300 WORD CHALLENGE -- number 2 -- VICTORY TO TJ!!

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Well-Known Member
Aug 22, 2010
East Coast, USA

The Lady, The Tower and The Light

Arielle's withered hands clasped those of two children in her care. With measured steps they picked their way through the town of Spire's Shadow.

"I remember when they built the Spire. It ascended from the heart of the greatest nation's most beloved city to pierce the heavens; A marvel of magic and technology. The Spire sheltered, nourished, doctored. It preserved our histrories and promised a future.

"Our Spire stood for sixty years. We barricaded ourselves within and thought no more of the outside world. As the years passed, we forgot there had been a time before the Spire. We worshipped it and it blessed us with Utopia.

"Then, tragedy struck. An unknown enemy rained destruction upon us. Fire from the skies assaulted the Spire's walls. We had forgotten war. We were helpless; our tower was leveled. Scores died." Arielle's voice quavered.

"So few of us escaped with our lives. Once we saw what was lost, many of us wished we had not." Tears streaked Arielle's face.

"Our mystery assailants fled into the night and left us to our rubble and ruins. Amid devastation we began again.

"We relearned the old ways: first to hunt and gather, then to farm and harvest. We built humble shacks. We did not just survive; We grew strong."

"Eventually,", Arielle dried her eyes as they approached the base of the Memorial, "we crafted this!".

A massive column of pristine white light, as wide across as three men laid head to heel, shot skyward. Carved into stones at its foot, pictographs told the story of the Spire, its people and how they began anew.

"We never discovered who attacked us. And this Memorial ensures we never forget." Arielle sighed. "Somestimes I muse: 'Perhaps it was God...'."


Well-Known Member
Jan 16, 2011


The hotel had been her idea, a second honeymoon, an attempt at reconciliation.

I had to admit it was well appointed, our room was near the top, on one of those famous sweeping overhangs. The view out, over the city was fantastic. Below, lights twinkled, tempting me down to the bars and seedy clubs which littered the streets.

I glanced back into the room, wondering if I could sneak off for an hour, maybe two, but that would have been against the spirit of the occasion.

Ruth was laid out on the bed, resting, and I stretched out beside her. After a moments hesitation I reached across, running a questioning hand over her shoulder, along her arm.

She tensed, pulling her arm away, then sat up reaching for her bag.

“So, hungry?” I tried to keep the irritation from my voice, it was after all, only one more rebuff in a long, long line.

“No, I'm still a bit tired from the flight.” She pulled the Book from her bag and nestled back onto the bed.

I couldn't help but sigh, that bloody Book was the root of our troubles. She never used to be such a prude, never used to be so damn spiritual, and she'd brought it, here!

Stunning light suddenly blazed in through the broad windows, illuminating the whole room. Blinking, my hand held up against the glare, I looked out, at the column of incandescence, lancing down from the swirling clouds, setting the whole city ablaze with a vivid luminance.

Then the trumpets began.

We found ourselves, racing through the hotel and onto the street, joined by a throng of mystified onlookers. I stopped to stare, aghast.

Some belatedly prayed.

Clutching her Book, Ruth walked on.

I guess we were destined to be apart.


Well-Known Member
Apr 22, 2010

Dream for a future

“Hah!” the old bearded man snorted. “What do you expect to find in Elbaran, little girl? It's been searched north to south, east to west, and in spirals towards the middle. Everything that could be found has been found.”

Sinnia shuffled her feet and mumbled: “I just want to see it for myself, really.”

The Gatewatcher twisted his beard between gnarled fingers. “I suppose there's no harm in that, girl, go on then,” he said in a softer voice. “Just mind your step.”

* * *

All the holos in the world couldn't have prepared Sinnia for the view she faced. In the valley below, the ruins of Elbaran stretched out; dark, brooding, dusty. Old and decayed, but at the same time welcoming her. Was this how all the explorers and archaeologists had felt when they first saw the city?

She slowly made her way towards the city centre. In her mind, she added layer after layer of life to it. Here, a fountain; there, a lush park with parrots nesting in the trees. She could almost see the servants hurrying around, could almost hear the children's laughter. She was home.

* * *

It took her twenty years and enormous amounts of the Empire's resources, but she got her will as she always did. Elbaran, the mysterious ruined city from ages past, was her new capital. There were fountains, parks, and in her courtyard, a statue of the old Gatewatcher. To the people it was proof of their Empress's quirkiness; to her, a reminder that she was human.

