Blog for Stephanie Bryant, a writer with too many hobbies and not enough time.

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November 2013

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The Wild Side Gets New Paint

The Wild Side docked at a nearby space station and, almost immediately upon arrival, as soon as the cargo door had shut, explosions on the other side of the docking bay rocked the station and our ship!

Boost, Axel, and Ashleigh were still on board. Ashleigh was unconscious, and Boost and Axel were waiting for us to handle a cargo manifest issue before going off-ship to complete Boost’s side delivery job.

A mob of New Ireland supporters flooded the docking bay, while two of the “coppers” from the United Earth Government tried in vain to protect us. One of the guards went down to the mob’s fists and boots, and the other fled.

Grace dove into a pile of boxes, quickly tunneling upwards until she was well-shielded in a fortress of cargo boxes… with turrets.

Dr. Jules grabbed the downed guard and hauled him into the relative safety of the ship… via the only currently open entrance, the garbage chute.

Meanwhile, the New Ireland bomber, his body covered in multiple incendiaries, threw an explosive at the ship.

“That’s my ship!” roared Captain Judson as she pulled out her gun, seemed to take careful aim, then shrugged and fired wildly. The bullets struck the bomber’s ammo, igniting and exploding some, removing him and a few of the mobbers from this Earthly plane.

Unfortunately, the backlash from the remaining incendiaries caught everything in the docking bay in its shockwave, including the captain, who at the time did have the benefit of several human shields. They were quickly incinerated, and the captain found herself on fire.

Suddenly, red lights and a klaxon went off, warning of the fire danger and the imminent opening of the docking bay doors to suppress the flames.

Well, at least I won’t be on fire for much longer, Lou thought as she rolled around, trying to put the flames out. Dimly, she sensed a troop of mobbers running into her ship, the fog of the knockout gas filling the cargo bay, and Grace flitting past her to hop into the ship. Good girl, she thought, glad that Grace would survive this nightmare.

Flames out, Judson felt a surge of adrenaline and hopped up, seeing with a clarity what must be done. The men must be expelled from her ship. She ran into the cloud of gas, grabbed one of the loading bars, and held it at the ready. As some of the mob moved up to attack her, she fended them off with the bar.

Startled and yelping in pain, she felt slim arms grab her from behind and a  strap wrap around her waist, two, then three times. The klaxon blared one final time, then the docking bay doors opened. The gas in the cargo bay flooded out, leaving several startled men who were rapidly decompressing. Judson exhaled, slowly, aware that this rapid decompression was going to kill her in just a few moments. She held tight to her savior– Grace!– and watched the men fly out into the darkness of space, a few frantically grabbing at untethered debris. One was impaled by the loading bar. Another took a stiletto to the eye before the silent blackness of beyond turned him into a tiny, floating speck of nothing, disappearing into the void.

More Crew for the Wild Side

The Wild Side continued its adventures last week, with the appearance of Grace and Axel. Grace is a conflict-averse engineer who was sold to our pilot from her position as a slave on one of the cartel ships. Axel came unwillingly when Captain Judson won his grandfather’s watch in a bet, and Axel came along to earn it back.

There was a scuffle when the galactics decided to board the Wild Side with trumped-up charges against Boost. Something about a photograph on the net implying he’d kidnapped and manhandled Ashleigh. Doctor Juels got it sorted out for us with a quick call to Ashleigh’s father, and we reminded the galactics that, without a warrant, we weren’t going to show them anything in the cargo hold, thanks.

We ran into some trouble further out-system when we encountered a barricade before reaching SS-0. Apparently, the Catholic consortium has formed a labor strike against the new slingshot station, and we’re unable to get through. We docked at a nearby space station for refueling and so Boost could complete a transaction.

Halfway Mark

2013-Participant-Square-ButtonMy mom likes to tell this story as an example of what it was like to parent me. We had this tradition where my parents would buy a bunch of toys, wrap them up, and give them to us every couple of hours during road trips, so we wouldn’t be utterly bored out of our skulls.

It worked, kept us from fighting, and was probably $10 worth of toys. Any parent will tell you that $10 is worth to cost for 2 days in a car with two girls with minimal fighting.

One year, we were preparing for a road trip to take me to camp, I think. Mom had all the toys bought and ready to go, and she said something like “I have something for you for the car tomorrow!” In that cute, half-teasing way that builds anticipation.

My eyes lit up. “Is it books?

According to my mom, she went completely agape, smiled, and took me to the library to check out a bunch of books for the trip. She took the toys back to the store, since her daughter would rather have a library than a toystore.

(For the record, this is only partially true. I would also like the toys, because toys are a great way to start telling stories and getting inspiration… inspiration which you then use to write… books.)

Just before high school, I sprained my ankle and couldn’t go to summer camp. Two weeks of immobility. Lots of TV-watching and doing paint-by-number kits out of boredom. I am sure I was driving my family nuts with my self-pity and wallowing. My mom had certainly been counting on me being out of the house for that time so she could get some of her own projects done.

Eventually, my aunt came and packed me up and took me up to Wisconsin to spend the week at her place. For no particular reason, other than giving me a different house to be bored in, really.

