Friday, July 12, 2013

Hot Chips and Sand 206-210 Draft Comparison

Hot Chips and Sand
Copyright © 2013 Mary Hughes
All rights reserved

“Well, I’d better call the embassy, and find out what’s going on.” John moved again toward the door, Tess following.

“No, wait,” Vickie exclaimed.

They stopped.

“I’ve got to go. I’ve got to see if there’s anything I can do.”

John shook his head.  “Vickie, I knowunderstand how you feel.  But , but there’s nothing you can’tcan do anythingthat Cliff can’t do for himself.  You’re better offStay here, out of the way.”


            I can love him,’ Vickie thought.  . He can’t do that for him self.’  Out loud himself. But she only said, “You’re probably right. Fine. Do me a favor, though, would you? . Call the embassy from here, so I can know what’s going on, too.”

“Got it.” John complied,[M1]  gettingproduced the embassy’s number from some magical place all secretaries keep obscure information like that.  .

She listened anxiously to his end of the conversation.


            “Hello, this is Sir Humphrey Hawkesclyffe’s personal assistant and was shocked when he connected straight with the ambassador herself. Or, knowing John Gaites.  , maybe just surprised.

What exactly is going on over there Mrs. Ambassador?  Uh‑huh.  Uh‑huh.  ?” Silence as John’s frown deepened. [M2] No, I don’t know anything about it. But the project leader is here with me, maybe I can ask…well, I don’t know.” He covered the mouthpiece and spoke softly to Vicky.


            “They say Fahrrad has “Fahrrad’s threatened to blow up the palace, that he’s.”


“He’s in hiding but still has control of the palace defense.  It’s grid. Of the HCC300.  TheyTeam Kulinahr can’t break into the network, and they can’t  or find Fahrrad. And Fahrrad kidnapped the only person who could break in.”


            Vickie’s eyes widened.  “So that is why he took Cliff.”  SheVickie started pacing. Whirling, she stopped suddenly. “We’ve got to go there, John. to Middle Yemen. I know more about that system than anybody except for Cliff.” She choked up a second, bit it back and continued. “Maybe I can break in.”


            John “I don’t like it but…I can’t think of anything better.” John relayed that to the ambassador. Then he turned back to Vickie.  “There’s one“One more thing. Fahrrad has set the palace to blow twenty‑four hours from now.”


            Vickie came alive, planning, giving directions.  “Then we“Damn. We don’t have much time. Tell the ambassador that we’re coming. I’ll leave right now for the airport. Have the company jet waiting for me. You and Tess can follow on a charter.” She was out the door.  “See you in Middle Yemen!”[M3] 

Twelve hours later, she was again swearing, this time half a world away.


            “That’s all I can do. “I can’t touch it. The computer is locked from the console, the master terminal, and it. It must be in Fahrrad’s possession. Tell me again exactly what happened.”

The American ambassador cleared her throat, then spoke.  before speaking. “As you know, our government was friendly to Prince Kulinahr, but as long as Col. Fahrrad had the token backing of the Parliamentary Council, and official control, we could do nothing.”

Cliff had done something, but Vickie kept her opinions to herself.  Cliff had done some thing. 

The ambassador did not see Vickie’s face. continued. “Mr. Hawkesclyffe hadwas working on his own but kept his contacts in the state department abreast of his actions. He’d infiltrated the palace to disconnect the palace security system and reconnect Kulinahr’s loyal militia.”

The British ambassador nodded. “Sir Humphrey was able not only to communicate with them, both militia and citizens, but to open channels among the resistance, between them, to help initiate the counter‑coupcountercoup.”

The American ambassador cleared her throat. , uncomfortably. Vicky smiled. Perhaps John was notand the British ambassador weren’t supposed to know more about this matter thanas much as the U.S. government, Vickie thought, smiling wickedly to herself. . The ambassador said, “Well, apparently Fahrrad got wind of what your friend CliffMr. Hawkesclyffe was doing, and although Cliff was able to disconnect thedisconnecting the original palace security system he had to , and made him install the new one.”

John shrugged. “The bad guys have informants, too, Mrs. Ambassador.”[M5] 

“Perhaps,” she said stiffly.  “Though Mr. Hawkesclyffe installed the new system he was apparently able to disrupt the new security systemin long enough for Kulinahr’s militia to break through, at any rate. . But somehow Fahrrad got away with his personal guard, this…console, as you call it, and worst of all, Mr. Hawkesclyffe himself.”

Vickie held up her hand.  “Whatever disrupting Cliff did wasn’t for the whole system.  The “Look, I know we’ll have to rehash what went wrong, but can we do it later? The self-destruct mechanism is still active, and the HCC300 is fully in control. . We have two hours to wrest control from the HCC300.”

