"Why in the hell
would anybody want to live out here?" Dr. Bush wondered aloud.
She was sitting in the co-pilot's seat of the runabout she and Captain Post had taken from Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards, watching in awe as the ship approached the Kuiper Belt Object MakeMake, one of the largest icy bodies in this region of the Solar System. It seemed dead by comparison to other inhabited worlds, its gray-white surface obscured mostly by shadow given its distance from the sun.
Captain Post, piloting the runabout, said, "When I asked him that, he told me that these were the only kinds of places within the Federation where men could at least pretend to be independent."
"Known him long?" Bush asked.
"He was my best friend before he left the service," Post said. "I like to think he still is. It's just...well, he's not a big fan of how Starfleet and the Federation do things."
Bush smiled. "Lemme guess: Maquis Sympathizer or Dominion War veteran."
Now Post smiled. "Maquis Sympathizer, yes, but he never made it to the Dominion War. His last battle was Wolf 359."
Bush's smile disappeared. "Oh."
"He was one of the people lucky enough to survive our first full-scale battle with the Borg. When it was over, I guess he didn't have much to do in his life pod but think, and by the time he was rescued he'd decided he couldn't serve the Federation anymore, for a variety of reasons. I'm sure you'll hear them all before we're done. He likes to talk."
Bush shrugged. "Nothin' wrong with talkin'. Gets stuff nice and out in the open."
Post frowned. "That may not always be a good thing."
They continued on in silence until Post brought the runabout on final approach. As they descended on the minor planet their destination came into view. It looked like a military outpost. "How many people live here?"
"Just Bob and his wife," Post said.
"By themselves?!" Bush said, aghast. "That place looks big enough for a small starbase!"
"That's what it was about a century and a half ago. It was originally built back when humans were first starting to colonize the system. The idea was to work out the feasibilty of colonizing bodies like Pluto. The powers that be back then concluded that it was possible but not practical, so this place was abandoned. It's been reopened a few times since then, and upgraded each time, but hadn't had a real permanent presence until Bob convinced Bureau of Installations to let him stay there as caretaker. Anyway, they don't use the whole facility. They keep to the base commander's quarters while he keeps the lights running. I think he finally got a holodeck installed last year."
"So they live in an abandoned base by themselves and he's the caretaker," Bush confirmed. When Post nodded, she asked, "And you're sure no kids?"
Bush chuckled. "I don't want us to go in there and find some rugrat ridin' a Big Wheel up and down the halls and goin' 'Redrum! Redrum!'"
Post looked at her like she was insane. "What...?"
Bush sighed. "It's too bad nobody in this fleet knows anything about the really fun
popular culture from back in the day," she muttered.
Post shook his head as he settled the runabout on the station's landing pad.