Sent to a penal colony – #Wipitup

WIPimage12I’m busy editing my Medieval romance, which I hope will come out in a few weeks. In the meantime, I’ve started something new – a Sci-Fi. It’s in its earlier stages.  I’m getting to know the characters and working out the plot, what happens when and when to ramp up the emotions. The first few chapters are always fluid until thing settle down. I’ve not written the opening yet. It’s close by, I can feel it in my head waiting to escape. Here’s a little WIP excerpt from further on.

Freya has been caught spying by the alien race that has invaded Earth and colonised Australia (sorry Aussies). She’s been sentenced to a distant penal colony, Tagra. Waking up from a spell in stasis, the space craft is starting its descent to the planet’s grim surface.

***

sci-fi desertOut of the window the two suns shone. One large and close, the other a distant fireball. Between them, the golden disk of Tagra. Not a speck of blue on the surface of the planet. Was it totally barren?
“It’s a bleak place, isn’t it?” The voice spoke softly and came from over her shoulder. She started and rotated just in time to catch him rising from his seat. Uniformed, like all the other occupants of the transporter, but not in the style of the soldiers. The lines of his black uniform were smart and on his lapel was a golden badge: a symbol she didn’t recognise. Somebody of a senior rank? He slid along the row and sat in a seat, not quite next to her, but close enough for her to see the smooth outline of his chin and the narrow brows above his dark eyes. Unlike the short hair cut of the soldiers, the newcomer had longer locks of hair, which licked around his cheek bones. He’d the hefty build of a warrior—the broad shoulders and bulging biceps—but his hands had a delicacy to them—slender and trimmed about the nails.
Freya swallowed hard. This man had a presence and exuded some kind of authority. She recognised the familiar qualities of the bold man, they were reflected in her father and also the man who’d trained her to be a spy. She glanced over to where the soldiers laughed amongst themselves. They ignore Freya and her companion.
“Yes,” she replied, belatedly. “Horrible.”
He laughed. “As it should be. It’s a prison, not a holiday camp.” He pointed to the window. “See, we’re moving closer. Soon you’ll be on your new home.”
Freya grimaced. It would never be her home, even if she died there. She turned away from the man and peered through the porthole to the surface of the planet below. The fuzzy gold had taken the form of mountains and vast deserts, but no seas or rivers. The craft banked and followed the curvature of the planet, slowly descending.
“You know I’m a journalist.” She spoke her thoughts aloud without facing him.
“You’re the only prisoner on board and yes, I’ve also followed your trial in the news. It was swift. Unusually so.”
“It was a setup. They charged me with military espionage.” She whipped her head around. “I confessed to industrial espionage. They refused to believe it, even though they used a supposed truth serum on me.”
He tapped the armrest of his seat. “I’m not party to the detailed evidence given in your trial. However, you were sentenced and the punishment for military espionage is life.”
“Whereas the one for industrial is lesser. I should be back on Earth serving my time in a prison, not sent half way across the galaxy to a penal colony.”
He frowned. “The matter has been decided,” he said firmly. “It would be best if you accepted your fate.”
She scowled and returned to examining the landscape below. Something green caught her attention. A snake of verdant pastures running through a narrow valley. At one end, on a high plateau, a domed city. The buildings sheathed behind a glittering force field. Below, littered along the valley floor, numerous metallic buildings, and dotted amongst them, a few fields.
“That is the prison?” She pointed at the dome.
He guffawed. “Oh, no. That is where I shall be living. That is the city of Tagra where we Vendu live. While you, the prisoners, are in the valley.”
“But there are no fences. Barriers?”
He leaned over her shoulder. “See the desert. There is nowhere to go. That is why this planet is ideal. You have no place to escape to. The dome is to keep us in and safe. You will live freely among the other convicts. You’ll work, be paid in food vouchers and go to bed in a room, not a locked cell.”
“Then why the guards?” She gestured towards the soldiers.
“Why indeed? Traditionally the governors have allowed the prisoners to police themselves. Petty crimes and misdemeanours are for the jurisdiction of the colony police force. However, major crimes, uprising and insurrection, those are for us to deal with. And we do so, harshly. That is what makes Tagra appealing for a young soldier. They come for a few years, need only watch and listen from afar as the prisoners squabble amongst themselves. A remote location it might be, but there are many pleasures for a young Vendu soldier to have in Tagra city. You might remember that, Freya.”

***

Who’s the mystery passenger? More to come 🙂

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