Sunday, October 28, 2012

Tablet of Transit

By Zo'Tomana:


Varesh sifted through the rubble of what was once a Brotherhood Fortress. It had been several years since Mata Nui had left them all to survive as well as they could on Spherus Magna with organic beings everywhere, new threats beyond the remnants of the Brotherhood servants, and the Skakdi and their rumored champion of power. It was well enough for him, safely tucked away inside a Mask no one dared destroy. The irresponsibility of it all made a Toa want to–

“GAH” A great spider had just launched its way through the rubble, knock Varesh on his back. A triangular piece of rock landed in his hand and Varesh lashed out with it at the creature that stood over him. The thing leapt away and scuttled a few feet before standing to watch Varesh with great intensity.

Varesh summoned power to his hand, ready to encase the Rahi, or whatever Spherus Magna beast is might be, in stone. The creature took a step forward and…bowed?

Standing down his power, Varesh looked at the Rahi, which enough dust had fallen from that he could see it was a green Visorak. A Keelerak if he could remember properly. Where one was, Varesh was sure there were more.  Varesh snapped his fingers, sending a pulse through the stones beneath the Visorak, and ran, dropping the stone he had picked up so he could use both hands to scramble over the ruins of his old universe. He would make camp far from here, closer to one of the Southern Islands if he could. Excavation crews had barely cleared to the Northern Continent, and he should be able to live in relative peace back for a few years before anyone found him and forced him out of his true home.


By Micah/Kakaru:

The ocean was silent, as it had been for millennia. The water ebbed and flowed far above, but in the furthest, darkest reaches of the ocean floor, nothing stirred the sand or the rotting corpses. Seaweed grew unmoved and slimy, straining against their roots for the surface. The sea creatures in these depths were vast and shadowy, passing through chasms to vast mountain ridges without a sound, a mystery to all who dared to observe their vigil.

A dark, spindly, hunched character gazed over just such a scene on yet another bleak day in their prison. His tattered cloak hung loosely over one shoulder, rotting matter breaking and drifting off with every movement. Moss and barnacles covered this ancient creature's claws and deformed head. The once-great warlord Mantax had stood on this cliff overlooking an even greater chasm than their beloved pit for the greater part of the last century, and his legs were getting tired.

Mantax' mind slowly began to refocus on his reason for standing over this valley when he remembered that there was nothing better to do, and promptly dismissed the thought. As soon as he did, however, another thought came to him: an artifact that had been lost to him many years ago. Something that held great power, he was certain. Slowly, with no small amount of groaning and the crack of his thin mineral shell being shed, he moved his right claw to his left hip, only to find his satchel had corroded and fallen off some fifty years earlier. He craned his neck with another loud snap and gazed at his feet. Ah, there it was. A tablet.

Mantax mentally shrugged and resumed his position. Whatever the object was, he was certain he would have done something about it years ago if it really was as relevant as he had so erroneously assumed.


By By Nick/Zarayna:


Slowly the dark figure turned the tablet around in his hands, even as he swiftly paced back and forth with the gait of a caged Muaka, almost invisible in the early morning mist. There was nothing very special about it, a triangle of smooth stone, with an embossed symbol upon the front. But what made Aola tremble with fury was not it, but what it meant. To the side was the corpse of a thin, also black figure, from whom he had wrested the tablet. It was one familiar to all Makuta, but the insignia… It had changed, and its change was what infuriated Aola; gone was Miserix’s symbol, instead the sinister shape of the Kraahkan of Teridax was upon it. It meant two things. First, that Teridax had firmly taken control of the Brotherhood, and second that Aola’s safety was gravely endangered. He had taken control of the southern islands, with Chirox retreating not only before his forces, but also to the aid of his new master. Now, with no rebellion or disorder, there was nothing to stop Chirox from returning with greater force than ever before.

Why destiny? Why do you while and cull such evil to coalesce, and then expect such preternatural strength from us? Why hast so little reason? His mind riled, matching the despairing frown on his face. But Destiny, if there was such a being, was silent, as always. Makuta believed in Destiny, for well they saw its effects. But belief in did not equal the following of, and it was long since he had walked in the way of Destiny.

Without such trite belief in Destiny, all that is left is what I always have known; the cold, dark gloom of impending Fate. For if there is no Destiny to lift, there is certainly Fate to drag down even the lofty Makuta themselves.

The tablet had slipped form his hand, and with a growl he sent a wave of plasma at it, leaving its remains to coalesce upon the corpse of its former bearer.

I will meet this tide alone, he decided. Alone with my sons, I will quell it, or fall to it.

Unknown to him, the fog was watching, and waiting. It heard his thoughts, saw his anger. And in its heart, the silvery mist smiled in anticipation.


By Eli/Kal Grochi:

Tablet of Transit

The shadows surrounded him as he walked, slinking about in the dank, slimy place that he’d come to. The vaguely insectoid being paused, turning, thinking he heard a sound behind him. He saw nothing. Typical.

Gripping his knives like they were his only lifeline, he continued along, his joints creaking, gears whirring and pistons hissing as he moved. The tunnels seemed endless, the faint, greenish glow the fungus giving off the only light, leading him on where he needed to go.

His heart pounded, the blood rushing in his ears as he continued along, feeling himself subconsciously speeding up, now at a jog, soon to be a run, unable to control himself. His long experience as an assassin told him one thing: He wasn’t the hunter, now. He was the hunted.

