« Scott Kurtz is a mighty God of snark. | Main | NOT Day Thirteen, but Trigger Man related anyway. »

Day Twelve... and I ROCK!!!!!

22,410 / 50,000

SIX THOUSAND WORD DAY! Six! Thousand! Fucking! Words! Plus three in-depth snarks! And a full day of work! There are days I feel inadequate. Days I feel like it's not there. And then there are days when I feel like I'm mainlining inspiration. Today, no matter what else I can say, I am a writer.

This also means I've gone from 2000 words (or about one day) behind schedule yesterday... to being 2,400 words -- or 1.5 days -- ahead of schedule today. The quota count is 22,410/20,000 on the day, which is a happier place for me to be. What's more, I'm now just 2,600 words or so from halfway. I'll hit halfway tomorrow, very likely, two days ahead of schedule.

I need to get the stuff up on the writing page. A lot has happened, including a full explanation of what Malcolm and the others are doing in the hinterlands. I also need to process about a million requests for access to the page. In my defense... it's been a very busy week.

Here's a 1,700 word excerpt, more to answer the question posed yesterday than to be representative of the output today. Remember, there's another 4,300 words that followed this.

I like where this story is going. I think I can sell it, after much editing.

God I love being a writer.

            Sortino poured more scotch into his glass. “Do you know why victory has always been inevitable, Alexander?” he asked, softly.

            Malcolm looked away. “If you expect me to say something about honor or never giving up or—”

            Sortino snorted, waving a hand dismissively. “I’m not talking about intangibles.”

            “Then... no.”

            “I’m not surprised.” Sortino sipped his scotch, stepping closer to the edge of the room. He looked up, through the dome, to the stars. “Two hundred and eighteen planets,” he said, gesturing. “Right out there. Almost all devoted to their war effort. A tremendous tactical advantage.” He looked over his shoulder, at Malcolm, “and a strategic limitation they can’t hope to overcome.”


            “The entire Concordian Empire is devoted to the war effort. Their resources are bent to the construction of ships, the training of troops, the development of new weapons. Their agricultural systems grow food to supply their military. Their engineers devote their time and energy to maximizing their systems, and analyzing ours. It makes them efficient killers.”

            Sortino walked to the other side of the room, gesturing again. “The Empire of Citadel, on the other hand... four thousand, one hundred and three member worlds. An infrastructure that supplies its military. Tithes giving a constant, but limited level of resources, spread out for hundreds of projects, hundreds of missions, hundreds of purposes. A singular lack of focus, in comparison to our enemies.” He smiled slightly. “And that leads to our victory.”


            “Because on most of the worlds of the Empire, no one pays any attention to the war. Life goes on. Our scientists and engineers don’t work to build weapons to fight a specific foe. They push the boundaries of science and knowledge, for profit or for curiosity. Life goes on, Captain Malcolm.”

            “I don’t follow.”

            “You said that there was only one way into Concordian space. The Thames-Aurora transition. Yes?”

            “Yes. So?”

            “That’s not true, though, is it? I mean, you can see a dozen Concordian stars from where you’re sitting. One of them is right up there.” Sortino walked closer, pointing. “It’s too faint to see easily, but that’s New Dublin. And just like we’re at the end of the Zabel Spur, they’re all the way at the end of the Cormier Spur in Concordia.”


            “So... there’s a transition point that leads there.”

            Malcolm blinked.

            Sortino smiled, waiting.

            “That can’t be. It’s too far away.”

            “Is it?”

            “It must be. How far is it. Let me check the with the base synthetic—”

            “Don’t bother. It’s about a hundred and three and a half light years away. Well, just shy of that.”

            Malcolm stared at Sortino. “A hundred and three light years?”

            “That’s right.”

            “It might as well be a hundred thousand light years then. That’d be... what, a fifth stage transition? Sixth?”


            “And that’s impossible.”

            Sortino smiled a bit. “Yes, and no. It’s impossible for the Concordians, because they don’t have the resources or time to spend working on the problem. Because like you said, it’s impossible. Everyone knows that. Since Bara Hotchkiss and Lyn Leopold unlocked the secrets of the galaxy, we’ve only been able to use up to third stage transitions. Anything more than that would take vastly more power than we can harness. Yes?”


