By Robert Lynch
Yellow smoke belched from the left engine. Any smoke is bad smoke, but yellow smoke is a very bad one. I grabbed the face mask (yellow smoke burns the lungs really quickly), and headed toward the fire.
The engine was still running, and usually, we’d want to turn off the machine to fix it, but the right engine took some damage six or seven days ago, and no one thought it could take all the load. Of course, the reason we have two engines is so that one can take 100% of the load if there is a failure.
Ideally, the space elevator would get regular maintenance at either end; it was designed that way. But cost-cutting from our corporate overlords means that we cut the crew at the space end, so we only do maintenance on the ground and only every tenth trip. And it’s done by the cheapest contractors on a casual basis; anyone worth their salt would be scooped up by our competitors.
Fires in space are about the worst thing that can happen. Last year a big one killed five guys. That one had yellow smoke too.
The mistake those guys made last year is they pumped water onto the fire. Electrocuted everything, killing the engine and themselves. They also saved 452 lives because every passenger and crew member on the elevator would have died if they’d let the engine burn.
I recommended we get that fancy foam for fighting electrical fires, but we are still waiting on the requisition.
I ain’t gonna die like those other smucks, though. I have a plan. Fires need oxygen to burn, so I’m going to rupture the CO2 capture tanks. There are CO2 fire extinguishers.
The tank valves took a good jiggerin’ before they opened, but they started roaring out with gas. The fire started dying down straight away.
I’m pretty tired now. Must be from the hard work. I might take a quick mid-shift nap.