Carpenter Station, as the alien base has been termed, was not built originally for human habitation, though it was relatively easy to adapt. It is surrounded by a quonset-hut “city” filled with labs, libraries, computer gear, and medical stations. Approximately 300 specialists in various fields live there in six-month rotations. The base itself has 100 more full-time resident scientists. The fringeworthy, for the most part, live in a secondary compound directly adjacent to the research complex. The explorer residence has been termed the Antarctic Hilton; the research compound is informally called Fringe University. The authorized bar, overseen fairly closely due to the high risks of alcohol consumption in the Antarctic (and on the edges of infinite realities), has been termed Callahan’s. These terms are those used by the Americans; other major groups of explorers have their own slang.
Roughly 300 fringeworthy live on-site at least part of the year. Of those, about 75 are “virgins”, people who can travel on the path network but not permitted through portals that lead to other worlds. (Those who passed into one or two ‘safe’ worlds for training or testing, but never since, sometimes claim they “at least got to second base”) Some of those “sidelined” have a reason for this, often a physical or mental condition that makes it dangerous for them to work as explorers or diplomats, while others do not want to take the risks associated with platform travel or feel they’re more useful in a support role. They provide vital work manning fringe-side communication, security, supply, and medical stations set up on the platforms, but there’s an undeniable barrier between them and the “explorers”. The term “Fringeworthless” is sometimes used, but it’s considered extremely insulting and will almost certainly lead to unpleasant altercations. (As exploration has continued, a handful of former explorers have become “platform staff”, sometimes voluntarily, sometimes due to injury or other factors. Likewise, on occasion, individuals at first considered unsuitable for exploration work find themselves reconsidered, for one reason or another.) The more the operation grows in size, the more the secret leaks, the more different Core Earth factions have their fingers in the pie, the more the decision making process about who gets to explore and who gets to maintain the steam-cars becomes politicized and a game of favors and threats, not a realistic evaluation of fitness by the mix of scientific and military personnel who oversee Carpenter Station.
As of late 2011, a small, extremely secure, additional compound is being built; this is where Fringedwellers, both human and otherwise, are being housed.