THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 162

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 162

…“It appears we are going for a ride, family!”

“Where are we going,” Celeste wonders?

“I’d like to know, who is driving?”…

“Sit down in that chair over there, strap yourself in and wrap this blanket around Sammy,” he hands it to her and secures his girls.

For his part, Sampson seizes what they believe is the command seat, though there is no crew to instruct or the slightest feeling of control. The king and queen of this mysterious realm are compelled to hang on for an unidentified unknown outcome.

The previously dormant main viewscreen snaps to, filled with a panoramic picture of the Martian landscape. Syrtis Major looms stoically in the background, with Tycho and AL wondering what is going on in the fore. At the peak perfect pitch of A, the NEWFOUNDLANDER pauses, as if to bid Mars farewell, the only home it has known for some 3000 years.

“It appears we are going for a ride family!”

“Where are we going,” Celeste wonders?

“I’d like to know, who is driving?” He tries get the feel for some sort of helm, but it seems to be fruitless. “Let’s hope that it hasn’t forgotten the way to Earth, if that’s too much to ask.”

Liftoff is smooth and with the exception of the anticipated g-forces, they were soon out of Mars’ loving embrace and headed… headed… unfortunately headed away from the sun, which at this point in planetary alignment, is in the opposite direction of Earth. After Sampson proves to himself that he has not figured out the secrets of navigation, he unbuckles himself and what to his wondering eyes does appear a solid boot footing and a stable atmosphere. Space Colony 1 had some measure of gravity, but not anything approaching this downward force.

His first official duty as commander of the NEWFOUNDLANDER is to check on Celeste, who is still in post-delivery recovery, and of course the baby. Both are partially conscious from the shock of the ship achieving what has to be multiples of the speed-of-light. There is no space-speed indicator, but the sun of this sun system is fading faster than the orb on an Alaskan winter’s night.

Martian Sky


 THE RETURN TRIP

Rocket Ferry Leaving Mars by Chesley Bonestell

Episode 162


page 153

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 160

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 160

…Deimostra Samantha McKinney is born almost two weeks premature, paradoxically so on April 1st 2030…

…our space heroes are indeed alive, with an infant conceived on the way to – now a citizen baby of Mars. Deimostra Samantha McKinney was born almost two weeks premature, paradoxically so on April 1st 2030. Deimostra {Deimos} is certainly an uncommon name for such a cute blond-haired blue-eyed baby girl, so named for one of Mars’ reliable, if not fickle moons; Phoebe {Phobos} would have been too easy. As one would guess, her middle name is the feminine form of father Sam, an everyday tag she will carry as “Sammy”, the affectionate term she has already responded positively to.

If delivering a baby on another planet were not challenge enough, add in the aged-41 aspect, she-mom-herself-in-labor had to coach “Dad” through the entire birthing process; no small task when massive pain is dominating every two minutes or so and they are using medical facilities that does not accommodate childbirth (as earthlings would know it).

So, as they had done with all the other strange devices and workings of the NEWFOUNDLANDER, they modify, improvise, and utilize. Considering that Sammy will spend much of her first six months in artificially enhanced gravity, she will surely be hailed as a miracle on Earth; Baby Announcements are in the mail.

Their hope of rescue hinges on a leap-of-faith; the faith that NASA knows that the reluctant Mars colonists have finite survival resources and that their “ride home” should be arriving any day now.

For the crew and launchers of the New Mayflower, they have been assuming that Sampson & Celeste had indeed survived the loss of the orbiting station and are waiting anxiously for its appearance.

These nagging, creeping doubts, that growing suspicion that the NASA did not or could not pull the rescue trigger, has hastened Sampson’s attempts to master the propulsion mystery of the idled NEWFOUNDLANDER. It is a singular quest, considering that if they must, they could live out their natural lives, perhaps exceeding the current 100 year life span. After all, carbon analysis of their lone Newfoundlian cabin/cohabitant indicates he died at the ripe old age of 700 and perhaps older than that. And this was achieved with a body that is eventually victimized by an undetermined alien fate. So immortality may or may not be part of their alien equation.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 160


page 151

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 156

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 156

…Mustering any more international mischief will be hard for this evil alliance to do…

–So in the midst of their puffy-chested revelry, when all their focus is on the gloryRelated image of recent triumphs, three supersonic bombers streak across the Arctic Ice Cap, under, around, and through Korean blind defenses. The government complex housing the conspiring power-brokers is leveled in an instant. Two other {space-connected} facilities are also destroyed, as well as seaports Wonsan, and Hamhung. No embargoes will be necessary.

