Monday, September 1, 2014

Another way to write the next one.


This is more like a space opera.  So far it seems to be easier writing.
The tentative title is 'Cynthia the invincible'.  A hard drinking, foul mouthed female space criminal ends up stranded in regency England. This is about half the first chapter.

Take off.

The ship's computer was talking, “Miss Cynthia, We'll take off with on a count of ten, nine, what the hades, zero!”
The unexpected and extraordinarily rapid takeoff kicked Cynthia back into her seat so hard that she blacked out. When she recovered from the shock she shouted at her ship's computer, “Chris! What the hell was that about!” Under normal circumstances Chris would take the machine up smoothly, resulting in little more than a flutter in the bottom of her stomach, and maybe a small ripple in her martini. Indeed, it was the height of bad manners to accelerate off planet too rapidly and disturb the stratosphere. This time her martini was dripping off the wall behind her while fragments of the glass littered the floor.
“Sorry Ma'am. It was an emergency.”
“An emergency?” Chris had led her through the normal pre-takeoff drill. Fasten seatbelts, what to pull if there was an emergency, where the oxygen mask would drop from and, finally, how to use the seat cushion as a flotation device in the unlikely event that you were in one piece after crashing into the ocean. He was known for his sense of humor. That was part of why he had been voted the most personable control program of 2342.
“Ma'am. If you feel up to it, would you look in the screens.” She didn't need to. The shock wave from the exploding planet rocked her craft. “What happened?”
“The Cataxi.”
“They found me? What the fuck. How the hell did they do that?”
“I wouldn't know, Ma'am.”
“Did they just destroy an entire planet to try to take me out.”
“Apparently.”
“Damn. It's not as if I stole that many credits from them. It was just a pretty necklace.” She fingered the deep red stone that hung between her breasts.
“The Cataxi do not put a high value on Terran life. I did try to warn you, Ma'am. In their eyes you are barely worth a tenth credit.”
“Still Chris, it must be more than that. I expected that assassin in the bar. It's part of the normal give and take of interstellar commerce, but it's bad form to take out a planet. Do it too often and you start a war.”
“Ma'am if you would, I am preparing for the jump.”
To say this was unusual was an understatement. Ships would cruise, sub-light, through the system. It gave the occupants time to say extended goodbyes and deal with any last minute formalities. Besides, performing a jump too close to a solar mass could distort the results and send the ship into uncharted space. Fortunately, most of space was empty, so as an emergency maneuver jumping was more or less safe. Safe, that is, if you emerged into normal space somewhere you could recognize.
“On the count of five, five, four, three, two, damn.”
The ship spun out of control as colors flashed through Cynthia's mind. She passed out again from the disorientation. Finally, the ship emerged into a small solar system.
Cynthia recovered consciousness. “Chris, where the hell are we now?”
Chris, for once, was silent. “Come on, computer, damn you. Where the fuck are we?”
“Ma'am. I'm checking. It may be a question of when we are as well as where.”
“When??”
“I'm sorry but that Cataxi shot hit us just as we were jumping. That can do unusual things to jumps, as I'm sure you're aware. I'll have a damage report shortly.”
“Good.”
“You will have to wait while I recalibrate. I will be offline a short time while I reboot. Sorry for the inconvenience.”
Cynthia had a few anxious minutes. If Chris did not reboot, she would be adrift, somewhere in the universe, in a dead ship. Unless she was extraordinarily lucky, she'd be dead in a few days without her computer. If she were lucky the Cataxi might find her before she died. They'd make sure her death was quick. Not necessarily painless, but definitely quick.
Her anxiety was misplaced. Reliable as ever, Chris returned to life. “Ma'am, are you sitting down?”
“I'm not going to faint. What the hell is it?”
“We're home, Sol, Earth.”
“Fuck. Earth? Why are the guidance screens empty? There are no beacons. Where the hell are the customs ships, the border guard?”
