“Mortan, this has got to be the single dumbest idea you have ever had.”
Mortan stopped tugging on the wrench affixed to the valve. “Wait. I thought coming here was the single dumbest idea I have ever had,” he replied with a grunt.
“Nah, we crashed here, so I think you get a pass on that. Well… depending on how this idiotic scheme plays out, of course.”
“See Georgio, that’s why I married you; your compassion.”
Georgio lifted his binoculars to his face, looking down the path of the water line that led from the pump system back into the hills. “Nope, you can’t sweet talk your way out of KP duty at camp tonight, sweetheart.” With the binoculars still to his eyes Georgio fumbled in his jumpsuit pocket and pulled out a small communicator. “Camp, this is the pump station. Do you copy?”
“Loud and clear, pump station,” came the reply over a hint of static. “We were getting worried you two were taking advantage of the privacy out there.”
“That’s a negative, camp. I have to wake up to his mug every morning. Takes some of the magic out of it, now.”
“Hey,” Mortan exclaimed with one final big tug of his wrench. “Don’t think I won’t remember that remark tonight.”
“Georgio turned to his husband; “you better.” Putting down the binoculars he tapped a few buttons on the pump control and read over the gauges. “I take it back, if this works.”
“It’ll work; you’ll see,” Mortan answered. He tugged a little at the valve, happy it wouldn’t budge easily, and hopped down from the flow assembly. He looked back over the cliff to the barren empty dry land that stretched out toward the horizon. The ringed planet Epison was just coming over the mountain line with the very hint of Pixus – it’s other moon – just beyond it.
“You know,” Georgio said as he stepped up to see the view with Mortan, “it’s a pretty sight… despite, you know, being on one of the ugliest, most lonely rocks in the whole galaxy.”
“For better or worse, dear,” Mortan retorted. “I’m so sorry about ripping you from your aristocratic life at the university, but some successes take actual work. I got this whole thing mapped out; the water from the mountain river below Watt’s Peak comes out at 3200PSI per second. Pump station one sends it out to pump two where the cannons concentrate and aim that force. The collection pumps divert the flow off the side of the hills and into the filter stations along the line. They catch all the minerals we’re looking for and this final pump pulls the waste sludge out here, away from the whole thing.”
A crackle from the communicator interrupted them. “Hey, we have action on the line; the pump ready to go?”
The two men walked over to the pumping system. “Well,” Georgio said with a smirk, “it’s your little brainy scheme, you should have the honors.”
With a sarcastic smile at Georgio, Mortan flipped a pair of switches. The gauges all jumped erratically for a moment as a metallic scratching sound came out of the pump; shuttering as it eagerly pulled down the line. Georgio was sure it was his imagination, but he could almost tell where all the sludge was by where the huge pipeline lurched every so slightly. As the sludge hit the pump and was kicked back out the exhaust end and over the cliff the whole of the pump sudden started to hum with a constant fluidness.
Mortan held out his had as the muck spewed out onto the empty plain. “Ta-da! No more drudging slew lines for hours on end.”
“I dub thee,” Georgio said mockingly – as if holding a sword to the ground – ‘Drudge Falls’.”
A crackle from the communicator interrupted them. “Pump, this is camp! Hole-EE shit! Stations two and three are already filled and one is backing up. We… we got gold, copper, and iron; more than a week’s worth of drudging could have ever turned up! Hot damn, I’m glad you talked us into wasting a whole month of work on this, Mortan!”
Georgio stepped up to Mortan.“You’re insufferable when you’re being smart, you know that, right?” He lifted the communicator; “Camp this is pump. We’re going to be taking advantage of that privacy now. ETA…” He turned to look at Mortan. “Oh, at least an hour. Over and out.” Hooking his arm around his husband, he switched off the communicator and tossed it aside. “Well, looks like the worse is over. So, show me the better, now.”