Hello, Risk Takers and Rule Breakers!
You were warned about this before, sure. But you can’t just give up, now can you? Maybe you messed up, maybe it wasn’t to your liking. Whatever. C’mon, it’s time to pick yourself up and try again, because…
This week’s Writing Group prompt is:
RULES AND GUIDELINES BELOW!
Make sure you scroll down and read them if you haven’t! You may not be eligible if you don’t!
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Lots of us grew up with this sentiment of encouragement, pushing us not to give up even if we fail the first time ‘round.
But not all second chances are so easily given, many are taken for granted, and sometimes, it never should have been granted in the first place. Take, for a rather easy example, infidelity. One going behind the back of another and violating an agreement made between the two. For some, this would instantly be a deal-breaker. But for others, they can look past this, and allow the relationship to try again. Whether it’s successful or not always depends on the people involved. Perhaps you choose to explore a child getting caught in a fib, and promising to tell the truth next time. Maybe a new employee has botched a job they were given, but are allowed to retry simply on the basis that they are new. What about a long-time employee messing up that same job? Do they get the same leeway as a newer employee? Perhaps this is really as simple as going back through the drive-thru to let the food handlers fix a mess up in your order… or not giving them that chance and then leaving them a negative review.
What about the other side of this, where the second chance was already given? Did that relationship stay intact, or did the cheater fall into old habits yet again? Did the child lie again to avoid getting into trouble? Did they stay true to their word and consequences were lighter? Maybe you could choose the clumsy alchemist student who was given a first and second chance at a test, and whether or not they referred to their notes properly this time. Perhaps someone has already been caught twice trespassing upon sacred land. Do they stop going, are they caught a third time, or do they finally find what they’re looking for?
Second chances are everywhere, and they happen all the time, whether given by others or by ourselves. This intro itself took a few attempts. It certainly wasn’t perfect the first time I tried to type it. Some things never are. Those second chances come often; it’s then our choice on whether we take it or let it go.
So go out there and write! Keep in mind it’s okay to mess up, too. It doesn’t have to be perfect your first run through. That’s what the edit button is for.
See? Told you second chances are everywhere.
Remember, this is part of our weekly Writing Group stream! Submit a little piece following the rules and guidelines below, and there’s a chance your entry will be read live on stream! In addition, we’ll discuss it for a minute and give you some feedback.
Tune into the stream this Saturday at 7:00pm CST to see if you made the cut!
The whole purpose of this is to show off the creativity of the community, while also helping each other to become better writers. Lean into that spirit, and get ready to help each other improve their confidence in their writing, as well as their skill with their craft!
Rules and Guidelines
We read at least four stories during each stream, two of which come from the public post, and two of which come from the much smaller private post. Submissions are randomly selected by a bot, but likes on your post will improve your chances of selection, so be sure to share your submission on social media!
Text and Formatting
- English only.
- Prose only, no poetry or lyrics.
- Use proper spelling, grammar, and syntax.
- Your piece must be between 250-350 words (you can use this website to see your wordcount).
- Use two paragraph breaks between each paragraph so that they have a proper space between them (press “enter” or “return” twice).
- Include a submission title and an author name (doesn’t have to be your real name). Do not include any additional symbols or flourishes in this part of your submission. Format them exactly as you see in this example, or your submission may not be eligible: Example Submission.
- No additional text styling (such as italics or bold text). Do not use asterisks, hyphens, or any other symbol to indicate whether text should be bold, italic, or styled in any other way. CAPS are okay, though.
What to Submit
- Keep submissions “safe-for-work”; be sparing with sexuality, violence, and profanity.
- Try to focus on making your submission a single meaningful moment rather than an entire story.
- Write something brand new; no re-submitting past entries or pieces written for other purposes
- No fan fiction whatsoever. Take inspiration from whatever you’d like, but be transformative and creative with it. By submitting, you also agree that your piece does not infringe on any existing copyrights or trademarks, and you have full license to use it.
- Submissions must be self-contained (everything essential to understanding the piece is contained within the context of the piece itself—no mandatory reading outside the piece required. e.g., if you want to write two different pieces in the same setting or larger narrative, you cannot rely on information from one piece to fill in for the other—they must both give that context independently).
- One submission per participant.
- Submit your entry in a comment on this post.
- Submissions close at 12:00pm CST each Friday.
