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Oh, Hey, I Wrote Another Book

June 23, 2011 Author: Anthony Pacheco Category: Plot, STUFF BLOWING UP IN SPACE  2 Comments

I have a specific, honed, editing process. When I finish a novel, I put that sucker aside and do something else for a few weeks.

Apparently, doing something else turned into write another book.

As my 37.3 readers (Google tells me I had more readers via my RSS feed than previously thought) know, I had these various characters, setting and a ton of world building love for a Space Opera novel I was calling Stuff Blowing Up in Space.

After I finished The Lightning Giver, a plot for SBUIS hit me like an exploding nova.

The plot was all I needed, and I completed the first draft last night. DONE.

People, I am officially OUT OF CONTROL. The novel needs a round of edits, but it’s far, far from me just barfing words out on the page. It’s wonderful Space Opera plot with mysterious and sexy aliens, hunky men, and, of course, stuff blowing up in space. Some cuts, some edits, some polishing and that sucker is ready for some query love.

I’ve titled the book The First Casualty of War and it stands alone but also works as the first book in a trilogy. Now I turn back to editing The Lightning Giver while recharging my creative batteries by reading a bunch of books sitting in my queue.

Below you will find the first draft of a query. It needs work, but I was somewhat surprised I could pull a draft query of a Space Opera book in 249 words.

Bad Day for a Shish Princess

Fleet Commodore Philip Connery thought nothing of giving a sish Huntress a ride to the ass-end of nowhere even knowing the mono-gendered sish used sexual attraction to feed on the blood of both enemy and friends. If the odd crewmember arrived paler than normal for his or hers shift, well, that was the price of doing business with the beautiful sish. The sish saved their humans allies in the last war. A ride was the least he could do.

The impromptu mission was going well until they encountered pirates deep in the sish core.

Sent by the Commodore to obtain reinforcements, Captain James Tilbrook was at the end of his options when the surprisingly young and beautiful sish Space Marshal of Aoe Station refused to believe his story.

So he shot her and tossed her into his ship. Now the entirety of Aoe’s forces is out for his blood. Literally.

Sish Princess Leiesha was feeling lonely and resenting her cruel mother, the Queen, when crazy Fleet humans shot and kidnapped her simply because she didn’t believe their stupid story about pirates. Humiliated and trapped on a Fleet warship with empathic humans, Leiesha realizes that far from committing a heinous crime, the humans have saved her life. Someone had poisoned her!

The Commodore, Huntress, Captain and Princess grapple with these random events, but eventually realize they aren’t random at all. Galactic war looms on event horizon and they must come together or perish separately.

Interested?

Epic Space Rescue is Epic

June 04, 2011 Author: Anthony Pacheco Category: Plot, Setting, STUFF BLOWING UP IN SPACE, The Craft  0 Comments

Got Space Opera? No? Well, here you go.

Here is Chapter 20 in its entirety. Please excuse the grammatical boo-boos and typos, this it it, raw, right out of Suff Blowing Up in Space.

What do you think? Comment below, my 9.3 readers.

***

Chapter 20

“Princess, you are not trained for rescue operations. We’re hot docking to a heavy cruiser that may lose gravity compensation and turn everyone inside into pasty goo. I request you stay on the ship.”

Leiesha stared at James. He was being oh so respectful and oh so proper.

She was going to oh so bite him.

“Captain. That is the flagship of Aoe Sector. Let me be very specific with you. If it goes up, I’m going with it. So if you value my love, and my life, your S&R operation will not fail.”

“Mitty and Kitty won’t leave…”

He shut up.

“My apologies.”

She glared at him. “Damn it, James, stop being so formal. We’re alone in your conference room. It’s just you and me.”

He gave her a little smile and her heart actually started to beat faster. Did the male have to be so good looking?

“I was trying to spare you the horrors of war, Leiesha. When was the last time you saw a dead body?”

She bit her lip.

“You have me there, James. But I have to grow up sometime.”

He paused. “Aye, I just, this bond thing. It makes me want to hold you and shelter you and tell you that everything will be okay and I will fix it.”

She smiled. “You are so romantic.”

She gave him a little kiss.

***

She should have stayed on the Coolidge.

Burt bodies.

Bodies with shrapnel wounds from exploding electronics.

Bodies cut in half by slamming blast doors.

Bodies left like so much litter because the living had better things to do. It was obscene and grotesque.

That’s when she saw Koiea.

She had met Koiea at some Navy function on Aoe Station. The sish was young, and Leiesha had felt a pang of attraction when the young officer marched up to her while everyone else was ignoring the grumpy Princess, and started telling jokes. Leiesha even considered sneaking off with her and making out, but Palace Security had a grip on her lips just as they did on her sex.

Young Koiea was dead. A bar of metal had detached somewhere and impaled her right below her belly, right through her suit. It looked like she died trying to pull it out, hands wrapped around the protrusion.

Koiea’s face painted the tale: she died in pain, from blood loss and alone.

Leiesha opened her faceplate, leaned forward and puked all over the deck.

