FOG Writing Contest 6/13/12 *WINNER*

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Notepad FOG Writing Contest 6/13/12 *WINNER*

Post by Gadreille on Wed Jun 13, 2012 10:09 am

A Piece of History

Welcome to the first official FOG bi-monthly contest!

The theme for this contest is "A Piece of History". In detail, you may write about any period of time, anywhere on Earth. To keep things interesting, you may write this as a period piece, an alternate history, a fantasy piece, or science fiction. Just keep it to the period that you have chosen (i.e. this cannot take place in an alternate world or a fake country). Your written piece can be no longer than 2500 words. Please understand this shortened limit is to reduce the workload of the judges.

This contest will have five reserved slots for entrants. Please reserve your spot in the contest by posting your interest here. Entrants will be recorded in the order that the 'interest' posts were received (i.e. you do not need your entry up yet; however, please do not post interest unless you are planning on submitting an entry). The entrants are listed below:

1. Ten - The Chameleon
2. Ysopet - The Valenzetti Equation
3. Blackrock - Another Holy War
4. Eternal Phoenix - Frontier Patrol - Mission to Rector Five
5. Kalon Ordona II - The Salt of the Nymph

Everyone who wants to compete thereafter will be on the "reserved entrants" list. These will not be a part of the competition unless one or more of the above entrants does not post their work up by the deadline. If someone does not post by the deadline, one of these pieces will be bumped into the competition (Note: If you do NOT want to compete, and are writing strictly for fun, please denote that in the beginning of your entry). Again, please understand that these limits are to keep the workload of the contest down, so that we may have it more often.

Reserved List:
None yet...


Lastly, if you do not wish to compete, but are interested in judging, please post below. The first two who post interest will be judges for this contest. Anyone who posts thereafter will be offered the judging position on the next contest before any more can sign up.

Volunteer Judges:
1. Sunwolf007
2.

The entries, once completed, should be posted here no later than July 13th, 2012. If your work is not posted by then, you are no longer in the competition. Judges will have until August 10th, 2012 to post their review, and the winner. The winner recieves bragging rights, and their work posted in the Archives thread. With any luck, the new contest should be starting a few days thereafter Smile

If anyone has any questions on how this is run, please send me or anyone else on the staff a PM. Happy writing, everyone!


Last edited by Gadreille on Fri Aug 10, 2012 9:57 am; edited 5 times in total
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Notepad Re: FOG Writing Contest 6/13/12 *WINNER*

Post by Guest on Wed Jun 13, 2012 10:14 am

I am interested in writing an entry.

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Notepad Re: FOG Writing Contest 6/13/12 *WINNER*

Post by Gadreille on Wed Jun 13, 2012 10:53 am

Awesome! Our first contestant! Very Happy
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Notepad Re: FOG Writing Contest 6/13/12 *WINNER*

Post by Guest on Wed Jun 13, 2012 7:09 pm

Me! Me has ideas! Can I join?

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Notepad Re: FOG Writing Contest 6/13/12 *WINNER*

Post by Kathryn Lacey on Wed Jun 13, 2012 8:02 pm

I added you to the list of entrants, Ysopet!

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Notepad Re: FOG Writing Contest 6/13/12 *WINNER*

Post by Tartra on Wed Jun 13, 2012 9:47 pm

I really like the theme you picked, Gadreille! I'm a sucker for a good period piece. Laughing I'm kind of confused about the rules though, because I'm not sure how a fantasy short story would compete against a science fiction story if someone else entirely is writing about the Middle Ages or World War II. How does it work?
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Notepad Re: FOG Writing Contest 6/13/12 *WINNER*

Post by Gadreille on Wed Jun 13, 2012 10:24 pm

Basically each person will be judged according to the rubric score sheet. Whoever has the highest average score will win. If you look at it, basically the score sheet reviews each story based on "story", "character", and "prose". The entrant whose piece is most strong in all of these areas will win. The only section that allows for a bit of preference would be at the bottom, in the judges choice section. We're hoping that this way, it will be more about the writer's work, and less about how the writer compares to others. Each piece should be looked at completely individually. I feel like I'm repeating myself trying to explain, so I'll stop now Smile Hopefully I clarified for you.

Are you planning on competing?
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Notepad Re: FOG Writing Contest 6/13/12 *WINNER*

Post by Tartra on Wed Jun 13, 2012 10:30 pm

I'm not sure. I understand that's it's going to be judged against a rubric, but if there's a theme in place and genres are suggested that almost always fall outside that theme, I don't get why the theme exists. There's just not a lot of common ground that I can see, and if this is something where each piece is judged individually, then I don't get how the writers are supposed to compare to each other. Hmm Sorry, but could you explain it again? Maybe I'm missing something.
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Notepad Re: FOG Writing Contest 6/13/12 *WINNER*

Post by Gadreille on Wed Jun 13, 2012 10:32 pm

They are going to compare in writing function in style, not in theme. The theme is merely there to give them something to concentrate on, if you understand what I mean. We could just as easily say, "Write a story, 2500 or less, and GO!" But I think most of us would just sit and stare at the computer for a few weeks, wondering what the heck to write about.

Does that make more sense?
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Notepad Re: FOG Writing Contest 6/13/12 *WINNER*

Post by Tartra on Wed Jun 13, 2012 10:35 pm

Wait, no, now I'm completely going backwards. So we aren't compared on the theme at all?
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Notepad Re: FOG Writing Contest 6/13/12 *WINNER*

Post by Gadreille on Wed Jun 13, 2012 10:39 pm

I'd say that the only way you'd be compared by theme (As in, I like Tartra's connection to the theme more than Ysopet's) would be in the judge's preference section, where the judge can add (or not add) up to ten points for anything that wasn't covered in the rest of the rubric.

I understand that this isn't how the contests were run before, but we were trying to implement the rubric that christoph created in a way that many people could use, with the hopes that contests could happen more frequently. To be honest, when I thought up the theme idea I didn't think about how vastly different the pieces would be. However, I think that would make this contest even more fun!

If not, and the whole thing ends up a mess, perhaps we can find a way to alter the rubric to include theme-relatedness.

Are we on the same page now? Or am I completely misunderstanding your question?

Edit: Another thing I should make clear is that when it is suggested that the entries can be sci-fi or fantasy or such, we still want the focus to be on the time period. We just wanted to allow some creative freedom for those who may find historical fiction daunting (or boring).
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Notepad Re: FOG Writing Contest 6/13/12 *WINNER*

Post by Tartra on Wed Jun 13, 2012 10:41 pm

Ohhhhhhhhhhhh, okay. The third time's the charm, right? Very Happy

I'll sit this one out. Have fun, guys!
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Notepad Re: FOG Writing Contest 6/13/12 *WINNER*

Post by Gadreille on Wed Jun 13, 2012 10:46 pm

-whew- I feel better now Smile

If there is a certain reason you don't want to compete (for example, there is something you feel is wrong with the set up of the contest) feel free to send me a PM. Obviously as this has never been run before in this fashion, I'd like to hear any and all suggestions for future contests. I'd like to keep this thing evolving until most everyone is comfortable with it.

And I'd also like three more contestants! Very Happy
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Notepad Re: FOG Writing Contest 6/13/12 *WINNER*

Post by Sunwolf007 on Thu Jun 14, 2012 1:14 am

I would like to compete in this contest!

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Notepad Re: FOG Writing Contest 6/13/12 *WINNER*

Post by Kathryn Lacey on Thu Jun 14, 2012 1:34 am

Fantastic!

