THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 153

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 153

…What is taking four months to accomplish {the New Mayflower rescue mission}, a SOL equipped spaceship would take 10 minutes, akin to a trip to  a corner store in New Orleans

French Quarter Corner Store by John Boles

— After he had escaped from a treacherous country, had his family risk their lives fleeing to Turkey, managed to  contact the Space Colony Director with scandalous information, only to be shot by an assassin’s bullets while being flown into the United States, poor Aldona Afridi is not an yard closer to applying his trade.

SOL-logo

But now the renegade turned research scientist has been assigned to the SOL Project: the independent foundation, with significant ties to NASA that is dedicated to achieving space travel at the speed-of-light threshold and not a mph less. With the recent stranding of personnel, some 3+ months distant and without a lifeline, efforts have been redoubled in the quest of 670 million miles per hour.

Do the math. What is taking four months to accomplish {the New Mayflower rescue mission}, a SOL equipped spaceship would take 10 minutes. What is presently classified as a time-sensitive mission would be akin to a trip to a corner store in New Orleans.

Another comparison may apply to the situation on Mars. Unknown to anyone on Earth, the NEWFOUNDLANDER would have taken over four years to reach this solar system, assuming that they came from the nearest star.

Such are the daunting numbers that face a small grouping of scientists that does now include Aldona Afridi; and he feels well-favored to have the opportunity. He is making a good wage, not a fortune but sure beats the United Korean blood money by light-years.

His family is safe, though the Afridi family name has been changed. Meet the Fitch’s:

  • Father: Fletcher Fitch
  • Wife: Madonna Fitch
  • Daughters: The Fitch girls

How easy are things when you are under the protection of a benevolent Federal Government such as this? You get an undercover makeover, govt. housing and a new outlook on life, just like that.

Fletcher and Madonna Fitch have that new look, new wardrobes and names that they had no choice in getting.

And still, life is good… so far.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 153


page 188

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 152

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 152

“If this is your theatrical way of proposing marriage to me, then I accept…

Francine has been an interested observer during this current visit to a ranch under recent excavation. “It looks like Braden has been busy.”

“I hope you don’t think he is being somewhat presumptuous,” Question and statement. “I know he talked to about me building out here at King, but I am not the one who got this ball rolling. I don’t want you to think I was taking anything for granted,” disclaimer delivered JIC {just-in-case}.

“If this is your theatrical way of proposing marriage to me, then I accept… but I am in charge of the inside of that house!”

The chopper suddenly tilts at 250 .

“Am I the one who is presuming something? I just thought this had to be a plan of some sort.”

“Ask her now Roy!” Braden screams from below.

KR 2022 bounces back to 00.

“I’ve already got the family car,” she prompts.

“Earth to KR 2022, are you still there,” Braden quips from below.

“I have no contagious diseases and love the Houston Rockets,” she adds, looking at his ashen face.

Roy feels like a rat trapped in a maze, but upon further review and instantaneous reflection he surrenders this: “Do you really want to spend the rest of your life with me? I mean I am about to be held in Contempt of Congress, I am wanted in Jamaica for driving 100 miles over the speed limit and I was thrown out of a Rage Against the Machine concert when I was at the Space Academy.”

Just then a flashing red light appears where the fuel gauge is. “We have to set down, that’s an idiot light.” With all the back-and-forth, Related imagethen forth and back, he had overlooked the fuel situation.

“You idiot, what idiot?”

Just as they finally set down, 2 souped-up golf carts come out to meet and greet. Not surprisingly, the one driven by the McKinney boys gets there first, with Braden’s scooting in behind.

Who do the excited siblings run to, once the rotors whoosh to a stop? Francine. And where does Braden head? To the very same pretty lady who used to work for his favorite TV station.

So what is Roy left to do? Watch, as the woman he has fallen in love with is being welcomed into his extended family… just like it was meant to be. —


THE RETURN TRIP

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Episode 152


page 187

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 149

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 149

…any time Strategic Air Command’s name is invoked, it does not mean that the USA is merely recalling their embassy personnel…

“The country would not stand for news of the McKinney deaths… they adore that couple,” President Sanchez makes a politically generic statement.

“This should have nothing to do with Time Magazine Online “Most Influential People” issue and everything to do with putting reprobate rulers in their place.” Roy moves to move the President of the United States of America into action. The man is stuck on how this latest development makes his administration look, instead of recognizing the threat to the welfare of the planet itself.

“Chances are Pete,” using his first name for effect, “that armchair diplomacy or economic sanctions will not work here.”