Mitty and Kitty were right there. One helped her stand straight and the other gave her a .water pouch.

“You’re doing better than I did,” said Mitty. “I puked on body two.”

She rinsed her mouth out feeling monumentally stupid. “What? I thought you came out of the womb wearing armor and spitting hell fire.”

The marine chuckled. “That was Kitty.”

Leiesha could not stop looking at Koiea.

Kitty came up to her. “Ma’am, we need to focus on the living.”

Leiesha gave herself a little shake. She looked at Kitty.

“Let’s go fix this deck’s net and see what’s what,” she said, trying to hold onto something besides the body in front of her.

“Aye, aye, Space Marshal.”

***

No sooner had they plugged in the new net module then Sergeant Koltsov was in the all-channel.

“Listen up, people. We’ve got enough new and repaired nodes to get the missing decks in the battle net. Be lively, the engineers are really busy, and if you asked me how this thing is still under helm control, I really couldn’t say. I guess they got a hamster somewhere and a wheel. Here it comes…”

“Ma’am, watch your inputs, Fleet armor integration is a little different,” said Kitty.

“Thank you, Kitty. You can call me…”

Suddenly her brain was the ship.

***

“Little different, she said,” Leiesha mumbled running down a corridor with her marines in tow. “You think? No, really, a little different?”

“Well, Kitty has been known to be a master of understatement,” said Mitty.

Leiesha snorted as the corridor ended in a closed blast door with red flashing lights over it.

“I don’t know where I end and ship begins,” she said as her armored hands flew over the manual controls, as the automatic ones didn’t respond.

Atmospheric leakage, hull integrity degraded. Magnetic locks engaged. Override required.

“Hey, this door is a better conversationalist than Kitty,” Leiesha quipped.

Mitty snickered.

Leiesha had the override panel open.

“Is this what a battle net feels like in ground combat?” She knew she was babbling but the talking grounded her where she was. It made her feel more real rather than the feeling of being a networked computer node.

“Mostly, minus the oh Goddess we’re going to die, oh Goddess, oh my Goddess,” added Mitty.

The override wheel was difficult to turn. She put a push into it and it started to spin.

“Ma’am, save the telekinetics. Use the power assist in your armor,” said Kitty.

“Right. Sorry, I’ve trained with power armor but never anything so light.” She did as the marine suggested. “I can’t even feel the tube in my butt.”

“Yeah, that’s kind of a bummer,” Kitty said wistfully.

The door came open and wind started whistling past them. The armor was so sensitive, it actually felt like wind on her skin.

“That’s not good,” Leiesha said. “Right? Wind on spaceship bad?”

“Yes. Wind on spaceship bad,” said Mitty.

They were past the blast door and it slammed shut behind them, magnetic locks going clang, clang, clang.

They had a sudden wave of vertigo as they stepped forward. The gravity on this deck was much lighter.

“Just so we’re all on the same page, gravity changes while spaceship is moving also bad,” Mitty added.

“Hurry, they are this way,” said Kitty and they ran down yet another corridor.

Goddess of Space, does the ship have to be this big?

“Whatever you three are doing in that section you better hurry the fuck up, because according the laws of physics it shouldn’t even be there,” said Sergeant Koltsov in her ear.

***

“And to round if off, that’s really bad,” Mitty said.

They were looking at the cabin through a bulkhead, which showed up in her vision as a high-detailed wireframe with structural problems shaded from green to red.

The cabin was yellow with large red cracks over all the surfaces.

Three sish were in the middle of the cabin in slim-suits. They were floating off the floor, arms linked, in a circle facing each other.

“Ma’am, what are they doing?” asked Kitty.

“They’ve, um, this is hard to explain in Common,” Leiesha took a deep breath. “You can say each user of telekinesis operates on a different frequency, unique and not like anyone else’s. If you’re lovers, though, especially with a linked ovulation cycle, you can be in telekinetic harmony.”

She nodded in their direction. “I can feel the push coming from them. They are holding the structural integrity of this hull section intact by meditating and using each other’s strength as an amplifier of their own.”

“Ovulation cycle?” Mitty sounded confused. “I thought sish didn’t have periods.”

“We don’t, but when you really love someone and that person wants to go into heat, sometimes you don’t have a choice and go along with her. Those three are lovers.”

“Awww, that’s so sweet.” Kitty said.

Suddenly the push fluctuated and the entire deck around them groaned.

“Um, Mitty? Gonna remind you that if the structural integrity goes in that section, the intact gravatonics will squish everything inward” said Koltsov over the squad channel.

“Copy that. Death by squish imminent. Sarge, we got ourselves a situation here, we’ll get back to you.”

“Copy that. Shut up and let us think,” he said.

There was another groan and this time Leiesha could feel the deck vibrate.

“So, they’ve been doing that for a long time—almost an entire day-cycle. How long can they keep this up? Can they last until we dock?”

Leiesha bit her lip. “They should have been dead hours ago. We have minutes, maybe less.”

Mitty actually frowned. “Poop on that. Options?”

