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Sol and Centauri (all new!) [light language]

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EightyEight
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« on: April 23, 2007, 09:01:09 pm »

I'm just wondering if this little piece has that 'thing' that makes it an appropriate prologue. You can be rest assured that the character and event are significant to the story, unlike other prologues I have had (Tongue).
EDIT: I've just discovered why it doesn't have that 'thing'. After sleeping on the problem, I realised that for an introduction to the story, it doesn't introduce much. You don't even know what the inside of the Noctis looks like Tongue. I've already started revising it, so expect an update sometime soon. /EDIT
It's not very long, which may or may not be an advantage. I just look at it in the manner of  'if I want to extend it, I can do so freely', rather than not wanting to make it longer for fear of it being too long.

Anyway, enjoy...

--------------------

Sol and Centauri

Prologue

August 23, 2229 CE

The Noctis appeared over Odin, ten thousand kilometres above the moon’s equator. It was not a ship designed to be beautiful. The main hull was a hemispherical assembly of off-white vacuumplate segments, the symmetry ruined by dozens of small sensor spires and life-support clusters. From the bottom of the half-sphere protruded the main sensor booms, eight metal arms laden with short- and long-range sensory gear, ground-survey apparatus, and the concentric hoops of the Noctis’s pinhole generator.
Odin was probed with radiation, waves undulating into its very core and through, revealing its secrets.
The Noctis disappeared. It appeared again, a hundred kilometres from the planet. The radiation returned, this time much more intense. The little world’s heart lay open, dissected by crisscrossing patterns of energy. It was a silent and invisible process. On its surface, the planet was a dull jewel. No clouds obscured its greenery, no waters divided the land into continents.
We’re doing this by the book, thought Peter Connor, deep in the heart of the Noctis. But this is Odin we’re talking about. It’s the younger of Alpha Centauri’s sons. Nobody’s interested any more except the romantics who want another world to live on. He examined the sensor analyses, then shut off the probes. The planet retreated back into itself, the prying eyes now gone. Well, if they want this done by the book, who am I to say there’s no bloody point?
   “Sensors reporting, sir. No signs of life above the acceptable level for the biosphere as reported by the previous survey. No-”
A flash from one of his displays cut him off. The readouts were projected on plex plates that surrounded him, his own personal constellation of coloured text and images. It was the radio monitor that signalled for attention. He waved a hand. The hand didn’t move; instead, his control was shifted to the radio monitor. The warning showed him a timelog of a weak FM signal that the computer thought originated from a spot halfway between the pole and the equator. It was almost over the planet’s horizon from the Noctis’s position.
Peter Connor froze. training as a sensors officer took over, and he calmed himself down with a twinge of pride that he hadn’t panicked. He found the signal’s frequency and filtered it. The signal burst wasn’t an isolated incident – there was a constant murmuring of not-quite-noise on that channel, all emanating from the same source. The signal that had alerted the Noctis’s radio receiver was merely a boost in power of the constant broadcast. The signal wasn’t especially strong – about the level of an old-style local radio station’s broadcast. But that was too much to be here.
Not here. This was Odin, smaller offspring of Alpha Centauri. It was a moon orbiting the system’s only gas ‘giant’, one of five. It had been discovered in 2207 when humans first journeyed to Alpha Centauri, forcing their ships through tiny ripples in space that became known as pinholes. It was one of two worlds in Alpha Centauri that could support human life – an amazing twist of fate for the human race.
And it was going to be theirs. Peter Connor knew that with certainty. They had waited a long time for this prize. Humans as a race and humans as the crew of the Noctis. What a crew it was. Five experts, men and women who were at the tops of their fields – but not the best. They were all the second-bests of the human race. They were the ones who weren’t picked to fly the first mission to Forseti, the first time humans would step onto a world other than their own, remove their helmets, and breathe. Odin was offered as their consolation prize. It had come as no surprise to Peter Connor when the Odin mission was offered to him. He would have preferred that it was left to somebody else, but he agreed.
   “Sensors, any trouble?” Peter realised that he had broken off his report to the commander mid-sentence. The second between commander Sagong asking and his answering were filled with a rush of thought. But no way was he giving up Odin.
   “None, sir. Sorry.” He shoved the radio signal from his mind, into his mental version of a time capsule. Think about it later, when you’ve got time to do something about it. Later, when it won’t seem like such a problem. Everything looks better later.
He closed the time capsule and buried it.
« Last Edit: August 29, 2007, 03:25:55 pm by Bakerman » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2007, 11:36:32 pm »

Pinholes... I like it. Smiley

Really, it might not introduce all that much, but I think it's enough of a premise to a longer story. It serves well as a teaser, a first glimpse of your universe. And it makes me want to do some scifi again, so I guess it has to be quite good then. Wink

Keep up the good work!

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« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2007, 06:21:48 pm »

Looking forward to seeing what you can come up with! Smiley

Anyway, here's a slightly longer and more detailed version. I reckon, if you think it's good enough for an introduction, that I might just leave it as it is. But have a look at this and see if it's better. I corrected some typos, too, and managed to fit in a bit that I had wanted to write but forgot to - describing the Noctis as a jellyfish Tongue
Plus a little more emotion, as this is really where the story kicks off. If Peter Connor had told Sagong about the signal, I wouldn't have a story Tongue. Well, maybe I would, but it would be very different.

