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Chainmail Onesie
May 12, 2014


LoserWinner
of "Thunder Dome!

In, Mission to Mercury.

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Chainmail Onesie
May 12, 2014


LoserWinner
of "Thunder Dome!

(here you go, word spaghetti)

A Dust Mote in Sunlight
(1517 Words)

“Go, child.”

Petra’s words ring and warble in the wake of the gunshot. Her voice is sharp and acrid on the external mic of her hardsuit, her rigid stance magnified by its sweeping limbs. “What we seek is at the top of the spire. Whisper an orison if you must, but go.

Argia shakes, no matter how she prays to be still. Her gaze fixes on the spent bullet casing, lazily turning end-on-end from the arm-cannon to the bay floor. Her thoughts cling to this sight, wonder vaguely how the gravity here is just a bit stronger than on Luna- anything not to think of the Rynn’s body, crumpled at Petra’s feet. Blue spacesuit synthetics streaked from the shoulders down with blots of blackening red, box helmet punched through by Petra’s arm-cannon.

The casing lands, rolls until it catches against a floorplate. Tears lens Argia’s eyes, held back by the fear of staining her face here, in this holy place.

The communicator bead in her ear crackles with a low, familiar giggle. “Better do as she says, Argia. You might never get me, otherwise.”

“Oh, we’ll get you alright, Earther,” Petra grates, reloading the arm-cannon. With her free gauntlet, she holds up a fistful of graphite access shards. “You haven’t a single entry code to the facility. No consoles, no hardsuits, no doors. How long do you think you’ll be able to hide?”

Argia stares at the shards. A hollow sensation grips her stomach as he notes how dully they shine against the sun’s glare.

--------------------------------------------------------------

“The first planet from our Sun also holds its closest communion,” Petra said softly, one hand on the viewscreen, the other around Argia’s narrow shoulders. Slender fingers encircled a tiny speck on the planetary display; a small conic form washed in fields of burning light. Clear-walled bays ringed a central spire that caught the light like a blade. “Our brothers and sisters built the station at the greatest focal point of that communion, where the Eternal Light resides.”

“Why are we going there?” Argia asked, pressing her face to the glass. “Why was the station left empty for so long?”

Voight giggled behind them, strange and low, as he and Rynn crossed the ship’s axial corridor.

“Do you two have something to add?” Petra sighed, hand tightening on Argia’s shoulder by tiny increments.

Voight shrugged, loping away. Rynn slowed her pace for a moment. Her eyes were cold, held no light. “Do you ever plan on telling the girl?”

Petra fell silent. Feeling the air grow heavy, Argia turned to the display again, vision swaying with the dance of the solar rays.

A while passed, Rynn long gone to tend to the ship, when Petra next spoke. “Something was left for us there, child. Found by Lunars. For Lunars.”

Argia hesitated. “But what is it, Petra?”

Petra glanced to the corridor, violence and focus compressed in her eyes like the edge of a scalpel. “I don’t know, but our Earther allies are sent with us to fetch it.”

“And they’ll help us bring it back to Luna?”

Her mouth pressed into a taut line. “Out here, our only allies are our faith and the Sunlight.”

--------------------------------------------------------------

Petra points to an empty hardsuit, one of many that line the bay. “Argia. Now.”

“I-” Argia falters, tugging at the sleeve of her skinsuit. Spotless nanofabric, catching the light that streams in through the bay’s silicate outer walls. The open hardsuit’s interior is dark, its splayed braces tinged with rust and grime. Its armour plating sits ridged with the Celestial Points and the sacred Lagrange sequences- all that Argia really sees are the fine trenches of filth that line each groove. “The Earth people-”

Petra steps forward, kicking Rynn’s corpse aside. Blood spatters across her armoured boot. “Forget them. Voight is the only one left, now. ”

“But, Voight-”

“Climb in. Did I raise a coward?” Petra snaps. Her footplates heavily scrape the floor, adding sting to the wound of her words.

