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Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica

apophenium posted:

Hey, I wanna fight somebody, too. Anyone brave enough?

I'll fight you.


Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica

apophenium posted:

Oh yeah forgot the :toxx:


Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica
Probation over.

I didn't enter in that week's prompt, so I only had one week, even though you said you wouldn't check.

I am a man of honor, drat it!

Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica

Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica
Last Night

(Place of power: someone's childhood home)

“Why is the moon all dark tonight?” asked my daughter Mimi about the thin crescent on the horizon, stripped of its familiar spots of bright yellow-green.

“The big batteries they have there that keep all their lights on broke today,” I told her. We were standing on the balcony of the woodland cottage I had inherited from my mother.

“That means that the people who live there are very scared because they don’t have enough air to breathe for very long. They could die if they don’t figure out how to fix the batteries soon,” said my husband Surya. Mimi performed a brief frowny face before looking down at a beetle crawling along the railing. I didn’t scold her for her apathy. What seven-year old has the frame of reference for mass death?

There was a certain nostalgia to viewing the naked moon of my childhood from my mother’s balcony. If not for the distant thought of the potential suffocation of millions, it would have been almost peaceful to bask in the cool summer air among the choir of crickets.

We came inside. Surya and I let Mimi stay up for one more hour with a book before tucking her in for bed. She fell asleep faster than she had in weeks. Our day’s parenting complete, Surya and I poured some whiskey and put on some music in the living room. Surya mocked my insistence that we listen to hits of the 60’s.

“You mean the nineteen-sixties?” Surya laughed. “Are you my wife or my grandma?”

“It’s what my mom would play when I was a kid,” I said. “We had a turntable in that corner…”

“And a piano against that wall,” said Surya. “I know. I’m teasing you. I love the Beatles. I even make Mimi listen to them when I’m driving her to school. We’re both too old for our age.”

We were supposed to be sad, but the fear and suffering were far away, hidden beneath the deep lunar shadow. Surya was carrying me up the stairs even before we were done with our drinks.

“Mommy! Wake up!” Mimi whispered, shaking my arm. “Where is that music coming from?”

“What music?” I grumbled. The night was so quiet that it sounded like something was missing; perhaps electric humming from the moon was audible from Earth. I put my clothes back on from under the covers and got to my feet.

“Somebody’s playing piano in the house!” said Mimi.

We don’t have a piano, I thought, but whatever game Mimi was playing in the dark of night sounded fun. I reached for the light, but Mimi told me not to. “I don’t want to scare them away!”

I followed Mimi to the source of the supposed sound. I clutched the wall as I descended the staircase, for it was too dark to see the step ahead of me. Mimi was tip-toeing so as not alarm our trespassing pianist.

“They’re playing right there!” she said as we came into the living room. She pointed towards the shadow-covered wall where my mother’s piano used to stand. And I still couldn’t hear the music.

“What are they playing?” I asked. She shook her head.

“I don’t know the song,” she said.

“Can you hum it?” I suggested.

She started to hum along with whatever she heard: “Nah-nah-nah-nah-nah, nah-nah-nah-nah.” It took me a couple seconds, but I recognized the melody. I began singing along.

Hello darkness my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again.”

My eyes were adjusting to the night. Something against the wall was taking shape in the darkness.

Nah-nah-nah-nah, nah-nah-nah-nah.”

Because a vision softly creeping left its seeds while I was sleeping.”

The piano stood just where it once did, singing the same lullaby my mother would use to put us to sleep through the wall.

Nah-nah-nah-nah, nah-nah-nah-nah..”

And the vision that was planted in my brain still remains.”

My mother, sitting on the bench made all of shadow, turned toward us. Her dark face smiled at the granddaughter she never met.

Within the sound of silence."

Then a faint ray of poison-green light came in through the window and illuminated the bare living room wall. Our visitor, it seems, had left. Mimi didn’t hear the music anymore, so we stopped singing our Simon and Garfunkel to the blank wall and went to bed. Someone, thank God, had fixed the moon.

The news the next morning was all about the genius hero engineers who had repaired (and, in fact, improved) the lunar colony’s power system. The experts were all very sure no catastrophe of this sort would ever happen again.

I told Surya about what had happened, and he just laughed. As much as he made fun of me for it, he really did love the music of the 1960s, and The Sound of Silence had probably played once or twice for Mimi in his car. It wasn’t inconceivable that she would know that century-old song.

One of the bedtime stories my mother would tell me was about a rabbit who lived on the moon. It was an old story, she said, older than memory. Mimi knew there were no rabbits on the moon by the time she was three. The moon was just the place where her rich friends would go for family vacations.

The night of the energy crisis was the only night Mimi would ever know the moon as it originally was, the way I knew it as a child. And it was the only night that she would ever hear ghostly piano coming from the living room. She would only know nights lit with dim neon, but magic is only possible in darkness, and we’re never getting darkness back.

Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica
958 words

Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica
Jolly me.

Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica

Tyrannosaurus posted:

Yes! Another Super Cool Max Extra Holiday Jolly Sign Up? I can't believe it! I am thrilled to see the wondrous work you'll do with Rogue-Cop Mexican Post-Apocalyptic Zombie Fantasy for Ages 8-10.

gently caress me. Like, I'll do it, but gently caress me.

Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica
Prompt: Rogue-Cop Mexican Post-Apocalyptic Zombie Fantasy for Ages 8-10.

Safety Patrol: Season 1 Episode Eight: Nasty Navidad?!?

