Saturday, 6 September 2014

Survey: A First Law: Override short story - Part 1

NK:36842 was a barren world. It's surface was covered in sheet ice covering a solid layer of raw material. Very few of the Outer Fringe Mining Corp workers knew or even cared, what they were digging up. It didn't matter if it was iron, coal, oil or even c-gas, the procedure was always the same; they would land three days before boring began, radio the bore satellite to wherever the science guys told them to before the super pressed the big red button releasing the bore satellite's laser that over the space of a week would create a hole over a mile wide allowing the workers to start pulling the material to the surface.

Craig was a mature man. He as been working for OFMC back when they were based on Earth and were called North Canadian Mining Corp and he had been on the first Arc ship to arrive in the Outer Fringe; his skills and talents being vital in the process of terraforming Tanka V.

Craig had been based on NK:36842 for the past two months and was already beginning to feel the effects of the reduced gravity. He had seen for himself with many co-workers of what can happen with a long enough exposure; of visions, voices and other general forms of space crazy and Craig could already see these effects beginning to take effect in his own brain. At night visions of loved ones long gone would swim all around him; calling him to join them and every night he would get less and less sleep. It was not uncommon for him to be startled mid night by a neighbour hammering on his sleep cubical telling him to shut up and get some sleep. He knew it was only a matter of time before he lost it all together.

Craig glanced at a black plasti-steel strap he wore on his right wrist; pushing a touch sensitive button on the side the reactive surface shimmered revealing a deep blue set of digits:


"Time to go to work" Craig thought to himself and sliding from his bed he opened his sleep cubical's stiff door and stepped into the vibrant sun beyond before glancing back at his cubical and grimacing.

Each of the cubical's were identical on the outside; four feet high and six feet long, each one only just big enough for their inhabitants to sleep within but any time spent within was rarely recreational as a result. Every worker at the OFMC sites were issued with a single cubical, this was their space; where they slept and the only place away from the toilets that they could get some alone time. This was the way for every one if them for a six month stretch. Once they had completed this time they would then get six months away to return to their families and get some quality time before being sent to the next dig site. Craig had only four more months to go before he would leave this frozen hole and retire from the company altogether, Craig counted down the days almost religiously.

Today was the fourth of March and Craig was tasked with monitoring the bore laser. It had become obvious to Craig that this was to be the same job he would be responsible for until he retired in September.

"After all" Craig scowled to himself "it's the only thing I've done all stretch".

Craig knew that he was capable of so much more; he had argued for two hours with his supervisor when he had first arrived, explaining how in his last stretch he had worked an Exo-Suit, the type with big loading arms and wrist mounted explosives to help clear out any particular difficult areas the bore laser struggled with, or when an area needed something more accurate than a mile wide space laser could do.

"After all" Craig had explained at the time "the Exo-Suit does all the lifting for you!"


Hours passed and Craig began to feel his lack of sleep catching up to him, his eyes were heavy and dry and he needed to make a constant effort to keep them open. It did not take long however until he lost that battle and the void of sleep overtook him.

In his sleep Craig dreamed of many things; giant arc ships being torn apart by massive mechanic INI drones, entire worlds being consumed from below by alien beasts and Craig also dreamed of NK:36842 the very ice world he currently worked on. He saw a stolen Hydan ship, modified until it was almost unrecognisable and stamped with the Circled-Eye was the unmistakable mark of the Collected Mind; a rogue group of Reborn that had allied themselves with the Reavers. Craig saw it leave the planet as it's Shocker kicked in instantly transporting it a great distance from the planet and it's ever so slowly collapsing star. The dream returned to the planet, Craig saw the bore tunnel and the sleep pods, how each one was not only abandoned but awash with blood.

With a start Craig awoke from his dream, he looked around and seeing no alarms or alerts, relaxed for a moment. He hated his dreams and hallucinations, but at least none of them were real.

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

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