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Mining dispute by thegreatpl
The system; an uninhabited, high in metal content, unclaimed system in the back of no where, whose only importance was to two small, Ale-Turan based mining corporations.

The system was full of floating rocks almost completely made of Iron, and other valuable metals. Since many of the more civilised systems either had been mined out or had been taken over completely by bigger companies, with the bigger companies buying exclusive rights from the local governments to mine the asteroid belts. And so for the smaller companies, it was either go where the bigger wasn’t or be squeezed out.

And so they went to systems like this one, which no one owned, or cared about if a few companies decided to mine there.

Of course, it had its drawbacks. One was the fact that their metal was more expensive to ship to civilised space. The larger companies though, in this, had often been very obliging; by raising their own prices to much higher levels. It made their profit margins bigger.

With thousands of uninhabited systems to choose from, it should have been simple. But in a universe where a companies very survival could be getting a shipment there faster than their rivals, it created an interesting problem.

For many, the solution was to destroy the competition; they were beyond any government’s laws, except maybe those of the pirate hunters, who only really cared if you prayed upon trade ships, not bases that were in unclaimed systems, and didn’t pay anyone taxes.

The main problem was that you needed ships to do this, and many couldn’t afford to do this all the time, and so one of the oldest professions found their niche; the mercenaries. Fleets of ships, being hired out to the thousands of small corporations to take out the competition.

Mostly, the mercenaries didn’t attack the ore haulers themselves, but the bases of the resource ships, which when out to gather untapped resources.

And that was why commodore Hreein was in this system, unnamed except for an unmemorable serial number. Hreein’s squadron of ships had been hired by Tentonis and sons, a corporation specialising in ore mining, to take out the bases of Holinto mining ltd, another company specialising in ore mining. Tentonis, the briefing went, wanted to develop the system themselves, and use the easily and cheaply mined ores to get ahead of the competition. They also wanted the closeness of the system to a blackhole, which would help their corporation enormously in reduction of shipping costs.

Tentonis had thus come to the Smashers, one of the bigger mercenary groups who operated like this. And the Smashes had sent in a squadron under Hreein’s command.

The squadron itself consisted of a destroyer, a pair of frigates and 3 corvettes and a tender. Hreenin had left the 2 corvettes and a frigate with the Tentonis freighters bringing in the new equipment, and had been left outside the system to await the victory.

Hreenin, meanwhile, was to advance into the system and take out the bases with the remaining frigate and corvette, and the tender and the destroyer. It was a simple enough operation.

As Hreenin advanced, the mining bases realised something was wrong. They were, unlike their counterparts in government claimed systems, reasonably armed. They were the likely targets for pirates after all.

The bases themselves were actually well clear of the asteroid belts, as to allow the massive ore haulers access to them. They really served as places for the ore to be processed, and somewhere for the miners themselves to get a little entertainment. The real mining was done on tiny little ships that didn’t even have an FTL drive; they were too small and many of the companies using them couldn’t afford to equip them anyway.

As Hreenin approached, he ordered his tender to launch his fighters. They had the job of making sure no asteroid mining ship tried to attack his ships, or those of the freighters.

As his ships approached, the point defence of the bases went live. The bases didn’t mount anything long ranged, that would have been unnecessary cost and any pirates coming after them would force dock to the station itself.

Hreenin ordered his ships to stop well outside the range of the bases, and then, systematically, he fired missiles at the bases. Most of them put up some resistance in the way of point defence, but it was all computer programmed. The bases themselves had evacuated all of its personnel into escape pods, and abandoned ship. Apart from anything else, the bases had no chance against the squadron, but another major reason was that in all likelihood Tentonis would hire them. Most of the crew of the bases were providing a service to the miners anyway, including another ancient profession, one that even some animals did.

The bases were all destroyed quickly. Blowing up as the missiles went home. And then Hreenin signalled to give the all clear signal, and the Freighters came out of FTL and travelled into the system.

Hreenin began to provide a defence sphere around the first of the bases. His contract wouldn’t end until bases were built, but there wasn’t likely to be any combat now. Miners and those who worked with them rarely cared who the next pay check came from.

And once the bases were complete, his men would get some well earned leave.

And then it was on to the next job the Smashers got. They were paid to fight, and fight they did.

All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.
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