We're taking two more entrants and two volunteer judges still! Come and sign up!

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Notepad Re: FOG Writing Contest 6/13/12 *WINNER*

Post by Kalon Ordona II on Thu Jun 14, 2012 4:25 am

I'll sign up, but bump me to the for-fun category if we get more than 5. Smile
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Notepad Re: FOG Writing Contest 6/13/12 *WINNER*

Post by Blackrock on Thu Jun 14, 2012 5:32 am

I'd like to sign up as well, this is the first time I see a FOG contest that has a theme I'm interested in - so definitely would like to participate! Adding to that, an old idea of mine resurfaced as I read about the contest, something which I never got round to working on. The short word limit is a boon as well, considering I always go long-winded and lose sight of my goal. All in all, it looks like a nice challenge Smile

The time and place are not that famous, but the idea I'll try to send across is something which has accompanied humankind for a long, long time.



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Notepad Re: FOG Writing Contest 6/13/12 *WINNER*

Post by Gadreille on Thu Jun 14, 2012 10:17 am

It doesn't matter that the time and place are not famous; after all, we're all interested in the story more than the history. I'm so glad you are both interested in competing Smile

One more competition slot available, and two judging slots available!
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Notepad Re: FOG Writing Contest 6/13/12 *WINNER*

Post by Eternal Phoenix on Thu Jun 14, 2012 11:31 am

All right, I'll be your fifth. I'm always interested in where my skills stand compared to others'.
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Notepad Re: FOG Writing Contest 6/13/12 *WINNER*

Post by Kathryn Lacey on Thu Jun 14, 2012 11:42 am

Great! We now have five contestants and one reserved contestant!

We still have two slots open for Volunteer Judges, guys!

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Notepad Re: FOG Writing Contest 6/13/12 *WINNER*

Post by Sunwolf007 on Thu Jul 05, 2012 1:13 pm

Because we have an excess of participants and no judges I would like to switch from participant to judge. Would that be ok?

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Notepad Re: FOG Writing Contest 6/13/12 *WINNER*

Post by Kathryn Lacey on Thu Jul 05, 2012 1:15 pm

Of course that's okay, Sunwolf. I'll add you to the judging panel. ^^_^^


Kalon, did you want to be moved from the non-competing entries to the competing ones now that Sun is a judge?

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Notepad Re: FOG Writing Contest 6/13/12 *WINNER*

Post by Kalon Ordona II on Thu Jul 05, 2012 1:42 pm

I guess so, sure. =D
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Notepad My entry

Post by Guest on Sat Jul 07, 2012 10:45 am



The Chameleon

Spoiler:
It was 2:43 a.m. on a Thursday. It wasn’t raining but the ground was wet from a previous shower and the air was sultry with intent. Lamp light reflected off of the puddles and cobblestones of the path, like a glittering river winding through the trees. Fatigue clouded my head from being dragged out of bed at this hour but I was alert from the tone of the panicked phone call that jolted me from sleep. Stephanie March, an old friend of mine, was on the other line. It wasn’t like her to make false claims just to get attention but it was always something with her, some drama that she needed rescuing from. 18 months ago it’d been her fiance abandoning her at the alter. Now there was something going on with her current sugar-daddy that required an urgent meeting in Vestal Park at 3 a.m.

She was already there waiting for me and I stumbled in shock at the sight of her. She didn’t look like the same woman. Gone were the long, blonde locks that used to spread over her shoulders, her neck bared with a bob touching just below her ears. I would have mistaken her for a boy if not for the bright, ruby red lipstick and the elegant legs showing beneath the knee-high skirt. The carefully constructed waves in her hair were unraveling and there was a haunted, sore look to her eyes. Her skin was pale and she seemed thinner, almost swallowed up by the large coat she wore. Only when she turned to greet me did I notice that she was smoking. That was new but I recognized this scene from one I’d seen before. All that was missing was a wedding dress and runny mascara.

Her smile was tentative, uncertain whether I was here to help her or not. “I was worried you wouldn’t come.”

“I said I would, didn’t I?”

“Yes, I suppose you did. You’ve always been someone I could depend on.”

“Yeah, I’m a real honorable guy. Why don’t you stop punching the bag and spill it.”

I did nothing to disguise the bitterness in my voice. I was forced from my bed by the sense of emergency she’d impressed upon me, only to discover her here, perfectly fine - albeit a little worse for wear - languidly smoking like she was waiting for the bus. If she’d expected the protective and concerned friend routine then she had another thing coming.

With a small trembling breath, she looked away, her cigarette held in shaking fingers. Here came the theatrics. At least she learned something from hanging out with starlets other than how to dress like a quiff. Sure enough, there were shades of tears glistening in her eyes when she looked back at me.

“I need your help.”

“If there’s a story here, lay it on me, then I’ll let you know if I’m keen on getting involved.”

“Jason, please, don’t be like that. I’m really scared. Eric has been getting involved with some really shady business lately.”

“Shady? Like what?”

“I don’t really know. Lots of late night meetings with quiet, tough looking guys. I think I’ve seen some things he doesn’t want me to see... It just makes me feel wrong. I don’t want to get close to this, whatever it is or I might get sucked in or worse...”

I was at a loss. On the one hand, my heart went out to the poor bird and yes, I had the urge to help her. On the other, I knew how Stephanie worked and I was reluctant to stick my neck out for her this time. And of course, there was that lingering bitterness.

“You shouldn’t have left.”

“We both knew it was only a matter of time ever since I got that offer.”

She was right. I knew the allure of fame would be too much to keep her by my side. The part of me that was still wounded by the breakup was glad that her pursuit of happiness had failed but here she was trying to stick me with the bill again. Then she had to go, sniveling some excuse about all the trouble she’d get in if she were missed. I had yet to make up my mind so promised to get in touch in the next couple of days. She again impressed upon me the urgency of her situation but made it seem as unimportant as possible by going straight back to him.

I didn't intend to give her fears any weight but it just wouldn't dry up, nagging at my thoughts the entire morning. What if she really was in trouble? As angry as I still was over what happened between us, I didn't want her to get hurt. The least I could do was look into it before making a final decision. If what she said was true, then someone else had to know about this side of Eric Patten.

First, I scraped together all the reports I could at the newspaper where I worked. Other than what I'd been peripherally aware of, I knew next to nothing about the guy and the news stories did nothing to illuminate him any further. Even to the press he was a bit of an enigma but everything he did in public, from his phenomenal acting career to his charity work, painted him as a saint. Obviously, if I wanted to know anything about the real Eric Patten, I'd have to find the people who dealt with him behind the scenes. Now it was just a matter of who to talk to.

The first person to come to mind was Rudolph Quin, an anonymous contact sometimes used by the paper. He had a talent for collecting information, like a little sponge, Quin absorbed every secret that came within earshot and he was always on top of the latest verbal news. He was well-known for his vices, with gambling debts up the wazoo and a ladies man with fine taste and yet the worst luck with women. Because of this, it was fairly easy to bribe the man's tongue but he was allowed to live purely for his usefulness in keeping an ear on everyone's business. If anyone had the lowdown on who Eric was when the cameras were off, it'd be him.

I started looking into his usual hangouts Friday night, finally stopping in at Li's Lounge around 6. A cozy little speakeasy on the corner of Nygaard Square and in the shadow of Allistair Apartments, it was uniquely camouflaged. On the ground floor, it was a Chinese restaurant but below, underground, was where the bar was. It blended into the surroundings perfectly, a little joint wedged between buildings with Oriental lamps in the windows that gave off an eerie green glow.

