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xtoro

Avalon : A mission to every planet and moon - Investigation Via EVA

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UPDATE : My story is on temporary hiatus since I was using a version of KSP that's several versions behind. I also took time off for real-life medical reasons. I'm currently getting the hang of 1.0.2 and looking at updating everything to 1.0.2, which means redesigning the entire Avalon so that the atmosphere reentries are doable.

UPDATE 2 : With drastic changes to 1.0.3 and then 1.0.4, I've decided to wait out a bit on rebuilding Avalon because I don't want to keep starting over. Right now I'm on the fence to either wait until changes have stabilized a bit, or just continue the story with the old version that I've used up to this point...

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IMPORTANT PLAYER NOTE: This thread is both a mission, and a story. I have 2 saves, the mission, and the storyline. I AM actually flying this entire mission to all the planets and moons, no cheats. I figured this might bring up something interesting if things go wrong. I use my second save game to fill in some storyline and make it more interesting. In my storyline, I do use hyperedit etc to make things line up. But I just wanted readers to know that the actual mission, is real, and I am playing it through. Thanks for reading!

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After crashing and exploding all over Kerbin and it's moons, KSP Mission Control has set forth a plan in place to conquer the solar system by setting foot on each planet and moon, and planting a flag. Of course, planting flags isn't the only reason. The main reason is science! The crew will travel to and collect science from every planet and moon.

Our ship is under construction and everything looks good.

The ship : The Avalon

Weight : 740 tons

Part count: 657

Crew: 7

Manned Landers: 3

Unmanned Landers: 1

Delta-V: ~6000

Main Engines: 6x NE-600 Nerva engines

Other Engines: 2x Advanced Liquid Fuel Boosters (jettisoned after Eve intercept)

Lander Engines: Lots of different ones, whatever was leftover from building the Avalon, we used.

Here's some blueprints of all the ship's parts (click for high res):

THE MOTHERSHIP:

This is the main propulsion section for the ship as well as the main command pod. Attached is the living quarters complete with centrifuge for artificial gravity on the long trip.

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The command module can separate and fly on it's own with it's 4 radial Nerva engines. Also seen in the blueprint below are the large grey tanks which will be jettisoned along with the large boosters to save weight and improve TWR.

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"ADAM", THE EVE LANDER:

This lander will only be used once and then disposed of. It is pictured here with a science kit on top of the lander can. This will be jettisoned on Eve's surface after the science is transferred to the pod. Above the science kit is a girder that is ditched in high orbit. It's only used for stability when docked to Avalon. The large tank and engine on the bottom is the descent stage. It's ditched in Eve's upper atmosphere on the way down.

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It has many many engines and tanks that will be left behind. Only the lander can with small engines and a bit of RCS will actually return to the Avalon.

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"DAWN" AND "DUSK", THE TWIN TYLO-CLASS LANDERS:

The Avalon will carry 2 of these. They can land and return from any planet or moon except Eve. Is is pictured here with a science kit mounted on top. Above that is a hub which will connect the 2 landers, the Eve lander, and spare science kits to the nose of the Avalon.

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Below you can get a better view of the Hub, science kit, upper stage and lower stage. The lower stage is lost when returning from Tylo's surface, which is why there are 2 landers. The last lander will complete all other landings after Tylo. It will also reposition itself to the front hub where the Eve lander originally was so that the Avalon remains balanced.

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THE MINER LANDER:

This unmanned lander will scan for Karbonite on moons. It will then land, mine, convert and return to the Avalon. This is how it will be able to refuel along the way. It has 3 large Karbonite tanks. One at the bottom, and 2 on top. The upper tank, or 2 tanks, can be left docked to the Avalon when mining on a moon with higher gravity. This way the miner has enough thrust to lift off with tanks full of Karbonite.

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THE SCIENCE KITS:

These guys are what's needed to collect science! Once you recover data from a goo cannister or science jr kit, it becomes unusable. So, the science gets transferred to a pod, and then the whole kit gets ditched. We got enough money in the budget, and, it's not like it's OUR planet that we're polluting right? Each lander will have one, and there will be 2 spares attached to the hub.

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Bob: Umm, I'm no math genius, but that's not enough kits to do every moon and planet....

Jeb: Yeah but mission control said they will have to send them out to Jool to meet us there, so no problem!

Bob: But why not just take them with us in the first place???

Jeb: They said something about part counts and the FPS suffering really badly

Bob: What do they mean by FPS?

Jeb: Umm, you know... Frequency.... Pulse.... Spectrum. Yeah, the Frequency Pulse Spectrum,you know, FPS. Surprised you didn't know that Bob. Guess you're not as good an astronaut as me!

Bob: Uh huh......

So anyways, yes, my solution was:

THE SCIENCE RESUPPLY SHIP:

2 of these unmanned ships will be sent to Jool's orbit. They carry with them some additional science kits. Part count was far too high to have them all on the original trip. This added to the fun anyways.

This is the same rocket, in different stages:

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The Crew:

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From left to right, Mission Commander Bob will lead the way, with his second in command, Jeb, and their engineer Bill.

There will also be 4 other guys, but whatever, they don't wear special suits so who cares... They will be cooking the food, cleaning the ship, doing dishes, etc etc etc....

Mission is a go, and ship parts are heading out of the VAB!

Let's get the Avalon off the ground!

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Edited by xtoro

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How on Kerbal is KSP going to get the 740 ton Avalon into space? Some have speculated that a strange mystical tool called "HyperEdit" will be used to accomplish this feat. I assure you, this is not the case. The Avalon and all of it's parts will indeed be launched in pieces and assembled in space. The largest and heaviest part, the mothership, is about to be sent up using my trusty 150 ton launch vehicle... Fingers crossed!

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Bill: Um, so how are we supposed to get up there? There's no tower!

Mission Control (MC): Don't worry, there's plenty of pipes and cables that you can use to climb your way up.

Bill: So, not even a ladder?

MC: Well, we kinda ran out of money when we built this, so it was either a ladder or the life support system. So we flipped a coin and you got the life support system.

Bill: Umm, ok.... Is this thing even going to get into orbit?

MC: We think so. The mothership itself has no fuel in it so it will be lighter, and we'll refuel it in orbit. We also did some extensive launch simulations using paper planes that kinda looked like this, and it looked very promising.

Bill: ........

Jeb: Well, I haven't had my lunch yet and I've got priorities... So, you know what? Let's send the trainees up there, and then we can go up there later and switch crews.

Bill: Yeah that sounds like a great idea!

MC: Fine.

MC over loudspeaker: ATTENTION ALL TRAINEES, WE REQUIRE A CREW OF 7 FOR THE LAUNCH OF THE AVALON MOTHERSHIP. PLEASE MAKE YOUR WAY TO THE LAUNCHPAD AND CLIMB YOUR WAY UP TO THE COMMAND MODULE AND WAIT FOR INSTRUCTION.

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Bob: Man, this thing is taller than the VAB! How did they build it in there?

Jeb: Save the stupid questions for the mission Bob!

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3 Hours later.... The crew of trainees finally made it to the command pod after making several stops along the way for rest and snacks.

And, 3 2 1 launch

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Bill: Wow, it's actually working! Look at it go!

Jeb: Meh, too slow for me, looks really boring....

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Look ma! No liquid engines!

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Solid rocket boosters gone.

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Dropped first stage of liquid engines

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Dropped second stage of liquid engines

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Last stage to get this thing into orbit

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Pretty!

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Orbit achieved, ditching last ascent stage and sending it back down to Kerbal.

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Not a perfect 75km orbit, but pretty damn close!

Now it was time for the real crew to prep for launch using a smaller ship to do a crew swap.

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Bob: Jeb!!! Where are you going??? We're about to launch!

Jeb: Go ahead without me, I'll meet you guys at the Avalon!

Bill: Now what is he doing?

Bob: Who knows... Ok, well, let's go then I guess.

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MC: Uhh, Jeb? Please get off of the rocket and go back to the lauchpad.

Jeb: No way! I spent months building this thing and now I can finally use it!

MC: Wait, are those parts from the refuelling ship?

Jeb: Um, noooooooo..... Ok gotta go!

MC: No wait! Jeb! SHUT OFF THAT ENGINE! YOU ARE NOT CLEARED FOR TAKEOFF! ABORT ABORT ABORT!

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Jeb: Whhoooaaaaa!! Note to self: More winglets for version 2.0!

MC: Shut down that rocket! NOW! That's an order!

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Jeb: I didn't install an "Off" button!

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Jeb: Holy mother of Kerbal!

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Jeb: HAHA! It works!

MC: .......

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And then, Jeb was gone.

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Mission control lost track of him as he flew out of sight approaching Mach 4. The rest of the crew launched to rendezvous with the Avalon. They docked, and when they opened the hatch, the first thing they saw was Jebediah's big grin waiting for them in Avalon.

