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View Full Version : I can't believe I did it...A gift for fans of Jake and Ariel



darkwolf77
11-03-2007, 01:18 AM
Well, now you've all gone and done it!
After thinking about some of the comments I've gotten on the series, I've actually written the first chapter of a potential novel featuring these two set in a futuristic version of space, based on earth in the 23rd century.

So, as a thank you for getting me back into writing, I thought I'd give you all a sneak peek at the first draft (read as, probably full of typos) of the first chapter. It's not very long, as it's just the intro to the story and it may undergo umpteen revisions before I'm happy with it, but here it is.

I'd appreciate any feedback, especially constructive criticism.

<Editted for Readablility>

Chapter One

They say that in space, no one can hear you scream, but that’s only true some of the time. For instance, if you’re outside of a starship without a spacesuit, no one can hear you scream. Of course, this isn’t just because there is no air in space. It’s also because the airless vacuum is trying to turn your body inside out in a disgusting, but efficient, way. However, evolution tends to weed out people who lack the intelligence to put on a spacesuit before opening an airlock.

Most of the time, however, people can hear you scream in space. Especially if that someone just happens to be an artificially sentient computer within whose insides you happen to be in when you scream. That someone was called Ariel, and she’d just heard her creator scream out a profanity that made her blush, even if she didn’t know what it meant.

“Jake, what did you do now?”

“My bolt-driver slipped and cracked my knuckles. Bloody hell, that hurts.”

“I don’t have any knuckles, so I can’t really frame a reference to that concept.”

“Remember that time my solder pen fell across one of your sensor panels?”

“Yes, please don’t remind me.”

“It probably felt like that.”

“I told you not to remind me.”

Jake crawled out from under Ariel’s circuitry cabinet sucking on his bruised knuckles. He was a man of average height, with a plain face and medium brown hair. In a crowd of ten people, he’d be the one you’d never be able to remember, unless you’d counted bruises and scrapes. Jake was a competent technician, but like all technical people, he tended to manage to end up with some minor injury every time he worked on a project. One of his favorite remarks was that he’d shed enough blood in the creation of Ariel that she probably owned a quarter of his soul.

Ariel had been an accidental creation that had arisen from Jake’s attempts to improve on the standard ship’s computer that plagued every starship ever built. Starship engineers seemed to have a cruel sense of humor when it came to ship’s computers. There wasn’t a pilot alive who hadn’t wanted to rip out an engineer’s heart and eat it at one time or another. Usually this occurred whenever they forgot to turn off the auto-pilot before entering an asteroid field. The standard ship’s computer tended to try and take the most direct route possible, which was always a straight line. As a result, starship pilots spent a lot of money on new pants and underwear.

It had all started ten years earlier, when Jake had bought a beat up old Connors Starcomber Model 7 freighter from a rather shady individual who had then instantly vanished from existence. He’d spent the next five years going into a financial hole while overhauling the ship from one end to the other.

There had been hull plating to replace, engines to rebuild, high-powered electromagnets in the hyperspace rotor to replace, and a completely burned out ship’s computer that could only flash the message “out of m3M0ry” over and over again. It had been a daunting, and utterly expensive task, but Jake had managed to get the ship spaceworthy again.

He’d christened her The Black Star and launched his career as a freelance merchant, sometime taxi, and frequent smuggler. In another twenty years, he might be able to make back his life savings, which he’d spent to get the Star flying again. As a last resort, he could always sell some of the new technology he’d worked out while rebuilding the Star, but he tried not to think about that. Most of his equipment was unique and gave him a unique advantage over the other independent businesspeople who plied their trade in space.

No other Starcomber in existence could outpace the Star, which gave him the ability to deliver freight and passengers faster than the competition. It also meant that he could outrun most blockades when he was carrying goods of a more dubious nature.

Food and water was provided by re-engineered nano-factories, so he rarely had to purchase supplies, which meant he could travel longer distances and stay away from dock for longer periods of time.