Finding my way to the basement, I entered the drum, briefly rebuffed by the cigar smoke that lead a campaign against my lungs. Walking in a few steps, I was noticed by the barkeep but ignored him while I searched the room. There were some sorry saps at a few tables and a sparse few drenching the bar with their woes but none of them were Quin. I was just about to turn to the next location on my list when the little putz came waltzing happily out of the john, standing out from the crowd with his short stature and peppy swagger.

Once he sat at the far end of the bar, I joined him, ordering two drinks for us both. Idly chewing on a toothpick, he gave me a look that was all at once wary and full of appraisal.

"It's on me, fella."

"Thanks, friend," he said, gleefully guzzling down the ole coffin varnish, happy to forget me in favor of the gift.

"Sure thing. Hey, I hear you're the one to see if I want to get information about somebody, right?"

Instantly, the little weasel's defenses were up and he cradled his drink closer as if my sudden interest meant I'd take it away from him if he didn't give me what I wanted.

"Yeah? Who's asking?"

"Your friend, remember? We met a moment ago. So, Eric Patten. What have you heard about him?"

"Never heard of him. I don't know him and I don't know you."

He had a right to be paranoid. Rudy was sitting on a lot of valuable information that could expose a lot of important and powerful people. One wrong word to the wrong person - say the cops, for example - could end up costing him his life. So, he would remain tight-lipped until I gave him incentive to beat his gums and luckily, I came prepared. On the bar I placed a brown envelope with $200 clams inside and slid it near enough for him to get a peek. His eyes lit up with a gambler's avarice but before he could lay a scrawny paw on it, I slapped his hand and shook a finger at him.

"Gimme the scoop first."

"What, are ya a reporter?"

"Yeah, but you won't see this story in print."

"What doya want?"

"Try to keep up, Quin. Eric Patten; tell me everything you know about him."

"The Chameleon?" Eric's nickname in the papers referring to the wide range of film characters he played and the way he completely transformed for each role. Lazily, that toothpick found it's way to the other corner of Rudy's mouth and he shrugged. "There's not much."

He was right, there wasn't a lot to go on. Some murmurings about business deals with the Elmira Mafia but Quin assured me that any connections to Eric were entirely off the radar. Under serious scrutiny, the man would remain clean as a whistle. One thing that caught my interest was talk about disappearing girls. Apparently, Eric went through a lot of girlfriends and several of them had gone missing over the years. I pressed him for more but all he said was that Eric supposedly paid the cops off to keep the cases quiet. “At the very least, they give up after only a few days. The cases ain’t closed but nobody is looking for ‘em. I’d say that is mighty suspicious, especially when you make the connection to the Chameleon.”

I had to agree with him there but still, it wasn’t enough. In the end, Rudy pointed me in the direction of some mob boss. The "Frenchman" as Rudy called him had a history with Eric and the two men maintained a love-hate relationship because of it. They regularly traded favors relating to Benoit's racketeering activities and Eric's connection with the police. But Quin didn't explain the power that Eric had over the crime lord merely promising that Benoit had a story I should hear. It was enough of a lead for me to part with the money without feeling like my time had been wasted.

I caught up with the Frenchman around 11:52 on Saturday at Frau Madeline's where he stopped to get lunch. A cozy little place with only the barest lighting in the interior and an old world feeling to the decor. When I first showed up I pretended to be interested in doing business with him but he saw through the charade and quickly lost patience with me. A tall woman in black men's clothes, with a cloth mask covering half her face, began to forcibly usher me from the table. Although Quin had confirmed some of what Stephanie said, I wouldn't be able to call myself a good reporter if I didn't find another source. Besides that, I didn't trust the shrimp and this was the best lead I had. As a last resort with nothing to lose, I decided to tell the truth.

"Wait! I need to find out about Eric Patten!"

"Squiddie." The silent woman stopped and held me facing Benoit's table. "The celebrity? And you come to me seeking this information?"

"Rumor has it that you and he are pretty chummy. A friend of mine has recently become Eric's necker and I just want to make sure everything is on the up and up."

"You're a police officer?"

"No, and I don't plan on getting them involved. I just want to make sure she's safe with him."

It took him only a minute to think it over before he gave a small nod and the strong lady behind me shoved me into a seat. Lighting a fresh cigarette with the tip of the previous one, he continued to smoke up a storm cloud that hovered above and around us. The orange light that filtered through the haze painted his features with contrast while the smoke almost hid him from me.

"What do you plan to do with this information? Once you learn about Eric, then what?"

"If there is a reason I should be worried, then I need to help her. The newspapers glorify his clean record and generosity. Do you know anything about him that contradicts this image?"

He nodded thoughtfully and took a deep drag. "Patten always had such a nurturing spirit. A desire to cultivate young, pretty talent, doting on them and taking them under his wing. The problem ends up being his desire for control, keeping them so close that his arm candy becomes a liability. A couple of years ago one of my associates was swept up by him. Jeanette Breton wanted to be a singer and Eric helped her live the dream."

Benoit’s demeanor had taken on a sentimental air. There was something guarded about his body language but the words were intimate and his eyes were clouded with memory.

"She was your lover?"

"Yes."

"What happened to her?"

"She vanished. She was singing in some of the hottest clubs in the city, growing in popularity and making a name for herself, everything she'd always wanted. And then poof - she disappeared. An investigation was started but after only two days, the police gave up and tucked it away like she'd never existed. Like she was just a common harlot that no one cared about. Easily forgotten."

He was on his third cigarette since I sat down at the table with him. "Not long after that, Eric begins doing me favors, keeping the cops out of clubs where my merchandise is sold. When I tried to urge the investigation to continue, several of my men were pinched by the Fuzz. I let it go and they were released within the month due to technicalities. Is there a reason you should be worried? All I have is this long list of coincidences so make of it what you will."

Then the Frenchman made a small motion with his fingers and suddenly Squiddie was back and giving me the bum’s rush out the door without another word. After leaving Benoit, my mind was racing as I tried to put everything together. Who knew? Maybe Jeanette did something worthy of getting bumped off. Maybe she did nothing. Still, I found it hard not to be influenced by Benoit's prejudices. The man had suffered loss and surrounded himself with dishonest people but some of what he said hit several details of Stephanie's situation just right. At the very least, her fears had been confirmed by two different accounts. If history ended up repeating itself then it wasn't like I hadn't tried to use better judgement.

The next day, I found Eric at the Charlton Club and Stephanie was with him. Their entourage sat at a large table near the stage silently listening to the brother-sister duet currently filling the mic with their joined voices. I sat at my own table near the back, nursing a club soda as I watched them, waiting for my moment. If I could just talk to her alone then she would know that I was here for her and she’d leave him. At the end of the musical number, Stephanie excused herself from the table and I followed her, stopping at the doors to make sure Eric was occupied before I made my exit. Out in the hallway, I followed her around a corner, catching up with her before she made it to the ladies room.

"Stephanie!"

She turned as I approached and I was momentarily dazed by her appearance. Her platinum blonde hair was done up in silky waves with glittering diamond earrings dangling by her neck and her face was perfection, smooth and flawless. Her green eyes electric and vibrant and her gown was loose and formless elegance, giving her body and curves a free, willowy look. She was gorgeous and although I had no idea why at the time, I felt suddenly foolish in my desire to save her. She was surprised to see me and seemed a bit put off by my presence. It didn't take long to explain what I'd found out and rather than looking validated or relieved, by the time I finished she looked really disappointed in me.

