Monthly Archives: April 2014

Plot noodling on Andrews Ranch

So I seem to be heading up to a climatic scene where Dan drags himself from his deathbed to see what all the commotion is about (this is the scene after the scene I posted today, with Diana and Will going for a little jaunt on the 9572). He knows his ex-wife Sarah, Diana’s mother, is already out there and loaded for bear. He’s dying of cancer. He figures out pretty dang fast that Parker Landreth landing armed, shooting at Diana and Will, means trouble. And we’re talking about someone who is a cattleman–progressive cattleman, okay, but still, a cattleman. A rancher, albeit, in the future. A former military man (Afghanistan). He knows his daughter’s father-in-law (Parker Landreth) means trouble, and….well, if you’ve been following my occasional Netwalk Sequence natterings, you know that Sarah doesn’t walk away from a fight. And she’s come to much the same conclusions about her daughter’s father-in-law. Diana’s parents don’t agree on much, any more, but a threat to their daughter and her husband…they understand that one very well. Keep in mind that Sarah comes from a timber production background, she’s a lumberman’s daughter with the lumber version of Dan’s cattle background.

Dear God, what I’m visualizing is more a cyber-Wild West Shootout at the OK Corral. Only Sarah and Dan both take out Parker and the other threat to Diana and Will’s continued happiness. Dan takes the fall this time.

Is this a cliche or what? Nonetheless, it resonates nicely with me.

Then again, that could be the absinthe talking–except that this was the thought process that kept tugging at me during the quiet times while proctoring tests this afternoon.

Needs careful scripting to stay away from cliches.

Comments? And if none of this makes sense, that’s okay, too. I’m putting this down as much for my thought process as much as anything else.

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Today’s Andrews Ranch

I swear I didn’t know that the 9572 could do this until today’s writing session….


“Warning,” a mechanical voice that sounded vaguely like Will’s droned, 9572-MAIN flashing to identify it as the speaker. “Incoming skimmer arming up.”

“We’ve got to get shielded!” Will snapped. “Dad’s coming in shooting. Di, we’ve got to get out of this skimmer, now! Francis, Sarah, get shields up fast!”

The 9572 glided forward, Will resting his hand on it as it flew through the cabin. Diana scurried to catch up.

“My hand too?” she asked Will as the skimmer door opened.


The skin erupted and a claw closed around her wrist as she slammed her hand down on the 9572’s skin. She didn’t have time to yell before the 9572 shot forward, yanking her off of her feet.

“Grab it!” Will bellowed at her. “Clamps!”

She struggled to wrap herself around the 9572 like she saw Will doing, gasping as it sped out of the skimmer. Clamps cranked down around her arms and the one leg she’d managed to snake around the 9572 but her other leg whipped free as the war machine dodged a shot from Anne’s Third Force team. Diana managed to wrestle her leg awkwardly onto the 9572. As it made contact, more clamps wrapped around the leg. She was grateful for the support as the war machine shot straight up, wobbling as her body strained against the fastenings.

“Flatten yourself!” Will yelled. “You’re throwing the balance off!”

“I’m trying!” she yelled back.

Diana managed to brush her midriff against the 9572. Yet another clamp wrapped around her torso and snugged it close to the war machine. The irregular flight steadied, and the machine arched into a tight parabola. Diana struggled for breath against the gravitational pull as a blast whipped past them. From the skimmer. From Parker Landreth’s skimmer.

Will growled something she couldn’t hear. The 9572 trembled under them.

Something detonated over Parker Landreth’s skimmer.

“Will! You didn’t!” she screamed.

“Disable only!”

She lost sight of Parker’s skimmer as the 9572 snaked around.

Breathe in. Breathe out. She fought to keep her breathing steady against the pull of gravity, and wondered just how often Will had done something like this in the PAZ. I’m glad I didn’t know about this capacity.

And then their flight slowed.

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And Andrews Ranch continues….

I’ve been trying to be diligent and mindful and eke out at least a few hundred words on Andrews Ranch every day. The climax in rewrite is so completely different from the original story that I have to feel my way through the story, almost on a frame-by-frame basis in the scene sequences. Diana does this, Will does that, and the conspiracies are mounting.

So yeah. Some of today’s words put down.


“Red?” she said.

Red steered Lakely past them to the door. “Yes.”

“You need to talk to my mother, Francis, and Anne. Promptly. You need to tell them to hold the military back. We’re activating the 9572 because Parker Landreth is coming in fast. We need to talk. Safely. We need the military to stand down and leave Will alone. We believe Parker Landreth wants to take me, Will, and the 9572. We need to activate it for our own safety.”

