KSK

First Flight (Chapter 99 - The Needs of the Many)

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Thanks Weegee - glad you're enjoying it! And thanks for the extra rep attempt Briansun.

Next chapter is up.

Reunion

Gerselle bent down and kissed the top of Joenie's head. The kerblet rolled over sleepily, still clutching a stone in one small pudgy green fist.

“Ummy, 'one."

Gerselle smiled, “Yes, beautiful girl, I can see you've still got your stone. Just you hold on to it and you'll still have it in the morning."

She pulled the cover back over Joenie and watched as her daughter's eyelids drooped, struggled fitfully to stay open for just one last minute and then closed. She waited quietly for a moment, until the slowing pace of Joenie's breathing told her that she really was asleep, then turned away and tiptoed out of the sleep room.

Meleny was waiting for her on the porch. “Both asleep?" she asked.

Gerselle nodded. “Both absolutely out for the night, touch wood."

 Meleny chuckled softly. “And so they should be. I've never seen such a pair for getting into places that they shouldn't. Give them another month or two and we'll both be hard pressed to keep up with them."

Gerselle sank into a chair. “Another month or two? I'm hard pressed to keep up with her now and she's only barely walking! Although your Adbas seems to manage just fine."

Meleny grinned. “The trick with Adbas is to keep him distracted. If he's busy enough playing with something new then he tends to keep still. For half a minute at least."

Gerselle groaned. “I should probably have married a geologist then rather than a Keeper. At least a geologist would be able to provide a steady stream of new and interesting stones to play with." She sighed. “Speaking of Keepers... I should probably go. Joenie should sleep through the night but the quicker I get back the better."

Meleny shook her head in mock seriousness. “Well I'm just as happy that you married a Keeper. I don't want to even think about the chaos that either of our two would cause if they got their inquisitive little hands on Daddy's rock hammer!"

Both kerbals got to their feet. Gerselle gave Meleny a brief but heartfelt hug. “Thank you so much for looking after her tonight. I'm afraid I might be imposing on you quite a bit more over the next few months as well."

Meleny looked at her curiously. “How much time does a growing Kerm actually need?"

“I have no idea," Gerselle confessed, “and the Records aren't much help either. They do give plenty of advice about how to talk to your Kerm but not very much at all about when, how often, or how much care they actually need."

Meleny quirked an eyebrow at her. "So, much like parenting books then? Lots of detail but none of it ever seems to apply to your own little bundle of joy."

Gerselle nodded wryly. “Probably. Although I'm also hoping that Kerms are at least a little bit like kerblets, and need less attention the older they get. As far as I know they can feed themselves too and don't need cleaning - or at least I devoutly hope they don't!"

Meleny laughed. “Feeding and bathing a Kerm! I wouldn't know where to start."

“Me neither but I think I'm about to find out. Peaceful night, Meleny."

“Peaceful night, Gerselle."

Meleny watched as Gerselle set off down the path towards the rest of the village without even pausing to wave goodbye. Not that she blamed her. The care and feeding of kerblets was one thing, the care - and feeding, of Kerm was quite another. “Good luck, Gerselle," she whispered, “Good luck."

As she trotted across the village green towards her makeshift shelter, Gerselle reflected that whatever was about to happen, it was at least a good night for it. The young Kerm was far too small to build a hut around of course, so the best she had been able to do was a rough lean-to to keep the worst of any rain off her sleeping pallet. Not that that was going to be terribly comfortable either but it would have been far worse if it had actually been raining.

She reached the entrance to the lean-to and ducked under it, being especially careful not to brush up against the Kerm sapling in her way. Munlight glowed softly through the chinks in the roof as she dragged her pallet over to the sapling and crawled into bed, carefully working her head under the newly unfurled cluster of leaves midway up its slender trunk. She lifted her head until it brushed against the leaves, slipping her pillow under her neck as she did so. Then, not really knowing what else to do, she waited.

The leaves were cool and felt slightly prickly as they rested against her forehead. They also didn't seem to be doing very much. Gerselle tried to remember if the Records had mentioned anything about this but to the best of her recollection, most of the advice revolved around what to do once the Kerm had made contact. The concept of a shy Kerm didn't really seem to have been a consideration. She frowned and reached around behind her to massage her neck, lifting her head up as she did so.

The prickly feeling against her skin was abruptly replaced by an unpleasant crawling sensation as the leaf hairs began to wriggle against her scalp. Startled, Gerselle's head thumped against her pillow as she reflexively flinched away. That... crawling feeling, wasn't at all like the mild tickling that Jonton had described but perhaps he was just used to it. Or maybe his Kerm was just older and a little more practised at making contact. Still, there was no avoiding it.

Gerselle rolled up her poncho into a bundle and wedged it under her pillow to provide a little more height. Then, gritting her teeth, she shuffled up the pallet until her head was in place back under the Kerm leaves. Instantly, the crawling sensation started up again and Gerselle clenched her calves as she tried to remain still. Fortunately, the feeling did subside into more of a tickling feeling as the leaf hairs burrowed underneath the more sensitive outer layers of her skin. Then they stopped.

There was a pregnant pause. Gerselle breathed deeply, trying to still her racing pulse and calm her thoughts. If she tried hard, she could almost believe that she felt a faint tendril of other thought brushing against her mind but it was extremely tentative, darting away as soon as she tried to reach out to it. Remembering the advice from the Records, Gerselle stopped trying to focus on the fleeting glimpses of thought and instead did her best to project broader feelings of welcome and reassurance. It seemed to work. The tendril still felt very cautious as it approached but this time there was a definite moment of contact. A brief wash of aroma swept against Gerselle's mind and then withdrew. Emboldened by her lack of response, the tendril came forward again, brushing more confidently against her. Gerselle's nose twitched at the scent. Other tendrils circled round and then settled delicately against her mind. More scents swept through her brain and then more and yet more, as the Kerm opened itself up to her.

Gerselle's nostrils fluttered wildly as the flood of aromas cascaded through her. Overloaded, her brain began to interpret them as bursts of colour and even snatches of sound. A distant, rational part of her realised that the Kerm must perceive almost everything through smell - it's world was in the minutia of the soil and the creatures within it. Creatures that had no need of light and had only the crudest sense of sound.

The rest of her struggled to hold itself together against the torrent.

The Kerm seemed to realise that she was struggling and the flood of information slowed. The lean-to around her had been replaced by a surreal landscape of coloured blotches. Fragments of sound fluttered across it, snatches of birdsong, the wind in the trees, a babble of voices, the tap tap tap of footprints across the porch. A furious melange of scents still bombarded her, some pleasant, some... very pleasant indeed. Gerselle cheeks flamed in the darkness and she devoutly hoped that the Kerm was not aware of the significance of that particular smell. Other scents were less enjoyable and occasionally she felt a very strong urge to gag.

