Ah. Well, if that is the case, I will withdraw my statement.
If not, it stands.
Either way, some clarification would be appreciated Collector.
"The Rebirth", by Greenstone
"Experiences of a Kushan POW", by Blink
"Sparks", by bluevorlon - 2nd place -
"Born And Bred", by blackjack
"The First Invasion", by The Collector
"World of Opposites", by Omi-kun
"The Only Lesson", by molotov - 3rd place -
"The Final Battle", by SajuukCor
"Blink", by blackjack
"Close-Combat38", by Bedford
"Tenders of the Garden", by SajuukCor
"Words", by Mr-e-Man
"Missed the Battle", by Mr-e-Man
"Shadows Taller Than Our Souls", by IonFish - Winner -
"Irrationals", by TheGeneral
"Neuroassassin", by Bedford
Ah. Well, if that is the case, I will withdraw my statement.
If not, it stands.
Either way, some clarification would be appreciated Collector.
The one thing I am sure of is, is that I won't be winning this one.
I don't need clairification from outside sources...and if I do then this contest is rigged.
"In the future, I plan on taking more of an active role in the decisions I make." ~Paris Hilton
all that's needed is some specification about what you're referring to.
Okay, so I haven't exactly read all these stories that are so fantastic. I'm printing them off as I write though. Honestly.
With all this mention of the metal fishy being destined to win, I thought I'd better do something, even if it was only to clear my throat and add to a confusion that already seems existent.
Of course, after beginning to re-write the story only a couple of weeks ago, I don't think I stand much chance of winning either. But hey, I'm learning and experimenting with new ideas and how to incorporate them into the text. So there.
Whoo, those stories already blew mine outta the water before I've even posted it! Good Lord, guys, you all are amazing. Specific stuff later
[The Guide] says that the effect of a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster is like having your brains smashed out by a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick.
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
thanks for the comments, ion, and while i'll probably never touch this story again, i'll paste the suggestions into the end.
a short word about the only lesson:
i never really considered entering it in competitions or even doing anything with it other than just putting words on paper. the first two thirds was written on and off for a period of about a month, sometime around january of this year. it languished, half-typed and unfinished, until around a week or so ago, when i decided to write the conclusion, which is actually all the italicized bits.
if you were thinking that it ends abrubptly, that's because it does. no, there's not a method behind my madness, except that i didn't want to type another eight hundred word battle sequence. i'm human too.
SO. if it's disjointed and unfinished, well, that's because it kinda is. writing is just something i do - rarely - as a little self-therapy. i do hope you all enjoyed my little mish-mash of incompleted story bits, though.
I MAY be writing a story for this competition called Armageddon Eve. I'll let y'all guess as to what it'll be about.
Note: This has also been a sig-test
Hiya yous guys! Thought I drop on in and post up my story The Final Battle . The goal of this fanfic of Homeworld is to see the battle through the eyes of unnamed pilots of the fighters and ships. I have a prolog story of this I'm working on, but that won't be up soon (I have to finish it ) Anyways, enjoy!......
Another shot raced by my head as I barrel-rolled towards the attacking Taiidanai fleet. I shook off the feeling of fear months ago, when this alien war started. I punched my Interceptor to the limit and fired off my shots, destroying another Defender. The blue planet moves from my left to the right as I turned. Six months. Everything has lead up to this battle, for Hiigara, our homeworld.
I remember the stories they told, the shock when our race found that we were not originally from our planet, Kharak. Life was already hard for me when the Mothership was under construction; I was part of Kiith Manaan, traveling from place to place with my kiithid. By the time it was done, I signed up for ship duty aboard the voyage. After the tragedy of the Car-Sileem and the burning of Kharak by the Taiidan, I immediately signed for a fighter squadron to exact my revenge to the fullest. My life almost lost all meaning when I found out my family had died because we broke a 4,000 year old treaty forbidding us from entering hyperspace.
From that point on, from the outskirts of Kharak to the Gardens of Kadesh up to here had been nonstop battles to keep our race alive. We started with only five Scouts and Light Corvettes, but now we have Ion and Assault Frigates, Carriers, Destroyers, Heavy Cruisers, and an assortment of Taiidanai rebel ships.
"Attention wing Epsilon," crackled in my ear, "our Ion Cannons are being flanked by Attack Bombers and require escorts."
That's us, I thought as I saw my wingmen brake formation and head towards the frigates. Before joining them I picked off two more Defenders so that our bombers could get through to their target, then did a quick one-eighty and headed towards my comrades.
"Took ya long enough," another voice said. It was my friend. We met in the beginning when he risked his life to save mine by running into an ion beam in a Heavy Corvette. Since then we helped each other out in binds and become quite a team.
"Had to finish the mission," I replied.
"Yeah, almost a suicide mission against twelve Defenders. I'm lucky that I got out of there."
"With the way you fly you're lucky enough to dock with a Carrier."
"You Manaanii are all the same, all talk and no show."
I smirked and headed towards the next assignment.
* * * * *
Over here was much worse than back there. Volleys of missiles and bullets rain the sky followed by explosions on both sides. The Taiidan Mothership was on-hand for this fight, carrying Emperor Riesstiu IV, ruler of the Taiidan empire. I had to switch to neutral tactics to get pass the high speeds of flying metal. I see our cannons being swarmed by bombers. "Looks like twelve of them in wall formation, possible aggressive tactics," I radioed.
"Yeah, and look." I magnified the area to see something following the bombers. "A Defense Fighter."
"Yep..." a short pause, followed by sensor warnings over the ear piece, "...and it looks like their friends want to join our party. I'm reading two Destroyers and a Heavy Cruiser en-route to clean them up."
Another warning siren, but this time it was coming from my ship. I looked to the right of my HUD, and quickly found out what was wrong. "We better hurry then, we're running low on fuel. I don't want to sit around when that cruiser starts taking pot shots at us."
"Agreed. What are the orders?"
Okay now, there's twelve Attack Bombers in a wall formation with heavy backup coming in. We have ten Interceptors plus two Light Corvettes, all low on fuel. Set up our priorities and everything will fall into place.
Deal with reinforcements. "Wing Epsilon to Fleet Command, Taiidan are bringing in help against our Ion Cannons. We cannot take them on and are low on fuel. We will take care of the primary objective of removing the bombers but then we need to make an immediate retreat to a Support Frigate. Over."
"Roger that wing Epsilon, but we just lost our last Support Frigate. We are underway to make another one, but you'll have to report to the Mothership for refueling."
"Copy that Fleet Command, we'll see you in a couple of minutes." I flipped a switch to communicate with the wing. "Switch to neutral tactics and take a claw formation. The corvettes will take the front to draw fire away from the DF while the rest of us will blow it out of the sky. We will then switch to aggressive tactics and a sphere formation to take the pressure from our cannons. Once the threat has been neutralized, switch to evasive and hightail it back to the MS for immediate refueling and repairs."
Confirmations came from across the board.
"Got it," my buddy said. "I bet I can pick off more Taiidanai than you."
"That a challenge?" He always did this in battles, making these games. At first I thought it was all in fun, but later on I found out that it was to cope with the Kharakian Genocide, the loss of the world he grew up in, the loss of his family. I played along because, well, it helped me cope with it also.
We formed up into the claw formation as the corvettes thrusted to the DF with guns ablaze. As usual, it came to life and started shooting down the projectiles. Two Repair Corvettes came to help the cannons as one of them split right down the middle, sending debris everywhere. As we dodged the large sections of the broken hull, we lined up our sights on the Defense Fighter and opened fire. It quickly swung around towards us, taking our shots down, but forgot about the corvettes. Their Mass Drives let loose on the lone Taiidanai, and their shots quickly cut through it. After a while of punishment, it exploded in a little sphere of blue fire. We quickly switched tactics and surrounded the bombers, taking them out one by one. Easier than I thought.
Suddenly, a blue square formed in the middle of the formation of the cannons. "Someone's hyperspacing in, and it's not ours!" someone yelled.
I took out the last bomber and looked at the readings of the ship. "By the hand of Jakuul..." I said, "...it's a Missile Destroyer!"
We started back to the Mothership when it was halfway out of hyperspace. The destroyer became noticed of us when we switched tactics for a final time; it turned slowly and fired four missiles. "Missiles inbound!" I heard.
The corvettes, even in evasive mode, could not outrun the threats screaming behind them. As they made contact I could hear their cries for help tear at me like it was my fault they ended up the way they did. Our Interceptors are slightly faster than the missiles, so we had a small advantage. The Missile Destroyer gave up on us and went after the cannons and Repair Corvette.
* * * * *
We were running on fumes as we inched our way back to the Mothership. The death of the two people under my wing never really hit me. I'd seen many a person fall down at the hand of the Taiidan Empire, and it just numbs your soul to the point that it doesn't phase you mentally, but makes you want to win even more.
We slowly maneuvered into the huge hanger bay for the repairs that we needed. As one of the machines latched onto me and swung me around, I thought about why this happened to us, to be exiled to a barren wasteland with our memory wiped of our true home. We mustn't put up much of a fight if the Galactic Counsel took pity on us and exiled the entire race in the first place, but look at us now: the people who they took pity on is now destroying their exiler's society and life now. Ironic, almost, that if they killed us when they could, they would had taken many other worlds under the name Taiidanai, and sooner or later, the counsel would take pity on some "low developed" race and spare them, only to come back much later to exact their revenge.
As my repairs were finished and refueling completed, I was notified that we were assigned three more Interceptors and four Light Corvettes to the wing. Our next assignment was to protect the Mothership and other capitol ships as they maneuver their way to orbit Hiigara and take the final battle with the Taiidanai Mothership. We launched from the hanger and I told my wing our next mission.
"So basically we have to keep off the strike craft from the bigger ships while they move in for the kill," my friend summarized.
"Yeah, and we have to do a good job too. We have the Mothership plus two Destroyers, four Assault Frigates, and a damaged Heavy Curser. The cruiser will be repairing itself along with a pair of Repair Corvettes, so they are a priority."
The Mothership's engines sparked online as she crawled along the battlefield. The two Repair Corvettes emerged from the bay and encased the Heavy Curser in a green glow, repairing the burnt metal and engines. As we moved along, one of my wingmen asked: "Why do the Taiidan want us dead so badly? I mean, we took out their fleets in other battles, what makes them think they can get rid of us now?"
"That's the problem," my friend came on, "they didn't think. They want to snuff us out so they won't be humiliated throughout the other worlds they took over. Thank Jakuul that some of them saw what was happening and acted upon that."
"What do you think it is like down there?" another asked.
Silence filled the headsets save the explosions from outside. I looked at the planet in front of my ship, at the vast water oceans and lush green jungles. The beaches must fill the air with the sea breeze that I missed so much since the launch. No deserts, no harsh sand storms, just natural life. "It'll be like we never left."
Everyone agreed, and then a ball of fire formed in front of me with pieces of metal and wires hitting my Interceptor.
"They're here!" the pilot of a corvette yelled. Everyone broke formation to dogfight with the strike craft. "It seems mostly Attack Bombers and Interceptors on multiple attack vectors," I said, trying to stabilize my ship before I went off after a bomber. Even though we were guarding them, the heavier ships took place in the battle. The thunder of the ion beams and Rail Guns rumbled my hull as I flew past them. The Assault Frigates had an easier time hitting the attacking bombers than the faster enemy Interceptors.
"They're everywhere!" I heard. I flipped a switch while trying to keep the target in my crosshairs, saying: "Fleet Command, there are to many bogies for us to take down alone and require assistance."
"Copy that. We are sending out Heavy and Multigun Corvettes to assist."
Ten Heavy Corvettes in a X formation and eight Multigun Corvettes in claw formation rushed out into the battle. Scouts and Light Corvettes now joined the Taiidan army as if things weren't thick enough. The Heavy Cruiser and Repair Corvettes were getting the most flank, and we needed the cruiser for the enemy Mothership, so I decided to hover around them and shoot down the attackers.
Four hyperspace signatures jumped on my sensors; all four the same, all four Taiidanai. They were in a sphere formation around our cruiser, and were Skaal Tal Destroyers. It was pretty obvious what their target was.
"Get out of there!" my friend yelled.
"Don't have to tell me twice!" was the reply as I hit the thrusters. A blue beam formed instantly in front of me, and I quickly pulled the flight stick up to avoid it. Big mistake, for I was now face to face with the huge ship. One of his rail guns hit me and I was crippled. I switched to evasive and headed for the Mothership as my attacker slowly tracked and followed me. His ion beams sprung up to the left and right of me and started to close in. I pushed forward the flight stick to dive, made a tight barrel roll and dashed into the protective docking bay of the Mothership. The machine latched onto my Interceptor and began it's repairs. At time like these it always felt like eternity. I could feel small vibrations as the Mothership fired her rail guns.
I could watch the battle with the help of various cameras installed on the hull. We had to stop in order to take out the immediate threats. One of our own Destroyers launched and brought the odds somewhat back in our favor. The ship I ran from was the first to go, bringing with it some strike craft from both sides in the explosion.
An alert on my console: another hyperspace signature.
One of ours! A Missile Destroyer! It was more than halfway out before the Taiidan realized what it was. Some of them fled, while the others hovered around their Destroyers for protection.
As another ship went down for the count under the punishment of the MD, our Heavy Cruiser slowly turned to face another Skaal Tal, forcing it's four ion cannons to target it. It took awhile to charge them, but when they were, it let loose the particle beams on one point on the ship, ripping through it to the other side. It didn't exploded at first, venting it's crew out into space. When it did, it took down the strike craft surrounding it. I don't know what went though the commander's mind in the lone Destroyer, but the ship opened a hyperspace conduit, and ran like the cowards they were.
* * * * *
The path was now clear, and I could see the it in high orbit. It was guarded by an impressive assortment of capitol ships and strike craft. Fortunately, some of our ships had finished their skirmishes and have joined us in the final battle. While both sides each controlled two Heavy Cruisers and Carriers, we pilot more corvettes and strike craft while they have frigates and ion cannons, just enough to lay waste to a small planet. Good thing Hiigara is much larger than Kharak in case things get too desperate for them.
That thought would run through my head for the next some hours. Even though the Taiidan still had colonies on Hiigara, would they make the same decision as six months ago, just to keep us from what is rightfully ours? The Ion Cannons can rip the landscape right open easily with the bombers taking out habitable locations. A bold move by a losing race.
We halted at a short distance from the impending fleet. "What's with the stop?" someone asked.
"I think their working out terms of surrender. I read there's an open comm channel between both motherships, but it's too heavily encrypted for us to hear," I replied.
The Taiidanai ships took a sphere around their MS while the Heavy Cruisers took the sides. Moments later, our side started to move in with an addition of four Support Frigates. "Guess talks didn't work out," a corvette pilot said.
The Cloak Fighters deployed their sails, rendering them invisible while Mine Corvettes laid an extra layer of mines in front of the Mothership for defense. More Heavy Corvettes, Defenders and Attack Bombers started pouring out of our Carriers as the Drone Frigates launched their gun drones from their housing. The capitol ships prefromed final systems checks and Ion Cannons sparked their particle accelerators. Our greatest battle was about to begin.
I heard the battle cry as my friend rocketed to the battle: "For Hiigara!" followed by yells and howlers to the point of almost taking my earpiece out.
The strike craft were the first to reach the huge fleet. As I weaved through the gigantic ships taking my shots, I saw for the first time the shear sizes of the Taiidan Mothership being as wide as the height of ours.
