NaNoWriMo 2014

I haven’t visited the site yet to make it official, but I do plan to participate in NaNo this year.  However, I’m already behind, and I don’t have the surplus of vacation from the Evil Day Job as in other years.  The only days I’m currently scheduled to take in Nov. are the week of Thanksgiving.

I like to stay up until midnight after Halloween and get the first day’s words, but it just didn’t work out this year.  Having the first days on the weekend are difficult for me.  That’s when we do all the errands and stuff that we don’t have time to do in the week because of work.  Plus, yesterday we drove to Papa’s for a bonfire.  I did manage to get 519 words in the car on the way, but that’s it.  Today’s laundry and Princess had a party and football, which can make it hard to concentrate.

If I finish the night with a total of 2K for the first 2 days, I’ll be happy.

Then I plan to get up D&E starting tomorrow and keep pushing forward.

Oh, and the story I’m working on?  I guess I’m technically a rebel because this project was already started.  I intend to finish the first draft of Charlie’s story this month.  I already have 40k+ on it, and I think I’ll need another 40K at least.  It’s a long, detailed story with lots of snaky twists and turns.  I already have it thoroughly plotted out, so hopefully it won’t be too bad.

That’s my plan for NaNoWriMo.  Are you participating this year?

NaNoWriMo 2013 Day 1

I love to take Nov. 1st off when it’s a weekday so I can stay up until midnight 10/31 and hit the ground running!  Unfortunately this year I was so tired that by the time midnight rolled around I could hardly string two words together.  I did manage 576 but then called it a night.  The words were slow going and it was going to be after 1 AM before I got enough to call it quits, and I had to get the monsters up for school this morning (wakeup call at 6 AM).

Once I got everyone off to work and school, I had a lazy few hours.  It was nice to sit and drink coffee in silence while dinking around with email, Twitter, and TV.  At least I didn’t turn on Netflix (my ultimate time sink) but I enjoyed watching Ancient Aliens.  Finally about 9 or so I turned off the TV, shut down internet, and got to work.

It was still slow.  I’d write a bit and pause, check my word count.  300 words.  Sigh.  But I did finally break 1K and stopped for lunch.

This year, I’m going to try and walk every day, weather permitting.  KoKo needs the work (long story, I’ll try to write up a blog post later) and I don’t want to totally chain myself to the computer.  I’ve been stressed out lately and I need the exercise!  So I walked around the neighborhood a little over 30 mins with the pup and came back just in time to write another 30 mins or so before the first two monsters got home from school (early day out on Friday).  That brought my total to 2025 words for the day.

I ended up taking the rest of the night off.  I’m mentally still a little out of the game so I don’t want to strain too hard yet.  I was hoping for 5K but I’ll take what I got and hope for the best tomorrow.

NaNoWriMo

The best laid plans…

I allowed 9 days of vacation in November, concentrating on the beginning of the month to get as many words in as possible early, and then the entire week of Thanksgiving (since we host the family).  I was so excited to FINALLY have some time off…

Then I received word that a crucial person at the Evil Day Job for my current project gave her notice.  Her last days in the office are next Monday and Tuesday… when I’ll be out.  So I halfway committed to logging in at least a little those days to maximize the time I have left with her.  Not too bad though – I could still write in the mornings.

Then this week I got notice that they need me to travel to St. Paul home office for training.  The week of Nov. 18th.

Sigh.  I’m going to lose the entire week.

I can say I’m going to write that week, but I know how it’ll go.  I’ll be up super early (I’m not used to having to dress and put on makeup for work since I work from home) and I’ll be out late catching up with friends.  I won’t even have my lunch to write because I’ll be doing lunch with friends.  I’ll also be half brain dead because I’ll be frantically preparing training materials (I’m giving part of the training and I don’t have time to prepare the training until after a crucial milestone testing file for my project is done by 11/15).

Oh not to mention my story is only halfway plotted in my head (I was going to push hard to finish the PNR).

I am still going to try.  I love NaNoWriMo.  But it’s not going to be the perfect/fun month I was expecting.  What about you – are you joining the insanity this year?

NaNoWriMo Day 008

In which I fall behind…

I only got 800+ words election night.  Last night was even worse.  I still have hope for tonight, but man, it’s slow going.  The words just don’t have any life.  I know the plot, the characters, everything, but there’s just no energy and vibrancy to the words.

I just have to keep going.  Keep pushing.  The magic is there.  I just have to find it.

On the bright side, I’m off tomorrow and Monday.  Hopefully I can make up some lost ground.  Total (before tonight’s work):  10,996 words

Snippet (still not NaNoWriMo material):

Bloody hell.  She’s brought us to a sex shop.

Sig gritted his teeth, sure his face had exploded in fire.  He shot a subtle look at the other man to see his reaction.

Studying the chains and clamps, Masters whispered, “I guess my handcuffs aren’t enough for her any longer.”

