Archive | talking about writing RSS feed for this section

Fear

25 Nov

I guess I’m having post-publication depression here, or something.

If all the things Kristine Kathryn Rusch and the others who blog about self-publishing, and the problems of legacy publishing for midlisters and beginners are true, going with legacy publishing is not necessarily a good choice, especially if you are a beginner. First, getting accepted can take years, then if you do get there the contracts can be bad, possibly very bad, there is no guarantee the end result, the published book or story in a magazine, will be all that much better than it will be if you self-publish – well, nicer cover or illustration if it’s a magazine story which has those, probably, but editing will not necessarily be any better. Most likely no money spend on advertising. And a beginner, or a midlister, does not have that much to bargain with in order to get a better contract since there are always lots of writers for the big publishers to choose from.

But the idea of being accepted by a publisher does have one big draw: if a publisher accepts you, you already have one sort of validation. They chose you from the throng of hopefuls, and they are willing to spend money on your story so they must think it is pretty good, or at least good enough, and since they are the professionals they should know, right? So even if you are then told the story sucks you could always counter with the fact that it was bought by a publisher. And if a professional thought it good enough it can’t be that bad, right?

But doing this the way I’m doing it is scary. I have no idea if I’m good enough a writer. It’s quite possible I’m not. Or I might be one of those sorta kinda almost but not quite there. Or maybe I can hit it sometimes and nevertheless completely miss other times. Or even if I am good, that still is no guarantee I can become somebody who sells. I do have some faith in the idea that cream will get to the top, with time, but while I think that is probably true in general, I don’t think that means that it is guaranteed when we are talking about some single writer, there is still always an element of luck involved. And it is probably also becoming harder with time, a few years ago there was much less competition that there is now, and when we go a few years into the future, well, it will be even harder to get noticed from the mass. Even for those who really are good. And if you are just one of those sorta kinda not that bad ones…

And then there is the question of what exactly is good enough. You know the Bulwer-Lytton fiction contest? The man of the ‘It was a dark and stormy night’ fame? He was a bestselling author in his time. Now he is a joke, partly because his particular style of writing got old-fashioned. That has happened to a lot of writers. And perhaps it can happen the other way around too, you just write wrong for that particular time and place, except when it comes to fiction the ones who did that rarely get validated by later generations as visual artists sometimes can be. Not that many people bother to try reading old books, much less some dusty manuscripts, while a painting can capture your interest with just a glance.

And yet, even the lousiest storyteller will still probably find at least a few fans, if she can get enough people to try her stories. She may even become something truly valued if only to one or two people because a particular story just happened to be what those readers needed right then. So, was writing those stories worth it then or not?

Yes. Legacy publishing sounds like a bad deal, the way it is now, at least if you are not somebody who has bargaining power – maybe somebody who has already become a bestseller as a self-published author, or who is famous through some other means. But I can understand the beginners who keep on trying to get published through that route, or only through that route, because if they accept you you have at least some reassurance that you are good enough, and maybe less likely to end up as one of the jokes. I guess that is what I’m most scared of. I think I can handle being made fun of if I also have readers who enjoy my stories, people have different tastes and those tastes also change with time, you can start to call something as truly good only if people keep enjoying it for several generations. But it would be painful to find out that all I can ever be is just that joke, one of the hopefuls who can never find all that many readers because she actually does suck pretty damn bad.

Yet, if I never try I will never find out. And what if I would have been good enough? Wasting your talents… okay, I’m not quite sure if it is a sin but it probably is at least a good contender for that.

Putting stuff out there, for anybody too see is scary. But I guess it’s one of those things that just has to be done, at least when you somebody like me, somebody for whom dreaming up stories is a compulsion I can’t get rid of so whether I write them down and/or publish them I am going to use time with them anyway. Maybe if I had something more useful to use that time for, so I could argue that I should keep the dreaming only as a way to relax but not waste time writing them… only I don’t have anything more important to do.

If you never try you are a sure failure. So I guess I will keep doing this even if I am a coward. But it can be difficult because I am a coward.

Well, it’s done

23 Nov

Chosen name: Escape from Tekmar. Cover, well, I’ll post a link tomorrow when it should show on Amazon.

Blurb (more or less, I wrote this but computer refused to play copy and paste, so I wrote it again, with a few different word choices):

When their ship develops a malfunction and has to land on the colony planet Tekmar for repairs all Rahan expects are a holiday, and being able to get away, for a few days, from the other member of their two man crew and his commanding officer who is confined to the ship due to the fact that his kind – a branch of humanity genetically engineered to the point they are now a separate species – are not well liked here.

Then he meets a pretty girl, and at first it seems like his holiday is going to be even more fun than he expected. Only the girl is not telling him everything, and next thing he knows he is a fugitive on a world where everyone might be an enemy.

And then Rahan finds himself solely responsible for something important, and important to him personally, for the first time in his life. It’s all up to him now.

And now I just worry about what will show on Amazon, and how many typos and wrong tenses and whatever I left on the manuscript. I did several line edits, including one on paper, but from previous experience there will still be plenty left.

And then I will start playing with the sequels. Fourth Sword first, tentatively named White Keeper. I got a pretty good idea of the plot, but as usual it will probably get new twists and tangles when I actually start writing it. Already a new character has poked his head in, and all I did was write a couple of short scenes.

Since writing is not going to go well during the next couple of months I will probably keep to jotting down a few scenes here and there, and a lot of daydreaming which I can do. I can’t build a whole working plot that way, but I can get a general impression of what is going to happen.

I also have a sequel to Escape thought up. It will introduce the two sisters of the family, and drop the foursome on a very hostile planet. No colony, this time. There may also be a love story for Ryn’s twin, there is this guy… we’ll see. Ryn and Rahan are going to get back on Tekmar too, Lida will be needing their help, but the scary planet adventure, and meeting the sisters, Dani and Cedra, and Dani’s new love who is perhaps going to have some problems fitting into their pack, that will come first because that guy is going to have some important stuff to do on Tekmar.

And yes, painting. First the new covers for the last three short stories which still have the photos on their covers, then just painting and drawing.

chapter 10

18 Nov

This is the last chapter I’m posting on the blog. I may be able to publish the novel on Amazon this week, I’m tentatively aiming for the 20th, and the two others will also start a free promo which will last until the 24th on that day. I’ll need to see how my final edits will go (or if I decide I will need to edit more).

So, next week perhaps more art, for a change, since at least right now the problems I have been having with my hand seem to be in control – it shakes, sometimes, but not so often and not so badly I can’t finish pieces. Or finish them well enough to keep them, I did draw during the last nine to ten months, and paint occasionally too but most of the resulting pieces went straight to trash. As I have said before the main problem seems to be with my shoulder, which got badly inflamed last spring, but while that was work related so it’s not completely sure it wont happen again, I can’t exactly stop working, maybe I can keep it at least from getting as bad as it did then. Last winter and spring I’m afraid I just kept hoping it would heal on its own, or go away if I ignored it, until it finally got bad enough that I needed cortisone injections, and even after that weeks of work before I started to get where I could again do fine motor tasks well with that hand. 🙂

Chapter Ten

It took them a while to get there, but when they did the fortress turned out to be quite impressive.