As our capitol ships pulled up, the real action started. The Heavy Cruisers immediately went to the MS while the Assault and Ion Frigates protected them from enemy fire. No matter where I turned, my view was filled with ion beams, missiles and explosions. Plasma bombs now riddled every capitol ship on both sides. The Cloak Fighters phased in and out of space as they unleashed their destruction. The battle has barely started and dead ships were already floating motionless with their pilots dead or dying.
"This is the way I li--" I can hear them all on the comm: a victory cheer followed by a sudden drop-off. These pilots would be remembered the most.
"How is it?" my friend asked.
"Wouldn't change a thing," I replied, taking down a Scout, Interceptor and Attack Bomber in three quick bursts. A Taiidanai Ion Cannon to my right broke in half, causing a huge explosion and, surprisingly, taking down the Destroyer close to it. Our Heavy Cruisers were still holding strong, chipping away at each protective layering. I took a quick glance at my HUD: fuel okay, comm is holding, but hull integrity at fifty percent. I can do it, I kept telling myself. Just hold it off longer.
A badly damaged Assault Frigate took a suicide run into our Ion Cannons, taking out a huge chunk of our fleet. My ship rattled and I looked at the integrity one more time. Thirty-two percent. I rolled to my right to view the Mothership and a shot scraped my ship's underbelly. As I flipped the comm switch, I saw the new number: twenty-seven. "Forget the other ships, go for the Mothership!"
Some time passed before our vessels got their bearings, but they did indeed switched their targets to the root of the problem, taking punishment from the others. I screamed along the topside of the MS with my finger on the trigger. When I got to the end, I climbed, rolled, dived, and did it all over again.
"I'm reading another open comm channel between the two Motherships."
"Someone take a reading on the hull integrity on the MS," I said.
After a while, the answer came not too sooner. "I'm reading an eight percent hull integrity," my friend said.
"Fleet Command to all attacking strike craft, retreat to the Mothership. The resulting explosion will surely destroy all strike craft in the area."
Go, I whispered as I forced myself to turn around and retreat from the battle. I switched to evasive and relayed the message again to my teammates. As soon as I left the area, a stray bullet hit my engine, causing me to lose control for a couple seconds. My hull integrity was now... two. I couldn't believe it. I saw my friend shoot over my ship. "Hey there, how do I look?"
He rolled to catch a glimpse, and I saw him shake his head. "You got more dents than you pride." Both emotions of humor and fear had befallen on me. "Yeah, what do you know," I said shaken.
A warning sounded, and I slowly turned to see not only our strike fleet zoom by, but the most beautiful sight that I ever saw: the destruction of the Mothership and our oppressor, Emperor Riesstiu IV. The explosion had destroyed most of the remaining Taiidanai, while the survivors hyperspaced out or scuttled to prevent capture.
Six months, and now we got what we came for in both revenge and our planet. I did everything I could from the beginning to protect and serve the fine people on the mobile planetary ship we designated Mothership. We encountered many a race; some benevolent like the Bentusi, while others hostile as the Turanic Raiders, Kadesh and the Taiidan. We discovered new technologies beyond our comprehension and utilized them in the field of battle swiftly and efficiently. As I drifted in the hanger bay one last time, I couldn't believe that it's all over.
"And just think," my friend came on, "this is only the beginning."
"Yeah," I replied.
Only the beginning...
Good stuff, everyone who's posted so far.
Things seem to really be shaping up... hopefully we'll have a load more stories before the deadline.
Keep 'em coming!
- ion -
(just a quick reminder, that deadline's the 31st of October -- stories must be posted by Midnight GMT, or they will not be entered for voting)
Umm....should be interesting to convert GMT to PST.
Is the forum clock set to GMT?
My second entry, written in one night in a spooge of creativity. It's around 1,175 words, so not too long...
Ice. Cold. Silver… no, blue. No. Eyes. Yes, eyes, coming toward him, down at him like a shard of rock…
He blinked. The eyes disappeared for a moment, and then they came back. No longer coming closer. Just there. Looking down. Around the eyes. Look around them. A face, that was it. A face in halo, illuminated from behind. A young face, the face of a hopeful student. A doctor? Yes, yes, a doctor. Everything was all right. He couldn’t understand how he knew, nor why it mattered, but it was. He was fine.
Look around. More doctors, some young and some older, grizzled worn faces from the death and blood that their eyes had accumulated over the years of practice. So many of them. So safe, now. More are better. Yes, more is better than less. Yes. It’s alright. It’s safe now. Relax. His muscles relaxed, no longer trying to jump out of the course of those falling rocky eyes.
One of the mouths opened, an older one. It let out a sound, like that of a small animal. He giggled. Animals aren’t supposed to talk. The mouth made the sound again. Wait. Go back. It meant something. At least it was supposed to, but the meaning was caught in the back of his head. Some kind of problem. He tried to touch the inside of his head, to dislodge the memory. It came back with a stickiness on it, and one of the doctors reached over with an icy white hand to stop him from probing further.
That damn sound again. Anger. Why couldn’t he?-
“Can you hear me?” The voice like shards of stone. Grating against each other, yes, that was the sound. The sound of rocks. Grating anyway. Sometimes they made other noises, like when they hit against each other… or tumbled…
How did he know?
He opened his mouth. A sound out, escaping. He let it go. If it wanted to be out so badly it was not up to him to decide its fate. “I think so.” That was all. Nothing else wanted out. His lips closed against each other… dry. Not comfortable, he decided. Anther sound then. “My mouth is dry.”
A few of the doctors looked about. At each other, yes. Not at him anymore. It was somehow more relieving to have fewer eyes on him. One of them turned after a moment, took something from a metallic table, handed it to him. He looked at it for a moment. Cylinder, transparent, solid and rock-like in his hand. Something inside it, something moving. He tried to move it to his lips. But… no… not again… not it… the rock closed in on him again…
The thing shattered.
A few of the doctors jumped, the younger ones. Yes, but the others simply stood. Solid. Immobile. Stone.
He tried to get out of the way. Out of the way of that thing bearing down on him, huge and ugly and powerful and unstoppable. Hand on his limbs, on his arms and legs. Crushing him… no, not crushing. Only holding. Comforting. He stopped thrashing.
Sounds flying louder and faster this time. They were angry and afraid. He cowered. Were they yelling at him? A doctor issued a sound that silenced the others, and patted him on the chest. He decided then that this doctor was the one in charge. The one that would take over if he was hurt. Yes, he was safe with this one.
The doctor, the leader one, spoke. “You’re in the eee-arrr of the tranquility mining base hospital. You’re alright, but you need to stay still. You’ve sustained some damage to the head.”
He tried to stay still. His chest still refused to stop. He tried to slap it, get it to stop moving, but one of the younger ones held him down now. Not safe with this one. Not at all. He looked at the one for a moment. It was the same young face that had peered down at him a moment earlier.
“Do you want to see your wife?”
He tried not to move, he really did. But, wait, the mouth had to move, yes. But… no… the doctor had told him. But…
The doctor looked up, something in his eyes. He looked at another. “Go get her out of-“
Something rushed into the room, through an opening in the walls. He hadn’t seen it before, and the thing speeding out of it terrified him. Not another stone, please no.
No, the doctors. Yes, they would keep him safe from the rock.
But it came right up to him, and ate him.
It made noises.
“Oh god honey I thought you were dead I thought I’d never see you again I love you so much…”
He tried to pull away from the thing that tried to smother him. It moved away a little. He tried to back away more, but it held onto him with powerful jaws. It backed off. The rock had eyes. No, not a rock. A face, a woman, not in white like the doctors. In a blue thing. With green eyes. Red hair. He liked her. There was a something about her that made him feel safe. But what was she? Why was she talking to him? He felt like making sounds again.
“Who are you?”
That same thing he’d seen in the doctor’s eyes filled hers. It was intense, intensely cold and frightening. What had he done?
She said some more. “Honey… are you okay? Are you…”
A doctor laid his hand on her shoulder. Pulled the woman away. They backed to one corner of the room. Huddled together. Quiet noises issuing from the doctor, the woman shrinking. At last they turned to him. Her eyes… what was wrong with her eyes? What was it? They were frightening, frightened. He shrunk from them. At last he uttered quietly, curious, to the doctor, “What’s happening to her eyes?”
She made noises and rushed out, and every doctor looked down. Finally the eldest one, the leader, laid the hand on his chest again. He looked at it. Grizzled with age, it laid upon his hand like a weary resting beast. Something made him look up.
The doctor stared at him.
“Who was she?” he asked. He wanted to know. Needed to know why she had that presence.
“Just… someone,” the doctor told him.
He leaned back, quiet. Nothing to worry about anymore. The doctors would fix him. Maybe he could meet the woman again.
Dark closed around him. White replaced with black, red and green and blue replaced with a lingering memory of softness and warmth. But something was wrong now. Something tried to get out of his eyes. He opened them, something wet and cold on his eyelid. Asked the doctor about it.
“Am I okay? Am I safe?”
The doctor gave him that look again. The warm one. “Yes, you’re safe.”
He closed his eyes just as he realized his question had not been answered.
That was interesting BJ, I do not know what to say other than that it is good and shows a lot of description. pretty accurate description of Amnesia.
blackjack: as Greenie said, an excellent depiction of amnesia, written with your usual flair. Very effective; with the addition of some new material and ideas, it could form the basis for a truly great short story -- I loved the imagery, and the feelings it evoked, so I think this story could become, with the right type of creative input, something very special indeed.
- ion -
Last edited by ionfish; 12th Oct 01 at 11:21 AM.
... but I won't be revising this one at all. It was pretty much like a haiku short story, and I intend to leave it as-is. I appreciate the commentary though... perhaps I'll come back to it later, but right now ntohing is planned.
Besides, can't resubmit for editing anyway
/_"it isn't necessary to have something to believe in. it's only necessary to believe that somewhere there's something worthy of belief."
/_gully foyle - the stars my destination
Well, maybe it's one of those things you need to leave to simmer in the depths of your brain, until some suitable other ideas come along to combine it with...
<beats self with stick of doltishness>
sry greenie... I was just reading something Collector wrote and obviously got confused.
By the way, Are you almost done with your short???
I mean if you wait until the last minute to post it, well then . . . . err nevermind. Anyway hurry up with it
No. But it is happening.By the way, Are you almost done with your short???
It's not the prolog, but something I made one day, called To Protect and Serve . It has nothing to do with the stuff that's going on, that's for another short I made...
They travel across galaxies, searching for new worlds. They move in great numbers: no less than a hundred, no more than ten thousand. Once on a habitable planet, they search and destroy. Any life they find, they'll commit the ultimate act of genocide, the elimination of the entire species. They are neither living nor nonliving: a machine, created by an unknown race eons ago. They are small and insect-like with four three-jointed legs and a spherical body. The body holds the mind while the legs house the technology to destroy and the means to get them into space. They operate with a hive mind, working as a collective towards the ultimate objective. There is no "mother" mind, for there is no need; they work together flawlessly when problems arrive and when help is needed. Embedded into their main memory are three secondary directories: one is to repair any damaged parts, two is to reproduce and create more of their kind, and three is to neutralize any threat to themselves. Essentially, they are perfect.
They were now inbound to another planet in a swarm of seven thousand eight hundred forty-two. Determining the planet's location, distance from its sun and other variables, life was on the planet. In fact, when they touched down, they found many different types of species, ranging from water dwellers, land walkers and sky fliers. Elimination began immediately, starting with the mindless plant life. The plants varied from small pieces that grew everywhere to large ones that grew more sparsely. The next species were small, unevolved critters with small legs and body-length tails. They burrowed underground to escape the newcomers, but it was no matter, for the beings just destroyed the land itself. Further on, they found large four legged creatures that were faster than they. They clawed and bit the machines, destroying a couple before meeting their demise. The destroyed ones were repaired by the others and moved on, their numbers steadily growing. The most advanced species they found were tall, two legged animals. Instead of attacking hands on, they attacked from afar, using primitive weaponry. It was harder for them to get close, but they meet their fate as the others. As they produced and spread, they found that this animal was not like the others on the planet; they live, eat and sleep very differently than all the others, and even attached materials to them for concealment. When the two meet again, they were in greater numbers and had more superior weapons. They used explosives and metal beasts to combat with the machines. They, too, still had no chance against the swarm. The third time, strangely, was in the sky in big metallic objects where they dropped bigger explosives. It took some time, but the swarm adapted and destroyed the fliers. The machines multiplied into the hundreds of millions, where waves of them shook the land and destroyed everything in their path. More than half the world had been cleansed and was continuing rapidly. The forth encounter was of one being, who only took a machine. The swarm deemed it was of no threat, and let it go, knowing that the species will soon be gone. Soon later, there was a fifth encounter. Being a persistent species, the beings were curious on seeing what they would do. It was three sky fliers, flying much higher than the third contact. They each dropped an explosive, just like the others. As they fell, the swarm scanned the objects in order to project the amount of reproduction will be needed. Before they impacted, they found their answer.
The devices contained an element from their database, called plutonium. They were atomic nuclear devices. The damage in the area vaporized tens of thousands of them. On other parts of the planet, the same action was taking place, destroying all of the machines at the great price of half the planet being devoid of all life. The species studied the lone machine, now the last of its kind. Visual observation showed a picture on the side of the body: three different color shades with thirteen lines, each one an alternation of the two. The top left was the third shade with fifty images like of the points in the black sky. After extensive digging into its memory core, they found that the machines were created by a race as protectors; defenders against their own kind. As the machines evolved and grew, they deemed that their creators were a threat to themselves, and turned on them. When the species were gone, the machines became the creators, and deemed that all life other than their own were threats, and started the cleansing process. The beings found that the creators were closely genetically related to them with the same state of technology they once had, but decided not to take the ultimate sacrifice their species just did, to scorch and burn the planet to the point were nothing will live again, just to kill the machines. The last piece of information they pulled was a gold disc inside the body. It contained images of the creators plus a galactic map, showing where their homeworld once was. Near it, was the world's name: Earth.
ahh, what the hell, here's that short: The Day
See, and feel the pain.
People lost, but not forgotton.
Terror cast and security comprimised.
Even now, fear grips,
Marking a dark day in history,
Bringing down trust and safety.
Eternity and beyond...
1 day, America stood still.
1 time, never again.
Last edited by SajuukCor; 17th Oct 01 at 11:20 AM.
Hi all. Announcing the up-and-coming short story Neuroassassin by my own hand. Following it is Close-Combat 38. Both are my own take on literary noir. Both will be posted soon... when I've had a friend or two read them. Lets see if I can surpass everyone elses' skills.
Last edited by Bedford; 20th Oct 01 at 7:50 AM.
As far as I can discover, there's no minimum word limit. That means this short should go down rather well, being as it is only 870 words long (approximately).
C L O S E - C O M B A T 3 8
B E D F O R D
He gripped her jaw in his large hand, tough skin of his fingers causing fleshy ripples on hers; soft to the touch.
'Tell us the fucking truth, Laurice. Tell us now,' he snarled. A droplet of his made its way and landed on her upper lip.
She looked at him coolly, calmly; blue eyes sparkling with predatorial intelligence.
'Get fucked, asshole,' she said, moving her jaw stiffly against his palm.
'Let her go Max: easy now.'
