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Writing Sci-Fi Showdown [Duel] - [PG]


TheResplendent
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[FONT="Tahoma"]Sci-Fi Showdown is a friendly contest pitting two friends and rivals to once again showcase their writing skills. SunfallE and BKstyles faced off in the Otakuboard Survivor 4 challenge which saw them face each other in a contest of poetry. Now, the two of them have come together and agreed on a contest more suited to their talents.

SunfallE and BKstyles will offer their versions of a short story following the mutually agreed guidelines, and the panel of judges, [b]Revelation, Sandy,[/b] and [b]Ezekiel[/b] will decide the winner when both entries have been put up. The rules of the contest are as follows:

[b][u]Contestants:[/b][/u] BKstyles and SunfallE (nobody else!)
[b][u]Theme:[/b][/u] Space Sci-Fi
[b][u]Length:[/b][/u] 7-8 pages on Word
[b][u]Deadline:[/b][/u] Friday, July 13th

Aside from everything specified, the contestants will have the freedom to incorporate what they wish into the story as long as it follows the theme. They will be judged on how well they represent the genre, their creativity, and overall how well written their story is.

[center]* * * * *[/center]
The thread will remain open upon the completion of our entries for comments and critisisms. Feel free to post your uncensored thoughts, of course within the guidelines of the rules and regulations.[/FONT]
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  • 2 weeks later...
[FONT="Comic Sans MS"][COLOR="goldenrod"][CENTER][SIZE="4"]The End of the Beginning [/SIZE][/CENTER]

A lone figure stood forlornly in front of a circular window in the center of a worn metal wall, slowly tracing symbols with his right forefinger on the outer edge until a name appeared in the fogged pane. Lareth. Impatiently he wiped the window clean with his sleeve as he watched the deluge of rain coming down outside. A rain though heavy, not quite enough to hide a strange shimmer that could be seen between spurts of rain as the wind blew. Footsteps approached him from behind but Lareth did not turn. The soft shuffling sound was unmistakable. He did not need to turn to know that the one approaching moved with an undeniable grace. A softness of silk in spite of the simple woven cotton outfit she would be wearing. The faint metallic sound from her feet hitting the floor stopped as she stood behind him off to the right a bit. Then, reaching up with her left hand, resting it gently on his shoulder.

?[B]Won?t you come join us for dinner?[/B]?

?[B]Don?t you ever wonder what happens to those who are caught in the rain?[/B]?

The hand withdrew from Lareth?s shoulder. He did not have to turn and look to see the tightening around her eyes and mouth as her expression changed to one of pain. Nor how her stance became tense, unhappy. Her reaction was always the same when those who were caught in the rain were brought up. They all shared it, every last one of them. They all knew what the rain meant.

?[B]Lareth, please. You do this every time the rain comes.[/B]? The voice wavered with tightly suppressed emotion, raw and painful. ?[B]I miss her just as much as you do.[/B]?

Lareth winced at the ache in the voice that he cherished so much. A hurt that was as deep if not more so than his. He turned slowly but surely his brown eyes meeting with blue ones barely holding back the tears. With a sad smile he reached up with his right hand, gently pushing her soft silken blonde hair back in a gently caress. Resting his thumb along her cheek as he cupped the side of her face tenderly.

?[B]I have to know Saria. I have to understand what happened to Christine.[/B]? He paused choking on the thought. On the knowledge of their beautiful six-year-old daughter who had vanished six rains ago.

?[B]Please Lareth, I don?t want to lose you too.[/B]? Saria reached up and took his hand into hers as the tears started to flow.

He pulled his hand free and then reached up with both hands, gently grasping the sides of her face as he kissed her softly and then with a parting ?[I]I love you?[/I] he let go. Lareth turned his back on his wife of so many years, a handful of steps, a door opened, and he was gone. Leaving the huge metal building behind after he spent a moment struggling to shut the door against the wind and the rain.

Even through the downpour of rain he could see the massive metal buildings they now called home, each one resting on immense metal columns that rose above the ground. Connected by ramps and walkways between each structure. Twenty in all, they were a strange sight thrusting up into the gray skies. Lareth fought the wind and rain as he moved to head towards the fields where they grew food. Within moments he was completely soaked.

[CENTER]**************************************************[/CENTER]
They had only been on this strange world for ten years and yet it felt like an eternity. He, along with so many others, had been part of a group seeking a new home. Forty-seven ships strong they had set out, barely escaping the sun as it went supernova. All had gone well until they had entered this area of space. No one knew what happened or what caused the hyper drives of all forty-seven ships to fail simultaneously. Dragging them back into real space so close to an utterly bizarre and strange phenomenon that they barely had time to realize that it looked like nothing more than a colossal flat surface drifting in space. Seconds later they had their hands full as they crash-landed on the bizarre world, struggling just to survive the crash let alone figure out where they were or what had just happened.

And when they emerged from that crash it was as if ancient lore had come to life as they found themselves on a world that truly was flat instead of round. With the strange buildings resting on massive metal columns shaped like giant balls. Resting at about a hundred feet above a surface that seemed to be made of ordinary dirt, with wild trees bearing strange fruit of the likes they had never seen. Each group of twenty buildings was separated by an unknown force field, like blocks on a grid, enclosed along the outermost edge by a similar field that though unrelenting to touch was nearly transparent. The sky itself open to the vastness of space. It was a wonder to behold, coexisting with space when the laws of the universe as they understood it indicated that such a place could not exist. What appeared to be a sun rose and set, seasons came and went. People could travel between all but the outermost barrier at certain points and food was plentiful, growing quickly and natively.

In no time, upon realizing that their ships would never fly again, they had settled into their new home and way of life. There was more than enough room for all of them and though it was not what they would have chosen, they accepted it. The buildings had all that they needed to produce clothing as well as other basic necessities and even the seasons were mild. At night the view with no moon was breathtaking with all the stars filling the sky. And for the most part, people were content. But then the rains came. Each month for two days it would rain without stop. The crops were not affected and the timing was not precise. Sometimes it was only three weeks apart while other times it was as long as six weeks. But each and every time it was quick, sudden, taking those who were out in the fields and traveling between sections by surprise. Within moments people would vanish, stepping though large puddles while racing for cover only to be pulled under and never seen again.

