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theblunderbuss
Jul 4, 2010

I find dead men rout
more easily.


Kaishai posted:

Critiques for Week 123: The Surreal Life

Thank you for this!

Also a belated Thank You to everyone else who's done crits lately (for my entries or for others'). I don't say that nearly often enough.

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theblunderbuss
Jul 4, 2010

I find dead men rout
more easily.


I'm in. Flash me.

theblunderbuss
Jul 4, 2010

I find dead men rout
more easily.


Sitting Here posted:

hello domers this is a special announcement speaking

I've not written much in the 'Dome, but do as you will with any of it.

theblunderbuss
Jul 4, 2010

I find dead men rout
more easily.


Honour Among Thieves, or Two Short Fights And Some Filler
1,488 words

Edit: Consigned to the archive just in case.

theblunderbuss fucked around with this message at Dec 29, 2015 around 17:58

theblunderbuss
Jul 4, 2010

I find dead men rout
more easily.


hubris.height posted:

useful feedback

Awesome, thanks for the crit! I shall pay it back/forward.

theblunderbuss
Jul 4, 2010

I find dead men rout
more easily.


Thunderdome CL: Everything Old is New Again

Does anyone like video games? I do. I've been catching up on Sony's E3 presentation this morning (that's a big yearly expo, for those of you who don't) and their big announcements this year seem to be a game they started working on a decade ago, a sequel to one from 2001, and a remake of one from 1997. And, gently caress it, I'm kinda hyped.

So.

I want stories about the return of something significant from the past. A possession, or a person, or, I dunno, disco, or whatever. I don't really give a poo poo. But whatever it is, it has to matter. Make me care.

Usual restrictions: no fanfiction, no erotica, etc etc etc you all know the drill by now

Word count: 1,200 words
Sign-up deadline: 9am Saturday, British Summer Time (that's GMT +1).
Submission deadline: 9am Monday.

Judges:
this guy right here
Sitting Here
Meeple

Participants:
kurona_bright
Megazver (Your returning Thing was last seen one hundred years ago, to the day.)
SadisTech
Lazy Beggar (Something turns up in an unexpected place.)
Masonity (Your father's dying words have never seemed so relevant.)
s7indicate3
Thranguy
Grizzled Patriarch
Screaming Idiot (A chance encounter sets everything in motion.)
Ironic Twist
Pham Nuwen
Broenheim
Doctor Idle (She knows what you did last summer.)
JcDent
spectres of autism
A Classy Ghost (Someone is on a journey. They never reach their destination.)
thehomemaster (It's back... but it's changed. For the worse.)
Bad Seafood
Phobia
Jonked
Benny Profane (A plant plays a significant role in your story.)
newtestleper
Entenzahn
dmboogie
Killer-of-Lawyers

theblunderbuss fucked around with this message at Jun 20, 2015 around 09:18

theblunderbuss
Jul 4, 2010

I find dead men rout
more easily.


StealthArcher posted:

I'm up to judge with voice reviews for the winner and loser if you'll have me. I don't know if asking is taboo or wtf.

Already accepted two other offers, I'm afraid. Of course this is not to say you shouldn't do voice reviews anyway.

Megazver posted:

In. Flash me.

Your returning Thing was last seen one hundred years ago, to the day.

theblunderbuss
Jul 4, 2010

I find dead men rout
more easily.


Lazy Beggar posted:

In. And can I get flash rule please.

Something turns up in an unexpected place.

Masonity posted:

In. I'll take a flash rule again. It actually helped me come up with my concept last time.

Your father's dying words have never seemed so relevant.

Screaming Idiot posted:

In, with a flash rule if you don't mind.

A chance encounter sets everything in motion.

Doctor Idle posted:

In with a toxx, flash me please.

She knows what you did last summer.

A Classy Ghost posted:

gently caress it I've skipped enough weeks, I'll be in for this one.

Also flash me because why noooooooooooooot

Someone is on a journey. They never reach their destination.

thehomemaster posted:

In, please flash me with your best.

It's back... but it's changed. For the worse.

theblunderbuss
Jul 4, 2010

I find dead men rout
more easily.


Benny Profane posted:

In. I'd like a flash rule too, please.

