Thursday, February 23, 2017

Work In Progress: The Sword & Planet Story

I'm still chipping away at this Lost Colony Sword & Planet story. Following my own advice, I've decided that parts of the story that won't make it into the final manuscript will be posted here. Furthermore, I will do this for every story I write going forward. These will be scenes, fragments, notes, and other "behind the scenes" material that will get posted here as it gets chopped from the manuscript.

And so, here's one:

Four men sat in the cockpit of the cruiser Gale Wolf

"Your Grace, we've arrived." the pilot said, and the co-pilot brought the ship out of hyperspace and before them lay a vast asteroid field.

An old man, his hair tied into a top-knot and his beard fully gray, turned to the younger man beside him. "Direct us to your master, scout."

"Comms." the young man said, "Send: 'Pell With Guests'."

The pilot looked at the older man, who nodded. Moments later, a response: "Hold position, Gale Wolf. We'll escort you in."

The old man turned to the pilot. "Acknowledge, Captain." he said, and the pilot did as his master bade him. The ship held in place, watching two contacts from within the field appear on their scopes. They were Hornet-class fighters, giving pause to three of the four men.

"They dare not attack." the co-pilot said, "Not that the war is over."

"Unthinkable." the scout said, and the old man followed that thought: "Our guest's master young, but yet honorable, as was his father. Such treachery is foolish, and he knows it."

"I mean no offense, Your Grace." the co-pilot said, and the old man smiled. "None taken, not with all this treachery since the war's end."

The fighters closed and called the cruiser: "Gale Wolf, stay within visual range."

The old man nodded. "Acknowledged." the captain said, and the cruiser kept close to their escorts through the asteroid field. Despite being significantly larger than the fighters, the ship navigated the field deftly and after a while they saw the place that they came for: Pell's Cottage.

"This was your discovery?" the old man said to the scout, and the scout smiled. "Yes."

The "cottage" was a massive asteroid over a mile in diameter, dug into and transformed into a well-concealed outpost with significant--but not full--spaceport facilities. As they approached, the main hanger--easily large enough for several cruisers or frigates--rolled into view. The cruiser rotated on its axis as it banked inside to land and dock, while the escorting pair of fighters broke off to resume their patrol.

"Impressive." the old man said, "Several lanes are within a short jump from here, and there's a gas giant a short realspace run from here. No wonder we had such a problem with privateers. Well done."

The ship shuddered as its drives powered down, letting the mass settle on the landing gears. The old man and the scout got up and left the cockpit, making their way through the passenger lounge and took the lift outside. There awaiting them stood a young man in the full dress uniform of the now-defeated League of Independent Worlds. Behind him stood a honor guard of the man's homeworld militia, the Radu Guard.

"Welcome Sir Narrada Gahm, Duke Far, Emissary of the Court of the Stars." the man said, and he clasped his hand over his breast in the formal salute of his house.

"We thank you for your hospitality, Senator Radu." Duke Far said, bowing slightly as is his house's custom, "Your man, Lacann Pell, did well in his duty. He is to be commended."

"Come, Your Grace. We have much to discuss regarding our common enemy, and not much time."

"Agreed." Duke Far walked forward to go beside his host, and Lacann walked a step behind them both, heading into the interior of Pell's Cottage.

So, why did I decide to cut this this?

The story is about Lacann's mission to the planet. This? This I wrote so I could start getting into Lacann's head, setting up his stakes and the circumstances he's in; this story is about him--he's the Protagonist--so I did this to get to know him and get a sense for his character. There's more to this (it leads up to him setting sail for the planet, arrival, and subsequent crashing thereupon), but it's not interesting given what I'm out to do. It's like watching the scenes of Luke Skywalker before he leaves Tattoine; you want just enough to establish him as a character, but more than that becomes counter-productive, and I don't like slow starts to stories.

The important parts--why he's there, and who he's doing it for--gets told to the man Lacann meets with on that planet who becomes his ally against a common enemy. This? This is exploratory writing, which helps me get to the end goal but won't be a part of that final product; that's why it got cut and therefore why it's here. Usual "work in progress" disclaimers apply.

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