Maurice is currently floating along. The Texan has a tablet in hand with some of the rough sketches of the test bed. His brow is furrowed as he studies the images and notes.

Maxwell floats on in, humming a pleasant tune.

Maurice glances over at Max and nods his head slightly. “If we have a sudden loss of power during a test run, do we drop out of warp or do we keep going.. without the fun shit like shields?” He calls out.

Maxwell grabs the window frame as he passes, and stops the humming to think it over. “Hrm. I’ll have to check with Tilsworth about this… Probably depends on how we end up building the drive. Though I’m fairly sure we’ll agree that safety is sufficiently important that we’ll try to avoid the ship tearing itself apart in the event of a power outage.”

Maurice nods his head and focuses on the specs again. “If you had a kill switch that dropped us straight into regular space.. that would be for the best. Sure as shit don’t want to keep going at that speed and hit a spec of sand. Blow a star system that way I reckon.” The Texan grins. “In any case I’ll be like the bad mother fuckers before me and give telemetry till I aint nuffin but atoms strewn about a few light years.” The two are floating along, Mo with a tablet with specs and whatnot of the test bed craft.

Maxwell pulls out his notebook and jots down some things. “Well, quite. But let’s try and get things… reasonably safe before we send you out. There being no guarantees isn’t a good reason to start flights when the odds are it can do nothing but fail catastrophically.”

“Hell, how about unmanned proof of concept flights? Ya’ll near that stage yet?” Maurice asks as he tucks his tablet away.

Maxwell stretches a bit “Well, I suspect Tilsworth is going to want to do a few more simulations first, but we’ve got designing the drive itself in the cards for the near future.”

“What’s yer read of him? Only ever met him a had full of times. We aint runnin in the same social circles ya know.” Maurice grins slightly.

Maxwell scratches the side of his head with the non-writing end of his pen. “Hrm. Well, he’s certainly no slouch in the brains department. I don’t think we’d be half as far on this project without him. Friendly enough, likes a mental challenge. Partial to manual writing implements… as am I, oddly enough.” The two are just floating along near that window, talkin bout things and stuff. Mostly work related.

“Hmm well how about the other cowpoke? He seemed like a cold fish. Reckon he pretended I weren’t there the entire time I was yammerin away.” Maurice says.

“Cow… poke?” Kinako’s querulous voice comes from the hatch before she floats through, working her way hand over hand until she reaches the window. “Konbanwa, good evening, Maxwell-san, Maurice-san.” She looks cautiously at Maurice, as though expecting him to say something.

Maxwell tilts his head. “Ray? Not really sure… seems nice enough. Bit odd, though. Tried to pack a rather hefty amount of weaponry for the trip. Wanna say with nothing but non-lethal ammo, too… Evening, Kinako!”

“Howdy there Mamasita-chan.” Maurice the Texan greets Kinako. “Weaponry? There aint no fuckin shootin range up here. Thought I was the dipshit Texan here.”

Kinako sighs quietly, taking a perch somewhat farther from the window than usual. “Maurice,” she finally says, “I believe you are mistakenly using the incorrect suffix in your manner of address. You are indicating a deeper friendship or relationship than we presently have, and I apologize if I have said or done anything to lead you to believe that this would be appropriate.” She chews on her lower lip for a moment, offering, “It would be akin to me calling you my son, a young sibling, my best friend, or my boyfriend, when clearly you are none of these?”

Maxwell sighs a little. “Sorry, Kinako. Maurice greeted me with shop talk, and I hadn’t had a chance to divert the topic over to appropriate levels of formality and familiarity.”

Maurice shrugs his shoulders lazily. “Whatever ya say there, chica.” The Texan replies with an equally lazy smile. “That guy ever say why he needed an armory?”

“Kinishinaide,” Kinako murmurs, and pulls herself over to the unoccupied bulkhead window. She draws a small tin from her jumpsuit pocket, taps a wrapped square of presumably candy out of it, and bumps the candy, wrapper and all, into her mouth. The following chewing precludes further comment.

Maxwell shakes his head at Maurice with an annoyed expression. “Not that I heard.”

Kinako continues chewing. Either those strange square candies take a lot of work, or this is the future’s equivalent of the 2014-era Twix commercials.

