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Ursa major

Bearly Believable
Staff member
Aug 7, 2007

To write a story in 300 words or fewer
INSPIRED by the image provided below, in the genre of
Science Fiction, Fantasy, or other Speculative Fiction


Only one entry per person

All stories Copyright 2015 by their respective authors,
who grant the Chronicles Network the non-exclusive right to publish them here

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

Entries must be posted no later than OCTOBER 31 2015,
at 11:59 pm GMT

Voting will close NOVEMBER 15, 2015 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

NO links, commentary or extraneous material in the posts, please -- the stories must stand on their own


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

The inspiration image for this month is:

cropped mars_0.jpg

Image credit: NASA
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And so, armed only with my magic sword....
Oct 26, 2013
A rush of howling

“Where did they come from, Professor?”

“Nobody’s sure, Ace.
Many think Venus, that tempestuous planet, but whether that’s their land of origin, or just the last world they conquered is unclear. Maybe Mars was once the same, until they’d killed it. A poetic notion, don’t you think? The red planet, bled dry by storms? Jupiter’s red spot....
But enough! Our problem is here.
What do we know?
They wander about, apparently at random and ravage the earth...”

“Ravage is the word, Professor. The ground seems to be ripped apart.”

“Yes! Yes! But what’s left behind? That’s the question?”

“Lots of dead trees and animals mainly, Professor. No buildings, and they eat cars too, by the looks of it.”

“Right Ace. But not all of them. The tyres are left, and some other bits and pieces. That’s the thing! Analyse what’s left. And they like some places more than others?”

“OK, Professor. They don’t like rubber, but they like metal. And they like houses too, but not skyscapers. They’ve avoided city centres so far.”

“Excellent, Ace! We thought it was the people, but maybe it’s the materials.”

“They like fields too. But not all of them. And they follow power-lines for the electricity.”

“No! Muddy thinking, Ace. The power’s off. It must be the metal. What crops?”


“In the fields they avoid. Concentrate, Ace!”

“Hold on, Professor. That’s odd. It’s all in the east, especially Norfolk and East Anglia.
Maybe they just don’t like turnips, or beets. Good taste. I can’t stand turnips.”

“Wait! Yes, that’s it, Ace. It’s the sugar and concrete buildings.
They like metal, clay, bricks, but not sugar.
And that explains how they got here. Everyone was watching for flying saucers, but who looks for a storm in a teacup?”


I don't teach chickens how to dance.
Apr 15, 2010
Promises Kept

Jason struck down at the ore sample, grazing his thumb in the process.


“If mother heard that she’d be really mad.”

“We don’t tell your mother everything, right?”

“You mean like us coming out past the marker?”

The kid’s growing up way too fast.

“Yeah, like that.”

Jason looked to the clear blue sky as a flock of wild scaracen hawks flew by. They were moving fast, almost frantically, their high squawks urgent.

“What’s got them spooked, dad?”

“I don’t know, Jesse.”

When his skin began to tingle he knew.

“Leave the gear, we’ve got to go.”

“It’s not another ion storm is it?”

“We’re not sticking around to find out.”

By the time they reached the rover the wind had picked up and the smell of ozone filled the air.

Despite repeated efforts the rover refused to start.

“Dad?” There was fear in Jesse’s voice and with good reason.

The first lightning bolt lit the sky.

“We’ll be fine.”

He grabbed a shovel and began digging.

Thunder shook the ground, multiple flashes of lightning almost on them.

There’s just no more time.

Jason hugged his son.

“I love you son.”

“I love you dad.”


Clancy’s search party took two hours to find the upturned rover.

Jason lay in a small depression, the skin torn from his back, white bones and brain matter showing. A young guy threw up at the sight.

“Look around and see if you can find Jesse.” What’s left of him.

A soft whimper caught his attention. They rolled Jason aside. Jesse rose from the shallow hole and fell onto his father’s chest, weeping.

“It’s a miracle.”

“No, that’s love.”

