THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 111

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 111

…Princess Cerella shares her ordeal on Earth, with one-on-ones and face-to-faces…

Face to Face by Stewart Kelly

After skimming through the actual piece of paper {unheard of these days}, its magnitude sinks in, the least of which is 2 less place settings, Francine rouses the gang to attention, with more than the sweet smell of bacon.

Each of the King Ranch residents takes a turn at reading the Epistle from Eridanus. What a cruel way to start a Saturday, having family members ripped from your midst, unannounced at that.

The only individual who will not understand for months to come is young Marscie McKinney. How do you explain such interstellar interactions to a toddler? Somewhere among the excuses must come impossible understanding.

Gus and Mindy hold each other like Gus is headed to prison with a life sentence hanging over his head.

Roy and Francine wonder where time has gone, recalling the days when Gus and Deke were harder to coral than Houdini, the longhorn steer.

One person left off the salutation is Dr. Jean-Luc Picard. His stellar {inter} care of Cerella and Joyner was not only necessary, but critical in their survival. So far as he was torn from his own Alpine world, he had grown attached to his patient{s} in a personal way. He has experienced the Texas-sized down-home hospitality provided by the entire King Ranch populous, right down to the men who clean the barns.

Picard takes his leave, forever changed by the experience, but not his taste for the Suisse high life.

Eridanus is abuzz with the spreading news of Princess Cerella’s return and of course her royal child, Joyner. Even after her return, what did not come back is her previous telekinetic prowess, so the sharing of her ordeal begins with one-on-one face-to-faces, she communicates in her own letter:


THE NULL SOLUTION

Episode 111


page 110

THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 84

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 84

…It is not long before Jean-Luc’s lone{star} Texas patient comes to him with concerns concerning her possible return to Eridanus…

“Lorgan… what?”

“Exactly. What will it do when it sees Gus coming? He happened to scare that shiny vagabond a while back, while it was hiding behind the sun.”

“You Americans really get around these days!” It is hard to impress the Swiss physician, but he is. “And you spell your spacecraft “S-E-X”? What marvelously fun?”

“Like SCIFI isn’t a funny name for a bunch of doctors? Actually it’s spelled capital S-capital E– lower case x,, but pronounced es-ex phonetically and is short for Stellar Explorer.”

“How clever you Americans!” Gus McKinney is mocking a man who is too smart to be mocked.

“Én realité, I think it quite sophomoric, messieurs.”

“Touché Doc. But it’s only between us NASA-types. If the public caught us making fun of SOL, we would lose public support,” Roy states pragmatically.

“But it is in bold letters on the side of the ship!” Details – details. “It seems the public knows very little of what you are doing?”

“Say Gus,” Roy changes the subject, “why don’t you and Fitch prepare our “sexy” machine ready for a quick trip.”

It is back to referencing their escapades on a need-to-know basis.

It is not long before Jean-Luc’s lone{star} Texas patient comes to him with concerns concerning her possible return to Eridanus. Even though she is being treated like a princess and “prince” Joyner is taking to Texas like it is the only home he knows, Cerella is homesick.

The fact that Celeste has informed the folks back home, specifically Deke, about Cerella’s relative safety {and bundle of joy}, she would rather catch the next stagecoach to Eridanus… this despite everyone suspecting the contrary.

“Not from this end you aren’t. Unless your people can figure things out back there, you are stuck here, purement et simplement.” The French adverb is fancy window-dressing.

He could not possibly know of all the potential scenarios and his motives may be slightly selfish. But for the time being, she is the intellectual property of the Suisse Conjoined Institute of Fetal Integrity or as the Americans like to refer to it as SCIFI.

Stardate 2053.999 is ending very much like it started.


THE NULL SOLUTION

Episode 84


page 85 (end ch. 7)

THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 83

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 83

…that was 20 years ago, was it not? I am surprised you have your sanity…

From David Sipress NYTimes

“My friends call me Locutus,” Picard surprises everyone with his quick retort.

It is hard to catch an astronaut off balance.

“He’s messing with you Gussy. Good one Picard, I like your style!” And Roy means it. “Speaking of stranger than fiction, are Deke’s princess and her “child” in any danger by remaining on Earth?”

“No. It appears that water, oxygen and such are mutual environmental requirements, though I think Cerella is used to substantially more oxygen. That’s why it is fortuitous that you happen to have a hyperbaric chamber out here in the middle of nowhere…”

“I bet we could hop over to Mars, right damn now, and set up shop Crip!”

“You are just itching to out there and check it out, I can tell.”

