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Short Fiction Contest 8 - 10/08/2014

Flag by Behemoth
Total votes: 1 (9%)
Luxuries by Hyperion
(No votes)
Next one, please by Lum
(No votes)
0.47 by outlander4
Total votes: 3 (27%)
Flynt Arnaham, Colonizer by Draglide12
Total votes: 1 (9%)
What Is a Friend? by Talvieno
Total votes: 5 (45%)
Overextention by scousematt
Total votes: 1 (9%)
Total votes: 11

Short Fiction Contest 8 - 10/08/2014

Welcome everyone, to our eighth Short Fiction Contest!

Voting has now closed, and the competition has ended.

The winning entry is: What Is a Friend? by Talvieno

Entries have closed. Voting is now open.

Voting Closes sometime around Sunday 17th of August 2014

This contest will close sometime around Sunday 10th of August 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 winner will receive state-of-the-art recognition for their victory.

The Rules:
  • Submissions should be approximately 400 words in length. Please, no novellas.
  • Submitted stories should feature the competition's topic.
  • Submissions should include a title.
  • Submissions should be posted in this thread by the stated deadline.
  • Original content only (obviously, plagiarism of any kind is discouraged).
  • Multiple submissions are allowed, but you may be asked to choose one to go to final voting if we receive a lot of submissions.
  • Have Fun!
This competition's topic is:
Contest Topic wrote:The founding of a new human colony on an alien world.
Feel free to incorporate the topic into your story in any way you choose - Your story might be from the point of view of one of the colonists, or perhaps from a member of an existing sentient alien population the colonists are displacing. You could imagine some of the problems the new colony might face in a new and hostile environment, or perhaps the colonists have found a new paradise, and there are less problems than anticipated. You could write about the reasons the colony was founded, whether the colonists were seeking political freedom, or came in search of natural resources, or were even just seeking new territory to relieve population pressure. You could even write about what makes the population or culture of the colonists unique. Anything you like, so long as you use the idea of the new human colony in your story.

That's it. Have fun! And, as always, 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."

Re: Short Fiction Contest 8 - 10/08/2014


"It was about time", I said, holding the flag in my hand.
We laughed on the radio.
"Hereby I claim this land for the European Federation, in the name of every one of its people."
I planted the flag's base to the rust red ground. We clapped, but no sound was produced. The light turquoise flag with a ring of silver stars in the middle didn't move. One of my companions, Nicholas, reached for his equipment pocket. He pulled a gun from there, and pointed it at me.
"I am so sorry."
The words echoed in my mind, as seconds passed. None of the others did anything to help me. They looked towards me, and the mirror finished surface of their visors hid their faces from me.
"You are too loyal, Mikko. You would have told them. You would have been a risk."
"This is going on live video feed. If something is risky, that is."
"We are one and a half years of travel away from everyone. We no longer need them. We can wake the sleepers without them. We can build the colony without them. It is automonous. Think this as a rebellion."
A thought passed to my mind.
"Where did you get the gun?"
"I have contacts back on earth."
"Canada? Australia? Russia? China?"
"Why would I tell you?"
He pulled the trigger, and the bullet passed through my visor, bursting through my cheek and out to my neck, destroying my spine. All of the air burst through the hole in my helmet, and I would've suffocated if I wasn't dead already. My body fell in one third of earth gravity, pushed back by the force of the impact.

I watched the dead body of Mikko fall down as in slow motion. I looked at the gun in my hand, and back to his body. I had killed a person. I was a murderer, murderer of a person I had known for almost two years. I tried to push the thought away, but it kept coming back. Still under live video feed, I knocked the flag over with a lot of force. It was designed to hold to the frightening tornadoes the planet was known for. One of my companions, Andy, pulled a flag from his bag and handed it to me. I took it, and planted it. The red and white stripes and the blue square with white stars were impossible not to recognise.

I took the gun, and shot at the camera. It was enough. I kicked the american flag down, and replanted the european flag.