            “And after thousands of years of expansion into the galaxy, it’s clear we never will be able to harness that much power. Not without destroying the ship in the process. Right?” Sortino was smiling again. It was a smug smile.

            Malcolm breathed out slowly. “You’ve worked out the power issue?”

            “Not directly. But that’s actually my point. On two worlds, over a thousand light years apart from each other, the two keys to the puzzle were solved. First, there’s the question of power. Have you heard of nullpoint technology?”

            “Nullpoint? I... yes. It’s some kind of storage battery or power cell or capacitor, right?”

            Sortino chuckled. “It’s a capacitor the same way a supernova is an example of fusion energy in action, Malcolm. Vast amounts of energy can be stored inside a nullpoint, and once it’s in there it’s essentially harmless. No chance it can explode. If you damage it, you just lock that potential energy off until you fix it. And you can make them as large as you need, and small enough for practical uses. One day, we’ll be able to mount a nullpoint to an energy rifle of some sort, and be able to use it for weeks without recharging. Or months. Or longer.”


            “Oh, we could do it now, but it costs far too much money to manufacture nullpoints, without even counting generating the energy. In fact, the Navy’s set up a nullpoint construction facility on the far side of the system’s star from us. It’s over there because it uses gravity induction to create antimatter, then uses antimatter reactions to generate the energy we store in the things. Some day, mass production will reduce the cost, but for now, we have better ways to use it.”

            “So... you can store enough power in a nullpoint to power a fifth stage transition? That’s absurd. I saw the figures once. You’re talking a star’s output, if you’re lucky.”

            “No, we can’t. Oh, I suppose if we made the nullpoints big enough and burned enough antimatter to charge it, it would be possible, but the Hotchkiss/Leopold drive would be torn apart by all that energy trying to push through it.” Sortino finished off his second whiskey. “But like I said, there were two breakthroughs. Not one.”

            Sortino walked back around, sitting in the chair he had sat in before. “The conceptual breakthrough that made nullpoint technologies possible happened on a planet called Casco back in Paramount Realm. The news and a full report on it filtered back through the courier system to the Imperial Ministry of Research. They, in turn, filtered it down to their Imperial Institutes. Have you heard of the Imperial Institutes?”

            “No, sir.”

            “They’re crucial to the Empire holding its place at the forefront of the galaxy. Founded a thousand years back. They’re the greatest brain trust humanity ever put together. They’re clearinghouses and laboratories, all at once. In fact, they’re the ones who give out the Vandross Prizes. In fact, it was a satellite campus of the Imperial Institute of the Physical Sciences on Casco that developed the theories behind nullpoints. The Ministry of Research got that and cross correlated with a theory put together by the Imperial Institute of Astronomical and Astrophysical Research’s planetary campus out on Nereid – in Coreward Realm – a couple of decades before. A theory derived from the Darrins – ever meet a Darrin? Very math-oriented species. Anyway, the theory suggested there were new ways to manipulate quantum layers in a transition point... a whole new methodology of putting the Hotchkiss/Leopold equations into effect, that would make it possible to open a fourth or fifth stage transition point with a fraction of the power the core equations would predict.”

            Malcolm stared at Sortino, then looked down at his glass. “I could use that refill now.”

            “I’ll just bet.” Sortino stood, accepting Malcolm’s glass.

            “Why did they sit on it for decades?”

            “Because even a fraction of the power required to make a fourth or fifth stage transition was more power than any starship could generate or store,” Sortino said, pouring. “So, the papers got sat on. Oh, the folks who wrote them won a Vandross for them, but it was esoteric knowledge only. A theory that had no practical application, from the standpoint of the universe. Only the strength of the Ministry of Research isn’t just research. It’s synthesis. It’s coordination. So when the nullpoint theories came across their desks, somehow they were able to correlate them with those new methods of cracking a t-point. They then sent out directives to several campuses of the Imperial Institute for Engineering and Technical Development to develop the hardware. Make nullpoint theory real. Make fifth stage rated h/l drives real. And make them work together.”

