THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 197

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 THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 197

…“I can’t make a move without someone seeing me, so why didn’t we think of Crippen having a family room cam?”…

Lavatory Humor

The Freelove/Cauley campaign had a statistical lead of +/- 5 points going into October 2032, even after the “McKinney Memorial” sympathy-bump that Crippen/Walker had received. But numerical numbers in straw polls sometimes lie and they could not resist the temptation to release the audio date-rape-tape of Deke on Susannah Grisbaum to every yellow-media outlet and social site possible. It is done in anonymous fashion and microphones don’t lie, right?

But just as audio can be misconstrued, video cannot and the family room recordings of the events on the night of the “Rising Star” are submitted to the all the accredited broadcast channels, digital, analog, printed, virtual or actual.

And while there was initial outrage over the candidate stepson’s supposed indiscretions, the instantaneous nature of the Crippen response throws Sylvia Freelove for a loop.

“This is not going to play well in Lake Placid, Skip,” she speaks from a New York hotel damage-control room. “We’ve been outed as the source of the audio and Crippen has synced it up with the video …….sh*t, she is not a very good g** d****d actress!”

“Who knew they had security cams in a family room?”

“I can’t take a pee without someone seeing me, so why didn’t we think of that?”

“I’ve released that statement from you stating that we were set up and that Congressman Grisbaum is out of the country and unavailable for comment. Maybe the Spanish language outlets were asleep at the switch and missed this whole thing,; that will minimize the damage.”

As October draws to a close, it turns out that just about everyone has caught on to the Freelove attempt to sully her opponent by trying to setup national iconic up-and-comer like Deke McKinney. In two blasts of a shuttle thruster, their 5 point advantage slumps to a 10 point deficit… and that may be generously quoted.


THE RETURN TRIP

Reversal of Fortune collage by Saatchi Art Artist Ralph Michael Brekan;

Episode 197


page 183

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 196

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 196

…“Deke McKinney,” she is sure to identify the concerned parties, “take your hands off me!”…

It’s a Trap by Bedard

“Thank you Deke, you make everything happen just like that.” This was her opening to move in closer, for a comfy viewing angle and an excusable snuggle. He does not see any harm in this move, in fact he prefers Susannah’s proximity for a movie showing to Gus, who doesn’t have great smelling hair… or great smelling anything.

About an hour into the movie, a nomadic vampire decides he will hunt Bella for sport and at their first confrontation, Susannah is startled and lets-loose shrieks of horror, acting like she is being attacked; she takes it way over the top and provokes Deke into trying to cajole her.

“Deke McKinney,” she is sure to identify the concerned parties, “take your hands off my bra!” She exposes more than the straps of her Victoria Secret push-up for him to see. She syncs her actions to what’s happening on the 60” screen, with Edward Cullen exposing Bella’s neck for a midnight munch.

Deke thinks she is merely acting out, like when there out riding horses and she takes off and hides in the bushes.

At the point of Twilight when Bella is seriously wounded by James and Edward kills James, she unleashes a bloodcurdling scream, while exposing the breast closest to Deke, who is starting to get freaked.

“Settle down Susannah, whoah, let me help you with your shirt.”

“Take your hands off of me; I’m not ready for sex!”

“Don’t be afraid, I won’t hurt you!”

“That’s what you said the last time,” she tells him as she reaches for her phone (to hang up on the surreptitious call), pretending to check the time after the movie ends. “Can you take me back to my hotel now Deke? Thank you for the great time.”

The poor stiff stands there still baffled by what he had just witnessed. She has always been a bit off-the-wall, but this act was borderline bizarre.

“Sure, no problem, I will give you some shorts and a highly collectible King Ranch t-shirt. Don’t forget you’re dress and shoes.” Even in the face of a fickle female, Deke McKinney’s good character is on display.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 196


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 195

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 195

…In the back of her tainted mind, lurk the words of her father telling her to set the scene for a mock sexual assault…

But, as the other girls are swallowing her stories whole, wishing that that young space cadet across the room were with them, Dashing Deker is probably telling his own tales of romance and upcoming conquest to his buddies.

“She’s a little on the immature side,” Deke relates to his friends, “kind of spoiled maybe, I don’t know. But she is fun to hang out with and you have to love those boobs!”

It’s a good thing nobody in the girl-gaggle can read lips.

The rest of the night falls more into the lines of expectation, when nearing the end of the night some serious posturing is taking place on the dance floor. The frenzied techno-muzic is reduced to belly rubbing ballads; where pelvis-grinding is an art form and tonsil-hockey the standard form of communication.

Deke McKinney’s hormones are not completely dormant, though his thoughts are about the approaching ranch where Braden King has set out the hors d’oeuvres and programmed the gaming system.

Susannah Grisbaum is not entirely pleased with the nonfictional version of her evening with Deke, or the pace at which her fantasies are coming true… or not. Her fib-flaunting talk among the girls is not exactly a replacement for the “real thing”; like a Coca Cola without the carbonation.

She is about to add some hot fizz.

“I’m going to get out of this dress.” She helps herself to the bathroom and slips on an oversize, off-the-shoulder t-shirt.

In the back of her tainted mind, lurk the words of her father telling her to set the scene for a mock sexual assault. It won’t be so hard to make it sound like Deke is trying to take advantage of her underage assets. So while he touts the deli tray, she dials her father’s voicemail and the speakerphone is set to “deceptive”.

“Can we sit on the couch and watch a movie, like an on-demand dusty like Les Miserables or Twilight; yeah Twilight and you can be my Edward.” She refers to the teen movie classic.

“I like Bella, sure we can do the vampire thing,” he pounds the remote keys with the skill of a video master. “Here we go. I cannot remember the last time I saw the original.”


