Black Honey Wings, Part XIII (Meanwhile)

Day 20. 75 pages, 33,271 words.

There was a bit of a formula, for making leaps through soft-space. The very simple version was, don’t do it unless you’re a few hundred thousand miles from anything bigger than a lander.

The very complicated version, naturally enough, didn’t even bear writing down and was utterly incomprehensible to anyone but a relative field engineer, and even most of them would only nod and pretend they understood because seriously, who was going to call them on it?

Anyway, rule of thumb (Part One) was: Go to relative speed close to something like a star, or a planet, or even a moon or large asteroid, and you could tear your ship’s relative drive out by the roots – if you were lucky. If you were unlucky, your entire engine core could shake itself to pieces at ten thousand times the speed of light, and scatter the rest of your ship across an area the size of a solar system. The only good news there would be that the pieces would be exotic-small, so they’d basically sleet off into the universe without hurting anybody else.

Rule of thumb (Part Two) was: Go to relative speed close to a large body like a medium-sized asteroid, or a Mandelbrot or a Worldship, and the effects could be similarly destructive, as well as doing a certain amount of recalibration-necessitating damage to the other ship’s engines.

Part Three was basically: Go to relative speed close to another starship, and ehh. You were just kind of a jerk. Fergunak, for example, did it all the time.

The Black Honey Wings wasn’t large enough to warrant the sort of concern that might come under rule of thumb Part One or Part Two, although of course there was still a risk. The larger starship’s relative drive was already more than a little mangled, and the A-Mod 400’s launch into soft-space in her vicinity certainly didn’t help. Of course, the most important thing was that nobody on board the A-Mod 400 gave a damn about the Black Honey Wings’s relative drive calibration. In all likelihood, the poor schlub in charge of calibrating the engines was going to be killed in the next hour anyway.

It was a quick crash-jump, into soft-space and then back out and then back in again, to emerge on the other side of the ship they were harrying. It was a precision manoeuvre, and not one you could reasonably expect to pull off in every combat, but this was a special case. They were in the middle of deep space, the enemy ship was just the right size and just the right sort of crippled, and they’d already rammed her a couple of times so it was beginning not to matter if they did it again.

Crash-jumping from essentially null subluminal velocity was another matter entirely, but it was more a matter of comfort and spacefaring tradition than anything else.

Commander W’Tan, demonstrably, cared about neither.

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