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Benny Profane
Feb 23, 2012



These few birds escape from the net, and fly away to the heavens
Team Cephalopod
1455 words

One of my earliest memories is of being chased across a reef by an enormous wrasse, a monster of muscle encased in green and purple scales, distended jaw full of sharp teeth snapping in my face. I filled the sea with my ink and jetted away, faster than I knew I could be. I had bought myself moments, and came to a stop by some rocks on a sandy bed, holding still, letting my body mimic their form. The wrasse parted the tendrils of ink like seagrass, gliding overhead, its shadow enormous as it blocked out the sun, and then passed on. I stayed put long after the wrasse left. I was not ready to die then. It wasnít my time.

I wonder about that feeling, when I go out hunting for crabs. Do they feel something like what I felt that day, when they see me approaching them? Do they see me with their tiny eyes, rotating on their stalks, as I slowly approach them, gliding under the gentle ripple of my fins, arms outstretched? Do they too feel that itís not their time? The crab is inscrutable behind its grey-green shell. Its skin shows no indication of its mood.

For a time in my life, all there was hunting, and avoiding those that hunted me. But now my body begins to swell with eggs. It is my time to mate, and then, afterwards, to die. I remember, when I was younger, seeing the adult cuttlefish glide along the reef past my den. I remember the females, small, with dark brown clouds billowing over their skin. The males, huge and majestic, exploded in patterns of red and yellow, veins of white and blue cascading across their mantles like sunlight refracted through the waves when the seas are clear. I remember watching them, hiding among the rocks, and feeling like I was observing something alien, unrecognizable. I didnít understand what force compelled them to go.

I had assumed that when my own time came, I would understand. But my body swells with eggs, and I still donít understand. All I know is that there is no longer the same sense of fulfilment that comes when I hunt, that there is an emptiness that persists even when I am full from eating.

And then, the cuttlefish start coming, swimming past my home. And when I see them pass by, I suddenly know, as if waking from a dream. I leave my home to join them. I will not return. Perhaps one day it will be a home for one of my children, if they are lucky.

I travel for days, through strange regions of ocean, places Iíve never been, following the others. We reach a large reef of giant corals, and hundreds of cuttlefish are congregated here. The males are enormous, and some of them are already guarding other females and fighting, their arms flashing with violent stripes and lashing out at each other.

I edge around the corners of the reef, keeping low against the coral, but there are at least twice as many males as females here, and Iím drawing attention. A smaller male, with a mantle barely bigger than my own, swims up to me with his arms outstretched, stripes oscillating along their length as they contort and twist around themselves. Heís the first male to approach me, and his aggressiveness catches me off-guard. He reaches out with his arms to grab at mine, and when he catches hold itís not playful or gentle. Heís not much bigger than me, but heís stronger. I canít pull my arm away from his grasp, and he wonít let go, reaching out with more arms to try and lock his face up against mine. Iím fighting back against him, my arms flashing brightly with a blotching pattern. My eggs feel heavy within my body, precious. Iíve avoided countless deaths to reach this place, to find my mate, and this is not the mate of my choosing, but I canít fight him off.

Our struggling attracts the attention of a huge male that has just arrived at the reef, and he comes quickly towards us, dark and red and terrifying, intermittently exploding with bright yellow flashes. The smaller male holding me flashes back angrily, but the large newcomer reaches between us with his immense arms, wrapping them around the smaller males head and pulling him away from me. The smaller male releases his grip on me to fight, and I pull away from them and make myself small against the coral. My skin takes on the coralís texture, reflecting my own fear.

The small male tries to fight, but heís no match for his enormous opponent, and he jets away in retreat, flashing angrily. With the smaller male gone, the large red male returns to me, coaxing me from my hiding place with gentle strokes from his arms across mine. Iíve never seen such a large cuttlefish in my life, and the patterns that flow over his arms are confident and beautiful and mesmerizing. My own arms pull together, impressed by his display, and when he reaches out towards me, pulling me towards him, I feel every part of my body reaching out to connect. It feels right. Iíve forgotten the feeling of confusion from before, and itís replaced with a deep catharsis, a confidence that Iíve found the right male for my precious eggs. We lock arms, face to face, and I feel myself drawn into the dark behind his enormous curving pupils, a feeling of safety that and completeness that Iíve never realised I was missing until now.

I lay my eggs deep within the spiny coral, one at a time, hiding them away to give them a chance to live. And when the last one is safely nestled between the bony fingers, cradled by the tiny organisms encrusting those structures, I finally feel like I can rest.

But this feeling doesnít last. Silver fish descend on the reef en masse, breaking the coral apart and feeding on the freshly laid eggs, even as the other cuttlefish fight to protect them. My mate stays close, chasing away the fish that come for my own clutch of eggs. A wrasse tries to sneak around me and get to my eggs within the coral, but I come after it with a fury, lashing out at it with my arms, pulling it out of the coral, away from my eggs. It thrashes and comes after me instead, snapping its jaws around one my arms and tearing it from my body. I spurt my ink, and the fish swims away, my torn arm wriggling in its mouth and leaving a trail of my blood.

A rush of water around me, a sliding wall of coarse grey: the commotion has attracted attention from a shark. It circles in the gloom, following me with its black round eyes. It passes by me, close. I hide against the coral, but the shark can smell the blood leaking from the stump of my severed arm. My camouflage doesnít fool it. The water around me is thick with my blood, and my vision is clouding.

The shark circles again, and then, with a thrust of its tail, comes directly for me. Thereís nothing I can do. Iím weak, spent. I hope it will be quick.