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 195


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 194

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 THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 194

…“SO what kind of kisser is Deke McKinney, Susannah? Is he as dreamy as he looks?” is a representative sample of the girl talk…

Award-winning Illustrator Alexei Vella

“SO what kind of kisser is Deke McKinney, Susannah? Is he as dreamy as he looks?” is a representative sample of the girl talk.

In reality, Miss Grisbaum possesses a puny portfolio of Deke-isms. Their dates are fun beyond explanation, but the devil is in the details. By every definition, the elder McKinney is a straight shooter, even to the point of, do I dare say, boring? If you were his sister, instead of an aspiring debutante, his idea of fun would be… unpretentious hearty fun.

Oh Susannah, if she so chose to, would accurately relate these intimate facts about her Space Academy 18th Annual “Rising Star Dance” date:

  • He’s a great hand holder
  • He is Sonic Burger’s best customer
  • He drives jet cycles fast (so she can grasp his 25” waist tightly)
  • He rides his horse at a full gallop (so she can hang on to him for dear life)
  • He’s the best cheek pecker this side of the Mississippi

Oh what, Oh Susannah actually says is:

  • “We spend hours and hours looking out at the stars, sometimes waking up the next morning in each other’s’ arms.”
  • “And his kisses nearly drive me to insanity, long and really wet.” (she wishes)
  • “He once told me that he would like us to be like his mom & dad…. partners forever.”

“You are so lucky Suzy!”

“And he is taking me back to his house on the King Ranch after the dance,” that much is true. “His stepdad is running for President, can you believe it?” True again. “They are out of town and I think he wants to have his way with me!” Only if he wants to be grounded for a light-year.

But, as the other girls are swallowing her stories whole, wishing that that young space cadet across the room were with them, Dashing Deker is probably telling his own tales of romance and upcoming conquest to his buddies.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 194


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 189

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 189

…“Sweet Susannah is 15 years old and Deke McKinney doesn’t know it…

The Freelove (for President) campaign, even though it is leading by all  polling accounts, is having a hard time gaining any further traction, as September bleeds into October. Incumbency has its advantages, though complacency is an inconvenient byproduct.

“I think we need to muddy the water a bit,” offers Skip Chandler, the Freelove Campaign Strategist. “I have been doing a little digging on that oldest McKinney boy Deke.”

“What do you mean by “digging”,” Sylvia Freelove asks of her chief aide?

Space Academy

“Well he has asked a girl to be his date for the Space Academy “Catch a Rising Star” Dance.”

“He is an all-American 19 year-old male, what is unusual about that?”

“Well she happens to be the daughter of one of my former colleagues in the House.”

“So?”

“He’s a Democrat.”

“So are most New Mexicans.”

“She’s not going to be 16 until December.”

“My daughter has dated an older guy, that’s why they invented birth control.”

“Sweet Susannah is 15 years old and Deke McKinney doesn’t know it. Her daddy told me that because she skipped two grades, she is a senior, but that “hick hunk from Houston” thinks she is or about to be 18.”

“That’s all fine and dandy Skip, but what does all this have to do with muddying the waters? Those McKinney boys were probably raised on the silly notion that you wait to have sex until you get married.”

“Absurd isn’t it? And just like that squaresville Crippen; out of touch and morally pious he is.” Skip Chandler speaks for his new-ageness, as well as his boss’ immoral belief system. “They have gone out on a few dates, but Congressman Daddy tells me she is getting bored with him. I think we can fix things so that we can claim that Deke forced himself on her……at the dance, in public and the poor innocent Susannah ends up with a torn dress and a broken heart.”

“That is quite a story you have there. But that seems a bit risky at this stage of the game.”

“We could use an “October Surprise” Sylvia. If we can’t touch Crippen or Walker, why not go after his step-kids? It will make ol’ Roy look like a bad parent.”


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 189


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 156

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 156

…Mustering any more international mischief will be hard for this evil alliance to do…

–So in the midst of their puffy-chested revelry, when all their focus is on the gloryRelated image of recent triumphs, three supersonic bombers streak across the Arctic Ice Cap, under, around, and through Korean blind defenses. The government complex housing the conspiring power-brokers is leveled in an instant. Two other {space-connected} facilities are also destroyed, as well as seaports Wonsan, and Hamhung. No embargoes will be necessary.

Three more stealth bearers-of-bombs come up from the Indian Ocean on their way to Baikonur Cosmodrome and some sweet strategic points in Talibanistan. Before the sun can clear the horizon to the east, Talibanistani military installations go up in smoke and the Cosmodrome will not be hoisting any rockets for a very, very long time.

Mustering any more international mischief will be hard for this evil alliance to do.

The combined percentage loss to the two countries, when the military and governance vacuum is factored in, is near 85%. Assassinations of world leaders have been tried before, with varying results, attempted by people with different motives and ethnic derivations. Emperors have been betrayed, Kings have fallen, Presidents shot, but never before has a worldwide attack taken out the core leadership of world powers.

In United Korea, the Kim Jung-un lineage is stagnant and questionable, his offspring both being female. Succession to the throne will be chaotic for such an ordered {by sequestration} society.

And you thought they were upset about losing Sang-Ashi…

Talibanistan, on the other hand, has always been chaotic. When you bundle 6 countries together to make one big one, there is bound to be provincial squabbles. And with somebody always ready to take anybody’s place at any time, the melee free-for-all that ensues will prevent a unified response.

And they were so proud about their terrorist expertise…


THE RETURN TRIP

Lord of the Rings the LAST ALLIANCE – Artists: Jason Potratz & Jack Hai

Episode 156


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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


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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

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