RiaR: January 2015

The Bolthole's monthly 1,000 word story competition.

RiaR: January 2015

Postby VictorK » Thu Jan 08, 2015 3:28 am

Ok, let's get this show on the road.

To enter the competition, you must write a story, set within 40K/Whf/Bloodbowl or a setting of your own devising, of between 850 and 1150 words in length. Entries will be due at the MIDNIGHT, EST, on January 23. That's right, America is taking over. Entries featuring eagles will earn an extra freedom point.

I'm going to try an experiment. The prompt, this time, will be a picture. I don't really care how you use it, even if it's just inspiration. You do NOT have to write the scene portrayed. The aim of RiaR, in my mind, is to write a tight story and experiment in a low-cost environment. I figure you choose GW properties or something original based on how much you want to win and how confident you are in vote-getting. I'm certainly not going to disqualify anyone. Ok, the prompt:

(credit to Michael MacRae)

Get writing.
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Re: RiaR: January 2015

Postby The Hillock » Sat Jan 10, 2015 10:03 pm

EST? What the bloody hell?

*wanders off to make a cup of tea, muttering darkly about bloody upstart colonials taking over the world and the grand old days of the British Empire*

(note for any of those prone to taking these things far too seriously - that was a joke)

Jokes aside, well done for taking the initiative and cracking on with this.
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Re: RiaR: January 2015

Postby YeOldeGrandma » Sat Jan 24, 2015 3:23 am

Immortal Companion - 853 words, excluding title

I can tell that He's alive, even though He's not breathing. I can tell that He's watching, and listening, and knowing.

Our shared chamber is immense, a dark cathedral swathed with shadow and dust. It is still and quiet – peaceful, for now at least. I stand vigil, as I have done for so long.

There was a time when He would speak, though now the pain is to great. There was a time when He would eat and breathe as mortal men do. But those needs faded, one by one, as He Himself faded, physically. Now all He craves is power.

I have never fully grown used to the sense of it, for all my long years in His service. It is everywhere, faint but insistent – a cloying taste at the root of my tongue, a deep throb in my ears. His withered form does not betray it, but there are immense energies coursing through Him, fed into Him from all around. And his appetite is yet to be sated.

I know He needs it. I know His task is demanding. The constant vigil, lest the doors should be cast open and our peace broken for the second, and final, time.

Peace... I chide myself for using the word, for He knows no peace, and hasn't done so for a long time. I stand guard in silence and shadow while He wages an eternal war, all by Himself.

His silent form gives no hint as to the battle He's fighting, but I imagine that I can feel it. The empty sockets of His once-eyes seem to bore into my back, His teeth – grinning with fleshless mirth – look to clench with effort. He grips the armrests tightly with skeletal hands; once the thought came to me – unbidden – that He is screaming.

It is not often that I look upon Him now – once or twice a century, perhaps. My duties never specified that express need, and besides, His presence cannot be denied. I know He's there, behind me, watching.

It wasn't always like this. Though lost now in a time long gone, He was once something else. Not still, but dynamic. Not silent, but a raging force of nature. Not a corpse, but a great man. And a father.

How much has He not lost?

When we walked together, clad in gold with the galaxy laid out before us, it was different. It was not quiet and still and dark, but a time of light and legend, as He bore mankind to the stars once more and showed them their path.

I was there, so long ago, or so I recall. But are the memories mine? Or are they being passed on from those before me? Is it the man sitting behind me, watching and knowing, using a portion of His immense power to make me remember? To know, truly know, what He once was?

I don't know, for I don't know my own age, or my life.

There are times, though, when there is nothing but shadow and silence, as the throb of the machines fill our sanctuary. Days pass, then weeks and months and years. Centuries. He is still and quiet, fighting His horrible battle.

We don't leave the chamber, but keep our silent vigil, even as the galaxy turns around us. What goes on beyond the closed gates? What has mankind's future come to? I know little and less, for my duties lie here and nowhere else. From time to time there are others in here, few in numbers and sparse in conversation, which is how we wish for it to be. The red-robed acolytes perform their rites, making sure that He is well fed. Where the cables and tubes go I do not know, and it matters little as long as He is sustained.

