Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Perspectives Differ: Death Star Technicians

Death Star
Here follows the final text message exchange between Death Star engineers Alysha Serasai, 1st Technician, Reactor Core Sector, and Rax Nooram, 2nd Technician, Outer Sprawls Sector 12.

Alysha: Up for dinner tonight?  :)

Rax: Sorry, can’t. I had to work late installing a homing beacon in an old Corellian freighter they tractored in and I missed the last express elevator. I’d take the regular elevator, but I wouldn’t get there until late. Why the hell does this space station have to be so damn big?

Alysha: It really doesn’t. They have a prototype version of the Death Star orbiting a black hole in The Maw. It’s a quarter the mass of this one and requires less than one tenth the crew, and it works just fine. I saw them test it. But now it’s just sitting out there, gathering accretion dust.

Rax: So why the hell did they build this one?

Alysha: You know how the Empire is. Why make something normal sized, when you can make it impractically large? All those subcontractors need to wet their beaks, and no Moff wants to command a battlestation that has less than a million people on it. Not enough prestige.

Rax: Ugh. Government.

Alysha: If you think this Death Star’s bad, wait until you see the next one. I got a look at the plans, and it’s like thirty times the volume of this one. I ask you, what’s the point of that? The one we have now can already blow up a planet. How is a bigger station supposed to improve on that? How much more blown up can a planet get?

Rax: About thirty times more, apparently. They won't be satisfied until they can make the rubble bounce, then vaporize it.

Alysha: Hey, there could be moss with rebel tendencies clinging to that rubble.

Rax: Yeah, and I think I saw a seditious looking mynock get away, after we destroyed Alderaan.

Alysha: Man, I wish I could have been up there to see that! I was stuck down here, monitoring power levels. :(

Rax: Eh, you didn’t miss much. Remember, we fired from like two-million kilometers away. Alderaan was just a tiny little dot from that distance. All I saw was a little jet of light. I’ve let off Felucian bottle rockets that looked more impressive.

Alysha: I still would’ve liked to see it. To be a part of history, you know?

Rax: I guess. Hey, how was your day?

Alysha: Ugh, don’t get me started. Tarkin is mad about the amount of fuel we're using, and you know how shit rolls downstation. My supervisor wants me to reduce power consumption by fifty percent. I’m like, fifty percent? Are you shitting me?

Rax: OMG what an ass. Hey, I have an idea. If we want to reduce fuel usage, maybe we shouldn’t send the entire Death Star chasing after long-abandoned rebel bases, on the word of some dippy princess.

Alysha: It's not like we could send one of the five hundred scout ships we have on board. Why the hell did we even bring those scout ships, if we're not going to use them?

Rax: You have to look at it from their perspective: why use a scout ship that can be there and back in a day, when we can take a ponderous, slow-moving battle station that burns more fuel than the entire planet of Coruscant, then yell at technicians about fuel consumption?

Alysha: Yeah, and they’re even mad that my fuel consumption predictions are off. Do you have any idea how hard it is to predict hypermatter fuel consumption? The stuff is made of tachyons. They travel faster than light and backwards in time. How the hell am I supposed to limit the consumption of fuel that's being consumed now to power stuff we haven't even done yet? I can barely even wrap my mind around that!

Rax: Grand Moff Tarkin seems to have unreasonable expectations about a lot of things.

Alysha: I’m reading a hypermatter drain right now, in fact, that looks like it’s coming from a miscalibrated stellar bottle. But all our stellar bottles are in perfect calibration. Someone’s going to miscalibrate one in the next week or so, and even though I'm pretty sure I know who's going to do it, I don't dare try to stop them, because it could create a paradox that could destroy the entire space-time continuum.

Rax: That sounds bad.

Alysha: You know what Tarkin said when I explained that to him? He was like, “The space time continuum is none of your concern. Excessive fuel consumption is!”

Rax: WTF? How can the space time continuum be none of your concern? All your stuff is in the space time continuum.

Alysha: I know, right? Oh, and that isn’t even the worst of it. You know what I noticed today?

Rax: That Lord Vader isn’t wearing anything under that robe?

Alysha: :) No, but close. I was working in reactor control, inspecting a port on the equator band. I noticed that, if I looked right along the center of the port, I could see stars on the other end.

Rax: GTFO. No way!

Alysha: No, seriously. I thought it was my eyes playing tricks on me, but I checked the plans and it’s real. There’s a thermal exhaust tunnel that runs from the station’s core to the surface, via a small thermal exhaust port, right below the main port. One of the subcontractors on the thermal control team must have added it after the final design review, which isn't supposed to happen.

Rax: And it’s a straight shot down to the reactor core?

Alysha: Yup.

Rax: Holy shit. What if someone working on the surface port drops a wrench? After falling and accelerating at station gravity, with no air resistance, for 80 miles before it reaches the core, it would be traveling at, what?

Alysha: 1.25 kilometers per second. I did the math.

Rax: Now, I’m no expert on wrenches, but 1.25 kilometers per second sounds like an unsafe speed for a wrench. Especially if it’s pointed at your reactor core.

Alysha: Yeah, I did the math on that too. At that speed, a 1 kilogram object has as much kinetic energy as a stick of Bespian dynamite.

Rax: Not to mention the penetration. After falling for 80 miles, that’s an armor piercing wrench now.

Alysha: My supervisor was like, “Don’t worry. Not even a computer could fire a torpedo directly down that tiny exhaust shaft.” And I was like, torpedo my ass. If someone accidentally kicks over their toolbox, it'll be like dropping a cluster bomb on the reactor core.

Rax: Heh heh. Torpedo your ass.

Alysha: Shut up! >.<  Just one little accident could start a chain reaction that would destroy the entire station.

Rax: Yeah, but we need that exhaust shaft, right?

Alysha: We totally don’t. I think the design team was just trying to look busy when they put it in. Vacuum is about the worst thing you could think of for venting exhaust heat. We could replace that entire shaft with a copper heat pipe  that's only one centimeter wide, and it would work better than it does now. A lot better, if we also put a big aluminum fin over the port. And just imagine the Death Star with ten-kilometer-long spiked fins coming out the equatorial trench. How metal would that be?

Rax: I would like to see that. Hey, hold on a second. Some asshole in a Wookiee costume is running around the halls like a maniac. I’ll be right back.

Alysha: You get ‘em, Rax.

Alysha: Hey, Rax, did you get that guy?

Alysha: Well, when you’re done with whatever you’re doing, call me.

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