This is a bit of flash fiction that I wrote for a dual purpose. One, I wanted to make a small point, and two, I wanted to write something that was pure hard sci fi. The story may be short but I believe I succeeded.
The crew of the metal reclamation vessel “Scrapper Queen” never knew where the little probe came from. It was late on third watch when they found it, floating in a lonely outer orbit. Perhaps it had come from a world from this star system, though that was unlikely, all the inner worlds were cinders. They’d actually come to look through the various asteroids for useful metal that had been left behind by earlier mining expeditions. Times were lean, and they were becoming creative in the places they looked for raw materials. There wasn’t much to be found in systems like this, but the Captain appreciated the lack of interference from the powerful Corporate Worlds.
They’d been scanning for traces of anything ferrous when Sensors caught the ping. A return, loud and clear. Ferrous metal, at least a few hundred grams of it, maybe more. The Captain ordered maneuvers sufficient to close the distance. The telescopes scanned, and after a time the Visual Scanning Officer reported a metallic object. Excited, the Captain ordered the tractor/pressor beams deployed, so that the object could be pulled in.
Damp from brief showers and still rubbing sleep from their eyes, Retrieval Team 1 stood on the observation deck above the bay. They watched as the odd, somewhat crumpled metal object was brought aboard. Long ago it had solar panels, they could see that, but micrometeorites over who knew how many centuries had taken their toll. They waited impatiently as the doors closed, the bay was re-pressurized. Zola started taking bets on the total mass of the object until her leader quieted him. Not that Tamar really minded, but she liked to run a tight shift, and Zola’s chatter could get old after a while…
End of the story can be read in “Tales.”
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