The NULL Solution = Episode 97

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The NULL Solution = Episode 97

…On November 3rd 2054, before the sun sets on Idaho, Chasin Hedley is declared a landslide winner and eventually becomes a beloved #52…

Lake Pend Oreille (Idaho) sunset by Chip Phillips

“What do we tell the “Bassett Hound”? She and her lapdogs are panicking bigtime. Election Day is next week and even the Republican candidate is screaming for answers.”

“Then it is time we tilt things in our favor. Let’s have Francine go public with that “secret project” we’ve been working on.” The wheels are turning inside Gus’s head. “You guys remember “The Wrath of Khan” don’t you? Life created on a supposed lifeless planet by Kirk’s son – the Genesis Project. Why don’t we claim that we are behind the greening of Mars… nobody but the Chinese has seen the building, so who’s to call us a liar?”

“We need what’s his name – that retired Navy Seal to win the election, that’s for sure. Another four years of Bassett equals exactly no good years for us.”

Link to Wikipedia

“That would be Lt. Chasin Hedley! First it was your eyesight, then math and now your short-term memory; I am detecting a disturbing trend.”

“Trend-schmend. Aren’t you going to turn 40 next year?” Roy remembers adopting two orphaned teenagers nearly a quarter-century ago. “My love of this country and expectations for this planet is the only tendency I am aware of. If we give Chasin the scoop on Mars and stand behind him with the “facts”, old Harper Lea won’t know what hit her. Her campaign won’t have time to adjust!”

“Precisely.”

— And so went the Presidential Election of 2054. On November 3rd, before the sun sets on Idaho, Chasin Hedley is declared a landslide winner and eventually becomes a beloved #52, as it goes. The NASA version of Mars’ evolution was bought hook, line & sinker by the American public. Who else on Earth could prove differently? A very, very late October surprise that bleeds into November takes down Harper Lea Bassett, when every single poll had her leading, leading into that fateful week; Dewey beats Truman revisited.

For the folks at GLF it is a passing victory. Former Lieutenant Hedley is indeed a friend to NASA, as long as he agrees to keep war away from the “final frontier”. He is made aware of the sordid truths surrounding Mars, but the issue fades into the background. Out of sight, out of mind is the prescribed idiom of the day.

The citizens of the world who own a Ronco 3000 are few and far enough in between.

Only Gus McKinney and a couple Chinese astronauts have seen Mars close up.

Nada peep from the Chinese.


The NULL Solution =

Episode 97


page 98

The NULL Solution = Episode 96

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The NULL Solution = Episode 96

…Prez Roy sees the situation getting out of hand in a hurry, “We are lucky that China is too proud to admit failure.”…

CHAPTER NINE

Phantasmic

 

Related image

Golden Age of Space

“It is getting to the point where I cannot trust what I am seeing anymore.”

Even in this new golden age of space, the human eye is still the gateway to what the rest of the body considers real and true. With life expectancies rocketing past 100, the complexity of vision is a barrier to the fountain of youth. Squinting, blinking, rubbing and untrusting; those are the choices when, seeing is not believing.

“I am 98.797 % sure I saw another spacecraft snooping around Mars. That other 1.30 tells me I’m wrong, because it is gone.”

“That would be 1.203 Crip,” corrects Fletcher Fitch.

“See, now it’s my math that’s going south!”

“Are the Chinese still out there?” Gus McKinney wonders. He has been too busy lately to notice.

“Yes and none too happy I hear.”

“Thanks to our SOL Nonproliferation Policy!”

“Yes. We do not need them zooming about, doing what they do best.”

“Copycats?”

“Copy that Gussy.”

“Were you able to get a fix on the bogie?”

Fitch fiddles with the long-range sensors, “No. It wasn’t Lorgan though, that’s all I know.”

Prez Roy sees the situation getting out of hand in a hurry, “We are lucky that China is too proud to admit failure. Their curiosity gets the best of them… about that jumbo building I mean. They had the same view as us, but they have their cheapo space telescope.”

“Speaking about cheapo telescopes, you don’t need much of one to see that the Red Planet is turning an earthly shade of green.” Gus parrots the buzz on the street.

