THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 154

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 154

…On the other side of the world and on the bad side of public opinion, Kim Jong-un is pondering the meaning of life

On the other side of the world, and on the bad side of public opinion, Kim Jong-un is pondering the meaning of life. (2 Koreans + 1 Talinaistani)

“Where has all this outer space mischief got us Nae Tan-Dan?”

“We have put a stop to America’s imperialist expansionism, Supreme Leader!”

The barely 50 year old leader of the United Korean Peninsula {formerly North Korea & South Korea} is about the only Korean citizen capable of tracking “real” world sentiment toward his country.

“And what about the fates of Comrade Afridi and Comrade Gaad, my Talibanistan brother,” he asks of Sheikh Kamran Khan Nutkani who is also among the living.
“Samiq Gaad was killed while bravely escaping American custody!”

“And that is good Comrade Nutkani?

“Comrade/traitor Afridi was assassinated while attempting to flee to the United States!”

“Did anyone find and identify his dead body?”

“No, but how can one man be a threat to “the powerful and prosperous Kim Jung-Un”?”

“That one man may have given over his secrets about our satellite program to the West. I hear that they are blaming us for the destruction of their little space station around Mars,” his voice has an indignant tone.

Cheondoist flag.PNG

Cheondoism

“Should we not take the credit…?”

“Silence you fool! Cheiondo, our god of protection, has struck them blind and dumb. We will defend Cheiondo to the death, but we are vilified by the other world powers, those not clear about our altruistic intentions.”

“What manner of threat does a weak leader like the United States’ president present to us? We have defeated him before.” Nae Tan-Dan is full of confidence.

“Perhaps none, but we have failed to bite off the head of the snake, though it writhes in our hand; a snake with its fangs is a dangerous snake.”

Kim Jung-un Immortalized

“But did you not summon us to Pyongyang for a grand celebration? Talibanistan has sent its military leaders here for tribute and all Korean provincial leaders are gathered to show their support.”

“Yes I did Comrade Tan-Dan and so we shall have the biggest military parade led by the Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces and Korean People’s Army.” The raw feeling of power is sucking any consternation from his awareness, with lustful thoughts of world domination to guide him. “As did I include our friends from the sovereign state of Talibanistan, who themselves fought off the tyrannical nations in the fight for their territories; a special treat for the foot soldiers, bomb makers, and assassins.”

“We are happy to be here Supreme Leader and may our alliance last forever.”

The clanging of wine glasses and boastful toasts echo outside the high walls of Pyongyang City


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 154


page 146

I’ve Got a Secret – WIF Military Bases

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Super “Secret”

Military Bases

World militaries have a strange function in society these days, having to be both present and visible yet secretive and under the radar in many regards. We all know the military exists, but what they do is often so under wraps they’ll deny doing it even when people can see them doing it. Case in point: Area 51. The Nevada base is highly classified and the CIA only admitted the base was a real thing in 2013, despite the fact people could literally go there and see it. So we take it with a grain of salt these days that the military, in the US and abroad, will engage in not just clandestine missions, but build bases that the rest of us aren’t supposed to know about. Here are 10 of the most interesting.

10. Pine Gap

For a secret base, an awful lot of people know about the joint US and Australian base called Pine Gap. That’s mostly thanks to the fact there’s an actual TV show called Pine Gap. Developed in the 1960s as a joint operation between the two countries and given the ambiguously vague name “Joint Defense Space Research Facility,” Pine Gap was built in the Australian Outback away from prying eyes.

In the ‘60s, the base was used to spy on Soviet missiles and these days it still has control over a number of spy satellites. As far as people know that’s what still goes on but it doesn’t get much more clear than that. Even former Australian Prime Ministers weren’t informed about what happens on the base.

Edward Snowden’s data leak in 2013 included information on Pine Gap and how the base and its satellite network helped guide drone strikes in Iraq and elsewhere during the War on Terror. Additionally, it has been a hub of surveillance, spying on targets in Asia.

That’s what we know about Pine Gap today, and odds are there’s plenty that we still don’t know.

