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Bill's Food: a short story

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this is a short story I made, hope you like it. 




Bill’s Food


“Hey, remember our detention teacher?” Bob said.

“The one with the white hair and red glasses?” Bill asked.

“Ya, remember how she would be laughing but when you said something she went ballistic!?” Bob replied.

“Yep, I do indeed, or when she got mad at someone for not hearing her very quiet ‘inside’ voice?” Said Bill.

Bill and Bob were talking to each other in the car ride to their latest launch, it was just another launch to help replace the aging comms network. This time they were going to be replacing the comms connecting the minmus (Kerbins second moon) research station, and, of course, the several mining and refueling operations.

The driver, over hearing them asked. “Hey, remind me why they have so many refueling stations on Minmus.”

Bill and Bob were stunned, they thought the driver was banned from talking on duty. But through their amazement Bill answered. “Because Minmus’s’s’s’s’s’s gravity, blah, can’t talk today, is so low that it’s easy for ships, even ones with low power to weight ratios, to land and refuel. Or have the fuel brought to them.”

What Bill said made the driver contemplate what his wife said. “you better keep the tires on the new car Alex.” He still didn’t know what his wife Alexa meant by that. But as he was contemplating that a truck pulled out from behind a corner and he swerved just in time to avoid it. After five minutes of quadruple the normal heart rate for all of them, it was quiet for the rest of the ride.

It was already 2:30 by the time they got to the launch pad, so they were in a hurry to get in before dark. As they parked the ground crew greeted them, the chief of the ground crew, Degan, was not happy they were so late.

“YOU NEED TO GET IN THE ROCKET, GET READY AND LAUNCH WITHIN THE NEXT 20 MINUTES AGO TO BE ON TIME!” Degan yelled, although Bill didn’t know whether that was because he was mad or the fact that the ground around the rocket before launch was always loud.

Bill and Bob got in the elevator to get to the top of the 76.2-meter rocket. Once they were at the top, they were greeted by Jeb, the pilot of the mission. His brown eyes shining in his large, square, green head as they looked at the rocket.

While they were getting the final checks checked, Jeb decided to annoy his teammates a bit. “What happened when ancient astronomers got tired of waiting for the sun to go down?” said Jeb

“Jeb don’t do it, DON’T!” Bob half screamed in a humorous voice.

Bill, being the one to always enjoy those lame jokes asked. “What Jeb?” Jeb went on and said. “They packed up and called it a day!” And although Bob resented it, they all laughed, including mission control.

“Okay, okay, time to get back to work. Mission control, all systems go and ready to launch.” Said Jeb after they quieted down. But just before they started they heard a knock on the capsule door. Just after that Mission control piped up.

“Jeb, Bill, Bob, this is the new trainee Kail we’ve been tellin you about. Since this is a normal mission, although it’s kinda a test to, we thought it’d be a good idea to have him come along for the ride, to get used to the large rockets.” Mission control said, before Jeb could burn a hole in Kail’s suit with his lighter.

The three of them just then noticed the 4th seat in the command module. Kail then got in his seat and when he said he was ready, Bill was surprised. What had taken Kail 20 seconds to do had taken them 30 minutes to do, he then checked and sure enough, he was ready. He concluded that they were really slow or Kail was really fast, or both.

While Bill was pondering that, Jeb completed the launch checklist and started the countdown. 10… 9… ignition of the asparagus stage 8…

“ITS TRADITION TO SKIP THREE NUMBERS IN THE LAUNCH” Bill screamed at Kail over the engines heating up. 7…  ignition of the main engines 6… 2… launch clamps decouple 1… Liftoff, the engine’s rounded black cones shining brighter than the morning sun as the 2,000tonne rocket pushed away the ground. It lifted off with a power to weight ratio of 1.8, in the perfect range for the most delta v. As it started the gravity turn the first asparagus stack decoupled. After another 30 seconds the second asparagus stack decoupled, leaving the powerful main stage pushing the craft higher and higher. Finally, the apoapsis was at 80km, leaving just enough wiggle room for any mistakes Jeb “could” make.

Jeb always hated that rule, he thinks that he can do it with an apoapsis of just 20 meters above the atmosphere. Nobody believes him though. They reached the apoapsis and burned into an orbit.

“There’s about 400 meters per second of delta v left in the main stage, we could la…” Bill tried to say as Jeb throttled up when he started the Minmus insertion burn.

