Niven Ring

“You got a problem with relativity, son?”


“Sir! The ring has become destabilized! She’s dipped 50 km down!”

“Already? Get me Morgenstross!”

“Right away!”

The functionary fiddles clumsily with his communicator, then slams it onto the desk, where it squawks, as if in protest. Over the radio, Morgenstross is shouting something. Slowly. Very slowly.

“I couldn’t pick it up directly, sir. I had to go through four relays around the ring. Four!”

“From a certain perspective, we’re racing into the future.”

“Quiet! I can’t hear!”

“. . .”

“Morgenstross! Enable emergency RCS in your segments! I can’t do it from here. Everything’s shot!”

Morgenstross continues shouting, his voice audibly lower and slower.

“Morgenstross, listen to me!”

“. . . I don’t think he can hear you, commander.”

“Then patch me through!”

“No; I mean, I think he cannot, because the time slip between here and lower is so high. Relative to us, he’s so far down the gravity well by now that our sectors are, from his perspective, racing into the future.”

“Speak English, cadet.”

“Time slows down for objects falling into black holes. The Niven ring is lost. We must get to the pods. We must also warn the people behind us in the ring before it’s too late.”

“. . .”

“And sir, we should hurry. Morgenstross was probably trying to do just that.”