The flyers were hid in a natural cave outside the walls. Wide and just high enough that they could be flown in, very slow and very carefully. Rahan noted that. He was a good enough pilot, but with that parking place he would not be able to make any kind of fast exit. If he ran he’d have to make sure nobody was right at his heels when he got here.

The rebels didn’t seem to leave any guards in place. Not human ones anyway. But it was always possible there was something automated, or that somebody or several somebodies would come back here later.

The route from the cave to the fortress showed no marks of having been used previously. There were only a couple of large trees here, but plenty of young saplings, and it was bit of a fight to push through the thicket to the fallen gates of the huge building.

The fortress seemed to be made completely of stone, huge, smooth blocks fitted seamlessly together with no signs of mortar between them. Rahan gawked until he nearly tripped on a small bush, after which he concentrated more on his feet than on sightseeing.

“Lida, this was built soon after the colonists landed, wasn’t it?”

“Yes,” she said. “The stories tell of magic.”

“Yep, that’s what the construction robots are, pretty much. Or were. The ones in use now aren’t any more advanced than the ones these people had. Probably quite a bit less so.”

So much had been lost during the dark centuries. They still were in many ways much less advanced, technologically anyway, than their ancestors had been. The only magic uniquely belonging to their time was the FTL drive, their grav and stasis machines, all offsprings of the same scientific discovery.

There was a big courtyard, surrounded by massive walls with turrets on the corners and on both sides of the main gates. The living and working quarters, as well as storage, had probably been in the two keeps standing on both sides of that courtyard. There were also some smaller buildings there, less well constructed, made of much smaller stones and with the help of mortar, and in a more ruined state, looking kind of embarrassed standing in the shadows of the older and much superior versions. A new, smaller group of people met them when they got to a door leading in, and the people from the flyers started to disperse. A man, taller than most of the locals Rahan had seen so far, seemed to be in charge here.

So another group had gotten here first.

Lida didn’t seem to be particularly fond of of this new Maasvat leader, she just nodded curtly to him before turning to Rahan.

“I’ll take you to your room. It’s probably better if you stay there, I’ll see that everything you might need will be brought to you.”

Rahan glanced at her, but she seemed to be wholly concentrated on her feet and the ground just ahead. Here it was mostly covered in stone, with occasional tuffs of grass, some stray saplings and small bushes growing here and there, but the ancient paving was rather uneven and there were fallen stone blocks, from the newer buildings, here and there.

“So what am I, a prisoner or a guest?”

“It’s better, for both you and us, if you don’t know all that much about us.”

He was forced to admit that made sense.

***

The room she led him to was a bare cubicle of stone, with no windows. But there was a door. Old, made of thick, sturdy planks reinforced with steel bars.

And with a lock.

Old, mechanical one.

When Lida left she said somebody would be coming soon to bring him bedding, water for both a little washing and drinking, and some food. She also asked him to stay inside and wait.

As soon as she was out he went to the door to listen, then when the echoes of her steps had died down he slipped out.

The corridor was empty.

He spend a little examining the lock, then made a quick survey of the nearby rooms and the corridor. In one room there was a newer looking pile of trash in one corner. Rahan sorted through it and found some short lengths of rusted, thick wire, of which he pocketed a couple of pieces, plus a badly rusted but still serviceable knife. Well, it wasn’t sharp anymore, but he figured it would probably not snap under pressure, at least not immediately.

He secured it under the waist of his trousers, then returned to his room to wait.

***

The Ytjar program found the heat signatures of the two flyers and reported it to the human controllers. They eyeballed the bits available at first, then gave the data to another program in hopes that it might be able to find out what the actual destination of the flyers might have been.

No such luck. All they could get was the general area, and that was several tens of square klicks wide.

Their supervisor did get a permission to airborne surveillance of the area and four armed drones were launched. He would have needed about twice that number to have some sort of surety of getting results.

The man decided to send yet another request for a higher budget even though he was fairly sure that would lead to nothing – of it it did the end result would most likely be new personal flyers, or maybe vacations, to some higher ups. Or maybe some nice jewelry to their wives or mistresses.

But one needed to keep up appearances. If there was trouble due to unfulfilled duties he needed to be able to show that he had done his best.

***

A woman Rahan had not seen before brought him the bedding and food Lida had promised. He waited, obediently, until she had set them down and thanked her as she left and closed the door behind her.

He was not exactly surprised to hear the click of the key being turned in that lock.

The food was a loaf of drying bread and hard cheese, but at least the water was clear and there was plenty of it. Rahan contemplated them for a moment, a bit worried that the rebels might try to drug him to make sure he’d stay where he was supposed, then carefully tasted just a little bit of everything. When he still felt quite normal about half an hour later he ate and drank some more.

The sun was up by then.

Which time would be safer to do some sneaking around, day or night? Would he dare to wait until the next night?

Maybe not. The rebels had spend most of last night on the run. They had to be at least as tired as he himself was. They would probably sleep at least part of the day, and perhaps be more active again during the night. Dark would not offer much of a cover from the Ytjar, or from the police, but at least it mostly eliminated the risk of being seen by some ordinary citizen who might then alert the authorities.

The peons of this planet might not like their overlords, but in this type of systems the ones who squealed about suspicious people or activities – much less gave them people who really were up to no good, from the lords’ point of view – tended to be well rewarded by their masters, so as long as peons could do that without being caught by their fellow peons the temptation would be great. And while this area was not permanently inhabited, he had gotten the impression that it was still used quite a bit – sometimes by people on the run, but also by hunters, loggers, people gathering berries or mushrooms or tending the half wild pigs the peons kept, and to great extent depended on for their meat…

Yes, day might really be more likely time for the rebels to rest, and for him to take a look around.

Rahan ate a little bit more but drank a lot on his third mini meal, then decided to risk a short nap, confident that he would be able to wake up after an hour or two. He was scared enough by now that his internal alarm clock should be well primed to go off when he wanted it to.

He profoundly regretted the fact that before landing he had spend a lot more time looking up potentially fun things to do close to the port rather than trying to get any kind of real overview of the local system and its parts, and how they worked. What kind of resources the officials had, what kind of surveillance systems, or weaponry, how many men, what the individual nobles might have access to… and it was highly likely that if he had really dug into those Corps databases the AI had onboard – which was most of the not secret ones – he might have even found some snippets of Lida’s Maasvat.

As it was he was forced to plan almost completely without any real information. Just lots of presumptions and guesses. Not good.

As he lay down on the makeshift bed he wondered what Ryn was right then doing

He really missed the big guy.

***

Rahan woke around midday. The room was getting a bit warm then, but when the picked the lock and opened the door he was met with a blast of heat which almost reminded him of the equatorial deserts of the larger continent on the Shemasharra home planet.

The clothes he had were not particularly well suited to this kind of weather, the cheap synthetic cloth did neither breathe nor let moisture through well, so after only a few minutes he was drenched, the fabric clinging to his skin in a most unpleasant manner.