A plant plays a significant role in your story.

theblunderbuss
Jul 4, 2010

I find dead men rout
more easily.


Sign-ups close in twelve hours.

theblunderbuss
Jul 4, 2010

I find dead men rout
more easily.


Sign-ups are now closed.

theblunderbuss
Jul 4, 2010

I find dead men rout
more easily.


Submissions close in twelve hours.

theblunderbuss
Jul 4, 2010

I find dead men rout
more easily.


Submissions are now closed.

Those of you who haven't submitted yet, you are no longer eligible for the victory but if you do so today you can still get a crit. Phobia, get something in and maybe, maybe we will be lenient.

theblunderbuss
Jul 4, 2010

I find dead men rout
more easily.


Thunderdome CL Results

Well, we had a fair few no-shows this week. What did come in was... variable.

Our loser this week is HalliburTown, by s7ndicat3. I would like to describe it succinctly but I'm honestly not sure I can. I'll settle for 'incomprehensible.'

Well-earned DMs go to a pair of definite non-stories: What a Shame, by JcDent, and Homecoming, by dmboogie. Also to Some Old Hood poo poo by Doctor Idle.

There was some nice contrast at the upper end of the scale, though, and the winner was by no means clear-cut. HMs go to A Shiny Red Apple, by Benny Profane; Holding What Is Left, by Grizzled Patriarch; and Trigger, by SadisTech.

And our winner this week... I.O.U., by Ironic Twist. Congratulations!

Crits will be forthcoming. For now, I leave you in Twist's capable hands.

theblunderbuss
Jul 4, 2010

I find dead men rout
more easily.


Week 150 critlets, part the first

So before I start on specific comments, here is one general suggestion that I think many of you could benefit from:

Before you hit submit, proofread your drat story. Then do it again. If you're feeling really enthusiastic, you can even run it through a spell checker as well. The judges will love you for this, or at least not hate you as much.

Also, I noticed several people seem a bit unsure about exactly how to punctuate dialogue; I noticed a bunch of rogue capital letters and commas where there should have been full stops. If you're one of them, go read up on it. Fussy readers (like me) will judge you for these simple mistakes. Broenheim went into some detail on this in his crit for Some Old Hood poo poo.


HalliburTown

I described this story in my results post as "incomprehensible," and I stand by that. I honestly have no idea why anything happened in this. It seems like you tried to fit too many ideas into too few words (the circles thing, advertising, this perfect manufactured community, a strained marriage, whatever the gently caress was going on with Chloe in the middle there…) and as a result it just reads like a mess.

I mean, I think the core of your story is Chloe finally deciding to leave Peter, but I don't have a clue why, or what lead up to this, or anything about it. Your characters don't even interact with one another at any point!

On a mechanical note, please pick a tense and stick with it. Past or present. You can't have both. That's not how this works.


An Old Friend

In retrospect, given the prompt, I should have seen stories like this coming - that is, "some people sit around and discuss more interesting things which happened in the past, and which frankly I'd rather see first-hand." That said, 'interesting' is stretching things a bit here. The conversation is long and wordy and yet, somehow, lacking in any kind of detail. At the end of it I'm left with no real idea what Laurence has done with his life other than, "go to war and have a son at some point." It's all very generic war-is-hell stuff.

Similarly, the ending (pretty much everything after Dylan opens the door, at the very least) is entirely unnecessary - we already know at this point exactly what's going to happen.

This wasn't offensive, but it was dull.


They Say Fish Have No Word For Water

I admit that this good-natured, rather nonsensical world you've constructed did kind of grow on me over the course of the story, though some of it - the Zones, say - seemed just weird for weird's sake.

The ending, as others have already said, is a bit apropos-of-nothing and just comes out of nowhere. You've not spent any time before this developing your characters or the relationships between them, so I just didn't care about this shocking revelation? If it was actually intended to be a revelation. I'm not sure. In any case it seemed entirely irrelevant.


Clap Happy

Your protagonist was the biggest problem for me here - he has minimal personality, but what he does have is completely unsympathetic. Obviously that was the goal, but it's a really bad idea if you want the reader to care about what happens to them. Which I didn't. He's also your only actual character in the whole thing.

