THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 93

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 93

…It’s everybody for himself out here, unless it gets too close to home,  in which case NIMBY is how we on Earth phrase it…

— In the realm of sightseeing, doing so in space is unrewarding. Be it at the snail’s pace of SOLx1 or TSF compression, there is next to nothing to really see. The Orion Nebula is quite spectacular from a distance, but from a drive-by view, you cannot tell the mass from the gas.

During the McKinney NEWFOUNDLANDER stowaway voyage of some 4+ years, Sampson and Co. were quite literally bored stiff. Much of this perception is due to never coming within a million miles of anything.

At TSF {Time-Space-Fold}, this pair never comes within a million miles, only infinitely faster; boredom at a blur.

But for a Nullian space novice, the File:Comet and tail animation.gif - Wikipediahallmarks are wide-eyed and many. A NSO {near space object} as common as a comet is cause for wonder. Not long after spotting one such icy rocketeer, Skaldic still had to wait hours for it to get close enough to analyze.

“Comets are cosmic leftovers Skaldy, not a danger to anyone, although if one would collide with an inhabited planet, it would no longer be inhabited. The odds of that are incalculably scant though.”

“Scant like a Null, riding in a spacecraft, headed for a distant star?”

“Come to think of it, make sure that comet isn’t headed to Epsilon Eridani.  NIMBY is how we on Earth phrase it. It’s everybody for himself out here, unless it gets too close to home… like that is – that is.” Sam points to the viewscreen and the image of Mars.

They have entered the influence of Earth’s star and as luck would have it, the Red Planet is less than .0000005 degrees off their course to Earth. “I am going to swing by some old stomping grounds while we have the chance, for Auld Lang Syne.”

Not that Skaldic would mind. It will be something new to look at and he has heard the legend of how and where the McKinneys were whisked away aboard the ancient

Tycho

Eridanian Explorer. History is fun, unless you don’t like history, in which case you get an F for a grade.

“Slowing down to .45 SOL,” Sampson informs the latest edition of the accidental tourist, “crossing Neptune’s orbit – no other planet in our path. I want to see what Tycho looks like after all these years.”


THE NULL SOLUTION

Episode 93


page 94

THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 88

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 88

…Like a cat on a hot tin roof, some 20 billion beings, as disparate as the birth of a star is to a black hole, are longing for the days of old…

… out where Eridanians fear to tread, a coalition of another sort is serves its purpose in the form sharing current events. There is currently no exchange of ambassadors between allied cultures, so traditional forms of communication are vital for the well-being of all concerned.

Seljuk is pleased to learn {from Eridanus} that their disruptor ray and force-field are being put to good use by Earth. They are grieved to hear the news about Princess Cerella’s kidnapping and her eventual medical emergency on Earth, of all places.. They are pleased to know that Ekcello and the rest of the Gifted have been restored to their former giftedness.

…as they say.

In all the news that is fit to print from Seljuk, leader and raconteur Chasonn has some news of his own to share; both bad and good variety.

The bad news is that a gigantic planetary refuge/ship has been launched by the Ÿ€Ð.

The good news is that the entire population were able to escape Ÿ€Ðian home world before it was rear-ended by a sister world.

More possible bad news: they are on a course for Earth.

More possible good news: Chasonn and his people are poised along a path that leads from Galaxy Sexta A to the Milky Way.

No news would be better news.

Chasonn is a peaceful sort on most days, but he has done some scouting of his own and by the looks of Collapsar Axis, nothing good can come of its plodding progression through this greater Great Expanse neighborhood. Of the major civilizations in this sector, Chasonn’s steadying influence has resulted in intergalactic concordance. Nothing bad ever happens over this way, until he lost those three major outposts. And even though no lives were lost, a security blanket has been yanked away from them.

Misplaced security is the common thread intertwining nearly all parties concerned lately. In no particular order, but curiously serendipitous nonetheless, you have the Seljuk incident, the Eridanus episode, the Ÿ€Ð displacement and Earth on pins and needles.

Like a cat on a hot tin roof, some 20 billion beings, as disparate as the birth of a star is to a black hole, are longing for the days of old, i.e. Stardate 2029 when:

  • Chasonn had worked selflessly to make the Triangulum Galaxy a model cluster of stars.
  • Ekcello had the Gifted right where they wanted to be.
  • Earth was poised to colonize Mars.
  • Life was good.

