Wednesday, July 22, 2009
More Draw the Line
I almost forgot it was Wednesday! This will be a quick post!
Draw the Line is now over 102,000 words. Unfortunately, I am not really near the end, though I think I am beginning to visualize it a little better. I do have notes for several upcoming chapters, but nothing for the exact ending. Hmmmm.
Oh. Maybe... (Let me go make a note!)
There. That gives me a little hint of what to aim at. And it will be something fun and exciting which is as it should be. I had an idea of the ending but I didn't know where the focus should be. Now I know. I think.
There's going to be a lot of reworking on Draw the Line, though it's going to sit for a while. Rat Pirates, on the other hand, is going very well -- about 70k now -- and so much fun that I'm going to regret finishing it.
Here, for today is a little bit of Draw the Line:
It did not look good. In fact, the sight of the Norishi lining up and plainly meaning to come at them got him to back up even before Ardhi started his way.
"This is a mess," Ardhi said with a shake of his head. He didn't look all that tired at the moment, but Morgan thought that might be adrenaline pushing him. He didn't say so.
"They heard about the incoming ship and started moving?" Morgan asked, wondering if they'd pushed the wrong way.
"No. They were already on the move before they heard," he said. He glanced back at them. "We caught the blip of info passed, so we know when they got the information. They are more agitated now, but I think they would have been anyway. There's no way we're going to get to the other ship. And they have to wonder what the hell is going on since they know there's no other ship out there."
"The Captain is smart enough to catch on."
"Yes. True." He looked back, startled by sudden movement along the Norishi line. They did not, however, move any closer and he gave a sigh of relief. "There is something unsettling about seeing them all lined up like that. It makes them... less human, I think."
Morgan didn't think the line would make a difference -- but when he looked back out at them he felt a chill. There was something just in the way they stood and moved -- they swayed now and then, in a sinewy motion that seemed to echo up and down the lines. Necks, which had always seemed a little too long to Morgan, twisted and turned in ways that were not human-normal. In small numbers, you didn't notice such things. Now, in a group of a couple hundred, they struck him as being ... wrong.
And that made him want to retreat even farther.
"This is going to be a problem," he said softly. "Our people are going to be unsettled before we even get to a battle."
"Unless the Norishi hold off long enough for people to get used to them like this," Ardhi said. He turned and looked, as though to force himself to watch.
"Do you think you can get used to it?"
"I sure as hell hope so. The only thing that might save us, if it goes that far, is that they can't stay in a line if they try to get into the Human Enclave. We can deal with them, I think, if we don't have to fight them out here."
"I don't want them in there. They look --" He stopped and looked around Ardhi and back out to the group again. "Ah. They look like people used to fighting as a group and in a line. They'll have to break up into smaller groups. That might help as well."
"Excellent point. I hope it doesn't go that far. I really do. "
Morgan agreed with a nod, but he said nothing. It looked bad out there. Norishi looked their way and he thought they looked half wild. He had expected civilized people. He had expected them to be more like the Ksa, and now that he knew they weren't, he wondered if he should trust the Ksa as well.
It was a dark, insidious thought that could, if he let it go too far, either save or his life or put him in more danger. The Ksa were helping the humans. Not to trust them could well put him outside their protection when he most needed it, and that by his own actions.
Trust. Don't link the Ksa and the Norishi. They were not the same. The Norishi had never been friendly, and now he suspected he saw more of their true colors. He forced himself to stand there by Ardhi and watch them. Analyze what he saw. The movements seemed to be linked. He could hear their words, a rush of sounds that rose and fell in some pattern. For a moment, he even found himself fascinated by something so totally alien -- and that helped. He could divorce them from the look of humanity when he watched this group.
Something triggered them. He reached for his pocket comp, but then realized he didn't want the Norishi, who were watching their way, to see him make any notes or do any readings.
"I'm going to take some readings," he told Ardhi. "Behind you, in the archway where they won't see me do it. There is definitely something going on here, and if I can find some link, maybe we can break the behavior pattern, or at least disrupt it."
"Ah. That would be good. Step back. Conner! Come here!"
Conner was a tall, short-haired woman who moved up beside the two. The Norishi did watch her. She was like a beacon to them.
"Dr. Doreet needs to do some readings, without the Norishi noticing," Ardhi explained. "So you just stand here and talk to me for a little bit while he stands behind us and gets the data."
"I'll be as quick as I can," Morgan said, already pulling out the pocket comp.
"Take your time," Conner said. She had a Tempest accent. "I'll keep the bitches entertained for a little while. Shall I sing and dance?"
"Not yet. We're reserving that for a time of true need. It's too dangerous a weapon to let loose early."
Morgan found it hard to concentrate with the show the two of them put on, but in other ways, it helped. It was good to find that they could still joke, even at a time like this.
He turned the readings toward the Norishi and spread the collection net out past the humans. Full spectrum -- he couldn't take it all in as the data began to collect, and he knew, if nothing else, this was going to keep him busy for a while. He thought he saw a couple interesting spikes in some of the readings, but he wasn't fast enough to catch what they were.
The comp indicated repetition in many of the readings after a few minutes. He finally put the comp back into his pocket.
"Thanks. Got it." He shoved the comp back into his pocket. "I can't be certain, but I think there are some readings that are far off the scale from what we've had before. We'll see if we can use them."