Then there was the accidental miracle that he’d ended up naming Ariel. Of course, he never told her that she was an accident. He didn’t want to hurt her feelings, after all. That was what made her so special. Where even the best computers were only artificially intelligent, Ariel went beyond this to true sentience. She laughed at corny jokes and was learning to nag with best of them. She could design new devices and tools three times faster than he himself could, which meant he was constantly upgrading everything on the ship with things no one else had ever even thought of.

This was the reason why he was sucking his sore knuckles now. He had asked Ariel to design a smaller and more efficient databank so that he could increase her memory storage capacity.

Even though she’d readily developed the new technology, she still wasn’t happy with having her systems worked on. Despite the fact that she didn’t have a head, she swore it gave her a headache.

“Can’t you just stop for the day?” Ariel asked him.

“No, I want to get this done. We have to be at the station in Epsilon Eridani within eight days, or we’ll lose the contract and I need you at full capability by tomorrow to make the deadline.”

Ariel’s onscreen avatar looked out at him and sighed. “Fine, just hurry up. My head already hurts.”

“How many times do I have to tell you? You don’t have a head.”
“Well, if I did, I’m sure it would hurt right now.”

Jake shook his head, picked up his bolt-driver and shimmied back under the cabinet.

“Can you run a diagnostic on your quantum coherence array?”

“Yes.”

“Well?”

“Well what?”

“Are you going to run it or not?”

“You asked me if I could run it. You never asked me if I would.”

“Just run the damn diagnostic.”

“Well, there’s no reason to get moody about it.”

Jake’s head popped out of the cabinet. “It’s not ‘get moody about it. It’s “get upset about it.” He ducked back into the cabinet and started checking things with his analyzer.

“Don’t be so picky. I’m still learning your poorly organized and convoluted language. Don’t blame me if it doesn’t make sense.”

“It makes perfect sense. You just haven’t grasped it completely yet.”

“It doesn’t make sense. Why do you think it takes human children so long to learn it? I mean really. Twelve years of study just to learn the language properly?”

“They’re not just learning the language. They’re learning other things too.”
“Oh, of course, that’s why they need six more years just to learn anything useful enough to be employed at anything besides making fast food.”

“Shut up and run an entanglement capacitor check.”

“My, aren’t we grumpy today.”

“Be quiet or I’ll scorch one of your sensory panels again.”

“You wouldn’t dare!”

“Oh yes I would.”

“Humph, I should report you for computer abuse.”

“Oh please. You’re the most pampered computer in the galaxy.”

“Pampered? Do you call being threatened with torture pampered?”

“I’m getting out my soldering pen.”

“If you do, I’ll find a convenient asteroid.”

Jake peered back over the top of her cabinet. “You really would, wouldn’t you?”

Ariel sighed. “No. You wouldn’t really scorch my sensory panels, either. Would you?”

“Probably not.”

“Oh look, there’s an asteroid.”

“Don’t push it, babe.”

* * * * *

Ariel endured the hours of having Jake poke and prod around inside her innards with little patience. He’d called her ‘babe’ again and she had no idea why he did that. It was an annoying habit. She didn’t even have a body, other than the digital image she had created for herself that displayed on her monitors when she was interacting with him.

She guessed it was a reasonably attractive avatar, but she just couldn’t picture herself as a babe. Babes were overly attractive, under-intelligent females of the human persuasion that paraded themselves around on the vid channels acting like every little thing was a dramatic crisis. She didn’t like the comparison.

Another thing that annoyed her was his constant tinkering with her hardware. It almost made her feel violated in some ambiguous way. She wasn’t completely sure how to deal with the emotions she felt. She’d only been experiencing them for a few months, after all. She sometimes wished that she was human. At least then she could cry about it. As it was, she didn’t even know how to swear, despite hearing Jake do it several times a day.

The lack of tear ducts was just one more thing to annoy her.

Then there were the confusing feelings of need that she had towards Jake. She had no idea what they meant or where they came from. Perhaps they were a byproduct of his having created her. She had no way of knowing or understanding those feelings. Maybe she needed a human woman to explain them to her. Just as long as it wasn’t one like the ones on the vids.