“I’m leaned towards sheer panic and outright hysteria,” Leiesha said.

“That works for me,” said Kitty.

This time the deck buckled. Her wireframe extended out to the corridor they were in, most of it yellow, and she could feel the deck bend beneath her boots.

Leiesha’s mind whirled. The Goddess of Space spared those three. She would be damned, literally in her mind, if she wasted their efforts. Maybe she could augment their push…

A red crack appeared at the end of the corridor along the wall near the floor.

She had a sudden thought.

“Okay, I have a plan. It is clever and heroic as it is stupid and mostly impossible.”

Mitty nodded, “Hey, you just described life as a Fleet Marine!”

“Awesome,” said Kitty.

Leiesha activated the ship-to-ship channel. “Coolidge, Coolidge, Coolidge, depressurize your aft passenger airlock and open the outer door. We’ll be there shortly. Now here’s the very important part. Don’t open the inner door after we depressurize until Mitty or Kitty gives permission to proceed. Got that? “

“Copy that. Aft passenger airlock depressurizing, door open shortly. Marines give the go for inner door,” said James.

Why does Fleet repeat everything when the armor records it all, she thought, and then told her brain to shut up because they all were about to die.

“What’s the plan?” asked Mitty. She sounded causal, but Leiesha could tell it was an act as the world around them turned a computer generated yellow and red.

Leiesha turned to the short and tasty marine. “There’s going to be a big hole in the bulkhead in front of us and we’ll need to grab those three real fucking fast.” She waved her hands and labeled each sish 1, 2 and 3.

“And then?” Mitty just raised an eyebrow, her face through her helmet a forced blank.

I can appreciate fake calm, thought Leiesha.

“And then I’m going to pull some funky sish shit,” she said, hoping she had rid her voice of all the panic she felt.

“I got 2,” she said.

“I got 1,” said Mitty.

“3,” said Kitty.

Then the deck split in half.

Leiesha pushed and pulled, her telekinetics pouring forth as the ship tried to crush them. She forced a tear right into the bulkhead, which wasn’t too hard since it was breaking apart, defeated by the undamaged portions of the cruiser’s gravity field.

The three sish in the cabin held each other tightly, but they turned as the other three of them skipped and ran over the buckling deck.

RELAX THIS WILL STING A LITTLE came a thought from Mitty, very loud, and right before Leiesha slammed into sish 2, the slim-suited sish turned and looked at her with very wide, hungry eyes.

Wham! All three of the sish were in armored embraces, and the cabin was open to space. The hull seemed to crush in around them.

Leiesha pushed. She pushed outwards in all directions as she had never pushed before.

The hull exploded. It just—exploded—outwards and she screamed with the effort. They were in space, wreckage flying away.

Leiesha reversed her push and latched on with telekinetic tendrils to her two marines. They snapped close to her and she noted dimly the three slim-suits were trailing atmosphere, most likely tears from the exploding composite decking and armor.

Leiesha pushed again and the three of them flew in a tight formation, and she reversed their direction by doing a loop and spinning her body along her long axis.

They flew. They flew back to the cruiser, and then along the hull only meters away from it, faster now. Faster.

“Weeeeee!” shouted Mitty as the hull zipped “underneath” them.

“Goddess in Space! Goddess in Space!” Kitty yelled.

They looped around the entire ship, and there was the Coolidge.

She flew them along the Coolidge’s hull.

Airlock!

Slow down slow down slow down!

They stopped right before all six of them hit the first inner door.

The outer door slammed shut.

“Pressurization!” yelled James.

The three sish were struggling with their suits. Leiesha set her sish on the deck as she clawed at her helmet release.

“Mitty, Kitty, stay suited,” she said in a shaky voice. “This is going to be very ugly. You need to just leave them be while…” she swallowed.

“While what, Space Marshal?” Mitty asked in a command voice.

“While they, um, feed,” she said as she undid the memory seams of her armor.

Leiesha saw that Mitty now understood that the sish were not merely taking off their helmets to get air.

She and Kitty pulled out their stunners.

“No! They can still die! Leave them be. Leave me be. I’m trained for this.”

Leiesha took off her helmet.

“Her” sish crawled to her and jerked at her armor on her leg, peeling it off. She latched onto a calf and bit.

“Ah!” the pain was intense as another ripped at her sleeve and bit her arm. Leiesha started to cry. It hurt. It hurt a lot. The three were indeed in deep need.

The third sish was crying and crawling along the deck.

“Should we help?” Kitty asked, looking very sour.

“No. It… is important for her… to… to … do herself.”

The crawling sish on the deck took a deep breath and slowly stood up.

She was the center, thought Leiesha. So strong.

The sish took faltering steps. She walked behind Leiesha, and with trembling hands, peeled the combat suit away from her upper torso.

Leiesha felt fangs go into her shoulder.

“Oh, oh. Ah,” Leiesha started to pant. It hurt—Goddess did it ever hurt.

“Leiesha! This is terrible. We can’t let them do this to you!” Kitty practically screeched.

