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Short Fiction Contest - 27/01/2014

Complete by DWMagus
Total votes: 2 (10%)
The Sailor by scousematt
Total votes: 1 (5%)
Translation by Just_Ice_au
Total votes: 2 (10%)
Memoirs by Tsjernobyl
(No votes)
Paperback by PeterD
(No votes)
Winner by Lum
(No votes)
Ex Miracula by ThymineC
Total votes: 2 (10%)
U.S. Rohan by BFett
(No votes)
Seeds by Grumblesaur
Total votes: 6 (30%)
Departure by outlander4
Total votes: 1 (5%)
Last by Behemoth
(No votes)
The last ship (a folk tale) by outlander4
Total votes: 6 (30%)
Total votes: 20
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Short Fiction Contest - 27/01/2014

#1
Competition has now ended and voting has commenced. Voting closes Friday January 31st at 11:59pm GMT

Everyone on the forums is invited to vote on their favourite story in the poll.

Thanks go to all our entrants for participating, all the submissions were fantastic.



Alright then,

Let's kick off our inaugural Short Fiction Contest. Contest closes Monday 27th January 2014.

This is the submissions thread, please post any comments in the Short (Short!) Fiction Contest thread. After submissions close we'll run a poll so people can pick their favourite story.

The Rules:
  • - Submissions should be approximately 300 words in length. Please, no novellas.
    - Multiple submissions are encouraged, but you may be asked to choose one to go to final voting.
    - Submitted stories should feature the competition's topic.
    - Original content only (obviously, plagiarism of any kind is discouraged).
    - Submissions should be posted in this thread by the stated deadline.
    - Submissions should include a title.
    - Have Fun!
Our first topic is:
Contest Topic wrote:The very last starship constructed in the Sol system.
Feel free to incorporate the topic into your story in any way you choose - You could tell us a story about why the ship was constructed, or the reason it is the last starship. The story could be about the crew of the starship, the civilisation that built it, or even the tale of how it was destroyed. Anything you like, so long as you mention the last starship.

That's it. Have fun guys, and if you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments thread.

Cheers, :thumbup: :wave:
- The Snark Knight

"Look upward, and share the wonders I've seen."
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Re: Short Fiction Contest - 27/01/2014

#2
Whipped this up in about 15 minutes. I figured I'd get in on this competition. Great idea Just Ice! :thumbup:


Complete

He looked with somber eyes upon the ship as the final welds were being made. It was a beautiful ship even though it was just like the other hundreds of thousands that had been assembled at this shipyard. However, it would be the last.

The communication had been brief before it was cut off.

“Unknown weapons…”

“…more massive than a hypernova-“

And then nothing.

Even out in the orbits of Jupiter with the gas harvesters he could see the brightening of the star that had provided warmth to the birth of humanity. The tiny speck was so brilliant, it almost felt like he was back on Earth.

There wouldn't be enough time. Though the light would reach the mightiest planet in the system before the explosion, there would be no time to escape; not if the communication from Mars was any indication.

Turning back to the large windows in his office overlooking the machinery silently working away in the dead of space, thoughts filled his mind.

Not questions of why, or what; but happiness that he was able to live out a long, fulfilling life. Helping mankind reach the stars and beyond was always a dream he had, and while humanity had spread far beyond this galaxy and had no risk of being extinguished, it was still bittersweet to see the motherly star in its dying breath.

He even wondered if thousands of generations from now, ‘Would researchers eventually look upon Sol the same way they do now with Eta Carinae?’

He smirked as the computer screen began blinking a single word. "Complete."
Image
Early Spring - 1055: Well, I made it to Boatmurdered, and my initial impressions can be set forth in three words: What. The. F*ck.
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Re: Short Fiction Contest - 27/01/2014

#3
The tide ebbed, the tide flowed. With the seasons, she took shape, slowly, but each sunset brought progress. Her keel was laid before the last satellites burned from the night sky, but the ribs had taken him more than two years. The search for spruice and cedar had overtaken the search for hope, the work everything.

There had been many missteps in the beginning, false dawns, while he fought to cope with his new world. His hands had hardened, his muscles learned to shape and fashion the timber and his mind endured.

Each night he would sit at his fire, burning the day's chippings, prising open a can from his inexhaustible supply. Waves washed against the breakwater gently rocking his eyes closed. Sometimes, on the brink of sleep, the waves murmured, a low conversation - like people before Magellan returned.