--------------------

The Noctis appeared over Odin, ten thousand kilometres above the moon’s equator. It was not a ship designed to be beautiful. The main hull was a hemispherical assembly of off-white vacuumplate segments, the symmetry ruined by dozens of small sensor spires and life-support clusters. From the bottom of the half-sphere protruded the main sensor booms, eight metal arms laden with short- and long-range sensory gear, ground-survey apparatus, and the concentric hoops of the Noctis’s pinhole generator.
Odin was probed with radiation, waves undulating into its very core and through, revealing its secrets.
The Noctis disappeared. It appeared again, a hundred kilometres from the planet. The radiation returned, this time much more intense. The little world’s heart lay open, dissected by crisscrossing patterns of energy. It was a silent and invisible process. On its surface, the planet was a dull jewel. No clouds obscured its greenery, no waters divided the land into continents beneath the ugly jellyfish of the Noctis.
We’re doing this by the book, thought Peter Connor, deep in the heart of the Noctis. But this is Odin we’re talking about. It’s the younger of Alpha Centauri’s sons. Nobody’s interested any more except the romantics who want another world to live on. He examined the sensor analyses, then shut off the probes. The planet retreated back into itself, the prying eyes now gone. Well, if they want this done by the book, who am I to say there’s no bloody point?
   “Communications reporting, sir.” He spoke to the Noctis’s master, commander Sun-Ho Sagong. He sat in the middle of the cavity the crew laughably referred to as the Bridge. It was the only space inside the Noctis; the ship had been designed for the Odin mission, and the Odin mission was to last only five hours. The other four crew members sat in recessed bays facing towards the centre – sensors, communications, ship’s systems, and engines.
   “No signals detected on any known communications frequency. Qradio link with Sol is strong-”
A flash from one of his displays cut him off. The readouts were projected on plex plates that surrounded him, inlaid in the structure of the commander’s pulpit. His own personal constellation of coloured text and images. It was the radio monitor that signalled for attention. He waved a hand. The hand didn’t move; instead, his control was shifted to the radio monitor. The warning showed him a timelog of a weak FM signal that the computer thought originated from a spot halfway between the pole and the equator. It was almost over the planet’s horizon from the Noctis’s position.
Peter Connor froze. There should be no radio signals; the only man-made object within millions of kilometres of Odin was the Noctis. Training as a bridge officer took over, and he calmed himself down with a twinge of pride that he hadn’t panicked. He found the signal’s frequency and filtered it. The signal burst wasn’t an isolated incident – there was a constant murmuring of not-quite-noise on that channel, all emanating from the same source. The signal that had alerted the Noctis’s radio receiver was merely a boost in power of the constant broadcast. The signal wasn’t especially strong – about the level of an old-style local radio station’s broadcast. But that was too much to be here.
Not here. This was Odin, smaller offspring of Alpha Centauri. It was a moon orbiting the system’s only gas ‘giant’, one of five. It had been discovered in 2207 when humans first journeyed to Alpha Centauri, forcing their ships through tiny ripples in space that became known as pinholes. It was one of two worlds in Alpha Centauri that could support human life – an amazing twist of fate for the human race. But it wasn’t inhabited, and the only things that made radio signals were people and stars, and unless there was a miniature star of variable strength down on Odin, it was people making that signal. He felt a sudden wrench, the wrench of someone who has had their victory snatched away in the final stretch. The marathon runner overtaken in the final hundred metres. A brilliant flower of anger unfolded in his chest, not at anyone in particular but at that insolent radio signal. Not here. Not on Odin.
Odin was going to be theirs. Peter Connor knew that with certainty. Humans had waited a long time for this prize. Humans as a race, and humans as the crew of the Noctis. What a crew it was. Five experts, men and women who were at the tops of their fields – but not the best. They were the second-bests of the human race, the B-team. They were the ones who weren’t picked to fly the first mission to Forseti, to be the men and women who would, for the first time ever, step onto a world other than their own, remove their helmets, and breathe. Odin was offered as their consolation prize. It had come as no surprise to Peter Connor when the Odin mission was offered to him. He would have preferred that it was left to somebody else, but he agreed.
   “Sensors, any trouble?” Peter realised that he had broken off his report to the commander mid-sentence. The second between commander Sagong asking and his answering were filled with a rush of thought. But no way was he giving up Odin.
   “None, sir. Sorry.” He shoved the radio signal from his mind, into his mental version of a time capsule. Think about it later, when you’ve got time to do something about it. Later, when it won’t seem like such a problem. Everything looks better later.
He closed the time capsule and buried it.
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-Midnight Oil, Bakerman
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« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2007, 11:20:11 am »

Another rewrite?

The opening looks ok, much like you previous openings, a bit of history of your world tolled in real time. It was a new scene so that nice to read. Those this mean you are doing a complete new start or are you keeping characters and plot similar?

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« Reply #4 on: May 02, 2007, 07:46:53 am »

I like it, it is mysterious enough to make me want to keep reading. It reads well, the writing flows.
No water? that does raise a few questions in my mind - how are they going to survive?
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« Reply #5 on: May 02, 2007, 04:14:57 pm »

Tau Worlock: All the scenes will be rewritten, but I'm keeping similar characters and plot. Except, actually, the plot will be totally different - it'll be there, for one thing ¬¬

jazen: I haven't looked into the biology of it (but I should), so it was just my initial concept of a world. Water could be imported, or more likely distilled from the plants there. I wasn't thinking it was totally without water - just no oceans. I was thinking something along the lines of 'seasonal' rivers which flow around the planet according to the direction of the gas giant the moon orbits.
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-Midnight Oil, Bakerman
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« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2007, 05:24:28 pm »

If it's not too confusing, I'll merge the updates I made with the first post. I'll try and work towards having just the final version posted up. For now, here's the first half of the next scene. The date is liable to change, but it doesn't matter much.

