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eefraoula
June 26th, 2016, 03:19 AM
Any critique is welcome - I'm a little rusty. Also, forgive the formatting - like I said, I'm new at this.

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The Wishing Star

Through the frosted glass of the cockpit window, countless stars glittered in the dark sky. As the spaceship's pilot strapped herself into her seat, she kept her eyes directed outwards. From her point of view, the stars appeared to be winking at her. She smiled at the thought.

There was no sound in the cabin, aside from the clip and snap of the last few buckles being secured. Stel reclined into her seat and gazed out into space. She enjoyed this time of day most of all, these stolen moments before daybreak when she could feel her body slip away as her thoughts floated out and into the ether.


Behind the pilot's seat, the door to the cockpit suddenly slammed open, breaking the peaceful silence. Stel huffed out a sigh, her short-lived seclusion slipping away. The clamor of the ship's crew flooded through the doorway: feet slamming on the metallic floors and echoing down the corridors, the shouts of officers directing crewmen to their posts. The pilot glanced over her shoulder.In the doorway stood a tall and slender man with a long, stern face, his expression cold and empty. In his right hand, he held a tall white mug that spewed a soft spiral of steam into the air. When he met Stel's eyes, he flinched in surprise. “Hmph! Officer Harmon,” he grunted. “I see you've already settled in.”


Stel grinned at the man and then swiftly returned her attention to the front. “Yeah, well, someone's got to get things moving, right?” The man cleared his throat and slammed the cabin door behind him.


“Officer Harmon, you know perfectly well that this is precisely the reason why your apprenticeship has been extended. The examination board does not reward this defiant sort of behavior.”


“What code of conduct am I defying now, Captain?” Stel shifted her upper body around to face the man, who appeared to shrink in stature under her glare. “Is it now a crime to come to work prepared and on time? Have I committed a federal offense by beating the captain of the ship to his own post?”


“Listen, Harmon. This isn't the first time you've used my access code in order to acquire entry to my cockpit outside of working hours. Call it what you will, determination or what-have-you. But your pilot qualification exam will continue to be postponed the longer you act as if the rules somehow don't apply to you.” The captain strutted over to the control panel, resting his mug in a cup-holder while flipping switches with his free hand. “One day, you'll be piloting a ship ten times this size with missions much more crucial than delivering the morning paper. And for every ship you pilot, you will have a captain whose authority you will work beneath. Do you understand?”


With this final question, the captain's eyes shifted beneath his furrowed brow. They locked with Stel's for a split second before returning them to the control panel. She studied his expression curiously. As the captain settled into his seat beside her, she made a point to let the morning return to silence, leaving his question unanswered. To Stel's surprise, the captain pressed the issue no further. The both of them began to set up their head-gear in near synchronized movements. She lifted the rounded radio helmet over her head and secured the base to her jumpsuit. Once the computer monitor on the cockpit's dashboard had loaded, she reached ahead of the captain and punched in the necessary passphrases before reading her call-sign into her microphone: “Officer Estella 'Starlight' Harmon, reporting for duty.”


Stel often blurred the line between herself (the apprentice pilot) and the captain of the postal ship (her mentor), knowing one day he would have to give in to her minor wrongdoings and recognize the talent she possesses. Today might just be that day. After signing in, she turned to the captain and blinked at him, expectantly.


The captain sighed in frustration. Stel knew it irked him whenever she used her call-sign, since they were only for ranking officials. Not to mention, she was the only one who ever actually used her call-sign. At this point, the captain usually lectured her on the importance of using appropriate titles aboard a military vessel, but today he simply rolled his eyes. Switching on his mic, he grumbled, “Captain Oswald 'Osie' Grayson. We've got a large haul today. Let's fire her up, set off on my mark.”


On most days, Stel piloted the ship (with the assistance of the captain, of course) along a series of predetermined postal routes. But today wasn't like most days. Today, the Rigel, one of the Calen Confederacy's main intergalactic post ships, was scheduled to dock at a postal depot in the opposite quadrant of the space system. For the crew of the Rigel, this mission was strange and exciting. Many of the crew members hadn't been so far from their home planet, Earth. As the central hub of interplanetary politics and labor trade, Earth remained the home to millions of humans, in particular those who had aligned themselves with the Confederacy's mission of an intergalactic union.


