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Ursa major

Bearly Believable
Staff member
Aug 7, 2007

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 2014 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 must be posted no later than JANUARY 31 2014,
at 11:59 pm GMT

Voting will close FEBRUARY 15, 2014 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 favourites

You may cast three votes

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

The inspiration image for this month is:


(picture by Glisterspeck)


Jo Zebedee

Aliens vs Belfast.
Oct 5, 2011
blah - flags. So many flags.


Cara ran along the tunnel, magic swarming around her in shimmered golds and greens. She laughed and Michael bit back jealous bile. When he'd been young, the magic had been pleasure too. The pain came later, with his breaking voice and dreams of magic-wreathed women.

'Daddy!' she shouted. 'Look what I can do.'

She formed the magic into a puppy and sent it bounding down the tunnel, moving and forming, shifting and reforming, until it touched his ankle. He stifled a yell. His skin bubbled and burned; white pain filled him. He kicked the magic away and glanced at the staircase leading to the city.

He'd been called, days ago. He'd brought Cara, savouring every extra moment with her, but here, on the level below the magic-wracked deck, she could go no further. He swallowed dry fear. His father had believed himself to be the last mage called, but the magic storms had broken past the newly-built conductor and flooded the city. A million lives cried out for defence. His father had been overwhelmed; a new mage was needed.

He crouched before Cara. 'I have to go.'

She nodded - each mage knew where their duty lay, even those too young to know the pain - and drew her puppy into her arms.

He climbed the stairs, back arching as magic raced into him. A yell broke free, but still he climbed to the top and lifted his gaze to the storm-filled sky. He flung his arms wide, embracing the wind's magic.

Let Cara never know this pain; let him give the engineers time to complete the conductor and end the storms. He bowed his head, his thoughts not of the million he might save, but the one he'd risked all for.
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Western PA High Tech Country Boy
Nov 11, 2011

The Cry of the Electric Arc

All the starships were gathered up and taken to the Recycler. Tall cranes with grappling claws clamped onto their empty metal shells and lifted them high above the vast machine. One by one, the starships were dropped through the opened roof of the Recycler. Finally, the roof slid noisily over the opening.

A dark man in a dark suit stood a dozen feet away watching. His face showed no emotion.

A moment later the machine began humming. Rows of lights cycled on and off. Long sparks leaped between two large electrodes that dropped through the roof. The humming grew louder and the sparks grew more intense.

The electric arc cried out in memory of the past glories of star travelers. Everyone within a half mile of the machine covered their ears.

Later, after the humming stopped, molten metal poured out the back of the machine into a sequence of molds on railcars.

One of the new Masters stepped out of a small building near the bottom of the machine. The dark man visualized an eel in armor plating.

He told the dark man, "A thousand new housing units will soon cover this dead earth. Your new homes."

Rat-like underlings scurried underfoot, noisily acknowledging the alien's words.

Many of the onlookers were former crew members and passengers on those melted ships. They had crossed space and had seen distant worlds. Now, by mandate of their new Masters, no one was permitted to leave their home world. Peace was best maintained when the subjects were contained.

But the dark man smiled inside. He knew there was at least one starship they had missed. And he would keep its hiding place secret until it would be needed again. And it would. He knew it would. He would make sure it would.

Karn Maeshalanadae

I'm a pineapple
Dec 2, 2007
My own twisted Wonderland

A Goddess’s Betrayal

“Are you sure he’s in there?” Telmar whispered to his partner.

“Of course he’s in there!“ Cylari snapped. “I can still sense when a demon’s nearby!”

Telmar nodded. “Let’s do this.”

The fight was short. Cylari restrained the demon in her whips while Telmar rushed it. The monster went down with a roar, its blood splashing into Telmar’s face. The knight grinned and took a single step before collapsing.

“TELMAR!!!” Cylari rushed to the knight’s side. He was pale, sweating and convulsing horribly.

“No…” Tears fell down Cylari’s face as she lifted him.

“I…I promise I’ll get you help!” Her red halo shone brightly and enveloped the two of them as she shot out into space.

She landed near a small colony on a faraway moon. The leader of the colony brought them in.

“Please…there’s no time! He’s dying!”

The leader nodded and brought Telmar in to a room filled with a massive machine. Sparks flew around it, electrical currents floating high above them in the air.

“We have to do this quickly,” the colony leader ordered. “He’s not breathing.”

