Snowsant: A Dilemma of Values

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Operator Record
A Dilemma of Values
Snowsant icon.png

Facing a target that was too high for her at the moment, she becomes anxious, but still steadily makes her way towards it, step by step.

Unlock conditions

  • Raise Snowsant to Elite 2 Level 1.
  • Have at least 50% Trust with Snowsant.
RI Corridor
RI Cafeteria
RI Room
Snowsant finds out from Closure that the very first paper she has written in her life was submitted to the editorial board of a scientific journal. But before she even has a chance to await the results, she is struck by news that knocks the wind out of her.
<Background 1>
Snowsant Really? It's already been sent?
Closure Mmhm. Handed a printed copy to the Messenger just this morning, and he took off with it right away. Now it's all up to the reviewers' feedback whether the journal picks it up.
Snowsant Thank you so much, Closure – I mean, Advisor!
Closure Oh jeez, don't call me that. I'm nowhere near qualified to give you advice in your own field. The best I could do was help you sort through your ideas.
Snowsant Umm...
But you're the one who gave me the idea of writing this paper in the first place!
Closure Sure, but I just figured it'd be a waste letting a gem like you go undiscovered.
Snowsant You also steered me in the right direction while I was writing it!
Closure I mean, yeah, it's the first academic paper you've ever written. Of course you'd need some pointers.
Snowsant You even helped me put the finishing touches on it last night!
Closure ......
Snowsant, when you put it that way, I–
–Don't feel so sleepy anymore.
Snowsant Huh...?
Closure I know you're a self-taught prodigy and all, and that you've always buried yourself in your research without paying much attention to academic journals and stuff...
But putting me down as the lead author? Really? Was that like a trap so you could say I plagiarized you?
Snowsant I-I didn't think the order of the authors mattered. So, as a way of showing my gratitude, I–
Closure I'm the corresponding author, thank you very much! My name goes after!
Snowsant *sniffles*...
Closure And let's not even get into all the punctuation errors, mixed up heading levels, poorly marked citations, just dumping all the references at the end...
If it's gonna be like this next time, I'll have to start charging an editing fee! One thousand LMD per word!
Snowsant I'm sorry!
Closure Lastly, can you tell why, just why, you sent it to me...
(Lets out a pained yawn)
No one even accepts handwritten manuscripts these days! I spent half the night just typing it all out so I could proofread it, and the other half trying to squeeze in all those charts and diagrams somehow!
Snowsant But I calculated the price of paper and ink, and found that printing it would be two LMD more expensive than writing it by hand...
Closure (Clutches her head with both hands)
Closure Snowsant, correct me if I'm wrong, but you wanna be a great scientist, right?
Snowsant That's right.
Closure And to be a great scientist, you have to publish a lot of papers, right?
Snowsant Mhm. That's what you told me.
Closure And do you realize that there are expenses other than paper and ink?
Snowsant Such as?
Closure Publication fees.
Snowsant Publication fees? H-How much?
Closure Depends on the journal, but it's always at least four figures.
Snowsant F-F-F-F-Four figures???
L-L-L-Let me figure out what expenses I can cut...
(Takes out her tablet)
(First, I can't touch the money that's supposed to be sent home...)
(Then, there are the self-research topics... Right now, there are three items...)
Closure (Lets out a long yawn)
I wouldn't worry about it too much–
Snowsant (No, I can't move around the funds I've already allocated for the projects either...)
Closure Snowsant?
Snowsant (The only area I can afford to cut is food expenses... Waah...)
Closure Are you listening?
[Snowsant doesn't respond.]
Closure Fine, whatever.
If you're gonna be like this, I'm gonna catch me some shut-eye. I've got a meeting with Kal'tsit in ten minutes.
Closure casually grabs a nearby book and drapes it over her face before slumping back into her chair and letting out even, rhythmic snores.
Snowsant (I don't know even know when this fee is due... But if I can have it pushed back, maybe I can scrounge up enough money...)
Um, C-Closure...
[Snowsant sees Closure sleeping...]
Snowsant She's asleep?
[ Jessica enters the room.]
Jessica Snowsant?
Is Closure asleep?
Snowsant Um, yes... It's all my fault...
<Background 2>
Jessica I don't think you did anything wrong.
Things never go right the first time. As long as you apologize and don't make the same mistakes next time, it'll be fine. That's what Liskarm always tells me, anyway.
Snowsant Mm... Thank you...
Sorry for bringing you all the way to the cafeteria just to drink plain water with me.
Jessica Don't worry about it.
Snowsant So, were you looking for Closure for something?
