April 27, 2013

Chapter 1

   The alarm went off at 7:00am. From the surface of his nightstand, a glow began to appear and then an animated image of a female appeared. It hovered over the surface of the nightstand, looked around for a second and began to take a deep breath.
    "JEAN, WAKE UP!" she yelled, in a voice that actually shook the coffee cup sitting on his desk. She continued to yell this for several seconds until a hand snuck out from under the covers and began to randomly smack portions of the nightstand surface. The hand finally struck the top of the clock, causing the female image to wink in his direction.
     "I knew that would get your attention. See you 'round the ship!"
    The image faded away and the hand rested atop the clock for a short time then pushed back the covers on the bed. He sat up in his narrow bunk and placed his feet on the deck. He immediately noticed the lack of vibration under his feet. Reaching over to his desk, he pulled up the daily report. A different, much softer female voice started to speak as he assembled his toiletry bag.
      "Captain Jean Willet, this is your morning shift report. The Sentinel has achived normal orbit around the planet Mars as of 0400 ship time this morning. All divisions report normal status, and wing 39, Inverness..."
      "Skip other division report. Move to marine division status."
      "Understood, sir. All members of shipboard marine regiment have properly reported in within the last 12 hours. Three members are currently in the infirmary for minor health issues. Your company is coming off their sleep cycle and preparing for the day. Only one member is still sleeping. The corporal for his squad has been notified. Command is requesting that at least two squads be prepared on alert status for possible planetside duty."
       "Load remainder of status report to my tablet. Inform Command that my squad and squad six will be on standby for planetary duty." The computer beeped an acknowledgement and the screen turned off. Jean grabbed a towel and his toiletries, keyed the door open, and headed for the showers.
       "Jean, you really need to have a talk with Sophie. I could hear that all the way in the restroom." A passing marine smiled at him as he walked past Jean to the nearby bunkroom.
       "Very funny Ben." Jean waved a hand in greeting as he walked past.
       "We meeting up for the usual formation this morning?" In response, Ben only saw a thumbs up. He smiled and headed to his own bunk.

* * *
     A shower and a couple of cups of military issue coffee later and Jean stood in workout clothes in the ship's gym. The room was not much larger than a standard raquetball court and currently bare. Panels lined one wall of the room all the way to the ceiling, concealing storage lockers for various exercise equipment.
        "We're first squad on standby for the next couple of days. Break out the treadmills, then I'm going to adjust the room to Mars surface gravity. We need to acclimate to what me might be working in." He pulled his PDA out of his pocket and clipped it to his wrist, placing the controls for the gym on the back of his right arm. He quickly zeroed out the gravity and his men kicked off to open up a panel and pull out supplies. Very quickly they pulled out four treadmills, each in turn, and found appropriate latches in the floor to secure them to. While he watched them work, Jean heard the gym door open behind him with a hum.
      "Oh good, I'm glad I foun..." The words were cut off with a yelp. Jean turned himself around just in time to recieve the heel of a boot in his face. He reacted quickly and grabbed the person's ankle through the stars he was seeing, and felt himself start to tumble end over end in the lack of gravity.
        "Sophie, did you not notice the status display outside the door before coming in?" he said in his low voice. He could hear Ben snickering as he moved to catch her other leg before it kicked him too.
       "I'm coming to catch you two, sir." Jean watched as Christoph launched himself gently from the storage wall towards them. Christoph caught the them both around the midsection and the momentum of the impact pushed all three into a wall. Using a recessed handhold on the wall, Jean anchored them down and then flipped Sophie over so they could talk. Cristoph launched back to set the last treadmill in place. Sophie's face was flushed as she grabbed another handhold.
       "I'm sorry, I'm still new to being in space." Jean blinked a few times to clear the stars from his left eye.
       "I just hope I'm not going to have to deal with a black eye. And I have you to thank for my little wake up call this morning too." He glared at her, and she managed to turn just another shade of deeper red and smile. "What did you need that couldn't wait until after our training time?"
       "I wanted to come tell you about the new materials that they had us working and building from in the lab." The words just sort of bubbled out, "They sent us a courier ship yesterday with a new set of materials discovered in several asteroids in the belt."
      "Sophie, while you continue to amaze me with some of the nano-structures that you have built, this is not the time." Ben waved at them.
      "Sir, we're ready to go." Jean reached to the panel on his right arm and keyed the gravity to cycle to Mars normal over thirty seconds. He felt his ears and stomach shift with the changes to the room. Sophie's short brown hair began to settle around her face instead of floating about.
      "All right, guys. One hour jog. Lets get ourselves acclimated." He turned away from her and stepped over to his own treadmill and they were off and running. Sophie finally let go of the handhold, waved weakly, and walked out the door.

Posted by: Tom Tjarks at 08:08 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
Post contains 1038 words, total size 7 kb.

1 You'll read a lot of warnings about starting a story with the protagonist waking up and starting their daily routine. It's a bit boring, isn't it? I mean, I've experienced doing that thousands of times. I don't want to read about it unless it's important, exciting, or somehow interesting.

Start somewhere exciting. Cut the dull stuff.
Make sure every scene has some sort of purpose.
Scenes don't have to be presented in chronological order.
What does "The words just sort of bubbled out" even mean?

Posted by: amandachen at May 02, 2013 09:46 AM (kP8LA)

2 Good points, I'll have to look and see how it goes. 

Give me some credit, at least I didn't play the amnesia card.

Posted by: Tom Tjarks at May 02, 2013 10:46 AM (T5fuR)

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