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M. Propagandalf
Aug 9, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER

In.

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M. Propagandalf
Aug 9, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER

SUPPLICANT
Word count: 1372

“I don’t remember calling you to my chambers.”

“You did not.”

“And yet here you are.”

The boy before the warlock trembled, with his head, fully bound in gauze, bowed. The boy clenched his fists, and through the narrow slits in his wrappings that allowed sight, lifted his head and locked eyes with his master.

“I want my freedom.”

Towards any other servant, Khaziek would have brought his scepter upon their head. But the boy was different. Indentured or free, there was possibly no one like him.

***

He had acquired the boy from the orphanage. Before it burned down, it was an open secret that labour there could be had there for cheap. Though necromancy provided the most cost efficient labour, Khaziek, to his chagrin, could not reanimate corpses to do his bidding. Thus, he paid a visit to the orphanage. No pretense to be a caring guardian was necessary, for the matron was satisfied to have anyone relieve her of the human overflow. Khaziek was certain he could easily find a handful of children of sufficient health and intelligence. What he encountered instead were halls crammed with the sick and the malnourished.

As he perused the orphanage for something of worth, his eye caught three boys as they dragged alongside them a much smaller child. Their hands clamped over his head to muffle his screams, as they threw him into a room. The three boys slunk in, and locked the door behind them. Curious, Khaziek muttered a simple incantation, and peered through the walls.

The room lights were off. The boys had a torch between them. They surrounded the child, who had a sack over his face.

“Gonna to get it now, freak.”

“You scared?”

“Thought you’d get away with stopping us from getting our share of the food, huh?”

Standing as calmly as he could, the child replied through the sack.

“We all need to eat as much as you do. You could all stand to be leaner.”

They shoved the child, his back smacking the wall before sliding to the ground.”

“gently caress you! Half the kids here can barely hold a spoon. Food’s wasted on the lot of them.”

“I can hold mine.”

“Not after today you won’t.”

“Promising,” thought to himself Khaziek’s as he witnessed the proceedings. The three boys seemed capable of the work he had in store. He decided to approach the matron after for their adoption as soon as the violence was done with. But the violence proceeded differently than he imagined.

“When we’re done with you, your body’s going to match that face of yours.”

“Nah. Let’s do it other way around.”

“What do you mean?”

“We’re going to be beat the ugly out of him.”

“Beat him with a handsome stick? Hah!”

“Yeah freak. We’re doing you a favour. Once this is over, you might be able to earn pity shags from the girls.”

“You might even have a shot at Gladia.”

“Yeah like—what the gently caress did you say?”

“To be honest, Gladia’s a bit stiff.”

“You pricks loving touched my sister?!”

A punch shot out. One of the boys dropped to ground.

“Hey, it wasn’t me!”

“Don’t loving lie to me! I know what I heard.”

“And I know what I said! Unlike you, I’m not tafford enough to spill my shag streak.”

“You know what my sister went through before we came here. To even talk like that…”

“Piss off with your sob story. Yer dad shoulda diddled her some more.”

“Who the gently caress wants to gently caress Gladia anyway?”

“Apparently, a daughter only a father would gently caress.”

Another fist went flying. And another. Khaziek stood astonished, barely able to tell which boy was speaking for themselves. For the boy who said that he had not spoken first spoke in truth. Something was mimicking not just their voices, but the very direction from which the voices were heard. As the boys descended to fighting themselves, the child intended for their torment quietly crawled away. The child opened the door, and slid out. Gingerly closing the door behind the bloodshed, he faced Khaziek and gasped.

“Those boys killing themselves. Is that your doing?”

“I… I…”

“Stop stammering boy. Answer me. Did you set those boys upon themselves?”

“Please don’t tell the matron. I have nowhere else to go.”

Khaziek stopped to think. He knew a handful of audiomancers able to perform what this child had done, and it required years of practice. This child could be no older than ten.

“Why do you wear that sack?”

“My face. I was born with my face… missing.”

“Show me.”

“Please don’t ask me to do that.”

“Show me now, or I tell the matron.”

The child responded immediately. As he lifted the sack from his head, Khaziek winced. What confronted him look as if nature had clawed out a fistful of the child’s face. What flesh remained appeared to have been crudely folded over, leaving misaligned eyes, and a cavity which Khaziek assumed served as a mouth.

“Put the sack back on.”

Relieved, the boy did so.

“Tell me boy, are you happy with your life here?”

“N-No.”

“Then let me offer you a way out…”

***

Eight years had passed since the day he took the boy from the orphanage. He proved himself a most auspicious asset. In Khaziek’s mind, it was a blessing that nature had made him irredeemably ugly, for the boy remained fearful of being seen by the world. What could have prompted him now to seek his way out from his grasp? Khaziek sought to crush his aspiration.

“Why should you ask for your freedom?”

“The law states that having done five years of service, an indenturee may demand their emancipation.”

“I know what the laws state. I’m asking you why are you asking for your freedom. Are you not grateful for what you have here? From what I rescued you from?”

“I will never forget that you took me away from that misery. But I remember that you had asked me if I was happy.”

“I give you food, clothes, and shelter. More than you would have ever had if the orphanage had not burned.”

“My misery is lessened. But I have never been happy here. I have served you faithfully. But I want out. Now.”

Khaziek gave a sigh and stood out of his chair.

“Boy, what could you possibly want outside my confines? I am doing you a favour, keeping you here.”

“You keep me hidden. You siphon credit for all my works and pass it off as your own.”

“Is that so?”

“I too can see through walls. Even better than you.”

In a flash, Khaziek was immediately beside the boy, who yelped as he was kicked to his knees.

“You forget your place, boy! You presume to think that you are ready to face the world now? Perhaps a simple reminder should dispel that foolishness.”

“What are you doing?”

“Tell me, when was the last time you looked yourself in the mirror?”

It was indeed some time since the boy had seen his reflection, for the gauze that Khaziek had enchanted was self-cleaning to prevent infection. There was no need to take it off, except to see the face beneath. In one hand, Khaziek gripped the boy’s head, while in another, he held a mirror.

“No, please! Don’t take it off.”

“You need a reminder boy! See yourself!”

The gauze was torn away. The mirror was held in his face. With malformed eyelids he could not control, the boy could not even close his eyes from the sight before him.

It was worse than he remembered, even in the span of just a few years, the ugliness had metastasized far beyond what he thought possible. He stared at the self-monstrosity and wept.

Khaziek let go of the boy.

“You think you are ready to face the world. But tell me, do you think the world is ready to face you? Forget about leaving. It’s safe here.”

Khaziek walked back to his chair.

“Take your rags and go. If you cannot bind them yourself, I will weave new gauze for you tomorrow. Now leave.”

