The NULL Solution = Episode 182

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The NULL Solution = Episode 182

…Deke McKinney can sympathize with Prince Hamlet, having his own Ophelia, the love of his life…

Ophelia by Arthur Hughes

In the end, Ekcello & Fortan decide to put the issue up for a vote… what? Yes, a vote is going to decide whether the Eridanian princess and her half-human son will be permitted to leave. This will be the first referendum to be ever voted on by the entire planet, and the Nulls are included! This is first and sole tally, for a consensus to be reached on the McKinney/Cerella issue.

From autocracy to democracy; no small step.

Well not everyone is happy with the process.

Deke McKinney is uncomfortable with the consequences, as it applies to him. Does he leave his new nuclear family behind for the green hills of Earth or does he stay, leaving him as the lone human, that is the question; ‘Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and, by opposing, end them.’ He can sympathize with Prince Hamlet. He has his own Ophelia, the love of his life, who just happens to be out-of-this-world.

As the day of reckoning draws nigh, at a Space Family meeting, he bemoans the cruel anticipation, “I was snatched away from Stellar Explorer and now I may have to choose between my families. Talk about unfair!”

“The Eridanians have seen how human Joyner is, with all his McKinney-ness.” Celeste is the calming voice. “They will not vote to force them to stay.”

Them… like I don’t matter.”

You are not central to the issue. Do you realize that when we leave Eridanus, we, all of us, will start aging at our normal rate?”

“Not until we drop out of SOL,” Sampson amends.

“That’s right Sam. Cerella, like the rest of us, will be giving up the virtual immortality we have enjoyed on this planet. That is a huge sacrifice.”


The NULL Solution =

Episode 182


page 177

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.

Lorgan?”

Lorgan.”

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.”

“Huh?????”

“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 98

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The NULL Solution = Episode 98

…“Harmonia sounds like it could be a utopia, as in Valhalla or Camelot. Are you suggesting that literature is the key?” The Classics was not Roy Crippen’s favorite class in school…

HORIZONS MURAL by Robert McCall

Gus McKinney cannot keep quiet.

He, his two closest friends and a supercomputer named Watson III have been pouring over the Martian riddle, the mathematical conundrum wrapped in a quiz, for months and months on end.

“I am sick and tired of racking my brain over this thing. Theodor Geisel must be behind this!”

“The Chinese think we are the culprits and you are guessing Dr. Seuss’ ghost? How about you Fitch, what’s your theory?” Roy posits.

“I believe it is simpler than just bad math, but that’s as far I’ve gotten. The overriding issue is who is behind it and why. Does the word/term “harmonia” ring a bell to either of you?”

“Why do you ask Fitch?”

“I have programmed Watson III to solve the riddle every single day at Midnight.”

“It hasn’t solved it though, so what’s your point?”

“Well, seven times in 7 different languages, the term “harmonia” has been Watson’s final conclusion.”

“There is ammonia present in Mars’ refreshed atmosphere; we’ve known that for years.”

“Not a-m-m-o–n-i-a, Gus. Yes, you can’t have life without it, but Watson’s English spelling is h-a-r-m-o-n-i-a. I needed a universal translator for most of his other answers.”

“Harmonia sounds like it could be a utopia, as in Valhalla or Camelot. Are you suggesting that literature is the key?” The Classics was not Roy’s favorite in school. He got a weak C in the class.

“Utopia is more of a concept than a place, Dad. Maybe that is the key that lets us down to the surface. How about I give it a whirl?”

“A whirl to you means another ride in SEx. You know that certain people are attempting to monitor when and where you go off to in that thing? You cannot treat it like it’s the family car.”

“We just went over it with a fine tooth comb last week, right Fitch?”

“The SOL drive is as amazing as ever Gus!”

Roy is aware that they absolutely lucked out with the speed-of-light upgrade, thanks to Celeste M. and her covert friends. “A night flight couldn’t do any harm I suppose. It has been a while since we knocked on Mars’ door. Make sure you get some sleep before then.”