As Gerselle relaxed, the landscape began to shift. Slowly at first and then jumping randomly from scene to scene. None of it made the slightest bit of sense but at the back of her mind she could sense happiness, excitement and an almost childlike enthusiasm. The phrase “Ummy, 'one!" drifted through her head and she fought down an urge to burst out laughing. The Kerm really wasn't so very different from a kerblet after all and it had the same infectious joy and desire to share its world with her. She couldn't really make out very much of what it was trying to tell her - and indeed she had a sense that the Kerm itself didn't really understand very much of it either, it was simply repeating what it had sensed.

Gerselle had no idea how long she had been in communion with the Kerm but the colours around her were starting to blur and melt into one another. The scents were also becoming more muted and she had the distinct feeling that the Kerm was tiring. In response, she did her best to project thoughts of sleep and rest. A thought struck her and she focused firmly on an image of the Kerm leaves lifting away from her head.

<disappointment>

Gerselle was stymied. How could she explain that she would be back soon? Did the Kerm even have a sense of the passing of time? Then an another idea struck her. She did her best to recall the aroma of damp earth in the morning and the scent of Kerm leaves in the early morning mist. She let the memory fade out and be replaced by the feeling of cold on a starry night and the crisp clean scents of the evening air. Finally she focused on herself, lying under the Kerm sapling and lifting her head up to brush against its leaves.

<happiness>...<more more more>...<not now>

The colours around her faded away. Gerselle was only vaguely aware of the leaf hairs withdrawing from her scalp as she slumped down in her bed, utterly drained. Blinking, she stared at the clock hanging from a nearby branch. Only an hour to cram all that sensation into? Small wonder she was so spent. Still - at least she hadn't kept Meleny waiting too long.

-----------

The next morning, Gerselle wasn't feeling a great deal less tired. She had made the mistake of telling Joenie that Daddy was coming back tomorrow, which had led to a tearful bedtime when Daddy failed to appear. Gerselle had eventually soothed her by promising that she would see him in 'one sleep'. One very short sleep as it happened. Joenie of course had been up at first light, whereupon she had promptly toddled across to Gerselle's bed, squeaking in excitement. Gerselle still had no idea how she had managed to climb up onto the covers but not only had she managed it but she then proceeded to bounce cheerfully up and down on Gerselle's stomach babbling 'Dadadadadadada' to herself. Groaning, Gerselle had bowed to the inevitable and climbed out of bed for a very early breakfast.

It had been a trying morning, with a very excited kerblet but now they were standing by the side of the road at the edge of the village, watching a small figure walk towards them. As the figure drew closer, Gerselle smiled to see Jonton's familiar ambling walk. She put Joenie down and waved to him.

“There you go, beautiful. Why don't you go and say hello to Daddy?"

Joenie perked up. “Dadada? DADADADA!" She scampered off down the road. Jonton dropped to one knee and flung his arms open in welcome. As Joenie crashed pell-mell into him, he swept his arms around her in a great bear hug and kissed her.

“Hey hey, big girl! Where did you learn to run so fast?"

Joenie clung to him for a moment and then squirmed around and pointed back to Gerselle.

“Ummy!"

“That's right - mummy. Shall we go and give her a hug?" Jonton settled Joenie onto one arm, dropped his backpack and sprinted up the road. Tears prickled his eyes as he saw Gerselle's face and put his arms around her and Joenie both, in a long wordless embrace. “It's been far too long," he murmured into her ear. Gerselle didn't reply but just drew him closer until Joenie squeaked in protest.

“Oh - sorry. Are we squashing you, little lady?" Jonton gently disentangled himself and put Joenie down on the ground. Gerselle squeezed his arm briefly before retrieving a large pack at her feet.

“So what now, love. Do I get to see the new village?"

“In a while. I thought it would be good to get a little time to ourselves first." She shook the pack. “How about some lunch in the new Grove?"

The three kerbals made their way up the hill. Gerselle smiled to herself as Joenie grabbed hold of Jonton's hand, forcing him to alternately shuffle and skip along behind her, almost bent over double. As the path got steeper, he stopped, scooped a delighted Joenie up and settled her on his shoulders.

“That's better." Jonton's back popped as he took a good look around him for the first time. “This looks a bit different than I remember." Wonderingly, he walked up to one of the Kerm saplings and stared at it in delight. “This is looking remarkably healthy - in fact the whole hill is looking remarkably healthy given what I remember of the soil."

Gerselle nodded. “The clover is doing well. This is our second crop now, after ploughing the first lot back into the ground." She laughed, “You always did tell me that the Kerm would speak to me through it's leaves."

Jonton looked puzzled. “It does," he said slowly, “but not until the knitting is complete. How did you know it wanted you to plant the clover?"

Gerselle's eyes widened. “Through the spots on the leaves of course. It's all written down in the Records." She walked up behind him and pointed over his shoulder. “They're fading a bit now - I guess the soil has improved slightly - but you can still see the blue dapples. Different colours and patterns mean different things but apparently blue means 'plant clover'. It took quite a while to work out since the oldest Records aren't very clear but it certainly seems to be working."

Jonton shook his head in disbelief. “Messages in dappled leaves. I had no idea! I guess my old Kerm is settled enough now that it doesn't need those sort of messages any more. Anyway - this looks like the perfect spot for lunch."

The three kerbals settled down onto the clover. Jonton kept half an eye on Joenie as Gerselle opened her pack and set out a simple meal of greenleaf rolls, cold sapwood cordial with milk, baked tubers and plump orange sunfruit. As he bit appreciatively into a tuber, he was mildly surprised to see Joenie grabbing pieces of roll and stuffing them into her mouth.

Gerselle caught his surprised look. “I've had to stop making them with luffa eye peppers," she said ruefully. “Those didn't go down too well but yes, she loves greenleaf." She paused as Joenie grabbed another morsel from her plate. “And baked tuber too apparently. At least they're probably a bit better for her digestion. Too much greenleaf tends to have unfortunate effects."

After lunch, the two adult kerbals sprawled out companiably on the clover, watching Joenie scamper over the hilltop.

“She really can move on those little legs," Jonton said in wonder. Gerselle smiled proudly, “You should see her with her friends. Always the first into everything, although Meleny's Adbas is usually a close second!"

An excited voice drifted over to them, “Urm 'ummy, Urm!"

Jonton raised his eyebrows, “Kerm?" he said.

“Worm, I expect," said Gerselle. “Worms, leaves and especially stones - it's all new and exciting."

As if to prove her mother right, Joenie hurtled towards them, clutching something in her hand. She dropped it proudly on the ground in front of Jonton. “'One, dada, 'one!"

Gravely, Jonton picked up the stone for inspection. Oh - that's a good stone, sweetheart. Look, can you see the fossil?"

“Ossil!"

“That's right. Fossil." He offered the chunk of rock back to his daughter. “Joenie want stone?"

Joenie shook her head firmly. “Dada ossil."

Jonton was oddly touched. “That's very kind - thank you, Joenie," he said solemnly. He dropped the fossil into one of the pockets of his poncho. “Daddy is going to keep the ossil... I mean fossil, in his pocket."