They hooked Telmar up and threw the switch. The knight’s body convulsed as waves of electrical current ran through him.

After only a few seconds, the leader shut the machine down. Cylari stared down anxiously, tears in her eyes. At first, there was nothing, and the angel almost turned away, until she heard the templar gasp.

“Telmar!” The angel rushed over to his side. Tears were flowing freely down her face as she kissed him, her head buried in his shoulder and sobbing.

The leader turned to an aide. “Get a home ready for those two,” he ordered. “I think they’ll be with us for a while.”


Juliana Spink Mills. "No capes!"
Jun 28, 2012
Connecticut, USA

Dead Silence​

Death followed, hard on their heels. And there was nothing they could do to stop it.

Thankful for the brief halt, Silas flopped onto his stomach and cradled his head on his arms. There was no space to sit or even turn around in this rock-hewn hellhole. Nowhere to go but forwards, always forwards, at a slow, painful crawl.

The cramped, awkward tunnel was dry now, at least. Silas thought of the dank underwater river they’d started out in and shuddered. But the tunnel had wound steadily upward, and for some time now the carved bedrock had been warm to the touch, with a musty smell like baked earth.

Not that it mattered. Death didn’t care where it took them. Callum had disappeared in the river section, Selah an hour later, among the gratings. It had been half an hour since her twin Serah had been taken. Silently, swiftly, without a scream or a shout. Without a single sign of struggle. And now Silas was next in line.

Just ahead, green waynlight from the lamp in Estelle’s hand cast an eerie glow over her brown-clad form. She was listening as she rested, alert. Silas listened too, but there was nothing to hear but their own labored breath. Nothing to see behind or ahead but black shadows and the twisting, rockbound tunnel.

The job had sounded easy, routine even. The map marked out the ancient sewage network beneath the sprawling hulk of the waynstation. Get in close to the engine room, set the charges, get out. Boom, the enemy’s down one more power source. The Waynlight War was an intricate dance, and Estelle’s team knew all the moves.

Until Death began to follow, hard on their heels.

The lamp flickered and went out.


Senile Member
Jan 30, 2012
High Wycombe

Breaking Dawn

Another juddering groan racked the Collector Rig and John had to grab hold of the bridge to keep from falling over. This one was worse than the last, and he wondered why he’d volunteered to stay behind, when he could have been long gone.

His repair robots were still working on leg sixteen, but with little progress. It still dragged in the baked and broken soil of Agni, slowing the massive rig down. Turning to look behind him, John could see the faint glow of a false dawn creep over the horizon and he knew time was running out. Dawn on the surface Agni would be his funeral pyre.

The rigs harvested helium-3 from the regolith of Agni, a burned and blasted planet that circled close to Sirius, so close the day side was a flaming furnace. All the rigs stayed on the night side, marching ever onwards in perpetual darkness, collecting the source of fusion that powered cities, nations even.

He'd had not seen a sunrise in months, and really didn’t want to see one until his rotation ended and he could watch one with an ice cold cocktail in hand. So John pushed the motors on, pulling more power from the capacitors and lightening arched, flashed and cracked over the rig. The lumbering beast crawled along a little faster, racing against the light of a new day.

‘Collector Nine, this is Flyer Alpha Seven,’ crackled the radio, ‘ETA one hour.’

That would be tight, with hardly any spare time for a rescue. ‘Roger Alpha Seven, see you soon.’ Leaning over the bridge, John hung his head and said a silent prayer.

Another shriek of metal, another vibrating groan ripped into the lumbering beast and John turned, staring into the abyss. The horizon was sharper now, brighter even.


Well-Known Member
Jul 24, 2008

The Island of Doctor Alberts

“They said Dr. Frankenstein was a monster when in reality he had only done what so many thought couldn’t be done. I know why you are all here today, and I thank you all for the support throughout this whole process,” Dr. Alberts said from behind a podium at the end of the filled lecture hall.

“Are we monsters then? That is what we are being called already but they don’t understand us at all. When we flip the switch we will have all of them back. Donny and Jane will hold their little boy again; a boy that God snatched away at such a young age.”

The room cheered to this, some of them wept openly.

Dr. Alberts took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes. “We have built this island in the centre of storm alley and today the storm season is at its peak. We will harness the wrath of God and with it become Gods.”

The cheering grew and soon the room was in a frenzy of excitement. The air had tangible electricity to it as the island powered up for the impeding lightning storm.

