THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 210

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 210

…that impenetrable gaseous shield that encases Planet X collapses inward, like the flushing of a toilet, revealing…

DreamySkies-blue1-(Magical)Instead of knifing through the planet’s pea soup ionosphere, to allow that anxiously awaited first glimpse from on high, the NEWFOUNDLANDER nestles into an orbit above the vaporous barrier.

“I really, really hope that is water vapor and not pollution, ‘cause I would greatly prefer Seattle to Shanghai. Or worse yet, that is an ammonia blanket!” Sampson McKinney expresses the palpable anxiety pressure in the cabin, with the trio of Earthlings as presentable as they can be after five years in space. The vagueness of the moment has leveled the playing field between adults and child; so many the questions, so few the answers.

Suffering through two orbits and finding it hard to maintain an upright edge, an unexpected event serves to divert their attention. While on the (sun)lit portion of their revolution, Epsilon Eridani bright rays vanish, eclipsed by one or both of its mates. The harsh return to total darkness lasts several revolutions only. The molten brother and the desolate daughter spin away on their intended paths while restoring a stars’ radiation to the seemingly confused little sister.

Eridanus3

Another trip around the outlying reaches of NEWFOUNDLANDER’S home seems likely. The wait is maddening for the stowaways. After all, if they were in a holding pattern above Honolulu International, at least they would know which hotel they were staying at. They have spent what they believe to be one-half of a decade of their lives aboard a hijacked alien spacecraft, willing hostages of the unknown, but reluctant strangers of uncertainty. That they arrive at this place in the galaxy with a shred of sanity to their names is a testament to their training and the dedication to carry out a mission, no matter what it takes or where it takes you.Related image

Photo by Warner Bros., from Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century

But as another ho-hum orbit ends, much like the earlier eclipse and just as abrupt, that impenetrable gaseous shield that encases Planet X collapses inward, like the flushing of a toilet in the Southern Hemisphere at home. NEWFOUNDLANDER follows in behind the withdrawing cover and as it descends to the altitude of an intercontinental supersonic transport, the planet of their fancy is revealed in its entire splendor.


THE RETURN TRIP

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 209

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 209

…The McKinneys are relieved when their space-taxi whooshes past the ominous molten maelstrom and subsequently an uninviting barren exo-world that looks like it would make a great prison planet

The NEWFOUNDLANDER continues to hurtle toward the planetary system which must surely be their final destination. The ship with a remote control mind uses all the right moves on its approach, like it had done this very move before. A skilled navigator himself, SamImage result for speed of light gif sincerely hopes so, because he is beginning to feel uneasy with the speed at which they going at this late stage. That scary mega planet is looking large and larger, its red-hot surface churning like the gates of hell… and they have barely dipped below SOL.

Born to go fast and built for speed, Sampson and Celeste are in white-knuckle mode, each in their own way, praying that the NEWFOUNDLANDER would slow down! Imagine being a passenger in an auto without a steering wheel whose brakes have failed and that would pretty much sum up the situation.

Little do they realize that due to the orb’s enormous mass, the illusion of proximity is just that, an illusion? At a half a million miles out, the stardrive that had relentlessly propelled them past several other stars without a pit-stop begins to back off, freezing the white dots of light behind them. An example: Earth’s sunlight will catch up to the Epsilon Eridani solar system in another year or so.

They are relieved when their space-taxi whooshes past the ominous molten maelstrom and subsequently an uninviting barren exo-world that looks like it would make a great prison planet. Once the sub-light deceleration has taken full effect, and you can DreamySkies-blue2-(Magical)definitely notice the difference.

The only possible landing point is the third largest member of this unique triumvirate, a misty looking sphere, the size of which is hard to judge. There are no clues as to what lays beneath the cloaking shroud; no hints to its close-up appearance.

Instead of knifing through the planet’s pea soup ionosphere, to allow that anxiously awaited first glimpse from on high, the NEWFOUNDLANDER nestles into an orbit above the vaporous barrier.

What lies beneath the clouds & mist?


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 209


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 204

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 204

…Is the NEWFOUNDLANDER a colonizer/scout that is now returning to a burned out home?…

“Get a load of that one,” Sampson to Celeste & Sammy, “it is 2X the size of Jupiter and spinning like a top!”

A NEWFOUNDLANDER monitor dedicated to geological activity reveals a tempestuous surface, three-fourths boiling with volcanism. Elsewhere, raging magnetic storms ripple through a conspicuously toxic atmosphere.

