RiaR April/May: SACRIFICE

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

Re: RiaR April/May: SACRIFICE

Postby J D Dunsany » Wed Apr 20, 2011 9:26 pm

Some good stories so far this month.

This is just a gentle reminder that the posting period ends in a couple of days' time!

Regards,

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Re: RiaR April/May: SACRIFICE

Postby Mossy Toes » Wed Apr 20, 2011 9:35 pm

Oop, better finalize and jump onto my idea...
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Re: RiaR April/May: SACRIFICE

Postby Squiggle » Wed Apr 20, 2011 10:52 pm

Raziel - good job. I saw some sort of twist coming, but I didnt expect that one!

Gundi - yeah, I recognised the name of the ship, but I still enjoyed the dialogue and ultimate reveal

Shadow - very nice, descriptive, confusing and daemonic. :D

Every story so far this month has something to recommend it. It's gonna be tough to pick a winner!
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Re: RiaR April/May: SACRIFICE

Postby Commander Shadow » Thu Apr 21, 2011 12:20 am

Gundi: Oh... i didn't know that :D (the more you know)

Squiggle: "confusing"? how so/in a good way?
- And there arose from the abyss a terrible beast and the armies of man were laid low by the walls of the ancient city. The ground shook and the skies trembled and all knew as the beast had come forth and that the end of time was upon them.

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Re: RiaR April/May: SACRIFICE

Postby Atlantic » Thu Apr 21, 2011 1:50 am

I made a few minor changes to my story. I still haven't gotten a chance to read all of the other entries. I am hoping to have feedback up by Friday evening.
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Re: RiaR April/May: SACRIFICE

Postby Jelboy » Thu Apr 21, 2011 8:05 am

Gundi, I had the most trouble with your opening line:

Colossal machines wheezed far below, causing the floor beneath him to vibrate in rhythm as they scrubbed the artificial atmosphere

I understand what this means but it tripped the mind on first reading, because it could almost mean: colossal machines wheezed far below. The floor vibrated in rhythm as it scrubbed the artificial atmosphere.

You could punctuate better:
Colossal machines wheezed far below, causing the floor beneath him to vibrate in rhythm, as they scrubbed the artificial atmosphere

... or you could just clarify things by packing less into one sentence:
The floor beneath him vibrated to the rhythm of colossal machines far below. The wheezing behemoths of deck 97 scrubbed the artificial atmosphere of the ship, like old lungs.
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Re: RiaR April/May: SACRIFICE

Postby Tyrant » Thu Apr 21, 2011 1:40 pm

Offering

(995 words)

Eventually they come for us. Trapped in the darkness of our cell, it is impossible to know how much time has passed. Days at least, judging by the relentless aching of my empty stomach. At the beginning of our confinement there were some who cried out for help, pleading for our captors to let us go. After a while they stopped trying. Perhaps they realised that nobody can hear us or, more likely, that nobody cares about our plight. Now only whispered prayers to the God-Emperor break the heavy silence that has settled over us all.

The light in the cell goes from non-existent to blindingly bright almost instantaneously, and I quickly cover my face, hearing yells from those slower to react as the harsh light scours their dark-adapted eyes. The doors grind open and I can hear the sound of booted feet thumping against the stone floor as our captors haul us out of the room one by one. When I feel a rough grip on my throat I let myself be dragged out of the cell without resisting. My hands are pulled away from my face and tears fill my vision.

Blinking frantically, I am taken into a corridor and shoved into a line of prisoners. One of the guards, awkward in his close-fitting carapace armour, bends down and attaches a chain to the manacles around my ankles before moving on to the man next in line. I hear sounds of a brief struggle somewhere behind me, brutally punctuated by the sound of a lasrifle firing on full-auto, followed by the thump of a body hitting the floor. I don’t know who it was, and I don’t dare look. They must have known that they would never escape. But then perhaps that was the point. Perhaps they just wanted it all to be over.

I can’t help but admire such courage.

We are marched through a series of corridors, poorly illuminated by flickering glow-globes. We pass dozens of cell doors, and I wonder how many of the rooms beyond are filled with people just like us; the cursed and the hated. Sometimes I can hear sobbing echo inside my head, but all too soon we move on and it falls silent.

The guards take us up a wide flight of stairs that spirals around a vast granite pillar. Alcoves have been carved into the pillar at regular intervals; each holds a statuette of the God-Emperor. His golden eyes watch impassively as we continue to climb for what feels like an eternity. My legs burn and I gasp for breath, the others suffering just as I do. We pause briefly as a woman collapses, unable to go on. A guard kicks her repeatedly but she lays unmoving, and after a few seconds he shoots her in the head and unhooks the chain from her ankle.

