Excerpt: Atlantis Lost

I’ve gotten off to a slow start this month, but I still feel I can reach my writing goals for the summer. Anyhow, here is the opening scene from my novel, “Atlantis Lost”. Keep in mind, this is still just a first draft, and it will be edited later.

—–

Captain Peter Strang looked out the viewport as his shuttle came around Saturn from night to day. Below the shuttle, the rings glistened in the rising sun.

The shuttle pilot looked over at Captain Strang with a gleam in his eyes. At a node from the captain, he pushed the controls forward, diving into the midst of the rings. Both men laughed as the pilot deftly wove among the chunks of ice and rock.

“Titan Shuttle!”, the voice blared out of the comm system, “What in blazes do you think you’re doing?”

Red faced, the pilot keyed the comm button. “Sorry, Titan Base… just putting the ship through her paces.” He pulled back on the stick, bringing the ship up out of Saturn’s rings.

“Titan Shuttle, you are clear for approach on docking bay 94.”

“Roger that. Nav is locked on.”

He looked over at Captain Strang. “So, this is it, you’re getting command of your own starship today.”

“Yes I am. It shouldn’t be too much different than commanding a fighter squadron, except that more people are depending on me.”

The shuttle flew on, past shipyards where several ships were being repaired or constructed. They flew past one ship, so new that it didn’t even have a name. Captain Strang turned to the pilot. “So, do you think that will be my new ship?”

“I don’t know sir, I’m just a fighter pilot pressed into shuttle duty until the conflict starts.”

Captain Strang gazed out the viewport again. They were approaching the fleet’s main base orbiting the moon of Titan. Two battered old ships sat moored to the docking arms of the station, almost hidden in the shadow. He couldn’t see the names, but he recognized the profiles. The Atlantis and the Lemuria, the first two space battleships built by Fleet Command. “Those two ships out there, the Atlantis and Lemuria, those have got to be close to being mothballed, aren’t they.”

“I would think so. They’ve served fleet well, but they have to be at least a hundred years old. I think the Atlantis fired the first shot in the war.”

The comm beeped. “Titan Shuttle, we have you for final approach.” The shuttle shook slightly as the station’s tractor beams took hold of it, guiding it slowly into the docking bay.

“We’re here sir. Good luck on your first command.”

“Thank you. It looks like they’re waiting for me.” Pete Strang picked up his bags and walked off the shuttle, crossing the floor to the waiting shuttle cart.

NaNoWriMo 2015

Well, today kicks off National Novel Writing Month, and I’ve decided on my project for this year. I will be doing something different this year. For 2015, I’m writing Science Fiction instead of Fantasy. My working title will be “Atlantis Lost”. As usual, I am pantsing instead of plotting, so I have an idea where I’m starting, and where I’m going. It will be the usual adventure finding out how I get there. We’ll see where I am with the story at the end of the month.

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Forgotten Dreams, New Ideas

I’m sure it’s happened to all of  you. You wake up from a dream, and if you’re a writer, you reach for the notepad next to the bed to write it down. But as soon as you open your eyes, the dream slips away, leaving just a few random fragments. You feel that the dream would have made a great story, but you simply can’t remember what it was about, you can only remember a few bits and pieces, maybe a few images from the dream. That isn’t always a bad thing. Those seemingly unrelated images can spark a whole new story idea. This happened to me just last week. I woke up, thinking I would write down the dream and create a story around it, but all I could remember was two images… knights, and a car driving by. Even with just those two images, my mind started imagining a new story which probably had nothing to do with the dream. If this happens to you, don’t worry if you can’t remember the full dream. Take the images that you have, and put them together into a whole new story.

Flash Fiction Friday: We 7 Go On

This will be a new, and hopefully regular feature on this blog. Flash Fiction Friday. Every Friday, I’ll be posting a short story or poem. This week, I’m posting a short story called “We 7 Go On”. Enjoy.

The door wouldn’t open for some time, and I was scared. I wasn’t necessarily scared of what I would find outside this room. I just didn’t know if I was prepared for it.

Nervously, I paced back and forth while my new bride sat on the couch watching. I cast a glance towards the door. I imagined how our ancestors had once looked anxiously towards the door of the spaceship Cronus, as they landed on the surface of this world that they had named “Hestia”. It had not been an easy trip, and those that made it had been glad to find a home.

On the voyage here, a computer malfunction had shut down almost all of the life support. Hundreds of the people chosen to settle this planet had died within hours. Around one hundred settlers remained. They were woken from suspended animation to make a decision about the remainder of the voyage.

