So you’ve been called out to a stranded old early-generation Cruise Liner, running one of the only saleable routes not already monopolised by the newer, larger cruising companies, and whose groaning, dying FTL system has finally given up the ghost. Only to be expected, really; it probably should have never been retrofitted for Salient anyway. What complicates things is that there’s a tight deadline for getting the guests back to the terminal, and without an FTL drive, that’s a deadline that’ll be missed by several hundred thousand years.
So, pushed for time, Thom undertakes an FTL hack that someone much smarter than him had told him about once: you can “tow” another ship in the wake of your own ship’s FTL by moving the two vessels close together and overdriving your own FTL drive, expanding the area of effect to take into account the ship you wish to tow. Fire up your FTL, head to your destination, and you’ll bring the other ship with you.
Dangerous? Yes. Stupid? Very extremely definitely yes.
Thom is a lot of things–a nice enough guy, if tired and depressed, and someone who, deep down, really does want to help people, and do a good job of it. But one thing he is not is an expert in Faster-than-Light physics. Certainly not enough of one to consider all of the unintended consequences of a plan like this. And, under extreme pressure, with customers and their customers shouting at him, he’s even less likely to think through the practical permutations of an idea that, right then, seemed like it’d immediately short-circuit the problem to its solution.
With the clock ticking, and staring down the barrel of a huge salary sanction for failing to get a REZQ operation done in the target time, Thom, like most people in his situation, would be willing to try almost anything, without a serious consideration of how it could go wrong. So he didn’t realise that this kind of thing only works if the vessel being towed is of relatively modest mass and dimensions (certainly more modest than the ship doing the towing). And thus that the FTL area of effect for a ship like Angel Fish, while large, is not enough to pull a whole Cruise Liner with it.
Just…part of it.
And it didn’t even end up in the correct destination the additional mass must have thrown off the chaos calculations. Jumping into a low orbit around some planet or other, the ripped-off chunk of the ship he’d taken with him had soon fallen to the ground like a brick. Only the thick atmosphere and low gravity saved him.
Did anyone die? Who’s responsible? Who’s gonna be sued? Who’s gonna end up in a Debtors’ Colony? The “captain” of the cruise liner (more of a caretaker than anything, though he did have a nice hat) sanctioned the plan. Thing is, Thom’s now so far from a signal that it’s not something he’s going to be able to find out in a hurry. So he’ll worry about what’s going to happen to his Running Balance later. Right now he has to figure out how the hell to get off this planet.