KSK

First Flight (Chapter 106 - The Sage of Barkton)

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3 minutes ago, KSK said:

Oh wow. No complicated designs required unless you wanted to - I'd be curious to see what cover picture you chose! I was thinking of something simple, maybe something like this in centred text, font and spacing as you see fit:

First Flight

A Kerbal Space Program novel.

By KSK

Then the two links somewhere under that.

No need for a formal copyright page at this stage. :)

 

And yes - if anyone does want to grab all of First Flight in a single file - now's your chance!

if you have any good screenshots of your craft, that would be awesome for a cover pic. as for the copyright information, i was going to put it in the footers on all the pages, since it is a file that is printed off a printer it can be easily separated from the copyright info, so i just put it on all the pages. how does this sound:

First Flight © KSK 2013-2016

Kerbal Space Program © Squad™ 2011-2016

also, i intend to update the file with new chapters whenever they come out, so i will post a new link whenever that happens, if that's ok with you, of course

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@KSK@Plecy75  I have a bit of (secondhand) experience with converting fanfics to "dead tree format".

The biggest thing to note is that unlicensed fanfics cannot legally be published.  Publishing generally involves getting an ISBN code, marketing, and a whole bunch of other stuff.

What can be done is what's called "vanity printing", where a printing/publishing house skips the ISBN and all that other stuff, and simply provides the service of printing and binding.  This is fairly expensive for individual copies, which is why for the one I got, a couple of people took sign-ups from everyone who wanted a copy, got a bulk-order price quote from the printer, then collected the money from everyone and placed the order.  The printer shipped the whole order to the guy who'd placed it (a few pallets worth of books; it was a long-ass fanfic that had been broken into five volumes for printing), who assembled the sets and sent them off to those who'd signed up.

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18 hours ago, Plecy75 said:

if you have any good screenshots of your craft, that would be awesome for a cover pic. as for the copyright information, i was going to put it in the footers on all the pages, since it is a file that is printed off a printer it can be easily separated from the copyright info, so i just put it on all the pages. how does this sound:

First Flight © KSK 2013-2016

Kerbal Space Program © Squad™ 2011-2016

also, i intend to update the file with new chapters whenever they come out, so i will post a new link whenever that happens, if that's ok with you, of course

 

You know - I don't really have any good First Flight craft but yes, a good screenshot would make a great cover picture. I'm liking the look of Porkjet's new engines - maybe I'll see what I can build with his LV-T15. :)  Might have to find a copy of the old demo parts as well - the old three kerb pod was the inspiration for the Kerbal 1 and Kerbal 2 capsules after all.

Yeah - if I can put together (or possibly borrow from this thread) a good Kerbal 1 and get a screenshot of it on a sub-orbital trajectory over Kerbin, just before, or maybe at the point of, booster separation. That would do nicely.

Copyright info looks perfect - good idea keeping it in the footer! And yes - feel free to update and post new links as new chapters come out - that would be great! 

Thanks!

Edited by KSK

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This mod has most of the old parts, including the original pod (set to unmanned, since there's not really room in it for three kerbals, and even one might be pushing it); it doesn't look like it's been updated since 1.0.5, but it might suffice?

Curse link

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ok, i am going to have to do a lot of photo editing (and actually get some software for it), but i will somehow get a cover for this awesome story!

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On ‎26‎/‎09‎/‎2016 at 3:45 AM, Commander Zoom said:

This mod has most of the old parts, including the original pod (set to unmanned, since there's not really room in it for three kerbals, and even one might be pushing it); it doesn't look like it's been updated since 1.0.5, but it might suffice?

Curse link

Yeah, that's the problem really. It's so out of scale with everything that came afterwards. Thanks for pointing me at the mod though. If it looks too weird, I might try the current Mk1-2 pod and the big Rockomax tank. At least the oil drum aesthetic would more or less fit  Kerbal 1. :)

11 hours ago, Plecy75 said:

ok, i am going to have to do a lot of photo editing (and actually get some software for it), but i will somehow get a cover for this awesome story!

Fantastic! A cover for the finished version would be wonderful and you should have a decent amount of time - it's not going to be finished for a while.

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7 hours ago, KSK said:

Yeah, that's the problem really. It's so out of scale with everything that came afterwards. Thanks for pointing me at the mod though. If it looks too weird, I might try the current Mk1-2 pod and the big Rockomax tank. At least the oil drum aesthetic would more or less fit  Kerbal 1. :)

Fantastic! A cover for the finished version would be wonderful and you should have a decent amount of time - it's not going to be finished for a while.

maybe if you used a mix of old and new parts, like using the old mk1 pod with the current fl-t800 tank for example, that would make a great cover! you could also use tweakscale to downsize the jumbo-64 to 1.25m, which would look even more like the kerbal 1!

