My father was an asteroid miner. Three years ago, when I was 16, I began working in the same business as him, although I soon learned I was nothing like him. Apparently he was loved by many; talkative, outgoing and charismatic. None of those characterized me, and there are precious few people out here that those qualities could describe. They liked me well enough because I did my work and when I opened my mouth I never pissed anyone off.
This job doesn’t pay well, but it’s practically the only work that’s left. The laborers on an asteroid mine mainly operate machinery and mining equipment. It’s grueling work and the conditions are dangerous. Despite this, work continues. Across the empire’s star systems, every asteroid mining operation is equipped with an AI overseer called Viviane to ensure the mines are functioning and stable. Human overseers are employed to manage more specific mining operations. One day during operations, one of the miners working alone deep in the asteroid excavated a metallic, alien object. As soon as the news was brought to the overseers, standard operations ceased for the day, while the AI analyzed the artifact. All of the miners lingered as close to overseers’ quarters as they could get. Even I was a little interested, and listened in on their wild theories.
“What kind of asteroid are we digging in? I have never seen anything like that in all my years here.”
“I’ve seen all types of artifacts uncovered too, but none as intact as that. It could be a weapon, maybe it’ll be useful for the war,” said a speculator.
“What’s a bit ‘a junk from the old days got tae do with the war?”
“The hell with the war, what if it makes money? Will we see any of that dough?” retorted a miner from behind.
“Lads, get a hold of yourselves!” yelled an overseer. “Viviane is analyzing it for us,” he continued calmly.
As I peeked into the room from where I stood, I saw the strange object being scanned by a blue light sweeping back and forth. After a while, the Head Overseer of the mine came out and informed us that the artifact has to be opened for the AI to continue to study it. Many people tried, but no one was successful in opening the artifact. Even the strongest men of the mine were left befuddled when they couldn’t crack it open.
“The only one of us that hasn’t tried to get this sucker open is Artie. Why don’t you have a crack at it?” asked one miner.
“That scrawny little pipsqueak couldn’t even open a tin can! Maybe his father could, but him…”
That really got to me, but I was determined to prove him wrong.
Let me see the stupid thing.” I snatched it and it immediately opened up into what looked like a handle. My hair stood up as the artifact discharged static into my hand. Despite the initial shock, holding it felt natural. It contoured to my fingers like it was made for me. I felt some innate energy within the faintly glowing object.
“Well, whaddya know, the kid opened it!” said the Head Overseer, striding towards me. “Now hand it over for further analysis.”
I reluctantly surrendered the now opened artifact.
“Get back to work!” the Head Overseer commanded. They brought the hilt into overseers’ quarters and we returned to our work.
The following day, they all avoided me. Whether it was out of jealousy or fear, I did not know. As the day headed to a close, a fancy imperial ship landed and one man clad in military armor marched out.
“Hello, my name is Lancelei and I am with the Galactic Order of the Knights. It has been brought to my attention that one of you has opened a relic of great power. I am seeking whoever opened that relic.”
“It was that kid, Arthur!” said the Head Overseer, pointing in my direction
Mason Ziegler, Nick Hughes and Matt Kramer are students at West Chester University. MZ940321@wcupa.edu; NH930602@wcupa.edu; MK936542@wcupa.edu