After some thought he went back to his room, took off his garish orange tunic and used the knife he had picked up earlier to cut a hole in the very thin and nicely dark grey blanket he had been given.

Well, ‘cut’ was perhaps an exaggeration since the knife had no edge to cut with. But the point was still pointy enough that he managed to push it through the blanket on several spots, after which he could tear the fabric between those holes until he had a big enough a hole to fit his head through.

As a poncho the blanket was ugly, and still something too warm for today, but he hoped it might make him at least a little bit less visible as it was also long enough to cover the lime colored trousers nearly down to his knees. Not to mention covering his pale torso and arms – he had spend a lot of time outdoors during the previous months, but since he had been quite well covered in both UV proof clothing and sunblock during those times he didn’t have a tan worth mentioning. The best one could have said that he was pale rather than pasty white.

He wondered briefly what would happen if he ran into any of the rebels, then shrugged. Most likely they would just drag him back here. If not… by now he doubted he would gain anything by being nice and obedient to them.

The first thing he did was to check rest of the floor he was in, but the rooms and corridors of the place were empty, empty of people and empty of anything potentially useful. So next he headed towards the ground floors. His room was on the third floor of the smaller keep. He figured the rebels would be inside the same building, most of them anyway, when Lida had been bringing him here he had seen a couple of men carrying things in.

Possibly ground floor.

The place was eerily quiet. Only thing he heard was the slight sound of the gentle wind from the outside. No birds sang, no rodents flitted across the floor anywhere.

And no humans.

Rahan reached the ground floor and found himself in a larger, long and narrow hallway about two stories high, with lots of mostly doorless doorways dotting the walls – some up the wall on the level of what would have been the second floor which meant there had originally been a floor there, made of something which had since either decayed to the point that there was nothing left, or maybe been reused for something else.

He turned towards the direction he thought the main gate was in. He’d need to find the door which led out. The stairs he had taken down were not the same ones Lida had used when she had led him to the room. He had thought he’d have a better chance not to be discovered if he used the other staircase he had found. Only now he was somewhat confused over exactly where he was in relation to what he had seen on the way in.

When he was about halfway through he heard a slight sound coming from a narrow side corridor.

Snores?

Some more sneaking and he found a room where five men were sleeping.

The guns tempted him for a moment, but right now he was still unsure as to what would be his best course – was he going to run now, or still wait a little while to see how things might develop – so he didn’t try to steal any of them.

The other rebels were probably somewhere close.

Once he got out he noticed a small twisting corridor running next to what he thought might be the outer wall – it was not straight, but neither had the outer walls of the keep been when he had seen them from the outside – and took it. The outer wall guess turned out to be right when he first found a few very narrow window holes opening to the courtyard, and then a door – not just a doorway, the door was there too, and in relatively good condition – and, when he tried it, it opened into the courtyard.

And at the same moment he heard the sounds of fast approaching conversation. Two people talking in that corridor, just around the corner.

There was no place to hide. Except outside.

***

This part of the courtyard was a mess. It seemed there had been a lot newer, small building – or possibly buildings – made most of brick here once, and it or they had fallen almost completely apart with time so there were a few low walls and a whole lot of fallen masonry, some as piles including some more intact bricks and as a harsh gravel formed from the disintegrated bricks and occasional larger pieces, and as the the brick gravel which covered most of the ground between them.

Rahan ran to a slightly higher nearby wall and crouched behind it as the speakers got to the window holes and approached the door. He hoped they hadn’t heard his steps on the gravel. He had not been exactly noiseless.

But they, whoever they were, seemed to be too absorbed in their discussion to have noticed anything.

When they got closer Rahan started to make out some snatches of the discussion. Something about a ship coming.

Had they been honest to him after all, and were now talking about his ship?

He could hear their voices clearly when they passed one of the windows, but between them their conversation was just noise. Both speakers seemed to be men, and he thought he maybe recognized one of the voices as one of the men who had met them on the courtyard, the one who had seemed to be as much in charge as Lida was. What had been that name he had heard… Kerrin? The other was unknown, but they were speaking in Kinagt, which might mean he was also an offworlder.

Something about a…

The rebels meant to sell something? Something illegal and highly valuable.
To an offworld buyer. The probable offworlder mentioned something about… his boss? Who was going to land somewhere near here in their ship. The next word he heard well enough to be sure of it was ‘the jumper’, a word often used of ships which had the FTL drive.
Some sort of… container? Cold. Rahan was sure one of the used words was something about cold.
A cellar. In a cellar?
Here?
It kind of sounded like that. Something in a container of some sort stored in a cellar. Either a container which needed to stay cold, or a contained which needed to be kept in cold. Here, somewhere in this old fortress.

Then they were gone.

***

The sun beat on Rahan, making him uncomfortably hot underneath the makeshift poncho and most probably burning the exposed parts of his skin while he sat behind the wall and thought.

He had a bad feeling about that snatch of a conversation.

Now where would a cellar, or cellars, be in this place… Close to the kitchens, maybe? Or did ‘a cellar’ mean something like a dungeon rather than food storage…?

He looked at the buildings around him.

The original keeps or the newer ones?

Originals. They were much better build. If the rebels were using this cellar for storage it was probably in good enough shape that they didn’t worry it might collapse on top of them, or this valuable merchandise.

Would the entrance be inside, or outside?

He would not be able to figure this out while sitting here.

Rahan got up and peered at the keep he had been in. He’d just have to start looking. It perhaps raised the risk he’d be caught by them… well, he’d just play clueless and spin. Some pressing need had made him force the lock open, maybe he had gotten thirsty, or had needed to relieve himself – that might be a good one, nobody had provided him with a bucket this time, and anything left in a corner in a small room like that would have started to stink in no time in this weather – something, anything which would keep them thinking he was maybe still not suspecting anything. Spin, appear sincere and friendly and wounded, deeply wounded by the fact that they had locked him in, ask nicely not to be imprisoned again and who knew, maybe they wouldn’t – well, one could hope – or at least the might still stay less than completely vigilant and he’d still get a chance to run.

Try to make them believe he was stupid. Shouldn’t be that hard. He had walked right into this – whatever this was – like a lamb to a slaughter, hadn’t he? Just because the girl was pretty…

By now he was quite sure he’d better run. Maybe he still was not completely sure that the rebels were up to no good towards him, but he had enough doubts that taking the risk of trusting them any further seemed rather foolhardy. Trust your instincts. That’s what the Shemasharra he knew were always telling him. That if he thought the people he was dealing with were concealing something from him, he was probably right.

And now he had finally figured out one potential reason these people might have had for kidnapping him. A reason he very, very much hoped he was completely wrong about, because if he was right he was in the middle of a nightmare.

Now, realistically speaking it was a very unlikely potential reason. It was the stuff of sensations, a subject most only ever saw in over the top action, or sometimes weepy drama type of stories told in games or vids or novels, meant to entertain rather than to tell anything more than marginally related to reality. Something most people assumed was just a good, scary fairy tale.

