Welcome to episode #3 of Station Keeping. I hope you enjoy, and can welcome a few more characters to the station keeping family. As always, this project is a collaborative one, and I look forward to hearing from you for any reason, but particularly if you would like to contribute in any capacity. But please do enjoy! -- ty

Location: Command Deck

Joshua Sian trotted into the command center, it was like he'd spent the past two weeks running and always 10 minutes late. The space station shouldn't have been that big yet anyway. Before the door closed he called out "Status?" as he walked over to an open station.

"The first three ships are, within range, for docking, several are queueing up--and the rest will be here--in an hour or two." The crewmen's stilted response was punctuated as he worked furiously to pass messages along to the dock crew.

"As we expected," Sian noted as he began to adjust his own preliminary calculations. "Crewman?" Sain asked without looking up, his voice wavered slightly with concern. Thankfully, he managed to mostly stifle a wince at being unable to recall a name.

The entire command center crew responded, but their responses weren't synchronized.

"Where's the docking arm?" he asked, finally looking up at one of the displays. "We're going to need it really soon..."

There was no response.

"Well, bring it about! and inform the commander's ship that they might not have as much help as we promised." The error, though not inexcusable, was as much Joshua's fault as it was anyone else's: they were over worked and understaffed, and Joshua had planned on being in command half an hour earlier, until one of the construction teams demanded his attention. Thankfully the docking arm would probably extend (even in the right direction!) when it was needed, but it was still frustrating.

"We have space for the first two ships in bay 3, and the second ship in..." he paused to look up the docking plan again. "bay 6."

No one responded, there was no need.

"I'll take in the first two ships, then I need to get down to meet the commander, you can manage the rest, so get ready for it," Josh proposed. It was good that he was about to be done with being in charge of things like space stations: proposals didn't command in the same way that orders did.

"Should I call in Jacobs and Qunicy to help out with this?" One of the crew asked.

"Please do, It would be--" Sian trailed off, as he started concentrating on the docking arm, but everyone else was to busy to care what was to be.

Location: Docking Bay 3

"At least you're not late this time," David Conrad said to Josh as he jogged up to the hatch where Eli Banner was about to disembark.

"Once they step onto this deck, and people stop thinking that I'm in charge, I resolve to never run anywhere." Joshua said taking a deep breath. Josh was surprised to see David here, but almost more surprised that he spoke so freely.

"Don't say that, we might hold you to that." David chuckled, and looked toward the unmoving hatch.

"So what brings you around these parts?"

"I hear there's a ship docking."


"But I didn't--"

"It's alright, I have my ways, and I've been bored until we get the pub open, I don't have a lot to do. Besides, Eli's an old friend,"


"The commander."

"Oh. Right."

Before the silence settled again, the hatch hissed, and opened.

"Well, hello!" Commander Eli Banner said to David sounding surprised, as he stepped on to the station. The men hugged for a moment, and Talia Garn stepped out behind the commander and looked awkwardly at Joshua Sian.

"Talia Garn."

"Joshua Sian." Their introductions were soft and understated, as they were both more interested and surprised by the interaction between the commander and David Conrad.

"Talia, this is David Conrad; the David Conrad," the commander interrupted, sending Sain back into silence.

"A pleasure, sir," Talia said, extending her hand.

"What are you doing here?" Eli asked.

"I'm just the bar keep, watching and listening like always. Marc Perrin's doctoring, as usual."

"That's great," Eli smiled. The awkward we'll have to get a drink sometime."

"Bar isn't finished yet, but indeed we will."

"I suppose we have a job to do here?" Eli said, turning his attention to the young lieutenant. He motioned toward the corridor, to make room for the rest of the crew and passengers to disembark.

"Indeed, I have crew on the docking procedure of the convoy, and there's nothing else to report that I haven't already filed with you, sir."

"That's probably true," Banners response was a quick as it was dry.

Sian squirmed, he was unprepared to be the butt of all the new commander's jokes. "I actually have some paperwork for you, to transfer command and what not." Sain produced a tablet

"Sure, I'm sorry. We've been cooped up on the ships for so long, it's just good to get out." The commander took the tablet and began to confirm the transfer of authority. "I actually have heard that you've been doing a great job here." He looked toward Talia and David and offered a curt smile.

"Thank you, sir. It's good to have you aboard," Joshua said and indicated that they should talk the elevator at the end of the corridor.

As the others turned to enter the elevator car David recused himself; "I actually have an appointment, that I have to tend to, but I trust I'll see all of you soon."

"Thanks for stopping by," Eli said: the others just smiled kindly.

Joshua Sian inputed the code for the command center on the elevator's keypad once the doors closed and everyone was aboard. "That was so incredibly strange," he thought as the lift moved in silence.

"Guard Changing" 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.