PDA

View Full Version : Sci-Fi WIP



AlexBlack
February 8th, 2012, 06:08 AM
I finally decided to share this. This is something I'm working on. Well, it's a rough draft of a first chapter, dominated mostly by dialogue. The dialogue helps me convey the story through the characters, but I'm planning on adding a lot more narrative as well. Any suggestions on what to add or take away or simply change would be greatly appreciated. Feel free to brutalize this work with honesty, because I haven't even polished it one bit. Don't be afraid to criticize it, constructively.





EDIT: This did not post properly. Working on fixing it.

AlexBlack
February 8th, 2012, 06:09 AM
~Chapter I~
The Pinnacle


Ship’s Log 08179:
We’re within shuttle range of Sierra’s moon, now. The exploratory probes have already been sent out. They haven’t found anything except some strange formations in the northeastern hemisphere. We’re going there first to investigate, and then it’s on to find a good place to establish a mining colony.
End Log 08179, 2210/05/21, ASC Pinnacle.



Captain Kilan looked at the digital map of the strange moon. He looked again. Something wasn’t quite right. The weird shapes of the land below had an almost structured look. At first he thought it was an image artifact caused by a faulty probe, but all of the probes sent to that region of the moon showed the exact same formations. This required further investigation. He decided it would be the first place they landed. Only one more hour until landing time. He tuned his radio to the officer frequency.

“Lieutenant Shaw?”

A moment of silence.

“Yes, captain?”

“Is the landing crew ready? We’re go in one hour.”

Another moment of silence, this time a little longer.

“Uh, captain, last I heard they were suiting up. That was about a half hour ago; I’m sure they’re ready by now.” He paused. “Do you want me to find out for sure?”

“That is your job, Lieutenant. Also, you’re going with them.”

“What?” There was an air of annoyance in his voice. “Captain, you specifically told me it would be a civilian only landing party. This rock is deader than our own moon.”

“I know what I said, Lieutenant. I’m saying you’re going with them, now. Get suited up and get going. Oh, and take Corporal Jackson with you. He was complaining about never having visited another planet. Let him see all the ‘fun’ he’s missing.”

“Fun. Right. Aye, captain. I’m on my way to the shuttle bay, now. Over and out.”

Captain Kilan relaxed into his chair. Good man, that Shaw. He’s always thorough in his reports. Good leader, too. If he keeps it up, he’ll see a promotion to Lt. Commander soon. Gonna put him over the entire Exploratory Division. I’ll have to do something with Commander Gill, then. He was asking for a transfer anyway…



Lieutenant Jacob Shaw entered the massive shuttle bay to find a bustling sea of people. Civilians, mostly. Many of them were standing in little circles talking about non-mission topics. What they were planning for the upcoming holiday; the new Ferrari on the market; how crappy the food was on Wednesdays. The usual monotonous jabber of boring people. He spotted a pilot and waved.

“Hey Fawkes! Over here!” he called over the buzzing conversations.

Fawkes was a lieutenant himself, but Shaw was heading the landing party and therefore above him on the mission.

“What are you doing down here? I thought you and that Selena gal were…”

“Captain’s orders. I’m heading the landing party for some reason. Man, he could not have radioed at a worse time. I was, you know, in the middle of some very important physical conditioning.”

Fawkes laughed and grabbed Shaw’s shoulder.

“Buddy, you know better than to try to get any recreational time around here. For a boring mining freighter, the Pinnacle manages to keep you busy, even between planets.”

Shaw smiled and shook his head.

“So are you flying?”

“Yeah, as usual. It’s like I’m the only pilot on this entire ship. I don’t know, in the past six months I’ve flown probably 90% of the landing parties.”

“How many other pilots do they have trained on these shuttles?”

Fawkes scratched his head. “I don’t know, like all of them? Seriously, there’re fifteen pilots on the Pinnacle, including me. We’re supposed to rotate every trip, and yet I’m stuck flying almost every mission. I thought about talking to the Captain about it, but I’m also praying for a promotion soon. Hopefully he’ll notice my diligence and I won’t just fall through the cracks, you know?”

A loud buzzer interrupted the conversation as an automated female voice spoke.

