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Dec 11, 2013

by Pragmatica


1364 Words

Three heads… Check
Massive size… Check.
Decimated city… Check.

Doctor Miranda LeMieux fought with all her might to pick her jaw up from the floor of the observation tower. You’re full of poo poo Belmont, were the only words she’d managed to muster before agreeing to come to Baghdad. Here, with the evidence in plain sight below her she would say them again.

“You’re full of poo poo Belmont,” the words belied awe at being one of the first to witness the excavation. “There is no way that is a real goddamned dragon.”

“I almost wish you were right,” Professor Belmont laughed as Miranda jumped at the unexpected reply. “In fact, pulling off a forgery of this magnitude would be nearly as rewarding as confirming its authenticity. Your skepticism aside; I’m glad you could make it Miranda.”

“I wouldn’t miss it,” Miranda studied the face of her former colleague for signs of deception. She found nothing but a white smile and freckled skin framed by copper-red locks. “I’ll take any excuse to get out of the lab and into the field these days.” She turned back to study the mass or workers below, “this is going to be a hard sell Lisette. So go ahead, convince me.” Old emotions came flooding back as Lisette’s chin came to rest on her shoulder followed by a gentle embrace. The doctor pushed them aside almost as quickly as they had come, “You know I’m not going to let my feelings obscure my objectivity.”

Placing a gentle kiss on Miranda’s cheek Lisette whispered, “That is exactly why I wanted you to do the hard science, you know me and you know the tricks I’ve tried to pull in the past.” She nipped Miranda on the ear, “Now let's go get a closer look. The anatomy of this thing is going to blow your mind…”

“I suggest we start at the head,” Lisette was back to business by the time they’d reached the jeep waiting at the base of the tower. Zahhak has come out of the excavation completely intact but his skull is absolutely awe inspiring.”

Miranda fastened her seat belt, “let's take it from the top then…”

The dig site was impressive enough from the deck of the observation tower; here on the ground it was intimidating. The tail of the dragon had been uncovered by construction workers clearing ten acres for coalition forces to use an air base. In the ensuing months the excavation had expanded to cover nearly 5 square kilometers. This wasn’t just the discovery of a new species; the chance discovery had lead to an entire city being unearthed.

A self-satisfied smile crossed Lisette’s face as she piloted their vehicle to the far side of the dig. Miranda took no notice, completely enraptured by the sheer scale of the thing and asking questions she’d already seen the answers to on paper. Miranda wasn’t certain whether this was to confirm that she wasn’t dreaming or to see if Lisette would slip up and reveal this all to be a hoax.

“How long from head to tail?”

Forty-five meters.


Ninety-nine meters.

“You think this thing was an omnivore?”

Analysis of the skull and dentition indicate a varied diet.

“How in the gently caress did this thing get off the ground.”

I have no clue.

Doctor LeMieux was out of the jeep before it had come to a complete stop. Jogging she had reached the fallen monstrosity before Lisette had even turned off the engine. Awe-inspiring was an egregious understatement as far as Miranda was concerned. It was as if someone had yanked these bones from the pages of some fantasy novel and set them down gently amongst the ruins of an Ancient Persian city. The neck still encased in sediment Zahhak’s gaping maw sat open, as terrifying as it was inviting.

“I made sure to put a rush on separating the bone from the sandstone, figured you’d want to get as clear a picture as possible,” Lisette had finally caught up, “I didn’t realize they’d completely cleared all the debris.”

Miranda’s biting response came as she stepped into the dragon’s maw, “Or you could be using this as a way of misdirecting me… drawing my attention away from otherwise obvious signs of forgery.” Lisette had no reply, “Jesus Christ this thing is huge. You could have saved me from exercise if you’d just parked the Jeep in here.”

“As if I’d pass up an opportunity to see you run from that angle,”

Miranda’s cheeks flushed as Lisette eyed her with what she called the ‘up-down.’ Even here in the jaws of a dragon, she thought, Lisette Belmonte is still the apex predator.

“Given what we found near where you’d expect to find the stomach I imagine this little guy couldn’t do with much smaller of a mouth.” Lisette placed a hand on the beast’s massive incisor, “You’ll see that later. Come around here though.” Miranda obliged, gasping at what she found on the far side of the skull.

“We think that’s what killed it,” Lisette gestured to a massive iron spear protruding from just below the eye socket, “the anthropology crew has been bugging me to let them pull it for weeks. I figured it best to keep it there as knowing how anyone managed to kill this thing might provide some insight as to what in the hell it is exactly.” It was Lisette’s turn to blush now; finding herself on the receiving end of an appreciative smile of her long-time colleague and estranged lover. Silence floated between them for a moment. Eyes locked Lisette pressed on.

“Any thoughts so far?”

“The cranium is definitely more avian than it is reptilian, Probably Archaeopterygidae. So you can stop with the cryptozoological nonsense I know is bouncing around inside that bird-brain of yours. Stick to anthropology it’s what you’re good at.” Miranda knelt at the jaw hinge, “I’ve got major problems with the dentition though.” She traced a finger along the back four teeth, “even in common ancestors birds and reptiles don’t have specialized teeth. These molars and those incisors are a big red flag.”

“Well that’s disappointing,” Lisette offered a hand, “the first time I don’t try to falsify a find in years and it turns out too good to be true.”

“I’m not saying it's impossible just that it's unheard of.” Miranda stopped, not certain whether she was consoling a friend or compromising her objectivity, “honestly I’m not sure how anyone could pull off a con of this magnitude. Let’s go check out the wing structure, I’ve got some ideas about how this thing might have taken flight.”

A five minute walk and a lift from a boom-truck later Miranda found her skepticism fading away fast. Still she pressed Lisette for her insights; not certain if she wanted to catch her in a lie or see her tell the truth for once in her professional life.

Miranda tested her with a simple question. Pointing to an oddity in the hinge of the wing and asking, “what do you make of this?”

“I’d assume damage from the impact with the ground,” her face twisted as she searched for another possible explanation, “maybe some sort of bite mark from a territorial or mating dispute?”

Miranda pulled Lisette in to face her, “Try again.”

“Some sort of weight reduction maybe?”

“Nope…” Miranda smirked, already knowing the answer.

“I don’t know then,” Lisette’s face drooped as she looked down at her shoes, “like you said, stick to anthropology.”

“You have no idea how happy that makes me,” Miranda lifted her friend’s chin, leaning in close, “because if you were faking this it would be for no other reason than to convince everyone how intelligent you are. The fact that you don’t recognize that as a locking mechanism for soaring flight means that you aren’t lying about all this at the very least.” She pressed her lips firmly against Lisette’s.

“I’m not saying I believe this is some mythical beast given form in reality,” they kissed again. “I am saying that I believe you’re just as confounded as I am about all of this. That’s more important to me than anything.”


Dec 11, 2013

by Pragmatica

Gimme some legos.

Dec 11, 2013

by Pragmatica

Ptearin' Out My Heart
1200 Words

Zoe eyed her mom with the kind of disdain normally reserved for adultisms about finishing her peas for the sake of straw children starving in Africa.

“Where’s Professor Pierre O. Dactyl,” she asked. “He was right here on the couch waiting for me to finish my homework and now he’s gone.” Rage boiled up inside of her like magma in a volcano, “what did you do with him?”

“I thought he was one that you were donating,” the dismissive reply only stoked the flames anger, “I dropped him off at the thrift store with the rest of the toys you weren’t playing with.”

Zoe screamed for a solid thirty seconds at her mother’s nonchalant admission of betrayal, “he was my favorite,” she bellowed, “I was hunting cavemen with him two hours ago!”

“I’m sorry honey,” the apology fell on deaf ears, “but if you ask me you’re too old to be playing with stuffed animals anyway.”

“Get him back!” Zoe huffed, stomping her foot to show her mother how serious she was, “he wasn’t yours to give away so you have to bring him home.”

Her mother laughed in the condescending way all adults do when they know they’ve screwed up but are to stubborn to cede the moral high-ground.

“The thrift store is only a mile away,” Zoe braced herself for one of her mother’s impossible compromises, “here’s five dollars. If you can get yourself there you can buy him back.”

“I’m only six,” Zoe’s anger had morphed into incredulity, “how am I supposed to do that when you don’t let me go past the corner alone?”

Her mom knelt down looking her in the eye, “well if you hadn’t been such a brat about it and asked nicely I would have taken you myself. Now you’re on your own so figure it out.”

“Urrgh,” Zoe stomped up the stairs plotting her revenge the whole way.

She’d been pacing in her room well past her bed-time before coming to an epiphany.

I can’t go past the corner alone, the word rang in her head like a trumpet heralding her victory.

Alone, she mused, Shouldn’t be too hard to get around that one.

The next morning at school was a flurry of Byzantine deal making the likes of which Fritchie French Emersion had never before played host to.

She’d traded her weekend caring for the class guinea-pig, to Lazy Lizzie Linski for use of her bicycle.

For the meager price of 5 chocolate milk vouchers Zoe convinced Terry Thompson to act as a chaperone. Surely a fourth grader could be trusted to usher Zoe a mile down the road.

The last bit of bartering was the most painful.

Zoe didn’t like Felicia Flores one bit but she was the only person in their grade with a smart-phone. So dire was her need for a GPS that forfeiting ownership of her coveted holographic Dancing Dogs binder to a lousy tattle-tale felt like a bargain.

Having secured everything she needed to achieve the impossible the rest of the day flew by. With borrowed phone in hand and rented bicycle in tow she boarded the bus home ready to return Pierre to his rightful place at her side. Neither of her parents were home before she arrived. Terry needed fifteen minutes before he would be ready to go so Zoe took the time to leave a note for her Mom; stopping to admire the professional tone and general lack of spelling errors.

Dear Mom,

Going on a high-risk mission to extract a V.I.P. (Very Important Pterodactyl) from hostile forces at Sack’s Thrift Avenue. I’ve conscripted the help of a local (Terry Thompson) as my guide. I’m sorry for being mean, you are nice to me when I make mistakes and I should be nice to you when you make them too.

