Black and the Moon of Gold # 22
Alan P. Ellis
2015. Copyright in all media and in all forms remains the property of caelin
day pty ltd (aus). Any reproduction in whole or part is conditional on the
written permission of caelin day
as a child: or even when grown up, hasent dreamed of finding lost treasure?
What searching mind hasn’t had the fleeting fantasy of finding an
old map in a dusty and forgotten corner of the attic? Of course that only
happens in fantasy?
can come in different forms and types, and they don’t have to be forgotten;
they can be in plain sight; but where nobody takes the time to look...
Harman wasn’t looking for gold; at least not in the actual metal:
what he was looking for was about as far away as you can get from the bright
yellow stuff; he was looking for iron.
was a new geologist: new as displayed in the diploma hanging behind his
desk that he had been awarded: and framed, just a week before.
out of college he had been employed by the Pittsburgh Mining Corp to browse
over maps of empty space in the hope of locating ferrous asteroids that
could be mined. It was at the same time easy (iron is fairly common), and
hard, (much of it is impracticable to mine for dozens of reasons) but most
of all it was incredibly boring.
boring that no experienced: call that self-respecting geologist, would waste
their time: especially as there were algorithms that didn’t make the
brain go numb examining empty void after empty void in minute detail.
those who didn’t do it knew that computers could be tasked with examining
the countless spectra and calculating the distance: as well as dissect data
within a hundred other parameters, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a
week: come rain or shine; blizzard or drought. It really was a waste of
anyone’s time to read data that a computer could process in minutes,
if not seconds.
Richard didn’t feel he was wasting his time. He was well aware that
what he was doing was superfluous, but he was strait out of college and
excited about getting a position of geological assistant at one of the premier
mining corporations, and he knew that this was a test: after a few weeks
of displayed diligence and dedication he’d get into some real exploration.
Richard really wanted was to go to the moon. Opening a mine on the moon
was an event that still made news: though each time one was opened it made
it more commonplace,
were now eighteen separate companies mining the Moon: many at multiple sites,
but there was still the chance to find something no one had ever found before.
It was Richards dream to go to the barren satellite and dig his name into
followed week until it was Friday the twenty-seventh, and as the red circle
around the date (along with the stylized fireworks) was meant to highlight
his last day.
arrived at work to be met by his supervisor. The man had a serious look
on his face and Richard felt his heart sink; then the supervisor reached
his arm around and patted Richard his back. A smile bloomed on the supervisors
face and Richard beamed. Nothing was said but Richard knew he had passed
the loyalty test.
activated his workstation and opened up the message from head office that
was waiting. On the following Monday he would join an exploration team as
second assistant minerals analyst and at last go out into the field. It
wasn’t the Moon, but it was a step up the long ladder to it.
less conscientious man than Richard would have grabbed all his bits and
pieces and wasted the day dreaming, but Richard was not that kind of man
and he sat at the workstation: pulled up the star map he had been looking
at for the last two days and began once more to examine it.
maps can be overwhelming; they are saturated with every conceivable type
of cosmic object, and mostly they are so far away that their light has been
traveling from as far back as the dawn of creation. The skill is to be oblivious
to almost everything yet spot the tiny visitors that race into, and race
out of reach. Even now Richard still hoped he could find a rich ore body
that could be quickly exploited: or better still captured and exploited
at leisure. If he could he was sure to climb a few more steps of that ladder
to the Moon.
was just before lunch that he came across the remnants of a catastrophic
supernova. He had observed many similar explosions before: in fact they
were origin of the lumps of metal he sought. Supernovas create iron, and
this explosion was in a class of its own.
excitement grew when he discovered it wasn’t a normal supernova. It
was most probably the collision of two super-dense, burnt out stars. In
the distant past both had been supernova and what had been left had crashed
into each other.
he called up the computer data: hoping: expecting, it to be as exciting
as he was getting exited, but the computer had disregarded the data as not
relevant and too far away.
it was peculiar? Supernovas were always big; but puzzlingly: given this
ones size, it had given off an incredibly short burst of Gamma radiation.