The NULL Solution =

Episode 98


page 99

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

The NULL Solution = Episode 85

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The NULL Solution = Episode 85

CHAPTER EIGHT

Fuzzy Math

Fuzzy Math by Sadie Benning

Pilot Gus McKinney will be on his own out in space, though in no uncertain terms is he to engage anyone/thing. “Go in, collect as much data as you can and get out – got it? Do not – no I forbid you to enter Mars atmosphere under any circumstances. Until we know exactly what is going down out there, we do not take chances.”

NASA photo

— And so it is, with mission guidelines clearly understood, that Gus takes Stellar Explorer out for some old fashioned seat-of-the-pants fact-finding. Just like when man landed on the Moon the first time. The very reason astronaut Armstrong had to jump off the ladder of the lander is because NASA expected the moon dust to be 18” thick not 3. In the same way as good as he is at flying at the speed-of-light, the new/old Mars may hold some surprises.

“No surprises yet Crip,” Gus closes in on the Red Planet quicker than a starving man filing a plate at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

“We show Lorgan on the dark side,” Fletcher Fitch reports, “oh wait…”

“… I see him,” he will be cautious this time, “and now I don’t. For a second there, I thought I saw a reflection of the United Nations… flags everywhere!”

“That old cow has been put to pasture years ago, Gussy.” Rancher/Prez Roy uses a Texas-sized analogy for the ineffective alliance {UN} of nations which the United States booted off its soil in 2025 unceremoniously, once political correctness was properly harnessed.

“Yeah, whatever, I saw what I saw and now I don’t. Nothing surprises me about that thing anymore.”

“Keep an eye on the alert screen just in case. SEx’s sensors ignore mirages.”

He is jolted by to a complete stop not long after the following message appears on the alert monitor:

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


The NULL Solution =

Episode 85


page 85

The NULL Solution = Episode 84

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The NULL Solution = Episode 84

…It is not long before Jean-Luc’s lone{star} Texas patient comes to him with concerns concerning her possible return to Eridanus…

Lorgan… what?

“Exactly. What will it do when it sees Gus coming? He happened to scare that shiny vagabond a while back, while it was hiding behind the sun.”

“You Americans really get around these days!” It is hard to impress the Swiss physician, but he is. “And you spell your spacecraft “S-E-X”? What marvelously fun?”

“Like SCIFI isn’t a funny name for a bunch of doctors? Actually it’s spelled capital S-capital E– lower case x,, but pronounced es-ex phonetically and is short for Stellar Explorer.”

“How clever you Americans!” Gus McKinney is mocking a man who is too smart to be mocked.

“Én realité, I think it quite sophomoric, messieurs.”

“Touché Doc. But it’s only between us NASA-types. If the public caught us making fun of SOL, we would lose public support,” Roy states pragmatically.

“But it is in bold letters on the side of the ship!” Details – details. “It seems the public knows very little of what you are doing?”

“Say Gus,” Roy changes the subject, “why don’t you and Fitch prepare our “sexy” machine ready for a quick trip.”

It is back to referencing their escapades on a need-to-know basis.

It is not long before Jean-Luc’s lone{star} Texas patient comes to him with concerns concerning her possible return to Eridanus. Even though she is being treated like a princess and “prince” Joyner is taking to Texas like it is the only home he knows, Cerella is homesick.

The fact that Celeste has informed the folks back home, specifically Deke, about Cerella’s relative safety {and bundle of joy}, she would rather catch the next stagecoach to Eridanus… this despite everyone suspecting the contrary.

“Not from this end you aren’t. Unless your people can figure things out back there, you are stuck here, purement et simplement.” The French adverb is fancy window-dressing.

He could not possibly know of all the potential scenarios and his motives may be slightly selfish. But for the time being, she is the intellectual property of the Suisse Conjoined Institute of Fetal Integrity or as the Americans like to refer to it as SCIFI.

Stardate 2053.999 is ending very much like it started.


The NULL Solution =

Episode 84


page 84 (end ch. 7)

The NULL Solution = Episode 83

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The NULL Solution = Episode 83

…that was 20 years ago, was it not? I am surprised you have your sanity…

From David Sipress NYTimes

“My friends call me Locutus,” Picard surprises everyone with his quick retort.

