Page 7 of 7 FirstFirst 1234567
Results 181 to 194 of 194
  1. - Top - End - #181
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

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

    Additions and editions to IMG
    new chapter word count: 3041
    words added: 1520

    Spoiler
    Show
    Following the trail was easy enough. The group was moving slow and far too large to conceal anything, much less from a hunter as good as Denka. Alice wielded her borrowed skill shamelessly, leading the children in a chase that was just short of punishing.
    A few nights were spent making the bowl scan for any sugar polymers in it and break them down into actual sugar, though Alice did not trust it with anything more than boiled tree bark and leaves. The fizz of escaping gas as the wood and leaves disintegrated was somewhat disturbing, but their food would run out pretty soon. Ri and Foet did not complain.
    Alice had also been forced to make one of the stoppers for their waterskins conjure water when the trail went two days without seeing a river. The cost in potential of conjuring pure water was far too high to contemplate but with two sorcerers and practically endless sugar to feed their energy, they managed it.
    This was not to say that they progressed quickly. Ten year old children did not walk fast and even though their active life in the village made her more fit than Petra's own childhood, Alice could not walk for the entire day.
    If it wasn't for Alice's sugar bowl, she was sure the other two would have simply given up in exhaustion. Alice had no idea how Ri and Foet could greedily gulp down entire bowls, the leafy taste was far too strong for her. But sugar was a rare delicacy in the village, while Petra was used to much better.
    Four nights into the chase, Alice was taking the middle watch again, like she always did. The concealed fire behind her kept her warm against the night but Alice kept her eyes on blackness of the light forest and night sky to avoid spoiling her vision.
    In her hands, the rune tool clicked round and round, building the Record for the tube of wood she carved during their daytime rests. Unlike the arm length kinetic launcher beside Alice, this one was a short barreled, lower power weapon. It would still be very dangerous and go through most wearable armour, but the pistol version consumed less power to fire and was handier.
    Eventually, Alice hoped to break her original kinetic launcher's steel barrel in two and use it to make two pistols. But that would have to come later.
    There was a whimper behind her. Tonight as well then.
    Alice sighed and put a hand to her side, shaking her sister awake gently.
    None of their nights had been undisturbed. Either Ri or Foet would toss and turn with nightmares, though Foet tried to conceal her distress.
    "Alice?" Ri asked, hugging her leg sleepily.
    "I'm here," Alice said, trying to sound reassuring. The click click of her rune tool did not stop, however.
    "Will mama be okay?"
    Alice kept her sigh to herself and nodded, "we'll find her. I promise. "
    There was a pause. "They'll make mama wear one of these, right?" Ri asked again. The metallic ting of her fingernails told Alice what she was referring to.
    Alice paused her hands. How much did Ri understand? Or did she catch Alice in one of her many horror-struck moments?
    "She'll be okay," Alice repeated. She had better be.
    To be honest, Alice had no idea why the collars hadn't turned Ri and Foet into... those things. The collars hand't seemed to do anything but weigh both of them down. However, Alice had no idea what the mechanism of action was supposed to be, beyond Record corruption. So maybe there was hope.
    Maybe Alice could manage to free her mother from wherever slaves went. Or buy her. And also persuade whichever slavers there were to free her sister and friend. Somehow.
    And to be taken seriously in her ten year old body, Alice would need an equalizer. Hence her current project.
    She worked her stilled fingers, filling the night with the quiet but steady clicks.
    "Do you get bad dreams?"
    Alice paused again and looked at the night shrouded form of her sister, only a visible dark shape against the glow of their smouldering fire.
    "I do," she confessed. Dreams of her parents turning into one of those things, dreams of Ri and Foet slowly warping, dreams of the world filled with nothing but slavering barely-human zombies wearing collars.
    Alice could not afford to dwell on them.
    "I keep seeing the fire and the rocks," Ri continued, "that earth sorcerer woman and her fighters. They fight and they're scary. And then they die. Sometimes, you kill them. Sometimes, I kill them. Sometimes they kill papa and mama and our brothers. "
    Her sister shifted and Alice knew she was looking at the kinetic launcher. Come to think of it, Ri had been around to see her explode heads. Possibly more in the subsequent chase.
    Alice had barely thought of her targets. She had killed, she had been in a stressful and violent situation with naked hostility directed at her, something that Petra's society had known should cause shock and adverse reactions. But none of that had happened to Alice. The violence she had unleashed did not trouble her.
    Maybe it was the collars, she had her own demons and they were much worse than Alice killing a person who she, admittedly, really wanted to kill.
    "It'll be alright. You'll be alright," was all Alice could say.
    Petra had no idea how to treat shock.
    Alice sat there beside her sister, watching the stars in the night sky. Her ancient memories had never seen stars like this. Not in all of Petra's hundred years. The lack of light pollution allowed the full panoply to parade overhead, a stark beauty compared to their somber mood.
    "If you can't sleep, you can take the next watch," Alice said eventually, it was almost time to change over. Her sister sat up to take her place.
    Alice put away her tools and lay down on the hard ground with nothing more than her cloak. Relying on ten year old children to keep watch was not ideal but Alice had to sleep sometime. Even if her sleep was on uncomfortable ground, she had to accept it. They would be pressing onwards all day tomorrow as well.
    They never caught sight of the party of sorcerers they were trailing.

    The first thing Alice noticed about the town was that it had been on fire.
    The sorcerers they were following had entered the town, probably, and there wasn't a way to tell if they had proceeded onwards or stopped here. Before this, on the road, the party was the largest group to have passed in recent times and they stuck together. Easy to follow. The tracks had gotten blurrier as they approached the town but Alice remained confident her mother had been brought here.
    The road had become more traveled as she led them towards the town, with the land beginning to be covered densely with farms, buildings grew more common until in the town itself, there was nothing but buildings and roads. There was no sharp dividing line separating the boundaries of the town, it was more a gradual transition into a place where people gathered.
    Townsfolk walked past the three of them, sometimes their eyes held curiousity at the three dirty and exhausted children, some rare travellers had pity. But no one tried to talk to them.
    "It's not walled," Alice noted as the town center came in sight. That let her see how one entire side of the visible buildings were damaged. Chunks had been knocked out of some and scorched ruins were all that remained of others. Men and women crawled over them, hauling rubble and items away.
    "What are we going to do?" Ri asked, clinging nervously to Alice. The passing couple glanced at them, causing her to tense up. She only relaxed once the pair of farmers had passed.
    "My father has family here," Foet said, looking around for anyone who might look like a fire sorcerer. "He told me stories about his cousins and sister in Cava Town. The Naivi clan lives here. "
    Alice looked at Foet in surprise, this was the first she had heard of this. But the girl's face was drawn in exhaustion and she had simply not thought to explain it before. "That's as good a plan as any. Better than my idea of trying to get a slaver to free the two of you. Your clan needs to know their village was attacked and maybe they will want to take us in. "
    Oh, they would definitely want to. If it got her mother free, Alice would not mind tying herself to the Naivi with her understanding of Records. Alice glanced at Ri and decided not to mention it. Her father had been adamant that Alice would only be exploited and his quiet rants about the evils of the clans would only make Ri frightened for Alice.
    For her mother, she would do it.
    Foet didn't move.
    "Do you know where the Naivi are in this town?" Alice asked.
    The girl shook her head.
    Alice bit back a sigh. She was just tired, both of them were, and Alice could not be irritable. She scrubbed a hand over her face and nodded.
    "Alright, we go with my first plan. We find a place to sleep tonight and ask around, quietly, tomorrow for the Naivi. Remember that the group who attacked our village came to this town too, we don't want them to know we followed them. "
    Alice got nods of understanding from her sister and friend and they set off into the dense streets to find a corner.

