Q3 2022 EP Contest: NaNoWriMo

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Augur
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Q3 2022 EP Contest: NaNoWriMo

Post by Augur »

The contest is to submit a short story.

This contest is going to cover a chunk of the Winter time frame to give players adequate time for their submissions.

Submit any (one) short story of your own creation as a post reply to this thread.

Guidelines
  • Grammar and spelling are important to create a quality submission, so you need to seriously proofread your work!
  • The short story can be approximately 5,000 words. Deviation can only be within + or - 500 words or less.
  • The short story must be based in one of the game settings of the Palladium Megaverse. (Palladium Fantasy, Rifts, Robotech, etc.)
  • No images are allowed in the submissions.
YOU ARE ONLY AUTHORIZED TO VOTE ONCE PER PLAYER! IF YOU VOTE USING MULTIPLE ACCOUNTS, YOUR VOTES WILL BE STRUCK FROM THE RECORD, AND YOUR ACCOUNTS WILL BE BARRED FROM THIS FORUM.

Explanatory Notes:
The contest ends January 1st. Augur will validate/invalidate each submission at this time based exclusively on the quality of the writing, add a poll to the contest, and the EU community will vote for their favorite submission. (Time to bribe your fellow players!)

The contest judgment will begin on January 1st, provided there are at least 3 entries to judge, and will be concluded by no later than January 7th (IRL permitting!).

Prizes
1st Place: Submission will be read aloud and produced as a podcast episode on Radio Free Merctown. +10 EP
2nd Place: +5 EP
3rd Place: +3 EP
(Players may be paid in Roll20 bennies if they prefer.)
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dr. asterisk
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Nov 05, 2022 8:24 pm

Re: Q3 2022 EP Contest: NaNoWriMo

Post by dr. asterisk »

The following is a short story that serves as the introduction to a campaign I am running at local conventions (GameHole Con, GaryCon and perhaps other RPG conventions in the midwest). The story is about 5 Altaran Warrior women slaves (and their eventual allies) who endeavored an escape from Atlantis to strike their own fortune in the world. Part 1 was 2021-2022 con season and we are currently in Part 2 (of planned 6).

If this gets read aloud, the main PCs’ slave designations are “Attendant V1B1” “Attendant V2B1” “Attendant V3B1” “Attendant V4B1” and “Attendant V5B1” and for lack of proper names, they go by 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, respectively. 1 can look like the capital letter ‘i’ in many fonts so take care which is which.

Letter to Erin Tarn follows.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

4
Aka “Attendant V4B1”
Former Court of Regent Sthulsennrd
To: Erin Tarn
Spring, 109 PA

Honored Chronicler,

You had asked for the experiences of others regarding the courts at Splynn. I do not have much time currently but as I may not respond for a while after this, I present to you a short account of who we are, our origin and why others seek us. You are also now one of the few who could find us if needed and I consider that a great trust.

The Five of us were born as property, like many of our race and the region, seeking a higher status or freedom. We developed early and showed signs of advancements beyond the other clones and slaves. We knew more of life, felt more of our world and consumed the environment around us in a way that others did not seem to grasp.

By early in our second decade, we had expended upon the psyche given us and shown extraordinary abilities. 1 was a master of the mind, though her powers frightened her more than they astonished us. 2 found the ability to control electricity and sometimes even machines themselves, when she didn’t want them to scan or interfere. 3 became our warrior, training with only the finest combat agents the Regent could summon but she held back her most versatile talents and shared them only with us. I was able to draw all powers into myself, nullifying even the strongest of us, in addition to anyone who might learn of our worth. 5 was the most discontent with captivity and practically lived outside in the gardens every chance she could, eschewing bipedal contact whenever possible.

We also learned quickly that such interest was not to be shared, lest our supernatural qualities be exploited or worse yet, destroyed along with our very selves. So we studied in secret, or so we had thought. Our efforts went unnoticed for several years, as far as we knew. Later we surmised that The Regent must have seen this (though we know not how) as he treated us differently from any of the other assembled slaves, staff or even leadership, military or aristocratic. We were summoned to serve in a greater capacity and for more important guests. The rewards were commensurate with our new status; better food, more freedoms, nicer accouterments. For a long time, we thought perhaps this elevation would be enough to satisfy our needs and keep even 5 comfortable, but it was not to be.

5 never took to being indoors and 2 and 3 always showed restlessness with our fate – 3 because of the stark injustice of keeping slaves in the first place, or even the establishment of castes of any kind; while 2 outright showed disgust at the opulence and hypocrisy of treating others based upon some artificial measure of worth. More than once, 2 was disciplined for her sharp tongue and even slapping a guard once. 2 spent a week in solitude after that incident.

It is likely 5 who served as a catalyst for our discovery, though she was the most unhappy there and I cannot understand her struggle and therefore I cannot judge it. In doing so, however, she also would also be the purveyor of our freedom, such as it is for the other 4 and eventually, perhaps for me, once I have sought my reckoning with my sisters and anyone who might be harboring them.

One morning (as it is recorded, this could have been the morning of our 16th birthday, if there were such a thing), they came to us again, this time with another important guest. She was the Grand Inquisitor, one who would not normally visit our compound and instead worked to seek external threats to the Splugorth lands. We obliged her the best service, as always, but she seemed wholly disinterested in pleasantries or the comforts of our home.

Soon after Her arrival, The Inquisitor demanded a show of our gifts. We feigned ignorance, as 1 and I had hidden us so many times prior without anyone the wiser. The Inquisitor was visibly displeased. Upon our facade, without hesitation, She snatched 1 by the throat with a scaly claw, drew her in and hissed, “Do not trifle with me. I insist!”

The Inquisitor had somehow slipped by our screens. She knew! Perhaps she had known for a while. She growled in disgust, then threw 1 to the floor and turned to 2, who had begun to tremble and by instinct, ignited the slightest glint of blue in her eyes. She was going to defend her sister and the rest of us, whatever the cost. A look of anger crossed her face but anger was not alone in her expression. She was awash in... relief?

Suddenly remembering myself, I began to speak , intending to blanket the area with my dampening field, but only a word or two was formed before I was interrupted by The Inquisitor.

