The NULL Solution = Episode 155

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The NULL Solution = Episode 155

…All the unending speculation about may be coming to an end…

Skaldic and Sam are impatiently waiting, when Chasonn and Deimostra finally do get back.

“Let’s get this show on the road Chase! We have a planet to save or a code to crack… doesn’t matter in which order we do it.” Sampson McKinney has been waiting for an escapade like this for many a cycle. “Forget that old hookah stuff, Skaldy, I have some grog for you to try. This is going to be fun!”

Celeste, Deke, Cerella, Deke, Joyner, Ekcello, Fortan {and Deimostra} are there to give them a proper Eridanus sendoff. Sammy Mac may be treating it lightly, but this mission is a big deal. Anytime you place the guy anywhere near the Terran system, apprehension cannot be far behind. Even in the company of {over}qualified chaperones, on a ship he is not piloting, the proximity of Earth is low-hanging fruit. ‘Just drop me off at that continent to the starboard,’ would be such a tempting request. ‘Secretly, Gus was always his favorite’, would be the reason most often guessed.

With a Seljukian at the helm and an Earthling as a backseat driver, it is the ex-Null-cryptographer who is the star. All his computations have passed muster, as McKinney-centric as they are. The how & why, is McKinney related. The what, where & who have been assigned to Lorgan; the probable author and gatekeeper.

Irrespective of NASA and Earth’s vested interest, this is going to be an Eridanian show, a story that Skaldic can tell his children about – if he ever has them.

All the unending speculation may be coming to an end.

It turns out that journey over to Mars is worth the price of admission. The weight of intergalactic peace hangs in the balance of what amounts to 3 good old boys on a quest for adventure. Chasonn certainly, Sampson yea and Skaldic absolutely have something to prove to themselves; or perhaps someone else.

The NULL Solution =

Episode 155

page 152

The NULL Solution = Episode 148

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The NULL Solution = Episode 148

…When it comes down to it, Deimostra is not spoiled for choice…

Illustration by Byron Eggenschwiler

Speaking of simplistic, that is the very essence of Skaldic the Null. With all the changes coming about on Eridanus, among, about and in between the populated towers with all their social shuffling, the man behind it all matriculates still, in the original Null Tower, albeit in the lofty penthouse.

He also remains a true friend to the other outcasts, namely the Space Family McKinney. While Gifted Cerella works on the nuts & bolts, he remains properly concerned for the earthly visitors and the dark cloud that approaches their true home.

Skaldic has grown particularly close to Deimostra McKinney. It began with him noticing her rapid maturation into an incredible woman and has accelerated at light speed once he solicited her help in solving the Harmonia Query.

With age being a relative term on Eridanus that she became a viable target for his potential affection is not so farfetched. Here is the way aging works on a planet where immortality is a near reality:

  • An individual comes into biological existence
  • 95% of physical growth takes place in 20 Cycles
  • The final 5%+ takes place in the mind
  • The finished product continues with only marginal aging

In the case of Deimostra, she has grown to the equivalent of an adult in her prime, in her own time. She will remain just so, just as it is with the rest of her family. There is something about the excessive humidity that preserves the organic. It slows the metabolism for all. Deimostra is definitely organic and Skaldic has noticed.

Turn around. A chronologically, but not all that emotionally advanced Eridanian is “falling” into that something-something which defies all sense of time/space. When it comes down to it, the Earth woman is not spoiled for choice. Certain erudite mature men have let their curiosity slip out from time to time, but nothing that particularly tickles a girl’s fancy.

As a tag-team problem solving tandem, the divergent pair simply works at every level. They are equals in intelligence and social stature. They have spent one cycle after another attempting to unlock the door to a planet, that neither Skaldic has been to or even care about. He has long viewed Collapsar Axis as the greater issue in theory, but now he cannot minimize the riddle.

The human heart is not nearly as complex. The female protagonist in this tale is impressed with the Null beyond the bounds of logic. She had always doubted the devotion of his friend Offingga even when she {herself} did not factor into the immediate equation. Unable to explain her envy, Deimostra did ignore her… and him for that matter. He was a chum of daddy’s after all. That was then. This is now.

The NULL Solution =

Episode 148

page 146

The NULL Solution = Episode 142

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The NULL Solution = Episode 142

…The very notion of change has the entirety of this previously serene planet, well, verklempt…

Eupepsia at Night

The Tower Eupepsia used to be revered, to the point of near cult status. Ekcello and Fortan and Cerella reside there, as does most of Eridanus’ eldest heritage; the very essence of a proud and refined planet. For endless cycles they have been a model society, one that should be copied wherever else. Eupepsia was deified, as were its occupants.

That did not change, even with the addition of the McKinney clan, with 20 of their Terran years having passed.

The tally of fledgling Joyner has amended that cherished concept. Many of the tradition-strapped-minority, views the youngster as the means to water-down a society that did not need diluting.

