Yes: I’ve been away. I’ll address that at some later post. I’m here to write, so write I shall, after a brief preamble.
As you might have guessed from the name of this blog, my stories are in and about what I call Machine Civilization. Some ideas that I didn’t think were originally, seemed to change over time so that they “fit in” somewhere. And I’ve come to see that the entirety of the MC world itself changes, as well. There are obviously parts of the future history that cannot change as they’re part of canon from my two novels, but I’ve noticed fluxuations in the concept.
I would say I’m coming to a point, but I’m not.
Down below, from some months back, I posted the scenes I wrote for the Voltage competition from a story I called “Combination Play.” I didn’t win the competition – which is fine – but what ticked me off is that no one did! A cynical person would say that Voltage faked the contest just to shake people down for free stories and character art. Nonetheless, I’m fond of the characters that I breathed life into, and have thought some more about the story. Voltage, of course, owns the names, so that will change, and to fit into MC, I will change the location. So now, I’m going to do something I’ve never done before: I’m going to start a story at the beginning. Further, whether you call these ‘chapters’ or ‘episodes,’ I’m going to try to publish 2-3 each week. They won’t be all from the same “novel,” but they will all take place in my world of Machine Civilization. “A Writer writes,” and I wasn’t; this will give me the freedom of movement to begin, again.
Enough with me. Take a look below the fold to meet Nichole. She’s very young in our home.
“Defiant” – Episode 1
The young woman stood at the rail, just a few yards away from the gangway, looking out towards the city. The sky was a pleasant mix of clouds and sun for mid-June; the wind blew at what few strands of strawberry-blond hair escaped her ponytail. She smiled to herself.
The city of Portland. The largest city of the State of Oregon. One of the best deep water harbors on the west coast of the United States.
Not that there really was a United States. Or State of Oregon. Her smile fled.
Nonetheless, this was her new home.
She easily picked up her travel bag, looping it over her left shoulder. Her smaller bag she held in her left hand. She turned towards the gangway. There, the midshipman saluted her with a polite smile, which she returned. Sasaki had been so helpful towards her on their voyage over!
“<Goodbye, miss.>” He said quietly. “<Do your best!>”
She bowed to him. “<I will!>”
Walking down the gangway towards the pier on the west side of the Willamette River, she could not help but notice some of the looks. A civilian? A girl? And at the very least Celtic if not Irish from her looks! What was she doing on…?
Stepping onto the pier, she turned and bowed low towards the vessel that had been her home for these past days, Her Imperial Warship of the JMSDF, Guided Missile Destroyer Kongo, safe at harbor between the Steel and Burnside Bridges, in the heart of the city; the only functioning port between Vancouver in Canada and Manzanillo in Mexico. A message, she thought: of hope.
She turned, ignoring the staring. She set off at a brisk walk in the direction of the Customs and Immigration office. As all of the sailors with leave had been through some hours before, there was no wait. The clerk behind the counter could not have been much older than she appeared; he was perhaps in his mid-twenties, she wondered? She smiled as she’d been told by her family. Happy to be the center of attention of such a pretty young woman, the clerk sat up straighter and adjusted his necktie.
“Afternoon, Miss! How can I help you?” He asked cheerily. She handed him both her passport and her special visa.
“You…you’re…” After looking at them, he looked up at her. “You’re a Japanese citizen?”
“Subject.” She gently corrected him. “I am a subject of Her Imperial Majesty.”
“Oh, sure. Of course, of course.” He starting stamping things, pausing to regard her visa. “And you are here to study?”
“Yes,” she replied. “I shall be attending Portland State University.”
He brightened at that. “My aunt is a professor there! What are you studying?!”
Then he stammered. “Er, that is, if you don’t my me asking…?”
She shook her head with a smile.
“Not at all! I’m in the College of Engineering and Computer Science. Where does your aunt teach?”
Now he was grinning. “In the same College! In Computers, I think! This is so great!”
They stared at one another for a moment. She glanced at her papers before him.
“May I go?”
Suddenly taken aback by his unprofessional behavior, he tried to compose himself as best he could.
“Of course!” He was sweating now. “I’m so sorry, miss…”
He glanced at her visa as he stamped it.
“…Miss Clarke.” An Occidental surname, he wondered? He handed her things back.
“Please,” she said, lightly touching his hand with hers, “call me Nichole. What’s your aunt’s name? I look forward to meeting her.”
“It’s Vikki Bishop,” he replied. “Uh… would you like me to arrange a ride for you…?”
“Not at all, but thank you! It’s not that far, and walking is the best way to learning about a new town.” She glanced at his nameplate. “Thank you for your help, Mister Beauchamp.” She nodded and made to go.
Half standing, the clerk replied, “Please! Call me John! Miss…erm, Nichole!”
She glanced over her shoulder. Her emerald eyes almost seemed to flash at him.
“Thank you, John!”
He sank back into his chair. Still for a few moments.
I am so calling my aunt tonight. And I think I’m gonna start hanging around the PSU scene….