The NULL Solution = Episode 137

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The NULL Solution = Episode 137

…On a remote corner of King Ranch is an undistinguished home, 7/8ths of which is below grade, facing eastward and has prairie grass and cacti for a roof…

Over in the purported Mr. Lorgan’s Neighborhood, silent preparations are being made for Collapsar Axis’ arrival. Fletcher Fitch has been assigned the task of his long life; install the global force field that the inventor-race-deluxe, Seljuk bestowed upon them. While he is at it, beef up the disruptor array aboard SEx.

Fitch was the scientific whistleblower who exposed the United Korean Peninsula for the Space Colony 1 destroyers that they were. That they were in league with his country of Talibanistan made him a marked man for decades to come. What he does not know, is that there is still a hefty price on his head and fortune hunters out there willing to pursue the bounty.

Texas Sunrise | by DustDevilDiver (Briley Mitchell)

On a remote corner of King Ranch is an undistinguished home, 7/8ths of which is below grade, facing eastward. It has prairie grass and cacti for a roof. It has sheltered the traitor/scientist for many Texas sunrises and provided a haven for his wife and two daughters. The daughters had departed the underground nest years ago, leaving Fatima and the former Aldona Afridi to live out the rest of their lives. Once you are a friend of the Crippens, always a friend.

Up until now, his association with Galveston Launch Facility was viewed as benign. He is just one of a thousand other geek-types that work there… until he was recognized by the single “looter” who managed to elude death the other night. It seems that King Ranch booty may have been secondary to a greater Muslim cause.

It turns out that rogue goon-squad fishing expedition has accidentally spotted a Big Fitch.

But this Fitch is heedless in respect to any danger. He is flush with the excitement, like a kid in a candy store. Molecular stabilizers, force fields and disruptor arrays replace sugar plums and squirt guns. He is on top of the cutting edge technology pile and he relishes the view.

And his daughters have returned to the nest to help celebrate science, in addition to his 75th birthday. With life expectancies exceeding 100, his ¾ share of life {26 clear of his ties to Talibanistan} is well-worth celebrating. But a glitch in the ranch power grid has forced the party to move to Crippen/McKinney territory. However, Francine and Mindy’s culinary skills are lacking when it comes to Near-East cuisine, so Fatima must ferry his favorite foods from a mile away.

“Where is Fatima? I swear that woman doesn’t sit still for one minute!”

“She went back for the Harissa, forgot it in the blackout, back on the counter.” The dish made from semolina is a treat from the old days, unknown to local restaurateurs. Fletcher seldom asks for anything Arab. “Come dance with me my daughters!”

The NULL Solution =

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Episode 137

page 135

The NULL Solution = Episode 133

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The NULL Solution = Episode 133

…The dark side of humanity is on full display…

“Roy is on his way home, Mindy.” Francine is trying to calm a fellow wife of an astronaut, who has mounting reasons to worry, considering that security cameras are showing tiny flashes of light out in the distance. “Fatima Fitch said Fletcher came home an hour ago.”

“I wish Gus were here.”

Roy’s flying days have long since come and gone, but she still lives and dies with every mission, by Gus, Deke, Rick Stanley or any other who sacrifice their home life in the name of exploration.

Insecurity is all around.

When there are wolves outside the door, a person requires more than reassuring words. Sometimes the tables are turned.

A dozen or so, it is too dark to tell exactly, men have shot their way past the gates of the ranch residential compound. It is not clear what they are after, but it cannot be good.

Scenes like this are being played out all around the world, whenever the dark of night can conceal identities. Mob mentality has taken root. Looting is an excuse for the opportunist.

This is turning into the wild, wild West. Where is Marshall Matt Dillon when you need him?

In his heyday, Roy Crippen was a real-life hero. Like when the teenage McKinney boys were taken hostage by terrorists, who stashed them on a Gulf of the Americas oil rig and threatened to kill them if their demands were not met. Did young{er} Roy wait for the Coast Guard? Of course not! He flew his own jetcopter in, threw the scene into chaos and rescued them himself. He took matters into his own hands.

And so he does today, when most septuagenarians have double-bolted all the doors and covered the windows with plywood, Roy reprises his role of rescuer. He leads his presidential motorcade through the battered compound gates, opening fire with his own weapon to thwart the scattering looters. The Secret Service can only join the fray.

Despite shoot-to-kill warnings from Chasin Hedley himself, the bad apples care not. The dark side of humanity is on full display, when ill-gotten gains will do no good, when the planet is supposedly about to be laid waste by invading aliens.

King Ranch was supposed to be a “normal” haven for his 1st family, as well as the first family of space. Until the world can set aside the mass hysteria, even the fences guarding the White House are not nearly tall enough.

When the Texan invaders are vanquished, the vanquisher himself can rest easy… until NASA breaks in to tell him…

…“Olympus Mons is starting to erupt.” —

The NULL Solution =

Episode 133

page 131

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 79

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The NULL Solution = Episode 79

…Because you may not come back, for any number of reasons, the least of which is all the comforts of home and the housekeeper’s cooking.

See – that’s what you get for failing the transmigration class. I am going hyperphysical, baby…

Just as Deke was starting his soliloquy, Celeste pops in to check on her guys. She is acutely aware of Sampson’s opinions on his missing daughter-in-law, which means making sure he does not do anything rash.

“I gather the nonnatives are getting restless.”

“Dad wants to go back to Earth and I was talking him off the Defender ledge.”