The problem was that those stories were based on something that actually did exist. Perhaps not in the more civilized parts of space, and it was something rare even in the frontier, but still, something that did exist and was a big, lucrative business to a very small portion of human criminals.

And Tekmar was not exactly in the center of civilization.

So no matter how far fetched his guess might be, the problem this presented to him was that now he had to find that… container before he ran.

Find it and see what was in it.

Escape on somewhere, sample chapter 7

10 Nov

I’m still vacillating when it comes to the name of the planet. Rudanos I like, but now I started thinking about the fact that the main character is named Rahan, and the Shemasharra guy is called Ryn, and that may be too many names starting with R in one story. Rahan and Ryn are, hopefully, just different enough that they won’t confuse anybody, but maybe I should use something different for the planet after all.

So, back to the mythology books. Well, this time I looked at older Greek deities, and found a goddess called Tekmar. Seems to have been the lady of limits and end of lives. Scary. Well, the planet is supposed to be dangerous (or rather the people there) so… maybe. I will think about this for a few days.

Chapter Seven

Ryn had known the police would be coming sooner or later. The AI had informed him that the Ytjar had identified their male suspect as one of the offworlders from one of the five ships currently sitting on their single starport. The men outside the hatch were, however, members of the regular police. Not that surprising though, the Ytjar had jurisdiction over the regular police, and could use them to do their dirty work when necessary.

“Should I open the hatch?” the AI inquired.

“Yes. If they require me to go with them I will. Keep tabs of all the information you can get at.” Ryn wasn’t particularly worried about his own safety. These people presumably knew what he was. But they had no experience dealing with people like him.

And if he saw people who knew something face to face he’d find out what that person knew. That might give him the lead which would help him to start unravelling this whole tangled ball of yarn. Information was what he needed most of all right now. He would not be able to act until he knew at least something.

It would be still be over a week before the ship would be able to make a jump safely – provided the police would not prevent the repair shop from fulfilling their contract – but it would be able to get into space. If he got Rahan back they could either risk a jump, or hide somewhere in the system and wait for help to arrive.

But he needed to find the boy first.

***

The headache was the first thing Rahan noticed.

The next one was that he was lying down, but not on the floor, on something at least a touch softer.

He spend a few moments listening before he finally opened his eyes. It was fairly quiet, there were some sounds of the kind of traffic you’ll hear in any larger town or city but they were muted, and he heard nothing indicating anyone was there – wherever there was – with him. Something which got confirmed when he did look around.

A bare room, with walls, floor and a slanted ceiling consisting of raw, rather new looking planks. One window, small and closed. The bed he was on, one shaky looking small table, three chairs, one of which was missing a leg. One closed door.

“Looks like I have come up in the world,” he muttered to himself. “From the cellar to the attic. Yee. Lets celebrate.”

He felt slightly dizzy when he sat up, and needed to rest a bit before he dared to stand up. Had he conked his head when he fell? The knock-out gasses or liquids which could be used as an aerosol, the few he knew about, shouldn’t have affected him like this.

But none of them should have made him pass out for more than a few minutes either. Presumably he had been given something after the initial attack.

It was full daylight behind the small window. Rahan walked to it, shuffling his feet a bit, and saw a scene consisting mostly of rooftops, and some higher buildings in the horizon, plus a blue sky with a few fluffy white clouds sailing across it.

Yep, attic.

How high an attic was one question. How well guarded was a different one. Was he a prisoner or a guest?

And ‘where’ was the third. The scene didn’t look like the more sparsely built area – and those buildings had been lower than these seemed to be, and there had been trees – where the building with the cellar had been.

He could not see to the ground from the window, and he could not open it for a better look either.

Should he break it? The glass seemed thick, but he doubted it was nothing more than ordinary window glass.

Next he tried the door, but it was every bit as locked as he had assumed it would be. Rahan spend some time examining the hinges and the lock of the door, but then retired back to the cot.

He needed information.

Food and drink might be nice too. Not to mention toilet…

He settled down to wait.

***

It took maybe an hour, but then he heard a key being used in the lock, and the door opened. The first person who came in was a woman, but not Lida. Her face was almost completely covered with a bright lime colored scarf, and she was carrying a tray with some bowls and a tall glass on it.

After her a man came in. He was sporting a scarf too, only his was black, and instead of a tray with food and drink he had some sort of rifle with him. Rahan peered at it but could not make out much, the make was unfamiliar. All he could tell that it was of the type which used ammo, not an energy weapon.

“Eat and drink. Your friend will come soon. She will tell you what you need to know,” the man said while the woman put the tray on the table  and then left.

“Okay. Any chance of a toilet visit?”

The man shook his head, then yelled something in an unknown language, without taking his eyes off Rahan.

After a moment the woman came back in carrying a plastic bucket and a roll of toilet paper. She put it against the wall and left again, and this time the man followed her.

“Okay, I guess that will do.”

The armed man had seemed fairly professional. No openings. Except for the fact that Rahan could have attacked the unarmed woman who came in first.

He wasn’t sure what to make of that. If anything.

***

He had just finished eating when Lida finally came in. This time the guard didn’t step in, but Rahan thought he heard him, just outside the door.

Lida was dressed differently than before. The generic look was still similar, bright pastels, a tunic and trousers, but it had, before, seemed like an upscale imitation of what the lower classes here wore, now the cloth was the cheap synthetic and her leather boots had been changed for the cloth slippers used by the all the poorer people here. And her hair had been straightened and dyed black when it had been dark brown and curly before.

“So… how about some explanations?” he asked.

“Yes, I guess I owe you that,” Lida said and blushed lightly.

Rahan got up from the chair and walked to the cot, then slopped on it and crossed his arms. She took the chair he had been using and brought it next to the cot, then turned it around and sat down, resting her arms on the its back, and sighed.

“Sorry I got you involved in this mess.”

“And what mess would that be, precisely?”

Lida looked at her hands for a moment, then said slowly:” You know the system we have here?”

He nodded.

“Okay. It’s kind of… well, it’s just not right, is it? The peons are practically slaves, and it’s almost impossible for anyone born into that class to rise out of it. They have no power, and they are permanently poor, and…”

“I get it. Let me guess, you want to change things?”

She glanced at him and went back to studying her hands. They looked a bit different now too. There was ingrained grime on her palms and underneath her now short fingernails. Whoever had designed her disguise was either experienced, or smart.

“Yes,” she said quietly. “Anything wrong with that?”

“Nothing. A lot. Depends on how you are going about it.”

“We have secret schools for the peons, and we distribute medicines and have hidden autodocs, and we are trying to organize them so that when there finally is an election maybe we can keep it honest…”

“Does sound recommendable,” Rahan said while studying her face.

Was she being honest? The man with the gun had seemed pretty experienced too. Considering what little he had learned about this planet Lida’s organization would need to know how to deal with violence, but how much violence were they willing to use? Underground teachers, rebels or terrorists?

And would she know?

“You are a noble yourself?” he then asked.

