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Pththya-lyi
Nov 8, 2009

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2020

Interprompt: New Year's Resolutions Gone Wrong

400 w

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Pththya-lyi
Nov 8, 2009

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2020

I'm in.

Excited about something the other person isn't enthusiastic about.

Pththya-lyi
Nov 8, 2009

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2020

Song of the Warleader
972/1000 words

It was Valentine’s Day in Minnehaha, Minnesota, and Nargol the Unyielding, Warleader of the Orc Republic, had come to claim her bride. Nargol rode up Sixth Street astride her warpony Thunderer, ahead of a column of handpicked warriors, who were followed by attendants leading one hundred orcish ponies. She grinned to herself, showing her fangs. With such an impressive bride-gift, Jaime had to accept.

“This is the place, Warleader.” Nargol’s herald pointed to a shabby grey duplex. “Shall I begin the proposal?”

Nargol nodded, and Akbash the Loud dismounted his own pony. “JAIME ORC-FRIEND!” His cry reverberated all through Minnehaha. “Slayer of Ardreth! Wielder of the Blade of Lethonel! My leader has come to wed you! Come out and face –”

“Dude, you don’t have to be so loud!” Jaime poked her head out a window. Brushing a mess of blood-red hair from her sloe eyes, the human woman was glorious in the morning sunlight. Nargol felt a foolish grin spreading across her face. Her chosen bride may have been small and soft, but Nargol wouldn’t have traded her for all the treasure in the Nine Realms.

“Nargol? What are you doing here? What the heck is all this?”

“What does it look like? I’m asking you to marry me.” Nargol gestured to the ponies. “These are all yours – if you’ll have me.” Jaime would, of course. The way those gorgeous eyes widened with shock proved it. Jamie would come downstairs, leap into Nargol’s arms, and kiss her soundly. Then Nargol would sweep Jaime onto Thunderer’s back, ride to her camp on the outskirts of town, get her under the direwolf furs in her tent and –

Well. Nargol was getting ahead of herself.

An elderly human came out of the other side of the duplex. “What’re you doing here?!” he screeched. “Folks’re trying to sleep here, and they don’t need all this–” he threw up his hands –“this Lord of the Rings nonsense. Your darn horses are tearing up my yard! I’m trying to start a business; I can’t have you –”

“Mr. Knutsen, I’m so sorry! I’ll handle everything.” Jaime turned to Nargol. “Why don’t you come inside? We can talk.”

Nargol relaxed the fist she’d made at this Knutsen worm. His punishment for disrespecting a Warleader could wait: Nargol was all too ready to “talk” with Jaime. She was ready to spend hours at it, if Jaime had the endurance. Inside, Jaime was waiting at the top of the stairs. Three bounds and Nargol was beside her, taking Jaime in her arms, tasting her lips greedily –

“Nargol?”

“Yes, my little sweetmeat?”

“That was – you’re a g-good kisser, y’know?” A blush crept up Jaime’s cheeks. “But we really do have to talk. Please, wait in my den. Go ahead and move the pizza boxes off the couch.” Jaime hurried down the stairs. “I – I’ll make you some ramen!”

A few minutes later, Nargol was fuming silently in Jaime’s den. She’d come all this way, bought the best of her herds, arranged a grand wedding ceremony back in Bogrum. All Jaime had to do was say “Yes.” Why couldn’t she do that? What was stopping her? Whatever it was, Nargol had to persuade her. She thought back to last year, when Jaime first strode into her war tent. One look into the little human’s eyes and Nargol knew their destinies were linked. Rivals, comrades, lovers – no matter what they were to each other, their bond couldn’t be broken. Jaime had to see that. Nargol had to make her see.

“I put an egg in yours.” Jaime came in and threw herself on the couch next to Nargol. “And some spinach. That makes it healthy, right?” Nargol stared Jaime down, ignoring the proffered cup. Under that glare, Jaime’s smile died as quickly as a Bogrum mouse caught in a sandstorm. Still, she met Nargol’s gaze. Nargol felt a twinge of pride in Jaime, even through her anger: few orcs could withstand a Warleader’s scowl, let alone a human.

“What’s going on, Nargol?” Jaime set the ramen cup down on the floor and took Nargol’s hands in her strong little ones. Jaime’s fingers were rough against Nargol’s skin, which sent a flare of desire through Nargol’s body. What did Jaime do to make her hands so calloused? Nargol felt a surge of embarrassment: she didn’t know. There was a lot she didn’t know about Jaime.

