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Author Topic: [AUG 2015] - Space Opera - Submission Thread  (Read 13217 times)

Offline xiagan

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[AUG 2015] - Space Opera - Submission Thread
« on: August 01, 2015, 10:48:02 AM »
Space Opera

"Perry Rhodan"

"Space opera is a subgenre of science fiction that emphasizes space warfare and often romantic, often melodramatic adventure, set mainly or entirely in outer space. It usually involves conflict between opponents possessing advanced abilities, futuristic weapons and other sophisticated technology."(wikipedia)

So Isaac Asimov's Foundation series, Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game or George Lucas' Star Wars are all space operas.

The term was coined by Wilson Tucker in 1941 and for him this was a "hacky, grinding, stinking, outworn, spaceship yarn". The mix of a cheap western and a soap opera put into space.

Back cover of Galaxy #1, October 1950

This gives you two interesting options.
On the one hand, you can write a cool and fantastic sci-fi story with space ships, aliens, etc. On the other hand, you can write a cheesy sci-fi cliché story Wilson Tucker would have detested. ;)

Both is a valid option and should lead to entertaining results. :)


1. This must be prose or poetry.
2. Must be recognizable as a space opera
3. Prose must be 500-1500 words long.
4. Poetry must be 100-500 words long.
5. One story per person or writing team (not per account).
6. You will be disqualified if you exceed the limits, full stop. That's why they're called limits.
7. Your entry can't be published somewhere else before.
8. This is a writing contest, not a "I have written something like this ten years ago" contest. So if you happen to have a story that fits one of the themes, I'd like it to have a mayor overhaul/edit. Work for it. ;)
9. Please add your story's word count and, if you have, your twitter handle.
10. Please put your story in [ spoiler ] tags to make the thread easier to handle. :) You can find them above the smileys next to the 'youtube' symbol.

Entry will close September 1st 2015 and voting will begin somewhere around the same time too.

Please post your entry below. All members are eligible to join. If you are not a member you can join here. Sign up is free and all are welcome! :)

The winner will have their piece displayed on the main Fantasy Faction website sometime in the next months.

Remember that this thread is only for entries. Discussion or questions can be posted here.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2015, 10:50:13 AM by xiagan »
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Offline Henry Dale

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Re: [AUG 2015] - Space Opera - Submission Thread
« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2015, 06:28:58 PM »
First in this time.
Hope the formatting keeps up on here.

Number of words: 1121 says Word
Title: Terminus goodbye

Spoiler for Hiden:
Day 437
"This is EFS Terminus, log note concerning our voyage to Antares sector.
Entered orbit around uncharted moon, new serial number YG-424. We sent in a probe for a sample. Daisy will be back with us in 2 hours."
Commander Neil Johannson paused for a moment. He'd given every probe a name, just to tell them apart. Of course those Federation lab monkeys wouldn't get it. He pulled up a sheet and read loudly, with a slightly sarcastic undertone.
"That is probe, sign... Alfa, Tango, Kilo, Uniform. Johannson out, time for a break, good night."

Day 438
"This is EFS Terminus, log note concerning our voyage to Antares sector.
Probe came in overnight, automatic coupling still holds. So far everything holds. There's a slight rattling in the cooling tube. Might be some dust. We'll get it checked back on Earth. The specimen Daisy brought in is fascinating. I've never seen a rock like this, almost like a pearl, but god does it smell! Reminds me of the goats at home at dad's farm. I miss those days..."
Neil sighed... home, it was an odd concept. Here he was in dead space, god knows where for years on end. Would he still recognize everyone? Sammy, Doc, ...Daisy? He looked at the iridescent stone. Here he was, gathering space rocks and exploring the frontier. Was this the right place?

Day 439
"This is EFS Terminus, log note concerning our voyage to Antares sector.
Not much to report. Tests commenced on the stone haven't yielded any results yet. I'm waiting for news from home, guys? Do I get a transmission?"
Neil banged the recorder, which was pointless.
"Oh well, one can hope. Johannson out. Oh, and the cooling tube is rattling worse. Shouldn't give too much trouble. We'll make it."

Day 440
"This is EFS Terminus, log note concerning our voyage to Antares sector.
The results of the pearlstone have returned. Apparently it's pretty harmless so I'll just stack it with the rest tonight. It'll give you guys something to chew on when I get back. Spent the day polishing Daisy up with soap. God I remember giving baths to lil' Dais back on Earth. She'd just flood the bathroom with soap and water. Should've been pissed but you can't be at the little girl. Is this thing still on?"
Neil shut down the recorder and pulled himself through the narrow ship to his bunk.
Pushing aside a playboy he ran his fingers over the pictures of his family.

Day 441
"This is EFS Terminus, log note concerning our voyage to Antares sector.
We're approaching a collapsing gas giant. I know I should send one of the probes out to investigate but I don't want to risk them. Not gonna risk my family. I mean, the probes."
Neil flicked off the recorder's switch rapidly. That had been a tongue slip. He pulled himself back towards his bunk. The cooling tube was still trembling. In an odd way. Thum thum thum, thumm thumm thumm, thum thum thum. Sos? Help me? He ran his fingers along the ice cold tube and the trembling stopped, then began anew, vigorously. It came from down at the generator. He pulled and pushed his way back to the exit chute and grabbed a flashlight from one of the space suits. Back at the generator, he pried and hammered at the lid covering the coolant unit.
"Hello? Is someone in there?"
His voice echoed back at him as if someone were asking him the question. Neil shivered and pulled at the lid. It shot open with kadang and a cloud of pearly dust floated along with it. He coughed. Goddammit!

Day 442
"This is EFS Terminus, log note concerning our voyage to Antares sector.
I think I got a cold from inhaling that dust in the coolant unit. Hope it doesn't get too bad. Worst thing is, the cooling tube is still trembling so I don't know what causes the problem. Ah well, you guys aren't much of a help either."
As Neil turned off the recorder, at that moment the lighting gave a buzz and failed him.
Oh fuck, just my luck. Where's that flashlight? He bumped and grabbed his way towards the space suits where he rummaged for the lantern. Where is that bloody thing? Oh right, back down at the coolant unit. He carefully ran his hands along the walls, trying to remember how to get there blindly. Good thing he was so used to the ship's design after all this time. He bumped into something. From the faint light that came from the object, he could make out it was the generator. At least that still worked, for now. The flashlight met his hand when he almost fell over the coolant unit. Apparently the light had floated up there in the darkness. After a couple of brief stutters, the torch finally decided to give a fair beam and he shone it across the ship.
Thum thum thum, thumm thumm thumm, thum thum thum. The incessant trembling of the tube didn't help. Help me, someone screamed inside him. I'm still out here. He looked outside, only saw the reflection of his own pale face in the thick glass, black space beyond.
A tremor, a snap of cords by his bunk and the image of his family flying in collision course with his head. He didn't feel the sharp edge of the frame or the breaking of glass. All went black for Neil.

Day 4XX
"This is EFS Terminus, log note concerning our voyage to Antares sector."
Neil churned the words out in good faith. Hoping someone would listen. He didn't know whether the recorder could even work or not.
"Power has failed completely... It's dark. I don't know the day, was knocked out by...by a portrait from my bunk? Cooling tube keeps trembling despite any lack of power. We're floating dead out here. Help me, I'm still out here. Temperature is dropping rapidly, I try to use blankets but my sickness has weakened me. Daisy keeps crying, she wants her mom. I keep trying to console her. The mission has failed. Terminus is at its end now. Antares is far off."

"This is EFS Terminus, log note concerning our voyage to... wherever?
I fed Daisy the last of my food this morning so she stops crying. I'll have to go look for more supplies soon. There's nothing in here anymore so my only option is out there. Sometimes I see lights out there so there must be something, right? Right? Might be cold, but I- I got a coat. I'll take Daisy and the others with me just in case. We're leaving. Terminus out, goodbye."
« Last Edit: August 05, 2015, 01:54:18 PM by Henry Dale »

Offline tebakutis

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Re: [AUG 2015] - Space Opera - Submission Thread
« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2015, 03:46:12 AM »
Here we go. I apologize if this story seems a bit rough - the idea popped into my head and I wanted to get it down while it was fresh.

On another note, I got not just one, but two story concepts from trying to brainstorm "space opera", and there's another percolating as I type. So, awesome.

Story Title: "Hitting the Arch"
Word Count: 1,054
Twitter: @TEricBakutis

Spoiler for Hiden:
When the enemy bombardment finally stopped, it left Captain Diego Harker's scout ship drifting in the void. He ran his hands through his black hair and waited. They had evaded the enemy fleet. Now, they had to warn their own.

"Give me our energy reserves." Together, their shields and engines had burned unprecedented mass. His ears still rang from the impacts, but they were alive.

"We're empty, cap," Carter said. Diego's XO was all bare skull, bent frame and hard eyes. "It's all burned."

Without the shielding from their universal reactor, any further impact would turn their ship to scrap. That had been a big enemy fleet. "Suggestions?"

Laster spoke first. "We can burn anything for fuel, right? Let's burn our rations." He was nineteen, fresh out of gunnery school. He shaved his head to look like Carter and that pissed Carter off.

"That much mass would get us two burns." Carter steepled his meaty fingers. "Three, if we're lucky."

"Not enough." Woo rubbed at his eyes. The math to elude the enemy fleet had almost finished him. "To hit the archway we need at least thirty, and what would we eat?"

"Each other," Laster quipped. No one laughed.

"What about our bulkheads?" Woo asked. "Can't we pull off some scrap?"

"You pull anything off the inside of this ship, you'll kill us all!" Mainard was a good engineer, but he had a temper. "We're built lean. Nothing here can burn."

"If we don't close the archway," Diego reminded them, "the Imps will bombard Ariadne and God knows who else. Woo, how's our path on the arch?"

"What path? We can't path without mass." Sweat glistened on Woo's forehead. "With the frequency this particular archway jumps around, we'll never hit it."

"So we guess," Carter said. "Burn once a day, split the difference between the archway's position today and tomorrow."

"That's a sixteen percent chance!" Woo snapped.

"Do it," Diego ordered anyway.

It didn't work. The archway skipped five times in twenty hours. Diego and Carter split a ration inside Diego's tiny cabin.

"We need more mass." Carter chewed. They both knew what that meant.

Diego saw no other options. "I'll tell the crew."

"They'll mutiny, cap."

"They won't. We owe them the truth."

"At the cost of Ariadne?"

"I'm not feeding anyone to this ship without explaining why. I'll lead by example."

"Don't be an idiot." Carter scowled and rubbed his bald head. "You go last if you go at all."

"I'm not killing my crew in their sleep!"

"They'll understand when it's over."

"We'll draw straws." They broke the news on the bridge when they rationed out that day's water.

Woo had already figured it out. Mainard looked like he was going to blow chunks, but he didn't. Laster was oddly introspective about the whole thing.

"But, a human ... a body, I mean. How many burns do we even get?"

"Eight to ten," Woo said.

"You said we needed thirty."

"Learn to multiply."

"Enough." Diego held out the straws. They were actually strips of Crack-Seal. "If the Imps were gunning for your families, would you give your lives to stop them?"

Woo nodded. Laster did too. Mainard didn't. "There has to be another way."

"Name it." Diego waited a bit.

Carter drew the short straw. If mutiny was on the crew's mind, Diego trusted no one else to watch him while he slept. They all went to the reactor room together.

"I've got a daughter," Carter said before he stepped inside. "On Ariadne's moon."

Diego's throat went dry. "You never said one word."

"Didn't matter then. Her info's in my file. Tell her I died saving the universe."

Laster sketched a salute. Mainard and Woo did too. Diego just squeezed Carter's shoulder. "She'll know."

Carter's body bought them nine burns. Diego didn't sleep that night. No one tried to kill him.

Now two days from the archway, Diego conferred with Woo. They had hit forty-two percent. The archway moved that night and Mainard drew the short straw. There was a scuffle.

"You can't do this!" Mainard shrieked. It took Laster and Woo to muscle him to the reactor room. "It's murder!"