Clancy could not imagine the agony Jason endured to protect his boy.

Miraculously, through the indescribable pain, a smile had settled onto his face.


Who are you people?
Apr 27, 2011
No escape from reality

Our group sits in silence, like a circle of stunned fish fallen from a cloud.

‘Thunderbolts and Lighting,’ says David. He leans forward, then settles back but not before Maisie to his left reflects his movement. A wave of this involuntary leaning moves from person to person until it reaches me, and I say, ‘Very, very frightening!’

Maisie giggles.

Then we panic. Our faces flush, bright against our white overalls, white walls, white floor. We should not have heard that music. Somehow the regime firewalls are down.

‘Scaramouche?’ asks Donna. No-one has an answer, so she types it in swiftly. We get an answer. There is a picture of a clown with a guitar. It is not a photograph. Someone has drawn it.

‘We can’t look at this. It is history.’ It is Simon, his voice low, shaking. Everyone knows what he is thinking. They will see us.

‘Type in Fandango,’ Maisie again, breathing hard. We learn it is a dance. She stands on her toes like the people in the colourful drawing, raises her arms, twirls around, giggles.

‘Who was Galileo?’ Simon hesitates, but then reads. ‘A heretic.’

We all are. We should be earning spend credits by forecasting weather for workers outside the sector.

Harold stands up, says ‘I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me.’

Maisie giggles again, but Donna replies, her voice as full of character as one of the paintings on the screen, ‘I love you Harold. I always have.’

‘We’re all going to burn,’ Simon says.

‘Put it on again,’ I say. ‘Play the music again.’

No-one moves. Then we all move. We jam the door, pile the chairs and tables against it. We turn up the volume, drowning the shouting outside. We dance. We are all clowns with guitars.


Wishes she was funny
Apr 19, 2014
A Shocking Tale of I: Scream

They think they can destroy me, hunting me down like a worldwide pack of dogs? My atomic weapons may be confiscated, but they could never, NEVER, confiscate my brilliant mind. It's time for the ultimate brain freeze.

See how my nanobots roam across the land, making their way to every ice-cream factory in the world, every ice-cream van on the street, every ice-cream stall everywhere. Those lovely bots are filling the ice-cream with my brand new formula: Melting Electricity.
Now we play the waiting game.

Yes! Look at all those unsuspecting fools, placing the altered ice-cream in their mouths. The ice-cream sinks to their bellies and the digestive fluids swish, collaborating with my formula to create insurvivable amounts of electricity, toasting their bodies like chips left to blacken in the fryer.
But no, that's not the best part. Their chargrilled bodies become magnetised, seeking the digestive fluids of people close by. People scream as the bodies drag them into a sizzling inferno until every town, village and city is occupied by a giant ball of burning, jolting, electrical death.
The balls of death roll away, crushing houses, scorching forests, even whizzing through the sea until every last living soul is consumed, humans and animals alike.

Me? I sit here on the safety of the moon, almost two-hundred and fifty thousand miles away, waiting for the death balls to fizzle out. When the carnage is done, me and my alien friends'll claim the resources of Earth. We shall split the booty between us, and they shall take me to their planet: my new home, filled with an array of devious, super intelligent species. There, I shall live an eternal life, employed as the official director of genocides.

Sigh. My intelligence astounds me.