“Sorry, my bond… mates. No time… explain. Leave be.”

When do we make them stop, Mitty thought at her. Her telepathy was sharp, almost as if it had an edge.

You don’t. I will do that, she thought back.

She felt the humans’ empathic link as if she was drowning in a sea of their emotions. The marines were sick with worry, the ascension bond causing them mental anguish at her pain. Their suffering was almost too much.

Almost done, my loves. Almost done.

Almost.

Just a little longer.

Let them take a little more…

Only…

“Leiesha!”

As the world faded, Leiesha heard the snap-hiss of stunners, a fist of pain slammed into her, and she thankfully felt no more.

Chapter 20: In Which I Become Snarfy

June 02, 2011 Author: Anthony Pacheco Category: Characterization, STUFF BLOWING UP IN SPACE  1 Comment

Chapter 20

“Princess, you are not trained for rescue operations. We’re hot docking to a heavy cruiser that may lose gravity compensation and turn everyone inside into pasty goo. I request you stay on the ship.”

Leiesha stared at James. He was being oh so respectful and oh so proper.

She was going to oh so bite him.

Epic Space Opera Novel is Epic

May 26, 2011 Author: Anthony Pacheco Category: Plot, STUFF BLOWING UP IN SPACE, The Craft  10 Comments

So I’ve been chewing on this Space Opera story for, oh, I don’t know. I’ve given it the working title of Stuff Blowing Up in Space. When I started writing on it, I had no plot, just a few characters and scenes. I knew I wanted sexy vampires as one of the species. I wanted humans as the technologically superior species, and I wanted psionics in a way that it created an epic, galaxy spanning mythos so very unlike “The Force.”

But I didn’t have a plot.

Well, no more. I’ve got a solid, epic Space Opera plot. I’ll be banging away at that sucker until my self-imposed “bake time” is up and I start editing my finished novel in a completely different genre (whoops).

Awesome. I always wondered if there was a real plot to this story worthy of a novel. I can’t wait to finish it!

Damn, it’s good to be me.

Diplonacy, Fleet Style

March 21, 2011 Author: Anthony Pacheco Category: Plot, STUFF BLOWING UP IN SPACE, The Craft  0 Comments

From my Space Opera novel, Stuff Blowing Up in Space.

As soon as he stepped out of the airlock, he knew the mission, such as it was, was going to hell.

They didn’t step out into a reception area—it was an atrium. Immediately he felt his marines tense up from the increased exposure. Snipers could hide in a hundred places.

Then there was the Princess herself and her four person detail, two of them obviously security.

The Princess was tall. 1.905 meters to be exact. Her hair looked like sapphire silk, made to run hands through. She had legs that went forever out of her tunic, ending in short military boots. At least the top of the tunic she changed into wasn’t diaphanous like her previous blouse, but it might as well have been. Her breasts, which his stupid battle comp proudly told him was 36C, were of the round, youthful sort.

Then her eyes. They were big and doe-like—soft amber-colored with flecks of green.

She was a light shade of purple. She was, without a doubt, the most beautiful feminine creature he had ever seen. She put Lieutenant Jennifer Polouski, the female looker of Wolfpack 359, to shame.

As they approached, she looked confused. Then she looked disturbingly hungry. Now she was, and it was hard to tell because facial expressions were somewhat different, smirking.

Yes, it definitely looked like a smirk.

Not good.

“Princess.” He bowed. As to plan, the marines did not.

“Captain.” She simply stood with her hands on her hips.

Her voice was high-but not annoyingly so.

Tilbrook looked around. Everyone had Aoe Station insignia. Bleh.

“Are we to meet the Navy personnel in a briefing room? I would like to present the data to a tactical officer.”

Now she looked positively haughty.

“No, Captain Tilbrook. No, what you are going to do is listen to every Fleet and Aoe regulation and protocol you broke in getting here, and then and only then, hear my plan.”

She gave her hair a little toss. “First, there is the manner of you trying to contact the Navy directly. This was a violation of Section 15a from Article…”

Well, crap. So much for Plan A. Unfortunately, he didn’t have a Plan B. She didn’t want him to submit. She was not intimidated. If she was hungry, she didn’t show it. She was simply annoyed.

**Ah, Skipper? You’re not really listening to this amazon quote regs, are you?** asked Mitty.

**No, Private, I’m trying to come up with a new plan, because the old one just went to hell.**

**Thank you for saying it first, Skipper,** said Kitty.

**I had such high hopes,** he admitted, **especially for all the time and money we put into it.**

**I think we underestimated her smarts, sir. Looks like her plan is to talk until you get very tired of it and slink off,** said Mitty, sounding annoyed, which was a pretty neat trick for sub-vocalization armor talk.

“…and now let’s turn to the quite rude and inappropriate actions of your helmsman starting with…”

Deep down, Tilbrook got angry. Smart and beautiful sish or no, the Commodore was counting on him. He could even be dead, and Princess here was pulling Rear-Escalon-Mother-Fucker.

