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

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

Damage (WIP)

(The Silence of Ancient Light, continued)

They found the shuttle in bad shape. They had seen from across the lagoon that it was no longer sitting level in the shallow water, and now they could see the reason why. One of the landing struts canted at an angle implying significant damage to the undercarriage, and another had snapped off completely. The hull appeared battered where tree limbs had struck it during the storm, and a spiderweb of cracks glazed the cockpit window. The airlock door hung open, the interior dark beyond.

Anna’s heart sank when she saw the extent of the damage. She had entertained hopes of repairing the shuttle enough to fly it closer to the space elevator, if not actually back into orbit, but at first glance this now appeared beyond her available resources. Without a proper shipyard, or at least Aniara’s maintenance facilities, the shuttle would likely never fly again.

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Damage


Alien visitors have come and gone, and before that a major windstorm, leaving our marooned explorers camp and shuttle in terrible shape. Anna and Laxmi still don’t know whether Jaci is alive or dead, in hiding or kidnapped by the aliens. With options running out, they investigate the wreckage of their shuttle, once their only hope for escaping this planet and getting back to their starship in high orbit.

Thank you for alpha-reading my first draft. No obligations, of course, but if you’d care to leave a comment, feedback of any kind, you are more than welcome. Otherwise, stay tuned for the next scene, in probably about a week’s time.


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

Fire in the Dark (WIP)

(The Silence of Ancient Light, continued)

Darkness fell on the steep-sloped jungle with near the speed of turning out a light. Laxmi and Anna descended the cliff as rapidly as they dared in fading twilight, and by the time they retrieved the rope, shouldered their packs, and hacked their way back into the brush, the leafy green canopy turned black with night. Not a star penetrated to guide their way, and the twin moons were yet both below the horizon. The powerful beams of their headlamps created a circle of light only as far as the next set of creepers and fronds, and half a meter beyond the reach of their knives darkness ruled the forest.

“Are you sure this is the way we came?” whispered Laxmi. “I don’t remember it being this thick.”

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Fire in the Dark


Anna and Laxmi now have proof that they are not alone on Kepler 62f. Having emerged from the ancient cave ruins of what appear to be a long-lost alien civilization, they see a primitive boat approaching their island from the ocean. They still cannot reach Jaci on the radio, and they are hours away at best from returning to the camp.

With night falling quickly, they descend through the jungle slopes of the mountain, not knowing what they will find.

As always, feedback is welcome! Please remember, this is a first-draft, and you, dear reader, are my alpha reader. Help me improve the story! Perhaps you can even influence what will happen in future scenes, not yet written.


Header image credit: user:Demon989 / wikimedia.org under CC BY-SA 4.0

Indigo Ocean (WIP)

(The Silence of Ancient Light, continued)

Anna opened her eyes to gloom, dimly lit from one side. She lay on her back on a hard, rough surface, and briefly wondered who had hammered a chisel through her forehead. Had she cracked her head against the ground? Had she fallen? She could not clearly remember, and for a moment remained uncertain about her whereabouts. Her head hurt monstrously, she was certain of that, and her stomach…

She turned to her side and retched, dry-heaving her already empty stomach. The effort caused a sharp pain in her chest, and when the heaves stopped she groaned. The pool of light to her side shifted and moved, then a bright light shone on her face. She closed her eyes against the glare.

“Anna. Anna, it’s me, Laxmi. I’m here. You’re safe.”

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Indigo Ocean


After a short hiatus — if you’ve followed the blog, you know I had something of a family emergency which distracted me from writing for a while… well, except for writing about the family emergency — I have returned to these pages to continue the story of Anna, Laxmi, and Jaci. When last we left our intrepid explorers, they were deep into an alien cave, examining artifacts of a long-vanished civilization, when something caused Anna to lose consciousness. What was it? What happens next? And where is Jaci in all of this?

You know what you have to do if you want to find out. And, as always, feedback is welcome!

Until the next scene…


Header image credit: Christy Miller / pixabay.com under Pixabay license