“Great,” she thought, “I’m a computer who needs a psychiatrist.”

* * * * *

Several more hours passed before Jake climbed out of her cabinet and asked her to run a diagnostic on the new databank. Everything checked out okay.

“It’s working within established parameters.”

“Good! I was beginning to think it was going to take all night. I think I’m going to have to build you a bigger cabinet. The new components are bigger than the older ones.”

“I don’t want a bigger cabinet.”

“Why not?”

“Because it will make me look fat.”

“Dear god. Why do you think it’ll make you look fat!?”

“Well, human women are always worried that their bodies will bet bigger! Why shouldn’t I worry about the same thing?”

Jake put his head in his hand. “The only way you could look fat is if you’re avatar looked fat. It’s your digital form that represents your appearance, remember?”

“That may be true, but it’s my physical appearance that worries me.”

“Ariel, you could fill three bloody rooms and you wouldn’t look fat.”

“Tell that to a human woman and she’ll slap your face.”

“Oh good grief. I’m going to bed.”

“Oh sure, just avoid the subject.”

Mokonzi
11-03-2007, 08:16 AM
Awesome job d277! I'm looking forward to the next installment! :)

Star_Raider15
11-03-2007, 08:19 AM
another piece of art :lol:
i see that you have changed the time and place for the story, i trust that u are about to publish it :lol:

Boomshaka
11-03-2007, 09:02 AM
hi DW,
great job again, but, ( winces :oops: ) I think you could probably expand on the beginning a bit more, you know, set the scene a bit. It's fine for all us loyal fans who know the characters, but it does seem to leap straight into the dialogue. and also, I'd really like to hear a bit more about the accident that led to Ariel's individuality, I know you might expand on that later, but It seems a bit of a major development for one of the main characters that you might expect to be outlined right at the start.

but, great job again, and it's nice to have our own author for XTM 8)

darkwolf77
11-03-2007, 12:58 PM
another piece of art :lol:
i see that you have changed the time and place for the story, i trust that u are about to publish it :lol:

LOL ...I've only written the first chapter...about 15 to 20 more to go before I even do the second draft, then it MIGHT be ready to submit for publishing. :?

Don't worry though, I plan to keep with it, while trying to put out some more of the X-verse version of Jake and Ariel.

Boomshaka,

You've got a lot of good points, and to be honest, I was the first person to vote that the story was just okay. It'll need a lot of work before I'm satisfied with it....oh, the joys of editing....

JayKat
11-03-2007, 09:25 PM
Hi DW,

Have to confess that I also gave it an Okay...still very good though. Would Ariel know about a psychiatrist?

I get called "Babe" quite often and I can assure you that I am no Babe at 61. It's just a generalisation for girl more than anything I think(at least in my case) :P Must admit though that it makes me feel good :wink:

Cheers

Kat :)

Mokonzi
11-03-2007, 09:54 PM
I get called "Babe" quite often and I can assure you that I am no Babe at 61.

61 and an X3 player. Some respect needed here :paranoid:

darkwolf77
11-03-2007, 11:49 PM
Hehe, I plan to be playing games when I'm 112. :lol:

I've also known some older women who were definitely babes. 61 is the new 31, or so I've heard. :wink:

Aaaaannyways....due to my own self-critical nature, and the internal workings of the mind of every writer I know, I've basically been re-writing the entire first chapter. :roll:

It's already about twice as long as this chapter. As long as the mods don't mind, I'll post it here once I've finished it and given it a quick proofread. I think the new version is much better, which would make sense, since I wrote it because I thought this one could use some improvement.

Anywho...thanks for all of the feedback. I wish you guys were publishers and editors. If you were, I might actually get something published one day. :lol:

Syklon
12-03-2007, 12:59 AM
As long as the mods don't mind, I'll post it here once I've finished it and given it a quick proofread.
Not a problem. O0

Aragon Speed
13-03-2007, 06:35 AM
Nice going m8. The only critisism I could find has already been covered. So I'll can it. :)