The NULL Solution = Episode 155

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The NULL Solution = Episode 155

…All the unending speculation about may be coming to an end…

Skaldic and Sam are impatiently waiting, when Chasonn and Deimostra finally do get back.

“Let’s get this show on the road Chase! We have a planet to save or a code to crack… doesn’t matter in which order we do it.” Sampson McKinney has been waiting for an escapade like this for many a cycle. “Forget that old hookah stuff, Skaldy, I have some grog for you to try. This is going to be fun!”

Celeste, Deke, Cerella, Deke, Joyner, Ekcello, Fortan {and Deimostra} are there to give them a proper Eridanus sendoff. Sammy Mac may be treating it lightly, but this mission is a big deal. Anytime you place the guy anywhere near the Terran system, apprehension cannot be far behind. Even in the company of {over}qualified chaperones, on a ship he is not piloting, the proximity of Earth is low-hanging fruit. ‘Just drop me off at that continent to the starboard,’ would be such a tempting request. ‘Secretly, Gus was always his favorite’, would be the reason most often guessed.

With a Seljukian at the helm and an Earthling as a backseat driver, it is the ex-Null-cryptographer who is the star. All his computations have passed muster, as McKinney-centric as they are. The how & why, is McKinney related. The what, where & who have been assigned to Lorgan; the probable author and gatekeeper.

Irrespective of NASA and Earth’s vested interest, this is going to be an Eridanian show, a story that Skaldic can tell his children about – if he ever has them.

All the unending speculation may be coming to an end.

It turns out that journey over to Mars is worth the price of admission. The weight of intergalactic peace hangs in the balance of what amounts to 3 good old boys on a quest for adventure. Chasonn certainly, Sampson yea and Skaldic absolutely have something to prove to themselves; or perhaps someone else.

The NULL Solution =

Episode 155

page 152

The NULL Solution = Episode 147

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The NULL Solution = Episode 147

…Once upon a time, he moved Heaven and Earth to warn a then pre-President Roy Crippen that his Talibanistani and the United Korean Peninsula governments were up to no good…

“Lorgan is back,” Fletcher Fitch has found a reason to live after the death of his wife, above the love of his daughters and beyond the purview of just about anybody else on planet Earth. He has been assigned the task of tracking activity around Mars. Just as when he designed the Sang-Ashi Probe for supposedly peaceful purposes, he keeps a vigilant watch.

Once upon a time, he moved Heaven and Earth to warn a pre-President Roy Crippen that his Talibanistani and the United Korean Peninsula governments were up to no good. He watched in horror as Space Colony 1 was erased from its high Martian orbit. He has been an essential part of all things Mars ever since.

“It showed up about an hour ago, smack dab over Harmonia,” he relates the latest news from Milky Way’s hotspot-with-a-bullet.

The building {not the innocuous “structure” as they would like you to believe} is not getting shorter, nor does it stand vacant of improvements. To anyone who will listen, he declares, “There is a portal forming, approx. ¼ of a mile in diameter directly onto the top of the spire.”

In the absence of hydroelectric or coal-fired plants or nuclear reactors, energy is flowing into the imposing, yet fascinating edifice. A lighthouse-like topper appears. What is the purpose?

“Ten thousand megawatts/hr.!” Fitch is measuring crazy-mad numbers.

“That is enough to run NYC for a year,” Crippen marvels, “for what, Fitch… a planet, without a single soul on it?”

“It appears Lorgan is expecting guests.”

“… With a stupid riddle to keep everybody out?  We just had two astronauts there. At least have the courtesy to have Gus McKinney pull the switch!” Roy has resorted to a simplistic approach.

The NULL Solution =

Simplicity by kuzy62 –

Episode 147

page 145

The NULL Solution = Episode 122

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The NULL Solution = Episode 122

…”Alley Oop – Betty Boop – puppy poop, it’s all the same to me,” Stanley & Gus have agreed to sneak inside the Harmonia


A new plan of attack was hatched…

Not only is Solution hermetically sealed from the vacuum of space, it makes a dandy submarine, except it will use its wheels for propulsion. The thrusters would kick up too much red mud.

“I guess we don’t have anything to lose? I can use some excitement. This botany duty is for the birds!”

“Now there are birds?” That would be show stopping news, would it not? They will need to settle for a pristine source of water flowing into Harmonia. “Have you noticed that the creek goes in, but it doesn’t come out?”

