Hello, Researchers and Skeptics!
You’re crazy, you know that? Do you really think this is going to succeed? Frankly, I’m not sure whether to support you or pray it fails. But you won’t listen to me, so I guess you’ll have to show me, because…
This week’s Writing Group prompt is:
I Can’t Believe That Worked!
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!
Ah, the wonders of improbability and disbelief. We’ve all gone through it, I’m sure. Trying something, winging it, and completely unsure of the results.
This could be as easy as trying a recipe and just throwing ingredients in the pot, praying they come out well. You’re so used to doing it one way, but feel like changing it up with the new spices you’ve acquired. Then your heart races as you get someone to taste test it, only to find out, hey, it’s really good! Too bad you can’t remember everything you did to it. Perhaps you would choose to explore the idea of a crew stuck in space for longer than anticipated, and having to constantly jury rig every repair, never actually knowing if it’ll work or not, though always pleasantly surprised when it does. Maybe you could even write about things you still can’t believe work, yet they always do. Like you’ll never understand how, if you’re in a sour mood, your best friend saying “beepboop” in their deepest, most serious tone always seems to make you laugh, no matter how upset you were before. You even try to hold it in, but they just get more intense with how they say it, and then you can’t resist anymore.
There’s also the side of this where you hope whatever is being attempted doesn’t work, like a mage coming across a long lost friend, only to find them attempting some ancient form of necromancy. They hope and hope it won’t work, because they know what would happen if it did, maybe they even try to interfere… but those lights are getting awfully bright, aren’t they? Maybe you decide on the story of a villain who has come up with some new, convoluted invention to fight the hero, but part of them hopes that they’ll be beaten again, only to find out this new weapon works far better than they had expected it to. It could even be something as simple, and as complicated, as making a phone call to someone you haven’t spoken to in too long, and you’re conflicted inside about whether or not you want them to answer the phone, and ending up surprised when you finally hear that click and a faint “… Hello?”
As always, there are endless possibilities to this prompt. It’s all up to you what ideas you choose to write about. Maybe try your hand at a new genre, something outside your usual.
Who knows? It just might work.
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
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- 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).
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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).
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- 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.
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Comments on this post that aren’t submissions will be deleted, except for replies/reviews left on existing submissions.
“Come on you two slowpokes,” said Nick as he moved through the deep green thick forest, light on his feet. “Hold on Nick we’re coming!” said Velda. “Come on Sam let’s go!” she said, “Alright I’m coming!” said Sam tiredly struggling to keep up “Come on guys, hurry up!” echoed Nick’s voice through the forest. It was a bright sunny day with a nice cool breeze.
After three minutes of running through the forest…” We’re here, this is it “said Nick cheerfully. “Alright Nick, what did you desperately want us to get out of our seats from playing D&D to see?” said Velda triggered. “Yeah Nick,” said Sam out of breath “what did you want to look at?” “This! “said Nick. He then pointed to a plain green leafed bush. “This is it,” said Velda. “This is what you wanted to show us, Nick. A regular plain bush?!” she said angrily “Yeah Nick what the heck man” said Sam also upset. “I know what you are thinking, Nick it’s just a bush it’s nothing special, and your right but if pull these back you’ll see…” Nick then pulled back the bushes and revealed a large hole going into a humongous turquoise cave with pockets of medium lighting. “A masterpiece,” said Velda and Sam in astonishment. “Nick this is beautiful,” said Velda amazed. “Yeah, but why are we staring let go in and get a closer look,” said Nick as he slides down the crevasse of the cave.
“Yeah, but how are we going to get down?” Velda said “Just use your Animal Spirits to get down” echoed Nick “But you’re not using yours!” shouted Velda. “I have super regeneration remember” Nick echoed back. “Alright, we’ll be right down!” shouted again Velda “Ready Sam,” she said as she showed her Morpher. “Ready”, Sam said confidently. “Ok let’s do it,” she said, “Animal Spirit Power Up!” With a signal of motions Velda then pressed the center button on her Morpher and transformed into her Power Ranger like suit with the animal Ocelot imprinted on her helmet, arms, legs, boots, and her chest. “Let’s move,” she said as she slid down the same crevasse Nick did. “Right behind you,” Sam said doing the same thing Velda did but instead of and Ocelot he had a Cheetah for his suit. They quickly made their way down the cave in quick fashion.
