The NULL Solution = Episode 132

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The NULL Solution = Episode 132

…”Everywhere and nowhere at the same time, yeah, that is the refrain I keep hearing.”

“The question and the answer…”

Everywhere and Nowhere by Chris Brandell

Believe it or not, the state of affairs on Mars holds more promise than that of Earth.

Entrapped, yet empowered by planetary laws of volcanism, Roy is completely aware of the latest Hail Mary being tossed by Gus McKinney, Champion of Mars. Being able to announce the tiniest of space successes may be able quell the chaos at home.

He just won’t spill the beans about the two astronauts being held without their will.

“If we get out, tell the world that we will do everything in our power to save the day!”

“You may have to Gus. The upheaval is showing no signs of slowing down.”

“Is it as big as I’ve heard?”

“Bigger.” Crip is not prone to superlatives. “But we have to get you into space first. When is Olympus going to erupt, Rick?”

“Any time Roy. The magma is tracking up a fissure, big enough to drive your wife’s car through. We have used laser blasters for a primer.”

“Do you have enough power left to counteract the downward G’s at liftoff?”

“Barely… but heat does rise and the thermals created by the eruption should be heavenly.”

“Have you seen our friend Lorgan lately?” Roy doesn’t want to be the last to know.

“Once in a while we think we see something shimmering up there, but that bugger looks like a mirage to me. I’m not sure what I seeing any more,” admits Gus.

Everywhere and nowhere at the same time, yeah, that is the refrain I keep hearing.”

“The question and the answer…”

Gus may be closer to the truth than he knows.


The NULL Solution =

Episode 132


page 130

The NULL Solution = Episode 126

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The NULL Solution = Episode 126

…like an unlucky coin, you and your people turn up around most of the turmoil in this galaxy…

The Ÿ€Ð haven’t ruffled any feathers so far,” Sampson observes.

“If you mean being overly aggressive, they have not. Sure, they may have conscripted a few folks, but not a shot has been fired.” Skaldic ponders some more. “They have lost their home world, a fleet of ships and much of their identity. They may be looking for someone to blame.”

“Are you looking at me or Deke? We’ve been a couple of choirboys lately!”

“Choirboys?”

“Hey, you Eridanus guys are the music-majors in this man’s army. A choir on Earth is comprised of the very best singers… at a house of worship… church… which means they are always on their best behavior.”

“Your galactic reputation does not match that description. You are a stowaway gang from a planet that nearly destroyed itself and you seem to be bent on procreating & colonizing wherever the spacewinds blow.” So much for that fan club thing.

“That is harsh Skaldy. I thought you were my friend.”

“I am, but like an unlucky coin, you and your people turn up around most of the turmoil in this galaxy.”

“I can appreciate the “bad penny” reference, but if it weren’t for bad luck, we wouldn’t have any at all. 1st our space station blows up, stranding us. We find a ship to survive on, only to be hauled all the way out here, without our permission. Sure the McKinneys have made a couple babies along the way,” Sam looks Deke’s way, “but we also helped out a few new friends here and there. Spread some new technology around. Can you think of any harm in all that?”

“Your planet was close enough to smell the debris from those Ÿ€Ð cruisers. All I am proposing is to contact them before Eridanus can be blamed.”

“I would be honored to accept the position of Ambassador to the Axis.”

“We want to prevent conflict, not start it. Ekcello and Cerella are contemplating hyperphysical contact without delay.”

You needn’t hit old Sam McKinney over the head with a hammer. —


***please note that the BAD PENNY BLUES predated certain songs by the Beatles i.e. Lady Madonna


The NULL Solution =

Episode 126


page 125

The NULL Solution = Episode 123

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The NULL Solution = Episode 123

…There are forces beyond human control at work on Mars, and when confronted by the unknown, you are compelled to get back to what you do best, fly… home…

The front entrance is appropriately ostentatious. The “Intergalactic Unity” sub-head runs like a scroll around the entire 4 sides of Harmonia, in languages heretofore unseen by human beings including Gus McKinney and Rick Stanley. They have made it past the riddle/key, but what exactly have they gotten themselves into?

After quite a thorough peek of the ground floor, the two explorers from Earth find the building as vacuous inside as it is large outside.

“Just who or what would erect such a thing, with no obvious substance other than a pie-in-the-sky title?”

Copyright © Sharna Fulton 2014

“This is what happens when you get inside without the key. There is no satisfaction for us here, Gus. We’ve got ourselves an eyeful of the tower and nothing else.”

— Out of luck and empty handed, Solution retreats from whence it came, having simply grazed true clarity, not unraveling it. Into the pure water {that flows in-but-not-out of Harmonia}, piloting against a current that is disproportionately strong for 1.75 mph, Gus requires thrusters to make any headway.

Rick Stanley looks to the rear, “We should have kicked up heavenly mud.”

“3/4 thrusters will do that.”

“See for yourself… still clear as a Rocky Mountain brook.”

“This is getting creepy Rick. I’m in favor of packing up our {horticulture/geological} samples and heading back to Earth!”