With a whirl of her arm, the Inquisitor threw back her cloak, stood to full height, and raised her staff at 2, which erupted a humming, coruscating, almost liquid-like red beam at her. I instinctively raised my hands to shield 2 but I again was too slow. The energy simultaneously engulfed and passed through 2 and I watched as she collapsed without a sound. She struggled to rise but flailed and lost purchase more than once. The beam had siphoned whatever immediate energy she would have summoned.

I froze. It was if I watched myself from above, unable to move as events unfolded. Only a couple seconds but far too late.

Both 1 and 3 screamed at the same time. 1’s cry was of fear. 3’s was of rage. 3 steeled herself, then summoned the strength and the spirit of many warriors and leapt in an instant, crossing the distance to the Inquisitor - some 10 meters - in the blink of an eye - a bright golden blade emerging from the air, brought down near the Inquisitor’s loathsome crown. I had hope for an instant as I had seen this blade sever and destroy several inches of reinforced metal plating, even the strongest of objects, without slowing. What I saw again stunned me.

3’s blade struck an invisible shield and was partially deflected, as was the entirety of 3’s body, as a loud crack and a simple swipe of the Inquisitor’s other arm sent her rolling like a leaf on the wind. 3 landed upside down on one shoulder, the clang of her helm impacting the tile floor, her body only stopping motion when it slid all the way across the room and into the far wall. 3 lay motionless.

Immediately thereafter, a grizzly, sub-Altaran roar could be heard from the opposite corner as 5 had finished her transformation and begun to charge toward the Inquisitor. Behind the rage, we could also see in 5’s eyes the fear that she knew she would also be too late. Through her desperation, she too launched herself at the foul Mistress, who seemed almost relaxed and waiting for this opportunity. The Inquisitor delivered a blow from her staff worthy of a matador thrice her size, sending the great bear sprawling with its own momentum, crumpled unconscious before she hit the floor.

1 cried out again and knelt, trembling, seeking no more of this. “No! I understand now! Stop it! Please!” For a short pause, the Inquisitor regarded her, then smiled and looked away. The Inquisitor’s gaze turned to me. I looked at the limp forms of 3 and 5 and the writhing form of 2, still experiencing the pain of the beam. My anger quickly swelled then exploded, but that is not the correct word. It imploded, drawing the Inquisitor to me, or myself to her, I am not certain.

I again instinctively reached out and instead of pushing power from myself, instead grasped the staff with both hands. While it was very hot, it did not burn me as I had often suppressed such power before. No arcane power can hinder me, I reminded myself. I focused my rage forward and I screamed into the Inquisitor’s resentful, leering maw but even as loud as I was, I could only hear the humming of the staff, its vibration permeating everything around it. I could smell The Inquisitor’s heavy, copperlike distaste of me as she almost playfully cooed,

“It is almost over, child. Submit or be destroyed!”

“NO!” again I screamed but it again my voice was subsumed by the buzzing of what sounded like a million insects, or maybe not insects but the buzzing of electricity. I looked in the direction of the noise and saw 2, still prone but now connected to the Inquisitor by the bright blue-white lattice of power shooting from her fingertips. I was not alone, in fact. I took in breath for the first time since the conflict had started. I breathed out again. Focused.

The Inquisitor’s body convulsed upon contact with the lightning now bouncing from point to point along her miserable frame. 2 had burned her! I called out to 1, who was still cowered and weeping. 1 squeezed her eyes shut, placed her hands over her ears and shook her head back and forth, exclaiming, “I get it! I understand! I understand! I’m sorry!”

I knew she meant the opposite and braced myself as the Inquisitor pushed into me again. I resisted. No more, I thought.

For just a moment, 2’s onslaught kept the Inquisitor from bearing all her might in my direction and there was a balance, neither of us gaining. It felt like pushing and pulling at the same time. 1 cried again, “Please, no! I understand!” I squeezed out another plea to my cowering sister, “1! Snap out of it! Open your eyes and help us!” Either the sound did not reach her or it was without the strength to revive her from her nightmare.

In doing that, I lost concentration for only a second. I struggled and I weakened. I had never felt power like this before and I had faltered again. I was going to lose and I knew I was going to die. I knew I was going to end up inside that staff somehow as it was already pulling me inward. My eyes darted to 1 and I screamed, “HELP ME!”

1 opened her eyes and looked at me. She heard me, though I know not how. With tears streaming down her face and a look of overwhelming sadness, 1 concentrated and focused on - or I should say through - the back of The Inquisitor’s skull. Again, the Inquisitor suddenly pulled back, her face in shock. All of her weight was abruptly taken from me. Where I was already beaten, my limbs were once again light and free. 2 and 1 had weakened Her.

Just enough. I then saw fear in the Inquisitor’s eyes, if that creature could experience fear.

This familiar energy was mine alone. Using the brief respite, I redoubled my strength and instead of pulling away from the staff, I leaned forward and pushed inward with all my...well “might” is not the right word, either. All my being.

In my fury and desperation, the Inquisitor’s body was not more than a silhouette now against my wobbling grey aura that was closing in toward her core. The staff became hot in my grasp but I did not release it. I both squeezed and pushed harder. The humming grew louder as the aura enveloped more and more of the Inquisitor’s body. And myself. Red vs. grey. Grey now.

I watched as the crimson beam – I was engulfed by it now – turned to a dull brown. It crackled to a halt as the staff became cinders and crumbled, disintegrated, bits falling from my hands onto my cloak and onto the floor, leaving only a rather small red gem in a pile of ashes.

The Inquisitor‘s voice was cut silent as She gazed at me in disbelief, then slumped, now seeming much smaller than she appeared before. The room, the floor, the building, the universe rippled out and then back upon itself with the sound of rushing air. The Inquisitor’s body paused a moment, teetering, and then met the floor almost gently. And then there was silence.

The room and everything in it took on a reddish aura as I was pulled…drawn inside the gem on the floor, able to observe but not act. This should not have been. No such force can affect nor imprison me, or so I thought.