But, see, my aunt had an IBM Selectric, a ream of paper, a cassette player that auto-looped, and a full-time job.

From some time after I got up in the morning until sometime before she came home in the afternoon, I entertained myself by writing on her Selectric. Tacka tacka tacka tacka tacka tacka went the keys as my fingers flew across them, spinning out the fantasy stories that had been in my head all year. The Princess Bride soundtrack played on a loop (whenever I didn’t have Dirty Dancing playing), nonstop.

I was, in short, in heaven. This, my friends, is what a wonderful vacation is for me– unending amounts of time to write fiction for fun with absolutely no restrictions or expectations. When I got into high school, I would take a spiral notebook with me on family vacations and write more stories, endless stories, about strange worlds and strange people. To this day, it is hard for me to pass up a well-made journal or blank book, even though I do almost all my writing on the computer.

It’s different from writing fiction for publication, which has a set of stresses and editing and revision and expectation that you cannot be entirely free from. But it’s not different from writing for NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo recaptures the pureness and joy I used to get from writing.

And that, my friends, is why I reached 25,000 words today, on Day 8 of the month of November.

The Wild Side Launches


These are the voyages of the Wild Side, a lightweight in-system cargo ship carrying a crew of 4:

  • Captain Lou Judson, a tall drink of a woman with a death wish. “I can never walk away from a dare.” (Forceful, but not careful)
  • Pilot Justin “Boost” Harper, a descendant of the earliest pioneers to settle this region of space, and a hot-shot pilot with only slightly less of a death wish than Captain Judson. (Flashy, but not clever)
  • Doctor Julia Sutton, a capable, competent caretaker of the crew. (Clever, but not flashy)
  • Ashleigh Hawthorne, a dilettante with way too much money and not nearly enough judgement. Miss Hawthorne is the recent owner of the Wild Side, and has spearheaded its restoration and redecoration. (Flashy, not careful)

Last night, we began our first session, with character and ship creation, of our “space western” campaign using the Fate Accelerated Edition rules. We had 4 players. One player, Lee, already knows her participation is uncertain, due to her work schedule, so we bounced around some ideas for a non-essential role she could play.

“How about some kind of medic?” suggests Brian, the GM.

I happen to know that Lee always plays the healer. She doesn’t mind, but it gets tiring to always be the medic. I know this well– I usually play the healer and/or leader, and while I love it, I know sometimes it’s nice to be something else. D&D 4th edition leader classes are pretty much my wheelhouse.

Ultimately, she went for a rich, spoiled debutante named Ashleigh. This is a great character, because she can be absent as needed, but also has an important role in the ship.

Carl is playing Boost Harper, who he said is more like Wash and less like Han Solo, when it comes to command. Alicia volunteered to play a medic, Dr. Jules Sutton. Which left me as the captain.

“You could be a crew without a captain,” Brian suggested.

“Please. Have you met me?” I replied.

After Lee described how she wanted to paint the ship, we all had the same mental image of the Futurama ship with pink zebra striping…. and so it was done.

The adventure began with us on Harper Planet, the closest planet to this system’s sun. It’s a nice enough place, and we were there to resupply and get jobs. Captain Lou, unfortunately, has a gambling problem, and headed for the casino. It wasn’t long before I was 20,000 credits in debt and chatting with Mr. McReary about a very simple way to repay that loan.

It seems there was a “clerical error” with the cargo manifest for a shipping job my pilot was currently picking up, and we’d be taking on an extra three palettes of crated goods. Not a problem– I did a quick run-down of questions about the danger level of the goods, but it all seemed safe enough. Delivery was to the person accepting the main goods. Seems fine to me, and I appreciated not being roughed up in the recruitment phase of this job.

I returned to the ship to explain the situation to Boost, and we cleared the cargo hold for our incoming deliveries. And then we cleared them again when Ashleigh’s shoe delivery arrived… by forklift. She was still shopping at a boutique store… one that apparently likes to provide “enhanced snacks” to its patrons.

The doc returned and alerted us to the fact we had two tails on our ship– one a set of red-headed kids (the McRearys) and the other looking quite a bit like a cop without his uniform. Just as we were discussing the job and the tails, we decided it was time to pull off.

“Anyone seen if Ashleigh’s on board yet?”

At that moment, the doc’s medic-alert bracelet went off. This was an entirely sensible measure the doc had taken to ensure the safety of our least responsible crew member (and I say that as someone with an aspect of “With great power comes even greater explosions…”) in which, should Ashleigh be overcome with drugs, alcohol, or any kind of poison or toxin, the bracelet would alert Jules to the situation.

Jules and Boost headed off to collect our wayward girl. As they were putting her into our runabout, a paparazzi snapped a rather revealing shot of Ashleigh and Boost, his hand way too high up her thigh and her definitely seeming to enjoy it. This photo will make it out-system before two turns of the planet, I am sure.

With everyone on board and Ashleigh safely sleeping it off, we undocked and headed for the open sky. Our next stop is one of the “slingshot” stations that will accelerate us further outward. We take each of these out to slingshot Harper 0, where our delivery drop is waiting. After that, collect a few credits and be on our way.

After all. What could possibly go wrong?

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