OtherSpace Reboot: Prognosis

The Ebola Browndell crisis continues in the Cape Canaveral spaceport…

The good news is that special lamps and herbal tea remedies seem to have helped, at the very least, slow the onset of symptoms for people in the base. But reports from the brig indicate that the Texan saboteur has started showing flu-like symptoms consistent with the early stages of Ebola.

Maurice seems to have found himself a pair of toy guns over the past few days. The Texan his currently trying to raise the spirits of a few kiddies by doing his best amusement part cowboy act. Twirling guns and plenty of yipee ki-yays.

Kinako has been busily ferrying a variety of improvised medical supplies, in what can only be called the ‘whole spectrum’ of medical tech levels, between the impromptu residences and the clinic. She is haphazardly dressed in borrowed scrubs, and managed to stuff all of her hair under a cap. “Yes,” she is murmuring into a comm. “Coagulants to begin, to stave off organ damage, and then anticoagulants if the patient progresses to the bleeding stage. Apply the poultices to any wounds, whether they appear infected or not. Can you get authorization to attempt nonstandard usage of clomiphene? Also check vaccination records, if any of your staff have gone overseas they may have received it. Try and limit contact with the ah, patient zero.” She listens intently, and then nods. “Whatever you feel is necessary. I would only save her life to rob her of her martyrdom and will not advocate for her in any case. Arigatou.” She takes a breath. “Ah, konnichiwa, Mister Maurice-sir. Thank you for providing entertainment. I have shamefully lost track of who I have been apple to apply preventative kinesiotherapy tape to. Have I gotten to you, ah, yet?”

Maxwell wanders in, doodling something on a scrap of paper.

The familiar and somewhat comforting hum of the central air system dissipates to silence.

“Kineso-whosit tape?” Maurice asks out the corner of his mouth. The Texan tries to juggle a toy gun over his shoulder and fails. As the gun clatters to the floor his handlebar mustache twitches in dismay. There is a few tired blinks and he looks around. “Well…. lookin like its gonna be another scorcher with a/c there Missus Kinako.”

“Miss is more appropriate, Mister Maurice-sir…” Kinako says, brow furrowing as she looks up at the silent vents. “…ah, the ventilation system should still be distributing humidified air, even if it is not terribly cool,” she murmurs, and shakes her head, drawing a thin roll of blue fabric tape from her duffel of improvised medical supplies. “Well, ah, if you would, over to the bench, pull up the back of your, ah, shirt? I will apply this tape to your back in a pattern meant to minimize the force of any cough that may develop. You may not, I am merely being cautious. Many of the people who have reported feeling unwell are suffering, ah, psychosomatosis at the moment.”

Maxwell looks up as the air goes all quiet and sighs.

Mid-stride as he is stepping out of the Apollo lounge, the General looks up at the vents as the HVAC system decides today is a day to take a vacation. Frowning, he starts to make his way towards Kinako after a quick scan of the room.

Maurice shrugs his shoulders as he reaches down to pick up the plastic gun. “Gittin to that time aye?” The Texan murmurs, his stache wiggling. “Well might as well git all the help I can.” He starts towards a bench and hikes up the back of his shirt.

Kinako pulls something up on her PDA, and puts the strap in her teeth, squinting at the camera view while splaying her fingers carefully across Maurice’s back. “Kinwy breef deefly, pleeth,” she muffles, as a wavy pattern of lines starts to unfold on the small screen. “Gemmral Jenthen-thrr, ith conthern, air’th thoffed.”

“Because it’s ground zero! Or close enough. We -have- to be here.” It seems like the second half of a conversation can be heard as a group of people clad in white lab-coats enters from one of the security checkpoints.

“Yeah, but why -here- here. Can’t we just get Simon and Jeff to collect samples…” Whines one of the scientists, neither of them have the sort of posture that speaks of military training and discipline. The whiny one, a twenty something year old with a round face and crooked glasses is holding a huge stack of notes and folders to her chest, a pack slung over one shoulder clinking with various specimen jars and medical equipment.

“Jeff and Simon are sick.” The first scientist replies, frowning. “Anyway it’s not my decision, if it were my decision you know we’d both be back in New York.”

“F-fine… guess we should find out who’s in charge…” The woman replies, scrunching up her face.