“Well, we are flying blind if we don’t. We need answers. We should provide answers before some amateur astronomer with a powerful enough telescope spots what’s Image result for keeping balls in the air gifgoing on and starts some video that goes viral.”

“We are keeping far too many balls in the air, son; some distant civilization is coming to get us – no one has noticed that Deke isn’t on the damned planet – And that’s just for starters.”

“Is that Joyner’s father?” Inquiring minds need to know.

“Yep Doc. And until Cerella plopped into your lap, we weren’t sure what happened to him… we didn’t even know where the hell Sampson and Celeste McKinney went.”

“The parents, ah yes, I remember now, but that was 20 years ago, was it not? I am surprised you have your sanity.”

“I may not after all, if I agree to let Gus take SEx out to Mars. For as many questions that you have helped us answer, there are as many or more we haven’t a clue about… like what’s behind the Martian reboot or that enigma wrapped in a riddle & shrouded in mystery that we have named Lorgan.”

“Lorgan… what… and Essex, huh?” J-L P would relate better to plain SEX.


The NULL Solution =

Episode 83


page 84

THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 82

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 82

…Jean-Luc uses the time away from Switzerland for a sabbatical of sorts, if one considers conversation about speed-of-light or missing cattle a retreat…

The whole Martian affair should not merit any guesswork, fruitless from such a distance, certainly for King Ranch residents Roy, Francine, Gus, Mindy and recent migrants, Princess Cerella and attending physician Jean-Luc Picard.

Babies Marscie & Joyner make for a full house on the Texas prairie. Joyner can talk before he can walk and Marscie usually cannot wait for naptime. She will stretch it out as long as she can for a little peace and quiet. It is not his English, rather the copious doses of olde language melodies. He doesn’t shut up.

Jean-Luc uses the time for a sabbatical of sorts, if one considers conversation about speed-of-light or missing cattle a retreat. He has managed to occasionally slip away to Texas Children’s Hospital to check out stateside medicine, the main purpose of which is to feed his fascination with nurses of the female persuasion. American women are so American and until he figures out that certain someone on the pediatric ICU floor, he will keep coming back.–

–“Do you know anything of the Star Trek entertainment franchise?” Back in the day, it was right in Roy’s wheelhouse. It acts as an icebreaker excuse to converse with Picard.

“A film may have crossed a device of mine in the past. It is quite amusing. Why do you ask?”

“Tell me your parents didn’t name you after a certain starship captain. It has bugged me ever since I agreed to take your call.”

“Mon pére et mére are bookworms not video aficionados. I am sorry to disappoint you, monsieur.”

Gus McKinney did not have the guts to ask before now, “No? That’s a good thing Jean-Luc. It just took us a while to get used to calling you by name. It just didn’t feel right.”

“My friends call me Locutus.”

It is hard to catch an astronaut off balance.


THE NULL SOLUTION

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Episode 82


page 83

THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 76

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 76

… the Space Family McKinney is exceeding its status as kings of deep space lore…

While hearing of Cerella’s recent travails first hand, where she actually left out the details of the dark space she occupied for months, Gus can hardly contain himself. One part joy – two parts anger, he wonders why a clearer message was not sent, rather than the fleeting apparitions in dribs & drabs, albeit cryptic clues about his family.

“We could not risk the current timestem on sentimentality,” she explains.

“And yet you plopped the technology for the molecular stabilizer and Warp 3 in our laps?”

“And disruptor weapon and force field?” adds Roy.

“If Celeste McKinney and I do not stabilize the molecules within your spacecraft, you both would have been lost.”

“Celeste and Sampson, they’re alive too!”

“… and your sister Deimostra.”

A sense of irony has grabbed the headlines.

“We named our baby daughter Marscie Deimos for crying out loud! Did you hear that Roy, I have a sister?”

For as long as Dr. Picard will allow, Cerella narrates the full McKinney saga as best as she can. Mars to NEWFOUNDLANDER, NEWFOUNDLANDER to Eridanus and now Explorer to the ends of the Milky Way and beyond, the Space Family McKinney is exceeding its status as kings of deep space lore.

A “somehow” family reunion is in order, but first Cerella must recover and the NASA boys need to regroup. If only they could call over to Eridanus and make the arrangements. Lost on all the Earthly excitement is that Deke and Co. are no doubt worried silly. Before she conceived, Cerella would have been able to use hyperphysical transmigration to facilitate or at the very least reestablish a telepathic connection with home, but Picard’s surgery did not preserve those extraordinary Eridanian functions. Although he firmly believes that a brain will find a way to mend broken links.

Too bad, either option would come in handy right now.