We carry on walking, leaving her body where it fell.

Eventually we reach the top of the stairs and are confronted by a row of warriors like nothing I have seen before. Their heads are entirely enclosed by tall golden helmets, their muscular torsos bare and covered in tattoos. Each holds a long spear and stands at perfect attention. Without a word our guards hand us over to these newcomers. I get the impression that this has happened so many times before that words are no longer needed.

The warriors lead us through marbled hallways, black cloaks billowing out behind them. A few prisoners try to look around but are rewarded with blows to the head from the hafts of the spears, and we swiftly learn to keep our gazes fixed on the ground. I feel hostile eyes watching me with every step I take. Creatures with wings that rustle and snap fly through the air above me, the odour of incense trailing in their wake, but I dare not look up at them.

Finally we are herded into a large room, the warriors standing at the entrance and pushing us in one after another. The door closes once the last of us are inside, and the sound of heavy bolts slamming home echoes around the room like a death knell. It is only dimly lit, the ceiling invisible. Strange machinery covers the walls, tangles of pipes and cabling linking devices covered in flashing lights and ornate golden script that I cannot read. Things like black metal funnels hang above us, attached to silver cables that disappear upwards into the darkness. Someone starts to speak, then falls silent. A man next to me groans and clutches his head, and I stare at him for a moment.

Then I feel it.

Something is in here with us.

It is as if it was here all along but only now has it turned its full attention upon the room, as if our arrival was some kind of catalyst. The others moan in fear, but I smile and sit down. I know now what this place is, why we were brought here. There is no use in resisting. And why would I want to?

The machines pulse and whir, activated by means unseen, and I feel a grip close around my mind. Foreign emotions push themselves into my head. Need, potent and all-consuming, laced with self-loathing and revulsion at the desire itself, and a deep sense of sorrow for what is about to happen. It sees my understanding, and I can sense its regret diminish slightly.

A golden light fills my mind, growing in strength until I can focus on nothing else. Sight, sound, every sensation from my body vanishes at once, yet I am not afraid. I can feel the divine radiance drawing me into itself, and as it does so I begin to realise how unimaginably vast the mind is, how insignificant I am by comparison.

For a moment I am frightened.

The light intensifies still further and my fears melt away. I let go, and become one with Him.
Last edited by Tyrant on Thu Apr 21, 2011 6:44 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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The sense of threat that permeates the entire piece is fantastic. xrayex

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Re: RiaR April/May: SACRIFICE

Postby Raziel4707 » Thu Apr 21, 2011 2:14 pm

..................

Dude. Just, dude. That was absofrakkinglutely brilliant. You've outdone yourself mate, no doubt about it. For my money, this is the one to beat.
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Re: RiaR April/May: SACRIFICE

Postby Gundi da Grot » Thu Apr 21, 2011 6:57 pm

Very nice, Tyrant. Very nice indeed. I was going to do a similar entry about the sacrifice of a member of the Choir of the Astronomican as he slowly fades away, but yours is much darker and more sinister.
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Re: RiaR April/May: SACRIFICE

Postby Squiggle » Thu Apr 21, 2011 9:58 pm

Tyrant - that may be the best story yet.ace!!
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Re: RiaR April/May: SACRIFICE

Postby Stuart000X » Thu Apr 21, 2011 10:07 pm

A very good story Tyrant. I've read it from start to finish, and it is indeed a good tale. No faults to be found. Though I do query at the start when you say "come" instead of "came" for us".
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Re: RiaR April/May: SACRIFICE

Postby Tyrant » Thu Apr 21, 2011 10:09 pm

Stuart000X wrote:A very good story Tyrant. I've read it from start to finish, and it is indeed a good tale. No faults to be found. Though I do query at the start when you say "come" instead of "came" for us".


"Came" is past tense, I think "come" fits better with the tense that the piece is written in.

Thanks to everyone for their comments! :D
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I think Valerion could stand toe-to-toe with the best of Gaunt's Ghosts. I loved it. Gundi Da Grot

The sense of threat that permeates the entire piece is fantastic. xrayex

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Re: RiaR April/May: SACRIFICE

Postby Ballistichimp » Fri Apr 22, 2011 12:47 am

[Well this was a tricky one ... ]

Names

The first had been a passenger on the freighter, an unremarkable man with thinning hair and watery eyes. They had idled away the time on the long haul from Helbrandt station with small talk and cheap drink. It had been vile stuff that deck-hands probably used to strip the bulkheads when supplies ran low and the cogs weren't looking, but it had the desired effect. His name was Kline and this was his third credit run in as many cycles. He missed his wife and daughter and hoped for enough money for a better berth on the return trip. He gave his devotions at the small shrine housed in the rear of the vessel twice a day and could recite the seven key litanies of devotion expected of a citizen. Such common decency was rare in this decaying age.

