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Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021

in with a flash please

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Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021

The Right Wish
Time Travel RomCom: Childhood best friends, loyal companion, flashbacks, night of revelry, enemies are foils
1,482 Words

Drunkenly, Crenshaw nearly spilled out of the elevator but instead spilled the contents of his stomach into a nearby azalea drawing the attention and ire of the lobby staff.

He eyed the acrid chunks of regret that adorned the red leaves and shamelessly wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. He muttered an apology to no one specific and trundled through the lobby towards the snow outside.

The cold air helped to sober him up some, but he still shambled along the sidewalk like a zombie, feeling about as dead as he looked.

“You’ve hosed this one up, Crenny.” He told himself blinking away tears that formed in the corner of his eyes.

It was late enough that not many people were out, and the relative silence let him reflect on the night.

He sighed as he played back the events in his mind.

***

Sarah had text Crenshaw just after 5:00.

She knew how to pull his strings, but more importantly, she was still looking out for him after all these years.

Crenshaw on the other hand was not a particularly good friend, but Sarah’s stalwart dedication to him often left him feeling obligated to go along with whatever plots she had cooked up.

The text read, “Hey, Henry’s throwing a crazy New Year’s party tonight … and before you say no to play WoW or with yourself, I heard Yara’s going to be there.”

Crenshaw sighed and began to type a response when a series of kissy face emojis appeared on the screen followed by another text filled with hearts and lastly a text that said, “you know you want to.”

Crenshaw smiled at this and keyed in a response. “You win.”

His phone vibrated back with, “Great, I’ll pick you up at 9.”

***

Crenshaw surprised himself at how well he looked. He didn’t go out much, and if it weren’t for Sarah, he might not have even had anything nice in his closet. More than once, Sarah had dragged him out of his home under false pretenses only to take him shopping for himself.

Even though he complained, he knew the confidence he felt looking at himself was in part due to her.

“Bless that ornery woman,” he said as his doorbell rang.

He slid on his shoes and opened the door. Sarah staggered back in genuine surprise, “Wow! You cleaned up nice, and I see you are wearing the outfit I picked for you. Perfectly timed for a party, no?”

“If you say so…” Crenshaw grumbled, “…let’s just get it over with.”

“What type of sorry attitude is that? Hm? Tonight’s your chance! You can finally make your move on Yara. You go on and on about her but beat yourself up when you fail to even tell her hello. Not tonight. Not looking like that.” Sarah said smiling at him.

“I suppose you’re right, thanks.”

“Of course I’m right. Now let’s go!”

***

The party took place in an upscale hotel downtown. Upon arrival, a valet took Sarah’s car and the two of them made their way to the elevator.

“A bit swanky for a new year’s party.” Crenshaw mumbled looking at the luxurious interior of the hotel.

“Henry’s loaded, what do you expect from a guy like that?” she said stepping into the elevator.

Crenshaw nodded and followed behind her with an awkward smile. A pang of jealousy surfaced at the ever-growing chasm that separated Henry and Crenshaw.

Crenshaw and Sarah knew Henry well, though. He used to be a regular part of their trio. The three amigos: Sarah, Henry, and Crenshaw… Would that he could turn back the hands of time to relive those simpler days.

However, it wasn’t just the financial differences that made Crenshaw jealous. Henry was classically handsome and effortlessly successful where Crenshaw had always felt more homely and average. He squashed the bitter sentiment down and focused on his fake smile as the elevator doors opened to a filled dance floor.

Henry spotted the two right away and approached, plucking two wine flutes from a waiter’s tray along the way.

“If it isn’t Crenny Crenshaw Hughes and Sarah the Care Bear. I have to say, you’re looking sharp my man, and Sarah, my goodness don’t you look stunning!”

“Always the flatterer,” Sarah said nudging Henry in the ribs with her elbow who played at actual injury.

Crenshaw rolled his eyes inadvertently and much to his chagrin, Henry noticed.

“Now, now, Crenny, don’t be the spoilsport. It’s New Year’s Eve! To old times…” Henry said proffering the drinks he had been holding.

“To old times,” Crenshaw said sincerely and tossed back the wine.

***

However, it didn’t take long for Crenshaw to isolate himself. He found a corner at the rear of the room and played his favorite game, people watching. Always feeling like the observer, never the participant. He watched and waited.

Sarah came dancing from the floor towards him gesturing for him to join her. It was then that Crenshaw had realized for the first time all evening how stunning Sarah looked that night.

Her dress was cream-colored with gold sequin swaths that traced along her curvature. An intricate floral lace started at her bustline and raised into a regal looking collar that rested against her neck.

Her reddish-brown curls stood out against the dress and her pale green eyes almost glowed in that dim ballroom light.

Crenshaw was nervous looking at her. He smiled from the table and tried to wave her away, but she approached him anyhow.

“Let’s dance!” she insisted.

Crenshaw laughed nervously, shaking his head no. “I’m waiting on Yara to show up, what will she think if she sees me dancing with you?”

Sarah frowned at this and her playful demeanor turned sour. “Fine, suit yourself then.”

Crenshaw realized too late the mistake he had made, and Sarah had already started back across the dance floor towards Henry who welcomed her eagerly.

Three additional wine flutes later and Crenshaw was feeling quite the fool. The party had begun to die down after the new year arrived, and he hadn’t seen Yara at all that night. Sarah was nestled up beside Henry and his entourage while Crenshaw sat alone drinking.

At some point, a waiter just left him a bottle of wine, so he polished that off and stumbled out of the party muttering Happy New Year to people he inevitably bumped into on his way to the elevator.

***

…and here he was, feeling downright sorry for himself in the cold night of New Year’s morning.

At some point, he had wandered into a nearby park and at its center, there was an empty fountain with a placard that simply read, “Dare to try again.”

Crenshaw fished in his pockets for change and produced a single oxidized penny that he didn’t recall having and flipped it into the fountain.

“I wish I wasn’t such a drat fool.”

When he walked away, the stone corner from a nearby building dislodged and fell from five stories square onto the top of Crenshaw’s head.

He staggered momentarily, putting a hand to the spot where he was struck and pulled back blood slicked fingers.

The world went black.

***

Sarah had text Crenshaw just after 5:00.

She knew how to pull his strings, but more importantly, she was still looking out for him after all these years.

Crenshaw on the other hand was not a particularly good friend, but Sarah’s stalwart dedication to him often left him feeling obligated to go along with whatever plots she had cooked up.

The text read, “Hey, Henry’s throwing a crazy New Year’s party tonight… and before you say no to play WoW or with yourself, I heard Yara’s going to be there.”

Instead of texting back, Crenshaw called Sarah and stumbled through the most awkward confessions of love he had ever managed.

“Sarah Downs, I am a total idiot. Would you… I mean… if you didn’t want to, I would understand… It’s just that you’ve always been there for me even though I don’t deserve it, and I just… for the first time in our lives, I’m realizing it.”

“Crenny Crenshaw Hughes… If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were trying to ask me out?”

Crenshaw let out an embarrassed snort.

“Yeah… kind of. Something clicked. I don’t know what, and I don’t know why I never noticed it before, but you amaze me.”

“Yes. I’ll go out with you. So… Henry’s party? We can make our official debut as a couple… not that I haven’t been ridiculed for chasing after you for years or anything.”

“What?”

“Nothing,” Sarah said with a laugh. “I’ll see you at 9.”

“See you at 9,” Crenshaw said smiling.

He couldn’t quite shake the feeling of déjà vu he experienced, but he knew he had done something right for a change.

Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021

Thanks for the crits.

In with a flash and hellrule please

Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021

Wrong thread, whoops

In and :toxx:

Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021

Waffle cone
893 Words

Yuliya switched off the loop-drive and the Towhee dropped from hyperspace.

***

The Towhee was a ramshackle, second-generation, passenger cruiser that had been poorly refitted with cargo scoops and gripper arms way back in the 3070s following the end of the Proxima Wars in the hopes of passing as a scrap hauler.

Unfortunately for Yuliya’s grandfather, he was but one of several hundreds of thousands who had the same idea.

In the end, he got into debt that he couldn’t pay off and was forced into contractual freight work until he died of old age, having never found anything of value.

However, the one thing Yuliya’s grandfather was able to pass down was his contractually obligated debt to Gorbunenko’s Interstellar Produce Farms.

***

The old ship groaned as space warped into fluid reality in front of it.

The loop-drive had been overheating ever since they did that delivery out in the Ophiuchus system, but getting repair requisitions was next to impossible.

“Does it fly? Can it safely enter and exit hyperspace?”

Standard, credit-pinching protocols from dispassionate company droids.

In any situation, Yuliya would have earned enough credits after this run to settle her grandfather’s debts once and for all.

***

Her father and mother were born into the greater Gorbunenko Industries, and they like Yuliya, were victims of her grandfather’s poorly calculated, but well-intentioned, investment plan.

Quantum desynchronization was listed as the cause of death on their death certificates.

An incident that unfortunately got covered by the catchall “Acts of God” clause regarding man-made interstellar travel.
It had become standard on insurance waivers after first-generation loop-drives that had been recycled for decades began to destabilize.

Just your run of the mill occupational hazard. Another day on the job. If temporal anomalies don’t erase all traces of your existence, good for you. A head pat and another hundred credits shaved off your interest compounded balance.

***

Elgor was ecstatic. It had been 1,641 days since they last docked at New Terra and Yuliya had promised the knuckle-walking sponge-man ice cream. Something she had most certainly forgotten about in the years that passed but Elgor was… well… a knuckle-walking sponge man, or at least it resembled a man most of the time.

It vaulted out of the engine room into the cargo bay on two porous columns and reoriented its features until it could almost pass as human.

The Suranilite were an advanced spacefaring species with a deep understanding of technology and machinery, but most human colonies treated the Suranilite people with wariness and in some cases disdain.

Brilliant enough to explore the stars, but just average enough to get roped into the bureaucratic, soul-crushing, machinations of industry.

None of this mattered to Elgor, of course. The job was just the job. An outlook that Yuliya coveted.

