(Taking place in the MLA series)
Just Another Job
The fence was a bit higher than Ty's ears (it was eight feet to be precise), and made from a durable, weather resistant metal. Hundreds of vertical bars had been driven into the ground at equal lengths apart, each used to connect the horizontal bars, located at the top and bottom that held the fence's main shape. There were spikes and barbed wire at the top of the fence, something Ty did not recognize so it must have been a recent addition. Ty reached a finger forward, and gently touched the metal, stroking it carefully. He was familiar with this fence. After all, he and his company had built it. And, as with most of his works, he felt a bit of pride when he beheld it functioning exactly the way it was supposed to. Some construction worker wanted to do something huge and big. They wanted to make skyscrapers larger than anyone else had, or make a new design for a building, or use glass and metal in some new interesting way that no one had ever thought of before. They wanted to go down in the history books for what they did. But Ty... Ty was just happy to see things work. He leaned forward, and gave the fence a little shake, and smiled when it didn't budge in the slightest. He was a big boy, after all. And having the fence take a shake like that, it made him happy.
Ty was a fairly large foxtaur, grey furred mostly with some white on his underside and face. Presently, he dressed in an orange shirt that marked him as an employee of Five Aces Construction, and a pair of specially tailored pants that covered his uniquely shaped torso. He had groomed himself at his boss' insistence. The Micro Nation was actually one of Five Aces Construction's largest contractors, and his boss didn't want any danger to this business relations.
Ty had been through this routine before. He bent his rear legs, and carefully sat down before the fence's entrance. He would have to wait for the micro escort to arrive before he could enter the premise. He checked his watch, noting that he was exactly on time, and was somewhat annoyed that the micro didn't show him the same respect.
In fact it was fifteen minutes later that a little mouse came scampering and running through the grass, the disturbance in the grass the only thing that alerted Ty to its presence. Ty lifted his hands, as was the policy, and stood on all four of his legs, stretching his legs wide apart. The mouse squeezed through a very small hole in the bottom of the fence, and came into the more trimmed grass that was outside the fence. Ty looked down and squinted as best he could, to notice the little micro who was riding the mouse as a mount. Maybe... a vixen... He couldn't really tell, all things considered.
On the micro's back was a voice amplifier. Ty tilted his ears forward to hear, leaning however closer he could without seeming hostile. "State your name," said the little speaker. "And show your credentials. And don't try anything. If I push the failsafe, our forces will swarm you... if you try anything."
Ty sighed, and his ears bent. "Relax, I've been here before. My name is Ty Vulpine." He reached into his pocket, retrieving his construction badge, that marked him both as an employee of Five Aces Construction, and registered to enter the Micro State. "Where's the captain? Usually he's my escort?"
"Captain Nine is occupied with business outside the state, sir."
"Then, may I ask your name?" He squinted again. She was definitely a canine, but lacking a viable scent, her voice filtered through the radio, and it being difficult to see her, he couldn't tell what exactly she was. Captain Nine rode a large, black rat which was easy to see against the grass. But the vixen on the mouse was practically invisible. He did briefly wonder if there were any helicopters, waiting to swarm at the first sign of trouble. If Captain Nine was gone, then the fleet had probably gone with him.
It didn't matter, really. Ty looked down at the duffle bag at his feet. "Uhm... ma'am... or possibly sir, what exactly is the job you need?"
"We don't have water through most of the city because... of something... that happened..."
Ty rolled his eyes. "Look, I need to know what caused the problem so that I can fix it. Can you get in touch with the captain or anything? He'll vouch for me."
"Uhm... n-no sir. I'm not at liberty to discuss what-"
"Forget it," Ty said, sighing. He squatted down, and picked up the large duffle bag, and hefted it over his shoulder so it was stretched across his back. Picking up the shovel and pickaxe he had also brought, he gestured to the fence. "Would you mind unlocking this?"
"Uhm... sir, it's not locked. Just flick the latch."
Ty looked down to latch that was on the fence. He slowly reached his free hand forward, hooking a finger under it, he lifted it carefully. To his surprise, the latch opened without any resistance. He gave the fence a push, and it slid open easily. "Son of a bitch, the captain always told me it was wired to shock whoever touched it."
The vixen's laughter sounded over the radio. The mouse squeezed through the hole in the fence and back inside the state, Ty following a few feet behind. If the mouse had to stop short, he didn't want to accidentally step on it and kill the mouse and vixen. He didn't really have a problem with micros, he never had. He wasn't exactly friendly with the micros of this state, but, strangely enough, they did send him a birthday card every year. Of course, that left him wondering how they not only knew his address, but also when his birthday was.
They walked mostly in silence. At first Ty followed the little mouse and vixen, until she asked him where he would have to go. Ty sighed, and explained that he would have to know what the problem was before he could do anything, to which the vixen admitted she didn't know either.
