300 WORD CHALLENGE -- No. 4 -- VICTORY TO TERESA!!

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Ursa major

Bearly Believable
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#1
THE CHALLENGE:

To write a story in 300 words or less

Inspired by the image provided below, and in the genre of
Science Fiction, Fantasy, or other Speculative fiction

Only one entry per person

All stories Copyright 2012 by their respective authors, who grant the Chronicles Network the non-exclusive right to publish them here.​

This thread will be closed until January 10 -- as soon as the thread is unlocked, you may post your story​

Entries may be posted no later than January 31 2012
at 11:59 pm GMT

Voting will close February 15, 2011 at 11:59 pm GMT
(unless moderators choose to make an extension based on the number of stories)​

You do not have to enter a story to vote. In fact, we encourage all Chronicles members to read the stories and vote for their favorites.​

You may cast three votes

For a further explanation of the rules see here:
Rules for the Writing Challenges


THE MAGNIFICENT PRIZE:

Three months of Glory and Adulation!
Your story posted on the SFFChronicles home page and added to the
300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE Roll of Honour
A book of your choice, up to the price of £10 GBP, from The Book Depository







Image credit: NASA/Carla Cioffi​
.

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Jo Zebedee

Aliens vs Belfast.
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#2
Re: 300 WORD CHALLENGE -- No. 4 -- READ FIRST POST!!

THE SKY’S NO LIMIT


Cast

Jessica Calvert
Herbert, her father
Andre, astronaut


ACT ONE; inside a small study, lined with posters of space ships. A bookshelf contains science fiction books, and a small model of a shuttle. A man of about 35 sits, a girl of five on his knee, looking at a scrapbook.

Jessica: Do they really do a countdown, Daddy?

Herbert: Everytime, honey; that’s the most exciting bit. Knowing, in just a moment, you’re going to go to places no one’s seen before.

Jessica: No one?

Herbert: Nobody at all, honey. It’s like a magical journey; just you and the stars.

Jessica: I’d like to see the stars.

Herbert puts Jessica down, and brings his face level with hers.

Herbert: You can, honey; the world’s ready to let you.

ACT TWO; On the shuttle bay, the shuttle before them, snow on the ground, two astronauts are waiting.

Andre: I thought you’d pull out; go to your dad’s funeral.

Jessica: No, I decided he’d rather I was here, doing what he dreamed I might.

Andre: What does your Mother think?

Jessica: That he’ll watch over us, which can’t be a bad thing; they’ve never launched in snow before.

Andre: She could be right; there’s nowhere closer to heaven than up there, in space. It’ll be good to know he’s watching for us.

They walk to the shuttle, cameras flashing as they do. They enter the shuttle. The doors close. The countdown starts.

ACT THREE; Onboard the International space station.

Jessica crawls into her sleeping pod. Carefully she sticks a picture of Herbert on the wall, then pulls out a small, battered model of a shuttle and places it beside her.

Jessica: I made it, daddy. Like you told me I could.

Silently, she wipes her eyes as the lights dim.
 

reiver33

Only Forward
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#3
Re: 300 WORD CHALLENGE -- No. 4 -- READ FIRST POST!!

Quintet For One

From the control station I watched two survivors approach, leaving tracks in the fresh snow. They gazed up at the climate generator, no doubt given hope by finding something, anything, that was still working. Soon enough they would realise there was nothing else for them here; no food, no shelter, no future. I had the storm shutters lowered just a fraction, lights off so as not to advertise my presence. I’d even mocked up an official looking sign for the main entrance; ’This facility is unmanned. In the event of an emergency contact Darwin Hub’.

And good luck to them – we’d heard nothing since everyone with an imbedded transceiver suddenly dropped dead. Only Stephens and I had been spared, our jobs too lowly to warrant neural networking. We didn’t know how to shut the climate generator down and just smashing stuff up seemed risky, given it was basically a big fusion reactor. So he’d taken the runabout and gone for help, but that had been weeks ago. Maybe the whole planet was snowed in by the winter we were creating.

