The NULL Solution = Episode 124

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The NULL Solution = Episode 124

…Once again, a member of the Space Family McKinney is stranded somewhere where he/she/they do not necessarily want to be…

“Let’s blow this juke joint!”

Rick understands the unusual Texan dialect used by his cohort. He also supports the sentiment by plying his skill to raising them up and out, “We will be taking leave of Mars’ gravitation in 2.5 minutes.”

“I think I’m going to tap into that NY Times Bestseller collection I brought along,” Gus proclaims. “Two books a week. I bet I can knock off 20 books before we get back.”

2 minutes later, it turns out Gus will be able to read a library’s worth of fiction. The Martian Mule comes to full stop, stranded on the threshold of space, like an ornament on a Christmas tree, sans a string or explainable cause.

Once again, a member of the Space Family McKinney is stranded somewhere where he/she/they do not necessarily want to be.

“Step on it Rick, what’s the deal?”

“If I were to hazard a guess, I’d say the Harmonia shield has now extended planet-wide.”

Roy Crippen and Fletcher Fitch, who have been on pins & needles, are currently faced with the ultimate conundrum.  Every single monitor at Galveston Launch reads the same bothersome image:

“I regret to inform you that the “Harmonia Query” is hereby & now a swinging door, boys.”

“We were afraid of that Crip. Shit and two equals eight!”

“No, 2 plus 1 equals 6. I know it’s a pain, but until we can solve the riddle, you have no choice but continue cataloguing the Mars environment.”

Fitch has estimated that they have enough food for a year. It appears that H2O will not be an issue, “The good news is that you can shut down the urine re-processor.”

“I suggest you work on that ^%@#&*g quiz as well. Maybe you can see some mathematical association we haven’t. It seems Watson III cannot get past the arithmetic.”

“I can’t get past the fact that we fell into some sort of trap!”

“We’re all in this together. We all made the same mistake.”

“But y’all aren’t castaways.”

“Tom Hanks made it back, so will you.”


The NULL Solution =

Episode 124


page 123

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

The NULL Solution = Episode 87

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The NULL Solution = Episode 87

…I suspect the United States is attempting to monopolize Mars like they unsuccessfully tried to do with the moon…

Some things are better left unseen {like the Mars metamorphosis}.

The People’s Republic of China has been nosing around the subject of space travel, along with everybody else in the 1950s, but was never a serious contender in the race to the moon. Their focus was on population growth, or rather less of it.

Once the “one child” policy was firmly dictated, the China National Space Administration {CNSA} was formed in 1993. Up until the country filled to the brim with millionaires, China was more concerned with staking their part of a spatial claim and stratospheric spying than launching citizenry into space.

But the times they are a-changing. two pair of space boot tracks can be found {one new set seen removing the American flag} in the Sea of Tranquility, as well as the other five places on the Moon, not an insignificant feat. And recently they placed their dime-store version of Hubble out amongst Earth’s already crowded atmospheric rim. They claim to be watching stars form, but few believe it more than a veiled excuse to keep an eye on solar system goings on.

And just because their own rover and satellite are neutered {like everyone else’s}, no one can accuse them of being blind. Just as Roy feared, someone else has noticed the monkey business going on-on the once barren Red Planet; right up their alley…

“We are going to send our finest astronauts to explore what is happening to Mars,” Zhai Zhigang III, the Comrade General of CNSA, is dying to know, {like everybody else}. “I suspect the United States is attempting to monopolize Mars like they unsuccessfully tried to do with the moon.” He cannot hide his resentment.

Keep in mind that the Chinese knockoff of deep-space travel is akin to their cheap vinyl version of a Coach handbag; it looks the same, but it’s not. SOL technology has eluded their most skilled hackers, spies and thieves. Fitted with their best nuclear propulsion, it will take 2 months, 23 days, seven hours and 10 minutes to reach Mars in the “Year of the Rooster”. Surely they will crow loudly about thwarting those imperialistic space cowboy Americans. —

— 2 months, 23 days, seven hours and 10 minutes later, they encounter this:

我是如何与为何阻止你的方式

2 + 1 = 6

6  –  2 = 9

0  –  1 = 0

解决了什么和在哪里谁,你可以通过

or

Wǒ shì rúhé yǔ wéi hé zǔzhǐ nǐ de fāngshì

2 + 1 = 6

6  –  2 = 9

0  –  1 = 0

jiějuéle shénme hé zài nǎlǐ shuí, nǐ kěyǐ tōngguò

“Is this a cruel American joke?” The Chinese have always been good with numbers, but they soon find out that nothing adds up. “If we cannot gain the surface and find out what they have done or how they did it, we have wasted the Emperor’s time. Tell the commander of the mission that, ‘If you cannot solve the equations, you will return to Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in disgrace!’… and tell him I mean it.”

