Science Fiction Microstory Contest discussion

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** MAY 2018 MICROSTORY CONTEST -- STORIES ONLY

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message 1: by Marianne (new)

Marianne (mariannegpetrino) | 401 comments The following rules are from Jot Russell, moderator for this contest:

To help polish our skills and present a flavour of our art to other members in the group, I am continuing this friendly contest for those who would like to participate. There is no money involved, but there is also no telling what a little recognition and respect might generate. The rules are simple:

1) The story needs to be your own work and should be posted on the goodreads (GR) Discussion board, which is a public group. You maintain responsibility and ownership of your work to do with as you please. You may withdraw your story at any time.

2) The stories must be 750 words or less.

3) The stories have to be science fiction, follow a specific theme and potentially include reference to items as requested by the prior month's contest winner.

4) You have until midnight EST on the 22nd day of the month to post your story to the GR Science Fiction Microstory Contest discussion. One story per author per month.

5) After, anyone from the LI Sci-Fi group or the GR Science Fiction Microstory Discussion group has until midnight EST of the 25th day of the month to send me a single private vote (via GR or to author.jotrussell@gmail.com) for a story other than their own. This vote will be made public once voting is closed. Voting is required. If you do not vote, your story will be disqualified from the contest. You don't need a qualifying story to cast a vote, but must offer the reason for your vote if you don’t have an entry.

6) To win, a story needs at least half of the votes, or be the only one left after excluding those with the fewest votes. Runoffs will be run each day until a winner is declared. Stories with vote totals that add up to at least half, discarding those with the fewest votes, will be carried forward to the next runoff election. Prior votes will be carried forward to support runoff stories. If you voted for a story that did not make it into the runoff, you need to vote again before midnight EST of that day. Only people who voted in the initial round may vote in the runoffs.

7) Please have all posts abide by the rules of GR and the LI Sci-Fi group.

8) For each month, there will be three discussion threads:
a) Stories - For the stories and the contest results only.
b) Comments - For discussions about the stories and contest. Constructive criticism is okay, but please avoid any spoilers about the stories or degrading comments directed towards any individuals. If you want to suggest a change to the contest, feel free to start a discussion about the idea before making a formal motion. If another member seconds a motion, a vote can be held. I will abstain from voting, but will require a strong two-thirds majority to override my veto.
c) Critiques - Each member can provide at most one critique per story, with a single rebuttal by the author to thank the critic and/or comment to offer the readers the mind set of the story to account for issues raised by the critique. Critiques should be of a professional and constructive manner. Feel free to describe elements that you do and don't like, as these help us gain a better perspective of our potential readers. Remarks deemed inflammatory or derogatory will be flagged and/or removed by the moderator.

9) The winner has THREE days after the start of the new month to make a copy of these rules and post a new contest thread using the theme/items of their choosing. Otherwise, I will post the new contest threads.

**********

Theme: Comedic Space Opera

Requires elements:

1) Pirates
2) A Beauty Pageant


message 2: by Karl (last edited May 01, 2018 06:45PM) (new)

Karl Freitag | 69 comments The Decision Maker

He overheard Captain Edwards and First Mate Hermis talking.

They thought he was asleep, but Admiral Black wasn’t dozing off. He was just relaxing with his eyes closed. People do that when they’re his age. Three days away from his 120th birthday, Admiral Black was the oldest active officer in Earth Fleet.

“Are you sure he can pull it off?” asked Hermis.

“If there's anyone who can it's Admiral Black,” responded Edwards. “He always makes the right decisions. Do you remember the time the pirate-bots ambushed us?”

“Sure do. We had one torpedo left and somehow Admiral Black picked out their command ship and shut them all down.”

“And remember the time we had to disarm that ancient alien device that would have destroyed everything within ten parsecs?”

“How did he know it was the yellow wire?”

“They say he has a gift. He knows things.”

“Well, he’s saved our bacon at least a dozen times. I guess he can do it once more.”

Admiral Black smiled. That’s how reputations are built. For many decades he had worked hard to make the men under him revere him as a legend.

But tonight he had a different kind of challenge.

Due to his reputation as somewhat of a galactic sage, the all-powerful Antecan Empire had insisted that Admiral Black become the first ever non-Antecan to judge their famous beauty pageant.

This will be a particularly difficult choice because all Antecans are identical. How does one pick a winner?

And how will the highly volatile Antecans react if he makes the wrong choice? They’ve destroyed entire solar systems for the most minor of perceived slights.

***

The seven identical Antecan Beauty Pageant finalists were brought out on stage and went through various poses and gyrations. Admiral Black scrutinized them closely, but couldn't find any feature distinguishing one from another.

Finally, it was time to select the winner.

The Admiral felt the enormous weight of the brittle accord between Earth Space and the Antecan Empire resting on his shoulders.

But, just as he had done in the past when he picked out the pirate-bot command ship from a proverbial haystack, and when he chose the yellow wire that saved nine inhabited worlds, Admiral Black confidently initiated the long-forgotten human decision-making process that had served him so well over his lengthy career.

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe...


message 3: by Chris (last edited May 15, 2018 10:50AM) (new)

Chris Nance | 456 comments More Than a Woman


“Ladies and gentlemen!” the emcee announced, twisting his curled mustache. “Finally, the moment you’ve been waiting for. This year’s winner of our Beautiful Bot Bonanza!” A dramatic pause then his arm swung wide. “...the last surviving synth of Relion Five!” The crowd cheered and he began to sing, “Isn’t she exquisite? Isn’t she top of the line? Her parts aren’t just fancy…”

“Is that her?” Sanchez whispered.

Tucked high into the shadows of the replicated Victorian theater, I peered through the electronoculars. She looked ridiculous in that gown. “That’s her, alright.”

“What the hell’s she wearing?”

“Told you they’d want to show her off, sell her parts to the highest bidder. Sick bastards.”

“You mean, like what I told you we should have done, when we found her?” He rolled onto his elbows. “I don’t understand you Captain, plenty of real girls out there – human woman. Hell, you could even get any Telaxian you’d like. I don’t get what you see in that machine.”