- You must like and leave a review on two other submissions to be eligible. Your reviews must be at least 50 words long, and must be left directly on the submission you are reviewing, not on another comment. If you’re submitting to the private post, feel free to leave these reviews on either the private or the public post. The two submissions you like need not be the same as the submissions you review.
- Be constructive and uplifting. These submissions are not for a professional market, and shouldn’t be treated as such. We do this, first and foremost, for the joy of the craft. Help other writers to feel like their work is valuable, and be considerate and gentle with critique when you offer it. Authors who leave particularly abrasive or disheartening remarks on this post will be disqualified from selection for readings.
- Use the same e-mail for your posts, reviews, and likes, or you may be rendered ineligible (you may change your username or author name between posts without problem, however).
- You may submit to either or both the public/private groups if you have access, but if you decide to submit to both, only the private group submission will be eligible.
- Understand that by submitting here, you are giving us permission to read your submission aloud live on stream and upload public, archived recordings of said stream to our social media platforms. You will always be credited, but only by the author name you supply as per these rules. No other links or attributions are guaranteed.
Comments on this post that aren’t submissions will be deleted, except for replies/reviews left on existing submissions.
Turning it over
by Gage Jarman
Jaime marched towards the door and kicked it open. He was tall, blonde, handsome, athletic, and absolutely livid in this grungy, high school bathroom of browns and yellows, littered by years of sharpies and jokes etched into the walls.
‘I should be the lead, but no, William gets to be Romeo. He’s the most awkward motherfucker in the club! If he looks bad, we all will. I can’t carry this as Tybalt, and then my Father— Play sports, be a man. Uhg, I’m not going to lose this bet, damn it, but why William? Why does it have to be him?’
“Shit!” Jaime hit the side of the stall. His head hung low. A jagged message under his fist glowed. A crude etching of a leaf with the words “A flipside for the desperate” scratched just below it. Jaime looked at it closer in disbelief before his stomach knotted up.
The teen doubled over, curling up on the tile floor. He felt hot. His jaw clenched so tight it cramped. His breaths were rapid. Blood rushed to his skin, making it itch with a foreign numbness. His mind locked down into circular thinking from the sudden surge of hormones.
‘Get up. Am I dying? Get up. Just get up.’
Jaime tried to push himself off the ground, to stand, to sit up, but his hand was shaking, trembling like it never had, and he collapsed. Darkness encroached over his vision.
Jaime awoke on the cold tile. He felt weird, lighter, except his whole body ached. There was something in his face. He brushed it away, but it swung right back. He picked himself off the floor and stumbled out of the stall. In the mirror, near the entrance, was a girl. She was petite, kind of cute with curly, mousy hair. She mimicked Jaime perfectly. Her eyes went wide and began to water. He— She didn’t know what to do. She wandered into the hall dazed.
William shouted from outside the auditorium. “Hey, you’re the new girl, right? The boys finished auditions a while ago. You better hurry.”
Just Another Day In Monstervile
By Cansas Wanderlust
“When I said come back, this” Jessica waved a finger at her reanimated husband, “is not what I meant.”
Zakary sighed and put his decomposing hands on his lopsided hips. “Well, what were you expecting?”
“Oh, I don’t know, an angel or a ghost of your younger self like Viki’s husband.” Her voice went up an octave as she continued. “Just something, anything else. This is simply repulsive. What would it look like if Viki showed up with Gary looking twenty years younger and floating, Monica strutting next to Vincent and his gorgeous new fangs and flowing black cape, then me showing up with you dropping your fingers and yanking your head back on every ten minutes?!”
Zakary rolled his eyes. “You’re right, I’ll just go die again and ask the devil for a different suit to walk around in!” There was a tearing sound and his tongue flopped to the floor.
Jessica squealed as the wet muscle squirmed like a slug. “You see? This is what I’m talking about! And don’t be ridiculous, the devil doesn’t talk to low lives like us. You’d be talking with his assistant, Beezlebub. Lovely fellow. You know I was just talking to his wife.” She shook her head and made a clicking sound with her tongue. “Poor girl still hasn’t made it out of heaven. No matter how many angel wings she tears off, the big man is just too damn forgiving. But I hear Beezlebub is concocting a bomb of sorts to bust her— “
“Jessica dear,” Zakary interrupted having replaced his tongue. “You’re babbling again.”
