THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 155

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 155

… you have the ingredients for the second biggest international incident, “a quarter of a million miles this side of the moon”…

Pink Floyd

— As things wind down is the Gulf region of North/Central America, just the opposite is happening on the other side of the world, specifically the United Korean Peninsula and Talibanistan. For far too long the so-called Dove of the Americas, Pete Sanchez has allowed free reign to certain, uncommon pockets of American/West hatred.

North Korea swallowed up the South when during his first term, he unilaterally withdrew United States forces, which had guarded the 38th Parallel for 3/4 of a century and the North pounced. The United Korean Peninsula was formed.

He was re-elected anyway.

At the beginning of his second term, he urged the United Nations to ease restrictions on what had only been a tribal movement in the areas north and west of India. During the vacuum of power, the Taliban seized control of all the “-stans” and formed the nation called Talibanistan. Never a friend to the west, it was allowed to fester like a regional infection, never to be challenged about its belligerent policies.

And still Sanchez sat on his hands, with the support of the festering Hispanic majority that dare not allow him to lose power.

Picasso

But the Presidency of the United States of America has not descended into dictatorship and when a Congressional majority decides to act in spite of the “Commander-in Chief”, the sleeping dove that has been the USA, can magically take-wing and soar like the proud hawk of days gone by.

Among the Joint Chiefs’ of Staff, who have been bound by loyalty and not apt to spout their verbal opposition to national policy, are privately ramping up efforts to build a case for surgical strikes against both Korea and Talibanistan. A downsized military, just like the budget-challenged space program, has to skillfully choose their skirmishes and missions.

So, when CIA briefings included information about that bodacious bash in the Korean capital, with all the prominent players involved in Space Colony’s destruction in one city block, the temptation to strike is obvious, even to the most casual observer.

Add in the fact that permission from Congress is nothing but a presidential rubberstamp and you have the ingredients for the second biggest international incident, “a quarter of a million miles this side of the moon”. As the Army Chief put it, “What happens in Korea stays in Korea.” —


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 155


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 154

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 154

…On the other side of the world and on the bad side of public opinion, Kim Jong-un is pondering the meaning of life

On the other side of the world, and on the bad side of public opinion, Kim Jong-un is pondering the meaning of life. (2 Koreans + 1 Talinaistani)

“Where has all this outer space mischief got us Nae Tan-Dan?”

“We have put a stop to America’s imperialist expansionism, Supreme Leader!”

The barely 50 year old leader of the United Korean Peninsula {formerly North Korea & South Korea} is about the only Korean citizen capable of tracking “real” world sentiment toward his country.

“And what about the fates of Comrade Afridi and Comrade Gaad, my Talibanistan brother,” he asks of Sheikh Kamran Khan Nutkani who is also among the living.
“Samiq Gaad was killed while bravely escaping American custody!”

“And that is good Comrade Nutkani?

“Comrade/traitor Afridi was assassinated while attempting to flee to the United States!”

“Did anyone find and identify his dead body?”

“No, but how can one man be a threat to “the powerful and prosperous Kim Jung-Un”?”

“That one man may have given over his secrets about our satellite program to the West. I hear that they are blaming us for the destruction of their little space station around Mars,” his voice has an indignant tone.

Cheondoist flag.PNG

Cheondoism

“Should we not take the credit…?”

“Silence you fool! Cheiondo, our god of protection, has struck them blind and dumb. We will defend Cheiondo to the death, but we are vilified by the other world powers, those not clear about our altruistic intentions.”

“What manner of threat does a weak leader like the United States’ president present to us? We have defeated him before.” Nae Tan-Dan is full of confidence.

“Perhaps none, but we have failed to bite off the head of the snake, though it writhes in our hand; a snake with its fangs is a dangerous snake.”

Kim Jung-un Immortalized

“But did you not summon us to Pyongyang for a grand celebration? Talibanistan has sent its military leaders here for tribute and all Korean provincial leaders are gathered to show their support.”

“Yes I did Comrade Tan-Dan and so we shall have the biggest military parade led by the Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces and Korean People’s Army.” The raw feeling of power is sucking any consternation from his awareness, with lustful thoughts of world domination to guide him. “As did I include our friends from the sovereign state of Talibanistan, who themselves fought off the tyrannical nations in the fight for their territories; a special treat for the foot soldiers, bomb makers, and assassins.”