"I'm sorry." Diego snapped his holster open and made his face a mask.

"My wife's on Ariadne! Our son!"

Diego opened the reactor door. "They'll know."

Woo lost his grip and Mainard got an elbow free. He almost took Laster's head off before Diego shot him in the face. Mainard's body bought them nine burns.

With one day left, they got lucky - seventy-four percent on the archway. Laster pushed away the straws.

"You don't need me." He was too calm for nineteen, too ready to die. "You need command and navigation."

Diego shoved them at him. "Draw a straw."

"I'm married too, sir." Laster set his jaw. "The Imps will bomb her back to the dark ages."

"Captain." Woo grabbed his hand. "We're close, the math is simple. You do the burns. I'll draw for you."

Laster moved. Diego blocked him. "I said draw."

"Put in it my report." Laster held Diego's eyes.

Laster bought them nine burns, close enough to warn the archway ahead of the enemy fleet. Diego sent his report with a Commendation of Valor for all his crew, even Mainard. Then he sent a message to Carter's daughter.

As drones towed them in he and Woo sat on the empty bridge. The garrison captain guarding the archway had known Imps were in the system, but no one had known just how enormous the enemy fleet actually was. Retreating through the archway and collapsing it was their only option. That would keep Ariadne safe for decades.

"Captain," Woo said then. "You're from Helio Two."


"Family there?"

"Two sons. My wife is dead."

"If this archway leaves the network, it'll take two-hundred years to get back there at sublight."

"I know."

Woo sat back and interlaced his fingers behind his head. "I'm never getting married. Too much to lose."

"They're worth it," Diego said quietly. "They're the reason I can do this."

"Then I'm having five." Woo forced a false smile. "If two got you through this, I'm hedging my bets."

A rescue ship soon docked. They boarded. Together, they went through the archway one last time.

Diego never saw his sons again, but they knew.

« Last Edit: August 04, 2015, 03:56:22 AM by tebakutis »
T. Eric Bakutis, author of The Insurgency Saga

Offline RussetDivinity

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Re: [AUG 2015] - Space Opera - Submission Thread
« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2015, 04:03:51 AM »
This turned out slightly more horror than space opera, I think, but I've never tried writing this genre before. At 904 words, here's "Between Madness and Starlight".

Spoiler for Hiden:
The hospital gown had once been clean and white, but no longer. It was stained now with sweat, fruit juice, and blood. It crinkled and shifted with every movement, and it had begun to smell, but there was no time to do anything about it.

At least, it had been until very recently.

Grace knew she would be practically unrecognizable if any of her old friends would happen to see her. No longer was she Lieutenant Grace Franklin, rising star of the Academy and wonder of the Imperial Fleet. No longer was she the helmsman of the ISS Azalea, shooting up through the ranks and on the way to be the youngest captain in the history of the Terran Empire. Now she was a madwoman, or rumored to be so. Officially she was on indefinite medical leave with PTSD after what was best known as “the Leetch Incident”.

It had been more than enough to make anyone want to leave the Fleet. After all, who would want to stay after they had been trapped on a shuttle with a captain slowly losing his mind? It would have been insanity to stay, not to leave, and sometimes she wondered whether that meant the Fleet had gone mad, not her. (But that itself would be madness, she reminded herself. The best explanation – the only explanation she could allow herself – was that both of them were rational but simply looking at different sorts of truths. It was the sort of thing her captain had tried to teach her, back when she had first started on the Azalea.)

“I’m sorry, Diklah,” she whispered, thinking of the man’s easy smile, and how it had slowly turned manic during the weeks they were trapped together.

For a moment, she couldn’t remember why she was apologizing. (That, if anything, should have been the alarming thing. She had always been very nearly fastidious when it came to apologies.) Was it for her appearance? No, there was a good reason for that. Her short hair had grown tangled because there was no time to cut or comb it. The sweat came from running and having no time to track down the showers in the station, the juice came from tearing into plums and peaches as she was forced to eat on the run, and the blood…

Dear God, the blood.

It was hers. Some of it was, at least. She knew very well what dried blood looked like on white clothes; the white undershirt of her uniform had been coated in it by the time she and Diklah Leetch had made it to safety. Scars laced her chest and arms, since no one had bothered to properly treat them. But no… she had wanted them that way. She had wanted to remember.

Not all the blood was hers. Not all of it was the red-brown she was all too familiar with. Some was thicker and darker, and it smelled strange and impossible. It couldn’t be an impossible smell, she knew, for it was there, but every part of her mind rebelled against it, saying it was nothing she should have smelled in her life. It was nothing she could have encountered had she stayed on Earth. It was alien, in so many more ways than one.

Now she knew what it was that had made Diklah so frantic when he had come back from examining the supposedly empty ship. He had been babbling about ETs and other lives, but she had dismissed the words quickly. After all, humanity had encompassed most of the galaxy, and surely they would have encountered alien life by now. The only other place for life was in other galaxies, and it would be nearly impossible for aliens to travel so far. It was the most widely accepted science.

No one had counted on extradimensional travelers.

It was the only explanation Grace could think of. The aliens had seemed to simply appear, and the only reason she had escaped the first slaughter of the station had been because the psych ward was relatively safer than the rest. She was lucky, and from that luck had come the chance to use her survival training. She had managed to run and hide, and when she had the chance, she had managed to kill. It was no easier than it had been during the skirmish of Morrisworld. The only difference was that this time she had been fighting for her own survival rather than simply because Captain Leetch had ordered her to.

But it wouldn’t last for much longer. The fight against the aliens had lasted for days, but now the station seemed empty. They had destroyed the communications system, but there were still shuttles, and now Grace slipped through the station gathering food for her journey. Most of it was rations, but she did grab a few peaches, simply because she was very fond of peaches.

“I’m sorry, Diklah,” she whispered again, and this time she knew what she was apologizing for. She hadn’t believed him, and perhaps that had driven him mad.

But now the whole Empire would know what had happened. She had recordings of the aliens, and she would take every chance she could to spread them about. It was to clear her captain’s name, of course, but she also had to save the Empire.

By attacking, the aliens had made it very clear that they intended invasion.

Offline m3mnoch

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Re: [AUG 2015] - Space Opera - Submission Thread
« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2015, 08:18:37 PM »
ladies and gentlemen -- the first piece of sci-fi-ish writing i've ever done.

1500 words.  excluding title.

The Scoundrel.

Spoiler for Hiden:
The Scoundrel

Gavin Dara was a scoundrel.  He knew that.  Even more, he'd worked for years to build his reputation.

Still, he didn't have time to sit across from yet another fanboy.  He was only in Coni for a quick rok shot in its cantina while the Swallow was fueling up.

Actually, the kid wasn't that bad.  He was the marooned type.  The type of kid who was stuck on a backwater planet in an out-of-the-way quadrant of the galaxy.  The type of kid working in a place exactly like Coni Station.

Gavin couldn't blame him for gushing about sitting next to a famous space pirate.  He thought it would be pretty incredible to sit next to himself too.

Gavin smiled.

"Then what did you do?" asked the kid.  He leaned forward, his elbows on the small table.  His head was in his hands, eyes wide.  Their two drinks were sitting in the space between them.

The kid was laying it on pretty thick.  Playing the starry-eyed admirer.  Gavin had seen this before.  First came the over-the-top recognition and fawning.  Next came the begging for the untold stories.  Finally, it was the question.

Can I come with you?

Gavin wasn't even sure how the kid had found him.  Gavin had chosen the quietest table in the darkest corner for a reason.  The kid was a natural sleuth.

"Well, kid.  Like I said, there we were.  Half-crashed on the dark side of Brella with our starboard engine a smoking wreck.  This hulk of a cruiser class had just landed next to us, her forward guns still hot.  That's when Val shot out the hatch and..."

Blaster fire roared through the cantina.

Gavin flashed around in his seat, his hand immediately going to his hip blaster.  Across the bar, the last bits of light were flicker-fading from a holo-costume.  The nondescript human visage faded and was replaced by the Kozoth wearing it.

Gavin slowly turned back around to face the kid.  He didn't want to draw the thing's attention.  This was bad.

The kid sitting across the table from him was thinking same thing.  Gavin had thought his eyes were wide before at space pirate stories.  Now, they were the size of his fists.  Both fists together.

Yeah, kid, Gavin thought.  Kozoths are bad news.

"Where is Gavin Dara?" the thing snarled with enough force to send vibrations through the bar mirror.

Check that.  Kozoth's are terrible, awful, and soon-to-be painful news.

Most of that pain was due to a Kozoth being roughly the size of a space freighter and twice as armored.  With their thick gray hide, they were impossible to kill.  Blaster rounds ricocheted and bladed weapons bounced off.

The Kozoth was looking around the room.  Its large, flat head and fangs rotated around a neck gnarled with cords of muscle.  There wasn't a wall in this place that Gavin wasn't about to get smashed through.

Gavin kept looking at the kid.  He lifted a single finger to his lips in an effort to keep the frightened boy silent.

Seconds ticked by.

There was a low and guttural growl and Gavin felt hot breath and spittle spattered on the back of his neck.  Across from him, the kid was terrified and staring just above Gavin's head.

There was the sound of splashing on the ground beneath the table.  Great.  The kid is polishing his boots.

Gavin inched his empty hands out to the side and slowly brought them above his head.  He'd sung this tune before.  With deliberate caution, he stood up and shuffled around to face the monster.

"Nice to see you, Taxxu."

Taxxu roared.  The force of his breath blowing Gavin's hair flat.  It snatched the blaster from Gavin's holster with a clawed hand and tossed the weapon on the table.

"Hey man.  I didn't know she was your Chalisse.  She was cute.  Everyone knows you don't like cute.  Don't you remember that hideous thing we found you with on --"

Taxxu snarled and lowered the blaster to let the barrel rest on Gavin's forehead.

"Right.  I'll shut up now."  Gavin gave a weak smile, shrugged his shoulders, and turned his head to the side.

"Oh, hey.  My drink.  Can I at least finish my drink before you stomp me to a puddle?"

There was no give in the Kozoth's hard eyes.

"It'll make me squishier, ya think?"

Taxxu seemed to consider 'squishier'.  It smiled and pulled a knife with its free hand.  A knife that could be considered a longsword in polite societies.  Taxxu nodded to Gavin's glass on the table.

"Right.  Thanks."  Gavin turned and picked up the shot glass.  He glanced at the kid.  He was paralyzed.  Useless.

"Bottoms up!"  Gavin turned to face the angry Kozoth and sucked down the last of the rok in the glass.  Gavin winked.

Taxxu snarled again and pulled back its knife-sword.  It was going to power it through Gavin's guts.  The blaster was still leveled at Gavin's head.  There was an awkward, lip-split smile on Gavin's face.

Gavin breathed out hard.

The Kozoth dropped both weapons and snapped its hands up to the sides of its massive head.  It let out a devastating howl.

The monster collapsed to its knees and folded over onto the floor.  It was still breathing, but appeared unconscious.  Blood was dribbling from its eyes and ears.

"Welsh, shat wash closhe."  Gavin popped a small metal disk out of his mouth into his hand.  He sucked a bit of leftover saliva off the device and showed it to the kid.  It looked like a whistle.

"I just happened to have Val's wombat call on me.  Turns out, it's the same frequency the Ozon Slave Traders use to control these beasts.  I dropped it into the rok as I picked up my drink."

Gavin kicked a toe at the Kozoth's arm.  It didn't move.  "I found that trick out the hard way.  Remind me to show you the nasty scar I got for it."

Gavin knelt down and felt for Taxxu's pulse.  "Still alive.  But, man, the big guy's gonna be pissed."

There was a click and a soft whir behind him.  Seriously, kid?

Gavin looked over his shoulder and saw the kid standing next to the table, Gavin's pistol extended comfortably in one hand, business end pointed at him.  The kid casually kicked off the safety.

Gavin turned and stood up.  His hands raised up above his head for the second time in ninety seconds.  It was a bad night.  He frowned at the kid aiming the blaster at his head.