“Oh yes. Where were we? Ah right. You are disgusting, Zakary, and I need you to go back to hell and ask for a new suit. A merman perhaps, or maybe a werewolf. Yes, I do like the idea of strolling up to Tuesday brunch with a dashing werewolf at my side.”
“As you wish dear,” Zakary grumbled and headed for the door. Maybe he could find the same train that killed him the first time. Now that would be poetic.
“Sorry About That”
By Hemming Sebastian Bane
She couldn’t believe this. Snoring drowned out the ringing telephone. Trash littered his desk. Onus Lakitz was asleep on the job. AGAIN. The small woman slammed her fists into the desk as hard as she could muster. The snoring man jerked up with a shout of alarm.
“Onus, I swear. If you keep doing this, I swear I will fire you in a heartbeat!”
Onus stood up, wiping the cheese dust from his hands. “But my father…”
“I don’t care who your father is. Your actions have lost his company money, Onus. This is the final straw. Your ass is on the line. Do or die. Got it?!”
Onus slumped and sat back down in his chair.
“Yes, Ms. Sychule.”
Ms. Sychule nodded and walked off hurriedly. Onus rolled his eyes as he pulled the office phone off the receiver.
“Lakitz Repairs. Magic on the fritz? Call Lakitz.”
“Yes, I’ve been without magic for six hours now! When are you going to fix it?!”
Onus huffed. “Ma’am, we are busy right now.”
“Busy? Busy?! My neighbor got her magic back up and running four hours ago. Everyone else on my grid has regained ley line connection.”
“Sorry, may I put you on hold?”
“What do you think I’ve been doing?!”
Onus pushed the hold button and hung up. With a groan, the rotund man stood up and cracked his back multiple times before sitting down again. The on-hold light blinked ominously. Onus picked back up.
“Sorry about that. We will have someone out to your house within the hour. Have a good day.”
Onus slammed the phone down and sighed as he slumped in his office chair. This was going to be a hard week.
by Matthew (Handsome Johanson)
As I flew back from my quick morning meal, I noticed that something was off about my nest. I hurriedly returned and examined my babies.
“One, two, three… who are you?”
Yup, one of the eggs was definitely different. My babies were big and blue; this new one was small and speckly.
I debated what to do with the foreign egg for a moment. It would have been hard enough to feed the eggs I had once they hatched, so I made the decision to remove it from my nest.
I carefully tossed the egg from the nest and plopped down, ready for the long day ahead.
A few hours later, a shadow quickly blotted out the sun. I looked up to see a brown headed cowbird swooping about the tree. I hunkered down, hoping he wouldn’t see me, but it was too late. The bird swooped down and perched on a branch, right next to my nest.
“Hi there.” He called out in a thick Italian accent. “I hope you are havin a nice day, mrs…”
“M-Martha.” I quickly stammered.
“Martha, eh? What a lovely name.” The larger bird took a step onto the edge of my nest. “So, Martha, sweetie. I see youse got a nice nest here.” I nodded quickly, trying my best to keep my nerves down.
He took another step and peered over me and my eggs. “But, it’s a little dangerous, isn’t it, Martha. I heard from some of my associates that you dropped one of your eggs this morning.” He leaned in. “A tragedy.”
Then it clicked. “N-nope, I-I haven’t lost any eggs, so far. Th-they are all safe in my n-nest.”
The bird laughed a throaty laugh. “Don’t lie to me, Martha. I’m a nice guy, honest.”
He jumped off of the nest and back on the nearby branch. “I’ll give you a second chance to keep ou- your eggs safe. If you can’t do that, you’re going to have to do some ‘relocating,’ if you catch my drift.”
And with that, he flew off, leaving me along with my young.
By Jesse Fisher looked over by Edward
The rhythmic beep of the heart monitor played as a countdown to the person’s final moments in the world they knew. Here after a journey unlike any other was coming to an end. Their memories were fuzzy as the daze of only the noise played on. Vehicles and people were silent as well as the void of the light bringing sea floated outside of their room.
Machine noises faded as did the person, a collection of knowledge and experience slowly drifting into an unknown. Before they knew it, there was no sound. No sense of time, nor a sense of touch. There was just a floating feeling but no warmth or chill.
Only a void.
Suddenly a light blinded them as if a sign of hope to the ‘problem’ they now found themselves in.
“Congratulations,” The weird light…sign started. “Due to you leveling up your skills you have been given a new chance at life. You can either return to your original self but younger with all of your knowledge or start a new journey and keep all your memories.”