The report on the remaining life support was that the system could only sustain twenty people for the rest of the trip. The one hundred had to make a decision as to which twenty would go on. After removing the bodies of those who had died instantly, and placing them in the biorecycler, twenty were chosen to go back into suspended animation for the rest of the trip; the remaining settlers sacrificed themselves so that the twenty could go on.

Another disaster occurred when a meteorite impact struck the ship, destroying most of the cargo, including vital terraforming supplies. The ship limped on with the twenty colonists sleeping away for the rest of the journey.

Finally, the Cronus arrived at its destination. The ship landed on a dry, barren plain. The colonists were brought out of suspended animation, and discovered what had happened to the cargo. Very few supplies remained to them. They had only enough food for a few months and very few resources for transforming the hostile landscape into something more habitable.

They activated some of the robots that had survived the trip and sent them out to explore the land. The ones that returned reported that there was no sign of plants or animals for many miles in all directions. A decision had to be made.

With no terraforming supplies, no resources, and food running low, it was decided that some of the remaining colonists would have to sacrifice themselves in the biorecycling unit to produce enough supplies for at least a few to establish a home, and to survive.

Seven of the colonists were chosen to go on, while the other thirteen walked into the biorecycler, their bodies rendered into their component elements, and reconstituted as resources for growing food, and for making a habitable colony.

Parts of the ship were dismantled, and used to create shelter and tools. The seven remaining settlers set about creating a place to live and establishing themselves on this planet.

I looked out the window, looking out over the park. Across the park were the remains of the Cronus. The ship and the biorecyler had been turned into a memorial and shrine, honoring those who had sacrificed themselves so that the colony could survive.

A crowd had started to gather in the park. Some milled about nervously. Others stood by themselves, lost in thought. A bell tolled from a nearby tower. Many of the citizens in the park below turned towards the remains of the Cronus. As they made their way towards the memorial, the window turned opaque.

My wife started weeping, so I went across the room and sat down next to her, putting my arm around her. I felt some fear myself, but at the same time, a sense of hope. I imagined that the other two couples sequestered in rooms on either side of ours were going through the same thing.

After a while, my wife drifted off to sleep. I got up and paced the room, waiting. After a couple of hours, it seemed like days, the bell rang again. The room flooded with light as the window became clear again and the door opened. A robot stepped inside. “It’s time, sir.”

I took my wife’s hand as she rose from the couch and walked out the door. On either side, two other couples emerged from their rooms. A single male emerged from his room down the hall.

Silently the seven of us walked towards the building’s exit. The door opened, and we emerged into bright sunlight. The park and the streets were now deserted except for a few robots going about their duties.

I looked across the park towards the Cronus. Just as many of this world’s original colonists had done, thousands of people had walked into the biorecycling unit of the ship, sacrificing themselves in honor of those had gone before. They gave up their lives so that we 7 could go on.

#flashfictionfriday #scifi #scienceficton

Active Imagination: A Blessing or a Curse?

You would think that as a writer, an active imagination would be a good thing wouldn’t you? After all, this is where story ideas come from. In that respect, an active imagination is a good thing.

What if too many ideas flood your mind at the same time, though? When you have so many story ideas running through your head at the same time, it can be hard to know what project you should start working on next. It can be hard to stay focused on a work in progress when you have other story ideas jump to the front of your mind.

This happened to me a couple of weeks ago. I was looking at the story idea generators on Seventh Sanctum, and one of them jumped out at me. Seeing the possibilities for one particular idea, my mind started racing. I started seeing ways I could expand on the idea, and make it an original story. Then, while this idea was running through my head, another totally different story surfaced, a story based on nightmares and bad dreams.

When this happens, a dilemma comes up. Do I continue with my current work in progress? Do I choose one of the new stories and start on it? Do I attempt to work on several stories at once? Time will tell. What actually gets done, and what gets set aside for later? I’m sure more ideas will crop up while I’m working on these projects.

Off To A Slow Start

Well, it’s day 3 of NaNoWriMo, and I’m off to a slow start. I only have 467 words written so far, but it’s still early in the month. I still have plenty of time to catch up. For those of you that are interested, here’s the opening scene from “Upon A Midnight Dreary”.

——

Victoria Raven lay still. The rain was falling, running into her face, mixing with the blood running from several wounds on her face and neck.

She could still hear her attackers checking on other members of her family. She tried to avoid breathing, trying not to give away any sign that she still lived. As it was, she could feel the life leaving her body, drop by drop. She heard a pair of footsteps approaching.

She sensed one of her attackers looming over her, as another one approached. Something warm fell on her lips, the salty taste oozing into her mouth, she almost spit it out, but managed to keep from moving.

