Before entering the control room for the reactor test chambers, engineers went through a rigorous process of decontamination. Complete removal of all clothing and jewelry. A mandatory 10 minute shower with antibacterial foam soap. New clean-suits fresh out of vacuum sealed bags with elastic seals around the wrists and ankles. Gloves, hoods, goggles and masks, all carefully secured in place at the start of every single shift. While it was a chore, everyone understood how important it was not to spoil the data from the groundbreaking lab work happening inside the facility.
So it was an utter surprise when, one chilly October morning, 13 millimeters of foreign fluid spilled down into the fusion core. And even more surprising when the reactor stabilized with a monumental output. This incident was the foundation of the modern age of Soft Fusion. Were it not for this instance of contamination, we wouldn't have the bountiful supply of energy that we've come to rely on. The official story is that the fluid was a specialized synthetic oil that was developed by an elite team of secretive rogue scientists who jumped the gun and tested their product without clearance. But the staff who were there that day all know no such secret team existed. They know that the fluid wasn't oil, it was a soy milk pumpkin spice latte. They know that Kim spilled a coffee and accidentally saved the world.
But every morning as they strip and scrub and suit and seal, they think about the things they don't know. How in the hell did Kim get a coffee all the way inside? Why did Kim even try? And perhaps most hauntingly, how long until the secret gets out and every barista realizes they're practically sitting on all the parts for a fusion reactor?
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