Friday, July 12, 2013

Fiction Friday: Old Times 2.7

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On stations and ships, there are bulkhead doors and partition doors. The former are thicker and tougher and slide open and closed to avoid having weak spots where hinges and latches are. Partition doors are just for privacy and can be sliding, folding, or on hinges.

Normal living spaces tend to be separated from each other with lighter and cheaper partition doors, but not so capsuleer "captain's quarters" which typically have access to the airless hangers. Thus, for safety from decompression accidents, each quarter has it own small bulkhead door that slides laterally open and closed. For someone wanting to break in, this means you can't simply smash it down (unless you have a mech or a tank) like you could a similarly sized partition door. You could blow it open but a big enough blast is likely to destroy whatever or whoever it is your are trying to get. It turns out the best way for access is melting a whole in the door.

You can get special "metla-bombs" which range in size from grenades the size of your fist to mines about the size of 4 dinner plates stacked. These are military grade so civilians can only get them from illegal sources. When detonated they release a super-heated compound that react with metals and essentially melts them at incredible speeds. There is no exothermic explosion from a physics point of view, but the superheating from the compound reacting with metal at such fast speeds causes a concussion blast and flying bits of molten metal. The end result can be fatal if you are too close to the original metal structure which usually gone except for a pile of red hot slag on the ground.

Now, I'm a spaceship pilot and I don't have a lot of experience with on-station intrigue. I hear a scrape on the outside of a door of a quarters of a wanted man and I assume its going to explode very soon in a very violent manner. I don't know I have about 3 seconds before detonation and that the reaction, while violent, won't be too dangerous to anyone that can move away from it in three seconds.

In the first second I dive behind the couch. Realizing that Jax, being exhausted and dazed from lack of sleep has not moved, in the second second I reach up and pull him down as well. And in the third second I have time to think maybe I made a mistake and am overreacting.

Then the door blows open.

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