Sanchez should ask himself why, in retrospect, that the very same type of jealous admiration exhibited by Korea, were one and the same as his quest for the United States Senate, lo those many years ago. As a younger, more idealistic politician, Sanchez had practiced a suspicious mudslinging campaign against the incumbent Senator, in the primary election that year. And though Sanchez did not get the nomination and the other party ultimately won the general election, it ruined the man’s reputation unnecessarily.

It is a lesson for those who are lame ducks or out of favor; there may be someone or some country lurking, ready to ruin his legacy or bring down the entire nation he is ultimately responsible for.

“I guess we need to flex our muscles.”

“And forget about that gratuitous speech you are about to deliver,” Roy whispers under his breath. “And you know that we at NASA and SAC will be vigilant, Sir.”

— No sooner than the phone goes dead, he wonders if the President meant yet another dreaded commodity embargo or economic isolation; neither of which work against those determined to make, in this case, outer space mischief.

Francine is privy to one side of the conversation, but any time Strategic Air Command’s name is invoked, it does not mean that the USA is merely recalling their embassy personnel. She is aware that stakes of the game have changed and she will have a front row seat to it all.

It is getting late at Lovell and making the trip home to Houston less desirable than usual, but in these times of fear and doubt, where better to spend the night but at King Ranch, “I’ll give Braden a heads up about an incoming Canadian helicopter with a Russian sounding name (Sikorsky) and two tired NASA people aboard,” she states.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 149


page 183

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 148

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 148

…“What do I tell the world? And will they believe me?” asks the President of the United States…

Francine could not possibly guess what Roy is about to tell the leader of the free world, of all people.

“Please don’t beat around the bush. What the hell happened to the United Korean Peninsula’s sovereign property? I have to tell them something…… and I have a stump speech to deliver in 10 minutes.”

“I’m sure that will be a Democratic knee-slapper!” Roy is sure that the President has heard the rumblings about Roy’s possible political plans. “We have thrown a wet blanket over the whole Sang-Ashi thing and I guess you can spin it any way you want.”

“Well then just spin-it-out man!”

“We have indisputable proof that Sang-Ashi was built by the Koreans for the sole purpose of sabotaging the Space Colony program, doing whatever it takes to stop it in its tracks. To that end, they have used a deep-space probe to disguise their destructive ways.

“In response to that aggression, we needed to disable Sang-Ashi as it was about to take out the New Mayflower as well. However, the crew did not pull the trigger, the onboard mainframe did.”

This information produces differing reactions; Francine cannot believe Roy was so blunt. President Sanchez sits down, aghast at the notion.

“We can’t do that!,” he proclaims.

“We had to take defensive measures,” Roy indirectly crediting Aldona Afridi. “We are not going to sit on our hands while two rogue global powers have their way with us!”

“Two? Who is the other one?”

“Talibanistan.”

“That’s impossible. My Secretary of State tells me that he has a working relationship with Kamran Khan-Nutkani.”

“Sure it works for them! And who do you think is behind the freeing of Samiq Gaad and the kidnapping of the McKinney boys?” He warns, “Do not be hoodwinked by a Talibanistani Trojan Horse.”

“What do I tell the world? And will they believe me?”

“Think about Sampson and Celeste McKinney, stranded on Mars, running out of food, water, and oxygen.”

“The country would not stand for news of their deaths, they adore that couple,” he makes a politically generic statement.

“Exactly.”


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Talibanistan

Episode 148


page 182

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 147

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 147

..When it seemed like he wouldn’t let her go, his European Police Siren ringtone lets the whole area know that he has an incoming call. Upon seeing the I.D….

“Thank you and good day.”

Francine backs away from the podium, turning toward a stage left exit, when a cry comes out from the crowd, “Miss Bouchette!!! Is it true that you left KHST in Houston in violation of your “sweetheart” contract?” He must be a friend of her former fiancée.

Nowheresville USA from Kasey Musgraves

This voice is antithetical to the previous 30 queries, antagonistic, from the middle of the mulling transcriptional troubadours. She was going to ignore the provocation and continue on, but chooses not to retreat from the cowardly question asked when the lights have been doused and attentions have shifted… by someone she recognizes.

“If I am not mistaken Mr. Loyd, with one L, weren’t you under contract when you left Nowheresville, Arkansas for the greener pastures of the Dallas market six years ago?”

The man’s self-righteous grin is inverted to a frown as he slithers toward the door, while other reporters in the know inherit his smile. Pockets of applause erupt from those remaining to witness Francine’s rapier wit.

In the wings, Roy exhibits delight for Francine, fully aware of the awkward position he has asked of her. She is more relieved than pleased, but accepts his warm embrace.

Image result for police siren gifWhen it seemed like he wouldn’t let her go, his European Police Siren ringtone lets the whole area know that he has an incoming call. Upon seeing the I.D., “You’ll want to take a seat for this one.”