A surge of fury and shame swept through Sig so viciously he trembled.  “Enough for me, you mean.  Is that what this is about?”

Masters arched a brow at him.  “I have no idea what the lady’s about.  You know her better than I.”

Do I?  Shaken, Sig slipped closer to her so he could overhear her quiet words to the young woman running the back counter.  He tried to be invisible, making himself small and thin and dark, barely even breathing.  But the young woman’s eyes flickered his way and she gave him a small, knowing smile.

“Very good,” Charlie said.  “May I try a few to make sure I select the correct grip?”

“Of course.”  The shopkeeper pulled down several short-handled crops and flails.  “These look to be the best length for your arm and height.  This one,” she pointed to a flail with thin tails of cloth, “delivers the softest blow.  This one uses beads and leather to deliver more pain without the same cutting strike.  Which do you think will suit your needs best?”

Charlie chuckled softly.  “I don’t honestly know.  I’m afraid I’m a novice at all this.  However…”  She trailed her fingers over the braided detail of the leather flail.  White cording made an intricate webbing about the black leather.  “I find this design the most interesting.  What do you think, Sig?”

“I despise it.”  His lips felt so tight that he could barely speak.  “Why would you even think I’d like such a thing?”

She tilted her head, her eyes wide with mock surprise that made him quiver with rage.  “Why on earth would you assume it’s for you?”

NaNoWriMo Day 4

Still going along but I have to work in chunks.  I’ve had a lot of distractions with real life and work, but I keep giving myself small chunks.  Write 500 words and take a break.

Write another 500 words.

It’s slow but it is progress and the words are adding up.

I managed to write a little in the car yesterday on the way to the funeral, and then slowly worked my way toward the last 700 words last night.  I’m sitting at 7664 words this morning, my last day of vacation.  But I keep getting distracted.

I love watching cheesy horror movies and I’m on my second today. :oops:  But I am writing at the same time, just nothing major in word count.  I’m also going to vote today, so I’m not sure how much time I’ll lose this afternoon waiting in line.

But that’ll free me up tomorrow and ensure I don’t get sucked into work and forget to go vote!

Continuing from the last snippet:  (again, not NaNoWriMo material, not yet)

It’d been easy enough in the beginning to accept that Charlie wanted two men in her bed.  He was merely thankful they were all still alive and that she’d escaped Queen Majel’s Runners.  He hadn’t even minded when she’d made love to him and then Gil or vice versa.  In the beginning, she’d often had them both in her bed, but they’d never interacted.  It’d been very much a “wait until it’s your turn” situation.  Not that he’d complained, again.  She kept him well satisfied and he’d never felt slighted or neglected in any way.

But night after night after night in that small ship speeding through the galaxy had begun to wear upon him.  Why he didn’t know exactly.  He loved her.  She loved him.  Gil loved her without question as well.

Sometimes love isn’t enough.

He winced at that thought and noticed he was stroking the hilt of his favorite knife tucked into a sheaf on his hip.

Her hand settled on his forearm, drawing his attention to her face.

“What is is?”

He gave her a jaunty grin.  “Merely dreading the next dress shop, Your Grace.”

Her eyes narrowed and she tilted her head as she studied him.  He fought to keep his shoulders relaxed and his face smooth of any upset.

“I see.”  She linked her arm with his and drew him alongside her and Gil.  “I thought perhaps you’d received a new contract and were afraid to tell me.”

“I wish,” he muttered.  A little killing always helped him keep the darkness at bay.  That, and visiting her.  But even with her admittedly divided attention, that same old uneasiness was beginning to gnaw at him.  Soon, he’d be unable to sleep, tormented by old shadowed pain.  Pain he’d thought he’d left behind a very long time ago.  “Why would I be afraid to tell you?  You already told me you wouldn’t try to make me quit.”

He couldn’t help that small emphasis.  He’d do anything she wanted within reason, but if Lady Wyre thought she could bat her eyes and make him stop being an assassin, then she’d be sorely mistaken.

She let out a low, rich chuckle that heated his blood, even while her words made him tense.  “Don’t challenge me, Sig.  You might not like the outcome.”

It was easy to slip the knife out and press the tip to her side before she even drew a breath.  “Don’t challenge me, Lady Wyre.”

She hissed beneath her breath.  “Don’t call me that, even here.  One never knows where the Queen’s Ravens may listen.”

Blasted woman.  She ought to be afraid of him not the distant albeit powerful queen hunting her all across the galaxy.  He jabbed the knife a bit harder.  “Do you honestly think Majel has spies here?  Look around, Your Grace.  Do you see a single red coat?  A single Britannian ship in the docks?  No.  Hoeng Gong is open to everyone except Britannia, which is why so many people are willing to risk trading here.  Even if Majel knew you were here, she couldn’t do anything.”

“You’re a fool, then.”  Charlie’s voice cooled but her pitch didn’t rise with alarm.  Calm and cool even with a knife poking her in the ribs, she drew to a halt and stared up at him levelly.  Gil cursed low under his breath.  “Never mind, Gil.  I’m fine.”

