Construction on the MLS C. Baty was slowly nearing completion. From the deck above, WitchyRobyn, Captain of the MLS P. Ninja, eyed the progress with something akin to pride over a plan coming to fruition. It was a good feeling and one she was ready to share with the other instructors.
“See here, recruits, this is where you will learn the benefits of proper planning. A ship, like your novel, needs to be grounded in its own world. How does your inciting event affect the world around your characters? This is the question you need to ask.” Witchy turned to the young recruits, eyeing each of them in turn. “Questions?”
Several recruits shook their heads and Witchy frowned.
“You should always have questions. Question everything. Question the words coming out of your own brain. Is there a story there? Write it.”
“I think you’re scaring them, Captain.” Lt. Commander Kistoway approached from the side bay and promptly tripped over thin air. After righting herself, she jogged toward the group.
Amused, Witchy looked on the group with a smile. “A plan, any plan, can help you succeed, even if that plan is to wait until the last week to start work. Even bad plans sometimes work out.”
“Bad plans?” Ensign Alainainthesky asked coming from the back of the group. She snapped a few photos the the cadets some of whom tried to hide their faces from the ceaseless photography skills of their overzealous ensign.
“You know, the usual,” Kistoway answered. “Like waiting until the last minute like some people who shall remain nameless.”
“Ahem. We do have a task here. These recruits need to be shown the raptor pen.”
“Raptors?” A nervous recruit asked from the middle of the group.
“Yes, raptors,” Witchy confirmed. “We have several. They mostly belong to MLS P. Ninja, but we do occasionally loan them out to the other ships. Timmy is their primary caregiver.”
“Scary, that,” another recruit said from the back.
“Indeed,” Kistoway confirmed. “Where is Timmy, anyway?”
Witchy looked around the bay, thinking. “Find him, Ensign. He’s been tinkering with the prototype lately. He’s up to something.”
After watching her sneak off to find the wayward bot, Witchy glanced down at the prototype again. Everything was going according to plan. It had to. Everything depended on the plan, whatever that plan happened to be.
“Now,” the Lt. Commander began, turning Witchy’s attention away from the construction.
“Now, we will go see the raptors,” Witchy concluded with a smile. “Be wary. Not all of them are friendly, not even those who would seem to be so.”
“There are some,” Kistoway began, “who like to dress up and play, so to speak. They seem to think they are princesses. Zombie princesses.”
“It has something to do with that bot, I’m sure,” Witchy said. “He goes off rambling and putting wild ideas into their heads.”
“Well, Captain, if I recall, you are the one who let the baby raptor nibble on your hand that one time.”
The Captain eyed her. “Regardless, I’m not responsible for the princess thing.”
“Finish the tour, Lt. Commander, I’m going to go help our Ensign find that bot. And remember, don’t let the raptors bite you. Then they’ll have your scent.”
The bot in question was currently walking down the halls of the SSA, mumbling incoherently to himself, as was his wont. Whether it was from all his time with the humans or just part of his programming, he was currently scratching at the bar that ran across his head, as if deep in thought. Could a bot be deep in thought? His muttering grew worse until the sound of voices reached him and he stopped, cocking his head to one side, listening. He recognized one of the voices as Utoxin, the one who had created him. There were others with him! Timmy froze and waited for them to approach.