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?”

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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?

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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

First Contact (WIP)

(The Silence of Ancient Light, continued)

The aliens arrived in less than two hours.

Anna kept reminding herself not to think of them that way, that this was their planet and that she and Laxmi were the aliens. As Laxmi had told her, what now seemed a very long time ago, when they were still safe aboard Aniara. Keplerians, for lack of a better word, was how she would think of them.

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First Contact


This is it! The moment you’ve all been waiting for! What do the aliens from Kepler 62f really look like? And how will they treat our hapless marooned astronauts?

Oh, right, just like Anna, I have to remind myself, if we’re on their planet, we’re the aliens, not them. But you get my drift.

A reminder for all, if you want to read the story (for free!), all you have to do is click that link above, right here in this blog post. It isn’t going to charge your credit card, and it’s not going to download anything, nor pop up any ads or anything like that. It isn’t even going to redirect you to another website. It’s just going to take you to a static page on this website where the entire scene is available. And, all the scenes so far written leading up to this one are available there, too, so it’s nice and easy to read them in order, each one linking to the next at its end. Don’t miss out!

And another reminder, this is first draft material, destined for ultimate publication as a Kindle e-book and, if it does well enough, in paperback once all revisions and edits and proof-reads are complete. This is your chance to be my alpha reader, and absolutely feel free to comment and let me know what you think works, what you think doesn’t, what you would like to see more of, or less of, or even if you find a grammatical or typographical error. Or just comment and discuss ideas!

What ultimately gets published later will undoubtedly be different from what you read here, but this is where it starts, where the story idea is developed, the characters find their arcs, and the plot resolved.

I look forward to hearing from you!


header image credit: user:Pawel86 / pixabay.com under Pixabay License

Reef Passage (WIP)

(The Silence of Ancient Light, continued)

First light saw the makeshift trimaran glide smoothly across the calm lagoon. The orange and white checkered sail easily caught the morning breeze blowing across the low-lying atolls sheltering the inner waters, and the boat picked up speed as Anna steered toward the southern tip of the island.

She took one final look back toward the ruined shuttle and the beach camp which had been their home for the past few weeks. The shuttle seemed sad and forlorn, battered and canted at an unnatural angle in the shallow water. Hull panels Anna had opened in her attempts to repair the scramjet engines were missing, ripped away in the fierce storm, while others displayed obvious damage where wind-tossed tree limbs had smashed into the side of the craft. What sections were not dented and ripped were sandblasted to a dull grey and uneven finish.

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Reef Passage


When storms toss you broken tree limbs, you build boats with them. What else? And when aliens kidnap a crew member, you sail after them, even if it’s a big, bad ocean out there.

And if you’re a scientist, you never stop sciencing (I know that’s not a word, but it should be), even when the subject of your study is trying to kill you.

Laxmi and Anna have made the best of a bad situation, salvaging what they can and using storm wreckage to modify and upgrade their life raft into a sailing trimaran. The locals on Kepler 62f have taken Jaci with them, and now Laxmi and Anna must pursue them across an alien ocean.

But as they set off on the start of this perilous journey, Laxmi makes an observation about their environment. It seems a small thing.

Here’s a hint: it isn’t.


header image credit: user:dr.scott.mills / flickr.com under CC-BY-SA 2.0

Outfitting (WIP)

(The Silence of Ancient Light, continued)

The beach lay strewn with fallen trees, a bounty of choice from which to find three relatively straight and sturdy spars. Anna took her inspiration from the Keplerians’ own design, as she knew it was a good one. Lateen rigs had served ancient humanity well, from early days moving goods through Egyptian waters, to latter days on small boats for training young sailors. An easily handled rig, it would give them some modest upwind capacity using the materials at hand.

With plenty of climbing rope available, Anna and Laxmi soon had the mast stepped into the bottom of the raft and stayed forward and to either side. To avoid the need of a backstay, Anna rigged the port and starboard shrouds to pontoon handholds a meter aft of the mast step.

The shuttle’s emergency gear included five parachutes, just one of which provided more than enough material for a sail.

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Outfitting


Have you ever wondered how to turn an emergency life raft into a sailing trimaran? Well, if you ever find yourself marooned on a small island in the middle of a big ocean on an alien planet thousands of light-years from Earth, who knows? It might be just the skill to have.

Especially if the native inhabitants of that planet have made off with one of your crew members and left you with almost nothing with which to survive.

I will confess that way back when I first started writing The Silence of Ancient Light, I imagined a prologue scene with Anna, our protagonist, on Earth before the expedition begins. The scene involved Anna participating in a single-handed ocean race, navigating her sailboat alone across the Pacific, and yes, I meant it to serve as foreshadowing, as well as to provide some initial clues into Anna’s essentially introverted character. I dropped the scene before I ever wrote it, thinking it superfluous, but now I’m considering that it might serve a purpose after all, if nothing else than to explain just how it is that Anna knows how to build a crude sailboat and then operate it.

What do you think? Too much?


Header image credit: user:janrye / pixabay.com under Pixabay License