Jensen raises an eyebrow as he tries to mentally translate most of then Strapinteeth, and horribly fails, but does manage to pick out ‘air’. “Someone better not be sleeping on the job.” he grumbles, a hand wiping off a few beads of sweat from his brow. His commlink is taken out and activated. “Jensen to maintenance, what the hell is going on in there?”

Maxwell finds himself a good spot to sit down on, and uses that scrap of paper he’d been doodling on as a fan instead.

The crewman in maintenance responds to Jensen: “Not much, sir. Everything’s offline. We think it’s a virus in the computers that run the air handlers.”

Maurice takes in a nice big breath and slowly exhales it. The man in military uniform gets a glance but the Texan keeps whatever comments he has to himself.

Jenny, one of the new scientist-looking types to arrive, takes a look around. She’d have her hands on her hips if they weren’t occupied holding a massive pile of papers, books and equipment some of which looks ready to spill from her arms as it is. Her and the others obviously lack any sort of military training, they slouch and strain under the weight of their equipment, not that it’s much. She blows one of her long bangs of blue-black hair from her face and sighs. “I’m still not used to Florida heat… but this is an airport, you’d think they’d have AC.” She comments to her companion who has already turned his back to her and started walking off to do something useful. Jenny shrugs and wanders across to the central fountain, it’s as good a place as any to dump her gear and wait for someone to tell her what to do.

Kinako slips her hand through the PDA strap and starts unrolling tape, laying it out in a matching web-like pattern across Maurice’s back. With a tilt of her head against her shoulder she activates her flashing comm and makes an inquisitive noise into it. “Hmm? Ah, yes, viscous cetylpyridinium chloride, sprayed into the oral cavity. Up to three times daily, yes. Did you manage to find bananas? Ahh, very good, yes, let us mash those, mixed with manuka honey into… fifty-five gram… err, quarter-cup servings and freeze. Arigatou.” She blinks at the new arrivals and makes as much of a small bow as she can with both of her hands occupied with weblike strands of kinesiotherapy tape. “Ah, hello… I would express that I am glad you are able to join us but it is not under the best circumstances and not as though you have much in the way of choice. I am Omoiyari Kinako, and am likely the familiar voice that has been making many hopefully helpful orders over the communications, yes?” General Jensen gets a plaintive look. “The ah, terrorist is symptomatic. If someone is going to re-activate the air systems I would highly recommend limiting ventilation from the… brig? Has anyone been able to… ah, get information from her?”

Jensen lets out a few colorful metaphors before activating the commlink again. “Then get the damn tech heads down there and get the damn thing OUT of the computer.” he snarls, and shuts it off, looking back to Kinako. “They’ll get re-activated or heads will roll. As for information… nothing. She’s got her lips locked tighter than a Scot’s wallet.”

The public address system crackles to life, playing “Deep in the Heart of Texas.”

Maxwell blinks a few times, and mutters something about the musical taste of people who run PA systems.

Jenny perks up as she’s addressed by what is indeed a familiar voice. She looks over the young woman quickly, a smile reaching her lips. “Oh yes! Hey there, I’m Jennifer Koda, a pleasure to meet you sir, ma’am! Sorry about just popping in like this, you know what they say about the government, ma’am sir. Left hand doesnt know what the right is doing and all. Me and Wayne here,” Jenny motions with her head since both hands seem occupied, “Have been told to help out with the quarantine procedures. Just lemme…” She shifts a little, trying to hold both the incredibly amount of documents she’s carrying as well as fish out her PDA and ID from the top pocket of her coat. “Almost got it…” Jenny sticks her tongue out. This goes on for some time as the music goes right over her head.

Maurice blinks a few times as he lowers his shirt. The Texan’s stache twitches and a ghost of a smile crosses his lips. “The stars at night are big and bright….” He hums to himself. “Runner up for the national anthem of Texas wouldn’t you know?” He then coughs lightly. “Probably not a good sign.”

“You may, ah, pop wherever it is necessary; I do not think anyone is going to stand upon formality with us all trapped here. It is nice to meet you, Miss Jennifer Koda. Thank you for your assistance and compassion.” Kinako says, bowing again and offering a small unmarked spray bottle. “It is an oral antiseptic, and good to prevent proliferation of airborne germs. I apologize that it tastes like soggy lemons and mint… there were only a few bottles of the commercial preparation available here. Please ah, share it with Mister Maurice-sir…” She turns to Maurice, and says, quite seriously, “You are only feeling as if you have to cough because your mind expects you to. Your temperature is not yet elevated and you have no other signs of infection. Breathe gently, and allow the tape to guide your muscles properly. Count four with inhale, count four with exhale, with me, yes?”