The other man spoke softly and with his own air of intelligence: the sentience of a pig. Expressing no concern, he followed his hand with his eyes, as long thin fingers pushed the burnt remains of a cigarette down into a small glass dish. Tendrils of smoke rose from the dying embers as they were starved and extinguished.
'I said let her go.'
No modulation or inflection of voice when he spoke, head down; eyes still averted, focusing on the rising grey wisps. A three-blade fan rotated silently above their table, drawing them in - the room was bathed in darkness but for a thin grey circle of encompassing light.
Max gave a grunt, but released the girl's jaw, lifted his other hand off the table and pushed himself back down into the wooden chair; away from her.
'That's better.' He looked up, cold green eyes fixing on her. He gestured to the black gun resting in the centre of the desk, the epicentre of light. 'Want to tell me where you got this, lady?'
She shook her head, holding his gaze. Her hands were beneath the table, picking uselessly at the metal chain that bound her wrists
He sighed, dusted some imaginary dust from the sleeve of his grey suit jacket.
'You know what’s going to happen if you don't tell us, don't you?'
A nod; her own but nothing said. Spared thoughts not for fear or escape; just to see his blood.
'Yeah,' said Max, voice breaking into the silence, besieging it in rough tones, 'we'll kill you. Get it? Clogs popped, coffin nailed, sixed. You follow, fucker?'
She just went on staring at him. Blood, his deep red blood, all over that nice grey suit.
He shifted his eyes from her, faced the slowly rotating fan hanging from the ceiling above and rubbed his eyes with the bases of his palms. When he looked at her, their rims were redlined, small whites of his eyes pink and bloodshot.
'Max is right, Laurice. You know the penalty.'
She nodded, 'Too right, you motherfucker.'
'Now, now lady. Watch that tongue of yours.'
Silence again, as there had been when they'd started this. The noiseless fan continued to move, shifting motes of dust. The wisps from the nic were gone; the white stub of a home-rolled sat bent in the bottom of the smoothed glass ashtray. Light glinted absentmindedly on its rim.
'You can't kill me.'
Statement: it rang around the room, through the ears of her would-be captors.
Max grinned, cracked his knuckles. 'Oh yeah? And why is that?'
'Someone's bound to find out.'
'In a silenced room? Bodies are small when they're cut up, don't you agree, bitch?'
She shrugged but declined to reply. The suited man went on as if they hadn't spoken; as if he didn't believe she was incapable of performing death.
'Why did you come here, Laurice? What's your business?'
'I told you already, you bastard.'
'So tell me again!' he said, lifting the volume of his voice.
She snarled and bared her teeth. Her hands went up and over the desk's edge before they could blink; fettered hands closed around the handle of the black gun before the fan had completed another motion; two bullets fired as fast as would allow.
The two bodies remained in their seats, though Max's head now rested on the table, compliments to his bulk. A trickle of red coursed its way from underneath him; across the table and towards the glass ashtray. It brought colour to the grey; pigmented the monochrome.
Blood seeped from Lincoln's left breast, soaking into and darkening the grey suit jacket: tainting it.
She sat the gun down on the edge of the table nearest her, shrugged off the links of metal chain; the alloy slipped through her soft skin as though it were water.
She placed the chain inside the bowl, avoiding to touch the twisted nic, then retrieved the weapon.
'That's why, you arsehole motherfuckers,' she said, blue eyes glinting with something more than human intelligence, and a little less human.
The door opened - ferry of air currents - closed. The fan's three blades went round a few more times.
He leaned over to his partner, digits fingering the hole in his own chest. 'You okay Max?'
The large man groaned a little then lifted himself from the table. 'Yeah,' he said, 'never felt any fucking better.'
Lincoln looked at the empty chair, took in the absence of the gun and the twisted coils of the silver chain lying in the dish.
'I can't believe she did that Max.'
Max nodded, 'Yeah man. What a fucking bitch.'
'Ruined my best suit.'
Last edited by Bedford; 21st Oct 01 at 1:22 PM.
The deadline draws nearer... any more entries? I myself have one, as soon as I get it typed...
All entries so far (including the classic "The Last BAttle") are very impressive.
[plug]What I'd like to add, though, is that for those who may not win this competition still has a shot at winning the Relic Fiction Award for Best short Story. I may be wastign my breath, since teh person who wins this contest just might win that award as well, but this shouldn't dis-hearten (is that a word?) those of you who'd like a second try.
Oh, and nominations for the 2nd RBFA will commence on the 12th of November, about two weeks after these awards end.[/plug]
I'm done! Tenders of the Garden is finished and right here! Oh yeah, Blackjack, these stories are different from the ones on Kiith Iopia, so if you're putting them up there, just take the ones here.
We dropped from hyperspace and the hanger bay doors opened. Seconds later, we were given the go-ahead to release from dock and head out. It was beautiful; the colors were heavenly as they streaked across space and resource veins were everywhere. Behind us the Resource Collectors roared past and went into formation. Four Assault Frigates and six Ion Cannons were already outside and online, waiting for orders. The Research Division reported that they're working on a new capitol ship drive as I steered my Light Corvette into the proper line with the others.
"Damn, what's up with the sensors?" my friend asked.
I didn't even turn my own on yet. As I did, hundreds of emergency pings and enemy locations filled the screen. "It's the Taiidan!" I yelled.
"Nah, the nebula and resources are screwing with the sensors. Fleet Command just radioed that they're working on it." I calmed down and relaxed a bit. He went on: "Besides, as far as I can tell, if the Taiidanai were here, we'd be fighting them right now."
"I guess you're right," I replied. Looking down, I read the orders. "We got it easy today. Orders are to stand by and wait for the collection operation to finish."
"By the size of those veins, we're going to be here for a while."
Collectors and Controllers departed in three directions and started harvesting. It was unsettling to just sit and wait for once, especially here. I read that the Bentusi said that no one exits the nebula from the transmission logs of their last visit, but it's those cursed Taiidan and Turanic Raiders we need to worry about now, trying to brush us off like our race never existed. Life was a battle everyday, and looks like today we're getting some deserved time off.
Maybe not, looking down again at the sensors. "Hey, is anyone reading this?"
"A Mothership signal? Yeah, I see it," my friend answered. Everyone else did to, as did Fleet Command as new orders came through. "Looks like we got guard duty."
Three wings of four Light Corvettes, six Heavy Corvettes, four Scouts and twelve Interceptors rushed to protect our resource investment. Us two in our LCs went with the top group. The Assault Frigates formed a wall formation as did the Ion Cannons; both groups stayed with our MS.
"MS now in visual range," said a commander. I rolled to see the object: it was a little small for a Mothership class, resembling a white needle with a large disk on the front. Visually, it had no weapons to speak of, but was moving pretty fast for its somewhat large size.
The ambassador ship was launched as the unknown Mothership came to a stop. Seconds later, a small ship shot out of a hidden hanger of the needle MS. They met between the two behemoths. Their sizes were undeniably noticeable, the unknown ship being less than a sixth to the refitted Heavy Corvette. Their words were heard by everyone...
"This is the Garden of Kadesh. For thirteen generations we have protected it from the unclean..."
"Wow, that's quite a while they spent here. Wonder if that's what stumped their growth," my friend joked, followed by complaints to keep it down.
"...The Turanic Raiders who came before you refused to join and were punished for this trespass. Like theirs, your ship has already defiled this holy place. If you have come to join we welcome you and will spare your ship until all have disembarked. If you have come to consume the Garden you will be removed at once."
Please give a good response...
The ambassador spoke. "We were unaware of the significance of this location. We mean you no conflict. Please allow us time to prepare our engines so we may withdraw as requested."
Their response time was short. "If you will not join, then die. There is no withdrawal from the Garden." The small ship turned around and headed back.
"Damn, everyone wants us dead," someone said.
"They can't be that bad, look how small they are," added another.
The ship entered its command ship, and almost instantly, hundreds of the tiny ship poured from the needle along with three frigate class vessels. I could hear many of my shipmates curse and sigh under their breath. I swallowed hard and quickly searched for the evasive tactics panel. Three groups of twenty-four headed towards the Collectors as the rest made a beeline to our Mothership. We waited with an unwanted anxiety for them as they danced around in the space, casting and weaving their long yellow trails through the area that was so peaceful minutes before. They were quite a while away when they started their attack. We dodged the initial shots and started our run. The Interceptors, being faster than the others, reached them first. Strangely, even though two were destroyed on the first pass, the fighters flew on. The Swarmers, aptly named for their numbers, kept their target in view, the Collector, and held down their triggers.
As soon as the Collector felt the bullets against its hull, they made the smart decision to make a hasty retreat back to the Mothership. I tried to stay on one ship, but ended up always having two more on my tail. "These guys are too damn fast!"
"We'll need to keep this up for another eight minutes until the Mothership has enough energy to jump out." The Research Division was doing what they did best, attacking a bad situation with new technology. As the Super Capitol Ship Drive was finished, they announced they were working on a new corvette design that targets up to six different enemies at once, called a Multigun Corvette. Until then, every available ship was defending the extinction of our race. The Assault and Ion Cannon Frigates forced their way to the Kadesh Mothership and began their barrage. Panels opened around the needle to reveal thirteen Mass Drives as well as two on the saucer baring powerful Ion Beam cannons. My friend and I broke formation and headed to help our assaulting force. We circled it and started chipping away at its hull as we dodged their suppressing fire.
"Its hull integrity is rather low for a ship of this size. I'm reading that it's at sixty-eight percent already," an Assault Frigate transmitted as it fired another round of plasma bombs. Panels and wires started to fly around the vicinity of the battles as more and more ships scrambled from the Kadesh and Kharak Motherships.
I heard the comm rattle on: "This is group Alpha defending the Mothership. We are under extreme heavy fire and require backup from any unit. All the Collectors and Controllers are in. Repeat, we need every available unit..." then static.
I broke off as my friend did. On our way there, we saw eight Swarmers slowly creep their way to one of their frigate vessels. "That must be some sort of Support Frigate. Look at them crawl their way back for repairs," my friend commented.
"I don't think so," I replied. "Those ships don't even have a scratch on them, but look how they fly, all erratic. I think they're out of fuel." As I got closer to the frigate, our brand new capitol ship rolled out of the assembly line, called a Destroyer. I brought up my scanner system and did a quick flyby. "There's nothing in there but fuel. It's a Fuel Pod."
"That's some original name, now lets take out those Swarmers." He banked and destroyed three in one pass. My strategy was just to sit in one spot and take them down, conserving my precious fuel. After the ships were gone, the Fuel Pod slowly turned and started firing its only weapon, a small Rail Gun. "Bold move."
"Very." I opened a channel to the Destroyer. "The lumbering frigates out here are fuel pods. Take them out and the Swarmers will be sitting ducks."
"Roger that, we'll see what we can do," the commander replied. The Destroyer turned and headed towards the one closest to us. Their Rail Guns thundered and destroyed two docking ports, then its two side mounted ion cannons flared on and flew right through it. As the beams hit the fuel, the pod exploded with enough force to destroy seven nearby Swarmers and cripple four more. Us two made a hasty escape before the explosion.
Just then, a bright blue and white light was cast over my ship; I had to shield my eyes it was so bright. As it died down, I realized it was the Kadesh Mothership as huge pieces of debris floated into space. Part of the saucer section hit a nearby Fuel Pod and it, the surrounding Swarmers and some of our forces went up all at once.
"News from the MS. Engines are charged and are ready to get the hell out of here."
"Best news I heard all day," I said as I flew towards our floating city, taking out the motionless ships on the way. Teach them not to mess with us. All of the Fuel Pods were gone and only fifteen or so Swarmers were still at flying status. I went back into the huge hanger and let the machine latch on. The rest of the fleet came through when the threat was at its bare minimum. The larger ships with hyperspace drives lined up in the basic military parade formation with the Mothership after being repaired by some newly made Repair Corvettes and one Support Frigate, and opened multiple conduits into hyperspace.
I sat in my ship as the others disembarked from theirs. Sweat was dripping from my face as I held it in my hands. It's been some months since we started this journey, but I never thought I would see so many ships at once, and so fast. Strange how they attacked us almost without cause, just because they thought that the nebula that we were in was theirs. My friend walked up and knocked on my ship. I unlocked the canopy and jumped out. "Some shoot'n there," he praised.
"I was talking about me, hotshot."
"Yeah, well, thank Jakuul that we got out of there. How long until re-entree?"
"About a minute."
Wow, a whole minute. "So, what was up this those guys? They thought they owned the place."
"Own nothing, we put them in their place..." he took a moment to hear something in his earpiece. "Fleet Command say that the Kadeshi hyperdrive signature was of the same as ours, and since ours was taken from Khar-Toba, they think those could've been Kharakian pilots."
"Those guys related to us? Hardly."
"Oh, and look over there. "I turned to where he was pointing. "Those are the new Multigun Corvettes. They finished researching everything when the MS went down."
"We needed them back there, would've save us fewer loses." I looked around the hanger, and I could see the damage done to the fleet with more than one-third of the ships lost. Good thing we don't have to go through that again.
The floor rattled as we exited hyperspace. I walked to a nearby panel and turned on the video sensors.
It can't be...
It was the same heavenly sky, but now it's filled with the fear I wanted to put behind.
The word spread quickly throughout the hanger; pilots cursed louder than before as they ran back to their fighters. My friend didn't say a word, already running back to his Light Corvette when I turned to mine. All of the repaired and refueled ships fired out of their latchings first, expecting the worst outside. I pulled out when half of the fleet departed, but when I did, there was nothing: no yellow trails, no fuel pods, just emptiness. In fact, judging from the objects in the nebula, we hadn't moved an inch. The chatter over the earpiece was filled with questions and aggravation, then Fleet Command clicked on...
"Sensors detect hyperspace inhibitors in a triangular formation..." three distinct and familiar blips where now on the HUD. "Even one can keep us from entering hyperspace."
Three Mothership classes?
"The Bentusi were right, we're never getting out of here!" yelled a frightened pilot.
"Shut up man," said another, "of course we're getting out of here. We know how they fly and how to take them out. Plus with the addition of another Destroyer, Assault Frigate and seven Multigun Corvettes with eight more on the way, they'll wish they'd never started this fight!"
"Just imagine the number the number of ships this time. There were over a hundred coming out of one, but now there's three!"
I heard them argue and bicker over the comm, but I paid no attention to them as I went over a plan in my head.
With the Collectors locked down, the Kadesh will head for the Mothership. If we keep the Multigun Corvettes and the remaining...three Scouts and twenty-eight Interceptors with her, that should provide enough defense. The Support Frigate and two Repair Corvettes can stay back for repairs too. The Destroyers, Assault and Ion Cannon Frigates have to concentrate on one MS at a time with aggressive tactics while the rest of the strike craft act as defense. If we can keep it up, the Swarmers won't be much of a threat.
I opened a channel to Fleet Command and explained my tactics, and they agreed, sending the orders to everyone. The Research Division reported they were well on their way on incorporating Drone technology to our frigate design, allowing one hundred percent firing coverage. As we set up and waited for the remaining crafts to be repaired, a different type of Swarmer flew from the Mothership in front of us. We dubbed this kind as an Advance Swarmer since it was bulkier and carried two more Mass Drives, but still had the speed of the original. It opened communications to Fleet Command:
"Again we offer you the chance to join us and live here in peace."
