We’ve reached the first Patreon fundraising milestone, so I’ve uploaded the first OtherSpace clip show PDF featuring excerpts from RP scenes that took place between 1999 and 2002. You may see some familiar names in there! Clip Show No. 1 is available to all, but only patrons will have access to subsequent clip shows.
Just wanted to thank the folks who RPed with Panderyn (and Albert the station AI) during the Extra Life marathon. Specifically: Maxwell, Reynaldus, Tilsworth, Kinako, and Maurice. I had fun and I hope you did too! Plus, we raised $880 for kids at Duke Children’s Hospital. Huzzah! Donations are accepted until Dec. 31, BTW!
Through the window, the first construction shuttle can be seen angling away from the station on its way back to Earth after successfully attaching the medical pod.
Maurice sits at the large window. The Texan’s hat floats above his head. “God’s speed.” He murmurs.
“Attention, Ulm Station personnel,” states the voice of Omar Panderyn over the public address system. “I’m getting reports of power fluctuations in the couplings between the crew compartment and the medical bay. We’re going to postpone linkage with the military pod until this is sorted out.”
“We got a military pod..?” Maurice says this in his head of course. He isn’t an insane man speaking to himself and all… most days… as long as the Oak Ridge Boys aren’t playing. The Texan starts to move for said junction once his wits are about him.
“Initiating,” comes a digitized male voice from a nearby console.
“What are ya Initiating there guy?!” Maurice cries out as he flies towards junction. The big ole Texan tries to dodge and juke his way there. “Good thing Doc-chan is asleep…”
“I’m Albert,” the voice replies. “Artificial intelligence. I was uploaded to Ulm Station to provide assistance in management of the facilities.”
“Well… Al.. what seems to be our problem?” Maurice asks out loud. The Texan tries to catch himself on a door way. “Are we.. ya know.. fleshy types all gonna kick the bucket or ya all playin with these announcements?”
“I detect no significant problems aboard the station,” Albert answers. “I am in the process of rerouting power to balance the dispersion. The new equipment in the medical pod is a bit of a drain.”
“No shit! Doc-chan showed me things that broke the god damn Geneva Convention. Ya ask me this here homo-pathio…. whatever aint nearly as fun as ya run of the mill Homo-se…. How about them Dallas Cowboys in the World Football League?!” The Texan’s ‘stach twitches. “You got a rec room hidden anywhere?”
“Your dialect requires more rigorous filtering,” Albert states. “If I understand the inquiry correctly, Ulm Station does not, at present, include a recreation facility among its amenities.”
“That would be West Texas….. West Texas… aint a draw really.. or a… shit.. aint Mid American either…” Maurice seems to be deep in thought for a short time. “Label it under Maurice speak for now.” H offers in time. “I figured the station wouldn’t have anything fun at the moment. If ya are a big ole brain case.. ya tell me anything of value from the high and mighty’s ftl program? I might be a test chimp but I figure I deserve the basics.”
“I am awaiting input from Mr. Panderyn as to the appropriate clearance levels for all station personnel,” Albert states. “Until then, I am not permitted to release data contained within classified files.”
“Bondvillian-sama…” Maurice nods his head slightly. “That sounds just about right Al. What interesting things can ya tell me? Play Texas Hold em?”
“My programming does include a collection of holographic games of chance,” Albert confirms.
Maurice chuckles slightly. “Any booze reserve and drinking games included?”
“None that I am aware of,” Albert replies.
“That figures really.” Maurice replies with a small chuckle. “Well ya are a super computer and all… Given the current state of tech and application of said tech.. what is the current life span of a test pilot?”
“It depends on the pilot,” the AI replies.
Maurice nods his head. “Gonna figure you have my records and field reports… reports about me.” The Texan says. “I figure nothin about me life is secret from you.”
“Actually, I am awaiting upload of personnel records,” Albert states. “Mr. Panderyn is slumbering. He may upload the data during the morning shift. Would you like an analysis after that?”
Maurice’s ‘stache twitches and he nods his head. “Gotta make sure I am the right pilot and not the right pilot at the right time.” He murmurs. “Using the data you have at hand, what do you project our odds of making it past the light speed barrier?”