"Look who has the great Gavin Dara at pistol-point," the kid said.  "I was planning on simply subduing you.  Then, I saw how you handled that monster over there and decided against it.  I'm just going to shoot you.  Keech'll pay just as much for your dead body as your living one."

The kid was a bounty hunter.  Didn't see that one coming.

"You were just eating it up."  The bounty hunter raised his voice to a squeaky pitch, "Gee Mr. Dara!  You're so brave!  How did you ever get out of that jam?"  He laughed, guffawing at his own terrible joke.

The bastard has a lot to learn about witty one-liners.  Gavin was so irritated he almost caught himself looking towards the cantina entrance.  He was able to play the slight dart of his eyes into a disappointing head shake.

"Now that I think about it, I probably shouldn't shoot you in the face.  Keech'll want proof that you're you and I don't want anyone to doubt who killed the famous Gavin Dara."  The bounty hunter lowered the barrel to point at Gavin's heart.

Gavin glared at the young man.

"What?  Nothing witty to say?"  Everyone in the cantina was staring at the two of them.  It was still and silent.

A screech shattered the stillness.

There was a flash of movement near the entrance of the cantina and a streak of wombat fur raked across the muzzle of the blaster the bounty hunter was holding.  The weapon ripped out of his grip and flipped into the air to near where Gavin was standing.

The bounty hunter was fast.  Gavin's pistol was still in mid-flip as he was diving into his boot for his own weapon.  The bounty hunter whipped his blaster out and proceeded to point it at Gavin.

Fast, but Gavin was faster.  He snatched his own blaster out of the air, catching it upside down with his left hand, the barrel along his pinky.  He fired from pure reflex, his ring finger on the trigger.

The shot hit the bounty hunter's own pistol sending it flying out of his hand.

"You whistled, Gav?" the flying wombat squawked as it settled on a table.

"Thanks, Val."  Gavin faced the bounty hunter again.

"Never monologue, kid.  Not unless you're playing for time.  Or, obviously, unless you're me."  Gavin switched his blaster to his right hand, barrel up, and aimed it at the bounty hunter's face.

"I don't even feel bad about this."  He pulled the trigger.

edit:  fixed a formatting typo.

edit 2:  for some reason, i counted the words again, somehow it bumped up to 1502.  eek!  chopped back down.  also, i massaged the flying wombat thing a bit.

edit 3:  dammit!  fixing those other things, i lost my italics...  /sigh
« Last Edit: August 07, 2015, 07:28:12 PM by m3mnoch »

Offline SJBudd

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Re: [AUG 2015] - Space Opera - Submission Thread
« Reply #5 on: August 08, 2015, 10:21:31 PM »
Ok, so I'm not a big sci fi fan but I've had a go. I'm totally unfamiliar with this genre so had to look it up and according to Wikipedia, tv programmes like Doctor Who and Stargate are considered space opera. So I think this just about qualifies as space opera, I hope.

Anyway this is called Starlight, and is 1,239 words.


Spoiler for Hiden:


Rab bent his 18 year old step-daughters little finger back as far as it could go.


 “That will teach you to fight back.” He said and smacked her around the back of the head so that she fell hard upon the stone kitchen floor. Rab took off his belt and held it in his meaty hands. He grunted at the sound of Isolde’s mother coming back from her rounds as the village healer. Isolde quickly moved away from him. She was safe when mother was around.

Isolde fled in the garden, past the clucking hens, the vegetable patch and down to the bottom where the oldest oak in the village stood.

She’d had enough.

She rolled up her sleeves. There were dark bruises on her arms and legs, many more in her soul. Each day he grew worse. He used to just hit her but recently his tastes were becoming increasingly difficult to talk about. She needed to tell someone, but who would believe her? Since her grandmother had passed away last Samhain there was no one who she could confide in.

Isolde had no strength left. Her heart was empty. She felt nothing. She knew she was dead inside but there was a way out. Isolde looked up to a sturdy branch on the oak, confident that it would easily support her weight. She unwound the scarf from around her neck.

Across the garden in the meadow was Pickles playing with a butterfly. He was her grandmother’s cat and had been left to Isolde after her death. Aptly named for he was always getting into mischief. He was the only living creature that cared for Isolde, the only one she needed to say goodbye to.

She bent down to pick him up and held him tight. His fur was soft and smelt like a hot July afternoon. Softly he purred as she stroked him with tears running down her cheeks. Isolde remembered what her grandmother had once said to her and laughed.

“Cats are not cats; they’re the fey folk in disguise.”

Her grandmother had been a wildly eccentric woman. She looked at Pickles and could not picture him as a goblin, sprite or spriggan. She sighed he was a cat through and through. She could certainly use the help of a faerie or a heroic knight.

“I’ve come to say goodbye Pickles. I want to go to some other place and I can’t take you with me.” Pickles hissed and ran off as if suddenly remembering the butterfly that had evaded him. Isolde tried to stop him but he was too quick.

“Wait Pickles, I haven’t finished saying good-bye.” She chased after him through the tall grasses and followed him into the dark green woods.

“Isolde get here now!” Rab growled. He had followed her out of the house. Mother was nowhere to be seen. Isolde took to the forests and ran as fast as she could desperate to get away. Rab was coming after her and no one was going to hear her scream out here.

Pickles sat waiting by a bush and purred when Isolde caught up. She feared her panting would reveal her location to Rab who could be heard somewhere in the distance. Slowly the cat walked into a dark bush, he looked like he wanted Isolde to follow.

Isolde crept over and bent down to peer under the bush into which Pickles had disappeared. Underneath was a curious darkness, as dark as dark could be but tinged with purple. The gap was small but somehow she knew she could fit inside. Behind her she heard twigs snapping underneath heavy feet. She could almost smell him.
As she crawled under the branches tore at her skin trying to keep her out but she was desperate to be out of sight. Soon she bled form the accumulated scratches but it was wonderful to know her heart still beat and that she could feel something, even if it was pain. There was a whirring sound that grew stronger and stronger as the gap narrowed.

Then came an incredible burst of light. Instinctively she sheltered her eyes against it but it was not the burning kind. It was soft and hummed like a bee drunk on nectar. The bush was long gone and Isolde stood up to her full height.

No longer was she in the woods by her house. Gone was the world she knew. Giant trees stretched up chasing the sun. Jumping from branch to branch were strange creatures, all headed in the same direction. Isolde looked around for Pickles and saw a pixie walking ahead of her.

“Pickles?” Isolde called out.
 “I go where I please!” the pixie replied, “and stop calling me pickles, my name is Arthur.” He began to whistle and beckoned her to follow. Her heart filled up with pink warmth and she began to laugh like a maniac. If this was “crazy”, she was happy to be here. Grandma had been right.
“Why do I feel like I’ve just taken the druids brew?”
Arthur beckoned her to follow. “Well that’s one way to get here, but I took you through a star gate.”
“Where are we?”
“We are home,” he pointed to the source of the light. “That’s where we’re going.”

Isolde followed through the green glade, where man and fey walked alongside one another in perfect unison. She knew she had come to the otherworld and the strange creatures around her were called the others. It seemed those childish fairy tales her grandmother told her around the fireside at night were true after all.

When they reached the light’s source, Isolde cried and danced with happiness, she’d never known such joy. There was a mass congregation of creatures who came to bathe in the light. It was not hot as she had expected but the most pleasant sensation of feeling warm. From the centre of the light many colours radiated out. There was a strange dust shimmering which seemed to be attracted to her. It rested on her skin briefly before being absorbed. Isolde marvelled at how luminous her skin looked.

“Is my Grandmother here?” Isolde asked Arthur.
He shook his head, “It’s not the right time to see her. Your time has not come.”
Isolde nodded she understood. It was enough to know that she was waiting for Isolde. “What is this place?”
“It’s a fallen star. Everything in the universe is made of stardust, even us.”
“I want to stay forever,” Isolde murmured as she closed her eyes.
“Not yet, we all come from the star and back to the star we go when our time is finished.”
“I know, can’t I just stay a little longer.”

Isolde felt sad as she left but she had not left empty handed. She was dazzled with star light coursing through her veins. Inside she had strength where helplessness had been festering. Her eyes shone a little brighter with subtle hints of fey green. Her journey had given her strength and purpose. She was going to be her own hero.

Slowly she crept into Rab’s smithy by the side of their little cottage when she returned from the star. Upon his walls were his many tools he used as a blacksmith. She did not go for the axe as it was too heavy to swing with accuracy. The hammer resting next to the horse shoes was just right.

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Re: [AUG 2015] - Space Opera - Submission Thread
« Reply #6 on: August 09, 2015, 05:55:46 PM »
Don't have a clue what this nonsense is, but evidently it's my attempt at humor. Might need some music to go along with it.


That's better.

Glad to commemorate my last post in the 2K range to it, even if there is some strong language.

Sitting at 1,433 words including the title, I present to you:

Spoiler for Duel of the Fates:
Duel of the Fates

“I’m giving it all she’s got, Captain!”

   The starship spit and sputtered, rocked to and fro over the desolate Cthulhu plains of Pluto. “I don’t think we can make it,” the pilot yelled from his command center. Buttons beeped, ran red and blue and yellow and blinked like a seizure nightmare. “We’re going in too hot!”

   Further and further they rattled, shook from wing to wing on the Enter-prize cruiser.

   Pilot gripped his controls knuckle-white hard.

   “Some kind of shit piece of craft,” the engineer bellowed from the window, hand on trim and mouth holding back a chuckle. He swung with the shakes a little too enthusiastically. His legs danced a jingle.

   “Oh for fuck’s sake.” The captain smacked our well trained pilot across the back. He recoiled. “Stop goofing around and land her on the ground.” Smirk on his face and a bruised ego to boot, the pilot Anderson leveled her straight.

   Landing gear drifted the five feet they had hovered over and settled. Anderson wiped his brow. “Don’t know how we made it out of that scrap, Captain. If it weren’t for my fine piloting skills, why—“

   “Shut up and open the hatch window.”

   Anderson smashed the button with a pout and let her out. “Someone’s in a mood.”

   He rose from his cockpit as the Captain Rebecca Ming stomped out. Engineer Carlos leaned by the door, grin plastered from ear to ear. “Shut up,” Anderson shot back.

   “Don’t worry. Just one more job and she’ll get a promotion.”

   “Always one more job,” he mused and followed his partner out onto the brand new world.

   Little dwarf planet was as cold as Anderson’s ex-wife, chill running up his spine even in the temperature constant suit. He shuddered more than the Enter-prize had and settled his gaze on Captain Rebecca. She was already at the bunker entrance, no time to admire the dying solar wind or the blackened stone reminiscent of a racist author’s creation.

   No, she had her blaster centered on the iron seam, a small acceptance on her lips. “Open the fucking door,” she banged on the metal. Carlos leaned by her like usual and shook his head.

   “Don’t think the natives are too friendly.”

   “Don’t think the Cap is, either,” Anderson called from behind them.

   Rebecca gave him the common courtesy glare but continued to pound a plea. “Open the fucking door, or I’ll make sure you never have to open it again.”

   The request was not met with welcoming arms.

   “Who goes there?” came an electronic tone. Reminded Anderson of a badly broadcasted inter-galactic radio show. He gritted his teeth and stood beside the duo.

   “Captain Rebecca Ming of the Starship Enter-prize. We have been called by the Pluto Federation Environmental Protection Agency to inspect your cattle. Please open up.”

   There was a hesitance on the other line.


   She sighed harder than any government agent Anderson had ever seen. “I don’t have time for this shit. I’m with the EPA and I’m here to see if your cows are up to code. If you don’t open up, we’ll have to open up for you.”

   “Um.” The electronic crackle was louder now. “¿No hablo español?

   “For fuck’s sake,” came her cliché catchphrase. “They’re aren’t paying me enough to do this.”

   “They aren’t paying you at all, remember? Don’t recall when we got assigned to the EPA,” Anderson muttered.

