I can barely believe what happened. I’m not sure if I’m angry about this or overjoyed. Fred turns out to be on the Hermes project, in fact he’s responsible for recruiting a new crew for Hermes 925. All the repairs he was asking me for were a cheeving test!
I had showed up and asked him what was wrong, like I always do. He always says he doesn’t know, I just have to figure it out for myself. Just because I know this doesn’t mean I shouldn’t ask, plus it’s a habit. I ask on every job. He tells me there’s no hot water. “That’s all I know”. Maybe I’m misremembering because of what I know now, but I swear there was a hint of mischief to his voice.
I get down to the basement and find an ancient looking boiler that I don’t remember being there before. I wondered for a moment if I’d imagined the sleek modern water heater that was down here when I repaired the reclaimer system. I carefully took the clunker apart, getting a sense of deja vu as I did so, I was sure I’d seen it before. Now that I think of it, I think it had been one of the pieces of old tech the had littered my apartment!
Anyway, I got the thing apart, the N•Viron kept track of where everything went, and got every piece cleaned up. It was mostly just dirty, but there were one or two parts needed replacing. I’m glad I’d already got the reclaimer working. It made breaking down the busted bits and assembling new ones much easier. Fred’s is much better than the repaired one in my apartment.
Speaking of reclaimers, there’s something that confuses me about the guy that used to live in my apartment. He could have ran most of the old parts he’d collected through a reclaimer and printed out new ones. Even an apartment sized one could have handled it, but his reclaimer had been broken down for parts just like everything else!
So, as I said, the boiler was was mostly just dirty. The part that really gave me trouble though was the thermostat. This ancient piece of technology looked like it had been struck by lightning. Once I’d chipped off the melted plastic and reprinted the electronics and housing, it worked beautifully. I had the whole thing rebuilt and re-calibrated and up to temperature within about 6 hours.
When I went to test the water though, it was still ice cold. I followed the pipes back and found out why. There was a metal box that the pipes ran through. The pipes going from the boiler in were still hot, but the ones coming out were only a few degrees above freezing. It was some kind of refrigeration unit. My N•Viron confirmed that it was indeed a water cooling system made by NASA, and designed by a man named Fred Wilkes.
I confronted Fred, and that’s when he told me who he really was. Fred had designed or modified most of the systems aboard Hermes 925, and of course had tinkered with everything in his house, including sabotaging the devices that he had then asked me to fix. We had a long chat about maintenance work in general and how those principles might be applied, or not in some cases, to life aboard a spacecraft.
I have an orientation on the 26th! Wait, that’s tomorrow!