Okay, so a friend asked me if I'd posted anything I'd been working on lately and I had to admit that I haven't. I haven't edited or proofread anything and its likely to be a bit anemic in its imagery but just for him, here are the first few pages of one of my projects:
TAO SPACE - A KUNG FU SPACE OPERA
01 - CAPELLA
“You be back before dark! There are frogs on this planet!”
The ramp hydraulics had barely stopped hissing when Capella’s booted foot made contact with the damp tarmac. The shouts of her grandfather from inside the Emerald Crane were tinny, half-hearted, and fading fast.
Capella raised one hand in an affectionately dismissive wave without looking back, her other hand occupied with a tiny Geomancer that was running streams of data so quickly she could only be skimming it for the bullet points, “I’ll be fine, I’ll bring you some Silurian whiskey when I come back.”
She never saw the odd lopsided look that crossed her grandfather’s face peering from the top of the passenger ramp, instead being pushed at by the sheer volume of activity that surrounded her once she got past the spaceport gates. A warren of kiosks selling knockoff merchandise, food, and flesh wrapped her in its tentacled embrace and she found she couldn’t pay as much attention to the Geomancer as she wanted.
A massive Vang Drun bellowed nearly into her ear as she passed and almost made her drop her little Geomancer. The creature’s terrible breath told her she’d strayed far too close to the perpetually wet thing and she scooted away from it, almost running into a throng of people going the other direction in her haste. She muttered under her breath about the Vang Drun’s terrible Mandarin and looked for a way past the mounting crowds.
The sun dropped toward the horizon as she moved into the city proper and began to navigate its labyrinthine streets and alleys. Vendors called their wares at people who largely ignored them while the thick aroma of dinner carts drifted through the space between, luring people to sample their variety of confections. Birds roosted along lines stringing up multi-purpose lanterns. Fish eyed her from tanks pressed against shop windows as she passed by, eerily reminding her of a recent visit to the Jun Yi prison to visit her father.
She wandered the streets, checking her progress with the continually updating information on her Geomancer until dusk began to creep through the streets, blanketing an ever growing portion of the city in shadow. Neon lights began to flicker to life and wan streetlights buzzed quietly as they cast their diffuse illumination across derelict streets.
Capella stuck a cookie stick in her mouth and tried to configure the Geomancer to take a new signal when she saw what she wanted. It was prominently displaying an Oracle Bone character alongside Neo-Tang codified Mandarin telling her where to find it. She made a delighted sound as she bit off the cookie stick and broke into a trot.
She weaved through the crowd, oblivious to the looks she got from those she jostled, until she found herself looking at a small storefront. The window looking in was filled with charms, the preserved body parts of animals known to have mystical properties, carved ivory and jade figurines, and even a few bones and books. Over the door frame in large characters was the name of the shop, and down the sides were the Oracle Bone characters her Geomancer had picked up.
She pushed open the door and stepped into the shop, immediately brushed by the scents of incense and potpourri. She wandered through the narrow aisles and saw the man at the far end of the shop, as ancient as she’d suspected, but unnaturally stiff. She smiled at him and he grinned back humorlessly.
“I like your shop,” she said as she began to browse a shelf full of tortoise-shells.
“As do I,” he responded.
She looked up at his tone, but he looked away from her as she did. Only somewhat put off, she looked around for his books.
“Can I help you find anything?” he asked.
“As a matter of fact,” she said, happy at the prospect that she wouldn’t have to spend an hour sifting through unorganized piles, “I’m looking for one of Su Song’s treatises on horology. Something about a celestial globe and a…an army thing.”
“Ah,” the shopkeeper said as if he’d just discovered something amazing, “The Essentials of a New Methodology for Automating the Bindings of Minor Malevolents in Tao Space!”
“That’s the one!”
“Sorry. I don’t have that one.”
“Oh,” she said crestfallen.
“I do, however, have its rather more modern antecedent, Zhong Te’s Permutations and Variations Concerning the Movement of Celestial Bodies through Hellspace.”
“Oh!” That sounded good, even if she had no clue what that was, “That’s great, I’m a sorcerer-engineer and that sounds right up my alley. Does it have any passages on stabilization when passing through multiple portal junctures during a local spiritual eclipse?”
“Well,” the man said, “I suppose you’ll just have to take a look and find out for yourself. It’s two rows over, the book with the ivory latch on it.”
She nearly skipped her way to the area he described, wheeling carelessly around a corner and nearly bumping into a short, squat creature with huge eyes and a mouth as wide as its head. It wore a spacer’s jumpsuit and the ring for its helmet was absurdly huge. It’s wide flat tongue licked its lips as two nictating membranes flicked over it’s protruding black eyes. Yae Hai.
Capella didn’t have time to scream.