“Damn that RONCO 3000! Every amateur astronomer has one.”

“3 easy payments of $39.95… but the naked eye can see the difference in hue… well maybe not yours Crip.”

“What do we tell the “Bassett Hound”? She and her lapdogs are panicking bigtime. Election Day is next week and even the Republican candidate is screaming for answers.”


The NULL Solution =

Episode 96


page 97

China 5*Star Tours – WIF Travel

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Must-See

Tourist Attractions

in China

The most populous nation on Earth, the world’s second largest country in terms of land area, and a land of incredible cultural, historical and archaeological riches, China is one of the world’s leading tourism destinations. With diverse geography and the legacies of historic civilization coupled with modern innovation, China’s must-see sites should be on any outdoor travel, archaeology, or ancient architecture enthusiast’s list.

In this account, we discover sites ranging from the ancient Terracotta Warriors unearthed in Xi’an Province to the unbelievable feat of modern innovation that is the glass walkway clinging to the side of Tianmen Mountain, take a closer look at the Great Wall, and the Tomb of a leading female emperor.

10. The Terracotta Warriors

Standing in rank with an assortment of weapons and horses, the Terracotta Warriors form a spectacular mausoleum of international renown that attracts over 1 million visitors each year. Named the 8th Wonder of the World by French Prime Minister Jacques Chirac in 1978, the artifact site was discovered buried under a field in Linton District, Xi’an, in the centrally located Shaanxi province in 1974 by a farmer and his workers who were in the process of digging a water well.

Created late in the third century BCE at the order of the first emperor of China, Emperor Qin Shi Huang, to guard him in the afterlife, the Terracotta Warriors consist of a magnificent array of earthen likenesses of men, chariots and horses, complete with weapons and detailed uniforms standing below the surface of the surrounding land. The sculptures are a little larger than life-sized and, incredibly, are individualized, showing different soldiers with distinct expressions, postures, and clothing and adornment details.

Perhaps eerily, the degree of individualization suggests that real soldiers were replicated, one by one. Hundreds of Terracotta soldiers have been meticulously unearthed and preserved or restored to high standards. Currently, teams of archaeologists are working to unearth large new sections of standing ranks. Four distinct pits are known, three of which have been excavated to a significant degree, while the fourth has not yet been unearthed. It is thought that an entire replica of the ancient City of Xi’an may exist in the emperor’s tomb located near the warrior pits.

 9. The Forbidden City (Beijing)

A prime destination for visitors despite its name, the Forbidden City is now open for public viewing of ancient, intricate and colorful imperial buildings that bring the ancient world to life in China’s capital, Beijing. Upon arrival, one will be faced with building after building amongst expansive squares, defined by traditional Chinese architecture constructed with fine south China jungle wood and Beijing marble. The Phoebe zhennan wood came from a tree sufficiently rare as to be outside the price range of all except ancient Chinese royalty.

Considered the definitive Chinese architectural accomplishment, this largest of palatial complexes on the planet originated in the years 1406 to 1420, serving as the ancient seat of Chinese government from the Ming up to the end of the Qing Dynasty. Built with the labor of over 1 million workers, the Forbidden City was so named due to the requirement for the Emperor’s permission to be given for anyone coming into or out of the city. Now, the preserved and extensively restored splendor of the Forbidden City attracts a whopping 14 plus million visitors per year, prompting concerns over the level of use of the site. The Forbidden City represents that greatest set of preserved ancient wooden buildings in the world, now recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

8. The Giant Wild Goose Pagoda

Rising from the grounds of the Da Ci’en Temple complex grounds in Southern Xi’an, Shaanxi province, the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda dates back to 652 at the time of the Tang Dynasty. Accessible for a modest fee, the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda is a marvel of Chinese architecture with an iconic and commanding appearance. A World Heritage Site, the tower offers spectacular views of the city of Xi’an from the top, a panorama mixing ancient Buddhist architecture with modern buildings. The pagoda was erected to contain Buddhist artifacts brought from India to China by the highly regarded Chinese Buddhist translator and traveler, Xuanzang. According to legend, the name comes from the story of a wild goose falling from the sky at the spot to provide food for monks who had prayed for a meal.