“Guess I’ll have ta find him sometime and ask.” Maurice replies with a twitch of his moustache.

Maxwell nods at Maurice, and lowers his voice a bit. “Probably so. I’d suggest you might want to try just using her name for awhile. Perhaps be a apologetic? If you are, anyway. Like she said, where she’s from, you were suggesting rather a lot.”

Kinako is apparently doing her best not to listen in, and is looking out the window whilst her PDA beams soft koto music up to the earpieces in the little cap whose primary job it is to prevent her hair from overtaking the station.

“Suggest..? Ya’ll are aware Kinako aint exactly my ummm.. cup of tea.” Maurice lifts a brow at Maxwell. “I’m just bein all polite like. Hell every woman is ‘sweetie’ down where I come from. Men are… sweetie and sugar too now that I think of. We are a umm.. damn friendly folk. How about ya all respectin my culture?”

Maxwell nods. “Have you tried explaining that to her? A lot of conflict over the centuries has been over cultural differences and bad assumptions. Really, I’d just like us to all be getting along up here. It’s too crowded not to.”

Kinako fails her attempt at not listening. She sighs again. “So you think, somehow, that I should enjoy you addressing me in a disrespectful manner, because you expect me to respect -your- culture? Perhaps that makes sense in your mind, but that is completely unmindful of both my preferences and I can only assume the preferences of others. You are not required to address me formally, but at the very least respect me enough to use my name.” She shakes another candy out of the tin. “You are very unlike -any- cup of tea, if you feel as if a compromise is beyond your abilities.”

Maurice twirls his moustache lazily. “In the name of peace, I reckon so.” He replies. “Unlike a cup of tea..? It means you aren’t my type”

Maxwell nods at Maurice then looks to Kinako, but stays quiet for the moment.

Kinako seems, apparently, less offended by not being Maurice’s type than by being called various terms of endearment. Apparently, she’s more accustomed to the former. She bumps the floating candy with the back of her hand and catches it in her mouth. Chew, chew chew, chew chew chew. “Thank you for trying,” she murmurs, apparently keeping the rest of the candy on standby.

“That’s settled. Who wants to braid each other’s hair?” Maurice asks after Kinako replies. “Pillow fights ain’t gonna work in zero gee.”

Maxwell smirks. “I think Kinako is the only one of us who has enough hair for braiding to be worth the time. Perhaps some sort of game?”

“Gomennesai, I must apologize, I have already braided my hair today,” Kinako says, as serious as the day/night cycles are long. “It is also quite tedious in zero gravity, I would not wish to impose upon anyone.”

“Well, shit… I reckon we could talk about boys and giggle.” Maurice says with a faint chuckle. “Or I can find a football. Or we can find some trouble here on the station.”

Maxwell chuckles. “Was thinking more a game of cards, but I’m open to other options.”

Kinako makes that sheepish face again. “…I am not really good at talking about boys, either. I am sorry, I must seem very dull. Or… stuck-up? Is that the term?”

“I am sure I can regale ya’ll with stories but I reckon now ain’t the time.” Maurice smirks. “Ya got a deck?”

Maxwell shakes his head. “No, but we’ve used a thing on our pdas for card games before.”

“Oh, yes, ah, Doctor Tilsworth-san had a PDA program that allows everyone in an area to form a digital group to play the game,” Kinako says, thumbing through her PDA menu to turn off the background koto music and find the card playing program. “I ah, would prefer something other than that ‘five card stud’. There were many rules and I do not believe I was playing it well.”

Maxwell stretches a bit before getting his own pda set up. “Hrm… Go Fish?”

Kinako blinks a few times. “Actually, I am more familiar with the ‘Texas hold ’em’ style poker than the others, but I am quite familiar with ‘Go Fish’? Doctor Tilsworth-san won an amount of the wagashi, the sweets, that I had brought along for the trip, but I still have several boxes of rice candies. Er, if people do not mind wagering for rice candies?”

“Rice candies? I guess I can put up some of Mama’s famous jerky.” Maurice says as he thinks things over. “How about you there Maxy-boy? Ya like Texas Hold em and ya got anything to ante up?”