Nick made it to the bottom of the cave out of breath. “What took you so long”
Nick then looked over his shoulder and saw the two of his teammates leaning on a couple of large rocks looking smug right at him.
“But-how-huh-when-WHAT!” Nick said complexed and upset.
Sam and Velda giggled at Nick super confused about how they got past him.
“Well…… I can’t believe that worked”
By Adrian Solorio
“‘Been a good one, huh?” Jared asked the girl. “I been havin’ a few of those lately too. It’s a helluva thing these food shortages—seems like all the predators are taking it as an opportunity to prey on the weak.” He motioned at the bartender with two fingers in the air. Meanwhile smoke, haze, and a low conversational hum hung over the room. From crowded tables glasses clinked, and an old love song played on the jukebox. A group of sinewy men and women played pool, and occasionally their hoarse voices erupted in argument, laughter, or both. Jared looked over at the girl secretly. “Ever’things gone to hell. Best we can do is find pleasure in any little thing we can–while we can. Won’t be long ‘fore there’s nothing left.”
The girl moaned and worked her fingers into her temples. Jared licked his lips. Since stumbling into the bar he’d watched her. She was just his type. Young and alone. He stared at her bare legs and his mouth watered. Since she was drunk, it would make things easier. Her thin body swayed like a branch blowing in the wind.
“Can’t be no good for a headache being in a place like this,” Jared said. “What you need is a place with plenty of food. I got plenty of food over my place, more than I can eat.”
At the mention of food the girl dropped her hands and for the first time stared at Jared. Her eyes were ravenous and she didn’t appear drunk anymore. “Where?”
When Jared closed the door everything changed. It’d been a long time since he’d had young flesh. His lips peeled back from his teeth and he lunged at the girl, snarling as he reached for her thin neck. But before he could grab her, she turned, quick and sharp, and in her hand she held an ice-pick pulled from some hidden fold in her clothes. As the ice-pick ripped into his chest Jared howled, realizing too late that things had only been easy because the girl was a predator herself.
The Deadfire Manoeuvre (Corespace Universe)
By Calliope Rannis
Ember had been very bored when she had taunted two poorly-hidden Pirate Ambush Interceptors into chasing her ship across the asteroid field. Now she was regretting it, not least because they had both just fired heat-seeking missiles at her.
She immediately slammed the thrusters up to maximum speed and dived into a hail of rock, debris slicing past her craft with hull-tearing velocity as she tried to divert the missiles harmlessly into an obstacle. It wasn’t working as she hoped though – these projectiles were fancier than she would expect from simple pirates, because they clearly had obstacle avoidance within their tracking computers, dodging the mass of rocks just as well as her.
“You damn knuckleheads.” Ember muttered to herself, trying to calm her nerves. “Do you bozos even know how valuable those missiles are? You could have sold them for more credits than you’d ever get from my scrap.” She took another hard turn through a narrow gap between rocks, but the missiles easily adapted to the trajectory change.
This wasn’t working. Time for something drastic.
Glimpsing a clear space in the debris, Ember sprang into action. She slammed the thrusters into reverse, rapidly slowing the ship, before quickly turning the nose towards the clear space. Then, in a quick one-two action, she fired the forward thrusters in a single abrupt blast, before immediately flooding the engine with coolant, activating the emergency shutdown.
The ship went dark, the momentum of the final thruster flare sending her ship cleanly into open space. Looking back from her cockpit window, Ember saw the missiles’ relentless pursuit slow, as their tracking tried and failed to find her – and they found another source of heat to track instead.
Specifically, they found each other, their explosion shattering the asteroids around them.
Ember breathed a big sigh of relief, even as she rapidly worked to wake her ship back up. “I’m sorry Keyla.” She said, stroking the ship console reassuringly. “I won’t do that too often, don’t worry…”
Then, with a flare of light and fire, Ember and her ship flew off, leaving her pursuers far behind.
Chronicles of The Dragon: The Direct Approach
Rabat stood at the corner of the street, leaning against a pole, ostensibly waiting for the bus.
But his eyes were fixed on the museum across the street.
“We could go in through the roof,” he said quietly to his companion. “I know the skylight opens. I’m not sure how we’d get back up though. I don’t think I can jump that high and I know you can’t.”
