Sunday, August 21, 2016

Dispatches from the porch: Did you miss me? Day 21

So, you may have noticed that I silent last week. It was a matter of real life overwhelming me. Yes, II know. I keep saying I won't let it happen, don't I?  but it does, and so the writing suffered. But it really was me that suffered. Why can't I remember that I feel so much better when I'm writing? Can you guys remind me?

Anyway, today it's 70 degrees, and rainy, and my cat and I are sitting on the front porch, and it doesn't even feel like I'm on the surface of the sun!. I'm wearing a sweater! Weird, right? But it's all very pleasant, and I'm going to try to catch up. To prove I'm serious, here's a bit more with Adella and the vampire. I thought he was going to be awful, but maybe not. Maybe Adella can reform him......

"You were as much an oddity then as I am. A woman with that pack of thug medical students. You didn’t notice me, because there iron bars between us.” He move from behind the counter in a flash, to stand inches from her. He reached out to trail a blacken fingernail down the side of her face, scraping it over the crow’s feet at the corner of her eye. “You’re older now, of course. Same brassy girl in there somewhere, though, I expect.”
He inhaled again, and seemed to savor. Adella gave an involuntary flinch.
“You are not here to inquire after our wares, Missus.” His eyes narrowed. “No. You are not here to buy. You weren’t then, and you’re not now.”
Adella jerked out of the creature’s gasp. She pulled her pistol free and leveled at the vampire’s face. “Did you divine all that from my perfume? You’d be shocked what I’d do, for the sake of science. Of curiousity. For example, I know this shot wouldn’t kill you, but I’m not clear on how painful it would be, if I say, hit an eye. How long would it take to heal?”
She saw a break in his expression, a flicker. He said, “It would be horrible painful. And it would likely disfigure me.”
Beneath the menace he wore, Adella saw a flash of a creature caged.  She eased the gun back. “You’ve obviously won your freedom.” She said. “Why do you allow this all to continue?”
He laughed at her. “It is put others on the block or suffer it myself. That is how this world works.”
Adella took her finger from the trigger. She shook her head. “If you’re alone, that is how it is.”
He only laughed again.  “We live in two very different ones, Missis.”
Not anymore, she thought. Not for the moment. “Tell me, does the man Vicktor Lemnus have a stake in the auction? Or do you simply pay him your protection like all the other shops?”
“What business it is of yours?”

Friday, August 12, 2016

Day 12, One More

And, we're back to the novel. Remember last week when Adella was talking to the vampire? Sure you do. Here's the last part of that scene. Almost the last part, anyway. I think this chapter will be really fun when it makes sense as all, but for now, I'm just sticking everything together so I can move on. I am trying to learn to move forward, as much as I can, which is hard for me. But I can't wait to see what happens next in this bit. And I can't wait until I can come back and make it all pretty-like and you know, readable....

“We both know that’s not true.” Adella insisted. “I’ve only just arrived in Tenbrous, and your auction is the worst kept secret below ground. I’m in need of live specimans, and those poor creatures on the block out there won’t do. I have the cred, I just need to know when. Why are you so coy?”
“Well Missus, one can’t be-“
“Doctor.” She correctly him firmly once again.
“Doctor, if you must.” He acknowledged. Then he leaned forward, hands flat out on the counter. He inhaled, sampling the air between them. It brought the image of a snake to Adella’s mind, and she took a step back involuntarily. She was halfway to pulling her pistol free, when his eyes narrowed. “Ah,” He spoke again. “But I know you, do I not?”
“I…” The realization that he’d just processed her scent struck her speechless a moment. “I can’t think how.”
But she had been here. How could she have failed to remember a vampire had been running this place? Had she simply not recognized the creature back then? She straightened her spine and gave him a smile. “I was here, years ago. I fear it was before your time.”
The return smile displayed his stark white fangs. Adella’s heart hammered. Leslie would be angry if she allowed herself to be killed because of a faulty memory.
“You were as much an oddity then as I am. A woman with that pack of thug medical students. You didn’t notice me, because there iron bars between us.” He move from behind the counter in a flash, to stand inches from her. He reached out to trail a blacken fingernail down the side of her face, scraping it over the crow’s feet at the corner of her eye. “You’re older now, of course. Same brassy girl in there somewhere, though, I expect.”
A shudder wracked through her before she could stop it. She pulled away from him. “This can’t be an effective way to do business.”
She insinuated the pistol between them, pressing it to his chest.  “I require information. If you don’t have it, I’ll speak to your master

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Day 11: a tiny bit more of Drifter. It's the pages that matter!

