said.

“Rockomax and the KIS†said Lodan, “are building their launch infrastructure from scratch and mostly duplicating each other's work. However unavoidable some duplication is - they will not share manufacturing or testing facilities.†He gestured at the globe. “it can be extremely wasteful. Necessity will eventually drive both companies and any newcomers to develop their own Kerbin-wide communication networks.â€Â

Lodan swigged, “By acting now Mr President,†he said, “we can prevent this replication; however unfairly any new companies will thereby gain a global network, it will aid established companies and newcomers alike.â€Â

“It also would significantly increase crew safety,†said Sam, “At least one Pillar would greatly favour that benefit.â€Â

Obrick sighed, “Very well. Construction of Alpha, Beta and Gamma stations is approved. Full expansion of the KSA mandate will require authorisation from the Twelve Pillars, and as Sam has pointed out, they already show some support.â€Â

Lodan tilted his head, a triumphant smile hidden like a blanketed star, “Thank you, Mr. President.â€Â

Obrick sucked that star into the black hole of his glare, “I strongly advise against any further unplanned expansions of that mandate, Director Lodan.â€Â

Lodan bowed his head. “Yes, Mr. President.â€Â

---

Letter from The Editor:

Yay! Your writing is developing. :) Watching and participating in this process makes me feel warm and soft and melty inside!

Advice

1 'As' means not 'when' or 'while'. 'When' means that something(s) happen(s) at the same time as another, and 'while' means that something(s) happen(s) during another, use 'while'; e.g.,

"While my parents smooched beneath the blooming apple tree, I through its sunny canopy clambered, a hefty water balloon swinging from my fist."

"When the gigantic truck squashed the tiny baby, I laughed at the comedy and cried at the tragedy."

2 Realistic diction can be concise and beautiful; e.g., "The sun was shining, and it was good" (The Sun Also Rises by Hemingway, if memory serves); whereas due to the foibles of spoken language it should only be fully realistic in transcripts. Therefore make your bureaucrats articulate despite real ones' stammering, stumbling, and using buzzwords that warrant a buzzsaw.

3 Was the construction site supposed to be beautiful, or dreary? It seemed to be both.

4 Say "before" instead of "in front of".

5 Use connotation to stimulate readers' unconscious; e.g., the duckling is 'ugly' not 'hideous' and someone who lacks a home can be 'a homeless person' or 'a bum'.

-Duxwing

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*pushes thin-rimmed glasses onto long, bent nose and perches on the edge of a stool, notebook on fingertips* *licks thumb and with it flips the notebook's yellow pages, sighing in his black turtleneck, beret, and jeans* Monsieur, zee copy edeet.

---

-snip-

-Duxwing

I highly recommend you separate

the original text and your comments

by means of some
useful formatting
or layout.

:wink: I do appreciate the comments as well, it is quite interesting to see your spontaneous writer-editor relationship

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I highly recommend you separate

the original text and your comments

by means of some
useful formatting
or layout.

I do: I put three hyphens "---" atop and below each passage of copy edited text.

:wink: I do appreciate the comments as well, it is quite interesting to see your spontaneous writer-editor relationship

:) Aww, thanks. As the number of my copy edits, so the friendliness thereof.

-Duxwing

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:wink: I do appreciate the comments as well, it is quite interesting to see your spontaneous unsolicited and arguably unnecessary writer-editor relationship

Fixed that for you.

Also, while you may appreciate it, you aren't the author and OP, are you?

IMO, everyone should let KSK tell his own **** story in his own perfectly fine words. (IMO, speaking as someone with an actual degree in English.)

If one has spare time and an urge to get out the red pen, there are many many worse examples here on the forums. Go roll that boulder.

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Fixed that for you.

Also, while you may appreciate it, you aren't the author and OP, are you?

IMO, everyone should let KSK tell his own **** story in his own perfectly fine words. (IMO, speaking as someone with an actual degree in English.)

If one has spare time and an urge to get out the red pen, there are many many worse examples here on the forums. Go roll that boulder.

Aye Mate, don't start a flame war. And Duxwing, please be adult enough not to answer him. That said, I do wonder whether KSK have asked for your opinion, and if that is the case, you could do it in a PM, so it doesn't clutter op the thread.

That said, its tradition for the users of this forum to be nice towards each other, which you obviously know, as you have been here a long time. This is a piece of fan-fiction, so I do not think anybody should need a degree in anything to write it. Also your little attack on Ortwin was totally not needed, as i see no possible way he could have wronged you.

Therefore to conclude this little rant:

Duxwing, you should pm him whether he honestly wants your help, and IF that's the case, do it in private.

Zoom, please keep a nice tone, again this is a happy community, so let us make sure it stays that way.

(Just my 2 cents, as I do not have any degree in anything.)

Edited by Danish_Savage

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