   “Shut it. We’re trying to save the planet, remember?”

   Carlos raised an eyebrow. “Oh we are, are we?”

   Rebecca nodded, as if she was tending to children. But then, she had been the only one to receive orders. “We’re here to make sure the owner isn’t abusing these endangered demon cows, and this is the only farm in the system that houses them, if you catch my drift.” She kicked the door again for good measure, but it didn’t budge. Nor did the voice, even with a few more vulgar threats.

   “Ah, Satanicus bovinus,” Anderson lamented. “How I remember those pictures.”

   But the Captain was in no mood to think about their adventures on Kepler. She set her laser’s settings to You Got This and told the crew to, “Back the hell up.” They obliged without preamble.

   Blew the flamingo out front to Kingdom come, but the three marched in nonetheless. They were met with a stone cold corridor, though, and silence. The kind of silence that permeates the air, suffocates you like a well-placed pillow, and doesn’t let up. Anderson shuddered again but continued. “Anybody home?”

   No static voice this time around.

   Rebecca strolled on through. A lone light flickered from the ceiling, and the metal framed corridor didn’t help the minor chill in the slightest. “Has the decorating tastes of a Twenty-First century horror flick,” Anderson observed.

   Nobody made note of his comment and kept pace maybe a few seconds down the line to another door. Captain made no introduction, no warning, no nothing. She pulled up her blaster once again and fired true.

   They found a line of bovine in the inner warehouse. “Interesting,” Carlos said to no one in particular. Steam trickled up from their nostrils, and curled horns gnarled atop eyes red as Mars. They were corralled in different square vestibules, but only one a block was permitted. On top of this anomaly, a hole was implanted in the side of each mammal. “Interesting indeed.”

   But it was the central hub in the center that gave them pause.

   “I see you have broken into my lair,” the electronic voice boomed from all corners. “Welcome.” Peering closer, Anderson saw that it was not some AI wizard but a chubby little man on some recliner. He had a head-set tied round his head and an artificial cheese stain on his neckbeard. “I’m glad you three have come. I was getting lonely, preparing for the Apocalypse and all.”

   Rebecca pursed her lips but extended a laser arm forward. “What are you doing to these cows?” The circles allowed them a keen look at the inner workings. For the third time that day, Anderson shuddered and near vomited. Green pus flowed from their innards.

   “Why, these devil cows have a special enzyme in them! One that can only be found in their third stomach! One that can cure cancer, I tell ya! One that can save the Universe! I’ll be rich!”

   “What kind of sick bastard are you?” Carlos held a hand to his mouth.

   “Looks like some mother’s basement type shit that thinks he’s smart because he’s seen all 18 of the Star Wars films.” Man probably wanted to be famous, but the villain kind of famous that holds all the chips and is a massive prick.

   But the guy only focused on one thing.

From the man came a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like the kind a dog makes just as it throws up. It echoed across the bovine prison. Steam coiled at the ceiling. “Ah, you too have seen the masterpieces?”

And it was then that Anderson knew how to beat him. He pulled a chrome antique from his thirteenth suit pocket and produced a click on the metal side. Light beamed high. “You wanna tango?”

More of that laughter came. His belly jiggled and he stood from the recliner. “And you are a practitioner of the Lucas-Light, I see. Good. Good. This is destiny! It must be!” The fat bastard grabbed at a bronze hilt on his computer table. “I too know how to duel.” Neon light rose like a saber and the man twisted his sword crazy atop his head. Spun it faster than the Enter-prize kerfuffle. “With this strategy, nobody can beat me! Nobody can come close, and I can do this forever! The devil spawn is mine!”

Then the dubstep hit.

“Oh fuck this shit.” Rebecca shot a strong zap at the dancer; obliterated him to bits. Broke the monitor, too, and that opened the cages. Only the neon light stopped mid-swing and whizzed to a halt in the closest joist like a poor boomerang.

A pile of ash stood in the center of that chaos.

“But the cows!” Carlos screamed. They were milling about, unassuming.

“What about them?” Rebecca blew the barrel. “The government can do the rest. I don’t need no promotion. Not if they won’t let me do this, always hovering over me and shit.” She pocketed her gun and her patience.

Well that made perfect sense.

“Any questions?”

“One,” Anderson said, cringing. “How do we turn off the dub?”

“Good question.” She turned toward the exit. “You have a lot of good questions.”
“It’s a dangerous thing, pretense. A man ought to know who he is, even if he isn’t proud to be it.” - Tomorrow the Killing, Daniel Polansky

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Offline Eli_Freysson

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Re: [AUG 2015] - Space Opera - Submission Thread
« Reply #7 on: August 09, 2015, 09:59:48 PM »
Here is my contribution this month. Put together mostly in a notebook during coffee breaks at work.


1431 words

Spoiler for Hiden:
Princess Maraka looked down at her home planet through the bridge’s viewing screen. The jewel of the Central Systems was being touched by war for the first time in nine generations.

Plasma from anti-air guns flashed green in the skies above Arcasia like sunlight glittering upon an ocean as her fleet descended. After ten years of conflict it had come to this. The last and worst blow.

She hated seeing this. Hated this being a part of her legacy. But the Usurper had left her no choice but violence, and only with the near-annihilation of his fleet at the Battle of Three Suns was this option available to her. They had to strike before his factories replenished the losses.

Her ships returned fire, targeting the anti-air batteries and what ships remained in the Usurper’s service. The end had truly begun.

Maraka flexed in her seat, yet again testing the mobility allowed by her golden, gleaming armour. It offered the best protection modern technology could produce, and her handmaidens had carefully sealed her within it piece by piece hours earlier. Her movements were almost entirely unhindered. This really was a most un-regal display of nervousness, and she gripped the hilt of her ancestral sword tightly with both hand to channel her tension somewhere less visible.

“Alignment complete. Prepared for descent, princess,” Commander Severin said crisply from his place at the controls.

“Begin descent,” she said.

The kilometre-long hulk of the warship began shooting down towards the centre of the Crystal City.

It was soon rattling with plasma hits. Alarms blared as the hull was pounded and chunks of the ship fell away like a potato being peeled.

The city filled the view screen. Columns of smoke and the flash of blasters were clearly visible in the streets. The riots were diverting the forces of the Usurper, as planned.

He had confused cruelty with strength, fear with loyalty and oppression with order, and his folly was clear in how easily her agents had triggered this.

The display stung her. Her oath, her duty, was to safeguard the common folk. The realm does not belong to you, you belong to it, her mother had frequently reminded her. But her advisers had insisted on the necessity. She would just have to make her reign worth the sacrifices.

The sprawling Crystal Palace became visible, along with the green flashes from the batteries surrounding it.

The bridge lights flashed red in rhythm with the blares.

“Princess?” said the Commander with just a hint of alarm.

“Detach at your judgement, Commander,” Maraka commanded.

Severin had been the one to oversee the modifications so the moment was left up to him. The alarms blared three more times.

“Detaching!” Commander Severin announced to all present and hit the special switch.

The heavily modified survival pod, a replacement for the original bridge, detached from the unmanned ship and hurtled for the top of the palace. Above them the old warship was torn to shreds by plasma fire.

The pod was too small to be targeted by the big guns and too durable to be destroyed by the smaller ones in the few moments it took them to hit the palace.

Even with the royal discipline that had been instilled in her from birth, the Princess had to suppress an urge to brace. But a royal must ever put up a strong, invincible front and she merely held her breath and clutched her sword tighter.

The masterful engineering of Marthos lived up to its legend as the pod smashed through the ceiling and lodged there. Almost no momentum was transferred to the inside and all were at the ready when the hatch popped open.

Out poured a hand-picked twenty-six of the greatest warriors in known space: Horon commandos, the Sisters of Black Moon, Tivid mercenaries and the last eight of the royal guard, her lifelong companions. Princess Maraka was the last out. Her advisers had not budged on that detail.

She held her sword at the ready but plasma fire cleared away the immediate opposition and loyal bodies blocked her from any harm.

“Clear!” announced the Commander and they sped along the purple and gold hallways with the commandos in the lead.

Flashes of childhood memories intruded upon her mind as she saw the ancient palace through adult eyes for the first time. Memories of her parents walking her through these ancient halls.

They sped past tapestries of Terathan spider silk and pedestal after pedestal displaying treasures, tributes from distant systems, artefacts of the Ancients and busts of kings and queens, the hiss of shots preceding their passage.

Finally the awe-inspiring doors to the throne room loomed before them.

“The Usurper is within,” intoned a Sister with her hands to her temples. “The door is unlocked but rigged to explode.”

They backed away and a Tivid hefted a beam cannon onto his shoulder and fired.

The helmet saved Maraka’s eardrums as the doors exploded in burning plasma but didn’t stop the force from rattling her.

A barrage of gunfire immediately flew both ways through the thick smoke. A stricken commando fell up against Maraka, followed by a shot to her abdomen. She fell and a palace guard emerged from the smoke with a laz pistol.

He aimed at her head but hesitated. The sanctity of royal blood cut deep.

She swung her sword up through his outstretched arm and then the torso. He was either an oathbreaker or falsely wearing the sworn red and gold. Neither was pardonable.

She sprang to her feet. The armour had held.

She parried a shock staff and beheaded the wielder. And that was it.

“Onwards!” she shouted now that the fire had died down.

A commando shot the last armed man within the throne room. Only the Usurper remained, fingers clenched on the armrests of his stolen throne.

She had often wondered what he would say at this moment, when her men forced him to his knees before her. It turned out to be nothing. The Usurper merely glared with impotent hatred.

Maraka glared back through the helm’s lens.

“The realm does not belong to you,” she said and swung her sword.

His head hid the ground with a dull, wet thud, a strangely casual punctuation to all that had come before.

Silence followed for a few moments.

“It is done!” the Commander then said with elation. “All hail the Queen!”

Her warriors, now her subjects, hailed in unison and sank to one knee.


A strange, powerful feeling she couldn’t quite identify coursed through her. But there wasn’t time for analysis.

She walked to the throne and pressed a button on the armrest.

“This is Queen Maraka,” she said on all frequencies. “My uncle lies slain by my own hand. This war is over. Those resisting my forces have nothing left to fight for. As queen of the Central Systems and successor to the Golden Throne of Artubis I command you to stand down. Let peace be restored at long last.”

She released the button. On the surrounding viewing screens the fighting died down little by little. Ships returned to launchpads. Batteries fell silent and were taken by loyalist forces. The chaos in the streets petered out.

The helmet allowed her to sigh and close her eyes a moment without it being witnessed. Then she took it off and motioned for all present to rise.

“Hold this floor until Duke Beren’s forces arrive to help us secure the palace.”

“Yes Princ...” The Commander caught himself. “My Queen.”

He smiled awkwardly and she favoured him with a small one in return.

Then she clapped her hands together.

“Exit, all of you.”

They bowed and entered the hallway. It was the only way to the throne room. They could guard her well enough from there.

Queen Maraka drew and released a long breath. She sat down on the throne and slowly relaxed against the back of it and closed her eyes.

It was over. After ten years of grief and worry and tears that a royal could only shed in private, ten years of living aboard battle fleets, it was over. Other concerns were around the corner. The realm needed to be put into order, trials conducted, the Council restored, honours given. She needed a spouse, an heir, possibly a concubine or two. But for this one moment she could relax.

“Mother, father,” she whispered as she stroked the armrests with her gauntleted fingertips. ”I am home.”

She lifted the sword, the very symbol of her family, to her lips and kissed the crossguard.

“I am home.”
« Last Edit: August 29, 2015, 11:27:16 PM by Eli Freysson »
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Offline JMack

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Re: [AUG 2015] - Space Opera - Submission Thread
« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2015, 02:06:36 AM »
Here we go, thrusters on full and proton torpedoes launched.

The story is called: "SPACE OPERA"  ;D
1,500 words, excluding the title.
Some cussing.