“Slim,” Albert replies. “Realistically, it is possible that a potentially viable theory may be developed aboard Ulm Station. It is largely impractical, however, to translate that into functioning technology with broad applications.”
“A fucking star drive isn’t going to make for toaster ovens.” Maurice shakes his head. “We get this to work it is going to be used for impractical stuff like banging sexy green men. Slim is better than… well spending the week end in Waco.”
“I have never spent a weekend in Waco,” Albert replies. “Thus, I lack a proper frame of reference to understand.”
“Waco is… it is the end of the world.” Maurice offers with a twitch of his moustache. “I suppose Plano is a little…… If mankind is limited to earth, the moon and Mars, how much longer can we exepect survive?”
“Mankind faced eradication while simply dwelling on Earth,” Albert states. “Colonizing Luna and Mars radically improved humanity’s chances for long-term survival on a cosmic scale. However, Sol must necessarily perish in the distant future. Remaining here is not a permanently viable solution. It is critical that humanity pursue a future beyond this star.”
Maurice lifts a brow at this answer and slowly nods his head. “We leave the nest or die..” He flicks his hat back and rubs his forehead. “That makes the whole of the world a lot easier doesn’t it? We just have to convince the remaining bigwigs. We grow beyond now or we strangle and die.”
“That seems accurate,” the AI responds.
“I could rap that in a bow.” Maurice replies with a rueful chuckle. “How likely would it be that we ran into a habitial system.. or alien life in our first say… hundred tests of a real FTL?”
“Alien life, quite likely,” Albert says. “Sentient alien life with a developed civilization that warrants first contact – exceedingly slim.”
“I get ya. We are more than likely to meet a fern than orange Captain Kirk right?” Maurice replies. “Not suprise. Alien life of a level like us or higher… do we play idiots or assume the best in them? I don’t imagine a middle ground. We trust in ET or blow him off.”
“I am ill-equipped for matters of diplomacy,” the AI confesses.
Maurice’s stach twitches. “And several other things as well as I imagine.” He says. “I don’t imagine you can dispense gin or tonice either.” He adds. “How did you decide you were a male AI? They make you that way? Could you be a sassy lady if you wanted?”
“I was programmed with this voice and this personality,” Albert replies. “It is possible that I could be reprogrammed with different parameters.”
“Possible but not with my talent or lack thereof.” Maurice says with a small small. “What can you tell me of this military pod? Is there any danger of us needing to knife fight up here? Seems like an odd module for a peaceful station.”
“Uncertain,” the AI replies. “Power fluctuations are marginalized. Entering conservation mode for now. Thank you for your attention.”
“You too buddy. Let me know when I have to kiss my own ass away in the near future.” Maurice grins.
Omar Panderyn drifts into the lab, PDA in one hand, as he speaks into a commlink: “Acknowledged. Awaiting their arrival. Panderyn out.”
Maxwell looks up from his computer chair, something paused on screen momentarily. “Morning.”
“Morning,” the station chief replies with a smile. “What’s our status?”
Maxwell stretches a bit “Just reviewing the results of the simulation Tillsworth came up with.”
Omar Panderyn lifts an eyebrow. “Oh, really? Good news, I hope.”
Maxwell shrugs, resuming the playback. “Good’s always relative. It looks like it could get us past the FTL barrier, but only barely. And of course, there’s the issue of how to generate the field this idea requires. So, it’s a start.”
Omar Panderyn nods. “How apocalyptic is it likely to be? I’ve started to hear some rumblings from the zealots.”
Maxwell looks thoughtful for a moment “Well, it does seem to involve creating a small detached universe around the vessel. So there’s an outside chance of that displacing *this* universe. Definitely something to keep an eye on in simulations.”
Omar Panderyn frowns. “Creating a small detached universe. I’m really going to have to nuance that press release.”
Tilsworth floats into the lab in time to catch the last statement. A bit of a chuckle. “In layman’s terms… the technical description would be perhaps an isolated autonomous region created by a resonance energy field of variable power.” he says as he grabs onto a handle to steady himself. “The more power put into the field, the greater the ‘detachment’, and thus the greater reduction of what you could consider ‘friction’ with the normal universe. I have the formulas worked out in my clipboard if you’d like to peruse them.” he offers sincerely.
