Finley read the notice boards of the ship’s looking for workers on Armstrong station. There was a heavy transport hauling large farm animals from Earth to Mars. They needed a general worker, aka. A shit shoveler.

But Finley was an enviro mechanic, fixing hydroponics to the transduce drive and tweaking gravity generators.

There- quick money, short stint, needing a mechanic. Oh, a Sunchaser. Those crazy bastards going after solar flares to catch the energy released. The Earth Alliance always needed more power. The startup terawattage on a deep space vessel was enormous.

She reread the information, shrugging. It was by far the best option and she was low on funds. Finley headed for the docking berth.

Stepping into the large docking area, she looked for the berth number. Finding it, she saw a guy in coveralls, dark hair, thin, leaning on the inside of the ramp.
Such a strange looking ship. She knew the collectors were sunk down onto the ship until deployment. The huge storage capacitors, the small batteries, to collect every bit of energy, were scattered all over the outside of the ship like freckles and warts.

“How can I help you?” he drawled.

“You the captain?” He nodded. “I’m here for the mechanic’s position.”


She handed over the chip. He scanned it and nodding. “Welcome aboard, I’m Seba.”

She followed him into the ship, ducking low hatchways. “Bunks there.” He pointed to four bunks, stacked two by two on the near bulkhead. A small table in front of that and a kitchen unit beside it. Finley tossed her small bag on the one unowned bunk.

A short ladder down toward the middle of the ship. “I’m the pilot as well. This is the engine room. You’ll need to keep it cool. We’ve had problems with overheating. It’s no problem now, but closer to the sun, it heats up in here mighty quick.”

“This is Laura and Baker. They’ll be snapping out the collectors when it’s time and shifting capacitors before they blowout.”

Finley nodded to each. A stout woman and an even stouter man. It looked like they saved money and space by using manual power to pop the panels into place.

“All right. I’ll get us undocked and on the way while you Finley can familiarize yourself with the engine.”

She nodded. They left her alone with the engine. She checked the temperature it was running at now, nominal, and then studied layout.

It took days to travel in system toward the sun. Seba dropped the front screen early to block radiation and heat. Even with it, Finley, soon stripped down to her tanktop and her coverall arms tied at her waist.

Peeking over the stairs she saw the bunk room and beyond to the pilot’s cabin. Along both sides of the engine room ran thin corridors, for Laura and Baker to muscle out the capacitors. They would get cabin fever stuck in such cramped space for longer than a month.

They were practicing deployment, and Finley heard the effort as they worked. Seba sat at the pilot’s seat watching the deployment from cameras and his readouts.

Finley dumped the excess heat out of the ship. Laura came and sat on the stairwell on the engine room. “Woo.” She took a towel from Baker and wiped the sweat off her muscular arms. “I feel I’m getting slower.”

“Not slower. Just older.” Baker said walking by.

Laura took the towel and spun it around itself before snapping it. A solid whack and he jumped at the contact. “Watch who you’re calling old.”

They were interrupted by Seba. “Ready, collectors!”


“CME detected. I’m getting us into position. Move.”

He increased the engine output. She could feel it as he dipped the ship. Laura and Baker moved. Finley, watched the redline. Increasing too fast. She dumped the excess heat again. Sweat beading, soon to be dripping. Seba sat hunched over his controls.

“It’s almost on us! Hurry up!”

Laura yelled, “Finley, get up here!”

Finley tripped over the first step, using her hands to propel her to the corridor. Laura set Finley’s hands on the crank and she went off to work the smaller ones.

“Come on!” Seba yelled.

“Done!” yelled Baker.

Laura was back as Finley’s crank clanged to a stop, deployed. “Done!”

Finley raced back, to dump out the heat again.

She felt the ship thrum as the collectors took in the energy.

“That’s it!” Seba yelled.

“Did we get it?” Baker stumped into the bunk area meeting the rest of them.
Seba grinned. “Did we ever. We are at ninety-eight percent in that one go.”

“That was crazy.” Endless days of waiting and then five minutes of intensity.

“Want to do it again?” Seba asked.

“Oh hell yeah.”

The science article that inspired this story: Sun Fires Off Biggest Solar Flare in More than a Decade