At first it was thought that they had drowned, but in ten years not one body had been found. Time and time again, the moment the rains had stopped and the water dried up, no amount of digging had ever found any bodies. Each and every futile attempt had resulted in hitting the same barrier that separated the sections after a certain depth was reached. And like the outermost barrier it too was unrelenting and unmoving.

[CENTER]**************************************************[/CENTER]
Lareth, upon reaching the end of the ramp that sloped downwards from the safety of the buildings, paused. Clutching the long metal rake that he had picked up along the way. They no longer had the weapons they had brought with them; most of them had been destroyed in the crash. Though in the beginning the remaining few made no difference, those who were armed that stepped into the puddles were pulled under to quickly for them to respond. Armed only with a makeshift weapon, as much as he wanted to know the truth, Lareth was still terrified.

But he had to know; it had been six rains ago since Christine had been in the field with Lareth. She was not supposed to be there. But Christine had excitedly run out to show her papa the new drawing she had made for him. Before he could do more than scold her and pick her up to head back to the buildings the rains had come as they always came, swift and without warning. The black clouds appearing as if from nowhere to dump their cold burden upon the flat world they now inhabited within minutes of their appearance.

Swiftly and as surely as possible Lareth had run for the safety of the buildings, avoiding the puddles that had begun to form. Clutching his daughter to him tightly. But in the hustle someone bumped into him causing him to go sprawling, Christine flying from his grasp to land right in the middle of one of the puddles. Before he could even do more than realize what had happened, like the others Christine was swiftly pulled into the water and vanished. Only the intervention of others who knew him kept him from attempting to enter the puddle to find her. They had grabbed him and dragged him screaming and kicking from the field to safety. Only waiting until it was obvious he would not head back out before letting go.

Six rains ago, even more of an eternity than the ten years that they had been in this strange place. Lareth gripped the metal rake tightly, holding it before him as if it were a shield and then stepped onto the rain soaked ground. Trembling with each step as he headed towards the closest large puddle. Would he find out what had happened? Would he too vanish like the others? Hesitantly he thrust the rake into the puddle, dragging it along the bottom. But nothing happened and when he pulled it clear the rake was unchanged. He took another step closer, careful to avoid actually stepping in the water.

Something was shaking the world with tremendous force and Lareth froze in panic until a moment later he realized that what was shaking was him. He took several deep breaths to steady himself and then raising the rake high above his head, he swung downwards with all his might. Hitting the puddle with all of his pent up rage and frustration, sending water flying in all directions. But still, nothing happened. With a terrible rush of grief he sank to his knees overcome with hopelessness as his tears mingled with the rain that was pouring down. [I]Why did I even come out here? No one ever returns. I should go back.[/I] The metal rake dropped from his nerveless fingers to fall to the ground, resting partially in the puddle. [I]Why? Why did it have to be Christine? [/I]

Lareth was too overcome with grief to notice the tiny stirring near the center of the puddle, or the ripples that moved in his direction. And when metal ropes an inch thick moved like snakes that were alive shot out of the water, wrapping themselves around him before dragging him under, he barely had time to realize that something was indeed there. He was already engulfed in darkness by the time he could even attempt to respond. Pure panic struck instantly, sending adrenaline rushing through his veins as he tried and failed to free himself.

He opened his mouth to scream only to stop when water rushed in. He tried to open his eyes to see where he was but only darkness met his gaze. Whatever had grabbed him was pulling him downwards at a terrible rate and he began to feel faint from the effort to stay conscious. [I]My god! Christine! Saria![/I] Just as he would have lost consciousness whatever had him let go and he felt himself tumbling as if in freefall. Taking in deep gasping breaths of air, since he could hold his breath no longer. Wait? What happened to the water? Terrified he opened his eyes in fear momentarily lost to what was before him.

[I][SIZE="3"][B]It? it? it?s not possible![/B][/SIZE][/I]

Lareth was tumbling in space! Air rushing past his face as he fell away from what appeared to be the bottom of the flat world they now called home. [I]How is this possible? Why am I not dead?[/I] So many questions flooded his mind as the terrible fear increased. Was this what had happened to Christine? Had she too been dragged from the surface to the underworld and set adrift? [I]Saria! [/I] Tears flowed down his face as he watched the place he had called home become smaller with each passing moment. As once again the laws of the universe as he understood it was ignored. No human should have survived being tossed into space; there shouldn?t be any air or heat to keep him warm.

When he could no longer see the world, Lareth was wracked with sobs as he covered his face with his hands. [I]I should have listened to Saria. I should not have gone to the fields.[/I] He fell for what seemed like hours through the vast expanse of space, wondering with each passing moment why he still lived. Was Christine still falling? Did she still live? Lareth removed his hands and looked around, desperate for any sign of life. But these thoughts were cut short as something began to take shape, to take form as he came closer to it with each moment. Little pinpricks of light that grew brighter as well as hints of a crystalline shaped structure made of metal sprawling as far as the eye could see. Leaving him wondering just what he was falling too.

As he grew closer and the imperceptible impression of movement began to register, movement that appeared humanoid in appearance. Hope blossomed, cutting through the despair that he had been sinking into. [I]Is Christine here? Is she still alive?[/I] He started crying again, this time tears of joy that she might still be alive. Though that too was cut short as something detached itself from the city and flew towards him with tremendous speed. Leaving him breathless as he hovered between feelings of hope and terror. Even if Christine still lived, Saria was still back at their new home. In ten years, no one had ever returned. He would never see her again.

Then the time for speculation was over, within mere seconds the object approaching became clear. It was a metal cage of some kind and Lareth was helpless to stop it from moving in and simply closing around him as he fell. Trapping him in a rectangular shaped cage of bars barely big enough for him to fit in. With the sounds of metal locks snapping into place the cage shuddered briefly and then in the next instant Lareth was flattened against the back as it picked up speed and began the return journey to the unknown city.