Jeb: What took you guys so long? LOL

Bill: Uhg....

Bob: You better not pull something like that on our mission Jeb!

Jeb: Ah, it was fine! Made it here no problems! And what a ride it was!!

Trainee: Well, you're just lucky we saw you sir.

Bob: What do you mean Trainee?

Trainee: Well, we were just running our diagnostics when we saw Jeb floating this way and flashing his helmet lights at us. No rocket, just him in his suit floating towards us. We managed to use some RCS to intercept him, and then he bumped into us and climbed into the airlock. Lucky we moved the Avalon because Jeb had no RCS left in his pack and was going to just float past us.

Bob: Is that so? Well Jeb, looks like it was the perfect mission huh?

Jeb: Well, heheheheh.... Whatever, I'm here now. Let's do this crew swap and get ready for more parts to arrive.

The Avalon was assembled, piece by piece. But the rest was easy. By far the largest part was the mothership.

Here is the last piece, the Eve lander plus descent engine, approaching to dock.

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Meanwhile, Jeb is enjoying some gravity time inside the centrifuge living quarters, Hab #1. He gets the top bunk!

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The rest of the complete assembled Avalon along with all of it's parts as viewed in the VAB can be seen at the link below:

Spaceship Avalon ready to begin the Kerbal Grand Tour (Design)

o7,

XT

Edited by xtoro

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To the Mun and beyond!

Now the Avalon is fully fuelled and ready to go! First stop, the Mun.

Jeb: Alright let's go!

Bob: Now there's no point in wasting fuel to get the ship there and back, so just jump into Lander #1 and head to the Mun.

Jeb: Ok but one question. I know that I'm second in command and all, and I would be in command if something were to happen to you.... But I'm worried that you'll be ok and I'll never get to be in command!

Bob: Uh ok...

Jeb: So can I be Mission Commander until we get to Eve?

Bob: Ya whatever, sure.

Jeb: Can you make it official with Mission Control that I'm now the commander? It would look good on my resume.

Bob: Sure. (Keys the microphone) Mission Control this is Avalon. Let it be recorded that I'm placing Jebediah in charge and he is officially the Mission Commander until we arrive at Eve.

Mission Control: Uhh, are you sure?

Bob: Yes. Just do it. I'm the one who has to spend many years with him here....

Mission Control: Ok roger that. Jeb is the MC. Control out.

Jeb: YES! Thanks Bob! I'm off to the Mun now! I'll be right back with the science!

So to the Mun and back. Very uneventful. Jeb just wanted a good picture of himself on the Mun with the new landers...

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Jeb: Well that was fun! Ok so we're done with the Mun. Setting next maneuver and off to Eve!

Bob: Well wait hold on, what about.....

Jeb: Hey! You can't tell me what to do now, I AM the Mission Commander now remember?

Bob: Yes but

Jeb: No buts, I'm the boss, and I want to be the one to set the maneuver and fly this thing out of here!

Bob: You know...

Jeb: You know, you know, you know! What's with all the questioning? Do I have to report you to Control?

Bob: No. Ok, fine, lets go then. Hey Bill, you'll remember this conversation later right?

Bill: Hahaha, oh yeah....

One last check. Everything secured. RCS and reaction wheels working. Plenty of power and fuel. Inflatable habitats inflated. Centrifuge wheel spinning. Bobble head on my desk bobbling. Departure window approaching...

Nerva nuclear engines are online. Radiation and temperature readings are within limits. Lined up for maneuver node.

All hatches throughout the ship are closed. All crew is strapped in and ready to go.

One last check over emergency separation procedures.

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Nerva and booster engines fired at 3% thrust.

Structural integrity is good. No vibrations detected.

Navigation systems show that it's time to launch.And we're off to Eve!

Ramping up engines to 33% thrust.

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Structure in the green. Vibrations green. Fuel flow green. Electrical system green. Trajectory holding using only reaction wheels. RCS system switched to standby.

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Ramping up engines to 80% for remainder of burn.

Trajectory still in the green for Eve intercept.

Goodbye Kerbin. See you in a few years!

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Wow! Deep space! This is.... This is..... kinda boring actually.... And that spinning centrifuge in front of the command pod is gonna make me sick! Why is it in the front!?!?! WHO designed this??? Oh right....

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Bill: Jeb. I don't mean to criticize, but that peri is far too low! We're going to crash into the planet if we don't adjust!

Jeb looks at some scraps of paper.

Jeb: Oh right, forgot to carry the 1 haha! Classic Jeb...

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Aerobraking.

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Jeb: Ok so since we haven't established orbit yet and I'm technically still commander, I have one last order.

Bill: Here we go...

Bob: What is it?

Jeb: I hereby decree that I, Jebediah, will be the one to make all the landings on this mission, and that no future Mission Commanders can change this new rule.

Bob: Yeah. I don't even care anymore.

Bill whispers to Bob: Maybe something will go horribly wrong with a landing!

Pretty good orbit after the aerobraking.

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Time to deploy the miner and send it to Gilly. We just need a few trips to top up the Avalon after filling the Eve lander's tanks.

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Karbonite!

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Back to the Avalon for trip 1 of many

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And now. Time to take the Eve lander down to the surface! For the first time, a Kerbal will set foot on another planet! And yes, it will be Jeb. Of course....

Edited by xtoro

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Fear and Loathing in Lost Valour

The Avalon is fully refuelled thanks to the miner lander. Took many trips, but it gave the crew a chance to run full diagnostics on all the systems and fire up the Eve lander.

Bob: Alright, we've got a lock on the recon rover that KSC sent down for look for a high point on Eve. Our descent window is approaching so we've got to get Adam decoupled and ready for the retro burn. Jeb, you're up. Get in the Eve lander and prep for separation. Tell us when you get in the lander.

Jeb: Yeah, on my way.

Jeb makes his way out of the command pod, into the habitat section, and through the workshop towards the lander hub.

Bill: Is is just me or is Jeb being a little too quiet since we got into orbit?

Bob: Now that you mention it, my blood pressure is lower, and I don't have a headache, so you might be right. I'm sure he's just going over the procedures in his head. This is the most difficult landing of any that we're going to do.

Bill: But, Tylo... I thought that was our big challenge.

Bob: It's a close tie, but really, Tylo has no atmosphere to mess with your heading. What is Jeb doing? He should have called us by now...

Bob over intercom: Jeb, come in, it's Bob. Aren't you at the lander yet? It's not THAT far!

Bob: Jeb?

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Nothing but hissing and crackling coming over the intercom.

Bob: I've got nothing. Bill check the comms.

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Bill: Comms are working fine. I'm picking up his signal, he's just not responding...

Bob: I'm gonna go see what's going on, be right back.

Bob heads out the command pod towards the workshop.

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He spots Jeb just floating at the entrance to the lander hub. Not moving.

Bob: Jeb?

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Bob: Jeb are you ok? Bill, we might have a problem.

He launches himself off the hatch towards Jeb, a bit panicked.

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Bob: Jeb I'm coming over!

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Jeb: I'm fine.

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Bob: MAN! You scared me! I thought you were unconscious or something!

Jeb can't look Bob in the eyes...

Jeb: No I'm ok, I'm just... I don't know. I'm a little shaky and I'm breaking out in a sweat here... I'm pretty nervous about this landing...

Bob: Ok, well, did you want me to go?

Jeb: You know you can't, you're the Mission Commander, Bill can't, he's our Engineer... Everyone here has a specific purpose and is needed on this mission. Me, I'm like a backup for you. Expendable...

Bob: That's not true!

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Bob: You're my second in command, my right hand man. You have a whole crew working under you. There's so much going on in the next few years, I can't do it all. I need your help. And if something happens to me, you're in charge.

Jeb: Yeah, thanks to my dad. Guess it's not such a good thing having a bigwig at KSC for a father.

Bob: No Jeb, you can't think like that. YOU made it through the training, I've seen your scores, I've seen you perform...

Bill: Uh guys, the launch window is approaching here. We need to separate the lander in the next 15 minutes.

Bob: Roger. Ok Jeb, listen, you'll do fine. You did this dozens of times in the simulator. Just remember your training!

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Jeb: Yeah, remember my training.... That's the problem. I do remember my training...

Edited by xtoro

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Fall Seven Times, Stand up Eight.

One year before launch, at the KSC training center....

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Intercom: Alright Jeb, lets do this again. This is Eve landing simulation number.... 36.

Jeb: I know I know....

Intercom: You've had 21 successful landings, but you failed your last 4 in a row... Some notes from your previous attempts for you to remember. Don't overdo your corrections. Make small slow corrections or you'll start to spin out too much. Remember that this isn't like the Tylo-Class landers. Adam is very heavy and is hard to stop once you get into a spin, especially once you start entering the atmosphere. Be easy with the RCS thrusters. On the descent, they're running at 140% to compensate for the weight, and, as you know, can blow out easily, which you've done, many times....

