The NULL Solution = Episode 150

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The NULL Solution = Episode 150

…Deimostra has gone from talking love with her mom, to crunching numbers with the object of her affection…

“I’ve been tossing around the numbers,” the infamous Skaldic postulates. “I have made a Image result for juggling numbers gifmap…” he points, “… that is Earth, this is the planet Mars and way over here is our star system.” The graphics are scary lifelike. “At each location I have made a list of your family members and when they were there. I was working off the list you gave to me.”

“Yep, that is pretty much it.” Deimostra can only guess/wonder about Related imagea brother, sister-in-law and niece she has never met. “When you lay it out this way, it makes it seem like we’re all together.”

He can see that she is tearing up, moving closer to comfort her. She lays her head on his shoulder. The moment freezes.

She composes herself, “How about the NEWFOUNDLANDER? That is Image result for juggling numbers gifwhere I was born.”

“Ah, good point! That is where I have been going wrong!” He adds an image of the ship that brought the McKinneys to Eridanus. He adjusts the figures to fit the equation:

2 + 1 = 6

6 – 2 = 9

0 – 1 = 0

“You will have to stick with me on this, Deimostra.” He enters the following data:

**2 + 1 = 6 – (Sampson Celeste + Deimostra) in space = (Sampson, Celeste, Deimostra, Deke, Cerella, Joyner) on Eridanus. “2 + 1 = 6”

**6 – 2 = 9 (Sampson, Celeste, Deimostra, Deke, Cerella, Joyner) Eridanus minus (Cerella, Joyner) = Sampson, Celeste, Deimostra, Deke, Cerella, Joyner) Eridanus minus (Cerella, Joyner) would be a McKinney family reunion. “6 – 2 = 9”

**0 – 1 = 0 (Null minus Skaldic) = Zero. “0 – 1 = 0”

“That makes my head hurt, Skaldic.”

“All the numbers add up. Each represents some connection to your family… it also explains the flawed mathematics.”

Related image“Except the zero segments, 0 minus 1 is negative 1.”

Does not the word “null” mean “without value” or “zero”?”

“Okay, I’ll give you that. But what does null mean in your language?”

“The word “Null” is a designation, not a description. It is Earth’s meaning that makes it a derogatory term. The riddle maker has framed its solution with the Terran system as a foundation,” he concludes. “I can no longer consider myself a true Null.” He faintly laments having to be lifted to Gifted status, in order to restore the essential ancient Null Spirit in the TSF capability of the ship Defender.

 “Six McKinneys on Eridanus, nine McKinneys all told in the universe and my separation from my society satisfies the zero result.”

It is as easy as 1-2-3, maybe 4.

“My head still hurts.” She has gone from talking love with her mom, to crunching numbers with the object of her affection. Love = Headaches. Perhaps that is amalgam she should come away with.

The NULL Solution =

Episode 150

page 148

The NULL Solution = Episode 145

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The NULL Solution = Episode 145

…Rick Stanley digs deep for a way to frame his description about really happened on Mars…

Good Morning Mission Control’s current purpose is to direct attention to the recent homecoming of two heroes of space and their incredible story of riding the plume of a volcano to break free from Martian gravity.

“We didn’t have enough fuel achieve escape velocity,” is Rick Stanley’s explanation.

“Not if we wanted to get back home,” adds Gus to this already flawed storyline. “We came back with 2 tons worth of samples; vegetation, soil, water, you know, for our boys in the Lab. They wouldn’t let us land if we came back empty handed.”

“That’s right Commander McKinney! We needed the heat thermals to get our butts out of the atmosphere.”

“And yet you didn’t bring any pictures back to share?” RG II goes off-script to ask the question most viewers would ask if they had the chance.

“We were so busy doing the calculations required for liftoff that I guess we forgot.” Stanley is the most convincing of the pair.

“Then could you describe the Martian landscape to our viewers?  We are receiving that very question from a million people across the world.”

Rick Stanley digs deep for a way to frame his description.

“In one of my favorite author Robert Heinlein’s book Farnham’s Freehold, a family already in their bomb shelter, is bombed into the future. Not to a different spot, but one where there are no roads or buildings near where their house once stood. Only the hills and trees and rivers are there, barely recognizable to the keenest observer. The rest of the book is about pretty graphic social interaction, so I won’t bother you with that.

“In our case, Commander McKinney had us land on the other side of Mars… from that structure… not sure it is manmade or not. We managed to traverse the full ½ of the planet circumference…

“…and back.”

“Good thing, right Gus? We weaved and climbed and dodged our way on some of the same ground covered by Spirit and Opportunity, except back then the rivers were dry and we’re not sure anything was ever green and growing. So are maps were mostly Image result for tap dance gifuseless.”

“And not a single hydrogen station to stop and ask directions from.”

