Welcome to Station Keeping this is the second installment in our first "season" of this project. It's fiction, collaboratively written and planned: set in the distant future, station keeping tells the story of the residents and visitors to a space station called "Hanm Centre" far away from the populated core worlds. As you will read, this episode introduces a number of important characters in this story, on the eve of their arrival on the station. I hope you enjoy, and if you are interested in contributing to this project we are interested in hearing from you. Your feedback is always welcome and is most appreciated.
"Damnit!" Taila exclaimed throwing her notes on the desk. She had sent a message to Joshua Sian on Hanm Centre, without attaching the crew rotation that she had promised. Normally such an error wouldn't have caused much of a problem, but the time delay between her ship and the station for messages was still too long for comfort. She had to wait for the response before she could go off duty, so Talia's shift just got a little bit longer: "it's not like there's anything worth doing, cooped up on the ship like this anyway," she reasoned, closing her eyes and leaning back in the chair.
The doors opened to the skipper's office with out warning and Talia sat up with a start.
"Skippers' office, eh?" Eli Banner said, attempting to appear as if he was expecting to find Talia in his office.
"Sorry, sir," Talia gathered her things slowly, but when the skipper sat down in one of the other chairs, she relaxed and stayed in the chair. "I was just coordinating our arrival with Joshua Sian on the station, and wanted some quiet to write the messages--because we're still text-only. Besides, the comptuer and crew don't need me to watch over them while they slow down... so slowly" she reported, still somewhat uncomfortable sitting on this side of the desk.
"It's fine, don't worry about it, it's just a room," Eli said. Had there been actual business for the day, he might have been more interested in reclaiming his office, but it was just as well: the entire crew was enguaged of tedious game of appearing busy while trying to hide the fact that they were all bored out of their minds. "What did Sian have to say for himself? Keeping the station in one piece I trust?"
"It's not fin--" Talia began, but of course the commander knew that already. "More or less, I suppose: I have to resend some data to the station before I can go off duty, but I think we've made all the necessary arrangements for docking," she said, offering a printout report of the docking plan.
"The other ships aren't going to be happy about having to wait so long to disembark." He commented and handed the paper back.
"It happens, they'll deal."
Eli chuckled, "We'll make a station governor of you yet." Talia didn't quite manage to stifle a glare. Eli continued "relax, get some sleep: I don't have anything scheduled for this shift so I can I'll send the message."
"It's alright, really, my mistake." Talia paused, but before Eli could agree "I can't decide what's worse, the thought of staying on this ship for another instant, or the thought of spending the next several years of my life on a station in orbit of Hanm."
"Easy; this ship is worse than the station. Now give me that paper, before I put a mark on your record for sitting in my chair," he joked. They stood and he grew serious for a moment "It all different, it always is, but you'll do fine." He punctuated his sentence with a smile, as he took her stack of files.
"You're probably right. Good shift, sir," she said, before turning to leave the office. "Lets avoid doing that again, shall we?" she thought after the door shut.
David Conrad and Marc Perrin stepped off the shuttle they owned onto the docking ramp to find the entire cavernous bay devoid of people. They stood on the other side of their air lock in silence, waiting for something to happen.
Marc rubbed his eyes, which had begun to tear from exhaustian: "Aren't we supposed to have a landing party, here? or something?" Marc whispered, leaning slightly toward David.
"I guess not, we're just normal folk now, I guess."
"Speak for yourself, I actually have a job here," Marc said, pinching his shirt where the rank pin would have been, had he been wearing a uniform. Actually, given that he was in civvies he almost hoped that there wouldn't be a welcoming party.
David chuckled. A uniformed figure trotting briskly across on the far side of the docking bay caught his attention, and he waved. "I guess that's your welcoming party," he commented as they began to walk down the ramp.
"Sirs, sorry. We're still a bit short staffed: the real crew doesn't get here till the begining of the week after next." Joshua was still a bit out of breath from his heroic run down from the command center. "I'm Joshua Sian, Lieutenant. I've been keeping the lights on, and organizing the last construction details before the crew gets here. Is there anything I can do to help you move in? A tour?"
"It's David," David responded looking distracted by the wall behind Sian.
"Sir?" Sian asked, looking quickly over his shoulder.
"It's just David these days, none of this sir stuff."
"Oh, right, sir--Daivd." Sian corrected himself, and suppressed a squirm. There was silence.
"We have some crates that should probably be unloaded before we move the shuttle out of this bay, if you could arrange for that it would be great." Marc said, taking charge of the conversation. "The deceleration was a bit longer than we expected and I for one am a bit too tired for a tour right now. Can we schedule one for tomorrow?"
"Sure, that would be great." Sian turned his attention away from David who seemed far more interested in gazing around the bay, "Are the crates marked?"
"Should be." Marc confirmed, before swallowing a yawn.
"I'll get someone down here to take care of that right away." Sian made a note on a micro-tablet that he seemed to produce from thin air. "Can I show you to your quarters now?" He offered.
"That would be great," Marc said. When Sian turned around, Marc glared at David and mouthed silently "Way to be the strange kid, fix it would you."
David looked quizzically at Marc, and then getting a clue stepped up next to Joshua; "What's the construction schedule looking like at this point?" he asked.
"We're doing pretty good, but nothing is really fast enough." Sian was caught off guard, but he quickly relaxed as they began to talk about station operations and construction.
Marc smiled, and yawned again, as he watched the two men talk, but he had no interest in keeping up with the discussion. He could hardly think about anything except the amount of time between the present and the soonest opportunity to sleep.
"First Arrival" was written by, `tycho <http://tychoish.com/tychoish>`_, 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.