THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 226

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 226

…Sammy Mac, that pretentious Earthling, has mastered the art of changing the tone of a conversation with the Supreme Elder of Eridanus on a dime…

At times like this, Celeste will listen; merely listen for positive signs of sanity in her man.

Out of a combination of boredom and sarcasm, Sampson starts whistling the slow, soulful, deep-south 19th Century slavery tune, Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen.

Ekcello must have been snooping, whisking in behind Sampson’s rendition of yet another strange sound from a likely strange source.

#What is that curious music you produce Sampson McKinney? I did not know you could musically communicate#

“It’s called whistling Ekcello old man. If it tickles your ears, well if you have ears, then your senses, I have a million more like it…” He jumps into the, Theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey”.

Sammy Mac, that pretentious Earthling, has mastered the art of changing the tone of a conversation with the Supreme Elder of Eridanus on a dime, before it has a chance to start. Whenever he did this, the Eridanian man of meditation’s expression takes on #Now where was I?# look, extremely unsettling for one of such intense concentration.

On track once again, Ekcello emotes in his lyrical style, #You have two male offspring#

“Yes, Deke & Gus,” Celeste steps in to address an issue never far from her heart; quickly and longingly in her audible voice.

#The High Council has begun to journey back to your Earth and its yielded disturbing revelations concerning their future#

Suddenly Sampson grasps Ekcello on Eridanian terms, “Are they in some sort of trouble?” he wonders aloud.

#Only in the sense that they are in the forefront of a flawed space vehicle propulsion project#

“They haven’t abandoned The SOL Project!” A proud papa speaks of children he never had a chance to see grow up. “I knew my boys would become astronauts!”


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 226


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 222

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 222

…The physical appeal of these Eridanians is an acquired taste… much like oysters on the half-shell or a shot of MALÖRT liquor is for the uneducated palate..

An Acquired Taste by Johan Potma

There is a meeting of two worlds, 9 light-years apart in The Milky Way and a light-century apart in societal progress…

Light-Years-Away-feat-DBX1From the tiptop of this whimsical Eridanian structure to the place where the NEWFOUNDLANDER has come home to roost, whatever lay beneath is marginally visible. Intermittent banks of mist-laden clouds do not help visibility, although the cool condensed water vapor is oddly refreshing to their weary spirits.

About the time when Sampson’s headache minimally abates, Ekcello breaks the silence. He knows that Sampson McKinney is the head of this Earthly family, but is frustrated by not having an acceptable method of two-way communicating. With each successive go ‘round it gets better, but an apt comparison would be, having a productive conversation with a pet or coffeemaker.

#We have decided to extract your background information from your mate. How long she is needed depends on her ability to recover from our sessions.#

#You and your offspring will be given our best accommodations, to meet the requirements of your human form. We endeavor that you acquire the skills needed for prompt communication. Please feel free to ask for your maximum needs#

On a similar wavelength as Ekcello, Deimostra takes her father by the hand. He is not exactly feeling like his confident “Sammy Mac” self.

Another robed figure, an overtly feminine specimen unlike preceding procession of “male” figures, appears out of nowhere when they step off that drastic elevator experience. The physical appeal of these Eridanians is an acquired taste… much like oysters on the half-shell or a shot of MALÖRT liquor is for the uneducated palate, but this “woman” has a look of elegance and grace, an Eridanian version of beauty.

Ekcello’s parting statement to them accounts for this observation, #As Deimostra is to Sampson, Cerella is to me. She is heiress to the High Counsel. She will assist you in getting you settled for now and when the time is correct, she will take you on a tour of the planet that will forever be your home#


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 222


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Do You Hear What I Hear? – WIF Mystery

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Bizarre/Mysterious

Noises No One

Can Explain

Best Sound Waves GIFs | Gfycat

Mysterious sounds trigger something primitive in our brains. They take us right back to our hunter-gatherer days, when deciphering a weird ‘bloop’ in the jungle might have helped us survive (as it may be a new type of predator). While that’s hardly the case anymore, that part of the brain still works the same way.

