Ulm Station: Navigating Copyright

Not much to see in the lab tonight. Certainly no serious science being done on the lab stations. Just Max perched in window, poking around on a PDA that occasionally makes oddly cheerful bloop noises.
Maurice floats into the room and glances around. “Hrrm… so much going on here is there?” The Texan says as he glances around. “Pants off dance off time?” He smirks. “Or some other way of diversion. We ain’t able to hit no bars and all.”

Maxwell looks up from the pointless game he’s playing. “Evening! Yeah, too late in the day for real work. Just been playing some Space Invaders knockoff.”

“Shit. That is likely to be us if this thing ever kicks off.” Maurice chuckles as he floats closer. “We’ll be big white guys from Earth with a little Asian lady in tow. Shit, we need a bit more rainbow around here now that I think of it.” Another chuckle escapes the Texan. “Got Pong?”

Maxwell smirks. “About 29 variant knockoffs, yeah. Weird how this thing didn’t come with any of the branded classics.”

“Ya’d think they’d be public domain by now.” Maurice shrugs his shoulders weakly. “Now we got a fightin’ game, we’d be in business.”

Maxwell kills the invading aliens and rifles through the games library. “Lessee… Immortal Konflict, Pavement Brawler, and, um… Time Killers. Guess nobody felt that one was worth doing a knockoff of.”

“Well, shit. I can play as Tony Gage or something like nobody’s business.” Maurice grins. “We had good ole Sunset Riders back on Ma and Pa’s dude ranch. Was fun as hell. Mexican in the poncho was the way to go.”

“She had a grudge with Ano right?” Maurice smirks. The two are chatting away about retro knock off games. In this case, a joke that only works if you know Spanish and Mortal Kombat.

Maxwell chuckles. “Not sure. Fun games, but the story always felt rather stapled on.”

“Fuck, story didn’t matter back then. Knuckle draggers in the back 1900s used to use microwaves for food. Thanks, cancer.” The Texan chuckles. “Music, though. The Jitter Bug and Biggie Smalls? Respect Mofos… Word to your mother.”

Maxwell smirks. “The care they had for the story in those games shows. Still, they’re fun. No denyin’ that… well, some are. Recall reading about some goofy pseudo-hologram based thing once, apart from the novelty, it sounded pretty bad.”

“Hmm, are you talking about that there creepy ass Japanese singing computer.. thing? Kinako might know more about that.” Maurice replies. “The hypernet has a long and ugly history… and it is everywhere, even backward-assed West Texas.”

Maxwell blinks a couple times. “No, no. This was a game, if you define game pretty loosely, anyway. Some cowboy lost in time doing… something or other. Probably saving the universe.”

“You are talking about me,” Maurice says with a straight face.

Maxwell smirks. “Nah, you actually have three dimensions. Those holograms were an early attempt at holo fakery. Was a badly acted choose-your-own-adventure movie, really.”

“I am here to liberate planets of sexy green men from the claws of evil cockroach overlords.” Maurice laughs and shakes his head. “Fuckin’ two dee holograms? How crappy is that? Space Cowboys are the greatest, longest-lasting idea ever. You never ever feel old and reheated or overdone or.. umm.. already done. Yes, that is the truth. … yes.”

Maxwell nods. “It was an expensive machine probably, but nobody really enjoyed it enough to play it for more than a few minutes. Or so I hear. Before my time, really. Suppose it was a decent effort from a technical perspective for its day.”

“Let’s hope that what we all are doin’ here ain’t remembered as a decent effort.” Maurice murmurs.

Maxwell nods “Well, the stakes are rather higher with this venture. It’s not like we’ll be pushing anything to market before it can do what we’ve set out to do.”

“Na, but it there is a fine difference between bein’ Otto Lilienthal and bein’ one of the Wright Brothers,” Maurice replies.

Maxwell nods. “Going to assume Otto was also working on the flight issue. Sometimes it’s just an issue of who’s got the better publicist, too. Still, we’ll do what we can. I’m hopeful.”

“Ole Otto was a brave and slightly crazy German that worked on the principles of gliding, based his stuff off swans. Glided a whole lot and paved the way for the Wrights but who the fucks remembers him right? Just us rocket jockeys. He’s the first one of us to die provin’ a point.”

Maxwell nods. “Well, hopefully we can manage to keep you alive through this.”

“You know.. I am not too afraid of if it all goes pear shape. Made my choices and if ya’ll can learn from it.. hell, why not. Talkin’ to the AI…well, it sort of put my little speck of life in perspective or whatever the shit they call it,” Maurice says. “Sure as shit I’d wished I fucked, drank and enjoyed the sunrise a bit more when it came. But shittt. I reckon I am too good of a pilot to die on a test run unless ya’ll egghead assholes make a complete dud. I’d make a one-legged goose fly my ass Maine.”

Maxwell smirks. “Well, I never said we were promising anything. But we’ll get the test craft at least somewhat safe… not sure how much *any* test craft can really be said to be safe.”

“Ain’t none of them safe in a day-to-day sense. Hell, if anything worthwhile was safe, we’d be pokin’ our asses in caves still. Which we ain’t. We poke our asses in big fancy cities like respectable folks now,” Maurice says.

Maxwell nods. “Well, yes. Point being we want this to work, so we’ll do all we can.”

“All make sure my statues has a cowboy hat, spurs and is put in the gay corner of town,” Maurice says with morbid glee. “I wish they’d fuckin’ let us drink up here. I have spent my down time plotting courses that might not work once the drive is a real damn thing. Figure a few dry runs before we try a system with earth-like planets. And that is a stupid big number too, we started findin’ them back in the 2000s and all.”

Maxwell nods. “Indeedy. On the bright side, space is big. So pretty good odds of not hitting things for a while.”

“….. fuck that. I want something to push away the specks of dust as I fly by at light speed plus anything.” Maurice frowns deeply.

Maxwell chuckles. “Oh, there’s dust everywhere. I meant more that it’s unlikely you’ll go barreling through a stray planet. Though at that speed it’d probably make one heck of an exciting explosion.”

“The milliseconds before I am from here to the next arm of the Milky Way.” Maurice agrees. “The big shit, well, that’s bad luck, like hittin’ an iceberg at the speed of sound.”

Maxwell nods. “Quite… hrm. I wonder if Tilsworth has considered the implications of plotting courses when you’re going faster than your sensors can get your data. Better get that on the agenda if it isn’t.”

“If I hit something that ain’t supposed to be there, nuffin’ can be done about it. That is the danger. We ain’t ever gonna predict all that shit. Me? I am thinkin’ we do a series of small jumps. Make it longer but, shit, safer, right?”

Maxwell nods. “Quite. I’m just thinking that we’ll want some good long-range information to feed into some sort of navigation computer to sort out whatever jumps are viable. Probably shorter ones at first, of course.”

“Hell, I don’t mind takin’ jumps through systems I know and all that before jumpin’ ta something far as fuck away,” Maurice says.

Maxwell nods and stifles a yawn. “Well, anyway. I’ll be sure to bring up this topic with the good doc if you don’t beat me to it. Meantime, I’m going to see about some sleep.”

“You do that there, chief.” Maurice tips his non-existent cowboy hat. “I am going to have a one-man pants off dance off, so do not mind the music.”

Maxwell smirks as he pockets his PDA and pushes off towards the living quarters.

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Wes Platt

Lead storyteller. Game designer and journalist. Recovering Floridian.

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