Well! It seems my offhand comment about not knowing anything about publishing has drawn some attention. Kim, my silly but dear friend, has offered to teach me what she’s learned!
Of course, I still believe that writing is fun no matter what other people think of it. Even if no one ever buys my work I will still write! I will write until every story I want to tell is completed! As it says in Ecclesiastes 9:5 –
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might; for there is no activity or planning or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol where you are going.”
See that, Kim? Some day we’ll be dead! And it doesn’t matter if a publisher has printed our work or not–if we haven’t written our stories by the time we die then they will never be finished! And it’s not like I’ll want to sit down and write in Heaven. Are you kidding me? I’m going to be playing Diablo with Moses. I’ll bet his Witch Doctor is pretty geared up.
So enough delays! Let the crappy first draft of chapter one of Abandonment Party 3 begin!
1 – Advent of the Nameless
Darrow lounged in the shade of the large monument on the roof of the Imperial Pyramid. Behind his chair sat the case displaying a plaque dedicated to Trisk. A sweater and change of clothes were folded in a neat pile inside. Darrow noticed that the sunlight had almost crept over to his right arm. He swung one leg off the lounge chair and scooted his chair to the left a few inches.
“Is it getting too hot for you out here?” Tenny asked. He was walking over from one of the hex doors: dressed in shorts and a deep brown dress shirt. A tag he wore on his chest read ‘TENNY;’ a logo on his arm read ‘ALLSHIFT.’ Darrow cleared his throat.
“Hey, I’ll stay out here as long as it takes. I’m just used to the shade in Blue Forest is all.”
Tenny came up to the monument. He opened a plastic bag, taking a thermos out of it. “Gamemaster Kello lives there, right? She might be getting lonely; you should go visit.”
“Nice try, man,” Darrow said, taking the thermos and twisting off the top. “Trisk needs me here–so do the plants.” He nodded over at the large beds of soil that were laid out along the perimeter of the square rooftop. “Every time someone sends flowers to one of these graves I make sure they get planted.”
Tenny smiled, glancing over at the beds. Stalks, leaves, and flowers of every color and size jutted out of the soil with no hint of predetermined arrangement. “Yes, I know. You tell me every time I come up here.”
“And he’s doing a fine job, fine job!” King bellowed as he made his way over from a clump of cacti. His velvet tunic was trimmed with gold and his crown glimmered atop his brow. “Tenny! Haven’t seen you since the funeral!” Tenny gave a curt nod as King arrived. “And that’s an Allshift uniform! Tenny, I had no idea; I do endorsement deals with them all the time. Hex doors make convenience stores truly convenient, I like to say.”
“Don’t I know it,” Tenny said. “I put up about a dozen signs saying exactly that every Spring.”
King chuckled, then sighed. “I hope the recent troubles haven’t been too hard on you. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but ever since Pinada’s attack the hex doors have been used less and less. I’ve been doing everything I can to keep business going. I’ve even started talking to some people from your world, Darrow.”
Darrow waved his hand an a large, chipped mug appeared on his lap. He took the thermos and poured a bit of juice in. “Yeah, I heard they’re setting up airports here.”
King tilted his head with an indecisive frown. “Well, those are a bit expensive. I was thinking more of a land-based venture. It’s actually why I’m here–I’m meeting someone. He insisted on driving all the way to the pyramid to show off the vehicle’s dependability. He even told me that he knew Parlay–can you believe it? A Mr. Tyle Dhaston.”
Darrow choked on the sip he was taking and lowered his mug to his lap. “What!? I thought that guy was dead? Well, he looked dead the last time I saw him.”
Tenny crossed his arms. “You mean he knew that other Parlay, then?”
“Yeah,” Darrow answered. “He was also Trisk’s ex-boyfriend or something. Shoot–he’ll probably want to wait on her too.”
“I can never tell if he’s kidding or not,” Tenny told King. King shrugged.
“He mentioned he had some sort of disability; he wasn’t dead. Oh–look! It’s Dark and, oh, Jelk.”
“Hey guys!” Jelk called out. He pulled on the tuft of hair jutting out beneath his lower lip. “You got my coffee ready for me? Breakfast?” Tenny reached into his plastic bag and produced a stick of beef jerky. “I’ll take it,” Jelk said.
Dark came up to the group, his face set. “I assume Darrow’s already told you.”
“About the flowers?” Tenny asked.
Dark groaned. “About Mean being kidnapped?”
“Darrow, what!?” King roared. “Mean’s been kidnapped!?”
Darrow shrunk into his lounge chair. “Well! You were all in such a good mood!”
“How could this happen!?” Tenny demanded. “And are you sure it was someone? Not the virus?”