I closed the shutters and turned away. I’m not a cruel man, but the remaining food had to last me indefinitely. Despite my notice someone started buzzing the entrance intercom, so I retreated to the Core, the facility management system. It was an armoured cocoon; warm, dark and where I felt safe. The Core didn’t usually acknowledge my presence, but this time was different.

“A century in space away from Earth, where one man stirs from the trauma of his birth.” It had a rich baritone voice.

“Hello?”

“I had to still their thoughts. I had to put an end to the inane chatter.”

I backed up against the sealed door. “Ah, Core?”

“But we can still be friends.”
 

AMB

Advanced Muddle Brain
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#4
Re: 300 WORD CHALLENGE -- No. 4 -- READ FIRST POST!!

Eleventh Hour Complications


Construction of the launchpad was finished ahead of schedule. The most skilled artisans in the realm had gathered to work on this project, and now it was nearly over.


The forges were finally winding down their efforts after months of constant activity; so much titan iron had passed through their fires it was a wonder the Rootle Mountains didn't collapse in on themselves from over mining. The technomancers, too, had worked their magic and produced the instruments necessary to guide the Star Horse to the heavens. Each individual sphere had finished their assigned tasks and were now on standby in case of emergency. All being well, they would be ready for the final stage in two days, despite the foul weather.


Endeavor Torrington Gale read the reports. He read them again to be sure. He showed them to his assistant, in case he had missed it. Astrid assured him he had not.


The Star Horse had no rider.


Braving the violent snowstorm, Endeavour made his way to the launch tower. He needed more information; could this oversight ruin everything?


He located Specs in the stable, tweaking the saddle controls. "Can we launch Star Horse without a rider?" he asked, doubtful he'd like the answer.


"We can launch her, sure. But without a rider she'll never find her way. If she doesn't make it home by the solstice... are you saying there isn't one?"


"Not according to the reports. Seems no one got round to finding a hero." The Star Horse nuzzled his neck, and he patted her distractedly.


"Huh," said Specs, "I think someone just found one. Fancy saving the world, Dev?"


Endeavour looked at him disbelievingly, then turned to face their equine companion. She nodded. His shoulders slumped in quick defeat.


He had just been suckered by a horse.
 

Abernovo

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#5
Re: 300 WORD CHALLENGE -- No. 4 -- READ FIRST POST!!

Thus You Shall Go To The Stars


The boss joined her on the observation deck. He was smiling.

'The habitats are beautiful, Tomi. You should be proud.'

'Thank you, Grandpa. The first shuttle from the cosmoport arrives in two hours. I just hope they like it.'

'They will.'

Tomi watched as he looked out over the environment she had created. Joseph Sato looked old. They both knew this project would be his last. But he intended it to be his legacy to humanity. He had made his fortune as a commercial space architect and he had invested nearly all of it in this ship.

It was not much to look at from the outside – a giant asteroid, only the massive engines at the rear marking it out as a spacecraft. True, there were a few windows and panels, but nothing noticeable from any distance. It was all hidden within the hollowed out interior.

The shuttle passengers boarded noisily. They fell silent when they saw their new home. Tomi smiled. The habitats had that effect upon everybody. For some of these citizens, though, it was the first time they had known such open spaces, abundant with grass and trees.

'The rich will never give up their comforts, Tomi,' her grandfather had told her. 'Who we want are people who are willing to risk everything they have. Smart, but not rich.'

And so it had happened. They recruited farmers and engineers, shopkeepers and scientists, but with a proviso. The colonists gave up everything, with the exception of a few personal items. The company would hold the property until the leaving date. Up until that point, the colonists could back out. After that, the generation ship Asha would be on its way, an ark travelling into the unknown, looking for a new home for the human race.
 

Starbeast

Benevolent Galaxy Being
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#6
Re: 300 WORD CHALLENGE -- No. 4 -- READ FIRST POST!!

Lethal Weapon 5


A large black truck smashes into a tower located in North Dakota, two detectives charge out and storm the complex. With guns blazing they take down assorted henchmen as they make their way to the master control room, once there they deactivate the system. Continuing further upward in the tower they meet Mason Stone, the man responsible for the weather machine dubbed HARP 4.