Originally built from rammed earth, a construction method not generally known for being earthquake resistant, the structure collapsed in a 1556 earthquake before being rebuilt taller and stronger at the direction of China’s only female Emperor, Empress Wu Zetian. The rebuilt Giant Wild Goose Pagoda incorporated 5 additional stories, for a total of 10 stories.Yet, this tall structure was too high in relation to its stability and 3 stories simply toppled off, leaving the present day 7-story building that reaches a height of 210 feet. Reachable by a short walk from Da Yan Ta station on line three of the Xi’an Metro, the tower is built of brick with an interior winding staircase that matches the square shape of the building, fashioned from wood.

7. The Temple of Heaven (Beijing)

 A mysterious looking circular building, the Temple of Heaven in Beijing was constructed in the year 1420 AD by Emperor Zhu Di of the Ming Dynasty, which spanned 1368-1644, and subsequently used into the Qing Dynasty of the years 1644-1911. The location of temple construction, the Royal Garden, had been used for Heaven worship from the beginning of the Ming dynasty. The largest sacrificial building constructed in Chinese history, the Temple of Heaven and its grounds cover an area even larger than the already enormous Forbidden City. Designed to represent mystical laws and principles of cosmology, the temple was a place where Heaven itself was worshiped during the Winter Solstice, when prayers for a bountiful harvest were offered.

The Temple complex consists of an area of 3,529,412 square yards and was deliberately made larger than the Forbidden City due to a prohibition on Chinese emperors living in a dwelling place of greater size than the construction dedicated to Heaven. The Emperor was regarded as the Son of Heaven, according to ancient Chinese culture, and a representative. Two times per year, the Emperor and his imperial accompany-ers would camp in the complex to appeal to Heaven in hopes of successful harvests. The spectacular and iconic Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests is built upon a three-tiered marble base and spans 118 feet in diameter with a height of just over 125 feet. The other main elements of the site include the Imperial Vault of Heaven, a circle shaped building with one gable, while the Circular Mound Altar is an enormous set of concentric circles, the largest spanning just over 229 feet. The 360 balustrades symbolize the 360 degrees of heaven, which was seen representing the roundness of heaven as viewed in traditional Chinese culture.

6. Qianling Mausoleum (Resting Place of China’s Female Emperor)

Originally just a concubine in the harem of Tang Dynasty Emperor Taizong, Wu Zeitan (624-705) took a spectacular rise to power that interrupted the Tang Dynasty once she declared her own Dynasty, a reign that would span from 690 to 705. Upon the death of Emperor Taizong om 649, Wu became an increasingly high ranking and influential concubine of his son, born Li Zhi, later becoming Emperor Gaozong. Having gained the favor of the Emperor, she became Empress Consort and through a serious of largely disputed but clearly brutal purges of rivals, established herself as Empress Regent, equivalent to the male title Emperor. In this role, she was to become the only recognized female Emperor of China in history. Her strict and aggressive but effective reign constituted the Zhou Dynasty, spanning from 690-705, interrupting the Tang Dynasty that began in 618 and ended in 907.

After a serious of aggressive military campaigns and spectacular construction projects completed at her direction, Wu Zetian weakened and died in December 705 at age 80 or 81. Wu Zetian is buried in a shared tomb in the spectacular Qianling Mausoleum, which is seen as the number one Chinese royal tomb and known as the only tomb containing the bodies of multiple emperors in China. Just 53 miles northwest of Xi’an, the Tang dynasty tomb complex was completed in 684. Subjected to numerous attempts at robbery over 1,200 years, the mausoleum is a guarded artifact that must be kept shut under Chinese law. The site is dramatic with vast gardens, walkways, and statues amongst panoramic mountain views, with two huge stone steles commissioned by Wu herself. One offers a rich tribute to her deceased husband, Emperor Gaozong (Li Zhi), but mysteriously, the other stele, commissioned for herself, is completely blank.

