12 August 2009

On The Way To New Isosceles-Revised Preview!

Alrighty Woody folks and fans of the Woodster! Here's a brand spanking new look at the revised and edited for publication On The Way To New Isosceles. Don't forget my science fiction erotica novel is debuting with Eternal Press this November!

Take a fresh gander at Chapters 1 and 2 below, and remember you can visit my naughty self anytime at my blog or my shared livejournal with fellow EP author Kristin Battestella, aptly named Scares and Spices!

You can also see a complete list of virtual and live appearances for myself, Kristin, and the rest of the cohorts at Eternal Press at the Kristin Battestella Yahoo Group. I'll be having another Guest Day there Tuesday August 18.

But anyway! Here's the new look Chapters 1 and 2 of On The Way To New Isosceles!

On The Way to New Isosceles
A tale of love and war- in space!

By Leigh Wood

Chapter One

It was Iowa, twenty years ago. The wheat fields were golden, the sky aqua- but JJ knew it was just a dream again. Every night Earth returned, luscious with life, vegetation, water. The planet remained in her mind as it once was. The powerful atmosphere blew an ever so gentle breeze through her astral red hair. Her younger self walked knee deep in the swaying grains. It was hot; the sun shone its mid day summer brightest. Her little dress billowed-she was bare foot, and the seeds itched yet tickled her soles and bare arms. That morning it had rained, and beads of water still trickled from the budding grain and dropped between little JJ’s toes. Her feet would get dirty, and her mother would send her to the hose before she was allowed to enter the house.

