Archive:Graeme Devine's Blog/Spirit of Fire/Prescott

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This is a word-by-word replication of the original page on Graeme Devine's Blog. As such, any errors or irregularities are simply carried over from the original page.


Meet Engineer Andrew Prescott


Andrew Prescott loved to tinker but sometimes even he knew that his tinkering got a little out of control. Take this very instant he thought, trying to beat the Martian land speed record with an untested and underfunded engine design and actually getting into the car himself instead of letting the AI monitor the test. No, he had to feel the engine, improve it based on the way it vibrated, sounded, and talked to him. Possibly kill himself.

Prescott sat in the cockpit and looked down at the ignition switch, checked the kill circuit one last time and looked down the flats. The gravity was lower than Earth standard, but the bigger problem was always the thin air which made rocket propulsion a less desirable option even after the terraforming project. But a pulse detonation engine was made to operate in environments like this. Just not on the ground. That and the word detonation tended to scare people off.

Prescott watched as two D77-TC Pelicans roared overhead and landed near the control desk. Two troops, MPs Prescott thought, walked down the ramp toward Charlie Peters, his ground chief. After a short conversation Charlie looked over and pointed his way. The MPs started walking over.

Prescott wasn’t about to wait around to see what was going on. He hit the ignition and was 4 clicks away before Charlie realized he was gone and got on the comm.

“Andy, what on God’s green earth are you doing?”

Prescott wasn’t sure if Charlie realized they were on Mars or not. “Can’t talk right now Charlie. Little busy.”

“Those military types were asking for you. You do something you want to tell me about? Did you steal something for the prototype?”

Prescott was too busy vibrating to answer, he clenched his jaw and swallowed his gum as the prototype impressively boomed past the sound barrier. A Prandtl-Glauert singularity formed around the vehicle with what little humidity Mars had and it kicked up a lot more dust than Prescott thought it would.

“Well, they took off after you in those ships of theirs. You just hit 1K by the way.”

The vibrations were now so bad that Prescott wasn’t able to focus, obviously the dust had kicked a stabilizer loose. Just two more seconds he thought, then the kill switch.. Just two more seconds.

Charlie was getting excited. “1K point 5! You’re on your way!”

The prototype tipped forward over itself, the front folding down while the engine pushed the back on for a few more milliseconds. For a second it looked almost graceful, but then the front stabilizer wheel base hit the ground, shattered and thousands of pieces flew out ahead of the inevitable fireball.

Prescott watched from the escape pod, which had jetted out right before the vehicle tipped. He looked down at the carnage below and listened for a second to Charlie anxiously trying to see if he was alive still.

“Charlie, I’m still here. Podded out ahead of the crash.”

Charlie was mad. “Well thank God you’re alive Andy because now I can kill you myself. You any concept of how much money we just blew up?”

Prescott answered dryly. “Nope. None at all. You?”

Charlie started to laugh. “Nope, not really.”

Prescott’s chute landed roughly and he sat still a second, closing his eyes. Zero miles per hour felt pretty good he thought.

“Prescott. Andrew James Prescott?” A voice boomed out. It was one of the MPs, their Pelican had landed near his chute while the second was orbiting the crash debris.

Prescott opened his eyes. “What can I do for the UNSC today son?”

“Sir. As per UNSC military code article 24 you are hearby reactivated and required to report for duty forthwith.”

Prescott smiled. “Forthwith huh? I wondered how long it would be. Where to son?”

Fort Marshall sir for transportation to Spirit of Fire. We are to accompany you to the fort sir.”

Prescott looked over at the Pelican. “Son. Tell Cole or whoever thought so kindly of me to bring be back that I’ll be there at 0600 MST tomorrow. If you hadn’t noticed I just crashed a very expensive car and my friend Charlie and I have a lot of beer to drink between now and then.”

The MP looked confused. “Sir?”

“You go check. In fact, you can check while you give me a ride back to my basecamp.”