Jeb: Got it.

Intercom: You better. If you blow out your RCS system, not only will you have trouble landing straight up, but you'll have lots of trouble staying upright when trying to ascend again.

Jeb: I know, I'll take it easy this time.

Intercom: Ok, put your helmet on and let's begin.

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Intercom: So far so good. You're 8 degrees off for atmospheric entry.

Jeb: I'm on it!

Intercom: No that's too much, turn off your RCS!

Intercom: Jeb, you're pitch is now 14 degrees off, you have to correct it, the atmosphere is starting to get denser!

Jeb: Turning the RCS back on

Intercom: Negative, use the reaction wheels and slowly bring yourself back!

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Jeb: I.... uh.... I can't.... gah!

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Intercom: You are too far gone now, use the RCS, crank the overdrive to 165% thrust!

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Jeb: Wha....? 165? I'm starting to spin! No no no!

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Intercom: Jeb! Relax! Jeb! Overdrive the thrusters!!!!

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Jeb: I.... uhhhhh.....um.... wait

Intercom: Your decouplers are failing... it's to late...

Jeb: No no, I can still.... Ahhhhhhhhhh!

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Jeb: AAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHRRRRRRGGGGG!!!!

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Everything went black and silent.

Computer Voice: Scenario failed. Simulation terminated. Have a nice day.

*Jeb panting*

Intercom: Ok Jeb.... *sigh*.... Come on out, take a 30 minute break. We'll reset the system and run number 37....

Jeb: ....... Uh, alright. Sorry...

Jeb leaves the simulator, devastated.

Jeb: Why can't I get this one right....

Edited by xtoro

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Eve, the long way down

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Bob: You ok Jeb?

Jeb: Yeah. I just can't stop thinking of all the times I crashed in the simulator...

Bob: I know you had lots of bad landings, but in the end, you were landing perfectly every time. And don't forget, the autopilot does most of the flying for you. You only interfere with the autopilot if it's not doing what it's supposed to be doing. The training was so that you could land by yourself if the autopilot completely failed...

Jeb: I know. I just need a minute here before I head out.

Matlorf: Bob and Jeb this is Matlorf. I'm getting some irregular readings on Jeb's life signs. Breathing has increased, body temperature, blood pressure and heart rate have increased.... everything ok?

Bob: Yeah he just had a little case of cold feet, should be ok, right Jeb?

Jeb: Yeah, like I said, just need a minute.

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Matlorf: Well, as the ship's Medical Officer, I can't let you launch in this condition. Jeb, meet me in Habitat #2 and I'll give you a little something to calm your nerves.

Bob: Is that such a good idea before flying?

Matlorf: Don't worry, it won't impair him at all.

Bob: Make it quick, we got a window fast approaching. Don't forget that you need to use one of the white spacesuits because of the radiation.

Jeb: I'll meet you there.

Jeb and Matlorf make their ways to the habitat.

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Jeb: So what is this stuff?

Matlorf: It's nothing bad, it's synthetic and will help you calm down. Here.

He injects Jeb with a syringe.

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Jeb: How long with this take to kick in?

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Matlorf: Literally seconds. You should make your way to the lander now. By the time you strap yourself in, you should feel better.

Jeb: Alright, thanks. I'm starting to feel better already actually.

Jeb heads back towards Adam and straps himself in. Matlorf heads back to the Command Pod.

Bob: So?

Matlorf: He said he feels better already

Jeb over the intercom: Alright guys, I'll be good to go in 2 minutes!

Bob: Wow, what did you give him?

Matlorf: Just a bit of saline solution. Normally used in an IV for someone who's dehydrated.

Bob: What? But he said he feels better...

Matlorf: Yep. Well, I wasn't going to give him something that could make him drowsy.... It was like a placebo pill.

Bob: Nice, good job Matty!

Jeb over intercom: Ok, Adam is fired up, all systems checked out, getting ready to decouple. I have the rover locked on.

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Bill: Separation looks good Jeb.

Jeb: Coasting out, RCS reverse thrusters....

As the Eve lander coasts away from the Avalon, Jeb feels good about his mission. He's certainly glad that the medic gave him that shot of medicine!

Jeb: Starting retro burn

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Bob: Remember Jeb, the autopilot knows what it's doing, you have to trust it. Check your angles and headings twice before interfering with it.

Jeb: Roger that. I'm ditching the girder segment.

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Jeb: Trajectory looks good.

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Jeb: (muttering) Angles headings angles heading angles headings....

Jeb's eyes are all over the place, trying to see everything at once. But he can't stop looking out the window at the view....

Jeb: Ok, hitting the atmosphere hard now, starting to burn up, everything's still cool!

Except for Jeb, who's a sweaty mess....

Bob: Jeb! Why haven't you dropped the descent stage yet?!?!?

Jeb: Ooooohhhh ooops! Dropping descent stage now!

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Bill: Comms blackout expected in 30 seconds. Should only last a minute or two...

Bob: Jeb, remember, DON'T pull the chutes too early! If you pull them too early, they'll tear! You MUST wait until you're below 400 m/s!

..............

Bob: Jeb? Jeb come in. Jeb??

Bill: Comms blackout in effect. He may have heard you though. Our comms array is much more powerful than the lander's.

Bob: So now we wait....

A minute passed by but it felt like hours. The entire crew was silent. The radio was cranked up to high volume, but only hisses and crackles came through. Bob wanted to start calling for Jeb, but he felt like he was starting to panic. The Commander can't panic in front of his crew, that's not the leadership he was taught. Then, a different kind of static started coming over the radio, louder, pops and vowels were heard, then

Jeb: Hello? Hello? Avalon this is Adam, do you read? I'm 2000m above ground, almost right on target, all chutes have deployed. Hello? Hello?

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Bob: Good to hear Jeb! How's your descent speed?

Jeb: Nothing I can't handle. Wow, the gravity is SO strong here! I feel so heavy!

Bob: Yeah well that's why over the last few months we've been slowly speeding up the centrifuge so that when you're in the habitat, you're getting used to the stronger gravity.

Jeb: Sneaky!

The lander touches down gracefully with the help of a 6 second burn from the aerospike engines. The landing gear suspension compresses hard from the weight and the extra gravity. Jeb hears the entire lander start creaking and groaning as it settles down into a stillness. Shutting down systems: Autopilot, guidance systems and navigation, reaction wheels, RCS thrusters... Cabin decompression begins.

Jeb: Ok, starting all the science experiments. I'm going to head out and take some samples.

Bob: Roger. Be careful on the ladder, it's a long way down and a fall will kill you. And don't forget to take a flag!

Jeb steps out and heads down the ladder.

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Jeb: Wow, it's so weird here! So.... purple! Ok, I'm taking samples and getting back in the ship. The gravity here is insane! Just standing is making me feel exhausted....

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Jeb: Flag planted. I'm transferring the science data to the lander and ditching the science kit

Jeb makes the long, LONG, slow climb all the way back up....

Jeb: Geez... we should have really installed an elevator on Adam!

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Jeb transfers all the data to the lander can. The science kit itself weight too much to carry back into orbit. With all the data transferred, Jeb doesn't need the kit anymore. He gets back in the pod and fires the eject button for the science kit

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Jeb: Alright, everything's done. Time for me to get out of here.

Bob: Roger. Sending down data for rendezvous and launch time.

Jeb: I hope the autopilot works fine because it's so hard to keep my arms up!

Bob: Don't worry, the descent was the hardest part. Double check your ascent data and prepare for liftoff.

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Jeb: No problem. Ascent data entered. Fuel is good and I have more than enough Delta-V to make orbit. Preparing to jettison parachute assemblies and landing gear on launch. Charges are set. Oh, wait a minute, where's my cell phone? There we go... Selfie! #jebisawesome

Bob: Glad you're feeling better Jeb.... 28 minutes to launch.

The comms module rings, a notification that a new message has arrived from KSC.

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Bill: Hey, new k-mail from KSC! Oh, wait... It's a priority 1 message addressed to you, and it's encrypted...

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Bob: Ah, ok. Guys, I'm going to have to ask you all to leave the command module for a few minute to read this.

Bill: What are you talking about? Have us leave?

Bob: Yes, this is for my eyes only, sorry.

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Bill: What are you talking about Bob? What's going on?

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Bob: Listen, we've been friends for a long long time, but you have to trust me on this.

Bill: Trust you? What's the big secret here?

Bob: Like I said, trust me. There's other things going on with this mission other than what's you've already been briefed on, and I can't give you that information right now....

Bill: Ok, well, thanks for that. Let's go guys....

The crew leaves the command pod. Bill hesitates before closing the door.

