AGreetings, A2Zers everywhere, as well as to my flash fiction followers.  It’s April 1st, and no fooling, it’s the A to Z Challenge again.

Since I’m also doing Camp NaNoWriMo, to help me get through my writing schedule this year, I thought I’d take a theme of world-building, since one of the books I’m writing is the second in my Viridian System science fiction series.  The second thing I learnt about writing galactic-based science fiction – you don’t have to invent one world.  You have to invent a WHOLE LOAD of them.  Just in the first book, The Perihelix, my asteroid miners (based in the Viridian System) visited Bartelski, Balkh, Brahe, Farsight, and Nusa Dua and talked about Telemann, Febelroux, Tesla, Aldebaran, Corsair, Ulric, Paradisio and a dozen more.  I think I’m a glutton for punishment.  So the plan is to feature other worlds through the month of April – mine and other people’s.

The normal pattern for my blog is to have a general post on Mondays, Flash Fiction on Fridays, and a book review on Saturdays.  Other days anything can happen.  I’ve managed to get half a dozen interviews with other world-building authors out there. Various features have to fit in, like the #IWSG next Wednesday and the #Fi50 later in the month.  And to keep things straight, all Friday posts will be flash fiction of 500 or 1000 words, featuring one of my worlds, and all Saturdays will be book reviews featuring worlds beginning with the letter of the day.

So, to kick things off, here’s what was intended to be a 500 word flash fiction featuring Alpha Kenworthy, a world controlled by the Federation (see F), that crops up a lot in conversation in the books so far.  I just got carried away and did a more usual 1000 word story instead. This may be the incident referred to in Chapter 2 of the Perihelix.

The Appeal of Alpha Kenworthy

Lars Nilsson, otherwise known as the Swede, sat in the starting hoop with his flyer’s engines burbling behind him, hot and ready.  The Swede was hot, but not ready.  The Alpha Kenworthy race was a big prize, the only reason they’d risk visiting a Federation planet; well, the prestige overtook the shame of non-appearance. Flyers came from all backgrounds.  There had never yet been a risk to them when racing in another regime’s space. Lars glanced forward towards the front row of hoops, where ‘Big’ Pete Garcia hovered dead centre in his hoop, tuned in to his machine, ready to race; in the 2 hoop was the black craft of the Pavanian, Exo Madras.  The other side of Pete floated the green and white G’Naussian craft.   He could see the makeshift repair to the G’Naussian’s outer flange.  He doubted whether it would hold.  Satisfaction didn’t overcome Lars’s anger at the demotion to the fifth row of the grid. Lars shrugged.  He had a few seconds to clear his mind, or he wouldn’t overcome the disadvantage of his position, either.  He gazed into the whirling blue-green of his engine status screen and concentrated on focus.

So much so that he missed the start completely.

As the three starting behind him zipped past, he pressed the sinking feeling that he was an idiot firmly into his stomach, and let it dissipate along with the thrust into the seat as he finally let his flyer go. They could consider it his final protest.

Away under the arch at the end of the arena, he made a left turn, instead of the right that all the rest had taken.  The course had waypoints, not a track, so it was perfectly allowable.  The question was whether this last-minute choice was bad judgement or genius.  Pete was on the standard route.  They usually raced together, to protect each other from dirty tricks.  Today there would be no catching Pete up, unless Lars found a spectacularly fast alternative.  Alpha Kenworthy was rock and jungle at this line of latitude, and most flyers would be avoiding the jungle.  You never knew when some creepers or tendrils were going to catch your path and, at speed, they could cut like razor wire.  Lars and Pete had reckoned a line that might just be clear enough to risk – in an emergency.  To Lars, this was an emergency.

