The latest from Earth Fleet

From my NiP, hot off the presses*:

Verne’s death wasn’t over yet. It would be days before all his systems failed, and even then the derelict would remain, kilotonnes of metal and plastic and vacuum-formed ceramic, hull plating and observation windows, sensory apparati and hundreds of kilometers of wire. Tanks full of silvery sand, short-range lasers, all of it gravitationally enslaved by RCS4481, his orbit an ellipse calculated automatically by the MIs, since that was something that they just did, and available on request.

Sullivan didn’t request it. He didn’t want to know.

If someone had come into his suite, that night, just sat there in one of the unoccupied chairs and watched him for a while, they would have thought he was asleep with his eyes open. He slouched in a plastic sling chair, transparent nylon webbing looped through dull steel tubing, and stared at the still holo above the table. Verne’s gutted bulk floated at the center of the image, captured by a troika of still-functioning cameras from his near-space sensor cloud. Tiny figures floated in slow orbits around the dying ship, as captive to his gravity as he was to the yellow dwarf’s. Occasional flashes of light pinpointed circuit failures or small fires still burning, fueled even in vacuum by air pumps that hadn’t yet failed.

Two-thirds of the way back, Verne’s shape had changed. Metal and ceramic had flowed like water, altering the profile of the starship. Sullivan thought he knew what was going on.

At the heart of the jump drive and its interdependent ecology of support systems lay a singularity, a tiny black hole. Through some process Sullivan didn’t pretend to understand, energy was derived from this hole by firing molecules of hydrogen at a spot just above its event horizon. Fantastic energies were unleashed, most of which were reabsorbed into the systems that held the singularity in place.

Those systems, aboard the hulk of Verne, were failing, or had failed. The captive black hole was free. Verne was being eaten from within.

I’m hoping to soon have something set up where you can read the whole novel so far online. More on that as things progress on that front.

* Or piping hot fresh from the kbd, maybe.