Unable to stop, he ran and ran, ducking down various side passages, getting himself easily lost in the area. He had no way of knowing where he was going, because he had no map. He only felt himself being driven further, past unthinkable beasts whose eyes he just barely saw as he ran past, squamous plating over rugose bodies, an indescribable hunger in their eyes.

He ran farther.

And promptly slammed into the wall. His metallic fingers grasping the knives he held in a grip such that death couldn’t break, he turned, facing that which he knew to be behind him, and saw nothing. He began to curse himself for a fool before the voice spoke.

“And it seems that one of the petty kings has come into the domain he has no control over,” the dark, rasping voice said, the shadows vibrating with it. “Does he have a death wish, or does he desire something different?” The shadows lashed out, bringing the interloper to his knees.

“Speak, Takadox,” the voice commanded. “What is your desire?” The insectoid creature on the ground grimaced as he was struck again, knowing that, one way or another, his information would be taken.

“An alliance,” he growled, holding his head high, before he was struck again, forced in pain to grovel upon the ground. “An alliance,” he repeated himself, barely gasping it out. “Makuta,” he said after, taking on a properly reverant tone, having figured out just what it was that had him here.

“An alliance,” the voice repeated as well, mocking. “What need have we of an alliance with one of the founders of the League of Six Kingdoms?” The Darkness seemed to draw into itself, contemplating something. Then Takadox felt a blast of power through his body, gasping in pain.

“Tell us your allies’ next destination,” the voice commanded. “Now.” When Takadox didn’t comply, he was blasted with pain again, forced to speak.

“Metru-Nui,” the humbled King gasped out. “Metru-Nui is where we are going, where we wish to conquer.” As he attempted to regain his breath, to quell the pain he felt, the Darkness seemed to radiate…satisfaction? Or a great malevolence?

“Very well, King Takadox,” the voice said, a dark mirth within it, promising of battle. “Let it not be said we aren’t grateful…we’ll throw you a bone, we’ll keep you safe,” it said a moment later, a small, triangular tablet skidding to the ground in front of Takadox.

The insectoid king picked it up, scrabbling along the ground to grasp the tablet, knives at his sides. He stood, holding the Tablet of Transit closely, as though it were something precious. He looked about for something to lead him out, and the Darkness about him seemed to catch that feeling, and it seemed to radiate its malevolent happiness again.

“Find your own way home,” it said, withdrawing from him as the howl of one of the beasts reverberated through the tunnels, great breaths seeming to be near.

Haltingly, Takadox took the first few steps out of the small alcove within the tunnels, not noticing the easy exit from the tunnels that was hidden within it.


By Alex/Sechs:

Draped in the hooded cloak, Rasinov passed through the swarms of Rahkshi as though he were invisible. A few of the hideous creations cast a suspicious eye his way and more than a couple dared to hiss in displeasure at his presence. His response was merely to keep his eyes to the ground and pass on regardless.

In his hands he held a triangular slab of rock with the symbol of the Makuta etched deep into it. A tablet of transit, or so some called it. By right it wasn’t his, he had nothing to do with the Makuta and would usually desire to keep it that way. However, desperate times called for desperate measures and Gherik had clearly decided that if the Lost Souls were to declare war on the Dark Hunters, then the times had gotten pretty desperate indeed. So she procured a tablet of transit from the black market, though the suppliers made no comment on its previous owners. Whoever it was, they probably lay dead in a ditch far away on some distant land, Rasinov thought to himself. Good. It was more use to him than them.

The throngs of Rahskhi eventually passed by and left him alone to wander into the huge, towering fortress of Destral. The huge silver structure leaned over and gazed down through a rain-spattered reconstruction of the Kanohi Kraahkan. Not the most inspiring sight to greet travellers, but then Destral wasn’t exactly a tourist hotspot.

Passing out of the unpleasant drizzle that had been annoying him for the duration of his journey, he was relieved to feel the loving cover of a roof hanging above his head. What he wasn’t happy to see was a caped being staring at him from the depths of the shadows that lay before him.

“Hello wanderer,” the being said. It carried a staff with a vicious looking spike at the end that dripped with a liquid Rasinov was sure he didn’t want to know about. “What brings you to my lands?”

Rasinov considered his response for a few moments, listening to the sound of the rain patting the dirt outside and was beginning to think of how inviting it sounded. Instead he responded saying, “I seek an alliance with the Makuta.”

The being’s eyes narrowed and Rasinov could almost see the smile lighting up behind his fearsome Kanohi. “And what makes you think we would want to seek an alliance with your kind?”

“We have a common enemy. The Lost Souls want the Dark Hunters disbanded. So do you. I don’t see a problem here.”

“I see a problem,” the Makuta replied. “In your hands you possess a stone stolen from a far nobler warrior than you. No, don’t look surprised. I can read your mind like an open book and I know you had nothing to do with the stone’s creation. I also know the nature of the Lost Souls, a pathetic worm of an organisation that thinks that one day you might stand to rival the Dark Hunters. It’s a laughably cute goal but ultimately a futile one.”

Rasinov faltered and took a step backwards. Behind the Makuta stepped several Rahkshi guards who hissed with what Rasinov interpreted as joy at the idea of finally using their staffs for combat. He stammered for a few moments, trying to think of something worth saying but gave up. If the Makuta was in his mind he had nothing to say.

