Asteroid Miners Rescued off Lucifer

No one lands there anymore. Planetary mining firms ignore it on their charts. Prospectors do the same. Rumor says the asteroid is possessed.

Regardless, it is true there have been 12 failed attempts to mine or establish mining colonies on (1930) Lucifer. The carbonaceous C group asteroid from the outer regions, 34 kilometers in diameter, is valued at more than 100 trillion dollars.

So, it came as little surprise the latest endeavor to vanquish Lucifer meet with trouble. Staking a claim on this black arrowhead spinning in the asteroid belt, a group of unlicensed prospectors found themselves stranded, and careening out of control after a mining accident. What was supposed to be a directed nuclear explosion got out of hand. 

A miniature device meant to open and explore a new vein of helium-3 went haywire. The drilling warhead exploded at 20x the dialed in strength. The asteroid split, and fractured into thousands of pieces. 

The prospectors and mining crews were separated into two groups clinging to life on giant flakes of rock. Floating in the debris field the men were stunned. The exit wound from the asteroid spread out hundreds of miles in a matter of seconds. 

Explosive ordnance officer, John Kearney, and the lead prospector, Reggie Reynolds, were killed in the initial explosion. Standing too close to the blast, their space suits were compromised by debris and the large shockwave.

Unconfirmed reports from survivors imply the explosives man, and prospect leader ignored warnings, and attempts by others to stop them from placing the explosive.

Reports from multiple sources also confirm the two men walked right up to the nuclear mining device before detonation.

A surviving crew member was overheard rambling on his way into the hospital bay aboard a space yacht, the Grand Milky Way, “We told Reggie to stop, Gus tried to punch him, knock him over, anything. But he wouldn’t budge, it was like he was stuck to the rock. He threw Gus straight off into space. I have no idea what happened. He turned toward me, and I swear, I saw a shifting shape glow on his forehead. I passed… I passed out. I’m sorry. Next thing I knew, I was on this ship. This ship. This ship…” The survivor was given a sedative and taken to a recovery pod.

A small group of miners left on the biggest asteroid shard found some luck. Their own mining craft was still attached. Managing to get back inside their ship they sent out several distress calls. Hammered by rocks during the explosion, the craft was unable to liftoff, but, it would at least provide safety until a rescue could be attempted. 

Left with few options, the other half of the crew had to stay sheltered on a rock slab no larger than a few ping pong tables. Protected by an atmosphere bubble-tent, the 2 men, 1 woman, and 1 android had less than 30 hours of oxygen. 

Under constant threat of microscopic space debris, a paint fleck able to pierce a space helmet like a sniper’s bullet, the miners braved extreme danger. 

No spacecraft belonging to the crew’s parent company, BhenCore Space Mining, were in the area. Other independent contractors mining small and medium sized asteroids in the belt all claimed they received no emergency communications. 

An ore miner on asteroid Rarahu said, “I was working all day, I had my radio on and everything. Loud too. I was listening to music, but still, an emergency blast like theirs should have come through clear.”

Facing foreclosure on his ship, and mining equipment, the small time contractor Reggie Reynolds chose this asteroid despite warning, and failing to obtain a permit. Galactic repo men were said to be on the tail of Reynolds and his family in recent months. Debitor reports show he was behind on several accounts and payments.

It’s thought the prospector was trying to strike the richest resource vein ever discovered in the galaxy. Speculation has risen the value of helium-3 to $80,000 per ounce. And (1930) Lucifer has the highest concentration of helium-3 in the entire asteroid belt. The celestial object is worth more than all the gold ever mined on Earth.

Reynold’s crew trenched a patch of the rock’s surface about one square mile wide, and to a depth of around 13 ft. The chief scientist calculated a yield at least 5,400 pounds of helium-3. The haul from the topsoil alone would be enough to power a city the size of Chicago for a decade.

Even though the top layer was going to prove beyond valuable, Reynolds was said to have pushed his crew to explore further. Looking for a well of frozen water, or perhaps a giant gold heart.

The explosive ordnance officer was there by mandate of international treaty. An EOO has to be present with every mining or prospecting team in space.

Reportedly an argument erupted. After which, it appears John Kearney set the miniature nuclear device into a deep, hastily dug pit on Lucifer. 

Moments after Kearney placed the device, it exploded. It is unknown whether the size and timing of the explosion were properly set on the instrument panel, or if there was an error in the device itself. 

Purely by chance, a small team of Space Force SealS, training on 2040 Chalonge, saw the dusty mushroom cloud. The SealS (Sea, Air, Land, Space) were using the asteroid belt for maneuvers, and as a new proving ground. 

SealS team 3, a micro-tactics group, comprised of a man, a woman, and their robotic k9 unit managed to evade the debris field created during the nuclear explosion. Landing nearby, the SealS attached steadying cables via harpoon guns, and began their rescue.

Using a prototype tractor beam to compress dark matter between the stranded groups and their ship, the SealS were able to stabilize the spinning asteroid chunks.

Once in range, both SealS rappelled across. After treating the injured, a slow crawl began, back across automated cable lines to the SealS transport ship. The extraction process finished without problems. 

With the surviving miners and prospectors aboard, their Xcraft received a direct hit to the engine. During takeoff a rogue aluminum spear knocked out the main rocket. Unable to get back to Earth under their own power, the crew had to rendezvous with the Grand Milky Way, a galaxy yacht making a pleasure cruise around Jupiter and back. 

Telepathic leaks from crew members aboard the Grand Milky Way contained information contrary to official military reports. We were informed the SealS sent an automated container ship full of helium-3 back to Space Force headquarters in Boca Raton. If true, it’s possible the valuable load will be returned to the BhenCore Space Mining, but only after a contribution to the Presidentor’s National Excellence fund. The fund is a suspected source of undocumented money for America’s black projects, and its classified endeavors in space.

No SealS issued comment, but some of the miners interviewed wished to express their gratitude. Asking to remain anonymous one miner stated, “Those two showed tremendous courage and selflessness. There was something evil up there. I know it. But they weren’t afraid. Well at least they didn’t act like it. And that dog. I think the dog scared whatever the hell that thing was away.” 

When asked what “thing” he meant, the survivor just began repeating.  “I just want to go home.” 

Galactic Catholic Church space stations, migrating through the area, tried to respond, launching their own spacecraft. After deployment however, the automated priest-ships never reached the asteroid’s surface, burning up, or spiraling off course before landing. Space Pope, Luke the 4th, has declined to comment on the missions, or about the events on (1930) Lucifer.

Competition has grown fierce for heavy metals, asteroid water, and other resources from space. The Presidentor of the United States of North America gave a telepathic press conference this morning, saying, “I couldn’t be more proud of our Armed Forces, no matter what world they’re on. It’s just another example, the latest example of their superiority, and their necessity.”

The Presidentor went on again to honor those fallen Space Force soldiers who died recapturing Fort Armstrong. A colony on the Moon overrun by federal prisoners. He listed names for 10 whole minutes.

Survivors from the Lucifer incident are recuperating. Some face fines, but public sympathy will most likely see charges of mining without a licence dropped. Heavy drilling and shipping operations in the asteroid belt will continue. 

An official investigation has been initiated by NASA and the Commerce department. Other unnamed government agencies are said to be running their own parallel investigations. For now, the asteroid (1930) Lucifer has been blacklisted. Whatever remains of the rock is off limits. No further exploration or mining. 

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