9. Porton Down

Across the pond, the British secret base known officially as the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory is located at Porton Down. There are other facilities on the site, even commercial science labs, but it is the DSTL that interested most people. Formed back in 1916 as the War Department Experimental Station, this was where chemical weapons were tested.

In modern times the site still does research into chemical weapons but also diseases. The site researches things like ebola and anthrax as well as deadly nerve agents. Officially, according to the British government, Porton Down does no research into chemical or biological weapons anymore. Those British programs were said to have ended in the 1950s. That said, as a countermeasure to other people developing chemical and biological weapons, the facility does develop them in small quantities for research purposes in an effort to counteract those weapons.

8. Area 6

Everyone knows about Area 51 but not everyone knows that it isn’t just a cool, random number and there are a multitude of other “capital A” Areas in Nevada as well, most of which were nuclear test sites back in the day. You can find a quick breakdown of Areas 1 through 30 on Wikipedia, even. But while this breakdown is fairly limited in scope and just lists every single site as having been the location of nuclear tests back in the day, there’s more to it than all that. For instance, there’s Area 6.

Located just 12 miles from the infamous Area 51, Area 6 is home to a mysterious landing strip visible on Google Earth that indicates there’s obviously more than just nuclear tests from the 1950s going on here.  A spokesman from the National Nuclear Security Administration said that the DOD and DHS use the area to test sensors. That means conducting drone tests, but that’s about the extent of what is publicly known about the facility.

7. Dugway Proving Ground

Spanning 800,000 acres of Utah desert, an area the size of Rhode Island, the Dugway Proving Grounds is as massive as it is mysterious. The facility dates back to 1942 when it was established to test biological and chemical weapons. The stated purpose of the facility is essentially the same as that of Porton Down in the UK. They test chemical and biological weapons to develop countermeasures against them.

The site is also used by the US Army Reserve and National Guard as a training grounds which is part of the reason it’s so enormous, and the US Air Force conducts test flights there as well.

Those who lean more towards the outlandish think there’s a lot more going on at Dugway and it’s been dubbed, at least in some circles, the New Area 51. The base opened its doors to the media for the first time in 2018 to potentially quell some of the rumors and conspiracy theories, but obviously the reveal was very controlled and only a small portion of the massive base was revealed.

6. Kapustin Yar

If Russia has an Area 51, this is it. Both in terms of alien conspiracy theories and in terms of secrecy. This was their most top secret air base and the place that Laika, the dog that became the first living thing ever to orbit the planet, was launched from. On the weirder side, former employees have alleged that there are underground labs where alien’ autopsies occur and alien craft are tested. To get some idea of how serious this alien business is, here’s a New York Times article about an alien crash that occurred near the base. Does that mean an alien ship crashed there? No. But someone sure reported that one did.

The existence of the site wasn’t even confirmed by the Soviet government until 1983, decades after the site had been built. It had been used not just for rocket launches and test flights but  low-yield nuclear tests. Most of the facility is located underground and to this day no one outside of those involved with the base really knows what goes on there or even how much base is located under the ground.

5. South China Sea Bases

Located mostly in the Spratley Islands and the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, the Chinese government engaged in a seriously impressive effort of dredging and island building, constructing 3,200 acres of new land. There are numerous facilities spread across the area used for radar, missile launches, and helicopters. More than that, they announced plans in 2016 to build an underwater base 10,000 feet below the surface. Why announce something like that if it’s a secret base? Why, indeed.

Those who fly too close to the bases are warned to leave immediately by Chinese forces so the precise goings-on at the bases are really just left to speculation and what the government is willing to tell the world since there is no way to get to them as isolated as they are. In fact, the nature of the bases is so mysterious it’s not fully known whether they are strictly military, they’re for controlling trade routes, or even if they’re being used to control natural gas and oil rights. Whatever their ultimate purpose, they are well-armed with surface-to-air missiles and ground-launched missile systems.

4. HAARP

Few military bases have reached the heights of conspiracy theories around them as much as the High Frequency Active Auroral Frequency Program, or HAARP has. In fact, this base may even outdo Area 51 for sheer volume of conspiracies about the nature of what goes on there, and it’s technically not even a military base anymore.