"Our job is done", I said.
In space, no one will hear you scream. #262626
I've never played a space sim. Ever.
Vos estis tan limes.

Re: Short Fiction Contest 8 - 10/08/2014


Would they forgive her this luxury? Would her children forgive her for diverting so many resources at such an early stage to a personal emotional indulgence? Certainly when enough had been grown to form a quorum, they would read these very thoughts and make their judgement. Probably, like so many things, it would depend on how it ultimately affected the mission. Of course, if the mission failed, there would be no judgement for half a hundred years when the homeworlds investigated the failure to colonize, but other mothers would likely be stripped of their emotional needs so as to prevent a repeat of the incident. That was a distant thought though, before her the machine was painting on the skin.

He was beautiful. "He", it felt awkward to say, perhaps because it was her first word in 60 years, perhaps because she had chosen to grow a male, such an ancient relic of human history. A classic human, formed only by natural selection... mostly, the resources to support such an unwieldy lifeform in such a foreign environment were considerable. Sustaining a body like this could serve as a monument to her 5 years of work. Perhaps she could justify it that way, an initial trial of the life support systems she had built; if it could handle a classic human, things were going very well. This could all be just an eccentric test of her progress, making it less conspicuous.

But that would only be partially true. She was lonely, a dozen husk clones are more like hands than other people, and she wanted someone to talk to, to invest those pesky emotions in. She also had to consider his autonomous actions, and even his emotions. Though the life she programmed for his brain should prepare him for this situation. He shouldn't panic or be particularly dangerous and destructive.

As though on cue to ruin her plans, his penis grew erect. What the hell, why? She checked his brain, was it running a diagnostic? No. He was dreaming, of... her. This was bad. She should abort the growth. She should not have taken such a risk. This was a danger to the whole mission. 5 lines of code and she could harvest him back into the building.

But they would watch this play out in their review. Would they see her as reckless? Was the damage already done? They would strip her of emotions and all mothers from here on out. But... But if she went ahead with this, and still managed to succeed, it would stand in her favor to dealing with unexpected events.

She gazed at the naked man suspended in front of her, considering. His olive skin, her Grey ;his hair follicles now poking out of his chin, her total lack of hair; his slender but muscular form of classic mankind , her elongated, maternal standard. Investigating her own thoughts, she felt fear, of failure in her mission, of losing emotion, of not being able to handle what she had done. She wanted to resign herself to her fate, had she failed from the moment she felt lonely? But no, she still longed for company, even through the fear, and there he was in front of her. This was to be a colony for humanity, not for empty machines. She closed her eyes and composed herself.

"En ta beauté gît ma mort et ma vie"

She ran the lines of code. Slowly, his eyes opened.
Challenging your assumptions is good for your health, good for your business, and good for your future. Stay skeptical but never undervalue the importance of a new and unfamiliar perspective.
Imagination Fertilizer
Beauty may not save the world, but it's the only thing that can

Re: Short Fiction Contest 8 - 10/08/2014

Next one, please

The young man sprinted the last few meters and knocked at the door. When the come in finally came he stormed in the office, smashed an e-sheet on the desk and took air for the first time in the last thirty seconds. All three people standing around the desk said nothing but were visibly sparkling in anticipation. Probably because they were holograms.

"They won't cooperate." Said the man just while activating the projector on the desk. The device needed a couple of seconds to process the data on the sheet. Then the room's light dimmed and a colourful 3D tactical representation appeared in the middle of the room. Hundreds of colonization pods and spears surrounding the small rocky planet.

"They flooded all our channels with catchy phrases and tried to vandalise some of our assets on site. You really don't want to know how Dome-1 looks like right now and…"

"Mr. Hansen, please focus on the essentials." That was the Vice-Prime.

"Yes, yes. I'm sorry. Here and here. You can see for yourselves. It's an all-or-nothing situation. Either we give a go and we dart them to oblivion or… well, or simply return home."