Something dark and murky clings to Argia’s heart as she boards the hardsuit, wincing into shadow and the stink of old sweat.

--------------------------------------------------------------

The lights in the control deck were low when Argia woke, curled up before the nav console. She blinked sleepily at its blinking lights, feeling at the blanket that had been cast over her.
“Voight,” she mumbled, drawing her knees up beneath her chin. “You’re awake?”

“Little girl, I’m the only one awake,” sighed Voight from the other end of the deck. A tangle of braided plugs cascaded from the ceiling to his station, wiring his skull-jack to his console. “Rynn and Petra are on sleep cycle, and, uh, you…” he giggled.

“Hey, I tried to stay awake,” Argia protested, drifting over to Voight’s console. Opcodes trailed down the screens faster than she could read them. “Wow, that’s fast. Petra always says you’re lazy.”

She idly reached for the access shards piled up at one end of the console.

Voight turned carefully, the plug wires following the tilt of his head. “Applied laziness lets you do a tremendous amount with little effort.”

Argia held two of the shards to the light, geometrically identical and veined with copper. The one in her left hand was dull and smooth, missing its component studs. “Lunar orisons tell us that that labour and effort… wait, I remember… brings us closer to the true toil of the stars.

“Yeah? My orisons tell me the most effective work is done in small, effortless things that no one will notice.”

He grinned up at her. Argia found herself grinning back.

--------------------------------------------------------------

The hardsuit’s braces grip Argia’s limbs, her Lunar biosignature bypassing the access lock. Powering up, the helmet display jitters and focuses in time to show Petra jet past a whole row of empty hardsuits, unloading arm-cannon rounds into their helmets one-by-one. “Come out, Earther. You can’t have gotten far.”

Static and laughter on the comms line. “You think I’m still in the bay with you?”

Something flickers at the opposite end of the bay. An entire column of hardsuits have begun to power up, their optics shimmering faintly in the sun. A few hundred mechanised fingers flex in unison.

“Petra,” Argia stammers.

“Argia, go!” Petra whirls around to fire a shot at Argia’s feet. Argia’s wail of fear rises with the whine of her jets as she leaps away. Fear carries her into a second jump up from the bay, scaling the spire astride a gout of jetfire.

Her radio picks up Petra down below, sudden and urgent. “What? Where-”

Argia turns to look down, clinging to the spire. The bay is suddenly bristling with movement, rings of unmanned hardsuits surrounding Petra, convergent on her.

“Maybe,” Voight says slowly. “Maybe I’m holding all the access keys after all, the remote access too, and you’re about to get got.”

The hardsuits pounce. Argia flings herself away from the sight, soaring up the spire. Her sobs do little to dampen the shriek of metal and flesh below.

--------------------------------------------------------------

The hatch at the spiretop hangs open in the blinding light, revealing little more than a bare, light-shielded cupola. Within stands a great, glowing prism, its surface clouded and roiling.

The suit’s IR display finds Voight crouched in a corner, unarmoured, his skull-jack fixed with a handful of graphite shards. They shine like crystal in the light of Argia’s headlamps.

“There were four, then three,” Voight says. His lips purse and his eyes squeeze shut, but the giggle shudders out nonetheless. “Now two.”

Something dark and murky clouds Argia’s vision as she lunges the hardsuit across the floor. When her senses return, her gauntlet cages Voight’s throat. The bulk of her suit pins his body against the wall, the antenna module a shattered stub on his bloodied scalp.

“You killed Petra!” She shrieks, the mic grinding her voice with saturation.

“She killed Rynn,” Voight’s shrug is pained, mostly lost in the hardsuit’s grasp. “Lunars made the first move, Earthers made the next.”

The giggle sputters in his throat. “Lunars seem to be on top, after all.”

“What is this thing?”

His breath grows ragged. “No idea, but it must have scared the poo poo out of the first Lunars who abandoned it here.”

Argia’s body goes cold, as she feels the heat of a steady gaze on her back.

