Jolana knocked gently on the door, Alex peering around blearily as a panel flickered on nearby, "Who is it?" A face squinted from the image, before blinking in surprise, "Oh, hello! I'll let you in in a sec."
Jolana nodded and waved slightly as the screen flickered back off, Alex walking closer curiously, "Come here often?"
"Uhh, well... I used to. Not so much any more, but we still talk a lot." Jolana fidgeted, smiling nervously, "Hadn't thought this all through."
Confused, Alex was distracted by the door opening, a tall, gruff man smiled as he waved them in, "It has been a while! Come in, I'll make some room for you two to sit down. Want to see that project I mentioned a while ago?"
Jolana laughed as she weaved through a swathe of debris, machine parts and electronics forming small mounds throughout the workshop, "I had forgotten about that, actually. No, I wanted to introduce you to Alex, a visitor we have staying with us."
The man raised an eyebrow, "I'm hurt! You sounded like you loved the idea of the atom scale vr." Chuckling, he moved some circuit boards off of a small couch, "However, I will never say no to you bringing people over."
Alex coughed slightly, hiding a smirk as they whispered, "Atomic vr?" Jolana simply rolled her eyes, pushing Alex down onto the couch before sitting next to them.
As the man chuckled again, Jolana sighed, "Anyway, this guy his is Max. We go way back, he is a virtual reality enthusiast. wants to use it to help teach the world more efficiently." Nudging Alex in the ribs, she grinned, "And this is Alex... One of the more unique individuals I have met."
Max held out a hand, which Alex politely shook, "Nice to meet you. And, say... You wouldn't happen to know Sam Elunetir, would you?"
Alex blinked in surprise, "Uh, yes I do, actually. I came here with the doctor. I am... A personal assistant."
Max nodded thoughtfully, "Ahh. Explains why I have geard so little from Jolana lately. I was at that first presentation, and hoo boy, you put on quite a show! I thought I had seen you somewhere..."
Alex nodded with a smile, "Yes, the doctor has always been... Unconventional. And now that you mention it... I vaguely recognise you from somewhere... But not-"
Jolana interrupted with a blush, "If you hadn't met him at that meeting, this would be the first time. He never leaves the haven."
"Can't go long without my workshop, I would go nuts!" Smirking, he turned to tap at his computer, "Maybe Alex here saw some old photos of us somewhere?"
"Unlikely, but maybe that was it." Jolana peered over Max's shoulder curiously, "Still want to show us that sim?" As Max nodded, she continued, "In which case... I have a better idea. Firstly, I remember you having an old encrypted line to our place. How secure is it, and what bandwidth?"
Max glanced up, curious, "... I haven't used that thing in ages. I could get it running, but it will take a moment. The bandwidth should be decent."
Jolana leant back, leaning on Alex's shoulder, "Well then... Please do." Peering up at a now blushing Alex, she smiled, "Have any projectors stashed in your pockets?"
Alex shook themself, "Uh, I did grab a small prototype Dr Elune had been working on... Needs to be plugged in, and the quality isn't great yet. Also high failure rate."
"That'll do." As she glanced back over at a now very amused Max, she poked her tongue out, "What? Jealous?"
"Nah, just didn't figure Alex here was your type. You always did go for the brains, or the brawn."
Alex blushed much brighter, saying nothing as Jolana giggled, "Oh, Alex is smarter than you, I will bet on it. And for brawn... What is the heaviest thing you have lifted?"
Blinking, they thought about it, "Umm... Like this? I have carried two people at one before, if that helps."
Max laughed, "I stand corrected. Can't judge a look by it's cover, in this day and age. The perks of being Sam's right hand man, I assume?"
"... I guess you could say that." Squirming from all the attention, Alex took a deep breath, "How is the line going? Or, you had something to show us?"
"Oh yeah. Line is at... One more minute." Turning back to his computer, he moved a sceen over to show them, "And this... Is a nuclear reactor simulation."
Alex leant forward, Jolana sitting back upright as she smiled. Curious, Alex watched the screen closely, "Hmm, hadn't thought to simulate radioactive properties and rates of decay."
"You interested in physics too? Now I'm getting a much clearer picture..." Grinning, Max moved the screen back, "I assume I am connecting to your house, so you can one-up me using Sam's tech?"
Jolana shook her head, "Not Sam's... Alex's. A certain someone like running sims in their spare time, when not working for the eccentric doctor~"
Max sighed, "Figured. Let's have a look, then." Pointing at a server nearby, Max nodded, "Connection is basically ready, use whatever ports you need."
Alex glanced at Jolana nervously, who smiled sweetly, "Not neccessary. Alex will be using wireless. You did bring your phone with you, right?"
Alex nodded, "Right. That should be enough to issue the commands. I will need to power this, though..." Hiding a thankful smile to Jolana, Alex rummaged around for the HPA, pulling out a small pod the size of their palm.
Max picked up the device, glancing it over, "Yeah, I have cables for this. Anything specific?"
"No, even computer power supply can do. Mains power would be prefered. Just make sure to sit it upright." Pulling out their dummy phone for answering calls, Alex set up a fake control display, "Oh, looks like I can see the encrypted line already... Mind if I...?"
Max nodded in amusement, setting up the HPA in the middle of the room as Alex concentrated for a moment, slumping against Jolana subtly... Before blinking, eyes clearer, "Oh, this is a much better connection. Let's do this, then."
Jolana smiled knowingly up at Max, who frowned before jumping as the HPA smoothly whirred to life, a cube flickering in the air between them. "Decent opacity... Slight flickering. Good enough."
"Good en- That is uncanny how clear it is! I can see why you have been busy, selling these things." Jolana shushed Max, already used to seeing the projectors in action. Alex tapped at their screen, relaxing into the couch as they set up the next scene.
Max whistled as the cube simply unfolded, revealing a similar power plant to what had been on the screen... Only in 3D, with more data popping up to either side, slowly revolving as the sim started.
"Nicely done... The figures look accurate too. This has to be real-time, as you- Hey, wait. How did you include the radiation so quickly? And with such detail, too..."
Alex froze, tapping to pause the sim for now as they thought quickly, "Oh, uh... Well..."
Max grinned smugly, "Ah, I see. That explains the need for an encrypted line. You use a two-way trasmitter somehow, don't you?"
Jolana swallowed, thankful that Alex didn't have to make something up, "Yeah, that's right. Risky, but it makes working on all the projects easier. Sam doesn't like it though, which has made it awkward to talk about."
Alex nodded slowly, nervously smiling, "Yeah... Sorry. I instinctually freeze up when asked." Restarting the sim, Alex put the phone down, sighing as they looked closely at the revolving projection.
Several hours later, Jolana waved goodbye to Max, easing a slightly tired and disoriented Alex into the pod, "Promise you will swing by, we have tons to show a vr nerd like you!" Max simply laughed, nodding as he waved goodbye.
Alex groaned as they blinked sleepily as Jolana, "Sorry... Got too used to the encrypted line. Also pushed myself more than I thought on those sims..."
Jolana ruffled Alex's hair gently, leaning on them to support them, "That's okay... Today was fun. I can let you know if anything happens, so just sleep for now." Alex nodded, yawning... That sounded like a good idea.
Sighing with relief once Alex went limp, Jolana looked up at the roof, "... I probably should have warned you about Max. I can always tell you before next time, though... At least he was foolish enough not to notice."