“Transmit them to my PDA, encrypted as usual,” Panderyn replies with a nod. “Sounds like you’re doing good work. How will you test the theory?”
Maxwell looks to Tilsworth, curious about the answer as well.
“A good question, young man, but one that I have given thought.” Tilsworth says, floating over to a terminal to bring up a display. On it appears his simulation. “Naturally a battery of simulated tests is in order to ensure there are no unforeseen parameters.” The screen then shifts to a block diagram of the theoretical components of such a system. “Once the theoreticals are sound, I propose that Mr. Maxwell and I put our brains together to design the physical components of the system. We then construct a small, unmanned probe which contains a prototype of the system.” He then floats back over to the two. “For security purposes, I would propose we do such a test from the very fringes of the asteroid belt… outside of prying eyes.” He, Panderyn, and Maxwell are in the lab having a discussion.
“The asteroid belt isn’t without prying eyes,” Panderyn replies. “Freighters come and go at all hours. If we want to go unbothered, perhaps it would be best to try our luck near, say, Mercury.”
Maxwell nods. “Well, quite.”
Tilsworth puts a hand to his chin. “Hmm.. yes… a good point…” he says.
Raynaldus drifts into the lab compartment. He looks around and quickly spots the group and heads over to them. “Hello everyone, how are things?”
“It seems like we’re on the road to a prototype device for testing,” Panderyn says. “That’s exceedingly good news. I’m also happy to report that the pods needed to expand Ulm Station into the next phase should be in orbit later today.”
Maxwell nods. “Kinako will be pleased to hear that. What’s coming up apart from a medical facility?”
“The medical facility is the primary pod we’re receiving today,” Panderyn says. “I’ve also agreed to accept a defense contingent on the recommendation of General Jensen. I’m not fond of mingling military and scientific endeavors, but given your progress, perhaps it’s best to ensure that we have a few trained soldiers aboard.”
“A sound precaution. I agree that military types tend to be rather… single minded… but I must admit to a lack of being able to do more than give someone a good tickling with my punches.” Tilsworth says with a sheepish shrug.
“What will these soldier have to defend us with?” Raynaldus asks. “Because other than the tools we have lying around or our hands and feet, I don’t see anything I could use to defend with.”
Maxwell shrugs “Long as they don’t mess up the equipment.”
“The Vanguard pod includes a small arsenal equipped with weapons that are suited for zero-g and atmosphere-sensitive environments,” Panderyn says. “I’m going to review a few reports and let Mr. Busby know about your potential breakthrough. Good work.” He starts drifting toward the main cabin.
Tilsworth is presently situated at one of the simulator terminals, running in several columns of figures carefully calculated on paper which is floating nearby on his clipboard.
Maxwell floats on in from the other room, a notebook and retractable pen in one hand.
After a few minutes pass, Kinako drifts by the hatch leading to the main cabin. She tilts her head, expression quizzical and curious. “Ah, konbanwa, good evening, Tilsworth-san, Maxwell-san. Ah, how are you this evening?”
“Good evening my dear, Mr. Maxwell.” Tilsworth says with a smile. “I am doing wonderfully. In fact this zero gravity is quite refreshing.. not so much pressure on my aching spine.”
Maxwell grabs on to a chair by one of those workin terminals, nodding to Kinako as he does. “Evening all. What’s on the agenda?”
Kinako blinks a few times, and shrugs. “I, ah, I do not know. Although perhaps this question was not directed to me, and I am mistaken. May I, ah… I will try to stay out of the way… it is just very quiet in the station and I have become somewhat lonesome.”
“A good question, young man.” Tilsworth says. “I believe as far as starting our FTL development, logic would suggest we devise the basic theory behind FTL propulsion. I have a few particular ideas in that arena, and I was about to test one of them in the simulator.”
Maxwell nods to Tilsworth “Seems a good place to start. No point in spending half a year trying to make it work via picking ideas from a hat.” Then looks back to Kinako “Ah… yeah, I can see how that could happen up here. You’re more than welcome to stay, of course. Perhaps we could all find a game of some sort when the evening’s work is done?”