Richard knew that was an indicator of a special event; the collision of
two neutron stars. Disappointment slowly set in; interesting as it was:
and no doubt even more so to a cosmologist, it didn’t even come close
to the profile he had been instructed to search for. Suddenly it dawned
on him that he had lost interest in searching for asteroids. In fewer hours
than he could count on the fingers of one hand he would be done with them
for good; at least on star maps.
he realized he was curious, and he looked a little deeper into the data.
What he found shocked him.
wondered if he should call his supervisor or do a detailed analysis. Deep
analyses take time, and anyway the debris was still too far away to be of
any benefit to the Pitsburg Mining Corp.
didn’t know what to do. It wasn’t iron, and he had been specifically
told to ignore anything else but iron. He looked up at the time; soon everybody
going into the field was meeting up for a drink. He checked the computer
data again and saw that the debris had been blasted out at incredible velocities.
him the door swung open to frame one of his buddies. “I
don’t believe it?” the
“Still working… Come on are you going to the pub or are you
going to stay here all night while we have fun?”
smiled and then looked back at the star map. Nobody could go that far: they
probably wouldn’t in his lifetime so he clicked the ‘of no commercial
interest’ box. He grabbed his jacket and closed down the workstation.
Harman was an old man; he knew he was about to die. He didn’t know
exactly how long it would be, but old men don’t have as much time
left as young men think they have. Dying wasn’t a problem; he had
had a mostly good career, but not with the Pitsburg mining Corp. On Friday
the twenty-seventh as he had reached the lobby, a supervisor from human
resources was waiting. The man informed him that the corporations moon-mining
venture was bankrupt, and that he no longer had a job. He left the building
in a state of utter disbelief.
had been aware of the recession; they happened every couple of decades,
but Pitsburg was a big conglomerate and it was unbelievable any part of
it could go bust so quickly? But bigger companies had failed and its lines
of credit had dried up. With no money flow the Pitsburg Mining Corp couldn’t
pay its bills and ground to a halt. It should have had a reserve, but by
bad timing that had been used to finance expansion on the moon. It was a
complicated and common story. The pitsburg Mining corp. was broken up and
ceased to exist, as did Richards’s future.
the recession ended and Richard got another job; one that gave him a new
life that wasn’t in geology. Occasionally in the following yeas Richard
dreamed of the explosion he had discovered. He knew that geology had come
a long way in the intervening years, and that mining asteroids and reaching
out beyond the solar system was now commonplace. Sometimes he wondered if
someone else had found it too, but if they did he never heard.
was when one of his great grandchildren was studying at university that
Richard again remembered the catastrophic explosion. As it would be Derek:
the son of one of his granddaughters was studying geology.
moon of gold?” Richard
said in a paternalistic way.
“Can you imagine that?”
in the middle of the explosion.”
the explosion?” Derek
said in faint interest as his mind pictured a fantasized golden moon.
stars; neutron stars; at least I think that’s what the data said.
It was along time ago?”
Derek was thinking was something he had read; about how when two neutron
stars merge they create and distribute metals that were on a different part
of the periodic table; and gold was just one of them.
didn’t find his treasure map in the dusty attic he found it in the
deepest depths of his great grandfathers memories, and when Richard passed
away Derek didn’t forget about the golden moon.
the years passed he learned all he could about neutron stars and where they
were to be found: worryingly there were lots of them. It did help a little
that Richard remembered the quadrant; but that was still a vast area without
the original star map. A map of Gamma ray sources honed him in a little
closer. It took a long while: a very long while but eventually he had what
he was sure was his treasure map.
begged and borrowed until he could afford to get himself a spacecraft. It
wasn’t a very good spacecraft; in fact it was decrepit by spaceship
standards, but it had a big cargo bay. It needed to be big to match the
dreams of Derek Benedict, the first.
the Galactic Militia boarded the derelict spaceship they found it abandoned.
That explained why it had been reported by a passenger ship as unresponsive.