Located in Alaska, HAARP was an ionospheric research facility run jointly by the Air Force, the Navy, the University of Alaska Fairbanks and everyone’s favorite hub of conspiracy fodder, DARPA. It’s that last one that probably made so many people start to question what was happening at HAARP.

The stated goal of HAARP was to research ways to improve communication and surveillance technology by analyzing the ionosphere. One of the main conspiracies about the facility is that it was designed to weaponize the weather. Hugo Chavez once accused the facility of causing the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

Other conspiracy theories claim that the facility has the capability to burn the sky, cause floods, hurricanes, and droughts. It’s also been accused of developing mind control technology, chronic fatigue syndrome, Gulf War Syndrome, causing plane crashes and power outages. It can flip the Earth’s poles and even trap human souls.

As goofy as these conspiracies may sound, people take them seriously. That last one about trapping souls was a claim made by two men who were arrested on drug charges and found to be plotting a massive terrorist attack on the facility in 2016. The men had numerous weapons and thousands of rounds of ammo they were going to use because God told them to free the trapped souls at HAARP.

3. Dulce Base

The moment people learn about a base that’s secret, the first conspiracy to be floated about it is that it houses aliens. Welcome to New Mexico’s Dulce base, another hub of extraterrestrial involvement.

The town the base is named for, Dulce, has a population of just over 2,700. Word is they don’t even have a traffic light in town, it’s so small. But the base isn’t in the town. It’s under the ground. A New Mexico businessman blew the lid off of the alien conspiracy back in 1979, believing he had been intercepting alien communications around the same time a former state trooper began documenting animal mutilations in the area.

A former explosive engineer with security clearance said he helped in the construction of the facility and while he was there, he witnessed a straight up battle between humans and aliens, so take from that what you will. The town of Dulce has been home to numerous UFO sightings over the years as well.

As for the official word from the US government on Dulce, they don’t have one. Dulce doesn’t exist in any official or even unofficial capacity. No one has ever proven there’s a base anywhere in the area so if it exists, it’s incredibly well hidden.

2. Raven Rock Mountain

Known as Site R, the Raven Rock Mountain Complex is a poorly kept secret located in Pennsylvania and basically where control of the military would head in the event of nuclear war. They call it the Underground Pentagon and it was built to keep the whole machine running below ground if everything above ground was destroyed.

The facility is dug out of a mountain, a half mile in and a half mile down. It has a power plant, water reservoirs, three-story buildings carved into the rock, and room for 2,000. There’s infrastructure for having its own police and fire departments as well as a cafeteria to serve everyone. Essentially it’s a city inside a mountain and it’s still the go to location for high-ranking officials should the world fall into chaos.

The facility runs all day, every day and you have to assume that there’s a lot going on no one knows about since it’s planned to be the center of US power in the event of catastrophe. The existence is far from a secret though and it’s so well known you can even visit the facility in the world of Fallout video games.

1. Mount Yamantau and Mezhgorye

Deep in the Ural Mountains of Russia you’ll find Mount Yamantau which the US government is pretty sure is home to a top secret Russian base, equivalent to Cheyenne Mountain. Surveillance and eyewitnesses in the 1990s attested to a massive undertaking in the mountains that had apparently started during the reign of Brezhnev.

The official explanation from Russia about what goes on at Yamantau is about as unhelpful as it gets. They have at different times claimed it’s just a mining site, a storage facility for food or treasure, or a place for Russian officials to wait out a nuclear apocalypse.

A hop, skip, and a jump from Yamantau is the town of Mezhgorye, which is a closed city. You can’t visit this place unless the government gives you permission. That’s just as well since it doesn’t exist on maps, even though 17,000 people live there according to a census. But why would you take a census of a secret town? Military battalions are stationed there and between it and Yamantau there are supposed to be a whole underground facility and nuclear test sites in the area.


I’ve Got a Secret

WIF Military Bases

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 133

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 133

Hey buddy, you’re out in real space, you better be prepared for the unknown…

Floating In Unknown by Andrea Banjac

— 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.”

“I hate to the bearer of bad news, but we will need to put-off your long summer’s nap for a few days; I have a couple of things I need you to do.”

“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.”

