THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 253

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 253

…“Holy crap Deker, we MUST be dead!”…

Near-death experiences: Artwork of Death by Peter Sheehan.

After Stellar Explorer settles into its perch, Celeste wrestles with the techniques she learned from Cerella; the “thawing” of human beings, not the more familiar suspended-sleep-state NASA employed for astronauts on the way to Mars. These are not-so-ordinary lives at stake. Cerella soothes her from the rear, coaching her through the procedure.

Rich oxygen-laden and argon infused Eridanian air replaces Deke & Gus’ Earthly mixture. That they quickly adapt to the hyper- atmospheric combination is important, their parents having had years to do so.

And though she had been present at the out-of-body rescue 30 months ago, it is nothing like sharing the same physical space with her sons; so silent, so innocent, so unaware. She gently, carefully removes the metabolic retardation shroud from around the unconscious men. With the aid of a scanner, which she herself had developed in the interim, a physical human-tailored check created and now performed to detect any temporary or permanent damage to their befuddled molecules.

The hijacked SOL astronauts pass this loving scrutiny like troopers, proving that the timing and placement of the molecular stabilizer had been fortuitous and effective.

In the reverse order of their suspension, the last to succumb is the first to resuscitate. When Deke begins to stir, Celeste hastens her familial onlookers to join her.

Because he was virtually frozen in the moment, Deke’s last conscious impression was Related imageof his speaking to what seemed to be his mother. One can imagine the boggling ramifications of now seeing his father and a strange young girl as well, adding to the aberration; the difference being that this time the images are very clear and not translucent.

Déjà vu all over again prompts him to repeat his attempt to revive his co-pilot, “Gus, come on Gus, wake up dude!”

“What do you want?” Like the morning of their test flight, he is in a fog.

Deke merely points to the three unlikely people standing before them.

“Holy crap Deker, we MUST be dead!”


THE RETURN TRIP

Near Death Experience by Caz Cat

Episode 253


page 226

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 140

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 140

CHAPTER SEVEN

Pick a Pew

AL, the computer generated intelligence  continues to develop a personality, like that crazy uncle who gets passed on from one generation of system to the next

Personality by Portus Ojomo

The tactical changes to New Mayflower have been craftily made by the three-man crew, as prescribed by Aldona Afridi, the newly branded NASA SOL Engineer. With that task complete, implementation is being robotically transmitted back to Earth by AL. The computer generated intelligence not only does his programmed functions, but continues to develop a personality, like that crazy uncle who gets passed on from one generation of system to the next. In this case it is from deep-space Chronicle and Space Colony 1 to deep-space New Mayflower, with this continuing incarnation furthering the tradition of doing things that were not programmed.

“Thank you for sending that circuit update to Mission Control, AL, although I was going to call it in myself,” Rick Stanley speaks into thin air and magically communicates with the computer.

“YOU WERE BUSY PREPARING FOR HYPER-SLEEP COMMANDER RICK. I AM PROGRAMMED TO ASSIST YOU TO THE BEST OF MY ABILITY.”

The 2nd in command calls to question, When did AL start calling you by your first name?

“He did call me Commander and maybe he calls his programmer papa.”

“WE CAN HEAR YOU TALKING ABOUT US.”

“And now it’s “we” instead of I.”

“We air breathers will be seeing the inside of our eyelids in 15 minutes, forget about AL for now.”

“GOODNIGHT GUYS.” —

— Ten million miles go by, accompanied by the “curse” that sleep brings, the garbage can of the human mind called dreams. Some people don’t remember them, while others not only remember them, but in living color to boot. Advanced dreamers can wake up, remember their colorful dream, fall back asleep and pick the storyline where they left off. Still others have recurring nightmares and purposely stay awake, as to wipe their semiconscious slate clean.

Hyper-sleep has been likened to suspended animation, born out of necessity, the need to pass the time on these “short” interplanetary trips, unlike those intra-galactical excursions of the NEWFOUNDLIANS, as long as Earth-space- travelers are bound to the nagging-ly slow sub-light speeds.

Hyperactive is the best way to describe AL, no need for the male-slanted voice of the shuttle fleet main computer system to slumber. AL was intended to be totally interactive, mildly intuitive, and always at the ready. “His” recent First Person reference of “we” is a leap ahead from “I”, implying that his singular function is morphing into one of feeling like he is part of the team.

“Feeling” is the operative term here. Somewhere along the way, perhaps an evolutionary step brought on by the demise of his “brother” aboard the Chronicle, AL must have decided that independent action is necessary for self-preservation.

10 million miles is the equivalent of 2 weeks of space real estate covered and “they” must be ever vigilant.


 THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 140


page 132

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 133

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 133

Hey buddy, you’re out in real space, you better be prepared for the unknown…

Floating In Unknown by Andrea Banjac

— With the condition of Braden King weighing him down, the well-being of the Space Family McKinney both here and on Mars occupying its regular space, and his unattended new relationship with Francine Bouchette bouncing around the lonely corners of his heart, Roy is forced to put those on back burners to deal with the not-so-clear and present realities that reside in that yawning dark space between the Moon and the Red Planet.

There at the launch facility he can speak directly to Cmdr. Rick Stanley, which is a luxury, considering the fractional parsecs of unknown-ities that surround the situation, “How are you doing young Rick?”

“We are just about ready to hit the hay for a month or so. Without a night and day as guideposts, it has been hard to get any rest at all.”

“I hate to the bearer of bad news, but we will need to put-off your long summer’s nap for a few days; I have a couple of things I need you to do.”

“As long as we get paid overtime… sure thing Boss!”

“I have a meeting with Global 9 Insurance and I’ll see what they cover, but for now I need for you change your heading, enough to take you a couple thousand miles to the right hand side of your flight plan and stick to that course until I tell you to go back to the original.”

“Okay?” The New Mayflower space pilot complies, taking mere seconds to do so. “Are we trying to lose that nagging echo? I know it cannot keep up with our new propulsion system?”

“Good. Now if you check your data banks, you will find a .pdf file named Afridi. Please download it now.”

“Afraid-y? We ain’t scared of nothing out here, ‘cept asteroids and hemorrhoids.”

“a-f-r-i-d-i and do not sit on this. I want you to hotwire it into the circuits of that
bucket of titanium you are driving.”

“This looks like a combination of an energy damper and electron scrambler. Is this a weapon or a shield and why are you being cryptic?” These defensive alterations have the rescue mission captain wondering. “And what about the bogey we’re trying to shake?”

Roy wants Rick to stick to the basics, so as not to keep them awake for the final two months of their mission. “And one more thing, tell your buddy AL to wake you guys up if he senses anything else manmade out there.”

AL is the generic, but contiguously used name for the on-board annoyingly expressive interactive computer systems that are built-in to every NASA spacecraft.

“We have AL’s volume muted. Someone, who best remains nameless, decided to give him a sense of humor.”

“Don’t blame it on anyone here Rick. I think AL is doing his own evolutionary augmentations; can you blame him after losing his brother the Chronicle. They are all interconnected you know.””

“You talk about AL like he is a life form.”

“Hey buddy, you’re out in real space, you better be prepared for the unknown. Is an evolving computer so unbelievable?  No it’s not, so work with AL… and keep your powder dry.”


THE RETURN TRIP

Artificial Intelligence by Mehau Kulyk

Episode 133


page 125 + 126