The beautiful vein was still there, naked to view, exposed a hundred feet down a two-thousand foot cliff. Pure white quartz studded with wires and knobs of gleaming yellow gold! A fortuitous earthquake had caused the cliff face to shear off and fall into the dark depths of the canyon, exposing the fortune. The ancient volcano higher up must have spewed out a geyser of pure liquid gold in some ancient eruption and then covered it shallowly. A stream had cut the canyon through the ages and now the slide.
I wish I knew enough about geology to say if any of this is close to correct. I know diamonds can be found in some volcanic eruptions, but gold's a new one for me. I couldn't find anything on a Wikipedia search that suggested volcanoes occasionally fart out burning streams of pure gold, but I didn't find anything that said they didn't, so I guess it's possible.
The real downsides of the site, Terl narrates to himself, are the sheer drop and the uranium content on all its approaches... but not the vein itself? He can't fly high and drop down on it? And why would every spot around it be irradiated but not the gold... ah, it can't be irradiated, because otherwise Terl wouldn't want to mine it and the plot couldn't happen!
This is Battlefield Earth, where the only explanation that matters is "because otherwise the story falls apart."
Between the cliff and the limited work space, just getting at the ton or so of exposed gold will be quite dangerous, but given its hundred million credit price tag, more than worth a few human lives. It's kind of hard to hate Terl for this since humans are just as willing to go through worse to get at some shiny rocks - or more accurately, get someone else to go through worse to get shiny rocks for them.
Terl fudges the numbers and edits the recon drone data, and since he's the only person on the entire planet who apparently has access to these files, he's in the clear. But he still needs leverage on Numph to cover his tracks, something about whatever's going on between him and Nipe.
So Terl wanders down to the transshipment platform and sneakily leafs through the latest bunch of dispatches, using one of those "button-cameras" to snap every page. Then he goes back to his room and pores over the images, trying to unlock Numph's secret. And that's it.
In other words, nothing really happens this chapter. But at least we got a good description of the gold deposit, right? Next chapter, Ker is accommodating.
Back to Chapter One