14 Carrot Gold (Part 5)

“He was tryin’ to help!” Serena called, grabbing on to her brother’s shirt tail. “On account of he’s an’ expert!”

“Oh I'm sure he thinks he is! Now I’m going to show him how much of an expert I am.”

Serena couldn’t understand why he was so mad, when all Tim wanted to do was help. She needed the help of someone else. As Vas ascended the steps two at a time, Serena scurried off into the ship. “Cap’n Jago! Vas is gonna…” Jago looked like he stepped in something which smelled awful, and the teen’s shoulders dropped. Right, right, invisible. “PATCH!” She called, spinning on her heel to find the mechanic.

The old man was in the engine room trying to get the secondary cathode neutralizer to stay put on the impulse engine. His large frame was thoroughly wedged underneath the ship's accelerator core, it was the easiest way to reach the gorram thing without a full teardown, a crane hoist and two weeks in dry dock: three things Jago would most certainly never foot the bill for. "The most advanced design in its class!" Patch sarcastically repeated the tagline from the Allied Spacecraft Corp's Firefly Class-4 marketing literature as he let out a scoff. Just as he was loosening the connector for the coolant line, he heard Serena cry out.

"PATCH!"

Both its suddenness and the sound of the teen's desperation startled the big man, causing him to instinctively jerk his head forward towards the direction of the sound which was immediately greeted with the underside of the accelerator core housing. An interesting side effect of the design of the Class-4's updates was the introduction of a newer plasticine steel alloy which, while reducing weight, also gave the structure a bell like resonance. This property was demonstrated as, when Patch's forehead connected with it, it let out a lovely clang, though Patch was in no condition to appreciate just how lovely it was.

The old man stifled a curse in Russo-Polish as his head fell back to rest on the cool engine room floor. He reflexively moved his hand to his forehead to check the damage, not realizing his leather glove had some coolant on it from the connector. As his hands passed over his face, a drop of it fell right into his eye. The mechanic yelped and pawed at his eyes, rubbing them with both hands. This only served to deposit more of the irritant into them, not to mention smearing engine grease all around his eyes. He desperately shimmied out from under the the accelerator core and fumbled his way to the wash station off to the side, throwing off his gloves and dosing his face with cooling water until the burning stopped. Or, at least, slowed. He looked at himself in the mirror near the wash station as his face dripped, his red irritated eyes were highlighted by the black sooty grease deposited around them. As he shook off the pain, he suddenly remembered why he needed to get out from under the engine in the first place.

"The kid!" he thought, panicked, as he stumbled out of the engine room and down the hall towards the cargo bay. Still drippy and groaning from the residual aching of his poor eyes, he braced himself against the doorway into the cargo bay and let out a groan as he forced his eyes wide to try and get a better view of the situation.

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