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The Glow of a Worm inside a Child's Eye (Cover Art)

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Chapter 130 - The Glow of a Worm inside a Child's Eye[]

"Tabby...I have a question...


...about something that has been occurring to me." Elizabeth Ngo was supposed to be in her rest-period quarters. Instead, she was sitting in the 'crew galley' area, sipping clear tea from a drink bulb.

"What is it, Elizabeth?"

"Force equals mass times velocity, and power can be expressed as mass times acceleration, right?"

"Usually." the AI responded.

"And we know that asteroid strikes moving at certain speeds can be catastrophic to surface areas."

"Yes."

"Okay, so, imagine I take a fifty ton mass, set it out past the jump limit with a fuel tank and a simple. High-powered duration engine-like the main engines off of a shuttle, and I plot a vector that coincides with a point on the planet, assume three to six gees and around two weeks to a month..."

"Okay, you've designed a hell-weapon."

"Right, because of the speed that can potentially accrue." Liz nodded, "Now, let's say I line up five or six of them with a straight mathematical plot-say, aimed at a Brian Fort?"

"You'll drill through the fort into the mantle of most earthlike worlds, Liz. there wouldn't be anything left to salvage or capture. Secondary effects would be significant as well, since you just made a super-volcano."

"So you're saying it would work?"

"Oh yes, it would also be a horrible crime. Liz, this is a strategic first-strike weapon that would have be launched in secrecy unless it's aimed at an immobile, urban population-which would violate most of the laws of war and every concept of human decency. The most complex part of any plan like this, would be calculating the timing and the courses to intercept perpendicular to the surface...I would suggest either a smaller mass, or a shorter run-up, or lower acceleration curve, a range of only two or three AU would give a much less catastrophic outcome for the planet in question, while still destroying the Fortress, and it would be easier to manage and harder for the targets to react to, unless they knew ahead of time what was coming-even then, interception would be their only chance of stopping it, and interception would be..problematic if you used inert warheads with no guidance mechanism and nothing but solid matter for the payload."

"Huh...so it would work."

"Elizabeth Ngo! Just because you can do something does not mean you Should do it!"

"So how do we counter it?" Liz asked sweetly, "I thought of it, means someone else has or will...so how do we design the counter?"

"Is that what's keeping you up tonight?"

"Uh, yeah." Liz admitted.

"Sleep on it. You've been awake for thirty hours, we still have forty eight to go before the core and batteries finish charging. Sleep, and let your mind wander through it, instead of trying to flog answers while sleep-deprived."


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