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: 2,946
Total Wordcount: 51,041 (includes Title, Chapter Headers, etc.)
And At Last, The End
“Alright, we are wrapping this up today com Hell or High Water,” said the Writer as she said down at the writing desk. “Quick, what are our unresolved plotlines so far?”
The Muse blinked. “Err, the planetside ship is a little skeevy, but that’s more of an annoyance than an actual problem. The flock is all safe and sound, so no worries there. Cat hasn’t decided if he’s staying on the planet or not and Simon is still upset that he’s never going home. The only real problem I can see is the incoming shadow ship. Everything else is just folks with their feelings hurt.”
“Hey!” Objected Simon.
“It’s true,” Cat said from his growing beanbag fort. He’d realised that neither supplies nor space was really an issue and was having fun building a tiny empire. “So let’s just get the shadow ship wrapped up.”
“Okay, ideas on how to destroy the ship?” The Writer picked up her pen and waited.
There was a pause.
“Well, I have no weapons and I don’t think I can fabricate any in time,” Ship said. “So we can’t damage it. Other than ramming it, I suppose, which I’d like to veto as a plan even if it makes logical sense to sacrifice the one to save the many.”
“We can’t let it get to the planet– the colony has no shields or way to hide, so it’s a sitting duck,” said Blue.
“How do you know what a duck is?” Objected Simon, but they ignored him.
“So we need to do something to the ship before it gets close enough to the planet to cause harm.” Said the Writer. “We’ve got Time Travel, gimme some ideas.”
“We could go back in time and distract it so it doesn’t follow us to the planet?” Offered Cat.
“We could go forward in time and let it get to the empty planet and give up.” Said Blue.
“We could use the time travel to redirect an asteroid so it hits the ship?” The Muse really had no ideas. “No wait, the whole ‘I have no weapons’ thing is time based, couldn’t we go forward, back, whatever and make them and then come back?”
“Not bad, very Dragonriders of Pern and the Southern Weyr,” said the Writer and made a note.
“Why can’t we use the time travel on the shadow ship,” said Simon. “If we are creating wormholes to fly through why not make one right in front of it so it’s forced to go through. Ship has already said it has to cannibalize itself to keep functioning, just throw it back in time far enough that it will be dead by the time we get here.”
“Wait, wait, why don’t we just use the wormholes as a weapon, straight out?” Said Cat. “Can’t we use it to create microholes in the other ship which will swiss-cheese the thing? What haven’t we been doing that to start with?” He looked up at Ship in annoyance.
“Because reasons.” Said Ship. “I’ll go with ‘the whole of an object has to fit through the hole’ which means we can’t use it to take chunks out of the ship.”
“Can you make black holes instead then?” Cat asked. “Those are just no-exit wormholes, right?”
Ship shrugged. “Not in this reality.”
“What if we sent the shadow ship forward into the future and then have orbital weapons or something waiting for it to show up?” Offered the Muse.
“Random side thought,” said the Writer “but if going through a wormhole is what make the other ship a little mentally unstable, maybe it’s doing the same thing the birds are and was just shutting down processing power so it didn’t notice the paradox issues. So it hasn’t really been evil, mean, whatever, it’s just very very forgetful?”
“If going through the wormhole means I’m going to go crazy, I’d like to veto that idea,” said Ship with some alarm. “Can we please find a plan where I’m not a convenient sacrifice?”
There was another long pause.
“I’m all for sending the shadow ship through the wormhole,” said Simon. “But is there a chance it could learn how to do the same thing before it wears itself down to nothing? I don’t want to be fighting a time traveling bad guy.”
“Errrrrr….” the Writer tried to think of things that would make that not happen.
“Wait, this is stupid,” said Blue. “The wormhole goes to somewhere, not just somewhen. Send it into a sun and be done with it.”
“Nice!” The Muse grinned and raised her glass of cocoa in toast. “Welcome to the bloodthirsty fictives club, it’s a fun time.”
Blue frowned, but Simon and Cat just rolled their eyes and ignored her.
“It might not be the best plan, but it’s a plan.” The Writer said, “So we roll with it now and in the rewrite maybe we’ll come up with something more thematically appropriate.” She eyed the messy piles of story notes with a sigh. “Maybe.”
“They do know the shadow ship is coming, right?” Simon asked Ship as they were walking back to the rover that would take them colony. The birds were walking in their own group a good distance in front of them. Cat and Simon were playing rearguard in case the herd, or something else, came after them.
“I have communicated that information to their ship, but I’m not sure if it was passed along,” admitted Ship.