Lida nodded. “I wanted to do something. My parents are… not bad, but they are unwilling to disturb the status quo because they are scared of the consequences. But I wanted to do something. That friend I talked about…”

“The one who died?”

She nodded again. “Yes, she was in before me.

“And it’s possible her flyer accident wasn’t an accident. The Ytjar… they can play ugly.”

“Why did they jump you? Have they found out about you?”

“One of those men had maybe seen me when they almost caught up with one of our med shipments two months ago, or possibly there was a cam I didn’t notice, and they have images of me now. I really am going offplanet, and that’s the main reason. So, he recognized me, anyway, and since it was away from the nobles’ compounds – I am still safe there, a lot of the nobles are not all that involved in politics, and the Ytjar do not want to cause any alarms among them. And I’m not the only child of the Families who is involved either and many of the parents kind of turn a blind eye to us, and while they might let it slide if any of us get caught here, as long as the sentence wasn’t too harsh anyway, they would definitely get angry if their own area was disturbed. I guess the elders kind of see it as a phase most of us will outgrow, or something. We do suspect that if one of us becomes too much trouble in the opinion of the Ytjar – and if the High Lords approve – there may be an ‘accident’, there have been some suspicious ones, although they probably are very careful about doing those.

“So, to repeat, I’m personally not in that much danger, probably, even if I get caught outside our compounds I will just have to sit in a slammer for a while but it’s unlikely they will otherwise do any more than make my parents pay for me, and that they can easily afford. And my family is… pretty well connected… an accident, like the one that happened to Becca, is unlikely. Becca’s family is pretty low tier. They had no resources the Ytjar would have needed to worry about. If it was arranged it was well done too, it really could have been just an accident. It’s just that there have been more of those lately than there should have been if they were all just real accidents. And unless the family pays for a private investigation there is no way to tell which are real ones and which have, maybe, been arranged. Mine definitely would if anything happened to me. So I don’t worry too much about this.

“But you… if they catch you it could be worse. You are Corps, but they don’t respect the Corps all that much here.”

“They should,” Rahan said drily. “So what now, then?”

“You can’t go back to the ship. The landing field is too well guarded, you would not be able to get inside. But once your ship has been fixed – it’s not likely they will try to interfere with that, the nobles do want more ships to visit and any rumors of that kind of trouble would be bad to the port’s reputation. It’s one thing if a crew member gets arrested for a crime, another if the police then go after his ship when there is no real proof that the rest of its crew was involved, so no, they will not do anything like that, your ship will get fixed. And once it has been – it can land anywhere, right?”

“That ship is Survey. Yeah, it can land anywhere.”

“Well, your shipmate -”

“The captain. He is my commanding officer, and captain of that ship.”

“Your captain can then take off and pick you up from the country, right?”

“What kind of planetary defenses do you have here?”

“Hardly anything, just some robots and a pretty lousy missile system. They will know what happened though, the surveillance is good enough, and they may send something after the ship, but it won’t be anything particularly dangerous, and your ships, the Corps ships, they do have good combat preparedness too, right?”

“Yes. Very.”

“Okay. What we have planned is this: we will sneak you out of the city, and get word where to find you to your captain. He will take off once the ship is ready and make a slight detour, pick you up, and you will be good and gone.”

Rahan frowned. “Are you sure you can’t get me in contact with my ship now? You do have encrypted communications between yourselves? It should not be that hard to call the ship.”

Lida shook her head. “Our leaders don’t want to. You lost your com, and we can’t go back there to look for it. We have eavesdropped on the police net, and you have been identified. Which means any communications through the local channels to and from your ship will be very closely monitored now, and we are not that much better than they are, we operate mostly on the strength of trying to be where they are not right then looking. The plan was to send the information on an actual letter, you know, paper?” she said and grinned a bit, “We do have some friends in a couple of the cleaning crews which work on the field, one of them could hand deliver it. When the time is right. But that might take days.

“So, I’d really recommend that you go with our plan. Your captain will have to worry for a couple of days, but the Ytjar vigilance will surely slacken after a short while, and then we can tell him. And getting you from the country with the ship would be a lot easier than trying to get you into the ship while it’s still in that field. And it’s a lot safer there too, the Ytjar and the police are most active here in the city. So how about it?”

Well, it did sound like a reasonably good plan. If everything she had told him was true.

Did he trust her?

He wasn’t… quite sure. But he wanted to. And the alternatives he had weren’t good. No, he would probably not be able to sneak back to the ship, not easily, the port was well guarded. And even if he could and the ship had not been fixed… well, they could jump, but it would be risky, and he wasn’t sure if that was an acceptable risk, or whether Ryn would think it was. One alternative of course was for him to hide somewhere on his own and try sneaking back when the repairs had been done, but he didn’t know much of anything about the planet so hiding here for days might be difficult for him without help. And he knew nobody here but Lida.

He decided to trust the girl. For now.

But he would keep his eyes open.

***

Ryn had been sitting in the police station for several hours now.

They were trying to make him nervous. Mostly he was slightly amused. They knew what he was, but since they only had theoretical knowledge of his abilities they didn’t quite believe in them.

If he wanted out of here he would get out of here. The only complication was that it would probably require killing quite a few of these people, but killing  people like most of these seemed to be was not something he had any personal problems with. And his own superiors –  if there seemed to be any justifiable reason to suspect that his life or well-being might be in danger, or even if he was only detained but feared for the life or well-being of his crew, that being one idiot cadet, so he had to get out in order to go after and try to rescue said cadet – they would probably approve.

Even the human ones.

But as long as there seemed to be no pressing need to get out he would not risk harming them. He might not give a damn about them but he preferred things clean and ordered. Doing something which would, no doubt, be seen as inappropriate behavior by at least some human groups would not be be that.

He yawned and settled more comfortably. He was sitting on the floor of the interrogation cell, leaning against the wall. There were chairs in here, two of them, on both sides of the table, but they were not very comfortable, especially not to somebody his size.

He could wait. It would be interesting to see how long the local police would.

Escape on Rudanos, sample chapter 6 (heh)

7 Nov

I just wrote the last chapter, so the next job is editing. I will maybe wait a little, at least a few days, before I start going through the whole story again. Fresh eyes and all that. It might be best if I waited several weeks, but I really want to publish this now, not wait until spring, and it is getting dark here now, I don’t know how much longer I can concentrate well enough to be able to do this (SAD, bad version, for those of you who may be new here).

Now I don’t know how smart this is, it would perhaps be better to strive for the best possible product. On the other hand one of my problems is perfectionism, if I start thinking in terms of ‘perfect’, or even ‘best possible’, it might take me years to get even a single novel out. And volume matters in self publishing. It’s hard enough as it is to get any visibility in the crowded marketplace, whether that is just Amazon, or all the possible ones, and since I have nothing else but my stories – no noticeable blog following, no noticeable presence online anywhere else, no twitter account, no facebook one either (yet, but I’m planning to go there), and no damn money to pay for advertising – well, maybe it really would be smart just to try and get as many novels as possible out as fast as possible. Some will be better, some worse, but I think even uneven but voluminous output with some good novels in it, and some slightly less good, and maybe a few bad ones (so lets hope the percentages really will be those, more good than bad in them) might be better than few maybe slightly better ones coming out now and then, with very long quiet spells between them. Lets say I’m aiming towards becoming one of the go to names for people who want the book equivalent of something like McDonalds meals – no great culinary experiences, maybe, but cheap, fairly reliable and easy to find fare with which they pretty much know what they are getting. Well, not that I except to become anything as successful as that brand…

And if I want to get there, I guess becoming somebody who publishes new stuff in a fairly reliable schedule might be a rather big selling point. And volume. Having lots of novels for the buyer to choose from, and then, if they liked their first purchase they will be able to pick several others before they start to run out of things to read.