Be back soon,


Terry wasn’t chatty on a good day; apparently less so on company time. The GPS from that no-good snitch’s phone had more personality than he did. The only voice on their trip came in the form of a debonair British gentleman providing turn-by-turn directions. With not a word between them Zoe and her escort arrived at Sack’s.

Sack’s Thrift Avenue was the best. It wasn’t one of those stuffy outlets with boring clothes and sterile playthings lined up on shelves. Toys from the thrift store came complete with battle scars and tragic backstories; everything here was one-of-a-kind.

Zoe approached the extraction of Pierre at a liesurely pace that would be her undoing. Eventually spotting the pterodactyl perched atop a pile of inferior beasts with missing eyes and questionable upbringings. A tiny hand raced her own to the top of the heap. With a triumphant howl Zoe rescued Professor Dactyl from the clutches of a sad little boy with watery eyes and a quivering lip. The boy just sat quietly. His sad eyes followed her as she sauntered triumphantly to the registers.

She swapped the old lady at the counter five dollars for her prize and the warm-fuzzies that came with beating her mother at her own game. The victory would have been much sweeter were it not for the snot-nosed kid eyeing her like she’d kicked his puppy. Zoe pushed the thought of him to the back of her mind as she made for the exit.

The walk to the door wasn’t as triumphant as Zoe had anticpated. Her feet seemed to get heavier with each step, her eyes unable to look at anything other than the toy she had worked so hard to save.

“He didn’t even cry when I snatched you…”

She looked Pierre for guidance, then to the boy, and again to Pierre.

“Fine… traitor…”

With huff and a groan she turned back to the checkouts.

“What’s your name?”


“Well Walter this…” the child’s eyes flashed bright on seeing the stuffed pterosaur, “is Pierre O. Dactyl. Can you say that?”

“Pair o daddle.”

“Close enough,” She held Pierre in her open palm like some priceless artifact; taking a moment to admire the stains and stitches incurred in the grizzly Unicorn Revolt of ‘02.

“He is a professor of scientology that loves hunting cavemen.”

Walter blinked in amazement.

“Not historically accurate, I know... but it makes for good drama.”

Unsure of what was unfolding Walter’s dumbfounded stare turned to Zoe.

“Anyway he’s yours now,” Zoe shoved Pierre into the welcoming arms of his new keeper, “take care of him because he’s taken care of me.”

Satisfied at the enthusiasm with which Walter hugged Pierre she turned to leave.

“Oh poo poo,” Zoe covered her mouth. Shocked by the sight of her mother standing over her and at having cursed within earshot of her.

“I’ll overlook that one,” her mother’s voice rang with pride, “but only because that was a very nice thing you did.”

“I know,” Zoe muttered to her shoelaces, “It still sucks.”

“Well I’m proud of you,” Zoe’s mother hefted her up onto her shoulders, “let’s go to the bookstore... You can pick out whatever you want.”

Zoe met her mother’s offer with cautious optimism.


“Yep,” her mother looked up, “you’re going to want something something to read while you’re grounded.”

Dec 11, 2013

by Pragmatica

Neither failing nor accepting anything other than an HM worthy post out of myself...

I'll :toxx: that claim too...


Dec 11, 2013

by Pragmatica

In For Two This Week Because The Blood Queen Demands It
:toxx: on this one too I guess...

Just a regular toxx on this one though.

Dec 11, 2013

by Pragmatica

Salvage Law
3828 words
The one in which I foolishly :toxx:'d HM or Bust...

The command crew of the Leviathan sat before Thessalia wearing looks that ran the gauntlet from stunned silence to skeptical amusement. She’d gone into this briefing knowing that it would draw mixed reactions; she hadn’t planned on it dividing her officers so completely.

“Permission to speak frankly sir?”

Thessalia answered her first officer’s question with the appreciative smirk she could never keep off her face when looking at Lieutenant Jenkins. It was a look that never failed to provoke flushed cheeks and a downward gaze from her second in command.

Here in the ready-room Maura kept her composure.

Real Navy, the captain lamented silently, too respectful of rank and regulation to put herself first… (is this spoken dialogue? If so it should be in quotations unless theres something weird going on here.

“Your plan is batshit sir,” Maura’s words belied her disappointment. “Even if the Aegis had survived landfall I don’t expect it would be able to maintain life support let alone break atmo.”

“Duly noted.” Thessalia surveyed her officers. “Anybody else want to take a stab at breaking my heart today?”

A data-slate slid across the table coming to a clean stop at the captain’s fingertips. Thesallia thumbed through a few pages worth of bad news before looking up to the one delivering them.

“Those are the latest reports on Khanate fleet movements in the systems surrounding Parthia.” Strateo Norris sighed as disappointment darkened her features. “As much as we all would love to have old bucket of bolts back a salvage op is off the table.”

“The High Command is getting better at dealing with an insurgency it seems.” The captain flicked back and forth through the reports looking for some way to recover her old ship without losing the one they’d taken as restitution. “Take a look at this.”

With a tap on the corner of the data-slate, the room darkened. Pale greens and deep blues washed over the awed faces of her officers as the abstract numbers of registry numbers and their coordinates were given life as a hologram projected from the table.

Norris’ tone had gone from crestfallen to offended, “Why am I just now finding out about the glossy hologram table of strategic miracles?”

“Because I just found out about it before calling this briefing.” Laughter from her officers filled the ready-room putting Thessalia at ease. She steeped in the warmth of camaraderie for a moment before getting back to business.

“The Khanate has a pretty devious trap laid out for us.” Tapping a few images Thessalia brought a few key systems into focus on the display. “We can get into the system any number of ways but with the power required to escape the star’s pull. We’re going to light up every dial and doodad on every ship within sensor range.”

Every face in the room went deadpan. A few faces in the dark slowly contorted under the strain of finding an answer to a question not yet asked.

With her best sailors hinging on her every word Thessalia filed her request, “I’m not giving up on salvaging the Aegis just yet. Engineering gives a best-worst-case scenario of two-hundred hours to get that tub space worthy again.”

The captain rose from her seat. A chorus of clicking heels and harmonious ‘sir’ echoed through the room as the assembled officers snapped to attention.

“If we don’t think we can make it happen then we won’t try, but I’ll be goddamned if I don’t think it’s worth trying. I’m giving you two days to come up with a way to pull it off. If we don’t have something by then I’ll deep-six my homesick and we’ll go back to doing hit-and-runs to avoid getting our asses kicked.” Dropping the data-slate on the table Thessalia made for the door. “You’ve got two days free of regular duties to come up with a plan sufficiently ludicrous to impress me.”

Sixteen hours later, Captain Anthony stood atop the observation deck of the the shuttle bay. She wasn’t usually the type to get pre-mission jitters but the insanity in which she was about to partake demanded a bit of apprehension.

“You’re loving crazy Jenkins, you know that?”

“Aye sir,” her lieutenant replied with a smile, “but only as ordered by my commanding officer.”

“So run down how this plan is going to work one last time before I die trying to pull it off.”

“We’re flying at the rock the Aegis splashed down on at full tilt. We’re going to cut engines just before entering the system relying on momentum to carry us the rest of the way.”

“Sounds simple enough.”

“We’re gonna hit the moon’s atmosphere. With a little luck and a whole lot of skill, we’ll skip off without losing too much speed. Assuming perfect timing, we’ll dump the shuttles just fast enough that they won’t need to fire their engines but just slow enough that they won’t be dragged in our wake. From there you just need to track down your ship and pull off an impossible amount of repair work before the Khanate sends a ship to investigate.”

“What’s the margin of error on our approach?” Thessalia chewed at her thumbnail; an old nervous habit that she hadn’t succumbed to in years.

Lieutenant Jenkins looked her captain square in the eye; her worst tinted with uncharacteristic humor, “I assure you Thess you don’t want me to answer that.”

“Humor me.”

Maura laughed. “If it goes tits up you’ll have the good fortune to die almost instantly.”

Thessalia placed her hands on Maura’s shoulders. “You know Maura you really know how to put a girl at ease…”

“I try sir,” Maura said with a smirk. “Look at it this way… at least this way we don’t risk losing the Leviathan too.”

“Not helping Jenkins.”

Klaxons rang through the corridors of the Leviathan followed by a call for all hands to stations. Launch crews streamed out onto the flight deck below. The choreographed beauty of hundreds of individuals working in concert wasn’t enough to draw Thessalia’s eyes from Maura. Her stare was fixed firmly on her first officer as she studied the features of the most beautiful and loyal companion a woman cold hope for.

“That’s my cue. It was Thessalia’s turn to blush as she committed Maura’s face to memory. “Wish me luck.”

Maura tightened the chest-straps on her captain’s flight suit before pulling her into a long kiss.

“Try not to die,” she whispered. “If we’re on separate vessels we can deep-six my worries about fraternization.”

“Well if that’s the case, I’ll see you in my quarters on the Aegis in 200 hours. Clothes are optional.”

The captain pulled on her helmet before sliding down the ladder to the flight-deck proper. Jogging the distance to her shuttle she tapped a button on her helmet, sending her voice echoing through every station and hallway of the Leviathan.

“You all know what we’re here to do. It may seem impossible but know that we’ve come out of far greater odds unscathed in the past. Pulling off the unfathomably stupid is what makes us Amazons!”

The captain paused. If she knew her crew, they’d be cheering at the top of their lungs at that declaration. Imagining that the din had died down she continued.

“Let’s make certain this isn’t the last act of lunacy we commit together. Lieutenant Jenkins has the bridge while I’m gone. I expect you to follow her orders without question in my absence. If she says to blow the Aegis out of the sky when we get that old hulk up and running I expect the only argument to be who pulls the trigger.”

Thessalia double-checked her restraints before opening the windscreen of the shuttle. “I’ll see you all in 8 days. Captain Anthony out…”

The pilot of Thessalia’s shuttle was a jittery young man by the name of Ogedei. With an authoritative tap of his helmet he signaled his passengers to switch to the local comm channel before proceeding with his launch briefing.