The twin gum-like trees he’d spotted as sentinels to the alleyway in the forest stood tall and proud at the edge of the grassland.  Aligned and holding his height mere metres above the ground, he tensed as the trees whizzed towards him; through and shifting down a dark green tunnel of vegetation, he twitched the controls left, right, and flipped ninety degrees and back, time and again, to slip through the gaps between trees and tendrils alike.  For a few seconds he was running blind, and then there was light, the Kenworthy sun reflecting off the marble cliffs they had to dive through to the waypoint in the centre.  The big question – was the tunnel entrance this side accessible?

Judging from the shriek of metal as he slipped from bright light to full darkness it was – just.  The flyer had adjusted its own path to compensate for the connection, and had augmented the display to allow Lars’ eyes to have full view ahead. He needed it.  Marble, limestone, they all grew strange pillars and posts within their cavernous openings, and he adjusted his intended line as rosy rumpled stone blocked his route.  Only a few further adjustments were needed before he emerged into the main cavern, the Cheddar Gorge, as it was called here, although the only reference he’d found to Cheddar was a form of cheese.  He spotted lights on walls ahead, and many more behind; he’d caught up, but not overtaken the field.  He joined the group to find the way out of the mountain, and reckoned he was now fourth or fifth, unless someone had got well ahead.

He broke radio silence: “Brevity.”

“Pinching,” was the reply.

These asteroid miners had their own shorthand for every occasion.  Lars had told Pete he was close to the front group, Pete replied he was pinched between other flyers.  In this tunnel all they could do was fly; Lars reckoned Pete’s was the second flyer ahead.  They took the right hand bend of the tunnel in a screaming stoop and emerged into daylight once more, skimming over the forest, lurching to the side to avoid flying creatures disturbed by their passage.  Now it was just a question of outflying the other contenders.

Ten minutes later, Lars swept into the arena and found his hoop a split second before the G’Naussian and Pete found theirs, the G’Naussian having flown across Pete on the last dive in, forcing him to ease off at the most critical moment.

“Objection: Stewards Enquiry” was repeated after the klaxon announcing all bets were on hold until the result was official.

“Who’s asked for a Steward’s Enquiry, for Sirtis’ sake.  This is a flyer’s race not a smirking tea party!”  Pete was as unhappy as Lars at the announcement.

They were even more unhappy after the final result was announced.  Lars was disqualified for taking an illegal line – “There is no such thing as an illegal line!” he protested in vain – and Pete had been disqualified for taking the G’Naussian’s line in the arena.  “He took my line coming over the stands, your honours,” had been his polite but emphatic response.

“You can appeal,” said the chairman of the stewards, smiling at them as he walked to the champagne room.

“He’s the sponsor, isn’t he?” muttered Pete.

“Yeah, and it’s G’Naussian champagne, isn’t it?”

They seethed all the way back to their spacecraft, where they opened a couple of beers and toasted their success.  Moral victory.  They’d been robbed.

© J M Pett 2016

Come back for more flash fiction, each Friday, all year round!

A is for the #AtoZChallenge #FridayFlash World-building Mash-up

37 thoughts on “A is for the #AtoZChallenge #FridayFlash World-building Mash-up

  • 1 April, 2016 at 3:03 am

    Hmm…comment didn’t take. At the risk of a duplicate–you always give me my Thursday night reminder to polish up my Friday post.

    Nice story–I do love Pete and Lars 🙂

    • 1 April, 2016 at 10:03 am

      I suspect that the Rafflecopter takes up too much loading time and the comments get dumped. If it continues I’ll have to remove it and execute plan B. When I work out Plan B I’ll tell you!

  • 1 April, 2016 at 8:43 am

    An exciting piece of flash fiction; I always enjoy your writing. Good start to the A-Z – and doing Camp NaNo as well. I am in awe!

    Ros, visiting from The Writing Desk (aspects of writing)

    • 1 April, 2016 at 10:05 am

      Thanks Ros. Stories every Friday 🙂 I must turn off my browser and start writing now!

  • 1 April, 2016 at 9:36 am

    Great start! Good ,I know with the rest of the challenge.

