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      The screen lit up showing an exterior view of the base. One of the oldest designs for deep space free-floating station going, the view is neither impressive nor flattering. These stations were replaced by J, K, and L series stations many years ago, and the vast majority were decommissioned to various fates. This station, SL-374-II replaced the even older and smaller base at this location, 374-I and was downgraded from a Space Port to Patrol Base and thus it began a second career.

      The viewer went dark for a second then showed the outside view of the station again.


      Historical File. Star Date 45843.1
      "Base construction detail test of operating systems. Test recording of log entry system. Testing, Forty five, eight, forty three."
      The screen showed the back of the speaker's head. It was large and hairy, but obviously Humanoid. It turned around. The face was just as large and hairy, and Human as well. He wore a dark red full beard that spread out on his chest over a non-uniform issue shirt. He was about to speak again when a communicator someplace spoke up.
      "Barker to Norman. Norm! We got another air leak."
      "Nail it down." The bearded man said.
      "The seam's splitting, we're loosing the whole section."
      "Damnit." Norman spit out. He turned on his heel and stomped from the room. "I'm on my way."
      The recording ran on for awhile, workers came in and did things to various consoles. Several people came in with an anti-gravity scaffold and worked on things in the ceiling for a couple of noisy minutes. Several loud bangs could be heard now and again, the picture shook a few times to the noises. The scaffold crew went away.
      "That's got to go. The specs say it's supposed to be a model 119." A crewman said coming into the picture pointing at an overhead display.
      "Nineteen, seventeen, what's the difference?" His partner said.
      "Five degrees of resolution."
      "OK, I'll take it down. You want it neat or fast?"
      "I want it down. The other one's in cargo two, I'll go get it." He left the room.

      Our view showed the worker eyeing the offending display. He reached into his belt pack and took out what appeared to be a small disruptor. He backed up a few steps adjusted his 'tool' and aimed carefully. The blast showered the whole room with pieces of display and sparks. An alarm began sounding immediately. He walked unhurriedly to a console and silenced it.
      "Sorry about that. Just making some adjustments." He said into the com panel.
      Then he stood under where the display had been and began yanking out what was left of the unit.
      His partner came in with the new display. "I ain't saying a word." He said as he figured out what had happened to the old one.
      They worked to install the new one in the hole.
      Norman came back in still wearing most of an environmental suit, he sat the helmet down and looked at the mess. "You two are cleaning this up." He said.
      "Yes sir. Just as soon as we install the rest of these." One of them said patting the display. "The next one is supposed to be a twenty-four." He pointed away from the viewer.
      Norm shook his head and touched a control next to the display. "Voice recognition test. Identify me." He said rather loudly.
      The computer was silent. Norm looked over at a panel next to the viewer. "Announce it."
      "Systems Engineer Parsons."
      "Wrong." He touched the controls, unsatisfied he keyed his communicator. "Debbie, what's wrong with the pickup up here?"
      "I needed it half an hour ago." An angry female voice said in reply.
      "What did you need?" Norm asked.
      "Not you. Nevermind. You got a problem with your pickups?"
      "Yeah. It's not getting the full audio spectrum. The treble is dropping out."
      "I'm looking at it. Say something."
      "Drop dead Debbie." Norm said half to the ceiling.
      "You're right. No treble. Looks like a couple of the audio sensors are dead. I'll add them to the list."
      "All yours."

      Norm went to the next console, he ran his hands over the controls and looked at another display. He keyed his communicator again. "Mister Mortus. What's the status of the dorsal sensor array?"
      "Mortus is busy, this is Qualon."
      "What's wrong with the dorsal sensors?"
      "They don't work."
      "I can see that. What's wrong?"
      "They don't work."
      "When will you have them on line?"
      "As soon as I figure out why they don't work."
      "Where's Mortus?"
      "Working on the lateral sensors."
      "They work."
      "They do now. Dorsals are next."
      Norm gave in to the absurd. He went to the next panel. But he was interrupted by another call.
      "Commander, this launch tube is showing power spikes."
      "Hang on." He went to fighter control. "Which tube?"
      "Three. I got two spikes during pre-launch."
      "OK, let's do it again. I'm starting the countdown at... mark..."
      "There. See it?"
      "Got it. OK, the surge started during the handoff to onboard control. There's a problem in one of the relays."
      They discussed the problem and decided to replace the relays.
      With that in hand, Norm went back to his checks.
      "Environmental. I'm still getting too much nitrogen on decks nine and ten, sections Beta and Charlie. Is it sensors or do we have some bad air?"
      "This is Hastings, I'll check it out. My bet is a sensor feed, but don't hold me to that."
      He stayed at the environmental panel. "There's no water going to medical?" He said to himself. Then he keyed his communicator and repeated the question.
      "We got that one sir. There was a stuck valve in the supply line. It froze during transit when the heat failed in that section. I'll have the new one in shortly."
      "Good deal." He nodded and touched some other controls. Then he moved to the next station.
      "This is a mess. I'm not getting some frequencies." He evidently didn't mind talking to himself. "No G-6 subspace at all." Norm ran through the controls, "It was never even installed. And it wasn't ordered, they'll have to live without it." He went on some more, but he was interrupted by another issue below decks.
      "Norm, run your waste disposal protocol. I'm not getting a dump cycle on the bulk waste."
      "OK, hang on." He went back to the environmental station and touched the panel to bring up what he needed. "Nothing." He said to the communicator. "It comes up, but it won't engage the discharge vent. Hey! It's been disabled."
      "Yup, I've got the engineering log right here. Six months before it was decommissioned, they disabled the waste dump to appease some 'Clean Space' types."
      "What did they do to it?"
      "Says they sealed the vent outside." He grinned at the console. "That and they unplugged the ejector power supply."
      "Consider it replugged and unsealed."

