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Writing the No Man’s Sky fan fiction feels good. I am definitely exercising muscles that have been dormant for a while. This will get me ready for writing the next draft of the next chapter of Adam’s Name. And by chapter, I mean book. And by book, I mean… book. Dangit.
The school year has started back up, and we opted for fully virtual, rather than a hybrid in-person and virtual setup. Neither their mom nor I felt or thought that it’s safe enough for anything else. The old adage of schools being petri dishes is incredibly apt right now, no matter how much sterilization or separation that they’re able to pull off. I am more than happy to put up with complaining about the kids missing their friends in exchange for being sure they’re not going to be involved in an outbreak.
The Razer laptop’s battery expanded, contracted, and has been replaced. Kudos to the third party battery company for not abandoning their customer after ten months. Free replacement, no ridiculous hoops, and the new one does the thing. If you’re looking to replace a laptop battery, check out ANTIEE.
I boarded my freighter, loaded in the coordinates that Polo had provided, and told the navigator to engage when ready. The data insertions began in that very first system. At every jump, I was being fed both a portal glyph and the coordinates for the next system, leading ever-closer to the center of the galaxy. Who was sending me that data? Who would be able to? Was it something about being a Traveler that triggered all of this? Was someone watching me and my crew? No, they were bread crumbs, left by the Atlas itself.
I followed them, and they led to another Atlas interface, like the one I’d found when searching for Artemis. Metal that was not metal, lights that held words like the Knowledge Stones, and a smell like rotting faecium and burning silicon strong enough to coat the mouth. As I approached the massive, pulsating red orb, I felt… too many things. What it wanted me to do, in a desperate attempt to keep its experiment going, was unthinkable. Its need, its magnitude, and its pain sent me reeling. I could not contain any of it. I lashed out, told it no, and staggered backwards. It was not angry; it didn’t attack or threaten. It spoke to me, in words, and said it would be waiting for my return.
I found myself on the surface of an uncharted planet. I stumbled back to my ship, only to find it showering sparks and in need of repair. Inside the cockpit, I tried to ignore the burnt-hair smoke and begin repairs, but my mind raced. The pull to the center of the galaxy had been manufactured. Apollo and the strange base Overseer were planted to ready me for this. My memory-less existence as an anomalous Traveler, alone even among others of my kind, was purpose-built as a safety valve in the Atlas’ great machine. Its grand, multiverse-spanning simulation.
When I returned, I told Nada and Polo. Time was finite, and would run out. There was no way of knowing how long we had, but I had cursed us to that end, because the alternative was worse. I would not do what Null had done. They took it as well as they could, and I returned to Akrodne X, doing my best to ignore what had happened.
As far as I can determine, the painful discorporation I experienced when attempting to enter Nada and Polo’s station was just another symptom of the simulation breaking down. The broken freighters, drifting between planets, infested with dangerous… something… is more evidence to throw on the pile.
And yet, Polo’s hope may not be unfounded. I’ve seen an entirely new type of ship, one that seems to be alive. It pulses with a kind of inner light, and is made of an organic material like nothing I’ve ever seen. I’ve also heard stories of a new kind of exocraft – a mechanized suit for operating with more dexterity in extreme environments. Elearu has even mentioned new Travelers building bases, right here on Akrodne X.
Is this some sort of desperate, creative spasm by the Atlas? Some last-ditch attempt at changing the inevitable course of its experiment? Or has something truly changed for the better?
Sixteen. Over and over and over. Through finding Artemis, putting up with Apollo, getting my footing with Nada and Polo and their strange space station, it’s always been sixteen. Across the worlds and systems of the Euclid Galaxy, that number has shown up everywhere. Gek and Vy’Keen never remembered speaking about it, though they did, and with voices not their own. The Korvax never spoke of it, but they were closer to the Atlas than anyone but the Sentinels. And I’ve found no evidence that the Sentinels have ever spoken to anyone.
Since my last communication, I’ve made it back onto the anomalous station. Something drove me to keep trying, despite the threat of painful discorporation. It wasn’t the blueprints, and it wasn’t the frantic hustle and bustle of all of the Travelers. Maybe it was Nada’s sad acceptance of the multiverse’s fate. Maybe it was the rich, chocolatey scent of Polo’s continued hope. Ah, I’m skipping ahead.
