I ventured into a radiation hot spot, again, within the region of the Doradus nebula. It was hot due to the intense star formation, there, and with my scanners set on high, I was hunting, looking for another one of those mineral rich planets that shouldn't be inhabited in that kind of space, and as luck would have it, there was one. Except this one was populated with some kind of civilization. Within the Norton Fold, where I was looking, how could a world evolve in a hot area like this? I wondered.
It was off to starboard and though I saw the ship's field knock a few asteroids around in silence, out there, I turned without fear of colliding with anything serious. The long range buffer was turned on so speeding into a place of high asteroid activity and deadly radiations was nothing new for me, or the ship's computer to worry about, nor my two "crew-persons," for that matter.
Our ship is three point five kilometers long and two point five wide. It's run by three people who know their jobs and can do them well. And with the power output this bugger of ours can generate, much more power than I've ever been able to use to keep us safe, I was perfectly secure with our position. Especially in a dangerous, to humans, area such as this in an otherwise unprotected ship. It's a no contest kind of thing. Almost daunting when you think about it. These mining craft were absolutely amazing with all their power and tech.
Scanning the planet I discovered it had a huge magnetic field that did the job of protecting the place. My question was answered. How it got started, though, who knew for sure, as it was part of a very small solar system. The planet itself was half the size of Unine, my home world. Their sun was a third of our medium size star's diameter. I was surprised the fusion reaction had even turned on, but there's a lot of strange stuff out here.
It didn't take long to angle down into the planet's relatively shallow gravity-well and drop into that thick breathable atmosphere.
I wasn't afraid of this kind of work, though a lot of space jockeys were. There are things you know concerning conditions and if you follow procedures for dealing with those kinds of areas and worlds, take the necessary precautions, they could be great places to gather raw materials. Especially if the worlds are uninhabited. The fact that this one was, sometimes created a complication, if they were in any way advanced.
That's what we were all about as miners. Raping worlds, as the protesters say, but the Imperia needs the precious metals so, end of story. And the government pays very well for these materials.
"Ellen, Janet, come down here, please. We've found something special." I didn't know the amounts, yet. I had just done a brief scan but it was worth our troubles, easily.
The two of them came to my control room minutes later, as I slowed the craft through the cloud layered atmosphere, braking by gravity pulse. They were dressed in ship's cooling suits. It was an interesting bit of tech in itself and consisted of a flat on the back, flexible air conditioning source, built into the black leather-like materials that hugged the body. They were one piece items. It fit like a second skin because of their jobs where, sometimes, they had to slide into very tight places. They were colored black, like mine, because that coating didn't allow dirt or odors to accumulated on it from their environment.
That was the norm around there, for them, dressed that way, except when off duty, because they worked in the warmest places of the ship, on the upper decks, where all the flowtricks and heavy generating machinery were, anything that produced heat, except for the onboard refineries on the bottom levels; No one went down there during collection operations. When they weren't helping out with the landings, take offs, or mining operations as I would soon need them for, they were out doing maintenance work.
They were the backbone of the ship, really, kept it humming and did all the messy jobs. I am the guy in charge and make all the money decisions and direct as well as fly the ship, work on the computers and do all the hi-tech stuff.
It was my baby, this big crab shaped imitation of one of those ocean things of their world, that have blue blood pumping in their arteries, I'm told, and an automated flying city for us.
I like to keep things tight and safe, and Ellen and Janet were the ones that did it. High maintenance, nothing broken, everything functional. They are the best at what they do and the ship is the best ship out there, I think. We've even adopted their metric system, since the entire ship's construction is based on it.
I of course was sitting pretty in my air conditioned cockpit, in my modified, read -- more expensive, cooling suit, only adapted as a flight suit for my needs, doing my flying thing and deciding where to go first. In this case, scanning the equatorial zone at the moment.
They both walked up behind me, touching my shoulders so I knew they were present, one of my procedures in case I had to explain something; That -- and as I have a tendency to concentrate so hard on what I'm doing, I tend to lose track of people and voices around me. A touch always brought me out of it.
Checking the readouts along with me, the two of them were following a full scale scan, now, for minerals. I wanted them to see what I had found, how rich the deposits were.
Circling the planet, we noted and recorded a huge density of gold, copper, silver, platinum, brass and you name it of densely conglomerated metals, mostly near the equator, as it was a quick spinning world and heavy metals tended to do that, if the substrata was soft enough. The good stuff was well below the planet's surface but only a few thousand meters and easily in range of the collectors. It even had some in a few places, on or very near the surface along our starting trajectory. There were plenty of trace elements, too, all worth taking.
"Pretty rich place, isn't it?" Ellen said, leaning over me, her elbow on the back of my flight seat.
"Yeah. It is. A mother load of a planet, really," Janet answered for me.
I glanced Ellen's way, noticing the beautiful profile of her face and figure near my shoulder and the flowery scent of her hair, then felt its softness against my cheek, as she looked my way, and rested her face next to mine. Glancing the opposite way, Janet had done the same. Trapped.