“Of course it can, young one. Welcome!” A calm, warm voice beckoned me. A male voice. One I had heard somewhere. I saw no one, nothing but the ruby windows of my prison. I mentally pressed myself toward the scene unfolding outside. I strained to hear.

1 gasped for air. 2 painstakingly scraped herself to a standing position. 3 and 5 lay motionless. I watched in disbelief, forgetting to even breathe. My hands shook violently, yet were still holding the nonexistent staff and then I saw the burns, all over my exposed skin and my robes.

The voice again, “Breathe. Your pain will disappear in time. Let me help you.” I ignored him for the moment.

The only other living being in the room was a guard, who dropped his spear at the door as he fled, leaving the gate wide open. I must have paused there for many mute seconds as 2 rushed to where I had stood, frantically searching for me but finding nothing. 3 had stirred and righted herself exclaiming, “let’s get out of here!” 2’s hesitation finally grounded the others who were now just noticing I had disappeared in the fire. 2 called for me and spun in place, wildly, as if expecting to find me just over her shoulder each time.

1 kept crying, “It’s my fault! I did it! I understand! It’s here!” while 2 and 3 ran to the corners of the room and the hallways in a futile search. I screamed from within my ruby prison, to no avail. I channeled every force I knew at the walls only to find I was bound completely within.
What seemed like several minutes but really had to be much less, 2 then picked up a still unconscious 5 while 3 grabbed 1’s hand, pulling her out the door and down the ramp, presumably to the pads.

I helplessly screamed for them to pick up the gem. I swear I saw 2 look at it...at me. I saw 3 look at it...at me. I felt 1 and if I could feel her, she must have been able to know I was alive. I detected a hint of a smile from 3 as she straightened up and said, “She’s gone. Our sister is gone. We must leave -- now!”

The guards did not know whether or not to intervene but 2 did not give them the chance. She incinerated them on the spot. The last thing I heard was the hum of repulsors as what had to be their escape craft fled the area.

“It is alright, young one. Let them go. You are with me, now,” the voice belonging to He who I will refer to as the Denizen.

“With whom?” I asked. “Why am I here? Let me go!”

“It is your time to be here. As all things must happen their time, your time must be here while your sisters flee,” the Denizen replied.

I expected an army of guards, fleet of ships, or at the very least a hunting party but there were none forthcoming. It is almost as if no one knew they were gone. I suspected they would try to capture them or at the very least destroy them, but no one came for what seemed to me at least an hour. But it wasn’t that long and couldn’t have been. Time…was different in this place.

The Denizen interrupted my thoughts again. “Forgive me but for this first part, I really don’t have much time. Let’s get started, shall we?”

“Started with what? Who are you?” I again asked.

“It would be to your benefit to relax and allow my presence in your mind while I obtain what I need from you,” he ordered me, sternly. “I would hate to have to damage you.”

I tightened my core and replied, “I am sorry, sir. No one takes any-”

I was blinded by the pain rushing between my temples. I doubled over, staggered back and slumped against the glass wall. I convulsed and I retched while the smell of burnt hair filled my nostrils. The pain accompanied me into the darkness as I left the world behind.

“I am sorry,” was the last thing I heard.

Sometime later, I awoke to silence. I had not moved nor even stretched out, my body still contorted in the awkward position in which I had collapsed, legs drawn up and head and shoulders pressed into the floor. It took effort to get my limbs to move.

“Let me go,” I strained. No reply. “Are you there? Let me out of here.”

More silence. My head pounded. I was left to myself for some time, what seemed like hours.

The ruby was eventually noticed as part of the investigation into the battle. I was placed inside the pocket of a lowly lieutenant who chose to not share what he had found. I supposed it is to his larceny that I owe my freedom.

My gemstone was sold on the street for what must have been a fraction of its actual value. I can only ascertain that the reason it does not detect as magical is also the reason why it was able to hold me; it must come from the same force that created my abilities.

I could not count the days I spent in darkness, with only one voice to keep me company. This being, this pocket universe in itself, entertained itself with me for what was many months if not longer; I could not tell. Part of me feels as though it is still there.

I learned from the Denizen of the ruby that the others were relieved to be away from me. It/he told me their essence hues changed after I was gone; that they were happy. I lay on the brink between sanity and the maelstrom because they did not care enough to free me, much less look for me.

I would say I am owed an explanation and a reckoning.

I eventually made my escape from this trap, though I do not have time to detail the process here and it is a separate story unto itself which is not even yet concluded and so I will wait on that.

I regretted eliminating the buyer of the stone but I could not allow a witness. I also had to track down and deal with the lieutenant before making my escape from the giant island. Stories for later.

After some searching through our secret hiding places and coordinates from base computers, I learned the four traveled east to the great continent and hid for weeks in the wilderness, staying away from all but some of the Faerie folk. When they were certain they were alone, my sisters decided they would rather attempt to build their lives in the opposite direction of their flight, on the North American continent.

Look out for them. They are powerful beyond their age and will seek to be a great asset to the Legion. If they survive, perhaps. They are naïve and do not know as I do, to what extent others would have them, use them or destroy them.

Regent Sthulsennrrnd will eventually pursue us, myself more than the others. I now possess some of the essence of that foul Inquisitor and the Denizen of the gem, as well, and while these contacts may give me power I do not trust them, nor am I safe from them. I am not ready to confront those who abandoned me. Soon, though. I traveled to the North to find a place unreachable by Splugorth computers, machines, weapons and hunters. I may have found that place now.

This ruby gem is itself powerful and also part of a greater whole. During my incarceration I was able to glean small bits of information from its Denizen. There are several parts -- some of them gems, other parts housings for them and networks to link them. These pieces are scattered but I believe most if not all remaining pieces are in North America. There is portal access to Splynn somewhere in the center of the continent. Few know this or its location, which itself is fixed in Splynn yet travels on the Coalition side.

One final note. I believe the Inquisitor survived our escape. I did not see with my eyes; it is more a feeling of the essence of her power that trails me. It is why I am certain Lord S. will know I did not perish that day. I am connected to him and I am also certain I will see the Inquisitor again.

The Splugorth power is great and now they have another reason to trespass on Coalition and/or Legion soil. I would warn my sisters and spare you this if I could. Whatever the outcome, I believe my sisters and I will meet our destinies together, or at least in each others’ presence. I seek that they not meet their fates before I have my revenge.

