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The Retirement Fund, Part One

Outpost Phoenix: Personal Com-Net


by Commander Noah Masterson
[Stardate ]

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Noah crested the low rise and saw just what he had expected: a Federation pre-fab building sitting on the spot he had specified when he ordered it. It wasn't much to look at, now, but it was his and right now, that's all that mattered. Noah shifted how the rucksack sat on his shoulders and began walking the last few meters to The Dive Shack.
It had begun as an idea when he was a Junior at Starfleet Academy: he would retire somewhere and run a recreational underwater diving service. It would give him the chance to explore and dive, two of his most favorite past times, and he could share his enthusiasm with others. Throughout his career, Noah always wondered if this particular dream would actually come to fruition and the last several months were no exceptions. He had scouted this exact spot sometime ago and had registered for the land grant through the impressive bureaucracy of the Federation's Department of Environmental Resources Management. On the day he'd received the message that he'd been granted the plot, Noah dug out the worn and tattered schematic that he'd produced in his downtime on Bersallis III and had sent it to the building vendor.
Although the vendor had cited 'long wait times' for a custom job, the Bollian had delivered (literally, in this case) his goods inside of 8 months from final sale. It had been a long wait, Noah reflected as he reached the rear of the building.
As he set down his rucksack against the building, he visually scanned the various other crates and boxes and containers that were, more or less, neatly set out near the building. He hoped everything was here but didn't trust in hope alone. Instead he pulled out a personal PADD and pulled up the manifest. He checked off the generator set, the pier pilings and decking and the additional construction material needed for the open air porch that would connect to the pier.
Noah knew the first priority should be the generator set and a rumbling peel of thunder to the east confirmed his instinct. Noah peered around the right hand side of the Shack and saw one of TW IV's many thunderstorm systems rolling in. It was about 15 kilometers away, just breaking over the ridge of mountains that formed the end of the Jipya Rwenzori chain.
Noah used all of his considerable knowledge of TW IV's weather (which wasn't much) and estimated he had about an hour before the edge of the storm found him and another hour till the entire system was on top of him.
"Not much time, in other words," Noah grumbled aloud. He went back to his rucksack and fished around until he came out with a tool kit. He then set to installing the generator set, as per the instructions the building vendor had sent him.
Noah was about 15 minutes from being done when the first drops hit him. He knew that hurrying would be potentially dangerous, so he chose to ignore the rain as it fell. By the time he was finished, Noah was completely drenched. Earlier, he had taken the precaution to put his rucksack inside the Shack (which gave him the chance to deactivate the biometric lock) and he looked forward to dry clothing now. He threw the master arm lever for the power source and was rewarded with a row of green status lights that indicated he had power. He finalized the settings on the power source and closed the service hatch. He used the hand torch to locate and retrieve the last few hand tools he'd been using and headed into the Shack.
Noah stopped just inside what would be the back door, set down his tools and turned on one of the lamps he'd thought to bring with him. It would do until he could change into dry clothes and then set up the environmental controls.
Once Noah had dry clothes on, he located the environmental controls panel. He located a shelf that was situated nearby and placed the lamp on it. The controls were rather simple: lights, power outlets and temperature controls. He turned the lights and the outlets on and then set out his makings for a meal. He had wanted some solitude from the Outpost, so he made sure to pack a minimum of two weeks' food and enough fresh water for the hike out; he'd be using the Shack's water production ability or in worse case scenario, he could purify from the river.
Noah picked a dehydrated meal, this one was an Efrosian stew whose name was quite unpronounceable to anyone but Efrosians, and opened the pouch. He listened to the storm as he set about finishing the meal by locating the rehydration spout and filling the pouch of stew to the appropriate level.
While his stew rehydrated, Noah took the opportunity to familiarize himself with the Shack. It was a modest building at 1200 square feet. It was comprised of a large, main chamber (in which he stood) joined by a hall (to Noah's right) that led to a small but comfortable living chamber. This would be Noah's quarters once he'd retired here and where he was standing would be the Shack's rental area. Eventually, Noah planned to add a covered seating area where he had come in at that would give his patrons a place to gather and talk shop.
Who knows, Noah thought absentmindedly stirring his stew, maybe I'll even set a small bar and serve drinks.
For now, he contented himself with the tasks at hand. Once the storm let up, he'd need to check everything again and possibly work on the decking to the pier area. For now, he contented himself with plopping down on the floor and eating his stew. He mulled over his future as he ate his meal, enjoying the sounds of the storm outside. When he'd requested this leave from Captain Arzie, he'd been pretty bitter at Starfleet. He'd been brought to Court Martial because of his handling of the Lolthene incident. The Trial Judge from Fleet JAG had given Noah a serious going over; ultimately, Noah felt as though she had been more thorough than necessary and this theory was borne out when the officer admitted, off-the-record, of course, that JAG had sent them with a mission in mind: make sure everyone learns that the Prime Directive is no longer open to individual interpretation.
That's exactly what had happened. Noah had walked away a free man, but his mind had been changed about Starfleet. A lot of the glory had become tarnished as a result and Noah seriously considered if he would actually return to duty or take an early retirement. He had the land, he had the Shack now…but it didn't seem to be the right time.
Noah finished his stew and placed the empty package into the waste control unit beside him. He got up and got to setting up his bedding. The storm was still blowing at what sounded like full-steam, so Noah decided on an early bedtime. He changed into his old Academy PT gear, turned off the main lights and crawled into bed by the lantern light. He stared at the ceiling for a few moments, thoughts of the last few weeks running through his head. He chuckled as he remembered the look on Behr's face when Noah had pretended to have affections for him. His thoughts then drifted to the first time he sat down at one of Bobby Joe's tables and sampled what could only be described as heaven on a plate. But before long, Eris's face swam into Noah's vision. She was, as she always came to him, smiling and happy. Noah indulged himself a moment's vision and then shook his head to clear the memory. He tossed and turned for the better part of an hour, listening to the storm and hunting sleep. It had been quite some time since he'd had this much trouble getting to sleep. He tensed all the muscles in his body and then relaxed them. He repeated this exercise for several more repetitions and then yawned. He felt ready to try again. He listened to the rain, which had calmed to a deluge, and relaxed each muscle in his body. Within ten minutes, Noah was asleep and dreaming.

To be continued...
   
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