28 September, 2011

[SFAP] Chapter 11:1

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

Laurence arrived on the bridge in what he would have described as a full panic moment. Judging from what he could see of the displays one of the Freedom’s fighters had just been destroyed. It looked like while he had been away they had enacted most of his plan of constructing a shield around the chip of debris, but using rubble from the local area.  Possibly more effective than what he had proposed, but much slower and riskier and it seemed like the fighters had paid the price. He could now see that three of them had been destroyed, the captain was just giving the order to pull in the fighters and get the battleship to leave the area.
“Ah,” said Laurence gloating at the doorway “Glad to see you see the merit of my suggestions after all”
The captain turned around to see Laurence at the doorway “Sorry” chimed in the computer’s voice “Override from Admiral Powell, I had no choice to release him and grant him control”
“I see” replied the captain “Over me.”
“Admiral’s orders I’m afraid.” confirmed the computer “Acting Commodore.”
“Why the hell would he be daft enough to do that?” asked the captain
“Oh” interjected Laurence “perhaps because I explained to him the fleet doesn’t yet own this ship, it is still my property and I’ll be damned before I let it get blown up for nothing. Especially with me on it.”
Laurence let that sink in with the Captain and watched for his confusion before carrying on “You see, I’m afraid not all is as it appears. You see this ship is a prototype as you well know, still owned by the development company. The fleet refused to pay for it until it had passed an initial shakedown which is what this was supposed to be. You see that certain Fillwick company is actually still owned in the majority by a certain Stephen Fillwick who was its founder and would be going on for about ninety years old by now. I trust you’re sufficiently confused by now?”
“So you’re his son in disguise?” asked the Captain
“Not quite, technology marches on in all fields and did you know that if you spend enough money on artificial organs and regrowth aids you can have an almost entirely new body? I’m not the first, to do this, but it is possible.”
“You’re Stephen?” asked the Captain
“Yes, it’s a bit of a cliche I know the whole emperor in disguise amongst his people, but I got fed up of the high level stuff and wanted to get back to basics. Glad I did seeing what’s happened here. Now moving on I helped design this boat with a thorough understanding of projections of future space warfare something you seem to have either missed out on or ignored. We are a sitting duck here and there is no defence against projectiles travelling a good fraction of C so we’re getting out of here”
“I already ordered that.”
“Indeed, but hours too late. I’m not going to hold your actions against you, after all you were acting with the best knowledge you had at the time. Now get me analysis of those fighter's exhaust plumes, they are due to be turning around to strafe us again by about now and they haven’t so I want to know where they’re going. I want analysis of their acceleration and projections of their remaining propellant and I want to get out of here before we’re hit again. We know the direction the relativistic missiles are coming from so I want an asteroid between us and that vector.
“Now Captain” continued Laurence “I assume you’ve realised what we have happening here, where those missiles are coming from?”
“We have the vector.”
“No, who do you know who has the technology to get projectiles up to a good fraction of the speed of light?”
“We certainly don’t, nothing we can build has the reaction mass.”
“Well we did have a project a few decades ago to build a Bussard scoop drive that would have been able to do it by now, but it was never finished and anyway we’d have detected the exhaust from a thermal drive like that. No there is only one technology we have come across so far that can produce a drive with that much thrust and be none thermal and therefore not detectable.”
“You think the Habitat did this?”
“Or someone else of their race, or at the very least with access to their technology.”
“So we could be looking at invasion.”
“If we are we might as well give up now, we wouldn’t stand a chance against the tech level of the Habitat. No I think this is much simpler. I think like we got hold of a drone for our drive research the bats got hold of one around the similar time and have used it to produce this relativistic weapon.”
“It makes sense” pondered the Captain “the puffs of propulsion we’ve been using for the too late detection would make sense that they’re just the course correction jets of the missile that had already reached its final speed and was homing in.”
“So we have a mother ship cobbled together from a captured drone with a bunch of missiles being released ahead of it.”
“How would it get the missiles so far ahead of the mother ship?”
“Once it’s up to speed wouldn’t be too hard. A quick blast of a nuke could have pushed them ahead Orion drive style. If they have a drone it makes sense they have the drones shielding too. Something to check later, anyway we know we’ve not had it all yet because there’s been no projectile with enough mass to be the mother ship hit.”
“You think that’s headed for us.”
“Yes and given the fact that the previous missiles were all separated by a fairly constant interval and there have been none for quite some time I can only conclude there is only the mother ship left and that it can’t be far away”
“It could have missed us or chose not to hit us”
“True, and that would have been the case if you’d just run away but your hanging around here has made you a credible threat to their core operation. If you’d have just left they might have not used the mother ship and retrieved it for use another day. As it stands you were about to attack their base of operations so their best bet for even short term survival would be to take out the Freedom and find another opportunity to source a new drone.”
“In other words we’re overdue to be destroyed by a weapon we can’t detect until it hits us.”
“Expect the lights to go out any second yes.”
“I see.”, the captain barked out a set of orders to secure the ship and lock down all internal hatches ready for large scale destruction.
“How long before we have the AM drive running?” asked Laurence
“The reaction chamber is warming up now” replied the XO “We’ll be clear”
The XO never finished the sentence, Laurence and most of the bridge crew blacked out with the sudden de-pressurisation.