The small cat-girl sitting on the nearby bench, hunched into herself and picking at her coat, sniffed at that.
“We could try picking the locks, but they’re all electric and I don’t know where we could get something for that.”
“Why don’t we just go in the front door?”
“Because that’s stupid.” He rubbed at his chin for a bit, “We could try sneaking in with a delivery…we don’t have much time to figure that out though.”
“This is dumb. I’m just gonna go knock on the door and get them to let me in,” and she hopped off the bench and dashed across the street.
“Berri!” Rabat snapped, “Get back here…” he trailed off and growled, “What the fuck is she doing?”
He fought the urge to run after her, since she was already knocking on the glass door and he could see a security guard coming over.
He couldn’t hear what was being said, but she was gesturing and pointing at things a lot.
And then the guard unlocked the door and let her in.
He started to walk with her, then she held up a hand and darted off. He looked like he was going to follow, but gave up almost immediately.
“What the fuck is she doing?” more intrigued than angry now.
He stood, and waited, and watched.
And then she was back, talking with the guard, who opened the door for her.
Berri came running back, and Rabat asked, “So did you get it?”
“Yeah,” and she held out an amulet. He reached for it and she snatched it back, “You’re gonna buy me dinner now, right?”
“Yeah, sure,” he said, nodding, “You did good.”
“Wavering Blue” (Repost from private)
By Shea (Inky Jackalope)
“Cian, I don’t-”
Ahi could feel his heart begin to race and his breath become staggered as the man attempted to bring him near the ocean, to which he quickly ripped his hand out of Cian’s and fled away from it. He knew it, there was no way he could do this, it wouldn’t work. Even though he wanted to get over this fear so badly, his trembling frame was evidence enough that it was impossible.
The way the man said his name never failed to bring him clarity. Cian was there for him, reminding him no matter how many times he required it. Letting out a shaky sigh, Ahi turned back to face him. He was smiling, his cobalt eyes soft as the sky.
“Let’s try walking out with you on my back, so you can hold onto me if it becomes too much.” If it had been anyone else, the redhead would have declined immediately…but he could hear the sincerity in Cian’s voice. Silently, Ahi gave a nervous nod, to which his boyfriend turned around and lowered himself before him.
Once Cian had a good grip on his legs and Ahi properly secured himself with arms around the man’s neck, he began to walk towards the water. His heart wouldn’t slow it’s beat as his boyfriend’s feet were engulfed by the blue, and the sound of splashing water filled him with panic once more. It was the same panic he had felt as the waves crashed over him when he was 12, nearly bringing him to a suffocating end.
“N-no, please, Cian!”
As soon as he cried out, Cian halted. Ahi felt embarrassment, his feet were barely touching the water and yet he was a tearful, gasping mess. “I-I knew it, I knew I couldn’t, I didn’t think this was going to work and it didn’t…”
“Don’t say that, Sea Star. We made it this far, didn’t we? I’m proud of you.”
Ahi gasped softly in realization. He was right, wasn’t he? Cian turned his head and gave him a reassuring peck on the cheek.
“Let’s go back to shore.”
I Can’t Believe That Worked!
The walls were dark and murky. It was like a maze. In the ceiling there were these innumerable long white tubes of light that flashed both bright and dim… obviously just to torture the damned. The entire place had a sort of soulless vibe to it. Humans walked about in a sort of mindless state. Doing whatever tedious task had been assigned to them by the superior demons and tormentors. Many of them looked as if they had forgotten they had ever been alive. Their bodies appeared as if they had decomposed beyond recognition. You could almost smell the rot in their brains… although that smelled strangely of disinfectant.
Ducking around a corner, Straxx took in a huge gulp of air. “I can’t believe that worked!”
“I know,” replied Pustule, wiping the sweat from his brow. “We just told them we were imps and they let us right it. Stupid door guards. We only had to throw a couple of coins in a box. What an ingenious plan.”
“The coins must be a tribute for the head demons,” Straxx noted. In all, this was the strangest sight he’d seen since the two goblins had fallen afoul of that sorcerer. They were almost run over by a car and saw something called a Starbucks. But he felt a sweeping sense of euphoria spread over his small green body. His long, pointed ears twitched. He steadied himself. They could see it up ahead.