“Good choice,” the figure in the shadows smirked. He took a few steps forward into the light so Rasinov could see his red and purple armour, then outstretched a hand. Keeping his head down, Rasinov handed over the Tablet of Transit, knowing full well that was what the Makuta wanted. “Now run.”

As soon as he finished speaking the Rahkshi leapt forwards. Rasinov turned and likewise fled out of the tower into the rain. This had been an embarrassing failure and he wasn’t looking forwards to the taunting of his colleagues. If he got out alive, he thought grimly, considering the distance of the boat to the tower…


By Caleb/Cederak:


My name is Makuta Novirax and I have a very special function within the Brotherhood. The creation of Rahi beasts for the universe was never terribly satisfying for me, no, I preferred a different breed of challenge. When it became apparent the organization would required a way to distinguish enemies from allies, we agreed on adopting a system of objects that secretive and clandestine supporters could use to ensure their safety if another Makuta suspected them of standing in our way. Thus, the Tablet of Transit was born. I am the only Makuta in the universe that knows the location of every one of those tablets, as well as its holder. I know why they possess it and the likelihood of their betrayal. In our line of work, you have to keep tabs on potential risks at all times, because you never know when a potential risk turns into an immediate problem. The ancient, long destroyed, League of Six Kingdoms made a similar error. We cannot afford to repeat their mistake.

The reason I take such a personal interest in the tablets though, is mostly due to the fact that I created them. Each one was painstakingly crafted by my hand, given the insignia of the Brotherhood - the infamous Mask of Shadows replacing Miserix's Kanohi following the coup. It didn't take much work to track down the tablets and place the new seal on them, though a few tablets were beyond my access. Suffice to say, some of the holders could no longer be reached through the extent of my powers. Regardless, the tablets remain an important part of my life, giving me the purposes of knowing where any and all Brotherhood allies are at any given time.

It's true that an early drawback to making the tablets was that the word got out somehow. Biomechs learned we were identifying allies by whoever held a tablet, and if anything of value exists, a fake is bound to be made eventually. It took me quite some time, but I trained myself to spot a forgery. More importantly, I trained myself to spot liars. Wearing a Kanohi Rode assisted me at first, but I didn't like taking a Mask of Truth with me everywhere. It made the game too simple for my taste. I wanted the satisfaction of knowing I could see through falsehoods and half-truths with my own wit, and with time, I succeeded.

I provided myself with a challenge, and I rose to meet it. Even now, as I analyze the piece of stone the Matoran of air standing (cowering really) before me placed into my hand, even as he swears up and down that it is a legitimate Tablet of Transit, my eyes and my mind cannot be deceived. His behavior is too panicky, and he exudes fear…I can feel it. The Brotherhood does not tolerate rebels to our cause, especially those so exalted in the eyes of the Great Spirit. This Matoran will have to be educated on why you do not cross a Makuta that has dedicated his lifetime to a collection of rocks. After all, centuries of that would mentally unhinge most biomechs, don't you think? You think you know the legitimate tablets from the forgeries, but every now and again, you start to wonder in the back of your mind, if you accidentally confused them in your mind. Teridax has reminded me that there cannot be room for doubt when dealing with our enemies, but sometimes…well, I just don't know. Enough delays - this deceptive little Matoran must be dealt with. Just as soon as I can stop talking to myself.

Saturday, October 27, 2012


By Zoxara Tomana:


Darian closed his door softly, trying to not draw attention from the other people who, hopefully, slept quietly in their beds up and down the hall. That was the bad thing about living in a dorm, all the people who could just knock on your door at any moment. You had to be careful.

Shrugging off his pack, Darian sat down and closed his eyes. He was tired. The day had been far, far too long for his comfort. Resting for the briefest of moments, he dragged his backpack up to his lap and began to take things out. Books. Notepad. Laptop. Planner. Pen.

Clicking the tip out, Darian marked off everything he had gotten done. Class. Interview. Paper. He still needed to do a few pages of lab work. For now he could rest. Darian leaned back and plucked a small book out from under the shelf, opening to where he had left off the last time he’d had time to read it. The tiny, leather-bound book was weather beaten. It had followed him around the world, keeping him docked in the fire-storm of life he had led so far.

Darian blinked away the visions that hung behind his eyelids and began to read once more. The silence was broken only by the hum of the outdated air-conditioner humming through the corroded vents. His phone toned three bells. 0130.

Laying the book aside, Darian began to hack away at the remaining homework until his phone sang out 0300, six bells in the middle watch. Darian forced his pen down and picked up the small book, flipping over the last few pages he’d read before turning out the desk light. He had and early class. The book went back beneath the shelf, and Darian hid himself beneath the covers of his bed.


By John/Kraggh:

Chain Gang

The chain gang moaned in sadness, anger, grief.  All the things that afflicted man and all the things that bound him to a ground far from the heavens of a destiny mot divine.  Their lives had been robbed of happiness, hope, and joy, all the things that made humanity worth its existence.  Yet, in a most cruel twist of fate, happiness was not entirely out of their reach, and hope was not all that irrational, yet these truths were kept from them, depleting them of their ability to see the light.  There was hope.  There was light.  If only they knew of its presence.