They quickly knew its history from the markings passed onto them by the
commander of the same passenger vessel. They also knew that they weren’t
the only ones to know of the derelict, and from the buzz across the media
it seemed every single passenger had told someone; who had told someone;
who had told someone else.
many years Derek’s family could at last find closure after his fateful
journey, but while knowing what the ships name was and who had been aboard
solved a decades long mystery; where it had been, and why it was unmanned
began a whole new one.
took a while longer for news to leak out of what the Galactic Militia found
aboard the spacecraft as they penetrated deeper in and entered the cargo
hold, but when it did the mystery of Derek Benedicts flight into deep space
became legend. Inside the hold was Aladdin’s cave of precious metal.
anyone had really believed in Derek’s dream; no matter who he told.
You couldn’t blame people for being suspicious, as Derek shared no
details: even to the investors who offered to join him in his venture if
only he would reveal where the moon was. His reluctance to offer any proof
worried those investors and soon enthusiasm for his promises of riches faded
and he became the object of ridicule.
now there was proof that he had the last laugh; the spaceships hold was
full of gold. His detractors were stunned and his family became rich beyond
what any of them had imagined was possible.
evidence of any wrongdoing Derek’s fate was recorded a misadventure.
It wasn’t the first time an obsessed man had left everything: including
his family, to search for treasure and been lost. What was unusual was that
against all odds he had found his moon made of solid gold.
the mystery was yet to become deeper: a government conspiracy some claimed,
when the spaceships logs were found to have been deliberately been wiped.
It was tantalizing that somewhere out in the void of space there was a golden
moon for the taking, but there was no way to discover where it could be;
though that didn’t stop people trying.
heard it before.”
Jet said dismissively as he stood; then walked over to the drink dispenser.
it’s a fact,”
could replace the Silver Flyer a dozen times if I had been given a credit
every time some expedition set off searching for buried treasure.” He
knew it was an exaggeration but felt it made the point.
have to agree with Rosie.”
Chub got up to join Jet beside the dispenser. “I’m
hearing that at least three cartels are interested; including the Devil?”
took a swig from his cold drink and looked at Chub. “Maybe
it’s all just a way to capture him; dangle a carrot too big to resist?”
shook her head dismissively.
liked how her hair seemed to pour over her one naked shoulder when she did
that, but her face was challenging. “Your
suggesting Benedict has set it all up for the Galactic Militia; I can’t
don’t know Rosie?”
Jet shrugged in a know-it-all way. “Maybe
they have something on him; a massive tax dodge that went wrong: or something?”
Chub shook his head. “Naaa,
Benedict wouldn’t risk being seen as a Militia snout whatever they’ve
got on him.”
costing him a fortune.”
all turned to mad Jack.
price of gold is falling and he already has a lot: it’ll be hurting
him financially; he wouldn’t want that either?”
all looked at Jack blankly.
you lot have shares?”
continued blank look’s said they didn’t.
got a few shares; including gold… and it don’t take a genius
to work out that if a lump of it that big was found, what we have would
said firmly. “Someone
hides it away and cashes it in slowly?”
a boulder at a time? The universe could be dead before they cashed it all
don’t need a rock; just a small hillock would be fine for me?” Jack
said in all seriousness.
was the first to smile. “Sorry;
I just had a vision?”
she said beginning to laugh. “I
was imagining you with a pick, and an old barrow full of gold.”
ahead and laugh, but that’ll do me; as long as it’s a golden
pick and barrow?”
and Chub grinned picturing their own visions.
shrugged as their smiled began to fade. “I
don’t see as it’s that funny; What’s wrong with me getting
a few barrow loads; I’ve already lost some of my pension with the
speculation; it only seems right I get my share?”
was the only one still laughing when he realized they were all looking at
was the first to ask the question. “Why
because it’s almost certainly a waste of time?”
it is; but what if it isn’t?”
you know it can’t be true; think about it a chunk of gold the size
of a moon?”
doesn’t have to be that big; it’s called the moon of gold but
nobody knows what actual size it is?”
felt they were all ganging up on him. “The
only fact anybody knows is that nobody can prove if it’s real?”
Chub spoke. “But
what if it is real Jet… what if Benedict; the Devil or any of the
hundreds of others organizing spaceships do get a share?”
said Chub defensively.
