Author Topic: Chapter 1 of a Sci-Fi novel: Insignia. Word count- 1027.  (Read 2 times)

Offline DVnyT

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[Formatting is kinda weird here- especially line breaks and starting new paragraphs. Hopefully, that doesn't hinder you too much. Please be ruthless.]


Of all the criminals gathered there, they shot only him. Atura ran his finger around the brim of his glass. He knew exactly why.
He clawed the edge of the bar and got up.
“Oh, Prez!” the bartender said. “You need help?”
“I’ll be—” He staggered out the door.
      The neon lights homed in like stingrays. A young man flanked him, holding near-sizzling meat—seasoning it as he handed it to him as customer acquisition cost. He pulled tightly on his coat and paced down the street, spitting it out.
He turned to an alley, grabbing a cleft in the cobblestone, panting. He pulled up his sleeve and clenched his fist. His watch lit up and he draped a screen over his palm, tapping on it twice.
A curvy two-doored vehicle, hovering half a metre above the ground, withdrew its refractors. Atura pulled himself up and revved the engine. An initial jolt calibrated the suspenders. One of the forward stabilizers was not functional—the other three exuding a violent amount of energy to compensate. He made a sharp bank right and clipped on to the Brassbury magnetic skyline.
“Prez!”
The comms came online.
“Come in, Prez.”
“All ears,” Atura answered, dabbing a cloth in alcohol as he began cleaning his glasses.
“Poseidon’s here. You were right. I don’t see a ship, though.”
“Did you set up the bug?”
“Yeah, I— I mean, we did.”
“You’re in the ATC room, right?”
“Uh-huh. Will you get here before the envoy?”
“Probably will.”
Atura disconnected the comm.
How long had it been since he’d piloted a Hover by himself? It felt like someone had muffled his ears from the backseat, except he didn’t have one. He couldn’t hear himself in that vacuous metal frame. Not that he wanted to, anyway. His eyes steered away from the windshield.
Did Luna already know?
A pale-yellow, plasmic sheet of ions slid down the Bubble—a superfluid snowglobe-esque lid over the city. Another thunderstorm. Though the Bubble absorbed most of the discharge, the skyline froze up. Two droids buzzed past the Hover, then attached themselves to the circuit. He pulled the window down and said, “Probe.”
One of the droids spun once and then replied:
“Probe authorized. Skyline shutdown for passenger safety. Thunderstorm speed is Delta-three-eight. Systems will be up in thirteen minutes.”
He sank. Maybe he shouldn’t have gone to the bar today. He ended up wasting his drink, too.
The droids earthed pockets of excess charge, and the storm passed overhead.
The Hover accelerated. The Bubble seemed more solid up close. After gaining some more speed, the vehicle detached before the skyline looped back into the city. The abandoned airstrip was in sight.
The vehicle camouflaged and the stabilizers tilted back to ease it into a halt. Atura jumped out and landed on all fours. He crawled a part of the perimeter and saw a frayed cut in the wire fence. He poked his head through and realized his chest couldn’t get in. He stood back up and scratched his sideburn. He couldn’t remember the last time Luna or Mihos were that slender. He kneeled down, sighed and tore open a much larger portion of the fence. 
The tarmac was empty—the asphalt eroded by months of unregulated trial runs and neglect. One of the hangars; the third among three, was lit and guarded completely. The traffic control tower was diagonally opposite to the hangar. Atura backed into the tower’s wall and inched the circumference. An automatic door opened, but the guards didn’t seem to notice. He grabbed the banister and hurried up to the third floor. 
“You’re making a lot of noise,” Mihos said, holding the door.
“Get that away from me.”
Mihos blew his nose. “This is a high presh’ah situation, y’know? I handle stress my way,” he said, tapping on his pipe. “Plus, it’s medicinal.”
“Prez. Radar’s detecting a large ship in Exo. It should be here in two minutes,” Luna said.
Mihos crossed his legs and sat on a chair, bobbing back and forth as he played around with Luna’s scruffed blue hair. “You should at least try ‘Rainmaker’. It opens up nasal cavities you dinn’even know you had.”
“I’m going to take the shot, Lu,” Atura said.
Luna whipped back. “What?”
Atura looked out the glass.
“You’re—he’s joking, right? I have had a hundred percent accuracy for six months. You haven’t even—I haven’t seen you shoot an ejector in the last six years.”
“Yeah, he’s got his stern look on righ’now, hon. I doubt he’s joking. But, she’s right, Prez. We decided to let her take the shot. She’s arguably the most capable sniper in this room.”
Luna glared at Mihos.
“I’m taking the shot,” he said.
Mihos got up to stretch. “Oo. Ship’s here.”
The leviathan ship revealed itself mosaically. Fragments of glass rearranged themselves into a slightly different orientation, allowing certain angles of light to refract through and make the ship visible. First, the hull appeared, and slowly the rest of the ship materialized. A large blue fabric cascaded down from the deck—most likely a flag—and a hatch opened. Two rather petite figures emerged, followed by three other caped ones. They jumped onto the tarmac and rushed to the hangar.
“It's live,” she said, pressing a device against her ear.
Atura picked up the rifle on the floor and poked the window. He paused for a second and then broke the window with the barrel.
“They didn't catch that,” she said, biting her lip.
“Anything of note, Lu?”
“Just translator issues and pleasantries.”

Atura's crosshair was unstable. He tried to set the rifle on the window sill, but he was shaky. Mihos kicked the edge of the glass over and then patted his knee. Atura set the rifle on his leg and exhaled. He was going to be the one to end it.
“They’re selling Brassbury,” Luna said.
“What? What do you mean they're sellin' Bury?”
A burst of energy overheated Atura's rifle. He dropped the ejector and plummeted to his back. "Duck, Mihos."
Mihos lunged to the floor and backed up into the wall. “What? What’s happenin’?”
Atura looked at the melting magnets of his ejector.
“They know.”





There are no two words in the English language more harmful than "good job".