“By golly, you are correct Stanley. Not only do you have 2 first names, you don’t miss a trick! That gives us an even a better reason to swim on in.”

“Here’s another riddle for ya, ‘What goes in, but doesn’t come out?’”

“Good question. I believe I want to find the answer to that.”

Gus guides Solution into moving water, several hundred yards upstream for good measure. As they approach what is expected to be a thwarting thud, they slow the manned rover to a crawl. No need inflicting another blemish, like the boo-boo on the bumper when they unsuccessfully drove in the first time. The one constant about invisibility, is that it’ is hard to see.

“Well here we go. What the hell!” he screams while holding his breath. “Are we in? We’re in… we’re in Roy!”

Galveston Launch is awash in high-fives. It turns out that hunches still have their place.

“Rather than swim with the fishes, I’m choosing popping out before we can’t get out.”

“Trout or Topeka Shiner?”

“Me and Ricko are the only fish in these waters. Here we go… alley-oop!”

“Did you know that Alley Oop was a comic strip in the 20th Century; a time-traveling caveman.”

“That describes our Gus for sure!” Rick lets slip.

“Oh yeah! Crip is old enough to remember when newspapers were made of paper.”

“I was merely providing historical context to your live-action metaphor.”

Alley Oop – Betty Boop – puppy poop, it’s all the same to me. I’m taking us to the front door.”

Water has barely stopped dripping from Solution, when they pull up to what is referred to as Harmonia. An ant at the foot of NYC’s Freedom Tower would be ratio-based comparison. Neither man has ever not been able to see the top of any object – that is until now. It is a daunting edifice, no matter whatever its purpose is.

The NULL Solution =

Photo by @cpplunkett

Episode 122

page 121

The NULL Solution = Episode 112

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The NULL Solution = Episode 112

…Celeste is convinced that her husband is not the master of malapropisms; he just doesn’t give a hoot…

After an adjustment period, Cerella readapts to and her son is introduced to a world without livestock, barbeques and droughts.

In the short time it takes to make a TSF roundtrip, Eridanus’ security status has changed. The bigger news arrives from the Triangulum Galaxy via Chasonn; Collapsar Axis has passed by and it is headed to Epsilon Eridani’s system, in the middle of Orion’s Belt.

Letter writer to the Earthlings, Celeste McKinney and former Null, Skaldic have been holding down the fort, the latter becoming fixated not by his Giftedness or the looming gargantuan, but rather the riddle that continues to stump everyone and everything.

“Chasonn seems to think we are in danger, Sam. Take a look at the images of that Ÿ€Ð dreadnought…, inside and out it looks like trouble.”

“It’s also moving like a slug, Cel, for crying out loud! Don’t we have our hands full with little Joyner or even O?”

“I believe I am close to solving the riddle,” Skaldic interjects.

“See? Even Skaldy isn’t concerned about that planet on wheels.”

“What is it about the unattainable that is so attractive to you men?”

“Cerella has told Deke that NASA has given O a name – Lorgan – is what they call it. That means they know it may be connected to that riddle. Don’t you think Gussy and Roy are hard at work on solving it? Maybe it’s not the Selljunk’s business. ”

“I give up.” He cannot keep alien names straight.

“Don’t worry, we’ll keep an eye out for that Collapsed Axle.

Collapsar Axis and those friends of ours are not the Sell Junk!” Celeste is convinced that her husband is not the master of malapropisms; he just doesn’t give a hoot. “I thought you liked Chasonn?”

“He’s okay… a little jumpy, but okay.” Sam yields.

“Then you better respect his judgement. When he says jump, you better.” Celeste is solemn in projecting her resolve. “And you will leave Deke alone for a cycle? He needs time with his family.”

“I hear you Cel. I’ll keep an eye on that intrusive slug and Skaldy will work on the “Harmonica Query”.  Harmonica-Harmonia, what’s the big diff? “And yes, if you can keep him tethered in Cerella’s tower, Deker can get to know that little firecracker of his… Joyner sure seems to have the McKinney smarts.”

The NULL Solution =

Episode 112

page 111

The NULL Solution = Episode 97

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The NULL Solution = Episode 97

…On November 3rd 2054, before the sun sets on Idaho, Chasin Hedley is declared a landslide winner and eventually becomes a beloved #52…

Lake Pend Oreille (Idaho) sunset by Chip Phillips

“What do we tell the “Bassett Hound”? She and her lapdogs are panicking bigtime. Election Day is next week and even the Republican candidate is screaming for answers.”