“So, I gotta say: this is incredible. Nobody’s ever done something this romantic for me, y’know? I mean gosh, you bought me all these horses! I would’ve been thrilled with just one. And—” Jaime looked down, blushed crimson – “I … I do have feelings for you. I do. But I don’t know what they mean yet. I need to get to know you better first. And that’s gonna take some time. We gotta slow down.”

Nargol took Jaime’s face in her hands, smoothing her hair back. “And when you ‘get to know me’ – then you’d marry me?”

“Well, yeah.” Jaime’s lip curled. “If I don’t get sick of you first.”

“Then I shall make it my life’s mission to ensure you never tire of me, Slayer of Ardreth.” Nargol pressed a gentle kiss to Jaime’s lips. “Will you ride with me today? And then, we can –”

Jaime’s sloe eyes sparkled with the same passion Nargol felt. “Heck yeah!”

Jaime and Nargol stepped out into the sunshine, hand in hand. The ponies milled around the front yard, crushing the snow into mud. Jaime turned to Knutsen, who was still waiting outside, face red. Nargol would have to ask Jaime if all humans looked that way when they got angry, or just old blowhards.

“Mr. Knutsen.” Jaime gave him her most winning smile. “I think you’d make a great rancher. I just got some horses. You want ‘em?”

Pththya-lyi
Nov 8, 2009

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2020

In

Pththya-lyi
Nov 8, 2009

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2020

Snow Woman
297 words

It happened one sweltering night. Mike had just come from his son’s bedroom to find Crystal in the kitchen.

“Jack-Jack’s down for the night.” Mike came up from behind and gave his wife a squeeze. “You trying to decide what to have for dinner? I vote ice cream.”

“Not a bad idea. Too hot for me!”

Mike nuzzled his neck into Crystal’s shoulder. “And here I thought you were one hot mama.”

“Oh my God, do you hear yourself? Why did I marry someone so cheesy?” But Mike could hear the smile in her voice as she took a pint from the fridge.

“I don’t know why, but I’m glad you did. I’ve never seen anyone as beautiful as you outside of a dream.”

“‘Outside of a dream?’ I gotta hear about this girl!” Crystal’s tone was still light, teasing. “Is she prettier than me?”

“Oh, you don’t have to worry. This was before we met, back when I was a park ranger. Me and my partner – old guy, name of Mert – were stuck in a cabin during a snowstorm, had to bunk down together. That night, I dreamt of the most beautiful woman. Her lips were as blue as the winter sky; icicles clung to her snow-white hair. She drifted into the cabin, carried on the wind. She leaned over and breathed on Mert, and he got pale and still.”

“Then what happened?” Crystal breathed.

“Then she turned to me, came in close – and stopped. ‘I’ll spare you,’ she said, ‘for you are young and handsome. But you must tell nobody, or you’ll pay.’ Then she vanished. Mert was dead the next morning. Creepy, right?”

“Yeah. Creepy.”

The next day Crystal was gone. Her side of the bed dripped with melting frost.

Pththya-lyi
Nov 8, 2009

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2020

Thanks for judging fast and judging good, all!

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

Pththya-lyi fucked around with this message at 03:30 on Feb 23, 2021

Pththya-lyi
Nov 8, 2009

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2020

Knitpunk

Pththya-lyi
Nov 8, 2009

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2020

Untitled

knitpunk
1495/1984 words

It was the second summer after the Nazis came to Belgium, and Grand-mère was knitting socks again.

“You can say a lot through knitting, Marcel,” my grandmother said from her usual spot near the mantle, hunched over her work, scrutinizing it – she was near-sighted – “Things like ‘I love you,’ or ‘don’t give up.’”

“Mmm,” I glared out the farmhouse window, opened against the heat of the day. I thought myself a big strong boy, and I didn’t see what knitting had to do with me. I had more important things to worry about.

“Since whatever’s out there is so much more interesting than what your grand-mère has to say, then describe it to me.”

I rolled my eyes, but obliged her. “The sun is high, and the wheat’s coming up. There’s a little brown bird taking a dirt bath by the field. A train’s coming up the tracks.”

“Oh?” The tic-tic-tic of her wooden needles was a counterpoint to the churning of nearby wheels. “What sort of train?”

“It’s a troop transport. More Germans are coming.”

“Ah. Can you tell me the time, Marcel? There’s a good boy.”

“The clock says 2:07.” I turned back to the train, watching the tanned, angular faces of the soldiers flash past. “I wish I had a bomb, so I could kill those boches right now!”

Grand-mère crossed the room with a speed that belied her age and slammed the window with a clatter. “Boy, don’t you have any sense?,” she hissed, shaking me by the shoulders. “How many times must I tell you: you never know who might be listening! Don’t you remember what happened to your mother and father?”

