Dana loved Mondays. Never mind that only the fabulously rich lived on Earth anymore; the calendar stuck. Even with the increase of rotating shifts as night and day became a matter of when you keyed your walls to either allow or generate light, there was still a noticeable bump in leisure time activities over the weekend. That meant that it was easier to get a seat in one of the cafes floating in what was left of Saturn, but better yet, Mondays she met with the old man.

He walked slowly, yet with a strange spring to his step, and he stood straight as any. They would speak for hours on every topic imaginable; and then, when a pair of boards was free, the battle would begin. Despite her misspent youth, Dana had always been a brilliant person - and a fierce fighter. The old man was the only one who could give Dana a proper challenge in go and chess.

At the same time.

By mutual consent, not strictly enforced, they did their best to time each turn close to the length of the other's: as he took a turn on one board, Dana took her turn on the other. As they strove to cooperate without words they struggled to defeat the other on first one board, then the other - the mental equivalent of a dance crossed with a knife fight. The rhythm of the games was fascinating - there was a constantly shifting balance between the two games, and the tempo inherent in the game itself, as well as the unique character of each specific playthrough. They might play several games of chess for each game of go; a wave of the hand and the pieces would shrink back down, and reform back in their starting positions. There was barely a pause in play, while beneath the clear floor at their feet, a planet was being butchered.

Today they'd rehashed their favorite argument; as with their best, it was inextricably linked to the boards. The old man favored strife and expansion; Dana took a more humanitarian view. They both wanted what was best for humanity; it was how to treat humans where they disagreed.


Gesturing at the still empty board, he grunted "And how much room's on ours to share, eh?"

"Room enough! The whole system's worth, and then, after..."

"Hmph! We'll see."

The go board was filling, possibilities falling away, borders reached. The game wasn't yet over, but it was late, and the board would remember them next time, and the game would start where it had stopped.

"And if pieces were never removed from the board, how much more quickly would it fill?"

"People aren't pieces. Even if they look the same, we can't tell what potential lies within. How can you just discard all of that as worthless?"

"Not worthless. But if each piece in the greater game is so much more, how grand the game itself?"

He rose to leave. Dana caught his eye and said "You know what they say about fighting for peace." Polymer legs flexing beneath him, the old man paused and turned: "Ahh, m'dear. Unless they've cooked up something new at that lab where you work, there's still only one way to make more virgins."

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