Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Writing Process Part Three: Writing Phase

Disclaimer: My process may not be your process. I'm not above making mistakes. Yadda, yadda, yadda, blah, blah, blah and so on.

At this point in the process, I’ve covered all the research that I think I’ll need before I get into the nitty-gritty of writing. There’s ALWAYS more research that will be needed like little factoids to check, verbiage to verify, and maybe even big things that I didn’t anticipate. However, for this story, I think I’m ready to start typing.

The first scene is very important as it sets the tone for the whole piece. When the reader starts the book they have a blank slate, more or less, in their minds. Chances are they’ve read the blurb, perhaps read the excerpt and viewed the cover, but they really don’t know what to expect. They’re completely open and if you screw up the first scene you could be sending your reader in the wrong direction.

The beauty of writing in this day and age, you can screw up anything and correct it with just a few keystrokes. So, don’t sweat this too much, but do keep in mind you want a strong first scene.

I’ve heard some good tips about first scenes and I’m going to take a moment to share some a couple of them. Some people like to start in the middle of a conversation. Some like to start with some action (sexual or otherwise). Some like to start with the ending of something and that “hooks” the reader because they have to mentally scramble to piece it together. Some say those are horrible ways to start a scene. Um…I think that’s all I’ve read about first scenes beyond making them strong. (Whatever the frick that means.)

There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.
W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965)

I keep all of this in mind when I’m working with my first scene, but I don’t bang my head against the screen trying to make it fit some kind of formula.

I try to have a rough idea of what the blurb will be and I never expect something revealed in the blurb to be a point so suspense in the story.

Let me restate that for emphasis, because I don’t think many authors realize how much they kill their story with the blurb. Do not spoil your story with your summaries and blurbs. Fanfic writers, if your story hinges on a secret pairing DO NOT list the pairing in your summary.

Let’s all take a moment and think about how often we’ve read spoilers in blurbs. Kind of scary isn’t it? Yes, I know I mentioned Kendrick needing to find Byron in the blurb of Full Circle, but I never expected the reader to expect Byron and Kendrick to not be together. Come on, did ANYONE really expect them to NOT get together? No. No one expected that. So, I didn’t count on that being a suspenseful plot point, but I did use it as a normal plot point.

Sometimes suspense will sneak up on you. I never expected Anand and Daniel staying together to be a point of suspense in About to Sin. Due to the way that story is being presented I realized that, somehow, I managed to put suspense in there and it got to the point that it hurt the story. Some readers feared so much for the fate of the relationship that they were holding back on an emotional connection with the characters and the relationship. That’s a compliment, really. It means that I’ve written it well enough that some readers are right there with the boys in the “How can we work this out, because I don’t see a good way here” thing. It also means that I’ve written the sympathetic characters.

I gambled on assuring everyone that Anand and Daniel will be together come hell or high water. That seems to be working because the suspense is now where I want it. Not IF they will be together, but HOW is it all going to work out? Will Daniel leave the priesthood to be with Anand and how much will it crush him? Will Daniel stay in the priesthood and keep the relationship on the DL? Would Anand, someone who is out and proud, be willing to do that in a relationship? How long could Daniel hide a DL relationship and how would he settle the issues inside of him for doing something like that? I don’t like “ifs” being the point of suspense. If the reader figures it out, assumes the ending or if I slip up and give it away before I want to, then the suspense goes right out the window and I’ve lost the reader to boredom. If the reader figured out the ending, but can’t figure out HOW it will all work out, I’m golden.

With this sci-fi story what’s something I will need to include in the blurb to hit my target readers, but I wish I wouldn’t have to? The fact that Ryir is male and not female. More specifically, I’m going to have to include that Ryir is a eunuch. This book will be listed in the yaoi or gay fiction section of the catalog. I’ll need to spill the beans on this before the reader even opens the book. So, at no point in time should I expect Ryir’s gender (or would that be sex?) to be a point of suspense for the reader. This means I need to focus on making the HOW of this revelation interesting, because the revelation itself won’t be. The reader will know long before the characters know. If I can get the character worrying about how this information might change things, then I’m golden. However, I’m not counting on that. Does anyone think Kaz and Ryir won’t get together? Nope. I can’t use that. So, I need to focus on the process of them getting together being interesting. Kaz and Ryir getting together: no suspense. Kaz and Ryir staying together: in this story there’s believable suspense, but I’m still not counting on it. To be honest, I’m not exactly sure where the suspense will be in this story and I ain’t sweating it. I’ll find it.

