From the First Draft for Setting The Board

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From my first draft for Setting The Board, which will be number three in the Preparations for War series:

"Dammit, was this some kind of suicide pact you idiots made?"

We'd just had the first fatality in our new facility. A workman named Kodos had been killed when his team neglected to secure the mobile crucible before opening the sluice to fill it. The crucible had been pushed off station by the force, and Kodos had taken the stream of molten metal full on, with predictable results. Not only did I have a dead workman, I had my only operational furnace out of service until we could clean up the mess, which involved the time for the spill to cool as well as the actual clean up. There were blood and charred remains mixed with cooling steel all over the area, and the less said about the smell of burnt human, the better. "It could just as easily have been all of you! Do you want your wives to be widows? If so, please don't make it happen in my factory!"

I was pretty sure Kodos' short, blood-curdling scream had scared them more than my rant, but there was no way I was letting this violation of safety pass without driving the lesson home. "You're all going to come with me to break the news to his widow, and after it's all cleaned up, you're each going to spend an entire shift unpaid, practicing the safe operation of moving the metal from the furnace to the forms while the furnace stays cold! No shortcuts! You idiots thought you'd save five breaths it took to secure the pot, and instead it's going to take three days to get this line back into action! I even painted nice big pictures so you could see what had to be done if you forgot! Breaking the safety rules doesn't help things go faster - it brings the line to a complete halt! If I have to replace you to save your lives and my factory, I'll do it!"

Eyes downcast, the foreman of the gang, Vodran, apologized for his failure, "I'm sorry, sir. It won't happen again!"

"It better not!" I told him, "It's expensive to train a whole new crew, but if you boneheads can't remember a few short, easy steps, I'll be saving myself money! That goes for all of you! Watch each other, make sure the steps are done in the proper order! Saving five breaths doesn't help when it shuts the line down for three days! Both your lives and your jobs are in each other's hands!" Their wages were significantly above most workmen in Yalskarr; losing their jobs would be painful.

I'll follow, bringing the widow our death benefit, Asina told me. That way it would remain our little secret - if thinking their families got nothing in the event of their death made them work safer, it was worth the deception. Eight gold wouldn't replace her husband, but it would keep her and whatever children from starving for a while. It was better than a year's pay for most people.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dan Melson published on June 17, 2019 2:44 PM.

Background: Rediscovery and the Reverse Rabbit Hole was the previous entry in this blog.

Character Introduction: Asina di Bernard in Setting The Board is the next entry in this blog.

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