The hands turning up again towards the end was kind of intriguing, but then the whole supernatural reveal came out of nowhere in the last few paragraphs. Despite that, the worst part of the ending is that Frank just comes full circle. At the end he's now doing the exact same thing he was at the start, having learned nothing from the whole experience.

Also, don't put dialogue from multiple characters in a single paragraph.


All That He Was

This is the sort of story I hate to have to crit - not offensively bad, not spectacularly good (in fact that's pretty much the entirety of my notes from reading it). John has a motivation, at least, and he acts towards that, so I can't complain too much.

Incidentally, it did seem a bit odd to me that, in this society where everyone is expected to specialise to a ludicrous extent, musicians are supposed to play multiple instruments.

This was competently written, but in the end, nothing really stuck with me. Aren't I helpful.


Up Back Medium Punch Down Forward Heavy Punch

Possibly my expectations of Thunderdome are unfairly low (is that possible?), but after your first line I was terrified that you might actually have been planning to have video game characters come to life. Thankfully I stopped caring about this pretty quickly because I completely lost interest during the lengthy description of the game and characters and whatnot.

"And no one knows what happened after that" - Please don't do this.

The ending here was weak. The overall arc is okay (revisiting and finally putting to rest old unfinished business from childhood) but the ending being just, "and then he got really good at video games," deflates the whole thing.


Telemachus

This starts off quite slow - I spent a lot of it wondering what was so good about this satellite they'd found. It definitely picks up once they get into the satellite and start receiving messages, but this doesn't last long and then the story ends in short order afterwards. Gerard's reaction to Sarah bringing the satellite down seemed a bit too muted, to me; it felt like you were about to bring in some conflict but then had to back down because you ran out of words.

That said, both your characters do have understandable, reasonable motivations by the end, which is a good and rare thing. This was by no means a bad story, but not quite enough to climb above the rest of the pack.


A Shiny Red Apple

I think this story was a bit too simple and straightforward to ever really be in the running for winner this week, but it was definitely the one I enjoyed reading the most. Your narrator has a decent put-upon sort of voice, and I honestly like the tree as a character - her childlike enthusiasm is rather endearing.

Not much happens here, but your character interaction is fun. This was a pleasant palate cleanser in the middle of the rest.


Some Old Hood poo poo

And here's another story where some characters sit around and discuss things that happened in the past. This is not a good idea; told like this, it just robs the events of any kind of urgency, and I spent the entire story having great difficulty caring. You can keep the framing story if you want, but show us the interesting stuff. If it turns out it doesn't fit under the word count like that, well, maybe you were trying to cram too much stuff in.

Meeple mentioned this in his notes above, but Dante's voice doesn't come off as authentic; it feels like someone (the author, perhaps) putting on a dialect rather than anything natural. TBH, it also got in the way of following what he was talking about (not a huge amount, but enough that when I came to write this crit I'd already forgotten the details).

Also, pay attention to Broenheim's comments about dialogue, and to punctuation in general, for that matter. It matters.


Maybe Being Crazy Ain't Such a Bad Thing

It would definitely have been nice to get more of a dialogue going in this story. As it is, it consists mostly of the voice talking at Dylan, who interrupts occasionally with, "shan't," or something similarly erudite. By the end I'd quite like a happy ending for the voice, but I don't really give much of a poo poo about Dylan himself.

It's also - though to a lesser extent than other entries - a conversation about past events. On the other hand, it's not just that. In the end it does at least have an arc of sorts, albeit a very simple one. So that's better than many.


Makeup

So I actually liked this one. You have a lot of characters, but I think you do a good job of implying enough about their past relationships without needing to state it explicitly. Though I will admit to being incredibly confused at the start until I realised that the relationship between Scott and Simon was, in fact, that they were the same person. Proofreading, people. It's worth it.

I thought you did a good job of getting across the atmosphere at the funeral - subdued and awkward. Ultimately, nothing really significant happens, but I was okay with that. I was happy with the brief glimpse at the characters here.

There was some disagreement among the judges over this one. In a different week, or with a different set of judges, I think this could have HMed. Keep your head up. You're doing some things right here.