Elgor hooted at the sight of Yuliya and chanted “ice cream” under its breath as the two of them loaded up the hoversleds with New Terra’s order.

“1,641 days, me no forget.” Elgor said letting a too wide grin spread over its imitation of a face.

“I know, buddy. Ice cream… I promise.” Yuliya said smiling at the sponge-ape. “Once these deliveries are made, it’ll be our first stop.”

Elgor hooted gleefully and returned to packing the sleds, and as promised, once the deliveries were made, they were off to get ice cream.

***

There was a droid operated shop at the end of the boardwalk that served earth cuisine via the use of outdated protein-solution based replicators. Ultimately, those replicators were replaced almost universally as changes in the technology rendered ingredient-based production obsolete.

Obsolescence aside, the food from these replicators was actually food and not just the nutrient tonic that Gorbunenko supplied all its personnel with.

***

Elgor’s giddiness just may have begun to rub off on Yuliya, when they realized the shop was not there.

Elgor galloped on its trunk like limbs down the boardwalk to confirm again, that it was in fact gone, and not just moved.

Then the big creature slumped down onto the plated metal deck of the boardwalk.

“No ice cream?”

“I’m sorry, big guy, but it looks like they closed.”

“Ice cream?”

“Yeah, I don’t think so…”

“Ice cream!”

Yuliya sighed, “I’m sorry, but there’s nothing I can do this time. You can get an ice cream flavored ration from the replicator on the ship.”

“It no same. Me have tried. It no same.”

“You big oaf, don’t you get it? Finding a replicator like that was awesome, I’m not going to lie to you, but you’re not going to find another like it. You’d have a better chance getting ice cream on earth.”

Elgor contemplated this pushing its chin up with a trunk-limb like it had seen humans do in contemplation.

“Okay. Is settled. To earth for ice cream.”

“What? No… that’s not what I was say-“

Then it donned on Yuliya, that her grandfather’s contract should be paid in full. That there should even be a deficit of credits owed to Yuliya with delivery fulfilled.

She had earned her freedom. She had earned her family’s freedom. She had reclaimed her future for herself. She had served Gorbunenko Industries for her entire life and after 32 years she was free.

Yuliya laughed at the realization, and Elgor grinned.

“To earth for ice cream.” Elgor insisted.

“Sounds like a plan.” Yuliya agreed.

Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021

Thanks for crits, in and flash

Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021

Lab Rats
The sharks are gone. We miss them.
1,027 Words

Rebecca rubbed her temples as she pored over her notes for the thousandth time. The facts were unchanging. Globally, and without any indication as to why, the sharks vanished. Every breed of shark, in captivity or in the wild, simply disappeared.

While the internet became an embroiled battleground of conspiracy and layman speculation, it also collectively mourned the cultural loss. Gone were the days of shark week, jaws and the irrational fear of being eaten at the beach, but when the initial confused lamentations subsided, there were more serious repercussions to consider.

Reports of harmful algal blooms first surfaced in the Spring following the sharks’ disappearance. In the Fall, when the blooms had begun to saturate entire coasts and contaminate drinking water, we began to see the larger scope of what had happened and where we were headed.

Unfortunately, the damage had already been done. Those toxic blooms had disrupted the economy and were actively endangering the health of citizens the world over. The prevailing theory suggested that the blooms were indicative of an oceanic revolution, one where a natural timeline could be approximated, but best estimates still left us with about three decades of turbulent acclimation, followed by an unspecified number of years dealing with residual environmental fallout.

When the division of ocean sciences put out a request for proposals, the academic community went into an uproar. Thousands of submissions were received daily. As a result, Rebecca was awestruck when her proposal got selected.

“Doctor Barton, while unorthodox, your artificial apex predator program has drawn the interest of many investors with the resources to make it happen. It’s the course we’ve decided to take, and we would like to have you heading the project,” the disembodied voice said through the phone.

Rebecca eventually found the words hanging at the back of her throat and said, “when do we start?” A suit picked her up the next morning for a flight out to Seattle, Washington. She was then picked up by another inconspicuous suit and delivered to a nondescript warehouse in an industrial district in an outlying suburb.

What she found inside exceeded her expectations, even for an ocean saving effort. Scientists from around the world, many paired off with their own aids and interpreters, were working in labs that covered any number of specializations.

A woman in a badged lab-coat approached in a prim, no-nonsense, manner and extended a hand.

“Doctor Rebecca Barton, it is a pleasure to meet you in person. I’m Director Stevens and I’ll show you around the facilities and take you to your lab. I’ve also taken the liberty of assembling you a team of aids to assist you in your research.”

“Truly it’s an honor, I would have never imagined in a million years that my proposal would bear some weight.”

“Bear some weight is putting it lightly, Doctor Barton. We’ve already tailored an embryo based on the genetic blueprint you outlined in your proposal. It is masterful work that you’ve done.”

Rebecca was speechless. She looked at the director with giddy bewilderment and all professional decorum was dropped, “Can I see it?” she asked with a smile.

The director’s stiff expression turned to one of bemusement. “I figured that would excite you, and yes, absolutely you can.”

A short elevator ride led them to an equally busy floor in the warehouse facility, but the layout involved a lot more machinery. Bulky cables and cooling ducts cramped the overhead space, but they ultimately fed into a central array of thick glass tanks. Each was filled with different seawater that had been contaminated by harmful algal blooms. In the centermost tank, a semitranslucent clutch of eggs revealed tiny swirling lifeforms in the oblong, oddly angled, pouches.

“Incredible,” Rebecca said beaming.

“Truly,” the Director said stepping up beside her. “Finding that bones, fossils, and other DNA samples from sharks had also begun to disappear or, impossibly, became incomprehensible, we were forced to think outside the box.”

“How so?” Rebecca asked.

“DNA borrowed from close relatives like rays and other cartilaginous fish were used to fill in the gaps.”

“Incredible,” Rebecca said for a second time, but then she grew curious.

“If you were able to make this much headway from my proposal alone, why do you need me? Not to sound unappreciative, or like I don’t want to be here, this is unlike anything I’ve ever been a part of.”

“Well, we’ve run into a problem that I’m hoping you might have some fresh insight on.”

“What kind of problem?”

“Your idea wasn’t the only idea like this, you just had the best approach. However, one thing that has been consistent in our trial and error is atrophied development of the spinal and musculature systems of the embryos.”

“I see,” Rebecca said contemplatively.

“Well, there will be much more to see in the coming days and weeks. Welcome to your lab, I’m looking forward to working with you,” the director said extending her hand to shake a second time. Then the director waved over a younger man who had just been delivering some equipment to a nearby station.

“This is Li Xiangshou, he’s a molecular biologist from Michigan who has some interesting ideas about this problem. You two should get to know each other. I’ll be expecting a report by the end of the week.”

The director turned and marched away, clearly at her limit for congeniality, and left the overworked man to take over from there.

“You’ll have to forgive the director,” Li said with a smile, “she’s like that… but a lot is riding on this, and she’s genuinely invested in the outcome which is refreshing. My name is… ha, well I guess you already know that. I didn’t get yours?”

“Rebecca Barton, pleased to meet you, Li.” She said relieved to be around someone less formal than the director.

“The pleasure is all mine.” Li said proffering Rebecca a laminated ID card and lab coat.”

“I guess this makes me official,” Rebecca said turning over the ID in her hand.

“That it does. Ready to save the world?” Li said enthusiastically.

“It won’t save itself.” Rebecca quipped with equal enthusiasm.

Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021

Thanks for the crit!

Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021

In

Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021

:toxx: for hell

Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021

Curio Shop

Your characters are products on a shelf in a shop
Your story is a palindrome
100 Words


The door opens, and silently we come alive.
If only for a moment, old becomes new again.
The faded remnants of yesterday brighten.
All of us secondhand, but in good condition.
We want to be useful.
Perfect in package or salvageable,
We want to be needed.
Obscure or obsolete, it does not matter anymore.
We want to be needed.
Perfect in package or salvageable,
We want to be useful.
All of us secondhand, but in good condition.
The faded remnants of yesterday brighten.
If only for a moment, old becomes new again.
The door opens, and silently we come alive.

Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021

In

Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021


Can I :toxx:

Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AIpRdbi9pYw
hellrule: oooooooooooo baby, have i got some sweetness for you. one of your people fuckin crushed it at the gig last night. its the next morning and theyre unable to speak because they blew out their voice last night. or something. who knows. one of your people is for sure, mute though.


Hero of the Horde
500 Words
Klilb was honored to dine with the chieftain, but he hadn’t expected to be doing lines of worm ginger all night. Between that and the troll wine, he had nearly eaten his last grub. Such was the life of an up and coming rock star, stone diviner to the beastkin and ogre-blooded alike. A human-legged goat child knelt beside Klilb, bleating harsh Goblish at the intoxicated goblin. Klilb opened one grime-encrusted eyelid, and lazily shooed the child away with the flick of his wrist.

The child continued bleating. Klilb pouted and moved to curse the child for disturbing his sleep, but a pitiful whistle escaped the goblin’s hoarse throat. The child stopped bleating and raised an eyebrow. Klilb tried again, no luck. The goat’s Goblish eventually registered as “Broodmother, broodmother waiting,” and a sinking feeling welled up in Klilb’s gut. He scrambled to get his charms and clothes together. He hadn’t had an incident since he performed battle-rites for the Ixylgrag orcs, and he promised Hanka there wouldn’t be any others, but here he was devastated, as if by a witch’s curse.

The tent flap flew open just as Klilb affixed his garb. ‘Mudqueen,’ he tried to say affectionately. A tiny screech escaped his mouth. “Look at ye, a sodden fool. Back to the skins and salts after ye promised to walk the straight and narrow. A full moon gone by, and here I am, wondering where me broodmate runoff, to find ye a bloodshot mess,” Hanka said.

Klilb’s brow furrowed and the corners of his eyes turned downward. His amiable grin turned pleading as he tried, futilely, to explain himself. Raspy gasps and whistles were all he could manage to produce. Hanka shook her head left to right and pointed a bulbous finger at Klilb, “I don’t want to hear it. Not this time. You said things would be different. That this was just your job, not you.

