2879 A.D. - Tybratis System, Large Magellanic Cloud

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The well lit and largely monotonously beige circular control room was quiet. Only the occasional sound of a cough, a sniffle, or the rustle of fabric as someone walked past broke the silence. When he'd first been assigned command Zabut Reddus had often thought about just how strange it felt to be in space and not have the constant hum of engines or the thrum of a reactor to keep one company. Neither were necessary in this place. The small base that served as the forge's primary control facility was situated on the daylight side of a habitable, albeit tidally locked, little planetoid. The quark star that it orbited tightly, Tybratis, had been harnessed to provide literally trillions of times more energy than any reactor, or even set of reactors, could ever manage. In fact it was for this very reason that the forge had been constructed in orbit around Tybratis.

A soft interchange between two technicians on the far side of the room caused Commander Reddus to momentarily looked up from the scientific journal he'd loaded onto his datapad earlier in that morning.

It wasn't just the lack of loud machinery that one had to get used to living on the base, but also the lack of loud people. In ordinary day to day life, even in military life, seldom could you find a group of sentients with more than three or four members that didn't contain at least one loudmouth. It was different here.

The people that came to Flatrock, as they'd come to call the small planetoid, were not military or general populace. By and large they were academics. Reddus had often thought that the place reminded him more of a university campus than a military base. Despite being designated as an FWCS facility the forge outpost only had a handful of fleet personnel, with the vast majority of everyone else being either scientists or technicians. Despite the culture shock however the commander had decided some time back that he rather liked life on Flatrock.

The entire habitable side of the planetoid was covered in what could only be described as one endless enormous meadow. It was filled with colorful and sweet smelling flowers, devoid of trees or any significant topographical features, and inhabited by little more than the occasional inoffensive pollinating insect. The view out of the three-hundred and sixty degree window in the room in which they sat, at the top of the control tower, was quite unique. The flat terrain coupled with the relatively small diameter of Flatrock, only about 900 kilometers, meant that from their vantage point Reddus and the others could see clear to the gently rounded horizon, above which a thin blue sky tenuously clung to the tiny world.

The commander tilted his head back and gazed at the quark star Tybratis through the heavily tinted skylight centered above his command chair. It loomed large overhead, appearing in the sky larger than both his hand and outstretched fingers would at arms length. It gently pulsated with a soft purple glow, its surface broken by bands of pinkish-blue plasma that formed grand arcs as they danced above its surface. With quiet people, a quiet landscape, beautiful views, a top notch facility, and not one but two galaxy-class chefs the little base on Flatrock left little to complain about.

Bringing the steaming cup of Rigellian tea up to his lips a little too fast the commander swore, "Great galactic serpent that's hot!"

He thought he heard a couple of the younger techs chuckle off to his right, but his attention was quickly brought to Lieutenant McCabe as she came running up with a nervous look on her face.

"I'm so sorry sir!" she exclaimed, "It's entirely my fault."

Reddus shook his head and pawed at his heavily grayed mustache and beard to wipe away any spilled tea.

"It's quite alright Leftenant I can assure you."

The bright eyed brunette had only taken over as his executive officer less than a week ago and she was still very uncertain of herself. She was terribly smart and quite capable, but nonetheless the commander hoped that she'd get her bearings before too long.

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