“You know damn well she’s more than that to me,” I scolded.

“I’m just sayin’, there’re lots of options out there.”

“Says the guy who stares at himself in the mirror for twenty minutes every morning.”

“Look at this face. Can you blame me?” he smirked.

In a way, he was right about Ellia. She was a synth, a biomechanical sentient - part organic, mostly artificial. But even from afar, her cybernetic eyes were captivating, though we certainly didn’t find her that way. We’d salvaged her fractured carapace from the ruins of her homeworld, and from the moment I installed a crude refurbished vocalizer, I knew she was something special. The kindness in her replies, the feeling in her regrets, the fact that she could accurately value stacked gold tektars on sight, were all more than factory-grade. Anyways, that was three years ago and, since then, each new job meant an upgrade. She meticulously selected humanoid components, I think to please me, and a few of them definitely did. I quickly discovered she had more passion in her electrosynapses than any other sentient I’d ever met. Sure, she could punch a hole clean through a duranium bulkhead, but that only added to her allure. Shame, her colony was caught in the crossfire, pummeled when the Bloviation Federation ambushed our armada, leaving Relion a smoking ruin. But those cowards were all talk, no walk…took off as soon as we shot back. “You ready?”

Sanchez nodded.

The crowd quieted and the emcee continued, “Ladies and gentlemen, let’s start the bidding at one million tektars!”

Virtual displays erupted with bids from all over the galaxy, more money than I’d ever seen. Then, Sanchez dropped the bomb. Tumbling end over end, it exploded above the crowd, a bioelectric pulse paralyzing every attendee and all tech instantly. It also had the unfortunate side-effect of causing complete loss of bowel control, making for a predictably uncomfortable stroll through the crowd. “Five minutes,” Sanchez explained, already over the side, down the riggings to the floor.

“About damn time!” Ellia exclaimed when we finally removed her restraints. She pulled me in and kissed me softly.

“Break it up you two,” Sanchez checked his antiquated pocket-watch. “Three minutes.”

“Right.” She went to work immediately, hacking the auction’s firewall and downloading what we came for.

“Sixty seconds.”

“Hold on!” she focused.

“Thirty seconds!”

“You’re killing me, Sanchez! Okay, got it!”

The room jumped back to life, security drones storming the crowd as terrified elites began to flee. We bolted through a nearby exit, into a lengthy side-corridor. Tossing an electronic snare, the charge caught the first few guards, but the rest kept coming. All the while, we returned fire, not really hitting anything but creating enough mayhem. Up ahead, the transparasteel of an old Victorian window separated our compartment from the vacuum of space. I grasped Ellia’s hand and hit the charges we’d set. The wall exploded, sucking us out into space and engaging our environmental shields.

In a burst, the Cursed Doubloon erupted from jump-space, our momentum carrying us cleanly into the ship’s waiting cargo hold. We hit the grav-decking hard. “See," I chuckled, pulse racing, “piece of cake.”

“And our haul?” Sanchez wondered, the crew beginning to gather.

Ellia grinned proudly, the virtual balance appearing over her open palm. “Nearly 500 billion tektars.”

They cheered and I kissed her deeply, sensing the victory in her lips. Then, Sanchez slapped me on the arm, celebrating, “I guess you were right, Captain! She’s a keeper!”


message 4: by C. (last edited May 06, 2018 08:54AM) (new)

C. Lloyd Preville (clpreville) | 736 comments A Big Night Out by C. Lloyd Preville
Copyright © 2018
(730 words)

Dave quaffed blood wine from the heavy jeweled goblet.

“You Klingons sure know how to have a good time!” He glanced around the garish interior of the Hero’s Bar, typical of loud clubs on the Klingon home world of Kronos, where locals celebrated their victories and honored their guests.

“You are not a bad sort, Human Dave!” Krang, the brawny Klingon to his left wearing formal negotiator armor, shouted over the music as he clapped Dave painfully across the back. His other companion, an equally large Klingon on his right in similar garb, was busily drinking wine.

“I thank you for your expert handling of our antimatter injector proposal, Krang. You and Sak’na here both conducted our business with honor.” Dave had learned to lay it on thick with the Klingons.

Sak’na finished the last of the blood wine, wiped his mouth ear-to-ear and grinned, slamming his heavy metal chalice onto the table. “You too, human Dave, handled your end honorably. It is a welcome pleasure to find such a business associate among humans.”

While Dave and his two boisterous hosts celebrated their large transaction, the club proprietor introduced a series of floor shows, waving a double bladed knife around for effect. There was a skilled re-enactment of Klingon pirates boarding a helpless cargo liner, dragging out the females who cowered in mock terror. Then, there was a staged Klingon Beauty Pageant, featuring the most attractive of the house entourage of strippers. Dave thought the winner, a tall and curvaceous Klingon female named Kat’al, was cute.

By this time, Dave was well drunk, and when he mentioned he liked Kat’al, his Klingon business pals surreptitiously arranged for him to meet her. She came over to the table later and all three men jumped to their feet, the Klingons grinning knowingly at each other as they introduced Dave, their honorable human friend. She smiled intensely into Dave’s eyes, took his hand, and walked away with him in tow.

Kat'al led him through the rowdy crowd to a private room in the rear of the crumbling building and announced he was to receive a most memorable Klingon treat; an extremely personal service she described politely as a “Hero’s Reward.”

With a predatory smile, she asked if Dave wanted a regular Hero’s Reward or might he prefer the Deluxe Hero’s Reward for only 200 credits more. Dave agreed to the Deluxe Reward, since a large commission check was burning a hole in his pocket and he was well under the influence of the blood wine by this time.

Kat’al seated him at a small round cocktail table, and smiled at him haughtily. Then with a graceful and practiced curtsy, she slipped completely under the table. He felt her fumble around his fancy business suit tailoring, and then Dave suddenly discovered why Klingon women were so highly regarded around the quadrant even though, by human standards, they were a bit intimidating.