But always, looming in the back of her mind, was the question: what was it that had ruined the city in the first place?


Feb 10, 2011

"Beam Me Down Willie"

In finely appointed attire a page does proudly stand. Adoring eyes feasting in the beauty of that a glorious Queen. Blinded to such splendor, her war room lays bare. Its riches, lavish appointments are nothing to one such as he. Truth told one could stand amidst garbage and muck; the Queen nothing, a hunch back hag and none would know, so powerful the Glamour her people do wield ‘gainst mortal kind.

She beckons; he scurries to pour amber wine into golden cups as she and her vassals a conference begins.

“How goes Operation Nuada?” Her voice golden, sweet, intoxicating; though he understand not the meaning of her words it drowns a lovers caress.

“Phase I is complete your Majesty. Oberon’s Crown is fully operational as are its Projector Arrays. We can begin emitting the amassed solar energy to the accumulators at Titania’s Garter this Beltane and then quarterly thereafter.” His very bones quake, the response from the Queens Unseelie consort unholy; the Ladies blood thirsty smile, longing unfulfilled.

“Forgive me Mother,” interrupted the petulant the Prince Heir whose glare causes Pages to cower, “When do we move on to Phase II and unleash the stored solar energy on the Stone of Fal? It has been over three millennia since we were driven Underhill and into this time dilation trap!” Anger palpable a shimmer and warp of aether. “How soon until we strike back like the Spear of Lagh and resume our rightful rule?”

“Soon my son, very soon. On Samhian we will strike.” A shining Queens response all are calmed. “Now my child any more questions?”

“Just one,” Prince whines little mollified, “did you have to name part of the plan after your human page and his little plays?”​


Well-Known Member
Nov 4, 2008
Working with the Bare Bones of talent

Losing it

They didn't understand they were being cruel. In fact, there’s no indication they understood what they had done.

I attended the High Council meetings from the moment it happened, until the moment of Revelation. After that, it seemed pointless. There was nothing we could do - everything had been tried, even nuclear weapons. We would not poison our solar system attempting to break free, unless there was certainty of success. The radiation from the attempts can still be seen, frozen in space. Some said it was a blessing that it was held there, and did not affect us.

The churches filled to overflowing, but the prayers of billions went unanswered. All the faiths blamed each other, and for a time religious wars threatened to erupt.

Perversely, it brought all the warring nations together; the illustrious laser project was completed inside a year, incredibly. There was understandable pride that the greatest minds of our world shared their knowledge freely, united by the common cause. The intense competition to supply the best materials, and fashion them, drove us to heights of endeavour that we’d only dreamed of before. I often wonder if we’d achieved this unity before, whether it might never have happened.

When the laser fired, the world watched with bated breath. And when it froze, our last hope died. It took a year for the deep-space probes to return. The Revelation was too awful to entrust to anyone but the world’s leaders and they agreed that all trace of it be destroyed.

Life still goes on, but the understanding of our place in the universe has changed. Trapped inside a child’s marble, our solar system must make a beautiful sight, with the brilliant laser slicing through it all.

The light stands as a beacon to our hopelessness.



Smeerp of Wonder
Staff member
Oct 13, 2008
West Sussex, UK

The Searchlight

In the dark of each moon, flapping sounded high above the city, air pushed by giant wings. Those with binoculars saw the stars cut out. Aircraft climbed, but their engines faltered before reaching the source.

They built a giant searchlight. On the night it was turned on, a distant cry joined the flapping. A feather drifted down: metallic black, five feet long. The quill smashed a shop window.

The searchlight found nothing. But the unearthly cry continued for hours. Scientists analysed it, but couldn’t identify it.

Next morning, a boy appeared: wild-haired, grubby, seeming lost. To everyone, he asked, ‘Where is the prophet?’

People queried what he meant, but he only asked his question, increasingly wide-eyed, frightened.

Police brought him to the Institute. Nurses washed him in antiseptic, despite his struggles. They put him to bed, crying.

Dr Marsten was assigned.

‘Where is the prophet?’ the boy wailed.

‘What does that mean?’ Marsten asked kindly. ‘A fortune-teller? A biblical character? A psychic?’