The person had some memories come up reading that message, stories of dying people that somehow end up surviving in another world…but that was fantasy, right?
Questions of if this was truly death then did that prove they had/are living in a simulation and something programed this for people to get upon death. Or was this true magic giving them a choice? Maybe a god’s doing to show that they had free will even in the end?
Mental anguish was not coming to them so not even pain could disprove it. Now that left only the choice, load a previous save or start a new game.
Ya that one will do.
Light blinds the person as they leave the void behind.
A Year-Long Sellout
by Carrie (Glaceon373)
The man named Franklin held his head in his hands, elbows resting on the small desk. “I just can’t afford to do this.”
“Sure you can,” the salesman smiled. “You’re rich.”
“Not after this I won’t be.”
“Isn’t that the point?”
“I know that! Just…I don’t think this is the answer to my whole…issue, y’know?”
“Actually, it’s your only option. Outside of rotting in a jail cell for the rest of your life.”
“There’s bound to be another way—”
“I believe you’re forgetting a certain part of the deal.” A finger tapped a section of the small print of the contract. “You did read the whole thing, right?”
“Of course I did, I’m not a moron.”
“Maybe reread this section, then?” The salesman’s signature, tormenting smile practically begged to be punched out of his stupid face.
Franklin sighed and reread the paragraph.
“Yeah. It lasts a year. Then after that time’s up, you find me again and tell me about all…this.”
“Exactly. So, to rephrase your choice: rot in a jail cell for the rest of your life, or you get your death faked, have your memories backed up on our systems, and live as a simple nobody for a full year. Three hundred and sixty-five days of complete safety and obscurity, then after that, your life, both now and whatever you’ll be in the future, will be fully in your hands.”
Franklin took a slow, deep breath.
“Also, you’ve only got about two and a half minutes to decide—”
“I’m doing it.”
“Oh! Great! We’ll have it all ready for you in ten minutes.” The salesman left the room, his smile gleaming in the electric light.
The year-old security camera footage faded to black.
The man, who, before then, had thought his name was David, stared in stunned silence at the emptiness.
“So?” the salesman, the exact same one, slid the screen aside, the exact same tormenting smile on his face. “Finally believe me, Franklin?”
Tales From the Infinite Hallway: Infinite Chance
Giovanna J. Fuller
Angela sped like a bullet through her above-shop apartment stuffing random items in closets, cupboards, and under her couch. Once she was done, she sat on the floor and heaved a huge sigh. ‘All done…’
“Help!” The soft, mellow voice of her rabbit familiar came from between the cushions of her couch.
“Cake!” The witch ripped her couch apart and pulled the white ball of fluff out and cradled her in her arms. “I’m sorry.”
Cake sniffled and burrowed into the crook of Angela’s arm. She yawned. “What’s the hurry? You never clean the place…”
“I just got the call. They’re coming.”
“Yeah! Mom and dad. In fifteen minutes!”
The red eyes snapped open and the bunny let out a squeak. “Tonight!?”
“I know! So everything has to be perfect.” She stood up and carried Cake over to the basket full of fluffy pillows and set her familiar down. “It can’t go like last time.” Angela gave an affectionate scratch behind the magical creature’s ears.
Cake let out a contented, though still sad, sigh. “I know…But…don’t get your hopes up.”
“I know…But mom told me things are different now. They’re done with their book tour and they’ve cleared the whole night just for me! They’ve promised. No cameras. No fans. No last minute interviews. They won’t even look at their magic mirrors the whole evening! Just me, mom, dad, and Adam-”
One could have heard a pin drop.
“Marshall?” Angela squeaked.
“Yeah. He’s bringing the next season of that medical show you’ve been watching. *LA MD with No PHD*…” Cake looked up at Angela with sleepy, yet wise eyes. “You did remember-”
All the color drained from Angela’s face as she remembered her mortal friend and her very NOT mortal parents. She couldn’t imagine how her parents would react to her being friends with a mortal. “Ah!” She ran over to the hotdog telephone she had picked up at some garage sale with Marshall and dialed his number. ‘It’ll be alright. I’ll just cancel before he-”
The sunset we shared (Haven’s tale)
By: Larissa (Lari B. Haven)
When Haven closed her eyes and concentrated, she could sink into her own mind.
The task ahead wasn’t as clear to her as it was to her master magician.
