Space Cows 3: First CP Round

Wow, this week has been full! I got some great feedback from my CPs though, and am working on my edits on Space Goats!

Both my CPs had great suggestions, and it was a matter of selecting which I could pull off in 1,000 words while keeping the voice I had going!

As usual, I read through the feedback right away and let it sit, though this time life conspired to pull me away for most of the week, so hopefully my subconscious got in some good mulling over!

After compiling the comments I wanted to act on (none of the compliments, though they are so kind and good to know!) into Scrivener, I had a clear plan.

Most of the comments were smaller things, though I also received some great notes about characterization and continuity. I threw out comments that would alter the voice too much or turn things that were reflexive into active things (and vice versa), even though they were great comments as general advice. Melissa had great thoughts on changing line breaks for emphasis, which was cool, and it’s always fun to see where people agree on comments (no one disagreed this time, though that’s also fun!).

I decided to stubbornly keep some things, like my “full with leaves” even though it’s a bit archaic. I like my archaic phrasings, lol. If my next round of CPs also marks it though, I might cave.

I did get caught with muddiness regarding four legs or two, and when the Goat switches and why, so I tried to clear that up. Was the Goat normally on four legs and rose up to nibble the branch, or normally on two legs? Was it the rising up on two legs that was against the Code, or nibbling an alien plant?

The other thing I had to think hard about was the line “Are all planets going to be like this one?”. It is a bit clunky, and it’s not strictly necessary. I didn’t like the ideas I had for smoothing it though, so I considered just cutting it. In the end, that’s exactly what I did.

Figuring out the legs issue was a little more involved, but I found I had some extra room so I was able to give more description of the space and Goat’s reactions to the back and forth.

So with no further ado, here is Space Goats, this time with a word count of 985.

You sproing through the scraggly bushes that cling to the hill, muzzle raised to the cool breeze. Alien scents wash over you, so different from the ship’s sterile, recycled air. The trees are full with leaves, and the sky is blue above the darker bruising of the distant mountains.

It’s rather disappointing. Shouldn’t alien planets be more, well, alien?  

And there’s a blocky, artificial structure right at the top of the hill, not even trying to hide. Training exercises are supposed to be hard, aren’t they? Otherwise what’s the point? It’s all so dreadfully boring, that you stretch your neck out, rising on the tips of your back hooves to reach a long-hanging branch and nibble at the twigs there. It’s against the Code, but who’s gonna tell on you? Cow? Cow’s not here. She’ll be in the building that’s clearly where you’re meant to go, waiting for you to show up for your briefing. 

But you’re on an alien planet! Simmering underneath the disappointment, thrums of energy race through your bones. The grass isn’t made of crystal, and the sky’s not green, but it’s still a completely new ball of rock hurtling through space, and you’ve actually done it. You’re a Space Goat and nothing can take that away from you. 

All you need to complete the day is a nice glass of wine, the fruitier the better. 

Oh, and to finish your mission, you suppose. 

You can hear the Whale as distinctly as you did when he was standing in front of you, a scowl on his long face. “This mission is simple. You’ll be Dropped on an alien planet. First, use your wits to find your assigned mentor, who will have the Matt. They’ll brief you on a short excursion, and upon your return, you’ll both Matt back up to the ship.”

Look for clues, for anything out of place, of course. Like the glaringly obvious building

Your hooves squish in the springy turf, and the mountains rise and fall behind the apex of the hill with each bouncing leap. Going directly toward the building would be boring. You’ll go around it first—scouting. That’s right. Totally being responsible. 

A breeze whips past and you pause, your eyes half closing as you filter the new smells and try to guess what they are. Plants. Air. Smoke. Smoke’s a little concerning, but it’s only a whiff, so it’s probably pretty far aw—

Something slams into you, lifting you off your hooves. You skid across the rocky ground on your side. Dust makes your eyes tear up. Your heart hammers faster than it did during your first spacewalk, and you scramble to your hooves. 

Cougar stands a meter away, his fangs a flash of white as he smiles. “Not following orders again, Goat?”

What’s he doing out here? You glance at the building, where Cow would be waiting. It’s too far. Cougar will outrun you. 

He prowls a step closer. “This is a training exercise. You and I weren’t supposed to meet like this. If you had followed orders, we wouldn’t have.”

“You wouldn’t hurt me. Not really.” Too bad fear makes your voice high-pitched and bleaty.

“Accidents sometimes happen in training exercises.” He sits, inspecting his claws. 

You flick your tail. You won’t cave to the threats he’s tossing about. You’re the first Goat to make it on the Whale’s Space Teams. And even if this planet seemed boring at first, it’s your very first alien planet! You’re not about to let the chance to explore end here in the cruel claws of a Cougar bully. 

You dig your small hooves into the ground and lower your head, dropping to all fours. A flicker of surprise lights Cougar’s eyes as you spring forward. Your horns crash into his side, just as he’d knocked you over just a few moments ago. Spinning around, you charge for the top of the hill, for safety. Cougar won’t be happy you hit him, but all you have to do is make it to the tiny, square-sided building before he does. 

The soft dirt slows you, giving no easy hoof-holds as you scramble up the hillside. Hot breath on your flanks urges you to move faster, and you skid around the side of the building, panting for air. 

Where’s the door? Where’s the door? Cougar’s gonna get you before you can find the door to this dirty, unassuming building, and on your very first mission. That’d be mortifying. 

The door gleams, white metal in the sunlight, and you lunge for it, scrabbling with the knob. It was obviously not made for hoofed-species. Cougar would likely have an easier time with it. He’s coming and you don’t have time to wrestle with a space-junked door! You kick it, then lower your head and head-butt it. 

It lurches open and you stumble inside. Your hooves slow of their own accord. You stare around, gaping. The interior is an enormous cavern. A cool grey banister stands two meters in front of you, separating you from the rest of the colossal space, while ramps of bustling workers spiral deeper into the mountain beneath you. Everything is lit with warm yellow bulbs, and flashes of colorful doors amidst the shadowy grays accent the interior. This is more like it.

One floor below you, Cow waits idly. “How’d the Goat do?”

Your mouth works, but nothing comes out. 

Behind you, a velvet voice has no trouble finding words. “Off-script, and with a literal meaning for ‘using your head.’”

 Your eye flick from Cougar to Cow and back again. This was all a setup?

Cougar grins at you. “What, cat got your tongue?”

“What?” you squeak.  Normally you’re much more witty, you swear.

Cow shakes her head. “I needed to teach you an important lesson before we get to our primary objective.” Her bovine face turns serious. “Never judge a planet by its drop site.”