Tumbler: Part 3

I think you get plenty of exercise every time you have to go outside, but nobody asked me when they programmed the spin. I think it’s a hell of a workout getting suited up, crawling down a few hundred yards of rock or container, pulling yourself along with your arms, to get to the back and check out the drives. It has to be done, I sure as hell don’t want to be stuck out here, but its hard work. I love flying, but being my own engineer is for the birds.

Not that I could do a whole lot if the thing did ever break on me. I know a few tricks. Where to smack it with a spanner when its being jittery. Or how to patch a leaky fuel hose. Just little stuff. Basic stuff. Like I said before, I don’t know how it all works. I just fly it. If this thing ever seriously broke, I’d be screwed.

Mostly its just maintenance. Make sure the juice is flowing. The burners burning. All the usual. As long as it’s doing what its supposed to be doing, I don’t get alarmed. So far, so good. Scribble down a few things for the pros to check next time I’m in dock.

It’s a hell of a lot better than the other end. Working on the front of the ship is hell. Not really exaggerating there either. That’s where the shield is. I’m not talking force fields or hard light bullshit, this ain’t sci-fi. I don’t have any of that, I’ve just got the cow-catcher.

You’ve seen them on old trains, that chunk of iron at the front of the train, clears crap off the tracks before it can derail the engine. That’s what I’ve got, kinda. I’ve got a fountain of plasma, superheated ions, pumped forward from the reactors and spewed out the nose of the Tumbler. See, space is a vacuum, but it’s far from empty. There’s all kinds of crap to run into, and at these speeds, a pebble can punch through armor plate. So you throw some plasma out there and it melts anything before you run into it, pretty much.

So working on the front is hell. Hot, burning, molten hell. Mostly the plasma cools before it hits the ship, just flares off into space, but you still gotta check. There’s always some pitting and scarring, and on occasion some real damage. Patch it up and then its the long commute back to the can I live in.

Back home.

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