This time, Karen Sjet, literally the brains of the Mothership, spoke to the Kadesh. "We cannot stay - we're on a journey. But let there be peace between us, for we have something in common. The hyperspace technology left to us by our ancestors is identical to yours. The Homeworld we seek may by yours as well."
"You will fail. The evil that drove us here will find and destroy you. From you they will know of us and come here. This cannot come to pass."
I couldn't believe it. They are the same as us, the same race that was driven from our home, exiled to Kharak, but ended up in this nebula to hide from the Taiidan, and yet they still cower before them. As the Advance Swarmer shot back to his command ship, our force started the run on the upper-front inhibitor. The defense strike craft took a sphere formation around the capitol ships, all set on evasive tactics, while the Scouts, Interceptors and Multigun Corvettes prepared for their attackers.
The first wave came and we separated into pairs, and in a matter of seconds, bullets filled my view. With my friend as my wingman, we swept through the masses of metal and started taking down enemy ships. As we emerged on the other side of the battle, something caught my eye: it was another Kadeshi vessel, smaller than a fuel pod while just slightly faster. It had to be a frigate class, and was very sleek, almost all curves. I adjusted my course to intercept it and rattled its hull with my Mass Drive. On my second pass, it turned very quickly towards me, and before I knew it, four ion beams flared up on my left and right. I instantly banked to my left, being ranked by two beams in the process. Being as fast as I was with a remaining seventy-four percent hull integrity, it still followed me in its sights even with my wingman now harassing it. After about fifteen seconds of running, the beams ceased. "A Multibeam Frigate?"
"You're just to literal with these names, man. Couldn't give it something edgy, could you, like Qwaar-Jet Cor or something?" Qwaar-Jet was the god of pain and enslavement on Kharak. We had yet to come across a ship to bare his name, although it was rather edgy. I called together seven of the ten Heavy Corvettes and an Ion Cannon to take care of the MBF as our fleet reached the first Mothership. The sensors were still screwed up, but you really didn't need them; they were everywhere. The Fuel Pods were getting regular dump offs as we continued our attacks. The Swarmers were adapting to our defense runs, forming wings to take care of our craft one at a time becoming even deadlier with every shot.
Two MBFs launched from the Mothership before an ion beam shot through one of its many hangers. Two Assault Frigates then got around to the other side of the saucer and launched their plasma bombs into the remaining hangers. They must have been building some new Fuel Pods, for when the plasma bombs hit, the saucer exploded violently from the inside-out. The force alone crippled the two nearby frigates as well as destroying more Fuel Pods and Swarmers from the debris. There was no celebration yet as the fleet overpowered the remaining pods to prevent the fighters from giving chase. Myself and the other Light and Heavy Corvettes traveled back to our Mothership for repairs as our fleet moved to the Kadeshi vessels behind it. My friend went with them; we would never pass up this great fight. Upon reaching her, we could see a fierce battle: the now fourteen Multigun Corvettes were just barely holding out to the onslaught of Swarmers and MBFs. The Support Frigate and Repair Corvettes provided repairs as they laid down little flank from their light weaponry. The Research Ships where closer to the MS to stay within her defense line of fire while still trying to work out the problems with Drone technology.
The returning strike craft and I docked with the SF. Four ion beams appeared on the hull above me, but disappeared just as quick under the punishment of the fighters. After repairs and refueling were complete, we detached and I opened a channel to the defense force. "You guys need help here? The attack force shouldn't have any problems with us being here."
A MGC exploded in my view as an Interceptor pilot came on. "We need a little reinforcement. Since the battle started we lost the Scouts, two MGCs and nine Interceptors. We can't build much more or we'll hinder our resource reserves."
The LCs and HCs formed onto my ship into a claw formation and began attacking the fuel-depleted Swarmers, the easier targets for us in our slow-moving corvettes. After quite some time, reports came in that the second Mothership fell under the extreme harassment of the Ion Cannons and are now underway to the last suppressor. The number of Swarmers diminished as the supplier went down. We haven't lost a fighter since we came to help; shows how much a group of strike craft can go.
As we shot another fuel starved fighter, a strange idea came to me. It was a farfetched one at best, but it should solve our low fighter production. I once again opened communications to Fleet Command. "I've got a strange proposal, but it should work. If we build some Salvage Corvettes, we should be able to commandeer the motionless fighters and Multibeam Frigates out here." After a moment of silence, they reluctantly agreed but said that they could only build three of them with the resources we have, bringing a total of four.
The one made already flew from the hanger and started his mission. This Salvage Corvette was the one we built before the first hyperspace test. They were sturdy vessels, having more armor than us in the Light Corvettes, but that made up for no weaponry. Its first target was a Swarmer drifting near the bottom of our Mothership, having no trouble latching on to it. Our wing started going after Fuel Pods now to have a greater number of salvageable crafts. As the SC reentered the hanger, another launched from it and made a beeline to a MBF. Our forces would be much stronger with that on our side! It attached itself to the side of it, but couldn't move it until the other came to help. The Swarmer stayed inside, possibly to convert its fuel systems and for the pilot to learn the controls.
There was now nothing left to do; the Salvage Corvettes were now taking in ships at a slow pace, and since they're grabbing everything around the MS, there was nothing to shot at. No word yet from the assaulting force. I was reading faint hyperspace signatures, but thought nothing of it since the inhibitor was still on and the nebula messing with the sensors. I told my wingmen that they could offer support if they wished, and they did, leaving me here with the SCs. I pulled up to a floating Advance Swarmers. "Hey, want to talk?" Nothing. "Why do you want us dead? We are the same people, we should be working together to get back our Homeworld."
"You will fail."
"You know, you're the third race that thinks that. The Raiders were the first, and the 'evil' you speak of are the Taiidan, and we beat them both at every encounter. What makes you guys so different?"
"We lived here for many generations, perfecting the technology that we have acquired."
"Here is nothing compared to the planet we were stuck on. Harsh deserts, war, droughts and famine; that just scratches the surface on what we went through,"
"We survived through many more a difficult time than you have described. Our resources come from passing travelers as yourself, and fewer and fewer are entering. We dare not touch the veins of the nebula for the fear of detection and punishment."
"The Taiidan are frightened by your nebula, they'll never go in here! There's enough resources in here to build a galactic fleet!"
"You might say that the nebula is a holy object to us."
Oh yeah, great: religious pirating zealots. "Well, holy or not, we're getting out of here, and we will regain our Homeworld again."
A short piercing laughter came from the Kadesh pilot. "You will fail. We know of the evil's fleet of warships. We know of the scale of their empire across the galaxies. And we know of the Homeworld. We obtained this information from the travelers who enter." A Salvage Corvette came from beneath us and started towing him to be refitted. "Know of this: the vessels you encountered here are the surface of our massive fleet hiding coreward. If you do reclaim the lost Homeworld, we will come and take what is rightfully ours."
Threats!? "Have fun with the last minutes of life you have."
"I am prepared to die for my race. Are you?" He sent a secure transmission to the ships in the immediate area. Seconds later, before entering the hanger, he scuttled his ship, but caused no damage to either the Salvage Corvette or Mothership. The other ships did the same, sacrificing themselves to prevent us from acquiring their vessels. Oh well, I guess you really can't take them all. I pulled up a list of the crafts we did capture: eleven Swarmers, three Advance Swarmers and five Multibeam Frigates. Not bad, especially the MBFs. We had enough trouble making one beam in an entire frigate, but they made four in half the size! And now we have them. Although we can't reverse engineer the technology due to fail-safe devices, we can still operate them.
As I round the Mothership to survey the damage, our force returned, limping from the last Kadesh encounter. Of the force, only a Destroyer, three AFs, four ICs and three LCs returned, all in bad shape. The strike craft entered the hanger while the SF and RCs started repairing the vessels to get them at least to fighting status in case we jump into a premature battle. Again, the machine grabbed my Light Corvette and began its repairs. I walked out and went to my friend's ship which docked seconds after me. It was torn up almost: burnt marks and chunks of metal covered the ship, the engine was flickering and the turret looked like it could fall off any time. His cockpit grind open, him forcing it for enough room to get out. "What happened?"
He took a deep breath of the synthesized air that we all complained and joked about. "It was the damnedest thing. We were on our way to the final Mothership, and when we saw it, it hypered on us. Moments later, it appeared behind us and rammed our Destroyer! They didn't have a chance, gone in one hit. The other took a safe distance, but the frigates had to stay close to hit it. The soon suffered the same fate." He coughed and went on. "The MS wasn't dispensing as many Swarmers as the others, but it was enough to destroy the wing coming from our Mothership. There wasn't any MBFs or we would have been in big trouble."
"We just captured five of them."
He smirked. "That was you idea, wasn't it? Figures."
"Come on, lets get you patched up." I took him by the shoulder and walked him, almost to the point of dragging, to the Medical Center in the hanger. When the Repair Corvettes were finished, the hanger closed and the ships entered hyperspace. Was it an empty threat the Kadeshi pilot made, that if...when we take back Hiigara they will come for us? And what was that about a massive fleet? Big questions with bigger answers. Maybe we will find out someday, and all the answers will fit in place.
Or maybe we're better off with questions.
We'l be posting all of these stories after the competition. Sorry to say but we're amazingly backed up and have little time to work recently...
Yeah I know
Just tell'n ya they're not the same as the ones on the site
I have been alerted to signature abuse. You have 0 seconds to comply. oospie ur ded mr sajuukcor.
One.... more.... day....
Just a little reminder: all entries must be posted by Midnight of the 31st (Greenwich Mean Time), i.e. in a little under 23 hours from when I post this.
Good luck, everyone... as soon as the deadline passes I shall post a poll which'll probably be left up for a day or two to give everyone a chance to vote.
(I'm just finishing off mine, it should be up tomorrow morning...)
Last edited by ionfish; 31st Oct 01 at 6:52 AM.
Crunch time, so I'll pull a BJ and post a "stock" story in case I don't finish my competition story on time (within the next 20 hours).
The words were outraged. Sure, none of them were often chosen by their human, but when they were chosen, they were chosen abundantly. Now, after many years of the same, the Man had forsaken them. They accounted this to a strange force known as “Teacher.” Out of the entire dictionary, only 1600 words had been selected! They looked upon these chosen words with envy, staring into the 5 five kilobytes which represented Big Writer Man’s newest short story. To them, being taken into a story was a sort of social dignification, assuring them a place among the respected aristocratic words. The lowest class possible for a word was that of adverb, slave of the verb, adjective, and even others of its own kind. Even its adjective cousins only had one master, the noun. Adverbs had three.
Some words, Credenza and Lexis being good examples, were rarely, if ever, used. However, these words were so proud of their intellegent-sounding names that they downright assumed that respect would come to them from “lesser” words.
One of these smaller, less intelegent words was a very meek individual named Stuff. It was rumored that the Big Writer Man’s teacher didn’t want Stuff included in his literature. Stuff was rumored to be very unintellegent, and the big words looked down upon him as if he were of some sort of lesser vocabulary.
These rumors weren’t wholly inadequate. Stuff knew very little of the file that contained the stories, and during the one brief period in which he had actually caught a glimpse of the file, he had been cruelly deleted as a spelling error! Life was difficult for such a short word.
The only other instance when less than two-thousand words had been used was during a history report. That was also the only time in memory when Credenza had been chosen.
It was obvious that Stuff hadn’t been chosen for Big Writer Man’s newest work. Why in the world would the Man throw such an unintellegent word as Stuff into the mix when words were supposed to be few? It made sense in a strange way, and Stuff learned to live with it. He hadn’t expected to get in, anyway.
Stuff and his two friends, Some and Little, edged their way through the ever-growing mob that had recently gathered around the Story File. Great Printer was heard whirring and buzzing the words onto paper, the greatest honor for the Vocabulary species.
A very small crowd hobbled away from the file. Most appeared pleased to return to Dictionary File, to their home. It must have been a long week lying stationary in that Story. Although Stuff had never been there himself, he had heard others tell him that even though words made a big fuss about being selected, it got pretty darned cramped after the first day.
One of the returning words caught Stuff’s eye. Excavate. Stuff knew that he didn’t retain much in the way of knowledge, But still, he usually recognized the other words. Even A, one of the most haughty of all words, admitted that.
Stuff ambled over to Excavate on the bottoms of his f and s. Excavate was stretching his vowels after a hard week of stationary storage. Stuff decided to introduce himself, hoping to discover Excavate’s meaning. “Hello, I’m Stuff. I Rarely get chosen for the Gold List, and I don’t believe we’ve met before.”
“We haven’t.” Came Excavate’s strained voice. He didn’t seem friendly.
“I see.” Stuff still wanted to learn Excavate’s definition. “So, how was the short story? I heard that it was pretty good.”
“It wasn’t, I was only used twice.” Excavates v suddenly became even more pointed, making him look angry.
Stuff had an urge to compete with Excavate for the most depressing pity-party. It shouldn’t be hard. “You know, I’ve only been used once since I was programmed! You don’t know the half of it, buddy.”
Excavate sat down (or bended over) on a nearby fiber-optics cable. He studied it for a while and gazed enviously at the numbers 0 and 1 as the zipped by, “wahoo”ing all the way. He shifted his attention back toward Stuff. “You don’t get it, do you. It’s one thing to never get close. It’s completely different to be a pixel away from reaching the upper-class. I could have been a normal word.”
“Aww, who wants to be normal anyway.” Stuff was disgusted at Excavate’s selfishness.
Stuff waved Excavate off and started to walk away when the other’s voice caught Stuff’s u. “Have you ever thought about making it big? You know, becoming an often used word? If only there were a way to do that.”
Stuff turned back around. Although he despised Excavate’s selfishness, the other did have a point. It wouldn’t be half bad to make it big, and pave the way for other small-timers as he went. He sat down beside Excavate and pondered the question. Perhaps there was a way to change Big Writer Man’s view of him. He thought back to the time when his .dat file had been first programmed, giving him birth into the Vocabulary race. He strained to recall his many experiences as a word. Nothing seemed to occur to him. There was no way to force a writer into submission, was there? The Man probably didn’t even know that “The Words Are People, Too.”
Wait a nanosecond…
That’s it! He would need to give Big Writer Man the idea to write a story about the Words. That could be done a number of ways. This newfangled internet creature could be of help. He turned to Excavate. “Come on.” He crawled into the nearest port for the fiber-optics. Excavate was right behind him.
“May I ask where in the computer we’re going?”
“We’re going to see the modem. I think I know a way make Big Writer Man see our predicament.”
The cable was the fastest transportation Stuff had ever experienced. Moving up past the speed of light was quite enjoyable; after all, words don’t have stomachs with which to get sick. In two nanoseconds, they were at their destination. Excavate and Stuff were margionally sure that they wouldn’t be missed by their fellow words.
During the ride, Stuff had had time to think. He pondered why he felt such disgust toward Excavate’s attitude, and found that it was because he felt such self-pity that he couldn’t accept anyone being in it worse than he was. He too was being selfish.
They exited the cable and strode toward the hulking, growling, super-slow monster known as Modem. This thing was big. It dwarfed the words about the same way humans dwarf, well, ants. Stuff saw his hopes slowly being cut out from under him. In his experience the larger the gadget, the bigger the ego. “Hello,” he started, all the while keeping the position of the fiber-optics cable in mind in case Modem decided to break the first rule of living on Computer: Never harm another piece of technology. There was a term for a gadget that did – virus.