The angriest of these men, a slave by the name of Jean Valjean, had no idea of what sort of man he would become many years later.  He would go on to know true happiness, to touch the face of God, so his life, while not altogether a tragedy but in fact the exact opposite, was in the present the darkest possible of lives.  He was a stranger to all the goodness that waited just on the doorstep of his heart.  He did not know of a better future, only the torment of the present.  The crime of his condition was unforgivable.

His head felt light.  The sun was as hot as a brand against his skin.  It would go up, shine upon his temple for twelve hours without relenting, and then go down, only to come back again and shine for twelve more hours.  He couldn't take it.  His strength was great; his resolve like iron, but he was human and with his limits.  He collapsed against the ground, near the end of his rope.  Mud soaked its way into the scruff of his beard.

For a time, he felt that his angel had left him, and that he had ceased his journey in this world with all the haste that a shooting star hit the Earth, fallen out of their place.  He was nothing.  He was dead.

A gloved hand grabbed him by the chin and lifted him up like a fish at the end of a hook.  It hurt his neck and strained his patience.

"Is this prisoner 24601?" said the man.

"My name is Jean Valjean!" he replied.  His iron resolve returned to him, his strength remembered.  He was not a number, not some impersonal mass like the rocks of the Earth.  He was a human being.

"Your time is up and your parole's begun," said the man.  "Go free."

Valjean did not believe him.  He did not believe he would ever have true freedom.  If only he had known then.  Maybe his redemption would have come a few days sooner, which while inconsequential would have still been even better.  Yet, it is here where we, the readers, must recall that it didn't matter when it came, but that it came nevertheless to pass that a sad man found peace.


By Nuile/Harvey:

Leopard Manure

Sunlight cascaded through the leaves, casting the forest floor in a verdant hue. The air was weighed down, thick with humidity. The only sounds to be heard was the shrill drone of buzzing insects and the distant melodies of birds discanting as the day settled into night.

It was the time when the diurnal creatures lay down to sleep, and when the beasts of the night rose to prowl.

A yowl rived the air, shattering the quietude. The ululation dulled into a growl rumbling in the throat of a leopard.

Mighty claws slashed out, but the prey dodged to the side. The predator crouched and sprang in the space of an instant, hurling itself at its opponent. Its jaws closed around a firm wooden shaft; its claws flailed in empty air.

The man twitched his spear, flinging the creature away. The next moment he had turned and fled up into the waiting branches of the nearest tree. The leopard was not long behind him.


By Caleb/Cederak:


Shane felt the brightness of the screen glowing against his face as he gently closed his eyes, waiting for the order to come. He stood in a chamber not much larger than an apartment, containing several generators on the outside and booster rockets as well. He smirked, thinking back to how the first era of space travel must have been. The rockets propelling him further and further up through the atmosphere were being assisted by gravity manipulating devices built into the frame of the structure. It was composed mostly of lightweight metal, but Shane knew the technology that surrounded him was so expensive, it would've taken more than one lifetime to pay off on his current salary. he opened his eyes and scanned the monitor, carefully peaking over the screen and out the window. The ground was further away now and the vehicles became tiny insects in his line of vision. Shane brushed his hand along his head, meeting his buzzed hair with a soft hand. His line of work didn’t require his hands to get very dirty, and the most strain came from typing onto his holographic keyboard. He felt at home with technology, and certainly at ease with what was on his work agenda for the day. The chamber continued to ascend higher and higher, leaving Shane to stay focused on the monitor readouts. Bars fluctuated back and forth, indicating many different conditions within the chamber and how the energy was being properly regulated throughout. If one little thing went wrong like, an air filter pipe bursting, he could be dropping out of the air in seconds. His employer had taken precautions to ensure this wouldn't happen to Shane, or anyone, for that matter.

The chamber was nearing its destination and Shane stared up through the window, into the vastness of space. No longer eclipsed by the daytime sunlight, the stars burned as bright as they did at midnight. Two of the planet's three moons were also visible in the distance, but the green one was nowhere to be seen. Shane knew it was still on the other side of the world, due to come around in the evening. He typed in a command to the computer and the rocket thrusters began to release less and less power, still keeping the gravity drive regulated, to prevent an instant freefall if the thrusters suddenly failed. Shane could see many more chambers like his up ahead, joining together as one. Very soon, he would join them too. Shane had been training for weeks to make the final maneuvers as careful and safe as possible, and now all the simulations and testing would finally be put into action. Shane moved his chamber into place precisely where it was designed to rest, situating it between two other, almost identical chambers. The energy reactors locked together with the reactors outside the other chambers and the energies became one - a line of power going through the chambers. Shane turned to look back down at the planet, seeing hundreds more chambers come to join his and the two neighboring it. It was hard to believe that the world's largest company was finally going to see their energy network dream come to fruition. All around the world, a vast line of energy hub chambers were being united together, a great chain of electrical fuel that could be connected to rechargeable spacecraft batteries if a ship had to dock in the upper atmosphere. The power could also be sent back to the ground, as some sections of the chain had been built from the ground up, many miles above the sea level.

