Deno was panting as he crested the hill, the path had taken all sorts of directions and they were all uphill, and his pack only seemed to get heavier as he went, not lighter. He hoped that this town he was heading to was worth it. He had been told there was work for the local Lord, he had been walking through the forest for five days now, and going up all these hills using game trails was almost more than his city on a plain upbringing could cope with. He did question in his mind why there were no roads though these hills if there was a town, surely there would be trade, and he could not see horse and cart using these trails. His own foolishness had put a stop to his life there, he would be more careful about what he said about Munta when a priest was close by in future. He looked down the valley and could see a scatter of buildings – but not enough to call a town, there were maybe five in total, but he could see there was a road heading away from it in the other direction.

He was in need of a warm bed off the forest floor, so he hoped that there would be someone willing to let him use a stable for the night. It took him two hours to stumble down the side of the hill and he arrived at the little hamlet after the sun had dropped behind the hill line. He was in luck, he could see one of the buildings had a sign hanging above a door, grapes and barley. He slowly walked up and pushed the door open, there was a small tavern with only three benches, only one of them had anyone sat, it was occupied by a group of five men; a small thin, almost skeletal man stood from his perch near the large open fire pit.

“Hello stranger,” his voice was a deep, low growl, the group turned as one and watch Deno as he closed the door behind him. The smoke in the room gave it a dark murky light, the stench of rotting food and reeds on the floor was over powering, he swallowed to stop himself from retching.

“Do you have any food and ale?” he asked, trying not to let his fear show and come though his tone. There was something about the way the men at the table were looking at him, he could see they all had swords leaning on the table next to them.

“A copper for both. Ale and the last of the broth.” said the innkeeper, he waited while Deno fiddled with his purse and got one of his last coppers out, Deno could feel the eyes of the other men on him as he did so, as he handed it over the coin was almost snatched from his hand before the little man scuttled away and returned with a mug and bowl after a few moments, there was a chunk of stale looking bread floating in the broth. They were almost thrown onto the shoddy looking table where Deno had sat with his back to the wall, making sure he could see out into the room, something made him feel uneasy here, but he couldn’t work out what it was. He sat eating what he’d been given, the taverns in Celith would have thrown this to the dogs rather than serve it. He took a sip of his ale and leaned back into the wall and he felt the bench move and wobble as he did, he would have to ask about a bed for the night when the innkeeper came back.

The door slamming woke him from his doze, he could see someone in a dark hooded cloak, a large hunting dog at his side, standing and making no move to take a seat. The five men at the other table hastily hunched in on themselves and made to take no notice of this new customer and his hound. Deno could feel something, he wasn’t sure what, emanating from the hooded figure. A presence.

“My Lord!” the little innkeeper almost screamed as he hurried over to the man.

“Kelpt, you weasel.” The intensity of the voice behind the hood had the innkeeper pull back a pace, “You five” he pointed at the men at the table, a gloved hand emerging from the folds of his cloak “Leave. I don’t want to see your kind here again, bandits and thieves have no place in Enkull. You have been told before, next time you are here you will be hunted down like the game you are. My men are in need of some sport. They grow restless and impatient.” As if to emphasise the point the sound of a group of riders could be heard outside. The five scrambled up and made to leave, “Leave your swords here.” commanded the figure, “honest men have no need for them.” There was a draft as the door opened and the men ran out, though the door Deno caught a glimpse of at least ten mounted men, sat waiting. The figure turned back to the innkeeper, “Kelpt – if you give those bandits food and shelter again we will burn you out.”

Kelpt stuttered “But My Lord, I was scared for my life when they came, had I not they would surely have killed me!”

“Send your boy to me next time!” It was then that the figure seemed to notice Deno, “Stranger. Welcome to Enkull, you are welcome if you are honest, not if you are scoundrel. Which are you?”

“I am a disgraced scribe my lord. Traveling looking for a new life.” Deno paused, he didn’t know exactly who this man was other than he commanded fear.