“We could only travel by day, even though Solution was equipped with a virtual star map.”

“Just like the ancient mariners we were!” Gus tries to keep things light. The public has seen nothing but press releases and publicity photos ever since the 1st SOL test flights. All that served to do was enhance his legendary family’s space lore. “If I can interrupt, my favorite moment was when we drove Solution into a river. What a kick to see how she handles underwater!”

The NULL Solution =

Episode 145

page 143

The NULL Solution = Episode 134

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The NULL Solution = Episode 134

…”Come on home Gus,” Roy breaks in, “a tired and broken planet needs you more than ever!”…

Solution is secured, ready for lift-off!” Rick is placing the drone as near to the active plume as is safe.

“Take us right into the firestorm Ricko. That’s what heat shielding is for!”

Up and up they travel, propelled by Mother Nature – Mars style. Before you can count to {6 – 2 = 9}, all of NASA property, other than Tycho, has exited Martian gravitational influence. Covered in soot and free as a bird, the captives follow the plotted path back to Earth.

“Riddle my ass!” Gus looks at the rear-facing monitor. As Mars gets smaller, he catches the glimpse of an image off to the side. In the roundness of the reflection they see Harmonia, not the empty and lonely space scraper, but one dotted with moving figures and previously nonexistent shuttles, looking more like a village than an edifice.



Come on home Gus,” Roy breaks in, “a tired and broken planet needs you more than ever!

Roy Crippen fires off video and files pertaining to the current state of affairs, which he had withheld, until now.

“How is my family?”

Grandpa Roy responds, “Marscie is a real champ, slept through it all.”

“How about you?”

“I am going to sleep for the entire two months it takes for you to get back… right after I tell the world that Stanley & Gus are coming home from Mars.”

“How did the world know we were gone?”

“Alf Quigby.”


“He’s the president of the Space Family McKinney Fan Club.”

“Oh that Alf, I sent him an autographed SEx toy last year.” That didn’t come out right. “You know what I meant…”

“Hi-larious!” The tension needed some easing. “Ignore stories about that planetary distress signal, for now.”

“Roger Roy!” Not Roy Rogers. —

The NULL Solution =

Episode 134

page 132

The NULL Solution = Episode 132

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The NULL Solution = Episode 132

…”Everywhere and nowhere at the same time, yeah, that is the refrain I keep hearing.”

“The question and the answer…”

Everywhere and Nowhere by Chris Brandell

Believe it or not, the state of affairs on Mars holds more promise than that of Earth.

Entrapped, yet empowered by planetary laws of volcanism, Roy is completely aware of the latest Hail Mary being tossed by Gus McKinney, Champion of Mars. Being able to announce the tiniest of space successes may be able quell the chaos at home.

He just won’t spill the beans about the two astronauts being held without their will.

“If we get out, tell the world that we will do everything in our power to save the day!”

“You may have to Gus. The upheaval is showing no signs of slowing down.”

“Is it as big as I’ve heard?”

“Bigger.” Crip is not prone to superlatives. “But we have to get you into space first. When is Olympus going to erupt, Rick?”

“Any time Roy. The magma is tracking up a fissure, big enough to drive your wife’s car through. We have used laser blasters for a primer.”

“Do you have enough power left to counteract the downward G’s at liftoff?”

“Barely… but heat does rise and the thermals created by the eruption should be heavenly.”

“Have you seen our friend Lorgan lately?” Roy doesn’t want to be the last to know.

“Once in a while we think we see something shimmering up there, but that bugger looks like a mirage to me. I’m not sure what I seeing any more,” admits Gus.

Everywhere and nowhere at the same time, yeah, that is the refrain I keep hearing.”

“The question and the answer…”

Gus may be closer to the truth than he knows.

The NULL Solution =

Episode 132

page 130

The NULL Solution = Episode 129

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The NULL Solution = Episode 129

…Who says a watched pot doesn’t boil…

“You look like you’re having fun.”

“While you were out scoping out the Olympus Mons, I noticed something going on with the seismic sensor. I think it one of its peaks may be ready to pop.”

“That may explain the ambient temperature rise I recorded, Gus. Gravitational increases may be causing the core to heat up again.”

“The last volcanic activity here petered out while the dinosaurs were still kicking on Earth. I think we should keep a closer eye on that sector.”

“Why risk being too close to the Tharsis area? The ash will surely be red and probably bust through the stratosphere… which is at a lower altitude than Earth’s.”

“Precisely. When she blows, you will drive the drone out of the newly created hole in that pesky force-field.”

“You are hoping it will cause a rift, no guarantee when that will happen.”

“I’m betting it will. I’m also betting that the power-that-is, did not anticipate this event – shoot, the mountain is nearly scraping sub-space as it stands now. We can ride right out with the rest of the debris. It will be perfect cover!”

“It is sheer craziness, but it’s worth a try.”

