The Order of the Stick: Utterly Dwarfed
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  1. - Top - End - #121
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Xiander's Avatar

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    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    Sigh... I think I will have to throw in the towel. I have beenenjoying taking part in the challenge, but right now, I mostly want to work on projects that don't provide much in the way of actual text. I have been pushing off research and plotting, because I have limited time and I wanted to get my words down for the week.

    I will still be hanging out in here, and I hope you all have good fun challenging yourself, but I am goig to extract myself for the time being.

    Anyways, Happy creating to you all.
    Last edited by Xiander; 2018-12-19 at 03:22 AM.

  2. - Top - End - #122
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Lycunadari's Avatar

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    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    Status for December 10 to December 16!


    Lycunadari passes with one food picture, three pencil drawings and three beaded animals.

    jseah passes with 709 words for Hero's War and 845 words for Magic Book.

    Xiander is out.

    Thus nobody FAILs this round!

    Lycunadari and jseah PASS this round!


    Current standing:
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    Lycunadari
    Current run: 310 weeks
    Longest run: -
    Themes: -

    jseah
    Current Run: 149 weeks
    Longest Run: 33 weeks
    Themes: -


    -----
    I made two tiny lizards and a spider this week. (The stegosaurus was made after Sunday). Also, one food picture and three random drawings.


    Quote Originally Posted by Xiander View Post
    Sigh... I think I will have to throw in the towel. I have beenenjoying taking part in the challenge, but right now, I mostly want to work on projects that don't provide much in the way of actual text. I have been pushing off research and plotting, because I have limited time and I wanted to get my words down for the week.

    I will still be hanging out in here, and I hope you all have good fun challenging yourself, but I am goig to extract myself for the time being.

    Anyways, Happy creating to you all.
    Aw, that's to bad! But you have to do what's best for you and your creativity, so I wish you good luck with your other projects!

    Also, with 127 weeks passed you're on place 4 of all current and former participants, which is certainly an accomplishment! Congratulations! (And unless a very determined new person joins soon, you're going to stay at that place for a long time. )
    Last edited by Lycunadari; 2018-12-19 at 09:02 AM. Reason: forgot to update the list
    You can call me Juniper. Please use gender-neutral pronouns (ze/hir (preferred) or they/them) when referring to me.

    "We all are vessels of our brokenness, we carry it inside us like water, careful not to spill. And what is wholeness if not brokenness encompassed in acceptance, the warmth of its power a shield against those who would hurt us?" - R. Lemberg, Geometries of Belonging

    Stories

    Do you like writing? Drawing? Being creative? Come join the CHALLENGE!

  3. - Top - End - #123
    Troll in the Playground
     
    TheWombatOfDoom's Avatar

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    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    Quote Originally Posted by Lycunadari View Post
    Status for December 10 to December 16!


    Lycunadari passes with one food picture, three pencil drawings and three beaded animals.

    jseah passes with 709 words for Hero's War and 845 words for Magic Book.

    Xiander is out.

    Thus nobody FAILs this round!

    Lycunadari and jseah PASS this round!


    Current standing:
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    Lycunadari
    Current run: 310 weeks
    Longest run: -
    Themes: -

    jseah
    Current Run: 149 weeks
    Longest Run: 33 weeks
    Themes: -


    -----
    I made two tiny lizards and a spider this week. (The stegosaurus was made after Sunday). Also, one food picture and three random drawings.



    Aw, that's to bad! But you have to do what's best for you and your creativity, so I wish you good luck with your other projects!

    Also, with 127 weeks passed you're on place 4 of all current and former participants, which is certainly an accomplishment! Congratulations! (And unless a very determined new person joins soon, you're going to stay at that place for a long time. )
    Noooo! You knocked me out of 4th place! (awhile ago )
    Scientific Name: Wombous apocolypticus | Diet: Apocolypse Pie | Cuddly: Yes

    World Building Projects:
    Magic
    : The Stuff of Sentience | Fate: The Fabric of Physics | Luck: The Basis of Biology

    Order of the Stick Projects:
    Annotation of the Comic | Magic Compendium of the Comic | Transcription of the Comic
    Dad-a-chum? Dum-a-chum? Ded-a-chek? Did-a-chick?
    Extended Signature | My DeviantArt | Majora's Mask Point Race
    (you can't take the sky from me)

  4. - Top - End - #124
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Xiander's Avatar

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    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    Quote Originally Posted by TheWombatOfDoom View Post
    Noooo! You knocked me out of 4th place! (awhile ago )
    Maybe that was my goal the whole time

    Quote Originally Posted by Lycunadari View Post

    Aw, that's to bad! But you have to do what's best for you and your creativity, so I wish you good luck with your other projects!

    Also, with 127 weeks passed you're on place 4 of all current and former participants, which is certainly an accomplishment! Congratulations! (And unless a very determined new person joins soon, you're going to stay at that place for a long time. )
    I do feel proud of my streak, and I am happy for a lot of the things I wrote to keep it. But at this point, I feel like I am drifting between a lot of short stories, many of them unfinished, and I would really like to get back to working on my first book. I plan on rewriting it from scratch, using my first attempt as a vague outline. (I might soon need beta readers, if anyone can spare the time.)

    Thanks a lot for keeping me writing these two last years, I do really apreciate it.

  5. - Top - End - #125
    Troll in the Playground
     
    TheWombatOfDoom's Avatar

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    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    Quote Originally Posted by Xiander View Post
    Maybe that was my goal the whole time



    I do feel proud of my streak, and I am happy for a lot of the things I wrote to keep it. But at this point, I feel like I am drifting between a lot of short stories, many of them unfinished, and I would really like to get back to working on my first book. I plan on rewriting it from scratch, using my first attempt as a vague outline. (I might soon need beta readers, if anyone can spare the time.)

    Thanks a lot for keeping me writing these two last years, I do really apreciate it.
    That's kind of why I stopped the challenge myself. Good on you for recognizing your needs and addressing them. And its not like you can't come back!
    Scientific Name: Wombous apocolypticus | Diet: Apocolypse Pie | Cuddly: Yes

    World Building Projects:
    Magic
    : The Stuff of Sentience | Fate: The Fabric of Physics | Luck: The Basis of Biology

    Order of the Stick Projects:
    Annotation of the Comic | Magic Compendium of the Comic | Transcription of the Comic
    Dad-a-chum? Dum-a-chum? Ded-a-chek? Did-a-chick?
    Extended Signature | My DeviantArt | Majora's Mask Point Race
    (you can't take the sky from me)

  6. - Top - End - #126
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    914 words for AT x HP
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    Military Threat Assessment - Cielan
    TOP SECRET

    This document compares the military potential of the United States and the Cielans with a view towards military conflict. The effects of other countries are not considered and must be factored in in any potential military assessment.

    Tactical
    Melee weapons appear to be in use, but sophisticated armour materials are also present. Implies presence of melee weapons that can penetrate armour and are worthwhile to use as primary weapons.

    Cielan firearms have larger calibers, but as no live demonstrations have been observed, the differences can only be guessed at. However, as design does not appear to be significantly divergent, the role firearms play is likely to be familiar.

    Since melee weapons are sometimes used as primary weapons, it is clear that firearms are not dominant. A defensive or mobility enhancement is the most likely cause of this. Being able to move faster reduces the number of shots that need to be endured by range is closed, while defenses may allow bullet hits to be survived.

    Song Magic has unknown applications in combat. Range, ammunition and exhaustion limitations are unknown. However, the defensive formation the guards took up at the First Meeting is that of a single rank deep wall around the VIPs. In order to stop firearm attacks from reaching the VIPs, an area defensive application of Song Magic is almost certainly possible.

    How our weapons and armour compare with Cielan counterparts is also unknown, but the Cielan weaponry imply that they have armour that can render firearms no longer dominant in combat. It follows that United States infantry have weaker body armour than Cielan infantry. Melee weapon training for soldiers likely to come into conflict is recommended.

    It is not clear how United States and Cielan combat vehicles compare with each other. No recommendations can be made at this point.

    Cielan aircraft follow a completely different design philosophy. Their craft resemble lighter-than-air craft in usage and tactics, though without the volume vulnerability our lighter-than-air craft have. It is expected that Cielan aircraft carry much heavier armour and are much slower than United States aircraft. Stealth of Cielan aircraft is likewise poor, as their lower speeds and higher crews would allow physical spotters to be much more effective.
    Hit rates against Cielan aircraft will be high, but current air-to-air weaponry is likely to be less effective than desired. Refitting of anti-armour missiles for air-to-air combat is recommended.
    Cielan aircraft likely also carry more and larger weapons than American aircraft, have higher endurance and better resistance to damage.

    Strategic Weapons
    The freezing beam's range and usage limits are unknown. The beam has been observed to have a range of at least three hundred kilometers, able to remove heat energy on the scale of gigawatts. Whether this beam can target mobile ships, aircraft or land forces is unknown. The impact of the beam even over a short duration is likely to be comparable to a tactical nuclear weapon, with the possibility of damage reaching into the realms of strategic devices.

    The anti-meteoriod defence present on their stationary satellite may also be able to function as a strategic missile defence. Range, rate of fire and accuracy is unknown. However, the beam was noted to have shot down a weather satellite, a target of less than two meters across, in a single shot, over a range of 200 kilometers. If a strategic missile strike on the Tower is desired, a fire mission resulting in a synchronous time on target salvo of large size is recommended to overwhelm the defence.
    Success cannot be guaranteed. If the portrayed accuracy is indicative and no other strategic missile defence measures exist, any feasible time-on-target salvo of every strategic missile in the United States stockpile can be shot down if the weapon has a rate of fire of one second. Given an unknown rate of fire, ballistic missiles may never be able to penetrate or a single multi-warhead launch might be sufficient.

    The Tower itself is an obvious target for strategic weapons. Apart from the crystals underneath the floating continent, the Tower is almost certainly the core of the functionalities known. Weather control, strategic beam weapons, and possibly even holding the continent in the air, are all functions that the Tower likely performs. In the event of hostilities, capture or destruction of the Tower is likely to be the only sure method we have of ending such a war.

    Strategic Depth
    Cielan land area is small and observations of inhabited area is likewise also small. Population estimates of all Cielans present is between 1 million and 1 hundred million. The potential of their military industry is expected to parallel that of America, with all inhabited regions of the Tower and the Continents being a fully industrial economy or equivalent, adjusted for population size. Mineral resources on their continent is likely to be limited.

    The United States can almost certainly absorb greater losses than the Cielans can.

    Final Assessment
    There are too many unknowns to assess the chances of victory in conflicts of any scale between that of the United States and the Cielans.
    Cautiously, this assessment concludes that the United States is likely to win a military conflict with the Cielans due to its strategic depth; however any such victory could be immensely costly depending on the unknown variables.

    Military conflict is inadvisable until a clearer assessment can be made.

    Pentagon
    United States Department of Defence


    608 words for Hero's War
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    The rows of men and women marching out of the city were accompanied by the marching band. The drums, a bright blue uniform with a white stripe, the cheering civilians lining the streets, the Minmay Guards left on their expedition with a procession full of spectacle. This was the first contingent of Guards, veterans of the conflict with Duport and later at Fort Yang. They had just completed a rotation of rest and rearming, and had the best and latest in equipment the city could make for them.
    Though the very limited numbers of the Model 2 was reserved for the best snipers in the Guard, the first contingent had newly refurbished guns and grooved ammunition. Their marching order was interrupted by wagons carrying smaller scale portable spell cannons and disposable racks of magic bolt launchers, support weapons attached to them on a squad level that was in greater concentration than any other part of the army.
    As the Guards marched out of the city in ranks, the rows and rows of marching men and women seemed invincible to the cheering public. The uniform, the synchronized marching and the simple yet catchy marching songs from the contingent's drummers all contributed to a militaristic spirit that swept the public into a great fervour that had been unknown since the end of militarism with the formation of the Federation.
    More than that, the parade instilled a pride in their own city and region into the watchers, a feeling that the Guards were their work, that each of the citizens of Minmay had personally contributed to the defence of all. No one there had a name for that feeling but Cato and Morey would instantly identify it as the beginning of a national identity. A drawing of the scene was also commissioned by Aesin, to be printed in a special issue of the newspapers in Minmay, spreading the spirit as far as it would go.
    Overseen by the Chancellor, his wife, their daughter and their newborn son, surrounded by the cheering masses, the Minmay Guards themselves marched with vigor and soaring morale. They were marching off to defend their parents, siblings, children and friends, against a relentless and dangerous enemy. The cheers and appreciation reminded them that the people of Minmay supported the Guards.
    Yet, observers from Ektal and the Federation noted the organization, the way that the industrial power of Minmay was used to support the army. For that was what the Guard was. A professional army supplied with weapons, ammunition and food produced in an efficient mechanized production system, backed with a centralized political will and social unity.
    Amarante in particular, when she read the report weeks later, had immediately noted the changes to warfare that could result if a clash like that with Duport happened. The concept of total war, something that her parents and herself had done their best to bury in the bloody history of the past, had become possible again.

    Quite apart from the parade was the last part of the logistics train that was leaving Minmay with them. The small sea of carts carried their food, water containers, endless loads of spare parts and even a full metalworking workshop, complete with a set of standards, powered lathe and steam hammer. By the time the contingent reached Fort Yang, more would join them from the Central Territories.
    The roads east had been improved as part of the infrastructure upgrades necessitated by the steel trade going up the river Tine, so the Guards could make good time. Even so, the thousand strong Guards and another thousand of the expedition's support craftsmen did not move quickly.

  7. - Top - End - #127
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Lycunadari's Avatar

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    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    Status for December 17 to December 23!


    Lycunadari passes with one beaded animal, two portraits and three pencil dragons.

    jseah passes with 608 words for Hero's War and 914 words for AT x HP.


    Thus nobody FAILs this round!

    Lycunadari and jseah PASS this round!


    Congratulations to jseah for passing 150 weeks! Well done!

    Current standing:
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    Lycunadari
    Current run: 311 weeks
    Longest run: -
    Themes: -

    jseah
    Current Run: 150 weeks
    Longest Run: 33 weeks
    Themes: -


    -----
    Sorry for the late update, I got distracted by holidays and then my internet stopped working.
    You can call me Juniper. Please use gender-neutral pronouns (ze/hir (preferred) or they/them) when referring to me.

    "We all are vessels of our brokenness, we carry it inside us like water, careful not to spill. And what is wholeness if not brokenness encompassed in acceptance, the warmth of its power a shield against those who would hurt us?" - R. Lemberg, Geometries of Belonging

    Stories

    Do you like writing? Drawing? Being creative? Come join the CHALLENGE!

