For a taste into the writer’s struggle, for the next few posts of mine, I present the multiple attempts at rewriting the first chapter of my novel, Translucent.
Version 2 (version 1 won’t see the light of day):
Screams. Gunfire. Bones crushing, soldiers pleading, a symphony of war pounding at every angle.
Zora’s eyes opened. Her pistol jerked up in her grip as she fired and ducked down. The muffled blast of her shots rang against the opponent’s, distancing the battle’s noise. She swung her leg out, her focus trained on a single point, and she rammed into the opponent’s calves. He staggered, his gunshots ricocheting off the steel wall as she grabbed the barrel, wrenching the weapon away. She rushed forward and knocked him to the ground, pinning him down by her forearm with her pistol set against his forehead.
“I surrender! I surrender!” he spat under her hold. Zora rolled her eyes, letting him squirm against the concrete before she stood and reloaded another cartridge of rubber bullets. She reached up to her earpiece, pulling a microchip from the thin metal casing that wound over her ear, and the battlefield soundtrack cut away to murmurs and a smattering of applause.
Her audience lined the open side of the raised sparring platform, the soldiers in their twenties and thirties muttering to each other as the younger ones stared wide-eyed, whispering, “How’d she do that so fast?”
Zora glanced aside to the speakers, silencing the twelve year olds. “For one thing, my opponent lacks the coordination of a rank 1.” She glared down at her sparring partner as he stumbled to his feet, fumbling to pull the chip from his earpiece. “Corporal Miles. You might’ve gotten away with randomly pulling the trigger as a soldier, but you’re in agent training now. Focus, or next time ‘surrender’ isn’t going to be good enough. Got it?”
“Yes, Agent Toris,” he muttered, limping off the platform.
Zora turned to the crowd, raising her chin and projecting her voice. “This is an essential exercise. You’ve been through enough fights to get this far, but you have to learn to concentrate no matter what’s going on around you, no matter what the Reds might be telling you, no matter how many wounds you’ve sustained. This is where Blue soldier becomes Blue agent. We’re starting with battle field audio, and later you’ll get to visual simulations and maybe gunshot wound training if you’re lucky. Everyone install their chips and partner up. First come first serve on weapons.” With a collective, “Yes ma’am,” the troops filed around the corner toward the training area, their boots thumping in a heartbeat-like rhythm against the steel floors.
Alone, the agent slipped her pistol into its holster and allowed herself to relax, laying off her smug expression to breath in the now empty sparring platform. Artificial white light shot down like a giant spotlight, illuminating every dent and scratch on the concrete walls – generations, centuries of trainees had come through here. She walked to a section of the wall, running her hand over a triangular hollow, the jagged edges still tinted red. She must have been only ten when she had made her first kill here, a traitor cowering out of a fight who went down with a crush to the temple. She smiled at the memory. Six ranks in only six years in this compound, hidden under miles of nuclear mountain rubble, and here she stood, the most prodigious agent in the entire compound. Rank 9 of 10, she reminded herself, kept reminding herself as she twisted her blue armband, twisting and twisting until her fingers bleached. Almost there.