Bill: You know, we're all here risking our lives, and we're all separated from our families and friends for the next who-knows-how-many years.... We're family now...

He closes the hatch door, and Bob opens the message...

Edited by xtoro

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Just a quick note. I'm WAY ahead of myself here... My actually mission is far beyond the storyline, so I'm trying to catch up in the storyline and make it a little more interesting as I go along. I hope you're enjoying the interior shots! I'm spending a good deal of time building them, and I'm far from done. I'm also going with flashbacks to tell parts of the story because I find it gives me lots of flexibility in the storytelling.

Edited by xtoro

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Just a quick note. I'm WAY ahead of myself here... My actually mission is far beyond the storyline, so I'm trying to catch up in the storyline and make it a little more interesting as I go along. I hope you're enjoying the interior shots! I'm spending a good deal of time building them, and I'm far from done. I'm also going with flashbacks to tell parts of the story because I find it gives me lots of flexibility in the storytelling.

Absolutely loving this. I'm doing some long term planning for my own story, but I don't think the images will be anywhere near the quality of yours. Great pictures and great story.

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Thanks guys! I'm definitely getting a lot of good feedback on this! Sorry there wasn't much the last couple of days but, real life gets in the way sometimes. I'm working hard on future updates and the interior shots. I'm also planning my storyline updates to be a bit more in-depth with some better writing styles by using more narrative instead of drawing mostly from dialogue. I didn't originally plan for very much story telling but I've just been rolling with it and I've had so many ideas popping into my head. Glad you're enjoying, stay tuned for more!

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Hey readers, sorry it's been a while since I last added to this. I'm recovering from abdominal surgery and have a tough time sitting at my computer for long periods of time...

Anyways, on we go!

Down The Rabbit Hole

Bob was at home on a Sunday night relaxing and thinking of his upcoming mission. With 8 months to go until the launch date, that's all he could ever think about.

The phone rang. It was Admiral Samden Kerman, the Chief Military Advisor at KSC.

"Bob, I know it's Sunday, but I need you to come in and see me right away at the KSC Headquarters."

"Ok sure, can be there in 15 minutes Sir!" Nervousness in his voice for fear of what one of the big bosses needs to see him for. Is he fired? Is someone on his crew in trouble? He's never really met the Admiral before, and he's not sure what his involvement is in this mission, but he has seen him lurking around and having closed-door meetings with much of the staff.

"I've given you level 5 clearance to come to my office. Stop by the main reception desk at the entrance of HQ and they'll give you a new ID card. Then proceed to the maintenance sector in the basement, and follow the signs for the debris recycling room."

Debris recycling room? Why would his office be there? Who even goes down there?

He grabs a few things and heads out the door. The whole trip there has him nervous. Bob doesn't like the unknown. Sure enough, there is a pass waiting for him at the main reception desk. "Look at that, a shiny new pass, and this one's green! I never knew they made green ones...."

He wanders down to the maintenance sector and finds a sign pointing him towards Debris Recycling". He heads around a few corners following the signs. Most of the doors down here aren't labelled, and some are strange things that shouldn't be in a headquarters building... Animal Medic? Bicycle Repair Shop? Finally he ends up in what he assumes is the rear corner of the HQ building. Sure enough, a door marked "Debris Recycling".

The door is not locked. He knocks and walks in. There's an old man sitting at a table full of junk using a laptop. The rest of the room is just more tables of junk. It's dark, dusty and dirty. Looking closer, Bob realizes that these are all parts from rockets that have fallen from the sky, either from used up rocket stages or failed launches. Burned, cracked, torn, twisted, shattered, crushed... You name it, there was a part like it in that room.

"Oh hello there! Can I help you?" The man says. "Uhhh, hi, actually, I think I'm lost, sorry." Bob turns to walk back out the door.

"No wait, who are you looking for sonny?"

Bob's not sure if he should say, he doesn't like looking stupid. "Umm, Admiral Samden?"

The man stands up and gives Bob a serious look. "I don't suppose you have an ID card on you do ya?" Bob shows him the card, and the old man starts punching things into the computer. "Come in and close the door please".

Bob steps into the room, the door closes, and a mechanical locking sound comes from the door. The old man hands Bob back his ID card. Just as Bob takes the card back, the wall at the back of the room, which is full of parts hanging from hooks, starts to open, revealing a brand-new looking hatch with a keypad next to it.

"Well don't just stand there sonny, I'm sure the Admiral's waiting for you!" He punches some numbers into the keypad and swipes a card hanging around his neck from a lanyard. The doors slide apart with a hissing sound "In you go! Oh, and don't mind Billy-Bobmund..."

Bob hesitates for a second. What is this? This can't be real... "...Thanks...." He walks through the door. It's just a tiny room, there's nowhere to go.... Just as he turns around to talk to the old man, "hissssss" the doors close. He feels a drop. "It's an elevator!" Bob hears the wirring sound of the elevator speeding up and getting higher pitched as it's dropping down the elevator shaft. It goes faster and faster. "Man, how far down am I going?". After about 15 seconds, he feels himself starting to slow down and the elevator noise gets deeper, and slower. "Hisssssssss" The doors open. And he steps out.

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"Okaaaayyyyyy....."

There's a long corridor ahead of him. He can barely make out a door at the other end with a red light next to it. Then a voice comes over an intercom "Please make your way through the corridor, and stay in the middle. Do NOT go near the walls." Then the light next to the door turns green. So, he does as he's told by the man...

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As he's walking, Bob can hear all kinds of noises through the walls of the corridor. Mechanical noises, clanging, electric motors spinning, loud whooshing sounds that rumble low enough that he can feel it in his feet.

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"Man, Bill and Jeb won't believe this...."

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The door opens.

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He walks in and the door closes behind him. He's in a small room with a glass wall. The only other door has one of those red lights next to it. There's a man peering at him from a desk on the other side.

Bob: "Uh, hello. I'm here to see Admiral Samden, he called me and...."

The man cuts him off speaking through an intercom. "Place your identification and any personal belongings in the drawer under the window."

Bob complies. He feels sweat starting to bead on his forehead... He pulls the drawer open, empties all his pockets and puts everything in the drawer, with his ID on top.

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The man behind the glass walks up to the drawer and pulls it towards him. He slides a lock which implies Bob can't get access on his side anymore. He takes the ID out and swipes it on a machine sitting on the desk and then comes back over the intercom: "Please stand still and don't speak."

Bob hears beeping and clicking and wirring from the equipment in the small room with him, and then hears a synthetic computer voice "Please standby for scanning". Beeps, clicks, wrrrrrr, pop, buzzzzzzzzzz "Scanning complete, no devices or toxins found".

"Well that's good!" Bob jokes. The man stares blankly, presses a button, and red lights go green.

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"Step through the door on your right please."

He walks through, and hears the door lock behind him.

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"Now what??"

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Again, another small room, but, there's no door.... "Hello? Where am I supposed to go?"

He starts hearing hydraulic actuators working.

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The thick blast doors come to a stop.

"Oh."

The security guard walks over and points to a door while holding Bob's ID card out towards him. Bob is starting to get annoyed with this guy... He takes his card back and walks into the door.

He walks into what looks like an office, sort of. Like the rest of the place, the walls, floor and ceiling are steel. The office is bare, with nothing but an air circulation vent in one corner, a lamp in the other, and a steel desk with a computer on it right in the middle. The Admiral is sitting at his desk working on his computer. There is one single chair in front of his desk. He must not get many visitors. He looks up and notices Bob.

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"Captain Bob Kerman! Come on in, take a seat!" Bob's never seen him be friendly with anyone, which is making his anxiety worse.

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"Hello Admiral, nice to finally meet you!"

"Same here. Hey, I hope Billy-Bobmund didn't give you a hard time."

"No no, he's, uuhh, nice."

The Admiral laughs. "I have some things to discuss with you about this mission. Things you may need to know, just in case you have an... encounter."

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Bob laughs "Hahaha, ya an encounter, like some purple alien hahaha"

Bob realizes that the Admiral isn't laughing, and his laugh slowly fades " HAHA ha..... ha.... heheh... heh....hrrm" *cough cough*

"There are things I'm about to tell you that you cannot tell to anyone, including your crew. SHOULD you have an encounter, you may then brief your crew on what I'm about to tell you."

He goes on to explain, kind of vaguely and without going into detail, about how we need to establish ourselves on all the planets and moons within our solar system. We need to get to those planets, and plant flags to claim them as being owned by planet Kerbin and all Kerbal-kind. He spoke about some other race that we might encounter. A race that our people, albeit very few of our people, have known about for quite some time. He didn't explain where they came from, or what kind of people, or creatures, they are. But they're highly intelligent, and they're looking to establish themselves, somewhere, somewhere close to Kerbin. But nobody knows where.

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Bob sat silently. Listening. Trying to believe what he was hearing. Trying to not let his thoughts make up the details that he was missing...