“I remember better than you do!” I fired back with the righteous anger only a young child could muster. “You don’t care about Maman or Papa! You only care about your rosaries and your socks, and bossing me around! You never even talk about them anymore, not after those men took them away for striking – except to scold me!” I could feel the hot tears starting in my eyes, but kept going: “Don’t you hate the Germans too? Don’t you want revenge? They took your own daughter away! They –”

Stop.” Grand-mère wiped the tears from my face with a calloused thumb, though her own tears were falling. “I can’t protect your parents anymore. But I can protect you. Even if it means protecting you from yourself. I don’t want to hear any more talk about hating the Germans, do you understand? I can’t lose you, too. I have to look out for you no matter what.”

I said nothing, only wiped my runny nose. We didn’t speak to each other for the rest of the day; the silence only broken by the familiar tic-tic-tic of Grand-mère knitting.

***

Zut!” Grand-mère swore as she gathered up the scattered, now-finished socks that had spilled from her handbag. I lingered on the stairs, pretending not to see: Grand-mère always got angry when someone noticed her making a mistake. “Alright, quit dawdling!” she said affectionately, tucking the last sock deep in her bag. “We have lots of houses to visit!”

“Shouldn’t we be giving these socks away in the fall?” I slipped my hand into Grand-mère’s. “It’s still so hot out! All the poor people would just about die if they tried wearing these now!”

“Now is exactly the right time to give out woolens,” she said, a little too smoothly. “This way the poor will have these socks even if there’s a sudden cold snap. Besides, cold weather is bad for my arthritis.”

I shrugged. When you’re a child, adults are always doing strange-seeming things around you, and they don’t always have the patience to explain themselves. There wasn’t a point in questioning Grand-mère now. “Then let’s get going.” Grand-mère simply smiled, leading me out the door.

The dirt road by the tracks ran a short ways to the cobbles of St. Louvain. Those days were hard on all of us because of the shortages, but the villagers always had a smile for me and Grand-mère. The Germans monitoring the town square were, as usual, mostly aloof towards us Belgians – save one soldier.

“Vos papiers, s’il vous plait?” The private who stopped us could have walked off a Nazi propaganda poster: tall, well-built, sandy-blond hair, a healthy tan, a one-thousand watt smile. Soldat Weber never knew how I loathed him. I don’t think he knew much of anything, really.

“Your accent is getting much better!” Grand-mère simpered. She dutifully got our papers out of her bag for him. “It’s a beautiful day, isn’t it?”

“Is that knitting?” Weber’s big stupid cow eyes mooned over the socks. “My own dear mother used to knit! May I see?”

“Of course,” she said. Only I noticed the nervous expression that darted across her face, gone as soon as it appeared. “These are for all the poor people in town, for the winter.”

“Ah,” Weber took a sock in his great meaty hands, stretching it out and holding it up to the light. “I see you’ve dropped a lot of stitches on this one! You had better fix that, or the whole thing could unravel.”

“Oh, thank you so much for the kind advice!” I started, surprised. Weber had corrected Grand-mère – about something she already understood perfectly, no less – yet there wasn’t a trace of anger on her face. “I’m so far-sighted, you see. I shall have to fix it right away, won’t I, Marcel?”

I didn’t answer, staring at the cobbles and silently wishing death on Weber. He clapped me on the shoulder, told me to be a good boy, waved his goodbye, then rejoined his comrades in the square. “I hate you,” I whispered at his retreating back.

Enough,” Grand-mère spat, yanking me out of the square. “Remember what we talked about.”

We continued with our deliveries, even though Grand-mère hadn’t fixed the socks as she told Weber she would. The charity cases accepting the socks were a curious bunch: a woman with an eyepatch who ducked back into the alley she was lurking in, a dark-skinned fellow who wore a coat despite the weather, a one-legged man sitting at a café who took a pair with a lopsided grin and a tip of his crutch. I couldn’t restrain my curiosity at that last one: “Grand-mère, shouldn’t he only get one sock? He only has one foot.”

“Marcel, it’s ill-bred to point out such things!” Grand-mère gripped my hand far harder than necessary. “We’ll talk about your behavior when we get home. Now tell the nice man you’re sorry.” I stammered out an apology to the one-legged man, who merely smiled and patted me on the head. Then I walked home in silence with Grand-mère, thoughts of the strange day still swirling in my mind.