Mysterious sounds still pique our interest in a way that other senses don’t. There’s something plain creepy about a sound whose origins you can’t completely ascertain, made even creepier by just how many sounds there are nowadays; from classified radio signals to industrial machines most of us haven’t even heard of. Most of them, however, could be explained by ‘everyday things making everyday noises you just hadn’t noticed before’.

It gets weird, though, when a sound is heard multiple times by multiple people, and none of them can establish where it’s coming from. Some of the most bizarre sounds we’ve ever heard still remain unexplained.

10. The Upsweep

In case it’s not clear from the world map, the Pacific Ocean is humongous, so much so that we still find new islands there we had no idea existed. That’s why any mysterious sound emanating from any part of it is even creepier, as we just don’t know what all lies in its vast, uncharted depths.

The Upsweep – as it’s informally known – is one such sound coming from somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, though we have no idea where. It was first discovered in 1991, and sounds like a long chain of random bursts of frequency. What makes it even weirder is the strength of its source, as the sound could be heard throughout the Pacific. While we do know that it’s coming from a region with a lot of seismic activity, its precise source remains unknown.

9. The 52-Hertz Whale

In 1989, America’s underwater system of microphones meant to detect submarines – also known as SOSUS – accidentally caught a mysterious sound that was strikingly similar to the sound of a whale. Except that it wasn’t like any whale we know of.

For one thing, the frequency of the sound was measured at 52 hertz, which doesn’t match any known whale species. More importantly, though, in all of the readings, the geographical location of the source has never been the same, suggesting that it’s a whale that has been roaming the oceans around the world since at least 1989.

For those who don’t know, individuals from every whale pod sing at a unique frequency and pitch, which is how they identify their own. The fact that we’ve only heard one source of this sound suggests that this whale isn’t just unique in its singing frequency, but it’s also alone. That is, of course, if it’s even a whale and not some deep sea creature we haven’t yet discovered.

8. JULIA

First recorded in 1999, JULIA is a name given to yet another sound caught by American hydrophones meant to detect submarines and other suspicious underwater vehicles. The recording sounds like a muffled scream in the ocean to us, though it was apparently so strong that it could be heard across the Pacific Ocean.

According to the team that analyzed it, it sounds a lot like a broken-off iceberg grinding against the ocean floor, which is a fairly common occurrence, especially toward the poles. That’s just a guess, though, as we’ve never been able to confirm the exact location of its source, and that’s what makes it so mysterious.

7. UVB-76

First reported in 1973, UVB-76 is the name of a shortwave radio station a bit north of Moscow. That would be it – as the USSR was full of towers transmitting coded messages throughout the Cold War – except this one didn’t stop doing so even after the dissolution of the empire. What’s more mysterious is the fact that the sounds haven’t stayed the same throughout its history.

It started with beeps at regular intervals until 1992, when it changed to buzzes. Occasionally, it would be interrupted by a Russian male voice narrating a series of random words or numbers. All of that was until 2010, when the continuous beeps and buzzes just stopped one day, though they still come back for short durations every now and then. Since then, casual listeners have caught other seemingly-unrelated voices on the transmission, like Russian folk songs, random knocks and shuffles, and series of numbers and letters that seem to have nothing to do with each other.

Of course, it may just be an active military transmission, though that’s only based on the guess that the sound is, in fact, coming from a military base and not something else entirely.

6. The Colossi of Memnon

The Colossi of Memnon are two statues of the ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Amenhotep III on the west bank of the Nile in Luxor. They depict the pharaoh seated in a resting position and facing the river Nile, though we’re not sure why there are two of them (they look the same!).