“That knife is pointed at your heart,” he replied grimly, his big right hand shifting toward the ancient pistol he kept beneath his coat.  Sig couldn’t help but grin, trying to antagonize the man.  They’d clashed early on and even bloodied each other a little, but she’d quickly put an end to their alpha dog posturing.  Maybe a fight would put him at ease at least long enough for a contract to come through.

“No matter.”  She shrugged, completely nonplussed.  “He knows I’m always prepared for such events, don’t you, dearest?  He was introduced to the corset I fondly call the iron maiden before I ever left Britannia.”

Indeed, their first meeting had gone rather like this, with him threatening to kill her while she looked him in the eye and dared him to try.  He hadn’t seen that steel-walled corset again.  Had she brought it along on his ship?  Would she have thought to wear it?

Do I want to risk bloodying the woman I love just to prove a point?

NaNoWriMo Day 1

I managed to stay up until midnight Oct. 31st and wrote until a little after 1AM to get my first day’s words.  Getting up at 6 AM was tough but worth it.  :-)

I ended up working 2-3 hours yesterday and had a 2 hour hair appointment, but I did manage short stints later to get 2,552 words for the day.

Today, I logged on for work about an hour, paid some bills, ground some flour and made some bread, and got 500 words.  I’m hoping to get another 2500 words today but we’ll see.  The kids get out of school an hour early on Fridays and I need to run to the bank — and back to the salon where I left my Kindle, ack!! — but I want to at least get my normal 1667 words to keep slightly ahead.

I haven’t shared any of Lord Regret’s Price yet.  I guess I’m nervous about it.  It’s been so difficult to get moving, and every time I miss a day, it’s like pulling teeth to get moving again.  Even today, knowing I need to write a few more sprints, I have a slight dread about getting started.  Once I’m going, it’s fine.  I’m on the verge of discovering some cool things about his mother.  P.S. I really have no idea who his mother is — if she’s based on a real person or not.  Guess I need to figure that out huh?

Anyway, here’s a little from how the book currently opens (not NaNoWriMo material – this was written weeks ago).

Watching Lady Wyre wander through the endless markets in Hoeng Gong was almost as fun as deciding how his next mark would die.

So much for being the galaxy’s most famous assassin.  Lord Sigmund Regret shifted the stack of parcels she’d shoved into his arms at the tea shop, careful to keep one hand free in case he needed to reach a weapon.  I haven’t accepted a contract in over a month.

At least he’d taken the first load of relatively small packets.  He smirked as the other man of their party eyed the enormous—and still growing—stack of silks she’d selected.

“How much room is there in your hold?”  Gilead Masters drawled in his distinctive Americus accent.  “Surely not enough for all this.”

Sig laughed.  “Large enough for Her Grace’s silks, surely, but I’m thankful that she’s not a collector of silver or we’d never get [ship name] out of the dock again.”

“Humph.”  Lady Charlotte Wyre tipped up her nose to a haughty angle.  “This is only my first day of shopping, gentlemen.  These materials are fine for every day gowns, but I intend to create a wardrobe that would dazzle even Her Majesty herself.  I’ve gone without the finer things in life for so long that I intend to make up for lost time.”

During the seven years she’d lived in hiding on the Americus colony, she hadn’t dared indulge her taste for the finery to which she’d been accustomed as Duchess of one of Britannia’s most powerful Houses.  Sig couldn’t fault her for wanting to make up for lost time.  He’d merely prefer to buy out the entire shop rather than stand around waiting while she sorted through each and every bolt.

“Then of course I must find a suitable modiste, not to mention matching trims, hats, boots, and gloves.  I must have day wear as well as evening, for I intend to wrangle an invitation into the Forbidden City so I might see the Emperor in all his glory for myself.  Not even Majel has accomplished that feat.”

Charlie paid the beaming shopkeeper an exorbitant amount of coin and gave instructions to have the silk delivered to their inn.  Sig dumped the tea parcels on top of the shimmering mountain, ignoring the arched look she shot his way.  The tea cost twice as much as the silks, but if she was entrusting her precious wardrobe to a delivery boy, she might as well have the tea delivered too.  At the prospect of Charlie surviving without tea, though, Sig relented enough to pick up the largest parcel full of her favorite, golden-tipped Assum.

Gil took her arm and they led the way down the crowded aisle.  People of all colors and species filled the market, yelling in dozens of languages.  Zijin was far enough away from the mighty arm of Britannia that trade flourished.  Even species like the Razari—who’d barely survived Britannia’s cruel method of technological assimilation—risked sailing into the open market of Hoeng Gong, a tiny island satellite of the larger Zijin system.

