KSK

First Flight (Chapter 106 - The Sage of Barkton)

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Meh, I updated my AAR while I waited :) Gotta keep myself busy right? Well, OK, I AM busy. I'm at work right now. But inbetween... stuff. :)

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So that's what happens when a kerm seed is not planted properly. I personally predict that at some point, the kerbals will break free of their ties with the kerm trees, and begin their trek to the stars. Since the kerbals don't need the kerm anymore, the kerm will go extinct, do to the fact that it has been reliant on the kerbals for eons and won't have enough time to find a replacement symbiont.

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Oh, that's just mean! Kerms have rights too you know. Hmm, can't burn bras... how about burning seed packets and marching on DC? :)

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Hey, the kerbals proved that it is possible, no, easy to break their psychological ties with the kerm. Since they proved that, it has become only a matter of time until the kerbals will break free. I tell you, the days of the kerm trees are numbered.

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What, 'Kerbals of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your leaves' ? :D

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I'm not sure 'breaking free' of the Kerm is a good idea; it's clear that the Kerm have an enormous impact on the local environment, and without Kerbal interaction (control?) it's possible Kerbin itself would turn into an unlivable mess fairly quickly. Kerbals still need to eat, and if Kerm vs. Kerm battles result in widespread crop destruction....

In any event, loving this story and the extremely well done job of fleshing out Kerbal society in unique ways.

-Will

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I'm not sure 'breaking free' of the Kerm is a good idea; it's clear that the Kerm have an enormous impact on the local environment, and without Kerbal interaction (control?) it's possible Kerbin itself would turn into an unlivable mess fairly quickly. Kerbals still need to eat, and if Kerm vs. Kerm battles result in widespread crop destruction....

In any event, loving this story and the extremely well done job of fleshing out Kerbal society in unique ways.

-Will

I didn't say that the Kerbals break off now, maybe later when they have space colonies or mun/duna/laythe colonies or something. To break off now would be suicide.

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But perhaps more to the point, why exactly is parting ways with the Kerm trees so important? Their relationship seems pretty mutually beneficial to me; they get fruit, a certain amount of timber (presumably from specially-extruded branches that can be harvested without harming the Kerm) and detailed information about the fertility of the soil in return for... Well, not a lot as far as I know, apart from refraining from excessive logging or bad land management.

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There was something I read about a long time ago that I always wondered about. Apparently someone was growing certain types of tree right beside themselves in a wall, letting the trunks grow into each other, then as they grew it would be one very wide tree. Cut the whole thing along the length, leaving two 'half trees' being basically an open wall of a tree, one side bark, the other side the 'core' of a normal tree. You could cut blocks of wood off the 'core' side and leave the tree still growing on the other. I can't remember what kind of tree it was, but I've never heard anything of it since. I'm assuming there were troubles with it somehow. Maybe making it more easy for disease to get in to the tree? *shrugs*

Maybe Kerm can be 'harvested' of wood like that? Some parts of the tree 'unfurl' leaving only one side having bark, the other can be cut free for use?

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But perhaps more to the point, why exactly is parting ways with the Kerm trees so important? Their relationship seems pretty mutually beneficial to me; they get fruit, a certain amount of timber (presumably from specially-extruded branches that can be harvested without harming the Kerm) and detailed information about the fertility of the soil in return for... Well, not a lot as far as I know, apart from refraining from excessive logging or bad land management.

Seeing as to how little the kerbals actually need the kerm (they have cities, industry, heck even a developing space program) and how destructive the kerm can be ( a random seed lying around can destroy an entire community), as well as how easily the kerbals can break their psychological ties to them (the one girl astronaut had no second thoughts about going to space nor any longing to go home) I don't see as to why the kerbals should keep supporting them. If the kerm want to mess up their farms after the kerbals break ties, the kerbals can just say: "whatever" and build hydroponic farms. If the kerm attempt to disrupt the entire biosphere, the can all say hello to the kerbals little friend known as the flamethrower, the chainsaw, and the bulldozer.

