Giant excavators crept slowly above, churning through the frigid regolith, as the conspiritors met deep beneath the surface.
“What you are suggesting, Cera”, said Ikal, “is mutiny. This satellite is still, technically, a military outpost – not a colony.”
“No!” He replied, angrily. “I am asserting our right of independence. We are not soldiers! Nor have we been for generations. And we have a moral obligation, to declare ourselves free.”
“We have a moral obligation to Earth and her subjects”, asserted Ret. “Without helium-3, life as we know it would simply not be possible. Nowhere else can it be extracted in such quantities.”
“But at what cost?” Cera spoke quietly. “An empire, built on slave labour.”
“As ever has been the case, from ancient times. Besides, Cera, you are mistaken. The noncons who mine are not slaves any more than the autoport which bore you here this evening; both are automatic, insensate. Robots.”
“Robots who were once human, before their cortices were ablated.”
“Never so”, replied Ikal.