Edited by Plecy75

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Next chapter is up.

 

Shaking the Pillars

Elton uncoiled his leaves from Gerselle’s and Enely’s heads. 

Enely dumped his pillows on the floor and lay flat on his back, staring at the underside of the bunk above him. Gerselle peeled the damp electrode band off her head, the tacky, elasticated fabric tugging at her hair and sticking unpleasantly to her skin. She threw it to one side, rolled off her bed and helped herself to a mug of water from Jonton’s pedestal before pressing a second mug into Enely’s out-flung hand. Jonton stood motionless against Elton’s trunk, a thicket of leaves and skeins of electrode leads still cradling his head.

<we have been as one a long time… Jonton>  Elton stumbled over the unfamiliar word <I cannot quickly draw my leaves from you, though perhaps that is for the best>

Perhaps it is, replied Jonton. Not being Kerm any longer - laying the burden aside - will be difficult enough.

<I will help, and you will always be welcome to join me in working the tapestry> Elton paused <if I could use your word for it?>

Of course, Jonton replied, I’m flattered that you’d want to - and that you think I’d be able to help now that I’m…

<kerbal again? But a kerbal who knows what it is to be Kerm. For that you will always be welcome as the first amongst my Keepers>

Jonton squeezed his eyes shut, blocking out the outside world whilst he composed himself. What about the vines? he said at last.

<vines?>

Jonton tugged at the crooked vines still wrapped around his lower torso. These. Healing vines or just vines.

<ahhh. Those too will take time to withdraw. Maybe longer than the leaf hairs. I am sorry, Jonton>

No need to be sorry, Jonton replied. It’s no more than I expected…Elton. He looked up at the two medics and Erlin, still sitting dumbfounded behind their monitors. I’d better speak to the others but don’t suppose we could…commune again before I do? Only if you want to, he added quickly. This is beyond strange for me - I can’t even imagine what it must be like for you. 

<I can’t either> said Elton gently <I remember things of course but they’re like something shown by a kerbal. They happened but not to me. But we can talk of this another day. The other kerbals will wish to commune too - it is only proper that my first of Keepers should go first>

The link yawned open and sunlight sparkled from the sudden tears that ran unchecked down Jonton’s cheeks.

A soul reborn. 

A soul unleashed.

No longer a shattered maelstrom of panic and fractured dreams. Not even the placid lake of a thirty-seven tree Kerm; wide but shallow, untroubled by wind or rain. Instead curtains of numinous fire ran from horizon to horizon, bathing the mindscape around him in the pure, unsullied joy of a being finally made whole and set at peace with itself. The sparks gambolled before him, familiar tools now, still to be respected but no longer to be feared or used as weapons of war.  Centuries of stored memories stretched out before him, reaching back into prehistory; buttressed with the deep and comforting knowledge that they were there to be absorbed, studied and to bestow wisdom in that studying. Already flickers of lightning danced around him, illuminating and reshaping whatever they touched.

Not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be lit, murmured Jonton in awe.

<yes> said Elton. <strange words but I…> A fresh wave of joy lit up the mindscape. <I think I understand them!>

“Is everything alright, Keeper?”  With an effort, Jonton dragged his attention back to the blurry figure tugging at his hand. He blinked and the anxious face of the younger medic swam into view. “Keeper?”

Jonton smiled beatifically at him. “Everything’s just fine,” he answered.

The medic swallowed hard. “And… the Kerm?”

At that, Jonton laughed out loud. “He,” he declared, “is much, much more than alright!” 

Three bewildered faces looked back at him. Then Erlin’s jaw dropped open. “Oh sweet… Are you saying…?” He stared wide-eyed at the great trunk behind Jonton’s head. “Gusemy needs to know about this I think,” he said faintly. “Preserve me, the Council… everyone needs to know about this!” He blinked. “But ‘he’, Jonton? Kerm are self-seeding plants for goodness sake. They don’t even…”

“Kerm do have male or female Keepers though,” said Gerselle. She smiled at Jonton. “I thought I recognised his voice, love.”

“A Kerm identifying with it’s Keeper,” said Erlin slowly. “Excuse me - his or her Keeper, I suppose I should say now. That makes sense…I think.”