Jensen glances up at the speaker and shakes his head. “Jesus H. Christ on a pogo stick, not this damn hacker crap…”

“Oh uh… okay!” Jenny decides nuts to the PDA and just bends over, depositing her papers, documents and equipment in a messy heap on the ground. As she rights herself she pulls her messy hair away from her face and adjusts her crooked looking glasses. “God… much better…” The girl creaks as she stretches her back. She takes the antiseptic spray and examines it curiously, spraying a small bit on the back of her palm and giving it a sniff before spraying some in her mouth. Her face screws up. “Oooph… it does pack a bit of a punch ey? What did you use to prevent contamination from submandibular and parotid gland enzymes?” She licks her lips. “Ah! Mister Maurice, sir, is it? Please say ‘ah’!” If he does as instructed he gets a liberal squirt of antiseptic spray. If not she fixes him with a bit of a doctor’s look. “Several proteins in the Filoviridae family are quite susceptible to changes in PH…” Jenny thinks out loud to herself. “Lemony flavour… citric acid?”

Maurice nods absently to Kinako and does as he’s told. One breath, two, and so on. He shrugs his shoulders lightly afterwards. “Reckon.. I’m calm?” He offers in the asian woman’s direction. The Texan glances at the spray and his stache twitches, “The coyotes wail along the tra…. ACK!” He grumbles as he is sprits. “Those are two flavors that go like… like… peanutbutter and t-bone.” He says flustered.

“It’s just, lemon oil. From, ah, lemons…” Kinako says, and then straightens Maurice’s shirt. “Tetrahydrozoline HCL and zinc sulfate solution in the eyes, the viscous cetylprinidium chloride administered orally, and nasal wash containing oils of camphor, menthol, eucalyptol, thymol, spearmint, pine, cinnamon… Probiotics, tannins, and manuka honey to bolster the digestive systems… poultices of tea tree, honey, and black tea to inhibit infection… Airborne ionization, increased humidity, for which I apologize, and ultraviolet lighting to decrease the ah, spread of the germs in the air. We have of course more, ah, conventional medicines in use in the infirmary, but I feel that perhaps she is expecting those and may have taken precautions. If you scientists will of course pardon my boldness.”

Maxwell gets up and wanders off in Jensen’s direction, fanning himself with some geometry proofs as he goes. “Pardon, but uh, if this isn’t a standard aside in the airline announcements, I can possibly help out.”

Jenny listens to the list of precautions used, nodding every now and then. “I’d say don’t worry about calling me a scientist but I think I’ve spent too long in this tatty thing to be called anything but.” She replies, motioning to her labcoat. It’s not tatty, though slept-in. She may not be the most effective lab worker but even Jenny knows to change labcoats now and then. Or at least turn them inside out. “And the whole area is on this? What about the people who don’t like tea?” She grins playfully. “Joking aside you should put in a formal request to the labs for some proper boosters. And… why the heck is there a song playing on the PA?”

The speakers crackle and lyrics from another song waft through the corridors: “Rosanna’s down in Texarkana, Wanted me to push her broom. Sweet Eileen’s in Abilene. She forgot I hung the moon.”

Jensen facepalms, then looks to Maxwell. “It is most assuredly NOT part of the standard announcements.” he snarls. “If you think you can get that crap off my PA system, by all means, give it a try.”

“Well shiiiiit.” Maurice lets out a low whistle. “I hope they play Your Cheatin Heart next.” The Texans informs everyone. “There a number we can call for requests?”

Kinako wipes her brow and pardons herself to take a slug of pungently ginger-smelling tea from a sport bottle holstered at her hip. “Yes, the ah, labs and the onsite medical staff are indeed handling the immunization records and conventional medicines as they see fit. I am just, ah, doing my part to slow the spread and minimize the ah, damage,” she says to Jenny. “I work in primarily rehabilitative medicine but I do know some things about terrorist actions… my primary patient base back in Japan is ah, military and police.”

Maxwell smirks “Good to know this isn’t normal. Could put me off airlines for life. Anyway… hrm. If there’s a terminal already hooked into the system I could use, that’d certainly speed the process. Alternatively, with a few spare components, I could hook something up to the speaker that’d take out the entire PA system… not really a fan of that option, though. Even the third option of hooking up some noise cancelling into the speaker system fails to really address the cause.”