“Kelpt,” said the figure, “Give him board, and send him to me in the morning.” He turned to leave, “We will speak again stranger, I have need of a scribe.” and he was out of the door and the sound of horses faded into the night.

The directions Kelpt had given had been clear, follow the path down the valley for ten miles, ford the river and turn to the left. Keep going and he would soon find the town of Crogent, on the side of the lake.

Deno had not been prepared for the size of the town, it almost rivalled Celith, he could see the walls and beyond the large keep that sat atop a hill in the centre, overlooking the town, the lake and the valley.

He entered though one of the main gates, the arch was tunnel like in its fifty feet of depth. He followed the main road as it twisted round and steadily climbed up, it seemed to take him hours to come to the wall for the keep, here there were guards watching as people entered and left, making no move to stop anyone. Deno carried on, he approached one of them.

“Hi there,” he began, “I was in a tavern run by a man named Kelpt when a large fellow in a cloak came in, he said he had need of a scribe and I was to come here.”

The guard looked at him for a moment, “Seb! Get here!” a young lad of about ten came running, “Take this here man to the keep, he needs to see Chamberlin Treil.” The boy nodded and motioned for Deno to follow. He lead them into the keep by way of the servants entrance, there were chickens and pigs roaming about, pecking and snuffling, the hunting dogs did not seem to be interested as they sat lounging in the sun as it poked through the clouds. The door Seb lead Deno though took them into a dark hallway, there were doors off to either side, and they went through the third on the left, up a short flight of stairs where Seb knocked on a plain wooden door. It was opened several moments later by an aging man, short and stocky with pure white hair, he had a crimson robe tied about his self. “Yes?” he asked.

Seb nodded and indicated the Deno should introduce himself. “My name is Deno, I’m a scribe and I was told by a man in a cloak with a large dog to come here.” The words tumbled out, almost incoherently.

“Yes, I was told you might be coming, my name is Treil, I’m the Chamberlin for Lord Strivrut. Said he found you in a den of thieves and outlaws. Care to explain that? We cannot, will not, have thieves and outlaws working for the Lord!”

“I did not know that, I have travelled from Celith, I followed that paths that I was advised and ended up following game trails over the hills for five days, then last night – just as the sun was setting I came across the tavern that I met the Lord at last night.”

“Very well then,” He looked at the young lad – “Seb – thank you. Go back to the guard house.” the boy nodded and scurried off. “Come in Deno, come in and let us talk.”

Treil showed Deno into the chamber, there was a large writing desk, and a shelf with a whole ten books on them, along with some scrolls. A wealth of writing that Deno had not even seen in Celith. “Sit, please” said the old man indicating a chair, as he made himself comfortable on its mate opposite. “You told our lord you were a disgraced scribe, we can work round that, but only if there is not going to be trouble from it, are there going to be any relatives pounding on our door demanding we hand you over? Or will there be a Lords men marching here demanding compensate for us taking you in?”

“Neither Master Treil, I did blaspheme within ear of a priest and he did make complaint to my employer. I was thrown out and could not find anyone that would hire me in Celith. I left with just those things in my pack and spoke to people in taverns and following word did make my way in this direction.”

“Very well. We will have you do some small bits, our current scribe has taken to the drink and is no longer able to work, which has left me doing most of it. We will get you cleaned up and presentable.” Treil stood, “Follow me my boy,” Deno followed him out of the room, Treil paused; “Up that way is the Lords rooms, I will show you that later, this other way, and up the stairs on the left is where you will be sleeping, with the page boys and other servants. There is a wash house out the back. Food is what is left from the main meals, you will know when and where – all of the others will kinds of pull you along. First we will go and see the cook. She always has a long list of things we need to send for.” Deno followed along, and for the next two days was handed about from the cook to the blacksmith to the armour to the kennel master. He found the pages did not speak to him much, the other servants spoke briefly, giving nothing way. He was the outsider, he could tell everyone that worked in the keep was either born here or related to someone else.