Those were the worst nights, past leaching into the present: first extra-Sol return, virus, sickness, death, Marie, Kurt. Everybody. The smell. The sheer aloneness. No, better to keep hands busy. Hard work gives deep sleep.

Don't think of the years wasted since the probe came back to Sol. Dead radios. Dead cities. No mammals. No birds. Nothing. No lights on the moon. Eight billion gone on Earth, yet the million lost lunar souls haunted his nights, a symbol of the danger of curiosity.

He had sailed between worlds, to the domes on Titan, the mines of Mercury, and now he prepared a last vessel. To sail among the stars once more and scream “Why me?” at the constellations.

He adjusted his footing and lowered a shoulder to change the angle of attack, the adze biting away at the wood, the edge growing ever closer to the pencil marking. Behind him the tide ebbed, the tide flowed.
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Re: Short Fiction Contest - 27/01/2014

#4
Translation

The stars were going dark.

Intellectually, Jonaii knew it was just the Hertz-Dornmeyer field coming up, preparing the solar system for the digital crystallisation process, but as each star was hidden from view, his heart grew heavier. He, like everyone aboard his ship, knew the Translation Project was a mistake.

Almost all his fellow objectors had fled the system long ago, but Jonaii's ship had taken the longest to complete. Now, he and his million passengers were aboard the very last ship to leave for the colonies.

With a thought, Jonaii switched his view towards the inner system. The massive conversion engines glowed with a haunting green witchlight, brighter than the sun at this distance. Jonaii shuddered; this place was no longer his home.

The Solarian battlecruiser escorting him to the edge of the field was hailing him. As if his small transport could pose a threat to the Project. The colonies had already sent a fleet; every ship they could spare thrown at Earth in a last-ditch attempt to destroy even one conversion engine. The Solarian forces had cut them to pieces in minutes.

"Captain Jonaii, we've reached the edge of the Translation field. This is as far as we go." The battlecruiser captain was a Cryster, his skin encrusted with the living gemstones, but maybe his crew could be persuaded.

"Come with us," Jonaii urged. "The colonies would welcome you with open arms."

The captain laughed. "The colonies are obsolete now. We've found a better way to live."

"You don't live! You calculate, you simulate, turning away from the galaxy, focussing yourselves inward. That's not the way."

"We're seeking perfection! We offered that to you too."

Jonaii snarled and cut the connection. Mankind's future lay out in the galaxy. Earth had lost sight of that.

Earth had lost sight of the stars.
- The Snark Knight

"Look upward, and share the wonders I've seen."
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Re: Short Fiction Contest - 27/01/2014

#5
Memoirs

We're Traversing the endless sea as I write about our final moments on earth, a memoir of those who were last.

It began when our lowlife ancestors started draining the sun's energy to supply their tireless consumption mayhem, with mighty ships they absorbed it for generations without paying attention to possible consequences. Until the trees began to grow shorter and their shapes went twisted, with it the oxygen supply of earth. Now our generation has to pay for it, and as the light gets dimmed we are in dire need of a new habitable world.

Boy do I recall the sight of our last ship "Earth's hope" as I stood with both my feet on her sandy bosom, in the middle of a leafless twisted forest. high in the sky "Earth's hope" sailed the cloudy sea as drop ships delivered goods and people, to bad not everyone could be saved. The wind was like the torment of darkness, the voice of mother nature who had all the rights to be hateful. Her cry made the chill winter air even colder.

"I'm scared dad" My three year old daughter stated whilst looking at me with glittering eyes, it was the most harrowing look in the universe. Her tiny hand reached high to lock with mine, for some time we stood there looking at the ship in the sky. If not for her I would never have built this ship, if not for her future I would never gave hope to so much people. I lifted her and walked into the last drop ship with my daughter's arms wrapped around my neck. "Everything is going to be fine dear."