“Ekcello and I have been discussing some options…”

“… Ekcello and I – like he cares,” the skeptic in Sam shows itself yet again.

“It’s his offspring who is lost, not ours, so you bet he cares. As I was saying, we talked it over and we think it is time I return to Earth.”

“See – see what I was telling you Gus! I can almost taste a King Ranch Hereford ribeye now.”

“But not in the Defender Sam. We think a well-being check is in order.”

“On Gus and Roy and Francine, yes! And why can’t I go?”

“Because you may not come back, for any number of reasons, the least of which is all the comforts of home and the housekeeper’s cooking.” Like a teacher with a borderline student she adds, “See – that’s what you get for failing the transmigration class. I am going hyperphysical, baby!

“Which means you can look, but you can’t touch, right?”

“Yes, I can leave clues that I’ve been there, but that’s all.”

And so the saga of a lost Eridanian Princess and her Milky Way wandering mother-in-law opens a new phase.

The NULL Solution =

Episode 79

page 82

The NULL Solution = Episode 67

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The NULL Solution = Episode 67

…I want to ride to the ridge where the West commences
and gaze at the moon till I lose my senses…

— It has been pretty quiet in the neighborhood, both the Milky Way and the King Ranch spread – each 200 x 200 square {parsecs and miles respectively} each. No UFOs, no Lorgan, no problem.

The same approx. area as the country of Andorra {tucked in the Pyrenees}, King Ranch acreage is much easier to patrol than the parsecs of space. Even the most adventurous steer will not exceed the boundaries of barbed wire, streams or shotgun toting neighbor, whereas the Space Colony 1 pioneers, disappeared into the thin air of a controlled NASA situation.

“Oh, give me land, lots of land under starry skies above
Don’t fence me in
Let me ride through the wide open country that I love
Don’t fence me in

Let me be by myself in the evenin’ breeze
And listen to the murmur of the cottonwood trees
Send me off forever but I ask you please
Don’t fence me in

Just turn me loose, let me straddle my old saddle
Underneath the western skies
On my cayuse, let me wander over yonder
Till I see the mountains rise

I want to ride to the ridge where the West commences
And gaze at the moon till I lose my senses
And I can’t look at hobbles and I can’t stand fences
Don’t fence me in

Oh, give me land, lots of land under starry skies
Don’t fence me in
Let me ride through the wide country that I love
Don’t fence me in.”

Gus is in good voice this morning. He knows the Cole Porter lyrics by heart. It was his anthem back when he was thirteen and feeling his oats.

Mindy is calling to him by the most basic form of communication, “Gus McKinney, get your ass in here right now!” she shouts at the top of her lungs.

Those shouts carry across Waller County, most of which the King, Crippen and McKinney families own. Save the small settlements here and there, which are mostly grouped around the ubiquitous Walmart Megastores.

He skillfully reins his chestnut stallion back around to the house, from where he was headed, which was… oh he forgets.

“I need a shower Sweetie,” admits the wandering wrangler.

Unpretentious and a good mother, his wife requires some alone time as well – which does not include riding a horse to the back-back-back forty.

The NULL Solution =

Episode 67

page 69

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 201

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 201

…Celeste M. uses an analogy to explain, to put a bow on a story about the good old days on Earth…

Bobby Haiqalsyah Melbourne, Australia

Celeste M. uses an analogy to explain, to put a bow on a story about the good old days in Texas,“Uncle Braden was supposed to check in from time to time, but he got busy with our Space Colony {RIP} and did not see if things were going well with the neighbor house.”

“Kinda like us living on this ship from the Newfoundlians Deimostra, they think it is empty,” adds Sam, who sees where his wife is headed.

“Well after the summer was over and the owners of the ranch came home, there was nothing left of value in the house and what was left was trashed.”

“Braden got in trouble, did he not?” Sammy’s mommy-taught English is contraction free.

“That’s UNCLE Braden and my point is about us honey… now you can imagine what these beings are going to think when they find us stowed away on a ship they fully expect to be empty. We won’t speak their language and I pray they are as peaceful as they appear, because they will have a hard time understanding or believing our story.”King Ranch logo

“Did Braden, I mean Uncle Braden, find out who was in that house,” she had seen pictures of King Ranch (and what a house looks like) on the portable computers they were carrying when they unexpectedly lifted off the surface of Mars.

“They did Sammy and they beat him with a broom, made him clean up the mess and threw the old man in jail for 10 years…I think he got out last week. And Braden was barred from ever setting foot on the neighbor’s ranch.” {Sampson M. embellishment}

“Do not listen to him sweetie. Texas justice is different, but not barbaric, though the squatter was deported back to Mexico and Uncle Braden helped pay for the damage.”

“What will the Newfoundlians do to us?”

“On second thought, if I tried a sequence code over on this panel, I could turn this thing around. Mommy’s point about not being able to explain ourselves is a good reason to hightail it out of here.” Sampson McKinney was getting cold feet, as Epsilon Eridani gets increasing larger on the navigation plot. “WWJBD?”

What Would Jesus of Bethlehem Do?” Celeste thinks she solves the acronym.

“No, ‘What Would James Bond Do‘? There isn’t a recognizable weapon on this spaceship, so I hope the planet has the same philosophy. Besides that, three thousand years ago, they could have conquered Earth without so much as raising a finger,” he looks at his left index digit. “What did these guys have on the end of their arms Cel, I don’t remember?”


Episode 201

page 240

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