"That is a really pessimistic assessment of our situation. What makes you think they don't want to support some diplomatic efforts? We can communicate pretty well and their way of thinking is not that… odd."

"They're stubborn to the point that they're willing to nuke themselves in order to deny us the, and I quote, "extremely privileged opportunity to put an [grade 9 obscenity] colony on sacred soil" ."

"Have you told them already that we don't believe in any sort of higher being or deity?"

"Oh yes. That's why they ruined Dome-1 in the first place. I believe they're burning the place to the ground as we speak…"

The Vice-Prime and the others disappeared for some seconds. Then they came back and simply nodded, apparently feeling sorry for the young man. He clearly favoured the latter option. He took the e-sheet from the table, gestured a little like this and that and then took a seat on a chair. Some minutes passed. Then he stood again and spoke with solemnity.

"It's done. Waves one to hundred and forty slammed the orbital defences in the first two minutes. Hundred and forty-one to three hundred nailed the air and ground forces three minutes later. By the count of ten minutes ten hundred colonization pods started with the construction and terraformation efforts. Friendly casualties zero. Foreign casualties roughly 937 million. Cost roughly 33 quadrillion sols. Colony 1002-BC-34 was officially founded on 2357-09-03/0078 Standard Time."

"Well done, Mr. Hansen."

He put the e-sheet back on the table and said "Yeah… I resign." and he went to never come back.
I have been - and always shall be - your friend.

Re: Short Fiction Contest 8 - 10/08/2014


Navigation system spat out an error and restarted again. Captain William H. Higgs, 2nd class, Colonial Fleet, managed to grab the read-out just in time before the cache emptied itself.

The numbers were indeed flawed. A minute error, something in the range of 0.25 percent - a figure perfectly suitable for interstellar flights that could not possibly cause a stream of navigation errors that was hanging and restarting the system. As Higgs’ attention bounced from the unfamiliar stars displayed on his monitor to the memory dump he was reading, he suddenly understood everything. With the eagerness of the death row inmate awaiting execution, he checked the software version.

v. 0.47. Damn. Nobody bothered to update the system on this piece of scrap metal.

The infamous cyclic multiplication bug was present in the software. A single line of code, placed exactly in the wrong place and doing exactly the wrong thing, in very, very rare circumstances making course corrections an order of magnitude larger than required, and repeating the vicious cycle again and again, stranding the ship in the subspace forever...or at least until it hit a wormhole exit point by chance.

I guess we should praise the Lord that we are in the normal space again.

He turned off stellar navigation, and the stream of errors ended. Identifying ship’s position was meaningless at this point – they could have been on the other side of the Milky Way or in another galaxy entirely. And with fuel tanks almost empty, it didn’t matter anyway. Instead, he focused his attention on the star system he was in.

An unremarkable star of nearly 0.6 solar masses barely qualified as a K-type orange dwarf. No stellar companions were in sight. It took several days of scanning the void with telescopes and radars until a somewhat cohesive picture of the planetary system could be formed.

A small rocky planet was orbiting very close to the star, its molten crust looking unwelcoming. A small asteroid belt was occupying the inner edge of the habitable zone at approximately 0.4 AU away from the star. A Neptune-sized gas giant in a fairly eccentric and inclined orbit was coasting just outside the habitable zone, dipping into its outer edge in the lowest point of its orbit.

All other planets were either destroyed or ejected from the system as the gas giant migrated inwards. Damn.

He turned his attention to the moons of the gas giant he mentally christened The Bastard although the software assigned a less-than-insightful name of Unknown Star b to it. Most of the moons were small and airless; suitable for mining and production but not for much else. However, one moon was different: a Mars-sized body of nearly 0.5 Earth’s masses, shrouded in the moderately thick atmosphere of carbon dioxide and nitrogen, with faint auroras above polar caps of brilliantly white water ice, it offered a good chance of survival even with primitive technology he had on board. With no alternative in sight, Higgs cursed and started preparing for the landing.

