The only light in the Engineering Shop came from the corridor hatch and the Chief's cubicle. We were variously arrayed on chairs and workbenches, facing the big monitor. On the screen, flames shot from the windows and doors of a large industrial building. As the camera zoomed out, a column of smoke could be seen streaming though the partially-collapsed roof. In the foreground, a figure in overcoat, boots, gloves and helmet reached for a fence, touched it, convulsed, and fell. The camera panned over to center on him, revealing heavy wires -- power lines -- drooped ungracefully down, draped over the fence and off to the burning building. As the title appeared, LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP, narration started up:
"That firefighter survived, but you may not. Look Before You Leap! Industrial Safety Is No Accident!"
In front of me, Jonny Zed snorted and whispered to the guy next to him -- C. Jay -- "What's that got t'do with us?"
Jay shook his head, meaning pipe down, Jon, but to no avail. Jon kept on, "We haven't got any overhead power, that wouldn't work. We just need to get the power we need when we need to get the power we need."
Jay stifled a laugh, turned and gave me a help me look over his shoulder. I leaned in and hissed, "Jon, the Chief's givin' us the eye. Aren't we in trouble enough already?"
Indeed we were. The UPS debacle had had repercussions throughout Power and Engineering and while the official word was Disaster Narrowly Averted, a Lead Tech in Power had been busted down to plain ol' Electrician and a couple of them had been dropped back to Probationary Apprentice -- and everybody but everybody was gettin' another round of How Not To Screw Up And Kill Us All training. --Say what you will, it might be a little hokey but it beats having to walk home.
"Walking home" was looking a little more likely than usual; our hastily-refigured short hop had gone off without a hitch, though palms were sweatier than usual throughout, but when we'd set the stardrive finals back to idling, one had crashed. I spent the better part of an entire shift messing with it, got it working -- and then it shut down hard just as I was fixing to leave the Drive Room and would not come back up. I'd had some of the parts I most suspected on hand and ordered the rest from Stores & Cargo, but that was gonna take a day. The Chief was Not Happy at this and not all reluctant to show it. I was a bit unhappy myself. Stardrive finals are fiddly things and I was hoping the big phantasmajector tube -- the newest of the three! -- had not given up the ghost.
But for now, the second in a series of required meetings. LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP! It was a pretty interesting video. The first two or three times. I sure hope S&C gets those parts here early.
T. R. MCELROY'S STREAMLINED TELEGRAPH KEYS
6 months ago