"A Room with a Garden View"
Astin loves the Lacuna,
loves figuring out how to assemble
a trade route to connect the major stations
in an effective order for transmitting goods,
how to loop in some of the smaller spots
that only have one or two people
so they don't get left out.
Sargasso Base becomes one anchor,
and Supply Base Bounty 3D3N
seems like another logical choice
even though xe doesn't know
anyone there yet.
The first had been Orion
and the second Carinan,
providing a useful balance.
By the time Astin arrives at
Supply Base Bounty 3D3N, though,
the ship lights are starting to sputter.
It's not a new ship and Astin doesn't have
a lot of money for repairs.
The commanding officer Router is sympathetic.
"I'll send our mechanic to fix up your lighting,"
he says. "Just be gentle with him, would you?
Backup is kind of ... special."
"I'll do my best," Astin says.
"I'm other-gendered myself, so
I know what it's like to be different."
There is more to it than that, of course,
but that's a concise version, enough
to show that Astin is making honest efforts
to work with the unusual but effective
culture that's evolving in the Lacuna.
The mechanic, whose name is Backup,
mumbles and shuffles from sheer nerves,
but Astin trusts that Router wouldn't have
sent someone who couldn't do the job.
So the trader points out the glitchy lights,
describes the problem as carefully as possible,
then points out the access hatches
and the caches of tools.
Astin is scrolling through
the ship's repair manual when
a quiet voice begins reciting the steps
for fixing the worn-out wiring.
Startled, Astin looks up.
"How do you know all that?"
"I remember everything," Backup says.
"I'm a good mechanic. I just need supervision."
"Wow," says Astin. "That's quite a gift."
Backup's smile gleams
in the fitful light of the ship.
His voice sounds cheerful
as he calls home for spare parts.
When Astin leaves the mechanic to work
and sets off to see about trade arrangements,
it's as if treating Backup decently
has opened every door on the station.
Router is there to introduce Port,
who oversees the docking bays;
and Case, who manages the stockrooms.
They greet Astin with grins and
shoulder pats and a tour of the facilities.
Some of the materials have already been distributed
but a large amount still remain, sorted into
various rooms and bays around the supply base.
There are uniforms and their parts --
cloth, patches, pins, badges and trim.
There are furnishings -- beds, tables, chairs,
pillows and blankets and sheets, organizers, bins.
There are shades and curtains for interior windows,
portable screens for dividing rooms, and other oddments.
Astin is delighted by the screens.
"I've never seen anything like this
in other army supplies."
Case ducks his chin and says,
"They're, uh, not standard issue.
We had some huge rooms that needed
divisions so I made dividers out of scraps."
"That's impressive," Astin says.
"See, the panels of this one have hoops
filled in with dashboard dial covers.
The second is cut from a bulkhead plate
with gauze over the holes," Case explains
as he points out the details in the brasswork.
"The hanging panels that slide are just metal strips
riveted together into rectangular sections."
Astin likes the standing ones best, for their
combination of straight and curving lines,
matte and shiny surfaces. "I wish I could
furnish my ship like this, but it's not practical."
"Well, why don't you take a room here?"
Case invites. "Router says you want to make
this base an anchor for your trade loop,
so you should have a place of your own.
We've got plenty of space."
"Like where?" Astin asks, intrigued.
Case leads the way, one big hand
gentle on Astin's elbow. "I know it's
just one big room now, but I could
build you dividers and stuff," he said.
"It'll have a nice garden view, someday, once
the Gardener gets food production up to speed."
Astin strolls through the empty space,
imagining a soft bed and sleek sheets,
a sturdy oval table and chairs, perhaps
an organizer desk with drawers and cubbies.
There could be heather curtains to cover
the clear front panels for privacy.
"It's big enough for two, if you ever
find someone to settle with," Case adds.
Astin can't hold back a sigh. "I don't know.
It takes me so long to decide whether
I even like someone, they usually move on
by the time I've made up my mind. I'm not
really keen on the jealousy either."