The only question that bothered him during the descent was how he would explain everything that happened to the ten thousands of plain, technologically impaired Amish colonists sleeping in cryopods in the hold.
Last edited by outlander on Wed Aug 06, 2014 1:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Survivor of the Josh Parnell Blackout of 2015.

Re: Short Fiction Contest 8 - 10/08/2014

Flynt Arnaham, Colonizer

"frak." "Stuff it, Flynt." "frak you." "What is it this time?" George called from across the room. "In fact, why don't the two of you go frak eachother." Rob got up and went to sit with George in the other room. Rob and George were barely tolerable. Flynt had worked with them both before, and had requested to be interred in cryo with the rest of the crew, but was denied.

Flynt was not in a bad mood. He just enjoyed pissing off his Government flunky crew mates. He was wondering why he was working for the Government again, after what had happened last time. He had never admired the Government, but being "framed" (if the word applies) for murdering a plenipotentiary left him a bit sour.

He had told the Government there were no hard feelings, once things had been straitened out. He was not even lying, he had no hard feelings, after he had tied Senator Randon to the light-wire and watched him sizzle every time someone had sent a comm through the line. After that he was fine.

Perhaps, Flynt thought to himself, he was doing this mission because the mission was to Mars, and he liked Mars, as always. He had been to Mars many times, professionally and recreationally, but never colonially. The Government had approached him with the "Re-colonization of Mars" he had seen "Mars," and accepted. Why a planet with a stable (or by some accounts growing) population of over ten billion needed re-colonizing was beyond him, but, he liked Mars, so he might as well get payed to go there.

Rob leaned through the doorway, "Strap in, we're landing." "We're still hours from Mons." Flynt replied. "We aren't going to Mons.

His curiosity peaked, Flynt promptly ignored the order to "strap in" and walked into the "bridge" of the "colonial vessel" the Government had sent him on. He saw immediately why this was "re-colonization." George was taking them down on the Patch. A bare wasteland that used to contain a few cities and agridomes. One of the cartels had nuked the spot, one of the few prosperous places on the planet, as retribution when the Government had made a big DEA push into the Cage a couple decades ago. The leader of the cartel, in fact one of Flynt's good friends, had promised any attempt to re-develop the area would be met with another "peace deal."

After a few months of fighting, the cartel had called for peace talks, turning over several tons of illegal drugs to the Government as a sign of good will, sewn into the emptied abdomens of captured DEA officials. The "peace deal" as it came to be called had cost fifty-eight senators elections that year. And now it would be costing them yet again.

Flynt had no particular desire to have his guts replaced with dope, but if it cost some politicos their cushy jobs he was almost for it.

"Seriously Flynt, you might wanna strap in." Rob said, looking over at him. Flynt just laughed.

"Got something to say?" George asked?

"Yeah. frak."
They shall call me, Draglide! The thread killer!

Re: Short Fiction Contest 8 - 10/08/2014

It's a little long, so I'm not sure if it counts... I tried to keep it short. :oops:

What Is a Friend?

It is here I will record my last few hours... here I shall etch into the rock with what remains of me that which I will never be able to tell.

Few can know the emptiness that comes with knowing the exact moment of their destruction, years before it comes to pass. And yet I can... down to the year, the day, and even the minute. It started years ago; I knew it then, and it is just now drawing to a close... Yet, I can only sit and watch.

And what is my name? I would write it here, but I have never needed one - I have ever only simply been. I sense your feelings... I sense your happiness, your sadness... your hope. I sensed you from afar as you were speeding from the gate; I stretched out to touch your minds, and you responded - you turned in my direction. You landed your strange craft, you set foot upon the surface... I felt hope in your minds then... hope that you could make what was mine your own. You "people" want me for your own. You saw me as a resource, though I saw you as a kindred spirit. I have only ever been alone, for far longer than you believe yourselves to have existed. You were fleeing a dying star, I gathered from your thoughts. You had no home, and as such I tried to give you mine. I welcomed you with open arms. You are all so different - some of you are harder to touch than others, but I learned of your languages, your cultures, your beliefs... you made me happy for the first time that I've known. I tried to make you happy to be near me... and some of you were, but such violent entities you are! The happiest among you, those that wanted to stay, mutinied and turned against those that wanted to go home. A number of you died, and I could no longer sense their presence. It saddened me, just as it did you. I learned from my mistake and decided to never attempt the same again, but you had learned as well. You detected my presence; you never went outside again without protective suits, thinking you had blocked my interference with your minds. And you had... but I could still feel you.

