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'Kontakt' - A KSP Novel


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Chapter 1

UTPKA Territory.

'Phoenix' shuttle on the pad at KSC, with its 'Odyssey' core booster and 'Artemis' side boosters.


Year 1, Day 123, 03:08 PM GMT.

As he turned the tuner on the radio, static crackled across the speakers.

"... I need a hero, I need a hero 'til the end of the flight..."

"... Fly me to the Mun and..."

"... When the sky falls, and the stars rise..."

"... In other news, we sadly mourn the death of Deswin Kerman, one of the best Kerbonauts in the KSA. He died today during an in-flight accident during the circularisation burn of STS-3. A pipe, which was directing fuel into the main engines of the Artemis-I booster, became clogged, and the buildup of fuels burst the pipe. The hypergolic fuel mixed with the oxidizer, and the entire craft exploded in a shower of flames. Streaks of flames were seen in the sky as the debris re-entered the atmosphere..."

Deswin Kerman casually switched off the radio. He spoke into his helmet mic: "CAPCOM, I'm astonished. I can't believe they fell for the flares, over."

"Copy that, Des. Transfer burn T-minus 1 minute 30 seconds, over."

Deswin clumsily removed his clunky suit gloves, before skillfully maneuvering the shuttle to line up with the maneuver node on the black-and-green navball.

"Maneuver node aligned. Burn in T-minus 1 minute and counting, over."

"Copy that, Control is watching your every move. Or, at least, the portion of it that knows..."

The capsule communicator didn't even need to finish his sentence. Deswin understood what he meant. His fingers rested on the throttle.

"T-minus 30 seconds."

"T-minus 20"

"10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2..."

Deswin rammed the throttle forward, and the shuttle accelerated with a jolt of power. He had his eyes tuned on the fuel balance, and his other finger on the 'Stage' button.

The fuel ran down rapidly.

"Cutoff T-minus 40"



"15, 14,13..."

The fuel in the 1st stage depleted, and Deswin flicked the 'Stage' switch. The 6 Thrustmax 200 engines roared to life, giving another half a G of acceleration.

"11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1..."

He carefully nudged the throttle lever backwards as the seconds ticked down. The map in his cockpit's LCD screen displayed his current trajectory, on an encounter with the Mun. He couldn't help but smile a sly smile, with the knowledge that he was only one in a handful of people who knew the Artemis Program's true goal.

The 'Artemis' core booster separation during the transfer burn:


Day 124, 01:23 AM GMT.

"You're approaching the node for orbital injection, T-minus 3 minutes, over."

"Copy that, CAPCOM. Pre-burn check complete, all systems nominal. However, somebody forgot to pack the sunscreen, over."

Chuckles over the radio.

"No, I'm serious. The guys back at R&D can't afford visors on the EVA suits, so we have to cover ourselves in sunscreen and wear a pair of those huge, blocky sunglasses that a dentist puts on you before they shine a giant light in your face."

More chuckles.

02:50 AM GMT.

The heads-up display showed a small object, highlighted in green, approaching the shuttle at 23 metres per second.

"Capricorn Station approaching, close approach T-minus 50 seconds," chimed mission control.

"I've got my hand on the throttle, ready for velocity match, over."

The gap between the 'Phoenix' and the station grew smaller and smaller, as indicated by the heads-up display.

1.5 kilometres.

1 kilometre.

0.8 kilometres.

Deswin nudged the throttle lever forward slightly. The relative speed on the HUD grew smaller.

"Close approach T-minus 20"

20 metres per second.

15 metres per second.

10 metres per second.

"T-minus 15."

5 metres per second.

"10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1..."

0 metres per second.


The shuttle, approaching the station after ditching the 2nd stage:


03:00 AM GMT.

The docking ports inched closer. Deswin watched eagerly from the LCD screen, displaying the docking port's camera. He fiddled with the docking joystick as he attempted the align the Latch-o-matic ports with each other. As the distance grew closer, the magnetic clamps kicked in, doing the rest of the work for him. The two ships floated gracefully towards each other, and the clamps safely secured themselves around the shuttle.

"Phew," sighed Deswin, switching off the LCDs and opening up the hatch with a pull of the latch.

"That was tense."

Gene Kerman at mission control smiled carelessly to himself in his office chair.

"Good," he said.

"Phase one is complete."

The 'Phoenix' docking and docked:



Author's note:

Please give me your thoughts! I would love to see the feedback these stories get; I have a much bigger project (and I mean HUGE) ready to come this way if you guys enjoy 'Kontakt'.

If you think anything is bad, or needs to be changed, say so. I want the truth, even if it hurts.

        Kind regards,





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Chapter 1-B

'CSE-1'on the pad at KSC:


Year 1, Day 129, 07:09AM GMT.

Gene hurried over to the Mission Control building on the KSC campus. His glasses were fogged up from the sudden temperature change as he exited his car, a 1969 Kord Buick. He wiped the sweat off his brow with a handkerchief, and swung open the great big doors to the control centre. Rows of smart-looking men and women in crisp, clean, white overcoats, with three Bic pens sticking out of their right breast pockets were seated behind large, blocky computers from 1993. He rushed over to Walt Kerman, the head of Public Relations, who was standing in front of one of the monitors.

"What's our cover story this time?" he demanded. "A lander and fuel tank, to be delivered to Capricorn Munar Orbital Station and Research outpost," replied Walt. "You mean to tell me that we told the public the truth?!" "No, sir. We told them exactly what I told you. The mission objective is still a secret. And they believe us, 'cause the KSSR have already stranded two kerbonauts on the Mun during failed attempts at landing. And they couldn't be half assed to get them themselves, so now we have a 500 thousand Kerbucks contract on our doorstep." "Launch T-minus 2 minutes," boomed a voice over the PA system. "Good," growled Gene. "Because if the secret got out, you would be out of much more than a job." He walked off towards his office. Walt gave him a grim look.

The Mission Control Centre, KSC, Kafrica province, UTPKA:


Gene watched the launch from his personal computer, a HD flatscreen TV hooked up to a 1 terabyte hard drive with 16 gigabytes of RAM. The rocket, a direct-ascent style lander with a large fuel tank, mounted atop an 'Odyssey' core booster with 'Artemis' side boosters, was belching clouds of steam from various pipes and arms which were connected to the fuel tanks. The umbilical clamp fed cryogenic fuel into the tanks continuously, so that the fuel didn't 'boiloff.' "T-minus 1 minute," announced the launch controller. "Umbilical detach," called another controller. The umbilical clamp, along with all the other pipes, slowly disconnected from the body of the rocket, and swung away. "Power transfer is complete. We're on internal power with the launch vehicle at this time." "T-minus 30 seconds and counting." "All the second-stage tanks now pressurised." "T-minus 15 seconds, guidance is internal."

The rocket engines spewed out globules of fire and smoke as they throttled up. "12, 11, 10, 9, ignition sequence starts, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, zero." "All engines running." The launch clamps separated, and the rocket blasted off into the sky. "Lift-off! We have a lift-off!" The trail of fire flared out as the rocket climbed. "5 kilometres. 6 kilometres. 7 kilometres..." The plumes of orange, yellow, and red trailed high and mighty behind the huge engines. 'Wow.' Gene still couldn't handle the sense of wonder and awe as each rocket lifted off the pad. Each of those engines nozzles were bigger than him!

"10 kilometres. First booster pair SEP."

The two 'Twin-boar' asparagus-staged boosters violently separated from the main fuselages, the SpaceY 'triple-packed radial SRB decouplers' giving them a boost as they burned through their solid propellant.

The first pair separating:


"15 kilometres. Begin gravity turn. 20 kilometres. 30 kilometres. 35 kilometres. MECO!"

The fuel pipes that were feeding two 'Artemis' side boosters that were left, along with the 'Odyssey' core booster, quickly cut the crossfeed, and the engines ceased to produce thrust.

"Coasting to circularisation burn. Node in T-minus 1 minute 30 seconds. Deploy solar panels."

The doors of service bay of the direct-ascent lander swung open, and the KSO 'Standard, Solar Panel Array' extended, replenishing the electricity banks of the 'OTKO' probe core.

"Node T-minus 1 minute and counting. Prepare for engine ignition."

"Roll program complete."

"T-minus 30 seconds."


"10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1..."


The engines of the 'CSE-1' roared to life.

"Cutoff T-minus 1 minute and counting."

"50 seconds. Second booster pair SEP."

The second pair separated identically to the first, and the decoupler's force gave the rocket a small boost.

"30 seconds."


"10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.."


Day 130, 09:56 PM GMT.

"Velocity match complete."