Just as it had then, a shadow slid over the glistening grains-not simple wisps of clouds; but a sudden, massive blanket of darkness. The golden sunlight vanished from view. A red glow lit up the afternoon; the horizon streaked with the colors of sunset and wildfires, and a fiery red meteor smoked across the sky. Hot coals rained down on the twelve year old, and JJ ducked below the equally defenseless grains. Lava like fire smothered the ground, and sulfur filled her lungs. The girl tried to turn and crawl home, but the ground was hot and quaked. It was dark, and the burning grains cast the dim flickering light of a thousand little candles. Iowa submerged into Hell. The comet fell to earth, and all that humanity knew of Gaia was gone.
JJ sat up in her bunk and hit her head on the solid deck plating. There was little room to breathe on the Mother Ship; but better inside the hearty old ship’s cramped walls then out in cold, black, oxygen-free space. Of course, she had chosen the top bunk.
“Had another nightmare?” Her bunkmate’s concerned feminine call came from beneath the top bed.
JJ pulled her hair from its messy bun and wiped the sweat from her chest. Her heavy breathing calmed. Her hair was still red, but shorter and darker. She wasn’t flat chested, but her boobs weren’t as big as she would have liked. And of course, earth was still unable to sustain life. Well, it had been when what was left of humanity left ten years ago. How her home planet had faired since she hadn’t heard.
“As you were, Private,” She finally acknowledged. She lay back down and listened to their spaceship rumble. She was a Lieutenant in the Combatant Brigade; she needn’t give explanations when she wasn’t ordered to by her Captain. Ten years of space faring and fighting their rival human factions didn’t give time to go soft. Not that JJ was ever soft. She would, however, drift off to sleep again if she was left alone. Sleep was necessary to her business, but alarms stirred her again.
“Combat Teams to your drop ships,” The intercom echoed. “All Combat Teams to your drop ships.”
“That’s us!” JJ’s bunkmate jumped up and pulled on her gear. Her perfect uniform was on and her backpack ready before JJ slid off her bunk and carelessly tossed away her sleep shirt. The tall, fit Korean was a proper soldier, and as strict as JJ was, sometimes Ina Wu’s no nonsense attitude irked her. But she had little time to be irked, especially now. Her uniform was on and in tip top shape. Gear? Check; backpack? Check. She halted at the sight of a third, empty bunk. Their quarters were small for one, inconvenient for two, but their third roommate was not interested in bunking with other women.
“Wu, where is Kimmie?”
“I believe it’s been Private Lucas for awhile,” Ina informed.
JJ buttoned her top and locked her gear into place. “If she’s not at the drop ship, Captain Westmayer better not chew my ass.”
The women jogged down the shaking corridor with other combat specialists in rustling dark spacesuits, helmets, backpacks, and jiggling space gear. The team had been to the weapons lock up and took up their spacesuits with their rifles. The hefty doors of the Mother Ship beeped its warnings and opened before them.
“Let’s move it!” JJ rushed into the Lift Off Zone. Shuttles and drop ships waited for their personnel as the Mother Ship shook and echoed.
“Zone Doors Opening in two minutes. All Combatants report to your drop ships.”
Combatants marched onto their drop ships, and Ina climbed up the rumbling ramp of Drop Ship 69. The swift Asian strapped into her designated seat, but a tall shadow prevented JJ from entering the transport.
“Lieutenant Johnson, I’ve told you before about the need for timely deployments.”
“I know, Captain.”
Where Ina’s severe stature and jaw line deceived about her dry wit and sometimes impish personality, Captain Scott Westmayer meant to look menacing, even if he was warm at heart. Although JJ had known him on earth, so maybe his warmness was for her and her alone. Not that there was time to really know people while hurling through space.
“Jess, you’re the best hand to hand combatant in the unit, but your lead by example attitude only goes so far.”
JJ wasn’t a leader. She was a fighter; but the Combatants needed leaders, and she didn’t argue with her superior. At least, not when there was a mission to be had.
“I know, Captain.”
“You’ve got to show more authority, Lieutenant.”
“I know, I mean, yes, Sir.”
A disheveled private approached the ramp, and both her superiors glared. Her uniform was mis-buttoned over her lacey bosom, and what gear she did have was tangled around her shoulders. JJ was a bit jealous of her friend’s lust and carefree attitude, but sex doesn’t last. Combatants were fighting for their very existence, and this Private was not doing her share. It wasn’t her fault. Everyone on earth had to choose a side. Kimmie couldn’t fly a spaceship and she didn’t build nuclear weapons-she hadn’t the brains for those.
“Kimmie Dejonaire.” The Captain sighed with slight bemusement at the messy blonde, but he entered the drop ship. “Let’s go, Private!”