Three more stealth bearers-of-bombs come up from the Indian Ocean on their way to Baikonur Cosmodrome and some sweet strategic points in Talibanistan. Before the sun can clear the horizon to the east, Talibanistani military installations go up in smoke and the Cosmodrome will not be hoisting any rockets for a very, very long time.

Mustering any more international mischief will be hard for this evil alliance to do.

The combined percentage loss to the two countries, when the military and governance vacuum is factored in, is near 85%. Assassinations of world leaders have been tried before, with varying results, attempted by people with different motives and ethnic derivations. Emperors have been betrayed, Kings have fallen, Presidents shot, but never before has a worldwide attack taken out the core leadership of world powers.

In United Korea, the Kim Jung-un lineage is stagnant and questionable, his offspring both being female. Succession to the throne will be chaotic for such an ordered {by sequestration} society.

And you thought they were upset about losing Sang-Ashi…

Talibanistan, on the other hand, has always been chaotic. When you bundle 6 countries together to make one big one, there is bound to be provincial squabbles. And with somebody always ready to take anybody’s place at any time, the melee free-for-all that ensues will prevent a unified response.

And they were so proud about their terrorist expertise…


THE RETURN TRIP

Lord of the Rings the LAST ALLIANCE – Artists: Jason Potratz & Jack Hai

Episode 156


page 147

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 144

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 144

…Before we get sidetracked by sonic overload, I was trying to tell you – that I think I could fly the NEWFOUNDLANDER back to Earth…

Sonic Overload by Caleb Brown

“Your title as Commander is hereby revoked. We are on an alien spaceship and you cannot make anything work around here without my help.”

“That is true, but the rent is paid off ‘til the end of the year and the groceries are free.”

“Money for nothing and the chicks for free.. and the music IS free, that’s right, the slightest gesture sets off some out-of-this-world sounds.” What humans refer to as musical notes and reverberations, the Newfoundlians use a form of communication. “I really miss my Justin Timberlake Collection.”

“You do have a sexy back, but I do not miss that guy… Galactic Static is more my taste.”

“How did we ever stand each other’s taste in music, long enough to get married?”

“Before we get sidetracked by sonic overload, which we can’t turn off, I was trying to tell you that I think I could fly this thing home.”

“And pass up the rescue mission without them seeing us? And when we land, if you can land it, can we convince our own people that the NEWFOUNDLANDER means them no harm,” she teases. “We would probably be shot down by air defenses, thinking we were an incoming Korean bomber.”

“But Korea is harmless, remember what President Sanchez told the world?”

“The New Mayflower expects to find us more than half-starved and happy to see them, so lets let them be half-right.”

“Good point Lt. Cmdr. McKinney, but I still may try to fly it back just to prove I can.”

Try is the operative word Sam. You are light years from understanding their technology and probably 20 light years from the folks who do.”

“I hate it when you’re right.”

“Always right and when did you finally come to that brilliant conclusion?”

“But, but, but… with me and a crew of three, I think I could get us back to Earth!” Right now, he would be 1.5 short of that.

“Let’s just concentrate on studying these beings, their technology, and find out where they came from. We have the time to have a complete dossier prepared, in the 2-odd months we have left. We can ‘present it as a present’, this incredible discovery, to the world; Perhaps the greatest contribution to the world since the wheel or fire.”

“I was thinking the microprocessor, but you are right, let’s get to work.”

She was right again. They have all the time in the world; the difference being that Mars is currently their world and the word “time” means different things to different people.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 144


page 136

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 125

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 125

…Where are Gus and Deke headed now, or are you going to tell me they are dead, which caused Braden to have a coronary

Burning the Midnight Oil by Mick Dean

After Roger Rodrigues drops his passenger off at the Montego Bay airport, Roy is off and running across the tarmac to the hanger that houses his waiting Sikorsky, without waiting for that occasional luggage ferry. After pat-down customs check and a quick systems run-through, he is towed into open space and cleared for takeoff. At about 300 feet the fuselage turns toward a west-by-northwest direction and rising, coming to 180 MPH cruise speed posthaste.

Sikorsky S-92

After an hour of thinking that someone forgot to pay his satellite bill, his NASA device comes to life, this time with a face other than the Communication Director.

“Are you there Roy?” asks the new voice.

“I was wondering what was going on. Am I on the pay-no-mind-list or what?”