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I'm not ready to consider the Kerm as useless and redundant in kerbal society or ecology as some seem to think. I keep thinking of something Carl Sagan once wrote:

"We humans have already precipitated extinctions of species on a scale unprecedented since the end of the Cretaceous Period. But only in the last decade has the magnitude of those extinctions become clear, and the possibility raised that in our ignorance of the interrelations of life on Earth we may actually be endangering our own future." - from Pale Blue Dot by Carl Sagan, emphasis mine.

Certainly, these new developments with the Kerm are disturbing, but if the kerbals did decide to part ways with the Kerm - or even seek to wipe it out - they might regret it to their dying day, which may be closer than they think.

Also: first time I've commented on this story, but I think this tale is the one I enjoy best of all of the stories and AARs currently running. Keep up the good work.

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I was under the vague impression that the Kerm were somehow necessary for Kerbal reproduction - or, at least, that the Kermol were where the babies come from. A Kerbal might spend most of their adult life as Kerman, but they go back to the villages to have and raise kids.

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Wow - lots of very interesting stuff here! Andrew - thank you for the kind words and thanks for dropping by to comment.

I offer the following purely as a discussion point. :)

Regardless of their present and/or future role in kerbal society, we've seen that Kerm can and do feel fear and pain. Does that affect the debate regarding a kerbal secession from the Kerm at all?

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It's pretty clear the Kerm are fully sentient, so exterminating them would be genocide, plain and simple. Plus it's pretty clear the Kerm have some method of fighting each other....

And as others have pointed out, I suspect the Kerm are fairly integral to Kerbal life cycle to (otherwise why the symbosis?) AND are tightly tied to the Kerbin ecosystem. So exterminating them would doubtlessly have major long-term consequences on the Kerbals and Kerbin as a whole.

Also, on a purely meta-level, I don't think KSK would introduce this entire concept if the story was going to be about just getting rid of the Kerm. ;)

-Will

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It's pretty clear the Kerm are fully sentient, so exterminating them would be genocide, plain and simple. Plus it's pretty clear the Kerm have some method of fighting each other....

And as others have pointed out, I suspect the Kerm are fairly integral to Kerbal life cycle to (otherwise why the symbosis?) AND are tightly tied to the Kerbin ecosystem. So exterminating them would doubtlessly have major long-term consequences on the Kerbals and Kerbin as a whole.

Also, on a purely meta-level, I don't think KSK would introduce this entire concept if the story was going to be about just getting rid of the Kerm. ;)

-Will

Perhaps KSK will kill off the Kerm for additional emotional torque.

-Duxwing

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Perhaps KSK will kill off the Kerm for additional emotional torque.

Entirely possible, but either way it's going to be a major part of the story, not just a 'man, glad we got rid of these stupid trees' moment. :cool:

-Will

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wow-wow-WOW! Whats with all the 'breaking free' and 'killing kerm' talk?

Are you people mental?

We have read a near Utopian society where there has been indicated time and again that both the Kerman and the Kermol life-styles are completely OK with one-another.

Why would the Kerbals ever have the need to 'break free' or kill Kerm? They already are free to chose their lifestyle and while I'm sure popularity will vary over time there will allways be people who prefer the secure traditional rural lifestyle above a more rapidly-changing techno-oriented one, and vice versa.

And since both sides are completely fine with that there won't be any 'anti-kerm clash'. In fact their mutual respect has lead them to a far more environmental-friendly industrial society than what we humans created with we started bring 'progress and civilization' to the world. (go re-read chapter Poyekhali and that one with the 'senate meeting' (can't remember the name))

Accidents happen:

Rockets explode, cars crash, electronics can electrocute, and apparently the Kermon Groves get in deep you-know-what when Kerm-population ranges overlap. Hence the traditional 'plant seeds a day's walk away from other Groves' directive.

My latest theory:

Imagine 100 years ago: before all the widespread fast travel. When a grove community discovers a new region, or simply when a grove gets so big a significant portion of the community 'wants to go someplace, and explore'. The Kerm-trees resonate with this emotion, these intentions, this DRIVE onward! So the Kerm creates a seed, and those with the drive can venture out and are given focus and direction for their 'YES, new stuff!' itch.

