Friday, 10 April 2009

A Colony On Mars : Chapter 17

. Friday, 10 April 2009

CHAPTER – Mars Supply Two Docks
May 22, 2108: The next ship arrived, Thelma and Walter announced
their retirement on Rusty's nightly news show and announced that Carter
Fredrick would be taking Thelma's place and that Paul Silverman would be
replacing Walter Potts, as Facility Director .
That didn't set well with Tim, “I am the new Superintendent of
Construction and Paul is the new Facility Director and we are in cahoots on a
slightly shady business deal. We will never speak to Paul of this deal again.
We will just take our money out of the Swiss account in periodic small amounts
and forget I ever found those damned rocks, Carla.”

Tim, Carla Paul and Carter greeted the arrivals to Mars and gave them
the tour. On the tour Tim pointed out the entrance to Paradise. He told them
that this tunnel leads about eight hundred feet to the most beautiful cavern on
Mars. The cavern is so beautiful that we have decided to set it aside for
recreational purposes. Had you rather explore Paradise on your own after I
show you around or do you want to tour it now?” There was some mumbling
among the new arrivals but the consensus seems to have been that they would
prefer to explore Paradise on their own. They were more interested, at the
moment in seeing where they would be working, eating and sleeping.
There was only one real surprise passenger that arrived on the ship.
Rusty introduced him as, “Charles Rasmussen, do you prefer Charles or
Chuck?” Rusty asked. “I prefer Charley,” Rusty went on to tell the viewers that
Charley worked for Super Stores. He was sent as a site locater for a new
Super Store. “ I am here to pick out a site for a temporary store and to have an
early choice for a prime location in Cavern City when that becomes available.
We need the temporary location just to have a place to store all the
merchandise that is aboard this ship and that will be aboard all future ships.”
Once the store is open I will stay on as the manager. The only other Super
Store employees that came with me on this ship are two retail managers.
Additional Company employees will arrive on future flights. I would also like to
tell your viewers that Super Stores is hiring. I know there are not many people
on Mars looking for work but anyone who is nearing completion of their
commitment and wants to stay on the planet could do a lot worse than to figure
Super Stores into their future plans.”
“Within six to eight weeks we expect to have the temporary store open
for business. Before you even ask the answer is yes, Super Store is one of the
principals in Mars Colony, Inc. and before you ask the answer is No we do not
expect to make a profit from this store for many years, if ever. Just like Burger
Boy's we are here for the publicity and the good news for you folks our prices
will not exceed the highest price that we sell a given item for on Earth, plus, of
course an additional freight surcharge.”
“We are aware of the situation on Mars, that you have very few people,
you are making lots of money and you have no place to spend it. We are also
aware that your household's are lacking almost everything we sell.”
Rusty interviewed his guest and the two employees of Super Store for a
couple minutes then announced
“We have some more news that we just learned today. The U.S.
Government has just christened the new space ship Mars Runner. It is as large
as Mars Supply One and Mars Supply Two combined. It will cut travel time
between Earth and Mars by as much as 65%. It will start arriving here from
three to five times a year, with the first arrival scheduled for Late December of
this year. The two existing Mars Supply Ships have been sold to Mars Colony
Inc. and will be strictly commercial vessels from now on. We have just been
supplied with two new Shuttle aircraft bringing our fleet to five planes. We will
need that size fleet to unload Mars Runner when it gets here in December. The
next arrival of a Mars Supply ship will get in here around the middle of
September. So if you need to order anything from Earth do it now if you want it
in September, you still have a few days to get a rush order in.”
The Mars supply ships followed a policy of loading all priority items first
then loading the rest of the available space on the ship with wood. On Mars
there was always a critical shortage of wood of all kinds.
May 23, 2108: Tim visited the farm. The first crops had just been
harvested. The grow lights were all hung so that they could be raised or
lowered as needed for various crops. The four farmers were busy but Abner
took a few minutes to talk to Tim. There is one more thing I need Tim, Abner
said, “There is this a construction worker who we have been reluctant to
release because he has been of so much help to us, he still is, he cares for the
animals and takes that burden off of us so we can manage the crops. This is
the man, Darwin Stead, what are the chances of having Darwin pertinently
assigned to the farm?” Tim approved the reassignment on the spot. Then
Abner continued, “We will also need a couple more bedrooms and another
bathroom added to the house do Darwin can marry his finance, Helen, and
remain near the animals in his care.” “Sure,” Tim added, you can use the
people now assigned or Just show up at muster in the morning and I will assign
a crew for the room additions.”
As soon as Tim left Darwin and Abner went back into the Lab and lit up a
smoke, “See what did I tell you Darwin, it was a piece of cake. I knew you were
good people the minute you handed me that little box of seeds.”