The statues are also the center of one of the most enduring mysteries of sound of all time. According to records by quite a few reliable and unrelated sources, the statues started making a peculiar sound around 27 BCE, usually at dawn. It only started after they were damaged by an earthquake, leading many to believe that the newly-formed cracks were somehow contributing to it. However, that was hardly enough to explain the wildly different sounds mentioned in the records; from a loud bellowing of some sort of an animal to the sound made by the breaking of a lyre string (an ancient Greek instrument).

5. The Lincolnshire Poacher

The Lincolnshire Poacher is an informal name given to another possible shortwave numbers station from the Cold War era that refused to die down after the dissolution of the USSR. Unlike UVB-76 – which is almost sure to be located somewhere around Moscow – the exact location of this one is unknown, though observers suspect that it’s a British-controlled base in Cyprus.

Throughout the duration of its continuous transmission every day – starting some time in the 1970s and ending in 2008 – the signal would begin with the first verse of the English folk tune of the same name, followed by unique messages that went on for exactly 45 minutes. Unlike robotic signals from other stations, though, this one sounded like it was narrated by a live voice every time it aired, making it even creepier.

4. Saturn

Most people may not realize that a huge part of the background static we hear on Earth is actually the sound of space, as there are many asteroids, planets and other huge bodies that make a lot of noise. The loudest of them, however – at least in our immediate vicinity – has to be Saturn.

Unlike most other planets in the Solar System, Saturn emits a mysterious routine burst of radio waves known as the Saturn Kilometric Radiations. First recorded in detail by Cassini, the burst seemed to be normal radiation coming from the planet’s rotation at first, except that the waves coming in from both of its poles are not consistent with each other. That suggests that both of the planet’s hemispheres are spinning at a different rate, and that’s impossible. Moreover, the position of those waves changes throughout the day, moving from north to south and then back to north as the day comes to end. That means that the two halves of the planet aren’t just spinning at a different rate, they’re also doing so interchangeably and regularly, which just doesn’t make sense.

3. The Taos Hum

Taos is a small town in New Mexico that also serves as a popular skiing destination. It’s also the site of one of the most peculiar continuous sounds ever reported, though much like all of the other weird sounds on this list, no one has ever been able to pinpoint its exact source.

Simply known as the Taos Hum, it was first discovered in 1992. Residents have reported it in a variety of seasons, times of the day and locations around the town, and eerily, no two accounts describe the same sound. A study even installed recorders in the homes of the people who had claimed to have heard it, though it couldn’t find anything out of the ordinary.

2. Mysterious Booms Across the USA

It’s weird enough when you hear a mysterious sound around your house no one can explain, though it’s plain creepy when multiple people in multiple towns across the country hear the same sound. That’s exactly what’s been happening in small towns across the USA for the past few years. Quite a few people from different states have reported hearing loud booms that seem to be similar in description, though their source still remains a mystery.

What’s surprising is that the affected states – such as Colorado, Michigan, California, New Jersey – are spread out across the country, with seemingly no connection to each other. Possible explanations range from exploding asteroids to a top-secret military experiment, though none of them are confirmed yet.

1. Aurora Borealis

Anyone who has had the chance to see the Aurora lights for themselves knows that they’re one of the most spectacular natural occurrences that can be witnessed on Earth. Caused by solar winds abnormally charging up particles in the atmosphere, they’re only found in high-latitude regions near the poles, like Scandinavia and Canada in the north, and Chile, New Zealand and Argentina in the south.

That’s just about the visuals, though, as according to some recent research, Aurora lights make a distinct sound, too. It’s like a hiss, except we don’t really know what causes it. Researchers think that it has something to do with the charged up particles that cause the lights in the first place, though honestly that would be our first guess, too. Other than that, it’s not clear what the sounds are, or even how they’re able to travel hundreds of miles through the atmosphere to reach the ground.


Do You Hear What I Hear?

WIF Mystery


THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 221

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 221

…Ekcello is trying to find a way to communicate with the least accessible of the three off-worlders…

“She is sleeping Sammy, just sleeping,” Father Sam explains to his daughter.