The past 'few' events have caused enormous emotional outbreaks in all of Kerbalkind. Incredible waves of "OMG there's LOADS of new places to go and explore and see and experience and, and, AND... WHOOOHOOOOoooo...".

Kerm tree-collectives and kerbal nature are deeply connected, the Groves 'resonate' with Kerbal attitude. The planet-wide space-enthusiasm among Kerman and Kermol has caused all the Groves (or at least, many) to spur the creation of many seeds...

If we extrapolate Earth development to Kerbin development, we can assume that by now, the start of the space age: All continents are settled with Kerbals, large industrialized populations on relative small pieces of land, and wide-spread more traditional civilizations who cover all other terrain types.

With this new seed-plosion, Kerbin might be running out of space for Groves... A situation never encountered before*.

*It probably happened before, on smaller local scale, I sure hope they got that covered in the archives.

Sorry for the long rant.

Well, not really :P.

PS KSK, on a scale of 1-10, how right am I with this 'Kerbal emotion -> seed-creation' theory?

Edited by OrtwinS

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OrtwinS

You're right. Sorry about the whole kill the kerm thing everyone. Now that I see it, OrtwinS explanation makes sense.

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Awwww, and I had all the signs, banners and 'Save the Kerm' stuff all ready for the march too! *sulks* :wink:

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Have you guys read the latest Daily Kerbal? (this one)

Gene Kerman is getting animated!

edit: I KNOW this isn't related to this thread specificly.

But ever since I started reading I project KSK's characters on my game characters, hence I regard 'the' Gene as 'our' Gene.

Edited by OrtwinS
explanation

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Wow, I've spent the last few days reading up on this thread. KSK, this is fantastic. You've demonstrated a great talent for writing and I can't wait to see what comes next.

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Thanks Lightning - next chapter coming right up! The whole thing was getting quite long, so I figured it would probably stand being split into two...

Docking - Part I

Hanbal gnawed on one knuckle and listened to the familiar cadences of Mission Control ebbing and flowing around him. Controllers murmured into their headsets, requesting system reports, issuing orders to their teams and relaying updates to the flight director. Keyboards clacked away, orchestrating shifting patterns of data that rippled over dozens of monitor screens and lit up constellations of tell-tale lamps.

Like the eye of a hurricane, the orbital tracking screen was the single point of calm at the centre of the data storm. The familiar map of Kerbin was empty apart from a single stylised rocket icon representing the Endurance on its launch pad. For now, Hanbal's gaze was fixed firmly on the next screen, which was currently showing a view over that very same launch pad.

Compared to previous generations of Rockomax boosters, Endurance looked deceptively simple. A gently tapered capsule sat atop a single unbroken tube of metal, with an engine bell attached to its base. The whole assembly was capped by a latticed spire, which in turn was topped with a cluster of smaller rockets. Only the tubing wrapped around the upper end of the engine bell - and the thin plumes of vapour rolling down her flanks - suggested that Endurance might be something different.

Hanbal caught a familiar whiff of hair oil as the control room door swung open behind him. He flicked a look to his left as Danfen joined him at the rail.

"Cutting things a bit fine weren't you?" he said quietly.

Danfen nodded. "Took longer than we thought to clear that last hold. Turned out to be a faulty sensor on the hatch."

Hanbal's reply was cut short by a squawk of feedback. Nelton adjusted a dial on her console.

“Understood, Bunker. That's a Go for terminal count."

One of the controllers got up from his seat, walked up the steps to the viewing balcony and locked the door. He nodded briefly to the two engineers and hurried back to his console.

Danfen glanced up at the monitor. The view over the launch pad flickered and was replaced by a close up image of the launch tower fuelling arm. Two thick hoses emerged from a port on the booster and disappeared off screen. The port itself was thickly rimed with frost and every so often a chunk broke away and dropped out of view. The image sputtered and dissolved into static before switching back to the view from the launch pad camera.