May 24, 2108: Tim mentioned to Hal before the morning muster “We will
need to install the new generator in a hot area that has running water nearby. I
don't know of any other spots like that in The Company cavern or the
Government cavern. We have checked Paradise cavern for hot spots. There
are some that might work but their location would detract from the beauty of the
cavern and the recreation center. Worse case scenario we could locate the
new generator right beside the old one but then we would have the problem of
running the lines too far to get electricity where we need it.” Carter made his
decision, “ We are only using about thirty percent of the power we are now
generating. I want to take a look at the next cavern before doing anything. We
still have the original diesel generator on standby.”
Tim then told Hal, “The new ship arrival has brought atmosphere alarms
and emergency closures that would drop down when mounted in a tunnel if the
pressure at one end became lower than at the other end. People could still get
through these emergency closures but once the last person was safely through
the seal could be made permanent. A little atmosphere would still be lost but
the closures would give them time to install air locks while the air was still
breathable.” Hal promised that the new safety items would be installed within
the week.
The sensor on the atmosphere making apparatus constantly read the
atmosphere from various spots and adjusted the output accordingly. The
atmosphere in the caverns was not exactly like that of Earth because it was
basically just nitrogen and oxygen which meant that it could be made from
water and mineral nitrates. In the caverns it seemed to improve the
atmosphere to keep it a little higher in oxygen than on Earth. Earth's
atmosphere contains a little CO2 and so does the atmosphere in the caverns
because without any CO2 plants would not grow and photosynthesis would not
work and without nitrates plants could not grow. Growing plants require nitrates
in the soil to enable them to feed nitrogen into the atmosphere.
May 25, 2108: Tim held the afternoon muster. As promised the
Company had sent three hundred more workers on the Mars Supply Two. This
brought the total company workforce to over 900. The new men didn't show up
because Hal had given a week to get settled in. There were only about 50
workers that did show up but Tim just didn't have enough jobs lined up to keep
them all busy. There were no work orders on the board, Tim had checked. All
the other crews were already working on jobs they had been assigned.
There was another thousand fruit tree seedlings that needed to be
planted so lacking anything better to say Tim told half of the men to take the
seedlings over to the new orchard in the Paradise cavern which would
henceforth be referred to as the orchard. “See if Sue or Dan can put you to
work. “If Sue and Dan don't have any work for you check with Abner at the
farm, if he doesn't need you then you can check in with supply and see if they
have anything to keep you busy. The remaining twenty five men he sent to the
supply yard to help the supply yard crew. What we need, Tim thought to
himself is an administrative assistant to keep track of all these workers and all
the projects and jobs that need to be done.
Abner called Tim and told him that he could use twenty five or thirty
people the next day at the orchard to plant the new trees but they were not
ready to do anything with them yet. Abner said that the people had brought the
trees over to the orchard. We are rigging some temporary grow lights at the
orchard and preparing top soil, we have plenty of help for that. “Send the
planters tomorrow morning, Tim.”
May 29, 2108: All three hundred of the new workers showed up for the
morning muster along with 150 of the regular crews that had finished the
projects they had been working on. Once the workers had assembled Tim
asked if any of them had tree planting experience. Twenty people held up their
hands, will you people report to the orchard, they have some trees that need to
be planted. If anyone here knows of any jobs that need tending to you can go
and get to work now. In a day or two we will have some kind of a table of
organization working, it won't always be this disorganized. For today the rest of
you can go to the supply yard and help get that organized. If any of you see
anything constructive that needs to be done then feel free to do it today. You
new arrivals can plan on March 30, being your first regular workday. Hal just
stood there behind Tim and didn't say a word.
“I need two other volunteers this morning, one person that is
exceptionally skilled with computers to fill a systems administrator position that
we have open, the other is for a person to do data input. The person that we
want for data input should have extensive experience at data base
management. If you are interested in either of these positions please see me
after this muster. Tomorrow things will be different. After the majority of the
workers had all departed Tim told the tree planters to elect a leader then go to
the farm manager at the orchard and tell him that you are there to plant trees.
Tim felt a little embarrassed that this mornings muster had been so
Once the tree planters left to go to work nine people remained. Tim
turned his attention toward them. “I assume you nine are the ones interested in
the computer jobs.” They all nodded their heads in assent. “Lets go over to the
dining room and get a cup,” Tim said as he turned and headed for the mess
hall. All nine traipsed along behind. Tim walked in, filled his cup and seated
himself at a long table for ten. He appeared to have his attention focused
elsewhere but was surreptitiously keeping an eye on the body language of his
five volunteers. One by one the volunteers poured a cup of coffee and took a
seat at the table. Tim started “I would like to have you folks decide between
yourselves who should have these two positions. I can tell you that we have
had the same systems administrator for the last ten years. She finished her
contract with the Government and is departing on the Mars Supply Two to
return to Earth. She will have about three days to break in her replacement.