It was a torturous five-some-odd minutes, during which the Eridanians had re-closed their eyes and seemed to concentrate on Celeste. At the conclusion of this quietness, she momentarily returns to her family.

“They want us to follow them Sam. Please trust them.” Celeste collapses into his apprehensive arms.

He makes intense eye contact with them as if to say, “If you hurt either of my girls, you will regret it.”

Ekcello must have got the crude message and determined it as anxiety. For the first time, Sampson finds out what it is like to “Talk” with these haunting humanoids.

#Sampson McKinney, we are the people you know as NEWFOUNDLIANS. Please excuse our seeming disarray, but as you may sense, we were not prepared for your presence on NEWFOUNDLANDER/Explorer. That simple mode of transportation was our ancient attempt at understanding your species#

The strain on Sampson’s mind overwhelms him, mostly because Ekcello is trying to find a way to communicate with the least accessible of the three off-worlders. Even the youngest McKinney seems to have had her fears alleviated. But Dad’s mental resistance results in a headache of migraine-ic proportions, all because he just not on their prevailing wavelength.

Not far from the outer edge of the tower Eupepsia, the lofty structure that Explorer Eridanus2 - Copyhad brought them to, and an elevator of sorts await. To be accurate, it was only an open-air platform; not a conveyance for the faint of heart. It makes nary a noise, barely jostling a hair on their heads or having a sense of motion whatsoever.

For all his astronautical achievements Sampson begins to squirm when the one mile mark of the vertical climb is gained. He sits down next to his mentally drained spouse and uses his spare arm to clutch Deimostra, who at this point of her young life has no fear… none. He wishes that she would take a nap at this critical time in the meeting of two worlds; 9 light-years apart in The Milky Way and a light-century apart in societal progress.


THE RETURN TRIP

The Meeting of Two Worlds

Episode 221


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 207

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 207

…“What do these people look like Mommy?” asks the pupil who has become a sponge of curiosity…

“They will be expecting a reproduction not a response. Boy, are they going to be in for a shock when they find out who they’ve been “jamming” with, probably thinking that their crew had tinkered with the out-of-office message; We’ve Gone Fishin’! Sammy Mac toys with the possibilities.

Here's How To Actually Study For All Your Finals | Tick tock, Tick tock clock, How to memorize thingsAbout fifteen minutes passes without further tonal interaction. The builders of the NEWFOUNDLANDER may be mulling over the unusual way their ship is responding. If there is any doubt in their minds about malicious behavior, Celeste has tempered that. Pity the people who are expecting an empty cabin, on one of their vintage 4000 year-old spaceship models.

Indeed, judging by the intervening musical bantering between Celeste and the home base, these people have to know something is amiss. Did they expect a crew member to have survived millennia, when he could have flown home on his own?

Sometimes they would attempt to mimic and other times they would throw out some more ornate orchestration. Everything they send out has a distinct classical flavor, like they had stepped right out of the baroque era on Earth, like four centuries hence.

Celeste does her best to parody Beethoven or Vivaldi, with her skills and endurance tested at musical message central. She does not dare leave the console during these exchanges and it is apparent the responder(s) do not sleep much or take breaks.

***LATER IN THE YEAR THEY CORRECTLY BELIEVE TO BE 2035***

When the amount of days was less than the months of space behind them, the tension and excitement is compounding. The dueling concertos had stopped, substituted with occasional honks, toots & beeps.

As part of her space-schooling, Deimostra was learning to do the simple 3-note stuff. “What do these people look like Mommy?” asks the pupil who has become a sponge of curiosity.

“We can’t be sure exactly dear, but they would most certainly be classified as humanoid at the very least, but they are definitely far more advanced than us.”


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 207


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 206

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 206

…Celeste listens more intently this time and she was able to reproduce the incoming communication to the note, using the NEWFOUNDLANDER digitized instrumentation…

Image result for digital music gif

“Yes and no… I mean recorder, a 12th Century version of the flute…a musical instrument.” Celeste contends.