  8. - Top - End - #128
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Jun 2009

    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    628 for Hero's War, completing the chapter

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    They would take two weeks to reach Barin, where they would collect the summoners, and there the roads were back to the usual bad conditions.
    Cato sat on the cart, watching the supplies roll past in covered wagons. Landar and his cart containing the latest in magic detectors and a magic circle workshop had needed a wheel replacement so they were sitting here watching the logistics while the carpenter replaced the wheel.
    Cato recognized these wagons. Those were filled with the canned chokos with added yama syrup for sweetness. Since the northern area past the Snow Wall was a desert, Cato had raised concerns of scurvy being a possibility. Most of the food being transported were grains and dried meat after all. So Kalny had drawn up a special production series of canned chokos. As a dessert, the sweetened fruit would also help with morale, so the Guard had decided to add it to their diet, though sparingly.
    Landar however, was eyeing her set of carts with a much more dangerous look. The stacks of tubes hidden under the oiled cloths contained the second iteration of her incendiary rocket project. With much stricter quality control of the body, a specially built ball mill for grinding the fuel powders ever more finely, and spin stabilization of the rockets, Landar's rockets had reached a level of reliability that the Guards had allowed her to bring a set of a hundred along as an experimental artillery unit.
    Landar hummed to herself as she doodled ideas for warhead fuses. Cato could see her smile every time she glanced up at the rocket cart.
    "Are the rockets really that interesting?" Cato asked.
    Landar just nodded and continued humming as she surveyed the experimental results of the latest impact fuse design, drawing possible improvements on her notepad.
    A question occurred to Cato, if they were going to investigate the summoning stones, he needed to know what the summoners might need. Normally, summoners were self-contained weapons, which made them useful problem solvers. But with the advent of the overcharge training, they might not want to stop training while on a long campaign. And Cato had completely forgot to ask what they might need.
    "I wonder what additional logistics the summoners might require if they want to do training while on the move? Any ideas, Landar?"
    She ignored Cato's question. Or perhaps she was just distracting herself from thinking about how they were heading back to the Iris Clan shortly after leaving. Cato sighed, at least he had got Landar to stop pouting whenever her family was mentioned. Though making newer and ever more deadly weapons was a rather strange coping mechanism, Cato wouldn't have her any other way.
    Landar looked up as he ran a hand through her black ponytail. "Hm?"
    "It's nothing," Cato smiled. "Perhaps if you described the problem you are facing, it might help?"
    Landar smiled back. "Well, the original impact fuse design uses a spot of magic to detect when a large shock is received. And while it's very reliable, the problem is that the signal causes a short delay between the impact and the explosion. By the time the signal reaches the warhead, it has either cracked or scattered its contents into the small crater, so the bursting charge to spread the living fire around only makes a small plume in a random direction or is just completely useless. "
    Cato nodded. "Then how did the Guards approve your live testing?" he asked.
    "Well, for a large target like a zombie swarm, you don't need that much accuracy. So I used a time fuse and the usual disruption sensors. " Landar smiled beatifically, "the cone of fire the rocket make when detonating is simply beautiful!"


    With rewriting of previous work on the chapter totaling to 412 words.

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    "Furthermore, the bullet design has been refined, like a dart with fins to stabilize it without the need for rifling. This and the higher speed plus positioning the inertial enchantment onto the head allows the Model 2 to shoot more accurately. Though the bullets work even in the New Model gun, their production requires higher precision and is too limited to be used as general issue. "
    The man held up the gun and pointed to where the original loading spot was. Instead of a metal bar held closed with a spring, there was a gear-like wheel with teeth there and a bolt attached to a sliding base plate below the firing spot. "This here is inspired by Cato's description of revolvers, though obviously not the same. The trigger, when pulled, turns the ratchet above to drag the clip of bullets up by one position just before firing. The clips are small wooden strips that hold the bullets in the gun and can be reloaded simply by pushing the clip into the gun. Each clip holds ten bullets. "
    The man detached the straight block of metal below the loading spot to show the top bullet inside the rectangular chamber that held the ammo clip. Fixing it back into place, the trainer pulled the bolt forwards into firing position. He then pushed a clip of dart-like bullets into the gun, making sure the teeth of the gear caught on the holes in the wooden clip. He let the bolt stay open, inviting Cato and Curasym to view the mechanism and bullet.
    "Pulling the bolt backwards serves as a safety when a clip is loaded. The trigger will not be able to pull the next bullet upwards and thus the gun cannot fire. Alternately, it also moves the base plate to hold manually loaded bullets in place; if there is no clip, the ratchet is not engaged and the trigger can be pulled into firing position. Using this bolt and the ratchet, the Model 2 can be fired as fast as pulling the trigger. Allow me to demonstrate. "
    He checked the bolt before firing, almost out of habit. Bracing the gun against his shoulder and held up by his left hand, the trainer aimed down the range and fired with the characteristic supersonic crack. He corrected his aim and pulled the trigger again, though Cato noted the trigger action was much heavier than the original gun models when they were just a magical signal.


    600 for the unnamed wish book story
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    "Oh fine," I grab the pen, not quite sure where my irritation is coming from. Just as I'm about to write the wish, I pause to think. Is it really so bad? Being honest, David is the spitting image of my dreams when I was younger. But he's just being manipulated right? It's just fake. But there's no downside right? This is not some kind of Aesop where this always ends badly.
    "Alice? Hello?" Sinna brings me back with a concerned question. "You... can't be actually considering it? I mean, it was just a joke. Or do you really like him?"
    Ah. I've never been embarrassed so much before and now three times in a day? I think my cheeks might fall off at this rate. A joke? Just you wait.
    I pick up the pen and write swiftly. I wish Sinna to have an exciting romance. She recovers from her shock just a second too late and knocks the pen out of my hand. "What are you doing?!" she practically chokes when it becomes clear what I'm writing. But you started it. I know I'm being childish but there's just no way I can reverse that wish. I... I don't really know what to think anymore.
    She snatches for the pen but I hold her wrist. "Before that, just hypothetically, I would like to know who that would be for you?" I ask her. Must be someone she had a passing encounter with, since she doesn't know any boys besides her cousins. She blushes furiously, shakes my hand off and stares at the book with a twitch on her face.
    "That's... Not telling," she twitches uncomfortably for a while then drops the pen, "It's no use, I can't write it. "
    Mmm? This could be interesting! "If I had to guess based on the potential for drama, could it be David?" I ask, hoping I get it wrong. That would be... ugh, I don't know. Just not nice.
    "No! Not him. I can't stand to be around him!" she practically snaps at me. That's about as angry as she ever got. What a change, from being fine with him only a few minutes ago. I look at her more closely to try and get some clues but she just blushes more and dives into her bed, taking refuge under the blankets.
    It's a long moment as we both think things over for a while. My, today was really weird huh? And to think I'm being so... stupid and... well, I hate to admit it, but I was being really petty there. Perhaps I should just reverse the wish for her, that would be best. Then she can do it for me afterwards and it'll just be something to laugh over.
    Can I really accept that? Apart from me, it's the perfect chance for Sinna to start getting used to other people. And how would she feel if I reversed it? I can't even write my own, how can I inflict that on her? Or is this just an excuse so I don't get to reverse my own wish? Argh, I can't think my way around all that.
    "You know, Sinna," I laugh with a touch of resignation, there's no way out, the wishes can't be reversed. "I think we learned something a bit too late. "
    "What?" She squirms under the sheets and pokes her head out.
    "There are some wishes you can't undo. "

  9. - Top - End - #129
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Lycunadari's Avatar

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    Status for December 24 to December 30!

    Happy new year!


    Lycunadari passes with nine nature photos.

    jseah passes with 628 words for Hero's War, 412 rewritten words and 600 words for an unnamed story.


    Thus nobody FAILs this round!

    Lycunadari and jseah PASS this round!


    Congratulations to me for passing 6 years!


    Current standing:
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    Lycunadari
    Current run: 312 weeks
    Longest run: -
    Themes: -

    jseah
    Current Run: 151 weeks
    Longest Run: 33 weeks
    Themes: -


    -----

    Pictures! I was experimenting a bit with b/w photography.
    You can call me Juniper. Please use gender-neutral pronouns (ze/hir (preferred) or they/them) when referring to me.

    "We all are vessels of our brokenness, we carry it inside us like water, careful not to spill. And what is wholeness if not brokenness encompassed in acceptance, the warmth of its power a shield against those who would hurt us?" - R. Lemberg, Geometries of Belonging

    Stories

    Do you like writing? Drawing? Being creative? Come join the CHALLENGE!

  10. - Top - End - #130
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    1242 words for Inherited Memory Girl
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    Petra looked around the room, the stunned silence deafening. The terrorists were still lying on the ground, her fatal Skillshare beeping away above them, happily destroying their minds one loading bar at a time. And if everyone was affected...
    Did she just accidentally destroy the world?
    Petra looked down at the terrorists again. The smell of the broken plaster mingled with the sweet drinks of the party and the stench of fear, leaving a choking haze that gripped her throat.
    One mistake, one underestimation, one all too clever scheme...
    No. Petra looked up at Skill Share's employees. They were looking at her, confusion and disbelief in their eyes, yes. But also hope, though unjustified.
    She... Petra really was the nearest thing to a Great Person, wasn't she? Petra had never felt the weight of responsibility that came with the august title any more than now. One researcher ends the world and everyone looks to her to fix it.
    They were silent for a few moments more before Petra finally nodded. "Get their weapons and restrain them. I'll try to undo the damage but we don't know what these terrorists will be like once they wake up. "
    The men and women in the conference room sprang into action. Aldar came up, wringing his hands beside her. "Is that going to help?"
    Petra shook her head. "It won't help, but better than panic from having nothing to do. Keep them busy Aldar, maybe ask them to finish Skill Share. The number crunching should be done in a few hours. "
    "How do you intend to fix... this?"
    Good question. She had no idea.
    No, she had to break things down into steps. Consider this whole situation and how a simple Module Developer might solve it. Just like how she had analyzed the problem of making Skill Share.


    <Database Backup activated, installing>

    Petra blinked. What?
    Database was huge and the installer was creeping along, but Petra killed the process hastily. She watched as every one of the employees of Skill Share, busy finalizing the Skill Share module or checking weapons and the building, also sported a similar module installation window. It did not respond to attempts to close it and killing the process caused the installation to restart.
    Petra idly force closed the second installation attempt.
    No, haste was going to make things worse. Where was this coming from?! Petra returned to her Administrator panel and tried to back trace the System network address of the installer. Helped along by the active download, she had traced it back to the source in record time.
    It had the same network route as the Database server but a different address and different authentication. It used some unknown method to install Database modules in everyone's Record without any intervention. Someone was exploiting a different loophole in System itself!
    Petra gulped as she deregistered the new address, killing the download, only to find yet another popping up. It happened too quickly, it had to be some form of automated system, but why was Database made to be auto-restoring, with a zero day System exploit no less? No, there was someone who was fanatical enough about his work that he might just do it...
    Petra massaged her temples as she realized the identity of only person who could do this. Rottheim was the only person who could make it happen.
    Rottheim, the idiot. Did he think that if the government somehow wanted to censor Database, he could prevent it?
    She didn't know what exploit Rottheim was using, in fact Petra had not been aware of any zero-days before today.
    From the fact that the server route was staying the same, the Database copies were stationary, which either meant Rottheim didn't figure it was necessary to make caches elsewhere or that part was meant to be manually distributed and the people who were meant to perform that function were conveniently crazy.
    Petra sighed, she could write a patch and try to quarantine the System node around Database or just add a patch to some universal module that continually killed any module recognized to have the Database pattern, like a makeshift military Record Counter Measures meant to prevent hostile intrusions into one's Record.
    But if that Database was going to continually try to distribute itself, it could have been programmed to try to get around the usual counter measures and Petra was not versed in this sort of fight. Not even against an automated program and who knew how long Rottheim had to prepare this 'failsafe'? The only sure method would be to disconnect Database physically from the System. Take down the System node that serviced the server and Database would be sealed until a Database Administrator, if any survived, could roll it back to an earlier version.
    Petra was about to call for an aircar but a flare beyond the horizon put an end to that thought.
    A flare brighter than the sun, one that cut through the glass skylights of the Skill Share main office building to cast harsh shadows across the walls. The flash died away, leaving only dark spots dancing across her vision. Then another flash and another.
    A scene out of nightmares, one that no one had ever expected. A full superweapon exchange.
    One that was Petra's fault. The lowly module developer with great dreams that was Petra had not considered that the Skill Share crisis might have looked like an Esoteric-type superweapon. Record affecting effects had similar symptoms, and really, was it any different?
    The loud bangs rolled over them, one after another, like staccato beats that heralded the end of times.
    Over the horizon, the spire that dominated the sky, the Space Tower, cracked in a flash of light. As if hit by the hammer blow of a god, colossal chunks sprayed out from the impact with deceptive slowness. The Tower leaned, cracking into huge mountain sized pieces and began to fall. It could take hours. It could destroy everything along the line of impact.
    This really was the end of the world. From her mistake. It was also the end of any hopes of somehow engineering a solution to separate the corrupted memories and recover the affected.
    No matter how hard that task might have been before, it was going to be impossible without the infrastructure of modern civilization.
    How ironic then, that the tradition of siting module servers outside population centers was going to save her. As well as make her task near impossible.
    Petra looked down at the System windows, the Database distribution was busily trying to route its way to her through an increasingly frayed network. No. It did not change what she had to do. Petra might not be able to fix her mistake, but she was able to at least prevent Database from mindlessly killing every last person on the planet. Writing a patch for Skill Share employees was a matter of minutes, sealing Database was going to take considerably longer.
    They were going to have to make a trek across a mind-zombie infested, devastated wasteland to Database, a hundred kilometers away.
    Petra wondered how she was going to convince her colleagues to join her on what sounded like an arduous quest fit for an ancient epic and not the comfortable expectation of a modern woman. That Petra had to do this, she did not question.