It is hard to catch an astronaut off balance.

“He’s messing with you Gussy. Good one Picard, I like your style!” And Roy means it. “Speaking of stranger than fiction, are Deke’s princess and her “child” in any danger by remaining on Earth?”

“No. It appears that water, oxygen and such are mutual environmental requirements, though I think Cerella is used to substantially more oxygen. That’s why it is fortuitous that you happen to have a hyperbaric chamber out here in the middle of nowhere.”

Image result for time to change the subject

“I bet we could hop over to Mars, right damn now, and set up shop Crip!”

“You are just itching to out there and check it out, I can tell.”

“Well we are flying blind if we don’t. We need answers. We should provide answers before some amateur astronomer with a powerful enough telescope spots what’s Image result for keeping balls in the air gifgoing on and starts some video that goes viral.”

“We are keeping far too many balls in the air, son; some distant civilization is coming to get us – no one has noticed that Deke isn’t on the damned planet – And that’s just for starters.”

“Is that Joyner’s father?” Inquiring minds need to know.

“Yep Doc. And until Cerella plopped into your lap, we weren’t sure what happened to him… we didn’t even know where the hell Sampson and Celeste McKinney went.”

“The parents, ah yes, I remember now, but that was 20 years ago, was it not? I am surprised you have your sanity.”

“I may not after all, if I agree to let Gus take SEx out to Mars. For as many questions that you have helped us answer, there are as many or more we haven’t a clue about… like what’s behind the Martian reboot or that enigma wrapped in a riddle & shrouded in mystery that we have named Lorgan.”

“Lorgan… what and Essex, huh?”


The NULL Solution =

Episode 83


page83

The NULL Solution = Episode 65

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The NULL Solution = Episode 65

We may be in bigger trouble than we think!

–So with the best of intentions, Gus does what McKinneys do; they do space rather well. The now amazingly “effective” Stellar Explorer {SEx} is off-world and headed on a course that will rendezvous it with NEO 2038DP in a Venusian minute. It is hard to believe that just a year or so ago, that minute would have taken days.

But wouldn’t you know, today is much like the days that precede it, which means expect the unexpected. A funny thing happens on the NEO-way. About the time Gus squeezes off a rock-lambasting disruptor beam, what shows itself but a cruiser from Sexta A. The asteroid crumbles into harmless debris.

And it’s just what the Ÿ€Ð pilot was looking for: aggression by one of the three likely suspects in “The Planet Nine Affair”. Those Earthlings aren’t as harmless as once thought. Once stunned – twice wary is the new approach. If they can destroy an entire fleet, what chance can one cruiser have? The Ÿ€Ð ship makes a dash for home.

“Did you see that SOL contrail Roy?” Gus catches a glimpse.Related image

“You certainly cannot possibly believe in UFOs, can you now Commander McKinney?”

“Seriously?”

“We can’t be blaming the Koreans, Russians, Chinese or Talibanistan anymore, can we?”

“We could, but we’d be wrong. That looks exactly like the one I scared away a while back.”

Lorgan is Lorgan, but what if that thing was just an ordinary everyday interstellar bogie.”

We may be in bigger trouble than we think!

“&%#$+><. What do you mean you ran from your duties? You were instructedRelated image to take retribution against the civilization responsible for destroying our fleet! I could leave you off Collapsar Axis for that breach of duties!”

“But they were only blasting apart a space rock, Great Župzïð. What threat can they be to us?” Yet the pilot still ran scared.

“I, Župzïð the Last, will determine who is a threat to our proud civilization! As soon as we have vacated the Ÿ€Ð home world, we will set our path to the Milky Way galaxy, perhaps solving two problems in one journey!”

That is a policy decision to end all policy decisions. If they do not find a way to increase the speed of Collapsar, it will be a generational undertaking.


The NULL Solution =

Episode 65


page 68

The NULL Solution = Episode 64

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The NULL Solution = Episode 64

…Great, I’m going to save a bunch of goat minders…

Photo from Paula Watts

Not three. Not two. One of the original Ÿ€Ð cruisers is left cruising into Terran System territory.