“She doesn't look like much from this distance does she?" said Danfen.

“No," said Hanbal, “the single booster makes it tricky to get a sense of scale, unless you know what you're looking at."

Danfen chewed on his thumbnail for a moment. “It's a nice simple design though," he said at last, “Two stages, two engines, two decouplers. No B1s strapped on the side to stress the airframe, less off-axis thrust to balance."

Hanbal snorted. “You forgot the two tankfuls of liquid oxygen," he said dryly. “That's quite enough stress on the airframe for my tastes. Not to mention a main engine that's about an order of magnitude more powerful than any liquid fuelled stage we've ever flown before."

Danfen's knuckles turned white on the rail. “I know," he said, “We learned a lot from the SK1-O though - version P is much more robust."

“Oh the Skipper is a good engine," said Hanbal. “Best machine we ever put on the stand and the test flights went off without a hitch. It's just..."

Danfen completed his thought. “Yeah. It's a big engine to put a crew on top of. Incidentally - 'Skipper'?"

“The propulsion team's nickname for the SK1-P," said Hanbal. “I don't recall who started it... but it stuck."

Danfen laughed. “You'll need to think of a better name for the upper stage," he said. “The 'Skigger' doesn't have quite the same ring to it."

Below the balcony, the tempo was picking up. The keyboards rattled away and the various clicks and clacks from the other controls grew steadily more urgent. One by one, auxiliary monitors lit up around the main orbital tracking screen, displaying detailed readouts of the different spacecraft systems.The controllers remained focused on their consoles, silent except for crisp, clipped reports to Nelton as they each signed off the final items on their checklists.

“APU disconnect Go."

“Capsule is on internal power."

“Tank pressures nominal. Clear for LOX feed detach."

“We are Go for autosequencer start."

Nelton tapped her microphone for attention. “All stations report in please. Booster?"

“Go, Flight."

“Flight Dynamics?"

“Go, Flight."

“Guidance?"

“We're Go, Flight."

“Telco?"

“Go, Flight."

“CapSys?"

“Go, Flight."

“Spacecraft?"

All the controllers smiled as James' and Sherfel's voices rang out in unison.

“Go!"

Hanbal's eyes scanned the screens restlessly as he silently counted off the final moments to lift-off. The water jet sound suppression system started with four seconds to go, drenching the base of the launch pad and shrouding the bottom of the booster in a dense mist. At two seconds, a painfully bright light flared through the fog, faded briefly and then exploded into a torrent of golden fire blazing out of the SK1-P engine bell. Thousands of litres of water instantly blasted into clouds of superheated steam, lit from within by the incandescent glare of rocket fire.

For a fraction of a second the rapidly building downdraft from the engine sucked the billowing mass back towards the rocket and out through the flame trench. Then, the sheer volume of exhaust pouring out of the Skipper overwhelmed the trench capacity and enveloped the launch pad in a roiling inferno of fire and smoke. Somewhere in the midst of the maelstrom, a set of launch clamps fell away.

“Lift-off. We have lift-off!"

Hanbal clenched his jaw as Endurance clawed her way unsteadily off the pad. Come on, come on, comeon! The launch escape tower twitched from side to side as the booster fought it's way skyward, guidance systems struggling to keep the unwieldy machine upright. Then the noise hit them.

Even from Mission Control, the roar was terrifying, shaking windows and knocking cups off consoles. The overhead lights rattled in their mounts. sending shadows pitching and swaying over the display screens. The vibrations pounded through the Hanbal's chest, gripping it in a primal embrace until he felt his entire body shaking in sympathy with the booster.

“Tower is clear!"

Danfen let out his breath explosively and grinned fiercely at Hanfal. On the monitor screen, Endurance's engine lifted clear of the launch tower, lofted out of the chaos by a solid, brilliant white pillar of fire. Now the rocket was picking up speed, accelerating smoothly as it climbed its own length and then it's own length again past the top of the tower. Far below on the ground and completely obscured by the dense smoke, the last tongues of flame gambolled across the launch pad, twisting and swirling in the superheated air.