I hire my crew not only for their competence but for their beauty, I'm not ashamed to say. We're out for up to eight months at a time, mining things, so I like being as comfortable as I can get. Tall, lusciously exaggerated women in the most desirable of places were part of my comfort. I like having pretty women around me when the day is done, or anytime I want them, for work or companionship for they are at my disposal whenever I need them, which is often. Several times a day when something on this big tub goes wrong or I'm feeling amorous. It's in their contracts. I pay very well so I've never had problems from over working them.
And I don't know why, but they vie for my attentions and I'm all for that, thus, Ellen resting her head on my shoulder. Then Janet.
In truth though, I knew why. I'm Unine. These two were from a distant world called, Earth. Those clever people who had built this craft. But Unine seem to attract women from there. Something about body senses, hormone production, pheromones, things like that; plus, we're supposed to be, according to them, "more beautiful than any man on their world." I just take their word on that.
Janet soon exceeded her friendly rival's lead by putting an arm around my neck, running her hand under my now unzipped torso suit, grazing her fingers excitingly across my chest and stomach, leaning into me provocatively. Her facial skin touched mine while she kissed my neck and nibbled my ear creatively, creating shivers. She was the quiet one, vocally.
I tried to concentrate. Ellen began kissing me at the same time. They can be awfully distracting at times.
It was a good thing they couldn't get pregnant as our two races weren't compatible that way, even though we're both humanoids; I'd never have an earth crew that could do any hard work, if that were the case. Another reason I hire only women like them from their far away world.
"Yes. I'm glad the ship's almost empty. This is going to be a great haul. Probably fill up at least two thirds of the cargo bays."
"Get ready to start the lifters," I said, kissing Janet on the mouth, and then Ellen.
"El, get the furnaces up to temperature, please. This is going to be a long hot load, so make sure there's plenty of circulation going on below decks. In a few, as you both know, this place is going to be like a blast furnace below 'M' level. I'm shutting down all access hatches, now, the bay doors, fans and activating the force fields that lead up here, as usual. Come on now, lets get going," I gently scolded, patting their hands.
"Janet, you better get on the collectors, too, make sure everything's working properly."
They had half of my upper body suit open and half way off, caressing my skin and nibbling on things trying to get to me, which they had, but business is business.
"Collectors on line, Captain," said Janet, after only a few minutes of working keyboards. "Everything checks out."
"Good. Thank you."
"About three more minutes and we should be up to temperature, Captain."
I liked it that when conducting business, they both addressed me so, even though things around here were pretty casual.
"It'll take longer than that to get the sorter up to speed. Lets start getting some metal. Janet, start the collector."
A slow yet distant whine could be heard and it built until the ship was filled with the noise of mining. We all slipped on our ear muffs to deadening the sound to a safe level.
Metallic numbers started to accumulate while we moved down the trajectory line directional, about six hundred meters above the surface, the finished materials quickly stacking up and out into the cargo bays, still very hot, but cooling. The ship didn't chew up the landscape as much as you'd think. The collectors were like a force field and pulled things instead of repelled them and brought them up from deep within the ground. The ship also pushed down with equal force so the ship wouldn't wallow down into the surface and in a way that we were isolated from any huge forces.
The collectors were designed to gather the softer, precious metals, anything we collected, and formed an artificial and impenetrable shell around the expensive stuff to get it to the surface in one piece. From there, into the furnaces or compressors the materials were formed into large bars of pure refined product for sale. It left holes in the ground but not as large as you might think, but directly below the ship was not a good place to be during collection.
It was like a shrapnel field down there, with everything exploding upward at a high velocity and if you happened to be around, forget it Bub. You weren't long for this world or any other. Think of a tiny two or three millimeter piece of gold passing up through your legs, into the torso and out the shoulders at bullet speed and you can get a pretty good picture of what would happen to body tissue.
Something else that isn't too good is this; As the operation gets under way, all the molten slag gets dumped back onto the ground behind us leaving a trail of fire and hot lava-like materials. Leaves kind of a mess, too, but that's what mining is, messy.
We always hoped any peoples or intelligent life would run for it, but we never stop the ship either, if we didn't have to. But as our luck was, just then, we had to.
If there is a large concentration of metal, gold in this case, densely packed into hardened stone, the machinery of the collectors brings up the surrounding rock with it, as in this case, half a buried mountain at a time. Its too big for the ship to handle but up it comes just the same. We have to stop, go outside and break it up, if its worth our time. This was...
"Captain," Janet said, "we've got a mega-pack coming up, I'm going to have to shut down."
"Yes, do it. That's good. Don't wait for me on something this big. Let's slow it and bring it to the surface. We can break it up there. There's too much good material inside to leave it behind."
"Ellen, how are things on your end?"
"Good. No problems."
"Okay, once it's surfaced. Lets get out there quick and set charges like we have before, then back in the ship. I'll take the Lethaal," our ship, "back down the line a bit to get out of the way. Take the readouts with you so you know where the optimum stress points are."
Placing charges at those zones would break up the fused piece of rock into harvestable size. They were up and out of the room before I finished.
"Have fun blowing stuff up," I yelled after them. "And watch out for the slag dropping on you."
I backed up the ship a half a kilometer then lowered it to the ground, crushing huge trees in the process those five huge landing pods extended. The flat bottom of the ship was still a hundred meters off the ground.