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Something lurks in the depths of Mine 198 !Saff, like all Salvagers for the mighty OZA Corporation, just wants to keep his head down and do his job. Sent with Bukkard and Telos to the far away Mine-198, he just wants to get his job done and go home.But, when contact is lost with the workers down below, the OZA Salvager's have no choice but to go down and investigate. Will Saff and the others be able to escape with their lives? Or, will they become just another victim to the horrors that wait in the tunnels of Mine-198?If you like your science fiction action-packed than sink your teeth into Mine-198!
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Liczba stron: 111
The Salvager's War, Volume 1
Published by Sleeping Possum Press, 2016.
This is a work of fiction. Similarities to real people, places, or events are entirely coincidental.
First edition. June 6, 2016.
Copyright © 2016 Jacob Peyton.
Written by Jacob Peyton.
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THE OZA SALVAGE SHIP touched down on Mine 198 with a three-man corporate team and 40 other independent contractors. Saff was the first one off, behind him came Bukkard and Telos. The rest of the men were independents they had hired on Terra V to help in the dismantling of the mine. Bukkard hadn’t wanted half of them since they seemed to be so green, but with corporate breathing down their necks, the boss hadn’t exactly had time to find more experienced men. Bukkard spat loudly down onto the dark red clay that made up the surface of Mine 198. It was barely even big enough to be a called a planet. Saff, looked up at the large, angry, red sun that glared down on Mine 198’s surface. He hated planets that orbited too close their sun, the increase in heat made his already miserable job that much worse. At least the company had thought to outfit them with SUN suits that helped to block out the heat and harmful radiation. One of the very few precautions the company took when it came to sending their salvagers to backwater planets. The independents were on their own, however. Saff, thought the heat in his suit was near unbearable, but looking at the contractors with close sticking to them, thick with sweat and their skin already showing signs of sunburn, he felt just a little cooler. He would still prefer it if they were already below ground and away from the suns harmful rays.
Bukkard looked around and hollered “What are you men standing around looking at?! Move out!” Bukkard’s way of reminding the men that they weren’t moving fast enough for his taste.
Telos, the third member of the OZA corporate team, got the their old, rusted roller moving piled high with packs of gear and ringed with other miscellaneous tools and Bukkard led the way to the Mine entrance: a simple, hard steel building that was only sixty feet tall. Its size was nothing compared to the mines below it which went for miles and miles.. That was thing with OZA Corp. mines: they always looked tiny from the outside, in comparison to what they contained. MINE-198 was supposed to be the fourth deepest out of all the OZA controlled mining planets. If what he had heard was true, some of the tunnels were supposed to snake through the planets very core. A dangerous and now outlawed mining practice. Too bad that there was probably nothing left behind worth taking. He shrugged settling his gear more thoroughly on his back and trudged with the others through the large steel doors of MINE-198.
Even through the suit he could feel the immediate temperature drop. The thick concrete mixture of the building keeping out the worst of the surfaces heat. The others also seemed to be relieved. Saff, stood off with Bukkard and listened to the clanking of the rollers tracks on the metal floor.
Telos handed the roller controls off to one of the hired hands that would be taking it down to the depths with them. Saff could never get over how twitchy Telos always appeared. Even after working with the man for three years he had never gotten Telos to tell him why he was always so nervous.
Bukkard spat again, signaling for Saff and Telos to come to him. “They sure let this go to shit.” He said gesturing to the halls and rooms around him.
Telo’s looked at him. “You’ve been here before, sir?”
“Yeah, I helped install some of the modulators, even taught some safety classes back when Mine 198 was first chosen for harvesting.” He said. “But that was also 80 years ago for this planet's cycle.”
“Eighty years?” Saff asked.
“Yeah, space time dilation still weirds me out, too.” He muttered. “Hell, half these hired hands are only here because they have a rap sheet a mile long, they sign on so any warrants on them will be out of date and anyone looking for them will be dead by the time they return.” He told them. The message there was pretty clear. Don’t turn your back on them for a minute. For most close outs the three of them had been enough. Bukkard, had been angry about having to bring on so many hired hands, but the orders had been non-negotiable.
The independents moved off to the far wall shuffling awkwardly through the hallway at organizing themselves over by the large cargo lift that would take them into the mine while Saff and the others waited near the entrance they wouldn’t be going down with the rest. That was much to dangerous even for them, right now the men where restless but eager to work. But, there was no reason to take chances. They were packed in tight. The upper areas of the mines were never used to accommodate such large parties as much of the living quarters and working areas were below. The upper areas were mostly used for clerical duties and offloading areas for drop ships. Saff and the other corporate employees would sit in the upper command office and monitor the workers progress.
“Listen up!” Bukkard bellowed so he would be heard. His voice carried through the packed hallway. Loud enough to stop any idle conversation between the workers as they turned to listen. “We are only going to go through Tunnels One through Four. Grab anything valuable and not tied down, put it in your packs, if you find valuable minerals or ore put it on the roller. Once, your team is finished place the detonation charges in your assigned tunnel. And remember any edible or personal items left behind are yours to divide amongst yourself. And trust me when I say there will be plenty of loot down there for you all, without having to resort stealing from the company.”