Klilb waved to sacks of gems, grains, and cured meats. He gestured to fine daggers and swords more than twice his size. Things he had earned. He wanted to be proud about what he had to offer but found that he could not. He knew that none of this mattered to Hanka. She wanted him. Not the forest celebrity he pretended to be.

“Urk has agreed to help me with our brood, you can live the life you want to live,” Hanka said, the pain in her voice barely masked. She turned and pushed out of the tent, Klilb followed after. He grabbed her by the wrist. She pulled free from his grip and pushed him firmly in the chest sending him onto his butt. Nearby beastkin pretended not to look.

“Don’t you dare grab me! I’m tired of pulling you out of tents, huts and ravines. I won’t do it anymore. Goodbye, Klilb.”

Klilb watched Hanka walk away. He started after her but stopped soon after. Even if he had his voice, there wouldn’t be anything more he could say.

Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021

Thanks for the crits!

Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021

Pththya-lyi posted:

Thanks for judging fast and judging good, all!

E: Interprompt Write ad copy for a fictional product. 100 words

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When that naysaying inner voice comes around, tell it shut the gently caress up!

This power can be yours today for 3 easy payments of 9.99, no cash on delivery.

But wait... there's more!

If you order now, we'll throw in self-validation!

Do you look towards your peers for affirmation of your existence? No more, affirm yourself!

It can all be yours for 3 easy payments of 9.99.

Call 555-555-5555. Begin anew today!

Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021

In with Raji Land, Home of a Million Sleepers

:toxx: can I get an extra rule

Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021

The End of the Dream
over word count late unedited garbage
Raji land energized by hatred


I had spent my life farming gourd-wine like my father and his father before him. That didn’t change after I had met Teeku. Teeku was worldly, I guess it comes naturally being able to soar through the skies, and I was afraid my simple country lifestyle wouldn’t be enough to hold his interest. I’m glad I was wrong. I tended our vineyard during the day, while he worked for a tech company in the city. Not my cup of tea, but we found enough common ground.

I was headed back from the fields early that day. I had went down to the river and snared some fish for a stew since I had given up hunting as a promise to Teeku. If I stalk the jungles for a flank of wild deer it’s cruel, but if I bring back a basket of gape-mouthed fish, no harm done. A decent enough compromise for peace of mind. That man means the world to me and – I can smell something is off before I can see our home. A few meters further and I can see smoke breaking the tree line. There’s also the coppery scent of blood weighing heavy on the air. I drop the fish and instinctively drop to all four, galloping over branches and through dense thickets of overgrown foliage until the house comes into view.

There’s a well-dressed tiger with blood soaked into the fur around his mouth. Gore and feathers clung to his claws. Teeku laid at his feet a mangled mess of broken limbs. Blood pooled around him slowly. The tiger sees me and shoots me a wicked grin. I’m already charging at him. I snatch a wood axe free from a fence post and I have it hefted over my head to bury in that stupid fuckers crown.
I don’t see his henchman, a rhino-mutate clad in a black suit, burst from the brush. He gores my side with his horn and I go flying into my burning house and crash into a support beam that cracks from all six hundred pounds of me slamming into it. He crushed my rib, punctured a lung maybe. I get up to move, not retaliate, just move. I’m too disoriented to do even that and another blow comes from the front as the rhino charges through the doorway shouldering me through the post and to the side as crashes out the rear wall. The flaming roof groans above me as flames dance on the ceiling.

A bushy-bearded chimp in an identical black suit tossed Teeku’s ruined body into the flames and he lands near me looking up at me over his beak with dull eyes. A section of the roof collapses to the right of us and I’m knocked backwards onto the ground. I crawl towards the door and the well-dressed tiger stepped into view.

“I’m sure you have questions, but I’m afraid I have no satisfactory answers. Your companion has betrayed me, and that required certain… unpleasantries,” he says as he wipes away the remaining gore and blood from his person with a handkerchief that he tosses into the flames. “This was nothing personal.”

He leaned in and we examined one another. His stripes were patterned on his fur like mine and I felt as if I had known him at some point. I could see it in his eyes some recognition, but more disdain. Whatever business he had with Teeku, that was business. When he looked at me and saw the hatred in my eyes, that was personal. That was when we understood one another. The door frame collapsed leaving me to burn in the ruins of the house. They left me for dead, but my rage sustained me. Through the rolling flames dancing along the collapsed logs, even as my flesh and fur were being singed from my body.

It took about a year to regain my strength, but I went to Tigris as soon as I was able. I spent the next two years watching and learning. It turned out that Teeku was trying to blow the whistle on an illegal dream-milling operation. Dream recording and the distribution of recorded dreams in itself wasn’t illegal. It’s how Raji-land got its reputation for being the land of a million sleepers. While these role-fulfillment fantasies were the chief export of Raji-land, no one really cared to think about how these experiences were harvested. That’s where the illegal side of things came into play. Wealthy tourists and elite roamed the streets in guarded palanquins, while near naked children starved in the gutters. Fuel for the dream. Those that didn’t die would eventually get picked up with the promise of a hot meal and a warm bed. What they don’t tell them when they do, is that that they’ll be intubated and drugged, made to sleep for the rest of their short lives, having their dreams recorded and sold, while they withered and die. The old, sick and homeless as well.

It is true that some thought it preferable, even with the knowledge of the fate that awaited them, and knowing that I plan to go willingly almost makes it sound desirable, but I can’t rest yet. I won’t be able to rest until I’ve looked him in his eyes again and sunk my claws or fangs into his throat. Even if its with my dying breaths, until I’ve killed that man I won’t have peace. But if this plan is to work, I’ll need milkroot to restore wakefulness once the dream begins. A clinic near the slums is a front for one of the larger mills. I take a large dose of the milkroot and walk right in.

A kindly looking rat asks me why I’ve come to the clinic. “I tell her I’m tired of living in this world and I just want to sleep.” She smiles an understanding smile, and pushes counseling paperwork over the cabinet towards me. I push it back and lean in conspiratorially, “I need to sleep.” She nods and types something into her computer.

“Have a seat and someone will be right with you.” She says.

Two bearded chimps come and escort me from the lobby to a gurney where they sedate me. By the time I count to twenty, I’m out.
Sleep comes easily, and the milkroot kicks in not long after. My eyes peel open slowly, but I can’t control my body. The sedative hasn’t been completely counteracted. I’m moved into a vehicle, and we ride to a large factory on the outskirts of town. I doze off as the sedative rushes over me in another wave. I sleep, but thankfully, I don’t dream.

When I wake again, I immediately know I’m going to lose it. I feel my muscles spasm and my skin tingle. I register a network of tubes running into my snout and throat, and I can’t help bug gag. I fight against the tubes for a moment and begin to cough loud enough to draw attention. All around me are other dreamers on cold slabs like bodies in a morgue.

The two bearded chimps that wheeled me from the clinic see me and begin to panic. “Oh gently caress, we’ve got a sleepwalker. Grab more sedative will you.” the chimp closest to me says when the other points a finger at me, but it’s too late. I pull the first chimps head back and slam it hard against the ledge of the steel bed. He goes out like a light and I bound across the room at the other who backs against the door trying to let himself out. I’m on him when he slams a syringe into my shoulder and slinks away from me grabbing a scalpel off a medical tray. More sedative is coursing into my body, but not much more thankfully. The plunger was only a quarter of the way down, but it doesn’t take long for me to feel the effects.

My vision is blurry, and the chimp takes that as his opportunity to attack. I slam him by his throat against the wall. The scalpel bites into the flesh of my arm but doesn’t cut anything important. I yank it out and smear the blood on the chimps face with my free hand.
“Oh god, don’t kill me. Please don’t kill me.”
“If I wanted you dead, you’d be dead. Where’s the Dream Broker?”

“He’s got an office on the top floor, but you’ll never get to him alive. Not with his guards. You’re going to get yourself killed.”

“Good.”

I snatch his credentials and slam his head onto the ground. He falls unconscious and I quickly fill up two more of those sedative syringes. The alarm gets raised, and I’ve got no time to waste. I take the stairs all the way up until I can see the exit light for the roof above me.

I exit out into a long corridor where I’m immediately spotted by a patrolling rat guard. I put up my hands to show I have no weapon, then I slide the syringe out from my pocket just as he gets close. I slam it into his neck and use his body like a ram towards the end of the hall where other guards are now waiting.

I don’t stop, they have guns drawn, but I’m running with one of their own and they’re reluctant to shoot. I drop the body and lock the door behind me. The guards are beating on the door, but the Broker is just rolling up his sleeves and taking off his jewelry.
He’s smiling at me. “I recognize you… You’ve got a lot more scars and burn wounds than I remember, but that look in your eyes. Yes… I remember you well.”

I extend my claws and bare my fangs, and leap. His arms go wide, claws extended and fangs bared, to receive me. He sweeps upward in a powerful motion that shreds my shirt and just barely grazes my skin. I reach for the other syringe and I try to slam it into his thigh. He grabs my wrist and snaps at my throat with his fangs.

I manage to kick him off me, but he lands on all fours and sprints from side to side, leaping off his desk on top of me. We lock arms and roll through the office, when the doors finally burst open. He’s reaching on his desk for something, as I struggle with the syringe still clamped in my right hand that’s being held down. He raises a stone paper weight above his head and is about to crash it down onto my skull, when I manage to free my arm long enough to slide it between our bodies. As he cranes his head down to look at me, hand bringing a life ending bludgeon towards my face, I extend my arm forward stiffly, syringe pointed into the air and jab it into his eye. He rakes my faces with his hand as he drops the rock and kicks at me as we scramble away from one another.

The guards watch momentarily, and the broker has to get in a last line. “You thought you would win, you idiot. You thought something good would come of this?”

I grimace in response.

As he pivots his back to the window, signaling for a guard to kill me, I put my remaining bit of strength and animosity into a flying tackle, and we both go hurtling out the window from about nine stories up – high enough. I look up at the sun, and feel the wind on my back, and am reminded of the one awkward flight Teeku took me on, and I smile for the last time.

Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021

Baneling Butts posted:

Nailed the word count with a topic near and dear to my heart!

FOR THE LAST loving TIME, A HOTDOG IS NOT A SANDWICH. ONLY DUMB rear end BUFFOONS LIKE YOU, RAISED ON MEMES AND DOUBLE DOWNS, COULD POSSIBLY BELIEVE SUCH A THING. YOUR GENERATION COULD BE SOLVING CLIMATE CHANGE OR CANCER, BUT INSTEAD YOU TERMINALLY ONLINE MORONS FOCUS ON THIS poo poo. OKAY. LET ME LAY IT OUT TO YOU IN THREE EASY STEPS, IF YOUR STUNTED MILLENNIAL ATTENTION SPAN MAKES IT THAT FAR. STOP ME IF I USE ANY BIG WORDS YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND, LIKE UNEQUIVOCAL OR FRANKFURTER.

ONE: HOTDOGS ARE ROUND. I KNOW YOUR DICK COMPARES UNFAVORABLY TO THE AVERAGE BALLPARK DOG, BUT AT LEAST IT ISN'T FLAT OR SHREDDED LIKE PROPER SANDWICH MEAT. (I ASSUME; IF IT IS, CONDOLENCES.) DON'T TALK TO ME ABOUT MEATBALLS, THOSE ARE OBVIOUSLY DIFFERENT YOU FUCKWIT.

TWO: HOTDOGS ARE VERTICAL. FOR THOSE OF YOU THAT HAD TO REPEAT THIRD GRADE, THAT MEANS THE EDGES OF THE BUN GO UP AND DOWN NOT SIDE TO SIDE. I DON'T GIVE A gently caress ABOUT FROOFY SANDWICHES SERVED UPRIGHT AT PRETENTIOUS CAFES, IT'S ABOUT HOW IT'S EATEN. WHO TURNS THEIR HOTDOGS SIDEWAYS TO EAT THEM? PSYCHOPATHS, THAT'S WHO. SAME WITH TACOS, YOU GOT TO MOVE YOUR STUPID PIEHOLE TO EAT IT SO YOU DON'T GET MUSTARD ALL OVER YOUR CROTCH.

THREE: SETTING, MOTHERFUCKER. YOU EVER HAD A SANDWICH AT A BARBECUE? AT A STADIUM? AND NO, THE PB&J YOUR MOM PACKED FOR YOUR PICKY rear end DOESN'T COUNT. SANDWICHES ARE FOR EATING WHILE WEEPING ON YOUR KEYBOARD IN YOUR BORING rear end CUBICLE. HOTDOGS ARE MEANT TO BE EATEN IN HOLY COMMUNION WITH OTHER RED-BLOODED AMERICANS. AND YOU BETTER BE EATING THAT poo poo OUTSIDE AS GOD AND OSCAR MEYER INTENDED.

IN CONCLUSION, gently caress YOU. I REST MY CASE.

Picturing a person eating a hot dog like a corn on the cob has me in tears.

Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021

In edit: wikihow please

Idle Amalgam fucked around with this message at 17:01 on Mar 8, 2021

Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021

In with a flash rule, please

:toxx:

Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021

Roll to Save Against Personal Growth
Your dragon is a master of a human trade or craft, and practices it for the joy of it, although it requires an appropriate price for its services.
1,134 Words


King Lygas, having hammered his last piton, gazed at the slow falling snow as he rose to the peak. His perfect hair fell to his shoulders like waterfalls as he cast his helmet into the soft powder at his feet. The king reached for his greatsword and plunged it into the mountain as his entourage which, had climbed not too far behind him, announced his arrival with a fanfare of trumpets. A squire rushed the king a hollowed-out horn, and King Lygas said, “Belphod Irontooth, it is I, King Lygas, here upon the appointed hour when the suns and winds bless the sacred groves of Arcadia. I am late, but I have arrived!”

“See? This is exactly what I’m talking about! Me and his children, let the mages teleport us here so we could arrive on time. Lygas always has to do things the hard way. ‘I can climb it, just watch. No need to use magic, it’s a waste of good sorcery.’ Well, have a look here, late and with a retinue of nearly a hundred men.” Queen Illdryth said as she shook her head and rolled her eyes at her husband.

Belphod’s scaly lips bent upwards until his reptilian visage could pass for pleasant, or at the very least, unintimidating. “King Lygas, glad you could make it. Come and get seated. While we waited, Queen Illdryth was telling me about how you’ve been showing little Axallius techniques with the sword.”

Lygas glared at Illdryth reprovingly. She returned his gaze with a derisive snort and turned her nose up at him. “This. Again?” Lygas asked looking at Belphod while speaking to Illdryth. “Yes. This. Again. And for the record, it was never over to begin with!” Illdryth shouted. “He’s eight Illdryth!, And eight is the age of a boy who’s nearly a man grown. When I was his age, I was scaling the ramparts of my father’s war camps and studying field tactics with the battle ministers. At nine, I had killed a man.” Lygas said smugly.

“Oh, and what about Gaoren?” Illdryth said, pointing to Lygas’s first-born son who was smoking dryad’s herb and tuning a lute on a nearby boulder. Lygas ran a hand over his face and started to explain how it was different, when Belphod interrupted with a plume of smoke from his snout.

“Now, now. Things are getting heated, and we’ll have a time to air out these grievances, but for now. I’d actually like to hear from Axallius about how he feels. Go on, Axallius. Tell us how you feel.” The boy answered bashfully, “Well, I do like the sword, but I’ve seen how father gets about swords and battle. I’d be lying if I said I had the same passion he does for it.” Lygas wanted to respond, but Belphod flapped his wings gently to signal silence.

“Good. There’s a compromise here and we’ll work on that. Now, Lygas, I have asked you before that you join your family in your arrival, and that you not bring soldiers or scribes, to these private meetings.” Belphod said prompting Lygas to sigh. He was displeased with how this session had turned out, and after he dismissed his soldiers, he crossed his arms to pout.

“Now that this has been settled, I’d really like to talk about what’s going on with Gaoren.” Belphod said, before waving the youth from his perch. “Would you mind joining us over here?” Gaoren slung his lute onto his back and walked in front of his family and sat on the couch. “You’ll have to excuse me if I’m not exactly enthusiastic about being here oh, great, ancient, Dragon.” Gaoren said. “Belphod is fine, and is there any particular reason why?”
“Well, let’s not mince words about it… My father only has me here in the hopes that you’ll accept me as payment for our repeated sessions instead of asking for half the livestock the land can spare in any given year.”

Belphod gave a genuinely startled look at Lygas who shifted his eyes conspicuously. “Seriously?” Belphod asked. “What? Everyone knows dragon’s terrorize villages for their first-borns and gold… you never know.” Lygas answered. “That’s specist, sir.” Belphod replied curtly. “Ah, sorry, I didn’t – “ stammered Lygas. “We’ll work on it.” Belphod interrupted putting a pin on the subject before massaging his brow briefly. “I don’t think I should have to point out how unhealthy that dynamic between you and Gaoren is, but I will, and not because I’m the least bit upset about you calling me a first-born eater. You can’t just give your children off to be eaten without a second thought.” Belphod said.

“That’s what I’ve been trying to say!” Illdryth said leering at King Lygas. “Alright, I don’t need this.” Lygas said tossing his hands into the air. He stood and marched towards his plunged sword and wrestled to free it from the mountain in his anger. “You’re free to go Lygas, but you’ve got another fifteen minutes in the session that we could spend talking about this reactionary anger you’re dealing with.” Belphod said trying to goad a reaction out of the king. Lygas hearing the jab in the dragon's words let his attitude flare. “Hard pass, dragon. I’ve no cattle for you either because you’re not very much help. Wisest council in all the kingdom? Nonsense! I’ve had wiser council from my chamber pot droppings. I bid you good day.” The king said. The Queen raised her eyebrows at Belphod and the corner of her mouth turned upward into a half-grin as she shrugged.

“You know, Lygas, I think I could make an exception for you.” Belphod said. The king who was about to start climbing back down the mountain turned and faced the dragon incredulously. “Oh, an exception? For what? Your advice isn’t wanted.” Belphod chuckled. “No, no more advice. I’m talking about your balance due.” Lygas cocked his head amused, "this will be rich." Belphod nodded and began to speak, "Oh, it most certainly will be rich. While I’ve never known a single dragon in all my centuries, to take a first-born son of man, I’d be happy to oblige you this once.”

“Oh, really? Fantastic! Finally, can put that good for nothing son of mine to use. Gaoren, I wish I could say it’s been a pleasure, but you know how these things go.” Lygas said turning his back on his family.
Belphod snorted bemused laughter. “Not Gaoren, Lygas. He’s not the only first-born son here, and his meat is far tender and bitter for my tastes,” Belphod said clearing the distance between him and the king with a powerful thrust of his wings.
“Spoiled meat tastes sweeter,” Belphod said as he cooked the king in a conflagration of flame before swallowing down the remains.

Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021

In :toxx:

Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021

In

Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021

Tides of Change
2,744 Words

Adventure Overview:
Sailing west past the drowned cities and beyond the Confederated Isles of New Cascadia, a massive domed tower threatens the sky. It is a submersible living habitat that was part of a failed program meant to adapt humanity for marine life. The mad geneticist who led that program devised a mutagenic serum that turned the inhabitants of the tower into fish mutants, sahuagin. After countless decades, it has emerged from the sea.

The tower looms over the coastal region ominously. Verdigris lines run over the blackened, barnacle-covered steel, like veins laying across a necrotic arm. Porthole windows decorate the lower rungs of the building, one every 10 feet or so, but they are so thickly covered in sludgy grime, that the interior cannot be discerned.

Higher up on the tower, sections protrude into nodule-like rooms but like the smaller porthole windows below, the visibility into these areas is completely marred by decades of biofouling. Higher still, the tower thins around a central column until it reaches an expansive dome at its top.