Now well into his novel cultural adventure, Dave was shocked to hear Kat’al break into song, apparently a rendition of a popular Klingon opera. How was this possible, while she was so clearly otherwise occupied? Astounded, he attempted a peek under the table. Kat’al stopped singing and yelled at him not to peek, since a Deluxe Hero’s Reward included this top-secret musical dividend.

A bit more time transpired, and they conclude their business. Dave left through the back door exhausted, more than ready to sleep off his blood wine hangover.

The next day, he couldn’t stop thinking about Kat’al somehow delivering two entirely incompatible services. He showed up again at the club that night and asked Kat’al for another Deluxe Hero’s Reward, hoping to unravel the secret.

Kat’al still wouldn’t let him peek. Her skills were amazingly creative and inspired--not to mention thorough--while at the same time she hit every note, her lovely singing voice clear and strong.

He attempted once again to peek, but she still wouldn’t let him. This time, he objected.

“Kat’al, you are beautiful and remarkably talented, but I must know your secret! How are you able to perform such a personal miracle for me while at the same time bursting into song? At least give me a clue!”

Kat’al kept singing, but stopped her ministrations. One closed hand peaked above the tabletop, turned and opened, and there cradled in her palm was a single glass eye.


message 5: by Jot (new)

Jot Russell | 1278 comments Mod
The Day of Drag
©2018 by Jot Russell

The outer crew-ring on Virginia-7 was decorated like the runway at a fashion show. Just as 4/20 had been celebrated as a farmers’ contest on the asteroid tug vessels, the tradition of 3/31 on Ceres Station was now dubbed, The Day of Drag.

The packed crowd irked on the couple as they remove their clothes behind a screen that only displayed their shadowy silhouette to the on-watchers. In profile, the image showed the slight drop of Rachel’s breasts after she released the strap. Gerard pulled off his underpants, whose exchange counted extra in the contest, and handed them with the rest of his clothes over to his girlfriend. He stood there naked for only a moment, with his manhood hidden from the profile of his muscular legs and the black/white nature of the image, but out of spontaneity, he jumped face first with a dangle and shook his hips before jumping back.

The crowd roared!

Gerard managed, just barely, to strap Rachel’s bra across his broad chest and worked the rest of her clothes up and down around him. With just seconds to spare, they walked out and the intro music started up. Racheal held up the loose clothes to her, while Gerard paraded out with the summer-style dress and only four of his toes making it into each high-heel shoe.

“Dang Gerard, you look hot!” Laughed his friend Tom.

Tom’s girlfriend, Jill, screamed, “Whoo!”

**

The light crew on Ceres-1 monitored the contest remotely as the proximity alert sounded.

“What the hell is that?”

“I don’t see anything. Check the radar.”

“Holy shit! It’s headed right for us!”

**

Gerard stumbled over another step as the alarm blasted.

“ASTEROID IMPACT IMMINANT! ALL TUGS, EMERGENCY LAUNCH!”

Gerard looked at Tom only a moment, before kicking off his heels and pushing people aside from a command station. Tom jumped in next to him and signed into the console.

Gerard yelled out, “CLEAR THE HATCHES!”

Tom prepared the engines and waited for the nod from his navigator.

With a point of a finger from his friend, Tom hit the engines to max. With the force pushing them up at 1/2g, the vessel reduced its gravitational rotation and automatically shifted the crew-ring floor orientation down to keep a steady footing for those who came along for the unexpected ride.

As they cleared the horizon, a dark hole in the stars turned into the faint reflection off the impending, stadium-sized rock. Gerard screamed, “Fuck! It’s coming in too fast. We’re not gonna clear the impact cloud.”

Tom turned the vessel straight toward the rock.

“What the hell are you doing? We can’t stop that thing!”

Tom remarked, “Trust me.”

“Blowing a hole in it isn’t gonna stop it.”

Tom ignored the protest and rode them straight toward the center of the rock at full throttle. “EVERYONE HOLD ON!”

As he reached only a couple hundred meters away, he kicked the engines into full reverse. The vessel’s ion engines blew dust off the surface of the quickly approaching rock, but did little to adjust its velocity toward the doomed station of tug vessels and crews. Virginia-7’s velocity slowed with its approach, “20..15..10.. meters a second,” stated Gerard.

They came in at 4m/s as the vessel struck the surface. Tom managed to cycle the engines to full-forward before getting thrown from his seat by the impact.

Gerard had strapped in a gave a report. “Engines at full. Asteroid slowing. It’s not going to be enough…Wait, here comes another tug!”

Norway-4 hit the surface hard, but also managed to cycle their engines and double the thrust against the rock.

**

The asteroid flew past the station, but sliced across Ceres, spewing rock and water-ice off its surface.

Toreek watched in anger at his thwarted attack against the Mars Terraform Project. From the console of his hijacked tug, he cursed, “Go ahead, crash your rocks into Mars. Let’s see how the world unites after I cut it in half. God is great!”

**

Gerard asked, “Rogue asteroid?”

“More like a rogue tug. Look, there’s a dust trail off Eros, and its orbit is falling in…In toward Earth!”

**

Toreek knelt in prayer as the small, car-sized rock smashed through the hull of his pirated vessel and erupted it into flames.

Tom remarked, “Nice shot Gerard.”

Gerard checked the scope. “Eros’ path was not completely set. Earth is safe!”

“Safe from you and that dress, you mean.”

“I thought you said I looked hot.”

“Keep dreaming, Jerky!”


message 6: by Tom (last edited May 16, 2018 04:23PM) (new)

Tom Olbert | 1099 comments THE BIG SCORE
By Tom Olbert

The Crooked Cutlass closed on the colonial freighter, the two star ships exchanging broadsides, laser turrets blasting a blazing white/blue cascade against the star fields.

Klaus Decker howled wildly as he led the attack in his EVA pod. He fired at will, his lasers cutting a swath straight through the freighter’s on-coming robot defense units. “The booty’s all ours, lads!” he cried through his radio link. “All raiders…”

“Take your pill,” a grating, high-pitched voice stabbed into his brain. “Take your pill.” The battle and the cargo ship dissolved into nothingness as he found himself on the bunk in his quarters, the annoying squawk of his robo-parrot having awakened him. “Take your pill,” the bothersome little mech bird chirped from its perch, its bright red wings flapping.

