Chuck Chaykin: Bounty Hunter

I thought I’d play around with my fun space adventurer, Chuck Chaykin, again. (The original Chaykin sketch can be found here.)

There’s a long proud line of these sorts of characters. Han Solo, Malcolm Reynolds, Heath Huston. These characters and their stories are undeniably fun and some of the most endearing heroes in science fiction. They’re mercenary, but cuddly. They are simple to understand, with pretty clear motivations, but they’re also layered in a way that makes them complex and interesting despite that. They have a nobility about them that fans can innately sense. Above all, they are relatively ordinary people who have the capacity for greatness.

And they usually have some cool spaceships.

That’s basically what I’m aiming for with Mr. Chaykin and his cute telepathic comrade, Val. Set in a space western-style universe, they have adventures hunting down robot pirates and protecting small towns from tentacled bandits. I may sit down and write their first adventure together as my story for this year’s Writer’s Ink themed collection.

It’s an interesting puzzle to work out what words to use to describe Chaykin and Val’s mental conversations. Should I just replace every “said” with “thought” ? What happens then when they really just think something to themselves? Or should I simply establish that they’re conversing telepathically and then use standard dialogue tags (this is what I’m leaning toward)? It’s something I’ll have to work out. Anyone have any recommendations of books with lots of telepathic interaction?

So here’s another quick Chaykin sketch, in which our heroes find themselves in dire straights! Just a few hundred words.

Chuck Chaykin and the Gearjack Gang

Chaykin leaned against the door, as though his extra eighty kilos would make a difference to the thing pounding against the other side of the hatch. He holstered his blaster. His shots had just glanced off anyway. He felt the heavy door shiver as the metallic monstrosity in the corridor outside slammed heavy fists against it.

“Val!” he called out with his mind, hoping his partner still lived. “Val, report!”

“Here, boss,” she answered, the tone of her thoughts distracted. “Still on the bridge. Getting hot in here. There’s two of them outside the door.” Uncharacteristically short for her, Chaykin immediately knew she was in bigger trouble than she was letting on.

“Goddamn Gearjacks,” he muttered. Chaykin looked around at his options. He was trapped in the container bay, the only illumination emanating from dim red emergency lights. He and Val didn’t haul cargo, so this was mostly storage space; stacks of boxes labeled with cute stickers lined the walls and tumbled across the floor. The only way out, other than the door, was the container airlock, but it was awfully chilly out that way. Theoretically, the bay could uncouple from the ship, and even had limited maneuvering thrusters, but Chaykin had never bothered to learn how any of that worked.

“Fifteen years of boredom on this ship and you never bothered to read the manual,” Val gently chided.

“Where’s the Gearjack ship?” he snapped.

“Listing off our port side,” she reported. “You took them by surprise.”

“That won’t last,” he said. “Get us away-”

“Already on it, boss,” Val said. “Moving at top speed, which at the moment is not much. How about you worry about our boarders and I worry about their ship.”

The pounding had stopped. Chaykin eased up to the small window set in the container bay door and peered out. The corridor was swathed in a fine swirl of smoke tinted red by the emergency lighting. Of the robot, there was no sign. Chaykin tugged his blaster from its holster and keyed open the door.

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2 thoughts on “Chuck Chaykin: Bounty Hunter”

  1. I would lean toward establishing the telepathic nature of the conversation and then using standard tags, if they are needed. Using narration in lieu of speaker tags might help, as well. And you could start a convention where spoken dialog was in quotes, while telepathic dialog was in italics (or some other format) — I’ve seen that work effectively. Anne McCaffery’s Pern series has a lot of telepathic conversations in it, as dragons can only converse mind to mind.

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