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The Admiral was obviously telling Bob more than he should, and Bob could tell that the Admiral was trying hard not to give away certain details. They discussed at length specific procedures that Bob was to go through if specific events occurred. Procedures that didn't make sense to Bob.

"You're going to have special access to files and messages on board the Avalon's computer systems that will have information for you. Much of it will be locked and inaccessible even for you, unless we see it necessary. We will then be able to transmit commands to the Avalon which will unlock what you need."

Hours went by. Bob didn't even know what time it was anymore because the security guard had his watch, and there's no windows in this subterranean office complex. They discussed mission objectives at length, and plan B, and C, all the way to Z, for every scenario. This stuff was NOT in the training that his entire crew got....

"So, any questions?" Bob just stared blankly, trying to think of SOMETHING to ask. I mean, come on, such fragmented information, surely there's ONE question! Nope. Blank. The only thing that pops into his head is the noises he heard in that long corridor.

"Well, I need to process all of this.... But, on my way here, in that long corridor, I heard all kinds of strange noises through the walls... What's going on this far underground? Are we building down here or something?"

"That's irrelevant at this point Bob. Like the mission, there are just some things you'll never know..."

REALLY??? Bob thinks to himself.... Throughout all of that, THAT was the question that came up???

"Don't worry Bob, you'll be getting more information the closer we get to launch date. But, I'm afraid there are some things that you'll have to go without until the time comes. IF the time comes."

They say goodbye, and on the way out, the Admiral reminds Bob to keep his mouth shut.

Bob stands outside the office door. His brain hurts. He walks towards the security guard, and the exit, and notices a large hatch door on the wall. That door would lead alongside the long corridor, where all the loud noises were...

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"Hey what's in that door?"

"That's classified above your security level."

Bob smirks "What are you talking about? I have the highest clearance, look, level 5 green card" He shows his ID card again.

"That's nice, but when you have a Level 7 purple card, then you get to know what's through that door."

Bob's smirk disappears. "Oh...."

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Level 7? There's a level 7 clearance? Bob was sure that level 5 was the top of the top. But now, he wonders, what else doesn't he know about... What is he getting into...

"Please step back the way you came and collect your belongings through the drawer. You may then proceed back to Debris Recycling".

"Right, well, thanks"

He goes back the way he came. The corridor, the elevator. The old man in Debris Recycling was gone, but a different old man was sitting at the same table. He glances at Bob, gives and nod and then turns back to continue tinkering on his laptop.

He gets home, stands in his entrance for a minute before making his way to the kitchen. He grabs a beer, and sits at his dining room table, in the dark. He takes a sip....

"Huh...."

Edited by xtoro

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Is another update coming soon?

Yes it is. I apologise but real life stuff got in the way. As I've mentioned previously I'm recovering from major surgery and I've had a few complications so my game time has been limited, but I'm still active on the forums via my cell phone. Fear not, there is much much more story to tell and many more planets and moons to visit :)

xt

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Ascent into Madness

Bob comes up over the Avalon's intercom "All crew return to the command module for Adam's launch"

Everyone pops back into the CM. Bill and Bob gives each other a bit of a look and then look away. Bill is obviously still a little upset about the secrets that Bob has, but now is not the time for squabbles. Jeb needs to return to the Avalon safely.

Bob turns to Wilbur "We need a backup plan in case things go wrong and Jeb can't quite make it. Go prep the Dawn lander for launch in case we need to perform a rescue."

Wilbur's face goes blank "But, I'm not that good at rendezvous! I'm just a technician, I'm just here to repair things, I'm not supposed" Bob cuts him off "RELAX Wilbur! If something goes wrong, I'll be the one piloting Dawn. Just go prep it for me."

Bill turns to Bob "There's only room for one person in Dawn..."

"Yes, but we COULD cram two of us if I had to, it just won't be comfortable. But really, there's no need. As long as Jeb's fine, he can hold onto the ladder outside the pod and I'll bring him back."

The Avalon makes its way around Eve, and the Adam lander is ready to launch and rendezvous.

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Jeb comes up over the comms "Autopilot is set, all systems are ready to go."

Bill is checking over Adam's systems remotely and gives Bob the thumbs up.

Bob: "Alright Jeb, just let the autopilot do its thing. And remember, you need to abort if things go wrong and redeploy the chutes, so arm them now."

Jeb realizes that he configured the staging to drop the chutes right away on take off to save weight. "Uh, ok, will do! Reaction wheels online, and, 5,4,3,2,1, Lift off!"

The engines all fire up. All 9 aerospikes are rumbling and shaking Adam violently as it slowly starts to ascend. And seconds later, a loud BANG that rattles Jeb around in his seat. He places his hand over the abort button and has a look out the window. "Oh good, it was just the landing legs and chutes decoupling... That was louder than I thought it was gonna be!"

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Adam starts picking up speed. The 2 large reaction wheels are working well enough that the RCS system isn't needed. This make Jeb feel better about the rendezvous with Avalon because he tends to overuse the thrusters.

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"28 meters per second and accelerating..."

The first set of aerospikes are dropped and Jeb feels the lack of acceleration from the missing engines. But it's slowly regained as the first axillary tanks are empties and dropped.

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Stage after stage of the outer tanks are expended, and the smaller Rockomax 48's take over. TWR is still enough to gain speed and things look good.

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"I'm at 22 KM's up, all is green, about to drop the last LV engine..."

Bill and Bob are both sitting silent. Bill is staring at his console monitoring Adam's systems and trajectory. Bob is leaning over to see what Bill is looking at. Sweat is forming on his brow. He knows the Adam lander was completely theoretical, and its completion was rushed to fit with the Avalon's launch date.

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Jeb: "Plenty of Delta V left, looks good so far!"

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"Last stage ready to drop. Rendezvous looks good!"

The last 2 tanks pop off with a slight ping. A big relief to Jeb, knowing that there's not much left to get back to the Avalon, and the hardest parts are over.

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"Getting ready to burn circularization maneuver. Over 2000 meters per second Delta V left."

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Bob sinks back into his seat. "Thank Kod...."

Bill sighs "Ok... Circularization complete at 100KM. Still have almost 1200 Delta V remaining. Coasting to rendezvous."

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Rendezvous is completed and Jeb navigates the tiny pod slowly towards the Avalon Command Module. He collects his soil sample and the hard drives containing all the experimental data from Eve, and then heads out the hatch. He drifts towards the CM and stores the experiments in the special storage compartments of the Avalon.

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He then makes his way towards the front of the ship and enters the depressurized Dusk lander to use it as an airlock. Dusk is repressurized and he gets back into Avalon, heading for the Command Module.

Meanwhle, Bill is remotely controlling the Adam pod's RCS system to push it away from the Avalon.

Jeb pops into the CM "I'm baaaaack!"

Bob starts clapping "Awesome job Jeb! I knew you could do it! Kerbals have now stepped foot on another planet!" The rest of the crew joins Bob in applause.

Jeb is all smiles "Well thanks guys. It was the best experience ever! I mean, the Mun and Minmus were really starting to get boring ya know?"

Bob tries to get things serious again "Alright alright guys, so yes. This was a huge step for us, and Jeb, you should feel proud to know that you're the first, and so far, the only Kerbal to set foot on another planet. But we have so much more to do."

Bill starts typing on his console "Yes, and I've already plotted a course to head back to Gilly, and I'll start right now plotting a course from Gilly to...." Bob cuts him off "Jool".

The entire crew shouts all at once "WHAT?!?!?!?!?"

Bill's face turns light-green "JOOL!?!?!? That's not that plan! Why are we going to Jool???"

Bob: "Because, that's where we need to go next." Bob says in an authoritative voice.

Bill: "But that's not what we have planned! We have fuelling points at certain moons! The entire trip is laid out in the most effective manner! Why are we skipping to Jool? Are we not going to Moho anymore? Or Duna? Or Dres?"

Bob: "Listen guys, yes, we are still going to hit every body in our system, but, I have strict orders, and we're going to Jool after Gilly."

Bill: "Does this have something to do with that secret message you got?"

Bob: "Maybe. You don't need to know right now!"

Bill: "YES! I DO! I need to plot our courses and make sure we can get to where we're trying to go! I need to make sure the Avalon can get us there! I need to know WHY I need to rework my plans!"

Bob: "Look, I promise you, you will be briefed when we get there, but I have orders, and now I've given YOU orders. So please, plot us a course from Gilly to Jool.

Bill: "Fine, but if ANYTHING goes wrong on this mission because of our changed plans, don't even think of blaming it on me!"

Bob: "I wouldn't Bill. Now, lets get prepped for the trip to Gilly. We'll also need to refuel when we get there. Jeb, you're on crew rest for the next 12 hours so you can go relax for now until we launch for Gilly."