“Shut up!” he shouted in a hoarse voice, throwing a boot at the despicable feathered piece of tin, knocking it off its perch with a ring of metal. He grumbled and swore as he dragged himself out of bed. Oh, how he missed the good old days, when the spiral arm was a wild, lawless frontier, inter-system ore and fuel transports easy pickings. He sighed. Those days were gone, along with his youth and his liver. Oh, what he wouldn’t give for one last big score…

“Captain!” The damned, scratchy intercom startled Klaus out of his reverie.

“What is it, Sharkey?” he demanded, recognizing the nasal twang of his grubby first mate.

“Contact off starboard, Captain. Looks like a commercial transport.”

#

Klaus hurried to the bridge, pulling on his tattered uniform jacket, his trousers half-tucked into his shoddy boots. The transport vessel filled the viewport as they came up along-side. Her hull was a dingy mass of meteor scars. Across the prow, a faded painting of an alluring, naked wench in a giant oyster shell. Beside that, the name Aphrodite. “Prepare a boarding party, Mr. Sharkey,” Klaus ordered.

#

There was a whoosh of venting atmo as the airlock opened and Klaus led his men into the greasy, stagnant hold of the dilapidated tub. In the dimly lit engineering section, they found a poker game going on. A motley assortment of alien renegades. Bulbous eyes on stalks, claws clicking, antennae quivering. A fat, middle-aged woman sat among them, staring at her cards and smoking a cigar. Close-cropped black hair, a heart-shaped tattoo on her sagging muscular arm. She seemed not even to notice the boarding party. “Kaitlin O’Roarke,” Klaus said in recognition, smiling a crooked smile. “You’ve just been boarded.”

“Do you mind, Klaus? I’m in the middle of a hand.” A hand she lost. She swore as her chortling alien opponent raked in the chips with its pseudo-pods, its many snake-like mouths drooling green spit. “Just try bluffing an Arcturan.”

“Cargo manifest, Kate,” Klaus said impatiently, tapping the muzzle of his laser gun against the table. She handed him the outdated computer pad, and he brought up the data. His jaw nearly hit the deck as he saw how much fuel the Aphrodite was carrying. Enough for him to retire a rich man to the colonies. His brain crackled ecstatically. He’d died and gone to Heaven.

“Captain…” Sharkey said, holding up his hand-scanner. “I’m getting multiple human life readings.”

Klaus grinned. Illegal Earth-side refugees he could turn in for bounty, perhaps? “Let’s see your passengers, Kate.”

O’Roarke sighed as she clicked a remote, dropping the optical light screen behind her. Klaus stared aghast, his men howling and cheering at the sight of a bevy of curvy, lovely young ladies in gowns and heels, reclining on soft cushioned furniture in the passenger lounge. “Kaitlin…You started a side line?”

“Hell, no! Simple passenger transport. I’m shipping them to a beauty pageant on the Deneb-III colony, that’s all.”

Klaus smiled ear-to-ear, Sharkey and the lads drooling a puddle. He’d definitely died and gone to Heaven.

#

As the Aphrodite docked at the pleasure station orbiting Rigel, Kaitlin’s crewmen were whooping up a storm. She smiled broadly as she counted her money. It had worked like a charm. Bless Klaus Decker and his predictable stupidity. Granted, her Earth-side clients had paid through the nose in parting with that fuel. To say nothing of the hefty fees they’d paid Kaitlin for those illegal nano-surgery treatments and pheromone enhancements to make their daughters irresistible to men. But, it would be worth it, with rich sons-in-law, colonial anchor babies and extended family immigration transfers in the works.

She lit a cigar.


message 7: by Jack (last edited May 14, 2018 09:38PM) (new)

Jack McDaniel | 248 comments A MATTER OF PRINCIPLE
By Jack McDaniel

The concierge, or, at the very least, the bum on the street, should have told her the End Of All Things had been cancelled. She’d waited days at the hotel. The Universe, she’d learned, with its morose sense of humor, had shrugged, rolled its eyes at the insignificant, blue-green detritus hanging on the edge of one of its ordinary galaxies, and decided it would be a waste of energy. Besides, no one who mattered would be around to watch. It was a backwater and under-developed galaxy with only a few things of note in it, like Phoebe Cates and the three-headed Trondor Labilium. But it wasn't certain what a three-headed Labilium was anymore, or where Trondor was located. Phoebe Cates, of course, was a prize. But the Universe couldn't remember which planet she resided on—it had been so long since it had seen anything from her. But it was fairly certain this was the galaxy and decided to skip past, cancelling the End Of All Things, just in case. It moved on to a neighboring galaxy where important decisions were to be made regarding a few messy but interesting life-things that had coagulated in the quantum realm.

The concierge had protested, saying he knew nothing of an End Of All Things—liar. The bum on the street, however, had been truthful, mostly because he was drunk and his resistance was lowered, but also because he, too, had been waiting for the End Of All Things and was pissed at the cancellation. He was tired of living in the same galaxy as a three-headed Trondor Labilium. For the bum, it was a matter of principle.

So she sat there on the deserted beach and watched as the sun melted and the stars peeped out to mock her. Now, because the Universe had been so dismissive, she was forced to think about the future, her future, which shouldn't have existed, but there you go. As everyone knows, things are relative. Just when you thought you had things figured out something mucked it up.

* * *

While she contemplated the End Of All Things that never came, the skies went completely dark and the stars woke up and yawned, bored by their place in the universe and the fact that they had to spend so much subjective time in a crappy, middling galaxy without much in the way of entertainment. Several systems had talked of going rogue, but nothing ever resulted, just a bunch of bravado.

