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 147

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The NULL Solution = Episode 147

…Once upon a time, he moved Heaven and Earth to warn a then pre-President Roy Crippen that his Talibanistani and the United Korean Peninsula governments were up to no good…

“Lorgan is back,” Fletcher Fitch has found a reason to live after the death of his wife, above the love of his daughters and beyond the purview of just about anybody else on planet Earth. He has been assigned the task of tracking activity around Mars. Just as when he designed the Sang-Ashi Probe for supposedly peaceful purposes, he keeps a vigilant watch.

Once upon a time, he moved Heaven and Earth to warn a pre-President Roy Crippen that his Talibanistani and the United Korean Peninsula governments were up to no good. He watched in horror as Space Colony 1 was erased from its high Martian orbit. He has been an essential part of all things Mars ever since.

“It showed up about an hour ago, smack dab over Harmonia,” he relates the latest news from Milky Way’s hotspot-with-a-bullet.

The building {not the innocuous “structure” as they would like you to believe} is not getting shorter, nor does it stand vacant of improvements. To anyone who will listen, he declares, “There is a portal forming, approx. ¼ of a mile in diameter directly onto the top of the spire.”

In the absence of hydroelectric or coal-fired plants or nuclear reactors, energy is flowing into the imposing, yet fascinating edifice. A lighthouse-like topper appears. What is the purpose?

“Ten thousand megawatts/hr.!” Fitch is measuring crazy-mad numbers.

“That is enough to run NYC for a year,” Crippen marvels, “for what, Fitch… a planet, without a single soul on it?”

“It appears Lorgan is expecting guests.”

“… With a stupid riddle to keep everybody out?  We just had two astronauts there. At least have the courtesy to have Gus McKinney pull the switch!” Roy has resorted to a simplistic approach.

The NULL Solution =

Simplicity by kuzy62 –

Episode 147

page 145

The NULL Solution = Episode 139

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The NULL Solution = Episode 139

…we’ve anonymously blamed on so many sources that it will take a month of Sundays for anybody to sort out the truth…

“I propose compiling a list of your family members, match that to a list of the all the places you’ve been and see where that gets us.”

Deimostra McKinney has been given the job of genealogical historian, in addition to her duties as Eridanus’ lone debutante and the title of 1st Earth child born in space.

“I can do that Mr. Skaldic.” Her respectful nature comes naturally.

McKinneys                  Places

Sampson                      Earth

Celeste                          Mars

Deke                             NEWFOUNDLANDER

Gus                               Epsilon Eridani

Deimostra (Me)





Perception belongs to the eye of the beholder. Seeing the proper nouns scribbled in two columns inspires a new line of thinking for an outsider like Skaldic. If his hunch is correct, perhaps a mix ‘n match combination of the list will somehow equal Harmonia’s fuzzy math.

“I’ve been running some numbers,” explains Rick Stanley. “If we came to full-stop, that beast would overtake us in about 20 days, 20.6 million miles and closing.”

“Boy, it hardly looks like it is moving. I was just wondering.”

I doubt that it cares about us.”

Roy comments on their progress, “Thanks for that Rick. I was wondering if spotting the drone would affect their progress.”

“Did you notice that we have given the tow-drone a name? How does the Martian Mule sound?”

“Swell Rick. You can paint that on the hull when you get back to Earth.”

There appears to be no easy way out, of this appointed get-together, that is. Collapsar rumbles on @ 41,666.666 miles per hour. It will pass by Mars soon enough.

“Amateur astronomers are sharing screenshots of you-know-what on every social network out there. We’re spreading the rumor that it’s a hoax – being perpetrated by, well we’ve anonymously blamed on so many sources that it will take a month of Sundays for anybody to sort out the truth.”

Do Presidents, ex or otherwise, lie to the American people?

NASA is doing its best 23-skidoo, which used to refer to a gusty New York wind. Now it is a tap dance around an unwelcome subject.

This deception will do nothing to dissuade government conspiracy theorists from proliferating. Nobody pays much attention to history, so maybe historians will go easy on the facts and other fibs surrounding this confounding moment in Earth’s near future.

The NULL Solution =

Episode 139

page 137 (end Ch. 12)

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 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 122

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The NULL Solution = Episode 122

…”Alley Oop – Betty Boop – puppy poop, it’s all the same to me,” Stanley & Gus have agreed to sneak inside the Harmonia


A new plan of attack was hatched…

Not only is Solution hermetically sealed from the vacuum of space, it makes a dandy submarine, except it will use its wheels for propulsion. The thrusters would kick up too much red mud.

