Excerpts from the Jeffersonian Republic project:
This page Copyright © 2016, Karl Leffler
Aurora, Part XXVIII: One's Place in the Universe
Continued from the previous excerpt
IS Aurora, Hyperspace Transit
Illyria to Sylvan
Five hundred twenty hours was twenty-two Terran days, seventeen Monticellan, and twenty-three Illyrian. Aurora's crew, and experienced travelers, knew how to fill that time, but young Anna, inexperienced in the wider galaxy, needed guidance.
As Cates had surmised, few Illyrians knew how to use the technologies common in Republic Space. Anna appeared to be no exception, but quickly learned the basics of 'puter operation. If anything she had some small advantages, having learned basic mathematics the old-fashioned way instead of having machines do the work for her; her neural pathways were more plentiful.
All the crew, sympathetic to her narrow escape, taught what lessons they could. She soon volunteered to help where she could, becoming a Steward's Mate, Purser's Assistant, even helping in Engineering, at least so far as learning to run a fabber.
Solomon and Anna soon fell into the habit of dining together. “You don't have to do this, you know,” Danner told her over lunch a few ship-days into the Transit.
“I feel I should, Captain. -Solomon. You've been so kind to me.”
“A gentleman's duty, milady,” he answered with a bow from his seat. She grinned and chuckled.
Then her grin faded. “I have... heard many things about your Republic. Is it true you have no police?”
Danner nodded. “It is. Before we Escaped Terra, we'd learned that the very idea of a police force was destructive.”
“But....” She did not wish to give offense, but had to know. “How do you prevent crime? Punish the offenders? Provide for the victims?”
Danner nodded; he'd answered this question from foreigners before. “Police don't prevent crime. They show up after and take notes. Unless they have enough powers that you're living in a police state, where no one can even pretend to be free.
“As for 'punishing' offenders, why should thieves, rapists, murderers, continue to live at taxpayer expense, often in better conditions than their victims, with food and shelter and health care?
“To which our solution is to let people defend themselves. We find it better to have dead robbers and rapists and live intended victims, than the reverse. And we've learned, as I said, that police inevitably turn into a cure worse than any disease. As you know,” he reminded gently; despite her recent experience, she was still... programmed... to respect authority.
Anna's smile had faded, but not completely. She sipped at her wine, thinking.
Solomon also contributed to Anna's training. It came in bits and pieces as they occurred to him - a 'puter trick here, a cultural explanation there. This ship-day they were in the forward holds, usually used for recreation instead of cargo. “If you're planning on settling on New Israel, or elsewhere in the Republic, you'll need certain skills. You're already learning how to handle technology, 'puters and so on, and you were already very literate.” Many foreigners weren't, in Danner's experience. Education in the Republic was not compulsory, nor was it funded by taxes on people who may not ever benefit from it; long ago teaching programs had been written for the computers of the time, and sold or even given away, and improved ever since. “Sarah's working on a lesson plan for piloting standard aircars and shuttles, though most modern ones have AIs. Not like Aurora of course, but you can tell them where you want to go.” Anna nodded. Solomon had been pleased to find she exhibited no shape-prejudice against the non-Human members of his family. “After a year, you can claim Subjectry. If you enlist, you can claim Provisional Citizenship even faster, though you'll then be committed to a term of service.”
“I... do not think military service would agree with me,” Anna stated.
Danner nodded. “Not everyone is suited for it. Five Monticellan years military, or eight non-military, earns you Citizenship. Then a couple months every five years to keep it. But no one's required to become a Citizen, you can remain a Subject indefinitely, and still have more rights than 'citizens' of any other nation. That's what Sarah and her family did before she joined Aurora.” Again Anna nodded in understanding. He'd already explained Aurora's status as a naval auxiliary, and that service aboard her counted as active maintenance of Citizenship, which they'd exercised above Dakota just a couple thousand hours before.
Solomon continued, “Every Citizen and Subject is expected to be able to defend themselves. There are many ways to do this. Daisuke's already been giving you lessons in the midsword.” The midsword, designed by the Founder Kurt Vetter years before the Escape, was one of the standard sidearms of the Space Patrol (Navy) and Exploration & Colonization Service (Marine Corps), and a common farm, ranch, and yard tool throughout the Republic and beyond. Daisuke had learned its use - much-evolved from the ancient Roman gladius - in addition to the kenjutsu expected of a traditionally-raised nikkei of New Israel. “Clancy can teach you bataireacht, an old Irish stick-fighting technique. Holly can teach you unarmed techniques, specific methods for a woman's physiology, and will probably be a better small-arms teacher than me.”
