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[Situation Vacant] Reactor Chief Engineer
[Situation Vacant] Reactor Chief Engineer
#1
Location: Frigga 77, Main Belt, Fenspace

Frigga 77 Reactor Engineering department - Friggatomic - are looking for a Chief Reactor Engineer to oversee the final construction, commission and operation of three new nuclear fission reactors and their associated special fuel-handling technical equipment. This is a long-term posting for a minimum five year term.

The succesful candidate will:

-Oversee the completion construction and commissioning and continued safe of the largest nuclear fission power station in history.
-Establish training standards for reactor operating teams.
-Be responsible for the safe operation of three fission reactors and associated plant and equipment
-Be security conscious and capable of passing a security background check.
-Demonstrate a can-do attitude and an ability to make things work in a challenging engineering environment.

Friggatomic will provide

-Family relocation services
-Furnished apartment.
-Negotiable renumeration package
-Health and Welfare benefits.

A Qualification in nuclear engineering, nuclear physics from a recongnised college is a necessity.
5 years minum Experience in operation of fission nuclear power plants is a requirement.
Preference will be given to the candidate with management and administration experience.
Familiarity or Experience in the operation of larger high-powered channel type graphite moderated light water eactors will be considered a bonus.

Applications to be forwarded with cover letter to frigga.engineering.nuclear@friggarock.fen

----

I love the smell of rotaries in the morning. You know one time, I got to work early, before the rush hour. I walked through the empty carpark, I didn't see one bloody Prius or Golf. And that smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole carpark, smelled like.... ....speed.

One day they're going to ban them.
Reply
RE: [Situation Vacant] Reactor Chief Engineer
#2
From: Murphy@made.Anon
To: J.Jaguar@Frigga.net

re:[Situation Vacant]

Jet? From a semi Made man to GJ's best arse kick... err... Corrective Troubleshooter...

Are you serious? I had some clues that what happened was really really bad for you, but this sounds like your reactors blew up and you need someone to make sure this doesn't happen in the future!!! Is this really the face you want to show to the rest of the Fen, even those who maybe are not as made as I am?

Cause, its not just me. the Don wants to know if he needs to try and do damage control on your behalf
Hear that thunder rolling till it seems to rock the sky?
Thats' every ship in Grayson's Navy taking up the cry!
NO QUARTER!

No Quarter by Echo's Children
Reply
RE: [Situation Vacant] Reactor Chief Engineer
#3
From,: J.Jaguar@Frigga.net
To:  Murphy@made.Anon

RE:re:[Situation Vacant]

When NASA is wondering why they detected a Gamma Ray burst in the main belt the secret will out.  Nobody realises just how close this came to being Crystal Pripyat. Or worse. I'd like to keep it that way. The  reactor blew up and the containment held. We never measured anything in an inhabited space above 36mSv/hr - that's all they need to know.

Anyway, it's not just professionalism standards.

The remaining reactors need to be shut-down. And they need to be replaced. And we need a specialist with experience in operating them.

Speaking of which. Know where I can get 1500 tons of block Venusian Diamond?

-Jet

I love the smell of rotaries in the morning. You know one time, I got to work early, before the rush hour. I walked through the empty carpark, I didn't see one bloody Prius or Golf. And that smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole carpark, smelled like.... ....speed.

One day they're going to ban them.
Reply
RE: [Situation Vacant] Reactor Chief Engineer
#4
From: Murphy@made.Anon
To: J.Jaguar@Frigga.net

Re: Venusian Diamond

I'll have to check with the Don, but might have a handle on both.
Hear that thunder rolling till it seems to rock the sky?
Thats' every ship in Grayson's Navy taking up the cry!
NO QUARTER!

No Quarter by Echo's Children
Reply
RE: [Situation Vacant] Reactor Chief Engineer
#5
OOC:
Y'know, I had to take a day to stop myself going ITG via A.C. here, kinda because while A.C.'s patience is long, it ain't infinite.

Basically, it would have been A.C. complaining to Jet that friends HELP each other, and that she could put Jet in touch with people who could provide safe Fusion power cheap (more than enough for Frigga's needs) before going "Fuck It" and telling Jet she's coming over to 'Spar' and nor to 'Bother' as she'd pull in Mars if she had too (i.e. running is useless) and she could rebuild Jet from Scratch if necessary to 'fix the stupid'.

So yeah.  I figured this wouldn't work.

But if Jet needs to wield A.C. as a bludgeon to get the Frigga inhabitants in line to actually FIX things, go ahead.
Reply
RE: [Situation Vacant] Reactor Chief Engineer
#6
A.C. has the context that everyone else doesn't - there's one other thing you can do with a fission reactor - especially a fission reactor of that particular type.

I think I had planned to end the Mackie story with Jet and Noah speaking - and Jet saying something to the effect of "Grey wasn't the mission - the mission's not over yet".

Truth is, maybe I can't imagine Jet as being happy - but maybe that's just projection.

I love the smell of rotaries in the morning. You know one time, I got to work early, before the rush hour. I walked through the empty carpark, I didn't see one bloody Prius or Golf. And that smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole carpark, smelled like.... ....speed.

One day they're going to ban them.
Reply
RE: [Situation Vacant] Reactor Chief Engineer
#7
Notice of the Making of This Statutory Instrument published in the Official Gazette of the Crystal Millenium on April 26th, 2026.

I CHENHUA ZHANG, Minister for Cultural Affairs in exercise of the powers granted to me according to Section 4© of the Historical Properties Act 2013, on the advice of the Committee for Historical and Cultural affairs, do declare as follows, without comment on the cause of the reactor accident on Frigga 77, it is the resolution of Her Majesty's Government that the events which occurred on Frigga 77 on May 7th of 2025 were of such magnitude as to be worthy of careful preservation for the study and education future generations.

Therefore, under the powers of the aforementioned act, it is ordered by Her Majesty's Government on this day, April 26th, 2026 that the Control room of Reactor Block Four, Frigga 77, be designated a Significant Historical Monument of the Crystal Millennium. Furthermore, the ruins of Reactor Block Four, Frigga 77 be designated a Historical Monument of the Crystal Millennium. A memorial mural installed on Frigga 77 at Eleanor City Gateway is to be declared a Cultural Monument of the Crystal Millennium.

It is therefore required that:
- These historical and cultural monuments are to be preserved in a condition as close as reasonably practical to their condition on the date of the incident.
- These historical and cultural monuments are to remain unaltered - except where such alterations are deemed appropriate by the Committee for Historical and Cultural affairs, or where these alterations are necessary for immediate preservation, for fire hazard prevention or for prevention and mitigation of specific hazards associated with the ruins of Reactor Block Four.
- Subject to safety requirements and with special deference to the unique hazards imposed by Reactor Block Four, these monuments be made publicly accessible and provided with such artifacts, exhibits and informational displays so as to provide appropriate context to the historical events.
- Her Majesty's Government to provide appropriate capital funding through the Committee for Historical and Cultural affairs to enable the preservation of these monuments, and provision of exhibition services.

The Municipal Council of Eleanor City, Frigga 77 is to provide plans to the Committee for Historical and Cultural affairs for preservation and interpretation of these properties prior to the 26th of May of 2026.

GIVEN under my official seal
26th April, 2026
CHENHUA ZHANG
Minister for Cultural Affairs.

I love the smell of rotaries in the morning. You know one time, I got to work early, before the rush hour. I walked through the empty carpark, I didn't see one bloody Prius or Golf. And that smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole carpark, smelled like.... ....speed.

One day they're going to ban them.
Reply
RE: [Situation Vacant] Reactor Chief Engineer
#8
OOC: Yeah, even though cultures tend to want to remember the good oopies over the bad, this is kind of like preserving the holocaust camps.

Lest we Forget, Indeed.
Hear that thunder rolling till it seems to rock the sky?
Thats' every ship in Grayson's Navy taking up the cry!
NO QUARTER!

No Quarter by Echo's Children
Reply
RE: [Situation Vacant] Reactor Chief Engineer
#9
The tone of it all really does depend on your opinion of the reactor and what caused the accident. And those who stopped it from happening. Some of those who caused it, are the same who stopped it. Which is partly why the minister above is directing that things be preserved, rather than saying how.

There is sort of a story here which will evolve over the following few posts. The next part goes back about 40 years or so

A few notes on the Frigga accident.

I love the smell of rotaries in the morning. You know one time, I got to work early, before the rush hour. I walked through the empty carpark, I didn't see one bloody Prius or Golf. And that smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole carpark, smelled like.... ....speed.

One day they're going to ban them.
Reply
RE: [Situation Vacant] Reactor Chief Engineer
#10
From: [Redacted]
To: [Redacted]
Subj: Methods of production of DeltAlloy. Survey of Block 2 reactor

The muon tomography survey's done. I've attached the whole lot but the interesting one's are below.,

Fig-01: Erosion of the graphite reactor liner @ 240 degrees.
Fig-02: Detached/disnitegrated graphite panel @ 320 degrees.

The loss of a liner panel over a lithium plate is pain in the arse - it slows down fuel breeding. The loss of a moderator panel over a HexAlloy panel would expose that panel to unmoderated fast neutrons. We'd have a sudden fast fission in the panel that'd probably blow a good sized hole in the cooling circuit and the reactor shell, with all the expected consequences.

The survey of unit 02 suggests that this isn't just possible, but likely. We need another way to do this.

--------------------------------------

From: [Redacted]
To: [Redacted]
Subj: RE: Methods of production of DeltAlloy. Survey of Block 2 reactor

Time for Plan B.

---------------------------------------

From: [Redacted]
To: [Redacted]
Subj: RE: RE: Methods of production of DeltAlloy. Survey of Block 2 reactor

I was afraid you'd say that.

--------------------------------------

From: [Redacted]
To: [Redacted]
Subj: RE:RE:RE: Methods of production of DeltAlloy. Survey of Block 2 reactor

Using a handwaved option introduces an unnaceptable level of randomness to the solution

Any other physical option creates too much of a pattern -it's too obvious what the end goal is. Plan B solves an obvious problem - the replacement of an unsafe reactor with a new power generator. There's justification for the ability to produce quantities of DeltAlloy as a secondary benefit. The risks of doing so fit character profiles - you know you've earned a 'bit' of a reputation.

Statistically - this process needs to be completed within five years. After five years, the probability of an independant discovery exceeds the acceptable limit. All models predict certain discovery by year ten - and a near certain chance of destructive employment within 1 year of public disclosure. What happens after this should not need explanation.

