Saturday, November 25, 2006

NaNo--gems from Discovery manuscript

As promised, today I list a few gems from my NaNo project, Discovery.

(Set-up; Sr. Ann had a minor accident and her suit is damaged, but she didn't know it. She continues to rescue the miners stuck in the damaged station while Sr. Rita--also unaware of Ann's suit damage) attaches the miners in the emergency transport "bags" to the rover.)

Ten minutes later, Sr. Ann emerged with the last crewman in a bag. She attached herself to the cable, then disengaged the pulley from the door handle and let Rita pull them in. Then while Rita got the pulley gear stowed, she attached the last balloon to the rover.
"They're kind of pretty, aren't they? Silver balloons of life." Sr. Ann smiled dreamily.
"Sister?" Rita asked. "Are you all right? "
"Fine. Why?"
"What's your suit say?"
"Heads up," Rita heard her murmur, then: "Nominal. Nominal. Nominal,
nominal, nominal and all pretty shade of green."
Rita was not reassured. "You've had quite a time of it, sister. Why don't I drive?"
Hayden, too had been watching and listening. "Tell you what, Sister. I'll do the honors."
They headed back to the ship with Hayden at the wheel and another crewman beside him, two crew hanging onto the sides, and Rita and Ann in the back seats. Sr. Ann turned to look at the bags bobbing and sighed again. She murmured something Rita couldn’t catch against the other traffic on the line.
The miners were talking among themselves and didn't notice. Rita switched to a private channel. "Sister Ann?"
"Has anybody ever given you a balloon?"
"What? I suppose. They're rather common on Earth--"
"But you left Earth and balloons and… Disregard."
"Sister Ann?"
"I came as a wanderer/found You, Beloved, here/in a dead world poised/on the edge of eternity…" Sr. Ann paused, giggled, then said, "My beloved is to me a pouch of myrrh/Which lies all night between my breasts./My beloved is to me a cluster of henna blossoms/In the vineyards of Engedi."
"What? Sister what are you talking about?"
"Balloons and perfume and blossoms and--and rocks!" She suddenly pointed and as the gesture pulled her half out of the seat, Rita realized she hadn't strapped herself in properly. Rita reached out and grabbed her arm with one hand and started pulling her should strap tight with the other.
"But I want the pretty rock! Look how it's falling so gentle. My Beloved means it for me!" she pouted and started to struggle.
"Sister, suit status!"
"I want the rock!"
One of the miners, seeing her gesture, pushed off from the rover and letting her line out gently, snagged the rock then pulled himself back in. She handed it to Sr. Ann, who clapped with delight and clutched it to her breast. Rita hastened to strap her in as she again asked her partner for a suit check. Again, Sr. Ann reported everything green.
As Rita looked at the miner, she held up three fingers, and Rita switched channels.
"Sorry, Sister. We were all a little worried after the accident, so I've been listening. I thought the easiest thing was to just give her the stone."
"No, I thank you. We're almost to the ship. In another couple of minutes we can check her out ourselves and not rely on the suit."
Nonetheless, she switched to the common channel and told Hayden to accelerate to as fast as he felt safe, then contacted Sr. Thomas and told her to prep the EMT kit.
"I feel a little dizzy," Sr. Ann complained as the ship came into view. "And things are a little dark around the edges."
Sr. Rita breathed a quick prayer as she loosened Ann's straps enough to look at the gages on her chest display. Her suit insisted she was fine, but the O2 supply gage hadn't dropped below 75 percent. She called up her own supply: 65 (decide amount), and she'd exerted herself far less than Sr. Ann.
Please let the gages just be stuck... "Sister Ann, what does your skinsuit say?"
"What? Isn’t my rock pretty? Have you ever wanted someone to give you a pretty stone?"
"Annie, come on. Focus. What does your skinsuit say? What's the oxygen level in your blood? Give me the readings."
"The numbers are blurry... Um, it gave me a shot."
"Think so."
"Thank God. Hang on, Sister. We'll have you on the ship in a minute."
"Pretty rock from a barren land... I'm going to name you Peter."