The Mother Ship was old-scorched on its hull and rather clunky as spaceships go. The Combatants didn’t exactly get first choice in spacecraft, but this Mother Ship had been JJ’s home since she left earth. It was easy to personalize the old, routine broad for still chugging after all these years. The girl’s belly opened smoothly, and the Mother Ship’s doors released the drop ships one by one. JJ looked out the tiny window beside her seat. Cramped rows of jury rigged chairs carried the Combatants as the smaller crafts fell into space. Captain Westmayer stood by the controls in the drop ship and braved the descent. Never seemingly disturbed by anything, Ina smoothed her cropped dark hair and snapped on her helmet.
“Who is it Captain, Shitters or Nukes?” The man next to her asked.
“We’ve seen no signs of the Shippers,” The Captain stressed the proper nickname, and several of the boys laughed. Westmayer remained business. “We’ve learned the Nukes may be building more weapons on Asteroid 891X726.”
He put the information on the ship’s small display screens. The images shook and jumped with the jittery craft. Maps and pictures of the asteroid rotated before the team. All business as well, JJ studied the data.
“That’s a pretty big asteroid,” She cut in. “Still, all our drop ships won’t make the landing.”
“It will be tricky, but we have to land as many as possible. “ Westmayer focused on the material, not his personnel, as was his usual custom. “You’re objective when we land is to take their weapons facility by any means necessary.”
He pointed to the proposed facility’s location, but the drop ship’s screens flickered.
“You mean if we land.” Kimmie found her headgear and held onto her jiggling helmet. Their tiny ship shook more as it descended nearer the asteroid.
“When we land,” the Captain repeated. “If it cannot be taken, we will abort for an aerial assault.”
JJ frowned. “Why not an air raid first? Our lasers were up to 87 percent. The Mother Ship could be done before we-”
“Those are my orders, Lieutenant.” Westmayer turned away from her and fiddled with the controls.
A hearty Latino man looked squashed in the locked chair beside Kimmie.
“What’s going to stop the Nukes from releasing those pretty little bio hazards they like?”
“Shut it, Miguel.” Ina snickered. “You're always afraid a biological weapon is going to ruin your libido.”
“The Sergeant has a point,” JJ intervened, still perplexed at their unnecessary risk. “The asteroid could be flooded now. What guarantee do we have?”
“I can give none.” Westmayer was grim. “They've used chemicals against us in the past. You all have your current inoculations.”
“We’re five years behind them!” Kimmie grumbled to Miguel.
If Westmayer heard, he did not let on. “Take them by surprise and get to that facility before the Nukes can push any buttons. Good luck."
“Don’t lay it on all at once.” Miguel crossed himself.
The drop ships fired their thrusters and descended slowly and evenly toward the asteroid. JJ felt the rumbles and quakes, but she was used to it. When they first took to spaceflight, they all became ill and nauseous ascending or descending-every time a ship shook in fact. She turned from the tiny window and looked up and down her team. This was old hat now. Some of them even slept, but no one turned green.
“Check your comms,” she ordered as she adjusted her headset. Already there was ships’ chatter.
"Drop Ship 73 you’re coming in too fast!"
A drop ship zoomed passed the others and skidded over the rocky terrain. It deflected off a rough peak and crashed onto the asteroid’s abysmal surface. JJ blinked at the brief flashes outside her window. Pieces of hot metal slammed against the other drop ships, and Kimmie jumped at the echoes and clangs. More drop ships overshot the asteroid.
“57 shorten your thrusts.”
"Drop Ship 34, we’re trying to circle back for another go."
"Negative," Captain Westmayer ordered. He looked at the fritzing monitors and sensors. "Stay off as reinforcements. 41, 83, you’re on call as well."
"What number are we again?" Miguel turned to Kimmie.
"Ahem, Drop Ship 69."
Chapter Two
The drop ships neared the rocky surface and inched towards the ground. Landing gear sprung forth, but 69 hit a rock outcropping and jerked into the air.
"Shit!" Miguel yelled again. Ina closer eyes, but the sleepless JJ was unwavered. It wouldn’t be pretty, but they’d land.
The drop ship slammed onto the asteroid and skidded into the wasteland’s dirt. The craft smoked, but the Captain held tight. The small ship sped to a rough stop. It was stupid, dangerous, yet somehow fun; the perfect opportunity for JJ’s sarcasms.
"And we have another happy landing!" She smiled and locked down her helmet.
The drop ships’ hatches fizzed one after another, and the geared up teams filed onto the hard terrain. JJ surveyed the battlefield with her rifle ready. She knew the ins and outs of all the Combatant weapons, but every single Combatant was just that: a hand-to-hand lean, mean, fighting, and kick-ass weapon. But of course, in situations like these, weapons from a distance were best.
“We made a noisy entrance. Someone should be here to great us.”
