31 October, 2011

[SFAP] Chapter 13:1

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

Joseph stood with Alice watching the fighters leave the hanger.
“A dozen harbingers of death”
“Oh don’t be so morbid.”
“It’s true though” said Joseph “amazingly deadly those small things, do we really have the right?”
“If we were supposed to know that then God would have given us the power he has, he would have made us omniscient. Instead he created us flawed, drunk and stumbling. We’re supposed to be half blind and ignorant.”
Joseph stared at her “and you said I was morbid.”
“It’s true look at any bible story any time man succeeds God knocks him back we’re supposed to be small petty and ignorant. Sure we try the best we can but we were made imperfect creatures struggling for enlightenment. Well that’s what we’re trying to do here. Try and make things better even if in our drunken fumbling we bring the house tumbling down.”

25 October, 2011

[SFAP] Chapter 12:10

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

“Any news?” asked Martin
“Kind of” replied Iz “According to the Habitat there’s no-one entered here except you.”
“So how does it explain the theft?”
“It can’t, but it does blame you for forcing it to turn off the internal surveillance”
“Damn thing has enough external surveillance it doesn’t need to listen to me fart in my own home”
“Well nothing and no one left here with it”
“Then the Habitat is lying”
“No it isn’t I checked the video since you last claim to have it. Only you came through that door, or at least you and guests”
“You checked yourself?” asked Martin
“Yep, watched at high speed mind, but yes only you.”
“Then the Habitat is definitely lying. That’s it.  Half of this supposed utopia here is based around not only the lack of crime, but the lack of need for crime and the bloody thing is a sham, it doesn’t work and it’s covering up”
“Keep taking the pills Martin there’s no need to get like that”
“Well then?”
“Well then two other options, something else broke in here through another method, or the Habitat has had its records tampered with”
“We don’t even know where the Habitat has its records much less how the technology works much less how anyone could tamper with it”
“Right so it’s very unlikely someone would do that”
“But not impossible”
“No, but neither is it impossible that all the atoms of that spacesuit simultaneously quantum tunnelled through into another part of the habitat, but let’s rule that one out for the moment”
“What then?”
“We need to work out a way to get into the hub”
“That’s where the Habitat has its core”
“So we think”
“Well yes, so it has told us anyway that’s where we can actually converse with it properly”
“The drones do get in the way.”
“Quite, so let’s just go with my hunch.”
“What hunch?”
“You don’t have any surveillance in here do you?”
“No I told you”
“Good, because the only one who could have done this is the Habitat.”
“One of the reasons for my little visit to the Habitat’s nether regions are that I just don’t trust it. It had something to hide down there or at least people were trying to escape it’s influence and I wanted evidence it wasn’t playing things straight, but that society down there was just an artifact of it trying to play by the rules. Or at least give the impression it was.”
“After enough time if someone you don’t trust keeps on being trustworth you have to start trusting them.”
“That’s it, it has earned the trust but yet I don’t trust it, I wanted a way to find a chink in its armour but I couldn’t, not here anyway, but your little robbery could be just what I’m looking for.”
“Well I don’t trust it either, I’m just waiting for it to turn on us, we’ve just not earned this.”
“Exactly it’s humanity’s biggest gift horse in history. Why would we trust it? And here we are with a crime where the only possible criminal is the gift horse in question”
“Yeah, but why? It is the only one to have the capacity, but what motive, it could produce a billion spacesuits in the time it would take to do this”
“Bit of an exaggeration, but yes, maybe it’s starting a museum, maybe it’s for its own uses, but I think it wants us to come to it and this is a good bit of bait”
“It could ask.”
“And then we’d be suspicious”
“Most people would be honoured”
“But you wouldn’t”
“Yeah but it could invite me anytime for the plate project”
“And you’d have gone, but with me?”
“If it had asked”
“But would it have known that”
“I’ve done it before”
“I agree”
“So you’re wrong then it doesn’t want us to go there”
“Then why are the drones not speaking to us anymore?”
“You noticed that huh?”
“Yep, come on let’s go”
“Wait why the hub?”
“This is a bit of jump I’ll grant you but follow this. It is the only entity with the capacity for this theft, only it has no motive except to get the two of us interested”
“Didn’t you say it was the one that reminded you of it.”
“No it was one of it’s drones that did that, just as I was leaving that hellhole the drone suggested i come to you and ask you about this very thing. Very suspicious.”
“So if its drone hadn’t prompted you for this then you’d have probably never discovered this theft”
“So it wants the two of us involved, but why do you think it wants to see us?”
“What is our other course of action?”
“Find a drone and complain.”
“Which achieves nothing. No it wants us to do something I can think of nothing other that it wants us to go to it”