    • 1 April, 2016 at 9:37 am

      Good luck! How did that happen? Even for autocorrect it’s weird.

  • 1 April, 2016 at 11:53 am

    I’ve always wondered how writers of sci-fi and fantasy kept the worlds, planetary systems, cultures, species and the like separate. I think my head would explode! :p

    LuAnn (approx #374 on the list) @ Back Porchervations.
    (and one of co-host AJ Lauer’s #wHooligans)

    • 1 April, 2016 at 2:18 pm

      Yes, my head tries to explode, at which point I berate myself for not keeping my spreadsheet up to date. Must go and update it now!

  • 1 April, 2016 at 1:01 pm

    J here, stopping by from the #atozchallenge – where I am part of Arlee Bird’s A to Z Ambassador Team.
    April is here and I’m excited about it. Best of luck to us both on meeting our goals of posting and hopping to other blogs.
    My blog has a giveaway. There’s a bonus a to z challenge each day to encourage people to visit more stops.
    I’ve followed your listed social media.

    Excellent work with this. I feel like I’m “out there” with the character. Well done.

    • 1 April, 2016 at 2:19 pm

      Thanks, J 🙂 Good luck with your ambassadoring!

  • 1 April, 2016 at 1:11 pm

    Very nice. Enjoy the A to Z Challenge! I’m also a writer. Doing the Challenge for the first time so please forgive me if I do something wrong…

    I believe I’m supposed to introduce myself? I’m Julie. #1628 on the A to Z Challenge. Thesaurus Tyrannosaurus. Next time, I’m going to choose a theme that’s easier to spell.

    • 1 April, 2016 at 2:21 pm

      Hi Julie. Good luck with your first challenge – I think this is number five for me. You don’t have to introduce yourself as such, and your number will change as people drop out – but leaving your followback like your web address is a great idea.

    • 1 April, 2016 at 2:25 pm

      Thanks, Pam. It’s not a serial, and I’m not sure Pete and the Swede turn up again this month, although I’m busy writing their next full-length adventure. Four more stories from their universe, though. 🙂

    • 1 April, 2016 at 8:52 pm

      Yay! Hi Anna – nice to see you again 🙂

  • 1 April, 2016 at 4:44 pm

    It’s great to have a regular blogging schedule. I find it helps me stay organized. Enjoyed your first installment. See you for more.

    • 1 April, 2016 at 8:54 pm

      Thanks, Lee. I keep paring my blogging down at the start of the year, and by October it’s crept up again and I wonder why I’m so busy. See you soon!

    • 1 April, 2016 at 8:56 pm

      Thanks Melanie – come back next Friday – but come back any day for more fantastic worlds!

  • 1 April, 2016 at 7:39 pm

    Very interesting, Jemima. And I’m jealous of how well-scheduled your blog is. 🙂 Best of luck with the Challenge.

    • 1 April, 2016 at 8:57 pm

      You know what they say – the best thing about a plan is that you can change it!

    • 1 April, 2016 at 8:58 pm

      Good luck with Camp NaNo, Sydney – and with the atoz too!

  • 1 April, 2016 at 9:23 pm

    You are far more ambitious than me doing the A to Z as well as Camp NaNoWriMo. Good luck to you! 🙂
    @dino0726 from 
    FictionZeal – Impartial, Straightforward Fiction Book Reviews

    • 1 April, 2016 at 9:36 pm

      Well, one is work, and the other I said I wasn’t going to do because I had too much work to do. So at least it makes me concentrate!

      Thanks for visiting, Diane. 🙂

  • 2 April, 2016 at 5:24 am

    Good luck fellow challenger! I had fun reading your fiction, I’m writing 26 love stories on mine! Let’s keep it up!

    • 2 April, 2016 at 1:03 pm

      Good luck with your love stories, Natalia!

  • 2 April, 2016 at 7:14 pm

    Kudos to your flash fiction…I enjoyed it! Continue best wishes for the A to Z Challenge!

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