So, with this sci-fi story that I still haven’t named, what do I need for a first scene? I want to show the setting: outer space. I need to show the humor. I also need to get the main couple together so I can start working on the relationship. This is a yaoi story and an erotic story. The relationship aspect cannot be pushed to second. It needs to be handled with every bit of care as the plot of the story. Additionally in the first scene, I need to give the reader some foundational knowledge about the characters without it being an infodump.

Also, this scene is pretty important for my writing style. Remember I write linearly (aka sequentially) so as I write I’m building upon what I’ve written and I’ve never changed the opening paragraph of a story. I’ve tweaked it and edited it, but I’ve never changed it. So, I’m counting on what I type to stick.

So, with all of that in my mind, I turn off the ringers to my phone. Set up a techy play list (Billy Idol’s Cyberpunk mainly) and pull up a blank document. I close my eyes and get wrapped up in the music. I use my mind’s eye to see what’s going on and eventually my fingers will start punching keys. Point of note: When I’m struggling to type, I will sit with my eyes closed and blindly touch type until I’m “feeling it” and can carry on with my eyes open.

Here’s the first chapter with my comments in italics. For publishing purposes, I won’t be able to share the whole story. I can only share what would logically be considered and excerpt. So, please, understand when I don’t share the whole thing. However, I don’t think any publisher will begrudge me sharing a rough draft of a few pages here and there.

Begin chapter one:

The spaceport teemed with life. Humanoids from all over gathered at the merchant port. Kaz stood at the promenade and watched the people on the lower deck shift and move. The mass of beings appeared to meld into a single organism. An ameba of sorts that oozed in one direction, shrank in another and wriggled in a third.

People came, deposited their swathe of color in the ameba and left for whatever their destination was. The food merchants hit the top of nearly everyone’s list. A few stragglers simply lingered looking like lost tourists. Kaz smirked when one man pulled out a digicam. Not like tourists, they were tourists. And most definitely lost if they were taking a picture of the bathroom entrance.

Some people may think I’ve killed this story before it had a chance with these two paragraphs. Starting a story with the setting isn’t considered all that strong. I couldn’t think of a good action scene and a middle of a conversation thing didn’t seem fitting. So, I’ve tried to highlight the humor. I think “oozed” and “wriggled” are funny words and the thoughts of a tourist taking a picture of a public bathroom makes me snicker. I think this will work.

Also point of note: I used the word digicam. I think anyone who lives in our day an age will know that’s a camera. Yes, this is a sci-fi story and I could have called it anything. However, if I’d used a really strange word I would have needed to bog down the sentence to explain it to the reader. Additionally, humans are creatures of habit. Once we get words we tend to hold onto them. From telegraph through teletype and telephone and ending with telecommunications all of those words begin with “tele.” I don’t think in the future things will be named all that different. How long has Latin been a dead language and how many of our new terms still have Latin roots? I doubt anyone will call me on if the word digicam will be used in X century. I might be writing about the future, but I need contemporary readers to be able to understand it. Besides most speculative fiction becomes laughable when the future becomes now. Do I need to ask for my “in the year 2000” flying car or self-cleaning house to make my point clearer? I’m not going to fret over coming up with super-duper “space age polymer” words for things that might very well have mundane words like “plastic”.

Nearly everything could be found at space station Dirk, named after the man who discovered and refined the use of Dirk Crystals as space-going fuel. Kaz didn’t care about Dirk, his crystals or whatever that Miyla vendor sold.

That other Miylas ate.

That moved.

That smelled like wet tar covered in burning rubber.

He especially didn’t care about that.

