The NULL Solution = Episode 149

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The NULL Solution = Episode 149

…Have you talked to Deke about this, he is the expert on extragalactic relations you know…

Skaldic the Null is no longer considered a black sheep in these parts, even less so, now that her brother’s mate/wife has managed to integrate an entire world. ‘It works for Deke. Why not me? I think he likes me. He is so much like my father; bold not overbearing, adventurous not reckless, smart not smarmy and not too hard on the eyes either.’  She is comparing notes from the experiences related to her by Mamma Celeste, recounting the circumstances that created the person Deimostra is today – the original Earth-child-of-space.

Of course she has that “talk” with her mother. “In case you don’t remember the story, I met your father back at the Space Academy. I always thought he was a bit arrogant, one of those hotshot pilots who think they are the bulletproof. So here I am, space-sick to the max, in a lift-off simulator and this joker is pretending to be a doctor of all things. He takes me to the infirmary… very convincing, but I knew who he really was. He was just trying to get to know me at the time but that didn’t matter. I could never get that guy out of my mind.

“To snip what is a much longer story, when the Space Colony 1 project was being staffed, we got to spend more time together and not long after that we were married. As it

World Space Consortium

turned out the Space Colony Global Coalition or World Space Consortium or INDEPENDENT FOUNDATION FOR THE OCCUPATION OF SPACE or whatever they call it now, was looking for a married couple to go to Mars… and you know the rest of the story.”

“Yeah you couldn’t keep your hands off each other and here I am!”

“I was marooned, pregnant and hijacked, not necessarily in that order. How’s that for a merry 2030?” Celeste can tell her daughter is serious about a “boy”. “Does Skaldic know… Related imageit is Skaldic right… does he know that you have the hots for him?”

“Mother!”

“Well you wouldn’t be grilling me about the love of my life unless you were having similar notions. Have you talked to Deke about this? He is the expert on extragalactic relations you know.”

“He still considers me his kid sister. I am not going to ask him if he knows anything about Skaldic’s physiology.”

“He and Cerella figured it out, honey. I suggest that you let nature run its course; Que sera, sera.”


The NULL Solution =

Episode 149


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The NULL Solution = Episode 2

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The NULL Solution = Episode 2

…Deke is gone and SEx {ÊS ÊX, its demonstrative nickname} is off-the-charts fast, with a reinforced hull and a molecular stabilizer that we didn’t even know existed…

–It is currently 2051 and much has transpired in the intervening two decades:

 

  • Mars has been visited by 17 probes and landers from numerous countries, but remains unoccupied by any human being

    World Space Consortium

  • Thanks to the New Mayflower’s rescue attempt and ultimate exploration, a plethora of firsthand insights about The Red Planet have been executed
  • The World Space Consortium has disbanded due to the distaste of human lives being “lost”
  • There have been 3 more Commander-in-Chiefs since Prez Roy, all of whom have a vested curiosity about the SOL Project

“What about the cabin security? What do those cameras show?”

“Nothing after you guys lit the fuse, Gus, nothing until you made the Pluto turnaround. The funny thing is, we could not access that video feed until after you landed. Either way the result is the same,” Roy recaps, Deke is gone and SEx {ÊS ÊX, its demonstrative nickname} is off-the-charts fast, with a reinforced hull and a molecular stabilizer that we didn’t even know existed – isn’t that right Fitch?”

The man formerly known as Aldona Afridi tries unsuccessfully to mask his humiliation. Back in Talibanistan, they and the Koreans would have banished him to the rugged winter mountains for his lack of explanation. “We never considered the change in molecular structure of the human body as it crosses the SOL barrier.  I only calculated g-forces. How could I overlook molecular structure?”

“None of us did, Fletch, no need to beat yourself up.”

“What would have happened without a molecular stabilizer,” Francine is cautiously curious, “one body, two bodies or no bodies?

“Look dear, we’ve got Gus and we’ll have to guess the rest.”

His mother by any other name, she hugs Gus McKinney as tightly as she can. He will have to do for now. Deke McKinney is formally considered MIA, however unexplained.

The rest of the world cannot know the puzzling outcome of mankind’s first jaunt to the edge of the Solar System, at least for the time being.


The NULL Solution =

Episode 2


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 184

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 184

…we have lost not only two of our finest astronauts, but the very first colonists on another planet…

Roy Crippen takes his turn as, mourner, moderator and commemorator.