Never mind, that for the last four months, 11 days and too many minutes, those diabolical Americans have failed to solve the same numerical conundrum.

Do not tell them that however. Misery is best served dry, with a dash of frustration.


The NULL Solution =

Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center

Episode 87


page 88

The NULL Solution = Episode 85

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The NULL Solution = Episode 85

CHAPTER EIGHT

Fuzzy Math

Fuzzy Math by Sadie Benning

Pilot Gus McKinney will be on his own out in space, though in no uncertain terms is he to engage anyone/thing. “Go in, collect as much data as you can and get out – got it? Do not – no I forbid you to enter Mars atmosphere under any circumstances. Until we know exactly what is going down out there, we do not take chances.”

NASA photo

— And so it is, with mission guidelines clearly understood, that Gus takes Stellar Explorer out for some old fashioned seat-of-the-pants fact-finding. Just like when man landed on the Moon the first time. The very reason astronaut Armstrong had to jump off the ladder of the lander is because NASA expected the moon dust to be 18” thick not 3. In the same way as good as he is at flying at the speed-of-light, the new/old Mars may hold some surprises.

“No surprises yet Crip,” Gus closes in on the Red Planet quicker than a starving man filing a plate at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

“We show Lorgan on the dark side,” Fletcher Fitch reports, “oh wait…”

“… I see him,” he will be cautious this time, “and now I don’t. For a second there, I thought I saw a reflection of the United Nations… flags everywhere!”

“That old cow has been put to pasture years ago, Gussy.” Rancher/Prez Roy uses a Texas-sized analogy for the ineffective alliance {UN} of nations which the United States booted off its soil in 2025 unceremoniously, once political correctness was properly harnessed.

“Yeah, whatever, I saw what I saw and now I don’t. Nothing surprises me about that thing anymore.”

“Keep an eye on the alert screen just in case. SEx’s sensors ignore mirages.”

He is jolted by to a complete stop not long after the following message appears on the alert monitor:

I am the how & why that blocks your way

2 + 1 = 6

6 – 2 = 9

0 – 1 = 0

Solve the what where & who and you can pass through


The NULL Solution =

Episode 85


page 85

The NULL Solution = Episode 77

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The NULL Solution = Episode 77

…These are not ordinary times ahead for Earth or Mars…

In the time it takes to make it back to GLF and eventually Houston {they actually gain 5 hours}, there is much to discuss and even more to speculate.

— On the popular viral video show “Back from the Dead”, people are reunited with the recently resuscitated or presumed dead. Most all of the concerned parties are usually thrilled with the outcome.

— On reruns of the early century show/website Ancestery.com, folks discover their family tree, long lost relatives or relatives they didn’t know they had. Once again and most of the time they are thrilled about it.

— Like a tried and true recipe, a little of this and a pinch of that can make for a tasty result. Here is a questionable list of ingredients Gus & Crip come up with concerning a possible reunion:

  • How long would it take SEx to get to Mom & Dad?
  • Can we send a signal, now that we know what star system to look for?
  • Do you think Deke will come looking for Cerella?
  • How did she get to Earth and who brought her here and why?
  • Does the recent Lorgan sighting have anything to-do with this?
  • Can Cerella teach us the tricks her to hopscotch around the galaxy?
  • How do we break the news to whom and when?
  • Do you know what Mindy is cooking for supper?

The pair fights the Polar Hadley prevailing wind on the way back to Texas, so they choose a lower altitude to reprise of their path from southern Europe. The haste with which they came is tempered by the challenges they will soon confront.

These are not ordinary times ahead, as they find out after they land at GLF and Fletcher Fitch fills them in on the latest.

“This is the latest image from Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter 3.0 … and this is the one from 10 hours ago.”

“Is that a stratus cloud deck passing through?”

“Stratocumulus I am told and it contains .16 inches of evaporative moisture. There is even adiabatic cooling going on.”

“By “it”, do you mean atmosphere? Those levels would mirror what its climate was like – like before it lost “it”.”

“RR1 indicates it could be raining on the other side of the planet.” A team of Cal-Tech students sent Red Rover–Red Rover One to Mars as a prank 5 years ago. No one is laughing now.

“That’s a real blast from the past. Why is this happening now?”

“Unless Mother Nature has moved her headquarters, my guess is that Lorgan may be behind it,” Fitch surmises.

