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.”

Maxwell nods.

“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.

By Colchek

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