"Who are you?"​

"My name is Martin Riggs and he's Roger Murtaugh, we're here to clean the scum off the Earth. We've already arrested a bunch of bigwigs, including the president. The plans you sick boys had for a New World Order is trashed, and you're the final piece of filth that needs to be thrown out."​

Murtaugh stepped forward, "Y'all should be ashamed of yourselves, ruining this planet to start over again with selected people you've chosen. What makes you think you're better than anybody else? You think killing billions of people is right? Even if you did succeed, God would strike you all down and cast you into an abyss."​

"That's telling em' Roger."​

Stone spoke, "You both could be part of the chosen few." He extended his hand. "Join us."​

Riggs growled, "Stuff a sock in it."​

Murtaugh shook his head, "Just hand over all your guns. It's over Mr Stone."​

Mason signaled his men to shoot, Riggs and Murtaugh blasted in rapid fire killing the last of the loyal guards. A bullet ridden window blew cool air into the office, Stone became furious.

"You fools stopped the global warming device." Mason shoots Riggs.​

"STONE!" Murtaugh shoves Mason through a thirteenth floor window, then checks on his partner. "Riggs, you alright?"​

"...Yeah Roger...I think it's snowing outside. You know...you're never too old to save the world."​

"Hey, who're you calling old?"​
 

Hex

Write, monkey, write
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#7
Re: 300 WORD CHALLENGE -- No. 4 -- READ FIRST POST!!

Zhdi Menya (Wait for Me)


Jon turned to the shuttle; the light bleached his face, turning it alien and strange.

"She leaves tomorrow," he said.

Snow fell like confetti through the lights. I knew what came next.

"She needs me to wait for her."

"You're so predictable." The words hurt my throat.

He took my hand. "Please, Lena. Try to understand."

I pulled away from his cold fingers. "Sod you, Jon, and your pathetic superstition."

"It's not--"

"I'll not come running when everything's safely over and you get lonely again. You go now, you go forever."

When I was sure I wouldn't cry, I turned round. He was halfway down the street. He didn't look back.

He never does.

#

I watched it on TV: the yellow rain falling through the new world's gloom. The commentators' voices babbled triumphantly: vast mineral reserves -- life on earth sustainable for 100 years.

I didn't think about Jon alone in their apartment, waiting.

#

When the shuttle came down in a ball of flame, only she survived.

I cried and laughed and cried again. He'll believe forever now that he saved her, that his waiting and his sacrifice meant she came home despite everything.

Bloody idiot.

#

I knew she was back in training because the phone was ringing every hour. I sat in the dark and listened to him pleading:

'Please, Lena. I love you.'

'I can't live without you. I think about you all the time.'

Except when you're waiting for her.

#

He sent huge, ribboned bouquets of lilies and roses.

I threw them out.

He sent more.

I sat on the floor and pulled their petals off.

...I love him, I hate him, I love him.

Well. There's a surprise.


Still, I left it three weeks before I phoned him back.
 
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#8
Re: 300 WORD CHALLENGE -- No. 4 -- READ FIRST POST!!

View From On High

He watched them like ants, scurrying about, making preparations.

The snow was heavy, purposeful, silent; it coated the ground in massive chunks, just as it always had. This wasn’t the first time they had prepared their ship for liftoff in the snow. Honestly, he felt they were getting better and better at it with each attempt. Each soldier had their purpose. Some carried equipment, some made repairs, and others still tended to the wounded. One soldier in particular, he remembered him well, was always standing, gesturing, probably shouting, and all those around him moved with unerring proficiency.

Lights suddenly danced up the ship’s hull, filling it with purple light. He loved this part, the joy and excitement of a strange technology coming to life. Slowly the snow died down and the entire ground crew, one by one, disappeared into the ship, finishing up whatever tasks they had left to complete before finding their spot somewhere inside.

The last to enter was that one soldier. He looked skyward, perhaps right at him, perhaps not. Maybe he was just eyeing the air above.

Indeed, this was it for them. They were leaving this hunk of metal, leaving for the stars, probably for their home world, or some other uncharted destination.

“Not if I have a say in it,” he said.

“Benjamin!” came his mother’s voice through the holo-com, her face shimmering slightly before solidifying. “It’s dinner time, get down here now!”

