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Posted on Tue Feb 25th, 2020 @ 5:15pm by Maximilian Wells

Mission: Mission 1: Gearing Up
Location: Engine Room

Max was sweating, after returning to the ship with the parts he had acquired with the help of Moira, he'd gone directly to the engine room, excited to get started on repairs.

Aside from the elementary repair job he'd pulled earlier, he'd never actually worked on a trace compression block engine. He'd learned all he could about them and could, if asked, recite the components, specs and maintenance procedures off the top of his head and when it came down to it, an engine was an engine. It had taken him all of a minute to figure out what was what and what needed to be done.

He'd spent the first twenty minutes prepping, taking out the old, damaged injectors, removing the old fuel lines and measuring them up for replacement and then bending and crimping the new lines to match. That had been the easy bit, but now he was under the engine, and he was sweating.

He'd gotten the fuel lines ran. He'd gotten the fuel lines connected at the fuel rail and ready to go into the injectors. He'd gotten the injectors in and hand tightened. And then he'd gotten stuck.

The torque rating on a TCB injector was 42 foot-pounds. That was a hard pull for a full-grown man and Max was far from that. There wasn't enough room under the engine to get a longer lever in to do the work for him, that had been the first thing he'd thought of doing, nor was there an auto-wrench, only an old manual torque wrench.

He knew that if he couldn't get the injectors tightened, then he could rightfully be accused of being unable to do the job and would likely be tossed out in favor of an older, stronger mechanic, even if it was a less able one. After all, what use was all the instinct and knowledge in the world if you didn't have the ability to put it into practice. That thought was making him sweat, and the prospect of the captain walking into the engine room at any moment was making him sweat, and hauling on the stupid torque wrench was making him sweat, too.

"Come on boy, pull!" The memory popped into his head unasked, he'd been all of seven years old and trying to haul a cart of seed from the shed to the field with a farm-hand at his back. Every time he'd tried to lift the cart and failed, he'd gotten laughed at and the farm-hand was holding a mighty big stick, the threat of which was growing stronger with every attempt. He'd strained, and cried, and pulled, and pushed, and gotten nowhere when the farm hand brought the stick down not an inch from his foot. "Gorramit boy, stop pulling with your arms, boy, use your legs! Move it, boy!"

Max's face darkened, his exasperated frown morphing into one more of anger. Most of his memories from his time on the farm were unpleasant, at best. It was a strange, uncomfortable feeling when one of them came to be useful, he almost begrudged it. But begrudgingly or not, he spun himself around under the engine, putting his right shoulder under the torque wrench and bracing his feet on the engine mounts. He took a breath, held it, and then pushed.

The torque wrench cut into his shoulder, the pain was sharp and strong. The boy didn't have much in the way of padding between his skin and his bones and the handle of the tool compressed whatever there was to grind on bone. Max was no stranger to pain, but nor was he a super-human, he squeezed his eyes shut, and kept pushing. And the thing gave, slowly moving inch by inch towards success.

By the time the wrench clicked, indicating the required torque had been met, his slender muscles were corded and straining, shoulder screaming in protest and compressed air was hissing out between his clenched teeth. At the click, he sagged, dropping to the deck as he drew in a sharp breath of both relief and pain. Three more to go.

All told, it took Max just under forty minutes from getting back with the parts to wearily hauling himself out from under the engine. It had felt like forty hours, his shoulder was burning like it had been pummeled, his legs were like jelly, his clothes were sticking to him and his hair was plastered to his forehead and neck. But it was done.

He took a minute, setting the torque wrench back in it's place instead of acting on the impulse to hurl it across the room and guzzling down a bottle of water, savoring the coolness and trying to imagine that it made him feel better, and then reached up and pulled the switch.

For a moment, there was nothing, then the grumble of the fuel pumps kicked in, pushing fresh fuel through the new fuel lines and with a whoosh, the engine began to slowly spin. The lights, which had been running on backup power, brightened and a gentle vibration returned to the deck. Satisfaction at completing the task outweighed the discomfort, and he couldn't help but grin shakily to himself as he finally sat, plopping down on the deck like a sack of potatoes and letting his head fall back against the bulkhead. Job done.


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