The captain sat pole-axed in his chair. The mission had gone from cut-and-dried to a disaster in the making in only a few seconds. He reconfirmed the situation with the assistant engineer before cursing.
"All hands, prepare for emergency evacuation.' he said, hitting the intercomm key. "Kim, we might need to get all of the rad-poisoning kits from the med bay before we leave the ship, no telling what is left on the Celeste." he said with a haggard tone. It would be a cramped evac as the remaining crewmen made their way into the two salvage shuttles, and over to the Celeste.
"Is there any way we could send someone into the thing, and fire the rest of the bolts?" he asked, seconding Pliers sentiments.
Marney shook her head, having been a junior engineer before gaining admittance to medical training. "There is no way for a person to manually discharge the bolts, and if they did, they would as likely be killed by the reactor shifting, as from the radiation leaking from the d**n thing." she said.
For a moment, the captain looked to entertain the though, one crewman for the safety of his ship. "I hope the Celeste is in better shape, or we are all screwed." he said. He punched in the code to power down the ship, and put her in stand-by. Hopefully, she would be rescued herself.
Aboard the Celeste
Pockets found her way to the main engineering compartment, a shining cubicle of dials, and computer screens, an engineers dream and a mechanics nightmare. A few minutes work showed that the reactor was purposfully powered down, and was set in stand-by, with the solar arrays on the outer hull providing most of the residual power.
The power core, obviously more advanced, and ten times more engineer friendly than the MMCRV-1 reactor on the Ballard. As the core returned to operational power, more than a dozen screens read out data to her, from the broad strokes of megawatts generated per second to the minutae of power transfer through the couplings, and vibration in the reactor housing.
At the Airlock
As Hue and Tagget were about the leave, the light fixtures in the airlock blinked on, and the door, reading positive pressure and motion inside, opened. The lights inside of the Celeste were still coming on, running lights, as well as the persistant hum of air recirculators coming back on line.
The air, if it was breathable would be stale, and lord only knew what smells wafted on the frozen breezes, perhaps a virus, or some other invisible pathogen that decimated the crew. There was also the reassuring whine of the O2 heaters warming the ship back to human inhabitability from the constant and penetrating cold of space.