Episode 133: Defusion

Captain Ortega flipped the final switch.

“Lookin’ good, Mac!”

The grizzled, but cheerful, engineer who continued to stand just behind him was unnerving. While he had initially welcomed the presence of an actual engineer, specifically one trained in power generator subsystems and energy distribution management, he’d considered it to be a good sign. Unfortunately, the engineer had been interested in seeing how Ortega would go about the process, and almost seemed more interested in pointedly withholding information as a way of making the process an educational one. Ortega hoped that, at the very least, the engineer would be willing to stop him from doing something destructive or deadly.

He glanced at the capacitance meter, currently displaying a ninety-eight percent charge.

“Think it’ll hold?” asked Ortega.

“I dunno. Do you?”

“I’d really like your professional opinion,” said Ortega, trying to stay patient. “We have two percent left to… I mean, one percent left to make sure it won’t discharge.”

“Then let’s hope you’re right, Mac.”

“Andrew,” said Ortega. “My name is Andrew. Or Captain Ortega.”

“And my name is Frederick. Freddy Waylay. You know, I knew an Andy Ortega back when I worked at New Lima, do you think you’re related?”

“Probably not, but you never know. It’s always possib-”

The capacitance meter ticked forward to one-hundred percent. Ortega took a deep breath and stepped back. After a second, another display came to life displaying a booting procedure that quickly cycle to a system maintenance panel. Ortega exhaled, as did the many armed guards behind him.

“Well then,” said Ortega. “I guess we fixed it. Assuming the generators were synchronized, I’m guessing the other teams were successful too.”

“Great!” said Freddy. “I knew you could do it. Never doubted for a second.”

In the distance, Ortega could hear the sounds of other small crowds of people uttering quick cheers. The ship wouldn’t be destroyed, at least not in this fashion. He turned back to Freddy, nodding.

“Thanks for the confidence. It would’ve helped if you’d been more direct, though.”

“Would it?”

“Very much so.”

“Are you sure?”

“Y…yes?”

“I doubt it,” said the engineer. “If only three of these generators had been fixed, the rest of the ship’s systems would’ve been unaffected. The folks at the other stations wouldn’t have let us down.”

“Isn’t it better to assume that they might not be able to and make sure that our job is done well?”

“Well of course. That’s why I’m watching you, isn’t it? And besides, now you know how to fix this kind of problem again in the future.”

“Captain Ortega?” said a voice behind the Captain, cutting off his line of questioning with the engineer. Ortega turned to see the new speaker, and felt relieved to see Alsafi, carrying her observation crown at her side and revealing her face and hair. She was grinning, clearly relieved.

“Did everything turn out all right?” he asked.

“Absolutely,” she said. “Well… effectively. One of the generators didn’t get completely fixed, but with no other generators linked to it the ship’s own fail-safes were enough to stop it in its tracks. There was some smoking, a little fire, but it was contained. Nice work. Glad to see that the action figure’s not all hype.”

“I hate those things.”

“Yeah, me too,” Alsafi said. “Totally. I mean, it’s just a money grab capitalizing on you.”

“Well, most of the proceeds go to charity. I’ve just always been weirded out by the eyes. They’re… off.”

“Oh! Yeah, okay, I get that. Cool. Guess it’s a good thing they made them, then. Gotta help the… charities. All the charities. Anyway, you’ve been called up to an audience with The Herald.”

“Zamona?”

“Yeah, that guy,” said Alsafi.

Ortega looked at the ground. Still unconscious, Ensign Trell continued to lie on the ground, motionless. He looked back up.

“I’m not sure I like that idea,” he said. “I’m not keen on going back in that cage.”

“Oh, don’t worry about that,” said Alsafi.

“Really?”

“Totally,” she said. “After how you got out of that last one, we’ll be putting you in a different cage entirely.”

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