“Find your mind palace,” he instructed. “Imagine it, visualize it,—and as your first magical act—bring to reality.”
What does that mean? What does a mind palace supposedly look like? It was too late to ask now.
Inside her mind, there was nothing. It was as barren as the blank void she’d left. She forced her mind to think about something, but nothing came. So she just wandered aimlessly through her thoughts.
“Think about what home means to you,” he had advised.
The people she loved and cared for were her home. But even there, they were too distant for her to call upon. Home was now a thing she lost and couldn’t return to.
All she had were those confused, sinking feelings and escaping glimpses of light. But she had to do it.
Haven took a deep breath—or at least imagined one—and tried to reach in the dark the faint glow that shone above her.
She jumped, throwing her head to the back and feeling each limb dissolve like mist. In this shapeless form, she rose in the light’s direction.
“The sunsets are my favorites, Haven.” A faint maternal voice echoed in the light. She could almost reach it. “I wish we could return to this moment forever.”
And she opened her eyes.
“Your mind created something so simplistic yet hauntingly beautiful,” her master praised her. “Hurry, Miss Haven. Your palace awaits.”
She looked up, her first grand magic spell. It was a room, made entirely of pink and orange clouds, stuck in the warm sunset glow.
She got up and took in all the beauty of that very moment. The emptiness she felt before was gone.
That was her new home, at least for a while. A place where she could stay, and hope for the day she would have the chance to share that sunset again.
A Blank Slate (Oneiron Universe)
“I was so careful, almost undetectable. I concealed the symptoms of my presence behind benign insomnia, yet somehow you saw through my ruse. You built this machine to balk my efforts and now it sustains your life as well. Ironic, how the scientist becomes the lab rat. Don’t you agree?”
The shadowy creature looked down at the man suspended in the infinite void.
“Jamie! Are you listening to me? Wake up!”
A sharp pain seared through Jamie’s mind and his eyes shot open, only to be blinded by the scorching cluster of white lights that floated over the shadowy figure looming overhead.
Jamie stirred and spit crimson onto the formless ground.
Jamie spoke between gasps. “I knew it was strange, how the Madness destroyed the mind and left the bodies intact. You don’t just use them as puppets, like I originally thought. You feed on them! The Haze, the Madness, They were never real, were they? It was always you!”
“Jamie, I thought you were a man of facts, not speculation! Who are you to judge what is or is not real? Are you not in a coma right now? Who’s to say that the world you know was ever real to begin with? Alas, our time to chat has ended and you’re no closer to the truth!”
“What truth? The truth is nothing more than your own fabrication. You’ve blinded us and warped reality into your own version!”
“This is why you’ll never learn, Jamie. Perhaps, when we meet again, you’ll have greater understanding. Until then, you’ll have to start over. From the top!”
Jamie sat up in the tall grass. The wind whistled through the dark green trees and he brushed aside some rogue blades of grass that threatened to scratch his cheek. He spotted a small wooden sign in the distance pointing to the left and right. Squinting, he could barely make out the words ‘City’ and ‘River’ crudely drawn in white paint. Something compelled him to pick a path and as he strode forward, the events that took place just minutes ago drained from his mind.
Once More with Feeling
By RVMPLSTLTSKN (The Saga of The Deep One’s Wake)
He sat next to the fire as he opened his clams. The wind moaned dully in the eaves. The thick walls removed the worry of it from him. The temple silent but for the Everflame’s weak crackle. Iron on shell. A deep breath, half released. Push now with a half turn. Don’t hurt yourself.
The clam yielded. He plucked the precious pearl from its meat with a pair of copper tongs. The pearl to a bowl of water. The meat to the stew. Shells ring in a pile.
Onto the next one.
He had a half dozen of the pearls again, red like sea-god’s crown. Red like coral on the beach after a storm. Red like a fever. Like the Deep One’s skin.
Padas glances at Vienas, dozing next to the Everflame. The pale light lit her face and made her look more becoming. He was alive. He was well again. He was the Living. It all overwhelmed him, silenced him and forced him to reflect. Alive. Hale. Whole. And more.
He closed himself to his feelings, closed off tight like a rosebud, small and red.
The knife on shell again. A slow prying into the wet meat. The clatter and splash.
“What’s wrong?” Her voice quavered as a quiet thrum in the once-holy building.
“Nothing. Just thinking.”
