Yup, I am still working on Escape as of today. I have gotten the heroine out of the clutches of the pirates but we aren’t home free yet.  In fact…no wait I can’t tell you what is next…mostly because it is still working its way through my cerebellum. This story is one of the slower for writing that I have so far, mostly because I am not used to space battles.  Yes that is what is holding me up right now.

The novel is now almost 50K, which is a good thing right?  Here is an excerpt from the latest chapter i am working on.  Having fun with Babe, the AI computer that is Quirin’s ship. She at times acts like a teenager as you will see:

 

There are rumors of an elder alien race that has given advanced technology to the elite Hunters of the League. The scout ships that are used by the League have some advanced weaponry, but the rare Hunter ships are said to be a treasure trove of this alien science. The AIs that are the heart of these ships could be considered the very best of Human technology, but there are those who want to know more. No Hunter ship has ever been examined by outside agencies. When they are damaged, they are taken directly to special bases run by the Hunters themselves. There have been attempts by various illegal groups to capture and study one of these sentient ships. None have resulted in new knowledge. When the Hunter part of the Hunter/AI teams is killed, the ships self-destruct or dive into the nearest sun. The explosions are so intense that there is little more than dust left, floating through space.

An article in Human Scientific by Professor Lucian Drago

 

Babe floated through the dark of space, just outside of the range of the sensors on the pirate base. A sleek black ship filled with technology that made her unique, she scanned both the star lanes for incoming traffic and the various communication channels. Bored, as she often was when her partner was off ship, she listened to Adam as he performed, kept an eye on both Quirin and Harold and ran the thousands of small calculations that every space going vessel needed.

The one thing that the self sentient machine wished for was a body that would allow her to interact with the world more closely, but the Lords of Space and Time did not, in their great wisdom, believe that AIs should be contained in the fragile shells of mobile forms, so they were not.

Babe watched her partner as he moved through the air ducts of the pirate base, at the same time keeping up light banter with her friend, Harold. “You understand, don’t you, my friend?”

“Not really, sweet heart, but you are the expert in this, not me.” Harold’s voice was amused. “I really can’t hear those tones you keep raving about. Yeah, the kid is good, probably one of the best, but well, it is just music to me.”

If Babe had eyes, they would be rolling and Harold knew it. Over the years of his friendship with Quirin, he had come to know the spirit of the AI inhabiting the ship. Babe was one of the most intelligent of her kind, but she acted at times like a teenager. At the moment it was like she had a crush on Adam, which he knew would amuse the boy. In the long decades of their friendship, Harold had seen her go into raptures over a number of singers.

Like the human women they were supposed to be patterned after, AI ships developed quirks and interests outside of their duties. While age had crept up on him, he did not see its marks on either Babe’s gleaming hull or Quirin’s face. Something about the joining of ship to Hunter had changed his friend. Now, nearly sixty years later, Harold thought of the ship as a daughter, instead of the interloper who had changed his best friend. Teasing her was like teasing his nieces and he did not get to do it enough.

“I know you are limited by your human auditory nerve, but if you would just go in for that upgrade I told you about, you would see that I am right. There is something very different about how Adam controls the auditory fusion of the notes. Like now,” she piped the song Adam was singing through to the speakers of the skip. “He is using that empathic broadcast ability he has to make the guards relax and there is a flutter just on the outer edge of the human auditory range.”

“Sweet heart, I told you, that upgrade is not something that a human can afford. Never mind that a man my age should stay out of operating rooms.”

“Aw, Harold bear, you are not old! Quirin is months older than you are and he had the upgrade!” Babe sounded truly annoyed that he had referred to his age. The ship did not like to admit to herself that any human who was not paired with a Hunter ship would age and die long before she thought they should. At eighty years old, he was on the downward side of life. While the normal type humans could expect a lifespan exceeding one hundred and fifty years now, those of Heavy-world decent had barely past the century mark. The Hunters, on the other hand, could live on well past the common. In fact there was no known case of them dying of old age. Hunters died in the saddle, to quote an old saying.

“Shhh, my shiny sweet…” Harold started to calm her when she interrupted.

“Oh, now that is interesting. There is a Shade on the pirate base.” She was silent for a moment and then sighed. “Darn. I would have loved a sample.”

“A Shade?” Harold shuddered. He had heard things about those creatures. That one was on the Dragon’s Rest was not a good thing. “So?”

“Quirin took it out neatly.” He could hear the pride in her voice. “Would you like to see him in action, Harold bear? I can pipe the recording of the fight to your station on the skip.” Harold was not sure, but there seemed to be a minor lag to her voice, as if she was talking to him and the hunter at the same time.

“Naw, that is okay, little dear. Just let me know how the rescue is going.” Harold tensed up as he waited. He had three he had come to care for inside that hive of scum and villainy and felt useless sitting on the skip waiting for them to arrive. Being the get away driver was not something he had ever thought he would be back in his days at the academy.

“Well, Quirin has taken out the guards. Hey! He needs to damage that Delacruz. He just hit the Dancer with his blaster…oh it looks like she is okay, but she is going to need some stitches on that I think.” Babe kept up a running dialog for a few more minutes and then she let out a very unladylike string of curses. “Damn those animals. What in all that is holy are they doing warping into this part of space today! Harold, I thought you said those Masters would be coming in tomorrow?”

“What! Report!”

“Vector six two niner. Three ships, two corvettes guarding what looks like a Masters yacht, though why they call those things yachts I have no idea. I mean, come on, they are crammed full of armaments and have engines that rival the League scout ships.”

“BABE!”

“Oh, sorry.” She did not really sound sorry as she powered up her engines and maneuvered out of the asteroid she had been hiding in. “Harold, looks like we will be having a bunch of guests soon. It looks like it will be a tight squeeze. You are going to have five more guests than we expected. I will get rooms ready but you need to have the skip open and powered up. Looks like it will be a close one.”

Harold cursed fluidly in three languages as he powered up the skip. A small shuttle like ship that normally only held four would be pushed to the limit with nine, but if the Hunter was bringing others then he was sure they were necessary. He tapped the com and listened for his friend’s voice.

***

Having yet another character I can play with is at times both daunting and fun. This character has no body, so to speak, yet has a soul, more of one than the villains have. What she will evolve into who knows but she will be around in more than just this novel. I have her in at least one other book, more likely three or four, but that all depends on if people actually read my work. So folks if you want more of my work, try picking up, reading and reviewing what I have up all ready.

 

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