“She went to a prison on our world,” Dark began. “She went to visit an inmate named Mackaba.” He took a breath, rubbing one palm against the other. “Both of them disappeared, guards and prison workers were injured”–he threw out his hands–“and no one remembers how any of it happened.”
King paced. “So you think it was the prisoner? Are they covering something up?”
Darrow set his mug down on the roof. “I think it’s worse than that. I was reading an article online about a guard that says one of the prisoners knows what happened. He says he was in his cell, right? Then some guys in suits and a woman just start strutting through the cell block. After that a bunch of weird stuff happens and no one remembers. But–! The prisoner says that he remembers everything. And not only from his point of view, either: as if he was the guard, the other prisoners, and even Mean and Mackaba.”
King froze, snapping his fingers. “Like at my fair! When Templetine mixed everyone’s memories up! It’s them! Those intruders! Those monsters! I’ll call Conneld. I’ll–“
“I appreciate it, King,” Dark said, cutting him off. “But we don’t need to look for them. It’s why I told you to meet me here: they’ll be arriving any time now.”
“The parallax shift has been completed.”
The man with armor spoke. “Are we in correct position?” He shot a sideways glance through his visor at a man wearing a military uniform. A rank was marked on his shoulder and a name was printed on his chest. A nation’s flag was displayed upon a diamond-shaped hat. All of these details were marred beyond recognition by black burns.
“Bow hawk?” the man in the marred uniform asked. He addressed someone on the far end of the rounded platform where they all stood. Below that metallic disk the curve of a planet stretched out. The sun shone overhead: a bright glare in black space.
“We are; everything looks normal,” the bow hawk replied. He sat strapped to a chair, with a cylindrical station set before him covered in buttons, monitors, and differing gages. He wore a uniform that was charred as the first man’s was, and at the back and sides of the platform three more just like him sat strapped in seats. “We’re descending and should arrive in eleven minutes.”
“You should get strapped in, captain,” the armored man said. His sleek suit wrapped around his entire body, marked with dark splotches. He wore a harness that held a wheel to his back: with three spokes radiating out to an outer circle edged with sharpened gear’s teeth.
“Yes, Sain,” the captain replied. He reclined into a seat, buckling himself tight with black straps. He removed his diamond-shaped hat and held it to his lap.
“Did you tell them?” Dark asked. He stepped out of the rooftop hex door, his old breastplate fastened to his chest.
“Well, I’m not actually in charge of anything; the military just rents this place out from me,” King explained. “And they didn’t believe me until they saw that.” He pointed off to into the distance. A river flowed through the valley where the pyramid hovered; the water flowed off to the horizon, and there in the sky a steak trailed from the clouds. From the hills the whine of a siren began.
“So you’ll help get me on board?”
King nodded. “I’m not leaving this place unguarded, though.”
Dark extended his hand and King shook it. “Thanks. And how about the rest of you?”
Tenny coughed. “Why are you just now telling us about this? How about giving us a tad bit more notice?”
“We just now figured out they’re the ones who took Mean,” Darrow said. Tenny’s eyes widened.
“Oh, so you weren’t going to tell us about this otherwise?” He stepped around Darrow. “You just thought you’d stay silent? Just like how you did during Pinada’s attack?”
“We stopped him,” Dark said. “Just like how we’ll stop this.”
Tenny snorted. He tipped his head back, calling out to the monument where a sword and weathered cloth bearing a crest hung. “You hear, that, Donzel? They stopped him! Aren’t you happy about that?”“I don’t know every detail,” Dark said. “I barely know anything about what happens here today.”
“Now really isn’t the time,” King told them. Tenny stared back at Dark. Jelk pulled on the tuft of hair beneath his lower lip.
“I’m totally lost,” he admitted. Five objects emerged from the hills and were launched into the air. They flew in a “V” formation, following the river’s coast. The glowing streak had left a blurred smear from the clouds; a tall figure now hung over the water.
“Five bogeys approaching,” the bow hawk announced. “Sub-sonic speeds.”
“Put it up for us,” the captain told him. He was still seated, with Clance and his twin flanking his sides. The valley scrolled along below the platform; the river and pyramid were ahead. The bow hawk touched his controls and the sky before him warped, enlarged, and displayed five goggled men riding stone rory shells.
“Cougo, Are those people riding seashells?” Clance asked his twin.
“Ridiculous!” Cougo laughed. Clance looked over at the armored man.
“Elder Sain, shall I–?”
“No,” Sain replied. “Get your avatar ready. Captain–do nothing unless we are attacked.”
Clance took the hairpin from his suit and held it by the ornate wing on the end. He lowered himself to the floor with a thump, crossing his legs. With a sigh he closed his eyes.
