June 3rd 2134
Deep Core mining facility,
Proxima A, Proxima Centauri
“Fuck, we lost another one,” said Rob Kirkland as the feedback from the drill shook the cabin, “shut it down!” he shouted to his apprentice, the twenty-four year old, Jonah Ashton, who was leaning against the rock face, frantically tapping commands into the control pad. The pressure gauges on Rob’s readout were beginning to climb. Rob wiped his brow and pulled back from the throttle control trying to decrease the rate of rotation on the drill bit. The long carbon rod was frozen in place desperately trying to continue its turn, but whatever the bit was caught on was not giving way. Smoke began billowing out of the bore hole as the machine began to strain against the pressure.
“Shit,” Rob said desperately trying to reverse its turn, “cut the power lines, Jonah, the controls are fused!” he shouted at the young man.
Jonah looked up at him shaking his head.
“The axe!” Rob shouted, “Get the axe and cut the power lines,” he said pointing to the back of the rig.
Jonah finally understood and ran to the back of the drilling platform. He unhooked the axe and ran to the base of the main generator. There were two large cables running from the generator to the rig. He looked back at Rob.
“You sure about this?” he shouted at him.
Rob could feel the heat begin to build up from the generator and knew that it was going to blow any second. He turned to Jonah.
“Do it, for fuck sake!” he shouted at him.
Jonah turned, raising the axe above his head and brought it down on the two cables. There was a flurry of sparks and smoke as the power generator suddenly lost its link up. White light filled the chamber. Rob blocked his eyes with his arm and coughed as the smoke from the small explosion surrounded him. He suddenly found himself in complete darkness. He could taste the acrid air as it burned his lungs. He reached up and tapped the side of his helmet activating the headlamp and looked around. Jonah followed suit and soon the pair were pointing beams of white like in all directions trying to see if they were out of danger.
“Evacuate,” Rob said climbing down from the rig.
Jonah did not argue, he grabbed a small backpack that was lying on the ground and slung it around his shoulder. Rob activated his comm link which was strapped onto his right wrist.
“Kirkland to Dino, we’ve stuck something hard down here, the cavern is becoming toxic so we’re abandoning the shaft and making our way back to base, get an air filtration team down here STAT,” he said as he grabbed a rock, trying to steady himself as he made his way through one of the access tunnels.
“Dammit, Rob, did you break one my drills again?” came a rough voice down the line, “I swear to god this one’s coming straight out of your pay cheque.”
“Yeah? What pay check is that? It will be two years before we see another human being asshole, and those things up there don’t take credit cards,” Rob replied.
“How do you know? Maybe if you go up top and ask nicely they’ll let you off this planet for a few million bucks,” Dino replied.
“Yeah, you first asshole. Tell the doc that I’m sending the kid to her to have him checked out for smoke inhalation,” Rob replied looking back at Jonah.
“I’m totally fine, Rob, there’s no need,” Jonah replied, fixing his helmet which was one size too big for his head.
“Shut up kid, you don’t get a choice in the matter,” Rob replied.
The pair emerged from the access tunnel into an illuminated rock-walled passageway with a metal lift situated at its end. They made their way over to it and Rob unhooked the gate. The pair stepped inside and Rob activated it. It began to ascend. The passageway was replaced by black rock that sped past them both as they rose through the lower levels of the cave. Rob turned to Jonah. His face lit up with the light from rob’s helmet.
“You did good Kid, don’t worry about it, we’ll get the next one,” Rob said placing his hand on Jonah’s shoulder.
Jonah looked at him blankly.
“I really don’t understand why we’re even bothering Rob, those things up there are gonna kill us the second we leave the base anyway. How the hell are we supposed to transport any of this ore when we can’t even go outside?” Jonah replied
Rob sighed. He was right of course, they had been trapped for six months with another twenty-four at least until another ship arrived, and even then any attempt to land on the surface would be met with certain death for those who tried.
“Because the mind has to keep going kid, we came here with a job to do and I sure as hell am not going to let a simple thing like an alien invasion stop me from doing that. Keep your head down, keep drilling and someday we’ll get off this fucking planet and when we get home, we’ll be richer than our wildest dreams,” Rob said.
He had to admit that hearing himself saying it made him believe it even less.