This plan gives us the best chance of completing the process before then.

Alternative methods lead to the synchronicity threshold being crossed at a maximum of three years - and most likely much sooner.

--------------------------------------

From: [Redacted]
To: [Redacted]
Subj: RE:RE:RE:RE: Methods of production of DeltAlloy. Survey of Block 2 reactor

This is my penance for knowing sin, isn't it?

--------------------------------------

From: [Redacted]
To: [Redacted]
Subj: RE:RE:RE:RE:RE: Methods of production of DeltAlloy. Survey of Block 2 reactor

The finest minds in the universe can assure the safety. We've already done multiple simulations and refined the design to ensure its safety.

--------------------------------------

From: [Redacted]
To: [Redacted]
Subj: RE:RE:RE:RE:RE:RE: Methods of production of DeltAlloy. Survey of Block 2 reactor

And I just have to justify something so insane to a who'll load of people who can never know the real reason why we're doing it. Have you factored that into your models?

--------------------------------------

From: [Redacted]
To: [Redacted]
Subj: RE:RE:RE:RE:RE:RE:RE: Methods of production of DeltAlloy. Survey of Block 2 reactor

Yes. Your skill at 'The Shell Game' has been noted in multiple sources, including the recent arrest.

This is your responsibility. I think, you already know how you'll do it.

--------------------------------------

From: [Redacted]
To: [Redacted]
Subj: RE:RE:RE:RE:RE:RE:RE:RE Methods of production of DeltAlloy. Survey of Block 2 reactor

We have our fears - that which might become reality. And we have Godzilla, which is reality.

--------------------------------------

From: [Redacted]
To: [Redacted]
Subj: RE:RE:RE:RE:RE:RE:RE:RE:RE Methods of production of DeltAlloy. Survey of Block 2 reactor

An interesting reference. But our Godzilla has not been born yet. This is our nightmare - but hopefully never our reality.

--------------------------------------

From: [Redacted]
To: [Redacted]
Subj: RE:RE:RE:RE:RE:RE:RE:RE:RE:RE: Methods of production of DeltAlloy. Survey of Block 2 reactor

In my experience, handwavium has a habit of turning my nighmares into reality.

--------------------------------------

I love the smell of rotaries in the morning. You know one time, I got to work early, before the rush hour. I walked through the empty carpark, I didn't see one bloody Prius or Golf. And that smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole carpark, smelled like.... ....speed.

One day they're going to ban them.
Reply
RE: [Situation Vacant] Reactor Chief Engineer
#11
OOC: If somebody needs a quiet place to talk face-to-face, tickets to a private (and I mean private) booth to see the Red Lad Revue can be sent to people who need to talk - anonymously or not.
--
Rob Kelk

In these uncertain times, it's OK not to be OK. Don't be afraid to ask somebody for help.
Reply
RE: [Situation Vacant] Reactor Chief Engineer
#12
That would be an interesting booth to sit at - wonder who else is there



-----------
Thanks for coming everybody. This months town hall will be a little bit different

The results from the Setsuna committee are in.

I wish I had better news. This is a settlement that was effectively abandoned for most of a decade, then put back into service. Systems ran with minimal maintenance, or were barely run at all. Others are now operating at overload to cover systems stripped out a decade ago. Only now are we starting to catch up on things that needed to be done years ago.

If nothing changes, the MAGI predict the collapse of Frigga as a viable settlement in about three years. We're already seeing symptoms of it daily; power problems, life-support hiccups, and people getting their deliveries delayed because the MAGI are prioritising spare parts more and more. In twelve months, so much time will be spend on maintenance and repair, that new works will have to stop. Within two years, the environmental controls will be degraded to the point where it'll impact fresh water provisions, air quality and health a wellbeing. After three years time, the equipment failure rate will be so high that it'll force us to choose between heating, or eating.

That's if everything goes to plan, and we lose no other major plant items.

We also have three power reactors that are critically worn. Unit Three is mostly serviceable. Two has internal damage but is functional in the short term. Unit 01 will be shut down and stripped for parts when it reaches its next maintenance window. At that point, on two reactors, we've lost our maintenance reserve capacity, which impacts everything from food production, to work, to the basic necessities of life.

This is as bad as it gets. This is the sum total of a decade's technical debt. We are, almost, technically bankrupt.

But that's only if we do nothing.

We've six months. Maybe a year to turn this around.

I think we can do it.

Step one is Power. Power is everything. It's how we eat, how we sleep, and how we breath. It lights the Insolator in the farm. It purifies the air. It keeps the lights on and the water flowing. Our first aim, is to build a new, secure power source. Our reactors will be shut down. They will be replaced by something newer and more powerful, ensuring a security of energy supply

Step two is fuel. Most of our vehicles, the majority of our machines, burn diesel, kerosene or petrol. This suited when the power infrastructure had been ripped out and we needed to get to work quickly, using second hand equipment. It also means we go through air filters that should last a year, in less than a month. The majority of the oxygen produced on this station, is burnt. There's benzene and particulates in the water. The air will kill more people than the few microroentgen floating around. I've proposed to the Council that fuel use should be rationed, restricted and allocated by the MAGI, to phase-out combustion fuel within three years.

Step three, is reconstruction, re-using what we have as a foundation. We have a functioning power grid, based on mundane technology. There's a whole world of spare parts available. Replacing it would be too invasive. It works. With a secure source of power, we can supply electric locomotives, electric cars, electric machinery. We can expand the farms, build more insolators

To supply the grid we will build three new power reactors, to replace the fusion reactors we have decommissioned. One will be a test - a pilot. The other two will be the largest power reactors ever made in this universe. 7 Gigawatts of thermal power, each. 2 and a half Gigawatts of electric power. Enough energy to send five DeLoreans back to 1955 every operating second.

It can be done safely, and on time.

This is the MAGI's plan. It's bold. It's brash. It'll work.

Last year, we risked everything to save this place from being Pripyat in space. Why did we do that, if we're going to walk away now?

This will give us the power to revolutionise our world.

------------


----------------------------------
Catalog [2022-A]:
-Power and Energy
--Electricity Generation
---Atomic Power
----Nuclear Fission
-----Natural Uranium Reactors

Origin Line: KA-4476 - "Perestroika-4".
Origin Date: November 2019
Source: Archive of the Kurchatov Institute.

- 1.2 Технические характеристики реактора РБМК-2400п. В.И. Ленинская АЭС. Чернобыльский реактор 09 и 10
- 2.5 Эксплуатация реактора РБМК в экстремальных условиях
----- 2.5.13 Предлагаемые модификации реактора РБМК.
----------------------------------

I love the smell of rotaries in the morning. You know one time, I got to work early, before the rush hour. I walked through the empty carpark, I didn't see one bloody Prius or Golf. And that smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole carpark, smelled like.... ....speed.

One day they're going to ban them.
Reply
RE: [Situation Vacant] Reactor Chief Engineer
#13
Part 4: A Step Back in Time

---

Every alarm light lit up at once - a thousand indicators flashing, yellow, orange and red, each one out of sequence of the others. A dozen alarm tones sounded, mingling into one solid cacophony of sound. A circular representation of the reactor torus flickered red, warning of a hundred sensors giving incorrect readings. Indicator dials showing injector and diverter positions flashed warnings that control signals had been lost. A diagram of the reactor hydraulic circuit flashed in time with a dozen dead sensors. The turbine continued to coast to a stop. Main generators showed no power.

It took less than a heartbeat for Jet to comprehend it all. “What the hell?” she managed to say.

The reactor operator sat back in his seat. Keisuke Morita took a moment to clear his glasses and take a few, quick breaths. His hands tried a few switches on the console in front of him, getting nothing but red lights in response. 

He read from a growing list of red lines on the monitors in front of him.

“No signal on 48 volt control circuit. Reactor vault pressure increase. Neutron growth rate increase. Neutron growth rate over limit. Power growth rate over limit. Sector Power over limit. Global power over limit. Reactor vault pressure exceeding limit. Neutron rate zero. Field pinch warning…..”

“I’ve no flow…”  Tasha, the hydraulic operator, interrupted from the second console.  “High water, both steam generators. Low water, both. High pressure. No pressure. No signal. Pump failure - what the hell?”

Another alarm kept her from continuing - this one loud, shrill and distinctive. Four sharp tones repeating in sequence.

Jet silenced it with a single switch.

“Fire alarm. Reactor. Turbine. Turbine interconnect,” said Keisuke.  “It’s on fire.”

The words barely made it out of his mouth.

“Emergency Batteries!” ordered Jet. Her voice rattled off the wall.

“Nothing. No response.” Kurt Meier answered from the power control console. The man looked at her for another option, then at the two operators sat beside him.  Sweat had already begun to stain his white suit shirt. “That’s not possible. None of this is possible.This has to be instrumentation.”

His blues eyes begged for an answer from anyone. Something more than the one possibility nobody dared voice.

“Instrumentation,” Jet repeated. In that moment, everything made sense. Only one thing could knock out every single sensor at once. “Field collapse must’ve caused an EMP and blew out the power circuits. Start the generators for reactor three - I’ll use the controls for three to switch the bus to four’s pump service line.”

“That’s not an approved procedure!” Meier objected. A flash of terror shone in his wide eyes.

As if things could possibly be made worse.

“Do it!” Jet snapped back. “We need water in that core or we’re looking at a disaster.”

The reactor either needed water, or was in such a condition that it didn’t. Better to have it and not need it, then need it but not have it.

“I’ve make-up water from the reserves,” said Tasha. Her eyes focused on the few indicators in front of her that still worked. She took a moment to brush a few strands of dark hair from her face with a gloved hand. “Tank level’s going down but I can't see any in the reactor.”

Meir slumped in the generator operator’s seat. “If the relief valves are open, boiloff and gravity flow will cool the shutdown reactor.”

“Did it shut down?” Tasha asked.

“....Probably.” answered Keisuke  “The field was getting unstable.”

He didn’t sound convinced.

A comm phone on the wall chimed, begging for attention. Jet, by virtue of being closest, grabbed it with one hand.

“It’s Jet. I’m in Four.”

“What’re you guys doing down there?” Anikas’ voice carried a flurry pf panic. “I got a call from Lun - there’s been a loud bang in the landing bay. I’ve a fire alarm in the reactor.

“The test failed. We blew the magnets on the reactor. The backblast started a fire.”