 

Chapter 6

They had ran for a while, then slowed down to a walk.

The streets were becoming quiet now. The sun had set, and streetlights were completely missing on several of the side streets, and sparsely spaced on the main thoroughfares which maybe explained part of the lack of people, nobody likes to stumble around in the dark, but Rahan suspected some of it was the area itself – he had thought the route to the restaurant had looked disreputable, but this was far worse.

Lida seemed to know where she was going. They had dodged into side alleys a couple of times when they had seen more official looking vehicles in the distance, and once hid in a small thicket of young trees growing on an abandoned lot, wrapped into each other and simulating the movements of an sexual act while a flyer had, for a few moments, lingered in the vicinity, but either it had not been looking for them or their playacting had convinced whoever had been manning the heat viewer that they were not the refugees but just some random couple overcome by their need for some instant nookie in the warm evening.

If he had not been so nervous it would have been quite pleasant. Even as it had been Rahan had needed to use some mind control methods he had been taught in order not to embarrass himself, or his partner.

He was fairly sure nothing like that was going to happen for real, not now. Which was a pity. But now one of his main concerns was getting out of this mess without totally compromising his chances of graduating.

Staying alive, unhurt and free, and making sure Lida did as well, were even higher on his list.

“We are close,” Lida said.

“The safe house you mentioned?”

“Yes.”

“I’m not going to ask anything until we are safely hidden. But I think I deserve some explanations after that.”

She gave him a sideways glance but didn’t answer anything.

What the hell had he gotten involved in? Lida was not just some innocent aspiring student looking for offworld information, she was involved in something shady right here on this planet.

Which of course might explain her need to get off it.

***

A ping from the AI told Ryn that the search was finished.

“What have you found?”

“Ytjar net. An alert for reinforcements near a restaurant called ‘The White Room’. The description of the male perp matches cadet Rahan Kendal.”

“Go on.”

“A female suspect was seen leaving the restaurant through a back door. Three agents went to talk to her – this seems to be some sort of euphemism, possibly meaning arrest, or at least roughing up – and she tried to flee. There was a fight, and the male suspect exited the restaurant, also through the back door, and attacked the agents.”

“And the Ytjar lost the fight?”

“Yes. The suspects are still on the loose.”

“Well well well… glad he has learned at least something.”

The AI didn’t comment.

“I’m going to play this by the book. Hide a message in the next bundle being send out through the main Startalk station. Both to the clan contacts and my immediate supervisor in the Corps.”

“Done. They will go out five days from now.”

Ryn growled. A lot could happen in five days. And nobody would get here until several days after that, if that. Depended on where the closest ships able to respond were right now, and how close they were to well funded Startalk stations. Ones which could afford to make contact often.

Not likely there would be any ships large enough to have their own station anywhere close. Startalk took nearly as much power as a ship jump. Mostly it made more sense to use ships because then you could transfer more than just information at the same time. Only the largest warships and most exclusive large transports had stations onboard.

And when it came to what he could do here, himself, Ryn knew he would not be able to do much outside the ship, at least not well. He stood out too much, looked like a Shemasharra too much, and the locals were, according to the data, actively hostile towards suspected non-humans. Or artificial humans, which seemed to be the preferred term on this planet.

“There is something else you need to know. I am not the only one infiltrating the Ytjar net. There are six or seven spies I am able to see in it. Also in the regular police net. Do you want me to trace them?”

“Figures. Separate sources or connected?”

“Some of the programs display similarities. Possibly three or four sources, but at least two of them are connected, either by having purchased the programs from the same source, or, if independently developed…”

“I get it. Trace them. Try not to let them notice you.”

“Yes sir.”

***

The house didn’t seem like something anybody would be living in. More like a warehouse with some office space.

“That door,” Lida said and pointed to one at the end of a short staircase leading down from the street level.

“Cellar? Nice.”

“We go in, but you will need to wait at the top of the stairs, right next to that door, until I have talked to the people down there.”

“Exactly what…”

“Not now. I will explain what I can later. But we don’t have the time now.”

Rahan sighed and nodded.

The wait was long. How long in real time he wasn’t quite sure since the only watch he used had been in the com, but way too long for his state of mind. But finally he heard her calling and started to descend.

The stairs were long and badly lighted. The lighting was even worse once he reached the low ceilinged room at the end of them. One filled to capacity with all kind of crates, some on the floor, some on shelving which turned the place into a maze.

“Lida?”

Rahan walked a little past several wooden crates piled on top of one another. There didn’t seem to be anybody here.

A sound from his left. He turned to look, only to be greeted by the sound and smell of some aerosol being sprayed on his face.

His last thought before he hit the floor was that Ryn was going to kill him for falling for such an easy trick.

 

 

Sample chapter 5

5 Nov

I’ve been thinking about the name for the novel. It’s a fairly simple adventure story. Strongest Ties fits, but is damn generic and does not tell much of the genre.

So, maybe I’ll stop trying to be clever and go old school: Escape on Rudanos?

If I’m going to use the name of the planet on the name of the novel the original idea for that, Madalait, might not be a good idea. This is supposed to be an adventure. Madalait… well, it kinda sounds more like a group of older ladies who gather together to knit once a week, or something, not anything which might bring in mind action, and danger, and an exiting and dangerous planet to get into trouble on.

So, I’ll dig out my mythology books and start looking for names. Rudianos is some Celtic god, and right now I no longer even remember what he is god of, but it sounded kind of… maybe rugged? Only a bit too long. So, lets drop the i. Rudanos.

I’ll use Madalait for some other planet, probably. That’s from Australian aboriginal mythology. Generally speaking mythology names might be good fit for planets which have no indigenous populace so the human colonists can pick and choose whatever they want since mythology names are rather a tradition, well, not that unlikely that would hold for quite a long time into the future too.

Chapter 5

Lida was having second thoughts.

She liked the offworlder. During the last days Rahan had been a perfect gentleman, unlike too many of the men she knew, in or out of the movement, and she liked that. He seemed kind, and smart, and he seemed to be rather smitten with her, which made her feel even more rotten about the way they were planning to use him. And even though he had professed no obvious liking for his shipmate she was getting the impression he felt responsibility, as a shipmate – that no matter what his personal feelings might be he would defend the Shemasharra as a matter of course.

And Rahan did seem to like the Shemasharra, as a group.

Even if they were not humans.