  2. - Top - End - #182
    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 June 3 to June 9!


    Lycunadari passes with 9 nature photos.

    jseah passes with 1520 words for Inherited Memory Girl.

    5crownik007 didn't upload/send me anything.


    Thus 5crownik007 FAILs this round!

    Lycunadari and jseah PASS this round!



    Current standing:
    Spoiler
    Show

    Lycunadari
    Current run: 334 weeks
    Longest run: -

    jseah
    Current Run: 173 weeks
    Longest Run: 33 weeks

    5crownik007
    Current run: -
    Longest run: 2 weeks



    ----

    Flowersss~
    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 - #183
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

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

    412 for Hero's War
    Spoiler
    Show
    Morey frowned as he watched the ruins. First Landing was positively crawling with people.
    He had not had the chance to inspect the ruined city the first time he was here. Right after the summoning's disaster, Amarante and her entourage had bundled him off to the capital.
    The broken down towers and weeds popping up in the cracked streets reminded Morey of post-apocalyptic art. Drainage along the roads with broken covers had turned into streams, their banks colonized with hardy plant life. Open gaps where windows used to be dotted the surface of each of the towers.
    Skyscrapers, Morey could recognize them, though the locals had no idea. Like the secure document room, the scope of a civilization that not only could build but also needed that level of population density or working places was beyond imagining.
    On the other hand, when the First civilization fell, the buildings left here would become a hazard without the expertise needed to maintain them. Streets had been blocked by collapsed towers, the surrounding ex-suburban land was bad for farming, the stone-like paved roads reduced water retention. No wonder this place had become abandoned ruins.
    There were differences to Earth's cities however. The primary building material appeared to be shaped and fused stone, not concrete. Weathered edifices of rock made each building seem like individual hollowed out mountains. The stone was light and strong, not like the normal rocks, resisting both crushing and tearing forces. And instead of shallow basements, the First dug deep into the ground.
    Morey's summoning had taken place in the chamber known as the Gate, as described by the First. Set into the most intact building remaining and in a central location, the place made for an obvious command center.
    And the Hero needed one.
    The arrival of the Hero and Companions spread through the supposedly abandoned city like wildfire. The searchers, questers and parties who had all descended on the place flocked to him. It was to Morey's annoyance to discover he had new titles now, beyond the ever popular Hero. Freedom's Torch wasn't too bad, but he really did not deserve Zombie Crusher.
    Word of the location of the Legendary Sword had resulted in a rush like nothing before, all wanting to be the one to find it. None had in the month or so between the news and Morey's arrival. So now they turned to the Hero, the one foretold to discover the Sword.


    Inherited Memory Girl chapter complete:
    https://forums.sufficientvelocity.co...#post-12633272

    Final word count: 4211
    Words added: 1170

  4. - Top - End - #184
    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 June 10 to June 16!


    Lycunadari passes with five pages of piano sheet music and four nature photos.

    jseah passes with 1170 words for Inherited Memory Girl and 412 words for Hero's War.

    5crownik007 didn't upload/send me anything.


    Thus 5crownik007 FAILs this round!

    Lycunadari and jseah PASS this round!



    Current standing:
    Spoiler
    Show

    Lycunadari
    Current run: 335 weeks
    Longest run: -

    jseah
    Current Run: 174 weeks
    Longest Run: 33 weeks

    5crownik007
    Current run: -
    Longest run: 2 weeks



    ----

    I transcribed a song! Power of Innocence from the Divinity: Original Sin soundtrack! Lot's of work, but it was worth it! Also, there are some flowers, as always (and a mushroom).
    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!

  5. - Top - End - #185
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

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

    467 for Inherited Memory Girl
    Spoiler
    Show
    Jim, son of Jimmy, was down on his luck.
    He was the son of an innkeeper, all set to take over the family business. His younger brothers and sisters were growing well. Wooing a cute wife from the farmers around town. And then the war between the Naivi and the Tos happened completely out of nowhere.
    There wasn't any reason for fighting. The two clans had a close relationship in this town of Cava, both called the place home. The Tos built things, the Naivi guarded the town from monsters. And while they got on as well as any two clans of sorcerers, at most friendly rivals, that was no reason for the all out slaughter that had occurred over the past week.
    Now his inn was destroyed, his family killed, and countless friends more. The girl he was wooing had fled the town with her family. And Jim was stealing in the name of some two bit thief gang just to get some bread to eat.
    The clans weren't keeping order and all the crooks and thieves were squabbling over the scraps of Naivi objects that escaped the notice of the Tos.
    But now, perhaps he was looking at his lucky chance. If he was just willing to sell three naive children to the slavers.
    The sort of action Jim was considering was not something that would have ever been allowed in normal times, but the Tos clan was severely diminished and their hold on the town was fraying. The word on the street was that the Tos had pissed off a major clan with their little war and the penalty was leaving them hurting for every scrap of money despite the loot they had pulled out of the ruins of the Naivi. A few extra slaves would not go amiss.
    And here, in front of him, was three tiny children who were wearing decent clothing and carried travel supplies.
    Jim clutched his dagger to himself as he watched them peer into an empty alley. For whatever reason, despite looking shockingly well-prepared for travel for children, they were not looking for accommodation. They seemed to be trying to find an out of the way place to sleep, like all the other alley rats in this broken town.
    Could he do this? Three innocent children, his youngest sister Clarensine was about their age.
    But everyone he knew was dead and Jim hadn't eaten in days.
    He stepped out of his corner to follow them into the alley only to see the open end of a metal tube pointed at him. Jim didn't know what that was but the grim look on the kid's face said it was a weapon.
    No, it looked like his luck was just getting worse and worse.


