The following is chapter one from a book I wrote in 1984. It is part of a trilogy. The publishing houses refused it back then. After wall-papering my office with rejection slips (it was a small office) I packed it up, tucked it away and forgot about it. A recent decluttering brought it to light again and I’m thinking of producing it as an eBook. I have always considered fiction to be my weak suit. Please read this sample chapter and give me your opinion as to whether or not this book has potential to sell. This is a Sci-Fi book, if you hate Sci-Fi, you are excused, thank you for coming, I hope to see you next time. To the rest of you, if you saw this as a sample of the book, would you find it compelling enough to buy the book?
Thank you for your input, feel free to be honest, that is what I am asking for.
Revised per suggestions: 4/15
Tale of the Draggon
Book One: The Equarian War
By: Allan Douglas
Chapter 1: Planetfall
Garthaak throttles back to reduce speed as their ship feels the first tugs of atmosphere. This will be an unconventional, and dangerous, approach; dropping rapidly through the atmosphere to minimize the chance of detection, then hugging the surface as they make their way to an unauthorized port of entry. It must all be done as quickly as possible; in and out, fast and clean. He points the nose of their small ship directly at the planet and calculates the speed to keep the ship just to the safe side of incineration.
Koni scans her board, looking for signs of trouble. She and her three crewmates had made many runs in the modified little starship. Rough atmosphere, heavy loads and fate tended to fry circuits and ancient components. Koni stays busy keeping their ship operational anytime they enter an atmosphere. But she enjoys the challenge.
The sky changes from black to blue-green. Wispy white clouds rip past the forward window. The green smear of landscape resolves into a nubbly multi-hued fuzz. The surface below grows more distinct as they descend; a river meanders across the scene like brown yarn on a green rug and grows larger as the emerald sphere resolves into a lush tropical planet; fuzz turns to nubble, patches of color sharpening against the backdrop of jungle. A few small lakes become visible as the surface rushes dizzyingly up at them.
Just when it seems that the little craft would surely auger into the jungle landscape, Garthaak pulls the ship’s nose up, opening the throttles and pushing the suspensor generators to full power. Engines roar to life, thrumming through every fiber and bolt. The ship shudders violently as the stumpy suspensor wings claw at the air and shove against gravity. A multitude of items rattle and clank inside lockers. Massive branches reach upwards, ready to snare the vessel. The tiny freighter ends its headlong descent and wallows downward through its suspensor field, nose angled up, generators screaming as they fervently try to repel the fast rising ground. Garthaak gradually eases back on the suspensors and levels out. The craft shoots forward, riding on its suspensor field, just above the treetops.
Koni unclenches her fists, allowing the blood back into her fingers. All but Garthaak share a common sigh. He merely tosses a smug look over his shoulder at the others as he keeps the ship skimming along at a very high speed, the jungle a green blur as it passes close below them. The ship rolls side to side as Garthaak winds his way through the taller trees in order to stay glued to the jungle canopy.
“There.” Fothaak’s bony hand curls in on itself, leaving a single knobby brown digit pointing toward a smudge on the horizon, “That must be the mountain range.”
“Yes.” Garthaak agrees, “And we must not give ourselves away by going over it. There is a pass somewhere; the only way through.”
Fothaak compares the shape of the mountains rising before them to those represented on the chart, “There it is.” he states, waving vaguely at the window. Garthaak swings the ships nose over a bit. “No, the other way you fool! The pass is right there, I’m sure of it.”
“Fool?! I am your captain. You will address me as such!”
“Hah! When you’ve earned my respect you shall have it.”
“Boys, boys;” interjects Koni from her station behind Fothaak, “we have no time for sparring, let’s just get this done, shall we?”
Gornoth shot her a disappointed look from across the aisle. Being Calamarian her three shipmates love a spirited argument. Being the only non-Calamarian aboard sometimes forces her to be the voice of reason.
“You had better be right about that pass, Fothaak.” Growls Gornoth, seated on the lounge at the engineer’s station behind Garthaak, “Or we are going to disappoint our clients by burrowing their shipment into the side of a mountain!”
Suddenly a small aircraft bursts up through the foliage ahead of them and fires several rockets at the lighter. Their ship jolts as one of them strikes.
Buzzers sound, bells ring and a myriad of small lights begin flashing on the command cabin’s console panels. Koni’s dainty fingers fly over her keyboard, isolating the damaged circuits and routing power through usable ones. She barely notices as Fothaak and Gornoth back off of their lounges and bolt through the cockpit door to take up posts in the engine room.
Garthaak dodges the oncoming menace and shoves the throttles forward. He tests even Koni’s faith in his skill as he skims the tree tops at this extreme speed. She gasps as he swerves around the occasional taller tree, dodging missiles hurled at them by the aircraft. The G forces are no longer compensated for by their artificial gravity.
Her work done, Koni clings to the arms of her lounge as she watches the mountains rise higher above the jungle. She unconsciously clenches her teeth, hoping they can out run the fighter, hoping the pass will be where Fothaak said it is and unobstructed, hoping the fighter pilot was not calling more of his kind into the chase, hoping the ship would hold up under the strain, hoping…
The mountains loom above them now. Her view is obstructed by Fothaak’s lounge and Garthaak’s bulky form. Garthaak reduces speed and guides the lighter into the long, twisting mountain pass that appears suddenly before them. His faith in Fothaak’s abilities belie the impression he’d created earlier.
Their instruments show that the fighter was far behind but still in pursuit.
Watching the gyrating mountains through the front window as the lighter rolled through the turns makes Koni queasy. She turns her attention to the tactical scope in an attempt to pacify her stomach.
She sees that the nimble fighter is negotiating the pass much faster than they could and closing rapidly, though the pilot seems less skilled than Garthaak. Being a winged aircraft, it should have been able to make much crisper turns than it was. Again and again it sloughs through a turn without banking enough, coming dangerously close to the rocky walls of the pass.
“Ha haaa!” Shouts Garthaak as the lighter wallows through the final curve and accelerates into open air. The fighter comes into the bend right behind them, fires several missiles then disappears from the screen, crashing into a rocky outcropping at the mouth of the pass.
In the distance ahead Koni sees a sheer sided, bone white mountain standing like a lone green-helmeted sentinel over the entire valley. The ship stumbles as the fighter’s final salvo seeks them out and makes contact.
The thundering roar of major components exploding pushes Koni’s heart into her throat. She fights with panic as a screech like that of bad chalk on a blackboard fills the ship and it rolls sideways, smashing into the trees.
The last thing Koni sees is Garthaak slapping the suspensor field controls to maximum and fighting with the ship’s guidance system even as the ship’s nose slams into the Equarian soil
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