***

Next week, on another sweltering afternoon, I was helping Grand-mère wind a ball of yarn when the chugging of a train was silenced by a boom and a screech. I threw down the yarn and ran to the window. Not fifty yards from our house, flames bit at the wreckage of a troop transport, strewn with dead and dying men. Screams, groans, sobs rent the air. Through the smoke, I spotted a one-legged figure, hobbling away on a crutch.

“Grand-mère!” I wheeled on her, sitting in her usual spot, as calm as if she were sitting in the pew in church. “You knew about the explosion. You knew that was going to happen.”

“Shut the window.” I obeyed, and rushed to her. “It’s true, Marcel. I’m gathering information for the Resistance. I had to do something after –” she cradled my hand in hers – “I had to do something."

“All those people we met the other day were in the Resistance, then – including that one-legged man! I saw him running away from the explosion.”

“Yes, it sounds like Monsieur Goffin succeeded in planting the bomb. You needn’t be afraid for him: the others will take him far away.”

“But what did you tell them? How did you do it? I didn’t see any notes. Don’t spies use coded messages?”

“They do.” Grand-mère gave me a secretive smile. “You can say a lot through knitting, Marcel. Like ‘I love you,’ or ‘don’t give up,’ or ‘The troop transports arrive at these specific times.’”

“So that’s why you gave Monsieur Goffin two socks – and why you gave everyone socks you knew weren’t any good. You did it on purpose!”

“Of course. Your Grand-mère never makes mistakes.”

“Grand-mère – those things I said the other day – About Maman and Papa – you know I’m –”

“You needn’t say anything, darling.” She planted a paper-thin kiss on my forehead. “We look out for each other no matter what.”

“Then, Grand-mère…will you teach me to knit? I promise I’ll be good, and careful, and protect myself, and –”

“Save some of that energy for your lessons, Marcel! Now, you need to start by casting on….”

Pththya-lyi
Nov 8, 2009

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2020

I'm singing an I Want song about winning Thunderdome. Will my dream come true? In

Pththya-lyi
Nov 8, 2009

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2020

The Greatest Knight
1978/2,500 words
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dulbsyPiog8

It was a beautiful day in Eliastown, and Kyra and Herbert were sparring in the clearing near Old Raymond’s farm. As the only person in the sleepy little burg who’d left in the past twenty years, Herbert had picked up a few fighting techniques in the Capital. He cut Kyra a narrow grin as he caught her overhead strike. “You’re supposed to hit me, not my sword.”

“That’s the plan!” Kyra was about to win anyway. Herbert might talk a good game, but he was already panting, tired. Soon he’d drop his guard, and then she’d put him in the dust - again. Kyra had trained hard to be the toughest warrior in Eliastown, and she’d win the tournament next week in Marceline. A post in the Royal Guard was the prize, and then she and her fellow knights would defeat the Black Knight in glorious battle. Then everyone would be proud of her. She could see Granny and Frank and Herbert and all the other townsfolk in her mind’s eye now, faces shining, smiling, cheering –

“Aah!” Kyra’s eyes were suddenly stinging, and she had to turn away. As she rubbed at her eyes, Herbert’s smug voice cut through the pain.

“I win.”

“You –“ Kyra got the last of the dust out of her face to see Herbert’s practice sword at her throat. Just past it was his face, wearing his signature smirk – which she was raring to wipe off. “You threw dirt in my eyes! You cheated!”

“I had to, to win. You <i>are</i> a better swordfighter than me. But I guess I’m smarter than you.” He turned away, tapping the blade against his shoulder. “Well, Frank, I guess Kyra and me’re done for today. Let’s get some apples, yeah?”

Frank whickered, tossing his mane and prancing in place. Granny always said her old plow-horse was smarter than most people in Eliastown, and some days Kyra couldn’t help but agree. But now she turned her angry gaze on him.

“You <i>traitor</i>. No apples for you! You sit right there!” Cowed, Frank obeyed his mistress, plopping his rear straight down in the dirt. “I’m not done with this one.” Kyra wheeled on Herbert, sticking a finger in his face. “I am <i>not</i> going to win the tournament with your shady tactics. Even if I did, the Royal Guard wouldn’t take me. They’re always honorable, win or lose –“

“Yeah, they’re doing a lot of that lately. Losing.” Herbert’s airy tone took on a bitter edge, but Kyra didn’t let that stop her.

“We have rules for a reason. Without them, we’re no better than the Black Knight. Bringing chaos, burning, taking what he wants from our people –“

“You think the Guard doesn’t take what they want from us?” Herbert’s eyes were wide with anger. “Oh, they don’t do it like the Black Knight. <i>Honorable</i> knights don’t wreck your farm, or snatch your coin straight from your cottage like he does. They use the <i>rules</i> to make you give up what you need, what’s important to you. ‘For the good of the Realm’ they say. And who decides what’s good for the realm? They do, of course! Folks from Eliastown, we can’t succeed. We’ll never win by playing by the rules <i>they</i> made.”