The boy wouldn’t eat. They restrained him and put him on a drip, but it didn’t nourish him. Marsten watched him dying. Other doctors were baffled. They took the boy the mysterious feather. He only shrieked his question.

Sleepless with worry, Marsten walked the city at night. The dark of the moon was gone, the wings and cry silent, the searchlight dead. Only one thing could help the boy, an answer, but Marsten didn’t know it. Prophets belonged to the age of superstition. The only answer Marsten had was, ‘In the past.’

When the boy died, Marsten’s impotence clawed him. Grief-mad, he fled the bright city for the wreck of the forest; and in mud and heartbreak, he found the boy’s answer.

He returned in rags, raving. The wings were not heard again.

Gary Compton

I miss you, wor kid.
Jul 8, 2007

The Zeborian Matrix...

I’ve spent one hundred Earth years here since the Shuttle accident sent us flying through time and space. Our brave mission was a smokescreen for testing a device found at Roswell.

NASA believed the machine would create a wormhole in space. Exotic matter would hold open the vortex long enough for our probe to pass through it at galaxy spanning speeds.

The two Alien survivors helped us understand the system. It was their only way of getting home - if it worked.

They died before we could test it.

We crash landed on this planet after the shuttle exploded. The exotic matter released, activated the device which threw the crew capsule across many galaxies in a nanosecond. Thankfully the machine inhabitants here befriended us. Bio suits were manufactured so we could survive their atmosphere. A chip implant allowed us to communicate telepathically. DNA modifications made our bodies accept the protective skin and extended our lifespan immeasurably.

Would science be able to reverse our assimilation into the suits – I don’t know.

But like the aliens we have to try to find out. Once the machines realised we wanted to go home, they broke the code for us and repaired the device. A launch pad was prepared and we are seconds away from going into the unknown. A burst of blue light warped us into the wormhole.

‘Telemetry is good,’ Thims told us telepathically.

‘We’re travelling at one hundred thousand times the speed of light,’ Kinser confirmed.

Suddenly a malfunction alarm sounded. ‘Commander Beesco, I’m losing altitude – brace for impact.’ Kazionu warned.

We hit the ground hard and our systems flickered intermittently as we came to a halt. Five of my crew lay dead around me. ‘What’s our location,’ I asked Thims

‘My God its Roswell 1947…’


Write, monkey, write
Mar 3, 2011

A Picture of Domestic Bliss

"Daddy wants you to know he still loves you very much," mum said, without a hint of irony. I shrugged. What the hell can you say to that?

Later, I forced his office door, took the picture. I wanted something of his for when he was gone. It looked pretty on my wall: the splitting egg, light firing upwards into green space. I lay in bed and admired it -- wishing I was there -- not here ignoring the crying downstairs.

So I wasn't sure at first that I was really seeing it -- the leg, I mean -- when it seeped out of the picture's blue buildings and stood on my floor. You wouldn't be, would you?

Hail, young one.

I fell off the bed. "Wh-what are you?"

The thing - it was more than a leg, really, but not much more - dipped in the middle.

I am Xarchios, from the Centre of Things.

It waited politely, but I was way beyond speech.

I have come for Ambassador Lawrence. I will take him through the portal now. It is the last remaining, and time is short. Is he here?

I'd have fallen off the bed again - but, you know, already on the floor. But sheesh. Dad an ambassador?

"He's downstairs." I waved a shaking hand at the door and Xarchios hopped out onto the landing.

And left me alone with the portal-picture. The portal dad was going to use to leave us.

It burned really well, like it had been soaked in petrol - FOOM!

When they dashed into the room, I was sweeping the ashes out the window.

The portal!

"Janey! What have you done?!"

Well, what the hell can you say to that?

"I want you to know, Daddy, I still love you very much."


...Prepare Thyself
Mar 16, 2008

The Big Blue Screen

The meeting came to order. The usual suspects were present. They had all done this many times. All that remained were the formalities and then they could kick start the system.

Each of them could observe the alarm, streaming out its message. There had been no response.

The Chair addressed the assembly.

“So we are agreed,” She said, “This alarm has served its purpose. There have been no counter indications and we can safely assume we can proceed. I propose that we do so immediately in order that we can move to the next phase. Are there any dissenters?”

