The NULL Solution = Episode 130

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The NULL Solution = Episode 130

…Alf Quigby produces t-shirts, collectible buttons and a monthly newsletter, all out his parent’s basement…

CHAPTER TWELVE

Facts and Other Fibs

 

Accounting for the best of intentions, the avoidance of truth is going to catch up to you. One thing leads to another, etc. and there you are, wishing that you would have found a way to clarify instead of classify.

Keeping the wool pulled over the world’s eye is tougher every year.

At NASA, it started with Lie #1.

Deke McKinney did not come back with his brother, like everybody who’s anybody claimed back in 2050. Granted, at the time the space agency was searching for an answer that was not available to them. The inept solution to that dilemma was to allow speculation to run wild. The wildest such rumor: he was considering a presidential bid. In the ensuing six years they still cannot produce a living, breathing Deke. Some nosy kid in Texas {below in Lie #2} called them out on it.

And the world knows {but then again they don’t} because beloved Prez Roy cannot tell the world that he is alive & living on a world 10 light years away; Too Much Information.

Lie #2 is a one of omission.

Joe/Josephine

Current events are nearly impossible to keep from prying eyes. Every “Joe/Josephine Human” on Earth has a video/still device at the ready. Competition to be the 1ST with news is fierce, to the point of neutering traditional reporting outlets. 9 times out of 10, a story goes viral before the next lungful is exhaled.

Previously obscure individuals are the superstars of news making/reportage.

A Houston-area teen named Alf {Alfred} Quigby has been obsessed with NASA operations for a longtime, which in his case are 3.5 of those perplexing adolescent years. He is president & founder of the Space Family McKinney Fan Club. He produces t-shirts, collectible buttons and a monthly newsletter, all out his parent’s basement. He has going-on 152 million followers of his fan club website, ranking him second only to the Taylor Swift tribute site, where millions mourn the passing of the music icon.

Alf Quigby

When no one else bothers to look, Alf notices that Gus McKinney has not been seen for months. If Gus McKinney, so much as, sneezes, he makes sure that the world hears about it. He has suspected that his hero was aboard that drone, which was towed by a SLAV that headed for space earlier in the year. Neither the man nor machine has yet to return to GLF.

Alf is the same kid who tried to expose the Deke McKinney ruse.

Since his last sensationalizing claim, in attempt to control the message, young Alf is hired as an intern in the office of Francine Bouchette-Crippen. His younger sister, Alfina, serves as interim webmaster & editor of Space Family McKinney Fan Club. Alfred still takes all the credit.

Coincidences and questions persist. Explanations are shallow.


The NULL Solution =

Episode 130


page 128

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

The NULL Solution = Episode 115

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The NULL Solution = Episode 115

…Make no bones about it, it is truly like an expedition of old; Da Gama, Hilary, Joliet or Glenn…. or one of these oldies:

The two month trip out to Mars is a breeze. Each man has his own way to pass the time. 60 or days may not seem like a long time, but when 2 men from different generations are left to their own devices; those devices are bound to be dissimilar.

Retiring Rick Stanley has much to catch up on, seeing that his career path has recently resembled the Chinese fortunes in the world money markets – down. It is enough to frighten a super G downhill racer, so quick was his trip to the bottom of the astronaut chart. He has been resigned to cashing NASA credits, training future astronauts, all the while sleepwalking; not a gratified way to go out.

So here he is, crunching file after file of technical manuals with the hope of catching up with his up-to-date cabin mate. ‘How do I do this or that?’ is not the burden he wants project on Gus McKinney, who has been described by most observers as the premier space pioneer… ever.

Astronaut Stanley is not without his own fine resume, but his reads like a high school diploma compared to Gus’ doctoral thesis. He may be piloting the drone, but he will not be at the controls of Solution as it circumnavigates the surface of the new Mars.

SOLUTION

At 40 years old, Gus could be Rick’s son, nearly a grandson. The veteran always wanted a son, but due to his job at NASA, his two ex-wives were in no mood to be widows with a child. Astronaut spouses are a special breed. His were not. His were merely social-climbing-window-dressing.

It is an odd feeling when you virtually idolize someone so his junior. He has a way to go to pull even, but he will.

Gus McKinney spends his time honing his fast-twitch motor skills and pouring over the “Harmonia Query”. When he grows tired of blasting alien invaders from a game screen, he punishes himself by running countless scenarios past the NASA data-cloud; nothing can be left to chance.

His no-fear attitude prevents him from regretting any of his choices, on Earth or in space. Never mind that he takes a lucky horseshoe with him on every mission. Technology cannot completely replace the U-shaped iron equine wear-guard fashioned by a person called a farrier. His prized appaloosa mare threw this particular shoe, causing them to stop… one minute and one mile from the path of a southeast Texas twister that suddenly dropped out of the sky, right when and where he would be returning from a back-forty fence check. He will forever take that charm, wherever the winds of space blow him.