“What do you know?” Kyra folded her arms. “You’re nothing but a scoundrel. Granny’s been saying so for years!”

“You – you – you don’t even know why!” Herbert groaned, pulling at his hair. “You don’t know what happened to me, out in the Capital –“

“How would I? You haven’t told me! You haven’t told anybody what happened that was so horrible out there! I bet – Oh.” Herbert’s face was all screwed up in a grimace. Tears were running down his cheeks. “Oh no. Oh Herbert, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean –”

“It’s okay. I know you meant it,” he smiled gamely. Kyra led him to a log by the clearing, where they sat together. Frank sidled up next to Herbert, gave him an encouraging nudge. Herbert smiled sadly and patted Frank on the jaw. “It wasn’t any one thing,” Herbert said, patting Frank on the jaw. “It was … have you ever had someone look at you and immediately decide you were worthless?”

Kyra shifted uncomfortably in her seat. Nobody in Eliastown was rude enough to tell her she couldn’t win the tournament, but she knew full well nobody believed a skinny girl from Eliastown would ever be a knight. Not even Granny, for all her sweetness.

“It kept happening to me in the Capital. Didn’t matter how good I dressed or how wide I smiled, how hard I was willing to work – all those fancy merchants and smiths and housekeepers couldn’t hide their sneers. I tried to play by their rules. I was ready to work my way up from the bottom, the way you’re supposed to. But the city folk didn’t even want to let me play their game. That’s why I came back here.” Herbert stood up, brushed off his trousers. “That’s why I had to be a scoundrel. That’s why nobody leaves Eliastown. I just hope you learn that faster than I did.” He tried to bring a little bravado back into his voice, but they all knew his heart wasn’t in it. “See you later.” And he strolled down the path to town, not looking back at the frowning girl and horse watching him leave.

******

“Don’t worry, dear.” Granny patted Kyra’s cheek with a hand withered and tanned as an apple left out too long in the sun. “You can always come home to me, no matter how badly you lose!”

“Thanks, Granny.” Kyra forced a smile as she put on her battered old helmet. Most of Eliastown was here at the Marceline festival grounds, and she didn’t want to prove them right about her chances. She was going to have to win…in her patchy boiled leather and rusty half-helm, wielding a sword older than Granny, riding an old plow-horse. Against professional knights.

Gods above, she <i>was</i> going to prove them right.

“You can’t think like that,” Kyra said aloud. “You just need to do like you’ve always done, work hard, believe that –“

“And now for our first match of the day!” A voice boomed from the platform by the tournament pavilion. “A crowd favorite, Sir Oswald the Lucky, hero of Iwerks Bridge –“ a wave of cheers washed over Kyra “—And newcomer Kyra of Eliastown!” A scattering of claps followed.

“—I’m doomed.” Kyra slumped forward. “Frank, what am I going to do?”

Frank only whinnied in response.

“You could try my way.” Kyra turned to see Herbert vault over the pavilion fence, striding towards her.

“Herbert! I didn’t think you’d come!” Herbert winced as Kyra locked him in her strongest bearhug. But –” she turned nervously to the center pavilion, where a great white warhorse was tramping, carrying a broad-shouldered, mustachioed knight “– You know I can’t use your way, I can’t –“

“There’s another option: just run away. It’s gotten me out of a lot of scrapes before.”

“I’m not going to run.” Kyra took Frank’s reins and started walking him towards the starting point. “I gotta face the music.”

“Wait, Kyra, I – there’s something I have to tell you. No matter what happens, I want you to know I’m –“

Screams rang out, and a burning smell assailed Kyra’s nose. She turned to see merchant stalls in flames, frightened people running pell-mell. A midnight stallion parted the crowds. Sitting astride it was a hulking figure in full ebon armor, bearing a flaming torch. The figure tossed the torch to the ground, and a voice echoed terribly through its visor: “WHO WILL FACE ME?”

“Never fear!” Sir Oswald spurred his horse forward. “I shall put paid to this brute, and save the realm from – Ooof!” Oswald flew backwards off his horse, sprawling to the ground.

“That is a very big mace.” Herbert paled at the spiked monstrosity clutched in the Black Knight’s gauntlet. “Very big.”