Gene was in his dressing down, sitting up in his bed, quietly sipping a cup of coffee, watching live feed from mission control on his kPad. His glasses were leaning preposterously on the edge of his bedside locker, which meant that he had to lean in real close to be able to see what was going on. His eyesight had been deteriorating ever since he had joined the KSA. All those hours as a young, cocky, ignorant mission controller, spent looking at the tiny screens on the outdated monitors that were the only things KSC had been able to afford back then, had taken their toll. Back then, the runway was a muddy track, the launchpad was a concrete slab, and Mission Control was a shed with lampposts welded to the ceiling.

"Activating RCS."

"Full upward thrust."

"Roll 35.8 degrees clockwise."

"Pitch 4 degrees up."

"Yaw 18.65 degrees starboard."

"Pitch 0.56 degrees down."

"Pitch 0.4 degrees up."

"Roll 6.8 degrees anticlockwise."

"Cut upward thrust."

"Full reverse."

"Cut reverse thrust. Yaw 6.78 degrees port."

"Pitch 180.1 degrees up."

"Full forward thrust."

"Magnetic lock confirmed."

"Connection in 4, 3, 2, 1..."


The fuel tank docked to 'Capricorn':


10:04 PM GMT.

"... 6, 5, 4, 3..."

"Magnetic clamps locked."

"2, 1..."

"Connection confirmed!"

The lander docked to the other docking port:


But, unbeknownst to all the Kerbals at both Mission Control, and on the 'Capricorn' Station, another Kerbal, Geofbo Kerman, was stowed away in the 'Mk 1-2 Command Pod' of the direct-ascent lander...

Behind the scenes:


Those of you with a forensic eye may have noticed that on the previous station, another spacecraft, something that looked a bit like the picture below, docked to the docking port which the lander is now docked to. Well, it was getting in the way, and was useless since I now have the 'Phoenix' shuttle, with a much higher crew capacity, docked. So, since the ship had a probe core, I de-orbited it, and it crashed into the Mun in a ball of flame and smoke.

The ship in question:


(Just pretend the transfer stage doesn't exist)




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Chapter 2

The lander undocking:


Year 1, Day 132, 11:01 AM GMT.

Deswin carefully aligned the ship with the retrograde marker on the navball. He was approaching the target sight fast.

"400m/s. 300m/s. 200."

"T-minus 10 seconds to decceleration burn," boomed mission control over the speakers in the cockpit.

"7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1..."

He rammed the throttle lever forward. The lander violently shook as the 'Poodle' engine blew clouds of dust up from the surface, surrounding the lander in a veil of grey.


11:05 AM GMT.

Deswin cautiously descended down the rungs of the ladder, being careful so as to not graze his EVA suit. He could see the glistening of some silver metal in the distance, and set off towards it.

The object was disc-like in shape, with a small, dome-shaped bulge protruding from the top. Or it could be the bottom. Deswin wasn't sure. The ticks from the geiger counter in his suit grew in intensity as he approached it.

"Deswin, this is CAPCOM, you're getting over 6 rads per second, over."

"Copy that, CAPCOM."

He removed a flag from his kit pack, and planted it in the surface. It would broadcast a beacon for KSC to hear in case of an emergency. The shiny metal reflected the sunlight into his face, blinding him temporarily. A small box was attached to his EVA suit's RCS pack. He removed it, and attached it to the surface of the object. Tiny, magnetic clamps secured the box in place, and the top opened, revealing millions of Kerbucks worth of advanced scientific equipment.

"CAPCOM, this is Deswin here, there are no markings on the unidentified object. Repeat, the object is unmarked, over."

"Copy that."

He touched the surface of the object. It was perfectly smooth, definitely not natural. It didn't even have scorch marks, and there was no visible component that resembled an engine.

"CAPCOM, I'm returning to the lander, the Monitor has begun scanning the object, over."

He used his RCS pack to fly back to the lander.

11:09 GMT.

"Des, this is CAPCOM, you've got a 20 kilogram drop in weight, over."

"Huh. That's strange. Must be a technical glitch, over."

"Agreed. Continue with ascent."

Deswin carefully nudged the throttle forward, and the lander took off in a cloud of smoke and fire. But, little did he know, he was minus one stowaway.

Geofbo Kerman carefully maneuvered with his RCS pack as he approached the object. He noted that a small flag was planted next to it, and that it had no visible entrance hatches. He cautiously landed, and approached the dome-shaped bulge in it's surface. He took off his Outback ESP, an extra pressurised backpack, filled with supplies such as EVA fuel, and snacks. He removed a crowbar and industrial drill from a side pocket, and climbed up to the top of the bulge.

He dug the drill into the dome, and turned it on.  Within minutes, he had created a hole, big enough to shove the crowbar into, that lead to the interior of the strange object. He attempted to pry it open, but the crowbar snapped in half almost instantly. He sighed. It was going to take a long time to drill a hole big enough to fit into.

Deswin standing beside 'the Object.'


11:21 GMT.

Geofbo wriggled through the tiny hole he had drilled in the dome himself, and entered the object. He marvelled at how the interior strongly resembled the interior of a conventional spacecraft. The navball, though using different colours, was situated in the centre, and a seat was bolted to the floor. A joystick was positioned in between a large console and the seat. There was a large, oblong-shaped helmet suspended from the ceiling, and a small LCD screen above the navball. He activated his helmet mic.

"Control, I have entered the object. The interior resembles that of a regular spacecraft, and the exterior seems to be made of some extremely strong substance. It is stronger than titanium. There is no visible engine. The capitalists have already been here, but I can't see what they did with the object, over"


"Oh." He had forgotten that he was speaking to the KSSR mission control centre, and not KSC. He repeated what he had said in Russian.

"Your mission is complete," came the reply, in a heavy Russian accent.

"Copy that."

Geofbo fiddled with his tongue, looking for the cyanide pill implanted in one of his teeth. He found it, and cracked it open. His mouth started to foam.

He died almost instantly.


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Chapter 2-B.

UTPKA territory.

Year 1, Day 133, 05:99 PM GMT.

Gene Kerman hurried down the corridor of the Hexagon, the military headquarters of the UTPKA. The corridor was bland, with grey walls, a grey ceiling, and a grey floor. The walls were lined with office doors, each marked with a sign saying things like 'FIB,' and 'KIA.' The corridor seemed endless. He glanced at his watch. It was five fifty-nine. The meeting started at six. He cursed, and continued down the hallway. At last, the corridor came to an end, with two large security doors, with a card reader and a fingerprint scanner built into the doorknob. Gene fumbled with the VIP pass slung around his neck, and slid it across the reader. He pressed his thumb up against the scanner, and the doors opened with a hiss, revealing the Military Council Room of the United Tectonic Plates of Kan Andreas.

On the wall, an enormous plasma-screen TV was embedded into the concrete. In the middle of the room stood a large, circular table, with a ringed light system suspended above the dozens of chairs, in which various military brass sat, all adorned in their flamboyant epauletted uniforms. The President of the UTPKA sat facing the door, with his Vice President, military, and scientific advisors seated to his left. A general, who was standing in front of the plasma screen, was fiddling with a telescopic pole which he had in his hand. He turned to face Gene. "Ah, Gene, my old friend, welcome. Please take a seat." Gene did as he was told. These military-types never liked to repeat themselves.

"Good," continued the general. "The council is now in session."


The screen changed to display a bird's eye view of the Mun's south pole.

"As you all know, on Year 1, Day 98, a strange object was photographed by Munsat-1, one of our research satellites. Munsat was launched before the Capricorn was even conceived, and, at the time, no one knew what this object was."
The screen zoomed in on a small patch in the corner, displaying a strange object, reflecting the sunlight into the camera lens.

"This was not a natural rock formation. It is too reflective. It is not an enemy spacecraft. Our agents in the KSSR have proved that. It is not a camera glitch. In fact, we took not one, not two, but three pictures of the object. Each of them has the object in their viewpoint, and it is always as bright as a star. Sadly, Munsat-1 was plagued by technical failure shortly after this, and we could not photograph the object on the next pass.

"We decided to investigate further. We launched Capricorn station, under the guise of a research station. Then we launched Artemis-1, the shuttle on which Deswin Kerman supposedly died. He did not. He continued to journey to Capricorn, and successfully docked to the station on Day 124, 03:00 AM GMT. Then, we launched CSE-1, a lander and fuel tank, and it successfully docked on Day 130, 10:04 PM GMT.

"Deswin then descended, and landed within 200 metres of the object. He planted a flag in the surface, and the 'Observer' prototype on the exterior of the object. The 'Observer' is a tiny box, no bigger than a cereal box, packed full of the most advanced scientific instruments known to Kerb. They include, but are not limited to, geiger counters, sample collectors, mystery goo canisters, infrared, ultraviolet, and conventional cameras, and a tiny drill. At 05:09 AM this morning, the drill penetrated the exterior, and found this."

The screen changed, and displayed the body of a Kerbonaut, lying, dead, in what resembled a pilot's seat.

"The interior resembles that of Test Project #23, an aircraft that is experimenting with neural interfaces. So far, Kerbal trials have yielded sub-optimal results."