Jet sounded more annoyed, than frightened.

“I’ll get fire brigade on the way.” .

A dreadful sensation crawled under Jets armour - a thousand legs prickling across what’d once been her skin.

Something more complex had happened, but she couldn’t put words to it.

“Tell them to wait. Send an exocomp first. Scout it out”

“Right. OK. Exocomp despatched.”

“The magnets didn’t blow“  A voice pulled her out of the call 

“What?” Jet blinked.

“Last data shows them intact.” Keisuku pointed at the figures on the monitor in front of him.

“The sensors mustn’t’ve registered it before they were destroyed.” Kurt said.

“The trigger signal?”

“The detonators were still charging.” Keisuke clarified.

A moment passed in the room. Everyone understood what it meant. Nobody wanted to voice it - not out loud.

“Something else. Hydrogen…..” said Tasha, looking between the other three for someone to confirm her best hopes, someone to offer another simple explanation. “We did everything right. The reactor was coming under control. Something strange has happened. ”

She looked to her screen for an explanation - in case something had changed from the previous moment. Nobody said a word. The control panel continued to alarm.

“I’ll go to three,” said Jet, after a few moments. “Flood the core. Keep trying to figure this thing out. Use the last few seconds of data - frame by frame if you have to - figure out what failed first -  where it started.”

Keep them working. Keep everyone from panicking.

Jet left the room with that, letting the armoured security door seal shut behind her. A few moments peace allowed her to gather her thoughts and try and ignore a muse insisting on feeding details of a forty year old disaster.

At least it gave her ideas.

Running footsteps interrupted her.

Kim Thsombe, from reactor one. She wore the traditional sammy outfit - the same white leotard, blue thigh-length skirt and red thigh boots that’d become fashionable because they could be made so cheap and comfortable.

Only a single band on her upper arm marked her as a reactor operator.

She stopped, doubled over, bracing herself against her knees, gasping for breath.

“What the fuck….” she gasped. “... are you doing in there?”

“We had the blow the magnets,” Jet said, quickly. “We’ve a fire.”

Kim looked up, still struggling for breath.“....if there’s a fire in four….”

“Ignore the manual. Disable the automatic shutdown if you have to. Do what you have to do to keep power up.”

“Is it bad?”

“The reactor’s scrap and we’ll be getting 3.6 Roentgen jokes for the next six months from every clever idiot orbiting the sun.” In the back of her mind, Jet already sensed otherwise. “Keep the lights on,” she added.

Kim nodded. “We’ll do that.”

Kim didn’t run back - she walked. Jet took a moment to wonder if she shouldn’t have been a bit more serious. It didn’t matter - so long as the other reactor didn’t shut itself off and leave them high and dry with no power to solve the problem, it’d be ok. 

Beside the door to the control room three hung a warning sign. Restricted to Authorised Employees. Unauthorised entrance is grounds for immediate termination.

It was never clear whether that was in a corporate sense, or a Schwarzenneger sense. American libertarians could be weird like that.

Jet took a few breaths then opened the door to reactor three’s control room. Compared to the living chaos in four, three seemed eerily dead.

Nobody waited inside. Every screen sat dark. The entire system had been shut down and left waiting. The starter lockout key had long been lost - Jet instead lifted control panel cover, reached in through the circuitry and turned the contactor by hand.

Relays thumped into place. Computers and control circuits chirped as they ran through their startup sequence. Jet took the time to raise Lun using her own onboard comms.

“Alekseeva…” she answered after a half second.

“Jet here. What happened.”

“We felt a large shock. Lights from the roof collapsed to the floor below.”A pause. Lun didn’t sound concerned, but then when it came to serious matters, she could slip into that Soviet deadpan where it could be difficult to tell if the world could be ending, or if it might just be raining outside. “The gantry crane has been knocked off its tracks. No casualties.”

A dreadful thought came to Jet’s mind.

“The crane’s off its tracks?” 

“Yes,” Lun confirmed.

The crane ran on a track built on top of a retaining wall. The retaining wall separated the turbine for reactor four from the landing bay.

If that wall had moved? Jet felt her mouth go dry at the possibility.

“Do you’ve a dosimeter aboard?” she asked. “A radiation dosimeter.”

“Yes,” Lun answered, still absolutely unfazed. The slightest mention of radiation would have anyone else running for the nearest airlock.

Jet waited.

Around her the control systems for Unit three came to life. Glass-screen monitors showed the entire system in a cold and stable shutdown. Fire alarms stood silent. Radiation detectors showed only the usual levels for an idle core.

She remembered them being higher when they first bought the station.  At least the bulkhead wall between the reactors had held up.

Lun pinged her internal comm. Jet pounced on it.

“210 microroentgen per second,” Lun reported.

“210,” Jet repeated, momentarily relieved. “That’s not good, but it’s not a disaster.”

Not great, not terrible, her mind teased. Still, she couldn’t escape what it meant. This thing had just gotten so much worse. She felt her breath quicken.

She had to know how much worse.

“I need someone to check that wall for damage,” she said. “Have them wear a spacesuit. Bring a dosimeter.”

“Is this….” Lun began.

Chernobyl. The word went unsaid.

“....I don’t know yet. It might just be a steam leak.”

The relief valves had been opened. Jet already suspected otherwise. But no use admitting it until it’d been confirmed.

“I’ll do it myself,” said Lun. “We will make ready to sail. The ship will be ready to depart within the hour.”

“Thanks.”

The line cut, leaving Jet alone with the control system.

Jet took a moment to orient herself, tracing through the diagrams printed on the panels to find the correct switches. Beside them a single indicator lamp warned of an active fire somewhere in Reactor four.

An electromechanical lock blocked her from switching power to the dead circuits.

She made a note to permanently disable the permissives and interlocks in the remaining reactors if she ever got the chance. Some self-righteous engineer had made it impossible to do what needed to be done to save the system.

Jet lifted the panel and broke the lock, throwing the metal contactor to the linoleum floor.

For a half second, the indicator lights showed green - long enough for Jet to believe that maybe it had been an electrical issue

A single alarm belled as the circuit breakers tripped on a dead short.

Jet tried a second time.

She received the exact same answer.

Jet growled inside her throat. Of course it wouldn’t cooperate.

She tried a third time.

One of the breakers tripped for a third time. The other malfunctioned and refused to close, giving an overheat warning.

“Fuck it!”

Jet couldn’t escape the truth. Whatever’d happened - she’d never hear the fucking end of it. Fucking self-righteous morons.

She sat on the console, drumming over a thousand possibilities in her mind, her worst fears already making a nest in the back of her head.

A Boskone attack would be too easy, wouldn’t it?

She took a breath.

Fuck it anyway

It couldn’t be escaped. Putting her head in the sand would just get everyone killed.

Resigned to her fate, she left the control room of reactor three - accidentally taking the reinforced handle of the door with her. She tossed it to the floor with an annoyed grunt.

The important thing was to act. It might still be simple.

It took her a few moments to walk back to the door to four. The door opened to voices struggling with a system that complained at every action they took. The main alarms had been silenced. The panicked lightshow from the control panels continued.

Keisuke stood beside Tasha, both of them focused on the console in front of them. Kurt still sat at turbine control, a ring binder on his lap unfolded with printed hydraulic diagrams.

“Number two dry run trip,” said Keisuke. “Transfer pumps offline.”

Tasha looked at him, then down at her screen. “Reserve water tanks empty. Kims crew are bitching at me for taking all theirs.”

“That’s everything,” said Kurt, with the finality of a pronounced death sentence

“Still nothing in the reactor,” said Tasha. “Nothing anywhere.”

Jet glanced at the main screens. Nothing critical had changed. A few more sensors had dropped offline. The fire had to be spreading.

The door closed behind her. Everyone looked to her. She looked at each in turn, at the fear moulded into their faces.She felt it rise inside her once again.

Only one thing could save them.

“What happened to the turbine?”

Kurt blinked owlishly, taken aback for a heartbeat. Her glanced at the consoles beside him. “It completed rundown normally”               

“Oil? Coolant?” Jet demanded.

“Oil level nominal. Hydrogen pressure nominal. Steam pressure, zero. Condensers - loss of vacuum.”

As normal as possible, considering the circumstances. It didn’t matter to him. She could see him wondering why it mattered to her. 

Her stomach dropped. Everyone in the room mirrored the change in her expression.

“There’s radiation in the hangar,” she said, looking at the still-alarming panel, rather than at them . “One of the walls has shifted. I think something’s happened to the reactor.”

“Happened?” Keisuke blinked.

“Happened? You mean, you think it exploded?” Tasha’s gaze pierced.

Jet hadn’t wanted to be the one to say it.

“That is not possible!” Kurt snapped, offended at the idea. Already he’d rose to his feet, daring her to match him. “An explosion like this is not possible with a fusion reactor.”

Jet felt the sudden urge to shut him up permanently.

“It doesn’t matter what’s possible,” said Jet, focusing on keeping her voice even, despite the adrenaline buzzing in her body. She looked at each of them in turn. “Just what’s happened. There’s been a large explosion, a fire, and we’ve a radiation leak.”

“How much?” Kurt demanded. “How much radiation? That’ll tell what’s happened”

“It’s not clear yet,” Jet said.

Not quite the three point six answer. It really could be minimal still.

“A rupture in a steam line, or on the discharge header.” Kurt pronounced. His fingers flicked through the binder, searching for the right image. He smirked , flipping the  the binder upright to show the diagram. “This here.” he placed his finger on it. “If the pressure dropped too quickly it would flash-boil the water in the steam generators. That would cause a water hammer, and blow the generator apart. That could do something like this.”

Tasha nodded. “Those generators were overflowing right before we lost our controls.” She looked to Keisuke, then to Jet for any hint of disagreement.“They were full of water.”

Anything that wasn’t the reactor could be dealt with.far easier than the reactor itself.

Jet glanced at the reactor monitors. No signal from any steam generator. No signal from any discharge header. No signal from the core.

Like nothing was there at all.

It felt like wishful thinking. It’d sounded like desperate thinking.

Lun pinged her comm. For a moment, she considered keeping it private - not to completely extinguish the one spark of hope that’d glimmered in the room - before forwarding it through to the reactor comm system.

Whatever the answer, they needed to hear it. 

“Jet here.”

“I’m at the wall.” Luns voice emerged from the speaker, tinny and thin, chased by the rush of air through a space suit ventilator. “There is a crack in the wall where two panels meet. One of the panels has moved forwards by seven centimetres. Smoke is rising from the crack as a steady stream.”