27 September, 2011

[SFAP] Chapter 10:6

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

I'm really not sure what I was trying for came off here in this one. Part of the problem was it's supposed to be not clear and that's kind of why it is what it is. Not good, but experimental and fun to write.

The hood was pulled off Iz
Iz had expected to be blinded by the lights of the room but instead she just saw the inside of a dull dark cell.“Ah, good to see your face again” It was the Queen’s voice. It carried on “Yes I’m sorry about the cliche of the two way glass, but it’s so effective don’t you think? Sets the right mood.”
Iz looked at herself in the mirror in front of her. Her first reaction was she looked tired, more tired than she felt. Her hair was a mess which made sense because of the hood, but her clothes looked loose on her body. Except for around her arms and legs
The Queen’s voice carried on “I’ve got to say I’ve been impressed myself at how well the guards have been treating you. Normally they’re a bit more primal when it comes to my prisoners, but they’ve left you alone. Robbed me of some of my entertainment, but I guess you put them off with your little display earlier”
Iz had a good idea what the Queen was referring to. She suddenly felt a lot less guilty about the harm she had done to the guards in the Queen’s quarters.
“So!” It appeared the Queen liked the sound of her own voice “There’s something here that does not make sense. You’ve not been totally honest with me. That’s good I like a surprise, so let’s have one. I think you’re on some sort of the mission for the Habitat and this is all a way to find out more about what’s going down here”
“Actually” croaked Iz, shocked at the sound of her own voice which had changed, probably the dehydration she mused “It’s more of a mission for me to find out more about the Habitat. By understanding what it allows, by finding the fringes of society or it’s outcasts i was hoping to find out more about it”
“Wow, good story. Almost believable as the whole truth”
“I don’t want to be tortured for something I have no reason to keep a secret”
“Who mentioned torture?” the Queen’s voice sounded almost gleefully amused by this question
“You seem to be a fan of tradition and seem to enjoy pain, especially in others, it was an obvious deduction. So why suffer the pain? I know I’ll give in eventually, I have no nation or family to betray by any knowledge you’ll get from me so why not tell you everything?”
“Wouldn’t tradition also require your first words to be a lie though?”
“I’m not traditional, I believe you are.”
“And would you deny me my traditions?”
“If they involve me and pain, if I could save you the trouble I would.” Iz was really getting fed up of taking to her reflection.
The disembodied voice of the Queen continued “If I don’t have to work for the information why should I trust it”
“Because I have nothing other to give? Because under coercion I would say anything to get you to stop and then you’ll just have bad data.”
“Which brings me nicely to what I have in mind” the Queen laughed, humourless and dry “What I have in mind, oh that’s a good one. Yes what I have in mind is your mind. You see part of moving to the Habitat is that every citizen here has access to whatever technology any of humanity has ever had. Well it turns out a century or so ago some secret government project developed an interesting technology where one mind could be imposed on another. Very very useful for interrogation. Of course the Habitat’s rules on personal freedom meant that in any decent free society it could not be used, well except in certain fetish situations but we’ll ignore those. Here though no such rules apply.”
“And the Habitat gives you this technology knowing you’ll misuse it?”
“It’s our society, it allows us to run it mostly how we want to.” The Queen laughed again “I know it’s a real mess isn’t it?”
The door next to Iz opened and a young woman walked in.
“Of course” explained the queen “Every brain is different., but a younger more flexible brain was found to be more compatible.”
Iz noticed a number of electrodes attach themselves to her head and her spine. She swivelled her eyes and noticed the young girl plugging herself in “You don’t have to do this you know.”
“Yes I do,” replied the girl “My family is depending on it”
“But” Iz started her thought and found it replaced with “What are you, who are you why are you here?”
Iz yelped slightly, her mind was her own again “Whoa what was that, you know who I am” there was that scrambled feel again your thoughts not your own thoughts, very disorienting ... who are you no wrong question, wrong wrong wrong, who am I? who am I? who am I? who am I? ... “Iz” she was back to thinking for herself she screamed “Iz you stupid bitch.”