“You know, the Lunars sending a child all this way seemed strange to me,” Voight wheezes, teeth lacquered red in his grimace. “But I get the- the feeling that thing’s been watching me since I got here, you know? And it doesn’t seem pleased.”

Argia begins to shake.

The Eternal Light.

“Those first Lunars,” Voight repeats, choking. “Maybe they- thought they should… present innocence to it. Before it could find out what-what sorts of fuckups we all really are.”

He giggles, gurgles. “But then, I don’t think we have any innocent kids with us, do we?”

Sweat and grime and blood and tears cling to Argia. They sink deep beneath her skin in the silence that follows.

It is a small motion, impulsive and effortless, that closes the gauntlet on Voight’s throat.

Chainmail Onesie
May 12, 2014


LoserWinner
of "Thunder Dome!

Many thanks, T-rex. These crits are super helpful.

Chainmail Onesie
May 12, 2014


LoserWinner
of "Thunder Dome!

In, flash pls

Here seb, have some giant steampunk clowns or whatever the gently caress this is:

Chainmail Onesie
May 12, 2014


LoserWinner
of "Thunder Dome!

poo poo I should've just written My Immortal fanfiction



Flashrule: Okay so it's a shark, right? But then WAIT FOR IT you add ANOTHER shark on top

Bearly a Story (1329 words)

It was a midwinter night when the shadows fell long across the hall of the Great Bear King. There were a great many shadows, the ursine outlines of his every vassal seated at his vast table. All had been summoned to bear witness to the casting-out of his only son.

“Beargar, blood of my blood,” The King growled, his facefur tinged with the frost of old age beneath a crown of yew and honeycomb. His carved throne creaked as he leaned back. “Are you ready to bear the burden of Kingship upon you?”

The King’s son stood before the throne- rather, flopped before the throne, for he was born a Boneless Bear like his mother- in flickering firelight, eyes agleam with purpose. “Aye, Father. And I know that the crown may only rest on the head of a viciously heroic bear.”

“You must end the scourge of our people, young Beargar,” the King rasped, his eye turning coastward, to the south. “For longer than any bear has bothered to keep a calendar, the dark form of the DoubleShark lurks in our waters, tears apart our longboats, devours our bravest warriors. As I once seized the crown by facing the terrible Snake-plus-an-Eagle-minus-the-Beak, so you too must destroy another foe of our people.”

Beargar nodded from his splayed position on the flagstones, briefly wondering how the King considered a snake-eagle-thing to be an equivalent threat to one entire shark atop another. He thought better of asking.

“You will either return on the DoubleShark,” intoned the King in a low, severe growl. “Or in the DoubleShark. What say you?”

He turned to face the King’s bannerbears, a hundred jarls or more behind them. The motion flailed him about in a sort of rubbery somersault. “Tonight, I quit these halls and seek the honey of the gods: Glory!”

The hall filled with the roars of a hundred ironclad snouts, mounting into a rumbling clamour that scared the bejesus out of every living thing for miles around.

*************************

Being boneless isn’t for everyone. Without strength, you must be cunning. You must make friends and allies.

So thought the young Beargar as he hung in the branches of a fir tree, waiting for the right forest prey ally to walk beneath.

He fluttered in the icy nightwind, idly gazing down into the snow. Rabbit, deer and boar had already passed below, their prints crisscrossed into the snow like the stitchwork of a mad tailor.

None of them would do. They had neither the strength, nor the incentive to labour and do battle beneath Beargar’s fur. Kings were not made with such folk.

A long night it was, and it was only when dawn’s grey approach tinged the sky that a suitable host appeared. A long, pink thing favouring its hind-legs staggered through the forest, barely any fur on its body save for its head. It was scan of clothing, too, wearing little more than roughspun britches and tattered boots. It seemed to have little command of its senses, for it passed directly below Beargar’s vantage point without any trace of awareness for the boneless prince.