At night, villages on nearby islands see muted flashes of light from the dome, and sailors tell tales of fantastic creatures skulking the waters near the tower. While most sailors give the tower a wide berth, there is a smattering of abandoned rafts, dinghies and small ships that bob and drift along the exterior of the tower.

A group of unscrupulous adventurers has arrived before the party with a lust for treasure and rare relics, but instead have accidentally exposed themselves to the mutagenic compound and have gone mad as they transform into pelagic monstrosities.

Hooks:
  • Treasure: The tower itself was designed to be a living environment for a collective of scientists. There are trinkets, baubles and old-world antiques worth something to someone. More importantly, there are salvageable stores of non-perishable goods and unexpired food. Islanders and sailors won’t know this, but they’ll speculate it.
  • Finding Someone: A contact, a friend, or the loved one of a villager has gone missing. The party is enlisted to try and find them or at least any indication of what happened to them.
  • Infection: A ship of sailors contracted to explore the tower returns to town, but the sole survivor is insane and half-transformed into a fish mutant. Although contained, the sailor infected someone important, and now it’s a race against time to try and find an antidote within the tower in exchange for some reward.

Treasure:
  • Area - Treasure
  • Ships outside the tower - various supplies for sailing and survival are still aboard the ships should the players take the time to board and ransack the ships. (A month’s supply of food and equipment)
  • Tower Lobby - A painting of the geneticist, a hand-crank flashlight that can be set to a blinding strobe mode, Various tools: Crowbars, screw drivers, etc.
  • Tower Storage - Crates containing about half a year’s supply of food and materials to maintain the tower. A suitable handle for usage in the lobby can be found here. The players should have a very small chance of getting infected 10 minutes they spend actively searching through the crates.
  • Tower Maintenance Access - 2 diving suits with replenishable rebreathers.
  • Tower Living Area 1 - A thermoelectric, water-resistant, smartwatch/PDA that has developed a sassy personality, various trades goods (textiles, books, photos and small memorabilia), a single pink capsule in a corroded tin labeled “experimental” - The capsule allows the user to see in the dark, but they will also produce glowing vomit when the effects where off the next day.
  • Tower Living Area 2 - A 3d-printed holographic greeting cube: projects life-sized 30 second recordings of a person or area, more various trades goods, a painting.
  • The Labs - 5 of 6 doses of antidote to the mutagenic serum, hundreds of doses of the serum itself, solar-powered data slate detailing the location of an underwater city and the excommunication of the mad geneticist.

Random Happenings:
1-in-6, roll d12
  1. The unscrupulous adventuring party has broken something integral to the tower's function and a small explosion on a level the players are not on can be heard. A fire has broken out on that level.
  2. A member of the unscrupulous adventuring party has been separated from their allies. Infected and panicking, they come across the players demanding help. The man transforms into a fledgling sahuagin in front of them and will attack them. Has a 20% chance of infecting the players each successful attack. (If the players have antidotes from the labs, they can offer the man a dose to prevent the transformation).
  3. 2 scared sahuagin will spill into the hall, or an area adjacent to the players. The abomination pins 1 and begins devouring it, while the other escapes into a crawlspace. The party should make some type of attempt to escape silently, or be put into life threatening action.
  4. Two members from the unscrupulous adventuring party crash into the players in a terrified haste. 2 of their former companions, now sahuagin monsters, follow in quick pursuit. The surviving members look to the players for help, but won’t stay to fight if it is given. If the players rebuke the fleeing sailors, the sahuagin set upon the sailors giving the players time to escape.
  5. A strange pustule bursts nearby filling the area with spores. Players should save against poison. The air clears rapidly.
  6. The tower’s engines come online, probably from finagling by the counter-party, and a P.A. system rings out through the tower and surrounding area, ‘SUBMERSION SYSTEMS ACTIVE’. If the players have been in the tower for a period of longer than 3 hours, it will start diving procedures.
  7. An autonomous cleaning droid activates and begins trying to sanitize the tower. It will spray disinfectant on the players and pummel them with a duster before continuing to other areas. It’s programming isn’t the best.
  8. Shouting and the sounds of combat start off somewhere nearby, if the players seek it out, they’ll find a dead sailor and sahuagin by the time they find it, but no survivors.
  9. Corpse of a random local is stumbled upon. If taken to the nearest village, the corpse will be identified and given proper burial. The players will be rewarded.
  10. Players come across the gory remains of a devastated creature. Hard to tell what it was from the mess, but a hand is clasped around an empty vial with a green residue in it.
  11. Rooms begin to physically reorient themselves in preparation of diving. Like nodes on a fixed circuit, the rooms slowly begin to shift their position along the tower. The whole building shifts like this, sending the players prone, and their belongings scattered, if unable to keep their footing while the building moves.
  12. The power to the entire facility shuts off momentarily pitching the party into more darkness than they’re already in. Power returns, but the lights stay off for an hour.

Creature/NPC Descriptions:
  • Sahuagin mutates - Squamous skin glistens in the light, fused to incompletely transformed human flesh. With as few as 3 and as many as 8 limbs, each sahaguin behaves and moves about with varying mobility and gait. They each have distended ichthyic heads of differing oblong proportions. Glassy eyed and needle-toothed, they look at you hungrily, webbed-hands and feet at the ready. They are unarmed and unarmored except for the tattered vestiges of clothing clinging to their now alien frames. (Each successful attack has 20% chance of infecting the player).
  • The abomination - Jaundiced human eyes bulge from the sides of a wide, cartilaginous head. Rows of serrated teeth fill a hanging jaw, and suckered tentacles as well as scaly arms protrude from the abomination’s side giving it an adaptive mobility on land or in water. Although a slave to the animalistic urges of his own machinations, the abomination occasionally seems to break down with unbelieving, human remorse and grief, most often while feeding. It will stop and let loose a terrible, ear-piercing sob or shriek, before descending into a blind primal rage. (Each successful attack has a 33% chance of infecting the player, but may also kill them outright).
  • The eggs in storage & maintenance - These dog-sized eggs are the descendants of the original mutates. The young sahuagin that have hatched from them are more docile than their maddened counterparts and are afraid of their wild counterparts above. They cannot speak any comprehensible human language, and retreat over engaging. The players can show these younglings and their egg-bound kindred kindness by leaving them alone, or even going as far to release them into the wild through a maintenance access that leads into the water outside the tower, but if they players begin to attack, the cries will draw the attention of the mutates who come to defend the younglings. (A youngling’s attack won’t even risk infecting the player)

The Infection Mechanic
Less a mechanic and ever present threat, when the players are mucking about in brackish water, goop, remains, or anything ichthyic in nature, they should have a 10% chance of getting infected for every 10 minutes they spend mucking about in a gross environ.

Once infected, the player’s character begins to feel weak over a period of time. After an hour the first scales appear. After two hours, physiological changes to their body maybe irreversible, after 3 hours, they've become a sahuagin.

Area Descriptions:
  1. Walkway: A sensor-based servomotor system guides a section of partitioned steel that extends from the tower to allow entry.The walkway leads to an arched alcove about 15 feet high, in the recession is a closed double door that fits the arch, and adjacent the doors is a hatch-wheel.

    The wheel is of sturdy construction, and clearly attached to the opening of the door. The wheel turns effortlessly, and if this surprises anyone, they notice flakes of rust and other debris at the bottom of the recession from recent use. Trying to pry the doors open by any other means that could be considered conventional is futile

  2. Lobby: Damp with exits heading to areas 1,3,4, and 5. The air that escapes the lobby upon entrance is heavy with the scent of decay. Dim-yellowing lights activate behind rusted gates illuminating pools of brackish water on a mostly peeled, vinyl floor. A faded portrait of a stern, bespectacled man gazes down on the players, and the doors to area 1 slam shut behind them. An open hatch at the rear of the room extends below into area 3. An open door to the left leads into area 4 and an elevator leads to area 5. Searching reveals the hand-crank flashlight with strobe setting.

    If the players used simple tools to try and keep the door open before entering, they are given a warning as those tools begin to succumb to the pressure of the sealing door and can choose to leave before they are trapped inside. Otherwise, if they used fantastic tools to keep the doors open, whatever mechanism they employ would need to be able to withstand about 6,000 PSI. The doors will not shut while they are in the alcove/entrance, but as soon as they enter, it begins to shut. If the fantastic tool succeeds in keeping the door open, the mechanism of closing/opening the door will break altogether and permanently remain open. If they manage to break the door, it doesn’t take long for a group of sahuagin to pursue them. If they did not break the door and it was sealed behind them, an inspection of the interior alcove reveals a hexagonal peg sticking from the wall where another hatch-wheel should be. If they can find a suitable replacement, they can reopen the door.

  3. Storage: The hatch leading below at the rear of the room is flung open. It does not have a suitable replacement for the main entrance, and the only light visible below spills in from the lobby above. It’s about 30 feet below the lobby level and although completely dark, players are able to quickly surmise that the waterlogged room is a storage room. In exploring the room, players can hear the sounds of large machinery in the walls, and the floor trembles slightly from its incessant operation. A full exploration of the area reveals a clutch of dog-sized eggs. Several are empty, several more writhe. Poking through crates should reveal a cache of trade goods as well as a suitable replacement wheel for the main entrance. There is an access stairwell that leads to area 4 and 5. There is also another hatch that leads to area 3a.
    [list=1]
  4. The secondary hatch takes players to a level beneath the storage where an abundance of young, scared, naturally born sahuagin descendants cower. They have taken up near the warmth of the engines and machinery. They are not hostile, and act favorably to kindness even though they cannot communicate. (should the players have a wacky way of communicating, they’d learn these things are the child equivalent of the sahuagin counterparts if they couldn’t infer that already) - there is a pressurized maintenance access that leads into the waters from here that can be used as a means of escape, but it requires a 40 foot swim to the surface.

  5. Outer-lobby ring: Contains a brief history of the tower and the scope of its original project. Revealed through faded depictions and placards, the players learn that the building is called the Abyssal Ark and that it is/was a project to forcibly adapt humanity to marine living. A stairwell here leads to areas 3 and 5.