[SFAP] Chapter 12:9

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

“Fine I’ve had it. No I’m not a relative of Stephen Fillwick I am Stephen Fillwick”
“No really, you surprise me” replied James sarcastically.
“How the hell did you know?”
“Please, one of the wealthiest men on Earth develops a procedure giving him virtual immortality. Then a young genius responsible for most of the greatest developments in Fillwick’s recent history comes out of nowhere. To cap it all you change your identity from Stephen Fillwick to Laurence Stephens. Please even Clark Kent managed a better disguise than that and at least wasn’t stupid enough to carry on going by the same name.”
“You can’t have known”
“Immortality is the biggest news in the history of mankind. You’ve managed to buy your way into it but you know full well you weren’t the first to have it”
“You weren’t one of the test subjects?”
“Oh wouldn’t that be sweet irony? Your test subject whose life you recklessly endangered to further your own now has you in his grasp” James smiled “No, but you’re not the only rich man who can buy his way into medical history.”
“Should I know you then as another past acquaintance”
“No, old money I’m afraid. All comes from a million tenants paying their sweat to my great grandparents. You’d no more have noticed me than a tiger would notice a whale. Well that’s not quite true, I am responsible for re-building man’s occupation of the asteroid belt, so i guess indirectly I am a supplier of your, but no more than that.”
“Right so stop this attack now it was not the deal.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Who do you think was your contact inside Fillwick then?”
“Ah, treachery from the top.”
“Someone had to make sure you followed through on your plans.”
“See that’s it, I knew whoever it was in Fillwick that was trying to start a war preferably a guerrilla war so that there would be lots of high tech equipment needed rather than massive amounts of brute force and it almost worked.”
“So if you want continued support and intel then you’ll stop this attack on Earth now. Destroying the Freedom was not the plan.”
“No but it had a far better effect that what you had in mind, don’t worry we’ll use the best of you plan. Plus a few ideas of my own.”
“You were supposed to stay in the asteroid belt.”
“Like guerrillas of the past stayed in the forest, no thanks I don’t know what the modern equivalent of napalm is, but I’m sure you’ve got something cooked up ready to sell and I plan to be nowhere near it.”
“So they’ll just turn on the civilians in the belt instead”
“Maybe, but they either won’t put up much of a fight, or they’ll help the cause. Either way it’s all good.”
“So what have you planned?”
“I’m not telling, but it’ll be effective, trust me.”

21 October, 2011

[SFAP] Chapter 12:8

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

Jane read through the message she had just received from her construction yards around Jupiter. On her authority construction has begun on the new AM drive units, after the successful field test of the prototype units on the Freedom the full size ones for the colonisation craft are being built along with a raft of them ready to be fitted to the new fleet of battleships. At the behest of the admiralty a new battleship has been started at the military doc yard. Similarly work had begun on some new dock yards so that multiple ships could be built at once. This endeavour would either sink Fillwick or raise it to the largest ship builder humanity had control of.  A few months work were needed though before the first ships are available. In the meantime Laurence or Stephen as she still thought of him was in the wild held hostage. Or dead. Whatever Fillwick Enterprises would either find him or go down trying to.
So she had done it. If she was wrong then Fillwick was in serious trouble when the asteroid incident turned out to be a storm in a teacup. If she succeeded then it was because interstellar war was on the cards.