Jessica There's something wrong with my communications terminal, but Engineering's had its hands full of late. If I went through the standard channels, it'd take three whole months to get it fixed.
Yesterday I finally mustered the courage to head to Lutra to ask Mayer for help, but she's also really busy...
So I made up my mind to report the problem to Closure directly... but she was asleep.
Snowsant Is it serious?
Jessica Well, it's not like it's unusable. The main issue is that the signal gets choppy sometimes, but Engineering's been pushing it back because it's low priority.
Snowsant Have you tried taking it apart? If it's a bad connection or something along those lines, maybe you could fix it yourself.
Jessica I'm afraid of breaking the parts inside...
Snowsant Um, maybe I can give it a try?
[Jessica pulled out the communicator.]
Jessica Really? You'd do that for me?
Snowsant If it's not something I can handle on my own, I'll just put it back together, so don't worry.
<Background 3>
Jessica You fixed it already?
Snowsant There was a small metal component in its Originium circuitry that rusted, so I replaced it. You shouldn't have any more issues with choppiness.
Here you go!
Jessica Woah... Let me give it a try.
[Jessica turns on the communicator, but...]
Jessica ......
Snowsant Is something wrong?
Jessica I want to test it, but I'm not sure who to call... I wouldn't want to bother anyone.
Snowsant Why not just... pick one at random?
Jessica I-I'll figure something out.
[Jessica walks outside to contact someone.]
Jessica Umm... Is this Liskarm?
Yes... My terminal's been fixed...
It's not cutting out at all... or making any static...
Oh right, now I won't have to guess whether Franka's being serious or just joking around...
Sounds good!
Mmhmm! Bye!
[Jessica hangs up and walks back in.]
Jessica Thanks again, Snowsant. How much do I owe you?
Snowsant Huh? Umm...
Let's not worry about that... It was just a tiny metal part, and I basically recycled it from the Engineering Department. It's not like I had to buy it or anything...
Jessica Materials are one thing, but your labor is another.
Just now, Liskarm mentioned that she'll go to you if she needs a terminal fixed. More people might need things fixed too, so we can't have you going into the red for them.
I think you should charge something. It's only fair.
Snowsant (More people... Need things fixed... Charge something... It's only fair...)
(The publication fees!)
Th-Th-Then... I'll take you up on that!
Jessica Mhm.
Snowsant (Breathes deeply)
Then... How about twenty LMD?
Jessica Twenty?!
But didn't you say your publication fee was in the four-digit range?
Snowsant I know it isn't much, but high volume with low margins is the best way of doing business. Nobody would come if I charged too much...
So, twenty is enough. Twenty is just right.
<Background fades out and in>
Snowsant Phew... That takes care of everything.
Now, to check the tags...
These two terminals belong to Liskarm and Kroos.
There's also Vanilla's pet water dispenser, and Instructor Dur-nar's calculator.
[Snowsant calculates the numbers.]
Snowsant Including Jessica's terminal from yesterday, that makes a total of five times twenty.
So, that's a hundred LMD in one day. Making money this way... seems pretty fast?
[Snowsant calculates the numbers.]
Snowsant A four-figure publication fee... Assuming it's just five thousand, then the amount I've earned today would be–
[Snowsant calculates the numbers.]
Snowsant One-fiftieth...
I need to work harder.
But I wonder why all these communication terminals have the same problem?
Mine doesn't though. How strange.
[Someone knocks the door.]
Snowsant Who is it? Come in.
Jessica It's me, Jessica.
[Jessica enters the room.]
Snowsant Hi there. I've finished repairing everything, so you can take them back now.
Jessica Sounds good!
This is what we owe you. One hundred LMD.
[Jessica gave the money to Snowsant.]
Snowsant You're paying me now? What if there still are problems...
Jessica Instructor Dur-nar said that making you do minor repair jobs is selling your abilities short.
Snowsant Oh! Um, tell her I appreciate that!
Then, er, thank you for the payment.
[Snowsant puts the money into her purse.]
Snowsant Oh, by the way, why do all your terminals have the same point of failure? Is there some kind of design flaw?
Jessica I asked Liskarm, and she thinks they sacrificed reliability for performance, and used relatively rust-prone materials in the circuitry...
Which I guess would be the component you mentioned.
It wouldn't be a problem under ordinary conditions, but operators often have to work in hot or humid environments, so the terminals break down faster.
Snowsant And is there no way to make it work without that part?
Jessica I don't know... Not even Closure could do anything about it, after all.
Snowsant Oh...
Jessica Oh right, Instructor Dur-nar asked me to tell you one more thing.
She said it's fine to have you work on minor stuff like water dispensers and calculators, but it's best for Engineering to handle standard-issue things like the terminals.