“We are happy to be here Supreme Leader and may our alliance last forever.”

The clanging of wine glasses and boastful toasts echo outside the high walls of Pyongyang City


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 154


page 146

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 148

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 148

…“What do I tell the world? And will they believe me?” asks the President of the United States…

Francine could not possibly guess what Roy is about to tell the leader of the free world, of all people.

“Please don’t beat around the bush. What the hell happened to the United Korean Peninsula’s sovereign property? I have to tell them something…… and I have a stump speech to deliver in 10 minutes.”

“I’m sure that will be a Democratic knee-slapper!” Roy is sure that the President has heard the rumblings about Roy’s possible political plans. “We have thrown a wet blanket over the whole Sang-Ashi thing and I guess you can spin it any way you want.”

“Well then just spin-it-out man!”

“We have indisputable proof that Sang-Ashi was built by the Koreans for the sole purpose of sabotaging the Space Colony program, doing whatever it takes to stop it in its tracks. To that end, they have used a deep-space probe to disguise their destructive ways.

“In response to that aggression, we needed to disable Sang-Ashi as it was about to take out the New Mayflower as well. However, the crew did not pull the trigger, the onboard mainframe did.”

This information produces differing reactions; Francine cannot believe Roy was so blunt. President Sanchez sits down, aghast at the notion.

“We can’t do that!” he proclaims.

“We had to take defensive measures,” Roy indirectly crediting Aldona Afridi. “We are not going to sit on our hands while two rogue global powers have their way with us!”

“Two? Who is the other one?”

“Talibanistan.”

“That’s impossible. My Secretary of State tells me that he has a working relationship with Kamran Khan-Nutkani.”

“Sure it works for them! And who do you think is behind the freeing of Samiq Gaad and the kidnapping of the McKinney boys?” He warns, “Do not be hoodwinked by a Talibanistani Trojan Horse.”

“What do I tell the world? And will they believe me?”

“Think about Sampson and Celeste McKinney, stranded on Mars, running out of food, water, and oxygen.”

“The country would not stand for news of their deaths, they adore that couple,” he makes a politically generic statement.

“Exactly.”


THE RETURN TRIP

Talibanistan

Episode 148


page 140

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 141

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 141

…My God, any morals this country has left will be flushed down the toilet if she gets in office…

In his role of back-seat-driver, Roy Crippen can only sit back and be a worrisome observer of situations he has minimal control over.

Take the United States’ inaction as it applies to the mounting evidence that the United Korean Peninsula is engaged in active sabotage against the World Coalition. That they can enlist the help of the ever-dangerous, sprawling Talibanistan, is even more infuriating to him and he discusses these and other issues with his new Press Secretary Francine Bouchette, “If I were president, I would have put an end to that nonsense a long time ago. We have allowed them to swallow South Korea whole and why, because we were afraid that they would use their nuclear weapons on some defenseless nation.”

“On the subject of president,” Francine ignores his long held worldviews and moves on to the now of things, “it seems there is a growing faction of Republicans who are touting you as the party’s nominee for 2032.”

“You are sounding like my Political Advisor, instead of Press Secretary.”

“Advisor, mouthpiece….what’s the difference? One of the reasons you hired me is because you did not have the time or interest in keeping track of the extraneous details.”

“And dealing with the media hoard… which you have lifted off my plate. I owe you my debt of gratitude for that, among other things, if you know what I mean?”

“Let us keep the “other things” out of this. Once this nation gets past this Space Colony malaise and things return to normal, it is going to need a Republican leader with a clear vision, not (current President) Sanchez’ V P Sylvia Freelove!”

“Are you telling me that Freelove is the Democratic frontrunner for ’32? My God, Image result for toilet flushing gifany morals this country has left will be flushed down the toilet if she gets in office.

“So if you do not want traditional marriage banned or the damned ACLU to become Attorneys General, you better start thinking about listening to the conversation.”

“I don’t have the money to make a run at the presidency? It takes big bucks to get to the White House.”

“If the world wants to restore the America of our great-grandfathers, the dollar$ will take care of itself.”