20 October, 2011

[SFAP] Chapter 12:7

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

This section is so short I can't make it a day's worth.

“Alice are they all ready then?”
“Yeah they’ve already been fuelled, armed and left. The fighters are off.”

[SFAP] Chapter 12:6

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

Ms Fillwick
We at the admiralty appreciate your passion for this subject, and your personal interest in the subject but the military must be dictated to by military procedures and the correct and timely application of force is foremost on our mind. Overwhealming force is the preferred way to conduct business and only once you are able to supply that - and we look to you as one of our preferred suppliers - can we can proceed in a safe and clear manner to regain control of a complex situation.
In the meantime any efforts you can take to expedite the production of more force will only aid both our aims.
Admiral Powell.

19 October, 2011

[SFAP] Chapter 12:5

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

Laurence’s eyes squinted at the bright lights in the room “So why am I back here?”
“You don’t think we didn't kept an eye on your conversations? I recognise a potential ally when I see one. Look, you are a business man and your interests are hurt by the Habitat. Hurt quite badly, so you should be able to work on our side.”
“Look I’m not.”
“You’re not a relation of  Stephen Fillwick I’ve heard you tell me this already. Look, let me tell you more about what’s going on here, you might now be persuaded.” James paused mentally gathering his tools “There’s no point in using our resources to attack the main installations – while our fighters give us the edge for the moment we don’t want to provoke the military too hard, we’d never be able to hold it in the long term. As for telling you the whole of our plan, who do you think I am? Blowfeld? Suffice to say the fighters are only good for local missions, they may have awesome thrust and be able to get from the asteroid belt to Earth in a matter of hours under full thrust, just no human could survive them at full thrust of 30 or so G, and at sufficiently low acceleration to accommodate humans then it would take too long for the fighters life support to be able to support them. No these are good for local defence only. The point is to cause a ruckus here and show what humans can do.
“Certain members of the military establishment thought they were using me but I have no plans to follow their mission, while our goals may coincide they’re not perfectly attuned to each other. If you are the child genius you claim to be or who I believe you really are doesn’t matter, either of those options is useful to me if you can be convinced of the usefulness of what we plan to do and have already started. I don’t have long though, it can’t be long before someone attacks here and when they do all who are left behind will be dead”

18 October, 2011

[SFAP] Chapter 12:4

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

Jane threw her pad onto the bed in disgust. Realising what she needed to do she reluctantly grabbed it again and fired up the dictation function.

Admiral Powell,
Having just received your report on what you laughingly title ‘the Freedom incident’ I must protest at your decisions. Fillwick Enterprises have generously given you an advance delivery of our latest fighters and we know you have all of your past frigates available for planetary defense. We also know you have taken delivery of the new Lockheed Orion battleships so your assertion that ‘planetary defense must take first priority’ is not the question. Terrorists in the belt have got hold of technology in advance of our current projections and plans and the best way to counter the threat is through good intelligence and correct application of overwhealming force before they can bring their plans to fruition. To sit and wait for them to come to you is to paint a bullseye on your ships.
If you wish to continue with Fillwick’s full cooperation I advise you set your mind to gaining this intelligence and the correct application of force.
Jane Fillwick CEO Fillwick Enterprises.

17 October, 2011

[SFAP] Chapter 12:3

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

I apologize in advance for the bit at the end. However after having read the book in question I could not resist the reference and the thought of dropping a nuke on the reference in question was too tempting to resist. Don't read any more into it than that. Well that and the damn thing proves resilient...