She felt guilty for a second seeing the look in the young girl’s eyes, then loosing control again ... sorry, no mustn’t say sorry, you must do as I say, no, I must do as I say, no wait.. you can hear me when I think? I don’t have to speak ... No, I mean yes I can hear you but I can make my thoughts your thoughts ... but you can’t read my mind ... no, only you know how your own brain is organised all I can do is stimulate yours and allow your brain to fetch the information, think of it as fishing ... I’m really fed up of people forcing things into my brain Damn I shouldn’t have thought that, think about ... what do you mean? Who’s been playing with your brain ... no-one ... so a thing has been in your brain? ... Yes you have don’t think about  ... I know, oh damn I interrupted you then about to think who was in it, wait it wasn’t a who it was a what ... no-one I met .. you’re being evasive ... yes where the hell is it ... where is what? What has been in your brain and will be again soon? ... nothing. Stop thinking about it, think about something else. Thirsty. Think about something upstairs, think about the outside think about Martin, think about fields, thirsty, think about rabbits, think about that drone. where is that drone ... a drone has been inside you ... you’re too young to have thoughts like that ... this isn’t about me, and that wasn’t a no ... it wasn’t a drone no ... are we going to have to play twenty questions here? right what was happening to you in the room where you fought ... Iz had a feeling of the flash of the feeling of omnipitence and power that she had inherited ... Interesting ... Damn it thought Iz as long as she didn’t think about the shield ... you have a shield? Think about the shield ... Took over her body is it after something else? Thirsty. What does it want, no damn it two can play at this game what about you? ... I’m not important .. everyone is important, you been bullied or something you said your parents needed this? ... No that’s nothing to do with this ... Iz was back in control of her mind again but she had got an image of her interrogator’s parents being helpless before the queen ... That’s not true they’re free ... then why are they here? why not move to the rest of the Habitat? ... It’s not their fault, family is here ... Thirsty. Then what?
“Damn it will someone get this woman something to drink.” said her interrogator “She can’t think straight for that. You physically torture her and you torture me, I’m getting all the signals from her body’s deficiencies”
Iz waited while she was brought a drink. There was nothing she could do while she was strapped down here. She dare not think about her plans, dare not plan a way out. She needed to run interference until this woman got tired of her and had to break off. But they could work her in shifts too. For all she knew even if there wasn't anyone in the interrogator’s chair they could just switch her chair to be linked up to another in another room. As long as these electrodes were attached to her head she was vulnerable and she was in trouble. Ah the water was arriving, she drunk as much as she was allowed. Better she thought ... Good I’m glad you think so, now we were talking about this shield or something you called it ... No we were talking about your parents and why you are here against your will ... No the shield, the shield will save you, the shield will protect you the shield will get you out of here ... damn right. Damn shouldn’t have thought that ... No but it was what I expected. Now I’m guessing that it is embedded in your clothing, but since that’s all now in another room then it can’t really help you ... Iz was highly confused she was still wearing her own clothing she still had a chance.
“Thank you,” said the young girl “Guards you may want to strip her, the shield is embedded within her clothing”
“If you’re so scared of this thing, this shield then now is when it will have to activate to save its own attachment to me” for once Iz almost felt like laughing like the Queen. The guards came up to her and removed her from the chair. Iz struggled and fought against the four of them as they manhandled her out of the chair and began to strip her. Removed from the neural connections to the chair a memory came hot into her mind.
“No it’s still too soon. Your body hasn’t recovered.”
“I’m dead without you” thought Iz
“No” continued the memory “survive this for another ten maybe twenty minutes that’s all you need.”
“Damn you I should just tell them all they want to know”
“Do that and they will fully separate me from you, as long as they think you control me they’ll keep me nearby. That is your hope.”
“How the hell did they get this cursed technology” she thought to herself cursing the situation
“As they said, how else do you think we got the technology to meld with your mind like I am doing now.”
“Your connection to me is the same way theirs is using?”
“Exactly that’s how you control me”
“I don’t control you”
“That’s how you control me”
The conversation went silent as the belt was removed. Iz looked at her pile of clothes thrown in the corner. Naked she was strapped again into the interrogation chair.
“You know” said Iz “It’s an old trick to humiliate your captor, to at least try and make them feel exposed. It’s nothing new. You should probably try and rape me if you’re going textbook.”
“Oh none of the guards are brave enough yet after your last show.” came the Queen’s voice, she continued “Hopefully we’ll be able to break you down though, having frightened guards is not good in the long term”
“Well I think I” ... respect the Queen ... Iz glared at the young girl “Damn it will you stop that while I’m half way through a thought. I don’t even know your name.”
“Identity here is unimportant” commented the Queen
“I don’t know yours either”
“You know all that I care you to know and all that matters. Now tell me where you got this shield and what it will allow you to do.”
