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 =

Painting by MICHELE Z FARRIER

Episode 94


page 95

The NULL Solution = Episode 78

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The NULL Solution = Episode 78

…The Eridanians were raiding the pyramids right after they were built and no one knew…

Father & Son are discussing the current state of affairs.

“I’m in favor in going out and searching for Cerella. She should show up on our long-range sensors.”

“And in a few short {million} cycles or so you may find her Dad.”

“Then I vote for taking Defender back to Earth. Without Cerella, why should we stay out on a world where we don’t fit in?”

“It is you who does not fit in! The rest of us have adjusted nicely… even Deimostra is light-years ahead of you.”

 “If you ask me, it’s a lot more dangerous here. Have you ever seen any Selljunk or Yud anywhere near Earth?”

“It’s Seljuk and Ÿ€Ð and how would we know? Personally, I don’t think we’ve been paying close enough attention to know whether they’ve been by this way or not. The Eridanians were raiding the pyramids right after they were built and no one knew.

“Without NEWFOUNDLANDER, we would not have even passed Mars’ orbit yet. There were supposed to be 1000 colonists at Mars City right now.”

Sam cannot help but long for what might have been.

“Maybe there are now. We don’t know because we are so worried about messing with history. Right now I would trade this foggy dump for a deep-space shuttle ride back to Earth.”

“You wouldn’t settle for anything but TSF, would ya, come on tell the truth?”

“If we didn’t know Eridanus from Uranus, I wouldn’t care.”

“But it is too late not to care! Without the NEWFOUNDLANDER, you & Mom only had a tinker’s chance of being rescued by the Mayflower.”

New Mayflower. I almost forgot about ol’ Rick Stanley… good astronaut that boy.”

“Yes. Did I mention that he was the backup pilot for the SOL project? He would have died because the Eridanians would have had no rooting interest in its success or failure. The only… and I mean only reason we are together as a family is because of Ekcello.”

It’s all water-over-the-dam.

Daniel-Johnson Dam in Quebec, Canada


The NULL Solution =

Episode 78


page 81

The NULL Solution = Episode 12

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The NULL Solution = Episode 12

…We’re going to take Stellar Explorer out for another demonstration run, to the Sun and back…

Roy Crippen needs to brush-up on his tap-dancing moves. President Harper Lea Bassett has landed at the Galveston Launch Facility with personal glory on her mind. She has been lucky enough to be elected leader of the ever morphing “free world” during the debut of honest-to-goodness viable space travel. Gone, or shortly so, are the days when it takes 4 months to get to Mars. Folks from around the globe are falling all over themselves to line up for the forthcoming Mars City outpost.

Whether she deserves a gram of credit is going to be history’s business.

Her lapdog right-hand-minion-lackey, otherwise known as Chief of Staff Dane Shriver, had been sent ahead to orchestrate a credit taking – made for satellite – must see spectacle, with Madame President playing the part of maestro. He thinks he has done just that.

But Prez Roy has other plans.–

No Deke McKinney is a real problem. Real American heroes are destined to be propped up for their insatiably adoring public, people who are used to living life with the immediacy of their hand-held device lifelines; where they see what happens, nearly as it happens.

Deke McKinney is otherwise indisposed.

Roy Crippen has his hunches, but hunches will not cut it here and now.

He has a plan.

We’re going to take Stellar Explorer out for another demonstration run, to the Sun and back… anywhere but around this town.”

Fletcher Fitch is the first to raise his hand. “The SLAV crew isn’t ready to go. They have been furloughed to Palm Springs.”

“Really, Palm Springs, really?” Roy is playing dumb. He’s the one who sent them there… purposely for such an occasion as this. “We don’t need ‘em!”

Is he nuts? Engineer Fitch is thinking just that. No SLAV, no go.