“In the old days anybody who could buy a pick and could walk went
can’t walk in outer space…”
Jet let his rebuff fade; it was a silly comparison. “And
what happened; chaos, fighting, claim jumping… who’ll own it
general laws of possession.”
Rosie said confidently. “According
to the mining laws the first person to find and claim it, owns it.”
suddenly became agitated. “Jet
that could be us?”
how do we do that Chub, how do we stake a claim without even having the
faintest idea of where to…”
you guys would let me finish?”
Rosie interrupted. “That
person was Derek Benedict.”
and Chub went quiet in a disappointed; but Jack saw a flaw in Rosie’s
it he may have but he never registered a claim?”
and Jet nodded.
but there’s enough documentation that he set out to find the moon;
and he brought back enough gold from somewhere to start the Benedicts dynasty
off, so I think it’s a fair assumption that his descendants will do
all they can to uphold their claim?”
growing enthusiasm slumped.
“If Benedict has the law behind him then everybody is wasting their
time; even if it is real?”
true; of course unless you happen to be a Benedict… say like an illegitimate
wasn’t sure at what point he agreed; or even if ever did agree, but
several days’ later Chubs news cemented his decision.
do you know it’s the Devil?”
don’t; he’s not going to advertise to the Militia where he is
but enough of his top generals are moving that he has to be?”
in ten spacecraft?”
It seemed an awful lot to Jet.
more; he’ll use as many as he thinks will confuse the Militia, and
then again maybe he’s not even going to go. His number three is, and
he can act for the Devil in every way he needs to?”
are they heading?”
don’t know; they seem to be splitting into three separate groups with
three separate destination; of course that could be a ploy and they’ll
join up again?”
confusion; nobody knows who to follow?”
would be the one to follow; what’s he doing?”
disappeared but there’s talk of heavy equipment being taken from a
couple of his mining projects, with no apparent onward destination?”
do we do flick a coin and follow one of the devils crews, or follow the
turned to see Rosie had come through the door.
can dig without machinery?”
was nodding excitedly.
“We can follow it.”
turned to him.
“And how do you propose to do that without them knowing?”
can rig up a transmitter and we can follow the signal.”
was an un-remarkable and almost exhausted asteroid. It had been a Benedict
mine for since it had entered to system and now as it was about to leave
it was just a rock full of holes; very big holes.
sure this is the one?”
Jet was doubtful as they came out of hyper drive.
Rosie didn’t sound anymore confident.
the long range scan it looks like Benedicts pulling equipment off because
it’s no use anymore?”
shrugged. “Maybe that was the plan?”
wasn’t convinced. “If
I knew where a moon of gold was I wouldn’t wait until the gear came
looked at him. “Well
Chub that probably explains a lot.”
mean I’d get straight there before anyone found it.”
had found it in a long time why would they now?”
my experience that’s how it happens all the time.”
all turned to mad Jack.
long has Benedict known where it is?”
he thinks it is.”
I’m getting at is how come he’s looking now?”
was something Rosie had wondered too. “Rumour
is that he’s always known?”
when you worked for him he said nothing: or did he?”
would he tell me Jack?”
a starter you’r his daughter.”
all you have heard about family, Benedict shares nothing.”
I’m getting at is that he could have known for years or maybe someone
found it and went to him?”
telling anyone?” Jet
looked at him, that didn’t make sense.
start a gold rush like this?” Jack
shook his head.
“No, it makes sense that a single prospector couldn’t mine or
secure a whole moon: he’d need a big miner to do it. Heck I’d
be prepared to share rather than let someone else move in.”
looked at the others; nobody wanted to contradict him.
it doesn’t matter.”
Said Jet at last. “We’re
here and we need to find out where the equipment is going.”
smiled in a sarcastic way.
“I’ll give them al call shall I?”
we can ask one of them?”
looked at Chub puzzled; he indicated the scanner. It indicated that there
were thirty: maybe more, spacecraft scattered around the asteroid at various
“Seems it’s not just us who think following the machinery is
the way to go?”
the upside is that we’re not going to draw all the attention.”