“Steam?” Kurt seized on it.

“Smoke.” Lun corrected, her voice firm. “Dark. Under pressure.”

All four in the room drew in a breath at once.

“Radiation reading is…” Lun paused. The sound of a finger tapping on piece of plastic carried through the speaker.  “....off scale.”

“How high is the scale?” Kurt demanded.

“One thousand microroentgen per second,” Lun answered. The first shiver of unease entered her voice. “I can taste metal. I can’t stay here.”

“That’s...” Tasha breathed

The same model of old Soviet dosimeter, giving the exact same off-scale reading it’d done forty years before. Three point Six Roentgen per hour.

“Don’t stay,” said Jet. “There’s nothing more you can do.”

“We’ll keep getting the ship ready. If it gets worse, we’ll abandon the ship

“Alright. Use your judgement.”

The line went dead.

All three sat, staring at Jet, looking for the answer - looking for the diamond bullet to make the problem go away.

Of course Jet would know. Jet was the BNF. The one in charge. The one running the room.

Jet felt the panic rising in the room, the gnawing sensation that they sat on the edge of a disaster, a Pompeii, a Crystal Osaka -  another fucking Chernobyl - and only one person could solve it.

With no idea what to do, and knowing something had to be done, she turned her attention to the problem that could be solved, something to keep everyone’s attention focused on.

Jet felt her own finger tap on the comm panel for a moment, filling the air with a sharp rapping sound.

The idea came a moment later. She keyed in the code for the station’s main control room

“Anika,” Anika answered after three rings, her voice coming sharp, pulled tight by a new panic. An alarm could be heard in the background, begging for attention. “I just got a smoke alarm in the main landing bay!”

Already thick enough to set off the fire detectors.

No point in sugar coating it.

“The containment wall in the landing bay has been damaged. Smoke is leaking through it from the fire in the reactor compartment. The smoke is radioactive.”

There was a pause. The alarm continued to sound.

“...this is… “ Anika began.

The most important thing was to seem confident - that she knew what she was doing - even if she didn’t.

“If that wall comes down it will be a disaster.” Jet said. She took a breath. “I need a team to shore it up. Have them get high-range dosimeters and breathing apparatus from the reactor section.” She paused, remembering that she had no idea just how radioactive that smoke was. It might be the worst kind of death sentence. “Volunteers only. Tell them about the radiation. Tell them the smoke is potentially lethal if they inhale it. Tell them if that wall comes down we’re looking at a Chernobyl. Let them make their own decision on whether to go.”

Anika breathed.

“I… understand.”

Jet considered the fact that she might’ve just condemned a dozen people to a brutal death - or a lingering sickness. It sat on her shoulders, heavy, even when weighed against the chance of the wall coming down and condemning dozens more.

She wasn’t even sure if she’d thought about it in those terms. It just seemed like the right thing to do in the moment.

“What do we do?”

A simple question.

In the moment, Jet had no idea. Nobody in Fenspace had ever faced anything like it. Few human beings alive had ever faced anything like it.

The big options swam for a half second. Evacuate the station. Fight the fire. Let it burn out.

She had the idea that A.C. would’ve been half way through whipping up some form of handwaved expanding foam - something to contain the radiation, smother the fire and support the whole structure from the inside.

Probably not possible, not with the materials Frigga had. Not worth wasting time on. It’d only get fucked up anyway.

Ben would’ve been halfway towards getting everyone off - loading every available shuttle and starship. Frigga had Lun, and some private shuttles - not enough for over five hundred. And God only knew how long a rescue would take to get organised.

Especially with the landing bay flooded by radiation.

Noah Scott would’ve actually been able to pay for the upgrades the reactor needed without having to prove the were needed, so no fucking accident at all there.

Jet had only herself, and Frigga. And a problem in the moment that seemed far too large to be considered by either.

The answer in the moment sat idle on the master display. Solve the problems they could tackle - step by step.

Use them as a ladder.

The turbine still registered normal. Full of flammable oil. Full of flammable hydrogen coolant. The turbine hall wall had already been damaged. What to do seemed obvious, considering what she’d thought to check a few moments before.

“Drain the turbine oil.” she instructed.  “Dump the coolant. If either of them explode, they might take out that damaged wall.”

Tell them what must be done. More importantly, tell them why - what would be achieved, what would being prevented. It was a lesson she'd been taught years before. It worked in wartime.

All three settled - with at least something to focus on. Sitting at the turbine operators’ console  Kurt had the controls to his hand. He worked through the switches, cancelling the alarms and overriding the permissives.

“If the remote doesn’t work,” he said.  “It’ll have to be done manually. In the turbine hall.”

Full of radiation. Potentially a death sentence.

Tasha took a breath, settling back into her chair. “I know where they are.”

Jet considered that she might’ve been able to do it faster than both. She herself did have some level of radiation resistance - enough to tolerate spaceflight. How high did that go?

For obvious reasons, it’d never been tested.

There were other options. Relay teams. Expending exocomps. It depended on how bad things were in that room. Humans could survive high radiation fields better than most electronics. For a few minutes, at least.

Jet stared at the valves on the panel display, showing normal readings. Her mouth went dry. Her heart crawled up her throat. She preferred not to find out. They had power. Each valve reported its position. She couldn’t conceive of a reason beyond sheer spite why they wouldn’t.

Each light turned green in sequence as each valve motor began to turn.

“Danke Gott,” Kurt breathed. “It’s draining”

Jet felt relief cool through her body, chased by the smallest flash of triumph.

Keisuke smirked. “What else can go right?” Three pairs of eyes locked onto him. He shrunk in place “Worth a try,”

Jet felt herself smile momentarily. One little problem solved. The next one had to wait.

“There’s an exocomp on its way to the reactor. We’ll know what to do next, once we see exactly what’s happened”

All three in the room seemed to agree with that. So long as they thought she knew what she was doing.

That bought her time to figure it out. Time to get the station council together and bring them up to speed. Time not to rush in and get someone - or everyone - killed.

In truth, in the moment with time and space to actually think, all she could think about, is what people would say when they found out.



-----

I love the smell of rotaries in the morning. You know one time, I got to work early, before the rush hour. I walked through the empty carpark, I didn't see one bloody Prius or Golf. And that smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole carpark, smelled like.... ....speed.

One day they're going to ban them.
Reply
RE: [Situation Vacant] Reactor Chief Engineer
#14
I don't know enough of Sailor Moon to come up with a viable awards structure - people are welcome to change them. And yes, that was my intention for Anika.


------

To the Council for Chivalry, Heraldry and Commemoration, I, Jet Jaguar, Baron Frigga, do make the following recommendations for awards, pursuant to the reactor accident of May 7th, 2025

-----

A mechanical failure with a fusion reactor created the potential for a disaster unparalleled in the history of civilisation in space. Had this failure achieved its full gravity, it is likely all of those who made Frigga their home would have perished in the most grotesque and lingering manner.

The reactor exploded, caught fire, and threatened to melt through into the water tanks below the core. Had this occurred, the resulting explosive reaction would have ruptured any containment around the core, and likely resulted in the damage or destruction of the remaining reactors.

The release of radiation to the station environment would have been catastrophic.

All of those on Frigga met this challenge without panic, and with unparalleled courage and determination. Regardless of the cause of the accident, or where the official blame will lie, every single member of the station's company should be applauded for their stoicism, their courage, and their willingness to do what was necessary to prevent a new Chernobyl.

Frigga was saved - not by singular heroes, or supermen or amazons - but by people who go to work every day and who had a job to do. Frigga was saved by its Engineers, Miners and Firefighters. They met a challenge far beyond their normal workday. They met a hazard - one utterly invisible, but intensely lethal in the most grotesque of manners

Frigga was saved by those people who go to work every day in Fenspace, without anyone realising they exist. Frigga was saved by the people Fenspace takes for granted.

The reactor operators continuously tried to save the reactor, worked to contain the damage and once the true gravity of the threat became apparent, acted swiftly to secure and safe all three remaining reactors. The station’s engineers designed and built a system of pipework to safely drain the coolant tanks to a safe storage location. The station’s miners dug a tunnel under a burning reactor which they knew could have exploded at any moment. They risked digging through into water tanks filled with intensely radioactive, boiling hot coolant to create a path to drain the tanks safely. The station’s firefighters manned and operated their appliances throughout the crisis, maintaining and fuelling their pumps until the cooling tanks were safely drained.

Subsequently, it was discovered that the ruins of the reactor had melted down into the drained .coolant tanks, and subsequently into the cut tunnel.

These are the people who fought Godzilla and won.

On some level, the reactor will contribute to the deaths of us all. Therefore, the memorial wall built on the main concourse will be engraved with the name of all 527 people who were on Frigga at the time of the explosion, regardless of their participation in the subsequent mitigation.

----

The unusual size of the station, and the impossibility of a centralised fire defense system requires the maintenance of a watch of trained fire fighters. Frigga is unique amongst settlements in the Crystal Millenium in that a Fire Brigade is maintained.

Members of 6th Platoon, Sailor’s Armed Militia Frigga, form the Frigga Volunteer Fire Brigade.

These members met the fire in Reactor Four with courage, and a willingness to expose themselves to the unseen dangers of radiation in order to prevent the catastrophic release of radioactivity into the station as a whole. Members of the fire brigade continuously monitored their vehicles and equipment of the course of 24 hours, consciously exposing themselves to gamma radiation fields in excess of a thousand Roentgen per hour.

Members of the fire brigade received personal doses in excess of the 25 Rem limit, refuelling their fire engines, repairing leaks in pump lines , monitoring water level in the bubbler tanks and suppressing hotspots in the dividing wall between reactors 3 and 4.

I therefore collectively nominate 6th Platoon, Sailors Armed Miltia Frigga, for Lunar Banner, First Order.

Firefighters to be individually nominated for the Jupiter Tiara of Courage.

----

The explosion of the reactor was of such force that the internal containment wall partially collapsed, and the external containment wall was damaged. This wall separated the station main landing bay from the reactor turbine hall.

It was necessary to shore the damaged wall up to prevent a catastrophic release of radiation. Had this wall collapsed, dust and smoke from the burning reactor would have filled the main landing bay and prevented any defence against further explosion.