“Good evening passengers. this is your pilot Ogedai Shen speaking. Today we’ll be making the short trip to the desert moon of Karakorum from the shuttle bay of the Leviathan. Our elevation at takeoff will be negligently close and we’ll be making our final approach at a velocity well beyond what this tin can is cleared for.”

The engineers on the shuttle laughed at that. The marines just exchanged nervous glances. The pilot continued.

“We’re looking at a total travel time of oh poo poo between wheels up and wheels down and are cleared for ejection from the shuttle bay in thirty seconds. Now would be a good time to fasten your seatbelts and prepare yourselves for survivor’s guilt.”

There was a metallic clunk as the shuttle released its parking clamps. Thessalia felt her stomach lurch as the craft lifted gently off the deck of the shuttle bay. Karakorum and its host gas giant were now visible in the distance. The captain mused on how rare it was to realize just how terrifyingly fast space travel was as the moon grew ever larger in the viewport.

The launch controller counted down as they drew closer to their target. It felt as though an entire lifetime passed between each of those final fifteen seconds.


The captain admired the beauty the gas giant as a vein of chromium gas wove its way through a purple cloud of permanganate.


She hoped that Maura would remember to take care of her fish after she died.


We can do this… she failed to convince herself.


In an instant they were tumbling through the void; the Leviathan streaking off in the distance, already just a speck of black against the light of the system’s star.

Thessalia felt nothing but incredible loneliness.

They fell towards the moon in silence for what felt like hours. The captain was only brought back to reality by the frantic buzzing of an alarm and flashing red lights throughout the cockpit.


“Flat spin,” the pilot barked. “Very bad but at least we weren’t dragged into the black by the Leviathan’s wake.” As shaky as he’d seemed prior to launch, Ogedai was in the zone under pressure. Flipping switches with the kind of confidence that could only come from having averted death a thousand times prior, he looked to Thessalia.

“I need your help getting this bird to cooperate.”

Thessalia turned to her pilot, her eyes pleading for guidance. “Tell me what I can do.”

“Get the airfoils out!”

Thessalia deployed the wings and rudder without question. The sudden loss of speed threw her forward into her restraints, stealing the air from her lungs.

“Done,” the word came out between gasping breaths as she struggled to inflate her lungs in the thin atmosphere provided by her helmet.

“We need to get our nose pointed down.” Ogedai was unshakable. He flipped another switch and a pair of flight sticks deployed between the legs of pilot and copilot. Easing the throttle forward he looked his captain square in the eye. “Watch my controls and do as I do. We’re going to need to wrestle this thing into cooperating with us.”

Thessalia mirrored the motions of Ogedei as he expertly worked to assume control of the plummeting craft. After what felt like an eternity, the shuttle was streaking like an arrow down towards the steppes of Karakorum.

Thessalia had finally caught her breath. “Now what,” she panted.

“Pull up slowly,” Ogedai instructed, “and try not to blackout.”

Thessalia kept both hands on the stick and an eye on the altimeter as she followed Ogedei’s lead. Staying conscious was a tall order as the closer the shuttle got to level, the thicker the black rings at the edge of her vision got.

They had just barely saved themselves from becoming one with the scenery. The altimeter took up what was left of Thessalia’s sight. Another hundred meters and it would have been the last thing the captain ever saw.

Captain Thessalia Anthony blacked out, uncertain if it was due to relief, exhaustion or the g-forces finally besting her efforts to keep the blood flowing to her brain.


On the bridge of the Leviathan Lieutenant Jenkins found herself with the unforeseen consequences of not smashing her ship into a moon.

“Orders Captain?” the comm specialist had asked her the same question three times in as many minutes and Maura still didn’t have an answer. “The Drumheller is requesting a parlay. They want to know if we’ll host or if they need to.”

Jenkins chewed her lip in search of the answer. “Who’s wears the pointy hat on that boat?”

“Registry shows a Vice Admiral Ackerman wearing the pointy captain’s hat Sir.”

Maura pushed the panic brewing inside her to the back of her mind, hoping the Admiral was still a friendly face.

“I’ll take him in the ready-room,” She stated. “Have the escort team track down some N.C.O. uniforms. We need to all look like real navy when he comes aboard.”

“Aye sir.”

Now to to dig out my old set of whites, Maura pondered if she even remembered how to wear a real navy uniform.


Thessalia awoke to the barking voice of Stratego Norris directing the repair crews from a roughshod wheelchair planted in the sand beside her bed.

“Get up you big baby,” Norris teased. “You’ve been out for ten hours. Some of us would kill for that luxury.”

The captain groaned. Pushing herself upright she gave in to gravity allowing herself to fall back onto the cot.

“Five more minutes.” she whined. Burying her head under her pillow she pled to Norris, “All I want is five more minutes.”

“You’re the captain,” Norris gave a condescending smile. “Just keep in mind I’m not reheating this coffee when it gets cold.”

“Fine I’m up.” Thessalia stretched before accepting Norris’ offer. “What’s the sitrep?”

“Better than expected.” The stratego shifted her focus to the hulking silhouette of the Aegis in the distance. “Automated systems brought that old death trap down in mostly one piece. Most of the fixing is splicing blown electrics and patching hull breaches.”

Norris winced as she adjusted her position in the wheelchai. “Unfortunately comms and sensors are fried and we weren’t accounting on having to fix those. We’ll be heading back into the void totally blind when we’re back up and running. Three of five shuttles have the aerodynamic properties of bricks now so we’re salvaging what we can from them.”

“I was talking about the crew,” Thessalia didn’t mean to sound so short but was too fatigued to issue an apology. “Did we lose anybody.”

“Just you for half a day. Hard landings put a couple engineers and a handful of grunts in club-med. In all reality that’s the worst of our casualties.” Norris pointed to the slapdash cast wrapped around her unsettlingly crooked shin. “So I hear you’ve got a weak stomach and a knack for atmo-flight?”

Thessalia gave her strategic officer a puzzled stare.

“What do you mean?”

“Just after leveling out you turned your helmet into a fishbowl.”

The captain sighed, suddenly aware of the stench of vomit permeating her hair.

“The enlisteds aren’t going to let me live that down, are they?”
Turning her chair to face the captain, Norris put on a devious grin. “Even if they do drop it at some point you can rest assured that I never will.”

A smile painted itself onto the face of the captain., “That’s fine I’m used to it coming from you.” She pushed herself to her feet. “Wouldn’t happen to know if the showers on that tub are up and running would you?”

“Never stopped working,” Norris replied.

“Good. I’m going to go clean off this puke before I get covered in elbow grease.”


Maura snapped to attention as Vice Admrial Lance Ackerman stepped into the ready-room. He was a rugged man. Handsome in his old age with a warm smile buried under a face marred with the scars of a lifetime at war.

“Sir!” Maura’s right hand snapped up in salute, dropping in sync with the admiral’s as he returned the gesture.

“Good to see you captain,” he said as he closed the distance between them. “Now, since we’ve dispensed with the formalities of rank how about you give your grandpa a hug?”

Maura obliged, pulling her grandpa in close. “How’s mom?”

“Worried about you. Captain Yamamoto said you’d gone native after your demotion and joined up with the revolt.”

Maura looked at her toes, fully aware that the Vice Admiral could see through the lie she was forming in her head.

“That’s just not true,” Maura’s words carried no conviction as they left her mouth.

“Don’t lie to me Maura. I want the truth.” The vice admiral didn’t sound angry. It wasn’t even tainted with a tinge of disappointment. “Do you believe what you’re doing is right?”

“Yes sir,” resolute sincerity rang proud in her voice, “I absolutely do.”

“That’s all I need to know then.” Her grandfather smiled at her with the same warmth he had at her graduation from the Naval Academy, “So, tell me how I can help.”

Maura looked dumbstruck at her grandfather. “What will you tell your crew about helping us?”

“The same lie you were going to tell me,” he said with a grin, “that you’re working as an operative gaining intelligence on the resistance and that we don’t plan on compromising that operation.

The lieutenant embraced her grandfather once more, grateful for his mercy but terrified of his insight into her behavior.


Back on the ground the Aegis was ready for the do or die moment. Thessalia had always felt that it was the best ship in the void, a fact the grace of its auto-landing only served to confirm. She stood on the bridge, confident in the quality of their repairs.

“Let’s get off this rock,” she shouted.

“Aye sir.” The helmsman’s control interface lit up and he began the series of keystrokes that would set them on a launch trajectory.

“Everybody strap in.” The captain’s advice was unnecessary. Not a single member of the bridge crew wasn’t already firmly lashed to their chair as the front end of the battle cruiser tilted off the ground.

“Ten seconds to vertical,” the helmsman's voice rang through the ship as the ship turned perpendicular to the desert floor. A soft thud announced that they were ready for takeoff.

It was Thessalia’s turn to address the skeleton crew. With a few keystrokes she was ready to broadcast through the whole vessel.

“We may have gotten this tub space worthy again,” she began, “but we’re far from green as far as getting home is concerned. Sensors and comms are both down and we have no clue what we’re going to find when we break atmo so be on alert.”

She paused, running through the list of repairs that hadn’t been completed either out of urgency or lack of proper materials.

“The two big guns are ready to blaze but outside of that we’re defenseless so play it smart and don’t be quick to open fire.” With a sudden realization, she lamented their lack of ammunition. “Actually don’t fire at all,” the caption continued, “I’d rather have to break out of prison than survive the vacuum. I’m not normally one to consider surrender an option but if we encounter surrender stand down.”

Thessalia adjusted the harnesses of her captain’s chair one last time. “Enough rambling out of me though, let’s get on with it then shall we? Approaching escape velocity in in t-minus five.”

The launch thrusters fired up, filling the ship with the fiery roar of a star.


The rest of the bridge crew snapped into action. It would take more than a lowly helmsman to get this tube airborne.


Slowly the hulking pile of metal rose from the desert floor. Once more Thessalia felt sick.


Faster now, the horizon in the skylight creeped lower and lower as their altitude increased.


Thessalia’s heart was pushed against her spine as the escape thrusters turned to full power. The sky grew darker every second. Once more she fought the g-forces to keep blood flowing to her brain, this time she was successful. After an eternity the force of acceleration ceased, ushering the captain back to the comfort of weightlessness.

