Bucket o’ Bolts


Kirrik swept a forehand over the metal surface, watching the shifting light that glinted off the surface. “The good news is, it’s not going to get worse for us,” he reported. “The hatch warped when it hit the deck, and tore a little. It’s no longer airtight. Between that and the vents, there’s enough air getting in here. The walls are all fine, and there’s no weight pushing down on them, so it’s not going to collapse on us or anything.”

His companion’s head tilted to one side. “There’s a ‘but’ waiting there,” Krinni accused.

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Technicians working on the Azemi L97 Slipdrive engine had been pretty negative about it. Whatever virtues it had in terms of license fee, construction cost, and efficiency of both power and fuel was countered, they’d said – at least in those reviews that weren’t cursing tirades – by its maintenance demands. While parts weren’t an issue as such, the thing required regular adjustments, a task seemingly needing three hands while in cramped crawlspaces that even one tech could barely fit into, never mind two.

Kirrik, then, was doubly fortunate; he was far smaller than any other tech he’d met during his career in space, and any of his six limbs could be brought to bear when he needed a hand. If the work needed to set up and tune the L97 was complicated and needed him to move three things at once, that was still easier for him than bringing heavy force on one thing. Indeed, the extra bits were a joy to work with for now, though that’d probably ebb as the novelty wore off. And a secondhand focusing matrix with less than two hundred hours on it – the “heart” of the engine, the only part they hadn’t been able to fab new – meant that even those much-bemoaned extra adjustments would be less than had been demanded by the decade-old, much-abused, more-patches-than-not monstrosity that had been saved from the recycler to get their ship moving way back when.

Completing that thing’s long-delayed journey to be reduced to fab material had been one of the biggest guilty pleasures of Kirrik’s career.

(more…)

The ship’s bridge wasn’t much of a conference room. For that matter, it wasn’t much of a bridge – civilian vessels didn’t need all that much as it was, and in this case, auxiliary displays and a few secondary stations had been shut down and stripped for parts to keep more essential things running. But it was an even worse conference room, with crash chairs and consoles cluttering the open space. The only reason there was enough room for everyone present to sit facing one another was that the engineer was small enough to perch on top of a console.

In fairness, part of the reason for that was that their security chief and loadmaster took up as much space as any two of the others. Kirrik could have sat in his lap, but the Trygg didn’t really want to draw any more attention to their unconventional arrangement than might already be upon it, not during anything remotely official anyway.

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