Alpha Centauri—of course Alpha Centauri—sent a galactic-wide sub-space message suggesting they all go supernova in defiance. But it was Alpha Centauri: All but the fringe elements ignored the message. The inner galactic group complained that their voice wasn’t being heard on the matter, which was true. But they lived too close to a massive black hole and no one trusted the likes of them.

Then the novel idea of asking the three-headed Trondor Labilium for its opinion was put forward. Betelgeuse noted that he hadn’t been heard from for two galactic revolutions, but the idea took hold and a few enterprising journalists hunted him down.

“Tell us,” asked one of the well-known galactic personalities, “how do you feel about the cancellation of the End Of All Things?”

“What does my opinion matter?” He answered, irritated and gruff. “Go ask Phoebe Cates.” He smiled. “What? You don’t ever pirate movies?” Then he turned and stomped back the way he had come.

Two journalists asked, “Who?” They lived on the far side of the galaxy from Phoebe Cates and she had just been introduced there.

“She’s the one in the pirate movie,” offered a third.

“No, you idiots, she’s the beauty queen. She’s Miss Galaxy.”

Another shook his head vigorously, “You’re wrong. That was Chuck Norris.”

“Anyone know where she lives?”

“Planet in the boonies.”

“Earth? We better get goin’.”

* * *


While contemplating her future one of the stars moved, maybe a meteor or comet, she thought, but they don’t usually make smooth landings on anti-grav engines at the ocean’s edge. Two journalists exited the ship and approached her.

“Excuse us, we need to find Phoebe Cates?”

“Why?”

“She’s the reason the End Of All Things was cancelled!”

“What are you people? On dope?”

Phoebe Cates had mucked up the End Of All Things. That was wrong in a non-relative manner. She needed to have a word with the Universe. Now it was a matter of principle.


message 8: by Justin (new)

Justin Sewall | 1046 comments Pirates of the Malleteans

Captain Julian Esperanto sat on the bridge of the garbage scow S.S. Lamprey. The dim lighting matched his melancholy as he thought about the dead end his career had taken. Once a promising graduate of the Fleet Academy, he had watched helplessly as opportunity deserted him like a faithless lover. Now he was stuck hauling toxic waste between Vella Prime and its colonies in an obsolete transport. He slouched further down into his tattered seat and took a short pull from his tarnished Academy flask.

“Status Mr. Munoz.”

“Aye Captain. We are on course for Vella La Vella. ETA 1420 hours local time. The traffic pattern is clear, no other ships detected.”

“Right,” said Esperanto, dribbling slightly. “Our sensors couldn’t detect an asteroid directly in front of us – but thank you. Engineering?”

“Yes Skipper. All drive systems are nominal, but the starboard engine pylon needs an overhaul after we land.”

“Again? I thought you fixed that.”

“Yes sir, I did. But if I may remind the Captain…”

“No you may not. Contact the yardmaster and make sure everything is waiting for us. I don’t want to spend any longer dirtside than necessary.”

“Yes Captain, right away.”

Mr. Munoz shared a look with the engineer. No shore leave – again!!

***

The Vella Prime beauty pageant was the most widely attended event of its kind in the quadrant. Lovely males, females and various transgendered species came from near and far to compete for fame and lucrative modeling contracts. Broadcast rights alone were worth quintillions to whichever network was lucky enough to win them, easily offsetting the cost of any bribes.

Unfortunately, this concentration of perfect beauties raised the ire, irritation and wrath of the Malleteans – sworn blood enemies of the Vellans. Despite the best efforts of the Vellan Navy, Malletean marauders, malcontents and corsairs of every stripe descended on the shipping lanes between Vella Prime and her outworld colonies to prey upon the ships transporting starry-eyed contestants. The same lanes travelled by the luckless S.S. Lamprey.

***

“Captain.”

“Hmph?” Esperanto felt the warmth of a comfortable buzz coming on. Wonderful stuff that Vellan absinth…

“Captain!”

Esperanto bolted upright. “What?!”

“We’re picking up a distress call. It’s the Vellan luxury liner Transcendent Bliss. She’s under attack.”

“Give me details.”

“Hard to say sir at this range, but it sounds like…”

“Spit it out man!”

“It’s the Pirates of the Malleteans!”

Esperanto stood up, swaying ever so slightly. This was it! This was his chance! A plan formed in his absinth addled head.

“Mr. Munoz, plot an intercept course. Flank speed. Go to 110 percent on the reactor.”

“Captain?! But, but… the starboard pylon.”

“Damn the pylon and flank speed ahead! Battle stations! Charge all weapons!”

“Asteroid removal cannon energized Captain,” reported the engineer meekly.

Mr. Munoz, Comms and the engineer all shook their heads: They were going to die without any shore leave.

***
The malevolent Malleteans herded their captured bevy of beauties towards the Transcendent’s dorsal airlock. They traded crude barbs, and made even cruder remarks at the expense of their sobbing captives, unaware of the toxic mess hurdling towards them.

Suddenly, a flash of light flooded the Transcendent’s view ports as the S.S. Lamprey exited hyperspace directly off their port bow.

“A rescue ship!” cheered one green-skinned woman.

“Bah! That’s just a garbage scow!” retorted the Malletean captain in disdain. His opinion of the interloper was confirmed as blasts from its asteroid cannon bounced harmlessly off his own raider’s hull.

“Get this bounty of booties onto the ship men! Now!” He fired his plasma pistol over their heads to motivate them.

While the Malletean captain was distracted with his pretty prizes, he failed to see the S.S. Lamprey live up to its name. The ugly ship attached itself to the raider’s hull, penetrated its aft airlock and proceeded to release millions of liters of toxic waste into its engine bay.

“My ship!” The Malletean roared. “Back to the ship!” Their tentacles waving furiously, the pirates scurried back to their now contaminated raider and its deadly parasite. After attempting to enter hyperspace, their entire ship exploded as the Lamprey’s starboard engine pylon failed catastrophically.

Captain Esperanto and his crew exited their cramped escape pod through a different airlock and were greeted by the beautiful green-skinned woman.

“Thank you for saving us Captain,” she said warmly. “Would you and your crew like to join us for the remainder of our journey?”