"We... uhm... we're all a little worried. We don't know... Most of our commanders have left. Just in case, we've moved most of the children to the underground bunkers, and we've been on high alert. We've been dealing with the lack of water for about three days now, hoping that one of the commanders would come back, but... we'll, we can't deal with it much longer. You've always been spoken highly of, so... uhm... yeah..."
Ty sighed. "Look, I don't want to cause any problems, but if I can go to the water tower, I might be able to figure out what the problem is. If I go over there though, I might be within sight of the main city, and I don't want to cause a panic. Can you contact the city and tell them I'll be working around there?"
"Uhm... yes... yes of course sir..."
Despite the fairly large amount of land that the micros had gotten as part of their treaty with the government, they mostly inhabited a small swath in the center. Well, small by Ty's standards, but he was a rather large foxtaur. The micros didn't need that much room of course, and perhaps they enjoyed the sense of community, gained from close proximity to each other. Their little houses and apartments were short, squat and fairly boxy, and clustered together rather tightly. It was fascinating to see them, even at the distance. Ty had never been allowed to venture this close. He maintained the perimeter fence or made additions to it, he made modifications to the little toy helicopters or their vehicles (despite his size, Ty was surprisingly dexterous with his paws), but only once, two years ago, had he ventured close to the city, and even then it had been under the guard of those little gun helicopters.
But he was here for business. Located about thirty yards from the city was a water tower, that stretched quite high into the air. It was large enough to support the micro city, as well as the outlying settlements and the few macro citizens who lived in the territory, all without a problem: the reservoir was refilled every night from a reservoir several miles away, also located in the micro's territory. Ty approached, and telling the vixen he'd be back in a while, he climbed the tower.
Ladders were not Ty's favorite part of this job. His unique shape meant that ladders weren't the easiest things in the world for him to handle, and his significant weight at times made it unnerving. He climbed, apprehensive at first, but when he realized that the tower had been well maintained, he began to check the piping as he climbed higher, inspecting it for some damage. And, coming to about three quarters of the way up, he found what he was looking for. A water tower worked by pressurization: the higher the elevation, the greater the pressure that was put on water, allowing for more efficient distribution of water. Ty noticed what the problem was: the pipe that transferred water from the reservoir to the water tower had been damaged. When the pump worked, the water simply pumped out of the pipe instead of even reaching the tower, and with the pressure escaping, the tower was not working how it should.
Serious construction would be required, but the little micros were thirsty, so a quick fix was in need. Ty climbed back down the ladder, and consulted his duffle bag of supplies. The vixen on her little mouse watched intently, perhaps afraid that Ty might pull out something to do damage to the nearby city. Wanting to be polite, he took out several tools and explained:
"The pipe has sprung a leak. I can't tell why at the moment, but hopefully with a proper investigation, we can figure it out, maybe change the material in the new pipes. But I should be able to do a temporary patch. This here is a type of tape that's used for plumbing. Waterproof. But given the high pressure, I'm also going to cover it with some of this... it's sort of like cement. The patch should handle the pressure, at least for the time being. When your leaders come back, they need to get in touch with the construction company, and we can replace the piping."
"OK," said the little vixen. "I... I'll tell them, when they come."
Snapping a belt and stuffing it with the supplies, he began to climb the tower once more. This was sure to be the hardest part. He climbed to the level of the leak in the pipe, and gripped the steps tight with his four rear paws. Wrapping one arm around the ladder, he held the tape in place as he coiled it around the pipe with his other, slowly working it around and around. When that was done, he gathered the tub of quick dry cement. Scooping some out with a trowel he took from his belt, he applied it over the tape, and then smoothed it out. The water pumps wouldn't activate for a few more hours. That should give the patch enough time to dry, and then, hopefully, water would flow back into the tower without a problem. Ty climbed down carefully.
"That patch should hold," Ty explained. "But tell everyone to fill jars with water, just in case. I'll put the order in for some new parts, and once your leaders get back, we can negotiate how they want to go about the construction. I know that macros need special clearance to get inside, but it might take four of us."
On the little mouse's back, the vixen nodded curtly. "One thing, sir. Is there any chance that this might have been sabotage? That someone might have somehow damaged the pipe?"
That had not even crossed Ty's mind, truth be told. But with the micros always under attack, always under the constant fear of getting trampled underfoot, he couldn't blame them having that thought. He gave the vixen a smile and a shake of the head. "Look, you don't let us come in for maintenance ever, and no matter how smart you are, this isn't your technology. Not to mention, it's much larger than you can handle. It's just wear and tear. I would like to talk to the captain about, maybe, letting me come by once a month or so. Under guard of course, but just so this sort of thing doesn't happen."
The vixen nodded her tiny head. She asked Ty if he could leave on his own, as she wanted to give the good news to the city. He nodded gently, gathered his supplies, and turned and began to walk away.
And yet, as Ty headed for the gate, he did find himself wondering. Perhaps it was just pride in his work, but a water tower shouldn't have broken apart like that...