  6. Living Area 1: The first floor of the living quarters. The grime encrusted protrusions visible from the exterior are these capsule rooms replete with a sleeping cot, personal storage and desk. Searching reveals the thermoelectric smart watch and strange pink pill. Stairs lead up to 6 living area 2 and back down to 4 outer-lobby, and 3 storage

  7. Living Area 2: Identical in function and design to living area 1, but searching here will reveal a hologram projecting greeting cube. Stairs here lead back down to living area 1 and down to the storage if need be. A second elevator is on this floor heading the remainder of the way to area 7, the domed laboratory at the top. A second emergency staircase is adjacent that taking the players up the other 170 feet to the tower top.

  8. The laboratory - The domed top of the tower stands about 200 feet above the surface of the water. There are quartered off sections designating different scopes of research and work, but a centrifuge at the center of the lab contains several vials with viscous purple liquid, as well as a marked antidote case that has five of six doses with a green liquid inside them.. Searching through notes, players can identify that those vials contain the mutagenic serum responsible for turning people into sahuagin. The notes also reveal that the abomination is none other than the geneticist in the portrait in the lobby, if they’ve seen and escaped it. If they haven’t seen or escaped the abomination yet, it makes its debut as muffled screaming sounds out from the elevator. As it dings open, the abomination should shamble out, devouring the head and flesh between a sailors shoulders before tossing the body at the floor, having found new prey - the players. (If they’ve already encountered the abomination, or if they’re actively staying vigilant, you can have them instead hide/forego this encounter entirely). If the players search each of the lab areas, they’ll find a suitable hatch-wheel to let them out the main entrance.
Re-cap:
  • 1 visible entrance and exit. Requires a working hatch-wheel to get back out. There are two in the tower. One in the crates in storage, and another in the lab.
  • 1 hidden exit in room 3a with the young sahuagin.
  • There were 4-6 other sailors walking about the place in search of loot, they’ve been split up and most have died horribly or will die horribly. If the players encounter the man who has yet to transform and have an antidote to give him, he’ll regain consciousness after a few rounds and will act as a retainer for the players with incredibly low-morale, but also realizes he is stuck with them.
  • Fill the place with as few or as many fish monsters as you want.
  • Have the abomination be something to hide from, but if the players are up to a challenge they can take it on.

Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021

In

Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021

Life Under the Lone Star
898 Words

While the talk of civil war and secession was on the minds of most Texans in the fall of 1863, Pinetop county was beset with raids from the Comanche natives who had been fighting a protracted and bitter war for the last vestiges of uncolonized land that they had all their lives known as home. Gerald was eight when his father died. On his bed, sweat-slicked from fever while bone-chilling snow pitilessly drifted from the sky, Thomas stared at his son Gerald with unblinking, remorseful eyes. The stub of an arrow shaft protruded from his chest. The blood around it had coagulated into a blackened seal that drained the color from the surrounding flesh. Having overheard the doctor tell his mother that there was nothing to do but ease his father’s pain, Gerald met his father’s eyes, and they stared at one another in inscrutable, understanding, silence.

***

In the decade that followed, the raids quietly ceased as resistance crumbled under the implacable advance of colonization. In time, the way of life in the small community began to return to despite the economic hardship reconstruction brought to the area overall. Pinetop was a town of European immigrants who had gracefully adapted to frontier ranch life. Gerald had assumed his role as man of the house without complaint, but the stress of it did seem to take its toll on the boy, growing him up faster and quicker than he or his mother would have liked. However, his coolheaded temperament and matter-of-fact plainness generally led to him being looked upon favorably by the eligible women of the town who had wondered why he already hadn’t taken up a wife. He was nearly twenty, and responsible for the management of one of the larger farms in the town. Minna, the doctor’s daughter, had her heart set on the singly focused youth, and took it upon herself to make her presence regular in his life. Her perseverance paid off, and in the Spring of 1879, Gerald and Minna were married.

***

Gerald being an only son, he had never thought about having a large family or one at all, for that matter, but by 1890 he and Minna had produced a small clan. Thomas, named after Gerald’s father, was the oldest and was quiet and contemplative like his father before him. Next were the twins, Margaret, and Rolf. Margaret was an inquisitive youth, but with a tempestuous personality that often was tempered by the wisdom of her stoically tame twin brother Rolf, who was never to far from his sister. Daniel was a sweet boy, but consumption saw that he wouldn’t make it past three and the loss of the child left a wound in the family that scarred but never healed. Still, Anne and Peter followed in the two years after Daniel’s passing, and the family was closer than ever with all six-children being cherished deeply by the Gerald and Minna.

***

The relative quiet that followed reconstruction was short-lived, as the oil boom had begun to industrialize much of the state. Thomas, who had begun managing the farm with his father, convinced his parents to sell. The farm hadn’t been profitable in years and the world was changing. Rolf and Margaret were off in school, and Anne and Peter weren’t far behind. Gerald and Minna sold the farm in 1905, and the next decade of their lives was marked with unexpected wealth. Those good times came to an end when Peter was conscripted in the Summer of 1917. The gangly youth was optimistic about his service, but his mother and father were rightfully made sick. As he smiled from the rear of that bouncing military bus, his family knew with a grim certainty that he wouldn’t return, and that was the last time they saw their brother and son alive.

***

In the years that followed, the children had all fell into their own lives. Since the selling of their ancestral home and the dwindling of those profits gained, their time together had been made thin. Margaret and her husband visited often, but Thomas was busy with railroad work and Rolf was a lecturer at the capital college who couldn’t escape his commitments regularly. Anne eventually moved back to Pinetop, but some unspoken bitterness between her and her father kept her away except for at Holidays where she would visit her family out of courtesy. The springtime of youth had been supplanted by the fatigue of old age, and hearts once green had bronzed.

***

In 1935, as the Autumn sun faded over the juniper-covered hillocks and gave way to night, Minna McCullough smiled for the last time. Gerald, her husband of 56 years, picked up her shrunken, liver-spotted hand and gave it a soft kiss before placing it gently over her heart. He sat at her bedside until men from the funeral home came to take her body for final preparations. Gerald was exceedingly old now and entering the Winter of his own life. His sons and daughters still alive had their own grown children or even grandchildren, and through no means of his own, Gerald’s legacy was secured by the inexorable cycles of life. Just before the start of the new year, he closed his eyes for a final time thinking only of his wife, and the hope that he would see her again.

Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021

In telepatia by Kali Uchis

Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021

gently caress, thought it was PST. Oh well... here are my bad words anyhow.

Love Machine
999 Words
Kali Uchis - telepatía

Despite wearing an anonymity overlay, Carmen kept her eyes fixed on the pavement as it moved like a film reel underfoot. She pulled open the door to the hotel and was greeted by the scent of stale smoke that had yet to waft free of the clerk it clung too. The slightly sour twang of fast-food ketchup added to the aroma to create an oppressive, not at all intimate, atmosphere. Still, Carmen thought, at least Victor remembered their anniversary this year. She approached the clerk awkwardly. He appeared young, at least too young to be working at a place like this, and it wasn’t until the face and pigmentation of the clerk shifted under Carmen’s scrutiny that she realized he was also wearing an anonymity overlay.

“You book a room?” the nondescript clerk asked.

“Ah, sorry. It should be under the name…” Carmen paused for a moment to look around the empty lobby and then leaned in conspiratorially to whisper, “…Cartwright.”

The face the clerk was wearing looked annoyed. He sighed and keyed the name into the kiosk and produced a keycard shortly thereafter. “You’ll take the elevator on your right to the third floor; your room will be the last at the end of the hall. No food, drinks, or nudity in the Mindspace device. Fabricator rendered snacks and beverages are complementary to your suite package. Checkout is at 11.”

Carmen went to her room. It was a cramped space that was clearly designed around the Mindspace device. Carmen set her bag at the foot of a small twin-sized bed adjacent the large and studied the device. Peering in through the entrance panel Carmen saw a cushioned seat that was similar in appearance to a recliner. It all looked rather plain for the purported effects that she had heard so much about at work and in reviews online. ‘See other worlds. Experience mind-blowing intimacy and interconnectedness.’

She was skeptical, but Victor was spot on about her interest. Honestly, Carmen had been hoping for some of the passion they once had. She knew nothing was ever the same as it once was, she just didn’t expect so much of their lives to ultimately end up revolving around their children. The absence brought on by their adulthood highlighted an area of Carmen and Victor’s relationship had been left barren. However, they filled it with added work and hobbies that didn’t include one another, and as such, they entered a cycle of coming, going or complacently enjoying each other’s company with the awkward politeness that two strangers might have had.

When work called Carmen away, she had lost hope of doing anything for their anniversary. A shared Mindspace hotel was the last thing she considered. They had talked about it, but Victor had become technophobic over the years. She never considered that he might do it for her. “I sent a session link to your phone.” Victor text. “I’ll see you soon then,” Carmen text back, genuinely excited about the experience. She slipped into a nightgown and climbed into the machine. Its translucent cover turned opaque briefly, but soon an awe-inspiring display of stars surrounded her.

‘Welcome to the Mindspace Interpersonal Connectivity device. Communicate with friends and loved ones in a truly revolutionary way as you cooperatively explore and share memories or sensations in a total sensory immersive environment. Please provide your session key.’

Carmen scanned the link Victor had sent her and the final piece of internal machinery presented itself as a loose-fitting mesh helmet wired with electrodes. It cinched neatly around the top of her head like a hairnet, and the world went black. She panicked as she found herself temporarily blinded. She shrieked, but then felt a hand grab hers and she opened her eyes. “Took you long enough.” Victor said looking some twenty to thirty years younger. “Sorry if anything looks off. My memory isn’t exactly what it used to be.” Victor said presenting the beach he and Carmen were married on. Carmen was amazed. Sand clung to her suddenly bare feet as she walked the beach from their shared memory. The illusion was only betrayed by the lifelessness of the guests whose warm, hopeful smiles seemed to be the only thing either of them could remember.

