Obviously changing the start of the story is not a light decision.
As I developed ideas I realised I have to put the framework in from the start and changing ideas means I start again. I end up rewriting the beginning and maybe this becomes a whole book with everything I intended shunted forwards to subsequent books.
I’ll have to see how it goes.
Edited latest starts below and still only, yet, another beginning.
Chapter I – The Trials Of Magic
Destraight was considered excellent as a prison planetary name. An old unstable planet ideally suited to prisoners the Dwarven race had taken.
During the years, three Dwarf Armada Class ships – Andromeda with Admiral James Droga; Surreptitious with Admiral Martan Matira, and the Ancient with Admiral David Jamesson – and yes, there was sufficient head clearance for non-Dwarven races – approached and along with twenty thousand sleeping prisoners/politicians per ship there were Guards, Hounds and hunting Cats. All asleep and they would stay that way until placed on the planet. In reality they were all disposable, apart from Admirals Droga, Matira and Jamesson, and that was probably the Admiral’s thoughts and no-one else’s; who would turn their ships around and sleep until their return to Dwarvia.
Crew staff stayed awake but in five year shifts so they would only lose ten years of their lives. The Admirals lost, perhaps four weeks of their lives but they were selected for having no dependents – something that had attracted attention in its day but Dwarven clans closed up and nothing, apart from cries and bodies being found, attracted any attention afterwards.
The planet seemed ideal and that was the Admiral’s thoughts.
Landquakes, typhoons and tidal waves abounded but these all seemed to hit just one side of a planet that turned very slowly and the Admirals would be dead by the time it finally turned; the other side had a distant sun producing a temperate area but for unbeknown reasons the planet seemed to be held in some kind stasis that no-one understood, so the movement were slowed to the point of non-existence.
Its movement was both erratic and slow, mirroring their own thoughts as the Admiral’s pondered their careers and a homecoming to no-one but a pension and the Pension Authorities were already trying to delete the Space years asleep as counting towards their pension, leaving them with another twenty years service with no service available so Bureaucrats could cut their Pensions – they were all active and in the seventies but another twenty years service, if they could find the dwindling positions on SITCOPLEB, was nothing something that was crossing the Admiral’s minds, except in bright fiery words linked to hell and ‘planet away’ you Dwarf Bureaucrats.
The words across the sentinel wires had been and were caustic in the extreme as the Admirals discussed their futures and the messages that would take fifteen years to arrive in Dwarvia.
On Destraight the Admirals had authority; Guards; Cats, Hounds and controlled prisoners – the only problem was that something seemed to be wrong on the planet and they enlarged the scope of surveillance. The prisoners – looking at each other as if they had just found something – weren’t speaking to each other; they seemed to know what others were thinking without speaking. The Guards were panicking as the Cats and Hounds stopped taking voice commands and instead of being trained wild animals held by specially trained handlers were walking up to prisoners and Guards and lying down for their bellies to be tickled.
The Admirals were also looking at the space screens and something else they didn’t like. It led the Admirals to finally looking one another in the face, instead of the boots, gut or anywhere else they usually looked to avoid facing each other.
Their thoughts were now on a thought-train so high it could have sprouted wings and to be interrupted by a young aide – she was not even forty yet, was something that turned them bright orange, “Admirals, COMSATNEV is on video – signal is only fifteen years old, so it’s fairly new!”
James Droga, looked at the young ComSatNev liaison, “this better be good!”
“COMSATNEV has aborted the mission. This planet is on the boundaries of dimensional planetary interplay. There are several black holes and planets are not following guidelines. Trouble at home has started as the peace agreement prohibits dumping prisoners into deep space and this mission is to be aborted and all personnel put to sleep until fuel arrives. Fuel is being sent out and will arrive in forty years but everyone must be brought back and put into stasis again. The signal will wake everyone when the fuel arrives.”
Well, said Martan Matira, “it’s a little late, ComSatNev, with all the prisoners on the surface; the Cats and Hounds out of control and some kind of planetary structure affecting the prisoners and the Guards … perhaps you should go down and explain it all to them and I suggest you do it quickly – I don’t think. Look at the incoming rocks and we have used up all our power to arrive here so we have no shields left and looking at my fellow Admirals, we are urgently leaving this ship before it is hit, so tell that to COMSATNEV after we have made the planetary surface or on second thoughts, we need the power to land and you don’t as you will not be telling people the mission has been aborted,” ComSatNev became a bloody torso as three handguns left her lying on the spaceship floor and the Admirals descended to a life they intended to rule.
The decent side of the planet looked okay; the Guards were just failures, leftovers and of little value without guidance, and guidance from the Admirals would very quickly be there in substance.
They would be ruling; not returning home to a pension that wasn’t worth the Geld.
The self-build camps were a combination of silicone, concrete powder, air and water dropped into moulds – needing only power to generate the structures. The sun-shell power nodes were already reacting, the camps were rising although everyone else seemed to be rising as well.
The Guards were now releasing prisoners against all orders. It seemed more like a festival than a prison camp and the Admirals had the yet another inkling that as in any battle, all plans became yesterday’s future thoughts.
The Admirals finally managed to land and immediately were met by the aides who then sang out in unison, “You must vis-moot on the planet, Admiral. Nothing is legal without the three of you in vis-moot on the surface?”
James Droga looked at the other two Admirals, “We can take over whenever we want. Legally, if we vis-moot and tell them that we are appointed to rule. We decide and we rule.”
David Jamesson looked at his fellow Admirals, “Just a few seconds on the vis-moot and it’s legal, even if they send someone here in forty years. We own and control – legally – we never received the recall order and the ships won’t survive to prove us wrong. No-one is going back.”
They looked around as the building kept rising. For some reason it looked like the designers had played with castles as children. Walls were going up, towers, baileys were obviously designed into the building as were killing areas.
Martan Matira was sneering as he realised his fellow Admirals were smiling, “how long will our high-tech civilisation last. These tall people need to be controlled by the Guards, Hounds and Cats to keep them under control and for us to rule. Now we don’t have any control over anything or anyone! We need authority!”
“The vis-moot gives authority and the Guards will obey instructions or be buried head-first and with their feet sticking up. A few exhibitions should curtail disobedience!”
James Droga was a quiet dwarf, five foot four inches in bed and shorter out of it. Slate grey eyes and his hair was his own business. He’d dressed formally for landing but very seldom did he wear anything else but two pacifiers in his boots; one on his chest, worn for publicity and two knives in his sleeves – one reason why he didn’t like shaking hands and two knives in his boots to keep the pacifiers company – cobblers can be so difficult.
He’d listened and watched James Droga and Martan Matira and he’d already planned where he would be going with the geld he stolen.
Matira and Jamesson were going to find a few empty wallets – the gold lost in an accident in space like a Politician’s mouth, and he’d nearly lost his life as well but a swift kick to balance the ship when the air dock was open; the crew were balanced again, and something new was in space, although at speed and heading towards something they didn’t want to meet; it was good of Astura to sacrifice himself. Matira and Jamesson might have nothing but pensions to returned to but his family were already infiltrating the Guards with Geld and the knowledge that supporting him meant they ate and prospered.