“Sorry Bill, but reusing things just aren’t my thang” Jeb said, about 3 seconds into the burn.

The rockets payload and crew capsule was in the 3.75meter fairing. Then there was the 3.75meter kerbedyne 14-400 fuel tank with the “rhino” engine on that. And on the bottom, was the experimental stage. About half way through the 900m/s burn the main stage was empty. It was a dim green, 5m fuel tank capable of holding 32,000 units of liquid fuel, and equivalent oxidizer.

Jeb, the night before, painted giant flames on the sides of the tank (of course). The fuel tank was something, but the engines (each called Cronk 3) were something else. They were large rounded cones of black and silver with wires and pumps flowing around the top of the cone. Firing blue and white flames for hundreds of meters at full power, changing direction with the high gimbal of 10 degrees. Each powering out 8 meganewtons of thrust through the 2.5meter cone.

The massive fireball of blue and white behind the 4 massive engines cut out as they lost fuel. Then staged, Bill watched from the rhinos retrograde camera as the massive stage slowly drifted away. Seeing the elegance of the behemoth slowly turning to reveal the still white hot interior of the massive black cones. Then, the camera went white. The rhino ignited, sending the spacecraft the 500 m/s to the Minmus intersect. Jeb had expertly burned so the spent stage fell back into the atmosphere after one orbit.

Now it was the long wait for the 7-day transfer to Minmus, 42 hours of sitting there and trying to entertain one’s self. Luckily, they had Netflix to watch movies and a mini snack dispenser on board. Bill, after about 3 days just then noticed the fairing hadn’t been deployed. So, they did that, then they could look out at the beautiful, boring, starry sky. It was wonderful at first, but after racking in over 12,000 flight hours in space, it got pretty boring.

They got a mission log before launch every mission, telling what should happen and at what time throughout the whole spaceflight. They still had it on paper in the blue binder. Even though just sending it to Bills tablet would be a lot easier.

The girl who wrote the mission log had always been pretty strange. Malerie would be told what should be accomplished in the mission and then she would write the mission log, give it back to mission control who would give it to Bill. Her husband, Greg, was the one to pack the supplies needed for the mission. Always looking at the mission log and preparing for it. Sometimes he put weird stuff in the packs, but they’d always end up useful. Like when he packed 3 kilograms of tootsie rolls. Turns out one of the fuel lines froze near ike, and the mission log said that Bill would get out and use the tootsie rolls to fix it. Their son Dillon always would put the same potato in the supplies pack his dad made. The same one, every single time, somehow over 13,000 hours in space it didn’t rot or freeze. Just be there. It never served a purpose. The mission log never, over all 254 missions, mentioned the potato. It was just there. Yep, those shoemakers were always pretty weird.

“Hey Bill” Kail said.

“What new guy” Bill replied.

“Why didn’t Jeb have the ascent stage recovered?” Kail asked around the end speed 8.

“He doesn’t like to imply it, since he thinks it makes him look weak, but…” Checking that Jeb was still listening to thriller on his headphones.

“Jeb has always been very science oriented. When he thinks there’s something to be learned from a spent stage or broken spoon, which he finds science in everything. He’ll make sure it gets to research and development.” Bill told Kail, still checking to see if Jeb was listening.

“Then why did he burn all of the fuel out of the ascent stage and put it to burn up in the atmosphere?” Kail asked, this time checking with Bill to make sure Jeb wasn’t listening.

“Sure, he said it would burn up in the atmosphere, but the company that built both the fuel tank and the engines highlighted that the fuel tank can survive reentry at up to 8,000m/s in kerbins atmosphere.” Bill said, in a contemplating tone.

“He knew it would survive, land itself and be recovered, everything he does has a purpose. Even if it’s an odd one.” Bill finished.

“how close to death has Jeb come to?” Kail asked about 20 seconds after.