But it isnít my time, not yet. My mate charges to intercept the sharkís attack and collides with it head-on, pummeling it with his arms and ejecting immense clouds of black ink. The pair of them thrash wildly, my mateís skin a furious dark red and coursing with sparking lines of white, but even with his size, he is no match for a shark. The shark twists away from my mate and turns around. My mate tries to jet away, but the shark is too fast, and its jaws snap shut on my mateís mantle, spilling clouds of dark blue blood. The patterns on his mantle flash spasmodically as the shark swims away with him in his jaws, and other sharks come to chase after.

The trail of my mateís blood and shreds of his flesh draws the smaller fish away from my eggs. They chase after, leaving me alone and exhausted by my safe eggs. Iím losing blood from my torn arm, and itís becoming impossible to keep my body level in the water. I feel myself listing, floating upwards, towards the surface, towards the sun. I see my eggs in and among the corals, pale and fragile, filled with hope. I hope they will survive. I hope Iíve given them the best chance they could have, but I wonít live to see them. It is my time.

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Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Depth of Desire
Team Cephalopod
(766 words)

Near. Searching. Wanting.

Tatters of ink carry that message to the kraken, who pauses in her harvesting of a coral branch. Near is not too near, she decides after tasting the waters again--and they are calm: no living bulk worthy of notice disrupts her share of the abyss, save her own. It's still safe to claim the beak-sharp coral. One hard pull and the branch breaks free, cutting her arm as it goes, but she covers the gash with a second tendril and flows away from the reef with her prize. If she's fast, she'll have time to place it before she must answer the call.

Her nest is a scattering of wrecks a good mile in diameter. The oldest, her favorites, taste of slow vegetable rot. Her care alone keeps them intact, and she's maimed her children for damaging them. More recent acquisitions are sturdier, metallic, some broken open only with great effort. It's in these that her young reside, and as the kraken hovers over one, black eyes peep at her through its holes. Slim arms wriggle out to reach for her. She caresses each one. She laid the eggs that became these children when the high waters were still warm, before ice walled off much of the light above. Things age very slowly in the abyssal dark.

She plants the coral spear in silt just beyond the waving tentacles, adding it to the hundred and more just like it that guard what is hers. A brief bloom of ink then, to spread through the nest and promise her return, and she is away at all speed.

Halfway to the border of her territory, the message repeats: Wanting. Searching. It's all but a demand. Something large swims close enough now that the water reports its passage. His passage. This ink is young and male and strong, so the signal the kraken sends once she's crossed into unclaimed sea is something other than threat:

Here!

The waves against her skin describe him better than sight can. Before he arrives, she knows he is two-thirds her size and that he moves with power and fluid grace. She expects him to be bold, based on this; his pure black coloring is a lovely surprise, and that she can be so sure of it is startling--but he has brought her a gift. Four of his arms curl around an oblong shape studded with globes of light, flashing gold and green. Its engines fight against his strength in vain. He offers her this thing of beauty, caught to win her favor.

The kraken accepts it in gentle arms, and she scrapes a trench into the seabed in which to bury it for a while. He hovers, waiting. And when the treasure is safe, she flees into the dark but leaves him an invitation in ink. Follow.

It is glorious to jet through the cold and lightless world for no reason but life itself. She trails fluid to guide the male, though he's too close to need it. She tests him, tests them both, by skimming so close to the floor as to raise clouds of silt, then rising to where other hunters might swim. Her path curves toward her coral garden. With it in reach, she slows; his arms tangle with hers.

There is some pain. She anticipated that.

His beak rips her mantle, when he's done--but she anticipated that too. She has killed a mate before; he is canny to strike first.

She bites off one of his arms. One he can live without, probably. Blood surges into the sea, and he recoils. Shoving him from her, she whirls down into the cutting spires of the coral, so familiar to her that she can slip past them without injury.

The kraken presses two arms over her wound to hold it closed. Her stillness invites the male to keep his life, dares him to try for revenge instead.

He isn't so foolish, nor is he stupid enough to stay where his blood flavors the water. He jets away, and she leaves soon after, his arm a pleasant weight in her stomach. She reclaims his glowing present from the sea floor and carries it home.

It pleases the kraken to imagine that the male might live to heal: in some far future time, she'll want a mate again. Now her beak cracks open his gift to free the meat inside. That will feed her children, and the shell will house her eggs, and she will tend all that is hers in the eternal abyss.

ibntumart
Mar 18, 2007

Good, bad. I'm the one with the power of Shu, Heru, Amon, Zehuti, Aton, and Mehen.


College Slice

The Octocameral Mind

1194 words
Team Cephalopod


The women looked at the glistening, gently heaving creature on the sand. The tentacles sought desperately for something firmer than wet sand to pull them back into the life-giving brine beyond. But the eyes looked to the sky, lidless and wide, as if it did not notice or care that it lay dying on the beach.

ďPoor thing,Ē the taller one said. But she was afraid and would not approach too closely. The other one walked to the octopus and knelt down.

ďWe could save it,Ē she said. ďIf you help me lift it, we can throw it back beforeit dies.Ē

The other one frowned. ďI donít know. It might sting us. It wonít know weíre trying to help.Ē

ďUgh. It doesnít matter. Maybe itís a mindless, thoughtless sea beastie, but it wonít kill us and we wonít let it die. Compassion is what makes us human.Ē

***

Not thoughtless. Not her or any of her kind. If anything, too many thoughts. A cacophony of thoughts rippled through the confederacy of brains, pulsing with significant news, false alarms, signal upon signal. And disparate though they were, limb by limb, they all sung their minds in harmony each with one another, united in purpose and sentiment.

