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?”


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 201


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 151

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 151

…when Roy’s helicopter spots the  Sunset Hill letters on his hangar he can tell that something else has been going on there about…

As he remembers, he and Roy had been in serious discussions over the project that would be Crippen’s home away from the space program. There is a hangar near that very spot now, a steel shed where that Sikorsky S-96 sits protected from the sandy Texas winds when Roy flies out for a visit.

However, the house never took 3-dimentional form, set aside when Space Colony 1 became his spiritual “home”. “No time for that now Braden. Maybe someday I can settle down out here, but someday isn’t tomorrow or even the next… and what am I going to do with a spread like that, no wife and no kids, just a chopper, a yacht and a bedroll to my name.”

But previously closed doors have been pried opened and Braden decides, independently, that the time has come when that dream house becomes a real home. Local contractors have been busy preparing the ground, laying the foundation, and giving it a footprint on Sunset Hill at King Ranch {simply where the sun sets}.

At Braden’s behest the deed for the land has been Related imagelegally reassigned and most of the bills and the ever-popular junk mail should be landing in Roy’s new mailbox any day now.

The time has come for Roy to shift gears as well; Francine will be doing her part and Braden, Deke, and Gus will do the rest, should any prodding need-be done.

Life is good and getting better all the time…..And to find love right in front of your eyes, nothing could be finer.

So when Roy’s helicopter spots the Sunset Hill letters on his hangar he can tell that something else has been going on there about.

“This is KR 2022, calling King Ranch control,” he announces, “We have noticed some topographical changes near our hangar, can you confirm?”

Braden replies, “Proceed with caution KR 2022, there is concrete setting to the north of Hangar #1. Hangar #2 is a three car garage.”

“And that hole in the ground to the west, a meteor crater?”

“No, that would be the foundation for your house, silly.”


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 151


page 185

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 150

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 150

…Braden King feels like he has been granted a fresh lease on that life and he needs to take full advantage of it and that means a change in lifestyle…

A NEW LEASE OF LIFE by UZO EGONU


This picture was drawn by Erika Aoyama 11/16/ 2002

Home is where the heart is; a tired old phrase with new meaning for Francine and Roy. Their days of freewheeling solitude are coming to an end; work like a dog, return to an empty apartment, check all social outlets, make sure the world hasn’t gone mad, grab a quick bite and do it all over again tomorrow. —

— And until Sampson and Celeste packed their bags for Mars, Braden King also lived to work, he would come home to help work his 2500 acres and 1000 animals, catch up on the nightly news, eat some beef, steal 5 hours sleep and do it all over again.King Ranch logo

But King Ranch now teams with the vitality of two teen-aged McKinney dynamos, never more important to him, considering the status of their parents, not to mention his own recent health scare. There isn’t anything that cannot wait, unless something can’t wait, then it is filed neatly into a simple list of priorities; family first, everything else second. Never having married has made for tiny family reunions. And you can’t choose family, we all know.

Friends on the other hand, you can choose and do, while at other times they choose you and the fun is in seeing where you stand in a year, five years, etc…

He feels like he has been granted a fresh lease on that life and he needs to take full advantage of it. That means a change in lifestyle, from the high octane excitement of daily interaction at the Galveston Launch Facility, with whoever is outside Earth’s atmosphere at the time, to working at home from the ranch, keeping track of now ten ranch hands and two McKinney children who depend on him for everything. Braden King will not be making the same mistakes.

New projects are a good way to take your mind off of your old ways, the old days when the International Space Station required attention or that shiny-new Space Colony 1 was being towed into place or you could hardly pull yourself from watching it crawl away from SpaceDock.

With Francine and Roy coming over to spend some time, he has dusted off a 3’ cylinder that has been sitting in his hall closet, taking it over to the dining room table, removing the coiled parchment inside. It is an architectural rendering of house, three bedrooms, two baths poised on a west-facing slope about 200 yards from the main house.

As he remembers, he and Roy had been in serious discussions over the project that would be Crippen’s home away from the space program.


THE RETURN TRIP

Artist Rendition of Crippen Hacienda

Episode 150


page 184

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 138

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 138

…Roy Crippen’s 3-2-1-0 plan is already as obsolete as Sputnik…

 

3. Elucidate his concept of Francine employment,

c) to her and NASA.

2. Clarify the status of the McKinney boys care,

b) as neither he or Braden can do it right now.

1. Describe his feelings for her,

a) when he doesn’t fully understand them.

Oh. Pray that she feels the same about him,

No) now that he has left himself open for a huge fall.

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1. It doesn’t hurt to pray.

2. She must have quit her job or she wouldn’t be here now.

3. She has the whole ranch eating out of her hand.

“I am impressed Francine! For a city slicker, it looks like you have taken to life out here very well,” he kisses her on the cheek, just as if he has been doing it for years. There is something about assumed affection that is good for building a solid relational foundation…. he thinks.

“I like it out here,” she kisses him back, “and forgive me for wondering why you don’t have a house of your own on the ranch?”

“That happens to be on my “someday” list of things to do, but there never seemed to be any hurry, with me eating, living, and breathing Space Colony 1.”

“And I guess you will be doing the same with Space Colony 2?” Francine is fishing.

“Things are happening, even changing so fast that I may have to make some mid-flight adjustments. Like right now, for example: If I could, I would head for the sawmill shed and start picking out lumber for that house. Trouble is, I’d be borrowing bits and pieces from everyone else’s life to make something out of mine.”

“Did you ever stop to think that that is how it is done?” Francine is setting the hook.

“Well, I guess I should start by delegating more at work…”

“You can start by coming into the house and talking to me. I think we have some new ground to cover.” Francine begins to reel him in.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 138


page 170

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