Upon hearing Gus’ unlikely Martian chronicle, NASA and his stepfather agree. There are forces beyond human control at work on Mars. And when confronted by the unknown, you are compelled to get back to what you do best, fly… home.

The faithful drone that brought them here to Mars is waiting for them after Stanley & Gus retrace their path back to the other side of the planet. Another 2 month sojourn is in their future. Veni, vidi, vici; they came, they saw, they conquered.

Securely nestled in the drone, they are prepared to achieve Mars’ increasingly increasing escape velocity.

“Let’s blow this juke joint!”


The NULL Solution =

JBs Jukejoint by James St. Claire

Episode 123


page 122

The NULL Solution = Episode 115

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The NULL Solution = Episode 115

…Make no bones about it, it is truly like an expedition of old; Da Gama, Hilary, Joliet or Glenn…. or one of these oldies:

The two month trip out to Mars is a breeze. Each man has his own way to pass the time. 60 or days may not seem like a long time, but when 2 men from different generations are left to their own devices; those devices are bound to be dissimilar.

Retiring Rick Stanley has much to catch up on, seeing that his career path has recently resembled the Chinese fortunes in the world money markets – down. It is enough to frighten a super G downhill racer, so quick was his trip to the bottom of the astronaut chart. He has been resigned to cashing NASA credits, training future astronauts, all the while sleepwalking; not a gratified way to go out.

So here he is, crunching file after file of technical manuals with the hope of catching up with his up-to-date cabin mate. ‘How do I do this or that?’ is not the burden he wants project on Gus McKinney, who has been described by most observers as the premier space pioneer… ever.

Astronaut Stanley is not without his own fine resume, but his reads like a high school diploma compared to Gus’ doctoral thesis. He may be piloting the drone, but he will not be at the controls of Solution as it circumnavigates the surface of the new Mars.

SOLUTION

At 40 years old, Gus could be Rick’s son, nearly a grandson. The veteran always wanted a son, but due to his job at NASA, his two ex-wives were in no mood to be widows with a child. Astronaut spouses are a special breed. His were not. His were merely social-climbing-window-dressing.

It is an odd feeling when you virtually idolize someone so his junior. He has a way to go to pull even, but he will.

Gus McKinney spends his time honing his fast-twitch motor skills and pouring over the “Harmonia Query”. When he grows tired of blasting alien invaders from a game screen, he punishes himself by running countless scenarios past the NASA data-cloud; nothing can be left to chance.

His no-fear attitude prevents him from regretting any of his choices, on Earth or in space. Never mind that he takes a lucky horseshoe with him on every mission. Technology cannot completely replace the U-shaped iron equine wear-guard fashioned by a person called a farrier. His prized appaloosa mare threw this particular shoe, causing them to stop… one minute and one mile from the path of a southeast Texas twister that suddenly dropped out of the sky, right when and where he would be returning from a back-forty fence check. He will forever take that charm, wherever the winds of space blow him.

Not to be outdone, daughter Marscie gave him a lime-green bow from her hair as he left King Ranch for this expedition. Either charm comes in second to his wife. McKinney wives need to be special and Mindy is.

Make no bones about it, it is truly like an expedition of old; Da Gama, Hilary, Joliet or Glenn.


The NULL Solution =

Episode 115


page 114

The NULL Solution = Episode 114

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The NULL Solution = Episode 114

…As is the case when a mobilization mentality takes hold, heaven and earth are moved to make it happen…

“What do we have to lose? You can skip my mission bonus. Let’s set up shop on Mars and give Rick a sendoff to remember!” Gus id pumped.

What is there to lose, indeed? Under the pretense of surface exploration, incoming President of the United States Chasin Hedley has no problem convincing congress to pump up the funding for such an ambitious Mars mission. It can only cement his country’s place as solar system frontrunner. Gone is Harper Lea Bassett administration’s stifling oversight and lagging foresight. Though far from ya-ha time, the climate for space exploration is undergoing a renaissance.

{Null Solution Fun Fact about the obscure ironic loose-link between two characters close to this episode: Chasonn of Seljuk and Chasin Hedley, #52 of the U.S. Kismet or coincidence?}

The Martian transformation is front page news around the world. Speculation runs the gamut, from the 2nd coming of Jesus, to a government hoax. The dominant conspiracy theory concerns an imminent alien invasion. Serious science is silent, seeing that all the king’s satellites and all the king’s rovers are on the fritz.

NASA is the only legitimate game in town these days. They control both the mission and the resulting message. The fact that Gus McKinney is spearheading the project enhances support {“poor brother Deke” is still in an induced coma stemming from radiation poisoning – is the story that the Crippens give credence to}, a true rallying point for a nation and the world to focus on.

As is the case when a mobilization mentality takes hold, heaven and earth are moved to make it happen. America’s allies fall all over each other to pitch in; donations roll in by the armload for the Martian payload.

Rick Stanley is one of only three known humans to set foot on Mars back in the day, and his expertise is highly valued. Any captain of a ship named New Mayflower is a sure bet to attain folk hero standing, if not just a plain regular ordinary everyday hero. He should be able to find his own footprints encircling the lander Tycho, that’s if Harmonia’s incursion hasn’t erased them. He is the one who discovered that landing craft from Space Colony 1 was empty, when the elder McKinneys were supposedly desperate and awaiting rescue. Or so NASA thought.