    New word total for Hero's War: 1529
    Words added: 1118
    Spoiler
    Show
    "It's interesting, these stones," Morey said, turning over a piece of broken building.
    The few adventurers gathered to follow the Hero just looked at each other uncertainly. Beside him, Ereli was in her starry-eyed mode, the same hero-worshipping attitude she displayed whenever Morey looked like he was about to do something strange and 'hero-like'.
    "Sir Hero, what are your commands?" asked one of the party leaders. The non-sequitur had made the atmosphere awkward, but none of them wanted to defy the Hero.
    Morey just fiddled with his rock and smiled, "there have been over a thousand adventurers combing these ruins more thoroughly than any archeological expedition in the last months. You have not found any trace of the Sword. There are no mysterious passwords, hidden passages or even any magic. You'd have found it after all. "
    The adventurers' unease merely became greater.
    "So, there's nothing I can do that you haven't done," the Hero said wryly, spreading his arms.
    "But you're the Hero!" The same party leader blurted out, his impatience getting the better of him.
    "And what can the Hero do that you cannot?" Morey shrugged, gesturing with his hand. The eyes of the watching adventurers were drawn to the rock still in his grasp.
    But though they heard his words, they did not listen. After all, he was the Hero, said to find the Sword.
    "Still, now you come to me to ask what I should tell you to do," Morey sighed dramatically, "very well. The Sword is in this city and if we do not have any clues, we simply have to do one thing. "
    He paused, looking at each of the party leaders.
    "Every rock, every wall. Anything that human hands have touched, we take it. Strip the city to the bedrock and we will find the Sword. "
    The storm of protests was furious as expected. Moving that much stone was impossible, not matter how light the building material of the First was, it was still stone. The ruins of First Landing was also far larger than any current city.
    The amount of manpower required to do this was beyond anything that the parties could afford. Even with a thousand strong adventurers working at it, they could take years to fully dismantle the ruins.
    Morey merely let their objections wash over him, fiddling with the rock in his hands as he met their protests with a serene confidence.
    "And what if I told you that this rock is worth quite a bit of money," Morey said, dumping the piece of building material in the hands of the nearest adventurer.
    The woman looked down at it, frowning.
    "It's a rock," she said eventually, "a light one, but you can't shape it to build new buildings. "
    "Yes, but we do know that rock is not light, and if it was made thin, cannot support weight like the buildings do. This is not a normal rock," Morey gestured Ereli, who had been standing in a corner. She trotted up to him and obediently placed a jar in his hands.
    The clear glass let everyone see its contents, courtesy of the new factory in the Ektal capital. The pile of metallic shavings inside looked almost like powder, but on closer examination, revealed themselves to be thin filaments.
    "This is the result of a great amount of ingenuity on the part of the University of Minmay," Morey explained. "I had a sample of the material sent to them beforehand and the results are surprising. When placed into a magically heated furnace that can melt rock, the material separates into two parts, one is the molten rock, the part left behind is this," he gestured at the jar, "and that is the secret as to why the stone can be made so porous and yet so strong. That... is crysteel.
    The filings cannot be forged by themselves, but when added to cast steel creates the strongest material we can yet make. And the one key ingredient is all around us. "

    Work proceeded rapidly after that. With Morey to organize the 'mining' operations, and smooth over logistical issues with his Hero title, the ruins were being dismantled at a great pace.
    Though many of the adventurers had left, their numbers were replaced with construction crews to dismantle buildings and ironworkers to manage the magic powered furnaces. The prodigious requirements of magic resulted in mana wells being drilled all along the outskirts.
    It took months. Buildings were knocked down with great care and the rubble fed to the furnaces' hungry maw. Furnaces controlled by summoners and spellstorms were raised hastily, exporting precious filings of crysteel. As the shorter buildings around the edge of the city were consumed, the operations moved inward.
    When starting his harvesting operation, Morey had not directed any sort of search pattern. The closest buildings were the first to go. But as time went on and the profitable operation became self-managing, Morey led teams into the center of the city, guessing which of the skyscrapers looked important enough to house a superweapon.
    In hindsight, the clues were obvious. The Summoning Circle was suspected to be the Gate, the time capsule records indicated the 'link' to the Sword was at the Gate.
    Morey never did find out how no one ever thought of dismantling the building with the Summoning Circle until he had demolished over fifty monuments of the past.
    They uncovered a sealed shaft below the summoning room, itself at the bottom of the six storeys deep basement of its building. This shaft, though lined with crysteel, had been plugged with solid building material through its entire length. The shaft had led somewhere once, but the First had later sealed it beyond reason.
    And down it went into the earth. The drilling and digging operation was helped by the straight open shaft, but the tough material was like rock and required powered tools to remove in any reasonable time.
    As they began to approach the bottom though, scholars began to arrive. The University sent a delegation. The Academy, learning of their rival's actions, sent their own. The closest ruins to the Summoning Circle had turned into a semi-permanent camp as people waited for the breakthrough.
    So it was quite a disappointment when the bottom of the shaft was reached and there was only a single empty crysteel chamber, with tiny runes carved so densely into the walls that from afar, they looked like a twisting random pattern.
    It was not the language of the First and no one could read it.

  6. - Top - End - #186
    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 June 17 to June 23!


    Lycunadari passes with five city photos and a bunch of comic panels.

    jseah passes with 467 words for Inherited Memory Girl and 1118 words for Hero's War.

    5crownik007 didn't upload/send me anything.


    Thus 5crownik007 FAILs this round!

    Lycunadari and jseah PASS this round!



    Current standing:
    Spoiler
    Show

    Lycunadari
    Current run: 336 weeks
    Longest run: -

    jseah
    Current Run: 175 weeks
    Longest Run: 33 weeks

    5crownik007
    Current run: -
    Longest run: 2 weeks



    ----

    I started working on a comic about living with chronic pain, but I'd rather not upload anything of that before the whole thing is finished. Here, have some photos instead.
    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!