“Okay?” The New Mayflower space pilot complies, taking mere seconds to do so. “Are we trying to lose that nagging echo? I know it cannot keep up with our new propulsion system?”

“Good. Now if you check your data banks, you will find a .pdf file named Afridi. Please download it now.”

“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.

“We have AL’s volume muted. Someone, who best remains nameless, decided to give him a sense of humor.”

“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.”


THE RETURN TRIP

Artificial Intelligence by Mehau Kulyk

Episode 133


page 125 + 126

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 132

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 132

…“Russia is like a rotten cousin; you have to invite them to family gatherings, but you serve them cheap beer instead of fine wine…

“I have fashioned a schematic for you to forward to the crew of the New Mayflower, if it’s not too late. They must construct a circuit in that vehicle with an anti-laser deflection field. I can be fairly positive that Sang-Ashi’s path may be on an intersecting course.”

“They have had a small shadow following them ever since they got a million miles past the moon. Do you have any idea what that could be? Does Sang-Ashi have a twin?” asks Roy Crippen.

“I know that the Russians were ready to launch their own probe, Uralsk I think it’s called, but I only know this because of a launch conflict with an astronaut exchange to the old International Space Station.” ISS is still in orbit, though its usefulness has long since been relegated to space lab experiments. “They claim that it is headed for Uranus, but if that was the case, they’ve missed their mark by 10 million miles, like they were aiming for the elliptical, but used parabolic calculations.”

“Can they be that bad? They are truly like the Gang Who Couldn’t Shoot Straight.”

“They will claim to have had Mars in mind the whole time, who would know the difference. And I don’t think any harm can come from a country whose Soyuz continued to be the workhorse of the ISS, ever since the United States stopped the shuttle program and until privatization came along. Regardless, my system must be implemented.”

Russia is like a bastard cousin; you have to invite them to family gatherings, but you serve them cheap beer instead of fine wine.” United States’ relations with the Great Sleeping Bear has been as chilly as the original Cold War, but has warmed since they put Putin in the ground in 2028.

“Okay Aldona, I will forward this plan to Rick Stanley, before they go into hyper-sleep.” Roy Crippen trusts this man’s insider instincts, even though the verdict is still officially out on the fate of SC1. “As for you, my friend, I am getting you an office at Lovell and your family will be set up here at Elgin—you are officially onSOL-logo the payroll, with an eye on placing you in the SOL Project.”

“Do you mean speed of light?”

“Can you dig it Mr. Afridi?” Roy is retro-hip.

“Working for NASA seemed like a foolish dream to me and now it has come true!”

“We can use your expertise and any tidbits about the Korean factor.” — hipster Roy.


THE RETURN TRIP

Robert McCall, NASA Artist (1919-2010)

Episode 132


page 124

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 131

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 131

…”The Koreans have been searching for a way to devastate the world  and we in Talibanistan were their unknowing partners; at least me, the biggest fool,”

Image result for fool artwork

Artwork by Red Dog Scott

“We want to go back with you Roy!” Gus emplores.

“Francine will be picking you up and get you back to the ranch.”

“What about Braden and where are you going?” Deke Wonders.

“Miss Bouchette will take care of everything, you know, take you to visit Braden and stuff,” Roy reassures. “As for me, I have to see someone else in a hospital, over at Lovell. He has some information I need to hear and it can’t wait.”

Greater Okaloosa Air Force Complex (Elgin AFB)

“Schematic” by Saatchi Art Artist Russell Thurston

– And he does divert to LSC, specifically Elgin AFB Hospital where Aldona Afridi is recovering from his attack. He is polishing his variety of schemes to rectify a wrong, having got the word about Roy’s imminent arrival. He is busy constructing a diagram of a laser dampening field, similar but different from the energy absorption field that the McKinneys did not have time to activate, remotely and pre-disaster.

He is finished, loaded with instructions and general information by the time Roy makes his grand entrance.

“Have you had enough action for a while, I know I have?” He shakes his ally/acquaintance’s hand and sits down to listen closely. “I have spoken with Lt. Gilbert and she gave me an abridged version of your de-briefing. Do you really think that this was the Sang-Ashi plan from the start?”