“Herbert, snap out of it!” Kyra shoved Frank’s reins in Herbert’s hand. “Get on Frank and go. Get Granny out of here, and anybody else you can.”

“What about you?”

“I’ll be fine,” Kyra lied, drawing her sword. “I can take him.”

“Are you crazy? You’ll never –“

“Herbert, if you ever needed to shut up –“

“Okay, I get it. Shutting up.” He mounted Frank in one smooth motion, hoisted a screaming Granny up by the scruff of her neck. “Listen up, everyone! Follow me if you want to live!”

Most in the crowd seemed to want that, needing no more encouragement to follow Herbert. The knights who hadn’t broken and ran stood, blades drawn, but shaking with fear. Only Kyra strode forward. “Black Knight!” She willed her voice not to quail as she pointed her blade at the figure. “Come and face me!”

“THIS ONE ANSWERS MY CHALLENGE?” The Black Knight dismounted, growing larger and more monstrous in Kyra’s vision as he advanced. “A SCRAWNY, UNTRAINED CHILD. VERY WELL.” He raised his mace high to strike. “CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.”

Kyra dove sideways, wind whistling past as the mace crashed to the ground she’d been standing on. As soon as she’d recovered, the Black Knight was coming back for another swing. She retreated from his tireless assault, diving, dodging, searching desperately for an opening, seeing nothing. “YOU CANNOT WIN, CHILD.” Fire-blue eyes blazed through his visor. “YOU HAVE NOT THE SKILL TO DEFEAT ME.”

“You’re right. I don’t.” Kyra smirked as she reached behind her. “But I do have this!” With a shout of effort, she threw the handful of dust she’d grabbed straight at the Black Knight’s helmet. Ignoring his howl of pain, she thrust her blade against his throat. “I win.”

“I YIELD! I YIELD!” The Black Knight wailed. Kyra scoffed as she jabbed her blade against his throat. The monster who’d held the land in thrall was nothing more than a coward in defeat. “I’M SO SORRY! PLEASE FORGIVE ME!”

“I can’t do that for you. You’ll have to ask the Guard.” Kyra lowered her blade as some other knights surged forward. Now that the Black Knight had soundly lost, they were only too happy to bind him and drag him off to the town dungeon. Kyra helped the rest put out the fires, and a few hours later she was standing outside Marceline, surrounded by her friends and neighbors.

“I knew you could do it!” Granny jumped up and down as Frank reared with pride. “That’s my granddaughter! My Kyra!” Kyra only smiled, accepting a hug from Herbert.

“I heard what happened. See, I told you you need to break their rules.” Herbert nudged Kyra’s chin. “That’s how you win their game. Now they’ve got to let you into the Guard.”

“Indeed,” Sir Oswald stepped forward, holding his blade out. “We need not hold a tournament to see that your valor is unsurpassed. Kneel, child. I would dub thee Dame Kyra.”

Kyra felt the tears pricking at her eyes. This was everything she’d ever wanted. Wasn’t it? Kyra looked out the crowd. There was Granny, hooting with excitement. Frank was jumping like a puppy at play. And by her side was Herbert, beaming with pride. Everyone was proud of her.

“Sir Oswald, you flatter me with your request. But I must refuse –“ a roar of disappointment, and a cry of “Oh come on!” from someone in the crowd “–For I have no need for fortune or glory. I only want to remain with the people I love – the people who believe in me.” And with that, she mounted Frank, pulled a laughing Granny up in the saddle, and turned towards home. Herbert was right, she thought as he walked alongside Frank, beaming up at her. Nobody left Eliastown – and who would want to?

Pththya-lyi
Nov 8, 2009

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2020

rohan posted:

Pththya-lyi chooses for you an archetype and a theme.

The romance fairy blesses you!

Theme: Opposites Attract. Character Archetype: Fae

Pththya-lyi
Nov 8, 2009

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2020

Okay, time to get back on the horse.

The President (or Prime Minister, or whoever leads the country) made anime real

Pththya-lyi
Nov 8, 2009

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2020

Prompt: the moon is alive now and also SUPER mean, she does not like humans at all, and she starts doing moon stuff at us and it's really really bad
Word count: 1,747/2,000

Fly Me to the Moon, Let Me Kick Its loving rear end

The constant meteorites and tsunamis besieging the Earth had been bad enough, but the 700 kilometer-long letters spelling SUCK IT HUMANS on the Moon’s surface was the very last straw. To preserve the Earth’s honor, NASA hastily assembled and landed a crack team of astronauts on the Moon to defeat it in hand-to-hand combat.