If there were actual streets, instead of skyways and byways, those same John Q Eridanians would cross to the opposite side. ‘At least the Nulls look the same,’ is the comparison, that is, once they were allowed to wear the flowing white robes that obscure the illusion of those onerous feet.

Not only does Joyner don footwear, he actually runs… like he is in a hurry; just like those frenetic humans whose feet surely must be on fire.

And Deke McKinney is powerless to alter such perceptions. The very notion of change has the entirety of this previously serene planet, well, verklempt. Most of his time is consumed with concern, not with his family’s status, rather that the citizenry have become obsessed about who is who and what is what.

There is a peculiar inbred in their midst. The youngling can sense the censorship.

“I am treated like a stranger,” Joyner complains to Deke.

“Well you are in a sense, son. You haven’t been here for long and you weren’t born here. That makes you more like a McKinney and less like them. To them, you are different and that makes them wary… it’s not that they don’t like you as a person.”

“They like Deimostra better and she is human!”

“They have watched your Aunt grow up around them. What they know is easier to accept than what they do not. Just be yourself. Do that and I wager that you will be the most popular kid in Eupepsia?”

Deimostra arrives late to the father-son exchange.

“Hey Joyner, do you want to go over to Skaldic’s tower? He has started a puzzle contest; you are good with puzzles… I bet we can win!”

“What is the prize?”

“A ride on one of the spaceships.”

“It is I who will win, Deimostra, but you can help.” A little acceptance goes a long way to bolster his spirits. And chumming with a popular relative does not hurt.

“Go ahead kids and behave yourselves!” grants the senior adult. “Make sure you’re back for the evening meal.”

The NULL Solution =

Episode 142

page 140

The NULL Solution = Episode 136

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The NULL Solution = Episode 136

…My money is on my pal Skaldy; none of that lofty nonsense is going on inside his brain, just good old-fashioned deduced reckoning…

Deduced Reckoning

Zoot Suit © 1978, Ignacio Gomez I Smithsonian American Art Museum

Sampson skepticism is festering – his frustration is the norm. “How is it that you can get inside the mind of that Zoot Suit guy, but when it comes to Lorgan, you don’t have a clue?”

“Make that Župzïð, Dad and take it easy on the Eridanians. It’s a big bad universe out there and no one can have all the answers.”

“Whatever. Speaking of answers, my money is on my pal Skaldy. None of that lofty nonsense is going on inside his brain, just good old-fashioned deduced reckoning. He seems to think that confounded riddle has to do with us McKinneys.”

“You think everything revolves around the McKinneys when it does not. We are just a speck in the universe’s eye. And what makes either of you think that the riddle and the sphere are linked?” Deke reasons.

“I give up. How else do you explain something that makes no sense? We’re thinking that everything adds up to Lorgan, right Skaldy?”

Not Ten cycles ago, who would have guessed that a Null would be included in Eridanian policy discussions? It does not hurt his stature that Skaldic has become the adopted blood brother of Sampson J. McKinney.

“I have compiled a plot of ⃝   ’s chaos signature. It has spent more time in the Terran system than anywhere else combined. It makes sense that it is responsible for the rebirth of an entire planet, therefore perfectly capable of construction a response-based entrance barrier.”

If you had been volleyballed back 10 light years like a ping-pong ball, why wouldn’t you make that connection?

“Make sense of the senseless and the Null shall be praised for their contribution to our galaxy.”

Ekcello has not mastered the art of subtle superiority. If Skaldic were not so used to the highhandedness, he would have been offended.

“We will do that!” exclaims the spokesman for the underestimated few.

They have +/- 56 Earth days remaining.

The NULL Solution =

Episode 136

page 134

The NULL Solution = Episode 109

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The NULL Solution = Episode 109

…A modicum of equality will have to do for now…


Snail’s Pace

Promises are meant to be kept.

Some are deferred.

Skaldic the Null willingly added his Null-ness to the Gifted, with the promise of parity for his people. Ekcello had done his level best to bridge the gap between the Gifted and the Null. However he has not the final word in the matter.

For cycles immemorial, never the tween did meet. The Null had their tower and that was that. Their needs were met more than adequately. And life was good – just happens to be better for the Gifted majority. As in most societies, the majority rules and the majority of Eridanian Gifted believe elevating Skaldic to Gifted status is quite enough. An extra portion of special grog is appropriated for everyone else. Certainly that will do.

Skaldic does not partake in grog, just as he has resisted the temptation of hookah. His judgement is sound and his commitment to his people is as clear as his new robes are white. You can lavish the emperor with new clothes, but you cannot water down what is underneath.

As a small concession, the Null are allowed to roam the planet at certain times in a cycle, not that there is anything fantastic to do outside their tower, but they are allowed to mingle and observe the Gifted way; an unwritten code of conduct unenforced at Null Tower. Little things, like bowing out of common courtesy, not worship and not speaking in the Olde Language, especially not out of tune, are expected behaviors.