“I don't know. Sorry Ma'am. But that's where we are. A few days trip in normal space and then we can orbit the planet.”
“I suppose we could pay home a visit. I wonder if warrants for my arrest in New York and London have expired by now.”
“Not to mention the ones from Perth, Tokyo, Beijing and Berlin. Unfortunately, we don't have a choice, Ma'am. The Cataxi shot took out the jump unit. Wherever we are, we're stuck. There are supplies and air for a few months, but that's all.”
“Damn. I suppose prison is better than starving to death. Let me know when you pick up the guidance beam. I'll be in the AR1 suite. I want to see if I can finally seduce Mr. Darcy. Take him away from that dreadful Elizabeth Bennet.”
“That Jane Austen game, again? Why don't you play something wholesome, like Battle for Mars or Kabul Shootout?”
“I like regency games. They're so relaxing.”
“If you say so. But you'd have better luck with Darcy if you played Elizabeth rather than one of the Bingley sisters.”
“What's the fun of that? They are supposed to get together. I much prefer a challenge.”
“Yes, I know Ma'am. Could I make a suggestion?”
“What, Chris?”
“Could we please have an uneventful trip for a change? Maybe something less exciting than fleeing from the police halfway around the galaxy. You have enough credits to pay for repairing me at the spaceport.”
“I suppose so. Anyway wake me up if anything interesting happens.”
Nothing interesting happened, only if you count the lack of signals, indeed the lack of artificial radio emissions of any kind as uninteresting. Cynthia's game was interrupted a week later.
“Damn it Chris, I finally had my hands on his trouser buttons. What now?”
“I am truly sorry to disturb you Ma'am, but there are some facts which I must, however hesitantly, bring to your notice.”
“What is it?”
“I've identified the year. It's 1810. We are currently parked on the reverse side of the moon, as the natives possess telescopes that could see us in orbit. I presume you don't want them drawing untoward conclusions.”
“1810. Fucking A. No one down there could even begin to repair you, could they?”
“I have prepared a list of supplies that would enable my automatics to fix me.” Chris flashed them through Cynthia's AR unit where they hovered in front of her instead of Darcy's face.
“I can almost certainly find the iron and copper. Might have to be a little light fingered for that much gold, but have they even discovered selenium and titanium yet?”
Chris continued, “That is a problem. I suppose you could refine the ores.”
“Maybe. What were you thinking of?”
“Ma'am, since you are enamored of regency games, it seemed to me that. No I can't suggest this.”
“You'd like to deposit me in England while you fly off and refit somewhere?”
“Precisely Ma'am. I thought that Iceland would be a good location. It's isolated with few people and intense volcanic activity. I could use a thermocouple for power and the heat would disguise me. It should only take a few weeks to finish with a partial refit. It would make me spaceworthy for an intrasystem flight. We can still use the com-link so you won't be alone.”
“I doubt even the Cataxi can trace me here.”
“Still, it is better to be prepared.”
Cynthia thought for a few minutes, then said, “All right, Chris. I'll do it. The only alternative I can think of is setting up a farm on Mars and that would be supremely boring.”
“Very good ma'am. I'll switch the AR to conditioning mode so that your English and manners are correct for the period. It will take about two weeks. In the meantime, I'll work up the vaccines you'll need.”
“Can you let me finish with Mr. Darcy first?”
“Sorry Ma'am, no. It might take you a month to tire of him. I neglected to tell you that the damage reports were incomplete. We don't have that much time to spare.”
“We're fucked, aren't we?”
“Precisely ma'am.”
“Get the hell on with it then.”
It took all of two weeks, but Chris finally woke Cynthia from the AR. She started to say, “What the fucking hell took you so long?”, but her conditioning cut in and she said, “What took so long?”
“I'm sorry Ma'am, but you had a large resistance to the training.”
“F-, Indeed. What is going on?”
“Ladies of quality did not swear in the 19th century.”
“Oh, dear, that's cut my vocabulary in half.”
“I must say, Ma'am, it is an improvement.”
Cynthia was speechless, not thoughtless, but speechless.
1Augmented Reality