By the time you read this, I should be at the 75% mark if I am going to finish the book by the end of the month. I think I will, although at the start of the week, I wondered whether I had enough story to fill it. Then I remembered that, well, finding the stuff Pete and the Swede are looking for is only one half of the messages from those paintings they bought in the gallery. So I think I’ve got enough story.
I keep thinking it’s not very exciting, though. Then again, it’s not really my style to have a lot of spacefights and stuff like that. Talent Seekers had more violence in it than any of my other books, although nowhere near as much as the Monster Hunter books I’ve been reading recently. Bravo Victor got away with a bit of shouting, really. I think that there are plenty of scifi books around without much strife, we’re just a bit conditioned by Star Wars and by Star Trek battles. The main thing is to get the draft done. I can always spice it up later!!
I hope your July is going well. Watch out for the Giveaway I’m launching on 1st August.
This week’s excerpt: it contains a bit of a story recap, so you’ll know everything if you read this!
Lars and Tycho
Tycho Grazki limped across the bridge just as fast as someone with no impediment. He was a grizzled version of his son, a little bent in the shoulders, but still strong. He stared Lars in the eyes and held out a massive hand. Lars accepted a bear-like grip.
“Lars Nilsson! I recognise you, of course. How is Pete?”
“I last saw him entering Farsight, must be seven weeks ago now, sir. He was well.”
“And how are you two inseparable orichalcum miners separated?”
“By fate, sir, and with your help maybe not for too much longer.”
“Good! Come with me – we shall discuss this in depth.”
Lars followed Tycho through the ship. As with all freighters, the corridors and living spaces were fully functional but undecorated. Even Lars’s mining craft had a smooth layer of inner skin, whereas the freighter’s third layer of blast protection was visible, held by its struts with no covering layer. It felt like walking through a ship under construction, thought Lars.
“This is the galley!” Tycho waved a hand expansively as they passed through. “Grab something to eat!” Lars’s stomach grumbled and he took Tycho at his word, realising he’d left Nusa Dua at dinner time, nearly six hours ago now. He grabbed a dish and ladled some sort of stew into it, and some flatbread to go with it. Tycho helped himself to some type of pastry, and poured two tankards of beer. He took them through to a room behind the galley and sat at a workstation in the centre.
“Sit! Eat!” he waved Lars to the other side of the workstation, and idly played with some of the controls there while he watched Lars tuck in.
“More?” he asked, as Lars’ plate started to clear.
“No, thanks, but this is delicious!”
“That one is always popular. Comes around every week, maybe sooner when we have fresh vegetables.”
He grinned at Lars, who couldn’t help but grin back. Was this normal for life on the Doris Jury, or was it something about the Grazkis – or the natives of Brahe?
“So, Lars Nilsson, free man masquerading as Erik Zelezny under an Imperium chip, what brings you to my second-favourite wife?”
Lars paused, taking a drink of the excellent brew, and wondering where to start.
“Pete told me you rescued him when he escaped from Corsair, taught him his letters, and got him into the Academy,” he opened. Tycho nodded.
“We met there, at the Academy. Room-mates, then next-door roomies. Graduated, split up, had some adventures, met again, became asteroid miners.”
“Became successful orichalcum miners,” Tycho inserted.
“Gained a reputation, it seems, for being able to find orichalcum when others can’t.”
“Can get us into trouble.”
“Someone wanted something found, something made of orichalcum.”
“They made you an offer that you, with all your wealth, couldn’t refuse.”
“Yeah, well – what sort of offer do you think that would be?”
“Knowing Pete alone, something related to his honour, or the welfare of others, or possibly blackmail. Meeting you, add in simple kidnap.”
”I wouldn’t do it for the others, you think?”
Tycho gazed at him for a few minutes, stroking his beard. “You would resist blackmail, I think.”
Lars smiled. This man knew Pete all right, and he felt comfortable with Tycho’s assessment of himself.
“It was kidnap,” he said, “but not before Pete and I had been sent some messages, or clues, in an unlikely way, that led us into a trap.” Lars considered the nature of the trap on Bartelski. “I’m not sure whether the whole thing was set up, or whether they realised we would be drawn there for a real purpose and so set the trap there.”
“There is a famous oracle on Bartelski.”
“She gave us some messages,” Lars continued, “then we were snared by OMD, and set off to Mbeya to find something only we could find, or so they said.”
“Because of the orichalcum?”
“Yes. And we found it. Pete has this sensitivity to it, although it’s best if we work together.”
“What was it?”
“I never saw it – we got it out of a hole in the wall that was booby-trapped, as with all the best ancient passages, you know the stories. It was wrapped in oil-cloth. Our captors took it from us. Then we dashed off to Farsight. They got us to work out where to look, we generally thought of looking in ancient sites. I’m not sure why now, I think Pete suggested it. The Fed guy gave us disposable chips to swallow for going through immigration on Farsight. Pete’s worked fine – mine set off some sort of alarm and I was held back. The others went on. I don’t know where they went or what they found.”
“Or where they are now?” Tycho asked.
“Er… “ Lars looked sideways at the consoles around them, realising that Tycho’s back room was a duplicate bridge. “I hope no-one’s listening to us.”
“Your secrets are safe with me. Pete’s have been safe for years. Even the ones he doesn’t know yet.”
Lars took a deep breath and carried on. “I was kidnapped and taken to Nusa Dua. My kidnapper spent most of the time trying to persuade me to join him in the Imperium Senate.”
“But you escaped thanks to some telepathic beings who reprogrammed your chip and got you on a shuttle to Telemann just as we were leaving.”
“That’s about the size of it.” Lars stopped. “How do you know about the telepathic beings?”
“They really are very clever. Meet Cariad.”
Tycho waved to a tiny tree in a shallow glazed pot under a broad-frequency light in one corner.
Hello, it said in Lars’ head. Yfani is pleased the plan worked. I pass on greetings from your friends in Viridian too.
(c) J M Pett 2014