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Log Entry: Star Date 47342.1
The viewscreen changed from the image of the station to the logo for Fleet Personnel headquarters.
The next picture on the viewer was, of all things, a civilian that appeared to be of mixed race, mixed species, of an untellable age, and not even readily identifiable as male or female. However it had an air of calm confidence and competence that rendered the lack of an official uniform academic. It spoke slowly and clearly.
"For ages, there have been scattered reports of conduct and behavior aboard Space Lane Station Three Seventy-Four- Two that has been very far from the norm expected of a Star Fleet post."
The speaker seemed to be female. But that was inconclusive at best.
"We have attempted to either confirm as true, or dismiss as rumor several of these reports on several occasions. During his tenure Commander, now Captain, Marsin was cooperative. And likewise, Commander Straider cooperates. Both of them though did so only as far as they officially had to go. Neither volunteered any information, and their people said precious little more than that as well. I personally spent some time on the station and determined that, based solely on observation, that almost everything we had heard in rumor, was at least to some degree true."
The person almost cracked their face with a slight smile. "And some was fanciful, and possibly even jealous embellishment of a minimal truth with a great deal of wishful thinking."
It took a deep breath. "Sirs. I present several incidents, both in rumor form and what we determined to be the truth of the matter."
The viewscreen changed back to the station for a second. The voice over was the same personnel authority. Then it ran through a series of stills and short videos of the station's command areas and staff.
"The rumor that ranking officers on the station routinely report for duty completely nude, is only partially true. While Commander Marsin did allow a greater degree of flexibility on what constituted the uniform of the day, Commander Straider requires at least a Star Fleet issue shirt while on duty in the command center. It should be noted here that Commander Straider seldom appears in less than a Star Fleet light duty uniform.
"Reports of lower ranking and enlisted personnel's attire can scarcely be exaggerated however." The viewsceen showed the civilian again. It was now smiling.
"The chief engineer, whose name need not be mentioned here, is reported to not even possess a current issue uniform. This was not confirmed, but there is no reason to doubt it based on this observer's contact with the man. The current medical officer, while only on temporary assignment, has admitted that she has given into the madness and worn only a duty smock to have access to pockets and to give her someplace to hang her communicator. It can also be noted that this practice does save on usage of the clothing reprocessors, which are known to be seriously outdated and unreliable, but if it were made an issue with central supply, new processors could be found for the station."
The face was back with its smile. "However, it doesn't seem to be that important." The authority barked lightly, a laugh.
"The second major rumor was that these more or less clothed people are engaging in nothing more than a deep space house of orgiastic fantasy. This was found to be based on only a grain of truth."
The view of the interior of the station was back.
"While some fraternization is to be expected among a crew so far out and in such tight quarters with such limited opportunity for constructive recreation. We actually found LESS of it on the station than we had elsewhere. The relationships we found were long term and basically monogamous. While the Fleet can never encourage such behavior, if we could, this situation would have to be considered a model for it."
There was a pause. "If you are looking into this report in hopes of finding romantic intrigue and innuendo, I am sorry to say, you should stick to the files of rumors and suppositions." Another light bark of a laugh. "There are far more interesting reports based on some of the conduct on the SOVEREIGN and GALAXY class ships, and most certainly on any of the several large starbases than this small station."
"As for the outrageous behavior known as the 'swing orbit'. This is true. In all its sheer lunacy. While on the station, this documenter observed one such example."
It paused for effect.
"I was in the tiny dining hall on the station when some of the crew came in and stood by the windows excitedly talking and actually wagering handfuls of currency from several worlds on something that was about to begin. I inquired as to what was happening and got a full briefing on the event. A new crewman was about to attempt his first jump. 'Virgins' as they called them, rarely made more than two full orbits and the wagering was based on his either getting two or failing to do so."
"To better meld into this environment, I placed a small wager on his completing two. Then somebody shouted and we all looked out. The individual went by the window at the end of a startlingly thin cable. He swung out of our view and there was a furious round of counter wagers. Then he was back. Somebody announced over the intercom that that was one full orbit. More wagering."
A barking laugh. "I seriously doubt if anybody was keeping close track of the bets and it is very possible some debts went unpaid. In any case, in a minute the crewman was back in view, somebody from the control deck announced his second full orbit and there were several heartfelt cheers. Whether for the accomplishment or for the money won was unclear. But the novice orbiter had had enough and called for emergency beam-in. I remembered my bet and collected my winnings. I now had twenty full credits where I had bet ten. But I saw many full strips of latinum and many other various bits of currency change hands." The smile was a bit wider this time.
"I went to check on the swinger. He was in the sickbay seriously space sick from his time in free-fall. But he was elated and talking about doing it again."
The official face was back. "I left the station before the repeat performance."
The view changed to a tour of the lower reaches of the station. "Another rumor that is true, doesn't do the truth justice in another way. This station should be immediately shut down and towed toward the heavy weapons test range and used for practice." The official face nodded.