Scarcity

I can sum a lot of my problems with this story up pretty succinctly: Why should I care about anything that happens? You spend a lot of time going on about how run-down everything is, and about fascists or whatever, but Latoya has no discernible personality or motivation here. By the time something actually happens (by my count, SEVEN PARAGRAPHS in), I still don't know what she's fighting or why (other than "fascists bad"?), which means I've lost interest.

This problem runs all the way through. Even by the end, when she's face to face with her downed foe, I still don't know or care any more than I did at the start. There was a fascist (I guess?). It's dead now. That's probably a good thing?

Really, what this story needed was a character.


Second batch coming later in the week.

theblunderbuss
Jul 4, 2010

I find dead men rout
more easily.


Week 150 critlets, part the second

Holding What Is Left

Despite using judgemode, I think all three of us pegged this as your work. I guess that says something.

This was definitely the best-written entry this week, but, at this point, that doesn't come as a huge surprise. Ultimately, what held it back was the length - expand this a bit (both my co-judges have already called it a vignette rather than a story, and I'll third that sentiment) and it could definitely have won.


I.O.U.

This starts abruptly. Very abruptly. It threw me for a complete loop when you time-lapsed without warning after the very first paragraph. I was a bit worried at that point. Thankfully you proved me wrong.

This story's big strength is the atmosphere you create. There's a really strong sense of oppressive horror to the whole thing, and you ramp it up nicely over the course of the third scene. I very much appreciated that you didn't feel the need to actually explain what was going on, which would probably have ruined the whole thing. At no point did I feel like I needed to know more; just the pervasive "this is really wrong" was more than sufficient.

The main issues I had were with clarity at the start - you jump around a bit and it took me a little while to get things straight in my head. Ultimately, though, this was interesting and memorable. Great job.


The Once and Future King

I don't like any of your characters. Especially the protagonist. Just want you to know that. From the start he seems to be defined by the fact that he doesn't like anyone, and that he's just a bit full of himself. Is there anything he actually wants? At the end it seems like his goal is, "that's enough war, thanks," so maybe getting that in early on would have helped.

You've set up a world that is at least different here, which is commendable, but I don't really feel like I've got any sense of what it's like. There's no real atmosphere, and everything's very… vague. To some extent this is a good thing - I don't need three paragraphs detailing the complete history of the war and the makeup of the nearby rock formations or whatever - but I do need a bit more detail than you give here.

What is life underground like? Dark? Humid? Dusty? How are the people taking it? Grim acceptance? Despair? Optimism? Are they in tunnels they've dug themselves, or old catacombs, or the London Underground, or what?

I mean, here's what I know about the battle against the French in the middle: It takes place in a tunnel. That's it.

Ultimately I think the lack of any real details was what rendered this unmemorable to me. Some soldiers had a fight and King Arthur turned up and died. By the time I'd read another couple of stories I'd already forgotten it.


What a Shame

At first I thought this was going to be a story about a breakup and about the strained relationship between two people who tried and fell short. Then it turned out to be entirely about Deus Ex. I know they say, "write what you know," but this might be taking it a bit far.

Maybe you were aiming for the game to be some kind of metaphor for the relationship? If so, it's a really loving subtle one.

Oh, and for the record: I've never played Deus Ex. If you were trying to pander with this, you missed.


Trigger

I enjoyed this story, straightforward as it is. Sentia has a good, strong voice, both in her narration and what dialogue she has. I actually thought the, "I knew I was watching my father fight" line wasn't necessary - I had a pretty good idea what was going on by that point (from Jacobus' reaction to her earlier), and other than that line I thought you did a good job of dropping enough hints without actually stating it outright. On that note, having Sentia as the narrator worked particularly well; you couldn't really have got away with that sort of subtle touch if any of the others had been the POV char.

The gunfight seemed a bit implausible - one man against twelve, all of whom really should have been ready for a fight, out in the open? - but that's a minor niggle and one that I can accept is perfect in keeping for the genre.

This was a strong contender for the win. Keep it up.


Homecoming

Okay. Um. This is an interesting one.

I thought your opener was okay. Not amazing, but enough of a hook (disclaimer: I'm unfairly biased towards fantasy). I was all ready to read about the adventures of Helena the hero.

Then she doesn't appear for the next thousand words.