The crush of people on all sides sent Sig’s self-preservation alarms into overdrive.  He’d killed countless marks in situations like this.  A slim knife slipped between ribs and he was away before the person even noticed something was wrong.  Oftentimes their lungs were filling with blood before they even realized that prick they’d felt had been deadly.  With his law enforcement background, Gil was equally uneasy, holding Charlie close to his side, his dark head turning this way and that, constantly scanning for danger.  She tipped her face up to the other man and he bent down to hear over the clamor.

The sight of their heads so close to together sent an ugly pulse through Sig’s gut, hard enough that he turned away so he wouldn’t have to look at them.

Surely the infamous Lord Regret isn’t feeling jealousy.

Oh but I am.  I am.

NaNoWriMo

I love NaNoWriMo.  I’ve participated every year since 2007.  I even schedule several days of vacation from the Evil Day Job — especially early in the month — to ensure I set myself up for a fast start.

I’m not feeling the love this year.

My grandpa passed away this morning.  Emotionally, we’re all handling in fairly well, because we had the chance to say goodbye Monday night.  I’m afraid it’ll catch up with me, though, especially during services this weekend.  We’ll be on the road Sunday for the funeral and visiting family.

I’m *this close* to finishing the big project at work I mentioned.  There are a few things still not working, but the bulk of my tasks for the project are done to the point where the other programmer isn’t stuck waiting on me to supply the data.  I promised to check email in the morning and see if I can finish the last few things still outstanding and I might call in for an update meeting.

So while I’m technically “on vacation” until Tuesday…. I might actually be logging in several times.  The joys of working from home where “showing up for work” is way too easy.

And yeah, I still have to get the monsters up for school at 6 AM.  Not feeling the “stay up all night to write” love then.

With all the long hours and stress this past week, I don’t know that I can even stay up until midnight tonight, let alone get my first 1666 words right out of the gate.  I haven’t touched Sig’s file in days — and I have to finish him before I can start anything else.

Needless to say, I’m starting with several handicaps, both emotionally and physically.  But I still want to try.  I’m hoping the love and energy will lift me up and keep me going when my tank is already running low.

We shall see.  The first task is whether I can actually stay up until midnight tonight as I originally planned.

NaNoWriMo2011 Winner!

I was so close tonight that I had to keep going until I hit.  All Lady Wyre’s Regret tonight, but I have absolutely no regrets.  I have no idea how much longer this prequel could be.  I don’t have a particular ending in mind.  Actually as I typed that, I *did* get the ending as clear as day in my head.  Isn’t that strangely wonderful?

So for this NaNoWriMo, I:

  • Finished The Billionaire Zombie’s Virgin Witch.  I even edited it.
  • Did some brainstorming for Lord Regret’s Price.
  • Wrote several thousand more words on Lady Wyre’s Regret.
  • Did some brainstorming and even first draft work on the project I’ll tentatively call “3 Aliens” even though that’s not what the title will be.

I did not get back to Phantom yet.  It’s going to have to wait a bit longer, because as soon as I finish this prequel, I need to format all the Shanhasson books and get them loaded next month.  After I submit the zombie story!

Final NaNoWriMo count:  50,027 (50,074 in my file, but I’ll go with what the validator gave).

Snippet:  From Lady Wyre’s Reget, first draft, etc. etc.

As Queen’s Physician, Charlotte had enjoyed every luxury Londonium had to offer as well as full backing for every scientific exploration she’d ever wanted to undertake.  Yet she’d never crashed a ship on an unknown planet before.

“Another thing I need to learn,” she muttered, pushing up out of the cupboard into which she’d tumbled.

Sig was sprawled on the floor and half buried by rubble.  From the brief look she’d gotten at his chest before the crash, she didn’t hesitate to grab the small black case containing her most prized research.  Tossing the broken panel and twisted hull away from him, she called out to him.
“Sig?  Are you still with me?”

“Charlie.”  He tried to laugh but his chest wheezed like a ghastly broken pipe organ.  “Did we make it?”

She dug into her case and pulled out a pair of sharp scissors to cut open his lawn shirt.  A pity, because the fine linen and delicate hand-woven lace looked like it’d come straight from Parisii.  “A bit worse for wear, I’m afraid.  I hope you weren’t terribly fond of Henry for I’ve broken him beyond repair.”  She kept her voice light and cheerful, despite the severity of his wound.  Any other physician would merely make him comfortable until his final moments.  But not I.  “What manner of planet have you sent me to, Lord Regret?”

“A colony.”

“A rebellious colony.”  Not good.  The shard had pierced his heart, possibly beyond even her repair.  “It won’t surprise me if Majel simply blows the entire planet out of the sky for their audacity.”

“Safest I could find in such short notice.”  His voice weakened, breathy with pain.  His pulse fluttered in his throat, frantic and uneven.  “Don’t bother, Charlie.  I know it’s bad.”

As if to illustrate his words, he wrapped his hand around the shard and yanked it out of his chest.  Blood spurted immediately, his life’s blood draining away in an alarming fountain.

