Captain Calhoun stepped into the conference room. “Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen.” He walked to the head of the table.
The conference room had representatives from the mining consortium and each of the individual mining companies as well. The compartment was full with much chatter between those present. The companies may be competitors but on a space station everyone depends on everyone else.
“We have an extraordinary situation here.” He looked around the room “The asteroid we are working with right now is artificial … and we didn’t make it.”
The room exploded with chatter to the point that it was all incomprehensible.
The captain let them chatter so they could get it out of their systems. Then he interrupted “Calm down… Calm Down!” he raised his voice “We can’t have anyone panicking here!”
The room slowly calmed down.
“We knew the day that we would discover absolute proof of alien intelligence would come.” He cleared his throat “We have been getting signs for centuries and it was really our own arrogance that didn’t allow us to understand those signs. Well now we have proof and we have to deal with it.” He let that sink in for a minute “We have no idea who made this thing, when it was made, or what it does. What we do know is that it can be dangerous and that we have to dig it out in order to get a better idea of what it is. As a bonus it is encased in ice that is either pure or nearly pure water which will be perfect to replenish our supplies. That means longer showers and better coffee.” There was some small quiet laughter at that. “On a more serious note we really do need that ice. We should be able to top off our tanks and drag some extra along as a reserve. So that means this is both an artifact recovery operation and an ice extraction operation. You won’t be getting paid for the minerals you extract, but the pay for this operation will probably be better than what you got from the last couple of operations. The rate sheets have been distributed.”
Everyone in the room checked their tablets and murmured a bit.
“Now down to the serious problem.” He paused a moment “We have to be careful about how we communicate this find, not just to back home but how we deal with it on the station as well. I don’t have to point out that this could cause a lot of panic. This is going to seriously disrupt some people’s beliefs. Nobody is more astutely aware of this than I.” He looked around the room “But you have to be aware of it too.” He paused again “Effective immediately all transmissions except official military channels have been suspended and all communications with the transports have been set to automatic encryption. All of your communications with your home operations will have to go through my office.”
There was some uneasy murmuring around the room.
“I don’t give a dang about your trade secrets. Please understand, we have to be very careful about how this information is released to the public. It could cause all kinds of trouble if not handled properly. This blackout shouldn’t last long, but we need some more information first. So let’s get busy with the task at hand so we can get this cleared up and back to regular operations.” He looked around the room again “Thank you all for coming. I’ll send out some official statements to help you dealing with your crews.”
The captain walked quietly to the door and left the room.
Beginning of Story