As with so many stories of successful and famed sports, the great Arowana Trailblazer didn’t start out as entertainment. As originally designed, the Siouxsi Bessemer sampling drills were designed as automated surveying and mining probes for asteroids and other potentially hazardous environments. Dropped from high-altitude platforms or launched via parabolic slings, the tips of each drill generated, via cavitation fluorescence induced by supersonic vibrations, a zone of such high temperature that nearly anything it touched was turned to plasma. Originally developed as weaponry during the last Saber Alliance war, the Bessemers were a very successful plowshare of military technology, as they punctured iron and nickel deposits on asteroids as well as they punctured wallship armor. Within ten years of their invention, Bessemers were used for drilling out habitation areas in asteroids in high-radiation systems where neutron and X-ray shielding was too expensive or impractical, cutting transport tubes below-ground on worlds with poisonous or caustic atmospheres, and facilitating asbestos and thorium mitigation on worlds with a surfeit of both substances and a risk of danger to new inhabitants. The Bessemers were particularly adept at vaporizing and consolidating rare earth metals such as cerium and gadolinium, encapsulating these elements in glass slag for easy removal and refining.
It was on a particularly desolate world on the edge of the Segue 1 galaxy that operators conducting routine mining operations discovered the sporting value of Bessemers. Offered a significant bonus for early completion, the crew on the control platform pushed their machines to the upper limits, with drones close to the surface to watch for anomalies. One slip of a control stick, and a Bessemer blasted through the surface in an eruption of blue glass, like a shark jumping, before it drilled back down out of sight. within seconds of catching the drone telemetry, the other operators attempted their own jumps, and they were rapidly leaving a section of the world’s crust festooned with ruptures and boils before a supervisor routine caught the wildly irregular movement of the Bessemer fleet and reported it to a human superior.
In any other circumstance, the team would have been fired on the spot, but the team manager noted that the rapid breaches onto the planetary surface actually brought up more gadolinium and indium than the slow and methodical recommended procedure, and she knew that profit wasn’t the only motivator for a good crew. Instead, she encouraged more stunts so long as neither production was affected or the Bessemers damaged or left offline, and the crew finished their shift hollowing out spaces around a long-buried iron-nickel asteroid core and nicking the discontinuity between the planet’s crust and its still-fluid mantle, producing a veritable eruption of precious industrial metals. The next shift followed suit, and not only was the work completed in record time, but word and video had gotten out, and the entire platform crew was quickly as in demand for their operating skills as their show personalities.
Before long, Bessemer races were an essential part of terraforming efforts, as some people will bet on anything, and betting on the first Bessemer to punch through a planetary crust and instigate a volcano capable of increasing surface atmospheric pressure was better than most. Very shortly after, efficiency was combined with artistry with crack Bessemer operation teams conducting precision drilling routes, visible via neutrino scans and the occasional breach, ending with three or more breaching simultaneously to the delight of their audience.
Eventually, for mining purposes, the Bessemers became obsolete, replaced with nanobombs that conducted pure metals and organic compounds to the surface with minimal interference with rock layers and structures. Bessemer racing, though, kept going for decades afterward, with a combination of new manufacture and salvaged and highly augmented workhorses abandoned after their official end-life. The original four from Segue 1 are not among them: when Bessemer racing outsold and outbet baseball, sawblades, and full-contact chess, the original four’s operators gave them to the Smithsonian outpost in the core of Sag DEG, where they inspire new generations of top racers to this day.
Dimensions (width/height/depth): 18″ x 24″ x 18″ (45.72 cm x 60.96 cm x 45.72 cm)
Plant: Nepenthes albomarginata “Purple”
Construction: Glass enclosure, polystyrene foam, vacuum-formed plastic, found items.
Shirt Price: $300