**Sir, I know I don’t need to state the obvious, but every minute we listen to this purple bitch give us the riot act, Really Bad Things could be pouring out of that jump-point. It could even be war,** said Kitty. She sounded depressed.

That’s when he knew.

**New plan. Stun her escorts, zero body count. GO!**

It was as if Mitty, Kitty and his brain was connected. As he was drawing his sidearm, they were drawing their stunners and both of them were weapons-free before he was.

The snap-hiss of the stunners was loud and he dully noted his helmet had formed around his head and there was a small hiss of a seal.

His pistol was free. He aimed it at the comically surprised Princess and pulled the trigger. Dark sish blood from his expertly aimed shot spurted from her left thigh, and she went down.

***

Staff Sargent Sergei Koltsov wasn’t exactly surprised everything went to hell, although the manner in which it did surprised him. One moment the Princess was droning on and on and the next the captain and the twins threw down.

Well, so much for diplomacy.

“Squad, RESCUE PLAN CHARLIE, GO!”

The rest of the marine detail, including him, poured out of the Coolidge.

His explosive tech was moving with lightning speed. He slammed a boarding surge module into the power receptacle in the airlock, twisted the safety handle, and pulled it up.

“Fire in the hole!” the tech screamed as he slammed the handle down and everyone dived out of the airlock.

The surge module was a particularly nasty device. It debugged the power hardware and then sent a surge in various frequencies up the system until it found a vulnerability, and then it poured an enormous amount of power back up the grid.

Sometimes, they simply exploded.

More often than not, they sent a surge all the way through the system, burning cutouts until the main power plant completely shut out that portion of the grid.

And that’s exactly what happened. Power went out in their station section, the atrium they found themselves in bathed in sudden darkness. Not even the emergency lighting turned on.

Excellent.

His optics went into night-vision mode.

That’s when he saw the twins and the skipper thundering towards him. Only, Tilbrook had the Princess over his shoulders in a fireman’s carry.

Oh shit.

“Back in the ship! Back in the ship! Back in the ship!” he screamed over the tac-channel.

As his squad retreated, they all fired flash-bangs and the world for anyone not wearing proper armor and looking into the atrium went white.

***

Ensign Fredrick Hernández aka “Rookie” aka “Steady Freddy” was surprised the Princess was in his airlock, but his orders were clear. Rescue plan Charlie called for him to “GTFO” as soon as the Coolidge’s outer airlock door closed with all personnel on-board, and that’s what he did. Since he was combat docked, he blew the flimsy boarding tube and punched it.

“Coolidge! You are to heave-to immediately! Coolidge!” This was from the security channel.

ECM Tech Ensign Gina Kipply, sitting over to his left, punched a virtual button on her console. A pre-program routine started, the first of which was to send massive jamming on all comm frequencies. The comm chatter ceased.

The Coolidge shot out Aoe Station’s space like a speed demon from hell, burning hard towards the FTL safety line, and if anyone had bothered to look, they would have noted she was breaking all the system speed records in the process.

Predator of Predators

August 01, 2010 Author: Anthony Pacheco Category: Setting, STUFF BLOWING UP IN SPACE, The Craft  0 Comments

From my world-building notebook for Stuff Blowing Up in Space.

We read in science fiction stories all the time about the “adaptability of humans” or some other superior concept such as individualism, the triumph of the individual over the collective might of the pesky aliens (or even groups of humans).

What makes the Predator movies so fascinating is humans consider themselves predators, and the movies flip that on its end. Especially the first movie.

Humans are not predators of predators from a pure evolutionary standpoint. Humans need other humans to survive. They are socially adaptive.

The sish, the dominate species in the galaxy for Stuff Blowing Up in Space, form complex social groups to assert dominance to avoid food competition, not because they need to get together and fertilize eggs. They are loners and individuals much more so than humans are. They come with a slew of natural weaponry. What they cannot overpower they seduce with biological seduction weapons. What they cannot biologically seduce they can out think. Evolution can take many paths, the path for fight leads to brains that process information quickly. It’s not just a basic response, either. To a sish, exploration and advancement ties directly to food, and food is sex. Stepping foot on a new planet isn’t just fun, it’s foreplay.

Thus the adaptive, individual race is not humans. It’s sish. On the same evolutionary scale, they achieved FTL faster than others, they found more habitual planets and they are very effective diplomats, seeing war and conflict as the elimination of the food supply.

The human advantage over sish is a cultural one, one that leads to greater technological progress.

That’s a different entry, however.

Below are two sish, talking amongst themselves.  They are also vying for dominance and possible sex-play. Not to toot my horn too obnoxiously, but while this banter moves the plot forward, setting the stage for some juicy conflict, it’s also jam-packed with world-building without obnoxiously beating the reader over the head with it, as I have done with the text above.

If anybody who knew anything about military space vessels were paying attention, they would have immediately known something was odd about Task Group Inaeo’s two cruisers and their orbital positions.

Nobody was paying attention, because the last of Task Group Aoe’s space assets had crossed the FTL safety line and disappeared. If someone had been looking, they would have noticed the two cruisers covered a wide swath of the planet, rather than a wide swath of the space before the planet.