“I wish I could say the same, “ said the older medic with asperity. “Would somebody mind telling me just what on Kerbin is going on here?”

“As I said to somebody else a long time ago,” said Jonton, “It would be easier to show than tell.” Hastily he cast his mind back to his communion with Gusemy, Obrett and Erlin and offered the memory of Erlin’s mental voice to Elton. This one has communed before but I’m not sure if the other two have. “Take a bunk, good kerbals,” he said aloud. “It doesn’t matter which one - they’re all much the same.”

The medic glanced sidelong at Erlin and raised his eyebrows. Erlin nodded, doing his best to look reassuring. “I know,” he said, “That’s what I thought too the first time but it’ll be fine, trust me.” He studied the Kerm trunk again, the corners of his mouth turning up in an involuntary grin as his curiosity began to get the better of him. Confidently, he led the way over to the bunks and picked one nearest to Jonton. “In fact, I think everything’s going to be fine.”

—————

Elton’s leaves uncoiled from the the scalps of three stunned kerbals. Erlin’s eyes shone with unshed tears as he stared wordlessly at Jonton. The older medic rolled over on his bunk, opened his mouth to speak only to close it again. He reached above his head, brushing his fingertips over leaves that, until moments ago, had been lodged in his brain. Dry, he thought. So impossibly dry. Reverently, he pressed his fingers against the whorled bark around the base of the leaf cluster. “Can we do this for all of them?” he said plaintively

“We have to,” his colleague said softly. “We can’t just leave them… deny them their chance at that.”

“I don’t think so either,” said Erlin. “How could we?” He buried his face in his hands for a second before smoothing his hair back and lacing his fingers together behind his head. “We’ll need to find a better way though.” He flicked a glance at Jonton then shook his head. “Going an-Kerm nearly killed you and if you’d died, then who knows what would happened to Elton’s mind.”

“That’s because Jonton went through it alone.” Four heads snapped round to face Enely, now sitting upright on his bed. “But nobody else needs to.” He looked Erlin in the eye. “Gerselle and I separated Jonton - the kerbal Jonton - from Elton by providing anchors for them to form around. What if we do that from the beginning?”

“Go on,” said Erlin intently.

Enely held out his hands. “Plant the thirty-eighth tree in a Grove,” he said. “Keep watch over it, make sure that when the black spots come, the Keeper and two Anchors are all communing. One Anchor supports the Keeper whilst he - or she - helps the Kerm. The other Anchor supports the Kerm. Perhaps that way there will be no shattering at all. But if there is, then we can learn from Jonton.”  Enely looked at the former an-Kerm apologetically. “You fought to keep the shards of Elton’s mind intact,” he said. “and to keep yourself apart from them. I am thinking that was a mistake. Perhaps if the shards had been allowed to melt faster, then they might have healed faster too.”

The two medics gaped at him. 

Gerselle frowned, scratching the bridge of her nose as she thought it through. “The two Anchors would need to practice communing first,” said Jonton slowly. “and let the Kerm get used to them as well as its Keeper.”

“They’d also need to be carefully chosen,” said Gerselle. “One of them would need to know the Keeper very well and the other…” Her voice trailed away. 

Enely offered her a small half-smile. “Yes,” he said, “But I would be glad to. Perhaps a third Anchor to help me and to show others in turn? I do not think I could help every Kerm on Kerbin.”

Erlin looked at them. “I think I need to make a call, “ he said at last. “Could I borrow your phone, Gerselle?”

“Of course,” said Gerselle. “It’s in the kitchen.”

Head whirling, Erlin walked out of the sleep room, shutting the door behind him. He retrieved his jacket from its peg, reached into a small buttoned-down, pocket inside and took out a plain embossed card. Mentally he ran through the procedure that Donman had taught him, took a deep breath, picked up the phone and dialled the number on the card.

“Good afternoon, Chief Ambassador Donman’s office. How may I help you?”

“Good afternoon. My name is Professor Erlin Kerman, from the Berelgan Institute. I’d like to request an advisory call with the Chief Ambassador please.”

“I’m afraid the Ambassador is in a Council meeting, Professor but I shall arrange an emergency conference call at his earliest convenience. Do you have a number he can reach you on?”

“I do,” said Erlin politely, “but I did request an advisory rather than an emergency call. Please could you inform the Chief Ambassador that this is a Bar-Katon matter, priority zero.”

The voice in his ear sounded oddly strained. “I understand, Professor but please be advised that the Ambassador is in a closed Council session and cannot be disturbed.”