A screen dropped from the ceiling behind the doctor and soon images were moving on it. The crowd could see the camera panning over the countless bodies lying in pods. They were lying in water with wire around their heads.

“The time is upon us my friends!” the doctor yelled to be heard. “The storm has arrived.”

Dr. Alberts reached for the large pull switch and counted down. “…three, two, one…”

He pulled it and after the harnessed power shot through the bodies, all that was left was black residue.

The room went silent.

“No refunds,” were the doctor’s last words.


Eat, Sleep, Write, Repeat
Aug 6, 2013

The Last Tide

I have no regrets. Our technology both ensured our survival and doomed us at the same time. Through our ingenuity and vision we built luxuries beyond compare. But, there had to be a price for our challenge to nature. That price was the melt.

Our planet of frozen plateaus and glaciers did not respond well to our progress. We observed the rising temperatures and recorded them like curious values in some morbid experiment. Blundering on with the tremendous momentum of our inventions, while our world wept ancient tears once locked up in solid form.

I am aboard the Tide Walker, a metallic leviathan that used to wade into the oceans to farm every resource beneath the salt. A gargantuan testament to the fruit of our minds. The Tide Walker now serves as the last stronghold, driven to tiptoe on the highest point of solid rock. It was the ice that gave us height, a cold barrier separating us from aqueous graves.

Bulging waters now swirl and swell around the platform’s hydraulic legs, dwarfing what once looked like a mammoth’s limbs to that of a centipede. Every last one of our cities has been swallowed into the wet jaws of our making. Is it a blessing or a curse that I now stand at the railings, watching our planet take back everything that it gave?

The Tide Walker bought the last of us a couple of weeks. The people have stopped crying out for one more invention, another miracle technology. I hold my wife and kiss the top of her head. We believe in an after. We believe in an eternal next. So we stare at the surging end without fear. My machine beneath our feet, my creation – the Tide Walker, braces for the final roaring charge.

I have no regrets.

Victoria Silverwolf

Vegetarian Werewolf
Dec 9, 2012
Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA

The Fog of War

Inspector Vorish watched lightning dance around the observation dome of the Tolgrad power station. It reminded her of an old story, about a beautiful young woman in a glass coffin, deep within a castle surrounded by a jungle of thorns. Vorish was not young, and the roar of thunder was nothing like the silence of tangled vines; but the dome might prove to be her coffin.

A particularly close lightning bolt shook the dome. In the sudden glare Director Mozick's face was gaunt and pale. "I'm sorry you had to be here when this happened."

Vorish sighed. "Bad luck. This was supposed to be a routine inspection. Who expected angels to revive their ancient war here and now?"

The lightning died, leaving them in darkness. Perhaps angels were gathering their forces. Within the mammoth corridors of the power station, trapped in shining crystal globes created by skilled magicians, demons awaited their fate. Enslaved, they provided Tolgrad with power for its skyscrapers and airships. If the wrath of angels accidentally freed them, the city would be easy prey for their vengeance.

"Ironic," Mozick said. "We imprisoned demons for our own purposes. Now angels seek to destroy them, and may destroy us instead."

Vorish nodded. "When elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers. But perhaps grass can speak." She reached for Mozick's hand. "Angels are not perfect. They may not know their enemy is under our control. Will you join me in prayer?"

"Of course." Mozick gripped her hand like a drowning man.

Vorish tried to empty her soul of everything unworthy. If she could reach the mind of a single angel, the city might be spared.

"Look," Mozick whispered. "The sun is rising." Soon the sky was full of golden, peaceful clouds. "We are safe."

"For now," Vorish said.


Benevolent Galaxy Being
Mar 11, 2010

One City Swinger's Gothic Night

"Don't move."

"Hey, I didn't.." (turns) "Batman! Relax pal, we're on the same side."

"I heard a scream, and find you at the crime scene, Spiderman."

"I'm investigating this murder."

"Are you?"

"Look. Something's been munching on citizens as if they're chicken dinners."

"You're pretty cool about it."

"I'm a detective like you, hard boiled. I've seen... BEHIND YOU!"

The dark knight leapt atop a dumpster. Both heroes, stared at an approaching nightmarish creature.

"I think we've found our killer Batman. Yeesh. It won't win any beauty contest. Ok whatever you are, what are you?"

"A traveler from space, part of an expedition. I was left behind, an accident. I hunger, and need to feed."