“Is this a coincidence or could it be that this music is an attempt to communicate with their spacecraft?” Sam’s theory is not revolutionary considering the time they spent on the subject of the overt melodious sounds of the NEWFOUNDLANDER leading up to this seminal moment.

“I knew their use of the diatonic scale was more than fanciful fluff and this confirms it!” She spirits to an apparatus on which she had been secretly experimenting during her private time, “This synthesizer is actually the communication console.”

“Have you been fiddling behind my back?” His attempt at humor masks his openly jealously over his wife making a breakthrough discovery.

“This is no different than you nosing around the propulsion and navigation stuff and besides, you have never shown the barest inclination towards music Sam. Don’t feel left out.

“And before you turn this around a make fun of me, consider this; before I met you, becoming an astronaut was my second choice.  I actually auditioned for 2nd violin at the New York Philharmonic. I could be safely back on Earth, playing Vivaldi at Avery Fisher Hall. But instead I am second fiddle on a spaceship without a rudder.”

Avery Fisher Hall

(Take that!)Equalizer GIFs | Tenor

“There should be a musical response, if it is a form of communication. I’m going to defer to your expertise.” Sam knows better than to make-too-lightly when Celeste is passionate.

As he surmised, a very similar melodious passage is incoming. Celeste listens more intently this time and she was able to reproduce it to the note, using the NEWFOUNDLANDER digitized instrumentation.

“I made sure that there was enough difference in my melody. They will know this isn’t an echo.”

“Great observation! They will be expecting a reproduction not a response. Boy, are they going to be in for a shock when they find out who they’ve been “jamming” with, probably thinking that their crew had tinkered with the “out of office” message.”

About fifteen minutes passes without further tonal interaction.


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 167

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 167

… I am issuing a gag order, no network feed until further notice. I don’t want Deke and Gus finding out their parents are missing…

“Mission Control, we have a problem,” Rick Stanley reports. “We are seeing some surface disturbance in Space Colony 1 lander’s landing field and it looks fresh, real fresh. Can you see what we see?”

Braden King and Roy Crippen are only separated by their cuffed shirt-sleeves, side-by-side to rely on the other for support.

Braden wonders why neither McKinney is signaling their brave rescuers in any way…. or answering the hails… .or firing a single blast from the quieted Tycho.

Roy is in possibilities mode… they are conserving fuel… they are low on oxygen…that impact crater, maybe a meteorite knocked out their communication gear.

Anxiety levels on Earth can be measured at the Moon Station and the beating of hearts drown out any other sound. Even the successful landing of the New Mayflower fails to break the spell.

“Two of us are going EVA. We can see lights on inside the lander and one of them is the green airlock beacon!”

“Doesn’t that mean they’re out of the lander?” Braden knows enough about procedure to be dangerous.

“You’ll need to close the airlock manually to balance the air and pressure before you enter,” Roy cautions and informs those who have not been around a lander simulator for a while.

It seems like only yesterday that New Mayflower had Mars within
hailing distance. Was it too much to ask for Sampson & Celeste jump on the horn and say “hey!”? Shouldn’t monumental effort be rewarded when expectations are being met?

Those damned Koreans officially leapfrog Osama Bin Laden as “Satan of the Century”? It is a very long line of evil and growing.

“It’s a good thing we did not run a live feed to the networks, in fact I am issuing a gag order until further notice. I don’t want Deke and Gus seeing this stuff.”

One doesn’t read a book from back to front, right?–


Extra-vehicular activity (EVA) is any activity done by an astronaut or cosmonaut outside a spacecraft beyond the Earth’s appreciable atmosphere. {Wikipedia}


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 167


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 142

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 142

..Roy’s attempt at respect is lame and short-lived, “Did they happen to mention that Sang-Ashi destroyed Space Colony 1, or did they leave that out?”