Two things with this section. I included the Dirk Crystals thing to cover my ass over why people in the future can travel through space. At one time I was an avid sci-fi reader, but I didn’t pay attention to the tools writers would give themselves. I was just a reader and that’s going to hurt me with this story. Will sci-fi readers expect me to explain the science in this story? I mean, really explain the science or will some things, like space travel, go without question? I don’t know.

The second thing is the structure for the Miyla vendor. I used that structure for humor (controlling pace for humor). I thought delivering the funny in such a way would boost the humor, but that’s very risky structure and I should be prepared for an editor to make me change it. And, I forgot something very important. The reader isn’t in my head. I need to describe the aliens. However, I can cover that in self-editing. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times. Writing gets it down. Editing makes it pretty.

The Duster, Kaz’s ship, a lean, mean, vicious bounty hunting ship, was in for some-billionth light-year overhaul, assuming the odometer’s accuracy could be trusted. That mattered to Kaz, but it stood second to something that had to be the jewel of the universe: Karne Cream Soda.

This paragraph is also risky. The Duster isn’t a lean, mean, vicious bounty hunting ship. That’s what Kaz THINKS it is and this paragraph runs the risk of deceiving the reader or making it look like I have a continuity problem. Hopefully, I’ll be able to make it clear to the reader later on. Also, this is written from Kaz’s POV and what he thinks is what needs to be written. The truth or the difference between Kaz’s POV and reality is brought out by interacting with other characters. The POV character can be wrong, but you don’t want them so wrong as to be deceiving the reader.

However, this paragraph does give the reader Kaz’s motivation for being where he is. The man is thirsty and only one drink in the universe is important to him right now.

He turned his back to the ameba below the railing and stared at the Karne store. He liked to take his time and savor the moment with this. The store front was every bit as colorful as the Karne culture wasn’t.

The structure of that last sentence is risky. It’s odd structure and one that some people consider as feeling incomplete. I, personally, like that structure.

The Karne, from a desert planet, tended to dress in dull tans. Their language looked to be little more than variations of wind-waves on dunes. This store, run by a presumably orthodox Karne man, knew the importance of color in advertising. As if Karne Cream Soda needed advertising.

I need to explain why Kaz thinks the Karne man is orthodox.

Some demi-god on that forsaken planet concocted the most succulent formula ever known to human taste buds and especially Miyla taste buds. That formula put Karne on the star charts, in nearly every spaceport and at the top of Kaz’s supply list.

As he approached the store, he didn’t need the adverts to remind him of the pale amber color, white fizz and shifting bubbles. His mind easily recalled the mellow mix of exotic spice blended with a smooth cream—a taste equally crisp and creamy.

Karne Cream Soda came in fresh, hydrated, dehydrated, canned and even frozen varieties. A supply of canned should be onboard the Duster now. Kaz came here for the fresh variety. The best variety. A little slice of the divine when served so cold the glass started to sweat before the pour was finished.

At this point, I want the reader to at least on a small level to want to taste this fictional soda.

The intercom over his ear beeped. He tapped the ear piece expecting one of the crew to be contacting him.

“You about ready? Maintenance is done.” The voice a low baritone meant one person and only one person.

“Yeah, Enron, I just gotta get a Cream Soda and I’ll be back to ship.”

“If you knew the history, you wouldn’t call your accountant, ‘Enron.’”

Kaz smirked. Maybe he did know the history and still felt the nickname fit. Did Enron ever think of that? Nope. The crew never gave him enough credit.

I’m beginning to show a bit of the relationship dynamics between Kaz and his crew here.

“And you can’t deceive me. You’re not going in for just the soda.”

Oh yes, he was.

“You’re going in there for that Karne woman.”

Well…there was her. Kaz smiled. “What can I say? I’m in love.” He patted his chest to emphasize the point.

And now we see the real reason this soda is so important, or do we? Is it possible that our hero puts a wonderful woman on the same level or below that of a soda? This can hurt me or help me. It will vary from reader to reader.

