Archive for October 3rd, 2009

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“The Righteous Stuff” – Chapter 9

October 3, 2009

The Righteous Stuff

by Jeffrey D. Waggoner

based on characters and situations in the

“Domination of the Draka” novels written by S.M. Stirling

CHAPTER 9

MCPHERSON PLANTATION

OUTSIDE DAMASCUS

SYRIA PROVINCE

DOMINATION OF THE DRAKA

MARCH, 1945

The guests were whirling around and around the dance floor, first in pairs, then in groups of four, then four groups merged into a single group of sixteen; all perfectly timed and executed with the precision of years of practice. The men were almost completely uniform in appearance, dressed in velvet jackets of royal blue or burgundy, with lace at collar and cuffs, soft black trousers and short black leather boots. The women dressed much less to a theme – some wore the traditional frilled dress with multiple petticoats, but others opted for the more contemporary look of fitted jackets and loose silk slacks. All of the dancers, young and old alike, seemed to be of one family. All were tall, thin, and well-muscled; the marks of those who developed muscles early in life under the careful eye of gymnasts and warrior-arts instructors.

Actually, most of the dancers were of one family. Few of Jaeger’s family or friends were able to attend. His father begged off, saying he couldn’t leave the plantation. His younger brother was on his way from the French Front and should arrive just about the time the party would be ending. Jaeger smiled to himself. That was like his brother. Always late. At least he wasn’t alone –  four or five of the other pilots were here.

The traditional Whiteridge Allemande completed, the dancers broke apart and began to applaud for the musicians. A moment later the band struck up a slower waltz, and the dancers paired off again for the new piece.

“Got some time for me, Gus?” Lillybeth said softly from behind him. Jaeger was too well-trained to show he was startled, but he was surprised he hadn’t heard her coming up the stairs. Her wedding dress looked like it weighed about twenty-five or thirty kilos.

They were standing on the balcony overlooking her father’s Great Hall. There were many large rooms in the mansion, but this was by far the most imposing, with ceilings ten meters high and beautiful marble floors, polished by the serf crew all afternoon until you could see yourself in them. It was not really a large wedding party. No more than a couple of hundred guests were dancing, and maybe a couple of dozen were seated at the far end of the hall, where the food had been laid out.

“Always, Lilly. Y’all should know that by now.” She placed her hand on his arm, and he patted it gently. “Ah was jus’…watchin’, Ah guess.”

“It’s a bit overwhelming, isn’t it?” she asked. “Ah’ve lived here almost all mah life, and this time the party’s foah us…Ah jus’ don’t think o’ things lahk that. Daddy has had hundreds of gatherins’ heah, but always for bus’ness folk or somethin’.”

“It’s time you can thing ’bout yo’self a li’l more, Ah think. Ah don’ think yoah Daddy would mind so much.”

She shook her head. “He would say he didn’t mind. Ah don’ know if it would be true. Ah’ve been takin’ care o’ him foevah.”

Jaeger chuckled. The idea of Lillybeth’s father being helpless was impossible to visualize. “He migh’ do remarkably well, sweetlin;. Y’all migh’ jus’ be surprised.”

“Well, darlin’, we best be gettin’ back to our guests. They might jus’ think we flew the coop!”

Jaeger held up his hand, but gently. “Let’s just stay up here a bit longer. Ah would lahk to jus’ have a little quiet before we have to go back down there.”

“Alright. Just a lil’ bit longer.” She leaned into his shoulder, and they watched the dancers spinning on the floor.

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“Righteous Stuff” update, again, from Cincinnati

October 3, 2009

It’s a gorgeous Saturday outside in Cincinnati and I’m sitting here writing. I’m trying to increase the number of Draka scenes and I need to go back to Stirling’s books, I guess. I feel that my command of the odd Southern dialect he created is slipping. I would expect that took him as long to write as it does for me. I have to speak it, then write.

I’m at about 84K and March of 1958, with the first orbital flight – which should be the climax of the book – a little more than a year off. I am trying to stay within Stirling’s timeline that he presented in The Stone Dogs. It’s been a bit of a trick because he postulated space stations within two years of the first orbital flight. That orbital flight was to have been made with a scramjet, not a disintegrating-totem-pole rocket, so I’ve had to do some extended speculation on how to make that work. There are good, solid, physics reasons why we aren’t doing that yet today, so I’m wary of too much handwaving. One of my goals with this novel is to present a plausible alternate space program, one that takes a different direction because of different opportunities and external pressures. Fitting that in with Stirling’s predictions has been an interesting intellectual enterprise. If I had started from scratch I would not have a timeline like this one at all.

I’ll excerpt another chapter in a bit.

I looked at the stats for this blog again. It still gets more hits from people searching for “mule deer” than anyone else. I’m thinking about changing the name of the blog to “Mule Deer Heaven” or something…