--------------------

October 25, 2321 CE

A parody of life flooded into the circuit, settling into its established patterns and pathways. Sensors expanded and analysed its surroundings. The recorded stimuli and responses that passed for memories and experiences told it that it was in the ready room of the Jovian Solar Critical Response/Assault barracks. The worldnet receiver in its heart linked itself to the local network, finding only a small system of nodes. Had it felt any emotions at all, it would have been vexed. Bringing its high-level sensors offline, it focused on the local surroundings. Two humans stood before it.
   “Is it on?” Harrison Tailor glanced over at his companion, Colin Farrell – the one who had asked the question.
   “Yeah, it’s on.” He was patient with Colin, and forced down the odd feeling of explaining something to a man forty years his senior. “Androids never just get straight up. It’ll be searching for a worldnet connection, – but it’ll only find the barracks’ local net – running through high- and low-level sensors to see where it is, and making sure its body’s functioning correctly. Then it waits for an order.” Colin looked the android over with keen blue eyes. The robot stood just taller than the average human, and was built in a humanoid shape mainly for aesthetic reasons. Its skin was made mostly of smoky, organiplastic plates, moulded into smooth curves. Joints and areas that needed flexibility were a darker polymer fabric. Under all that was a layer of combat-rated armour sheath, the same stuff used in the SCRA officers’ body-armour. Its forearms were empty, plastic and metal supports bridging the gap like an exoskeleton. Harrison leaned down into the recess the android lay in and patted its shoulder. “Come on.”
He led the way across the ready room. Colin and the android followed obediently, the latter having stood silently up from its reclined position. It walked with an oddly smooth gait, not wasting any energy in unneeded movement. Harrison slid open a wall unit, revealing a simple rack of tubes the length of the android’s forearms. He turned to the android, holding one, and said simply, “Open right forearm.”
Half of the structure over the gap in the android’s forearm retracted, allowing access to its insides. Harrison dropped the tube in, then reached back for another and repeated the process for the other arm. As he worked, he explained to Colin.
   “Armament variants. There are about six different types we have, ranged from stunners – the ones I’m putting in – to full-power thunderclap lasers. ‘Course, you need extra power for those. We’ve never actually used them,” he added. He spoke to the android again. “Hound, dismiss yourself and keep warm. Send your activation report to the log stream. Be ready for deployment at short notice.” The android turned and retreated, sinking back into its recess.
   “Hound?” Colin asked.
   “Its name,” Harrison supplied nonchalantly.
   “An inspector, by any chance?” Harrison grinned, and Colin joined in.
   “I had no idea you read the classics.” Colin nodded as Harrison threw an arm over his shoulders.
   “Not quite a classic, but close enough.” It was Harrison’s turn to nod. He let go of Colin and turned away from him, motioning to the rest of the ready room.
   “Back on-track, this is the ready room. I guess you figured out, this is where we keep our armour, weapons, power cells, etcetera.” He made a grand gesture with both arms, turning back to Colin. “And that concludes the tour. Sorry it was a few weeks late, but it sure made my job easier.” Colin smiled, and was about to make a remark when a text broadcast imposed itself on his vision. The emergency graphics on his corneo screen were depthless, demanding his attention immediately. The popup was a simple message in plain text, demanding his presence in the barracks’ small conference room. He dismissed the message with a wave of one hand, and glanced over at Harrison. He could see tiny images on the man’s eyes, in the same blood red that his message had appeared in. Harrison, too, closed the message and looked at Colin.
   “Wonder how much this has to do with Steve asking me to warm up Hound today?”
   “No bets,” Colin replied. “Let’s see, shall we?”

The briefing room was one of the smaller rooms in the barracks. It was on the top floor of the barracks’ inversed-pyramid structure, next to the ready room and maglev hangar. Harrison and Colin weren’t the first to arrive; Steven Vance, their squad leader, was waiting. He sat at the head of the ovular table that was the room’s largest piece of furniture. Harrison could see Steven’s face mirrored upside-down in the polished surface. Even light flooded from a recessed ring in the roof, glowing with the same intensity as sunlight on Earth.
   “Well done on being the first in,” Steven remarked dryly. “Sit down.” Harrison pulled a chair from under the table, and its back folded up to allow him to sit in it. He grabbed one for Colin as Dominic, Erik and Mary entered. Erik threw his arms in the air. “We ran here! How is it that you, Harrison Tailor, beat me to every single emergency briefing?” Harrison grinned as Steven waved the new arrivals down.
   “Get settled, people. Access the briefing stream and I’ll start now. We’re short on time.”
Harrison navigated his way to the barracks’ briefing file stream, joining in and receiving several new displays in his corneo sight. He shifted the images around, using hand gestures to shift his control between layers. There were several camera streams; Harrison recognised their coverage area as Jovia’s Commercial district – in other words, the offices of Jovian Resource Trade Corporation. The company did everything on Jovia – except their manufacturing and research/development, which took place on a station adjacent to Jovia. There were also several text files, looking from their header logs like secure transmissions that had been intercepted and decrypted.
As Harrison browsed the files, the rest of the squad arrived, taking seats at the table. Steven looked around: everyone was here. His squad, the Hellcats.
   “Right, we’ve barely got time to be here. We’ve received a warning from one of the Council’s netlinks here. A worldnet node on the Jovres Corporation’s level registered the presence of a fugitive – one of the Infinity Division activists the Council has been pursuing for a month or so. What he’s doing on Jovia we don’t yet know. We can, however, assume the worst: the Division are buying hydrogen and they can’t go through the regular channels to do it.” Harrison cleared his corneo sight and glanced at Steven. The squad leader was calm, as always. Steven’s bluntness and familiarity with his squad was something Harrison appreciated. Some SCRA teams Harrison had served with before coming to Jovia had been tight and formal, as if they were constantly on a proving ground.
   “Questions? No? So let’s get going.” The door slid quietly open, boots rang on the floor, then the briefing room was quiet. Five minutes later, a maglev car accelerated out of the SCRA barracks’ hangar.