“I think we can cross that planet off our list Sam,” Celeste reasons.

“It may not be what you would call a vacation destination, but a recent course deviation puts us right in line with that monster.” He checks and rechecks his unlikely calculations, each time netting the same results.

“There cannot be so much as a trace of oxygen or a stable slab of ground on that planet Sam. Remember when we speculated that the NEWFOUNDLIANS may have been searching out a new home planet? Or has their world started a geological upheaval after they left? Is this ship a colonizer/scout that is now returning to a burned out home?

“That is a possibility,” he says in a regretting tone, “but what if one of those moons happens to be their home? There is one moon, slightly smaller than Earth and yet another could be Neptune’s twin brother! And Neptune2 looks like it has a moon of its own. Doesn’t that blow your mind?”

Epsilon_Eridani_b

This is an inaugural peek at a solar system through provincial perceptions of conventionality. Hubble had alerted Earthly eyes of the existence of viable planetary systems circling other stars, so odds favor it. But to have postulated the strange and complex menagerie attending to Epsilon Eridani, no super-telescope could have sorted out.

Exhibit One: There four mega-planets in similar orbits, over a billion miles away from their blue-white star, the largest planet owning two moons, one the size of Neptune, and that with a satellite to boot; unheard of.


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Burned Out by Louise Adams

Episode 204


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 203

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 203

…they believe the end of year 2035 is near, a conceptual rendering of time, partially reconnoitered by Sammy’s growth and keeping track on an old-fashioned wristwatch…

Painting of Nestor Ferronato

As the enlarging emergence of Epsilon Eridani and the heightened anticipation it is Related imageproducing, Sampson’s demeanor stabilizes; finally a goal is in sight. There aren’t stars around every corner. In the coming of a new orange sphere, he can sense the warmth internally, even though an Earthly comparison would be like spotting the Rocky Mountains from the east while driving an automobile. What seems like a day later, you first get the sense you are going uphill.

epsilon eridani by arise chicken117

The far-reaching scope of the NEWFOUDLANDER’S viewscreen becomes the hot topic as they believe the end of year 2035 is near, a conceptual rendering of time, partially reconnoitered by Sammy’s growth and keeping track on an old-fashioned wristwatch. The estimated forty trillion, that is the #40 with twelve zeroes, miles of space traveled, where nothing but darkness and tiny white dots dominate the viewscreen, finally there is a tangible celestial objects to train their longing eyes on.

Five (that is the #5 with no zeroes) heavenly bodies they are coming upon. Other than the obvious blazing tangerine fireball, this system’s sun, a star from Earth telescope’s perspective, four immense planets are orbiting Epsilon Eridani at the far-out distance equal to Jupiter’s. They are spaced far enough apart in the planes of their orbits so that their gravitation cancels each other’s out. There are no other significant bodies inside this planetary parade, although there is one nearly continuous band of asteroids, meteors, and comet-like matter circling Epsilon 100 million miles out.

Each of these gigantic spheres numbers many objects as “moons” as an entourage.Epsilon Eridani b.jpg Several of these would make sizable planets on their own merit and perhaps they were before this quartet of gravity hogs drew them into their inescapable clutches.

“Get a load of that one,” Sampson to Celeste & Sammy, “it is twice the size of Jupiter!”

A NEWFOUNDLANDER monitor dedicated to geological activity reveals a tempestuous surface, three-fourths boiling with volcanism. Elsewhere, raging magnetic storms ripple through a conspicuously toxic atmosphere.


THE RETURN TRIP

great destination by henryz – deviatart.com

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 202

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 202

…“Well Earth has gone from pyramids & chariots to satellites & spaceships since then.”…

Two months later in their truly incredibly unlikely journey, following-up their ongoing “home schooling” of Deimostra, as a family they tackle the issue of just how they could exchange information with the Newfoundlanders. Simple drawings surely must be the most effective way to impart the essence of a civilization, but blank paper is unnecessary in a digital world; a challenge with a budding artist for a child.

“I told you not to launch all those message(s)-in-a-bottle to your mother,” Sampson jousts in his sarcastically upbeat style. “It just occurred to me that these people have already seen Egyptian artwork, so they already know something about us.”

“Well Earth has gone from chariots to spaceships since then.”

 Another avenue of interaction, the recurring theme on the NEWFOUNDLANDER, is musical composition. Every single day of their 4+ year trek they encounter distinct individual tones, spanning six octaves in range, all of which seems to make their world move & shake in a unique and mystifying fashion.

