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   Chapter 10 Shipstripping

The Story of the Mimosa By Paul Kater Characters: 12368

Updated: 2018-02-11 12:04

Life for the two geeks changed dramatically from the moment they were put in charge of the works on the ship. In the evenings of the first days they still made the effort to go home to sleep, but soon they discovered that having a nice bedroom and a bathroom installed in two connecting cabins made life a lot easier, and from that moment on they lived on the black ship. In the evenings they found other things to do than enjoy each other's telescopes, and being out in the daylight so much gave their skin a tanned look that they had only observed on other people until then. Also their need for sunglasses vanished over time as their eyes adjusted to the outside light.

The first area that the geeks inspected was the off-limits engine room. They removed the sign and had a small swarm of work people follow them inside the hull and down the awkward stairs. Barthomeu suggested they should replace that with something more sensible, but Zopierama had assumed the role of oracle on alien matters. "No. These people probably have big feet and long legs so they can walk down easily. We should respect that." Hence the stairs remained, even if that made moving up and down difficult. That was temporarily fixed by installing a simple lift. One by one the entities in the engine room were photographed, measured, labelled, dismantled and taken to the warehouse where they were photographed again, relabelled, remeasured and finally stored.

When the last component was removed, Barthomeu noticed the odd change of colour in the wood in the back of the ship. He took his communicator and called Sunser Rozarian. "Hello Sunser, " he said as they were on a first name basis by now, "can you explain this to me?" He pointed the camera at the light wood.

"Oh, that. When the ship was picked up from space there was a hole in that spot, so we had some proto-wood generated to close it up before taking the ship down and placing it in the water. It would have sunk otherwise." This was true. The jolts that the ship had gone through in its travels had broken away the hard work of Ammer the Amandian, who had repaired the ship after it had been shot at.

"Aha. That makes sense indeed. We'll have its colour adjusted. When I see something like that I want to paint it black." Barthomeu thanked the man and went looking for some black paint. Occasionally he felt like doing something physical about the ship. It probably had to do with all the other physical things he and Zopie were engaging in, and he liked it.

Taking everything from the engine room and cataloguing was very time-consuming. Barthomeu and Zopierama took a day off because they wanted a change of scenery by now. The ship was amazing, a real treasure trove for geeks, but it also was very black and all the climbing up and down was taking its toll on their muscles. After a relaxing day at a spa, from where they could still see the ship, they returned, refreshed and happy to be on board again. That was special because they didn't really notice the happy feeling. It was more a coming-home feeling for them.

The next day they investigated the bridge in detail. They had read up on old ships and discovered that bridge was the proper name for this place. With plenty of tools around they used pliers to turn the little stick with the missing knob. The ship's systems, that had been running since their initial activation, went black again.

Barthomeu took charge of taking apart the machinery in the small cabin himself, occasionally requesting some muscle-power from one of the workers on board. Many of the connections that kept everything together had been made by someone with super-human strength, he assumed, which was another

rudder and the original controller.

"Do it, " Zopierama invited her boyfriend.

"No. You do it, " he replied as he lifted her hand to the 'On' switch.

"We'll do it together, " Zopie decided as she held out her finger. Almost ceremoniously Barthomeu moved her hand. The switch flipped. Lights on the console lit up as they were meant to and a soft humming spread through the engine room. Indicators all slowly flashed in blue, telling the couple that everything was working as intended. Still hand in hand the two walked among the forest of engines, stabilisers, and tubes that hung from the ceiling.

"It is as if I can feel our ancestors at work here, Zopie, " Barthomeu said as he laid a hand against one of the micro-reactors. "The residual beating of their hearts, their knowledge, their very thoughts."

Zopierama wrapped a hand around a number of flexible brass tubes and leaned her head against them. The static electricity tugged at her hair, wrapping it around some of the tubes. The blue light of the indicators gave her face an amazing glow. "They live, Barthomeu. Here, within the engine block." Then she smiled. "Come. Let's go to the bridge and see if everything is functional there." With a laugh that made the man smile she ran off towards the stairs and ran up to the deck.

Barthomeu ran after her, and in a very strange moment that almost made him lose his footing on the strange wide steps a thought flashed through his head in which Zopie had a tail and he wanted to slap at it. He almost ran into her as he reached the top of the stairs as Zopierama was shielding her eyes against the bright light. "Oops..."

She turned to him. "Have you noticed a change in me lately?"

"Uhm, I have, yes. Why?"

"I have noticed a change in you too. And I like that change."

Barthomeu smiled. This was a good thing. Probably. He took her hand and they strolled along the black deck to the black stairs, up to the black bridge with its grey carpeting.

Zopierama sat down in the captain's chair. The main switch for the system was located where the original missing knob was. "Here we go, " she said and pressed the button. One by one the displays in the walls activated, showing the surroundings of the ship through the newly installed cameras. Readings from the engine room came in and displayed neat graphs, and the desk with its touch type interface lit up.

Barthomeu let out the breath he hadn't noticed he was holding. "It works."

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