“Well, he wasn’t the first pilot in the space program, the guy before him, Tate I believe, was training him to deorbit from the mun (kerbins first moon) to kerbin. At one point, they ran out of fuel. So, they had to get out and push. After pushing enough to deorbit the spacecraft, they were about to get back inside when Tate’s EVA suit spazzed out from a faulty input chip and sent him flying away at 200m/s. there was no fuel on board the capsule and Jeb didn’t have enough EVA propellant to get to him and get them both back. So, he had to watch his trainer, uncle, and only reason to join the space program, just float away, never to return. He got back into the capsule but quickly realized that he couldn’t stay for long. Tate was a pilot but also got a bit of training as an engineer, so he could keep the spacecraft from exploding along with flying it. But Jeb couldn’t do that, he only trained as a pilot, well, half trained at that point. So, the crafts cooling system started to stop functioning and the gyroscopes started heating the whole thing up. It got hotter and hotter until Jeb couldn’t stand it. So, he grabbed the spare helmet, put his head in one helmet and his body in the other helmet, and jumped out. Even from the beginning the helmets were too strong, and they could attach to another helmet as well as with the rest of the suit. There are stories of astronauts surviving falls from thousands of meters by landing on their head. He knew you could easily fit his body in a helmet, so that’s what he did.  After a couple of days, he reentered the atmosphere.  The helmets were also capable of surviving reentry at any speed because of the heat displacing properties of the plastic in the helmet, I think it was called Starlite. So, he reentered and landing safely. But the seconds before he got out of the capsule were the closest he’s been to death, so, WEAR YOUR HELMET!” Bill said at the end of story, which he was telling Kail about Jeb’s close call with death.

Kail, unfortunately, completely blanked out at the part about the spazzing suit and missed the key fact to always wear your helmet in an emergency. “He’ll learn eventually” Bob muttered under his breath, just loud enough for Bill to hear.

“So how did you get into the space program?” Kail asked everyone. Jeb was the first to respond. Although he didn’t hear the story over thriller the movie.

”My uncle Tate was a pilot for the space program, one of the first to get into orbit, second to only the mission log woman’s husband. He told me that the only one to be better than him was me, so I wanted to keep that statement true and 2 months later I was where you are now Kail, plus 23 more years and here I am today. Tate died in an accident though, you want to hear the story?” Jeb concluded, Kail just shook his head no and Jeb realized it was probably a little too graphic for the audio log.

Then Bob started talking. “I was the best scientist in my company, we built the ascent stages for the kerbal space center. Our slogan was, ‘we get you to lko’ (low kerbin orbit), eventually the ksc just asked if I wanted to go on a space mission, I thought it would be fun so I did. Plus 22 years and here I am today.”

Bob finished, with a bit more enthusiasm than Bill thought healthy, but he might as well say how he got in the space program. “It was quite simple, I wanted to go to space, so I got good grades, got an internship in the ksc in the engineering department, and when they started sending engineers in every mission, I signed up and got the part. Plus 32 years and hear I am today.” Bill finished, pleased that he shared his story, although not with as much enthusiasm as Bob.

Kail then thought it be a good idea to say why he joined the space program. “I just did the same thing Bill did but for piloting.” Kail quickly put in. knowing that he shouldn’t be sharing that stuff to his superiors, for odd social reasons.

They talked for about another twenty minutes and after that, they were silent until they were at periapsis near minmus. At the minmus periapsis, Jeb burned retrograde until they were in a 20km orbit. Just then, Kail asked. “why is kerbin so heavy? It has a surface gravity of 9.8 m/s^2 but it’s only 600km in diameter. You would need a planet that’s has a diameter of over 6,000km to get that kind of surface gravity with normal materials.” Kail said after just remembering it from science class.

“That’s the biggest mystery known to kerbal kind I guess, every planet and moon is like that.” Bob replied.

The payload was an array of 256 relay satellites, although they looked a bit too powerful for minmus to Kerbin communication. A lot too powerful, like they could track the hair on a flea from low Kerbin orbit, and the flea’s on Laythe, one of the many moons of Jool, another planet millions of kilometers away at its closest approach.

As Jeb started the process of releasing the satellites in the assigned orbits. spinning the craft, releasing the satellites in that stage, burn to change orientation, repeat. Bill thought about reading the mission log. He didn’t like to read the mission log until after the mission because it was ALWAYS true, and often had some pretty graphic things in it. It even showed how events played out with someone having knowledge of how events are going to play out. But he had to take just a quick peak, and all that he saw was “Kail dies”, which was enough to disturb him. He’s seen a lot of that kind of thing before, especially with the trainees, so it didn’t bother him that much anymore, it was mostly annoying at this point, but it still disturbed him.