Jenny can’t help but grin at least a little. “God… you’re so… you’re so… cool!” She breaths, admiration shining in her eyes. “Tea, lemon oil, cetylprinidium chloride…” The girl swoons, nodding. “No idea why they sent me and Berk over there when you guys are clearly in good hands. If you need anything you’ll let us know, right?” She seems to be completely serious!

The song now shifts to the Man in Black belting out: “And then they sent a young scout from the battlements, bloody and loud, with the words of farewell from a garrison valiant and proud: “Grieve not little darling, my dying, if Texas is sovereign and free, we’ll never surrender and ever with liberty be.”

Jensen points to the nearby east checkpoint. “There’s one there at the security desk.. if they give you any grief tell ’em I sent you.” he says, looking back up to the speakers and frowning again.

“Well.. not favorite Cash song.” Maurice seems disappointed in the choice of songs now. “Ya’ll remember we all died there right?” He calls out to the speakers suddenly. “We got a wicked dumbass streak at times.” He sighs. “Aint fun now.”

Maxwell nods before heading over to the aforementioned security desk, fanning himself as he does. “Hey. Jensen sent me to see if I can deal with the screwy sound system. Need to use your terminal.”

Kinako’s cheeks color a little bit, or as much as one can color when it’s hideously hot and humid. “Aah, thank you? You honor my efforts with your enthusiasm and respect. If ah, you would be able to start testing our patients for antibodies to the virus, or the ah, viral RNA, or other markers, I would very much appreciate it. If anyone has been immunized due to international travel they may have included Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever in the spectrum. It would also be wise to start notifying area hospitals and other facilities to request vaccine and start building herd immunity outside the station. We do not know when she infected herself, or even if this is a hoax. It is better, however, in my belief, to have precautions.” She casts a sympathetic glance to Maurice. “…I wonder if she knows she is murdering her countrymen as well as whomever she has deemed guilty in this disharmonious cause. I wonder if she cares. It is shameful.”

“Honour? Nothing but the truth!” Jenny squeaks, but all the same she hurries for her PDA to make a few dot points. “I think our people have already begun taking marker samples, you’re absolutely right it’s better to be safe then sorry!” She grins widely. “Don’t worry on it ma’am! I’m sure it’ll be under control before long.” Jenny says, reassuringly as she taps a message away on her PDA. What a cheerful person.

“All yours,” the security officer says, stepping aside for Maxwell.

“I doubt she was thinkin that clearly. Granted somebody smart was helpin her.” Maurice shrugs his shoulders. He fiddles with one of his ‘staches and looks up at the speakers

Maxwell cracks his knuckles as he takes a seat and starts typing away, looking for anything unusual in the system, humming some distinctly not at all Texas related music as he does.

During his search, Maxwell will discover a looping code sequence that’s referencing a series of musical data files.

“Terrorists, ah, tend to be, simple… no, that is not the right word, ah, -single- minded,” Kinako says, wiping the back of her borrowed scrubs’ sleeve across her forehead. “If the enemy was America, they would most likely operate on American medical knowledge? This is why I am working as much, ah, naturalistic and Eastern medicine into the counter-offensive? Perhaps then it is fortuitous that I have found myself trapped here. Perhaps I am being too prideful, but perhaps it will work. She is uncooperative and has become symptomatic. I have also suggested, ah, clomiphene? It had a ninety percent success rating in preliminary testing. If ah, no one minds a nonconventional usage of the drug of course. If I recall properly American laws tend to be…” She struggles for a diplomatic term. “Less receptive to such techniques? But I suppose in this case the urgency might preclude the Administration’s recommended usages.”

“It’s above my pay.” Jenny replies with a little shrug, wiping the her forehead with her lab coat as she too finds herself sweating rather a lot. She glances towards the fountain, it seems so refreshing. Would that it were just a nice, big, indoors swimming pool. “Still… worth mentioning to someone, yeah?”

Maurice remains silent for now. The Texan is lost in his own thoughts

Maxwell peers at the display as he types along. “…well, I hate to state the obvious, but someone seems to have slipped a jukebox into this. Rather juvenile, really. Shouldn’t take long to remove this goofiness… do you need a log of what I’m doing, and what’s found before I go removing the offending bits?”

The security officer nods to Maxwell. “If you could, thanks.”

