This is a story set in my Gulliver Station world. I just released my second book in that series. If you like this story, check out Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Gulliver-Station-Challenge-Novel/dp/1497424860/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1395972203&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Challenge%2C+connie+cockrell or Smashwords at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/421755 to get the first and second books.
Cai Cadwalader maneuvered his mining ship up to the kilometer diameter asteroid. This one scanned out as an S Type with a high percentage of gold and platinum along with the usual iron, nickel and magnesium. After he’d set his ship down and put out the pitons to keep the ship in place, he marked this asteroid in the database as his. Cai was at the outer edge of the asteroid belt in the Gulliver Station system. It would take time for the signal to get to the station but that was all right with him. He was going to set up the mining equipment and get going anyway.
He deployed the robots next. They’d set up the drills and extractors. In the mean time, he readied the crusher and the smelter. The spectrometer gave him some readings for a few more minerals, cobalt and silver, so he set up receiving areas for those ingots as well. By bed time, everything in the mining ship was ready. The robots would keep working. By morning he could start drilling.
Cai woke four hours later to the ship proximity alarm. He pulled on his trousers and ran barefoot to the pilot’s console. On the screen he could see another ship, a thousand kilometers out, heading in his direction. The ship didn’t have a transponder signal. This was not good. That meant these were pirates.
He punched the communication call button. “Unknown ship, this is Captain Cai Cadwalader of the Metal Dancer. This asteroid has been claimed. Put about.”
Cai chewed the inside of his cheek while he waited for a response. He didn’t have much in the way of armament so if these guys wanted to set down and board his ship, he couldn’t do much about it. He wondered how many would be on the ship. If there were only a couple of men, he might stand a chance. After five minutes with no response he was certain and his stomach clenched. The incoming ship was pirates and he needed to come up with a plan.
He ran back to his bunk and dressed while desperate thoughts ran through his head. Cai grabbed his stunner and tucked it in his trouser band. At the mining console he saw that the robots were nearly finished setting up the vacuum and ducts to bring the rock into the ship. The robots would be no help. They couldn’t be programmed to attack humans. They could hold the men who got off of the ship though.
He tapped commands into the robot network. They stopped what they were doing and lined up in front of the main and the emergency hatches. Cai rubbed his hand across the blond stubble on his head. That was the first line of defense. What else could he do? The vacuum duct work, the pirates could get in that way. The hatch at the duct was closed and sealed but determined men could get it open. Think! How can I secure that hatch?
He rubbed at his eyes; they felt like they were full of sand. I’m getting too old for this, Cai thought. He’d been mining forty-three years, first with his father, and then on his own, since he was sixteen. Tales abounded around the miner’s bar, the Prospector Café. Pirates would land, board the mining ship by force and kill the miner. Then they’d drill and take the minerals, leaving the mining ship stranded, its rightful owner floating in space nearby.
Cai hurried back to the pilot’s console. He sent a message to Gulliver Station that he was under attack by pirates. The Space Force had a small ship and crew on the station but it would be at least two days before they could get here. He sighed. They’ll know what happened at least. A quick check of the monitor showed that the pirate ship was coming in for a landing. Time was running out.
He stood at the monitor and watched the pirate ship land. Cai began to sweat. He checked the stun gun and slipped it back in his waistband. Nothing was coming to mind about the hatches. The pirate’s hatch opened and three men came down the ramp. Crap!
The men circled around and approached the main hatch. The robots grabbed the men. Good, but that won’t hold them long. It must be a shock that I got the robots to do that. What can I do? Wait, shock!
Cai raced to the mining section of the ship and began pulling wire from the supply closets. He grabbed his tool bag as he raced by the work bench. He ran a length of wire around the main hatch, being sure that bare copper touched the door. He glanced at the pilot’s monitor. A fourth man was shooting at the robots, disabling them. Two of the three original men were free already.
It seemed to take forever to get the screws out of the hatch control panel. He connected the new wire to the system and turned it on. To test it, he tossed a metal pick at the door. He was rewarded with a cascade of sparks.
Grinning, he ran to the emergency hatch and did the same wiring, then to the duct hatch. By the time he got back to the pilot’s console, there were men at all three hatches. The pirate leader was at the primary hatch. The man with him reached out and touched the exterior hatch controls. Cai watched as the man flew backward thirty meters. He waited for the next two hours as they checked each entrance. They blasted the hatches with their stunners but they couldn’t get through. After four hours, they left.
Three months later, back at the Prospector Café, he joined his buddies at the bar. “You will not guess what happened to me!”
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