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Part of Outpost Houtman (Archive): A matter of flipping coins

Welcome to the Jungle

Outpost Houtman
January 2, 2401
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Ethan sat on a pile of logs. He was wearing a heather grey t-shirt with the UFP logo over the left breast in navy blue and “Starfleet” printed in bold san serif letters on the back across the shoulders. His black cowboy hat was pushed back, and his hands were covered in a pair of well worn leather gloves. Hanging from a nearby post was his standard duty jacket 

“Mornin’,” Ethan greeted over a cup of coffee.  “Gonna be a hot one.”

“Greetings, Sir,” Lieutenant T’Rai said with a curt nod.

“As you may or may not have heard I am Ethan Talon, your new commander. I have perused through Commander Ga’s reports, but I want to hear the situation from all of you directly.  Commander Roberts you want to start?”

Roberts looked at the new Commander, still not sure how to process the past few weeks. She stood up and cleared her throat as she walked to the screen. “We have determined a spot for the base to set and are working on its preliminary construction. We still have many facilities that need built and lot’s of work to be done. If you look at your PADD, Sir. I have provided all the vital information for you to look over.”

Ethan picked up the PADD but, didn’t look it over. “I think having our medical staff working in tents has to be rectified sooner than later. The rest of the settlement is a little too temporary for my tastes. What do we need to do to make this happen?” He asked shaking the PADD in front of him to illustrate the point.

Roberts nodded “The biggest thing is to expedite the work, but we only have so many workers and that is causing some of our issues in the matter, but I will look and see what can be done.”

“That’s aways the rub isn’t it?  I’ll see about getting us some help. How about you Mr. Drasa?”

Saro was dying a little from the heat, even for a Cardassian. The stubborn man refused to take off his jacket, opting instead to suffer with his jacket on instead of daring to reveal the slightest hint of a feminine figure, “We are going as well as we can in this heat. Making it rather unbearable to do some work at times. Even for me.”

“Understood,” Ethan replied not actually understanding and giving Drasa a suspicious look. “Work in shifts, keep hydrated,  and those more vulnerable to the heat let’s try to keep them inside.” He made a mental note to speak with the man privately.  Something was bothering him.

Saro met Ethan’s suspicious look with a steely expression of his own. He clenched his jaw, feeling anger swell up for absolutely no reason other than the look he received. He replied cordially, “I understand, sir. I will make a push for my engineers to get things rolling faster.”

“We need basic and permanent facilities Mr. Drasa, and we need them yesterday. As my Chief Engineer it’s a problem that our medical staff is treating our people in a tent, and the science team is crammed into the command center. We need barracks, and security offices too. I want a planned time-line by the end of the day.  If you need something I’ll pull some strings to make it happen. I have connections to the ASDB, the 414th Engineering Fleet, and several civilian contractors including AlphaTek, and Hamilton Aerospace.   We’ll make this happen.”

Saro’s annoyance only rose at Ethan’s tone. A terse smile crossed his face, his voice calm and level, “I understand, sir. I will get a timeline and structured plan to you promptly.” He pressed his lips tightly together in a thin smile, trying to appear friendly and polite despite his heated temper boiling under the surface.

“Thank you Mr. Drasa.” Ethan leaned forward and refilled his coffee cup from the thermos sitting next to his feet. Replacing the cap he returned it to the grass. “How are the geological surveys for our mining operations going Ms. T’Rai?”

“They are proceeding at an agreeable rate, but I am working to ensure that they proceed faster,” the Vulcan responded. “My Horta compatriot is naturally quite skilled at geological information gathering, and he is currently working with the science teams performing the task to expedite operations.”

“That’s good to hear,” Ethan replied.  “You will have whatever resources you deem necessary to complete this task.  Coordinate with the senior staff for any equipment and personnel you may need.”

Ethan turned to the doctor,  “Well Doctor Seo, I understand you’re new here as well?”

“Yes, sir. It was a long trip in, but well worth the wait,” the slight woman said in a very calm and measured tone. Despite the tiny curls plastered along her brow and neck with sweat, she didn’t seem to complain. After almost a year on Vulcan, she surely wasn’t going to complain about the heat. The humidity, now, was another story.

Nodding, “Well, a medical tent surely isn’t your preferred set up I assume.  We’re working on that. What else do you need or have to report on the medical department?”