"Are you done?"

"What?"

"You really shouldn't be here and I would like you to leave."

She was digging through a glittering gold pocketbook and started to turn towards the washroom before I grabbed her arm and turned her back to face me. "Wait a second! What's the big idea? You were the one who called me and asked me to help, remember?"

"Well, I made a mistake." A feeling of disconnection overtook me then, as if I were looking at a stranger. As if all of this was happening to somebody else. Was she really going to do this? Was she really going to betray me again? "We had a fight and I was scared he might get upset enough to do something but now I know he could never hurt me. We're happy and everything is fine."

"What about his 'shady business'? What about Jeanette Breton? He's gotten rid of women before for knowing too much--"

"Jeanette Breton?” She gave me a look as if I were being clueless on purpose just to spite her. Even so, she was like a caught butterfly, fragile and flustered, defensive in her denials. I started to get angry with her for not seeing the truth right in front of her face. “Jason, she didn't disappear. Eric helped her move to California. She changed her name and she's making movies now. That's why the police stopped looking for her."

"Did he tell you that? What movies has she been in then?"

"You need to go. Now! Do not come looking for me again. I'm fine. I'm exactly where I want to be--"

"Is there a problem here?"

The new voice startled us both and we turned to see Eric Patten, with arms tucked neatly behind his back, slowly sauntering towards us with a grin on his face. Up close and in person, he was a lot larger than I expected, standing a good 6" and wearing a fashionable pair of horn-rimmed glasses. His shoulders were broad and his waist slim, the suit he wore was long and formal and the legs short so that his socks showed. The thing that made the biggest impression on me, however, was the smile dominating his face, beaming with open curiosity at me and yet with a knowing glint in his eyes. His presence seemed to fill the corridor to overflowing and Stephanie's relief at his sudden appearance was palpable.

We stood there silently for a moment or two; Stephanie was watching Eric, I was looking at Stephanie and Eric was glancing from one to the other expectantly. I was waiting for her to explain to him, to confront him, filled with some vague hope that my being here would finally give her the courage to leave him. When he got no answer, however, Eric was happy to fill the silence.

“Stephie, be a doll and go back to the table, please."

That bitterness painted my tongue again as I watched her walk away without a word towards the sound of applause from the main hall. It was almost like she was running away from me. When she was gone, I turned back to Eric, suddenly connecting my original impressions to the man standing before me. It was the blatant condescension in that irritating, friendly smile of his, like a man who knew he was untouchable.

"You heard us?"

"Some of it, yes. Definitely some very interesting theories but nothing I haven't heard parroted before."

"I know about the missing girls and I know how you cover your tracks."

“Really? I cover my tracks? That’s news to me. And tell me about it, women are creatures of flight. I can never seem to keep one around for very long.” He shrugged and let out a breath of amused exasperation. “Dames, am I right?”

He wanted to play this off as if he were innocent, as if he didn’t know what I was talking about, but now more than ever, I was certain it was real. My voice got quiet and I stood well within his personal space to make sure he felt the threat in my words. Stephanie might have been scared of him but I wasn't. "You keep her safe, Eric, and take good care of her because if she ever 'disappears' I'll make sure they find her, even if they have to drag the bottom of the entire river."

While I spoke, the brightness in his smile faded but never vanished completely. It seemed he was actually taking me seriously until it blossomed to full power again in an expression of pure delight. "You really shouldn't be listening to rumors, Jay Jay. And it sounds like the lady doesn't want you around, so I'd hesitate to get involved any further if I were you."

An arm came around my shoulders and sufficiently trapped by it, with him looming over me, he walked us down the corridor towards the front doors of the club. "Tell ya what: I'll do my very bestest to protect Stephie if you stay away from her and keep out of our business. And try to think of my asking not as a threat but me living up to the promise I just made." At the door, he stopped and turned to me holding his hand out in pleasant offering. "Deal?"

I said nothing and made no move to touch him, instead turning away to walk out the doors. The guy gave me the heebie-jeebies and there were just so many things wrong with this situation, it was like an insatiable itch. But this was what I'd expected and prepared for, wasn't it? To be made a fool for trying to help her. Well, if she was going to bed with that guy then she was a big enough girl to deal with the consequences on her own. It was no skin offa my nose.

After a half an hour walk, I finally made it home, planning to just drop myself into bed and hopefully forget all about this crazy mess. At my apartment door with key in hand, a voice called out to me and I turned to see a woman walking up the stairs towards me.

"Can I talk to you for a second?"

"Do I know you?"

"No, but I know you."

She was not someone I recognized and with her boyish haircut and long coat, she didn't look like anyone that I'd associate myself with. "I hear you've been poking around, trying to get information on Eric Patten."

"So what if I have?"

"Well, you need to stop."

Normally, I wouldn't take too kindly to some strange dame telling me what to do but there was something in the way her warning was delivered that made my irritation dissolve. And on top of that, I was just worn out and tired of talking about Eric. I shook my head dismissively at her. "Don't worry, I've got no inter--"

"I'm serious. Whatever you're looking for, you need to drop it. You're digging into things a lot bigger than you realize. Eric is not someone you want to play with - not even if you're being friendly."

I was really getting annoyed by this cryptic nonsense. Did Eric send her to make sure I really got the hint? Not only was it unnecessary but it just added to the humiliation I’d already suffered. Trying to be cute, I said, "You really shouldn't be listening to rumors."

"Eric Patten is made of rumors. What you hear is usually closer to the truth than you think. Just stay away from him or you might be next."

And with that she left. I stood there for a moment or two longer, her words swirling around in my head before the meaning began making connections to what I already knew. Then I was moving, down the stairs and out of the building, running down the street like the devil was chasing me. Only when I was halfway there did I realize where I was going and I was worried that they might not even still be there but this couldn't wait. All I could think about were rumors and Eric and how close she was to him. The way she went back to him so willingly and how he promised to keep her safe made my stomach turn. I pushed myself to speed up.

I was only a block away when I saw the flashing lights of the police cruisers and an ambulance that flocked in front of the jazz club. There was a small crowd of people clustered outside a ring of police barricades and I shoved my way to the front to get a better look. My heart pounded in my throat and I was filled with the certainty that I was too late, even as I frantically searched with hope fluttered uselessly in the background.

I held my breath as men in uniform came out the front doors, pushing a gurney. Only when they wheeled it past did I realize that the sheet-covered body laid upon it was huge. As the cart turned so they could put it into the back of the van, I noticed the shoes poking out from the bottom of the sheet, the pant legs short with the socks exposed. The fact that Eric was dead was not a comforting thought. When more officers came out the doors, they were escorting the perpetrator of this crime and without a moment of hesitation, I pushed my way past the barricade.

She looked so different that she may as well have been a complete stranger. Her vulnerability and fear were nowhere to be found and when Stephanie looked at me, there was a calm, blank look in her eyes. If I hadn't known any better, I would have thought the police brought two corpses from the building. Stepping up to her, questions came spilling out of me - What happened? Why didn't she let me help her get away from him? Was it true? Were the rumors about Eric true? - but mostly, I just struggled against the officers trying to pull me away and asked "Why?" over and over.

With that same desolate serenity, she spoke, her voice, although quiet, clear enough to be heard above the noise of the crowd. "We both knew it was only a matter of time ever since I got that offer."