Planting her right hand over the wound, she laid the precious glass tube out on his heaving chest.  Inside, tiny bits of silver metal glinted in the emergency lights.  She leaned down over him so he could see her face despite his weakened senses.  “I can save you, if you want to live.”

“Too many regrets,” he whispered, his words stumbling together until she could barely understand him.  “Let me die.”

She hesitated, searching his face.  The lines of pain eased about his eyes, smoothing into acceptance.  He’d risked his reputation as the galaxy’s most famous assassin to help her.  He could have left her at Dock 371.  He could have tossed her to the bounty hunter and escaped unscathed.

But he didn’t. How can I stand by and watch him die without at least trying?

She flipped the cork out of the tube.  She removed her hand from his chest, braced for spraying blood, but he’d already lost too much.  In the open wound, she could see the torn remains of his heart and the white of broken bone.  Into that cavity, she sprinkled the metal bits from the tube.

All of them.  The more assemblers in his body, the more likely they can repair the damage before he dies.

She pulled out the datapad and typed in simple commands.  Heart. Infection.  Blood loss.  Her assemblers weren’t  sentient, so without programming, they’d simply be bits of debris in his wound.  While they worked their magic, she gave him a shot for pain.  At least he’d be comfortable if they failed.  Then she spilled a bio-bandage over the wound and hoped for the best.

Settling back on her heels, she closed her eyes and allowed emotion to wash through her for one brief, luxurious moment.  Relief, joy, terror, heart-pumping adrenaline.  Her hands trembled, and with no one to see her moment of weakness, she even allowed a few tears to fall.  She was so close to freedom!  So close to losing the man who’d helped make it all possible.  So close to death herself.  But at least I’ll die fighting for my freedom, not trapped in the Tower while Majel scribbles down every secret her torturers yank out of me.

With that out of her system, she forced herself up and moving.  She couldn’t assume the bounty hunter had given up on them so quickly.  They were down in strange territory, helpless, unable to flee, and one of their party severely wounded.  If they had to make a run for it, she needed to gather the most crucial supplies.
There was nothing else she could do for Sig at the moment, although she couldn’t help stealing glances at him to see if he were still breathing.

Packets of food.  Every weapon she could find.  Anything she might be able to sell or trade for information or protection.  She had a tidy pile by Sig when she heard the first rustling and cracks of undergrowth outside the ship.  Arming herself with a lazor he’d thoughtfully installed beneath Henry’s main dash, she wiped all emotion from her face, hit the button to open the hatch, and walked outside with all the regal confidence of the Duchess of Wyre.

“Hello, there!”  She called in her most imperious voice as though summoning the butler for her afternoon tea.  “We need assistance immediately.”

A man stepped out of the shadows, crossing the torn earth and smoldering tracks of their crashing descent.  He approached with hands palm up and empty, his manner hesitant despite his lumbering giant-like size.  She kept the lazor hidden against her skirts, ready to slice his head off if he even thought about attacking them.  His much larger bulk wouldn’t matter one iota against the razor-sharp weapon.  Dressed in a strange mishmash of furs and leathers with the skin of some small rodent wrapped around his head, he appeared to be a colonist, not the bounty hunter that had shot them down.

“Are you hurt, my lady?”

English, at least.  She could thank her lucky stars a Britannian colony had been close, although she hoped the colonists weren’t too sympathetic to Her Majesty’s command.  Americus had been the first colony to attempt to cast off Majel’s yoke.  If she hadn’t been busy wiping out the Razari, she might have already destroyed Americus’s pitiful little rebellion.

“No, but my companion is.  Do you have shelter nearby?”

“Only my cabin, my lady.  I’m afraid we’re several klicks from any real civilization.”

Perfect.  She stepped aside to allow him to peek inside the ship at Sig.  “That’ll do.  What’s your name, sir?”

“Gage, my lady.  I’m no bloodletter, but your friend doesn’t look well at all.”

Briskly, she gathered up her research equipment and as much of their provisions as she could carry.  “Bloodletting is for ignorant fools who know nothing better.  Now make yourself useful and help me get my friend to safety.”

The man easily scooped Sig into his arms like a child, emphasizing his bear-like size.  I have no contacts in this
place.  My title and House cannot help me here.  All I have are my research—which I daren’t use too openly else Majel will catch wind of it—my feminine wiles, and my wits.

Putting as much seductive sway as possible into her hips, she stepped out of the wreck and cast a flirtatious glance back at Gage.  The poor bumbling man gaped at her like she’d sprouted another head and almost dropped Sig.

It’s a damned good thing I’ve been blessed with a brain. 

NaNoWriMo2011 Day 27

Posting this morning since it was too late last night.  I didn’t get much work done over Thanksgiving, but I did work in the car Saturday on the way to Granny’s.  And since I’m off from the Evil Day Job today, I stayed up late last night, which I’m paying for this morning because I still have to get the monsters up for school.