“The Koreans have been searching for a way to devastate the world ever since they conquered their southern neighbors and we in Talibanistan were their unknowing partners; at least me, the biggest fool.”

Jealousy is a cancerous emotion that spreads wildly among the evil.

“I have fashioned a schematic for you to forward to the crew of the New Mayflower, if it’s not too late.” Aldona Afridi is doing his best to right-a-wrong.


THE RETURN TRIP

Jealousy To Wrath Road by Ernie Scott

Episode 131


page 124

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 127

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 127

…It is unlikely that these creeps, of a terrorist bent, will decide to make a mess of both helicopters; fire and oil are a dangerous mix…

Oil rig fire distortion by Adam Miller

The addition of an incoming helicopter tips the balance of power. Is it Rompin’ Roy the square shooter from South Texas?

It turns out that the bad guys saw that Coast Guard boat bounding through the waves a few miles north. The men who pour out the slide-by doors don’t look anything like polished military men, perhaps the pilots were but not these guys. There are two blindfolded individuals being prodded to the leeward column ladder, likely for a quick transfer. But by the time the awkward exchange can take place, the Monsoon steams onto the scene, all the while firing warning shots and smoke capsules at the sea surrounding the rig.

All that unexpected action a few hundred feet below causes the scampering swarm to reverse their direction back to the helicopter. They may have had what they thought was solid plan, but they were just running out of time. So back on the helicopter they go, piling in in a big-time hurry, except that one of their detainees bolts, running as fast as he can for the derrick and finding good cover there among the pile of eight inch pipes. That bolting delays the whole process.

Roy Crippen has seen enough to know that it is Gus McKinney who broke free and it is Deke about to be spirited away. He drops his chopper down to about thirty feet above the Russian built military machine, blocking their exit. It is unlikely that these creeps, of a terrorist bent, will decide to make a mess of both machines; fire and oil are a dangerous mix.

By that time, fifteen Coast Guard infantry have gained the deck and bring the situation into reasonable control. With guns down and arms held high the entire force of kidnappers is laid low.

Slippery Gus storms out to hug his brother who claims, “You kept us on the ground Gus, way to go!”


THE RETURN TRIP

Disney’s BOLT

Episode 127


page 121

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 124

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 124

you have seen what these people are capable of, so do not underestimate their reach or cunning

Cunning by Skia on DeviantArt.com

“In opening, my only question for you is, did you recognize the man who shot you?” asks the Man in Black

That is a stupid question from someone who should already know the answer, considering that the hail of bullets sailed through the closed door of the lavatory, while the victim was seated on the stainless steel pedestal.

“No I do not.”

Related image“Was there anyone on your flight who looked familiar to you, suspicious or otherwise?”

“I did recognize that pop singer my daughters are so crazy for, the one that has all those tattoos…”

When a bad-guy can board an international flight with a weapon and a covert agency of the USA cannot identify him, it is an insecure feeling.

It is obvious that neither Afridi nor his family can be of any help, at least for the Man in Black. He motions to the other non-family interested party, who has her own set of questions.

“My name is Sandi Gilbert, a close associate of Roy Crippen, here at Lovell and at Galveston and we would like for you to tell us about the revelation you flew all this way to share.”

Lieutenant II Gilbert has been leading the Incident Audit Team {Space Colony 1.20.2030} from the beginning and the older sister of KHST’s NASA Expert Randi Gilbert. All the evidence supporting the accidental destruction of the Mars orbiting Colony has been peeling away, one pungent layer at a time. Unlike the Space Shuttle Challenger that exploded on a frosty Florida morning in 1986 or Shuttle Columbia’s re-entry miscalculation in 2003, both of which happened with wide-eyed witnesses in Earth’s atmosphere Space Colony 1 disappeared into the abyss of space, without Earthly observation. NASA has been out of the disaster business since the funding drought began in 2009 and the Mars mission inception a decade ago.