“I have already suggested these to the medical department,” Kinako says, padding over to a bench and taking a seat, pausing to clasp her hands loosely in her lap and take a slow, deep breath. “If your department is in need of more ginger tea, kindly let me know. I have another round steeping in the ah, bar there. They have been very patient as I have overtaken most of the coffee tureens and used up a quantity of the herbs and garnishes.”

“It’s a uh… acquired taste, ginger tea. I’m not much for it myself.” Jenny replies, wandering across with Kinako. She sits beside the asian doctor, tapping a few final notes into her PDA before setting it aside and settling down. “Is she the only one who is infected? The terrorist, that is.”

Maxwell nods as he starts typing away again “Would hate for you guys to think I was destroying useful evidence. Just setting up an isolated spot to dump the logs and such… alright. Aaaand… sliding this jukebox over… hrm.” Type type clickety click clack type. “Alright, that should be the music files, too. Probably just harmless music, but worth a more thorough scan as time allows.”

“Sure,” the officer replies to Maxwell. “Assuming our lungs don’t spill out through our sphincters.”

Kinako takes another careful drink out of the bottle. “It is less for enjoyment at this phase and more for preventative digestive health. Tannins from the black tea, manuka honey for ingestible anti-infective, and of course the ginger. She indicated that she had infected herself and had modified the virus to be transmitted airborne more easily. It may have had something to do with her lipstick? She was ah, focusing upon it in her motions. She is so far the only one who is symptomatic.”

Maxwell types a few rather final sounding commands into the terminal, and stretches. “Alright, that should get rid of the offending audio. Hopefully the medics can sort things out so we all live long enough for the quiet airwaves to matter.”

The nostalgic Texas music does, in fact, cease. The central air system thrums back to life. But the blast doors that seal the main terminal clang into place, the tangerine-hued auxiliary lights click on. The security officer calls maintenance for an explanation. They say: “It’s out of our control! They’re channeling carbon monoxide into the system and we’re locked down – even tighter than before.”

Kinako chokes on her tea. “…Nani? Naze? Mister Maxwell-sir, please, stop them! Onegaishimasu…”

Jenny blinks. “Daijyobu, daijyobu, Kinako San! It’s okay! At least… I think I said it’s okay… but it most definitely is okay.” She replies, smiling. “It’s just a little carbon monoxide… nothing that we can’t uh… fix. But if anyone has some sort of welding equipment, or maybe a fire axe… now would be a good time to be finding ways of ventilating this room!” She squeaks, sounding less and less confident.

Knee Deep Update: The Naked Narrative

Here’s a look inside the narrative development process for the new “Knee Deep” swamp noir adventure that we’re working on at Prologue Games. Curiously enough, my experience as a storyteller on OtherSpace informs what I’m doing now far more than my work in the MMORPG sphere.

OtherSpace Reboot: Browndell

The action picks up where Vector Control left off…

Busby walks into the lounge in his usual civilian-style attire, but with buggy eyes and drooping mouth that tend to suggest he’d almost certainly prefer to be in a hazmat suit. Or perhaps in an entirely different city. He settles into one of the booths and watches the guards in protective gear coming and going. And he waits.

Kinako makes a mildly sympathetic face before rising from her seat, where she had remained until the saboteur was escorted out, and then for a time afterwards. She approaches the Spark CEO and offers a bow. “Mister Busby-sir,” she says. “I do not mean to impose, but would you be able to put me in contact with the existing authority here? Also would you happen to have any Himalayan salt lamps, perhaps in your offices?”

Maxwell stretches a bit on his bar stool, and nods briefly at the new arrival.

Busby blinks a couple of times before it finally registers that someone is talking to him. He looks at Kinako and says, “I *am* part of the existing authority, man. More or less.” His gaze drifts to the armed guards. “Less, I suppose, at the moment.” He shrugs. “Anyway. Salt lamps? My shaman swears by them. I’ve got a couple on the bookshelf in my office. Why?”

Maurice watches the goings on and slowly shakes his head. The man whistles “The Yellow Rose of Texas” As the saboteur is marched out. “Crazier than a shit house rat.” He informs everyone within ear shot once terrorist is gone. A soft chuckle and a shake of his head follows.