The maglev train was Jovia’s main form of transport. The space station’s separate districts were arranged in a great mass three kilometres high and one wide at its widest point, looking like a giant silver arrow head poised to pierce Jupiter’s surface. On its crown sat Plaza, a giant hardglass dome ringed with restaurants, bars and boutiques that served Jovia’s population of almost ten thousand. The eight Broadways radiated from it, wide tunnels lined with yet more shops and offices. Directly underneath Plaza was the broad, round, compact constellation of triangular living modules known as Residence. Walkways and platforms linked modules into rough suburbs, each suburb served by a maglev tunnel. These tunnels coalesced into the Jovia Upper station, then emerged as the Artery line, a three-kilometre stretch of track travelling straight down. Capillary lines branched off the three descending tunnels, allowing access to Jovia’s other levels: Commercial, Administrative, Spaceport, Maintenance, and finally, at the end of the line, Industrial.
At Industrial station, Jovia departed from its arrowhead symmetry, branching into a flat disc riddled with conduits and large starship berths. Hanging from its lower surface, thirty-two alloy spears trailed kilometres down into Jovia’s atmosphere: Jovia’s tendrils, sucking hydrogen from Jupiter’s gaseous surface. The hydrogen was conveyed up the spears, the opposite of venom in a snake’s hollow fangs. It was drawn into Jovia, sorted, processed, refined, and compressed into pressure tanks to be transported. It was Jovia’s only trade, and the sole reason for its existence. With the outlaw of hydrogen refineries based in Terrestrial oceans, the supply had to move elsewhere. Jupiter was the largest store of hydrogen in the Solar system – a huge, ripe, red fruit.
From Industrial, the maglev line ran a circuit through the starship docks, the massive cradles where the hydrogen was shipped across the human domain. The three lines coalesced back into the centre, running up through Jovia’s centre once more, to complete the circuit in the Residence ring.
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« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2007, 07:38:45 pm »

OK, huge time jump, are they by chance going to find the time capsule thing that was burried?
Enjoyed it.
Didn't notice any mistakes but will reread later and check.
Keep up the good work.
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« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2007, 03:48:55 pm »

 This seems to ring echoes with previous versions but maybe that’s just the similarity in the job to be and the description of the locations. I can’t see any problems so keep going.

I think its unlikely that they will find the capsule something do with the fact that they are in Sol and not Centauri there is a four light-year distance between the two ( I think)
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« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2007, 04:55:34 pm »

OK, one question, is there something Im missing or something then, as I can't tell where they are?
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« Reply #10 on: May 13, 2007, 03:05:27 pm »

Did I mention that Jovia orbits Jupiter? If I didn't, I'm sorry - at this point in the scene I should have said that already.

And yeah, they do 'find the time-capsule' (even though it was only a time capsule in the figurative sense). It's a very big thing. And that wasn't the last you'll see of Peter Connor.

One stupid thing I just realised. I was working on the assumption that Jovia would have twise Earth's gravity (that's Jupiter's gravity at about a hundred kilometres out of its atmosphere). So Jovia needs to orbit pretty fast to counteract all its weight in that gravity. But then, if it was orbiting that fast, the gravity would be cancelled out anyway - meaning that it'd be pretty much weightless on the station.
I may need to rework the Jovia setting.

EDIT: Figured out what I'll do about Jovia. I'm going to rewrite this bit before I continue on. I'll hope to post something soon.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2007, 03:16:47 pm by Bakerman » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #11 on: May 24, 2007, 07:09:02 pm »

Okay, I ran into a little writers' block trying to rewrite the Jovia scene, so I'm going to diverge from the planned schedule and write some more Peter Connor. I really should do all this first, so I get a very clear picture of what's gone on in the past.
This scene is pretty much finished, though I'm not really happy with the length. Maybe some more description, or a little background. Cunningly inserted, of course Tongue. I'm thinking I'll just do all the Peter Connor past scenes first, but when and if I actually finish this, I'll be interspersing them with scenes from the 'present', to bring out the backstory and conflict more slowly. I'm also planning some really cool narrative tension in doing that, which you'll hopefully see soon (or at least before the end of the year  Wink *despair, which we need a smiley for*).

*Modified 15 June 2007

-----------------------

January 15, 2231 CE

The hills were beautiful. Peter Connor followed the line of the ridge with his eyes, picking out the tallest trees that were framed against the planetset glow. The green undulation rose, flattened, then dropped in a grey precipice nearly two hundred metres tall. Green flecks clung to the rock face, managing to exist even when logic said they shouldn’t. The brown-and-purple curve of the gas-giant Song dominated a third of the sky, radiating warm light absorbed from the distant sun. Peter’s eyes lingered on the little plants on the cliff as he patted the rail of the veranda, taking a sip of the drink he held. The smooth drink flute wasn’t cool, but the juice was icy – a welcome respite in the humidity of Odin’s evenings.
Peter Connor went inside. His house – if such a modest word could be used – was new, built to his own design upon his retirement from the Solar fleet. The irony of the thing had long worn off, him choosing to live on the planet that had started all the trouble. The bitter chuckles never escaped him when he thought of that last mission, the one that had opened this moon for settlement by humans. It was simultaneously his most shining moment and his darkest blemish. The former in the eyes of the human domain, and the latter in his mind’s eye – something that mattered far more to him.
He walked slowly through the house, leaving behind the glass-walled atrium and veranda. The residence was built inside the top of one of the taller hills in the area, allowing for spectacular views of two separate valleys. Peter Connor enjoyed both the alien vistas and the seclusion of the underground parts of the house. The whole house was lit in an imitation of Odin’s natural light – the dull, soft glow of the distant Alpha Centauri A, and the coloured reflected light from Song. Now the light was dimming as Song slipped below the horizon, and more artificial light replicating Sol’s spectrum illuminated the house from the floor. Peter entered his study, casting vague shadows on the ceiling, and sat on the ergolounge opposite the door. He inserted his fingers into sockets recessed in the chair’s arms, nerve signals from his brain intercepted and used to command his house processor. The lighting in the room shifted like water sloshing to one side of a container, lighting the wall behind the metre-wide screen that was now deploying from above. Sending commands as if he were playing a piano, Peter began his nightly routine. Flipping through layers and filters, he carefully scrubbed over the radio records for the day. He listened for that low murmur of noise that had been mumbling even before humans came to the moon and polluted its air with multitudes of entwined signals. He caught it – just a flicker on a long-range frequency, almost cancelled by noise from a rural worldnet repeater.
“There you are…” He isolated the signal, pinned it down, and noted its properties. Flipping through layers, he opened the chart he had compiled. Signal strength, frequency, wavelength, all noted down and averaged over time. He placed the new entry.
   “It’s getting weaker. Damn it, every day it’s weaker. That’s the only pattern there is, that every day it gets softer and softer.”
Peter Connor leaned back, closing his eyes for a moment. He hadn’t yet made his decision. He knew he’d eventually have to do something, something about this signal. Though he didn’t know what exactly he could do. What he should do wasn’t an issue yet. He sighed and flicked his home layer up. He had a message. Peter scanned it quickly and smiled.
Since his retirement from the fleet, he’d wanted to take a holiday. After sixty years of service, he’d saved up no small sum. It was significantly less after having the house built, but he still had enough for a good decade of sabbatical. By that time he may have found something else to throw himself into. For the moment, though, he was finding time for everything he had left when he joined the fleet.
A virtual keyboard materialised on the screen, along with two lime-green hands. Peter tapped out a reply, dictating as he went. The message was from a new acquaintance, one Emily Torres. They had met on the ship over from Forseti. She looked Asian, though you wouldn’t know it by her name – “My dad’s that kind of man,” was her explanation. She was part of a survey funded by the Alpha Centauran Commonwealth to catalogue, analyse and classify every plant species on Forseti and Odin. The same was being done with respects to the planets’ fauna, a comprehensive record to be built right from the start. It was an immense task. Emily had been working on Forseti, but was moved out to Odin when it was opened. There were upwards of twenty teams surveying in different areas, and they had barely scratched the surface. Odin was a greenhouse, and the plants it grew were so much more diverse than terrestrial varieties.
He pondered over the wording for a moment, then finished the message up and sent it. Emily was a good friend – she knew Odin well enough already, and she’d been here for the same time as he had.
“I need to get out more.”
He paused, and he suddenly knew what he had to do. But it wasn’t sudden. He had known all along, or should have. Sudden was the hardening of the will, the final decision that this was what he would do. What he should do, he would figure out later.
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« Reply #12 on: June 15, 2007, 05:22:09 pm »