    511 words for Shattered Alliance
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    "So... we are tasked to destroy some Antagonist corrupted units that don't even have powered weapons?" Kokie asked. "We're Explorers on a combat load out, you know?"
    "Demi-humans. They only claimed those 'goblins' were Antagonist corrupted," Ana sniffed, "I doubt they even know what that means. "
    "It's because of politics. Not all of the locals are convinced of our claimed abilities. " Katie clarified, "and yes, we need to assess the target to be sure we're not being used outside the bounds of the treaty. Still, no matter how apparently simple the target is, we will do this by the book. Subsonic overflight with full scan to assess the situation. Static target, possibly unshielded, fire mission to follow. "
    The Flight was heading out to some fort occupied by demihumans at the edge of the country's territory. Normally goblins were a low level 'quest', easily killed by even the local sword and bow armed infantry. But these had built up into a small horde and were threatening a nearby village.
    "All right, one overflight coming up. " Kokie complained as they flew over the fort. Compared to the hypersonic atmospheric entry, this flight was considerably quieter. At high elevation and low thrust, even Ana's noisy thrusters were only audible as a quiet rumble at ground level.
    They released their sensors for a full exposure time then circled while assessing the readings.
    "Yep, unshielded as expected," Kokie said, "no Esoterics. Some unfocused local magic hanging around but no significant effects expected. Only light chemical fuel detected, no nuclear reactions, no high energy magic. "
    "You can say it's just a bonfire," Ana grumbled.
    Katie tried to get them back on task with a simple question. "Targets?"
    "Forty four humanoid signatures, a hundred and six small scale warm bodies, organic plant matter... hooo, I think we just got evidence of the Antagonist influenced behaviour. " Kokie whistled as he shot over a scan result to Katie and Ana. "Those two are captive humans in that extended cave system in the cliff behind the fort. And well..."
    Ana frowned, "is that right?"
    "Most demi-humans are speciated from normal humans, so reproductive behaviour towards non-similar species doesn't make sense. I bet these goblins were Antagonist engineered cannon fodder or something similar. "
    The three of them held silence for a moment to digest the revelation.
    Katie sighed, "alright then, looks like we found a use for that cannon of yours, Ana. "
    The woman grinned at her flight leader, always the pyromaniac.
    Katie nodded, "we're going to try to clear the area of hostiles and rescue the captives. Fire mission for targets outside the cave system. Ana, minimum yield, one second burn at the outer walls. Adjust yield if damage insufficient then use coherent emission at targets of opportunity. Kokie, you're with me, mass accelerator at minimum yield on exposed targets, target list attached. "
    She glanced at the two subordinates and saw they understood. Well, this was a trivial task after all. "Fire mission starts on my mark... mark!"

  11. - Top - End - #131
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Lycunadari's Avatar

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    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    Status for December 31 to January 6!


    Lycunadari passes with two nature photos, two pencil portraits and two ink drawings.

    jseah passes with 1242 words for Inherited Memory Girl and 511 words for Shattered Alliance.


    Thus nobody FAILs this round!

    Lycunadari and jseah PASS this round!



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    Lycunadari
    Current run: 313 weeks
    Longest run: -
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    jseah
    Current Run: 152 weeks
    Longest Run: 33 weeks
    Themes: -

    You can call me Juniper. Please use gender-neutral pronouns (ze/hir (preferred) or they/them) when referring to me.

    "We all are vessels of our brokenness, we carry it inside us like water, careful not to spill. And what is wholeness if not brokenness encompassed in acceptance, the warmth of its power a shield against those who would hurt us?" - R. Lemberg, Geometries of Belonging

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  12. - Top - End - #132
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
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    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    And let's not forget to post, mhm?

    920 words for Hero's War
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    Many histories of the period focus on the innovations brought to the world by Cato Lois. The impact of even his limited knowledge, when planted in the fertile seedbed of the guild-based manufacturing industries, cannot be understated. However, it is the opinion of this author that far beyond the raw improvements brought by better materials, machines and magic, the improvements in the organization of people and practices is of equal or even larger importance than that of the actual technologies themselves. This was often overlooked even during that tumultuous time, even by Cato himself.
    The period documents many innovations in organizations. Before, the guilds functioned as collective bargaining structures for craftsworkers, with the most organized also providing training and limited support. Sales was disorganized, supply was another guild with sometimes hostile relationships. The pre-modern corporate structures that were introduced, of the systematization of production that permitted workers with little training, of a unification of the sales, production and innovation processes, all that provided the base for eroding bottlenecks in the process of turning the raw materials into saleable products.
    With the guilds, a piece of iron ore might sit for months before being processed and later sit for yet more months waiting for an order for some iron tool before being sold into the user's hands. Post-Purge firms had input to output delays of less than a month, exceptional cases, especially in steel and magic, were sometimes less than a week. And this would only improve with the later introduction of long range communication and Just-In-Time principles.
    The introduction of nation-wide transport networks, unified law enforcement and a centralized tax structure that brought down legal barriers to trade and allowed the provision of resources from all across the Federation. Before, that piece of iron ore might be mined out of the ground in one province, sold to a merchant who had to pax taxes, transported across three different provinces, each with their own tax, legal and commercial barriers, and eventually brought to a city to be sold to the Ironworkers guild. More than half the time, the iron ore was waiting to pass those barriers and sitting idle while negotiations were conducted and further transport found.
    After the establishment of the Minmay political hegemony within the region, most of those barriers vanished along with the destruction of the special interests that resulted in them. The same iron ore was now transported in convoys or over rivers and did not stop until they reached the outskirts of the city itself, whereupon they would be transferred to Minmay Ironworker company's furnaces, as the centralized law and tax allowed the ore to be purchased by that company before it was even dug out of the ground!
    Similarly, the unified currency, though still on a gold and silver standard, along with the sea of 'production notes' issued by those companies, allow trade to flourish on a never before seen scale. While there was no modern floating currency and central financial authority did not exist, the effect of purging the shadow wars conducted with mercenaries by the guilds allowed a stability to rise from the growing financial power of the firms. Eventually, their promises of shares of their production or investment came to be respected to the extent that some of them functioned as de facto currencies, if not de jure with the later rules for financial trading. They were traded and counted as favours between those companies needing them.
    All this brought down the barriers to production, reducing the time delay between demand and supply and creating an environment that allowed the much celebrated innovation to flourish. Without these changes to the society and economy, it is doubtful that Cato's scientific efforts would have yielded as much progress as it did.
    It is of much irony then that despite the emphasis and effort spent on Cato's scientific and engineering innovations, most of these other important innovations resulted from simple letters, unofficial meetings or even just an expressed underlying assumption of Cato's that was later implemented by businessmen or politicians. Or were introduced almost accidentally, as is the case of the financial currencies.
    The epitome of this lack of emphasis was in the organization of companies. Rather than starting with the changes of the law post-Purge, the corporate structures had already begun forming months before that failed uprising. A company that provisioned military supplies had been the recipient of Cato's advice on the canning process for some time and its changes in internal structure had begun long before everyone else copied them. The sparse records of the company indicate an increasing centralization of decision making power and streamlining of internal processes as the letter exchange with Cato continued, growing first from the research arm as demands for results put on ever increasing time pressure, and later into the manufacturing and sales.
    The letters themselves also change over time, where the initial innovations were described as expensive side projects or new development, while later research efforts became a core corporate activity, supported by manufacturing and supply links to partner companies.
    These changes were mirrored to different extents in other companies of the time. Rather than celebrated and remembered with the push for standardization, the massive rise in magical complexity and the improvements in machine power, these innovations were introduced quietly, forming a silent change in 'the way things worked' that is poorly reflected in official accounts.

    - A Economic History of the Early Expansion


    728 for Inherited Memory Girl
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    Chesther ascended the last steps to the Core Room. Windowless, with thick walls of Flame-fused granite and a solid steel door, the Core Room was the most well defended place in the compound of the Fire Clan of Naivi.
    It was this place that held the center of their power, the reason why their clan was strong and none dared to cross them lightly.
    Chesther glanced at the body laid out on the altar, surrounded by four burning braizers kept alight by her cousins, a constant stream of flame pouring from their hands into the steel bowls. The air weighed down on her, the heat in the closed room crushing her down despite the innate resistance of the Fire line of sorcerers.
    "We were ready to begin, you are late. " Ito chided her gently.
    "Unavoidable," she replied curtly.
    "Tos Clan?"
    Chesther nodded in answer to his question. The four Keyholders to the Repository of Fragments sighed.
    Her grandfather's body laid on the block of dark stone, appearing frail and weak in death. It was still hard to believe he was gone not two days ago, but reality could not be denied.
    Chesther looked left and right at each pair of sorcerers manning the braziers. With another nod, she started the ceremony.
    A well-practiced flick of her hands along with the all finger fist for zero range sent a short spray of fire over her grandfather's body. The four cousins similarly tilted their bowls, pouring a river of liquid fire towards the altar. The body vanished in a perfect combustion, the heated air and smoke vanishing upwards through the chimney. Chesther adamantly ignored the smell.
    Leaving on the single reddish crystal where the head had lain, fallen into the depression carved on the altar to catch it.
    Her grandfather had been larger than life in many ways, not least in his personal power. The crystal was nearly the size of a finger. He deserved to be honoured more than this, but as needs must.
    The now leader of the Naivi placed the patriach's Potential fragment into the pool beyond the altar. The huge crystal stood out from the pearly balls sitting amongst the powder grains. The grains had increased since the last time she had been in here, her cousins had been busy collecting the grains of civilians.
    They were almost not worth the effort but enough grains of sand could build mountains and Naivi was in no position to quibble about any source of power.
    "Your contribution to the clan leaves us stronger," Chesther said solemnly before immediately withdrawing the crystal.
    "Chesther?" Ito asked.
    "We have no choice. The Earth Clan of Tos are probing for weakness in the wake of grandfather's death. Even our supposed ally Timone is sniffing around. I need the power if my leadership is to be uncontestable. "
    It was almost against tradition to use her grandfather's Potential fragment immediately after depositing it, but there was no rule against it. It just hadn't needed to be done before.
    The Keyholders looked at each other before reluctantly nodding their assent. Not that just having more fragments would resolve the situation, each fragment could expand a person's maximum Potential limit but not their regeneration. Additional storage did not help if your expenditure was higher than your generation. But if you demonstrated a high limit, the potential for you having reserve power in case of disaster was a threat that enemies could not take lightly.
    Ever since her grandfather had started to get old, their clan had started to wane in power. That was what resulted in Lochar's semi-exile after all. And now that he was gone, the Tos would start to press claims on their territory harder. Really, that gang of thieving cats deserved everything that was coming to them.
    Chesther slotted her grandfather's crystal into the container worn around her neck. Without needing to glance at the System, she knew her Potential limit had more than doubled, the sudden sense of emptiness was already telling her that. It would go away once she filled up her Potential, that sensation was just her gift of fire telling her she was half empty.
    "Make use of his gift. "
    Chesther smiled at Ito's comment. "Don't worry, I will. "
    The Tos would regret crossing her.

  13. - Top - End - #133
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Lycunadari's Avatar

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    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    Status for January 7 to January 13!


    Lycunadari passes with five snowy nature photo and one digital portrait.

    jseah passes with 728 words for Inherited Memory Girl and 920 words for Hero's War.


    Thus nobody FAILs this round!

    Lycunadari and jseah PASS this round!



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    Lycunadari
    Current run: 314 weeks
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    jseah
    Current Run: 153 weeks
    Longest Run: 33 weeks
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    -----

    My sister won a drawing tablet in an art contest and because she already has a better one, she gave it to me. So now I can learn how to do digital art. Here's my first attempt at a digital portrait. And here are the obligatory nature pics, this time with snow!


    Quote Originally Posted by jseah View Post
    And let's not forget to post, mhm?
    I can't tell if you're calling out yourself or if it's a reminder for me to not forget the status post. Let's say both.
    Last edited by Lycunadari; 2019-01-17 at 12:40 PM. Reason: got the date wrong
    You can call me Juniper. Please use gender-neutral pronouns (ze/hir (preferred) or they/them) when referring to me.

    "We all are vessels of our brokenness, we carry it inside us like water, careful not to spill. And what is wholeness if not brokenness encompassed in acceptance, the warmth of its power a shield against those who would hurt us?" - R. Lemberg, Geometries of Belonging

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    Do you like writing? Drawing? Being creative? Come join the CHALLENGE!

  14. - Top - End - #134
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    excellent, any tips?

  15. - Top - End - #135
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
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    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    Barely squeaking by.

    1002 words for unnamed wish book
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    I wake up early the next morning having gone to sleep early because we couldn't stand the awkwardness around each other. Sinna is still asleep as I dress for school but there's no need to wake her since it's still an hour too early to go.
    Yes, her alarm is set on time. Her relaxed sleeping face has a small smile, perhaps she's dreaming about the person she... well, the person that I made her like using that wish. At least it is good for her to get to know more people and this could give her the chance to overcome her shyness. About how neither of us can reverse the wish now... I don't quite want to think about.
    No point worrying about it, the sky is bright and the blossoming cherry trees on the way to school are beautiful enough to distract me. Whatever happens will be fine by me. Nothing could possibly be wrong with such good weather.
    Or maybe there is. I enter the front lobby of the school an hour early and am about to go to class when I spot David. He's standing around the corner of the staircase looking down at his shoes, obviously waiting for someone. That... that person couldn't possibly be me right? There's no way he would normally be waiting for someone so plain... but there's the book. And here I am, one hour early before school, for no good reason. That really is too much to be a coincidence.
    "Ah, why are you here?" Oh shoot, David spotted me. "It's an hour before school opens you know?"
    I fidget, not quite sure how to answer. Telling him that a book made this chance meeting not quite so coincidental would make him think I'm crazy. But this is all fake right? This overwhelming feeling I get from him, invading my thoughts. He smiles non-chalantly... oh, I just can't think straight with him looking at me like that. Don't... look... please? I can't stand it anymore.
    "I suppose you couldn't sleep either? Well, days like that happen and with such nice weather, I can understand why anyone would get up early," he says more to himself than to me. Argh, why do you have to be so cool?
    No! Get ahold of yourself, Alice! Are you going to end up as one of those fangirls that are always hanging onto him? That's... just too stupid.
    "I'm going to class first, getting up early is not my thing. " How much more stupid an excuse can I give? But I said it, so I just have to get going.
    "Do you want a practice session in tennis? I can teach you today after school if you're free. "
    Am I hearing things? He just offered to teach me tennis! Personally! I... but this is wrong, I can't just accept something that is fake like this. He doesn't really like me, it's the fault of the book. I force myself to reply.
    "I.. I'll come. " Ah, what did I just say? I can feel my cheeks on fire. This can't be true! I... just said yes. No! This is too much for me, I don't want him to see me like this. But I should have said no! The classroom door stops me dead. I really ran then. But it doesn't change the fact that I said yes. It really shouldn't make me happy. It should not! The book can really be very devious. Or did I, somewhere, really did wish that someone like David could be my prince? No no, I, Alice, could never hold such a dream, haven't I thought it too far for me? Haven't I already thrown away those childhood fancies? It's all the fault of that book. I don't really want this.
    A quiet voice inside my head nags. Then why didn't you reverse that wish?