So here's more of my Page a Day Challenge. I have another scene from Drifter. Remember people, this a rough draft. You'll notice that I've left big holes for the things I can't figure out, because, let's face it, if I didn't I'd never get to the end of anything.

So again, this starts at the tail end of another scene. It's really about three pages, but who's counting.... It starts off with Skylar and Tarik talking about Raena. This happens before the scene you read previously. Skylar isn't human, and he's worried about Raena's xenophobic up-bringing. He's also worried that the ship is effectively dead in the water. There might be three different scene changes in this--the double drops. And also the POV changes as many times as well..... So...Welcome to my Brain. Um, don't touch anything. You don't know what it attached to.

Finally when he couldn’t stand the feeling of Tarik’s disappointment sting the air around him, Skylar said, “Why doncha get something to eat? I got the rest of this.”
The kid left with no further comment. How, after everything this galaxy had thrown at him, could Tarik still be so young? Skylar sighed. He hated that he might have to be the one to break all that. But he would do what he had to. Better Terik be disillusioned than dead.
Skylar tried to let the work ease his mind. The Panacea was a rust bucket that barely limped at the best of times. But Skylar loved her.  Almost as much as Doc and Tarik.
But she wasn’t co-operating just now. Skylar knew the only way they would be safe was to put a jump between them and the Noose’s debris field. If he couldn’t get the Panacea moving again they were dead.
The bypass wiring was easy. Skylar finished what Tarik had started, and within minutes had the atmo cycling at one hundred percent again, and rerouted power to the com. But the jump drive was the real problem. He turned away from the circuit panel and scrunched himself farther into the engine compartment. Fixing the drive was hands on, and everything down here was made for much smaller hands.
He squirmed his way passed the (repulsor thingie, or something) to the cradle the drive sat in. Skylar felt dread creep along the ridge of his spine. The smell of metal that was too hot to touch separated itself from the sharp of the burnt wiring. This was bad. (I need some help with the hardware here!) This was damage that he couldn’t fix or patch with his spanner. They needed replacement parts, and even a short detour was going to take too long now. Skylar stayed where he was, looking at the melted hunk of junk that was had been the thing that was going to save them, until he heard Doc’s boots on the deck above him.
“So.” She began. “Is this a good news/bad news situation?”
Skylar untangled himself from the machinery and ducked his head up from the hole. She looked down with a faint half smile on her face. She held a bottle of ambersi in one hand and two plasteel tumblers in the other. He tilted his head and flashed one fang to return the expression. Doc had been a spacer for too long to hope for the good, and he knew it. “Nope.”
She laughed, “Drink, then?”
“We must be desperate, if you’re sharin’.” Skylar levered himself up onto the deck to join her. “The jump’s fried.” And so are we, he thought.
She nodded. “How far are we to help?”
He gave a shrug and sat in the pilot’s seat, swiveling in so he could face her when she took the passenger’s. “There’s Gallherger brother’s, on (one of the planets). They maybe got what we need. At real time, that’s….”  The rough calculation clicked in his head. “Thirty hours?”
“Not bad.” Doc handed him the tumblers and cracked the seal on the bottle. “Then we’re not desperate at all. Just movin’ at cruise speed for a day or so, yeah?”
“We’re…..” He paused as she poured. “We’re as good as drifting until we get patched up. Anyone can find us out here.”
Doc took a drink and said, “Not much different from any other day, now is it?”
“Except…” Skylar didn’t finish.
“There’s something else, isn’t there? Besides the diplomat. It’s the girl herself.” Doc narrowed her eyes. “What are you not telling me?”
A soft growl escaped him. He looked down at the ambersi but didn’t drink it.
“You can’t think she’s still working for him.” Doc protested. “She’s been running from him all across the Border Worlds. It’d be hard to believe how many times she’s escaped, if for the damage recorded on her body. She’s serious about not wanting to be put back in his hands.”
Skylar didn’t dispute that. Instead he pulled the medallion from his vest pocket. He held it out for Doc to see.
“Human’s First?” She lifted her lip in her version of a snarl. “You don’t know it’s hers.”
“It’s got a recording on it, calls her by name.”
That seemed to slow Doc’s defense. She took a drink. “Sky, she’s so young. Maybe she started with them, but she’s seen enough of the rest of the galaxy to know how misguided they are.”
“They’re terrorisst.” He countered flatly. “And where’d she learn any different? From Thallian? Because he’s such a proponent of live and let live?”
“If you’re afraid of her--”
“It’s not that.” He growled. “It’s Tarik. He doesn’t need her puttin’ that poison in his head.”
Doc laughed. “I don’t think you gotta worry about that. Maybe you don’t remember being fifteen, but I’m pretty sure Raena’s the first girl Terik’s never even seen sleeping. It’s possible he hasn’t heard anything she’s said to him yet.”
Skylar looked at his drink. Wasted on him. It didn’t do a damn bit of good. “I don’t want her talkin’ to him.”
He took the bottle from where Doc had set it on the com, uncapped it again and carefully pored his back in. “You need to save that. We got parts to buy, so the budget’s gonna be tight around here.”
“You don’t think Tarik would listen to any of that shit.” Doc said. “You know that boy thinks of you as his father. You’re lookin’ at this wrong. Maybe he can take some of the poison out of her head.”
“Just keep an eye on him, then.” Skylar pushed to his feet. “I’m going to gonna grab some sleep.  Wake me for lunch.”