“Then it is time we tilt things in our favor. Let’s have Francine go public with that “secret project” we’ve been working on.” The wheels are turning inside Gus’s head. “You guys remember “The Wrath of Khan” don’t you? Life created on a supposed lifeless planet by Kirk’s son – the Genesis Project. Why don’t we claim that we are behind the greening of Mars… nobody but the Chinese has seen the building, so who’s to call us a liar?”

“We need what’s his name – that retired Navy Seal to win the election, that’s for sure. Another four years of Bassett equals exactly no good years for us.”

Link to Wikipedia

“That would be Lt. Chasin Hedley! First it was your eyesight, then math and now your short-term memory; I am detecting a disturbing trend.”

“Trend-schmend. Aren’t you going to turn 40 next year?” Roy remembers adopting two orphaned teenagers nearly a quarter-century ago. “My love of this country and expectations for this planet is the only tendency I am aware of. If we give Chasin the scoop on Mars and stand behind him with the “facts”, old Harper Lea won’t know what hit her. Her campaign won’t have time to adjust!”


— And so went the Presidential Election of 2054. On November 3rd, before the sun sets on Idaho, Chasin Hedley is declared a landslide winner and eventually becomes a beloved #52, as it goes. The NASA version of Mars’ evolution was bought hook, line & sinker by the American public. Who else on Earth could prove differently? A very, very late October surprise that bleeds into November takes down Harper Lea Bassett, when every single poll had her leading, leading into that fateful week; Dewey beats Truman revisited.

For the folks at GLF it is a passing victory. Former Lieutenant Hedley is indeed a friend to NASA, as long as he agrees to keep war away from the “final frontier”. He is made aware of the sordid truths surrounding Mars, but the issue fades into the background. Out of sight, out of mind is the prescribed idiom of the day.

The citizens of the world who own a Ronco 3000 are few and far enough in between.

Only Gus McKinney and a couple Chinese astronauts have seen Mars close up.

Nada peep from the Chinese.

The NULL Solution =

Episode 97

page 98

The NULL Solution = Episode 94

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The NULL Solution = Episode 94

…There was supposed to be a small colony on Mars, not a freaking skyscraper…

‘I want to see what Tycho looks like after all these years,” Sam suggests. 

As soon as they can sync the viewer with the geographical location of the Plain of Xanthe, it is clear that the neighborhood has changed. Not only are there clouds and oceans and vegetation, there is a towering structure dwarfing the tiny lander that once called Space Colony 1 its home base.

Sampson McKinney, formerly of Earth, Mars and now Eridanus, is as confused as his the Null next to him, “I thought you told me this planet was barren.”

“It was when I left,” he claims. He has to wonder why Celeste did not leave a clue about her hyperphysical trip back. Surely Crip would have mentioned a little thing like a colony on Mars. A friendly heads-up would have been nice.

Sure as Mars soil is red, a mile-high colossus rises up on the spot where humans once tread.

“Something like that would take centuries for Earth to build. There was supposed to be a small colony on Mars, not a freaking skyscraper. I wonder if the Chinese are responsible, they have always had money to burn?” He contemplates possible explanations.

Just as they get close enough to magnify their view, something strange, yet familiar pops into the scene.

“0” Skaldic has seen it before and so has Sampson, if only for seconds at a time.

Reliably so, it gives off a reflection.

“Harmonia,” reads Sampson.

#Harmonia# reads Skaldic in the Olde Language.

Twice read, once gone.

“Why doesn’t that surprise me? I saw that thing over Selljunk way.”

“I saw it out by our olde home world,” to each his own.

The recent visitors to the vicinity have stopped watching where they were going. The planned descent to the surface is met with a blinding rebuke.

The next thing you know, they are found back in Eridanus orbit; SNAP!

“Holy crap!” After recovering from unconsciousness, Sampson has his say.

Skaldic points to the same viewscreen that recently held pixels of the New Mars. It reads instead:

The Null runs the riddle past a comprehensive Eridanian database. It does not compute.

The Earthling utilizes an Earthly version, with the same results.

Nothing about the last few moments seems to add up.

Fuzzy math or bad Dr. Seuss,” Sam summarizes, “We are a full 180° off course, emptyhanded and confused.”

“That is not all Sampson McKinney.”

“Please Skaldy, I can’t take anymore.”

“The TSF drive is unavailable.”

“Swell. You can add going nowhere fast to the list.”

All in a ½ day’s work.

The NULL Solution =


Episode 94

page 95