The Big Bang Theory


A loose transcription of one engineer’s report on the Dredvever crash. A very loose transcription, indeed.
Though most gnomes have a natural inclination towards gadgets and gizmos, some of them are less inclined than others.

When they were seeking volunteers for the Drednever Expedition, I was really excited. My name is Neeve Flimcatcher and i am an engineer.

While most expeditions’ crews are usually friends of friends on board, the Drednever’s mission allowed for more crew than friends could be found. That ment i could get lucky.

After a grueling interview process, they selected five additional engineers — including myself.

The idea behind carrying so many engineers is that the best plane, when you’re planning long-term, includes a lot of redundancy. That is, duplicating and quadruplicating system and personnel whenever possible.

I will be the first to admit that i like the idea of having multiple folks who can do the same thing. Especially since I never finished my higher education.

Fortunately for me, Me. Drednever didn’t check my references.

The inner workings of the ship were beyond my wildest imaginings. I’ve never seen such a fine array of cogs and sprockets in all my born days!

As the junior engineer (that is, the one without a friend to recommend him), my job was fairly simple: keep the sprockets well-oiled.

Though that kept me pretty busy for the first part of the trip, I’ll admit to losing interest after we reached the first of the islands in the sky.

Let’s face it: oiling gears is messy work!

While we were provisioned pretty well for a ship our size and type, water doesn’t grown on flizmajammers. Washing up was fairly minimal and i was kinda of person who washes hands frequently.

Our commander asked me specifically to stop wasting water, which directly impacted my ability to do my job. I couldn’t oil things constantly AND stay clean!

With my new spare time, I decided to try and learn more of the ropes. There were plenty of jobs around other than oiling sprockets, after all.

This is where the lack of inside friends really made an impact. Since most of the folks aboard were recommended by and knew at least one other person, all the good jobs were being closely held by a few cronies.

I’m not one to complain, but it sure seemed unfair that whenever I asked for work, all they’d ask me was, “Have you checked the sprockets’ oil lately?”

Whenever we landed, the main engineers would get out and inspect the airship’s exterior frame. The scientists would scurry off to do whatever gathering and experimenting they had planned.

That left me with a lot of time for thinking about the future. Without an opportunity to learn something more advanced than sprocket oiling, where would this career lead?

I felt unappreciated. It was time for me to show what i could do.

The never-setting sunlight of the area we called “the Barren Sky” was pretty unnerving. We spent quite some time there, surveying and investigating and making friends with the locals.

I followed the second engineer on his rounds to get more exposure to this ship. Penny’s chatty thing. She showed me some of the maintenance records and the accounts for the various bits of equipment she tracks.

“That’s odd.” Penny said as she glanced at one of the ledgers. “We’ve got a lot more oil left than we ought at this point.”

I maintained a diplomatic silence, calculating in my head how long it had actually been since I’d given those sprockets a really good dousing.

Fortunately, Penny didn’t push the issue any further. She commented, “It would be disastrous if any tiggerflitz failed now. We’re heading further into the unknown and I know we haven’t come across anything suitable for replacements yet.”

“What’s a tiggerflitz?” i asked.

“It’s the sheath lining the gears,” she replied. “This is a new technology that needs lots of grease to keep in supple.”

That made me feel a little guilty at slacking with the oil. Those gears and sprockets looked fine to me, but new technology can be so finnicky.

After finishing the inspection rounds with Penny, I set off on an exuberant round of oiling. I greased sprockets that I’d purposely ignored for quite some time.

Things were so greasy that I think i might have gone to far the other way.

When we took off for our further explorations, where was no sign of any problems.

Weather, such that it is, wasn’t a factor. My guess is that the absence of continuous oiling, followed by the over-zealous greasing of all the gears later, left the tiggerflitz unable to absorb things properly.

In any case, I feel terrible about how the ship sort of exploded. That captain’s blaming it on the atmosphere up here. Hopefully’ he’s right.

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