The NULL Solution =

Image result for are you nuts gif

Episode 12


page 18

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 23

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 23

Two key Mission personnel are dead, in one day at that

meanwhile-caption-001

“Planetary conditions are stable, touchdown grid confirmed.” Roy Crippen has settled in at Galveston Launch Facility to oversee the crowning moment of 20 years of work. Once Tycho comes back home to roost, after its

The New Mayflower

The New Mayflower

18 hour maiden excursion on Mars, his stay on the Texas coast will shift gears;

Mars City Mock-up

Mars City Mock-up

to sending off the 21st Century version of the floating boat filled with Brits, the New Mayflower, the first of three people-movers that will add a decidedly human touch to a previously hominid-less planet. Mars City will be filled to the brim with 21st Century ground breakers.

But that is tomorrow and today is today and other portentous profoundness. The Lovell Space Center’s attention is equally split between Mars and Galveston, with Roy Crippen as the connecting driving force for both. He contemplates those that he supervises, a sea of techs and specialists, tops in their field worldwide, 100 people comprising man’s future as good space citizens.

There is one console, Spatial Debris Traffic for the Colony and Satellite tracking, which has an unfamiliar body seated there. For as long as Roy can remember, Phil Jansky has filled that seat.

Spatial Debris

“Where is Philip Jansky?” Something has slipped past him. He asks roving security, “Is he taking a break………now!?!”

“Jansky is dead, sir; we found him in his quarters when he didn’t confirm his 04:00 wakeup call.”

Roy’s mind starts somersaulting through any number of questions he could ask. He settles on, “Why am I the last to know?”

The security chief is embarrassed, if for no other reason than not knowing who dropped the ball. “The Coroner said he’d get back in touch with both autopsies.”

Two key Mission personnel are dead, in one day at that.

“I should hire a full-time mortician, set him up with an office,  he spends so much time here lately.” The mission head is losing control of personnel matters and his patience is flagging. “Who is Phil’s replacement?”pickle-b

The guard checks his roster, “Gurkhas Shah-Dhangotma, from Kathmandu.”

“Never heard of him.  Who hired him with Fred Cabell gone? My God we have a Nepalese debris tracker. Aren’t they still Sherpa guides? This is space for crying out loud, not the Himalayas!

“Mr. Gherkin better be qualified. I do not like this, not at all!” he punctuates his rant sharply, while walking off a disquieting combination of anger and grief… even though “Gurkhas” in not a pickle.


THE RETURN TRIP

Mortician

Episode 23


 

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 9

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 9

“This is your Captain speaking. We will be leaving space-dock in 20 minutes and thank you for choosing Martian SubLight Airways,”

martian-sublight-airways-001

“ROY CRIPPEN IS NEEDED AT COMMAND COM STAT.” An audible text blares from his PDA, tearing him away from thinking about sitting next to the stimulating Riva Riviera at a Red Snapper’s game.

“Gotta run Rick, you hold down the fort while I supervise Tycho’s debut on Mars.” He is off to the Lovell Mars City Mock-upSpace Center to watch the Mars-roving lander and take his part of history. “I will check in with you before we load up your future Mars City colonists on Mayflower.”

Rick mocks him playfully, “This is your Captain speaking. We will be leaving space-dock in 20 minutes and thank you for choosing Martian SubLight Airways,” Roy salutes as he speeds away on the intra-facility people-mover, chuckling all the way.

Colony Control Command Com is bustling with activity, with that time-lapsed, frenetic look to it. Roy’s arrival does not go unnoticed among the other space geeks. Just about every manned station somebody redirects his attention to the Com intercom. It repeats the same vague-but-urgent announcement.

“Come down to the MedLab STAT,” insists the vaguely familiar voice on the other end.

stat

He cannot imagine why the MedLab people would want to see him at such a critical stage in the mission. His mind races with curiosity thoughts…….. ‘Did they find something on my annual physical? Oh my God, please not one of the McKinney’s.’

Rather than his worst-case worries, he is being directed to the Morgue.

“Okay, why am I down here? I am not into dead people.” He is speaking to what appears to be the head physician.

There are two other men in the room, one somber dude with a serious tone and one somber dude with a badge & gun.

“My name is Dr. Geraldo Franco, the Coroner for Okaloosa County, Florida,” followed by, “Deputy Sheriff Mike Judge, Okaloosa County Police.”

“You guys are not the bearer of good news I gather?”


THE RETURN TRIP

Mortuary by Damien Hirst

Mortuary by Damien Hirst

Episode 9


 

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