• Published 16th Apr 2014
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Horizon - Nagmeister



Five kerbals go on an interstellar mission and run into a planet of colorful ponies.

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Dreamwatcher

Luna flew over the landing site, ready to make her appearance known at a moment's notice should need be. However, as it did not seem the need would arise anytime soon, she idly circled overhead, waiting for that last Jebediah Kerman to finally fall asleep. Unlike many times when she did something like this, this was not a royal mission or an intervention to help somepony; instead, tonight she just wanted to see what dreams ran through the heads of these little Kerbals. After circling for a few hours, she noticed that Jebediah Kerman had finally fallen asleep, outside next to his “lander.” She came to a rest on the ground about ten meters from the lander, and slowly walked up to Jebediah and touched her horn to his head.

(Eight Years Ago)

“Icarus, this is Jebediah Kerman. The sunshield's been repaired; you can realign the ship now and disengage the secondary shield.”

“Roger that Jeb,” said an unknown voice unlike any of the three kerbals she had observed tonight. “Rotation restored and secondary sunshield retracted.”

“Orbital insertion around Moho in seventeen minutes,” said another, feminine sounding voice.

“Roger that, Kassandra. Entering the airlock now.”

“All systems are go, we are ready for burn.”

Suddenly, a robotic voice interjected. “Warning: Sunshield Panel 583D fault detected.”

“Damn!” swore Jebediah Kerman. “There must have been a fault with the replacement panel. Status report!”

“Temperature on panel is 80 degrees higher than it should be.

“That's survivable, right?”

“Yes, but not for long. At this rate, we'll barely be able to get behind Moho before it melts.”

“So one of us has to go out and fix it.”

“But the secondary sunshield won't hold long enough for one of us to go out and come back!”

“So one of us isn't coming back.”

“Captain!”

“Either one of us burns, or we all burn! There's no other choice!”

“I'll go.” said the voice Luna had heard called Kassandra.

“Kassandra, wait! You don't have to do this!”

“If I don't do this, we're all dead. You said it yourself. Let me go, Jebediah. It's our only chance for survival.”

Luna saw the usually stoic expression that always was on Jeb's face start to melt. “I accept your decision. Just... be careful out there. We'll all remember you.” he said, turning away to hide the tears that started to pour down his face.

Luna saw the door on the side of the vessel open, and a single spacesuited figure come out. She saw it maneuver into the front of the shield. She heard the robotic voice saying steadily increasing numbers. She realized what was going on.

“This is Kassandra, the panel appears to be cracked. Beginning panel replacement procedure.”

“Suit temperature fifty degrees centigrade, and rising.”

“It's getting a bit warm in here, but I've got the temporary cover on and the panel removed. Replacement panel 20% deployed.”

“Suit temperature sixty degrees. Lamp system sustaining heat damage.”

“Panel 30% deployed.”

“Temperature 70 degrees. Irreversable damage to lamp in thirty seconds, life support sustaining minor damage.”

“Panel 50% deployed, but stuck.”

“Get under the cover!”

Luna saw Kassandra deftly maneuver into the tight space between the temporary cover and the shield.

“Temperature 67 degrees.”

“Panel unstuck, but the cover's getting a bit too warm. I'm going to try use the back of my suit as a cover to keep it from getting too hot.”

“Kassandra, that's going to irreversably damage the life support system on the suit!”

“It's not like I'm going to use it again, anyway,” she said with a sliht hint of bitterness and sadness.

“Panel 70% deployed, suit temperature 90 degrees. Cooling system incapable of handling temperature; inner temperature thirty-five degrees.”

“Kassandra! The panel's fixed enough, get behind the shield.”

“I can't until the job's finished. I can't risk the lives of seven others to save my own.”

“Bill, go out and help her!”

“I'm sorry sir, but in this current state she can't reach the edge of the shield before the life support system fails and she dies of overheating.”

“Panel ninety percent deployed, suit temperature one hundred ten degrees. Communications equi....nt su....ing dama.....supp.....sably da.....o hope of su....”

“Kassandra?”

“I....rry Je....didn't ha.....like th....wanted to let y....that.....”

“Kassandra!”

“Panel 100% deployed. Suit temperature unknown. Survivability 0%. Suit status: presumed destroyed.”

Jebediah collapsed onto his knees in the artifical gravity of the control room. “Kassandra... no...”

Luna exited the dream, suddenly feeling extremely sorry for the poor kerbal. “At least this explains his commanding feeling and his desire to protect his crew; he doesn't want to have to go through this again...”

Wondering if anything had changed, she tapped his head again.

(TWELVE YEARS AGO)

Jebediah was on a massively different ship, about twice the size of the last one, heading out to a green planet she supposed to be Jool. “Approach nominal, predicted aerobraking velocity maximum 7 gees,” she heard a computer voice say.

“Computer, give flight diagnostics,” she heard him say.

“MET: 198:4:23:15. Radiation: 20 msv/s. Velocity:7.4 km/s. Time to encounter: 3 minutes.”

She saw Jebediah focus on a control panel, and mutter to himself, “Something's not right. It's probably nothing, but something just feels wrong. Well, back to work.” he said as he drifted into a corridor. Four days passed within a blink of an eye as the dream cut to the next major event.

“Time to aerobraking: 30 seconds. Time to periapsis: 70 seconds.”

She saw Jebediah sit at the captain's chair, oriented in a reentry position. She went through the central tunnel of the ship and saw an inflatable room with three of the other five crew members.

“Sidley, how about you try beat him next time?”

“Nah, Mildorf, you know that nobody can beat Rongun.”

Suddenly, a large clang reverberated through the ship. “What was that?” the three of them said at the same time.

An alarm started blaring, and on all the screens in the ship it said, “Structural failure on inflatable hab modules 3 through 7! Closing ports and disconnecting in three seconds. All crew please leave the afflicted modules.”

Sidley was the first one out of the module, followed by Mildorf. Just as Rongun was about to pass through, the doors instantly slammed shut, and the module was ditched to the inferno of atmospheric entry. To make matters worse, two of the afflicted modules held about half of the ship's life support; without it, they had nowhere near enough supplies to get everyone back to Kerbin. This was only realized after the ship inserted itself into high orbit over Jool; they had to cut the funeral ceremony for Rongun short because of this. They knew that something terrible was on the horizon, and, according to their calculations, they knew that they had only enough supplies for four kerbals to return to Kerbin. This meant that, of the five of them, one wouldn't be coming home. Jebediah was the first to volunteer; after all, his life was nowhere near as valuable as the lives of his four crewmates. However, Mildorf stopped him. “It's my fault that Rongun died,” he said. “I blocked his path while trying to squeeze through the door. I'm a murderer anyway; who cares if I die in the cold abyss of space or rotting in a prison cell back on Kerbin?”

Before anyone could stop him, Mildorf deftly maneuvered to the ship's airlock. He locked the door, removed the manual override circuit, and depressurized.

Luna was stunned at just how difficult and deadly Kerbal spaceflight could be. She though that, in the jovial nature of the crew, barely anything bad had happened in either of their pasts. Thinking that she had had enough, she removed her horn from Jebediah's head and entered the lander capsule.

She tried to see if anything similar was going through the minds of the other two, but all Bill had going on was sheep flying biplanes around in circles, while Bob's dream was of a deconstruction of the planet; he was drooling as he touched each layer and studied its composition intensely.

With her newfound revelation into the history of Captain Jebediah, she sent a subconscious message of consolation and flew off towards Canterlot Castle to lower the moon to allow the sun to rise.

Author's Note:

A bit of insight into Jebediah's past. Expect more to be revealed in future chapters, but for now I simply can't write anymore.