I will be hiding for a time. It is my hope that I will meet you in person someday.

Sincerely,
4
Splugorth Agitator, Revenant



>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Bright green tentacles gently fold the parchment pages of the letter and place it back in its leather envelope. The envelope is tucked back into its place above the sun visor on the windscreen.

The 14-foot long snakelike creature at the controls taps the intercom and speaks in a resonant, booming, slow, deliberate voice,

“Skooohhde, reeeeverifffyyy our route, pleeeeease. I dooooohn’t remmmember these hillllls and I asked youuuu to recalibraaayte the nav systemmmn last niiightt, anywayyyy.”

(no reply)

“Skowhdde?”

What looks like 4 small boxcars float gently over the rough midwestern terrain. Atop the last of the cars, a Coalition skelebot dressed in Western apparel clings to a communications antenna.

A metallic voice answers.

“Sir, you did not specify which I was to attend to first, so I finished the detonators, then the fusion blocks, then the comm system and now I will reboot the navigation as you asked. You really should be more specific. As it is we should be coming across the border to Merctown within the hour. You requested to be away from the patrols, remember?”

“Aaaafterrr the last groooouuup that you blew up, youuuu meeeannn.”

“You said we had no more time to waste with them and they surely would have shared our location. You never stated that they needed to live.”

“Iiiiiye neeeed to look at yoouuuurr ethiccssss routiiiinne againnnn.”

“Whatever you say, boss. Alter course 2 degrees starboard. Er, right to 278.”

The bot crawls across the junction to the third car and clambers through the hatch. As the off-white, weathered, corrugated metal hatch closes, the words “The Square Deal” are clearly visible in smudged, black block printing across the door. The skelebot climbs down into what looks to be an open cargo container of various weapons and robot parts, hanging from different suspension rails, upper and lower torsos swaying along with the movement of the vehicle. Along the opposite wall, weapons and explosives of all shapes and sizes. Decorating a third wall, electronic devices; communication, sensors, targeting, cybernetics, and the like. The fourth wall has several tables bolted to the floor and the entire area is covered in barrels and bags of what look to be foodstuffs and provisions for wilderness travelers.

Skode sits down at the desk in front of the hatch and attends to the console wired to it. He taps at the keyboard for a few seconds and the monochrome green screen lights up, illuminating the worn, miscolored, white robot mask that should otherwise officially be blue titanium. One might notice this skelebot is made up of all different colored parts - grey, blue, desert camouflage, and even some black and unpainted silver. All images of skulls have been removed from its chassis, however.

“Coming into comm range now, Captain. Got some messages to send to you.”

“Fooorrrrr the last tiiiiyme, Iiiiyee am not a Caaaaaptaaan…”

“Uh, boss, you know that contact you were looking for? The important one? Well, we have a hit on that, it looks like. Something about a commotion at West Warrens Diner. The Greenskins and the Shadow Warriors…AND four individuals that match the descriptions we were given. Humans, but not quite. Ostentatiously dressed, loud, belligerent. And electrical malfunctions everywhere.”

“The Shadooowwws? (pause) Iiiyeemm heading arouuund baaack to the ouuwwtskirts. Suuuooot upp. Iyee wannnted some peeetza anywayyy.”

“I take it we’ll be opening tomorrow night instead?”

“Oooooaarrrr maybeee nott. Twoooo minutes.”

Plucking a belt of grenades from a hook by the door, tethering and strapping on a rifle and finally picking up a large rocket launcher, the skelebot whistles happily to himself and opens the hatch into the dusk. He jumps out of the vehicle at full speed before it has a chance to stop and rolls into a crouched position near the outer wall.

The Square Deal slides to a stop and powers down almost simultaneously. The driver’s hatch opens, releasing the Vernulian, who is now holding a large pistol in one tentacle, a full size techno-shield in another, while a third holds a scanner. A fourth appendage gestures to Skode and points.

“Juuust overrrr the wallll. Go now!”

“This is the fun part. Back in two shakes. Yippee kay-yay, motherfuckers!”

The skelebot vaults effortlessly over the wall from a crouched position. Almost immediately, the sounds of laser fire and explosions are heard. Flashes from lasers and other weapons light up the immediate area above the wall, accompanied by larger blasts from grenades. Bright, crackling white light simmers in the distance as many different voices shout at each other over the sounds of weapons fire.

The screech of an unleashed rocket and a giant explosion shake the reinforced walls. As the debris lands all around, a few screams give way to relative quiet.

About 20 seconds later, Skode’s voice pierces the veil of silence. “Boss! Heads up!”

A woman’s body is flung like a rag doll over the wall. The Vernulian quickly slithers into its path and snatches her around the waist, making her tumble to the ground much less painful than it would have been. Following the first, a second woman flies over the wall, though this one under her own control, with sparkling white energy controlling her descent to a gentle landing.

Skode appears at the top of the wall, carrying two more females, both of them writhing either in a struggle to free themselves or just discomfort in the way they are being handled.

“Come with me if you want to live, ya varmints,” Skode snaps, before jumping down to ground level and depositing the two young women at his feet.

“Youuu didnnnt haaave to destrooyyyyy…”

“Counterpoint. All the ones that needed to live in this scene are alive. Let’s go!”

The two girls on the ground look at each other and one shrugs to the other. They get up, shake themselves off and walk toward the cargo hauler. The woman landing near Tinker strides forward and begins to speak,

“Who are you and what-”

“Eyeiimm Tinker, aaand that isss Skode. We’re heeeer to rescue you. Get abooooard and 2, pleeeze turn offff yourrrr electricall fieeeelddd.”

The woman who had flown herself over the wall instinctively nods before realizing she had been addressed directly, then grabs the hand of 3 and pulls her toward the boxcars.

“Skooode, drive pleeze. Everyone else, inn heeere.”

While the bodies are loading, atop the wall, a human girded in EBA battle armor yells down through his open visor, “Hey! I know you, aren’t you…?”

His query and his face are cut short by a blast from the Vernulian’s starfire pistol. He falls rigidly backward off the wall.