Aldona Afridi is shell-shocked, both literally and figuratively. What an odd path:

  • He had successfully defected from his Far East homeland, at great risk to life and limb
  • Navigated The Orient Express all the way to its Istanbul railhead
  • Made few friends and many enemies along the way
  • Tried and did to warn NASA about a space probe with bad intent
  • Got a ride out of the Near East for him and his family, for safe asylum in the United States only to be shot to pieces while using a Turkish Airlines toilet

Not a bad month’s work for someone who isn’t employed by anyone in particular.

“You may want to check the flight path of Sang-Ashi. It was never intended to continue on out of the solar system. I believe it used Mars gravity to slingshot itself back in the direction of Earth.”

“I’m still not sure what that has to do with NASA or you ignoring a global manhunt to speak to someone,” Lt. Gilbert is trying to blend compassion with curiosity.

“You have a rescue mission underway, do you not?”

“The New Mayflower is on its way; yes that is no secret?”

The New Mayflower

The New Mayflower

NASA

“You would be well advised to compare the flight paths of your Mayflower and the Sang-Ashi probe.”

“NASA can do that Mr. Afridi, especially since a security breach was uncovered in the Mission protocols.”

“Then you have seen what these people are capable of. Do not underestimate their reach or cunning.”

“I will pass on your concerns.” Sandi Gilbert removes her flight cap to add, “Please excuse me for saying so, but whoever “they” are, have been dogging your ass ever since you left Talibanistan.”

“Thank you for noticing… now can I see my family?”

— Some lessons can only be learned the hard way and for NASA, a non-warring agency of peaceful exploration, it is difficult to shift mental philosophies mid-mission.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 124


pages 118 + 119

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 87

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 87

…“And you found out that I am a sucker for a beautiful girl with a gun pointed at her head!”…

Big Red Lollipop by Donna Pomponio

“You are bluffing.”

“Am I?” Roy Crippen retorts.

Perhaps because his ears were burning from the flush of embarrassment, or out of shear frustration, he rips off his elastic face/mask, revealing the fire in his eyes. He is also nobody’s’s fool.

Rather than reacting irrationally, he decides to act on a more limited target, while outwardly staying cool.

Enough time has ticked off the countdown clock that Roy can sense the reversing of fortunes.

His assumption is premature, upon seeing Gherkin Dogman turn calmly, raise his weapon and aim it at Francine’s head. Without hesitating he dives headlong into the man, a tackle with the greatest execution, causing the furious spray of bullets to go straight up.

With the noose of reinforcements closing in around them and Gherkin/whomever intentions clear to his men, they are firing in an instant… not at Francine but in the direction of Gantry #2, with the Russian-made jetcopter rising off the ground, pivoting to fire its lethal boom-001payload.

By the time the copter has turned, a good-guys Image result for good guysshoulder-fired missile takes it down in a fiery heap and not a single hostile bullet finds its mark, while the foreign boots-on-the-ground are mowed down like so many weeds.

Roy Crippen has the lone survivor of the raid pinned beneath him, pretty much alongside where Francine spent those terrifying few seconds. Both she and he are very fortunate survivors, given the fact that they were the only participants without a gun.

Francine is lucky in another sense: 100 out of 100 journalists would have given their right arm to be at the scene of the 21st Century’s most compelling stories. But that wasn’t on her mind right now, “That was the bravest thing I have ever seen Roy, live or on video.”

“Had to save that “space-plane”, right Gherkin?” he says while looking down. And you found out that I am a sucker for a beautiful girl with a gun pointed at her head. In the fog of conflict, Roy reacted the only way he knew how. (Never give a sucker an even break)

He actually was thinking of her first, even before his precious Space Colony.t-minus-to-launch-001

They are soon surrounded by Mission Control Marines.

Braden King declares, “T-minus 00:10.00 and counting all systems go in the launch of the deep-space New Mayflower. The sky is high and we have two important people waiting for us.”


THE RETURN TRIP

im-a-sucker-001

Episode 87


page 82

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 86

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 86

…“That’s right you terrorist fools,” adds the previously apprehensive now animated Francine, noticing that the odds may soon even out…

Related image

Dogs Playing Poker, 1903 – C. M. Coolidge

“As you may have guessed, I am not Gurkhas Dhangotma; in fact, my name is not important. What does matter is that we have you and this female as hostages and we insist that you cancel that silly rescue plane to save your imperialistic friends.”checklist-001

The foreigner’s English fluency is markedly better than he recalls, spoken with the conviction of 10 other automatic weapons.

