It was up to Jerill to think fast ... to do something ... before those strange beasts sucked away the last purified ore on the freighter Bertha.
e, distorted as it was by the tiny radio, carried a sardonic edge. "We'll go--from here."
He sauntered out of the shadows, hands upraised. From the tangle of stone, his men crept out to join him. Without haste, insolent in their retreat, they crossed over the pit.
At the far side they paused. "This is the extent of your so-called claim." Randell's voice purred in their ears. "Our claim extends from this line. And if a man from the Bertha wants a quick blasting, he can cross this line." His radio snapped off with crisp finality.
Scott stepped from his shelter.
"All right," he ordered. "You men know the story. The Kastil's down here ready for work. And it's going to mean work if we're going to beat her back to Earth. Now, let's go. But watch your step."
* * * * *
They worked. Eighteen hours a day they worked. From the steel-like ground they scooped a dozen tons of the dirty black uranium ore and sent it hurtling back to the Bertha.
The Bertha was a free-lance asteroid mining ship that had found a rock full of uranium. They had to mine and purify the ore before the larger consortium ship discovered them and stole the claim out from under them. But mining came to a standstill when their ship became infested by . . . space cats.
The story predates The Trouble With Tribbles by 15 years, but it's slightly similar, except that people get killed. It's nothing remarkable, but a perfectly serviceable yarn.
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