In exchange, the Gifted have been instructed to respect the Null and aid them in the indoctrination. Most family units actually have ancestors among the Null population. The difference between the two cultures is esoteric.

A modicum of equality will have to do for now. The Towers were not built in a day.

Just as some riddles are meant to be solved. Some are not.


The NULL Solution =

Episode 109

page 108

The NULL Solution = Episode 107

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The NULL Solution = Episode 107

…Either we bring down the veil of the Gifted or the Null are lifted to Gifted status…

A segment of Eridanian society had seized the opportunity to lift & separate from the rest of the population; to be Gifted, with all the privileges that they built into it.

The Null had been intentionally stunted, the details of which may never be admitted.

“Holy donkey dung!” back to Sam’s brass tacks. “”I bet you need the “Null inside you” to make TSF work, am I correct?”

“The Null possess the spirit of ingenuity. In order to repress the urge for exploration, the Gifted have lost their way. “

“But you guys can do that transmigration thing.”

“Hyperphysical transmigration is all in the mind. It is not rooted in the tangible physics required to be anything other than an apparition.”

“But you went to Earth and fixed the Stellar Explorer. That molecular stabilizer took hands-on doing…”

“That work was done outside the timestem. We cannot exist in real-time while utilizing our minds.” The nuts & bolts of space-time are complicated. “There are two possible solutions to TSF problem. It is apparent that I cannot be the final judge of which will come to pass. Either we bring down the veil of the Gifted or the Null are lifted to Gifted status.”

“I have a perfect solution, a lucky silver coin that my granddad gave me, an 1873 Liberty dollar,” he produces it from the pocket where it is always kept. “I can flip it; Heads the Null win. Tails you lose.”

“Intriguing concept, but this is an Eridanus issue. It will be settled between respective leaders. What say you Skaldic?”

Skaldic is a practical individual. Deep down, he has regretted spurning his Giftedness, not for any good reason other than a longing for fairness. Now that he has been around Gifted-land and is witness to its failings, he is not sure who is truly better off. Just as, in the case of his stance on Null access to hookah, he must make the proper decision for the people he represents. They trust him.

Likened to the transcendent state that is derived from the hookah, he comes to the best conclusion.

“I will join the ranks of the Gifted on one condition; that the status of the Null will not be set aside, as it has been conveniently ignored for too long.”

“It seems we lack the life-force that only you can provide. Should you agree, the NULL will become part of us. The path of Eridanus will be made whole once again.”

“Geez, Skaldy, bite the bullet and join the party. If you can breathe life into Defender then do it!”

“Time is a wasting, right Sammy Mac?” Skaldic picks up on the spirit of this moment.

“Now we’re cooking with gas Ekcello!” Sam’s idioms have that old-fashioned feel to them. For those not of Earth, well…..

The compromising Eridanian eldest of all elders will never fully understand Sampson-speak/lingo; yet another skill only Skaldic has mastered. —

The NULL Solution =

Episode 107

page 107

The NULL Solution = Episode 106

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The NULL Solution = Episode 106

…Have you been holding back Ekcello; is there something you’re not telling us…

“All the mechanicals, the circuits, the guts are intact,” the Epsilon Eridani chapter of The Space Family McKinney has combed through Defender’s TSF issue, leaving no stone unturned. Deke, Sam and Celeste have attacked the retrieved schematics with the greatest urgency.

Skaldic has his own theories about the whole situation, including the riddle, but he has been conditioned to keep things to himself.

Not a single soul looks forward to a “real time” rescue mission.

Try as they might, all the kings horses and all the kings men couldn’t put TSF together again.

Frustration and impatience is bleeding into the faithful. “Are you sure this is all of it? There has to be something missing Ekcello.” One simulation after another has failed to attain that time-space-compression magic.

The shine is wearing off the Eridanian mystique. Ekcello himself has been reduced to regretting the decision to mothball the tangible wings of a long-gone generation. Panic is setting into a previously panic-free zone.

The Keeper may have been paying closer attention. “Did not XAT tell us there is an unquantified essence to TSF?”

Have you been holding back Ekcello? Is there something you’re not telling us? My God, you may never see Cerella back here on Eridanus, is that what you want?” Sampson McKinney will present you with the brass tacks.

In order to completely reinstate TSF, Ekcello must hearken back to the time when there was no difference between the Gifted and the Null.

And so it is retold by the most Gifted of all: The complete and sordid story of how one class of citizen represses another. In the days when spaceflight was abandoned, a segment of Eridanian society seized the opportunity to lift & separate from the rest; to be Gifted, with all the privileges that they built into it.

The Null had been intentionally stunted, the details of which may never have been admitted.

The NULL Solution =

Episode 106

page 107