About The Laws of Space
The Laws of Space
Chapter 11: Susa’s Place and Susa’s Pad
Susa Burke was an unquestionably adept engineer. Her status as L9 had been solidified owing to her hundreds of improvements, inventions, and designs implemented all over City Five. Every new breakthrough and every flaw corrected fed her confidence and her credit score. Why then, as of late, were so many of her production facilities underperforming? She couldn’t understand—now days into vetting out the systems, and no closer to finding a solution.
Staring at schematics and worker production charts, Susa fought the urge to nod off. Her left hand was most assuredly blinking RECOMMEND SLEEP AGENTS, but she didn’t know for sure—the glove over her left hand was now a permanent fixture. She walked out of her workshop and into one of her estate’s ten bathrooms, seeking the Medicine Pad. From the vanity she pulled out what seemed to be a regular drawer, only this one was covered and secured with a lock. Susa was agitated, fumbling with the key before managing to open the cover. Inside, there it was, an ingenious contraption made from a finely engineered carbon polymer. She took off her glove and sure enough: RECOMMEND SLEEP AGENTS. Rolling her eyes, she placed her hand on the Pad. While it scanned her print she cycled through a list of options until she found what was necessary. With her right thumb she pressed the screen over ADRENALINE ENHANCER and immediately felt a surge of energy.
After locking up and sliding the device back into its place, she felt a bit of shame—that was normal. Medicine Pads were frowned upon in the Five Cities, as they were only used to countermand what one’s own body chemistry recommended. Many a Spacer had fallen victim to the Pad, overdosing on usually benign and beneficial substances found at low levels in the body. It was an incredibly expensive habit—the enhancer Susa had just self-administered cost four thousand credits—more than most Regulars could dream of in a lifetime.
Full of gusto but not much brain power, Susa found herself back in the workshop, rushing through footage of one of the factories on her Worldview. Her MFGs (Manufacturing and Fabrication Gadgets) were running true, the conveyors were steady and stable, and the workers… Wait a minute, she said. The workers. She changed camera views. This factory, which produced high end furniture for upper-crust Spacers, was very familiar. She had designed it from the floor up; it was a form of entertainment for her—watching a creation performing at its utmost. Even some of the Regulars wore familiar faces. She scanned to catch one such face, and there it was.
He was smiling! Not working, not head down, not eyes tasked, but smiling! Finally it was clear. The people at this facility were not functioning at the average output level (AOL). She started digging through logs, data sheets, more video—it was the damn workers. You had to factor in occasional anomalies, but this—this was a trend. A bad one. Something outside her power to correct.
The good news, if one could call it that, was Susa had found her problem. The Administrator would have to be informed, another reason to be apprehensive about tomorrow’s physical meeting with Clement Pope. She let the worry brush past; for now—sleep. In an instant the adrenaline boost seemed a bad idea; forgetting that it had provided her with the zest for discovery, she cried, “Damn Medicine Pad!”