Spoiler for Hiden:

I knew my plan was in trouble when I started singing the aria Nessun Dorma in Act I, though it doesn't come until Act III. Not that I could have told the difference until a few hours before I went on stage. Opera? Not exactly my thing. But while the implant was working just fine - I'd been assured this was a recording of the finest young tenor on the planet - I'd left Barscrap in charge of selecting the proper songs at the proper time. On any mission, relying on my gunner for more than hitting a moving target would have been a terrible choice. Unfortunately, it was my only choice.

So when the words nessun, dorma! nessun, dorma! came out of my mouth instead of non piangero, Liu; se in un lontano giorno, and the audience of Clatherites started looking confused, I thought, crap. And pulled the blaster out of my borrowed costume robes. I've been late enough times in my career that being early just once should be allowed.

"Barscrap!" I yelled into my communicator, between shots, "Let's get this show on the road!" I slapped the control to spin up the anti-grav skates in my boots. "Plan Beta, on my mark."

The Clatherite president was alone in his personal box as advertised, center of the opera house, about as exposed as you could ever hope for with that paranoid, schizophrenic, homicidal bastard. His bodyguards were rushing to him, crashing through the seated crowd. They must have gotten pretty lax that my semi-brilliant plan was looking like it might succeed. I'd covered about half the distance, the snatchbox gripped in one hand, when the ceiling exploded. Barscrap. A little early himself.

"No, no, no! On my mark!" is about all I can remember screaming, though maybe the gunner's name got in there too, along with some mild swearing. I careened into falling debris. A huge chunk of something slammed my shoulder, throwing me into a dizzying spin through plaster, wiring, ceiling beams, and a million fragments of atmospheric dome. No sooner had all this started to fall, when it began to rise again. A  roar of air exiting the breach in the dome was joined by blaring claxons and the screams of a thousand opera-goers all heading for space. Blood-thirsty, piratical opera-goers, but still - you have to admire what some folks will go through to get tickets to the shows they want to see. The Clatherites kidnapped artists; hell, they'd hijacked a whole opera company, which was why the cast of Tosca had been willing to help with my plan.

Captain Rogue Morgan - that's me - was here to rescue one particular Clatherite captive and get her back to Agreement space. Too bad we had no idea where she was. Nabbing the Clatherite's president and forcing a trade had seemed like a good idea earlier in the day, and great for my reputation if it worked; but as I started to fall up toward the ruin of the dome, I was having second thoughts.

Then there was the president, tumbling upwards too. I twisted, got a hand on his collar. A guard tried to pull him away; I managed to put a boot in the guy's face, the anti-grav giving him an instant tan. Mr. President turned out to be a pretty determined old fuck. He scratched and hit like a demon, but I swung my arm around, slapped the snatchbox onto his neck, and that was that. I looked up to see the welcome outline of the Rapscallion's bay doors wide open above me and a vacuum-suited Barscrap reaching down to pull us in.

I really need to fire the idiot. Right then wasn't the time to give him the news.

I rolled the president onto the cargo deck as the doors slammed shut. Something was wrong with the left side of my body where I'd been winged by that piece of opera house. Adrenaline was pumping through me, but I could tell there was massive discomfort just waiting to say hello. "Get me a stim shot!" I ordered. "Then rig the Rap for silent running and get us on course for the asteroid."

Our prisoner started laughing. He was flopped on the deck, all control of his limbs gone, kidnapped by desperate assassins as far as he knew, and he was laughing.

"There's something wrong, Captain," said Barscrap, in his usual slow cadence.

"I'll say there's something wrong," I groused. "You hit the wrong recording in Act 1 and then you triggered the blast too early. You could have killed me!"

"It's gone a little too easy." He was staring at a monitor of the space around us.

"What?" I started to feel the pain lurking past the shock. "Easy is good! Easy gets us paid."

"Why isn't anyone searching for us?"

The question stopped me, and I stared into a display singularly empty of Clatherite ships. Mr. President just laughed harder.

"Get us moving," I said after a moment. "Then I figure out what the fuck is going on."

The stim shot got me to medical. The Rapscallion got us to our hide-away in a tunnel our guns had dug in asteroid 8Z11Hc5. Optimistically renamed "the 18th Hole". Coffee got me ready to interview El Presidente.

He was still laughing, though it was sort of low-key and internal now, mainly in his eyes and a twist of his mouth. He had pretty young-looking eyes for a three-hundred year old nut job. I checked his hands, and they didn't look like they could be a day over a hundred.

"You're not him," I said.

"Decoy, Captain" said Barscrap, from over in the corner.

"Expendable, Captain," sighed Mr. Expendable.

"Explains the lazy guards and the easy in and out for my ship." I rubbed my face with one hand. Wanted to do it with both, but you don't argue with a med-bot that's knitting the bones of your favorite arm and shoulder back together.

"What do we do now?" asked Barscrap.

A day later I thought, "Well, what worked against us might work for us, right?"

It was a good thing that Martin - the decoy actually had a name of his own - hadn't exactly volunteered for the whole pretend-I'm-a-dictator-so-assassins-will-shoot-me-first detail. He was pretty smart; had all the call signs, passcodes and accesses from before the snatch - which they'd have changed by now - but also the ones they'd most likely changed them to. He had special DNA strips in his mouth and on his fingertips, just loaded with his boss's little bits of double-helix. I wonder if it ever occurred to the Clatherites that by enlisting a captured actor with way above average intelligence, they'd created themselves a significant problem.

 "Now look," I said to Barscrap, "I've entered all the timings into the computer. You drop us here; you plant the charges there, there, and there; you pick us up here. One rescued captive and her daring rescuers, guns blazing, headed for warp, Agreement space just a few hops away. Repeat back to me."

"Why do we need explosives and guns if they think Martin is their president?" The guy could be positively maddening.

"Are you the gunner or the captain?" I asked through gritted teeth.

She was a dancer, our kidnapped artist. She was also a princess of New Granada and rich, which explains how her family could afford to hire Captain Rogue Morgan's Galactic Recovery Service.

According to the security computers that Martin was at last able to access for us, she was in apartment 892C in the Bolshoi dome of an "Artist's Cooperative" on the southern continent.

We went in at night.

Martin got us past the guard ships. Pretty much the whole Clatherite defense apparatus was focused on the executive residence on the northern continent, worried about another attempt on the real Mr. Crazy. Lucky for us, the old coot was known to show up at the strangest times in the oddest places to basically terrify everyone around him. So no one wondered at Martin's sudden appearance. We landed by the nearest airlock to the Cooperative, dust screaming around the Rap's retros. Then more security, easily handled, and we were knocking on the door of 892C.

As the portal irised open, I was thinking that Barscrap might have been right about not needing a diversion. Then explosions began to shake the city around us.

Fucking Barscrap. Early again.

After that it was grab the girl, blast our way through the local cops, slide under the escape-proof doors, and run like crazy to the ship's gangway while my time-challenged gunner waved us in. The princess  was laughing through the whole thing. I was glad someone was having a good time.

So there we were, sitting in the galley with steaming coffee, while the Rap hustled toward jump-point.

The princess had pretty old looking hands for a 25-year old. Lots of little lines around the eyes too.

The woman just laughed.
« Last Edit: August 12, 2015, 06:29:41 PM by Jmack »
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Offline Themeaningnotthename

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Re: [AUG 2015] - Space Opera - Submission Thread
« Reply #9 on: August 12, 2015, 05:00:46 PM »
Questions of the Stars

1036 Words
Spoiler for Hiden:

A woman lies, breathing wide bloody breaths on the surgery table. Gelled and blacking blood soaking my surgeon’s steels is her only companion. She can no longer count the woman teasing carbon shards from the fat around her bones as fellow. She is at a stage no longer human but in that purgatory between man and meat. A corpse in waiting.

The sterility of Medbay light is disturbed. A blaze of Ion fire. It streaks across the Observation Pane, a wall of glass climbing the anterior portion of the ship. The ray, my mind jumps to twentieth century man, H.G. Wells and heat rays. Cephalopods from Mars, as if humans needed to search beyond itself for the desire to kill. Optimists. Although, there is something beautiful about that naiveté. Maybe in those days, of sepia and road cars and men wearing beards, we needed to search the stars for enemies—though that we were searching at all is evidence against that.

The blast tears into an exoskeleton. There is a crash of carbon against glass. A wet stain sprays in front of across glass. The soldier is blood and etheric plasma. The gray matter of the soul, if such things exist, has fled its fleshen cage.

The soldier I am operating on shudders, wet sounds leaking from scab painted lips. I hear her ask 'why', as if imploring me, the woman who is not dying, where everything went wrong. I know she is too far from cognition to create words, thus the question is either illusion born of my own subconscious, or slurred breath forming, by chance, a word. Either explanation could be entirely likely—the human mind bends experience to fit its own grid often enough, likewise the nervous structures often fumble for familiar actions whilst dying.

Why? The question, if indeed it was asked, repeats. Now, the subliminal verse of my own mind.

Every person on an operating table in the vicinity has screamed/cried/moaned the word at least once over the past six hours since the killing started and the pods began bringing in the dying. Despite the infomercials, most soldiers don't die with the lament that they had but one life to give their country, but one too many. I shake. Twist surgical steel in the dead/ dying woman's side. A meaningless effort to exhume the shrapnel corpse of her carbon exoskeleton—she doesn't even wince. The nerves have either overloaded, or the brain has fumbled its access to her neuromatrix.


The question of why they left earth to get shot by Ion grenades—morphing one’s exoskeleton from a life-support system to a Cause Of Death—is not for me. They ask themselves. Blood dribbles from the soldier’s mouth corner. A radiance built of tracer fire from the Observation Pane comes into hyper-contrast against her face. White light, brown skin, black/ red blood. There is a spasm, arm reaching at a tearing angle lower jaw vibrating quadriceps and calves tensing. Her abdomen goes rigid with a sucking breath. The tray of shards is spilt.


It echoes in me, though I have an answer and she doesn't.

The voice of the head surgeon at my side causes me to tense inexplicably.
She's done, Kate, there's a hundred people with a chance you need to attend.
I try to affirm that I heard my superior verbally, but discover that is impossible. I nod. He's probably seen a million people die, this is only my second. I failed. A lightning flash—Ion grenade outside. I do not look up.


Why come here, a life -distance from earth and home and life that is drab and familiar and of me. Why leave where I was a thing antlike and safe. Why leave myself? I was—to paraphrase the ancient playwright: Katherine Cross, the Small Brick Apartment on The Busy Street, Bedworth, Warwickshire County, Britannia, Earth, The Terran System, The Milkyway, The Cosmos, The Mind of God. Now I am: Katherine Cross, somewhere in a Medbay on a Carrier floating through nether. I suppose if Wilder’s churchman could place his, now lost, earth in the Mind of God, I might place this Carrier in the Mind of Hades- Lucifer- Iblis. This is not the hell of Exoskelatal combat, but neither is it a paradise for the ancient’s saints and poets to understand.
My feet beat against the steel floor, a rat-a-tat drum. Crashing staccato in contrast to the empty and numb legato time of my heart. Rush to see the listings, find the soldier next on my itinerary. Castillo Jonah, Male, Hispanic, 27, shrapnel embedded in Inguinal and Umbilical lower Pectoral, Personnel required: SURGICAL…
Explosion outside the Observation Pane, it inundates the extant of my vision in flame and shrapnel. The destroyed vessel is/ was another Carrier.


I did this so I could see the stars. Terrestrial life is so poisoned by dead lights. Electric charges, detonating from within LED capsules block out all celestial geography but Sol. Even as a child it was impossible not to look heavenward and dream of fired diamonds piercing the nocturnal green. I arrive at Jonah Castillo to find him dead. The man and woman who piloted the pod which brought him in, stare at the expanse of glass. So does nearly everyone. The destroyed carrier bore surgeons and medics that many hear know, though I cannot think of anyone  myself I have heard names in conversation. All of them dying/ dead.