His head bowed once more, the boy left the chambers.

[Edited to remove some grammatical issues. Disqualify me if necessary]

M. Propagandalf fucked around with this message at 05:02 on Sep 3, 2018

M. Propagandalf
Aug 9, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER

In.

M. Propagandalf
Aug 9, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER

sebmojo posted:

Gleeful, homesick




Funhouse
1236 Words

Yolanda blasted out of the rift portal like a pinball launch, rolling headlong before smashing into a bookcase. As far entrances into new dimensions went, she had suffered worse. Massaging her neck as she picked herself up from the wood splinters, she prepared herself for the next artifact she had to find in whatever this world had in store for her.

“My, my. What do we have here?”

Yolanda spun around. Standing before her was a man whose appearance was rather off-putting. It wasn’t so much the eye pendant with its gleaming stare nor was it the yolk-stained mask that reeked a matching odour. The man stood in place with his hands out, his fingers cycling the air in anticipation of Yolanda’s response. Something behind the whole appearance was troubling in a way she couldn't quite put her finger on, until it dawned upon her.

“You’re wearing blackface?!”

His fingers stopped cycling.

“Oh dear,” the man replied blinking rapidly, “Have I done something wrong? And here I thought you would be delighted in my Funday best.”

“You were expecting me?”

“But of course! There’s always a guest to prepare for on the day of Antishabbath. It only comes once a decade: the day where we have fun… to the extreme!”

He bowed as his arm spanned out to room before Yolanda. A warm incandescent light filled what appeared to be a lobby showcasing an array of beeping and buzzing contraptions. Somewhere in the distance, a steam organ was playing a melody off-key.

“What are all these?”

“Games! An infinity to choose and play from. You could lose yourself in the fun of it all.”

“Who else is here besides you?”

The exuberance in the man’s eyes dimmed at the question.

“Alas, you’re the only guest here at the moment. But we can make company with two. Whadda you say? How about we get going with a game? I’ll let you pick.”

“Do you win prizes from any of these games?”

“Why of course! Was there trinket of some sort you were hoping score?”

Yolanda shifted her backpack off and took out a book. Making a mental count to herself, she flipped the book to page 666.

“You have anything around here that looks like this?”

On the page was a pentagram, crudely drawn as though the illustrator had no writing instruments at hand and resorted to finger-painting with blood. At the center, a cartoonish, innocent face smiled.

“Ah! I know that one!” the man replied as he rubbed his hands together, “but it will be a bit of a challenge. Come with me to the Talon.”

The man pranced off as Yolanda followed suit. Passing by several game cabinets, they arrived before the game in question. The Talon turned out to be a claw crane game, at least this universe’s take on it, just with a more eldritch aesthetic. The claw seemed to be a fossilized talon dangling over various prizes of creatures, both dead and undead. The man peered through the glass of the unholy miniature menagerie before pointing excitedly.

“Aha! That’s what you’re looking for, isn’t it?”

Under a layer of the creatures, Yolanda spotted the prize: a blood-soaked pentagram plushie.

“It’s not smiling though,” Yolanda observed.

“It’s ticklish to the talon. When it gets tickled, it’ll smile.”

Yolanda pointed to the controls on the cabinet.

“So this game – you just control the talon and move it to whatever prize you want to try and grab it, right?”

The man turned to Yolanda. Behind the mask, his eyes widened.

“You know how to play this game?”

“We have something similar where I’m from. Just that the prizes usually aren’t… organic.”

“Oh but that must make it such a bore!”

Yolanda looked back to the machine. Seeing what looked to be a coin slot, she pushed a quarter. Thequarter was compatible with the machine as the claw inside the cabinet whirred to attention. With her teeth pressing against her lips, Yolanda gingerly guided the claw over the pentagram plushie, and hit the trigger. The claw gradually lowered down, but before it could reach the pentagram, an impish-looking creature darted into its grasp. As the talon clamped down, it carried the living creature up, dropping it through cabinet chute. Yolanda watched with curiosity as the creature slid out from the machine. In a high-pitched voice, it gave what were its first, and final words.

“HAHAHA! FREE AT LAST, SUCKERS. NOW I GET TO… WAIT, YOU PEOPLE BREATHE AIR? OH DIABLOS! SEND ME BACK! SEND ME—”

The imp promptly petrified in a pose of agony.

“Quite the souvenir this will make,” the man mused as he picked up the statuette.

“Not what I’m going for though. Are those things going to get in the way like that every time?”

“Yes. Some of them aren’t allergic to oxygen either. It’s so interesting – you always win something different when you play the Talon!”

“I don’t care about winning something every time I play," Yolonda spat, "I just want that plushie!”

“Is it that important to you?”

“Yes! It’s my only way out of this… place!”

“Y-You’re not staying?”

“To spend an eternity playing these creepy arcade games? I want to get back home, drat it!”

The man stood shock-still. His head sank as he turned away.

“So you’re a rifter, huh? I was hoping you'd stay, at least for a while. This place can be fun when you give it the chance, but it’s a lot more fun when there’s more than one person.”

Yolanda reached out and placed her hand on the man’s shoulders.

“That was rude of me, and I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be a jerk to your world like that.”

“It’s not actually my world… I used to be a rifter too. I tried to get back home, but I just never got to…”

The man sighed. With his head still down low, he stretched out his right hand and snapped. In his finger appeared a quarter-sized green coin. Holding it to Yolanda, he replied,

“Use this on the Talon, and tell it what you want.“

Yolanda took the coin and inserted it into slot. The fossilized claw turned to life as green scaly flesh grew over it. Stretching from side to side, it tilted palm-side towards Yolanda and in its center, it opened an eye, looking expectantly towards her.

“The pentagram plushie, please?”

The claw twitched in acknowledgment and descended. A number of creatures began to try to grab hold of it, only to be swatted aside. Taking hold of the plushie, the claw raised itself to deposit its quarry down the chute. Upon fulfilling its duty, the claw reverted to fossil once more.

Yolanda took hold of the plushie, which was now smiling. With some trepidation, she gave the plushie a hug. There was a flash of light and a boom as a rift portal opened before her. As she prepared herself for the next dimension, she looked wistfully back to man in the yolk mask.

“What was your home world like?” Yolanda asked.

The man looked up in surprise.

“Boring compared to here. Although thinking back, it was kind of nice.”

“You know, you’re free to join me if you want. Maybe we might come across it again.”

Behind the mask, Yolanda thought she could feel the man smiling.

“It would be nice to give all this fun a rest.”

M. Propagandalf
Aug 9, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Yoruichi posted:

:siren: Interprompt: Naked pirates, flying ships and dinosaurs. 200 words. Go. :siren:

For what it's worth:


Human Storage
240 Words

“For fucks sakes Phil, I told you Angela was stopping by. Put some clothes on!”