“Don’t jinx it.” Ina followed her.
“How’s she read, Sergeant?” JJ called Miguel forward.
The team tinker and engineer, he pulled out his scanning equipment as ordered. “We’re all accounted for, so far. No additional signals or pathogens.”
“The Nukes wouldn’t need any pathogens here.” Ina put forth. “Throw a rock and crack our face shields why don’t you?”
“I didn’t come all this way to suffocate,” Kimmie grumbled and turned on her helmet’s lights. Indeed the entire environment was deadly. Dark, no atmosphere, and tough terrain as far as the dim combat headlights could show. They marched on from the landing area, but JJ inched ahead of her crew. She stopped, and the column halted behind her. She motioned, and the team turned to the left with her. Westmayer was a capable commander in league with the other Mother Ship Captains. Their fleet was small, but while the big wigs sat back in comfort, it was she who led her shipmates into battle. It was how she got as far as she did. She fought, and fought well. What else was there to do? JJ looked at the digital maps lighting up her handheld gear.
“The facility is this way.” She climbed over a pile of natural rubble, and the Combatants followed. They marched over the tough terrain as she continuously eyed her handheld diagram. Stones slid under their feet, and her stride lowered. “It feels like we’re descending.”
“Let me risk a little more power.” Miguel brightened the lights on his helmet and surveyed the area. “It looks like a crater rim there. We must be near the middle of the hole now.”
“I’ve see one too many crater holes.” JJ pocketed her device. “This intel is wrong.”
“Asteroids are constantly changing,” Kimmie contested.
“Good for asteroids.” She looked towards the microphone inside her helmet. “Johnson to Westmayer, do you copy?”
“I’ve got something!” Miguel raised his arm and the column trudged idle again. “Look, heat signatures: 98.6.”
“Us?” JJ turned to him.
“Are we moving?”
“Fuck!” She exclaimed. “Ambush!”
Lights beamed from the crater rim and pulse weapons blazed around the trapped Combatants. She knew it! It hadn’t felt right. She knew it was absurd, and now it was too late.
“Take cover!”
High tech colored lasers blasted all around. The unit fell to the ground one by one-some as ordered, others victims of the Nuke’s carefully laid plains. JJ flattened herself on the ground, but in the colorful firelight, she saw Miguel collapse next to her.
“Sergeant!” She called to him. “Miguel!”
JJ crawled through the crowded crater basin, careful of enemy fire and the jagged rocks. Such a perfect set up! The sharp ground ripped the outer layer of her sturdy-but not full proof-spacesuit.
She increased the speed of her spider-like crawl. She fumbled past her still comrades, unsure of the direction she was going.
“Johnson to Westmayer, come in!”
There was no time to look at her data-not that it was accurate enough to help anyway. JJ scrambled to get clear. Once out of the shootout, she could fix her suit and get back to the drop ships.
“Any drop ship, please respond.”
Were the drop ships ambushed as well? Did they prep for rescue, as was procedure?
“Shit.” She approached the edge of the crater but looked back at the Nukes. They closed into the crater and finished off any twitching Combatants.
“Any Combatant, respond.” Had she alone the wits to delay the inevitable? JJ rolled across the crusted crater’s edge. The gravel crumbled beneath her, and she rolled down the sharp terrain. She groaned and screamed at the rocks sticking her and tearing her suit. Sharp pebbles reached her skin and scrapped her elbows. Blood and dirt marred the rustling fabric.
“Oh! Ow! Fuck!”
Jagged jabs and hard rocks punctured through the space gear one fizz and pop after another. JJ gasped and slowed her tortured descent. She rolled once more and smashed her face shield against a rock.
She grasped for air and felt her body tighten with the lack of oxygen. She must move, but it was so difficult. Did she move or merely think her labored limbs worked as she wanted? Her vision blurred, but the temporary metal structure of the Nuke’s weapons facility was before her. Some mirage! The determined Lieutenant ran, crawled, stumbled, and fought the elements to reach the enemy shelter. Really she should be dead. Did the Nukes alter the atmosphere or release one of their precious pathogens? She banged on the door and slammed the locking panel. The controls broke, and the door slipped open with a whoosh of air. She collapsed inside and fumbled for an internal key to close the door. It was to JJ, almost as if the door took its time.
She pulled off her broken helmet and shook bits of glass, plastic, and rock from her hair. The red head was crusted with blood, and dirty cuts littered her forehead.
“Shit.” She peeled off the irreplaceable but ruined spacesuit. What good was the crappy thing to her now? Her regular uniform was also ripped and bloody, and her gun was lost. All her equipment was gone. JJ sighed.
“How am I going to get back to the drop ships?”
