This is the eleventh section of the fourth chapter of Sonnets from a Proton. The novel starts here.
The next section is here.
The sound of the slow rhythmic hand clapping of Gwen stung through Malka’s head like the sound of a slamming door to a man recovering with a hangover. Lights suddenly at full brightness on the bridge added to the headache. “Thanks” Malka glared at Gwen “I appreciate the support.”
“Leave the sarcastic tone alone, I think you did really well. Why such use of the drugs though?”
Malka dismissed the rest of the crew and directed Gwen to take up the seat opposite her command chair. “Well you know I’m not a fan, but it seemed you were taking the proverbial with all these simulations so I thought I’d play along and take it too seriously. Besides it was bound to be an important test that one.”
“Not really. You know my philosophy on any alien encounter how it is bound to be almost certain massacre for us. Thought I should give you a victory for once.”
“I’m not sure the speech at the end was worth it though, did you have fun writing that?”
“I didn’t enjoy hearing it, though I guess since it was speeded up to my perception at the time it was meant solely for me.”
“A lot of effort for a parting two fingers to a none existent audience I grant you, but you have to take your pleasure while you can.”
“So what now?”
“You go back to get some sleep. You come up with some new training programs for your crew.”
“Train them to do what? They performed perfectly.”
“No such thing.” Gwen stood up to leave “You’ll think of something.”
“Sure but to what end, I keep just getting going then you yank my strings in another one of these random war-games.”
“They’re my way of making you think of things in new ways”
“But in this one there was really nothing for me to do.”
“Wasn’t there? You played by the book, humanity survived. But could you have got more from the situation, could you turn the uncaring third party into a friend.”
“I tried to negotiate.”
“Did you, or did you send a message then shoot as soon as it wasn’t exactly what you asked for. Think, pride is worthless, saving face is for the vain, in the scenario you just played if we could have kept the Habitat as a friend then its resources would have helped us rebuild. It doesn’t matter that it had killed the billions because they were no longer needed to it, if we could get more out of it to rebuild we should have.”
Malka felt the anger and disgust rise in her, “You can’t believe that?”
“Why not, it won’t bring the dead back but that attitude will help us rebuild. We’re not dealing with normal morals here, you have to think of the bigger picture.”
“What’s the point of the bigger picture if we’re not worth it.”
“Who’s to judge worth let me tell you it’s not me and it’s not you. Go to enough cultures and meet enough people and you’ll see every morality justified I’m not going to say who’s right. Think on this, your morals don’t exactly match those of any other human being, then tell me you can know how the morals of an alien would work. In that case the Habitat killed them all to teach humanity what might turn out to be a valid lesson. Ask yourself, how many deaths is saving humanity from threats from extinction worth? That’s what the Habitat was trying to do in that little scenario and we should be thankful if it had done that and it worked.” Gwen walked out leaving Malka alone in the suddenly dark simulator.