Doc watched him leave. Chaperoning teenagers. Sure, cuz that never went sideways. Still, she had to admit, if only to herself, that Sky was not wrong to be freaked out. Humans First! Weren’t just a boatload of crazy xenophobs, they were a well-armed and moderately organized boatload of crazy that weren’t interested in keeping up sane appearances. 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Day Eight: Two. More. Pages. Of something completely different.

So, here's this week's first page. Well, it's two pages, but you know.... So it's from a space opera I've been working on... Sorta, with Loren Rhoads, who is the Queen Of Getting Me In Trouble.

So the story is called Drifter, and it's about the crew of the Panacea, who come across a derelict ship, just floating along in space, the middle of relative night. Well, the crew are pretty honest when they can be, but how can you just let all those perfectly good parts go? Of course they find more on the ship than parts..... And new boots.

This scene is towards the end. Tarik is a member of the crew and Raena is on the run from the Empire. You may remember Tarik, and certainly Raena from Loren's trilogy, In the Wake of the Templars. (If you don't, start with the first one, The Dangerous Type. they're awesome and you won't regret it!)  Here they are teenagers, having just met. Poor Tarik is younger, and has barely spoken to a girl before.....

“I gotta a buncha brothers and sisters.” Tarik said before he thought it through.
Raena gave him a half smile. “A bunch? Where are they now?”
Tarik looked out the port, habit from left over from home, when he could tell time by the slant of the sun. It was the only thing he missed. Almost. He’d been on the Plague for only a year, but he already knew he never wanted dirt under his boots again. “There…. Were seven of us. All working the Coalition base on APLANET . We were loading the Panacea when the Imps hit the port.” He rubbed his eyes. “My sister gave me her blaster and sealed me into the hold with the supplies. She said one of them would find me.”
He left off the rest.
“I have a sister.” Raena said. “She would have done that for me too.”
“Yeah.” Tarik stuck a smile on his face and put his siblings to the back of his brain. “Even if you wished she didn’t.”
Then they were both silent. Tarik wanted to apologize. Instead he said, “So do you play-----?”
Raena snorted. “Can I win credit off you?”
“Shaa.” Tarik scoffed. “You c’n try. Like I have any credit.”
The game they play here, and then:
“Do you think your sister survived?”
That caught him off guard. Sky and Doc didn’t talk about the past much. Not theirs, not his. Tarik had picked up the trick. Somehow Raena made him want to feel like he’d come from somewhere again. He shrugged. “Well, she didn’t have a blaster.”
There was a pause. Tarik really hoped Raena wouldn’t tell him the odds or worse, call Taryn a traitor to the Empire. Tarik knew that Raena might think it, but saying it would ruin his chance of making her into a friend. “No. I don’t think any of them survived the attack.”
That wasn’t what he told Doc. Not ever. Doc would never forgive herself for not saving all of them. She needed him to be hopeful, but Tarik wasn’t stupid. His family was dead. The Empire didn’t take grunts prisoner, why would they? No. Tarik knew that they were just extra weight.
“I’m sorry,” Raena said.
Again, he shrugged. “We grew up in the cause. We knew the risks. I just never thought I’d be the only one left.”
She smiled at him, and Tarik wondered if she understood. Who had she lost? Her sister? What about her parents? He hoped, if he talked, she might tell him something about herself. But she revealed nothing at all. So he smiled back. “I guess I just think now that I’m living on borrowed time. I should dead, like they are.”
“Then I’d be dead too.”
His smile widened. “Hope you don’t hold that against me too much.”