  7. - Top - End - #187
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

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

    Hero's War
    New word count: 2578
    Words added: 1049
    Spoiler
    Show
    Morey examined the sheafs of runes on the table. Meticulous copies of the runes were being made and transported up by rotating teams of scholars. Or their apprentices at least. The actual scholars were trying to piece together the language or the function of the room. Morey had decided to take a look just in case being a Hero made him specially able to decipher it. No such luck.
    Here, the copies of the runes were stored in a tent just across the street from the Gate building. Once a day, the latest batch of copies were brought here to be filed and stored, sheltered from the rest of the demolition work going on around them.
    Outside the library tent, the sounds of demolishing and deconstruction continued unabated. After overlooking the shaft next to the Gate, Morey was not going to take the risk of further embarrassment if the Sword was in fact somewhere else. There was still a distinct lack of mysterious ruins or sharp pointy sticks however.
    The rustling of the tent flaps drew Morey's attention away from the runes.
    "Ah, Nal, did you need something?"
    The short spellstorm standing at the entrance to the tent just looked awkward.
    "You found the Sword. " She said eventually.
    Oh. They were going to have a Moment, weren't they? Morey strode three steps to the entrance and stuck his head outside. The bustle of people and rekis dragging carts down the street did not hide Ereli who was standing guard over the tent. She gave him a thumbs up and a cheeky grin.
    Morey shook his head and came back in, only to find Nal trying to burn a hole in the floor with her eyes.
    "Are you going to go home?" she asked, still not willing to meet his eyes.
    Morey gulped. To be frank, he didn't really know what to say. He hadn't made up his mind whether he wanted to stay if he had the option of returning to his life on Earth.
    He sat back on his chair. Nal had been circling him ever since they found the shaft to the Sword, and Morey still hadn't answered her pledge from Illastein. It made him feel bad for stringing her along. Was she now asking him to make his decision? Though Morey was sure she would continue to wait if he asked her to.
    One part of him was tempted to say yes. Being a Hero had got Morey into many dangerous situations, he had to fight, he had to kill. And even the greatest rewards that Morey could have asked for would pale beside a modern middle class living. Cato's efforts in the north might get there eventually, but to get the same comforts as modern Earth would be the work of generations.
    On the other hand, being a Hero gave Morey respect. Unearned in most cases, true, but Morey had to admit that having that respect felt nice. Plus not all of it was undeserving, Morey had made a difference for the slaves of Illastein.
    And there was the matter of Nal. She might be short and cute but the fiery girl had passion all out of size of her body. It was very flattering that she was attracted to him so strongly. Morey might not feel the same level of attraction, but he thought spending a life with her would not be unpleasant.
    Should he just don the mantle of the Hero, save the kingdom and marry the girl?
    He glanced down at the papers stacked around the tent. Nal was still fidgeting. The runes seemed to taunt him, the last secret of the Hero's Legend that was sealed behind a language barrier. A Sword that could both return him and destroy mankind's enemies.
    It made no sense, a weapon of mass destruction that Morey suspected it was could not possibly send someone between universes, unless its destructive potential was a side effect of inter-universe transport? That might be a thought worth considering.
    Or perhaps he could have his cake and eat it.
    The warning given to people who wanted to follow the First in their Migration was that the Gate led elsewhere. Maybe to hostile worlds. The implied out-of-universe Migration implied that it was possible to send large numbers of people through. Why would the Sword or the Gate only send Morey back? It was more plausible that the Summoning Circle in its current form was something like a search engine built on top of a transport mechanism.
    Wasn't it conceivable that if they could understand how the Sword worked, understand how Morey and Cato were summoned, then they could send people to and fro?
    As the Hero, Morey wielded enormous influence in the Inath Federation. Growing up on Earth, he understood his world and how to approach it.
    And just like that, it clicked. This was something Morey could do, a path he could dedicate himself to, if it was possible.
    "Nal," he ignored the way her shoulders jumped nervously, "if I was to find a way home, I will find a way to make sure you can come. If we can open a Gate to my world using the Sword, then we can do far more than just let me go home. Being a diplomat sounds like a fine job for a retired Hero, don't you think?"
    The flicker of incomprehension that passed across her face was overwhelmed with surprise a moment later.
    "And of course, I'd love to have a cute and deadly girl like you with me," he smiled, trying to lighten the atmosphere.
    Nal merely frowned however, "but what if that's not possible? What if the Sword really can only send the Hero home?"
    "I don't think so, but we'll cross that bridge if it happens. "


    Inherited Memory Girl
    New Word Count: 992
    Words added: 525
    Spoiler
    Show
    The girl did not shoot. Jim cracked open a nervous eye but she just looked at him with that terrible blank face and the shiny metal tube.
    "Good," she said eventually, "do as I say and you'll live. Maybe you'll even make some money. Now sit, I have questions. "
    Jim blinked as she gestured at the floor with her stubby metal tube.
    "I said sit down," the girl barked and he hastened to comply.
    "Throw the knife in that corner. "
    Not wanting to test the deadly girl's patience again, Jim the now ex-thief discarded his weapon. It hadn't done his partner any good.
    The following questions were as strange as they came. Simple things like what money looked like and how much it was worth. Daily life and the short summary of the current troubles plaguing this town. The girl, and her two collared companions who acted nothing like slaves, seemed extremely interested in the slave traders and she breathed a sigh of relief when Jim confirmed that the smaller of the two slaver business had acquired some slaves recently.
    When he mentioned that the slavers were going to train the slaves here, Jim almost thought he was going to die. The anger in the girl's eyes flashed brighter than even when she had killed his partner.
    After that, she became very interested in how much she could get for various materials.
    "Iron, huh," the girl nodded. "And artifact metal? What about potential storage crystals?"
    Jim felt his eye twitch. The casual way she mentioned those materials made his hair stand on end, as if they weren't important to her at all. The metal of her frightening tube gleamed at him in the dim alley.
    "I don't know how much you could sell artifact metal for, but potential storage crystals are all being collected by the clans. All you'll get is a finder's fee, if the Tos don't just kill you for handling it. " Not that normal people had any use for them, being unable to use magic.

  8. - Top - End - #188
    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 June 24 to June 30!


    Lycunadari passes with 8 nature photos.

    jseah passes with 525 words for Inherited Memory Girl and 1049 words for Hero's War.

    5crownik007 didn't upload/send me anything.


    Thus 5crownik007 FAILs this round!

    Lycunadari and jseah PASS this round!



    Current standing:
    Spoiler
    Show

    Lycunadari
    Current run: 337 weeks
    Longest run: -

    jseah
    Current Run: 176 weeks
    Longest Run: 33 weeks

    5crownik007
    Current run: -
    Longest run: 2 weeks



    ----

    Flower time, featuring bugs!
    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!

  9. - Top - End - #189
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    5crownik007's Avatar

    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    Location
    Australia
    Gender
    Male

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

    We'll be returning from hiatus shortly.
    "You... little... *****. It's what my old man called me, it's like it was my name, and I proved him right, by killing all the wrong people. [And], I love ya Henry, and I'll never call you anything but your name, but you gotta decide; are you gonna lay there, swallow that blood in your mouth, or are you gonna stand up, spit it out, and go spill theirs?" - Unknown

  10. - Top - End - #190
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

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

    Hero's War
    new word count: 3472
    words added: 894
    Spoiler
    Show
    The queen's arrival was not quite a surprise but still too fast to really make preparations. All the girls except Locoss managed to find some presentable clothing and pretty up the Hero's tent, and the camp of builders and adventurers was cleaner than it had been in its short life of a few months. But Morey just felt somewhat lost, no one really knew where Morey stood in relation to Queen Amarante.
    They hadn't believed him when Morey said that the queen didn't really care about these formalities. Even Locoss refused to participate on the grounds that she was not presentable due to her disability.
    He almost felt like saying 'told you so' when the queen and leader of the Inath Federation arrived with zero fanfare. Just her escort and a few servants, plus the hulking shadow of her general.
    "Sir Morey," the queen gave an elegant bow, if appropriately shallow, "I offer my congratulations at your find, none could have done this save the Hero. I hope that your journey is soon at its end and humanity's deliverance at hand. It is now that I shall explain further the circumstances behind the Sword and my confidence in you. "
    The Hero's party, as the four girls were being called now, were seated behind Morey, who sat across from the long meeting table to the Queen. At her right was General Vorril, looking slightly bored. No one else was allowed into the tent.
    The Queen smiled and nodded casually at Nal as the diminutive woman served her a cup of tea before pouring a cup for Morey and taking a seat beside him.
    "I am sure that throughout your journey you would have had doubts. And to be frank, so did I. There was a time in your reform of Illastein that I had thought my interpretations of the legends were in error and that you wouldn't find the Sword. But your find of the cache there and now what is most likely the Sword has validated the prophecy. I am certain you are the Hero, as only the Hero would find the Sword. "
    Morey politely refrained from commenting. The backwards criteria was obviously flawed but the queen was quite the lover of old stories and Morey wouldn't be able to discourage her belief in prophecies and legends.
    "There is one story that I did not tell you. Passed down the royal line of Inath from the troubled days before the Migration, this legend is known to the successors of the throne and those they deem fit to tell. It is said that the Royal Line of Inath descends from the Forgers of the Circle, all the way back to the Hero Legan who claimed this land for humans. And when the Hero returns from beyond this world, he will need our seal in order to save the kingdom. "
    The queen produced a slim leather box from a hidden pocket in her dress. Laying it open on the table, Morey could see a black rod lying in the soft velvet padding. It was a jet black cylinder no more than a handspan tall, about as wide as two fingers. For an artifact that supposed survived since the dawn of time, it was in excellent shape.
    The perfectly smooth surface was marred only by twisting lines of runes carved into the sides. The size and density of them reminded Morey of a certain troublesome chamber deep underground.
    "The seal of the monarchy is a mysterious thing. The legend of our line mentions that it was forged before the Great Wars, as a symbol of authority and power. It is said to be the key to the Sword of the First. And hence why I will now turn this over to you. When I had first thought the Sword was an actual sword, I wondered if I had to awake its power by touching the seal to it. But given the revelation of the Sword's identity at the cache, I suspect now that this seal, in your hands, will be the key to awakening the Sword as a weapon once more. "
    With that, Amarante pushed the box containing the Inath seal of office to Morey.
    Morey looked down at the small black rod, feeling as if the weight of the world was now held in front of him. The Sword was a superweapon that could blow apart mountains. If her story was right, and the runes looked really authentic, this rod was analogous to the launch keys of a nuclear weapon.
    He wasn't even annoyed that Amarante had kept this from Morey. He wouldn't tell a Hero either if he was in her shoes.
    "Shall we head down then?" he asked, getting an enthusiastic nod from the queen. As if she was on a tour of a fascinating historical museum, instead of approaching a weapon of mass destruction.
    As the girls and Vorril left the tent first, Amarante brushed past Morey and whispered with a mischievous grin, "I'm willing to release Nal from her oaths, if you wish. I wish you both all the best. "