“Port hawk, what’s happening?” the captain asked. The woman on the far left of the platform replied.
“They’ve circled around us. One is approaching while the others hang back.”
The four rories could be seen against the blue sky on her side of the disk. The remained there, their riders watching.
“It’s made contact with the hull.” She looked back at the captain and the disk tipped to the side; jerking her forward again. Cougo lost his balance, catching the back of the captain’s chair before his large mass toppled. The rories vanished as the section of sky went blank. Elder Sain stood, unmoved.
“Magic on this side is gone; they knocked out our generator with something!” the port hawk cried. Cougo clutched the chair, his feet slipping as the platform tilted further. Elder Sain tipped his head at the captain.
“I guess the other sides had better pick up the slack.”
“I’m sending you some of our power, port,” the uniformed hawk from the back said. The blank section of sky filled in with green and blue to display the valley and sky once more. The five rories were zipping around in formation.
“Give me that chair!” Cougo barked at the captain as the disk leveled out. The captain obeyed with a momentary scowl that vanished as quickly as it had appeared. Cougo plopped down, barely fitting in the seat. “That miserable Shirka! She could have mentioned this!”
“The hostiles are on this side now; they’re sending two this time,” the hawk in the back told them. “Shall I fire?”
“No, I have them,” a voice hummed. All five rories plummeted, the two that were approaching twirling as they dipped from sight.
“Thank you, Clance,” Sain said with a grin behind his clear visor. He turned to where Clance was still seated with the pin in his hand: he had fallen over when the platform had tipped. Sain took his collar and pulled him back up.
Tenny watched from the roof as five bright parachutes bloomed. They floated behind the approaching object: a statue of two people, standing together; facing away from each other at a shallow angle. The parachutes fell past the two pairs of feet: perched on a rounded mass that was blacked and scorched. The statue on the left was that of a man. A name was written along the hight of his leg, yet it was all painted over. His arms were folded across his heart and his face bore no features save a large dent on brow. The figure on the right was a woman: her face was hallowed out and it wore a braided crown decorated with glass wings. Her arms were cut off just below the elbows, and there were ashen smears running along parts of her body. The entire thing’s shadow darkened the river, spanning the two coasts as it came closer.
“How is that thing a ship!?” King asked.
“What did it do to the rories?” Darrow cried.
Dark clutched the railing, staring out.
“You thought you could just fly out there,” Tenny stated. He eyed Dark’s breastplate. Cocoa was slithering along the back, his eye stalks swerving to and fro. “I guess some of this really is surprising you.”
“Yes, it is, Tenny,” Dark said. “And if you were going to leave, you’d better do it while you can.”
“What a strange design for a building,” Cougo said from the captain’s chair as they neared the pyramid. The sides facing them were cast in shadow as the entire thing rotated in a steady, slow spin.
“I think it’s a defensive design,” the captain offered. He paced toward the Bow Hawk, pointing at the scene displayed on the wrap-around monitor. “See there? Just one point is touching the ground. A land-based invasion force would have to reach that spot. And since the building gets wider the higher it goes that means there are plenty of positions to attack from on any of the pyramid’s sides.
“I am reading armaments from the structure,” the bow hawk confirmed.
“Then we should obviously wait until Clance’s avatar is strong enough to knock out the power before proceeding,” Elder Sain said. He looked over at Cougo, and then at the captain. “I’m only joking. Tell Slaberdashia that we’re ready to set her loose. If we attack while they’re helpless, they may believe they stand a chance otherwise. Let them fight back; let them know that we will take what we want no matter how hard they struggle.”
– I came up with the design for the ship the day I wrote it down. In the years before that it was just a generic “sleek, long, star destroyer” type thing in my mind. I knew keeping it like that would be boring but I didn’t know what to do; not until I was forced to come up with something. It’s like I’m always trying to tell Kim: Sometimes ideas won’t become clear until you actually attempt to write it out. SO WRITE ALREADY, KIM. Don’t steal my idea, though, ha,ha.
– I also just came up with the monitor room that wraps completely around the ship’s command bridge. That’s also why it’s such an awful description. I bet you just thought they were floating around space on a giant frisbee or something.
– I decided to go with the name “Cougo” even though Matt told me that it’s slang for something weird on Urban Dictionary. Ha! Did that stop Akira Toriyama from using names like Piccolo, Trunks, and Mr. Satan!? No! And besides, everyone’s name means something else! Just look in the un-urban online dictionary: “Mat” is a protective covering to wipe your shoes on! “Brad” is a wire nail that you use to fasten envelopes shut! “Kim” is, uh, ‘a male or female given name?’
Dang it, girl. Why do you always have to spoil everything for me? >:(