“Sorry Pal! That bird goes off at 11:57 C.S.T. no matter what happens to me, especially since you snakes did such a good job of slithering in under our radar.” Roy is matter-of-fact, having the facts and a lump at the top of his spine.

“You are risking your lives for those of two others so far away? What do they matter?”

“I only speak for me, but I have had it with all you fringe groups trying to have it your way. Jealousy is not a cause to follow; it is a coward’s lot in life… and if you haven’t looked around lately, you may have done-waked-up the good guys.”Related image

“That’s right you terrorist fools,” adds the previously apprehensive now animated Francine rolls the dice, noticing that the odds may soon even out.

With his bluff being called in question, “Gherkin” does not panic or display fear, “We are not terrorists, for if we were such men, we would have opened fire on your rescue vessel with our gunship, instead of bothering with you two. We have no need of furthers deaths when we can accomplish our feat of putting an end to the colonization of space without firing a canon. We will interfere with your silly rescue.”

t-minus-to-launch-001Give the man credit for his utter gall, but as Braden King blares “t-minus 00:20.00 minutes” Roy has achieved his ace-in-the-hole, in gambling terms.

“You are determined Gherkin, I’ll give you that, but at the 20 minutes mark your best laid plans have left you fail-safeempty handed.” Roy walks freely in the brawlers’ circle. “The launch is now in fail-safe mode. Only the mission computers can abort the launch…..and they do not know a gun from a slingshot.”

“You are bluffing.”

“Am I?”


THE RETURN TRIP

poker

by Mollie B

Episode 86


page 81

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 85

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 85

…“Gherkin Dogman!” Roy storms the recognized authority figure, the mysterious temporary Spatial Debris tech, but the butt of a rifle stops him in his tracks….

Image result for identity artwork

Identity by artist Nick Gentry

meanwhile-caption-001“T-minus 0:42 minutes, all systems are green and go for the second manned flight to Mars,” Braden King is giving the greater space community an update.t-minus-to-launch-001

In the case of Roy Crippen and Francine Bouchette, intercom chatter is their audible
window into the coming tight launch window, the many stars a’twinkling yet shedding not a useful light on this moonless night, on the grounds surrounding the New Mayflower.

“Everything is alright Roy, perhaps our suspicions were unfounded,” she states, swayed by the positive update so close to launch.

They are pretty far out onto the tarmac when he tells her, “Let’s not take any chances,” taking her by the hand and sprinting toward Colony Mission Control and away from Gantry #2, where the New Mayflower sits brightly lit, launch vapor pouring from its 450 stance.

As they are running, skimming a scant 2 feet above the flat ground a jetcopter sweeps onto the scene, without US Air Force markings and not with the friendliest intent.

“That is a Mil Mi-38 Hind attack helicopter,” charging through the pitch-black
darkness, beneath the radar of a non-military installation. It drops and blocks their further advance.

These interlopers know their targets, with the swift effectiveness of a SWAT team, more than 10 armed men leap from open doors, before it touches down. The head start gives them a decided advantage, securing the intended hostages with ease.

Roy’s initial response to capture is to wax heroic, but disadvantageous numbers fly in the face of logic; an automatic weapon held by a familiar face decides the matter and that is that.

“I knew he would be foolish,” the supposed leader of the force speaks in some mischievous blend of Hindi and English.

“Gherkin Dogman!” Roy storms the recognized authority figure, the mysterious temporary Spatial Debris tech, but the butt of a rifle stops him in his tracks.

“No!” Francine pushes aside the assault-weapon-wielding thug to come to the aid of her fallen new friend. Other than an ugly lump at the base of his skull, the stirring new-mayflower-001victim is not seriously injured.

“As you may have guessed, I am not Gurkhas Dhangotma; in fact, my name is not important. What does matter is that we have you and this female as hostages and we insist that you cancel that silly rescue plan to save your imperialistic friends.”

–  A rather simplistic description of the New Mayflower and its new mission.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 85


page 80

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