THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 73

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 73

“What happened to your lousy English and didn’t your hair used to be black?”…

plot-thickens3

The Plot Thickens by Donna MacDonald

“Then why has his hair color changed?” On a thin whim he says, “Let’s pay Gherkin a visit.” With time dwindling, hunches played trump hunches ignored.

Roy Crippen douses power to the what-not room as he and Francine scamper over to the nerve center of mans’ first colony away from Earth. From scamper to gallop, their pace quickens and if Francine had any doubts as to the seriousness of the situation, all she need do is keep up with the bulldog in front of her.

In a big building with odd angles and unexpected transitions, Roy bowls over an unsuspecting  technician, sending him sprawling. He excuses himself, sort of, while acquiring a limp in the process.

Francine mostly ignores the tech, asking, “Are you going to be alright Roy?”

“What…. Oh yes, come on,” not a complete answer.

“I hope I’m not out of line, but are we chasing a ghost here. You are making a pretty big fuss about one little man.” She is not privy to Roy’s unfolding theory.

He stops to collect himself, address her issues with a glance and a right hand thru his floppy brown straight hair. Francine straightens his tie thereby restoring the look of a man in control.

He speaks, seemingly into the thin air, alerting security as to the nature of his pending confrontation, rejoining the previously frantic pace, with a newswoman bring up the rear.

At this late stage of the approaching launch, less than an hour now, nearly every eye sneaks a peek at NASA’s man of the hour. He looks like a man under the gun, acts like a man possessed, and don’t you dare get in his way.

With Roy grabbing the Spatial Debris tech by the shoulders, spinning him around in-your-face style, the man is startled by the aggressive move, “There is no problem in the launch window, Mr. Crippen, only some small stuff out at 500,000 out.”

“What happened to your lousy English and didn’t your hair used to be black?”

“I do not know what you are talking about, Sir.”

“What is your name and when did you get here?”

“My name is Gurkhas Shah Dhangotma and I have been here all day, except for a short break early this morning. I had been on duty for sixteen hours. Someone relieved me for an hour, no more.”

“You could barely speak English when we spoke this morning.”

plot-thickens


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Episode 73


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 70

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 70

…the red carpet seemingly rolls out, with Roy Crippen holding the key to this city of space geeks and rockets…

Image result for red carpet painting

Marcus Glenn- Red Carpet Series Painting. ( THE NITE THE STARS FELT CLOSER )

As her new/old-school speedometer needle exceeds the 225 speedometer limit, she has covered the 50 or so miles in an exhilarating 13.3 minutes. Francine takes the GLF (Galveston Launch Facility) exit off I-45 and travels down the expressly made frontage road for the spaceflight center.

She had been here before, but only once and only to be turned away by a snotty guard. But today the barrier drops below the pavement, the red carpet seemingly rolling out, with Roy Crippen holding the key to this city of space geeks and rockets.

“Go straight ahead to Area 3 and hang a right… nice car… you can’t miss it.” Formalities are spared but he does admit, “You are prettier in person than you are on television.”

“Well you are more handsome than your televiewer image.” She is used to gratuitous attention, the kind a lecher or slack-jaw emotes, but hearing it from a dashing astronaut-type is an especially pleasant experience.

As she drives thru the massive complex, a village in itself with streets and speed limits to match. Building heights vary greatly, from ordinary offices to futuristic towers, white coated men and women scurrying back and forth, even at this late hour.

Just as on the Interstate she glides through unimpeded. Crippen tells her to stop in front of a building, which seems to defy gravity or balance. The new Mission Control has been hailed as an architectural wonder and she can see why, with its top width 5 times that of the base and a combination V & X.

“It’s a secret,” he sees that her mouth was agog and ajar, “and don’t disable the start button Miss Bouchette; someone will happily park it for you.”

“I bet he will,” she makes eye contact with the valet while vacating her now well broke-in car.

“You made great time. Good call on your part.”

“Other than feeling like I was in a one car race, I made it here in one piece.” She takes a closer look at the man she had only just met and is so often the case, the voice and face are a disconnect. For a man so slight, he is extremely appealing. ‘I wonder if he’s married,’ a girl is allowed.


 THE RETURN TRIP

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 57

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 57

…“You’re just a speck of moon dust to her, like she would be interested in a kid like you,”…

Pebble Beach by Emily James

 CHAPTER FOUR

  Space Family Confidential

  “As we prepare to bid adieu from the scenic and historic Pebble Beach Golf Links, you are looking at rare ground, one of only 500 pieces of real estate around the world that has the capability to host a professional golf tournament, none more treasured than this.