Apparently, modem had no qualms about becoming a virus, or perhaps it already was. It was rumored that Modems were the most susceptible pieces of machinery when it came to that dreaded variety.
Modem started chugging violently, then began emanating a strange whirring sound. It must be trying to scare us. Stuff computed.
Stuff was desperate. He raced toward the monster with Excavate in tow. They came to the outer shell of Modem, and Excavate suddenly ripped free of Stuff’s grip and began digging through the metal covering, exposing wires and circuit breakers galore. Stuff had never seen anything like this before, but apparently Excavate had. He started moving the wires around in their sockets. Modem sent a charge through the cricuits that slammed Excavate againts the opposing wall. He was back on his E and N in a moment, once again changing the circuitry with his vowels.
Stuff was confused. “What in the computer are you doing?”
Excavate didn’t seem to have much of a chance to reply, so Stuff merely let him do his work in peace, if the word peace could be applied to this particular situation. Finally, Excavate leaned back and surveyed his work. He finally answered Stuff’s question. “I just reprogrammed the modem. Every four seconds the words: ‘Write a story in which the main characters are named ‘Stuff’ and ‘Excavate’ and win!’ will flash on the monitor.”
“Is that possible?”
“I guess it is.”
Stuff thought for a moment. “I think I’ve figured out your meaning.”
“Yeah: To dig.”
“I’ve figured something else out, too.”
“Yeah, what’s that?”
“It’s gonna’ be cramped inside that Story.”
* * *
The next day Dave Hanson pulled his newest short story out of the printer. He was going to turn this one in instead of the other. He liked Stuff and Excavate a lot more than his other characters. The last part was by far the most memorable:
Credenza and Lexis were now jealous of Stuff. They looked down at him still, but couldn’t stand it when others did not do the same. If words could have heart attacks, they would be the first in line. Many adjective slaves were applied to him, but Stuff dismissed them all after he was released from the literature.
After realizing that Excavate was not merely being selfish, Stuff became good friends with this new word. Stuff and Excavate rose high in the social structure of Words, and the Story file was very cramped.
Teacher would be pleased.
Acquiescence is bliss.
P.S., copy "Words" into a word document and pull a word count [on all except the title].
Here's my second entry, a HW short story.
Missed the Battle
Unlike the Bentusi or T-Mat, Hiigarans required food – and large amounts at that. Feeding the entire crew of a massive heavy cruiser was grueling labor. Only the hardest working could be trusted to undertake such a task.
That task, ironically, fell on the crewmembers who couldn’t be trusted. That was the largest injustice Adlai Sjet could think of in his trained science-kiith mind.
Adlai Sjet had, of the one-thousand-odd Kushan making the Hudaan fly, been the most common sight in the kitchen, spending almost all of his duty hours on KP.
But that didn’t matter. Adlai prided himself on being the most easy-going individual ever to grace the Hiigaran military. If life throws you moonengos, make moonengo pie. If your superiors throw KP at you, make a party.
His buddies from the kitchen had arranged a small fifth-anniversary mock party for Adlai as soon as they learned of his new record-breaking kitchen patrol run. He was to meet them at 3200 hours and receive a small cake along with a commemorative plaque with his new motto in bold letters: “Five years straight and still going strong. I’m unbroken and I’m proud.”
Adlai opened the door to the kitchen, and ignored the sudden lowering of temperature. It was considered a waste of energy and manpower to keep everything in a refrigerator which needed to be restocked and powered, while the kitchen also needed to be cooled because of its close proximity to the reactor, so, at the surrender of a few degrees, energy could be saved. The entire kitchen was a type of refrigerator, allowing food to be stored in stainless-steel cabinets, which had the advantage of much easier organization of foods. Fruits and vegetables in one cabinet, sides of skaal-tela in the closet, skaal-fi kept near the air-cooler to ensure tenderness, and so on.
The amused gazes of his crewmates and longtime acquaintances seemed to overcome the cooling affect of the room. There, on the largest cooking-surface in the galley, was a triple-layer enkrata cake, complete with little enkratai attempting fruitlessly to free themselves from the thick icing.
At the invitation of the others in the gathering, Adlai took the first slice of cake. The little insects tickled his throat and dissolved when they entered his first stomach, giving that burbling sensation that Hiigarans so cherish.
But, even more than the enkratai, Adlai enjoyed the company of kindred rebellious spirits.
That company ended abruptly as the deck beneath his feet lurched without warning, causing Adlai to stumble against the surface that the cake was using for a stand. Icing stained and with tiny insects crawling all over his body, Adlai stumbled to his feet.
Warning klaxons shouted a belated warning of danger.
“Jorni, you and the others get to your posts, I’ll secure all the loose sharp objects. Wouldn’t want to get disciplinary action just for running ahead of my ‘buds.” Adlai joked above the sirens.
Jorni nodded and ran out the kitchen door with the rest of the crewmembers. The exit emanated an odd series of clicks as it shut, but Adlai ignored them and set himself to work.
Knives were the first priority, and once these were all in their own place, Adlai hastily shoved all pots and pans into their homes. All in two standard time parts flat.
Now on to combat duty. Adlai would never again allow dawdling or carelessness to compromise his almost enjoyable KP time with the introduction of unpleasant duty like night watchman or anything, although the rest of the crew was getting weary of seeing him behind the galley’s food counter. Adlai was known as the worst cook this side of Outside.
Some things cause one to believe in bad luck. The exit refused to open.
Horribly bad luck.
Adlai cursed these locked-from-the-outside doors. Containing prisoners in an emergency wasn’t too high on his priority list. Sometimes when these engineers thought of everything they ended up neglecting the simple matters.
He jabbed his hand down into his uniform pocket in search of the key, only to tardily discover that he had changed out of uniform for this celebration.
Another object slammed against the hull and sent Adlai flying. He landed on the floor just in time to spot a cupboard flap open before it jabbed him in the nose, causing blue lightning to come forth from his mouth.
The sting of blood began to throb from Adlai’s nose, but there was no time to lie there and throw a pity party. The flap was making another strafing run.
He quickly rolled out of the flap’s range, and regretted his hasty movement when that throbbing nose of his came in contact with the stainless-steel flooring and twisted in yet another direction.
The warning klaxons finally died down after a good thirty time parts of sustained battle. The silence informed Adlai of an irritating noise in his ears.
…And an irritating knowledge in his mind. How much more embarrassing a situation could there be? Being locked in a kitchen during battle and all.
The most pressing order of business was getting out of there before his absence was noticed by any of his superiors. He began tapping on the locked exit. Tapping didn’t draw any attention, so he moved on to tapping’s inevitable outcome, knocking.
His efforts were fruitless, except to bring to his attention a small sticker that was becoming increasingly disturbed by his punching on the door, “Sound-proofed by us to ensure the safe and enjoyable preparation of food in your galley.
There was a light at the end of this quantum tunneling, though. If the ship was severely damaged in the recent attack by who-knows-what, a damage-control team would be along shortly to scope out the kitchen and maybe grab a little snack. If the vessel wasn’t damaged, a one thousand member crew can become very hungered, and would pound the kitchen door to the deck if no other option were readily available.
Speaking of hunger, Adlai was feeling some of it himself. He opened a stainless-steel cabinet and grabbed the first can of military-issue swill that seemed appetizing. Seedless moonengo stew. Melon stew? They lived on this stuff during the Hiigaran Exodus?
The stew seemed to be an odd mix of Plaster Of Tiir and Beast nanoprobes, yet, in all Adlai’s hunger, the repulsing stuff tasted just like mother used to make.
Holding the eating utensil in front of his face, Adlai reflected on his present situation. The obvious pride-bruising aside, he was still in a bad way. His career would pit him back into this infernal place for another couple of months, and then he would never get out of the galley…
But he was easygoing. None of that mattered.
Of course it mattered! He was wasting his life in his senseless search for complete care-free-ness.
But he would never become a strict, military type. Untamable!
But was celebrated rebellion against authority needed? Was this all a pointless endeavor?
The repulsing scent of rotting Skaal-tel overcame the stew and caused Adlai’s bent nose to shrivel in fear for its life. As a matter of fact, the air was a tad warmer than it had been. The temperature seemed to be steadily rising.
That made the situation immeasurably worse. The reactor was apparently still functioning, but either some big guy up on the bridge decided that refrigeration power could be used elsewhere, or those circuits had been harmed in the recent battle. No matter which was true, the state of affairs had just been upped to “deadly.” The heat from that reactor could fry Adlai like a Kudaark’s egg.
One hundred twenty time parts later, Adlai’s sweat-stained face formed pools in the yet-uneaten Seedless Moonengo Stew. The temperature was easily above 330 Kelvin. Even the stew was beginning to stew.
Just out of Adlai’s field of vision the exit opened, revealing a worried Jorni. “Adlai, you all right? Adlai?”
“Wha-“ Adlai managed to get the words out, and they throbbed against his swollen throat.
“Let’s get you out of here. This area has just been deemed safe to enter, and I knew that door sounded odd when I shut it.”
“’Safe to enter’? You’re joking, right?”
“Nope. You have just lived through a disaster zone. Now, let’s get you cleaned up. The captain wants to speak with you.”
A shower, shave, and change of uniform later, Adlai was crisp as a new recruit and ready to meet the captain and receive whatever award the Hiigaran navy handed out for conspicuous gallantry in an unrelenting kitchen.
Beaming with pride, Adlai marched into the captain’s office as soon as the door opened. He vowed that he would never again earn KP through his laziness or lack of patriotism.
Captain Throontow did not mirror Adlai’s glee. “It has come to my attention that you were not present during the recent engagement with several Imperialist frigates. Is this true?”
Adlai was startled at Throontow’s stern demeanor, but remained optimistic. “Yes sir.”
Throontow stood up. “I have looked over you record, and noticed that you have spent the last five years in constant KP.”
“I have also noticed that the Charter of 4 AHL section D prohibits any Hiigaran navy crewmember to be absent during a battle. The punishment for which is an immediate court martial.”
“I can explain …”
“Can it, Crewman! You betrayed your crew when they needed you at your post!”
“The problem is I can’t spare you. We lost many good men to the Imperialists, and until we can receive new crewmembers, I am forced to be content to put you on KP until we reach the Mothership.”
I have spent the last few hours editing my story, and have come to the simple conclusion that I am fucked.
I've already cut it by several hundred words. But it's still 1,000 words over the limit.
It's already an extremely minimalist piece of writing, so I can't conceivably cut any more without chopping my plot to pieces. I can't really do that either because it's taken so long to grow to what it is, and if I cut a subplot or two it wouldn't make any sense whatsoever.
So, do I post it (perhaps abusing my powers to change the limit upwards, which would be completely unfair on those who've already posted their stories, although I only know one that's actually gone up to that limit), or just concede defeat gracefully?
I'm pleased with the story itself -- I think it's come out pretty well in the end. But I really have absolutely no idea what to do, and I think posting it at its current length and not saying how long it is would be a rather under-handed trick and I'd feel horribly guilty if I won.
So, what do I do?
Any and all comments appreciated...
Last edited by ionfish; 31st Oct 01 at 4:16 PM.
Do it. who cares about word limits, i wrote a 13000 word story for my english gcse. (admittedly that is completely unrelated and bears completely no relevance to the subject in question)
What ever you want. If you don't want to break the rules than post them on a new thread, everyone'll want to read it!
But if you want to enter it than do it, you bent the rules on two entries (one of them mine though that may be different since I'll never win) so you can do it one more time. Besides, I don't think anyone will count you out for minor technicalities.
Just do what you feel like, either way, I'm sure we'll all enjoy it!
Well, here it is. At last. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it...
by IonFish, with apologies to James Ellroy
Running, running: steps stretched upwards, an endless stairway – to heaven or hell, I didn’t know.
Forlorn hope: “Think we lost ‘em?”
“Prolly waiting for us at the top.”
“Would be just our luck.”
The next storey: a door. Crashing through, heart pounding – all clear.
Breathing raggedly, I dropped the bag I carried, slamming a fist into the wall with animal ferocity born of anger, fear, and the adrenaline that carried me up the twenty flights of stairs below us.
Wrestling air, struggling for breath, I collapsed; first rest I’d had since everything tore itself apart in one mad minute of gunfire. Eyes closed, darkness blotting out darkness; shaking legs outstretched, spine against one of the grey pillars that held the unfinished skyscraper together. A thin film of dust covered the concrete wasteland; some brushed off onto my jacket, already smeared with blood. I looked over at Nicole: prostitute, lover, partner in crime, crimson trickling from a gashed forehead.
“Is it safe?”
Holding up the black bag, she nodded.
“He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”
~ Frederick Nietzsche
Rain falls, bitter tears, on pavements splashed orange by watercolour streetlights. Buildings, grey giants, loom tall above the dark city – glittering lights cruel irony.
Success breeds success; success breeds greed and decadence. Everyone wants a piece of the pie, but not everyone gets one – that’s the way things work. The have-nots resent the haves, but want to be them – the haves despise the have-nots, but want to control them.
We stand between them, walking that tightrope stretched high and taut above the abyss. The line between light and darkness? Or just between the darkness of success and the darkness of failure?
>> Wednesday – “All that you touch, All that you see”
The gentle roar of pouring rain eclipsed the noise of distant traffic. From my seat by the window, I looked out at the grey metropolis: streets empty save a few raincoat-clad, umbrella-toting individuals. Safe from the downpour, I stared blankly at the newspapers that swathed my desk in paper.
[ THE TIMES ]
SINO-US TENSION INCREASES
The diplomatic stalemate between China and the US continues,
neither side willing to back down over the pivotal issue of
Taiwanese independence. The shooting down of an unmanned
American spy plane earlier this week will only add to the period
of increased tension that began with what the Chinese
government still claims was an accidental launch of an anti-ship
missile into Taiwanese airspace…
[ The Guardian ]
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE PROTOTYPE STILL UNRECOVERED
‘IMPREGNABLE’ SECURITY BREACHED – GOVERNMENT ADMITS RESARCH LAB SECURITY “COULD HAVE BEEN TIGHTER”
It is still not known who was behind the theft of what has been
described as a “baby AI” by the researchers involved in its
creation, and speculation is rife as to whether foreign
governmental agencies were involved…
…the initial breakthroughs in the creation of artificial neural
networks that were able to grow and learn organically
despite synthetic beginnings and materials was reported in
March of last year, but only in the last two months has real
‘intelligence’ been developing…
…security fears mount as the proto-AI’s ability to hack into secure
systems is revealed…
Sighing, I twitched the papers aside and concentrated on the document before me: biro scrawl in form boxes, Jim Roberts’ scruffy hand.
Serious & Organised crime division (SO7) – Internal Memorandum
For the attention of: Detective Inspector Daniel Weaver
People aren’t names or titles, or even words – but what if they were? My words: policeman, detective, killer, thief – junkie; ugly words. Policeman: nine years in the Met. Detective: organised crime my forte, my enemy – my employer. Killer: two men dead one grey September morning; judge, jury – executioner, shots from my gun making the air quiver as they fell wordless to the floor, blood spattering across the pavement. Thief: dealers shaken down for drug money to feed my own habit. Junkie: stims, adrenaline, the thrill of the hunt, dirty money buying rumour and fact from whoever’d sell.
DI Roberts, my partner. Face like a pitbull, mind like a razor. The spiel:
Madden said to send you a copy of the latest division report (enclosed). He’s been talking to Intel and getting a load of calls from division HQ; could be something to do with that. Some hush-hush op? Anyway, see you when you get back.