As it got closer the city began to take shape, like a massive honey comb of walkways and jutting points, it spread out from a central point with spider like arms in all directions. People of all types as well as aliens from races Lareth had never seen before were in constant movement. Carrying tiny glowing orbs and carefully placing them in slots along the walkways, removing ones that were dim and replacing them with ones that were glowing brightly. [I]What is this place?[/I] He turned his attention to a large platform jutting out at one of the outer edges of the nearest walkway, the cage swiftly flew towards it, slowing down at the last possible moment and then coming to a rest. Leaving him in an upright position hanging onto the bars desperately.

[CENTER]**************************************************[/CENTER]
A robed figure was approaching the cage, its face hidden by the deep cowl hanging down from the top of its head. Lareth braced himself, suddenly engulfed in darkness as he closed his eyes without thinking. Wondering why it was dark until he realized that the darkness was of his own making. Slowly he opened his eyes back up, jerking backwards and banging his head against the cage in a futile attempt to pull back when he saw that the figure was standing right before the cage he was trapped in. His heart pounding so fiercely that he was certain that if someone were to touch him he would explode, taking them with him. Several times he tried to speak and failed.

?[B]W..w?where am I? Who are you? Where is Christine?[/B]? As if a dam had broken the questions spilled forth as well as the tears of uncertainty. Lareth could not stop the them; the fear of what was going to happen holding him in its terrible grasp.

?[B]Who am I?[/B]? A deep voice emerged from under the cowl, raspy and cold, as it penetrated Lareth to the bone. Chilling him as he shook in fear.

?[B]I am no one. Just as you are now no one like all who reside here.[/B]?

?[B]I? I don?t understand.[/B]?

The robed figure ignored Lareth?s question circling around him, measuring him by some unknown factor. It moved slowly until finally it was back facing him again. Slowly it reached up with its right hand extending a finger to touch him on the forehead. Ignoring Lareth?s whimpers of fear as he tried to pull back, closing his eyes tightly. Then a moment later, it pulled back, it?s hand slipping back under the robe as its arm fell to its side.

?[B]Now do you see?[/B]?

Hesitantly Lareth opened his eyes, going still at what was before him. Millions of lights similar to the glowing orbs in the walkway were everywhere, floating slowly towards the center of the strange city to join with what appeared to be a huge mass of them gathered together in the center. He strained to look around as best as he could, as far as the eye could see the lights were there, all of them heading towards the center of the city.

?[B]What are they? The lights?[/B]?

The figure turned a bit motioning to someone out of sight before turning back to answer Lareth. ?[B]They are the souls of all sentient life forms. They are the life force that powers the universe, as you understand it. When they lose the connection to the physical world they come here.[/B]?

Lareth still did not understand, was it saying this was heaven or hell? He did not want to know and yet he could not help but ask. ?[B]Am I in hell?[/B]?

?[B]There is no hell nor heaven as you understand it. All energy starts here and ends here. Like the rift that your ships fell through, all energy returns to the universe in the same manner when the time is right. If not for landing in one of the old grounds you would have come here immediately.[/B]? It stopped, snapping its fingers. The cage unlocked itself, releasing Lareth as it fell to the platform and then merged with it as if never existed to begin with. Leaving him standing there, wondering what was going to happen next.

?[B]Old grounds?[/B]?

?[B]The world from when the universe first came to be, where all life started before being set lose. Once you arrived we began the cleansing program but it seems others before you found a way to avoid it, creating a place of safety. Still it does not matter. Now that you are here you cannot leave this place in your current state, however knowing you cannot leave only leads to madness and instability. No life is immune.[/B]?

It snapped its fingers again causing Lareth to jump when a firm and utterly adamant hand came down on his shoulder and drove him painfully to the cold platform, his knees protesting at the sudden pain from the harsh contact. He turned to look and once again jumped with surprise when another hand came down on his other shoulder, holding him in place, all he could see were robes similar to what the creature in front of him wore.

Yet another creature approached delivering the greatest shock yet, bringing tears to his eyes. The tiny slender form of a child wearing similar robes, carrying a slender band of metal in her hands; a child with silken blonde hair just like her mother, her eyes now blank and unseeing, unmoved by his pleas, no longer recognizing her own name. She ignored his desperate cries and tears, moving to place the metal band around Lareth?s neck.

?[B]Christine,[/B]? He cried one last time as she placed the slim band of metal around his neck. A band that upon closer inspection, Lareth realized that she too was wearing.

Upon contact something changed in the way Lareth was feeling as he watched Christine simply turn and walk away. He tried to think about it, to understand what he felt. It didn?t feel any colder. But suddenly he felt colder, deep down inside, like he used to feel as a kid when he was coming down with a cold. It was a cold that, unchecked, could go all the way to the bone. It was chilling him, numbing him to his surroundings and he fought it will all that he was, one final word coming out.

?[B]Why?[/B]?

?[B]I told you, in your current state you cannot leave. Nor can I make your time come any quicker. When one falls between the cracks as you have, all we can do is put you to use. Separating you from your memories is necessary. In time you will move on, but until then this for your own good.[/B]?

Lareth fell forward landing hard on his hands when he was released. He tried to reach up to remove the metal band but seconds later he could no longer feel his body anymore. Then as darkness took over; he mindlessly stood up and moved to join the others in their labors, all of his memories of who and what he had been, were no more. [/COLOR][/FONT]
[SIZE="1"]
[B]Notes:[/B] Just to clarify for the judges. This was done in Word with Comic Sans font at size 11. Making the story seven pages with just a bit more. Fitting into the 7-8 page requirement. ^_~[/SIZE]
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[FONT="Tahoma"][center][b][u][size=3]Alpha and Omega[/size][/b][/u][/center]

[i]Dear Rachel,

It’s been two years and three months since the Velpecula has departed, we’ve come out of hyperspace after eight hours of agonizing confinement to our quarters due to some repairs going on around the ship. Though I suppose the best thing about it has been being able to write this letter.