“Yeah, for the twelfth time in an E.A. year.” The snide tone to Enron’s voice indicated the number-cruncher wasn’t taking this love affair seriously.

The reader should be asking what “E.A.” is.

“That’s not true and since when do you accurately understand Earth Alpha’s time references?” And touché!

And answered. I’ve established how most time will be measured. I needed an increment of time that the reader would be able to understand. Star Trek may have the stardate, but Scotty still gave his estimates in hours—Earth hours.

“About the same time you learned her name.”

Kaz’s lips pulled into a thin line. That stung. They’d been here for six E.A months and he’d fallen in love with her with the first soda. Karne women were veiled in as much mystery as their bodies were fabric. Normally not seen beyond the confines of their own planet and sometimes their own homes, they wore fabric from head to toe with only their eyes exposed to the outside world.

Is anyone going to think that I’m talking about anything other than a burka?

So, he didn’t know her name and he didn’t know what her face looked like. None of that mattered. He knew her eyes. Those glorious breath-taking eyes. He saw them peering at him between layers of fabric in his sleep. There’s something about being denied seeing anything else on her that made her eyes seem all the more stunning.

The Karne were an attractive race to begin with possessing sloped eyes and upswept ears. Her eyes haunted Kaz. Their slant whispered of feline evolution. The wet of her eyes grabbed the light and sparkled rivaling the very drink the men around her served. Her irises, a shocking silver, pierced Kaz’s chest with every risky glance. The pupils, as black as her thick eyelashes, formed an elliptical pool of secrets.

I may have gone too heavy here with the SPESHUL eyes. However, this I write yaoi and this is one of the luxuries we get to enjoy. Also, this is the only part of her body, essentially, that he can see. So it makes sense to me that he would see them as oh-so-wonderful. As a side note: this section is an homage to the notes I read from an anthropologist about his studies in Afghanistan (pre-war). The way he described one woman’s eyes blew me away and I still don’t think I captured it right. I don’t want to plagiarize the man, but what he grabbed in with a few sentences with something I can’t do in two paragraphs. *groan*

Every so often, he’d sneak a peek at her hands—long thin fingers with light pink nail beds and warm tan skin. She had to be beautiful. Had to be.

The long thin fingers is the first hint to the reader that not all is as it seems. Only the people who know the physiological changes common to eunuchs will pick up on it.

Damn that fabric.

Being denied her visage, made him crave it even more.

“Hurry up.” Enron’s voice put his baritone to her face—a vision Kaz never wanted to visit again. “Get your soda, get your heart-broken and get back to the ship. We have job.”

“Who are we going after?”

“Cargo job.”

Kaz winced. Not another cargo job! “We’re bounty hunters not cargo carriers.”

“Right.” Enron drew out the word. “That’s why we’re in a cargo ship. Perfectly logical.”

“We’re in a cargo ship because that’s what I could afford at the time.”

“Look do you want to be the fastest cargo carrier or the slowest bounty hunter?”

Kaz sighed and his shoulders slumped. “But being a bounty hunter is so much cooler than being a cargo carrier. Dog fights and races. Not ‘sign here for delivery conformation.’” It wasn’t his fault they showed up at bounty hits last. The Duster was meant to be a bounty hunter ship. Slick and fast and…and…completely and totally bulky and under-gunned.

Yes, our hero is a bit shallow.

Enron cleared his throat. No doubt waiting for Kaz to relent. Again.

“What are we carrying?” He relented.

Somewhere in here I need to add a line about modifications made to the engine. There are two reasons why they’re the fastest cargo ship and the slowest bounty hunters. Kaz in his quest to be a bounty hunter, gave the Duster wonderful engines. The second reason is that they have turned off the artificial inside the cargo holds. The fact that the base design of the ship is that of a cargo ship and not a speeder makes it slower than the speeder, but the modifications make it faster than a typical cargo.