      The work continued. Another crew came in and worked for some time in what would become the station office. Norm left to see to something else, and came back to run another test on the sensors. Then a very tall, very thin woman came in pushing a work cart to do something else.
      "Well, she honors us with her presence."
      "Maybe we should test that waste chute with you." She sneered.
      "Which audios are bad Debb?"
      "All of them." She got an anti gravity platform out of the cart.
      "You're sure?"
      "Nope, can't tell, the diagnostic isn't that sophisticated. So I'm going to replace them all and test them later." Debbie climbed on the platform and floated toward the ceiling. "Help me out will you?"
      Norm reached up and tugged at her uniform pants leg, "OK."
      "Not on duty." She kicked at his hand half-seriously, "Give me a new unit out of the box." A sensor with a tail of thin fiber optic cable dropped from the ceiling.
      He plundered through the cart and found what she wanted.
      "So how close are we to being done with this heap?" She asked.
      "Almost there. Just minor tuning up now. We can be out of here before next week."
      "We're almost too good for our own good." She floated across the room to another sensor, soon it too was flying towards the supply box.
      "Worried about working yourself out of a job?"
      She stooped a little on the platform, her long legs accented by the fact she was over a meter from the floor. "No, worried that I might have to actually work for a living." She held out a hand for another sensor.
      Soon she had replaced them all. "OK, try it." She said to Norman.
      "Computer, identify me."
      "Chief engineer, Lieutenant Commander Norman Carstanovich. Current assignment, Space Lane Station 374-II conversion."
      "Computer, identify speaker."
      "Optical-Electronics Specialist Deborah Linger. Current assignment, Space Lane Station 374-II conversion."
      "Good enough." Norm said.
      Debbie ran one more. "Computer, Command Inquiry, where is Captain Malixor Trabor assigned?"
      It took a long second. "There is no Captain Trabor in the Star Fleet active duty files."
      "Where is Ensign Qualon?"
      "Ensign Qualon is on deck six, corridor two, outside sensor control panel..."
      "That's enough." Norm cut it off.
      "Ok?" She said to him.
      "It works."
      She gathered up her equipment.
      "Always." She smiled at him. The electricity between them was noticeable even on the old recording.
      The mood was shattered by the communicator. "What're you getting for the nitrogen on deck ten now?"
      "Always happens." Norm smiled and puckered his lips through his beard.
      "I pay them to do that." Debbie smiled and pushed her cart out.
      "Give me a minute." Norm said to the air. "OK. Hey, that's an improvement, but I'm reading zero N for ten. No, I'm reading zero across the board, what's up?"
      "Bad interface. One second... Try it now."
      "Looks better. OK, levels are fine. Leave it."
      "You want me to leave the interface hanging out of the wall?"
      "Not exactly."
      "The interface is fried, I'll replace it and put it back. Same with deck nine."
      Norm was smiling as he approached the log station. "Now, let's see how you're doing." He said to the console. "It's been on all this time. That should be interesting." He reached for a button chuckling.
      The view went dark.

Continued in: The Station Part 1

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[NOTE:This Story Is FAN FICTION. This presentation carries the copyright The Media Desk, 2005. Author retains all rights, including the right of approval for publication. STAR TREK, and all images and situations affiliated with STAR TREK are originally owned and copyrighted by PARAMOUNT STUDIOS and other entities. They are used in this story without intent to harm or otherwise defame PARAMOUNT or the estate of Gene Roddenberry. If either of those parties object to it, the story will be pulled immediately. The Media Desk is not in any way affiliated with PARAMOUNT. For information contact Levite. Email- drleftover[~at-]themediadesk[~dot-]com (email scrambled to screw with spammer robots), or surface mail to: The Media Desk, PO Box 1276, Dover, DE 19903 ]