“And how appropriate it is that the man holding the Bing Crosby Trophy is none other than Evan pebble-beach-trophySamuel Michelson, whose father has joined him on the 18th green. Let’s go down to Bubba Watson for the presentation…”

Gus McKinney is wearing the headset for the televiewer and he has set it in motion to search for other sporting activities. They have violated rule #1 in the McKinney brood: Never put a VoIP block on the televiewer. They have been incommunicado for the balance of this January day. Braden King, their Earthly guardian is currently on his way back to the ranch, to ward off “you know what” from reaching the kiddos before they can be properly {co}parented.

Related image“AW, COME ON GUS, if we have to watch Four-man Power-Curling or Male Ice Dancing I am going to throw up,” brother Deke is already tiring of the 2030 Winter Olympics in Oslo, Norway. The mindbogglingly 1000 choices arbitrarily comes to rest on the low number 13, the lower the number, the more local it is; 1000 being JEOPARDY!, hosted by Watson the IBM brainiac.

“Good Evening, my name is Francine Bouchette and this is a KHST 13 Special Report, your news authority for the last 10 years.” An assortment of Space Colony footage scrolls on the screen.gif pretty art indie moon Grunge space stars dark Alternative moon gif phases craters

“Isn’t she a fox?” raves Gus.

“You’re just a speck of moon dust to her, like she would be interested in a kid like you,” which isn’t completely true, given her afternoon’s crash course in McKinney Family history.

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The ever-fetching Francine reappears on camera; now joined by her junior co-anchor {piece-of-crap} Steven Sharkey who doesn’t have a clue on what he may be reading in a few seconds.

“In a KHST 13 News Authority Exclusive, I just got off the phone with Space Colony 1 Coordinator Roy Crippen, a friend to Channel 13 News, having confirmed a story that I have been tracking down all afternoon. He has confirmed the horrible news that Space Colony 1 appears to have been destroyed, which verifies my confidential alternate source.”

“Nnnooooooo,” screams Deke…


THE RETURN TRIP

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Episode 57


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 47

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 47

…What exactly is your point Mr. Frodo — that that Sang-Ashi thing is really a weapon?…

Related image

What space looks like to kids 2ND PLACE (MULTIMEDIA), 6TH-8TH GRADE Student: Anolani School: Kapolei Middle School Location: Kapolei, Hawaii

“Your story is intriguing Mr. Afridi, but our spatial debris monitor assures me there is nothing in the vicinity of Mars.”

january20“My calculations show otherwise; it was to pass within 10 thousand kilometers on in the 20th day of the first month 2030… today!”

“He should know Crip, he helped build the darn thing,” Braden reminds him.

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Frodo by Rolozo Tolkien

What exactly is your point Mr. Frodo — that that Sang-Ashi thing is really a weapon? We are currently out of contact with Space Colony, specifically the Mars lander. The McKinney’s are currently spending daylight hours on the surface of the planet.”

It is Afridi, Aldona Afridi, and that is not a good sign. You should signal the Colony to activate its energy absorption field.”

This guy is acquainted with sensitive tech info. “You know more about the orbiting station than you should.”

“I am a great admirer of the project and regret not being allowed to offer my talents to it.”

There is a brief pause in the conversation, as Roy directs key personnel to check out Afridi’s assertions. His news is disturbing, yet there is no harm is arming the energy absorption field.

“Space Colony!!!!!!!!!”

A dazed technician stands, face paled by disbelief.

“What are you saying son,” Roy reacts to the commotion caused by the suddenly sullen young man.viewscreen-2-001

“It’s gone…” All he can do is point at the mission mockup and the flashing light that no longer shows an orbit line around Mars. With all the distractions, no one had been monitoring the status lights; one green blink on the surface, none in orbit.

“Mr. Crippen, what has happened?” Aldona Afridi has more than a passing interest in the goings on.

Roy frantically seeks out key faces around the room. Total shock applies, with some tears on the move, spreading among most of the assembled 100 technicians.


THE RETURN TRIP

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Episode 47


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 23

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 23

…Two key Mission personnel are dead, in one day at that…

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Mars City Mock-up

Mars City Mockup

“Planetary conditions are stable, touchdown grid confirmed.” Roy Crippen has settled in at Galveston Launch Facility to oversee the crowning moment of 20 years of work. Once Tycho comes back home to roost, after its 18 hour maiden excursion, his stay on the Texas coast will shift gears; to sending off the 21st Century version  of the floating boat filled with Brits, the New Mayflower, the first of three trips; winged people-movers that will add a decidedly human touch to a previously hominid-less planet. Mars City will be filled to the brim with 21st Century groundbreakers.