How is Erica doing? I’m sure she is doing well. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss the both of you. The crew has been great though…well, for the most part. Sometimes I question why some of these “experts” are called just that. They seem to do a lot more talking than anything else, talking that doesn’t really make sense to me. Anyway…this was our final leap. In a few hours we should be in orbit of Alpha Delphinus, it’ll serve as our base point for making the journey into the Summer Triangle. If the gate is really in there, we’ll find it. The future of the human race depends on it.

The other ships should already be in surrounding locations, today will mark our victory day…but once the gate is found, we still have to find a way to activate it and see what’s on the other side. It may still be a couple of years before we are allowed to return. But keep your head up, and keep us in your thoughts and prayers. We will return with the solution to the Vespa threat. Then, I can hold you and my baby girl in my arms and finally live in peace.

Anyway, I’ve enclosed a few more pictures of the ship and some pretty awesome sights in space. I love you both with all my heart.

[right]Sincerely, with love
Benjamin.[/i][/right]

[center]* * * * *[/center]
The ship known as the Velpecula, one of Earth’s greatest and last hopes, had emerged from its final leap through hyperspace. They’ve reached their destination of the northern most point in the known galaxy, where the last hope for human survival lay. It was ten years ago, the threat of the Vespa became known. They were believed to be demons of some sort…but in reality, the Vespas were all too alike to humans not only in physical form, but mentally as well. Yet their capabilities far surpassed what we thought could ever be possible. Considering how far the human race has come, with the ability to travel the vast reaches of space with amazing technology, it still seemed like we have yet to reach the top of the food chain.

The Vespas made contact with our geocentric orbiting station known as Lacerta Space Station. Their message was short and to the point, but above all else chilling to the bone. A threat upon our people, followed up with an undeniable back up to their word in the form of one of the their ships leaving Lacerta Space Station as nothing more then orbiting debris. The higher ups in each of the major governments were in panic just as much as the people were. Eventually, after several futile attempts to match the Vespas in strength, portions of Earth were used as further examples of their power. Parts of the Middle East, Africa, the states of the central United States and eastern Russia were all attacked from space and left in ruin.

There wasn’t anymore doubt that there was no choice but to act in accordance to the preservation of human life. Field experts have long since studied the vastness of space, and many stars and constellations were known to man since far back in history. But this time of impending ruin for humans prompted the revealing of something meant to be kept secret.

Dr. Victor Raskin, an astrologist and scientist brought to the attention of the Russian government about a message they had decoded from the findings of an ancient relic believed to have fallen from space over the course of thousands of years. It spoke of a threat on a galactic level, and the means of survival for certain life forms, including carbon based life forms. The message was near impossible to read completely, but the language it was written in could be decoded far enough to discover that there was more then meets the eye to the space asterism known as the Summer Triangle.

[center]* * * * *[/center]
[b]”Ben! Are you awake?”[/b] the sound of a female voice came, piercing through the closed door of Benjamin Crux’s living quarter. Ben turned his head from his laying down position toward the door. He certainly wished he could sleep, but he was far too anxious from nearly eight hours of what seemed like captivity on his own ship. He slowly got to his feet and waddled over to the door while running his fingers through his short yet messy dark brown hair and tossing on his uniform jacket, leaving it open. He put in his five-digit code into the keypad next to the door and opened it. He leaned against the doorway and focused his eyes on the tanned brunette standing in front of him, dressed in a light tank top and black shorts.

[b]”Of course I’m awake, as if I could even get to sleep right now.”[/b] Ben finally answered, in a morose tone of voice. The woman smiled a bit, not really taking Ben seriously and just gave him a playful punch in the shoulder.

[b]”Andarc says it’s ok for us to come out now, the repairs are mostly done but the rest will have to wait in any case. Though I’d come and retrieve you from your ward of tedium.”[/b] she said, giving him a bit of a sarcastic smile.

[b]”Jenna…you…really have no idea how bad it was.”[/b] Ben answered. He grabbed his watch from the desk next to him and walked out beside his colleague.
The halls of the Velpecula resembled something out of a sci-fi movie. Who knew that when the human race would actually come to the point where they would be flying around space that the ship design wouldn’t deviate much from popular ideas. Still, it was calming with the cool color scheme mixed with the silence and beauty of space just a glance out the window. If anyone enjoyed the peacefulness of gazing at the stars from the ground to sooth themselves, this was practically a Nirvana for the mind and soul.

The two walked down several corridors speaking about several topics. Their roles aboard the ship were quite similar. Amongst the scientists, astrologists, military personnel, ship crew, mechanics, etc…they were the youngest stargazers aboard any of the six ships that were launched. Showing great promise and knowledge in the study of the stars and ancient space relics and phenomena in past symposiums and showcasing irrefutable proof of great findings that not even top scientists could interpret, Benjamin Crux and Jenna Meliana were chosen as representatives of the United Nations as part of the team to ensure a way to activate the gate within the Triangle.

[b]”Hey, you hungry? I know you probably haven’t eaten anything for a while.”[/b] Jenna asked, prompted by her own growling stomach.

[b]”I am starving, actually. So food sounds like a good vote to me.”[/b] Ben answered with haste, already turning at the end of the corridor toward the cafeteria area.

[center]* * * * *[/center]
The bridge of the ship was indeed grand; the Velpecula was the flagship of the fleet after all. The captain of the ship, Sigurd Lyle, engaged in last minute planning and detailing with his assistants and crew. Sitting around a rather oversized oval shaped table that was primarily used for important discussion, they went over the intended plan.

[b]”Alpha Delphinus is within view now gentlemen, we are closest to the vertex Altair of the Summer Triangle, located within the constellation Aquila. Once the other ships are in position, we are to head into the Triangle and search the primary coordinates listed in the ship’s database. The Horologium will enter from the vertex Vega located within Lyra and rendezvous with the Pegasus near the Ring Nebula. The Hydra and The Pyxis will enter from vertex Deneb located within Cygnus. The Dorado is of course, our own back up. They should be arriving within the hour.”[/b] Captain Lyle spoke, as he pointed out the positions and entry points in the holographic map in the center of the conference table.

