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What Could Go Wrong (Chapter Cover Art)

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Chapter 47 - What Could Go Wrong[]

19 October 3041
Joshua (Former Outworlds System)

Their target area contained 4 separate but close together hills, and like all the surrounding terrain, was strewn with rocks and boulders. A light covering of scrub brush and small trees covered the area. A search on foot by Bravo Company had located nothing out of the ordinary. Leftenant Colonel David Mitchell decided they would just have to do things the hard way. It was now Master Sergeant Harold Croyle and his engineers turn to try and locate the hidden cache. While Bravo Company setup a large perimeter around the area, Master Sergeant Croyle directed the Carbine Construction Mech and his Engineering Vehicle to begin excavating the first of the four low hills.

MiningMech (by Cromwell)

MM-1 Light MiningMech

After 11 hours, having to stop several times to allow the Mining Mechs break up large boulders into smaller chunks that could be moved easier, the low hill no longer existed now replaced with a wide 200 meter by 200 meter by 10 meter deep hole. Tomorrow they would tackle the next hill.

20 October 3041

The Mining Mechs had to lead the way on the next hill, so covered in boulders that needed to be broken up first. It took 3 hours to clear and area for the Engineering Vehicle to begin its task of digging into the hill. Another hour and the Carbine was able to begin digging into the hill also. Three hours later the Engineering Vehicle scraped something very hard, but not uncommon. "Got another big damned boulder that needs to be broken up" The crew radioed as they backed out of the fairly deep trench they had dug to make room for a Mining Mech to take over. Master Sergeant Croyle wandered into the trench to take a look. He picked up a small piece of the rock the Mining Mech had broken off after 20 minutes of work. He studied it for a few minutes before climbing out of the trench.

"Quartzite. Which is funny, since that only forms from super high heat and lots of pressure. There is no mountain range even close to here, no obvious volcanoes. Not mention the fact that the first hill had no trace of this stone at all. I might not be a geologist, but I have been digging and building for over twenty years, so I have a good grasp on rock types. This is just out of place here." Master Sergeant Croyle explained while Leftenant Colonel Mitchell examined the rock, which looked just like a rock to him.

"Okay, so what do we do about it?" Leftenant Colonel Mitchell asked

"I am going to enlarge the trench, see just how big this rock really is. So far we have roughly a 10 meter by 10 meter sized area exposed, which is a damned big rock." Master Sergeant Croyle said

Two Hundred and Ninety years ago, Star League Engineers had perfected a way to manufacture Quartzite on site and in any size needed. Directing super-heated plasma, Star League Engineers would melt large quantities of Quartz which was then placed in a 10 story super hydraulic press producing 150,000 tons of pressure or 1,500,000 KN. The hardest "natural" occurring rock ever found, it was deemed the perfect cover for SLDF installations. Ferro Crete was too obvious, even when expertly applied. When combined with being buried, it was deemed that most would cease digging and move elsewhere. Their created Quartzite was actually stronger than the natural Quartzite by an order of magnitude. This was all unknown to Master Sergeant Croyle and his engineers.

By nightfall, they had exposed an area of 200 meters by 300 meters at a depth of 20 meters and still had not found the "edge" of the massive stone. This only convinced Master Sergeant Croyle that they had found something.

21 November 3041
Joshua (Former Outworlds System)

After spending the entire day removing the hill from the massive rock, that now fully exposed measured 180 meters wide by 140 meters long and 30 meters in height. The top of the "rock" was fully 10 meters deep under tons of dirt and soil. The first 2 Mining Mechs had already destroyed their mining drill AND their rock cutters making a hole 8 meters deep by 10 meters wide into the side of the "rock".

Bored, Agent Jessica Hammel had taken to walking along the massive rock on the opposite side where the engineers were working. She ran her hands along the smooth stone face. Walking back up the dirt trench which had exposed the massive "rock" she sat down and tossed dirt clods at the stone face in abject boredom. Locating a hand sized stone, she threw it with all her might, striking a section of dirt still clinging to the stone face, causing it to collapse to the ground. Leaping to her feet, she almost took a header down the fairly steep slope. Finding her balance, she kept her on what was before her as she descended down the slope until reaching the stone face. Carefully, she wiped dirt away and stepped back to examine what was exposed. Yes, her eyes were not playing tricks on her, that was clearly an exact square, 8 inches by 8 inches in size. She headed up the slope as fast as she could.

Twenty minutes later, Master Sergeant Croyle was studying the little square. "Damn sure is not natural." He said to the gathered crowd. He spotted Corporal Jacobs holding what he wanted "Jacobs, give me that pry bar."

Taking the pry bar, he slowly pressed it into one of the "cracks" that formed the square trying to get a bite so that he could apply leverage properly. Getting a good bite, he gave it everything he had and the pry bar did not budge. "Jacobs, go fetch me one of those busted Mining Mechs, let's see if it can stand up to the pressure it can apply."

The Mining Mech applied steady pressure to the pry bar, which bent slightly before a loud bang sounded as the square gave way, barely missing several engineers and burying itself 5 meters into the side of the slope. The Mining Mech was thrown off balance by the sudden give and crashed into the rock face with a resounding crash. Master Sergeant Croyle walked to the little square hole exposed, "What the hell is that?" He asked, as he moved away to allow others to examine the hole.

Sergeant Nathan Davis was one of the last to examine the exposed hole in the rock. Only a single metallic slot was in the square hole, not much unlike the slot on a computer system to insert a data stick, only smaller. On a hunch, he slipped the small "key", recovered from the Tramp Jumpship off his neck and examined it, same size as the exposed slot. He shrugged and inserted the "key". He saw something and wiped dirt away, a tiny light flipped from red to green. This was followed by an extremely loud pop and his as the wall beside him began receding deeper into the rock face. He leaped back when the wall started moving, joining the crowd watching the moving wall slide deeper into the rock. After moving in 10 meters, the massive wall slid to the right and halted. The now exposed opening measured 20 meters tall and 10 meters wide. Slowly the pitch black darkness began to brighten as long dormant lights came to life exposing a slight downward angle to the "floor" of the tunnel opening.

"Holy shit, I think we really did find something." Master Sergeant Harold Croyle said

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