But she had no idea what to do about her feelings of doubt. Maybe, if she could have hinted something to Rahan, made him worry about the Ytjar, or the police, and stay inside their ship the rest of their forced stay, until the ship was repaired and they could leave… only she could think of no safe way to do that.

Do it wrong and her own might figure out that she had done it, and that might force her out of the movement, and she didn’t want that to happen. The movement… so maybe what they did, sometimes, was not quite… right, but what other means could they employ? There were no legal methods which worked.

And what they were doing was important. So very, very important.

And her friends were getting impatient. She would not be able to stretch this much longer before they would act, with her consent or without it.

Rahan would be all right. He’d never figure what had been going on, and would leave the planet. The Corps would come and investigate, probably, but they would not know who to interrogate, she’d stay in hiding when they were here – easy enough for her, with her family, vacation on some off the official maps luxury resort perhaps – and since they would not be able to use their Shemasharra here it would be just humans anyway. And humans could be fooled.

***

The walk through the city was mostly uneventful, if you didn’t count the revelations it gave to Rahan about the world he was on.

The girl had been right, the area around the port was not representative, not truly. Here, away from it, the differences between the haves and have-nots of this world were stark. For a while they walked through an area with walled houses and clean streets, and the flyers and ground vehicles in sight were new and shiny, if more old-fashioned looking models, and the people they saw were rather well dressed, their tunics, trousers and long skirts in most cases made of similar fabrics as those of Lida’s, with colors which imitated those of the cheaper ones more commonly worn by the people he had seen in the tourist district, but of better quality otherwise.

According to Lida those were mostly servants.

And then there were the few nobles.

The fabrics they wore didn’t even pretend to be cheap. Luxurious, deep colors, often decorated with expertly done hand stitched embroidery and both pearls and semi-precious jewels sewn straight into the fabric. Soft leather, expensive looking furs, about the only thing he didn’t catch sight of was silk (and a quick check on his com confirmed that real silk, indeed, was not something produced here, nobody had yet imported silk worms, nor any of the systems to make silk without them).

Those people were very well groomed too.

But once they got past that walled area the streets got narrower and the houses shabbier. There were some apartment houses around, but most looked like they might house two to three families. Gardens were common, but all of them seemed to be filled with vegetables, in spite of lots of peering Rahan managed to spot just one narrow flower bed, squeezed between a row of cabbages and a path with what looked like old tiles in one garden they passed. That house was a bit neater than most of the surrounding ones too.

Paint didn’t seem to in use here much. White, occasionally, probably made of chalk and almost universally either flaking off, or visibly only as some small remnants in some slightly more sheltered pieces of a wall. Mostly the houses seemed to be made of yellowish or gray tiles. The windows had glass, but most of it was greenish and uneven, with bubbles here and there, and divided into small panes. Doors were wood, and mostly looked very sturdy.

To protect the occupants from criminals?

Highly likely. This kind of places rarely had low crime stats.

Rahan was feeling the lack of the familiar weight of the gun on his hip acutely by now. Carrying often made him feel slightly self-conscious, as if he was pretending to be something he wasn’t, but he could not deny the comfort having a gun gave him. After having trained with them more than half his life now he knew he was good enough with one to not doubt his ability to use it well, and wisely. It was just the image which occasionally made him prefer not to carry, at least not openly, maybe because he had spend his earliest seven years of life in a culture where nobody did, and where even the entertainment, at least one directed to children, did its best to paint them as something quite… stupid? As a result a gun sometimes still made him feel as if he was trying to draw attention to himself. As if he was pretending to be somebody he was not.

But in places like this he would have preferred to have one anyway.

On the other hand, he had also received plenty of training how to deal with all kinds of threats and dangers while completely unarmed. A gun was a tool, a tool one should have with him if at all possible, but it was not supposed to be a crutch without which one could not walk.

He had his brain, and his training, and his well maintained body. Under the circumstances those would have to suffice.

And besides, not completely safe was one thing – was there any place you could declare as completely safe, anywhere? But surely Lida would not have suggested their trip if there was some real, immediate danger to be found here? Not when the danger would be as much to her as to him… and she seemed competent enough, not the type who would blithely waltz into a bear’s den, thinking that she was one of the charmed ones and that nothing could ever happen to her just because she maybe had the theoretical right to be there…

So there were potential risks. But probably not high likelihood ones.

But he couldn’t quite get rid of the slight itch around the base of his neck, as if the hairs there were trying to stand up. No matter how much he kept telling himself he was just being stupid.

***

The restaurant didn’t look like much from the outside. Not really from the inside either, once they had walked past the opened double doors. A big, undecorated room with white walls – and no flaking, here, for which Rahan was grateful – mismatched tables and chairs, most ugly but serviceable, as was the tableware.

The food, however, really was quite good.

They ate several courses, starting with some sort of pureed vegetable soup and some small pastries, then the main course, fish, unmistakably some salmon variety for both, with vegetables and what probably were some sort of potatoes, ending with blueberry – maybe, at least the juice stained their teeth and lips the same way as the blueberries he was familiar with did – cake and the same coffee substitute Rahan had tried in the cafes next to the starport, only the one served here tasted a lot better.

Lida was unusually quiet the whole time.

“Is something wrong,” Rahan finally asked.

She startled, then gave him a small smile. “Not really. It’s just… some memories.”

“Unpleasant ones?”

“No, pleasant. I used to come here with a friend. But…”

“Boyfriend?”

“No, a girl I grew up with. She died, about two years ago. A flyer accident. I have been here after that too, I don’t really know why I started to think of her this time. Sorry.”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to pry.”

She shook her head. “No problem. Are you finished?”

Rahan nodded, feeling slightly troubled. There was still something a bit off in her manner. He just couldn’t quite put his finger to it. “Yes. Do you want to leave?”

Maybe it really was just some sad memories. But…

“I guess… I need to use the ladies room. This won’t take long.”

Rahan nodded and smiled again, got up when she did and sat back, trying to catch the eye of the waiter when she left.

His neck hairs were still itching.

***

Lida left through the back door, not sure what she was going to do. She needed to clear her head. And she needed to decide. Now.

Call her friends? She had been dithering long enough. She had not told him anything yet. She did not want to tell him anything. Deceiving him no longer seemed like something she could do. Maybe just let her friend take him by force… she’d still be deceiving him but at least she wouldn’t have to outright lie to his face.

Maybe she could just run. Leave this whole mess. Go home.

The decision was taken out of her hands when she saw the three men clustered close to one end of the alley she was in. She recognized one of them. She had seen him once, as a member of a raiding party she had managed to hide from when they had burst in to one of their warehouses when she had been there making an inventory.

Unfortunately they also seemed to recognize her.

***

Something seemed to be happening. Rahan had paid and had been twiddling his thumbs waiting for Lida to come back when he saw one of the waiters hurry from the corridor leading to the toilets – at least he assumed it did, since that was the one Lida had taken – and close the door behind him, then go and whisper something to the man who he had assumed was in charge of the place, from the manner he had been keeping an eye on the room while sitting and reading in one of the back booths.