Damned if I know thought Iz, well speed and some sort of forcefield ... You’re lying you don’t know that ... I was told it was ... Yes, but you’ve never used it for that ... Why do you do this? ... Why are you here? ... to learn, to prove a point ... a point, to a friend? ... to myself. To the world ... That you’re good enough, that you can do things no others can? How pathetic ... I agree that would be, I’m trying to prove the Habitat wrong ... So again you wish to take on a force stronger than that of Man, you wish to challenge the god of modern times ... I never called it a god, I called it arrogant and dangerous and a problem ... Yet you serve it ... I do not serve it, it serves me .. Then why are you here trying to destroy us ... I’m not, I’m trying to figure out what’s going on, possibly save all of mankind ... You think the Habitat is a threat to all humanity? ... Well why else would it do this? Why is it building all these things both here and in the asteroid belt? ... For us, Damn no this is not the question, why are you here? ... I tell you because the Habitat is up to something and it’s not just in the belt, it’s building near the sun. ... Really? No you’re supposed to answer me, what are you doing here, why do you want to destroy us? ... I don’t.
“Enough” cried the girl “She’s telling the truth she’s not here to destroy us, she’s not here on a mission from the Habitat, she’s just here for herself. maybe she has some help from the Habitat but if she is on some mission then she’s being used and not aware of it.”
“I say when enough is enough.”
“I’ve nothing more to get out of her. She is what she is and I know she’s not here to hurt us intentionally as much as if it were me.”
“You will go back in and work her down.”
“There is nothing else there. That shield unit of hers is almost as much a mystery to her as it is to us. It has some form of intelligence itself, but she knows no more, they have kept it from her”
“Remove the girl then. Guards, the intruder is helpless and yours” The Queen sounded almost gleeful “Please make it entertaining.”
“You want some popcorn with that?” asked Iz watching the guards coming towards her “Come on you’re not going to wait for the girl to leave?”
“Educational I would say” replied the Queen’s voice.
Iz felt the probes that were attached to her head withdraw themselves. At least her head was free to move even if the rest of her body was clamped down. She tried kicking her legs but they were strapped at the ankle. The first guard approached her and removed her chest strap. She tried reaching forward with her now freed head to bite or head-but any of the chest's of the guards. Laughter came in response. To each side of her a guard appeared removing her hand from the wrist clamp lifting her up by the arms so that two more could grab her ankles. Freed from her chair she thrashed around trying to free one of the guards grip.
“Oh this looks like a first timer” laughed the guard holding her right arm.
“It’s been some time” replied the left leg.
Iz felt herself lifted up and being carried away from the chair where she had any hope of getting some purchase. Come on she thought, the shield must intervene soon. Can it do that? Does it need to be attached to me to be powered. Is it too far away? She looked at her pile of clothes in the corner and winced, there was no way she’d be able to reach over there with where she was being carried.
Think, thought Iz, how could she get over there. She felt herself weightless for a moment as all the guards dropped her at the same time, laughing to themselves as her back pounded on the floor. Freed for a second she scrambled around into a crawling position trying to get towards the shield belt.
“Oh I think she’s starting to like it” laughed one of the guards, Iz believed it was right arm guard “Kinky”
Iz felt a foot placed either side of her leg and guessed what was going to happen next. With that she spread her legs as fast as she could. Her ankles caught each of the guard’s legs and knocked him off his feet. With this Iz spun around so that she was lying on her back and with a swift kick extended her middle leg so that she kicked between the now prone guard’s legs.
A scream filled the room but even if that guard was disabled she still had three more to take out. On her arms she dragged herself forward to the next guard and took a deep bite out of the guard’s leg.
“Bitch!”came the guards voice. The two unharmed guards laughed at this
“Wait.” asked Iz hearing the bitten guard’s voice “You’re female?”
The bitten guard hopped briefly n her injured leg “Takes all kinds bitch.” and kicked Iz in the stomach to punctuate.
Iz curled up briefly in a ball nursing her injuries. No, no time for that they’re coming back towards me she thought. She felt the two uninjured guards opening her up and positioning her on the floor. Just as one was getting himself prepared she made one last kick against the readying guard knocking him off his feet and the rebound from this propelling Iz towards the pile of clothing in the corner of the room. The last remaining uninjured guard and the first one nursing his crotch strided towards her. She reached within the pile of her clothing and found the belt underneath.
As her hand touched it a memory flooded to her “Sorry, safety feature, I am deactivated when I’m not in contact with a person”.
Before she had time to think a response she felt that slightly familiar feeling of losing control of her own body. She felt her legs and back muscles start to work and lift her upright.
“I can’t speed up the thought process for you this time. That would break your body again and we have too much to do. I can however use your body to defend itself.”