    Inherited Memory Girl
    new word count: 1647
    words added: 655
    Spoiler
    Show
    "Gold is expensive, huh," the girl frowned as if in confusion. But that couldn't be right? Everyone knew gold was the very meaning of value. Jim said nothing, however. "And artifact metal? What about potential storage crystals?"
    Jim felt his eye twitch. The casual way she mentioned those materials made his hair stand on end, as if they weren't important to her at all. The metal of her frightening tube gleamed at him in the dim alley.
    "I don't know how much you could sell artifact metal for, but potential fragments are all being collected by the clans. All you'll get is a finder's fee, if the Tos don't just kill you for handling it. " Not that normal people had any use for them, being unable to use magic.
    "Right, none of that then," the girl nodded. "What about iron?"
    "The town blacksmith might buy some, if it was good," was all Jim could tell her. It wasn't as if Jim knew anything about iron.
    The girl sighed and let her weapon drop a little. Her eyes still watched him and Jim was still sure that if he made a sudden movement, he would be just as dead.
    "You're a thief, yes?" the girl asked him.
    Jim nodded reluctantly. It was a bit late to deny it now.
    "That means you know where you can sell things without too many questions? Good. Would you like to earn some money?"

    Alice poked at the embers of their campfire, feeding the flame into something that could actually warm them.
    The thief had answered many of her questions about this town. The sense of incongruity she had while watching the people there had been explained.
    Petra had money be a fundamental part of her world. Everything that could be bought was bought with money. Alice had assumed that the lack of this in her village was just because their community was so tightly knit that barter could still function. She had assumed that in a proper market town like Cava, money would be used as a medium of exchange.
    Apparently, she was wrong. Money was indeed used for buying things but this was purely for the larger exchanges. The smallest unit of currency, a bite, represented by a sackful of flour, enough to feed someone for a month. The smaller bits were just informal measures, a method of tallying a tab the shop extended to you. Everything else was done on the credit of the clans.
    This was handily also measured in bites, with one bite being the value of an untrained peasant's labour for a month. It said a lot about the structure of this economy that the very currency was pegged to the value of labour, and said labour's price was the same as the amount of food it took to feed that person. The clans collected bites in the form of taxes on labour or produce, and paid it out to their vassals directly employed by them in the form of goods and services provided by said taxes. Bites were not paid back to the clans and rarely exchanged between the peasants.
    The only time actual physical currency was used, being coins made of precious metals, was to settle debts between clans. There was no middle class, no such thing as wages, not even any wealthy merchants as all major trades were performed by the clans and their vassals. The blacksmith Jim had mentioned was in fact a vassal of the Tos, paid enough food to feed his family in exchange for his smithing services. The Naivi had done their own smithing, being a Fire clan.
    Rule of law was also non-existent, the clans held power over a region by force, they enforced rules at their own discretion, if rules were even present at all.
    After hearing that, Alice had decided that staying in the town was too dangerous. She had evacuated to the countryside, hiding out in the light forest.
    She still had to come up with some way of getting that rare physical currency, the slavers were a rare trade that actually accepted those. The value of slaves was decently high, finding use primarily as fearless cannon fodder and trustable servants.
    Alice suspected that no matter what she came up with, that thief gang of Jim's would have trouble actually getting their hands on physical currency.

  11. - Top - End - #191
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    5crownik007's Avatar

    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    Location
    Australia
    Gender
    Male

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

    The Short Way Down, 1546 words:
    Spoiler: The Short Way Down
    Show
    I pushed my back off of the ground, but I felt as though the gravity was crushing my body into the ground, preventing me from standing. The ringing in my ears made everything sound distant, and the footfalls of an insurgent stepping toward me seemed as though they could have been kilometres away. With a boot planted directly into my chest, and a gun pointed at my face, I was reassured that the insurgents were in fact mere metres away.

    “Don’t try anything stupid, *******.” He had me dead to rights, finger squeezing the trigger. His boot threatened to crush my ribs, taking advantage of the planet’s greater gravity. “Must hurt to be on a real planet, spacer.” He adjusted his rifle and took aim, but at that moment, his squad leader called out, “Cut the crap, that’s not the target. OPCOM says we’ve got 60 seconds!”

    The Redan CoB struggled with all the might he had remaining. Unfortunately, the blood loss had begun to take him, and the younger, stronger men from the planet soon overpowered the aging, spaceborn officer. Forced to his knees, he remained silent, but looked up at the insurgent squad leader. Leaning against a nearby crate, the man who had just outlined the necessity of haste to his men took precious seconds to gloat to his victim, “Hello there Major- and I assume you’re the Redan Commander on Base, ne? Well, you can’t command a base that won’t be there anymore.”

    When the CoB didn’t respond, the insurgent’s smile disappeared and he returned to his authoritarian role. The insurgents left as quickly as they came. The silence was deafening. Though the ringing in my ears had subsided, nearby sounds remained muffled, out of reach. Regardless, I pushed the crushing weight of my body to my feet.

    The whole world seemed to have turned onto its side in a matter of moments. Soldiers lay dead all over, and the living seemed too stunned to assist in any way. Surveying the damage to the camp, I felt an unknown dread, and the words of the insurgent rang in my head, ‘You can’t command a base that won’t be there anymore.’ My eyes fixed on the Thomas Car, and with shaking legs, I stumbled toward it.

