Placeholder (NaNoWriMo Day 15)

The last place Simon expected to wake up was on an alien spaceship, but there are worse ways to start a NaNo novel…

This is the daily posting of my 2016 NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) attempt at a novel. It’s a brand new world and new fictives and although I gave a shot at planning things (see: Chasing Falling Stars), it’s another pantsing effort. So MuseFics away! 🙂

Read at your own risk/amusement: There will most likely be spelling and grammatical errors afoot as well as flat out bad writing, info dumps, plot holes, contradictions/retcons, uneven characterization and pacing.

Daily Wordcount: 920
Total Wordcount: 20,878 (includes Title, Chapter Headers, etc.)

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Totally Termites!

It was a new day and a new chance to catch-up on word count!

“This wasn’t quite what I had in mind when you ask if I wanted to go do some brainstorming.” The Muse got into the passenger’s seat of the car with some reluctance.

“I needed to make sure they weren’t going to pop in on us and I have an errand to run,” the Writer said as she pulled out of the driveway. “I’m a little embarrassed about the space termites.”

“Say no more.”

The Writer waited until they were safely on the highway to start getting into the real plotting. Plotting and side streets tended to end in wrong turns and the GPS sounding more and more desperate.

“Alright, plot time!”

There was a pause.

“So, how married are you to this Space Termite idea?” Asked the Muse. “Because I have to side with Ship, infestation isn’t really something I want to read about. Or write.” She shuddered.

“Can you think of something else that would live in asteroids?”

“Space amoebas?”

“That’s the same thing!” The Writer objected. “Fine, think of it as a generic small space critter, it doesn’t have to be bugs. Anywho, quick, give me all the reasons this is a bad idea– I need to make this work. Somehow.”

“Fine. Um, what does it eat?”

“Well, it lives in an asteroid field, so… Rocks!”

The Muse was unimpressed. “You mean minerals?”

“That’s just a fancy name for rocks.” The Writer objected. “And what else is out there to eat? If we say there’s some sort of plankton to nosh on, then it makes the bugs harmless. The only thing they’d want to eat would be on the inside of the ship and I doubt something that exists in a vacuum could handle the pressurized environment.”

“Fine, fine, so if it eats ‘rocks’ then why is it a danger to ship? It’s not like Ship is made of pure minerals.” The Muse pointed out. “Especially with those self-repairing walls. He’s going to be alloys and plastics and whatnot.”

“Err–” the Writer didn’t want to give up this easily, but it was a good point. “Maybe Ship uses a covering of raw materials on the outside of the ship to protect it from damage? That way you don’t waste cargo space on things that don’t mind a vacuum, plus it’s a good reason to be worried about the bugs.”

The Muse pondered. “Sounds okay, especially since we’ve already established whatever warp field we have can go around the nets and the cargos. And that would make more sense as to why we needed to go get the replacement material more or less immediately instead of waiting for a larger lead between us and the shadow ship.”


“Not so fast. You haven’t figure out how to get rid of them.”


“So let’s think logically here. These things are outside the ship so Cat and Simon can’t help. What can Ship do to get rid of them?”

“Well he’s got those little bots that process the ore, can’t they just process the bugs too? They have to have some sort of smelting or grinding process that would kill the bugs.”

“Good point, so why not?”

The Writer gave the Muse a look, but she just grinned and refused to help think of an answer.

“Too fast? No, they could just modify the robots to keep up. They are tiny so they can’t do physical damage, but maybe they can still disable the bots somehow,” the Writer finally said. “They are going to be the same composites as Ship, so they can’t eat them. Hmm.”

“We’ve already established that Ship has to delegate processing power to micromanage the robots,” said the Muse. “Can we use that?”

“Maybe. Let’s back up and work at this from the other direction. So if you are a critter and you live in space what do you need?” The Writer pondered. “You eat minerals, so you are most likely made of minerals rather than organics. You like a vacuum, so you have an exoskeleton aka a tiny spacesuit built in. You can’t talk, because no air in space. You can’t smell, because no air in space… wait. Ha!”

“How is ‘you can’t smell in space’ a ha-worthy moment?”

“Because these things need to talk somehow and most insects use smell. Well, pheromones.”

“Bees also dance,” pointed out the Muse, “but I can’t see how dancing would cause any issues.”

“No, but think about this, they are pretty much synthetic lifeforms themselves– what if they communicate by electromagnetic? That would mess up Ship’s ability to communicate with the robots. It wouldn’t break them, but it would disable them!”

“That’s… devious.” The Muse admitted. “But you are still stuck on how to actually get rid of them.”

“Technically not my problem,” Grinned the Writer. “We’ve got this much figured out, why not let Ship and the others do a little bit of the heavy lifting?”


There was something wrong, but Ship was split out among too many robots and he didn’t notice it until he abruptly lost contact with one of them. Dropping everything else he focused in on the area where the one robot had gone offline and discovered a churning mass of something pouring out of one of the asteroids that he had been processing.

A fast check of the memory banks didn’t turn up anything that came even close to matching.

This was not good.


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Martha Bechtel

My name is Martha Bechtel and I write fantasy and science fiction stories, paint small model horses silly colors, cast resin and plaster magnets, code random code (and Wordpress plugins)... Come on in and join in the fun!