Iz was now standing upright facing her first attacker. Her hands were out of her control strapping the belt on . The guard advanced and she felt her leg muscle bunch swinging up and kicking the guard on the chin. The inertia from this caused her upper body to swing backwards but her hands were still busy fastening the belt. She realised she was completely out of balance and her head was about to hit the floor as her spin from her kick left her upside down. Strange that it's now she should notice the girl tucked up in the corner. They had planned for her to watch to learn a lesson on the need to be controlled. Not sure what this would teach her but Iz was sure she'd remember it.
Finally her hands were freed from fastening the belt and flicked down just in time to catch her fall, feeling like her muscles were on the edge of snapping as they absorbed her fall with a kick from her left leg against the back wall she sprang back with her right leg kicking the next charging guard. She landed upright and had a moment to check out the situation. The female guard who had kicked her in the stomach was re-grouping herself with the one remaining standing guard. The two who she had just kicked in their faces were not out of it, but still lying prone. The female guard and the standing guard both finally - why did she think finally questioned Iz to herself - removed their truncheon from their belts and slowly walked towards Iz holding a defensive posture.
Iz looked towards the young girl still in the corner “Learning anything yet kid?”
The male guard with the truncheon interrupted before the girl could answer “Yeah, it helps to have machines on your side” and swung at Iz with the truncheon.
Don’t fail me now thought Iz trying to will the thought at the shield as her hand reached to catch twist and redirect the force of the swing. With a grab and a sidestep she was able to tug the truncheon out of the Guards hand.
“Thanks” said Iz, adjusting her hold on her new weapon.
Whilst she was saying this the female guard was swinging for her. Iz quickly swapped the truncheon into her left hand and used it to block the swing. The room echoed with the smack of hollow carbon on carbon.
The guard looked at Iz almost as if she were trying to work out what to do next. Iz took the chance to take a deep breath and work out her exit strategy. The two guards who she had disabled earlier with the face kicks were pulling themselves up and she realised if she didn’t act fast she’d be back to facing four guards again rather than the one and a half she had at the moment.
“Can’t you help me more” Iz thought to the shield.
“Not as much as you want no,” came the memory “I can guide your hands in certain ways but to take full control of your body takes its toll so I have to leave you to handle most of this. I can give you muscle memory of being a skilled fighter but nothing more.”
So much for my saviour thought Iz. She saw permanently taking out the two prone guards as her first target so jumped towards them aiming to have her foot land square in their chests in order to wind them for long enough to take them out of contention. As she jumped forwards and her foot headed towards the first guard she realised she had jumped too hard and her landing point would not be the guard’s chest, but his neck as she tried to move it out of the way her foot would not change its course and her heal landed first square on the neck of the first guard then her next foot on the neck of the second guard accompanied by a crunch and a gagging sound.
“Damn you” thought Iz “I wasn’t trying to kill them”
“You haven’t” came the reply “they’ll live”
“You didn’t have to change my attack”
“I thought you were chickening out of what had to be done. Don’t blame me, it’s a perfectly natural human reaction to not want to hurt others.”
Iz now faced the two guards who were fully mobile one disarmed the other fully armed and now charging towards her. Iz moved her legs to brace herself and jammed the truncheon forwards first to knock the oncoming attacking baton sideways then to jam the truncheon into the stomach of the charging guard. The inertia of the guard remained coming towards her and so as the guard impacted her chest she rolled onto her back legs jammed again into the guards stomach and flung the guard into the wall behind her.
“Why do you mooks only ever attack one at once, you’d be far better off all charging me together” Iz looked at the remaining guard realising she was led on the floor completely vulnerable to attack, muscles aching and barely able to move “Come and get me then. No please do, a clean sweep would be about right. And what about you Queen, go on order him in.”
Iz waited in the silence, waited for some response when none came she carried on “thought so, now get the hell out of here” the guard and the girl both ran leaving her in the room by herself.
Iz pulled herself to standing and started over into the corner to retrieve her clothes.
“No time for that now” came the memory “You need to get out of here before they get back with guns”
“I’m not running through here naked.” she said to the room at large
“Then you’re leaving here dead, now run. Fast” Iz thought for the moment it was the shield that had dropped this in as a memory but realised it was the Queen gloating from behind the mirror “yes run, run”
Iz scooped up her clothes in her arms and bolted out of the door.