The crew of the former S.S. Lamprey shouted in unison, “Shore leave!!”

(750 words in story) Justin Sewall © 2018
Reviews/critiques welcome


message 9: by Kalifer (last edited May 17, 2018 11:22AM) (new)

Kalifer Deil | 353 comments Belorko © 2018 Kalifer Deil

High Commissioner Belorko of the High Council, in his silk pajamas, imprinted with his own once youthful likeness repeated throughout, tweeted, “I proclaim, I am The Master of the Universe!” He was known for his outlandish tweets . The Galactic News Network (GNN) was on the spot spreading this pronouncement instantly via subspace communication from the core to the rim of the galaxy. To reporter Tom Twitch's consternation there was hardly any reaction. The inured public shook their heads in unison creating an undetectable gravitational ripple in the space-time continuum. Tom immediately took to the mic, “When is Belorko going to proclaim he is God?”

Tom was a regular figure on GNN. His pungent responses to HC Belorko were a source of humor to the man on the spaceway but nothing more. Tom felt something had to be done and an idea quickly spawned in his mind.

“Come one come all, would be pirates, we are staging a Pirates 'beauty' contest. You will be graded on your garb, your obsession, your fierceness of expression, your warts and blemishes, and body appendages.”

That was it; no prizes posted; just reply @GNN:TomT.

Tom thought he would get perhaps a few dozen responses but, instead, received a flood of millions. This was going to keep Cybele, his gorgeous robotic companion busy for a day or so. Tom wanted to make sure the acting pirates had the means to travel and a strong dislike of Belorko. Tom spent several hours agonizing over the vids of the final one-hundred applicants and finally announced that they were all winners, they being equally fierce, imposing, ugly and in character.

A special GNN slot was created called Pirates of the Galaxy featuring their interviews and audition vids. It was an instant hit with over a trillion viewers and the pirates proceeded to make fun of Belorko by putting his surrogate through keelhauling, walking the plank or losing a sword fight by accidentally stabbing himself.

Belorko tweeted copious times that his surrogate was a bad actor whose career was terminal, that he didn't look or act like him, and that the actor was overweight. Of course everyone knew the complete opposite to be true. In order to bolster his image, Belorko decided to do what he always did in such instances. He scheduled a rally with his sycophantic supporters. This time in a public gathering place.

“Ah ha!” Yelled Tom in glee, “GNN pirates should join the party!” The rallying cry was sent out to the GNN pirates. They showed up with a huge collection of homemade signs. Typical were “Belorko the Clown” and “Belorko the Inadequate” to the slightly profane, “Belorko feeds us Shit” and “Belorko, Master Ass and Mass Disaster.”

The Belorko rabble of supporters started a shouting war with the pirates and even though the pirates were outnumbered one-hundred to one they held their ground and seemingly frightened the supporters a bit and Belorko a lot. He ordered the military to eliminate the pirates. They did with dispatch, firing at will, killing most of them.

All the networks were there to witness the carnage and reporters that got in the way were summarily shot as well. Tom, slumped on his desk, tear flooded eyes blinded in grief, cried, “Those poor bastards got slaughtered on my account!” His vision blurred he could see Cybele still and quiet, hinting sadness.
Suddenly his office door opened with a rush of air and five men in military uniform poured in. “Martial law has been declared and you will come with us or be shot on the spot.” To make a point they fired five shots into Cybele. Tom didn't resist.
As Tom entered the military truck, he saw his boss, Bill Watson and others who were taken.
“Don't worry!” Bill reassured Tom, “I'm in contact with Cybele via my cochlear implant.”
“Cybele is dead!”
“Tom, you don't understand. Cybele is everywhere in the Galaxy and controls the machinery of civilization.”
Just then the back of the truck opened and a sergeant announced, “You are all free to go!”
Tom looked at Bill, “What just happened?”
Well, we ended up with God, but Cybele instead of Belorko. Belorko was shot and the High Council disbanded.
“Who shot Belorko?”
“A stray military bullet, they say.”
“Is Cybele temporarily in charge?”
“Permanently! Democracy has failed!”
“What will happen to us?”
“God, … Cybele says she loves you!”


message 10: by Marianne (new)

Marianne (mariannegpetrino) | 401 comments Jolly

Captain Fiona sipped her steaming cup of tea with the relish of one who had done her job well, and, murmured, “A superb blend; earthy, yet chaste.”

First Mate Quacklestein reported, “The Miximix have readjusted to their correct atmospheric parameters, Captain. They can disembark on Rialto 20 upon arrival. Additional chambers will be waiting. Their ambassador wishes to thank you personally for gaining their freedom at so little ... cost. Ban’der’shi says – ”

“Quack! Don’t you ever take a moment to savor victory?”

“But, Captain, I– ”

Captain Fiona rose majestically. She slowly uncoiled her serpentine body and stretched her long green arms. “My little android, what a drudge.” She flicked her tail, and towering over her First Mate, tapped her playfully, eliciting a ping of delight. “This crew needs a vacation! Or a distraction. Got any other raids we can go on? A little war that needs ending? A treasure to steal back? We are, after all, the Discerning Pirates of Draxa! May the list of our clients grow ever longer!”

Stirred by the phrase, First Mate Quacklestein put her plumed pirate hat over her flat chest, and launched into their anthem, her reedy soprano making the heating tiles above the Captain’s bed of rock vibrate. “Where there is trouble, on the double, in our space galleon Bubbles, we --”

“Quack!”

“Yes, yes, Captain, I know.” She shrugged sheepishly. “I get carried away with the good that we do.” She returned her hat at an artful tilt upon her smooth titanium head and gave her embroidered eye patch, a decorative affectation, a tug.

Captain Fiona hissed laughingly, her scarlet tongue flicking. “You forget, we do managed to get well paid thanks to Yeoman Shivareen’s, ah, mental nudging. We aren’t Pulsar Princesses, now are we. Profit does matter, even if we are on the right side of the galactic equation.”

“Well, there was that one incident on Elsinor 15.”