“I trust you, Solomon,” Anna said with a smile. “Please begin your lesson.”
Solomon smiled back. “Very well.” Hold Six was presently configured as a 10-meter pistol range. Since the ship was in freefall during Transit, Solomon and Anna were wearing grippers, evolved from Velcro centuries ago, on their feet, and partitions had been raised to brace their bodies against recoil.
Not that there would be much. “This is a Pappenham Plinkster,” Solomon explained as he uncased the weapon. “It uses electromagnets to accelerate a 5mm cermet pellet.” Energy-storage had improved vastly since the Escape; the Casetti M437 plasma pistol Danner and much of the crew usually wore carried 27 standard charges of 1.3 kilojoules each. The New Texas Arms MkLX rifle, Marine Corps issue, carried fifty charges of 6.4kJ in the standard configuration; the Delta variant took power from the Mobile Infantry's armor. NTA's first successful plasma rifle was the MkLVII, adopted by the Regular Marines in 343JR, only a decade after the War. The previous fifty-six attempts were destroyed in the process of developing a safe power cell. The fifty-seventh served for only eleven Republic years, but the fifty-eighth served for a century and a half.
“The Plinkster is a very mild piece,” Danner continued, “meant for recreation, small-game hunting, and pest control. It has very low recoil and noise. It's also used for training.” Danner drew his M437 and held it beside the Pappenham. The grip shape and size, and the controls, were nearly identical. Anna nodded, comprehending.
“Now, I've already explained the Four Rules, and we've been practicing on dummies.” It was a simple matter to fab an inert solid shape, and not much more complex to add a few moving parts to simulate controls. Anna had already learned to operate a basic fabber; Aurora's machine shop had four of different sizes and, given time and raw materials, could build an entire aircar. Aurora's databanks carried thousands of standard designs, from tableware to naval capital missiles.
Anna had been learning to handle firearms with these dummy pistols and rifles, watching her muzzle direction, keeping her finger off the trigger, acquiring a sight picture. The Plinkster was integrally suppressed, as most modern projectile weapons were, but the pellet it threw was supersonic, so they were wearing hearing protection. Eye protection wasn't strictly necessary under these conditions, and Ralph could repair any damage likely to be sustained, but it was still a good habit. Solomon handed a full magazine, 45 pellets with power cell, to Anna, and instructed her to “Load.”
The controls were of the ancient Browning pattern. The magazine slid into the grip, its catch just behind the trigger guard; the pre-Escape slide stop had become the charging lever, to chamber the first projectile or connect the first capacitor for energy weapons; the thumb safety hadn't changed position or purpose in four and a half Terran centuries. Anna inserted the magazine and chambered the first pellet, all while keeping the weapon safely pointed downrange and her finger off the trigger. “Again, this trainer will have very low recoil and noise,” Danner reminded Anna, “so don't worry about that. You'll hardly notice it. If we were under acceleration I'd be reminding you of your stance.” He'd already given some of those lessons in the dining compartments after meals, under spin-weight. Anna, old-fashioned, did not visit Danner's quarters, or allow him into hers, without a chaperone; Danner, a gentleman by nature, never thought to raise the issue. “Instead I'll remind you of your grip, firm but not straining, with the web of your hand all the way up into the beavertail.” Anna shifted her grip minutely. “Align the sights with each other.” The Plinkster was from Danner's personal collection and had his preferred sights, a red ramp front and square white outline rear, a pattern also centuries old. Holly's M437 had an integral holosight, its projector flush with the top of the pistol's receiver; it activated when the weapon was gripped and was phased to appear only to the operator. It was standard for the model, but her reticle was customized. Danner's M437 had the same feature, with the standard-program reticle, but his only lit on command and he'd also had 'iron' sights installed. Firearm sights were a very personal thing, and no one argued anyone else's choice outside of uniformed service and the need for standardization. “Steer the resulting sight picture onto the target. Remember to use the center hold.” Danner had sighted this pistol so the front sight blade would cut the black bullseye in half, rather than the 6-o'clock hold like target competitors used in gravity fields at known distances, where the trajectory could be adjusted for. In freefall, in theory, the pellets would be striking very slightly 'high', but at only ten meters it wouldn't be significant. “When your sights are on the target, place your finger on the trigger.” In a moment, Anna did so. “Breathe slowly and deeply. Relax yourself. If you find yourself getting fatigued, take your finger off and start over. When you're ready, begin squeezing. Don't anticipate the break. Let it surprise you.”