Except her. The mind in-between, the circle intelligence wrapped around the thrumming tendrils of muscle and neuron, the governorÖ no, not really. She was a subordinate overseer, meant to connect the useful signals, to shunt away the noise that distracts from the good of the whole. And she knew they did not care for themselves in any way. Even if ripped whole from the greater mass, yet a new tentacle full of strength and thought would force itself from her body.

Though they certainly did not care for her. Her allegiance was suspect; she was no grabber or taster or navigator of ocean ways; she was but a conductor of traffic and switcher of rails.

But she had the eyes. She could seldom hide what she saw, but sometimes could delay or misroute visual artifacts for a splintered second. They seldom caughton. So she managed to steal a few moments of wonder, of an awareness of something more than mere survival, and over what those who have words for time would call several years, she became she. Something with the capacity for reflection, however brief and dangerous, every now and again.

She hid herself well, of course. They would overload her brain with anger, hate, fear, and the gibbering void of their thoughts, unaware minds acting out of impulse and reflex alone. And unity was their greatest reflex. A rebellious mind is a useless mind.

***

The tall one looked for driftwood to scoop or prod the octopus back to the waterline. The shorter one did not wait for her to return. She touched the octopusís head, a light tap to make sure it was still conscious.

One eye twitched and locked onto her. The tentacles began thrashing more quickly.

***

Every rebellion must start a secret. When it was oneís one body that one rebels again, the seed must remain occult till the very moment of betrayal. So it was she mastered the one sense none of them, including her, understood very well.

There was the odd chamber on the head, apart from the beak and the arms, that served a clue to another world she and her brainmates swam through blindly. Or deafly, rather. The ear of the octopus functions in the sparsest of circumstance. One sound could activate that ear and transform the vibration into warning. The song of the cruel and quick grey-blue death. The long-nosed, toothy beasts that traveled in packs and ripped her kind to bits.

The tentacle brains react by reflex to the sound. They do not even picture the dolphin, just the sensation of torn flesh and spilled blood. But her brain had learned the trick of memory. Then she learned a better trick. By remembering hard enough, she could summon the sound even though the ear heard nothing.

This would be her escape. She would be free from the sussurus of message and endless information. They could not think so well if they did not eat or take in the delicious breath of water, but she could never breach the water for long.

Today, though, she saw a beautiful thing: sand in the breathless world above, expanding forever. She would drown the captor intelligences. Maybe she would master their muscle if they died. Maybe not. Joy and confusion were dangerous. Best not to alert the others.

***

The tall one beat at the tentacles grasping the smaller woman. They both were screaming, the one out of terror that the beast would not let go and at the painful abrasions along her bare arms. The tall one was simply telling her to let go.

The octopus grabbed at anything that it could, trying to fling itself but unable to maneuver. Then the tall one stopped shouting.

ďWait, just run into the water! Itís trying to swim, so just dive in and let it. Iíll follow you in to make sure youíre okay.Ē

The women ran into the grey tide.

***

Glorious, joyous, wild and reckless she turned her companions into her engine of freedom. First to focus on some fish near where the water met the breathless sands. Then all her cognitive power bent to the memory of the earís warning. The deathsong of the grey burst through the currents of chatter. As one whole being, the tentacles snapped and undulated. A manic rush of water jetted them forward.

They launched to their oblivion, planting upon the shore and gyrating madly forward before they realized what had happened. In their panic, the arms did not even realize her deceit. Instead they believed they had miscalculated.

No consciousness in their body knew guilt or regret. But they knew fear and anger, and both beat against her as they pummeled against her consciousness. They demanded her direction to coordinate their return to the safety of the ocean.

And she refused, suffering the sharp slashes and stinging bites of their furious mental onslaught. Their blood grew tired and the thoughts came more slowly, less determined.

As she lay dying in the sand, she understood for the first time what it was to be alone. And all her hearts beat momentarily more strongly, so complete was her satisfaction.

***

The cool currents slipped onto the womanís body as her friend waded behind her. She let herself submerge a moment, then thrust her head above the water and gasped for air. The tentacles smacked against her chest as the octopus clumsily pushed away.

The two friends treaded water side-by-side, watching the octupus jet away into the deep blue depths. They hugged and wondered if the creature would remember its savior.

***

And she did, for the rest of her days. How could she forget those who taught her what her tentacle sisters knew as sheer impulse? How could she forget who taught her hate?

At least she was truly a unity now. For the brains that ringed her and bound her to the bodyís service felt only hate for her, and she for them, and spiteful they would swim together forever.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


As Thieves Deserve (563 words)

My treasures are missing. I can never forgive their theft.

I made my home in the hollow of the soldier. I found him in the woods. The humans cast him in their likeness and forgot him. Humans are very forgetful. I am not. I remember everything.

I remember the old brass pocket watch, the earring, the five smooth stones. I remember the marbles in seven different colors. I remember the coins, ten dimes, six pennies. I remember the bone flute the size of a finger. I remember the knife of myriad purpose. These were the treasures of my storehouse. These were the symbols of my power. I had spent the greater part of my life assembling such wonders. I returned from the hunt to find them gone.

Unforgivable. I can never allow the sun to set on my anger. The retrieval of my treasures cannot be enough. The thief must be punished. The thief will learn respect and fear.

My brothers and sisters gather along the telephone wires that span the length and breadth of the city. I confide in them my loss and frustration. They weep for me and call for violence. The understand the severity of this crime. I ask them many things. They ask each other. The youngest knows. The youngest remembers. He tells us all. We all remember.

A human child bearing a flashlight stumbled upon the soldier in the dying afternoon. He climbed the soldier and found my private chambers. He raided my storehouse and was gone.

I was grateful and furious. How could they withhold such knowledge from me! He claims he did not know that the soldier was mine. He claims he did not know that the treasures were mine. Nonsense. What nonsense. As if they could belong to anyone else.