I plan to work more on Lady Wyre’s Regret today, but last night, I had to work on plotting and building a project that I’ve been thinking about for awhile.  I dreamed about it the other night, so I wanted to get down everything I could remember.  All the work this weekend was on plot and worldbuilding.  For once, I know the ending pretty well (or at least the general idea, perhaps not every last detail), but I have no idea what happens in the middle.  Other than the smexing.  *winks*  So I need to do a lot more plotting.  I’m sure I’ll be ready to set it aside for more work later once I run out of steam.

NaNoWriMo count (thru last night):  46,185 words

Snippet:  From Lady Wyre’s Regret, first draft only, subject to heavy revision later.

“So you’re a pilot as well as an assassin.”  Lady Wyre had traded in the slightly scorched gown for a high-waisted spotlessly delicate linen that made Sig shake his head.  “What other talents do you possess?”

The linen was so fine and thin he could see the darker hint of her thighs despite the petticoats she wore.  The hem and bodice were thickly covered with silver embroidery and pearls.  On Britannia, she’d be the perfect picture of a genteel lady heading to her country house.  She’s got a lot to learn about living on the run.

They slipped through the heavily armed Britannia shields using a tiny backdoor loophole he’d paid a small fortune to open.  Breathing a little easier, he initiated the illegal contraband engine he’d acquired from a desperate Razari.  It’d need a bit to warm up, but once charged, they’d hit Kali Kata in a matter of hours.

If one of Her Majesty’s ships happened to board him, they’d take one glance at that tiny crystal powering the ship to unheard-of speeds and throw him into the Tower without evening finding his female partner aboard.  Luckily they won’t be able to catch us once we hit Razari speed.  “Do you have any gowns a little less conspicuous?”

Up went her nose and she gave him that delightfully regal stare that somehow made him appear shorter than her slight five foot height.  “A Duchess has a duty to always look her absolute best.”

As gently as possible, he pointed out the obvious.  “You can’t be the Duchess of Wyre any longer, sweetheart.”

She sniffed and a sudden bolt of terror struck his heart at the thought that she might burst into tears.  He hated crying.  He’d actually botched a few marks in the past because he hurried up to silence all the moaning and messy sobbing.  If she was a crier, it’d be damned tempting to slit her pretty throat and toss her into deep space.

“I hope you stocked tea on this miserable little boat.  I need a cup.  Badly.”

Suspicious, he risked a glance at her and thankfully found her eyes completely dry. “I’ve got a nice black from Zijin. Just whirl your chair around one eighty degrees and hit the replicator.”

She didn’t fuss about having to make her own tea or complain that a replicator’s brew wasn’t as good as the real thing, a pleasant surprise.  After leading a life of privilege, she couldn’t be faulted for snobbish ways, as long as she wasn’t a bloody prig at the same time. That he couldn’t abide.

She surprised him yet again by handing him a cup, too and also asking—instead of ordering.  “Where are we going?”

“It’s going to be hard to disappear off the grid, unless you leave Britannian space entirely.  We’ll have to fuel up somewhere, so I planned to stop at the Colony.  Then beyond, wherever you want to go.”

“Britannia space grows wider day by day.  The Razari certainly didn’t expect a warship to show up on their front door.”  She sipped her tea in silence for a few moments.  “I’m not afraid of correcting my mistakes, Sig.  As long as you’re not afraid to point them out to me.”  She chuckled at  whatever she saw on his face.  “Besides, now I have a reason to go shopping again. What do you recommend?”

“Dark colors, simple utilitarian materials.  No embellishments.”

When she pouted, he couldn’t help but laugh.  “No silk?”

“Absolutely not.  Only a woman of a blooded House would wear silk outside of Britannia.  If you look like a lady, there will be questions.”

She blew out a long breath.  “This is going to be harder than I imagined.  I expected to live without servants, high fashion, and the tedium of Society.  In fact, I relished the opportunity to live on my own for once in my life.  But no silk?  Oh dear.  That might…” She sniffed and damned if her bottom lip didn’t quiver.  “Break me.”

Dread chilled Sig’s stomach.  Don’t cry.  Please don’t cry.  “Don’t make me toss you out the airlock, Charlie.”

She burst into laughter.  “You should see the look on your face.  Why, Lord Regret, I do believe you’re queasy.  Are you by chance air sick?”

An alarm blared, cutting through her teasing.  Instantly calm and alert, she calmly set the cup of tea aside and took up position beside him.

He scanned the readings.  “Unknown ship.”

“Her Majesty’s?”

Sig shook his head.  “Not a warship.  I’m also not detecting a merchant signal.  Not good, not good at all.  Someone was waiting for us to lift out of port.  I need another five minutes before the Razari crystal is fully powered.”

“What kind of cannon do we have?”

He couldn’t help flashing a look of appreciation at her.  No questions, no panic.  She leaped straight to the heart of the issue and prepared to blow them out of the sky.  “Henry might be little, but our ship is loaded for bear.”  He reached over and pulled up the armament program on her display.  “Fire at will.  We have plenty of ammunition.”