A pause as pregnant as she was. “You’re usually quiet, but there’s more to it tonight.”
The knife again. He dropped the pearl into the bowl.
“Are you finding many?”
“That was the seventh.”
“Are you angry with me?”
“No, just thinking.”
“You were dying.”
“I couldn’t live without you, Padas.”
“Then what is it?”
He looked at her. Her red, blinded eyes. Her obsessively combed hair. Her worried face. Words eluded him. In this reverie, he couldn’t think of how to answer. Memories like fever dreams. The élan of the Living. The spiritual turmoil of epiphany and lust and something more. Something beyond him. Beyond human capacity.
He said the only thing he knew to be true. Real.
“I love you.”
Cristian took a seat with the others in Ridgecloud’s briefing room. Standing at the head of the table was Sonja, and in front of her was what Cristian could only describe as a cannon.
Sonja looked around the room. “Okay, since we’re all here, I should tell you what I have planned. We’re taking another crack at Rikke Farlund.”
There was an audible gasp from some of the other members of the group, and Cristian noticed that Francis had gone pale under his beard.
“Are you sure about this?” Francis asked. “We took some heavy hits last time we tried to infiltrate her compound.”
Sonja nodded. “We’re already at war with her. It’s not going to stop until one of us is out of action. But we’re not going to hit her compound this time. We’ll take her out while she’s in her car.”
Cristian raised an eyebrow. “Won’t her car also have protection?”
Sonja nodded. “Yes, quite likely. Both physical and magical, in all likelihood. That’s why we’re using this.” She slapped her hand on the weapon on the table. “This is a twenty milimeter anti-material rifle. It’s powerful enough to shatter common shield spells. Melissa, Ramona, you two need to learn how to use this thing.”
The two ladies glanced at each other before giving a hesitant nod.
“This should be able to disable Rikke’s car,” Sonja said. “Once that’s been immobilized, the rest of you will neutralize her security, and abduct her. From there, we should be able to transport her to a holding facility, and negotiate a truce.”
“It sounds dangerous,” Francis said.
“Yes, it probably will be,” Sonja replied. “But less so than the last attempt.”
Francis sighed. “I just want to make sure everyone stays safe. I’d rather not do another resurrection if it can be helped.” He glanced at Cristian.
Sonja’s eyes tracked over and looked at Cristian. “Are you okay with this, Cris?”
Cristian shrugged. “I guess I’m okay with it. I did die last time. But it’s not like I remember it happening. I’m sure this time we’ll be successful.”
When the rapture came, nothing really changed.
The sky unzipped, and some unfathomably forgettable face poked through.
“I’ve built another planet. It’s perfect. I’ll be moving immediately, and I’m taking my bestest creations with me. Thank you for participating in my experiment.”
And then God just fucked off.
Naturally, everyone freaked out. People packed bags and ran to tell each other goodbye. Insta-wills were drawn up. Everyone partied, as we all waited to be taken up to this glorious new world.
We held our breath.
And nothing happened.
Fucking zero discernable difference, in any civilization on the planet.
Well, Jerri did go missing, but that was probably a classic lost-in-the-shuffle that would be fixed in the new place.
Okay, we reasoned, maybe it’s just taking a minute. This is an omnipresent, immortal being, after all. On those timescales, “immediately” could mean anything! And God’s probably making the final touches, so that it’s nice and ready.
So we held out for a few more weeks.
By this point, party poopers were saying we needed to get back to work. Nobody’d been interested in keeping the economy going with the promise of paradise. But we had to stay alive while we waited, so business as usual, we guess. That one disappearance probably wasn’t the first guy to get raptured, after all.
It was on day seventeen, back in our reluctant old lives, when something fell from the sky.
Again, pandemonium, as everyone prepared for extinction level firefloods or a beam from the mothership. They sent every major world leader to pick up the heaven-sent artifact at once.
It was a postcard.
“Dragoncorn Beach, Euphoria, Planet Perfection. Having a fabulous time. Wish you were here! XOXO”
On the back was a selfie of that ordinary-ass face from the sky. And next to it, the missing person.
Turns out, the sum total of “my bestest creations” was every pigeon, some really cool seashells, and Jerri. They all went quietly that first day, to live happily ever after.
They abandoned us. And without even an apocalypse to remember them by.