While Francine & Roy discuss the lofty merits of a Presidential bid…. his wristphone wants to wriggle off his wrist. Braden King’s face is fills up the 2 x 2” screen.

“It’s nice to have you back on the job Braden; your replacement was kinda dull.”

“Dull would be refreshing right now Roy! I have President Sanchez (US) on the line and he is hopping mad… asking to speak with ‘the g** d****d head of the space program!”

“That isn’t my title, but if he wants to talk, who am I to refuse. Put him through.”

Image result for beep bop boop gif

Beep Bop Boop

“Mister Crippen, I just got a call from United Korea demanding an explanation.”

“About what, do they feel left out of the Coalition? They had their chance and BTW, tell them to stay the hell out of space–Sir!”

“They are claiming that we destroyed their Sang-Ashi Space Probe, that was on its way back from Mars, is that true?”

“We knew that it was on a heading back to Earth, but as far as I know, we were just keeping tabs on it–Sir.” Roy’s attempt at respect is lame and short-lived. “Did they happen to mention that Sang-Ashi destroyed Space Colony 1, or did they leave that out?”

“We have not proven that assertion Mister Crippen.”

Roy takes a deep breath, looks over to Francine for constitutional underpinning.

“This is Francine Bouchette, Mister President, Mr. Crippen’s Press Secretary. He will look into the matter and get back to you.”

Which he does and not just at the President’s bidding, telling Braden, “Have Image result for wake up gifMission Control wake the boys up on the New Mayflower  and I will be speaking with them shortly.”

“It will take some time for them to come out of hyper-sleep, but had anything happened out there AL would have rousted them earlier.”

“Yeah I know, but he didn’t, so something must be up.”

“Does this have anything to do with those enhancements that Aldona Afridi passes along?”

“You are catching up fast! I don’t know, I suppose maybe,” Roy is running scenarios
through in his head, while changing the subject to calmer King Ranch domestic issues. “How are the boys doing?”

“Well it turns out that they must miss Francine a lot, asking me about her all the day long. I gave them her mobile number this morning so give her a heads-up.”


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 90

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 90

…And then there is the inconvenient reality of her VP fiancée, who is probably worried sick, period, without knowing about what is going on between the TV Newswoman and the NASA Colony Mission Director…

inconvenient-truth-001

Right now (Braden King) he feels like 80. —

— As would Roy Crippen had he not found himself half-passed out on his office couch, next to Francine, who is showing no signs of wanting to leave. She is obviously preoccupied by the concept of how she ever ended up so “close” to the space program. Conversely, for the first time since breaking 200 MPH whilst speeding away from her native Houston, the 10 o’clock newscast she bolted from crosses her mind. Her newly acquired sense of four-letter loyalty has shifted from KHST to NASA, in addition to that deviant stance, she doesn’t feel at all guilty about not having a camera crew along for the station’s {and her career} enrichment.

In fact, her television chores have also occurred to Roy, “Aren’t you going to file a
report to KHST Channel 13 Houston’s News Source?”

“Thank you for that proper station ID,” she forms her real response carefully, if not unenthusiastically. “I suppose I should.” And then there is the inconvenient reality of her VP fiancée, who is probably worried sick, period, without knowing about what is going on between the TV Newswoman and the NASA Colony Mission Director.

For Roy, whose mind never rests anyway, has been doing some thinking, you know, about mortality and bachelorhood. He has noticed the Francine’s transformation from selfish career person to Mamma’s every prayer for a daughter-in-law.

“Francine…….I’ve been kicking something around.” That is an understatement considering the drastic implications for her.the-right-words-001

“What???” She had been in a trance of her own.

“Well……,” he stutters, stumbles, and skirts the issue, “…throughout my years at NASA, both in the air and here with the Space Colony project, I feel there is a void, when it comes to a public presence, that one authoritative voice; someone with your media flair and experience that can deal with situations like we had today.”

Francine thinks she knows what he means, but does not lead him forward, fearing how she would respond.