As the hatch closes, the hover hauler is already levitating and turning off into the darkened outskirts.

Tink turns to his four new arrivals. “Iyeee can explaiiinnn more now, but yoouuuu fourrr have beeeen draawwwinnng attennntion too yoursellllvessz latelleee, haven’t youuu? Thaaaattt hasss too stopp.”

3, the woman clad in ornate but thin, green-hued metallic body armor speaks up, “Nothing we couldn’t handle, just like always. How do you know who we are?”

“Younnnggg laaaydeee, everyone heeere knowwss whoo youuuuuu are. You’re lucky weee found youuu firsssst. Orrr att leaaast seconnnnd.

“Weeeee haave a lot to talk aboooout.”

As The Square Deal glides quietly through the outskirts, a single orb-shaped pod stealthily powers up and swiftly pursues. Inside the pod an apelike humanoid creature speaks into his commlink.

“This is Trosk. I have them. Let’s discuss compensation in exchange for their whereabouts.”

The pod lifts high into the night.
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Lenok
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Re: Q3 2022 EP Contest: Lenok: The Adventure Starts

Post by Lenok »

The Following short story is based on Palladium's Heroes unlimited, Aliens Unlimited, and Armageddon unlimited.

Preface:

Imagine nothing, as hard as you try it is a hard to fathom the concept, having a mind empty of thoughts, eventually all of us, have thoughts flood our minds, but what about before you ever had a thought? What were your first thoughts? That is a very hard and impossible task for most to ever find out, let alone accomplish. I do remember mine, or remembered I should say.

Xorbia: chapter 1

Pushing against the confines of my surroundings, I detect some give, realizing this, it fills me with hope and I push harder. I hear a crack, and another, I push harder, and a chorus of crisp snaps and crunches ring in my ears, and then quicker than anticipated light pierces the darkness in stress cracks as the pieces of this strange jail crumble around me. I advance toward the light while questioning what is happening. I look around, and then down below, ~I'm purple, right? That doesn't seem right to me.~ Standing on four legs and swinging my head in a circular motion to see my environment, I am flooded with thoughts, which I know aren't my own. Flashes of images flood my mind, with scents and sounds of my current location, while remembering the same from other lands, these are memories, but they are not my memories. ~Mother, this is my Mother, I remember her!~

She's with a man, they're happy, ~Is that my father?~ They walk around a large body of fluid moving slow in one direction. ~A river, how do I know that?~ Some horses are on a little walkway behind them, tied to a tree. The couple sit around a stack of logs, on a blanket, and start kissing, she stops and says a few words, "Quartus Ignis Ficome".

A dancing light producing heat takes hold of the cylinders, ~That is wood, and the light is fire, how do I know that?~ They begin to lay down together talking and in each others arms, they fade from my sight.

I step forward and out of my small container, and look back, I see a egg shell, a large one, made of what appears to be a crystalline type of rock with green and purple streaks throughout the material. Just then I hear something inside my mind.

"Hello, my child, my hope is that you are seeing and hearing my moments before you were conceived, as do all my kin, as you are such." ~Is that her voice, or is it thoughts?~ this soothing to me, I relish in it as it continues, "The man you saw me with is your father. He is not like me or you, he is a human. I fell in love with a member of another species, and you are the byproduct of our love and union. By the time you are hatched, hundreds of years will have passed since that moment, you are a child of magic, old magic, but I fear you will, like many hybrids, not be able to access or use it yourself." ~Is that why everything seems confusing?~

"You were conceived during a time of low magic in the world and dimension during the time we were together. To give you a better chance at survival, I left your egg on a similar planet, in the same dimension you were conceived, in an environment where the inhabitants have a extremely large chance to develop other skills and abilities comparable to our species essence and aptitude for magic" ~Well, that seems logical, but emotionally cold hearted~. "If I am not present in three days I fear I am no longer in this realm or world of the living, whether that is of my choosing or not, I have lived thousands of years and at this time you are one of over a dozen children I have had, most likely the last at my time of conception was supposed to have already gone by. Normally a Chiang Ku, which is what I am, will get memories from both parents, but since your father was not of our race, let alone species, you will not get a full and complete ancestral memory, which maybe be considered a blessing or a curse, however you wish to perceive it as, not all memories are pleasant."

"Look for the dim yellow star that appears in the middle of this planet's two moons when they align together with its blue sun rising. That is the system of your father, his world is the third from their star. His family name is Tatsu, We chose the name Tatsu Ryu for you, but your Chiang Ku name will be Lenok, do not let others know it, there is power in knowing a name. Another of our kind is his ancestor, so we already knew it was possible for our union to bare offspring. I leave you with this information as you will not get his memories. With love and hope, till we meet in death."

Her image and voice fade from my mind. ~Lenok, I am Lenok, No, I am Tatsu Ryu, or is that Ryu Tatsu? Yellow star between the moons at sunrise, ok, but how do I get there?~

Going through his mother's memories, he tries to recall her form, and noticed his form looks vastly different from his own, both has 6 limbs, but two of his appear to be wings, but they feel like hands that are just stretched apart with webbed skin between his fingers, he moves his wings in a waving motion. A memory of hers appears in his mind complete with the sensation of flying and thrill at taking to the sky, he takes to it, not unlike a colt walking at birth or a fish swimming upon hatching, he notices whether his wings move or not he is still able to move through the sky, since his mother didn't have wings and could still fly he considers this a simple atavism.

His stomach growls, and the acknowledgement of needing to eat spurs him to put his aviation skills to work. He takes to the sky and finds a strange creature swinging from what one would guess, is a tree, but seems to be made of coral not wood, it seems to be hunting for food itself as it launches itself atop a smaller creature and starts devouring it. Starting a controlled decent upon the creature, he focuses on the being readying his hands to grab it up and a bolt of electricity sparks from his limbs connecting to both of the creatures, stunning them. He seems to recall his mother casting a spell similar to this, but it didn't emit from her body, but came from above, and he didn't chant any words like she did. He lands on the shocked and surprised critters, and devours them in just a few bites.