A cold lump dropped into the pit of Erlin’s stomach. “Then I await the Ambassador’s pleasure,” he replied. “Please could you let him know that I’m with a pair of mutual friends. I believe he has their number but just in case.” Erlin read off the number taped to the base of the phone.

“Thank you, Professor. I shall see that the Ambassador gets your message. Good afternoon.”

“And a good afternoon to you also.” Erlin put the phone down and stared unseeingly at the wall, the cold lump twisting his insides into a savage knot.

—————

Donman hurried into the Council chamber, eyes flicking around the table as he nodded to Obrick and took his seat next to him. Behind a carefully impassive face, his heart sank at the sight of the two empty seats opposite Lanrick and Burvis. Then the great chamber doors thudded shut and any last flickering hope of good news was extinguished by the stony Firesvarn faces in front of him. President Enemone stalked up to the podium, stabbed a finger at the microphone button and, with no further preamble, began to speak.

“Good kerbals.” Enemone’s utterly flat delivery spoke more eloquently of her opinion of that greeting than any further words could. “Firesvar has convened this closed session of the Council of Twelve Pillars to bring you a report…”

—————

The Lapwing long range search and reconnaissance plane jettisoned its drop tanks and turned north for Firesvar. Descending to visual altitude it began a methodical search pattern, looping back and forth over it’s allocated section of coast, its pilot scanning for any seagoing vessels.

Halfway through his sweep he found one. 

A small ship tucked into a remote bay, a lack of wake marking it as riding at anchor. The Lapwing banked low, skimming over the waves, relying on speed and the low sun to protect it from any anti-aircraft fire. The pilot caught a glimpse of two dinghies pulled up on the beach, then he was past them, past the cliffs, over the nearby forest and banking sharply for a second pass. A flick of a switch and the centreline camera pod whirred into life, film clacking rapidly past the shutters.

On the ground, a squad of kerbals broke cover, sprinting for the treeline, slowed by the heavy packs on their backs. The aircraft roared overhead, turned and came back for a third pass, the long coastal grass snapping back and forth in the turbulence of its passing.

“Patrol craft two-zero-six reporting contact in designated sector delta-five. One vessel, two dinghies, crew sighted and confirmed making for treeline. Two-zero-six remaining on-sector till minimum safe fuel, recommend deploying pickup team asap.” The pilot paused. “Contact looks fresh, Control, if they don’t run first, pickup team may be able to repatriate.”

—————

Enemone’s gaze swept the Council chamber before settling on Lanrick and Burvis. “Firesvar therefore regretfully informs Wakira of its decision to invoke Article 24 of the Bill of Land, effective immediately.” Her voice hardened. “Firesvar also reserves the right to invoke Article 24 against any other Regionality found to be aiding or abetting the organisation calling itself the Children of Kerbin. Good day to you all.” 

The two Firesvarn marched stiffly out of the Council chamber, leaving a stunned silence in their wake. Burvis turned a furious shade of mottled green and opened her mouth to speak before a minute gesture from a flinty-eyed Lanrick made her snap it shut again in a thin-lipped, humourless smile. Chadwick and Aldwell exchanged glances, impassive faces not quite hiding the sudden shadows behind their eyes. And no wonder, thought Donman, given their decidedly pro-Kerm stance. Aldwell mumbled a perfunctory farewell before leaving the chamber behind his President. Burvis and Lanrick followed closely behind.

The Doreni leaders departed without saying a word. The openly worried Veiidan leaders nodded politely and left, leaving Donman and Obrick at an empty Council table staring at each other in disbelief.

“Do you think we can stay out of it?” said Donman at last.

Obrick pinched the bridge of his nose. “I think so,” he replied, “If anything, this should keep Wakira off our backs along the Northwest Border. I’ll order Commander Valentina to step up the patrols but pull back to our side of the border and stay neutral. Then I’ll need to call an emergency session of the Ruling Council - I trust you’ll summon the Enclave?”

Donman nodded. “I will. In fact I think we should declare a joint session.” He paused. “What about Starseed?”

“Fortunately,” said Obrick, “Rockomax and the KIS are still shouldering most of the heavy lifting there. I think we have to assume that the Wakiran contributions are going on hold for the interim but I’ll have to speak to Lanrick as soon as possible about securing Site D. The Skyhawk program is coming along well according to Lodan but still very much in the experimental phase…”

“I hate to say it,” said Donman, “but what about Doren?”

