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Chapter 02

      As he had promised Jeremy was at the ship's dock bright and early. The night had done him some good, he remembered tossing for a bit from a dream, but not what it had been about. All that mattered was that he was up, feeling better and that his stomach didn't flip around at the though of working on the kelsirian ship. Not that it looked like he was going to get on. The uniformed Kelsirian blocking the door didn't seem inclined to move.

      Jeremy tried to explain that he was suppose to be on the ship, he even tried to feign is way in, but even if the kelsirian was a head shorter he was much faster and stronger than he looked. Jeremy gave up trying to convince him, walking away, he figured he'd let the Commander know and let him deal with the situation.

       "Wait! Wait!" someone yelled after him. Jeremy turned to see a kelsirian running from inside the ship. The furry alien said something quickly, not stopping as he passed the guard and then ran to Jeremy. "I here, I here," He said between wising breath, bending with hands on knees as he stopped in front of him. He was a head shorter than Jeremy, but muscular, covered in white fur with gray specks, giving it a dirty look. His face looked more like that of the ambassador rather than the captain's. His muzzle was short, but his ears were large. His eyes were steel gray.

      "I sorry," he continued when he was able to breath properly, "I here soon, I try. . ." he gestured, trying to mimic something Jeremy couldn't figure out after a moment he just looked at the human "I Thuruk, I help," and then signed for Jeremy to follow him.

      Jeremy debated not going for a moment before starting after him. He stayed close as Thuruk talked with the guard.

      "He not know. I say you okay," the alien said while he led Jeremy through the ship. Jeremy looked around, his professional interest piqued, he'd never seen the underside of a starship, even a human one. Because of the type of generator he specialized in he had been snatched up by one of the low orbit station as soon as he was out of school and because of his anti matter expertise it hadn't taken long before he was moved here, to the furthest station from Earth to work on something they weren't even supposed to have. When he was in a starship, he was always in the passenger section

      He didn't really miss Earth since he didn't have many good memories there, his reoccurring stomach problems had made it difficult to make friends so he'd focused his time on his studies. He supposed he missed his family, but they'd never been all that close. After leaving home for school he'd only see them at large family gathering. So being at the tail end of the human empire didn't bother him.

      A door opened as Thuruk stepped before it and they both walked into the ship's main engineering. It was a large room, much larger than Jeremy had expected, easily a hundred meters deep and about half as wide - a lot of it empty space.

      A few kelsirians technicians looked their way as they entered, and murmurs in the alien language spread through the room as more and more kelsirians looked at them, or rather at him, Jeremy though. They probably hadn't seen a live human before now.

      Thuruk said something loudly and everyone went back to what they had been doing. He guided Jeremy to the center of the room, where the anti matter containment was located.

      On the station it was a clear tube held together by a force field since scientist were almost more interested in studying the reactions as generating the energy. Here it was box, a big opaque box, ten meters on each side and going from the floor to the ceiling five meters above. The panels had signs of having been burnt recently. He couldn't read the words on the controls, but there was one display he understood perfectly, the generator was turned off.

      "What happened?" Jeremy asked Thuruk.

      The kelsirian tried to say something, but couldn't seem to find the words. "Go boom," he finally said.

      Jeremy chuckled. "Yeah, I figured out that part." He looked at the panels at the base of the containment unit, some showed signs of having bend outward, which told him that things had gotten very hot in there. "How do we open it up?" he asked after failing to find a way by himself.

      Thuruk pointed to the closest kelsirian and told him something, he ran out of the room. A moment later he was back carrying a tool Jeremy didn't recognize.

      "Use this," Thuruk said as he took it out of the other's hands. He signaled for the human to move away and moved the tip of the tool close to the panel. An inch from it the two prongs at the tip started glowing and when they touched the metal the space between the prongs glowed, melting it.

      "An arc saw," Jeremy said to himself as he recognized the way it was used, even if it was built in a completely different way. It was much more compact then the one they had in the lab. Thuruk was holding it comfortably using both his hands. The one Jeremy had had to use was bulky and unwieldy; most of the time it required two people to use. And they'd somehow found a way to miniaturize the power supply so it fit inside the saw.

      A few minutes later the panel fell to the floor.

      Jeremy took a portable light out of his bag and shone it inside the containment unit. A quick glance explained why the unit was so much larger than theirs; space, lots of space. Instead of being build as compact as possible, there was plenty of space to move in there. It would make going the repairs much easier.