[b]”Captain, we’re receiving an incoming transmission from the Horologium, it’s Captain Grace’s identification code.”[/b] a tall dark haired woman in uniform alerted.

Captain Lyle nodded and waved his arm, [b]”Patch him through, Tannith.”[/b]

The vice-captain nodded her head in acknowledgement and proceeded to bring the captain of the Horologium on the main screen. The image came in with some heavy static, with bit and pieces of the sound coming through making words barely coherent.

[b]”…gium…i….pl……urgent….nder….tack……ship….uit…”[/b] the transmission cut off seconds afterwards. The bridge stood at attention and stared at the screen in a mutual feeling of shock. Captain Lyle rushed to the control panel and tried to re-patch the transmission to no avail.

[b]”Captain Grace, answer me! What’s going on!?”[/b] Silence was the only thing that graced from the other side. A commotion arouse from the room as officers and crewmen scattered to the call of multiple alerts from the control panels.

[b]”Captain! The Horologium…it’s been destroyed!”[/b] came the hysterical voice of one of the navigators. Personnel rushed to the radar that indicated the questionable existence of what once was the ship Horologium. Two non-earth ships were in the vicinity of the Vega rendezvous according to the radar, presumably the ones responsible for what was understood to be an all out attack on the Velpecula’s sister ship.

[b]”Identify them immediately!”[/b] demanded the stern captain. The command prompted another rush in action as everyone manning a chair in front of the control panel made identifying the ships top priority. It was only a few moments later when the radar began to show signs of similar ships within the vicinity of the Velpecula. Captain Lyle intended to bring up a visual on the screen to give them a closer view, but it wasn’t long before a communication channel was opened up, an unknown identification code, but it was no matter as a holographic image was put up on the conference table seconds after the channel was established.

[b]”Who authorized the channel to be opened!?”[/b] the captain furiously inquired.

[b]”N…nobody, captain! It…it came through on it’s own!”[/b] came a bemused response. Everyone turned their attention to the image in the hologram. The atmosphere in the room changed, and if fear had a scent it would have filled the air like an overfilling garbage dump. The faces on everyone froze and grew pale, as the only one brave enough to approach the table was Captain Sigurd Lyle himself.

[b]”You…you sons of bitches.”[/b] he said, seething under his breath.

He stared down the image of a tall and lanky humanoid like figure. It had shoulder length pale blond hair and its body appeared as if it was drained by some force, veins and bones were visible through the flesh. If the figure had been any thinner its bones would have protruded clear through the skin. Its eyes sank deep within its head and glowed a pale green, almost like emitting a light to overcome all in its sights.

The figure tilted its head to the side and his expression remained listless as he began to articulate, [b]”We…cannot…allow…you…to…reach…the…Triangulum…Gate…”[/b] the remnants of the sound of his voice creeped underneath the skin of everyone within range. The hairs on the back of their necks stood at attention and goose bumps overcame their skin.

Before anything else could be said on either side, the radar picked up sign of smaller aircrafts exiting out the backs of two of the mother ships and headed for the location of the Vepecula.

[b]”Dammit, sound the alert! Get every pilot in a fighter jet out there and buy us some time. We have no choice, full speed into the Summer Triangle now!”[/b] commanded the dedicated captain.

[center]* * * * *[/center]
Ben and Jenna sat across one another in the cafeteria, surrounded by others eating an early dinner. They continued to chat with one another between bites and sips.

[b]”Ben…how old is Erica now?”[/b] Jenna asked, wanting to speak on a more personal level as a change of pace. Ben took another bite of his roast beef sandwich before answering.

[b]”She’s turning five next month. Another birthday I’m going to miss…”[/b] Ben said, keeping his focus straight ahead not necessarily looking at anything in particular. Jenna’s expression lightened a bit and she reached her hand over to his.

[b]”Don’t worry…we’re so close. You’ll see them again, just keep reminding yourself of that.”[/b] Jenna nodded to him briefly. [b]”…but you have to promise me something…”[/b]
Ben raised an eyebrow at his grinning colleague and finished taking a sip of his water. [b]”What would that be?”[/b]

Jenna giggled subtly and looked at Ben with a facetious disappointed expression, as if she was taken by surprise that Ben couldn’t guess for himself.

[b]”I want to meet them, of course. You talk about your wife and daughter so much, the majority of everyday really. They’re like celebrities around here thanks to you.”[/b] she explained.

Ben couldn’t help himself but to crack a smile. He had only just met Jenna since they were both appointed to the Velpecula, but they have both worked extensively with one another on many issues concerning their route and the area surrounding and within the northern constellations. Ben knew she was a chipper and kind person who really enjoyed the closeness of family. It took him a bit to get used to it, since it was a slight contrast to his own personality. He loved his family, but Ben wasn’t seen nearly as often walking around with a smile on his face.

[b]”Yeah, I can do that. I think the both of them would really like you.”[/b] he answered, putting a heartfelt smile on Jenna’s face. She sighed to herself and shifted her focus down to the table. She glanced up at Ben briefly but quickly returned her eyes to the table.

[b]”You know…you have no idea how good you really have it…I wish I could…”[/b]

A resounding blaring of the alarm throughout the compartments of the ship interrupted Jenna’s sentence, as the red lights filled the cafeteria. Everyone stood and looked around confused, until the voice of Captain Lyle came over the intercom system.

[b]”This is a red alert, all fighter pilots report to the bay at once and prepare for combat! I repeat, all fighter pilots report to the bay at once and prepare for combat!”[/b]

[b]”Combat? Are we under attack!?”[/b] Ben asked as he stood in his place. Jenna wore a concerned look on her face as she looked around at the scrambling room as those who are pilots rushed to the bay leaving their unfinished meals. Ben grabbed hold of Jenna’s hand and pulled her with him, headed for the bridge.

[b]”Where are we going?”[/b] Jenna asked between breaths, as she tried to keep up with Ben.

