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002: Running For The Stars

There was money to be had in the rock. That’s why they were here. That’s why he was here. At least that’s what he told himself, knowing all the while that he was just a body in a suit and all the money being made was the Company’s.

Rock lotto. The basic procedure to extract ore from rock was the same it has been for thousands of years, the only difference was now they operated in a vacuum and dying was easier than ever; that, and everything moved. Being a rock jockey, you not only had to keep your eyes on what you were doing but also on what might be sneaking up in an attempt to paste you. Sure, the suits had proximity alerts but by the time they went off you were as good as dead – dropping a plasma hammer, without running the deactivate sequence, generally resulted in a fate worse than being pasted. Mining in tunnels deep underground, where everything was solid, and stationary, seemed like a blissful fantasy.

He’d been out here several years. The work was hard but never boring, and seeing the big tugs pull small mountains from the outer regions never got old. Once he and the thousands like him had broken them down, the fleets of small utility tugs would come in and do their synchronised dance – grabbing, pushing, pulling their catch to the refinery where the rock, more than a millennia old, would be broken down and furnaced to extract MAG-90; the miracle metal that had everyone running out to the stars.

The old world scientists were wrong, or at least they didn’t have the whole picture to be right; impossible when you are bound planetside. There were more metals, and physics, and gasses and… things that could not, possibly ever, be explained than they could ever have imagined. The known laws of physics and chemistry, thought of as complete, were a small fraction of what was now known to exist. Simply put, the Universe was far stranger than anyone could ever have imagined, full of things that defied common thinking; so much so they may as well have thrown out the book and started again.

And MAG-90 was one such strange thing.


Running For The Stars - Gerard Thomas Illustration

He kept a small sphere of it in his pocket, taking it out occasionally to be mesmerised by it’s near impossible lack of weight and strange colours that seemed to move across its surface. As for the rest? That was not his concern, he was just there to break rock.

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