the resetting process could be done from the relative comfort of the
Engineering compartment. But considering the near catastrophic events
that had led to the engine shutdown, the Captain had deemed it wise
to check the engine before starting it again. When the 1st officer
relayed the message, he added that anything that needed to be done
should be done quickly. Contrary to how it may have appeared
from inside the ship, Gravlaw was not sitting dead in space. It was
still traveling at several hundred thousand miles an hour. If
the main engine was to remain inoperative it would take the
maneuvering thrusters forty three years to counter the ship's forward
At its current rate of travel, Gravlaw would shoot right past the target planet, heading into deep space. Normally, "runaway" ships like this were abandoned by the crew at a point closest to an occupied planet and most likely for a pickup. It was necessary to know immediately the condition of the engine.
Cid stood in the airlock, listening to the sound of his own breathing. With a thunk, the airlock cycled, and the elevator began its short descent onto the engine compartment or "Hell" as it was known to most engineers. After a few seconds the elevator ground to a halt. Kat hit the door open pad and the two were hit with a blast of heat as the doors slid apart.
Kat pushed herself off the rear wall of the elevator, gliding gracefully through zero-g. Cid followed after.
The first thing they both noticed were thousands of small black globules, the size of marbles, floating around the engine room. Many more were splattered against the walls.
"Oh, great." Said Kat. Then into the headset. "Bridge, we've got a small Walterium spill down here. Please advise." Cid could hear her voice shaking just a little. The Walterium supply was, in places, exposed to vacuum. If a crack had formed in the containment tube, there was a remote chance that the compartment could suddenly depressurize.
They floated motionless in the stifling heat. A bead of sweat formed on Cid's brow. He shook his head and sent it sailing off across the room.
"Bridge here." Said Swanson "First thing, find the leak. If it's serious, patch it. Then get on with the Engine check. I'll have security bring you down some Hardsuits."
"Engineering here." Kat said. She glanced at Cid. "Ah, no, don't bother with the Suits. It's safe."
Cid's eyes went wide.
"How do you know that? We could get sucked out into space!"
She just turned
her mouth at him.
"You hear any air leaking out? C'mon, let's get on with it. Here. You go find the leak, I'll check the engine." With that she kicked off down the compartment, heading for the reaction chamber.
floated there, incredulous. For a person of supposed genetically
enhanced intelligence, Katherine sure seems to show very little at
all of that trait. How could anybody be so reckless?
Nevertheless, he moved himself hand over hand, searching around the exposed Walterium containment chamber for the origin of the telltale bubbles.
While he searched, he reviewed the engine incident in his mind. When the engine had gone wild, the had scrammed the reactor by sealing off the flow of Walterium to the reaction chamber, then tripling the electrical feed to a small portion of Walterium of the rear chamber, the resulting explosion literally blowing the rest of the reaction mass out into space. Right now there was large chunk of gelled, partially reacted Walterium travelling through space at a very high rate of speed. But why had the engine not responded to bridge control? We already checked the wiring box and it came up clean and connected. If there's no fault in the wiring, its probably a software problem. Cid tried to track the movements of the individual bubbles to get an idea as to where the leak was. He wondered briefly if the leaking Walterium was part of the cause. He considered it a moment, then discarded the idea.
A few moments later, Cid discovered the source of the leak. It came from a crack in the containment chamber. He watched as a few drops of black oozed out of it and into the air.
Cid nodded, thoughtfully. It was not as bad as he'd thought. A stress crack most probably.
He called out. "Kat! I've found the leak! I'm going to get a-"
"No need to, I already have one!" She said as she drifted towards him. She handed him a self-adhering patch strip. He tore the cover off of the large flat piece, then carefully placed it over the crack, smoothing it out flush against the containment chamber. He pulled a hand torch out of his tool belt, struck it, then began waving it over the patch, just touching the material with the end of the flame.
"Hmm, not bad for an old timer." Katherine said. "You adjust to Zero-G pretty well."
"Yeah I guess so. Are you done already? What'd you find? Don't tell me the engine's completely cooked." He'd expected her search to take much longer.
"Oh, no. The engine works, I fixed it."
that? You fixed it?" Cid shut the torch off. The patch had bonded to
the smooth metal of the chamber, and hardened almost to the toughness
of steel. It was much more than enough to stop the leak, but there
was also Vacuum to contend with.
"You wouldn't believe how easy it was. It was the stupidest thing, too. The main power infeed for the number four magnetic generator had blown. I just grabbed a replacement from the locker, rewired it, and that was it. It tested out okay. We should be good to go. " She spoke into her headset.
"Engineer Velmer to bridge. Repairs complete. We've patched a small crack in the Containment chamber, and it appears to be secure. I located an electrical fault in the Mag-Generator number four, which I believe was the cause of the incident. The problem has been fixed, the engine should work fine."
Swanson's voice crackled back in both their headsets.
"Well done, Engineering. We are attempting restart of engine in 3 minutes. Recommend you evacuate engine compartment, unless you'd like to become deaf and overcooked."
bridge. We're on our way. Engineering out."
Kat turned to Cid.
heard the man, time to move out!"
They propelled themselves back to the elevator, Cid now and again stealing glances at his patch job. It seemed secure, but what of the forces that had caused the crack in the first place? Well, he'd just have to pray that nothing else unforeseen happened on this voyage·.
the elevator and began their ascent, but something still bothered
Cid. Kat's search should have taken much, much longer. It was almost
like she'd known where to look.
They reached the Engineering compartment a few moments later. Cid took up his station while Kat activated her radio.
"Engineering to Bridge. We're cleared out, you can commence restarting the reactor."
"Roger Engineering, Beginning restart in T- minus ten"
Kat glided over
to Cid, peering over his shoulder at the displays he
"Everything looks good to go, Cross your fingers."
Swanson's voice sounded from the shipwide intercom.
There was a long silence. Cid knew what would be happening now, in the abandoned engine room. The diaphragm that separated the Reactor chamber from the Containment chamber would be opening, allowing just a small amount of Walterium to enter the chamber. In just a few moments, the "Shockers" would kick on, electrifying the Walterium and beginning the reaction. There was another few moments of silence, then a deep Whooomp as the Walterium caught. Cid's hands resting on the keyboard could feel a slight vibration, nothing like what was created under full thrust.
"She's lit." He said, panning his eyes across the board.
"Yup." Replied Kat. "Now let's see if the thing actually works. Engineering to bridge. Everything nominal down here."
"Roger engineering, applying thrust."
The vibration through Cid's fingertips increased, and the hint of a roar was audible from the Engine Compartment. Kat, once hovering beside him, began to sink towards the floor and was forced to stand. He inspected his readouts critically.
"Looks pretty good. I can't read any faults, and it looks to be operating as efficiently as it should be given its age. Tell them to apply more thrust."
For the next two hours they played this game, Upping the thrust by increments, always with one eye on the gauges.
Finally, once the engine had been running at one hundred percent for a half hour, They conceded that it was now working properly and left the station, although Both the Bridge and Engineers agreed that checks every hour would be prudent.
After a dialing
the engine down again in order to maneuver back into their
planned trajectory, the engines were brought up to full again
without incident, and Gravlaw again traversed empty space under its
own power, This time slowing her rate of travel as it closed the
distance between herself and her destination, still over six months
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