[b]”We’re right here, the Summer Triangle is just ahead of us…we have to find the quickest way to locate the gate, the captain needs to know this!”[/b] he answered, quickening his pace even more.

[b]”I’m sure he knows that! If it’s the Vespa that are attacking, surely he’s already issued the order!”[/b] she tried to explain. Ben just kept running, working his way around pilots rushing to the docking bay and others either running to their quarters or to their stations.

Mere minutes later, jets flew from the bay of the Velpecula and followed the directions of the bridge toward the fray with the Vespa ships. Ben and Jenna reached the bridge and inserted their identification codes. Their status also came with one of the highest levels of clearance around the ship. They ran in and approached the Vice Captain who stopped them before they could reach the Captain’s position.

[b]”What are you two doing here? It’s dangerous, you two should be in your quarters. We need you both unhurt, in case the ship comes under attack.”[/b] Tannith tried to explain, but Ben continued to try and push his way passed.

[b]”If it’s the Vespa, then we don’t have any time to lose nor can we afford to be somewhere else right now. We need to enter the Summer Triangle and find that gate…we’re too close to fail now!”[/b] he pleaded.

[b]”The Captain, is aware of this!”[/b] Tannith retorted, asserting more of her strength to push Ben back. [b]”The fighter jets are buying us time so we can enter the Triangle. We’ve already received word that the other ships are doing the same. We’ve already lost the Horologium and the Hydra, we don’t intend on wasting any more time.”[/b]

[b]”You have to let us stay, we can locate the gate quicker if we can work on the bridge.”[/b] Ben explained firmly.

[b]”Absolutely not…”[/b]

[b]”Tannith! Allow those two through, I believe it’s better if they are here helping directly. Our fighters are dropping like flies and time is more of a factor now then it ever was.”[/b] Captain Lyle shouted. Tannith immediately bowed her head in acknowledgement and allowed the young astrologists through.

The sight outside was bright and fiery with explosions just minutes away from the Velpecula, the source of which being the fighter jets that were meant to combat the Vespa’s brigade. The Velpecula flew at full speed from their point at Alpha Delphinus into the Summer Triangle.

Multiple Vespa fighters flew in afterwards, followed by the mother ships in pursuit of the earth craft. Ben and Jenna hastily unfurled the map with their coordinates on it and began collaborating with the navigators. The Velpecula flew through narrow space created by space debris and meteors inside the Triangle. The ship zig-zagged and evaded as best possible at the speed they were going.

Ben rushes to the main screen and pointed something out, as he looked back and yelled. [b]”Look! It’s Alpha Sagitta. The coordinates indicate the gate is inside a miniature nebula between that star and Altair! We’re close by.”[/b]

The Velpecula approached the nebula, now coming under fire of stray blasts from the Vespa mother ships. A few hits rocked the ship, causing everyone to lose their footing and holding on for their lives. Captain Lyle shouted out to make sure the pilots and navigators kept up with their duties.

[b]”Faster, we have to go faster…”[/b] Jenna kept repeating, loud enough to be heard.

[b]”I assure you young lady, this is the fastest we can go without crashing this ship. Our speed is barely enough to outrun the Vespa ships, if we don’t find the gate soon…we might as well consider being shot out of the sky.”[/b] the Captain replied.

[b]”C…captain!…L…look! Ahead of us!”[/b] then nervous voice of one of the pilots called out, capturing the attention of the room. Ben gazed up at the screen and couldn’t keep his jaw from dropping.

[b]”It can’t be…I thought…it was just a legend…there’s never been any proof of this being real!”[/b] Ben exclaimed, still in disbelief of what he saw.

[b]”Ben…BEN! What is it!?”[/b] Jenna cried out.

[b]”I can’t believe it…the guardians of the Summer Triangle…”[/b] everyone gazed up at the screen in awe of what appeared to be a celestial being of some sort, made up primarily of stardust and glowing a fluorescent blue. It stood firm in its gigantic frame, not taking any noticeable form…but clearly standing guard of something.

[b]”Excuse me, would you like to explain this to me Mr. Crux?”[/b] Captain Lyle demanded to know. Ben sighed deeply and walked to the conference table and leaned on it, Jenna next to him watching on with a concerned look.

[b]”Astrologists of ancient space constellations and stars have considered the possibility of guardians in the form of manifestations by stars. These guardians are said to protect the most important areas of deep space, the most notable being Canis Major and Canis Minor, the Orion Constellation, The pieces of the Argo Navis, the Eagle and Rosette Nebulas, and of course The Summer Triangle.”[/b] Ben explained.

[b]”Of course something like that seemed like ridiculous legends, how could stars manifest a guardian…”[/b] Jenna added in.

[b]”My apologies for perhaps not being as understanding as I should be, but is there a reason you felt like only bringing this up NOW?”[/b] Captain Lyle shouted, clearly exasperated.

Ben opened his mouth to speak again, but was interrupted by a loud screeching noise of sorts, followed by an ominous voice which inspired as much fear as the sight of the Vespas.

[b]”Human and Vespa Ships, I am Altair of the Summer Triangle. I cannot allow you to proceed.”[/b] the guardian spoke in a voice loud enough to nearly burst eardrums.

Captain Lyle sighed and turned to his young astrologists while trying to shake the ringing out of his ears, [b]"Well...what now?"[/b]

[center]* * * * *[/center]
[size=1]OOC: Written in Word in Times New Roman font, size 12. Making the story roughly 7 and 1/2 pages.[/size]
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[FONT=Arial]Right. Good stuff, good stuff. The works as wholes were very interesting. I find it intriguing that, while you had a common general theme, the stories still differed; one of you went with more of a science theme (the title of the reference that's presenting itself escapes me now), and the other with space (reminding me, for some reason, of [I]Wing Commander[/I]). I also see style differences; [COLOR=DarkRed]SunfallE[/COLOR] presented a definite short, while [COLOR=DarkRed]BK[/COLOR]'s wants to keep going.

But since I'm here, and there's prose in front of me, you know I just can't keep my mouth shut.



