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,”

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Artwork by Red Dog Scott

“We want to go back with you Roy!”

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

“What about Braden and where are you going?”

“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.”

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Greater Okaloosa Air Force Complex (Elgin AFB)

— 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.


THE RETURN TRIP

Jealousy To Wrath Road by Ernie Scott

Episode 131


page 161

 

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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.”…

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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

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Episode 52


 

page 67

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 46

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 46

CHAPTER THREE

 Up A Creek

like I was saying, the Korean Sang-Ashi Probe is not an ordinary satellite…

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© Ben Jennings/Cartoon Movement

 “I think we have reestablished voice-com on the secure channel, listen,” Braden King carries it over to the intercom.

Colony Control

Colony Control

“Mission Control Galveston, can you hear me please?”

“Sam must be trying out a new accent,” comments Roy.

“Is this another of your jokes Sam?” Braden is sorting things out.

Aldona Afridi is just as, if not more confused. Is this the way Americans communicate on their space missions?

“I need to speak to a Roy Crippen, the Mission Director.

The man himself answers, “This is he and what are you doing on this secure band?” He is firm, yet yielding.

Sang-Ashi Probe“My name is Aldona Afridi. I am the Chief Ordinance and Systems Engineer for the Sang-Ashi Deep Space Probe. I have defected; I am in Turkey in order to give you vital information.”

Roy is holding back, waiting for anyone else with a clue to jump in. He whispers, “I seem to remember hearing that name in connection to Korean Space. Isn’t that probe passing by Mars soon … and could this be the cause of our communication gap with Mars, Braden? Maybe they are doing some spying.”

“No telling Crip, this is strange, but yes that Korean thing is out there somewhere, maybe it’s lost. We are not seeing it.”

“You have obviously gone to some effort to speak to me, so for now, I will listen to what you have to say.”

“Very well, like I was saying, the Korean Sang Ashi Probe is not an ordinary satellite, in the codessense that it has its own defense laser ordinance. It is far more powerful than it needs to be, but I was forced to design it as such.”

“Why does a space probe need defensive systems,” wonders Roy aloud?

“They told me it was for warding off asteroids and meteors; not an unusual reaction for the paranoid Koreans. But I start to suspect that they had something else in mind, when they ask me for the manual override codes for the laser. I refuse and that is why my family and I escape to Turkey and precisely why I need to warn you.”


THE RETURN TRIP

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Episode 46


page 60

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 19

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 19

…May the name of Aldona Afridi hereby be erased from Talibanistan records, as if he never existed!…

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“He must be dead Sheikh Nutkani. No one can survive in water that cold… what a fool!” Nae Tan-Dan assumed he would play by the rules, finding it hard to believe that Aldona Afridi would act so rashly.

Shaikh Nutkani

“If he is dead, we must act on our plan sooner than we wanted. If he isn’t dead, he will wish he were.” The former Taliban tribesman is outraged, appalled that this scientist would betray his duty. He is not however, without his wits. “You must find another source for the laser access codes. Surely there is a failsafe protocol built into the system.

May the name of Aldona Afridi hereby be erased from Talibanistan records, as if he never existed!

“The United Korea will honor its end of the bargain, Sheikh. Nae Tan-Dan has the loyalty of all his people.” Third person references denote self-importance.

The reprehensible twosome reassembles their entourage of cars and men, speeding off into the Near East dawn, each to his own clandestine objective.horizontal-line5

Fading automobile noises signal a reprieve for the severely exposed Aldona Afridi. He has spent the last hour clinging to the drive shaft of his ferry refuge, giving e tenuous lease on life. Bleeding from a flesh wound to his upper arm, due solely by regaining dry land, he needs to come with a more well thought out plan. There are signs that he has not been completely forgotten, the fresh siren sounds of activity, likely not from concerned ambulance medics, not mention the helicopters.