Obrick sighed. “Probably what they always do - stay neutral and extract as much political capital as they can for doing nothing. We need them to hold up their end of Starseed but Kerm knows what they’ll demand for it after Humilisia. He rubbed his forehead tiredly. “I need a drink.”

“My office is closer if you’ll settle for a coffee,” replied Donman. 

“May as well start as we mean to go on,” said Obrick. “Lead on, Ambassador.”

Corsen looked up from his monitor as Donman and Obrick strode into the office. “A short meeting, sir,” he noted.

“Short and to the point,” said Donman heavily. “Any messages?”

“Just one, sir.” Corsen walked over to the coffee percolator on its table and began scooping ground beans into the filter basket. “A priority zero call from Professor Erlin at the Berelgan regarding the Bar-Katon matter.” He looked at Donman apologetically. “I would have sent word immediately, sir, but under the circumstances…?”

Donman waved it away. “Indeed. Did Erlin leave a number?”

“On your desk sir.” Corsen saw the expression on Obrick’s face and added an extra scoopful to the basket. “I’ll bring the coffee through once it’s done.”

Donman nodded his thanks and held his office door open for Obrick. It closed behind the two kerbals with a quiet but definite sounding click. Swiftly, he crossed the room and picked up the phone.  “Good afternoon. Could I speak to Professor Erlin.” A pause. “Yes, he said. With respect, Professor, this had better be good. Yes, I thought it would be.” Donman sat bolt upright. “He did what? A medical team first? Well we can thank the Kerm for small mercies I suppose. So was the procedure successful?”

Obrick’s eyes widened at the sudden expression on Donman’s face.

“Very much so, Professor and more than you can imagine. Very well - please inform the Keepers that we’ll be there as quickly as possible.” A tone of wonder crept into his voice. “And I’d be obliged if you could convey my respects to... Elton and request an audience for myself and President Obrick. Thank you, Professor.”

Donman put the telephone down and hurried through to the anteroom. Eyebrows raised, Obrick followed him.

“…airport and have them prepare the Spirit of Kolus for immediate departure to Barkton. We’ll also need priority transportation from Barkton airport to the Grove.”

“We’ll both need transport?” said Obrick from the doorway. ”Only, I seem to recall a large number of phone calls in my immediate future.”

Donman began pulling files out of his cabinet. “You can do all that once we’re airborne. We’ll both need to witness this - only way to be sure.”

“Witness what?” said Obrick impatiently. He was completely unprepared for the sudden fire in Donman’s eyes.

“Something that we couldn’t have dared hope for, Obrick! I’ll brief you on the way, Mr President - we’ve got a war to stop.”

Edited by KSK

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@KSK This continues to be an incredible story to read. It really does stand up as one of the best science fiction novels I've read in my life. It's right up there with the works of Asimov, Bradbury, and Clarke. Thanks for continuously working on this labor of love.

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Really dying to see how you pull all this together, @KSK:D

Perhaps it's been mentioned and just slipped my mind, but is there any significance to the number 37, or was it a random choice?

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2 hours ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

Really dying to see how you pull all this together, @KSK:D

Perhaps it's been mentioned and just slipped my mind, but is there any significance to the number 37, or was it a random choice?

Not quite random but not particularly significant either. When I was writing Jonton's original Kerm planting expedition, six companions for the new Keeper, each carrying six Kerm saplings just seemed suitably ritualistic. Thirty six saplings plus the actual seed made thirty-seven. The number stuck, even if the rest of that expedition isn't really consistent with the later Kerm chapters. :)

Oh - the chronology problem with the last chapter. You've probably spotted it already but I wanted the start of the last chapter to pick up from the end of the preceding one rather than revealing Elton and then effectively doing a 'cut to commercials'. Then of course, Erlin's call to Donman wasn't going to wait for anything but at the same time, I wanted it put on hold for another Council meeting as a way of showing everyone that something really serious was going down (as opposed to mere trifles like uplifting a new sapient species and possibly solving the Kerm crisis along the way :) )Therefore, I didn't have any apparent room to fit in the reason for that Council meeting.

The solution of course was to present it in flashback, or in this case via Enemone's report. Not a particularly difficult solution I'll admit but it took me a while to see it.

As for pulling it all together - without wishing to spoiler anything, I plan to borrow a trick from Anne McCaffrey's Dragonsdawn and hopefully finish the story on a high note whilst leaving it at a place where everyone can see how the future is going to unfold (in broad outline at least) even if the details are left as a (possible) story for another time. Then I can skip ahead a bit in the epilogue whilst using it to tie up one last story arc.