Around mid-afternoon on his second day one of the pages told him that Treil wanted him in his chamber.

“Well Deno, you look smarter clean!” Said the old man as he opened the door. “Come in. Lord Strivrut has a task for us.” Deno entered and saw who he took to be the lord sat, relaxed, legs crossed and arms folded, looking to be asleep. Treil turned to the figure in the chair; “My Lord, our new scribe is working out well, his letters are well formed and he is quick with the quill.”

Lord Strivrut stood, “Can you ride Deno? We have to travel, I need to take a scribe with me.”

“Yes My Lord. Not well but I can stay on a horse.” Deno mumbled with his head down.

“Treil, make sure he has supplies, we leave at first light.” and the Lord marched out of the room.

The next morning Deno was awake early and made sure to carefully check the ink block and quills that Chamberlin Treil had given him, then he slowly unwrapped and stared at the fortune in parchment he had also been given. He carefully rewrapped it and stowed it in his pack. Stepping lightly he made his way to the courtyard where everyone was gathering before leaving. He was given a horse by one of the stable hands and stood waiting for a signal to do anything.

“Scribe! Good to see you!” Lord Strivrut strode over, “Got all your supplies from Treil? Good!” He didn’t wait for a reply before talking on, “We have a short ride today, only about ten leagues and we will be at the fort of Lord Lamogue, he’s getting on a bit but he mentored me when I was younger. We will be going to council and will require your services as soon as we arrive there.”

“Yes My Lord.” said Deno as Lord Strivrut walked away and spoke to one of the guards.

It was a small party that left Crogent, along with Lord Strivrut and Deno were five guards, a stable hand and a single page, they went at a brisk trot and covered the miles quickly. The roads were good and clear either side for at least ten meters. Deno asked the stable hand who rode beside him why that was.

“There was bandits, and our Lord took action when he inherited, oh ten years ago when his father passed, the Lords mother was killed by bandits a week after see, and he took it badly. He had the roads cleared and then went and destroyed a lot of the little bandit holes and the like. The local merchants like that as it makes their journeys easier, quicker and safer so they don’t mind the taxes to pay for it.” The hand returned his attention to his horse. Deno rode in silence for the rest of the journey. Other than his brief introduction he had spent no time with the Lord and did not know what to make of him, he looked to get on with his men well, Deno just assumed with him being new it would take some time before he gained the Lords favour.

The arrived at the fort of Lord Lamogue an hour past noon and Deno followed Lord Strivrut as he was welcomed into the keep.

“This is my new scribe.” Lord Strivrut was saying as Deno caught up with them at a nondescript door. “He seems solid and reliable, honest about his background when asked.”

“My Lords” Deno managed to mumble out as he followed them through the door. He made himself comfortable out of the way, he had a slate and chalk with him to make notes before committing to parchment.

“What’s so urgent Lamogue?” asked Strivrut, “Your messenger didn’t give me any details.”

“It looks like Palaidh is making noises. He’s hired an army from the southern guilds – my spies say close the twenty thousand men.” Strivrut nodded at this information, Deno was gobsmacked – he didn’t know you could get an army that large. Lamogue continued, “We are not sure his target yet, but we are sure to be on his list somewhere. I have more spies heading there now, I’m investing my best men on infiltrating his command structure. It’s a long way from Durent to Brichreake and I’m hoping the odd waylaid messenger will come to our aid. I need you to go back into the world Strivrut. We need to know what he’s upto, even if it does not involve us directly, anything that man does is our responsibility.”

“I will head to Brichreake, if he is hiring that’s where I need to start, if I go anywhere near Durent he’ll know we are taking an interest. I’ll take a couple of men with me, it’s time I paid a visit to Briackle, it has been a few years since we last spoke. He may even still owe me a favour or three.