[COLOR=Goldenrod]It's funny; I can't shake this feeling that I've read something similar before. Not the whole "falling through space" bit, or the flat part, but just the in-between world's layout in general. The stilted houses especially. I can't for the life of me think of what it was, though, so I'm not going to worry about it.

You've got a good feel for how you want to present your imaginations. There were a couple of spots where I thought [I]"ouch,"[/I] but otherwise it was pretty good.

Your major flaw is your structure. Your story is absolutely [I]riddled[/I] with fragments, and they're all the same kind. Don't feel like you've just failed at life, though 'cause you haven't; it's a fairly common problem from what I've seen. (Given that I haven't quite hit my second decade yet, that's one [I]heck[/I] of a lot, there. :p )

What I really want to know is where you did your writing at: paper or PC? I can't recall if I asked you this before somewhere, but I can't find anything about that right now, so I apologize if I'm asking you to repeat yourself. I'm thinking, though, that your first draft was typed from scratch, just from the way you repeat the same mistake.

Here's what I mean (and there's another one in the first paragraph, but I'm pretty sure that was a different cause):
[QUOTE][FONT="Comic Sans MS"]A lone figure stood forlornly in front of a circular window in the center of a worn metal wall, slowly tracing symbols with his right forefinger on the outer edge until a name appeared in the fogged pane. Lareth. Impatiently he wiped the window clean with his sleeve as he watched the deluge of rain coming down outside. A rain though heavy, not quite enough to hide a strange shimmer that could be seen between spurts of rain as the wind blew. Footsteps approached him from behind but Lareth did not turn. The soft shuffling sound was unmistakable. He did not need to turn to know that the one approaching moved with an undeniable grace. [B]A softness of silk in spite of the simple woven cotton outfit she would be wearing.[/B] The faint metallic sound from her feet hitting the floor stopped as she stood behind him off to the right a bit. [B]Then, reaching up with her left hand, resting it gently on his shoulder.[/B][/FONT][/QUOTE]
[QUOTE][FONT="Comic Sans MS"]Lareth winced at the ache in the voice that he cherished so much. [B]A hurt that was as deep if not more so than his.[/B] He turned slowly but surely his brown eyes meeting with blue ones barely holding back the tears. With a sad smile he reached up with his right hand, gently pushing her soft silken blonde hair back in a gently caress. [B]Resting his thumb along her cheek as he cupped the side of her face tenderly.[/B] [/FONT][/QUOTE]
[QUOTE][FONT="Comic Sans MS"][I]“I have to know Saria. I have to understand what happened to Christine.” [/I]He paused choking on the thought. [B]On the knowledge of their beautiful six-year-old daughter who had vanished six rains ago.[/B][/FONT][/QUOTE]
[QUOTE][FONT="Comic Sans MS"]He pulled his hand free and then reached up with both hands, gently grasping the sides of her face as he kissed her softly and then with a parting ‘I love you’ he let go. Lareth turned his back on his wife of so many years, a handful of steps, a door opened, and he was gone. [B]Leaving the huge metal building behind after he spent a moment struggling to shut the door against the wind and the rain.[/B][/FONT][/QUOTE]
[QUOTE][FONT="Comic Sans MS"]Even through the downpour of rain he could see the massive metal buildings they now called home, each one resting on immense metal columns that rose above the ground. [B]Connected by ramps and walkways between each structure.[/B] Twenty in all, they were a strange sight thrusting up into the gray skies. Lareth fought the wind and rain as he moved to head towards the fields where they grew food. Within moments he was completely soaked. [/FONT][/QUOTE]
And it goes on like that, through every section of the story. I'll say one thing for you: you're consistent. :animesmil

In each case, the thought in error is almost screaming to be connected to the preceding one. I think it comes from typing out a sentence. Then adding on further detail. (Kind of like I ever so facetiously just did. Heh...yeah, sorry.) It's almost like you're having afterthoughts while you're telling us the story. To fix them, just go back and read over your work – [I]as if you hadn't read it before[/I]. When you run across a stutter like that, either attach it to the previous sentence or make it capable of standing on its own, and each one will probably want a different solution. After a while, you'll get into the habit of reading [I]while[/I] you're writing, which is much faster. I do it almost unconsciously now, but I can guarantee you that I once had the same issue as you.

Aside from that, I have a couple of style questions.
[QUOTE][FONT="Comic Sans MS"]A lone figure stood forlornly in front of a circular window in the center of a worn metal wall, slowly tracing symbols with his right forefinger on the outer edge until a name appeared in the fogged pane. Lareth. Impatiently he wiped the window clean with his sleeve as he watched the deluge of rain coming down outside. A rain though heavy, not quite enough to hide a strange shimmer that could be seen between spurts of rain as the wind blew.[/FONT][/QUOTE]
Before I get into the first one, can I ask you about that that last sentence there? It feels goofy, but I think I know what you meant:
[indent][I]"Though heavy, the rain was not quite falling hard enough to hide the strange shimmer that could be seen between the windblown sheets of water."[/I][/indent]
Ignoring the fact that I altered a few of your phrasings, do you see what I mean? ("Spurts" calls to mind the image of a Super Soaker, but I don't think it works too well with rain. That's a personal call, though.)

Anyway, about the way you began. When you say "a lone figure", I get the sense that this person has a good deal of space around him where no one else is. It took me a second to get that Lareth was inside, and a few more to realize that he was, in fact, Lareth. Also, and I worry about this constantly myself, you are the only one with a clear picture of what's happening. It's inherent in your position as the author; obviously you're writing to show everyone else what's going on in your head, but remember that all we have to work with is a blank slate, and you're painting in front of us. You as the author have to be constantly aware of not only [I]how well[/I] you present your story's details, but also [I]in what order[/I].

Like I said, it took a bit to realize that Lareth was inside – specifically, the end of your [I]second[/I] sentence. By that time, he'd already written and erased a name (which I still hadn't realized was his, by the way), and just before he had finished writing it, I'm told that the window is fogged, so I now understand that the symbols will actually show up.