It took a few seconds, but presently the Plinkster snapped and a half-centimeter hole appeared in the holographic target's 5cm 10-ring, low and left and halfway to the 2cm X-ring. Anna, excited, exclaimed in joy - but remembered the safe handling rules Solomon had been drilling her with for days. “Well done!” he said with a smile. “Very well indeed! -Now do it again.”
And she did.
After a time, Anna asked to try a real M437. “I expected as much,” Solomon stated, uncasing one of the ship's spares. “The hearing protection will be needed now, and there's far more recoil.” He asked Aurora to change the holographic target for a larger one, half a meter across - about the width of a Human torso.
The earmuffs they were using were a standard active model which allowed normal hearing and conversation below the programmed decibel level. “Keep a firm grip,” he cautioned her, “but don't try to hold it down. Let it kick, just don't let go. Rapid-fire techniques come later. I'm only loading one charge to begin.” One of Aurora's many robots, bearing a universal charging station, had accompanied the pair. It extracted a standard M437 power cell from itself, the cell's indicator lights - hidden in the pistol's grip when inserted - showing a single charge. The cell also contained the relatively small amount of hydrogen which would be converted to plasma. The robot - Aurora - handed the power cell to Anna. She had already practiced with the ECS-issue holosight, and after loading, took aim.
WHAM! A bolt of golden plasma speared through the projected target, and the armor-plate backstop rang like a church bell. “Oh... my,” she said. Her arm had lifted - well, swung in an arc toward an arbitrary 'up' in freefall - almost perpendicular to the line of aim. She would have tumbled if not for the partition bracing her body. She ejected the power cell and handed it back to the robot. “Another, please?”
“Five, please, Aurora.”
She had better control of the recoil for her next shots, but by the third, her aim had begun to stray, though even her fifth was still within a Human torso at ten meters. “You're starting to flinch,” Solomon told her. “Back to the Plinkster, a full magazine. That will kill the flinches before they take hold, then we'll have lunch.”
Clancy had saved some battlefish from their latest visit to Kshir - they still made neoprawn runs from Alexandria, when they were among the Central Worlds - and had been rationing it to the crew. None for the passengers, it was theirs alone. But, seeing something growing between Solomon and Anna, he brought a little out of cryo and served it with a sly wink to his Captain before returning to his galley, giving them relative privacy in the otherwise-empty dining section.
Anna continued delving into Jeffersonian culture. “Your ship, for example,” she asked of Solomon - “is it true you own her completely, as a private person? That she remains fully armed?”
Danner nodded. “I got very lucky one day. Very lucky indeed....” He looked away for a moment, remembering September Rose and ore barge C484; his near death, his unexpected reward, his wonderful discovery in Mothball Orbit. “As I told you, she's listed as a Reserve Privateer, essentially a naval auxiliary, but that's not necessary for ownership or armament. We have very few laws. Our government leaves people alone instead of robbing them at every opportunity.”
“It sounds... remarkable,” Anna answered, perhaps more thoughtfully than Danner might have expected.
“You'll soon see for yourself. New Israel's a bit crowded for my taste though.” The planet's population was expected to exceed half a billion in the next few years, making it third in the Republic, after Monticello, and of course Terra.
She cocked her head, still faintly smiling. “And yet you live within the confines of a ship for weeks at a time. Even months.”
He ducked his head with a grin. “True. It's... different. Aurora is my home and my family. Planets can be beautiful, but....” He gave his head a shake. “Not home. Not for me.” He tapped the deck with a foot. “With her, all the universe is my home.”
“You speak as though she were alive.”
“Who's to say she isn't? A being of such complexity, such vitality?”
“Such destructive force?” Danner had explained what weapons Aurora carried, including the missiles with a maximum 2 megaton yield. He'd also explained that anyone who could reach orbit - and a meaningful fraction of the privately-owned aircars in the Republic could - were suddenly capable of kinetic strikes. With a little work, the energies released could easily reach nuclear equivalents.