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9 hours ago, KSK said:

Not quite random but not particularly significant either. When I was writing Jonton's original Kerm planting expedition, six companions for the new Keeper, each carrying six Kerm saplings just seemed suitably ritualistic. Thirty six saplings plus the actual seed made thirty-seven. The number stuck, even if the rest of that expedition isn't really consistent with the later Kerm chapters. :)

Hmm, six companions bearing six things. Methinks you needed one more six in there. Or, more fittingly, a 5 :kiss:

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well, the file will take a while to be updated, as the formatting has gotten completely out of whack. the Table of Contents alone will take days to fix. i've got a lot of work to do...

if the next chapter comes out while i am still reformatting, it will be included in the updated post

Edited by Plecy75

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Next chapter is up. Fair warning - it's short and not particularly sweet...
 

Crossroads

The Spirit of Kolus touched down on the main runway at Barkton airport. It had barely pulled onto the nearest taxiway before the whup-whup-whup of descending rotor blades sounded loudly overhead. The helicopter set down just long enough to pick up its two passengers before taking off into the pre-dawn sky, the first tinges of colour appearing on the horizon behind it…

Pioneer 6 stood on its launchpad, cradled within its gantries, caught in the light of Kerbol’s first rays. At the appointed hour, six rocket engines roared into life, carrying three kerbonauts skywards on the first stage of their Munar voyage. Behind them the jubilant crowds watched them through the rapidly dissipating early morning mists…

The orders came through. Diesel engines rumbled into life as the convoy began to move. They crossed the border under the noonday sun, heading south through the mountains. By the time the trucks stopped again, the setting sun was throwing long, irregular shadows from their armoured flanks and in the distance, casting a deep pool of shade from the fortifications straddling the narrow pass…

Frantic radio messages criss-crossed the globe from the Spirit of Kolus, their pleas to speak to the other ten Pillars of Kerbin falling on the professionally deaf ears of aides and adjutants. Then, at the close of day, a single, short message flashed eastward. 

The rockets tore through the evening sky, streaks of fire blooming into thunderous detonations that hurled broken blocks and broken bodies effortlessly aside. 

--------

“…rocket attack on Wakiran border positions. Numbers of dead and injured unknown at this time but feared to be high with survivors reporting that Ambassador Jerfun was amongst the casualties. Jerfun - the kerbal responsible for bringing the Kerm crisis into the public eye - now amongst the first victims of its latest, and most severe, escalation...”

The luminescent dials of a bedside radio set lit the musty room with a feeble glow. The room’s occupant rolled over, buried its face against the wall and pulled the bedcovers over its head. A hand reached out, snapped a switch, and a little more light went out of the world.

--------

“Flight, Bob. How do you read, Bob?”

“Scratchy but audible, Flight. Not bad, all things considered.” Bob took another bite of ration cube. “You’re working late, Gene. I thought Jeb was taking the night shifts?”

“Lucan found a message on the console this afternoon. Jeb’s not feeling too good - asked to be excused from his shift. Not a problem - I wanted to do an operational assessment on the relay sats anyway.”

“Makes sense, Flight. I’ve got time before bed - you want to start by checking the command loop?”

“Copy that, Bob.” Geneney flipped a switch, jotted down a note in his flight log and then pressed a recessed button, held it down and pressed the button next to it. A light winked out on his console. “Flight recorder off, private channel opened - please confirm.”

“Confirmed, Flight.” Bob waited for a moment. “Okay, Gene, what’s happening down there? If Jeb had two busted legs he’d get someone to wheel him in behind that console.”

Geneney’s reply was muted. “Wish I knew, Bob and it’s the note that worries me most…”

Bob completed his thought. “Yep - definitely not Jeb’s style.”

“No. I think I’ll go and find him tomorrow morning, see if anything’s up.”

Bob fell silent for a moment. “That’d make me feel better too, Gene - thanks. Tell him the crew were asking after him.”

“Yeah… yeah I will do.” Geneney pressed a button and waited for the console light to come back on before adjusting his headset. “Command loop checks out, Bob. Telemetry links look good - Lucan can run you through the formal tests on his next shift.”

“Sure thing, Flight. If Luco could wait till after breakfast that’d be nominal. How’re things over on your side of the Mün anyway?”

Geneney chuckled softly. “Ribory’s sound asleep. Chad was too excited to get his head down so the science teams at Alpha and Foxham set up an extra session for him to run through the day’s results. They’re just finishing up now. A good day all in all, even if most of it’s geology to me.”