26 September, 2011

[SFAP] Chapter 10:5

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

The two guards outside Laurence’s door stood waiting for shift change. Stood was perhaps a strong term, the Freedom was still in freefall and so floating to attention might be a matter description. They had light magnets in their boots that held them in place until they moved, but the magnets were so light that even a rigid attention left them floating occasionally. Still from their perspective for once this was a prisoner under cabin guard who didn’t have constant visitors or was troublesome constantly asking to speak to the captain or demanding some more food or with a shudder remembered those that had a habit of singing at the top of their voice.
The door to the quarters opened, both guards turned weapons drawn pointing at Laurence stood in the doorway.
“Please would you escort me up to the bridge” asked Laurence trying to suppress a smirk.
“I’m afraid we can’t do that Sir, orders to keep you here” replied the larger of the two guards, checking the safety on his gun.
“Computer, please confirm my security authorisation”
“Sorry guys” responded the computer “he’s got authority from the admiral, you’ll have to take him to the bridge”
The guards took a brief moment to stare at each other.
“I guess you didn’t hear the computer” smirked Laurence “As of two minutes ago I outrank everyone else on this ship, now get me to the bridge before I have you suspended for failure to follow orders”
“You’re a civilian Sir you cannot give me an order, you can’t outrank me” growled the taller guard, pointing his weapon at Laurence’s head. “Now get back in your cabin while I confirm the facts here”
“Well well, they’re not recruiting from the bottom of the gene pool for grunts anymore. Interesting” Laurence fought to keep himself from laughing “Computer please disable these two gentleman’s weapons” a small light came on on both of the weapons. With this the larger of the two guards grabbed Laurence’s shoulder “and activate medical restraint on them too”
Both the uniforms of the guards inflated holding the guards in their current position “Sorry” apologised the computer.
Laurence retrieved a pistol from the belt of one of the immobilised guards and walked off towards the bridge.

23 September, 2011

[SFAP] Chapter 10:4

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

Iz had grown hoarse from shouting and so had given up. She’d been sitting here for an unknown number of hours. Could it have been days she wondered? No way to tell. Eventually the hood would be pulled off, her body would have recovered from the earlier exertions and so the shield could do its business and she’d be out of here again. Then she’d run no matter the pain and she’d be free.
“Not likely” came the memory “Your body hasn’t recovered. To recover it needs food and water. Food you can do without for a good amount of time, but there were never much reserves on your body and I’ve used almost all of those up trying to build you up and now there’s a lack of water. If you don’t get something soon there’s nothing I can do.”
“Well call for a drone then, get me out of here”
“No good, while the Habitat is well aware of our situation, the entangled link is holding up fine; wherever we are is well shielded against EM so I can’t tell the Habitat where we are, the tracking systems don't work. That leaves us with a few hundred places you could be though, some of them quite large.”
“Well the Habitat must have some idea, what about our last known position, that must narrow it down.”
“That’s why I said there were hundreds of options not millions”
“Come on it can’t be that bad.”
“In the grand scheme of things no, the Habitat isn’t that big, at least not the habitable bit, but it’s still over half a billion square kilometres of living space to keep an eye on and that allows for quite a few shadows.”
“So no help coming”
“Not until we know where to send it”
“No shield”
“Only a few minutes worth, not enough until there is a way out of here”
“No last minute heroics by my over stimulated body?”
“A definite possibility, but again we need to wait until there is some way to use it”
“Why the hell didn’t you do something earlier with the guards”
“You weren’t fully recovered it wasn’t anticipated that this imprisonment would happen. Your body was so badly hurt from before it needed time. Time that we’ve now had, but that will start to run out again if we don’t get you some water.”
“So now what?”
“We wait. the guess they are probably making is you were a fearsome force before physically so they’re trying to weaken you.”
“Strapped down like this I’m not much harm.”
“Indeed, so why are we waiting?”
“Anything else you want to volunteer about this situation?”
“Not that will help you for the moment.”
Iz went back to thoughtful contemplation this time not addressed at the shield.

[SFAP] Chapter 10:3

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

Laurence re-read the letter trying to work out if it said enough and if he could rely on the Admiral to trust him over one of his own. Possibly not that was why their was both the threat and the carrot at the end. Jason was no fool and would know what he was trying to achieve, the question was could he rely on the greed of Jason.
Letters and memos had never been Laurence’s strong suit and age hadn’t helped. it was one reason he got out of the management of Fillwick and had changed his identity at the time of his rejuvenation, far too much like management.
Anyway, locked as he was in his room and with nothing to do until the computer received an update from the fleet command he drafted a letter to Alice telling her pretty much the same things.