Gerselle got to her feet. “Come on, beautiful. We'd better take Daddy back to the village. Would you like to go on Mummy's shoulders or Daddy's?"

“Ummy!"

Jonton chuckled. “That sounded pretty definite," he said. “You take Joenie, love, I'll carry the bags."

Edited by KSK

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Thanks Weegee - glad you're enjoying it! And thanks for the extra rep attempt Briansun.

Next chapter is up.

Reunion

Gerselle bent down and kissed the top of Joenie’s head. The kerblet rolled over sleepily, still clutching a stone in one small pudgy green fist.

“Ummy, ‘one.â€Â

Gerselle smiled, “Yes beautiful girl – I can see you’ve still got your stone. Just you hold on to it and you’ll still have it in the morning.â€Â

She pulled the cover back over Joenie and watched as her daughter’s eyelids drooped, struggled fitfully to stay open for just one last minute and then closed. She waited quietly for a moment, until the slowing pace of Joenie’s breathing told her that she really was asleep, then turned away and tiptoed out of the sleep room.

Meleny was waiting for her on the porch. “Both asleep?†she asked. Gerselle nodded. “Both absolutely out for the night – touch wood.†Meleny chuckled softly. “And so they should be. I’ve never seen such a pair for getting into places that they shouldn’t. Give them another month or two and we’ll both be hard pressed to keep up with them.â€Â

Gerselle sank into a chair. “Another month or two? I’m hard pressed to keep up with her now and she’s only barely walking! Although your Adbas seems to manage just fine.†Meleny grinned. “The trick with Adbas is to keep him distracted. If he’s busy enough playing with something new then he tends to keep still. For half a minute at least.â€Â

Gerselle groaned. “I should probably have married a geologist then rather than a keeper. At least a geologist would be able to provide a steady stream of new and interesting stones to play with.†She sighed. “Speaking of keepers... I should probably go. Joenie should sleep through the night but the quicker I get back the better.†Meleny shook her head in mock seriousness. “Well I'm just as happy that you married a keeper. I don’t want to even think about the chaos that either of our two would cause if they got their inquisitive little hands on Daddy’s rock hammer.â€Â

Both kerbals got to their feet. Gerselle gave Meleny a brief but heartfelt hug. “Thank you so much for looking after her tonight. I’m afraid I might be imposing on you quite a bit more over the next few months as well.†Meleny looked at her curiously. “How much time does a growing Kerm actually need?â€Â

“I have no idea,†Gerselle confessed, “and the Records aren’t much help either. They do give plenty of advice about how to talk to your Kerm but not very much at all about when, how often, or how much care they actually need.â€Â

Meleny quirked an eyebrow at her. “So, much like parenting books then? Lots of detail but none of it ever seems to apply to your own little bundle of joy.â€Â

Gerselle nodded wryly. “Probably. Although I’m also hoping that Kerms are at least a little bit like kerblets, and need less attention the older they get. As far as I know they can feed themselves too and don’t need cleaning – or at least I devoutly hope they don’t!â€Â

Meleny laughed. “Feeding and bathing a Kerm – I wouldn’t know where to start.â€Â

“Me neither but I think I’m about to find out. Peaceful night Meleny.â€Â

“Peaceful night Gerselle.â€Â

Meleny watched as Gerselle set off down the path towards the rest of the village without even pausing to wave goodbye. Not that she blamed her. The care and feeding of kerblets was one thing, the care and… feeding, of Kerm was quite another. “Good luck Gerselle she whispered, “Good luck.â€Â

As she trotted across the village green towards her makeshift shelter, Gerselle reflected that whatever was about to happen, it was at least a good night for it. The young Kerm was far too small to build a hut around of course, so the best she had been able to do was a rough lean-to to keep the worst of any rain off her sleeping pallet. Not that that was going to be terribly comfortable either but it would have been far worse if it had actually been raining.

She reached the entrance to the lean-to and ducked under it, being especially careful not to brush up against the Kerm sapling in her way. Munlight glowed softly through the chinks in the roof as she dragged her pallet over to the sapling and crawled into bed, carefully working her head under the newly unfurled cluster of leaves midway up its slender trunk. She lifted her head until it brushed against the leaves, slipping her pillow under her neck as she did so. Then, not really knowing what else to do, she waited.

The leaves were cool and felt slightly prickly as they rested against her forehead. They also didn't seem to be doing very much. Gerselle tried to remember if the Records had mentioned anything about this but to the best of her recollection, most of the advice revolved around what to do once the Kerm had made contact. The concept of a shy Kerm didn't really seem to have been a consideration. She frowned and reached around behind her to massage her neck, lifting her head up as she did so.

The prickly feeling against her skin was abruptly replaced by an unpleasant crawling sensation as the leaf hairs began to wriggle against her scalp. Startled, Gerselle's head thumped against her pillow as she reflexively flinched away. That... crawling feeling, wasn't at all like the mild tickling that Jonton had described but perhaps he was just used to it. Or maybe his Kerm was just older and a little more practised at making contact. Still, there was no avoiding it.

Gerselle rolled up her poncho into a bundle and wedged it under her pillow to provide a little more height. Then, gritting her teeth, she shuffled up the pallet until her head was in place back under the Kerm leaves. Instantly, the crawling sensation started up again and Gerselle clenched her calves as she tried to remain still. Fortunately, the feeling did subside into more of a tickling feeling as the leaf hairs burrowed underneath the more sensitive outer layers of her skin. Then they stopped.

There was a pregnant pause. Gerselle breathed deeply, trying to still her racing pulse and calm her thoughts. If she tried hard, she could almost believe that she felt a faint tendril of other thought brushing against her mind but it was extremely tentative, darting away as soon as she tried to reach out to it. Remembering the advice from the Records, Gerselle stopped trying to focus on the fleeting glimpses of thought and instead did her best to project broader feelings of welcome and reassurance. It seemed to work. The tendril still felt very cautious as it approached but this time there was a definite moment of contact. A brief wash of aroma swept against Gerselle's mind and then withdrew. Emboldened by her lack of response, the tendril came forward again, brushing more confidently against her. Gerselle's nose twitched at the scent. Other tendrils circled round and then settled delicately against her mind. More scents swept through her brain and then more and yet more, as the Kerm opened itself up to her.

Gerselle's nostrils fluttered wildly as the flood of aromas cascaded through her. Overloaded, her brain began to interpret them as bursts of colour and even snatches of sound. A distant, rational part of her realised that the Kerm must perceive almost everything through smell - it's world was in the minutia of the soil and the creatures within it. Creatures that had no need of light and had only the crudest sense of sound. The rest of her struggled to hold itself together against the torrent.