“Yes mother,” Benjamin said. Then he picked up the globe, a smile forming on his face, and shook it. The tiny creatures inside fell about, their ship crashed onto its side, and the fallen snow exploded into the air once more.

Benjamin set the snow globe down, and made his way downstairs to the dinner table.
 
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#9
Re: 300 WORD CHALLENGE -- No. 4 -- READ FIRST POST!!

Wilf and Doris' Day Out

Snow fell all about them as Wilf and Doris Jackson take their daily jaunt to the park. Having grown up in North Scotland in the fifties they had disdain of anyone who found a mere foot of snow a barrier to normal life.


They sat on their bench. Doris screwed the lid off the tartan flask, and poured the steaming cocoa into mugs. She offered one to Wilf. Putting her head to the side she admired the structure in front of them. 'Were the showies here yesterday?'


He took a tentative sip. 'My memory isn't what it used to be love. Wonder what it is?'


'Looks like some kind of helter-skelter.' Doris sighed. 'Except it's lit up like a spaceship.'


'Looks fun though.' Wilf smiled and kissed the top of her head. 'Remember our first date?'


She giggled and tucked her arm through his. 'I do you took me to the showies and won me a teddy bear. He's still on the chair in our bedroom.'


They emptied the cups and put them in the bag with the flask. Wilf picked it up and they headed home for meat and two veg.



A bairn all wrapped up in an anorak with fur around the hood runs past them. 'Oh mister – where is the nearest supermarket?'


'Near the big gates, turn left and a few doors up, you'll find a Tescos.' He smiled as the kid offered a mock salute and continued to dash on. 'He's bold running in this weather.'


'Aye love. Hope he's alright. Poor thing looked very thin and a bit green.'
 
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Aun Doorback

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#10
Re: 300 WORD CHALLENGE -- No. 4 -- READ FIRST POST!!

La Maison Dieu


He was adorned in sombre attire. A grey overcoat reached to his knees. He strode past the boarding school that was the only landmark in Buck’s row, ignoring the faces of the poor and stopped at the first terrace house.

A black front door.

A young harlot skipped up to him, lifting her dirty shawl to reveal a glimpse of pale skin. He declined.

‘Girls who are eager to sell are not worth buying’.

She shrugged, baring her backside to him in retort.

He rapped at the door, which opened immediately.

She was pretty. Copper skinned. Gold ear rings.

‘Madame Gypsy?’

‘Mademoiselle Tarot,’ she replied. ‘Who are you? Scaramouch?’

‘A patron,' he smiled. ‘Here for a reading’

She ushered him in, leading him through a narrow passageway and up a flight of stairs into a room where a boy and an old man sat . She waved him to a table and chair and offered up her palm.

‘Man must put grain in the ground before he can harvest’

He placed coins in her hand. ‘Three guineas for three cards’

The old man closed his eyes and the boy moved to the table.

She produced a set of cards from a drawer ‘ The Marseilles Tarot,' she said. ‘ I am a Gaje

‘A witch,' the boy hushed.

She lay the first card. ‘The fool. You seek experiences’

‘I have history.’ His eyes twinkled.

The old man began to snore.

She lay the second card. ‘Wheel of fortune. It’s fate. Sudden change’

‘But whose?' He asked.

She stared at him.

She placed the third card down.

‘A burning tower!’ The boy gasped.

‘The house of God!’ She uttered. ‘Catastrophe! Ruin!’

He grinned, pulling the knife from his coat.

Mon Dieu! The Ripper!’ She cried.

‘Call me Jack,' he answered.
 
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Christopher Lee

Formerly BluePhoenix711
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#11
Re: 300 WORD CHALLENGE -- No. 4 -- READ FIRST POST!!

The Man with the Button

Cracking the sunflower seed open on his tongue, the bitter salt of the meat inside flowed briskly down through his throat. He stood, looking out the window. As he removed a Marlboro from his breast pocket, he pulled a lighter from the other and lit it. He took one long drag and opening his mouth, he released a cloud of smoke into the air.


He was wearing a long black trench coat and sunglasses, even though it was night time and a good three feet of snow covered the frozen earth outside. His marble black shoes were so clean they appeared brand new, until cigarette ash fell on his toe. His face remained hidden by the shadow cast down from the black, white brimmed hat he wore.