The screen changed again, showing an image of a Kerbal, blood streaking from his mouth, eyes, and ears, with a strange-looking helmet on his head. He was surrounded by paramedics, who were fiddling with some complicated looking box. It then returned to the body of the Kerbal in the object.

"This Kerbonaut, who was later identified as Geofbo Kerman, snuck onto CSE-1 in the early hours of the morning, and stayed there until the lander landed, where he exited stealthily, and waited until Deswin departed, where he drilled a hole in the side of the object, and broadcasted his findings to the KSSR. We know, because we intercepted this with our latest spy satellite, the 'Fall-out.'"

An audio clip played from the stereo speakers built into the screen.

"...entered the object. The interior resembles that of a regular spacecraft, and the exterior seems to be made of some extremely strong substance. It is stronger than titanium. There is no visible engine. The capitalists have already been here, but I can't see what they..."

"This audio clip later proved the fact that Geofbo is a KSSR agent. However, the 'Observer' conducted some scans, and revealed something that not even we knew about. There is a similar object located in Kerbin's north pole."

The screen changed, and everybody gasped. It displayed an image of the same strange object, buried under metres of snow, taken from a bird's eye view.

"This image was taken by a drone test flight back during the War. It was the only image we have of it."

KSSR Territory. 

Day 134, 05:57 PM GMT.

'Zaldam-1' on the pad at 'Nyerpa' Cosmodrome.


"T-minus 1 minute to launch. All personnel clear the launch area. Repeat, all personnel clear the launch area."

"T-minus 30 seconds. Ignition sequence start. All tanks now pressurised."

"T-minus 15 seconds. Power transfer complete, umbilical detach."

"10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, all engines running, 3, 2, launch clamps release..."


The Electron-K rocket blasted off the pad in a cloud of dust, smoke, and flame, as it ascended slowly towards the heavens.

"5 kilometres. Cutoff T-minus 1 minute and counting."

"7 kilometres, 8 kilometres, 9 kilometres, 10 kilometres..."


The first stage separated explosively, boosted by the 'Separatron' rockets, and the second stage ignited.

"15 kilometres."

"20 kilometres."

"25 kilometres."

"30 kilometres. MECO!"

After an uneventful launch, the KSSR successfully placed their first space station into orbit of Kerbin.

Meet Zaldam-1:


Day 135, 09:13 AM GMT.

Kalin carefully maneuvered the Soyuz to line up with the docking port of the Zaldam. She rammed the RCS throttle forward, and the ship forcefully connected to the docking port.

"Magnetic lock confirmed. Please be more careful next time, Kalin. That thing you just rammed in to cost 700,000 Kerbucks."

"Copy that, control."

She tugged on the gloves of her EVA suit, and secured her helmet. As she entered the airlock, she waved to Bill, who was sitting in the orbital module. He waved back.

09:17 AM GMT.

Kalin carefully secured the last panel into place, slotting the bolts into their sockets.

"Ground control, this is Soyuz-1, pleased to inform you that Zaldam station is now fully operational."

Cheering and applause was heard from mission control.

"Bill, I'd like you do do the honours and extend the solar panels."

"Copy that, Kal. Doing it now, over."

The panel violently extended, quicker than Kalin had anticipated. The edge of the panel slammed into her EVA suit, and sent her spiralling away from the station. She tried to use RCS, but the controls were unresponsive. She soon realised why.

"Ground control, I'm venting EVA propellant into space, RCS controls are unresponsive. I have no control over my current trajectory, repeat, I have no control over my current trajectory."

She watched in horror as the station grew further and further away.

"Bill!" she screamed.

        To be continued...




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Chapter 3.

UTPKA Territory.

Year 1, Day 135, 05:03 AM GMT.

The 'Angel' on the runway at KSC:


Alnie Kerman carefully strapped herself into the seat in the cockpit of the SR-71 spyplane. Originally designed to "monitor" enemy countries, it was discovered to be capable of cruising at over Mach 3. And so, it became the most used aircraft of the UTPKA Air Force.

"Angel-1, this is Control, you are clear for take-off. Maintain radio silence until you have arrived at the target destination, over and out."

She was about to respond, but realized just in time that she wasn't supposed to talk to anyone on the two-hour long journey. She sighed, and rammed the throttle forward. The plane gently took-off, and she settled in for the long trip.

07:08 AM GMT.

The polar ice cap sped closer, and Alnie kept her eye on the tiny dot on the HUD that signified the target zone. She deployed the airbrakes, lowered the throttle, and guided the aircraft down onto the ice.

The HUD displayed: Horizontal speed 70m/s, vertical speed 10m/s, 1000m altitude. The ground rushed towards Alnie, and she pulled back hard on the joystick only a few seconds from touchdown. The wheels screeched, and the plane skidded to a halt.

"Control, this is Angel-1, I have landed at the target sight, no damage visible, permission to EVA, over."

"Angel-1, this is Control, permission granted. Status updates every two minutes. Over."

"Copy that."

She turned the lock on the hatch, and it swung open. The ladder slid down automatically, and she descended towards the surface.

"Brrrrr," she thought. "It's really cold."

As she made her way towards the object, she saw some strange shapes scattered around it. As she came closer still, she realised that they were parts of an aircraft. She rushed towards them, and stopped beside a MK-2 cockpit. It was rusting away, with multiple holes in the exterior. Chunks of metal were missing from the fuselage, and all the flight instrument screens had a fine layer of dust, dirt, and frost over them. The call sign 'Angel-1' was barely visible under the years and years of dirt and rust.

She poked her head through the dilapidated hatch, and gasped. Inside, there was a skeleton. It was adorned in an old, grimy flight suit with bits of it missing. The oxygen mask was clamped tight around the dirty jaw, and a name tag on the shoulder was covered with dirt. She wiped it off, and looked in horror at the words it displayed. 'Alnie Kerman.'

Alnie standing on top of the object, beside some other old debris:


Year 1, Day 135, 09:17 AM GMT.

Kalin spiralled away from the Zaldam-1 space station.

"Bill," she screamed.

"Coming!" came the reply, clouded by intermittent static.

The station grew further and further away.

"Don't worry Kalin, I'm coming to get you!"

She could vaguely see the Soyuz drifting away from the station.

"Bill... what are you doing?!"

"Don't worry! I saw this in a movie one time. It's just like going for a Sunday drive."

"What movie?"

"Newton's Laws or something. Calm down! You're hyperventilating. Your suit only has 20 minutes worth of oxygen for regular breathing, but at the rate you're gulping it down, you'll only have five!"

She could consciously feel herself swallowing down the air like a maniac. The Soyuz was accelerating towards her.

"Bill. What are you trying to do?"

"Make sure your arms are outstretched, and be sure to grab onto the service ladder as soon as you impact!"

"Bill... no. No, no, no, no, no! It's not possible!"

The Soyuz was speeding towards her, coming in fast.

"You're gonna impact in 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10..."

"Stop the counting! It's not helping!"

"6, 5, 4, 3, 2..."

The Soyuz was less than fifty metres from her, and speeding at her like a car on the motorway. The spacecraft rotated to ensure the ladder faced Kalin. The ship slammed into her, and cracked the multiplex of her helmet. She grabbed the ladder, and struggled to maintain her grip as the spacecraft plunged into the darkness of space.

"Come on! Don't lose your grip! Hang on!"

It was unclear who had said that, as they were both shouting now.

"Come on!"

She finally got a firm grip on one of the rungs, and heaved herself up to the airlock. She punched in her passcode, and swung open the hatch, climbing into the airlock and sealing the hatch. The oxygen was pumped into the chamber, and the pressure was equalised. Kalin removed her helmet.

"Bill, that was a serious stunt you pulled there. What does mission control have to say about it?"


"You disconnected the radio, didn't you?"

"Well... I don't think they would've approved. Would they?"

She smiled.

Day 136, 06:00 PM GMT.

"The council is now in session."


The President of the UTPKA was, as always, flanked by his advisors and Vice President.

"Yesterday morning, at 7 AM, Alnie Kerman made a harrowing discovery. Debris from the exact same plane that she flew was found near the object, and, after further examination, she discovered a decaying corpse. What makes this discovery harrowing, is the fact that, when the corpse was carbon dated after Alnie transported it back to KSC, it was discovered to be 8.5 million years old. And, scarier still, the body had the exact same DNA, genetic structure, bone structure, right down to the last millimeter, the last strand of DNA and RNA, as Alnie."

The President raised his hand.

"What exactly does this mean?" he asked.

"This means that Alnie Kerman, the same Alnie Kerman that is currently asleep in her dorm at KSC, visited the North Pole, crashed, died, and was born again 8.5 million years later. Some of our more religious-inclined scientists suggest reincarnation. The more influential ones suggest parallel universes, time travel, and other physically impossible things."