THE NULL SOLUTION

Episode 76


page 78

THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 75

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 75

…I hope this isn’t a wild goose chase…

Illustration by Jayden and Angela Keoghan

Image result for engage jean luc picard— Mach not Warp 4 would be more like it, but 3000 mph still gets it done. Cruising at 80,000 feet, Gus swears he catches a glimpse of something round and shiny.

“There’s a lot of tin up here Gus, you know that.”

“But we haven’t spotted Lorgan since the Korean Incident. Don’t you think it’s about time?”

“We cannot lay blame or give credit for everything that goes on around here on Lorgan.”

“Hey Roy,” it is Fletcher Fitch, “we just had a Lorgan sighting.”

“Roger that Fitch. Keep our eyes peeled for it or anything else that flies, crawls, swims or runs.”

“See what I mean! I am getting a nose for bogies.”

“You have a nose for dirty diapers, that’s what I think.”

“I was looking for a good excuse to get out of the house.”

I hope this isn’t a wild goose chase.

“Quail.”

“Wild McKinney chase. If a brain surgeon can deliver a baby, two rocket scientists should be able to solve a simple case of mistaken identity.”

“He did say alien, right? Engadin Airport to starboard – dropping below Mach 1. It’s 5 km to St. Moritz by ground. Did you did say he was going to meet us here?”

“He’ll be here, trust me, the guy is no quack.”

–30 minutes after touchdown–

“Where is the damned quack?!” Roy likes flying, but he hates wasting his time on ground transportation.

“I told you we should fly into Malpensa Italy. They have trains to St. Moritz 24/7.”

“Here he comes, I think – fancy car, one passenger and 40 minutes late. Lock‘er up Gus. We need it for the blast home — Dr. Picard, we were beginning to wonder.”

“It is an honor and a pleasure to meet you President Crippen. Your reputation precedes you.”

“Call him Prez Roy, everybody else does,” Gus extends his hand, “Gus McKinney… nice little patch of flat ground you have.”

“Gus McKinney from the famous space family, I feel like I already know you.” Now that they got the star-struck segment out of the way, “Sorry I’m late Prez Roy, but my patient woke up from Recovery and wanted to see her baby, if you want to call it a baby… he has an estimated I.Q. of a five-year-old already.”

“Did you say he? Well, if he asked you stop for a hamburger, I’d bet your accounts receivable that he is a McKinney.” Roy would never bet his own money.

“I’ll take that bet Roy and give you 5 to 1 odds that he isn’t, too many what ifs and impossible{s},” chimes in Gus.

“Gentlemen, gentlemen, please refrain from gambling my practice away until you interview this incredible female. It took her a while, but she picked up the language quickly… after hours of sounding like a flute. She has quite a story to tell, doesn’t know how she got here though, and with all due modesty, I believe that I’m the only doctor who could have separated mother from child. It took me 12 hours.”

“And I bet she left her insurance card at home.”

“We have universal health care in Switzerland.”

“Literally.” Roy concludes, with Eridanus in mind.


THE NULL SOLUTION

Episode 75


page 78

THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 74

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 74

… Jean-Luc Picard? You have to be bleeping me! How does a crackpot with a fake name get through to me?…

–Dripping with sweat and exhausted to the bone, Jean-Luc walks out of Surgical Suite #3. He is still not sure what is going on with this alien’s backstory, but one thing is sure, the baby is human – mostly. The mother is definitely not, but does manage to pen the letters M_C_K_I_N_N_E_Y   D_E_K… on the paper provided her, and then passes out.

“McKinney… McKinney… why does that name ring a bell?” While his patient{s} are in Recovery, he dashes back up to search that name of Irish origin. “The damn Space Family McKinney, that’s who I was thinking about!” He does a Wikipedia for detail to augment what he already knows. “Gus M., an astronaut living in Texas – his parents disappeared from Mars in 2030, his brother in 2051. They were adopted by none other than a president of the US – Roy Crippen now of NASA fame.”

It may be a longshot, but Dr. Picard manages to track down a secure line to King Ranch, Waller County Texas…

The last time Roy Crippen took a call such as this, it was some {alleged} lunatic scientist from Talibanistan {aka Fletcher Fitch}, claiming that he knew about a plot to blow up Space Colony 1. He better take this one seriously, just to be safe. “Doctor Jean-Luc Picard? You have to be bleeping me! How does a crackpot with a fake name get through to me?

After explaining the subject matter of the strange call, Roy decides to vet the good doctor, with the vast technical resources at his beckon. “And the woman that you describe as an alien wrote the word McKinney?”

“… With the letters d, e & k at the end.”

