Two figures, dressed in white spacesuits, went speeding down the circular stone tunnel on a pair of hoovering skimmers. At thirty feet in diameter, the immense passage was lit by a trail of glow-tubes, embedded into the walls every thirty feet or so. The mounted lights created a hypnotic, strobe-like effect as the skimmers whipped. They also served to highlight a pair of large, flexible pipes that stretched off into the distance and gently bobbed in the absence of gravity.
After another few minutes at top velocity, the skimmers began to slow as they approached the opening to a small cavern. Foreman Rankev, and his engineer, Benzo, parked their transports in front of a large, mobile drilling platform, which filled the recess from floor to ceiling, with the pipes, marked red and blue, connecting at its base.
Floating in the small gap, between the rig and the cavern wall, were a pair of furry Dorchens. Also dressed in space suits, the workers used safety lines to secure themselves to the huge machine. Once the riders locked their skimmers in place with grip-pads, they used the small thrusters built into their suits to navigate towards the drilling rig.
“Alright, Orretz, you got us down here.” the foreman said over his suit’s COMM. “Now what’s so v’leking important that you and Zeri held up production and made me leave my nice warm ship to come a mile and half down inside of an asteroid?”
The male Dorchen replied, “Well, sir, we had just finished up in sector fifteen, and we were about to move onto a deposit of iridium over in sector eighteen. The initial scans showed only ordinary igneous rock up ahead, so we were going to cut through there as a shortcut, but then we hit something harder than the surrounding sediment…” He began to trail off. (more…)