Oh, and there’s a third reason they’re the fastest and it has to do with them being stupid…I mean…daring…no let’s go with stupid enough to use Fold Portals. That’s rooted in the idea that the shortest distance between two places is, in fact, a curve and not a straight line. I can’t really explain the physics behind that or Einstein’s theory. Since none of the characters can either, I don’t have to. Fold Portals are basically what we’d call wormhole, but they’re less stable. In this universe the coordinates to such holes travel in black market circles. That’s also connected to the THEORY that traveling and speeds faster than light have to happen in envelopes and travel in protected areas that are basically between planes of existence.

Umm…yea…I totally don’t understand all of that, but I know enough of the basic concept to get across what I think the reader will need to know. Then again, no one may question why in my sci-fi FICTIONAL story people can travel in space ships.

“We’re being paid enough to not ask that question.”

All right, that was a little cool. “It better not be toys again.”

“Like the bunny you put a spiked collar on?”

“That’s our mascot not a toy, ya snippy bastard. Kaz out.” He tapped the com unit disconnecting the transmission. He didn’t need this kind of abuse. Grease gave him all the abuse he could ever need. And Bunny Duster certainly didn’t deserve that lack of respect. Cute little bunny with blue ears and a pink nose. A little heart on his tummy. And when Kaz squeezed Bunny Duster’s tummy, the furry ears would stand up. How could that not be the best mascot in the history of ship mascots?

Who doesn’t like a hero with a cute little bunny? Whoa…I just reminded myself of Ni. Ok, I SO don’t mean for there to be any connection with Ni. Ni is hardly a hero, right?

When he walked into the store, one of the Karne men stood. “Same as earlier?”

Kaz nodded. She remained seated on a stool with her eyes cast toward the floor. Five other men mulled around behind the counter seemingly acting busier than they were. As the man poured the soda, Kaz looked at her without trying to appear as if he was looking at her. He’d be leaving soon and this would be his last vision of her. Silently pleading for her to look up, he tried to make a memory.

Pale linen covered her from head to toe. Fabric piled up in her lap and swallowed her feet. Her hands, folded over her thighs, quivered in a barely perceptible tremble. The soda, in a sealed cup, clacked down on the counter before him. She slowly blinked and cut her eyes up.

Blood scurried from Kaz’s face. His breath left him and his heart nearly hammered its way out of his chest. She was risking her life giving him that glance and he knew it. Trying not make the situation worse for her, he smiled at the man and offered his cred-stick for payment.

“Was risking” need to be changed to “risked.” That’s an obvious “be verb” fix.

Water already beaded on the sides of the glass and the amber color, for some reason, didn’t seem nearly as pretty as it should have. “You gentlemen…” He took a chance and looked at her. “…and lady, have a wonderful day.” With his cup in hand, he turned and mentally bid the store farewell.

Didn’t seem nearly as pretty as it should have. Oh dear, is some woman knocking the soda from Kaz’s number one spot?

Angry voices, in the Karne language, pushed against the back of his shoulders. Damn it. He took two steps toward the door. In the reflection of a particularly glossy advert, he saw the outline of her being snatched up by the shoulder. Double damn it. Guilt pressed against his chest. Was it her glance or his salutation that did this?

Does the shallow hero with an affinity for fluffy bunnies and risky jobs actually have an ethical streak?

One of the men, the reflection was too vague to determine which one, pushed her from out behind the counter. Another man barked at her in a tone that screamed of admonishment. Kaz’s gut twisted.

Gut or guts?

She dropped to her knees. A stumble or a sign of submission? He wasn’t sure. This wasn’t his culture. He shouldn’t get involved.

But, he kind of caused it, right?

Any more action on his part might make it worse for her. So, why was he turning around?

One of the Karne men, the one who made the soda, lifted his hand. Her arms snapped up defending her face. Kaz darted toward her and snatched her wrist. Not his place. Not his culture, but his instincts wouldn’t let him leave it like that.

I need to add something here, like him putting himself between her and the Karne man. Kaz grabbing her wrist is NEEDED, but it doesn’t really protect her in any way. I know what I was trying for here, but it doesn’t work. This needs attention.

Damn ethics.

She looked up at him with terror in her eyes. Fuck! He’d touched her and thus signed her death warrant.