But that is tomorrow and today is today and other portentous profoundness. The Lovell Space Center’s attention is equally split between Mars and Galveston, with Roy Crippen as the connecting driving force for both. He contemplates those that he supervises, a sea of techs and specialists, tops in their field worldwide, 100 people comprising man’s future as good space citizens.

Spatial DebrisThere is one console, Spatial Debris Traffic for the Colony and Satellite tracking, which has an unfamiliar body seated there. For as long as Roy can remember, Phil Jansky has filled that seat.

“Where is Philip Jansky?” Something has slipped past him. He asks roving security, “Is he taking a break… now!?!”

“Jansky is dead, sir; we found him in his quarters when he didn’t confirm his 04:00 wakeup call.”

Roy’s mind starts somersaulting through any number of questions he could ask. He settles on, “Why am I the last to know?”

The security chief is embarrassed, if for no other reason than not knowing who dropped the ball. “The Coroner said he’d get back in touch with both autopsies.”

Two key Mission personnel are dead, in one day at that.

“I should hire a full-time mortician, set him up with an office,  he spends so much time here lately.” The mission head is losing control of personnel matters and his patience is flagging. “Who is Phil’spickle-b replacement?”

The guard checks his roster, “Gurkhas Shah-Dhangotma, from Kathmandu.”

“Never heard of him.  Who hired him with Fred Cabell gone? My God we have a Nepalese debris tracker. Aren’t they still Sherpa guides? This is space for crying out loud, not the Himalayas!

“Mr. Gherkin better be qualified. I do not like this, not at all!” he punctuates his rant sharply, while walking off a disquieting combination of anger and grief… even though “Gurkhas” in not a pickle.


THE RETURN TRIP

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 18

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 18

…As leader of this outpost, I feel it is my duty to inform you that Space Colony 1 will welcome one and all. May we all live long and prosper.”

live long and prosper by Jessaa Lee Odinson

The task of preparing Tycho for its maiden mission will occupy the both colony pioneers, right up until departure time.

Mostly.

Celeste (McKinney) has been at a disadvantage ever since she set eyes on the Colony station. Most of her waking time since is spent giving herself first-hand knowledge, by manual or blueprint, unlike the Commander (McKinney), who was hands-on in its assembly and knows every square millimeter and circuit.

In the highest reaches of her temporary home is her single significant contribution; a magnificent botanical garden. Not only does this green slice of Earth provide genuine oxygen and humidity, it also is a refuge for those lonely, miss my boys moments. The station’s orbit keeps it in the continual good graces of this solar system’s life enhancing star; its and radiant sunlight. A person cannot get a tan up here, but it sure can help with the inevitable homesickness.

As she passes through the dome, dodging trees, flowers, and yes the insects that are along for the ride, Celeste cannot resist the peeking through the only observation telescope, though its 1500x magnification is more on a scale of looking glass by comparison.

The ladder-tram takes her to the lens viewer, where she is able to take in the wonder of Mars, close up and personal. As she pans the scanning angle, she becomes the first human to inspect (in person) the minuscule moons of the Red Planet: Phobos and Deimos are trailing one another, at different Image result for the moons of marsdistances above, with Phobos held by Mother Mars more closely. It is as if the Greek god of War had himself tested his arm strength by tossing two oddly shaped boulders out away from Mount Olympus, only to have them fall into the gravitational influence of his distant namesake.

Featureless in appearance, save the pockmarks caused by the millennium passing of meteors, the two moons possess their own engaging character and granite loyalty; mini-chunks of primordial leftovers, attendants to a world that still holds many secrets, in spite of the crisscrossing tracks left behind by NASA’s last attempt at exploration.  But those “little rovers that could” paths are on the other side of the planet. This here is virgin territory.

Sampson, for his part, must be getting restless. This could explain him declaring boldly, “This is your Commander speaking.As leader of this outpost, I feel it is my duty to inform you that Space Colony 1 will welcome all members of World Space Consortium, providing they contribute to the common good; meeting the needs of the collective, each according to his or her abilities. May we all live long and prosper.”

“Ya-da, ya-da, ya-da,” responds the station’s only other sentient being.


 THE RETURN TRIP

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 17

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 17

…Tycho Brahe’s theoretical calculations were the foundation of astronomical law, eventually expanded by Johannes Kepler and that Newton fellow

That Newton fellow

That Newton fellow from Study.com

World Space Consortium

The events of that day in the year 2014, provides two important indicators to what led to this eventual orbiting cohabitation: Miss Bergestrom would become Mrs. McKinney in the coming months and together they would aggressively pursue a life spearheading the World Space Consortium’s grand venture out to Mars.