Saff nodded his head in agreement, it never failed when the OZA labeled a mine to be closed. They simply pulled all the miners and other personnel out. Usually leaving the places in the worst possible condition. Then they sent in guys like Bukkard and Telos, sometimes with crew but usually in small teams to scavenge everything worth taking and to make sure that any sensitive or useful material was pulled for the companies records.
After Bukkard split them into ten man teams, the others wasted no time using the lift to ferry themselves and the large roller down. As they were doing that, Saff and Telo’s went to make their way to the Command Room.
“These other guys are just for the heavy lifting.” Bukkard told them as they passed, reminding them to stay out of the other workers way. “I want you and Telos to work with the data systems and to monitor the other’s progress from the control room. Also go through some of the operation reports and see if there are any small lodes left we can hit while we are here.It would be nice to get a bonus if we can.” He finished saying.
Damn, Saff thought miserably the last thing he wanted to do was dig through old operation files for mineral reports. From the look on Telo’s face the older man felt the same way. Saff hated the extra work especially on backwater planets like this, but he had come to respect the mercenary mind of Bukkard over the years. The extra money in his pocket hadn’t hurt either.
Saff followed Telos down the corridor towards the control room. It was smaller than some of the others Saff had been in. A large monitor took up most of the inner wall with an adjacent room to store all the data systems. Everything here was outdated. Massive data terminals lined the walls and if he wasn’t mistaken even several drawers of physical files. He and Telo's removed their own Nano-hard drives and prepared to begin transferring files from the terminals. The physical files would have to be destroyed with the rest of the mine.If they had the time to look through it anything worthwhile would have to be scanned in manually. Saff really hoped they wouldn’t have the time because those jobs tended to fall to him.
“Hey, look, Saff! Some idiots left the coffee behind.” Telos said cheerfully turning on the percolator. The only time that Telos seemed to be happy was when he found something he could sell on the black markets.They really must have been in a hurry if they left the coffee behind. Saff thought to himself.
Mine workers like all corporate employees tended to try to take anything that wasn’t nailed down when they left.. And with all the ration shortages lately, coffee was definitely an item worth taking. Saff, had heard that on some colony worlds a pound of coffee could net enough dough to for someone to live like a king for years.
“Maybe they were here so long that they didn’t know its worth.” Saff said. He was still unable to believe that someone would have just left that behind.
“Maybe. That or they were just in that much of a hurry to get out of here.” Telos replied.
“And why would that be?” Saff asked looking away from the large monitor and then rechecking his transfer status. He couldn’t help feeling like these file transfers were going to take forever. Both, of them were still at their first terminals and they about twenty in all. He really hoped that the rest of the crew was making better progress with the roller.
“Notice anything strange about the layout of this place?” Telos asked with a knowing grin.
“No, should I have?” Saff asked looking back over the map of the central compound.
Telos laughed as he poured two cups of the strong dark brew, “Yeah, in this whole compound they didn’t have any pleasure rooms.”
Saff almost spit his coffee everywhere and not just from the liquids intense heat, a mining world without pleasure rooms? No wonder they were all so eager to get out of here. Telos was still shaking his head with mirth.
“Think of that man, all those workers and not even a Vice Hall. Somebody here must have really pissed off some big wig back at corporate.” Telos was having to hold his sides so he wouldn’t accidentally topple from his chair. There was a ding as the Telos first terminal transfer was complete.
Saff couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t have Pleasure rooms or Vice Halls, every mine did so that way workers were more relaxed and there were less incidences of violence between them. It was a wonder that Mine 198 still stood at all. Poor bastards.
“Was this a prison world?” Saff asked. They had been quite popular before the Corporate Wars. Unpaid prisoners forced to work of their sentences in the employ of the very corporations that they had wronged. But after the wars the newly formed Council of Worlds had gotten rid of them.
“Nope, every employee on MINE-198, was in good standing with the OZA corporation.” Telos replied.
Bukkard walked in just after Saff’s first transfer completed. Two down, eighteen left to go. “Hey, did you guys notice anything strange about the map?” He asked, sending Telos into another fit of laughter.
BUKKARD WAS JUST AS excited about the coffee as they had been. His rough demeanor melted away by the bitter dark nectar. The file transfers were still on schedule, however Bukkard had gotten Saff to work on scanning the physical files one by one. Telos now had to work both of the transfer devices, leaving Saff to try to figure out what exactly OZA would find valuable information wise. Corporations like the one they worked for rose and fell by the flow of information if they left anything behind that could be used by rivals then not only would they be risking their career, but also their lives. Telos, was busy deleting anything that could be harmful in the wrong hands. Mostly, percentage yield reports, if anyone knew exactly how much raw material a Corporation had access too, then they couldn’t ask the ridiculously sky-high prices for it. Or use it to extort Colony worlds.
The companies paranoia was limitless. While they would be the last people ever, to walk the floors of MINE-198, they had to show proof that they destroyed all sensitive material after transfer, prior to detention. Saff didn’t understand how the company thought their rivals could pull data off of obliterated terminals, but Bukkard swore it could be done.
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