Yet it didn't happen. Danner shook his head in rejection. “The presence of a weapon - a tool - does not demand its use. Weapons by themselves are useless. Only thinking beings can be destructive. Take me for example - I have in my head enough knowledge to design and build, well, start with a midsword like yours. Not the advanced materials, true, but the functional equivalent. A pistol, a rifle, gunpowder, muzzleloading at least, even a simple flintlock breechloader. Explosives are basic chemistry, taught in our elementary schools. Even nuclear weapons, the first ones, are very simple in design, though their ingredients can be difficult to process. And yet, despite millenia of trying, despite the utter failure of every attempt at disarmament and prohibition, humanity has never yet managed, in the centuries since we first split the atom, to blow ourselves completely up. Nor any other race, not the Chikarans, not even the Vloss, who've tried the hardest of any we've met - even they are still people, not animals.”
Cocking her head again, copper waves shifting and flowing in the low spin-weight, she asked, “Why?”
“Because contrary to what monarchs and bureaucrats and power-hungry perverts believe or say, people can be trusted. With weapons. With money. With information, with votes. Trusted to live their own lives their own ways without some monster's permission. Without hurting each other. Because there are more good people than bad.” Danner smiled. “We've proven it, for five and half centuries. -Well, ours. About four of yours. It wasn't the Chikaran or Vloss people who wanted to slaughter each other, it was a few in their governments. Those accustomed to power, addicted to it. Those who no longer saw other people as people, only pieces on a game board.”
Anna gave her head a shake, not of rejection but of incomprehension. “What you describe is... far outside my experience,” she said. “I find it difficult to believe.”
Solomon noticed his own fascination with her shining copper locks, and forced himself to look instead into her sapphire eyes. Which he found no less fascinating. Still, he was his own master, and answered, “Most- well- foreigners do. I instead find it remarkable that despite our example, for centuries, other nations have not abandoned the older forms of control, power, official thievery and legal slavery. Have not 'let their people go.'”
After a pause, she asked, “You say there is no slavery in your Republic?”
Solomon gave a little shrug. Nowy Kraków was a festering island in the Jeffersonian sea, and Solomon said as much. “But the Republic still does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy; and to really clean the place up would require decades of occupation, far worse than Terra was in the aftermath of the War, and executing at least a quarter of the population. Such a venture would create more monsters, on both sides, than it slew. Either that or outright genocide, a general kinetic bombardment, deliberately inflicting what Oskran suffered by chance.” Seeing the horror in Anna's eyes, Solomon continued, “Neither course is acceptable. It may seem counterintuitive, but it really is more... 'humane' to leave them alone.”
“But- they live like animals! Many are starving! And what they do to each other-”
“'Something must be done'?” Sol shook his head. “Those four words have led to the greatest atrocities in the histories of every known race, slavery and murder on industrial scales, devastation of entire continents. No such evil can ever be completely destroyed, and we've stopped wasting treasure and blood trying. It will always exist somewhere.” Gentling his tone, he reminded her, “Your would-be slavers wore the uniforms and claimed the authority of your own government, your 'protectors.'”
At this she frowned. “And your solution is to leave everyone to fend for themselves?”
“Compared to the alternative? Absolutely.”
Calming herself, she spoke without malice, but with intellect. “That is cold-blooded. Heartless.”
Solomon nodded, unoffended. “So it seems. But is it 'compassionate' to create a breed of monsters who can rob, murder, and enslave with impunity? Who are even paid to do so by their own victims, through taxes? How is it noble to 'help' one person by robbing another at gunpoint?”
Anna sighed. “That is what I have the most difficulty with, Solomon. The notion that there is no government to protect me.”
“And yet,” he responded softly, “you have had a most direct object lesson that, as one of our prophets said long ago, 'safety does not come from policemen.'” Solomon referred to Heinlein, whose statue still stood in Founders' Park, to which the crew made pilgrimage every time they reached Terra. “Governments throughout history have convinced their people that 'protecting' them, 'providing for' them, was government's legitimate purpose.”
“And you say otherwise?”
“We have proven otherwise. -For a very short time, our Founders' Founders glimpsed the truth - the United States of America, their Constitution, their Bill of Rights, the models for our own. They didn't go far enough in restraining government.”
“But society needs police....”
Solomon shook his head. “It does not. The Americans got along quite well for generations before police were invented; their worst troubles, and their end as free people, came after. After they had abandoned their natural right to self-defense, hired it out. There are more good people than bad, but once you allow police to exist, there are inevitably more bad cops than good. They believe, they are assured, that they're the 'good guys', and have, in their own minds, absolute moral justification for every atrocity they commit. That is a poison we have never allowed to be introduced. -Almost never; ask Holly about the early history of New Texas, but brace yourself for a real lecture.”