Silence… For the third time silence…”Braden King was taken to the GLC infirmary, he passed out cold.”

“I could tell he was struggling with something, but he is fit for a sixty-year-old.”

“He had a reason for dropping on & off…the McKinney boys were taken 65 minutes ago……….”

“Don’t tell me, by a f***ing Mi-38 Hind?”

“Oh so you knew?”

“A lucky guess. It seems to me that there is a base of those beggars, probably in one of those drug-states across the Rio Grande.” Roy thinks out loud, Where are Gus and Deke headed now, or are you going to tell me they are dead, which caused Braden to have a coronary?”

“They were flown out into the Gulf of The Americas and were apparently put on a boat or a drilling platform.”

“Which is it?”

“We aren’t sure, with all the fuss about that Samiq Gaad episode going on, we were distracted.”

“For God’s sake why can’t we defend our own territory anymore? I think we need a change in the White House... you did not hear me say that, or the fact that President Sanchez is too cozy with the country of his father & mother!”

Pedro “Pete” Sanchez is the first United States citizen {President} whose parents are not. The Hispanic majority had finally got its wish.

“I am going to buzz every oil rig from Cuba to Texas and you are going to let me know if Braden takes a turn.”

“Yes Sir.”


THE RETURN TRIP

 Episode 125


page 120

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 123

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 123

… “Please take good care of Francine. She will take a day or so to get her bearings…

Image result for goodbyes painting

Goodbyes by Victor de Melo

Roy’s connection goes dead again… but this time Braden King does not respond.

There is no use in shaking, tapping, raising or lowering his device to get it to work. When something is sent, it will come through.

“Let me out at the service entrance Roger, I can catch a baggage hauler from here.” Roy’s endorphins are spiking in anticipation of getting a handle on things. “Please take good care of Francine. She will take a day or so to get her bearings and then she will be itching to hop a flight home.”

TYPOGRAPHICAL POSTER MADE WITH BICYCLE PARTS By Paul Caridad

Roy reaches for his money clip and gives a good half of it to his new friend. “Francine has whatever is left of our $J and I told her to give it to you  before she takes off for home and don’t you argue about it, ‘cause we will be back and we will have need of your services. Maybe you could buy a car from this century.”

“God’s speed Roy Crippen; it has been my privilege to meet such fine people as you and Miss Bouchette; 2030 is going to be a good year.”

“Where is my family?” A bandaged head, a throbbing arm, and punctured lung do not stop Aldona Afridi from asking the perfectly reasonable question, once he regains consciousness from out of his 5 hour surgery.

“They are out in the waiting room Mr. Afridi,” the recovery room nurse at Elgin AFB Hospital, Florida, “but there is an official from the United States government who has priority access to this area.”

A man dressed in black, who has actually been with Afridi the entire time, even as he was stretchered off the plane, steps into his woozy sightline.

“I am here to record your formal statement. This is an attempt to gather information about an enemy combatant and all information is for the expressed use of the United States of America,” he holds out a handheld device and nods his head indicating a starting point. “In opening, my only question for you is, did you recognize the man who shot you?”


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 123 (it’s easy)


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 120

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 120

…Four days have the feel of forty and what is formerly a 2 week acquaintance has leaped the boundaries set by the fortnight; a foundation is being laid for a lifelong friendship….

Image result for friendship artwork

Friendship Digital Art by Astrid Rieger

The following days slow to a satisfying crawl, their pace of life measured by the inch not by the mile. No more fertile an environment can there be to bring people closer. The kinship of this trio {Roy, Francine, Roger} builds down every new road, at each sacred island shrine. The driver of the car has become an integral element to their experience; which is incomplete when he isn’t around to steer them right.

Flying Fish and Lazy Days Waikanae by Gillian Cronin

Four days have the feel of forty and what is formerly a 2 week acquaintance has leaped the boundaries set by the fortnight; a foundation is being laid for a lifelong friendship. So complete is the blending of Roy into Francine, or vice versa, that any thoughts of the New Mayflower or Mars and KHST or celebrity, are dispatched from the foreground of priorities.

When they aren’t being guided by Roger the Dodger, they can be found lounging by the pool or ocean, SILVER SEAS both. In the case of this lazy day, they employ their newly acquired skill in the street side marketplace. With their considerable discretionary funds irretrievably commingled, joint bargaining has become the rule, when in natural dealings with purveyors of goods and their merchandise of fluid value.