The two captains were in their respective private cabins, they had just finished watching what video there was of the human in train car.

Such video was ironic. They only had it because one of the sish in the car had an expensive recorder from the Terran sector, and it was EMP shielded. Who would have thought of such a thing?

“Quite an extraordinary play of events, don’t you think?” said the first captain.

“Indeed. A violent fellow, and the glimpse of the huntress was remarkable,” said the second. “A powerful, powerful telekinetic.”

“The Princess gets kidnapped, now this. Fleet has stepped in it for sure.”

“I am not so sure, Sister. He did say he was a contractor. Witnesses said he was an ‘Ambassador.’ Such people could be contractors, hired by Fleet at whim. Fleet is the only governance for the United Planets of Terra; they tend to hire civilians to deal with other civilians.”

The other sish captain nodded. “In any event, how convenient, do you think, that all of Aoe’s space assets are currently absent from the system.”

“A shame, really.”

“Scandalous, even.”

“Too bad we are forbidden from initiating any contact of the more, ah, free-enterprise elements that grace the pretty planet below us.”

Both cruiser captains were knee-deep  in the last system conversion to the human’s hyper-capitalism, becoming quite wealthy in the process.

Both hated, to their core, the matriarchal system of governance, an anachronism they could appreciate but recognized as one of the biggest disadvantages of dealing with the over-productive humans.

They had seen the endless human fleets. The Navy knew what was going on, even if the system governments did not.

“Yes, our orders were quite clear. Here we sit, unable to open communications.”

“Yes, orders are orders; one could even say they or superiors designed them for the maximum amount of ass-coverage. In case something goes wrong.”

“Funny how we two are the types to always think of what the right thing is to do despite the consequences.”

“Indeed. Very Fleet-like of us, don’t you think?”

“Indeed. What is that Terran saying? Keep your friends close, your enemies closer?

“I always liked, speak softly and carry a big gun.

Each suppressed a giggle and sighed.

“La la la, la la la,” said the first captain.

“Dee dee dee, dee dee dee,” said the second captain.

The first captain took out a hairbrush and started in on her ever-hated helmet hair.

The second captain started painting her nails a nice shade of green.

Bleep bleep, went the comm chime in one cabin.

Bleep bleep, went the comm in the second.

Both sish smiled, fangs already extended.

Mono-Gender Politics Gone Bad

July 31, 2010 Author: Anthony Pacheco Category: Plot, Setting, STUFF BLOWING UP IN SPACE, The Craft  2 Comments

From my world building notebook for Stuff Blowing up in Space.

A female-only species similar in appearance to humans, the sish reproduce by drinking the blood of a male carnivore when they ovulate. They are sexual predators in the biological sense, that is, they entice their prey with pheromones and simple seduction. They are biologically advanced, physically and mentally, and are even more genetically diverse than humans because of the DNA sequencing used to fertilize their eggs.

While sish are omnivores, their sexual response is tied not only to each other, but also to feeding, making other intelligent species their prime source of live blood and amusement. For the loss of some blood, other species in return receive mind-blowing sex. Sometimes, however, a sish will feed until her source of food dies, either on purpose or by accident, making travel in sish space both pleasurable and dangerous.

Sex dominance is always an issue with sish. Lovers always have a dominant/submissive pairing, and the social structures they form are more advanced than humans, but not necessarily more productive.

Sish seduction biology can create symbiants out of females from other species, exchanging blood for sexual pleasure on a regular basis instead of the infamous sish one-night-stand. Such bonding is rare, but as humans and sish mingle, the number of symbiants has increased steadily over time.

To sish, live food is sex, the more intelligent the live food the sexier it is. Sex is also power, and while the sish consider themselves biologically superior to other species, culturally it could be argued some of their core planets are stagnant, as this excerpt shows.

Princess Oneesha, heir to the throne of Jephinae, could not believe what she was hearing from the Queen.

Oneesha had been crying. Crying for her sister. Crying because she was hungry. Crying because she needed sex. Crying in frustration. Now she was crying in anger as the Queen assailed her ears, angry because Oneesha would not answer her summons and that the Queen had to come to the Princess’s bedchamber.

What the Queen had to say shocked her, all the worse because she almost said yes. Now, Oneesha was angry with herself more than the Queen. “Mother, I cannot partake in the ceremony now! It is out of the question! Crazy humans have kidnapped my little sister! How could you think of such a thing?”

Her mother backhanded her. Hard. She fell to the ground, spots in her vision. The Queen was a very strong sish, and her face throbbed as if it was on fire.

“Do not prattle on with your insolence! You don’t understand the tenuous hold we have, we need to bond the power-players to you or there may not be another ascension ceremony! Ever!”

From the ground, Oneesha stared at her mother. That’s when she knew.

“You’re pregnant,” she blurted out.

The Queen flinched back as if she received a punched in the gut.

“That is no concern of yours, daughter,” she said dismissively.