    Get out of my head, you have no right to be in here David. I even managed to make a mistake on the complex numbers question. Ah, but I'm going to be seeing him after school, there's no point in chasing him out if he's going to sneak back in.
    "Hello? It's lunch already. "
    I jerk out of my daze in surprise. Yumi taps her chopsticks on her lunchbox with a grin. Whoa, when did she get here? Sinna is here too and you'll frighten her!
    Sinna mutters shyly, "Math ended just now. You've been staring at your lunch for some time. "
    Yumi sighs and waves her chopsticks, "You need to get over that shyness of yours someday Sinna. I might not be as close as the two of you but you can't expect to get through life that way. "
    Ah, there she goes again. While Yumi is a casual friend of mine, and Sinna tolerates her, they've never really spoken outside of lunch. I catch myself just before nodding in agreement. Sinna might not like it.
    "Still, I smell something up today," Yumi suddenly points at me with the pair of chopsticks, "you've been out of it since this morning, it can't be... you got a boyfriend?"
    I purposefully keep my expression blank even after I recover from my shock. She's can be annoyingly sharp at times. I'll just keep quiet...
    "No way! Really?" She leans forward, eyes glittering. At Sinna. I glance over and see her staring at the ceiling too transparently. Sinna backs away, turning red, under Yumi's assault.
    I put out a hand, "Don't do that to her, you'll just frighten her. "
    Yumi pouts a little and immediately recovers, turning to me, "So, who is it?"
    That... can't be directed at me, right? I fidget involuntarily. No, stay down, bad thoughts! "Not... Not telling. "


    507 for Inherited Memory Girl
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    Alice stamped the last block onto the soft clay, taking care to align the connection between the previous rune and the new one. Using the absence of material to designate a rune was just as possible as the presence of material, which made stamping runes into shapeable clay much faster and more accurate than hand drawing them with ink.
    Getting those blocks was an effort in avoiding suspicion. They were too many and too sophisticated to pass off as a children's game but had no apparent use Alice could explain without giving away her secret. And judging by how Lochar was hoarding the fertilization artifacts Alice had made, exposing Alice's past knowledge would not be a good idea.
    Her father was adamant that she would only be exploited by Lochar's clan.
    Alice looked up from her clay tablets as the door clattered.
    "Father!" she grinned as the old hunter came back to their home. She could tell from his look that the hunt was successful.
    "I got one," he said after collapsing tiredly onto the stool at the table. He placed the small blood red crystal onto the table.
    The Potential storage crystal of a monster. While Rishiamaher could store and generate more Potential than the rest of her family, the Potential of unaugmented civilians was pitiful. Barely enough to run their local Systems in fact.
    That crystal in the war wisps now called monsters was a lump that, while not as strong as those sorcerers, was significant enough to store enough Potential for greater things. Getting even a single one of those was a major risk, if not impossible, for a single civilian.
    The long rod that her father was now setting in the corner of the kitchen was the reason why he could even hunt one of those. Alice had taken the storage crystal of the old man Zack when he had died two years ago, secretly and in the night after cajoling her father for months. The tiny sand grain was embedded into the rod that served as the guide rail for a kinetic launcher.
    That single sand grain could store enough Potential to fire one shot, propelling a pre-made metal bullet to far past hypersonic speeds. But that one shot was all they got to kill a monster.
    It could also kill Lochar and just about anyone else in a single hit too. In fact, the bullet would easily go through the fragile wooden walls that the houses here were made of. Having a backup weapon that could kill sorcerers in case of the worst was how Alice had finally convinced her father to dig up the man's grave. Needless to say, having the weapon was also a deadly secret.
    Her father looked at Alice across from the red crystal on the table, towards the wall of clay tablets lined up behind Alice.
    "What is all this for?" he asked.
    She grinned up at him with all the innocence of a ten year old's missing teeth. "Bootstrapping. "

  16. - Top - End - #136
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Lycunadari's Avatar

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    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    Status for January 14 to January 20!


    Lycunadari passes with 8 nature photos.

    jseah passes with 507 words for Inherited Memory Girl and 1002 words for a unnamed wish book.


    Thus nobody FAILs this round!

    Lycunadari and jseah PASS this round!



    Current standing:
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    Lycunadari
    Current run: 315 weeks
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    Current Run: 154 weeks
    Longest Run: 33 weeks
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    -----

    Pics pics pics!
    You can call me Juniper. Please use gender-neutral pronouns (ze/hir (preferred) or they/them) when referring to me.

    "We all are vessels of our brokenness, we carry it inside us like water, careful not to spill. And what is wholeness if not brokenness encompassed in acceptance, the warmth of its power a shield against those who would hurt us?" - R. Lemberg, Geometries of Belonging

    Stories

    Do you like writing? Drawing? Being creative? Come join the CHALLENGE!

  17. - Top - End - #137
    Ogre in the Playground
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    2122 for Hero's War

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    Clatter clatter bump.
    Cato watched Landar sigh up at the sky as the cart rolled onward.
    "It doesn't feel like we're on an expedition," Cato muttered.
    "Mmm..." Landar shrugged.
    Bump clatter.
    All around them, the slow but continuous footsteps of the column of Guards and Iris retainers continued the march northwards. The Iris group however had their own carts and carriages, along with servants to keep the rekis in line.
    It would be a scene of aristocratic luxury if not for the fact that each of those Iris servants were also lower ranking clan members and were able to use summoning stones in their own right.
    "Why not have some tea to pass the time?"
    The gentle voice drew no reaction from either of them. After all, Cato had been hearing Landar's mother trying to fuss over her every day since they left the Iris compound. Even he had given up reacting to each and every one of her attempts to get Landar to talk to her father.
    It did not help that Yan insisted on continuing his training even during the travel. Even now, Yan was sitting in a large basin of water with an Iris servant keeping him wet.
    Cato looked up at the cart immediately behind his and saw the bare chested figure of Landar's father. The stream of water dripping onto his back was blown off in clouds of condensation by cold air fans that kept his lethal overcharge fever to a comfortable level. And even Cato's vague undeveloped magic sense could feel the power from the massive enchanted iron plate Yan was sitting on, slowly drawn up into the Iris patriach to maintain the overcharge.
    Yup, still at it. The glow of light dancing under his skin was also another product of the investigations and charting of training methods. While not as revolutionary as the overcharge training, it was found that performing the Light creating training within the body improved the rate of power gain by as much as twenty percent. Kupo had suggested as much when she hypothesized that the Light creating training was forcing the body to concentrate magical energy into a smaller amount of magic density, effectively forcing the magic into a higher energy state. Performing the training inside the body increased the amount of flesh exposed to the high energy level. Kupo was more concerned by the direct confirmation of magic energy generation being linked to bits of the body, but the Iris were all over the increased training efficiency.
    As might be expected, Kupo and the bunch from Pastora attached to the expedition as doctors were keenly observing the training. This time, they were trying out simultaneous overcharge, Light creation and magical control training all at once. It needed constant meditative focus and an external power supply to keep the overcharge while the trainee's magic was in use, but the time saving of a continuous training method that also worked to improve casting speed was something the Iris really liked, no matter how impractical.
    Cato wished he could do something like that just to pass the time. Being on expedition was mostly very boring while he rode or walked from place to place.
    Once Landar and Cato had run through the notes and finished writing most of the 'software' for the second generation magic circle, they had sent the notes and diagrams back to Minmay using Ka. Ka could not transport the completed prototype back however, so they would have to wait for weeks to be able to progress further.
    Landar's mother spent her time preparing food and chatting to the clan people. Yan filled his time with training.
    Landar sighed again and sipped at the cup that her mother pressed into her hands.
    "Ah, I wish I could use the rockets as fireworks," she muttered.
    Cato pretended not to hear that.

    The sandy hills eventually revealed the clump of zombies Enay was leading them towards. The zombies were up and moving again, this time towards Kobel now that his group was close enough to attract the zombies away from the main army. Meanwhile Kobel's group had ridden for hours, they and their rekis were tired and only the crest of the hill was blocking them from being harassed by light beams.
    "Darn those zombies," Kobel cursed. It seemed the new light beam behaviour had spread to every group now, they no longer wasted their shots against the side of a convenient hill or trench. Which meant that if Kobel's group tried to charge, the one shooter that was present would start killing people, and they couldn't even wait for the beam to be charging before popping up to fire back.
    He deeply regretted bringing only three portable mist shields and no knights who could cast one.
    Kobel glanced over the rest of his platoon, thirty humans and fukas combined, all of them looking to him for instructions.
    "Enay, use a shield and take a look over the crest. I need to know how close they are. The rest of you, ready bayonets and grenades. "
    The zombies were getting closer and trading shots at long range would only cause casualties. The other scouting bands had found out the hard way that zombie shooters were now about as accurate as a Model 2 and in fact out ranged bowguns entirely. The new model gun, now also called the Model 1, was on par with zombie light beams for accuracy and zombies were far tougher to bullets than humans were to burning. Fuka Ems were also no defence.
    Better to use the crest and take the zombies in melee. With luck, the shooter wouldn't get more than a single shot off.
    Enay readied the open frame of metal in the shape of a shield, turning the surface into a shimmering waterfall of Mist magical material. Thus protected, he pushed the shield over the edge of the crest and peeked around the side.
    "They're charging. " Kobel nodded at the report, the slapping sound of feet on sandy ground was quite telling. "They'll be here in half a minute at most. "
    "Keep an eye out. All right, bring up the rekis too. "
    At his command, each of the riders whistled to their rekis. Smart as the mounts were, they understood the signal for ambush. The rekis rushed up to their human partners and crouched beside the scouts in a line. The soft growls and bared teeth signaled their readiness to fight alongside their human masters.
    "Set guns to inertia. " The order drew questioning looks but they obeyed. Inertia enchanted bullets were ridiculously deadly but didn't work against the zombie's black mist. And a squad that had a shooter also had that protection.
    Enay's shield flashed once as the shooter discharged a shot in his direction. Save for a flinch, Kobel's scout was unharmed. "Here in 5," Enay said, scrambling back towards the line.
    "Grenades, number one!" Kobel shouted and six fire shells lobbed over the crest. There was a gout of flame shooting upwards. "Ready, fire as they come!"
    Then first zombies, still on fire, crested the hill and immediately blew apart as most of the squad sent bullets their way. Like Kobel had hoped, the black mist surrounding the zombies was busy dealing with the fire and the inertia bullets tore into them viciously.
    "Charge!"
    And the whole squad, glinting bayonets in hand and war cries on their lips, went forwards the short few meters to the top of the hill. Ahead of them was the rekis, yelps of excitement as they charged ahead of the humans and fukas. Right on time into the zombies coming up behind the first doomed line. The zombie shooter fired once, the lead reki's head exploding into a shower of boiling blood and gore. Then they were into a whirlwind of tooth and steel against deathly strength.
    Kobel slashed, stabbed and kicked with a fury, the one Em he knew lending his arms strength enough to punch his bayonet clean through his target's chest. The zombie reki snapped at him but the long metal barrel of his gun kept the impaled zombie away. With a bang, his loaded bullet blew its head off and Kobel whirled to block another zombie's grasping hands with the gun. He didn't get to retaliate, his trusty mount bowled it over with a bark and tore the human zombie in half with its hindlegs.
    In a few seconds, the melee was over. Scattered around were chunks of zombies, already being tossed and kicked into the burning pyres of living fire splattered on the down slope. Kobel panted, letting the Em drain away from his arms. The last of the zombies went under a pile of rekis, torn to shreds mercilessly.
    A quick mental headcount put them at light losses. Apart from the one reki mount, there were no deaths and only three casualties with recoverable injuries. For even numbers, this was very good.
    Scratch one for the living.

    Landar ran a hand over the rocket body. Steel rolled into a cylinder, tipped with a short cone and sprouting stubby fins at the base. Oiled to prevent rust. A nozzle at the bottom built to incredible precision, fins aligned precisely, the incendiary rocket was a culmination of Minmay's technological achievements. The requirements for making a reliable rocket weapon had needed the rocket team to recreate micrometer gauges and microgram measurements.
    The idea that differences smaller than the eye could see made a huge difference in the flight of the rocket was almost revolutionary. Vernier scales had been considered the be-all and end-all of length measurements, more precision than anyone could ever need.
    Oh, how naive everyone was!
    These rockets made to micrometer precision still had an inaccuracy of a hundred meters at their maximum range. Able to fly three kilometers, these weapons would be able to strike the enemy without worry of retaliation.
    And today, she would have the chance to prove its worth.
    The observation balloon floated high above the battlefield, signalling the position of the zombie group. Despite the continuous sorties to cut down enemy numbers, by the time the shoes had arrived, the zombies had managed to gather a large group of over a thousand and were collecting more.
    "Range estimated 2.4 kilometers," read the signaller from the balloon's flags, "elevation down 40 meters. "
    The alchemist behind Landar scratched at his paper, running through the calculations to get the calibrated settings for the launchers. "Elevation 4.6 and wind..." he glanced at the windsock, "make that half a mark east. "
    Landar watched the alchemists make the adjustments. Elevation screws were turned to the appropriate mark and the alignment dials moved with care. The rows of rockets sitting in their metal brackets beheld the future of all weaponry.
    "Fire one!" she shouted when the adjustments were made. The fuse was struck and one rocket screamed off into the sky.
    Behind them, the watching crowd of Guards and commanders jumped. It was a sound no one had ever heard before, an ear-blasting roar that quickly dropped in pitch as the rocket sailed away faster and faster. A quirk of the last design had given the rocket a distinctive sound that was unexpected but not unpleasant.
    It sounded like victory. A streak of fire and smoke drawn into the blue heavens with her deadly brush.
    There was a distant bang and a plume of red flame in the distance. The spotter in the balloon waved a flag.
    "On target," said the signaller.
    That's what she wanted to hear! "Fire all!" Landar cried, throwing out an arm grandly. If they thought the one rocket's roar was surpri-
    Landar shielded her eyes with a hand. Heat from the rockets' red glare caressed her face, the smoky smell of rocket fuel, an unending chorus of descending screams. Each one a flaming arrow heralding a rain of steel and fire. An orgy of power and destruction soared from her grasping hand. No speech was possible over the din of the rockets.
    It was over all too soon. The wails of rockets died away, to be replaced with a pattering of bangs like rain on a metal roof. Next to the intimidating column of smoke that was the result of the rocket launch, the distant sounds of the target had much less impact. Even though anyone would prefer to be on this end of the rockets.
    A lopsided grin plastered on her face that didn't want to go away, Landar turned around to the speechless observers.
    "How about that?" she said.
    No one had anything to say. Perfect.

  18. - Top - End - #138
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Lycunadari's Avatar

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    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    Status for January 21 to January 27!


    Lycunadari passes with 6 nature photos.

    jseah passes with 2122 words for Hero's War.


    Thus nobody FAILs this round!

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    -----

    Green house pictures~ Imgur doesn't let me upload, I'll try again later. Here they are!
    Last edited by Lycunadari; 2019-01-30 at 07:52 AM.
    You can call me Juniper. Please use gender-neutral pronouns (ze/hir (preferred) or they/them) when referring to me.

    "We all are vessels of our brokenness, we carry it inside us like water, careful not to spill. And what is wholeness if not brokenness encompassed in acceptance, the warmth of its power a shield against those who would hurt us?" - R. Lemberg, Geometries of Belonging

    Stories

    Do you like writing? Drawing? Being creative? Come join the CHALLENGE!