It was Aristotle who laid the snare, reading the ancient's descriptions of a world before the end of darkness, he writes of stars as things of a fifth element: aether, the makings of souls. A God, the son of Night and Darkness. And yes, from a scientific perspective that's all long dead poetic naiveté. Stars are helium and flame, not some mystic soul-light, but whenever I see them, I can't help but think that maybe Aristotle wasn't so wrong after all. Perhaps, the Mind of God might not be so far left behind, even if it is greatly diminished.

An epiphany: if carriers are under fire the front line has broken. This ship might follow. I would die. Numbness.


There is no answer.

« Last Edit: August 17, 2015, 02:54:18 AM by Themeaningnotthename »

Offline Idlewilder

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Re: [AUG 2015] - Space Opera - Submission Thread
« Reply #10 on: August 19, 2015, 01:38:26 PM »
Ok, here's my contribution. I went into this story expecting to write something lighthearted and fun. Suffice to say that backfired dramatically.

Title: Out There, Among The Stars

Word Count: 1260 Words

Spoiler for Hiden:
There was history in space.

In the space left by dead sons and fathers and mothers. In the space left by long faded memories that only hover on the grasp of recognition. The space between all things.

Artifacts, left alone to the weather of time alone. Discarded shells of booster jets from ages long since dead. The debris of shredded spacecrafts. Bloated, once recognisably human corpses.

All would float.

Kedis watched from the port-side viewing gallery onboard the Altered Column as each item careened past on an orbit of its own design. She pressed her palm against the cold, clear glass, as if such a gesture could bring history back to life. The Altered Column cleaved through empty shores of nothing to reap and raid upon the shards of ancient conflicts such as this. It was, much to Kedis’ own personal disgust, what she lived for.

Her life had taken a decidedly more mercenary bent than she had ever intended. Literally. Sites such as this were marked by archaeologists, with whom she had once travelled, for potential work and discovery, but as optic-V-radar had evolved in the last few decades beyond the point of scholarly pursuit, ships such as the Altered Column could find such sites for archaeology of their own; one that could offer the historical finds only to the highest bidder.

Kedis Al’Nameen-xis was for all intents and purposes, a history pirate.

But she treated her life as a pirate as an opportunity. The possibilities were endless. Unearthing lost civilisations, the search for life out there in the vast reaches of space. The study of history was like being an explorer, embarking on a life-long journey into the depths of the past, and coming to understand who and how, and when and where. Why?

She grabbed her gear and made for the exit slipway, ready to encounter the past.

They disembarked from the Altered Column, the thick husks of steel under her feet made solid by the ship’s artificial gravity field. The remains of the past were below them, in the shattered remnants of this dead ship. Kedis wondered what had caused such destruction.

‘No traces, not a fibre. Nothing has been here in a long time, Kedis,’ Axel said, his raspy voice cutting into the tragic quiet of her helmet.

‘Let’s head down,’ she replied.
They dropped down into emptied corridors through a torn hole in the body of the ship. She watched as Axel scanned the area.

He pointed with his scanner. ‘The bridge should be this way, maybe there’ll be something there.’

Another voice tore into her earpiece. ‘Let’s get moving, people, we’re near the 6712a shipping route here. We don’t want uninvited guests.’ The captain’s voice cut out abruptly.

Axel smiled a wolfish grin. ‘Come on.’

The bridge was largely intact, some scattered papers still littered the floor. Decayed and insubstantial uniforms lay draped across various consoles and railings, a layer of dust and grime on everything. This was what happened to corpses, left for centuries. Nothing left but dust and decay.

‘We should see if anything is left of the ship’s AI,’ she said. ‘Maybe it will tell us what kind of ship it was, or what happened here.’

Axel fiddled with something on his scanner and the console screen – an ancient touchpad based sensor attached to the wrap around where they would have sat – pulsed a deep, blurry red. He typed something else and the main screens above them came to life, wiry veins of blues and coppers and greens scattering out around them, the system alive again.

It remained silent, a ghoulish reminder that this ship had not been a peaceful one, at least at its end. Axel used the touch-pad to navigate through several menu screens.

The highlighted screen he stopped at said ‘---MEMORY BANK---’.

‘Stop there,’ Kedis said. ‘There might be something useful stored.’ 

‘I’ll transfer the scan to your headset, see if there’s something in there that makes sense to you, Kedis.’ Axel swiped the main console, entering something on his scanner, and Kedis’ display changed from the bridge to


He is fear, he is terror, he is shame. The deep, the unknown. Finally they are here. The world is changed, the universe is changed. They travelled, this humanity – his humanity – out into the stars at last, and he laughs and thinks: ah, the stars our destination.

Deep space indeed, and he is one of them. Alive at the end of the universe, and still an explorer. Born too late to explore the earth, but just in time to go somewhere else; out there, out here.

They have travelled so far, for so long, surviving until now.

Until now.

So why now?

Why is his ship tearing apart at the seams?

He feels the ship rumble beneath his feet, the hull breached, those outside demanding their end. A final, long last gasp of





This is it, he thinks. The end.

He looks to the console. He sees them, and his shame, his horror, is expanded and he hates it, he hates them, he hates himself. This is the end, the end, the end.

He grasps the console, as the ship shudders violently and the hatch implodes in to the bridge. He creates a memory bank, a store of this, though if it is the end, he thinks, then it is pointless, as who will ever see it, and he hits enter as something comes towards him and all is


She exhaled violently, the nausea quickly passing as her suit re-zoned her chemical imbalances.

‘Kedis are you okay?’ Axel asked, the captain screaming something else unintelligible down her earpiece.

‘Yes, let’s just…let’s just go. There’s nothing here.’

Back on the Altered Column, Captain Antrim seethed. Kedis could see it in the ripple of muscles across his bare arms, the vein rising on his forehead. They had taken nothing, had no cargo. It was a waste of a trip.

‘What the hell happened out there?’ he shouted, smacking his fist against his command console.

Axel rubbed his hands together. ‘Something was wrong with their comms, and Kedis got the brunt of it. The AI must have rerouted itself when I reactivated it. Kedis?’

‘It was like I was there,’ she said. Antrim watched her, his eyes like the points of a knife. ‘It wasn’t like anything I’ve seen, felt before. They were the first humans to explore deep space. He was so proud, but so terrified. And they destroyed them, completely. They can’t have known, they must have lost all communications with the home planet. They must have been out there for so long. It all changed, the world, the universe, everything.’

Her mouth felt dry.

‘Who destroyed it? What happened, Nameen?’ The shortened form of her surname was meant as the obvious rebuke he’d intended.

‘Humans. People. Humanity. We did it, all of us. People always kill people. They were the first, but they were far from the last. The ship they came into contact with was well equipped for war. They were explorers, a lifetime spent in the far reaches of the universe. They’d survived for so long, and it was their own species that ended them.’

She felt sick, disgusted, horrified. That people could do this.

That people could still do this.

‘What was the name of the ship, anyway?’ someone else asked. Kedis thumped her fist into the wall by her side.

The Discovery,’ she said, ‘It was called The Discovery.’
Make Another World.

Offline Rukaio_Alter

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Re: [AUG 2015] - Space Opera - Submission Thread
« Reply #11 on: August 22, 2015, 05:53:49 PM »
Welp, here's my actually-serious-for-once entry for this month. Fingers crossed it turned out well. Coming in at 1498 words, here's Father and Son.

Spoiler for Hiden:
“Dad… When I grow up, I want to be just like you.”

Kelkan stood on the roof of the Spirex, the tallest building in Alpha 3 and watched as the city beneath him collapsed into chaos. The Peacekeepers had launched their attack to disable the rogue terraformers scattered around the planet. He’d already received news that Terraformers Beta, Gamma and Sigma had fallen and others were likely to follow.

He wasn’t worried. Only 3 needed to remain active to destabilize the planet’s atmosphere. Delta was in a location no Peacekeepers could reach in heavy numbers. Omega was a practical fortress. That only left Terraformer Alpha, which he was defending personally.

Below him, an explosion sounded. The Peacekeepers were bringing in the heavy artillery. They couldn’t blow up the terraformer lest it level the entire city, but they could use bombardments to help break past his fellow Rebels.
Kelkan turned away. That wasn’t his concern right now. Draag could handle the exterior defences. Kelkan’s only job was to wait. To wait for the one person he knew would come.

There was a clank and the door to the roof swung open. Ardin walked in, limping slightly. The boy had obviously gone through hell and back. Blood stained his Peacekeeper battle-suit and he gripped a battered holo-sabre in his hand.

He faced Kelkan down as the wind howled around them.

“Father.” He said.

“Son.” Kelkan answered.

“Please, stop the terraformers.” Ardin pleaded. “Millions will die if they activate!”

Kelkan’s eyes narrowed. “I am aware of the costs. And willing to accept them.”

“This isn’t what Mother would’ve wanted!” Ardin shouted. “She never wished for you to become… this!”

“You have no right to speak to me about Cara.” Kelkan growled. “Not while you wear the uniform of her killers.”

A flash of guilt crossed Ardin’s face but he stood firm. “Peacekeepers aren’t as bad as you think. They have their bad, yes, but they have so much good as well. I’ve made friends there, comrades! I won’t let you sacrifice an entire planet to strike back at them!”

“You’re ever the child, Ardin.” Kelkan said coldly. “None can live free as long as that cancer prospers.”

Ardin’s face sank. Then he took a deep breath and levelled his sabre. “If you won’t stand aside, I’ll go through you.”

Kelkan said nothing. He simply raised his hand. There was a loud crackling as his holo-sabre wrote itself into reality. He flourished the blade and stepped back into a fencing stance.

The meaning was clear. Only one of them would walk away this day.

The two inched closer and closer until their blades were almost touching. There were no thoughts of family as they stared each other down. There was only the enemy. Someone to be struck down at any costs.

And, as the horizon burned with a red glow, the two lunged at each other.

“Ow…” 8-year old Ardin rubbed his head. “That’s not fair. You said you would go easy.”

Kelkan grinned and rested the wooden sword on his shoulder. “I was going easy. Besides, you’re the one who wanted to learn swordfighting.”

“Only so I can use a holo-sabre.” Ardin said. “Then I can help fight the Peacekeepers like you do!”

Kelkan’s smile lessened. He bopped Ardin on the head again. “Idiot. The reason me and your mother fight is so you can live in a world where you won’t have to.”

Ardin puffed out his cheeks. “So you won’t teach me the Maelstrom?”

Kelkan snorted. “We’ll see.” He stepped back into a fighting stance again. “You’ve got a long way to go first, though.”

Lightning crashed as holo-sabre met holo-sabre. Even with Ardin’s injuries, the boy had strength to spare as he forced Kelkan back. However, what Kelkan lacked in strength, he had in skill and experience as he casually brushed aside Ardin’s thrust and delivered several short, sharp blows that Ardin struggled to block.

Kelkan’s assault was relentless, testing each and every one of Ardin’s weak points while leaving no time for the boy to counterattack. Ardin was forced further back until he was dangerously close to the skyscraper’s edge.

Recognising he was trapped, Ardin chose to desperately charge Kelkan. A foolish move. It was easy for Kelkan to sidestep and finish Ardin with-

Kelkan spotted a blue glint and ducked as a beam of light travelled the length of Ardin’s sabre and pierced the air where Kelkan’s head had been. Kelkan darted quickly backwards before Ardin could take advantage of his surprise.

“A false charge designed to conceal a holo-beam.” Kelkan noted. “Impressive. You’ve grown.”

Ardin ground his teeth. “I’ve had to.”

“Are you certain about this?” Draag asked, watching Ardin through the window. “The boy just lost his mother. And now…”

“It’s necessary.” Kelkan said firmly. “A life on the run is no place for a child.”

Draag placed a comforting hand on Kelkan’s shoulder. “You know, if you want to stay behind-“

“Don’t.” Kelkan said. “I’ve made my decision. I was foolish to think I could have a peaceful family life after all I’ve done. Cara’s death only reminded me of that.”

A tapping sound interrupted the two. Ardin had wandered up to the window and began knocking on it to get his father’s attention.

Draag glanced his way. “You could at least say goodbye.”