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Tycho

Tycho lander

This brings us (forward) to the business of bringing Space Colony 1 to full functionality. Part of that plan includes a Martian Lander named Tycho, which is going to be the first major project to be tackled by the McKinney’s. It is the only link between the orbiting Colony and the Martian surface.

The name “Tycho” pays homage to the Danish astronomer Tycho Ottesen Brahe, who used his 16th Century observations to disprove mistaken notions that Tycho Brahe.JPGapplied to the proper planetary grouping that they know in 2030. His theoretical calculations were the foundation of astronomical law, eventually expanded by Johannes Kepler and that Newton fellow.

The versatile two-man lander saves wear and tear on the shuttle fleet, like Chronicle or any lifting systems like the Jupiter Piggyback workhorse. The deep-space shuttles do have the ability to achieve escape velocity, but dense atmospheres are a drag and it is far too heavy to put down on unpaved landing strips.

The task of preparing Tycho for its maiden mission will occupy the both colony pioneers, right up until departure time.


THE RETURN TRIP

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Chronicle

Episode 17


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 16

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 16

…In the world of prankster-dom , the name McKinney has become the gold standard…

“You’re welcome Miss,” Sam tells her facetiously. He manages to look past the messy situation caused by the simulator.

To say that “Miss Sweden” is apologetic would be a severe understatement; her accidental hero insisting that she should not upset her scrambled constitution further.

The Infirmary is situated nearby, a wise placement and within minutes of the doctors, who work their magic on tummies.

Sampson McKinney heads for the washroom to rid him of what must have been Miss Sweden’s breakfast that involved pickled herring and lingonberries, while the ill patient sleeps away the next hour.

Since his triple-knit jumpsuit is beyond salvage, he helps himself to a set of  doctor scrubs, though finding a pair to fit his 6’4” takes a little sorting. In the world of prankster-dom , the name McKinney has become the gold standard. Chances are that someone is saying, ‘Did you see what McKinney did to Peculiar Pete at the meeting yesterday?’, or some other hilarious recollection.

The intern on duty, who is beholding to him for taking one for the team, consents to allowing a scam to be hatched, joining a nurse who had committed to the charade.

‘Doctor’ Sam stands over the slowly rousing victim, whose eyes are still closed, but conscious. A cold Image result for rare diseasestethoscope is placed on her tummy, “I am glad you called me in, Nurse Betty. This is a case of digestive reversal. I haven’t seen one this bad in years.”

“And to think it’s Rare Disease Day,” the nurse plays up the gag.

The victim cracks a lid ever-so-slightly to steal a glimpse of the medical team. The ‘Doctor’ is wearing a surgical cap and mask that conceals his warped identity.

“You don’t mean…?” Nurse Betty plays on..

“Yes I do Nurse Betty; we are going to have to operate, get these organs back in place; a complete Visceral Inversion to restore normal digestive function.”

“And she was so young.”

“I want a second opinion doctor. I am feeling much better.” Panic is setting in.

“Relax my dear, and your name is what?”

“Ensign 1st Class Celeste Bergestrom.” She looks around for avenues of escape.

The cruel joke has run its course. The doctor removes his clinical disguise, thereby revealing himself, even though they had met but briefly, “2nd Lieutenant Sampson McKinney at your service.”

“You **#!&^!!**______g   ___s!!!!”

He extends a hand. It was all in good fun, after all…

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 THE RETURN TRIP

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 14

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 14

…A suddenly apprehensive Afridi gazes at the slow-moving water before him, the crescent moon reflecting back the ripples. He could not be party to stifling mankind’s advancement past it…

“To keep our solar system free of those who want to conquer it, we need the firing codes for the Sang-Ashi Probe,” The Sheikh is impatient.

“Sang-Ashi will protect itself, if the occasion warrants. I built in superior internal defenses,” Afridi is confused.

“We need to have manual control over it…..and we need it now!” The Sheikh’s arms are shaking angrily.

World Space Consortium

World Space Consortium

“You want access to the manual dump mode for the laser control!?” Trepidation replaces restlessness for Afridi. If all this is about sabotaging the World Space Consortium, of which Talibanistan and the United Korea Peninsula are not a part, he wants no part of any such strategy. To him personally, Space Colony 1 is to be exalted, not grudged with bad intent. The Sheikh and Nae Tan-Dan must be forgetting that the person they are asking to betray the World had expressly expressed interest in participating in the project they wish to destroy. “I have to get some air, to help me remember the code.”

