Thursday, March 19, 2009

Another Day, Part 4

Starboard Stores and Cargo is a bustling place - think "Post Office," "UPS" and a touch of "You-Store-It." Portside S&C is more cargo-oriented, with admin offices, central control for their remote container-movers and so on, with just a small "post office" area; there's a smaller S&C office up and forward in passenger/commercial territory. But Starboard's where the action is and today was no exception. It's a happenin' joint, by starship standards. There were a handful of people in line at the service window; others were picking up inter-ship mail (there's a bit of it) at banks of mailboxes that wouldn't have looked out of place in any U. S. Post Office about 1960 and a few were at the gate for large parcels, picking or dropping off. Past the counter, I could see a couple of S&C guys - stocky, fit, young - and my friend from Security, working on one of the goofy overhead doors on the small storage areas for secure items.* She looked over, saw me and waved, then turned back to confer with the S&C techs. I didn't see anyone else I knew; so much for scoping things out!

The deck shimmied sideways, then rose and fell under my feet, or so it felt. A couple of the people in line staggered, one fell and everyone reached for the nearest handhold. "That's not a good sign," I muttered to myself.

The usual hubbub started up - "What happened," "You okay?" "Whoo!" and so on.

My friend turned and gave me the eye, walked to the parcel gate. "Hey! Bobbi, what just happened?"

When six feet of Security officer ask, you answer; besides, she's good folks. "I know as much as you, right now. Um, if I had to guess, the 'Drives fluttered and the ion engines compensated—" And then my pager went off, what a su-prise.

And the Chief's initials. Uh-oh. "Gotta git, T. Duty calls."

* * *

The Chief didn't have a lot to add to his page and what I'd felt; the #2 Phantasmajector had glitched off, hard, and wouldn't come back up. The 'Drives were idling; we'd dropped subliminal our last short superluminal hop on approach was a few days ago and they were only working enough to aid the ion reaction drive in making our inbound trajectory. But losing a third of the output suddenly is a bit much for the automatic systems to handle. They'll damp the lurch down enough to keep the ship in one piece, is all.

When I reached the 'Drive Room (in the goofy little electric car, after a quick jog - rest - jog across a mile of slidewalk and sundry utility corridors), it didn't smell right. Too much ozone and fried phenolic. But nary an overload showin' on the Christmas Trees (red/green fault/normal indicators on each big phantasmajector amplifier). #2 was sitting in BACK HEAT; I punched the LOCAL button on the panel, then STANDBY. Drive Amp Cooling came up, fine, and...

And nothin'. Next step should be green lights for FULL HEAT, DRIVER POWER, and after five minutes, HEATER DELAY and READY. Should. Didn't. If it wasn't so loud I had to wear earplugs, I'd probably be hearing' crickets.

Greeeeeeeat. Time to open 'er up and that's not a one-tech job; there are too many ways to A) harm yourself and B) more importantly, damage the 'Drive. Called the Chief: "It's not an easy one, Boss; I'll need another pair of hands. Maybe Dave."

"Yeah? I need him here, we lost half the MUXes in that lurch. I've got Johnny Zed on his way."

Double great. But the surest way to get on the Chief's bad side is to whine; he's fond of pointing out that we're in the results business, not the excuse business. Besides, how dead could I get? "That'll be fine, Boss! Lookin' forward to it."

* There's quite a complicated little arrangement of springs, latches and weights to switch these overhead doors between zero-G and normal, 1-G acceleration function. It breaks frequently. I'm startin' to develop a theory about the real reason why HAL was so weird about the pod bay doors.


Turk Turon said...

"...dropped subliminal a few days ago..."?

See, I DO read your fiction, eagerly and Avidly, even tho' I don't always leave a comment!

Yeah, mebbe HAL just had a broken torsion spring. Could be that Dave just over-reacted. 'Course, we DID get a helluva light-show out of it.

Anonymous said...

I knew it, I just knew it that there'd be an overhead door somewhere on that starship. Now how do you work in your gang's "armorer-artificer" taking on a side job? Bet you can do it.

Well played.

Roberta X said...

Oh, 'spose I can, Anon; just have to see how it works.

Turk, it seems you pay closer attention than I do! Thank you. I have fixed the error.

sam said...

You're spinning a fine tale, m'dear.

A six foot tall female security officer whose first name starts with "T?" Wonder who that references?

WV: urlist. Uh-oh.