Hanging onto a Camp plot bunny

I’m busy with a lot of other stuff just at the moment, but with Camp Nanowrimo coming up, I’ve been trying to spare some time and attention for a novel idea, so that I don’t have to rely entirely on the Dares and Adopt-a-plot tent once April starts. 🙂

I’ve got a few good ideas coming together so far. The first thing that I decided was that I wanted to do a sortof-prequel-related-tale to my Script Frenzy project from 2011, The Alien Mafia. In that movie, Earthlings have hyperspace ships, and have made contact with a few alien races, including the merchant Aurigae, but they’re still a run-down galactic backwater species by alien standards. I got curious about how we got from here to there, and about the first extra-solar planet that Earthlings would ever visit. Some lonely Aurigae outpost or a trade marketplace, maybe, that the Aurigae will ferry Earthlings to if they pay enough, where you might find items that the Aurigae refuse to buy or sell, if you’re crazy or desperate enough.

I liked that setting, but for a few days I couldn’t figure out who my main characters or what their conflict was about; thought about diplomats trying to set up an Earth Consulate on this other planet, but I couldn’t find a way to make that compelling enough. And then, when I was getting ready for bed one evening a few weeks ago, the characters and the plot started to come together.

Start with a nerdy forensic accountant, working with the Global Police but not really respected by all the ‘real cops.’ He’s tracking down a cyber-thief, the swindler of the decade, and figures out that the swindler is on an Aurigae ship leaving for the domed city of Argos a few minutes too late to stop the launch. But he really needs to see the swindler brought to Earthling justice; he promised some of the victims, and he knows that things could get messy if criminals know that all they need to do to escape the police is hop on board the Aurigae Express. So he manages to get assigned, along with a tough-as-nails Fugitive Retrieval Marshal, to travel to Argos themselves and bring back the perp.

Of course, that’s easier said than done. The two Earth cops have no backup on Argos, no support other than what they can buy for themselves with a relatively tight budget. There are only a few dozen other earthlings on Argos at the time. Local law enforcement is on the lax side, because there are four different alien species who come to do business at Argos, and the sovereign government has decreed that the local cops shouldn’t do anything to offend anybody, lest the trade revenue dry up. And our Earthling swindler has joined up with a local gang.

That’s about as far as I’ve gotten with the main plot, but a few of the worldbuilding details are filling themselves in. I really want to stress the contrast between Earth as a planet of strict law and order at this point, versus the ‘wild frontier outpost’ feel of Argos. And there’s a dark side to Earth’s lawfulness, which will feed into the character conflict eventually; the One Earth government was formed in a hurry when the Aurigae first arrived, because their first communications made it clear that they’d judge Earthlings on how well they could settle their differences, and nobody wanted to find out what they’d do if they found us wanting. But now the government has gotten good at ruthlessly suppressing any sign of protest or dissatisfaction, and the swindler isn’t just a criminal of opportunity; she’s got sorta-Libertarian ideals, and was trying to raise funds for a revolution before the GP closed in…

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