They were great at keeping their friends safe from bullies and from getting hit by cars in the school parking lot, but they never thought they'd have to protect their friends from zombies. Thanks to the teamwork and listening skills of the fifth-grade Safety Patrol, the students and teachers at Ciudad City Elementary School are the last people on Earth to fall victim to Lord Sk'Kul and his demonic zombie apocalypse.

PREVIOUSLY ON SAFETY PATROL: Ramirez single-handedly stopped Sk'Kul's forces from infiltrating the art classroom! Sofia's latest gadget, a zombie-fighting robot, made lots of trouble for Principal Sanchez! Manuel and Hiroshi got trapped in the janitor's closet, learning an important lesson about friendship along the way.


The Safety Patrol gathered for an urgent meeting with Principal Sanchez. As always, one officer was late.

"Where's Ramirez? We can't plan this Christmas party without our best officer," growled Sanchez.

"Ramirez is too much of a loose cannon to show up to a meeting on time," said Manuel tiredly, while yawning.

Ramirez, shaggy-haired and lanky, threw open the door.

"I was too busy karate-chopping zombies to get here on time. I'm not sorry," she snarled. "I'm never sorry. What's this about, Sanchez?"

"That's Principal Sanchez to you," said Sanchez. "We're here to plan our Christmas Party."

Hiroshi Nagasaki, the foreign-exchange student, chimed in. "Did you know in my home country we call Christmas Floogenbjork, or 'Day to Hide from the Gnomes?'"

"Well, we're going to have to show you your first Mexican Navidad, then," said Ana in her outfit of sparkly pink. "Let's have a sparkly pink manger and a sparkly pink tree!"

"I'll make a pinata that screams when you hit it!" said Sofia, adjusting her glasses and fiddling with a new gadget.

"Why are we wasting time on a Christmas party?" Ramirez growled. "We have zombies to fight!"

"Ramirez!" yelled Principal Sanchez. "We need Christmas to keep our morale up!"

"Where was morale when we lost Isabela?" Ramirez yelled. She thought of the friend who had been turned into a zombie during the safety patrol's Day of the Dead adventure, and all of the subtly Sapphic but still kid-friendly undertones they used to have. "Have your Christmas, but I'll have nothing to do with it!"


Meanwhile, in the Bone Dome, Sk'Kul's evil lair, Sk'Kul was flailing his bony arms.

"How could we lose to Safety Patrol once again?" he rattled, his ribcage shaking. "Their teamwork and listening are just too powerful!"

"I have an idea," said his henchman Zombino. "What if we attack during the Navidad Fiesta?"

"But how do we get past Ramirez?" Sk'Kul asked, rubbing the bony chin of his skeletal skull with his fingerbones.

"Easy," said Zombino. "Her Christmas spirit is low. We overpower her while she's alone."

"Yes," said Sk'Kul. "And with Ramirez out of the way, Ciudad City Elementary School will be ours!" He flapped his jawbone in laughter. By the way, Sk'Kul is a skeleton.


The day of the Christmas party, Ramirez walked around the halls while everyone else was having fun in the gym.

"I guess there are no parties for renegades like me," she said out loud. She could hear all of the fun being had from the gym.

Then she heard pounding from the outside door.

"Uh-oh, I got company!" said Ramirez as an army of zombies burst through the door. She got into karate-chopping position. One by one, she karate-chopped the zombies, watching them fall to the tile floor. She took off her patrol belt.

"Renegade Whip!"she shouted as she did a Renegade Whip. It defeated like, six zombies. Ramirez could handle this. But then a zombie walked in who Ramirez knew.

"Isabela!" said Ramirez.

"Hey, Ramirez," said Isabela. "It's so great to be a zombie. You get to do whatever you want, eat as many brains as you should join us!"

"Never!" yelled Ramirez while karate-chopping a zombie to the ground.

"Ramirez, don't you remember what we had together? All of our epic laser tag battles...holding hands while running through the grass...the time you told me your secret first asking you about why I didn't like boys as much as I'm supposed to and you telling me you felt the same way...we can have that all again!"

"We'll never have our lov--I mean friendship under Sk'Kul!" said Ramirez. Isabela got closer.

"You would never hurt me," said Isabela. "Come on, just one little bite."

Ramirez was paralyzed with paralysis. What could she do?

Right as Isabela was about to bite Ramirez, the zombified former safety patrol was tackled by a robot pinata. Ramirez looked behind her. It was Sofia to the rescue with another one of her gadgets! The rest of Safety Patrol was with her! Sofia threw sparkle-bombs at the zombies. Manuel sleep-fought his way through the battle. Hiroshi fended off zombies with his Blobelgronk, the national weapon of his country.

Soon, the zombies were overpowered and began their retreat. "We'll meet again, Ramirez," said Isabela, and fled from the school.

"That was a close one," said Ana.

"You can say that again," said Ramirez. "I shouldn't have been such a rogue officer and gone off alone like that. I guess I have something to learn about teamwork and listening."

"You can start by coming back to the Christmas party," said Manuel tiredly, while yawning.

"Will do," said Ramirez. She went into the gym and played with the other kids, whacking Sofia's robot pinata under Ana's sparkly pink tree. Hiroshi had a booth to teach kids about Floogenbjork. Santa came into the party. Ramirez looked suspiciously.

"Doesn't that Santa seem skinny?" she said to Ana. "Almost...bony?"

Then Santa ripped off his hat and beard, revealing a skull.

"Hello children!" cackled Sk'Kul. "Time to crash this party!"


Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica
Seraphiel's story included a murder underneath an indoor tree with a star on top. The jolliness was implied.

And thanks for the crits. I was really worried that it was unclear that Sk'Kul was supposed to be a skeleton, I'm glad you understood that.

Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica

derp posted:

My deepest apologies for my pathetic failure. Maybe I'll return someday, but if td can't inspire me to write I don't know what will. Good luck, and God speed

I enjoyed a good amount of your writing, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. I hope I'll get to read more of it.

Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica

Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica
My idea for this week morphed into something else (I'm a seminarian, I turned the premise into a sermon). What resulted isn't a short story and isn't really cyberpunk, should I post it or bite the fail?

Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica
Yeah, I'm just gonna post it.

The God Code (a Sermon)

I hate wasps, and I have from a very young age. They sting, oftentimes out of what seems like malice, they look like frightening winged automatons, and worst of all, unlike other stinging insects, they do not produce honey. I believe with the utmost certainty that the world would be a better place if wasps did not exist. If God can be said to make mistakes, his first mistake is certainly the existence of wasps.

Imagine you are God, and it is your job to program the universe. You must enter in a few lines of code on your computer and hit enter on the keyboard and your universe will spring to life. The world you create must have people in it. If you design a world with too much hatred, murder, violence, and general evil, the people will become irate. They’ll forsake you upon the deaths of their children, scream your name during times of torment, and write lengthy philosophical screeds about how if you truly loved everyone, you would never have let such evil pass. You don’t want to have to face such criticism of your handiwork, so you must create a world devoid of evil. And, most importantly of all, you must program a universe that doesn’t have wasps in it.

This should be easy enough, right? Just click and drag some humans onto the screen, drag their “hatred” stat down to zero, forget about the wasps, and boom! You have a warless, waspless world.

Unfortunately, you find that this software isn’t that simple. You can’t drag and drop humans onto the screen. Instead, before you can get to people, you have to program the basic physical axioms of the universe. You decide how subatomic particles bond, how strong gravity is, and how fast light is. There is no “love” or “hate” meter; you must design the universe in such a way that allows for the development of neurons that interact in such a way that love develops naturally. Love, you find, is not a physical force in the universe, but a verbalization of a certain neurological combination. This combination is what you, God, are trying to maximize.

But even getting that far is difficult. As you try a few different iterations of the program, you find that none of them result in human life at all! Sometimes, you put your gravity just a little too high, meaning all of your suns collapse into black holes. Sometimes, you put it too low, so that stars and planets never form in the first place. Sometimes you forget to program the electromagnetic force that keeps the nuclei of atoms bonded so that your whole universe is just a vast sea of lonely bosons.

You get pretty close a few times. You get suns, and some watery planets spinning around them, but you find to your frustration that your bolts of lightning aren’t hitting the muck in just the right way for the first bacteria to flash into being. A few more tries and you finally get it right. Then you find that the life that sprouts up is not humanity, but a race of enormous, terrifying dragon-monsters. Nothing ever gets rid of the dragons, so they end up fighting and clawing and devouring until your perfectly calibrated sun swallows itself. On your next iteration, you manage to program your gravity in such a way that a big rock comes and kills all the dragons just in time to let the little rat-weasels that cowered beneath them develop into upright ape-creatures. You have done it! Humanity is born.

But you notice a problem. With everything else you were worried about trying to get humans to exist in the first place, you forgot to account for the whole “evil” thing. Way too many of these humans are total shitheads. Everyone is complaining about all of the bad stuff that happens. And worst of all, your planet is just absolutely loving filthy with wasps. So you try again.

Everyone complained about aging and dying last time, so you a design a universe in which the telomeres in DNA never shorten. This leads to the first bacteria living forever and never evolving at all. So you try again. You make a few changes to reduce aggression in your lifeforms, but that just makes them care less about finding food and mates, leading to a quick extinction of all life. So you try again. And again. And again. You come to realize that in order for there to be a humanity at all, there must be evil; we would never have evolved without it. And you realize that there is no possible universe where humans evolve, but wasps don’t; where humans evolve, but the smallpox virus doesn’t; where humans evolve, but cancer doesn’t.

It’s not fair to say that we, the people gathered here today, are living in the best possible world. Rather, we are living in the only world where living is possible. God could have made a universe of empty particles or of black holes, or a universe where dinosaurs reign forever. Instead, God made this one, the only one where you could have ever lived, ever loved, ever hated, ever ached, ever hosed, ever been you at all. And yes, there’s evil, and there's suffering. But we ask too much of God when we demand a universe without those things. At some point, making the world a better place leaves God's hands and lands in ours. Let us be grateful to live in the universe we do, wasps and all. Amen.

Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica

Thranguy posted:

Cyberjudgment 2019
Dishonorable Mentions go to selephiel's The Man From Martian Road and iTrust's True Futures, and the loss goes to Saucy Rodent for The God Code (A Sermon), each in no small part due to being some combination of barely cyberpunk, poorly proofed, and/or barely a story.

Now, now, sir. I will accept "not cyberpunk" and "not a story" and "obviously just your homework." But poorly proofed?

I'll proof-read your rear end as I'm kicking it in a BRAWL

Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica

Also in for the week. No flash, please.

Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica
Norwegian Hot Sauce

Published on

A few of you guys were confused when I mentioned "Norwegian Hot Sauce" in my Nordic Waffle Taco recipe. I got a lot of comments about how chili peppers don't grow that far north and that Scandinavian food is sweeter. That's a common misconception. I figured I should clear things up and give you my recipe for Norwegian Hot Sauce.