Snowsant Why's that?
Jessica As a policy, Engineering doesn't want us doing private maintenance on standard-issue equipment. Repairing things using inconsistent materials will just make future maintenance more expensive.
Snowsant Wh-What do I do then? Should I talk to Instructor Dur-nar...?
Jessica Don't worry about it.
She said she'd turn a blind eye to it, given your circumstances and the fact that Engineering has such a back-log these days.
She just wanted to remind you to use your own judgment.
Snowsant (Lets out a long sigh)
Jessica So, next time someone asks you to fix their terminal, would you still agree to it?
Snowsant That's...
I guess I'll use my own judgment.
<Background fades out and in>
[Snowsant is writing a record.]
Snowsant Orchid's fountain pen, twenty LMD.
Hibiscus's food processor, twenty LMD.
April's music player, twenty LMD–but it took two LMD to replace the buttons, and another one to replace the exposed headphone cable so she doesn't notice anything. So, that's a net of seventeen LMD.
Durin's nail clippers...
Even an amateur could reassemble a nail clipper, so I won't charge anything for that.
[Snowsant calculates the numbers.]
Snowsant Altogether, that's only fifty-seven LMD this week...
What do I do? If business continues to be this bad, I won't be able to make five thousand...
Plus, how much time do I even have to come up with the publication fee?
Snowsant lies down on the chair, involuntarily glancing at the eight terminals sitting on the table, awaiting repairs.
Snowsant If I fix all of them, that'd be a hundred-sixty LMD!
No, no. It was one thing when I didn't know about the regulations, it's another to knowingly break the rules...
But, the publication fee...
*sob*... I don't want money to be the first stumbling block on my way to becoming a great scientist.
Hmm, what if I replace the structure of the Originium circuit entirely, and find a workaround that doesn't use metal parts at all? Would that still violate the regulations?
But how could I manage something not even Closure could?
No, I have to give it a shot. For the publication fee.
I'll repair everyone else's terminals using the old method first, then use my own to fiddle with the Originium circuitry.
You can do it, Snowsant! You have to do it, so you can get your papers published, become a great scientist, and afford to have three meals a day... with dessert!
<Background fades out and in>
Snowsant Work... Projects... Things to fix... Everything looks good.
[Snowsant looks at the clock.]
Snowsant It's one o'clock, huh?
Maybe I'll stay up a bit later tonight... Need to investigate how the circuitry in the terminal is connected.
<Background fades out and in>
Snowsant It's only 10:30, and I'm already done with all my work. Guess I was pretty lucky today.
Now, time to take a look at that circuitry.
<Background fades out and in>
Snowsant Can't connect it like this, or like this...
Ugh, I've already spent weeks on the circuitry alone.
But if I try using this–
Wait, I haven't worked on today's research project yet. I've got to take care of that first.
[Snowsant rushes to work on her project.]
<Background fades out and in>
Snowsant Phew... Haah...
I have a good feeling about this one. The connection might just work.
Time to pull an all-nighter!
<Background 1>
Jessica Huh? You want me to grab all the terminals you've already fixed? You're going to go over them all again?
Snowsant It's because I found a new way to connect the circuitry, a simpler way that bypasses the need for the metal part that rusts easily.
Jessica Really?
Not even Closure could figure it out!
Snowsant Hmm, now that you mention it... I guess so?
Jessica Let me try to remember whose terminals you fixed...
Snowsant I've kept the receipts, so we can go off of that.
[Snowsant gave the receipts to Jessica...]
Jessica Me, Liskarm, Kroos...
[...who gave them back once she reads them all.]
Jessica Oh right, considering this is an upgrade, you can't just charge the same twenty LMD, right?
Snowsant True. Since I decided to make this change on my own, I can't ask for your money at all.
Jessica ...Huh?
??? Well, aren't you just a saint, Snowsant?
Snowsant Heheh...
Jessica That's right! She's been hard at work fixing up the terminals for how many days now? How can she not charge a cent for them–
[Closure reveals herself.]
Jessica C-C-Closure?!
Closure Wow, I'm here for two seconds and I'm already hearing all about your under-the-table dealings.
Jessica, since you're only an accomplice, head back to the dorms for now. I need to have a word with the prime suspect first.
Jessica Y-Yes, ma'am!
[Jessica leaves.]
Closure Snowsant?
Snowsant ......
Closure What, so scared you can't walk?
Snowsant ...N-No, that's not it.
Closure Then come on in and let's have a chat.
<Background 3>
Closure Close the door.
Snowsant Yeah...
[Snowsant closes the door.]