“Heck,” his Southern drawl breaking in, “for as long as I can remember, it has always been ‘good ol’ Roy’ plunked in front of cameras and microphones and not to nasa (1)thrilled about it.

“No offense, but I’m not a big fan of you press people, although at first the attention was nice enough. But now it is a hassle and it is taking me off-course from my real job.”

“Sure, sure, you want someone else to be the face of failure.”

“Failure, I’m not so sure. We have only scratched the surface of what caused the Colony to go down.”

“I have not seen a single member of the press, not that pompous ass from Channel 5 or anyone from FOX or REUTERS and if they were here they would be asking a millions ignorant questions and some poor sucker here at CMC would have spilled their guts and piss you off.”

Roy is taken aback by Francine’s callous bluntness, and he hasn’t even asked the question.


THE RETURN TRIP

newsroom-001

Episode 90


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 38

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 38

…“Som……ing is not righ…” that is the last transmission they will be hearing on this trip down to the Martian surface…

last-transmission1

THE LAST TRANSMISSION by bmessina.deviantart.com

Hal 2001

“All right Sam,” Roy Crippen advises, “Check in before returning to the Colony.”

“It’ll be there when we get back, as long as Al {Space Colony 1 mainframe brain) lets us back in,” referring to the
perfunctory processor.

So, Roy must sit back and watch while the McKinneys set out to prove their worth to an admiring world. Measuring the depth of dermis layers throughout Tithonius Lacus neighborhood will be accomplished with aplomb. It may be Saturday night, on a faraway silent habitat, but they would not trade places with anyone, here or there. And the pay is secondary to the payoff.Muddy tractor tracks.

Sampson actually is enjoying himself in the back, with Celeste at the wheel, while he calculates the exact depth of their tracks. It cruises handsomely across the barren plain, but he is noticing an earthly occurrence called clumping; like walking on naked rich black topsoil in the defrosting springtime, “Mud?!”

Not all terrain here is a plain and they conquer the grueling Martian hill climb with ease. The rover comes to rest on the crest of one of the craters, cropped-mars3.jpgoverlooking the Plain of Xanthe, from where Celeste takes notice the previously inconspicuous, yet prominent mound which nearly brought their mission to an unceremonious halt.

Intuition, the human trait that seems to get better with age, clicks on within Celeste, the driver who does notdunes-001 consult while taking a detour on their way to Syrtis Major; inquisitiveness is an attribute that begins at conception

The formation that has beckoned her, stands out because from what they observed about the general topography, this knoll is singular. As they draw near, its uniqueness is even more pronounced; nothing round about this mound, angular and structured, not at all natural.

Commander Sam suggests a cautious circling approach, like a vulture cruising at 300 feet above a rotting carcass. This “thing” has a different look from every angle; one side terraced, another gently sloping, yet another with a notch running perpendicular to the base, into the interior.

Braden King breaks in to express a concern, “Our picture has been degrading steadily since you took that detour—is there another inversion storm kicking up?”

Interference is hampering Mission Control’s depth perception, with the good looks they have been enjoying transitioning into a fuzzy blur.

“No sandstorms or such” Sampson fingers a touchscreen to boost the signal, “upping to 5500 dBs.”

“No change Sam,” there is a disappointing tone back on Earth. It is like losing the picture, leaving only sound for the 7th game of the 2029 World Series, in the bottom of the 9th, 2 outs, full count, bases loaded, score tied and it’s the West Coast Dodgers at bat vs. the Twin Moons of Minnesota. The first reaction is to check the coaxial cable connections.

“Go on with what you were doing Sam,” commands Roy Crippen, “We’ll tweak something at this end.”

Even as he speaks, the crackling turns to persistent static.

“Please repeat. Braden, what did he say?”

“Som……ing is…not righ…”

That is the last transmission they will be hearing on this trip down to the Martian surface.

Sampson shrugs, Celeste gives up.


THE RETURN TRIP

world-series2-001

Episode 38


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