This task was performed by volunteers from Frigga Third-shift engineering team. These volunteers knowingly worked in conditions were severe exposure to radiation was a possibility and willingly accepted doses from radioactive smoke and dust particles exceeding the 25 REM limit

I therefore nominate Bao Chang, Maria Green, Leonid Konavalov, Lita Balinese, Anna Freecat and Awhina McKintyre for the Mercury Tiara

---

To drain the tanks beneath reactor 4, it was necessary to cut a tunnel from the sump beneath the reactor 3 turbine hall.

This crew volunteered to operate a blast-driller to cut a hundred meter tunnel. This was done in twelve hours - at great risk to the tunnellers.

This crew faced a risk from the explosive methods of tunnelling employed, and the speed of tunnelling required. There was an ever present risk of a further explosion of the reactor if the core melt reached the water tanks which would be instantly lethal to all involved. There was a risk that the accelerated tunnelling method would trigger a collapse of the water tanks above, flooding the excavation with boiling, radioactive water

I therefore nominate, Steiner Amundsen, Kira Shorttail, Nerima Tabby, Minnie-May Hopkins, Aria Stormwater, Timothy Camry, Ekua Obiakolem, Jake Applebee and Mirai Yashima for the award of the Jupiter Tiara of Courage

---

Shortly after the explosion, it became clear that damaged had occurred to a bulkhead wall separating the Reactor 4 turbine hall, from the public landing bay.

Lun personally volunteered to inspect damage to a bulkhead wall, understanding that damage to this wall may well result in potentially lethal exposure to radioactivity to anyone in its vicinity.

Lun discovered damage to the wall, and took measurements of the activity of smoke, and on reading them as ‘off-scale high’ on her dosimeter, withdrew to safety.

After reporting back on the precarious condition of this wall and the extent of the damage, Lun took it on her own initiative to organise the crew of the spacecraft bearing her name and made this spacecraft ready to sail within one hour.

This enabled the safe evacuation of all 53 children from the station.

I therefore nominate Lun Alekseeva for consideration for the Mercury Tiara

----

6 months after the accident,on November 15th, 2025, a holding tank fractured, causing a leak of water contaminated by reactor debris. This debris was highly radioactive and triggered an alarm

Marco Ricci investigated the alarm, believing it to be caused by a failed sensor. In the process, Marco Ricci suffered fatal radiation exposure.

The resulting leak threatened to contaminate the entire station.

The leak was sealed by twenty people, who worked in relays, exposing themselves to pooled water contaminated with reactor debris. Radiation fields exceeded one thousand Roentgen per hour. The leak was sealed and the flooded compartment was pumped dry.

Therefore I nominate the following;

Steinar Amundsen
Moserah Andreyevna
Yuri Arisagawa
Iridia Blackwood
Bao Chang
Leroy Fireman
Anna Freecat
Maria Green
Kim Kashira
Nanami Kiryuu
Hans Krömeier
Awhina McIntyre
Guy Montag
Lea Morningstar
Mike Reilly
Marco Ricci
Nichola Rickets
Kira Shorttail
Nermia Tabby
Mitsuru Tsuwabuki
Mirai Yashima

For consideration for the Order Of Endymion the Protector

All of those involved experienced varying symtoms of acute radiation illness. All have recovered. Long term consequences are not known. Marco Ricci has survived due to the use of full-body cybernetic conversion, but is still subject to life-limiting restrictions.

----

After destruction of the reactor, two attempts were made to survey the damaged reactor with exocomps. Both of these failed due to radiation. Frigga Volunteer Fire Brigade were instructed to breach the reactor compartment and report back on conditions in the reactor chamber.

Firefighter Kim Hyung-Jung operated the hydraulic ram which force open the reactor chamber door. The ram forced the door open, permitting intensely radioactive smoke and dust to exit the reactor compartment. This smoke carried highly radioactive hot particles, including fragments of the reactor core structure itself. The radiation field was of such intensity that it caused the personal warning devices of all those present to activate within seconds.

Kim pushed the ram off the doorway, permitting it to slam closed again, sealing the chamber. In the process, Kim received a radiation exposure in excess of 150 Rem, suffered from acute radiation syndrome, and experienced beta burns to his hand and arm. Kim's quick thinking in sealing the door saved his comrades from serious radiation injuries. By sealing the door, Kim enabled us to fight the catastrophe without also having to fight intense radiation from the resulting smoke and hot particles.

Kim's actions greatly limited the exposure to radiation of the people of Frigga and likely saved the lives of those mitigating the accident.

It is not known what long term effects Kim will suffer as a result of his exposure.

Therefore I nominate Kim Hyung-Jung for consideration for the Order Of Endymion the Protector

-----

After the incident in Reactor four, it was necessary to determine what exactly had happened to the core itself - whether the core was intact, or whether it had been destroyed.

Without this information, it would not have been possible to make an informed decision on the correct course of action to defend against the consequences of the accident.

Station computer operator Anika Daini volunteered to pilot a specially modified motoroid into a radiation field exceeding 10,000 roentgen per hour to determine the extent of damage to Frigga reactor four. Anika had been built with radiation shielding. It could not be known what the effects of such high radiation fields would be on her cybernetic nature. Radiation had already destroyed two unshielded exocomps.

At great personal risk, she surveyed the damage to the core, determined that it was the reactor itself that was burning, and revealed the hazard created by the burning reactor and the coolant water tanks. This survey of the damaged reactor allowed for a coordinated plan to be developed to save Frigga and prevent a further, disastrous explosion.

It is not known what long term damage or lasting effects Anika has suffered due to her exposure to intense radiation fields.

Therefore, I would humbly ask that Anika be nominated for consideration for the Eternal Order of the Celestial Star

-----

The delay in nominations was my own and is not something the nominated were responsible for. The decision to keep the accident secret was mine alone. My greatest fear was that those who’d faced down the nemesis of radiation, would instead be cursed as the ones who created the accident in the first place.

This has proved to be true, from several quarters.

What was faced on Frigga was unique in the history of Fenspace. It was, almost unique in the history of mankind.

Frigga was saved.

Give under my Official Signature
30th April, 2026.
Baron Frigga
Jet Jaguar.

I love the smell of rotaries in the morning. You know one time, I got to work early, before the rush hour. I walked through the empty carpark, I didn't see one bloody Prius or Golf. And that smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole carpark, smelled like.... ....speed.

One day they're going to ban them.
Reply
RE: [Situation Vacant] Reactor Chief Engineer
#15
(01-26-2020, 03:30 PM)Dartz Wrote: I don't know enough of Sailor Moon to come up with a viable awards structure - people are welcome to change them. And yes, that was my intention for Anika.

We don't have very many awards and honours defined for the Crystal Millennium, but there is one that Jet would never consider recommending. There is somebody else who would make the recommendation, however...



I petition Her Majesty, Serenity II, to grant a singular boon.

The details of the actions taken by many people at Frigga on 7 May 2025, as revealed by Baron Frigga in her recent petition to the committees responsible for honours and confirmed by both myself and Kohran Li, make clear that one of the people involved in mitigating the disaster went far above and beyond the call of duty. Anika Daini had every reason to believe that the actions she volunteered to take would cause her to suffer a lethal dose of radiation, despite her personal shielding and protective armour. The actions that she carried out despite that belief were key to the successful containment of what otherwise would have been a disaster that would have killed every person on Frigga and left the surrounding space unapproachable for decades if not centuries.

I humbly request that Her Majesty grant the most honoured and respected title that is in her perview to award, and name Anika Daini to be Sailor Frigga.

Your humble servant,
Yayoi Fujisawa, Sailor Stellvia
14 May 2026
--
Rob Kelk

In these uncertain times, it's OK not to be OK. Don't be afraid to ask somebody for help.
Reply
RE: [Situation Vacant] Reactor Chief Engineer
#16
... Have to agree with that, if the second of Murphy Murph has any weight in the Silver Millenium
Hear that thunder rolling till it seems to rock the sky?
Thats' every ship in Grayson's Navy taking up the cry!
NO QUARTER!

No Quarter by Echo's Children
Reply
RE: [Situation Vacant] Reactor Chief Engineer
#17
And Yayoi's doing this knowing that, if it happens, Anika will outrank her. Yayoi's "only" a Station Senshi; Anika would be an Asteroid Senshi. (The only rank higher is Planetary Senshi, and there's only nine of those total, with none of the positions filled.)

Granted, this is like arguing over who outranks whom in the Order of the Garter, but still.
--
Rob Kelk

In these uncertain times, it's OK not to be OK. Don't be afraid to ask somebody for help.
Reply
RE: [Situation Vacant] Reactor Chief Engineer
#18
(01-28-2020, 09:02 PM)robkelk Wrote: And Yayoi's doing this knowing that, if it happens, Anika will outrank her. 

yet, in a very real way, that sort of thing defines the Senshi.  That selfless devotion to the cause, regardless of power or station.  To do what is right because it is what Serenity would do.
Hear that thunder rolling till it seems to rock the sky?
Thats' every ship in Grayson's Navy taking up the cry!
NO QUARTER!

No Quarter by Echo's Children
Reply
RE: [Situation Vacant] Reactor Chief Engineer
#19
---I'm still trying to figure out Anika's reaction to that.

I tried to make a scene together with Jet, Kohran and Eddie - but it's bloody hard. Anyway, something a little bit different.

-------

Five waited in the corridor, each wearing the same anonymous disposable white overalls.

The door opened. Beyond it, the bright lights, timber wall panelling and floral patterned linoleum of the de-aerator corridor gave way to gloom and concrete, flaking Soviet-era paint transforming the corridor into something ominous and entirely unnatural.

The scent of damp concrete, mould and metal drifted on a cold breath from within.

A handheld meter alarm, followed by a second, then a third within a heartbeat

“What does the dosimeter say?” asked the tallest of the three.

“3.6 Roentgen,” said the second, a goofy grin plastered across their face. Her blond hair spilled from under the square white cap.

“3.6, Not Great, Not Terrible,” the third answered, before taking a photograph of his gamma-scout with his phone. All three giggled like schoolchildren, as if nobody’d ever shared an instagram post of a panicking gamma-scout at Chernobyl before.

‘Oh for fuck’s sake, thought Serhiy Kobrin. If the meters read anything, it was in microsieverts. Harmless for a short while. They wouldn’t allow tourists anywhere dangerous.

“Tourists,” he huffed in his own language

“They bring good money,” said Khem Starodumov - official plant tour-guide.”Especially with the anniversary.”

Serhiy raised his head in grudging agreement.