Jullian fumed inside of his armor. The invasion of the inner planets had been proceeding according to plan. His Clan was to take over a backwater planet, and the key to that was to overtake a small garrison. Jullian’s Point of five armored infantry could easily have taken it, but for his rival, Richard, who had the winning bid of four. So while Jullian was aboard the ship, Richard was down on the ground wreaking havoc.
The enforced idleness is marching on Jullian’s nerves. He goes through a systems-check…again. He watches the chronometer…again. He grinds his teeth…again. The one thing that would salvage his pride and sanity is for Richard to fail, and Jullian’s Point to be unleashed. He goes through his battle-plan again, knowing full well the ancient adage that no battle plan survives first contact with the enemy.
The centuries have left the inner planets soft. They will accept anyone into their warrior caste, even those not bred specifically for the purpose. Nothing but cannon-fodder that will burn under the boots of the Clans.
Jullian starts for a moment, not comprehending what is happening. Then it dawns on him and he grins a feral grin. Richard had indeed failed.
“Saddle up, whelps! Time to stomp them into a mudhole!” The four with him, clad in the same power-armor as he is, assemble and begin their final preparations. Systems check, weapons checks, comms checks. They pile into the shuttle, ready to swoop upon their target like living bombs.
Try Again (Tales from Alsair)
By ThatWeirdFish, with help from Lunabear
Jule congratulated Mara on her shot as the hanging target spun, arrow firmly lodged in its center. Then he aimed and fired. His arrow found its mark on the target’s opposite side.
“Show off,” Mara playfully muttered as she collected the arrows and reset the target.
Dresden watched the bantering hunters with crossed arms. Though he never fired a bow himself, it looked easy enough. Why did they need to practice so much?
“Hey, let me take a crack at it.”
Mara stifled a laugh and said something to Jule Dresden couldn’t understand. Jule rolled his eyes and handed Dresden his bow and an arrow. He patted Dresden’s shoulder and pointed to the closest target.
“This… is… easy!” Dresden hid his struggle to pull back the bowstring behind a smirk.
Dresden’s confident smile faltered at the sight of his arrow standing firmly in the grass in front of the target. His cheeks flushed at Mara’s laughter.
“No,” Jule chuckled. “Like this.” He demonstrated the proper stance and encouraged Dresden to try again.
Dresden inhaled sharply and aimed.
The arrow disappeared into the bushes beyond the target. Mara called over some passing hunters and pointed at Dresden while saying something to them. Their laughter burned in his reddening ears. “Jule, I can’t-”
Dresden’s heart pounded as the handsome hunter came closer.
“You are too tense.” Jule guided Dresden’s arms into the correct position, hands resting gently on his elbows. “Breathe deep. Feel the earth beneath you and the sky above.”
The hair on the back of Dresden’s neck shivered at Jule’s voice. “When you are in harmony, let it fly.”
Dresden’s breathing slowed as he tried to focus. Time seemed to pause as he drew in a breath and aimed. He fought against his imagination as his crush leaned in closer.
“Now,” Jule whispered.
Dresden stared in disbelief. He had hit the target! Well, the rim of it, at least.
“Well done!” Jule beamed and patted Dresden on the back. “I knew you could do it.”
“Y-yeah.” Dresden chuckled nervously. “I guess I could.”
No Foul Deed Left Unpunished
The portly man glared at Valik like an angry pig. His eyes were nearly popping out of his head.
“Are your men done ransacking my apartment?” Valik said calmly, looking at all the books which had been thrown to the floor.
“They won’t be done ’til you tell me where that file is!” The man’s jowls quivered as he yelled.
“I see. So you won’t mind if I report all of this to constables.” Valik took a sip of his tea.
“Pah!” The man’s whole body seemed to ungulate as he laughed, “You can try. They always side with me.”
The fat man furrowed his brows. “What’s so funny?”
“The constables aren’t the ones who decide what the law means; that is the job of the court.” He took another sip. “And as the injured party, I get to decide which courthouse I want to go to.”
The man stiffened up as he felt the room get cold. Valik continued to speak. “Who do you think will win, a detective who spends his time studying law and socio-economic issues or a man who has spent his entire life hoarding money only because he can?”
The man quivered with anger and fear. He leaned forward, talking quietly. “I will bury you. Your firm will be demolished and I will place a new store right on top of it. There will be no second chance for you.”
“Just like how there was none for Charles Lanker, who lost his arms in one of your factories?”