Kelkan looked at his son through the window. Sensing something was wrong, Ardin began to bang harder, his mouth forming silent shouts. Kelkan closed his eyes. He didn’t want to cry. He couldn’t let his son see him cry. He had to stay strong… He had to…

A cold visage slipped across his face.

“There’s no need. I have severed my ties.”

With that, he turned and walked away, the desperate banging still ringing in his ears.

Sparks flew as the two holo-sabres grinded against each other. Kelkan jumped back as another beam pierced the ground near him. Ardin leapt in with a forward thrust. Kelkan parried and used the holo-sabre’s shockwave function to blow Ardin back. With his battle-suit aiding him, the boy landed gracefully and darted away before Kelkan could launch a beam of his own.

Ardin had begun using the wide-open terrain much more to his advantage. Rather than engage directly in combat, he ducked in and out of range, using his holo-sabre and battle-suit to full extent. Kelkan had to admit it was fairly effective and with enough time, might have worn him down.

But Kelkan had a trick up his sleeve. The technique he himself had developed and gifted him the nickname ‘Maelstrom’. The technique none had yet to survive.

He flourished his sabre once more, holding it vertically in front of him. Then, slowly, he began to move his hand in a circular motion, increasing speed as he went. The air around the holo-sabre began to shift and change as the reality-warping weapon stirred it. Slowly, a visible current formed, a funnel of wind wrapped around its core.

Ardin’s eyes widened. He recognised the technique, but was too late to stop it. Instead, the boy stepped back into a stance Kelkan recognised. Augustine’s defense. A technique to cut the air in front of you to create a protective void. Clever. But not clever enough.

With a single horizontal swipe, Kelkan released the technique. A wave of wind crashed into Ardin just as he launched his defense. Ardin was barely able to avoid being buffeted away, but the backlash nearly wrenched the sabre from his hand. He was wide open.

This was what Kelkan had been waiting for.

Dashing forward with such speed the ground cracked beneath his feet, Kelkan ducked under Ardin’s desperate guard and levelled his sabre. Time slowed down as Kelkan’s blade flew closer to Ardin’s chest while the boy desperately tried to counter with his own thrust. Kelkan could see the despair cross his son’s face as he realised there was no hope to-

“When I grow up, I want to be just like you…”

Crunch. The sound of blade piercing bone echoed through the air. Ardin looked down in shock only to find himself unharmed.

Kelkan had missed. Ardin had not.

Kelkan slipped to the ground, blood pouring from his chest. Ardin gently placed him onto his back. The sorrow on the boy's face was evident.

“Don’t give me that look.” Kelkan coughed up a wad of blood. “You won, didn’t you?”

Tears formed in Aldin’s eyes.

“I never wanted this.”

Kelkan snorted. “Go.”

Aldin bowed his head before sprinting towards the terraformer controls. As the light faded from his eyes, Kelkan turned his head to watch the city below, now illuminated by a red glow. His mind floated back to a sunset years ago...

“Dad…” Ardin nustled up closer against Kelkan’s chest. “When I grow up, I want to be just like you.”

Kelkan slowly stroked the boy’s hair and watched as the sun vanished into the horizon.

“Idiot. Why would you ever want to be like me?”
5 Times Winner of the Forum Writing Contest who Totally Hasn't Let it All go to his Head.

Spoiler for Hiden:

Offline wakarimasen

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Re: [AUG 2015] - Space Opera - Submission Thread
« Reply #12 on: August 25, 2015, 01:50:49 PM »
Busy month this one, but I think I've managed to do my idea some justice. (nod to Puccini for this one)
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1491 words

Tau Ceti Butterfly

Spoiler for Hiden:

It had taken three centuries for Filios to walk. Sentience, when it had come, had brought the desire faster than her physical evolution could answer. Now she moved as her mother species did. Gender was still proving difficult. She felt she might try male again for a few decades, but neither was that appealing. When you were one of a kind gender became as pointless as shape. But shape she had chosen, legs she had grown and gender she would mimic.

The lights of the city were a microcosm of the stars above. Filios’s eyes were a recent addition and through them she could see how her mother species clustered around each spark of the constellation below. If she were a copy of them and the city was a copy of the heavens then the galaxies were a mirror for all their existence. The gluts and vacuums of energy that made baryonic space seemed infinite to them, vast and homogenous. To Filios, through her father species, it seemed strangled and barren. Life coalesced around bright suns. Consciousness formed around the knotted energies of that life. Compared to the Greaterverse this plane was a dead sea, scattered with lush, barbaric islands. This existence, with its sharpened intelligences and gasping thoughts, was a hinterland. Only a few, such as her father, even took the time to visit. Why bring themselves to a realm of such separation and scarcity?

The priest-governor joined her on the balcony, his head bowed reverently. Filios still had not accepted the need for a voice, so reached out with intent.

Greetings. Suzukai. What was the ship I saw landing earlier?

“Another envoy from the Goro. Protector.”

More entreaties for you, my mothers?

She could read anger on the priest-governer, but it was tempered with many other emotions she could not yet recognise.

Why are you so upset? Is it not good for the Goro to offer their protection?

“They seek to separate us from our faith, Protector. To corrupt the Greaterverse. It is heresy.”

Filios raised a glowing hand and pointed out the city.

Do you think the father would be angered if this was taken under the protection of others?

“Yes. Protector. If he saw that you had become like us. I think his heart would belong here as much as his own realm. The Goro still believe you are simply a splinter. A remnant set here to guard our planet’s fortunes. We will never reveal you to them and we shall not succumb to their temptations.”

Filios walked back into her chambers, the motion fluid and inhuman.

Let me ride with your thoughts, dear Suzukai. Meet with the Goro so that I might hear what troubles you so about their offers.

The priest-governor bowed and waited for warmth to bless him. The sign that Filios watched through his eyes. When it came, a scampering thrill darted up and down his bones. He turned away from the glowing statue of her form and started back down the tower. No doubt the Goro would still be waiting in the conclave.

If the Kerton understood breathing then manifesting in baryonic space would have felt like breathing through a straw. It was surprised that it had returned at all, but memories of its strange adventures here had intrigued the Katon. The Katon was at its side now, edges suddenly defined between them. Moments ago  their thoughts had mingled. Now sharp, energy starved, divides pushed them apart.

Individuality, the Kerton remembered. That was what the little lights had called it. The ones its new partner was so curious to see. It tried to feel for their presence but something frustrated the attempt.

Distance. Another forgotten concept came back to the Kerton. There were areas through which they would have to wade to reach the sharp ones. It would be trying. Especially for the Katon. She was struggling with the changes, just as the Kerton had on his first visit. She would need time. 

She.  The Kerton pondered that for a moment. She was with him. He was he. A sun brushed nearby, nourishing them both, and the Kerton reached out to help his bride. His energy was welcomed, but could only stroke her surface. Together they set themselves against the cold murk and began to travel.

The Goro Ambassador paced arrogantly in the circle. Members of the priesthood muttered disapproval from the slopes of the auditorium.  When the priest-governer joined the thin man the murmurs sharpened, then fell silent.

“Ambassador Yakuside. I am surprised to be welcoming you back to our halls. I had thought our stance on your proposal very clear.”

“Your refusal of peace was noted. Suzukai.”

The tiers of holy men took subdued offence but if the priest-governor was offended by the familiarity he did not show it. He simply cocked an eyebrow, overtly mystified as to why the man was in front of him.

“When I came last, it was an ambassador of good will. Now I come as a herald of mercy.” Yakuside clasped his hands behind him and addressed the hall at large. “Give us the remnant and we will spare your people. Your city will be relocated to Tau Ceti Gamma, away from the storms which should have destroyed you a millennia ago. Submit to the will of the Goro and you will be given life.”

Suzukai had to wave down the angry response from his fellows. He turned his attention inward.

It is as I feared, Protector. They mean to take you by force.

The soft warmth of Filios’s prescence welled gently.

Force? Is that bad?

Suzukai knew the best way to explain to the childlike presence of their saviour. He stepped toward the Goro.

“And what would your race do with the wisdom of the Kerton?”

“You know what.” Sneered the man. “We would use it to open our way into the Greaterverse, to tap into the limitless resources of creation. We would take our rightful place and become more than just petty matter. Make no mistake. Your city is a bubble on a scarred world. Ours is an empire spanning dozens of systems. We will break you and take the remnant of the Kerton. You should be grateful my superiors offer mercy instead of punishment.”

Suzukai chuckled, astonishing the other man.

“Let me guess. That fine ship of yours is full of soldiers and weapons. The iron fist in the velvet glove?”

“Two legions stand ready in the heart of your domain. You will submit to us one way or the other.” The Ambassador was incensed by his dismissive treatment.

Suzukai smiled outwardly as a terrible sadness began to weigh his soul.

I fear the time has come, Protector.

Time for what?

You must release us from your protection Filios. You must let the sun storms claim the city.

I must?

Yes, Filios. These greed bound fools cannot be allowed to claim you. You must release us and hide, awaiting the return of your father race.

Oh. That sounds lonely. Are you sure?

If there were another way I would take it, but this day has been coming for many years. We had hoped the Kerton would return, but alas we will not see him again. We have given you form and consciousness Filios. Please, in return. You must take ours from us.

Well. If you’re sure.

The atmosphere would have evaporated in time, but it burnt away long before it could. Beyond the city walls Tau Ceti Beta was a molten, cratered hell. That devastation swallowed the entire city in seconds. As the scorched temple was pummelled to dust, the only creature to survive the onslaught walked fluidly into the ruins, unmoved by chaos and death.

The Kerton found the tiny world. The playground it had so enjoyed long ago. It searched for the pin points of light that marked it’s favoured pet’s minds, but the landscape was bare of anything but the most basic and wild of the energies that called this space their own. He had left it too long. Those wonderful creatures, of whom his bride had heard so much, had gone. Scoured from their refuge despite the energy he had left to protect them. The loss was palpable. Their departure recent. From a nearby moon a presence reached out.

Welcome home Father. I am afraid the mothers have left us.

The Katon enveloped the source of the energy, alien to this plane yet familiar to their own. It was something neither of them recognised. The Katon formed the idea of words, learnt from her husband’s memories.

You are like us. Yet you are like them. What are you?

The bright figure stood among craters, arms up stretched to the cloud of energy. Welcoming its kind that were not its kind.

I am a child, I think. I chose a name for that but I have changed it now. Now, I am Sorrow.

« Last Edit: August 25, 2015, 02:00:41 PM by wakarimasen »

Offline Raptori

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Re: [AUG 2015] - Space Opera - Submission Thread
« Reply #13 on: August 25, 2015, 02:48:39 PM »
The Search (1242 words)

Spoiler for The Search:
"What does that do?"

Shinji sighed. "It modulates the power flow of the hyperdrive."

"Woah." Kei bounced on his seat, and his gaze darted around the cockpit. He pointed at a panel that displayed a diagram of the ship surrounded by a river of swirling kanji. "What about that?"

"Look little brother, I need to concentrate."

"Sorry." Kei bit his lip and fiddled with the harness that strapped him to his seat.

Shinji rolled his eyes and carried on working. He danced his hands across the panels; light and colour flared in their wake. Complex formulae flashed across the screens, and gravitational diagrams shifted into alignment. A bright spark wormed its way through a whirling star chart, trailing a glowing line of gold.

"But what does it do?"

Shinji's hands jerked, and he gritted his teeth. "It adjusts the deflector shields. Now stop interrupting."

Kei sat on his hands and watched.

The spark continued its trek, weaving its way through a cluster of stars.

Kei opened his mouth, then shut it again.

Shinji muttered under his breath, and a bead of sweat ran down the side of his face.

Kei sighed.

Shinji closed his eyes for a moment, then shot an irritated look towards his brother. "Just hold on, I'm almost done."

Kei waited.

A couple of minutes later, Shinji finished his work. He sat back and massaged his temples. "Kei, I know you're excited. But this is important. I'm happy for you to come along, but you need to keep quiet while I'm working. Okay?"