Navy F-77N’s

While ferrying one of their spending coups back to the SILVER SEAS HOTEL, from the interior of the island, the tranquil skies are buzzed by a pair of jets, certainly not of Jamaican or Cuban ownership. “F-77Ns in a big time hurry and they are peeling off to the west.” Roy determines after getting a clear look at their low-level wake. “Something big is up.”

“What are they doing down here? Do you think it has to do with Cuba?” Francine wonders aloud.

“Well that isn’t a bombing run and they are going fast enough to reach the Mainland in 2 minutes. 

“I think the Atlantic Carrier Strike Group Two (CSG2) is having joint maneuvers in the Gulf with the Brits, but the attitude of those pilots are taking screams urgent. Let’s get back to the hotel.”

“I’ll call Roger,” Francine thinks ahead.

In the meantime, Roy’s dormant PDA is vibrating off his waist. The text stream reads a continuous, “HOUSTON UNDER ATTACK!!!!!!”


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 120


page 114

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 108

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 108

…there is nothing but 1350 miles of 80 degree bath-water between Houston and Montego Bay – rest stops and dry land are few

montego-bay-port-jeffrey-samuels

Montego Bay Port by Jeffrey Samuels

— True to his word and happy to do so, Roy and his limo cruise into Hobby (Airport), with one worn-out Samsonite suitcase and a pocket full of American cash.

Tucked away in an obscure corner hanger, at the far end of the airport’s least used taxiway, sits Roy’s expensive toy: a vintage Sikorsky S-76D.

And never mind that 30 year old Learjet sitting next to it. He does not own an automobile, too slow.

Francine pulls up to the open hanger door in a Cooper Mini Taxi whose tail is dragging from the weight of her bags. Roy is busy talking to his hanger’s mechanic about the critical pre-flight inspection. With nothing but 1350 miles of 80 degree bath-water between them and Montego Bay, rest stops and dry land are few. And with Cuba still stuck in the political Cold War, it is not an alternate landing spot.

It is a brisk late January, where 50 above zero winds do chill those with Southern roots. Not the sort of weather for wide-brimmed plantation hats or a sundress, which is exactly what Francine is wearing. She fights to keep the mid-calf hem below her waist.ouch-001

Roy catches a glimpse, peaking from under an engine, dropping an extra-large crescent wrench on his foot.

“Come in and get out that darn wind,” he insists while hobbling on one good foot. “I see that you dressed for the destination.”

“86 degrees with a chance of clouds, yep. The Chief Meteorologist at Channel 13 gave me my farewell forecast, the 14-day outlook, is that far enough out?”

“We’ll see. If Braden and the Colony-Incident Audit come up with something on Korea and Talibanistan, I may have to bail early,” he takes a shop rag to his hands, handing the wrench to the hanger mechanic. “You look fantastic… and me in a pair of coveralls.”

“I love a man who isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty,” she may be speaking euphemistically about ex- fiancée (Larry).mr-silly-001

“Didn’t you bring any luggage; a month is a long time you know.”

Silly, silly unsuspecting man. Francine’s taxi backs up to the hanger door. “Where is the skycap?”

“This thing usually seats 12, but I took out seats and replaced them with fuel reserves that triple its range, so I will need to turn away any other passengers…and you will need to sit in the copilot’s seat.”

“Isn’t that secretary of yours coming along?” It would not be farfetched for that platinum blankety-blank to implicate herself.

“Are you kidding? I may be impulsive, but stupid I am not.”


 THE RETURN TRIP

roys-helicopter-001

Episode 108


page 102

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 95

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 95

…Subscribing to the “strength in numbers” axiom, the guest list has been expanded to include a variety of acquaintances, from the past, present and those not met

edgar-wallace-entertains-a-few-of-his-acquaintances

by HENRY MAYO BATEMAN

These past 2 action-packed days, from the point when the McKinneys attached the deep-space Chronicle to Space Colony, then go and pile on the current theatrics, will distort a person’s concept of the passage of time. Plus or minus 48 hours have drawn 2 days out to what seems to be a week, weaving and knitting every second into a patchwork quilt…

By the grace of God, the succeeding identical period of 48 hrs. streaks by and King Ranch logobefore you know it Wednesday 9 January 2030 A.D. has arrived. For visitors to Braden’s King Ranch, they are treated to the atmosphere of 19th Century American Old West, the date and place chosen to celebrate the combined birth of Deke McKinney, born 6 January 2015 and Gus McKinney born 11 January 2016.