“Could that be Deke? No that is impossible. Deke McKinney has been missing for 15 years or more! You’re way over in Switzerland you say? Aw hell, give me your address and we’ll over in… what time is it here? 4A makes it noon by you. We will be there before 4P your time.”

“Speaking of impossible…”

“We, that would be Gus McKinney and I, have the fastest plane on the planet, Jean-Luc – like warp 4.”

Picard indeed…’ Roy shakes his head and gives Gus a wake-up call he won’t soon forget.–


THE NULL SOLUTION

Episode 74


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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 73

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 73

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

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

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

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

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

“How did she get in?”

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

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

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

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

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


THE NULL SOLUTION

Episode 73


page 75

THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 72

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 72

…Jean-Luc has broken three Rossignol skies, ten poles, one ankle and beaucoup hearts.

CHAPTER SEVEN

SCIFI

The country of Switzerland continues to be a bastion of neutrality to this day, even halfway into the 21st Century. That nonalignment usually keeps their nose clean, despite the trillions in dirty money and ill-gotten gains stored in financial institutions within their borders.

Tucked in the middle of the European Union, perched mostly in the Alps, officially named the Swiss Confederation, it has strong sense of identity and community and is founded on common historical background. Its linguistic diversity is representative of the people.  Svizra, Svizzera, Schweiz, ʒviːtsrɐ and Suisse are national labels attached to it; pick your flavor.

SCIFI chooses Suisse; hence the Suisse Conjoined Institute of Fetal Integrity which is to say that it specializes in separating babies joined by some body part. Dr. Jean-Luc Picard is a world-renowned authority in the cranial niche. When babies share a skull, he is the surgeon who untangles them. He is the only Frenchman doing it – he is the only human doing it.

Considering how rare such births are, Jean-Luc has a lot of time on his hands. Dust accumulation is the biggest threat to the sterility of his office. He is an avid skier and hiker, so St. Moritz is where he calls home. His operating room is wherever a patient is.

2052 has been a slow year for the cranial conjoined. He does do other surgeries, though some of his critics believe he would make a better doctor to ghosts than a brain surgeon. Consequently, he is breaking no records for productivity; however he has broken two Rossignol skies, ten poles, one ankle and beaucoup hearts. He is a handsome man, as they say in France.

Oh, that broken ankle? It has compelled him to spend more time at his craft. As for those broken hearts, one is seated at the reception desk of his SCIFI office building. “Good afternoon, Charlize. Do I have any messages?” English is his language of choice.

“Oui, deux,” hers is not and she passes 2 pink pieces of paper his way. It was only last month that she caught him with another girl. She didn’t believe it was a cousin of his for a single moment.


THE NULL SOLUTION

Episode 72


page 75

THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 71

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 71

…For most of these eleven months, Cerella has had the luxury of letting nature take its course….

“What is the duration of gestation for a birth in these parts? Do you know what I mean?” Celeste McKinney needs some Eridanian insight if she is to understand the direness of Deke’s unborn {they believe} child..

Ekcello needs a very good memory for this. No birth has taken place here for… forever. “I have no way of knowing that answer.  Our longevity negates the need for a new generation. As a civilization, we procreate outside the physical body, although tales of old are told about the times before our home planet vulcanized. We were going to research the subject soon. Poor Cerella will be discovering the birthing process all alone.”

Just like anxiety, empathy also falls fresh on his spirit.

Momentum Into Nothingness by Cristina Velina

It has been eleven Earth months since she conceived. For most of that time Cerella has had the luxury of letting nature take its course. After all, she controlled her own environment and whatever happened was okay. Deke was there.

Deke is not here.

Nothing seems to be here.

And yet her needs are being met; out-of-the-black, not down nor up and without asking. Something or someone seems to have her best interest in mind.

Nothing used to be here.

So, there in the quiet of her aloneness, she discovers that she is indeed not completely alone. During this dark time, in fits and spurts, she would be overrun by a chorus of the Olde Language. Like a blast from the past, cogent songs of life and love ooze into her consciousness. Simple, yet complex; new, yet old; content, yet anxious, something inside her was pleading, ever politely.

It was the new life inside her.

No more does the mystery of an Eridanian female carrying child go unsolved. The process is nearing completion, but among the sweet melodies, a sour note is struck. There was a human being, an Earthling involved. Deke’s genome, the interspecies germination, has manifested itself in the body of his mate for life, Cerella.

The resulting lifeform needs to come out, but it is not an unpretentious or prescribed sequence. Mother and child are alone. They are together. They are in trouble.

Apprehension and despair abound in the Milky Way.


THE NULL SOLUTION

Episode 71


page 74 (end ch. 6)