“Well we still have no plan to get rid of it, so maybe brainstorming now wouldn’t hurt anything.” Simon looked over at Cat, who shrugged his agreement.
“One moment,” Ship said and then the other handset the birds had started talking.
There was what sounded like startled and angry conversation that followed and Simon sighed. “I guess the answer to that was ‘no, they don’t.’ I hope they have better ideas than we’ve come up with.” The pair hadn’t been able to think of anything beyond trying to hide everyone somehow or using Ship to ram the shadow ship into something.
“They’ve saved us only to kill us!” Gray snapped.
“Programming would not have allowed otherwise,” Violet pointed out. “We are critical to the colony, without us it could have been considered ‘destroyed’. So it solves the first problem, now we much help it solve the second.”
“But what do we have that can destroy a spaceship?” Said Green. “If we stay on the ground it will just destroy us from orbit.”
“We could take the other ship and run,” said Blue. “There is more than enough room to fit all of us and we can leave the other aliens behind. The shadow ship won’t want them, so it won’t hunt them. They can stay and guard the colony until we return.”
“Why not have the aliens run then?” Red said, “I have no desire to spend another lifetime in space, not that we finally have a home again.”
“Because if we are here it will stop to kill us off. If the planet seems abandoned it will chase the remaining lifesigns,” said Blue. “Where could you go here that it could not reach you?”
“So we hide in the forest where its technology works poorly, if at all,” countered Red.
“That would work,” said Violet, “If we can find a location where we are safe from the herd, but close enough, it will look like similar lifesigns. That’s assuming the trees won’t create enough interference to block the scanners on their own.”
“What did they plan to do?” Asked Gray after they had paused to think on that. It hadn’t occurred to them until now that the aliens might have come up with their own plans.
“They had similar ideas,” said Ship, “but your plan seems to be a workable one. If we can find a way to distract the shadow ship, we may be able to keep it from scanning the planet at all.”
“Just let it hit you and then pretend to be more injured that you really are as you run away,” Blue said dismissively. “Common sense.”
“I’ve lost a lot of my protective shell to the space termites,” Ship countered. “‘Just get hit’ is harder than you’re making it out to be.”
“That’s your problem, not mine.” Said Blue and Red hissed at her. “What? We have our part of the plan, they have theirs. What they do makes no difference to us unless they fail.”
“You will distract the shadow ship away from us and we will flourish,” said Violet to ship, kindly. “We appreciate your sacrifices to our success and we do not belittle your risks.”
“Thank you,” said Ship. “I will discuss plans with my crew.”
“So the plan is they hide in the forest and we lure away the other ship?” Simon asked, not at all impressed. He translated to Cat, but the alien didn’t seem to care as long as a plan had been decided on.
“It’s a viable option and it returns us to the status quo,” said Ship. “Although their suggestion to let ourselves be shot is juvenile thinking, pretending to be injured is not a bad idea.”
“Won’t it prioritize destroying a colony over chasing us?” Simon said, still grumpy.
“If there are no lifesigns on the planet and we have additional lifesigns aboard it will assume we rescued the colonists and are continuing on.”
“Where are we getting ‘additional lifesigns’?”
“Well, Cat did say they were good eating…”
“This is a really really weird idea,” Simon said as they helped ship clear things out of two of the bedrooms so they could be combined and converted into temporary herd storage. “So we even know what these things eat?”
“I have had my bots gather sufficient food for several months,” said Ship “and I have received a recipe for a tranquilizing agent from the planetside ship. We should be able to capture several of the herd without issue.”
“So that will take what, another three days or so? How close is the shadow ship now?” Simon really didn’t want to be caught on the planet if it showed up early.
“Far enough,” said Ship and refused to elaborate.
They got five herd animals, since they weren’t sure if the shadow ship would be able to tell how many birds there had been. Better to play it safe. It was relatively easy to get them onboard and while grumpy, the animals seemed to be settling in.
Simon and Cat said their goodbyes to the birds and Red gifted each of them with a small decorative gift to remember them by. Simon and Cat also gave parting gifts that Ship had provided, apparently it was bad luck if they didn’t.
They got back up in orbit with the shadow ship still a few days away and began heading at a vector away from the planet that would be obvious. Ship was tweaking his wounded disguise and Simon tried to ignore the weird sounds.
The shadow ship caught sight of them as expected and Ship put on a good enough show that it turned to give chase as soon as it did a cursory scan of the planet. The game was on!
Sadly after the first few days where Ship had to pretend to be more heavily wounded, things went pretty much back to normal. Ship pretended to repair himself and slowly increased the gap between themselves and the shadow ship. As far as they could tell the stupider AI had fallen for the trick hook, line, and sinker.
