THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 181

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 181

…“Listen to you! There IS a devious bone in that good-old-boy body…”

“Well it can’t be another Texan and it can’t be another space guy, so why not a rifle-toting, rock’em-sock’em reformer from America’s Dairyland.” Brain gears are churning away. “And we can sneak it in at the end of the Space Colony tribute.”

“Morbidly, you may be on to something, tying this whole deal in with the McKinneys, but, and I underline but, I don’t think it should distract from the solemnity of the memorial service.”

His wife is buying into the notion. That low, murky, gray cloud that has shadowed Roy the past four months {always a step behind like a political version of an undertaker} is starting to clear up, replaced by the blue-hue of tranquility.

With calm comes clarity, “We will wait until the scheduled news conference that afternoon. The emotional impact will be different from the memorial, I won’t even deviate from the respectful reminiscing I have been working on, but sliding the announcement in at the end will negate any negative reaction to Charlotte.”

“Listen to you! There IS a devious bone in that good-old-boy body,” Francine is impressed.

“The time is right for a female Vice-President and I believe you prefer my choice to that Georgia peach of a Congresswoman… the one whose husband just died of a brain tumor… and she has called me twice to express her interest?”

Francine is quite aware of Roy Crippen’s baser appeal. He is a tabloid rock star, a media darling, and the hottest thing presidential since JFK {after an extreme makeover and an injection of swagger}. But just like Kennedy he is more than a pretty face; men with a hypnotic power of persuasion and the adept skill to lead the nation down the road of turbulent uncertainty.

Another welcome asset in his corner is with his support team’s ability to keep a secret. In a society where security and info leaks are an art form, thanks to the instantaneous news cycle and continuously connected individuals throughout the world, in those somber days leading up to the posthumous honoring of Celeste and Sampson McKinney… not a single peep, hint or drip about candidate-elect Charlotte Walker.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 181


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 173

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 173

…Roy Crippen usually avoids questions asked during the chaos of travel, but he cannot resist this shot at a GLOBAL NETWORK news-byte…

Before Roy can ask if he can use that last line in his upcoming speech, the casino doorman has the rear hatch open, unleashing a flood of LED flashes from the waiting photojournalists. Of all the things that are hard for Roy to get used to, this moment is it. The transition from private to public, in the blink of a squinting eye has that movie star feel, when he actually considers himself a director.

Again, his image-shaping partner proves her value. Years in front of camera and mic has prepared her for this time in the sun, making sure it rubs off on Roy, even if it has to be applied daily.

Despite having survived the failure/destruction of Space Colony 1 {and the subsequent loss of two dear friends in the process}, the hard-fought nominating battles, and the withering attention, his demographics are favorable and polling numbers are on course with a bullet.

“Mr. Crippen,” yells an aggressive young female CNN reporter who manages to ace out her more considerate colleagues. “What is your reaction to Sylvia Freelove’s claim that you bullied the President into those deadly attacks on United Korea and Talibanistan?”

Roy usually avoids questions asked during the chaos of travel, but he cannot resist this shot at a GLOBAL NETWORK news-byte.

“To tell you the truth Miss,” the moving mass stops moving to hear his rebuttal, “I had not heard that one and it is that kind of misinformation I am determined to put an end to. Ask the Joint Chiefs if I managed to bully them first?

“And wasn’t it Ms. Freelove’s boss who took all the credit for the idea, only after it was obvious that the United Korean Peninsula was behind the Space Colony calamity? Or that he is leading the charge against Space Colony II? Space Colony II will be a reality when I am elected.”

“Then what about your conciliatory stance toward Korea? I don’t understand the disconnect?”

Candidate Crippen launches into a spontaneous analogy.

“I had/haven’t seen my cousin Harold, a nasty spoiled city boy, who came to visit my family’s house one summer….

… READ THE REST OF ROY’S  HEARTWARMING STORY TOMORROW…


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 173


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 172

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 172

…“I am relieved about Gus!.” Francine is all too aware that Gus is the one suffering most by the loss of his parents…

Suffering by Paula Heffel

“I am not going to waste our time together squabbling over that necktie.” Their 17 month marriage remains solid, as most do, in spite of the ongoing McKinney heartbreak, career shifts, and the blinding glare of the national spotlight. Like those ships in the night, passing near not seeing, “We can’t waste this time.”

