Easy Meat by David Scholes

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"They look like ore carriers" said the flagship captain "cumbersome low tech leviathans only capable of sub light speeds." "Yet something is partially blocking our attempts at internal scans, we can't get the full picture."

The four carriers, if such they were, were in high orbit and moving around towards the other side of the planet.

"If they are sub light vessels then how on earth did they get here?" cautioned the ever conservative first officer.

"Beats me," replied the captain "but everything we've seen is consistent with a mining world." "A highly automated mining world with, judging from the heat signatures we've detected, a bare minimum of living operators."

Yet as with the ore carriers something was partially blocking the flagships scans of the various installations below.

"I'd caution that we wait for a fuller planetary survey" continued the first officer.

"This world looks ripe for the taking" said the Admiral of the modest star fleet, just now arriving on the bridge, and "easy meat in fact." "No point waiting for a survey ship to get here and conduct a formal planetary survey that could take months." "We're here now and in some force." "In any case, what resistance can we expect from automated mining facilities, a few ore carriers, and a handful of living operatives?"

The first officer was about to suggest that there might be others elsewhere behind the mining operation, but thought better of it. They thought they knew all of the Galactic and Trans Galactic mining corporations and none of them were within light years of here.

The bridge crew took in a three dimensional map of the world below.

"Some three installations stand out as easily the largest and contain almost all of the few living operatives" said the flagship captain "these should be our primary targets."
"We should at least try to preserve the machineries" offered the flagship first officer "they could be of use when our own people come out here." "The mining machineries are very large and some of them could potentially be used against us" countered the flagship captain

They settled on an initial strike involving simultaneous air bursts of JSN's (Just Sub Nukes) over the three biggest installations and the two others that housed living operators. A successful tactic in times past.

This would have an EMP effect that should knock out the electronics down below and a blast that might render the living operatives unconscious without extensively and permanently damaging the heavy machineries. It would also avoid the radioactivity of using BTDs (Beyond Thermonuclear Devices).

"What do you make of it?" asked the flagship captain a few moments after the JSN detonations.
"It's even less clear down there than before" replied the flagship's first observer "there's stuff flying around everywhere."

"Speed is essential" maintained the Admiral "we move now, or lose our advantage."

The five starships of the small fleet were now in a medium orbit and each of them disgorged troop transporters and fighter escorts.

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