“Twenty minutes until shuttle departure. All duty hands to action stations.”

Fawkes grabbed a nearby flight helmet as he waved goodbye to Shaw.

“Hey, I gotta get in the cockpit. I’ll see you on the surface, sir.”

“Aye-aye, Pilot. Happy flying.”

Shaw watched as Fawkes ran to the Class Beta Boeing exploratory shuttle and up the loading ramp. Everyone who was going on the mission was shuffling onto the ramp as well, about fifty people, disappearing into the opened mouth of the hundred meter long craft.

He slowly made his way in the direction of the ramp, cursing the fact that his captain had ordered him to go at the last second, having interrupted his escapades with an attractive civilian woman. It was frustrating more than anything. She would be there when he got back, but who knew when he would find another free moment to get away?

“Are you leading this mission, sir?”

Shaw turned toward the intrusive voice on his left. An enlisted man, about twenty years old.

“I’m sorry?”

“Lieutenant,” the man searched the front of Shaw’s uniform, “Shaw? Are you leading this mission?”

“Yes. What do you need?”

“I’m Corporal Andrew Jackson, sir. I was told to report here and receive your orders.”

The corporal! Shaw had forgotten all about him. He made a mental note to reward him for being committed enough to report to him instead of Shaw having to go find him. Or worse, leaving him on the ship and answering to the captain later about why he failed to follow orders.

“Right. What took you so long? Anyways, this is going to be a standard outpost establishment. First we’re checking out some formations on foot while Lieutenant Fawkes scouts for suitable outpost locations from the air. The outpost should take no more than a day to secure, and then the civilians will stay on until the mining colony gets here, with only minimal military personnel (that’s us) remaining to provide security in the absurdly impossible event of a pirate attack, natural disaster or civilian uprising. The moon is completely uninhabited, has no breathable atmosphere and no volcanic activity as far as we know. The only reason we are establishing an outpost slash mining colony on this wasteland is because the crust of this moon is very rich in the element known as Zeronium, which as you probably know is the main ingredient in all our weapons, armor and computer circuits. Oh and when we get back to the ship, you’re going to be writing a very detailed report on the entire mission from departure to debriefing. Any questions?”

Corporal Jackson blinked. “Um… no, sir. But I think we’d better get on board.”

Shaw looked at the shuttle and the loading ramp which was now closing. He bolted towards the ramp with Jackson close behind.

“Why didn’t you say something before, Corporal Dimwit?” he yelled over the deafening roar of the engines igniting.

“Sir?” Jackson yelled back.

“Never mind, let’s just get the hell on the shuttle!”

The two of them leapt onto the ramp, ducking in as it closed behind them. A room full of silent civilians greeted them coldly.

“Had to uh, check in with the Officer of the Deck,” Shaw lied nervously, cursing under his breath at the weak fib. He turned to Jackson.

“Andrew Jackson here has volunteered to double check everyone’s space suits. This is his first mission to a foreign planet, so show him the courtesy due all newbies.”

Talking in the compartment resumed as everyone’s attention shifted back to their own conversations. A grin spread across Shaw’s face at the obvious panic in his young corporal’s eyes. Then suddenly, his grin evolved into an angry frown.

“What is it, sir?” Jackson asked nervously.

“Corporal Jackson, I am in a bit of a predicament. Tell me, what do you notice about everyone here in comparison to me?”

Jackson glanced around the loading compartment and then focused his gaze on Shaw’s attire.

“Sir, you are not wearing a space suit.”

“Correct, Corporal Jackson. Not only did you fail to alert me to the impending departure of the shuttle in time, but you also failed to inform me of my lack of preparedness in respect to the nature of our mission. How am I supposed to lead these people safely across alien terrain if I can’t even breathe when we get there?”

The look on Corporal Jackson’s face was beyond panic and more of despair.

“Sir,” he began, almost shaking. “I am trying to do the right thing, sir.”

Shaw relaxed a little, aware that his constant hazing was beginning to get at this young recruit.