“Because we need to raise the relative humidity in this building to at least forty-five percent. The beneficial emissions of your lamps will also assist in the inactivation of the virus, if there is in fact one present. If its virulence is based upon the flu virus, which I believe it may be, the humidity and added salts in the air will help mitigate the spread and ease the symptoms,” Kinako says, speaking quickly and quietly. “We will also need black tea, honey – Manuka if it is available, at least plus fifteen UMF, a bioelectric emitter and acupuncture set, and a kinesiotape scanner and printer. Ah, and rice. Also garlic.” She pauses to take a breath. “Are there scientists on staff? I have some minor knowledge of pathology but I am by no means qualified to cure an engineered disease. But what I -can- do is mitigate the spread and prevent further damage to our patients.”

Maxwell listens to the medical chatter, and waves the barkeep over to order a beer.

Busby scratches the right side of his face as he listens to Kinako run down her list. Eventually, his eyes roll and he sighs. “Jesus, man, why bother with salt lamps? We’re, like, three blocks from the Atlantic Ocean. Not sure if the commisary has black tea and honey, but they might, man. No pie, though, which is a crying shame. I don’t want to die of ebola without a good slice of pie. A big one. Because, y’know, whatever, man.” He rubs his left wrist, then says, “We’ve got scientists. That’s sorta why this place is here, man. That’s kinda why we ended up with a crazy ass strain of crunchy Texas ebola wafting through the air tubes. Goddamned Texans, man. She might’ve infected my shaman! A good shaman’s hard to find. Shaman Steve is a *great* shaman, man, which is, like, magnitudes harder to come by. He wouldn’t think twice about checking the chakra of some Houston debutante, man, maybe setting her straight. He’s a good guy. A generous guy, man. He doesn’t deserve to, y’know, cough out his lungs and bleed his intestines out of his butt.”

Maurice is his back towards the bar when he seems to hear something he doesn’t particularlly care for. “Well now..” He pushes his hat up a little and glances over at Busby. “Now granted we Texans might all be a little off in the head a little but Mister, it aint kind damnin us all.”

Kinako folds her hands in front of her, and bows again. “Please, Mister Busby-sir, be calm. If we increase the humidity, it may inactivate the virus. This is not to guarantee that no one will become ill, but less will. We can not get to the ocean now, we must be confined here. Please, take a deep breath with me, and clear your mind. If it wanders, gently and compassionately guide it back into calm. One breath… two breaths… three breaths… Now. Can you get me in touch with someone who is in charge of the, ah, H-vac, yes? And to please call for your scientists? We have three days before anyone becomes symptomatic. If we can threaten and weaken the virus in the air, and strengthen the people, we can conquer this threat. One breath… two breaths… three breaths…” She inclines her head to Maurice. “Mister Busby-sir is under great duress. It has, ah, compromised his communication skills. Of course, I would not hold you responsible for the actions of the Delilah woman based merely upon your, ah, similar point of origin.”

Maxwell swivels around to see the others, the ordered beer forgotten for now. “Quite… however off she may be, I’m not gonna blame all of Texas for that.”

The Spark CEO narrows his eyes at Kinako, then slaps his palm on the tabletop and says, “Don’t make excuses for me, man! Shaman Steve taught me to own my feelings, so I do. It’s not miscommunication, man.” He stares at Maurice and proceeds: “Your fellow Texan damned us *all*. She did it because of the hard-on all Texans seem to have for the Consortium way of life. Texans shot down that freighter over the swamp too, I have no doubt. Maybe they brought down my dirigible too! The point is: If General Jensen’s smart, he’ll order every Texan-descended soldier confined to barracks. I’m doing what I can to isolate anyone working for Spark with ties to Texas, too, man. It’s got to stop, one way or another, man. There’s a plague out there a hundred times worse than this special ebola, man, and it’s that unique brand of Texas crazy.”

“Well shiiit.” Maurice grumbles as he shifts some to really give Busby the ‘eye’ “And ya all wonder why we got a slightly paranoid independent streak in us.” He stands a bit straighter the more he talks. “As for all that talk of super virus and all that there bull, could be ya’ll doin one of yer insider jobs like big ole government and business is want to do.”

Kinako heaves a long, quiet sigh, but her tone remains calm. “Mister Busby-sir, if you could please get me in contact with someone appropriate, we could disactivate up to seventy to seventy five percent of this special plague within the next fifteen minutes. Please, join me in the moment and free yourself of your anger and its disruptions to your internal energies. Open your Sahasrara chakra and increase your consciousness…” She continues to soothe, holding up one finger to Maurice. “Kindly reserve any accusations for when the crisis has passed, sir. The reasons are currently not relevant. The threat, however, is more real than any opinions that exist in this moment. If everyone would please find compassion and join me in the moment, you will all live to continue this argument at a later time.” She turns her great doe eyes upon both gentlemen. “Please. I know I am possessed of neither power, nor authority, nor a silver tongue, but I would implore you, please, to be more harmonious.”