"But... life on Kerbin only started 4.5 million years ago."

"That's exactly the point, mister President. As of right now, we need to decide what to do with both the object and the information retrieved from the decaying corpse. I suggest transferring all resources and a sizable chunk of the military budget to the KSA."

"But what about defense?! We need to be prepared for any Ruskie attacks!"

"That's why I also suggest merging the Military and the KSA. They would both have the same 600 million Kerbucks budget, and they would get work done quicker, as Wernher would now be working at KSC. In exchange for the much bigger budget, much better scientists, and better research equipment, the KSA would perform an array of military tasks, perhaps designing new ICBMs, or cannibalising old ones to make better rockets. Hell, maybe we could even expand on the 'Star Wars' concept."

Gene stood up.

"I will not stand for this. Though I know we could do with a bigger budget and better equipment, all of our employees, myself included, want nothing to do with the military!"

"I know it is not a favourable compromise, but, think about it. We need the KSA's scientific and technical expertise to figure out what all of this means. Hopefully, we could uncover the bigger picture. Whoever or whatever made these objects. What are they for. How they work. We shall have a vote. The merge or not to merge! All those in favour of merging the two organizations, say Yea."

Eleven of the twenty-three people at the desk said 'Yea.'

"All those in opposition of merging, say Nay."

Eleven 'Nays.'

The general looked at Gene.

"It's your choice. Make the decision. What you say could change the course of history..."

Gene thought about it for a while. Half an hour, in-fact. Finally, he made his decision.

"Let's merge. It's the only option."


Hi guys, happy St. Patrick's Day! You may have noticed that I used '4.5 million years' instead of '4.5 billion years.' The reason I chopped off over 900 millions was this; the Kerbol system is scaled down hugely - so why not the timeline too? I'll probably be taking a break from these forums for a while - I just got a Raspberry Pi, and assembly starts tomorrow!



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Here are some teasers of an upcoming spacecraft in the story. You'll probably guess what it is right away!




EDIT: This spacecraft has been left on the cutting room floor and you'll probably never see it again. ;.;

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Got my hopes up for a while; the spaceplane actually cleared the carrier aircraft, and started to climb. But it didn't make orbit. I guess there wasn't enough fuel in the external tank. REVERT! :-)

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Chapter 3-B

UTPKA Territory.

Year 1, Day 138, 04:21 PM GMT.


Wernher stood in front of a large whiteboard at the R&D complex at the KSC. The remains of the 'North Pole Object' were lying to his left. Interns and world-renowned scientists were picking at the interior, which was exposed, the exterior panels stashed away in a broom cupboard. An array of drills and scientific equipment were suspended above the object by a large rack. The President, along with his scientific advisor and more scientists, was seated on a bench 1 metre in front of Wernher. He doodled some pictures of a clock on the whiteboard with his pink marker before he began to speak.

"Ladies, gentlemen, Mister President, I have made a startling revelation. You see the object, ja?"

He pointed to it. Just to get the point across, he scribbled a picture of it on the board.

"Vell, it is equipped vith a device. Zis device, it measures approximately vun cubic metre in size, and it is capable of creating immense amounts of power. More zan current atomic fission reactors. Even more zan concepts for nuclear fusion reactors. If zis miniature reactor overheats, it vill create an atomic explosion, so ve must handle it vith immense care."

The people on the bench were scribbling down notes. The President raised his hand.

"Get to the point, Wernher. It took me three hours to fly here from DC, and there are rumors that the KSSR have moved some ICBMs to Kuba."

"Ja, ja. Ze point is, that zis reactor... it is not just a reactor. Ve tried to activate it with a jolt from the Engine Ignition System. It sucked in an apple and a pencil from the desk beside it. They were spewed out from a glowing blue bulge twenty-four minutes later, which promptly disappeared. Observe."

He flicked a switch on the circuit-breaker lying on the desk to right. A small cube, also on the desk, presumably the reactor, exploded in a shower of blue sparks and miniature bolts of lightning, as the desk itself imploded into the core of the explosion. The walls of the chamber creaked, and bent inwards, and the explosion dissipated into thin air.

Wernher emerged, his hair and overcoat singed, from the blue aurora that remained. He smiled.

"Ja, you see? Ze desk, along vith the reactor, disappears, but vait. It shall return. Hopefully in a shorter time span."

The President, his advisors, and the other scientists waited eagerly. Time droned on. And on. And on. And eventually the President left to find himself a snack. Exactly twenty-four minutes later --

 "Oh mein Gott!" The wall on which the whiteboard stood flew apart, the debris nearly impacting one of the interns. The blue aurora convulsed and pulsed, and blue sparks bounced off the remaining walls as people ran for cover. The other walls exploded one by one, and the aurora grew bigger, and bigger, and bigger. The leg of a table emerged from it. And slowly another. And a small cube was spat out of the centre. Wernher hid under the bench, and the President's scientific advisor, Keinlen, was making a run for the VAB as soon as the first wall blew up. The top of the table emerged next, before the aurora collapsed, and the blue sparks and bolts of tiny lightning settled down and ceased. The table was cut in half, a fine line of molten steel marking where the tabletop had been. The stuff dripped onto the floor, and melted holes into the plumbing system.

The President casually swung open the door and swaggered in. "What've I missed?" he asked.

04:51 PM GMT.

Some construction workers carefully patched up the wrecked walls and roof with some plywood panels as Wernher continued his presentation.

"Ze reason that zis reactor seems to eat up anything near it and then spit it out twenty-four minutes afterwards is simple. It is a temporal rift jumper. It --"

"What does that mean, Wernher? It sounds like a high-tech form of clothing."

"Nien, nien, that's not vat I mean. It is a temporal rift jumper, it opens a temporal rift, jumps through it. Ve don't know why it comes back, but I believe that it is some outside interference. You zee, zis object ve found at ze North Pole, it is... how do I put zis... in a state of multiple ages. It is, according to the tests we have taken on it, twenty year sold on vun side, two years old on another, and on other parts of it, it is ninety years old! Bits of it are older than the object itself is. How can things be older than zemselves, ja!? It is strange, is it not. But zen ve delved deeper into the problem. And ve discovered something even more startling. Ze apple that ve received from the first test, after ve dated it, it appeared that it vas three weeks old. But it vas only gone for twenty-four minutes, ja!? And ve have finally figured it out. Temporal sync.

"Ve know that the beings that created zeese objects are far more advanced than us. They had on object on ze Mun for more years than we can even remember! Remember zat we could not figure out how zeese craft propelled themselves, as there vas no visible engines? It is because the objects have no engines. At least, not conventional ones. They propel themselves using temporal fractures. Here, let me explain.

"The universe where they live, it's no different to ours. They even live in the same solar system! But they live one second out of sync with the rest of the universe. One second in the past. They co-exist with us, but we never see them, and they never see us. They live in a kind of... pocket universe, as I would imagine that keeping an entire civilisation one second in the past compared to the rest of the universe would require immense amounts of energy. So, let's say, their pocket universe is only our solar system, the Kerbol system, copied and pasted one second in the past for them alone to live in. It would be a tiny universe. They would dictate the boundaries of their own universe. They would be their own... Gods.

"And to transport themselves between our universe, the sort-of... main one, and their pocket universe, a temporal fracture needs to be opened. A temporal fracture is, in essence, a small hole in the fabric of space-time. A kind of wormhole, one that is also not naturally occurring, but is also easy to fly through. You see, with real wormholes, in theory, their gravitational pull would take you towards their centre... and you'd stay there for all eternity." He waved his hand around in the air dismissively. "It's complicated. But a temporal fracture bypasses this gravitational anomaly, because it has a gravity, but it's very different than that of a wormhole's.

"You see, the gravity of the temporal fracture sucks everything in for a small amount of time, and then spews everything out again later. Zis is because the fracture is unstable. As soon as it forms, it becomes so unstable that it instantly implodes, and then explodes, slightly reminiscent of a supernova..."

The president slowly dozed off.

"... Mister President, are you listening!?"

He opened his eyes. Wernher was pointing at him, and some scientists were whispering to each other. Wernher gave him an annoyed look, and continued speaking.

"As I was saying, we are planning to send an unmanned probe through a temporal fracture, and into this pocket universe, in an attempt to communicate with the inhabitants of it. But, in order to send it through, we need to stabilise the fracture. The probe we have designed is the smallest we can make it; a tiny rover, but it still isn't small enough to make it through the fracture before it explodes. So ve have to stabilise it for at least ten seconds. The fracture only stays open for three. We need a certain mineral to sustain it. That mineral is lidium. Much like uranium, it is highly radioactive, and is capable of creating immense amounts of power when refined. But it is only found on Duna. Yet is has certain traits that can sustain the fracture.

"Cobalt-thorium-G also has the same traits, but I would not suggest using it, as it is highly dangerous. If you so much as breathe on it, it vill explode, and send Kerbin into a 100-year fallout. So ve have to go to Duna, and retrieve zis mineral."