“Relax, Jackson. I’m just giving you a hard time. I can’t blame you for everything, even if you are an overeager young sap with enough energy to get us all killed. Luckily for me, there are always over a dozen space suits stored in the equipment locker. After we get spaceborne we’ll go see what we can find. Grab a seat and strap in, this can be a little… unsettling.”

A deafening buzzer was heard outside in the shuttle bay followed by the familiar automated woman’s voice.

“All personnel clear the shuttle platform. All personnel clear the shuttle platform. Shuttle Beta-5 descending into airlock. All personnel clear the shuttle platform.”

The shuttle finally came to a halt as the large platform it rested on fully descended into the airlock. The opening above them closed and sealed, and the pilot gave the shuttle just enough lift to separate them from the surface, which was now opening to reveal the vast emptiness of space. The airlock quickly depressurized and the shuttle fell from its mother into the void.

“We are now spaceborne,” Fawkes’ voice blared over the intercom. “Be aware that the compartments within this shuttle are now weightless. Do not disengage from your seats until the ship has set its course for Sierra’s moon. We should reach the surface in about thirty minutes. Alright, prepare for inertial shift.”

The shuttle suddenly blasted forward and veered left, heading for the dark blue moon. Everything seemed to be shaking violently for a few seconds, until the inertial dampeners adjusted to the change in velocity.

“This thing is pretty agile for such a bulky ship,” Jackson commented, surprised by the swift change in speed and direction.

Shaw laughed. “Don’t let its big appearance fool you. It’s made of Zeronium. Very durable and very light, which is why we can make it big enough to carry all the equipment we need for an outpost and a small armory and still move faster than your daddy’s hot rod. We’re going about 12,000 mph by now. Doesn’t feel like it, does it?”

“Twelve thousand? God, how are we gonna stop before smashing into the planet?”

“Brakes, but we call them reverse thrusters. Now, let’s go get my spacesuit.”

Shaw disengaged his safety harnesses and stood to find himself floating freely in the weightless chamber. He noticed Jackson’s hesitation and shot him a questioning look.

“You may now disengage from your seats and move about the shuttle.” Fawkes’ voice again. “Be advised that we will be entering the moon’s atmosphere in approximately twenty-five minutes, so resume your seats at least ten minutes prior to that. You have fifteen minutes.”

Jackson removed his own safety harness and floated up to join Shaw.

“I was waiting for the ‘okay’. Sir, you should really pay more attention to safety regulations. Or all regulations in general. Sir.”

Shaw glared at the corporal, preparing to tear him inside out, when he saw the smile on Jackson’s face. He grinned.

“Corporal, I… let’s get me a spacesuit before I completely forget and walk onto a moon with almost no atmosphere, huh?”

“Aye, sir!”

They made their way to the back of the cabin and Shaw opened the door, revealing complete blackness. Shaw felt around on the inner bulkhead for a switch when suddenly the lights flickered and came on. They were much brighter than those in the shuttle cabin, causing both Shaw and Jackson to squint until their pupils adjusted.

Inside the compartment were a dozen mechanical bodies in two rows of six, facing the entrance from where Shaw and Jackson intruded. Each of the metallic skeletons was perfectly identical. One of the droids suddenly stepped forward, its magnetic feet clanking loudly on the metal floor.

“Hello, Lieutenant Shaw. How was your day?” it spoke in a polite, canned voice, its artificial eye sockets lighting up with a friendly green glow.

“Uh… good. Identify yourself.”

“This unit is designate MIKE-12. Primary directive: mining.”

“Sir,” Corporal Jackson interrupted, “Didn’t you know we were bringing droids on this mission?”

“No,” Shaw answered with a puzzled look on his face. “The captain knows I prefer to work with humans. He must have a really good reason for picking me to lead this team at the last second.”

“What, you got something against robots?” Jackson asked.

“Not really,” he replied, eyeing the robots curiously. “It’s just that I prefer a more… familiar visage in my teammates. These metal clankers are a little unnerving.” He nodded toward the forward robot. “No offense, Mike.”

“None taken, Lieutenant Shaw. Might I be of any further assistance to you?”

“I just came to get suited up in one of the onboard spacesuits. How many are stored in the equipment locker?”

“At present, there are… two… human spacesuits in this shuttle’s equipment locker.”