“If you must Afridi, but you must be quick about it. Tan-Dan must leave for his country as soon as possible.”

Afridi is stalling, “I have too many passcodes in my brain, please excuse me.”

It is way past late at night, technically morning on this side of the planet and the men in the car are becoming annoyed with the delay. They go on conspiring with their mischievous machinations when Afridi toddles off to wrestle with his wits, albeit to contemplate a rueful ruse.

A suddenly apprehensive Afridi gazes at the slow-moving water before him, the crescent moon reflecting back the ripples… He knew the codes by heart… But his thoughts are dominated by his dearest Fatima and his two little girls… He could not be party to stifling mankind’s advancement past the Moon…

Adrenaline begins to spike into his bloodstream. For the first time in 15 years, rebellion not submission, takes hold of his spirit. He is 15 meters from the chilly stream when he decides to sprint toward the water, the soles of his shoes digging furiously into the loose gravel, spitting out pebbles with every determined stride. But for all his physical fitness he dreads the temperature of the chilly water ahead.

He thinks about stopping short, giving one last glance over his shoulder, only to see that his sudden bolt had not gone unnoticed. Fortunately for him, there are no high-powered military weapons in the hands of his pursuers; who would think that a mild-mannered scientist would “go over the wall”, with Talibanistan’s most powerful Sheikh a stone’s throw away.

That element of surprise would be his only ally this evening. Once he dives into the river,Image result for bullets and water swimming as fast as his clothed body would allow, gunfire from the lone small caliber handgun poke holes in the liquid swirling around him. The gun owner is a pretty fair marksman, prompting Afridi to assess his best option, which happens to be a ferryboat which is docked on the far bank of the river.

Things are not looking so good at the moment, yet it would get worse when one bullet grazed his left arm. Temporarily stunned, he snatches safety from the jaws of peril. He rolls over to play dead, realistically sinking slowly under the red water and the belly of the powered passenger boat… which he remembers as having a hollowed-out section to the aft that houses the propeller.

AIR!


  THE RETURN TRIP

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Episode 14


page 13 (end ch. 1)

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 13

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 13

…Excuse me Comrade Aldona; this is Comrade Nae Tan-Dan, our main liaison to the great nation of Korea and the constructor of our glorious plan…

mastermind-001

Aldona Afridi is becoming more restless by the second. Everything about this strange encounter has trouble written all over it.

Oddly, no one in the limo makes a move; the newcomers cover ground in a hurry to join an already crowded limo.mastermind-001

“It is good to see you again Sheikh Khan-Nutkani,” states the smallest of the group, speaking with an accent not indigenous to the region.

“Glory to Allah, Comrade Dan, I am hoping your news is as good as Comrade Afridi’s”

“It is even better; phase one of the operation has been carried out. Fredrick Cabell has been neutralized.” The dwarfish man sticks his chest out as if he were waiting for a medal to be pinned on it.

“Excellent, excellent; time is growing short Dan.”

Afridi suddenly has the feeling that there is a plan that he is not in on. And what is with all this “comrade” stuff all of a sudden.

Comrades

“Oh excuse me Comrade Aldona; this is Comrade Nae Tan-Dan, our main liaison to the great nation of Korea and the constructor of our glorious plan.” Nutkani’s introduction is lavished with admiration.

“I was not aware we were working on the same project?” Afridi has a shrinking perception of just what the goals of the Sang-Ashi Probe are exactly.

“Let us say that you have your talents and I have mine.”

“Comrades, let me say that both of your talents will be needed to defeat the greatest threat to our stature in the world since the unlawful attacks on our founding state. That is why you are here; to help each of our nations stare down imperialism!” Khan-Nutkani refers to the endless Afghan War and inspired by the chance to settle the score. “Afridi, you hold the key; Comrade Tan Dan needs to open the door, and between us, we must slam the door on Universe Expansionism!”

Nae Tan-Dan seems to have a {short} leg up on Afridi and is poised to carry out a plan. Aldona Afridi is still mostly in the dark, but a sliver of light is seeping through some seedy cracks.Sang-Ashi Probe

“To keep our solar system free of those who want to conquer it, we need the firing codes for the Sang-Ashi Probe.”

“Sang-Ashi will protect itself, if the occasion warrants. I built in superior internal defenses.”

“We need to have manual control over it…..and we need it now!” The Sheikh’s arms are shaking angrily.


THE RETURN TRIP

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Expansionism by Robert Bertino

Episode 13


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