Space Academy

“Speaking of not seeing someone, how did Deke & Gus do on their Academy exams?” Co-surrogate father Roy would give anything short giving up on the election to be there to help the boys with the critical Space Academy simulator tests; the single biggest factor in becoming an astronaut candidate. Braden King is a ground expert, but has little to offer the two rapidly maturing space-aspiring young men.

The adults’ combined mission is to help them attain those desired goals.

“Gus barely got by the book test, then A-ced the simulator.” she tells Roy. “Deke lost his gyro-control, hit an asteroid and he will never live it down. It turns out that the professor rigged his test by inserting THE QUARKIAN QUANDARY, I believe he called it.”

NASA Top Gun

NASA“They only pull that on the Top Guns. I bet Deke had already been promoted.”

“I am relieved about Gus!.” Francine is all too aware that Gus is the one suffering most by the loss of his parents.

“The way I see it Francine, Gus knows that his flying skills are the only way he graduates from the Academy; it’s hard to keep up with his genius brother.”

“Whatever the reason,” she concludes as their Ford Hydrogen vehicle pulls up to the Hilton Hotel & Casino, “I think that Celeste would be pleased as punch and Sammy Mac is screaming at the top of his lungs … somewhere out there.”


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 172


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 169

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 169

…“Just how long will we be staying on Mars?”

“Until the experiments are done or we run out of excuses… and then we will discuss.”…

— “We’ve been eavesdropping Rick… where the hell is Sammy Mac?” If the situation weren’t so bothersome, it would make for a great episode of THE TWILIGHT ZONE. “Any thoughts, ideas, suggestions?”

“Their boys aren’t listening in are they?”

“No, thank God and we are going to control who knows what, when and you are taking care of the where.”

“Then I don’t think we can say anything for sure Roy – Braden. This is all way too strange and it is going to take some time to do a CSI Mars or wait for them to come back from wherever they are hiding. Tycho looks lived in but not lived-in enough, if you know what I mean?”

“I may be overstepping my bounds, but I am going to have you stay out there and conduct every single experiment or at the very least, pick up where they left off.”

“FYI……I see some early spectro-photographic soundings that show some huge lithium deposits, not to mention liquid water and crude bacteria deep in the subsoil.”

“See if you can unravel the missing person’s mystery first and worry about all the other goodies later.”

“Just how long will we be staying?”

“Until the experiments are done or we run out of excuses… and then we will discuss.”

“What do we do with Tycho when we leave, shut it down, blow it up, hang a For Rent sign on it?”

“None of the above; Just close the door and leave the lights on!”

“Now who would leave a perfectly good machine like Tycho behind on a distant planet?”

“Too bad we don’t have an automatic recall feature or a good hangar to store it.” Roy laments an unnecessarily un-lamentable set of circumstances. “I guess we will be have to be the first.”

{Maybe not Roy!}


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 169


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 168

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 168

…It’s like they hitched a ride from off the planet and we passed ‘em up on the way here, like sub-light-ships in the night.”…

Ships in the stillness of the night, 1888 – Ivan Aivazovsky

— New Mayflower cameras tell most of the story from the outside, however Rick Stanley and his #2 {nameless brand X astronaut} have been inside the seemingly abandoned for some time with a 3rd keeping their ship anchored in the sea of red sand.

Moonlight Stroll by Jay Nottingham

There is a valid reason for the lack of interaction, fueling concerns about what they do not find inside Tycho; neither McKinney. The Mars lander has that “lived-in” feeling, but the residents are not where they were expected to be.

“Doesn’t it look like they come in and out of Tycho a lot…I mean every day?” asks #2. “And there is stuff missing that shouldn’t be…the hard copy of the star-chart is gone, not to mention their EVA gear. Maybe they’re on a moonlit stroll.”

“Yeah and where is the lander interactive tablet? It is portable but you wouldn’t take it out into the dusty beyond.”

The most amazing discovery of all, are the digital numbers on the environmental and power-level readouts.

“Oxygen is at 98.2%. H2 0 is 100% of capacity. And the volts and amps have not dropped below 99% in 2 freaking months?”

No bodies, no consumption, no mischief, nothing is adding up for Rick, who has been through some mysteries of space

Moon Station

{Just like the initial recon/shuttle missions to set up the Moon Station outpost. Mysteriously, they discovered that items, left behind by the Apollo missions, were missing, when no one other than NASA had been there since the 1970’s;  WHAT’S UP WITH THAT?!}

“100% water, what’s up with that? That level should be at 45 by now. It’is like they hitched a ride from off the planet and we passed ‘em up on the way here, like sub-light-ships in the night.”

