Calling this the lower depths of Hell was being kind. It was bad, really bad. As the hatch opened smoke and ash from the fires boiled into the shuttle. With smoke rolling around the bay we could see scorched and burned crewmen trying to put out one of the fires. My suit sensors said that oxygen was down to 18% and falling. We had to move fast.
My team looked to me for guidance. On the flight over I had made crewman Bartleby a temporary Midshipman, by the XO's orders. “Bartleby, take half the group and make your way to engineering. Shut down that fusion engine. Short of ejecting it, stop it anyway you can. Call me if you run into trouble. The rest of you with me. Life support is failing, we need to get it fixed.” I led my team past the hospital and over to the ship’s access panels.
“On these older ships there is conduit access that runs the length of the ship. The life support panel is supposed to be located at the center of the conduit. It can also be accessed via engineering through a heavily shielded hatch. This, is a shortcut.” I opened up the tube and climbed in.
The tube was very tight and we were at close quarters. We came to a T-junction.
Pointing to the right I said “ in that direction is medical.” I pointed the other way, “the armory, and weapons controls should be down there.”
Smoke and ash began to drift into the tube, making little swirls of dust. Life support was still functioning, if only barely. We reached a series of hatches on either side of the tube. One of these should be life support.
I could see a fire ahead of us in the direction of engineering.
“Jacobs, attach a heat sensor to the right hatch before you open it. Lets check for fire.” I watched as my crew gave Jacobs a little room. The sensor lit up with a red blinking light. “Crap. I sure hope that's not the room we need.” Motioning my crew to one side I checked the door. No lights. Jacobs gave the hatch a pull, it was either stuck or locked tight.
“Lieutenant Lee? We don't have access tools with us. I could go back and try to find some.” Jacobs looked worried.
Peering into the dimly lit room I said, “and here we are, life support.”
“Ma'am?” Jacobs and the other two team members looked puzzled. “How is it that YOU know the codes and all of that information about these ships?”
I sensed a teaching moment coming on. “Why don't you know these things? You knew what kind of ships we were approaching a full ten minutes before we docked. All of the schematics and codes for most civ ships are located in our data banks. You just have to look them up.”