The Kerm seemed to realise that she was struggling and the flood of information slowed. The lean-to around her had been replaced by a surreal landscape of coloured blotches. Fragments of sound fluttered across it, snatches of birdsong, the wind in the trees, a babble of voices, the tap tap tap of footprints across the porch. A furious melange of scents still bombarded her, some pleasant, some... very pleasant indeed. Gerselle cheeks flamed in the darkness and she devoutly hoped that the Kerm was not aware of the significance of that particular smell. Other scents were less enjoyable and occasionally she felt a very strong urge to gag.

As Gerselle relaxed, the landscape began to shift. Slowly at first and then jumping randomly from scene to scene. None of it made the slightest bit of sense but at the back of her mind she could sense happiness, excitement and an almost childlike enthusiasm. The phrase “Ummy, 'one!†drifted through her head and she fought down an urge to burst out laughing. The Kerm really wasn't so very different from a kerblet after all and it had the same infectious joy and desire to share its world with her. She couldn't really make out very much of what it was trying to tell her - and indeed she had a sense that the Kerm itself didn't really understand very much of it either, it was simply repeating what it had sensed.

Gerselle had no idea how long she had been in communion with the Kerm but the colours around her were starting to blur and melt into one another. The scents were also becoming more muted and she had the distinct feeling that the Kerm was tiring. In response, she did her best to project thoughts of sleep and rest. A thought struck her and she focused firmly on an image of the Kerm leaves lifting away from her head.

<disappointment>

Gerselle was stymied. How could she explain that she would be back soon? Did the Kerm even have a sense of the passing of time? Then an another idea struck her. She did her best to recall the aroma of damp earth in the morning and the scent of Kerm leaves in the early morning mist. She let the memory fade out and be replaced by the feeling of cold on a starry night and the crisp clean scents of the evening air. Finally she focused on herself, lying under the Kerm sapling and lifting her head up to brush against its leaves.

<happiness>...<more more more>...<not now>

The colours around her faded away. Gerselle was only vaguely aware of the leaf hairs withdrawing from her scalp as she slumped down in her bed, utterly drained. Blinking, she stared at the clock hanging from a nearby branch. Only an hour to cram all that sensation into? Small wonder she was so spent. Still - at least she hadn't kept Meleny waiting too long.

-----------

The next morning, Gerselle wasn't feeling a great deal less tired. She had made the mistake of telling Joenie that Daddy was coming back tomorrow, which had led to a tearful bedtime when Daddy failed to appear. Gerselle had eventually soothed her by promising that she would see him in 'one sleep'. One very short sleep as it happened. Joenie of course had been up at first light, whereupon she had promptly toddled across to Gerselle's bed, squeaking in excitement. Gerselle still had no idea how she had managed to climb up onto the covers but not only had she managed it but she then proceeded to bounce cheerfully up and down on Gerselle's stomach babbling 'Dadadadadadada' to herself. Groaning, Gerselle had bowed to the inevitable and climbed out of bed for a very early breakfast.

It had been a trying morning, with a very excited kerblet but now they were standing by the side of the road at the edge of the village, watching a small figure walk towards them. As the figure drew closer, Gerselle smiled to see Jonton's familiar ambling walk. She put Joenie down and waved to him.

“There you go beautiful. Why don't you go and say hello to Daddy?â€Â

Joenie perked up. “Dadada? DADADADA!†She scampered off down the road. Jonton dropped to one knee and flung his arms open in welcome. As Joenie crashed pell-mell into him, he swept his arms around her in a great bear hug and kissed her.

“Hey hey big girl! Where did you learn to run so fast?â€Â

Joenie clung to him for a moment and then squirmed around and pointed back to Gerselle.

“Ummy!â€Â

“That's right - mummy. Shall we go and give her a hug?†Jonton settled Joenie onto one arm, dropped his backpack and sprinted up the road. Tears prickled his eyes as he saw Gerselle's face and put his arms around her and Joenie both, in a long wordless embrace. “It's been far too long,†he murmered into her ear. Gerselle didn't reply but just drew him closer until Joenie squeaked in protest.

“Oh - sorry. Are we squashing you little lady?†Jonton gently disentangled himself and put Joenie down on the ground. Gerselle squeezed his arm briefly before retrieving a large pack at her feet.

“So what now love. Do I get to see the new village?â€Â

“In a while. I thought it would be good to get a little time to ourselves first.†She shook the pack. “How about some lunch in the new grove?â€Â

The three kerbals made their way up the hill. Gerselle smiled to herself as Joenie grabbed hold of Jonton's hand, forcing him to alternately shuffle and skip along behind her, almost bent over double. As the path got steeper, he stopped, scooped a delighted Joenie up and settled her on his shoulders.

“That's better.†Jonton's back popped as he took a good look around him for the first time. “This looks a bit different than I remember.†Wonderingly, he walked up to one of the Kerm saplings and stared at it in delight. “This is looking remarkably healthy - in fact the whole hill is looking remarkably healthy given what I remember of the soil.â€Â

Gerselle nodded. “The clover is doing well. This is our second crop now, after ploughing the first lot back into the ground She laughed, “You always did tell me that the Kerm would speak to me through it's leaves.â€Â

Jonton looked puzzled. “It does,†he said slowly, “but not until the knitting is complete. How did you know it wanted you to plant the clover?â€Â

Gerselle's eyes widened. “Through the spots on the leaves of course. It's all written down in the Records.†She walked up behind him and pointed over his shoulder. “They're fading a bit now - I guess the soil has improved slightly - but you can still see the blue dapples. Different colours and patterns mean different things but apparently blue means 'plant clover'. It took quite a while to work out since the oldest Records aren't very clear but it certainly seems to be working.â€Â

Jonton shook his head in disbelief. “Messages in dappled leaves. I had no idea! I guess my old Kerm is settled enough now that it doesn't need those sort of messages any more. Anyway - this looks like the perfect spot for lunch.â€Â

The three kerbals settled down onto the clover. Jonton kept half an eye on Joenie as Gerselle opened her pack and set out a simple meal of greenleaf rolls, cold sapwood cordial with milk, baked tubers and plump orange sunfruit. As he bit appreciatively into a tuber, he was mildly surprised to see Joenie grabbing pieces of roll and stuffing them into her mouth.

Gerselle caught his surprised look. “I've had to stop making them with luffa eye peppers,†she said ruefully. “Those didn't go down too well but yes she loves greenleaf.†She paused as Joenie grabbed another morsel from her plate. “And baked tuber too apparently. At least they're probably a bit better for her digestion. Too much greenleaf tends to have unfortunate effectsâ€Â

After lunch, the two adult kerbals sprawled out companiably on the clover, watching Joenie scamper over the hilltop.

“She really can move on those little legs,†Jonton said in wonder. Gerselle smiled proudly, “You should see her with her friends. Always the first into everything, although Meleny's Adbas is usually a close second!â€Â

An excited voice drifted over to them, “Urm 'ummy, Urm!â€Â

Jonton raised his eyebrows, “Kerm?†he said.