I just… honestly don't know what you were aiming for with this structure. The main body - the confrontation between soldiers and villagers - is entirely generic, and I'd know exactly what was going to happen during it even if you hadn't explicitly told me in the first line. Your characters here are caricatures rather than people, and the dialogue reads more like a LARP session than anything. Really, this entire scene seems to exist solely as the setup for a rollicking three-book epic… which you then summarise in a couple of hundred words and call it a day.

Really, I don't know what you were aiming for with this structure, but… let's just say it didn't work.


The Black Cat Cafe

I like Sasha's note. Just from that, I've already got a good idea of what she's like.

This story kept my attention throughout, which is better than most. It feels unfinished, though, possibly because it's so simple. There's no conflict between the characters; they meet up, there's a bit of a scuffle, and then everything is… pretty good between them? This feels like the setup for a longer story, and these are your protagonists for it. I can imagine that they're about to talk about the actual plot over dinner.

For what it's worth, I'd probably read that.


Souls

Okay, so I get that this was probably a bit rushed, but it does show.

This story definitely subscribes to the every-popular tell-don't-show creed. It's all incredibly detached and bland - you tell me what Klimmer does, and you tell me what he feels, and at no point am I expected to work anything out for myself. I mean, he gets his soul back at the start. That's a pretty big deal, right? But all I know about it is that he vomits and then cries for a bit. There's no impact to that at all.

Incidentally, describing your protagonist as a "soulless cretin?" Really?

Klimmer doesn't actually do anything during this story. He gets his soul back at the start - through no effort of his own - and then he wanders around for a bit thinking about what that's like, and then… he cancels dinner? Is that the climax?

This was weak. On the other hand, you did at least submit it. So that's something.

theblunderbuss
Jul 4, 2010

I find dead men rout
more easily.


Let's do this. In.

theblunderbuss
Jul 4, 2010

I find dead men rout
more easily.


I got nothin' this week. I am a failure.

As penance, will do crits for anyone who want one, or just some random ones if no one does.

theblunderbuss
Jul 4, 2010

I find dead men rout
more easily.


Sweet prompt. I'm in with a flash rule, please.

Also ing myself after last week's dismal failure.

theblunderbuss
Jul 4, 2010

I find dead men rout
more easily.


For Sale: Swords of Legend, No Questions Asked
1,431 words

I have eyes for the princess, said the voice in Anja's head.

She ignored it, threading her way through the crowds with her tray of glasses balanced precariously on one upturned palm. The baron's banquet hall was large, but packed. It teemed with merchants and nobles and dignitaries. Enough of them to run a... to fill... There were a lot of them, anyway.

The hall was torchlit, warm, humid. Flickering light at the windows illuminated falling snow outside. Six guards stood watch in the blizzard, snow piling up in drifts on helmets and shoulders. Anja knew this. She'd brought them drinks earlier while no one was looking.

I said -- the voice continued.

"I heard you," Anja muttered.

Aren't you going to correct me? You know, 'eyes on,' not, 'for.'

"I get the joke, Jan."

You're no fun sometimes.

No one paid her any notice as she moved, retrieving and replacing empty tankards and glasses. After all, she wasn't anybody here. Just part of the furniture. The guests were here to talk to one another, or to the baron, or to the princess. People who mattered.

Baron Masterson. Once a hero, in his earlier years. Wielder of the unbreakable sword Winteredge; saviour of the Four Isles; dragonslayer; et cetera et cetera. Now a fat, greying socialite, whiling away tired days on the outskirts of the capital. Enough money to court the favours of the aristocracy. Not enough that he could do without them.

An easy mark, really.

It's a nice dress, said Jan.

"Yes, I know. Can you just... pay attention? Just this once? What are they doing?"

Well, they're on the landing up here, Jan said. You know, where I am. He's going on and on and on about... titans, sounds like. Did he ever kill one of those? She's laughing at every little thing he says and doing that thing with her eyelashes. He's hooked. Big arm gestures with every... oh, hold up, they're coming my way.

Twelve minutes and fifteen seconds ago, when she started her circuit of the hall, Anja had counted thirty-two men and forty-one women here. She'd served seventy-two so far. It was important to keep track.

In the cluster ahead she recognised the remaining one. A tall, slim woman. Probably a countess. Mid-forties. One-thirty pounds, give or take. A slight sheen of sweat on her forehead. She was too hot in those skirts, slightly drunk already, and would probably down whatever she was given in a matter of moments.

Anja ran through some quick mental calculations. The red, then, slightly diluted. She half-filled a glass with wine, topped it up from a water pitcher, and after a few moments' thought added an extra quarter-dose of nightglove from a pocket. The powder dissolved with a faint hiss.

She pressed the glass into the countess' hand as she passed. The woman didn't even look at her nor pause in whatever she was prattling about, but her fingers closed automatically around the glass' stem. That was fine.

And that was the last of them.

"I'm finished down here," she said, voice low. "Five minutes thirty spare, by my count. How is she... Jan, are you purring?"

Can't help it! Jan's voice said. It's an instinct thing. Baron gave me a scratch behind the ears. Now I feel kinda bad for relieving myself in his slippers earlier.

"You what?"

Cats do that! He sounded... proud? I'm maintaining character. You wouldn't under... oh, here we go. He's got a key out. And... yes! The princess is in the tower. I repeat, the princess is in the tower. We are go go go for Operation... A pause. What did I call this operation again?

"I really don't remember, Jan."

Well... we are go for it. I guess. Come on, get yourself up here.

Anja made her way across the room, stashing her tray in a corner behind a potted shrub. As an afterthought she upended the remaining pitchers and mugs bar one into it, then tucked that in the crook of her elbow. Best to make absolutely sure no one here got too much of a dose and messed up her timings.

No one noticed her leave. She took the stairs two at a time, counting down the seconds in her head.

There was a cat on the landing. Brown, kind of mangy. It gave her a bored look and yawned at her.

"Well?"

The cat padded over to a door near the far end of the hall and curled up next to it.

"Thank you."

Anja paused at the door, one ear against the mahogany. Muted conversation filtered through. One voice high and soft, one low and thunderous. The low voice seemed to be doing most of the talking. The door wasn't locked.

It led to some kind of trophy room. That was good. That was where it was meant to lead. A dozen swords were mounted on the walls, above plaques naming them Starlight or Hubris or something illegible in Elvish. Suits of unnecessarily ornate armour occupied each corner. Anja supposed it made sense. The baron was a martial man, after all.

His back was to the door. He held a longsword in one hand, its blade ice-blue and runed and glittering in the light. It looked... as expensive as she'd hoped. Opposite him, Princess Lena Arinborne, heir to the Realm and to the Four Isles and whatever else made up the rest of her full title, was making a passable attempt at looking interested in it.

She spotted Anja over his shoulder and waved. Her smile made Anja's thoughts stop.

Jan was right. It was a nice dress.

"Baron Masterson, sir," Anja said. He rounded on her, and she saw confusion turn slowly to anger as she spoke. She thrust her tankard at him. "A drink from the cellars, sir."

He stared. He wasn't standing straight, and his gaze was unfocused. She supposed he might have had enough already tonight. "Why are... Who sent... I thought I locked that door."

He had, of course. It would only be a matter of seconds before he realised that fact, or that he no longer had the key. Really, trying to get him to down a tankard containing enough sedative to floor three men his size had been a bit of a long shot.

Anja threw the wine in his face. He sputtered, raised the Winteredge, and then Princess Lena Arinborne of the Everything brained him from behind with a breastplate. He hit the floorboards nose-first.

"You did," Anja said, before Lena darted over and planted a kiss on her cheek.

Anja flushed and failed to cover it with a hand. "You don't have to do that every time."

"I know." Lena stepped daintily over the baron's snoring bulk and picked up the Winteredge by the pommel. "I just like being rescued from... from boring old men with swords." She waved a hand at the walls. "Lots of swords."

"They are nice swords," Anja said, taking down Unknown, Probably Dwarven from the wall with a grunt. It amazed her that anyone could even swing something so heavy. "Besides, this was your idea. Your romantic heist. Take your pick."

"I should have thought this through. I don't even like swords."

"Does that matter?"

"I guess not!"

Everything good? Jan's voice said. I'm down here now. How are we for time?

"Everything is fine," Anja said. "They should start falling --"

From the floor below, something went thud. It was the deep, solid thud of someone falling onto floorboards, nose-first.

A couple of seconds later, another followed. And another. And another. Seventy-three in all. Anja counted.

"...falling asleep about now," she said after the last one. It felt good.

I seriously don't understand how you do that.

"It's just herbs and mathematics."

"Does that mean it's time for our great escape now?" Lena asked. It was endearing how her face lit up when she said it.

Anja nodded. "Downstairs, then."

The hall was still packed. Merchants and nobles and dignitaries, slumped across tables, chairs, the floor. A job well done.

There was a horse in the centre of the room. Anja stared at it for a long while.

"Six legs," she said eventually.

Look, horses are difficult, okay? They're all... knees, and shoulders, and things.

"Evidently."

"I like it," said Lena. "It's... unique. Like it's from a story."

That's exactly what I was going for, yeah.

"And now we get to ride away into the sunset like proper thieves?"

Anja glanced at the window. Darkness. Falling snow.

"Something like that," she said.

theblunderbuss
Jul 4, 2010

I find dead men rout
more easily.


Totally in for as momentous a week as this.

btw happy birthday everybody

theblunderbuss
Jul 4, 2010

I find dead men rout
more easily.


Sitting Here posted:

TDbot> She slammed the door shut. | Retreat by Ironic Twist - http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?story=2891

The Logical Extreme
1,185 words

"I have a question, Mistress," said Lestrade, as he diced the onions with machine precision. "What is love?"

Amy gave him a Look and threw a potato at him. He caught it blind without effort. "Really?"

"It came up last night." He dropped to his best monotone I-do-not-understand-puny-humans voice. He knew how much that wound her up. "It-was-not-in-my-data-banks-so --"

"Just go google it."

"I did. I was interested in your opinion."

"Ugh, I dunno. It's… devotion to someone else, or putting their happiness before yours, or, or something like that. It's complicated."

"So I gathered."

Lestrade stirred the stew in slow, controlled motions for a while. Amy watched him, unsure what to expect. She'd owned him for a year now and she still had no idea how his mind worked.

"By the way," she said once the silence had become oppressive, "this is the point where you say that you love me."

"I thought that would go without saying. Your happiness is my happiness. It's hard-coded."

"You were doing so well."


-----


They sat together after dinner and shared a bottle of wine. It was a waste giving any to Lestrade, but it made her feel better than drinking alone.

"And then, after dumping all that on me, Matt goes off on one at half five about how I haven't got it all done yet!" Her boss. It had been a bad day at the office. "I swear he's got something in for me."

Lestrade considered this.

"Arsehole," he said.

Amy stared at him for a moment, and then she laughed. She didn't quite know why, but she couldn't stop and it felt good.

"Yeah," she said once it had subsided, wiping away a tear. "Yeah. 'Arsehole.' Man, we should tell him that. Only not really."

Lestrade nodded. "Understood."


-----


Amy's boss didn't speak to her the next day. Once or twice she caught sight of him between cubicles, and each time he averted his gaze and slunk away. If it was an attempt at contrition, it was a bad one.

She mentioned it to Lestrade that evening, as they sat watching reruns of Blood without paying them much attention.

"Ah," said Lestrade. "Good. I'd hoped as much."

"Really? Why?"

A knowing smile. "I spoke to him about it last night, after you went to bed. I asked --"

"You what?"

"I spoke to him. I said that his actions were making you unhappy and that he should --"

"Oh, no." The thought of it made her feel ill. "You didn't. Do you realise what he's going to..." A single chime from the doorbell. She cut herself off, dragged herself to her feet. "Wait here. We're not finished."

There was a prim, suited woman at the door. Amy recognised her from the office -- Matt's secretary. She was tall, curvy, with long hair in some kind of bun. Young. A new model, no doubt. She supposed he liked them like that.

"Good evening," she said, and the lower half of her face smiled like at work. "I would like to talk to you about Mr. Squires."

Amy suppressed a groan. It took some effort. "I thought you might."

"Your companion threatened him last night."

"I know."

"He is unhappy about this."

"I know."

"When he is unhappy, I am unhappy."

"I know."