  19. - Top - End - #139
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
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    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    688 words for Hero's War
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    Unan watched the swarm of zombies carefully through her army issued telescope, ignoring the nervous yipping of the rekis all around her. The tension of the cavalry of the North Expedition army was wound so tight she felt like bursting. Even if the zombies were quiescent, the platoon were sitting only a few hundred meters away from a thousand zombies, outnumbered five to one. The days when that was good odds were over.
    Cavalry charges against the zombie light beams were bad, the same against the likes of the new Minmay guns would be disastrous. Proud, and expensive, reki cavalry had been reduced to highly maneuverable infantry. The only reason why these parties had managed to keep their mounts at all was because they had all been recruited by King Ektal. The 'platoon' was roughly two hundred riders, far far beyond the party size limit but no one seemed to care about that nowadays.
    Minmay had seemingly given up on cavalry altogether.
    Today however, they would be given the chance to redeem the reputation of reki cavalry.
    Their signal started with a streak of flame rising from the main army line with a dull wail. Seconds later, a blossom of flame erupted above the main body of the zombies, bursting upon contact with their disruption aura, as if a fireshell had somehow been delivered on top of the zombies. The bright popping sound of the rocket exploding rolled over the cavalry group less than a second later.
    The shower of fire was deformed and wavered like a cloud in a breeze, sliding outwards around the now visible edge of the aura. The swarm stirred like a nest of disturbed monsters.
    There was no respite however. A chorus of wails preceded a storm that Unan had never seen before.
    The cavalry's rekis had been trained to tolerate the sounds of a rocket during the various tests and ranging calibrations at Fort Yang, but this was something altogether too much. Black dots rained down from the sky, bursting above the zombies. The bangs started with a light patter and quickly accumulated into a continuous roll. Individual flames merging into a bright flare of burning fire and a rising cloud of smoke. Rockets that missed the swarm mostly did so to the east, sending columns and cones of fire hammering into the empty ground.
    In seconds, it was over and the rekis had yet to really begin panicking.
    Unan patted down her reki and brought the telescope up to her eyes again. The cloud of smoke covering the zombie swarm was still lit from below, flickering lights of living fire that she knew would burn for minutes.
    This was the result of a mere hundred rockets. Gossip said that Minmay was wanting thousands of rockets once the design was proven. If they were used on human armies... for a moment, Unan imagined a scene of lines of trenches under a sky that rained fire and steel.
    Then her musing was cut short. The zombies were charging out of the smoke clouds, right at her platoon! And the swarm was barely diminished!
    "Mount up!" Unan shouted, the yelping and nervous rekis starting to settle down at the prospect of finally seeing action. Her mount rose up under her as she surveyed the enemy one more time. There was something about the zombies that was nagging at her.
    It took seconds before the platoon commander realized that there were no light beams. The rockets might not have killed many zombies but it had collapsed the aura, hence why the zombies were blindly charging like they always did without the aura.
    "The zombie aura is gone! Form up and prepare to counter-charge!" Unan shouted again, the looks of surprise and then understanding rippling through the line of cavalry.
    Her saber slid out of its sheath with a steely whisper, catching a flash of sun as she raised it upwards. The zombies were still coming onwards. Let them come.
    "Now is the time we reclaim our honour! The enemy is in disarray! Onwards, to victory and glory!" Unan cried.
    Her saber flashed downwards.


    459 for a stupid idea, Excerpts from the Angelic Helpdesk
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    "Hi! You have reached the Angelic Helpdesk, my name is Tiffani, how can I help you?"
    "I want to know if I can clear the 3rd floor of the Very Definitely Final Dungeon?"
    "Very Definitely Final Dungeon, 3rd floor... All right, can I know what combat skills you have?"
    "Unarmed fighting 1. "
    "Anything else?"
    "... No. "
    "... You can't. "
    *growl*
    "Um... where are you right now?"
    "At the entrance of the 3rd-" *bang* *splat* *crunch* *beeep* (dialtone)
    "Hello? Hello?! Are you still there?"


    *ring!*
    "Hi! This is the Ang-"
    "I need to know real quick if Hippopotamus have Water magic resistance. "
    "... um" *keyboard clatter* "yes, they do. "
    *click* *beeep*
    "..."
    *ring!*
    "Hi! This is the Ang-"
    "I also need to know if Hippopotamus have Fire magic resistance. "
    "No, they do not. "
    *click* *beeep*
    "..."
    *ring!*
    "Hi! This is the Ang-"
    "Also, do Hippopotamus have enough hit points to survive a level 3 fireball?"
    "Yes, they do. "
    *click* *beeep*
    "..."
    *ring!*


    *ring!*
    "Hi! Angelic Helpdesk, Samuel speaking, how can I help you?"
    "Waaaa!" *high pitched crying noises*
    "Hello? Are you in trouble?"
    "Waaa!"
    "Hello?! If you're in trouble, I can escalate this to the Miracles & Intervention department, do you need help?"
    "Waaaa!"
    "As I suspect that the caller is too injured to respond coherently, I'm going to backtrace the caller ID in order to file an Intervention request. Please hold on. "
    "Waaa!"
    *clatter* "... As the caller is six months old without deceased parents, I'm filing this under accidental calls. "


    "Hi! Yona from the Angelic Helpdesk speaking. "
    "I uh... have a problem. "
    "How can I help you?"
    "I need to know how to do that improvement thing. "
    "What are you trying to improve?"
    "... uh... myself, I think?"
    "... Do you need to assign skill points?"
    "Yes! Skill point. How do I use skill point?"
    "Do you have your Status open?"
    "... what's a Status?"
    "... First, open your Status sheet by saying the word 'Status'. Please do this now..."


    To: Miracles & Intervention - All
    From: Karma & Redemption - Vice-Director's Office
    RE: Remote Viewing Assistance
    Please note that Remote Viewing Assistance for the purposes of assisted spellcasting is not allowed for the categories of Contraceptive Spells and Fertility Spells.


    "Katie in KarmaRedemption speaking. "
    "I want to file a suit against Paul. "
    "Very well, I'm tracing your caller ID to find your Karma Record, please hold. "
    "..." *angry huffing*
    "You are Pete, born six years, 4 months and twenty seven days ago, yes?"
    "I am. "
    "I'm sorry, your Karmic Events Record does not indicate any significant debt or credit. Can you please describe the situation and provide an approximate time this occurred?"
    "Paul stole my candy bar! I want to file a karma debt suit!"
    "..." *click* *beeep*
    "Hey! Don't you hang up on me, you useless angels!"


    575 words for Inherited Memory Girl
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    Chesther,
    I have conducted experiments as you desired, the result is an unqualified success.
    As I write this, I am looking out at a field of wheat growing tall and strong, so dense that you could almost imagine the land has just been Consecrated. It has been five years since the last Consecration and I have seeing only minor yield drops. Using the artifacts, the fields can be maintained at a level close to Consecration years.
    With a wandering group using these artifacts, I believe our clan can serve all villages under our control without having to pay any Consecration to the Earth clan at all.

    Lochar


    Lochar frowned down at the message in his hands.
    All it said was to continue the experiment. Almost a duplicate of last year's message in fact.
    And yet, because it made no sense to continue when the artifacts had already been proven, Lochar suspected the message. The writing was his cousin's handwriting, the clan leader's own hand. Perhaps?
    He inspected the seal of the letter, wordless suspicion still unformed. Nothing was wrong with the seal either. So why did Lochar's sense keep saying something was wrong?
    His cousin might have her own reasons to want to delay the use of the artifacts. After all, she was a woman and the old fogies might not support her leadership if Lochar had too many achievements despite being all but exiled from clan politics. Lochar wished her well, he knew that in these troubled times, he did not have the brilliance needed to survive the Tos, but just because he was male, the outer families would... No, best not to get distracted.
    Lochar narrowed his eyes at the paper. Was this response due to a power play in the clan?
    No, that still made no sense. Chesther could easily claim the artifacts and a Fire-Consecration team as her own merit after all. She was resourceful enough to do that much.
    "Call the messenger in," Lochar snapped. His wife bowed and left the room.
    A short moment later, the messenger was shown into the study, with a chair brought up for the reedy man. Lochar frowned some more as the messenger gave a salute. Two fingers to the left and swipe downwards.
    "You called for me? Is there a reply?" the worn courier asked.
    Lochar remained silent for a long moment.
    "Who are you?" he asked finally.
    "Sir?" The man met Lochar's eyes.
    He barely got out of his chair before Lochar's quick punch sent a gout of sticky flame onto his travelling pants. The man screamed and rolled on the ground as the fire set him alight. Lochar barely noted his wife scurrying out of the way into a corner of the room.
    "That's the wrong salute for an inner circle messenger. You're not from the clan at all. " Lochar glared down at the fake.
    "M-mercy!" He stammered out, still trying to peel off his flaming breeches.
    "Surrender, tell me who sent you and I will only sell you to the slavers. Stay silent... and we'll see how long you last," Lochar punctuated his threat with a tiny transient flame at his fingertip. Seeing the man cowering before Lochar's magic, the fire sorcerer waved his wife over to retrieve everything the fake messenger owned.
    "T-The Tos Clan..."
    And Lochar found out just how much trouble he was in.

  20. - Top - End - #140
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Lycunadari's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Germany

    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    Status for January 28 to February 3!


    Lycunadari passes with 3 nature photos, one ghost, two portraits and a page of sea creatures.

    jseah passes with 688 words for Hero's War, 459 words for Excerpts from the Angelic Helpdesk and 575 words for Inherited Memory Girl.


    Thus nobody FAILs this round!

    Lycunadari and jseah PASS this round!


    Congratulations to jseah for passing for 3 years!

    Current standing:
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    Lycunadari
    Current run: 317 weeks
    Longest run: -
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    jseah
    Current Run: 156 weeks
    Longest Run: 33 weeks
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    -----

    A bunch of stuff.

    My camera is slowly dying after the objective broke last year, now the image stabiliser stopped working...
    Last edited by Lycunadari; 2019-02-15 at 04:12 PM. Reason: forgot to change the date
    You can call me Juniper. Please use gender-neutral pronouns (ze/hir (preferred) or they/them) when referring to me.

    "We all are vessels of our brokenness, we carry it inside us like water, careful not to spill. And what is wholeness if not brokenness encompassed in acceptance, the warmth of its power a shield against those who would hurt us?" - R. Lemberg, Geometries of Belonging

    Stories

    Do you like writing? Drawing? Being creative? Come join the CHALLENGE!

  21. - Top - End - #141
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    282 for the magic wish book
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    I look away from her, recognizing I just made a fatal admission. I meet Sinna's eyes and the memory of yesterday's stupidity swims to mind. Guh, I forgot that both of us have a wish with the book. She also... has someone she likes. No, that implies I also... gah!
    Yumi leans back and frowns, quite unusually. Better deflect her now, "What is it? I was expecting you to have more questions. "
    She comes closer and whispers seriously, "It can't be between the two of you right?"
    Ha? What is she going on... "No! No way! That.. that can't be possible!" Sinna shoots up beside me. Why is she so worked up?
    "Yumi," I chide her gently, as everyone stares at Sinna, "That's going a bit too far. "
    Sinna sits down and stares at the table as everyone slowly resumes their talking. Neither of us say anything and I start to feel more than a bit uncomfortable. Amazingly, Sinna doesn't appear to be panicking, she normally would after getting so much attention.
    Yumi scowls, quite unashamedly, "But you won't tell me. I can tell, you know. You shut up too much, she talks too much. When you're embarrassed that is. " Ah, why did you have to be so perceptive, Yumi? "I find it rather suspicious that you two would suddenly have something to hide at the same time. "
    She shrugs and turns back to her lunch. It's not like we can tell her, a book like that... would be insanely dangerous. Sinna took a big risk in sharing the book with me though, I suppose that shows how much we trust each other.


    1286 for Hero's war
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    Today was not a good day.
    Enay breathed slowly, trying to get himself to focus. The tiny group of zombies were far far away but it was his task to shoot them down.
    Once more, Enay cursed his mouth that seemed to just run itself whenever the backup scout looked at him. Farnee was attractive, her body he could die for and that tail, it was so full and fluffy! She clearly knew the effect she had on him but seemed to ignore it. It only made her more attractive, not just because she was pretty but that Farnee gave him a challenger that was quickly catching up to his tracking and shooting skills.
    Talking about the awesome targeting abilities of the Model 2S variant Enay had purchased with his pay had finally got the commander to snap and ask Enay to demonstrate it. They ran into a small group of zombies soon enough, common as they were, and now Enay had to make good on his boast.
    It wasn't his fault that the gun was just so cool! And his gun was the coolest of them all! It better be after Enay had sunk three months of pay into customizing it. A ranging spyglass, a set of sights with range bars calibrated specifically for this gun, inertial overcharge mode to reduce gravity drop, the new rust resistant steel barrel, with an extension and a tripod to balance it. This gun was almost as pretty as Farnee herself! Think of all the things that Enay could hunt with it!
    But the toys were fragile and did not often get a chance to play in war time.
    So here he was, lying on the ground with twenty of the new flechette rounds, that had cost him a week's pay due to their frankly ridiculous manufacturing tolerances. Twenty shots that could make the range, on a good day, with fifteen targets.
    With steady hands, Enay laid the shots out on a cleaned rock next to him. Fifteen in a row. He fingered the next and looked up at the platoon watching him. Farnee was there and looking curiously at him. Her ears twitched enticingly.
    Screw it, he only got to live once. Enay put the sixteenth bullet back into the box. It would be embarrassing if his even more ridiculous boast was proven wrong but if he won? Well, wouldn't that be impressive?
    It was time to destroy some zombies.
    Enay sighted through the spyglass at the figures in the distance. The hardy grasses and lack of trees this far from the river gave an open sight line all the way to the zombies. He observed the range markings in the spyglass bracketing the target's head. Sized for a human, the markings showed the zombies were almost half a kilometer away. Maybe twenty meters closer than five hundred? Three marks then.
    The wind ruffled Enay's ears and tail, reminding him of the patchy scarred fur on his tail and ears. At range five hundred, that might be half a mark left. The smell of dry sand was overpowering, but Enay put it out of mind.
    Enay fingered the first bullet and clicked it into the gun with practiced movements and sighted down the long range sights he had added to the front of his longer barrel. Welded in place, the sight was an annoying protrusion and its zeroing was delicate. But the sight would prove its worth. Set inertia to double charge, halve all corrections.
    Elevation, up a bit, correct. Breathe slowly, steady....
    Follow the target...
    The first crack seemed to be far away, as if Enay was hearing it from a room away instead of the barrel right next to his head. The observing platoon around him jumped, though Enay didn't notice. A second later, the zombie he was aiming at folded in half as the inertia bullet sailed in, undisturbed by the non-existent aura, to gouge a hole the size of a head in its lower back.
    "Hit. " said the spotter. Farnee's lovely voice. Ah, so she was counting the score? Then there was no reason to disappoint her.
    In the calibration range, Enay had made shots this far. He could do it. Almost in a daze, Enay fingered the next bullet. Another crack, another hit.
    "Hit. " "Hit. " "Hit. "
    With each hit, the woman's calm voice wavered not at all. Even as the platoon descended into a tense silence, all of them silently cheering their squad mate on. As the streak grew hit by hit, Enay's budding legend was growing with it. The zombies had turned to them and were charging, but the gun continued its methodical work. Crack. Crack.
    None of that mattered to Enay.
    It was all a high of one perfect shot after another. He barely felt his fingers as they loaded the next flechette, fingering the vanes. The gun vibrated as he spun to the next target coming at them. The zombies moved in the open, almost obligingly offering themselves up to the invisible scythe hunting them one by one. Rekis' heads blew apart, humans had their bodies mangled.
    Twelve. Thirteen. Fourteen.
    Enay could feel the count rising and the bullets depleting. Fourteen shots, fourteen hits, fourteen kills.
    The last bullet went into the rails. Enay sighted the last zombie. A human child body.
    Almost before he pressed the trigger, he knew he had misfired. Perhaps it was a gust of wind, or a stray grain of sand in the barrel. The intuitive sense Enay had told him it was a miss before the bullet even struck.
    The zombie jerked but did not go down. A puff of sand and shattered rock splashed across the landscape behind it.
    Enay grabbed his ranging spyglass. To his surprise, the 'miss' actually hit the hand. The zombie was missing it's left hand entirely. But it wasn't a kill.
    The streak was over.
    And Enay's boast of only needing fifteen bullets was just a failure.
    His unconscious sigh was interrupted by a pat on the shoulder. Enay glanced up from his prone position to find Farnee giving him a gentle smile. A small pang of regret and doubt leaked in, perhaps he had reached too far? He should have taken twenty bullets and now everyone knew he was just some overeager kid-
    Farnee nudged him again and Enay finally focused on her hand and what was in her fingers.
    A flechette bullet from the box.
    Enay hesitated only for a moment before taking the bullet. In one swift motion he didn't remember, the head flew off the last zombie. The lone zombie fell less than three hundred meters away.
    "Well done," Kobel said, lowering his own spyglass. The older human commander gave Enay a thumbs up.
    And as the platoon erupted into cheers at the incredible shooting, Farnee patted Enay on the head, mind his disfigured ears. The smile on her face was the most beautiful thing in the world, except for one. Enay smiled back and began to pack up his true love.
    Today was a good day after all.