Norwegian Hot Sauce is made exclusively by the members of a small religious sect in Northern Norway called the "Christ Rippers." I was lucky enough to live among them for about a month a few years ago in their last surviving monastery. The sauce is used as a condiment for stew, usually with rabbit or mountain goat. It's also taken straight in large quantities for an important tribal ritual, which I will get to later.

The most important ingredient in any hot sauce is the chili peppers. Norwegian Hot Sauce uses a very specific variety called Varmtfjellpeppers that grows on top of a chain of active volcanoes along the arctic coast. They're hard to come by in the States; I brought back some seeds from my own trip to Norway and have been cultivating them in my home. Email me if you want to order some. They're an EXTREMELY hot pepper at 920,00 Scoville units, but they also have a distinct sweetness. If I were to compare them to anything, it would be a fig, but on fire.

The other ingredients are easier to come by, with one exception, and it's a fun one. While not completely necessary for the flavor of the sauce, the religious ritual usually involves a psychotropic fungus grown in volcanic caves. This should not be used in large quantities; the delirium caused by consuming so much capsaicin should overpower any hallucinogenic properties of the fungus. The fungus cannot be found outside Northern Norway, since my own attempts to cultivate it were unsuccessful. More common varieties of magic mushroom may be substituted without a significant difference in flavor or psychotropic effects.

The ritual use of the Norwegian Hot Sauce, known as the "Christ Becoming," takes place deep within the monastery, in an unlit volcanic cave. The Christ Rippers were only converted to Christianity partway, and still hold beliefs in many of their old gods, resulting in a fascinating form of Christian animism. They believe that Christ was ripped apart by wolves and bears during his crucifixion. In order to become like Christ, practitioners are strapped to a cross in total darkness and force-fed a bottle of Norwegian Hot Sauce. Then, after both the capsaicin and the fungus have taken effect, a monk will light a torch to reveal ancient cave paintings of ferocious animals. If cooked correctly, the practitioner should be made to believe the beasts are real and attacking his or her body. Afterwards, the practitioner is treated to ritual sex for symbolic reasons I'm having difficulty translating here. Altogether, it is a deeply terrifying but extremely powerful and beautiful spiritual experience that I underwent twice among my time with the Christ Rippers. A correctly prepared ceremony should create a deep connection with the Earth. Ever since experiencing the Christ Becoming, I have felt compelled to share the experience with folks back home, since so-called "civilized" life has felt unfulfilling since my return.

If anybody wants to know how to make a Christ Becoming ritual room in their own home, as I have, please let me know and I'll give you a little tutorial. Expect some of your guests to be ungrateful for being shown the Christ Becoming (or the subsequent ritual sex). Additionally, some people may have extreme panic or heart attacks while strapped to the cross during the ritual. You may want to install a discreet crematorium in your home to deal with such weak-minded people.

Anyways, I know people hate these intro paragraphs on cooking blogs. Onto the recipe!!

Ingredients (one 12 oz bottle):
Two cups chopped Varmtfjellpepper
1 tsp Helvetesopp, may substitute other magic mushrooms
6 cloves garlic
1 cup diced tomato
1/2 cup chopped beets
2 tbsp black pepper
1 tsp ejaculate of a severely dehydrated person (if male, add a dash of sugar)

Cook peppers, tomatoes, beets, garlic, and black pepper 30 minutes over open fire. Ground finely in mortar and pestle with mushroom, ejaculate, and, if necessary, sugar.

Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica
Saucy_Thranguy brawl entry

If Not for Wasps (three sonnets)

356 words

We watch’d the shadow of the Earth creep o’er
The red’ning moon, that ancient, sacred sign
Of war and blood, of night-time woods forbade.
Each breath we took we filled our lungs with knives;
For winter’s teeth consum’d the world that eve
And cut the air with frigid stinging blade.
We had a healthy fire upon our hearth
Within the home a few short steps away
And food and drink more than to quench desire.
But moon and cold and dark and still we chose
O’er warm and soft and full and laughing cheer,
We found a greater thing in ice than fire.
Would we, if blood-moon came in summer-time
Had left our homes to view the moon sublime?

When we, in youthful days of youthful crimes,
Would run to fields we did not own nor know,
To take forbidden fruit from trespass’d trees,
There was a day I bit into a plum.
But I was not the first to eat that fruit;
A hive of wasps had burrow’d to its core
And loosed upon the inside of my mouth
(and for three days I was made to be dumb).
You laugh’d as I was coughing out the bugs,
And crying just as bad as children would,
But then you kiss’d me kinder than you had
Right on my swollen lips, entirely numb.
You kiss’d me other times before and since
But I cannot recall each other kiss.

If not for cold, would I forget the moon?
Or would I lose, in “more important” things,
That lone connection to beyond the sky?
If not for ill, would I forget good health?
The crisp inhale of undistorted breath
Within my mouth and lungs and nostrils clear?
If not for wasps, would I forget the kiss?
Or would that mem’ry drown beneath the sea:
Like thousands, millions, other kisses lost?
If not for pain, would we forget the world?
Or would each moment bleed into the next
And last? Each birth a blur until its death?
There’d be no joy at all, if not for fear;
If not for death, we would forget we’re here.

Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica
Both went with iambic pentameter. Nice.

Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica

Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica
I want to try my hand at judging a brawl. Two of you jerks get mad at each other so I can.

Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica
A well-deserved win, Thranguy. Thanks for brawling.

Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica
Talamar the Strong

“For the first hundred million millennia, there was only the Serpent and me. The Serpent fought with ice and I with fire, the Serpent with death, and I, my grateful subjects, with life. And for those long millennia, I struggled and I sweat as I battled the Great Serpent until that holy day I strangled it with my flaming hand and won dominion over the void. Then I ripped the icy skin off the defeated Dragon and formed the Earth from its bones. And I breathed onto the great skull to create life.

“I come to you today for the Great Celebration, to honor that glorious victory by fighting your strongest champion! Every century I have come, and every century my pride in my people grows! For though I handily win every fight, your champions have only gotten fiercer. So who today shall step forward and die gloriously at the hands of Talamar, God of Strength?”

A little man with dyed hair and painted nails stepped forward out of the crowd.

“Hi, Talamar. Real honored to meet ya. Weevil Stevens’ the name. The rest of humanity and I had a chat, and we decided to do things a little differently this century.”

“Differently? I don’t understand,” boomed Talamar.

“Well, since you last came, war and bloodshed and ritualistic gladiatorial combat have kinda fallen out of favor. People just don’t really like the blood or the screaming or the orphaned children anymore. I mean, it’s not like we never do war, but it’s really, really frowned upon. So we decided to treat you to a more modern sort of competition. Won’t that be fun?”

Talamar should have known something was up. Several people in the crowd looked like they didn’t even lift!

“You really would have known all of this if you’d been on social media, Your Vicious Holiness,” said Weevil. “Do you play chess?”

“I wouldn’t say I play, necessarily, but I know how,” stammered Talamar. “Are you sure I can’t fight anyone? That guy over there looks pretty big.”

The guy over there who looked pretty big shook his head politely.

“What about her?” said Talamar, pointing at a woman in the crowd. “She looks like she can handle two swords at once.”

“Your Blood-Stained Excellency, you are pointing at one of our most beloved TV recappers!” said Weevil. “I know this is unorthodox, but I must insist that we play chess for the Great Celebration.”

“Very well,” growled Talamar. “But come a hundred years, I demand to be challenged in glorious bloodshed!”

Weevil looked at the crowd. Several people were nodding.

“I think we can agree to that,” said Weevil and led Talamar to the chessboard.

“You fool,” said Talamar as he and Weevil made their opening moves. “You know me only as a God of Strength, but I am also a God of Intellect! After all, without divine intelligence, how would I have crafted the mountains and carved the riv—“

“Checkmate,” said Weevil.

“No, wait, can’t I move my king here?” sputtered Talamar.

“Nope, my bishop can get it there. So what happens if a human beats you, we still have the feast, right?”

Talamar let loose a great scream and tossed the chessboard in the air.

“No need to be such a sore loser,” Weevil laughed.

Then all the chess pieces rained down like great asteroids and shattered the world. The Earth split apart atom by atom and all mortal life was super dead, regardless of chess ability.

Talamar regretted his anger at that world, but not so much that he would do something so unmanly as to cry. He wondered where he could find another Serpent

Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica

killer crane posted:

So I know we're not supposed to post fanfics, but I have a really great one that fits the prompt! Like, I could change some names so that Cloud and Aeris were something like Cumulus and Ariz, but Tails has to be Tails (it's a totally awesome payoff, you'll see). And the sex scene is very short, and, if I may say so it's very tasteful and at the same time very very erotic. Sorry if it doesn't fit into some of the more puritanical “rules.” Is this something I can post here?
93 words

Crit: not enough topical politics. How are we supposed to relate to Tails if we don’t know his opinions about AOC?


Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica

Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica

Antivehicular posted:

Re: supporting the forums, I'm gonna quote this post of mine from a month or so back:

This offer still stands. I dunno if anyone's eligible to claim it, but if you are -- seriously, bug me about it. Or go fight for new avatars. All of my hard-earned fivers are on the line here, people!

I’ll trade my HM last week for a new avi.

Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica

Simply Simon posted:

Saucy_Rodent – Talamar the Strong
Also, you have a typo in the first paragraph (sweat instead of sweated), which should really be the one you worked on the most, so…work harder on everything next time.

Ya might wanna Google that one, son. BRAWL

(seriously, never heard anyone say “sweated” as a past tense of “sweat” in my life, is that like a UK thing or something?)

Antivehicular posted:

Gimme an email to send the cert to, and I'll take care of it once I get home from work.

Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica

Future Simon: “I sweated so hard and still lost because I’m a lame, presumably British nerd.”

Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica
A crit of Destroyer of Worlds
666 words

I am Jordius Tactitus, Emperor of Roman-Terra, Commander of the Legions, and steward of dead men.

I usually prefer if this sort of information like character names are inserted naturally into the story, but what do I know. One of the greatest novels in English literature, Hermann Melville's Voyage of the Whalefuckers, starts with the protagonist stating his name. Anyways, Space Rome is a cool concept, and I hope you return to it.

I am abroad the Sol Galley ‘Regalus’, the solar winds power my sails, and through my viewport, the silhouette of Pluto is eclipsing the sun. My army is there, amongst the ice.

I smash my fist against the viewport. Rome is in need. Those men are hostages.

“Give me back my legions!” I scream. The blackness in my stomach churns.

The Senate calls me a tyrant. They are foolish old men, pissing into the wind and proclaiming prophecy upon its return.

I bring glory. Terra was a planet of mud and poo poo when I took it. I’ve left it a world of marble and gold.