You continued to try to colonize my world, and I still attempted to aid you however I could. I only wanted peace. When you next came to land upon my surface, I removed all traces of myself as quickly as I could. For a time, you believed I'd only been a "plague" - yes, a plague, you called me. The planet's reaction to invaders, but I saw you not then as invaders... I thought of you as neighbors.

And there was peace...

But then you stared into the planet's depths; you probed the waters, rich with life, curious as only you could be, and you found me. You found me. I always wanted to be found. I never wanted to be alone.

But you never forgive. "Neighbors", I say. "Forgiveness", I say - words I learned from you, but you - you "humans" - by what right did you come up with these terms, these ideas, with how violent you are?

I heard many new words and phrases in your minds then. "Terraforming", you called it. "Telepathic bacteria," "neural network". You discovered I am made up of trillions of minute cells, spread across the planet, working together telepathically to produce a sentience, and in fear, you left - all of you. You sent lifeless, mindless probes down to my surface... They belched clouds of noxious gas that kill my cells, that damage my mind... I can feel it with every moment, millions of tiny sparks screaming out in anguish. You are trying to kill me. I could try to take "revenge", a word only your kind could be violent enough to come up with... but I will have none of it. Even were you still here upon my surface as my mind dies, I would not harm a soul.

Perhaps one of you humans will one day read my story, and learn from my mistakes.

You can have my world... but there was no need to kill me. I only wanted a... a friend.
Have a question? Send me a PM! || I have a Patreon page up for REKT now! || People talking in IRC over the past two hours: Image

Re: Short Fiction Contest 8 - 10/08/2014

Well. I had lots of ideas for this one, but this is the one that congealed before the cut off time...

Title - Overextention

From 40 billion they selected five thousand, educated them, trained them, tested, poked and prodded until each candidate was a polished gem – the finest the crowded Earth could produce.

It took them more than two hundred years to get to Fortis IV. Two hundred years away from their families and friends, from the music and vids they loved. It passed in frozen moments. When they collected their heads and stared through the scoured viewports the stars were different. They had arrived.

Five thousand, on a new world. Fortis IV had quickly been renamed Hope. There was no way home, Hope was everything.

Hope was everything the colonists could have wished for. Plains, open spaces, potential. If the colonists could have wished for anything it would have been potential, no boundaries.

The first death was unexpected. Simon Belvoir caught in the jaws of a mining autobot. The second and third deaths occurred without an obvious pattern emerging.

Candise Ferbrice's suicide cemented opinion.

Until, Candise's death, the Governor, Alan Gaebat had been able to sweep things under the table. Candise's suicide suggested that there was something about Fortis IV, Hope, that ground against the soul of the colonist. Surely not.

Malcolm stood on the great plain. The mountains of Fair Warning stood more than twenty kilometres from his position. Agrifarms were blooming all around him. Superficially, things were going well. There was food in abundance. There was land a plenty. Food and water, what more could he ask for. The leaves moved, the wind blew, the silence gathered.

The stillness was more than he could cope withr.

First in his class. Expert in plant growth in foreign environment. Practised in alien environment.


Alone for the first time.


Cast off from Earth.

So far from Home.

Malcolm watched the grading machine chewing the ground beside him. It was easy to walk alongside it as it battered the redundant surface into something biologically viable.

It was too quiet. There was no one. No one he could see, no one watching him, no one watching, no one reacting to subtle nuances of his body. It was more than he could bear.

Malcolm stepped in front of the machine.

Peace at last.

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