“Good job everybody,” her compliment echoed through the corridors of the Aegis. “Now for the hard part; getting home in one piece.”


The Drumheller and the Leviathan sat in high orbit like a pair of raptors. Sensors and eyes alike scanning the surface of the moon for the telltale signs of a launch.

First a brilliant flash of white as the launch engines flared.

Then a brilliant streak of white smoke as the escape thrusters fired.

Then the growing silhouette of the Aegis in the viewport.

Thessalia had her comms specialist hailing the Aegis at the first sign of recover. No response. She hoped the presence of their companion wouldn’t scare them off.


We’re hosed. Thessalia did not see the presence of the sector flagship for the Khanate as a good omen. We’re hosed and Jenkins is going to be forced to shell us to oblivion.

“Alright clowns I’m tasking you with finding a way to figure out what the gently caress happened that we’re staring death in the eye.”

The crew did not seem enthused, but they set to work regardless as she did some brainstorming of her own. Ideas bounced from ensign to lieutenant to captain, none ever seeming good enough.

“Morse code.”

The suggestion was barely a whisper. It had come from a tactical officer seated at the trigger of the big guns.

“Repeat that Commander,” The captain’s order was harsh. She didn’t have time for anyone to play coy.

The tactician cleared his throat of the uncertainty that had muted his earlier declaration.

“Morse code,” he continued. Old earth boats used flashing lights to send messages over short distances.”

“Get on with it then,” Thessalia barked. “Tell the Aegis that we’re willing to stand down if they’ll escort us to dry dock for prisoner processing.”

The beacon on the bow of the ship flashed in a sequence of longs and shorts. The tactical officer worked furiously to translate the message.

“Captain Maura Jenkins says we’re all clear to head back to friendly waters,” he stated. “Apparently the Admiral in charge of the Drumheller is going to act as escort to talk down any hostiles.”

“Send a reply.” the captain thanked her lucky stars. Her triumphant grin betraying an intent the crew had long suspected she continued, “Tell her I expect her in my quarters to explain exactly how in the hell she pulled that off at zero-dark-thirty.”

The tactical officer gave Thessalia a knowing smile, “Aye captain… Responding now.”

Somehow Captain Anthony’s crew had pulled off the impossible once more.

Dec 11, 2013

by Pragmatica

The Fires Of Discontent:
[/i]1481 Words[/i]
:toxx: Number 2... The Normal One

The room is lavishly furnished. Dozens of GUESTS are assembled in the area; mingling amongst themselves and speaking of the issues of the day. Everyone is dressed in late medieval garb. CHARLOTTE DESJARDINS stands out among them. Her raven black hair stands in stark contrast of her fair complexion and the impeccable emerald dress draped over her body. She raises a glass of thick red liquid to ARASPASIA OF CARTHAGE; a girl of about sixteen with blond hair and a spectrally pale complexion. The latter casts no reflection in the mirror behind them.

To the embers of revolution. May the winds of change fan them into a conflagration which engulfs the dead wood of tradition in a conflagration of progress.

Araspasia raises her own chalice, offering an appreciative not to her guest.


I understand that a place where our lot drop eaves like filthy habits but I do think it's prudent that we schedule a time to discuss your propositions in detail.

A most reasonable request. I shall dispatch my viceroy in these coming nights with a secure location to do so.

Araspasia’s eyes linger on Charlotte for a moment as she sizes up her new ally. Taking another sip she continues.

Forgive my prying, but how many nights have you been of our condition?

I’ve been a childe of Caine since just after the founding of the Sardonne. In fact I was born an orphan. A privilege I’m quite glad to have been granted as I traded my services to the university in exchange for a meager education.

Active for a mere half-century. I must say however humble your learning may have been you’ve put it to devastating use.

Araspasia studies Charlotte over the rim of her glass, more intensely this time. Licking the dark blood from her lips she raises her own toast.

To the tenacity of youth. Lacking in wisdom though it may be the young of heart make up for such deficits with fiery ambition and urgency of deed.

The two clink glasses. Charlotte drinks deeply.

What of you priestess… You carry the wisdom of an ancient yet here you are plotting the destruction of your peers.

I’m young at heart. In my old age I’ve found that the fountain of youth is filled with drive and ambitions.

Charlotte raises her glass. This time she is the one to size up her acquaintance.

Wisdom I will be sure to live by.

Charlotte surveys the room with unapologetic scrutiny, taking in the motley assortment of street urchins and wealthy merchants as she sips from her glass.

I’m curious. What odds to you give our fledgling movement.

The children of the night are not a cohesive lot.

She follows Charlotte’s eyes around the room, fleeting expressions fleeting subtly across her face hinting at her feelings for each of the attendees.

The prejudices of our clans and their progenitors are often contagious within the blood. I consider that our biggest obstacle in these coming nights... It’s rare to find one such as yourself who is so willing to cast away the sins of our fathers. Rarer still is it to find one so vocal in their opposition to such bigotry.

Araspasia polishes off the contents of her glass, setting it gently atop a buffet as her upper-lip stiffens as contempt makes itself known on her face.

Our self interest will be our undoing. I must say though I am skeptical of your insistence that violence is the only path to reform.

Araspasia’s expression softens as she looks back to Charlotte.

So how are you adjusting to Prague?

Quite well actually, I find it quite similar to Paris in many regards…

The two are cut short by the CONCIERGE clearing his throat before announcing another guest.

Introducing Baron Marcus Dahl and his childe Misha… Baron of Ostrovia.

Charlotte and Araspasia exchange a mutual expression of surprise and hatred, turning their eyes to the new arrivals as the rest of the room falls silent. MARCUS DAHL is of jet black hair and coldly noble. Garbed in the finest robes bohemia has to offer his mere presence commands the attention of those around him. His associate MISHA is younger than he though of similar pedigree. He dons more practical effects, sporting a sword on his hip and a disdainful mien as he leads his sire into the room.

The baron walks with haughty deliberation, clapping slowly he stops at the buffet and pours himself a drink.

I must say I am impressed.

Each of the attendees withdraws in fear. Charlotte and Araspasia step forward, flushed red with anger and fuming.

I’d say I was offended at my lack of an invite, but I do not make a habit of lying.

What are you doing here Marcus?

Just sizing up my competition. I must say it is not much by my approximation.

Charlotte pushes forward still. She’s stopped in her tracks as Misha’s sword flashes from its sheath, coming to a halt with its tipped pressed firmly against her jugular.

Now, now young one. I wouldn’t want my progeny to be responsible for shedding blood at a peaceful congregation.

(spitting mad)
Go gently caress yourself, baron, you’re neither invited nor welcome to this gathering.

Dahl sips from his glass. Reveling in the moment a moment before looking at Charlotte with an almost paternal affection.

Such strong words from one of such weak blood. I do apologize for the intrusion… I assure you however I will be brief.

The baron downs the rest of his drink, ceremoniously smashing the empty glass against the marble floor. Charlotte directs the blade at her throat away with a single finger.

In the interest of brevity I’ll leave you with this statement of truth.

His aloofness fades; leaving only an aura of commanding certainty…

(looking directly at ARASPASIA)
I will have this city… Be it by fiat or force I will ruin the denizens of the region both Cainite and cattle alike.

Araspasia steps forward. Eyes red and fangs bared she has the demeanor of a predator ready to strike.

And should we refuse?

Should you decline my offer I am more than happy to send a legion of my finest knights on horseback to broker the exchange.

And I will be happy to send those knights back to you in boxes.

A fleeting expression of affection flickers within the features of Dahl as he gives the most shallow of bows to Araspasia and Charlotte.

Well then I look forward to our next meeting. There is little more I find as satisfying subduing the passions of the insubordinate.

Dahl surveys the guests of the party once more before turning on his heel. Commanding his charge over his shoulder as he ascends the stairs.

Come along Misha.

As you wish sire.

Not a second after the two exit the room erupts in a dozen frenzied conversations. Charlotte and Araspasia return their focus to one another; mutual hatred still ringing clear in their voices.


A butler passes by with a platter loaded heavy with goblets full of blood. Charlotte snatches one as he passes, downing half of it in a single pull.

That is why we need to destroy the foundations of power within our ranks. Not even half a century damned and I am already infuriated by those of elder status.

Araspasia’s complexion is fading back to its original fairness. She takes the glass from Charlotte and finishes the remaining blood.

Now my good friend, I would like you to imagine half a millennia living with that very sentiment.

Araspasia throws her glass hard against the mirror in which she is unable to see herself. It shatters; once again the room falls silent.

I can not in good faith say that it was you alone who swayed me to this decision. That said I declare my loyalty, resources, and forces to your cause. Any aid you request of me I will provide to the fullest extent of my abilities.

Charlotte makes no effort to disguise the relief that washes over her as she offers a hand to her new ally.

I can not thank you enough priestess. Your voice will be a beacon for the disenfranchised throughout the civilized world. I look forward to the bonds we will forge and the victories we will achieve.

I am but one of many who share our sentiments. It will take more than the two of us to effect real change in the nights to come.


Dec 11, 2013

by Pragmatica

So that I can post a brief crit on everything this week and a couple of line crits.
As soon as those are in bring the hammer down and I'll see you all on Friday...
Or just ban me as soon as judging is in and I'll post when I fork over the :tenbux:
I would like to giveth the feedback before it comes down on me.

Sitting Here posted:

I'm not asking anyone to read and critique the whole week (only crazy people would do that).
You rang?
:toxx: to have at least a couple lines of feedback on each story by 11:59 PM Wednesday assuming I somehow HM'd or the banhammer hasn't yet come down...

SkaAndScreenplays fucked around with this message at 11:18 on Jan 17, 2017

Dec 11, 2013

by Pragmatica

sebmojo posted:

Anyone can call in a toxx, I won't do it until the crits are up, can't speak for anyone else.

You are a gentleman and a scholar sir.

Dec 11, 2013

by Pragmatica

Your Soul My Crits:
Installment One Of Three...

DJESER: Wake Up In The Morning Feelin' Like E. Tiddy
Fun story. Given the absurdity of your toxx I'm glad this came out as enjoyable as it did.