Today's postal run was exactly the sort of opportunity Stel needed to show off her pilot performance skills. While the rest of the ship was gearing up for a leisurely joyride across the galaxy, Stel was preparing to prove to her mentor how much she deserved a shot at the big time. An added bonus was seeing a whole new planet. And this new world would hopefully be nothing like Earth, the planet her foster parents had attempted to make feel like her real home. She knew now that it was too late for that. As far as Stel was concerned, the further from Earth, the better.


A low hum began to build beneath the cockpit. A steady thrumming sensation reverberated throughout the cabin as the engines fired up. While Captain Osie reviewed the flight plan, Stel held a firm grip on the thrust levers.


Directly ahead, she stared at her reflection, dimly lit by the glow of the control panel. Her dull black helmet framed her angular, fair face. Though most of her dark hair was tucked up into her helmet, a wavy strand had slipped out, lazily draped across her brow. Her mouth was set in a tight line above her clenched jaw. She felt her teeth grind the slightest from the anticipation building in her chest, rapidly rising into her throat. As her nerves threatened to shatter her cool demeanor, Stel took a deep, slow breath in through her nose. Exhaling smoothly, she looked into the reflection of her dark eyes sparkling in the starlight.


“Set and ready for take-off,” Captain Osie confirmed from the seat next to her. A tiny smirk pulled up at the corner of Stel's mouth as she gave her reflection a confident wink and pushed forward on the throttle.

Rmand
June 26th, 2016, 04:24 AM
Hi, and wow nice work, I really enjoyed this, you should keep on doing this because I'd love to see how it ends, wish you the best luck :)

Harper J. Cole
July 9th, 2016, 06:08 PM
eefraoula,

I think this is a very strong opening for a book, setting the tone and introducing the lead character effectively. The idea of a postal ship is also something a bit different from the usual scifi settings.

SPaG was pretty near flawless; there's just a few points I'd raise.


Through the frosted glass of the cockpit window, countless stars glittered in the dark sky.

Here "dark" seems a rather basic word for a night sky, which is sight worth getting a little poetic about. "Obsidian canopy", "unchanging depths", "ebony sky"? Something like that.


Stel reclined into her seat and gazed out into space.

I'm not 100% sure, but my instinct is that this should be "reclined in". I'd be interested to hear other people's opinions on that.


She enjoyed this time of day most of all, these stolen moments before daybreak when she could feel her body slip away as her thoughts floated out and into the ether.

While not strictly wrong, using "time of day" when it's still night is a bit unusual. Also, having "when" and "as" in the same sentence, meaning more or less the same thing, feels a little awkward. Maybe ...

"She enjoyed this time most of all, these stolen moments before daybreak when she could feel her body slip away, her thoughts floating out and into the ether."

Hope that some of this has been helpful!

HC

Schrody
July 9th, 2016, 06:16 PM
I see you marked this thread as a "public" novel, but please consider that publishing on the Internet means losing your first Rights (http://www.writing-world.com/rights/rights.shtml) - if you wish to keep those, I suggest posting in the Workshop (http://www.writingforums.com/forums/11-Prose-Writers-Workshop)which is not indexed, meaning you can't find it with the search engines, thus, it's private and you're not losing your rights.

eefraoula
July 18th, 2016, 03:54 PM
I see you marked this thread as a "public" novel, but please consider that publishing on the Internet means losing your first Rights (http://www.writing-world.com/rights/rights.shtml) - if you wish to keep those, I suggest posting in the Workshop (http://www.writingforums.com/forums/11-Prose-Writers-Workshop)which is not indexed, meaning you can't find it with the search engines, thus, it's private and you're not losing your rights.

Hi thank you for this advice! I termed this as "public" because it is a writing prompt that was released on a public website for the use of any writer who wanted to practice following a novel outline format. I had explained this in my original post but an admin removed it because I had the link to the website for reference. I didn't realize that linking to this writing prompt was against da rules. This scene that I posted is my writing but not my idea which came from an online writing workshop that I subscribe to. So in the end, I'm not concerned about my rights for this prompt since it is a public prompt from another website - if that makes sense.

But! Thank you for this information as I will likely post snip-its of my own, original pieces and am glad to hear that there is a place I can post that is more private :)