"Stretched by New Experiences"
The people of the Lacuna
have come from both sides
of the galaxy, some of them from
the Orion-Cygnus Arm and others
from the Carina-Sagittarius Arm.
Many of them were sent there
to do something very specialized
that very few people could do, but now
the war is over, it's no longer needed.
Sam Bordelon has become the Gardener,
and Twedge has recently moved in
with Dr. Syden Caermichael to help
take care of former lab animals
now repurposed into pets.
Others were stationed for things
that are always needed, such as
Router organizing shipments to and
from Supply Base Bounty 3D3N.
Some things that people need
didn't have anyone assigned
to do them, as supplies came
from the Arms -- shipments
that have now quit coming.
Shuttlecock makes and sells
clothing of all kinds, while
Mole specializes in lingerie.
Some jobs still exist, but
have changed tremendously.
Miles Cernan and Bexley are pilots,
but they relate to their jumpships
in whole new ways unlike what
happened during the war.
Those who knew how
to maintain the jumpships --
Babs updating software,
Tink 001 tending hardware,
Miles and Bexley learning
how to do a little of both --
had to learn some new skills
to respect them as people,
not just parts to be repaired.
They even asked Operetta
for lessons on bedside manner,
although what worked for humans
and what worked for AYES were
sometimes very different things.
Some jobs are entirely new,
and some people are also
new to the Lacuna, having
immigrated from elsewhere,
and sometimes the two
of these come together.
It is Verena who begins
to look after the AYES
on a psychological level,
asking if they like their pilots
and their work, and exploring
how well they are adjusting
to all the changes in their lives.
There are a great many changes.
The AYES do not have the same kind
of emotions that humans do, but they
have valence and preferences and
other things that serve similar roles.
The changes are difficult for them,
some more than others, and they are
not used to having so many choices.
Like the humans, the jumpships
have new responsibilities now.
Cruiser Falconwing P42
used to be a ship of war and
has become more of a parent
to Bexley, its new pilot.
The OCS-397 was once
a courier and still does
some of that, but has
developed an interest
in rescue work as well.
Old things and new things
tangle together, creating
challenges for everyone.
In the Lacuna, the jobs are odd
and the people are odder, but
one thing remains true:
A mind that is stretched by
new experiences can never
go back to its old dimensions.
* * *
Sam Bordelon, the Gardener -- a man of average size, neurovariant, originally doing data collation for the Orion army. His passion is creating virtual gardens. He is an only child.
Supply Base Bounty 3D3N, belonging to the Carina-Sagittarius army and located toward galactic east, will get retrofitted as a farm. This entails the addition of Sam the Gardener -- who doesn't fit in perfectly with such a tight team, and is an only child to boot. It doesn't help that Sam was Orion rather than Carinan; he was originally going to take over the Orion supply base, but the Orion army scuttled it rather than let the secessionists have it. Sam is also older than Backup, though still on the younger end of the population. Sam does have a hyperfocus mode, which didn't cause him problems before; his virtual garden program had a limited functional time that he used off-duty. But when his primary duty becomes managing a real garden, he loses himself in the work, sometimes for days at a time. The older brothers start dragging him out of the greenhouse by force if necessary, and treating him much the way they do Backup; but he hates that. There's no easy solution; the base crew can't afford to kick out the only gardener in the Lacuna, and the Gardener has no other good space to grow things. So they have to fumble out a working relationship somehow. Introduced in "A Taste of Things to Come," reappearing in "Experts Talk Logistics."
Twedge -- a neurovariant man who works as a data compiler. He used to share a tiny habitat with Nostradamus, but they didn't get along. After Nostradamus kicked him out, Twedge moved in with Dr. Syden Caermichael. Introduced in "Eddies."
Dr. Syden Caermichael -- a neurovariant woman who ran a secret laboratory base, until a life support emergency forced her out of hiding. Introduced in "Flying in Freefall."
Router -- a tall, moderately muscular, neurotypical man in charge of Supply Base Bounty 3D3N, belonging to the Carina–Sagittarius army and located toward galactic east. He coordinates supplies and traffic for much of the region. He has excellent skills in organization, communication, and leadership. The oldest of five siblings, Router tends to act like everybody's big brother, and he is especially protective of Backup. Router is also the oldest of the four crewmen, just entering middle age. During the secession, Router chooses to stay even though he is neurotypical. He refuses to abandon Backup and the rest of his crew.