“Approaching Max Q."

Nelton pushed a switch on her console. The overhead speakers crackled and roared and then fell silent. Everyone suddenly heard Sherfel calmly working through her checklist.

Endurance is supersonic. Pitch and roll looking good. Skipper readouts are nominal."

Danfen chuckled as James' voice came over the loop.

“We got ourselves a nice smooth ride here, Flight - once we managed to get off the ground."

“Copy that Endurance" said Nelton blandly. “I'll be sure to let the engineering teams know that you approve of the anti-pogo systems."

“I just hope the second stage is as smooth," muttered Hanbal.

Danfen squeezed his shoulder.

“It'll be fine. How many times did we run through the chill-down procedure in testing?"

He raised his hand before Hanbal could speak. “Yes, I know - not the same as doing it under flight conditions. Admit it though Han - we couldn't have asked for a better launch to try it for the first time."

Hanbal scowled at him and turned back to the monitors.

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

Endurance sped through Kerbin's upper atmosphere. The brilliant yellow white flame from its main engine had long since fanned out into a dirty orange plume glowing dully in the the thin, frigid air. Then, with a final cough of sooty flame, the SK1-P shut down. A sudden sharp crack of explosive bolts split the rocket in two and the spent lower stage fell slowly away, beginning a slow end over end tumble as it dropped back to Kerbin. A second, smaller set of bolts fired with a popping noise, sliding the interstage ring free. It slipped easily over the second stage engine bell and began its own long descent to the ground whilst the rest of the rocket coasted serenely upwards.

----------

“Second stage ignition confirmed, Flight!"

“Thank you, Booster. Guidance?"

“Looking good, Flight."

“Telco?"

“We're Go, Flight. Routing the backup telemetry through the air to ground link but primary data is coming through the satellite feed."

"Flight - Booster."

“Go ahead, Booster."

“Escape tower jettison confirmed Flight. Clean separation."

Hanbal's shoulder's dipped by a fraction of a centimetre. “It worked," he murmured, “it actually worked."

“Just like it did in testing," agreed Danfen. “I'm no trajectory expert but I'm guessing that three kilometres per second at one-two-five kilometres, means we can't be far off the flight plan."

“No idea," said Hanbal. “It's enough to drop them back into the sea on a reasonable trajectory though if anything goes wrong." He glanced at the monitor. “Thrust looks okay, fuel consumption is right on the curve."

Danfen nodded. “No atmosphere left to stress the airframe. If she's held together this long, she..."

Hanbal poked him sharply in the ribs. “Don't say it. Just don't."

The two engineers watched the telemetry whilst Endurance climbed steadily to orbit. The atmosphere in Mission Control was still alert but the relaxed postures of the controllers and cheerful tones of the crew told their own story. Nelton however, was still sitting bolt upright at the flight directors console, head flicking from side to side as she shifted her attention from system to system. Occasionally she leaned forward and spoke quietly into her microphone, eyes still focused on the screens.

“Flight, this is Booster. Second stage shutdown in twenty."

“Thank you, Booster. Flight Dynamics?"

“We'll need confirmation from Tracking,"said Lemgan “but right now, it looks like we're right at our predicted orbit."

Muted applause rippled around Mission Control. Nelton gave her team a moment to celebrate before tapping her microphone. The room instantly fell silent.

“Good work, everyone. Endurance, do you read?"

“Loud and clear, Flight," came the the prompt reply. “Our board is green and our view is... well our view is out of this world, Flight."

“Copy that, Endurance. Okay, I want both telemetry channels online for the next manoeuvre Suggest you take half an orbit to do some sight-seeing and then get set up for transposition and docking on the next pass over Foxham.

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

Endurance drifted serenely in orbit, spinning slowly about one axis to keep her nose pointed in the direction of flight. Reflected light from Kerbin shimmered off the spacecraft hull, lighting up thruster mounts like miniature stars and turning the polished antenna dish a deep blue. Two of the thrusters spat fire in precise bursts bringing the slow rotation to a halt.

