A few weeks ago I started on a story. I got a short way into what I thought was the introduction, when I realized that, not only would this story be larger than my previous ones, but that wasn't the introduction at all. That was second or third chapter material. I have also written some stuff that would have to happen much much later. This led to writing an outline and some other character stuff. And then I rewrote and revised that outline again and again. So what I'm saying is maybe this is the start, and this might be long. I'll just keep plugging away and see what it is when it's finished.
“Hold up. I see one. Due south.”
The flatbed came to a lurching stop and bounced slightly as the one back wheel settled back to the ground.
“I don’t see it.”
Jan handed the binoculars down to Khary through the open cab window. He took off his glasses, folded them neatly and placed them in his shirt pocket before accepting the binoculars and pivoting them up to his eyes.
“Straight south.” She pointed toward the find even though the roof of the cab made it impossible for Khary to see where her hand was directing him. “It’s laying down in the grass.”
He twisted slightly to glass the field of waving brome. There it was. Just barely visible among the green and brown tufts. The mottled colors of the plate matched its surroundings almost perfectly, but where the grasses swayed and drifted, the patterned armour remained as unmoving as a stone.
Khary handed the binoculars back up through the window. “Good eye. Tell me when you’re holding on.”
Jan beamed with pride as she took back the binoculars and slung them over her neck. She grabbed hold of the welded steel frame that acted as a lookout perch behind the cab and hollered down “Ready!”
Three of the float plates engaged with a dense hum, the fourth one wheezed slightly, before the flatbed jolted forward. The single metal wheel they had attached to compensate for an anemic float plate skipped along uneven ground pocked by gopher holes. The entire flatbed vibrated and Jan gripped a little tighter. As the vehicle accelerated from brisk walking pace to commendable jogging pace, the wheel finally lifted off the ground. The vibrations stopped, and the flatbed gilded silently, save for the harmony of hum and wheeze beneath Jan’s feet.
Jan tried to keep her eyes on the fallen armour, but it was difficult to see over the cab. It wouldn’t have moved. They never do when they hit the dirt like that. “Depleted” was the word Khary used. It was the word he had learned as an apprentice and the word she would be expected to pass down to her apprentice. Armours were “Active”, “Inactive”, or “Depleted”. Not “Alive”. Never “Dead”.