I stood there, drained on my feet as I watched them put her in the back of the cruiser still wearing her pretty dress and now handcuffs, unable to deny, no matter how much I fought against it, that... she was right.

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Notepad Re: FOG Writing Contest 6/13/12 *WINNER*

Post by Gadreille on Sat Jul 07, 2012 12:03 pm

Ten asked if she could submit her entry over the word limit. We've OKed it, which means ef anyone else wants to go over the word limit, they may. However, this will be taken into consideration when handing out "judges points", that is, you will likely be deducted for going over the word limit. Also, it may take us longer to judge if everyone writes over-the-limit entries.
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Notepad Re: FOG Writing Contest 6/13/12 *WINNER*

Post by Gadreille on Thu Jul 12, 2012 9:28 am

Entries are due tomorrow!
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Notepad Re: FOG Writing Contest 6/13/12 *WINNER*

Post by Blackrock on Thu Jul 12, 2012 10:12 am

Here's my entry, very experimental on my part - looking forward to see how it measures up to the other stories. Good luck to my fellow contestants! Smile



Another Holy War

Spoiler:
Another Holy War

I am God, the only one
I will bring back freedom to your heart


(title and quote taken from Another Holy War by Blind Guardian)

On a nameless hill, somewhere near the city of Adrianople – a rich and great city by all accounts – Theodric had propped himself against the bark of an unknown tree. Everything seemed unknown in this foreign land, the trees, the stars, the people and their ways. Yet another reminder that he was a stranger here, him and all those like him. Breathing heavily he looked down and winced, seeing his ruined leg. A spear had been driven through it, passing clean through his thigh and the wound was now bleeding heavily, countless rivulets of blood soaking the grass beneath him. His vision was going blurry; just a few moments ago it seemed to him that, from his position here, he could see the lands below...but no more. With a clam, regretful sigh he realised something. I’m going to die here.

It was not a dreaded realisation as he had feared at first. After all, which man wanted to die? There were a few of those, true – the rash and foolish, but most hung on to life dearly. Theodric had been no exception but his time had come as well, although not as soon as it came for some. An aging man he was now, he would soon pass his fortieth year – life enough had been granted to him by God. Perhaps it was time to go now. Time to utter a final prayer and close his eyes, letting his life’s blood drain from him, surrendering himself to the Lord. But...he could not, not yet.

It was strange, Theodric thought, that even in his last moments a man truly had no control over his own life. Almost at once he shuddered, not only from the pain in his leg, but from the blasphemous thought. The Lord worked in mysterious ways, he had often heard priests tell, and it was no business of his how He ordered men’s lives. And yet...such thoughts had come to him often of late. Perhaps it was just such a thought that still kept him alive, as if he had glimpsed something – a shadow of a shadow and only had to strain enough to see it clearly.

Blurry-eyed, he looked around, trying to clear his sight and see...but there was nothing. The dead and dying scattered the hill, most had the Cross sewn on their tabards or displayed prominently on their chest, but the holy symbol had aided them little in this world. Here and there, other garments were visible – those of the Bulgars and Wallachians and Cumans and God knew what else; the people of these lands, the ones who fought fiercely for their homes.

Suddenly, Theodric noticed something – little more than a flicker at the edge of his vision and when he turned his head to see there was nothing. Carefully, for the movement brought him further dizziness, he turned his gaze again to the distant plains. And just then he beheld the stranger standing in front of him.

An old man, with a serene face and snow-white hair and beard, he radiated peacefulness and calm. He wore simple robes in earthen colours, but Theodric was beginning to have trouble focusing and everything seemed a blur to him, even the man’s features. Somehow he knew, though. He knew who stood before him.

“Are you...God?” he asked weakly, straining for his voice to rise above a soft murmur.

It was an absurd question, he realised, as soon as he had asked it. Who was Theodric to question Him? For that matter, who was Theodric for Him Above to come especially for him? He tried to shake his head, but his neck was stiff and it barely moved.

“Does it matter?” the stranger asked him, in Theodric’s native German – in the tones of Upper Saxony no less.

Theodric could find no answer for that, instead he remained silent.

“Look back on what you were, on what made you walk this path you have chosen.”

Yes...yes, the old man – whoever or whatever he was – spoke the truth. Theodric had often heard that in their final moments, men looked back on their lives – either out of regret, longing or fear was something which could not be said easily, he now understood. For him though, the purpose was clear: he wanted to know, he wanted to learn. Why or what, he still knew not, however.

Theodric had been born some forty years ago in a small town in the north of Upper Saxony, the second son to a merchant, younger than his brother by two years. Theodric’s childhood passed swiftly and unremarkably, buried under the chores and cares of everyday life. His father was not truly wealthy, but he had enough to afford an education for both his sons. Unfortunately, his business could only be inherited by his eldest child, as it was too small to be split between the two. Theodric did not mind at the time, he got along well with his brother and was certain that they would be able to sort it out between themselves when the time came.

He was still young back then, he now thought with a rueful smile, and naive. He believed that everything would turn out for the best in the end, but he soon understood how different reality was from fancy. A young man of eighteen, he had been courting a girl for little over a year and was planning on making her his wife – a decision he was almost ready to announce to both his and her family.

Sadly, her father was a well-to-do merchant and he would have none of it; his daughter would not marry a poor man, with nothing to his name – no matter what feelings he had for her. While saddened for his son, Theodric’s father was a trader at heart too, so he married of his older son to the girl, who had no choice but to accept her father’s wishes.

Even then, young and inexperienced as he was, he knew that there was nothing that could be done to change what had occurred. But he persisted and despite her protests, despite fear of discovery, he lay with his brother’s wife – she did not resist him, but they both knew their sin would be harshly judged in this world or the next. After that, Theodric became a broken man and he lost his passion for life, neglecting his duties and taking to drink.

“And then You intervened” he whispered softly to his silent companion.

The Emperor, Frederick Barbarossa, took up the Cross and announced his desire to free the Holy City of the infidels that plagued it. The Third Crusade had been called and the ruler of the greatest nation was amongst the first to answer the call, gathering his knights and sworn men. When he heard of this, Theodric was left with no doubt – this was the chance to redeem his sin, this was the chance to do God’s work and secure his place in Heaven. He left at once, forsaking kin and friends; he left and swore on the Cross that he would reclaim Jerusalem.

The day he arrived in the Emeperor’s camp still remained vivid in his memory, even though it had been half a lifetime ago. Before his eyes fluttered countless flags flapping in the wind, the knights and their retainers, the thousands of men gathered under the banner of the Holy Roman Emperor. It had been glorious. When they set out, every man there felt as if God was walking by their side on that journey. They left with hearts blazing with hope.

Hope that was dashed all too soon. Long before they even neared the Holy City, the Emperor died and his men scattered to the winds, forswearing their vows and returning home. Some remained with the Emperor’s son – Frederick – and Theodric was amongst them. He still believed. He still wanted to believe that everything was not an illusion.

“My faith never wavered...” he struggled to say.

After that, everything passed in a blur – the long days in the scorching sun, the thirst and despair, the walls and siege of Antioch, the English King, the Lionhearted...all of that seemed a dream to him now. Another man’s dream.

“We never even saw the....City....we returned home with empty hands and emptier hearts.”

“You did not find redemption then?”

“No...”

