“They’ll have the lifts,” Edith said with difficulty, “by the end of the week.” She made an abortive move to help her daughter clamber off the ladder. Between Lina shrugging off her touch and her own shortness of breath, the attempt fell into the gap between them. Instead, she leant back against the wall and took a shot from her inhaler. When she had swallowed that down, Lina was standing on the gantry, toes at the edge, looking down at the belly of the ship. Like sea monkeys dwarfed within the carcass of a whale; the vast ribs of the superstructure were still visible in places, lit by the metallic blue of arc lights as a hundred engineers, fifty Awakened and half a thousand robots joined and sealed the bones of the Northern Bullet. The ark. An ark. One of sixty-seven vessels currently under construction on Earth, in orbit, on floating ocean dockyards, on the Moon, on Mars. Wherever humans could scrape together materials and people and precious expertise.

        The Northern Bullet. Edith’s baby. Or at least the baby who didn’t hate and resent her. She met Lina’s gaze where the girl rocked on her heels at the very edge of the gantry. “Careful” -- “yeah,” I noticed. When were they going to put in a safety rail?”

        “End of the week,” Edith said automatically. It was a work crew joke. Everything was always ‘end of the week,’ just don’t ask which week. She wanted to explain that to Lina, make her laugh at it like the crew did, at the deadlines, the hours, and the risk of injury. Because if you couldn’t laugh, what could you do?

        “This way.” Edith headed off. Her ears were full of the din of industrial work below, but her feet listened for the vibration of Lina following. She pictured the girl, shoulders slouched, hands in pockets. Dragged away from her friends because her mom insisted on hauling her around this corpse of a ship. Reverse corpse, she told herself. Decay played backwards, disarticulated parts into a whole. Life and hope for humanity’s future.

        Up ahead the fine detail crew were laying out the suspension racks, but that was for later. Here was curve-walled alcove ahead that would be an emergency locker, but right now was just skeletal scaffolding opening onto Edith’s own contribution. She snagged at Lina’s sleeve. “Look,” she said.




Chapter 1 That'll Do

Torrance, an engineer from the Ark ship, Tamerlaine, is stealing supplies and selling them on the black market right under the snout of an unlikely detective.

Chapter 2 Inheritance

Edith, a brilliant engineer working on an impossible deadline, struggles to reconnect with her teenage daughter before time runs out.

Chapter 3 Ninety-Nine Percent Workable

Jurgen Barrendown, billionaire financier of the Fortunate Son, hosts a party for his wealthy friends on the eve of the ark ship’s impending launch… but not everyone will be celebrating.

Chapter 4 Spares

Kendall's job as Chief Technician on the Abandoned Bride forces her to get creative in finding spare parts to keep the ship’s systems running.

Chapter 5 Green Worlds

The power died just as Evan calibrated the receivers, an increasingly time-consuming task given the deterioration of the Hammercross’s long-range communications gear. For a moment he sat there in the dark, listening. The hum of the ventilators was still audible. The blackout hadn’t cut off his air.

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