Oneesha stood up. “It’s true! You were starving her! My sister snapped because she has chaste sickness. It doesn’t matter that I’m older; she was always stronger than I was, more developed. Yet you went ahead and arranged my ascension knowing she was dying! You decided since you were pregnant, you didn’t need her around anymore. That having her die of chaste would make people fear you!”

“People do fear me, as you should.” The Queen advanced.

Oneesha drew her ceremonial dirk and pressed the button on the hilt. Dark fire ran up and down the blade, the deadly hum of its vibro-blade filled her bedchamber.

The Queen stopped, eyes narrowing. “I can take that blade from you, child. Do not be stupid.”

“Lay hands on me again and I will cut that daughter out of you and feed her to the servants.”

The Queen stared.

“So it’s come to this? Treason?”

Oneesha burst out laughing and turned the blade off, sheathing it. “It’s only treason if you admit your weakness to Palace Security. Then what? You’d have no daughters except the one in your belly. Your hold on the nobles would come crashing down sooner rather than later.”

She turned and walked from the room.

“Where are you going? Come back here!” the Queen shrieked out.

Oneesha turned and looked over her shoulder.

“I’m going to find my little sister,” she lied, the first lie she had ever told the Queen.

“Good bye, Mother,” she said, walking away.

How Many Pages Before They Do It?

July 29, 2010 Author: Anthony Pacheco Category: Characterization, STUFF BLOWING UP IN SPACE, The Craft  4 Comments

From Stuff Blowing Up in Space:

She was, essentially, an adolescent aristocratic spoiled brat in a position she didn’t deserve, talking to him simply because she was part of a privileged elite social class based on birth order and some bizarre pseudo-eugenics game of rock-paper-scissors.

201 Words of Space Opera Goodness

July 14, 2010 Author: Anthony Pacheco Category: Plot, STUFF BLOWING UP IN SPACE, The Craft  2 Comments

“She’s doing what?

“The Fleet frigate has changed course. She’s on an elliptical acceleration intercept!” her captain practically yelled at her.

Admiral Neiva d’Oaneia couldn’t believe it. She looked at the plot and the intercept arc appeared.

Right for the Deadly Azure.

Right for her.

And the frigate was moving fast. Insanely fast. That type of speed was impossible!

That’s when she noticed the acceleration curve was such that the Azure could not escape. They were in the frigate’s intercept envelope. They were nowhere near the FTL line—they could not FTL for over an hour at their present speed.

Trapped.

“Weapons free! All ships intercept! Emergency deceleration, engage at maximum range!”

The orders were, of course, useless. Such was the acceleration of the frigate that they would soon be measuring it in percentages of  light speed. It would be like shooting at the wind on a stormy winter day on the Islands.

She felt warm liquid on her leg. She looked down. She had peed herself. She hadn’t put on ship suit because it didn’t occur to her that they would be engaged in combat in their home system.

The Princess was right after all.

The human captain was insane!

Fleet Staff Meeting Gone Wrong

July 10, 2010 Author: Anthony Pacheco Category: Characterization, Plot, STUFF BLOWING UP IN SPACE, The Craft  2 Comments

From STUFF BLOWING UP IN SPACE.

I’m on a roll.

Terrans, as the table assembled before him proved, were a decidedly mixed lot.

XO Lieutenant (Sr. Grd.) Ola (no last name) was a waif of a woman. Small, black haired, pixie-ish. Despite her girlish figure, Tilbrook knew she was an older woman, having joined fleet a decade out of college. She was worldly and cosmopolitan.

The doc was her opposite. Tall, pale-skinned, with flaming, unruly red hair, green eyes and a body she seemed uncomfortable with, as if she woke up one day and saw that she had a wonderful feminine figure.

Actually, considering Winnie’s youth, that may be exactly what happened.

Gunnery Sargent Charles Kim was something else entirely. It was as if someone took the biggest Korean, searched for the biggest Samoan, and bred them to produce a 127.3kg monstrosity of pure muscle. Which proved the old Fleet maxim—space is the great biological equalizer. His job was to blow things up, not bust heads.

Staff Sargent Sergei Koltsov, commanding his six person marine squad, at least looked decidedly normal—average in every way, except for his unarmed combat scores and his deadly effectiveness with just about anything remotely like a weapon. His family came from a long line of County Safety officers, and here he was in Fleet. Everyone called him Sarge, although Tilbrook thought of him as “Mr. Security.”

They had just watched the exchange of between him and the shish brat and now everyone looked contemplative, especially after Ola briefed them on the upcoming coming-of-age party for the shish’s older sister.

He didn’t want contemplative. He wanted options.

“Winnie, could you give me some insight on what possibly could be going on to cause Princess here to act completely irrational? I get that her position is political and she is young. That aside, even a mediocre politician should know better than to assume we’re a bunch of dorks. What’s her problem?”

Winnie actually chuckled. “Permission to speak candidly, sir?”

“Winnie, this is a brainstorm session. I need your brain, not your built-in military courtesies. In this room, I expect candor 24×7. That also means call me James.”