Maxwell chuckles. “Hold em is fine, and I have some mint caramels I can put up.”

After some thoughtful adjustments to the PDA’s settings, Kinako convinces the ‘card room’ to come up on the ad hoc multiplayer PDA system. Her avatar, a very chibi version of herself with a long fox-tail ponytail bound up in ribbons, bounces into the lobby, promptly putting up a friendly ‘peace sign’ greeting and an “Ohaiyo!” speech bubble. “Ahh, all right, here we are. Hole cards distributed… and, ah, the… flop? Is initializing. Opening bet is one sweet. I will wager a yuzu mochi.” She looks at the screen contemplatively. In the online ‘room’, her tiny avatar jumps around a bit before settling in to scrutinize her cards.

Maurice blinks his eyes a few times. The Texan punches commands into the system for a time then grins. Out comes a cartoon Moe made of 80 percent moustache. He has little six shooters that he fires wildly into the air. All and all he looks sort of like a particular Looney Tune character.

Maxwell smirks at the MoSammity Sam avatar, and sends his own in. As per usual, a cute penguin in a bowler hat.

Maurice nods over at the other two. “Hell, if I weren’t the goddarn best looker in here I’d demand strip rules.” The Texan chuckles. “So one piece as openin pot?”

The three ‘flop’ cards are presently the Queen of Diamonds, the Three of Spades, and the Six of Hearts. Kinako studies her PDA for a bit. “…raise? I raise one yam sweet. Yes. That is what I will do.”

“How much is a bean pastry in these rules? And fancy shit like gator jerk for that matter?” Maurice asks as he studies his cards closely.

Maxwell peers at his cards. “Hrmm… I’ll see that, and raise it a mint caramel.”

The ‘turn/fourth’ card is flipped over. It is the Five of Hearts. Kinako looks at it, curiously. “Hmm? Oh, ah, we are going by one average-weight unit of food per bet, so er, if the… jerky is not parceled into servings we would have to bring it to the kitchen and have it cut and packaged, I would assume. Is it really made out of alligators?” Pause. “Oh, er. Bet, I suppose.” The mock pile of candies appears on-screen. “If you would like a bean pastry I can bet a ‘monaka’, which is anko sandwiched between rice crackers? They are small enough to be eaten without producing crumbs.”

“Not sure how I feel about that. Gator Jerky aint yer run of the mill beef. Got some coon too if ya want some.” Maurice replies. The Texan nods his head as Kinako speaks further. “Yeah thats it. I give ya twice as much not ta bet that. Got some pokie or whatever?”

Maxwell looks thoughtful. “Hrm… check.”

The ‘river’ card is revealed: The Three of Hearts. Kinako blinks a few times, and looks thoughtful. “Pokie? I am afraid I do not know what pokie is. I have higashi, with is a more… dry sweet? You can choose a flavor, I have pickled ume, those are my favorite, mint, cinnamon, ginger, and yuzu, which is a citrus?”

“That there choco-sticks.” Maurice replies to Kinako. The Texan looks at all the cards and sighs. Mo-chan pulls off his hat and starts to stomp on it, explict language bubbles rise before his head. “Sheeev.”

Maxwell peers at the cards. “Hrm. Well, I’m guessing I’ve got better than Maurice, here. Raise you two sweets.”

“Yes, I believe that qualifies as a fold,” Kinako says, watching Yosemite Mo stomp on his hat. “I will indeed see you and raise you. Are you prepared to show your cards?”

Maxwell nods. “I believe so. Pair of fours.”

Maurice shakes his head and sighs. “Yeah, I am out.” He grumbles to the two. “Ya’ll best savor Mama Holton’s jerky.”

“I have three of a kind. Of threes. Oh, that is fortuitous,” Kinako says, as her little avatar hops up and down with sparkly eyes, ‘yelling’ “Yatta!”

Maurice hums along as several memes happen. “Wish they’d drop the paddles.” He nods over towards Maxwell. “So what now.”

Maxwell stretches a bit. “Hrm… at this point, I’d say some sleep.”

“Well, ya take care.” Maurice says over towards Maxwell. “You git yerself some sleep.”

By Brody

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