Okay, I've done another scene. This is where I'm going to leave Peter Connor alone for now, and sorry about the cliffhanger Wink. Also added some changes to the last section - mostly in the bit about Emily Torres, but now I've added a new little thing to Peter's character - he talks to himself. Makes it more interesting Tongue.

------------------------

February 22, 2231 CE

The Land Rover slid over a patch of loam, spitting dirt and leaves. Peter Connor spun the lightweight steering wheel that had deployed from under the console. He grinned as the low, broad car fishtailed, narrowly missing a rocky outcrop of slate on the crest of the hill. He straightened the car out just in time to shoot over the ridge, the two-thirds gravity, suspension and soft ground collaborating to deaden the landing so much that he barely felt it. He moved the wheel in broad motions, letting the car’s processor swerve around the scattered trees for him. Even if this car had been wired for trafficnet control, a technology that was used almost universally on Earth and Forseti, he wouldn’t have let the car drive itself totally autonomously. He didn’t like machines having too much control – and besides, there were no roads where he was going.
This drive was the final leg of a journey that had so far taken five hours. A short drive from his residence just outside Kingswood, Odin’s capital, had taken him to the airstrip. From there it was just a three hour flight east to the farming town Hershpa. He hadn’t seen Hershpa before, nor many other farming towns. In Odin’s grassy equatorial regions, settlers had found the perfect climate and ecosystem to sustain crop growth of every variety – from terran cereals through Forseti-native tubers to Odin’s local varieties of edible fruit. The several-hundred farms collectively supplied fresh produce for most of the human domain’s population. Each farm was run more or less individually, but towns had sprung up in areas of isolation; they provided services for the farmers such as repairs for machinery, and a local hub for the collection of produce. Hershpa had been busy, constant activity and business supplied by the several farms that relied upon its presence.
Now this drive north. The four-lane highway had taken him two hundred kilometres, before dispersing into several of smaller roads. They, too, had ended in the back-of-beyond that was the northern farmland. Another hour further on, the farmlands had given way to wilderness. The last fifty kilometres took the longest. The Land Rover wasn’t able to do its full two-hundred-thirty kilometres per hour in the forest, increasing the journey’s length by fourfold. On the other hand, it was a more feasible speed at which to open all the windows – and he did so. The car skimmed across a river bed, mud still drying in the rising sunlight. The water would return just after nightfall, as Song’s gravity pulled the liquid across the planet’s surface.
Peter’s smile gradually faded as his destination drew near. The valley didn’t have a name; nothing out here did. The region he drove through was reasonably remote, above the equatorial farm belt and far away from the population centres of Kingswood and Taire. Even the ecological survey teams hadn’t pushed this far yet. Cresting one final hill, he touched the brake trigger and stopped the car.
The unnamed valley was one of the largest Peter had seen on Odin – from maps he knew it wasn’t the largest, but it was close. Where he was, it seemed as if the valley broadened into a basin almost two kilometres wide. The trees grew thick in its trough, so that the crimson forest undergrowth, the type that only grew when the light was blocked by taller flora, could barely be seen. He could smell the myriad aromas of Odin’s forest, as well as something else, something vaguely unpleasant. It made the air feel thicker, as if he was breathing smoke. As a precaution, he closed the windows and switched the air purifiers back on, replacing Odin’s air with something cooler and dryer.
He checked his position against the coordinates he had recorded every day since he had first seen this planet. Close. The radio emissions seemed to emanate from further up the valley – where it was narrower and the trees were taller.
Half an hour later, driving along the ridge and looking down into the valley, Peter found a spot to descend. The four-hundred metre distance took half a minute, even at such an angle. The bottom of the valley was heavily shadowed from the thick green canopy far above it. Crimson-leaved plants that thrived on heat rather than light formed a second canopy at chest height, making it all but impossible to travel. Another dry riverbed lay along the valley’s trough, a brown streak where no plants grew. He got out of the car to enter the valley, not wanting to destroy the virgin environment. He locked it after he got out, then wondered why. He was completely isolated. The short trek to the river bed, though not more than a hundred metres, took him ten minutes due to the thick vegetation.
He reached the river bed sweating heavily. The branded clothes he wore did nothing to alleviate the humidity, despite the manufacturer’s guarantee that the polymerised cloth would keep the wearer thoroughly refreshed. Peter wiped a forearm across his brow and turned on his corneo processor. Graphics appeared over his vision, superimposed on the jungle vista in contrasting colours. Manipulating a handgrip controller, he checked on the car’s position, and followed the route he had taken through the jungle. It would be a short walk along the river bed to where he needed to go. His destination, marked as a hazy, pink ellipse on his map, was within fifty metres of the river bed – give or take another fifty.
All this time he had put off thinking about what could be emitting radio waves all the way out here. His first thought had been humans, on the planet’s surface illegally. The first problem with that theory was that no starships had been near Odin before the Noctis. Of course, it could be the case that someone had built the ultimate stealth ship, but that was beyond speculation. And if anyone had engineered an ultimate stealth system, why use it just to sneak onto a planet that would be opened for settlement anyway?
In truth, he didn’t know. Which was what led him here.
The undergrowth seemed even thicker on the other side of the river, and the musty stench had gotten worse. Now he was so close, he woke his corneo again and tuned into local radio signals. It was there, faint but true. Eight days ago, the signal had dropped out of hearing to the radio listener at his house. Tuning in to listeners in Hershpa had shown him that the signal was still there, growing weaker by the day. Several months ago, a pattern had emerged in it – a rhythmic pulsing, as of a heart beating. Peter realised that the undulations had always been there, but on levels too minute to be detectable. Now the pattern was so strong that the signal was a constant beat. He could determine immediately where it originated from.
Twenty metres. He was twenty metres from the origin of the signal, and he could see nothing. The maroon foliage blocked all lines of sight, and above was just the green canopy, lying like a blanket over everything. The heat was stifling, combining with the smell to show Peter what claustrophobia felt like. He pushed on. Tight spaces had never scared him before.
Two metres, and nothing. He could actually see that far – there was a clearing thirty metres wide on the forest floor. The forest floor was devoid of the red undergrowth that pervaded it everywhere else, but the canopy still blocked the sky – trees near the hole had expanded their branches into the space to soak up more light, as much light as possible. Dead leaves and foliage had again carpeted the ground. The radio signal came from the middle of the clearing. Peter Connor stood on it, turned in a circle.
“It’s all come to this. Withholding information as an officer of the fleet, two years of patiently waiting and trying to figure out what to do, and there’s nothing here,” he said to the red plants and the green canopy. “Still, it solves the problem neatly.”
Taking one final stare around, he started to walk. It would be a long way back to the Land Rover. He stopped immediately, alarmed. His foot had sunk thirty centimetres into the surface loam, with no more pressure than a footstep. He withdrew the foot immediately and took two steps back, wary of a pitfall. The spongy mass expanded back a little, and there was a slithering sound. The radio signal pounded its rhythm in his head. Was it getting faster? Peter shut it off petulantly, then put his corneo to sleep as well. Getting down on his knees, he lifted a handful of loam from the depression he mad made, then another. The slithering sound again, and dirt began to slip away from his fingers. He plunged a fist in, and broke through the soil – feeling air. He almost lost his balance, but quickly recovered and started to excavate the earth from around the hole. More dirt fell through, and eventually he had uncovered a hole almost a metre wide. He had to pull out knots of roots that had infiltrated the earth of the clearing, even if no plants grew on the surface yet. He assumed that the roots had been what held the soil up over the hole. It looked deep – the light that made its way through the canopy wasn’t enough to illuminate the depths. The rough lip of the gap was what appeared to be flesh, as if a plant was growing up over the ground from the dark depths. It was smooth and cool, and a muddy green rather than the crimson of the other ground plants.
A thought struck him: he turned the radio listener back on. Pulsing noise filled his head, three times as strong as before. He swore aloud and turned the listener off. So this was it. Somehow, the radio signal was being broadcast from inside that hole. Brilliant, was the first thought that ran sarcastically through his head.