Shane returned to the monitor and tapped a message informing him his contribution was fulfilled. He then walked across the chamber, not much distance considering it was only the size of an apartment, and made sure his gear suit was fitted correctly. Once he made that mental check, Shane placed a helmet around his head and opened the departure pod. He stepped inside and leaned back, resting on the soft, padded walls of the capsule. Shane pressed a button above his head and the capsule sealed shut. Within seconds, it was being shifted away from the chamber and prepared to drop. Shane pushed the release button and felt as though the floor had dropped out from beneath him. In actuality, thrusters above the capsule were sending him plummeting back to the planet. Shane looked up through the capsule's window and was mesmerized by the completed chain. The energy network, from an idea on paper to this moment, had been over twenty years in the making. It wasn't Shane's idea, but he felt accomplished knowing he had been a part of it. Shane felt connected to the chain, as the entire planet was meant to. The energy chain, "the power bridge to the void of space" as his employer put it, would revolutionize the way electrical fuel could be transferred from the terrestrial level and beyond.


By iBrow:

They rattled ominously as I heaved myself up onto the rooftop of the building, clinking around my right ankle, which was perhaps the one bit of me that wasn’t bruised, or scratched, or bleeding, or just filthy. The incessant moans were tantalizingly quiet, and I relished the chance to pretend that they didn’t exist. To pretend that I hadn’t just climbed up fifty flights of stairs to the top of an office building waiting for a helicopter to show up and save the day. To pretend that I didn’t have a chain wrapped around my ankle in the scenario that I have to jump off the building. 

My hands shook as I checked the handgun in my left hand and the fire axe in my right.

“Where’s the goddamn chopper?” I muttered, my voice sounding hoarse and barely more than a whisper.

The moans were growing louder, and I could hear thumping from below. So far, no chopper – to be honest, I was running out of hope that there would even be a chopper. What was the point, anyway? A group of twelve, and I was the only one left thanks to some stupid chain that attached me to this building. I didn’t splatter all over the pavement with breakfast. No, I just got what would’ve been the scariest moment of my life.

If it wasn’t for, you know, the horde of zombies chasing me for my brains. 

“Aw ######, you gotta be kidding me.” 

Thumping on a door halfway across the roof top – and I had nothing to barricade it with. I thought I could hear something akin to a helicopter in the distance, but if there was, I could barely make it out over the moaning that had now overtaken all other sounds... not that there were any other sounds to overtake. 

A crack echoed like thunder as a the door bent at the middle – a second later, with a second crack, it burst into pieces and the undead began to stumble out of the doorway in all of their desecrated, bloody mess of looks. I raised the handgun and fired off a shot, but it missed. I’d never trained with a gun in my life, and being forced to learn to use them in the past three days hadn’t done much.

I backed away to the edge of the roof, risking a glance back – there was a helicopter! However, it was too far off – I was still on my own.


By Aimee/Aderia:

"Mama. Mama, this looks funny," the little girl grabbed her mother's wrist. She had spotted the simple twine bracelet ornamented with painted clay beads.

"It's a statement," her mother replied. "It's not meant to look pretty."

All the other women that her mother talked to, they wore delicate silver chains with glass beads. Only very poor people wore twine and clay. And the little girl knew her family was not poor. Surely, quite surely, her mother didn't have to wear the itchy twine and dull clay on her wrist.

"I don't understand, Mama."

Her mother didn't answer right away, continuing to walk down the familiar path from town to their house.  She finally extended her arm down to the little girl. Turning down the road that led to the shipyard, away from home, she said, "Come with me, there is something I want to show you."


The little girl clung to her mother's same wrist with two hands, rolling the rough twine between her tiny fingers. Looming men who smelled foul sulked around the docks, and they scared her. Her mother knew this.

"I don't like this. I want to go home, Mama."

"We will, soon enough. There is something you need to see," her mother replied. She felt her mother's free hand smooth her hair.

To avoid having to look at the hulking sailors, the little girl walked with her face buried in her mother's skirts, and relied heavily on her mother to keep her from stumbling. But her mother was patient. Her soft voice coaxed the little girl's head up. She saw that they were on the top of a small hill, with the path leading down to more docks. At the base of the hill was a small scaffold with no more than two dozen people standing around it. And standing on the scaffold were four other people. The little girl recognized the four people instantly as slaves.Those four people, they looked different from other people. They looked like they had no hope.

"Look," Her mother said, although it was in vain. The little girl was already looking. "Do you see the chains that they wear?"

"Yes, mama."

"They do not wear chains as jewelry," she told her daughter. "Because slavery is a horrible thing that should not exist, we shouldn't wear chains as jewelry either."

After a moment, the little girl spoke. "I don't think I understand."

"You will, someday when you're older," Her mother sighed. She turned towards home, gently tugging her daughter in to step beside her.


By Will/Tolkien:


A rat scuffled down by his ankle, and he twitched to send it scurrying away. Water drip-dripped on the stone around him, and he shifted his limbs again. His wrists were chafed—chafed and raw against the metal clasps that bound him to the wall. Clink went the links of the chain, and he settled down again, down in the hateful dark. Soon, he hoped. Soon.

The air held still in the narrow space of the cell. Stale and old. He’d given up living a long time ago. Given up breathing, but his heart still pumped feebly, in spite of himself. There was nothing more for it to do now. No changes down here. Only water dripping and the slight shifting of limbs to stave off stiffness and pain. Soon even that would end, and he would be happy for it.