Tilbrook knew Winnie might need a more delicate touch when she blushed scarlet, but Hernández’s clock kept ticking down the minutes. The ship was fast. Time was short.

“Aye, um, yes, um, James. Anyway, it’s pretty obvious what the problem is.”

She paused, looking apprehensive. Tilbrook decided to not cut her off at the knees and give her some time to compose herself and spit it out.

“Anyway, the problem is you,” she said in a rush.

What?

“Me?”

“Yes.”

He sighed. He contacted the shish station by the book. Only when the Princess, for the most part, called him a liar did he depart from protocol. In fact, given the circumstances, Tilbrook was sure a less experienced…

“You’re a hottie, James,” Ola broken in.

“Excuse me?”

“A total hottie, to be exact,” said Winnie, blushing even redder.

“Indeed,” said Guns, “while I myself am a heterosexual, I have heard from the female crewmembers that your backside is very esthetically pleasing.”

“My backside.” Out of all the tracks he thought this conversation might go, this one was completely unexpected.

“That means you have a nice ass,” said Sergei.

“Thank you Sarge, I get that. While now I am inwardly cursing that I demanded informality, I would like to state the obvious that my butt was in no way pointed towards the Princess during the entire conversation. Thus, whatever powers said butt might have, they were not in play here.”

“James? Really? You had no idea you were a hottie?” Winnie was looking at him as if he was nuts.

Suddenly Ola nodded. “Ah, makes sense. Skipper here is from Lupa-12, they do things a bit more formally there. I bet you went to an all-boys school during puberty?”

“Look, while I’m sure you Earthers love making fun of the country boys with your 6.8 billion population, you all know I have an apartment in Paris right? And for a reason.”

“You have browner-than-brown hair that looks like if you grew it out it would curl, your eyes are a vivid, and I mean a vivid sky-blue, and you have the eyelashes any teen girl would envy, and I ought to know,” said Winnie. Now instead of looking completely embarrassed, she looked whimsical.

“Let’s not forget, Winnie, that when he works out in the gym shirtless, you seem to find yourself there,” Ola quipped.

“And I would like to point out, Ola, that you are there too.” Winnie quipped back, only looking slightly annoyed.

Tilbrook sighed, loudly, and looked at Sarge and Gunny for sympathy, or at the very least, to bail him out.

“I give the elected MOILTF no sympathy,” said Guns.

Sarge looked blank.

MOILTF? Male Officer I Would… He sighed again. “Fine. I see how you all are. I like to work out. So what? And my looks, I can assure you, are quite vanilla compared to most of the other men on Lupa-12.”

Ola immediately sat up straight. “Really?”

Winnie gave herself a little shake, as if her brain was in the gym. “Anyway, there a total and very disturbing attraction parity between human females and shish. Everything human females find attractive, shish find attractive. Only, the attraction is much more visceral for the shish because, as we all know, their sex-response is biologically tied to feeding.”

She seemed to enter her lecture mode and turned to him. “So, without knowing what political and family monkey business is going on—put yourself in her place. She’s sexually frustrated, that’s a given. Her sister is going to get laid for an entire week, basically have the best sex a shish could have—short of the symbiotic bonding process or the feeding/mating protocol—while she has to work. Indeed, tradition does not allow her to participate in the family orgy because of her position. Now a human male, aka The Hottie, shows up in the spiffy Fleet uniform with a fantastic tale of pirates in a system no pirates should be in, with a more impossible tale of a new jump point. She loses it. Her body is telling her to get you alone, seduce you, then bite you, and suck your blood if she likes you. Dismember and toss you into the pot if she doesn’t.”

“Oh, come on. She is a thinking person. She’s not some eating machine ruled by instinct,” Tilbrook protested.

Guns shook his head. “Rationality means something completely different to a shish. She’s young. She’s low-boob on the totem pole, and she could be hungry. And you’re a walk’n snack that conveniently can get her off before she fills her tummy with a warm happy meal.”

Tilbrook sighed yet again. “Fine. The age-old human-shish socialization problem. What are our options?”

“There’s another social dynamic in play here, that may give you the answer,” Winnie said, nodding to Guns. “Everyone likes to focus on how shish are hyper-sexual beings. That is a mistake. Shish are, for the most part, biologically superior to all other species in the galaxy. They consider themselves at the top of the food chain, and biologically speaking, they are. The only advantage humans have over them is our culture is superior, and I don’t mean that in a racist way. We are more productive, we produce superior art and technology, and our system of governance, such as it is, provides humans with a cultural flexibility nobody can match.”

Suddenly James got it.

“Ah. Being differential and polite wasn’t enough. I was sending her a very specific signal by assuming I was in charge of the situation.”

“Exactly,” said Winnie. “So now your options are, and keep in mind I’m not a shish expert, merely a well-read layman, is to assume a submissive position, or metaphorically pop her in the jaw and assume control. She’s totally going to bite you for sure on the former, the latter is difficult because she is stronger, not to mention most likely telekinetic, and all that aside, she is way smarter than you.”

Crap.