And the dust gathers in the corners of the halls, the shadows deepen. I wait, but for what? His skull-faced grin is watching me, silently.

I will never believe the might of man to be waning. I will never believe in the notion of an end. This chamber will remain untouched by those who seek to despoil it – we will not be found wanting. We will endure, as He does. And should the day come when all else should fall and burn and the walls around us be torn down, then we will lay low all who dare oppose us. There is no surrender, no compromise, no fear. There is nothing but victory. Anything less...

He cannot let that happen. He will not. He is our sire, our destiny, our soul. He is the master of mankind and He has not come this far only to fail.

What do I wait for? I wait to be relieved. I wait for Him to lead me, to set me loose once more on the galaxy. I am His leal servant, His guardian and companion, and I will stand my vigil for an eternity until He directs me to do otherwise.

I am Custodes. I stand in silence and shadow, with Him.
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Re: RiaR: January 2015

Postby VictorK » Sat Jan 24, 2015 6:46 am

I wrote this in the last couple hours and might have been drunk. It's not entirely clear. It was a tight turnaround this month. We may not vote at all, but kudos to Ye Olde Grandma for taking a stab at it.

The Princess of Tlalon - 1144 words

Junji, the Wyrdman of Tlalon, could see nothing through the white curtain that swirled around him. Ice bit at his face and clung stubbornly to his hair and the furred edges of his coat, but he kept moving forward. He knew the way, following the ice world's pulse.

He was not alone. Junji had left pursuit far behind, sealing the men from the stars in the ice that covered his world. They couldn’t bother him. What they unleashed, however, nipped at his heels. “They were fools, little princess.” Junji told his companion, though she could not hear him. The cold had come into her, not just from the howling wind but from the broken glaciers that ringed Tlalon. From them, the miasma had settled on her.

“Fools, all of them.” Junji was half mad himself, the fires that engulfed the white towers still in his mind, royal blood soaked deep in his furs. He was a walking sacrilege, both to the house he left behind and to the creatures who dared call themselves men. The bundle he held close to his chest stirred, little more than a shiver from fever and compounding cold, but it warmed Junji’s heart.

“Shh, shh, little princess.” A trembling hand reached into the furs and swept back black hair from the princess’ pale brow. It wasn’t just the howling wind that seemed to rob that hair of its ebony luster. There was a sickness upon her, a sickness upon her whole family. A whiteout was not the best cure for a fever, but then again, neither were the piercing lasbolts of savages from the stars. The same lasbolts that carried off her father, her mother, and several of her brothers. The servants were merely crushed when the towers fell, all save Junji. The Wyrdman, he of the frozen feet and the throat scratched so raw by cold that he could taste blood on his tongue.

“Not much farther now, no, not much farther, I can feel it, I know. You were too young to learn, sweet spring child, of what lives beneath. We tried to tell them, your father and I, but those men, with their armor and their hard eyes…” Junji tried to laugh but could only cough. The blood froze before it hit the ground. “...They mistake power for wisdom, and awake what they do not know. Tell me, little princess, why are the gods we dream all so horrible? I do not know, I do not know…”

Junji was well off the greatest glaciers now. Go down deep enough and there was rock beneath his feet, but below that was something else, the thing that the kings of Tlalon kept silent. The pulse of the planet, the Wyrdmen like himself said, if planets could have such things. It took all Junji’s power to hold the whiteout at bay, and then some more to keep the sickly princess from the cold death that awaited her. He felt his world’s pain and used it to fuel his power, trudging along up the slope towards where he hoped that shelter awaited.

In Tlalon, now so much plasma-scarred slag, the Wyrdmen were those citizens of the icy world born closest to the deep power. They channeled its consciousness and counseled the ancient line of kings charged with stewardship over the slumbering world. The men who rode down to Tlalon from the stars had no ear for counsel. Another god whispered to them, a distant god on a distant throne, a man that may have once placed the kings on their own throne. There were none living who remembered. They did not argue with words, these inquisitors and these astartes. The only language they knew was plasma and bolter, carrying out the will of the emperor whose virtue had soured over the long millennia.