The new incarnation of Rick Stanley cannot wait to return to space. The yearning to be relevant again certainly beats being categorized as a has-been by at least a million miles. He is honored for the opportunity to work alongside Sam & Celeste’s youngest {assumed}. —

— When it comes to the “Harmonia Query”, all possible t’s are dotted and i’s are crossed. How else can one describe the art of guessing the outcome of such a crapshoot, however calculated it may be?

  • Drone is outfitted with improved engines
  • SLAV is resurrected to carry the drone to outer-Earth orbit
  • Rover Solution has been tested in every conceivable mock Martian terrain
  • The 2-man crew is prepared for possible contingencies

The NULL Solution =

Episode 114


page 113

The NULL Solution = Episode 113

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The NULL Solution = Episode 113

…Gus McKinney would relish the chance for a new challenge, seeing that NASA is getting nowhere fast and SEx is being monitored closely…

The devil is in the details. While Skaldic seems to think he is closing in on a solution, the Gus-Roy-Fitch team is focusing on finding the back door to the blossoming Red Planet. They are striving to circumvent the vexing brainteaser, in favor of picking the lock.

 

Manned Rover

“What if we land on the other side from Harmonia, drop our hotrod/buggy prototype, the manned-rover people are working on, and get a closer look that way,” Gus McKinney would relish the chance for a new challenge, seeing that NASA is getting nowhere fast and SEx is being monitored by the doves in Washington. “We will sneak up on Harmonia, quiet like.”

Fletcher Fitch is usually the voice of reason, “We have not resolved the payload issue, Gus.”

Rick Stanley

“Don’t we have the drone that hauled Space Colony 1 in mothballs? Outfit it with a crew cabin, big enough for me and Rick Stanley and let’s go!”

Roy Crippen speaks for the ever-postponed AARP generation, “Rick Stanley is retiring this year. I’m not sure he wants to spend an entire year on one last rodeo.”

“Why don’t we leave that decision to him? He’s divorced, one of his kids is an aspiring astronaut and beside that, he is our lone remaining expert on the tow-drone… oh and the sub-light assist vehicle (SLAV) to boot.”

Manned Tow Drone

After giving some thought, Roy begins to change his tune. “The SLAV could get the drone to sub-space and we could re-fit the drone engines for speed.”

“2 months out, a month to explore and 2 months back. 6 months max, including the mission prep.”

“This whole idea is a stretch; it stretches both our manpower and our budget. You realize that, don’t you?”

“What do we have to lose? You can skip my mission bonus. Let’s set up shop on Mars and give Rick a sendoff to remember!” Sellers sell, fliers fly.  Gus M. does both. “Just remember, the riddle doesn’t apply to the opposite hemisphere… I don’t think.”


The NULL Solution =

Episode 113


page 112

The NULL Solution = Episode 110

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The NULL Solution = Episode 110

…In a fashion, much like the members of the ancient NEWFOUNDLANDER crew, the Defender makes off with valuable Earth treasure…

Sampson & Son have not seen the Heinlein’s Green Hills of Earth for a very long time. Cruising handily past 6 planetary orbits and beneath a crescent moon, the alien spacecraft named Defender silently glides down next to the homestead both men have been longing to see. For Sam it has been 24 years, for Deke, his 4 years seems like an eternity.

Aside from remodeling, updating and a brand new barn, locating Cerella and Joyner was relatively easy. To avoid from alarming Roy, Francine, Gus, Mindy and Marscie is priority one. Doing so would unnecessarily complicate the operation by upsetting Earth’s timestem, as well as the King Ranch equilibrium.

Deke McKinney barely recognizes his earthen-ized mate, who he suspects had suspected such a mission would come to pass, even after her parapsychological ties were severed by the birth of their son. She had told Joyner many stories of his father and the planet from which they came, seeing that the worlds are as opposite as opposite can be.

As Deke hugs him for the first time, Cerella explains to the child, who is sprouting like a weed, “There will be time to acquaint after we return to Eridanus. Remember your experience here with fondness, my son. The emotional ties of these people is strong, to be treasured for all time.”

Sam has wandered off to the west wing to have a gander at his other grandchild. How could he resist the temptation? It takes every ounce of his strength not to wake Gus’s sleeping Marscie. He cannot help but lament the circumstances that caused the Space Family McKinney to be separated by trillions of miles, not just another wing of the sprawling ranch home, but he does.

In a fashion, much like the members of the ancient NEWFOUNDLANDER crew, the Defender makes off with valuable Earth treasure, this time in the form of living creatures. However, on this occasion, the aliens leave behind a calling card, in the form of Celeste McKinney’s love/”kidnapping” note, discovered by Francine Bouchette-Crippen, on the island counter in the main kitchen at King Ranch, in Waller County Texas USA. She is up early to make breakfast. There will be two less place settings on this most melancholy of mornings.


The NULL Solution =

Episode 110


page 109