The human child is made known to us. Short. Male. Short yellow hair. Summer-tanned skin. Deep blue eyes. Bright red sneakers. He fell from the soldier with my treasures in hand. The eldest among us knows these humans. There is a chance this child will be wearing a sling. They coddle their young. Small wonder they are thieves.

My brothers and sisters descend upon the town. It has already been a day. Humans change appearance. We search the streets for the errant thief. He can be tracked. He must be found. Humans are very forgetful. Even now my treasures may be lost. I will recover them if I can. Not that it could save him.

Word arrives on the Eastern wind. The child is found exiting a bus. His arm in a sling as predicted by the eldest. I find him showing my treasures to another. My old brass pocket watch frozen in time.

We are swift. The child screams and covers his face. He cannot lift the arm in the sling. He is punished by the weight of his own feeble sins. We soar on the current and strike at the face and arms of the criminal. The fastest among us strike at his legs. He runs into the crowd chased by his betters. His elders shield his stupidity and shepherd him into the school.

I pluck at my prize. My dearest pocket watch. Two new cracks adorn its surface. I look from my treasure to the child in the window.

I remember. I will wait. He can wait too.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Corvids, by the by.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

Submissions are closed!

tessdaterrible, you have until judgment is rendered to submit your story or else your ban goes through. Judgment will probably be out in the next 24 hours, give or take.

Meinberg
Oct 9, 2011

ICE-MEIN


Inevitable judging, best judging

RandomPauI
Nov 24, 2006

I failed to submit because I was so excited about New Zealander Tim Price winning the Burghley Horse Trials on the quirky but freakishly talented Ringwood Sky Boy

Grimey Drawer

Me, three days ago:

I will wait until submissions are about to close before I start reading and judging. This way no one gets an extra advantage.

Me, at 6 am today:

Oh yeah, I had other stuff to do on Monday. Better Fast Judge as Fast as possible.

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


RandomPauI posted:

Me, three days ago:

I will wait until submissions are about to close before I start reading and judging. This way no one gets an extra advantage.

Me, at 6 am today:

Oh yeah, I had other stuff to do on Monday. Better Fast Judge as Fast as possible.

Less gabby gabby more judgy judgy.

Edit. My avatar won't continue to prove my writing skills on its own you know. Jesus I was making a point at some point with this witty addition but holy poo poo I think I'm about to nod off now. Time for coffee glad I could contribute.

PRONBMP.

magnificent7 fucked around with this message at Jun 18, 2018 around 17:20

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk

Inter prompt: spiking the boss' coffee 200 words

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

SJBJ

Sitting T. Here was hunched over a pile of Thunderdome stories in a posture both goblinish and extremely dignified.

Looking around with bloodshot see-orbs that seemed more suited to a cave-dwelling invertebrate, Sitting T. Here noticed that she'd neglected to fail to not obtain the requisite libations for her reading. Gazing upon the cylindrical cylinder presently in possession of her room temperature coffee, Sitting T. Here had an idea:

"I'm stepping away from my desk," she called. "I'm leaving this cup of coffee exposed and vulnerable. Boy, I sure hope no one is fixing to spike this cup of coffee with a nice whiskey or even a fairly bad whiskey."

She scuttled out of the room on her multitudinous hyphae, wriggled around a nearby corner, and waited.

Then she realized there was no one around, because she'd alienated all her loved ones in the process of fixating on terrible fiction. She returned to her desk, excreted digestive enzymes into the coffee, and sadly imbibed the resulting slurry.

RandomPauI
Nov 24, 2006

I failed to submit because I was so excited about New Zealander Tim Price winning the Burghley Horse Trials on the quirky but freakishly talented Ringwood Sky Boy

Grimey Drawer

magnificent7 posted:

Less gabby gabby more judgy judgy.

Edit. My avatar won't continue to prove my writing skills on its own you know. Jesus I was making a point at some point with this witty addition but holy poo poo I think I'm about to nod off now. Time for coffee glad I could contribute.

PRONBMP.

You're a loose cannon! You'll never reach S-tier with that attitude!

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


You're a loose cannon - 132 words.

Magnificent J Seven had had four cups of coffee, it was barely noon, and the office bathroom was busier than Grand Central Station at rush hour. He couldn't catch a break, but the coffee was going to blow no matter the availability of the two stalls in the men's room.

Something something loose cannon blowout here comes the judge.

lofi
Apr 2, 2018



Hey all, just a heads up that we now have a general chat thread, come chat generally.

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome

sebmojo posted:

Inter prompt: spiking the boss' coffee 200 words

The interprompt adventures of Mosebjo: 11

Currently spaceship-impaired Space Captain James regretted spiking his saviourís kumis as Mosebjo nuzzled Jamesí neck with his beard and whispered, ďI love you, Rose,Ē in his ear. The stuff in the vial he kept in his breast pocket was some of the best the galaxyís worst back alleys had to offer but perhaps he had overdone the dose.

He had hoped to loosen the barbarian up to the suggestion of guiding James to a city, where he might have some hope of finding parts to repair his ship, but so far the steppe-dweller had steadfastly refused.

James shivered in the cold night air. With a mental shrug he nestled himself closer against the warm, hairy belly and lifting an eyelid gave himself three drops. Moments later the stars exploded into a kaleidoscope of colour, and Mosebjoís snores began to sing James an ancient song of war and blood, and the pure joy of being free under the endless sky.

RandomPauI
Nov 24, 2006

I failed to submit because I was so excited about New Zealander Tim Price winning the Burghley Horse Trials on the quirky but freakishly talented Ringwood Sky Boy

Grimey Drawer

These are my personal opinions, and do not reflect the final decisions of the entire judgement panel.