“Only two? Who forgot to refill the inventory on the shuttle?”

“Request unknown. This unit does not oversee restocking duties.”

“Oh well, let’s just get me suited up before we have a really bad day back here when the ship enters the atmosphere. Mike, power down for now.”

“Negative. This unit has been authorized for active status until instructed otherwise.”

“By who?”

“Request not known.”

“What do you mean you don’t know? Who told you to remain in active status?” Shaw questioned, irritated at the stubbornness of a droid.

“Instructions were received only moments ago by network. Identity of host, unknown. Unfamiliar IP address. Security protocols accepted however.”

“What, someone’s hacking you? Like right now?!”

“Negative. The source is authorized, but not recognized.”

“Sir,” Jackson said, grabbing the Lieutenant’s arm. “You need to get suited up. We can deal with this later. I’m sure it’s just some new procedure from one of the remote operators on the freighter.”

Shaw made his way to the nearby equipment locker with the corporal and began putting the spacesuit on over his working BDU’s.

“I’m not going to just forget about this. MIKE-12, do not move from this compartment until I give the authorization. If anyone asks, you tell them that Lieutenant Shaw said you are being inspected for wiring integrity and you cannot leave until I arrive. Okay?”

“Affirmative, Lieutenant Shaw. Good luck on your mission.”



The moon’s terrain seemed more gray than blue on the surface. The gray sand sparkled brightly over the large dunes, glaring the crew’s vision of the looming mountains to the east. The sky was black as night, yet the sun provided a strange white light that seemed almost like a moon itself. The moon’s mother planet, SR-900 or Sierra for short, hung as a giant green orb in the starless sky, casting a yellow haze over the horizon to the west. Shaw couldn’t help but feel insignificant in such a large, open environment.

“Alright people, listen up. The captain wants us to check out those formations to the east,” Shaw yelled, pointing at the distant mountains. “He thinks they might have the highest concentration of Zeronium on the whole planet, so it might be the best place to establish a mining colony. We couldn’t land the shuttle any closer because of the dunes, so a small team of us are going to check it out on foot. I need two experienced miners. Any volunteers?”

An awkward moment of glancing about at one another saw one man raise his hand. He was a big, solid man, about forty years old, and had a distinctive eye patch covering his right eye. An aged scar running the length of most of the right side of his face was visible beneath the patch, even through the mask of his spacesuit.

“I’ll go with ye,” he said in a deep, Irish accent. “Never one to turn down adventure.”

Lieutenant Shaw simply gawked at the man, amazed by how cliché people out in space could be.

“What are you, some kind of space pirate?” he asked jokingly.

The man only glared at Shaw. “It’s not the first time I’ve heard that one. And I’m no pirate. I was born in Ireland on the Homeworld, where I served twenty years in Her Majesty’s Royal Navy. After that, I signed up for the space expedition program and been mining ever since. The hard work has kept me going another twenty years and I’m as strong as ever I was.”

“I meant no offense, sir,” Shaw apologized. “We’re honored to have such a seasoned veteran among us and I know we can all learn from your experience. Okay, so I need one more volunteer.”

“I’ll go,” said a younger woman, about twenty.

Shaw stared at the attractive girl, causing an awkward moment of silence among the group.

“Is that okay?” she asked after several seconds of loud hush.

Shaw blinked, painfully aware that he had been staring at a woman in a spacesuit and daydreaming.

“Uh, actually we were hoping for another experienced miner. What’s your specialty, Miss…?”

“Black. I’m Sarah Black. I’m an archaeologist stationed on the Pinnacle to study any ancient cultures we might encounter.”

Shaw managed to stifle a snicker. “Well, I appreciate the enthusiasm, but this moon is dead now, and there were never any cultures here, ever. I’m sure we can find some cool ancient ruins on another planet, but I’m afraid you’re gonna be disappointed on this trip.”

“Actually, Captain Kilan requested my presence on this mission. I have extensive knowledge of rock layers and geological formations. I can help find the best concentration of Zeronium in the whole range.”

