It all started innocently enough, with a card game in the barracks during off hours. Doug was winning. His side of the table held a dozen credit cards, and a few watches. Doug loved card games. His Grandad, Commander Cranton the first, had taught him all the tricks before he even started standard school. He knew that some people felt that counting cards and reading player’s faces was tantamount to cheating, but he figured that if they all played to their fullest ability, then he shouldn’t have to hold back. Besides, it was easy. Any fool smart enough to make it into the Spacy Navy should be able to do it.
Unfortunately, the Space Navy admitted even bigger fools, like Reynad from the Eutrope Moon Colony.
As Doug won another game, sweeping up the cards from the table, Reynad stood up, and knocked the whole table onto Doug’s lap.
“You’re cheating, Cranton, just like your Grandad!” shouted Reynad. He clenched his oversized fists in Doug’s face.
Reynad’s buddies, Lewis and Zib, stood up to grab Reynad’s shoulders and hold him back.
If Reynad had simply called Doug a cheater, he would have let it go. But Reynad had maligned Grandad. Doug stood slowly, put all of his winnings into his zipper pocket on the inside of his vest, and rolled up his shirt sleeves slowly. “Would you like to air your grievances outside, Reynad?” he asked quietly.
“You bet I would!” shouted Reynad. He seemed to have only two volumes for his voice, oily and snobbish, or loud and boorish.
“Would anyone care to wager on the outcome?” asked Doug, looking around the crowded barracks.
“You’re going to bet on your own fight?” asked Wistar, his Elvanen friend, who stood taller and leaner than the rest.
“Well, that would be cheating,” said Doug slowly, “so of course not.” He smiled at Reynad. “But if you,” now he looked at Wistar and their other friend Smith, “would like to place a wager on me, I’m sure you’ll get your money’s worth out of it.”
Smith chuckled darkly. He always seemed to find grim humor in every situation. It had made him a fast friend in their first few days in Space Navy Scrub Camp.
“I’ll place a bet,” said a high pitched voice.
Doug, along with the rest of the barracks, peered around for the speaker. He didn’t recognize that voice.
“Ahem,” said the voice. “Down here by your boot. No, don’t step on me now!”
Doug finally saw the little man, dressed in a violent shade of green, standing by his right calf. “Who are you?” he asked curiously. “I don’t remember seeing you in our unit before.”
“As if a leprechanarian could be a Space Navy Captain?” guffawed Reynad, insensitively.
The little man drew up himself up proudly, sticking out his tiny chest. “The Leprechanarian Space Fleet is the finest in the Universe, and I am Captain Elwy Eurion Maddox of the Star Voyager.”
“Sure, and I’m a fire breathing draconian if you’re the captain of anything larger than your silly hat,” Said Reynad.
“That’s enough, Reynad,” said Doug. “Just because the man wants to bet against you, doesn’t mean he deserves an insult. In fact, I think he deserves commendation for having a sharp eye.” Doug reached down to shake Captain Elwy’s hand in his fingers.
“Nice to make your acquaintance, Captain Elwy,” he said.Obviously things will get worse from here because Doug eventually blames the Leprechanarians for losing his place in the Space Navy. In the far future - beyond the snippets I've written, I have a half-notated scene about an eventual peace between Doug and some of the Faerie Galaxy - and a reason they're in space. You see, the idea is that all the myths, faeries, etc were all space-faring races that visited Earth before we become space travelers in this quirky scifi fantasy.
100 Days of Revision, Day 50
I changed a few little things again, and I think it's making the story stronger, it's just taking me longer to get it done. Here's a bit of dialogue between Clara and Stelia (one of her favorite teachers) on a trail away from Skycliff:
Stelia looked down at the sand path, strewn with dead sea grasses and tiny rocks. “That will depend on Sihrqayya’s plans, although I’m sure that if we are allowed to escape here, she will be waiting for us later, depending on how far we go from Septily.”
“Does she normally set traps?”
“She loves to play with her prey, once she sure she has them in her grasp. It is one of the trademarks of all the Dark Sisterhood. They enjoy inflicting pain on others.” Stelia’s stomach muscles clenched remembering old tortures, and the things she had done to avoid them.
So, what are you working on today?