Goddess of truth, I hate to lie. If only my ancestors would have loved earth as much as I love my daughter none of this would have happened.
http://youtube.com/watch?v=Mp35R--Jrmg
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Re: Short Fiction Contest - 27/01/2014

#6
Paperback

Darkness
Pinprick lights
Travel slowly
Left to right
Across the steel-glass window

Control panel
Buttons
Dials
Screens
With nothing to display

Communications set
Power light
Fading
Intermittent
Transmitted signal on loop

Recycler
Powered off
Fan
Silent
Filters inactive

Battery indicator
Round
Analogue
Needle dial
Pointing just above zero

Red neon
Every 5 seconds
Flashing
0%
Oxygen levels reported

Access door
Lock engaged
Handle
Sign
Manual operation only

Acceleration couch
Occupied
Humanoid
Still
Harness strapping occupant down

Occupant
Ancient suit
Silver
Metallic
Emergency evacuation use only

Helmet
Face plate open
Partially
Failed lock
Crack in catch mechanism

Humanoid
Mummified
Moisture stripped
Sunken
Bearded cheeks and chin

Right hand
Antique paperback book
Cover creased
Thumbed
Title: The Last Starship from Sol
Sorry, but your choice of avatar means I can't take anything you say seriously.
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Re: Short Fiction Contest - 27/01/2014

#7
Winner

The arrival of a Purple Committee delegation was reason enough to celebrate at least for a week, for they never came without The Tablets. More so in the very rare occasions when they came to an almost forgotten miner outpost.

He ended his shift a little earlier that day. Working on the newly prospected asteroid was hard enough, but the boring ride back home was twice as hard. By the time he arrived on the main dock, celebrations were on their peak. He had no thoughts for the Men in Purple nor for their Tables and only wanted to get to his bunk. The whole show wasn't for him, as he had very little hope for the future. However, things never went the way he wanted.

There were four purple suits waiting for him at his door, all of them bald, false-smiling, and condescending to hell. And along with them, there were several dozens of miners with their families. Their smiling wasn't false, though. They felt only happiness for him. One of the purple suits went a couple of steps ahead. It seemed almost impossible, but his smile went even wider. It’s almost inhuman, he thought.

“Mr. Morrison, I presume,” he said, already knowing. “It's my pleasure to bring you the best of news. Sir, your name is on The Tablets: you're an official Lottery winner! What are you feeling, Sir, knowing you'll be on board of the Last Sun?”

He felt nothing, said nothing. He simply went inside his shelter. By the time he packed all his stuff into a small backpack, the crowd outside literally blocked the whole section of the outpost. The ten-minute walk to the main dock took them a whole hour to complete.

Their shuttle was of a state-of-the-art smallness. He took one last look at the outpost and fell asleep, not knowing that it would be his last free sleep; for the Men in Purple weren't the elite behind humanity's last hope to evade extinction, but the cause of it.
I have been - and always shall be - your friend.
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Re: Short Fiction Contest - 27/01/2014

#8
Ex Miracula

In 2106, the world population teetered on the cusp of the 11 billion mark. The world's poorer nations had all collapsed into anarchy, people dying of starvation or massacre as often as they were being born. The remaining nations kept close and wary eyes on each other. Nuclear and antimatter missiles were readied, every country preparing against an imminent attack.

After 45 years of development, China's most secret project had at last reached completion. Underneath the Badain Jaran desert sands lay Baolei, the first interstellar-capable starship that humanity ever built. On November 24th 2106, "Exodus Day", the sands of the desert parted and the ship ignited into space. It's passengers were Earth's best and brightest, secretly collected by the Chinese government in the days preceding the launch. Baolei's mission was simple: find a new home for humanity.

The United States, detecting an "intense energy signature" and assuming an attack, immediately launched a flurry of missiles towards Badain Jaran, Shanghai and Beijing. Russia was next to fire, hastily returning fire at America, and it wasn't long before every other nation with ICBMs was contributing its own share.

Baolei left behind the world as it drowned itself in a sea of fire and radiation.

Baolei was a work of art and technological ingenuity. Powered by top-secret Chinese sustainable fusion power technology, it supported a population of 2000 people and used a solar sail array, combined with powerful sunlight-focusing satellites, to propel the ship across the void between worlds at considerable fractions of the speed of light.

Even still, it took decades for the vessel to travel between star systems. Hundreds of generations were born, lived and died on Baolei; As the centuries of searching passed, the vessel began to show its age. Systems were beginning to fail, the ship itself crumbling, and along with it any hope for the future survival of the species.

Until, one day, long-range sensors detected something unusually promising; a terrestrial planet in a distant system.

In 3208, as Baolei was nearing the end of its life, it arrived within the system and coasted towards the planet. And what a beautiful planet it was. It was like a virgin Earth, an untainted garden of Eden. Humanity set foot upon soil for the first time in over 1100 years.

