Andrew Adams Perry was an engineer. He always wanted to be an engineer, but he never really decided what kind of engineer he wanted to be. Because of his indecision, Andy collected engineering degrees the way some people collect stamps. A lot of people never really understood why Andy gave up a six-
The Company pushed Andy to use every talent he had and paid for him to learn whatever it was he didn't know. Even his wife thought he was crazy at first, but the Company had put her to work too. The Company pushed all their employees right to the edge of their abilities and then asked them to grow beyond their limits. In return, the Company tried to make the dreams of their employees come true. In part, that explained why Andy was chief engineer onboard the Galactic Enterprise.
A giant leap in anti-
It worried Andy some knowing that both experimental anti-
Andy stayed up nights trying to figure out a way to make the containment system foolproof. Many a night his wife had to drag him away from work and into bed or he would not have gotten any sleep. Still, it was a problem he had to solve. He didn't want to end up like the power stations on Earth.
Jonathan Taylor Thomas III was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He came from an old southern family with money, lots of money. Everything seemed to come easy for John. In school, he was class president and a straight-
There was the side of John few knew. Anti-
After the basic tour of the upper levels of the ship, John headed for the engineering section. The door opened, and John walked in. The magnets in his shoes held him to the deck. One of the technicians looked up from his control station. “Hey, kid, you don't belong here,” he said. “This is a restricted area...” The technician was about to say something more when the sirens went off.
Everyone in the room shifted into high gear, and John was quickly forgotten. The magnetic field around the anti-
Everyone had forgotten about John. “No wait,” he shouted as he ran over to the containment control station. He slipped into the seat vacated by the technician and began to push buttons. “You've had a power fluctuation to the magnetic field. You need to re-
Andy's hand hovered just above the core eject button. He watched as the kid slowly regained control of the containment field. Eight minutes later the siren quit wailing, and some of the red lights were starting to turn green again. Andy relaxed and walked over to stand behind John and watched as he pushed the last few buttons that turned the rest of the red lights green. “Good work, what's your name son?” he asked.
“John Thomas, sir.”
“Well, John, thank you for saving our butts. You're welcome here anytime,” Andy said.
“You guys need to re-
A broad grin spread across Andy's face. “Only minor distortions well within specs,” he replied.
“The specifications are wrong,” John replied. “Any fluctuations in the field above 1/1000 of a percent are a sign of trouble. The power to your magnets is through the main power grid. That's just asking for trouble. You need to isolate your power input from the main power grid. Up the power input slightly and feed it through a surge suppressor. That should stabilize your magnetic field.” John leaned back in the chair.
“John, if you ever need a job come see me,” Andy said. He turned toward his staff still standing by the door. “Well, let's shut it all down until we can make the suggested improvements to the system,” he said.
Decker was waiting for John at his dorm room door. “You sure know how to stand out in a crowd. That was a nice piece of work saving the ship and all,” he said as he stuck out his hand. “It would have ruined my whole day if I became space dust this morning.”
John took the offered hand and matched the firm grip with one of his own. “Thank you, Captain.”
“No, Jonathan Taylor Thomas III, it is I who thank you,” Decker said. “And, to show our appreciation, I'm having you moved to private staff quarters. Your duty assignment will be in engineering. You'll report to Chief Engineer Perry tomorrow after we get you settled in your new quarters.”
John never expected to have the captain himself help him move. He never expected to be propelled into the thick of things on his first day onboard the Galactic Enterprise. “John, take a seat,” Andy told him as he walked through the door the next day.
“Yes, sir.” John sat down in the nearest vacant chair.
“First, lose that sir crap. You can call me Andy. Next, we are going to go over the entire system. Don't be afraid to make suggestions. This piece of techno crap almost blew us all to hell. I don't want a repeat of yesterday. I read your records and made a few calls last night. You're considered to be one of the top people on the planet when it comes to anti-
“I don't know what to say, sir..., Andy.” John was being propelled into something he always dreamed about. “The main reason for the anti-
“How do you know that?” Andy asked.
“I was on the team the government hired to try and determine just what went wrong,” John replied. “Compared to the other reactor that exploded the blast was a hundred times more powerful. The LA reactor had all kinds of safety systems in place that had to have been overcome manually. Also, there were off-
“I'll speak to the captain about an increase in security,” Andy said. “Anything else?”
“I'll have to go over the technical specifications and then physically inspect the whole system before I can make any real suggestions.”
“That sounds like it will keep you busy for a while,” Andy said.
“When should I start?” John asked.
“Now,” Andy replied with a smile.