Old manuscripts and notes

For the people that have been writing for a few years, is there anything like going back and re-reading something you haven’t looked at since you were say, 15 years old? I did that recently. Ouch it hurt – did I really think that was any good? Needless to say it’s still on the shelf, as a reminder to what I used to be like. The work in question was first stated when I was 12 or 13 – at secondary school. I was visiting my grandmother in London. And well – I was bored and decided to write something. I had Enwag the evil man. A sword, a girl in distress, and some magic stuff. Over the next 5 years this grew and expanded into a half sci-fi half fantasy novel. Don’t really remember how that happened.

I have a few bits like that kicking about, and there is no way anyone other than me is going to read them – I would not even subject my loving wife to them. I’m sure than everyone who’s been writing for twenty odd years has some corkers stuck away in an old writing book, on a floppy disk that nothing will read anymore (seriously – I have some 5 1/4 inch ones somewhere with a load of Word Perfect 5.1 files on them, while I’m sure that modern versions of MS Word will read the files, trying to find a 5 1/4 inch drive is the more challenging bit!)

And then there are the pages, and pages that I wrote in pencil, these are so faded now that I really can’t read some of them, but they will not be burnt/shredded/recycled. They will sit on my shelf for at least another 20 years. Then I’ll have a whole stack of paper I can use!

And this brings me to my biggest issue with my old manuscripts and notebooks – the readability of them. The same goes for notes I take at conventions. I’m currently at the 2015 Nineworlds Geekfest in London. I have with me my trusty “Idea log” that has lasted me the previous two of these. In this are copious notes on sessions, ideas, little snippets of characters and very early plot ideas. I the problem is my handwriting makes a doctors look like perfect penmanship.

As I sit there making notes I have every intention of typing them up, but I never do. Maybe this year?

Writing software

One of the discussions that I’ve had with a few people is what software do people use for typing up their writing, either if they do it with pen and paper first or do it directly to a computer. Personally I use MS OneNote, it’s been part of MS Office since Office 2003 and has vastly improved over the years, it’s now free on Windows, Mac OSX, Android, iOS (iPhone/iPad) and Windows Phone. And if you keep the notes on OneDrive I can be putting thoughts into my phone while out, fire up the laptop when I get home and expand on them all through the power of the internet, or if you are away from your own machine you can log in via the web and use the web version. This makes it a great tool for keeping bits together, character notes, story notes etc. I know some people will use specialist software like Scrivener. I’ve taken a look at this, but the ability to seamlessly use multiple devices across platforms has a greater appeal. This may change – and I am sure it will – over the course of time, as my needs change.

Something that I am interested in trying out is running my own MediaWiki (https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/MediaWiki) to try and see if it will help in documenting worlds and universe.

I will do another post on that once I have tried it!

The Challenge

So, I’ve seen these A to Z challenges that seem to kick about the interwebs. I have asked three friends (well two friends and my wife) for 26 words, A to Z. I will use each of the word lists in a 5k story. So, the end result will be three 5k pieces. These will be written in the hectic months that are July and August. I will be aiming to do an eBook with these. That’s assuming I get all three lists, I’ve only had one so far and it’s been almost a week. And the one I have isn’t from my wife…

A Holiday

So, with a few things happening in life over the last couple of months, myself, along with my wife and our pet dog went and took a week holiday, we sat in a little cottage with a wood burner on the side of Loch Sunart in Scotland. The weather was mixed, that is mixed sleet, hale and rain, with a good bit of wind thrown in. Guess that’s what you get for going in March!

We had both planned on taking some down time and perhaps doing some writing, reading and the odd walk with the hound. We achieved all of these, I have been suffering a little bit of writers block the last few months with my mind stuck on other things, but being able to sit at a table and look out of the window at the view below and start to type, scrawl and formulate plots was a really refreshing thing to do.

Loch Sunart

We plotted the plan we have to take over the world… well our plan for getting the house sorted over the next five years, get my wife’s business up and running full tilt and get me writing again. Seemed like a reasonable result.