"And how do you propose we do that?" asked the President.

"I have a plan! An interplanetary vessel! The... Ares-1."

Day 141, 11:26 PM GMT.

Leake Kerman stealthily approached the R&D complex. Most of the lights were off; Walt had invited the staff to come watch a new movie, 'The 6-hours Kerbin Moved Around.' Only Wernher and a couple of interns had stayed behind. She heard the pitter-patter of paws inside one of the buildings, but ignored it. It was probably one of Jebediah's cats. The lights in the windows of the astronaut complex went out one by one, and not one explosion was to be seen.

She slid her ID across the scanner on the front of the doors to the complex's hub of operations, unoriginally named 'the Hub.' The doors slid open, and Leake entered the building. She briskly walked down the bare corridor; there was no one around. All the lights were out, except for the 'night lights.' Basically just the dim red lights that are normally on during a power outage. Wernher insisted that they were the only lights on at R&D at night, as he had told many of the days when he struggled to fall asleep in his comfortable office chair. People had yet to question why he was sleeping on the job in the first place.

She approached Wernher's thinking room. Originally occupied by Ludwig Kerman, the head rocket scientist before Wernher, it had become his workplace. Inside he had all manner of things; three blackboards, one large computer and calculator, a diagram of a wormhole and a rocket engine pasted on the wall, along with a poster containing Keinstein's field equations, a nice desk, a model of the Splat!ern V, the rocket that took the first Kerbals to the Mun, with an overlay of where the fuel was located, and a similar model of his 'Ferry Rocket,' something he had designed years before as part of an agreement with Disney-Kerman Motion Pictures Ltd.

After verifying that there was no one in the room by peeking through the keyhole, Leake swung open the door and entered the room, nearly tripping over a bin full of old blueprints. Some pencil-sketches of the Ares-1 lay on Wernher's desk. She closed the door, and flicked on the lights. She hoped nobody would notice them.

She carefully slid a small matchbox out of her pocket. But this was no ordinary matchbox. Oh no, this one had a button in the top, and a camera hidden inside. She pointed the box at one of the blackboards, a mess of unintelligible sentences and sticky notes with things like '1 sec --> them   we = 1 sec <--' and 'time = too slow - they are slow, we are fast!!! middle?!' on them, and clicked the button. She did this multiple times with the other two blackboards, which had proper-looking equations on them.

"... I'm... I'm just go-- going back to mein o-- office, th-- tha-- thank you." The sound of Wernher's voice, clouded by hiccups, approached. Leake cursed, and switched off the lights, hiding under the desk. But the sound of footsteps receded towards the snack room, in the opposite direction from the 'thinking room.' She sighed, and quietly exited the room. Her shoes barely made any sound at all - the latest in stealth technology, delivered to her only a few days ago by parachute drop. She left the R&D complex, and headed back to her room.

11:38 PM GMT.

Leake switched on the ham radio in her room, and spoke into the microphone in Russian. "Ready for microfilm collection. Unprocessed, images of the 'thinking room' of Wernher Von Kerman, age 57, at KSC, Kerman Space Centre, Bluerock Peninsula."

A voice in a heavy Russian accent replied: "Message received. Dispatching collection aircraft now. ETA 12:00. Out."

11:59 PM GMT.


The Tupolev Tu-22 spyplane gracefully pulled back as it landed mere kilometres from the KSC. Leake had taken a small jeep over, and the jet arrived bang on time. The KSSR markings were almost invisible in the dark of midnight as the aircraft churned up blocks of grass and dirt as it slowed down. "Damn," thought Leake. "That's gonna be hard to cover up." The plane slid to a halt, and a ladder extended from the underside of the cockpit. Three pilots adorned in flight gear slowly climbed out; one of them carried a small box. "Hey, Agent 22," one of them called. Leake stepped forward and handed him a roll of microfilm. He dumped it into the box. "You're scheduled for an extraction back to the motherland in three months, under the cover of a car accident. Make sure you have everything you need to do done by then." He closed the lid of the box, and the three of them climbed back into the plane. Leake climbed into the jeep and drove back to KSC.

Year 1, Day 150, 09:00 AM GMT.

"I like to dream, yes, yes, right between my sound machine..."


"On a cloud of sound I drift in the night, Any place it goes is right..."


"Goes far, flies near, to the stars away from here!"


"Well, you don't know what we can find..."


Why don't you come with me little girl, on a magic carpet ride..."




Jebediah Kerman was bolting out the words to 'Magic Carpet Ride' by Krakenwolf.

"You don't know what..."

"JEB!!! Shut up! Can you confirm booster SEP, over?"

That knocked Jeb out of his trance, and he leaned over the console.

"Booster SEP confirmed, gravity turn complete, altitude twenty kilometres. I can see K2 from here!"

"Jeb, concentrate."

"Uh... affirmative?" cautiously replied Jeb.

"Good. MECO T-minus 30 seconds and counting."


"10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2..."

Jebediah Kerman, the best pilot of the KSA, rammed the throttle lever forwards, realised he was pushing it the wrong way, and pulled it backwards.

"Apoapsis height 110 kilometres. That's ten kilometres above intended altitude, Jeb. Be more careful next time!"

"Okay," grumbled Jeb, taking a bite of the corned beef sandwich he had smuggled aboard.

Within minutes, Ares-1, the KSA's first manned interplanetary vessel, with its crew of Jebediah, Deswin, Leake and Clauena Kerman, reached orbit, and the crew was ready to prepare for Kerb's first ever expedition leaving Kerbin's SOI...



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@Angel-125 It was either that, or multiple universe theory. :-) The above exposition dump was kind of forced, and didn't flow as smoothly as my other chapters, because I needed it to move the plot forward, and had a case of writer's block. But it's all over now, and the chapter is going to be finished later today. (On another note, how do you make those Kerbal emojis?)

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@nisskepcsim you've made my day, good sir! Reading the lyrics and looking at the pics, I thought of that very scene from First Contact, well done!

This most recent post may not have flowed like you wanted, but it was still quite an enjoyable read. Oh, and as far as kerbal emojis go, on the top of the box you type posts out in is a smiley face icon, they're in there :cool:

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Chapter 4.


Year 1, Day 151, 07:32 AM GMT.

"This is ground control to Major Jeb, come in Jeb, over."

"Jeb here, over."

"Take your protein pills and put your helmet on. Get the others to do the same. Maneuver T-minus 10 seconds and counting, over."

"Copy that. Commencing countdown, engines activated. All crew have their helmets on. No protein pills until after maneuver. Those things don't go down well during acceleration."

Chuckles over the radio. "Check ignition and may Kraken's love be with you..."

"3, 2, 1..."

Jeb rammed the throttle forward. Leake and Deswin sat behind him, strapped into padded seats behind various control consoles and instruments. Clauena sat at the very back, next to the hatch, with nothing but an old Commodore-64 computer to entertain her. Jeb himself sat behind his command console, which had an array of navballs, levers, big red buttons, and secret compartments filled with pirated copies of Pac-man.

The two multiplex-glass windows in front of Jeb gave him a nice view of Kerbin as the Sun set and the Mun rose. The horizon of Kerbin was a thin blue line - Jeb thought he could see Nye Island peeking out from behind it. The limited thrust of the 'Poodle' engine on the Ares meant that the transfer burn would take five minutes, with a small course correction along the way, but it sure was better than the proposals that used the NERVAs! Those engines would've required multiple burns, perhaps four or five passes!

The acceleration of the 'Poodle' was barely above one-fifth of a G, enough for things to fall awkwardly backwards given a couple of minutes, but nowhere near enough to produce a proper artificial gravity. There were proposals that utilized centrifuges, but they were eventually ditched due to weight problems. The worst side effect of this mission to Duna, as speculated by some of Kerbin's most world-renowned scientists, would be the entire trip, which would last slightly over a year. The best case scenario - their muscles might be weaker than when they departed - worst case scenario - they wouldn't be able to cope with the force of re-entry, and their bones would shrink slightly. But Jeb was confident that that wouldn't happen to them!

The five minutes of burn time passed relatively quickly, the cockpit full of chatter and good cheer as Jebediah, Leake, Deswin, and Clauena Kerman were propelled on the first interplanetary mission in Kerbal history!

"Ares-1, this is Mission Control, with a message from the President of the United Tectonic Plates of Kan Andreas - Jaysef Kerman says, 'All the crew of the Ares spacecraft, you are embarking on an extremely dangerous mission. Your objective is still a secret, but if you succeed, you shall unlock a new era for Kermanity - the ability to contact an extraterrestrial civilisation. All of us here at the White House, as well as those at KSC, wish you good luck - and bon voyage!'"

The Ares-1 departing Kerbin:


UTPKA Territory.

