This is the final section of the second chapter of Sonnets from a Proton. The novel starts here.
It's the end of the second chapter and time for another brief break.
The next section is here.
“Anyway, we were supposed to be discussing James” continued Alice “He’s up in that infernal tower of his again. Well he calls it his tower, just a room stuck to the side of the rock inbetween two docking bays. He seems to be spending more and more time up there detached from the rest of us. Doesn’t that bother you?”
“I think he needs to be alone with this thoughts. I think that he is making the most of the calm now while he can and I think he misses Earth, or at least the populated open spaces.”
“He has mentioned before he can’t stand it out here. That’s what bothers me. He hates the stars, the infinities I think he called it, really didn’t satisfy him, he felt lost. Or at least that’s what he said.”
“He never was the most tradition style of leader.” Jo shuffled about in his seat, he lent forward to look Alice in the eye “He used to love it out here, I think you just have it wrong”
Alice backed away slightly “He always talks about out here being the future”
“Exactly, look he’s just sought out breathing room since the mole incident”
“The mole incident?” she asked
“Oh a while back he was doing his old hands-on thing” Jo looked puzzled “How come he didn’t tell you this?”
“Tell me what?”
“He was in a mole, usual risk with those things, he was busy tunneling through a new ‘roid doing some prospecting and ran into a void. The thrusters that are supposed to get you back to the nearest rock face in those situations failed and he was drifting there for quite some time. Eventually his residual inertia and the micro gravity of the surrounding rock pulled him to the edge of the void, but it took a long time, he almost starved in there. He’s not been very hands-on since then.”
“How on earth did he get a failure like that? I’ve used those things countless times”
“It’s more common than we’d really like. Either they’re fresh off the production line and not been fully tested, or they’ve been bashed about and are close to failure. That’s one issue of having minimum service crews, it doesn’t matter how much equipment you have it needs some TLC at times”
“You think he’s okay though? Is he up to the job?”
“Probably more so, never trust a man to lead men into death who hasn’t faced it himself”
“It’s not the same as staring down the barrel of a gun though”
“No but it’s the best we’ve got for now. It did change him and I think he’s stronger, certainly strong enough for the next few months.”
“Well what he lacks in experience he makes up for in determination”
“You think that’s determination? I just thought it was hatred.”