How We Write – Merry Spacemen
Orion has long had a fascination with Robin Hood and the Middle Ages. In fact, she got her bachelor’s degree in English, specializing in Medieval and Renaissance literature. (Ask her how that worked out!)
Later in life, she discovered the Society for Creative Anachronism, an international group that spends its weekends recreating the Middle Ages complete with period garb and armor, but with toilets and without the Black Death. Concurrently, she was attending science fiction conventions! Things got confusing at times.
Presented with the prompt ‘between worlds’, Orion combined her two loves, outer space and Robin Hood, for a romp of a story.
Kyros created the picture that accompanies this story by photographing a model of the Liberator sitting on a starfield displayed on his iPad. (The Liberator is from the British TV show, Blake’s 7, from the 70s about a small band of outlaws fighting against the repressive, galaxy-wide Federation. Very like Robin Hood himself. Look it up. Though it featured cheesy sets and special effects similar to the original Star Trek, its ideas and values are worth your time.)
When we began editing this story for the blog, we found it required extensive work. It was originally written in 2013 and we’ve learned a lot about dialog and exposition, and show, don’t tell since then.
We think the story is much better now. Let us know what you think in the comments below.
“This is Alliance Frigate Notttingham.” The speakers crackled for a moment. “Lincoln Green, shut down your engines. Surrender and prepare to be boarded!”
Thumbing the comm button, I countered, “We do apologize, but that’s not going to be possible. Our engineer says we can’t shut down right now.”
“Now listen here…,” the Alliance Captain started.
“Seems like something’s broke back there, and he needs the engines running to fix it.” I had to smile. Red Will could fix this ship, anytime, anywhere, but the frigate didn’t need to know that. “But you’re welcome to accompany us into yon asteroid belt.”
Their answer was a pair of energy beams shooting across our bow.
They missed. Barely.
“Hurry up, Marian,” I hissed, though I knew we were at maximum speed already. “If we don’t make that asteroid field, we’re going to add to the debris in there.” I glanced at the aft sensor screen. “The Notttingham’s closing on our trail. We have to get in there before they recharge their energy lances.”
“We’re in!” the pilot whooped, as we slid between two massive asteroids.
The ship lurched sideways under my feet.
“Keep it steady, for crying out loud!” I cried, grabbing the back of the Marian’s seat for balance.
She didn’t bother to reply. Her entire focus, as her hands danced across her terminal, was trying to keep us from plowing into an asteroid that would put a quick end to our getaway.
“What was that?”
“Just a wee rock hitting the Lincoln Green’s shields, Cap’n.” Much Miller barked out from the co-pilot’s seat. “Now leave her alone, Robin. She needs to concentrate and not have you blathering on at her. This’s an uncharted stretch ‘tween worlds. Barely a blip on anyone’s star chart.” He shook a finger at me. “We crash here, nobody’ll ever find us.”
“Well, at least we shed the Alliance ship,” I said with satisfaction. “They aren’t about to risk their oh-so-shiny plate armor in here.”
“You speak true, Cap’n,” Much chuckled. “And you’ve got me here backing Marian up, just in case she misses something.”
That got a rise out of her. “I never miss anything and you know it, you old goat.”
“Now, now, Marian,” I said, putting my hand on her shoulder. “My faith in you is the only reason I’d ever ask you to fly into the Sherwood Asteroid Belt.”
Much guffawed. “Well, that and the fact that an Alliance ship almost turned us into space dust!”
Smacking the back of his seat, I growled, “Shut up, you. I didn’t ask for your smart ass opinion.” I plopped down at the empty comm station. “Your picture was on that wanted poster we saw in our last port too. Prince John’s Alliance has a bounty on all of our heads. Sixteen counts.”
Much glanced over his shoulder. “And they don’t even know about the medical supplies we’ve got sitting in our hold that are being ‘rerouted’ to poverty-stricken Locksley in the Lionheart Cluster.”
“What’s happening up here?” A voice growled from behind us.
Turning, I saw John Little had joined us. The great bear of a man filled the doorway.
“How much longer is this going to take?” he asked, bracing himself as the ship lurched yet again. “I can’t wait to get home. Alan Dale is down in the mess hall making up songs about our adventures for the kids back in Shire Woods.” He rolled his eyes. “And he’s driving me crazy!”
“Everyone else okay down there?”
“Well, Red Will’s gonna have a shiner after he and a door handle had an unfortunate meeting.” He let out a low chuckle. “As long as Miss Marian’s at the helm, we’ll all be fine.”
“And Chaplain Tucker?”
“Last I saw, on his knees praying.” The big man turned to go. Over his shoulder he shot back, “And gnawing on a drumstick from last night’s supper.”
Much’s laughter abruptly cut off. “Sir, the Nottingham’s slowed to a stop. Outside the asteroid field.”
The speakers crackled to life one final time. “We’ll get you next time, Lincoln Green,” the voice from before snarled. “You can’t hide in there forever. When you come out, every ship of Prince John’s Alliance will be after you, or my name’s not Guy O’Gisbourne!”
“Looking forward to it, scoundrel!” I reached for the button to terminate the connection. “Robin Hood out.”