THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 133
…Hey buddy, you’re out in real space, you better be prepared for the unknown…
— With the condition of Braden King weighing him down, the well-being of the Space Family McKinney both here and on Mars occupying its regular space, and his unattended new relationship with Francine Bouchette bouncing around the lonely corners of his heart, Roy is forced to put those on back burners to deal with the not-so-clear and present realities that reside in that yawning dark space between the Moon and the Red Planet.
There at the launch facility he can speak directly to Cmdr. Rick Stanley, which is a luxury, considering the fractional parsecs of unknown-ities that surround the situation, “How are you doing young Rick?”
“We are just about ready to hit the hay for a month or so. Without a night and day as guideposts, it has been hard to get any rest at all.”
“As long as we get paid overtime… sure thing Boss!”
“I have a meeting with Global 9 Insurance and I’ll see what they cover, but for now I need for you change your heading, enough to take you a couple thousand miles to the right hand side of your flight plan and stick to that course until I tell you to go back to the original.”
“Afraid-y? We ain’t scared of nothing out here, ‘cept asteroids and hemorrhoids.”
“a-f-r-i-d-i and do not sit on this. I want you to hotwire it into the circuits of that
bucket of titanium you are driving.”
“This looks like a combination of an energy damper and electron scrambler. Is this a weapon or a shield and why are you being cryptic?” These defensive alterations have the rescue mission captain wondering. “And what about the bogey we’re trying to shake?”
Roy wants Rick to stick to the basics, so as not to keep them awake for the final two months of their mission. “And one more thing, tell your buddy AL to wake you guys up if he senses anything else manmade out there.”
AL is the generic, but contiguously used name for the on-board annoyingly expressive interactive computer systems that are built-in to every NASA spacecraft.
“Don’t blame it on anyone here Rick. I think AL is doing his own evolutionary augmentations; can you blame him after losing his brother the Chronicle. They are all interconnected you know.””
“You talk about AL like he is a life form.”
“Hey buddy, you’re out in real space, you better be prepared for the unknown. Is an evolving computer so unbelievable? No it’s not, so work with AL… and keep your powder dry.”