He could hear the rat nibbling at the moldy bread that lay untouched on the metal plate by the cell door. He had not eaten for a long time. So long that the dull ache in his stomach had ceased to pain him. He was numb to it now. It was a part of him. But not for much longer. He had heard that sometimes men could sense the end as it was coming, like the echo of footsteps in a long corridor. The footsteps were coming for him. He was sure he could hear them. Soon they would be here. Another breath rattled down his throat. In and out, stale air whispering in the stillness. The rat finished its meal and scampered away into some dark crevasse. Feast, my friend. I have not talked to you in a long time, and I have no more words for you now. The footsteps are coming. They’ll be here soon, I hope.

For a long time he had thought that it would be a simple thing. One moment awake, the next asleep, and then gone, and the breath would slip out of him, and the chains would bind him no more. But it was not simple. He knew that now. There was no sleep for him, after the rage of hunger had passed. Only long, wakeful waiting. He had been impatient before. He could not stand the waiting. But now he was too weak to care. His limbs were not truly his own anymore. And what was the point of moving anyway? The clasps on his wrists were harsh, and the chains were bolted deep into the stone wall. Their short reach had been the extent of his world for so long. But they could not hold him forever, because he would not last forever. Lock me up, and someday I shall be free.

Step, step, step. Please come soon. I have waited. Drip, drip, the dampness covered his thin body, and he shifted again. Clink, clatter, and the fire in his wrists flared up again for a moment, a fleeting thing. He felt it every time he moved. That small pain. It was nothing compared to hunger...but this time. This time it was different. This time he felt it, as if he had never felt it before. All the anger and despair of his imprisonment blazed in that pain, and it was too much. Too much!

Something snapped inside him, and his heart leapt as a surge of strength went through him, straining at the cold metal. Weakened muscles spasmed, and the blood pounded, pounded in his ears. Pound. Pound. Step. Step. Step.

And then...then he was up, standing lightly on his feet. Dizzy and light, and the pounding was gone. All gone. Silence. Blissful silence, and there was no more pain. The darkness didn’t feel so deep anymore. He couldn’t believe it. After all this time. What had happened? He stumbled forward, hands outstretched. The hasp was cold metal, cold and dripping, and he felt the coolness on his hands, or thought that he felt it. He gripped it clumsily and pulled, pulled. Clink, creak, the door swung inward, and he gasped to feel the free air on his face, in his lungs. Did he feel it? Truly?

Then came the light. A red light, burning on the end of a torch, it flared up in his darkened vision. Fire and sooty smoke that rushed at him, and he recoiled. But then it was gone. The torch went past him, into the cell behind him, and suddenly there was a hand holding the torch aloft. A hand and a body, stooped and clothed in rags. The door creaked again on its hinges as the dark form moved past him, and the prison cell lit up with fiery light.

He gaped, standing there in the passage. He was out.  He was free. He felt was so strange. That cell had been his world for so long, and then it was all over. He blinked and rubbed his eyes, and almost laughed...

And then suddenly he understood. Looking in at the door, he understood. Clink went the links of the chain as the gaoler nudged the body with his foot and grunted. The body...thin and bearded and bound to the wall. Torchlight swept the chamber once more, and then the man shrugged and turned to go. He left the door open, and the light receded slowly down the corridor. Step. Step. Step.

It was gone. He was alone again. Alone in the free air. Soon, he had hoped, and soon had come. He had heard it coming. Known that it would come, but even he had not expected it in the end—he who had been so watchful and so aware. Please come soon. I have waited...

And there was only one more thing to be done.

Clink went the links of the chain, and the metal clasps rattled against the stone as they clicked and sprang open, falling from the wrists of the old man’s corpse. He left them behind, down there in the hateful dark.

Lock me up, and someday I shall be free.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


By Micah/Kakaru:


I can't stop it. This bright, red-- ugh. I pull the gauze tighter around my thigh and blink back the tears of panic. My damp tent whips and snaps at me in the wind. A single glass-encased flame sits in the center of my flat bedroll. The sticky liquid pools in the dents on the ground and is soaked up by the limp cotton in my bed.

This never happens. It's not supposed to happen. Wandering off the trail; people do that all the time. Why the hell am I the only the one that can't make it back? Right now I'm more frustrated at myself, almost enough to make me forget that I'm bleeding to death in the middle of a tempest. The wind slows for a moment and snaps back in full force. The side of the tent raps me in the back of the head and knocks over the lantern. The flame is snuffed out in a red puddle. I reach over to try and right it, placing my hand in several inches of my own blood. Bile lurches up my throat and I slowly gag it back down. My throat burns.

I wish I knew where I was. My compass is a worthless, dollar-store piece of crap that's more eight-ball fortune than anything. I shake it up and get a different answer every time.

I try to lay back down, but the feel of the sticky liquid sends a chill down my arms. That, and my leg hurts like none other. No doubt it's getting infected from the algae-covered water I used to rinse it out.

I sit up and partially cross my legs. My eyes slowly adjust to the dark and my ears tune out the storm. I rock back and forth slowly and put my head between my knees. Right as I begin to nod off, thunder screams across the canyon and lightning sears my vision.

I'm not getting to sleep, and I'm certainly not finding a way out of here like this.

Tonight is going to be horrid.


By Z'Tomana:


‘ “Stop staring at that wall,” Gerek frowned at me. It was his fault for putting in such an ugly wall, and I made a point to tell him so. It was orange with red lines curving and twisting across its surface. Whenever I can to see him I could hardly take my eyes from it, so engrossing was the pattern. It leapt at the eyes, punishing them with disturbed shades that had no connection to each other. At least, I think there isn’t a connection. I have to make sure. If I look at a specific point, it seems like there is a pattern, but as soon as I move my eyes the sense of it dissolves.