Supply Base Bounty is designed for a permanent crew of six. They are one man down when the secession hits, and the fifth crewmember leaves (no harm, no foul). The base is later converted to food production and renamed Eden. The food production is the responsibility of the gardener. It takes a lot of work for Router to learn how to handle Sam the Gardener, who is nothing like Backup and doesn't respond at all well to the same techniques. But gradually Router learns how to apply his leadership skills to a wider range of people. Router becomes a key leader of the few neurotypical people in the Lacuna, but he also comes to work with Hootowl, the leader (such as they have any) of the neurovariant people.
Router is introduced in "Backup, Try Again," reappearing in "Experts Talk Logistics."
Shuttlecock -- a neurovariant woman who makes clothes at a shop called Threads. She lives at Sargasso Base. She is friends with Palmer. Introduced in "Umbilical Lines."
Mole -- a neurotypical man, he runs the lingerie shop at Sargasso Base. Introduced in "What the Scissors Have Cut Asunder."
Specialist Miles Cernan (12-111-972-OC) -- a short neurovariant man who deals in paperwork and has some basic grasp of piloting, although he is not officially rated as a pilot. Not long after the secession begins, his station is bombed. The jumpship OCS-397 rescues him, and he becomes its pilot. The name Miles means "soldier," Cernan means "little dark one" in Irish and is the name of an astronaut, and the numbers are the astronaut's lunar landing date. OC stands for Orion-Cygnus and appears in the serial numbers of that army; the number format is based on U.S. Army service numbers. He first appears in "Jumpship."
Bexley -- a neurovariant girl of thirteen, who runs away with Cruiser Falconwing P42. She is introduced in "The Love We Give Our Fragile Craft" and "No Measure of Health."
Tink 001 -- a neurovariant, other-gendered person who identifies with AYES despite being human. It is a starship mechanic. Introduced in "Mosaic Identities."
Babs -- an average sized woman, a geeky but neurotypical maintenance tech for the Orion army. She is Estelle's best friend, and somewhat younger. They both like the simplicity of military food compared to the social fuss over women's diets in civilian space. To them it's just fuel. Introduced in "A Taste of Things to Come."
Operetta -- a short, curvy, slightly plump woman skilled in designing hardware and working with technology on the Carinan side. She helps invent the velveteen gloves made from nanofiber that make it possible to transmit physical sensations long-distance. She is fairly young and neurovariant. Her passion is opera. She hates the nickname "Space Operetta" and indeed, hates space opera in general. She prefers to avoid conflict, and rarely makes eye contact. However, she is pretty good about expressing her emotions and desires, as long as she doesn't have to look anyone in the eye or stand in the spotlight. She is the girlfriend of Weavercreep. Later on, she develops some medical skills, because they have a serious shortage of that among the original secessionists -- just a few people like her who were on the lab side of things. Introduced in "The Velveteen Gloves," reappearing in "Language Bodies" and "Experts Talk Logistics."
Verena -- a neurotypical woman. She is married to Darmid, a teacher. They have a three-year-old daughter, Mair (probably neurotypical) and a four-year-old son Tyson (neurovariant with ADHD). Verena is the pilot who cobbled a navigation system into a lifeboat so that a band of refugees could escape persecution on Epizygis. Later she begins taking care of psychological health for the AYES. Introduced in "No Measure of Health."
Cruiser Falconwing P42 -- the AYES of a jumpship originally from the Carina-Sagittarius army. When its pilot gave orders to open fire on a medevac ship, Falconwing refused and abandoned him on the nearest station. It does not feel that jumpships are bound to follow unlawful orders, just as human soldiers are not. It later approaches Sargasso Base and gets into an argument with the OCS-223, a seemingly derelict jumpship from the Orion army who disapproves of the secession. When Falconwing identifies itself as a conscientious objector to war, the Minotaur who oversees Sargasso Base grants the jumpship permission to approach. Subsequently Falconwing picks up a refugee, a thirteen-year-old girl named Bexley, and they decide to stay together. Introduced in "Conscientious Objectors."
OCS-397 -- the AYES of a jumpship originally from the Orion-Cygnus army. (That army uses the initials OCS in serial numbers for Orion, Cygnus, Ship.) It locks out its assigned pilot during the secession. Later, when a station is bombed, it rescues Specialist Miles Cernan (12-111-972-OC), who becomes its pilot. Like most AYES, OCS-397 identifies as neuter, prefers the pronoun "it," and does not respond favorably to being called "she" or being anthropomorphized. It first appears in "Jumpship."
* * *
"A mind that is stretched by new experiences can never go back to its old dimensions."
-- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
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