0229: Evasive Answers
“This is the Machines department,” Ed smiled slightly. “Machinations is that way.” He pointed a finger downward, in the direction of the command deck.
“Talk to Milo? What does Francis mean by that?” Lamont asked Ed as they passed briskly out of the hangar bay and into the bustling engine deck. “Did they expect that he was going to fly the coop?”
A cluster of crew members in various states of half-uniform swarmed past the pair and into the hangar bay, some of them muttering an acknowledgement to Spratt on the way by. Ed caught one of them by the arm, the pale skin of his hand a stark contrast against the dark brown of the other’s short-sleeved bicep. “Give her a full check-over,” he ordered. “She’s still all we’ve got for now. We don’t want any surprises.”
“Sure thing, Ed,” The man agreed.
“And mind the dress code,” Ed reminded him. “We’re in an emergency, not an apocalypse.”
The man muttered an apology and skipped away to return to the group that was heading toward the asteroid pod.
“How should I know?” Ed answered Lamont as if there had been no interruption. “I’m just a technician.”
“Chief Technician,” Lamont reminded him.
“This is the Machines department,” Ed smiled slightly. “Machinations is that way.” He pointed a finger downward, in the direction of the command deck. Then, straightening his uniform jacket, he surveyed the operations room in which they stood. The gray-paneled space was normally silent except for the occasional murmur of conversation, the quiet ticking of the memory banks that lined the rear wall, and the low throb of the engines beneath the soles of one’s feet. Now, many of the wall panels were removed and set aside, revealing pipes and electrical boxes. Several of the freestanding computers were half-disassembled. Dozens of technicians weaved around each other in a self-coordinated dance. Tools were passed, papers were exchanged and occasional sparks flew, causing Lamont to jump. Nodding with something like satisfaction, Ed made his way quickly to a woman who was standing in the midst of the bustle with a clipboard, like a pillar among ocean waves, her eyes darting from one place to the next.
“What’s our status?” He asked her.
Lamont only caught bits and pieces of her response. “...Structurally stable.” “...Trying to determine what caused such a runaway cascade...” “...Swapping transformers and building new ones as quickly...” “...Critically low on copper…” “...Keep going to Phobos…”