Red nodded. “It may take a moment.”

“You don’t dare waste time. Tell them I’m Landreth bloodbonded. They’ll have to take me with Will, as will Parker, and–I won’t let anyone take Will without me. You make sure my mother hears that.”

“Got it.”

The skimmer door opened and Red left, pushing Lakely ahead of him. Will stared directly at Diana, though she could see the bleak emptiness lurking behind his focus on her.

“It’s not too late for you to split off from me and avoid this,” he said. His voice wobbled as he continued. “I–I wouldn’t blame you if you did. You’ve still got a future. Your mother would protect you.”

Diana deliberately took his bandaged hand in her matching bandaged hand. “It was too late five years ago, when we made our wedding vows. God damn it, Will, we’ve got a future. We’ve got Do It Right. Maybe kids someday. I’m not leaving you alone to face–whatever. We’re in the right here. Either your father or Lakely put that war machine here. We didn’t have a god damned choice but to use your skills to defuse it. If that’s a violation of your interdiction, then those motherfuckers need to not be planning on using you for their purposes.”

A faint smile crossed Will’s lips as his hand tightened on hers. “Damn it, Diana, I love you. I don’t want to see you go through this, but damn it, I’m glad you’re staying.”

“I love you too. And we’re going to face this–together.”

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Getting on with it

Part of the reason for writing this post is to get myself over the hump of my last few weeks at work. I counted down the days today and tomorrow is Day 30 with less than seven weeks to go; okay, now I will let myself count down the days on the board rather than let them silently slip through my fingers.

Not that I will be in the classroom this week. This week is Round Two of reading tests, so I will be in the computer lab instead, wrestling with the computers. Because of course today had computer drama. My work laptop does not talk to any printer but my personal confidential printer. Even when I ran the other drivers, it didn’t want to talk to it. Sigh. That presents a problem when you are printing out passages and needing to manage them in test site confidentiality. Nonetheless, that problem got solved. A minor glitch, but one that still caused some issues.

There are other things going on that I won’t talk about, but suffice it to say that not all is paradise in Narnia. In fact, things appear to be…well…sigh. Deep sigh. I had hoped….

Isn’t there a proverb somewhere out there about hope and foolishness? Or the foolishness of hope? I remember how the unease came over me when I fielded a summer call from work while driving through Illinois. I excused the unease, of course. Wrote it off to experiencing big changes. But what I didn’t realize was the effect of those changes.

Not that I could have done anything.

Anyway. Time to get on with it, to stop letting the pains of body and soul drag at me and slow me down. Time to do what it takes to survive these thirty days. Seven weeks.

I can do this.

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Spring ski day with horsey moments

Went skiing this morning at Timberline. About six inches fresh snow; got 3-4 more inches while we were skiing. Heavy powder. Not as heavy as earlier in the month. It wasn’t grabby powder, just heavy. I was glad I’d waxed the skis heavily as that turned out to be just perfect for the conditions. As it were, I still kept muttering that we weren’t in shape for these conditions. Heavy work for the quads, for sure.

There were several slopes where I just pointed the skis downhill with about eighteen inches between my feet (to keep the tips from tangling, a problem I have with my shaped skis, and heavy pow will do that), leaned back, and sledded down. Lots of bounce, bounce, bounce when I did that. Slow snow, so perfect for that. Powder’s much more fun when one isn’t hurting and the quads are in shape!

We tended to shun the wide open slopes (our usual haunts) for the narrower runs because they weren’t getting chopped up. If I’d been in better condition it would have been the perfect day for tree skiing. Lots of other folks were doing that, because otherwise the big slopes were just getting chopped up and heavy. We retraced our trails enough that we could see where the snow had filled in our tracks in ten-fifteen minutes.

Perfect little snow globe day.

Afterward, we stopped by the Burro for pork belly tacos and then to the barn and Mocha. I can’t believe how much she’s shedding this year. I think some of it is due to limited rolling due to limited turnout; still, I swear she’s shedding both winter AND spring coats at once!

She tolerates the restricted schooling routine. Key word: “tolerates.” We start out with me putting her on the bit and in collection. It’s a departure from the usual methodology I’ve done with this horse but given that I’m  striving to keep a bit of muscle tone on her, I want her first moves to be under restraint, and then move toward relaxation. While she’s never yet come out of the stall on tiptoes, it’s still pretty clear that she’s tired of no turnout, walk-only works. Today I got a bunch of grunting through the process, which is one way she expresses grouchiness with what we are doing. So–first lap slow, small, collected work, second lap I ask her to extend the walk while still being on the bit. Most of the time she lines right out but today she decided that meant I wanted her to break into trot. Not once, but several times.