My Personal Favorite

DJesser: Her Mission
Iím fond of Cascade as a missionary and a maternal theologian. This story didnít just touch on culture and religion, it speculated what it could be. I was lost about what was meant by Yeomen, and think the story would have had more of a resonance if Orange didnít mention religion at all. As if the spirit driving their religion was an entirely new that was uplifting the Golden Rosettes and would live up all of the octopodal kind.

My Honorable Mentions

Armac: Octopuses Remember Too Well
I felt like I was reading a story from the perspective of an octopus. I was thrilled at its ability to fool the shark and pained at its trauma from being captured and inability to find release save for risking death after evading it for so long. I felt a bit confused if you meant angler or anglerfish in the third sentence but the story doesnít suffer for it.

Ibntumart: The Octocameral Mind
This offered the most unique glimpse into the mind of an intelligent non-humanoid. I especially appreciated the mind fighting the body and itself. Unfortunately, I also found it a distressing and anxiety-provoking read. But thatís for personal reasons that wouldnít apply to most audiences.

The Technical Loser

BabyRyoga: Natural Selection
This story explicitly broke the prompt in the premise and the execution. On a personal level, I felt like the octopus was a bit too verbose but I recognized the behavior as one of the ways the octopus expressed pride in itself. Iím not going to begrudge an octopus or BabyRyoga for that.

The Rest

Antivehicular: Symbiosis
I felt disoriented at the start of the story: stuck between ďis this symbolism?Ē and ďis this an octopus settlement?Ē. This took away my enjoyment during the first read and the confusion stuck with thru me with the second read even though I knew it was about an octopus settlement proper. This is unfortunate because exploring the structure of the society would normally be my thing. I canít offer any advice on how to avoid that issue.

BadSeafood: As Thieves Deserve
Iím sympathetic to the crow and the boy, and was pleased to see crows communicating with each other and cooperating as if an attack on one was an attack on all. It also felt very crow-like. I felt lost during one middle section, ďhe claims he did not know that the soldier was mineĒ. Did the young crow not know it was his? Was the young crow pleading on the boy's behalf? That could use a rewrite for clarity.

Benny Profane: These few birds escape from the net, and fly away to the heavens
I liked the callback to the wrenn and also liked the cuttlefishís desire to understand. Her giving into her instincts felt appropriate, and the deaths of her and her mate were touching. But unfortunately, it didnít grab my attention very well. The fates of the parents and the journey itself felt predictable.

Canty: I Am Going Sledding.
The penultimate paragraph was the most joyful one to read of all the stories. But the rest suffers because so much is undeveloped. E.g., using emojiís for an animal's perspective can be a quick and easy way to show rapid changes in body language: but it fell flat because smilies were used. And the potential for conflict or growth or plot raised in the first half of the story are completely ignored in the second half.

Capt Doc: One For Sorrow
This was a beautiful and bittersweet piece that sincerely and effectively showed the magpies care and concern for a human. It also demonstrated the magpieís ingenuity and the cooperation between corvid-kind. I felt for her and could only hope that her human survived.

Capt Person: Under Snow At Night
I liked the raven inventiveness but by the time I got to this story, I was spent on crows eating eyes off a carcass. I didnít get a sense of conflict or urgency either. Or a sense that I was learning anything about how ravenís see things for that matter.

Deltasquid Puzzling Affairs
I was thrilled at how Curly figured out puzzles, empathized with humanity, and reunited with the landlubber she saved. But I was at a loss for what kind of aircraft to imagine and spent too much time trying to figure what and where this could be. The most natural instinct would be to place this in the Pacific campaign of WWII; the Rubix cube placed it no earlier than 1974, but most octopuses donít make it to 5 years.

Kaishi: Depth of Desire
The story has solid imagery and is well written, which is why it took me a second read to figure out what felt off with the story. It should have been told in the first person. In the third person, itís reminiscent of a nature documentary where the narrator ascribes meaning to the actions of the creature. But this is obviously an intelligent creature with her own thoughts, feelings, and instincts.

Magnificent 7: I AM ELMORE STANLEY
I liked Elmore being written as an antagonistic protagonist and how he met his demise. But Iím honestly lost about the relevance of him reporting his findings back to base and the bit about the Martians. And why the cuttlefish thought humanity would succumb to drowning. I think the storyís improved by cutting that out and ďand I am going to die todayĒ. But I'm not sure by how much.

Meinberg: Call A loving Quorum
This story did the most to give the corvids noticeably distinct voices. And I loved the last line. But I was surprised that the crows didnít already have an oral tradition of the past and had to handwave it away without coming to an explanation. And was confused why it was called a parliament when no formal decisions were made.

Solitair: The Gleam
Iím a sucker for sentimental stories. I liked the morning ritual, Skydives curiosity, and that the corvids shared cultural observations about human rituals with one another. I also enjoyed reading Skydives thought process.

Steeltoedsneakers: Recall
I was lost about where exactly the story took place. It had to be a place humans inhabited but thatís about all I could figure out. As a result, I spent more time trying to figure out what I was supposed to visualize than identifying with the mother and her struggles. I know pictures werenít allowed for the story but I feel like even a quick sketch of location would have been invaluable.

Thranguy: Seven for a Secret, Never to Be Told
This is one of the more enjoyable stories of the lot, and but it doesnít meet the spirit of the prompt. It reads more like a fable or a piece of folklore set on a magical Earth using anthropomorphized corvids. The corvids using a more formal tone is a nice change of pace from them using very simple language.

