We needed the fusactors to get large amounts of clean water to take apart, clean, and put back into operation all the ship’s maintenance robots,not to mention to clean the ship.” Elaine answered. “Then there are all the shops. Short term we need to cannibalize a few robots to get the rest running, meaning we need to raid the Mighty Hauler’s stock of robots as parts cars. Eventually we have three cargo ships that fly, and one waiting for parts from the shop.”
“How long to fly?” Charles asked.
“The first maintenance robots are already hard at work,” Elaine answered. “The new hires were not entirely pleased with how much junk they were carting out of crew quarters. The place was a junkyard. The ship’s mess hall was worse. The ship needs a thorough cleaning, just so it doesn’t smell. We are talking weeks or months. The old surface navy used trained tiger teams to recondition a sub for its next voyage; we don’t have those teams. The fellow the Elizavetsians sent down has been very helpful. He had worked for one of our competitors, then was fired for doing work that the alien owners wanted done by their yards. He has all sorts of information on their operations.”
“Trade secrets? Non-disclosure agreements?” Tara asked.
“Fired,” Elaine said. “No NDA. If they have secrets, he doesn’t know about them.”
“You said something about solving the personnel issue?” Charles asked.
“Eaerlier this week the China Yards went Republic-Only. Our substantial crew of Space Guard people from there are all coming home. Some consequences will be amusing…a lot of the Republic too-refined-to-get-their-hands-dirty crowd expected Anglic Union people to keep doing the real work. We were a modest fraction of the people there, but a much larger fraction of the people actually repairing ships.”
“I thought Republic had high standards,” Victor said.
“In the asteroids? Yes,” Elaine said. “Other systems, often. But Earth’s Republic area is bottom of the barrel in education and quality control standards. Our new people were the core of the China Yards work force. The proposal is subject to Board approval, of course.”
“Yes,” Victor said, making his word sound like a question.