It was a beautiful thing, the seething collection of multi-colored storms, massive magnet fields and a micro-system of moons that was Jupiter. Even as the Great Spot appeared and slowly began to rotate across Jupiter's face towards where he was hanging in close orbit, Conner smiled as he took in the sight of the system's greatest continuous storm raging unchecked in the planet's high atmosphere.
"Beautiful," he breathed, feeling all his hopes and dreams return in a rush at the sight.
Not only beautiful, lucrative. With a heavily industrialized Earth starved for resources, mining the gas clouds of the Jovian worlds was big money. Vital gases like oxygen, nitrogen and hydrogen were joined by less vital but equally important gases like argon, chlorine and methane, every one of them in use in more industries than he cared to count.
All he had to do was drop a ship close enough to start sucking up all that floating gold and he would start making money by the second. None too soon; he had sold everything he had, then borrowed more on top of that, to buy the beat up old gas miner from that second hand dealership on Ganymede. Then even more to refurbish it to the point that it'd hold an atmosphere and keep him from freezing to death.
By the time he fueled it up and got it into space, he was already thousands of credits in debt.
"But not for long," Conner said with a grin, reaching out to pat the worn leather backing on the pilot's seat. "Just you and me, girl. Making money hand over fist."
Then he sighed. As much as he wanted it to just make itself, his profit wouldn't happen if he didn't put in a little work. Twirling the pilot's chair around, he dropped into its threadbare comfort and began aiming for the upper stratosphere where the gas would be dense enough to easily harvest.
Conner's seat hit him in the back as his thrusters engaged, throwing his small mining ship in motion. Deftly he maneuvered his small ship towards the gas giant. As he did so, he compensated for the massive planet's gravity, magnetic field and thermal variations with great skill. With good reason: he was one of the best pilots in the Jovian belt, working for nearly a half dozen of the top mining outfits over the last decade.
Now it was his turn. His time to put aside all the bad luck and hit the big score. He grinned in anticipation when his system announced he was in position.
"Time to ..." he began before his comm system beeped insistently. Frowning, he hit accept.
"Conner Briggs, you are in possession of a stolen craft," a voice crackled. "Heave to and prepare to be boarded by proper authorities ..."
"The shit always hits the fan when I'm about to finally start winning," he muttered, shaking his head and sagging back.
"There's no running from bad luck!"
YOU ARE READING
Dreams of JupiterScience Fiction
An anthology of sci-fi short stories for @ForbiddenPlanet's Sci-Fi SmackDown 8, exploring a number of themes ranging from Alien Invasion, AI, Colonization and Sword and Planet.