“My daughter is growing up without me and you have that peanut farm to go home to.”

A Gus can hope, can’t he?Image result for pot boiling gif

“Pistachios.” Rick has not lost hope either, “What if we use the laser drill to stir up the magma?”

Who says a watched pot doesn’t boil!”

It will be so written in the bylaws of Cryptomaniacs Anonymous {Milky Way Chapter}:

No member shall be bound to a riddle, if there is a logical way around said riddle; which may result in temporary loss of membership. Reinstatement is not guaranteed.

… It is so recorded on Stardate 2056.64 from the planet Mars of the Terran system in the Milky Way Galaxy.

The NULL Solution =

Episode 129

page 127 (end Ch. 11)

The NULL Solution = Episode 124

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The NULL Solution = Episode 124

…Once again, a member of the Space Family McKinney is stranded somewhere where he/she/they do not necessarily want to be…

“Let’s blow this juke joint!”

Rick understands the unusual Texan dialect used by his cohort. He also supports the sentiment by plying his skill to raising them up and out, “We will be taking leave of Mars’ gravitation in 2.5 minutes.”

“I think I’m going to tap into that NY Times Bestseller collection I brought along,” Gus proclaims. “Two books a week. I bet I can knock off 20 books before we get back.”

2 minutes later, it turns out Gus will be able to read a library’s worth of fiction. The Martian Mule comes to full stop, stranded on the threshold of space, like an ornament on a Christmas tree, sans a string or explainable cause.

Once again, a member of the Space Family McKinney is stranded somewhere where he/she/they do not necessarily want to be.

“Step on it Rick, what’s the deal?”

“If I were to hazard a guess, I’d say the Harmonia shield has now extended planet-wide.”

Roy Crippen and Fletcher Fitch, who have been on pins & needles, are currently faced with the ultimate conundrum.  Every single monitor at Galveston Launch reads the same bothersome image:

“I regret to inform you that the “Harmonia Query” is hereby & now a swinging door, boys.”

“We were afraid of that Crip. Shit and two equals eight!”

“No, 2 plus 1 equals 6. I know it’s a pain, but until we can solve the riddle, you have no choice but continue cataloguing the Mars environment.”

Fitch has estimated that they have enough food for a year. It appears that H2O will not be an issue, “The good news is that you can shut down the urine re-processor.”

“I suggest you work on that ^%@#&*g quiz as well. Maybe you can see some mathematical association we haven’t. It seems Watson III cannot get past the arithmetic.”

“I can’t get past the fact that we fell into some sort of trap!”

“We’re all in this together. We all made the same mistake.”

“But y’all aren’t castaways.”

“Tom Hanks made it back, so will you.”

The NULL Solution =

Episode 124

page 123

The NULL Solution = Episode 123

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The NULL Solution = Episode 123

…There are forces beyond human control at work on Mars, and when confronted by the unknown, you are compelled to get back to what you do best, fly… home…

The front entrance is appropriately ostentatious. The “Intergalactic Unity” sub-head runs like a scroll around the entire 4 sides of Harmonia, in languages heretofore unseen by human beings including Gus McKinney and Rick Stanley. They have made it past the riddle/key, but what exactly have they gotten themselves into?

After quite a thorough peek of the ground floor, the two explorers from Earth find the building as vacuous inside as it is large outside.

“Just who or what would erect such a thing, with no obvious substance other than a pie-in-the-sky title?”

Copyright © Sharna Fulton 2014

“This is what happens when you get inside without the key. There is no satisfaction for us here, Gus. We’ve got ourselves an eyeful of the tower and nothing else.”

— Out of luck and empty handed, Solution retreats from whence it came, having simply grazed true clarity, not unraveling it. Into the pure water {that flows in-but-not-out of Harmonia}, piloting against a current that is disproportionately strong for 1.75 mph, Gus requires thrusters to make any headway.

Rick Stanley looks to the rear, “We should have kicked up heavenly mud.”

“3/4 thrusters will do that.”

“See for yourself… still clear as a Rocky Mountain brook.”

“This is getting creepy Rick. I’m in favor of packing up our {horticulture/geological} samples and heading back to Earth!”

Upon hearing Gus’ unlikely Martian chronicle, NASA and his stepfather agree. There are forces beyond human control at work on Mars. And when confronted by the unknown, you are compelled to get back to what you do best, fly… home.

The faithful drone that brought them here to Mars is waiting for them after Stanley & Gus retrace their path back to the other side of the planet. Another 2 month sojourn is in their future. Veni, vidi, vici; they came, they saw, they conquered.

Securely nestled in the drone, they are prepared to achieve Mars’ increasingly increasing escape velocity.

“Let’s blow this juke joint!”

The NULL Solution =

JBs Jukejoint by James St. Claire

Episode 123

page 122