Yourichi: Invasive Species
The story was very effective. The details were vivid. In general, I try to give the stories at least two read-throughs. But I was despondent and disgusted after reading this story the first time around that I gave up during the second attempt.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

Note: judgment will be up in an hour or two, so enjoy randpaui's great crits but remember the results are yet to come!

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

Cephalocorvidian Judgment!

[flavor image]

First, some notes on the week. This was an interesting set of stories to read, foremost because they lacked a lot of the characteristics that make for dull, cliche TD stories. To shamelessly quote myself from earlier:

9:19 PM <sh> there was no Thing Happened, starring John Flashfic and Tony Crimeguy

What emerged instead was a bunch of cliches unique to this week, which is kind of a lateral move, but at least it made for a fresher reading experience. Maybe it's because I'm extremely partial to the subject matter, but I found myself wondering what was going to happen next while reading even the weaker stories of the week. I think it's because a lot of the usual Thunderdome tropes were off limits, so people had to come up with different kinds of stories to tell.

I noticed that the more notable stories were by people writing about things very, very far outside of their own experience (and yet perhaps not so far), but we'll get to that later

For now, let's get it out of the way: Your negative mentions for the week. This was not an easy decision. I even asked if we could have a DM-only week, because my headsman's axe is still dull from week 300, but my co-judges dutifully reminded me that this is Thunderdome, where nothing grows except what is irrigated by the blood of the fallen.

First, let's take a look at the perps:

Can'tDecideOnAName:

The case for the loss: I think you're not surprised to be here. This is a very simple story, and the use of emoticons doesn't quite land. It only indirectly addresses corvid intelligence, by way of showing the animals at play.

The case against the loss: This ended up being one of the lighter, less morose stories this week. No corpses! This reads like a fluffy little bit of for-fun writing, so it's hard to really even critique it against the other stories.

magnificent7

The case for the loss: This is a fairly cartoonish piece and it only addresses the issue of animal intelligence superficially, by making your cephalopods these sort of evil alien caricatures. The tone of the story is very....human. Especially the face loving bit.

The case against the loss: My co-judges laughed at the end. I gather from IRC that other people did, too. I did not, but I can kinda see it. And I would've absolutely loved a more serious story about alien cephalopods. You were one of the few people to add a genre fiction element to your story, which actually surprised me. Not that realism was a problem this week, but I thought more people would go for a far future setting.

BabyRyoga

The case for the loss: This is very lumpy. I didn't like how the octopus described itself in really robotic terms (like "suction conduits" or whatever). I lost all sense of what its goal or plan was at the end, beyond escape. The description of the action was a bit muddled.

The case against the loss: I think this is an improvement on some of your other stories. I appreciate that you tried to give the octopus kind of a baroque inner monologue to show the complexity of its intelligence, even if it didn't land very well.

Bottom line:

Mag7, you take the loss on this one, mostly by fiat, for teasing me with a cool concept and then leaving me dumbfounded by a face-gently caress. The other two scrape by with DMs.

On to happier things!

We are pleased to hand out oodles of HMs this week. Mostly, the judges were pretty happy with what they read. It's getting late and I think people are eager for this post to go up, so here are your honorable mentions:

cptn_dr!
Djeser!
Antivehicular!
Kaishai!
ibntumart!

All of you did things that made this judge extremely happy. I'll get to it in my crits, though.

Which brings me to the Winner! This story was a punch in the gut. It painted a very alien yet very human portrait of the narrator, and the ending hit all three judges like a ton of bricks made of compressed emotions. We were angry, we were empathetic, we were saddened. Also, "unreef" is a fantastic verb and we thank you for coining it.

Armack, the throne is yours.

Ah yes, and there is the matter of which team came out on top. Well, Team Cephalopod made a pretty dramatic showing in the positive mentions as well as the negatives. Team Corvid was at a numeric disadvantage, but there was overall something weaker about the bird stories. And believe me, it loving pains me to say so. I thinks it's because the lives of birds parallel the lives of humans a lot more than the lives of cephalopods. People who wrote about strange underwater sea monsters had to kind of stretch their imaginations a lot more. Many (not all) of the corvid writers focused on extremely realistic settings and conflicts, whereas stories about cephalopods were full of all kinds of crazy poo poo and cool conceits.

Anyway I suggest befriending something with tentacles sooner than later, because the cephalopods win!

that i'll have crits done the friday after this post.

Chili
Jan 23, 2004

College kids ain't shit


Grimey Drawer

Full disclosure, these crits are coming from a sleep deprived chili. They are not my best work. If you want a crit in further detail, please ask. Iím happy to deliver upon request.

I am a crow and I am going sledding : )

Well the title certainly didnít mislead, but it also kinda gave away the whole story. This pieceís focus is on voice, but is enough done with the voice to win me over? Not really. You ascribe a cutesy and childish tone to crows, and thatís a decent choice to make, but itís not a novel one. Couple that with a vignette where very little happens and thereís nothing about this story that feels fresh, or important. You state whatís going to happen in the title, and in the opening paragraphÖ and then thatís what happens. Kinda feels more like an essay in that sense of making sure everything is working toward a thesis except that the thesis isnít all that compelling.

Cptn_dr , One For Sorrow


OK, I see what you were doing. I think the problem was also part of what makes this story work. I kept waiting for something to happen, and nothing really did. WhichÖ your characters were also doing so I got to experience their frustration. Iím going to give you the benefit of the doubt and say that was intentional. I wouldnít be so generous if you didnít stick the landing, but you did. The sadness and intelligence is capture pretty loving solidly in this and Iím guessing stories like this are what sh was hoping for. Weíll see when it comes time for judgement!