Beargar folded himself into a diving form, and dropped.
The struggle in the snow was fierce but short, Beargar grappling his new ally across its back and head. The pink thing howled in surprise and rage, rolling in the dirt and snow, battering

Beargar’s body with paws that it somehow could tighten into painful balls of flesh and bone.

“You’re soaked,” Beargar grizzled as he clung to the thing’s shoulders. “By the gods, why are you so loving wet?”

“AAAARGH,” The pinkling yowled as it tried to fling the Bear Prince from its back. It failed, falling on all-fours. “My… my fishing boat is destroyed, my fisherman brothers and fisherman father claimed by the depth of the sea. I am the ruin that remains, washed to shore by some cruelty of the Gods. Leave me to die, o fuzzy limp creature.”

“A storm took all this from you?” Beargar asked, shifting to get comfortable on the pinkling’s back.
“…Shark,” grated the thing. Beargar felt its muscles tense as it spoke. “Vast and deadly, with so many teeth- there’s one shark, you see, but then there’s another shark on top…” It flattened its paws and placed one atop the other to mime the shape of it.

“Surely, this is fate,” Beargar looked skyward to the dawn. “I, Beargar, son of King Bearvald, must destroy that vile beast for my people and right to the throne. You must avenge your family, um…”

“Ulf, the Fisherman,” The pinkling cleared its throat. “Verily, I had planned to head inland and forget about-”

“Nonsense, furless one! Be my steed, bear me upon your shoulders!” roared Beargar. His eyes narrowed with cunning. “Surely, you will freeze to death should you cast me off now.”

Ulf sighed, pulling frost from its matted facefur. “So be it.”

*************************

The southern coast no longer harboured any boats, although it did boast a drat fine number of wrecks on its stony shores. Most of them lay studded with ragged shark teeth, the bite patterns curiously doubled up along the hulls.

Ulf groaned, heaving the least broken of these wrecks towards the water. Rope, two hatchets and a bushel of harpoons were cautiously piled up at its bow. “O flaccid creature-”

“Boneless.”

“O boneless creature, is this really the best plan?”

“This is not really the best boat,” said Beargar, beady little bear-eyes scanning the waves. He could see the hated enemy’s broad fin slash through the black waters, swimming long arcs along
the coast, waiting. “Yet here we are. Stay the course.”

They paddled out into stormy, lashing waters, barely afloat upon their half-a-longboat. The two were no more than thirty feet from the shoreline when the fin suddenly whipped around to face
them. It was more than a hundred feet away, but it soon made short work of that distance, sea foam spraying in the fin’s wake as it darted forth.

Beargar felt Ulf shudder. “How did you convince me to undertake this idiotic-”

“Now, pinkling!” The boneless prince roared. Out with the harpoons!”

Ulf dropped to one knee, scooping up as many harpoons as he could hold. As he rose, he was met with a splashing eruption at portside, the salty spray framing the leaping form of the DoubleShark.

For the shortest eternity of a moment, all was frozen in place. Beargar’s roar against the DoubleShark’s gaping maws, Ulf’s taut figure, the harpoons hefted across his shoulder, the tilt of the boat against the crashing waves…

Someone was about to get hosed up, yes sir.

*************************

Saltwater burned in Beargar’s throat as the shoreside surf lapped against his bruised hide. In one paw, he gripped the last surviving scrap of the half-a-boat’s keel. In the other, a sizeable chunk of the hated foe’s dorsal fin.

“We… we got it, yes?” a half-drowned Ulf croaked beside him, splayed on the pebbles as seaweed clung to his back and legs.

“Aye,” Beargar murmured, raising his head just enough to look out to sea. More than a dozen harpoons and seven hatchets protruded from what was left of the DoubleShark’s carcass, drifting gently out amongst the rocks closest to shore.

Ulf coughed, spat out a starfish. “Certainly there are bones of mine that are broken.”
Beargar nodded weakly, finding it difficult to empathise with such an affliction. “I am to be King, hero of my people. My quest is complete. What of you, faithful pinkling?”