“You can here to talk about a map,” he shoved at my shoulder.

“Yeah, it’s in my backpack.” I had been trying to find something for about a month now. The map was really blueprints to my old place. Supposedly the last owner had hidden something. It isn’t that important though, this wall–

“These are the same blueprints from last time,” Gerek grumbled. “This is the fifteenth time you’ve come. We agreed that–“

“It wasn’t there.” If I start at the center of the wall, it spirals out, but then everything separates. Surely there is a starting point that makes sense? “Does this wall have a pattern?”

“No, you’ve asked every time, now let’s try again.”

“Just gimme a few minutes, I want to figure out this wall.” Left, bottom corner is all straight lines and right angles.

“You said that last time, and the time before, come here.” He was angry.

Right hand, top corner, nothing, just a smooth splotch of red and orange like mashed bugs rubbed into the wall. Does it move out from there? No…

“You’ve been coming for weeks about these prints and all you do is stare at that wall. We’re done, go.”

Moving closer to the wall, I pressed my hand to it, touching my knife with the other. “There’s something here. I’m going to find it.”

He shouted at me then. He always had a hot temper. I don’t like it when people yell at me. I will find the pattern, the way in the maze. He held me back. He was hiding it from me.’

I rose in front of the officers who held me.

‘Can you remove his body now? I need to find the pattern on the wall.’


By Harvey/Nuile:


The stars were bright that night. I don’t think they’ve ever been brighter. It’s funny. The whole evening had been that way.

The twilight had been more golden than I had ever seen it. It gilded everything it touched, glimmering on the drops from the afternoon’s rain. The humidity in the air was warm and caressing, nothing less.

And the rays of the sun as they touched the skies, lending its tinctures to the clouds in varying shades, can only be described by one word: magical.

Even her eyes that night glowed with a sheen that transcended her consuetudinary effervescence.

Ironic. When I felt at my worst, the world is at its best.

When I felt in the depths of despair, the world around me was in the heights of glory.

Even when the tears hung on her lashes like the last raindrops hung from the leaves of the trees; even when her face was as moist as the sodden earth; even when she could hardly keep her voice level, she was smiling at me.

That smile. She always smiled. Always. I’ll never forget it. That memory will be all that remains to keep me company.

She told me it was over. She told me that friendship was no longer possible, the way she felt . . . and the way she knew I felt.

But she told me she wasn’t ready for anything more. And in my heart I knew that I wasn’t, either.

And now I’m lost. And alone. And waiting, and searching. Perusing the profundity of my broken heart and my wounded soul.

Time. It can be an impasse as substantial as any other. Incorporeal or not, it’s more insuperable than most, for there is only one way to overcome it.

Let it pass. Let it go by.

It’s a mire. It’s daunting. But I have to trudge me way through. I have to wait.

How could I do anything else? It’s all I can do for her, now. I always swore I would do everything; how could I turn back now?

When I made the pledge with but God as my witness, I had no idea the task she would require of me would be as hard as this. But I’ll find my way through. I have to.

I love her. How can I do anything else?


By iBrow:


“...take the blue pill, and wake up in your bed tomorrow morning with no recollection of the events. Or, you can take the red pill and discover how deep the rabbit hole really goes.”

“What about the purple pill? What does it do?”

“There is no purple pill, Neo.”

“What? Neo? Who the – oh, I get it.”

Jackson stood from the old debilitated chair and walked over to the fire. Before any of the people in the room could comment on his actions, Jackson shoved his sleeve up and then reached his bare arm into the fire. Pain immediately lanced through his body upon contact and his body jerked before his vision faded to black.

He bolted upright into a sitting position, tossing his blanket onto the floor in a heap. The sun was shining through the window, and he could make out the particles of dust floating around through the air in front of him.

That’s the fourth night in a row. He thought.

Each night he’d been having the same dream, with a figure who called himself “Morpheus” offering him a choice between two pills, one red and one blue. The dream always began at the choice, and so Jackson had no idea what it was all about. But each night his methods of removing himself from the dream had gotten progressively more dangerous. The first night he’d simply pinched his arm – now he was sticking his arm in a fire.

Hands trembling slightly, he scratched his head subconsciously as he carefully picked his way across the bedroom, making sure not to step on any pieces of plastic that would surely drive right through his feet. He gasped softly when his feet first touched the cold hardwood flooring of the hallway, and he tip toed as fast as he could into the washing room. Once inside, he stared at the mirror. His blue eyes distracted him as they had been the last several weeks, as if they were a mystery to be solved. His dirty blonde hair was dishevelled from the night of sleep, and a rather large pimple on his chin seemed to mock him. He reached up and pinched, his face scrunching in pain as he popped it.

Once finished, with his dream still weighing on his mind, Jackson made his way to the kitchen and opened the cupboard, pulling out his bottle of pills, which rattled as he removed it from the shelf. He twisted the cap off and gasped, his hand beginning to shake when he saw the assorted red and blue pills inside.

“You can take the blue pill, and wake up tomorrow with no memory of these events. Or, you take the red pill, and discover how deep the rabbit hole goes.”

He could hear the voice in his head as clear as day.