The process was going pretty fast, the orbital velocity for minmus at 20km was only about 140m/s, compared to the 2.3km/s of low Kerbin orbit. As they got the final set deployed Bill looked out and realized. All of the 256 I-beams had nothing to hold them in place, they would be a playground for the…

Bill yelled at Jeb not to touch anything but it was too late. Jeb touched the controls to orientate to retrograde in preparing the deorbit burn to Kerbin. Bill yelped, then the others yelped one by one as the I-beams and the decouplers on the end started shaking, moving back and forth faster and faster, until the whole ship was shaking and flying around like mad.

The Kraken had attacked. Bill was the only one who knew about it because he was around 9 years before the other two, not to mention Kail. The kraken attacked a lot in the early days of the space program, it would attack when a ship was too big or when they put to many parts inside of each other. Eventually, the ksc learned how to build ships that didn’t attract the kraken. They learned how to do that about 3 years before Jeb showed up, so he never found out.  They never told the media because of the fear of mass panic. But it was happening now, after 26 years the kraken had returned.

“BILL, BILL, what’s going on?!?!” Jeb half screamed at him, thinking that he might know because of his extra time in the space program. Bill just couldn’t believe it, for 26 years they never had any problems, but now this. The kraken was now even destroying the velocity, making the craft shoot from one end of the Kerbin system to another, twice passing through the mun. “It’s the Kraken!” Bill yelled.

The connections between the rhino and the fuel tank broke, sending the rhino flying at super light speeds away from Kerbin, and the whole Kerbol star system in a matter of milliseconds. The I-beams were flying through each other and the rest of the ship, though still not breaking.

The longest Kraken attack before had been for a good 3 hours until it took a space station from keostationary orbit and put it above the surface of Gilly, the moon of Eve. So, the attack could last a while.

When Kail looked at the edge of death from the g forces of the attack Bill yelled to the others. “Everyone, get to the escape pod, it’s our only chance!” but as Bob was going from the crew module into the escape pod, the Kraken attacked HIM! Tearing him out of the escape module (without even touching the sides of the escape pod). After the rest of them got into the escape pod they got a chance to look out the window.

They saw Bob’s body be stretched and pulled, stretching soooo far it didn’t even look 3D. That’s what you had to call it at that point, it. Because it couldn’t be called a kerbal. It was stretching further and further, stretching so far it was bigger than the rest of the galaxy. Stretching through everything in its way, not touching anything. Until it looked like someone had made a giant wall dividing the two halves of the universe. Then it just disappeared, just gone, nothing left but the K.I.A. screen on the cockpits dash. Kail’s luscious brown hair had turned completely white from seeing what used to be Bob for those few seconds.

Luckily, they managed to detach the escape pod from the rest of the craft, seeing it shake and quietly screech in the cold nothingness of space. Then that too disappeared, the Kraken probably threw it like the rhino. That’s what you get when an 8th dimensional creature wants to play.

They could see one thing was still there, the engineering unit.  The unit did all the complex calculations Bill needed to give good readings on delta v and other useful statistics Jeb needed. It was flying at the escape pod at about 5m/s. It hit the escape pod and got stuck between a fuel line and 2 kilos of “pre-chewed” bubble gum Greg packed.

Then the radio kicked up as mission control called in. “Bill, Jeb, Kail, do you read me? We just saw what happened and we got someone from the comms K team to talk you.”

The familiar voice of Caden from mission control cut out as a new voice cut in.  “Hey, I’m Brady from the comms K team. We’ve been studying records from the old Kraken attacks, seeing what happened in each one and trying to figure out why it happened. We’ve been observing the recent launches and realized that the rockets now are starting to have the kraken playground attributes from spacecraft of old. We decided we needed to do something about it. We built a self-learning A.I. meant to view what happens and tries to figure out where the kraken is. That’s why the comms satellites you launched were so overpowered, they were for tracking the kraken. And you need a lot of power to see into the 8th dimension enough to track it. But we forgot to tell the company that constructed the way the satellites were released to be careful, that’s why the kraken attacked, now if you can j…”

Brady went silent, after a couple of seconds Jeb burned himself from the edge of Kerbins sphere of influence into a deorbit trajectory. The smaller 2.5m poodle engine was the most efficient engine the ksc had until those (crock 3) main stage engines were produced, which beat the poodles isp of 350 by a good 80 at 430 isp.