“What does it say?” asked Pustule.
Straxx smiled. “It says ‘exit’.”
“I don’t know why I ever doubted you, Straxx,” Pustule was equally ecstatic. “We’re going to escape from hell itself.”
Then the two goblins ducked through the door under the sign and emerged into the light. There they found an ordinary-looking, undecayed human. He must have just recently died.
“How did you like it?” he asked.
Straxx squinted at the human. “Like what?”
“The charity funhouse?” He said, as if the answer was obvious. He crossed his arms over his chest. “I hear it filled with people in zombie makeup this year. Was it any good?”
Coffee Saves Lives
By Karl Aegnor
It is a common misconception that goblins are small, green humanoids that are commonly found in trash cans. Those are actually gremlins. Often, when one heard complaints about goblins in the trash, they would actually end up dealing with gremlins. One thing nobody would expect when dealing with such pests would be a troll, and yet here Rupert was, huddled behind a trash can as the green-skinned brute thrashed about the campground.
None of the guests seemed to be in real danger yet, but one never could tell with a troll. They were stupid as they were temperamental. Julia ran back from down the path and sheltered behind a rock, crossbow in one hand, latte in the other.
“Thank heavens,” Rupert said, as Julia tossed him the crossbow. He stood up and took a shot, hitting the beast below the armpit. It stopped and looked toward him before letting out an ear-shattering roar. Rupert crouched back down and fumbled as he tried to reload. He was not being paid enough for this.
“That didn’t seem to work!” Julia yelled over the approaching footsteps.
“I missed!” Rupert just got the string pulled back, and was ready to load when a hand smacked his cover away from behind him, and he was left staring up at that over-sized, snarling, ugly face. ‘I suppose nineteen years was a good enough run’, He thought. Then, something crashed into the troll’s cheek and splashed across its face. Was it bleeding? No, this was a brown liquid. Coffee?
It seemed to placate the creature, as it lapped it up vigorously, and the park’s beast control was on the scene not long after. Rupert looked at Julia, who seemed as surprised as he was. “What just happened?”
Julia shrugged, “Some people think that offerings of cream can keep fairies at bay, and I remember being told that trolls originally came from that realm, so I improvised.”
Rupert laughed, “I guess I owe you one.”
“One latte, to be precise.” Julia retorted as she began to walk away, “Two shots, whole milk. I’ll be at the entry booth.”
By RVMPLSTLTSKN (Fissure Library)
“But, my lady, there is an ethical argument to be made.”
“The fissure is catalogued. Is there any reason not to archive it, Cartographer?” Mornghynia asked. She tried to make it sound rhetorical.
Vrai was old, old enough that he had begun to grow hair. Sixty, perhaps. His pomegranate-colored fuzz was meticulously combed and he eschewed the usual headcovering their people wore in the Library. The Library was a static realm, tidally locked and dry sunward.
Mornghynia remembered her time in such a position at his age. He would want to gain and not lose what he had.
“Of course, my lady, but this is a change we have never recorded. A native ascendenc—.”
“A threat,” she said. “I’m not the only one concerned, Vrai. We don’t know what happened.”
“Which is exactly why we need to study it. Help the survivors.”
She closed her eyes. “Vrai, that is foolishness. We have no idea the implications of this incident nor if our knowledge is still true.”
“But they need help, guidance. Surely you would want the same in their position.”
She understood him. His argument was humanitarian, but naïve. “If my people chose to fashion a new god, I wouldn’t want the old powers or unknown peoples coming in to interfere in our lives.”
“But they didn’t choose this!”
She stared at him. She wasn’t the smiling type, especially not when she was right or when others made a mistake.
Vrai seemed to realise his mistake. He pawed his hair back and eyed her braid.
“How many realms have we mapped, Cartographer? How many of those fissures have been archived?”
“The dangerous few. Those we’ve contaminated blindly, such as the Dead Realm with those traitors.”
“And those Realms which pose a clear threat. Such as this ‘Crib’ as you’re calling it.” She came close to him, too close for his comfort. “Archive it.”
He shied away from her approach, the hem of her gossamer dress wafting on his toes. “Yes, my lady.”
She watched him leave, grateful she wouldn’t have to go into the archives to locate a suitable punishment.
But why rocks?