“Scans indicate human-sized object appeared a couple klicks northeast, in the top of the S in ‘SUCK.’” Engineer Troya Jackson peered over the radar display in the Callisto’s command module. “Commander, it wasn’t there a minute ago.”

“That’s our target.” Commander Naomi Ito shook dark bangs out of her eyes as she stood up from her floor exercises. “Luna’s manifested herself a body, the better to fight us with. Any other readings I should know about?”

“Some lunar transient phenomena.” Troya pointed outside the module window. “Those flashes over the horizon seem especially bright. What do you think we should do?” Troya turned to her commander. Ito always knew what to do. Top of her class at flight school, youngest commander in the history of the Astronaut Corps, and heir to the thousand-year-old Japanese tradition of Tsuki no jiujutsu - the most venerable lunar martial art known to man - Naomi Ito was the natural choice to lead Operation Moonkick. Troya didn’t resent Ito for that. She knew a kid from NoLa, the granddaughter of a swamp witch, couldn’t compare with an astronaut of Ito’s caliber. She was okay with that. She only hoped that she wouldn’t slow the rest of the team down.

“Don’t second-guess yourself, Jackson.” Commander Ito gave Troya a friendly pat on the shoulder. “I picked you for a reason. Use your own judgment. What do you think we should do?”

“Um.” Troya looked back at the horizon. “The Moon’s definitely up to something. I just don’t have enough data to make a decision. I think we should wait in the Callisto until we have a sense of what the additional threat is.”

I think we need to take the fight to the enemy,” Yael Reznick, the mission’s pilot, tapped the radar screen with one massive finger. On loan from the Israel Space Agency, Reznick had an aggressive attitude that made her a perfect vessel for Krav Yareach, her own lunar martial arts specialty. Though she wasn’t as skilled at dodging and throwing as Ito, Reznick’s powerful strikes could chew through moon rock twice as fast as any NASA astronaut’s. “Focus on the main threat. Take out the Moon’s personification fast, before it has a chance to bring anything else to bear. Then get out.”

“I like your style, Reznick.” Commander Ito cut her a sidelong grin. “We’ll do it your way. But Jackson’s got a point: we don’t know for sure what we’re up against. So keep your head on a swivel, you hear? Now suit up, ladies!”

Twenty minutes later the three were outside the Callisto, adjusting to the lunar gravity. Reznick sent a flurry of quick jabs at her own shadow, then charged forth with the signature stutter-walk all lunar explorers learned to use. “This spacesuit is so light! Like old science fiction movies!”

“It’s so we can fight without a bunch of bulky equipment weighing us down.” Commander Ito leapt over Troya’s and Reznick’s heads, turning a somersault in midair. “Good old American knowhow,” she said, executing a flawless three-point landing.

Reznick laughed sarcastically. “But it is ISA satellite technology that navigated us here so quickly. You know this, Commander.”

“True. Though teamwork, we can overcome anything. Right, Jackson?”

“Yeah.” Troya took a centering breath. Despite all the martial arts training she’d been through, she still lacked Reznick’s striking power and Ito’s grace. Yes, she remembered what Ito had said about jiujutsu: it isn’t about being stronger, it’s about using your opponent’s strength against them. But how could she even get in position? Still, Troya had her knowhow, and she could still make a contribution to the team. She just had to go one step at a time. She turned in the direction of the blip on the radar, took that first step — and launched herself uncontrollably into the air.

“Jackson! We can’t use a normal Earth walk here! Remember the stutter-step!”

“Yes, Commander! Of course — oof!” Troya landed helmet-first in the lunar dust. “Sorry.” Her voice came out weaker than she would have liked. “I forgot.”

“I say we have Jackson watch the module.” The glare Reznick sent Troya made it clear: the engineer obviously wasn’t good enough.

“And I say we stick together.” Commander Ito’s tone brooked no disrespect. “As long as we stick to our training, we’re gold. Got it?”

“Shh! Commander, I hear something!” Rather, Troya felt it though the vibrations in her helmet. Something was coming — lots of somethings.

Reznick, already in fighting stance, was staring at the horizon. “That’s a lot of dust getting kicked up.”

Ito followed Reznick’s gaze, squinting hard. “That’s a lot of —” The commander’s eyes widened in a brief moment of shock, then narrowed as she assumed her own stance. “—Rabbits!”

“They must have come from the flashes I saw!” Troya barely managed to pick herself off the ground before the lunar lagomorphs were upon them. The chalk-white rabbits swarmed the astronauts, climbing up their bodies, worrying at their suit legs. “But —” she tore and kicked the voracious beasts away, though more sprung up at her “—But why rabbits?! I thought the Man in the Moon was just a face!”