"Hey, take your time," Case says.
"There's no rush here. I just want you
to know the option's open if you need it."
The place is, indeed, big enough for two --
or three or four, if they were cozy,
the way Astin has seen the crew
piling together on one bench in a galley
that could have held far more people.
So they find screens that Astin likes
to surround the bed made from brass pipes,
pick out a steel desk painted cream and
an oval table woven of bronze straps
formerly used to bind packing crates.
"I made the table when I was messing around
with those metal strips," says Case.
"I could make you a set of matching chairs."
"Yes, please," says Astin. "Do you
make these for trade, or just for here?"
"I was just fooling around," Case says slowly.
"You really think anyone else would want these?"
Astin knows they will; the furniture is
elegant and functional. "Send me
some of the screens. They fold flat.
Someone is sure to buy them."
They dicker briefly over prices,
and then Case carries the screens
to stash in Astin's ship, along with
the crates of army surplus supplies
that the trader has selected.
Backup has finished the repairs,
and Astin pays him with an Orion toolkit
scavenged from Sargasso base.
"You're going to need this, the way
people are mixing these days."
Case is similarly thrilled with the spools
of copper and silver wirefloss, along with
a bag of scrap fabric left over from making
some of Astin's new clothes. It is perhaps
a bit self-serving to want a talented crafter
to have a wider variety of materials.
"I can't wait to get my hands into this,"
Case says as he carries away his boxes.
"Take pictures while you work, and
write out the steps," Astin suggests.
"Send those over the ciphernet
and then other people can make
the simple things for themselves.
It'll save traffic for fancier goods,
food and medicine, that sort of thing."
By then it is time for supper,
the crew happily crammed together,
Case and Backup pulling Astin
down to sit between them
to devour bowls of savory stew.
Afterward, Astin lies down in the new bed
with its frame a pleasing blend of
straight and curved lines.
The trader had come only looking for
mercantile arrangements, but instead
had made new friends, and -- perhaps --
found a home.
* * *
Autistic adults may benefit from guidance by accommodating employers. Backup has a great memory and good skills, but not so great executive function; he does best with someone to tell him which things to do and then get out of his way while he does them.
Upcycling turns old things or scraps into useful new items such as furniture. Many items in the Lacuna are upcycled, because they have lots of leftover army surplus but very little coming in fresh from the Galactic Arms.
Astin doesn't have a lot of vocabulary for intimate identity yet, but shows clues of demisexuality and may have a range rather than a point on the polyamory-monogamy spectrum.
Men and women often like different features in furniture, but it's possible to combine those. Astin's taste combines masculine (functional, straight, uncluttered, leathery, solid or simple patterns) with feminine (elegant, curving, lightweight, shiny, smooth or soft textures) elements. Medium and blended colors are preferred to the dark masculine or pastel feminine tones.
When you're ready to decorate your space, pay attention to the different styles, themes, and colors. That way you'll get something comfortable that reflects your personality and meets your needs.
Case made divider screens from round dial covers, flat metal sheets plus gauze, and metal strips. The bedframe came from brass pipes. The desk is standard-issue. The table, like some of the screens, is made from metal strips. Notice that Astin chooses primarily things that blend straight and curved lines, elegance and functionality. Most furniture in the Lacuna is made from synthetic materials (metal, glass, plastic) rather than natural (wood, leather) ones. The military background creates a utilitarian tone overall, something echoed in the choices of the artificially intelligent AYES who do not wear clothes but do have furniture inside their ship-bodies.
Social skills are complex, and can be challenging for people on the autistic spectrum. Most advice here aims at pressuring neurovariant people to conform to neurotypical standards, rather than teaching neurotypical people how to accommodate neurovariant people. The Lacuna's prevailing neurovariant population is evolving a culture of their own, with some flexibility to account for people's different needs. The outsiders who get welcomed in tend to be those who can adapt to local custom and/or have quirks of their own.