There were none. The delegates, if anything, looked tired and weary. How many more times would they have to attend these ceremonies? There had never been a so called, ‘counter indication’. What was the point of all this rigmarole? Why couldn't they just get on with it? There were better things they could be doing; pleasures they could be pursuing. Some yawned, some stared blankly. Even the main players appeared jaded and they, at least, had a role to play.

“Very well, I will ask the four section heads to confirm our decision by formally taking the vote.

The voting system was unusual; it required each section head to say their section name. The system was fail-safe. Only if all four names were uttered in a certain order, would the system boot.

Even then, The Chair had the final word. She had the final interlock.

Each stood and spoke their keyword.





The chair stood.

She hesitated a little.


The singularity exploded.

There was light.

J Riff

The Ants are my friends..
Apr 11, 2010
Sleeping in Lab

The Blue Beam of Andromeda pulsed steadfastly outward as it had for millenia.
The Blue Beam resembled light but had not its velocity. It ambled forth across the void.
It contained the essence of the Joranians, ever seeking further energy to connect to the Whorl web.
Already they had reached and penetrated four spatial Whorls.
This new Whorl would enlarge the web immensely.
The Blue Beam grew dimmer as it approached the spatial Whorl so as not to betray its presence. It penetrated gingerly, wary of any sudden energy transmissions. There were few to none of any sufficient strength, but wait - home in on that yellow star.
Here food be, enough to replenish the quest.
Delicious. The essence of life was here, a smooth blend of easily digestable roughage, starchy with occasional bursts of vitamin and mineral, odd spices, lovely metallic tangs, and just a tiny bit salty. No killing of lifeforms of course, the cursed Narphines may be watching.
Sufficient. The Beam moved on toward galactic central.
Earth spun helplessly while people went insane.
Everything was gone - everything. Every house, every car, every street and everyones’ clothes and hair, and towns and cities were just – gone.
Boats disappeared and people fell into the water. Buildings crumbled in slow motion and people scrambled like ants to survive. All cars and machines shut down then disappeared as did mountains and hills, as the Earth trembled like an egg in a teacup.
Few were killed. Animals and plants survived. The atmosphere was untouched.
Most everything else was gone.
The Earth resembled prehistoric times, before the great meteors and volcanos had visited and redesigned its face.
People reached for cellphones.
The animals saw their opening, and attacked.
It was over in seven days.


This world is not my home
Oct 11, 2006

The Dreams of a Fool

The thrum of the power jet was driving Jayclyn insane. She thumbed open the lock of her flat thinking “If this is living the dream, the dream is a nightmare. But it’s not going to defeat me!” Every moment she was at home the subsonics made her feel as though her teeth were set on edge. And as if that weren’t enough there was the slight but perceptible vibration that made her feel as though she was on the back side of a buzz.

She lived here because she couldn’t afford anywhere else. Jayclyn was not poorly paid. A cocktail waitress at a high end eatery in Capital City made good money. But when that waitress was working her way through pilot’s school, she could afford only the cheapest housing in the city. Unfortunately for Jayclyn, cheap housing was located very near the power jet which supplied energy to the orbital ship yards.

After twenty-one years dreaming of the stars, a sheep herder’s daughter was not going to be thwarted by a stupid power jet. Today she was going to do something about it. She pulled the Radio Activated Troll out of the toilet tank. It had taken her months to design and put together. The plan was simple. The RAT would crawl through the sanitary sewer. When it reached the pawn shop it would explode. The pawn shop would be leveled. The local water main would be breached flooding the A.I. who controlled the power jet. The damage would stop the accursed thrum for at least a year. Jayclyn should be a pilot before it resumed.

The RAT crawled down the stool. Ten minutes passed. BOOM! The thrum’s pitch changed and then the power jet went critical. Half the city and a sheep herder’s daughter disappeared.

Devil's Advocate

I lie. A lot. Honest!
Feb 9, 2010
Here and there. Mostly there.

A Memory of Light

Gripping his staff, Az reached the end of the path. He wiped his brow, and stepped on to the dais. The cracked rim and rubble strewn about belied the significance of where he stood.

Baldur’s Gate.

Az took a breath before slamming the staff down in the center of the Gate. His hair stood on end as he felt the old knowledge course through him. The towers were aglow. He saw a beam of light flow through the center of the City, lighting the sky. He saw a sky that was filled with wondrous creations, impossibly large carriages sailing through the air on some long lost magic. He saw much.