THE RETURN TRIP

Scrooge McDuck

Episode 141


page 133

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 131

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 131

…”The Koreans have been searching for a way to devastate the world  and we in Talibanistan were their unknowing partners; at least me, the biggest fool,”

Image result for fool artwork

Artwork by Red Dog Scott

“We want to go back with you Roy!” Gus emplores.

“Francine will be picking you up and get you back to the ranch.”

“What about Braden and where are you going?” Deke Wonders.

“Miss Bouchette will take care of everything, you know, take you to visit Braden and stuff,” Roy reassures. “As for me, I have to see someone else in a hospital, over at Lovell. He has some information I need to hear and it can’t wait.”

Greater Okaloosa Air Force Complex (Elgin AFB)

“Schematic” by Saatchi Art Artist Russell Thurston

– And he does divert to LSC, specifically Elgin AFB Hospital where Aldona Afridi is recovering from his attack. He is polishing his variety of schemes to rectify a wrong, having got the word about Roy’s imminent arrival. He is busy constructing a diagram of a laser dampening field, similar but different from the energy absorption field that the McKinneys did not have time to activate, remotely and pre-disaster.

He is finished, loaded with instructions and general information by the time Roy makes his grand entrance.

“Have you had enough action for a while, I know I have?” He shakes his ally/acquaintance’s hand and sits down to listen closely. “I have spoken with Lt. Gilbert and she gave me an abridged version of your de-briefing. Do you really think that this was the Sang-Ashi plan from the start?”

“The Koreans have been searching for a way to devastate the world ever since they conquered their southern neighbors and we in Talibanistan were their unknowing partners; at least me, the biggest fool.”

Jealousy is a cancerous emotion that spreads wildly among the evil.

“I have fashioned a schematic for you to forward to the crew of the New Mayflower, if it’s not too late.” Aldona Afridi is doing his best to right-a-wrong.


THE RETURN TRIP

Jealousy To Wrath Road by Ernie Scott

Episode 131


page 124

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 122

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 122

…The situation is fraught with tension, each and every passing minute brings new developments, like looking over the edge of a cliff…

Cliff Walk – Edge of Nowhere (Video Game)

As Roger pulls up, they pile everything into the back seat, “Take us back to the hotel.”

“You got it boss.”

“Francine will be staying behind… you are going to get me back to my helicopter!”

Roger the Dodger

— Roger does not spare the horses, all 300 HP in his 1969 SS model that replaced his mini Honda Civic, to race headlong on to Montego Bay and Sangster International. Perhaps it was his police training, but no finer a display of cutting corners and ability to dodge slow traffic, hence his dodger moniker.

It is a good thing his NASA-issued device is fully charged. He is in constant contact with the covert trifecta of CIA, FBI, and NSA, as well as an audio feed from JET {Joint Emergency Taskforce}, a cooperative agency whenever foreign nationals are involved.

“Radar has lost the two choppers that nabbed Samiq Gaad, somewhere over Honduras,” Braden King is monitoring what information Roy is getting, editing out conflicting reports, giving him the best guidance once he leaves Jamaica.

“I think two Navy F-77s are on their trail, their heading checks out on my navigation app.” He urges Roger to push it, counting on him to get to his hanger in one piece. “What is the deal with Afridi’s family?”

Silence… Nothing on the other end of the satellite connection. The situation is fraught with tension, each and every passing minute brings new developments, like looking over the edge of a cliff.

“Braden, are you there, your face is frozen on my end?”

“I’m sorry Roy, had to catch my breath, having trouble keeping up… Afridi took a few {bullets} from a known Talibanistani operative, we are told…the passengers subdued him, but they were at 38,000 feet and started to lose pressurization, pretty scary I guess. Afridi tells the US Marshall he has some more information to tell you, something about the Sang-Ashi probe. This Talibanistan/Korean connection is gaining traction with the Incident Audit folks,” Braden is like a juggler w/four balls in the air.

“Are you almost ready to get off the ground Roy? It looks like you were right about those Navy fighters… they shot down one Russki Chopper and have another grounded.”

“We are pulling up to Sangster now; my bird is fueled and ready to go!” Roger’s 300 hundred horses=60 miles in 30 minutes. “What’s with all these Mi-38s in our airspace? Should I get a heading for Honduras or what……?”

Again…


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 122


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 52

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 52

 “I do not believe we have underestimated your talents Awrah Bouchette.”…

Image result for crank call

Crank Call by Graham Annable

“I will tell you of something your greedy leaders will not: At eleven o’clock AM Texas time, the Earth’s ultimate imperialistic endeavor, Space Colony 1 has been completely and utterly destroyed!” There is more than one stab into the belly and genuine pride in his delivery.

Francine eases herself down into her chair, gasping at the mere thought. This man does not sound like your typical crank.

“Did you hear me woman? The Taliban, Nepal and Korean governments applaud this accident. Allah and Buddha have spoken.”

“I heard you,” she whispers faintly. Everyone in southern Texas knows someone who works in the space industry or Space Colony specifically. “I am not inclined to believe you sir,” is all the journalism she can muster.

“You are the only civilian who has this information, use it to disgrace the infidels and enhance your own career and that of your station. Reuters would gladly break this story, no problem.”

“If I am the only Westerner to know this, if it is true, wouldn’t NASA want to hold a formal press conference?”

“But you do not want to share the spotlight,” he pauses, she mulls. “I do not believe we have underestimated your talents Awrah Bouchette.” He slips back into his Arabic vernacular.

“I’ll need more information before I can break this story.”

“You must have a source in the space program; I suggest you confirm it with them. But they will tell you the same things, if they are honest. They will speak of how an asteroid has destroyed your space station and stopped the useless expansion into space. They may try to rescue the project, but they will fail, Allah has prevailed. You will not discover your source…”

A dial tone abruptly replaces the bearer of horrible news.

And what is she to do with this? No one else of import is at the station.


THE RETURN TRIP

newsroom-001

Episode 52


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 41

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 41

…A sole window allows Afridi to peer into the Turkish night. His wrist-digital device flashes 12:00, leaving him with at least five more hours to fret.

turkish-nights-001

Turkey Night Wallpaper (Istanbul) by alisarikaya

And so it is that the Afridi’s are a family unit again, after a harrowing month on the run. At least they have each other, away from evil powers bent on jealous destruction.

Even still, Aldona Afridi will not rest easy.

Back with his three dear ones, he continues his tirade in the form of a letter. He struggles to find the words camel-to-water-001that will open up the correct ears & eyes. If only they would come to their senses.

Points be made or not, Afridi decides to let it go, roll with the flow, having done everything in his power to express his concerns about Space Colony 1. He recites a Talibanistani Proverb: ‘You can lead a camel to water— but he won’t stop drinking.’ It has little to do with his quandary, but he does thirst for swift resolution.

Now would be a convenient time to rest his weary soul, post-New Orient Express excursion aside, he finds a deep sleep elusive. In its stead, he is content holding his bride close. His mind strays to several options and back, unable to resolve a single one of them.

Image result for flashing 12:00 clock gifSo he retracts is arm, as not wake anyone and he inches off the bed. A sole window allows him to peer into the Turkish night. His wrist-digital device flashes 12:00, leaving him with at least five more hours to fret.

After watching a steady stream of headlights at this early hour, wondering who may be out this late/early, two very long speeding black cars come to a halt outside the mosques gates. His initial reaction is one of relief, anticipating the arrival of those in authority; the Ambassador and the CIA are ahead of schedule!

He fumbles in the dark to find the clothes given him by those nice folks that allowed him to get this far. He efforts not to disturb the others, running a comb through his untidy black hair to look as professional as possible.

The intent of the visitors at the gate seems curious though. If they have peaceful plans, their actions are quite hasty.

An explosion, of sufficient intensity to bring down the perimeter fencing of the Muslim place of prayer, lays waste to anything within 30 yards.

Before the smoke can clear, six armed men sprint to the buildings many steps. Afridi warns his family, “They must be after me…….get dressed quickly, children please be quiet as a mouse! They must believe this room is empty. He ushers one and all into a hidden nook, behind a false curtain.

Sure enough, those cars did not carry peaceful men of diplomacy. Automatic weapons spray the room without respect to its occupants or their business. Once determined empty, it is on to the next and the next.

6 pairs of feet scamper across the marble floors, then up the granite stairs.

With the trouble heading to the floor above, Afridi leaps into action, “We are leaving this mosque, Allah be damned! Those men will not leave until they have found me.”