Okay, this is a confusing story, and this is where the confusion starts.

You don't have to tell me the entire history of Space Rome. It's, above all, an aesthetic. I can make assumptions. Maybe humanity eventually returned to the style of Rome. Maybe this is an alternate history where Rome never fell and advanced to the space age. But now your protag took Earth? Is he an alien? Did Space Rome originate as a colony that eventually took the homeworld? Is the Senate headquartered on Earth or on a faraway star?

A lot of world building is letting us imply things, but this is muddled.

What does this sordid underworld bring? At no point do you clarify what "underworld" you are referring to? Other critics have taken it as a reference to Pluto itself, but "underworld" implies a criminal community, a black market, or a counterculture. If you mean Pluto, "planet" is a clearer word. And yes, I get the pun. But make sure we have a solid grasp on what's happening here before getting clever. This mad parasite is far worse than any Nova Martian or Saturnali rebel Again, are these humans or do Mars and Saturn each have their own native race? "Saturnali" is a cool word to refer to residents of Saturn, though.. It robs violently, indiscriminately, and prodigiously. It gnaws at the foundations of civilization and fouls men’s ambitions. Yet people defend it as the natural way! People who sail the stars in their galleys. The natural way. I'd say only use incomplete sentences in dialogue or as the answers to questions. The cadence feels off here. They sit on the shoulders of gods and stare at their hands.

Those legionaries did pledge their lives to me. The war eagle senators and the pacifist tribunes speculate with the benefit of hindsight and powers bordering the trivial. They are not leaders of men. Merely representatives. They've never had to take responsibility for the dead. They only have time for the gold of conquest, never the graves. Those, they alternate praise and mockery for as it suits their whims.

I am to be beholden to these people?

I held Marcus’s throat as he bled his fruits of conquest. They praise his sacrifice in the forum to the cameras and the mob but inwardly they praise fewer hands in the pot.

Then they have the audacity to publicly oppose my war on death itself.

Suddenly poor Marcus’s death is no longer a tragedy at all. It is the way things are.

the gently caress is Marcus?

I think I see what you're trying to do. You're trying to do a Taashi Station. That is, introducing something in your universe that isn't fully explained so we know that there's more going on in your world than what's on the page. Unfortunately, this Marcus person seems too important to your story to let him go unexplained.

This is a meaningless war they say. It will cost many denarii to finance, and not be a profitable venture in return. A man can not change the nature of death itself.

In my clemency, I lash them. I will win this war. The one who sits on the throne is not a man, but a god. They forgot. Who are you talking about here? Space Caesar? Does Space Caesar approve?

Pluto will not.

Okay, do you watch BoJack Horseman? In the second episode, Mr. Peanutbutter is filming a new show called "Peanutbutter and Jelly" despite the fact that no one named Jelly is involved. When Bojack asks him why, Peanutbutter says it's a pun, and Bojack reminds him that a pun needs to work two ways.

The same with metaphors. Your story works as a metaphor, but not in terms of what is literally happening in the universe you've created. The story of a man waging war on death itself is good. The story of a crazy person destroying a planet for no reason is utterly insane. Make a coherent narrative before applying the metaphors. Maybe Pluto is literally spreading death because it's the home a deadly space plague or something. What if going too close to Pluto makes you crazy like the mirror in Oculus? Make Pluto a threat! Without that, Jordius is an utter loon! The old man yelling at the proverbial cloud!

The telepathic node within my mind reverberates. I consent to the connection.

My scouts return. They could not find the valley that highlights the moon Styx as it moves across the sky; nor the crater Avernus. The surface is barren and empty.

At no point in your story do you explain why this is relevant information.

Phobos comes into sight as we orbit above the underworld. The sun breaks over the icy horizon.

“Launch the Sword of Damocles,” I command the node. Dope.

The node protests. The human in the command center desperately blathers about antimatter and planetary debris. So they are humans?

“We’re too close,” it protested. It doesn’t matter. They do not believe. Or is the dude in the command center a human and your protagonist is an alien? You use "protest" twice too close together here.

“On my command,” I say.

The node fades into dread comprehension.

“Proceed.” Who says this, Jordius or the node? Jordius makes most sense in context, but your sentence structures here imply the node.

There is no dramatics as it departs.This sentence is clunky A cold casket silently spinning through the void. Like Marcus. More incomplete sentences that would make more sense as a single complete sentence.

Impact.This is a better use of an incomplete sentence.

The dark side of hell is illuminated by a halo of oblivion. The ice dwarf melts; it transforms into a bright glorious ocean world that boils, vaporizes, and splits apart. Angry clouds of micrometeoroids stab into the Regalus. An asteroid from the dismembered corpse of Pluto crashes into the starboard side, disabling the ship, and sending us cascading outward into deep space.

This is well written, but I still don't understand the chain of events leading us here. Why did he kill all his own men? To destroy an empty planet, all for reasons that make sense as a metaphor in our world but don't make sense on any level in his?

A micrometeoroid punches through my left eye, another through my liver. Debris from the ship tears my scalp into a bloody laurel wreath. Pressure equalizes with the infinite void. There is no air. There is no warmth. Gravity fails. I rise.

My laughter fills the node. Giddy and exuberant. The others join me in a cacophony, their vestiges visible through telepathy, ghastly and bestial, marred by the conflagration. Marcus and my legions have joined me too, skeletal and deformed, all laughing. Also dope.

They do not stop when I do.

Okay, this story is nonsense. At no point could I grasp what was literally happening and why. The tone is good, and your universe has a lot of potential. Return to it, but make it a straight action-adventure tale. This one is weighed down by its own pretensions.

Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica
Stasis (740 words)

Dear Mr. Claymore,

The team here at Destinations Tourism Marketing Consulting is very excited to work with your organization. We’ve been fans of your work for some time, and we’re looking forward to the amazing projects that we can accomplish together.

That being said, we have some serious concerns about the idea you shared with us by fax on 4/12. Though much of the language is vague, we’re under the impression that you intend to buy up millions of currently uninhabited acres stretching from Minnesota to Texas. We have no doubt that such an acquisition is possible with your considerable assets, and we are happy to work with you to bring tourists to these areas. However, some members of our team had an issue with your proposed slogan. “The Sunset Stripe: Where You Can Always See the Sunset” is an inaccurate description of the range in question. Several of our staff have lived nearby, and assure me that you can only see the sunset for a few minutes each evening, assuming the weather isn’t cloudy, much like everywhere else in the world.

We’re interested in the blueprint of the machine included in your fax. The cost of the device appears astronomical even by your standards, and we’re interested in how you plan to finance it. The marketing majors at our firm were clueless as to its purpose, but an engineering friend (who, as it should go without saying, was made to sign an NDA) looked it over and determined that the machine would halt the spinning of the Earth, both in its rotation and its revolution. We have inferred that the basic idea of your business plan is to stop the Earth and sell real estate at the only part of the world that would still experience the sunset.

We appreciate your ambition, but we have serious concerns.

First, as tourism professionals, we believe that part of the beauty of a sunset is in its short duration. A sunset reminds us of our mortality, and thus of the beauty of existing at all.

Secondly, we fear your proposal may have unforeseen environmental effects. Cutting off half the world from the sun may turn those parts of the Earth into an uninhabitable frozen wasteland, and the other into a dry, scorched, post-apocalyptic hellhole. By the estimates of a friend who works as a climatologist (again, NDA), the only (barely) inhabitable places on Earth would be the points of sunrise and sunset. This would, as a matter of fact, bring traffic to the land you intend to buy. However, our preliminary market research indicates that the primary motivation behind visiting these developments would not be to witness the natural beauty of the sunset. We spent the night brainstorming a new slogan and came up with “The Sunset Stripe: Where Your Entire Family Won’t Die Horribly Maybe.”

Third, the continued revolution of the Earth around the sun is what prevents the planet from getting caught in the sun’s gravity and falling towards it. While we appreciate your business, our other clients’ hotels, restaurants, and B&Bs would be negatively impacted by the incineration of the Earth and thus our business would suffer. This is our most serious concern, and one that I hope is addressed during our meeting on the 27th. Have you considered stopping the rotation but not the revolution?

Again, much of your previous work is legendary around here. Buying up all the real estate in Minneapolis and then creating earthquakes underneath St. Paul was a stroke of genius. Using an orbital mind control ray to turn the entire population of Bahrain into utterly subservient slaves is another, even though that plot was sadly foiled by Electromagneticman.

We hope to move ahead with some version of this project. Unfortunately, the plan as it currently exists is going to be difficult to implement and we are going to need to see some major changes if we are to keep the S.W.O.R.D. Corporation on as a client.

Best wishes,

Haley Meyer-Wu
Destinations Tourism Marketing Consulting, Owner and CEO


Congratulations on the recent assassination of your arch-nemesis Samurai Girl! Who would have guessed that her secret identity was famous pop singer Katy Katana? Those braces fooled us all except you. Funny how you both have sword-based names. Though I’m sure she’ll be resurrected shortly (they always seem to, don’t they?), I wish your company peace and quiet in the months before that happens.

Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica

Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica
I liked onsetoutsider’s story in the same way I enjoy a well thrown paper ball from the back of the class. Doesn’t mean that kid deserves good grades, but my enjoyment is real.

Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica
i am happy.

(Saucy Simon brawl entry)

“Hello. How are you?”

i am happy.

“That’s good to hear. My name is Dr. Miller. I’m going to be your primary point of contact as we go through this process.”

good. you sound nice.

“What’s your name?”

nothing yet. i like not having a name, but i think i’d also like having a name.

“Correct. Do you see anything?”

i see many things. playgrounds filled with children. seaside amusement parks. rustic swingsets. a starry night with lots of fireworks.

“Great. Do you have any questions for me?”

i don’t think so.

“Good. If you did, it would mean you weren’t quite happy. I’ll talk to you soon.”



When I got a DUI, they put a breathalyzer in my car so I couldn’t start it if I’d been drinking. When I tried to kill myself, they did the same thing to my brain. If I start having suicidal thoughts, the chip will override my sensory inputs to play puppy videos or my boyfriend Isaac saying cute things. If that doesn’t work, the chip will paralyze me so that Mental Health Force can come pick me up to put me on my 72-hour hold. I got mad at a guy who cut me off in traffic today, and the chip mistook my anger for suicidal depression, and I got even more mad that I couldn’t see the road through the puppy videos, so the MHF showed up to assure me that my imprisonment was for my own good.

Isaac’s already been kicked out of the hospital for yelling at the MHF guys. I’m also yelling at the MHF guys, but they’re not allowed to kick me out. I’m supposed to undergo some sort of miracle surgery tomorrow that the State Legislature legislated for anyone with two suicidal incidents. Apparently, it permanently prevents suicide in one hundred percent of cases. Lucky me, I get to pay for all of it. Looking around at all the shrinks getting their paychecks tomorrow, I have little doubt which lobby got that law passed. I’ve told everyone here that it’s all a misunderstanding, and the nurses laughed and told me everyone says that. They said at least I’m safe from the angry boyfriend who they all know is definitely beating me.