            “And... they did it?”

            “Of course they did it. In less time than the Ministry predicted.” Sortino handed the drink to Malcolm, sitting down once more. “Prototyped, tested, proved, patented.”

            “Then... those new cruisers we noticed, tacking into Scabbard Naval Platform....”

            “Are fifth-stage rated. Give them a fifth stage t-point, and they can jump up to a hundred and sixteen light years. That’s four third stage transitions, Malcolm. And like every shift up to a new transition stage, it’s faster. Four maximum third stage transitions, even ignoring the time it takes to travel between t-points in intervening systems, would take seventy days. Add in average travel times between t-points, and you’re looking at ninety days if you’re lucky. A maximum fifth stage transition clears in forty-one days.”

            “Then... then why build a whole new fleet? Why not retrofit half the fifth fleet and—”

            Sortino waved his hand dismissively. “No good, Alex. The new fifth stage rated H/L drives take entirely different astronautics. And that’s the challenge.” Sortino sat back. “You already know that nullpoints are expensive to create. You know that because I told you it was true. Well, the H/L technology’s a couple of orders of magnitude more expensive still. We literally don’t have the resources yet to make up entire fleets of fifth stage rated starships. It’ll be decades – centuries – before we could afford it. As it is, Operation Swift Sword is the most expensive Naval project of the last eighty years.”

            “Operation Swift Sword?”

            “That’s what we’re doing here,” Sortino said, smiling slightly. “We have an unprecedented opportunity, Alexander. We can send in a military force eight transitions behind the Thames-to-Aurora transition. What’s more, it’s five transitions up to the endpoint of a spur, so we could potentially strike and suborn all those planets before they even know we’ve opened up a second front of the war. If we drive down fast enough, and hard enough, we can take and fortify Campbell, cutting their supply line down to the Teo Cluster and forcing a retreat from the disputed worlds. And even before we get to Campbell, there’s a fourth stage transition between Newport and Tackleford that’ll put our forces eleven transitions deep into Concordian space. Do you think there’s going to be any organized resistance that far into their own territory?”

            Malcolm’s mind swum. “It... it’s incredible. It’s perfect. They’ll never know what hit them! We can end this war in two years!


TrackBack URL for this entry:


Darn you! After consolidating all my reference materials and note cards, I now have a 10,000 word outline and about 4,000 words of story.

Well, you have to understand. The major heavy lifting of the background -- the transition point system, the equipment, the timeline and history, and even this entire historical event -- have been in my notes for years. When I settled on Trigger Man as my Nanowrimo project, I could largely jump in and start writing. Well, except for the star systems.

On the other hand, I can be typing merrily along, and suddenly have to stop to compute how long it'll take for a ship going four and a half gees acceleration to travel 10 gigameters. So there's always something.

Well, you just kicked my butt. The most I've gotten written in one day was about 2900 words, and that was yesterday, only because I had Veteran's Day off, and could devote the whole day to it.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to try to get my 1800 words in tonight.

I noticed the Newport-Tackleford transition is not depicted on your map - because it's not important to the story? Or did you just make it up today?

I've added it (and several other fourth and fifth stage transitions) on my copy, along with the Cormier Spur. I haven't bothered to put up a new copy of the map to show those changes.


My best day was Monday with nearly 5k (although it took me until 4:30 am to do it when I discovered that I'd double-posted an entire chapter and had to go back and catch up after that demoralizing mistake.

I'm right there with 22061 / 22968. I've budgeted for one of the weekend days to take off free and clear and man, am I ready.

A suggestion if you intend to publish or distribute this in some other fashion: drop the higher stage transitions from the map that the readers get, if you intend for any of this scene to be a surprise. If you don't then do whatever you want. Heck, do whatever you want anyway, you don't have to listen to my nonsense.


Agreed there. Nothing in Trigger Man's dress will suggest where the fourth and fifth stage transitions are. But *I* need to know, obviously.

If I manage to sell Trigger Man, I'm thinking I'll have to produce the regional map as a print.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)