”But sir, I assure you this piece of equipment is among the best of the best in the intervals colonies.” Said the human merchant.”I have also offered it at half price and your representative agreed on it”.
”That might be true, but by Grats”ii, what am I supposed to do with this.” said the Tarki bureaucrat ”Its the size of the space port itself.” He said, raising his hands above his reptilian head.
”Well according to the contract sign over the acquisition and measurement of the material, it had being establish in humans meters as shown here and here.” The human merchant pointed to his pad. ”I understand the meter change for the galactic chamber of commerce but it was clear from our perspective.” The human readjust his turban to cover his left shoulder.
”This is foul play, human. Disgracious for your kind to abuse such a minute issue. You can clearly see the problem, can’t you? Was it only the size it would be one thing, but the material…”
”They are the highest quality. None better. Directly from the mines of Aswan and will last for centuries if properly maintain, which is another thing that you have requested to talk about.” Cuts in the salesman
” Yes but in due time. We need to fix the first issue. What am I supposed to do with this.” Pointed the reptile at the window.” It was supposed to be annexed to the station in 3 days. With this it would take months to simply move it and avoid leaving particle circling without risking damaging incoming vessel and leaving ones.” The reptile man, with a sigh of defeat, lowered his hands back to their resting place.
”Yes yes, but with proper maintenance practically no particle will leave its surface. We offer such maintenance with the construction but it require payment for it to be applied…”
”Payment!? You want payment for this….this….what’s your word for it?”
”A pyramid, Representative Cor’sss, and with proper conditioning it will last millennia”
”But why rocks?”
Just Like a Charm
“Just a press…” Karma said, pressing the button on it’s head. A beep rang out, and the robot came to life. “Hello!” it spoke as it waved, and Karma stood back.
“Hah! Hahaha! Oh my god! It’s finally done!” Karma squealed, jumping up from her chair. Down beside her, a robot sat on the table.
She picked up the robot, and ran over to the living room.
“Kari, Celeste, look at this!” exclaimed Karma, holding it up in front of her.
“You just press this button, and… boom!” pressing the red button on the top caused a beep followed by a voice. “Hello!” it spoke again, and it waved once more.
“Oh, dude!” Kari yelled. “Can it do more?” she asked, staring at the screen.
Celeste glared at it, unsure of what to make of it. “What… is that, Karma?” she finally asked. “Is it dangerous?”
Karma looked dejected. “It’s NOT dangerous, and it won’t blow up this time! I promise!” she objected.
Kari looked up at Karma. “So, back to my original question, what else does this do?” she said, glancing back down at it.
Setting it down on the table, Karma looked at the screen. She examined it, and gave a command.
“Gidget, shake hands.” she said softly, and it extended one of its little arms. Karma took hold of it, and shook its hand. The screen changed, and the eyes tilted upwards, closing to form a pleased expression. “It’s nice to meet you, I’m Gidget!” it said.
Kari looked at Karma, astonished. “I… I can’t believe it! That’s so cool!” she exclaimed, jumping from excitement. “Good job, Karma!” she said.
Celeste stood up, and walked over to it. “Does it listen to anyone?” she asked, before bending down to it’s level. Gidget turned it’s head to meet her gaze.
“Tell it to speak,” Karma said. “It might do something.”
Celeste looked up at Karma, and turned back to Gidget. “Gidget, please speak.” she said, softly and slowly. “What do you want to talk about?” its robotic voice said. “H-how?” Celeste asked
“Practice.” Karma said.
By Mango Gravy
“It worked.” Tertao muttered.
“By the tome, it worked.” Merlon agreed.
They both jumped for joy, knocking over chairs in the collider control room. The two had been hard at work for years trying to create a stable Grund particle at 100% efficiency, occasionally renting the Large Wonksgrund Collider to test new parameters. Many cycles of failure and tweaking had finally culminated in this moment.
“I told you 1.21 testatts would do it!” Merlon said.
“Oh no.” Tertao muttered as she looked at the pixie dust simulacrum of the Grund particle.
Merlon paused, “What’s the matter?”
“It isn’t stationary.”
Merlon stumbled over to the pixie dust simulacrum and watched as the Grund particle remained stable, electron cloud pulsing regularly. But the dust readings clearly indicated motion, and residues of unused reagents. An inefficient synthesis. The residues and the motion would interfere with the cloud which meant…
The particle collapsed.
