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I used to Dream Chapter (cover art)

Chapter 19 - I used to Dream[]

Kowloon System
Lyran Commonwealth

[Perspective of Patrick Ngo...] "TRANSPONDER!!!"

"Who is it?" what the ****** happened?

"Code''s the Mila sir!"

I straighten up, "Get TUGS ON THAT SHIP!! Search and Rescue to stations!!"

Her velocity's high, it's going to be a hard interception.

[Situational Overview]

The wreck of the Mila Weintraub isn't accelerating anymore but, she's moving fast.  Mining pinnaces from half a dozen Rockjakkah coops are converging on hard thrust, with grapple launchers armed.

It's catching a comet.  In this case, a comet aimed at Cheshire, a rocky body roughly the size of mercury orbiting between Boojum and Kowloon itself.  Cheshire is staked by half the coops in the system and serves mainly as a common warren of burrows dug into the surface where processes that require stable gravity are done.

It's tense as pinnace after pinnace join the interception.  catch the wreck, snag it, slow it down.

Without destroying it further.

Tension mounts hour after hour as pips converge and grapples are launched.

They have to be careful, because it's only about five eighths of the cutter left, which means the whole thing is structurally compromised.

Pull too hard, and something will break off.  Pinnace 771 locked on the port engine nacelle pod, and started reversing thrust, only to have the engine mount tear free.

Pinnace velvet fist from the Nghien cooperative catches the aft weapons mount, and using their tentative grip, they send two mining men across, securing a comet-rig around the remains of the ship's midsection.

Pinnace Payday Strike XXI matches velocity, and contributes a securing line to one of the shipyard lockups starboard, then the miner who owns it, brought out a containment bag-a massive thing normally wrapped around a rock before it's shattered with nukes.  Then Pinnace Mike's Divorce 1 adds another line, and a second layer of bagging.

Other pinnaces join, because these are 5000 ton ships, trying to slow 75,000 tons to a stop without breaking it further.

Lover's Quarrel adds another forty kilometers of line and over the Coast Guard frequency, a countdown is begun.

Engines light in concert, slowly ramping up the deceleration, drawing the wreck along a different vector, one that will miss the planetoid if the lines break.

It's tense, the operation isn't something you normally see, though the Rockjack mining pilots know their business...

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