That evening, Jackson shivered as he climbed into bed, trying to calm himself enough to get the rest he needed. Surely it was nothing - surely he wouldn’t have the dream again...

“You need to make a choice, Jackson.”

Jackson bit back the urge to scream as he found himself in that cursed chair once again, facing the figure of Morpheus.

“Who are you?” he asked.

“I am the one who is offering you the choice.”

“What is that choice, exactly?” he asked.

“You stay, or you go.”

Jackson shook his head, pushing off of the chair as he stood. He turned, unsure of what he was planning to do in order to remove himself, but he was stopped by the voice of Morpheus.

“It will only get worse if you ignore it, you know. All of us must make a choice someday.”

“I don’t even know what this is about!” protested Jackson.

“Many of us never learn. What is important is that you make it, and why. Not what the choice is about.”

“I beg to differ.” Jackson said.

“Then remove yourself. What will you do when you have jumped off the roof? Where will you go then? The choice becomes far more pressing with each moment, and your methods of evading it must become more extreme as a result.”

Jackson bit his lip, hesitating.

“I’ll take the red pill.” He said tentatively.

Morpheus smiled. “I had hoped so.”

Jackson grabbed it and threw it in his mouth, swallowing in one shot.

“Now what?”

“Now... now we live with the consequences.”


By Will/Tolkien:

The Fear Would Come

A branch swayed and snapped in the wind far above him, and he felt it shudder, shudder down the tree, into his feet and his mind, and he moved. Sharp and sudden movements brought him out of the hollow in the tree trunk, and he felt the deep grind of bark against bark where two branches lay against each other. Then he was across and scrambling up the bole of the second tree. Up and down and over. The forest was full of murmuring. Leaves rustled and swished in wave upon wave as he passed amongst them, skittering from branch to branch, and the sound of waking insects drummed a dull and distant sound in the evening air. He should go hunting for them...yes he should, but not now. Not yet. The forest sound swelled and moved around him, and yet it could not hide the noise of a horse whinnying in the distance or the scuff of leather on stone, or the rasp and clink of metal links. Foreign sounds, but he knew them, somehow. And he had to see.

The cover of the leaves broke as he scampered across another branch. A dead branch. The tree stood alone upon the edge of the forest, burned out and broken by the white, angry fire of a storm long passed. His feet were sooty as he whipped along the thinner branches, away from the safety of the forest. Out into the open. He was exposed here. Completely exposed. The air was cold and foreign upon his face, and yet there was no fear in him. That was strange. No fear at all.

Up, up, up. The dead branches were crumbling, but they were still firm enough to support him. Claws dug into the yielding bark, and it came away in strips. He was forced to scrabble for a hold a few times, and the fear almost returned then, leaping up out of the depths where it had been somehow buried. He almost yearned for the fear. This place was not his place. Not his way. The fear was natural. It was safe.

But there was no safety here. Perched upon the highest branch thrusting above the ruinous black tree-crown, he looked out into the vast, empty space that marched up to the walls of the living wood, clear and cold and so very open. But the space was not empty. Not empty at all. The air was full of noise and strange smells, rising on the autumn wind to sweep against the barriers of the forest. There were men on the plain. Men. How did he know them? Still no fear. There were horses with them. Horses he knew. They were wrapped and saddled with strips of hide, and some of the men sat astride them. Many. So many.

Metal flashed and flickered in the evening gloom. It jabbed at his eyes, this strange light, and he shied away. But no, it was not strange to him. Why would the fear not come? Armor and swords and mail. Helmets with spikes and sharp blades hanging from grasping hands and spears, spears, spears. He longed for the fear. Screamed for it. Rise up and sweep me away, away into the deep, green safety of the trees. Send me fleeing from the cold and the sound of shod feet beating the earth. It was too much. Too much!

The wind howled and rattled the dead tree as the squirrel shivered back, back along the branch. Back. Back. Please, back!

And then the fear came.


The severing was sharp, like breaking the surface of deep water. The sharp intake of breath sounded strangely harsh in the air as his mind readjusted to the dull hearing of man. But then he was back, and his hand pulled away from the rough bark of the tree. He was a man again.

“Anything?” the soldier’s voice whispered. The daylight had fallen below the edge of the mountains to the west, casting the forest into deeper gloom.

The scout rubbed his eyes, clearing his head. “Two outriders,” he said, “and a column of men coming behind. They’re trying to flank us.”

“Good, good.” The older man was crouched down at the base of the tree, squinting at his map.

“They’ll have to loop south once they reach the Gorge,” he said. “We’ll be ready by then.”

He folded the map and straightened up, clapping a hand on the younger scout’s shoulder. “Been too long since we had a proper pathfinder along,” he said, chuckling. “You’ve done well. Tomorrow you’ll get a taste of battle, I expect.” The soldier laughed gruffly and moved away toward the horses.

Tomorrow. That soon.

The scout shivered and pulled his hood tighter as he followed the soldier. He ought to be excited. Excited or terrified. One of the two. He wished he’d had more time to prepare himself. But now...tomorrow. He felt numb. His fingertips were cold as he untied the reins of his horse, and the palm of his right hand still ached where he had pressed it into the rough tree-bark and sent his mind out searching for a creature to serve his purpose.

He had made that creature fearless for a time. It was always a strange experience. He knew he should be terrified now. He was sure of it, but he couldn’t think. No, not yet. Tomorrow.

The fear would come.