The planet was named Ex Miracula, "Out of a Miracle".
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Re: Short Fiction Contest - 27/01/2014

#9
U.S. Rohan

The year was 61501 when the great seed ship left the remains of a run down shipyard. It was the last of a long line of ships to be made in the Sol system. Having collected the last of its resources the United Suns frigate Rohan departed Sol with the task of delivering its payload to the Rigel system.

Over the past millennium war with a strange alien species and corruption in the government had lead to wide spread chaos and the emergence of several governments spanning across dozens of systems. The war brought many of these governments to their knees. Destroying a way of life for many citizens who wished to earn an honest living. Smuggling and piracy became the norm with governments stealing technological advancements from one another. In 61379 the United Suns was formed to unite the scattered governments of the Milky Way. The formation of the United Suns helped drive back the hostile aliens but it also came with a cost. The orbital shipyard near Neptune was filled with damaged ships. Pirates began using the shipyard to piece together their fleets. The entire sol system became so infested with pirates that the United Suns decided to evacuate the entire system. The U.S. Rohan was designed and built in the following years.

In the years that followed pirate activity increased as resources in the sol system became more scarce. Then, 15 months later there was a battle between two of the pirate lords. Both sides suffered heavy casualties and a truce was made to leave the system. The citizens of sol were not aware of this conflict and departed the system with fears of being boarded by the once large pirate force. The events at sol eventually became pirate lore as they never returned to system again.
Image
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Re: Short Fiction Contest - 27/01/2014

#10
“All Seeds now boarding. The Gardener is now leaving the solar system. You may not leave your Seeds during the next 48 hours.”

“Here we are. In a metal box for the next few eons or so.”

“Surely not that long. There are plenty of Earthlike planets in the Milky Way, aren't there?”

"We can only hope they'll still be Earthlike when we arrive, if we arrive.”

“Why are you being such a downer? You volunteered for this.”

“I'm having regrets.”

“Should've had those before they locked the pods down.”

“Coulda shoulda woulda. Guess I'm not ready to be cryogenically frozen and blasted into the void in a hunk of metal.”

“Amelia, you're as prepared as anyone else on board. And you're not going to be alone, anyway. We're grouped up with the next five Seeds over.”

“I know, Cath. I know. But what if we don't—”

“Stop. We've been over this. They've tested this technology for decades now.”

“I know, I know! It's just... what if it takes too long to get to our planet and our cryochambers fail?”

“Look, do you remember the history textbooks? Some four or five hundred years ago and they put a man, no, two men on the moon with another in orbit? Back before the days of holograms or bioregenerative implants or even 64-bit computing? Back when they'd just figured out how to get a pen to work in space? Do you remember, Amelia?”

“Yeah, I remember, Cath.”

“If they could do it with no holograms, or bio-implants, or fancy computers—none of any of the stuff we've got in our Seed and indeed the entire Gardener—then have a little faith. Please.”

Amelia looked down and sighed.

[Approximately 48 Hours Later]

"All Seed inhabitants, please step into your cryochambers now. The process will begin once the chambers have sealed.”


“Are you all right?”

“Yeah, Cath. I'm all right. See you on the other side, wherever that'll be.”

“See you.”

Amelia's mind began to race as she stepped inside the chamber. A universe's worth of what ifs striking through her mind like a meteor shower. The containment shield glided up from the floor in front of her. She got a cold feeling. It felt like trying to fall asleep. It felt like screaming with no voice. It felt like drowning.

And, like the void, so too was her vision dark. The beds, bathroom door, the console all faded into an electronic hum, indifferent in its seemingly eternal decrescendo. Seed #90,000 was officially on its way.
Shameless Self-Promotion 0/ magenta 0/ Forum Rules & Game FAQ
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Re: Short Fiction Contest - 27/01/2014

#11
Well, I'm very (!) new here but I decided to post something as well. Not sure about the word count though, looks more like 400 to me.

Departure

His room didn't have any windows. In fact, none of the ship’s rooms had any, the hull being a monolithic structure made from carbon nanotubes interlaced with sapphire fibres. Instead, a small display was mounted on the wall showing real-time view of the planet below.

‘Do we really have to leave?’
‘One does not disobey Council’s orders. Our representative in the Council did all he could to let us stay part of the biosphere'
'And yet, we are being re-settled on another planet!'

Emeline’s voice was trembling. She didn't want to go. None of them wanted to go. He looked in the eyes of his crew – the men and women he knew all his life, and he read the same answer everywhere.