Merlon turned to his partner, “What did you do?”
Tertao flipped open her notebook and pointed at a heavily underlined sentence, “I put an additional milligram of wabbajuice into magnetospheric haptosplicer.” She threw the book to the ground, “AS WE AGREED!”
“No, you ponytailed idiot,” Merlon fired back, “we weren’t supposed to test the wabbajuice hypothesis wasn’t until after we’d seen the effects of a higher power level!” He frantically scratched at his beard. “I can’t believe you did this!”
“I just completed this project, you dolt,” Tertao said. “The extra wabbajuice would have stabilized the orbitals without needing a higher activation energy.”
“Which is why we needed to find the appropriate testatt level for orbital resonance without upregulated dipolic adhesive!”
Tertao threw up her arms, “Now we have to run another cycle with the original testatt input to prove that my calculations were correct.”
“We can only afford one more cycle,” Merlon slammed his foot on the ground and pulled a wand out of his sleeve, “And we’re testing the higher energy!”
“Over my dead body!” Tertao yelled, conjuring her staff.
“BY ALL MEANS!”
And so the fire of academic passion came to blows.
Calm Down, it’s Just Physics (Amalgam Universe)
C. M. Weller
When there’s no alternatives, they said, a Human will find one. What they didn’t mention, Ambassador Phri’aabl realised too late, was that Human’s inspired desperation could not be believed even after they were seen.
In this case, deliberately puncturing a flexible joint in their own livesuit and judiciously directing the jets of escaping air to steer them to the relative safety of the rest of the ship. Which was, considering everything that had just happened, in remarkably good condition.
The aft had been sliced cleanly through. Human Steve, holding tight to Phri’aabl, was aiming them towards one of the intact internal airlocks.
This was the exact reason why plasma stream weaponry had been banned. Very little stopped it, especially not the target. The shot that sliced the ship in twain could have been fired centuries ago, and was sailing onwards with its original vector undisturbed. They would have to report it to specialised teams so they could clean it up.
Teams aboard the ship had scrambled, some firing grapples at the drifting aft, others scooping up crew who had auto-deploying livesuits. Those who did not had already been fielded by the ships’ micrometeor and debris defense systems. Casualty lists would be happening much later.
Phri’aabl opened the comms to Human Steve. “How are your air levels?”
“Good enough,” said the Ships’ Human. “Don’t worry. I’ve seen this done before.”
It was only once they were inside, and Steve removed his helmet that the truth came out. He waited until AFTER the medical team reassured the Ambassador’s health and wellbeing before cheering, “It worked! It really worked!”
“Pardon? You said that you had seen your trick performed before.”
“I have,” said Steve. “On an entertainment file from the archives. The physics was sound and livesuits have improved since the era of making… and it’s my job to see you safe, so… I did what I had to.”
“You bet your life on something from fiction?” Phri’aabl was very glad of her medication. “How old WAS it?”
“Um… seventy-something years before the Terran Expansion?”
Humans. They needed warning signs posted on them.
Subside (Sword Isles)
By Connor A.
Death sat on the ground and muttered the words to the fire spell under his breath. He watched the lavender in his hands begin to burn, then hummed at the realization that he only had one bottle of it left. While it was one of the cheaper components, it was clear from how fast he went through it that this method was not working for him.
He needed something else to occupy his hands.
The last of the flames died away, leaving Death with the sight of deep lines running along his bones and the smell of lavender. As he took note of the little progress they made towards recovery, he heard someone open the door to the study and jumped. The initial shock faded when he saw Marcos leaning against the door frame.
“Wow, burning stuff so close to paper,” Marcos spoke with enough exaggerated shock to let Death know he was joking, “I didn’t know you were such a dangerous man.”
Death tilted his head in quiet gratitude. He was about to look away when a thought crossed his mind. “May I… try something?”
Marcos straightened up and walked over to where Death sat. “Something you’re working on?”
“In a way.”
Marcos mimicked Death’s criss-cross position on the floor. “Lay it on me.”
Once Death recognized the dread in his gut, he could not ignore it. The urge to try backing out gnawed at his mind. Before he could do that, he reached out and took Marcos’ hands in his. There were a few seconds of silence, which were enough for Death to worry more.