“Or they ended up with a tour guide who doesn’t know shit about Mars.” —


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Episode 168


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 167

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 167

… I am issuing a gag order, no network feed until further notice. I don’t want Deke and Gus finding out their parents are missing…

“Mission Control, we have a problem,” Rick Stanley reports. “We are seeing some surface disturbance in Space Colony 1 lander’s landing field and it looks fresh, real fresh. Can you see what we see?”

Braden King and Roy Crippen are only separated by their cuffed shirt-sleeves, side-by-side to rely on the other for support.

Braden wonders why neither McKinney is signaling their brave rescuers in any way…. or answering the hails… .or firing a single blast from the quieted Tycho.

Roy is in possibilities mode… they are conserving fuel… they are low on oxygen…that impact crater, maybe a meteorite knocked out their communication gear.

Anxiety levels on Earth can be measured at the Moon Station and the beating of hearts drown out any other sound. Even the successful landing of the New Mayflower fails to break the spell.

“Two of us are going EVA. We can see lights on inside the lander and one of them is the green airlock beacon!”

“Doesn’t that mean they’re out of the lander?” Braden knows enough about procedure to be dangerous.

“You’ll need to close the airlock manually to balance the air and pressure before you enter,” Roy cautions and informs those who have not been around a lander simulator for a while.

Image result for no answerIt seems like only yesterday that New Mayflower had Mars within
hailing distance. Was it too much to ask for Sampson & Celeste jump on the horn and say “hey!”? Shouldn’t monumental effort be rewarded when expectations are being met?

Those damned Koreans officially leapfrog Osama Bin Laden as “Satan of the Century”? It is a very long line of evil and growing.

“It’s a good thing we did not run a live feed to the networks, in fact I am issuing a gag order until further notice. I don’t want Deke and Gus seeing this stuff.”

One doesn’t read a book from back to front, right?–

Extra-vehicular activity (EVA) is any activity done by an astronaut or cosmonaut outside a spacecraft beyond the Earth’s appreciable atmosphere. {Wikipedia}

 


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 165

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 165

… “I have been triangulating ever since we left Uranus behind.

I love it when you talk space-dirty to me“…

“If you knew your sun was burning out, wouldn’t you go searching for another sun and planet as a bailout?” Celeste submits possible reasons for the NEWFOUNDLANDER’s trips to Earth and eventually Mars.

“That would be excellent motivation, but I do not think it applies to our friends. These chaps were just plain curious and that is why I am leaning toward the orange Epsilons — Eridani and Indi. At seven and ten light-years, either of those would be more likely home bases. If you subtract the tracks we are laying down every second, who knows when we would get there.”

“You are talking possibly ten years Sam, and that’s if you are right. I happen to know that Rigel, the white-hot giant of the Orion Constellation is 500 light-f***ing-years away. If it took Columbus 500 years to reach the West Indies from Italy… well you know where that comparison is going.” Celeste’s perspective is that of a new mother, realizing that Deimostra may never set foot on solid ground in her entire space-bound lifetime.

“You’ve got me there Cel, but we must look for the positives in our predicament. Maybe I failed to mention that we may be going much faster than the mere speed-of-light factor of one. As my hero Captain James Tiberius Kirk would say, ‘Can you give me Warp 8, Scotty?’”

“I’ll do what I can Captain, but the strain on the di-lithium crystals may be more than they can take!”

“You remember that episode too.”

Space Academy

“Of course I do. When we were dating at the Academy, we couldn’t go anywhere until that or any of the other bleeping on-demand episodes or movies were finished!”

“Why didn’t we pack the Star Trek z-ray file into our PDAs. The trip would go by quicker.”

“So do you think we are past Warp 1?”

“Exactly. I have been triangulating ever since we left Uranus behind.

I love it when you talk space-dirty to me. Triangulating Uranus must be code for interstellar whoopee,” she puts her sleeping infant down to make a flirtatious flyby of her husband.

“Isn’t it too early… for THAT?”

“Recovery times on the NEWFOUNDLANDER are amazing.”

It is not your average romantic advance, so in the middle of a serious discussion, they achieve Warp 2 to their makeshift living quarters.


THE RETURN TRIP

Warp Speed Mr. Scott by Euderion deviantart.com

Episode 165


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