5. The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China steadily extends across mountains and valleys, crawling up seemingly impossible grades while maintaining its grand structural integrity and a consistent appearance. A wonder of the world of paramount significance and iconic status, the Great Wall of China as it currently stands is primarily a Ming Dynasty relic of impressive defensive architecture. Attracting 10 million visitors per year, the wall is unfortunately facing significant impact pressures, yet conservation measures are challenging given the wall’s inter-jurisdictional span. Readily accessible from Beijing by a short bus ride, the wall spans multiple cities and provinces across China, with a length of 13,170 miles and numerous access points. To put that size in perspective, it is approximately half of the length of the equator in its extent. The most visited point of the wall, the Badaling section, received 63,000,000 million visitors in 2001, with visitor flow reaching 70,000 per day at peak times.

Perhaps the most surprising fact about the Great Wall is the fact that there is no single Great Wall from any particular time. Instead, the Great Wall is a combination of construction efforts from different dynasties and in different places. The 7th century BC saw the start of construction efforts intended to keep out raids from nomadic tribes from the steppes of Eurasia, while the famous first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang constructed massive sections of wall from 220 to 206 BC. While famous, that wall is mostly gone, with the largest portion of the current wall dating from the Ming Dynasty of 1368 to 1644, constructed to resist Mongolian and Jurchen invasions. With massive wall bodies, flanking towards and battlements, the Great Wall looks like a cross between a castle and a wall, and it is also the project with the greatest ever cost to human life and effort.

4. The Coiling Dragon Path (Hunan Province)

Located on the bizarre looking Tianmen Mountain in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park within Hunan province, the Coiling Dragon Path is defined by an eerie glass-bottomed walkway attached to the side of the mountain as it extends in a curving pattern for 330 feet, 4,600 feet above sea level. Opened in the summer of 2016, a fully sheer drop lies below as the path is stuck to the side of the cliffs of the thumb-shaped peak, plunging hundreds of feet to the base sections of the mountain below. In replacing the more rudimentary and also terrifying wooden path, the glass-bottomed path allows tourists to look directly beneath their feet at the ground far below as they advance along the side of the mountain on the impossibly curving glass walkway, brushing against the vegetation of the vertical mountainside.

Just 5 feet in width, the Coiling Dragon Path is accompanied by additional dizzying attractions, including a spectacular record breaker in the form of the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge, which is the world’s highest and longest glass-bottomed bridge. This bridge has been subjected to bizarre safety tests including being cracked with a sledgehammer, after which a car was driven across. The glass-bottomed bridge spans 1,410 feet, with a height of 984 feet above the floor of the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon that it spans. Adding to the bizarre and stunning visuals of the site is a 431-foot high hole in Tianmen Mountain known as Tianmen Cave, accessible by a crazily winding road with 99 sharp bends that inches its way up the slopes.

3. The Bund (Shanghai)

A complex of enormous colonial European buildings that are seemingly out of place, the Bund in Shanghai is comprised of 52 colonial buildings that include Baroque, Gothic, Neo-Classical, and Renaissance architectural styles, and the most extensive set of Art-Deco construction on the planet. Despite their foreign origin and appearance, the buildings of the Bund are seen as forming the definitive landmark of Shanghai, extending along the waterfront to include spectacular churches, hotels, and former government buildings. The buildings include trading and colonial posts of countries including the UK, France, Italy, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, and Belgium, and the consulates of Russia and Britain.

Understood to be invaders by China, European colonists and soldiers engaged in conflicts that led to significant destruction of Chinese heritage property and cultural artifacts and imposition of trade and territorial concessions, most notoriously through the Opium Wars, where England declared war against China in 1839 in the First Opium War. As part of colonial settlement, the Bund served as a headquarters for enforcing trade and territorial concessions up the end of China’s final imperial dynasty, the Qing Dynasty (CE 1644-1911).