What looking at that view doesn’t help so much with is space ships and battles in space; it does help with swords and magic and all things fantasy. The random sheep just strolling down the road right outside the window while munching some grass just adds comic effect. We both managed to get some creative juices flowing over the course of the week, the rare glimpse of sun through the clouds, the walks through the forest and the drive out to Polloch with its jaw dropping views as we came over the top of the single track mountain pass all added to my future arsenal for scenes and settings.
The other thing with a view like that is the temptation to just sit and look at it, and not actually get any writing done – I managed to kill a few hours like that!

There was no phone signal, no Wi-Fi and no contact with most of the outside world. We could visit the local village shop (a ten minute drive), and if we were lucky had enough signal to pick up voicemail. I call this bliss – my wife does not cope will without some sort of internet connection. It was nice to have the only time I picked up my phone to use the dictionary/thesaurus app on it – and yes I had been sensible and had made sure I had the offline version.

So my mind cleared? Maybe. Some more ideas for stuff to write – absolutely. I’ve not been able to write fantasy for a while, and to have some ideas crop up is good. I’ll have to see how they progress over the next weeks and months. What I had wanted to do was actually finish something so I could get it submitted somewhere, but noooooo, I had to go and have a load more ideas for me to work on! This hasn’t gone down so well with my wife who is already at me to finish one of the seven shorts and eight or so novels I have planned and in various stages.

Now – about that Diablo II game I’m in the middle off…..

On names and places

Many things – names, place names and activities are being taken from older languages like Old English. I do this myself, using the language that Beowulf was written in. I have a file on my computer that is an Old English to Modern English dictionary.

This provides me with a good solid basis for names and the like – but I do feel that something is missing.

I was reading an interview with David Eddings the other night, and was intrigued by some of his comments on mythology, the romantics and the Indo-European seem to be his source of name and the like.

This is obviously going back even further than I am, but it did for some strange reason get me thinking and from somewhere Gaelic popped into my mind.

This is certainly something than I can look into. Maybe even obtain some sort of dictionary in the same fashion of my old English one. I will defiantly look into that in the future.

One of the things that I find difficult is naming things, be it things, places or people. Many authors use an atlas, baby name books, phone books and the like. That is fine for contemporary fiction, but not much use for fantasy and sci-fi can have different naming conventions and Smith and Jones don’t always cut it. If setting in Earth future – then yes it can work, and place names will get used for new stations and planets. Exactly like when the British, French, Spanish and the Dutch first settled on the North American continent. The place names were taken with them from their homelands.

Making a single place name work is easy, but when you start putting groups of them together things can become a lot harder – making sure they all work together, but not making them all the same. It’s an easy thing to do, you name the people and the planet the same thing, the country and the capital city the same and so on, but I find that lacks imagination, I’ll use us – the human race – as an example. We live on Earth, yet our species is Human, I live in the UK, where the capital is London. I do tire a little when I read a book and the capital city is the same name as the country its in – how do you know if the author means the city or the country when they say the protagonist is heading there?

I will take this one step further – and this is more of an observation of Sci-Fi more than fantasy – Why do alien races all seem to be at piece as a species, not warring amongst themselves, their plant one big happy place with a single ruling political leader. Give me multiple factions of an alien race meeting multiple factions of another and watch the fireworks. I’ll be right back – had an idea!

So – if anyone has a suggestion for a Gaelic/Celtic – English dictionary – please let me know 🙂

And any suggestions of new books to read are always welcome.

Also name books for Russia, China, Japan, Norway, well you get the idea – anywhere that’s not using the same set of names as the UK!

Incoming – pt. 2

This is part 2 of an ongoing series, please read part 1 here first.

Captain Ruiz sat for the next briefing, not that there was any new information. There had been no new ships arrive in the system and no new information from the station, so Earth may well have blown itself out of existence.

