Placeholder (NaNoWriMo Day 19)

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: 1,105
Total Wordcount: 24,462 (includes Title, Chapter Headers, etc.)

< FirstBackIndex | Next >


A Whole Lot of Nothing

Cat and Simon wandered into the living room and looked over the empty writing desk with a sigh.

“She’s gone off and left us again, hasn’t she.” Simon said, collapsing into this comfy chair with an annoyed mutter. “We were just getting to the good bits too!”

“It will be nice to get off the ship and actually do something.” Cat agreed and pounced on the couch, gnawing thoughtfully on a throw pillow. “Although I’ve been thinking about it and I haven’t been able to find a good reason for us to get off the ship.”

“I thought we were rescuing the survivors from the colony?”

“Yeah, but why would we need to get off the ship? Why couldn’t Ship just land wherever they are and handle things himself? We don’t speak the language, after all.”

“That’s easy enough,” scoffed Simon. “Just put the colony someplace where the Ship can’t go for one reason or another. Maybe they’re in a cave, or a really narrow valley, or there’s some sort of atmosphere issue that caused the first ship to crash.” He pulled a drink out of the chair’s interdimensional cushions. “And we can take a communicator from Ship with us so he can talk to them so we don’t have to.”

“I vote a combination,” said Cat after a thoughtful minute. “They landed, started up the colony, and then something forced them into the caves. Their Ship was partially dismantled to start the colony, so it’s still there but can’t function as a ship anymore.”

“So Ship can talk to the other ship, but there isn’t anything the two AIs can really do.” Simon shrugged. “Sounds good to me. But what about the shadow ship?”

“What do you mean?” Cat abandoned his hunt of the couch pillows to pull out a beer and some munchies from in-between the cushions. “Whatever is keeping Ship from getting to them should keep the shadow ship from them as well.”

“It just wants to nuke them from orbit,” Simon pointed out.

“Oh, yeah.”

“Just say whatever is messing with Ship is messing with their weapon guidance systems as well. They can just hang out in orbit waiting for us to come back. Which we won’t do because, wormholes.”

“It could just drop things from orbit without guidance.” Cat said, after a moment’s thought. “It might have to go grab an asteroid or two, but it would be able to do considerable damage without having to aim. If it just wants us dead is there anything stopping it from just doing massive planetary damage?”

Simon blinked.

“And that is why you need a predator on your planning team.” Cat grinned a bloodthirsty grin.

“Do I want to know what you’re planning?” Asked the Writer as she and the Muse walked in from the story mists, having spent most of the day doing yard work and plotting.

“How to kill us all from orbit,” Simon said with a sigh. “And to be fair, I can’t think of a good reason why it wouldn’t work. Other than the lack of asteroids in the immediate vicinity.”

“That’s what stardrives are for,” the Writer pointed out and sat down at the table. “First things first, let’s get you over to the planet. We can figure out how to keep you alive once we get there.”

That sounds promising.” Simon rolled his eyes and pulled out another drink. It was going to be a long month.


They were far enough ahead now that Ship was comfortable stopping to scan again. He sent Cat and Simon to the safe room, with minimal complaining, which was better than he had expected. He still hadn’t told them that he was planning on picking up another crew member, but better to beg forgiveness than ask permission.

Beside this was his mission. They could sit in their rooms for the rest of the trip if they had to.

He powered down the drives and swapped all of the energy over to the scans and the wormhole generator. With luck there would be something out there. He started up the process of opening a tiny wormhole, scanning the planet, and then closing the wormhole. Repetitive, boring, but hopefully more productive than the last attempt.

He checked his sensors for the shadow ship, but it was still safely out of range.

Time to get to work.


He had time to do one more planet before his self-imposed window of safety closed and Ship had yet to find anything even remotely promising. There had been two worlds with the right sort of life on them, but neither had any sort of transmissions or anything in orbit. He supposed he could pick up an animal, just as a backup, but he’d tried that before and the maintenance was a pain.

Plus he wasn’t sure he could convince Cat not to eat it.

Ship opened up the last wormhole with a sigh, already writing it off due to the depressing statistical trendline, but as soon as the wormhole was open he started picking up a transmission.

A distress signal.

From another colony ship.

Ship shut down the wormhole, slammed the emergency overrides into place and took off at full acceleration. Cat and Simon might not enjoy it, but it wouldn’t cause them any long term damage and there were more important things.

Like how did one of his sister ships end up ahead of him and why was the distress call for an established colony.


“See?” Said the Writer. “Not so bad.”

Simon pointed at the phrase “long term damage” accusingly and Cat growled.

“It was her idea!” The Writer attempted to hide behind the Muse who gave her a look and promptly teleported to the other side of the room. “Okay, it was mostly my idea, but she helped!”

“Are you seriously going to land us on a planet sick and disoriented?” Simon demanded.

“Err, yes?”

“And I thought the whole idea was not to lose the shadow ship,” Cat pointed out. “How is this not going to accomplish that?”

“The planet is nearby and we’re headed in a straight line?” Ship said, dropping into the living room from above. “And priorities demand that I help a colony in distress over my original mission. Even ignoring the fact that this colony is apparently impossible.”

Time travel.” The Writer made mystical hand waves.

“Right, so we are going.” Ship gave Cat and Simon a stern look. “Do you want off the ship or not?” There was a pause. “I thought so.” He turned back to the Writer. “Onwards!”


< FirstBackIndex | Next >

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!