The NULL Solution = Episode 111

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The NULL Solution = Episode 111

…Princess Cerella shares her ordeal on Earth, with one-on-ones and face-to-faces…

Face to Face by Stewart Kelly

After skimming through the actual piece of paper {unheard of these days}, its magnitude sinks in, the least of which is 2 less place settings, Francine rouses the gang to attention, with more than the sweet smell of bacon.

Each of the King Ranch residents takes a turn at reading the Epistle from Eridanus. What a cruel way to start a Saturday, having family members ripped from your midst, unannounced at that.

The only individual who will not understand for months to come is young Marscie McKinney. How do you explain such interstellar interactions to a toddler? Somewhere among the excuses must come impossible understanding.

Gus and Mindy hold each other like Gus is headed to prison with a life sentence hanging over his head.

Roy and Francine wonder where time has gone, recalling the days when Gus and Deke were harder to coral than Houdini, the longhorn steer.

One person left off the salutation is Dr. Jean-Luc Picard. His stellar {inter} care of Cerella and Joyner was not only necessary, but critical in their survival. So far as he was torn from his own Alpine world, he had grown attached to his patient{s} in a personal way. He has experienced the Texas-sized down-home hospitality provided by the entire King Ranch populous, right down to the men who clean the barns.

Picard takes his leave, forever changed by the experience, but not his taste for the Suisse high life.

Eridanus is abuzz with the spreading news of Princess Cerella’s return and of course her royal child, Joyner. Even after her return, what did not come back is her previous telekinetic prowess, so the sharing of her ordeal begins with one-on-one face-to-faces, she communicates in her own letter:


The NULL Solution =

Episode 111


page 110

The NULL Solution = Episode 82

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The NULL Solution = Episode 82

…Jean-Luc uses the time away from Switzerland for a sabbatical of sorts, if one considers conversation about speed-of-light or missing cattle a retreat…

The whole Martian affair should not merit any guesswork, fruitless from such a distance, certainly for King Ranch residents Roy, Francine, Gus, Mindy and recent migrants, Princess Cerella and attending physician Jean-Luc Picard.

Babies Marscie & Joyner make for a full house on the Texas prairie. Joyner can talk before he can walk and Marscie usually cannot wait for naptime. She will stretch it out as long as she can for a little peace and quiet. It is not his English, rather the copious doses of olde language melodies. He doesn’t shut up.

Jean-Luc uses the time for a sabbatical of sorts, if one considers conversation about speed-of-light or missing cattle a retreat. He has managed to occasionally slip away to Texas Children’s Hospital to check out stateside medicine, the main purpose of which is to feed his fascination with nurses of the female persuasion. American women are so American and until he figures out that certain someone on the pediatric ICU floor, he will keep coming back.–

“Do you know anything of the Star Trek entertainment franchise?” Back in the day, it was right in Roy’s wheelhouse. It acts as an icebreaker excuse to converse with Picard.

“A film may have crossed a device of mine in the past. It is quite amusing. Why do you ask?”

“Tell me your parents didn’t name you after a certain starship captain. It has bugged me ever since I agreed to take your call.”

“Mon pére et mére are bookworms not video aficionados. I am sorry to disappoint you monsieur.”

Gus McKinney did not have the guts to ask before now, “No? That’s a good thing Jean-Luc. It just took us a while to get used to calling you by name. It just didn’t feel right.”

“My friends call me Locutus.”

It is hard to catch an astronaut off balance.


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Episode 82


page 83

The NULL Solution = Episode 74

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The NULL Solution = Episode 74

… Jean-Luc Picard? You have to be bleeping me! How does a crackpot with a fake name get through to me?…

–Dripping with sweat and exhausted to the bone, Jean-Luc walks out of Surgical Suite #3. He is still not sure what is going on with this alien’s backstory, but one thing is sure, the baby is human – mostly. The mother is definitely not, but does manage to pen the letters M_C_K_I_N_N_E_Y   D_E_K… on the paper provided her, and then passes out.

“McKinney… McKinney… why does that name ring a bell?” While his patient{s} are in Recovery, he dashes back up to search that name of Irish origin. “The damn Space Family McKinney, that’s who I was thinking about!” He does a Wikipedia for detail to augment what he already knows. “Gus M., an astronaut living in Texas – his parents disappeared from Mars in 2030, his brother in 2051. They were adopted by none other than a president of the US – Roy Crippen now of NASA fame.”

It may be a longshot, but Dr. Picard manages to track down a secure line to King Ranch, Waller County Texas.

The last time Roy Crippen took a call such as this, it was some {alleged} lunatic scientist from Talibanistan {aka Fletcher Fitch}, claiming that he knew about a plot to blow up Space Colony 1. He better take this one seriously, just to be safe. “Doctor Jean-Luc Picard? You have to be bleeping me! How does a crackpot with a fake name get through to me?

After explaining the subject matter of the strange call, Roy decides to vet the good doctor, with the vast technical resources at his beckon. “And the woman that you describe as an alien wrote the word McKinney?”

“… With the letters d, e & k at the end.”

“Could that be Deke? No that is impossible. Deke McKinney has been missing for 15 years or more! You’re way over in Switzerland you say? Aw hell, give me your address and we’ll over in… what time is it here? 4A makes it noon by you. We will be there before 4P your time.”

“Speaking of impossible…”

“We, that would be Gus McKinney and I, have the fastest plane on the planet Jean-Luc – like warp 4.”

Picard indeed…’ Roy shakes his head and gives Gus a wake-up call he won’t soon forget.–


The NULL Solution =

Episode 74


page 76