He sat back in his chair looking at his XO, Lieutenant Commander Ruggier, who sat opposite. They were in his state room, away from the bridge crew. They would find out what they faced when they made contact and not before, the same as ever. Ruggier grunted and put down the manual he had open. The one that stated for “First Contact Only” in big red letters on the cover.

‘Anything useful in there?’ asked Ruiz.

‘No Sir,’ answered Ruggier. ‘About the only thing it says is try and not get annihilated by any new intelligence we meet. Almost all the other pages say at the commanding officer’s discretion. I’m sure they’ll change it after our first contact. If we survive.’ He had a small smile cross his lips as he said the last.

Ruiz nodded; it sounded like he’d read it correctly then. It was up to him how to handle this, and it would be him that would take the fall if all went wrong.


They were less than an hour from the expected scan pickup point when the computer screens lit up, detecting something moving towards them at high speed.

Ruggier was only seconds behind the scan techs in working out that whatever was incoming was not going to be a first contact. It was a fleet from Earth. A big fleet from Earth. They weren’t sending any ident signals but the computer system confirmed that the scan profiles matched ISA data.

Ruggier was on the comms with them as he was signalling hurriedly for someone to find Captain Ruiz and get him on the bridge.

As Ruiz rushed to take his place, all of the screens locked and switched to the ISA logo – a simple planet with an old style sailing ship next to it.

‘Comms down, Nav down, Weap down’ yelled Ruggier, ‘System lockout initiated. Awaiting confirmation.’

Ruiz nodded, every recruit was taught what this meant; everyone knew all they could do was sit back and wait. It meant their ship was talking to the incoming ships, and it thought it was outranked. Designed as an anti-mutiny system, it was implemented after the separatist wars over fifty years ago. All personnel knew it existed, yet no one ever expected to see it in action. It could only mean that something had gone wrong on Earth.

The main screen flickered and switched to show a stern face.

‘Captain Ruiz’, she said, ‘I am Admiral Jeana Tryphosa-Heyman. Please have your ship join in formation. We will then proceed and hold 100k from the station. You will be briefed. Out.’

All the screens returned to normal. Ruiz paced impatiently while he waited for the official order come through.

‘Confirmed order sir.’ The com tech flicked the order to Ruiz’ private screen.

‘Helm, join fleet, position rear left flank. Co-ordinate with the other ships to confirm distances. XO. Signal confirmation to the fleet and then meet me in five.’ Ruiz stopped sharply and marched off the bridge.

Ruggier watched the Captain’s back, held straight, head high. But there was something else about the way he moved as he left the bridge, something that Ruggier could not put a name to.

Ice Age – Man. Life

The man returned to the cave with the kill – it had been an easy one. Not that he would let on that it had been easy. The other men, the woman and the young looked to him to be strong. His woman would have a new fur. They had food – what did it matter it was easy for him?

He sat for a moment – listening, he was sure he had heard a noise, a loud noise. He carefully laid down the kill. He would skin and finish tending to it once he had settled. Slowly he crept out, just enough to take a look and make sure that there was noting close by. He swung his head from left to right, and he could see in the distance a glow, like fire.

The Bow and Dragon

Joe sat back in his saddle, he knew the dragon was in the area. Not just because the local town folk had told him so; there had been signs that he was getting closer, as he had travelled over the last three days. The local wildlife had been more skittish, huddling together more than they would elsewhere and there had been bare patches in the clearings where grass and wildflowers were struggling to regrow after some unknown event.

He heard a noise above him; looking up he could see the large shape of the dragon soaring overhead. The large wingspan held steadily as the dragon glided through the air. Its tail stretched out behind, long and straight, ending in a point like a spear. There was a twinkling of deep green black where the sun washed over its enormous scales. Joe could just make out the horse dangling from the large powerful claws.

He turned his horse to trot in the direction the dragon had flown in. They carefully made their way up into the foothills of the large mountain range that shadowed heavily over the countryside.