Before him was a swath of opened chip bags, pop bottles, and instant noodle cannisters. The garbage encircled the living room couch like a moat, and upon that couch reclined Phil. The fat of his body presently concealed the worst of his shame.

“Relax. I’ve got a blanket here,” Phil replied. Jake couldn’t help notice how bad Phil’s teeth looked. He wondered whether if any vitamin C had made its way into Phil’s diet lately.

“Also, I got a message from utilities saying that they’re shutting down our line ‘for failure to comply with our cease and desist notices,” seethed Jake, “Have you been torrenting poo poo again?”

“I masked the line man.”

“You’ve masked gently caress all, and even if it worked, I told you not to! We’re on a tethered line in this shithole of a solar system!”

“It’s a noble sacrifice for we’ve done for the Warez front. We were the first to leak Megasaurus XVIII before it hit theaters. We’re legends man!”

“gently caress you. When I come back, we will have a talk.”

The ship bell buzzed. Jake rushed to the airlock and opened the door.

“Hey Angela!”

“Jake! And oh, hey Phil.”

“Hey Angela,” replied Phil, now covered by a blanket, “By the way if you guys watch the new Megasaurus, it’s good. Better than seventeen, but sixteen is still the best.”

M. Propagandalf
Aug 9, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER

In.

M. Propagandalf
Aug 9, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER

The ZIA Squad
Episode ###: The Curator
Word count: 2073

History was the last class of the day. Normally, Zelda struggled to stay awake as Mrs. Tokugawa droned on over things like agricultural reform policies. Today however, Zelda wasn’t just awake, she was worried.

“Did you see Imelda today?” whispered Alexia from the desk beside her.

“Not since the field trip,” Zelda replied with a frown, “I thought she stayed at your place over the weekend?”

“No. Her parents are out of town until Wednesday. She was supposed to look after her brother until then. He called me to ask if I knew where she was.”

“What did you say?”

“I told him she was studying with me, though I did check on him yesterday. He seemed to be getting by on TV dinners and video games.”

“Where could she be?”

“Girls, do you have something to share with the class?”

Alexia and Zelda glanced up at the scowl of their teacher.

“Sorry Mrs. Tokugawa.”

“We’re just making sure one of us takes down notes to share with Imelda.”

Mrs. Tokugawa softened.

“You are good friends. Also, remind her that the report on the museum visit is due Wednesday. Moving on…”

Zelda nibbled at her pencil, waiting for the clock to ticked down. With school dismissed, she and Alexia went to the wooded park. Checking to see no one was near, they tapped the secret pendants they wore, before glittering in a shower of light as they were transported to SODA-1, the floating cloud citadel. It was here that Zelda and Alexia oversaw Earth’s safety, alongside Imelda. And by Princess Mahdisan’s divine name, they would get Imelda back. For by their combined powers, they were…

The ZIA Squad.

***

“Girls! What brings you here?” yapped Shiiba’t. He wagged his tail, but stopped when he sensed something was wrong. “Where’s Imelda?”

“That’s what we’re trying to find out. Can you run a trace on her pendant?”

Shiiba’t leapt up to the control panel and began pawing the buttons. The command screen switched on as it brought up a map of Nihonda, zooming down on their hometown, Supuringufirudo, and finally locking down on a building.

“That’s… the museum we went to for the field trip! She never left?!”

Alexia looked at her watch. “It’s closed now. Not that it matters. We have to check it.”

Zelda nodded. “Shiiba’t, can you beam us in?”

“Right away.” barked Shiiba’t. As they glittered, he wished them off.

“Godspeed girls, and stay vigilant!”

***

The girls teleported to a dark place. Even without vision, the echo Zelda made with her first step hinted the area was large, like a school gym. Alexia switched on her torchlight, and the girls gasped. All around them were statues of… people? Some of them looked human, while others looked from out of this world. They only seemed to share one thing in common: they looked like people you would not want to pick a fight with.

As they examined the statues, Zelda caught a green glow, the colour of Imelda’s pendant. Hurrying over, they found Imelda petrified in alabaster white.

“Oh Imelda! What did they do to you?!”

“I can assure you she’s safe,” replied a coarse voice.

Zelda and Alexia swung around. Before them stood an elderly man. He wore a suit with patches sewn to the elbow. His skin was greyish-teal, as though he were a statue himself. His brow was creased, and he smiled wistfully.

“What did you do to our friend?” demanded Alexia.

“First, allow me to restore her.”

Zelda and Alexia immediately clutched their pendants. The man tenderly shook his head.

“Not now.”

Hesitantly, the girls stepped aside. The man approached and placed his hand over Imelda. Muttering an incantation, he withdrew his hand, and like an egg cracking open, Imelda burst out. The girls rushed to their friend and hugged her.

“Are you okay?” asked Zelda.

“I’m fine,” coughed Imelda.

Alexia snarled at the man, “Who are you?! Why did you do this?”

The man bowed. “I will explain.”

The man held out his hands. From his palms, a hologram flashed to the air, and a blue planet hovered into view.

“I am General Kyureta. I come from a world far away. Several millennia ago, an evil force invaded us: the Entropians.”

A black speck, like a tadpole, dove into the planet, followed by another, and another. Before long, the planet was swarmed black.

“Our heroes fought valiantly, but in vain. I was one of a few who managed to flee.”

The hologram zoomed out, revealing a galaxy of other coloured planets.

“Fortune permitted me to find refuge in other worlds and I warned them of the Entropians.”

From the first darkened planet, a ripple radiated out. As the ripple touched other planets, they turned black and sent their own ripple. The hologram turned black.

“But those worlds fell too.”

Kyureta closed his hands as if in prayer.

“I started to think this vile force was unstoppable. But then it dawned on me… the heroes from each world had tried to protect their homes only. They failed, because they fought alone. But If the galaxy’s heroes could be assembled to fight as one, there could be a chance to stop them. I made it my quest to seek the galaxy’s greatest heroes and gather them. My quest has brought me here…”

Kyureta opened his hands to a new hologram.

…In other news today, the ZIA Squad defended the Yamato nuclear power facility against a herd of Cyber-Magmalossi. The attack coincided with Prime Minister Usagi’s scheduled hosting of the International Atomic Energy Committee held there. Fortunately, the meeting proceeded as scheduled, with dignitaries reporting only slight inconveniences while the ZIA Squad did battle with the laser-armed dinosaurs…

Kyureta looked solemnly to the girls and pointed.

“ZIA Squad. You are this world’s greatest defenders. Join my assembly of heroes to fight the Chaos Menace!”

The girls stood in shock. Recovering from they just learned, Alexia asked,

“When and where will we battle these Entropians?”