Both of the men stole a sideways glance at him.

Time to go. He did not know what was happening, and figured he had no pressing need to wait here to find out. Discretion being the best part of valor, and knowing when to leave usually the best way to keep your freedom and your skin intact.

Besides, unless Lida had suddenly developed severe case of diarrhea she should have been back already.

Rahan got up and headed towards the now closed door, hoping it was not locked.

***

The corridor was a short one, and the toilets really were there. There was also a third, closed door. When Rahan opened it he found himself facing a narrow back alley.

There were noises of struggle coming from one end. When he stepped out to look he saw a bunch of people moving there.

The sun was setting, and the shadows were deep. It took him a moment before he could make out what was going on, but when the smallest of the four figures managed to land a good high kick on the jaw of one of the two men in front of her – the third was behind her, holding her arms – he figured he was looking at Lida and three assailants.

He didn’t stop to ponder what was going on. The girl was under an attack, and she needed help.

It didn’t take him more than a moment to reach them. One of the men turned to face him when they heard the sound of running feet coming towards them, a big wall of a brute who didn’t seem to be too much worried about the tall, slim and obviously very young man charging him.

That turned out to be a mistake. Rahan’s blow to his jaw landed him on his back on the dirty ground with no problems.

He had always liked things simple.

And he spent half of his time in high gravity environments, and did most of his training in them. The slimness was deceiving.

The man holding Lida threw her against the wall, where she crumbled down, stunned for the moment. The man she had kicked was still reeling, and Rahan didn’t think he’d have any major problems with the third man, but this time he had underestimated his opponent who turned out to be a lot more quick than most humans he had ever dealt with.

But still no even close to the Shemasharra he was used to sparring with. The man got in a couple of blows but Rahan sidestepped the third one, looking for an opening. They circled each other for a moment before his trained eye saw one, and he went in.

Only to receive a hard punch to his back.

The kicked man had recovered.

The punch itself didn’t bother him too much, but the fact that it dropped his com did.

Time to finish the fight.

***

Lida got up in time to see Rahan dispatch his two still standing opponents, one in front of him with a twofer to his solar plexus, the one behind him with a kick to his… sensitive spot.

She had thought he was bragging when he had mentioned he was a trained fighter. He didn’t look like one, or at least he didn’t fit her idea of one.

Seemed she had been wrong.

For a moment regret filled her. What she was about to do was not honorable. Especially not after this.

But the situation was out of her hands now. She needed to get to her friends, and he would not be able to get back to his ship – nor would he be quite safe there anymore, even if he reached it – after this.

There was nothing she could do now but stick to the original plan.

***

“We need to go.”

The girl’s voice was worried. Rahan checked the three men on the ground and saw they would not stay down long, then looked for his com and didn’t see it anywhere.

“I dropped my com. I need it.”

“I don’t see it. Can’t you access it without direct contact?”

“It has pretty long range, and it’s nearly indestructible, but I haven’t got the implants for it. So no.” He hadn’t liked the idea of something inside his skin – in his skull bones, actually – and had been dragging his feet about getting them for several years now.

Right now he was regretting his tardiness.

“So you can’t tell your ship…?”

“Not unless I find it.” Rahan said, starting to feel slightly panicky. He needed to contact Ryn. Now.

That was when he saw the grating of a rainwater drain right next to them. The slats were widely spaced, a com could have easily fit through them if it had hit them on the right angle.

Or exactly the wrong one.

In there? He knelt to look, but it was too dark down there to see anything.

“Rahan? We have to go. Now. Those men are coming to, but that’s not the main problem. They send an alarm, I saw one of them do it, and their reinforcements could be here any minute.

“And these are Ytjars. If they get hold of us we will probably just disappear.”

The near panic in Lida’s voice got Rahan up. He remembered reading about the Ytjar. Ending up in their hands would not be good. He knew he’d get people looking for him, but it would take days, maybe even weeks – depending how close either the closest Corps ship, or the closest Shemasharra clan ship was – before his reinforcements would get here.

Better not to get into that pickle.

Ryn would know what to do.

“Okay,” he said. “Which way should we run?”

***

The beeping of the alarm woke Ryn up from a nap.

Rahan’s com was no longer in direct contact with him.

The kid had not gotten the implants so he would not be able to communicate with the ship if he lost the com. On the other hand the fact that it was not close enough to sniff him no longer might not mean anything too bad – if one discounted the fact that if the kid had just taken it off his belt without at least leaving a short explanation as to why and when he’d put it back he was going to be getting one more negative mark on his record, and while his record was not too bad yet he had a couple too many on it already – so, perhaps he had only gotten into a heavy petting session with the girl and the com was right now sitting on the floor next to the couch or bed or whatever they might be on since it didn’t have to get more than a few yards away from him before it lost its ability to smell him.

He needed to take a look. If Rahan had taken it off himself he would have only himself to blame for the loss of privacy.

Ryn activated the sensors.

To be answered by the distant sounds of several echoing footsteps, and total darkness from the viewer.

High humidity levels. In fact the com seemed to be sitting in water, if not submerged.

The other diagnostics seemed to indicate something like an underground drainage system.

This was not good.

Ryn woke the ship AI and told it to hack into the police net. Both of them, including the one belonging to the Ytjar.

Real life interfering with the important stuff

21 Oct

This week is going to be consumed mostly by working. And I need to take the old tom to vet, he needs to get his teeth checked. Which is going to cost… oh dear. Hopefully I can squeeze in a few hours of writing between the hours of working.

That villain is having a fun time so far. I have started to write in his scenes, and the good point, as far as making things easier for me, is the fact that he does not meet Rahan at all until towards the end, so I don’t need to adjust much in what I have already written in order to get him in, I can write him his own scenes where he observes, plans and plots the heroes’ demise (no, I have never seen any of the original ‘Perils of Pauline’ or other such silent serials, but I am quite fond of those older movies you can find online, and some of the new talkies did make fun of the older ones with their mustache twirling baddies – if you are young enough to have no idea what I’m talking about go look soonest, your education is lacking). Unfortunately he does not have a mustache he could twirl, being a clean cut fellow who looks like somebody’s ideal son-in-law candidate, honest and trustworthy. Ambitious, maybe, but wouldn’t that be an asset in a son-in-law? He also seems to have the name ‘Kerrin’. No idea where that came from. Current United States Secretary of State? Njah, surely not… well, any resemblance is accidental, I don’t actually know much of anything of that politician, but the name has been in news somewhat during the last few months so that is one possible source. 🙂 Half of the time I use those fantasy name generators you find online, sometimes a name just pops into my mind, occasionally the character seems to have one when he appears. I usually try to adjust the names I find a bit, to the extent it’s possible so that people who are supposed to be of the same ethnicity and language would have names which at least sound vaguely similar so ‘Kerrin’ may need a bit of work, so far the names used by the people of that world seem to be getting a somewhat Baltic slant, but we’ll see.

Okay. My next blog post should appear either around the next weekend, or the next Wednesday after that, and then it will be the third sample chapter. I aim for the weekend.