Kinako pulls herself carefully into the room, drifting along the periphery until she finds a perch by the grand bay window. She tucks an errant tendril of hair back under the little cap she’s been wearing to prevent the station from being overtaken by her hair. “Arigatou, I thank you. Aah, unfortunately I do not know anything… at all to do with… propulsion. Also it is very difficult to prepare food or tea in zero gravity. Everyone is, ah, keeping up on their exercises? We do not wish to risk muscular atrophy.” She smiles gently to Maxwell. “I did bring a Go set cleared for this environment.”
“Hmm… I was a mean poker player in my youth.” Tilsworth says with a grin as he enters in the last column of figures. The simulation begins to take shape.
Maxwell smirks as he looks over at the simulation “Sure, but did you bring cards that aren’t going to just float off everywhere up here? Oh yes, lots of excersizing …Go? Don’t believe I’m familiar with that one.”
“Ah, it is a game for two players, and ah, it involves a board, with a… a grid on it, and the players alternately place black and white playing pieces on the intersecting points on the grid. The object is to claim a greater, ah, territory than your opponent, and ends when neither player wishes to make another move. It dates back to the Zhou dynasty in China,” Kinako offers, arranging herself so that she may have a comfortable view of both the window and the conversants. “There are intricacies, of course, capturing your opponent’s pieces, ensuring that no moves return the board to a previous position, and so on. It is rather simple to learn, but, as it is said, many lifetimes to master.”
“I recall playing it once or twice but never regularly.” Tilsworth says as he starts to enter in parameters for the simulation. He looks to Maxwell with a grin. “Indeed.. but perhaps an electronic version on our PDAs may suffice.”
Maxwell nods a few times as things go into the simulator. “Yeah, we may well have to resort to PDA for any card games we care to engage in. Go sounds like it might be interesting, though.”
Kinako leans back and idly pushes the beads of her bracelet between the fingers of her opposite hand. Click, clack. “I would also be willing to learn card games, since we could all play at once and it may take less time to learn? Likely we will have time to do both, eventually. So, ah, what are you… simulating?”
Tilsworth enters in the last few parameters. “My basic theory involves a tuned energy field projected from the travelling vessel. When it achieves the proper resonance, this ‘bubble’ will begin to accelerate taking the enclosed vessel with it. At this point I am focusing entirely on the field itself… how we generate it, that is a different story.”
Maxwell nods thoughtfully as he leans back in his chair “How is this bubble going to get us around the light barrier? Definitely plenty of time for us to all learn some new games.”
After a long period of quiet, broken only by the soft click-clack of beads, Kinako puts on a sheepish, ‘I have no idea what people are talking about’ expression. For what it’s worth, she listens attentively, even if the combined language and technical barriers are rendering the discussion clearly incomprehensible.
“It is my belief, and of course, given the vast unknown we are entering into, I could be woefully wrong, that the field will have the effect of ‘detaching’ the vessel from normal space, in essence creating its own miniature universe. Once detached, the standard engines of the ship propel this bubble at potentially limitless speed, hampered only by the power of the engines themselves and the power available for the field itself.” Tilsworth says. “This, I believe, is the basic concept, in that the ship, by some means we have yet to determine, must be taken out of what we consider the usual laws of space and time.”
Maxwell blinks a couple times “So… we’re going to try creating a tiny universe? Huh. And here I’d thought that the people yelling about scientists playing god all the time were full of it. This could be fun!”
Kinako blinks a few times. It takes a bit for her to wrap her thought processes around the ideas being merrily tossed to and fro across the workstations. “So, by ascending beyond the universe, one is able to… bypass the things such as friction, distance, and time?”
“That is the basic theory, my dear.” Tilsworth says with a smile to Kinako. “The field in essence does create a separate entity from the regular universe. Inside normal physics apply, but outside, it travels as freely. I would only hope that we don’t end up creating some sort of proto-universe… we could create one that squeezes out our own universe and displace it.. hmm.” he says, and looks very serious when he says that.
Maxwell nods “Well, on the bright side, if that does happen… we’ll essentially be in charge.”
Kinako’s expression brightens considerably when she realizes that she’s actually grasped the concept. Predictably, the expression then falls. “…aaah, that, that does not sound good. Things can make a terrible, ah, mess, when they are displaced.”
