Yesterday, my brother called--he had babysitting detail, so there were bursts of random noises in the background, and occasional older-sibling scolds when the baby ventured where she should not--and we talked about nothing and everything: his college finals, the latest in computer gaming news, the family, my qualified early success planting stuff (haven't killed anything yet), my job, and the novels.
For a week, I've been working on a single scene in the second Dragon novel, deleting as many or more words than I have kept. After my brother's call, I decided to spend my mental energies on a different piece of writing--in this case, the space pirates, who travel in an obsolete tub and use old Earth technology, like pencils and paper, hand-held radios, and so on. Don't have a title yet, but I do have fun coming up with crazy stuff to add to the tale.
Below is a slice from Chapter 3, which I now present without context or explanation:
He radioed the engine room. “Alerio, any chance you and Corrigan can whip up a little Vega Surprise?”
“With or without the cinnamon sprinkles?”
“Nothing fancy. It’s just gotta work. We’ve got a runner on our six.”
“Aye, captain. One Vega Surprise coming up. Tell Finney to gimme a minute.”
Finney called out, “I can give you thirty seconds.”
No reply from the engine room, just static. Good man, Alerio. Not one to waste time with words when action was needed.
“If that runner has guns on it—”
“Don’t even think it, Finn.”
She reached up, slapped her palm over an entire row of toggles—“Get ready”—counted to three under her breath, and flipped them up.
The ship shuddered, hesitated, then surged forward, downward, twisting left then down again, and then Finney pulled the stick, bringing the Martina Vega’s nose up into a sharp incline. Kristoff was plastered against his seat, fairly certain he had left his innards and most of his good sense somewhere behind that rock Finney had just dodged.
“Wa-hoo!” erupted from the radio. “C’mon, Finney, do that again!”
Dragging his radio to his mouth, not sure if he would retch before he finished speaking, “Shut up, Haldis,” ordered Kristoff. “Galley okay?”
“Sahir looks green, but we’re good.”
The runner had fallen behind and, if it were possible, looked confused. A small moon, a massive crater on its southern pole, hid the Vega in its shadow—and, as long as anything flaming didn’t choose that moment to shoot through the field, the freighter could put the entire moon between itself and the runner. Such a large mass would interfere with the Orpheus’ scanners long enough for the Vega to leapfrog behind another mass, and possibly run fast enough to reach Port Henry ahead of Zoltana, offload its cargo and refuel, and be away again before the constable caught up to them.
Of course, the harbormaster might be suspicious of a crew so eager to turn around a cargo of liquor, ship parts, low-priority medical supplies, and miscellaneous crates of goods specially ordered by the local citizenry. He’d want to know what was so urgent about such commonplace things. Kristoff could try fobbing him off with a story about a sick mother or some such lameness, but he’d rather not have to say anything at all.
Wasn’t that Jink Turner fella a stevedore? Maybe he could be convinced to help out a bunch of poor, downtrodden smugglers like the Vega crew. Maybe he could get together with the Port Henry stevedores, play on their sympathy for a fellow dockworker, help him offload the cargo jig time—
“Whoa!” Kristoff gripped one arm of his chair and with his other hand grabbed the bar above his head. The ship rolled to starboard, tilted down then up again, and swooped behind another blob of space stuff.
So much for supper.
c. Keanan Brand, 2008