Freefall 3711 - 3720 (D)
Freefall 3711

Sqid in the maintenance shop

I am Sam Starfall.
I'm Perth Hillman. The police chief told me you were coming out here. How can I help you?
I need information. Wait. The chief told you I was coming out here?
Yup. He also told me your code of honor keeps you from stealing from people who are helping you.
Which means my shop and I are now safe.
We seem to have gotten off on the right foot here. Any chance we could step back and try for a more adver­sarial relationship?

Color by George Peterson.

Freefall 3712

Sqid in the maintenance shop

Are you here to go through the training to work in the shop?
Winston and his father went out this morning. That left his mother and myself alone in the apartment. She's a transhumanist and is very interested in how I'm put together.
So you felt safer coming here and getting your qualifications done.
It did seem more productive than hiding under the bed all day.

Color by George Peterson.

Freefall 3713

Sqid in the maintenance shop

I'm surprised Winston's mom let you out of her grasp so easily.
I promised to go to the spa with her today. I checked first to make sure it wasn't clothing optional.
Well, yeah. Higher radiation, closed life support systems and long hours in a space suit lead to a lot of skin problems. Spacers want to be seen as tough and independent. The spa is a relaxed place where people can tell you “There's a funny spot on your back. Better get it checked out.”
Being allowed to wear clothes there would completely defeat the point.

Color by George Peterson.

Freefall 3714

Sqid in the maintenance shop

This is Florence, the artificial intelligence I was telling you about.
Pleased to meet you. Did you want go through our training and see if you qualify?
She's an engineer. She'll pass.
There is a difference between a technician and
an engineer.
The difference being the amount of time you get between making a mistake and the machine blowing up.
Technicians have the advantage. We normally get same day results.

Color by George Peterson.

Freefall 3715

Sqid in the maintenance shop

Florence, Niomi just took the training and will get you started. Niomi, after you get that done, I'll get you a partner for a job out in the field.
Let me give the other techs their assignments, then I'll have time to talk with you.
You're not bad at organizing things.
It's easy in a station that spins. If you really want to learn how to herd cats, do it in microgravity.

Color by George Peterson.

Freefall 3716

Sqid in the maintenance shop

I have everyone assigned to a job. Now, what did you want to know?
Why are
you and Mr. De Morel fighting?
The short answer is Mr. De Morel wants workers he doesn't have to pay.
As an employer myself, that idea is attractive.
But you
pay your employees.
One of my employees is a large carnivore. I consider it unwise to give her motivation to eat me.

Color by George Peterson.

Freefall 3717

Sqid in the maintenance shop

Niomi came to this station because the pay is good.
We're a long way
out and our job is dangerous. If you don't pay well, people will do safer jobs in more convenient locations.
For Mr. De Morel,
it makes labor more expensive. Robots will work for less and until recently, were consi­dered disposable.
You make running the station cost more. That simplifies things.
You're the bad guys.
I keep saying we need
black hard hats and fake mustaches to twirl, but it's hard to get something like that approved in the budget.

Color by George Peterson.

Freefall 3718

Sqid in the maintenance shop

Robots on the station would lower costs and make things better for everyone.
Except the robots.
Labor has worked hard over
many years for the conditions and benefits we enjoy. Part of that is looking out for the next generation. We have a responsibility to negotiate a good deal for those who come after us.
You're making it harder for me to see you as the bad guy.
Learning about both sides of a conflict does have that unfortunate side effect.

Color by George Peterson.

Freefall 3719

Sqid in the maintenance shop

Another factor is robots can't do this job. Not all of it. This station was designed and built by humans. There are some areas that are very hard to get to.
No robot yet has the physical agility to climb a vertical ladder, worm its way through wire bundles WITHOUT damaging them and then wedge itself between a pipe and a wall in order to troubleshoot a valve.
Why would anyone put a valve in such a location?
Two reasons. It looked good on the prints and the people who put it there knew they would never have to work on it themselves.

Color by George Peterson.

Freefall 3720

Sqid in the maintenance shop

This station was built to supply and manufacture material to move the moon for the terraforming project. When that job ended, the station has lost a major source of income.
Mr. De Morel knew long in advance that station revenue was going to go down and started making cuts. Very deep cuts that affected our operating condition.
So this has been going on for a while.
I hope you didn't think the station got this dilapidated
in just a couple of months. Entropy would need to be paid overtime and that's one of the first things that got cut.

Color by George Peterson.

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