His hunger sated, he notices clouds high above where he was flying, and notices in the distance that it seems to be releasing rain, but as it gets closer he can hear something off, and where it hits the ground, fires seem to break out, whatever that is, it's flammable. Both the flora and fauna seem to not be bothered by the fire at all, they go on as if it is not a problem. Some creatures seem to be following the fire rain and they walk on two legs, they look similar to his father, but not, they seem to be interested in smaller creatures that are coming out of the ground as if to bask in the enchanting enigma of light and heat. ~Well, if it works for them, why not me.~

Knowing his mother appeared as human in the memory of his parents together, and seeing her true form when she left that message for him, he searches her memory of how she did so, and tries to focus on that memory. After a few moments he is able to mimic their shape, they seem to match his fathers body structure, but covered in fur and have oddly shaped heads, they seem to look like humans with dog heads, a few attempts later he is indistinguishable from them.

A few days pass and he waits for the blue star to rise above the horizon, while looking between the moons, as soon as the sun seems to rise, it very nearly highlights the very one his maternal parent described. ~Now what? How do I get there?~ He flies up to the air and is even able to leave under his own power the gravitational field of the planet, but he runs into a problem, he no longer as a atmosphere. He cannot breath, and starts to fall from passing out and being drawn back to the surface unconsciously.

He comes to on the ground in a bit of a crater and when he sits up he has changed color, he is a metallic silver and gray in color. At first he thinks he changed shape again, but he still feels the same, it's at that moment he realizes he has a protective covering that reactively came out when in danger. After some testing it seems to come out and can be controlled in whatever appearance he assumes. It's similar to what the two legged creatures were wearing a couple days ago, but not as colorful. Tatsu decides he can use this to try and intermingle with the strangers.

When it next rains again a few days later he sees more of the curious beings and approaches them. At first they seemed surprised to see another of their kind, but the feeling that it is because they are not normally out here as there seems to be why, after all no civilization has been found so far in this area. They try communicating with Lenok, but he is unable to respond, not knowing what they are saying or how to respond. He simply places his hand on his chest and points to where the star his father is from, should be, and draws a shelter with a being inside it, and again points up into the sky.

A few moments pass, and one of them step forward speaking slowly in a language Ryu can not fathom. He tries speaking his mother's tongue, which he does know, and one of the creatures responds. "You know the language of the sky isikhumba? You must be a Scholar of the Ancient times, but why do you not know Gomero? Are you not from Xorbia?" The others seem to be curious as to what is being said as they do not seem to understand the conversation. Lenok Tells the Gomerian his story, leaving out the one sided communication from his mother. Stating he needs to get home. After some time he agree's to go with his new acquaintances, not seeing or able to figure out another way off this space rock.

Months go by and he translates tome after tome of the ancients in exchange for aid. After helping solve some of their planets longest quarried questions about their past that was written in the original language, it was uncovered that there people differed from the majority of this planets life forms cause long ago their people came from a planet who had spawned sentience late in its life and a group of Sky isikhumba, or Ice Dragons in Dragonese, came to their rescue and brought them to this planet which is only a few million years into its life, his appearance seems similar to his ice brethren but some differences remain.

It seems this was a favored planet in the past hatching their offspring, and according to his mother's memories his fathers draconic ancestor may have been an ice dragon themselves, his father could change shapes not unlike himself, and had some invisible abilities on top of that. The Gomerian's themselves were not a space fairing race yet, but they weren't to far off, maybe in the next few decades, they will be able to make it to one of their moons, they had been working on it for some time, they had explored their oceans first making suits that allowed them to weather the pressure and lack of hydrogen and oxygen in the water, he also learned the reason it the rains seems to become flammable was the soil is very rich in sodium-potassium composition, so when the water hits it, it combusts. They gave him a suit, some patches and air tanks, and a sky bike. The sky bike is a anti-gravity transportation device that can reach fast speeds, and with little friction, they themselves could not protect the suits once they leave the atmosphere, Lenok suits up and activates his metallic shell, and protects the suit, they write this down in one last lesson taught, and he departs after thanking them for the supplies and equipment.

As Ryu Tatsu is reaching the end of the atmosphere, he thinks over his last few months since he was hatched, he has learned much about his self, his race, and made friends, discovered his parents chose this planet thoughtfully, and looks hopefully towards the adventures to come.

Back into the Darkness: chapter 2

Lenok has been riding the "sky bike" for a few weeks now, his food supplies are running low, and his search for planets and moons with water and other vessels have not bared much fruit. Of the few worlds and moons he found, hardly any had water, nor any food, but most had no supplies to speak of, primordial or dead, nothing in between, if not for the few comets abundance of ice he would had perished. The frigid void of space is helpful as it has been keeping the food ration supplies in edible condition and a plus side, no bacteria to decay them. Then it happened, he saw a ship, he pointed the sky bike at the ship, it had lights, but wasn't moving, he didn't know why, but he wasn't about to look a gift horse in the mouth.

As he approached, a bright light shoots from the front of the ship. Waking up in a strange place lately seems more odd than waking up on a hunk of metal he is strapped too, but that is what he just did. It doesn't matter if it's from sleep, from general anesthesia or, in my case, any weapon, or from the great beyond. The only reason he wasn't concerned is that he was awake. No headache, no tiredness or anything really. No, somehow, he had gone past all of the usual symptoms of groans and pains and is simply rested.

Lenok looked around aggravated while considering the latest set of events his life had seen fit to dump on him and sighed. Tatsu opened his mouth to yell hello, but then imagined, perhaps he has been captured by hostile entities. Realizing he isn't chained up, however he sits up and looks around the small room, medical equipment seemed to be around the room. He wonders if he is being watched then loudly ..."Is this a medical bay of some sort? Is anyone there? Where am I and why did you shoot me?"

Moments pass and then a door slide up and dark hued silhouette walks into the room, a gray furred feline female appearing humanoid approaches him, dressed in what seems to be pretty standard generic clothing. He says hello to the humanoid a few times, while the creature looks at him systematically, saying something unintelligible with each look down at the flat object in his hand, until finally "Do you understand me now?" ~Just how widespread are my race?~ Lenok nods his head.