“Walk straight. Walk quickly. Do not touch the walls. We are approaching the control room of reactor four. Do not touch consoles or equipment. Photographs only. Everything is contaminated. If you are contaminated you will not be permitted to leave.”

Without being decontaminated, he didn’t say.. .

“I was on a Discovery Channel film crew twenty years ago. I touched a switch. Now I am a tour guide,” added Khem with a smile.

One wall of the original corridor had been damaged by the blast. A new one had been built along with the shelter object, guiding the small group through a turnstile, a radiation checkpoint, another doorway, and then into the new corridor, built alongside the run of the collapsed de-aerator corridor.

Even after ten years, the layout felt new to Serhiy - just that little bit wrong and unfamiliar compared to how he’d learned it..White LED light’s from the tourist’s phones lit the corridor ahead, throwing hard black shadows onto the walls. Steel pipes and cableways plunged into the darkness, inert and empty for four decades.

A new steel door stood where the Shift Supervisor’s desk had once been. The wall had been added to support the demolition of the shelter object.

Prior to that, the room had lay in state for twenty years - untouched like the city beyond the station.

Serhiy almost found himself wishing it’d remain that way. A monument to the moment a routine Saturday morning test became a life-long nightmare.

He watched the visitors move through the room from the doorway, making sure they disturbed nothing. Footsteps took a space beside him.

“A little bird told me you’re retiring,” said Khem, with a faint smirk on his lips.

“From Chernobyl,” Serhiy confirmed with a single nod. “Someone sent me a job specification.”

“Hmmm…” The silence begged for more information.

“A station blew a reactor last year. They’re replacing it with a fission reactor - an RBMK derivative. Which means someone experienced has to train them how to operate it.”

“Why would they build an RBMK?” Khem asked. He might’ve asked why they bothered sacrificing a living child on an altar for the look for shock on his face.

“God only knows. But it’ll pay better than this…”

Raised voices interrupted their quiet conversation, as the tourists played their roles.

“You’re delusional. RBMK reactors don’t explode.”

“Take him to the infirmary.”

Serhiy drew down a deep breath, watching them re-enact a re-enactment. “...I’ve no reason to stay here. And I’ll take any chance to run a reactor once more, rather than another tour group.”

“Ah…” said Khem, understanding everything.

And of course, they touched things. They snooped around the room, gamma-scouting for the hottest of hotspots - perhaps the tiniest mote of reactor fuel or graphite that’d settled in a crack to decay peacefully for four decades.

They seemed to revel in a danger long since passed.

Their flight to Ukraine would’ve registered a higher rating on their chirping counters, if they’d bothered to look.

His eyes closed for a moment. Somehow, he could still taste metal.

“Excuse me, Can I ask a question.”

She stood taller than him, and far thinner. A dustmask hid her face, but her brown eyes stared down at him in a way that made his skin crawl - as if maybe she thought he was nothing more than a tour guide - something beneath the contempt of one able to afford the tour. It rose up his back, crawling with a thousand legs, mingling with the taste of bile on his lips.

He didn’t feel like holding back.

“I was a trainee operator in reactor room three. Yes, I was on duty. And I knew everyone in this room. Proskuryarkov and Kudryatsev were my friends, and I spent four months in Hospital Number Six because the ventilators were not switched off and I finished my shift in three. A year later they restarted the reactor, and here I am still. Is there anything else you would like to know?”

She blinked. For a moment he thought, maybe she got the point. Even behind the mask, he could see her scowl.

“We paid to be here you should treat your customers better - we have ‘gram accounts you know…I’ve over a thousand followers”

And then he understood. To her, the entire was a TV show - a documentary - a farway thing. Chernobyl was a word from a foreign country that’d become the latest Dark Tourist hit - another place where you could purchase your own personal fragment of a tragedy.

“I can’t do this any more,” he said, in his own language.

---

I love the smell of rotaries in the morning. You know one time, I got to work early, before the rush hour. I walked through the empty carpark, I didn't see one bloody Prius or Golf. And that smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole carpark, smelled like.... ....speed.

One day they're going to ban them.
Reply
RE: [Situation Vacant] Reactor Chief Engineer
#20
The booth had been designed to fit an average human - it hadn’t been designed to fit anything like Jet Jaguar. Even with her body mostly hidden by a fur-collared silver cloak, she still sat awkwardly, with her legs shifted to one side to block the leather bench beside her.

Only a glimpse of her feet revealed her true nature to anyone who could see her. Anyone who might care to look, had their eyes focused instead on the stage far below as the show built to its climax

Jet took the opportuning to slip a plastic document case out from under the table, placing the tube on the top of the table, between a glimmering candle and Kohran Li. A small holographic projector sat beside it, waiting for the third member of the group.

“Those’re the draft designs,” she said.

Kohran Li placed a gloved hand on the case, pulling it towards her.

“You printed them?”

Jet nodded. Kohran flipped the lid open, withdrawing a roll of white paper a few centimetres, before sliding it back in.

“Ye’re puttin’ Godzilla in a can…”

“It’ll work,” said Jet, turning her eyes away for a moment

“I ain’t comfortable with things that can run on a positive feedback loop.” Kohran added.        “Especially things that’ll sterilise entire plantoids.”

“I know,” said Jet, her mind clearly not entirely in the room.

“Do you understand what the consequences of this thing getting out will be?”

“I do,” said Jet. In a moment, the look on her face changed and Kohran realised she’d been in the room the entire time. “I know how many people the last accident killed. I just don’t know who they are yet.”

“You’re not filling me with much confidence.”

“Everything else will either take too long, put up too many red-flags - or be even more dangerous.”

Jet didn’t read like a madgirl, locked into the one course that triggered her blue hair fascinations.  Resigned, was the word that came to Kohran’s mind. Either unable, or afraid to think of another option.

A failure of imagination, was what came to mind.

A small light on the comm-link on the table flashed red once, twice and then a third time. A moment later, a hologram shimmered to life above it - an image a dark sphere. Electric circuits flickered in a gridded pattern across its surface, all coalescing at a single staring red monoeye.

“Well hi everybody, I didn’t think you’d be here so early.”

“I’ve never been to this sort of show,” said Jet, showing a flash of a smile. Kohran realised it’d been the first time she’d seen her smile since she arrived. “I’d some time to spare.”

“So what’s the verdict?” Kohran asked.

The sphere revolved, its mono-eye glancing at each of the pair in turn.

“I have run multiple simulations - to account for all combinations of production tolerance and fuel loading scenarios,” Eddie said.”I’m sorry to say, there is a larger delay in stabilising action of the temperature coefficients than the Soviet designers thought.”

“How bad?” If the hologram had had a throat, Jet would’ve jumped down it.

Eddie’s monoeye turned to face her. “How much of a delay, depends on the reactor power, reactivity margin, coolant flowrate, quality of the fuel and the thermal interface between channel and core stack. Using a nanotube-reinforced graphene foam to provide a thermal interface between the zircalloy technical channels and the diamond lattice does significantly reduce the time constant for power correction.”

So, not that bad? An expression of hope entered Jet’s face.

“In some edge cases, there remains a potential for the positive void coefficient to trigger an explosive power increase before it is damped by the negative temperature coefficient.”

“Damn,” Jet breathed, deflating into the chair. “I was afraid you’d say that.”

For a moment, she looked just like a child being told she couldn’t play with her favourite toy

“Plan C?” suggested Kohran.

“I have something in mind,” answered Eddie.  “I am still trying to solve the proliferation issue in an elegant manner.”     

It seemed to bug him that it’d taken more than a moment’s thought to come up with something. The tracings on the hologram began to glow as he dedicated more and more of himself to simulating different designs.

“Maybe the issue’s one of control,” suggested Jet. Her blues eyes moved between the pair, looking for support.

“AI systems,” Kohran added quickly, getting a little more comfortable with the idea of a system that couldn’t be corrupted by someone.

“A mind with well directed training would effectively eliminate the risk.” Eddie confirmed.          “With a second system running a continuous look-ahead simulation of all possible reactor states from current. These can be fed back to the matrix to allow the mind to trial different solutions.”

Easy when you knew how.

“What kind of mind?” Asked Jet. Her face darkened, a visible discomfort filling her armour. Of course she’d feel more uncomfortable with a mind controlling a system, than with a system that could sterilise an asteroid if it malfunctioned. .

“Beta-class, with an Alpha specialisation would at least would be sufficient.” Eddie assured her.            “I understand, of course, how you would feel about it, considering your brother, which is why I dismissed the option.”

And he samed most relieved that it was back on the table.

“You’re assuming things will go as smoothly on Frigga, as they would on the Forge.” Jet answered. “That doesn’t happen. Especially with handwavium.”

Her ice blue eyes dared Kohran, or Eddie, to disagree. Kohran sensed something beyond a punk’s natural spite in her voice - a rippling undercurrent of unease.

“I don’t see why not,” Eddie answered calmly.

“This is probably the biggest engineering project in space. The amount of work needed to do it is -” she stopped to search for the right word, “- immense -  and it all has to be done right, on time, on schedule and be near perfect.”  Jet took a breath “The people who’ve to do it have spent the last year being bitched at by grandstanding BNF’s on Venus whenever something didn’t go right. And that was before the reactor blew.”

Kohran heard a real anger cutting in her voice, the kind that - in the moment - reminded her of so many Boskone self justifications - the kind that seemed amazed nobody could sympathise with their petty reasons for evil.

“And then the whole universe took the chance to gloat about the idiots who blew up a reactor, rather than cheer the heroes who stopped an accident from becoming a disaster.”

“Are we talking about the people on Frigga, or you, Jet?”

The sharp look the cyber threw her direction gave Kohran her answer.  Yes.

“All that negativity is going to poison any attempts to create any handwaved solution.” The cyber’s voice remained even.“You handwave afraid that it’ll fail, and what’ll happen?”

“I find your lack of faith disturbing.”

Kohran suspected Eddie meant it as a joke. His deadpan delivery dropped it flat on the table.

“People tell me we live in a world were technology and handwavium will solve all our human problems,” said Jet. “More and more it feels like I live in a world where they won’t.”

“This is not a project that can be completed by feelings and opinions.” His voice took on a harder edge - something had irked him

“Which is why I want to keep the wave out of it,” Jet shot back.

Kohran had the sudden realisation that a shouting match between a cyborg and an AI would probably draw a little too much attention in the middle of a show.