“I guess we don’t have anything to lose? I can use some excitement. This botany duty is for the birds!”

“Now there are birds?” That would be show stopping news, would it not? They will need to settle for a pristine source of water flowing into Harmonia. “Have you noticed that the creek goes in, but it doesn’t come out?”

“By golly, you are correct Stanley. Not only do you have 2 first names, you don’t miss a trick! That gives us an even a better reason to swim on in.”

“Here’s another riddle for ya, ‘What goes in, but doesn’t come out?’”

“Good question. I believe I want to find the answer to that.”

Gus guides Solution into moving water, several hundred yards upstream for good measure. As they approach what is expected to be a thwarting thud, they slow the manned rover to a crawl. No need inflicting another blemish, like the boo-boo on the bumper when they unsuccessfully drove in the first time. The one constant about invisibility, is that it’ is hard to see.

“Well here we go. What the hell!” he screams while holding his breath. “Are we in? We’re in… we’re in Roy!”

Galveston Launch is awash in high-fives. It turns out that hunches still have their place.

“Rather than swim with the fishes, I’m choosing popping out before we can’t get out.”

“Trout or Topeka Shiner?”

“Me and Ricko are the only fish in these waters. Here we go… alley-oop!”

“Did you know that Alley Oop was a comic strip in the 20th Century; a time-traveling caveman.”

“That describes our Gus for sure!” Rick lets slip.

“Oh yeah! Crip is old enough to remember when newspapers were made of paper.”

“I was merely providing historical context to your live-action metaphor.”

Alley Oop – Betty Boop – puppy poop, it’s all the same to me. I’m taking us to the front door.”

Water has barely stopped dripping from Solution, when they pull up to what is referred to as Harmonia. An ant at the foot of NYC’s Freedom Tower would be ratio-based comparison. Neither man has ever not been able to see the top of any object – that is until now. It is a daunting edifice, no matter whatever its purpose is.

The NULL Solution =

Photo by @cpplunkett

Episode 122

page 121

The NULL Solution = Episode 118

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The NULL Solution = Episode 118

…We have sunk too much into this operation to merely turn back with our tail between our legs…

“What did we hit?”

“Nothing that I can see.”

They traveled past and through mountains, valleys, sea and plain, no problem. Now with a clear path to their objective, it is no dice.

With no other choice, Gus makes a 360° loop around the massive structure, determined to find a way in. Fuzzy math still stands in their way. Unfortunately, there was no way of knowing this outcome in advance.

Whether by land or by space, it’s solve the damned riddle or else.

“Instead of driving all the way back to the landing sight, let’s call the drone over to this side and drop it down closer to the surface. We need to think a bit, talk to Crip, and plan our next move.” What else is there to do? “I’m getting hungry and all the good food is on the drone.”

Reconstituted ham will have to do for dinner. The King Ranch Easter egg hunt 2055 will go on without Marscie’s daddy. That he misses this April 18th Sunday was planned. What Roy Crippen has in mind may jeopardize Thanksgiving.

“We cannot afford to scrub another mission to Mars, Gus. You’re not flying a SEx sortie all by yourself at SOL+++. We have sunk too much into this operation to merely turn back with our tail between our legs. We need water samples, surface and ground, a complete atmospheric profile and one of every plant species you and Rick can lay your hands on.” This is not what this McKinney was built for. “Put your education to work, son. This is the meat & potatoes of space exploration.”

“I prefer champagne and caviar.”

“You can’t afford it… you forfeited your mission hazard pay, remember?”

“So it’s vacuum beakers and freeze-dried horticulture?”

“Yes…, but you can also scan the hell out of that building! It has to have some other purpose that we’re not aware of.”

“I’ll send Rick over to Harmonia with his résumé. Maybe he can get a part-time job in the Trust Dept., Retirement Division.”

“Not without solving that damned riddle first.”

The riddle; it all comes down to bad math and its unsubstantiated quizmaster.

A year that once held promise for positive change: for the Null of Eridanus, for the pilgrims aboard Collapsar Axis or for amateur cryptographers everywhere, time has slowed to pace of a snail.

The NULL Solution =

Episode 118

page 117 (end ch. 10)