ME: Salvage Law
A sequel of your best story to date was a daring move but the characters were again likeable. Ending is a little too convenient (just like last time) and I have a feeling you were worried about bloating your wordcount with how rushed you are coming to a conclusion. Pacing is otherwise decent but there's a lot of character building without any payoff plot wise.

ME: Fires of Discontent
Script format of boring vampire politics that is kind of bad but okay dialogue exchange. You could have done well to provide more context to the conflict.

Goddamned you. How do you do so much with so few words? This is super ambiguous and it draws so much power from that fact. The only thing stronger than your imagery is the overall allegory. It hurts to read in the best way. High concept in that anyone who reads it will probably find something to identify with.

JAY W. FRIKS: Outside A View
This formatted really weird in the archive and I'm not sure if it is deliberate. Either way it makes it hard to follow. Some of the phrasing is sloppy.


It moves closer. It leaves an envelope from her desk on the cement railing. She opens it up, slicing away the logo
of her father’s company with one of her long uncut nails. They aren’t painted or manicured but left to grow from a fear
of nicking the cuticle. It’s the image of the eye from her exhibit.
The formatting is a really really big obstacle to reading this. Not sure if it just copied bad from your word processing program or what but I just can't get over my eyes shooting all over the page due to erroneous line breaks in the middle of sentences...

JITZU THE MONK: Soul, The Contents Emptied
I find this abstract in a refreshing way. It reads like a creation myth for the digital age. The repetition of thirteen helps solidify it as some sort of modern mythology. All in all a nice read; the growing despair of Ankh & Net's attempts at unity becomes more and more powerful with each iteration. The ending is satisfying in the way it circles back to AnkhNet once again being a single entity as your malevolent god fin.

A solidly depressing (as in being empathetic not just pathetic) lamentation of capitalism if there ever were one. The futility of a mother's struggle weighs heavy in each sentence. It never loses the tone of struggle and the bleakness is clear from the start.

BOAZ-JACHIM: Before The Lion, He Laid Bare
The opening paragraphs are a bit dry but I can see where this is going so its forgivable. The story nested within a story nested within a story is handled well. My main complaint is that your sentences are very long throughout the story. If you're making allusions to existing works of literature or existing fables I'm not picking up on those easter eggs but I'm uncultured and underread by my own assessment. The shift two first person at the end is a bit jarring too. I get that it's epistolary/anecdotal in styling but I think a taste of that in the first two paragraphs would have helped more than it hurt.

PRESTER JANE: The Cave Adventure
Effectively A Line Crit...
The narrative struggles with too many parenthetical intrusions and lost some voice due to them. The dialogue is really rigid with punctuation about as atrocious as mine is.[url = ""] I think DocKlock is to thank for this super helpful link but I'd bet that pretty much every one of the vets has linked it at some point...[/url]
The dialogue attribution is clumsy and repetitive as well. You've got a decent chunk of redundant phrasing that drags things down as well.


The Square Holes was the border of the deepest we had ever been in the cave. They were large square holes Well no poo poo... (big enough for Nathan to crawl halfway into) in the cave wall, stacked on top of each other going from the cave floor to higher than Nathan or I could reach.
As Nathan is the narrator's brother you can refer to him as that without confusion...

I pointed my foot towards towards Nathan's voice and took a slow step, gingerly putting my weight down lightly until I was sure I had found a flat part of the cave floor.
This is far and away the worst sentence I've read so far this week. You've got three different words all implying cautious movment and none of them are very strong. The whole story up until this point has been absurdly passive in voice and this chunk is far and away the worst offender thus far.

In past cave adventures we had found many interesting things to play with in the square holes.

“Lets go deeper now” Nathan said This is pretty drat bland, his voice sounding weird HOW! as it came from the inside bottom Square Hole. I felt giddy emotions are visceral give me some standard of comparison little kids are all about similies so use that to your advantage as I started to feel Using 'feel' in two different contexts within the same sentence is bad along the far side of the Square Holes.

Next to the holes was the Soft Wall,
a wall of thick soft material
:siren:OH poo poo REALLY?:siren:
that came down from the top of the cave and stopped above the floor

Nathan and I had both felt the edges of the Soft Wall before but had never ventured into it.
This sentence is absolutely flavorless and does nothing for the story...

Nathan was a much better crawler than I was, so he started to feel his way on all fours, inching his way into the gap underneath the Soft Wall. I pushed my hand into the Soft Wall, and found a place where the wall gave and my hand was able to slide inside the wall. Feeling a sudden rush of adventure I pushed onwards, and soon the Soft Wall WE GET THAT YOU'RE AT THE SOFT WALL SO PLEASE STOP REFERRING TO IT AS SUCH enveloped first my shoulders, and then my entire chest. I pushed You have a serious problem with repeating the same words way too loving soon and often in the same sentence. This is far and away the most maddneing thing about this story so far in deeper.

Getting out of the Soft Wall was much easier than getting in, and I emerged into darkness that was suddenly cool and refreshing. Nathan was near my feet, crawling from under the Soft Wall. Happy from my adventure, I sat down on the cave floor next to him.

Within moments Nathan and I were back near the cave entrance and the tiny slit of horizontal light that it provided. We soon created a game of taking turns guessing how the Mom shoe would land before tossing it. We became swept up in our game and lost ourselves, forgetting that we needed to keep quiet right now. We started tossing the mom shoe further and higher each time, until on my turn I tossed it a little too hard and it thudded into the far cave wall, and then thudded again when it hit the floor. From outside the cave we heard a series of angry thuds moving in our direction.
-----I am so totally hosed for trying to interperet what in the actual gently caress a "Mom shoe" is or why I should donate one of the increasingly few fucks I have left for this story to understand...

The closet door burst open and Mom stood there, outlined in the light and staring angrily.
----------Even still the voice is so passive and the word choice so flat that it's a disappointment.
---------------- Are they sent to this closet as punishment? Was there a reference to them escaping punishment on their expidition? If they are sent to a closet as punishment that's loving tragic but not as tragic as the storytelling up until this point.

“You two kids need to stop roughhousing, punishment time is not play time,she said sternly, her eyes blazing
The very redundant phrasing is abound in this repetitive sentence and is punishable by exile to the closet...

“Do you need to go peepee go poopoo?” she asked. Both Nathan and I shook our heads no. She started to turn to close the door when I spoke up.
gently caress this line; gently caress it sideways with a mom-shoe...

Some deeply unsatisfying conclusion.
The ending of this story should have been teased better throughout the narrative. Seriously though how loving big is this closet.

The mom could have been made out to be a loving monster but she just comes off as an irrational poo poo-demon with zero motivation.

“Its still two hours. Keep whining and it will be three.” And with that the door closed, and Nathan and I were plunged back into darkness.
The story should have ended here.
This was so bad. Even with 22 more stories left to crit I'm willing to bet that this emerges as the clear loser. So thanks for the save on that from my second submission I guess.

I feel bad for being so harsh on your first TD entry. I'm normally not one to give scathing crits but this suffered from so many problems I find it hard to sugar-coat anything about it.

Don't take that as me saying you should quit writing. Everybody has bad weeks and for all any of us know this may just be one of those for you. Maybe the vagueness of the prompt didn't help much or maybe you just weren't feeling it.

Write more and you'll write better.

gently caress it I'm not going back to fix the bad links and formatting tags.
gently caress it I fixed them anyways...

SkaAndScreenplays fucked around with this message at 10:39 on Jan 17, 2017

Dec 11, 2013

by Pragmatica

SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

This is the first week in literally years that everybody has submitted

for our hubris, we are being punished. there will be no FJ tonight

Flerp and I submitted twice no less.

Dec 11, 2013

by Pragmatica

SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

interprompt: Sebmojo can eat a dick

Sebmojo stared at his plate of dick with disdain written on his face.
Like literally... Disdain was scrawled in Sharpie on his forehead.
From an early age everyone, even his mother, had told him to eat a dick.
Here he was presented with his opportunity yet found it impossible to cut into the tender phallus his love had prepared for him.

"I CAN DO THIS," he would exclaim as he put knife to knob. Alas it was futile, he had not the fortitude to gorge on man-flesh.

Muffin yelled in mockery from the opposite corner of their tiny island.

It was all Sebmojo needed. Casting the fork aside and throwing the knife into the wall he declared to the gods.

"I CAN," the bearded kiwi raised the charred cock above his head as if he were the mighty Thor raising Mjolnir in triumph, "NO! I WILL EAT THIS DICK!"

In one mighty gulp he swallowed his pan-seared penis whole. Growling in satisfaction and triumph at having proven his neighbor wrong.

Dec 11, 2013

by Pragmatica

Sitting Here posted:

Alright, that brings us to....our loser!

Goons, sometimes you step up to take an admirable risk and you fail. Them's just the breaks.

Sometimes you make promises that are too big to keep.

Sometimes you sign up for Thunderdome twice and commit to multiple layers of :toxx: to show up some shitposting babby millennial named flerp. Sometimes you promise the judges that you've scanned for errors and typos, and then forget to delete pre-crits from your entry. Sometimes you submit really early and neglect to use the extra time to improve your story.

Thunderdome, I give to you what is (I believe) our first ever double loser! SkaAndScreenPlays, I know you can write a decent screenplay. I've read at least one. And I know you can write fun space action and military banter, because you've HMed for it before. But you got so swept up in the spirited bloodletting of this week that you forget to make sure you were giving me quality blood.

Your scifi was too convoluted, and the stakes were never really as high as the narrative wanted them to be. I genuinely enjoyed the first installment of this story when it HMed a few weeks ago, but this iteration was overwritten and lacked the interpersonal tension that the original had. Your screenplay could've been the pilot to an NBC vampire drama that lasts all of one season. I know you can do quirky characters and I know you can do screenplays, but you did neither this week, on top of a :toxx: so hubristic that it makes Icarus's flight to the sun look like a humble pilgrimage by comparison.

So enjoy, my friend. You earned it. If you can't succeed, at least fail spectacularly.

