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post #55 of (permalink) Old 06-11-14, 02:55 PM
Dave T Hobbit
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Dave T Hobbit - Chuckle

*Beep Bip Beep Bip*

Lucas eased himself upright, and then winced. Sleeping in the flight chair wasn’t ideal, but since the accident left them with reaction drives there were frequent alarms. And with Anderson dead, there was no-one to spell him. Neck finally agreeing to straighten, he silenced the warning.

The main thruster was reporting a fuel interruption. Superb. He stretched for the intercom. “Engine Room from Cockpit. Do you read? Over.... Engine Room from Bridge, over....” Who was supposed to be on duty? “Wilson, do you read...?” Probably inside something, or dozed off. He could shout, but that would wake everyone else up. He needed a stroll anyway, to get the kinks out.

The corridor lights flickered as he passed. Since the experimental drive crapped out, everything was on the blink. And there weren’t enough of them to keep it going. On the plus side, the reduction in crew numbers would made the profit share very healthy.

Lucas yawned hard, and then leaned into the engine room. “Wilson. You sleeping on the job again?”
Everything was sealed up tight, and there was no sign of anyone. Must have gone for parts. Lucas tapped the intercom. After a brief crackle the power light flickered out. Which explained why Wilson hadn’t answered.

He could wait for him, but if something else crapped out he needed to be in the cockpit to deal with it. So check the stores. He jogged along the corridor, and then slid down the service ladder. Peering into the half-darkness, he realised there were legs stretched out of a duct at the far end. “Wilson?”

The figure slid out of the duct.

“No need to get up. Main thruster’s reporting a fuel blockage. I need to get back to the cockpit before we hit a planet or something.” Lucas headed back without waiting for an answer.

There were several amber warnings waiting for him when he got back, but nothing critical. And the thruster was back to normal. He revised the course to account for the interruption, then started working through the amber warnings.

*Beep Bip Beep Bip*

Another fuel interruption to the main thruster. He stopped with his hand half-way to the intercom. The power light was out in the cockpit too. Looked like he was walking again.

There were hand-helds in the stores. If they taped them to the walls, it would having to walk back and forth all the time.

He slid back down the service ladder. Whatever Wilson had been fixing, it wasn’t the lights. Staring into the murk, Lucas tried to remember which cabinet the hand-helds were in.

He dived flat as something whooshed through where he had been. Rolling over, he narrowly avoided Wilson’s down swing.

“It’s your fault,” shouted Wilson, raising the wrench over his head. “It must be you. Laughing at me.”

Lucas kicked him hard in the crotch. Save the monologues for the movies. Standing, he kicked the wrench away from Wilson’s prone body. This was just getting better and better.

“Laughing from the shadows,” gasped Wilson. “But I’ll show you.”

Lucas peered around. Wilson had clearly lost it, so he couldn’t just leave him. But there was no way he could get him up the ladder. So he needed to improvise. Smacking Wilson behind the ear to make sure he stayed down, Lucas began to empty out the nearest cabinet.

With Wilson’s unconscious body locked in the cabinet, Lucas headed for the bunks. But it looked like Wilson had been there already.

Trying not to heave at thoroughness of the murders, he backed out slowly and then ran for the engine room. Hopefully there was a e-manual somewhere.

Something made a gurgling chuckle behind him. Scooping the wrench back up, he spun round. There it was again, behind the drive casing. He advanced confidently. Jumping around the casing, he saw nothing but pipes.

Something chuckled again. It was coming from that yellow pipe. Checking the valve tag, he let the wrench hang lose. The coolant for the experimental drive. Must be bubbles in the system. Wilson was right about it sounding like laughter though. He returned to his search for a manual.

There had to be one somewhere. It was a bloody requirement. He finally found it in the scurf locker.

Right, fuel interruptions. There it was. Following the diagnostics, he confirmed there was a real problem. And that he needed to purge the fuel lines to fix it. Which produced an significant drop in the gauge.

He ran back to the cockpit. The board was miraculously clear, and stayed clear when he powered up the main thruster. But, as he had feared, purging the lines had used too much of the reserves. So, the only option was to use the experimental drive again. It had worked fine the first time, and whatever happened the second time had only affected people actually in the engine room, so he should be fine in the cockpit.

He ran back to the engine room. The manual didn’t mention anything about the drive. He looked around. They were monitoring when the accident happened, so what were they doing it with?
Checking the drive case, he found an integrated terminal.

Operational and Diagnostic Logs. Manual restart. Automatic restart.

That was more like it. He tapped the icon.

System status preventing automatic restart.
Run diagnostic? Y/N.

Yes, of course you piece of junk.

Coolant system inoperative.

Superb. And no option to turn it on. Must be in another menu. Probably the logs.

Coils. Generator. Coolant.

System Status: Offline.
Coolant Reservoir: 0%

The bloody reservoir was empty. That made no sense. He called up the detailed logs. The last entry swam in front of his eyes. The accident had superheated the system. He remembered Wilson talking about needing to recharge the reservoir, but he hadn’t realised he meant the system was empty. But if the pipes were dry, then what-

Something chuckled in the shadows.
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