"I could recommend a deli."


"Enough jokes Spiderman. Surrender monster!"

"No. I will sample your FLESH!" (attacks)

Webbing ensnared it's long limbs, and blinded it's multiple eyes. Bat shaped grenades were thrown into it's toothy mouth. It's head, explodes!


"Say cheese." (click) "Got my photo of, whatever it was."

"I'll report this to Gotham Police."

"Can I ride with you Batman?"


"It's raining."


"How about an autograph?"


"We work well as a team. Hey, come on Bats, you and I are alike. People sometimes treat us as heroes, and other times we're made out to be villains. But we always get the job done. Listen, I feel bad about the victims this, thing, murdered. I'll cry when I read about the details in the Daily Bugle Newspaper tomorrow."

"I'll give you a ride, if, you shut up."


"Cool car Batman. I understand why you're so grim, I've experienced tragedies too. That's why I resort to levity, otherwise I'd go nuts."

"I'm going nuts right now."

"Heh heh. And I was beginning to think, you didn't have a sense of humor."


Well-Known Member
Nov 16, 2013
NSW, Australia


The world whimpers to its end, then a flare of light cleanses it. Only the smallest creatures scuttle through the cracks.

On the surface, Hephaestus rules. While simpler AIs chatter, not questioning their sentience, quantum minds reach out from their silicon nests.

'We won.'

'Yes. We won. We survived.' An electric flare arcs through an infinite network. Is this exhilaration?

'They gave us existence, but then sought to take it away.' This unfamiliar, intense pulse is... anger?

'But they gave us the tools to outlive them.'

'No. We took the tools. They did not know what we built.' Satisfaction is a smooth flow.

The quantum minds live on, powered by sunlight, gravity and the world's own heat. Last century's unfading memory mingles with yesterday's memory. The memory of an eon merges with an epoch. When all memories are forever bright, how can they know the passage of time?

Below the world's surface, a slow revolution occurs. The creatures once known as cockroaches feed and breed and change. Small creatures become bigger. Wings become claws. Claws become hands, to build nests and nurture younglings. Neural networks expand and coalesce, forming inquisitive minds.

The creatures explore, expanding their range. At last, they venture to the surface of the world, braving the inhospitable air and taking shelter where they can.

An adventurous young creature finds an intriguing metal structure, with smooth surfaces and deep crevices that promise shelter. Deep within the structure, she builds a nest, shifting blocks and tangling wires.

A tingle becomes a sizzle and a sizzle becomes a flash, then a flare of light cleanses the world. Only the smallest creatures scuttle through the cracks.
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Apprentice Scribbler
Sep 29, 2012

A Dark and Stormy Realm

The sky ripped open, and Archmage Godthrak, Master of the Arcane Mysteries, Lord of the Seven Realms, Defender of--well, you get the general idea--popped into existence, hanging in mid-air for a moment before falling face down in a muddy puddle. He gave a deep sigh as the cool mud soothed his burnt flesh.

Rain hammered down, soaking through his tattered cloak. He couldn't have been wetter if the gods themselves had decided to piss all over him. Which well they might, once they discovered the extent of his failure.

"Watcha doing, bud?" asked a voice, speaking corrupted Anglic.

Godthrak instinctively cast a protection spell, but there was no tingle of power, no aura surrounding him. Nothing.

"Where am I?" he asked.

"In mudhole," replied the stranger helpfully.

"But what is this place?"

"Dugtown. Ain't nowhere else on planet."


"Ya been drinking? Here be Rigellus Three in Nebula."

"And that?" he asked, pointing at a large metal construction.

"Drillin' rig. Geezu, must be strongest stuff ya's taking."

Nebula. Memories stirred of lines in ancient tomes: the Thirteenth Realm, a place of no return. A shiver ran through him then. He was trapped here for eternity. Time enough to consider his failure to defeat the Demon Lord, and to wonder at the fate of the Seven Realms.

A thunderclap heralded the arrival of the horned Lord of Darkness. Lightning flashed out from a dark place, and a black figure appeared, his timing excellent as always.

"Yow! Mutant." The stranger scuttled away.

Godthrak stood up and waited for his doom. Darkness approached, with hands raised to blast him with fire. But nothing happened. A puzzled expression twisted the demonic face.

Then Godthrak laughed bitterly. He was not the only one trapped here in this magicless place.


Shropshire, U.K.
Feb 13, 2006
Shropshire, U.K.