Where will he go, is the question of the moment? This nondescript and aptly unnamed tribal village has some 500,000 clansmen/women and not one would open their drafty homes to help a stranger, let alone a hunted one. The logical thing to do is to change his identity, but that is currently a longshot option.escape2-001

He decides that his best chance is on the other side of the river, bridges being few and far in-between, then take his chances from there. He needs to convince himself that lowering his body temperature once again is a good idea.

But that he does with a polar bear’s approach, so he tackles the fifty meter swim to provisional independence; independence not freedom, with freedom attained only with asylum status for him and his family at a rare Western Embassy.


THE RETURN TRIP

No Safe Haven by Larry Selman

No Safe Haven by Larry Selman

Episode 19


 

page 24

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 14

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 14

…A suddenly apprehensive Afridi gazes at the slow-moving water before him, the crescent moon reflecting back the ripples. He could not be party to stifling mankind’s advancement past it…

Image result for moon reflection on water

“To keep our solar system free of those who want to conquer it, we need the firing codes for the Sang-Ashi Probe,” The Sheikh is impatient.

“Sang-Ashi will protect itself, if the occasion warrants. I built in superior internal defenses,” Afridi is confused.

“We need to have manual control over it…..and we need it now!” The Sheikh’s arms are shaking angrily.

World Space Consortium

World Space Consortium

“You want access to the manual dump mode for the laser control!?” Trepidation replaces restlessness for Afridi. If all this is about sabotaging the World Space Consortium, of which Talibanistan and the United Korea Peninsula are not a part, he wants no part of any such strategy. To him personally, Space Colony 1 is to be exalted, not grudged with bad intent. The Sheikh and Nae Tan-Dan must be forgetting that the person they are asking to betray the World had expressly expressed interest in participating in the project they wish to destroy. “I have to get some air, to help me remember the code.”

“If you must Afridi, but you must be quick about it. Tan-Dan must leave for his country as soon as possible.”

Afridi is stalling, “I have too many passcodes in my brain, please excuse me.”

It is way past late at night, technically morning on this side of the planet and the men in the car are becoming annoyed with the delay. They go on conspiring with their mischievous machinations when Afridi toddles off to wrestle with his wits, albeit to contemplate a rueful ruse.

A suddenly apprehensive Afridi gazes at the slow-moving water before him, the crescent moon reflecting back the ripples… He knew the codes by heart… But his thoughts are dominated by his dearest Fatima and his two little girls… He could not be party to stifling mankind’s advancement past the Moon…

Vertical-001Adrenaline begins to spike into his bloodstream. For the first time in 15 years, rebellion not submission, takes hold of his spirit. He is 15 meters from the chilly stream when he decides to sprint toward the water, the soles of his shoes digging furiously into the loose gravel, spitting out pebbles with every determined stride. But for all his physical fitness he dreads the temperature of the chilly water ahead.Image result for bullets and water

He thinks about stopping short, giving one last glance over his shoulder, only to see that his sudden bolt had not gone unnoticed. Fortunately for him, there are no high-powered military weapons in the hands of his pursuers; who would think that a mild-mannered scientist would “go over the wall”, with Talibanistan’s most powerful Sheikh a stone’s throw away.

That element of surprise would be his only ally this evening. Once he dives into the river, swimming as fastVertical-001
as his clothed body would allow, gunfire from the lone small caliber handgun poke holes in the liquid swirling around him. The gun owner is a pretty fair marksman, prompting Afridi to assess his best option, which happens to be a ferryboat which is docked on the far bank of the river.

Things are not looking so good at the moment, yet it would get worse when one bullet grazed his left arm.
Temporarily stunned, he snatches safety from the jaws of peril. He rolls over to play dead, realistically sinking slowly under the red water and the belly of the powered passenger boat… which he remembers as having a hollowed out section to the aft that houses the propeller.

AIR!