Laurence sat in his cell and tried staring at the wall. Sat was perhaps too strong a word, but at least some part of his body touched the chair. Why they had chairs in a place that would always be in freefall was anyone’s guess.
“So you think it’s all the Habitat doing this then?”
“There’s no way they did this themselves. Maybe they think they’re using the Habitat, maybe the Habitat is using them, I don’t know.”
“Yeah we lost our best weapon to the Habitat today.” The Sargent watched Laurence struggle to get himself facing him.
“Ha, if you think the Freedom could have taken on the Habitat think again. We did some simulations and one Freedom class ship was enough to take on the proven capabilities of one drone. Note that I say proven, they could be much more deadly than we have proved.”
“How hard can they be?”
“Let me put it this way, they are faster and have more firepower than the Freedom. Or at least they’re able to sustain the firepower for longer terms. We have noted no limit to the energy reserves of a drone.”
“You sound in awe.”
“We are. We have noted that the energy reserves of a drone are larger than the mass of the drone, that the drone is capable of expending greater energy than if you converted the entire mass of its body to energy. Given enough time though, over short bursts its energy reserves are limited to a few kilograms of antimatter but over the long term it has some method of regenerating.”
“It breaks the laws of physics?”
“No, just uses ones we don’t know how to.” Laurence tried unsuccessfully to strap himself into the chair to stop himself from floating around “I remember watching an interview with one of the first Habitat drones to contact Earth  it said ‘our technology isn't that far beyond your physics, yes we understand a lot more about how the universe could come from nothing; we can harness the quantum foam for our purposes but none of this is that far beyond your understanding. But we have travelled the universe over the last few hundred thousand years and we've found many things, lots of civilisations in many states, most decadent and stagnant, but no warp drives, no hyperspace, no wormholes, no tachyon drives, nothing but the vastness of space and oases of life everywhere it can cluster’. I memorised that for the way it haunted me. But at the heart of it it wanted us to think they were just like us, just a little bit further developed and that much older.”
“We could have it all.”
“You know you’re starting to sound like James”
“Who?” asked Bee
“Oh our captor. Never mind. You know I can see why this James wants to fight Superman but I don’t get what his endgame is, he’s not following the plan.” Laurence paused to muse for a while “That said there’s lots I don’t get. We know the Habitat can transmute materials in stellar quantities given our tests on what it is built from but they clearly also make excessive use of mining from their activities out in the Ort cloud. So they are limited there. We believe from what we’ve found from their drones that they can extract energy and matter from the quantum foam. Now it’s clearly limited but undeniable that they have something there. They are beatable with force.”
“Drop a nuke on them and they all turn to glass”
“Oh if only. We tried that once with a random drone. Boy was the Habitat pissed but that H bomb proved that if you expose the drone to the light of the sun it will sparkle.”
“Huh?” grunted Bee questioningly.
“Their force fields when active sparkle like glitter. Actually gave us a damn good theory on how they work actually, but I guess you’re not interested.”
“No just let me know how I can kill them.”
“I’ll put you on the mailing list, there’s a fairly long queue of people wanting to know the answer to that.”