"Oh good, we detected you hours ago and waited for you to catch up, you seemed to be in dire need of help as when we scanned you, your supplies seemed low and that transport you were on didn't seem like it was supposed to be an off world device"

"Well, it isn't, but I am doing what I can to get home, to Earth" Lenoks responded.

"I will guess that is near our destination as you seem to be going to the same coordinates, you said earth correct?" Lenok nods, then the creature looks to the item in their hands, fiddles with it, and then says, "Ah, yes, Earth, the life forms call themselves earthlings and humans, the local alpha centari database has information on them. If you help us out around the ship and at our stops during the voyage, you may traverse with us to your destination as we will be doing a flyby of it. Are these terms acceptable?"

The young Dragon responds with "Thank you, and Yes they are. What did you mean be "We" detected you though?" As two more beings entered the room. Looking over the two newcomers, one is similar in appearance to a human male, but has pointy ears, the other is a shorter, smaller stature, possibly female, it's hard to tell as it seemed to be covered in colorful feathers for the parts that are not covered in the same similar garb the other two are wearing, and a beak protrude from their face, not unlike a earth bird called a parrot.

Lenok, who still looks like a Gomerian, seems puzzled by their appearances. "I hope this doesn't seem rude, but what are you? You don't seem to be of the same race." The three crew members look at each other and then as the new arrival on their ship. "We have similar questions about you actually. You look like whom my people would call a Canis or Vulpese, or possibly a union of the two, but when we used our tractor beam on you it indicated you were much more dense and heavier than you should be." The male responds.

Lenok gives his answer some thought. "I am a union of two different races as you have guessed, but neither of those you have named are familiar to me, my natural form is much bigger and larger than this form, however, I have the ability to change my appearance to look like another race, but not mimic them. This is simply what the ones who found me and helped me get this far look like. They are an intelligent, inquisitive, and peaceful race of beings. I did not use this form to deceive you, as it was just easier to assume their size as I used their gift of my Anti-Gravity sky bike transport to traverse to my fathers planet, my homeworld, Earth."

The Feline speaks up "I am called Sashara, I am a Concol, my people hail from the Planet Col. The silent one is Camile, a Struthios, her planet is no more, sadly. You may run into them from time to time as the they are scattered among the stars these days. Lastly, our inquisitive friend Folen here is a Aluta from Rizza, this is an exploration vessel, and we sometimes act as a transport to pay for our expenses, as we are not a endorsed ship, we are just a group of curious minds looking for our own answers to the questions that grip us." With that the hybrid dragon is shown the ship and his duties, he will be performing while among them. It's a small ship, but could easily handle a crew of double currently. After the duties of the first day, he is shown his bunk, then rests after eating a modest meal with the crew.

The new normal" Chapter 3

Weeks have passed since Ryu met Sashara, Folen, and Camile. Camile slowly opened up to him eventually, she was wary of strangers due to how her home world and people were treated by a race of humans called Atorians, he learns of the atrocities they have done in the universe among the known galaxies to the crew. Today's task is to explore an asteroid they discovered with unusual readings.

The dragon took a step out of the shuttle door and onto the porous surface of the asteroid and shuttered. It was not due to the emptiness of space, but because he had no way of knowing what he would face on the space rock. A total of two hours on the asteroid was all he was given. That’s how long it would take for him to complete the task and return to the ship. He knew the mission, he knew what he had to do, but half of him wanted to remain in space. His journey to earth is easier, and faster, but he can't help feeling like it could be going quickly. No matter if he returned, it would take him years to get to earth, he knew that the chances were slim that his siblings or mother was still there, let alone alive. She had said she was older in years, and their kind lives a long time, but she wasn't there like she said she would be. He could not resist the temptation to hope for the best outcomes and push to make the journey. It would take five years to return back to earth as he has found out. The fact that he made it to this crew and was found, and rescued at that, was a miracle in and of itself.

A shadow flickered and his heart skipped. There was no life here, his readings showed no life signs. Taking a slow step forward, he turned his body and looked towards the sunlight gleaming through the darkness. He was the first to make it to the asteroid belt and the first to take samples of this alien rock beneath him. He had to do this mission quickly and return to the shuttle.

The astronaut took another moment to revel in the shadows of passing meteorites and smaller asteroids, The way they looked as they floated between him and the sun triggered a memory of his mothers to him of how the sun peeked through dark clouds and the streams of sunlight poured onto the ground. Ryu took in a deep breath off of the oxygen reserves before turning his back to the light to begin his task.

He grabbed a sample container and opened it. It made no sound as air escaped into the void; a dust particle floated up, catching the beam of sunlight just before the astronaut could no longer see it. It had taken him nearly seven months to get to this point. He liked being alone with his thoughts and mother's memories, if only there was a way he could stay just a little longer than the measly two hours he was allotted.

Looking back down at his task, he took his small shovel, and knelt down with the jar in his other hand. Resting the jar on the ground, he shoveled some of the dust into it and sealed it up with a click. One jar down, four more to go. He set the jar on the ground and picked up the empty one next to it. Still holding the small shovel in his hand, he made his way, slowly, towards the rock resting on the edge of a basketball sized crater. Ryu repeats the task three more times, changing craters between each dig, and after he is done, he flies up to overlook the rock and looks for anything significant, then returns to the ship's airlock, goes through the decontamination process and takes the samples into the lab.

Handing off his collected materials to Sashara and Folen, and begins watching them work. ~That is definitely an interesting line of work, I wonder what it's like to be able to search and discover the answers to your questions and gain knowledge that you earned on your own.~ Lost in shadowing the scientists, and thought, Ryu comes to and heads to the cockpit of the ship to visit Camile.

"Greetings Camile, anything new?" the hybrid asks. Shaking her head no, the avian humanoid responds simultaneously. "Nothing yet Ryu, just plotting our course for the planet we were heading too before that asteroid peaked Folen's curiosity." Sitting in the co-pilot seat, Ryu watches her pilot and stares off into the stars. "It's beautiful right?" the struthios seemingly asks aloud, but one could tell she wasn't looking for a answer, he nods in agreement. "I can see why some spend their whole lives out here, but no matter the beauty, one will always long for home eventually. " she says with a sigh, her demeanor suggests she is missing her native world that is lost to them, Lenok responds "And some of us long for a home we have yet to know with our own heart and eyes."

