Jay Lake (jaylake) wrote,
Jay Lake
jaylake

[wip] From middle of the current, untitled hard(ish) SF piece

The thought came in a rush of paranoid fear: They knew what she'd found.

Her quiet conscience whispered back: of course they did. Everything any of the crew did on company time, with company equipment, was metered and miked and imaged. Just because she didn't snoop the boys' suit cams or instrument readings when they were out in hard vacuum didn't mean they weren't snooping her.

"No," she said slowly, aware she'd taken too long to answer. "No emergency declared." It was tank-switching time. Go for broke. "You know what I found."

Tanielu answered first. "No, actually we don't." He and Alain didn't even look at each other. A sure sign of collusion.

"Something's down inside that rock. Something someone made, once."

"Ever read the company man page on artifacts?" Alain asked. His voice was too bright, strangely shiny.

"Mmm...no." Lappet didn't know anyone who had.

"There's a standing bounty of one billion tai kong yuan for the discovery of a non-human artifact."

Fans whirred. A piece of equipment whined faintly. She understood their silence now. One billion TKY was fifty times a miner's likely lifetime earnings, barring a lucky strike bonus. Whoever could claim that would immediately be very, very wealthy, in that special way that only created more money for lifetimes to come. There were any number of people in the company's management chain who would be more than pleased to hide three bodies on their way to claim the bounty. Or simply ignore the protests of three lonely, deluded miners.
Tags: stories, wip, writing
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