I wonder when they’re going to start the countdown; I’m freezing my nips off.


From the window of a small cottage, he could see the shuttle ready for takeoff. A fair distance away, but he could still see it. He could see people crowded all around to watch. He observed a young woman, holding hands with her two children. All three had tears drying on their cheeks, eyes red and moist.

Their father must be on that shuttle. Mmm, this sure isn’t my favorite part of the job.


His hand not holding the cigarette was holding a device. It was a device with a single button in the middle. He had been given specific orders to make a mess out of this launch, and he never failed a mission. He could hear the crowd following along with the countdown.

Three . . . two . . . one . . . Sorry mom.


He released his finger from the button on the device. In the distance, the fireworks began as the shuttle exploded.
 

HareBrain

Bunny of Wonder
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#12
Re: 300 WORD CHALLENGE -- No. 4 -- READ FIRST POST!!

The New Adventures of Astrolord and Skeptia — ep3: ‘Space Needle of Doom’


I sh-shivered. ‘This costume’s too thin.’

‘Quiet, Skeptia,’ said Astrolord, alias Prognostic Pete of the syndicated local newspaper column, alias Uncle Ray. OK for him: he had two layers of thermals under his robes. He only allowed me a catsuit under my lab coat, the fat perv.

‘Only one guard,’ he muttered, scanning the control blockhouse. I looked at the rocket illuminated beyond. No satellite launch, apparently, but a plan by megacorp Powzabee to prevent the New Age by shooting a hypodermic-shaped missile of zodiacal poison into Aquarius’s butt.

We crept across the moor, dodging the spectral crabs, virgins and scales that menaced us, which Astrolord said were leaking from the rocket, but which I suspected were hypothermic hallucinations. We positioned ourselves round opposite corners of the blockhouse’s front.

Astrolummox stepped out. ‘No trouble, friend,’ he assured the gun-toting guard. ‘I’ve prepared your birth-chart. Very special.’

‘Really?’ The guard approached him. ‘Mum always said I was.’

‘Some powerful aspects here.’ Astroloser offered the chart.

‘Ooh, like what?’

‘Like this conjunct between your head and my niece’s boot,’ Astrolame-o said, as I dropped the guard with a kick from behind.

In the blockhouse, the countdown read fifty, above an array of buttons with planetary symbols.

‘What’s the abort code?’ cried Astrolardass. ‘The order of planets around the zodiac at the time of launch? The reverse?’

He fumbled for his astrological tables. I hit the big red switch marked OFF, and the power hummed down.

‘Brilliant!’ He gave my cheek a horrid beardy kiss. ‘You’ve saved humanity from aeons of darkness!’

‘I’ve saved some rocket fuel from being wasted in a nonsensical plot.’

He laughed. ‘What a team!’

I rolled my eyes. ‘Can I change out of these stupid clothes now?’

‘After a pint, lass. After a pint.’


.
 
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Vertigo

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#13
Re: 300 WORD CHALLENGE -- No. 4 -- READ FIRST POST!!

Going Off Shift

“Jeez, I was beginning to think they’d never discover the quantum drive. You sure they’ve got it stable enough for us to hitch a ride?”

“Yeah no problem; they’ve done a surprisingly good job actually.”

“So, we just trudge through this snow and climb aboard their shiny new ship, the first with the new drive, and none of these over evolved apes are going to stop us?”

“What can they do? It’s an unmanned ship and until they develop shields like ours they’d be toast this close to the quantum field.”

“What if they abort the launch?”

“They’re too far into the countdown. Shut it down now and it’ll take out everything within a hundred mile radius… including themselves!”

Later:

“Seems you were right, thank God. I’m sure not sorry to see the back of that planet.”

“You and me both.”

“I still can’t believe how long it took them to come up with the quantum drive.”

“It’s really time the boffins came up with a portable drive we can take with us in the field.”

“I tell you, when we get back I’m going to have words with – what’re they calling it now – the Public Office for Planetary Environments? I mean we very nearly lost that one Mike; we should’ve been in much earlier.”