“I do not yet have the army necessary to take them on. But as time goes, they grow stronger. You must come with me aboard my starship.”

“This is so much for us to take in. We’re the ZIA Squad, but we’re teenagers too… We have lives here– school, our family and friends…”

“Some of us haven’t even had a chance to fall in love yet!”

Kyureta looked at the girls coldly.

“Do you think your planet will be spared? Everything you care for will die if the Entropians come.”

“General Kyureta, we need time. In a few years…”

“There is no time. The power of ZIA draws from your youth. You are at your fighting prime. I cannot risk you growing old.”

“What do you mean you can’t risk us growing old? Everyone does!”

Kyureta gestured to the statues.

“See the heroes before you. Some are centuries in age. Yet by my powers, they are as robust as the day they joined me!”

The girls looked at the statues. As Zelda examined them closely, she felt a chill.

“They didn’t join willingly, did they?”

Kyureta’s face darkened. He buried his face into his palms as he mumbled, “Why do they never see what is at stake? Why are they always so selfish?!”

Kyureta began to writhe, making a noise through his hands like sobbing and laughter. The statues began to grind and shuffle.

“If you will not join willingly, I will take you by force!”

The girls immediately grabbed their pendants, shouting:

“BY THE POWERS OF TRUTH, HOPE, AND LOVE. MAHDISAN, HEAR US!”

In an instant, they were fitted in their battle dress: liquid steel armour that hardened or flowed to their will, draped over phoenix feathered tunics, their flames licking those that would wish harm to their wearers. In their hands: Soothscyther, the blade that sliced mendacity to expose truth, Caelumgafol, the hammer that struck the heavens to yield starfall, and Perpathos, the bow whose arrows pierced even the blackest of hearts so compassion could flow again. By now, every statue had turned to face the ZIA Squad, encircling them with their weapons brandished.

“Get them!” rasped Kyureta.

What outcome could be expected from earth’s best three against the greatest from the galaxy’s multitudes? The ZIA squad battled admirably, but the outcome was swift. The girls were brought to their knees, held down by the statues. As Kyureta stood over the girls, he looked at them with a mixture of triumph and sorrow.

Try as she might, Zelda couldn’t refrain from whimpering as Kyureta cast the petrification spell upon her friends. The spell was cast on her last, and when it was done, she felt as though every fibre of her body was sucked out, refilled with cement. From the edge of her eyes she saw a black ink cover her, creeping from her feet towards her head. As it trickled towards her face, she tried to scream, but the ink dribbled into her mouth, muting her exclamation. The ink filled her nose, then her ears, before taking her eyes last. Drowning in the black terror, she felt only the palpitations of her heart. As it weakened, she felt an unwanted peace overtake her. With her heart at a standstill, she heard a whisper.

“Remember your family and your friends. Let their memories be your last comfort as you cease.”

“No.”

“No? In your last moments, you would forsake their memory?”

“I will always remember my friends and family… but I will not cease. It is because I remember them that I am, and will be!”


There was a sudden tremor, causing debris to rain from the ceiling. Kyureta looked up in confusion. A second tremor struck, and then a third. And then the ceiling collapsed. From above, the refulgent light of a rainbow struck down, and on its beams stampeded a herd of unicorns, seven to each colour. As the first hoof struck the floor, it sent a shockwave that shattered the statue shell trapping the girls. They broke free, gasping for breath. At once, the army of statues took to battle against these unicorns of the spectrum. The girls turned back to battle, and with their added might, the ZIA squad gained the upper hand. With a Triune Helix Gavel Strike, the battle ended, and the girls stood with the unicorns victorious.

“Thank you, friends, for coming in our moment of need,” Imelda spoke, as she stroked the head of a unicorn.

The unicorns gathered themselves. Rearing on their hind legs, they whinnied as one, and galloped back to the heavens on the fading rainbow road.

In the midst of the debris and shattered statues, there was a groan. Looking around, the girls spotted Kyureta and crouched to his side. He had been gored in the chest, the wound splintering out as his body began to crumble away.

“All these millennia… what have I done? I am not only a murderer. I plundered the very hope of worlds before they were plunged into darkness…”

Kyureta convulsed, splintering more of his body away. Imelda reached out with a pained look and took Kyureta’s hand.

“ZIA Squad. Today I was blessed to see your powers. Powers that, on their own, may be able to defeat the Entropians! I know not when I felt this last, nor do I deserve it, but I feel it now: Hope. Thank you for defeating me.”

Imelda gasped as Kyureta’s hand gave way like sand in hers.

“History will remember me a villain, but I beg of you to remember only this: The Chaos Menace will come. Prepare yourselves!”

“We will be prepared,” answered Alexia.

Zelda thought for a moment. Turning back to Kyureta she asked, “What was the name of your home world?”

Kyureta looked into the distance as his eyes glazed over. The silence lingered as Kyureta’s body continued to crumble away. Then his eyes shot back to Zelda.

“Ziotanejo…” uttered Kyureta, “It was Ziotanejo.”

Zelda stood up and looked intensely into Kyureta.

“General Kyureta of Ziotanejo. You journeyed far and suffered much. You came to Earth to deliver a message for its survival. You have given us a fighting chance. For this, we will remember you.”

Kyureta smiled wistfully. A breeze from the collapsed ceiling blew down, flowing and sweeping him away. The girls held hands in a circle and prayed. When they were finished, they touched their pendants and glittered off into the morning.

M. Propagandalf
Aug 9, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER

The Intruder
Word Count: 157

It seemed like any other day for the idyllic town of Blocksville. Its citizens went about their day with polite smiles affixed. The last raid had happened so long ago, and the town had recovered substantially, even growing significantly since. Everyone was lulled into a false sense of security.

That’s when the DUPLOVOX struck.

The giant machine of red-yellow-blue hurtled from the sky, smashing the firehall first. As it ground every building to rubble, it proceeded on its rampage, hurtling cars into another dimension, and decapitating the citizens with cruel precision.

“Dylan, you little brat. Why are you here— WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO MY LEGO COLLECTION?”

Alas, Blocksville’s emergency alert system had been triggered, and before long, its defence forces would converge. If the DUPLOVOX did not retreat quickly, its psychic connection with the Overlord would be at risk of being severed.

Assessing the raid a success, the DUPLOVOX blasted away back to its home dimension.

M. Propagandalf
Aug 9, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Well poo poo, I wish I had found out about the archives earlier, if only to see how long I cowered for as a coward (roughly five years).

In with One Last Play by Killer-of-Lawyers.

M. Propagandalf
Aug 9, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Unfinished, but I'll take castigation over failure.