Valik kept his face composed. “Or Nathaniel Bauld who had to work overtime in order to pay his rent and died of heat stroke one day? Or your workers in Dor who were shot and beaten for trying to unionize? Or perhaps–”
“Enough!” The man stood up and waved his bodyguards over. “I’ve heard enough from you. You will rue the day you crossed me!”
Valik simply smiled as the door was slammed. “I do love these pre-courtroom chats.” He clicked off his tape recorder in his pocket. “So much convincing evidence.”
On Phantom Itching and other Maladies; or, Captain Clanker’s New Shell
By IsaDragon 337
Clanker had a headache. He did not care, Razor, that it was both physically and technically incomparable to an organic having a headache. He needed a metaphor about as bad as a new shell and six hours straight of debugging.
Razor felt something like hurry-up-and-get-on-with-it. Clanker would have snorted, but he was holding very still while the secondary medic– MD-24601, still unnamed — fished his drive out from Razor’s chest cavity.
“Really, darlin, it’s not that urgent.” Clanker twitched as 24601 bumped something important.
“Sure, Captain.” The medic scowled up at him. It would have been cute if she hadn’t had her hands wrapped around his- Razor’s- CPU. “I’ll just let you fry in there. Like an egg.”
Clanker rolled his eyes and looked at the shiny, lifeless shell. The armor pieces hadn’t finished printing yet. It looked… tiny, and exposed. Trooper model, slightly modified to support command functions. The best they had.
His brothers would give him grief over it if they knew. Well, at least his men weren’t gossips.
…who was he kidding. Poe probably sensed it.
Time passed. It was hard to tell; a drive was mostly storage, minimal processing. The disconnected thoughts were the closest he imagined he could get to dreaming. His dreams were about sneaky medics who pulled on two instead of one.
Clanker prioritized getting visual and audio first, ignoring the shocked error messages about the state of his memory banks. He rolled one shoulder, then the other. Recalibrated nerve feedback, did it again. Maybe someday he could have time to fine-tune properly, instead of just pouring himself into a shell and hoping he could squeeze everything inside. It itched.
“You with us, Captain?”
“Left side’s got about a micron of lag, Raz. And it-”
“It’s impossible for it to itch. I can see it didn’t affect your head.” Razor huffed. He was applying the finishing grips to replacement armor panels with 24601. “I’ll leave you to calibrate.”
Razor switched to hand signs, for privacy. “Command call. Declarative. Medical. Three hours. Approximate.”
“Thank you kindly.” Clanker smiled.
For the Fate of A Friend
by Lunabear (CW: Violence and blood)
Lightning streaks through the heavy clouds. Kari levitates steadily. Tears track down his cheeks as his eyes flash between his blue and onyx. He fights to keep his horned head upright.
The sword in his hand trembles as it lifts into the air. Another lightning flash. A roar exposes elongated fangs. Fangs aching for blood.
He doesn’t get a say this time.
Below, atop the windswept hill, Morana stares up.
The light of her eyes beats in time with her heart. The color ricochets between crimson and golden.
Her grip tightens around her consecrated bone whip. Her teeth grit at the pain digging into her palm. She strikes the ground once, twice. The earth trembles from the impact.
THIS is her purpose.
This time, she won’t fail.
This time, she’ll save her friend.
Above the wind, Morana’s voice nearly breaks. “Kari! I’m here!”
Kari lowers his head. He swings without hesitation.
Morana is sent tumbling down the grassy incline. Her whip strikes her in various spots on her body. Her grunts are swallowed by the fierce gale.
Kari touches down at the same time as Morana shambles to her feet. His voice is distorted and cruel. “Two times is more than sufficient enough to prove what a failure you are.”
Morana faces him. A sliver of blood glides down the side of her head. “I won’t-”
Kari captures her around the throat and grins. Fresh tears glisten on his cheeks. Blue fills his eyes before he sinks his fangs deep into her neck. Her screams and crooning whimpers stir his blood.
Her whip slices across his face. A diagonal line sears into his flesh. He releases her, and she crashes at his feet.
Kari bellows out his rage and pain. His sword thunks to the ground as he clutches his face with both hands.
Morana’s heart hammers against her ribs. She sits and wraps the whip around his ankle, but Kari kicks her off. She lurches into a shaky stand and grips her bloodied neck.
She lopes away at a janky run.
Kari retrieves his sword and launches it.