‘I have to prepare the ship for departure’

Half-an-hour later, when he was examining sloppy welding in the engine room, he received reports about delamination of composites everywhere along the hull. This ship may not even survive the jump. But if we don’t leave now, Council will just send one of their ships to pick us up. There must be another way. And, as he observed two of the Council’s destroyers wiping out the long-abandoned bases around the system, he made his decision.

‘Sol III 84-K is ready for departure. We’ll save you the trouble and de-orbit the construction dock ourselves’

Council’s officer on the flickering, noisy screen looked at him with disapproval, but agreed with the plan.

After two minutes of firing the main engine his ship with construction dock still attached was in a steep dive towards the planet.

‘Are you sure you don’t want to go?’

Emeline, scared but defiant, shook her head.

‘Release holding clumps. Retro-burn for three seconds, turn prograde, main engine burn till we are back in geostationary. Execute…now’

As the ship climbed higher, orbital dock entered the atmosphere and disappeared over the horizon. They were preparing for hyperspace jump when a single laser beam gently touched the ship’s communication arrays. The message contained only the word ‘success’.

‘They've splashed down!’
‘Does Council know that our old stations are capable of re-entry?’
‘No. And they won’t – the station itself must be deep beneath the sea by now. People will be scattered around the world to live in small communities. No electromagnetic emissions, no signs of civilisation, no industry, no humans affecting biosphere - exactly what Council wants of this planet. And we'll be a decoy, disappearing in the infinite space with all hands’
‘Defying the government and hiding thousands of people in the old orbital dock was crazy. You are crazy’

He laughed, and entered jump coordinates.

‘Sol III 84-K, exiting the Sol system now’
Image
Survivor of the Josh Parnell Blackout of 2015.
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Re: Short Fiction Contest - 27/01/2014

#12
First post ever. I hope you like it. It's short.

Last

Sol had been hiding in silence for eons after humanity left Earth for the last time. Their ruins were still visible as metallic structures slowly turning around, abadoned, as a mark of a vanished glory.

It would not last for long.

The ships came, and unleashed trillions of nanobots upon the silent and unsuspecting system. Slowly the nanobots used every atom of matter they could find to build the biggest armada the universe had seen. Every rock from the rings of Saturn and every drop from the core of the sun was used to build Capitals, Dreadnoughts, Carriers and fighters. The nanomachines danced in strict ordely patterns. They relayed the matter they collected to the main assembly system nearly as fast as light. The whole process took 48 hours, and after it, there was no longer Sol.

In the end, the nanobots started using themselves as materials. After that even they ran out, and the unfinished fighter thrusted to dock with its carrier. As its fusion reactor's plasma containment field shut down, the ship exploded in a blue fireball. Rest of the enormous armada left to fight its rival, leaving the remains behind

The remains of the last starship built in Sol.
In space, no one will hear you scream. #262626
I've never played a space sim. Ever.
Vos estis tan limes.
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Re: Short Fiction Contest - 27/01/2014

#13
Aaaand...a second, 'proper' entry.

The last ship (a folk tale)

Somewhere in the vastness of infinite space
Exists home to Humans, an ancient proud race
Were feared their warships, their spirits were bold
And their blue planet was a sight to behold.

They've long disappeared from Galaxy’s map
Their warriors buried and ships sold for scrap;
Their cities in ruins, their fields overgrown
And rotting are banners that proudly were flown.

But locked in the orbit, past glory’s weak trace
Preserved from corrosion by the vacuum of space
So huge, and so lonely – the last of its kind,
A once mighty vessel, left cruelly behind.

Forgotten and dormant, it orbits the star
Survivor of battles in systems afar;
It’s there, like years weren't passing at all
The last ship constructed by people of Sol.
Image
Survivor of the Josh Parnell Blackout of 2015.
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Re: Short Fiction Contest - 27/01/2014

#14
Great entries everyone!

Submissions are now closed, and the poll for voting will be up shortly.

Edit: Voting closes in a few short hours. It's still very close, so vote for your favourite story now!

Voting has closed!

In an amazingly close round, the competition has closed with a tie!

Our inaugural winning entries are:


Seeds by Grumblesaur and The last ship (a folk tale) by outlander4

Congratulations guys! And thanks to everyone for participating. The calibre of stories we received has just been fantastic, and I'm just amazed by how talented all our entrants are. I hope we can make this the first of many such contests.

:clap: :clap: :clap:


Last bumped by Just_Ice_au on Fri Jan 31, 2014 7:58 am.
- The Snark Knight

"Look upward, and share the wonders I've seen."

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