  THE RETURN TRIP

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Episode 14


page 18 (end ch. 1)

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 13

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 13

…Excuse me Comrade Aldona; this is Comrade Nae Tan-Dan, our main liaison to the great nation of Korea and the constructor of our glorious plan…

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Aldona Afridi is becoming more restless by the second. Everything about this strange encounter has trouble written all over it.

Oddly, no one in the limo makes a move; the newcomers cover ground in a hurry to join an already crowded limo.mastermind-001

“It is good to see you again Sheikh Khan-Nutkani,” states the smallest of the group, speaking with an accent not indigenous to the region.

“Glory to Allah, Comrade Dan, I am hoping your news is as good as Comrade Afridi’s”

“It is even better; phase one of the operation has been carried out. Fredrick Cabell has been neutralized.” The dwarfish man sticks his chest out as if he were waiting for a medal to be pinned on it.

“Excellent, excellent; time is growing short Dan.”

Afridi suddenly has the feeling that there is a plan that he is not in on. And what is with all this “comrade” stuff all of a sudden.

“Oh excuse me Comrade Aldona; this is Comrade Nae Tan-Dan, our main liaison to the great nation of Korea and the constructor of our glorious plan.” Nutkani’s introduction is lavished with admiration.

“I was not aware we were working on the same project?” Afridi has a shrinking perception of just what the goals of the Sang-Ashi Probe are exactly.

“Let us say that you have your talents and I have mine.”

“Comrades, let me say that both of your talents will be needed to defeat the greatest threat to our stature in the world since the unlawful attacks on our founding state. That is why you are here; to help each of our nations stare down imperialism!” Khan-Nutkani refers to the endless Afghan War and inspired by the chance to settle the score. “Afridi, you hold the key; Comrade Tan Dan needs to open the door, and between us, we must slam the door on Universe Expansionism!”

Nae Tan-Dan seems to have a {short} leg up on Afridi and is poised to carry out a plan. Aldona Afridi is still mostly in the dark, but a sliver of light is seeping through some seedy cracks.Sang-Ashi Probe

“To keep our solar system free of those who want to conquer it, we need the firing codes for the Sang-Ashi Probe.”

“Sang-Ashi will protect itself, if the occasion warrants. I built in superior internal defenses.”

“We need to have manual control over it…..and we need it now!” The Sheikh’s arms are shaking angrily.


THE RETURN TRIP

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Expansionism by Robert Bertino

Episode 13


 

page 16

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 11

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 11

…Why yes, Shaikh Kamran Khan-Nutkani! Our Korean friends assure me that the invisibility cloak worked like a three-armed lucky Buddha

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Meanwhile

… that very same day, somewhere in Talibanistan, the geographical territory once occupied by: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan and all the other “-stans”

Sang-Ashi

“Tell us Afridi, are we sure that our Sang-Ashi Probe got through America’s Henchman Satellite Killer Network. Our source at their Pentagon tells us that that it was on high alert 7 months ago.”

Image result for mitAldona Afridi, MIT educated, has a particular set of talents where long-range satellites are concerned.

Why yes, Shaikh Kamran Khan-Nutkani! Our United Korean friends assure me that the invisibility cloak worked like a three-armed lucky Buddha.”

The Shaikh is as intimidating as he looks; lavishly robed, weathered by years of mountain life and a radical Muslim to his very core. He has a calculating glint in his eye.

Nutkani

The Talibanistani’s foremost expert in laser technology squirms uneasily in a normally comfortable seat, but then again an armored limousine rarely is used to hold a sensitive meeting of such world-changing magnitude. Neither is Afridi at home with himself, having invested his design talents to construct an infamous weapon. He is also collaborating with the famously treacherous Koreans, which does nothing to soothe his restless conscience.

“Our alliance with Korea is essential to the success of our goal,” the Shaikh reminds the man, an arm’s length away.

“Our satellite is safe and ready to take out the spy satellite that has been making our alliance so miserable.”


THE RETURN TRIP

Hotbed for Mischief

Episode 11


page 13

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