Silver Flyer settled onto the rocky surface of the opposite side of the
should be okay here: this sector looks like it has been stripped out a long
time ago,” said
Rosie as she shut down the engines.
I just remind everybody that it’s a long walk?” muttered
said Rosie impatiently. “If
we want to remain unnoticed we have to land as far away from the active
area as we can.”
“And the buggy is out of the question?”
we don’t want anyone to know we are here it is.”
could be too late,” said jet. “They may have scanned us already?”
Jet; it’s an ore mine; why would they have asteroid wide security,
but if we trundle over on a buggy they are bound to notice.”
almost zero gravity.”
Chub pointed out.
“If we hit a bump at buggy speed we could launch into space?”
began to laugh. “Now
that could draw attention; a buggy sailing over site administration?”
“As long as you both remember if we get sprung we may need launching
to get away?”
“All we need to do is attach the transmitter to the excavator. If
we need a quick exit Jack can bring the Flyer closer.”
offered no more as they donned their space suits.
the suits walking was a clumsy stumble, until they happened upon a more
rapid way of traveling. Pushing off with one leg they found they could soar
twenty or more meters before they pushed off again with the other foot.
Even dressed for the depths of space they covered the distance rapidly:
too rapidly, for as they got closer slowing down became a problem. Chub
was the first to find the wrong way to when he landed with both feet flat
and his body countering the spring. Initially it worked well as he dug two
rough channels with his heels: then his boots came up against a rock that
refused to give. Suddenly Chub found himself sprawled flat, and still sliding
over the ground.
and Rosie passed him and looked back anxiously; but they couldn’t
help, and in moments Chub was left far behind.
moment Chub was airborne; the next he could feel the suit scraping over
the rough surface. Visions of it being torn open flashed through his mind
as he scrabbled to lift his body above the ground. He did, but only by stretching
out his hands and arms and beginning a frantic hand over hand horizontal
soon as he could he began to stiffen his arms again, but this time much
more carefully. Slowly he slowed until his legs rose up just a fraction
above the horizontal and he performed an extremely slow: and almost elegant:
rigid bodied, cart wheeled forwards.
and Rosie didn’t make the same mistake and were soon racing: carefully,
back. When they reached him he was laid on his side rubbing sealant onto
the front of his suit.
said anxiously, as he fell to his knees. “Chub;
are you okay?”
Chub in reply. “My
ankle is killing me, and I’ve torn the suit.”
he all right?”
Rosie said fearfully as she too knelt besides them.
looked through his visor at her. “He’s
hurt his leg…”
spoke over him. “The
suit’s torn, I need more sealant.”
Chub gestured with his hand towards his other: pressed tightly against his
quickly checked the gauge as Rosie pulled out her tube of tearfix. “He’s
losing air fast,”
said Jet as he tore off the tag covering his own tube. “We
have to get him inside, and fast.”
He looked back, but the Silver Flyer out of sight and klick’s away.
was looking back too and as they both turned to face each other they knew
they had only one option: they turned forward. Ahead: just peeping over
the horizon they could see the flashing beacon on the excavators signal
Unit 45ad5w was massive by any measure. It was an early version of the machines
that crawled over asteroids as they slowly demolished them. As it moved
it literally ate the broken ground in front of it, separating valuable ore
into gigantic skips that were hauled up sky cables to be dumped into transport
spacecraft hovering several kilometers above the asteroid. The machines
were autonomous and hour after hour they worked around the asteroid like
some gigantean scraper peeling the skin from an apple. But now Excavator
Unit 45ad5w was still.
felt like he was in some crazy three-legged: or was that five legged race.