“My zayde said he was a woodcutter!” Reznick howled, pummeling at the furry horde.

“It’s not a man to the Japanese, it’s a big rabbit! He’s sitting at a mortar and pestle, making —” Ito shook her head, as if to snap herself out of her lecture. “It doesn’t matter! Just find your own way out!”

“But we, we have to stick together!”

“The mission is more important, Jackson! Now go!”

Troya tried to think of a retort, but a pair of rabbits had already climbed up her body and were butting their heads at her helmet. If she didn’t swipe them away, they’d break the helmet, and — Troya refused to finish that thought. All she could do was follow her orders. She’d have to figure out her next step later. Summoning a primal scream, she knocked the little monsters from her head. A gap appeared and Troya took it — dodging, weaving, throwing strikes with abandon — until she was out of the swarm. She stutter-ran, sprang over rocks, anything to get away from the rabbits. Reznick and Ito were right behind her. They had to be. They’d regroup, plan their next steps. She could still help them succeed.

Ito’s voice crackled over the comm. “You’re on your own, Jackson.”

“No!” Troya skidded to a halt. “You must have fought off the rabbits!”

“You bet we did.” Ito laughed without mirth. “But they ripped up our suits pretty bad. We only had enough air left to get back to the Callisto. We can’t go back out there.”

“But I can’t stay out here on my own!”

“Is your suit okay?”

Troya patted herself down. “It’s in perfect working order, Commander,” she said miserably.

“Then you’re the only one who can do this. I believe in you, Jackson.”

Troya whimpered. Ito was obviously lying, trying to give Troya false hope. How could she believe in Troya when Troya didn’t believe in herself?

“So this is the best humanity has to offer.” The ethereal contralto came from behind Troya. “Pathetic.”

“Luna.” The Moon had already found Troya. Swallowing hard, she turned, shifting into the introductory stance for Tsuki no jiujutsu. Though the figure before her had the general shape of a woman, the spindly body, with its solid black eyes staring out from a bone-white, angular face, could never be mistaken for a human.

“Am I supposed to be intimidated?” The curve cutting across Luna’s face was too cold to ever be called a smile. “You humans have such a high opinion of yourselves.” She advanced too fast for the eye to follow, her voice never rising above a murmur. “‘We’re so clever,’ you tell yourselves.” Luna's fist hurtled towards Troya’s face, so fast she only managed to dodge through muscle memory. “‘So smart, so resilient.’” A gaunt shin dug into Troya’s side, followed by a fist to the helmet that sent her tumbling backwards. “‘We can do anything we set our mind to, even —’" Luna’s voice finally rose, shrieking with laughter “‘— walk on the Moon!’”

“Shut up.” Troya broke her fall, pounced back at Luna. “You’ll never understand what we’re capable of!”

“Oh?” Luna dodged Troya’s leap with a finesse unknown on Earth. “I’ve been watching your disgusting planet ever since I got trapped in its orbit, billions of years ago.” She snatched Troya in her arms as though she were a rag doll. “I saw your miserable ancestors crawl from the muck.” The spindly arms closed tight over Troya’s body. “I witnessed them form what you call ‘civilization.’” Troya squirmed in Luna’s grip, failed to escape its impossible strength. “What an extravagant name for such vanity, cruelty, foolishness. A trillion self-indulgent acts. And I will witness their end, too, when the last of your species perishes in the wasteland of your own creation. I will endure. I will outlast you.” Troya screamed as one of her ribs gave out. “You thought,” Luna whispered, “you really thought you could pit your feeble strength against mine?”

Naomi Ito’s smile flashed though Troya’s mind, and she remembered what her commander’s words. “Jiujitsu isn’t about being stronger.” Troya repeated. “It’s about using your opponent’s strength against them!” And Troya proved it, flipping Luna over with a skill she didn’t know she had. She took advantage of her opponent’s shock, maneuvering into the pin Reznick had taught her. “Now leave the Earth alone, or I’ll have to unleash my ultimate attack!”

Luna stared up at Troya contemptuously. “You think you’ve won? Even with your paltry skill, you can’t possibly hurt me.”

“I’m not here to beat you in martial arts. That was my friends’ job.” Troya leaned in close, so close her helmet nearly touched that pointy face. She still couldn’t quite believe it, but the hard part was already over. She knew she could handle the rest. “I was sent here to hex you.”

“What?”

“That’s right.” Troya’s eyes glowed with an eldritch light. “WitckTok sends its regards.”

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Pththya-lyi
Nov 8, 2009

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2020

May we meet in Valhalla

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