“I will be sure not to hum the wrong song. Green Day may mean something degrading or vulgar,” he editorializes.

“Nothing we have heard is true “melody”, so thankfully my classical training may be useful.”

“Yeah, well if they happen to have 88 keys on some instrument, we can’t push our luck; Chopin and Liszt may not be their cup of tea, any more than Punk Rock is.”

At times, increasingly lately, she worries about Sam’s ability to take anything seriously. Every conversation is an occasion for sharp and increasingly pointed wit. Some of it is genuinely funny and serves to ease the tension of deep-space flight, but on the other hand, much of the so-called levity is biting and coarse, the kind of stuff Sigmund Freud would have concerns about.

Celeste is not Freud, though even she had the skills for it, it is not a good idea to psychoanalyze, when you are not sure what the cure is. One thing she is positive about is that her Mission Commander has been overtaken by the impotent role he is playing in the course of the NEWFOUNDLANDER excursion. Perhaps she should have agreed to let him tinker with the navigation, but at the time, it made sense to take the careful course of leaving well-enough alone.


THE RETURN TRIP

Message in a Bottle by jrivadulla deviantart.com

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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?”


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 200

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 200

…We may be treated like unwanted visitors, stowaways feeling like common squatters on someone’s private property…

Stowaway Peers Out at the Speed of Light by James Rosenquist

Just how long would it be before an Earth produced space vehicle can match the fleeting speed of the outbound NEWFOUNDLANDER?

That very subject is broached by the senior member of the Space Family McKinney, who along with the rest is traveling multiples of the speed-of-light, not by the grace of genius or invention, but by pure dumb (bad) luck, especially since the New Mayflower would have rescued them several years ago.

“Do you realize that we could have made about a half a million round trips from Mars to Earth by now?” Sammy Mac enlightens anyone who bothers to listen. “If only I could steer this thing!”

“Yes dear, you’ve told us at least that many times in however many years it has been,” answers Celeste, who comprises one of the two other pairs of ears on the ship, “but we agreed to let the NEWFOUNDLANDER go its own way, likely with a purpose as we have determined and if we don’t stop where we think it is going to, then we’ll consider turning around.”

“We’ve come this far haven’t we? I guess it would be impolite to turn back right now. Hell, Gus & Deke may pay us a visit one of these years. The only obstacle I can think of is coming up with a hull superstructure that is strong enough to withstand the pressure and skin radiation. AND if they follow the path to cold fusion, which is the heart of the SOL Project, at least in its infancy — they might be zipping along like us in no time.”

“That is a wonderful thought Sam, but we may find ourselves in a tenuous situation soon. We may be treated like unwanted visitors, stowaways feeling like common squatters on someone’s private property.She climbs into the King Ranch WABAC machine. “Do you remember that house Braden was supposed to look after back in ’23?”

“Yes, he was doing the neighbor rancher a favor, or so he thought, while they went north for the summer… they really hated the 100º  degree weather in the summer.”

“What is 100 degree weather Daddy?” Deimostra Samantha McKinney, the first child-of-space has many questions about a home planet that she has only heard stories about.

“Let Mommy finish her story….”


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 162

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 162

…“It appears we are going for a ride, family!”

“Where are we going,” Celeste wonders?

“I’d like to know, who is driving?”…

“Sit down in that chair over there, strap yourself in and wrap this blanket around Sammy,” he hands it to her and secures his girls.

For his part, Sampson seizes what they believe is the command seat, though there is no crew to instruct or the slightest feeling of control. The king and queen of this mysterious realm are compelled to hang on for an unidentified unknown outcome.

The previously dormant main viewscreen snaps to, filled with a panoramic picture of the Martian landscape. Syrtis Major looms stoically in the background, with Tycho and AL wondering what is going on in the fore. At the peak perfect pitch of A, the NEWFOUNDLANDER pauses, as if to bid Mars farewell, the only home it has known for some 3000 years.

“It appears we are going for a ride family!”

“Where are we going,” Celeste wonders?

“I’d like to know, who is driving?” He tries get the feel for some sort of helm, but it seems to be fruitless. “Let’s hope that it hasn’t forgotten the way to Earth, if that’s too much to ask.”

Liftoff is smooth and with the exception of the anticipated g-forces, they were soon out of Mars’ loving embrace and headed… headed… unfortunately headed away from the sun, which at this point in planetary alignment, is in the opposite direction of Earth. After Sampson proves to himself that he has not figured out the secrets of navigation, he unbuckles himself and what to his wondering eyes does appear a solid boot footing and a stable atmosphere. Space Colony 1 had some measure of gravity, but not anything approaching this downward force.

