Somehow, I managed to avoid venting my spleen until after we were out of Kemp’s earshot. Or until I thought we probably were. Or could argue to Tanner that I thought we were when it turned out he heard us—or rather, me—after all, and it came back to bite us. Not that he didn’t deserve every word I said, of course, but working with a butthurt and testy ranger would just be working for trouble.
So, I waited until we were out of earshot. Probably. And then I let loose with nine hours worth of frustration and righteous annoyance.
“…and he’s probably just working as a ranger so he can get filthy rich,” I finished. It didn’t sound right even as the words left my mouth, but I didn’t particularly care.
Tanner raised one eyebrow. “I’ll ask Paul next time we see him how that’s going for him.”
I glared at him. He would derail a perfectly good rant with a quick dose of logic.
“Miranda, get back in bed or I’ll break your other leg.”
That was my brother’s version of compassion for the wounded. But, as I was only ninety-nine percent sure that he wasn’t serious, I muttered something derogatory about his bedside manner and limped and crutched my way back to my sickbed and dropped back onto it. I also let my crutches clatter to the floor in a noisy protest. It was an exercise in cutting off my nose to spite my face, of course, since I was going to be the one to have to pick them up next time I wanted to get around the room, but for now, I allowed myself to take some pleasure in annoying my brother.
“I’m not useless, you know,” I said. “I can still help.”
Tanner didn’t turn around as he answered me. “Sure. Right until the pain meds kick in. We went through this yesterday.”
And the day before, and the day before that. Though, granted, yesterday had been the worst.
“Fine,” I grumbled. “But don’t come complaining when you can’t find any leads.”
It’s so nice to feel like the bones of a story are decently solid. Most of what I’ve been doing so far this month is “editing”/fleshing out some sections that I’d already done some scribblings on, and the result has been very encouraging, if still moving slower than I’d like it to be, ideally. I’m proud of a couple turns of phrase in particular, actually, so by way of showing off, I’m including a quick excerpt below. Those of you who have been following me for a while might recognize this as very similar to the beginning of The Verdant Wildlife, which is because I’m in the process of completely reworking it so that it can take its place as the first story in the upcoming novel.
Anyway, without further ado, here is the promised snippet.
Our client had arranged to meet up with us at a small mining outpost near the drone’s last known coordinates and had offered to transport us out there on one of her company’s atmo-sprinters. It was a welcome gesture that cut our travel time down to a fraction of what it would have been otherwise. I spent the half-hour ride alternately teasing my brother and staring out the window as semi-developed plains gave way to wild cliffs and canyons.
Even before the sprinter’s pilot started edging the craft down between a couple of jagged cliffs, there was little doubt in my mind that our destination was less a spur of civilization than a small collection of humans trying to do without it. In Coville, I’d gotten the impression that the occasional showdown at high noon was a distinct possibility. Looking down at the approaching outpost, I would have been more surprised to find that such confrontations didn’t happen there with some regularity.
I leaned towards my brother. “I thought you said we weren’t going to get shot at. This looks like the sort of place that gets us shot at.”
“What, the mining camp?” He looked out his own window. “Good thing we won’t be spending much time there.”
I scowled. Now that our hike was more imminent, I found myself less excited about the prospect of tramping around the wilds of a new planet than I had been the day before. And given that I hadn’t been all that enthusiastic about it in the first place, that was saying something.
Tanner winked at me. “It’ll be fun. Like those trips we took growing up.”
I grunted, non-committal. “I hadn’t spent the last eight months crossing the galaxy when we hiked the Sierras.”
“We won’t be moving too fast. There’s a ton of nooks and crannies out here, and that drone could have crashed in any of them. You’ll be fine.” The look on his face was the same one he’d worn when he’d suckered me into exploring an old “haunted” warehouse with him. At night. About three weeks after I’d pranked him in front of all his buddies. But bringing that up wasn’t going to do me any good.
“Congratulations,” I said. “You just managed to make me feel better and worse at the same time.”
He winked. “I aim to please.”
Lucky for him and despite my complaining, I did still enjoy a good hike, if not under these exact circumstances. Not that I’d be caught dead admitting that to him just now.
Miranda doesn’t like horses. I don’t remember when I decided that– or, perhaps more accurately, when I discovered that. But my snarky, feisty, pugnacious little freelancer really doesn’t care for the big animals. Which I find amusing. Mostly because I personally never outgrew the horse-nut phase that most(?) girls seem to go through.
So, here’s a snippet of our fearless narrator being not quite so fearless. Because I think it’s funny.
Knickers was a sturdy gelding, colored chestnut and with a bald face— which I found out when I referred to him as “the brown one”. The other, Jitterbug, was a rangy pinto who looked calm enough, except that I swear I saw her giving me and Tanner a sly look as if she knew that one of us would be riding her. I expected her to start trouble before Tanner could even mount up. She didn’t, and honestly, that was worse. It meant she was going to wait until it would cause the most problems, and then she would do it. And she would think it was funny. And she’d probably bring Knickers in on it as well.
Whatever it was.
It crossed my mind that I might be being paranoid, but that was ridiculous. I just remembered the horses on Auntie Heather’s ranch a little too well.
Whatever the big animals’ intentions for us down the road, though, they didn’t act on any devious compulsions just then. Knickers stood perfectly still as I climbed into the saddle. Jitterbug pawed the ground once or twice as Tanner settled in, but that was all. In less than five minutes, we were on our way.
Tanner and Miranda Stories — Total Draft Wordcount: 4655 Weekly Wordcount: 211
With any luck, I’ll have a draft of a new chapter/short story completed for the Tanner and Miranda Chronicles by the end of the weekend. It’s currently sitting at about two thousand words, and the rest of it is at least roughly outlined. In the meantime, enjoy a snippet from right before our heroes manage to get themselves into all sorts of trouble. As they tend to do.
They’d chosen a good place to stop us. There might not have been anything understated about the method they’d chosen, but that wasn’t to say it wasn’t effective. The barrier crossed the entirety of the road, and with a cliff wall on one side and a steep dropoff on the other, we didn’t have a lot of options.
We could try diplomacy, of course. That was Tanner’s first choice, even if I hoped he was just using it to slow down the inevitable escalation. I’d have been more worried if he’d pulled his hand away from his rifle.
“Is there something we can do to help you folks?”
“You could drop Miss Loesan there off with us. I think we might even be able to move this thing off the road for you before we get started on our conversation with her.” The leader gave an ugly sort of sneer. “Think you could work with that? Looks like you’ve got cargo you’re moving, and it would be a shame if it never made it to where it’s supposed to go.”
That line might have worked on a different freelancer. Probably would have, actually; we were outnumbered two to one, and they were the ones with better cover. But it was the sort of thing that just made Tanner mad. Our chances of getting out without a scuffle dwindled before my eyes, and I started calculating how many shots I could get off before we’d have to make a run for it. I didn’t care for the odds.
“I think we both know that’s not going to happen,” said Tanner. “You got a better suggestion?”
Now he was definitely stalling, and I had seconds to come up with a better plan.