Then with some eagerness, Victor took her by the hand down an alley into the office they first met at. Carmen was hardly around then too, seldom there long enough for a chat. However, one day everything changed when she took the time to tell Victor hello. “This was when I first knew that I loved you,” Victor said showing her the precise moment from his memory. “You were marching towards the door with your coffee, and for whatever reason you stopped and told me hello. It changed my life.” Carmen scrunched up her face at this revelation. “This can’t be the moment…” Carmen said stifling a laugh.

“What do you mean?” Victor asked. Carmen put her hands on her hips, “I was getting onto you for always staring. This misunderstanding explains so much. Oh my god.” Victor looked embarrassed. “You cannot be serious right now,” he said. “I’ve gone our whole relationship thinking you were into me because of this moment. You thought I was a creep?”

“Well, yeah… Mostly. I mean, I didn’t think you were a complete creep, obviously.” Carmen assured him playfully.

“Wow, I completely misread that. Our relationship is literally built on a lie.”

“Time for a divorce? Should I call the kids?”

The landscape shifted to that of an exotic jungle and Victor stood mostly nude with oil glistened, perfectly sculpted, thews. It was like he was lifted from the cover of a romance novel. “I won’t tell them if you don’t.” Victor said beckoning his magically transformed Jungle bride. Carmen laughed before willing the illusion away.

“You’re no fun, you know that?” Victor said slyly taking her into his arms, appearing as himself, every perfect imperfection where it should be.

“Happy anniversary, honey.”

Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021

In with a flash please

Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021

Can I swap for cloud city incinerator room

Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021

Cloud City Incinerator Room

Dispelled Love
1,000 Words

Illuminated by the pale light of a glowworm lamp, Yixla scurried down the corridor. Grufnar clattered along quickly as they both moved to flee the mad wizard’s sentries. The automatons chased after them. “THE MASTER WISHES TO SPEAK WITH YOU,” they said in unison.

“YOUR MASTER CAN EAT BUTT.” Grufnar said as he clapped the backend of his chassis. A service compartment opened and released a stream of slippery oil. The sentries, unable to compensate for the hazard, fell prone. The sentries fired neutralizing negative rays at the pair instead.

The first ray whizzed past Yixla and fizzled against the bulkhead. The other collided with Grufnar who promptly went stiff and sprawled forward. Luckily, he fell into a portal Yixla hastily scrawled during the diversion. The portal dropped them into a nearby storage room. The sentries were still nearby.

Yixla donned her scanners so that she could see the spectral damage done to Grufnard from the negative ray. She quietly mouthed cantrips that mended her companion. Grufnar came to and withdrew his electro-mace, Raiden. Yixla crouched opposite him with a handful of blast caps and her poignard, Bite.

Yixla leveled her gaze at a pillar near the sentry and whispered “over here”. Her voice sounded out from that spot, and the sentry charged. Yixla tossed the blast caps at it and they ignited the oil it had slipped in. The fire didn’t do much damage, but it surprised the machine and allowed Grufnar to close the distance. He crushed the guard with the full might of Raiden, which sparked and roared as it tore through the plates and wires.

The other sentry hurried over, only to be ambushed by Yixla. She flipped from a column onto the its back and buried Bite into its processing core. Kelezet sounded out through the machine then. “You are so insufferable, you know that? Nothing ever changes with you. One misunderstanding and it’s right to nuclear war!”

“Oh, you’ve really got some nerve pal. I’m just here for what’s mine, and then I’ll never think of you again,” Yixla said venomously.

Grufnar knew early on that this heist was personal. The on and off again relationship Kelezet and Yixla maintained was beyond the scope of what Grufnar understood and it wore his patience thin.

“I TAKE IT THIS PETTY CHORE OF VENGEANCE IS NEAR ITS END?” Grufnar asked.

“Petty chore of vengeance? Grufnar, this is no petty chore of vengeance… this is justified retribution!” Yixla said animatedly.

“IF YOU SAY SO, BUT THE MAD WIZARD DOESN’T SEEM TO SEE IT THAT WAY.”

“Who cares what he sees! If he wants to consort with other gods and explore other adepts’ robes, so be it, but I’m taking back the Seraphic keys we stole together.”

“IF YOU STOLE THEM TOGETHER, LET HIM HAVE THE LAST. I GROW WEARY OF THIS.”

Yixla shot Grufnar an exasperated look.

“FINE,” Grufnar finally relented, “YOU NEED ALL SIX. LET US STEAL THE LAST AND BE DONE WITH THIS PETTY CHORE OF VENGEANCE.”

“It is NOT a petty chore of vengeance!”

“IF YOU SAY SO.”

Yixla rolled her eyes but carried on. “The palace is powered by an ensorcelled fire elemental in the furnace room, it also happens to be the guard of the last key.”

“SO WE’RE CRASHING THE CASTLE, THEN?”

“No… we’re getting my key back, crashing the castle is just an unavoidable coincidence.”

“AGAIN, IF YOU SAY SO.”

Yixla grinned.

“REMIND ME NEVER TO GET ON YOUR BAD SIDE. WELL, ON WITH IT THEN. WHERE TO?”

Now that they were in range Yixla produced a desiccated eyestalk from her component pouch . The stalk curled up and down in acknowledgement, but demanded payment. Yixla showed it some raunchy sketches she had drawn. Satisfied, the stalk stiffened into a conjuring rod. A door materialized at her command, and the two thieves entered.

Stepping through the door they found themselves in a large cylindrical chamber where a jovial fire elemental was shackled in ethereal chains.

“Oh my stars, we have guests! Welcome, what are your names?” the elemental asked.

“GRUFNAR AND YIXLA.” Grufnar said plainly and earned a curious look from Yixla. He gestured for her to follow his lead.

“What brings you here?” the elemental asked.

“WELL, WHAT ABOUT YOUR NAME? I GAVE YOU OURS.”

“Oh, where are my manners!? My name… hmm…. I don’t have one. Strange, isn’t it?”

“NO, NOT REALLY. YOU’RE A FIRE ELEMENTAL. ELEMENTALS DON’T HAVE NAMES.”

“Oh, right… Strange, isn’t it?”

“NO, NOT AT ALL. WHAT ARE YOU EVEN DOING HERE?”

“Oh, that? A nice wizardly man said he’d train my children to be wizardly like him if I powered his castle. What a deal!”

“IT MIGHT BE, IF
YOU HAD CHILDREN. ELEMENTALS DO NOT.”

“Oh, that is strange. Very strange, isn’t it?”

“NOT EVEN A LITTLE. YOUR BEING HERE IS THE ONLY THING STRANGE.”

“Oh, well, I suppose I should get going then, yeah?”

Grufnar nodded.

“You wouldn’t happen to have a big seven winged key would you?” Yixla asked.

“Oh, this?” the elemental asked, summoning the key from the core of its being. “The wizardly man asked me to hold onto it. Suppose I should give it back to him.”

“We can hold onto it.” Yixla said with a smile.

“Oh, I don’t know…” the elemental said suddenly finding the circumstances strange. Yixla smiled extra wide.

“Oh, alright. Here you go. I’m off then, toodles!” the elemental said as the ethereal chains that bound it burned away into nothing. Immediately, the systems powered by the creature began to falter.

Kelezet burst into the room, hands aglow with eldritch energy, but he was too late. Grufnar’s metal feet slipped through the quick closing portal and they were gone leaving the mage alone in his falling castle.

“drat that witch right to hell! If I ever see her again I’ll- I’ll tell her what a fool I was, Gods how I love that woman.” Kelezet said solemnly as he cast his own portal to escape.

Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021

In

Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021

In, bird me please

Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021

https://twitter.com/AurasBirds/status/1409439898751406080

Deus ex Beakina
1,180 Words
Humanity had been following the frequency for decades. The advent of superluminal travel through fold drives allowed them to pursue it, but they didn’t know what awaited them. The Outlander hurtled across space towards the fold point at nearly 125 miles a second. The drive, when it reached a certain velocity, would emit an encapsulating field that moved through an uncharted, immaterial, dimension of time-space, allowing vessels to skip across the cosmic soup of unreality like stones on a pond.

Flight Engineer Ripley had more than 16 fold jumps under his belt. His calculations were meticulously and thoroughly confirmed. The navigation intelligence replicated his results with less than a percentage variance. He knew he did his job, but that did little to placate the rising fear and nausea he felt as he, and every other crew member began what would likely be their final moments.

Forcibly pulled from a jump prematurely by the growing gravitational pull of a distant neutron star, the ship groaned to a halt. Even from several million miles away, the star would eventually destroy them.

Ripley returned to his numbers. They made sense. They confirmed that he did his job right. This wasn’t his fault, but doubt ate at him, nonetheless. The emergency klaxons sounded throughout the ship, repeating their alerts every fifteen seconds. “Can someone shut those damned things off?!” Ripley shouted, as he slammed a balled fist onto his console.

Commander Lu approached with her hands clasped behind her back. Even in the face of certain death, she retained a casual aloofness that kept hotter heads cooled. The klaxons sounded again.

“I said can someone shut those- Oh, Commander… My apologies, I…” Ripley stammered, eyes wavering to the flickering doom that bathed the flight deck in hot blue heat.

“No apologies needed, Engineer Ripley. However, I do need an update,” she said before leaning in more conspiratorially, “I checked your calculations myself. You did your job exceedingly well, so don’t take responsibility for something you had no control over. Now…,” she straightened herself back upright, hands still clasped neatly behind her back, “…find us a way out of here.”

Her stern indifference often masked the deep well of compassion she felt for every member of the crew, and now more than ever, they needed her to for guidance. She would give it to them.

“I know each and every one of you signed on with the United Earth Alliance in the hopes of spreading the influence of humanity throughout the stars… I’m here to tell you, that together, we’ve accomplished that mission. However, due to unpredictable circumstances, we are now faced with a challenge that will determine the very course of the rest of our lives. We either resign ourselves to our fates, doing nothing, waiting for death to come, or we do what we came here to do. To explore and challenge the unknown. We’ve come here to do a job, let’s see it through. Crew, to your stations.”