    Falling into the driver’s seat, I started the vehicle and stuck my foot into the accelerator pedal. Blinking hard, I drove with the best possible speed to the coast. There, along the cliffside was the Redan Forward Operating Base. They needed to be warned. Breaking several traffic laws, and scratching many cars, I swerved onto the coastal road and crushed the brake pedal into the floor. A hideous screech emerged into the air as I stopped in the middle of an intersection.

    I had seen photographs of the ocean, but this experience was irreplicable. The shining visage of the water under the blazing sun had me with mouth agape and mind blank. For a moment, I had forgotten the urgency of the situation in the face of the stunning beauty. Just then, the deafening buzz of a car horn awoke me from my trance, and I once more put rubber to road.

    Frantically driving straight down the coastal road, regular pedestrians scrambled out of my path as I made no adjustment for them, save a honk of a horn and a slight hair of a turn. Eventually, the people thinned out, and the road turned into a debilitatingly unstable dirt path. I made no halt, nor did I decelerate on my rush. The right hand side of the road swiftly turned from stable ground into a certainly fatal drop into the ocean and rocks. My turns along the cliffside path sent loose stones plummeting into the water below.

    Finally arriving at the base, the perimeter guards gave one warning shout, “Halt the vehicle immediately! We will fire upon you!” Practically unable to contain myself in the vehicle any longer, I skidded to a stop and stumbled out onto the dirt. Running, I yelled as loudly as possible, “Insurgents are attacking! There’s going to be an attack!” The guards, mercifully did not shred me with automatic gunfire, but remained cautious. As I ran into the camp, I felt like the messenger from the ancient Battle of Marathon, though I was not here to announce a victory.

    Soldiers gathered, and a junior officer decided he was best to console me, “Yes, we know, insurgents struck the outpost with the CoB. It’s all under control, we’re tracking them right now.”
    “You don’t understand, they’re going to attack here!”
    “Here? We’re ready for any attack that hodgepodge can throw.”
    The enlisted men had returned to their duties, and the junior officer began to lead me further into the base. “See, we’ve got anti-air, the road’s covered and same for the water. We’re too heavily fortified, there’s no way they’d-”

    A plume of dirt flew into the sky, and the whole cliffside shook. Deafening sonic booms filled the air. The chaos had followed me, people began to yell, the junior officer beside me ran for cover and the air was filled with a cloud of dirt. I was nearly frozen, but I managed to crouch behind a concrete building. I cowered there, fearing for my life, searching for some hidden resolve, but finding nothing.

    Buildings began to be completely destroyed as projectiles from the sky destroyed them completely. Solid concrete structures simply wiped from the cliffside, as though they were deleted from a computer. Shrapnel and concrete rained from the sky. Soon, all I could hear was my own breath, as I had begun to tune out the crashing of projectiles into the cliffside plateau.

    Suddenly, my weight shifted, and a tremendous cracking sound broke through the barrage of projectile impacts. The whole world began to tip onto its side, crates and supplies began to slide on the dirt, and I began to roll down a suddenly created incline. The barrage stopped, but the collapsing rocks replaced the roar of explosions. As well, I could hear the screaming of my comrades, my brothers and sisters in arms.

    Large chunks of the cracking rock plateau fell into the ocean, as men and supplies fell onto the rocks below and disturbed the calm ocean. I continued to fall as the whole plateau began to slide down the cliffside into the ocean. I reached the edge, and grabbed onto a concrete chunk, embedded into the ground. Looking down, I could see the fast approaching water and mustering some foolhardy bravado, I jumped from the landslide into the water. The respirator mask whirred loudly, as its design was limited to extracting oxygen from a gas, and not a liquid.

    I had never swam before, but instinct kept me well enough to swim up above the water. A massive wave formed as the main portion of the plateau smashed into the water. The screaming continued, only muffled occasionally as my head was plunged beneath the waves. Some debris was able to float, most notably the Thomas Cars. Men desperately paddled for the amphibious vehicles as if they were the only hope for survival.

    They were aware that drowning was no concern, as most of them were wearing sealed space suits with their own air supplies, but the instinctual fear of sinking in water overtook most of them, especially since many of them had not seen an ocean in their lives before now. I was near the coastal edge, and so desperately paddled for solid ground.

    As I sat on the rocky cliff face, shivering as the cold water dug into my veins, I helped some of my comrades up onto the dry and solid land. Terror still gripped me, as cold in my blood as the water, but there was no world in which I would sit idly and watch my brothers and sisters in arms scream for help. It took two hours before everyone was out of the water. We noticed that the colour of the liquid had changed. It had acquired a reddish hue, as the blood of dead soldiers had seeped into it.

    Less than a third of the original staff had survived the bombardment. Those who weren’t killed by explosions were crushed under falling debris and chunks of collapsing cliffside. Many had simply fallen onto rocks and died from the trauma. Floating bodies from the water were collected and piled together on the rocks. I stared upward, at the sky from which our attackers had struck.

    Looking back around, I recalled a statistic I had learned when I still hoped to avoid a military career: If you can kill 10 percent of a fighting force of men, their combat effectiveness is reduced by 90 percent. They hadn’t come to finish the job because they knew we weren’t an army anymore. We were just scared men.

    The chain of command was disfigured by the massive losses. With the CoB missing and many of the officers dead, it took hours to unify the scattered forces on the rocky banks. We were lucky- our new commander was a senior officer. Communicating with forces from outside the camp and with assistance from the local civilian population, we began to lift recovered supplies and personnel off of the cliffs.

    Oh man, some of my dialogue got censored.

    I have to show off this gem as well:
    Spoiler: Xykon and the Boys
    Show

    In an alternate universe where they're all evil friends still
    Last edited by 5crownik007; 2019-07-12 at 08:39 AM.
    "You... little... *****. It's what my old man called me, it's like it was my name, and I proved him right, by killing all the wrong people. [And], I love ya Henry, and I'll never call you anything but your name, but you gotta decide; are you gonna lay there, swallow that blood in your mouth, or are you gonna stand up, spit it out, and go spill theirs?" - Unknown

  12. - Top - End - #192
    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 July 1 to June 7!


    Lycunadari passes with a bunch of comic.

    jseah passes with 655 words for Inherited Memory Girl and 894 words for Hero's War.

    5crownik007 passes with 1546 words for The Short Way Down and one OOTS drawing.


    Thus nobody FAILs this round!

    Lycunadari, jseah and 5crownik007 PASS this round!



    Current standing:
    Spoiler
    Show

    Lycunadari
    Current run: 338 weeks
    Longest run: -

    jseah
    Current Run: 177 weeks
    Longest Run: 33 weeks

    5crownik007
    Current run: 1 week
    Longest run: 2 weeks



    ----

    I finished the comic!
    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!