To be exactly correct, zero may soon leave Collapsar Axis as the only Ÿ€Ð creation in the Great Expanse.

Gus is out for an authorized joy ride in his SEx machine. Without the drag of a formal “launch”, he is flaunting that freedom with the usual McKinney flair. The 1st time daddy is learning about all the new built-in bells ‘n whistles, with a get-a-long in his giddy-up.

Ostensibly Roy has dispatched him to NEO 2038DP to test out a fully charged disruptor blast. That 13 meter, oblong, tumbling big-bang-debris is back again and this orbit promises to charge headlong into the Himalayas next week. The UASI {United Association of Sherpas International} is sponsoring this near-Earth object deflection/destruction in conjunction with Dalai Lama 16.

“Now remember Gussy, you want to aim for the thinnest equator of that beggar.” Fletcher Fitch has narrowed the destructive beam of the weapon. The anonymous gift from somebody, arrived with a not-so-narrow ray, meant for a larger purpose. “For the time being, we want to put this thing to good use.”

Great, I’m going to save a bunch of goat minders.”

“Today’s goats are tomorrow’s llamas.”

“I almost forgot Fitch, those used to be your people!” an ancestry dig.

“Talibanistan is a China away from Nepal, did you fail geography?”

“The only geography I am focused on is a 43 foot hunk of space-rock.”

Mount St. Helens before

“That rock is traveling at 45K kilometers/sec. If it hits on a steep enough angle, it could be a mini Mount St. Helens.”

“Now you are testing my history aptitude? Displaced a billion tons of the mountain’s north face… in Washington State… in 1980… Ronald Reagan was president… and disco was king.”

“Enough already McKinney! Just do the task assigned and accept the gratitude of 126 Everest mountain climbers!”


The NULL Solution =

Mount St. Helens after

Episode 64


page 67

The NULL Solution = Episode 61

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The NULL Solution = Episode 61

…22 years later Sampson feels that same ~~~ immediate rage!…

Rage by Sarah Goodyear

A pall has been cast and no one on Earth can explain what it is exactly.

“I cannot help but feel bad about whomever, whatever, wherever those ships came from,” is Gus’ pilot lament.

“Even though they may have been on their way here to say, wipe us out?” Prez Roy always considers the worst case scenario.

Fletcher Fitch pipes in, “I am only 3 weeks from acquiring enough juice to power the planetary force field!”

“That is comforting to know, but it would have been too late old friend.” Pragmatism is required to spearhead planetary policy. “And no Gus, SEx would not have helped either.” He isn’t through, “Please tell me that Lorgan…” he asks FF.

“… Yes, it was there.”

“Of course!”

Roy Crippen and his merry spacemen are only aware of a 1/4 fraction of the entire scope. How would full knowledge of Lorgan’s clout affect their posture?

“Just be thankful you can go home to Mindy at the end of the day.”

Deke McKinney’s gut reaction to the apparent loss of his mate, is to start sprinting for Explorer, as if it were a horse and he was a one-man posse determined to chase down a bank robbing gang.

Daddy Sam musters enough footspeed to run down his son. He sees so much of himself in the fleeing new father. Just what wouldn’t he do if he were in the identical shoes? What was his own reaction after witnessing the destruction of Space Colony 1? He wanted to jump back into Tycho, the clunky Martian lander and chase whatever was responsible for marooning them. 22 years later he feels that same~~~~

{Mars 2030In the moments following that breathtaking {not in a good way} flash of light high above the Martian atmosphere, several seconds elapsed before the ominous explosion could be felt. It was as thunderous as any blastoff of an old Atlas rocket.

If the cornea-singeing light and the eardrum-piercing sound were not enough, the shock wave that swept down to the surface got Tycho to rockin’ as if it were a 150 yr. old oak tree in a tornado. Sampson had all he could handle in stabilizing the lander during the 20 second maelstrom.

Even after these unpredictable twist and turns, light and darks, the real scope of their predicament does not sink in until after the dust settles. It is Celeste who verbalizes the obvious, “My dear God Sam, we are castaways!”

She prevents her husband from throttling up for a wasted chase.}

~~~~immediate rage!


The NULL Solution =

Episode 61


page 64