"I have seen equipment older than I am still in daily service. They had a fighter service ship twice the age of the ensign flying it. Their subspace communications array still had an equipment tag on the side of it that said it was a 'subspace radio', the visual channels are an add on!" The being sighed. "But they seem to like it this way. Commander Straider said he would rather keep the station and its character and crew than have it all replaced by a brand new station. And this observer notes that part of the personality of the crew is the age and condition of the station. You could not have these people on an up to date station. You could not have a regular Star Fleet crew on this station. It is symbiosis. They require each other as they are." There was a small bark.
"One thing that I must mention was the replicator in the recreation chamber. There was a hand written sign not to order anything hot to eat from the machine. I asked why, a crewman told me to try it and see. I ordered a hot cheese sandwich. The crewman took hold of my shirt and forced me backward a step. The sandwich materialized in flames. Burning cheese sputtered from the opening to land on the floor. The crewman ordered the machine to recycle the plate and it disappeared. The smell of burnt food lingered in the room for some time afterward."
The observer barked several times. "I ordered a cold cheese sandwich and had to wait for it to defrost somewhat before eating it. The crewman said the thermal control in the machine was broken. I asked him why they hadn't fixed it. He said, 'It is fixed, it didn't work at all for a couple of weeks.'" One more bark.
"That is the station. And its crew. It does not work perfectly, but it works. For where they are, and what they do, they are the best we could have ever wished for. The Commanders of this station, former, present, and future, should be commended, encouraged, and most of all, left to run their station as they know best how to do."
The face nodded. "Consultant Warinnin Li Dostor reporting for the Fleet Personnel Office."
The Personnel office logo faded from view.
Log Entry: Star Date 46312.8
The viewscreen changed from the station to several ships in formation flying away at high speed.
"We've taken everything we've got that will fly and joined a search for a pleasure craft that was stolen by some children from a colony in the Argana system. We're leaving a skeleton crew on the station. All our fighters, the TRAVASS, and the three shuttles are heading for the system. Doctor Weaver has half of sickbay in the science shuttle. Even a Starship is on its way. But the kids could be anywhere, if they are even still alive."
The screen showed a convoy of several other vessels coming towards the station group.
"Captain?" A voice said through the translator. "Captain?"
"This is Commander Straider."
"We are going to the next search area. You come with us?"
"We'll follow you. Continue on your way."
The Commander's face was back, dictating into the log.
"The ship we are looking for is not a deep space ship by any stretch of the imagination. It's a moon hopper. But the children's distress call came far from the local planet's system. Our hopes, which we cannot convey to the colonists, are very dim."
The ships from the colony were a collection of hard working mining craft, some inner system patrol ships, and a few light cruiser/corvair class ships. The runabout had the best sensors of the entire group.
"I detected the reported signature of the ship almost immediately. It led further away yet from the system." The commander said from the log.
"Mister Prato. I have their trail. Set course 218.8 mark 74." Welden said to the lead ship.
"Which course? How do we do that to your numbers?" The ranking colonist was at a loss.
"Perhaps we'll see if we can find them."
"Ah. Yes. Do it that Captain." The colonist replied.
"Course locked in." Lieutenant Welden answered before the Commander even said it. "Engaging."
The runabout wheeled in space and sped off on the course. The station's fighters not far behind.
"The signature ends just ahead. They ran out of fuel."
The commander laughed in spite of the situation, "Then they didn't get much further Mary." He keyed the fighter channel. "Fan out, full scans, the shuttle is probably dead in space and drifting."
"Nothing on the com channels." MarcTall said from his fighter.
"Nothing so far, refining the parameters." Lieutenant Welden said as her hands flew over the sensor controls.
"I've got a metallic object. Checking it out." Davis' voice said.
A tense minute followed.
"Space junk. Sorry."
The log entry resumed. "It was another ten nerve wracking minutes. But we found the shuttle. Five kids were inside huddled together."
"It's still in one piece. The emergency life support system is almost exhausted, but they're still alive." Ensign White said from her fighter.
"We're on our way. Doctor?"
"She's getting ready. We'll beat you there." Lieutenant Palmer said from the science shuttle. "I'll beam them over here as soon as we are in range."
The picture changed to one of the moon hopper surrounded by the base's ships.
"They had some minor frostbite, and a bit of space sickness. But they were no worse for the wear. But I hope they were all a bit wiser for the experience." The log narrated. "The oldest was ten, the youngest, five."
Commander Straider's face was serious. "Of course I gave the children a stern lecture. I was supposed to. But I really brought down the Fire on the leaders of the colony, as did the Captain of the ALLIANCE from being dragged off his mission for this. The colony's board promised and swore they would install voice print and retinal print safety equipment at their space port."
He chuckled. "My agreement was this. We will inspect the port in three months. If the equipment is not installed and working, or in the process thereof, the colony would be getting a bill for the equipment and personnel used in the rescue, including the cost to operate a NEBULA class starship for the duration. Since it was a preventable incident."
The log showed the small shuttle in tow behind the runabout.
"My bet is they will have everything in order before our inspection. When several of the leaders saw the figure for the rescue, I thought Doctor Swain was going to have to make another house call." The commander was grinning now.
The view cut back to the station and faded out.
Continued in: The Station Part 6
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