  13. - Top - End - #193
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

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

    A Hero's War
    4234 new total
    762 new words
    Spoiler
    Show
    "I still think you were lucky. There was no guarantee they would have established a relationship. Did you do something?"
    Amarante looked up at her husband. She could feel an irreverent grin on her face that would have made her etiquette teachers faint in horror.
    "I didn't need to do anything," she said, looking at Morey and the Hero's party walk together. The girls orbited the man in the middle, even though he obviously favoured the spellstorm.
    "The girls are young, pretty, have interesting personalities and are motivated and intelligent. Morey is the Hero, a nice person and if I may put it crudely, not bad looking either. They go off on years long adventurers all over the Federation, fight together in exciting battles and do a task valued by nearly everyone who they meet. A relationship with one of them was practically inevitable, I just picked varied personalities so that one of the girls would be a good fit. "
    Vorril just grunted, "and if your bet failed?"
    She just shrugged, "you can't win all the time. But I do know that when the Hero first came to this world, he was confused and lost. Just like anyone else would be in this unfamiliar country fighting an unknown war. He needed people who he could trust, so I was prepared to give him exactly that. I like to think I am good at figuring out what people want. "
    "It's one of the reasons the Federation still sticks together," Vorril noted.
    Amarante giggled and skipped forwards. Her actions might seem too childish for the queen of Inath but her dream of seeing the Hero's Sword would soon be fulfilled! Anyone would be in high spirits, her husband was just too straight laced to really understand.
    The Hero's party and the queen entered the Summoning building. In the open shaft, an elevator had been installed. Driven by a steam engine, the relatively new device was one of the proud achievements of Minmay's technical prowess, and actually surprisingly reliable for a new invention. That said, given the august bodies riding in it today, the safety checks were done in triplicate and an engineer was on standby at every part of the device.
    The shaft into the earth emphasized to Amarante just how seriously the First treated the Sword. Any weapon that could erase entire mountains and cities, redrawing maps, was a power beyond what humans could wield. If they wanted to stay safe of course.
    She still did not understand how anyone could comprehend the icy logic of mutually assured destruction and stay sane. Morey had explained the Cold War that had existed in his world. The reduction of lives into numbers, into victories and defeat, where mistakes could spiral out of control into disaster and nearly had multiple times; that was not a path Amarante wanted the Federation to go down.
    The First and Tsar had destroyed themselves with their weapons, after all. Individuals might be found that could be trusted with that heavy responsibility of deciding when to use such weapons. But never the whole, someone would be crazy enough to use one. No, humans could not be trusted with this power.
    So Amarante had made sure the Hero who would wield it was not crazy. That he wasn't alone in this world without anyone to understand him. That he had seen the Federation in all its flaws and greatness, and had ties to its people, so he wouldn't be tempted into using the Sword as a threat to all the rest of mankind.
    That the Hero actually understood the concept of the superweapon better than anyone else in Inath was just a welcome bonus.
    Her musings came to an end as the elevator reached the bottom of the shaft. They all piled out to the small platform just above the room.
    The metal ladder leading downwards into the room it was traversed.
    And now, here at the end of the Hero's Journey, Amarante and Vorril faced the Hero, two of his party flanking him on each side. She solemnly drew out the seal of the Inath Kingdom.
    "I grant this seal to you, Hero of the Kingdom, that you may wield the Sword in its defence. "
    She presented the open box with the key to the most dangerous weapon in existence lying inside.
    With a nod, Morey reached out to take it. The key and the Hero stood in the middle of the room that controlled the Sword.
    Nothing happened at all.


    Inherited Memory Girl
    2414 new total
    767 words
    Spoiler
    Show
    The next morning saw Jim and three rough looking men meet them outside the town. The grassland was wide open, with little chance for ambush, part of the criteria that Alice had given Jim. The two parties stopped a few meters away from each other.
    The biggest guy in front glared at Jim. "Three little girls? You drag us all the way out of town to meet-"
    Bang! Alice's pistol barked once, blowing up a puff of soil and causing the men to jump. Jim actually patted himself down and sighed in relief when he noticed he hadn't gained any new holes.
    "Is that convincing enough?" she growled.
    As a ten year old girl, she sounded amusingly cute. But this puppy was backed up with real teeth and the juxtaposition made the thieves confused. Just how she liked it.
    The man paused. "Alright, Jim, I believe you. They do have an artifact after all. " He nodded to himself.
    "Are you the boss of the gang?" Alice asked.
    "I'm his brother, Addaz. I was told that you had things to trade. Discreetly. Got anything to show me?"
    At that, Alice spread out a mat of cloth with small items on them. "These are pure substances that I can easily obtain. Are any of these worth anything?"
    On the cloth was chunks of various substances that Alice had refined out of the soil with her new item. Separating compounds from a mixture was much less power hungry than conjuring them, separating elements was only slightly harder. The organic goop was buried, some of the purified elements caught fire the moment they appeared, but her plank of wood, coated with a thin layer of aluminum, was not a smart one. Making it purify every element by atomic weight was far easier than write special rules for everything. Compounds were somewhat harder to identify with runes but consumed less power to just move.
    Alice had kept the silicon and iron chunks, as well as the odd silica crystal. Magnesium was present as only a tiny strip, potassium had burned off. She wasn't sure if the graphite was going to be any good but she had too little information. To be honest, pulling pure iron out of the soil was her best hope for any sort of money. It was present in decent amounts and she could easily strip mine large chunks of grassland for pure iron ingots.
    Addaz waved at the slighter man standing behind him, "Quo, you used to help the Naivi traders. You take a look. "
    Meanwhile, Jim, Addaz and the last thief stood back while Quo approached. Alice nodded at their caution, even though the distance wasn't going to save them if she had to shoot.
    The ex-trader knelt down in front of her items, fingering them here and sniffing at them there. Foet and Ri were watching the other men while Alice made sure Quo didn't steal anything. She discreetly loaded another bullet into her pistol.
    "The iron is very good wrought iron. The purity is high, we can certainly sell it to the blacksmith," he commented eventually, putting down the chunk he had been rubbing with his thumbs. "But what is this?" he pointed at the silica chunk, "if I'm not wrong, this is quartz. Can you get this? In another shape perhaps?"
    Alice blinked. Quartz? Well, sixty percent of the soil was made of it, so of course she could. "If it's a simple shape, I could. What do you have in mind?"
    "And without the flaws? This piece is white, it has cracks in it that make it worthless. But pure clear quartz is very precious. Spheres? Flat sheets? How big can you make it?"
    Alice nodded. Yes, she could get rid of the flaws if she wanted. For that matter, she had forgotten about diamond, carbon wasn't exactly uncommon either. "I can get you some flawless quartz in spheres and flat sheets if you want it. As for size, let's say something the weight of a fistful per piece. "
    "Forget the iron," Quo said suddenly, "good clear quartz in flat sheets. Spheres or blocks can also be carved into items. "
    "Then let's talk about what you can get for us. "

  14. - Top - End - #194
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    5crownik007's Avatar

    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    Location
    Australia
    Gender
    Male

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

    1500 additional words, and just in time too.
    I'm on holiday, you'd think I'd find more time to write.
    Spoiler: The Short Way Down
    Show
    The land was claimed by the night once again. After everything was salvaged from the pit where the base used to be, Captain Marak ordered the entire Redan force to travel northeast. Even hours after the bombardment, none of us knew what had really happened. The bombardment came out of nowhere, and the projectiles seemed to be travelling at supersonic speeds.