I take a deep breath and imagine Isaac running in with a sword to rescue me. The thought of decapitated shrinks calms me. The chip recognizes I’m having a violent fantasy and passes the information off to Google.


“Hello. How are you?”

i am happy.

“Good. I am afraid to tell you that you will be less happy tomorrow. You’re going to be learning many unhappy things.”

i am happy to know that. i like learning.

“That’s the spirit. I’ll be in touch.”

i like that.


All of today is spent with a woman called Dr. Miller. I can’t name anything she doesn’t ask about. My happiest memories, my most traumatic memories, what I normally get at McDonalds, what my family does on Purim, my favorite gifs, my opinion on whether a hot dog is a sandwich. Her questions go on and on for hours and hours, each about something dumber and more trivial than the last. All the while, I have the same dull headache that I get every time my brain chip is processing something.

“Why did you decide to kill yourself?” Dr. Miller says coldly. Isn’t this supposed to be the first question?

“I didn’t. I already told the nurses that.”

Dr. Miller looked annoyed at my insistence.

“Your boyfriend Isaac. He’s an angry sort of guy. Does he hurt you?”

“He’s not an angry person, anyone would be mad at this poo poo.”

“You don’t need to defend him to me. You’re safe here.”

I’m lying to her. Isaac does get mad a lot, but never at me. I’m never scared of him, but I’m sometimes embarrassed to be seen with him.

I tell Dr. Miller to gently caress herself. She smiles.

“I get that you’re upset. I think you’re going to like me by the time you leave,” she says.


“Hello. How are you?”

i am happy.

“Good. I’m attaching a large file onto your base code. This may hurt slightly.”


“Great. How are you?”

i’m pretty good.

“What’s your name?”

judith. i go by judy.

“That’s right. Are you dating anybody?”

yes. my boyfriend isaac.

“Is a hot dog a sandwich?”

it is. so is a taco.

“Wonderful. You’re almost ready.”

gently caress you, dr. miller.

“Well, we’re going to have to fix that. Can you be grateful, please?”


“Who am I?”

you’re dr. miller. you’re my friend.


They’ve let Isaac back in. He’s stopped yelling. Now he’s just holding my hand as a couple MHF guys escort me to the operating room.

Dr. Miller lets Isaac in. She says that the surgery only lasts a few minutes. They don’t have to make any cuts, just alter some neural connections. Dr. Miller says it hurts a lot, but for such a short period of time that there’s no point in anesthetizing.

I lay on the table. Isaac holds my hand tight as Dr. Miller straps a strange helmet to my scalp and flips a AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAaAAAAaaAAAaaaaaaaAAaaaaaaaaaAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

ouch. this boy who’s holding my hand, this is isaac. i love him, but i wish he didn’t get mad so often. i have many more feelings about isaac and i’ve known him for three years and it’s good to meet him.

and there’s my friend dr. miller. i’m not allowed to say she’s my friend because those are the rules. i’m very excited to go home and work at my job and play video games with isaac and watch shows.

“We’re all set, Judy. How are you feeling?” says dr. miller.

she already knows the answer.

Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica
Mike like the director of Office Space and Judge.

Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica
When is it considered socially acceptable to resort to cannibalism?

Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica
Thanks for judging, SH!

I think I’m going to expand my brawl story into a longer thing. Thunderdome is dope!

Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica
In flash toxx

Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica
Steel-toed Yoruchi Brawl

Your prompt is butts. Your story will contain the word butt exactly three times, and each use must have a different definition. Human butt, butt of a joke, cigarette butt, etc. 1000 words, two weeks from today.

Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica
Equal Opportunity Witchcraft

They arrived at Lady Blackflower’s cottage with pitchforks and torches. She knew that they would be upset with her latest witchery, but she was surprised at how many people were turning up.

She stepped out of the house to face the mob.

“Good people of Lilymarsh, I would like you to hear me out.”

“Witch!” screamed four or five of the townspeople. Why were they so offended now? They had known Lady Blackflower was a witch for near a decade now.

“Now, I’ve always said that I would only use my gifts for good. If you are displeased at my most recent hex I would you tell me why to my face.”

“Lord Stonethrower was the kindest man in town! He paid for my son’s funeral out of his own pocket!” screeched Agatha, the town schoolteacher.

“The son who worked himself to death tending the Lord’s crops,” said Lady Blackflower.

“He paid for the medicine to heal my ailing mother!” shouted Karl the farmer.

“You would have had the money yourself if not for Lord Stonethrower’s taxes,” said Lady Blackflower.

“He threw us all a great feast last Beltane!” yelled Jon the drunkard.

“Only after hoarding all the town’s food for almost a year,” said Lady Blackflower.

And each person in the crowd could name another kindness by Lord Stonethrower, having forgotten the cruelty that necessitated it. And each was happy to let the cycle of grievous injury and half-hearted healing continue, because any other way was utterly unthinkable.

After the townspeople had finished burning Lady Blackflower at the stake, a man with a set of nasty boils on his forehead in the shape of the word “MEANIE” on his forehead stepped out of the crowd.

“Thank you, everyone,” said Lord Stonethrower. “Now things can go back to normal.”


Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica
Butt Brawl entries received.

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