Seo leaned forward enough to fold her hands in front of her atop the table before speaking again. “We’re running inventory currently, so I cannot give you a list just yet. I would, however, suggest that because of the heat, all work shifts outside should be monitored for signs of heat exhaustion and provided plenty of fluids with added electrolytes or dextrose depending on the race of the crew. Shifts would feasibly be no more than 2 hours without a 30 minute break to lower the risk of exposure and various UV or heat induced illness. Any dizziness, diarrhea, vomiting, double vision, chills or shaking should be reported immediately for treatment.”

“That sounds reasonable. If it gets too hot we can start our shift earlier and call it a day when it gets its hottest,” Ethan added.

“Department-wise we are still understaffed in relation to the expected crew count by 2 ¼ duty shifts worth of bodies, meaning we are all working double time for the foreseeable future.  Beyond that, we are making use of what we have available and improvising the rest,” the CMO stated with the the same impetus as one casually remarking on the weather. 

Ethan sighed, “Everyone is a little short handed at the moment,  but I don’t want you or your people to burn out.  Try to get away as much as possible.  Have on-call staff that can report at night,  but aren’t technically on duty.”

The CMO nodded formally and said no more.

“Mr. Fuller right?” Ethan started, “What does our incoming traffic look like the week? How is Flight Control Department as a whole?”

“Daniel,” he added with a nod to confirm, sparing a moment to take in the early morning breeze before taking a seat opposite the new CO, “Busy. We’ve got a steady stream of supplies coming in on top of our usual activity. All in all, we’re making good progress.”

Ethan glanced at his watch, “I assume the supplies the Colorado Springs brought have been offloaded and are secured?  When’s our next shipment due in?”

“Yes Sir, I signed off on them before I left. We have additional cargo arriving in three hours, Starfleet is pretty insistent that the outpost is operational as soon as possible.” Daniel confirmed, a hand shielding his eyes from sunlight that somehow managed to pierce the thick canopy above.

“What does our shuttle fleet look like Mr. Ryozo?” Ethan asked over his coffee.

Little surprised to be here and to be asked that question but he didn’t mind getting some free time. His eyes rolled up a bit, shifting back and forth from the upper right to directly up as he was mentally counting what he remembered in the list versus what he’s seen so far. He wanted to make sure he wasn’t leaving anything out and that the numbers were accurate. Once he was certain, he looked directly at the Commander. “We have about a various number of different types of Bees, with some Type 4s, 7s, and 9s,” Ryozo paused as he rechecked his mental notes real quick. “And a scout or a couple Argo’s I believe, as well as a Colony and Science type shuttles.”

“Eventually I would like to take on some exploration missions of this system and surrounding area.  As my Chief Pilot get me a wish list. I have a few connections that can make that happen.  Also I would like an evaluation of all the pilots under you and their capabilities. We’re a little too close for comfort to the Breen and I don’t fully trust the Ferengi so a few fighters for planetary defense might not be a bad idea.”

Ryozo made a mental note of it, ‘exploration’, ‘wish list’, ‘pilot evaluations’. “I’ll see what I can do, sir. I’ll bring it up to Lieutenant Fuller for review first before submitting.”

“I would appreciate that,” Ethan responded. “You two are our lifeline and the projection of Starfleet to this system and to a lessor extent the sector.   You represent my eyes, my supplies,  and are critical to our mission success.”

“Aye, sir!” Ryozo will certainly try to not let that go to his head. Key word, ‘try’.

“Hello Ethan,” Kat said with a sly smile.  “Been a long time lad.”

“Hello Kat,” Ethan replied with a nod of his head.

“Aye well enough of the bloody mushy stuff,” she said with a grin.  “The outpost is secured. The electric fence keeps the wee beasties at bay,  but I dinnae wanna tangle with them that’s for sure. As for other security concerns… none. It’s just us laddie, and we have all been well behaved lads and lasses.”

“Whelp… that will likely be short lived,” Ethan replied.  “Will you be ready when we do start taking on civilians? Miners and freighters are notoriously rowdy.”

“Aye we’ll be ready.”

“Good,” Ethan replied.  “Keep me posted. If you need anything and I mean anything ask.  Okay, folks that about wraps things up. I appreciate you all meeting me here instead of the command center. I got to be honest with you, I prefer the outdoors. Oh, it’s hotter than blazes around here, and these damned uniform jackets are too hot for this weather.  I’m authorizing field uniforms or you can work without the jacket.”

Saro frowned at that little tidbit of news, hoping to keep his uniform and jacket as is. He did not want to shed any layers. He would rather suffer the heat.