Two decades later, all these feet are being held to the fire.

So what gives?


THE NULL SOLUTION

Coals in a Fire – photo from Mongkol Chakritthakool (footprints added)

Episode 88


page 89

THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 87

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 87

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

我是如何与为何阻止你的方式

2 + 1 = 6

6  –  2 = 9

0  –  1 = 0

解决了什么和在哪里谁,你可以通过

or

Wǒ shì rúhé yǔ wéi hé zǔzhǐ nǐ de fāngshì

2 + 1 = 6

6  –  2 = 9

0  –  1 = 0

jiějuéle shénme hé zài nǎlǐ shuí, nǐ kěyǐ tōngguò

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

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

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


THE NULL SOLUTION

Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center

Episode 87


page 88

THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 63

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 63

…Princess Cerella has vanished to who knows where and a vexed, perplexed & hexed civilization uses every means at its disposal to survive…

is everywhere. Lorgan is nowhere.  What substance is there to empty? Does it need a place to occupy? Is there up or down? Was there a beginning or is there an end? How does empty go from here to there?

“Did the cruiser capture the Eridanus princess? Much will be rewarded to that crew, should they carry off that kidnapping. Župzïð the Last is counting on a victory, to offset the mounting Ÿ€Ð losses. Though he is occupied with preparations for the Collapsar Axis, he will gladly raise a toast to a glorious victory.

At a whopping 10M cubic cubits Collapsar Axis is a bona fide original. It could hold {within its sprawling confines}:

  1. every single Eridanian tower/city
  2. Seljuk outpost #3
  3. The United States State of Wyoming
  4. the last shreds of a once proud Ÿ€Ð civilization and anyone else who wants to join that merry band of refugees

Collapsar Axis will not threaten any space-speed records, but by all accounts it is 28 times the size of O. It is neither planet nor spaceship, but it identifiable and quantifiable, neither of which O is.

They have known for quite some time, that the planet which they called home would be Image result for planets collide gifrear-ended by a sister globe, long before its atmosphere was laid waste. That inconvenience has only served to hasten their boarding.

“No, great Župzïð, the Eridanian female was not taken. She has vanished, as did our cruiser.”

The concept of irony is farfetched for the Ÿ€Ð.

&%#$+><* the one who bore you {a term of endearment}! I am tempted to strand everyone involved on our doomed world.”

“You cannot punish the air. There was no evidence of destruction, Great One.”

“We are down to 2 cruisers and I am supposed to be pleased?”

1 is the real count, after Chasonn’s new perimeter defense becomes suddenly lethal.


THE NULL SOLUTION

Episode 63


page 66

THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 62

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 62

…The place where Cerella finds herself:

It is neither light or dark – It is neither hot nor cold – It is what?…

“There is no use chasing ghosts, Deker,” Sampson reasons. “Even the most hopeless circumstance can work out; your mother and I, and your sister for Pete’s sake, are living proof.”

“Were you sucked into thin air? Don’t give me your survival speech again! That’s not the woman you love out –— there,” Deke flails his arms out of frustration.

Skaldic relates a relevant revelation, “There is no ion trail that suggests that Princess Cerella ended up on that maverick ship. In fact that ship’s warp signature is off our system grid.”

Ekcello, the single individual whose panic should pale all others, offers his lucid view, “Skaldic is correct. My daughter’s essence endures. However, I sense that she is alone, absolutely alone.”

“I concur, Ekcello.” Celeste casts her lot. “Should we be surprised whenever O   decides to show itself?”

A compassionate Deimostra draws her brother into a warm embrace. That simple act is the most effective of all. Nothing can replace physical contact for consoling the inconsolable.

Question: What would space be like without the stars?

  • It would be darker
  • It would be colder
  • It would be lifeless

If a spaceship explodes in space and there is no one around, does it make a sound?

That is precisely the sensation Cerella is experiencing, wherever she might be.

  • It is neither light or dark
  • It is neither hot nor cold
  • It is what?

Everywhere is somewhere…

  • She speaks but cannot hear
  • She has comfort
  • She feels her baby stir

Everywhere & Nowhere – Frida B, Austria

Even solitary confinement has its own brand of sensation; the smell of one’s own body, or the feeling that air is moving around you, or that a distant light offers hope for escape.