*

By the time he had been to the Land Rover and back, the sun was setting in the east, to be replaced by Song rising from the same horizon. Songrise, sunset. Especially the hike back, with the light dimming, had not been pleasant at all. The heat was rising, impossibly. The total rise would only be a few degrees, as Song passed overhead and washed down waves of infrared radiation onto its moons, but even so – it was hot enough already. Peter dropped his equipment on the ground by the hole. It was most of the contents of the emergency kit he kept in the Rover. As well as the usual items – cleanser, medical dialog, biotic dispenser – there was a length of carbon cable, a miniature rappel motor, and a handheld light. He would have preferred lamp corneos, but the emergency kit wasn’t for professional use – it was a last resort. He made some pretty wild trips in the Rover, sometimes. Whenever he needed to get away; Odin was perfect for that.
Fixing one end of the cable around a tree on the edge of the clearing, he fed the rest of it into the hole. A tiny, simple computer that ran the length of the cable told his corneo processor that the bottom of the hole was thirty metres down. He slipped one hand into the motor’s grip, wore the light on the other hand, and started down the hole. His shoulders were a tight fit through the restrictive entrance, but the cavity widened slowly, eventually giving him two metres all around. He shone the light around, hanging onto the motor with one hand. The thin, bright beam illuminated just a tiny portion of the cavern. Wherever he looked, he could see a smooth surface of that same muddy-green colour. Once, twenty metres down, his light passed over a tunnel in the wall, leading away from the main shaft down. Its cross-section was circular, almost perfectly so, and it looked to be two metres in diameter.
“Odd. Still, no more odd than a hole in the ground with a plant for walls. Wonder where it goes.” He resolved to come back later. “Huh. Got no choice but to come back later…”
He reached the bottom. Oddly, the floor was reasonably flat, whereas the walls of the shaft had been mottled with gradual undulations, like ripples in the otherwise-smooth flesh. Slipping the motor off his hand, he turned a full circle, slowly. The bottom of the shaft widened out, becoming a circular room half the size of the clearing overhead. All around the circumference of the space were depressions, as if someone had pushed a large ball into the edge between the wall and floor. There were eight of the recesses, each big enough for Peter to stand in comfortably. He examined one closely. The lower surface was patterned with ridges and troughs, and one large, flat plateau in the centre. But more worryingly, set into the side of the recess facing the centre of the room, was a small, plastic panel.
   “Whoah, no. No.” Peter stepped back hurriedly, as if the sight hurt his eyes. In a way, it did. “No way is that plastic.” He quickly gave up trying to fool himself. The suspicion, or dread, had been growing continually as he descended, and now it was confirmed.
   “Someone’s been here.”
There was a noise behind him.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2007, 05:25:03 pm by Bakerman » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #13 on: June 16, 2007, 10:21:52 am »