Day 152, 05:59 PM GMT.

Jaysef Kerman, president of the UTPKA, strolled down the corridor leading to the State Department auditorium. He was flanked by his Vice President, Bob Kerman, and his Press Secretary, Arie Kerman. "Sir," she said, "I would not advise this conference. Though I have not been to all of the meetings in the Council Room, I know that this will be a startling revelation for the public, and that a lot of them will lose trust in the government when they discover how long we've been keeping this secret from them. Hell, I didn't even know about this!"

"I know," replied the Vice President. "It's above your pay grade."

"Above my pay grade my ass! This is exactly the kind of problem you get if you don't tell your Press Secretary anything about a state secret that could endanger the public and have disastrous effects if revealed too late. And you're revealing it too late! If you wan't my advice, keep it a secret. You should've revealed it earlier!"

They passed the doors leading to Jaysef's office, the red room, and the green room. Senators and other VIPs milled around the corridor like bees in a hive as they approached the door to the stage. "Honestly, Arie," said Jaysef, "I don't care what you think. Because we only discovered the truth a fortnight ago, and my military and scientific advisors suggested against a press conference revealing the secret!"

"And who are your military and scientific advisors?" asked Arie. Jaysef sighed. "Fut and Kramp Kerman." The flag of the UTPKA flanked the entrance door to the stage, a large, polished mahogany door with an ornate silver handle. It was a stark contrast to the rest of the building, which was made of bomb-proof concrete painted white to look like marble. It used to be white marble, but the Kold War had kicked things up a notch, and all the government was worrying about was the safety of its President and other VIPs. The civilians were the last to get attention.

"Good luck," said Arie, opening the door for the President. He entered the room, along with Bob, and approached the podium. The State Department auditorium was a spacious room, with an intricate lighting system on the roof which gave the feeling like you were standing in some kind of Sci-fi UFO. The seats were packed full of enthusiastic reporters, who were eager to begin interrogating the President. The flag of the UTPKA hung behind him, and a large TV camera pointed at him from the other side of the stage. Other various camera crews were stationed at the back of the room, attempting to get any kind of angle that would allow them to see anything at all. Jaysef cleared his throat, glaced at his notes, and began.

The State Department auditorium:


"Ladies and Gentlemen, you may have noticed the increased activity of our space program, the KSA, over the last couple of weeks. A rapid expansion of the facility at Bluerock Peninsula, the KSC, has begun, and has allowed for the launch of Ares-1, the first mission ever attempted to travel into interplanetary space. You may have also noticed the decresed military activity at our other bases, such as Round Range Air Force Base, and the increased military activity at KSA facilities. This is because of an unannounced merger between the military and the KSA."

The crowd erupted in a cacophony of roars and shouts.

"Settle down please, settle down."

The room fell silent.

"This merger is the product of a discovery made by our space agency's lunar exploration division, the MEAP. That stands for Munar Exploration Application Program. They discovered an unidentified object on the surface of the Mun one week ago, and, believing that it was a KSSR spacecraft, sent a Munar lander to investigate." Not the full truth, but saying it was discovered a month and a half ago would hardly benefit the government when subjected to the uproar that would most definitely ensue after the conference.

"The lander confirmed that the object was not a KSSR spacecraft, and that it was not natural. Yet it seemed to resemble a spacecraft, and there are no other nations capable of space travel other than the KSSR and the UTPKA. Then we discovered a similar object at Kerbin's North Pole. Long story short, these objects are alien spacecraft, and these aliens live out of synchronization with our universe. They live one second in the past, just where we can't find them. Except we can find them, and we can contact them.

"But to do so we need a certain mineral, called lidium, which is found only on Duna. And so we launched the Ares-1, its sole purpose to retrieve the mineral lidium from Duna and return it safely to Kerbin."

The crowd of reporters screamed a million questions at him, except for one, who sat patiently at the back with his hand up, staring dreamily at the wall behind Jaysef. "Yes," Jaysef said, pointing to him. The room fell silent once again.

"Uh, uh," stuttered the Kerbal, who had awoken from his trance. "Umm, why d-did you keep all this a s-secret until n-now?" he asked rather quickly.

"Good question," replied Jaysef. "We had believed it was a KSSR spacecraft all up until yesterday, when we discovered the truth. Because of this, we kept it a secret, thinking it was some advanced Soviet space technology. When we discovered that it was actually alien, we rushed to hold a press conference as soon as possible." Jaysef smiled. Though he was still deceiving the public, at least they knew the important parts of the truth. Bending it around a little to deflect criticism wouldn't do any harm...

KSSR Territory.

Day 153, 07:39 AM GMT.

Gerlan Kerman was jolted awake by the vibration of the Koncordea as it decelerated from supersonic speeds with a thunderous boom. He glanced through his window, only to see Kuba approaching in the distance. The Koncordea was a miniature version of the Koncorde, a supersonic passenger aircraft developed by some obscure French aerospace developer. The KSSR military had promptly manufactured a smaller version, not to be put out of business by some small-time aircraft enthusiasts. These 'small time aircraft enthusiasts' turned out to be the C7 Aerospace Division, who threatened to sue if the Russians didn't stop production. So the KSSR stopped selling the Koncordea commercially. But the aircraft was useful enough to warrant continuation under a secret military project...

When the President of the UTPKA announced the existence of aliens and their plot to make first kontakt, the KSSR was outraged, especially Gerlan, the Soviet Ambassador. When he heard the news, he announced on international television that, "First kontakt is not an endeavour to be completed by a single nation, on that nation's soil! It should be an international endeavour, performed on international soil, with representatives of each and every country on Kerbin there! These 'aliens' must not see the world how any single nation sees it, but how the entire world sees it! And I will not rest until I know that when kontakt is made, that it shall not be solely made by the UTPKA, that these 'aliens' shall not see the rest of the world as the UTPKA sees it, a filthy place filled with poverty, death, and socialism, everywhere except the UTPKA, but how everyone sees it, a prosperous and safe haven for all!" He promptly ran out of breath and almost collapsed.

"Mister Ambassador," radioed the pilot through the intercom. "We're approaching Kuba, we'll arrive in T-minus 1 minute. Be sure to keep your seatbelt on."

Gerlan fetched a cocktail from the minibar at the back of the cabin, sat back down, finished his cocktail, and strapped in. The airbrakes on the Koncordea's winds deployed, giving a deceleration force of about 2 Gs. Not the smoothest ride ever, but better than those aircraft he had flown back during his time in the air force; back during the Great War.

As he stared through the window, he could see the island of Kuba; a small dirt runway with a derelict old air-traffic control tower and some empty hangars. At first glance, it was hard to believe that this was an extremely important and heavily fortified KSSR military complex. But then you notice certain things. Small things, like the strangely high-tech looking door buried in the side of a small mountain face; or the tiny bay doors scattered around the hillside, hidden by clumps of foliage, that concealed ICBM silos. The landing gear of the aircraft deployed, and it descended towards the runway. It flared up just before touchdown, and the front wheel set down on the dirt track five seconds later.

"Wow," thought Gerlan. "That was the smoothest landing I've ever experienced." He passed on his comment to the pilot, who, to his surprise, replied saying; "All of these Konkordea landings are automated, with only a little bit of manual control needed to set the plane on the correct course. That's the beauty of MechJeb, sir."

Gerlan engaged in a bit of small talk with the pilot, whose name turned out to be a 'Valentina' Kerman, before one of the ground crew came aboard, breaking up their conversation and leading Gerlan outside, down the airstairs, and towards a smaller passenger aircraft. It was a 'Tri-33,' a modified version of the Tu-22 spyplane, with extra passenger space and more engines added. The perfect business jet for short-range trips. And another secret military project!

The two aircraft pulled up beside each other:


Gerlan climbed aboard the Tri-33, strapping himself into his seat and waiting for the flight to begin. He had been invited by the President of the UTPKA to come to KSC, shortly after his speech revealing the existence of aliens.

"Hello, my name is Tetina Kerman, I will be your pilot for the next three minute flight to the Kerbal Space Centre. Please enjoy your flight. Snacks are not provided."

Gerlan chuckled softly. He found it slightly funny that the pilot had to announce the fact that no snacks were provided. It was only a three minute trip, after all! The Koncordea reversed into a different hangar as the Tri-33 slowly taxied out onto the runway. The engines roared as they throttled up, and the plane gently took-off from the dirt track, just before it hit some very inconveniently-placed elevated landing lights. The flight over the Kerblantic ocean was very simple and quick, and the plane arrived at the KSC runway a whole fifty seconds behind schedule!

The airstair truck pulled up outside the exit hatch, and a convoy of one police car and two limousines pulled up beside the airstair, lights flashing and flags waving. The flags in question were mounted on two antennae at the front of the two limousine's bonnets. A group of security guards clambered out of one limousine, and the President of the UTPKA, along with his Vice President, Gene Kerman, and Wernher Von Kerman, climbed casually out of the other. Gerlan exited the hatch after saying goodbye to Tetina, and descended the airstairs. He greeted Jaysef and Bob Kerman first, shaking their hands, before doing the same with Wernher and Gene.