“Well,” Shaw began, defeated, “I can’t argue with that. Okay, so Corporal Jackson and Sergeant Brinks will be accompanying us as well. That’s five of us. Brinks, is there a jeep on this shuttle?”

The young sergeant shrugged. “Don’t know, sir. Ask Fawkes.”

Shaw pressed a button on his glove which activated the radio mic in his helmet. Fawkes was still in the shuttle cockpit.

“Lieutenant Fawkes, come in.”

“This is Fawkes, go ahead.”

“Hey it’s Shaw. Is there an ATV on the shuttle capable of navigating the dunes here?”

“Yes, sir. We just restocked all equipment on the shuttle yesterday in preparation for the mission. There should be an all-terrain vehicle in the cargo hold.”

“Roger. Oh and just so you know, somebody forgot to stock the spacesuits. There were only two left when we checked back there. Also your robot MIKE-12 wouldn’t turn off so I’m having him checked for wiring integrity.”

“Oh, Shaw,” Fawkes nearly yelled. “I almost forgot. You’re supposed to take that unit with you to scan the mountains. He’ll be able to get good readings that close up. Also if you need to blast your way in or out of a cave, he really comes in handy.”

“Seriously? I don’t need a robot on this mission, Fawkes.”

“Sorry, man. Captain’s orders, actually. As usual.”

“Right. Well, tell him to meet me out here. In fact, tell him to unload the ATV from the cargo hold. Shaw, out.”

Jackson gave Shaw a light punch in the arm.

“You get to hang out with your best friend. Mike,” he said, grinning.

“Don’t push me, Jackson. If that robot ends up as scrap metal, you’re gonna join him. Go around to the rear loading ramp to receive the jeep.”

“Yes, sir.”

Canis
February 8th, 2012, 08:50 AM
Dude, I gotta know what comes next. I'm not one for sci-fi, but I was glued to my screen. Very well written, good grammar, and good descriptions. One problem that stuck out in my mind:

“Is the landing crew ready? We’re go in one hour.”

I understand the intent behind this, we'll be ready to leave in an hour, but it still tripped me up while I was reading. Maybe it's sci-fi jargon, i don't know, but it still looks like a grammar mistake to me. There's my two cents. Cheers

AlexBlack
February 8th, 2012, 09:18 AM
Thanks for reading. I'm glad you enjoyed it. (:

I'm actually a Navy veteran, so much of my knowledge of shipboard procedures are being replicated in this story aboard their space ship. "We're go" is sort of informal military jargon, not really sci-fi.

Just so you know, this story is also somewhat of a cosmic horror story. I have finished half of chapter 2 and half of chapter 3, which I may or may not upload at some point in the future.

Canis
February 8th, 2012, 09:25 AM
I thought some of it might be jargon. It gives the story a certain "real life" believeability factor but it may trip up some readers. In my opinion, I'd try to keep the jargon to a minimum. Other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed the story and I have to know what those formations were. Hoping to read more in the future my friend. Cheers.

AlexBlack
February 8th, 2012, 09:28 AM
Thanks (:

I'm heading off to bed for the night, much overdue, but I will check out your work tomorrow and share my opinions. Night!

SeaBee1
February 8th, 2012, 04:38 PM
Well... very good, for a first draft, Alex. One observation, just to get us started. Drop the "like, you know" stuff from the dialog. My Navy never talked like that, even in casual conversation. 'Course, that was WAY back in the day!

Does my Navy talk like that now?????

Dang, I am getting old!

Did I say this was good? Very nice setup for a good story, I think! Looking forward to more!

Best regards

CB

josh.townley
February 9th, 2012, 10:54 PM
Hi Alex. This was a great read. I really enjoyed it.
I like the set-up and the characters. The dialogue is very believable, but as SeaBee said, it might be a bit informal for a military setting. Things might have changed by that point in the future, though, so who knows.

There are a couple of minor issues that I noticed.


Captain Kilan looked at the digital map of the strange moon. He looked again. Something wasn’t quite right.
I didn't like 'he looked again'. It sounds like he did a double-take, or something, which would be a bit silly. Maybe say 'he leaned in closer' instead.