After the Crusade, he returned home to find his father dead and buried; his mother as well. His brother, still unaware of Theodric’s sin, welcomed him with open arms and offered him a place as his right-hand man. But Theodric refused, not able to share a house with the man, much less his wife.

Even as a child he had been skilled with his hands and he made a living for himself as a potter; he even got the respect of his neighbours. Theodric the Crusader they called him, some mockingly, others in light-hearted jest, though many were serious. He never found the peace he sought though, until another chance seemed to be given to him.

It seemed like yesterday that he swore again on the Cross, swore that he would embark on this Fourth Crusade and reclaim Jerusalem. The last Crusade was a trial the godly would endure, the priests told them, this time things would be different. Their faith and determination would see them through. If only that had been the last trial...

“Why do you test us, thus?” he asked weakly, a tear rolling down his stained face “Why do we deserve such punishment?"

Trying to focus, he blinked a few times but his mind was as muddled and blurry as his vision. Everything began to lose shape and logic, idle thoughts drifting by, like autumn leaves blown by the wind.

He remembered Zara though....the city on the coast that they had sacked, a Christian city, with Christians living there. Theodric shuddered as he remembered the crosses....the people had tried to save themselves by declaring their faith, painting the symbols on the walls and hanging them from their windows.

“All for naught....we butchered them like animals...our brothers in the faith...” he said weakly.

The men blamed the Venetians he recalled, that was the price they had demanded for the fleet which would bring the crusaders to the Holy Land. A small price to pay, he had thought at the time, perhaps as an excuse for the monstrosities he himself had committed after Zara fell.

And then...then...it was almost too hard to think, his mind tried to scream and shut out the memory. But it came...weak and blurry and lethargic, but it came.

“We never reached the Holy Lands this time...let alone Jerusalem...”

No. It had all ended at Constantinople, the great capital of the Byzantine Empire, home to countless relics and pieces of history; a monument to times gone by. Theodric was a simple man, but even his meagre education had provided him with that insight. Tsarigrad...he had heard these Bulgars refer to it, the City of Kings. Truly....a kingly city if there ever was one, dwarfing anything he had ever witnessed in the Holy Roman Empire or beyond.

And yet...when he and the rest of the crusaders descended upon that city, nobody seemed to realise that. Tears began streaming from his eyes as he remembered the churches burn, ancient places of knowledge and learning sacked and pillaged, icons broken apart by rough hands and split in pieces to be sold later. Nuns taken on the street, raped like the lowliest wharf-whores. Almost a year had passed since then and yet he still asked himself: What where we thinking?

After that....it all fell apart, bit by bit. They called themselves victors and set about creating an Empire of their own, to replace the one of the Byzantines. How could they have thought it would be so easy? Now...now it was all over, their backs broken by the Greeks and Bulgars that called these lands home. One by one his countrymen had died, little as they were, with more and more Frenchmen coming to replace them. But they died as well, common foot soldiers and proud knights as well.

Here, today, at Adrianople was the last battle. The last one that mattered at least...they had been utterly crushed and the rest of the crusaders would be hunted down and slain like animals, Theodric was certain of that.

“Where did we go wrong...?” he cried out “We set out seeking redemption and in our wake caused suffering and death, as if inspired by the Devil himself!”

“Yet, you did not succumb to base instincts in Constantinople. After Zara, you had schooled yourself. Is that no so?”

Yes...yes it was, Theodric had wandered the streets of the fallen Constantinople aimlessly, horrified....but he had touched neither woman, nor treasure. He had been afraid that he wrath of God would fall upon them. Nothing of the sort had happened.

“Why? Why did you let this go unpunished?” he asked again, straining for his voice to be loud and clear “Why do you let Your children butcher themselves thus? Do we not suffer enough in our daily lives that we must also kill one another with sword and axe?”

Letting voice to those thoughts felt as if a dam had burst within him. Theodric had always been a pious man, but over the years and especially over the last few months his faith had been shaken. A priest had told him that he must remain steadfast, that it was all one of the Lord’s tests. But Theodric was not so certain anymore.

“What God are you that you allow men to do this?!” he demanded, squinting his eyes so he could focus on the old man “If you are the One, why then do we fight in the names of different Gods?! Why do the infidels call upon theirs? Why do we fight these Bulgars and Greeks, when they worship You as well?! Are we not brothers?!”

Why...why indeed could they not all live as kin, with peace and goodness between them?

“What sort of God makes his children slay one another? Are we like Cain that we must strike down our own flesh and blood?!”

“You did not raise your hand in lust or greed in Constantinople” the old man began “you chose the right path. And are you the only one? No. You were not the first, for many others before you turned away from this sinful Crusade, even before Zara. They saw through the veil of lies cast before their eyes.”

“And how many did not? Your priests should give us wisdom and yet they gave us honeyed words and spurned us onward. By preaching Your word and Your Truth did they drive us into sin! Why do you allow them to lead their flock astray?”

It was too much for Theodric, for he knew the old man had a point. But also knew...no, felt...as he had never felt before that he himself was in the right. For too long had he remained silent, for too long had he hidden from the terrible truth.

“Are you God?” he asked again, as he had in the beginning, but this time his voice was different. He was not questioning if God had appeared before him, but whether God existed. “Are you real?”

Silence was the only answer. Which was all the proof Theodric needed. Gritting his teeth to shut out the pain in his leg, he mustered his courage to say something which he had kept close to heart for a long, long time.

“You are no God of mine...you are no God of mine....I....I DENY YOU!”

“...you” came a weak, muffled sound.

And then Theodric saw...he opened his eyes, for they had been closed the entire time he now realised. He had heard that there was a final clarity before death and this was surely it. “You” was the only word that had escaped his mouth...everything before that...he had said nothing. The exchange had been in his head...the old man? The old man! Had he been there? Who had he spoken to?

He looked around, forcing every fibre in his weakened body to move....but there was nothing, and even the groans of the dying had died out. He was alone.

In those final moments, a question busied his mind, but it did not leave him in doubt. He was ready to leave this world and move on to the next, Heaven or Hell....if there even were such places. And yet...

Had God appeared to grant him words of wisdom? Or had it all been a twisted vision of his weary mind, burdened by guilt and weakened by blood-loss? Had he seen the Light or had he found his own God, deep inside? He asked as much, using the last of his strength to speak.

Only the wind replied, a warm gust from the south, leaving his question unanswered. But Theodric knew...

“Every man has his own God...here” he tapped his heart.

When the wind blew again there were no longer any living souls on the hill. Only the body of a man, smiling...peaceful.

He had blundered in life, but in death he had found his God.
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Notepad Re: FOG Writing Contest 6/13/12 *WINNER*

Post by Eternal Phoenix on Thu Jul 12, 2012 6:10 pm

I went over the limit. Sad I had to end it a bit abruptly, otherwise I'd have gone over 3000 words and I don't think anybody wants that. It's science fiction, but I've tried to keep it in the background. I'm no good at naming things, so please don't judge what's inside by the name.



Frontier Patrol: Mission to Rector Five

Spoiler:
Frontier Patrol: Mission to Rector Five

Commander Thaddeus Gray woke from his light nap with the ease of long practice. The regulations on Frontier Patrol smallships stated that everyone got at least six hours rest in every twenty four, and Thad was nothing if not a strict follower of the regulations. He sat up and put his feet on the floor. There was no worry of bumping his head, as there was no top bunk like in the only other bunk room aboard the Silver Retriever. The commanding officer did get the privileges befitting his rank, after all. That one was shared, but this one was entirely his. The intercom was part of the console that opened the door. He stood up and keyed it on. “Lieutenant? Status report.”