Roy remains a skeptic, “Why don’t we credit Lorgan with the Big Bang while we’re at it?”

Causality Roy, I’m a firm believer. Lorgan shows up at the same time you are leaving for Switzerland and there just happens to be rain falling on the plain of Xanthe?”

“He’s right Crip. Look for yourself. Lorgan is still parked at 200,000, and stationary I might add. That means the damn planet is spinning and Lorgan is looking down like it is a toy top. ‘Dumb-de-dumb – look at Mars go round + round – dumb-de-dumb.’ I can almost hear that thing laughing.” Gus isn’t laughing.

The concept would be delightful if it were not so maddening.


The NULL Solution =

Episode 77


page 80

The NULL Solution = Episode 73

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The NULL Solution = Episode 73

…Philanderers philander and physicians spring into action, in this case J-LP pulls a double shift…

“Any Visitors?” asks Dr. Picard of his receptionist.

“Non,” The response of “no” is the same in any {most} languages.

Once inside his Institute’s fourth floor sanctuary, he checks a few patient charts, while elevating his leg, which is sporting a cast that does not have space for another Sharpie signature.

By the time 7 O’clock rolls around, he has had enough of business, or so he thought. Before he can leave the room, out of nowhere, a very foreign-looking woman appears behind him. She is apparently in some distress.

“How did she get in?”

She is dressed like she comes from another planet and sounds like a harp when she speaks. Other than that she looks like she needs medical attention, specifically an OBGYN.

Dr. Picard takes her hand and has her stand inside a full-body scanner, an absolute necessity for any 21st Century medical office. Obviously she is with child, the child is in distress, but her anatomy does not match any he has seen before. There is no recognizing this from that, other than a very large child whose umbilical cord reaches the up to the base of her regally poised skull.

“What on Earth? If we deliver that baby and cut the cord, there may be serious damage to both of you.” Philanderers philander and physicians spring into action, in this case J-LP pulls a double shift. He calls down to the surgical suites to accommodate this unsolicited patient. “I need the most experienced nurses available… and I need a gurney on the 4th floor, STAT.”

Cerella, Heir to the High Council of Eridanus, has been deposited to the single solitary person on Earth…, nay, in the galaxy, who is qualified to deliver her & Deke’s child, not-to-mention the near-impossible task of preserving the cognitive functions of both mother & child.

10 light years away, the father waits and worries.–


The NULL Solution =

Episode 73


page 75

The NULL Solution = Episode 67

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The NULL Solution = Episode 67

…I want to ride to the ridge where the West commences
and gaze at the moon till I lose my senses…

— It has been pretty quiet in the neighborhood, both the Milky Way and the King Ranch spread – each 200 x 200 square {parsecs and miles respectively} each. No UFOs, no Lorgan, no problem.

The same approx. area as the country of Andorra {tucked in the Pyrenees}, King Ranch acreage is much easier to patrol than the parsecs of space. Even the most adventurous steer will not exceed the boundaries of barbed wire, streams or shotgun toting neighbor, whereas the Space Colony 1 pioneers, disappeared into the thin air of a controlled NASA situation.

“Oh, give me land, lots of land under starry skies above
Don’t fence me in
Let me ride through the wide open country that I love
Don’t fence me in

Let me be by myself in the evenin’ breeze
And listen to the murmur of the cottonwood trees
Send me off forever but I ask you please
Don’t fence me in

Just turn me loose, let me straddle my old saddle
Underneath the western skies
On my cayuse, let me wander over yonder
Till I see the mountains rise

I want to ride to the ridge where the West commences
And gaze at the moon till I lose my senses
And I can’t look at hobbles and I can’t stand fences
Don’t fence me in

Oh, give me land, lots of land under starry skies
Don’t fence me in
Let me ride through the wide country that I love
Don’t fence me in.”

Gus is in good voice this morning. He knows the Cole Porter lyrics by heart. It was his anthem back when he was thirteen and feeling his oats.

Mindy is calling to him by the most basic form of communication, “Gus McKinney, get your ass in here right now!” she shouts at the top of her lungs.

Those shouts carry across Waller County, most of which the King, Crippen and McKinney families own. Save the small settlements here and there, which are mostly grouped around the ubiquitous Walmart Megastores.

He skillfully reins his chestnut stallion back around to the house, from where he was headed, which was… oh he forgets.

“I need a shower Sweetie,” admits the wandering wrangler.

Unpretentious and a good mother, his wife requires some alone time as well – which does not include riding a horse to the back-back-back forty.


The NULL Solution =

Episode 67


page 69