“see you when you get back” – but he hadn’t. On leave – wife a week dead, cruel fate’s victim: insect crushed beneath the heel of an uncaring world. A bank robber’s stray bullet ended in an instant seven years’ happiness: the funeral a drawn-out agony of silence, Jim’s mute face abject misery. Another friend slowly drowning in despair – I sighed, flipped the page.
Report stapled to the back: black and white pages reeking of cheap printing. I skimmed it: bureaucratic drivel, punctuated by SO7 catchphrases – “volume crime”, “interaction”, “pro-active support”.
Summary: the Ocalan brothers – entrepreneurial sons of Kurdish refugees, controllers of most street-level drug dealing and prostitution across north London – on the move again. Indicators: two dealers gunned down on the South Acton estate, a pimp breathing water in the Putney Reservoir. Autopsy record said heroin overdose – dead a week before his body was dragged from the forensic-destroying water. Theory: the Os reorganising after the Wembley bust in June (anonymous tip-off, 20kgs pure heroin impounded and destroyed; body blow to the Ocalan syndicate), ruthlessly regaining power lost in June’s chaotic, tumultuous orgy of self-destruction.
Back from the two weeks leave I’d taken, Detective Inspector Madden tasked me with checking leads on the Ocalans’ heroin supply. ‘Real’ crime – what got me on the Met; squashing leeches like the Os. Smack addiction: slow death, eyes glazed as heart and lungs fail – ignominious end for numberless, faceless innocents – inescapable poverty their only crime. A lonely crusade; most of SO7 working to track the stolen AI. Not sure why Madden gave me the job; trying to keep me out of trouble I suppose. He never really liked me, especially after June.
I called across the office to my new assistant, Detective Constable Simons. Female, mid-twenties, frizzy brown hair framing timid features; blue eyes naïvely expectant.
“I’m going out. Run down some names for me. I need a list of known associates for that pimp – what was his name?”
“Roy James, sir.”
The last one transferred out, citing “personal conflicts”. Bollocks – just couldn’t hack the way I did things: thinking on my feet, playing it fast and loose.
“Right, James. Do a crosscheck on any connections with the Os while you’re at it.”
Leaving SO7’s HQ (Condon House, a tall office building opposite New Scotland Yard), I strode across the road to a pay-terminal. Under security cameras’ watchful eyes, it stood unmarred by graffiti or violence. Inside, I locked the door; fingers dashed across the touchscreen, accessed my anonymous account. Theory: only people I told it was mine knew about it. Reality? Probably different – I didn’t want to know. Mailbox: two messages, both dated yesterday.
The first: cash transfer record, 2,500€, untraceable. Monthly backhander, financing my crusade. Two sides to the coin; in return I kept my second employer up-to-date on the Os. Information = intelligence = advantage = victory; age-old formula followed by both sides of the law. Illegal, hypocritical? Fuck yes – but that’s life; everyone’s a hypocrite; double standards ruling the world. Attached, a short message:
Please make time for a short meeting Tuesday morning – around 8 o’clock. Our usual rendezvous remains appropriate; I look forward to a productive discussion.
Short, to the point – Takashima’s style. My reply one word – fine.
Heizo Takashima – consummate businessman, crimelord in every sense of the word. Ruthless, intelligent: son of a Yakuza hitman, he controlled Yamaguchi Gumi’s European outfit – my employer. Lesser of two evils? Justifications ring hollow: even truth – more leads from Takashima than straight police work – sounding a feeble excuse.
Message two: a shock.
You’re the only one I trust; hope you still use this account. I’m undercover: another O takedown. Watch my back out there; I’ll be in touch.
Shit. What the fuck did Jim think he was doing? Memory ticking over – the bank hit that killed his wife an O job – click-click-click: revenge. The takedown: opportunity for closure. Acceptance in criminal circles tough – he knew the lingo, the people – what was the bait, the draw? Need: a way to get straight to the top. Oh fuck… Watch his back – implying what? Was the op officially sanctioned, or Roberts’ private vendetta?
Fresh air outside: punching numbers into my PDA, I phoned my office. A woman’s voice: “DI Weaver’s desk.”
“Simons? You got the list of known associates I asked for?”
“One sec, sir.”
A long pause; then, “It’s pretty short – guess he didn’t have many friends.”
“Names, Simons. Now.”
Chastened: “Yessir. Thomas Nunn, Archibald O’Neill…” names terrifyingly familiar – the two dead dealers, killer still at large. “…Jarek Sedlak; isn’t he one of the Os’ men?”
“Yeah. Carry on.”
“Robert Jenkins, Barry Thornhill, Jennifer Hawke, Nicole Rees.”
Rob Jenkins, Barry Thornhill: names I knew – Jenkins a petty thief, served time for B&E a couple of years ago; Thornhill the landlord of the Duke’s Head, an Ealing pub fronting for a laundering operation. As good a starting point as any.
“Let me guess: the men are clients, the women were his girls?”
“Spot on, sir.”
“Run down Rob Jenkins’ address for me, then take a couple of uniformed officers, and bring in the two prosties for questioning.”
“Alright sir. I’ll keep you posted.”
Seven-thirty: I headed back to Condon House, taking the lift up to the rooftop aircar park. The rain had stopped; the raw wind seemed to blow straight through my coat. Getting into my dark green, unmarked Rover, I turned on the engine. Giving power to downward thrusters, I slipped off the side of the roof – heading down, to the city that lurked naked, thirty stories below.
Nothingness stretched out, a shadowy veil: people vessels wrought of greed and selfishness – empty of purpose, meaning, hope.
Souls in limbo: falling, falling, down through glittering dark.
Parking the Rover ten minutes from the pub, I stalked the streets: crusader with a warrant card. Eyes skyward: clear/cloudy? No way to tell – metropolitan glare blotting out starlight. Chilly – I shivered despite the trenchcoat, gloved hands stuffed in pockets. London: neon/concrete wasteland. Communications revolution brought decentralisation; decentralisation brought property slump. Transition – rich pulling out, poor squatting in the ruins of past glories. Ten million abandoned: no escape for the impoverished populace; policing needed more than ever as society broke down.
Crumbling away beneath towering edifices, the Duke’s Head grotty as remembered: ancient paint peeling from rough brick walls, tables battered and worn. Scoped the place: no sign of Barry. Hunched at the bar: only one problem; can’t stand the taste of whiskey.
Barmaid fortyish: buxom, fake smile. “Can I get you something?”
“Just a packet of peanuts; dry roast.”
The smile vanished. “Ninety cents.”
I handed over a 1€ coin. “Tell Barry Danny Weaver’s here to see him.”
Pocketed peanuts and change, remembered Barry Thornhill. Grizzly grey hair crowned a towering frame, criminal to the core.
His brooding presence materialised behind the bar; bruises spattered across bear-like features.
“What the fuck you doin’ ‘ere Weaver?”
“I don’t have time to piss about, Barry. Roy James.”
A groan: “I already told your partner everything I know.”
Partner? “So tell it again.”
“Roy was strictly small-time, only two girls – high-class though. Catered for foreign businessmen, diplomats, that sort.”
“Only three girls? Wouldn’t’ve thought he’d make much.”
“He didn’t. ‘Least, not directly.”
“Extortion? Film rich fellas in ‘compromising situations’?”
“You got it.”
“Dangerous business, extortion. A man could make enemies.”
“Lots of ways to make enemies.”
Shrugging: “Some people you shouldn’t mess with.”
Silence; then “Not to speak ill of the dead, but he were never the nicest bloke.”
“How’d he treat his girls?”
“No worse’n anyone else.”
“Hit them ever?”
“How’d he keep ‘em workin’ fer ‘im? Drugged up?”
Strange. Thornhill scared, scared enough to talk. Something left unsaid; something he didn’t want known. James blackmailing him? Far-fetched; Barry wasn’t someone to cross. The bruises; “your partner” – Jim? What was he doing with Thornhill? Change direction – motives for James’ killing. Extortion victims removing a threat? One of his girls got fed up with the abuse? Crossed the wrong people? Endless possibility.
On to the next target: Rob ‘Jenks’ Jenkins, petty thief. Last conviction six years ago, B&E. Three hours later, nothing – last known address an empty squat, Jenks nowhere; as though he’d vanished into thin air. Reduced to cruising red-lit streets he used to frequent – stims kept me sharp. Globalisation rendered soulless cities identical, local differences minor – London almost New York, L.A., Paris, Berlin. Same dead-eyed prosties selling bodies, souls already dead or deep under water, drug dealers pandering to the needs of the lost. Society a terminal cancer case: drugs artificial heaven, momentary bliss, escape from incessant pain.
Lids falling like coffin lids – popped pills, pinched myself; drove home. Home to nothing: empty flat, bare save bed, desk, battered plastic chair. Only my stereo of any value; put on a record, skipped nine minutes in:
“Now there’s a look in your eyes, like black holes in the sky…”
Sleep my enemy, fitful dozes momentary pause from the void. Comfort in brief snatches of darkness, but not for long; too long and I might dream again – mournful soundscapes kept me company as I waited for morning.
Rosy-fingered dawn touched the horizon: a Turner painting, pollution-rendered shades of apricot and nectarine. I splashed cold water, grabbed coat, slammed door; heading up, I stretched aching muscles, rubbed eyes, checked my gun.
10mm Glock: standard law enforcement sidearm. Caseless AP fragmentation round punches through armoured vest at fifty metres. Small explosive charge detonates, shattering bullet along predetermined fracture lines; splinters of metal tear through target’s internal organs. Fifteen round mag – one bullet enough to blow a life apart.
>> Thursday – “All that you taste, All you feel”
Eight o’clock: Takashima’s idea of an “appropriate rendezvous” the grey paved expanse of Trafalgar Square. Cloud-filtered morning light shone softly, glittering from the sheen of dew sweated by glaring bronze lions. Takashima’s face a pale circle, beady eyes missing nothing; two vigilant heavies metres away. In the distance a man tossed crumbs, pigeons’ subdued colouration mimicking the drab city. Gothic churches arched skywards beside stately Victorian embassies; concrete sixties eyesores nestled between vast modern constructions of steel and glass: earthbound streets merely foundations for towering monstrosity.
Here, though, all was still: an oasis of calm in the frantic bustling humdrum emptiness.
Takashima’s face still and cold as stone: “Good morning, Daniel.”
“What do you want?”
A sardonic smile: “Why, I want you to kill someone.”
“Don’t make this difficult.”
“No. That was once. Not again?”
“Bad dreams? I suspect they’d be all the worse in prison.”
“Don’t threaten me.”
“Then do as I ask.”
Defeat: “Ok, who?”
He pressed a slim plastic wafer into my hand. “It’s all on there.”
I turned, left, Takashima’s parting shot echoing in my ears: “Listen to the world, Daniel. It knows more than you think.”
Electronic buzz as I dodged traffic: Simons.
“Sir, we’ve just had an anonymous call to your desk – said they had information about the Ocalan syndicate.”
“Yeah? What’d they say?”
“Something about a deal going down – they left an address.”
Takashima’s words – “Listen to the world…” – a not-very-subtle message.
“Get a surveillance team down there asap, bug the place. Did you bring in those prosties?”
“No, sir. Jenny Hawke died about three weeks ago – heroin overdose, seems she was a pretty heavy abuser.”
“The other one?”
“Gone; dropped off the radar ten days ago.”
“Right. I’ll be there in ten minutes. Inform Madden, then get a warrant.”
Six pm: sitting, staring; surveillance precursor to takedown. Mouth dry, eyes melting into the screen before me. Two men, bodies grey on the TI – Thermal Imaging – display, sat in the grotty flat opposite. One a stranger: small, nervous, head moving jerkily. He clutched a black leather briefcase. The other I knew: Jarek ‘Peecha’ Sedlak, Czech immigrant, drug dealer, top enforcer for the Os. Fortune-seeker: relaxation of EU migration laws in 2009 brought tens of thousands like him. Then the jobs evaporated; increasingly desperate individuals turned to crime. Sound from the mikes in their room: cheap pipes hissing, bedsprings creaking as Shorty shifted, staring at his watch.
Hunter and hunted, two walls apart, waited. Empathy a weapon; got me close. Too close? Sedlak lit a fag; I slotted Takashima’s disk into my PDA. Zeppelin in my ears, death on the screen. Jimmy Page’s guitar wailed out my lonely terror:
“I’m about to lose my worried mind, oh, yeah…”
Takashima’s spin: an easy takedown. Saturday, 11am, basement car park of Morelli House. Abandoned, unfinished office block; perfect for covert meeting of target and contact. Target: Albert Li, an Ocalan man. Black and white photos showed inscrutable Chinese features, lifeless eyes staring at nothing. High cheekbones, hooked nose: aristocratic, haughty – marked for death.
“Said I've been crying, my tears they fell like rain…”
I thumbed to the next page.
The man Li was meeting – the contact – was Rob Jenkins.
“Don’t you hear, don’t you hear them falling…”
Mind into overdrive; eyes tore down the page, scrutinising every miniscule detail. The meeting a transfer: Jenks handing over 900,000 Euros worth of stims – in exchange, a new life. ID cards, 800K in cash, a plane ticket out of Europe; escape from the employer he had stolen from. No wonder we hadn’t heard of him in six years: all that time, he’d been working for Takashima, a high-level courier. But then he made his mistake: instead of delivering the stims, he’d walked. Now he was a dead man – no one stole from the yakuza and lived. And I had to kill him. Either that, or Madden would get a short recording, my angry voice indicting me:
“I don’t fucking care who they work for – I’ll kill them…”
I read on: Takashima’s bullshit prophesying a happy end for everyone. He’d get his shit back and his example made; I’d get the money and stay out of prison. Best of all, I got a chance to screw the Os. Happy ending for everyone, save the dead men – and who gave a fuck about them? They were nothing – a thief and a drug dealer. I could hear the scorn - Takashima’s voice, Madden’s voice, Jim Roberts’ voice:
“Scum; the detritus of humanity. They deserve to die.”
It didn’t make me feel any better.
A crackle on the comm. net interrupted my thoughts:
“Sir, we’ve got a live one.”
I jerked my head towards the TI display. A figure – female – walking down the corridor, rucksack swinging from one thin shoulder. Checked the hall camera: dark-haired, late twenties. Faded jeans, white blouse, green rain-spattered coat; frayed edges, but steel inside – a prostie for sure; maybe the voice on the other end of the call Sedlak had made half an hour ago.
“Yes. 221b Marlowe Place.”
“I’ll be right there.”
She knocked; on the TI Sedlak stood, opened the door. Shorty patted his pockets absently, like he’d lost something. She entered; voyeur, I listened.
The woman, casual: “Hey Peecha.”
Sedlak’s voice deep, accented: “Got the cash?”
Taking the bag, Sedlak turned, offered it to the stranger. Shakily, Shorty set down the briefcase. I tensed, reflexively checking my sleeve for the tiny 5.7mm holdout that lurked there.
“All units stand by – wait for my go.”
Didn’t look like Sedlak was armed; should be an easy bust. Still, “better safe than sorry” said Madden – black-clad SWAT troopers lurked two doors down hefting H&K SMGs.
Backup a spidersilk vest, my Glock, and the promise of a free funeral.
Shorty took the bag; Sedlak took the case; they shook.
“GO GO GO!”