“Worm, I expect,†said Gerselle. “Worms, leaves and especially stones - it's all new and exciting.â€Â

As if to prove her mother right, Joenie hurtled towards them, clutching something in her hand. She dropped it proudly on the ground in front of Jonton. “'One, dada, 'one!†Gravely, Jonton picked up the stone for inspection. “Oh - that's a good stone sweetheart. Look, can you see the fossil?â€Â

“Ossil!â€Â

“That's right. Fossil.†He offered the chunk of rock back to his daughter. “Joenie want stone?â€Â

Joenie shook her head firmly. “Dada ossil.â€Â

Jonton was oddly touched. “That's very kind - thank you Joenie,†he said solemnly. He dropped the fossil into one of the pockets of his poncho. “Daddy is going to keep the ossil... I mean fossil, in his pocket.â€Â

Gerselle got to her feet. “Come on beautiful. We'd better take Daddy back to the village. Would you like to go on Mummy's shoulders or Daddy's?â€Â

“Ummy!â€Â

Jonton chuckled. “That sounded pretty definite,†he said. “You take Joenie love, I'll carry the bags.â€Â

DAMN Now I look like jeb smiling like crazy thanks :D

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I like your I like your female and family angle--most other tales principally concern fuel, steel, and testosterone--and I want to see you do it justice.

Some recommended rules:

--Put adverbs before verbs just as you put adjectives before nouns

--Lists of any kind are are always x, y, ... and z

--Ground your dialogue by surrounding it with descriptive language

--Be more specific where possible to increase clarity

--Show, don't tell, especially regarding emotion

Below is a passage of your writing to which I have applied these rules:

----

Gerselle bent down and kissed the top of Joenie’s head. The kerblet sleepily rolled over, still clutching a stone in her small, pudgy, green fist, “Ummy, ‘one.â€Â

Gerselle smiled, “Yes beautiful girl – I can see you’ve still got your stone. Just you hold on to it, and you’ll still have it in the morning," and pulled the cover over Joenie, smiling as her daughter’s eyelids struggled to stay open. Gerselle quietly waited until Joenie’s eyes closed and breathing slowed; sure that her little one was asleep she kissed her forehead, turned away, and tiptoed out of the sleep room.

Meleny was waiting for Gerselle on the porch in a chair, “Both asleep?â€Â. Gerselle nodded. Meleny softly chuckled, “As they should. I’ve never seen another pair get into so many places that it shouldn't. We’ll hardly keep up in a month or two.â€Â

Gerselle sank into a chair beside Meleny with a groan. “Another month or two? I can't keep up with her now, and she’s only barely walking! Although your Adbas seems to manage just fine.†Meleny laughed, then answered, “The trick with Adbas is to keep him distracted: he keeps still when playing with something new," she sighed, "at least for half a minute.â€Â

Gerselle rested her cheek on the heel of her hand and her elbow on the arm of the seat and sighed, “I should have married a geologist instead of a keeper: at least he'd provide a steady stream of new stones.†She continued with a sigh, “Speaking of keepers... I should go. Joenie will probably sleep through the night, but the quicker I get back, the better.†Meleny shook her head in mock seriousness, “Well I'm just as happy that you married a keeper. I don’t want to even think about the chaos that those inquisitive little hands could wreak with Daddy’s rock hammer.â€Â

Gerselle gazed at Meleny. A moment passed, and both Kerbals exhaled, sinking into their seats. Gerselle shrugged and rose to their feet. Meleny rose with her and with eyebrows peaked and smile spread wide walked to her and pulled her close. Gerselle whispered, “Thank you so much for looking after her tonight. I’ll really need your help in the next few months.†Meleny pulled her head back and looked at her curiously. “How much time does a growing Kerm actually need?â€Â

Gerselle rested her forehead against Meleny's, “I have no idea, and the Records aren’t much help either." She swallowed, eyes misty, "They give plenty of advice about how to talk to your Kerm, but when? How often? How much care do they need? I, I have no idea.â€Â

Meleny chuckled and pulled Gerselle close again, putting her warm hand on the back of her head. “So, like parenting books then, huh? Lots of detail but none for your own little bundle of joy.â€Â

Gerselle blinked and wryly nodded, “Probably. I hope that Kerms are like kerblets in needing less attention as they grow up," she added with a smile, "As far as I know, they can feed themselves too and don’t need cleaning – or at least I hope they don’t!â€Â

“Feeding and bathing a Kerm," Meleny laughed, "I wouldn’t know where to start.â€Â

Gerselle gave Meleny a squeeze and then gently pulled away, “I think I’m about to find out. Peaceful night Meleny.â€Â

Meleny answered, “Peaceful night, Gerselle" and watched Gerselle wordlessly walk to the village. Caring for and feeding kerblets is one thing; the care and… feeding... Kerm is quite another. “Good luck Gerselle," she whispered, “Good luck.â€Â

----

I would have added even more detail, but I skipped to the last entry because I am mostly interested in the beauty of language rather than the particular story. Consider me a roving copy editor. :) Consider rendering the emotional bonds and difficulties thereof in even greater scope and detail to ground Kerbalkind in hearth and home. I also recommend rewriting your first chapter lest readers misjudge the rest of your work. I rewrote your introductory sentence / invocation of the muse below:

----

Long before our blazing rockets roared up through the sky; long before intrepid rovers told geniuses, "For why?"; long before each probe core beeped in hopes that it would fly was a group of friends who in their slumber dreamed of orbits high.

----

To write something that is classically 'beautiful' (in your case, your introduction) write poetry: choose a rhythm and rhyme scheme and finagle with the language until your message is clear. You'll soon like the discipline and poetic license that you thereby gain--just remember to eventually write prose again!

-Duxwing

P.S. I hope that I've helped without seeming too arrogant.

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Constructive criticism is always helpful and you didn't come across as arrogant to me. Thanks for the rules and suggestions too.

Adverbs are an interesting one. I have to admit that I tend to use them in the way that sounds most natural to me rather than by any particular rule or rule of thumb. For example 'Meleny chuckled softly' (my version) sounds more natural to me than 'Meleny softly chuckled' (your version). I'd definitely be interested in talking this over in more detail but if you don't mind, I'd prefer to take that conversation off-thread.

For lists - I thought that's pretty much what I was already doing? Or are the Oxford commas sneaking in there too? Probably best if I pick a style and stick with it.

Regarding the last three points, I try to stick by those but they certainly bear repeating particularly 'showing not telling.' Something to work on for sure, although if you don't mind me saying, I think your version went a little too far in the opposite direction for that particular scene. Gerselle and Meleny are good friends but that's it as far as those particular kerbals are concerned :) Perhaps it's just the straight-laced Brit in me but I felt that things were starting to get distinctly steamy in your re-telling! Unless it was exaggerated for effect of course.

As far as the first chapter goes - yeah that was originally written as a standalone piece complete with its own little epilogue in Jeb's junkyard, so the style might not match the rest of the story. In the consolidated version of First Flight, the first chapter is re-cast as a prologue, which helps but yes - the opening lines (mainsails and Mun rovers) might need re-working a bit.

