The honga stared. The honga drooled. The honga blocked the sun.
Tyh was being jerked to his feet and he was being pulled around the honga-apparantly three things existed. Tyh struggled to believe that even he could fit into the same world as this sky-darkening monstrosity but looking away broke the lock.
Keena tugged him toward a half-door mounted along the wall of the honga-pit. A slight man in pilots’ gear leaned in the jam outside the office with one hand on the half-door’s shelf. Another man, inside the office, held his head raised above his crossed arms on the same shelf. Each watched Tyh’s nearly involuntary approach.
“Quartermaster. I’m bringing you some help,” Keena declared. The Quartermaster slumped his face into his arms. His pendant earrings jangled onto the shelf.
“Keena,” said the man dressed as a pilot.
“Keena,” mumbled the Quartermaster.
“Quartermaster did you hear me? I’m bringing you a helper. Someone to sweep your office. Someone to clean your window. Someone to collect your papers.”
The Quartermaster left his head on his arms. “I know what help is Keena and I do not need it.” The last four words he spoke increased in anger and volume. His bald head flushed with blood and his gold scalp ring went from limp to perpendicular as his jaws clenched the skin over his skull taut, but his face never left its hiding spot.
“Of course you do.” Keena slung Tyh toward the door and headed off into the back of the pit.
“Dammit, Keena!” The Quartermaster pulled the half-door open so quickly Tyh felt the rush of air. The Quartermaster chased her for three enraged steps and then just stopped. The man dressed as a pilot blandly watched Tyh throughout.
“You see! You see? You see what she does to me. Don’t you?” The Quartermaster didn’t have to turn slightly to the man dressed as a pilot for Tyh to know he wasn’t being addressed. Tyh decided it would be easier to speak to the Quartermaster’s back than to wait for him to turn around and show his face.
“I don’t care.”
The man dressed as a pilot chuckled, “I’m Bem.”
Tyh’s position in the Quartermaster’s shop puts him in touch with every honga rider and pilot in the den. He unwittingly gains experience and connections Keena craves. It’s not until he is sworn as a honga-rider that her jealousy peaks and he must find a way to reconcile or make an enemy of her for all time.
None of the above is new. The 20 Plots exercise I did to follow this honga thing produced a couple appealing ideas for what do do with these characters. Of those I liked the rivalry version best. I’m not as familiar with rivalry as I am with jealousy, but I think I’ll be able to work that out.
My instinct for this is that honga reside in the background of the human and human-like characters. Initially I’m thinking their relationship with people is similar but less than that of McCaffery’s dragons to the people of Pern. That doesn’t absolve me of having to work out what I’m guessing will be a rather complex military culture in regards to them and their use. Crafting some ideas in that arena may produce leads for the rivalry plot or at least provide the infrastructure for such.
With the current set up I’m not sure how I can mitigate the likely appearance of Tyh as a naturally skilled rider or a highly lucky individual unless he fails out of sweeping and right into a rider training program. Nah. I think I’d like to hang onto the scrap of ‘nobody becomes somebody’ fantasy trope I’ve got here so far—keeping mind not to play it up too overtly. Could be that his association with a broad selection of riders, pilots, and other ground personnel soft trains him for the job. Then any serendipity will seem less author induced. He’s been in and around honga and riders for so long no wonder he’s got some intermediate skills.
All that means that he can’t get there from here too quickly. A year? Two? Six months? A shorter time is going to increase the rivalry between the two, but a longer one will make his rise more plausible. The trouble is that you can’t really show time passing in a novel. Rather you can’t experience it passing. So the only thing I’ve really got are events and a gradual gaining of knowledge from these events. Nice. SO now I’m needing a bunch of reasonable events that increase in difficulty
So he’s now a skilled rider—pre-rider. How do I get Keena to notice? And what does she do about it? Fearing for his safety report him to the powers that be? Warn him off herself? Ignore it as incidental until it’s too late? Why’s she so worked up anyway? Why not be happy for him? Proud for her find? Would she get credit for finding him? Is there something in their prior relationship that sparks this separating path or is it purely on her side of the equation?
I can see how all this leads to petty conflict. How does it lead to grand conflict? And do I have to make Keena a bad-guy to pull that off. Her enlisting others in a scheme to bring Tyh down? Murder him? Is this world that kind of world? I always like to make omelets without cracking eggs. Kill off your darlings they say.