Big Surprises

Author : Rollin Jeglum

“Sam, would you check the sensor detection module? Some of the readings are scrambled.”

“Sure, no problem. Any specifics?”

“Try the logic board in slot A3. I’ve switched to backup already.”

– – – – – – – –

Mining engineer Dean Jenkins stepped out of his transporter and surveyed the new landscape before him. Unfamiliar, unusual; but then they all were, and he had seen plenty. Jenkins wondered what these places might look like from a distance, but the transporters always brought them right to the site. He never knew exactly where he was, despite the readouts.

– – The wormies could put me anywhere – next door, or another world light-years away, Jenkins thought. Just a pile of numbers! What’s the range of these things, anyway?

The sensors had told him of the vast wealth of metals at these coordinates. Copper, mostly. Some tin, a little silver, even traces of gold! They also told him there were no animals or plants, and that the atmosphere was compatible. Also unusual, but not surprising.

– – And no pesky sentients! Negotiations were a bore and cut into profits. And some were downright hostile!

A dozen worm-hole ore transporters were soon in place and operating at capacity, sending the ore directly to the bins. Over three hundred workers filling them.

– – Breathable air! No environmental suits needed! Jenkins thought happily. With a find this good, this will be the most prof—

– – What! — Earthquake! Emergency evacuation!

His people had trained for emergencies and knew what to do. The ore wormies were emptied and workers piled into them. They will end up on an ore heap, but safe.

– – The sky seems brighter? Yes, much brighter. And a huge wave approaching. Water? Sensors say no. A large mass heading for us. Sentients? Could the sensors have been wrong? Impossible! Sensors say mass is hot –

– – Workers are safe; I can leave now. The wave! I’m not going to make —

Sensors record and transmit – Liquid envelops mining area, Fe encl Cu 750 F mass strikes area, mag. field det. Liquid explodes into vapor. Liquid Sn 98.5 + Ag 1.5 fills area. One casualty.

– – – – – – – –

“Hey, Sam! Have you found what’s wrong with that circuit board you pulled?”

“Yeah. Some weird corrosion around the leads to one of the chips. The rest of the board looks OK, though. A little flux, a little solder — good as new.”

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