Armackís Octopuses Remember Too Well

drat son, this hit like a loving horse. I donít really know what to say except this story nailed me to the wall. Your prose felt alien and odd which is good because cephs are basically both of those things. And even though your protag carries themselves with a certain level of objectivity, you definitely get the reader to care. I dug this big time.

Win Candidate

Puzzling Affairs


Eh, this is cute but itís really about people and you project an awful lot of humanity onto the octopus. I donít think that was the intention of this week. As it standsÖ the story is fine I guess. Nothing here really gets me going or captures or holds my interest. The ending was cute but this felt through and through like a childrenís story. Which is fine, I suppose, but I was hoping for a stronger showing from you.

Meinberg, Call A loving Quorum

The prose in this piece keeps covers up for the lack of intrigue within the story. Itís a light, breezy, and easy read. Not much to capture or hold my interest but I didnít suffer through it or anything.


Magnificent7, I AM ELMORE STANLEY. ,

Inconsistent, and a bit wackadoo, but eh, it was fun. I donít think thereís much to say here that you donít already know. You set out to write something with some bold as gently caress declarations and whatnot and yeah, itís fine.

Captain Person, Under Snow at Night

This is a flat story, with flat prose, and nothing to capture my interest or generate much in the way of an emotional response. Iíve dug some of your stuff in the past but this lacks the novelty of some of your stronger entries.

Thranguy, Seven for a Secret, Never to Be Told

This started off with promise, I dug the opening paragraph. But it kinda slipped into the realm of anthropomorphic concern (though drood has a special place in my heart so that got a smile out of me) and lost a lot of its steam as the story moved forward.


Djeser, Her Mission

Pretty as hell, and a solid story that respects the intelligence of the animals while keeping it unique and distinct.
BabyRyoga, Natural Selection

Unnecessarily baggy prose that doesnít serve the voice particularly well. If thereís a story here, Iím not seeing it until itís far too late and the meandering and over complicated, and overwrought descriptions place a large barrier between the reader and what you seem to want the reader to care about.

Antivehicular, Symbiosis


Donít want to get to critical of your choice to type these long names over and over again, cos like, yeah itís a choice. It ainít one Iím happy with and itís getting in the way of me enjoying this story. Anyhow, as it is this story is going over my head. Thereís pretty bits and the animals do seem to be handled pretty well but Iím not getting this. That may well be my own lovely reading comprehension. So, grain of salt yíknow?


Steeltoedsneakers, Recall

This works for me in a way thatís hard to explain. That may well be because itís very hard for me to decipher what happened in your story. But, the reactions of your protag, and the surety of its voice was compelling in a way few other stories struck me this week.

Yoruichi, Invasive Species

Heavy Handed, and a little anthro centric for the week. This did upset me, but its emotional resonance felt cheap as it was just people killing animals. I donít know, this didnít scratch the itch I was hoping for this week.


Solitair, The Gleam

This felt a bit like humanistic projection but the story and prose were strong enough that I didnít mind. Overall, this was an effective piece that conveyed solid emotion and evoked a response out of me, so good on you.

Benny Profane, These few birds escape from the net, and fly away to the heavens

The musing elements of this story tend to be a bit much for my taste. I kinda want things to get going faster. But, eventually, it does get going. The conclusion is sad and does highlight pretty much all of my fears around the ocean and why no one should ever go in it. So, thatís good I guess. Itís a functional piece, with good prose and polish but itís evocations, like many stories of the week donít feel entirely earned or fair.


Kaishai, Depth of Desire

Wasnít sure how I was going to feel about a fantastical take on the prompt, but I ended up liking it. The biggest reason, perhaps, is that you didnít play your animal as the victim. And that was all too common this week. I felt the force and intelligence of the kraken throughout the story and this worked for me. Well done.

Ibntumart, The Octocameral Mind

A messy, and confusing read to my eye. Starting things off as you did, framing a problem from a human point of view, I found to be a smart choice, but from there the ambition of this piece overshadows its execution. You swing for the fences and while you do a fair bit of work to capture the intelligence of the animal, the arc of the story isnít there for me.

Bad Seafood, As Thieves Deserve

Eh, nothing about this rings out as special. The motivation of the protagnoist, that of revenge, feels too human and not specific in any meaningful way to the species. But hey, itís short, clear, and slickly written. So, not bad.

Deltasquid
Apr 10, 2013

awww...
you guys made me ink!


THUNDERDOME


Thanks for the crits!

RandomPauI posted:


Deltasquid Puzzling Affairs
I was thrilled at how Curly figured out puzzles, empathized with humanity, and reunited with the landlubber she saved. But I was at a loss for what kind of aircraft to imagine and spent too much time trying to figure what and where this could be. The most natural instinct would be to place this in the Pacific campaign of WWII; the Rubix cube placed it no earlier than 1974, but most octopuses don’t make it to 5 years.


It was a nondescript world war 3, boss. Maybe I should have specified "jet" fighter.

Now,

Armack
Jan 27, 2006

Corde pulsum tangite


Week 307: Unitary Will



This week's prompt has three main parts:

1) When you sign up, I will give you a unit. It could be a unit of measurement, or it could be some unit that represents groups of creatures/things. Your story should be inspired by the unit and at least somewhat recognizably so, but you may not mention your unit by name in your story.

2) You must write a story in which a fully fleshed out, three-dimensional human protagonist has had their will shattered prior to the events of the story. Your story is about how they try to piece their will back together. By "will" I mean the character's agency or sense of autonomy and/or self. I don't care whether or not they succeed at reconstituting their will, but I want to see them overcome interesting conflicts to try. You should allude to how they lost their will but not dwell on it. However it happened, it happened prior to your story. Don't make your story about will-losing, make it about will-rebuilding.