Puffs of flame flared in the darkness and a dark crack raced around the tapered forward end of the booster. Four curved steel petals folded back revealing a stubby cylindrical module nestled atop the booster second stage and allowing Endurance to float freely for the first time. A delicate choreography of thruster pulses pushed her clear of the booster, flipped her neatly over and then drove her back towards the booster with her nose aimed squarely at the centre of the docking port attached to the forward end of the module.

Delicately, with the merest puffs of flame from the thrusters to correct her course, Endurance brushed against the open port. There was a long pause as she seemingly gathered herself for the next effort. Then, with all four thruster blocks firing majestically against the starry blackness, she pulled away from the empty booster, hauling her prize from it's steel cradle into open space.

The module resembled a giant polished thread reel, cylindrical but with a thick raised rim at each end. Equipment boxes girded the centreline and the hull was festooned with hand - and foot - holds for spacewalking kerbonauts. A pair of small portholes were set into each side, glinting in the raw sunlight. Endurance was securely attached to one end, her heat shield pointing along the direction of flight.

Inside, James let go of the the thruster controls and wiped his forehead with the back of his hand. Beside him, Sherfel tapped away at a small keyboard set into the edge of her control panel.

“And done. Okay, Flight, orbital program loaded, RCS mode to Docked."

“Confirmed, Endurance. You're clear for an orbit raising burn in twelve minutes, circularising in fifty one. Stand by for burn parameters."

“Copy that, Flight - got my pad right here."

Sherfel cocked her head to one side, brow furrowed as she copied two strings of figures into her flight log and then read them back to Nelton.

“That's a good read, Endurance. Telco is picking up some noise on the backup telemetry link, requests you cycle breakers 22a through c."

Sherfel pulled out the toggles on her panel, waited five seconds and then pushed them back into place.

“How's that, Flight?"

“System is cleared, Endurance. Thank you."

----------

The meagre acceleration from the thrusters cut out and James and Sherfel bobbed up against their harnesses. Sherfel tapped out an enquiry on her keyboard and the flight computer promptly flashed up three numbers.

“One nine seven by one nine three by twelve," she reported.

“Good enough for now, Endurance," replied Nelton. “According to CapSys, air pressure in the hab module is good, so you're Go for ingress at your convenience."

Sherfel couldn't quite keep the excitement out of her voice. “No time like the present, Flight, she said, unbuckling her harness and pulling herself free of her acceleration couch. She swung her legs slowly to one side, caught hold of the handgrips set into the edge of her control panel and pushed herself down under the two couches. She studied the hatch for a moment then braced herself and pulled the locking lever firmly down.

The hatch came free with a clunk of retracting bolts. The air pressure between the linked spacecraft equalised with a gust of air that rippled Sherfel's hair and wafted the scent of adhesives and fireproofed upholstery into Endurance.

“Mmmm," said James from above her head, “that new spacecraft smell! Air pressure is holding steady, Sherf."

Sherfel lifted the hatch out of its frame and stowed it carefully under the capsule couches. Then she wriggled through the narrow passageway into the habitation module.

“Okay - I'm in!" she called out to James. “Beginning inspection."

Two gently curved shelves extended along the length of the cabin walls in front of her, dividing the main accommodation area into upper and lower sections. Yeah, yeah, no up and down in space, Sherfel corrected herself automatically, but it doesn't make much sense to put the controls on the floor. Each shelf had a neatly stowed sleeping bag and set of restraints fastened to each end. She peered under one shelf and was surprised to see what looked like a set of thick rubber bands clipped under it. Oh right - the exercise bungees.

The cabin gangway was uncluttered but a pair of sack chairs - fitted with the seemingly ubiquitous restraints were stuck to the floor under each shelf. Grinning to herself, Sherfel pushed off from the wall behind her and drifted towards the centre of the room, languorously stretching out her limbs as she went. Compared to the cramped confines of Endurance's cockpit, this was luxury! She caught one of the sleep shelves with one hand and deftly spun herself about to face the passageway back to the capsule.

