Hellas Planitia Organizing Committee

The signs started appearing after they announced the Air Tax increase: on the walls outside the big commissaries, in the bathrooms, the vehicle bays, places workers go but Shareholders never see. Most of them were fairly restrained, civil, and they stayed up; nobody wanted to get fired, and management didn’t want to seem heavy-handed.

It wasn’t until they announced the pay increases — only two percent for contract full-timers, one percent for everybody else — that the signs started to get threatening. And instead of paper, they’d be painted right on the duroplast. Management couldn’t take them down, because it’d take a work crew, and the crews wouldn’t do it.

When Bobby McNeary was caught mid-application of a particularly incendiary slogan, and ended up beaten to within an inch of his life by Security (who were already exempt from the air tax and got a five percent bump in pay), things quickly got out of hand.

I don’t know if you saw video, but a riot at one-sixth Earth gravity is a bad idea, especially when people are swinging metal tools. I saw one hack get flipped end-over-end courtesy a steel pipe to the chin.

But at least they’re negotiating now.

SF Drabble #495: “The Big Thaw”

“How do you feel?”

She could hear the voice — a reassuring, male timbre — but it seemed distant, quiet, almost unintelligible. “What?” She tried in vain to raise her arms, wanting to push the tank open.

“Don’t move too much. You’re still weak, and the suspension drugs aren’t entirely out of your system.”

She relaxed, still floating, “Didn’t it work?”

The voice chuckled. “Nine out of ten ask that. What year were you tanked?”

“Tanked… I was… 2024? Cancer, I had cancer—”

“It’s 2378. Your cancer is gone. Welcome to Federated North America. I’m going to wheel you into recovery now.”

SF Drabble #494: “Breakdown”

“Nope”. He slid out from the access space, tools in hand. “Bone dry, and completely shot. There’s a crack in the housing all the way from the forward mounting plate to the second amplification ring. The coolant’s probably pooled at the bottom of the space between the inner and outer hulls.”

“So we’re dead in the water?”

He sat up. “We could seal the crack, temporarily, pump the coolant back in. Four days? And that’ll buy us one jump, maybe two.”

“The closest repair station is six jumps away.”

“How close to Woolie territory are we?”

“Don’t sneeze too loud.”