Joe snacked on a squirrel he had shot down with his crossbow, his aim had been true for once and he had not wasted any of his precious supply of bolts. He did not know where he would be able to get more if he ran out.

The second day of following the trail he saw the dragon overhead again, he guessed it was going out in search of another meal. He spent the day moving slowly though the sparse trees on the foothills, and he could feel the air getting colder as he moved higher.

The night’s prey for the dragon sounded to be someone’s cow, there was a distant moo coming from above.

After three days, moving higher above the tree line, he saw the cave entrance by chance alone; he could have searched the mountains for years and never found it. Out of the corner of his eye he saw a slightly different shade of rock. Had he had been walking even half a foot to either side, he might have never seen it.


They were stood in a line, waiting to be audited to make sure they were suitable to go to the new world. It would be a long trip, frozen while the ship flew through space. For thousands of years they would sleep while the ship travelled though the stars to their new home.

The line was a good mile long, there were a lot of people hoping for the new life, to escape the life in the war-torn and vastly overpopulated solar system. Each family unit had been told they could take one backpack of personal belongings, and Joe was carrying the one for him, his wife Sandra and their fifteen year old daughter Rachael. They were assured that all the clothes and other items they would need would be provided.

They had made the journey to Sol Station 1, and the section they had put the lines in was kept at a warm summer temperature of three hundred Kelvin, they were all stood in their tee-shirts and shorts, there were water stations at regular intervals of the passageway they were stood in. They just hoped today would be the day they made it to the front of the queue, this was their tenth day in trying.

As they slowly progressed up the line they were asked by one of the guards how things were going. Joe nodded and she passed along to the next group – a gaggle of five, the two parents and three children within the strict age limits allowed – over the age of five and under sixteen. The mission had been long in the planning, Joe had first heard about it while Sandra was still pregnant with Rachael. There had been stories that the rich had donated billions to the project in the hope they would not have to go through the selection process, thankfully for the normal person this had not happened, and in the line was the full range, poor homeless beggars and some of the richest people in the solar system, forced to give up their riches to take this voyage.

The line shuffled forward. They would see there were only about five families ahead of them. It was only just gone three in the main shift so they would have a very good chance of getting though this time. They shuffled again not long after and by four they were the next to get called.

Joe showed the guards their documents, watched as they were checked and then all three of them held out their hands for the verification. There was a sharp jab as the machine took is genetic sample to test against birth records. They waited for what seemed like an age; the agent dealing with their check seemed uninterested – Joe knew the guy had probably done hundreds of these in the last few weeks.

The agent nodded and took the backpack. He emptied it out into a tray and rifled though the few items they had. There was an old photo of the three of them when Rachael was a baby, a hand written note and a few other personal items. He grunted and tipped the tray back into the bag.

They were waved through and met by another guard.
“Hi, my name is Susie, I will take you through the last part of your appraisal for the new world. As you have got this far you have done better than a lot of people, but we still have to make sure and then have you in the right area, the wake up times will be staggered so that there can be a place for everyone to live. Based on your education and current employment we have you as a priority for wake up, to assist with the construction of housing and air processing and for the incoming colonists. Your daughter will of course wake at the same time, we will not be splitting families.

Susie went through their lives, what they did and assigned them another queue to join. This line was moving faster, they could see the transports ahead ready to take them to the departure area. There was a roar and vibration through the deck as something launched from the station, out of sight.

Joe handed the backpack to a guard who tagged it as they boarded the transport. They managed to find a seat and then watched out of the window as it hurtled round the station, seeing the businesses flying past on their last tour of the Sol Station 1.

The medic at the large colony ship was friendly, she ran a final check on their ID and instructed them to strip to underwear before they could get into the travel chambers. Clothes deposited in a bag and tagged with their ID they clambered in, Joe looked to his left and then right at his family, as the chamber closed and he slowly went to sleep.