Doors slammed; night-garbed golems charged, smashing through into the flat. Gun drawn, I followed. Inside, chaos; shouts:
“Get down, get on the floor, hands behind your head!”
Scurrying movement: the little man pointed at Sedlak; a roar – the troopers blew Shorty away in a spray of blood. Sedlak lay on the floor, blood gouting from his stomach. Ashen, the prostie sat and stared and shook and cried – I went numb, reflex taking over.
“Get an ambulance for him; cuff the girl, take her down the station. Then call the coroner.”
Like a distant dream, Zeppelin played on.
“I'm about to lose, I'm about lose to my worried mind…”
I took the ambulance with Sedlak. Blood bubbled from between his lips as he whispered, so quiet that when I moved closer I could hear his heart, pumping his life away.
“Should’ve known it’d be you.”
“Looks like your customer thought he got sold out.”
A grunt; “Shouldn’t’ve trusted that pinjor Roberts not to fuck it up.”
I grabbed his sleeve. “Roberts? Jim Roberts?” I hissed, eyes locked on his.
“No?” A barely discernible chuckle, turning into a cough; “He played you well then; like a Stradivarius.” He looked down at his ravaged body, smiled a twisted smile. “Plastic imitation, discarded after use…” He trailed off, into unconsciousness.
I left two uniforms guarding Sedlak, and drove back to base. The office was deserted: a ghost town, eerie in its emptiness. Forms and reports, policing’s detritus, lay scattered like leaves across desks, chairs, tables, as though an autumn storm had just passed. One lonely figure sat tapping at a keyboard – Simons.
“Where’d everybody go?”
“There was a big break in the AI case, sir – everyone’s out running down leads. Didn’t you hear?”
“No, I was at the hospital. What happened?”
“The lab that was developing it let slip that it leaves a distinct electronic fingerprint when it hacks anything – something about the stage it’s at in the development cycle. Anyway, about an hour ago it got into the Met network; one of the things it accessed was the SO7 case database. Intel reckons it was being used to see how close we were.
“What else did it access?”
“They only told us this morning, but once Intel knew what to look for, they tracked a previous infiltration. It tried to get into the live transmits of surveillance units, including street cameras and airborne units.”
“Any word on the Rees girl?”
She smirked. “You’ll like this, sir. She was the one busted with Sedlak.”
I slid into a chair opposite the girl, looked up into dark eyes. Set in a pale face, ringed with shadows, the eyes themselves showed not fear or anger, but a horrible empty bleakness that seemed to say, “You can’t hurt me. I stopped feeling a long time ago.”
“I’m Detective Inspector Weaver. Your name, for the record?”
Her voice, when she spoke, was cold and hard as expected, but with a slight edge of vulnerability that cut to my heart.
I dived straight in. “Why were you there?”
She shrugged. “Peecha phoned, said now.”
“What was now?”
Another shrug. “Whatever Peecha had going. A deal, I guess. I just had to bring the bag.”
“What was in it?”
“I didn’t ask. Things’re tight enough without alienating customers.”
“Business slow? Your pimp take his address book with him when he took that swim in Putney Reservoir?”
Her mouth a tight line, she glared hatefully.
“Is that how you met Peecha? Roy introduced the two of you?”
She hunched her shoulders, gazing down at the table. The tough veneer cracked; silent tears trickled down pallid cheeks.
“Yes,” she whispered “yes. I just… there was no one else. No one, nowhere, to run to. Peecha’s not a bad bloke. He didn’t hit me, like Roy did.”
She looked up at me, eyes pleading. “Is he…?”
She nodded; one hand wiping her face with the corner of a sleeve, she reached out with the other, touching the hand that lay outstretched on the table. My hand.
Our eyes locked; deep down, I fought, fought to stay awake, stay alive, not get sucked in, down, down.
We stayed that way a long time.
Ten-thirty; Detective Superintendent Madden’s office. Long day – on autopilot, I faded in and out of the conversation.
Madden floorgazed: “A holdout?”
“Yeah, .38 Special.”
“Comatose, but stable.”
I hesitated; Madden misread the pause.
“You’re not even listening to me, are you?”
He grabbed my report, ripping, tearing, face red.
“Your fucking career is on the line here Weaver, and you’re sitting there half asleep!”
Crushing tattered remnants to a ball, he threw it at the bin, missing.
“Three people were in that room. One’s dead, one might as well be, and the last one’s some cheap hooker who doesn’t know a fucking thing!”
Madden sighed, running podgy fingers through lank hair.
“I’m not gonna let you screw this one up any worse. You’re off the case; take a few days, come back when you wake up.”
I stood and walked out, turning as I reached the door.
“Would it make a difference if she charged more?”
Madden just stared.
I sat at my desk, eyes flickering dully over the casework. Nicole released hours ago; whatever was in that briefcase, it wasn’t heroin. The lab boys said it was “something new”; a new escape. From reality for those who used it; from poverty for those who sold it; from life for anyone who got in the way. But not illegal. Not yet. No crime, so no suspect; she walked. Surely Shorty knew what was in the case – so why did he shoot Sedlak? Fear – not of prison – his bosses?
The phone rang.
The voice taunted me: “Hello Danny.”
“Be there in an hour.”
Dino’s all-night fish and chip shop was twenty minutes’ walk from Condon House; I pushed inside at eleven-fifteen. Jim sat alone, wolfing haddock and chips. I collapsed into the seat opposite; he shoved a steaming, greasy plate towards me.
“Have some chips. Tough day?”
“I’ve had better. You?”
He grimaced. “Not my best.”
Tiredness enveloped me like fog; too worn to fence.
“Just tell me everything.”
Sedlak’d been his line to the Ocalan syndicate for six months. With no case against the Os themselves, SO7’d need a source inside their organisation. But division HQ hadn’t seen it that way; they wanted every last rat trapped. So Jim shielded Sedlak when the June bust went down, burying the evidence, and running him alone.
“How’d you recruit him in the first place?”
“I did some digging – apparently he’s wanted for murder in the Czech Republic; threatening to hand him over was a good incentive.”
Then things’d got hairy. O dealers started turning up dead; the Os themselves didn’t know why. Sedlak got scared – he wanted out. So they set a meet with Takashima, Sedlak walking out with five million of the Os’ money to exchange for a suitcase of Japan’s latest hallucinatory concoction. It sounded a lot like another story I’d heard. Jim would phone in the tipoff, the deal’d be busted: Sedlak’d grass up the Ocalan brothers and get immunity, then take the drugs, the money, and a plane trip somewhere far away.
“So all this was just your revenge?”
He sighed. “Revenge is such an ugly word. I prefer justice.”
But then things’d gone sour; Takashima’s man’d put Sedlak in a coma, and himself in the morgue when the SWAT team’d burst in.
“So what do we do now?”
“We wait. And hope Sedlak lives. You gonna eat those?” he asked, pointing to my untouched chips.
I stood, shoving the plate towards him. “Feel free. I’m gonna head home.”
He nodded morosely; leaving Takashima’s disk on the table, I trudged home, collapsing onto my bed. Tired eyes surveyed the fragmentary darkness outside. I drifted, mind weaving in and out of consciousness. Images flitted through tortuous sleep: red spray across grey pavement; flashes of gunfire; crumpled heaps of bodies; blood oozing down into the gutter.
>> Friday – “All that you love, All that you hate”
The phone rang, jarring me from half-sleep.
“Sir? It’s Simons.”
“Simons? What is it?”
“Sedlak, sir. He’s dead.”
His life support’d been switched off; helpless, he died voiceless, unwatched, unmourned. Intel traced the AI’s journey in and out of the hospital computer network, ghosting through layers of security like a phantom; a revenant come to collect its due.
The news blew away the fog clouding my mind. The Os hadn’t killed him – they’d want him dead, but this wasn’t their style. That left one man with the resources and the motivation.
The contact’d been a live wire, shooting Sedlak without hesitation. Probably orders; Takashima hadn’t wanted anyone to know about the deal.
Realisation dawned; I grabbed the phone.
A grumpy Jim Roberts picked up: “Yeah?”
“Jim, you know what Sedlak told Takashima’s people? I mean, in what sort’ve capacity he was working?”
“I think he made like he was official. The Ocalans reckoned Takashima was the one wiping out their dealers, planning a move on their territory. So the deal was a peace agreement; or at least, that’s what Sedlak told Takashima.”
“Oh, one other thing – I checked out that disk you gave me. The Chink’s not an Ocalan; he’s called Lao Zhi-Wen, and he works for Chinese Intelligence.”
Peace deal to end a turf war; that tracked with the spate of recent killings. But Takashima was yakuza. They weren’t big on truces – they played to win. Ok, assume he has the AI. Think back.
Bingo – Simons mentioned an attempt to access police surveillance nets. The plan: Takashima lets the deal go down, the uses our assets back to the Os. Then he kills them and moves in, taking over the Os’ drug markets.
But there’d been three people in that room. Takashima liked tidiness – so Nicole had to go.
Day passed in a blur. Short on sleep, stims kept me moving; drugged-up hypocrisy inevitable in my line of work, whether booze, caffeine or dope. A cop needs an edge, but like everyone, needs escape too. The jagged blues rock of the Stones sheltered me from fragile reality, as I strove to forget Nicole’s pale, tear-stained face. I made two phone calls, took my leather jacket from its hanger, dumping shotgun shells and 10mm mags into the pockets.
I checked and re-checked my guns: Glock, holdout, a Franchi twelve-gauge from under the bed. I slammed shells into the two tubular magazines, seven apiece: in one, spiderweb anti-personnel rounds – in the other, HE slugs. It didn’t help; my thoughts still disintegrated, shattering, mirror-shards tumbling through my mind, each one reflecting that face back at me.
I stuck the shotgun in a bag and hit the streets, kerb crawling through neon squares, red-lit alleyways, fluorescent petrol station forecourts. In the end, she found me: trudging home barren, I saw her silhouetted against my building’s light-spattered foyer, corporate brutality clashing with scruffy femininity.
Her voice soft, eyes pleading – my words hesitant.
“You wanna come in?”
A silent nod – taking my arm she leant on my shoulder.
Wordless ride upwards, eyes averted – floors clicking past in a drawn-out sigh.
Key in the lock; door opening to darkness. Soft breathing, the swish of cars – soundtrack to desperation. Hope: one brief moment of solace in a lonely world. Pale light flickered through Venetian blinds; her face glimmered with cold radiance. Reaching out, I touched her cheek – she flinched, stepped back, raised hands to neck.
Another step – arms rose, pulling her top over her head; unzipped jeans slipped from her waist. Bra and knickers followed them to the floor – she stepped forward, leading me into the tiny bedroom. Eyes never leaving her, I undressed, lay down beside her. She lay still as I moved over her, touching forehead, lips, throat, then down: collarbone, smooth arms, hands squeezing small firm breasts as lips caressed erect nipples.
Hands gentle/rough, roving across warm flesh: flat stomach, slim waist, and down. Suddenly, movement – violent, needy: hands on my back, my buttocks, pulling me onto her, into her. Moving together – momentary eternity, fleeting forever as eyes/lips/bodies/souls met, touched, loved.
Eye of the storm; dissolving in light, waves roaring in ears deaf to the world.
Dark/cold/lonely aftermath mind screaming ohgodIdontwannadie.
Later, lying apart in individual darkness, we watched ghostly shapes of reflected light flit across the ceiling.
“Why me?” I asked, tentatively reaching out.
She took my hand in hers, sighing. “There was no one else.”
I ran my fingers through her fine hair. “I’m getting out tomorrow. I can’t take this place anymore.” I glanced over. “You wanna come?”
She nodded silently, squeezing my hand tight.
I ran a hand slowly down her pale body, avoiding the dark blotches of unhealed bruises.
“Who killed him, Nicole?”
Discarding cold distance, she lay shaking in my arms, voice choked.
“It… it was me, Danny. I killed him.”
Catharsis: thin body wracked with sobs, she let it all out.
There’d been two of them, until Jenny took the easy way out. Life a murky soup of pain and despair: agony from the beatings, mind fogged with drugs, too fuzzy to run. A needle full of heroin desperation’s weapon: him or you, life or death, the white light of sanity or the dark foggy misery of surrender as life ebbs away. Sedlak had dumped the body, taken her in, nursing her through withdrawal.
More composed now, she looked at me with questioning eyes. “What about you? What are you running from?”
I’d never had someone understand like that before. She knew the constant struggle to survive on the street. She knew the drugs: blissful escape, for a while. Then suddenly, they weren’t an escape – they werelife, as your spirit faded away, into the shattered night. She knew the dealers, selling the easy way, the quick fix, sucking you in. I could live with Takashima – rich customers had a choice. But on the street, there’s only two ways out: the needle or the gun. I chose the second – so now I was running. Running from Takashima, from Madden, from myself. But mostly from the street, from dreams and death and sleepless nights, from the lifeless faces of the two men I’d killed.
Nine years a policeman – nine years wading through blood and bones, graveyard duty in a society crumbling to fragments of human waste. But I couldn’t just let go; I still had a job to do. Takashima, the Ocalans, they all had to go.
>> Saturday – “All you distrust, All you save”
I gunned the Rover’s engine, Nicole beside me as we dropped, jets roaring, towards the necropolis. Destination a tall skeleton, steel and concrete bones bare to the dark sky.
Jim’s voice: “Everything’s set. The Ocalans set up an hour ago, and I spotted Takashima’s boys outside.”
“Good. Any sign of the Chinese?”
“Yeah, just the one. He’s waiting in his car.”
“Right.” I hesitated, then took the plunge. “One last thing – I’m bringing a guest.”
The AI was hot; Takashima’d want to get it off his hands ASAP. The deal was with the Chinese, not the Ocalans: Takashima was selling the AI, so Jenks was still working for him – maybe he’d even stolen it. But Takashima wanted me to kill Jenks and Lao Zhi-Wen, the Chinese Intelligence operative, so he was double-crossing the Chinks – maybe selling it to the Americans. He’d need people to clean up, which explained the Yakuza goons.
Jim’d got word to the Os of the Yakuza taking down a deal, so now the ambush was set – all they needed was Takashima’s men to show.
Parking in an alley, I looked up, eyes striving for a path between sheer buildings, hoping for even a sliver of blue in the darkness. But there was nothing; no release from internment in this urban sepulchre.
“Ok, Jenks is inside. He’s getting out… go!”
I punched the accelerator, roaring into the entrance to the underground car park. Concrete pillars held up the roof, the scene ill-lit by small windows high in the walls. Fifty metres ahead, two small figures walked towards each other.
Forty; I opened the door.
Thirty; I grabbed the shotgun, handed my Glock to Nicole
Twenty – I hit the brakes, swerving the car.
Ten – engines screaming, the Rover swung to a halt. I leapt out, gun in hand. Two wax faces stared transfixed, eyes wide. Jenks gaped; Lao just stared uncomprehendingly.
“Drop the bags. Kneel down.”
Silently, they complied.
“Now shove the bags towards me.”
I grabbed the bags, one after the other, as they were slid towards me, passing them to Nicole, who’d stepped out of the car.
Heart thudding so loud I thought I could hear it echoing in the vast, dusty hall, I flicked off the safety catch. Two men – two lives – lay in my hands. I held the scales, but I couldn’t read them. I’d killed before. Was it right? If it was, why did the faces haunt me still? The stink of blood was thick in my nostrils. I’d thought they deserved death. But we all die. Do we all deserve it? Or does it just happen? Thoughts, reasons, images, all clogged my mind, dead leaves blocking a drain. I swallowed, raising the gun. Hell, I don’t sleep anyway. What difference does two more?
