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.
“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.