Jeb along with the night crew head back to the accommodations to get some rest. Jeb is exhausted from the high gravity of Eve and falls asleep as soon as his head hits the pillow.

Bill starts punching in numbers into his console for a Gilly-Jool trip.

Bob sits in his chair staring out the cockpit window, and thinking of the conversation he had so long ago with Admiral Samden. And far off in the distance, he spots a dim green light and gets a knot in his stomach...

Edited by xtoro

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Change of Plans

The course for Gilly has been set. Bob wakes the crew via the intercom so they can make their way to the Command Module for the transfer burn.

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Bill heads over to Jeb's room to talk.

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"Oh hey Jeb, glad I caught you before heading out. I got something to talk to you about."

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"Hey Bill, ya I just got dressed. Slept like a baby! What's up?"

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Bill takes a quick peek up the ladder to make sure nobody's there. "Well, I'm just wondering... Do you know anything about this mission that the rest of us don't know about?"

"Huh? What are you talking about?" Jeb looks puzzled...

"I mean, a secret mission or something. There's something going on that Bob's not telling us about, and since you're second in command, I figured maybe you know something. He received a secret encrypted message from KSC but he won't tell me what it was. And now, after we visit Gilly, we're going to Jool instead of Moho!"

Jeb gets a little upset...

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"What? No, he never told me anything about secret messages or secret missions! Why wouldn't he tell any of us? And why is KSC keeping things from us about the mission?"

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"I don't know Jeb. But there are some strange things going on over at KSC. I mean, the things I worked on when we designed Avalon were really really advanced. I had never seen anything like it before. Don't you find it strange that all of a sudden, KSC had these new nuclear engines that can take us all around the whole solar system?"

"Yeah, well, I figured they had been working on them for a long time in secret or something..."

"No Jeb. I helped them get these engines working properly for Avalon. But it seemed that nobody really knew how they were suppose to work."

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"What are you saying Bill?"

"I don't know, it doesn't matter. All I want to be sure about is that if you know something that I don't, you'd tell me, right?"

"Well yeah, why wouldn't I?"

"Well, you know Bob and I don't see eye to eye about a lot of things, and I'm pretty sure he's going to keep me in the dark. Anyways, let's get back to the CM, we're about to burn to Gilly."

Everyone is strapped in their seats and ready to go.

Bill goes through his checklist and gives the thumbs up. "Ready to go, 20 seconds to burn....."

"7, 6, 5" Jeb suddenly realized that he left an opened bottle of Koka Kola sitting on his desk.... "Damnit!" "1, ignition!"

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Avalon burns towards Gilly for a landing and refuelling mission.

Bill: "Liquid Fuel Booster Rockets are almost empty. Standby for decoupling. The mounts on these things are huge so it's gonna be a big bang!"

The ship rattles like it's in an earthquake and a loud explosion is heard like there's a thundercloud inside the ship.

Bill: "Boosters away."

The Avalon gracefully glides forward as the rockets lose acceleration and drift back into the darkness of space.

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Bob checks over the ship's flight data. "Ok, we're running solely on nuclear engines now, but that's ok. We don't have the huge Adam lander to tug around anymore."

Bill checks fuel levels. "Right, and our Auxiliary fuel tanks are now empty as well. Going to jettison them now. This'll save us even more weight. Wow, what a cleverly designed ship" He smirks to himself...

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"Auxiliary tanks away." The crew immediately feels the ship accelerate faster with the lost weight. A short time later, engines are cut, and the Avalon coasts towards Gilly. The crew preps the Dawn lander for descent to Gilly, and diagnostics are run on the mining ship to refuel.

"Burning retrograde for Gilly capture!" Bob says

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Bob: "Alright, Joemal, deploy the mining rig and start the refuelling trips. Jeb, get into Dawn and head on down. This should be an easy one with such low gravity."

"Roger!"

"Roger!"

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The mining rig slowly pulls away on manual controls until it's clear from Avalon. From there it will follow an automatic program to land, mine, convert, and return to Avalon to refuel her. It takes several trips.

Jeb jumps into Dawn and begins his descent

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Jeb comes on over the radio comms "Burning retro and heading down..."

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Due to the low gravity of Gilly, it seems to take forever to fall down to the surface. "This is crazy easy!" Jeb says over the comms

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"I don't seem to be landing on flat ground here but it shouldn't be a problem"

Dawn touches down so lightly that Jeb hardly feels it and has to look out the window to make sure he actually landed. "Ok, touchdown. Deploying the ladder and heading out for samples and to plant a flag..."

He fires up the science kit to start collecting data and opens the hatch. He steps out and doesn't bother using the ladder. He just jumps forward slightly and floats down. "This reminds me of Minmus! But only better!" He gets down and plays around for a bit, jumping and walking on his fingertips. After a bit of horseplay and throwing rocks into space, he collects some rocks and soil and heads back into Dawn.

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"Hey, I can see Eve from here! Looks like a shiny purple marble!"

His rendezvous window approaches and he lifts off. So little fuel is needed he figures he could have just used RCS to get into orbit! He joins back up with Avalon and docks. This was such an easy mission, he almost wants to do it again!

Joemal: "Alright, the mining rig is about to dock and we'll have full tanks. There's still going to be plenty of Karbonite left in the mining rig as well, so we have extra fuel."

"Perfect!" Bob replies. "Bill, are we ready for the Jool burn?"

"Yeah, it's probably not the most efficient... We'l need to aerobrake on Eve again and then make adjustments, and go from there. We have more than enough fuel to get there, but I suggest we head straight for Vall to refuel again."

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"Ok, sounds like a plan. Punch it in and let's get going. It's gonna be a long haul."

Jeb makes his way back into the CM after transferring the experiments to Avalon's storage. Everyone is back in their seats and the course is set.

The engines spool up.

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Bob: "Goodbye Gilly. We might need to see you again in the future...."

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The ships re-enters Eve's atmosphere.

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The aerobraking was too much and resulted in a capture. Bill didn't take into account the extra weight from the full Karbonite tanks. The crew scrambles to quickly create a new maneuver that will get them on their way.

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They burn at the node, but it's not enough to fight the gravity. So they fire up the mining rig's engines as well for more thrust. And then, they're on their way.

Bob pants "That was... almost a total disaster!"

Bill nods in wide eyed agreeance "Ya... my bad! Didn't ever plan on flying with a full Karbonite tank....."

"That's ok, we're on our way now."

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"Listen Bob, there's something going on with our deep space scanners. I've been running scans of Jool, you know, to plot our course and look for any possible problems. And... Well, some of the scanning abilities seem to be disabled... I can't scan for electromagnetic signatures, or radar, or photon pulse signatures, or, well, almost everything is disabled..."

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"Well Bill, that's something else that, well, that I can't"

"You can't talk about, right, yes, don't worry, I'm seeing the pattern here.... So we're just going to head over there blindly then?"

"No no, I'm actually going for crew rest and I'll be on the next shift. I'll do some scanning then. Don't worry, we have lots of time before we get there. LOTS and lots of time."

"Ok fine" Bill says as he shuts down his console. "I'll just sit here, look out the window, and count the stars. Am I allowed to do that?"

"Ok. Trust me on this ok? I'll tell you everything soon enough. Well, maybe, that is, if we find... Just trust me."

Bob floats out of the CM along with the rest of the off-shift crew for the first of many long nights adrift in space.

Edited by xtoro

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Research and Developments

5 years before the launch of Avalon

Bill is working in his office at KSC's Rocket Propulsion Laboratory when he receives a k-mail from Colonel Samden.

Good Morning Bill,

I'm writing you to let you know that effective immediately, you have been recruited for a special project. I've already informed your direct supervisor and you are to drop everything right now.

Please make your way to the main reception desk in the headquarters building to pick up your new ID pass. Afterwards, make your way down to the basement level to Debris Recycling.

Oh, and tell no one what you're doing, or that you've received a k-mail from me. I'll be waiting for you in my office.

SK

Bill thinks to himself 'Debris Recycling???'

He's heard a rumour that there was this military man that showed up a few months ago, but Bill hadn't seen him personally. He wonders, can this guy really order him onto another project? As he stands up, Bill's supervisor steps into his office doorway. "Hey Bill, I take it you read the k-mail? I'll make sure to have all your personal belongings packed up for you to pick up."

Ok, it must be legit then he thinks.

He heads out to pick up his pass and makes his way to the basement. Find the Debris Recycling room, is asked for ID from the man in the room, and is shown the way, down the elevator, and across the long hallway. The door at the end of the hallway is unlocked. He walks in.

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"What.... what is all this?" He spots the Colonel sitting at a desk across this strange empty room.

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And walks over.

The Colonel looks up. "Ah Bill! Here have a seat."

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"First of all, I've heard a lot about you and I've read your file. You're one of our best engineers, if not THE best."