Closure First of all, let me ask: how are your personal projects and daily work going? How much are you letting this side gig get in the way?
Snowsant I-It's not getting in the way at all! I'm finishing all my work as always, and I'm making progress in my projects too!
Closure Really? Then when are you getting to sleep every night?
Snowsant Somewhere around... three or four?
Closure ......
Ahem, moving on then.
Given how you're trembling like a baby fowlbeast, I take it you realize the problems this business of yours could cause.
Snowsant Yeah...
Closure Let's hear it then.
Snowsant Privately repairing standard-issue equipment without authorization might increase the Engineering Department's maintenance expenses further down the road...
Closure Mhm, sounds like you really know your stuff. Who told you that? Jessica?
Snowsant Instructor Dur-nar reminded me.
Closure Dur-nar?
Snowsant (Nods)
Closure Glad to hear our old vets still have their priorities straight–
Wait, hold up, she told you all that, but didn't bother stopping you? Or even reporting it to me?
Great, sounds like I've another score to settle.
Snowsant This has nothing to do with her... It was my own decision.
Closure Do you really have the luxury of worrying about others right now?
Engineering's already overwhelmed with all sorts of orders and requests. This terminal repair thing might be what finally breaks the burdenbeast's back. You get what I'm saying?
All their metal components originally came from the same batch. Even if some go bad faster or slower, they fall in pretty much the same window. We're already trying to squeeze in time to put together an organized repair-and-replace.
But now, since some of them are fixed but others aren't, that's just one more set of data points for us to wrangle.
Snowsant I... I have a ledger, and I've kept track of whose terminals I've worked on...
Closure I'm aware you have the receipts.
But can you guarantee that all the materials used in repairing them came from the same batch?
Snowsant ...No.
Closure Which means that to make things more convenient going forward, we'll have to swap them all out again anyway, which is a complete waste of resources!
Sure, we're only talking a few dozen metal components this time, but who knows how big the bill will be next time!
Snowsant I understand. I know I did wrong...
Closure (I was planning on giving her a stern talking-to, but seeing how obedient she's being, it's hard to find the words...)
Anyway, as the head of Engineering, I'm declaring that as of today, your repair shop is closed indefinitely!
Snowsant I-I accept your punishment...
Closure (Shoot, she seriously started crying... Was I too hard on her?)
[Closure tries to comfort Snowsant.]
Closure C'mon, stop that. Stop crying.
Snowsant (Blows nose)
Closure So, why did you decide to start doing this in the first place?
Snowsant I don't have any money, so I can't afford the publication fee...
Closure Publication fee?
Wait, didn't I already tell you–
Oh, I guess I forgot, huh?
(Wait, this might be a bitter pill to swallow, but she needs to learn her lesson. Can't let it become water under the bridge that easily.)
In any case, don't do it again.
Let me take a look at your ledger and see how much money you made.
[Snowsant gave Closure her ledger, which she reads.]
Closure ...Your net profit was only a thousand LMD?
And you even covered the cost of materials beyond the scope of the request, out-of-pocket?
AND you waived the entire bill for someone?
[Closure continues reading the ledger.]
Closure In the end, you fixed up over a hundred items and only made a thousand LMD?!
Snowsant I was aiming for high volume through low prices, so I set the price at twenty LMD...
Closure There's a floor to how low you can go with that strategy!
I got a mean fifty LMD just from changing out the power cord of the Doctor's kettle while they were busy going through paperwork!
Snowsant Eh?
A power cord doesn't cost that much, does it? Plus, you're basically just plugging it in, aren't you?
Closure Ah, ahem. That was simply an example.
Fifty LMD might be a bit overkill for a hot water kettle, but we're talking high-tech terminals here!
Repairing delicate machinery like that means taking them apart with specialized tools and carefully replacing the components. That's gotta be worth at least fifty or sixty!
But back on topic–your paper has basically already been accepted. It only needs some minor tweaks and it's ready to publish.
I was only stopping by to hand you the reviewer's comments when I caught you running a black market repair shop in the dorm hallway.
Snowsant Wait... What did you just say? My paper... It only needs a few minor revisions?
This isn't a dream, is it?
Closure What do you think?
Also, I have another piece of good news–
(Whispers) I should've told you this first, but better late than never.
You don't have to pay the publication fee either.
Snowsant Wh-Wh-Wh-What?
Closure I'm your corresponding author, and Rhodes Island is your employer. Naturally, we'll be covering the fee, so you can stop worrying about breaking the bank.
Snowsant Really?!
I can't believe this, I need to pinch myself–
[Closure pinches Snowsant's cheek.]
Snowsant Ow!