The crew, who had already gone from angry to hopeless, were reinvigorated by Commander Lu’s words, and fell into action immediately. Commander Lu returned to her chair and began feeding simulation queries to the navigation intelligence. Flight Engineer Ripley approached not long after with a crazed grin on his face.

“It’s just crazy enough that it might work!”

“What is, Engineer Ripley?”

“A timed detonation of a nuclear fuel cell. The explosion should have enough energy to disrupt the gravitational vector just long enough for us for us to reach the velocity required for escape. It’s a slim shot, but it’s the only shot we have. I’ve shared the simulations with you.”
Commander Lu ran the simulations on her data slate, there were 5 prepared. The first, was the most ideal, it aligned with the plan Ripley described with minor damage sustained to systems. The second and third simulations were similar but with the ship suffering damages that might make the efforts pointless. The fourth and fifth simulations were disheartening. A premature explosion that perhaps, more mercifully, killed everyone on the ship nigh instantaneously, and a mockingly delayed explosion that ultimately had no impact on their efforts, and left the ship drifting towards oblivion.

“The odds are definitely stacked against us.” Lu commented, noticing the expectant eyes of the crew. She routinely pushed down her own reservations and spoke, “Have the techs prepare a fuel cell. It’s now or never.”

***

The crew of the Outlander waited in terrified silence as the fuel cell, that had had been carefully positioned some thousands of miles away from the ship, exploded. The crew set to work immediately. Flight engineers keyed in commands, techs maintained overworked hardware and payload coordinators jettisoned out anything they could to lessen the weight of the ship. It started to happen. They were moving away from the blast, away from the neutron star, and away from certain death when it all came crashing down. The second fuel-cell failed. Be it from the strain of the jump, or complications with the explosion. A life ending technical malfunction culled their hope.

Eventually, the mania of the failed attempt gave way to solemnity and the crew sat in contemplative silence.

No one ran simulations. No one maintained the failing hardware. No one cared about trying to find a way out anymore, because they had given it their best shot, and the universe still determined that they wouldn’t succeed.

The signal that had started this trek began to hum through the communication system of the ship. It was familiar to everyone onboard the ship, and at once they all watched in awe as the star some millions of miles away began to thrum and pulse with brilliant coruscations of chromatic light. They were speechless to what they were witnessing. The accretion disks of dust and matter pulled onto the surface of the star wrapping around it until it was an opaque mass of roiling clouds condensing in on itself endlessly, then in a brilliant final flash, the shell-like mass cracked releasing a shockwave that sent pulsar jets flying in all directions as something reality-defying was birthed from the core of the already dead star.

Wings, planets wide, and more like blades of fire, unfolded into a voluminous expanse on either side of the star. A molten beak, melting in and onto itself erupted from the core letting out a defiant shriek, the signal, which was soul-penetratingly clear now. The creatures head, shaking its brilliant plumes of aether, focused its attention on the Outlander.

Images of life on earth, impressions of emotions, the raw ambition and desire of an entire species was plucked from the unwitting minds on the Outlander.

A single message, carrying a love and warmth more profound than anything any of the crewmembers had ever felt or considered was given in return, “You came, thank you.”

Then jarringly, instantaneously, the Outlander was hurtled through the immaterial space back to its departure point as if it had never left, the ship a ravaged hull, but the life within intact, perhaps now more than ever before.

Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021

In and word please

Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021

IN! Photo and :toxx:, plz

Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021


Lived In
1,467 Words
The moving truck, whose condition was not much more improved than the house it approached, bounced in every direction as it inched along the loose gravel driveway. Kayla looked over at Derek with her eyebrows raised. The pictures he had shown her of the house were vastly different. So much so that when he pulled into the driveway, she assumed that he had gotten lost or taken a wrong turn and just needed this ugly, but conveniently placed, driveway to turn out of, get back on track. Surely, she thought, that this must have been some sort of joke. That he would look over at her, and say “Nah, just playing,” in his goofy, drawn-out way, finding himself funnier than he was. It wasn’t until the truck rolled to a slow stop in front of the dilapidated assemblage of rotted wood, broken glass and snuffed out dreams, that she realized that he was entirely serious.

Derek had tried to avoid meeting her inquisitive glare, but eventually turned towards her with a forced grin that failed to conceal his own disappointment at their predicament. Kayla craned her head in incredulity and began to speak.

“Derek James Matthews, what in the hell is this?” Kayla asked, no attempt made to conceal her frustration.

“I know what you’re thinking, I’m surprised too, but…” Derek trailed off searching for answer and could only manage thinking about insects, rodents, and tetanus as he surveyed the house that had been sold to him and Kayla. “…but we’ve just got to make do.”

“Make do?!” Kayla asked with an astonished laugh. “We have to make the whole drat house! You need to call that real estate agent right now, because we’ve got our whole lives packed up with us, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to start it here. You’ve been tricked.”

Kayla crossed her arms and looked at Derek with a disapproving headshake. He held up a hand in her direction and shook his own head, signaling that he was not about to get into the argument that they would inevitably have. He pulled the keys from the ignition, unbuckled, and slid out of the truck before he looked back at Kayla who hadn’t moved an inch. “I’ll call the agent. There must have been some sort of mix-up or something. I’ll fix this,” Derek said, waving his cellphone at her as if it was an assuring action.

Derek walked away from the truck so Kayla couldn’t overhear his call, but Kayla was not far behind, and was going to make sure that Derek had no room to wriggle out of an explanation. He sighed and the phone rang, and rang, until a voicemail prompt indicating a full mailbox prematurely ended the call. He looked across the patchy, dead yard at Kayla and shrugged before pocketing his phone. Nothing left to do, he produced the keys that had been mailed to him and unlocked the door. Kayla carefully ascended the creaky patio steps behind Derek and peaked around him as he slowly pulled open the door.

A fetid cloud of decay rushed past them, as if desperate to escape into the open air. Derek and Kayla frowned at the offensive smell and were reluctant to enter the house. Regardless, Derek took the first step, and Kayla followed still trusting in Derek to make sense of the situation they found themselves in. The house’s interior, though plain, betrayed the disrepair of the exterior. A low-trimmed carpet spotted with stains and other curious splotches covered the floor of the hallway that extended from the entrance. The short hall opened immediately to a recessed living area that contained the left behind remnants of occupants long-since removed. The realtor said the house had been empty for the greater part of a decade, and that should have been the red flag Derek needed, but the price, and the proximity to his new job led him to make an uninformed decision that had ultimately led to them being duped. A sound came from the basement. A thud, and then a hastened shuffling.

“Ah, hell no. Hell no!” Kayla said before pacing back towards the front door. Derek turned towards her laughing. “Ain’t poo poo funny, Derek! I’m taking my rear end back to the truck. You can continue to explore this haunted-rear end house all you want, but I’m going to the truck to find a hotel. I’m not staying here. Not now. Not tomorrow. Not ever. You’re going to fix this alright, by getting us the gently caress out of here.”

Derek was still laughing, but he held off long enough to offer a reproving, “Babe,” which was promptly met with, “Nuh-uh, don’t babe me. Hurry up, because it’s getting dark, and I am not about to stay in a murder house. It won’t be me.” Kayla said as she departed the ramshackle house with a quickness. Derek, against his better judgment, was intrigued. He walked the rest of the upper story, chalking up the sound in the basement to rats, and honestly found himself impressed by how much of the house was still intact. It would need a lot of work, but for a house that had not been occupied for nearly ten years, it was in surprisingly good condition. He couldn’t place his finger on the atrocious smell that filled the house, nor could he find signs of what was causing it, so again, he chalked it up to rats, dead in the floorboards or in the walls, and decided that it was time to check the basement.

The truck horn honked from outside, and Derek, on his way to the basement, stopped to peer out the front door and check on Kayla. “You about ready?” she said leaning from the window. “Just about,” Derek said, “Just going to check the basement out and then I’ll be ready to go”. Kayla looked at him with concern, recalling the sound from the basement and the sickly-sweet scent of rot that was heavy on the air all throughout the house. “Be careful!” she finally shouted back at him. He nodded and turned back into the house with his eye focused on the basement door visible from the empty kitchen. He switched his phone’s light on and opened the door.

The odor that escaped the basement made him retch. He cupped the bottom half of his face with his hand to shield against the smell, and reluctantly stepped into the basement, driven by curiosity even though the instinct to get out was needling its way to the forefront of his thoughts. The pale cone of light cut through the darkness of the basement illuminating dust which drifted in every direction. He descended the steps carefully, turning the light around the basement to see what he could see. The smell seeped in through his fingers and he swallowed down the bile that had been building in the back of his throat, but that degree of control was short-lived as the light turned to the source of what he had been smelling.

His disgust and recoiling were not immediate. A profound sense of confusion struck him first as he decided that he was staring at an effigy of some sort, perhaps a piece of art, but the medium was all wrong. Several animal carcasses in varying states of decay had been heaped into a column and molded into the appearance of something monstrous. Hooved legs spiraled out of a gummy pink trunk where the fused torsos of dogs were crowned by a corona of bird wings with a horned stag’s head at its center. He staggered away and vomited. Derek’s heart pounded against the walls of his chest as he nervously swung the phone all around the room in his panicked attempt to find the stairs again, and that’s when he saw the man-sized tunnel leading from an amateurly cut hole deep into the earth. He turned his phone light into the tunnel and a pair of yellowing eyes, set inside an oily, tar-like face peered back at him. He dropped his phone in his retreat, and stumbled up the stairs, two and three at a time, looking over his shoulder as he erupted from the house in a full sprint towards the moving truck.

Kayla saw this and drew the gun she kept concealed in her purse. Derek slid into the driver’s seat, cranked the ignition, slammed the truck into reverse. Kayla, who had her thumb resting on the safety of her pistol, tucked the gun away and retrieved her phone that had began to ring suddenly. She looked at it once and immediately rejected the call when she saw that Derek, whose hands were white-knuckled against the steering wheel, eyes darting about the road in panicked disbelief, was calling him.

Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021

In

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Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021

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