"Hello Gerlan," said Gene, "How's Dimitri?"

"Oh, Dimitri," replied Gerlan. "He's about as grumpy as ever. You know how he feels. You guys landed on the Mun and Minmus, and have launched an expedition to land on Duna, and we have yet to do a Munar flyby! And then the news that you were about to make first kontakt broke out, and he's even more depressed. He even asked me to do his speech for him! Who ever heard of a President so depressed that he wanted someone else to do his speech for him..." Gerlan sighed, and glanced at the ground. "He's just... he's having a hard time right now."

"Well, I'm sorry to hear that --" started Gene, before Jaysef interrupted him.

"We're not here for small talk," Jaysef said. "There's a more important matter to attend to. The matter of the first kontakt, and where it's going to be held... I believe you made a speech on the subject recently, didn't you, Gerlan?"

Gerlan blushed, and nodded.

"Well, come on so." continued Jaysef, holding the limousine's door open for Gerlan. "It's a four hour drive to DC."

The Tri-33 pulled up at the KSC runway:


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@Aerospacer Yeah I know; it's just going to keep going that way. This was originally meant to have a completely different plot that required spaceflight to work. Then I realised that that plot was going to require a whole lot of filler and not very interesting story, so I took a different turn - one that was less spaceflight-centered and more political/Kerbin-centered. But don't worry. There's going to be at least one major space mission before the 'lidium' is retrieved.

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Chapter 4-B.

UTPKA Territory.

Year 1, Day 153, 09:28 AM GMT.

Jim glanced at the AN/FRX-114 Discriminator installed on the large console in front of him. The console was a mishmash of '60s-era flip-switches and modern LCD screens. The AN/FRX-114 was a large, black box, with an array of buttons on the front, along with a small screen, and a tiny printer embedded in the bottom right corner. Jim himself was seated in a comfy padded seat, and to his left, in an identical seat, sat Ornie Kerman. They were both adorned in their UTPKA Air Force uniforms. The small screen on the Discriminator flashed the letters POE in red, indicating that a message had been received which contained the POE code prefix, today's prefix. The screen changed to display the message: 'ETD-135-00000001.'

Jim grabbed a red notebook marked 'Communications Codes,' which was laying on a small ledge jutting out from the console. He jotted down the message on a piece of scrap paper inside the notebook, then flipped through the pages to find the right codes. "Let's see..." he said, searching each page delicately. "Echo, Tango, Delta... 1,3... 5. Here..." He stared at the page. Under 'ETD-135,' it displayed: 'Missile attack plan R.' "It's a plan R," announced Jim. "It's a what!?" exclaimed Ornie. "It's a Missile attack plan R." "Oh, Kraken no..." Ornie picked up a similar book that was resting on his lap, this one marked 'Attack Codes.' He flipped through the pages, until he found the right one.

"Full missile deployment across all primary targets. All ten of 'em." Ornie sighed, before saying, "Better get confirmation first." "Agreed," replied Jim. He sent a message through the AN/FRX-114, and when they got the reply, it decoded as, 'Affirmative.' "Wow," said Jim, before flipping open a cover that protected a small keyboard. He typed in the launch codes, '00000001,' and each number appeared on his LCD screen. "Keys ready?" asked Ornie, fishing two keys out of his pocket. Jim did the same, and nodded. They flipped open the safeties for the launch sequence, and flicked the switches that begun the countdown. "15, 14, 13, 12, 11..." They both flipped open strong metal covers, revealing four keyholes. They inserted their keys, and waited. "8, 7, 6, 5.." "Turn in 4, 3, 2, 1..." said Ornie. They both turned their keys as the countdown hit zero, and the LCD screen changed to display the insides of the missile silos.The rockets were spewing clouds of smoke and trails of fire as the doors slid open and the launch clamps released. The missiles rocketed into the bright morning sky, like they were about to crash into the sun.

"Simulation complete," called a woman over the PA system. "That was tense," laughed Jim as the huge, fourteen-inch thick steel door of the ICBM Launch Control Simulator swung open. "You seemed to treat it like it was the real thing." "Well," replied Ornie, "You should always do. You never know when the Ruskies might attack..." But Jim could see the start of a smile at the edges of his mouth. The pair of friends strolled out of the hangar in which the simulator was situated, and out onto the vast expanse of Round Range Air Force Base. A large rocket stood on the base's solitary launchpad, with multiple umbilical pipes connected to the fuel tanks. A huge crew access tower connected to the crew capsule of the rocket, and an small bus approached it, carrying two astronauts towards the brand-new Altair VTOVL Rocket. "Come on," called Ornie, rushing towards one of the buildings. "You're gonna miss the launch!"

Round Range Air Force Base:


09:35 AM GMT.

Herbal Kerman sat at his desk at the Flight Control Centre at the Round Range Air Force Base. The base was rarely used for rocket launches, and Herbal thought it was a privilege that Gene had allowed them to go-ahead with project 'Pegasus.' "TELEMETRY, how're we looking?" he called. "We've got a full connection to the spacecraft, all systems nominal. Guidance is now internal," called Gregbo, the head Kerbal at the telemetry station. "EECOM?" "Atmosphere pressure 15 psi. Composition 21% oxygen, 78% nitrogen, 1% trace carbon dioxide. Environmental systems functioning at 100% efficiency," replied Nello, who was head of the electrical, environmental and consumables management station. "GUIDANCE?" "All systems properly calibrated. We are GO for launch, FLIGHT."

"Copy that GUIDANCE, T-minus two minutes to launch." "Power transfer is complete," called EECOM. "T-minus one minute and counting." "All tanks now pressurized," chimed TELEMETRY.  "Guidance is internal," boomed GUIDANCE. "T-minus 40 seconds." "CAPCOM," called Munfred Kerman, one of the two crew aboard the Altair VTOVL Rocket, "Do we have launch commit, over?" "T-minus 30 seconds," called FLIGHT. "T-minus 25 seconds. We have launch commit, over. Repeat, we have launch commit." "Launch commit confirmed," chimed CAPCOM. "T-minus 20 seconds and counting. Umbilical detach on my mark. T-minus 15 seconds. Ignition sequence start." The four huge 'Vector' engines on the rocket roared to life with a splutter of flame and an enormous cloud of smoke, which grew to engulf the launchpad. It billowed from the huge outlets burrowed into the side of the concrete pad. Jets of freezing water drenched the surface to protect the rocket from acoustical energy, reflected off the close concrete of the pad during launch. "T-minus 10 seconds. Umbilical detach in 7, 6, 5, 4..."

Munfred sat beside Dootbret in the spacious cockpit of the Altair as the time to launch shrunk with every second. Their consoles blinked and flashed with array of different lights as the ignition sequence began. Doodbret had the throttle open to maximum, and Munfred kept his eyes trained on the navigational instruments on his side of the console. The multiplex windows at the front of the capsule gave a great view of the launch site, and the voice of Herbal boomed over the radio. "...umbilical detach in 3, 2, 1, zero." The two huge arms that pumped both liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen respectively into the rocket ceased pumping, disconnected from their slots in the rocket with a clang, and swung out of the way as zero approached. "...T-minus 3, 2, 1..." chimed CAPCOM. "Launch clamps released, " called FLIGHT. The four huge, red clamps swung backwards, away from the rocket, as a trail of flame and smoke billowed from its rear. "Liftoff, we have a liftoff!" The force of the acceleration stretched Munfred to his very limit, the speed crushing him into his seat like a tin can. And Dootbret wasn't doing any better. The force of lift-off was almost tearing them limb-from-limb. This was nothing like the simulators. They were forced deeper and deeper into their seats as the speed increased.

"100 metres per second. 200 metres per second. Altitude 1 kilometre. 300 metres per second. Altitude 3 kilometres. 400 metres per second. Altitude 5 kilometres," continued FLIGHT. Munfred was glad that most of the ascent was done via autopilot. The kOS was the most powerful and capable autopilot in the UTPKA's arsenal of computers, and was capable of landing a spacecraft on Eve was only RCS thrusters if you wished. It would require a bit of death if it attempted to do that, however. "500 metres per second. 10 kilometres. MECO T-minus 30 seconds. T-minus 25. 15 kilometres. T-minus 20. 20 kilometres. 25 kilometres. T-minus 15. 30 kilometres. T-minus 10 seconds and counting..." The timer to MECO ticked down."35 kilometres," called CAPCOM. "5, 4, 3, 2, 1... MECO!" The huge 'Vector' engines shut off, and both Munfred and Dootbret were thrown forward in their seats. Had they not been strapped in, they would've smacked into the console, or worse yet, the windows.

