INT – day – engineering
The Engineering Command Center a cramped-feeling, long, machinery and control panel filled room on the top deck, over the cargo bay. Stenson is looking at several screens full of readouts. There are tool-boxes and a generally crowded-but-organized appearance to the room. Helton walks in.
Helton: So, how’s progress?
Stenson: Ah, just the person I wanted to see. You know what? I think, thanks to a few local geniuses and things not being quite as bad they first looked, we might just get this thing flying again.
Helton: Really? You’re sure?
Stenson: I’m not sure about anything here, but-
Helton: How long?
Stenson: Good question.
Helton: … So, do you have a good answer?
Stenson: Well, there are some things about it I still don’t get, like what THAT thing is (points to a nearly featureless black metal protrusion from the ceiling), other than an analog 200 amp engine part that seems to be important but isn’t on ANY of the schematics and doesn’t fit with anything I know about on a theoretical basis, but what I HAVE determined is that a lot of these systems are in usable, or least fixable, condition. A lot of the peripheral stuff just needed oil, new gaskets, cleaning, replacement chemicals, and so-forth. Even the drive cores seem to still be mostly balanced and in surprisingly good shape for their age. Lots of little widgets we can just print out and replace worn parts with. With a couple of parts that are very hard to get around here, I THINK I can get her in the air again. Can’t promise anything performance-wise, though.
Helton: What sort of parts?
Stenson: (hands him an e-reader) Here’ the list. At least one pair of mil-spec turbo encabulators so we can get two drives up, and preferably three matched pairs, or an impossible matched six-pack, and some other things. I’m pretty sure that they could be found at the big boneyard at Eridani II. Not very expensive ‘cause they are an old style, just hard-to-find.
Helton: Hmmm… That’s not to far from here. Maybe a ten-day round-trip. I’ll see if I can find someone to head over that way and pick them up.
Stenson: Outstanding. Still a lot to do even without them, so there’s no hurry. I’m hoping to get the landing struts functioning soon, so we can raise her up and get at some under-side systems.
Helton: Any other major items on the front burner?
Stenson: Major? Not really. Until we can fly NOTHING is major. Some parts of the ship are still inaccessible, but they don’t appear to have any critical systems, or things needed to train people on. Got a lot of odd-ball parts that we’re just pushing around until we know where they go, like those (points to a dark, squat mystery cylinder with a lit-candle logo, like those seen in the cargo bay earlier).
Helton: So, everything’s copacetic?
Stenson: From a mil-spec view, a LOT of this stuff is about as kosher as a Christmas ham for Pongal during Ramadan, but they sort’a seem like they WANT to work. Hell, someone even tried to mount a Sokolov drive AND a Harmon drive on each drive core – one on each end, with a bizarre helical twist on things between; I’ve seen theoretical studies on such an idea, but didn’t know of any that ever got field tested. Be SWEET if THAT whole set could get spun up and synced.
Helton: Both on a single drive core? I though that was impossible -they’d set up a constructive interference pattern in the resonance core and-
Stenson: -convert everything in the drive field into energy? Yes, that’s the theory. Well, one theory among several. But it’s there, and the ship is still solid, so it’s worth checking out. Best challenge I’ve had since I first met my wife.
Helton: Sounds good.
Stenson: Mostly it is, except for a few replacement parts that I’m sure need to be manufactured. THEY will be bloody expensive, the specs and tolerances given are so damned high.
Helton: Well, don’t forget to train the new guys for standard systems, too.
Stenson: I won’t, don’t worry! Lag wouldn’t keep me around if I didn’t. Allonia is doing amazing things with plants in her greenhouse- the air-system was rebuilt to circulate through that room, so even if we loose the normal scrubbers, as long as we have power for light, all those little photo-synthesizers she’s growing for us to eat will keep the air good. That’s why it smells so good. Some of the guys are learning a LOT from her about the air systems – for some reason they listen to her more intently than me.
Helton: I’m shocked. But plants only makes a difference if we get out of atmo, though. Well, keep me informed.
INT – Day – stern port mid-deck passageway
Kaminski, Stenson, and Helton look over an small access hatch that is welded shut.
Kaminski: Nothing a half-kilo of Universal Key can’t open.
Helton: We don’t know what’s inside – we don’t want to damage anything sensitive.
Stenson: I think I’ve already located all the critical drive, life support, and power systems, and none of them appear to be in there.
Helton: So the best guess is still ‘no clue?’
Kaminski: I say we blow it.
Helton: You just want to blow something up.
Kaminski: Well, YEAH. Doesn’t everybody?
Helton: Good point. And, in this case, it might be the right approach.
Kaminski: Oh-boy-oh-boy-oh-BOY! Thank you. Back in a minute or three.
Kaminski trots off to get the needed supplies.
Stenson: The man DOES like his work.
Same hatchway. Kaminski is finishing placing a line of plastic explosives along the weld line. He inserts a pair of blasting caps, one at each end, and hooks up the wires. He starts walking back down the passageway, around the corner a bit, and into a berth room where Stenson and Helton stand.
Cut to the hatch
The line of explosives looks ready to go. Then something changes on it. It looks like the metal around it is getting a little pale. Then white, and gets rapidly covered with a slight layer of frost, which also forms on the explosives a little. Something is cooling the area enough to condense and freeze the moisture out of the air fairly quickly.
Cut back to Kaminski, Helton, and Stenson
Kaminski hooks up the wires to the detonator switch. Helton thumbs the wall com unit.
Helton: We are going to be setting off a small explosive charge in a moment or two, port stern B-deck. You might want to NOT BE there, or cover your ears. Don’t worry, I’m letting the professionals do it.
Helton releases the com button.
Helton: Tajemnica, anyone but us three in the area?
Ship AI: No one else on port-side mid-deck.
Kaminski grins at him. He flicks the protective toggle up from the switch. He touches his ear plugs.
Kaminski: Plug your ears. FIRE IN THE HOLE! FIRE IN THE HOLE! FIRE IN THE HOLE!
He thumbs the fire button on the detonator. There is a very underwhelming “bang.” Kaminski’s face immediately reflects the thought of “that’s NOT right.” He thumbs the detonate button again. Nothing. He pushes another button on the detonator, and it lights up green.
Kaminski: Got power. SOMEthing went off. Stay here.
He cautiously goes around the corner and pulls back the wires a ways. He can see there are no more blasting caps on the ends, so he reels it up while walking slowly toward the hatch. When he gets there, it looks like the stuff was made of clay, and just got splattered a bit by the blasting caps, but not initiated. He reaches out and touches it. Feels it a bit in his fingers. Rubs it. Feels the metal next to it, examines his fingers closely.
Kaminski: (quietly to himself, puzzled expression on face) Cold and wet?
Stenson and Helton join him.
Kaminski: What would make it cold and wet? Any plumbing around here?
Stenson: Head next door, but nothing in the passageway. Why?
Kaminski: This explosives won’t go off if it gets too cold. The metal is cold, and feels wet. So does the charge. Caps went OK, but it didn’t set it off. So, either it got flash-frozen while I hooked up the detonator, which seems unlikely, or we have a bad batch or something. I’ll have to do some testing. Don’t have any cataclysmite, or I’d try a charge of that. Huh. Got some testing to do, I guess. I’ll let you know when I’m ready to try opening it up again.
Fade to black