More days go by and they are approaching a planet devoid of sentient life that seems to be at the end of its cycle, and the crew wants to go down and get samples and see what natural elements they can acquire. Landing the ship a kilometer away from a meandering body of liquid, the crew set up and depart the ship while Camile is staying aboard.

As they step off the ship's platform, Lenok and Sashara Glide down to the surface, placing Folen gently on the surface as the lower him by his arms, and then proceed to explore. Ryu in front, playing protector, and Sashara and Folen in the 3 and 9 position to his 12, directing him where to go with their instruments. He follows the direction of the Senior members and hauling the equipment on his back as well. It's amazing how some portions of this planet look like earth, and others are as alien as can be, it reminds him at times of Gomera as well. Eventually they find a site with blue grass and wild flowers that seem to have a animal like predatory sense with some of the lesser life forms, something in the area trips a trigger on one of Sashara's devices to stop due to a dictating to Sashara is check it, she gives a gesture and they unpack, and start drilling, testing, and lookings at samples, three to 4 hours later they pack up, and move to a new location and the process repeats, this goes on for a few days, which leaves Ryu doing a lot of site to ship, and ship to site transporting for supplies, samples, and staff.

Days go by, not really sure if it is three days, or four, but none the less, it seems like a long period of time to one who has no skills to use in this situation, it bothers him that he is nearly useless during this excursion of the surface world, he tells himself he must do something about that when he gets a chance.

It is on one of the return trips to the ship where he is unloading more samples to keep the more brainy crew members busy for the next few weeks during the patch of void in space in the upcoming week, a distress alert comes over the crews built in communications on their suits. The beacon reads as if it is from Folen, a few seconds later Sashara's sends an alert too. Ryu doesn't know what is happening, but he recalls what they said to do in this situation, Camile is preparing the ship for take off and before she can verbally say anything he rips through the planet's weak atmosphere to the current site location a few miles out.

Ryu is a few hundred feet above the surface to glean a better view of what lies ahead of him, speeding in the last know location of his fellow crewmates. It is a few hundred meters away when he comes across a strange creature that he has seen before in his mother's memories but only once. The being has horns, not unlike his own in his natural state, but his red in hue, about twice the size and height of his crew, and his projecting beams and bolts of fire and some sort of energy. Ryu Tastsu stops for a moment in shock, it is a demon, his mother has memories of fighting them once, and it nearly killed her as she was weak, it was shortly after laying a egg of one of his siblings, He has never been in a fight, he doesn't know if he can even do it, but if his friends do not get help, they will surely die.

He witnesses Folen and Sashara hiding behind equipment, around a pit of what appears to be volcanic rock, and a red glow from what appears to be magma, some sort of headstone is at the top of the pit. It appears as if Folen has been hit, they apparently had discovered it's resting spot, or possibly a trap, in either case, they will not hold out long as the creature bellows in laughter in between launches of attacks, alternating between what looks like balls of fire and some dark, somewhat purple hue, energy balls and blasts ripping through the air in their direction, it doesn't even seem like it is trying to kill them fast, but is merely toying with them.

As suddenly as his fear gripped him, the memory of all his mother's friends that were not dragons dying, wakes him out of his stupor, followed by the realization of his chance of getting to earth is dwindling with every delayed moment. He grits his teeth and launches forward at the beastly creature, launching bolts of electricity at him, the first two blasts miss, but the following two connect, stunning the devil for a few moments with some damage, but gains his attention enough to focus on the hybrid instead. Lenok collides with the demon crashing into each other, he hit it hard, something sounded like it broke or cracked, unknown as to if it was himself or the evil entity trying to rid his friends of life.

The creature hits the Young Dragon with bolts of energy, the first erupts into flames on his face and chest, the second seemed to make him feel a different type of burning, he notices his environmental suit is dissolving. A second round of blasts come at him and Lenok puts his arms over his face in a defensive stand and suddenly silvery glints of metallic matter form around him, a covering of protective metal scales envelopes him, just as the attack connects. This seems to take the enemy by surprise as they stop attacking and stare at him in disbelief, taking advantage of this moment, He flies forward and connects again, and hits him even harder launching him into the air, and Lenok follows up with another attack flying past him and knocking him back to the surface, not unlike a hammer striking a nail.

After a moment of pause, the creature arises and places his hand through some sort of a portal, and draws out a weapon, it appears as a sharp melee weapon to somewhat, a sword if his mother's memory serves. Lenok attempts to do the same thing, but instead of a portal, his metallic protective scales on that arm grow and change shape to form a similar object itself. The Demon rushes him with its blade and swings repeatedly, Lenok is overwhelmed and the strikes that don't glance off his armor, chip away at his protective covering, but the occasional strike at the demon still gets through the barrage of attacks on the Demonic being. Out of anger and frustration, Lenok lets a loud roar erupt from deep inside of him, and the demon grips his head, holding it tightly as if in pain from the loud declaration at the agitation at the circumstance. In anger Lenok lets the facade of his image fade away, his size increases and the Demon looks up, and fear creeps across his face. Lenok in his Natural form increases the size of his weapon to match his new parameters and swings it down on the fiend, cleaving it in two.

Lenok scoops up his crew mates in his natural form, as they both seem frozen in terror from his appearance, and he shrivels in size back to the form they recognize him as, upon reaching the ship he is back to normal, but normal is not what occurs afterwards. Scared by his natural form, not recognizing it for any known species of Dragon across the known galaxies, they give him equipment and repair his sky bike to be more attuned to space travel due to saving their lives, and leave him to the dark depths of space again, in a confining bubble construct around the bike, he is again restrained, and alone, and his journey to earth is resumed.
Last edited by Lenok on Mon Nov 07, 2022 3:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Current Appearance: Height: 30' long, 15' tall, Weight: 8,000 lbs. Metal armored serpentine winged dragon / Horror factor: 17, could be confused for a Metallic dragon or possibly a giant robot made to look like a dragon. Picture available on character sheet.
Lenok
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