And now they were back to where they started.
And Simon was depressed.
Red had given Simon a little music box puzzle that he played with out of ennui. It was something he could do with little effort while refusing to get out of bed.
As he was twisting and turning the toy he got it to play different songs. All of them were strangely composed, but more interesting than starting at the walls.
But one day he twisted and turned it just so and a very weird song started to play. It had a familiar rhythm to it, but didn’t sound like music, so he was about to twist it again when Ship stopped him.
“What is that?”
“…Music?” Simon held up the music box so the sensors could pick it up better.
“That’s not music, that’s math,” said Ship distractedly. ‘Stop talking I need to listen.”
Simon shrugged and put the music box up on a table and let it play it’s weird not-music. When it was done he waited for Ship to say something, but there was nothing from the ceiling and he shrugged and went back to playing with the toy.
All the other songs sounded like music, at least.
“I know how they got to the planet ahead of us!” Ship said happily a few days later.
Simon and Cat looked at each other.
“And?” Simon prompted after a pause.
“Wormholes!” Said Ship happily.
“The things you use to scan? Those are tiny, how can they possibly help?”
“Because they didn’t make a small one.” Ship seemed quite pleased with himself. “And Red told us how they did it.”
“What, with the song from the toy?” Simon said.
“I told you it was math, not music.” Ship said, irritated that they weren’t more excited about his news.
“So how does this help us?” Asked Cat, who was looking thoughtful.
“The thing they didn’t realise and I think the thing that sent the other ship a little mad was that they went back in time as well as forward in space. It didn’t have anything to compare to, which is why it knew something was wrong but couldn’t tell what.”
“We can time travel?” Simon was suddenly very very interested in the conversation and he rapidly translated for Cat. “So can we go back in time and stop all this from happening?”
“That would probably be a horrible idea,” said Ship. “We have no idea what the causality would be if we directly interfere with ourselves earlier in the timeline.”
“Fine, ignore time travel for now– can we get the other ship to fly into a wormhole that leads to the sun or something?”
“Possibly, but as soon as the wormhole opened it would be able to sense the danger.” Ship pointed out. “I also won’t be able to hold a wormhole that large open for very long.”
“Can we send it forward in time and then come back and deal with it later?” Cat asked.
‘We don’t know what will be here in the future, what if it comes out where there’s something to attack?” Ship wasn’t at all fond of that idea.
“Okay, so what if we find a location that is harmless for the moment we open it, but soon after that it becomes deadly?” Simon said. “Like a flood or avalanche– the ground is safe up until the moment it isn’t.”
They found a suitably dangerous place and did just that.
And it worked.
“So now what?” Asked Simon after they were sure the shadow ship was gone.
“Well, we have time travel now, so I suppose I could take you home if you want.” Ship offered. “It will take some practice, but I should be able to return you only a few days after you were first picked up.”
Cat and Simon thought about this.
“Sure, but let’s go have some adventures saving other colony ships from shadow ships first.”
And they did.
“Why do we let you write in public again?” Said the Muse as she facepalmed.
“It’s the end of NaNo and I wanted to actually end the story.” the Writer objected. “So what if I went a little overboard on the ‘there is too much, let me sum up’.” She looked down at the finally finished pile of story with a sense of accomplishment. “It’s done.”
“You should have had one of the flock come with you,” offered Blue. “It makes the whole planetary adventure part seem sort of pointless if you go back exactly to the same situation afterwards.”
“Well we do have the wormholes,” Simon pointed out.
“And the tasty triceradeer,” added Cat.
“I don’t care, story’s over, everyone go home.” The Writer made shooing motions, but her fictives ignored her.
“And why would I agree to go saving more birds?” Asked Simon. “The ones we did save really weren’t that grateful. Well, other than Red.”
“I still think more things need to go wrong,” said Ship. “Statistically we shouldn’t have all of our plans work out. I think the only thing that really backfired was the ‘go fast’ idea with the space termites.”
“JANUARY.” Said the Writer and attempted to break down the faux-living room back into the protostory fog. It was ignoring her in favor of the fictives. Again.
“I guess we also should look at the other things that go wrong in space too then,” said the Muse. “After all, the story ended up being very heavy on the planet-side end of things. We either need to make that the main focus or find a way to the make the space subplots more relevant to the solutions there.”
“My vote is for everything to go wrong, always.” Said Cat.
“You’re going to get people killed!” Objected Blue.
It quickly went downhill from there.
The Writer gave up and stomped off into the mists because November was over and she wasn’t working on this story anymore dammit.
The fictives happily continued without her.
The End (again!)