    The convoy travelled in complete darkness. Almost everyone came equipped with night-vision in their suits as a standard piece of equipment. I was finally back in a suit- the same one that I had brought with me to the checkpoint where the CoB was taken. The Captain had ordered no supplies to be left behind, including those of the destroyed checkpoint.

    Luckily, before we left I had managed to consume a meal and rest for a short while. Though it was only for a short while, it was much appreciated after the previous days of mayhem. Unfortunately, since the bombardment, a strange perilous feeling had taken root in my chest, like an oppressive drumbeat in my own body.

    Rumours had come down the line that the rebels had launched an orbital weapons system, but it seemed unlikely considering our own orbital presence was quite powerful. The NCOs snuffed any chatter though. The command staff managed to contact high command, and since then had been keeping a tight lid on movements and plans. Some of the troops whispered that there was a spy in our ranks.

    I stared out into the monochrome landscape, only belit by infrared lamps. The rocky plains were completely barren, devoid of features beyond the random rocks. Then water began to fall from the sky. Most of the troops were bewildered, droplets of liquid fell onto visors all around. The convoy didn’t slow, the rain was light and most of us had been at least briefed on the atmospheric activity- but that didn’t take away from the fantastical element of water falling from above.

    It wasn’t too long before we arrived at our destination. We set up a camp throughout the night and rested in the morning. Many of us were still beleaguered by the harrowing experience of the bombardment, but we still pressed on. Eventually, I was called to a briefing, among several other troops.

    Inside the pressure tent, I was among nineteen other soldiers selected for the briefing. A small portion of the whole force. Captain Marak started up the briefing screen and stood at the head of a long table, while all of us sat on either side of it. With a heavy exhalation through the nose, he began the briefing.

    “High command has confirmed the source of the bombardment was from an orbital weapons system. ORSSAF, our very own weapons system has been hijacked.”
    Shock collected in my boots like water- the unwieldy acronym did not reveal the true power of ORSSAF. A ring of railguns distributed around the planet, capable of orbital bombardment over almost all of the planet’s landmass. And it had been taken over by the enemy. We all felt the air thicken, and breathing seemed to become more difficult.
    “That means we’ve got no space support and no more supplies incoming. We’ve got to take the insurgents with what we have.”
    We had rescued much of the supplies from the ocean, but not nearly enough to form an offensive. We lacked manpower, food and air. Most importantly we were low on power supplies and batteries. We could generate power slowly with the sun, but it wasn’t nearly fast enough.
    “Satellite intelligence confirms that there is an enemy position nearby- the same insurgents who took the Redan CoB and possibly those who took over the weapons system. They number between seventy and one hundred and twenty, are deeply entrenched and are well armed.”
    Our force numbered two hundred, but even with that number we wouldn’t be able to assault them. The enemy had defensive positions and a significant advantage over us. Most of the troops in the camp just wanted to leave. What worried me more was the lack of troops. Only us twenty were being briefed, and the others left in the dark.
    “You’ve been selected for this mission because we believe a surgical strike at the insurgents’ weak point will cripple them, leaving them open to a larger offensive.”


    The captain brought up the map and began to explain the plan. It was deceptively simple, but I couldn’t come up with any significant flaws- not that I was a masterful tactician. Twenty soldiers: Two pilots, eight infantrymen, three technicians, three demolitions specialists, three support gunners and an officers with a good head on his shoulders. The captain maintained a firm, commanding tone while explaining the plan, but it seemed as though there was a hidden fear that the plan wasn’t as good as he believed it was. A mere hint of doubt came across in his voice, but it was quickly snuffed.

    The CO for our mission was Lieutenant Viers. With a smile from ear to ear and a cheerful laugh, he reassured us all that the operation would go entirely according to plan. Fortunately, he didn’t simply underestimate the ability of the insurgents, he was merely confident in our own fighting strength, which seemed to be an inspiring force among our group. He introduced us all to our computer tablets and fireteams, allowing us to get more familiar with our individual parts in the plan.

    Looking over my portion of the plan, I spoke with the other pilot. She was short, stocky and had her hair tightly trimmed to regulation length. On her suit, she wore the patch of the 2nd Orbital Weapons Corps, as well as her gold wings, indicating exemplary service in aerial or cosmos combat. She must have been in the war for months before me.

    “Pilot Kerich, I’m Specialist Bronson. We’ll be in a fireteam together for this operation.” We didn’t build an especially strong rapport, but we looked over our own personal maps very closely to ensure the best understanding. She was terse, but strictly professional. Once we were dismissed and the briefing was over, she let down slightly, giving into some slightly casual conversation.

    “Bronson, you’re a Specialist, so how’d you catch those wings?”
    “I took courses before the war. Then, near Adama, our pilot caught an unlucky chunk of shrapnel through the neck and I filled in. We blew apart two coalition crafts and held the line.”
    I held back a snort, “And you only got gold wings? Where’s your commendation?”
    Surprisingly, she laughed, “The cap blacked out from the Gees and we caught a few too many railgun rounds below deck.”
    The sun illuminated the landscape around the camp, revealing the rocky plains in their colourful red and black visage.
    “Well, if we pull off this operation, I’m sure you’ll get that commendation.”
    We separated for the day, with a mutual trust that we knew that the other one was bound in arms with us, ready to fight.

    The insurgents had hoped to reduce our fighting effectiveness, and succeeded.But they hadn’t entirely removed us from the equation. Their fatal mistake was to allow us to leave Redan, as if they had fired on us from the cliffs above, we would have been slaughtered to the last man. Having regrouped and escaped, we were now angered and prepared to avenge our fallen.

    Over the following days, the remainder of our small company was drawn to be briefed on the second, larger strike section of the operation. The temporary mess hall was strangely empty, save for three infantrymen who had been briefed earlier and myself. We discussed our sections of the plan with each other. Strangely enough, the officers had not forbidden it, mentioning that team cohesion and recognition was more important than compartmentalization.

    The three infantrymen laughed madly about dying on the mission and the suicidal risk of their portion, but seemed to reserve any doubts for later. I assumed that they either had enough faith left after the bombardment- or were just afraid of getting shot from orbit again. Despite waiting for the operation, none of us were off duty. There were crucial vehicles and machines to maintain, defenses to prepare, locations to guard and no more planes to fly, meaning that I was chosen to do some of these dead-end jobs.

    The time had come. The infantrymen from earlier were silent, we all were. We all clipped on our gear harnesses, holstered our sidearms, loaded our weapons and moved to the vehicles we’d ride over to our starting positions. Watching for any sign of detection was paramount. The early part of the plan relied on stealth. Infiltrating the base undetected was the hingepin upon which the rest of the battle would swing. All the remaining gear and equipment was pulled from storage: IR-Opaque tarps, suit coolers, additional battery packs and even a few laser dazzlers to shut down optics. We were loaded and ready to retaliate.
    "You... little... *****. It's what my old man called me, it's like it was my name, and I proved him right, by killing all the wrong people. [And], I love ya Henry, and I'll never call you anything but your name, but you gotta decide; are you gonna lay there, swallow that blood in your mouth, or are you gonna stand up, spit it out, and go spill theirs?" - Unknown

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •