THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 98

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 98

…Attention everyone, I would like to propose a toast… raise your glasses as I salute our Director Roy Crippen and Channel 13’s own Francine Bouchette!”

Image result for a toast artwork

Separately and together, she and he play it oh-so-kool, willing to allow randomness to take its course.

To anyone with two eyes and a television, they had been captured on video holding hands; the tension is thick and juicy.

braceT LFTWhispers:“Why aren’t they talking?” “I thought they liked each other.” “At bracket rt least they can talk to each other.”

In-house wagering is going on among the adults, “I have 50 bucks that says they will not talk.. any takers?” Just one of the side bets.

The master of ceremonies takes matters in his own hands, “Attention everyone, before Deke & Gus open their gifts, and I take the ribs off the grill, I would like to propose a toast… raise your glasses as I salute the two real celebrities among us—my apologies to any movie stars or sitting Presidents—To our Director Roy Crippen and Channel 13’s own Francine Bouchette!”

“C-H-E-E-R-S! Here – here! Salud!” come from all around from every side as the toasted make their way forward.

Whispers (he & she):“There are lots of people here.” “Yes there are and so many gifts.” “I didn’t expect to see you here.” “I had to file that story, I hope you know that.” “Of course you did, and I imagine my impulsiveness caught you off guard.”

13d01-6a00d8341cb55f53ef010536ace89f970b-800wiFrancine, in her big girl voice, “No need for you to apologize Roy what happened to us was perfectly natural.”

“Had I known you were engaged that would have never happened,” counters Roy.

“You were every bit the gentleman and I did not offer any résistance.”

“I am in some hot water over this whole mess, maybe you should keep your distance.”be5e8-6a00d8341cb55f53ef0120a604af2c970c-800wi

“Do you think I’m worried about my association with you? Bring it on fools!”


 

THE RETURN TRIP

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Episode 98


page 120

 

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 95

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 95

…Subscribing to the “strength in numbers” axiom, the guest list has been expanded to include a variety of acquaintances, from the past, present and those not met

edgar-wallace-entertains-a-few-of-his-acquaintances

by HENRY MAYO BATEMAN

These past 2 action-packed days, from the point when the McKinneys attached the deep-space Chronicle to Space Colony, then go and pile on the current theatrics, will distort a person’s concept of the passage of time. Plus or minus 48 hours have drawn 2 days out to what seems to be a week, weaving and knitting every second into a patchwork quilt…

By the grace of God, the succeeding identical period of 48 hrs. streaks by and King Ranch logobefore you know it Wednesday 9 January 2030 A.D. has arrived. For visitors to Braden’s King Ranch, they are treated to the atmosphere of 19th Century American Old West, the date and place chosen to celebrate the combined birth of Deke McKinney, born 6 January 2015 and Gus McKinney born 11 January 2016.

The event was conceived out of love by the ranch’s owner to ease the pain of separation, for both children and parents alike. If everything had gone “according to space-birthday-001Hoyle”, Sampson & Celeste would have been back aboard the Colony and through the miracle of accelerated space communication, they would have been linked to the party by voice and by sight.

Regrettably, Mom & Dad are otherwise occupied.

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Gus’ BBQ Fantasy Guest

Subscribing to the “strength in numbers” axiom, the guest list has been expanded to include a variety of acquaintances, from the past, present and those not met. Friends, relatives, well-wishers and those pesky party crashers have gathered at King Ranch. The menagerie gathers around BBQ hour, which could be any random time of day, and has a few surprise guests; Grandma Savta Bergestrom from Sweden (the country) and Aunt Sassy McKinney, Sampson’s crazy Scottish/Irish sister from Great(er) Britain.

The turnout of GLF and LSC personnel is impressive, with the boys having grown up in front of their eyes as they tagged along with Mom & Dad over the years. Admirals and Generals have reason to be jealous of this Who’s Who crowd. There are two late arrivers to the festivities: ??? + ???

Tune in tomorrow


THE RETURN TRIP

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by Jon Flaming

Episode 95


page 117

 

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 94

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 94

…Now that’s what I want to hear… enthusiasm – enthusiasm…

Image result for enthusiasm painting

Brittle Enthusiasm by Polly Castor

“The President says that there will be no second Space Colony until Sammy Mac and Cel are back on Earth!”

“Is this a repeat of what went on in the 20-teens? Feed the people and starve the christopher-columbus-001space program, how shortsighted is that? Yeah, let’s try to privatize space again, we all know how that turned out; that’s like sending out Christopher Columbus with two dinghies and a canoe. By the time they get done with the Washington push-pull, a Martian colony will not be feasible, hell then we might as well shoot for the stars.”

“Not necessarily Roy, they (the McKinneys) could be debriefed en route from Mars and we could have the main body completed by then; no reason we couldn’t have #2 in place by the end of ’31.”

“A year behind schedule and not manned by our 1st string people!” Crip’s biorhythm readings are lowered to somewhere between Custer at Little Bighorn and the Captain of the Titanic; surrounded by 2000 fighting Indians & the Promenade deck listing at 45º in the frigid waters of the North Atlantic.

“Maybe they are right Braden. We had a serious breach of security at the very least and when the smoke clears from the inquiry, I will be working 2nd shift IT at an El Paso Automated Warehouse.”

 

“Look my friend, we are not going to let you anywhere near some half-baked witch-hunt, so I have a proposal,” Braden does what a friend does best; he tosses out a life preserver. “Come up to the Ranch (King) for a little R&R. I have a reluctant filly I’d like you to break.”

“That’s not in my wheelhouse right now. I would probably get thrown and break my back, neck, and both arms trying to cushion the fall.”

space-birthday-001“We will be expecting you on Wednesday the boys’ birthday bash and bring your bedroll.”Related image

“Hey, I can’t disappoint my biggest fans!”

“Now that’s what I want to hear…enthusiasm — enthusiasm.”


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 94


page 116

 

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 91

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 91

…Francine’s words land harshly and dig deep, and may as well have been a dagger to the heart to a man who had suffered more than his share of setbacks as of late…

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Fantasy dagger by Vadich

…Roy is taken aback by Francine’s callous bluntness, and he hasn’t even asked a question.

Without being asked she continues, “I am flattered that you’ve seen enough of my work that you would offer me the job, without consulting your higher-ups. And believe me when I tell you that the space program intrigues me, interesting and exciting to say big-butthe least.

“But, the big but is that I am in the 2nd year of a 4 year contract and if I haven’t admitted it before now… I am engaged to KHST’s VP of News,” she pauses to count on Related imageone hand, “going on 5 years this May.”

Her words land harshly and dig deep, and may as well have been a dagger to the heart to a man who had suffered more than his share of
setbacks as of late
. Does this signal the return of “old” Francine Bouchette? Had she now secured the inside story, that juicy prize that will get her where she wants to go? ‘Good bye Charlie, I must be getting along.’

Image result for btw“I see,” TMI, BTW, TTYL Roy is an unemotional as possible, after all, what did he expect or hope for after merely holding hands or that pressure packed tender kiss.

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New

Francine stands, her skirt soiled and wrinkled and that $150 hairdo looks like a fright-wig. She brushes her hair straight and a mirror helps restore her face, the skirt is too far gone, fitting results for a day that has turned the page – plus 3 hours more.

“I have to head out Roy. I believe you granted me another exclusive and if I don’t get
going, someone else will beat me to it. I hope your valet didn’t drain my hydrogen tank, Corvettes are not fuel efficient.”

Old

“No they’re not; I have a gasoline 2001 Stingray rag-top myself.” He is brave on the outside, “If you ever need a source here at Galvy or Lovell, you can look me up.

“And don’t be too hard on us,” he uses two hands to squeeze one of hers.

Her smile is pained as she turns to find her car and shows herself out of the complex.

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“It’s just another ordinary day in the life of an everyday ordinary space freak.” Roy mumbles this and other self-deprecating phrases on the way to his now lonely office, plopping onto the overused couch to close his eyes. Sleep come mercifully quick, dreams not so sweet. —


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 91


page 113

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 87

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 87

…“And you found out that I am a sucker for a beautiful girl with a gun pointed at her head!”…

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Big Red Lollipop by Donna Pomponio

“You are bluffing.”

“Am I?”

Perhaps because his ears were burning from the flush of embarrassment, or out of shear frustration, he rips off his elastic face/mask, revealing the fire in his eyes. He is also nobody’s’s fool.

Rather than reacting irrationally, he decides to act on a more limited target, while outwardly staying cool.

Enough time has ticked off the countdown clock that Roy can sense the reversing of fortunes.

His assumption is premature, upon seeing Gherkin Dogman turn calmly, raise his weapon and aim it at Francine’s head. Without hesitating he dives headlong into the man, a tackle with the greatest execution, causing the furious spray of bullets to go straight up.

With the noose of reinforcements closing in around them and Gherkin/whomever intentions clear to his men, they are firing in an instant… not at Francine but in the direction of Gantry #2, with the Russian-made jetcopter rising off the ground, pivoting to fire its lethal boom-001payload.

By the time the copter has turned, a good-guys Image result for good guysshoulder-fired missile takes it down in a fiery heap and not a single hostile bullet finds its mark, while the foreign boots on the ground are mowed down like so many weeds.

Roy Crippen has the lone survivor of the raid pinned beneath him, pretty much alongside where Francine spent those terrifying few seconds. Both she and he are very fortunate survivors, given the fact that they were the only participants without a gun.

Francine is lucky in another sense: 100 out of 100 journalists would have given their right arm to be at the scene of the 21st Century’s most compelling stories. But that wasn’t on her mind right now, “That was the bravest thing I have ever seen Roy, live or on video.”

“Had to save that “space-plane”, right Gherkin?” he says while looking down. And you found out that I am a sucker for a beautiful girl with a gun pointed at her head. In the fog of conflict, Roy reacted the only way he knew how. (Never give a sucker an even break)

He actually was thinking of her first, even before his precious Space Colony.

They are soon surrounded by Mission Control Marines.t-minus-to-launch-001

Braden King declares, “T-minus 00:10.00 and counting all systems go in the launch of the deep-space New Mayflower. The sky is high and we have two important people waiting for us.”


THE RETURN TRIP

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Episode 87


page 107

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 86

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 86

…“That’s right you terrorist fools,” adds the previously apprehensive now animated Francine, noticing that the odds may soon even out…

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Dogs Playing Poker, 1903 – C. M. Coolidge

“As you may have guessed, I am not Gurkhas Dhangotma; in fact, my name is not important. What does matter is that we have you and this female as hostages and we insist that you cancel that silly rescue plane to save your imperialistic friends.”checklist-001

The foreigner’s English fluency is markedly better than he recalls, spoken with the conviction of 10 other automatic weapons.

 

“Sorry Pal! That bird goes off at 11:57 C.S.T. no matter what happens to me, especially since you snakes did such a good job of slithering in under our radar.” Roy is matter-of-fact, having the facts and a lump at the top of his spine.

“You are risking your lives for those of two others so far away? What do they matter?”

“I only speak for me, but I have had it with all you fringe groups trying to have it your way. Jealousy is not a cause to follow; it is a coward’s lot in life… and if you haven’t looked around lately, you may have done-waked-up the good guys.”Related image

“That’s right you terrorist fools,” adds the previously apprehensive now animated Francine rolls the dice, noticing that the odds may soon even out.

With his bluff being called in question, “Gherkin” does not panic or display fear, “We are not terrorists, for if we were such men, we would have opened fire on your rescue vessel with our gunship, instead of bothering with you two. We have no need of furthers deaths when we can accomplish our feat of putting an end to the colonization of space without firing a canon. We will interfere with your silly rescue.”

t-minus-to-launch-001Give the man credit for his utter gall, but as Braden King blares “t-minus 00:20.00 minutes” Roy has achieved his ace-in-the-hole, in gambling terms.

“You are determined Gherkin, I’ll give you that, but at the 20 minutes mark your best laid plans have left you fail-safeempty handed.” Roy walks freely in the brawlers’ circle. “The launch is now in fail-safe mode. Only the mission computers can abort the launch…..and they do not know a gun from a slingshot.”

“You are bluffing.”

“Am I?”


THE RETURN TRIP

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by Mollie B

Episode 86


page 105

 

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THE RETURN TRIP- Episode 85

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 85

…“Gherkin Dogman!” Roy storms the recognized authority figure, the mysterious temporary Spatial Debris tech, but the butt of a rifle stops him in his tracks….

Image result for identity artwork

Identity by artist Nick Gentry

meanwhile-caption-001“T-minus 0:42 minutes, all systems are green and go for the second manned flight to Mars,” Braden King is giving the greater space community an update.t-minus-to-launch-001

In the case of Roy Crippen and Francine Bouchette, intercom chatter is their audible
window into the coming tight launch window, the many stars a’twinkling yet shedding not a useful light on this moonless night, on the grounds surrounding the New Mayflower.

“Everything is alright Roy, perhaps our suspicions were unfounded,” she states, swayed by the positive update so close to launch.

They are pretty far out onto the tarmac when he tells her, “Let’s not take any chances,” taking her by the hand and sprinting toward Colony Mission Control and away from Gantry #2, where the New Mayflower sits brightly lit, launch vapor pouring from its 450 stance.

As they are running, skimming a scant 2 feet above the flat ground a jetcopter sweeps onto the scene, without US Air Force markings and not with the friendliest intent.

“That is a Mil Mi-38 Hind attack helicopter,” charging through the pitch-black
darkness, beneath the radar of a non-military installation. It drops and blocks their further advance.

 

These interlopers know their targets, with the swift effectiveness of a SWAT team, more than 10 armed men leap from open doors, before it touches down. The head start gives them a decided advantage, securing the intended hostages with ease.

Roy’s initial response to capture is to wax heroic, but disadvantageous numbers fly in the face of logic; an automatic weapon held by a familiar face decides the matter and that is that.

“I knew he would be foolish,” the supposed leader of the force speaks in some mischievous blend of Hindi and English.

“Gherkin Dogman!” Roy storms the recognized authority figure, the mysterious temporary Spatial Debris tech, but the butt of a rifle stops him in his tracks.

“No!” Francine pushes aside the assault-weapon-wielding thug to come to the aid of her fallen new friend. Other than an ugly lump at the base of his skull, the stirring new-mayflower-001victim is not seriously injured.

“As you may have guessed, I am not Gurkhas Dhangotma; in fact, my name is not important. What does matter is that we have you and this female as hostages and we insist that you cancel that silly rescue plane to save your imperialistic friends.”

–  A rather simplistic description of the New Mayflower and its new mission.


THE RETURN TRIP

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Poster from THE RAID 2

Episode 85


page 104

 

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