Cat's Cradle

Time, now, to read...
Mar 3, 2014
In the Bowels of the Hillock of Sadness

I am forced into confession because the truths of that ill-fated expedition to Antarctica must be disclosed to an unsuspecting and defenseless humanity — though consideration of the facts surrounding the mission quickens a persistent terror within my forever-sullied soul.
My name’s Markham. I was leader of a team of scientist interns — young squirts discharged from Hershey, Pennsylvania’s renowned Probiotonic University. Our expedition’s purpose was to validate that shocking discoveries of cuneiform tablets in Antarctica by adventurer Frederico Immodium proved true the Aztec legends of demigods inhabiting prehistoric Earth (similar artifacts having been found in pestilent waters surrounding Montezuma’s tomb).
Our flight southward brought us to the site of Immodium’s tablets find: a large tunnel penetrating a bisected hillock. We probed its interior under roiling clouds of corrupted gases. Cuneiformia on tunnel walls had been obscured by corrosive accumulations of salts of barium — enemy to the preservation of antiquities.
Without warning, our minds were assaulted by telepathic voices: harsh, ululating consonants; inflammatory vowels — diseased speech defiling our horrified psyches. We learned of ancient Terran warfare between brownish, viscous Elders and hideous Stoolgoth slaves; of the abomination — star-spawned Cthulpoo; of the befouling Cramping Catastrophe — Dyarreeuhtwostep. Hope withered, sanity crumbled with each revelation.
We couldn’t endure, so escaped the fetid subterranea. Hurriedly we took flight, but the biologist, Karlsson, looked back, and was grievously betrayed by his hygiene muscles. Months later, from his bed in the Incontinency Institute, he fearfully whispered what he’d witnessed: an otherworldly behemoth that was the hillock, first rising, then squatting down; and the writhing of innumerable tentacles while horrors issued from the recently vacated ‘tunnel’.
I suspect there’s safety only in pristine Nature; I hide near water, closeted with my suffering...my terror of the demigod Dyarreeuhtwostep, and the explosive dissolution of intestinal fortitude His coming portends.

Perpetual Man

Tim James
Jun 13, 2006
Shocked into Sentience

“Yo, Bob just receiving yesterday’s transmission from Curiosity, the storm is about to hit. Best we can do is sit here and bite our nails and hope she comes back online.”


Do not believe what you are told.

Mars is not a world of lost alien life, or three legged invaders. It is desolate and empty, dry, arid and lonely, not to mention cold.

On the surface of the Red Planet the rover was pathetically small, a miracle of ingenuity and engineering, yet in the face of the canyons and mountains of the fourth rock from the sun it was little more than insignificant.

A bug on the skin of a world.

And the storm front was the hand that could simply squash it.

It billowed across the hills and valleys, a growing cloud of turmoil and dust. Lightning the colour of hell sizzled against the surface, fusing sand, shattering stone and Curiosity sat there watching it come.

Like the unforgiving maw of a forgotten god, the darkness devoured the machine. Perhaps one light blinked on its surface, but if anything recorded the turmoil that consumed it, nothing showed.

Within the chaotic maelstrom of dust and wind it was obliterated from the world, it might never have existed so completely was it obscured by a wave of decimation.

Lightning sparked before it, then snakelike struck. In the heart of Martian darkness the rover glowed like a beacon of hope.

Could there have been something in the Martian tempest?

Or was it just a fluke?

But in the Rover something changed.




“Bob, we’re receiving a new message from Curiosity… I don’t know…”

“What does it say?”



Juliana Spink Mills. "No capes!"
Jun 28, 2012
Connecticut, USA
Heart of the Storm

Murder was never pretty. But sometimes it was necessary. Nousha tightened her grip around the drugged child. Sacrifice, she told herself. Not murder. War was the true beast, and it would devour a thousand thousands without this sacrifice. But her heart knew it was murder nonetheless.

The wind tore her headscarf from her face as she glanced back and saw the dust of a hundred spears riding her way, and she urged her white mare to go faster. Ahead of her, the jinn’s storm raged. She had only to ride into the Eye of the tempest and give the child to the vortex, and her part in this was done. So had she been promised by the angel with the sword of flame.

Before long, the storm swallowed her whole. Now she could barely hear the thunder of the Spear Sons’ hooves above the clashing fury that surrounded her. She was blinded by the sand that filled her ears, her nose, her mouth. But the way ahead was clear. The vortex shone like a beacon of dark, glittering night.

Nousha reached the Eye and slipped from her terrified mount. She pulled the child from the saddle, hugged him tight. Sacrifice, not murder, she repeated, over and over. The vortex awaited.