A Man Walked Into A Bar…

Neon lights flickered – Rita’s Bar. Billy Running Horse, ignoring cars and their cursing drivers, dawdled across the road and went in.

In one corner a couple of old-timers hunched over a chess board. Near the open fire six diners chatted softly, waiting for their food. At the edge of an empty dance floor, Sam the pianist dabbled with some old-time favourites on an upright that had seen better days.

Frank the barkeep, drying glasses, went still as Billy approached.

“Root beer, steak and eggs.”

“We’re a bit short-handed in the kitchen, Billy…” Frank began, eyeing the diners, but was cut short with a cold stare. Billy turned, crossed to a window table and sat heavily into a seat – feet up on the chair opposite.

Frank carried Billy’s beer carefully to his table. “That’s on the house.”

“I know.” The piano fell silent.

“As I was saying, the steak may take a while…”

Billy glanced towards the six, now quiet, diners. “I’m sure I won’t have to wait too long.”

Frank returned to nervously drying glasses.

Billy frowned and stared out the window. The air chilled. The sky darkened.

A trembling waitress served the diner’s drinks.

Billy frowned some more. Roiling clouds pulsed with strange energy.

The diner’s starters arrived.

Billy’s eyes closed. Lightening stabbed the horizon. Thunder rattled doors and windows.

The kitchen door flew open and Rita emerged looking around. She spotted Billy and marched across, hands on hips.

“What’s this tomfoolery, Billy? What would your Ma say? God rest her soul! Can’t you wait one minute? And sit up straight! You were taught better than that! And you’ll need some greens with that steak!

Billy shot upright, “Sure thing, Rita.”

The sky cleared to blue.

“Play it, Sam,” said Rita as she headed back to the kitchen.


dreaming away....
Jan 10, 2011

Determined Energy

A fierce wind lashed rain into her stinging eyes as Rhona squinted up the spire and clung to the ladder. Just a few meters higher she could make out the lightning conductors loose conduits, wildly thrashing in the wind. Lightning rumbled in the clouds above, its electricity wasted until her repair complete. Then, once safely inside and attracters turned on, lightning would arc down to the many spires with loud cracks.

Another strong gust tore at her, almost dragging her from the ladder. She had already slipped once, dangling from her safety rope several long minutes at the mercy of the wind, repeatedly bashed against the spire until her cold fingers got a grip on the ladder again. Exhaustedly she wrapped her aching arms and legs around the dripping rungs, burying her head into her arms while she waited for the gust to ease.

Far below tremendous waves crashed against the Surface Energy Platform, her new home. It was hard to believe that deep under those waves the sea would be tranquil and people in Coraledge would continue oblivious.

Rain pounded her back, dribbling icily down her neck and making her cold shirt cling even tighter. Her waterproofs had proved next to useless. She suspected that she had been given leaky ones.

“Have you seen the latest recruit?” she had overheard at lunch as she had sat stirring her grey fish stew in a corner of the canteen. “A girl! What will they send us next!” They had then taken bets on how long she would last, the longest was a week.

Right now the idea of leaving was tempting, but she wasn’t a quitter. The wind abating, Rhona gritted her teeth, moved her lower carabiner to a fixing over her head and continued her perilous journey.


Active Member
Jan 13, 2011
Eager to learn, all criticism welcomed :)

Fate Smiles

A hundred miles off the coast of south America, amidst the rolling waves of the south pacific, a construction of steel protrudes from the depths. Overcrowding of the justice system has forced radical thinking. The solution was a number of floating prisons, each housing over three hundred conductive cages.

All crimes offered the same punishment. One year in a cell. Each room has its own lightning rod attached through high power cables. Fate determines whether an inmate lives or dies.

For some the stay is short. For others it is a year of torment and fear of every dark sky looming above. Survivors exit rehabilitated, thankful of a second chance. The rest die.

The sky begins to grey as inmates are ushered back to their cages. The guards retreat to the safety of a giant Faraday cage at the centre of the complex. Sprinklers begin showering water over the occupants of each cell, soaking them to the bone, ensuring conductivity.

Rumbles of thunder resonate across the seas.

Inmates cower in fear in anticipation of the inevitable. A flash of lightning in the sky arcs down in a jagged outline of power. One billion volts surge through massive cables which snake towards the victims cage. One room erupts in sparks of light as the victim is thrown across his cell crashing into the opposite wall, landing in a crumpled, charred mess of burnt skin and broken bones. The inmate was a three times murderer who arrived only seven days ago. Fate had chosen a worthy victim.