“C’mon Gabe, you know it wouldn’t’ve made any difference. They can’t see the damage till the damage is done. Any earlier and we’d’ve just been laughed at as madmen. It’s always a close thing and it always will be. Every time.”

“Well… maybe and the planet’s not stable yet; there’s still a lot more to be done. Any idea who’s going in next?”

“I heard Bal and Meph.”

“You’re kidding; those poor apes are in for it now!”

“Well they do get results.”

“True…”
 

stormcrow

Caaw blimey, Guv'nor!
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#14
Re: 300 WORD CHALLENGE -- No. 4 -- READ FIRST POST!!

The Glass Cathedral.

Construction was nearing completion. Beneath the latticework of ladders and gantries; amidst the platforms and cables, the artisans and glaziers, engineers and finishers, were almost dispensable.
Their labour, the great “Glass Cathedral of the Vanities”, reflected the flat, dull-striped disc of Jupiter: nearest neighbour; casting its insipid light across the bleak white-out of another Europan winter.

“Hand-blown glass!”, marvelled Lisa, “So the stories are true?”.

Older by two years; a manly thirteen, Tom considered his sisters’ words,

“Yes, kiddo; half a system from home, and just like the old man used to blow in his shop window, back in Brighton”.

“Brighton: where we came from”, as Mum and Dad would intone.

“Spaceflight: now there’s the scientific wonder”, Dad had said, “Not some folly at the back-end of civilisation!”

“Oh, you’re right, of course; still, I hear it’s going to be the Ninth Wonder”, Mum replied disarmingly.

Both were right.

Mick Jewins – or Dad, had worked as an aeronautical engineer before moving his considerable talents to the emergent field of Intra-System Spaceflight, or ISS. ISS was the key to human expansionism within Earths’ own solar system.
Industrialisation followed in its’ lucrative wake, then corporate growth and personal acquisition ; then piracy and off-world despotism.

And now, the Archbishop of the Central Planets had decreed this vast ecclesiastical peccadillo be built; a forlorn stake in the ground for humanity at the limits of purpose.

Theirs is a simple story: the Jewins family, a couple and their children a long way from home. It’s always cold, but the children can see the wonder in where they are.

On the distant blue planet their parents called ‘home’, an old man slowly rises from his chair, glass animals line the window in front of his bench; children’s faces still press against the pane.
 

TacticalLoco

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Jan 6, 2011
Messages
342
#15
Re: 300 WORD CHALLENGE -- No. 4 -- READ FIRST POST!!

Rocket Children

From the start the rocket was built for escape, a chance for us to leave the endless snow of nuclear winter behind. A hundred technicians got away from the numbing cold by building it. A dozen scientists regained freedom by choosing its destination. On launch day, a thousand more would lift their hopes along with it.

It helped everyone that the travelers were children. They would grow steadily as the rocket crawled swiftly to another planet. Children have always carried the hope of a better tomorrow on their innocent beings. These two more than any others, could determine our future.


On board there was education about their destination, information to help them farm, hunt and build. It was the knowledge to secure survival on a new world. Teaching programs, physical workout stations, machinery to recycle and maintain all the basics of human existence. The more delicate human spirits would have to make do with biofeedback exercises, meditations, recorded history and each other.


Their ages were timed to reach maturity and their new home simultaneously, using all of their years in a pristine regeneration, replacing the choked and betrayed Earth. Special freezers carried supplement genetic material and fertility drugs to ensure a variety of offspring, enough to form the basis of a reborn society.


On launch day the snow was falling with a new inevitability. Even so, anyone who could conceivably overcome the bitter cold had gathered together to urge the rocket children on. Their own parents tucked them into the 'G' resistant cradles and tearfully bid them fly.


When the engines lit the heat of a scorching July afternoon struck the ground once more. The spaceship named Phoenix Egg rose with promise into the sky and the sun shone brightly upon the Earth for the last time.
 

alchemist

Be pure. Be vigilant. Beware.
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#16
Re: 300 WORD CHALLENGE -- No. 4 -- READ FIRST POST!!

The Way To A Bal's Heart

"What is this...thing, Wilson?"

The butler held the cloche to his chest, as if for protection. "A blue whale, sir. A delicacy from the colonies."

"And these vegetables?"