She brushed sand from the sleeping child’s face and blew gently to clear his dark-lashed eyes. The first tear fell upon his cheek. “Forgive me, I cannot do it,” she whispered to the heavens.

The storm abated, the vortex dimmed and drew away, back into the once-again azure sky. The rumble of hooves drew close as Nousha cradled the child in her arms and bowed her head to await her doom. Her tears rained upon the desert as she condemned a thousand thousands to their death.

J D Foster

Rank amateur, utter novice, please help
Jul 1, 2015
Planetary Engineering

We can eat, yet back home they starve. Planetary Engineering is a blank cheque. So while we whip Siycon into a habitable world, Earth has her own storm. Alexa Torres notices me staring.

"What?" She dumps her fork.

"Nothing, sorry." Curse being stuck, sealed in a tiny module, with the most beautiful woman I've ever met. Her eyes roll, not quite contempt, not far off.

Mercifully, a shrill peep splits the silence. I leap up, seizing any opportunity to alleviate the awkwardness.

"Can't West get a grip on these vortexes? I'd have sorted it weeks ago." Alexa complains. "I'm wasted down here."

"Its no vortex." I search for the error code. Torres is beside me, I know without looking, I can smell her. "1179, air supply critical?"

"What?" She's thinks I'm wrong.

"Control, This is South, we've got an oxygen leak."

"Switching you to Auxiliary."


"South Base. Auxiliary isn't responding. One of you needs to suit up and throw the manual override."

"I'll go. I've done it before." I lie.

Decompression is slow. Torres bangs on the window and mouths "Good luck."

Outside the frozen wasteland rages with a storm of our own creation. Fist over fist I climb to the inlet, attach the handle and yank hard. It slips off the nut and I crash to the ground, but the air is flowing.

Then I notice the open control panel and the readouts showing full tanks. How can that be? There's only us down here, who switched them off?

I jump to my feet, stagger back to the hatch, but it's locked. I stare in the window. Its hard to focus through the frozen glass. Then I see her. I hammer on the door, but she just stands there grinning, waiting for me to suffocate.

Victoria Silverwolf

Vegetarian Werewolf
Dec 9, 2012
Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA

From the observation port of Sinbad, one thousand meters above the Strait of Hormuz, Ibrahim bin Fauzi watched the sky give birth to clouds. They appeared as if by magic, wisps of cotton swelling into gray giants. Like silent, invisible thieves, the airship’s infrared lasers stole water from the Gulf and hid it in the air. Blown to land by afternoon winds, cooled by shadows cast by enormous floating panels, the vapor condensed into precious rain, bringing life to the desert.

“Intruders approaching.” Captain Jazeeri’s voice came over the intercom like a portrait in sound of the man himself; quiet, calm, and commanding. “Begin evasive action.”

Ibrahim gripped the railing as Sinbad lurched to starboard, dropping dozens of meters in a heartbeat. The windows slammed shut, covered by mirrors designed to ward off enemy lasers. In the dim amber emergency lights Ibrahim felt as if he were within the heart of a dragon. Through the intercom came a chaos of voices.

“Captain,” Ibrahim said. “What is the situation?”

“Drones. At least twenty. Instructions?”

Ibrahim brooded over his choices. At full speed, Sinbad might be able to evade the attackers with minimal damage; but retreat could mean the end of his project. If they fought back, destroying the drones would come at a heavy price, and would cost the enemy little. Perhaps there was another way.

“Send all shadow panels over the enemy’s control center.”

“Understood.” Captain Jazeeri rarely asked questions.

Ibrahim imagined the panels, like vast black birds, bringing darkness to the enemy. Unlike the arid atmosphere of his own land, the air above the enemy’s realm held enough moisture to create great storms instead of gentle rains. Lightning would lash his strongholds and floods would drown his people. The Lukewarm War was over, and the Weather War had begun.


Professionally indecisive
Jul 9, 2015

They come looking for life. They look for the familiar, for one of their kind. Carbon-based, they call it.
They don't notice me.

