Author Topic: Chapter 1 of a Sci-Fi novel: Insignia. Word count- 1027.  (Read 320 times)

Offline DVnyT

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Chapter 1 of a Sci-Fi novel: Insignia. Word count- 1027.
« on: July 19, 2020, 01:53:18 PM »
Atura ran his finger around the brim of the glass. He clawed the edge of the bar and stood up.
“Not this again,” the bartender said. “Three notes folded and tucked beneath a full glass. Does my wine taste that bad?”
“I do it for the old days, Gavin.”
“You don’t have a job like you did in the old days.” Atura scratched his sideburn. “It’s relaxing coming here.”
Gavin slammed his shakers on the bar and leaned in. “What I’m trying to say, Mr. My-company-went-under is that–”
“One. One Camelot.”
“You’re–you’re drinking? You are?”
“No, but you need the money.”
“Get out, Prez.”
Atura stumbled on his chair.
“Need help, you half-legged drunkard?”
“I’ll be—” He staggered out the door.
Neon lights homed in like stingrays. Restaurants and diners flanked the street; Classy and loud. He pulled tightly on his coat.
He turned to an alleyway and grabbed a cleft in the cobblestone.
His 3416 Hover Grande—his out-of-date pride—retracted its refractors, hovering a half-meter off the ground. The lights braided across its serpentine curves. He grabbed its roof and swung into the driver’s seat. He revved the engines; it jolted upward, rocking the propellers for a second before the suspenders kicked in.
The comms came online. He turned up the volume.
“Come in, Prez,” Luna said.
“All ears, Lu,” he answered, as he made a sharp bank.
“They’re here. The Poseidon, two Nautili, and some fish. The security isn’t impressive. Probs wanted to keep the entire deal low-profile.”
Mihos butted in. “Thing is—Apes ain’t here.”
Atura sighed. “That’s what we’re calling them now?”
Mihos took a whiff. “You’re gettin’ here ’fore the envoy shows?”
“We’ll see you there,” Luna said, disconnecting the call.
He weaved past Stigma—the system of maglev rails that spiraled out of the city center and looped back—ducking below the intersections. He hightailed just above the main channel; the belly of his beast gliding on the water. He was in his element. The velocity, the mechanics—they were enough to get his mind off things. He’d never won the Trans-galactic—closest he’d gotten was 112th place—and he hadn’t once qualified for the Inter-Cluster, but he enjoyed flying.
As the Hover approached the mouth of the channel, the stabilizers shut down, and it crashed into the water’s density. It plunged with momentum. Atura hammered the window. At this rate, he would slam into the riverbed.
“Level. Level!”
“Access denied.”
He rammed his elbow into the window. “Level!”
“Access denied.”
He pulled his knees close to his chest and launched two kicks, sweating. “Don’t look down. Do not look down. Okay, okay. Eject?”
“Access denied.”
“Comms. Comms, now!”
“Systems override. Control switched to Auto. Leveling.”
The Hover Grande bubbled upward. Atura was panting, his eyes shut. It steered onto the adjacent street and leveled off. A man cupped his hands on the glass and peered in.
“Oh,” he said. “Prez.” He doubled-tapped a device and rolled the windows down.
“You jammed my systems?”
“Ha-ha. Uh, not—not unintentionally. I mean, you know, unintentionally,” he said, waving his hands in explanation. “They’re not letting private pilots out of the city.”
“And that’s why I was two seconds from dying?”
“They’re—It’s protocol. Today.”
“To kill people? That’s been their protocol for years. What’s new today?”
“You might wanna tone it down, President. Everything’s recorded, y’know? They don’t let us in on the itsy-bitsy details, anyway.”
“Can you open my door for me?”
“Yup. Will do. Will do,” he said, opening the locked door.
Atura tumbled out and lay down. It took him a minute to absorb everything. He was still in Brassbury; still beneath that bubbly dome over the city. Still alive.
“I’ll make this quick. Look,” he said, resting his head on his hand and turning to Remy. “It’s a purely–” He scratched his sideburn.
“Purely recreational trip. The city’s too loud. I just wanna get out of here. Is that too much to ask?”
“It’s not. It’s not too much. But tell you what. Tomorrow—you and me, we go to Plaza, all right? Tomorrow’s a day off.”
Atura shook his head. “No, Remy. I want to go today. Right now, in fact. I’ll even turn on my refractors. They won’t know jack.”
“Both those things are very illegal.”
Atura sat up and pulled on his trouser cuffs. “You see this?”
“Your prosthetic limb, yeah,” he said, looking away.
“Does that belong to someone afraid of ‘illegal’?”
“Don’t do this to me, Prez.” He sighed. “How long will you be gone?”
“Two hours. Tops.”
“Alright. C’mon, get up.”
“Thanks, Rem.”
“I can’t just let you swim with the fishes,” he said, smiling.
Atura nodded. “That’s a good one.”
“That’s a good one.”

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