I couldn’t shake the pull. I hadn’t seen any other Travelers on Akrodne X, except for Elearu, in ages. They could have left for other systems, or perhaps they’d slipped out of our reality, like Artemis had. Who could know? I’d find myself staring out through the glass of my grow domes, at a countryside littered with abandoned bases, slowly being reclaimed by the environment.
I could no longer find the solace in building that I once had, that Elearu still did. I had put so much of myself into creating these sprawling pods, glass-filled corridors, and underground concrete. I had built something beautiful, but it was complete. My compatriots, Gek, Vy’Keen, Korvax, and whatever the Overseer was, could operate just fine without me. They had their own project and own lives, despite Attendant Eil’s implications.
I looked to the stars next. I’d explored several nearby systems, but each was so like the last. There had to be more. There had to be.
There was. I had been told that many Travelers had ventured toward the center of the galaxy, in search of the Atlas itself, but that few returned. Perhaps they’d found renewed purpose, a place to call home, or something more sinister had happened to them. Nada had expressed their misgivings about seeking it out, and I’d put together some of the why. The Atlas was tightly linked to the Korvax hive mine, and Nada had been split from it for a very long time. Most didn’t survive that sundering, let alone thrive. Nada was afraid of being forced to rejoin, and of losing their individuality among the many. And they were right to fear.
The Sentinels were designed to answer directly to the Atlas, and they had wiped out entire universes of living beings. The ancient Gek had been punished by the Atlas, reduced from a mighty empire to trade-obsessed merchants, for their transgressions against the Korvax. It mercilessly hunted any being that rebelled against it or sought to escape it. Fearing the Atlas was wise.
And yet, the visions I’d received from the ruined monuments told me that there was more to it. The appearance of shattered worlds told me that something was wrong. And Null had said the Atlas was in great pain. Were we, the Travelers, not the Atlas’ way of knowing itself? Were we not its curiosity? Its drive to understand? That’s why the Gek fear us. That’s why the Vy’Keen aid us. That’s why the Korvax revere us.
My No Man’s Sky character doesn’t really have a personality. He’s made choices, buffeted by the story line and the revelations that came from finishing quest lines, but he’s never been active about it. He’s never had a driving goal, or something to accomplish for himself. A completely passive character isn’t compelling, and isn’t fun to write.
The game has been fun to play, don’t get me wrong. There’s no way I’d have as many hours into it as I do if it wasn’t. I would never have stuck around through the bugs, the graphics clipping, and the new bugs introduced (and then subsequently resolved) with every major update. I’d have never weathered the game’s detractors and the controversy surrounding its launch that still hangs on, four years later. My favorite aspect of the game, base building, is still hobbled by the game’s inability to negotiate between terrain modification and terrain regeneration/respawn.
And yet, it’s fun for me, and I stick around.
The difficulty with my fan fiction idea is that I chose to make my PC the main character, when he’s just a thin veneer laid over whatever neat thing I want to accomplish next. That leaves two options that I can see:
Write stories about another Traveler out in the No Man’s Sky multiverse. That leaves me to continue playing as I have, and allows freedom to stretch that might not exist if I’m constrained to writing about what happens in-game.
Take the opportunity provided by switching to playing on PC to actually play a character. I’ve started over in the quest and story progression, which means I can play a character in the game, rather than letting the game drag me along.
I should give this some thought, and find out what my streaming community thinks.
Three switches was all it took to relinquish control of my faithful ship, the Crystal Song, to the station’s auto-docking system. Once again, I flipped them, the motions burned into my brain from what seemed like years of piloting. The ship and station seemed to spin as they negotiated a common horizon. I focused on slowing my breathing and keeping my muscles relaxed. If it happened again, it was likely to hurt just as bad as the last several times. Unfortunately, the Anomaly, as it was commonly known, was the only place in this universe or any other where I could exchange the salvaged tech I’d dug up for blueprints. And I REALLY wanted those blueprints.