    Dear Cato,

    We have reached the location of the Gate. The Summoning Circle. Where this adventure all began.
    Perhaps the start of your story was not a good memory, but mine was somewhat neutral. And from a high schooler like me or a university student like you, we have come a long way.
    I certainly didn't see myself as a revolutionary figure. Much less a successful one.

  22. - Top - End - #142
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Lycunadari's Avatar

    Join Date
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    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    Status for February 4 to February 10!


    Lycunadari passes with 6 nature photos.

    jseah passes with 1286 words for Hero's War and 282 words for the magic wish book.


    Thus nobody FAILs this round!

    Lycunadari and jseah PASS this round!



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    Pic pic pic.
    You can call me Juniper. Please use gender-neutral pronouns (ze/hir (preferred) or they/them) when referring to me.

    "We all are vessels of our brokenness, we carry it inside us like water, careful not to spill. And what is wholeness if not brokenness encompassed in acceptance, the warmth of its power a shield against those who would hurt us?" - R. Lemberg, Geometries of Belonging

    Stories

    Do you like writing? Drawing? Being creative? Come join the CHALLENGE!

  23. - Top - End - #143
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    1621 for Inherited Memory Girl.
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    Rraki threw out her fist, angled upwards with one finger out. A single range wall spell caused the ground to thrust upwards, shielding her group from the oncoming fireballs. The series of explosions on the other side of the wall preceded the gust of heat leaking down on them over the top.
    The wall held.
    She glanced back at the assault group she was leading. Three Fingers and eleven slave soldiers. One Finger was almost out of Potential. The man, dressed in Tos Clan's mottled brown, was already feeling the exhaustion as his body tried to replenish the Potential.
    "Onni, use your remaining Potential to reinforce this wall then fall back to rest area. " Rraki commanded.
    The Finger nodded then swung his hand out, two fingers outstretched. The ground beneath them shuddered and shifted, settling slightly lower than before. The foundations of Rraki's hasty wall were solid now.
    With one finger to his left shoulder, Onni saluted them as a Finger and ran into the city. His camouflage browns quickly blended into the dusty rock buildings, the rubble of the street fighting aiding his flight.
    There was no rest for the remaining assault group however. Rraki felt the globs of fireballs and their enclosed spell enter her detection range, aimed just above her barrier in hopes of burning what was on the other side. The Fingers of Naivi would have had better luck throwing normal fireballs, those couldn't be detected through Rraki's wall after all, but they were clearly inexperienced fighters. Trainees and reserves sent out in desperation.
    Rraki clenched her fist, drawing it behind her and over her head. Once, twice, three times. Each swing sent a chunk of the pebbled street flying upwards, propelled like a rock out of a sling. The balls of viscous burning liquids exploded in mid-air as their spells set off prematurely, showering the area with burning rain. Her Fingers shielded them with sheets of stone at minimum thickness.
    Naive. Detonate on contact was too easy to spoof.
    She looked at the slave soldiers. Armed with short spears and short bows, as well as bearing thin metal armour to ward off flames, they were built for fighting a Fire clan in the city. And being slaves, disposable. Replacements were expensive to procure, train and equip, however, so she would get punished if she wasted them.
    "Number one, check around the corner and tell me where the Fires are. "
    The slave poked his head out and reported.
    They were just standing out in the street, preparing to launch another attack. Rraki downgraded her estimation of them, this group was really green. All the other clans, but Fire most of all, made extensive use of cover. Only Earth could easily make their own.
    "One and Two, run out the left towards that building and shoot them. While they're distracting the Fires, the rest of us will run to the right after a second. Shoot them if you can. All of you are to prioritize staying alive and drawing attacks. Troni and Uki, you're with me. "
    The slaves changed their weapons from spears to the bows, stowing the spears across their backs,
    Rraki closed her eyes as she envisioned the change she was going to make. Imagine a blocky volume in her wall, tall enough to walk through, thick enough to encompass the depth. The magic spread outwards as she touched the barrier.
    "Ready, go!"
    At her command, the slaves charged out in two groups, the right side delayed just enough for the left side to receive a hail of fireballs. She ignored the dying scream of a slave soldier burning.
    Meanwhile, Rraki loaded a different spell, one that normally broke up soil for easier digging. Instead of casting it with her hands like battle spell, Rraki fed the effect into the target volume she created on the wall. Done. That proficiency with free form casting was one of the requirements to be a Palm.
    She nodded and the Fingers to either side slammed their shoulders against the wall like they had practiced.
    The previously hard wall crumbled into dirt and the three sorcerers of Tos charged out into the street, ready to do battle.
    Instead of meeting the expected hail of fireballs, Rraki saw a pile of bodies at the other end of the street. They sprouted feathered arrows, only slightly charred. The street still held small burning pools of the cloying liquid fire but no other threats made themselves known. Rraki flicked her wrist absentmindedly, a rock smashing apart the head of an opposing slave soldier. The street grew quiet as the charred corpses of One and Two were silenced by the others.
    Heh. She had thought she had the measure of their incompetence, but clearly she was still overestimating them. They were Fingers, true, and Fire clan always had issues with defence. But for Fingers to get killed by mere mundane slave soldiers was an utter embarrassment.
    Clearly it was time the Tos took over.
    "Secure the side alleys, set a watch. Three, run to the back lines to inform them we have secured Sixth Avenue. Holding position until further instructions. "
    That was as far as Rraki got. A Palm of Fire, lying in wait in the charred buildings to the side, staying just out of her detection range, stood up and waved a hand grandly. The plume of gaseous fire moved much faster than the liquid fireballs.
    She barely had time to begin her defensive spell before the wave of flames filled the street.

    "What in the world are the Tos thinking?"
    Chesther examined the city map once again. Conflict points marked all over it.
    In a surprise attack, the Tos Clan had simply began an all out assault on Naivi Clan held areas of the city. In less than a day, they were surrounded, besieged on all sides and cut off.
    The Tos Clan must have brought out every single sorcerer, reserves and all, to pull this off. That they had been stealthily recalling all their village holding families and seeking help from other Earth Clans was obvious from the numbers they were fielding. That no one in Naivi had caught a whiff of any of those preparations was the biggest informant failure in the history of... Fire.
    Chesther's leadership would have been in question if not for the fact that the dissatisfied Naivi clan heads had attempted to negotiate and got themselves killed. Chesther had known from the start the attempt was doomed to failure, but they would not believe a woman.
    To war with another Clan in this way, unprovoked and apparently to extermination, would draw the ire of every other Fire clan. Trade would collapse, their representatives killed and the Tos would be fair game for any other non-Earth clan for the same level of retaliation.
    The circle of advisors around her were worried, she knew. They could not hold under this level of assault for long. Already the Palms were being sent out before fully recharging their Potential.
    The Naivi clan just had to hold on. Help would come from the other Fire Clans so long as they were still alive. The initial encirclement had not been perfect and messengers had managed to break through. The Clans simply would not accept this sort of attack without comment.
    "I'm heading to the front," Chesther declared. Her grandfather's Potential crystal glinted in its necklace mounting, promising fiery death to all. With it, she was as strong as a Fist, the highest rank of sorcerer and rare even in the lands of the Empire.
    "Clan Leader?"
    "We just need to hold. "

    The clay blocks were ready, the target metal rod was ready, crystal was charged. Alice grinned and inserted the generic Potential holder into its slot.
    Further months of effort had allowed Alice to make a Record over the monster's crystal, along with Potential transferring runes to charge other Records that interfaced with it correctly. Modular items that each performed a function and combined to form something larger was an important step forwards and Alice was slowly building up towards making her first real transition.
    Despite the difficulty in making and testing the interfaces, Alice did not want to write and rewrite Records just to shift the crystal around between different functions. She only had one after all.
    This sort of bootstrapping, building a purely Record-based interface for reading and writing runes, was something that Petra's basic history classes had covered. Petra had known vaguely the general arc of progress that had taken humanity centuries to figure out, along with what names of Great People that history remembered. Records had gained in complexity and power, eventually reaching the heights and wonders of Petra's age just before the crash.
    Alice set the Record off. Anticlimactically, there was no outward sign. Only the indicator light of the Potential storage crystal discharging.
    She lifted the new item out of its holder. The single metal rod was one half of the most basic Record tools. With hands trembling from excitement, Alice plugging the Potential store into the rod and twisted the first ring into active position.
    The flicker of light indicating consumption was the best thing in the world Alice had seen.
    A Record writing tool. By clicking the rings into a combination of positions, the rod would inject the rune indicated by that combination into a Record created at the tip. No more clay blocks and stamps, no more writing!
    Alice still wouldn't want to write something too long, but she could bid the wall of clay behind her goodbye.

  24. - Top - End - #144
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    1579 for Inherited Memory Girl
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    Potential storage crystals were Non-standard Materials, only obtainable through outright conjuration. And an expensive conjuration at that. Duplicating the material also took far more power than was available to Alice and her family. The monster's crystal, with its large energy storage, opened up the possibility of slowly increasing the available pool by building up Potential over months to conjure more.

    A Palm of Fire had been crossing through an unknown back alley into one of the houses, thus staying just out of her detection range. He stood up and waved a hand grandly. The meters high wave of gaseous fire moved much faster than the liquid fireballs.
    She barely had time to begin her defensive spell before the wall of flames covered the street.

    It had the most common Execution runes accessible through a combination of ring positions with the ability to pick up less commonly used runes simply by reading it off by touching the tool to runic script.
    She hefted the rune writer, what project should she do first?
    Alice's eyes wandered over the room and finally stopped at the kinetic launcher propped against the wall.

    The little hut out in the forest was where the hunters often came back to butcher the prey and take a rest. The fields were still bountiful and no Consecration during a Consecration year had been scheduled, so hunting activities had been slowly scaling back.
    Now that hut was most often used by Denka and his children in the name of teaching them how to hunt, so Denka had helped Alice move her runic experiments out to the hut. Their family was one of the few who still actively hunted even when hunting yielded less food than spending the time to farm on more land. The advent of gardening more expensive vegetables and sweet roots for export made the calculation even worse. After his daughter gave an unusually coherent argument, Lochar had allowed Alice's family to do as they wished provided they took along his daughter for 'training' occasionally.
    Today however, Alice was testing her remodeled kinetic launcher with the Potential storage module, so no one else was around. While it had the power and accuracy to serve as a deadly weapon, Alice was still trying to make the launcher work without pre-conjured ammunition. Stone bullets were too hard to make and wooden bullets had much worse accuracy. In the end, conjured iron or steel was still the standard.
    So it was with only substandard bullets and almost no Potential remaining that Alice returned to her village.
    Only to find everything on fire and the sky literally raining rocks on it.


    Rishiamaher turned nine last month and she was getting good at magic!
    Everyone said that Foet was scary, but she wasn't. Foet was her good friend. The girl came to play often and she had magic too. Her father had told her not to teach Rishiamaher how to use magic so of course she had immediately decided to teach Rishiamaher anyway.
    It was fun copying Foet's hand movements and seeing what came out. Rishiamaher could make walls pop out of the ground and throw rocks very fast, but when Foet did it, she got fireballs and a spray of fire.
    Rishiamaher didn't tell anyone, Foet had told her to keep it a secret. And Rishiamaher was good at secrets! She had not told Foet about Alice's secret, so she had two secrets that she was keeping!
    And today, Foet was here again, trying to get Rishiamaher to learn a third hand movement.
    The flare of magic in the village distracted her mid-cast.

