Supply & Demand

16 05 2007

Clerk

"…Nassimatissi was Quartermaster-Alpha for Outpost Alpha-3. He was the first to calculate and vocalise that, if things kept going the way they were; the colonial equipment continually being subjected to dust-related breakdowns, they wouldn’t have the propensity to expand at a rate requisite to an operational colony of that size.

The first stocks to rapidly drop in number were seals and filtration sleeves for the heavy movers. The KOVTARs kept throwing their actuator seals after gear aggravation by the dust, not to mention the maintenance they required after a few days out on the surface. The M-1010 catepillar tractors had a poorly designed engine manifold, at least for this landscape, which led to the fleet of twenty being garaged while the defects were patched up, dust-proofed and spot-welded. Stopping damage from happening was one thing, repairing what had already occurred was another.

…Nassimatissi hoped that the supply frame had more welding rods stowed within its silent bays. Vacuum caulk would stop a starship from turning inside out, but it wasn’t enough to put together an outpost or keep the ground fleet operational."

We were working in the plant room when we saw the Colony’s QA – I couldn’t remember his name, but Mierhof insisted it was Nassimatissi. He was with QA4, too, of course. Oddly, Alpha-4’s Quartermaster noticed us, but Nassimatissi did not.

We couldn’t eavesdrop in the plant room, of course, not near the massive carbon filters. The Quartermasters were walking between the filters, inspecting each of the spheres before moving to the next. There were sixteen spheres in this plant room, for Alpha-3’s hydroponic dome, each sphere easily the height of two men. The Quartermasters seemed to be checking the filtration: maybe someone got sick from the food, or maybe, with plans to connect each Outpost and our mining operations, we were running out of carbon, too.

Mierhof didn’t care – he seemed to think that, with our mining operations setting up, the Quartermaster-Alpha had better things to do than micromanage the hydroponic filtration of each Outpost of the Colony.

But I cared, because Nassimatissi, who had become somewhat of a celebrity across these fractured microcommunities, was not as impassive as he’d been made out. His face was furrowed, even when examining something as trivial as these carbon filters, with the edge of worry.

We had only five weeks to go until our supply ship arrived. They said that when Alpha A set, through a telescope, you could see the glow of the ship decelerating. People were excited, for different reasons: either for the resources, raw or prefabricated, which would ease the current bottleneck; or, more disturbingly, for the lifeboat the supply ship represented.

Our colony pods, now the center of our Outposts and the source of our warmth and light, would never again see the Quoqasi which bore them to this place. But the supply ship represented a second interstellar engine, and a second cargo module.

Many had begun to feel that all of our setbacks and problems were pandemic, and emblematic of what was to logically come next: a dieback, mass death caused by the collapse of life-support loops or a reactor accident or an impactor. These were the people who saw the supply ship as a lifeboat to Sol.

I cared – no, I worried – only because Nassimatissi seemed resigned, even defeated. And that suggested he was one of these latter.

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