Chub had his arms around Jet and Rosie’s shoulders: they had theirs
around his back. As uncomfortable as it felt synchronizing their leaps Jet
was glad Rosie had insisted they all go ‘in case something goes wrong’,
and it had.
hadn’t time for the secret approach they had planned and instead headed
straight for the air lock across open ground. The door was large: obviously
to allow some type of vehicle access. Worryingly it opened wide just before
they got to it.
interior airtight door opened into a large garage holding several buggies,
drilling machines and assorted trailers piled with crates. That was all
they had time to see before another door further inside opened. Four rough
looking men came through. One spoke with a tone that was more annoyed than
are you doing here?”
lifted his visor.
he said in a demanding yet apologetically way.
mean what are you doing on the asteroid?”
hurt, he needs help, and we don’t have the facilities?”
is private property; owned by the Benedict corporation: your trespassing.”
know’ we’re sorry but we had to land.”
are you here?”
just tried to explain…”
began Jet before the man cut him off.
are you and all the others here?”
he gestured into the air.
just need help; we thought you would have better medi facilities?”
man could see Chub grimacing.
get the doc to look at him, and then you have to leave; immediately.”
him this way.”
The man looked at biggest of the others. “Kelt,
give him a hand.”
strode forward and grinned at Rosie: she let him take Chubs arm without
making any further eye contact. Kelt almost swept Chub into the air.
short while later Rosie and Jet sat outside the small treatment room. The
area was very sparse but the medical facility’s were as good as they
had hoped, so when the doctor came out they were confident Chub was being
well looked after.
a small fracture; nothing serious; at least in the long term. I’ve
given him something for the inflammation and to reduce the tumefaction,
but he needs to remain still for a few hours. There’s no point in
you staying here: I suggest you go to the canteen, they have a theatre and
He looked at Rosie. “Though
I should warn you much of the material available is in the form of men’s
mag’s… not a lot written content… if you understand
what I mean?”
did and it made her feel uncomfortable.
up to level six and follow the blue markers… you’ll soon see
the direction signs?”
looked anxiously at the door where Chub was behind. “If
it’s all the same we would prefer to keep him company?”
it isn’t; It may not be life threatening but he has been in extreme
pain; I’ve given him a sedative so he is slipping in and out of consciousness:
if you want him up and about it’s doctors orders that he gets complete
rest, and he won’t get that with you two feeling you have to keep
six; follow the blue markers: grab something in the canteen; it’s
between shift changes so you’ll be alone for a couple of hours.”
turned until the doctor spoke again.
“And stay away from any other areas…” he
looked at Rosie. “We
only do crew transfers twice a year, and as we’re closing down the
operation most of the men have gone over their usual time… they are
very… There’s only a couple of women aboard, and forty men…
those women are used to how it is, but they still keep themselves to themselves.”
felt a shiver run down her spine.
drifted between avenues of gold; strangely he stopped and reached over to
a small hoofed animal statue; he picked it up and bit off the head. It tasted
like a particularly nice curry he had eaten recently. At the back of his
mind it seemed there was something wrong with what he was doing? He put
the statue down and drifted on looking for the next taste. There wasn’t
one though as everything was fading. Now there was a voice demanding that
he wake up.
he opened his eyes. Groggily he looked up and suddenly he was wide-awake.
Benedict was stood over him.
are you here?”
Were the words he wanted to speak. “To
find out if the excavator is going to the golden moon.” Chub
was shocked at how quickly: and truthfully, he answered.
did you know I was here?”
Chub told Benedict what he asked.
did you know the excavator was going to go to the moon of gold?”
desperately tried to say nothing but he gave the information feely. “We
telling me it was just a lucky guess?”
said follow the machinery.”
girl… and you intended to follow it without being seen?”
are going to place a transmitter so we can follow.”
didn’t have time… I tore my suit.”
looked pleased. “What
do you know about the moon of gold?”
made of gold.”
else… location… anything?”
that it could be a myth?”
said it doesn’t exist?”
he’s not as smart as he thinks he is?” Benedict
turned to the doctor. “He
will be less trouble if he’s kept sedated; see to it.”
the Sodium Thiopental?”
know all I need to know...”
Suddenly Benedict turned back to Chub. “Where
are the other two?”
for a moment Chub’s hopes rose thinking that Jet and Rosie had got
“You didn’t get them?”
seemed to think for a moment. “I
mean the government man and the alien woman?”
they are them? Where are they, are they on the Silver Flyer?”
they don’t travel with us anymore.”
you came on the Silver Flyer?”
on the asteroid?”