    Squad leader Ryui signaled his slave soldiers forward.
    Really, there was nothing to fear, given that the lone Fire Clan Finger was already dead. Ryui had made sure to aim a generous portion of the initial bombardment at him.
    Some would call it overkill to have two Palms, thirty Fingers and a hundred warrior slaves, essentially a small army, go destroy a single village with only one Finger in it. But that was also a clear statement of intent to everyone else. The Patriarch was determined to see those artifacts destroyed, no matter the cost or who got in the way.
    His instructions were clear. Go to the village, kill the Fire Clan man there, destroy the artifacts. Of the villagers, there was only a single relevant line. 'Do whatever is necessary.' Ryui would level the village or wheedle his way into their good graces, as long as what he did made it more likely his mission would succeed. Afterwards? Kill them, sell them off, leave them alone, the Patriarch didn't care.
    Ryui was going to sell them of course. Some extra pocket money would make the Fingers happy despite trudging all the way out here just to throw a few stones and go back home.
    On the other hand, looking at the sheer destruction in front of him, Ryui didn't think there would be many survivors.
    The village was... ruined was too gentle of a word. The houses were all caved in, small boulders smashed through their walls. Earthquakes from Ryui and his vice-leader Palm had thrown everyone in front of him to the ground, and also knocked down all the remaining walls. The fields were a mess with rocks and soil thrown everywhere, the crop ruined. A pity, the wheat was only a month from harvest.
    Lochar was nothing but a bloody smear on the ground. The villagers' broken bodies were tossed everywhere, draped across the ground or hanging from where they landed. Courtesy of an Earthquake with two Palms worth of Potential followed by thirty Fingers of continuous rock bombardment. Lochar's futile attempts to resist had merely set the wreckage alight.
    Ah well. The mission came first after all, pocket money was optional.
    "It's not often you get to see Palms go all out," Ryui said to the Fingers standing behind him, "one day, you'll be the Palm doing this. "
    "It is impressive, sir. "
    Ryui snorted at the man behind him, "your flattery needs work. But thank you. Now go with the slaves and find those artifacts. Anything else you find, you can keep, only slaves are shared between everyone. Group one with me, we'll search the Naivi spawn's house. What's left of it. "
    Digging through the ruins eventually found the rods of metal he was looking for. They were buried in a stone box set into the floor of the house and had survived the rain of rocks and earthquake. Good of Lochar to make his work easy.
    A handwave cracked the box open and revealed the five artifacts they were looking for. Gleaming metal, right from the age of the gods, Ryui had seen steel before and this was far too shiny. After confirming the artifacts had the described effect on soil, they laid the artifacts onto a tray of iron.
    He concentrated, crumbling the metal to powder, and watched as the Records over the magic items faded away.
    "I confirm we have destroyed five artifacts. " Ryui said formally.
    His second in command, Wu, concurred, "I confirm that the five artifacts have been destroyed. "
    And that was that. Now it was time to salvage some side benefits.

    "Those damned vultures!"
    The curse was punctuated by a clatter of falling cutlery. The slave servants in the room immediately set about cleaning up the mess of fallen food and drink. The slaves crept quietly and fearfully, not wanting to draw the man's wrath.
    The Tos Clan Patriarch growled, staring into space. Clenched in his hand was a letter.
    Supposed allies were only giving half-hearted support. Merchants were happy to sell the new power in the city anything he wanted, but only for cutthroat prices. His men and women were dying day by day while the small forces of neighbouring clans sat around 'enforcing the blockade'.
    A blockade that was useless now the messengers had escaped. Naivi's allies and the accursed behemoth of the Yio Clan were starting to move and if he did not crush the Tos soon, the entire war would start to run into serious resistance.
    Calling in everyone to deal with the threat to Consecration had worked, up until commitment was required. Iki, Hui and Om were all too happy to let the Tos take the losses, and the heat, then move in for the benefits immediately afterwards. They knew the Tos had to attack, given that Naivi villages were primarily Consecrated by his clan and artifacts that could duplicate Consecration was going to starve them.
    If the Tos managed to take over the city, then they would claim their rights as allies and helpers. If the Yio got off their fiery asses and squashed him? Well, they would just disavow everything and run.
    The only good thing in the mess was that the kill team had successfully reached their destination without being detected. No matter what happened here, the Consecration threat would be gone.
    He just had to kill that Naivi leader, and hopefully seize that blood crystal from her. Then the Naivi defence would collapse and he could sweep them off the board. Without anyone to restore to rulership over the city, the Yio would find the cost of reducing a fortified Earth clan far less than any possible benefit.
    He just had to win before he lost.

  25. - Top - End - #145
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Lycunadari's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2012
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    Germany

    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    Status for February 11 to February 24!


    Lycunadari passes with 6 + 7 nature photos.

    jseah passes with 1621 + 1579 words for Inherited Memory Girl.


    Thus nobody FAILs this round!

    Lycunadari and jseah PASS this round!



    Current standing:
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    Lycunadari
    Current run: 320 weeks
    Longest run: -
    Themes: -

    jseah
    Current Run: 159 weeks
    Longest Run: 33 weeks
    Themes: -



    -----
    Sorry for missing last week's status post, I've not been doing well metal health wise :/

    Here are the pictures for the two weeks.

    In better news, I got my new camera yesterday! No more randomly over- or underexposed pictures, and no more blurriness due to broken image stablizer!
    You can call me Juniper. Please use gender-neutral pronouns (ze/hir (preferred) or they/them) when referring to me.

    "We all are vessels of our brokenness, we carry it inside us like water, careful not to spill. And what is wholeness if not brokenness encompassed in acceptance, the warmth of its power a shield against those who would hurt us?" - R. Lemberg, Geometries of Belonging

    Stories

    Do you like writing? Drawing? Being creative? Come join the CHALLENGE!

  26. - Top - End - #146
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    1126 words for Hero's War
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    Cato arranged the last few tiles in the command panel, filling the line with blank spacers.
    Four hundred and twenty lines of wooden tiles, each with three groups of eight plus two. This was the new control method for magic circles.
    Rather reminiscent of moveable type actually. Each of the tiles denoted a number or control character. In sequence, each line thus comprised of three numbers of eight digits each, separated with a divider control character.
    Each line was one command, either to use a specific enchantment function, position or variables to follow, skip to a specified line, read or write to the register. There were almost too many commands to list. The compiler in fact had gotten so complex that it had been broken up into smaller more manageable portions.
    The last one, the main enchanter portion, had been completed on this expedition while waiting for supplies to catch up to the army.
    The whole magic circle version two was rather more of a hackjob than Cato would have liked. Despite their high hopes initially, when it came time to actually build the thing, unforeseen difficulties and mistakes multiplied faster than rabbits. There were some portions in that mess of a compiler that Landar had built by hand and not with a generation one circle!
    The first thing they were making with the second generation magic circle was one of Cato's other projects. Something that might get the Iris's approval.
    One of the favourite ways of the Iris to use a summoning stone they couldn't reach by themselves was to borrow magic from other sources. Before the advent of mass production and storage of magic, the Iris had obtained contributions from their less powerful members in large 'rituals' in order to power the Ritual Class summoning stones. That was where the name had originated from. Charged staffs had also been another option, though expensive.
    When magic crystals and compressed magic had gone on sale, the practice merely became widespread. Every single summoning stone the summoner clans had were deployed now, lesser stones handed to lower power members and the more powerful reserved for the stronger.
    The reason for that was due to the nature of summoning stones. Every stone needed a summoner to feed the magic to it, a simple direct feed of the sort that Cato's magic circles and Landar's spell cannons used did not suffice. Even the Ritual Class, while able to accept magic from other casters, required special structures to contribute magic.
    And every stone was different. Each one had different optimal rates of power draw, different ways of connecting to them and other tricks that reminded Cato of makeshift computer programs. 'Magic' numbers everywhere. Much of the summoner clan's training, when not for power, was in learning the characteristics of summoning stones and how to control their assigned stone.
    Why did this Sword stone require a three to two ratio in the two power transfer spots while the other one was equal? Who knew? The Iris had found out through long experiment what the best way was and that was it. Cato had collated what data he could by interviewing the summoners on the trip about how their stones and other stones they remembered were controlled.
    The survey had yielded some minor information. The methods of controlling the stones could be divided into a few patterns that were often grouped together. The three to two ratio for main power was often paired with a control mechanism that used the magnitude of power fed into the control spots. The one to one was grouped with either a magic signature measurement or a series of different structures that denoted a value that was set until changed later.
    Cato was reminded of the computer software and how manufacturers applied their own styles to each series. The subtle differences were probably then due to the different versions or something like that. That effect was most obvious in the ubiquitous Sword stones, since it was possible to find duplicates among them and form a trace of possible version changes, though patchy.
    All this wasn't really new to the Iris. Only Cato's familiarity of how software evolved over time gave some sort of possible explanation for why, though completely without proof. A plausible hypothesis.
    The stones were not freeform programmable devices like Cato's magic circles. They were single function devices with fixed communication protocols that were reverse engineered and barely understood. When put that way, the parallels to microcontrollers was obvious.
    Cato... was going to sidestep all of that. While it was tempting to try to build an easier interface for controlling a summoning stone, there were just so many complexities that he didn't want to step into that mess.
    Instead Cato was going to make a casting aid. His device would mimic a portion of the usage of summoning stones, or more precisely be controlled by the caster into providing one of the six most common types of magical structures used to provide main power to summoning stones. The caster would be responsible for determining variables like the ratios of power provided or when to change it, as well as all the control. His device would draw extra power from the linked power storage.
    The intended effect was to allow the Iris to draw safely from external power. Since they would usually draw that power into their body before shaping it into the structure required by the summoning stone in question, this put them at risk of overcharge. The current upper limit of external power was thus determined by how much the overdraw exceeded the summoner's limit as well as how long the power had to be retained.
    This power was obviously much higher than the sustained lethal overcharge limit that was used in Kupo's training method.
    Stronger summoners could withstand greater overcharge, and their longer training often meant they could move more magic in a shorter period of time, thus they could charge their stones to a much greater maximum power. Though if they didn't dump that power into the stone quickly, they would also rapidly overheat and die. When Cato learnt of it, and how every time Landar drew on external power for a stone, she risked killing herself, he was determined to fix this.
    Cato would rather his prospective wife didn't try to kill herself.
    Calling it 'normal practice' did not mean he would accept her risking her life if she got distracted while drawing power. He was willing to bet that the Tsarians didn't risk themselves this way either.
    Cato looked at the rows of number tiles again, checking for errors.
    The first prototypes always had them.


    476 words for the magic book
    Spoiler
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    Sinna watched from the rooftop as Alice swung her racket ineffectually. She and David looked to be having a good time. It would be all because of the book. The little black leather-bound book was easily one of the most astonishing things she had ever come across, save perhaps that time when she was a kid and was very surprised that electric toothbrushes existed. She remembered being stumped by it for over an hour.
    Smiling to herself at the memory, Sinna opened the book onto the hard concrete roof. If it came to this, she could undo her wish for Alice's romance. That would solve everything since it was all fake.
    But then, Alice would undo hers and... that would not be good. Of course, she knew exactly why that would hurt, but it was the right thing to do. And yet she couldn't do it. "What a stupid catch 22 we got ourselves in," she muttered into the wind, "If the wishes were undone now, it would not be painful. Because we would not be under its influence, but since we are now, we can't reverse it. Why the hell did it have to be you, Alice..."
    Should she wish for a third factor to do it? But then that would be the same, she had to write the wish, knowing full well what it would result in and she would simply not be able to write it. A chance event had to happen, but when the book governed all chance, a remote possibility became truly impossible. She stared down at the book, trying to think a way out of the situation.
    Perhaps not a chance event. She could just redirect the wish to herself. She took out a pen and was about to write it in when she hesitated. It would mean betraying their friendship, because she would be using the book against Alice.
    Of course, Alice wouldn't mind. Not after she made the wish. But the Alice presently would. She didn't know if the Alice from before this would approve or not. Whatever Alice said, that girl really did want a exciting romance. Sinna thought for a long while, she wanted to wish for it, but it was somehow wrong. But it would solve all their problems.
    Or maybe there was a way. Sinna looked down at her pen, it wasn't much better than directly wishing for Alice, but she could stomach this one given the bad taste David left in her mouth.

    Before I know it, I'm back in our room staring at the shower wall. It's hard to describe what I was thinking just a few moments before but the glow was already fading. That... was far too embarrassing, even thinking about it makes me want to hide in a corner and squeal.

  27. - Top - End - #147
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Lycunadari's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Germany

    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    Status for February 25 to March 3!


    Lycunadari passes with 8 nature photos and one character painting.

    jseah passes with 1126 words for Hero's War and 476 words for the magic book.


    Thus nobody FAILs this round!

    Lycunadari and jseah PASS this round!



    Current standing:
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    Lycunadari
    Current run: 321 weeks
    Longest run: -
    Themes: -

    jseah
    Current Run: 160 weeks
    Longest Run: 33 weeks
    Themes: -



    -----

    My new camera is awesome! Have some pics! And a painting with background.
    You can call me Juniper. Please use gender-neutral pronouns (ze/hir (preferred) or they/them) when referring to me.

    "We all are vessels of our brokenness, we carry it inside us like water, careful not to spill. And what is wholeness if not brokenness encompassed in acceptance, the warmth of its power a shield against those who would hurt us?" - R. Lemberg, Geometries of Belonging

    Stories

    Do you like writing? Drawing? Being creative? Come join the CHALLENGE!

  28. - Top - End - #148
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    1508 for a new story.
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    The lone dark figure climbed upwards. One hand above the next, seeking gaps in the mortar of the stone wall.
    The moon was dark, the heavy clouds dimming all light. The castle's architecture dank and oppressive. Not even the most owlish of sentries could spot the figure.
    Then again, who would expect a single person to be scaling the walls of the demon lord's castle in the middle of the night of a new moon? Without magic that would trip the wards? It was insane.
    It was insanity, but one man dared to try.
    The demon lord was sitting behind an ornate desk, decorated with gold filigree and made of wood from the elven heart trees. The war with the humans had concluded a decade ago and the world was slowly growing used to peace. On the wall behind and above was a framed piece of paper bearing signatures from every nation.
    The Treaty, the Agreement, it went by many names, but this was the success of the hero, who had managed to force the demon lord to accept an end to the war.
    A movement caught the demon's eye and he glanced up at his dark window. Was there something outside?
    A huge wave of dispelling magic shattered the defenses, but the demon lord had only enough time to shoot up out of his chair. The last thing the demon lord saw was a satchel smashing through the window of his royal chambers. The noxious mixture of poison gas immediately blinded him. Just in time for a knife to end up in the demon's belly.
    Wards shattered, demonic growls and shouts raised in alarm. The pounding of feet and skittering claws echoed through the stonework as the demon lord's subordinates rushed to their leader's chambers.
    The figure was dressed strangely, magically treated cloths woven into a suit that blocked the deadly fumes in the room. Of the face was just a pitiless mask. The figure bent down over the demon lord. The knife in his gut pumped hostile magic into his body, disrupting the reflexive counterspell. With a swing, the figure slammed another into the demon's temple, on the weak point at the base of the horn. The body jerked once and was still.
    The figure worked quickly, hacking through the demon's rib cage with quick strokes of a butcher knife. The grisly work was rewarded as a gleam began to show in the smoky room, paradoxically a bright white considering the black source.
    Inside the body was a fist sized gem, the demon lord's crystallized magic. The huge gem-like stone shone with inner light and with raw magic.
    The prize obtained, the figure quickly left out the window.
    Less than a minute later, the subordinates of the demon lord burst into the room only to start choking from the poison gas.