“Never mention Elsinor 15!” Captain Fiona roared. The rattles on her tail sent out sonic waves that left the First Mate clutching her ears and quivering.

“Sorry,” she squeaked. “Yes, they were...in the wrong...eventually.”

“Captain,” Yeoman Shivareen, a luminous cloud of rainbow gases, announced, having seeped into the chamber with a flourish of sitar music and a clash of cymbals, her signature entrance.

“Yes, my darling cloud, what is it.”

“Our shore leave!” she exclaimed. From within her rippling, constantly changing form emerged a colorful handbill. We should enter!”

Captain Fiona scanned the paper and smiled, fangs glinting with Yeoman Shivareen’s light. “Yes, Rialto 20 loves a good show. Sign up all the gals on board who want to compete.”

Shivareen swirled around the room, little zaps of lightning bouncing off the tiles. There was much to recommend in a pirate with instantaneous access to every mind and device on the spaceship. “Done!” she sang with triumph as her form darkened with fatigue. She condensed into a grey humanoid shape.

A few hours in the atmospheric chambers with the Miximix should help her regain her strength, thought Fiona, pleased. Unless, she chooses the other way.... The communication band on her wrist suddenly chirped. “Ah, a note from the constabulary, Yeoman Shivareen. Probably our beauty pageant numbers and license. I intend to sing the drinking song from La Traviata and wear my silks for the talent competition.”

The green scales on her body changed to vermilion as she read the message. “Inexcusable!!”

“What!’ cried her crew members in unison.

“This beauty pageant is off-limits to us!”

“Because none of us is human?” First Mate Quacklestein suggested.

Captain Fiona’s scales went black. “No! Because we are socially unacceptable!”

“An all female crew with few boundaries?” offered Yeoman Shivareen.

“No! Because we are pirates!”

“But we are loved! ” exclaimed First Mate Quacklestein, shocked.

“This insult shall not pass!” Captain Fiona declared.

“Remember the lesson of Elsinor 15!” pleaded the First Mate, recovering her composure.

“Oh, all right, but propriety and property be damned!” Captain Fiona reached for Yeoman Shivareen’s “shoulders”, and murmured, “Help me, my dearest one. Feed and act on my desires.”

Yeoman Shivareen shifted back into amorphous cloud. She filled with the violet energy that poured from her Captain, who reluctantly released her with an orgasmic gasp.

“Now!” Captain Fiona commanded, her reptilian heart pumped for action. “We board!”

The room went hot white.

On the great stage of Rialto 20, in the Tilting Casino of Calamari, the Discerning Pirates of Draxa paraded their feminine charms to a captive audience bound by light.

Wordperfect word count: 747


message 11: by Greg (new)

Greg Krumrey (gkrumrey) | 200 comments Red Eye

Captain Quincy was getting used to finally being called “Captain” again. He mused: Get Rich Quick schemes are rarely quick and usually end in bankruptcy. Still the last 18 months could have been worse… At lot worse.

He and his lone passenger had 20 hours before his ship docked at the star base and he needed to rehearse his story a few more times…
--
How could he go wrong? Premiering a space opera, a wealthy patron and a leading lady fresh out of a beauty pageant. The icing on the cake: a bunch of free-lance actors who doubled as crew members.

Things went well until the reviews started coming in. They were not bad reviews, in fact they were great. But for all the wrong reasons. Victoria, the leading lady, was universally panned. The real stars of the show turned out to be the bit players who got the audiences laughing with their hilarious parody of “Captain Red Eye and the Pirates who never sleep.” He had to admit they were good, but the notorious pirate of the same name would not be amused.

Victoria took to dining alone, and her bizarre dietary demands on the ship’s cook were driving him crazy. She was avoiding the other actors and Quincy had to admit she had a point. They were method actors and stayed in character even when in the mess hall. The actor who played Red Eye always wore his eyepatch. The other actors referred to him as “Captain” and the endless “Arrrghs” and “Ahoy theres” got to be really annoying. To add to the insult, Quincy realized nobody had called him captain since they left port.

The last leg of the tour took them out to the outer rim. When his ship was hailed, he realized his worse fears were coming true.

The Black Avatar hung in space just off the starboard airlock. Even at this close range, its glistening black hull barely registered on the ship’s sensors and its twenty-odd phase canons were now trained on his ship.

The Fat lady said she would sing no more, adding “Wait ‘till my daddy hears about this. First, you let me be upstaged a bunch of drunken engineers playing pirates. Then you get attacked by real pirates. I simply cannot work under these conditions.”

The cook threw down his spatula, said “Aaargh! It’s a pirate’s life for me,” and headed down to main airlock.

Victoria screeched “You can’t leave me here to starve!”

He replied, “That will take a very long time. But if you get hungry, there’s plenty of textured vegetable protein left in the gallery. If you can muscle your way past the gag reflex, it’s very nutritious.”

As the pirates boarded the ship, Victoria ran and hid in her cabin. Quincy was pondering how to get out of this alive when he heard raucous sounds more like a reunion than a takeover. By the time he got to the main deck, most of his crew had cycled through the airlock into the pirate’s ship and the cook was waiting his turn.

The Captain (the actor, not the pirate) was waiting for him. Quincy pointed out “You do know that when the real Red-Eye comes through that airlock, you’re a dead man.”

The Captain lifted his hat to reveal a crisscross of metal and skin. He pulled off a glove off of his synthetic hand. With a flourish, he removed his eyepatch to reveal a glowing red implant.

Quincy stared at the glowing prosthetic and stammered “You’re a c-c-Cyborg – You’re the real Captain Red Eye!” “ Please don’t kill me”, Quincy begged.

Captain Red-Eye fired away until the power cell of his blaster was empty, laughing maniacally. As the noise subsided, Captain Quincy stopped ducking and checked himself for wounds. “Oh my god you missed!”