“My father was a woodsman. Perhaps I shall take up his craft.”

“You could always continue to be faithful steed,” Beargar said as he sat up, shuffling across the stones.

Ulf winced, watching Beargar’s approach. “I suspect you plan to throw yourself upon me and force me into this again, denying me the denouement that steeds deserve yet never attain.”

Beargar flapped in the sea breeze, poised above Ulf’s battered form. “Ah, pinkling. Denouements are for the weak.”

Chainmail Onesie
May 12, 2014


LoserWinner
of "Thunder Dome!

In.

Kenjutsu competition/taikai.

Chainmail Onesie
May 12, 2014


LoserWinner
of "Thunder Dome!

Prompt: Kenjutsu

No Left-handed Swordsmen (1873 Words)

Tomorrow, by dawn’s light, I will endure Sanada Shigenari’s final affront.

Dusk is falling by the time I finish the last of the chores around the dojo. Floors washed, walls scrubbed, courtyard swept. This all used to go much faster, when every student of the Tenshitō-Ryu would stay after class to help. When the Tenshitō-Ryu still had students.

I sweep to the last flagstone, gliding between successive tenkan. The broom casts a long shadow westward, pointing back toward the dojo. Would Hachiba-sensei would be satisfied with this housework?

Probably not. I can’t help but smile.

I walk the line of the shadow back into the dojo hall, leaving the shoji open. Everything is laid out on the central tatami, where I kneel to change. Kimono, obi, hakama, tabi, shortsword, longsword. The two scabbards press tightly against my hip, where the obi holds them- an old, familiar, reassuring ache.

The kusarigote comes last- I shrug out of my kimono to pull it onto my right arm. Smell of worn leather, icy prick of autumn-chilled chain links. As I pull the kimono back on, my thumb brushes the embroidered crest of the Tenshitō-Ryu. I go tense.

Breathe, Yorubei. From your centre, not your throat.

I breathe, raise my right arm to the fading light. Watch the fingers splay in silhouette, then vanish as I make a fist. I laugh. “What do you think, Hachiba-sensei? Do you think dear Shigenari will rise to this bait?”

My voice is as hollow as this empty hall.

***********

Sanada Shigenari’s first affront upon me was to be born a more natural swordsman than I ever could be.

We met as boys in the dojo, many years before Hachiba-sensei’s disgrace- the children of meagre provincial families. The Tenshitō-Ryu was a strong school, back then, the ideal place to make accomplished swordsmen from young nothings.

It rained heavily on the day we first approached the Tenshitō-Ryu’s gates to plead for tutelage. As we waited for the head of the school to receive us, Shigenari watched me in silence. Perhaps he sought to appraise me, there and then.

Hachiba-sensei arrived in his own time. He regarded us from the archway with the tireless, piercing stare we would learn to live under, speaking only after we were thoroughly soaked. “Hold out your hand.”

We did so. My hair began to escape its tousle beneath the force of the rain. Hachiba-sensei sighed, pointing to Shigenari. “Inside.”

As Shigenari bowed low and stepped beneath the archway, he glanced back at me, eyes flashing with something like victory.

Without looking at me, Hachiba-sensei grasped my outstretched arm with alarming speed. “Go home, child,” he rumbled, turning to go back inside as he released his grip. “…There’s no such thing as a left-handed swordsman.”

The gates boomed shut in rebuke. I sank against it, snivelling into the rain, cradling the fresh bruises on my left wrist.

***********

I shut the gates of the old Tenshitō-Ryu by lantern-light. They slam with the weight of a falling corpse.

Thunder rolls in the night sky as I head through town, warming my hands within my kimono sleeves. I slip my jingasa on before the first droplets of rain land, pattering softly against the straw. Leaves and scraps swirl on the wind, sweeping down the main road, pressing the hakama’s pleats stiff against my legs. Amongst the debris, a torn sheet tumbles into me.