    Two weeks later
    Yumi stirred from her sleep, absentmindedly patting Adrian back to sleep. The toddler mumbled before rolling over and settling down.
    Someone had entered through her ward. Who could it be? A spy from the conservative faction? Or was it an assassin?
    If they thought they could take advantage of Lionel not being around, they were in for a rude surprise. Yumi might be a light mage but she was hardly defenceless. She couldn't be part of the Hero's Party if she couldn't defend herself.
    The stairs remained silent as she crept down, her Staff of Light Amplification at the ready. Of the intruder, the only sign was a soft padding around the ground level. As if the trespasser was looking at everything in her house.
    "Light!"
    Yumi tossed a radiance spell into the sitting room, a glow of a deadly Ray spell on the tip of her staff. The living room was suddenly as bright as daylight, but Yumi's preparations prevented her from being blinded. The lavish decorations glittered back at her, crystal and silver adorning the furniture.
    The intruder turned out to be a young man. His clothing was pure darkness, loose flowing robes that concealed motion. The exposed hands and face held crease lines, as if under a great stress that had drawn it tight but then was suddenly released.
    "Yumi? Is that you?" the intruder blinked under the light.
    That was a familiar voice, one she hadn't heard from in decades.
    "Aram?"
    It was him! Though he had aged and he looked like he had walked through hell, Yumi could recognize her childhood friend's features. The boy she had known, grown into a man, blinked up at her. Yumi quickly came out of the stairway, lowering her staff.
    "Yo. It's been a while," Aram said, giving that same casual wave she had seen in the village.
    For a moment, Yumi couldn't think of anything to say. But when she opened her mouth, the words formed themselves. "You were gone for ten years. I haven't seen or heard from you. What have you been doing?"
    "I could ask that question of you too," Aram said. "You have children?"
    Yumi caught his eyes flickering upwards, right where the ward over Adrian's room would be.
    "Just two years ago. I have a son, Adrian. I would have liked you to meet him. " And be his uncle and play with him. There was so much Aram had missed in ten years that Yumi had no idea where to start.
    But his only reply was to smile back. His smile was wistful, as if looking at her and seeing the past.
    Yumi was still quite unsure, Aram was tired she could see, but it looked like he had been through so much hardship. "You know you could have come to me and I would have helped you. I couldn't find you at our village and we were so busy after the Demon Lord's peace. You didn't have to suffer whatever you did in these years. "
    There Aram's smile vanished. "Not with him present. "
    And in a flash, Yumi remembered what was wrong. "I never got to tell you either. I... on the journey across the world, I fell in love with Lionel. I'm sorry. I couldn't keep the promise. "
    Aram smiled regretfully, "it was too much to hope for after I saw you kiss him in the middle of the village. A promise between childhood friends means nothing after all. "
    "Have you... all this time?"
    "I love you. I always have and I always will," Aram said.
    But they were now separated by a gulf of time and experience. The journey as the saint had changed Yumi just as whatever Aram had gone through had changed him. There was no possibility for that fragile love between teenagers.
    "It's alright," Aram said, a more genuine smile rising on his face. "I found my own way. "
    He put a hand into his black robes and drew from it an impossibility. A nexus of magic denser than anything else on this world of Farlan.
    The Demon Lord's Heart.
    "You- is that the magic crystal of the demon lord?!" Yumi couldn't help but exclaim in surprise.
    Who had killed him? No, it was obvious. Aram was responsible.
    "It is," Aram continued, "it is said that the demon lord's heart can grant a single wish to the person who kills the demon lord. Looking at this thing though, it seems like the heart grants an ability or magic of some sort. Of course, it was always supposed to be the hero who did it and got his wish, but it seems I had to do the job for him. "
    A certain terrible suspicion occurred to Yumi. "You're not going to wish for me to love you, are you?"
    If that crystal granted that wish... If he somehow used it to... do what? Obtain a mind control ability? Somehow steal the wife of the hero? Yumi couldn't go, she had a son and a family and too many duties-
    "Of course not. " Her whirling thoughts stopped with Aram's words. "I understand that to wish for that now would make me no better than the demon lord himself. "
    Yumi sighed in relief. Right, of course, Aram was her friend after all.
    "I'm going to rewind time. "
    That was... "What?!"
    Aram grinned back at her. "This time will be different. With what I know now, I'm sure I can win your love against the Hero. " The crystal's glow began to rise, magical lettering swirling around Aram in the thousands like a wall.
    "Wait! Please! Don't do this, don't take away my life!" Yumi yelled at Aram, who seemed to be getting increasingly distant.
    "It's alright, Yumi. I'm not taking you away. I'm just going to another time. "
    The glare of the letters built into a wall of light, Aram only appearing as a shadow. "Aram!"
    "Yumi. I'll see you again. In another time. "
    Last edited by jseah; 2019-03-11 at 11:13 AM.

  29. - Top - End - #149
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Lycunadari's Avatar

    Join Date
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    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    Status for March 4 to March 10!


    Lycunadari passes with 3 nature photos and 3 food photos.

    jseah passes with 1508 words for a new story.


    Thus nobody FAILs this round!

    Lycunadari and jseah PASS this round!



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    Lycunadari
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    Current Run: 161 weeks
    Longest Run: 33 weeks
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    Nature pics, food pics and bonus cat pic!
    You can call me Juniper. Please use gender-neutral pronouns (ze/hir (preferred) or they/them) when referring to me.

    "We all are vessels of our brokenness, we carry it inside us like water, careful not to spill. And what is wholeness if not brokenness encompassed in acceptance, the warmth of its power a shield against those who would hurt us?" - R. Lemberg, Geometries of Belonging

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  30. - Top - End - #150
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
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    Default Re: The CHALLENGE 4: Art block can't stop us

    2074 for Hero's War
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    Clan Two's scouts had conveyed the ruins' locations quite clearly throughout the march. However, the sight of the stone walls in the distance was a welcome sight.
    Of course, the zombies just couldn't let the Ektal army have the city uncontested. They ran into increasingly frequent groups that had to be reduced and wiped out individually. Erin, in her capacity as the overall commander, could say the knights and guards were getting used to fighting the zombies.
    On the other hand, the zombies seemed to have run out easy fodder. No large armies of zombies were encountered, the complex structures in the aura only gave minor improvements to the living fire resistance they had already displayed. Zombie nightcryers were also increasingly rare. With the new portable mist shields and every fighter carrying a new model gun or better, the army reached the city with almost no losses.
    "All right, now that we're here, we're clearing the ruins of zombies and begin preparations to set up a fort," Erin said to the gathered commanders of the five divisions as well as the leaders of the special groups like the cavalry and summoners.
    She gestured at the rough map of the city laid out on the low table. The commanders were seated around the table, making the command tent a little stuff.
    "There's more than a thousand buildings still standing in the city. The majority of the collapsed buildings are here, with this quadrant of the city mostly burnt down. The Elkas previously reported seeing movement and damaged zombies in most areas, but no large numbers. We'll have to split up through the city and destroy them all. Unfortunately, because we want to learn as much as we can of the people who lived here, as well as to conserve the fireshells for battles, we can't simply raze the city with spell cannons. "
    "Each division will divide into squads of fifteen soldiers and clear their assigned sectors. Every second squad should have one flame auxiliary, I made sure there were enough of them. The squads are to enter each building to retrieve surviving artifacts, records or anything of interest. If there is too much resistance, then have the auxiliary torch the building. I'll rather lose out on a few artifacts than accept losses, understood?"
    She looked around and got a series of nods. Good. The flame auxiliaries were high pressure flamethrowers fresh from Minmay. They fired streams of living fire that was also magically charged with disruption. Zombie or humans, stone or metal, nothing withstood them for long. The downside was their short range and limited ammunition. In open battles facing light beams or guns, they were of limited use. But in city or trench fighting, they were perfect. Erin had ordered two hundred units just for this.
    "Bicycles will be provided to carry messages and each exploring division is to check in hourly at minimum. Each squad will also carry a flare in case of emergency. The Minmay 2nd Guard division will be exempt from the exploration, to form a fast response unit. Summoners, please stay with the 2nd Guard, if anything nasty pops out, we'll be relying on you to crush them. Spell cannons are to set up on this hill just outside the city. Cavalry form a perimeter around the city and scout for any roaming bands. "
    Erin looked at the various division commanders of the army. Each of them had been slowly forging their divisions in the grind of the constant small attacks. There were few people in this camp who had not fired a gun at a zombie in this expedition.
    "We have come a long way from our country Ektal. We have fought many monsters and learned how to deal with them. We are no longer inexperienced militia and parties, we're proper soldiers in an army now. This foothold is not just to satisfy our curiousity about these lands beyond the Snow Wall. It is more than just contacting those who live here. If we can hold our ground against the hordes coming our way, we can show that humanity is not just holding the line. We show that we can push back the monsters and reclaim the world!"
    The commanders glanced at each other before bowing to her.
    "We got monsters to kill. "

    Kobel crept forwards, inspecting the half-collapsed house suspiciously. He waved a torch inside the gloom of the late afternoon sun, noting with satisfaction that the fire did not waver unnaturally.
    When nothing stirred inside and no magic was felt, he waved back at the previously cleared building. The rest of the squad showed up in a patter of feet.
    "You see anything?" the squad leader asked the Enay behind him. The scout was the only person from Kobel's unit, the scouts having been broken up amongst the exploring squads for maximum coverage.
    "Not really," Enay replied, squinting into the ruin. "I still have a bad feeling about this place. "
    Considering that this area of ruins showed the most zombie movement reported by the Elkas, that was obvious.
    "So do the rest of us. Well, same as last time, flamer stays outside, the rest of us will check the place. Remember, we're looking for any surviving paper or items that might identify the people. Go!"
    The squad moved carefully into the building, checking the ground and ceiling in case of collapse. Meanwhile Kobel walked up to the collapsed section, two other Ektal men flanking him from behind. There was something about the rubble here that...
    He spotted a rotted hand in the fallen stone and almost without thought, his gun snapped up into shooting position. The rest of the squad tensed at his motion, bayonets readied and fingers over their fireshells.
    "It's just a hand," he said after a while without anything moving. Kobel moved to set fire to the body part with his torch.
    Enay shouted at the same time as the hand twitched. Magic rose around the rubble and the hand, to the Fuka, it seemed as if the hand was spewing clouds of black mist.
    Kobel scrambled back as the squad rushed to him. "Guns ready!" he screamed.
    A row of metal sticks were raised at the motion.
    "Set to inertia! We're blowing this rubble away!" Kobel shouted as the rubble began to shift ominously. He unhooked a fireshell and held his fingers on the safety pin.
    "Fire!"
    The sound of nearly simultaneous shots was deafening in the semi-enclosed half of the building. The rubble exploded as the inertia bullets tore through the collapsed stone and threw up gouts of shattered rock.
    What was revealed nearly made the soldiers threw up. Instead of the expected dead bodies, there was just a mash of bones and rotting flesh. The bullets had broken the surface layer but no further. Hostile magic rose up, thick and cloying.
    "Everyone out!" Kobel shouted. Better safe than sorry when facing something new.
    The wisdom of that practice became obvious as the bones began to move. As the last one to leave, he pulled the safety pin and threw the fireshell at the horror before turning to run. The flare of heat and light behind his back as he dived out of the doorway was only scant comfort. He knew fire was less effective when the zombie magic was present.
    "Kill it! Kill it with fire!" Kobel yelled, "Everyone, fire at will!"
    A patter of bullet cracks began to fill the air as the squad reloaded and fired as fast as they could. The vague movement beyond the flames was large and threatened to burst through. The motion was interrupted when the woman holding the flamer nozzle opened fire.
    The stream of glowing liquid shot into the building like a bar of hot light, enchanted living fire accelerated with magic into a burning spear stabbing into the darkness. Almost like a human answer to the searing light beams. Immediately, the building exploded with flames as the pressurized pyrophoric liquid went everywhere.
    The rain of bullets slowed to a halt.
    "You think we got it?"
    Kobel glanced at Enay beside him. "No. Fireshell launchers!"
    The squad began fitting the fireshells to their guns. The new model gun that was now everywhere had been slightly modified to fit a protrusion on the fireshell into the bullet slot. Along with a spike to hold the pin, this allowed the almost every gun in the expedition army to shoot fireshells further than anyone could throw.
    Or in this case, as the building's front collapsed under the weight of a flaming horror, blast something at point blank.
    The blast of hot liquid joined the blasts of detonating fireshells as the squad fired almost instinctively. Kobel instead unhooked the flare gun from his jacket and shot a shining star into the sky.
    "Scatter!" Kobel commanded as the horror disappeared under the conflagration but kept coming on. Enay disappeared down the street with a rush of Em. The rest of the squad broke up into twos and threes as they scurried away like ants. The horror kept rising and getting bigger.
    As the surface of the thing sloughed off under the intense heat, Kobel got his first look at the new and latest zombie monster. The thing was an amalgation of bones, dead flesh, stone and the strange zombie crystals. It looked something like a worm, if worms had stubby legs and were three meters in diameter.
    Where had all the dead flesh for this thing come from? Kobel wondered as he worked his gun constantly. Safely ensconed in the cleared building beside him was Enay and one other Ektal militia, some woman he didn't remember the name of. Their shots did practically nothing, each bullet shattering a bone or piece of stone on the surface, which fell off only to reveal more below.
    Did the thing even have limbs to destroy or a skeleton to shatter? The legs seemed to grow out of the main mass like streams out of a pond. Could it even be disabled like normal zombies or did they have to go through and destroy every piece of the thing? The bony worm whipped around as shots impacted across it from all sides, the scattered squad taking shots wherever they could, no matter how useless their efforts seemed. It faced the woman carrying the tank of living fire, the strongest source of magic in the squad, and paused.
    Then the front of the thing opened up to reveal a jagged maw lined with crystals and screamed.
    Rather than roar like a threatened animal, the scream was high thin whine accompanied with a low rumble. It dug into Kobel's ears like shards of glass, and resonated in his bones. It sounded both like a desperate dying cry and the chest rumbling growl of a reki on the hunt. A predator out to kill and a promise of a horrible death to all.
    Every person in the squad, and most of the neighbour squads rushing to the action, was struck by an impalpable dread. This was what was outside the safe fire light of civilization, this was what awaited them in the wild lands. This was the monster that children feared lurked in the dark.
    The bullets died down to a trickle.
    But one woman stood up against the horrible scream, her mist shield held in front of her. The flamer yelled back in defiance, her metal hose erupting into a beacon of light that stabbed into the thing's crystalline maw.
    A glow that wasn't the white-yellow of living fire shone through the cracks in the thing's rock and bone carapace. Kobel felt his blood drain from his face, loading his gun as fast as he could. "Fire now!" he screamed, aiming for the glow, "maximum overcharge!"
    The three shots of bullets accelerated far beyond their design limitations were each as loud as the whole squad firing at once. Head sized chunks of bone and rock blew off the bone worm and sections simply fell off as their supports failed. The glow didn't stop.
    The glow discharged in a cone of brilliant light that engulfed the stream of flames and much of the pebbled street. The woman disappeared in a fireball as her flamethrower and all her fireshells detonated at once.

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