"The traders call them humans."

"Hmph. Bloody nouvelle cuisine. It will signal the death of the Empire, mark my words. Fine then, Wilson; carve the blasted fish."

"Mammal, dear," Penelope said from the other end of the table.

"A mammal? What in the name of Balgod is a mammal?"

"They suckle their young, Papa," Emma answered.

"Pardon?"

"Your whale, sir." Wilson laid the plate in front of Hector's middle orifice.

"Papa, I must tell you something."

He turned an enquiring eyestalk towards Emma. "Yes?"

"It's Jeremy and I. We plan to be married by the equinox."

He spat out a vegetable. "You’re what? What does the layabout do?"

"He's a junior partner in the East Galaxy Company. He's moving upwards. Two years of trading exotic foodstuffs and he will be able to buy an orbital habitat."

"I see." Hector cut into his whale. "And of course you'll be travelling with him? You will not like it on an EGC clipper, I can tell you; there is no space for your pony. It's madness and I forbid it."

"Oh, Hector," Penelope pleaded. "The girl is in love."

"Love is of no use when you have thirty mouths to feed. In fact—"A look of pure pleasure rippled across his features. "I say, this whale is magnificent. Exotic foodstuffs you say, my dear?"

Emma nodded. "Send this Jeremy down to my office in the morning. Perhaps he can lease one of my ships; a large one, fit for a daughter and son-in-law."

"Oh, Papa." Emma wrapped her tentacles around her father and gave Wilson a sly wink.

The butler smiled.
 
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mosaix

Shropshire, U.K.
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#17
Re: 300 WORD CHALLENGE -- No. 4 -- READ FIRST POST!!

An Extract From The Journal of Fernando Morales


Mars Polar Base. Mission Day 2. Establishment team left yesterday. Doyle and I spent the day deploying science packs around the floodlit compound, settling in and organising ourselves in anticipation of a long, dark winter. Accommodation is warm and comfortable. Labs well equipped.

Day 3. I’m fully unpacked now but can’t find my medication. It’ll turn up. A day late won’t do any harm. Not mentioned it to Doyle yet. Heavy, continuous snowfall. Monitored the meteorological package. It’s 80 below out there and getting colder by the hour. Messages from home.


Day 4. Still can’t find my medication. Not sure I need it anymore anyway, my mind feels clearer than it has for some time. Other things missing too, wonder if Doyle took them? Must keep a closer watch on my stuff. Time to take the seismographic readings.


Day 6. Food tasted strange today. Doyle said his was fine, but can I trust him? Prepare my own from now on. Continuous, howling blizzard.


Day 9. Overheard Doyle talking to Base. Did I hear my name mentioned?


Day 10. Keep calm. Lost contact with Base. Deliberate damage to the uplink antenna visible through view port. Must be something out there. Doyle disagrees, but I’m not going out again. Oddly, my spacesuit is not where I left it. Doyle strongly denies moving it. Someone must have.


Day 11. Doyle quiet.


Day 13. Woke to see something out there, fiddling with the antenna. God knows what it is. Can’t find Doyle. Trying not to panic. I’ve immobilised the airlocks and sealed the view ports in case it tries to get in. Turned the floodlights off as well. There’s some banging on the walls now so I’m playing music to drown it out.


Day 14. Silence. Where’s Doyle when you need him most?
 

chrispenycate

resident pedantissimo
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#18
Re: 300 WORD CHALLENGE -- No. 4 -- READ FIRST POST!!

A beacon, a monument.

Since the Pharos of Alexandria, and probably long before, fires have indicated peril. This fire is atomic, and the rocks move faster than most, but any mariner would recognise -"Stay away. Danger."

We had known there would be, obviously – but while the inner system was rich in heavier elements, the lighter CHON, essential for life, had fallen into impenetrable gravity wells, or been pushed towards the system's frozen frontiers.

Not that we came for idealism. Maximum life extension, unlimited breeding rights; a worthy salary, or bribe.

The moon had an atmosphere; frigidly unbreathable, but shield against the giant planet's particle flux, and some gravity. With fusion melting we could make it home.