Junji knew their strength and made to flee as soon as the wards over Tlalon began to fail. When the glacier cracked and the great power came forth, Junji was ready. He stole into the princess’ chambers, the child whose laughter he cherished above all, and took her away. Not fast enough, the sickness that engulfed Tlalon and the foolish men who killed it had soon caught up with her as well. But not the Wyrdman. Junji was already in service to that power; it could not harm him.

How long and how far he had walked since their craft failed Junji could not say. Everything was wrong since the ice was broken, he was sure that the foolish men, so snug and secure in their belief in a god too far away to make a difference, had suffered as well. Perhaps not so much as he suffered through storms he could no longer calm, but if they did not suffer they died. That was a sufficient justice.

In time Junji came to the place, nestled in the side of a mountain that thrust out from the blanket of snow and ice. Though Tlalon was the heart of the world it could not contain all of the people who walked on it. They had other places to hide from the cold. Even here the breaking of the ice had consequences, and Junji had to pick his way among the frozen bodies of the people who ran from the end of the world.

He found the lodge where kings often stayed while hunting on the tundra. The door was locked, but the key was not far away. Breaking it off from the footman caught in a snowdrift was the only hard part. Junji lay the princess down in a bed of furs and stoked a fire. The world tried to strangle that fire. A word quieted that power. Her face was frozen, frost clinging to her lashes and her black hair brittle and near breaking.

“You will not have her.” Junji said to the empty room before he sat in a chair at the foot of the princess’ bed. The fire flickered. “We are both the last of our kind, is that not enough?” He looked to the ceiling and closed his eyes. The world spoke to him. “I know how hungry you are. She is a frozen thing, hardly a worthy meal.” Junji sighed. “So be it.” He reached out and touched the princess’ foot. “One day, my raven-haired princess, one day. You will make fools of them all.”

Junji took her sickness into him, and her years. He left the fire burning, but soon even his power could not shield it. Not even a Wyrdman lives forever, even if the power he serves is eternal. “Dream better dreams.” He rasped. His blood had gone long ago. “Remember your royal line and what I have given you. Serve better gods than we did.” Junji waited, until there was nothing left of him.

In time, the princess awoke.
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Re: RiaR: January 2015

Postby Rusk » Sat Jan 24, 2015 10:34 am


“Put him down on the table, now. No, don’t twist his head like that, you cretin! I thought you brought him in here to save his life, not to murder him somewhere nice and warm and cosy! Be careful!”

The two troopers manhandled the older man into the field hospital, dumping the unconscious soldier onto the surgery table, being careful not to bang the mangled remnants of his leg against the cool adamantium. Blast wound, Doctor Aboujaoude deduced, pulling a surgical mask down over his mouth as he cracked open his tool tray. Close range, multiple fractures, obvious amputation. Secondary and Tertiary injuries. Excessive use of dressing used binding the wound but it could be worse. Conclusion; messy but survivable.

“What happened?” he barked at the troopers. Aboujaoude’s assistant rushed in from the side room, eyes bleary with sleep, a heavy clamp held in weary hands.

“I don’t even know, doc,” one of the troops, Volkov by the nametag stitched above his breast, said. The boy was covered in blood, most of it his own, pouring down from a nasty slice across his forehead. “Sarge was up early, checking on the night watch. All’s quiet, then next thing we know there’s artillery fire raining down on our heads and this is what’s left of him.”

“Either of you medically trained?” Aboujaoude asked, helping his second clean the excess mud and blood away from the wound. The other trooper, a slim corporal whose jacket bore the name Bandalovski, bobbed his head, eyes wide. “You bandage this wound?” Another nod. “Good work. Your sergeant will survive. Probably. Now sod off, I’m working. And get that head checked out, Volkov.”

The troopers saluted and backed out of the room. Aboujaoude’s assistant lifted her bloody hands away from the sergeant’s ruined leg, tearing open his fatigues to survey the torso for any wounds. “He’s got minimal penetrating injuries from shrapnel, a few shards in his lower legs but the vital organs and upper body seem to have escaped the worst of the blast. Sandbags, maybe, or another body ate them for him. We need to get the worst of this crap out of his stump, but overall he seems fine, considering. Airways are clear, bleeding staunched. No burns. The corpsman could’ve done a lot worse, Doc.”