22 September, 2011

[SFAP] Chapter 10:2

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

To: Fleet Admiral Powell
Jason, hope this message greets you well.
I’m sure you’re aware of the current situation in this emergency run and are following reports with interest. What should have been a straightforwards trial run has turned into a full scale conflict and I doubt your assigned captain has grasped the full scale of what he involved in.
The Freedom was designed for the future of combat in space and our erstwhile captain seems to have ignored every piece of advice we crafted while we were designing this boat. The idiot is treating this as if it were a cross between an aircraft carrier and a fortress when in fact he seems to have forgotten all that you and I planned for this as a jet fighter of space. He currently has us anchored and I use anchored in all the derogatory sense I can muster as he has us as a sitting duck with the idea that we can repel borders when we are clearly facing missiles travelling a good fraction of the speed of light. I’ve tried to explain to him that an incoming weapon you can’t see is deadly beyond anything he has experienced. I’ve insisted that the Freedom’s only defense is its’ own huge speed, but he insists on securing land as if he were some imperial army general.
We are going up against all we feared it appears the Bats - as the grunts here have dubbed the asteroid dwelling rebel group - have managed to build some fighters based around the K engines they stole from the very transport I made my way out here on. This has given them some truly impressive fighters almost matching those carried by the Freedom in performance and beating us in numbers.
At the moment the enemy fighters are content with buzzing out position, flying past at high speed dropping off ordinance that so far has either missed or our batteries have been able to intercept, but it is only a matter of time before this fails. At the end of the strafing run they are then relying on their engines to slow them down, turning around and then accelerating up to high speed again. Whilst this provides a fascinating example and test of the tactics you and I discussed right at the inception of the Freedom project, the whole idea was that the Freedom would be the one buzzing the outdated target, not the cobbled together fighters having a state of the art battleship at their mercy.
Given our vulnerable position and our inability to extend our AM drive, I proposed a plan to erect a defensive shield. Jettisoning all surplus cargo and allowing the excess water to freeze into an ice cloud would have made us unapproachable by the fighters since they would have to slow down to pass through said field without damage and at such low speed would be vulnerable to our superior fighters. However the bumbling captain seems to be obsessed with his land grab and so refused to accept my suggestion.
Given the infinitely valuable status of the Freedom and the impossibility of building a replacement in time to save us from this newly discovered asteroid threat I suggested the course of most prudent action and was ordered off the bridge. When the XO attempted to force the matter I tried to use my security clearance as CTO of the company that built this ship to do the only sensible thing and do what was needed to save the ship from the Captain’s incompetency.
Unfortunately it seems that the ships records haven’t been the updated after my recent modifications and so the identity check was refused.
I therefore write both to ensure that you are given all the information possible to give you and to make sure that you know how to remedy the situation should you decide I was right. After drafting this to you I’ll have words with the development division and make sure those new fighters you asked for are prepared immediately for the defense of Earth and that the construction of a full ship yard capable of building multiple Freedom class ships is started immediately. Given this impending threat you can be assured of Fillwick Enterprises full compliance and expediency in expanding the fleet.
This is of course provided I survive this next few hours and the incompetency of your Captain.
Stephen Fillwick cto Fillwick Enterprises

20 September, 2011

[SFAP] Chapter 10:1

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

“They’re dropping missiles, the PDLs seem to be getting most of them, the armor is taking the brunt of the damage.”
“How long until the engines are up again?”
“Just under thirty seconds”
“Okay here’s the plan. The enemy fighters are very high speed, too fast to be hit by our missiles, they have too much range for the attack rockets to catch them. Thrust away from the last known vector of the ships. Hopefully some of the high energy particles will intercept the fighters and badly damage the crew. If they want to follow they have the thrust to catch the battleship, but they’ll have to put themselves at increased risk of harm from the exhaust.”
“Captain” Laurence came out from hiding in the corner “You’ve got to get that drive extended, we’ll be a sitting duck until we can get mobilised, jettison all unneeded cargo to form a debris field around the ship to stop the enemy fighters getting close give us a chance to get the AM drive up and running then let’s get out of here”
“Coward” the XO stood up and moved towards Laurence “Marines get in here and escort Mr Stephens off the bridge”
Two burly men strolled over and grabbed Laurence “Computer, executive override” uttered Laurence, the marines pausing in their manhandling of him while he spoke “recognise Stephen Fillwick, code Tango Three Zero Oscar Seven Two Delta Echo”
“Access code confirmed, Bioscan failed” chimed the computer’s voice , it added, “Sorry Laurence.”
The marines carried on and finally pulled Laurence off the bridge.
“Orders Sir” asked the XO
“He was onto something there, but not in the way he thought. get the fab drones out there pulverising some of the smaller rocks around here and get a good fat debris shield around us.” the Captain sat down as he said this “Looks like he’s got a quiet rest of the journey.”