Maxwell calms his already fairly calm breathing down a bit.

Busby stares silently at Kinako for about twenty seconds, tilting his head, looking almost as if a wire might’ve popped loose somewhere inside. Ultimately, he says, “I may need to fire Shaman Steve, man. What’s your retainer?” He waves a hand. “Never mind that for now, man. Scientists, right? Yeah, man. Here.” He slides a commlink across the table toward Kinako and says, “Connect 12 to reach the Canaveral lab, man. Tell ’em you’re working for me.”

Maurice tips his hat in Kinako’s direction. “Sure thing there Mama-san.” He says. The Texan watches Busby for a moment longer then shrugs and turns to face the bar.

Kinako bows to Bob, and takes the commlink, carefully following the CEO’s instructions. “Good evening, I am Doctor Omoiyari Kinako, and I am presently working for Mister Busby-sir. I require the assistance of any available pathologists. If someone would also please contact facilities and maintenance, and have them raise the relative humidity to at least forty-five percent. Your cooperation will be very much appreciated.” While awaiting the answer, she mutes the comm. “Mister Maxwell-sir, if you could please check with the commissary, we will need rice, honey, black tea, yes? Is anyone available who can make contact with medical services for us?” Busby gets a gentle shake of her head. “No fees for now. I do this for the sake of all.”

Maxwell nods at Kinako as he fishes around his pockets for a minute, dropping a number of papers covered with assorted doodles and equations on the bar until he finds his phone. Some poking about later, he finally gets a call through to the comissary “Yeah, uh… you guys have any tea? Yes, black tea. Lots of it. And a goodly supply of honey… orange blossom if you have it… eh, make it a variety. We’re gonna need a bunch of that, too. Um, and rice, apparently. I suspect rather a lot of that. Eh? Um, long grain I guess. Yeah, that should be fine. Just get it over to the Apollo Lounge. I’m sure someone official looking will get it all inside.”

Busby clears his throat, then sneezes into the palms of his hands. He leans back to stare at them, apparently expecting blood or some other foreboding telltales. “Hm,” he says when nothing bad seems to have splattered his palms. “Ah.” He settles back in the booth and waits for the supplies to arrive. “What will the rice do, exactly?”

Maurice watches the cockpit replays along for time with a faint far away smile. “Lucky SOBs.” He murmurs to himself. Once the real world comes crashing back he blinks a few times. “Now.. I aint got nuffin against a bit of rice and tea, differn cultures and all that. But if we are plannin last suppers here I’d rather have me a t-bone and a Lone Star if you are kindly takin requests.” He directs over to Kinako.

Kinako presses her lips together, and bows to Maxwell. “I apologize, Mister Maxwell-sir, for not communicating with you properly. The honey I was looking for was Manuka, it comes from bees that have fed upon the flowers of the tea tree… not orange. But if they do not have it, of course any honey has antibacterial properties… short grained rice is better for porridge. I apologize that I did not specify.” She inclines her head to Bob. “I am not certain which manner of flu she engineered the virus with. If it causes intestinal distress, a slowly cooked meal of rice will provide essential nutrients and ease discomfort.” She turns her gray gaze to Maurice, expression apologetic. “You are free to eat what you wish, sir,” she says, “I would in fact encourage you to do so as we will have approximately three days before symptoms begin. I am merely making sufficient preparations in case I am rendered a casualty.” She gets back on the line with the science folks. “Of course, I apologize for my imposition, but your cooperation is very much appreciated. Security may have the woman’s belongings, if she does not have any samples on her person she has indicated that she is an active carrier. Perhaps they would permit you to take samples directly from her. Please also gather as much colloidal silver as you can. We will need it in the case of skin lesions and other necrotic effects.” A brief chink appears in the calm as her eyes water up. She takes a slow, deep breath. “Arigatou, many thanks again.” She hands the communicator back to Busby. “Your scientists are effective, and hopefully will find what they need from the security forces. The medical staff has also been alerted.”