His first official duty as commander of the NEWFOUNDLANDER is to check on Celeste, who is still in post-delivery recovery, and of course the baby. Both are partially conscious from the shock of the ship achieving what has to be multiples of the speed-of-light. There is no space-speed indicator, but the sun of this sun system is fading faster than the orb on an Alaskan winter’s night.

Martian Sky


 THE RETURN TRIP

Rocket Ferry Leaving Mars by Chesley Bonestell

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 161

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 161

…Systems on the NEWFOUNDLANDER that never made so much as a peep, poop or gurgle are adding their ovations to the emergent chorus…

Chorus by Jacob Rowan

The Space Family McKinney, Sampson, Celeste, and Sammy are strangely content with whatever fate befalls them, but not long after that adorable-Mars/moon-namesake joins the 4th planet party, the NEWFOUNDLANDER seems to be having other ideas. Several times in the recent past, Sampson noted sudden, uncharacteristic computing activity. It seems random and spontaneous, not as a result of anything they or he was doing, but it is incremental in its frequency.

“Here it goes again Sam! Are you sure you didn’t bump something over there?”Celeste is concerned about the electronica noises distracting Sammy from feeding time, courtesy of one of her two milk-filled nursing stations. It is the only dispensary aboard this ship that is certified Grade A.

“I keep telling you that nothing I am doing around this musical chatterhouse is causing any of this. I would not risk upsetting the status quo, although I really think I getting that steering thing nailed.”

During this current cycle of beeps, boops, bops, pops, and hums, the whole ship comes alive at once, in the familiar key of A. Systems that never made so much as a peep, poop or gurgle are adding their ovations to the emergent chorus. It is like the ghosts of its former crew were manning their stations, which was impossible.

When the unmistakable whine of the ship’s propulsion unit, that magical mystery miniature module in the bowels of the lower deck shakes the control bridge and the sheer awesome power is being harnessed and directed with purpose, Sampson acts instinctively.

“Sit down in that chair over there, strap yourself in and wrap this blanket around Sammy,” he hands it to her and secures his girls.

For his part, Sampson seizes what they believe is the command seat, though there is no crew to instruct or the slightest feeling of control.


  THE RETURN TRIP

No Control by Güneş Yılmaz

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 160

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 160

…Deimostra Samantha McKinney is born almost two weeks premature, paradoxically so on April 1st 2030…

…our space heroes are indeed alive, with an infant conceived on the way to – now a citizen baby of Mars. Deimostra Samantha McKinney was born almost two weeks premature, paradoxically so on April 1st 2030. Deimostra {Deimos} is certainly an uncommon name for such a cute blond-haired blue-eyed baby girl, so named for one of Mars’ reliable, if not fickle moons; Phoebe {Phobos} would have been too easy. As one would guess, her middle name is the feminine form of father Sam, an everyday tag she will carry as “Sammy”, the affectionate term she has already responded positively to.

If delivering a baby on another planet were not challenge enough, add in the aged-41 aspect, she-mom-herself-in-labor had to coach “Dad” through the entire birthing process; no small task when massive pain is dominating every two minutes or so and they are using medical facilities that does not accommodate childbirth (as earthlings would know it).

So, as they had done with all the other strange devices and workings of the NEWFOUNDLANDER, they modify, improvise, and utilize. Considering that Sammy will spend much of her first six months in artificially enhanced gravity, she will surely be hailed as a miracle on Earth; Baby Announcements are in the mail.

Their hope of rescue hinges on a leap-of-faith; the faith that NASA knows that the reluctant Mars colonists have finite survival resources and that their “ride home” should be arriving any day now.

For the crew and launchers of the New Mayflower, they have been assuming that Sampson & Celeste had indeed survived the loss of the orbiting station and are waiting anxiously for its appearance.

These nagging, creeping doubts, that growing suspicion that the NASA did not or could not pull the rescue trigger, has hastened Sampson’s attempts to master the propulsion mystery of the idled NEWFOUNDLANDER. It is a singular quest, considering that if they must, they could live out their natural lives, perhaps exceeding the current 100 year life span. After all, carbon analysis of their lone Newfoundlian cabin/cohabitant indicates he died at the ripe old age of 700 and perhaps older than that. And this was achieved with a body that is eventually victimized by an undetermined alien fate. So immortality may or may not be part of their alien equation.


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Episode 160


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