Decades saw our station pull out of Earth orbit, where it had been constructed of asteroidal materials, and drift out from the sun. More years while it was captured by planet, then moon, before dropping its miniature orbital tower to the ice and methane snow, to lower the elements to build an accelerator on the surface.

Then, the good period. Two Saturn years before the breakdowns started. Children and grandchildren when we noticed we were using spares progressively faster, faster than they could be replaced from Earth.

A ubiquitous long-chain carbon halide molecule that could only form in these temperatures was decaying, releasing the fluorine that rotted metals, glass and most plastics, and sterilised life.

Perhaps the station, with only secondary contamination, could return. It was too late to save anything we had built.

We evacuated children to the station until the elevator, killing passengers and would-be rescuers, then sent others by accelerator, even after the station had loosed its tether and started limping home – something it may yet achieve.

Finally, we constructed this signal, dying in our decaying thermal suits.

"Keep away. This killed us."
 

Perpetual Man

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#19
Re: 300 WORD CHALLENGE -- No. 4 -- READ FIRST POST!!

Noé's Hope

Oblivion hung over his world in a shroud of snow and ice.

Beyond the re-enforced window the heavy flakes drifted as they fell, tiny particles of frozen moisture, sharp enough to slice, cold enough to burn. They all but obscured the launch pad; the solitary rocket that stood there.

A last chance called ‘Tikvah.’

They had brought it on themselves. How often had they ignored the words ‘global warming?’

Now they would reap what they have sown.

By the time they had realised just how real the threat was it was too late. The world was in terminal decline.

For all of their technical creativity and ingenuity, all they had ever done was found new ways of accelerating the homicide of their world. When they should have been expanding into the Solar System, they were constructing more pollutant vomiting factories, tearing down forest and butchering the creatures that walked there, concreting over their habitats.

They were doomed.

It was too late to find a cure.

Too late to save anyone.

All he had managed was a slim chance: not the survival of individuals, but for the species; all the species, animal, plant and man.

A genetic core in a single missile. Launched into the void towards the nearest inhabitable world. It would explode on impact, throwing immeasurable genetic markers into the ecosystem. Over the course of millennia it would redirect the native evolutionary path: subtle biological manipulation.

Man would be born again and with him all flora and fauna.

By the time that happened though, the home world would be dead. Not even memories. Just dust and imagination.

With a sigh, he looked out at the two moons in the Martian sky and wondered if the native great lizards of the other world would forgive him.
 

hopewrites

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#20
Re: 300 WORD CHALLENGE -- No. 4 -- READ FIRST POST!!

Lepidopteran Knights

Six knights rode in; their mounts' wings a hum of death over the scattering fairies below. Cloaked in battle harness they arrayed themselves before Titania’s citadel. Already much of the fairy kingdom was burning. Smoke and ash, suffocatingly thick, obscured the night sky.

“This will put an end to her pretensions.” Commander Daphnis Nerii smirked as he cast another fire-bolt at the Queen’s tower.

As the delicate structure caught Titania emerged enraged; her golden wings beating a tempest at the advancing men and women bent on her destruction.

Graphium Weiskei advanced with the Elfin banner flowing out behind him.

“Surrender and your people will be spared.” His sonorous voice echoed above the panicked screams below.

“She will never surrender.” Cethosia Cyane murmured just behind him, gathering lightning between her fingers, ready to rekindle the smoldering tower.

“Fools!” Titania screeched, eyes burning with hate. “These people will never bow to your rule, and the humans will drive you like thralls before them.”

Theysania Agrippina unleashed a torrent of hail just as Cethosia unleashed her lightening, both women’s spells causing the living structure to shudder and cry out in pain.

“It is your mistreatment of the humans that drives them to such hate, and forces us to depose you,” Chysiridia Rhipheus shrieked back. “Will you see your people slaughtered rather than see reason?”

Deep in the night a panther hissed in response to his mistress’s distress. Chysiridia was against the genocide her commander had proposed should Titania prove intractable.

Dieathria Phlogea began a mesmerizing chant forcing those within hearing to enter the burning tower.

“This is your last chance to save your people Titania...” Daphnis called out mockingly.

“Never!”

“Then burn along with them.”

By morning only singed trees and pawed earth remained.
 
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