Omar Panderyn is, at the moment, strapped into one of the station chairs, observing the performance statistics of the solar arrays. “Not bad,” he says. “We won’t freeze to death tonight.”

Kinako looks in from the Lab Compartment, expression quizzical. “…ahh, I should -hope- not?” She says, apparently carefully measuring whether Mr. Panderyn is being facetious or if this is his standard operating procedure.

Maxwell drifts along after Kinako “Heating and so forth all in order, then?”

Omar Panderyn nods. “All functioning properly, it appears.” He shifts his attention to Maxwell and Kinako. “How are you two settling in? Constantly bumping knees? I know the quarters are cramped.”

“I am not finding the living quarters to be uncomfortable, Panderyn-sama,” Kinako replies, inclining her head. “I thank you for your concern. Ah, I have noticed we do not have much space for… medical equipment? I am keeping the locker tethered to the wall at present but this is not easily accessible. If someone is injured, do we have somewhere to ah… treat them?”

Maxwell smiles “Well, it’s cramped, yes. But the view out of the lab window makes up for it.”

Omar Panderyn fumbles in a pouch in his jumpsuit for a PDA on a light tether. “We *will*.” A few taps on the PDA results in the display of a set of blueprints. “We’re in the hub of Ulm Station’s Phase 1.” He taps the display once more, and the station expands to multiple modules. “Phase 2, which should start construction this month, will include a medical bay. Until then, my advice is to avoid injury.”

Kinako inclines her head again. “…the station is, ah, unfinished? May we be so fortuitous as to avoid injury, then,” she murmurs, eyebrows quirking briefly together in mild consternation. Tick, click, go the jade beads between her fingers. She nods in agreement with Maxwell. “Ah, yes. The view is very… what is the word. Encouraging? Conducive? Helpful? To ah, meditation. Very much so.”

Maxwell blinks a couple times “So um, how long is that construction expected to take?”

“Yes, it’s a beautiful view, but it can also be somewhat dispiriting when the very goal of this station is to find vantage points around alien stars, light years away,” Panderyn says. “Every time I look out, all I can think is: ‘We should be going somewhere new. Soon.'” He shrugs, then looks toward Maxwell. “The modules are fabricated primarily on Earth, then boosted into orbit by shuttle. It shouldn’t take more than a few days to secure the linkages for the second phase.”

“Aah, so it will not be long. That is very encouraging. Arigatou, I thank you, Panderyn-sama,” Kinako says. After a period of looking thoughtful, she offers, “I think that the ah, Han-nya Shin-gyo, The Heart Sutra, is the most appropriate thing to meditate upon as we look to, ah, both where we have come from, and where we hope to go. ‘Gyatei, Gyatei, Haragyatei, Haraso-gyatei, Boji Sowaka.’ It translates to, ‘go, go, go beyond, go thoroughly beyond, and establish yourself in enlightenment.’ I feel that it is appropriate because here, in this phase, we have gone beyond, and seek to go farther?”

Maxwell nods to Kinako “Sounds about right, really.”

“Certainly seems apt,” Panderyn agrees. “Thanks for that perspective, doc.” He smiles, unbuckles his seat harness, and then drifts toward the crew compartment. “I’ll appreciate the view more in the morning. Right now, I think I’ll get some shuteye.”

Kinako spends a few moments after Panderyn’s exit to look quizzically at Maxwell. When she’s certain he’s gone, she murmurs, very quietly, “…Do you suppose I, ah… do you suppose I may have gotten through to him?”

Maxwell chuckles quietly “Oh, I certainly hope so.”

Kinako looks pleased and confused in the same breath. “Well! That is heartening, very heartening. I mean, of course I would have preferred that the medical bay be completed before we ah, arrived, but… well… I will take the smallest victory to start with, and appreciate it.”

Maxwell nods “Yeah… but really, after that quarantine mess, you can hardly blame him for wanting to get the research into an isolated environment.”

“Yes, I suppose it is safer, if the sabotage was aimed at the research team, to isolate the research team,” Kinako agrees, and then tucks her hands into the sleeves of her jumpsuit. “…and yet, I cannot help but worry if, what if it was not? What if it was aimed at the Vanguard instead? I worry about General Jensen-sama. He is strong but biological aggression is more damaging upon our venerable population.”

Maxwell takes a deep breath “There’s no end of possibilities. Not much we can do about those now, though. Best keep looking forward. I’d love for us to get to a point when we can look out those windows and see an entirely new sky.”

Kinako shifts her weight. “Aah, I would… I would I think rather not leave Earth’s orbit. I mean, I understand that there is a great universe perhaps to be discovered, but here is where I am… familiar? Comfortable? There are so many adventures yet to be had, so many stories untold. I would rather not leave it, I should think. Not that I believe anyone should be forced to stay, of course, but I would rather not leave -here-. Yes?”

Maxwell nods “Oh, I quite understand. Not sure I really want to do the exploring myself. But for it to be an option? That’s something to look forward to.”

Kinako nods, looking out towards the lab. “I will only hope that we do not need a medical bay until we have received one, and that we find our way to, well, I suppose wherever it is we are intended to go. I hope perhaps that there are aliens, and that we can communicate with them appropriately. It would be interesting to me, to ah, encounter different… souls?”

Maxwell smiles wistfully “Oh, I do hope we get to meet some aliens. Not necessarily us personally, but some friendly contact with another world’d be something.”

“I think I would not mind meeting some personally,” Kinako says, also smiling wistfully. “Perhaps it is the same ah, sentiment that you direct towards wishing to have the option to travel to other worlds? I would then like the option to meet a new… civilization? Not that America has not been… exciting, but…” She spreads her hands, apologetically.

Maxwell smirks “Well, no denying that your trip has been… less than ideal. And our gracious host is… not typical?”

By Brody

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