Dec 11, 2013

by Pragmatica

Kaishai posted:

Critiques for Week CCXXIX: I'm Dreaming of a Fallout 4 Christmas
SkaAndScreenplays, "Throw Another Yule Log On The Ceasefire"

Oddly enough, the very thing I most dislike about this is what makes it hard to dislike it more. This story is trying, through a fog of terrible punctuation, to be heartwarming. Walter is such a Tiny Tim of a character that the results of the effort are saccharine, not sweet--the whole "story" is him making soldiers cry with incredibly thoughtful Christmas gifts. Of course none of them made anything for him in return, or he might not so clearly be Heaven's perfect angel! The soldiers can't appreciate Christmas miracles until a little child shows them the way! Ugh. But how mad can one be with an attempt to be heartwarming on Christmas? It would be like booing a cheesy Hallmark holiday movie. The dumbest sappy Christmas stories have a spirit behind them that I can't hate, and I can't be unhappy either that you escaped a DM.

None of that changes how ghastly the punctuation, mechanics, etc. are. If you don't see any errors when you look at this, then you face a serious problem. You can't punctuate dialogue worth a drat. This link may help you figure out semicolons. You capitalize words that shouldn't be capitalized and leave words that ought to be capitalized in lowercase. You're fond of saidisms: "groaned," "chirped," "cheered," "chimed," "boomed," "cried," "stated"--there isn't one "said" in the bunch. That chirping and chiming does not help with the sickly artificial-sweetener flavor of the piece, let me tell you. The right saidism at the right moment is perfectly good in my book, but using too many or using them exclusively puts many readers off. It suggests you don't trust your dialogue to convey tone without a helpful pointer.

You have to work on proofing. Your apparent base-level technical ineptitude is consistently damaging your work's reception. I strongly advise you to go to the library and come home with a copy of Strunk and White's Elements of Style, along perhaps with Eats, Shoots & Leaves. The Purdue Online Writing Lab is an invaluable free resource. The Grammar Girl site is less straightforward to navigate, but its casual style makes for easy reading, and it addresses useful small-scale questions.

Thanks Kai;
I have reading to do :madmax:

Dec 11, 2013

by Pragmatica

I'll be back from my toxx ban by then.

Dec 11, 2013

by Pragmatica

sebmojo posted:

post the crits ska
Sorry for the lack of enthusiasm and mediocre critiques that follow but I'm emotionally drained atm but promises are promises
also sorry for the delays but I figured the toxx had been called in already and just didn't bother to check...

CHAIRCHUCKER: Boring Words Are Expendable
Good words, worthy of the HM. The insights into the weird inner workings of Sam's mind are particularily interesing.

EROGENOUS BEEF: Flush with Cash.
The voice of this story does a good job at conveying the urgency of the story. The middle dragged on a bit but the ending was satisfying. IIRC your best dome entries all have a bizarro streak and you're really good at writing bizarro fiction. I enjoyed this quite a bit.

This story is a bit meandering and kind of a mess. Your antagonist is cartoonishly evil and there's no real direction to the story.

FLERP: Somewhere
This feels really introspective and I think I empathize with the message. It's a tragic story of isolation. Good job.

FLERP: Sorry, I'm not flying.
:( You're really good at making me feel sad but in a way that means your words are good.

This is super dark and does a good job with offering a perspective you don't see that often in writing or in Thunderdome. I can feel the stares and hear the quiet snickers of the passers-by and I was seething with rage at them. Evocative but doesn't have the staying power of some of the previous entries.

METROFREAK: Heart Improvement
A little bit too literal of an interperetation of heartbreak for me. Could easily have been improved with some restraint in the earlier bits building up to a more graphic end.

ANIME WAS RIGHT: Not Quite Friends
This doesn't do much for me but I think I'm jaded from reading so much today. I'm emotionally drained about a bunch of stuff especially realizing that I completely missed the point of this loving prompt and went about it in a way that was completely wrong both by my interpretation and the intent. I'm just finding this story hard to follow but it is probably not entirely your fault.

ENTENZAHN: The Answers You Find and the Questions You Don't
A well-needed comedic turn in what has been a stream of soul-crushing sadness that makes writers write. Thank you for that. The humor serves the story well and even though there's a few contrived moments none of it is unforgivable. Thanks for picking up the tone though.

I'll have the final 11 up tomorrow...
If someone wants to call in my toxx today I'll pay the :10bux: and hopefully find some more emotional currency with which to properly critique these stories. I feel that maybe not having that called down yet might be part of my ennui might be from the fact that I feel like I'm freeloading.

Sorry for sucking and failing poetry week.

SkaAndScreenplays fucked around with this message at 08:42 on Jan 24, 2017

Dec 11, 2013

by Pragmatica

In This Week:
Maybe I won't gently caress this one up.
:toxx: for the fail last week.

SkaAndScreenplays fucked around with this message at 08:42 on Jan 24, 2017

Dec 11, 2013

by Pragmatica


Check the screen name yo!

I'm in...

Dec 11, 2013

by Pragmatica

Yes It's A Man Giving A Monologue:
So it's not appropriate to the prompt...
But it's still one of the best loving speeches in the history of film.

Dec 11, 2013

by Pragmatica

Is this standard legal?

I'm IN

I'd toxx for my recent failures but I'm still waiting on those others to come down.

Dec 11, 2013

by Pragmatica

Djeser posted:

getting cursed by kissing flerp isn't a valentine's day special, it's a year-round deal

Herpes Simplex A is a virus... not a curse...

Dec 11, 2013

by Pragmatica

IN & :toxx: for my recidivistic tendencies towards failure lately.

I am very happy this prompt came up...


SkaAndScreenplays fucked around with this message at 08:01 on Feb 14, 2017

Dec 11, 2013

by Pragmatica

SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

not a rule, just a suggestion because I've judged similar weeks

like, a solid half of the people are gonna write about Jesus being an alien trying to intercede in our development. Jesus, or Mozart, or Tesla etc etc

if you write a story where a historical figure turns out to be an alien trying to intercede in humanity's development so as to help us elude the cataclysm that befell his own race, then the judges are gonna loving hate you


Dec 11, 2013

by Pragmatica

Fixed. Don't want my curiosity to come off as entitlement so edited that out.

Dec 11, 2013

by Pragmatica


I would toxx for my continued pattern of failures but I've spent like :10bux: at least 3 times in as many months and am trying to move into an apartment so :/

Dec 11, 2013

by Pragmatica

With Moldova 2K11

Zdob si Zdub - So Lucky (Moldova)

SkaAndScreenplays fucked around with this message at 13:05 on Mar 28, 2017

Dec 11, 2013

by Pragmatica

Kaishai posted:

However, far be it from me to stop someone from writing about the Moldovan lawn gnomes--so your choice can stand, but you get a punitive :siren: flash rule. :siren: One of your characters must be illiterate.

As I apparently can't read I accept this flash rule.

Dec 11, 2013

by Pragmatica

SkaAndScreenplays posted:

As I apparently can't read I accept this flash rule.

Also gently caress-it. I'm all IN for Moldova and I'll take Sunstroke Project - Hey Mama for a second entry: with a :toxx: to pull off 2 submissions.


Dec 11, 2013

by Pragmatica


sebmojo posted:

its just a little thing I call having a brain florp

e: :siren: flash rule :siren:for anyone who wants it, mushroom zombie apocalypse, no zombies
A sentient fungus contemplates the peculiarities of its host as folds her individuality into the fungal hive mind.

Dec 11, 2013

by Pragmatica


sebmojo posted:

its just a little thing I call having a brain florp

e: :siren: flash rule :siren:for anyone who wants it, mushroom zombie apocalypse, no zombies
A sentient fungus contemplates the peculiarities of its host as folds her individuality into the fungal hive mind.

Dec 11, 2013

by Pragmatica

The Passenger:
965 Words
:siren:FLASH RULE:siren: mushroom zombie apocalypse, no zombies

It travels the void.
A creature of infinite being trapped deep within a frozen star.
It is a streak in the night sky.
A conciousness who only knows Itself and the its-that-came-before.
It is a mind enslumbered throughout its journey; a voyage measured in epochs.
The heat of a burning star stirs It from sleep.
The fire of a new world melts away the walls of Its prison.
Its arrival is heralded by the screams of the air and a great rush of warm water.

This water is new.

This water is fresh.

This water is completely unlike that which the it-before knew.

Fibrous limbs probe the new everywhere that It has been carried to. It finds Others that are not unlike itself yet not at all like itself either.

It feels the mind of an it-before reach across the everything and into Itself -. These Others feed on the stars and do not think. Do not make a Home of them - they.

The water does not move here so It searches for a Way to another everywhere.

Tendrils stretch from within. They stretch to the everywhere of the everything but find nothing. Somethings flit about in the water below but move too quickly for It to make one home Home so It extends Itself further and further in search of the end of this everywhere.

Motion; a thing comes to rest on the part of Itself reaching out to everywhere - this is an Other unlike and not-like Itself. The Other can move to new everywheres so It allows Itself to be consumed by this Other.

This is a fragile Home. A temporary Home. This new Home does not think - it only exists to feed and make others-like-itself. Almost instantly the Passenger sees through the eyes of the Other as they travel through the everywhere in search of Food and Home.

The Home sets down on a blurry mass of life and color. Through the tendrils It feels the impulses of instinct as the host feeds upon the new everywhere. It senses water rich with iron and hot with life flow through the Home. It reaches out once more as it pulls itself into a new everywhere.

This life water flows quickly and does not allow It to make home of the channels. Again It is a passenger; a slave to the ebb and flow of the everywhere around It.







The everywhere that is alive churns predictably as It scouts for a suitable place to make Home. The part of Itself which resides in the fragile Home vanishes in an all-consuming darkness.

It is alone again when the life-water carries the Passenger to Its new Home. Fillaments creep across an electric sea of life as It reaches for the reigns of its Human.

Human? It is puzzled by the concept - having only known itself and the its-before. Mycelia weave themselves across the Human’s cerebral cortex and plunge deep into the gray matter of the brain.