The second had been a woman in one of the numerous drinking holes that huddled around the sprawling space-port. Garish lighting filled the streets and refuse choked the benighted alleys. The people went about their business with hurried steps and furtive glances while the occasional crackle of gunfire echoed in the gloom. It was not a place for good folk to linger.

He had pushed his way into the bar, case of dockets clasped to his chest and wary eyes scanning the smoky room. She had seen him then, just another off-worlder in the wrong part of town, or perhaps the right part for the wrong reasons. At first he had been resistant, but slowly her ruby smile, brown eyes and rich laugh had won him over and he'd allowed himself to be lead upstairs, away from the raucous laughter of the thugs and the belligerent boasts of the drunks.

He had watched as she peeled off the clinging dress to reveal a body shaped to seduce, to please the eye and to stoke the desires of those too morally weak or inebriated to resist. It also bore scars, old and almost invisible but deeper than she would admit to. Her name was Alessa and hers was a story repeated in thousand slums across a thousand worlds.

The third had been a manservant to a noble house, his curious tastes bringing him far from the lumes of uptown to the cruel, gang-ravaged ghettos. He carried a heavy pistol concealed beneath a long coat and walked with an air of dignity and confidence that set him apart from the impoverished residents. He believed himself clever, a haughty functionary amongst witless plebs who had not the eyes to see the peacock in their midst.

He was mistaken.

In a different bar on a different street he had found the kind of woman he sought, soft, pliant and of negotiable virtue. He had passed her his credit chit and gave her instructions and she had laughed at him, a delicate, crystal sound that had angered him unreasonably and further inflamed his desires. She would learn to her cost what it meant to mock him. That was what he was paying her for after all. In a filthy room hidden behind cracked blinds and by the light of a buzzing lume-globe he had revealed the extent of his perversion and she had screamed in her horror. Just another cry of anguish in a derelict neighbourhood filled with derelict souls.

His name had been Kenton and he did not understand true evil, only twisted lusts concocted by a mind made dull by servitude and crushed by unending duty to an uncaring master.

The fourth had been an arrogant son, pampered and spoiled by a life he neither asked for nor earned and consumed by his need for exotic experience. Amongst the gilded spires of uptown the noble houses glared at each other through crystal panes lined in gold and draped in samite. They danced and ate and exchanged pleasantries and wore painted smiles to hide their dripping contempt for one another, one hand proffered in friendship while another clasped a dagger, barely concealed behind their exquisitely dressed backs.

He wanted for nothing but desired everything, a soul with a hole rotted through that could never be filled no matter the lavish excesses made available through the wealth of his family. He surrounded himself with fawning lackeys, sycophants and powdered courtiers that laughed when expected, frowned when commanded and heaped praise upon his every endeavour.

He was a wastrel, and his name had been Du'shar.

Lounging amidst his extensive chambers he had commanded his manservant to bring his finest robes, for he was to meet with his father that evening and delve deep into the mysteries they had uncovered. Just a taste of that forbidden lore had set his nerves aflame and awakened an insatiable hunger for more. More sensation, more indulgence. The thing in the mirror had promised them as much.

He believed their House would grow stronger with its guidance.

The fifth.

The fifth had been a patriarch of the ruling House, a man more than a century old with enough wealth to forge an empire. Unimaginable sums had been paid to provide him with extensive juvenat treatments, subtle augmetics and organ replacements. His was a look of stolen youth and false vitality, of pride and vanity indulged above temperance or morality. He played the web of politics like an artist, tugging invisible threads with consequences that affected the lives of thousands for whom he cared nothing.

Still, it had not been enough.

Free of conscience and possessing limitless ambition he had gone in search of ever more power and the means to spread his influence to the highest echelons of Imperial rule. What he had found was a way to be free of the shackles of the Imperium, to walk his own path, to indulge his every whim and rule as he saw fit without heed to litanies and strictures. The thing in the mirror had whispered of this freedom, spoken to his dreams and massaged his desires. It had promised him worlds.

His name had been Du'keld, of House Veldt and as he slid from the narrow blade clutched in his sons hand he wondered how he had managed to be so wrong. He toppled to the floor, hot arterial blood pooling beneath him and he stared into the face of his killer through glassy eyes. That face folded and flowed like hot wax, the features dissolving into those of a stranger that lingered just long enough to watch him die.