Kei looked down and mumbled, "I'm sorry. I'll be good."

"All right then. The path's set and the countdown's ticking. We leave in an hour." Shinji smiled. "You ready for your first hyperspace flight?"

Kei looked up and grinned back. "Yeah! Will you tell me where we're going?"

Shinji pursed his lips. "It's a bit of a secret... but I guess nobody would believe a little squirt like you anyway. We're boldly going where no-one has gone before. Taking a look at unvisited planets."

"Woah." Kei's eyes widened. "What are we looking for?"

"That... I really shouldn't tell you. We don't want to get people's hopes up. Not yet at least."

Kei frowned. "I bet I can work it out. If I guess, will you tell me?"

Shinji laughed. "Sure, kiddo. Now, let's go get ready."

Kei watched in wonder as they soared through the void.

The ship darted from system to system, the interstellar distances passing by in the blink of an eye. The fabric of reality warped and rippled, glowing and flickering with dazzling colours. Stars loomed and shrank with dizzying speed as the space between them contracted and expanded.

The colours shimmered, then shattered into billions of sparks, which winked out one by one.

Kei jumped out of his seat and punched the air. "That. Was. Awesome!"

Shinji chuckled.

The star they now orbited was relatively small, and gave off a strangely soothing yellow light. They approached a planet—the only one in the habitable zone. At first it seemed to be just another distant star, but it grew steadily. It looked like a flawless sapphire, spinning gracefully through the cosmos.

Shinji eyed the space around the planet. "I don't see any other ships, but that doesn't mean much."

"Why aren't we getting closer?"

"We can't yet. First we have to see if anyone's home." Shinji scanned a screen and started adjusting a series of controls on another.

"Home." Kei straightened. "We're looking for..." He sat perfectly still and stared at the planet.

Shinji glanced at Kei and raised an eyebrow. "So much for keeping it secret. Yeah. That's what we're looking for."

They lapsed into a solemn silence as Shinji continued working.

A chime sounded.

"What was that?"

"It means we've found a signal." Shinji leaned back and closed his eyes. "It means this planet's taken." He took a deep breath, then exhaled slowly. "Go take a nap. I'll wake you when I'm done plotting our next path. And then we move on."

Three planets orbited within the habitable zone of the next star they visited. They picked up dozens of signals from every direction, and glimmers of light between the planets marked the passage of spaceships.

"I... I get the feeling this one's taken too."

Kei giggled.

Shinji magnified the planets, zooming in as close as the scopes could manage. Clouds danced across the sky in swirling patterns, and the green of life peeked through from below.

Their silence held long after they turned and left the system.

Another star, another lonely planet. It revolved slowly along its lazy orbit, serene and beautiful.

"There are no signals that we can detect, but it looks like there's a lot of oxygen and water in the atmosphere... chances are there's life down there."

Kei fidgeted. "Does that mean we've found it? It's ours?"

"Not quite. We'll move a little closer and run a deep scan. If there's anything alive, any cellular life at all, we have to leave it alone."

"What? That's not fair."

"It is really. But anyway, we can't break the rules."

"What rules?"

"People don't like to talk about it unless they have to. You'll learn about them properly in school, in a couple of years." Shinji rubbed his face. "You see, the main one is that no species is allowed to take over a planet that has evolved cellular life. Even just bacteria. If anyone tries to... well, bad enough things would happen to them that nobody ever considers it."

"Right... Why though? What's wrong with doing that?"

"Think about it. We humans didn't come first, not even close. The first species to travel the stars were around billions of years ago. If they—"

Another chime sounded.

Shinji paused to look at the display.

"Does that mean there's life down there?" Kei asked.

Shinji nodded. "Yeah. But never mind, we have dozens more to try before it's time to go back." He leaned over and ruffled Kei's hair. "Don't look so glum. Chances are slim, but we're still intrepid explorers. Anyway, I was explaining. If the ancients had gone around taking over any planet that could support life, there would have been no space left for anything else to evolve. No space for us to evolve. We wouldn't be here. It's better for everyone if life is left to find its own way."

"So we need to find a really empty planet?"

"Exactly. Somewhere we can start again, without hurting anyone else when we take it. And we have to find it ourselves—if someone else found it, then they would keep it. Planets are precious things. Very precious, which is why we humans aren't exactly popular."

"What if we never find one?"

"We'll survive. We always have."

Another star, another planet. Another failure. Satellites swarmed at the edge of the atmosphere, and the night side sparkled with the lights of civilisation.

Kei looked up at Shinji. "Are we ever going to find what we're looking for?"

"I don't know. Sometimes I wonder that myself."

Kei nodded sagely. "Why are we the only ones without a planet?"

"You know why." Shinji frowned. "We did have one. We destroyed it."

Kei screwed up his face. "Yes, but why?"

Shinji stared at the stars. "I don't know, Kei. I really don't know."

They took one last look at the planet, a world that would never be theirs, then they left. Their search continued.
« Last Edit: August 25, 2015, 02:50:36 PM by Raptori »
I wish the world was flat like the old days, then I could travel just by folding a map.

Offline ClintACK

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Re: [AUG 2015] - Space Opera - Submission Thread
« Reply #14 on: August 25, 2015, 08:25:08 PM »
This one's called: Poop Deck
1251 words plus title.
Minor edits: 1260 words plus title.
Major edits: 1325 words plus title.  (Revamped ending + Reading it out loud --> added words for flow)

Spoiler for Poop Deck:
“Spaceman First Class Artemis Jones, did I or did I not order you to clean hangar 17P?”

SFC Artie Jones rolled off his bunk, cracked his knee hard against the deck, and staggered to attention.

“Yes, Petty Officer.”

Formal rank and loud agreement – the only safe way to respond to an angry NCO.  Artie scrambled to understand.  He’d left the hangar spotless – every hint of grit and oil and grease and coolant wiped from every possible surface; every hose, line, and cord stowed; every tool in its place.

Petty Officer Marsh Fuller turned and stormed out the door.  Ten million miles out of Earth-L4, nearly three years left in his enlistment, and his PO was PO’d at him.  Every spacer’s nightmare.  Angry footsteps sounded like an alarm claxon in the passageway.  He followed.

At the 17-Portside hatch, PO Fuller spun on his heels at furious attention.  Artie peered through the open door.  Thirty feet by forty feet of bulkhead and girder and deck plating clean enough to eat off of – and a small pile of blackish greasy goop.

“What is that?” he asked, shock cutting through both fear and military decorum.

“That, Spaceman First Class, is a mess.  On my hangar deck.” 

Artie fumbled for words – and was awake enough to find none, for none were safe.  He stood up straight, marched to the janitorial cabinet and gathered his cleaning supplies.

In months of cleaning hangar decks, Artie had become a connoisseur of messes. This wasn’t engine oil, vacuum grease, unfixed epoxy reagents, or even the greasy, smelly putty the techs called bear crap.  Whatever it was, it was as thick as clay, sticky as tar, smelly as, well, let’s just say it wasn’t good; and it was impervious to every industrial solvent in his arsenal.

Artie scooped up what he could and scraped off most of the rest with a putty knife.  Then he sanded down the deck.  The steel was corrugated with a cross-hatch pattern of small rounded ridges to give traction to boots and wheels.  The ridges were a special agony against his bruised knee, and the sharp corners at the base of each required successive scrubbing with smaller and smaller grades of abrasive to completely remove the goop.  It took hours.

He groaned at the clock – just four hours until he was back on duty.  He’d missed nearly his whole sleep cycle.  Putting the supplies away he got a whiff of his left hand.  Soap and solvents hadn’t removed the goop from a hard metal deck.  His hands were red and raw before he was willing to touch his bedding with them.

“Spaceman First Class Artemis Jones.”

Somehow he managed to get to attention without injury this time.  The clock on the bulkhead showed he was still off duty for another hour.

“Yes, Petty Officer.”

Another angry march down the passageway – another pile of goop.

Artie could have wept.

“Spaceman Jones, I am not accustomed to reminding spacers of their duty more than once.  You do not want me to remind you again.”

Artie winced as he pulled gloves over his raw hands, and then put on a second pair over the first.  He skipped the solvents and went straight to scraping and got the deck more-or-less clean in time to report for watch in a wrinkled uniform with a slight limp, hands scraped raw, a whiff of foul odor and distracting concerns about the bits of goop he’d had to leave in the deeper treads of the deck plating.

Eight hours later, exhausted, he didn’t head for his bunk.  He went straight to hangar 17P.  He should be able to finish scraping out the little bits of goop in under an hour.

He wasn’t surprised at the new pile of goop – angry, frustrated, ready to pull out his hair and scream at the bulkhead, but not even a little surprised.

He rolled up his sleeves and got to work – he scooped, scraped, poured on the #3 abrasive and scrubbed until his cramping back and aching wrists drowned out his knee’s complaints.

Yet again, hangar deck 17P sparkled in the harsh white LEDs.

Now what?

His tiny cubbyhole of a bunk called to him from down the passageway, but he knew he’d just wake up to more goop and an increasingly furious PO.

He rolled a stepladder into one corner, locked the wheels and sat down.  Inspection was in twelve hours, just before his next watch.  The deck was going to be sparkling and pristine and PO Fuller would go back to taking no notice of Artie.

He was determined, resolute even, but accumulated stress and lack of sleep caught up to him.  He dreamed of purple snow monkeys hurling globs of blackish goop all over familiar decks and bulkheads.  He woke to an odd slurping sound and something different on his hangar deck.  He knew this compartment like the back of his hands – better than he knew the raw mess his hands were now – and there was something new: a spray of thick fibers like the head of a mop stuck on the top of an open tub of vacuum grease.  The sounds were coming from there.

Artie crept towards the slurping mop-head.  Was it eating the vacuum grease?  He tried to think of the chemistry – the grease was some kind of fluorocarbon wasn’t it?  Nothing ate fluorocarbons.

He stopped.  Thick strands of fiber swirled out like a head-banger’s dreadlocks and the mop-head skittered across the floor to the aft air vent and somehow squeezed itself through the grate, leaving behind no evidence it had ever existed – except for the memories of a dazed spaceman first class and a single pile of blackish goop.

Alien poop, he thought.  I’m cleaning up alien poop – swabbing the poop deck?  He collapsed to the deck laughing.  It wasn’t a funny joke, and the laughter was a thin film over a deep pool of panicked horror.  Inspection was in less than an hour and he had another pile of goop – no, another pile of alien poop to clean up.

“Spaceman First Class Artemis Jones,” PO Fuller said, “are you seriously suggesting that I go to Captain Ogabi and tell her there’s an alien life form on her ship, defecating on her hangar deck?”

In retrospect, telling PO Fuller what he’d found wasn’t Artie’s smartest move .  It had been a while since his last good sleep and he was operating on fumes.  The prospect of three more years in a tin can with a PO who not only thought he was lazy, but completely insane – that woke him up.

Artie felt giddy as he traded duty shifts and PX vouchers and too many precious megabytes of his personal messaging allotment, but he got everything he needed – primarily, a good camera.

The waiting was long enough that he cycled from anticipation through several different worries – was he just space-sick or sleep deprived and imagining things?  Was someone playing a practical joke on him?  Would he end up making a fool of himself and digging himself in even deeper with PO Fuller, if that was even possible?

Of course you know the rest.  The rest made the blogs and zines and history books.  Between them, Captain Ogabi and Doctor West were honored with just about every award and prize the human race gives out.

Petty Officer Artemis Jones was honored with footnotes in a few of the original reports and a non-combat meritorious promotion below the zone, which is a long way of saying he never had to scrub another deck – and that was good enough for him.  The best tasting drink he ever had was the mug of starshine PO Marsh Fuller bought to welcome him to the unofficial NCOs club in the Engineering Locker, where he told the whole story for the first time.   Captain Ogabi could keep her Clarke Prize.  A good story was worth free beer in any port in the System.
« Last Edit: August 29, 2015, 08:03:13 PM by ClintACK »