It was a couple of hours since the incident, and the lab was still in complete disarray. Half of the false flooring was gone, removed to access the fusion generators below. Test equipment and tools littered what little was left of the floor space, which confined Breanna to her station. Fortunately, she kept busy by running system diagnostics while keeping an eye on their remaining power reserves.
The North wall, farthest away from the exit, had been scorched black after a fire broke out at one of the associated workstations. Fortunately, emergency power had been restored by that time, so the integrated fire suppression systems dealt with the threat before the lab turned into a crematorium.
“I told you to check the polarity!” Mason yelled.
Brett just glared at the team leader, and avoided making eye contact with Breanna who was snickering at the outburst. These generators were his pride and joy, and knew their designs intimately, he should not have been second guessed.
“I’ve maintained these generators for the past twenty-five years,” Brett said.
“So?” Mason asked.
“So I’m sure the power bypass is compatible with our systems,” Brett said in all honesty.
For now they were at an impasse. Mason was also aware that the polarity, phase, and the voltage at the tap was compatible. The generators alternate feed was designed to provide long-term auxiliary power, that was their primary function. So why did they nearly blow out the power grid in the attempt? They needed auxiliary power to restart the generators, only then would they have stable power.
Breanna cleared her throat to get the men’s attention. Both of them looked up from the mess of wires and circuits to focus on their counterpart. Brett was clearly annoyed by the distraction, while Mason seemed relieved for the opportunity to focus on something else.
“This service manual for the Mister Fusion Mark Twelve Bravo says…” Breanna said, before she paused to decipher the schematics. “That you should have tapped after the converter to get the correct polarity.”
The men turned to one another, and collectively shrugged. Now that was downright odd, since what she reported did not match what either knew to be true.
“We have a Mark Twelve Alpha,” Mason finally said as a way to avoid escalating tensions.
“Yeah,” Brett said. “Bravo’s are fitted on interstellar craft, not ground installations.”
Breanna shrugged and quickly tapped on her dimly lit console. The systems were scaling back their processing power as reserves dwindled. This trend would continue until they established auxiliary power.
“Wait one,” Breanna said while the query ran in the foreground. “The system’s firmware pings back as a Bravo.”
“No way!” Brett yelled.
Breanna turned around so fast that the men flinched. Her eyes darted in their direction, sized them up before looking away slowly and sighed. She then rubbed her temples in an effort to calm down. Breanna may not have been born a redhead, but she clearly embraced that particular stereotype.
“You want to come up here and check?” Breanna challenged.
Mason cringed and thought it best to say, “Why don’t you check the tally plates, Brett.”
The request coming from Mason managed to diffuse the situation. Brett disappeared from sight, since getting to those plates required him to squeeze by two industrial capacitors, followed by hugging the outer casing to avoid making contact with exposed circuits.
“Fuck!” Brett yelled, although the sound was muffled by the surrounding equipment.
“Everything good?” Mason asked.
“No!” Brett exclaimed just as he lit a red filtered torch. “I just ran into a high capacity power conduit.”
For a man who insisted he knew these generators intimately, that certainly raised a slew of questions. One did not just forget the location of power transmission lines, because inadvertent contact when the system was operational meant disintegration.
Minutes later, the red light bled out into the room followed by Brett. It gave the man a certain demonic look, despite the wide eyes and soft features that were trademarks of those humbled.
“Mister Fusion Mark Twelve…” Brett said. “Bravo,” he whispered.
Mason cocked an eyebrow once that information hit him. His memories were clearly aligned with Brett’s. In fact, he would have bet his life on it. No matter, his bruised ego could be addressed at a later time, and for now they needed power.
“How long will it take you to establish a power bypass?” Mason asked.
Brett sighed, then looked up towards Breanna. His shoulders were slumped and his face was crestfallen. It was clear that he did not take well to being proved wrong.
“I don’t know,” Brett replied. “I’ll have to consult the technical manuals to provide an assessment.”
“So safe to say that you’ll need at least four hours?” Mason asked.
“Safe to say,” Brett responded. “Yes.”
Mason turned to Breanna and said, “Does that phone of yours still work?”
Breanna withdrew the device from the depths of her lab coat. She tapped on the surface, and on command the screen came to life, so she nodded.
“We are going to be here a while—,” Mason said.
“On it,” Breanna said in haste, seeing how she could stand to eat as well.
Breanna flew past the apps and menus until she neared the entry she sought. At least, that had been her intent, but the Chinese restaurant she sought was not listed. Odd, since she passed it just this morning, and the memory of that fried rice wafting from out of their exhaust, was enough to make her salivate.
“It’s not there?” Breanna asked.
“What do you mean?” Mason queried in return.
“General Chang’s Lucky Wok,” Breanna said. “Doesn’t show on Scroogle or even on Street Peeper.”
“I loved that place!” Brett whined.
Mason stepped back, and immediately latched onto a solid object, to avoid falling in between the equipment. Distractions in this current situation were ill advised, but these disconnects from reality were making it more likely.
Was the group’s collective memory faulty? Not only once, but twice now? Or was there something else at play they had yet to consider?
“What’s there now?” Mason asked.
Breanna spread her fingers over the screen to zoom in on the sign and answered, “King of Donair.”
“What’s a donair?” the men asked.
Mason was tired of this, so he hopped skipped and jumped through the gaps, until he reached the exit. Once he pressed the button, he expected to hear the airlock equalise pressure. Instead, the door slid open to reveal a storage closet.
“What the fuck!” Mason swore.
Disclaimer: This chapter is currently in development. There are likely typos, errors, omissions, inconsistencies and so forth. Please do not treat this as a polished and completed work!