Station Keeping #8: Fresh Eyes

Welcome to this week's Station Keeping I hope you've been enjoying the series so far. I like this episode bunches, but I suppose that goes without saying. Before we jump into this weeks story, however, I wanted to share with you a few developments. First, if you're interested in participating in SK, or any part of tealart, check on the `participation guidelines <http://tychoish.com/participate>`_, there's even a special section for SK. As always, we live for your feedback, and you can leave it in the comments, address it to me personally (tycho@tealart.com) or to the writers group and I'll make sure that the message is properly delivered. I look forward to hearing from you, and enjoy!--tycho

Working Overtime

Josh undid the collar of his uniform jacket--he was supposed to feel grateful that the Navy permitted Hanm Centre officers wear the, only slightly, more comfortable field variant, but he didn't--and sighed with relief at the idea that his shift was over. "Hey, Julia, are you going to work late, you should be done for today,"

There was a pause before she responded, and she didn't look up from what she was doing when she said "um yeah, I'll be right there, almost done with this file tree."

Josh chuckled. File tree, Josh thought that was an interesting way to conceptualize the data, he almost left the command center, but then thought better of it. Though Hanm Centre was important in the grand scheme of things, and he loved interacting with so many different people, it wasn't like there was all that much for them to do at this moment. It wasn't like they had to keep the station from flying into a black hole or anything.

"No really, you're done for today. Come with me," he said mustering as much authority in his voice as he could. He couldn't, however, keep a straight face.

She snapped out of her haze just in time to process what she had heard and she chuckled. "I suppose you're right." She shut off her computer and slowly moved out of her chair. It took her a moment to stretch out to her full height. "I need to not get lost in work so much," she pondered, "well whatever, I have priority to the computer core here, and what else is there to do?"

"Well, let's see," Josh herded the on-staff databases administrator and computer whiz into the elevator headed for the station's poorly named, "common space."

Evening Stroll

Josh always imagined that the common spaces on the station would be more occupied then they were. Even though the station was mostly completed, it would still be a while before there was any regular traffic simply because of the way space travel worked. Josh tried to be more optimistic but at the moment, the station looked mighty dreary. "How do you are you liking this posting?" Josh asked when they stepped out of the lift.

"Oh, it's alright. I'm something of a perfectionist with these computers," she paused for a moment and looked at her left arm, on which, Josh realized, Julia was caring a mini-computer terminal. "So it's nice to be able to organize a system basically from the get go. And besides all this gear is pretty high-tech--for the rim worlds--so that's a plus."

"Yeah, I felt the same about the construction management when I came aboard, but it kind of lost it's glean after a while."

"How long were you out here before the rest of us got here?"

"Few years, three and a half I think. I was on assignment a few worlds over, and being young and unattached, they moved me out here, because apparently I was the closest. Go figure."

"And here you are. Spend a lot of time on the rim, then?"

"A little. I grew up core-side, but figured there was more to see. And I have to say that Hanm has really grown on me." Josh reported.

"I grew up on ships, moving about every so often, we saw a lot of rim worlds, I can't say they did much for me. Is Hanm really that special?"

"Particularly with this station, you bet. Most important rim world, the way I figure it." Josh was almost baffled that she didn't know Hanm.

"Everything's so far apart, I totally don't buy what the news people are saying about the Hanmists. The league'll hold."

"You know as well as anyone that core and rim are all relative terms, star-density is about the same, we just got to the 'core' first."

"--that's what I meant." she cut him off.

"How familiar are you with the Hanmists, anyway?" Josh continued.

"Not much, just what I grazed in the reports." she said, sounding a bit embarrassed. Hanm Centre was just a job for her, she was so used to moving around almost constantly that she had grown a thick skin for "settling in."

"Look harder," Josh said, stopping to turn to Julia "See what's on the nets, it probably should be part of your job."

"What do you think it's a threat? Otherwise no harm in letting people talk about whatever they want, didn't the league learn that lesson the hard way a few centuries ago." Julia spoke of the past as if it were only a few months ago, which it might not have been far off, Josh realized. He never checked to see when her objective birthday was: relativity screwed things up so bad. It gave him a headache, and he convinced himself that it didn't really matter.

"I don't know that I'd say threat, but it's worth keeping an eye on, and whatever happens this place," he said, tapping his foot gently for emphasis, "is going to care."

"I'll say."

"And what happens there," Josh pointed to the mini-terminal screen strapped to her forearm, "is just as important as what happens out here."

"You mean in 'reality'?" she said with mock amazement and horror. They laughed.

"Yeah," he took a deep breath, "but, just one officer to another: keep your eyes open. Someone here needs to know what's going on," he pleaded.

"The nets are pretty cool, I'll give myself--and them--that, but they're not that good." She said, hoping that she hadn't overcommitted herself.

"It's something. Anyway, lets keep walking: it's a big station."

"Fresh Eyes" was written by, `tycho <http://tychoish.com/tycho>`_, the creator of `TealArt <http://tychoish.com>`_ and [Station Keeping](http://tychoish.com/hanm"). He is a student and knitter by day and a science fiction writer by night, you can read his work elsewhere on `TealArt <http://tychoish.com>`_ and at `~/tychoish <http://tychoish.com>`_.

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