Nope. Not yet. Not until that bar shoe goes (projected to happen–maybe–in June).

Besides weaving in and out on two tracks (half-passish), we also schooled boxes. As in walking box shapes with sharp haunches turns, about 10 feet by 10 feet. Then backing the same. One of the beauties of this mare is that after backing the first box, she started anticipating what we were doing. But instead of anticipating in an obnoxious, pissy way (ie, “we’re at the place where we do something, so I do it before I’m cued!”), she slowed and waited for the cue. Very nice when she does that. I think she was looking for her tracks because a couple of times, she sidepassed over to back in her previous tracks. Just a case of half a step or so, but…..very nice.

We backed six boxes. That’s probably enough.

Her haunches still look to be in good muscle tone, which pleases me because that’s why we do all the backing work. Her shoulders look good–well, that’s because we keep doing the small circles and the two-tracking work.  She’s put on weight in the barrel. I figure we’ll have to start doing aerobic conditioning once she’s out of that shoe, but…before then, I’m going to be doing more extensive walk work to try to at least get a head start on that.

At least she seems to have gained enough weight that I can put the English saddle on her. I figure we’ll start with that for conditioning, then move into Western once I deem her sufficiently fit for extensive canter work.

It’s a work in progress…and I groaned when I slid off of the bareback pad today, because between skiing slow deep stuff and then schooling horse bareback, even at a walk….OUCH.

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Another Farpoint Moment


Last trip to Farpoint was about falling in love with the house and our projected future. This trip was more about the reality–which is that we are looking at big things and the biggest remodel job we’ve ever done on a house, long distance. Scary stuff. Plus, with the political season setting in, the worry of “will we fit in?” We have to remind ourselves that we are not, not, not going to be political. Those days are done, and if we were going to revive that past history, we’d have gone to Eugene. Nope. Not going there.

But we also did the things that reminded us of why we’re making this move. No visits to friends this time as the schedule just wasn’t that leisurely–up on Saturday, back on Sunday. However, after a cursory inspection of the new plumbing job, we hopped back in the car and drove ten minutes to get to Wallowa Lake to go fishing. The wind was rising high, waves of about a foot and a half whacking the shore, stiff northern breeze…and on my fourth cast, I caught myself a nice rainbow trout. Native lake trout, 14 inches long, “with shoulders,” as the saying goes.



I wasn’t going to lose this beauty as it hit hard and grabbed the hook deep. So there was that.

Then, the next morning, we hopped in the car after a camp breakfast of cinnamon rolls and cruised out Thomason Meadows toward Zumwalt and the Findley Buttes. We saw a big herd of deer sunning themselves on one slope. Lots of Western Meadowlarks and Mountain Bluebirds singing. Several falcons. Good pix, some of which may make their way into the Andrews Ranch book. Gorgeous mountain views, some of which will make their way into a book. Saw a small herd of what probably were bucks making their way over a ridge. And we encountered a large cow-calf herd getting driven from winter pasture to summer pasture. We drove halfway through until we came to an unmounted human and asked for directions, then strategically parked to block an open gate to keep the stragglers from trying to duck off to the side.

I didn’t take any pictures. The herd was skittery enough as they were, and the cowpunchers (male and female) were working them slow, trying to keep the calves mothered up. It was easy to spot the wise older and calmer cows as they kept their calves close and paced themselves so that calf didn’t get tired and fall back. But there were anxious younger and hotter-tempered cows who’d take off ahead, then remember their calves, and start bellowing and backtracking. Meanwhile, the cowpunchers had a tight little group of outpaced, separated calves marching down a ditch. You could see which calves would probably make the nervous, hotter adults based on their reactions, too.

Except for one mule with a 7-shank curb, all the horses were ridden in snaffles with slobber straps (one rider had bit chains instead of a strap). I finally got to see the slobber strap in proper use.

(deletion of horse tool-specific rantage)

Anyway, the reality of the house set in on this trip. It has nice bones, but it is a converted boiler shack that became a family home that became a retiree’s last place. What upgrades there are were put in to make the last resident comfortable. Now…it needs more.


The ancient dishwasher is gone as part of the plumbing reforms. We’re now talking about putting in a second sink there. The next step is new windows and new flooring in the kitchen and living room, as well as wall removal. Then….we keep going back and forth about upgrading the tiny bathroom and creating two master suites. That piece may be gravy, but the bathroom needs something.

It feels overwhelming. But we take a deep breath and keep on plugging, a little bit at a time.

In two months we won’t have the constraints that keep us to these short two-day trips (my job, primarily). We can make these into three day trips during the summer, and take longer trips during the off season when the schedule works better for DH.

