As an Atmospheric Technician (or Life Support Specialist), what you do is rather simple. Firstly, you get the station's Atmospherics up and running. Secondly, if there is any sort of environmental disaster, head off and fix it! You have your tools, your engineering headset, two types of pipes, several space heaters, and atmospheric survival equipment. When things get quiet, sit back and start your own little projects, usually consisting of repiping Atmospherics to get a minor efficiency increase, or just going hog wild on the Mad Atmospherics Science - typically the
workplace hazard efficient power source known as the Thermoelectric Generator.
This is your home. This is your motherland. Atmosia loves you, and you love Atmosia. Treat her right, and she'll never leave you hanging.
Atmosia is a vast, mostly empty land of pipes and various bits of atmospheric regulation equipment. Here, you'll find the pipes that distribute gas to the rest of the station, the means to control that gas, the supplies to keep that gas moving, breathable, and on the station rather than out in the vacuum of space, and the computers that will let you monitor the atmosphere on the whole station.
At first glance, the tangled mess of pipes that is Atmosia proper can seem intimidating. Don't let that frighten you. Atmosia is not nearly as confusing as she seems - and she is well worth the effort.
Your job is air. You keep the station breathing. Without you, the Cyberiad would suffocate while sucking on hard vacuum. Or freeze to death. Or die of depressurization. Or catch on fire. Or poison itself with plasma. Or any number of gas-related deaths.
In more specific terms, though, you have a few primary duties: keeping the station's atmospheric systems running at full capacity and taking care of any specific atmospheric problems that pop up on the station. This means that you refill areas that have been depressurized, drain areas that have overpressurized, filter out toxic gases, fight fires, and maintain breathable air supplies throughout the station. See the Guide to Atmospherics for more details. Use Maintenance for some helpful info on cable/pipe/disposal placement. Additionally, as the person in control of the station's gas tanks, it is you who will be called on when an experienced or suicidal engineering team decides to use a custom gas mix to cool the Supermatter Engine.
Repressurizing an area that has lost some of its atmosphere is the most common task you'll face as an Atmospheric Technician. Areas undergo gradual depressurization when something exposes them to the cold void of space, be it through a broken wall, window or bit of flooring. This causes the atmosphere in the area surrounding the breach to seep out into space, with the speed increasing in direct proportion to the size of the breach. As such, a single broken window will take some time before it fully depressurizes a room (even though it will be unbreathable in quite short notice), but a massive breach means the atmosphere will be gone in seconds to one or two minutes.
In addition, being exposed to the cold vacuum of space also drastically reduces the temperature of affected areas. This can cause severe freezer burns if you happen to be on or near them. As such, having Engineering fix these breaches, or fixing them yourself, should be your number one priority.
After you've taken care of a hull breach, it'll be your job to refill the area and make it breathable and liveable once again. This can be done by using the Air Alarms mounted on the walls in most areas (or by accessing the Air Alarms remotely via the Central Atmospheric Computer). Atmosia, fortunately, is largely self-regulating; after a hull breach is sealed, the vents on the station will automatically begin replacing lost air as long as the pipes to the vents in the area are undamaged. This process is rather slow, however, so you'll mainly be called on when the area in question is critical or high-traffic, such as Medbay, and you need it to be breathable now. Should the piping be damaged, rebuilding it to its default state is not necessary. All you need is for vents and scrubbers to be inside the room, and for their piping to be connected to the main pipe network.
Remember, new vents and scrubbers remain off unless you turn them on and set their options via the room's Air Alarm!
You have a variety of tools to aid you in repressurizing areas that have lost their air. The most critical of these are portable air pumps, air canisters, which can simply be opened to allow air back into the room at an increased rate, and the Refill mode of air alarms, which increases vent output.
Filtering and Depressurizing
Less commonly, you'll be called on to filter out toxins from the air or drain an area that's become overpressurized. Removing excess atmosphere from a room is as simple as accessing the Air Alarm and selecting the Draught setting (or Panic Siphon in extreme cases), then waiting for it to go back to green before switching back to Filtering.
