Reunion (WIP)

(The Silence of Ancient Light, continued)

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Anna stepped back from Jaci, still holding his arms, and looked into his eyes, smiling into her own. She wasn’t too sure about the beard, but it did give him a rugged mountain man appearance. The babble of avian voices around her rose in volume and pitch, and light feathery touches pressed against her legs. She took a deep breath, broke from Jaci’s gaze, and looked around her.

The small avians, the children, who had accompanied Jaci through the crowd now pressed in close to all three human visitors. The excitement in their demeanor was evident as they hopped from foot to foot and squawked at each other, at Jaci, and at Laxmi and Anna. Jaci laughed, reached a hand down to be taken under a juvenile wing, and gestured to Anna and Laxmi to do the same. Anna hesitated, then reached out her own hand, and quickly she found it tucked in tight between wing and avian body. The small bird-like juvenile squawked and tugged, clearly impatient to lead her somewhere, and she let herself be guided, along with the others, through the crowd and toward the cliff face.

Anna looked back at the pier and the trimaran that had been her home for the past two weeks. The sailors were wasting no time as they loaded bale after bale of fish from belowdecks up onto the pier, and a line of shoreside avians carried the bales toward the waiting cliffside elevators. Standing on the outrigger, gruff and grizzled, his scar bright against his dark feathers, Gamma supervised the operation silently. Perhaps sensing Anna’s gaze, he looked up and caught her eye, but his impassive expression did not alter, and after a moment he returned his attention to his sailors and docksiders.

What lay behind that inscrutable gaze? Anna wished she could have talked with the old bird, but the gulf between them was hardly less than the depths of space between their worlds.

Read more at

Reunion

(1,784 words; 7 min 8 sec reading time)


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After a busy month (some travel involved — see my Instagram feed), I’m back with the next scene, and what’s more, the kickoff to a new chapter. At the end of our last scene, and of Chapter 5, Anna and Laxmi are finally reunited with Jaci, who appears to have been living quite happily among the avian denizens of Kepler 62f. What happened to him in the meantime? What has he learned? They have much to talk about!

The tension for our heroes ratchets down slightly from the past scenes — they need a bit of a break — but they’re not out of the woods yet, nor off the planet, and there are still plenty of surprises in store. For the moment they’re no longer in danger of immediate death, but they still have no idea how they are going to get home.

Jaci also gets a chance to show off a little in this scene. He’s felt a bit like a bump on a log for much of the voyage since arriving in the Kepler 62 system, but now he finally gets to demonstrate why he was picked for this mission in the first place. You’ll see what I mean when you read the scene.

As always, please leave a comment and let me know what you liked and what you didn’t!


header image credit: Johannes Plenio / pixabay.com under Pixabay License

Changing Course (WIP)

(The Silence of Ancient Light, continued)

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Twice more the avians fished over the ensuing week, but each time it was clear to Anna their hearts were not in it. Understandably, the divers were hesitant to go into the water, and when they did they stayed quite close to the boat. As a result, the hauls were but a fraction of what they pulled in the day of the octopoid attack. Beta and Gamma argued over the fishing, but who was taking which side, and what were the sides anyway? Anna supposed that one pushed for more aggressive fishing, the other for more restraint, and neither seemed happy with the compromise.

There were no more attacks, however, and in between fishing episodes most of the crew remained idle.

Early on the morning six days after the attack, Beta squawked an order and the crew jumped to stations. Laxmi leaped out of the way of a pair of rushing sailors and found herself a spot on deck where she would not be run over or bumped aside.

“What’s going on?”

“We’re changing course.” Anna pointed out the sailors taking up slack on lines strung through blocks on the port side of the boat, while others to starboard stood ready to let loose on their side. “We’re tacking. You might want to hold on. And duck.”

Read more at

Changing Course

(1,434 words; 5 min 44 sec reading time)


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First off, you may have noticed the little insert just above where I put the word count and estimated reading time of the linked scene. This is the first time I have done that, and I mentioned in the announcement blog post for the previous scene that I was thinking about it. What do you think? Good idea? Bad idea?

Changing Course is indicative of more than just turning the boat to a new direction. There is a bit of a different feel, a different tone for this scene compared to many of the recent scenes, which I am sure you will pick up on. I also estimate this is about the halfway point for the story, though of course that could change as the back half develops (see what I did there? I swear it was unintentional!). Not to say that our heroes are out of danger! Oh no, things could be about to get far worse…

What elements keep coming up again and again in the narrative? It’s probably not hard to determine where Anna and her crew are going after this. I promise you, however, that there is a major plot twist (!!) coming up when they get there.

Please let me know in the comments what’s working for you, and what isn’t. Otherwise, see you at the next scene!

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header image credit: user:nir_design / pixabay.com under Pixabay License

Nightwatch (WIP)

(The Silence of Ancient Light, continued)

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That night, Anna could not sleep. Much weighed upon her mind, not least the disturbing death of the avian sailor at the hands — sorry, tentacles — of whatever sea creature it was they had encountered. The mood of the entire crew was obviously somber, their joy at the bounty of the catch shadowed by the loss of their crewmate.

She rolled out of her hammock and found her way up on deck, careful not to disturb the other sleepers. The crew mostly slept the entire night through, more hours than a human required, with just a minimal number on watch to guide the vessel through the dark. Anna supposed they considered fishing strictly a daylight activity, or perhaps they had caught their quota and now just wanted to get home.

