Emerald Sand (Scifi)

Sample Pitches from prior New York Pitch Conference--various genres.
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Emerald Sand (Scifi)

#1 Post by lathropje » 02 Oct 2007, 00:44

NAME Jon Lathrop

TITLE Emerald Sand

GENRE Science Fiction

COMPS David Weber "Honor Series", BAEN

CREDS Engineer and former fighter pilot, I use my military background for realism in ship and combat scenes

PITCH Thermopylae was an old demilitarized cruiser with one assault shuttle and a forgotten history, prettied up and converted to passenger and data service between primitive planets. When Chris Kurrous, the shuttle’s civilian pilot, manages to re-connect the original military AI in the shuttle, he opens a Pandora’s Box of problems.

Slightly insane after centuries of isolation, PITA the AI is ready to get back to its mission; training pilots and killing the enemy. As PITA offers to train Chris, Thermopylae’s arrival triggers a violent revolt against the oppressive religious government on Homestead and their church’s 2 meter high solid Emerald Archangel is blown to dust. PITA’s skills help Chris survive picking up passengers and fighting off those who try to kill them as he races back to the safety of the Thermopylae.

But both the AI and the new passengers have terrible secrets. The shuttle is equipped with proscribed Nanite technology; a capital crime everywhere. And the passengers used Thermopylae to ignite the revolution, releasing an experimental gene tailored bacteria. When the passengers and crew start dieing of apparent suicide with very odd body chemistry, proscribed technology and an insane AI may be the only way to save Thermopylae.

As deaths mount and Thermopylae diverts to a restricted planet for medical aid, it becomes a race between the mounting deaths inside the ship and out-flying the navy blockade determined to destroy them. Are the passengers victims or killers, and is Chris using the AI, or is the AI using him?


One hundred hours from orbit, the cold bridge opened and fog instantly formed in the air exchange, tendrils reaching slowly around the cabin like eerie, exploratory fingers. The huge military style pressure hatch swung inward, and Chris stepped across the reinforced bare metal threshold. Inside it was a different world than the utilitarian grey hatch would have indicated. The ship’s bridge was dark even when well lighted, dark wood laminate over duraplex, and ancient style leather chairs held in military style shock mounts. Now the flickering lights of some obscure technology in the walls and ceiling were still trying to wake up and push back the darkness through the rapidly condensing fog, the long shadows cast by the corridor lights mixing with the flickering illumination of the vacant control stations and the gaps between them where others had once stood. If it had been the foggy, flickering, gas-lit street corner of London on ancient Earth it somewhat resembled you would have avoided it. As it was, Chris left the hatch open for the corridor light and warm air, even though it meant there was an odd bit of fog formation at the door that poured liquidly into the bridge like some sensie special effect. The rapidly forming fog generated an immediate damp sheen on the unused generic control consoles that once did some dramatic military task but now served simpler needs of basic navigation, communications, and engineering.

Thermopylae was old, a converted warship with an antique hole drive; bought cheap out of the scrap yard. Since the bridge sat over the main slurry tank, even with near perfect insulation the cold leached out the heat when powered down. Chris sighed, and ran his thumb down the bond line and sealed his coat as he walked in.

Shivering slightly, Chris crossed to the center of the bridge and climbed into the absurd old fashioned leather Captain’s chair. He blew a white stream of breath on his hands to warm them before he touched the interactive marks on the reader, and started the first series of manual built in tests. On most ships the automatic tests and status monitoring made this totally unnecessary, but nobody would trust automatics this old. Certainly the Captain didn’t. Neither did Chris, really.

Chris always tried to be philosophical about the cold, and glanced around at the beautiful wood veneer that flickered dimly back at him from the bulkheads of the bridge. He was in the lap of luxury compared to the crew back when the Ag was a military cruiser. Chris watched the diagnostics running and ran his hand over the icy brown surface of the slightly stained leather Captain’s chair, smiling at the incongruity of the elegant ship’s spaces in a retired warship. The passenger and crew spaces were comfortable and abounded with the same dark wood, grace, and grandeur as the bridge. Those spaces were warmer though, he thought to himself as he rubbed his hands together and then started the second series of diagnostics.

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