Groomer
(910 Words)

Prompt:
One Last Play by Killer-of-Lawyers


Command’s pairing lottery assigned me to one ‘Brian Hallman’. Human male. Caucasian. Thirty-seven. An older specimen, but otherwise in good condition. The assignment followed standard protocol: ingratiate self with subject, oversee subject well-being for a two-year period, acclimate subject digestive system to be favourable to Thoxian foods, paving the way for the end phase host assumption. I had two hundred years of experience working on humans, and was respected among my peers for being an expert in Earth assimilations. Perhaps this lulled me into a false sense of security that the Hallman case would be easy.

We met at a gathering where their species inebriate themselves. Background profiling enabled me to assume a form that appealed to his biometrics criteria. The compounding benefit of the subject’s recent divorce enabled the necessary rapport threshold to be achieved faster than average.

Despite my experience, Earth’s cultural milieus varies enough to force me to stay up-to-date. I adopted the subject’s use of high-caloric consumables as names of affection. I found it difficult to share the subject’s enthusiasm towards movies of his choice, which I verified against the consensus of his own species at large to be generally ill-favoured. During these viewing sessions, I set my interested behaviour routine on auto, and on completion, the subject appeared appreciative, at one point, comparing me favourably against his former mate who could not refrain from reviling his movie preferences.

Our technicians take the indigenous food items of the target species, and splice them with Thoxian protein strains. The protein content can be spliced in gradations, as the overpowering taste of Thoxian protein generally proves suspicious, if not fatal, if ingested at high concentrations. Having achieved a significant level of the subject’s trust, I began modifying his diet. Arguing out of concern for his well-being, he accepted foods of appearance to what his species perceived of as salubrious, which he conveniently associated to inferior taste, though not without protest.

***

“Is this celery?!” he nearly spat on the first Rosathoxian protein dish that I introduced.

“Yes, muffin. Is something wrong?” I had set the initial protein splice to the absolute minimum. I asked myself how he could he possibly be picking up on such low concentrations.

“I don’t know, it just tastes… off.”

“Tastes like regular celery to me. Maybe you just need to mix it with some dip.”

“Yeah, I’ll try that. Sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings.”

“It’s okay. I guess it would taste weird to me if I had to suddenly change from microwaved meat-and-potatoes and start eating vegetables that I haven’t had in a while. I’m just glad you’re willing to try.”

“Anything that will make you happy, honey.”

***

Thus, aside from the protein introduction, I did not foresee any issues to preparing the subject for host assumption, except one: American football.

Earth has two primary variants of this religion, and the subject was unfortunately seduced by the more injury prone of the two. At the time of the lottery assignment, the subject was still a practitioner, though had managed to avoid injury. Given the subject’s age however, any injury that did occur risked a lengthy recovery time, assuming it could even be recovered from. Host assumption demanded that all subjects be completely free of injury or defects. I had met this demand for the last two hundred years, and this Hallman specimen was not to be an exception.

Persuading him away from his religion proved a challenge however. For all the mating behaviour I mimicked, it was not to enough to dissuade him. Ultimately my persuasion was achieved with two additional items. First, a compromise: he would surrender his practice of football to the ameliorated risk of flag ball. Secondly, a material reward: if he maintained his stay from his religion to my specified duration, (up to the date when the host assumption was scheduled) I pledged to him a prized human gadget of his desire.

The subject appeared compliant. In fact, the plan was even more successful that I imagined, as the substitute religion did not pleasure him to the degree he sought. He stopped playing entirely, and our rapport increased. I felt assured he would be safe. Everything seemed to go according to plan for the host assumption.

***

“Muffin, honey. Dinner’s rea—” I stopped myself, as the subject stood, bandages layered on his head, “what happened to you?”

“Okay honey, I know this sounds crazy, but me and the guys were at Home Depot…”

Behavioral cues already indicated his story to be false, but that wasn’t my pressing concern. I needed to assess the damage. “Can I take a look?”

“It’s really not that bad…”

When the bandages were peeled aside, I immediately set the empathy behaviour routine on auto. If I hadn’t, I might have killed him then and there.

Two weeks before host assumption. Two weeks. And standing in front of me was a subject I had put nearly two years of work into with a gaping wound that had no means for immediate repair, at least not with this planet’s primitive medical technology. But if our technology could be used…

It was a risk. Any subject known to be tampered by Thoxian modification, aside of diet, was not acceptable to host assumption. Not to say one couldn’t get away with it, but if one were to be discovered, the legal consequences were fatal. It was a risk I was willing to take.

M. Propagandalf
Aug 9, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER

In.

M. Propagandalf
Aug 9, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Blood for Blood
Word Count: 560
Object: a grand staircase

When the palace came to being, so did I. Upon me walked many a statesman whom I led to chambers, offices, and the state room. The presidents and their families lived here. Some I remember longingly, a few not so much. One I despise. The name? I would rather be pulverized than peddle Herostratian fame. To me, he was the Corruptor.

I first encountered the devil when he was defence minister. Privy to the mutterings under his breath, I feared for the president, a man of noble heart, but of no confidence to the people he fought for. What fear I regarded for that man was doubled for his family: a gentle wife, and three loving children who chased each other over my steps, sliding down my banisters when the adults were out of sight.

The Corruptor’s ambitions were insatiable, and my fears were realized. On the day of the coup d’état, his thugs seized the president’s family. They clung to me, my agony a sliver to theirs, but a sliver eternalized as their nails tore splinters off my balustrade. No child has touched me since.

The Palace turned foul, becoming whoresty and abattoir in one. Above me, the wall was stripped of the portraits of those who served within us past, forced to the indignity of bearing his mural alone. The floor, once host to galas renowned abroad, became the grounds for his sadistic circus. I speak of their sufferings from proximity. I assume no part of the palace went undefiled.

Of course, the living hated him more, and if an unliving as I can hate, mine should pale to the murdered. I am unworthy to speak of his tyranny. Had I recourse to my own unmaking, I would will myself gone. But I am, so I will curse. What I wish I could have given for one moment to break my steps beneath his feet, or to collapse my banister those nights he disgraced this house, drunkenly pawing his way up and down, enslaved in tow. What I wish I could have given to have him suffer even a mere sprain. Yet however grotesque his asymmetrical figure, I never had the satisfaction of even a stumble from him.

His end couldn't come soon enough. As the treasury shrunk, his enemies grew. The day came when the last of his armed idolaters turned praetorian to the desired persuasion. The palace was stormed. Boot upon boot clomped. They dragged him out to the top of me, the very spot where he pleasured himself to the suffering below.

They started sawing his head. His screams turned to a gargle, there was a hurrah as they let his head roll down me, and like a champagne bottle uncorked, blood overflowed, seeping like a waterfall to my bottom step. I savoured it all.