It lashes itself to Melinda’s neurons and buries itself in her memories awestruck by the awareness of this human.

She doesn’t believe the discovery she has made and reaches across time and space to hear the voices of her selves-before. Full of fear and doubt she hopes that one among her ancestors has encountered such an enigmatic Home themselves. She waits for what feels like ages.

Others-completely-alike-and-unlike are a myth - The words come slow and deep; stretched by their journey through the Everything to reach her - Melinda should check Itself; its experience is anomalous. We that are of It are alone in the Universe…

If I may chime in? - This newvoice is nearer to Melinda and more like Herself than the first - How can It know that Melinda has not encountered something new?

She fights the urge to explore the mind of her new Home; to chase the sounds and bathe in the scents of the Earth. Now she must defend the beauty and truth of her discovery - Does the fact that It now understands that the Universe is the Greatest Everything serve as proof that we are not alone? Does it not make it clear that there are others that think?

A rush of endorphins tugs Her away from the debate for a moment as Melinda studies the colours and contours of her latest painting. She revels in the beauty and talent of her Human for a moment before the slow voice commands her attention again.

I don’t belive you - It argues with her - How can we know that you aren’t just making all of this up?

You’re right. I guess for the entirety of our existence we’ve just agreed with eachother wholeheartedly - Melinda pauses to collect Herself as a chuckle slips past her lips - It isn’t like we’re just now discovering the concept of sarcasm ya know.

An indignant huff echoes in the minds of the collective as It concedes that Melinda’s logic holds up.

Her words ring loud with pride at having silenced her detractor - Now, if you’ll all kindly pipe-down I’d like to explore my new surroundings.

Melinda strolls about Their home eager to see how other humans live. They revel in the photographs taken of their Others-before and Others-also and they take joy in the artwork of her Others-after adorning the refrigerator door.

Who are you?

The question comes from an it-also somewhere very close - Melinda almost feels as though it came from her own mind.
I am Melinda - Her words are cautious.

How can that be? - The new voice is panicked; Its fear is amplified by Melinda’s countelss selves interrogating It from across all of creation - How can that be when I.

It is Part of Us - Melinda tells herself - It is the First-Like and it is our Passenger.

SkaAndScreenplays fucked around with this message at 16:57 on Apr 20, 2017

Dec 11, 2013

by Pragmatica


Dec 11, 2013

by Pragmatica

I'm trading crits on my DQ for this week for a crit from any story you've written and would like feedback on.

Actually I'm doing a poo poo ton of crits for as many stories I can get to over the weekend while also not failing or DQ'ing with my demon story.

I haven't done it in a while and critiquing is fun and hard and awesome and I'm too nice for full TD Kayfabe. Also picking apart the good and bad of a story helps me write less bad stories so it's not an entirely selfless act.


SkaAndScreenplays fucked around with this message at 05:20 on Apr 22, 2017

Dec 11, 2013

by Pragmatica

:siren:First Crit For Week 250:siren:

DJESER: WARNING-To-All-Human-Races...
Everything about your story feels very deliberate. Even the formatting conveys the superstition and paranoia of your character; every letter being capitalized, every reference to some chemical, every run-on sentence serves to further immerse me in the collapsing psyche of your protagonist.


Chlorinated Water Hits Me And I Open My Eyes To It And Let It Sting. Underwater City In The Bottom Of The Pool Red And Gold Banners Against Blue Water. Seaweed Hair Hangs Around My Face Until I Have To Come Up For Air. Chlorine Without Sodium Produces Only HALF-VISIONS But I Dive Down Until I Am Whale-Large Over Underwater City And Follow Atlanteans Swimming From Tower To Tower And Wonder Which Is My Pelagia With The Red Spines And Blue Scales.
^^^^That feels like a genuine hallucination.^^^^^
-----Hallucinations are hard to pull off in movies. I’ve only seen it pulled off well a handful of times and yet you managed to make the sensation empathetic with only words.-----

Half way through and I’m struck by the thought that this isn’t so much a piece of flash-fiction but a peek into the mind of Alex Jones’ arachnophobic little sister and that is loving awesome...

Your character feels so sincerely insane in such a refreshing way. Between the obvious references to changes in technology and the social consciousness and the ones that make me do a little bit of work to figure them out it just reads as so realistic. The arachnids exist and everything from CFL light bulbs to health food are a result of their control. Everything comes back to that one delusion and that fact ties everything together so well.

Then, just as the craziness is coming to a head it goes away. The shift from lunacy to lucidity is not only expertly crafted but perfectly timed. You’ve put me inside the head of your character that by the time the world feels normal I no longer do - you’ve made me feel like I have an aneurysm shorting all the important circuits of my brain.

There are two things about the resolution of the story which I really like and think work exceptionally well.


Everything is clear.

But I can see the legs and hairy fangs and empty eyes in the dark. They're going to bite me and fill my brain with green spider venom until I'm another health zombie and I'll never see Pelagia again.
-----I LOVE that even though she’s functional and medicated at this point she still has that creeping suspicion in the back of her head. This is an actual trait of schizophrenia and a bit of reality which lends itself to the tone in a very satisfying way.


The sodium halo above us grows larger and our feet leave the ground. I can see beyond the halo the shimmer of sunlight through water and red and gold banners flowing in the ocean current.

With pencil and paper, I write goodbye. It comes out in a hand I haven't used for years, clear and even. Then I drop my sketchbook and hold on as the water rushes in around us, and the park and the city are gone and it's just us and the endless ocean and Atlantis.
-----There’s a glimmer of hope in what, given the context I assume is your character’s suicide. There’s a tiny crack in the wall given some of the lines before which I can maybe interpret as her having been apprehended and given proper medical treatment. It’s a maybe-but-probably-not-but-man-I-really-hope-she’s-alright moment of ambiguity which I think the story needed.

Awesome job and well deserving of the win.

SkaAndScreenplays fucked around with this message at 05:25 on Apr 22, 2017

Dec 11, 2013

by Pragmatica

MRENDA: The Pride of Your Own


Turning the bend to home she cursed the prick of a bus driver who wouldn’t bend the rules to let her on.
-----I swear there’s got to be a chapter in the employee-handbook of every transit authority which specifically addresses how to crush the remaining spirit of people whom are obviously not having a great day.

On the whole this second paragraph is painful to read and not in an empathetic way. The phrasing is abrasive and clumsy and could very much use some editing-down.



His scowl filled with the pride of his well paid job.
-----This might just be me but ‘scowl’ & ‘pride’ don’t really mesh together well here. It may just be that for me the word ‘pride’ generally has a positive to neutral connotation. He’s a minor villain to your character so something like ‘smug’ or ‘contemptuous’ might be more fitting.
-----Also: This declaration is just floating awkwardly between a good sentence and a boring one. I feel like this was supposed to


Her AI researcher¹ father had *taught*² her how drivers were unnecessary³ **even before she was old enough for school*
1: The ‘AI researcher part isn’t needed on account of the information given in the rest of the paragraph
2: ‘Taught’ feels like the wrong word here. Teaching is really more of a process and her dad is more or less complaining that drivers are dicks.
3: From the lines before and after we know that a bus driver is easily replaced by an arduino board and a couple lines of code. Referencing her father’s opinions on the matter might have fit better as an introduction to this little rant or a justification of her prejudice made at the end.
4: This hurts my brain for two specific reasons.
-----Again… your phrasing has been really weird for these first few lines.
-----I’m pretty sure most countries start standardized education at 5 so it's weird that her dad was talking transit reform with her at an even younger age. This does give context to the previous gripe of ‘taught’ though; as at this point I’m thinking her father is an obsessive pedagogue though it could also be that she’s confusing things she overheard as a child with deliberate life-lessons.


Her father dying in a hospital bed might be a sad story but when you don’t have travel vouchers left for the month a bitter, rules obsessed, bus driving prick isn’t going to budge.
-----This line is really loving strong and I wish the story would have opened with some variation on this info and the aggressive tone it was delivered with.

Your writing in this story has this weird way of making charming and insightful forays into Grace’s mood/character then falling back into bland actions and snippets of extraneous information that just don’t fit in with the good words.


Grace pushed thoughts of dickhead bus drivers and withering crops from her mind
-----This is another awesome loving sentence which falls victim to mediocrity on account of the shotgun blast of buzzwords and adjectives that follow.


“They wouldn’t let me on the bus,” Grace said. She’d tried. That was enough.
I like the terseness here since it fits the ambivalence she’s expressed with regard to her whole ‘dad’s dying’ thing…


“In case you’re wondering, there’s no change in him,” Marianne said. She had the same clipped, assured tone as when she would smugly explain, “The responsibility of work brings me immense personal satisfaction.” Working class had come to mean something wholly different than what it was in the past. Having any job meant wealth, and luxury when most survived on basic state stipends and rations.
-----Said/said/said/said: Rigid dialogue attribution robs dialogue of voice IMHO & realistic exchanges are one of the few things I am rightfully confident in my ability to do well. Here’s two things I’ve found can really add flavor to the words a character is speaking.
1: Let a character’s tone be conveyed through things like their movements and facial expressions and with that in mind don’t always put dialogue at the start of the paragraph.
2: Don’t only ever pin the characteristics of the words spoken to the person speaking them. Words have character and mood and history that you can draw on to really drive the theme home.
Let the words hang in the air.
Make THEM sharp or heavy or clear as the night sky.
Have a statement CARRY an idea to its destination.

The part of the quote in italics is addressing something I’ve seen from you in more than just this one instance.
-----You double up on your adjectives.
-----A lot.
-----It usually isn’t needed.
-----It also tends to put the brakes on a sentence.
-----In the above example(s) you can give the same amount of information with a single word like ‘terse’ or ‘brusque’ or ‘curt’

I’m not saying that this always a bad thing but it is, at least to me, a very VISIBLE habit.

Last little nit to pick is that there are a bunch of places where I feel like a new paragraph should start but it doesn't.

On the whole I get the story you’re trying to tell and the character you’re trying to show us but I’m just not given enough reason to care about either. I get halfway through the story and my eyes are already skimming ahead looking for one of the well written lines.