Lieutenant Hailey Morton, second in command and the Silver Retriever’s engineer, replied nonchalantly, as was her wont. “Nothing too big, boss. Picked up a distress call and we’re on route. ETA three and half hours. I’m in the pilot’s seat, but Pullman should be up shortly. He’s still young, after all. You gonna grab a bite to eat, or you coming right up?”

Thad considered. “Any specifics on that distress call?”

“No, sir. It’s Rector Five. They’re only a Class One archeological site, so they don’t have anything other than basic comm gear. There’s no way they could put out any priority signals other than a general distress call with just that.”

“All right. I’ll go see Doc and have a little chow. Steady as she goes, Hailey.”

“And may the wind ever be at our back, Thad.” Thad keyed the intercom off and smiled. He’d know Hailey for years. They’d gone through officer training together, her a engineering prodigy and him on the command track. They even dated for a while, before realizing they had zero romantic chemistry with each other. Thad shook off the memories and opened his door. Sure enough, Spaceman Daniel Pullman was slouched in the opposite doorway.

“Six hours is just not enough.” The devilishly handsome brown haired and eyed Caucasian muttered.

Thad just looked at him. “You say something, Spaceman?”

Daniel finally noticed his commander and straightened. “No, sir. Happy to be serving on this tin can, sir.”

“Then get up top and relieve the Lieutenant. We may double on these ships, but piloting is your job. Get to it.”

Daniel saluted and stepped briefly down the hall to his right. He glanced over his shoulder. “Is Doc going to bring me some chow again? I could use some before my next break.”

“I’ll see to it, Spaceman. And the Lieutenant tells me we’ve got a distress call. Three hours plus until arrival. Look sharp.”

“Yes sir. Thank you sir.” Up the ladder the young man went. As for Thad, he went down the hall in the opposite direction, to the small room that served as both infirmary and mess hall. In it was Doctor Thomas St. John, also known as “Ole Doc”, or just plain “Doc.” He had no rank, as like many doctors in the Patrol, he was a civilian.

“Doc, what’ve you got?”

The old Black man smiled. “Oh, the usual rationed crap. Here, have a bar. I know you’re in a hurry.” He handed a ration bar to Thad, who took it.

“They’re not that bad, Doc. It’s just oats and dried fruit. Humans have eaten this kind of thing for centuries.”

“It’s not real food, Thad.” Thad had known Doc longer than he’d known Hailey, and the man hadn’t been close to young even then. “Something cooked and seasoned, not processed and squeezed into a bar.”

Thad held up his hands. “I know when I’m beaten. We’re three hours plus from Rector Five. General distress, so have your gear ready to go. Ah, and Pullman asked for you to bring him some chow while he’s on duty.”

“Aye, Commander. Don’t forget your water.”

Thad took the proffered bottle, and slipped both into the pockets of his uniform. Then he walked to the ladder and climbed up to the bridge. It had three chairs. Right in front of him was the tactician’s chair in which sat the final crew member, Spacewoman First Class Chamille. The Indian woman noted his arrival. “Commander on deck.” She stood but did not salute.

Beyond Chamille’s chair and a pair of steps down the walkway on the left., there was the Commander’s chair where Hailey sat. She was a brunette Caucasian with brown eyes, and fairly attractive to boot. She did stand and salute. “Mornin’, boss.” Another pair of steps down the walkway was the pilot’s chair, in front of which was the currently dark viewscreen. Pullman turned and saluted, then got back to his work.

“At ease, crew. Lieutenant, I relieve you.” Chamille sat down as Thad walked down to just past the Commander’s chair.

Hailey shook his hand, formally acknowledging the change in command. “I stand relieved, Commander.” She stepped out of the way, and Thad took his seat. “I’ve tried to contact Rector Five to get some news on their status, but so far I’ve gotten no response. The Hausman comm relay could be down, but I did pick up some residual chatter from that sector. It’s possible it’s just bleed through from the neighboring relays, though. Otherwise, Rector’s comm. gear must be down.” She didn’t say the other possibility, that pirates or plague had come to call. Those were nightmare scenarios for the Frontier Patrol, ones they tried to avoid at all costs.

“Understood, Lieutenant. You and Chamille go get some rest. We could be up for a while with this one, so I want you two as rested as possible. I’ll play tactician until we arrive, and Pullman will activate our stealth systems just in case.”

“Aye, sir. Spacewoman, let’s go.” The two women departed.

Thad moved to the tactician’s chair. “Spaceman, activate stealth systems.”

Daniel’s response was lightning quick. “Aye, sir. Activating stealth systems.”

Thad began composing a message to his wife, Caitlin, in his head. The time would pass quickly enough. All he had to do was what the Patrol-the entire Navy, in fact-was infamous for. Waiting.

************************************************************************

Daniel’s voice broke into Thad’s thoughts. “Commander? We’re a few minutes out from Rector Five.”

Thad heaved a mental sigh. He couldn’t quite decide what to say in the message, so it would have to wait for now. “Thank you, Spaceman.” Right on cue, Chamille came back up the ladder. They both resumed their proper seats without speaking. Thad touched his console with his hand, bringing up a view of Rector Five on the viewscreen. “Take us into orbit, Spaceman.”

”Aye, sir.”

Thad’s console also operated external communications, and he triggered the transmitter now. “Archaeology Team, this is the Frontier Patrol Smallship Silver Retriever. We have received your distress call. Can you tell us the situation?”

There was no response.

“Chamille, are the coordinates for their encampment on file?”

The youngish woman worked her own console. “Yes, Commander. I’ll see if I can find it.” She worked her controls again, and the viewscreen, currently showing the slowly rotating surface of the desert planet, zoomed in. Buildings appeared, the massive ancient structures the team was here to investigate. They grew bigger at a rapid pace, then the temporary shelters of the archaeologists appeared. Chamille stopped soon afterward, creating the appearance of viewing the area from 100 feet in the air. There were bodies in the streets.

“Damn.” Thad swore. “Get a better view.” He touched the intercom. “Doc, are you seeing this?” The view dipped to 50 feet.

The old medicine man’s voice. “I am, Commander.”

The view dipped to 25 feet. “What are we seeing?”

“You can see the violence for yourself. But those wounds don’t match any gun or laser wounds I’ve ever seen. They look like…some kind of blade made them.”

Chamille cut in. “Commander, I have matches to the thermal patterns on file. Two adult males, one young adult female, and one juvenile.”

Thad twisted in his seat to look at her. “Who and where?”

“In the smaller of the three ruins. Judging from their positioning, team leader Professor George Blackburn is on the floor. His pattern signifies serious injury.”

Doc spoke up. “I have his file here. His health was never strong, and age has worsened the problem. He’s…74? That’s almost as old as I am.”

Chamille continued. “The other adult male is Ewan Young, one of the grad students.. His pattern is showing significant blood loss. The female is Doctor Harriet Morgan, double doctorates. The child is hers, a Drew Morgan. No notation on male or female.”

Thad nodded and turned back around. “Spaceman, we need to get down there and evac those people immediately.”

“No can do, Commander. My instruments show that a sandstorm is moving in, and the winds are already over fifty kilometers an hour down there. We don’t have the maneuverability in atmosphere to handle that, and I don’t want to think about what the windblown sand would do to our hull.”

