Sketches – Tiber Station

Tiber Station was built by the Riverways Recreational Consortium in Sol. Designed from the outset as a recreational station, Tiber Station was the fourth in a series of six stations built to support already existing orbital station clusters by providing dedicated spaces to recreation and entertainment, spaces that were at best minimal on most other stations at the time. Located in Europa orbit, Tiber Station serviced colonies on Europa and Io, as well as the local orbital infrastructure.

Broadly based on the Stanford Torus design, Tiber Station devoted a third of its spaces to a large shopping concourse and recreational area, filled with shops, cafes, restaurants, and hotel space. Another third is set aside for a wooded park with small rolling hills and several ponds, with plenty of small, intimate clearings and other spaces to help provide a feeling of nature. The final third is given over to farming and administration areas to help support and feed Tiber Station.

The Collapse War was hard on Riverways, losing two of their stations in the first six weeks of the war (Cimarron Station at the Sol-Lunar L5 and Danube Station in polar Mars orbit) and Nile Station at Ceres suffering heavy damage due to a failed boarding action. With their insurance coverage declared void due to the use of a War Exclusion clause, Riverways was forced to sell Tiber Station to cover some of the costs of rebuilding Danube Station (by far their most profitable station). Tiber Station would spend the next ten years going through a series of owners as the station slowly deteriorated.

Salvation came to Tiber Station in the form of banking sector employee who was keen on getting out of the mess that Earth was steadily becoming. Purchasing the ownership of Tiber Station outright, he invested a considerable amount of capital into repairing parts of the station, most notably the nature park segment of the main habitat. But that was at best a stopgap, as Tiber Station was losing money by the day (the war having driven off most of the transient traffic). In what was called then a fit of madness, he had Tiber Station declared a free port, open to all visitors so long as they did not engage in combat near the station. Experts in the UNA and the EU expected this proclamation to last a week at best.

That week proved to be impressive, but not for the reasons the experts expected. It seems that the new owner had accrued quite a few favors over their career. Muted, but vaguely agreeable responses came in from not just the UNA and the EU, but also from Japan and the UK. That made “Free Station Tiber” a reality. In truth, the powers that be had recognized the value of having a “safe” port in the rough-and-tumble outer system, and Tiber Station was the right idea at the right time.

The rest of the Collapse War largely passed Tiber Station by. While there were the occasional fights in the station’s entertainment district between EU and UNA forces, the only actual engagement that almost took place occurred when an EU patrol destroyer arrived on station with a new captain.

Sighting a pair of docked UNA logistics ships, the destroyer attempted to force them to undock while threatening the station. Unfortunately for him, he had missed the EU heavy cruiser Gregorio de Falco, which was moored on the far side and out of view. It undocked while station command continued stalling for time, and the first sign that the situation had turned against the destroyer was when it discovered it was not just being targeted by a friendly heavy cruiser at point blank range, but was being yelled at en clair by her captain. Who was VERY upset that they had to cancel a planned dinner with their fiancée in order to deal with them. The destroyer left Tiber Station two days later, under the command of its second officer. The heavy cruiser found its stay extended by a whole week, with station management picking up the crew’s entire tab.

The identity of Tiber Station’s owner never was never discovered. While multiple attempts were made, the station’s increasing care and concern for the person who had singlehandedly saved them from the scrapyard(or worse) proved excellent security. The creation of a small “hobby farm” in the administration area of the main ring was the only clue, but external observation failed to generate any potential candidates. The continued escalation of the Collapse War meant that resources were needed elsewhere. By the time the war had ended, the identify of the owner, and even if they were still alive, had passed into local legend.

But even as the Terran Dominion rose from the ashes, as commerce, colonization, and outward eyes returned to Sol, one thing remained the same. The phrase “Let’s go visit Tibe” was always a cause for cheer.

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