They land, one at a time. For years all they did was land and die. Lately, they seem to have advanced to a mobile state, and trundle through the red deserts. Yet I believe even these are not the ones leading the search.

From time to time, I listen to the information they transmit back to their fellow species. It seems that if they find life here, then more will come.

I don't know where they are from or how far they've travelled. They never leave, but they don’t stay long either. I think they're a brittle species. Delicate.
I clean their energy panels every once in a while, to help them last longer. They're not great company, but they’re more than the dust.

Yet they never think to look up and see me. Their minds are too narrow to know what they search for. I tried to make it clear to one of them that I am life, I am what they search for. But the little roamer was not able to communicate back. I think perhaps I broke it with my powers.

Their latest transmissions have been obsessed. Not with finding life, but water. It sounds important to them, but they’re wasting time chasing lakes that have long passed. If only they understood how destroyed this planet is, maybe then their little metal eyes would see someone like me.

But I know they are too short sighted for that. I am just a storm cloud to them.
So I paint my caves with lightning in hope that one day they will see them and understand. Maybe then, I will no longer be alone.

Denise Tanaka

Denise RobargeTanaka
Jun 2, 2006
San Jose, CA

Brightness flashed in the dust cloud. Vertical lightning streaks walked towards her. Each bolt scorched a dark spot in the dirt. Like footprints.

Her visor crackled. The intercom hissed static. The digital compass pointed in every direction.

Doctor Suzuki raised her arms in the bulky envo-suit. Palms forward, she displayed white fabric and counted to three. Rotating her wrists, she displayed the black padding.

2:31... 2:30... 2:29... past the point of no return. Lieutenant Shvetsov could not order someone to suit-up for rescue. No time.

Suzuki rotated her left hand while stepping forward. She flipped both gloves and stepped backwards. "Please, please."

She flipped back to the first position. The lightning moved closer. Brightness strained her eyes, even through the visor.

She rotated one glove—left palm towards herself, right palm outward. The lightning inched backwards.

It extended two sparkling tendrils with dark tips. When she turned her gloves to show the white palms, the tendrils flared.

She gulped the thrill. Gloat later. She proceeded to transmit—in binary—what she had puzzled over for hours alone in her bunk.

"H-e-l-l-o, w-e... c-o-m-e... i-n... p-e-a-c-e."

Tendrils blinked dark and light. "W-e... d-o... n-o-t."


Suzuki dropped belly-down to the dirt. The storm crawled over her back. Electricity battered her helmet. She closed her eyes—as if that would make a difference—and waited for the planet's rage to blow over.

When it was finally done, and when she managed to rise out of the dunes, she beheld the cleanly swept planet's surface.

For a compass, she checked the angle of shadows off the rocks. My hunch was right but I have no proof. Shvetsov'll never let me pull a stunt like this again.

Each boot's step made a deep impression. Sand grains sparkled in her footprints.


Well-Known Member
Jun 30, 2011
My Hero

Here lives the brother, just thirty weeks born;
span-length and fragile, a child of glass.
Machine-gun heartbeat pulsing his chest,
and I’ll never feel his softest first breaths.

Here lies my hero, this fighter ‘mong men.
Here lies my hero, he’ll fight till the end.

Here stands the shield, defender of the weak.
Stares down my bullies, though they’re twice his age.
A silhouette of freedom, against the clouded sky.
How I look up to him from the gravel.

Here stands my hero, a warrior for the just.
Here stands my hero, I follow as I must.

Here kneels the soldier, my golden brother in arms.
Slave to old despots, a child once again.
We gather the broken, the unheard and helpless.
Tyranny’s forever gone. The soldier takes his throne.

Here kneels my hero, pledging end to war.
Of everlasting peace he speaks and battle nevermore.

Here sits our leader; hand on heart,
his fingers drip with blood. No peace we’ve known,
for power breeds fear, and fear will devastate any vow.
So I can’t be afraid if I’m to step from the shadow.