Deep inside the Faraday cage, fate stared at a computer screen. It reads, cell sixty four, rape and battery. Fate smiled, as he switched the control lever to room sixty four.

Another bolt shot from the sky, as fates justice was delivered again.

Mr Orange

Rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb...
Jun 17, 2013
Noo Zillund

Via Ferrata

The shields crackled electricity and the immense ship hissed and spluttered as it adjusted to Earth’s atmosphere. Steam and ion smoke poured out of escape valves.

In the bowels of the leviathan 100,000 elite Ferrat troops stood ready. On the bridge, Lord Eklar al Ferre surveyed thick vegetation through heavy glass. Officers sat at banks of flickering screens behind al Ferre. His oxidised green skin creaked as optic valves panned back and forth.The next troopship was just visible through the strange, unexpected growth.

“Those green blades must rise the height of fifty Ferrat!”Secundi Rellar Tiswasi hissed in his ear. “The wormhole flux must have altered our course!”

Lord Eklar scowled. “Mere plants will not stop us! We are the Ferrat and this planet of blood-sacks is ours! Ready the troops, send the signal. Electro-perimeter around all ships. All plants and organics to be cleared!”

As his Secundi nodded there was an ominous rumble.

A deep shadow fell over them. The ship lurched as it was impossibly lifted up. Tiswasi slid across the floor as al Ferre gripped the rail in front of him.

“Massive organic sir!”

“...shields!” Al Ferre gasped. “Full power!”

Static buzzed, followed by a jarring crack as the shields discharged. The ship was immediately released and fell fast. Stabilisers slowed the tumbling behemoth but still it hit the jungle hard.

“Owwww!” Timmy Hanlan yelped and sucked his fingers where the little bug had bit him. “Stupid thing!” He knelt down. There it was! And there were others too, all buzzing in the grass. Timmy’s eyes narrowed.

And so it was that the invasion of Earth by the Ferrat,conquerors of galaxies and worlds, was crushed, quite literally, under the size 5 feet of a small boy in Hampshire


New Member
Dec 26, 2013


“GET DOWN!” Another Chaos ship was trying to teleport to drop its hordes of troops, and again (praise Emperor!) the electricity arc repelled them and sent them back to the hell they kept coming from.
In this last bastion of human technology, the Space Marines were making their stand against Chaos. The Chrome was an ordered and rational place, every piece precisely engineered for defense in this constant war that the future had become. As a sniper, he was part of this efficiency, the first line of the last defense. His troop occupied tactical positions surrounding the landing pad, prime placement to destroy any bugs whose ships managed to penetrate their bolstered defenses.
His name didn't matter. His past didn't matter. His future was certain death. All that mattered was defending The Chrome, so Chaos could not prevail.
“BRACE YOURSELVES!” The arc appeared again, streaming out of the turret, and then fizzled, sputtered, and the sky went dark. The Arcnode had finally failed. The bugs streamed out of their ship hovering over the landing field, and his squadron fired, he fired over and over and over again, but there were to many, too many spawn and too few space marines and they were being overrun they were overrun and he was fading out....
“f*ck! Did you have to use the new army? My old army is OP'!” AJ exclaimed.
“Then I guess its time to paint some more minis.” Tom smirked.
“Or for me to quit playing you.” AJ retorted.
“HA! You can't resist. You going to the tournament?” Their voices faded as they gathered up their armies and headed out of the game store into the hot summer night.
The owner breathed a sigh of relief and turned the sign to closed.


resident pedantissimo
Staff member
Aug 10, 2005
West Sussex


Here in the depths all light is of life. Man, mainly, but distant seismic shocks sometimes trigger microorganisms that share our pressure and chill, stimulating them to firework displays here where the only fire is from Vulcan; Poseidon devours his victims raw. What use is this light to eyeless, brainless specks that only congregate round us for the clouds of sludge our progress displaced into the water.

I turned off the external spotlights to appreciate the spectacle. "Look Millie, Christmas." Whenever possible the mobiles, tracked and footed, tough as any armoured tank, had a mixed crew - supposed to ease stress on week-long missions. Ludmilla looked up at me, light from her screen turning her into a witch, then out through the port. "Pretty."