The event was conceived out of love by the ranch’s owner to ease the pain of separation, for both children and parents alike. If everything had gone “according to space-birthday-001Hoyle”, Sampson & Celeste would have been back aboard the Colony and through the miracle of accelerated space communication, they would have been linked to the party by voice and by sight.

Regrettably, Mom & Dad are otherwise occupied.

barbecue_pin_up

Gus’ BBQ Fantasy Guest

Subscribing to the “strength in numbers” axiom, the guest list has been expanded to include a variety of acquaintances, from the past, present and those not met. Friends, relatives, well-wishers and those pesky party crashers have gathered at King Ranch. The menagerie gathers around BBQ hour, which could be any random time of day, and has a few surprise guests; Grandma Savta Bergestrom from Sweden (the country) and Aunt Sassy McKinney, Sampson’s crazy Scottish/Irish sister from Great(er) Britain.

The turnout of GLF and LSC personnel is impressive, with the boys having grown up in front of their eyes as they tagged along with Mom & Dad over the years. Admirals and Generals have reason to be jealous of this Who’s Who crowd. There are two late arrivers to the festivities: ??? + ???


THE RETURN TRIP

snows-bbq-jon-flaming

by Jon Flaming

Episode 95


page 90

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 89

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 89

…The boys could not keep their eyes off the King Ranch linkup with Colony Mission Control, watching the slow visual crawl of the New Mayflower on its way past the moon…

One-Sided Conversations Typography by cheeriosbdr529 on deviantart.com

—Meanwhile, outside the Greater Houston Metroplex, reaction to the Mars bound Image result for metroplex mapNew Mayflower is every bit the equal to Galveston, perhaps having the edge with the mission’s two biggest rooters Deke and Gus McKinney there at King Ranch. The pre-launch drama will not be left out this time, leaving it for it in the hands of local news.

Braden King does not relax until the New Mayflower reaches escape velocity and clears the ionosphere. Then and only then does he join the boys who have exploded their bedtime to bits. Wild horses could not have kept them from watching their parents’ rescue mission move downrange and Braden has learned his lesson about withholding the truth.

“I wish we had a molecular particle transporter,” Gus muses, “and then I could beam Mom & Dad in time for Wednesday.”

He speaks about the big birthday bash that surrogate parent Braden King has had planned for weeks, to treat the McKinney boys who were born within five winter days of each other, one year apart.

Space Academy

“CalTech has been doing some amazing experimentation in that area Gus. One of my friends at the Space Academy has a dad who has successfully scrambled basic molecules and reassembled them.” Leave it to Deke to know so much about the project. “In fact, they say by the end of the 2035 they will be transporting a lab rat to a remote location.”

cats rats hats bats spats by_tomikari

“That sound cruel to me… what if the rat goes in and comes out a cat.”

“I think he would be happy.”

“Or worse yet, get lost on the way,” Gus being an advocate for all creatures large and small. “They don’t get a vote.”

“If we didn’t use animals for research, the planet would have been overrun by flesh-eating epidemics back in 2018.”

“You were 3, how would you know Deke?”

“He is right,” if Braden says so, it is therefore gospel, “if I remember it spread out of  Africa and never made it across the Atlantic.

Black and White Pattern with Wavy Lines.

“You know I’ve been thinking, maybe it would be a good idea to invite Uncle Roy to the party,” no not blood uncle.  “He could use a day or two in the bunkhouse to wind down.”

“Well, duh Mr. King!” Braden speaks for the boys who are transfixed.

super-kidsThe boys could not keep their eyes off the King Ranch linkup with Colony Mission Control, watching the slow visual crawl of the New Mayflower on its way past the moon. It will be tough keeping the rescue from dominating their every thought.

“Well double-duh Braden, I didn’t see his name on the list?” King mentions.

“It wouldn’t be a party without Crip, Mr. King.” He mocks.

“Oh yes, that is an excellent suggestion, we like it when he rides old Hellraiser the bull.” Braden has conducted the conversation for the 3 of them.

Black and White Pattern with Wavy Lines.

11-oclock

“That’s it boys, I think it is time to hit your bunks. Haven’t you heard that a watched spaceship never moves?”

He gets no argument.

“Come on Gus, we cannot stay wake for four months. And Mr. King, Uncle Roy would never ride Hellraiser, he smarter than that.” The brothers are aware of Braden’s needs, “And you deserve to have time with adults of your own age, you know like 64!”

Right now he feels all of 80. —


THE RETURN TRIP

When I’m 64 by nickel8 on deviantart.com

Episode 89


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