I'm pretty sure I understand what you were going for with the slug invasion but it wasn't explored with enough depth to make it anything more than an afterthought which kind of sucks because the creeping death of a vibrant garden being wholly and inevitably consumed by an ambivalent and all consuming army of garden slugs is a REALLY cool metaphor for death...

Dec 11, 2013

by Pragmatica

:toxx: Not for the words but I'll take them if I need them.

SkaAndScreenplays fucked around with this message at 16:36 on Apr 24, 2017

Dec 11, 2013

by Pragmatica

Chairchucker posted:

(1:45:04 PM) You're going to write super bad words and then you're gonna get banned

Sitting Here posted:

(1:45:35 PM) maybe in a different universe where other people weren't noodle-spined failure fetishists

SkaAndScreenplays posted:

(1:45:54 PM) ^Hey! I'm right here you know...

Sitting Here posted:

(1:46:02 PM) v0v fight me

SkaAndScreenplays posted:

(1:46:05 PM) Bring it.

Sitting Here posted:

(1:46:27 PM) not only have a brought it, i've laid it out in an elegant banquet spread

You're not wrong but about my failure rate but extenuating circumstances are a hill I'm willing to die on...

Let's dance Blood Queen!

SkaAndScreenplays fucked around with this message at 19:51 on Apr 27, 2017

Dec 11, 2013

by Pragmatica

Sitting Here posted:

maybe after you submit your words for this week


Dec 11, 2013

by Pragmatica

The Bulldog And The Barman
(1,817 Words)




A black pair of mirror polished OXFORDS move towards us with purpose.

From further out; pinstripe slacks - military press.

Further still... Sport coat to match, black vest, and a crisp white & green tie. An ensemble bound together by a burnished gold tie clip & cuff links.

The suit takes a seat on a BAR STOOL; one glossy toe tapping along to the beat.

On the far side of the bar MARCELENE ARSENAULT, early thirties, approachable and confident celebrates victory in a game of BAR DICE with a shot before coming to serve the REGULAR JIM seated next to our WALKING SUIT.

Thanks Marcy.
I think this is it for me tonight though... you may not have cleaned me out-

He digs through his WALLET for a tip; inadvertently flashing at least a grand in LARGE BILLS before leaving a fiver on the bar for Marcy.

-but you will if I'm not careful.
The barmaid looks down at Jim playfully pouty expression.

If you don't have the stomach for this place I can't keep you here. I just find it weird that you're bailing in the middle of a hot streak.
Marcy folds up the tip before wiping down the bar.

I'm down two hundred already Marcy... I'm... I just can't...

Tell you what Jim. I'll give you an easy one.
She fetches two empty BEER BOTTLES from further down the bar; setting them before her customer with an authoritative THUD.

If you can light a match using only these two bottles I've got your next drink and your cab home.

What's the catch?

Marcy turns to the back wall; proceeds to dig through drawers in search of a MATCHBOOK.

The wall behind the bar is a single MIRROR in which we finally see the man inside the suit.

DOMINIC KINSEY, mid thirties and calculating, flashes a smile bright as a full moon.

Mind if I get in on this action?

Marcy's search stops cold as her eyes shoot up. She knows this voice.

Her gobsmacked expression bounces off the mirror to Dominic.

Dominic smirks back then;

He looks down and sifts through his own nearly empty BILLFOLD - removes a note.

Dominic drops his last fifty dollar bill on the bar with practiced nonchalance.

General Grant and I think this clever fellow's got your game made in under a minute.

Marcy slaps the MATCHBOOK down hard on the bar; she stares down Dominic harder.

She looks to Jim - he's obviously drunk and fumbling to light a CIGARETTE with one of Marcy's MATCHES.

Well Jim, this stranger seems to think highly of you. Ready to leave him disappointed?

Jim flips through the c-notes in his wallet for an eternity before pulling out a fifty.

I'm game.

Cigarette unlit in his mouth he drops an extra hundred on the bar.

Fuggit! Make it an even two between us.

Marcy spirits a thick ROLL OF CASH from her jacket & antes up. She peels off a pack of twenties and adds them to the pot.

Right then...

Her arm raises.

Her focus shifts to her wrist and the GOLD WATCH - too rich for even the most successful of bartenders - that it wears.

Sixty seconds to light a match using only two empty beer bottles and…

She points to Jim who immediately sets to work on the problem.

He rubs the bottom of one bottle along the side of the other; glass shavings fall down onto the bar.

This prompts Dominic's smirk to widen nearly as instantly as Marceline's morphs into a defeated grimace.

The bartender locks eyes with her newest customer.

How'd you pass him the answer?

Why'd you offer a bar-chemistry bet to a tenured chemistry professor?

Fire shines in their eyes as the bravado between them gives way to affection. Smoke rises between them.

Maybe I wanted to see if your intuition was sharp as I remember it...

The cherry of Jim's smoke paints their faces red as the victorious drunk blows a smoke ring in complete defiance of the NO SMOKING sign staring at him from the CASH REGISTER.

I think that's my cue to leave then feuhorbe…

The drunk fights with his coat as he rises from his bar stool.

Looks like you’ve got some catching up to do anyways.

He struts off like a dog with two dicks - leaving Marcelene struggling with the decision to tend bar or catch up with an old friend.

For a moment she settles on the latter; pouring out two vodka-clubs.

Don’t worry about a tab, Jim walked with your cut.

He seems an honest fellow, I’m sure he’ll return it if he remembers.
Correct me if I’m wrong but in doing so that leaves you flat broke, doesn’t it?

Dominic raises an eyebrow.

Don’t be surprised Keeps. Shame may not be an emotion you feel very often but it is also not one you’re very good at hiding.

(into his drink)
Not as rusty as I’d have thought it seems.

So how long have you been out?

Dominic checks his watch.

Six hours give or take.

And your first thought was to come harass an old colleague?

Actually my first thought was that I needed a new suit to visit her.

He looks around the posh establishment. Sighing at seeing it filled with YUPPIE BUSINESSMEN and CAPITALISTS.

I’m surprised you haven’t been killed in all honesty. This bar used to mean something to our ilk.

He finishes his drink; finding a new one fixed before he sets down his glass.

Back in the day this place was a friendly port to any and every charlatan, scammer, & con-man who walked through that door. The Bulldog And The Barman was to a grifter what Saint-Malo, Tortuga, or Nassau was to a pirate in the golden age...

Dominic plays with his straw for a moment; a wave of his hand and it becomes a tiny umbrella.

Now here you’ve gone and turned it into Mar-a-Lago…

Marcy sips from her glass, garnishing it with Dominic’s conjured umbrella.

She leans in close to Dom; her breath falling soft on his neck.

Maybe it still is… Maybe it’s more… Maybe now those same swindlers can come have a drink and pull in a score.

She pulls away ever so slightly - leaving just enough room for the proposition to stand between them.

You know it really was a tragedy that you got pinched; not least because of how comfortable we were getting working with each other.

Dominic’s turn to lean in this time; he brings his drink to just below eye level.

I’ll raise a toast to that.

He presses the glass to her lips, stops suddenly, raises a finger.

You remember the time we infiltrated that boiler room scam right?

Marcy shakes her head while attempting to bury her smile in her chest.

Not a chance.

Dominic looks straight through his old colleague. Once more her eyes meet his.

Not even for Keeps Kinsey will I subject myself to that level of humiliation again.

A puppy dog stare from her friend and she finally relents.

Alright Keeps, you get one - but I get you back and we can’t be the only ones

REGULAR JIM checks the time on his cell phone.

He lights a cigarette, leans against a wall & waits.

ACROSS THE STREET; the bar he just left.

The music is louder now - younger even; the crowd channeling the energy of the music cheering on a scene of debauchery.

MARCELENE removes her jacket; setting it on a stool she climbs up onto the bar.

REGULAR JIM flicks his cigarette into the gutter as he crosses the street

As before; then DOMINIC pours a shot into Marceline's belly button - several MIDDLE MANAGERS and YUPPIES join in on the process with their own parties.

REGULAR JIM opens the door and crosses the threshold into;

From somewhere in the crowd.

HEY! Jim’s back.

(feigns drunkenness)

He makes his way to the bar with a keen eye on DOMINIC & MARCELINE exchanging body shots.

He checks the angles on arrival at his destination; the STOOL with MARCY’S JACKET.

He drops his wallet and almost bowls over Marcy in his stumbling attempt to recover it.

Sorry Marcy… I just realized I left with some of your friend’s money.

A ONE HUNDRED DOLLAR BILL exchanges hands from Jim to Dominic.

Thanks man, good to know there's still honest people in the world.

No worries mate. I’d expect the same from you.

He tucks his wallet into his breast pocket before turning for the door again.

Right then; best to not keep a cabbie waiting.

He leaves.

Wish I would have had money to bet on that man’s honesty.

He places Mr. Franklin in his wallet & looks up to Marcy.

It’d do me well to get back to the hotel too. I’m in the penthouse at the W if you’re interested in a job. Briefing on the mark is at Noon local.

I’ll be sure to make it there.

She gives her client a kiss on the cheek and a slap on the rear end as he heads for the door.

REGULAR JIM tosses a ROLL OF CASH into the hands of DOMINIC.

Did you count it yet? How much is here?

A lot.

Well let's work on figuring your cut then…

MARCELENE throws on her jacket having closed out the last till.

She herself down around the pockets; confused.

Frantic; she whips the jacket off and digs as deeply into the pockets as possible.

Anger mounting she turns out her pockets - her wad of ill-gotten gains is gone.

Her hand finds something; she pulls out a blank playing card with a message marked on it.

Thanks for selling me out to the cops.
Two years I was away Marcy…
Two years and I knew it was you that ratted from day one.
This is only the beginning.
P.S. Your bar is stupid & your clientele sucks.

She crumples the note in an angry fist.

The sun rises for a free man.



Dec 11, 2013

by Pragmatica

BeefSupreme posted:

I will judge this forthcoming brawl. I love fights, so you better not let me down ska

Didn't fail so let's go...

SkaAndScreenplays fucked around with this message at 18:15 on May 1, 2017

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