"If it isn't broke don't fix it." -- Knitnan
It was a rule every JOAT broke, sooner or later. The desire to tweak, finesse, and otherwise improve something in their radius of activity would become overwhelming.
Tel found it extremely difficult resist, stranded on a comms station that had barely enough life support for technical staff. She had edible algae making her air, and a daily supply of algae cakes that kept her alive. But also bored out of her skull.
At this stage, she would be glad to have liquid sacks of Nutri-Food.
It was the silence that got to her, in the end. With nothing much to do until the scheduled pick-up vessel docked, she set about to tweaking.
It took Tel two days to become bored of her own entertainment stores, and fed random audio transmissions to the speakers in the station. It was something new. Something to break up the tedium in a space little larger than an incarceration cell. The messages were not diverted from their destinations, Tel made certain of that.
It felt like she was connected to the universe, despite the truth that she was light years from any other kind of contact. And weeks away from hitching a ride.
Keeping contact with the pick-up patrol was a daily diversion. Likewise, tracking their progress along the chain of comms stations. It kept her sane.
But she started tweaking the station. It was just a thing to do. Something to kill the time. But there were things that could be streamlined. Things that could be improved without causing a single blip in transmissions. And these weren't last-long-enough fixes typical of JOATs. This was a sanity project, so she made certain that she was doing a good enough job to last for decades.
By the time her ride came, that particular comms station was not merely state of the art, but a state of art some years in advance, and possible an alternate reality.