THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 13

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 13

…Speaking of supposed-to-be’s {what-ifs and cold days in hell}, President Harper Lea Bassett is closing in on the would-be festivities…

“Take it easy, Fletch. While I was poking around in there last night, I discovered that SEx can achieve escape velocity on its own. The reinforced hull, along with the molecular stabilizer, will allow Gus to take that baby out solo.”

The youngest McKinney {that Earth knows about} is suiting up as he speaks.

“Somebody please inform our President about the change in plans, after the fact.”

“But…”

“I know what you’re thinking. We are going to show file footage of the boys inside SEx. Nobody will know the difference.”

Related image“But what about taking off without a piggyback? Somebody is going to notice.”

“Gus is going to be past the moon before anyone knows he’s off the pad. We’re all supposed to be on the receiving stand, isn’t that correct.”

Speaking of supposed-to-be’s, what-ifs and cold days in hell, President Bassett is closing in on the would-be festivities. Few things are more important to a figurehead than advertised appearances. There was a “leak” a week back {not weak back} about her welcoming the heroes of hyperspace in person. She has long since laid claim to bringing SOL technology to the light of day, when in fact it is only her pen and the insistence of her political backers that are truly responsible.

“Where are our men-of-the-hour?” is the most asked question.

“This guy Shriver is being a leaky O-ring,” is how Francine Bouchette-Crippen describes him, for everyone in the inner circle with an earbud. She is not as cranky as her husband, but at their station in life, they don’t suffer fools lightly.

All Prez Roy does is point to the unique contrail left behind by the Stellar Explorer. He makes up a non-treasonable explanation, “There they go, Madame President. We wanted to give you a live demonstration. How will that play in D.C.?”

To support his elaborate smokescreen, he summons a video of Gus and Deke waving to the camera, curiously resembling the one from their original roundtrip to the fringe of the solar system – and back – mostly {before Deke vanished}. The screen behind the reviewing stand is innocently playing that recording and another showing long-range footage, which elicits rousing applause from all the space-geeks and political freaks who would not know the difference between an asteroid and a comet.


THE NULL SOLUTION

Episode 13


page 19

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 72

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 72

…the man he is watching is as cool as a comet in between stars and manning his post like he belonged there…

comet

Jim Scotti’s Comet Artwork

“There is somebody in this complex from Nepal, that strange little tech named Gherkin who replaced Phil Jansky. I wonder if there is a connection.”

“And you don’t dare question someone’s qualifications. Political correctness has been the ruin of this world,” Francine adds her opinion about questioning anything about anybody… and the fallout.

Without hesitation Roy brings the room consuming monitor to life. Francine can see that it is not an ordinary one, seeming to follow Roy’s slightest gesture, the picture races through various angles of Colony Control.

A Happy Gherkin

It does come to rest, Roy’s steely blues focused on a shot of Gurkhas {not Gherkin} Shah Dhangotma. Of all the Hindi/Arab/Buddhist, Middle and Far East cultures in of this selective space community, this particular man has left him with an uneasy no-peaceful feeling; replacing a previously healthy and indispensable man in Phil Jansky. And what is worse and more telling, is that he doesn’t even know who is doing the hiring since the death of Fred Cabell. It’s enough to put his spinning head on a swivel.

But if he were the informant or the mole or the mastermind, any of the three, the man he is watching is as cool as a comet in between stars and manning his post like he belonged there. But Roy cannot clear his mind’s ear of the man’s clumsy English in the moment before Space Colony 1’s ruin.

“Keep an eye on that guy,” Francine is told, “if he makes any sudden moves, give a holler.”

She obliges and can actually be helpful after getting a few quick tips about controlling that section of the screen… with a blink of an eye.

2018 Map Before the formation of Talibanistan

Roy turns to text searches that may support his flimsy suspicion, or not. Dhangotma’s personnel file is bland and incomplete, though the Baikonur Cosmodrome is listed as experience. Even his file picture has mug shot written all over it, but it is not viewed by someone who knows a hoot about the man.

In alternating between the files and the live video, comparing it to their meeting earlier in the day, his eyes tell him ‘not the same guy’; his memory screams ‘he had jet-black hair, not dark brown’. He knows that you don’t change Spatial Debris techs like you change passwords.

“What’s he been up to?”

“He raised his hand, got up and came back a minute or two
later. My guess it was a quick pee.”

“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.


 THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 72


page 68

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 hallmarks are wide-eyed and many. A NSO {near Related imagespace 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