“I know that feeling, Flight - on both counts. Not quite what I meant though.”

“No,” Geneney said resignedly, “I thought it wasn’t.” He fidgeted with the lead on his headset. “No news on that front, Bob, probably because any news team with a gram of sense is getting out of the war zone as fast as they can. Lodan’s been in meetings with the President and Chief Ambassador all day, so at least Starseed still seems to be on the priority list.”

“War zone,” Bob repeated. “We should send the Firesvarn Pillars out here, Gene - give them the view from four hundred thousand kilometres and let them see what they’re really fighting over.”

“It’s a tempting thought,” Geneney agreed. “Anyhow, that’s Chad finished and according to my flight schedule, it’s time you were heading under the couches yourself. We’ve got the ship, Bob - sleep tight and don’t let the kraken bite.”

“See you in the morning, Dad.” Bob said dryly. “Six, signing off for the night.”

--------

The warehouse stairs creaked underfoot, the aroma of old take-out food hanging in the air as Geneney climbed the stairs to Jeb’s room. He put his ear against the closed door, listening hard for a moment before reluctantly knocking.

“Are you in there, Jeb?”

For a long minute there was silence and then, much to his relief, he heard a muffled grunt from inside.

“Okay if I come in?” 

A second grunt percolated through the door, which Geneney chose to interpret as a yes. He turned the handle and gingerly opened the door, only for the smell of stale food to hit him in the face, mingled with a changing room miasma of rancid sweat and old socks. Hastily he closed the door, the click of the latch eliciting a third grunt from the shapeless heap stirring on the bed. Geneney surveyed the unwashed dishes stacked up in the sink and the pile of discarded clothes in one corner of the room. 

“Long night, Jeb? ” he said conversationally, “I don’t reckon I’ve seen your room like this since the good old Institute days.”

Jeb’s head emerged from under the bedcovers. Geneney kept his expression carefully neutral at the sight of his friends unkempt, greasy hair and the dark green bags under his eyes. “Do you want to talk about it?” he added gently, sitting down on the edge of the bed.

Jeb shook his head. “Nothing to talk about,” he said. “Just another long week at the office, that’s all. Haven’t had time for much else.”

Geneney nodded. “Gloomy in here,” he said. “Mind if I open the drapes?”

Jeb shrugged. “Sure.”

Geneney crossed the room, pulled back the blinds and opened the window a notch. The warm air from outside wafted in, cutting cleanly through the fug and stirring up ripples on the fetid grey water lurking around the dishes in the sink. He eyed the collection of beer bottles leaning against the draining board. Okay, forget about going to Jorfurts. “Well that settles it,” he said briskly, “I need a coffee, you look like you could use one too and I’d hate to disrupt whatever experiment you’ve got growing in here. No point heading over to the VAB, Derny’ll be run off his feet.” Geneney turned to look at Jeb. “My place will be a bit quieter and I’ve even got some anise in the back of the cupboard somewhere.”

Despite himself, Jeb smiled. “It’s good of you Genie but there’s no need. I’m fine - it’s been a long week is all.” He gestured around at the cluttered room. “I should get up, clear some of this junk away, get back to work. Prospector 1 isn’t gonna launch itself.”

“And all of that,” said Geneney firmly, “will look a whole lot easier after a walk to clear your head, lunch that doesn’t come in a kebab box, and a hot coffee to wash the last of the cobwebs out of that skull of yours.”

Jeb held up his hands in mock surrender. “Okay, okay. But you’d better be right about that anise.” He climbed out of bed, revealing a pair of creased and travel worn undershorts and went through to his moss room, closing the door behind him. Geneney waited for a second then retrieved a bin bag from under the sink and began gathering up the worst of the detritus. He rinsed out the empty bottles, dumped them into a recycling bag and was about to start on the washing up when he heard the moss room door opening behind him.

“I’m fine, Gene. I told you I’d clear this up myself.”

Geneney turned around to face a damp and considerably fresher Jeb. “I know you did,” he said equably. “Just thought I’d make myself useful whilst I was waiting.”

Jeb eyed him suspiciously for a moment, then began rummaging around in his wardrobe. “Well in that case, if you could leave them outside the door. I’ll dump them when I get back.” He emerged, pulling a clean shirt over his head. “You know?” he said in a muffled voice, “I think you’re right about that coffee.”

 

Edited by KSK

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14 hours ago, KSK said:

A hand reached out, snapped a switch, and a little more light went out of the world.

:wink:

Ill bodings indeed, if it can shut Jeb down. The kraken seems about to hit the fan.