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 41


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 40

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 40

…“Have you not run into any Talibanistani agents hot on my trail, as The Lone Ranger would say?”…

Hot on the trail

“It may appear unbelievable on the surface, but I swear I need to speak with Director Crippen. He will distinguish of what I speak.” Afridi insists.

“How do you know Roy Crippen?”

“I do not know him, but a long time ago I petitioned my government to work on the Mars colony. Like any other dedicated scientist in the world, I wanted to join the paramount project man has ever undertaken.”

“Talibanistan was given every opportunity to join with the free-world, but they chose to belittle and criticize the waste; the ‘there are still starving tribesmen’ in the world argument.”

Afridi hangs his head low in disgust and disdain.

“You must understand our hesitance in chasing after your wild accusations. A killer satellite launched from a camel’s back? For all we know, you just needed a good excuse to request asylum. We cannot take in everyone who claims to be oppressed.”

“Have you not run into any Talibanistani agents hot on my trail, as The Lone Ranger would say?”

“Oh, we know you have stirred up a hornet’s nest alright.”

“Then get my message to Roy Crippen, or better yet let me talk the science of my claims, to support my story in person.”

“Maybe in 5, 6 hours, we’ll see.” Elliot Deming turns to walk away from the Image result for if and buts were candy and nutsissue. He regrets not having the authority…..if ifs & buts were candy & nuts.

“Wait Mr. Deming sir, I ask but one thing, that I am able to stay with my family, they have been through much.”

“I see no harm in that,” concedes the Consul General. “Move Mister Afridi into his family’s quarters, Sargent.”

“But that is up on the ground floor sir, not as secure.”

“It may be academic in a few hours; do as I say!”


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 40


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 28

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 28

“…this must be your 1st trip on the New Orient Expressmy lonely friend.”…

meanwhile-caption-001

In 2030, (again) after a famed and fabled past, the New Orient Express, that had halted the contiguous run in 2009, from Paris all the way through to Istanbul, a train-traveler can still take a (faster version) train from one end to the other; 2000 luxurious European kilometres.

Writers have forever taken advantage of its romantic whistle-stops and melting pot passenger list. Taken at face value, the spin of those yarns will have the seats of this long-train runnin’ occupied, in large part, by spies, opiate dealers, murderers, and the like.

In the second to last car is the restaurant coach and seated in the rear, trying his hardest to look inconspicuous {innocent}, is Aldona Afridi. Now you can add a Talibanistani defector to the list of unusually unusual passengers; fitting right in with the stereotypical fictional ne’er-do-wells. Just don’t stare at them.

In an attempt to make a goose-chase out of his flight to freedom thereby covering his tracks, Afridi had flown to Paris, instead of the logical land-way across the Persian Plain and Euphrates Valley, where Nutkani and his tribesmen were previously nipping at his heels.

The most gregarious of the conductor corps strolls down the aisle, stopping to chat with folks of all derivations, some of which would rather not, acting as if they were all long-lost friends. Afridi chooses Conductor“mute” as his origin, but is compelled to mouth, “What time Istanbul?”

“Last stop Bucharest…” he shares his answer, then pointedly asking, “…this must be your 1st trip on the New Orient Express, my lonely friend.” After 20 hours on the rapid rail, passengers should be more aware of the schedule.

“Will we get there before dusk?” he rephrases, hoping to elicit a more precise response from the mustachioed kibitzer.

“Romanian officials are asking questions, searching the whole train…for a defector my instinct tells me.”

Just what Afridi wanted to hear; like a priest preaching a sermon on hell in front of pews packed with hardcore sinners? Had he known that the rascally conductor was pulling his strange-unusualleg, using his uncanny ability to guess why passengers have chosen to ride this disreputable rail, Aldona would have been spared the mounting anxiety that threaten to make a wreck of him.

Chuckling on his way, the conductor whispers cryptically, “You will arrive at railhead before dark, my itchy friend. People who choose the New Orient Express are immune from border inspections…just be aware of the  people around you!”

The jovial ticket taker’s laugh echoes loudly, yet the cause of his amusement seems of little consequence to the other diners. Anonymity is the unspoken creed of this illustrious train.


THE RETURN TRIP

new-orient-express-001

Episode 28


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