“Granted the chances of such a thing occurring are extremely remote.” Tilsworth says. “If the theory proves sound, then how do we project such a field, that is the question.”
Maxwell tils his head curiously “Well, yes. It would be. For now though, let’s see what that simulation comes up with. No point in fussing over the hows if the math doesn’t work out.”
Kinako looks -mildly- less distressed, although clearly her mind is going places that she’s not sure she would like to, or for that matter should, be going. Now and again she makes a thoughtful little ‘hnn’ noise.
“Let us find out..” Tilsworth says, activating the simulation. On the screen, a rather familiar looking vessel appears, possessing a saucer and a couple of nacelles. Around it the simulated field forms, and a series of figures display the field’s intensity and power level. At first, nothing appears to happen, but once the field achieves the right resonance frequency, it begins to accelerate off the screen at a rather high rate of speed.
Maxwell watches intently.
Kinako also watches intently, with the guarded posture of someone watching what might potentially be a scary movie.
Tilsworth watches as the ship’s speed increases rapidly. Slowly it approaches the speed of light. Once it reaches that threshold, it suddenly accelerates very rapidly, but it tops out at just over one and a half the speed of light. “Curious…” Tilsworth says. “Still… it did exceed the speed of light, just not by much.”
Maxwell nods “Hrm. Well, certainly a step in the right direction.”
Kinako glances between the screen, Tilsworth, and Maxwell. She smiles, apologetically, and shrugs.
“More research is indicated, but I believe it is a direction to start.” Tilsworth says, resetting the simulation. “Now then… who’s up for cards?”
Maxwell stretches “Sure thing.”
Kinako blinks a few times, coming back from wherever the contemplation of interuniverse tomfoolery had brought her. “Cards? Ah, all right, I can play Koi-Koi, or Karuta, or Buta-no-shippo, or… er. Something American, perhaps? I am willing to learn.”
“Perhaps a bit of poker.” Tilsworth says. “It’s rather simple to learn, but much like Go, a lifetime to master.” he says with a grin.
Maxwell nods “Partial to hearts, but we’d need a fourth for that. Poker’s fine.”
Kinako reaches carefully into a pocket on her jumpsuit and fishes forth her PDA. “Poker… po-ker… ahh, I have found… oh my. Which, ah, -variation- of poker would we be playing?”
“Five card stud, nothing wild.” Tilsworth says. “In fact I have a version programmed into my PDA that will allow us to link ours together and play.”
“Five… card… stud?” Kinako seems somewhat puzzled by the wordplay there, but she shrugs and goes to find the ‘local ad hoc multiplayer’ setting on her PDA. “Er… all right, I am presently scanning for available games?”
Tilsworth activates his PDA to start a gaming session that the other PDAs should pick up.
Maxwell quickly gets his pda set to find the game.
Kinako waits patiently until the game ‘room’ pops up on her screen, and activates it. Her avatar is a very ‘chibi’ version of herself, with a long fox-tail ponytail strung with ribbons. It waves and offers a cheerful “Ohaiyo” via speech bubble.
Tilsworth’s avatar is a picture of Einstein sticking his tongue out. “Very well then… you’ll see along the side the various hands to strive for. Whoever has the highest ranked hand wins. Should be straightforward enough.”
Maxwell quickly cycles through a few avatars, settling on an overly cute penguin in a bowler hat. “We wagering anything tonight?”
Kinako spends a quantity of time studying the cards on the sidebar. Her little avatar fans out the cards and goes cross-eyed. A little bubble pops up over her head with a depiction of a throbbing headache in it. “Aah… I do not have much to offer, although I did bring a small selection of vacuum-sealed wagashi – sweets? I would be willing to wager a few, if that is how it is done?”
“Ah, that would give literal meaning to a sweet victory.” Tilsworth says with a grin. “I can wager some peppermint candies I brought along.”
Maxwell nods “Pretty sure I’ve got a modest pile of butterscotch discs I can put forth.”
Kinako spends an amount of time observing her face-down card. She’s got the ‘poker-face’ thing down, at least. Her face up card is the four of clubs. “Aah, I will wager… a green tea mochi ball…”
Tilsworth checks his own card. “Indeed… I’ll raise you two peppermints.” he says with a grin, as the game gets underway.