He makes the caller {the President} wait five rings and clears his throat, preparing for a preemptive strike lobbed all the way from the Hawkeye State, “Your Press Secretary delivered a real snow-job at that presser, which was nothing more than an advertisement for funding of a second space colony, Director Crippen. I think they would be more interested in the incompetent handling of the New Mayflower Incident!”, Pedro “Pete” Sanchez blusters in his best  back-seat bravado!

“Mr. President Sir, we are talking about a clear matter of self-defense and protecting the World Space Consortium’s investments from the jealous actions of rogue nations.”

Francine could not possibly guess what Roy is about to tell the leader of the free world, of all people.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 147


page 181

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 146

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 146

…What Francine cannot say {the devil’s-in-the-details} is that an out-of-control computer has an itchy trigger finger or that the destroyed Sang-Ashi space probe had itself likely destroyed Space Colony 1 …

— True to his word, Roy Crippen arranges for a hotline conversation with President Sanchez, irrespective of the leader’s chosen availability. It is midterm Congressional election season and Sanchez and the Democrats may be busy clinging to their support base, fundraising, campaigning, and solidifying their slim majority.

“If I were president, I would be spending less time on politics and more on sound policy,” he mutters to himself. He doesn’t much care for Pete Sanchez as a person, let alone his policies. It is at times like these that Roy feels he could make a real difference in the White House; a thinker and a doer he would be, not a manipulating party person who is mentally missing when things really matter.

A mere 7 meaningful minutes is going to pass as the secure cellular call bounces off
 three different satellites on the way to Keokuk Iowa via Washington D.C. That tiny towns in agricultural Iowa or the town halls of New Hampshire carry any weight in political circles, speaks volumes about the very drivel that is keeping Roy from jumping into the national arena with both feet. Today, the country’s business is being conducted from an ethanol plant in the middle of 100,000 acres of corn.

Roy thinks compassionate thoughts about Francine, who is currently in the midst of her maiden news conference. International incidents rarely have their roots sprouting from the hopeful unknown of the space program and the New Mayflower Incident, as it is being called, is being blown way out of proportion.

Peering out to the newly constructed conference room, with ten rows of ten chairs, he sees Francine control the room with cool familiarity. Perhaps they were going easy on her, hands are raised, questions concisely put, shouting at tolerable levels, and hardly a discouraging word expressed.

This is itchy

What she cannot say {the devil’s-in-the-details} is that an out-of-control computer has an itchy trigger finger or that the destroyed Sang-Ashi space probe had itself likely destroyed Space Colony 1, to set these events into action.

This is the stuff that comprises a competent Press Secretary. Give them enough information to fill column inches or that 30 second video clip for the evening news.

“I believe that I have answered all your questions for now and I look forward to dealing with you folks in the near future. Thank you and good day.”


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Episode 146


page 180

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 145

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 145

.. I am sure the President of the United States will be comforted to know that the property of the Korean Peninsula was not shot “down”, because there is no up & down in space…

Image result for no up or down in space

 

“We have gone over the mission updates and it turns out that we were crossing paths with Sang-Ashi 10 hours ago. I was under the assumption that AL was going to sound an alarm,” Cmdr. Stanley relates his version of the discussion between man and machine.

But AL did not do so?” Roy Crippen assumes.

“No, definitely not and he executed the defense protocols you instructed us to install.”

WE WERE THREATENED BY AN INTERPLANETARY PROBE WITH A FOREIGN SIGNATURE THAT WAS ARMED AND READY TO FIRE A WEAPON.” The computer interjects itself into the conversation.

AL, you were instructed to bring us out of hyper-sleep when or if Sang-Ashi came into range.”

There is no response. Roy presses the subject.

“We shot Sang-Ashi out of the sky, didn’t we?”

“THERE IS NO SKY IN SPACE MISSION DIRECTOR CRIPPEN.”

“Thank you for that clarification AL, I am sure the President of the United States will be comforted to know that the property of the Korean Peninsula was not shot “down”, because there is no up & down in space.”

“CORRECT.”

“This message is for Cmdr. Rick Stanley: Continue on to Mars Rick Stanley and crew; we still have a mission to complete.” While the poor mission director is left to explain this crisis to a nation with no sense of humor whatsoever and a world that is already in shock over the possible fate of the McKinneys.

WE BELIEVE THAT SANG-ASHI DESTROYED CHRONICLE AND SPACE COLONY 1. WE HAD TO DEFEND OURSELVES.”

“Your testimony is duly noted AL and under the authority of Code A-AB-C-CD1357, I am disabling your independent-action protocol…

“…And to you boys out there – you will have to sleep in shifts until WE get to Mars.”


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 145


page 179

 

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