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Yeah, poor Jeb's not been having a great time of things lately. More on this to come, although folks may be able to piece together some of the reasons for his current state of mind. And yes - totally busted on "a little more light went out of the world". Hope you don't mind me borrowing - it just seemed so entirely appropriate for that scene, literally and metaphorically.

On a lighter note, the coming week should be a good one for writing, plus it's also going to be wonderfully geeky! I've got a work event at CERN tomorrow, so there'll be much time to spare over the next couple of days, sitting around in airplanes, airports and hotel rooms. Then I have an evening event in Glasgow on Wednesday, after-dinner speech from one Chris Hadfield, followed by an evening out in Edinburgh next Monday for an evening with Tim Peake and Tim Kopra. Soooo - plenty of real life space stories to inspire my fictional space story!

Also, I allegedly have a four day weekend starting on Friday, although I suspect that Friday might need to be a working from home day instead. Still - long weekends are also good for writing. :)

 

 

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16 hours ago, KSK said:

Hope you don't mind me borrowing - it just seemed so entirely appropriate for that scene, literally and metaphorically.

Why, that gets me all twitterpated :wub:

16 hours ago, KSK said:

I've got a work event at CERN

CERN... that ginormous micro-blackhole-spewing particle accelerator in Switzerland??

16 hours ago, KSK said:

Chris Hadfield,  Tim Peake,  Tim Kopra...

I expect suitably Kerbalized adaptations of your encounters in a future chapter. Complete with space-guitar. :cool:

 

Spoiler

Actually, maybe that's how the world is made safe for Kerm and Kerbal! Jeb serenading the planet with Space Oddity from the Mün!

 

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The very same CERN. Some days I really love my job... :) 

I shall see what I can do about kerbalised adaptations - certainly Hadfield Kerman sounds suitably kerbal! Although Bob has already been tapped for orbital guitar duties - in 'Project Eve' if memory serves, or a chapter close to it.

Spoiler

 

"Bob - your music will align the spheres, propel us to Duna, and bring peace to Kerm and kerbal. Also - it's excellent for dancing."

- Rufus Kerman

 

.

Edited by KSK

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That.

Was.

Incredible. 

 

Fantastic speech, got a signed book and a photo to boot! Had to try really hard not to trip over my own feet in the process or just clam up and look (more) gormless. Thank you Colonel Hadfield - a truly inspirational human being.

I am an exceptionally happy (and lucky) space geek right now.

 

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On ‎11‎/‎10‎/‎2016 at 1:08 AM, KSK said:

Hadfield Kerman

If I remember correctly there was a Hadfield Kerman in Project Odyssey, it's been a while since I saw it (and it isn't exactly a quick thing to re-watch) but I think he was the one who appeared in Munar space (or was it Minmus?) and was kept alive by some temporal anomaly.

Not trying to imply anything, just my 2c.

Edited by AkuAerospace
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Hey folks,

Just a quick update since I haven't posted any new material for a while. That geek week I was talking about...morphed into two crazy long weeks at work. As in 'where the flarp did October go?' and 'why do I still have to do all the things?' and 'boy I haven't seen the bottom of my inbox in months?' So yeah, not the greatest way to get any writing done, particularly when I'm not entirely sure how to get the next couple of chapters going. I know the major plot points I need to include but figuring out what goes around them is proving to be a head-scratcher.

However, next week I have a blessed five days of leave. I plan to use them well. :) 

Don't want to jinx myself by promising you all anything new to read at the end of it but I'll definitely be looking to write myself out of this rut I'm in! In the meantime, there's a couple of new volumes in the fan works library for your perusal - assuming you haven't done so already.

First up is @peadar1987's Storm Clouds. A word of warning - if you're the kind of person who waits for the whole trilogy to come out before diving into Book 1, then this might not be for you. Wee small matters like a PhD thesis to write up won't leave Peadar a lot of time for more creative writing over the next few months but the story so far is shaping up into an intriguing political thriller with some lovely world-building to boot. We're promised actual rockets at some point but I can honestly say I'm not missing them!

Next is @Kalidor's From Kerbin to the Mün. I have to confess that I wasn't sure what to make of the title - after all, as somebody else once said about another story on these forums "It's probably fair to say that Kerbals going to the Mün has been done to death." Figured I might as well take a peek anyway and man am I glad I did. The setting is familiar but the writing is a joy and from the foreword (written by a very familiar character :) ) it looks like we have much to look forward to. A happy reminder that even now, this forum can throw up some real gems.

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