Concentrating on the controls, she still managed to quip.  “You named your ship Henry?”

“Be nice to him,” Sig warned as he programmed in a zig-zag flight pattern with a little more zig than zag to hopefully buy them time.  “He’s your ticket out of the Tower of Londonium.”

“Good boy.”  She patted the dashboard and winked at Sig.  “Fly faster, dear Henry.”

Taking return fire as quickly as she managed to get off a shot, the ship shimmied. Sig kept a wary eye on the shields, which were dropping at an alarming rate.  Another hit and they might lose their port engine.  Come on, Henry.  Fire up that blasted engine so we can get out of here!

Lady Wyre whirled her seat around.  “Where are my trunks?”

“You don’t have time to change your gown,” he gritted out.  “I’m pushing the engines are hard as I dare to get us some breathing room, but I need you to keep them off my tail as long as possible!”

“Oh for goodness sakes.”  She left her chair, stumbling against the panel when they took another shot that rocked the ship sideways.  Fortunately, the panel she accidentally knocked open contained her precious trunk. She rummaged in it and quickly returned to her seat.  “I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve, so to speak, Lord Regret.  I can help with the shields and possibly…”

She plugged a slim stick into the panel and her dainty hands flew over the keyboard.  “There.  I can’t wait to get my hands on Henry’s nether regions to fully explore that Razari engine.  All they brought to me to study was the crystal.”

Amazingly, the shields increased back to eighty percent capacity.

“You should have a bit more horses under the hood, too.”

Shaking his head, he increased the throttle and Henry leaped ahead like a charger taking the next fence.  “My dear Lady Wyre, if we weren’t getting chased by a bounty hunter, I’m afraid I might have to kiss you.”

“Bloody hell,” she muttered, slamming her fist down on the panel.

Taken aback, Sig kept his gaze straight ahead.  Stupid tongue.  Too familiar by half and me out of Society for years.  No wonder she’s offended.

“Oh don’t be a mamby-pamby.  If you dare to steal a kiss, give me your very best effort and I may reward you with a bedding you’ll not soon forget.  I’m frustrated because evidently I’m a wretched shot.  If we survive, I want your solemn word of honor that you’ll see to it that I receive proper training on marksmanship.”

“Done and done.”  Another blast rocked the ship, and this time poor Henry didn’t recover.  He wallowed to the port side.  Cursing beneath his breath, Sig hauled on the controls but the ship was sluggish to respond.  “Damnation, we’re sitting ducks here.  Don’t do this to me, Henry!”

“Incoming.”  Her voice was tight and low but not panicked.  “I’m trying to intercept.  Hold on…”

The explosion sent the ship rolling back to starboard.  Shrapnel splintered off the hull, jabbing into his left side and chest. He fought to bring the ship out of the roll, but pain choked him.

No.  That was blood.

“The hull is compromised.”  If anything, Lady Wyre’s voice became even more measured and calm as their situation worsened.  “Redirecting shields with my device.  Hold on, Henry…”

Sig glanced down.  A long piece of twisted metal protruded from his chest.  Once he pulled it out, he’d probably die in minutes.  I have to find a place to land and fast.  A place where we won’t fall into Britannian hands as soon as we try to dock.

There was only one blip on the radar that was settled but not firmly in Britannian control.  Whatever she’d done with the shields had settled the ship’s roll, but the controls were still sluggish.  He tried to plot the new course, but his fingers were numb.  His hands felt like blocks of ice.

“Tell me what to do.”

“New course.”  He tried to breathe shallowly to ease the pain.  “Americus.”
She said something, but pain blanketed him in a gray daze that words couldn’t penetrate.  He couldn’t help but laugh, even though it sent shards of agony through his heart.  I never thought I’d die in a shipwreck at the hands of a bounty hunter.

NaNoWriMo2011 Day 22

Just 769 words today but I’ll take them.  This piece (Lady Wyre’s Regret) is soooo fun.  It’s been great getting back into this world and visiting Lord Regret and Charlie again.  I went back to previous scenes and layered in a few more details that I thought about after heading to bed last night.

NaNoWriMo Count:  42,121 words

Snippet:  Following from the previous day.

He picked her up, manhandling her down the impressive stairs to her gleaming carriage. Her shoe fell off and she had the inane urge to laugh.  Cinderella would be late to the ball.  Would Prince Charming find her shoe and come to her rescue?

Lord Regret slung her inside the carriage so hard she fell face first against the floor.  Her head rebounded off the wall and for a moment, everything went black.  Outside, screams and chaos did nothing to help her regain her senses.  She tasted blood and her head throbbed.

The flash of heat stirred her numb limbs to life.  Fire exploded about the carriage, created by the Razari crystal she’d studied.  A deliberate message to Majel, as well as a  plausible source for the execution to which she could claim ignorance.  Someone had to want Charlotte dead other than the Queen, enough to make her doubt Charlotte’s hand in her own execution.