Meanwhile, the other cool thing about the 700 mile round trip is that we get to see critters. Four big rams with huge horns posed by I-84 near the John Day river. The flock of turkeys on the hillside above Elgin. 8-10 eagles on the river through the Gorge. All sorts of other raptors. And lots of deer and Canadian geese. Plus the pileated woodpecker that flew in front of the car going over Tollgate.

I drove that trip in 5 3/4th hours coming home, 6 hours plus (with stops) on the way up–and Addie-the-car got 30.9 mpg on the way back, with a little wind assist. No big stops on the way home, just to get gas in Hood River (which was as expensive as buying gas in the County! Yikes!). Got the doctor letter which confirms arthritis in my thumb.

Sigh. Back to the current reality.

Two more months.

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More on Andrews Ranch

This story section is damnably hard to write. Figuring out the tech and…yeah.

Here’s an example, from yesterday and today’s work.


The side of the device had opened as she joined Will. Long, slender, metallic claws with scythe-like talons extended from the opening as the first netspider grappled for a purchase to pull itself out. Will muttered codes but the netspider lurched onto the side of the device, raising itself high on its eight legs, preparing to leap. Diana’s skin crawled over old scars as she imagined those sharp claws digging into her skin. She still bore the marks of a Stephens soil sampler bot gone rogue in Vietnam, suddenly acting like a Landreth netspider.

“Stop, stop, STOP!” Will yelled. The netspider crouched. “Damn it, the thing isn’t listening to my overrides!” He yanked off his armored gloves and grabbed the netspider with his bare hands as it ignored him and launched itself at Diana. He screamed as the netspider dug into his palms.

Diana lunged to knock the netspider off of Will but he shook his head, moaning and gasping.

No,” he said, his voice low, quivering with agony. He continued, speaking through deep, painful-sounding gulps for air. “No. Bloodbond. Have. To. Bloodbond. My. Control. Overridden. Shouldn’t be!

Bloodbond? What the hell?!

Red lights began to flash less intensely in her overlays. Two turned yellow, then three, then all were yellow, as Will writhed in the grip of the netspider. Diana reached for Will but he shook his head again.

“Others. Watch. Use. Vocals. Stop.”

She stared at the device as a pair of claws waved from the opening, grappling like the first one had. Two yellow lights started to flash on the left side of her visual overlays.

“Left red!” she barked. It was similar to what she would have started to do to control a Do It Right or Stephens rogue bot.

The claws stilled but did not retreat back into the device. The yellow lights stopped flashing.

Good,” Will groaned. “Secondary. Controls. Stable. Just…need…gain…primary–there!”

As all of her lights turned green, the netspider in Will’s hands crumpled into a glittering ball and he flung it back into the opening. Hands shaking, he brushed the other two claws back inside. Diana cried out as she saw his bloody palms. Will ignored her cries and placed his hands on the device, muttering code phrases as he left crimson smears of blood on the device’s skin.

As Diana watched, the blood faded away.

Will growled inarticulately. “Not enough.” He fumbled at his armored pants pocket and yanked out a knife, popping it open and slashing across the blood vessels across the back of his left hand.


He looked at her, grimacing as the blood spurted and he pressed the back of his hand against the device. “I need more blood to make the bond.”

“No. Will, there’s got to be a better way!”

There is no other way, Diana.” The desolate, empty look he gave her chilled Diana to the bone. “Not with the 9572. Damn it, this one was supposed to be mine only!” Anger and anguish mixed in his voice. “But that bastard took her and twisted her, she doesn’t know me. Yet. But she will. Sooner or later, with enough blood, she will!”

“You’re talking about a machine as if it’s alive,” Diana breathed, staring as Will kept bleeding. Was it her imagination or had the device’s skin bulged to form a mouth? The skin rippled and a metallic fang extruded, plunging into Will’s hand. Helpless, Diana stared at Will and the device. “Oh god, Will. God.”

“What do you think I meant when I said Landreth Technologies required a blood price?” Will groaned and sank to his knees beside the device. “This is bloodbonding, Diana. This is interdicted LT tech.” He whimpered and leaned his head on the device. “It wants me back. Body and soul. Oh God. Oh God.”

“Will. No.” She wobbled to kneel beside Will, taking his other hand. It tightened on hers as hard as the armored glove would allow.

“Help,” Will moaned. “Secondary. Web. Activate. Novice. She’s going to take me, Di!”

No she’s not.” Diana gulped. She pulled her hand free from his and yanked off her glove, grabbing Will’s dropped knife and slashing her own hand.

