Crop Circles

Science Fiction Ramblings

My Hover Craft is Full of Eels: Part Three

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For most of the year, I feel like I’m writing in a vacuum.  Kind of like my head is sealed inside of a mason jar.  During National Novel Writing Month, the lid gets unscrewed and I discover all sorts of helpful links through the NaNo website (http://nanowrimo.org/).  Of course these resources are available year round, but for some reason, I don’t look.  This year the site has pep talks from authors that I adore (like Brandon Sanderson and Jim Butcher) and links to more writing resources.  For instance, I learned that Sanderson (squee!) has a podcast (squee!) called Writing Excuses where authors discuss writing techniques.  This podcast spawned a book called “Shadows Beneath” where four authors describe the writing and editing process for four short stories .  First drafts are provided and all changes are illustrated.  I’m in love.  This is what I wanted to try for on this blog.  Didn’t realize there was a pro version out there.  That’s the side effect of writing with your head in a mason jar…..

And oh yeah.  Here are some actual hover craft.

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She was surprised to find that racing was exciting, of course it didn’t hurt to have Arch with her on her first trip to the track. H-craft racing was conducted on the sand flats outside of city limits.   Courses were dredged out by shovel trucks and the machines were supposed to keep confined to the trenches. Although some of the better drivers would risk revving their crafts up and over the banks in an effort to cut off a loop of the course. It was this kind of maneuver that had led to Arch’s accident.

“The eXime were on my tail. I needed to cut some time so I took the risk. Crafts tip though if a baffle catches a sand bar. I went ass over ears and my H-craft came down on me. Broke a few bones. Knocked myself out.” He said it like he’d enjoyed every bit of it, broken bones included. Persephone was starting to like the guy. He was uninhibited, whooping and yelling like the rest of the yokels and then stopping to describe the physics behind the chassis designs in terms worthy of a college professor. He was totally in his element, completely unlike the over the top way he’d presented himself at their first meeting.

Persephone found herself getting drawn into the race. It was a good day for it. The air full of mist instead of outright rain. There was even a bit of a yellowish smudge in the cloud cover marking where the sun was. The H-craft screamed around the course, throwing up gouts of sand tinged with the yellow, green and purple algae strains that proliferated in this zone. She found herself rooting for Albion. Arch assured they had the best drivers, but the eXime craft won 3 out of the five planned races. Their eXime racers had sleek, black glassine chasis and the usual blue ethanol flame engines. But they had no baffles. They also ran quieter than the other craft. No fan noise, just the soft swoosh from their rear facing engine plumes.

“Huh. Couldn’t they just have a more efficient fan assembly?”

Arch whispered back, leaning in again so that his husky voice tickled her ear. “Possible. Why don’t you head down to the pits and see if you can get a closer look?”

Persesphone swallowed. She was beginning to get an idea why the guy got to screw anything that moved. Smart, good looking, self-absorbed and a voice that made the most mundane statement sound like an invitation. She reminded herself not to get hung up on a client.“Gawking might be kind of obvious don’t you think?”

“You are a spy aren’t you?” Arch said archly.

That did it. Nobody questioned her credentials. When the race was over she jumped up and pushed her way down the bleachers. Drivers were signing autographs. She had her program ready and put on her best imitation of a racing fan-girl face as she edged up to the eXime pit. Three of the five eXime drivers were out basking in the attention. She aimed for the youngest, a bonde dude with the eXime logo tattooed on his forearm.

“Oh my god! Oh my god!” she squealed. “I’m your number one fan.”

The guy gave her a tolerant smile and reached for her program.

She didn’t pass it over. “Umm…I was wondering if maybe. You know. You could sign this.” She waved at her neckline.

The driver looked surprised, but shrugged and beckoned her to lean over. The pits were situated below the bleachers and she had to angle her torso over the top of a four foot dividing fence.