The way I see it Peter just discovered the time capsules buried earlier in the story. What will he find inside? Smiley

Reads well, can’t see any mistakes. Both bits are relatively quiet scenes compared to the usual combat scenes, a refreshing change. Keep working, you have a readership that is waiting for the next pit. Evil
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« Reply #14 on: June 16, 2007, 12:07:53 pm »

Yay Smiley. And yeah, I was writing a lot of combat before. But I decided this is more interesting for now - and it is much better for driving the plot forward. My combat scenes were really all just waffle because I didn't know where I was headed.
But trust me, there will be combat Evil - later.
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« Reply #15 on: June 19, 2007, 10:06:07 am »

My combat scenes were really all just waffle because I didn't know where I was headed.
But trust me, there will be combat Evil - later.
And this later is when?
They weren’t all waffle, some of the ones in the earlier versions moved the story along, though you right some where unnecessary.
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« Reply #16 on: June 19, 2007, 03:14:40 pm »

Later is as soon as I've revised the Hellcats' introduction on Jovia. I've written about three lines, so I'll wait and write a little more before I post it up Wink.
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« Reply #17 on: June 23, 2007, 04:39:39 pm »

This scene still isn't finished, but I want to get what I've written out there before going away to two weeks (sailing in Greece Wink). So here's the first part ofthe scene. No combat YET. Tongue
Anyway, I like this bit 'cause it's about the characters. I didn't really have a way to introduce them in the middle of a combat scene, so I figured I'd get it out of the way first, then chuck them into a fight.
I don't really give away the fact that they're members of the police, but I'm keeping it that way fr a reason - you'll only find out what they do when Steve starts giving the briefing. Basically, they are meant to be a grassroots police force - they know the people, they know their way around, they have contacts. As opposed to being the holier-than-thou arbiters of justice sitting in the clouds. Well, I mean, they're that, too, when they put on the armour - but they're more effective as a result of having local knowledge. This is supposed to contrast with the role of an army, a force that specialises in fighting other armies. The SCRA fights insurgents, because there are no longer any armies (background that I intend to introduce sometime).
Anyway, on with it.

-----------------------

October 6, 2321 CE

 Harrison Tailor looked over the tray laid with aguym fruit and selected two, dropping them in his shopping bag. They were fresh, carried on the granaryship from Odin just this morning. That was the reason Harrison chose this grocer, the distinctive mark of Odin-grown produce that adorned the shopfront. Twisting the bag shut and slowly pressing the air out of it, he made his way out of the shop, nodding to the proprietor as he passed. A little window at the bottom of his corneo vision informed him that the cost of the fruit had been deducted from his public account. The street was quiet at this time of the morning – Harrison rose habitually at six o’clock, and it was just past seven now. Sunlamps around the city were warming, illuminating the inside of the giant tube that was Jovia. In front of Harrison, the broad walking street curved up, making an immense ring in the distance, and coming down again behind him. The sunlamps placed through the city pointed straight up, providing illumination for those living on the other side of the cylinder. Harrison knew that the entire construction was spinning ponderously along its length, but there was no hint of that inside – if you ignored the fact that the world wrapped around over your head. The initial feeling of claustrophobia that had brooded over Harrison for the first few days he had been here had long since disappeared, but he still half-expected the buildings hanging above him to fall at any second. It was quite a contrast to the black, empty sky of Lune, where he had grown up – on the moon there was nothing but the beautiful Earthrise and an infinity of stars. Here there was a manmade sky with sunlamp stars.
It was a short walk upspin to his apartment. Most people who lived in Jovia stayed in similar residences in Jovia’s seven-storey-thick skin. Only five of those floors had apartments; there was one deck for maintenance and then there were only another few metres before you were in the cold void of space above Jupiter. Access to different apartment blocks were provided by small groups of three elevators, smattered around the city. The apartment was small, but Harrison had never needed much to live off. He tore open the bag of fruit with a strategically placed finger, and dropped them in the sink. He ripped the bag apart, dropping the tatters into the pots of the few plants he cultivated in his free time. The material would degrade by tonight, and fertilise the plants. He busied himself with washing the fruit and watering the plants.
There was a chime as someone touched the panel by the door. Erik stood there, leaning easily against the opposite wall of the corridor. Harrison smiled to his friend, gesturing with a still-damp hand to come in.
   “You coming in today?” Erik asked as he pushed off the wall.
   “Give me some time – it’s a quarter past seven! What time did you bounce out of bed?” Erik shook his head as Harrison closed the door.
   “Just up. Thought I’d drop ‘round here on my way in. As if you need any motivation to come to work.” Harrison held the team’s record for most number of hours spent at the station. Harrison shrugged as he found a towel to dry his hands.
   “What else is there to do with myself? I’m not a crazy scheming prankster like you, which frees up a little time.” Erik slapped him on the back.
   “My friend, find something. You don’t have to be a crazy scheming prankster to have a life.” With a grin he bounded back to the living room and touched the door open.
   “I’m gonna take a jog. See you soon.”
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« Reply #18 on: June 24, 2007, 05:46:08 pm »

Looks ok, one gets an introduction to Harrison but one does not know he is anything other than an normal guy that gets up at six, and has a friend drop by before work.
Cannot see nay problems, so good, the station sounds logical enough so I would find it disorientating.
Have fun in Greece.