(Set up: An evangelist on the research team has been bombarding a wicca on the team with religious tracts and she's fed up. She goes to paint a wicca symbol on his door (in ketchup) and they argue. Sister Rita stops them, tells them both to leave each other alone. Keli, the wicca agrees, but Merl follows Rita to argue some more.)

Merl, however, followed Rita, carrying on a one-sided diatribe and even entering the sisters' quarters uninvited
"I cannot believe you didn't side with me against a--"
Rita closed her eyes, said a silent prayer, then turned to her antagonizer. "Mr. Pritchard, can you lay hands upon that child and banish her demons?"
"No, but--"
"Neither can I. Do you think sending her religious tracts is going change her?"
"Well, I've made her angry--"
"As she has made you. Inciting anger is not evangelization, Merl."

(Set-Up: This is Suits 101 for the research team members who are not familiar with EVA activities. Sr. Rita is teaching the class. James is a former almost-love interest. (He left the Jesuits to be free to pursue her, even though she was still a nun, but before he returned from Rome, she had left her post and gone to space--to escape him. It's now 3 years later and things are a little tense between them.)

"...Let's start with the skinsuits."
"Do they have to be so tight?" one of the ladies complained.
Rita smiled sympathetically. "Unfortunately, yes. The material is a NaturaDyne nanoweave that reads and interacts with your skin to track your life signs. It contains its own power supply and is partly recharged by kinetic energy--but you don't need to worry about running laps; it doesn't use a lot of power. It can inject medicines and apply pressure to specific areas when necessary: for example, when in microgravity to help prevent your blood from pooling to your head. For that reason, it's important to make sure it isn't wrinkled. Please check that now."
Everyone did so, with varying degrees of shyness. James, Rita noticed, endeavored to check his suit while still keeping his hands modestly in front of him. It was kind of sweet. Still, something didn't look quite right. "James, move your hands."
He looked up as if caught at something. "What?"
Rita demonstrated by putting her hands over her head. "Raise your hands. James, where's your 'pod?"
"My What?!" his shriek, combined by the way he flushed, made Andy snort with mirth. Galen and some of the others started to follow, but Rita stopped them with a glare.
"Your medpod, James," she pointed to the small nonoweave-wrapped black box just in front of her hip, then addressed the class as a whole. "The Medpod contains various narcotics to regulate blood pressure and oxygen content, treat pain and handle other emergencies. It docks through the suit to your internal catheter to deliver... James, you do have an internal line?"
When he looked blank, she sighed. "Is there anyone else who does not have an internal line? You would have had a simple outpatient procedure...?"
Most people nodded; a few winced at the memory; but two--plus James--shook their heads.
"All right, then. After class, Galen will escort you to the ship's surgeon. She'll schedule the surgery and see you are excused from duties that day."
"Do we have to?" the same woman who'd complained that her suit was tight asked. "I mean, our space suits are supposed to protect us, right? If we get injured out there, it'll probably tear the suit and we're gonners anyway." She almost sounded as if she preferred that option to the thought ofa "simple outpatient procedure."
"Fortunately, no. These suits are not like those you see in the old holos. They don't tear easily. You can sustain broken bones and severe internal injuries--including concussion--without harming your suit. Having said that, the suit has been known to take other kinds of damage, which could affect its--your--life support system. Hence, the redundancy of the skinsuit. If sends you notices if it detects injury, illness, or other hazardous health conditions, and if you confirm the diagnosis or it determines you are incapable of responding rationally, it will automatically medicate you to keep you alive. You're welcome to ask Sister Ann about how the suit saved her life if you're skeptical."

That's enough for now. I actually have a lot of stuff I like in this mess of a manuscript, so I'll post more Tuesday.

NaNo Update: 49,000 words!
I've lost track of holes and such, but I'll give a final count on Tuesday--after I hit 50,000!

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