A new president has been installed. He is a wretch, but not a devil. The portraits are damaged, but have returned to the wall. The floor is divested of galas, but blood pools no more. The Corruptor is dead, but not effaced. Like you who age in wrinkles, I aged a cranny, though faint to perception. When jubilation at the tyrant’s death had settled, they mopped his blood. A drop, ever so slight, seeped into my age, coagulated now. The blood I savoured has soured. Condemnation of memory, I cannot.

M. Propagandalf
Aug 9, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Thranguy posted:

Interprompt

Stories from the point of view of an abstract concept. No anthropomorphism. I mean, you can write from the pov of the concept of anthropomorphisn itself, But don't, you know, anthropomorphize it.

250 words

Failure of Imagination
Word Count: 95

There it ended abruptly: the promise, unfulfilled. It had promised, as many things do, only to lead me to the wasteland of unfulfillment. Was I naive? Was I unfaithful? Misled as I had been past by the hydra-headed wiles of procrastination? I did not think so.

And yet here I am: pursued by deadline, at the precipice of nowhere. What do I dread more? The coronation by that laurel of thorns? Or the plunge to efface my misbeget?

The light to journey sets. The deadline menaces.

However haphazard, however laughable, I ready myself.

I reply.

M. Propagandalf
Aug 9, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER

In.

M. Propagandalf
Aug 9, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Epilogue Gallery
(Word Count: 960)

I awake out of what I remembered as real. Something feels wrong… my last memory was writing the story at my desk before drifting off. I am not in my room. I am not in my house.

I’m alive – holy poo poo I feel alive. It’s bright, but it’s not morning. There is no sun.

No, everything feels right.

I find myself in a garden with flowers that defy physics. The colour splashes are sublime. The fragrance –I am not hungry, nor will I ever again be– the fragrance sates me further somehow.

In the midst of the garden, a man tends to the flowers, but with no tools. His fingers dance like he’s composing and the flowers lilt and bloom. I don’t think he needs to do anything to make them move, but he seems to enjoy doing it his way. I approach him and he turns to me.

“Jaimie.” he smiles, “You’re up.”

“How long have I been asleep?” I’m curious as to why my curiosity towards doesn’t perk. He’s shrouded incognito, and what interest I should have towards him slides off.

“Time doesn’t matter once you’re here.”

“And where is ‘here’?”

“Just a plot of my imagination. What do you think of it?”

It’s amazing, but I don’t feel it. Something withholds my pleasure. Then it hits me: the regret I feared to be had come to pass.

“The story…” I hang my head, “I never finished it.”

He gently takes my shoulder. He looks at me warmly.

“Come with me.”

We walk through the garden. As we walk, we pass various doorways. Some of the frames are entwined with flowers and leaves, but they otherwise stand detached.

“They lead to worlds, grown from seeds of imagination,” the man points out, “I saved the ones I liked. Including yours.”

We arrive in front of a doorway that for some reason feels familiar. He opens it and gestures.

“After you.”

I step in.

***

I am atop a mountain, overlooking a city I have never seen, yet intimately know. I stand for a moment in awe-filled silence. Then my words come back to me.

“The azure sun radiates from the violet sky…” I quote unconsciously, “shining its favour down upon the sky cosmopolis of Aeternia. Her twelve daughter citadels, each a jewel in their own right, encircle the crown of the mother city.”

I was never a visual person. I painted mentally in broad strokes. The finer details escaped me. How did the germ of those sentences surpass what I could envision? How was all of this so loving vivid?

The man seems to catch my thought and smiles.

“Your seed grew quite a story. It’s been a pleasure watching it grow.”

It is fantastic. But it was just the backdrop. What mattered most to me were the characters. And of the characters, it was her story.

“Lauralyn…” I start, “where is she?”

“At the top. She wants to meet you.”

He guides me there. In the distance, I spot her: champion of Aeternia, virtuoso of sword. As she shadowfences in the present, afterimaged katas of her past linger, dangerous enough to kill. She is every bit the magnificent badass I hoped in her, and more. She stops as she catches sight of us. She sheathes her sword, and strides towards me. She stops within striking distance, before lifting off her helmet. She brushes aside her bronze hair, and I look upon her battle-scarred beauty.

She bows. “My author, I presume?”

I’m trying to suck in air even though I don’t breathe anymore. Her hands reach out to steady me.

“All I did was imagine… I did not make you real.”

“But you imagined. And for that, you have my eternal gratitude.”

“The story though… I put you through so much. I never even gave you an ending.”

She laughs, “Who said I wanted it to end?” She throws a glance at the man, “He told me you had a saying: ‘I only bear witness. She writes herself.’ And so I did, and still am.”

“You… saved the multiverse?”

“Yeah. Only the one you imagined though. I can’t take credit for multiverses I didn’t know of until he spoke of them.”

“How?” I stare off in wonder. I never got far enough to think how she would save everything.

She brings me back to the moment. “We’ve got plenty of time to trade tales. And you already know so much about me. I know so little about you.”

“What do you know so far?

“Enough to be tantalized.”

“You’ll be disappointed by how dull my life was.”

She smiles, “I don’t think I will.”

She glances to the man, who nods, before turning back to me.

“I don’t mean to be rude, but I’ve lived lifetimes here. I could use a change of scenery. If you don’t mind, I’d like to see his world.”

“The garden?”

“The Temple,” replies the man.

“It’s good to be on the same level of real as you. But I’m ready to take it to the next level and feel what it is to become true. You ready for it?”

“You were waiting on me?”

“I thought it would be nice to go together. My author, and my author’s author.”

I turn to the man. Suddenly the shroud is gone, and I finally see him. I fall to my knees, lips aquiver, but I’m speechless. He lifts me, reassuring me with a look that tells me no words are necessary, if they were even possible.

“You can always come back,” Lauralyn adds, “I can give you a tour. We have eternity now.”

I take another glance back at this world. I turn to take Lauralyn’s hand. The man takes ours.

“Let’s go home first.”

M. Propagandalf
Aug 9, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER

dreadmojo posted:

Interprompt: where the wild things aren't (200 words)

Leviathan's Lament
Word Count: 180

I wish I could say you had me caged, chained, wingstrung. You know that I always break free from my prison. You can count on me to resurrect and wreak havoc. And I could count on you to come at me again, defeated by your sword, spell, or just plain smarts. Our agon was our philia, a frenmity that brought the best out of both of us.

I can accept a cruel and unusual punishment. Make it extravagant. Make it wild. Be the hero again! Can’t you remember the thrill of it? But what you’ve done now, exiling me – no, exiling yourself to your world’s usual. It’s erasing us both.

