I’ve ignored Teaser Tuesday for the last few weeks for a number of reasons, many of which are boring and not worth mentioning. One is not. I’ve been in Plot Mode: tinkering with some things, fine-tuning others. I took an old short story I wrote (a snippet of it was posted here) and started re-working it into a larger story. Anyway, here’s a little teaser from early in the new, larger WIP:
Molly Schuster checked the navigation panel as she increased power to the out-dated runabout’s single turbine engine. Even though the runabout hovered on a cushion of force created by its antigrav units, Molly felt the entire vehicle shake with the increased speed. She tightened her restraints, but didn’t ease back on the thrust. She knew the runabout—which was older than she was—would hold together, mainly because it’s her job to make sure every piece of equipment on this rock worked when it was supposed to.
It was not an easy feat.
Menkib IV was a tiny rock of a planet with a thin, arid atmosphere made even less inviting by frequent sandstorms. These storms, which would hit several times a day without warning, could deposit several kilograms of sand and grit in even the tiniest spaces, making Molly’s job as the camp mechanic a never-ending nightmare. In fact, she had spent the better part of the day cleaning sand out of the engine’s intake and compressor—it really didn’t take much sand and grime to clog up the innards of the old turbine—and the arid climate wreaked havoc on an antigrav’s magnetic field coils, requiring constant realignment. Of course, after flying through this maelstrom of swirling sand and dust, she’d probably have to spend the rest of the day doing it all over again.
It was unwise to go anywhere on Menkib IV without goggles and a breathing mask, but Molly did wish she had remembered to bring something to keep the dirt out of her hair. Pulling her long, strawberry blonde hair back into a ponytail helped, but a cap would have been much better. She’d also like to find out whoever thought bringing an open-topped runabout to a planet plagued by sandstorms was a good idea and beat them senseless with a wrench. Yes, that would probably improve her mood quite a bit.
Since visibility was practically non-existent, Molly had to rely on the runabout’s rudimentary sensors and navigation equipment as she guided it along the floor of the wide canyon that cut across most of the planet’s northern hemisphere. Between the steady, low thrum of the turbine and the high-pitched whistle of the wind as it whipped through the canyon, Molly almost missed the ping of the runabout’s proximity alert.
Glancing at the small display screen built into the runabout’s console, Molly saw the flashing red triangle that represented the transponder signal assigned to one of the exploratory teams. Menkib was a small operation, with only enough personnel and equipment for one working mine. But, the camp’s two geologists were constantly looking for the next big deposit of duranium ore. Ahead, the canyon forked and Molly nudged the runabout down the right-hand path. Despite her goggles, Molly still found herself squinting against the abrasive tempest as she came within visual range of the blinking indicator on top of the portable transponder’s antenna. She powered down the runabout as a large figure approached through the swirling sand, a single hand raised in greeting.
“Molly! You didn’t waste any time getting out here, did you, girl.” Even though he wore a heavy breathing mask, the man’s voice boomed when he spoke.
Grabbing her toolkit off of the passenger seat, Molly took the man’s offered hand and climbed down out of the cockpit. “No rest for the greasy,” she said, showing off the fresh lubricant and hydraulic fluid stains on her dark gray coveralls.