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.”