      He had Thuruk cut a dozen other opening around the unit, mainly to provide more light and so he could reach certain areas blocked by melted metal. He spent the rest of the day trying to figure out what had happened. But there was too much damage to be able to ascertain that, and not enough common language to get Thuruk to tell him.

      He was able to determine what hadn't happened. The anti matter hadn't leaked out. There was no sign of the explosive reaction coming in contact with matter would have caused. That was good. That meant the most likely scenario was that one of the cables carrying the energy generated had over heated to the point where something around it ignited. The heat had probably cause something to explode, causing the 'boom' Thuruk had mentioned.

      When he came out the captain was talking with Thuruk. Jeremy looked at them as he dusted the soot off himself and waited for them to be finished. The captain was much taller and larger than the white kelsirian, looking very much like a predator that had roamed earth's forests centuries before. Thuruk in contrast looked like he would make a better house pet than a hunter.

      They were still talking when they moved closer to him. Even if the captain was the more dangerous looking of the two Jeremy couldn't stop himself for watching him, the graceful way he moved, the confidence in his step. Jeremy idly wondered what he might look like during a hunt.

      The increase in the stomach pain distracted him from the images his mind had started conjuring up. He winced slightly and took out the pill bottle. His stomach had been bothering him a little ever since he'd started working, but it hadn't been too much. "I guess I should consider myself lucky this is the first time I need them," he mumbled before swallowing a pill.

      "What for?" Thuruk asked.

      "They're to calm my stomach." Jeremy answered.

      The kelsirian looked at him, clearly not understanding.

      Jeremy pointed to his belly. "Pain in stomach." He said slowly. Thuruk nodded and Jeremy pointed to the bottle. "stop pain."

      Thuruk nodded his understanding and said something to the captain before looking at Jeremy again. He said something in his language that the human thought might have been the captain's name, but his voice wasn't as deep so it didn't carry the same resonance, "wants report." The kelsirian finished.

      Jeremy shook his head. "It's too early. I'm just starting to figure out what didn't happen, let along what did happen."

      Thuruk obviously didn't get it all, but he'd caught enough to tell the captain something. The captain's response made Jeremy's bones rattle, and while his stomach protested, he found that he did like the sound of the deep vibrating voice.

      "Can fix?" Thuruk then asked.

      Jeremy stared at him open mouthed and then at the captain, how was he suppose to explain to either one what he needed to do before he could even start to figure out if he'd be able to fix it when he had trouble getting him to understand more than two words. "I don't know," he finally said.

      The two kelsirians talked a little more and the captain left.

      Jeremy was a little sorry to see him go, but his stomach was happy. H guessed that having him near was  making him feel the pressure of the job more. It would explain why his stomach protested.

      "I'm not sure how you work here," Jeremy told Thuruk, too tired to try to simplify his speech, "but I need to go home to eat and sleep." He mimicked eating food when Thuruk looked at him dumbfounded.

      The kelsirian nodded and indicated for him to follow. Jeremy quickly grabbed his tool bag and ran after him. After a few intersections Jeremy got the feeling they weren't heading toward the docks. He pulled Thuruk to a stop.

      Thuruk protested, saying, "food" and he pointed in the direction of the corridor.

      "Home," Jeremy said.

      Thuruk had to think that one over for a moment before nodding and pointing in the same direction. "Home."

      Jeremy shook his head. "My home. Outside the ship." He indicated the direction he should the station was.

      The kelsirian seemed saddened as he understood what Jeremy meant, but he guided him back to the bay where the ship connected to the station.

      "Tomorrow," Jeremy said to Thuruk as he left.

      "I be here, same today," The Kelsirian called back after him.

      Jeremy sighed in annoyance when the first thing he saw stepping on the station was the commander.

      "Do you have something to report mister Kromer?" his superior asked without even giving Jeremy time to acknowledge his presence.

      "Not really. It's too early." Jeremy was too hungry to care about rank at the moment.

      "Surely you've been able to ascertain something about the capacity of their generator."

      "Sir, with all due respect," he said trying to keep his annoyance from showing, "their unit is down right now. There's no way for me to know that yet. All I can tell you right now is that they build theirs so they could easily move within it."

      "That sounds dangerous."

      "I doubt they do that when the unit is functional. But it's going to make fixing things much easier."

      "I see. When can I expect your report?"

      "You're going to get it when you get it, and not a moment sooner," Jeremy said, too annoyed and distracted by his stomach to temper his tone. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to get a shower and some food."

      The commander glared at him, but didn't say anything as Jeremy walked away.

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