14 October, 2011

[SFAP] Chapter 12:2

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

“You know I’m starting to get fed up of this” said Laurence wiping his eyes again as he woke up strapped to a chair.
“Not my problem. Now, who are you?” asked the man sat opposite him.
Laurence stared at the man for a short while trying to work out any identifying features. That last knock had seriously damaged his vision and although it was coming back whatever they used to knock him out had scrambled his vision so all the could tell was it was a white and pink blob asking him questions.
“Laurence Stephens”
“Yes I had heard that, but you weren’t where you were supposed to be if you were who you say you are”
“I had many duties, well, they saw I was a useful chap and had me working on many things” God I’ve picked up some of Tom’s ways of speaking thought Laurence, no matter worry about that later. “I pick things up quickly and that’s useful on an experimental spaceship.”
“I see, so you are no relation to Stephen Fillwick then?”
“No relation the law recognises.” Laurence knew he was a bad liar, so his only defense he had managed in the past was to keep to the absolute if obscure truth. Another reason to stay away from the senior positions of the company.
“Really, because from the records we see you here as acting Commodor Stephens by order of the admiral after Fillwick Enterprises just gave the fleet a dozen new fighters. Awfully convenient.”
Laurence’s vision started to recover a little and he could make out a man not much older than his current body dressed in the simplest of pale white shirts “Ah I can almost see who I’m talking to now. No that is news to me” Damn, cursed Laurence to himself, don’t lie, they can always tell when you lie. Especially when you curse yourself about it afterwards.
The man in the white coat smiled slightly. “Well no matter we have forwarded your description and some photographs of you to Fillwick’s main offices. If they don’t know you then no ransom and no life for you. Goodday.” with this the man turned around to leave.
Laurence needed time, needed bargaining “Just a second, I think you’re not quite the master criminal you think yourself to be.” Damn thought Laurence, why did I never take any hostage negotiation training, it was bound to happen sooner or later “Let me guess part of your plan will be to cause havoc and then if you can’t survive then just head to the Habitat where you’ll be safe.”
The man smiled “You think you’re clever and think that wild guessing will help. Very well I’ll do you a courtesy. Call me James by the way. Just in case your company pays up you’re not hearing too much from me, but I will say if you think we’ll go to the Habitat then you really don’t understand me at all.”
Laurence’s vision was still improving and noticed that the silver covered man in the corner that he had thought was a statue or ornament move “Don’t try and lie to me like that, that’s a drone you have over there” pointing at the silvered man in the corner “an early Habitat drone no doubt. you must be in league with the Habitat. Add to that that relativistic weapon trick you had and you are the Habitat’s lackey.”