Viewed by China as unreasonable and labeled the “Unequal Treaties,” the concessions fell apart during and subsequent to the events of WWII. Closed down in 1949 as a result of Chinese displeasure with what was seen as a symbol of Western colonialism, the site is now viewed as a prime tourist destination and economic engine. Attracting scores of visitors each year, the buildings have been subject to extensive historical restoration efforts by the Chinese government and form one of the most visited tourism sites in China. Now, uses for the buildings include hosting museums, hotels and corporate centers.

2. Mount Huashan

The 7,067-foot Mount Huashan, Shaanxi Province, offers a heart-stopping and unusual hike consisting of boardwalk sections strapped to the sides of the rising peaks and secured to each other with giant “staples.” A potentially dangerous “geotourism” site, the mountain rises dramatically above the surrounding foothills and farmlands. Stunning panoramic perspectives and firsthand views of sheer drops of unimaginable heights can be seen from the shockingly precarious chain hold and rickety wooden plank pathway called the “Plank Road” on the South peak of the mountain, which is known as “The Monarch of Huashan.” The plank road appears awkwardly rigged to the sides of the mountain and sometimes tilted towards it on an angle. At the end of the plank road, the “path” transforms to mere foot pegs jutting out of the mountain and footholds carved into the rock.

In fact, the sky walkways onsite are more akin to an assisted rock climbing experience where you had better hang on for your life with the help of the required harness than an actual developed “path.” Considered one of China’s five great mountains and a holy site dating back to the construction of a second century Daoist temple, the Monarch of Huashan has many sheer cliffs and a stout shape that may recall a giant peg or even a barnacle as it protrudes far above the surrounding peaks, reaching a staggering height of 7,070 feet. Mount Huashan has been labelled “The most dangerous hike in the world,” with widely disputed claims of high death tolls but an undeniably real risk of danger. Due to the popularity of Mount Huashan as an extreme hiking destination, concerns of crowding have become a significant problem, leading to numerous visitors choosing to climb at night.

1. Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding

Not truly a bear, the Giant Panda is an icon not only of Chinese wildlife and biological diversity but a symbol of nature conservation globally and the logo of the World Wildlife Fund.

Considered vulnerable with a population of only 1,864 pandas remaining in the wild, the Giant Panda is restricted in range to mountainous regions of western China where they naturally live, breed, and forage in bamboo forests, subsisting almost 100 percent upon this gigantic grass species. Home to 83 pandas, the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding is located at the north end of Chengdu, the sub-provincial capital of Sichuan, a province known for spicy food, mountains, and bamboo forests on which the critically endangered Giant Panda depends. The majority of the Giant Panda range is in Sichuan province, with smaller populations in Shaanxi province and Gansu province.

The birthplace of 124 new pandas as of 2008, the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding started through the rescue of six pandas in the 1980s and aspires to be recognized as a world class destination for research, education, and international tourism. The site is readily accessible from downtown Chengdu by bus or vehicle but enjoys a wilderness setting. Awarded the categorization of “Class 4a National Tourist Attraction,” the center attracts an incredible 3.5 million tourists per year intent on viewing the pandas and seeing the breeding facilities, handler interactions, and surrounding lush forested hills. The site also has facilities to enable the gradual release of pandas into the wild, and conducts crucial fieldwork projects to research the ecology, conservation, and life history of pandas in the wild as well as pioneering panda conservation breeding techniques.


China Sightseeing Highlights –

WIF Travel

The NULL Solution = Episode 95

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The NULL Solution = Episode 95

…The other player with just as many chips on the table is Ekcello and he is experiencing disappointment déjà vu

Michael Godard (poker/gambling artwork)

— Deke McKinney is a concerned onlooker, having significant skin in the game and he has had a front row seat for the entire forth and back. He is afraid to ask a question that he already knows the answer to, but does so, “Do you have my family Dad?”

“No Deker. We, I should say me, decided to stop by Mars on the way. Just like a stray steer back on the ranch, we ran into an electric fence. The planet is regenerating or reinventing or something and I just planned to take a peek… and BOOM-SNAP here we are.”

“Shouldn’t we give it another try? You aren’t paid by the hour.”

“TSF has been knocked offline. I guess going in reverse jammed the throttle.”