Red-Eye just laughed again. “If I wanted you dead, you’d be dead. What I want is a live performance.” He tossed the spent blaster at Quincy’s feet, along with a script. “It’s a tale. A tall tale. Learn it and tell it convincingly and you’ll be remembered as the captain who escaped Red Eye. As for me, me and me ship have a reputation to uphold. It’s much easier to win battles when no one will be fightin’ ye.”

MSWord 717 Words


message 12: by Jon (last edited May 23, 2018 05:17AM) (new)

Jon Ricson (jonricson1) | 61 comments THE PIRATES OF CERES

AN OPERA IN TWO ACTS

BY J. E. COPE

All rights reserved under the Revised Revised Copyright Act of 2105, an extension of the Revised Copyright Act of 2020, which was an extension of the original Copyright Act. It doesn’t really work anyway.

First performed on the prison moon Triton in 2182.

DRAMATIC PERSONAE

Devin Porter, the Lost Soul

Morgan, the Pirate King

Krunk (The Lieutenant to the Pirate King)

Newhouse (The Brave Officer)

The Red Headed Woman

(DATA OF THE FIRST ACT AND MOST OF SECOND ACT LOST…TO PIRATES OF DIGITAL INFORMATION)

ACT TWO. FINAL SCENE.

(The pirates who have forced the righteous Devin Porter into their scheme to rob a mining asteroid named Ceres, have been discovered and backed into a large airlock by Interplanetary Police. The Pirate King Morgan sings an aria to convince the young Devin to aid in their escape.)

(Orchestra swells, devolving into a piano and cello duet)

MORGAN:

O, young man
That thou might seeest thyself
A pirate like me.
A man so destined
To siege that whicheth not his

DEVIN:

But I
Whilst being confused by youth
Was broughteth into this situation by force
And made part of your evil plan.
I thinketh perhaps
I hath been hoodwinked!

MORGAN:

Then you shalst die!
Young fool!
Thou and the fair, and quite fetching maiden!
She mighst have won many a beauty contest
Had she lived past this day!
HaHa!

DEVIN: Noooooooo!

RED HEADED WOMAN: (Reaches for Devin as she is being pulled into the ether as the door to outer space opens. Her aria begins.)

My new friend
Perhaps my good friend
Pleeeeeeease grabeth my hand
And save my seemingly lost
But voluptuous and heavy-breasted body
(Which hath in fact
Swine Pirate King
Already won many beauty contests
Quite fairly and justly
Throughout the Sol System
HaHa!)
From the vacuum of which I am pullst!
Prevent me from my death
And floating away
Devoid of life!

(The orchestra swells, bassoons race at full pace as the string and woodwind sections climb, and the synthesizer pad opens its filter.)

OFFICER NEWHOUSE:

It is I. It is I!
Who will save the maiden!
For aren’t I the most responsible?
Myself a sworn officer of the law
Evenst in space!
Oooooooooh, I shall!

CHORUS (Defeated pirates and IP officers, now risen and singing as one from behind the airlock controls):

What will happen!
What will happen in this moment!!

(Devin remembers the small knife given to him by the Pirate King’s lieutenant Krunk. He throws it at the airlock control which begins to shut the large transparent door, while kicking the Pirate King Morgan through the crevice of the airlock to his death)

(Newhouse grabs the maiden. Her aria begins)

RED HEADED WOMAN:

I knew, I knew
That you
Wouldst save me from the evil one.
The Pirate King
Who laid his dastardly plan upon this station
This very eve.

A plan of thievery so foul
Who rightly couldst imagine how
We’d all be in this place of woe and yet…

NEWHOUSE: And yet….

DEVIN: And yet…

ALL SING: We live!

(The airlock closes. Newhouse and the maiden embrace. The authorities remand the remaining pirates to custody. Devin stands looking through the transparent airlock to the space beyond. His aria begins.)

DEVIN:

And I
A young lad adrift in space yet again.
Without love
Without goal or aim.
Where shall I land
In this never ending trek through stars?

(Newhouse taps him on the shoulder)

NEWHOUSE:

Perhaps! Somehow!
Thou shalt join our Interplanetary team of policing.
A new way of living.
Somehow!

RED HEADED WOMAN: (To Devin) You looketh much like my long lost twin brother…

(The scene ends with Devin lifting his head with A NEW HOPE.)

(Orchestra swells, and familiar triumphant final march begins).

THE END



Ed. Note: After its first performances it was deemed to include too many references to other “science fiction” and ancient opera works, as well as being quite silly and bad. The opera was never performed again. It turns out it was written hastily for a performance of prisoners on Triton by a self-proclaimed (and self-published) science fiction author who also fancied himself a composer, and he simply pulled it from several different older texts, operas, and films.

Interestingly however, the story on which the poorly written opera was based is entirely true.

-

Copyright 2018, Jon Ricson


message 13: by Jot (new)

Jot Russell | 1278 comments Mod
Voting details:


First round votes:
Karl Freitag => **Justin, Jot
Chris Nance => **Jon, Jack, Tom
C. Lloyd Preville => **Marianne
Jot Russell => Jack
Tom Olbert => **Chris, Jot
Jack McDaniel => Greg, Justin
Justin Sewall => **Jon, Chris, Tom, Jack
Kalifer Deil => C, Tom, Justin
Marianne G Petrino => **Chris, Greg, Tom, Jot
Greg Krumrey => **Justin
Jon Ricson => **Marianne, C

First round finalists:
More Than a Woman by Chris Nance
Pirates of the Malleteans by Justin Sewall
Jolly by Marianne G Petrino
The Pirates of Ceres by Jon Ricson

Second round votes:
Karl Freitag => #Justin, Jot
Chris Nance => **Jon, Jack, Tom
C. Lloyd Preville => **Marianne
Jot Russell => Jack; #Justin
Tom Olbert => **Chris, Jot
Jack McDaniel => Greg, #Justin
Justin Sewall => **Jon, Chris, Tom, Jack
Kalifer Deil => C, Tom, #Justin
Marianne G Petrino => **Chris, Greg, Tom, Jot
Greg Krumrey => #Justin
Jon Ricson => **Marianne, C

Winner:
Pirates of the Malleteans by Justin Sewall


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