The Government abolished her position so the Company authorized me to fill it
with a Company employee. *
“The data base management and data input job is a new position. The
person selected should have enough experience to establish a data base of the
twelve hundred people that now work for the Government and for the Company.
It should be arranged so that if I want twelve plumbers you can print out a list of
all plumbers with a thumbnail on each of them so I can just call the ones I want
that I think are the best qualified for the job I have in mind. If Carter, the
Company Manager wants to know the cubic footage of the new Paradise
cavern you can provide him with that information right away. In short I would
like all of the information on this facility and the personnel that are employed
here at our fingertips. How you handle the selections are up to you. You will
just have to talk it out and decide among yourselves who among you could best
handle these jobs. I will be back in an hour or so to see how you are making
out. If you make your selections before I get back call me on your cell phone.”
With that Tim got up and left the room. Before he went out the door he
looked back, they were all just sitting there with a dumbfounded look on their
faces. They had never heard of a job selection process that worked this way.
When he was out the door he called Hilda on her phone. “Hilda, I need a
favor, I left nine people sitting near your desk in the back of the dining room. I
told them to .... Tim described the situation. “ Would you go sit at your desk for a
few minutes and work on some paper work and just listen in on them? If you
can spare Carla invite her to your desk also. You two can ostensibly be
discussing menu's or something.” “Sure, Tim, I am going to enjoy this, I have
never heard of anything like it in my life, I am already eaten up with curiosity to
see how it turns out. “
Finally one of the women in the group said, “Well I suppose the first order
of business is to decide who is here for which job. Why don't those of you
interested in becoming system administrator move over to the next table.” With
that three men and one woman got up and moved to the next table. Two of
them refilled their coffee cups before sitting down. Of the remaining five people
four were women and one was a man. The woman who had instigated the
move commenced.
“My name 'Doris Rimbot,' I have a BA in business management from
Carver college, my minor was in computer science. I am married, my husbands
name is Ralph, he also works on the construction crew.” She said he was dead
set on this job because of the money and he just coerced her into coming
along. I don't know anything about construction but I have worked with data
base management systems for the last five years. I would very much like to get
out of laying cement blocks and digging in the mud.” At that point the man in
the group said lots of luck lady, he then got up and left the table. The other four
women just sat there. One of them started to say something then thought
better of it, got up wished the others luck, and left. None of the other three
wanted the job as badly as Doris did and apparently none of them considered
themselves as well qualified. “I guess you get the job, Doris,” one of them said.
Another said, “I would love to have this job but I am no where near as qualified
as you are Doris so I am withdrawing,” “Me too” said the last one. Doris
pressed the blue button on her phone and said “CALL Tim Erkin.” she got a
busy signal so she poured herself another cup of coffee.
The situation was almost the same at the other table. A wimpy little
prematurely balding man named “Surge Yugolov” turned out to be so much
better qualified than the others at computer technology that the other three
capitulated in a matter of minutes. Surge pushed the blue button on his phone
but before he could say anything Tim came through the door.
“Congratulations to you two, Surge and Doris, I am pleased to have you
aboard. Please meet me at the Government Headquarters Office1400. I will
show you around and introduce you to the rest of the staff. Neither Doris nor
Surge ever found out how Tim had gotten their names. It was pretty simple, as
soon as Carla knew the names she left Hilda's desk returned to the kitchen and
called Tim. She was the one talking to Tim when Doris got here busy signal
and invitation to leave voice mail.
Tim then went to his office, but before he could get in the door Carter
and Paul collared him and invited him to lunch at the Government dining room.
During lunch Tim briefed them and they briefed him on all the latest
developments on the facility.
Tim brought them up to date on construction, the tunnelers should
celebrate another breakthrough some time this week. And we will have a new
cavern to tame.
*I need to group the nine hundred people that we now have into work
crews so I have hired a person to set up and manage a data base for us. While
I was at it I found the systems administrator that you said you need, Paul. I
didn't think you would object to me making the selection since the Government
is no longer funding the position. If we ever become critically short of
construction workers I can always pull him but until that time comes he is yours.
Both of these people will be at headquarters at 1400 and I will introduce them
around. Maybe you can ask Alice to show Serge the ropes before she departs
next week. This new girl, Doris is pretty sharp so hopefully by next week she
will have enough of the data base set up to organize the construction crews.”
Until we breakthrough and tame Utopia we are going to have a lot of
surplus labor on our hands so if either of you can think of a project that will keep
people occupied let me know. There were seven hundred or more people
showed up this morning for assignments so after putting half of them to work I
just told the rest to go over and get the supply yard squared away. That has
been my day so far.”