She heard a rough voice above her. “What happened to you Donovan? You’re bleeding.”

“Oh, one of those bastards pulled a knife on me. He pulled out a knife, I pulled out his throat.”

A pair of rough hands pulled the rings off of her fingers. More blood fell onto her lips as she struggled to remain still. A strange whooshing sound filled the air. The cold air seemed to grow even colder, as she sensed a new, chilling presence nearby.

A quiet, yet commanding voice filled the silence. “And what is this?”

“Lucius, we didn’t expect you here.”

“Obviously not.” The voice was cold, and full of contempt. “You know our rules. We do not murder in cold blood like this.”

“But they have been helping the Pinkertons. They’ve been opposing and hunting us. They’re doing their best to bring us down.”

“That does not excuse this sloppy execution, Donovan. We do not operate in the open like this.”

“No one is around, no one saw these murders, and none of them are left alive.”

She heard a slap. “Insolent fool! Listen. Do you hear the horses approaching? Pinkerton Detective Agency already has agents on their way. We do not need to give them any excuses to oppose the Baltimore Coven. Now, let us leave, before we are caught.”

More whooshing filled the air, and soon she could sense no one else around. In the distance she could hear the growing sound of hoofbeats. They built up to a thundering noise, stopping nearby.

There was shouting as the riders leapt from the horses, their footsteps muffled by the muddy ground.

“We missed them. Check to see if anyone survived this attack.”

“This one is gone. Check over there”

She heard footsteps approaching. Someone knelt down in the mud beside her, his hand going to her neck. “This one is still alive. Let’s get some help over here, quickly!” Strong yet gentle hands, started to raise her to a sitting position. She opened her eyes, a pair of cold grey eyes met hers. A shudder ran through her body as Victoria Raven breathed her last.

It’s Almost Time

So, here it is Halloween already. For many writers that means that NaNoWriMo starts in just a few hours. For those of you that don’t know, NaNoWriMo is a challenge to writers to write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November. Obviously, the point isn’t to have a polished and completed novel, but to have a first draft that you can work with, edit, and polish.

For this year’s challenge, I had planned to pick up where I left off last year, when I only got about 8,000 words or so written. But I was thinking and brainstorming, trying to come up with a backstory for one of the secondary characters, when I had the idea to expand her story into its own novel. So, instead of continuing last year’s project, I’ll be writing the story of Victoria Raven.

Unfortunately, I’ll be at work at midnight, when NaNoWriMo starts. Fortunately, I can bring my tablet, and start my writing during my breaks. Although I didn’t complete the challenge last year, I am determined to finish my novel this year. I’ll be posting my progress and excerpts as the month goes on.

Excerpt: Arrow Of Vengeance

I just thought I’d post an excerpt from my first novelette, “Arrow of Vengeance”. This is still the rough draft, and needs some editing, though.


 

The earth shook again. Several of the spectators in the stable yard lost their footing on the muddy ground, falling to their knees. The archer held his aim steady, waiting for the trembling to subside. As the shaking stopped, he took a deep breath and loosed his arrow. The arrow flew straight and true, striking the center of the target, next to the other three.

A cheer went up from the crowd, money exchanging hands. The archer turned to a large bearded man behind him. “Okay, there you have it. Four pints of ale, and I still managed to hit the target. Pay up.”

Grudgingly, the man counted out 5 silvers, but held on to it. “I’ll tell you what, Fletcher… Five pints, double or nothing.”

“Another pint won’t make any difference, Robert you’ll still lose your money, I always hit the target. But I’m done for the day.” Arthur Fletcher unstrung the bow, carefully placing it in its waterproof case.

“You’re not done until I have a chance to win my money back, Fletcher”, roared Robert. He placed a hand on Arthur’s shoulder, spinning him around. In a flash Robert found himself with his arm behind his back, his face against the rough, splintered wood of the stable, and a dagger to his throat.

“I told you, Robert. I’m done for the day. I didn’t spend years training in archery just to entertain you. I’ll remind you that I once saved this kingdom.”

“You’re nothing, Arthur. You were drummed out of the guard, and now you’re nothing but a drunk, performing for more drunks.”

“Maybe so. Maybe I am drunk, but you take a look at that wooden block across the yard. An arrow right on target even after four pints of ale. And I remind you, that I’m just as deadly with this dagger as I am with an arrow. I would suggest that you pay up, and get the hell out of here.”

He withdrew his dagger as Robert took the silver pieces, and threw them down into the mud. He turned and walked off, grumbling. Arthur watched him leave, then continued placing his bow into its case, then bending down to pick up the silver.