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Day four: Now it's all out of order.... Sigh.

Okay, same story, but the scene before the previous ones. Yep, that's right. Just how it comes out. This is Adella. She's a Doctor, and Leslie's companion. She does not approve of his new job, and they've been arguing about it. And then this happens. Hopefully at some point I can put some description and stuff in there to make it less..... Well, less like this.... Also this one's a bit more like two pages... So, yay. I'm ahead of the deal!

“In the meantime you’re Vicktor’s attack dog.”  She folded her arms around herself and turned away from him.
Les swallowed. Taking credit off people for “protection” was despicable and he knew it. It was who he used to be. He had no defense against her argument. He could tell her that Vicktor had threatened her life, and that made it different this time. But he knew that would only make her angrier.
“I’m going out.” Adella announced in his silent.
“Let me go with.”
“No.” Her voice was flat. “If we are to stay here I need to learn the lay of the place. And I shan’t need you to protect me.”
Les sighed, watching her open her meds bag to draw her derringer out and then tuck it into the hidden pocket in her skirt. No. She didn’t need him, he thought as she settled her hat onto her hair and drew a shimmery silver shawl around her shoulders. Adella had never needed him. It was him that needed her.
Adella made her way down the stairs of the clapboard office/jail/living quarters that she would share with Leslie for as long as it took. She stepped onto the passwalk that twisted through the warren of other such shopfronts and dwellings that made up the Tembrous market. Would it shock Leslie to know that this was far from her first trip into this place? She smiled. He was so ashamed of his past that he never stopped to think that she might also have one that she wasn’t proud of.
What would he think of her, if he knew the things she had done in the name of medicine while she was at university? Back then, she’d been young, and the only woman in a sea of men. She’d been eager to prove herself equal.
She pushed the regret aside. With all of Leslie’s, there was hardly room for Adella’s too. She turned off the main path onto a narrow crowded row where the air was closer, filled with the calls of caged birds and small animals. This was the heart of Tembrous. And Adella knew she was looking or a shop with no cages at all.
It wasn’t hard to find. It hulked at the dead end of the run, it was a full structure, like Leslie’s office. It was a somber black, with curtained windows. There was no sign it indicate what went on within, but Adella already knew.
Inside was shadowy as well. No surprise there. This was surely the darkest part of the market. As Adella stepped over the threshold she caught the faint sweet scent of copper pennies. She paused to let her eyes adjust and found the front room empty. It looked like a parlor, or she thought, a waiting room. There was thick carpet beneath her feet and wingback chairs gathered around a little table.
She sunk one hand into her pocket to find the comforting shape of her pistol and reached for the bell on the counter. Its chime cut the silence and triggered movement in the room beyond.
“Hello.” She made her voice cheerful, but didn’t take her hand off the grip of her pistol.
The curtain drew back and a young man stepped through. He had a smooth, luminous face. As he drew closer she notices that his eyes were red.
Not as young as he looked then, she corrected herself. It also accounted for the faint smell of blood about the place. “Pardon, Missus.” His voice was deep, velvety. “I was caught up in work.”
“Doctor.” She corrected him, lifting her chin to meet the hellfire eyes. “Doctor Adella Fordham.” She did not offer her hand. “I’ve come to inquire about the auction.”                            
He settled behind the counter and smiled, teeth white and stark in the murk. “Forgive me, but I don’t know what auction you’re referring to. This is simply a supply company.”