James raised a hand to the man in the corner and looked directly at him “Joseph, no let me handle this.” he turned back to Laurence “Fine you going away from here thinking that would undermine what I’m trying to do, now maybe you’ll tell people that anyway to undermine me, but then the sin will be yours not mine. Yes Joseph here,” he gestured at the silver man in the corner, “is and was a drone of the Habitat. Strange that you forget that after enough years. Yes he was a companion drone from the early days of the Habitat before society changed to fit in with the needs of the society the Habitat wanted. One was built for every human on the Habitat, one to watch everyone until we changed to settle down. No crime, no possessions, no wants. A golden age some said. I couldn’t stand it and came out here. Joseph believed in what I was trying to do and came to help me.”
“And what is it you’re trying to do?”
“I’m trying to let humanity take itself back. Before that infernal Habitat showed up the sky was the limit. Now we have everything, but none of it is ours. It did it all for us, so there’s no point doing anything. So what am I doing? I’m trying to be a pain, I’m trying to prove that humans can still be a total pain in the arse and that we are still relevant. Hopefully in trying to fight us there’ll be no choice for humans but to get out here on their own and track us down and stop us. If they do then they’ll have won the solar system and we’ll have won. If the Habitat intervenes and interferes then it will have violated one of its principles and be shown for the sham that it is and again we’ll have won.”
“You’re willing to die for this hope”
“No hope, only certainty. Now I think I’ve said enough,” with this James turned and walked out the room.

13 October, 2011

[SFAP] Chapter 12:1

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

Eyes blurry Laurence tried to force open his eyes and found them sealed with dried up fluids. His hands were somewhat free, but in handcuffs and he was able to scrape the substance off his eyelids and see the cell they were residing in.
“Ah, you’re awake” came Sargent Bee’s voice from the next cell.
“How long have we been here”
“I’ve been awake about a day or so it’s hard to tell they never adjust the lighting from this perpetual twilight.”
Laurence looked down at the bandage surrounding his leg “They want to keep us alive then.”
“Apparently they were astonished there were any survivors. I think they were expecting the missile to kill us all.”
“Guess we built the Freedom well enough.”
“The Freedom, humph” grumbled Bee “Guess they knew what it would abbreviate to when they named it.”
“That’s it’s full name, that’s what’s painted on the side”
“That’s all they had time to paint before it left. Take a closer look at it next time you see it if there’s anything left and you’ll see they started to paint the rest of it but ran out of time.”
“No I didn’t realise, I just specified and paid for the thing they don’t ask me anything interesting like to name it, what did they chose for the full name then?”
“The Freedom to Obey” chuckled Bee, his brow wrinkled as if a thought had just occurred to him “What do you mean you paid for it?”
“Oh you weren’t around for that speech” laughed Laurence “Don’t worry I’m sure that matters not a jot here.”
The doors to the cell block opened and much brighter light from the corridor streamed in to fill the room. Two guards wearing what appeared to be  magnetic boots walked in and opened Laurence’s cell door. Laurence started to protest but found that floating in the micro-gravity environment as he was there was nothing he could get a purchase on and was helpless against the anchored guards. He continued to struggle and one of the guards pressed a small unit to his forehead, Laurence felt a short shock then lost consciousness again.