The American ambassador sighed, and she scrubbed her face with one hand, her hard‑nosed professional image cracking a little.  “And now you tell me“Are you sure the only way in is this damned computer that Fahrrad took this damned security system, too.”?”

John shook his head.  “Not“Fahrrad didn’t take the HCC300 itself.  Just, just the master terminal, the console.  The computer is probably locked away in some secret location. . But the console is deadly enough, because right now, it’s the only thing the HCC300 will listen to.”


            A man who had been workingVickie said, “The computer itself is probably locked away in some secret location. Without a clue as to where, I’d rather not waste time looking for it.”

One of the background steppedother computer experts stood and came forward. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Ambassador, but the system is absolutely locked down tight. I don’t know who designed this, but it might as well have been Sir Humphrey Hawkesclyffe himself!”.”


            It was Hawkesclyffe,’.” Vickie thought.  And onlyslumped in her chair.[M6]  Cliff held the entire master plan in his big brain.  Not and not even the government’s top computer experts could crack it. What had made her think she could?

“Somehow, we have to locate either the computer or this master terminal, but then what? Could you stop the explosion, Ms. Johnston?”


            “I’m sure I could.  Vickie forced herself to straighten. “Cliff and I wrote that particular device driver. .” Together. She squeezed her eyes against exhausted tears. “Probably. I just wish I could findknew a back door around it that I could activate from here.”


            John interrupted. John’s head was shaking. “I don’t think that would be a good idea. Once Fahrrad found out the device had been disconnected, he wouldn’t have any further use for Cliff.”

“I hadn’t thought of that.” Her joints ached and she dropped her head into her palms.

John said, “I think our best bet is to find Cliff. The console and Fahrrad won’t be far away.”

Vickie struggled hard against tears of exhaustion.   She hadn’t been sleeping well for two weeks.  She hadn’t slept at all since the beginning of this crisis.  “John, yougave herself one more moment, then with a deep breath, straightened. “You know Cliff better than any of us.  What wouldWould he have donegiven us a clue somehow?”

John considered a minute. “He hadn’t been really acting like himself since he left, but I think even instinct would have prompted him to try to leave us a. A clue as to where he was going, or how to break the system. Did you find anything in the code?”

“Nothing obvious. I can look again but—”

“No, nothing.  Maybe he didn’twouldn’t have thehad time.  And I’m sure  to be subtle. Maybe Fahrrad wouldn’t let him near the console.”


            “Then what about John snapped his fingers. “Where are his personal effects?”


            A The U.S. ambassador motioned to a uniformed man brought forward a . A handful of things.  were brought forward. “This is all that we could find in his room, other than the usual clothes and toiletries.”

John picked the handful over, selecting a small piece of paper and a copper button shaped like a mushroom for a second look.


            “There’s a list of “There are words on this paper. A list. ‘Chip, factory, power.’ And a symbol.  ‘>=‘. ‘>=‘. Maybe this is a coded message.”

Vickie looked over his shoulder. “Well, that last thing is greater than or equal to.”  Now She couldn’t stop a tear from trickling down her eyes did glistencheek, remembering the one coding mistake she hadshe’d caught him at.  “But the others“The other words are just the topics from his last memo. Remember? Chip production here is about to start. Factory is complete, except for backup power source.”

“Did you memorize that?” John asked.  When he caught the look onJohn’s eyebrow raised. She felt her face, though, he didn’t press her. cheeks heating. Truth to tell, she hadin the last few weeks she’d found herself reading and rereading anything that came from Cliff in the last few weeks several times . John grabbed her hand for a day.  brief squeeze. “Never mind. Okay, so it’sthe list is probably notjust a messagelist.”

The ambassador peered over John’s shoulder, and selected an item.  “But this poked the button.  Cliff“Mr. Hawkesclyffe is an electronics genius,. Could he could have buildbuilt a radio controller or something in here.”?”

Tess took the button from the ambassador. John. She turned it over several times, then took a clip from her hair and attacked it. The ambassador grabbed at her wrist, but not before she flipped the back of the button off. It was empty.


 [M1]Excessive words. I show John complying, getting the number and calling. Don't need to say, then show the same thing.
 [M2]I've learned that it isn't always enough to show the action. You should show the character's reaction to the action too.
 [M3]Total mood breaker.
 [M4]The reader will picture things in the order you show them. Originally I had Vickie doing something, then John and Tess coming in a sentence later. The poor reader will have a picture of Vickie alone (because John & Tess were coming later on the charter), then have to pop John & Tess into her mental picture. Better to just put them all there to start.
A bit mushy.  [M5]Straightening out and clarifying who did and said what.
 [M6]Again, it's not enough to show her thoughts. We need to see her reaction.

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