The outside doors opened, and the Crystal Song was through. Incomprehensible machinery moved, switched, and rotated around the ship as I slowly drifted forward, toward the inner doors. Maybe this time would be different. I’d gotten in once since this had started happening, but I didn’t have anything to trade. Of course, now that my hold was full to the brim, as they say, I couldn’t get in. And each attempt was more painful than the last.
The inner doors cracked open, spilling out warm, intense white light. This was it. Moment of truth. The doors slid all the way open, and the Song’s instrument panel faded to the light filling my vision. So close! Just one more second, and I’d be through…
The warm white changed to a cold, harsh blue. Every nerve ending lit up in pain. It felt like being torn apart and being pulled away, like every atom in me screaming away from ever other, but I was still alive enough to feel it. Then all I could hear was my own screaming voice, and my body was rebuilding itself inside my base on Akrodne X. It took only a moment, and then the pain was gone as if it had never been.
I was breathing so hard that my faceplate was fogging up. How many times was that? Five? Six? I haven’t tried it again since. The Anomaly hovers there, hanging in space next to the system’s station, taunting me. But I’m not risking it again. Not for a long while.
I got to write them again. I’ve finished the first draft of another novella, and I’m still surprised that this is a thing that I can do. That this is a thing I’ve chosen to do. That this is a thing that I’m still doing.
Something was definitely different this time. This story wasn’t a re-work of something I’d written before. Like The Remembrance, it was a story that I needed to tell, and had characters that I wanted to visit for a time, irrevocably changing everything that they knew. This time, which was different from every single other time, I saw places that would need to be improved as I wrote them. I looked forward to revising. I didn’t just know that revising was a thing that I was going to have to slog through, but I knew that it would give me an opportunity to make it better.
This is something that usually has to be drilled into me from the outside. And from the outside, it’s usually been Nikki.
But, this time… THIS time… it was just a thing. It was “I’m going to make a note about this here, and it should be fixed like this, and I’ll take care of it on the next pass.” So, the plan is to do a light revision when I move the story from paper notebook to digital, and then send it out to my steadfast alpha readers. If you’d like to be added to that alpha reader list, drop me a line!
How do I want to handle the “last” conversation between Susan and Nat? Nat will have done her homework, and tried to prepare for her journey as best she could, without worrying the police officers too much.
Adam’s not with them, and is likely still sleeping back at the apartment.
Susan is exhausted, even after a day’s sleep. She’s traumatized, much like her sister, and is barely keeping her cheese on her cracker. She knows that “losing” her sister is inevitable, at this point, but it doesn’t make any of this easier.
They’ll start just hugging, I think. Crying quietly. They’ll talk, sort of, about the demon. They’ll talk about what’s in store for each of them. Nat will reveal that she’s known about Susan’s other family, and urge her to leave. When they’re done talking, and Susan is leaving, she’ll turn back to say something, and Nat will be gone, along with the stuff.
Susan will stay upright, with the help of the wall, and then will head off to Yeong-Cheol.
The coffee bar needs to change to the Wormhole in Wicker Park. That neighborhood fits who Susan wants to be like a glove.
Car fire should be on the border of residential and industrial zones in the South or West side.
With the rewrite finished, I’m back to the spot where I can start writing new goodness again. I need to do some re-ordering.
First, the phone call with the officer about Natalie clothes shopping for someone else needs to be moved later, much closer to where Susan has her last face-to-face with her sister. If not then, it needs to be right after the vampire vs. demon battle. Maybe then, so the tension about her sister is kept fresh. It doesn’t belong in the middle of Susan’s conversation with the scavengers, though. Also, moving it means that I don’t have to rush it.
Then there’s the battle itself. How do I work the transition between the conversation into the battle? Maybe I could have them knock Susan and Adam out and lock them in a room, then have them wake up mid-battle? How do you knock out a vampire? Well, it’s a place to start.
Did I have a reason for Susan to go and speak with/confront her creator? Other than displaying that she’s come into her own? I can’t for the life of me figure out why I put that in this chapter. Let’s not even mention the complication of writing a character that’s loosely based on someone else’s LARP character, when I was never super friendly with that someone. Better to remove that cameo entirely.
That also means that I won’t be splitting up the character party. Good Thing.