The poodle was attached to a 2.5m fuel tank that was just a light gray. Then the coned shaped command pod with an extra-large parachute on top, with a heat shield and decoupler below.

About 30 seconds after Brady cut out, he sounded on the radio again. “Bill, Jeb, the last kraken attack gave the satellites just enough data to Track the planetary Krak…”

Brady was cut off by Kail. “WAIT, THERE’S MORE!?!?!?” Brady understood why Kail was so astonished.

“Yes Kail, there’s more, there’s the planetary kraken, the interplanetary kraken and the deep space kraken. Each with control over their area of 3rd dimensional space. Anyway, I’ve got to warn you, the planetary kraken is circling you. Between the fuel tank and the engine, there’s an experimental reaction control system, using ball bearings in the gyroscope rings and connectors, the satellites say that the kraken likes your ball bearings, if they spin to fast, which is you making an adjustment using more than 23.1% of the reaction control system’s power. Then the kraken will attack agai…”

Just then, Jeb knocked into the control stick while reaching for a pencil to write it down, making the reaction control system use 54% of its power. The craft started vibrating and shacking like crazy, Bill saw rods and tiny steel balls with other parts of the R.C.S. flying through the craft, going through the metal and insulation of the command module without ever touching it.

Jeb detached the fuel tank from the command pod, leaving only the command pod, parachute and heat shield. But it was too late, they were now shooting towards Kerbin at over 6,000km/s. They only had about 10 seconds until they smashed through the atmosphere and probably not the ground, because they would have disintegrated by then. For those 10 seconds, all Bill saw was Jeb, the pencil, and a small brown glint outside. 2 seconds from reentry, still 12,000km away.

He saw Kail, he had been ripped from the command pod during the kraken attack that sent them to this fate, and had gotten stuck outside with the tip of his boot clipped through the command pod. Reentry, a fireball bigger then the moon they passed on the way down, shining brighter than anything before, then just black.

The shockwave, in the shape of a raindrop, was in a dark, black light, turning the 10km area around it into a pitch-black ball of nothing. The air, the waves, the ground doing nothing but the normal around the path of the black shape, stopped by a wall of pure energy. Descended through the atmosphere, into the water and through the planet itself in only the briefest of milliseconds with no resistance.

There was a much smaller black raindrop of death that split off, what was left of Kails body. It quickly turned into a “normal” giant fireball and burned up halfway through the atmosphere (the way to go if you ask Jeb).

After that there was silence. Air rushed in to fill the gap as water did the same. After hitting the water the shockwave dissipated except for what was right below the craft. As water rushed in to fill the lack of it, at the ocean floor there was just a 3m hole all the way through the planet. A bright light on the other side of Kerbin as the heat shield shot through the atmosphere and into space.

The command pod, giving all its kinetic energy to the heat shield, slowed down to the point of stopping in the middle of the ocean 2km down, still burning so hot as to fall through the water with little resistance. As the heat melted the rock in the hole and it closed below, with the command pod so hot to melt the sea floor 200 meters away from it, it created a flume of water vapor 80 meters across from the outstanding heat. Then the craft and the water around it, suddenly cooled. The water rushing in to fill the gap, and the craft floated to the surface.

After several hours, the coast guard found the crew module.  When they opened the hatch, they found Bill and Jeb still alive. They expected the Starlite they coated the craft with to have strange properties, but nothing like this.

After dumping some water on him, Bill woke up, he then asked the name of the kerbal who just poured water on him.  “Bryant” the kerbal responded. 

“Bryant, he, e, e, ya know that one mountain resort condo place?” Bill asked, kind of laughing.

“Yes sir, I’ve heard of it.” Bryant replied.

“Can you get their number for me?” Bill requested

“Why?” Bryant asked.

“I think I’m going to retire.” Bill replied, satisfied with his life and just ready to relax for the rest of it, with his wife and Jeb next door.

Although, he could have to wait a while for Jeb; because Jeb loves to fly and Bill didn’t doubt he’d go up there and do it again. He looked over and saw the engineering chip still on the side of the craft, albeit a little crisp, it had recorded every stat from every part on the craft that was launched. With that knowledge, he wanted to see where kerbal-kind would go. And, of course, the mission log explained all of what happened. And that was the end of that story.

The End


And what happened to the potato Dillon packed? 

Well now,















your talkin to ‘em.

Edited by rockets-don't-make-toast
had to take out my real name.
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