Here sits my hero, the man I pledged to follow.
Here sits my hero, whose promises ring so hollow.

Here lies the tormentor; machine-gun stopped.
Now I’m the brother with blooded hands
and only I’ve the beating heart to stand for the weaker man.

Here lies my hero, what fools were we to believe
a dreaming madman, hell bent to watch us bleed
our humanity.
Here lies my hero, the brother who should never have lived
to breathe his airs of freedom at the cost of what this is.

Yet here lies my hero, born a baby brave.
A child forever, a brother, a memory,
or just another statistic at promised peace in his grave.

Dan Jones

Ooh, that's not sexy...
Nov 14, 2014
Here, Now
The Stormchaser

I met Daggart in a hick bar surrounded by groupies. Seemed damn unfair; I could barely maintain eye contact with women.

I followed him to the john. He was grizzled, old. Overcoat like a cut-price Clint Eastwood. And he stank of iron.

“What’s your secret?” I asked.

Grinning, he unbuttoned his coat, revealing clinking glass bottles inside. He picked one; inside it swirled tiny grey clouds, while small lightning forks illuminated it. “Bottled lightning. Want some?”

I nodded.


Now I’m in one of three crappy Jeep convertibles hurtling across Utah’s salt plains beneath monstrous, growling clouds swallowing the sky. Ronnie, the hot wide-eyed blonde by me, looks like she’s getting a thrill; her hand clutches my thigh. Goddamn.


Blinding, golden shafts split the sky, slamming into another Jeep. It rolls, bodies flying like toy soldiers. We drive on.

The cloud descends like a hunter. The guy in front stands, lifting a metal rod attached to a bottle. “C’mon, ya gruesome mutha!” he yells, before a violent gust launches him from the vehicle. The rod lands in my lap.

“D’you see that?” Ronnie gasps, fingers drifting toward my groin.

Emboldened, I raise the rod high. Dusty wind lacerates me, the Jeep crunches salty nuggets – I feel like a demigod. The cloud churns like an Olympian’s muscles…




The sky’s blue now. Quiet. Mouth’s salty dry. I can just move my neck enough to see my charred hand clutching the bottle, rumbling storm inside. A silhouette blocks the sun, stinking of iron.

Daggart kneels, takes the bottle, slips it into his coat. I’m powerless to resist. “Think I’m stupid enough to bottle lightning myself?” He stands up. “Well, high time I left. Sun’s gettin’ hot.”

As he walks away I see Ronnie, slipping her hand into his.

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Benevolent Galaxy Being
Mar 11, 2010
Horror of the Zombies

"That is an amazing story. A sand storm on Mars uncovers a temple filled with gold, which was protected by killer zombies. Knowing that you're also a science fiction writer, I thought you made all that up. But, NASA believes you. I'm fine with that. What bothered me the most, was the idea that you murdered your fellow astronauts for gold, that you couldn't possibly keep for yourself."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, you should understand that alien artifacts, whatever mineral they're made of, are property of NASA. You look disappointed. You didn't really think you'd be able to have that Martian gold?"

"I, I did. Well I guess that's it. Goodbye, Lieutenant."

"Oh! There's just one more thing. You said that during the zombie attack, when your friends were being torn apart, all three interior cameras were damaged and that caused a short in the wires, which burned all the film footage. Correct?"


"Not to worry, I have good news. There was a fourth, hidden camera, which was attached to the nearly indestructible Black Box. And, it has the entire recorded, round trip to Mars. I have it right here. Let's watch it."

"WAIT!!!......There's no need to look at the film. I...killed everyone on board...and staged a fake alien zombie attack, in order to claim the gold for myself."

"You're admitting, that you murdered the crew?"


"Thank you for confessing. I was certain you did it, because you had time on the return trip to make it look like something other than you, killed those international astronauts. Now it's time for my confession. There was no fourth camera. I made that up, so you'd tell the truth."

"What? (smiles) Heh heh. You're a clever man, Lieutenant Columbo."

"So I'm told."


