So quick backstory. This is Earth, about a thousand years later. We’ve averted the global warming crisis of 2032 and 2503, but because of this, Earth is now an inhabitable wasteland, save for its middle atmosphere, where humanity now lives. Having built a floating city using anti-gravity technology developed in 2380 when humanity tried to flee the Earth in search of another planet to habitat. Now. Life on a floating city in the future sounds great and all, but remember: Humans live on resources, and there are none in the atmosphere. Or so we thought. That’s why the majority of the humans in here operate in the mines, large chunks of land that were blown off the surface and caught in the Floating City’s anti-grav field.
In the mines, people hook themselves up to the mainland via one of the Outposts and its five hundred foot long titanium tethers, used to make sure people don’t wander out too far into the field and eventually fall back onto Earth where they become a stain on molten earth provided they don’t dissolve in the acidic ocean first. In these mine, we would just move large pieces of dirt and crush it to bring back to the mainland in the Factories, where the dirt would go under convergence and enter the Atom Manipulator. The AM is a machine that is coded to convert dirt into natural resources. Water, electricity, food, etc.
And that’s where I work. I’m  and that’s how people are identified in our city, Janus. If you are male, you have  around your identifying number, and if you are female, you have a () around your number. A small city of around eight hundred and fifty thousand inhabitants, about ninety-two percent of the population works in the mines or the factories. Every person before me that came out of my Embryonic Chamber also worked as a miner, and that was the way this world worked. The rest of the population were known as the Elevated. These were the people who were part of the Inner City, a place filled with beautiful towers and luxury while the rest of us would live our normal peasant lives down below, outside the Inner Walls. However, without people like me, humanity would not be able to go on, but that isn’t the main focus of the story. This story begins with me, at the end of my shift on Outpost 22 and I was the last one to leave.
Outpost 22 – 2913
“, have you turned in your Pick Gun and armor?”
“Yes, Assistive Bot-22,” I responded, “All mandatory gear checks and filing are complete.”
“, you may –“ *bzzzt*
“Stay. Surprise inspections check,” said a voice behind me, “Put your gear back on and get ready to demonstrate for the Leader.”
That was [1-M], the Mines Manager who was one of the Special Operations Citizens, and behind him stood two people, the man known to us as the Leader, and a girl who looked as if she were part of my age cycle.
“So. . Show us the daily work routine,” said [1-M].
And I did. I donned the armor back on, lifted my Pick Gun, secured the tether, and launched myself off the platform straight at one of the larger land masses, Orion, about three hundred feet away.
But a thought was lingering in the back of my mind. A surprise inspection? Why now? And why me? Was it because I scored the highest on the physical aptitude test? Could it be that? Regardless, that was the farthest thing from my mind because right now I had a more pressing issue, and that was the rogue landmass that is probably the largest hazard in this job. A rogue landmass is just any other old piece of land, except that it broke off a larger tract and hurtles across the gravity field. Most accidents happen because a rogue landmass destroyed someone’s tether or smashed into someone against an Outpost or one of the larger tracts like Orion.
There are a few methods that the miners have to evade the rogue landmass and the first one is the most popular. I jammed the sensor pad on the left side of my index finger join and felt the jet pack on my back roar to life and launch me upwards and avoid the rogue’s trajectory. Then it happened. In a zero gravity environment, if something were to be shot outwards, it would travel in that direction until an intruding force came upon it and changed its direction. The rogue is supposed to keep going in the same direction and pass right by me, but this one. This one changed direction. Straight at me. At this rate, this rogue would crush my tether.
Change of plans. I turned on my back and drew my Pick Gun. A Pick Gun is pretty simple. It’s the standard tool for the miners that allows them to mine at a pretty efficient rate. The Pick Gun fires a gravity sphere that encapsulates a surrounding area and carries it out. For the tricky long range parts and enclosed areas, the gravity sphere would also fire outwards and would draw the selected object back in. I was going to use this as an advantage.
I released the clip on the tether and shot forward. The rogue passed right in between me and the tether, and I was in the clear. However, I was now being shot towards the outskirts of the gravity field with Orion below me. Gun in hand, I fired off a plethora of gravity spheres straight at the tether. And then one connected. Immediately, I hit the pullback button and latched on to the tether and clipped it back on to my belt. I checked the counter that was right above the base of the clip.
Another forty-two feet and I would have been falling back down to Earth and my life would be over. Using the last of the juice in my jetpack, I propelled myself back to Orion.
Orion was fairly large, in fact it was one of the largest, coming in at about two acres and an eighty-six foot depth. Orion was generally not a favorable place to mine, because the larger landmasses still had some form of vegetation and life on it. Thanks to the rough conditions on Earth, all the life that came up with the land had mutated to tougher forms of ecology. Recently, a study had shown that there were immeasurable amounts of species and were hostile to humans. Snakes and other reptiles were among some of the dangers, but even then there were some species that had mutated beyond our knowledge. Humanity had not seen around half of these creatures, which is why most miners stayed away from Orion.
The reason I chose Orion was simple. If this were a performance test, bringing in a large amount of dirt would mean a trip to the Promotion Center, where regular citizens would be brought before the Leader and given an accommodation for service to Janus. There, the Leader would promote you to an Elevated position, for me, likely an Outpost manager, but I would at least be able to live in the lap of luxury and walk outside my doors without the fear of dying. And so with my feet planted firmly on the soil of Orion, I set out to start mining.
Most of the large landmasses have already mines implanted within. But Orion was, for the most part, untouched, which is why it was so surprising to find a mine shaft already formed. Regardless, I jumped in and got to work.
“It’s all a lie. Everything. , run away now!”
I turned. This was someone’s voice. A female voice. But what was her number?
“Who’s there?!” I yelled, “Identify yourself.”
“My name is Eve.”
—To Be Continued—
– written by Curtis Wang