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« Reply #19 on: August 29, 2007, 03:30:19 pm »

Okay, I wrote some more. I feel really guilty though, because I keep jumping around so much. This will come sort of after the exposition, just leading into the rising action. I'm introducing some characters, but this scene shouldn't introduce Jovia for the first time, so I let up with the description of it (which I'm sureyou've all heard a million times by now...).

If anybody's disturbed by how I keep jumping around within my own personal timeline of the story, please say so. I do feel bad posting another fragment that's not finished, but I think this is the only way I'll get anything finished. I'm not the type who can sit down and write ten thousand words in three days - I have to really feel like doing the scene. Grr. It's just lucky that I'll have enough scenes to jump around between that I can write something in any mood.
Meh.
Here it is.

-----------------

November 3, 2321 CE

   “Hate that bastard,” Juliet Haber muttered under her breath as the doors closed. If Philip was amused, he wasn’t going to show it, but kept his face straight-creased. Juliet walked the length of the large office, opening the small, oaken drinks-cabinet recessed into the wall in a corner, and pouted as she tried to decide between two bottles of dark liqueur. Finally choosing one, she slotted it into its receptacle and let the machine pour a glass for her.
   “A drink?” She glanced at Philip with the question, but the aide didn’t meet her brown eyes.
   “It isn’t me you should be asking that question, if you can forgive me, Ms Haber, but rather yourself, given the youth of the hour and the somewhat energetic schedule you have devised for the day.” Juliet shrugged and closed the cabinet. As the director of the Jovian Resource Trade Corporation, she was a busy woman.
   “Fine. You’re forgiven. It’s just that bloody man that makes me want to drown. In alcohol and seawater, before you ask, but given the absence of seawater, on this godforsaken flying toilet roll, I’ll have to make do.” She sipped the crimson drink, but made no sign of appreciation. “What’s my next gig?” The butler made no sign that he had acknowledged the question, but Juliet felt a buzz of pressure across her fingers, as if she was pressing them onto a coarse sander. “Special contact?” She frowned. Philip nodded.
   “That’s all you instructed me to record the entry as, Ms Haber.”
The two of them had been practising the tactile-communication method for as long as Philip had been her aide. Juliet had a less-than-perfect memory, a fact she would readily admit to anybody she trusted (or with whom she wasn’t in direct competition), but the game of politics, at the level she played, became a game of memory. Opponents often found her ability to recall almost any fact about them, with no use of her corneos, uncanny. What they didn’t notice was Philip standing out of view, virtual text scrolling across his eyes as he transferred the information to Juliet by touch.
   “Right. Well, I won’t need you for the next hour, then.”
   “Yes, Ms Haber.” He made his way out of the room, using a portal opposite the main doors, perfectly concealed among the pattern of the wood panelling that adorned the walls to just over head-height.
The office was Juliet’s masterwork of interior design, but she was content to let the knowledge that she had designed it remain as precious as that of her short memory. The large room was divided into several sections by a curving floor plan, within which there were no straight lines. The general movement was single inward spiral, the culmination of which was a small, circular lounge with her drinks cabinet. There was no desk, but half way through the office was an arrangement of low, comfortable seats that Juliet liked to think of as her work area. She did everything via her implant processor, refusing to have hard copies of anything. The décor up to head height was traditional, with dark wood panelling, perfectly moulded to the contours of the walls, and soft carpet that was snow-white without being radiant or distracting. Looking up, the ceiling was as grand as a cathedral’s, but made exclusively from scintillating blue-white metal scales. Pillars arched to the floor, interrupting the conservative furnishing. Often, when Juliet received visits from people she didn’t like – and there were many – she would activate the roof lighting, making the entire edifice shine with the radiance of thousands of tiny glowpoints. The effect was rather uncanny, as Philip and several others among her staff had attested.
She had just had them lit to full intensity, and finally turned them down, replacing the brilliant white light from the ceiling with softer natural light reproduced by the wall lamps. Her previous visitor was one Madeline Maguire, the Council representative for the United Off-Earth States. The woman had been insufferable following the States’ latest victory over JovRes. The feud between the corporation and the States had been simmering for over a century, pivoting on JovRes’s policy of strictly controlling all hydrogen trade. The main issue was the fate of the several independent stations that orbited Jupiter alongside Jovia, harvesting and refining their own hydrogen and often selling it to buyers who wanted discretion. It wasn’t the moral issue at all for Juliet Haber – every deal that went to the independents, JovRes missed out on profit.
The man she was meeting now, she hoped, would start to change all that.

As Simon Frost stepped off the maglev car at Jovia Central, he was found instantly. A microsecond gap in his implant processor’s shielding against the local network was enough. Warning impulses wormed through the circuits permeating Jovia’s structure, finding their way to the central processor in the Solar Critical Response and Assault barracks. The barracks was undermanned around the clock, being home to only twelve officers instead of the normal thirty-six. However, Jovia wasn’t a usual city – instead of the handful of three-squad hubs that a terrestrial city commonly had, Jovia had a single one-squad station. But it was sufficient. Due to the nature of Jovia’s settled population, crime was extremely low. The only crime committed here was in the flexible arrangements of its spaceport’s harbourmaster, and that was beyond the jurisdiction of the SCRA – and more often than not, beyond their knowledge.
However, as soon as Simon Frost’s processor registered, the six officers on duty were put onto full alert, pending further information. The squad leader, Guillaume Adrienne, activated a dozen civilian contacts he had, using their corneos and implant processors as avatars to analyse the crowds in Jovia Central’s plaza. Frost was a tall man, pale hair – and handsome, individuals within the government quietly acknowledged – so he should be easy to spot. Should.
But the breach in Simon’s security was fleeting, and he was good at his job. To all intents and purposes, he had never been in the Jovia Central maglev station, except for a fragment of implant processor signal. AV sensors never got a trace of him. But as they tried, nobody noticed the man behind him exiting the maglev car, glancing around, and making a beeline for the station’s exit. Terry Rowland emerged from the subterranean train hub, and smiled in the artificial sunlight.

-------------------------

To be continued... again...
« Last Edit: September 18, 2007, 07:42:00 pm by Bakerman » Report Spam   Logged

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