His heart heavy, Az witnessed the Steel Servants rain lightning down from above, as their Masters’ screaming commands deteriorated to just screaming. He saw death and devastation, the glorious City reduced to ruins, being laid to waste to match the corpses that littered its grounds.

Through the smoke and rubble, he saw a tall, imposing shape meander its way towards him. Baldur himself, fighting to escape the grip of madness that threatened to overtake him. Alternating between throwing bolts of power at the Masters and then the Servants who would do them harm, Baldur fought himself as much as those around him as he headed inexorably towards the platform.

Finally, Baldur stumbled onto the dais. Az could see through him, a metal ghost that stood inches away, towering over him. The great being seemed to hesitate as he took in the destruction around him.

Slowly, painfully, Baldur pressed a hand to his chest. His torso glowed faintly red and his hand answered in kind. Suddenly, an immense tower of light stretched up to the heavens, so bright that Az was blinded by the mere memory.

And then there was nothing.


High Druid
Sep 10, 2005
Alnwick, England


They were lovers…

They met at Seventeen, so young. From two different races but more than that, from separate classes within those races. It should never have worked between the pair, but it did.

They loved each other from the beginning, they hid it from those who would stop them and revelled in their secret affair. As the years passed they grew stronger and more complacent. People knew now but nobody said anything. He had risen high in his clan and she was almost untouchable.

For years they went on together, blissfully unaware of the past or the future, they were so engrossed in the now, so engrossed that they missed the signs. Cracks started to appear in their unity, it was shrugged off as one of those blips that every couple goes through. They had children which caused a stir but by then they were completely open and things settled quickly. For a while the children untied them and things were better.

When things fell apart it had gone beyond help. They couldn’t talk anymore, and then the truth showed its head. While they had been trying to fix things she had support from her friends and his. While out with his most trusted friend things went too far. An affair that started small and insignificant grew quickly but quietly.

Guilt took hold and she told him about his friend, he took off, into the night he fled. In a bad area and without the unity that protected them he was caught in a conflict almost immediately, they hated him more for the split than the unison.

He died that night in his craft, he died in silence, and the blaze was seen city-wide. At his funeral his friend was distraught. His children cried.

She cried.

They were lovers…


Thicker than water
Mar 14, 2007


She came to the bright hub of the City on an autumn evening, curving low over the outer dwellings that rose like chitinous husks from the FirmaMat. Above, the stars blazed mightily behind the dancing azure swathe of the aurora, spilling forth a brilliant chorus of light. She paid them no heed, following invisible trails through the crisp air, racing her own reflection where it flashed and fragmented in a thousand windows.

Below her, Westparade arrowed towards the Core, radiating softly blue. Most nights people could be seen walking the thoroughfare, dark silhouettes against the pale glow, talking, watching buskers, ducking into virtual restaurants and zero-g discos. But that night the great avenue, like the arterial streets that ran beneath it, stood empty. It was as though the ponderous chains of gravity had been broken; now the skies had come alive.

The air above the great, silent City screamed with movement and colour. Metallic pods and domes flashed by in a rainbow river pouring towards the Core. She navigated into the throng, immersing herself in the jewel-bright storm, dancing, humming, thrumming with the others in a joyous hymn of freedom.

When they reached the broad circular walkway they banked as one, spilling air, elegantly spiralling down to land. At the centre of the plaza the Core erupted from the Well as a gargantuan pillar of light, deceptively quiescent. Only that morning they had seen its full power unleashed, seen the terrible raging cataclysm that had felled a world - but desperate hunger consumed fear, and so they had come.

There was a moment's pause as they landed on jointed legs and surveyed the carnage. The men strewn across women strewn across children, a hierarchy of futile self-sacrifice. A moment's pause only - and the beetles began their feast.


Chuckle Churner
Jul 18, 2007

Lost Humanity

Every morning, along with thousands of others I catch the photrain.

A tour guide herds her group of tourists onto my carriage, why would anyone want to spend their holiday travelling into central Rhyleh during rush hour?

“Ok, it’s very important that you stay close. Excuse me sir, are you with me?”

A man looks blankly at the tour guide with a mixture of bemusement and disregard upon his face.

“Are you with the tour?” She asks.

He turns his back. She takes it as a no.

“The photonic rail system was built in 3453, the original track runs on the surface above this one, it’s been kept for posterity purposes.