I’ll have some of my men pick it up.” Without
another word Benedict turned away.
went to get up but his body would not respond. Panic flooded over him.
Said the doctor.
“You have been given a paralyzing agent. If can be frightening but
nothing will respond.”
The man lifted a syringe and expelled the air before he leaned over and
jabbed it into Chubs arm.
faded, but this time Chub couldn’t find the golden meals; this time
he was trapped in a nightmare.
and Rosie made their way up to the canteen without seeing anyone; he wasn’t
really surprised. From his time on mining camps he knew that the workers
were either working or sleeping. They arrived on the accommodation floor
and passed the gym; that wasn’t the place to take Rosie. He intended
to go to the library; it was usually the least visited place and they could
probably be alone, but the odour of cooking food wafting down the corridor
made them both stop.
smell is making me hungry?”
said Rosie longingly.
was making Jet hungry too; he realized he was ravenous. “We
should keep out the way?”
heard the doctor; it’s between shifts?”
felt his stomach grumble and he tried to fight the desire to eat. “All
doctor said we could be here for hours?”
good sense lost the battle and they changed their destination.
found the canteen and entered apprehensively. There were places for around
forty, but with the exception of one man and the cook it was empty. Both
men stared as they entered.
walked up to the counter as Rosie chose a table. The cook glanced at Jet,
begrudgingly taking his eyes off Rosie. “You
nodded; his eyes scanned the trays and dishes of steaming food as memories
flooded back. Camp food was always good; it wasn’t fancy, but it was
always good; it had to be it. Benedict knew like all mine owners did that
if they wanted to keep their workers happy and not create a riot they had
to provide good food. Jet loaded up two plates: there was more than Rosie
looked at the plate as he placed it in front of her. Then she looked at
you seriously expecting me to eat all that?”
didn’t know what you fancied so I took a bit of everything.”
Jet; maybe you need some lessons on how to impress a girl?”
grinned sheepishly. “You
don’t have to eat it all?”
couldn’t if we stayed for the next week.”
was halfway through the meal: Rosie a lot less, when the doors were thrown
open and a mob of workers entered. Some we boisterous, some were quiet,
but they were all obviously hungry as they made their way straight to the
counter. Only a few had made the distance when they noticed Rosie. The commotion
went silent and they stared for several seconds before a dozen or more made
for Jet and Rosie. In moments every seat beside and around Rosie had a worker
sat on it; and all of them were staring straight at her.
saw her steady movement of fork from plate to mouth slow… and stop.
She stared straight at Jet: she couldn’t look anywhere else without
looking into the leering eyes of one of the workers.
knew the silent threat could soon turn into a real one and he put down his
fork and stood. “It’s
time to leave,” he
heard a shuffle of chair against floor and saw that several of the men had
slid their chairs to block Rosie’s exit.
got pretty eyes.”
Said one of the men.
the comments became more pointed and personal; and threatening: Jet tensed,
there was no way he could fight them all but he readied himself to try.
He stood and looked towards the man who was most vocal as he clenched his
fist. The man seemed oblivious to him as he released a southern uppercut
sending the man crashing into several others. There was utter disbelief
as his right fist smashed into the jaw of another who was in the process
of reaching out towards Rosie.
disbelief didn’t last long and as Jet sized up his third target he
was grabbed from behind. He felt his arms yanked painfully backwards. He
felt an excruciating pain in his kidneys and then the punches began. Jet
was barely conscious of anything as they rained down, and he only faintly
heard a loud voice from behind.
blows stopped and his arms were released enough that he fell to his knees.
the silence he could hear the voice clearly now.
“Maybe you are ex-military, but do you really believe you can take
on half the crew?”
men around them stepped away and their attitude became compliant.
picture of the voices owner came into Jets mind even before he turned. “You?”
Benedicts eyes swept across the faces of the men and they backed further
off: the closest moving their chairs back to the tables. Others moved to
the counter and the cook began to serve meals. With glances alone Benedict
chose several men. “Bring
didn’t want to obey, but neither did he want Benedict to leave them
in the situation he had broken. Rosie stood and followed Benedict to the
door. Jet was lifted by his arms and dragged in silence up to the next level.
stopped outside a door.