The whine of charging blaster pistols sliced his ears. After ripping himself from her eyes, he scanned the barrels of five pistols pointed at him. A sixth directly at her.


Nothing to do now, but…”Run!” he screamed. Partly yanking on her and partly of her own volition she secured her footing and together they raced for the door. One bolt buzzed by his ear shattering the glass of the pneumatic door. Glass crunched under foot as he, with her in tow and drink in hand, cleared the door.

I need to figure out if “partly of her own volition” is a POV slip or not. He would be able to tell if she was helping herself stand because of the pull against his arm, but will the reader see it that way? Actually, readers don’t give must attention to little POV slips like this, but editors do. So will the editor see it like this?

The rest of the store’s windows crashed to the deck as the men unloaded their charged bolts. One bolt ricocheted off something and skimmed some of the sweat off his glass.

Now, that was going too far! Attacking the innocent soda? Wrong—wrong on a multitude of levels. Ducking and darting through the crowd, the alternating whine and buzz of the pistols, followed them. Tapping the com unit with his wrist, Kaz yelled at the crew, “Start the engines! Start the engines!”

“What’d you do this time?” Enron asked.

“This time” all the back story the reader could possibly need.

Hoping to get lost in the ameba of people on the lower deck, he aimed for the elevator. Blaster bolts charred the thick clear doors as they closed. The feminine electronic voice of the elevator spoke, “Doors closing. Stand clear.”

Through the walls of the elevator, Kaz watched people scramble for cover on both the upper and lower floors. Security rushed toward the commotion and a couple of the Karne men faded into the panicked crowd.

She, with labored breath, leaned against the side of the elevator car. Her palm with her fingers stretched out seemed to hold more of her weight than her feet. She had to have the longest fingers he’d ever seen on a female. Crappy upbeat music from some world filled the elevator.

Two things. Once again, I’m mentioning her long fingers. That’s another clue. It’s very subtle as women can have long fingers and be fully female, but it’s still a clue. And the upbeat music bit needs to be expanded. I don’t think ironic humor carries. I’m trying to give the reader the image of chaos all around the elevator as last decade’s “snappy, poppy” pop music is piped into the elevator.

“Did you get hit?”

She didn’t respond.

“What did you do, Kaz!” Enron asked again.

The elevator dinged and the electronic voice spoke again, “Doors opening. Merchant deck one. Enjoy your visit at Space Station Dirk. Good day.” The doors hissed and parted.

Worry would have to wait. He hoped she could still run. She straightened to her full height and Kaz nearly dropped his soda. She had to be close to his height and he was 6’ 3”. Are all Karne women that tall?

Her height is a clue that something is amiss also. Is it possible for the female of an alien species to be nearly 6’3”? Yep, sure is. But, it’s also a point of observation needed for the eunuch status.

Zig-zagging through what was left of the crowd and staying very clear of whatever had escaped Miyla food vendor, they ran through the halls of the station seeking the commercial traffic elevators.

“You idiot!” That would be Grease’s voice through the com unit. “What the hell have you done?”

“Start the engines, Grease!” Explanations could wait.

“They’re started. Tell me why I shouldn’t leave you behind?”

“I own the ship!”


Prime example of how his crew treats him. This is NOT one of those leave no members behind groups. Kaz better watch his ass or they will leave him. Or at least that’s what Grease wants Kaz to think.

Arguing could wait too.

He nearly lost his footing as he rounded the last corner to the elevators leading to the mechanical bays. He slammed his elbow against the call button and the whine of a single blaster came from behind him.

He turned and the barrel pointed directly at her—a straight and clear shot. “Leave,” the Karne man said in the common language, “this can go away for you.”

Five. Four. “I’m sorry…” Three. “…I can’t do that.” Two. He lunged for her. One.

I don’t think this is clear. He’s counting down the time it takes the elevator to arrive. What I’m trying to show is that he’s taken these elevators way too many times.

The elevator doors opened. “Doors opening. Commercial Annex. Enjoy…” By the time the electronic voice finished its spiel, Kaz had her knocked to the ground and together they rolled into the elevator.

