Engineering Genius

The Forge Region – Anttanen Constellation
Uitra System – Planet VI, Moon 4
State War Academy Station

3 April YC 121

Gerhardt grabbed the last remaining bottle from the bar, uncorked it and took a swig.

“Ah, that funky Gallente stuff, never liked it,” winced he and returned to his seat.

I took the bottle and tried the liquor. At first, it felt like a regular semi-dry wine but then a thousand tiny ice cubes scattered in my mouth prickling my tongue.

Noting my reaction, Gerhardt chuckled and said, “Good fun when you taste it first but it gets boring pretty soon. Seeing you have never tried it, you can keep the bottle for yourself.”

I thanked Ger and said, “So what about that shield boosting trick?”

“Hmm… How good are you at shield and power grid management?”

“I have both skills at level IV.”

“Ah, okay, that should be enough to understand how it worked. You see, the shield generator on Victorieux is separate from the main engine. The hackers hadn’t disabled it and I don’t know why. Probably it wasn’t necessary for their plans. Anyway, after Willi had dispatched the wannabe hijackers I got out of the pod and tried to start the engine. As the shield generator was the only remaining energy source, my first idea was to connect it to the main engine and activate it. The problem I encountered was that kick-starting the engine required a lot of energy released in a very short period of time; that’s what the capacitor does. Shield generator, on the other hand, was designed to provide a low-level but steady flow of energy. In short, nothing came out of it.

“Then I realised that the shield built by the generator was also a kind of a capacitor. If that energy could be channelled into the main engine, the problem would be solved. So what I needed was a coupling between the shield’s power conduit and the main engine. But obviously, I could not connect live cables without being roasted and it was then that I came up with what Lassi called ‘an ingenious solution’. Instead of a creating a direct connection I used some redundant power modules to jury-rig a transistor which worked as a switch controlled by the cloaking device activation circuit. Then I returned to the pod and turned on the cloak, or at least made a mental effort to do that,” said Gerhardt and paused.

“And what?” I asked impatiently.

“And… nothing,” Gerhardt made a frustrated gesture. “The bloody thing didn’t work. It took me a while to realise that the shield’s conduit had a backflow protection mechanism which was designed to withstand the power pressure of a fully charged shield and then some. I tried to switch off the generator in order to reduce backflow resistance but that didn’t help either – the mechanism had a passive protection component which still coped with the shield pressure. Without the generator, though, the shield level started to slowly drop and I had to switch it back on. At that point I realised that spending more time in space without cloak was an open invitation to every thug with a Civilian Gatling Gun, so I requested help from the local authorities…”

“…and those authorities contacted yours truly,” finished I. “By the way, I haven’t told you but the summons came at the most inopportune time – when I was enjoying my dessert.”

“Oh, poor lad,” said Gerhardt pretending to be sympathetic. “Should I order you a cake?”

“Nah, this wine is sweet enough. As to the moral damages, you have fully repaid them by sharing that Vherokior bottle with me. So let’s skip the sad details of my aborted breakfast and jump straight to the point when I warped to you with that useless remote shield booster.”

“Ha, at first, I thought that it was useless too but then I had a light-bulb moment, if you know what I mean.”

“Of course I do, I have such moment every time I sip from this,” smirked I and raised the bottle.

Gerhardt rolled his eyes, “Pay attention, Cadet Korff! This information may prove lifesaving if you find yourself in the same situation.”

“Yessir!” barked I, and we both laughed.

Gerhardt continued his story, “When a ship receives remote shield boost, the power pressure increases. The system is designed to withstand the backflow even if the boost is applied to a fully charged shield. However, the maximum resistance is only achieved with a working shield generator. Remember, I asked you to give me 10 minutes? I needed that time to get out of the capsule, run naked to the engine room, turn off the shield generator and get back to the pod. There I activated the cloaking device and asked you to start repping…”

I interrupted excitedly, “…and when I applied the boost to your almost full shield, the power pressure eclipsed the reduced backflow resistance and all the energy accumulated in the shield went to the main engine!”

“Bingo! Unfortunately, I fried my cloaking device in the process, but better that than losing the whole ship.”

“Wow, Ger! You are a genius. I totally understand the mechanics of this solution but I be damned if I could invent it myself. One thing that I still don’t get, though, is how you managed to escape those Pithi Plunderers that I saw just before entering the warp.”

Gerhardt smiled smugly and said, “Let me show you something.”

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