Maxwell nods at Kinako and continues talking, since he apparently got a rather chatty clerk who never hung up. “Yeah, could we get some short grain rice in there, too? And some Manuka honey if you’ve got it… Yes, in addition to the rest. Yes, yes, I hope your aunt has a happy birthday, too… Uh huh… Yeah, uh… gotta go!” Click. Or as much of a click as modern technology allows a phone.

Busby gets to his feet and says, “If you run into any problems getting those supplies, man, just give me a call or stop by the office or whatever, y’know, man. And let me know what you charge for shaman services because, hey, if you’re competitive, I could suddenly have an opening.” He crosses his arms. “Now if I could just find someone with a head for light-bending physics and interstellar astrogeometrics.” He glances toward Maurice: “Know anybody, Texas?”

“Well.. that’s better than a stick in the eye I suppose.” Maurice nods towards Kinako. The Texan quickly types out an order for just what his heart desires on the old style command console. Busby gets a long look over. “Ya try Houston or maybe McDonald Observatory? Knew a feller down in South New Mexico into that stuff. Always goin on about the Very Large Array.” He slips one finger under the hat’s band and gives his forehead a scratch. “Or ya just askin because I look like a down Texas way redneck?”

Kinako bows to the Spark CEO. “Arigatou, I thank you very much,” she says. “If you are retiring to your quarters, please do your best to drink black tea with honey with breakfast and lunch. Once I acquire a kinesiotherapy printer I will start fitting everyone for ah… The best word I believe would be a sort of brace? To prevent additional damage if the virus presents with painful coughing. Please bring your salt lamps to Facilities and have them placed by the air circulation vent. If anyone else in your office has them, kindly ask that they, ah, provide them for the cause? They will be returned when the threat has passed, of course.” She sighs, quietly, murmuring to herself under her breath. Maurice gets the mildest of mildly reproachful expressions before the woman sinks into a nearby chair. “Three… days. Kami wa watashitachi o tasukete.”

Maxwell puts his phone away again, grabs that beer of his off the bar, and looks curiously at a few of his apparent doodles before taking a sip, whilst watching the exchange between the other guys.

“Look, man,” Busby replies to Maurice. “I was just asking because, y’know, you said Texans weren’t all bad.” He shrugs. “Whatever, man. Whatever.” He wanders toward the door and mutters, “Man, I *hate* black tea. Makes me piss blue rivers.” And out he goes.

Some ripping on the reboot

Not everyone’s a fan of the OtherSpace reboot.

A guest logged on the other day – someone who apped for a character long ago, got approved, played a couple of scenes and then “life got in the way.”

“The post a while back of axing idled characters left a bad taste in my mouth and the recent post made me decide to pop back,” the guest said to other players on the MUSH.

I was busy at home at the time, tending to my baby and a pair of borrowed kids from some friends who were off celebrating their tenth wedding anniversary. “Life got in the way,” you see, and I missed this charming visitor.

The guest didn’t like the idea of a reboot to an era that was before faster-than-light travel, before exploration of the Orion Arm of the Milky Way Galaxy. The guest wanted a reboot, I guess, of a straight out-of-the-box, already lived-in cosmos like OtherSpace 1998.

“No offense, I’m not going to hang around for months playing something I don’t want just to pass the time to get something I do want to play,” the guest said.

Well, fair enough. But then the guest said they “honestly feel gipped” by the reboot meaning “we’re taking out [that thing you love] for an unspecified amount of time.”

“Especially since I donated before, too,” the guest said. “I dunno if Wes is even reading this channel, but it’s kind of like enticing you in with the promise of Mass Effect, then pulling the covers away to reveal Kerbal Space Program. Only not as fun.”

A couple of points rankle here. First: NO ONE has donated as much time, effort, or money to OtherSpace during the past 16 years as I have. If someone’s going to get preferential treatment for thematic development based on financial investment, it’ll be me. I’m certainly not lending much credence to someone who professes love for the old theme when they couldn’t stick with it for more than a couple of scenes and can’t even remember who their character was. Sorry to disappoint. Second: I never promised anything remotely resembling the original OtherSpace in the lead-up to the reboot. In fact, I very specifically outlined plans to go back so far in the mythos that player actions – not the game creator – would play a much larger role in shaping the universe, from the technology that breaks the light barrier to the alien worlds they discover.

I fully appreciate that providing a blank canvas full of creative potential – a veritable space opera sandbox – isn’t going to be for everybody.

And they can find something else to amuse themselves. That’s fine by me.

It’s going to be great for others. And it’s for them that we keep chugging along.