She could understand that. She just wanted to get home, too. At this point the mission appeared an abject failure, and living to tell the tale remained her only interest. She knew Laxmi, and Jaci too if he was still alive, might feel otherwise…

Read more at

Nightwatch


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Will Anna, Laxmi, and Jaci ever find their way home? Is Jaci still alive? And what was that tentacled thing?

At least Anna is able to find a few moments of peace and quiet, gazing at the stars, to ponder her fate. Things have been a little hectic lately, after all. It would be easier if she could talk to the avians, but that seems out of reach for the moment. Although there perhaps may be some small amount of understanding….

Readers, I have a question for you. Would you find it helpful if I posted word counts, or the average reading time (or both), for each scene? The scenes have been mostly in the range of 1000 to 2000 words, averaging right in the middle around 1500 words. If you knew in advance that a scene was on the longer side, or shorter, would that make you more or less likely to read it? I realize, if you’ve been following along from the beginning, that you’re probably reading through each scene anyway, so knowing in advance likely won’t make a difference to you, but what do you think it might do for new visitors to the site? Of course, jumping right in at the middle would probably be confusing, so perhaps it really doesn’t matter.

As a for instance, this current scene is 1,093 words (so on the shorter end of the spectrum), and Scrivener, my composition program, tells me it should take 4 minutes and 22 seconds to read (that’s very precise, though not necessarily accurate).

Let me know what you think in the comments. I’m undecided on this idea.

Until next time!

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header image credit: user:7645255 / pixabay.com under Pixabay License

Denizens of the Deep (WIP)

(The Silence of Ancient Light, continued)

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Laxmi and Anna soon picked up on the shipboard routine. They rose in the mornings with the sun, ate meals with the crew, and otherwise tried their best to stay out of the way. The previously spear-wielding fishing crew, now that no strange alien boat presented itself, put away their spears and melded in with the sailing deck crew, so apparently all were interchangeable. Anna had trouble recognizing individual avians from one another, but Laxmi soon had many of them identified by distinguishing characteristics.

“That one there, with the circlet of feathers on his head? He’s clearly the leader, the captain. I’m calling him Alpha. Then those two, that one beside Alpha, and the other currently up on the foredeck, directing some work up there: those seem to be his primary deputies, or lieutenants, or deck bosses, I suppose. The one beside Alpha, with the grey streak in his feathers across his head, he’s Beta. And the one on the foredeck, who has a scar across one eye, he’s Gamma. Then there’s the cook, who seems to also command a lot of respect from the others. He’s probably next in line for importance among the crew, so I’ve designated him as Delta. For now, of course. There are only so many letters in the Greek alphabet, so eventually I’ll have to come up with a better system for naming them.”

“You don’t think eventually we can just ask them what their names are?”

Read more at

Denizens of the Deep


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So, humans can eat avian food, mostly, and sometimes it’s pretty good (fried fish! so apparently this ocean has fish), and sometimes… well, read on to see what Anna thinks of the breakfast they’re served.

It appears their captors — or rescuers? — are the Kepler avian equivalent of deep sea fishermen. Or fisherbirds. Neither Anna nor Laxmi are entirely sure of the appropriate term here. They use tools and build ships, and they have language and culture and structured society, so they would appear to meet the definition of an intelligent species, though they seem pretty far from space-faring technology. Are the avians the builders of the ring station? If so, what happened in the 1200 years since broadcasting the signal received on Earth?

They may be fishermen, but they also carry spears, so perhaps all is not as peaceful and serene upon the oceans of Kepler 62f as might at first appear. Are factions among the avians at war with each other? Or is there something else they fear? Are they the apex predator of their world?

More importantly, from Anna’s point of view, can the avians help them find Jaci? And will they? Laxmi may be in her element, studying alien biology, but Anna feels no closer to finding a way off this planet than before, and perhaps even farther from it.

Stay tuned. The next scene is already written, so expect publication within the week. Meanwhile, please enjoy (and comment upon!) Denizens of the Deep.

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header image credit: Stefan Keller / pixabay.com under Pixabay License

Sea Dreams (WIP)

(The Silence of Ancient Light, continued)

The sun slid down the turquoise sky until it kissed the ocean and sank beneath the waves, spreading its red-orange glow in a wide line across the horizon and lighting up the last retreating clouds from the morning’s storm. Would there be a green flash, Anna wondered? And if there was, would she even notice it against an already green-hued sky?

She lay back on a pile of sacks, if not of burlap then she could not tell the difference, though she had no idea what filled them. A little scratchy, but relatively comfortable. After another examination, and tighter wrappings, Laxmi gave her strict orders to remain still, not to move at all, and Anna was quite happy to comply. The pain now reached all around her midriff, but as long as she didn’t do more than barely lift her arm it remained manageable. The avians seemed to understand that she was injured, so they became quite accommodating. From her position she had a good view over the starboard side of the boat, and with the enforced lounging she had nothing better to do than watch the sunset, and think.

After the initial unpleasantness, the avians treated them both well, even courteously. Perhaps they felt contrite after sinking the raft?

Read more at

Sea Dreams


Things just keep getting worse and worse for our hapless heroes. Just when they think they’re making progress, they finally meet the aliens of Kepler 62f, and the aliens promptly sink their boat.

That’s one way to welcome visitors to your planet, I suppose.

The avian-like aliens do, however, “rescue” Anna and Laxmi, who are now guests — or prisoners, the difference seems rather minor — on their vessel, having lost almost everything. Where will they go from here? What will they eat? Can humans even eat avian food? That remains to be seen.

Read on! And do drop me a comment if you like what you read. Or even if you don’t.


header image credit: user:Walkerssk / pixabay.com under Pixabay License