Oh my gosh!
Ohmygosh, Closure! I'm going to be published!
Waaaah, I'm finally going to be published! My paper is going to be...
Closure Have you calmed down yet?
Snowsant (Rubs eyes)
Closure The publication fee was originally two grand, but I applied for a special hardship grant for you, and managed to get it down to fifteen hundred.
Rhodes Island can easily cover that, so you don't need to stay up all night fixing toasters anymore.
Snowsant That's...
I just realized that, in the end, you're just paying it for me...
Closure Yeah, so?
Snowsant Um... Isn't that a bit...
Closure A bit what?
Snowsant I-I'm thinking that maybe...
Maybe, the publication fee... I...
I think... I should pay it myself after all.
You and Rhodes Island have been so good to me, but all I've done is give you more work. I'd feel bad taking your money too...
Closure I respect the hustle, but you're still short five hundo.
Snowsant I can, um, make up the difference by continuing to fix things for people...
Closure Huuuh?!
Snowsant Not the standard-issue equipment, I promise! I'll stick to fountain pens and water dispensers, I swear!
I'm sorry, I'm sorry! I know you already let me off easy, and I feel really bad about it!
But if I accept someone else's charity and use their money to pay the fee without earning it myself, I won't be able to sleep at night!
Closure ......
Snowsant, are you serious?
Snowsant I...
(Breathes deeply)
Yes, I'm dead serious.
Closure Can you guarantee it won't get in the way of your work or your research?
Snowsant I swear it!
Closure You might not even get any business without these terminals, you know.
Snowsant I will.
Closure You sure?
Snowsant I-I can go around asking everyone if they need anything fixed. I'm sure there'll be someone!
Closure (Chuckles wryly)
Well, knock yourself out.
Snowsant Does that mean... I can continue fixing things for people?
Closure What, are you trying to get me to change my mind now?
Snowsant N-N-No! Thank you so much, Closure!
Closure But remember to raise your prices. Twenty is lowballing it so much I feel secondhand pain.
Snowsant I will!
Closure Also, you'd better get your butt in bed by midnight every night.
Snowsant That... might be asking a bit much...
Closure It's not up for negotiation. If anyone else gets sick, I'll give them sick leave; but if you get sick... I'm cutting your wages!
Snowsant Noooo! Fine, I understand!
Closure One last thing. I overheard you and Jessica talking about how you managed to simplify the design and bypass the metal component?
Snowsant That's right.
Closure Do you have a blueprint? Let me take a look.
[Snowsant gave Closure the blueprint.]
Closure Mhm...
Well, I'll be. That's just crazy enough to work.
Snowsant, I'm going to take this with me and look into it a bit more, maybe make a few improvements. If all goes well, you'll be in charge of rolling out the standardized updates for all our terminals.
Snowsant Huh? You're... putting me in charge?
Closure It's your blueprint, your idea, your hours of lost sleep. Who else would be in charge?
Also, this approach is pretty novel. After you make some progress with your work, keep looking into it. Who knows, maybe you've already got a second paper on your hands?
Snowsant A-A-A second paper?!
C-Closure! I-Isn't it a bit early to think about my second paper when my first still hasn't been published?
Closure And what's wrong with that? If you've got the ability and the work ethic, why shouldn't your hard work be rewarded?
Alright, go celebrate with Jessica. I've still got a meeting to get to, so I can't join you.
[Closure walks out of the room, but runs back in shortly after.]
Closure Oh, and before I forget again, here's the letter from the reviewer!
Bye bye!
[Closure takes her leave as Snowsant closes the door and reads the letter.]
Notice of Manuscript Acceptance
To Ms. Snowsant:
The manuscript you submitted to this journal (No. 011224) has passed preliminary review, but also requires certain revisions.
The reviewer's comments are attached to this letter. Please submit the revised manuscript to the editorial board before the deadline. If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact the board. Thank you for your dedication to theoretical research!
Lungmen Engineering Editorial Board
Reviewer Comments:
The shortcomings of this paper are obvious.
The author is unaware of the latest breakthroughs in this field, and often runs into the problem of "reinventing the wheel" in regards to theoretical derivations; experimental design is excessively rigid with a focus on theory over practice, ignoring the applications of new technologies in the field, etc.
However, the author's originality, sensitivity to practical issues, and meticulous thoughtfulness in laying out the argument are all admirable.
Above all, the author has overcome many of the aforementioned problems with a degree of perseverance and diligence far beyond most people, which has impressed us deeply.
We hope that the author will continue to maintain this diligence and venture ever further on the road of academia.
We eagerly await the next submission.
[Snowsant looks relieved.]