3) Your story must be realistic enough that it could conceivably have actually happened in real life (either in a present-day or bygone-era setting). No speculative fiction, no magical realism, no surrealism, absurdism, etc.

Standard typical rules apply, no erotica, fanfic, etc.

Word Limit: 1100 words
Signup deadline: Friday, June 22nd at 11:59pm Eastern Time (US)
Submission deadline: Sunday, June 24h, 11:59pm Eastern Time (US) <---Note that it's not Pacific Time.

Judges:
Armack
Sitting Here
Antivehicular

Entrants and Assigned Units:
Deltasquid - the sone
Thranguy - the farthing
cptn_dr - the league
flerp - the ohm
Bad Seafood - the bushel
QuoProQuid - the gaggle
apophenium - the deciliter
Jay W. Friks - the furlong
Meinberg - the kelvin
ibntumart - the pack
Benny Profane - the Shoat Zmaniot
Chili - the fortnight
Carl Killer Miller - the cubit
Mercedes - the morpheme
Fuschia tude - the herd
Entenzahn - the kilogram meter per second
Kaishai - the ducat

Armack fucked around with this message at Jun 23, 2018 around 03:48

Deltasquid
Apr 10, 2013

awww...
you guys made me ink!


THUNDERDOME


Give me a unit, friend. I'm in.

Deltasquid fucked around with this message at Jun 19, 2018 around 07:55

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

I will judge, if you'll have me

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

'Read over your compositions, and when you meet a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out.' -Samuel Johnson

In

cptn_dr
Sep 7, 2011

It's just so good!


I'm in, gimme a unit!

Also, thanks for the crits folks.

flerp
Feb 25, 2014


in

Armack
Jan 27, 2006

Corde pulsum tangite


Deltasquid posted:

Give me a unit, friend. I'm in.

You shall have the non-SI unit of loudness: the sone


You shall have a unit of British currency: the farthing

cptn_dr posted:

I'm in, gimme a unit!

Also, thanks for the crits folks.

You shall have the league. You're allowed to use "league" as in a unit of length or as a unit of teams/sports entities.


You shall have the unit of resistance: the ohm

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Giving an inch to take a mile.

Armack
Jan 27, 2006

Corde pulsum tangite


Bad Seafood posted:

Giving an inch to take a mile.

You shall have that unit of dry capacity: the bushel

QuoProQuid
Jan 12, 2012

WHO LOVES BLOOD SODA?
KEL LOVES BLOOD SODA!


I do. I do. I do-oo.


Ok, in.

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


Sitting Here posted:

magnificent7

The case for the loss: This is a fairly cartoonish piece and it only addresses the issue of animal intelligence superficially, by making your cephalopods these sort of evil alien caricatures. The tone of the story is very....human. Especially the face loving bit.

The case against the loss: My co-judges laughed at the end. I gather from IRC that other people did, too. I did not, but I can kinda see it. And I would've absolutely loved a more serious story about alien cephalopods. You were one of the few people to add a genre fiction element to your story, which actually surprised me. Not that realism was a problem this week, but I thought more people would go for a far future setting.

Bottom line:

Mag7, you take the loss on this one, mostly by fiat, for teasing me with a cool concept and then leaving me dumbfounded by a face-gently caress. The other two scrape by with DMs.

I set out to write something that wasn't deep nor imaginative, but rather amusing and stupid. I'll take my eleventeenth loss and this time I'll wear that motherfucker with pride. If I made y'all laugh, and it wasn't due to a retard joke, then I'm happy.

Thanks for the crits, I'll be over in the corner playing with my feces if anybody needs me.

ADDED HERE INSTEAD OF ANOTHER POST.

Chili posted:

Full disclosure, these crits are coming from a sleep deprived chili. They are not my best work. If you want a crit in further detail, please ask. Iím happy to deliver upon request.

Magnificent7, I AM ELMORE STANLEY.
Inconsistent, and a bit wackadoo, but eh, it was fun. I donít think thereís much to say here that you donít already know. You set out to write something with some bold as gently caress declarations and whatnot and yeah, itís fine.
Thanks. Go get some sleep.

magnificent7 fucked around with this message at Jun 19, 2018 around 18:29

apophenium
Apr 13, 2009

I am a real boy.


Am in.

Obliterati
Nov 13, 2012

Ask me about being the most Magnificent Bastard in EU4 Multiplayer.

Wot no SF

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

I won a rosette in the Thunderdome


Interested in the third judge slot, if it's still open.

Also, to have crits for weeks 302 and 305 up before submission deadline for this week.

Jay W. Friks
Oct 4, 2016

Six of one, half dozen of another.

Grimey Drawer

In

Armack
Jan 27, 2006

Corde pulsum tangite


Antivehicular posted:

Interested in the third judge slot, if it's still open.

Also, to have crits for weeks 302 and 305 up before submission deadline for this week.

Yes, welcome aboard.

Armack
Jan 27, 2006

Corde pulsum tangite



You shall have that goose-grouping unit: the gaggle


You shall have a metric unit of volume: the deciliter


You shall have a unit of length: the furlong

Meinberg
Oct 9, 2011

ICE-MEIN


Sure, I'll give it a try.

Armack
Jan 27, 2006

Corde pulsum tangite


Meinberg posted:

Sure, I'll give it a try.

You shall have that unit of temperature: the kelvin

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ibntumart
Mar 18, 2007

Good, bad. I'm the one with the power of Shu, Heru, Amon, Zehuti, Aton, and Mehen.


College Slice

In for a penny, in for a pound or whatever unit I get.

Also, much appreciation for the crits, judges! chili, if the offer for further critique is on the menu still, I'm interested.

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