Not to be outdone, daughter Marscie gave him a lime-green bow from her hair as he left King Ranch for this expedition. Either charm comes in second to his wife. McKinney wives need to be special and Mindy is.

Make no bones about it, it is truly like an expedition of old; Da Gama, Hilary, Joliet or Glenn.


The NULL Solution =

Episode 115


page 114

The NULL Solution = Episode 114

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The NULL Solution = Episode 114

…As is the case when a mobilization mentality takes hold, heaven and earth are moved to make it happen…

“What do we have to lose? You can skip my mission bonus. Let’s set up shop on Mars and give Rick a sendoff to remember!” Gus id pumped.

What is there to lose, indeed? Under the pretense of surface exploration, incoming President of the United States Chasin Hedley has no problem convincing congress to pump up the funding for such an ambitious Mars mission. It can only cement his country’s place as solar system frontrunner. Gone is Harper Lea Bassett administration’s stifling oversight and lagging foresight. Though far from ya-ha time, the climate for space exploration is undergoing a renaissance.

{Null Solution Fun Fact about the obscure ironic loose-link between two characters close to this episode: Chasonn of Seljuk and Chasin Hedley, #52 of the U.S. Kismet or coincidence?}

The Martian transformation is front page news around the world. Speculation runs the gamut, from the 2nd coming of Jesus, to a government hoax. The dominant conspiracy theory concerns an imminent alien invasion. Serious science is silent, seeing that all the king’s satellites and all the king’s rovers are on the fritz.

NASA is the only legitimate game in town these days. They control both the mission and the resulting message. The fact that Gus McKinney is spearheading the project enhances support {“poor brother Deke” is still in an induced coma stemming from radiation poisoning – is the story that the Crippens give credence to}, a true rallying point for a nation and the world to focus on.

As is the case when a mobilization mentality takes hold, heaven and earth are moved to make it happen. America’s allies fall all over each other to pitch in; donations roll in by the armload for the Martian payload.

Rick Stanley is one of only three known humans to set foot on Mars back in the day, and his expertise is highly valued. Any captain of a ship named New Mayflower is a sure bet to attain folk hero standing, if not just a plain regular ordinary everyday hero. He should be able to find his own footprints encircling the lander Tycho, that’s if Harmonia’s incursion hasn’t erased them. He is the one who discovered that landing craft from Space Colony 1 was empty, when the elder McKinneys were supposedly desperate and awaiting rescue. Or so NASA thought.

The new incarnation of Rick Stanley cannot wait to return to space. The yearning to be relevant again certainly beats being categorized as a has-been by at least a million miles. He is honored for the opportunity to work alongside Sam & Celeste’s youngest {assumed}. —

— When it comes to the “Harmonia Query”, all possible t’s are dotted and i’s are crossed. How else can one describe the art of guessing the outcome of such a crapshoot, however calculated it may be?

  • Drone is outfitted with improved engines
  • SLAV is resurrected to carry the drone to outer-Earth orbit
  • Rover Solution has been tested in every conceivable mock Martian terrain
  • The 2-man crew is prepared for possible contingencies

The NULL Solution =

Episode 114


page 113

The NULL Solution = Episode 113

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The NULL Solution = Episode 113

…Gus McKinney would relish the chance for a new challenge, seeing that NASA is getting nowhere fast and SEx is being monitored closely…

The devil is in the details. While Skaldic seems to think he is closing in on a solution, the Gus-Roy-Fitch team is focusing on finding the back door to the blossoming Red Planet. They are striving to circumvent the vexing brainteaser, in favor of picking the lock.

 

Manned Rover

“What if we land on the other side from Harmonia, drop our hotrod/buggy prototype, the manned-rover people are working on, and get a closer look that way,” Gus McKinney would relish the chance for a new challenge, seeing that NASA is getting nowhere fast and SEx is being monitored by the doves in Washington. “We will sneak up on Harmonia, quiet like.”

Fletcher Fitch is usually the voice of reason, “We have not resolved the payload issue, Gus.”

Rick Stanley

“Don’t we have the drone that hauled Space Colony 1 in mothballs? Outfit it with a crew cabin, big enough for me and Rick Stanley and let’s go!”

Roy Crippen speaks for the ever-postponed AARP generation, “Rick Stanley is retiring this year. I’m not sure he wants to spend an entire year on one last rodeo.”