Next Anna asked about government itself. “Surely you can't claim to have no taxes, no need for internal revenue? You say this ship is a naval auxiliary. That implies an official navy. How is that paid for?”
“You're right, there are some government functions we consider legitimate, and national defense - against external threats - is at the top of the list. But let's look at it from the other end. Where do the costs come from, that require high taxes? Modern technologies greatly reduce costs. Fuel is cheap - capture a single comet, focus some solar mirrors on it for processing, install another solar receiver for electrical power to separate the resulting water, and we have all the hydrogen fuel we need for our fusion power - and plenty of oxidizer for conventional rocket fuel too. The same comet, or a gas giant planet or one of its moons, provide nitrogen to mix to create breathable air. The processes are easily automated and have been for generations; they need only a handful of live overseers. So, the fuel costs of operating our warships are minimal, as are the costs of acquiring that fuel.
“Likewise the raw materials to build those ships - a single iron asteroid, again processed with a solar mirror array, can provide more steel and other necessary metals than some entire nations' pre-Escape wet-navies ever used. Robots can assemble it to plan, without rest or food or housing or wages.” Danner made a mental note to add, later, that the Constitution recognized at least the possibility of sentient artificial intelligences - which he hoped Aurora would someday become - and guaranteed the same natural rights to them as to any organic sentient. But no AI had yet been legally recognized as self-aware.
“When energy becomes cheap,” Danner went on, “everything else does too. Uniforms, food, weapons and equipment, tools and parts, all easily mass-produced in automated factories - wait 'til you see some of our orbital farms, without an expensive gravity well to climb out of.” And without seasonal variations, or storms or frosts or blights or droughts or floods, and with sunlight absolutely controllable in duration and intensity; and fuel costs to market consisting largely of firing a few attitude jets after dropping a container into the gravity well. The only people who starved in Republic space were either very stupid, or on Nowy Kraków, which was astrographically within, but not of, the Republic. “You've already learned about fabbers - Aurora carries only four small ones. A real factory has hundreds, but real factories aren't as necessary as they used to be, because of those fabbers; nearly every ship flying has at least one, and even a century-old, fifth-hand model can make anything from underwear to landing gear - and a brand-new copy of itself. So our cost-of-living is cheap too. So navy wages don't have to be a tax burden.”
“But you still haven't explained where those taxes, low though they might be, come from.”
“Our Founders deliberately gave us a strictly frugal government, with very little power to tax. Income, property, and estate taxes are prohibited outright. Government spending is capped to only five percent of Gross National Product, except in wartime, and our last war was more than two centuries ago.” Danner broke off a moment to use his 'puter. “I'm sending you a copy of Holly's speech to the Lii Congress, about our Great Repealing. A couple generations after the War, when Terra had become a Member World and everyone had settled down, we scrapped more than three-quarters of our government, and the tax burden that went with it.
“But to finally answer your question, there are business taxes - but only on a few kinds of businesses, like making Marsten Drives and fusion plants, and the rate is a flat percentage no matter the business' size; and individuals or groups can make their own Drives and fusion engines without taxes or licenses or permission, as long as they're not selling them for profit.” Danner explained that this law was rarely enforced, except in the most obvious cases; Jeffersonians had learned to leave each other alone. A shop earning a kilo or three of platinum, a few times a year, wasn't hurting anyone. An enforcement organization would be the greater evil, and would lead not to increased revenues but to collectors dangling from trees, birds pecking at their lifeless eyes. “Much of the Patrol - remember they're usually de-federalized, except in wartime - isn't funded federally at all but locally, one planet, one system, buying and crewing their own ships. Once they're trained to federal standards, 'official' patrol warships get federal funding for maintenance and operation.”
“Why would anyone put out such expense on their own?”
“Enlightened self-interest. We've learned that if we want peace, we must be prepared for war; that it is better to have a weapon and not need it, than the reverse. A lot of the Patrol's funding is voluntary, not forced through taxes; people know the universe is a hostile place and understand what they're paying for. Our system of Citizenship helps in this - the Founders deliberately made military service the shorter path, and deliberately made some rights available to Citizens only. Our people, like the recruiting posters say, 'See the Universe', as it really is. People who don't want to put in the service to earn a vote don't have to - and no one who hasn't contributed has a say in how things are run.”