Did I take it too far? Did I make the battles too fantastic? I understand if we cannot battle as we did in the prime of our childhood. I swear that I will never wax nostalgic. Just let me feel the touch of battle once more. Save me from the untouch of Forget.

What have they done to you that you would do this to me?

Remember me, John.

Remember.

M. Propagandalf
Aug 9, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER

In.

M. Propagandalf
Aug 9, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Half Samaritan

Word count: 495

Peter woke up in the computer lab, where he’d been since Friday. Aside from the duty commissionaire, he was probably the only person in the school. Holiday long weekends usually afforded him the lab in solitude.

He winced at the glare of the monitor as he straightened himself. He hadn’t meant to doze off, but the caffeine crash after the can of soda over a day ago finally caught up. He hadn’t eaten anything in the last twenty-four hours. He hadn’t slept horizontally for over the last forty-eight.

His hands were clammy. Grey residue coated the keyboard, and he felt obligated to chisel bits off with his nails. He swiped the dribble from the edge of his mouth, smearing off grimy lip skin in doing so.

More than food, he wanted to shower. He needed to bus home. His eyes adjusted to the screen and caught the time.

1:15 AM. Monday.

poo poo.

The next and last bus of the night came at 1:29. It took ten minutes to walk to the bus stop, and with the streets mostly empty, drivers occasionally took off early.

Saving what work he accomplished to USB, Peter headed out.

***

The school was in the heart of the city’s downtown. At this hour, the eccentric and homeless were out and about. The bus stop he walked to was further than the one closest to school, but that one had a 24/7 café nearby, where the desperate loitered, and he didn’t care, even on better days, to say no to faces pleading for change.

Regardless, one of those desperate had ambled to his stop, and approached him.

“Excuse me, sir…”

“Sorry, I don’t have anything,” Peter replied instinctively.

“No, I just want you to hear me out…”

The dread of empathy crept in. Peter forced himself to look at the man. He was layered in clothes, even though the night wasn’t cold. His beard lacked a consensus of direction, as if each follicle of hair grew to the tune of its own. The sallow skin around his sunken eyes was pulled back, making him look like he lived in constant fear.

“I can listen.”

“Thanks. I came here four years ago. Had a decent business running too. But this accident—"

The man attempted to balance on one leg

–hosed me over. Then some fucker broke stole my tools. Before I know it, I’m here. I want you to know that I don’t shoot up. I’m not like that. But it hurts having people look at you, thinking that about you.”

“I wasn't thinking that.”

“I appreciate you didn’t.”

From the corner of the street, the bus rolled into view. Arriving at the stop Peter boarded, almost with hesitation. He turned back to the man.

“I appreciate what you shared. I’m sorry I can’t help.”

“Didn’t expect much. Just wanted to vent.”

“Take care though.”

“Right, thanks anyway.”

The bus drove off. Along the way home, Peter felt disgusted with himself.

M. Propagandalf
Aug 9, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER

In.

M. Propagandalf
Aug 9, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Becoming
Word Count: 503

Noon awaits the city of Trayjav. There are no clouds, leaving the sun to scorch the already scoured streets. All doors are closed, all windows are shuttered. Animals both tame and feral have hid or fled. There is no one, save twelve youths wearing snow white gowns, chained to the triumph column in the city square.

Above the column towers a statue: the city’s once immortal champion hero, who is immortal still, but a hero no longer. Seeing it, one would assume this now half-colossus was ruined. Everything above the tip of the statue’s right shoulder, wickedly hewn in a J-shape down to the left hip, is gone. The ball of its left foot makes the slightest of contact with the pedestal, the right foot is kicked out – posed in sprint. The remnant slab of torso that balances the right arm holds its sword precariously skyward, made in the image of that mythical blade said to have sucked lightning from the skies. It was rumored that when it still had its other hand, it held a dove in desire of peace. Now the severed thing postures solely for war.

Yet grotesque as it is with a quarter of its humanness torn off, the remnant of its bronze form shimmers in pristine lustre. For the statue was bound by a sigil to make it in likeness to its champion: an ageless and indestructible thing. Something that when struck down, would resurrect. So it was with the statue, that whatever damage should visit it, if it was given reprieve, could restore itself to its first intention.

Under the pedestal of this butchered colossus, the youth await their last noon. Interspersed throughout the city, Trayjav’s loudhailers blare – a triad note of screech-roar-howl, an entanglement of rage-fear-sorrow. The air chills. The ground trembles. It comes.

***

The loudhailers sound again, now the mundane buzz of a klaxon. Tentatively, the people begin to open their windows, venturing out their doors.

The damage is no different from last time. From the outskirts of the city, the markings of giant paws had clawed the cobblestone to gravel. As the beast stomped towards its quarry, the paw marks began to diminish in size, until it left nothing at all. Yet where the pawprints faded out, a new marking scarred the ground: a deep trailing crack, scattering what looked like tree branches from every side, as though a bolt of lightning was painstakingly dragged across the road.

The treeing scar comes to an end at the foot of the pedestal. Bits of white cloth are scattered by shattered chains, but there is no blood. Above, the statue is singed into black contorted metal. Only the sword it wields is undamaged – empowered even, as it flickers and flashes from the overcharge. Eventually it will fade out, allowing the statue to heal. The pristine bronze will return, and if left alone, it could even restore itself back to what it once was.

Unless the villain can be slain, this will never come to pass.

M. Propagandalf
Aug 9, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER

I want to start off to give my thanks to all the critiques given to date.

I don’t think I expected to return to the dome after bailing out all the way in Week #60 in 2013, but some self-reflection as of late brought me back and impressed on me to pick it up again. I consider myself thin skinned, and I don’t think I’ve accumulated enough time for the psychological version of Wolff/Davis’s law to kick in and get me used to the reality that in here, everything hurts. Here’s hoping part-time school this coming semester gives me more opportunities to experience the pain.

E/N reflections:

If there’s one discontinuity I might characterize versus 2013 me, I think I’m less carefree than how I wrote in the past. This means little in terms of writing quality, but it does make me more reluctant to commit words down. I imagine it’s natural to pre-empt what you think you’ll get called out for in your writing, and it seems like my pre-assessments on my story weaknesses generally match the critiques that I anticipate. I’m left with asking myself, “Why the gently caress did I take the narrative there when I can see it will fail?”

More often than not, I see myself getting baited in by what I think is an interesting premise to fit the prompt, and take it in faith that I have some way to give it a reasonable arc within the word count/deadline. This strategy usually fails. I suspect the smarter way to approach this is to build the skeleton, then fill the flesh, but I feel like I lack the ability to outline. Whether I’m willfully being blind to where I want it to eventually arrive at, or consciously letting it develop organically, I’m not sure. It seems the organic option is not panning out though – more often than not that I end up boxing myself into a narrative that fails to satisfy the prompt, if not, storytelling principles in general. Seeing the impending car crash to loserville should prompt me to at least turn narrative elsewhere, but I feel like my mind is fixed on tunnel vision/just isn’t spry enough to imagine a different turn at a moment’s notice, and all I can do is groan in dread at the impending disaster.