Doc. Aboujaoude was always the Doc. “My thoughts exactly. Get the blood packs, Feia,” Aboujaoude told her, pulling the dog-tags away from his neck. “Type O. Should be plenty in the back. Make sure he’s stable and prep him for surgery; get all these bomb shards out before infection sets in. Doubt the poor bastard will ever be able to afford a prosthetic but we best make sure he doesn’t have a case to sue us to raise the money.”

Feia nodded and scuttled off. Aboujaoude watched the short, dark-haired girl go. He'd done well to pull her from that backwoods veterinary clinic. Good medics were hard to come by.

There was the sound of voices raised in argument echoing from outside the surgery. The field hospital was small, a commandeered farmhouse a few kilometres back from the front lines, little more than an open barn with a few small storage rooms in the back being utilised as operating theatres. Sound carried. Aboujaoude wiped his hands down the chest of his apron and turned, just as another soldier burst into the chamber.

To give them credit, Shekiladze and the young corpsman, Bandalovski, seemed to be trying their best to stop the newcomer, short of actually coming to blows. Shekiladze, a willowy recruit wearing a white trainee medic’s armband, was trying to hold off the new arrival, backpedalling as he yelled that the doctor was busy, a forearm held ineffectually against the newcomer’s chest. Bandalovski was behind the pair, a thick bandage tied around his forehead, calling for them both to calm down.

The soldier came to a stop in front of Aboujaoude. He was a large man, almost as big as the doctor himself, clad in the thick brown long-coat of the Second Royals, the regiment that Aboujaoude had been treating before they rotated into the front lines a week ago. Aboujaoude didn’t recognise this one, but a set of major’s pips were clearly emblazoned on his shoulder. Executive officer. Vassilyoff, Vasiley… Vassiljev? Never bothered meeting the auxiliary troops previously. Heavy fighting on front over the past week. Probably wants a medic in the field. Feia, Shekiladze? Neither, Second has full complement of medical support, no need for extras. Won’t allow it. Could take Bandalovski if necessary.

“Can I help you, major?” Aboujaoude asked, idly plucking a scalpel from its tray and polishing its blade.

“Major Vassiljev, Second Royal Battalion,” the major stood to attention, his voice heavy with the long vowels of nobility. Aboujaoude raised an eyebrow; if the man expected him to salute he’d be disappointed. “I need a medic.”

Aboujaoude blinked. “Is that all? You don’t appear critically injured. Take a seat in the waiting room and one of my assistants will be with you shortly.”

Vassiljev’s face turned a bright shade of red. “No, you imbecile, not for me!” he ranted, eyes bulging. “All of our medical staff went down in the last wave, and the CO wants you as a replacement. He speaks highly of your work,” Vassiljev’s look suggested he thought otherwise. “Pack up your gear, I’ve got a truck ready to take you to base.”

“I’m sorry, sir, but that won’t be happening,” Aboujaoude shook his head. “I’m needed here. We’re about to get swamped with men wounded in the enemy’s flank assault and I can’t leave. If you need replacements go through the proper lines of recruitment and reserve postings, I can’t help you.”

The big doctor turned away from Vassiljev, placing the scalpel back on its tray. “If there’s nothing else, sir, I have to prep for surgery, so I’d appreciate a bit of privacy.”

“I don’t think you understand me, Tallarn,” Vassiljev snarled. “You don’t have any choice in the matter. The colonel wants you, the colonel gets you. Come with me.”

The hand that clapped down on Aboujaoude’s meaty shoulder was the last straw. Aboujaoude whirled – he’d always been light on his toes for such a heavyset man – grabbed Vassiljev by the lapels of his long-coat and slammed him head first into one of the metal cabinets lining the walls of the chamber. The major went down hard, a clear impact crater left in the side of the thin aluminium.

“Don’t touch me,” Aboujaoude hissed at the prone officer. “Nobody touches me. I’m a doctor, not a patient. Get the hell out of my O.R.”

Vassiljev stumbled to his feet and staggered out of the surgery. Shekiladze and Bandalovski were staring at him. Impressive, Doc. Refusing a direct order. Striking a senior officer.

Implications likely to be… unpleasant.



Slightly out of the deadline but come on. Pls.
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