“Hmm.” Thad thought on what to do. “All right, Chamille and I will take the shuttle pod down. I’m seeing enough building cover down there to shield it. We’ll perform field medicine on the injured and secure the tactical situation before we expose our doctor to potential danger. Chamille, gear up and let’s get down there.” He keyed the intercom once more, this time for the bottom engineering deck. “Lieutenant, you have the bridge. Contact the Admiral after our departure and give her a sitrep.”

“Aye, sir. On my way.” A rifle, an armored space suit and a medical kit a piece later, Thad and Chamille climbed up the ladder and stepped left in the into the shuttle pod. The right was the ship’s main air lock. The pod only sat two, the pilot and a passenger. Thad closed the pod’s airlock, undocked from the ship, and took them down to the planet’s surface.

************************************************************************

Thad climbed out of the pod into a world made of sand. The wind howled, even through the helmet’s dampening effect. If it weren’t for the gyros in the suit, he’d have been blown over. As it was, he staggered. “Commander?” Chamille was looking at him from ahead.

“I’m fine. It’ll be worse out of this alley.” Thad touched the pod’s lock close button. “Let’s go. Those people aren’t getting any safer.” He let Chamille lead the way. The tactician has excellent balance and a knack for finding just the right place to walk through to spare her commander extra effort. In no time at all, they entered the building where the survivors were located. They triggered their rifle lamps and kept walking. A few searched rooms later, Chamille saw light ahead.

“Commander.”

“I see it. Lamps off.” They turned them off and walked into the room. Blackburn was the furthest away, next to the lamp. He was pale, but conscious unlike the rest.

“Who?”

Thad reached up and removed his helmet. “Commander Thaddeus Grey of the Frontier Patrol Smallship Silver Retriever. We received your distress call.”

“Oh, thank God.”

“It’s not over yet, Professor. Not while that sandstorm is still out there. What happened here?”

“I can answer that, Commander.” It was Doctor Morgan. She’d risen from her spot by the entrance. “Sorry, Professor. I didn’t mean to doze off.”

“You’re the only one of us well enough to stand watch. Doctor Morgan can help you, Commander. I’m…rather tired.” The Professor dropped into sleep.

Thad turned to Doctor Morgan, helmet held under his arm. “My tactician will guard the door. I’m listening.”

“Well, Commander, things were going very well. We were discovering new artifacts almost daily. This was going to make all of our careers. Definitive, undisputable proof that humanity was never alone in the universe. Then we broke through a door, and those things came out. No one outside made it inside in time. There were dozens in the first wave, hundreds in the second. I think we’re all that’s left. This was a Class Three Dig, Commander. There were hundreds of people here a week ago. Double docs, like me, single docs, grad students, and the children of all three. All gone, but us four. And Ewan’s dead now.”

Thad could’ve kicked himself. That wasn’t a bunch of bloody rags on the floor, that was Ewan Young. That said…field medicine would have been grossly inadequate to his injuries. The Silver Retriever’s infirmary would have beengrossly inadequate for his needs. “There’s nothing I can do about that.”

“I know. He was protecting my Drew.” Doctor Morgan pointed to the lump cuddled into the Professor’s side. “When can we leave?”

“When the sandstorm outside passes, I’ll contact my ship and have them come down, if a frigate hadn’t already arrived.”

“So we’re still stuck.”

“For the moment.”

“Commander?” Chamille’s voice was untouched by speaker distortion, so she must have removed her helmet.

Thad turned to see her come back into the room, helmet under one arm. “What is it, Spacewoman?”

“We’re not alone. I haven’t gotten a clear view of them, but they’re displaying a hunting pack mentality. The storm is having little to no effect on their mobility. I’m not sure, but I think they saw me.”

Thad knew exactly what to do. “Doctor, carry your child. I’ll carry the Professor. Chamille, can you hold them here for a moment?”

The woman nodded without hesitation. “You won’t see a single one, Commander.”

They executed Thad’s plan, with most of them retreating further into the ruin and Chamille remaining to greet the entering creatures. She put her helmet back on and waited. It didn’t take long. She couldn’t see what they looked like in the gloom, but she shot them anyway.

Thad and Doctor Morgan heard the gunfire. Then they heard it stop. Morgan put Drew down and made the kid start moving away. Then Thad handed off the professor, put his helmet back on and took aim as the doctor started walking away. But what came out of the gloom was Chamille. Her suit has several jagged claw marks in the armor, but otherwise she was fine. Her rifle was slung over her shoulder, bent nearly ninety degrees. She had a kukri in one hand and a combat knife in the other, both covered in an unknown liquid. “Those blades aren’t regulation, Spacewoman.” Thad said with a smile.

Chamille returned his smile. “Kept us all alive, didn’t they?”

“Is it finished?”

“Not in the slightest. I took maybe a third of them down. They just weren’t expecting…well, me.”

Thad nodded. Chamille was the finest close quarters fighter in the Patrol, whether unarmed or not. He opened his mouth to speak, but then both of their helmet speakers crackled into life at once.

It was Hailey. “Commander, can you hear me?”

Thad smiled again. “We read you, Lieutenant. Did the sandstorm cut off comms as I expected?”

“Actually, no. It was that and the building you’re in. We couldn’t broadcast through both from orbit until I made a few…modifications to one of the laser cannons. We’ve got you now. It’s not certain, but it looks like the sandstorm’s easing. It’ll be safe enough to attempt a landing in a few minutes. We’re already in position a thousand feet about it.”

“Drop a Hell Firestorm missile on the street on your way. There are an unknown number of hostiles and nothing to catch fire out there but them.”

“Glad to do it, boss. Signing off.”

Thad paced the hall, the beginnings of a plan in his head. “Chamille, hold that room. I’ll cover you as best I can. Doctor Morgan! We’ll be leaving shortly! Stay back there until one of us gives the all clear, then we all run outside as fast as we can!”

“Understood, Commander!” came the shout from down the hall.

Thad gave Chamille a look. “Let’s get this done. Away Team to Retriever.

Hailey came back quickly. “Retriever here.”

“Signal us after the missile’s fire dies down, we’ll come at a run. Tell Pullman to be ready to lift immediately.”

“Aye, sir. We’ve got it covered.”

The plan went off without a hitch. Chamille took on the clawed creatures with her blades, and Thad did the same with his rifle. The creatures fell back, right into the missile’s fire. When the flames had died down, Hailey gave the signal, and Chamille ran out. She was quickly followed by Thad (carrying the professor fireman style) and Doctor Morgan (carrying her child). They climbed the outside ladder into the Retriever while Chamille went to the shuttlepod and got it docked with the ship. The ship lifted off as more of the clawed creatures swarmed from every direction. After a short detour to offload the three survivors to a frigate, the Silver Retriever and her crew continued on their mission to serve and protect the citizens of the Outer Frontier…at least for the next two days. Then they went back to Shepard Station for the two days of R&R out of every seven that every smallship and its crew is mandated to receive.
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Eternal Phoenix
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Join date : 2011-08-30
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Posts : 165
Age : 32
Location : Strolling the Galactic Wasteland...


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Notepad Re: FOG Writing Contest 6/13/12 *WINNER*

Post by Guest on Thu Jul 12, 2012 7:08 pm

Aw, I was enjoying that, Eternal Phoenix! lol, I want to know what happens next. I really like your entry. ^^

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Notepad Re: FOG Writing Contest 6/13/12 *WINNER*

Post by Guest on Thu Jul 12, 2012 8:46 pm

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