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"We can't despoil our world in our attempt . . ." the elderly woman remained infuriatingly calm.

Talian wondered if Portia ever raised her voice or had a single silver hair out of place. Talian suspected the answer was no, and could no longer hold her peace. Talian interrupted, something one almost never did to the regal council member.

"Portia, you know full well that no one is talking about introducing technology planetside. Nor, as you’re also already aware, would we be taking materials from the surface. All the resources we need are already here in space. We can get the required materials from the moon, or from the asteroid belt. There are tons of rock and metal to choose from. It would be foolish not to use what is out here. Plus if we do that, the shipyards would be well away from Mimion."

"And then what?" Portia relaxed against the high back of her plastic and metal chair and folded her hands in her lap. The woman radiated self-assurance. Talian wondered if it was genuine all the time, or an affectation.

Regardless, at the moment Portia's flawed conviction was doing a great deal of harm. Too many people were being swayed by her false argument. If only Talian could make them see that. "And then we won't need to rely on anyone else the next time there is an emergency." She thought the conclusion should have been self-evident but nonetheless maintained her calm as she repeated it. Again.

"Young woman," somehow, without increasing the volume of her speech or detracting from the air of elegance surrounding her, Portia projected authority when she talked. "We have survived without incident for thousands of years. . ."

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