11 October, 2011

[SFAP] Chapter 11:6

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

“So can I get you a drink” asked Martin popping a stimulant from his pocket to keep himself going.
“No it’s fine thanks” replied Iz
“Come on you know what I’m like, besides I’m desperate for one myself”
“Okay, fine, you win Martin.”
“You don’t know what my usual is.”
“Fine then, I’ll guess.”
“This should be interesting.”
“Speaking of interesting I hear you had a little trip.”
“Oh that, we certainly do have a cross section of all of humanity on here.”
“Fancy sharing?” asked Martin  poking his head around the kitchen door.
“Another time, I just want to get some normality back, something predictable”
“Is that what I am?”
“Yes, it’s a good thing” Iz let her eyes scan the room “So where’s this suit you were going to show me”
“No changing the subject.” Martin saw the way she looked back at him for this. “Fine I’ll let it drop, what were you expecting? Some display case with it in the corner or something?”
“Isn’t that traditional for retired heroes to have their capes in a display case.”
“You’d like to think so wouldn’t you?”
“Fine then, so where’s this drink then?”
“Give me a chance.” replied Martin slightly exasperated.
Iz sat for a moment waiting for a sign that she could carry on. He clearly wasn't happy with something, time for small talk perhaps.“What did you think of the new plate then?” asked Iz.
“Hard to describe, depressing mostly.” moving to the next room to get a drink. “After the first visit I just found it hard to stay there. It needs time to settle in.”
“Baron? A wasteland?” asked Iz
“A strange mix really.” Shouted Martin from the next room “The mind just can’t cope with a well watered desert. Well mine can’t anyway.”
“There should be life there and yet there wasn’t.”
“Yeah as if there had been some apocalypse. Or at least a very hungry creature that ate everything how I imagine farmland would look after locusts but even worse for the lack of soil.”
“I guess that’s a good reason to keep it out of bounds”
“For now yes.” Martin came back into the room carrying the drinks “Some places it was very artificial which was fine, but you could see it was so. Others were just weird. Anyway, so I’ve been meaning to catch up. I hear you’ve been back to Earth recently?”
“Yeah it’s weird, like you were saying earlier about the plate, it’s post apocalyptic.”
“No-one around?” asked Martin
“Yeah well that bit’s not surprising, but the cities being overgrown, well the poor parts of the cites were. Some cities were abandoned completely, yet Paris and Moscow were booming, or at least cleaner and better cared for than before.”
“The economy is surviving then?”
“On and off, it’s kind of like technologic medieval times. Bots will be running around picking fruit and tending crops, yet people are forced to use off road vehicles everywhere except in the main cities because the roads have fallen to ruin. New clothes seem to be very rare because they are all either hand made or imported from the habitat, it’s really quite strange.”
“I was worried about that, I’d have thought that people wouldn’t have cared about the place and it would have crumbled.”
“Yeah I thought that but I think it’s because those who have stayed are those who want to care. Lazy people have come here to be pampered, but those who stay down seem to actually care for it. The planet that is, things like the latest fashion seem to be forgotten when the clothes on your back have to be made by you or your neighbour who is doing it for you as a favour or because they enjoy it. Those who want their fashion fix just visit the Habitat.”
“I’m just surprised people are willing to be plumbers or act as farmers”
“Hey you’re the one who’s farmer and gardener for an entire continent.”
“Yeah but there’s glamour there.”
“Well you know, a place in history; sculpting a continent to my desires. Who can have done that before?”
“Few, but you already have your place in history and if the Habitat gets its way there will be thousands of continents worth soon enough”
“So you think.”
“Well yes that’s what it says. Anyway. You! Suit!” Iz said this pointing at the doorway.
“Fine”, said Martin standing up “I’ll go get it” with this he headed out of the room. Iz carried on sitting with her drink curious at the banging coming from the next room
Martin stormed into the room “It’s gone!” he exclaimed
“Someone’s bloody stolen it”
“That’s impossible, you’ve misplaced it”
“How the hell can you misplace a bloody spacesuit. They’re not small you know.”
“This is a big house” said Iz
“Yeah, big house, but with one store room, you don’t think I keep that thing in with my dinner jackets do you?”
“Fine then but you can’t have had it stolen, you don’t have burglaries here.” She paused for a second “Hang on, has anything else gone missing?”
“Nothing I can see, haven’t touched the thing for a few years though so who knows when it went missing”
“And no unauthorised entry or the Habitat would have told you.”
“Quite, but I’m the only authorised person to enter here, and trust me no-one snuck out with it, you’d notice it”
“Why the hell would anyone want to steal it?”
“Only thing of value in here, no unique works of art, just that one,” he paused for a moment as if to get his mocking tone correct “historical treasure. The rest is Habitat provided so of value to no one.”
“Well there’s all those prisoners that were shipped here”
“That was years ago. They’ve been re-integrated and besides there’s no way they could have committed this crime, no one can get in here.”
“Let’s ask the Habitat”
“Fat lot of good that would do, you know what it’s like.”
“Yeah but we should be able to get the video records.”
“Not in here, got the cameras are switched off.”
“Yeah, but you can’t turn off the ones covering the door and they’re the only way into here”
“Fine you get onto the Habitat about those I’m going to check for other stuff missing – we’re making an assumption here.”
“Shouldn’t we report this to someone?”
“Who? The police? Last police I heard of were on the transit stations in Earth orbit. You know there are no authorities here.”
“Yeah but the Habitat would know what happened.”
“Trust me it won’t, I can see how this is going to go. Just watch.”