Lao’s hand darted to his jacket; I pulled the trigger just as he got the gun loose, the Franchi’s spiderweb round ripping his body apart in a spray of blood and steel, flesh shredded by razor-sharp wire. I turned just as Jenks got his gun free, the impact knocking me from my feet.
An SMG roared, and I felt Nicole pulling me to my feet, lips whispering terrified nothings. Jenks’ body lay on the floor, his chest shredded by Jim’s H&K MP-10.
“Come on, let’s go!” yelled Jim, kneeling by a pillar only metres away. Nicole’s arms round my shoulders, I ran. The roar of engines filled the car park, black vans screeching towards us, racing to block off exits. We sprinted towards the cover of Jenks’ car, as gunfire exploded throughout the hall, Ocalan men stepping out of the shadows to strafe the vans with AKs and Czech SMGs, stitching lines of bullet holes across them. I looked down at my chest; the vest’d taken the hit well, the bullet leaving only a dent and bruised flesh beneath. I swung the bags over my shoulders and ran towards the stairs, Nicole close behind.
I pulled her to the floor, pumping out shots at the five Ocalan men between us and the stairwell. I looked back to see Jim raise a fist in a salute, before turning away into the shadows. Poor bastard, I thought. At least this gives him a chance. Maybe he’d find the Os in this maze of concrete; maybe he’d kill them. Maybe he’d even get out alive.
I dumped the bags, peeking round the pillar we were stuck behind. Shots ricocheted from it, sending chips and dust flying.
Nicole nodded; I sprinted towards an empty Yakuza van. Scrambling into the driver’s seat, I drove towards the Ocalans. Bullets punched through the windscreen; head down, I kept driving, scattering them. I pulled the van round, rolling out onto the hard ground. Shotgun raised, I triggered a spray, shredding two. Flicking the selector, I pumped HE rounds, slugs of explosive blowing holes through the other three.
“Run!” I screamed to Nicole – painfully slowly, heavy bags dragging, she moved towards me. Aiming past her, I fired and fired until both mags were empty. Dropping the Franchi, I grabbed the heavier bag; we hit the stairs and ran, death a few steps behind.
“You ok?” I asked, brushing hair from the gash on her forehead.
“I’m fine. You gonna open it?” she asked, gesturing to the bag.
It was a box. A grey plastic box, about thirty centimetres cubed. Various interface ports covered it; the only sign of life was a blinking diode and a small display panel: it read HIBERNATION MODE. I stood, closing the bag. “Time to get us out of here.”
Pulling my PDA from my pocket, I walked to the edge of the building, looking out across the looming metropolis. Even this high, I couldn’t see an end to the sprawl, clouds obscuring distant spires. The rain would wash the streets clean of blood, but Death finds a way to hide, lurking in concrete sarcophagi, ready to wait for eternity to claim its next victim. But it never had to wait that long.
“Drop the phone, Danny.”
There was something in her voice I’d heard before – steely detachment, determination. I let the PDA drop, tumbling down, down, down to the street.
Voice choked, I spoke. “Thought I had it all figured, didn’t I? But I forgot something. Forgot what held it all together – Roy, Jenks, Takashima. You.”
“I’m sorry, Danny.”
My voice was bitter. “So am I. Did you think about it? What I asked? Or was it just a show?”
“You know there’s no way out, Danny. Did you really think there was?”
I swallowed. “No. But I hoped we could find one.”
I turned, letting the holdout drop into my hand.
I didn’t hear the shot – only a roaring of waves in my ears. I didn’t feel it – I didn’t feel anything, even when I fell, head coming to rest on the edge, looking up. The sky span above me, clouds swirling into a maelstrom, rain splashing my face, washing it clean.
As my vision faded, sound and feeling dying away, I thought I could see, far away in the distance, a hint of blue.
- end -
Last edited by ionfish; 1st Nov 01 at 11:48 AM.
My story doesn't hold a candle to all of yours, but I'll post it anyway.
Irrationals: They Hold the Future
Mathematics is the manipulation of numbers, and because of this is one of the most precise branches of science. Everything has a definate answer, and nothing is illusional. Numbers can be calculated to exacting decimals, functions can twist random coordinates into lines, and theroms can extract numbers and solutions that are invisible to the naked eye.
But is it so precise as is it thought to be? Pi and the square root of three beg to differ, having seemingly endless and mathematically-defying answers. These irrational numbers already
have mysterious properties, but which leads to the question of what other secrets they hold...
An alarm clock on the table by Malcomb Web’s bed clicked to life, breaking the silence that had been occupying the bedroom. Malcomb, knowing that trying to stay asleep would only
get him late, slapped the clock off and pulled himself out of the comforting unconsiousness. A blurry mist still covered his vision, and only a hot shower would completely bring him back to this
world. So that was what he did; he took a shower.
The kitchen television notcied Malcomb’s movements as he slid into the area after his shower and tuned in to his favorite news station. Nothing of note, today was a normal day.
Malcomb looked out the large, panoramic window in his kitchen and siged. It was raining. Of course, Luisberg wasn’t known for it’s sunshine weather, and it looked like today wouldn’t be
making it more renown for sunny skies, ether. Malcomb instinctively munched on some toast as he watched the news, and eventually finished breakfast.
His apartment was on the first floor, so Malcomb was almost immeadiately greeted by the buckets of water falling from the sky once he stepped out. Ignoring that he was probabally getting drenched quick, Malcomb voice-unlocked his Dodge Verga and hopped in the car. It had the directions to his “office” pre-programmed, and the car merely started it’s electric engine and
drove off. The only reason Malcomb had to hold the steering wheel was to make sure it didn’t slipand go off course.
The holoradio tuned into his favorite station, KIRR-FM, “Talk Center”. Interesting disucssions always popped up, and Malcomb had even called once or twice. The morning show host was his favorite. Mark “Sealing Wax” Biln had previously been a scientist before joining radio, and always loved to give his opinion.
“-and that is why today’s show is going to be about that immeasurable addition to civilization, the Irrationals. They’ve changed our lives more than anyone can imagine, and they’re hard not to talk about. Of course, now they’ve become so common people don’t think about them.”
Malcomb sighed, of all the topics to pick. The Irrationals were Malcomb’s field, and he’d heard enough about them already. Sure, it was pretty amazing that Trevor Switzer had discovered a way to represent irrationals in their whole, but alcomb had heard so much about it was getting monotinous.
“Few people realize that before Mr. Switzer had disovered the secret of representing Irrationals, life was pretty primative. Two-dee televisions, fossil fuels- it’s simply amazing how far we’ve gone in so little time. And we can thank it all to Irrationals.”
Malcomb reflected on what Sealing Wax was talking about. Pretty amazing, how just plugging in the representation for Pi or the square root of two could create miracles. Fusion
reactors worked becase the magical square root of three was used in the energy source; cancer was gone because Pi was in the vaccine; there were dozens of examples.
Malcomb’s car beeped and slowed to a stop. It was now stopped at a gate, with an armed guard watching inside the booth in full CIA attire. The man nodded at Malcomb and the large
barbed-wire gate dragged open.
“Have a good day, Mister Web!”
Malcomb nodded as the car pulled in. Malcomb was soon greetd by a small squat, building with the coloring of oatmeal. No outstanding parts anywhere, the whole building was dull and normal. Mr. Web's car parked in his spot, and the man strolled up into the entrance.
A quick search and wand scan let hin enter the building, and Malcomb dressed in his jumpsuit. While walking down a wide hall to the main test area, an normously tall man in a white lab coat ran up to him.
“Malcomb! Good to see you here!”
Malcomb smilied. “Good to see you, Chad.”
“Ready for the big day?”
“Been ready for weeks, Chad. Let’s get going, eh, I’m getting aprehensous.”
Chad chucled as the two reached the end of the hall. A hazard door slid open with the correct authorization, and a large hanger came into view.
It wasn’t the various computers and scientists scurrying like bees that stood out, no: it was the large geodesic dome in the center. Made of stainless steel, the pinnacle of years of work looked like a large futuristic jungle gym. Called the “Irratonal Forcer”, this thing was actually
going to move Malcomb dozens of light-years. The fantasies of science fiction authors had finally come true; instananeous travel was available.His movement would take him to a known habitable
but unexplored planet.
Malcomb twisted his way into the dome and nodded excitedly.
“Lets see if this hunk of metal works, boys!”
The scientists grinned and a tapped a few buttons. The Forcer hummed to life, creating quite a bit of noise. A bubble of sorts appeared just inside the Forcer, using the frame as a point to
Malcomb waited, excitment turned to nervousness. The backgruond outside the dome gradually defocused, as if Malcomb was slowly loosing his vision. After about fifteen minutes, the
background snapped back into place.
Except it wasn’t the hangar. A featureless area sourrounded him, punctuated by dried and cracked ground. A cloudless blue sky hung above. The forcer had been left behind with the hangar, so Malcomb looked around. The plan was for him to be moved back in about half an hour, so he had time.
A disembodied voice stopped him in his tracks. The voice came from almost no direction in particular, like it was being whispered in both his ears.
“You used the Irrationals, didn’t you?”
Another voice came in. “Pitiful. The Irrationals are dangerous, don’t you realize that?”
A third voice followed: “Short cuts always have consequences.”
And with that, the hangar came back into view. Malcomb shivered involuntarily and looked around. Chad walked up, looking fully confused.
“Malcomb, how did you get back? I thought you couldn’t activate Forcing on your side...”
Malcomb stared at his friend. “You mean you didn’t bring be back? But-“
A scientist interrupted, running in between the two men. He was obvoiusly panicked, and didn’t like being panicked one bit.
“The Forcer won’t go back on, sir! It just won’t work!”
“What?” Chad ran off with the scientist over to a terminal and scowered over the screen. Feeling hungry and not wanting to get involved for now, Malcomb left the building to get lunch. He soon found out that his car didn’t work, though. That had hadn’t happened to him before, Irratonal-based cars were supposed to be perfect.
“A walk would be good for me anyway.” With that, Malcomb walked off into downtown.
Downtown was a mess. Almost all of the power was out, and mothing was working. Cars, toaster, anything and everything just refused to work. Malcomb pulled aside a woman who was wailing something about doom.
“What’s going on, could you please tell me...?”
The woman widened her eyes. “Nature has had enough with the Irrationals, sir! We must turn back to our non-Irrational ways, or face doom! Natre is trying to rationalize everything, and it’s killing us in the process!”
Malcomb sighed and pushed the woman aside, he wasn’t interested in doom sayers. Although it did make an odd kind of sense, as everything Irrational-based was breaking in some way, and old non-Irrational things were operating perfectly. But Irrationals being “rejected”?
Malcomb wandered home only to find the whole place offline. Muggers and criminals had raided the area, so there wasn’t much to go back to anyway. More doomsayers had shown up on the way, and churches were stuffed full of people. Everyone seemed to be unalaterally denouncung Irrationals. Malcomb managed to find a rational TV and turned it on to the only working station.
“Just this afternoon everything across the world fell into havoc. The President has declaired a state of emergency, as well as many other world leaders. “
”The disturbing news is that an asteriod that has been kept coralled orbiting the moon has broken free because of the anchoring failure. Now heading toward Earth, none of the United
State’s Interplanetary Navy ships can stop it, as their fusion recators are Irrational based. The asteriod-“
Malcomb turned off the TV. This was just wierd. The whole planet was going to hell in a handbasket and all signs pointed to the Irrationals being the reason. But that was obsurd, they had worked before.
Malcomb wandered around Luisberg the rest of the day, looking for anything that might re-direct the blame on something else. But they all went right back to the Irrationals. Malcomb was on his way back to home, the only real place he could go, when he saw Chad jogging up to him.
“Malcomb!,” he said exasperated. “The Forcer’s online again, and it’s been activated. But not by us. Voices told us they want to see you...”
Last edited by TheGeneral; 31st Oct 01 at 9:56 PM.
Great job IonFish! I only skimed it but I could tell it was great! Since I don't have any time, I printed them out! All 21 pages.
The only bad thing about that short story was that it made me skip over several minor things: dinner, sleep, life, no big deal.
Goodness, I have no idea why I even entered this thing. Oh well it has been fun reading everyones work. Everyone has done exceptional work. And I do not know how we could not allow all entries here in it. (although in truth I cut my story by nearly a quarter. Oh well I like how it turned out.
I look forward to finishing reading them. Mainly Ion's and TG's. Sorry guys haven't read them quite all the way.
Skimmed all the recent ones. Good stuff, blows mine out of the water...way out of the water.
First Impressions of Ion's work.
Well, I thought it was magnificent, it held my attention once I got used to the type of shattered scenes. Great amount of imagery and feeling. Although I found it rather depressing at points.
The worst part was probably the first bit as there were such shattered parts that I got myself confused. I had to read it again (what a terrible thing ) in order to sort my mind out.
All in all I really enjoyed it. Very dark and mysterious, It really could have been longer with more description. I was a little disapointed at it as I know you can do better. I did see quite a few cliche parts and for that I am sad.
Still it blew mine out of the water.
Next story impressions later, Now back to school
Well, the deadline’s past and the entries are in, so it’s time for the judging to commence (no bad 2000AD jokes k thx).
You can find all entries to the Short Story Competition in here (page 1, page 2, page 3) – please read all the stories before voting!
bluevorlon and myself have decided that we’re not going to vote for ourselves, and we encourage the other writers who’ve posted their stories to do the same. Bear in mind, however, that it’s a secret ballot and no one will know how you vote unless you tell them.
Anyway, without further ado… "let the mayhem begin..."
(poll above, entries listed in the order they were posted)
Feel free to discuss the entries here.
(polls will remain open for 48 hours so as to allow people to vote – thanks to Xypher for increasing the maximum number of poll options )
Last edited by ionfish; 1st Nov 01 at 5:58 PM.
I'd like to congratulate everyone who entered... haven't seen such amazing stories in a long time
Thanks, Greenie . And now for my own critique of my work!Originally posted by Greenstone
Goodness, I have no idea why I even entered this thing. Oh well it has been fun reading everyones work. Everyone has done exceptional work. And I do not know how we could not allow all entries here in it. (although in truth I cut my story by nearly a quarter. Oh well I like how it turned out.
I look forward to finishing reading them. Mainly Ion's and TG's. Sorry guys haven't read them quite all the way.
I hate it when I wait to the last minute, I write stuff like this. It has a good beginning, but it gets less descriptive and more hurried toward the end. The premise was good, but I didn't spend enough time on it; a second main character might have helped a ton.
Basicly, the thing needs heavy editing. Which is what I think I'll do!
More critisicms of other people's stuff later . Oh, and how are we going to go about voting for the winner? A new thread with a poll of all entered stories?
And remember, the winner get's added to the amazingly stupendous Homeworld Universe Fiction Database! Of couse, I'll prolly add most of the non-winners, too, since all this is top notch stuf...
Oh dear... I kind of forgot to say in here. :o
There's a new thread up with a poll HERE <<-- go and vote!!
ps Greenie check your PMs...
Very provocative and vivid as always, IonFish
What happened to your entries? It's kinda hard to vote for you if there's no option to do so
<edit> There you are. Found it.
I know what you mean, Ceejay. There is some really good stuff in there.
There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)