I peel it from my shoulder, recognising my own hasty brushwork after a moment.

ON THE NINTH DAY OF THE THIRD MONTH OF THE SIXTEENTH YEAR OF TENSHÔ, THE STRONGEST DISCIPLE OF TENSHITŌ-RYU WILL FACE HIS COUNTERPART OF SANADA HOSHIKAGE-RYU AT DAYBREAK

This is one of many sheets plastered up in the town square- prior to their posting, I did not bother to consult the members of Sanada Hoshikage-Ryu regarding the declaration. It was not a request.

The sheet flaps from my hand, crumpled, as I continue into the gloom, down to the old forest road. “I won’t be long now, sensei.”

***********

Sanada Shigenari’s second affront upon me was to be faster and stronger, right-handed, than I ever strove to be.

Two days after our first meeting, Hachiba-sensei found me still at his gate, prostrated beneath the archway with my hands and head in the dirt. Some time thereafter, he let me clean the dojo and sleep beneath the archway. Then he let me watch lessons. I was a year beneath the roof of the Tenshitō-Ryu before I ever held a bokken in my hands.

“Breathe from your centre, not your throat,” Hachiba-sensei had instructed, cutting through bamboo-and-tatami targets as though they were air. “The right hand drives the sword. The left is nothing more than a rudder.”

Of the many times that we were paired, I could never spar against Shigenari and win. Every time would go the same: by the time we had both settled into a stance, a tiny smirk would play on his lips, as he discerned my exact strategy. I fought by the tenets of our training, assumed every form as we had been taught, stepped as we had been taught, cut as we had been taught.

It was no comfort to me that, in time, the other disciples could not stand against Shigenari and win. As Shigenari learned to best even the yudansha, then become yudansha himself, I imagined I saw Hachiba-sensei’s brusque reticence turn to quiet admiration for his prodigious student, to wordless unease and finally to low, quiet fear.

***********

I spend much of the night walking the forest to reach Hachiba-sensei’s grave. Less time is spent speaking to Hachiba-sensei, less yet in prayer. I lay my swords flat in the moss, careful to keep their edges turned away from the headstone. I leave in silence.

Fingers of a red dawn stretch from the East as I arrive at the gates of the Sanada Hoshikage-Ryu. Shigenari and his yudansha- Hachiba-sensei’s yudansha, once- are already waiting in the threshold. Hijikata, one of Hachiba-sensei’s oldest former disciples, stands ready to hand Shigenari his longsword. A narrow-faced official, a magistrate, stands to one side with his scribe, a boy barely past his gempukku.

I look down, drawing a rolled tasuki from one sleeve. When I look up again, Shigenari has crossed the space between us, his longsword thrust into his obi, nearly within three swords’ lengths of me. He halts as my gaze meets his, a deadly calm behind his eyes.

“Don’t do this, Yorubei,” Shigenari says softly. If I knew him less, I would think he were pleading with me. “Forget this- you needn’t come to us as an enemy. There is a place for you in the Sanada Hoshikage-Ryu.”

“The Sanada Hoshikage-Ryu,” I repeat slowly, evenly. Loudly. The magistrate lifts his head, motions to his scribe.

I pull the tasuki taut against my sleeves, revealing the kusarigote on my right arm. “I know you like to cut for the wrist, Shigenari.” The armoured sleeve clinks. “Do you think you can cut around this?”

Of course he can.

Shigenari falters, sighs. “Yorubei…”

“I have not come to speak, Sanada Shigenari. Show your sword, or mark your fear for mine.”

Something like pity- no, contempt- registers in Shigenari’s dark eyes. His longsword sweeps from its sheath with slow grace, dawnlight catching on the blade in threads of gold and scarlet. He wheels it carefully back over his shoulder to wakigamae as I draw my blade up into jodan.

Shigenari watches me. The faintest hint of a smirk play at his lips.