"Well, thank you Sir. Can I ask what's going on?"

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"First off, as you know, I'm Colonel Samden. I'm the new Chief Military Advisor here at KSC."

"Yes, I've heard, well, rumours about you, but I don't know what you're doing working here. Why does KSC need a military advisor?"

"Because, we have some special projects. Some, secret projects, that we can't entrust to most civilians. So we have a sector of military here, all with top secret security clearances, and we recruit those from the civilian sector that we feel we need the most for our projects."

Bill thinks they're here to build weapons. Why else would the military be here? "So, what kind of projects are we talking about?"

"Well we have many. I can't divulge them all, but, I need you on one of them. I'm sure you're aware of Project Avalon?"

"Oh yeah. That mission to build a mothership that will take us around the solar system to all the planets" Bill laughs "I can't imagine how big THAT rocket would have to be!"

The Colonel squints his eyes. "Yes, well, that's part of the reason why you're here. We need you to work on the engines that would take the ship around our system."

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Bill was wondering if that's what this was about. He is after all, an engineer... "What? When I heard about the project, I thought it wasn't doable. I saw requirements for the ship, and how big it will be. So I started crunching numbers, and even if we COULD build a rocket big enough to go around the whole solar system, if would be too big to get into space! And, the fuel... Do you realize how much fuel it would take to RUN that rocket?"

"Yes, well, that's where our new engine comes in."

Bill is puzzled. "New engine? What new engine? We haven't designed any engine big enough to do the task."

"Well," The Colonel sighs... "we already have an engine that we need to finish."

"We? Who? What engine?"

The Colonel stands up. "Come with me Bill, and I'll show you."

They walk back across the room to a hatch in the wall. Through the hatch is a long hallway with several doors on the sides. They walk down past a few and then stop at one of them.

"Now Bill, do you really want to be a part of this? You do realize that you'll never be able to tell anyone about this right?"

Bill thinks for a second. What could be so secretive? Do I really need to make a big decision here? I just want to see what he's talking about! "Right, I'm on board Colonel."

They step through the door into a large dark room.

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The Colonel closes the door behind them. "Welcome to your new laboratory. I'll show you what we found, and what your new project is going to be. Let me hit the lights..."

He walks away, and then a clicking noise. The room lights up.

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"What is THAT!?!?"

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"This is going to be our new engines that will propel the Avalon to ALL the planets!"

Bill is frozen. Staring at this giant engine. But, it looks broken and very damaged. There's pieces of mounts, parts of a hull, hoses sticking out, scorch marks... It look like it got ripped out of a ship, or fell off. Kerbin designs tend to have parts fall off... But he doesn't recognize any of the parts. NOTHING looks familiar, and Bill's been involved in space rocketry for decades...

Bill finally speaks up "So.... so. This is what? I mean, I know it's an engine, but, what kind? Who built it?"

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"Come on over here!" The Colonel shouts. "It's not gonna bite! Have a look around!"

Bill walks up the ramp and starts walking very slowly around the engine.

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He checks out every part he sees. That looks structural... some kind of venting system... that's a wiring harness for, something... that's a piece of hull... some shielding... a gimbal mount...

"Ok Colonel. I've never seen anything like this and nothing looks familiar. Who built this?"

"Well, that's not important, to you. What IS important is that we need to get this engine working again."

"GET IT WORKING??? I have no idea what I'm looking at! I don't know where to start...."

The Colonel sits on the edge of the platform next to Bill. "Well. For starters, we know that it's nuclear powered, but it still has fuel lines."

Now Bill is really in disbelief. "Nuclear powered? How can this be nuclear powered!?!? We only discovered radiation and the theory, the possibility of nuclear powered energy last year!"

"Yes. This is leaps and bounds beyond what we can do. But, we have been able to detect some radiation coming from inside the engine. My technicians took a few panels apart to see if they could figure out how it works and have a look inside, but some of the panels were shielding the radiation. Our detectors went off the charts when we opened some of them up. So we closed it all back up again and decided to recruit an expert engineer. You."

Who could possibly design such an advanced engine. KSC is the world leader is space travel and science. As far as Bill knew, there were no other agencies in the world that could do this.

"Ok Colonel, so you won't tell me who built it, but can you tell me where you got it from? It's obviously from a damaged ship. One that didn't manage to take off maybe?"

"No Bill, I can't tell you that either. But I can tell you that we found it in the mountains just to the west of here."

"Well what else did you find?"

"I can't tell you that either Bill. I've told you what I can tell you. From here on out, you're the man. My technicians are at your disposal and you are the project leader, and you report directly to me and only me. You start tomorrow. We need to get this thing working again."

Bill is on the fence. He's really excited to work on this new technology, but at the same time, all this secrecy scares him and he want to quit and go back to his old job.

"Ok. I'll start first thing tomorrow morning Sir. I'm sure we can figure this thing out eventually. We just need to be careful."

"Yes, and one more thing. Once you get it working, I need you to copy it and build 5 more just like it."

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Great read

Thanks! I'm really trying to catch up to the actual gameplay but I'm trying to not rush the storyline at the same time.

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Redirected Resupply

It's been a few days since the crew of the Avalon left Eve's orbit on their way towards Jool. KSC's Mission Control is expecting a message from Bob.

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The shift on duty is minimum manning, and consists of specialists with high security clearances. The room is locked down. Admiral Samden is present, sitting next to Flight Director Jared.

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Jared is focused on his screen. He's contstantly reviewing data from his Flight Controllers, and the Avalon's data feed. "So, Admiral Samden... According to our ground-based sensor arrays, the signal has faded significantly and is hardly trackable.. Do you think the Avalon will be able pick anything up from their location?"

The Admiral takes a breath and exhales. "Well, they do have much less interference to deal with because they're not trying to scan out through an atmosphere like we are. But they're much closer to the sun than we are. Once they pass outwards by Kerbin's orbit, they still have to pass Duna's orbit on their way to Jool. That's a long way to go, and their instruments aren't as powerful as the ones we have here."

"So basically you're saying you don't know."

"Basically yes. I'm sorry Jared but at this point we're all making this up as we go along."

The computer screens all start flashing and beeping. Brodmund, the communications engineer yells out "Incoming transmission from Avalon! Good signal, good sync. Decrypting... Coming up on the main screen now." Bob's video stream comes up.

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Jared throws on his headset. "Thanks Brodmund! Alfrod! Turn that other screen off now!"

"Good Day KSC! Mission Commander Bob here. As you know, we're 4 days out from Eve. All systems are operational. Fuel levels are more than enough to get us there, and life support systems are running at 100%. Supplies are still above our estimated requirements, for now.

We have 18 days until we estimate our Jool intercept and perform our first course correction.

Our first objective is to establish orbit around Vall and begin a refuelling mission. The mining lander is working very well. All mining and fuel conversion systems are reporting 100% functionality. After the Vall refuelling mission we will go on EVA to inspect the drills, and replace them if needed. We will also do a complete EVA inspection of the Avalon's hull and engines.

As for "Operation Stake", I think I've upset our Chief Engineer, Bill. He's well aware of the incoming messages, and all the locked out systems of the Avalon. He does not like being kept in the dark, especially about his ship's systems.

Regardless, I've continued working on my orders and procedures. I've had no results from my scans of the Jool system other than what I think to be a few false readings, which I think were radio waves coming from Kerbin, and background radiation. We're just too far away right now. I've also taken several scans of Moho, Eve and Gilly. Negative results on all accounts.

I will continue to run scans on each shift. As we swing by closest to Duna, I'll run scans of it, and Ike.

We've collected much data and samples from Eve and Gilly. We currently have only one science kit left which we will use on Vall. We're hoping to meet up with the resupply ships around Jool.

End of report.

I await my next orders.

Bob Kerman out.

Jared takes his heaset off. "Looks like they're not having any better luck than we are so far. But I'm hopeful that once they get closer, they'll find it."

"How is the resupply mission going?" The Admiral asks.

"Well, as you know, we've been able to redirect the resupply ship that was orbiting Moho to head for Jool. Since the Avalon did a bit of back-and-forth between Eve and Gilly, and they had to refuel twice, the resupply ship Lancer 1 should meet up with them about the same time."

The Admiral is pleased with Jared's confidence and ability to go with the flow and adapt to changing situations. "Good. And now that we have confirmation that they aren't aborting the Jool transfer, we can send out Lancer 2 as well correct?"

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"Yes, Lancer 2 is on the launchpad now, and ready to go. We are still within the window of a Jool transfer. Lets get this off the ground before it's too late!"

All the Flight Controllers start talking to each other all at the same time, typing furiously at their keyboards. Jared puts his headset back on. "And here... We... Go."

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No countdown is heard. The rocket just takes off. No rumbling is heard or felt, unlike the launches for the pieces of the Avalon that went up into orbit. The Lancer 2 is nothing compared to the size of those rockets...