Then Marcos gave a gentle squeeze. “I’m here, bud.”
It was not a magic cure, but Death’s shoulders released some of their previous tension and the sense of building dread subsided a little.
That enough was worth something.
Swiss Army Shuttle Thruster (Forsaken Universe)
By Alex Nightingale (aka Spectre)
“This is your idea of a replacement stove?” Michael asked, indicating the thruster they had scavenged from a broken shuttle.
“Unless you have a better idea,” Morae replied, trying to navigate the tools, more numerous than the volcanoes on her home world and that was saying something.
“Well… no, but shuttle thrusters don’t exactly have a ‘simmer’ setting.”
“Oh, don’t be a wuss,” she pointed at the tools. “Now, would you help me please? I only did the minimum engineering requirements.”
“That explains, why you’re trying to use a Type 6 screwdriver on a Type 4 screw.”
“I know what I’m doing.”
“Do you? No, no, no. Let me…”
“I got this!”
“No, don’t use your finger. Do you even know what a tool is?”
“I’m talking to one.”
“Funny. Now, let me.”
“You just… Keep focused on the fuel dispenser.”
As she said that, a flame erupted from the thruster.
“I made a miscalculation! Just give me a second!”
“What are you…? NO! Michael, don’t use water! That’s burning fat!”
“Sorry! I… forgot.”
“Forgot? Michael, we are trying to improvise a stove, not incinerate you and mildly inconvenience me.”
“I’m a ceran. I’m fireproof. Or… well, to an extent. At least, it takes a lot more heat than this to even lightly scorch me. Would you please put the water away? You’re making me nervous.”
“I thought you were fireproof.”
“Yes, but you are not. Besides, neither are these clothes. And I don’t think the rest of the crew would forgive us, if we incinerated the kitchen.”
“True. We don’t want a repeat of last time.”
“I thought, last time the issue was that we showered the kitchen in ice water.”
“All the more reason not to do the same thing again with fire.”
Morae couldn’t help but chuckle.
“What now?” she asked.
“This,” Michael began to fidget with the engine. “Good thing we installed the regulator, before we set this thing on fire.”
The fire indeed died down, to both of their surprises.
“Huh,” Morae remarked. “First time for everything, I guess.”
Tis But a Flesh Wound…
Tears rolled down Matt’s cheeks as he forced his magic into the limp goddess. He knew it was a fruitless action but he didn’t know what else to do.
A reassuring hand rested on his shoulder. “Master… even you cannot heal death…” Said Mara.
“It was MY fault…” Matt choked out.
“No.” The demon shook her head, wrapping Matt in an embrace. “You tried to save her. The damage was… already done before you found her. You did your best.”
“My best!” Matt spat out. “What’s the point in all this power if THIS is my best?!”
As Matt’s familiar, Mara could literally feel his pain. Being there for him was all she could think to do. “Magic can’t solve everything… There are rules…”
“I don’t care!” Matt fumed. His sadness changed into fury as his eyes turned black. He then summoned so much power that it was rolling off him in waves. “Wake up. Wake up!”
“Master… you can’t-”
Aphrodite suddenly shot up with a gasp, panting for air as if she’d been underwater for ages.
“Unholy shit…” Mara swore as she released her embrace.
Meanwhile, Matt was beaming, giving Aphrodite a hug of his own. “Are you okay?!”
“Yes…” Aphrodite blinked, hesitantly returning the gesture. “…Are you?”
“I’m not the one who was dead a few seconds ago.”
“…exactly…” The goddess murmured, hugging Matt even tighter.
“Master… you just…” Mara began, her face a blend of fear and awe, “You just stole from Death.”
“I… assume that’s a big deal?” Matt raised a skeptical eyebrow.
“Yes!” Mara and Aphrodite exclaimed in unison.
“Not that I’m ungrateful for you returning my light.” Aphrodite reassured, smiling warmly. “I just don’t want you hurt or… worse, especially because of me…”
“It’s okay.” Matt sighed, his egregious use of magic finally catching up to him. “I’ll… cross that bridge when I get to it…”
“Master… it’s Death.” Mara insisted. “That bridge is going to cross YOU. Death is very… adamant about the rules. That you’re not dead right now is a miracle.”
Matt shrugged. “I dunno. Maybe Death likes me.”