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Part of Endeavour: Where Angels Fear To Tread

Like a brick through a window

Shuttlebay, Endeavour NX-06
Monday 16th May 2157
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“Gav, if you touch that speaker one more time I will cut you,” came Shu’s voice from inside one of the shuttlepods in the bay. Her words blended between an Australian and North American accent, like someone trying for the latter but reverting to the former.

For the three other engineers working on the outside of the shuttlepod, the pronouncement had come out of nowhere, though one of them had stepped closer to a rolling tool chest, where on top of it was a portable speaker that was cheerfully blasting out the play by play of a rugby game. The chest had been parked by one of the shuttlepod’s open doors, the speaker aimed more to direct in through the open hatch, but it could still be heard happily throughout the bay.

Shuttlepod 1 had transformed from its usual boxy, vaguely aerodynamic contours, for a brick with engines that is, to an actual brick with engines. It would still outperform anything pre-WW3 in an atmosphere, but that was by sheer power and inertial compensators allowing for stupid gee-loads on craft and passengers. This wasn’t elegant and had been made less so by the additional sensor packages that had been strapped to the vessel’s exterior.

There wasn’t much this shuttle couldn’t see now, as long as it was flying under twenty kilometers above the surface. In other words, much, much closer to the surface than Endeavour herself could get.

“Aye ma’am, wouldn’t think of it,” said one of the engineers as he finished approaching the tool chest to put what was in his hands back and grab another couple. “Besides, now the Ferns are back in the lead I’m interested again.”

“Amen to that,” Shu announced, followed shortly by what sounded like something shorting, a few thuds of dropped tools and then a series of expletives before anyone could ask if she was okay. “Dammit to hell! Susie, we’re gonna need another TRX-18 from stores.”

“Again?” a blonde petty officer said as she downed tools and leaned inside the shuttlepod to confirm her boss’ request, then sighed. “I’m telling you, ma’am, we’re gonna need to step down voltage from all the pallets before they hit the TRX or we’ll just cook another.”

“I’m big enough to know when I’m wrong,” Shu admitted as she climbed out, handing over the avionics component, no bigger than a toaster, to the other woman. “Get this down to Engineering as well, tell George it needs a refurb, then grab a spare and whatever you think we need to make this work.”

“Aye.” And with that PO3 Susie Thompson was on her way, pausing just briefly at the bay door to let Ensign de Sousa step through with a respectful ‘Ma’am’ before disappearing into the ship.

“Take fifteen,” Shu said to the other two engineers who most certainly didn’t need to be told twice. They both opted to clear the area around the shuttle and the officers, opting to sit against a wall with some sandwiches and water, talking quietly amongst themselves. As for herself, she reached out to quieten the rugby game just as the announcer was exclaiming another try for the Ferns, then sat herself down on the lower rim of the starboard hatch.

She’d opted for rolling the top half of her jumpsuit around her waist, working in the confines of the pod with a collection of electrical equipment doing a passable job as space-heaters in there. And she was herself suffering for it, likely why she was letting her team take a break – so she could have one too.

“Ensign,” Shu finally said, a smile on her face. “What the heck did your parents feed you?”

Deneva subconsciously began to tug at her sleeves and adjust her uniform, but the smile she returned to Shu was entirely earnest. “Only the finest reconstituted cuisine Earth has to offer. To be fair, sometimes it did taste a bit like fertilizer.”

She approached Shu and the shuttlepod more closely, bending slightly at the waist to get a better look at the attached equipment. “Wow. This looks…”

Her brows twisted as she ran all the words she wanted to say through the equation of ‘don’t insult the engineers’ hard work or denigrate your own flying skills’. Eventually she crossed her arms over her chest and settled on: “This looks like a fun challenge.”

“It’s a brick and I’ve made it worse, you can say it.” Shu half laughed as she stood up to clear the hatch and found herself once more looking up at Deneva. And up. And up…

The grin on her face was mischievous, reaching to her eyes, before she shook it away. “You’ll be relying more on the antigravs and engines than those pathetic flight surfaces,” Shu said, pointing at the stubby wings with her chin briefly. “But I doubt they’ll have anything that’ll threaten you. If you get low enough they might damage a sensor pallet, but think of them as sciencey ablative armour.”

“Ha!” Deneva slapped her thigh with her PADD. “‘Sciencey ablative armour’, I love it. Well,” she said, tapping the PADD with her finger, “They’re an early industrial society with ballistics, so I only have to stay out of, what, cannonball range? I’ve never flown a brick through a troposphere before, but I think I’ll be able to get pretty low without denting my armour, knock-on-wood.” 

She punctuated her sentence by rapping her knuckles against her head.

“Keep above three or four kilometres and you should be golden,” Shu confirmed. “And if you do get shot out, just gun it. Everyone loves a sonic boom.”

The engineer then indicated for Deneva to take a peek inside the shuttlepod at the slight modifications inside. “No changes to flight or engine controls, but we’ve thrown in another monitor for whoever is managing the sensors and an extra comm set to relay the raw data back to the ship in real-time. Camera resolution might call for a couple of low passes to get a look at the locals if Endeavour can’t do it from orbit with all those fancy telescopes we’ve got onboard.”

“Hmm!” Deneva’s smile broadened. “Well, if I have to hit Mach One in the atmosphere or make any low passes for the sake of the greater mission, then I’ll begrudgingly do so. But I’m just a little disappointed that I’ll be too busy flying to get a proper look at the locals with my own eyes. This Amazon society has definitely piqued my curiosity.”

“You’ll be way too high to see anything anyway,” Shu countered. “But yah, colour me interested too. Less so being shot at again though.”

She then climbed into the pod and set herself down at the engineer’s station. “While I got you here, want to sit yourself down and help me run through a quick system test? Make sure I didn’t cross any wires when I was wiring in the new sensors. And once done, lunch?” Shu asked. “Susie is a way better electrician than I am and I trust my team to finish the rest.”

“I could eat,” Deneva agreed. She followed Shu into the pod and carefully folded herself into the pilot’s seat, then glanced over her shoulder and smirked. “As long as neither one of us electrocutes ourselves while we’re flipping these switches, right?”