The place where Cerella finds herself has none of these.

If she were not so cerebral a being, her thoughts would lead her straight into a mental abyss. An abyss is what you make of it.

The wee life within her own body is crying out for answers, obviously the McKinney DNA at work.

‘I know not,’ she meditates.

What she can confirm, if she can trust her sense of optics, is that she inhabits a holographic reality. She is helpless to change her circumstance.


THE NULL SOLUTION

Episode 62


page 65

THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 58

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 58

…I have a disease that the there is no surefire cure…

“I don’t know, ever since these visions I’ve been having, I seem to get these flashes. Today’s flash must be happy,” Gus describes his state-of-mind to his stepfather.

About that time, his personal device tries to vibrate off his handy-dandy utility belt. It is hard to stay in the present, when your mind may be 40 trillion {unknowingly} miles away. The present is very persistent.

“Would you please respond to that? NASA devices do not exceed one alert, unless it is important, like when you are on the other side of the Sun.”

“It’s from Mindy. I’ve got to get back to the house.”

“I never thought I’d see the day when Gus McKinney is a henpecked husband!”

“You had the whole country henpecked for eight years,” that not-so-obscure reference to Francine Bouchette-Crippen is sufficient to silence the critic.–

— Moving at Earth-speed is so boring… until it isn’t.

“Do you remember our date night, the one after you returned from the Sun?”

“How can I forget? That movie we saw… wasn’t it Notebook: The Cure? Incurable diseases are so yesterday.”

“Well, I have a disease that the there is no surefire legal cure.”

She sounds serious enough for him to take notice. Do Earthmen really roll with the flow?

“We have access to the best doctors in the world Mindy. We can fight this!” which begs the question, “What exactly are we fighting?” His concern deepens.

You cannot be married to a McKinney male without having a sense of humor. “What has 4 limbs grows tall & strong and is destined to bear fruit?”

“A lemon tree?”

“Aren’t you sweet?”

“An apple tree?’

“You’re getting warm Adam.”

“I’m Gus.”

“Do you give up?”

Not in the McKinney dictionary.

Does this riddle have anything to do with his previously contented bliss?

“Does your riddle have anything to do with my good mood, before you turned it into a quiz?”

“Time is up!”

Mindy McDonald-McKinney holds up a doctor’s prescription for prenatal medication.

What do you think the expectant father does first?

“Mindy is pregnant, Dad!” He rings up Roy to share the news. Then he ponders her quiz, “4 limbs blah, blah… bear fruit? Does that mean it’s a girl?”

Parents on this side of Stardate 2031 do not get a choice about getting a surprise or not. Oh sure the pregnancy may be, but not the xx or xy factor.

Over on Eridanus

“You look doubly content, Deke,” Celeste notices.

Long after getting his baby news, something washes over Deke McKinney.

“I don’t know…, but I am feeling happy about something else, can’t explain it.”

Outside the Null Tower

“Are things ever going to change for the Null?” Offingga asks Skaldic.

“They already have.”

The future of the Null is NOT void.


THE NULL SOLUTION

Episode 58


page 61 (end ch. 5)

THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 52

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 52

…Parsec after parsec blows by and not an Antaran inch is gained…

Reticence and restraint are not a qualities that the Ÿ€Ð possess. Distrust and distress however are present in spades.

Instead of lying back among the comets and asteroids, they panic at the next sighting of O  . The unmanned recon spacecraft are replaced by a warrior filled squadron, not seen in these parts for eons.

During this sighting-turned-encounter, O does not just vanish into thin air. Nor does it dash off at blinding speeds. What it does do is toddle off to a certain distance then maintains that distance. As hard as the Ÿ€Ð paddle, all available paddles in the water, they cannot catch up.

The commander of the 13-unit Ÿ€Ð fleet feels like he is being taunted. Parsec after parsec blows by and not an Antaran Inch is gained. The only way to bridge the gap is with the weapons that are normally used to terrorize opponents, generally to a bad end for the hunted.

But even when armed and lethal, the orders to fire are on ice. Perhaps there are questions about their weapons at great distance. Or perhaps such a prolonged sighting has them mesmerized.

Either way, the chase goes on.

