Chapter 9 and “An Open Door” (Beta/WIP)

(The Silence of Ancient Light, continued)

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Kepler 62f’s larger moon hung low over the eastern horizon, following the planet’s sun rising high into the turquoise sky. Gentle waves lapped at the sloped stone roof and washed against the stern of the wrecked trimaran, pulled up onto the rooftop out of harm’s way. A pile of meager belongings, retrieved from the boat, sat on the roof: a knapsack of food, a solar charger, a pair of handheld tablets, and the two e-suits, neatly folded with helmets sitting atop them.

Anna sat beside the pile and looked out at the water, at the broken rooftops and spires of the ancient city pushing their way above the waves, structures she had at first thought to be rocks and reefs, worn down by the ages and the frequent storms of this world. How far had the sea level risen here? How deep down were the streets and avenues these people had once walked? She could not tell.

She turned her gaze upward, following the line of the gleaming space elevator cable, reaching far into the heavens until it dwindled out of sight. The sun was near its noon zenith, so even with Kepler 62’s dimmer light she had to shield her eyes against the brightness of its light, and she could not make out the orbital ring at the elevator cable’s other terminus. Would this millennium-old artifact still work? She knew it was doubtful, but she had pinned their hopes on it, and now they were here. Only one way to find out. She turned and dropped her gaze to the building wall behind them, and the elevator’s base just beyond it.

Read more at

An Open Door

(2,483 words; 9 min 55 sec reading time)

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A while back I mentioned something about how the menu structure on the website, breaking the story down into chapters and scenes, was becoming unwieldy, at least for my 13″ laptop screen. Even more so on a mobile device! So, that is now done. Have a look, you’ll see that under Works in Progress / Alpha Reads and then The Silence of Ancient Light, there are now two entries for Part One and Part Two. Part One has the first six chapters, and Part Two has the rest of what I’ve written so far (which is to say, chapters 7 and 8 and the first scene of chapter 9). Now, I should warn you that the divisions of the chapters into parts is somewhat arbitrary, more around neatly organizing the menu onto the web page that organizing the structure of the story. If and when this story makes into a finished novel format, these part divisions are unlikely to remain with it.

So, with that out of the way, welcome to Part Two, and the beginning of Chapter 9!

When last we left our heroes, they had just shipwrecked (again!?) upon the island of Ar-Makati, the forbidden island that is also home to the thousand-plus-year-old disused and possibly ruined space elevator. The space elevator which Anna is holding out as their best hope of getting back into orbit and thus finding a way to return to their starship. Clearly they have some rather large hurdles to overcome to make all this happen, but just as clearly their next order of business is going to be to find a way into the interior of the ancient buildings of this island.

And so that’s what they are now setting out to do. The only problem is, almost everything is underwater. But come on! These people crossed twelve-hundred light-years of interstellar space to get here! A little water is hardly likely to stand in their way, right?

As always, I welcome your feedback, both on the structure of the website as well as the story itself. Tell me what you like! Tell me what you don’t like, too.


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A Light Upon the Sea (WIP)

(The Silence of Ancient Light, continued)

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Grey waves rolled under grey skies, and the small boat rolled northward with them. The human crew learned their Kwakitl stowaway’s name, Ca-Tren, and Ca-Tren seemed eager to prove her usefulness aboard. Despite her youth, it quickly became clear that Ca-Tren knew the boat’s systems well, and she proved to be quite a good sailor. Growing up in a seafaring community would do that, Anna surmised.

Ca-Tren also impressed the humans with how quickly she seemed to pick up on their verbal instructions, not waiting for the tablet’s translation before carrying out a task. Jaci ascribed it to being a fast learner of languages, while Anna thought it more likely due to Ca-Tren’s knowledge of the boat, knowing what’s needed before being told.

“A bit of both, probably,” Laxmi concluded.

The hours rolled on toward mid-morning, and the southeast trade freshened, quartering around more southerly as the gusts grew stronger. Fragments of cloud, torn from the overcast above, whipped from west to east high overhead, while the southward skies turned ominously dark. The prevailing southeast swell gained a southwest component, taller and steeper, and the small boat surfed down the northeastern faces of the waves as they caught up and rolled under them.

Anna and Ca-Tren went forward together, and wordlessly they reefed the sail, lowering the gaff to reduce its height and lashing the lower quarters to the boom, while Jaci struggled with the tiller to keep the waves to the aft port quarter.

“What is it with these storms always finding us?” Laxmi complained once all were back in the cockpit. She turned and looked aft at the oncoming rollers and blackening sky.

Read more at

A Light Upon the Sea

(2,539 words; 10 min 9 sec reading time)

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Kepler 62f, you’ll recall, is a waterworld, a planet of mostly ocean, with scattered chains of islands strewn like pearls across the deep blue. Yes, as Aniara approached the planet, Anna’s crew did spot some small continents, or perhaps just very large islands, but the total landmass of this planet’s surface is a very small fraction, and much like Earth’s Southern Ocean, that leaves an effectively unlimited fetch for winds and waves to build. So there are a lot of storms.

Mostly, though, these are not huge hurricanes, rather moderate cyclones, quick to appear, and just as quick to disappear. Sometimes as well a storm is not entirely unuseful, especially if it’s sitting right over the top of those who are looking for you when you don’t wish to be found, while you ride it out at the edge.

Anna, Laxmi, Jaci, and their stowaway Ca-Tren, who may be as much guide as she is guest, are desperate to evade the Orta, but just how far can they get in their ancient fishing sailboat when the adversary has high levels of technology at their command?

As always, I welcome your thoughts, comments, and suggestions. One such recently had to do with the scene titles. I must admit that for the most part these titles are afterthoughts, since after all, how many books have you read where each scene has its own title? However, I am trying to give a bit more thought to these titles going forward. They are, after all, representing the work on the website, and if ever I hope to attract readers to an eventual book, first I must attract them to this site. Tell me what you think! How would you have titled some of the earlier scenes? How would you title this scene?


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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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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.


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Red Sky at Morning (WIP)

(The Silence of Ancient Light, continued)

Gentlemen never sail to weather, or so went an old saying, its origins lost to Anna now, but women never fear to do so, she added to it. At best, she was able to keep the wind just forward of the beam, but no better, and even so she could determine from the inertial compass that they made considerable leeway. Without the compass, however, there would have been no means by which to tell just how much their craft slipped sideways for every kilometer gained forward.

A sleek racing machine the converted life raft was not.

Read more at

Red Sky at Morning


Laxmi and Anna have left the relative safety of their island atoll upon which they were marooned, setting sail across the alien ocean of Kepler 62f on a makeshift trimaran converted from their orbital shuttle’s inflatable life raft. If this seems foolhardy, it probably is, but they are on a mission.

Kepler 62f is inhabited after all, and the locals have kidnapped their crew mate, Jaci. Now Anna and Laxmi must give chase in hopes of rescuing their friend.

Of course it’s not going to go well.


header image credit: pxhere.com under CC0 Public Domain