“You really think handwavin’ this thang’ll be a disaster?”, she asked, keeping her voice as calm as she could. Her own natural accent twanged through despite herself.

Jet’s eyes locked with hers.

“Do yeh want to run the risk of a Paul Ritter living in the computer system having direct control over this thing?”

Kohran saw a pure, thoughtless terror flash across her face, right from the depths of the soul.

“That won’t happen.” Eddie reassured, aghast that anyone could possibly think otherwise.  “We are the best at this.” 

Kohran felt the air begin to simmer. Of course Eddie’s reassurances had struck a sour note.

“We could look at the helium cooled designs again.” she said - trying to change the subject.   “They have none of the void coefficient issues, the neutron spectrum is ideal and the temperature is suitable for power generation.”

“Didn’t we have material problems with the alloys required?”

“I have solved all the problems.” Eddie answered with the same, cheerful confidence. “The required high-temperature alloys can be made.”

“Do you honestly think we can implement that? In the time we have.”

Jet didn’t even give it a thought. She just assumed it’d be completely beyond her capability. 

“The Forge can.”

Of course it could. Eddie stated a fact. Jet took it as an insult. Eddie wasn’t stuck with her. Kohran was.

“And we’re back to shit that’ll work on the Forge but won’t work on Frigga.” Jet cut back. “You’re forgetting the people element. The one’s who’ve to run it, repair it and live with it”

Kohran drew on deep breath.

“We can argue over this for another six months and still be in the same place.” she said, trying not to sound like she was scolding a child. “We’ll take a break for a couple of days. I think that’s for the best.”       

Let everyone stop being children. Maybe they’d cool off.

“Agreed,” said the holographic sphere. “Time to reconsider would be helpful”

Jet looked at her, a flash of anger on her face - almost like she’d been betrayed. It died as her conscious mind caught up, a flush of warm embarrassment reddening her cheeks. In a moment, it disappeared in a pursed-lip pout worthy of any teenager who knew they’d done something wrong - and hoped they wouldn’t be called on it.

Kohran, of course, had a sense of diplomacy.

“How’s Mackie doing?”

The question, of course, caught a Jet who’d fully prepared to defend herself, completely off guard. The cyber sat for half a heartbeat as she swallowed the words that had been sitting in her throat.

The edge of her lips tweaked up into the first smile Kohran

“Last I heard - he qualified with the Night Witches..”

Taken aback. Kohran felt herself blink.

“That’s a five year contract.” she said, before her mind caught up. “With an all female unit.”

“His decision,” said Jet, with a smile. “It was either that, or live the next five years under protective isolation.” she took a breath, looking down at the stage below. “He preferred freedom.”

Protective isolation. Because Mackie knew the secret. Because someone’d already tried to kidnap him for it.  Because, as far as the universe knew, whatever secrets he might’ve had died when his shuttle hit the moon.

Because Frigga was far too open a place.

“There’re very few places that can do that sort of protection.,” said Kohran. “Didn’t A.C. offer?”

She assumed that’d be the poor boy’s dream assignment - working somewhere beyond the monomolecular edge of modern technology.

“She would’ve killed him after a week,” said Jet. wearing a wry smirk. “Or worse,”

Kohran felt a shudder run up her spin. “He can get a bit much,”

“He’s my brother and I love him, but Jesus” she chuckled, wearing a rueful grin “I wished he’d stop perving on me and look what happened.” She knocked a knuckle on her ceramic breast.  “He wished to look at a woman’s body anytime he wanted, and look what happened.”

Of course, none of that ever happened. Kohran looked at her a moment, feeling just that bit uncomfortable.

“Be careful what you wish for,” she said.. “Now he must be getting some of that attention himself.”

“A little,” said Jet, settling back into her chair. “A lot of men were intimidated by that body, and it is a women’s unit he’s with,”       

“That won’t stop him from getting attention, you know”

“He’ll have to get used to it, I guess,” said Jet. A glimmer shone inside her eyes. Her body relaxed.

Kohran settled herself back into her chair - recrossing her legs. Her hand settled on the plastic case of the reactor plans. Below them, the show continued.

In moments, Jet was lost in the lightshow.

Kohran decided to wait until the intermission, at least. It’d been a while since she’d watched her own show. It was the mark of a good Engineer to eat their own dogfood from time to time, and Makoto gave the Revue an entirely different colour of sparkle.

It’d be a shame to interrupt.

The auditorium moved to the beat of the show. Jet’s finger tapped out the rhythm on the glass surface of the table.

Kohran watched her get lost in the music.

Something about that felt wrong - like Grits and Maple syrup. It just didn’t fit the cyberpunk image, did it?

Kohran found herself musing on that, on how pigeonholed so many people could become, once their schtick had been decided. Few ever transcended what people expected of them.

AI’s expanded beyond their base image. Humans tended to contract towards their public image - until they became little else.

The thought lingered in her mind until the lights came up for the mid-show intermission. The crowd below shuffled out to stretch their legs, relieve the pressures of sitting for an hour at a time and replenish their glow sticks.

“That was good,” said Jet, after a moment. She settled back into the booth as much as her body allowed her to. For the first time, Kohran saw a real light in her eyes, a little spark of happiness.

“I can’t believe you’ve never seen one of these shows.”

“Never had the chance,” Jet answered. Naturally.

Kohran placed her hand on the case. Passions had cooled. No better time than now to ask the question
             
“Can you tell me Why’re you so dead set on this?” she said. “You really slammed the door on Eddie there. He was just trying to help.” 

Jet looked at the plans, then at her

“Because this will work,” she answered. “It’s the best chance of working. With the fewest questions.”

“You know the risks?”

Jet gave a slow nod.

“A reactor explosion is a problem. An atomic explosion is a nightmare.” she said. “The wave has given me too many nightmares.I don’t want to risk another one.”

She meant it too. Kohran could see the fear in her face, a nip of panic that ran up her spine and widened her eyes. Something that could fester, given half the chance. The fear that always ended in suffering.

“Maybe you don’t need to do this.”

Her lips stiffened. “I do.”       

Had Jet misunderstood?

“It is okay to step back and let someone else carry the torch. You’re not the only one who can make this project work.”

Kohran wore an earnest smile, hoping Jet’d agree. A chance to bow out without shame - to be something else for a while.

Jet looked at her again, then down at the reactor plans. “It’d be out of character for A.C.to do something like this - she comes up with the clever solutions. It’s far too close to ground zero to be done by anyone on Atalante  and I don’t think Stellvia would be crazy enough to fund this - or have a need for that much power. The conspiracy only works on Frigga.”     

Jet took a moment, before giving a thin smile.

“Thanks though.”

Of course, it all seemed logical to her, fear could make it seem logical. Mixed with a little pride and the comfort of an already solved problem. Everything from the basic principles of how it worked, to the worst possible failures - and their causes.

And even that, was a known quantity. In the real world, and in Fenspace. There was comfort in the known. Kohran understood that, at least. Better the devil you know, no matter how dangerous the devil.

Kohran's eyes fell to the case with the plans.

“Not building a bomb, is so much harder than building one.”   

----------------


That only took 6 months. Apologies for the roughness.

Side note:  Jet is wearing Quattro's Silver Cloak. Mackie joined the Night Witches because I had a really cool idea of a squadron of pilots that tatoo'd themselves with spells and stuff and that's a way to introduce it.

... crickets....?

I love the smell of rotaries in the morning. You know one time, I got to work early, before the rush hour. I walked through the empty carpark, I didn't see one bloody Prius or Golf. And that smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole carpark, smelled like.... ....speed.

One day they're going to ban them.
Reply
RE: [Situation Vacant] Reactor Chief Engineer
#21
(04-26-2020, 07:43 PM)Dartz Wrote: That only took 6 months.

You're making better progress here than I am...

I wasn't sure where you were going with this until you mentioned the conspiracy only working on Frigga. Now I think I have an idea what you're doing... Smile
--
Rob Kelk

In these uncertain times, it's OK not to be OK. Don't be afraid to ask somebody for help.
Reply
RE: [Situation Vacant] Reactor Chief Engineer
#22
" sound like she was scalding a child."

Pretty sure that should be scolding, but the whole thing looks like it's full of hot water if anything goes wrong...

It's a good read so far, and I can see things starting to appear but my visualization is incomplete as yet. Thanks for this and keep going.
-Now available with copious trivia!
Reply
RE: [Situation Vacant] Reactor Chief Engineer
#23
Disciplinary standards differ in the different parts of the world --- ahem. Yes, I'll fix that, thanks.

There was a line I probably should've found a way to work in there:

“The real world isn’t a computer model.”

“And my models are not mere computer models.”

I don't know. It's a matter of different styles.

I love the smell of rotaries in the morning. You know one time, I got to work early, before the rush hour. I walked through the empty carpark, I didn't see one bloody Prius or Golf. And that smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole carpark, smelled like.... ....speed.

One day they're going to ban them.
Reply
RE: [Situation Vacant] Reactor Chief Engineer
#24
Anika killed the account with a single, spiteful button push, and rewarded herself with a bite from a Cherry cheesecake. Another dickhead that seemed to get glee out of cheating on a free non-competitive game.

A hate filled death-threat was answered by a concatenation command to dev/null and another soothing bite from the cherry.

Aces churned on, network traffic and system loads relegated to a single monitor where she could keep an eye on it.

The rest of the room was the domain of the MAGI system itself - a dozen monitors reading out thousands of critical station parameters. One entire wall had been replaced with a wire-frame map of the station itself, showing the location and status of every critical system. .

Everything looked okay.

Anika simply sat and watched as the MAGI system swallowed up thousands of different metrics from across the station - failure rates, parts quantities, work-rates, breakdowns, food supplies, supplier orders, personal orders, delivery schedules, injuries, radiation levels and funnelled them into a thousand ‘recommendations’.

New orders were spat out, shipments were organised and resources allocated. Failures and issues escalated themselves all the way up from the miner at the rockface, through the supervisor, the engineer and up to the station council if necessary.

In a moment she allowed herself to feel a small spark of pride - as one of the principal architects of a true Level 5 system, and likely the only one that didn’t come with a cheerful anime-related personality.

In theory it even worked.

She sat and watched it for a second, daring it to prove her wrong again.

Her job was to keep the channels to the system open, to keep the data moving, to fix the bugs crawling through the system and keep it from getting munged by the wrong bad actors and the right idiots.