The reason for the narrow passageway instantly became clear. A bulkhead sectioned off most of the aft end of the cabin and two familiar signs stencilled on the bulkhead door made it very clear what lay behind. Hand over hand, Sherfel worked her way along the shelf and nudged the door open. Wonder how this is supposed to work in zero-G?

She was confronted with a seat perched atop a steel drum and surrounded by an improbable looking set of plumbing and attachments. Okaaay - that's... different to the training rig. Those bits over there must be for the guys I guess. Either that or the engineers on the ground have more of a sense of humour than I thought. You know what? I think James can be the first to boldly go on this particular mission. She edged her way out of the tiny chamber and closed the door firmly behind her.

Right, sanitation this way, so that way must be the galley. Sherfel drifted over to the forward bulkhead and cautiously pushed the door open. Sure enough the small room contained little else but two water spigots and shelf after shelf of ration packs. Clipped to the front of one shelf however, was a very welcome surprise. Her eyes widened in incredulous delight at the row of capsules, each half opaque and half transparent and each containing an incongruous splash of green foliage.

She unscrewed the top of one capsule and gently bruised one of the thick fleshy leaves between her fingers, sniffing happily as they released a familiar aroma. Pepper cactus! Well this place is certainly looking up. Plenty of space, a bit of greenery and a chance to do a little home cooking. She bent forward and read the labels on the other tubes. Marrowort, citrella, saltleaf, yellow clover and firewhisker. Oh this will do nicely! She screwed the lid back on the capsule and made her way back out to the main cabin, trailing the pleasantly astringent scent of pepper cactus through the open door behind her.

“Everything looks in order through here!" she called.

“Gotcha, Sherf,"James called back. He paused, “and Mission Control are giving us a Go for power up."

“Copy that. Deploying PV arrays."

Sherfel flipped back the locking bars over two prominently placed buttons and pushed the one marked PV-A . A green light began to blink on the control panel next to it and then, after an interminable wait, settled into a reassuringly steady, green glow. The needles on one set of dials swung smoothly over and other sections of the control panel began to light up. Sherfel scanned them, nodded to herself and pressed the second button.

The second green light blinked twice, then suddenly glowed orange. Sherfel jumped as a loud buzzer went off next to her ear and hastily pressed the button again. Not good. Five seconds to cycle the systems then lets try that again. The second attempt was no better. The buzzer sounded again and the orange caution light was replaced by a baleful red malfunction indicator. She jabbed the button again as James' startled voice echoed through the passageway.

“What's happening through there, Sherf? Bus A looks good but I keep getting warning lights on Bus B initialisation."

“Not sure, Jim, I'm going to take a look outside."

Sherfel pushed off towards the nearest window, hitting it with a solid thud. She craned her neck, trying to get a view back down the hull that wasn't hidden in a glare of sunlight.

“Can't see much from here, Jim. Give me a plus ten roll."

“Copy."

Sherfel stared out of the window as Endurance started a slow spin. Kerbol disappeared behind the hull and long shadows crept out from behind the hand holds and equipment boxes attached to the cabin exterior. Then she stiffened. Oh sweet Kerm...

“Hold it there, Jim. And... you'd better tell Control that we've got a problem here."

 

<< Chapter 26:     Chapter 28>>

Edited by KSK
Punctuation fails and chapter renaming.

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Let me guess. Thermal blanket/micrometerite shield ripped off and tore the solar panel off with it?

Love the detail you put into this KSK, the feel of tension in mission control is palpable :)

One thing, when she was flipping around to dock with the module in the bay I got confused. Nothing suggests she actually docked with the port, so when it says 'Then, with all four thruster blocks firing majestically against the starry blackness, she pulled away from the empty booster' I wondered why she was pulling away, rather than going towards it. Maybe say something like 'A thunk transferred through the craft as contact was made' ? Just to suggest a division between forward then reverse movement?

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