“Paul and Carter just laughed.”Paul said we discussed establishing a
legal system with a police department, courts, judges, laws and everything.
Then we discussed the mess we have at City Hall and what we need to do to
straighten that out. Then we decided we better notify the Government to send
up several surveying crews. We also discussed the need to have an elected
Government to handle local issues, you know like a city counsel or something.
Nothing is firm yet on any of that but we'll keep you posted.
After lunch Tim had a chance encounter with the head of the
Government Scientists. “I have a question for you George, It's about Ivy, Abner
says it will grow anywhere there is an ordinary lit cavern and it doesn't need
special grow lights.” “If it does? Tim, I don't see how it would enrich our
atmosphere because without the grow lights it could not photosynthesize.”
“But,” answered Tim,”if it didn't photosynthesize, how could grow?” “Good
question, is Abner growing ivy now that is not exposed to grow lights?” “Yes, I
have seen them, they were just little half Inch shoots but they were bright
green.” “I'll check into it and let you know.”
At 1400 Tim met with the two new computer people at headquarters. He
introduced Doris and Serge to the rest of the staff. Tim then assigned Doris to a
computer station and showed her how to access the data base manager
program and the available data that was now scattered in various places on the
drive. “Hopefully I will have enough of a data base put together in the next few
days that you can select work crews based on any criteria you like.” “Hal
Johnson, my assistant will be using the data more than I will, he is the one that
will be assigning the crews. I will be more interested on the projects that we are
working on and how they are progressing. That proved to be all the instruction
that Doris ever required. After about a week Doris was able to give anyone in
management a list of anything they wanted in just a couple minutes. Everything
began running more smoothly.
With the size of Paradise cavern plus the Government cavern and the
Company cavern Tim found that he was spending most of his time moving from
one place to another. Tim thought what I need is a golf cart to get around in, I
am going to have to mention that to Carter next time I see him. Tim made a
note to ask Carter about Golf carts.
Tim next checked on the of the tunneling crew. “We are making much
better progress now that we are not working in those darned Mars Suits” the
foreman told Tim. I think we are about three or four days out from
breakthrough. The tunneling crews changed drilling techniques with each
change in soil conditions. When they came to solid rock the would blast or use
jack hammers, when they were in loose soil they just used old fashioned picks
and shovels, when they were in tight packed soil they used power drills to break
it up. They just whatever they needed as conditions changed. If they were in
loose soil then they had to reinforce the tunnel sides and top as they went
All the loose soil they dug out was scooped up with a front end loader
and hauled to the farm or the orchard. The rocky soil and rocks would be used
as fill when they went to level the cavern floors.
Tim constantly had a crew making cement blocks on the surface. He
found that cement block shortages were holding up other construction so he
started using three crews on the surface making cement blocks when the
weather permitted. Two more crews were constantly leveling cavern floors and
placing cement blocks to make floors and roadways. They would only be
putting a roadway across the Paradise cavern and walking trails so as to not
ruin the aesthetic quality of the cavern.
As Tim was leaving Paradise cavern he ran into Carter. “What would you
think of getting a few golf carts for the managers to get around in?” “I am way
ahead of you on that one, Tim, since we have so much distance to cover now I
discussed it with Paul a couple weeks ago. He sent out a request for one
hundred indoor carts and thirty surface carts with wide wheels that wouldn't sink
into Mars sand. When I get their answer I will let you know.”
May 27, 2108: George was in The Company cavern so he decided to
stop by the farm and have a look at the Ivy. Abner showed him the small plants
that now had leaves and were about three Inches tall. “I don't understand
it,“said George, In theory this can't be. “ Abner answered, “That reminds me of
the story about the old man that took his grandson to the Zoo, the two of them
stood in front of the giraffe cage for several minutes watching the animals, then
finally the old man yanked on his grandson's arm and lead him away, Come on,
son there ain't no such animal. Just maybe, George there is such an animal.”
“In that case Abner, go ahead and spread your Ivy like Johnny apple seed, The
stuff won't create any problems until you try to get rid of it. There are colleges in
New England that have been trying to kill the stuff off for two hundred fifty years
but about two hundred years ago they found the solution to their problem.”
“What was that?” ask Abner. “Oh they just started calling their little group of
colleges 'THE IVY LEAGUE' ”.
May 30, 2108 : That evening of was Walter and Thelma's going away
party. It was celebrated much as they had celebrated New years Eve. Thelma
and Walter each made a speech then Paul and Carter each made a speech
telling them how much they would be missed and Rusty was there with a
cameraman to record the event for posterity and for use on the local news the
following evening.

Continue Chapter:


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