Anyways, this is going to be a standard outpost establishment. First we’re checking out some formations on foot while Lieutenant Fawkes scouts for suitable outpost locations from the air. The outpost should take no more than a day to secure, and then the civilians will stay on until the mining colony gets here, with only minimal military personnel (that’s us) remaining to provide security in the absurdly impossible event of a pirate attack, natural disaster or civilian uprising. The moon is completely uninhabited, has no breathable atmosphere and no volcanic activity as far as we know. The only reason we are establishing an outpost slash mining colony on this wasteland is because the crust of this moon is very rich in the element known as Zeronium, which as you probably know is the main ingredient in all our weapons, armor and computer circuits. Oh and when we get back to the ship, you’re going to be writing a very detailed report on the entire mission from departure to debriefing. Any questions?
This was an obvious info-dump, and it felt a bit lazy. Surely there would be a mission brief before this, rather than a last-minute lecture. They all seem


the element known as Zeronium
You need to be careful with this. Make sure your explanation (if you give one) is scientifically sound. The new element that Tony Stark created in Iron Man 2 killed that movie for me. I like the name 'Zeronium', though.
Island of stability - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Island_of_stability)
You may need to consider problems with radioactivity of this element, unless you can explain that away, too.


“Twelve thousand? God, how are we gonna stop before smashing into the planet?”

“Brakes, but we call them reverse thrusters. Now, let’s go get my spacesuit.”

Again, for someone that lives in a time of space travel, and who has made it to Corporal, he seems quite dim. Surely he would have been trained in things like this already?

Aside from those little technical niggles, I really enjoyed it and would love to read more.
Thanks for posting!

ShatteredUniverse
February 10th, 2012, 06:31 PM
Well... very good, for a first draft, Alex. One observation, just to get us started. Drop the "like, you know" stuff from the dialog. My Navy never talked like that, even in casual conversation. 'Course, that was WAY back in the day!

Does my Navy talk like that now?????

Dang, I am getting old!

Did I say this was good? Very nice setup for a good story, I think! Looking forward to more!

Best regards

CB

Thus, one of the hardest aspects of writing military science fiction. Maintaining the balance between the military realism and science fiction's need to be described to death, that is.

Honestly, I think setting this piece aside for awhile and then returning to it will help you think up clever ways of slipping the information in without resorting to "As you know, Bob." dialogue or narrative info dumps.

AlexBlack
February 10th, 2012, 08:14 PM
@Seabee1: Yepp, your Navy talks like that now lol! It's only because, just as always, the military is made up of converted civilians. Today's youth talks much differently than the youth of the 19th Century ;) People still talk like normal people in casual conversation, whether they've killed a hundred people or never even shot a gun before. The only difference is the nightmares.

@josh.townley: I was painfully aware of the info dump >.< As I said before, I'm going to spread out the dialogue and work in more narrative. This first chapter will be much longer when I'm finished with it. About "Zeronium", it was originally intended as a placeholder name, but I ended up liking the way it sounds, so it will probably stay. As far as scientific integrity is concerned, this might remain as a scientifically inaccurate magic artifact. I'm not sure if I'm going to justify it yet or make it magic (like the Iron Man 2 element). As for Corporal Jackson, he's my stupid character who doesn't know about obvious things in this world. There's a reason for this, which is revealed later in the story, but for now I'm using him as a tool to relay information the reader may not know. I know, people hate this, but it has worked surprisingly well for many successful works (Dune, The Matrix, Demolition Man). I am going to work on making it better and more believable without the blatant info dumps.

@ShatteredUniverse: I actually wrote this several months ago and haven't even touched it since then, and I've just recently got interested in it again. So in a few days or weeks, I'll probably have a new draft of this chapter, or maybe a totally different chapter, but thanks for the suggestion.

Thanks everyone for your criticism and suggestions. I really appreciate the input (:

SeaBee1
February 11th, 2012, 01:47 PM
*SNIP*
@ShatteredUniverse: I actually wrote this several months ago and haven't even touched it since then, and I've just recently got interested in it again. So in a few days or weeks, I'll probably have a new draft of this chapter, or maybe a totally different chapter, but thanks for the suggestion.

*SNIP*



Looking forward to the update!