This year for Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) I am going to do something different. I am not going to write any random 50,000 words as I have done in every year previous. I am going to write 50,000 word of my second book. It’s a really scary concept, because normally during Nano, I get stuck really quickly and wander off describing things or interviewing characters. This time I am going to push through. I’m going to get book two finished, and more importantly published, by next year.
As a big thank you to everyone who has supported me this far (and everyone who reads my blog) – here is a wee teaser from the beginning of book two…
The light scout ship shuddered, unused to the demands of descending through such a dense atmosphere. For more than a thousand years, it had sat, all but ignored in the shuttle bay as Mikael and his twin sister Maat obediently stayed off the planet they had been sent to observe. Now, they had broken almost every rule in the Narian handbook. What was one more?
Mikael glanced at his sister’s face and knew he was alone in his concern. She was grinning like a fool.
“I can’t believe we are actually doing this,” she squealed.
“We’re going to die.” Mikael groaned, his head knocking against the headrest as the shuttle bucked violently over yet another pocket of super-heated gas.
“It’s fine,” Maat assured him. “Our auto-pilot has been upgraded with the latest subroutines available. I downloaded them before we left the ship.”
“Was that wise?” Mikael asked. “We don’t want the Board noticing that we took the shuttle out…”
“I’m not an idiot,” Maat grumbled. “I covered my tracks, but I had to make sure we would be safe out here. Without us, these humans don’t stand a chance.”
Mikael could think of many other reasons he didn’t want to die. He was barely two-thousand years old and had so many things left to see, secrets of the universe to uncover. Risking his otherwise immortal existence to protect a colony of primitive beings seemed ludicrous, but he knew better than to argue with his twin. She’d completely bought into her own story about being the ‘mother goddess’ and ‘protector’ to these people.
Instead, he stared out the window at the fast approaching landscape. They skimmed over oceans and dry, dusty continents, snow covered wastes and then suddenly, in an explosion of colour, the Tyrian empire came into view. There were fields of yellow and purple, snaking dirt roads bridging rivers, connecting towns and villages through forests and across mountains.
“It’s the Western Wall.” Maat pointed at something on the horizon. Mikael could just make out the Ghaliya Ranges separating House Varna from the desert’s edge. The Western Wall was little more than a grey line, but as they got closer, it grew until he realized it stretched across the entire mouth of Bonewind Pass. Dotted with little black windows, this towering monstrosity was a city unto itself – home to the priestesses charged with protecting the Empire from the Desert, and to the men of the Queen’s Army left behind to help them.
Maat brought up a holographic overlay on her view screen which showed an invisible second wall shimmering in the air above the guarded pass. She slowed their descent, passing over the pocket of magical shielding with little more than a rumble of complaint from their engines.
“What would have happened if we’d gone through it?” Mikael asked.
Maat gave a nervous laugh. “Our cloaking systems don’t make us any less physical. I’m not sure what traps and enchantments they’ve tied to those old stones, but if they’re made to keep the desert demons out, you can be sure we don’t want to collide with them.”
He grimaced, remembering the nasty things both sides had been willing to do to each other in the first great war over six hundred years ago. Time would only have made them more creative.
Unnoticed by the priestesses or their soldiers, Maat guided the shuttle along the steep, narrow corridor of Bonewind Pass. Mikael gripped the armrests of his seat as the brutal desert wind made their passage even more difficult. His sister was clearly tense, all her focus on the fine control needed to keep them from being smashed against the cliff walls.
“We must be getting close,” Mikael murmured.
Maat nodded. “Just ahead to the north.”
At last, the sheer cliffs fell away and they were afforded their first views of the desert. A sea of rolling golden sand broken up with cliffs and peaks of much darker stone, evidence of the tectonic upheaval this planet experienced many thousands of years earlier – before the Narians came and claimed this world as one of their research outposts.
“That one,” Maat said. Their satellite guidance system had marked one of those peaks on her holographic display.
“It will be tight, trying to land up there,” she said with a frown as they got closer. “We shouldn’t risk it until we know more about the target.”
“There then?” He gestured to a plateau a few miles down from the peak.
“Better,” Maat agreed. “Won’t be too much of a walk from there.”
There was barely a bump as the autopilot set them down. Mikael was surprised by the rush of heat as the rear door slid open.
“Here.” Maat handed him a small white cloak and head wrap from her primitive-looking satchel. “These will help us pass as natives if anyone happens to see us.”
Mikael pulled the clothes on, glancing self-consciously at his reflection in the tinted window. A human girl-child stared back at him.
“Would you believe I’d almost forgotten…” he grinned sheepishly at his sister. He’d learned how to reprogram his nanites during a recent period of extreme boredom. Given that men were under suspicion in Tyria simply for being male, Maat had suggested disguising himself as a girl. Now his voice was annoyingly high-pitched and he could barely reach the controls on a standard panel. Still, he secretly hoped the chance to run off and explore might present itself. At least this way he would be ready.
“Shall we go then?” Maat asked, tucking the ends of her own headscarf under her cloak. “We need to be back by sundown. I’d hate to get caught by a gang of desert raiders.”
Mikael could just imagine how such a scenario might play out. The desert men were fervent followers of the Dark One, Mikael’s alter ego, which would have been great if he still wore the pale, gaunt face and towering stature of an alien god. As a human girl, on the other hand, he could look forward to all manner of horrors dealt out by a people who hated women in general and Tyrian women most of all. He grimaced at the thought and fingered the DNA-locked laser pistol holstered underneath his cloak.
Hope you like it!! I’ll do another teaser for each week of Nano.