The other player with just as many chips on the table is Ekcello and he is experiencing disappointment déjà vu ; Cerella’s “kidnapping” and now a botched reunion. Only his flat-line demeanor keeps him from overreacting, “How long will it take to reinstate the Time-Space-Fold technology?”

“I’m not sure exactly. It may depend on whether the designers are still around to make the repairs.”

“We abandoned physical space travel long ago. The elders in charge of physically collapsing the fabric of space exist only in our memories.”

“Didn’t they leave any schematics behind, like diagrams, mechanics, formulas or theorems?”

“I will need to attempt something that has never have been done…”

“… Like getting your hands dirty?”

“I speak of contacting the spirit of the builders. We on Eridanus believe that a Gifted spirit lives on. I will convene the keepers of the Olde Language and customs.”

“And maybe between the 4 of us, we can figure it out.” Impossible is not a word in the McKinney dictionary.

Make that 5. “Don’t you dare forget about me?” Celeste may be a Bergestrom by birth, but that McKinney doggedness has rubbed off, along with heaping helping of spatial dynamics. After all, it was her expertise that helped get them to Eridanus, lo those many years ago.

Question:

What has five heads & no clue?

Answer:

One smart ass, one chip off the old block, one Null, one transmigrating matriarch & one worried daddy

 

 It all falls into the category of Fuzzy mathematics.

The NULL Solution =

Episode 95

page 96 (end ch. 8)

The NULL Solution = Episode 94

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The NULL Solution = Episode 94

…There was supposed to be a small colony on Mars, not a freaking skyscraper…

‘I want to see what Tycho looks like after all these years,” Sam suggests. 

As soon as they can sync the viewer with the geographical location of the Plain of Xanthe, it is clear that the neighborhood has changed. Not only are there clouds and oceans and vegetation, there is a towering structure dwarfing the tiny lander that once called Space Colony 1 its home base.

Sampson McKinney, formerly of Earth, Mars and now Eridanus, is as confused as his the Null next to him, “I thought you told me this planet was barren.”

“It was when I left,” he claims. He has to wonder why Celeste did not leave a clue about her hyperphysical trip back. Surely Crip would have mentioned a little thing like a colony on Mars. A friendly heads-up would have been nice.

Sure as Mars soil is red, a mile-high colossus rises up on the spot where humans once tread.

“Something like that would take centuries for Earth to build. There was supposed to be a small colony on Mars, not a freaking skyscraper. I wonder if the Chinese are responsible, they have always had money to burn?” He contemplates possible explanations.

Just as they get close enough to magnify their view, something strange, yet familiar pops into the scene.

“0” Skaldic has seen it before and so has Sampson, if only for seconds at a time.

Reliably so, it gives off a reflection.

“Harmonia,” reads Sampson.

#Harmonia# reads Skaldic in the Olde Language.

Twice read, once gone.

“Why doesn’t that surprise me? I saw that thing over Selljunk way.”

“I saw it out by our olde home world,” to each his own.

The recent visitors to the vicinity have stopped watching where they were going. The planned descent to the surface is met with a blinding rebuke.

The next thing you know, they are found back in Eridanus orbit; SNAP!

“Holy crap!” After recovering from unconsciousness, Sampson has his say.

Skaldic points to the same viewscreen that recently held pixels of the New Mars. It reads instead:

The Null runs the riddle past a comprehensive Eridanian database. It does not compute.

The Earthling utilizes an Earthly version, with the same results.

Nothing about the last few moments seems to add up.

Fuzzy math or bad Dr. Seuss,” Sam summarizes, “We are a full 180° off course, emptyhanded and confused.”

“That is not all Sampson McKinney.”

“Please Skaldy, I can’t take anymore.”

“The TSF drive is unavailable.”

“Swell. You can add going nowhere fast to the list.”

All in a ½ day’s work.


The NULL Solution =

Painting by MICHELE Z FARRIER

Episode 94


page 95

The NULL Solution = Episode 93

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The NULL Solution = Episode 93

…It’s everybody for himself out here, unless it gets too close to home,  in which case NIMBY is how we on Earth phrase it…

— In the realm of sightseeing, doing so in space is unrewarding. Be it at the snail’s pace of SOLx1 or TSF compression, there is next to nothing to really see. The Orion Nebula is quite spectacular from a distance, but from a drive-by view, you cannot tell the mass from the gas.

