Yet Another Way Station

Lee and Guin had finished their goodbyes and met at ISSANet HQ.

During the morning briefing on the current mission, they listened as the senior project manager and lead investigator explained the usual dangers of space travel.

With their body enhancements, Lee and Guin could augment their memories, mentally setting up tag points in the conversation they were recording using the brain interface gear (i.e., BIG) directly connecting their central nervous system to the ISSANet, bypassing the old methods of written notes and MP3 voice recorders, although they could further augment their memories with written notes, if they so chose.

“…once the launch proceeds and you’ve exited Earth’s atmosphere, we’ll need you to double-check the deployed interstellar travel shielding, an unnecessary precaution, given our external cameras and sensor array, but, and this is an important ‘but,’ as we know, these are important steps in keeping you occupied and feeling important during the whole mission.”

They nodded.

Despite decades of research that every person handles space travel differently, ISSANet experts still insisted on treating every astronaut, cosmonaut, taikonaut and flax seed stowaway the same — reduce time alone, ensuring mission goals are met by assigning key but redundant tasks to eliminate total boredom and eventual apathy.

“…returning to Mars.  This time, though, we don’t want you to settle in.  No, instead, we’re using Mars as a second base of operations to coordinate a two-planet tracking system for your ultimate goal, the Oort Cloud.”

Guin looked concernedly at Lee.

“Yes, we know, in the past, several attempts to send humans that far away has resulted in psychosis associated with longterm isolation.

“That’s why we’re sending you two.  You have repeatedly demonstrated your resourcefulness at keeping yourself mentally engaged, the key component being your youthful playacting and infinite set of roles you create between each other.”

Lee and Guin smiled at each other.

Guin turned to the mission director.  “You know, of course, that we depend on our social connections for our roleplaying?”

“Yes.  That’s why we’re setting up a second communication base on Mars.  We hope that the combined transmission speeds of Mars and Earth-based systems will decrease the lag so that your virtual reality sets will feel like you’re actually on Earth or Mars or wherever with whomever you wish, roleplaying in realtime.

“Let’s take a break for lunch.  We want to introduce you to other team members and get you comfortable with each other.”

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