“I do know Sampson and Celeste McKinney and I can proudly say that they counted me as their friend. To know them is to know the definition of reliability. If I had a dollar for every time I heard them say, ‘You can count on us.’ I would be materially rich beyond measure.

“As Braden King would tell you,” he points at BK sitting between the boys, “there isn’t anything they would not do for their country and their space program. And if we could hear them now, they would be telling us, ‘Do not stop with Space Colony 1. You must press on; you must come out and be with us.”

He pauses to reflect on what space exploration is all about.

“When one decides to become a working astronaut, there are certain things you must come to terms with in your mind. Topping that list and there is little question as to its reality, is that constant companion of dealing with the speculative unknown: d-e-a-t-h. We at NASA, as well as our global partners at the World Space Consortium, deal with technology at its finest, but because of the distances involved and other uncontrollable factors, danger is:

  1. one step behind every single manned mission
  2. when we step out of a vehicle exceeding 100,000 feet of altitude
  3. each time we take that next step baby step closer to the edge of the solar system

“I need not remind you of the Challenger or Columbia and the brave men and women who gave their lives. Did they believe they would return to Earth safely? Yes they did. Did they know there was a possibility that they wouldn’t? Yes they did.

“We have gone 27 years without a fatality in space. We now find ourselves coming to grips with terrible realization that we have lost not only two of our finest astronauts, but the very first colonists on another planet

“…. both were keenly aware of the perils they would be facing. Did they know that Space Colony 1 was destroyed by jealously and hate not a meteor or electrical malfunction? No probably not.”


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 184


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 32

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 32

…Four armed guards charge out of the left-hinged gate, the one in the lead asking, “Are you Aldona Afridi?”…

turkish-taxi-001

All in all, Afridi has time to loosen the noose around his neck, having left the hardest roads behind. That he lives to tell the tale is testimony to his firm resolve and evidence of his good fortune.

The homemade taxi pulls up to the gates of the Ahmet Mosque, tall and unwelcoming. Four armed guards are-you-001charge out of the left-hinged gate, the one in the lead asking, “Are you Aldona Afridi?”

“I didn’t know what he was up to, I swear,” pleads the spineless driver, once an ally.

“Not you Cabbie! We are from the American Consulate, called here by your wife, she told us you would be coming.” Those are Marine uniformed men. “Pulls that hunk of junk into that garage and leave the keys with the Sergeant.”

Naturally they comply, while being led inside, then left alone. The young Turk comments, “Whoever you are or whatever you know, I am impressed Saied.”

“Fatima, my dear Fatima,” Afridi prays aloud.

“Your fat mother?”

He needs to fill in the gaping blanks, “My name is Aldona Afridi and my wife Fatima and my two daughters are probably inside somewhere.”

“And mine is Mehmet Ali Erim,” they embrace like old friends. “I own a taxi, what do you do?”

“I am a scientist not a criminal, and there evil men chasing me!”

“I am intrigued, but not surprised Saied Al. You act like a man with a scorpion in your pants.”

“Do not tell Mr. Erim anything else,” the embassy guards warn.

“They know my name!”Image result for spy

“They may have been listening when you introduced yourself,” Afridi remarks, being the “seasoned spy” that he has become.

 

They are escorted into the catacombs of the 3rd Century structure and shown separate rooms. The two shake hands, not knowing what the future holds.

Mehmet Ali Erim is briefly debriefed as a precaution and released to the streets and his next fare.

Aldona Afridi is grilled on a number of subjects, none of which mention his defection, so it is he who asks, “May I see my family and when can I speak to someone about the Space Colony?”space-colony-banner-001

The team of inquisitors is headed by Elliot Deming, Consulate General of the Turkish delegation based in Ankara. The very tall middle-aged American political appointee paces in front of Aldona, knowing that he has not heard the whole story. “The Ambassador to Turkey is scheduled to arrive in another hour. We cannot move on your wife’s suspicious information until the Ambassador personally speaks with the Secretary of State.”

“What I have to say cannot wait…I would not have risked my family’s lives for anything less!”

“We have to fully vet your story, I hope you understand?”

“No.” This is no time for governmental red tape. He hangs his weary and exasperated head.


THE RETURN TRIP

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Episode 32


 

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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


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