Will grabbed at her bleeding hand, but she yanked it away. “Di, no! Not like this!

“It’s the fastest way, isn’t it?” She slammed her bleeding hand down hard on the device’s skin.

Will screamed as another fang extruded and plunged into her hand.

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Some thoughts on Andrews Ranch and a snippet

Last night I had one of those revelations about a story which sent me scrambling out of bed to take notes. I’ve been working on a difficult rewrite section of the Andrews Ranch novella, and what I figured out was another major missing piece of the Netwalk Sequence backstory and the Gizmo arc. It explains why the Landreth Technologies weapons were so exclusive, so prized, and why Will was so instrumental in the development of Netwalk. And why Bess is the way she is.

This has been one of the most difficult stories of the whole Sequence to write. I started it years ago, even before I knew I was writing the Sequence, and even then it was missing something. This was the missing piece, and it takes the story beyond being just the backstory for Will and Diana’s relationship and why the ranch became what it was.

But the idea’s only twelve hours old, and it needs more fleshing out. Nonetheless, I’m grateful to the backbrain for coming up with it just in time for the crucial scene. I didn’t quite get there today (have to go back and lay the breadcrumbs to make the scene work).

Tomorrow. Maybe.

Anyway, have a taste of what’s about to happen…


As she spun uphill, a buzzer sounded in her ears.


God, she didn’t know this cue!

The heat signature was by a rock. She couldn’t see the person. Diana tried to whistle, but only soft air passed through her lips. She licked them and tried again, pursing her lips more tightly. A very faint note leaked out. She crouched low, lower than she already had to do to scramble up the steep, rocky slope.

Where the hell is Red? Surely she hadn’t gotten through this brush faster than he had?

She tried a single, soft cluck to zoom in on the rock, even as she heard a faint whistle in response. The rock suddenly popped out in stark detail. No rock, but a cleverly designed shelter of some sort. And the human using it was focused uphill, most likely on Will–

Then, faster than she could have anticipated, the human gathered itself up and launched toward Diana.

Repulsors! She scrambled and slid backward, but not fast enough as the man tackled her. They rolled downhill, over rocks. Diana wrestled with her captor, yelling inarticulately as she tried to break free from his grasp. They slid to a stop at the edge of a cliff, only the jagged points of a knee-high rocky outcrop keeping them from pitching over the edge.

She kicked and yelled as he pinioned her wrists, doing her best to break free as he tried to restrain her arms, slamming his armored hands futilely against the rocks. She heard the tell-tale click-click of Red’s weapon, and then Will yanked the man off of her.

“You son-of-a-bitch!” Will bellowed.

The other man attacked Will. They wrestled with each other, Will with a silent fury she’d not seen him express before. He viciously kneed the other man in the gut, going for deep body blows rather than wasting his time on the other man’s helmeted head. The other man went down and Will followed him, grabbing the man’s helmet and slamming it hard against the rocks, growling and cursing. Diana froze, unable to move, staring. He’s going to kill that man because he attacked me.

“Will! Stop! Will! Enough!” Red yelled. “Diana, help!”

She unfroze. “Left right red!” she gabbled as she dove to restrain Will.

“Get Will off of him! I’ll take care of the controller!”

Diana tried to wrestle Will away from the man. Strong as she was, despite her greater height and strength, it took every ounce of determination she could summon up to wrench Will away from the other man and push him uphill, away from the controller. Will fought her blindly, trying to squirm free. It wasn’t until she had him almost all the way to the controller’s blind that he finally stopped fighting her, breathing hard, hyperventilating and exhaling deep, sobbing breaths. Her heart pounded and she thought she heard a low, malevolent humming in her ears.

Will kept staring at the man. “Lakely, you mother-fucking goddamn child-raping son-of-a-bitch,” he gulped, his voice somewhere between tears and anger. “You mother fucking son of a bitch!” He lunged forward to attack again, but Diana grabbed Will and spun him around so that he faced away from the man. It took all of her own willpower to shut down the waves of cold fear and dread that made her want to sink into a fetal curl. Lakely. Albert Lakely. Oh God, is this him?

“Will,” she said firmly. She couldn’t give into her own emotions. She had to be solid for Will. She had to get his attention back and off of Lakely, for their own good, so they could defuse the machine. “Will. Will!”

The sinister hum grew stronger.

The controller chuckled. “Landreth, you sure made my job one hell of a lot easier by bringing your wife along.”

The hum escalated into a whine. Yellow lights started flashing. Will startled.

“Oh my God. Diana! The damn thing’s activating!” He darted past her, scrabbling uphill fast.

Yellow changed into red on her overlays as she struggled up the hill behind her husband.

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