During 25 years of commuting I have been repeatedly subjected to the history of Rhyleh, to block it out I fully immerse myself in my book.

The immersion saved me.

Afterwards, whilst reviewing the moments before the crash, I see a smirk creep across the face of the foreign man. The guide pauses, a pause that shouldn’t exist. The emptiness unsettles the regulars, they look up and silently communicate with each other that ‘something is wrong’.

Then there is light.

Six photrains had been synchronised to arrive at the same time, you could see the aftermath of the collision from orbit.

Those immersed were the lucky ones; a digital copy of their conscious safely buffered into the city’s servers.

A terrorist group claimed responsibility. Apparently WE are losing OUR humanity! They take the innocent lives and accuse us of being inhuman. They say we live as electric sheep, but we have dreams, we love and are loved. I pity them. I survived, I have lost my body, but I am still conscious and I haven’t lost my humanity.
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Oct 13, 2009

No Fields Left

Earth in a shadow. Carbon and black. No fields to furrow, the soil it is cracked.
This I've called home, for all of my years. My pillow of tears. My prison of fears.
There is a plague here, be wary and warned. The dangers are vague here, but deaths never scorned.
That cancer of light, malignant and vile, pores out of the earth as though it were bile.
It came from within, the core of the world. Unfurled to our whim it was precious as pearl.
The people in power sought abundance of wealth, but not for the children, just for themselves.
They harnessed the power and tamed the white fury. Acting as judge they forsaken the jury.
I've seen that light, and it shimmers, true. But it's folly to fall for the shimmering blue.
I hear them cry out "Look at our worth!" While off to the left you can see the scorched earth.
Dark is that place where the common folk live. Off to one side of the great city's fib.

The citizens proper stare deep into fire. Bright and blue it consumes them.
They use its powers to build their world higher, but have lost what it means to be human.
We of the darkness have nothing but dust. Decay and entropy live.
Our ploughs and pitchforks have all turned to rust, while the privileged built up their hive.
They claimed that this was a "necessary evil". A claim that they must do us wrong.
While we teach our children to find worth in the people, and show them together we're strong.
So now is the time, for many have died, to take our plight to the city.
And when we return, and Babylon's burned, we'll sing how we showed them no pity.

The Judge

Truth. Order. Moderation.
Staff member
Nov 10, 2008
nearly the New Forest

Bringer of ...

“Push, my dear. For the One.”

“Yes, honoured midwife,” the girl says between gasped agony. “For the One.”

A dutiful response, spoken serenely. More dutiful, more serene, than I have ever encountered, and I have heard hundreds of such. Her parents smile: she has learned her lessons well. The recordings will show the One was born into duty and serenity.

And tonight He will be born. The prophecies cannot be wrong. Not again. Our Lord will come down to us. He will be one of us. Millennia of pain and oppression will end and we will rise under His glory.

The baby crowns. The midwife urges more effort. He is there. I move forward to take the child, to hold him and feel the light...

There is no light. Only another child.

“This is not the One,” I say. The wait continues. “I name this child...”

No one speaks. No one has prepared a name, so sure were they.

“... Corin,” I say. My father’s name. Much good will it do the child.

I leave them.

The night is bitter, baleful. As ever it is. No other child is registered to be born this year. I walk without caring where my feet take me.

A scream stops my reverie. I follow the noise. A girl, lying in the gutter. I kneel at her side.

“Push,” I urge, echoing the midwives I have heard so often.

“I... am... ****ing... pushing.”

I laugh. Never before have I heard an honest response.

The baby crowns. Another effort. He slips into my hands. I go to speak but...

Light... the light comes! Pulsing through me. A coruscating beam of hope and splendour, its radiance kindling the midnight sky.

“This is the One,” I sing. The long wait is over. “I name this child... Lucifer.”

Ursa major

Bearly Believable
Staff member
Aug 7, 2007

A Sixth Ring to Bind Them

“This is most irregular,” the Chairman said, displaying the imperturbability for which Earth’s global civil servants were famous. The colour had returned to his cheeks.

Farl grinned; she’d drawn Simply Blinks in the sweepstake. I’d had so much hope for Faints. But at least we could start the negotiations without calling for medical assistance.