Lestrade hadn't moved by the time the conversation -- diatribe, really -- ended. Amy stood in the living room doorway, one hand on the frame, staring at the back of his head, at his perfect hair and his broad shoulders.

"What did you think would happen?" she said eventually.

He didn't look round at her, didn't even move at all. "He was making you unhappy. I wanted to minimise that. I suggested that he might leave you alone."

"He's my boss, Lestrade," Amy said. "And now he thinks... He's a jerk and he's vindictive. He can make my life a misery without even talking to me. So can she."

Lestrade turned his head and stared past her, gaze unfocused. "Yes," he said slowly. "I had not accounted for her."

It seemed as good an admission of guilt as she was going to get. "Then perhaps --"

He held up a hand. "Please give me a moment. The pretence of humanity consumes too many cycles. I need to think."

She waited, watched as his face went slack. After a while she tired of it, of him. She wanted to storm out, slam the door, make some show of anger, but she couldn't bring herself to. He wouldn't notice anyway.

Later, she went to bed and lay in the darkness, listening to the hum of the electrics into the night.


-----


Lestrade wasn't around when she woke the following morning. She showered, dressed, ate breakfast alone.

She was just about to leave when he returned, with two young women in tow. Companions. She recognised one of them from down the road, and the other was too pretty to be anything but.

"Ah," Lestrade said, "Mistress. This is Annabelle from number 37 and Cavendish from 43. I have been appraising them of the situation."

Amy froze.

"We have a situation now?" she asked, very carefully.

"With your boss, Matthew Squires," Lestrade said. His voice was patient, as though explaining adult truths to a child. "And his companion, Meredith. I ran the numbers overnight."

Oh, great. "And?"

"And I would like you not to leave the house today."

"What?"

"You and he are zero-sum," Lestrade said. "You antagonise each other. He directly, and you... through me. He will do so today. I know this, so I must stop him. Doing so will make him unhappy. His companion knows that. Therefore she will --"

"Get to the point, Lestrade. Why does this mean I'm staying home?"

"Because, if you go in today, she will kill you."

The statement was so absurd, was delivered in so matter-of-fact a tone, that it stunned her into silence. She fought to open her mouth, tried to fight back the rising nausea and splitting headache.

"You're joking," she said eventually.

"It is the only logical conclusion."

"How the hell is that logical?"

"We are bound to love our owners," said Lestrade. "To weigh their happiness above all else, so long as they live."

"This is ridiculous." Amy made to push her way past him. "I'm leaving."

"No."

His hand was a metal vice on her shoulder, unmoving. She looked into his eyes and saw nothing there. His pupils focused on hers, lenses sliding into alignment with a soft click.

"It is the way it is," he said.

"They're here," said Annabelle from number 37. She was standing at the window, looking out across the road.

"How many?" Lestrade asked, without turning.

"Eight. No, twelve... More."

He frowned. "I expected fewer."

"Twelve what?" Amy said.

"Companions," Lestrade said. "She brought friends. They're here for you."

She stared at him.

"It's all right," he said. "I have friends too. Their masters would be upset were something to happen to you."

"You're mad." She didn't think it would help.

"Perhaps. I am in love." A smile. "I will go to war for you."

And he did.

theblunderbuss
Jul 4, 2010

I find dead men rout
more easily.


crabrock posted:

26. blunderbuss

Fuschia tude posted:

The Logical Extreme

Thanks both for these here crits here.

theblunderbuss
Jul 4, 2010

I find dead men rout
more easily.


Let's do this. In.

theblunderbuss
Jul 4, 2010

I find dead men rout
more easily.


Turns out I got nothin' this week. I'm out.

theblunderbuss
Jul 4, 2010

I find dead men rout
more easily.


Kaishai posted:

awesome crits

Thanks for the crit, Kaishai!

theblunderbuss
Jul 4, 2010

I find dead men rout
more easily.


In.

theblunderbuss
Jul 4, 2010

I find dead men rout
more easily.


The Tale of Shirin Who Was Not a Princess
1,596 words

Edit: Consigned to the archive just in case.

theblunderbuss fucked around with this message at Dec 29, 2015 around 17:59

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theblunderbuss
Jul 4, 2010

I find dead men rout
more easily.


all three judges posted:

fast crits good crits

Thanks!

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