And then the fleeting object slows below the speed at which light goes from here to there. Herein lies that all-important time, the critical time when crucial decisions are made and cannot be taken back. There is an itch that induces a twitch… that leads to irrevocable series of events.

The flagship of the Ÿ€Ð contingent causes the dominoes to fall, one by one all manner of ordinance are hurled at O, which has driven them to wits end. Had they knowledge of what happened to the Koreans, surely they would have chosen to give up the chase and chalk the experience up to a lack of understanding…

…But it is too late for regrets.

The entirety of the Ÿ€Ð pursuers are vacated from the space they had occupied, just inside Terran territory; vamoosed like they were never there at all. History will know it as “The Planet 9 Affair”.


THE NULL SOLUTION

Episode 52


page 55

THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 38

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 38

…I thought I saw my reflection in that shiny object…

The Eridanian ship Defender is hurtling back home with TSF dexterity. The experience with The Seljuk is fresh on every one of the five minds aboard, now being shared amongst those who care.

“Daddy – what has happened to make a nice man like Chasonn so paranoid?” spoken by the 1st Terran-child of space, who has yet to experience many “human nature” concepts.

Sampson McKinney happened to have a pow-wow with the leader of the Seljuk, man-to-man, heart-to-heart, just when it seemed that the man was questioning the motives of the Defender crew. The pair swapped history lessons about their respective planets and discovered that they had more in common than not.

“Long ago Deimostra, when Chasonn was away at their place of higher learning, every Seljuk leader was whisked away, including his father, never to be seen again… it took almost two centuries for the Seljuk to recover.” It is not customary to sit a 21 year old girl on his lap like he is doing, but some wisdom needs to be handed down not discarded. “Trust is something that is earned, not given. And they have kept to themselves ever since, not unlike Eridanus, right Cerella?”

“After we have been far and wide and seen the whole of the Great Expanse, there comes a time when keeping private is the logical choice. Until you people of Earth were brought into our keeping, we had no need to borrow the trouble that lurks on the other side of this and other galaxies. Chasonn and his people made the same choice… and then here we are charging directly into their renewed chaos.”

“On top of that, our arrival came right after they lost communication with their sentinel outposts, as well as the appearance of that phantom planetoid – like the one we spotted on the way in.” That shiny unknown still bothers brother Deke.

“How can anything that flawless do any harm? It’s just like the pictures you showed me Daddy, what you called a Christmas ornament. There were blue ones, red ones, green ones and silver ones. In fact, for a moment, I thought I saw my reflection in it.”

That gives some others pause.

“I saw my reflection too!” Celeste admits.

“I thought the same thing,” Sammy Mac confesses. He thought he was the only one seeing things.

“That is impossible. We didn’t get within 250,000 miles of that thing, before it vanished that is,” Deke tries to be the voice of reason – he saw his reflection as well without admitting it.

In the time it takes for Eridanus to complete one cycle, Defender is back in the berth reserved for it in the Spaceflight Expository, after its mission to the Triangulum Galaxy. At first blush, nothing has changed in the meantime; not a single Eridanian figure had moved.

But in the excitement of recent exploits, they forget about the Null, specifically Skaldic.


THE NULL SOLUTION

Episode 38


page 43

THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 35

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 35

…On a normally ugly, smelly day, early in the year StarDate 2052, the Ÿ€Ð are thrown for a loop by the critical combination of an unsolicited trespasser and fate…

Play Cartoon

CHAPTER FOUR

Friend or Foe

 

The Definition of an Alliance;

An alliance is a pact, coalition or friendship between two or more parties, made in order to advance common goals and to secure common interests. It can be a political agreement between countries to support each other in disputes with other countries, making them allies.

Alliances on a planet are pretty straightforward. Separated only by borders {ocean, river or imaginary}, they are leagues fashioned through philosophical similarities.

  1. On Earth, certain countries align themselves together {distinct factions}.
  2. On Eridanus, the many towered cities are filled to the top with people connected by brainwaves {except the Null}.
  3. The Seljuk can be called “reclusive”, preferring to keep things private {but things change}.
  4. The Ÿ€Ð are the Ÿ€Ð, an alliance unto themselves {whatever that means}.

The 4 planetary systems are separated by 64 combined parsecs {ea. 3+ light years}. They are 4 civilizations that could not be more dissimilar. 4 fates are being tethered together by an uneasy, unidentified, unwanted, unaware or unwittingly urgent alliance.