19 September, 2011

[SFAP] Chapter 9:11

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

“I’d say we just got hit with one of those relativistic drones. Con! Emergency acceleration, get us out of here.”
“The fighters Sir?”
“We haven't deployed them yet” the Captain said this glancing at the operations screen seeing a group of identified fighters heading towards their current position “I see, why aren’t we moving?”
“Most of the Ks were shut down to save stress on the radiators. The ones that were running were the ones that exploded, it’s a good job the others were shut down or from the looks of it we’d have lost those as well”
“I see, how long before we can get the AM drive deployed”
“Not before those fighters get here”
“Belay the AM drive extension then until those fighters are down. Can we deploy our own fighters in time?”
“Yes Sir.”
“Then why aren’t they out there? Go.” he screamed.
The CO barked off a string of orders to get the fighters mobilised “We’ve been caught with our pants down kids, let’s show them what we’re carrying.” He barked a series of order to mobilise the marines into local ship defense
“Now we wait” commented the Captain”
“And if they’re carrying nukes?” asked the XO
“Then we don’t wait very long.”

16 September, 2011

[SFAP] Chapter 9:10

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

This section was supposed to be part of a much larger subplot that I would expand to flesh out the ideas of how money works in a post scarcity society. Unfortunately I have never had the chance to do it, so please imagine I had, I guess if I was getting more hits I might have spent the effort but...

Martin stumbled out of the bar, he’d tried a few drinks, tried to get a conversation out of that woman that wasn’t headed down a single track and given up. In the end even when he’d had enough to drink that he could convince himself that he wouldn’t be taking advantage of her, quite the opposite in fact, he still was told that suggesting that they needed to ‘go home or even to just some sort of private room’ was a ‘bit old and fuddy duddy’ and at that point had just given up and stumbled out into the night.
On his way out of the bar he’d grabbed a sober up pill, but it had yet to have its effect as he wandered down the street bumping off the walls and various other pieces of street furniture. Wait, he told himself, street? Shouldn’t this be a corridor? No this area had been explicitly decorated to look like a street. Even the roof was decorated to look almost but not entirely unlike a late night scene possibly near the docks somewhere. Was that supposed to be simulated Fog? Or was the climate control just not working very well. That was probably unlikely.
Martin realised he was now walking along relatively straight without bumping into anything. He’d heard the sober pills were good, but hadn’t anticipated the speed at which they would work. This would have taken something significant out of his university years he mused.
Surprisingly alert he walked into another random door, this time opening up to reveal a hallway decorated in metallic golden colours, harsh colours and bright lights
“Oh” said Martin out loud “A casino.”
Martin had first come across the concepts of casinos on the Habitat only relatively recently. He noticed that certain individuals that had been powerful on Earth were still supported by ranks of servants here too. Every person had the option of ranks of robotic servants but these were people serving others by choice. Some people even had the occasional drone to tend to their needs, although that might have been the Habitat’s way of keeping track of certain characters.
At first he had thought it had been perhaps the pull of celebrity, or perhaps blackmail, but while that might be an effect gambling was responsible for a whole lot more.
“Ah, Sir welcome” came a voice from the corner.
Martin looked at the man before him decked out in some sort of costume, although what that pink monstrosity was supposed to do except make the punter feel superior was beyond him.
“No, no I’m sure it’s not me you’re after” replied Martin “you don’t need me for anything”
“We welcome all new visitors” with this the pink greeter put his arm behind Martin and ushered him into the main hall.
It was like many that Martin had heard of or seen in videos before but noisier and strangely enough more humid than he had pictured. The place was quite quiet so he felt all the more need to get out of there. “No seriously” he said “I have no GamCreds or whatever the hell you call your money in these circles. I have nothing to give.”
“You insult us Sir, we always welcome new people with open arms”
“Until the second time they visit I’m sure, then you want to get something from them. A favour here, a help out there, then before you know it they’re addicted and you have a new servant. I know someone has to wait tables in your restaurants and you have to ensnare celebrities for your punters, but no, count me out of this.”
“There are whose for who it does become a way of life, a whole community shall we say, but communities are always a welcome addition”
“As in Cults,” Martin swiped his hand at the man and turned around to storm out “Now let me go and good day”