Anyhow, thanks for taking the time to comment and especially for taking the time to re-write a section of the story to illustrate your points.

Cheers,

KSK.

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Warriorbulb - thanks for that. Glad you're still enjoying the story! Brody_Peffley - you've got me smiling right back. I certainly enjoyed the detour into kerbal family life - good to know it worked for you too.

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Constructive criticism is always helpful and you didn't come across as arrogant to me. Thanks for the rules and suggestions too.

Adverbs are an interesting one. I have to admit that I tend to use them in the way that sounds most natural to me rather than by any particular rule or rule of thumb. For example 'Meleny chuckled softly' (my version) sounds more natural to me than 'Meleny softly chuckled' (your version). I'd definitely be interested in talking this over in more detail but if you don't mind, I'd prefer to take that conversation off-thread.

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Regarding the scene with Gerselle and Meleny, I didn't find anything untoward or sexually suggestive about it at all. Of course, I'm the kind of guy who looks at shipping within fandoms with all manner of bafflement.

(just as another perspective on that)

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Regarding the scene with Gerselle and Meleny, I didn't find anything untoward or sexually suggestive about it at all. Of course, I'm the kind of guy who looks at shipping within fandoms with all manner of bafflement.

(just as another perspective on that)

Heh - probably just me then. Probably time to dial that stiff upper lip back a notch or two :)

Thanks for the feedback though and glad you're enjoying the story!

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KSK I'm sorry I don't have much to add but Really liking the fic so far, and while you'd said something about 'would make an ebook but would want to get the developer's permission', making an ebook version of this does not nessicarily mean you have to charge people money to download it.

On the other hand you have a very nice writing style and frankly I want to see you get heaps and heaps of cash thrown at you. Do sorta wonder, if they said they'd host your book on site as an 'extra' but no money would change hands (working under the idea you're getting credit here mind you) would you go for something like that?

Oh and because I derped on something while reading, what's a kermol? I like the apparent plant based symbiotic connection the Kerbals have. Lot of interesting questions and I'm glad you're going the direction you are.

Also I'm hoping Rockomax succeeds in things. Granted I also sorta want a rivalry but well, I'm sure Jeb would agree having someone else out there with a lighter under your pants is going to get ou moving and trying to push ahead... even if ultimately in a crunch situation you'd drop everything to help them out of a spot.

Not looking forward to the eventual loss of life, manned crew not making it back. Still if it didn't happen eventually It'd feel somehow off. It's an unpleasant thing but new frontiers tend to take lives either by overconfidence, underpreparedness, or blind stupid bad luck.

*not affiliated with KSP, the developers, or anybody else. I'm just that guy y'know?

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Guest links123

I am liking the fic, must charge money for your eBook but the charges should be nominal.

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so hum when will the next section be up ?

Got a bit distracted last night lobbing Mystery Goo into sub-orbital space. :D

I think the writing for the next chapter is about 75% done but there's also a fair bit of re-working to do before I post it. When that happens largely depends on how busy this weekend ends up being.

Cheers,

KSK.

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Next chapter is up...

Beached

The launch bunker was warm, stuffy and smelled of the sharp ozone tang of overheated electronics and the earthier scent of overheated kerbal. Geneney stifled a yawn as he listened to the background hum of the bunker equipment and the clicking of buttons as the flight control team worked their consoles. He idly watched as one of the overhead display monitors switched from a view of the departing rocket to a view over the grandstands and was gratified to see that they were still full to bursting, with a great throng of kerbals sitting on the grass between the stands and the safety fence. Even after half a dozen launches from the Barkton Space Centre, it seemed that the local appetite for spaceflight was unabated.

“Starting pitch and roll program," Bill called out, jolting Geneney's attention back to the launch. He swiftly checked the repeater displays on his console. “Pitch and roll is in. Booster is looking good. Systems report please, Wernher."

Wernher scanned his readouts. “905s are running a little hot," he said, “but within expected parameters. LV-T20 is nominal."

“Understood, Wernher. Keep an eye on the 905s - we may need to throttle back the second stage a little as a precaution. Flight Dynamics - how will that affect our transfer window?"

Lucan looked up from his console. “Shouldn't make any difference, Flight," he said, “We've figured in three orbits for systems checkout and platform alignment. Even if we're a bit late getting to our parking orbit, we should still have plenty of time to get set up for the burn."

“Thank you, Lucan. How's the trajectory looking, Bill?"

“We're, Go Flight. Booster is through point of maximum pressure."

The telemetry screens flickered briefly and then fuzzed into static. Geneney frowned. “Looks like the main data cable has come loose. That shouldn't be able to happen at this stage in the ascent."

Lucan tapped at his console. “Something could have jolted it at max Q, Gene,"he said, “Switching to auxiliary channel."

Bill cleared his throat. “I don't think that's going to help much," he said quietly, “Gene - take a look at the crowd."

Geneney glanced over at the monitor and stiffened in surprise. Hundreds of kerbals were on their feet, staring out to sea with a slack jawed expression. With a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach, he patched in the audio loop from the commentary box.

“There is still no official word from Mission Control but that's an awfully bright light out there. If that was a problem with the first stage then hopefully it happened close enough to staging that Mission Control can salvage the flight."

Lucan's forlorn voice sounded loudly in the sudden silence. “No signal from the auxiliary channels either, Flight. I think we just lost the spacecraft."

Geneney buried his head in his hands. Across the room, Wernher worked furiously at his console before giving up and throwing himself back into his seat. Lucan and Bill just stared blankly at the static filling their displays. After a moment, Lucan broke the strained silence. “So what do we do now, Flight?" he said tentatively.

Geneney blearily lifted his head and peered across the room, blinking hard to bring everything back into focus. Before he could say anything, a voice spoke up from the doorway.

“Well I don't know about you, Lucan but I'm going to borrow Ornie's truck and head over to Jorfurt's to pick up a couple of casks." Everyone turned to stare at Jeb who was leaning casually against the bunker door. Geneney shot him an angry glare.

“Dammit, Jeb - this is hardly the time for a party!"

“Actually,“ said Jeb, “I think this is exactly the time for a party." He cocked an eyebrow at Geneney. “Or have you forgotten how we ended up solving most of the problems with the Kerbal 1?"

There was a squeaking of wheels on concrete as Wernher rolled his chair around the corner of his console. “Jeb does have a point," he said, “After all - we're not exactly in a hurry to retrieve the rocket. Whatever's left of it is probably in little tiny pieces scattered over a square kilometre or two of the Great Tranquil Sea. We might be able to work something out from the telemetry but speaking personally, that telemetry is going to make a lot more sense after a couple of mugs of Jorfurt's latest and a good long sleep."

Geneney stared at him and then dismissively shrugged his shoulders. “Whatever you say, Jeb. I doubt that anyone else will go for it though."