With the nobleman dead at his feet, Tak'shend tapped a subdermal transponder that would signal his success to the Callidus clade. Within an hour he would be gone from this place, absorbing the details of his next target and more would die.

The assassin did not spare it a thought as he strode from the chamber.
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Re: RiaR April/May: SACRIFICE

Postby Stuart000X » Fri Apr 22, 2011 7:44 am

Jelboy wrote:Stuartxxx:

At first they were just a bulge, but as the confined space of the valley gave way to the open, it began to spread.

This is the most jarring sentence in an otherwise fine darkly humorous tale, for me. I have similar thoughts to Squiggle on this. in that it could be re-written:

What began to spread? the bulge, the valley, the open? the layout of the sentence doesn't make this clear (though obviously it's the bulge, the mind trips for a nanosecond and pulls the reader out of the story). And too, what is an 'open'? Plains, swamp, savannah, etc would all be more appropriate precise means of describing what the mass of people walked into.


I've re-written that sentence.
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Re: RiaR April/May: SACRIFICE

Postby Stuart000X » Fri Apr 22, 2011 7:53 am

Story Index




Page 1 http://www.thebolthole.org/viewtopic.php?f=21&t=322



Gulliman’s Folly – Squiggle

Will You Have Beans With That? – Stuart000X

A Human Moment – Phalanx

Blessed For The Omnissiah – Atlantic



Page 2 http://www.thebolthole.org/viewtopic.php?f=21&t=322&start=20



Just One – LordLucan

For The Greater Good! – Jelboy



Page 3 http://www.thebolthole.org/viewtopic.php?f=21&t=322&start=40



The Finer Things – Raziel4707

Sacrafice – Gundi da Grot

As The Fires Burn – Commander Shadow



Page 4 http://www.thebolthole.org/viewtopic.php?f=21&t=322&start=60



Offering – Tyrant

Names – Ballistichimp



###




There in total 11 entries thus far in the competition.
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Re: RiaR April/May: SACRIFICE

Postby Jelboy » Fri Apr 22, 2011 8:12 am

Commander Shadow: Truly horrific tale this (meant in a good way) - That would have soared in the voting for me, if it were not an unpolished diamond.

For instance:
In the air he could smell the sickly odor of charred flesh that hung in the air like incense.

The use of 'air' twice doesn't work, and the sentence could be rewritten as:
The sickly odor of charred flesh hung in the air like incense.

Also... i had trouble understanding the atmospheric conditions. At one point Stram can see red clouds above him, shortly later he is enclosed in red mist, then he can see a long way down to the plaza below where red mist swirls.
Last edited by Jelboy on Fri Apr 22, 2011 4:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: RiaR April/May: SACRIFICE

Postby Jelboy » Fri Apr 22, 2011 8:34 am

Ballistchimp: Could you please explain your story to my feeble mind? No offense intended but I need to clarify exactly what you meant by it - and your words will affect my voting. (i,e, I'm trying to decide if you are a genius, or a semi-genius). Either way, the quality of the writing deserves a vote; but, I need to be sure of exactly what happened in the plot - to decide what level of vote.
Last edited by Jelboy on Fri Apr 22, 2011 4:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: RiaR April/May: SACRIFICE

Postby Tyrant » Fri Apr 22, 2011 11:47 am

Ballistichimp (Names): This was a great piece, and very well-written as I've come to expect. I must admit I'm a bit confused about how it fits the theme. Are the four that died in order for the assassin to get to Du'keld the sacrifices?
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I think Valerion could stand toe-to-toe with the best of Gaunt's Ghosts. I loved it. Gundi Da Grot

The sense of threat that permeates the entire piece is fantastic. xrayex

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Re: RiaR April/May: SACRIFICE

Postby Ballistichimp » Fri Apr 22, 2011 6:42 pm

Heheh, yes, Tyrant nailed it in one. Each person was a victim of the Callidus so that he could wear their identity and get closer to the mark.

The four are sacrificed so that the assassin can reach the fifth, his actual target. I was trying to illustrate that even in the Imperium of countless billions every individual is still a life with hopes, dreams and motivations but that it matters not at all.

To the assassin they are just identities to be worn and cast off when that role is complete, sacrifice to greater machinations of which they have no knowledge.

I really wanted to avoid using the word 'sacrifice' however because it didn't feel right coming from the mind of an assassin.

It was a tricky one to squeeze into the word limit and perhaps I should have referred to the sacrifice of their lives as it would have made my meaning clearer.

There's always next time, right? :D ;)
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Re: RiaR April/May: SACRIFICE

Postby Stuart000X » Sat Apr 23, 2011 4:03 pm

You have exactly 4 hours and 56 minutes before the closing on this month's competition.
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