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Day Three. Don't Look!!

Here's how much I trust you guys. This is page two. Yep. This , his where I reveal myself as a true.... What do the kids call it now? Pantser. It should be evident that I:  A, have no idea what's going to happen as I'm writing this thing, and B  Have absolutely no qualms about breaking the precarious PLOT that I do have floating around in there. I promise that when I figure out how this all works out, it'll make so much more sense..... Oh. when Les thinks about the beast, it's his werewolf. There, you go......    

Leslie felt the crack of his nose breaking on contact. Pain flashed across his vision and he returned the blow on instinct. Cabbot staggered back, but didn’t go down. He shook his head and spit a mouthful of blood out on the floor. Then he charged Les, catching him low. The force sent the both crashing through the thin wall of the shack.
They exploded in a heap, Les on the bottom. He tasted copper at the back of his throat, but the beast made the pain fleeting. He was already healing. He flung Cabbot off and got to his feet. Then he hauled the other man up too. There was a thin crowd gathering, and Les knew he had to end this before they decided to join in.  “I’d prefer to come to a civil solution. However, if you insist on continuing this violence, I will oblige you. But you should consider that you’ve already got all the licks in you’re going to.”
His next blow was lower, and he caught Cabbot as he doubled over.
Now that his face was on the mend, Leslie remembered to hold back. It still wasn’t close to a fair fight, but Les didn’t want to kill Cabbot.
In fact, he realized as he turned loose of the man, he’d make a fair ally against Vic. And as thought came to him, Cabbot clocked him again, hard.  “Wait,” He put his hands up, open. “This is no way to negotiate.”
“That’s not what this is, son,” Cabbot laughed. “This is me beating you down.”
Les felt the eyes of the crowd on him, and he knew he couldn’t be seen backing down on his first day. “You’re mistaken.” He said, pulling his pistol clear of the holster. “This is me, getting what I came for. One way or another. Now. Don’t be a fool.”

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Day Two of the Page a Day Challenge. 300 wordsish makes up a page.

I promised to stick three pages up a week. Oh, I'll write seven, but c'mon. Even I don't want to read some of that. I don't know what all the pages will be, since I'm working on a couple of different things, but here's one from the Neo-Victorian novel that I'm middling my way through. It's near the end of the middle, and it's the prelude to a fist fight. It is almost entirely as it is from my notebook. So, um.... Well, here it is.......

Les was not pleased at the number of names on his list. Twelve shopkeeps this week would need convincing. Twelve.
He hoped that his size would be all the convincing they would need to pay up.
He wondered what Adella was doing. It was just as well she wasn’t here to see him set off to begin his duties. She wanted to believe he was better than Vicktor—so did Les, but the truth was they had been the same once, and the bad man still lived in Leslie, no matter how deeply buried. He wanted to leave it buried, but he knew if he wanted to kill Vicktor, he couldn’t.
So he set out to find his the first name on his list.

“Afternoon, Mr….” Les paused to consult is list. “Cabbot, is it?”
The man rose from is chair and stood eye to eye with Les. “It is.” He answered. “Who’s askin’”
“You can call me Mr Fordham. I’m here on behalf of our mutual friend, Mr. Ketchem.”
“No friend o’ mine.” The other man’s eyes narrowed to slit.  “And neither are you, if you’re his man. I’ve no interest in what he’s sellin’.”
Les smiled sharp and said, “You’ve already bought it. Now Mr Ketchem needs his cred.”
Cabbot looked Leslie up and down and laughed. “Or what?”
Leslie stepped closer to Cabbot. He widened his smile to show teeth. He did not what to be this man again, yet he was slipping into the role quick. “Or I go to work. And then you pay.”
“I don’t need protection from the likes of you or him.” Cabbot told him. As he spoke, he caught hold of Leslie’s right forearm, gripping hard enough to prevent him from side-stepping the punch.