She made a show of trying to get close enough. Giggling and pouting and pretending like she just couldn’t get enough of herself over the fence. She started climbing and leaned over more, than circling her arms dramatically she orchestrated a clumsy looking belly flop into the muddy pit.

“Oh my god! I’m so clumsy. I’m so sorry.” She brushed at the guys pants where her fall had spayed some mud. It didn’t make much of a difference since the guy’s racing uniform was already uniformly coated in grey and green slime.

“Yeesh, Lady.” The driver backed up a step to avoid her groping. “Umm. You still want that signature?” He looked embarrassed but also kind of intrigued. She’d picked a good mark. A guy who would have a tough time resisting a crazy female fan who looked good on her knees.

“Can I touch it?” Persephone said with what she hoped was the right amount of reverence,

“Say what?” Then the guy noticed that Persephone wasn’t looking at his crotch.   She was staring at the nearest H-craft. “Oh. Uh. That.” The guy looked completely flustered now. “That one’s not mine.”

Persephone jumped up and walked towards the craft.

“You really shouldn’t be….I mean lady…watch out for the exhaust ports they may still be hot,” he finished lamely.

The craft wasn’t running and therefore it wasn’t suspended. That was unfortunate since she was hoping for a glimpse at the underside. It was a nice, glossy black composite, covered in the usual sponsor’s logos including the four pointed star of the New Regime. Interesting, but nothing Arch hadn’t already told her. She skimmed her fingers over the logos on her way to the front. The thing’s prow was odd, bulbous, not at all streamlined. From above the craft would look a bit like an ant crawling in reverse. The driver’s compartment was the tiny bubble-like head and the prow the thing’s abdomen. The engine must be in the front. Her fingers could feel a seam indicating where there was a hood you could pop for maintenance.

That was as much as she was able to get before the driver grabbed her and pulled her back.

“I’m gonna sign that program and you’re gonna leave now, honey.”

Persephone ignored him, her attention fixed on the craft. Right before she’d been grabbed, she’d heard a distinct sloshing sound coming from under the hood and her fingers had picked up a vibration. Something had moved under there.

Then the Jasperite security force arrived to hustle her out of the pit. The driver smiled ruefully at her and handed her the signed program. “Take it easy,” he told the rent-a-cops. “She’s my biggest fan.” He smiled at Persephone, wrote in her program and pressed it back into her hands. The cops dumped her outside the stadium. Thirty seconds later, her com rang.

“That was an interesting performance.” It was Arch. He sounded pissed

“Relax. I may have gotten something useful.”

“What?” He still sounded put out.

“A name and a phone number to start with.” Persephone grinned at her program.

He was still pissed when he picked her up. “I told you their driver’s are nobodies. That guy won’t know shit.”

“Contacts are everything in this business. Blondie may not know shit, but he may know somebody who knows somebody who knows shit.”

Arch just shook his head. “We’re the only company with a cross over between the driving and engineering teams. Most of these guys can’t tell a fuel relay from an exhaust line.”

That got Persephone thinking about the eXime craft again. “Water,” she said.

“What?”

“I was standing next to that H-craft and it sloshed. Could be a cooling pump, or maybe…Didn’t Old Sol split water for hydrogen.” They used it for fusion to propel their ships. “eXime probably just found a way to do that without a massive input of electricity.” Being metal poor meant that generating and storing electricity was a major problem for the colony.

Arch frowned but it was a thoughtful look. She was pleased to see that tossing out a new theory had distracted him from their argument over the driver. “There’s a gap there, though. Free hydrogen was a fuel source. The original colony ships generated energy using fusion. Why would they still need the ethanol jets then? And what’s keeping the things in the air? Additional jets on the bottom?”

“Just because they run quiet doesn’t mean they don’t have a fan.”

“They don’t have baffles. It can’t just be an air cushion.”

“I’ll just add that to the list of questions to ask Blondie.”

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Author: KMolyneaux

Author, Knitter, ex-Academic

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