This is the final section of the first chapter of Sonnets from a Proton. The novel starts here.
Wow is all I can say, it has reached the end of the first chapter seemingly overnight. To carry on posting or not?
[EDIT] The start of the second chapter is now here
James watched the grunts file into the ship and waited for the echo to die down.
“You shouldn’t think of them as grunts you know”, said Alice in a hushed voice.
“Permission to speak freely granted” said James trying to keep the sarcasm out of his voice.
“I mean it,” said Alice, straightening herself up so that she could look down on him, “they’re neither drafted nor mercenaries, just volunteers”
“And if we had all the production facilities working then the jobs they’re doing could be done by the most basic AI and robots” with this James turned around and started walking away,
Alice blinked a few seconds to work out how to respond to that and followed after him “Then what would be the point of us being out here?”
“Someone has to be here, otherwise we’re no better than the Habitat”
“Fine you talk about the purpose of man and the nobility of real work when you’re working in a mine seventy hours a week, as long as you’re the commander and thinking of them as grunts does it matter to you that they’re flesh and blood as long as you see them as simple resources”
“What is up with you?” James asked “You’re not normally like this.”
She stepped in front of him to stop him walking and he almost ran into her. “They’re all going to die you know.”
“Not necessarily, we could win.”
“At which point we have to expand the war and they die and we lose again.”
“What would you prefer? They volunteered for a reason.”
“I know” Alice turned around to take a look around the bay “I’m going to miss this place.”
“It’s sill not too late to pull out you know.”
“I couldn’t live with the consequences of that it’s just…” Alice’s voice tailed off.
“What? You’re lost in thought I can tell.”
“I’m just thinking about the next few weeks. We’re off on trip half way round the solar system, surrounded by more weapons than food propelled by a jury rigged home made breeder reactor come rocket engine. It’s not my fault if my cowardice gets the better of me.”