“We understand your position, Mr Chairman. We are prepared to work with you to iron out any little difficulties.” I’ve always liked to use understatement. In meetings at home, it can drain much of the heat from a tense situation.

“Iron out? Little difficulties?”

So much for that theory. But misjudging the mood was to be expected. No-one at home would blame me. Not if I brought the prize home. That would excuse anything.

“Yes,” I said. “Once we put to one side the unique circumstances of our bid,” – a world away from what he was used to – “you will find us very willing to meet all your requirements.”

At first, the Chairman did not look particularly convinced, but then his face took on a strange look, as if he had withdrawn inside himself. Not to cope with our presence, I hoped.

“And we have so much to offer,” I added.

The gleam in his eyes made me want to cheer. I restrained myself; I didn’t want to frighten him. Instead, I listed all the so-called key factors that were meant to inform the IOC’s decision: guaranteed funding; reusability of facilities; multiculturalism.... I added the provision of Earth gravity, our purchase of Nauru (and its National Committee) and as many Instant Jump inspection tours as they wanted.

“I must admit, your plans look very impressive,” he said. “And Olympus Mons Park does have a certain ring to it. As for that spectacular Flame....”


Lost Boy
Staff member
Feb 4, 2005
Brisbane, Australia

The Last of My Kind

This is my city:

Glitterstim junkies haunt street corners, begging spare change for another hit – when they’re not slitting throats in dark alleys and taking what they want;

Hackers lurk in dim basements, skimming credits from corporations too bloated from their own thievery to notice;

Government bureaucrats luxuriate in penthouse apartments, celebrating their latest corruption with drugs, booze, and girls that charge by the half-hour.

This is my city – and it hates me?

My black hood goes unremarked, but my ironwood staff catches the attention of passers-by. Three blocks and the first slur is thrown my way. I’m cursed, spat at. A crone hisses at me, making a protective sign with her hand. A child sneers, making a lewd sign with hers.

I walk with purpose, ignoring even the worst of it. I’m used to this treatment; it is my world, these days. This here – this is my city.

Word has gone ahead and they are waiting in the plaza, armed with neural disrupters and pulse rifles. Inquisitors, they are called. An old word with renewed meaning. Men of science – and science ever feared the unknown.

‘Hold,’ their leader calls. His men lower the barrels of their weapons all of an inch. ‘Don’t make this difficult, conjurer.’

‘I am no petty conjurer, boy, to be cowed by your words.’ My voice echoes across the expanse. ‘My name is Belial, and I am the last of my kind.’

‘You are an illegal level-seven thaumaturge, and I am authorised to use whatever force necessary to bring you in.’

At that I smile. ‘Whatever force necessary?’ The runes on my staff glow with an ethereal white light. I whisper a word, and call the wrath of the old gods down upon them.

Upon us all.

Teresa Edgerton

Goblin Princess
Staff member
Nov 1, 2004

The aurora spread its beautiful, mocking colors across the sky.

Sarah’s little brother snuggled closer under her cloak. “Why can’t we go inside?”

“Hush, Gavin. You know why.”

Crouching there in the dubious shelter offered by the ruins, the cold bit deep, but what choice had they? The empty buildings were dangerous; sometimes it took but a step or a whisper to bring a tower crashing down, as many had learned to their cost. She cursed the madness of princes who brought them all to this.

Overhead, winged shapes circled endlessly, like birds, like angels. Nobody knew what they were, why they had come. A flash of blinding light slashed open the sky to the northwest. Sarah cringed. These bursts of light destroyed everything they touched, so completely not even ashes remained.

Another flash, this one closer. Gavin started crying. There was never any pattern, no way of knowing which way to run, but instinct always screamed to get out, get away. She obeyed the senseless compulsion, dragging him with her.

The sky lit in the east. People always said, at least it was quick — but Sarah wondered, would the agony be less all condensed into a single searing moment?

Finally, she collapsed. Gavin. Where was Gavin? When had she lost hold of his hand? Was it climbing over that last pile of masonry? She leapt to her feet, fear hammering in her brain. Why hadn’t he followed?

Oh gods. Oh gods. How could I lose him? There were so many dangers for a little boy alone. Feral dogs. Gangs that kidnapped children for purposes she dared not think about. Oh gods.

As she ran, illumination flared around her.

A sense of peace, of joy, of acceptance flooded through her. And she was lifted ... lifted into the light.
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