There was a rare hint of steel in Jeb's voice. “Not my problem, Genie," he replied, “I'm leaving it to you to persuade them. And if all else fails, I'll chase every last one of them out of the warehouse and lock the door." The steel disappeared as Jeb sagged against the doorframe, massaging his temples. “Besides," he said, “I know I'm bushed, so I hate to think how everyone else is feeling right now. If we start putting another rocket together in this state, we're more likely to burn the place down than anything else."

Geneney threw up his hands. “You're probably right," he said grudgingly.

Jeb looked at him wearily. “Thanks, Genie. I'd better go speak to Leland and let him know what happened - and what we plan to do about it. He's bound to ask anyway." He glanced around the bunker. “I'll meet everyone back at the warehouse in an hour or so."

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

Jeb's shoulders were slumped as he walked towards the main warehouse and vehicle assembly building. The press interview had gone fairly well all things considered and he thought that he had been reasonably optimistic without sounding too forced. However, no amount of quietly confident replies to Leland's questions could disguise the fact that their first attempt at a Munar flight hadn't even made it into low Kerbin orbit.

Time to put on the public face, Jeb, he thought to himself, as he squared his shoulders, forced the scowl off his face and opened the warehouse door. Inside, the atmosphere was unsurprisingly gloomy, with despondent kerbals standing around in small groups. He spotted Geneney in one corner and dipped his head briefly. Geneney caught his eye and nodded back, before stepping out into the middle of the warehouse floor.

“There's no good way of saying this, people, so I'll get right to the point. Today was a setback."

Jeb shut the door quietly behind him and went over to sit down beside Bill and Bob.

“But it's a setback we can overcome. We know the Moho booster works, we know it will be enough for what we have in mind and I have absolutely no doubt that we can work out what went wrong, fix it and then put today behind us."

The babble of voices died away. Geneney bowed his head in acknowledgement and then straightened up with a determined expression on his face.

“I can tell you right now that this is not going to be a finger pointing exercise. We all build them, we all fly them and when they go wrong - well we all share that too. I've seen what comes out of our workshops - each and every kerbal here does good work and I know that nobody but nobody wanted that flight to fail."

“And I can also tell you right now that I am proud to be standing here today!"

Geneney noticed the confused looks from around the room and the corner of his mouth briefly twitched upwards as he continued.

“I am proud to be working with a team that has overcome impossible obstacles and a shoestring budget to do things that have never been done before. A team that can build an honest-to-Kerm rocket ship, by hand, from the raw metal upwards - and then put the son-of-a-gronnek into orbit!" Geneney jabbed himself in the chest for emphasis. “Forget what I said about doing good work - you people are doing awesome work!"

Geneney was startled to realise that his fists were clenched and his voice was cracking. He paused, striving for a lighter tone.

“For now though, I think we all deserve a break. I know I've been putting the hours in over the last couple of weeks but I've never yet managed to be the first in or the last out of this warehouse. I'm not going to name any names but I'm pretty sure that at least two of you have been spending your nights sleeping under a workbench for most of the last week! Jeb's still looking for his spare toothbrush by the way so if someone could put it back that would be good."

There was a patter of rather forced laughter. Most of the kerbals standing around Geneney began to look more enthusiastic, although some were muttering worriedly to their neighbours. Geneney raised a hand as the muttered comments began to swell into a general grumble.

“I know that taking a break isn't what some of you want to hear but trust me on this one. I can't tell you how often we ended up banging our heads against some problem with the Kerbal 1 and just getting nowhere. We usually found that the best way to solve that problem was to take a couple of days off, maybe work on some other part for a bit and then come back to it with a clear head."

“So I tell you what we're going to do. We're going to kick back, spend some time on the beach, maybe have a few drinks. I'd promise you a fireworks display but Jeb gets... excitable around fireworks so I think we'll give those a miss. Then we're going to come back in here tomorrow afternoon, we're going to work through this little problem and then we're going to put the next rocket right smack into orbit around the Mün!"

Jeb nodded in satisfaction as the sullen muttering faded into cheerful chatter. He sprang to his feet.

“Sounds good to me, Genie! Ornie - I'm going to need a lift down to Jorfurt's to pick up a couple of casks and other suitable refreshment. You're our resident barbecue expert, so grab a couple of volunteers and figure out what you need for the catering. Bob - you're in charge of music. Everyone else - we're gonna need plenty of firewood, something to sit on and a table or two to put the food on. And if anyone has any games they want to bring along, then feel free!"

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

The junkyard gates swung open and a motley array of vehicles trundled out. Ornie's truck led the way, indicators flashing as it turned right on its way to Barkton town centre. It was followed by a handful of cars, each crammed full of eager kerbals. Finally, with a rumbling of engines, two motorcycles rolled through the gates, ridden by Wilford and Camrie with Seelan and Lodan sitting bolt upright behind them. Lodan hopped off to close the gates, before leaping back on behind Wilford. With a roar, the two bikes raced away, heeling over sharply as they swung round the corner and rode away down towards the beach.

By the time Ornie's truck pulled up on the edge of the sand, a firepit had already been dug out and a large heap of driftwood piled up inside. A semicircle of stones were carefully laid out on one side of the pit to form the beginnings of a makeshift barbecue grill. Two tables stood ready by the firepit and assorted chairs, old tyres and large rocks were scattered in a loose circle around the heap of wood. Ornie noticed Bob's guitar resting jauntily against one of the chairs. Half a dozen kerbals stood around chatting, watching the others marking out a large circle in the damp sand further down the beach.

Jeb scrambled out of the front seat, slamming the door closed behind him. No sooner had he made his way round to the back of the truck than all six kerbals were running up to help unload it. Ornie retrieved his trolley from the back seat and was busy setting it up, when he heard a loud clunk.

“Hey!" shouted Jeb, “This isn't a keg of Wakira Special you two are thumping about! If you can't take better care of one of Jorfurt's brews you're not going to be drinking any of it later."

Ornie appeared round the side of the truck, carrying his trolley in one hand. Calzer and Tomcas had propped up two planks against the back and were cheerfully rolling a keg down them. He raised his eyebrows at the impromptu ramp and then very pointedly, pressed a button on the tailgate. With a wheeze of hydraulics, the tail lift slowly unfolded and lowered itself to the ground. Calzer and Tomcas looked appropriately sheepish as Jeb scowled at them. “You two can carry this down to the beach - and just be happy that Genie didn't catch you mistreating the beer."

As Jeb stood by the heap of driftwood, he could hear the swishing of knives and other assorted cooking implements as Roncott and Lowise busied themselves making vegetable skewers, spiced meatcakes and other delicacies for the barbecue. Wilford and Camrie were helping after a fashion but as far as he could tell, were actually spending more time regaling the others with tales of their flights into space. Calzer and Tomcas were setting up the trestles for the beer kegs and Jeb was inwardly amused to see the extreme care with which they lifted the first keg into place.