Two strategies that I’m fiddling with:

1. Plan/write before the Friday sign-up deadline, and If nothing’s congealed by then, you've got nothing, so spare everyone your cesspool. Practical, but pathetically risk-adverse.

2. Stash some interesting concepts at hand that you can draw on when the time comes up from a prompt that fits. More often than not, it’s a Procrustean fit.

I have faith I'll get inured to being a butt-monkey of the dome, but one thing that it does put me at even bigger fear with is my critiquing ability (I still remember how I completely whiffed my reading on the JOHN MADNESS piece until the judgment forced me give it a second read to realize what I had missed). If some twisted circumstance of fate sees me ascending the blood throne, expect me to keep walking past the tip, falling off, and passing it off as a conscientious abdication as a means to save face.

Note to self for 2019 resolutions: efface face so there is no face to save

M. Propagandalf
Aug 9, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER

You know what, gently caress strategy.

I'm in with The Very Famous Island of Madhead and I have no idea where the hell I'm taking it.

M. Propagandalf
Aug 9, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Humane, But Unusual
Word Count: 995

The Very Famous Island of Madhead

Through the course of Donato’s globetrotting travails, no place earned him the enmity of its inhabitants as quickly as his landing upon Madhead. Following a storm that shipwrecked him in the Gulf of Maas and swimming a frigid night evading man-eating dugongs, Donato was eventually washed to the safety of shore. Regaining his wits, he kissed the ground and muttered “thank God” before collapsing, though not quietly enough for a passerby to ascertain that Donato had committed a crime against their fair nation. Upon nursing Donato to a degree of consciousness, that same man announced Donato was under citizen’s arrest, before abusing him back into unconsciousness.

When Donato awoke, he found himself alone in a prison cell. From the other side a gaoler kept watch from the seat of his rocking chair.

“Excuse me,” began Donato, “would you tell me where I am?”

“You are quarantined from freedom,” drawled the gaoler, “Madhead does not take the violation of its laws lightly.”

“Pray tell, what laws did I violate?”

“You are accused of blasphemy in the agnostic degree.”

“…For having thanked God?”

“Wretch! You did it again!”

“Is he not to be thanked? Fine! I rescind my thanks, and curse God ten-fold for this incarceration.”

At this, the gaoler leapt from his rocking chair.

“Reel your tongue! We do not speak that name during Defenefestus! You best hope that I am not called to testify against you!”

“The hell is Defenefestus?”

“…Do you not even know what country you are in? This is Madhead, and we alone of all nations abide by the Calendar of Rotating Peace. We are in the month of Defenefestus.”

“So you’ve renamed Uzhnktember to something stupid. What of it?”

“Such insolence. No wonder the world rages with religious wars, too conceited to follow our way of peace.”

“Giving months new names magically helps everyone get along?”

“It is not just a calendar. It is a way of life. Madhead was founded on the principles of proportioned peace. In the foresight of the founding ancestors who held different beliefs, they saw the folly of making one faith supreme. Yet banning religion outright would have stirred a backlash just as dangerous. Thus, they mutually approved that each faith should be devoted a month to which exclusive observance should be granted without interference. At the end of each month, devotion is transitioned to the next faith scheduled by the calendar. In this way, Madhead has held peace for the last seven years.”

“Seven years!?” spat Donato, “I’ve had gut parasites that have lived longer than that!”

“Seven Rotating Peace years,” corrected the gaoler. “Madhead began with eleven founding faiths, each allotted fifty days to their month. But as the religions themselves had their schisms, and as arrivals brought new faiths to our lands, it necessitated the years to be adjusted accordingly to accede an additional fifty days for every new faith to the calendar. At the present, I should think that one Rotating Peace year is comparable to fifty of yours.”

“That’s… absurd,” replied Donato, “What is the point of accounting time in your years when each varies with the next?”

“It is the job for our historians to constantly revise.”

“Pox to such a job. Anyone willing to make sense of your calendar must be fools.”

“Many of our convicts willingly serve their soft labour as historians.”

Donato’s eyebrows twitched.

“Exactly whose faith did I tread on?”

Your arrival to our shores was recorded on the 43rd of Defenefestus, the month observed in deference to the Yahwehnaught Witnesses, who forbid all manner of religious observances, including the very mention of…”

“God?”

The gaoler sucked his teeth.

“That’s preposterous! I was shipwrecked at sea! How was I supposed to know your damned calendar wouldn’t permit me to take the Lord’s name, in vain or otherwise, on a day when I was at the precipice of death?”

“Ignorance of the law is no excuse. And as I said, Madhead does not take the violation of its laws lightly.”

At this, Donato began to howl.

“None of that please,” scolded the gaoler, “If anything, you are blessed to be in court during Defenefestus, a month most efficient for having neither holiday nor sabbath. I suspect your trial will proceed quickly.”

These words did not console Donato. Screaming, he looked about and seized a chamber pot which he dashed against the bars of his cell. The gaoler called for guards, and three entered to render Donato unconscious, though not before he gave them each a good raking.

Three days later, Donato was whisked to Quinqempoix where he stood trial before a tribunal. To the charge of blasphemy were the added charges of destruction of state property, three counts of assault of an officer of the peace, and subsequently, multiple contempt of court offences, all of which he was found guilty. The proceedings were indeed swift, yet not so swift that the trial could conclude before the month’s end. Here a fortuitous circumstance occurred, for Defenefestus was followed by Algorithary, a month that deferred to the primacy of Social Mathemetism in which mathematic virtues were applied to the government of Madhead. In light of this knowledge, and with the verdict conducted in in Algorithary, Donato gave these words in his defence:

“Your Maladjustees, wisdom shows that two wrongs do not make a right, much as my cumulative negative acts amount to no positive. Yet I would argue that my criminality was not additive, but multiplicative, so that product of my transgressions produced a positive. As my trial now presides in the holy month of Algorithary, I propose that my past actions should be recognized as a positive to your society and request for the return of my liberty.”

Reluctantly, the tribunal found Donato’s proposal to be most sound to Social Mathemetism, and acquiesced to his proposal, with the condition that he be promptly deported. This arrangement was most agreeable to Donato and he continued with his journeys.

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M. Propagandalf
Aug 9, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER

A loss that was somewhat enjoyable? I couldn't ask for more. I had planned to proportion the structure where the actual trial would have had more teeth, but an underestimation on word count scuttled that commitment.

Much obliged on the crits.

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