We're in the pipe, five by five.
Jun 7, 2015
Liverpool, United Kingdom
Storm Eater

They said this was what killed off the old ones. It drove them underground, their vaults became tombs.

It swarms and swells, forked blue tongues tear up the earth, ripping out electrical veins. A storm becomes a beast.

To slay a beast, you need a monster.

I watch as she climbs from the volcano, a fiery womb, thunder lashes her black scales completing the birth.

You need a Storm-Scale.

I approach while she is weak darting from darkened cover, steadying my breath I wipe the sweat from my hands and grip my sword tighter.

Her scales are smooth and hot as I feel for it. That special place I need to cut.

A thundering growl rings in my ears as I slash. I pray it’s from the clouds.

Thick scarlet drools out and as I drink from the unholy altar she watches me. Looking deep into her mirrored eyes, I see myself.

We take to the skies, soaring. She moves unmatched, her wings cutting through churning whirlwinds, lightning thrashes and barks which is absorbed by her skin that glows snake-like from black to cobalt blue.

Whirling my beast swoops beneath the storms heart, as a missile of green leaves her mouth and bursts splitting lightning like glass I go deaf with the explosion, she wraps her wings around me and dives.

I woke to the sound of gentle rain on her giant wings. She remained still, no breath shook her.

There was warmth as I looked into those eyes one last time. A tender trickle that ran down my face and salted my tongue as I whispered to her.

"Thank You."

It may take a monster to slay a beast.

But it takes a sacrifice to save a species.

Travis Woodward

Maker of plans
Jul 30, 2015

Kiera did her best to sprint in the heavy EV suit. She risked a glance over her shoulder at the storm. The boiling purple clouds were bearing down on her. Lightning shattered the terrain, and squalls of acid rain left the ground hissing where they struck. She caught a glimpse of the stranded transport where the rest of her crew were cowering. The way the engines and the radio had died at once, it must have been a problem with the shielding. Too late now. She’d told her crew to sit tight. After all, it’d been her idea to hang back and watch the storm-seeder do its work for a few minutes.

A flash blinded her and a shockwave threw her forwards, sending her crashing into the dust. She looked back again and saw the smouldering wreck of the transport. They were gone. She felt numb. Sick. Terrified.

Lightning flashed again, and she was tossed into the air once more. She landed hard, and crawled towards a nearby crevice in the ground. She slid into it, knowing that it was pointless, that the storm would consume her as it had her team. She looked ahead to the base’s entrance tunnel, no more than a hundred meters away on the other side of the ravine. They’d been so close.


Kiera stood looking out over the ravine. Lush lawns swept from her feet towards the delicate bridge that arched across to the science museum. The sun was bright despite the giant filters in orbit high above. A child stood at her feet looking up at the noble poses of her and her crew, before looking down to read the statue’s plaque:

“Pioneers of Venus - Scientists, Terraformers, Heroes. They died that we might live in paradise.”

Bored, the child wandered off.


Interested Observer
Aug 13, 2011
New Jersey

“It’s never coming, Jon,” Amil murmured, face drawn and wizened as he lay on the cot. “I can’t hold on any longer.”

Gripping his friend’s hand tightly, Jon tried to comfort him. “We’ve made it this long, Amil. Don’t give up now.” As he spoke, he could feel Amil slipping away. His form became amorphous, skin translucent, before disappearing entirely.

Jon pounded his fist into the empty cot. Of the original band of survivors, he was the only one left now.

Striding out of the makeshift hut, Jon railed against the sky.

“What have we done to deserve this fate? Answer me, damn you!” But the empty, blue sky remained silent, mocking his passion. Falling to his knees, Jon wept at the loss of his comrades.

Sometime later, he found himself on the same cot that had recently held Amil, unaware of entering the hut or laying down. Despair washed over him at the thought of being alone on this strange, lifeless world. If only it would come….

The next morning Jon awoke with new determination. If it wouldn’t come to him, he would seek it out. Gathering himself, he struck out from the camp towards the distant mountains. If anywhere, it was there.