The booster quickly fall from the sides of the rocket.

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The Lancer gains altitude and speed quickly. It's light and sleek.

The first stage is dropped.

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The rocket continues to soar and gain even more speed. And then, engines cut. The rocket coasts up through the atmosphere to its apoapsis. Once out of the atmosphere, the fairings separate to reveal the payload.

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8 shiny new science kits. The course is set for a burn to intercept Jool.

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And she burns.

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The second stage is exhausted, and jettisoned. The final stage is one of Bill's inventions which he created with the help of an engine that Samden showed him years ago; The nuclear engine. It fires up and finishes the maneuver burn. Then falls silent.

The solar panels slowly deploy and rotate to face the sun. Lancer slowly rotates, pitches and yaws with shorts RCS bursts so that it's side faces the sun, and both panels get full sunlight. Then it sits still, and goes into sleep mode.

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The Mission Control room is full of cheers. Another successful launch. And the redirected mission will still carry on.

Edited by xtoro

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Here, take some of my free reputation :wink:

Thanks! Much appreciated!

I'd also like to take this time to say that I've been working hard on what's coming up in the storyline and it's taking some time because...

... it involves a custom craft that I'm working on and editing to be a big part of the story.

More of the story will be posted this week and I plan to do quite a bit this weekend.

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Thanks! Much appreciated!

I'd also like to take this time to say that I've been working hard on what's coming up in the storyline and it's taking some time because...

... it involves a custom craft that I'm working on and editing to be a big part of the story.

More of the story will be posted this week and I plan to do quite a bit this weekend.

Good luck with that craft! Looking forward to it!

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Hello Jool!

The journey from Eve to Jool is a long one. But it gives the crew plenty of time to do inspections and tests on all of the equipment. Bill, being the ship's engineer, is especially busy and spends a lot of time on EVA doing physical inspections of the hull and components. His top priorities are the comms...

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RCS and Vernier engines

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The main engines, and the Hyper Ring

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The Hyper Ring is an important part of the ship. Inside, are powerful electromagnets which spin at high speeds around the ring. This creates a protective field around Avalon to guard against most micrometeorites, as well as protects the Avalon during aerobraking manoeuvres in atmospheres. Without the field in place, the Avalon would suffer from strong atmospheric stresses which could tear it apart and cause it to burn up. So far, it's working as it should.

Bob has been spending most of his waking hours in the command module running scans of Jool and it's moons. He's picked up mostly random background noise, but he has been able to detect a few things. Unfortunately, the readings are too weak to pinpoint exactly where it's coming from. The closer the Avalon gets to Jool, the more chances he has to find what he's looking for...

Confirmation has been received that Lancer 1, the first science resupply ship, is in orbit around Vall, waiting for the Avalon to arrive. The entire crew is obsessed with looking at Jool, and they spend lots of time just looking out the window at it the closer they get. It is absolutely MASSIVE. And its gas clouds are interesting to see with the naked eye, swirling and spinning around the giant like seeing fuel floating on a puddle. And such a pretty green colour! Green is of course, every Kerbal's favourite colour!

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Bob comes in over the intercom "Guys, time to strap in. We're going to be entering the atmosphere in 15 minutes."

The crew straps in, getting ready to dip down into the giant's hazy atmosphere. Bill activates a safety for the engines which will prevent them from firing in the atmosphere. It also closes louvers to keep any atmospheric gasses out of the engine housings. There's theory that below the upper atmosphere, there could be flammable gasses. The fact that the Avalon will heat up and burn a little is enough risk to begin with, and they don't need an engine blowing up at this point. He retracts the comms dishes and fires up the Hyper Ring to 100% power. Eve was the first aerobraking manoeuvre, but it was high up in the atmosphere. With Jool, they need to drop down 80KM's below Jool's upper atmosphere to slow down enough for them to sling over to Vall. Nerves.

Avalon dips down into the atmosphere, and the G forces push the crew back into their seats.

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Bill is happy so far. The deceleration is spot on. Hull temperatures rising, but well below limits. "Looking good, we may come out heading straight for Vall."

Atmospheric analysis is being done as they zip through the gasses. The G forces subside, and the Avalon glides back out of the clouds. Bill turns off the safety for the engines and opens the louvers. A slight adjustment and the Avalon is heading to Vall.

Bob takes off his helmet. "I can see the Lancer 1's beacon on our scanner. I'm going to try to connect with it to begin rendezvous procedures. Bob, can you plot a manoeuvre so that we're as close to the Lancer as possible when we get into orbit?"

"No problem. I've been practising this part on the simulation since we left Eve."

A few small adjustments are made. The Avalon pulls up beside Vall and slows itself down, achieving orbit. Lancer 1 is exactly where Bob intended, and rendezvous takes place minutes later.

Bob starts sending commands to the Lancer, initiating its automated resupply routines. Meanwhile, Joemal is scanning Vall's surface for Karbonite and preparing the mining lander for deployment. Jeb heads out to the Dawn lander to prepare for his descent.

The Lancer approaches Avalon. While automated, the crew is still able to override the Lancer in case something goes wrong. Bill is monitoring everything the Lancer is doing, with his hands on the controls, ready to make corrections. The Lancer docks perfectly.

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Checks are made that all the docking ports are holding, and the Lancer is sent a command to continue with the next phase. Lancer undocks, leaving 2 science kits attached to Avalon's hub. It repositions itself around to the other side of the hub, and docks again.

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Bill takes his hands off of the controls. "Well, that actually went perfectly. Lets just hope that Lancer 2 works just as well! Ok, I'm sending it away now."

The resupply ship undocks, leaving the last 2 science kits attached to the hub, and floats away. Once it has some distance away from Avalon, it fires its engines retrograde, and falls down to the surface of Vall. It has done its job well.

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"Guys, you know the drill. Lets fuel up and plant a flag on this rock!" Bob exclaims.

Bill is still curious as to what awaits. Obviously it has nothing to do with Vall. Otherwise, Bob wouldn't be in such a hurry to refuel and get out of here.

The mining lander undocks and heads down to a large deposit of Karbonite for drilling, and many trips, once again.

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"Bob, Jeb here. I'm done prepping Dawn and she's ready to go anytime."

"Ok Jeb, the mining rig is down, you're clear to undock anytime. This should be a cakewalk. Don't forget, you need a new science kit before you head down."

"Roger that, undocking in 2 minutes...."

Jeb undocks Dawn, pulls away, and pitches it hard to get the small lander to start spinning. With his hand over the decoupling button, he times it, and BAM, the science kit decouple and gets thrown out into space.

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Bob come on over the radio "JEB! ARE YOU CRAZY!?!!??!"

"Was that cool or what?" Jeb says with a laugh

"NO, it was NOT cool! You could have launched it towards the Avalon!"

"Relax Bob. What do you think I've been doing in the simulator lately? I've got it down to a science!"

Jeb can picture Bob shaking his head "Go plant a flag..."

Jeb moves Dawn around to dock to a new science kit. Takes it, and heads down to the surface.

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"Ok, touchdown! I'm on the surface. It's very dusty... But the view here is amazing!"

Jeb runs the science kit and head out to collect soil samples. The gravity is stronger than Gilly, but still very low. Enough to still have fun jumping around a bit before climbing back up on the lander and admiring the view.

Jool, Laythe, and Tylo in the sky.

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Rendezvous window approaches. Jeb transfers all the scientific data from the kit into the lander, and then takes off to redock with the Avalon

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Bob plans to continue the order of moons set out in the original plan. "Next stop is Tylo Bill."

"Tylo it is. Planning the burn...." Bill starts punching data into the ship's navigation system. Meanwhile, Jeb arrives back at the Avalon. Again, he performs a spin-and-decouple manoeuvre to ditch the used up science kit.

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And then docks. Thankfully, Bob wasn't paying attention. He's too busy looking over Bill's data. The mining rig docks for the last time. Everything is fuelled up and ready to carry on.

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"Looks good Bill. Once Jeb is back in his seat we can start turning to point us in the right direction."

Jeb returns and starts talking about Vall to the rest of the guys while the Avalon rotates and waits for the burn time to arrive. Bob's not really listening. He's worried that he won't be able to find what he's looking for. And maybe the ship's scanner need some tweaking. This means he may need to let Bill in on what's going on, and what he's looking for...

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The Avalon's engines fire up, propelling them towards Tylo. Jeb is nervous. He has the same pit in his stomach that he did when he was going to Eve. Tylo is harsh. Its high gravity and lack of atmosphere makes it difficult to land on. Even worse, if he wastes too much fuel landing, he won't be able to get back into orbit.

The engines cut out. Avalon floats away from Vall. The crew resume their shift work schedule until the Tylo intercept.

Edited by xtoro

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