She picked up her helmet and whispered into the transmitter. Once again, she pleaded with her silent friends-nay family. Her real family was buried on earth. Her team was all she had.
“Captain, do you copy? Lieutenant Johnson to Captain Westmayer, please respond.”
She bit her urge to curse and flung the helmet away.
“I’ll just have to do things myself.” She tiptoed down the enemy’s dim and plain hallway. Most likely her team was slaughtered. Perhaps the drop ships were destroyed. Maybe even the Mother Ship was under attack and losing against the newer Nuke ships. If that was the case, JJ could at least finish her mission. Hell, what else was there to do?
The facility had looked small on the outside. Temporary, as most of the Nuke testing labs were. Surely there was a command area. She had fought similar battles before; dark turns, corridors, but no doors today. Was all the Nuke magic underground? She looked at the patterns under her boots. Seamless! All these hallways looked the same!
She found a corner and slid to the floor. She would swear she went in a complete circle, but she had yet to encounter her discarded spacesuit again. She felt weak and examined her cut arm. She must have lost some blood, but the cuts were crusted with dirt and dried blood now. If only she could scan herself for infection!
The whoosh of the asteroid’s vacuum echoed again, and JJ heard the door seal shut. She closed her eyes, then stood and braced herself. If the mission was indeed a trap, then the tin can she was in was probably in fact, empty. At least she could take this Nuke before he took her. Combatants had a reputation for their fierce hand-to-hand skill, and she was the best. She would let this Nuke know it. Clothes rustled, and the sound of a slow, long zipper echoed through the building. She heard her own spent suit tossed aside again and her helmet echoed away. The cracked headpiece skidded down the tin corridor passed her.
“Hello?” A cheeky man’s voice called. He no doubt enjoyed the situation, stupid Nuke. “I know we have a visitor. Who could it be?”
Footsteps came closer. Not too obvious to some, but JJ had a trained ear. The man must be tall, not heavy, but built weight lay behind his steps.
“Come and play with me, please?”
JJ leaped around the corned. Her boot was high and her sharp kick struck the Nuke in the nose. He sprawled on the floor and covered his face as she kicked his gun away.
“Well, since you insist.” She smiled, determined to enjoy this last bout; but her enemy kicked away her ankles.
“Normally, I’d find this very cute.” He wrestled with her on the floor, but she was by no means easy to pin. “But I just want to get off this rock ASAP.”
“I feel the same way.” She elbowed him. She didn’t wish to converse, just insult. “About leaving I mean.”
“Feisty!” He twisted her arm as she struggled against him. When was the last time she was this close to a man? Oh yes, she had roughed him up, too! The Nuke fluttered in her ear again. “Whoa. Easy, there Little Tiger.”
“I’m a dog person.”
JJ kicked her contester away, then stood and faced him. He was on his feet, ready as well. She punched and kicked in her personal combinations, but the Nuke was no slouch, actually. He blocked her blows, caught her foot, and threw her to the hard floor. The floor hurt. She recalled her outdoor ordeal, and briefly entertained the notion that she was not in fighting condition. The Nuke stood above her, his buzzed head and muscular physique ready for anything. He fought well, for a Nuke. My, JJ must be unwell if she could admit that to herself.
“As much as I don’t like to hit a woman, I hate the sight of my own blood more.” He wiped the blood from his nose, and JJ came towards him again. She would go on, just to shut him up. Unfortunately, he stuck to his words, and the taunting Nuke blocked most of her crosses and jabs. “Now I’m having fun!”
“Are you really?” Ha! She landed a perfect cut to the chin, and her fighting partner fell to the floor. She slid for his gun, but he was on her. He was heavy, yet his style held a slightly mocking tone. Why must her toy with her so? She clenched the laser in her hand, rolled onto her back, and pointed the Nuke gun. The man straddled her and pinned her to the ground, but he kept his distance from his own gun. He perched below her hips and weighed her down, yet he put up his hands in surrender.
“Still having fun?” JJ winked.
He was upside down from her perspective, but it was Captain Westmayer all right. He looked down at her, trying to look menacing again.
“Lower the weapon, Jess,” He ordered. “Lieutenant Rubelli will not hurt you.”
The Nuke stood, smiled, and extended his hand.
“That would be me.” He winked.
JJ stood, but kept the gun poised. She looked between the Nuke and her Commanding Officer.
“Captain, I think I’m entitled to an explanation, Sir.”
“You are, Lieutenant, you and the rest of the unit.” He took the gun from her and squeezed her shoulder. “Stun guns Jess. We’ll meet tomorrow, 0800. I’ll fill you in on the details then. Suffice to say, the Nukes are now our friends.”

Stay tuned for more!


No comments:

Webrings and Beyond...

Powered by WebRing.