"It's art," Manuel said. They were peering into the distance at the obviously man-made spiral of rock at the shore of the Great Salt Lake. He did not stop for long. He wiped the sweat from his forehead, pulled his sun hood tight onto his head and went back to cleaning the evaporator vents.
The evaporator towers were one of the tallest structures in the SLIC, and the unwelcome duty of cleaning the top vents had fallen onto Crew D-43. The only pleasure the two work camp internees had today was the sightseeing afforded from their high perch. Along with the lake, they could see the entire Salt Lake Industrial Complex, along with old signs of the city that once stood here. Further in the distance, the ruins of an old resort stuck into the lake. It was a reminder of far more luxurious time than the 23rd century.
"Art? Suku, how's that art?" Jeffries said, knocking mineral crystals off the vent. Jeffries was a Gray marketer, one that got cocky and pulled into an Enforcer sweep. He was two years in.
"It just is. A man built it as art, a couple centuries ago," Manuel responded. No one had to ask what Manuel was doing in the SLIC. His educated tone and demeanor screamed 'Utopian' to anyone with half a brain.
Jeffries just gave Manuel an incredulous look, and slammed his tool into another deposit. It fell off the vent and broke into a thousand crystals.
"Salt and water," Manuel said.
"What?" Jeffries said, his voice straining as he tried to leverage another dirty white stalactite.
"Salt and water, two things humanity has always struggled to find, always tried to leverage and exploit," Manuel said. Jeffries mentally noted that this was going to yet another school lecture. Jeffries had already determined Manuel must have been a teacher at some point.
"We're just the last in a long line of exploiters. The Native Americans made salt in the flats near here. The Mormons settled here to make salt. We're just better at it - we make everything from chlorine to fertilizer here out of what we evaporate out of this lake."
"I'd think they'd figure out how to do it without this shit being necessary, la" Jeffries said.
Manuel shook his head. Then, he suddenly remembered himself and grabbed his tool, prying off a deposit himself before continuing to speak.
"They could, but they don't build the camps just to get things done, Jeffries. They built them to both produce and to impose. You think any of this is constructed without Games and Numbers input? Why are there so many different levels of duties? Why are some so dangerous and others less so? Hierarchies, Jeffries... the entire situation is constructed to keep us controlled while giving us just enough pride to think we're doing something useful."
Jeffries rolled his eyes, "Of course the Gnomes have their fingers in it, goondu, but you give to much credit, la. This is just how the world is, tops and bottoms, everything on top of everything else, la. And no one plans it, la, it's just how it happens. Seen it in the Gray Market, seen it here, seen it everywhere. Dreamers like you give the magic men behind the cameras too much..."
One yellow warning light came on near the vent. Then the other warning light. They twirled dimly in the noon sun.
"Gabra bullshit!" Jeffries shouted. He dropped his pole, and it clattered against the catwalk before falling over the edge. He turned and started running for the ladder down. Manuel reacted a second later, doing the same. The evaporator crew should have known they were up here. If they were flash starting the evaporator, a jet of burning hot steam was about to emerge from those vents.
"Manuel, move your ass!" Jeffries shouted, as he swung his feet down onto the ladder.
SALT LAKE INDUSTRIAL CENTER
(1) Accidental discharge of evaporator steam into maintenance area.
Cause: User error. Reprimands issued to supervisor.
Consequences: One on-site fatality. Prisoner 564-005-3904, Manuel Samson, COD: Severe steam burns, DOA. One post-event casualty. Prisoner 440-147-9419, Max Jeffries, COD: Severe steam burns. Arrived at care center. Deemed unfit for care given current resources. Opted for euthanasia.
(2) Summary judgment by...