The bolt fried a circle of carpet just outside of the doors. The pistol whined as it recharged.

“Doors closing. Stand clear.”

The whine grew higher.

The doors hissed.

Kaz lay on top of her with his drink still in his hand and his eyes looking down the barrel of a pistol. Close faster damn it! Close faster!

The whine stopped and the Karne man shifted his aim down. Smirking, he jerked forward and the pistol broke the eyebeam of the doors, making them open again.

“Interruption. Doors opening.”

“Did you forget about that?” The man asked. He then chanted something in Karne that made the woman beneath Kaz shake.

That really ticks me off about elevator chases. Our elevators come with something, an electric eye beam or those “inner” doors as a safety things, something to work as a safety catch. They won’t close if that safety mechanism is engaged. Why do the cops or whoever is chasing whatever is being chased always forget that? The closing of elevator doors thing is false suspense.

Kaz swung an arm interrupting the chant and knocking the man’s wrist to the side. Pinning the weapon-wielding arm against the wall, he planted his knee right between the man’s legs. Not all humanoids had their genitals in that spot, but the Karne did. The man jerked and the blaster fired, burning a hole in the roof of the elevator shaft.

“Error 325,” the electronic voice spoke, “Maintenance has been contacted. We apologize for any inconvenience.” Something behind one of the plates popped and flashed. Smoke threaded through the air at the top of the car. “Fire detected. Please, vacate immediately. Halon release in five…”

The only thing scarier than a fire at sea is a fire in space. How much ya wanna bet Halon is gonna be standard? Or at least something like Halon. I once worked in a control room with a Halon fire retardant system. We had to go through special training just to know how quickly it would kill us. Dead before the paramedics would even think that someone might be trapped.

Kaz kneed the man one more time before whipping away from him.


She short-stepped her clothing and rolled out of the elevator.


Kaz grabbed the pistol and hammer fisted the nape of the man’s neck.

“Emergency closing.” The doors hissed. “Two…”

Kaz sprung out of the elevator.

The doors closed just as the voice announced, “One.”

The emergency closing overrides the safety mechanism. If you’re stuck between the doors during an emergency closing, you’re screwed. This also explains why the doors seem to close faster here than when our hero was wanting them to close.

Karne man? Dead. Dead as dead can be. If the species breathes the same air as Kaz, a human, there’s no way they’re going to survive a Halon filled elevator car. He is go-straight-to-dead-Do-not-pass-Go-Do-not-collect-$200.00 dead.

He stared at his cup. Frost formed along the bottom rim. “Damn…” he mumbled. This wouldn’t be safe to open for a while. At least he still had it. Glancing at her, he held out a hand to help her to her feet.

Now that he wasn’t distracted by the blaster pistol, he tried to recall the feel of her in his arms. Memory failed him. All he could remember was that high pitched whine of the gun.

Stupid gun. What gave it the right to thieve the sensation of her in his arms? Still something poked at his mind as not being quite right.

Another clue that she may not be as she appears to be.

She took his hand and together they rushed toward the second commercial shaft. Fire alarms screamed around the hall and red lights pulsed, indicating that the Halon hadn’t contained the fire.

Did I forget about the pistol he grabbed? Yep, I sure did. He needs to do something with it before she can take his hand.

Karne man? Still dead. Dead, dead, dead. Lifeless. Finished. Dead. This just means the fire spread into non-elevator car areas…ya know…like the shaft and stuff. There’s probably Halon going off all up and down that shaft. Oh, if I wanted I could come up with some way that he’d still be alive, but that’s so freaking clichéd. Besides, with the Karne, I don’t need any particular one of them alive to do what I want to do.

It’d be a long time before he could show his face here again. If ever. But, at least he had her and his Cream Soda.

I’m not sure if I’m going to keep this a chapter or put it with what I have for the second chapter. Chapters in ebooks tend to be much shorter than yaoi fans are accustomed to. Hmm… thinking about this.

So that’s the first chapter and a little bit of how I self-edit. When we return we’ll do some more of this.

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