Of anyone, the Razari would want her dead for what she’d accidentally done to their planet.

Smoke choked her, making it impossible to see.  She ran her hands over the floor of the carriage, trying to find the escape hatch.  I have to get out before it starts moving.  Damnation, where’s the latch?

Panic made her hands tremble.  Sweat trickled down her face, the heat scalding her skin.  The stench of scorched silk and melting metal burned her throat.  Finally, she found the latch, hefted the small door open, and jumped through to blissfully cool darkness.  She pulled the hatch shut after her and nearly collapsed into a heap of smoldering skirts.

Too close.  Too real.  Her mind shrilled, her nerves raw with fear, but she forced her body to move.  She had to get off Wyreton lands as soon as possible.  Majel wouldn’t delay the search long, even if they managed to extinguish the blaze.

Her greatest fear was that someone would put out the fire before it managed to destroy the carriage.  The Razari crystals were powerful, flashing so hot that metal began melting almost immediately.  Definitely hot enough to combust a body into nothing but ashes, indistinguishable from the remains of the carriage.

I hope.

No one outside of Wyreton knew there were extensive tunnels beneath the estate, and her own people would never betray her House, not even to the Queen.  Yet she daren’t leave any trace behind, just in case.

From her reticule, she pulled out a thin canister of bio-bandage to seal shut the assassin’s wound.  She yearned for a mirror to see how badly she’d scar, resisting her vanity that insisted she cover the ugly cut with a scarf.  She didn’t feel much damage.  Sig knew very well what he was about.

She had no lady’s maid to help her strip off the gown, so she heaved her skirts up about her waist, picked up her remaining slipper, and ran down the corridor in her stockings with nothing but a hand on the wall to guide her.  No light, in case someone was watching.  No sound.  No trail for Majel to follow.

Once well away from the house, she exited the tunnel in a dim, empty stable. No horses lived in these stalls, but Charlotte—and her mother before her—had always been suspicious with private caches and safehouses  throughout Londonium.  With ruthless House Krowe in control of Britannia, a lady never knew when she’d have to make a run for it, and a Wyre always went in style.

Donning a full-length cape, she hopped on a motorized scooter—her own invention, of course—and headed for their meeting place at the Thames dock.  She checked her timepiece and pressed the accelerator.  Lord Regret had been adamant about the time.  Once the accident happened, the docks would close down within minutes just to make sure no one escaped.  Majel would claim she wanted to capture the assassin who’d dared harm her Physician, but she’d want to ensure Charlotte wasn’t escaping the net at the same time.  Five to ten minutes would be all they had to get out of the Britannian airlocks.

She skidded to a halt at the dock, Pier 371 as he’d ordered.  The motor started in a rumbling roar of smoke.  Oh, dear, the Captain could surely use my assistance in fine-tuning his engines. Perhaps he’ll allow me to make a few modifications as we sail…

The ship lifted off and she stared at it a moment, dumbfounded.  She opened her mouth to shout, but it would do no good. No one would hear over the engines, and she daren’t draw attention to herself.  How ironic that she’d been betrayed by her own assassin.  “Dead” wouldn’t matter if she couldn’t get off Britannia.  There was only so long she could hide, so many favors she could claim, so many bribes…before the Queen’s Ravens found her.

She squeezed her eyes shut and fought for calm.  Think, Wyre.  Think!

A hand closed around her arm and she nearly shrieked like a fishmonger in Cheapside.  Her eyes flew open and met Lord Regret’s knowing smirk.

“Doubting the trustworthiness of your assassin, Lady Wyre?  Surely not.”

He guided her further down the dock to a much smaller ship.  Fighting back shock and relief, she stared doubtfully at the tiny boat.  Would it even be large enough for the two of them?  Then an overwhelming sense of loss washed over her, weakening her knees.  My research. Lost.  What if it falls into hands worse than Majel’s?  Her voice trembled as badly as her hands.  “My trunks?”

Inclining his head, he waved her aboard, smiling at her torn stockings and slightly scorched red silk.  “Already aboard, Your Grace.  I thought it best to have my own red  herrings.  Lord Regret would make almost as an attractive lure as Lady Wyre for the footpads and pirates lurking about the docks.  Now shall we be away?”

Charlotte spared one last glance at the glorious city stretched out along the Thames.  The Tower of Londonium rose like a gloomy dark sentinel against the brightly-lit night.  Even at this late hour, crows flew about the tower, their eerie caws echoing like ghosts in the nearly silent city.  Britannians everywhere were pausing in their chores and celebrations to watch with awe and not a little dread as a small distant planet began to slide in front of the silvered moon.  For almost an hour, the moon would be completely hidden in the dark of that planet. While I slip far, far away.

“I’ll not regret it if I never see Londonium again.”