“Why don’t we leave that decision to him? He’s divorced, one of his kids is an aspiring astronaut and beside that, he is our lone remaining expert on the tow-drone… oh and the sub-light assist vehicle (SLAV) to boot.”

Manned Tow Drone

After giving some thought, Roy begins to change his tune. “The SLAV could get the drone to sub-space and we could re-fit the drone engines for speed.”

“2 months out, a month to explore and 2 months back. 6 months max, including the mission prep.”

“This whole idea is a stretch; it stretches both our manpower and our budget. You realize that, don’t you?”

“What do we have to lose? You can skip my mission bonus. Let’s set up shop on Mars and give Rick a sendoff to remember!” Sellers sell, fliers fly.  Gus M. does both. “Just remember, the riddle doesn’t apply to the opposite hemisphere… I don’t think.”


The NULL Solution =

Episode 113


page 112

The NULL Solution = Episode 90

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The NULL Solution = Episode 90

…’The money we spend on space could be better spent at home…’

…But remember, when you mess with NASA, you’re messing with the future…

“Nobody has seen Deke McKinney lately,” states President Harper Lea Bassett.

“I heard he is on location in Morocco shooting a movie.”

“He’s old enough to run for president right damn now; we ought to check into his political ambitions.”

Only his hairdresser knows for sure.

“I want my own “dawg” down there at NASA, someone who will give me all the credit. It’s an election year you know.”

“Would that person be a “Bassett hound”?” Chief-of-Staff Shriver jokes. “It isn’t just the McKinneys who are loyal to Roy; from the sanitary engineers to the Saturn XIV rocket scientists, I swear that they would die for him.”

“I need an issue that will resonate with our Democratic constituency, like, ‘The money we spend on space could be better spent at home.’

“Over half of our constituency cannot speak English.”

“That’s my point exactly! Unless they can eat it, wear it or spend it, they don’t care. The speed-of-light doesn’t mean squat to the person on the government dime.”

“Those are our people for sure.” Privately, Dane Shriver would consider himself as Republican-leaning, if he did not happen to have the cushiest job in the country.

“Make me up a list of possible NASA directors.  Doesn’t {former California governor} Patrick Schwarzenegger need something to do?”

“Other than screwing every B-list actress under the age of majority?”

“That’s kind of harsh Dane. He is one of my biggest donors, be nice.”

“A new director would need to know something about space.”

“Didn’t Patrick play an astronaut in a movie about Jupiter once?”

“No, that was Channing Tatum. He {Patrick} runs a movie studio now; I believe it is Warner Brothers.” It is hard to keep her focused. “I will shoot a list over to you in a couple of days, but I’m telling you, if not Roy, one of his staffers would be best. Remember, when you mess with NASA, you’re messing with the future… the future of all the people who do speak English and actually have a clue.”


The NULL Solution =

Messing with the Future

Episode 90


page 91

The NULL Solution = Episode 86

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The NULL Solution = Episode 86

…“For a second, Lorgan appeared. It seems our friend’s curiosity got the best of him.” He is telling Gus half of the story. He tells the other half to Fletcher Fitch. “Did you see a reflection of an INTACT Space Colony 1?”…

I am the how & why that blocks your way

2 + 1 = 6

6 – 2 = 9

0 – 1 = 0

Solve the what where & who and you can pass through

 

“Are you seeing what I am seeing?” asks Gus.

“Is this your idea of a joke?” Roy asks back.

“Nope. I cannot get one inch closer to the stratosphere. I’ve come-about a couple times and tried. Each time this ridiculous quiz pops in.”

“We’re not receiving any data Gus. Sensors must be picking something up?”

“Yes, I see the 32 satellites in orbit…” He stops short. There for all to see is the largest remaining fragment from Space Colony 1, part of the outer spiral, rotating as if it were intact. A month ago it would have sent everyone into a funk, but the game has changed since then. The Space Family McKinney is found to be intact and the Colony, that was to be, is currently just a footnote in the exploration of space, or at least to the 5 or 6 Earthlings on Earth who are in the know. “I hope we can get the whole story from Mom & Dad soon.”

“Hey, you aren’t doing a speck of good out there. Why don’t you head home?”

“Just one little experiment I need to perform.”

“What experiment?”

“This!” Gus unleashes a disruptor blast. “At least I did something while I was here. The less space-junk the better.”

”You unwittingly may have stumbled onto something while you were destroying Global Coalition property.”

“What do you mean?”

“For a second, Lorgan appeared. It seems our friend’s curiosity got the best of him.” He is telling half of the story. He tells the other half to Fitch. “Did you see a reflection of an INTACT Space Colony 1?”

Fitch did.

 Some things are better left forgotten; for a then fifteen year old Gus’ included.


The NULL Solution =

Episode 86


page 86