Days passed in a blur. Jon reached the mountains and climbed their steep sides. Finally, he ascended to a plateau.

Across its length, he saw it. Lightening flashing, the storm approached. Raising his arms, Jon felt the first strike fill him with sweet life. As he absorbed the lightening his body glowed with the return of energy. Triumphantly Jon launched himself off the ground, soaring through the atmosphere and reaching the lovely coldness of space in seconds.

Looking back at the planet, Jon said a short prayer for his lost friends, then headed off for home.


Well-Known Member
Nov 16, 2013
NSW, Australia
Redemption On Halloween

Ableb crashed out of the underworld, landing in Little Hilltown at 6.37 pm on 31st October, 2015. Around him, embers sizzled and popped in the snow.

He stumbled to his feet, his pitchfork snagging on folds of hide ringing his ankles. Ouch. Cursing, he jabbed at the heavens.

Lightning hit the church spire and he flinched. He hadn’t known the Master controlled that domain. “I get it,” he grovelled. “I can’t come back ‘til I’ve filled my quota.”

“Trick or treat.” Shrill voices startled him. He spun to face the monsters. Some looked almost normal, but others were pink and fluffy, marred by wings and ribbons.

They advanced. He retreated. “Trick or treat,” they sang. Outnumbered, he ran.


Ableb crept into the shack, ignoring its occupants. Comforting shadows leapt and grimaced, cast by – best of horrors! – a fire. Refuge. Face in hands, he wept.


“Don’t worry.” The man’s expression was masked by whiskers; the voice was sympathetic. “Psychs call it ‘culture shock’. Bin through it meself, after Iraq. You’ll fit in, though. Tim now....” He jerked a finger at a sullen boy. “’E don’t belong.”

“I’m not going home, Jake!” Tim shifted, dislodging a nest of needles. Ableb winced. His own hide was tough but Tim looked soft.

Soft. A likely mark. Ableb eyed the boy. Perhaps he could fill his quota.


A man swaggered from the darkness. “Git!”

Ableb stared; he hadn’t known humans could be so large.

Seeing the boy, the man leered. “You can stay.”

Jake stepped forward, protecting the boy. Ableb hesitated. I can’t. I must! He joined Jake.


“I’m sorry.” Tim turned from the carnage. They were beyond help. Home.


Jake awoke to a vista of celestial glory. “No,” he groaned. “Not culture shock again.”

Ableb smiled. He didn’t mind. He’d met his new master.


Shropshire, U.K.
Feb 13, 2006
Shropshire, U.K.
Obsessive, Compulsive Order

Hendricks settled back in his recliner, iced drink in hand, as the violent sand storm rolled in from the East. He was interested to see what effect the billowing sand, rocks and stones would have on a few patches of freshly dug ground some distance away.

He was personally safe from the worst that a Martian storm could throw at him. The clear, toughened dome gave him more than adequate protection. He was warm, comfortable and relaxed.

He liked it that way.

He had arranged the interior of the dome methodically and logically. No untidiness, nothing difficult to find, nothing ever mislaid.

The galley, in particular, was a thing of pleasure. The work surfaces were clear and spotless. Every utensil was in its place and to hand. In the freezers the bio-cultured meat was neatly labelled and stocked in use-by-date order. In another dome hydroponic tanks were adjusted to provide a continuous supply of fresh vegetables exactly when needed. The was no waste.

He liked it that way.

In his quarters, clothes were organised according to form and colour. The sheets and pillows on his bunk bed were smooth, crisp and neat. He had made it up after his early morning shower. As he did every day.

The 1812 overture flooded the dome, providing an atmospheric backdrop to the rolling thunder and lightening of the storm.

There was no one to object to his choice of music, no one to disturb the order and cleanliness of his world.

Not any more, anyway.

The storm was passing away to the West now and he saw with some satisfaction that all trace of the patches of disturbed ground, each precisely six feet by two, had been obliterated.

He liked it that way.
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