Getting rid of harmful gases, on the other hand, is usually more morose. The Air Alarm Scrubber definitions make it so they filter out anything that isn't breathable air, but it might not be enough. Air Scrubbers can be used to get rid of harmful gases, but if the spill is very large, you might have to resort to Panic Siphon, Replace, or Contaminated settings, the third of which is typically the best - Panic Siphon in particular replaces the danger of harmful gases, solvable with internals, with the danger of low pressure, which requires EVA-capable suits. Remember to keep people out of the room as long as you're working. And if it's a plasma spill, be damn sure there's nothing around that can set it off - your Rapid Pipe Dispenser has a chance to spark! Turn off the lights if you have to (unless you're planning on burning off the plasma, which is extremely dangerous and shouldn't be attempted in anything but the most extreme cases or by experienced Atmospheric Technicians).
There's a fire! Quickly, PANIC!
In all seriousness most fires are rather minor and usually peter out (or eat through the floor and thus fix themselves) before you even realize they were there, but for larger, suistained fires, such as those caused by plasma leaks (typically caused by failed Atmosian projects) or special anomalies, you have a few different options:
- Regular old Fire Extinguishers and lots and lots of water. This will only work if the fire is small enough, and won't fix the heat issue;
- The backpack tank inside your Locker. This is a specialized backpack capable of firing three different chemicals - Nanofrost, a compound that immediately stops plasmafires by replacing the plasma with nitrogen, though it also freezes vents and scrubbers shut, however, which can impede the follwoing cleanup; water, which is rather self explanatory, and metal foam, which after a brief delay solidifies into a fragile but airtight wall;
- Regular old Atmosia. You can use the Atmospherics Central Computer to remotely access the Air Alarm(s) of the area(s) affected, allowing you to Panic Siphon them, or swap around the default values so suddenly a whole bunch of Nitrogen (an inert gas) is being pumped, choking the flames out. Be aware, if you tinker with the Air Alarm's default values, make sure to reset them after the fire is dealt with;
- If the fire is sufficiently large, and the plasma spill severe enough, using the Axe to break open the whole room and expose it to the vacuum of space also works in drastic situations. However, this also means that the whole room will then be depressurized, and will also require a lot of repairs
When it comes to actually resisting the flames, your Atmospheric Hardsuits and Atmospheric Firesuits are 100% immune to fire, so as long as you keep your internals on, the flames can't do anything to you.
Total Emergency: The Fire Axe and You
The fire axe is your tool of choice during emergencies, since you can use it like jaws of life to open even powered doors, break windows in one hit and use it as an incredibly powerful melee weapon. Just keep in mind that you have to be holding it with both hands to use it properly (click on it while you're holding it to do this). Because it's so dangerous and it doesn't fit in a backpack or satchel, it should usually be left in its case in the computer room. If you have to carry it, though, use a multitool to get it out of its case. Just be aware that, once it's out, everybody wants to get their hands on it. Security will probably want to know why you grabbed it, too, so make sure to only use it when absolutely necessary, and return it to the case afterwards for safekeeping.
Atmospherics is already sensitive work, and it's just complex enough that people who don't know how it works themselves will generally let you do what you say needs to be done rather than question you when there's an Atmospherics alert in the area. This gives you all sorts of opportunity for shenanigans, such as breaking into places and claiming you "need to check Atmos". Beyond that, you can sabotage the entire station's air supply very, very easily if you know what you're doing - but do it carefully, because you'll be one of those most under suspicion. You have easy access to plasma and other harmful substances as well, so flamethrowers are most definetely an option. With a bit of inventiveness, you can do a lot of damage. And if you need to use brute force to achieve your goals, the fire axe is an incredibly robust melee weapon, capable of detaching entire limbs and turning happy, vertical spacemen into dead, horizontal ones. Your fireproof hardsuit lets you burn stacks of plasma sheets with a welding tool with impunity, incinerating surrounding areas in plasma fires.