09 March, 2011

[SFAP] Chapter 1:7

 This is the seventh section of the first chapter of Sonnets from a Proton. The novel starts here.
The next section is here


“Anyway,” said Laurence turning away from the window, “since you now seem curious of current events what they’re protesting about is the expansion of this spaceport, a new magway is needed and that’ll require effectively cutting a hole through the east mountain range, and with the underground tanks and charge farms needed there’ll be a new range created to the west. They’re saying that the local environment will be shot and national weather patterns changed.”
“How on earth is anyone allowing this to go ahead?”
“How do you think these mountain ranges that they’re trying to protect got here in the first place?” Laurence saw the blank expression and sighed, “A spacecraft requires a lot of fuel to get to orbit. You need to store that fuel somewhere before takeoff. A previous generation of environmentalists forbid these tanks to be built above ground for environmental and safety reasons so they got buried underground. As if doing that stuff underground adds to anyone’s safety. Well nothing comes for free so the material they removed for these tanks, and the power stations and their support equipment, and the maintenance bays and the hangers and all the other million things you need to run a national spaceport needs to go somewhere; so these mountains were created turning a desert into a new wildlife haven. Weather patterns were altered to bring precipitation, sorry, rain and snow here to support this new oasis and suddenly all is good. Of course now fast forward things a decade or five and we’re back at square one. The new plans even mean that otherwise wasted water will be brought here and more of that wilderness dessert will become a haven; but no, anything but change.”
“That is a big change to the environment though.”
“And that is where man is unique. Most creatures adapt themselves to the environment, granted some animals use tools, but no other animal adapts the environment to themselves. Not since the first life forms on the planet created the oxygen atmosphere with their waste products has anyone changed the world so much as mankind and at least we do it with a clear intent. Yes we get it wrong, but at least we try and make things better as opposed to those first life forms whose waste products accidentally gave us the atmosphere we now completely depend on.”
“Finished?”
“Sorry you got me on a bit of a rant there, I’m just fed up of all the work we do being taken for granted at best and flatly opposed the rest of the time.”
“Onto space then?”
“Please.”
Tom and Laurence sat in silence for a short while before Tom jumped in “So what are you going up there for then?”
“Pardon?”
“Well I know you’re not off to the Habitat, you’re off to Saturn like me, so why are you doing it. You a construction kind of guy? I did my research, but they were very tight lipped about what you were off to do.”
“You could say that I build things yes.” replied Laurence
“Why? What do you build?”
“The future.”
“Nice, very cryptic.” Tom punched at his pad for a few seconds “Oh I see.”
“What?” exclaimed Laurence
He showed his pad to Laurence “You should have said.”
“How the hell did you find that”
“Off the public financial records.” Tom kept on fiddling with his pad “All travel tickets list how they’re paid for and who pays them. I don’t know why I didn’t think of that before, so you’re working for them? Interesting.”
“I see” Laurence grumbled “So you know so much about me, what do you do? Where are you going?”
“Saturn of course, and don’t try and change the subject.”
“Yes but it’s a big place, where are you going and why?”
“I told you, I’m an LG athlete slash performer.”
Laurence grimaced at Tom “At a science station?”
“No, for the hotel they’re building at Saturn”
“They’re building a hotel?”
“Yeah the Jupiter one fell off a bit after the military moved in so the hope is Saturn will do the job.”
“First I heard of it.”
“Why would you know?”
Laurence coughed a second “Good question. I’ll just stick to being a student.”
Tom eyed him up “You do that. Look, I’m just there to try and get the facilities right, part of the entertainment staff you know but it’s also good for my training. That’s why I’ve been on Earth you know, muscle building”
“Fascinating.”
“I get the impression you’re not paying attention”
“Not really no I’m just thinking about the trip to orbit, been a long time since I was on one of those babies”
“It can’t have been more than three or four years, they don’t let under eighteens on those things”
“No,” relied Laurence “they don’t, so it must have been more recent than I thought.”
“Are you sure you’re alright chap?”
“Me I’m fine, just rude that’s all.”
Tom shook his head and went back to looking up information on Laurence.

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