"LES jettison," called Herbal Kerman into his headset. "Jettison confirmed," chimed TELEMETRY. "Apoapsis T-minus 1 minute 30 seconds. Calculating orbital injection maneuver now..." "Node in T-minus 1 minute," boomed GUIDANCE. "Injection requirements 1123 metres per second of DeltaV," called TELEMETRY. "Copy that, CAPCOM," called Dootbret over the radio. "Copy that, Altair-1. Maneuver T-minus 30 seconds. Brace for acceleration. All systems are continuing to function nominally," replied CAPCOM, with some prompting from TELEMETRY. "Maneuver T-minus 20 seconds. Extend solar panels." "CAPCOM, we've got a successful deployment of solar arrays SA-A through to SA-C. SA-D seems to be jammed in its casing," called Munfred.

"Copy that," replied CAPCOM. "Okay," said Herbal. "What are our options here?" "We leave it until after injection. No need for an RTLS or TAL aborts. It can easily be fixed later via an EVA," replied the EVA officer, Barely Kerman. "Agreed," responded FLIGHT. "Continue with orbital injection. Node T-minus 10 seconds and counting."

"Copy that," called Munfred into the microphone in his helmet. The timer was ticking down towards the time until maneuver node. Dootbret had his hand resting on the throttle, his other hand resting on the joystick that controlled pitch, yaw, and roll. Munfred's console had an array of flip-switches, which locked and unlocked things such a SAS and RCS and kOS. He also had a large screen in the middle, which displayed two different views of Kerbin; one was a view from the poles, and the other was an equatorial view. Each had an overlay of their current trajectory, what trajectory they'd have after maneuver completion, and small tags displaying what the Altair's apoapsis and periapsis were.

"T-minus 7 seconds and counting," announced FLIGHT. "6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.." Dootbret rammed the throttle forward, and the acceleration, once again, forced them into their seats, crushing their lungs as they sank deeper and deeper into the padded material of their seats. "Cutoff T-minus 30 seconds and counting." The burn only took thirty seconds to complete, thanks to the extreme amounts of thrust provided by the four 'Vector' engines on the first, and only stage, of the Altair VTOVL Rocket SSTO.

UTPKA Territory.

11:39 AM GMT.

Jaysef lead Gerlan down the corridor, towards the UTPKA Military Council Room. Gene, Wernher, and Bob Kerman followed. "So, this is where you hold your meetings," inquired Gerlan, "That you don't want to be public?" "Well," replied Jaysef, "In a manner of speaking, yes. But we've converted it into a kind of a... discussion room, where all the heads of various government organisations meet up, in the case of either an emergency or something else of national importance, and discuss it. But we've invited the Presidents and/or Prime Ministers of the other countries on Kerbin to this meeting, to discuss the matter of first kontakt." The doors to the council room swung open with a hiss, and all four of them entered the room. The seats were packed with the leaders of multiple countries, and only five were empty, conveniently situated directly next to each other. "Please be seated," said Jaysef, and all five of them sat down in their assorted seats. "Welcome everyone," said Jaysef, "to the UTPKA Military Council Room. Today, we shall not use it as a Military Council Room, but as an impromptu conference room to discuss the conditions of first kontakt, such as where is shall be held, and who shall be there, etc. The council is now in session."

The room, filled to the brim with representatives from many different countries:


Each representative had their own translator sitting to the left of them. "I think that we can all agree," started Jaysef, "That first kontakt shall be held on international soil. So I suggest a large ship, such as an aircraft carrier, or an offshore platform, such as an oil rig - though I can safely assume that we shall not use an actual, operational oil rig, but rather a simple platform, with no drilling equipment. However, I'm told that some kind of fledgeling new private space agency uses offshore platforms to land reusable booster rockets - I think they were called SpandX, or something along the lines of that. But, back to the point, we need to decide which country supplies the ship, and what representatives shall be there --" It was then that Wernher Stood up and exclaimed: "Nien, nien! Ve cannot conduct first kontakt on a ship! It must be conducted at the KSC!"

"But Wernher," said the President, "We can't do that either. First kontakt is an international endeavour, and it cannot be conducted on sovereign soil." "Ja, ja, I know this, but it cannot happen. Ve have already prepared all the necessary facilities at KSC to handle the reactor and the mineral, 'lidium,' which are both extremely dangerous. I fear that ve vill not have the necessary facilities aboard this ship to handle an emergency with either of these items. If ze reactor overheats, for example, it shall cause an atomic explosion. On a ship, there is no escape - the explosion will engulf it in a mushroom cloud - but at KSC, we have vaults and bunkers that can filter radiation out of the air to have a clean air supply -  these bunkers also have five months worth of emergency rations and water for five-hundred people - the number of people working at KSC, with fifty more person's worth of supplies for the representatives of each county - and these bunkers have tunnels, that go right through the mountain ranges west of KSC, and emerge almost halfway across the continent - far enough away that the radiation from the blast von't be harmful - and all the occupants of the bunker can be collected by emergency services or the military or air force."

"I have to admit," said the French ambassador, "That your proposal is extremely logical. And though I do not like the fact that first kontakt shall be held at KSC, I believe it is an acceptable sacrifice for the safety your facility offers." "I agree," said both the German and Italian ambassadors simultaneously. "And so do I," said Gerlan. "Though I do have some conditions that I think everyone here shall agree to. I believe that Bluerock Peninsula, the area in Kafrica Province that KSC is located at, should be made international soil. It shall become its own 'mini-country,' with its own police force and other emergency services. My belief, though, is that there shall be no discrimination among anyone entering or exiting this new 'mini-country' - than any Kerbal of any nationality, no matter what their religion is, whether they have a visa or not, they should be allowed to enter and exit. Only a passport would be required. It would be a neutral country, free from the reign of the UTPKA, with it's own government. Who agrees with me?" "I believe that this is a good idea," said the representative of Switzerland. "So do I," said the Kritish ambassador. One-by-one, each country fell in line, agreeing with each other. Finally, the President of the UTPKA, Jaysef Kerman, concluded by saying: "The conversion of Bluerock Peninsula to become a neutral, free country is, I believe, the best way to handle this situation." "Can it even be done?" whispered Gene. "It can be arranged," replied Bob. The President cleared his throat. "As for the people that are present when first kontakt is made, I believe that all of us have agreed upon one representative that shall be present, yes?"

The sounds of 'Yes,' 'Yeah,' 'Certainly,' and 'Correct' filled the room. "Good," continued the President. "Then an agreement has been made. The council is now over. Please leave the room in an orderly fashion, and make your way to the car park, where I presume your chauffeurs are waiting to take you to your private jets and back to your home countries. Thank you for your time."


11:49 AM GMT.

Munfred Kerman pulled on his suit gloves, secured his helmet in place, and hooked up the umbilical cord to is helmet. It pumped a fresh supply of oxygen into his mouth, and filtered out the carbon dioxide. He locked the umbilical in place, and punched in a code into the keypad embedded in the wall of the airlock. The atmosphere was sucked out of the chamber via small ventilators, and the pressure equalised with the open vacuum outside. He punched in a different code into a similar keypad on the hatch itself, and the door slowly swung open, making no sound at all. "CAPCOM, this is Altair-1, hatch is opened, preparing for EVA, over." "Copy that Altair-1, EECOM reports all suit systems are functioning nominally, oxygen consumption is normal, over." "Copy that, FLIGHT."

Munfred stepped out into the black void of space. The KSA had a big enough budget to be able to afford such luxuries as a separate pack with all the life support supplies and RCS built in; the 'Pegasus' was a UTPKA Air Force project, separate from the KSA - their EVA suits had to have umbilical cords and crude, hand held Kerbonaut Maneuvering Units. He pushed off the exterior hull of the airlock in the direction of solar array SA-D. His Kerbonaut Maneuvering Unit, the KMU, he held in his left hand, and in his right, he held a small screwdriver he had removed from the emergency tool box in the habitat module beforehand. He pressed some buttons on the KMU, and some small puffs of RCS smoke filled the space around him as he drifted closer to the solar panels. He slowed down with a few more puffs, and stopped outside solar panel SA-D.

"CAPCOM, I'm at the solar array. I hope you don't mind me saying this, but the view is beautiful up here."

"Copy that, Altair," called CAPCOM.

Munfred fiddled with a screwdriver he had fetched from the cabin a few minutes earlier, ramming it into the solar-panel's casing, and wiggled it about. The casing was half-open, the solar panel attempting to extend into the case. Munfred wrenched the case open, and it popped out of its socket, the solar panel pushing it away.

"Oops," He said.

"Altair, this is EECOM, you'll have a tougher re-entry than usual, what with the broken casing, and the air rushing into the open gap, but, if all goes well, you should be okay. Just be more careful next time, over."

Munfred giggled, and started back in the direction of the hatch.

Munfred during his EVA:


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