THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 235
…This is no ordinary day and the electric atmosphere is equal to the achievement…
On this day, the 9th of January 2051, Roy Crippen is sending his stepsons, with the legendary name of space travel, McKinney, beyond the reach of known distance and its mythical barrier of speed; SOL.
Roy had long ago resolved his issues of guilt surrounding that other pair of McKinneys, yet he will not be able to free himself from the responsibility about to be heaped upon him with this day’s foray; the exploration of the Black Frontier.
The Black Frontier, so named because space is a vacuum filled with invisible dark matter and light-catching objects scattered sparingly about, is about to have a speeding projectile slip through its tranquility. And nothing but perfection can be accepted. Such is the margin of error.
“The fusion units are online President Crippen,” reports a technician, to a man who longs to be called “just plain Roy”.
“Are the cooling sensors set to maximum Hadley? The vacuum induction will be engaged when they reach 275 miles and we cannot have hyper-generation in the meantime.”
That technician, the engineers, the pilots, and everybody in the room know this, but again, he is leaving nothing to chance. The unmanned test was a colossal success and that exact result is to be repeated.
Three hours later, arriving at runway one-niner, simultaneously with the rising sun, Deke & Gus McKinney step out of the IFOS turbotransport looking alert and wired for the day of their lives. This is no ordinary day and the electric atmosphere is equal to the achievement.
The press/dignitary area is stuffed to overflow with anyone having a handheld PC, camera or microphone (all-in-one these days), even though they will only be witness to the SLAV escorting Stellar Explorer out of eyeshot. Ironically, without the aid of super-duper slow-mo time-lapse, there will be no recorded “footage” once they engage the vacuum induction.