Answering the dare, a single alarm sounded, answered by a dozen more as an entire data node fell over. Half-blinded, the system went into full panic, begging for her help.

The failure cascaded from node to node, as data re-routed then overloaded each node in turn - like an avalanch begun by a single snowflake. In moments a dozen more flashed from a safe green, to an angry red. She switched the system to master priority. Scorpy messages from angry residents followed within seconds.

Someone glitched out of a paid KoFen match while they were winning. Two job interviews were interrupted. A CDN for Fenboards toppled moments later. A dozen video streams dropped.

MAGI prioritised every single bit of bandwidth to keep itself fed, then prioritised the critical over itself. Power, Water, Air and nothing else.

Anika fought to keep the network alive. Her fingers raced across keyboards, manually adjusting the tables to route around the damaged areas. Her earpiece buzzed as someone finally found speed-dial for the control room’s extension.

“Yeah, Anika here,” she answered.

All five comm-lines lit up on the console. A dozen other calls were bounced for being too slow.

“My stream just cutout and I’m in the middle of a donation drive,” a voice shrilled in her ear. "Do you know how much money this is costing me? I need my network back.”

“I’m sorry, I’m doing my best.,” Anika pleaded, her mind more focused on the screens in front of her than the drill of a voice piercing her ear.

“Get it done. Do you know who I am?”

“Yes and you’re slowing me down.”

“You people are so rude. I’m going call Jet.”

Be my guest, thought Anika. The line went dead. Five others chirped for her attention. A moment later, comms to the control room were limited to a very specific whitelist. Anika had the space to focus, to get ahead of the cascade and create a sort of firebreak in the network.

She raced from terminal to terminal, setting one running a script while writing up another on the fly. Reams of green text flashed past as the terminal set to work.

She had to get in front of the rot. It had to be stopped before it poisoned the entire network and forced a hard restart. Half her mind had already begun to plan for that eventuality.

She wheeled her chair from console to console, working only by the illumination from the switches and screens. The master display showed nodes turning red across the map as each one timed out.

Her wristwatch buzzed.

“I’m here,”

It carried a request for an RT connection.

Radiotelepathy was more than a sharing of words. In a moment, fully formed ideas could be shared - entire plans and intents. In the time it took a human being to blink, two cybernetic minds could share an entire concept.

After a moment’s discomfort, Anika relented. Her interfaces had been designed for a specific hardwired protocol - RT comms just didn’t feel right run through them, like suddenly being able to see with her fingertips and hear with her eyes.

Jet’s mind made it just a little bit worse. Not quite an AI - her thoughts had an odd colour to them, a slight off-focus haziness. The background Bokeh of her mind carried a strangled sense of frustration.

The plan took less than a second to form. What needed to be done, how to do it, who could do it. Anika got ahead,

Only Jet’s onboard comms had the bandwidth to take care of the next part.

A single command spread through the Exocomp hive, relaying from machine to machine, then answering back through the interface. In the back of her mind, Anika could see each machine flickering to life, acting with one mind.

Nodes flickered and died - being disconnected far faster than the network could compensate. In three seconds, the poisoned sectors had been completely separated from the main network into their own island.

Isolated from the main system, the island died in darkness.

Anika learned its fate as the swithboard exploded with a dozen calls. It blocked her from calling out to the rest of her team.

Idiots, she thought. She blocked all inbounds, then tried everyone in her control group, one after the other, getting dead lines with attempt.

The words came out of her mouth more as a data chirp - a burst of noise far beyond what a human ear could comprehend.

“Anika?”

She released she’d reached Arnaud, from tech division.

“We just dropped two dozen nodes,” she repeated.

“Aw shit.”

“And one of them’s the main transceiver.”

“Aw shit.”

“It started in 42-34, are you near?”

“I’m on the Mezzanine.”

“Damn.”

People could tolerate a power cut, or a fault with the water system, or a few late deliveries - but losing the network would start a revolution in minutes. Her fingers tapped on the console on front of her.

With no other option, she flashed the same

42-34? Jet was a minute away. And getting more irritated by the second.

They’d gone up the chain to complain that their desperate calls weren’t being answered. Memes were going unshared. They were already seconds behind the system on all important news, and losing ground with every passing moment.

A message followed through the station’s All-Call a moment later.

“We’re working on the network issue. Thanks for letting me know.”

Problems on Frigga had a habit of going straight to the top. If only Jet knew - it'd get sorted. Of course, she made it worse by solving them. Anika tapped her finger, watching error messages crawl across screens as process after process tried to access nodes that’d left the network.

Not a problem compared to losing all off-world communications. Everything else had dropped itself to level 2 or level 3 - various levels of local control. The reactors and turbines had their own governors. Water supply would run on pressure. Air supply would run on global, rather than demand. An archipelago of islands, rather than one whole system. It'd keep working, just not integrated.

Anika began to wonder how she’d get them all to resync. A message from Jet interrupted her thought process.

The fucking cunt’s bollocksed.

Thanks to RT comms Anika understood exactly what’d gone wrong from those four words - even if she would’ve preferred more.

A flange on a water line had leaked. A gasket had split. Someone tried to patch it with gobbets of sealant - most of which hadn’t cured right. A slow drip of water had drowned the server beneath. Its death-throes poisoned a node with corrupt data and it all toppled from there.

I’ll fix the bloody thing.

The tone of the message carried far more determination than something that simple needed. Of course she didn’t have to do it. Basic maintenance was beneath the office of Baron Frigga. Things like that were supposed to be delegated.

Anika pinged a quick reminder to Jet.

Jet answered with absolute insistence.

Behind that one concept of insistence hid a pressure cooker of frustration, boiling and whistling, begging for an excuse to pop, mingling with despairing sense that, despite the best efforts of the MAGI system, it still seemed like half of Frigga was being strapped together with duct-tape and twine.

Anika couldn’t help but notice that - despite the best efforts of the Magi - two of the three striplights over her head were missing at least one tube. A dozen KPI’s and metrics assured anyone who cared to look that things were getting better. Breakdowns were getting less frequent. Failures were getting repaired. Even maintenance had begun to catch up.

Things didn’t feel that way.

Already, there were noises on public fora from those who could still dial out.

Anika tried to ignore them, focusing on getting the network back in sync, untangling the mess and rejoining the archipelago of networks into one - without causing a further collapse. It was little different from trying to rebuild a ship’s engine - while it was still running.

She’d done it before.

It just took a little creative editing of some of the live process variables in working memory - nothing too risky.

The phone on her desk warbled once more - begging for her attention. She did her best to ignore it and wait it out.

“Anika?”

Kelly, from the Operations room

“Yeah sorry, I’m busy right now.”

“But two Messengers of Mercury just arrived,” Kelly said, in a conspiratorial tone more suited to a juicy fragment of gossip. “There’s one for you.”

Obviously, Kelly hoped Anika would know why. Kelly could be the first to know - the very first link in the gossip chain.

Anika dashed her hopes.

“Huh?”

There was an audible sigh of disappointment. “You know where Jet is?”

“Somewhere near cabinet 42-34.Why?”

“One for her too.”

Kelly hung up, leaving Anika alone wondering just what the hell she’d done wrong to have a Messenger of Mercury sent for her - Officially messengers of the Court of Venus, they normally carried summonses to a court of inquiry for those suspected of conduct contrary to the principals of Love and Justice.

What could both herself and Jet have been involved in to get summonsed.

Aside from the one big thing that hadn’t really been a thing in years. Technically, the Knight Sabers had been a criminal group of mercenaries. But they’d also been operating under warrant.

Her mind whirled with possibilities - most worse than the previous.

When the knock on the door came, it took her completely by surprise. Her body spasmed in shock.

It opened a moment later. The messenger stepped in.

She found it hard to believe the woman’s uniform had survived the journey all the way out to Frigga in such immaculate condition. Her boots had been polished to a mirror gloss. deeper than space itself. The pleats on her skirt had been crisply pressed, almost rigid. Her Leotard has been bleached a bright snow-white - still freshly pressed and wrinkle-free like she’d only put it on ten minutes prior. Gold braid on her collar shone in the overhead lights. The brasswork on her Tiara had been polished to a lustrous shine. Her blonde hair had been combed bolt-straight, falling down behind her to the small of her back.

Even her makeup looked fresh - tasteful and clean, without being over the top.

Anika wondered how she did it.

“Anika Daini?”, asked.

“Yes?”

“By personal request of Her Majesty Queen Serenity the Second. You are hereby summoned to the Order of the Celestial Star.”

From her satchel, the messenger removed a single envelope, offering it to Anika with both hands. Anika felt herself blinked, her mind stuck in spinlock as she tried to process what exactly that meant. A gold-foil envelope, with the royal seal in golden wax. She held the envelope in her hands, looking down at her own distorted reflection.

She looked so bad, after hours at work.

“Congratulations” said the messenger with a smile, and a deep bow.

Anika sat in her chair, watching her leave. The envelope remained in her hands. It took her far too long to work up the courage to br

Heavy paper, inlaid with gold. The message had been handwritten in meticulous illuminated calligraphy. It took a moment for her to read it.

“Eh…” She read it again to be sure. “Eh?”

There was one other reason a Messenger of Mercury might have to seek someone out. It happened so rarely, she hadn’t even thought it possible.



---

Jet stood, scratching at the belly of an Exocomp,. The machine responded with electronic chirps and burrs, the machine’s manipulators twitching in time with each scratch. Like a giant, hovering puppy. it basked in the attention.

Jet’s own antennae twitched in turn, suggesting more than just a scratch was being shared.

“It’s the last survivor of the first ten we bought.” Jet said, wearing a sad smile. “All the others broke down.”

Anika found herself wondering what sort of news Jet’d received. She still clutched her own envelope in her hand

“I’ve been nominated for Sailor Frigga, Jet.” It burst from her mouth. She held the letter up as proof. It wasn’t a joke, or a prank - there it was in ink and gold. “They nominated me for the reactor. Why’d they come for you?”

There couldn’t be two named Sailors on a settlement, could there. A Sailor Smash, and a Sailor Cute?

Jet looked away for a moment, taking a breath. Obviously not.

“I’ve a date with Judge Skippy. For the same reason.” She kept her smile.“Congratulations Anika, you really deserve this.”

---

I love the smell of rotaries in the morning. You know one time, I got to work early, before the rush hour. I walked through the empty carpark, I didn't see one bloody Prius or Golf. And that smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole carpark, smelled like.... ....speed.

One day they're going to ban them.
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