Choose a lane or it will be chosen for you.

The Ÿ€Ð {#4 above} have always been a wildcard in this corner of infinity. They are unsightly in the eyes of 95% of known species and revolting to the rest. To make their palatability worse, they carry an odor that would offend a Venusian Wasteworm.  Add to this unsavory list, Ÿ€Ð do not possess a shred of decency. They assume the worst in all things and act accordingly.

3 Planets by ENDESGA on DeviantArt.com

No good things can come of things, which they do not understand. Such is their attitude when an intruder dare enter their space without permission. On a normally ugly, smelly day, early in the year StarDate 2052, they are thrown for a loop by the critical combination of an unsolicited trespasser and fate..

The Ÿ€Ð star system is a simple one; three planets, of incremental size, in orbit far enough apart as not to exert gravitational influence on the others. Only one of these is suitable to sustain their species {not too warm, shrouded by dense clouds, extremely humid}{as opposed to Eridanus which is equally muggy but much warmer}. The clouds are an artificial blanket that covers over them, like a drapery over a window, so no one can see in.

One can imagine the horror that ensues when a shiny smooth O takes up an orbit beneath that protective security layer. They frantically scan and analyze in the brief time they have. Before a strategy can be formulated, a bright illumination clears away their synthetic security. For the first time in eons, the Ÿ€Ð are exposed to the harsh ultraviolet radiation of their star.

They are forced to make the proper environmental measures to ensure inhabitability of their world.

If there is one Ÿ€Ð-ian credo, it is “Attack first, ask questions later”. Galactic harmony has gone on too long for their taste. Their leaning would be to exact a measure of revenge.


THE NULL SOLUTION

Galactic Harmony

Episode 35


page 39

THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 31

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 31

…”Lorgan it shall be,” which is how Roy labels it in the spacelog, Stardates 2030.09 and 2052.50…

Gus points at the video recording, “You can see the reflection of SEx!”

“That doesn’t make sense. Telemetry puts that thing at just under 500,000 kms away. The only reflection should be the Sun,” reasons Roy.

“Take a look at Tycho’s spacelog shot of Mars’ magnetosphere, there is Deimos in the background.”

“That thing is 5x bigger!”

“Higher.”

“10x?”

“90 km. What reflection do you see?”

“Tycho.”

“Exactly!”

“Now that is freaky. We should be seeing the moon. It seems our “friend” defies physical conventions.”

To that end, a thoughtful Gus gives it a name, “My dad would call it, Lorgan.”

“Please use that in a sentence.”

“I’ve made it a noun. As a Scottish Gaelic verb it would be ‘leaves a mark’.”

“Lorgan was also a bad-guy-slave-master in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, if my memory serves, but we’ll go with your heritage language version. And when did you take that up, by the way?”

“I have my Aunt Sassy McKinney to thank for that.  Me & Deke spent a summer learning it, as punishment for heading for the hills every time she came to visit.” He hearkens back to a much simpler time, when they were a nuclear family; together & grounded.

Lorgan it shall be,” which is how he labels it in the spacelog, Stardates 2030.09 and 2052.50. For what is worth. Who knows where or when it will ever turn up again?”

“For what is worth, Lorgan is weightless. It doesn’t register on the density sensors. Is it real or our just a figment?”

“What we see with our eyes or with Cameras and Spacelogs cannot all be wrong.” Roy decides to bring another set of experienced eyes to the party. “I want Fletcher Fitch to take a gander. He knows more about satellites than anyone on this planet.”

The engineering wiz obliges.

“So do you think it’s a satellite?” asks Roy.

Gus may have given it a name, but falls short of defining it.

“I’ve got nothing.” Fitch has nothing.

Neither does Roy. “I don’t have a clue what Lorgan is or isn’t, but we are going to keep this under our helmets, okay? For now, let’s take a look around the solar system before we shut things down for the day.”

What a day it has been. Gus is back and safe. Roy himself is not confined to a hospital bed, while hearing yet another story about 2 of the missing McKinneys.

Tonight, is Triple-fudge Delight ice cream night at the Crippen residence.

Life is good to them… so far.


THE NULL SOLUTION

The Good Life by Jean Groberg

Episode 31


page 35