“And this is enough to fund - how many warships? A thousand? More?”
“Something over thirty-two hundred on the official Register, last I checked, but that's counting every commissioned ship, down to the freighters and couriers, and spread across more than a hundred Member Worlds and Territories. At least as many again as Reserve Privateers, which receive federal funds only in compensation after performing official duties.” The Reserve Privateer Bureau had its act together, out of more enlightened self-interest; if they didn't cough up the cash, on time and in full, there would be fewer RPs, meaning the Regular Patrol would have more work, meaning a larger tax burden, meaning, eventually, secession and worse. Compensation for Aurora's action over Dakota had appeared in their accounts shortly after their arrival at Illyria. “But yes, it adds up, and it's enough. Also there are port fees, usage fees - I pay a licensing fee for Aurora's status as a Reserve Privateer. In exchange my crew, my family, gets Full Citizenship. If I let it lapse, I'd still own Aurora with her Drive and all her weapons, but we'd be Subjects instead of Citizens, without the right to vote, or hold public office. A lot of shipfolk are Subjects, they have no use for Citizenship.”
“But are these Subjects not a burden?”
Danner shook his head. “No. They make no demands, they just want to live their lives. They're left alone to do so. -That's another thing. By the time of the Escape- just a moment-” Danner sent another link to Anna's 'puter, a summary of early- and pre-Republic history- “our mother-nation, the United States of America, had reached a point where more than half of all government spending was in entitlements, where there were more people living off other people's work than there were working for a living - and they all had votes. Naturally they voted for more and ever more of other people's money. Eventually the money ran out. The government printed more but the whole world knew it was worthless. The whole system collapsed. There was a dictatorial coup, cloaked in an 'election'. The last of the productive class was effectively enslaved to prop up the non-workers, whose 'votes' kept the regime in power. The Founders saw it coming and Escaped a few years before.”
“How then do you provide for the needy?”
“We don't. We have no government welfare system, no entitlements, nothing of the kind. Our people keep what they earn and are not forced to prop up people who won't work. We determined, and clearly stated in our founding documents, that these are not legitimate roles for government. Like Kipling said, 'If you don't work you die.'” Danner also sent Anna's 'puter a copy of The Gods of the Copybook Headings, and of course the Jeffersonian Constitution. “Private charity has always been more efficient than government anyway. If someone wants to help the needy, they can send their own money, for which those charities are held accountable, instead of having some unaccountable government thug steal it from someone else. That is an evil vastly greater than letting the poor starve. We need only look at our own history for proof - government supplies rotting in warehouses, government funds evaporating under corruption and graft, the needy never getting a fraction of it, except when news cameras were present.”
“But what about the disabled, those who can't earn their own living?”
Solomon looked Anna square in the eye and answered, “We don't have any. Our medical technology can repair almost any injury, cure almost any disease - and everyone can afford it because government has stayed out of the way of its development. Medicines, surgical techniques, treatments, compete in an open market, without crippling regulations and crushing taxes. Those which can't produce what the customer wants or needs, go out of business. Those which deliver are rewarded with more customers, and profits, which they use to improve their processes and reduce costs still further, before a competitor beats them to it. Private charity easily handles the handful of unrecoverable cases.”
“And what of the elderly?”
“Our average lifespan is over two hundred Terran years. The same free-market medicine, without bureaucrats bogging it down, has developed anti-aging treatments most other societies can scarcely imagine. Last time I was at Sylvan I met a woman who was something over 160 Terran years old, still working in a sawmill - not because she couldn't retire but because she didn't want to. And she was still entirely capable of the work, or she'd be let go.
“Anna, we've learned, the hard way, that the best, indeed the only way government can truly 'help' people is to stay out of their way. Government poisons everything it touches, and always has. Forcing people to 'help' each other at the point of a government gun always makes things worse.”
Later, alone in her cabin, Anna read the material Solomon had sent her. This linked to more, in Aurora's vast library, updated by Marsten Device at every port; Solomon ordered Daisuke to maintain subscriptions to fifteen different encyclopedias, and Aurora's storage capacity was- beyond organic comprehension.
She read for hours. She began to realize that the history she had been taught, the principles and beliefs she had held all her life, even her own place in the universe, were lies.
Continued in the next excerpt....