Across the beach, the rest of the team appeared to playing some kind of game. From what Jeb could see, it appeared to involve standing in front of a stick whilst someone threw a ball at you and then clouting the ball away as hard as you could using a wooden bat. Beyond that it was all vaguely confusing, although judging from the level of noise and general excitement, everyone seemed to be having fun.

“Ornie," he asked plaintively, “could you please tell me what on Kerbin they are doing down there?"

Ornie grinned. “Looks like Richlin is teaching them shepherdball," he said. “Or the simple version of it anyway."

Shepherdball?"

“Sure. Very popular on the Wakira coast. Me and Richlin used to spend a fair amount of time on the air show circuit around there and learning to play shepherdball was practically mandatory. A good hard packed runway makes a surprisingly good batting surface at a pinch." Ornie gazed reflectively at the players in the distance.“I never was much good at it myself but Richlin was a fair old spin bowler back in the day."

“You do realise that I don't have the slightest idea what you're talking about don't you?" said Jeb. Across the beach, he heard a distant thwack and a roar went up as the ball sailed high over the heads of the hapless kerbals attempting to catch it.

Beside him, Ornie launched into an enthusiastic lecture on the basics of shepherdball. By the time he reached the finer points of the different bowling styles, Jeb had a rather glazed expression on his face. “Anyway, spin, seam, swing - it's all about getting the ball to move around in mid-air. Quite a nice exercise in applied aerodynamics actually - I reckon Bill would get the idea pretty quickly!"

Jeb looked bemused. “Well once Bill's got the idea, you can both try explaining it all to me again," he said. Then he brightened up. “Anyway, forget aerodynamics - it's time for a quick exercise in pyrodynamics! Time to get the fire going before those shepherders, shepherds - what the Kerm do you call a shepherdball player anyway - get back here."

Ornie laughed. “Plenty of time yet," he said. “By my count they're only about half way through the second innings."

The driftwood was bone dry and presently Jeb had built up the fire into a cheerful roaring blaze. By the time the first shepherdball players started making their way up the beach, Ornie had raked out a bed of embers into the barbecue pit and was squatting by the grill, sauce bottle close at hand and intently watching the first few sizzling meatcakes as they started to brown. As he trickled a generous portion of sticky brown sauce over them, noses began to twitch all around the fire as the sweetly spicy aroma rose into the evening air. On the other side of the fire, Jeb was standing behind the kegs, cheerfully serving drinks and taking the occasional healthy swig from his own mug.

For a long while there was nothing to hear but the crackling of the fire, the sizzling of the coals under the barbecue and the contented sounds of hungry kerbals steadily working their way through Roncott, Lowise and Ornie's cooking. As everyone began to put their plates to one side, Jeb topped up everyone's drink and then turned to Bob with a grin.

“You weren't planning to just sit and look at that guitar all evening were you, Bobcat?"

Bob popped the last fragment of chargrilled mushroom into his mouth and stifled a belch. “Now that you mention it, Jeb," he said solemnly, “I have been working on a song or two for just such an occasion."

He rubbed his fingers in the sand to scrub off the grease and then picked up the guitar leaning against his seat. He strummed it briskly, head tipped to one side as he listened for any out of tune strings and then satisfied, climbed unsteadily to his feet. “My friends," he said, “I give you - the Ballad of the Kerbal 1."

Bob slowly began to pick out a familiar melody and as the conversations around the fire gradually petered out, he began to sing along;

“At first I was afraid. I was petrified...

Thought we would never make it back, if we let Jebediah drive."

There was a roar of laughter as Jeb leapt to his feet and sketched a bow.

“And so I spent oh so many nights, thinking what could all go wrong.

But I got onboard - and I brought parachutes along..."

The tempo of the music began to speed up. Everyone around the fire began to clap along in time as Bob's fingers danced over the strings.

“And now we're back! From the edge of space.

I rode shotgun on the launch with my friend Bill in the far left place.

We saw the Müun. We saw the stars.

And we even made it home without too many scars!"

By now Bob had one foot up on his seat as he enthusiastically strummed away.

“Oh yeah we're back. From the edge of space!

We soared across the sky - and you should have seen Jeb's face.

We saw the Mün. We saw the stars.

Even if the capsule seat, got imprinted on my..."

At that point, Bob's chair collapsed and he tumbled over onto the sand, guitar waving in the air. Jeb darted forward to help his friend and did his best to keep a straight face as he saw Geneney surreptitiously moving his foot back out of the way.

As kerbal after kerbal called out with requests for their favourite songs, Ornie was surprised to see Jeb looking rather misty eyed. "Are you OK there, Jeb?" he asked quietly.

"I'm fine, Ornie. Bob's song just brought it all back is all. Blame it on the beer." Jeb stared into the dwindling flames of the bonfire. "But yeah - that's pretty much what it was like. We climbed into that capsule, knowing that it was our last shot and hoping to Kerm that we hadn't forgotten anything vital." Jeb gave him a wry look. "Almost everyone had written off those 'crazy interplanetary characters' by then and we really were down to the bottom of the parts bin."

Ornie had the grace to look embarrassed but Jeb waved away his half formed apologies. "No need to apologise," he said gruffly, "You were far from the last - and we'd been called far worse by then anyway. Besides, even after the Kerbal 1, I'm not sure what we'd have done without you and Richlin on the team. We wouldn't be planning our fourth orbital flight, that's for certain." Jeb smiled grimly, "Fourth orbital flight... that'll be sticking in the craw of those fardling 'experts' at the Institute." He snorted. "Except that most of them will just be telling everyone how they knew it was a good idea all along."

Jeb looked down at his mug and shook his head. "Think I'm going to warn Jorfurt to stop serving this one at least an hour before closing time. Never known one of his brews to hit me like this." He winced as Bob tried for a top note and didn't quite make it. "Anyway, no need to eat that old soup again. What Genie said this afternoon back at the warehouse - I couldn't have put it better myself." Ornie glanced over at Jeb and saw the familiar determined look back on his face. "And I still havn't forgotten what I said to Genie about scouting for landing sites either. We're going to the Mün with the next flight, Ornie - but going there with probes is just the start!"

-------

With thanks to Jake for introducing me to shepherdball and Sir Nahme for letting me borrow his signature file for the Ballad of the Kerbal 1.

Edited by KSK

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I am loving this. :) You have give the characters great life and building the world. Keep it up!

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THAT WAS AMAZING!!!

The best part was the desription of Jeb:

And as for Jeb, he had never given up, despite all the difficulties, frustrations and exploded prototypes. He'd kept them going, with his permanent grin and irrepressible enthusiasm, even as the other members of the Kerbin Interplanetary Society had gradually drifted away.

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Very nice piece, good mood and some inspirational stuff. Good to see that even in the bad times things keep on truckin'. Oh, and since I just figured out the rep thing, have some.

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I like Jeb's managment style. Bill sings? Eh it works. :)

Added chapter to the ODT I've got on drive.Figure a bunch of other people are doing the same. I'm not doing any real grammar cleanup just... Hording for the moment.

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