Mission 1: Gearing Up
Location: Engine Room
Timeline: Directly after the cargo bay confrontation
Fresh from the cargo bay, Max practically ran into the engine room of the Geronimo. The ship was still cold and dark, running on emergency lighting and backup battery power and the room was eerily still. First thing first, he got a good look at the engine, he was extremely gratified to see that it wasn't a Gursler or a Capissen 38, engines commonly found on cheap transports, but a good, solid trace compression block engine.
He'd never actually seen one in person, the last ship he'd worked on had a Gursler that he'd had to fight with constantly, but he'd studied the technical drawings until he'd memorized them and when it came down to it, an engine was an engine - every piece of technology in the 'verse shared a common language, and if you knew how to read it, anything could be worked out.
He grabbed the frame of the engine housing and hoisted himself up, resting his belly on the edge so that he could get a good look down into her guts. Step one was the compression coil, most often if you wanted to disable a TCB engine, you went for the compression coil - it was the most critical part of the engine and the one weakness the system had, an Achilles heel of sorts. He found the thing and determined that it was both intact and in place, problem eliminated.
Next, he moved to the catalyzer, another critical system and also found it to be intact and functioning, which was just as well because without one, the ship would be a floating hulk in space.
Max ran through the engine's systems one-by-one, working quickly and steadily, eliminating possible problem after problem. The G-Line, Grav Boot, Motivator, Pin-Lock and Retaining Coupler were all in decent condition, all working although he noted that half of them needed a good overhaul.
It took the young mechanic about five minutes to determine that the problem was fuel - as in, none was getting to the engine. A quick check of the gauges told him that there was plenty in the fuel cells, but the main artery wasn't delivering fuel to the engine.
Max was keenly aware that A. This was his opportunity to get in with the Geronimo's crew - if he could prove himself a useful mechanic and a good man to have in a crisis the captain might consider keeping him around and B. If he didn't fix the engine they were likely going to freeze to death while floating in space - so he was feeling a little bit of pressure.
Back to square one - he hopped down from the engine and traced the primary fuel line back to where it interfaced with the cells, half way along the line there was a cutoff valve for emergency fuel isolation and he found it - open, not the problem at all.
"How the hell did you shut down the ship... what's wrong with you, Ger'? Talk to me here..." He murmured to himself as he worked. Engines, and tech in general were not exactly living things, but they were alive, they breathed and moved and had good and bad days, just like living things. He'd always talked to them, first out of loneliness and then out of comfort. Machines helped to calm him, keep his nerves at bay and focus him on the job. The least he could do was give them the courtesy of decent conversation.
At the bottom of the cutoff valve there was a small reservoir, a kind of float bowl that was used for fuel inspection and, grabbing a wrench from Boney's tool box, he cracked it open a smidgen to let fuel dribble out on to his finger. It felt right, the right consistency and texture and a quick taste test confirmed that, as far as he could tell, the fuel wasn't contaminated in any way.
Tracing the main artery back to the engine again, he wriggled himself under the frame to get a look at the fuel injectors, devices which sprayed fuel into the combustion chamber of the engine in timed bursts controlled by the compression coil and the grav-boot to provide a continual source of steady power - and hit pay dirt.
Someone had, somehow, kinked the feed lines from the main artery to the injectors - they were solid lines that when bent, often kinked and blocked themselves, someone had gone in and deliberately bent them, choking fuel from the engine and starving her into silence.
"Son of a whore..." he snarled, wondering if he could dekink the lines, or if there were any spares aboard he could use to fix the problem properly. He slid out from under the engine, diving into the tools and supplies stowed around the engine room and came up with a pipe cutter, a crimping tool, a pipe bender, thermal glue and a single length of pipe.
"All right, all right..." he murmured as he lowered himself back under the engine to work, brain churning over solutions. If he could get at least one of the four injectors online, he could give the ship life support and basic power. Two would give them main power, communications and the like, three would give them engines, just about. He set to work, first cutting out the kinked length of pipe and then grafting in sections of new pipe to patch the lines - it was difficult work, requiring much fudging and a liberal application of glue, but after another five minutes of cursing, bending, patching and grafting, he'd ran out of pipe to use.
Three injectors it was, out of four. If he could tune the engine right it would run well enough to give them about half engine power, enough to get them to a port, at least. Tuning was the easy part, though, if he could get the engine to start.
Six attempts, several dozen curses and much tinkering got the engine running - running rougher than a boar's ass, but running. Main power flickered on throughout the ship and fresh air began to circulate again. All told, it had taken the boy seventeen minutes and fifty four seconds to get the engine fixed and running-ish.
Max sighed, feeling that warm glow of satisfaction, and also of not dying, run through him. He wiped his greasy hands on his already greasy clothes and reached up to hit the intercom. "Captain, this is Max. You've got about half engine power, but be real gentle with her - she's hurting, but she'll get us to port if we're careful."
"Acknowledged," was the clipped response. "Keep an eye on it, make sure it keeps spinning."
Max grinned, settling back against the bulkhead to watch the engine guages, more than happy to fulfill the captain's wish.