That’s right. You know exactly what I’m going to do, Shigenari, you conceited bastard.

The rhythm of the duel begins.

Toi-maai – the range of disengagement. We circle, tracing a void ring in the muddy earth with our heels. Shigenari’s blade held behind the pleats of his hakama, left elbow extended. The obvious target.

One, two - I dart forth.

Itto-issoku no maai. Killing range- one step and one cut ends everything.

Sen- the moment of attack.

I begin my cut, diagonal descending, whipping my longsword towards Shigenari’s collar.

A flash of gold and scarlet, blinding.

Shigenari’s arms crossing, cutting upward.

The fingers of my right hand tumbling in the wake of his sword, perfectly cut targets falling in the autumn chill. Fire and agony along my slashed knuckles.

So far, so good.

***********

Sanada Shigenari’s irredeemable affront was, when it needed him most, to leave the Tenshitō-Ryu.

It was early one morning, just before dawn, when I found Hachiba-sensei in one of the inner rooms, cleansed of his disgrace. I never understood the nature of this disgrace- the yudansha would not speak of it, least of all Shigenari. All that I really understood was what I found in that room- the poem set to one side, and the short dagger clenched in Hachiba-sensei’s hand.

Hachiba-sensei’s disgrace does not matter to me, but it seemed to matter to the yudansha. Surely they feared that it would destroy the reputation of the Tenshitō-Ryu. It was certainly destroyed when they followed Shigenari, fleeing to his new school.

The Tenshitō-Ryu was my life, and I was never good enough for it. And they all threw it away.

Shigenari threw it away.

And now I endure his final affront.

***********

The remains of my right hand part with the hilt, blood dotting the hilt wrap as it moves.

Hachiba-sensei always advocated targeting the right hand in sparring practice. Without the right hand, the sword would lose its drive, powerless without the strength of the right arm. The cut would falter, the sword falling from the left hand’s weaker grip.

It would, for a swordsman favouring his right hand.

I loosen my grip for an instant, slide it up towards the bloodied section of the hilt where my right hand had held it.

Flash of gold and scarlet. Shigenari’s sword turning like a wave, ribboning up toward a second cut.

I tighten my grasp, and finish my first cut one-handed.

Shigenari’s eyes, glazing, see mine as the rhythm breaks. He stands frozen as my sword found him, his own blade still raised overhead. His sundered chest pulls, ribs grasping at the sword that split them.

The world becomes small as I sink to my knees, blurring all around. I hear Shigenari crumple to the earth, shouts from familiar voices at the gateway, cries of outrage and grief. Grief I did not hear for Hachiba-sensei.

Amongst the clamour, the unmistakeable click and rasp of blades flying from their sheaths.

“Enough!” Hijikata’s voice. What might be his blur steps between me and the blotted crowd of the yudansha. His next words are gripped with despair. “This duel was fought fairly, and now it is over. Step back, all of you.”

“I… Record that Sanada Shigenari was struck down in the first exchange of cuts,” says the magistrate finally, somewhere far away to my ears. “By a stroke to the collar. The swordsman Nemura Yorubei made the cut using only his left hand.”

I hear my own laughter, distant as though in a tunnel, as I press my sleeves black-and-crimson against the slashed mess of my hand. “Magistrate, do you know nothing of kenjutsu? There are no left-handed strokes. There’s no such thing as a left-handed swordsman.”

Chainmail Onesie
May 12, 2014


LoserWinner
of "Thunder Dome!

Tanz! posted:

The other two judges state they will be expanding their crits in their own posts. However I am lazy and instead I am offering detailed crits to anyone who asks for one, that submitted this week. Just quote this post.

Me pls

Chainmail Onesie
May 12, 2014


LoserWinner
of "Thunder Dome!

Jon Joe posted:

Thanks for the crit.

Here are more crits:


Many thanks, these be some high quality and insightful crits

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Chainmail Onesie
May 12, 2014


LoserWinner
of "Thunder Dome!

In, vampire pls

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