The 54th penal unit of the Icarus Mining Project. Icarus 54. Some corrections officer’s idea of a joke. The perfect name for those of us who try to fly higher than they are… supposed to. Hang a left off Mar’s and here we are. TA-DA! Asteroid miners extra-or-din-are. You know, some times I wonder why there aren’t more of us up here. I mean, considering the fact you get your sentence reduced by at least two-thirds when you volunteer. I don’t know. I guess some people would rather deal some pretty massive risks of infection, to life… in a rock. The huge doses of solar radiation might be a small deterrant too. I don’t know.
There’s only a thousand or so of us caretakers up here. Caretakers. What a perfect word. WE. DON’T. DO. ANYTHING! Here’s how it is. Each Icarus station is planted in an asteroid — living quarters, food and waste processors, comm terminal, blah blah blah. Then the mining droids are launched. They zip off to an asteroid, extract all the goodies, bundle them up, and set them aside for a cargo drone to pick up. Asteroid done, they zooms off to the next one. And what do I do? Once, every day, I look at my handy dandy readout, and I see that, Yes, everything is proceeding exactly as it is supposed to, just like it has every single day that I’ve been here. I enter the A-OK code into my terminal and ZAP, the boys at Daedelus Station are up-to-date. Then I wait to do it tomorrow. That’s it. Technically, I’m here in case of a foul-up, ready to leap at the first sign of danger. And, oh, let me tell you, you should see me in action-
ALERT ALERT ALERT exhaust port jammed exhaust port jammed exhaust port jammed. Oh no. Not the exhaust port. That leaves me only one option. BAM! Switch to the first of FIVE reserve exhaust ports and inform Daedelus about this oh-so-dire emergency. Every station and every excavator is rigged up with so many redundant systems. There’s only been one case of a real emergency in an Icarus. Core meltdown in the station. Oh yeah, like he could do a lot then. Just a shadow on the wall after that. But hey, we are expendable.
I’ve been here for two hundred and eighty-one days. Only three years, two months, and twenty-five days to go. Give or take.