[SFAP] Chapter 11:5

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

“So what should I call you Sargent Bee, do you have a first name?” asked Laurence
“No Sir, no budget for one, you know how they don’t let us grunts at the bottom of the gene pool have any extravagances.”
“Ah you heard about that then, sorry.” apologised Laurence
“Not my job to take offence sir, just protect you, Commodore was it now?”
“Yes look thanks for this.”
The Sargent grunted. “Just lose the arrogance I don’t know how you got to how you are, maybe the arrogance helps, but it’s not nice, Sir”
“Let’s just get to a secure location shall we.” Laurence bounced off the incoming door as it wouldn’t open “It’s no good” said Laurence to the approaching Bee “hard vacuum the other side, no sanctuary to be found there.”
“No other way to it either that means” the Sargent paused while he looked around “Take cover I’m scouting ahead, we may have walked into an enemy held section”
Laurence receded into a doorway to the sound of a soft hiss then a thunk. “What was that?”
“Flechette round” responded the Sargent “Like shotgun, but tiny spears. Better for this situation because they can pierce armour but can be designed not to pierce hulls. They’ve been calibrated though to pierce the thinner internal walls so that cover is much harder to find.”
“They got into an armoury then I guess.”
“More than likely, this isn’t something you get on the open market.” The Sargent retrieved a small pistol from his belt and thrust it at Laurence, “Look just point this end at the people you want to stop being a problem, pull this trigger when you want them to stop,” a loud bang came from behind his head as a rifle slug hit the bulkhead, the Sargent carried on regardless, “The targeting computer will do the rest. Be careful, it’s in automatic mode so if there is anyone you like within thirty degrees of where you are pointing that weapon the computer will classify them as a threat and will shoot them. Well if they’re wearing the correct uniform or are unarmed it’ll try to just incapacitate them with the second shot killing them” at this the officer slammed in a new ammo cartridge and shouted “Now cover me” and dived across to the other side of the hall. He pushed himself against the wall and let the small magnets that were embedded in his armour cling to it to hold him in cover in the micro-gravity.
The sounds of the gunfight were immense, the long metal corridors of the ship were amplifying the already deafening sounds of the guns. Laurence tried shouting a question at Bee but got nothing more than a frantic waving response. Gritting his teeth he held the gun with a single hand and fired wildly down the corridor and jumped across to the other side to join him.
“You lucky son of a bitch,”
“You told me to come across”
“Not then you numptie,” he looked at the gun cartridge “you’ve used almost all the ammo up, well come on we’ve got to get to the armoury now we’re running low on”, the Sargent stopped speaking. Laurence felt his ears pop and heard a dull thump.
“Oh Shit,” exclaimed Bee “they’re venting the atmosphere,” he grabbed a grenade off his belt and threw it down the corridor behind them, the small rocket at the base of the grenade ignited and threw itself down the corridor before exploding killing the two bats. “They clearly don’t want any prisoners, come on we’ve got to get to the DC locker or we’re dead.”
Laurence tried to keep up with Bee as he sprinted along the corridor. Laurence watched as each step Bee zig-zagged off each side of the corridor which had strategically placed footholds seemingly for just this purpose, in the freefall situation he was travelling amazingly fast. Laurence could not get the technique to work for him and by the time Laurence had caught up Bee was already trying to open the door on an anonymous locker next to a pressure door. “Why the hell didn’t you throw that earlier if you could have killed them at any time”
Bee wrenched open the door to the locker and found it empty. “Shit!” He exclaimed, “Never go into battle in an unfinished tub.” He ripped out one of the shelves from the locker, used his legs to brace himself against the door and started beating the handle of a jammed bulkhead door with it.
“Because” he said between pounds of the handle “I needed to save it” He pounded again “For when” pound “we had no choice but to use it.” The door handle finally started to move “Now we have no get out of jail free card until we can get to the armoury”.
They both pushed at the door now against the air rushing through it and finally they managed to squeeze through the gap as the bulkhead slammed behind them.
This side of the door was another damage control locker that the officer was already rummaging through and handing Laurence items from.
“That’s a bit convenient having that there”
“Not at all, every bulkhead door has a DC locker either side of it, guess they’ve fitted every other one out in the rush to build this crate. Bit of a problem when the survival gear is in here and you’re the wrong side of a vacuum. “ He paused for a second while he slipped on the breather unit “Come on, no time now to waste they’ll have this section vented before long from the looks of it and we’re now we’re short on ammunition after your little corridor heroics.”
“Yeah sorry I missed out on basic training getting two doctorates and a nobel prize, how lax of me.”
“Why the hell are we still in free fall,” asked Bee to himself “Shouldn’t the Captain be getting us out of here”
“Could be people still outside, could be there’s no good exit route, could be because the engines are out” reminded Laurence in the annoyed tome of someone fed up of having to explain a situation he dreaded.
“Don’t think it’s that, last I heard from the Captain we were ready to go” replied the Sargent he glanced at the wall display next to the DC locker, understanding seemed to dawn. “Apparently there’s people in the lower decks and they’ll be bathed in radiation if the fusion drive is running. so they’ve got orders to get out of there before the drive can start.”
“Well get them the hell out of there.”
“I’m working on it Sir, but you keep talking to me rather than running” Bee slammed the door of the locker shut having got the last of the equipment out of the locker.
Laurence heard the puff of the flechette first and felt the agnoy in his leg second, but instinctively he looked down and saw a large pool of blood on the floor “Son of a” he broke off having lost consciousness.