“You can stay in one of the engineers rooms; we are at the end of
work here and they have all been assigned to new projects.”
not staying.” Rosie
opened the door. “Unless
you want to camp out on the surface you don’t have a choice.”
looked at jet; he was standing on his own but was in no condition to take
on the two men still holding him. She stepped into the room
thinking of going back to the Silver Flyer; now you have brought it back
I’m taking it back.”
Benedict stood aside as the men pushed Jet inside.
they saw Chub in one of the four bunks. Rosie rushed to him while Jet turned
to face Benedict. “What
have you done to him?” he
turned to Rosie. “He
seems okay Jet.”
turned back to see Benedict’s men leaving the room.
will be brought to you; you will be locked in. I’m sure you understand
I don’t want you walking about the unit.” He
looked at Rosie. “We
don’t want a repeat of what just happened; I may not turn up to save
you both next time?”
The men backed off as Benedict stepped out of the room.
are you going to do to us?”
Rosie called defiantly.
wanted to see the golden moon; well you are going to see it right up close.”
watched as Jet methodically began to search the room. “Do
you think the room is bugged?”
Jet shrugged. “Obviously
he knows about the Flyer.”
else would we get here… do you think…”
brought his finger to his lips, and shrugged again.
least it looks like the moon is real. So top bunk or bottom?”
was by their estimation three days later that Benedict’s men opened
the door and took them out. They were taken to the control center on the
topmost deck of the excavator. Benedict was waiting.
He said as he gestured towards the panoramic windows.
them was the moon of gold; though it looked more like tarnished brass. It
was hard to know its size without any reference but it was as big as any
of them had expected.
doesn’t look very golden?”
Muttered Chub disappointedly.
looked at him as if he had said something deeply offensive. “Whatever
it looks like there’s more gold and other precious metals there than
even I desire.”
spoke without looking at him. “Wont
you ever have enough?”
even when I become the systems first multi trillionaire my dear.”
grumbled Jet unable to take his eyes off the moon.
looked at him curiously.
can’t keep its location secret for ever; sooner or later everybody
will come for their share?”
began to laugh. “Keep
it for myself; is that what you think I’m going to do?” He
looked at their confused faces. “It
was not something I made common knowledge but I have been looking for this
object for a very long time. I have always feared that someone; at sometime
would discover it, and that when they did it would be a disaster.”
was baffled. “You
have a hunk of gold and it’s a disaster. How do you expect us to believe
it is, this is not a day to be pleased it is a day to fear, and it is up
to me to save everything we believe in.”
breaking it into saleable pieces?” Jet
by destroying it.”
stared at him stunned.
shook his head in disbelief. “No
you can’t; you can’t do that, that’s criminal.”
I have to…think about it. How much gold do we have… not just
me, but everybody; all the other corporations, the galactic government:
of them could imagine that much gold.
it was all collected together it would be less; much, much less than you
see before you now. Now imagine I mine this moon, imagine I mine every last
gram… how much do you think it would be worth?”
and Chub looked at her wondering why she had said something so stupid.
right my dear; sand on the beach, water in the rivers, or even grass in
a field would be more valuable. If I mine that moon it will trash the reserve
of every country, state and planet. I would bankrupt every corporation and
ruin every person who has a credit to save. What you see before us is the
end of civilization.”
all looked again at the moon.
“Imagine how I feel? Before us is unimaginable wealth; enough wealth
to make me the richest man who has or ever will be: but it is worthless,
and if I was to mine it, it would ruin me as it will countless, countless
others. To mine it will be catastrophe, but if it is gone then everything
will return to normal and all our lives can carry on?”
chub with his love for gold could see Benedict had a point. “You
are going to destroy it all?”
not every last gram. A little for my trouble would be appropriate; say a
ton or so?”
said Jet in surprise. “You
want us to believe that with all this wealth in front of you; you are thinking
of everybody else instead of yourself?”