During the McKinney NEWFOUNDLANDER stowaway voyage of some 4+ years, Sampson and Co. were quite literally bored stiff. Much of this perception is due to never coming within a million miles of anything.

At TSF {Time-Space-Fold}, this pair never comes within a million miles, only infinitely faster; boredom at a blur.

But for a Nullian space novice, the hallmarks are wide-eyed and many. A NSO {near Related imagespace object} as common as a comet is cause for wonder. Not long after spotting one such icy rocketeer, Skaldic still had to wait hours for it to get close enough to analyze.

“Comets are cosmic leftovers Skaldy, not a danger to anyone, although if one would collide with an inhabited planet, it would no longer be inhabited. The odds of that are incalculably scant though.”

“Scant like a Null, riding in a spacecraft, headed for a distant star?”

“Come to think of it, make sure that comet isn’t headed to Epsilon Eridani.  NIMBY is how we on Earth phrase it. It’s everybody for himself out here, unless it gets too close to home… like that is – that is.” Sam points to the viewscreen and the image of Mars.

They have entered the influence of Earth’s star and as luck would have it, the Red Planet is less than .0000005 degrees off their course to Earth. “I am going to swing by some old stomping grounds while we have the chance, for Auld Lang Syne.”

Not that Skaldic would mind. It will be something new to look at and he has heard the legend of how and where the McKinneys were whisked away aboard the ancient

Tycho

Eridanian Explorer. History is fun, unless you don’t like history, in which case you get an F for a grade.

“Slowing down to .45 SOL,” Sampson informs the latest edition of the accidental tourist, “crossing Neptune’s orbit – no other planet in our path. I want to see what Tycho looks like after all these years.”


The NULL Solution =

Episode 93


page 94

The NULL Solution = Episode 92

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The NULL Solution = Episode 92

…That leaves me with a handful of nothing…

Kiddo & Daddio will make a good team!” Sampson lobbies for his son.

“Yes to a co-pilot. No to Deke.”

Ekcello places limits on his magnanimity.

“Deimostra then; father and daughter can dance through the stars!”

“Not from the seeds of your loins –

  1. Deimostra needs the companionship of her mother
  2. Deke will serve as a sentinel to monitor your progress to Earth from here on Eridanus. 

– I call him a “sentinel” because Deke views the Great Expanse with a reasonable eye, not merely focused on Earth.”

“That leaves me with a handful of nothing. Can we build a robot in such a short time? I prefer something that lives, breathes and likes to go fast!”

“Skaldic the Null,” he prescribes plain and simple.

“Skaldy?” Sam had not given his new-ish pal a thought. He likes the way Skaldic thinks for sure, but the day “Gifted Daddy” gives him the keys to the family car, well this will go down as a red-letter day. “Yeah, Skaldy has been itching to experience TSF, or anything to get out of this quagmire you call an atmosphere.”

“I have instructed Deke to preset a heading into Defender’s triangulation. You will not be able to stray more than .0000005° off the designated route. Your purpose is to locate both Cerella and her child and transport them home, where they belong.”

“So Deke was in on this before you even asked me? He didn’t so much as give me a clue what he was doing in the navigation array… said he was checking on the details of our trip out to the Selljunks, the rascal!”

“It is Seljuk and they are our ally.”

“I know, I know. That Chasonn is an alright dude; a little paranoid, but alright for an alien.”

“It is you, Sammy Mac, who is the alien. We have known of them long before you showed up at the Spaceflight Expository.”

“Touché old man, we are new at this space travel thing, but we’re fast learners, not to mention “good aliens” to have as friends.”

“Skaldic the Null will join us soon. He is also a fast learner, as you say. You will show him the way of space. And remember, you must go undetected on Earth, excepting the ones for which you care for most, the ones you speak of incessantly.”


The NULL Solution =

Episode 92


page 93