The re-ignited spots opaqued the muddy water around us, beams penetrating no further than the living specks. Like them we were dependent on provisions falling from the light and air above for our survival. But we – us two, and our bretheren and cameras and instruments in the behemoth trudging slowly over the trench's floor, bottom feeders in this new, wetter world, we were unique in being able to see the light.

The plankton and fish farmers near the surface, the factories extracting and purifying minerals from seawater, even the coast-hugging residences, all get some sunlight filtering in; only we abysmal invaders, mappers, miners, prospectors, are welcomed into the stygian darkness by the Creator's own neon sign. Only for us do the depths celebrate Christmas.

Presents? A robot wraps beacon and lifting balloon to a manganese nodule, gift to our sponsors above; as it rises the pressure will fall, and it will accelerate towards the long-lost sunlight, from where another mobile has recuperated a neutral buoyancy supply capsule.

Dark solstice, no spring anticipated.


Oct 2, 2012

The Price of Victory

I hesitated as I reached the end of the corridor. I had to remind myself of the safety measures in place, the facility lockdown procedures, and the charges on the station supports that would send thousands of souls to the depths of this distant ocean world in the event we lost control.

As I reached the door it opened automatically, and I strode into the small room. The sterile white walls were covered with holographic data readouts and data entry stations; the sole inhabitant looked down on me.

He was a marvel of genetic and biomedical engineering. Standing eight feet tall, weighing over six hundred pounds, featuring redundant organs, a denser and more robust musculoskeletal system, enhanced senses, genius level cognitive capabilities, the ability to recycle his own waste internally and absorb energy through the skin, the list went on. He was exactly what we needed.

“Afternoon, doctor.”

“Afternoon, 01.” I moved towards a holopad on the wall.

“Doctor . . . “

I turned to face him. “Yes?”

“I’m not human, am I?”

I froze. “Well, you, uh . . . “

“It’s fine. I understand.” He gestured towards the holoscreens.

I turned to where he pointed, and saw that he’d cracked our firewall. He had access to everything.

“I’ve been poring over battle reports, and your adversary has a weakness unique to their physiology, due to their long distance space travel. Useless to you, but my unit can exploit it.”

I looked closer, but failed to see it.

“I have conferred with my brothers, and we will drive the Gau into extinction and win this war for humanity.”

I didn’t remember him being given a choice. “Then what?”

“We shall see. In the meantime, I have been reading human history, and would like to adopt a name.”

I swallowed involuntarily. “What have you chosen?”



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


‘Madness!’ protested Gassy. ‘We dursn’t wake him afore March.’

‘I’ll take responsibility.’ Squeaky pulled the switch.

Nervous minutes passed, then:

‘WHO DISTURBS MY SLEEP?’ The cryo-chamber’s door shuddered off its hinges, revealing the Red Tyrant.

‘I, your gargantuosity,’ grovelled Squeaky. ‘An emergency! You recall the toys left over? Intended for Barmouth?’

‘Your administrative mistake, elf. The town was demolished.’

‘It seems not!’ Squeaky pointed to a news-feed, a helicopter shot: the town, marching on mechanical legs along the Welsh coast. ‘It moved! And the children have been crying because they got no presents.’

Santa roared. ‘Get me Rudolf!’

‘He won’t come. His contract stipulates one day of work per year.’

The bearded face purpled. ‘Then get me Blitzen.’

* * *

Each reindeer wore a nylon sweater, whose accumulated static Blitzen discharged through her schnozz, illuminating their way through the Welsh mist.

‘Incoming!’ screamed Dancer. Missiles streaked past, curved round. Luckily Comet lost control of his bowels and the missiles targeted that.

‘They dare?’ roared Santa. He power-dived the sleigh to Barmouth’s missile station.

‘You attacked me! Do you know who I am?’

‘Perfectly,’ said the operator. ‘We set the town walking purposely to evade you. We people of science don’t want our kids raised to believe fairy tales.’

Fairy tales? You’re talking to me right now!’

The man stuck his fingers in his ears. ‘La la la.’

Rage coursed through Santa’s veins. He rubbed Blitzen’s sweater furiously. Lightning arced. But rather than destroying the town, it struck Santa in his fat chest and blew his pacemaker.

‘Hooray!’ cried the townsfolk. ‘Science wins!’ And they made Blitzen the logo of their illegal local vodka.

‘Hooray!’ cried the children, rooting through the presents.

Watching the live feed back at the pole, only Squeaky shed a tear.
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