Whew. Bit rough, don'tcha think? That's one devil of a lot of reorienting for the reader to do. Try rearranging those first two or three sentences so that you're not constructing a window before the wall, and the wall before the house it's a part of, with a person who may or may not be on the inside looking out – or just on one side – drawing his name in a fog that hasn't yet manifested itself due to a rain that hasn't started falling yet. Then you can figure out when to tell us that it's his name he's drawing. :D

Here's a small rabbit trail:
[QUOTE][FONT="Comic Sans MS"]Lareth, upon reaching the end of the ramp that sloped downwards from the safety of the buildings, paused.[/FONT][/QUOTE]
Hunh. That's a really long pause for Lareth to take before he ... umm, pauses. :animeswea There's really nothing technically wrong with this sentence, but it just feels funky.

Moving on:
[QUOTE][FONT="Comic Sans MS"]Taking in deep gasping breaths of air, since he could hold his breath no longer. [I]Wait… What happened to the water?[/I] Terrified he opened his eyes in fear momentarily lost to what was before him.[/FONT][/QUOTE]
The italicized part seems like it should have been another thought, though it could be alternately constructed to remain a part of the narrative. Just a suggestion.
[QUOTE][FONT="Comic Sans MS"]“I am no one. Just as you are now no one like all who reside here.”[/FONT][/QUOTE]
Ouch. Can you say "run-on"? Try this:
[indent][I]"I am no one. Just as you are now: no one, like all who reside here."[/I][/indent]
Just a little punctuation there, eh? :animesmil

I won't bother you with a complete dissection of every little thing I see. You're probably sore enough at me as it is.

I really liked the concept you brought together. It was a neat thought: the almost purgatorial "holding environment" before the recycling dimension, and a glimpse into the emotions of those caught in-between. The lack of typical resolution really ended the story right. Good job.[/COLOR]



BK, man, you use too many durn words. :p It's not that I think that you're turning into Mitch or anything, or that you're losing meaning at all, but that you don't quite hit the right phrasing a good bit of the time. Really, all you're losing is speed, since the reader needs an instant to get the right image.

Like so:
[QUOTE][FONT="Tahoma"]Captain Lyle intended to bring up a visual on the screen to give them a closer view, but it wasn’t long before a communication channel was opened up, an unknown identification code, but it was no matter as a holographic image was put up on the conference table seconds after the channel was established.[/FONT][/QUOTE]
[QUOTE][FONT="Tahoma"]The sight outside was bright and fiery with explosions just minutes away from the Velpecula, the source of which being the fighter jets that were meant to combat the Vespa’s brigade.[/FONT][/QUOTE]
[QUOTE][FONT="Tahoma"]The two walked down several corridors speaking about several topics. Their roles aboard the ship were quite similar. Amongst the scientists, astrologists, military personnel, ship crew, mechanics, etc…they were the youngest stargazers aboard any of the six ships that were launched. Showing great promise and knowledge in the study of the stars and ancient space relics and phenomena in past symposiums and showcasing irrefutable proof of great findings that not even top scientists could interpret, Benjamin Crux and Jenna Meliana were chosen as representatives of the United Nations as part of the team to ensure a way to activate the gate within the Triangle.[/FONT][/QUOTE]
You see what I mean? It gets the idea across, but something just doesn't seem right, you know?

Because going any further with that thought would necessitate me taking liberties with your material that I do not feel comfortable taking, I'll leave it at that. If you want to talk more about it, I'd be more than willing to discuss it via PM (your call), but I've already done one rewrite in this post, and I'm loathe to do any more.

Other than that, you occasionally have the same fragment issue that SunfallE has, albeit not as frequently. Also, I never really understood what the Vespa were, or why they were such a major threat. Considering that they were pretty central to the story itself, I feel cheated.

Then there's your ending. You just kind of stopped, and I'm left feeling kind of like Captain Lyle, asking "so, what now?" It's kind of the [I]Tune in next episode![/I] feel, I think, and it just isn't really satisfying. With the painstaking way you set up your mythos, I expected some sort of climactic finish. The culprit was probably the length, since I got the feeling that even the Guardian Altair obstacle wouldn't be the final conflict to face the Velpecula and her crew. I'm curious where you plan on going with it, but it doesn't seem to fit the context here. That's only a personal bone, though.

Still, all that aside, I [I]did[/I] want you to keep going after I'd finished reading. I was quite definitely interested in your story and where you were taking it, and if you do continue, I'll probably follow it a good ways. I want to know more about these star guardians and just what it is that they're guarding, and what the Vespa are, and what humanity will find to protect themselves from their newfound threat.

Thank you for a fun read.



I think the difference in the stories endings will most definitely play in the judges final decision. It all comes down to guidelines, really.
[QUOTE][FONT="Tahoma"][I]SunfallE and BKstyles will offer their versions of a [B]short story[/B] following the mutually agreed guidelines,....[/I][/FONT][/QUOTE]

[COLOR="DarkRed"]SunfallE[/COLOR] gave us a short story, while [COLOR="DarkRed"]BK[/COLOR] submitted more of a chapter, or a portion thereof. Whether this will decide the match, I can't say, but it [I]does[/I] seem to slant things in [COLOR="DarkRed"]SunfallE[/COLOR]'s favor.

But then again, I'm not one of the judges, so we'll just have to see what they say.

Best of luck to you both, as contradictory as that is.[/FONT]
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[FONT="Tahoma"]Heh, Indeed length was the culprit here, but we had to ensure that things wouldn't be too long so the judges would either feel the need to skim through or something of that nature. I purposely left it at a cliffhanger, hoping that there would be an appreciation for the way I had wrote the story as an excerpt with indications toward possible pasts and futures that lead up to / will follow the posted part respectively. I do actually intend on continuing the story as i'm rather fond of the idea.

I'm glad you enjoyed it Allamorph (as well as SunfallE's, hers was a good read as well). I very much want to avoid giving off the wrong idea here, and I certainly don't want to sound ungreatful or anything of the sort, but I don't quite see support for your issue with my "wordiness". It's not that i'm [i]not[/i] willing to admit that I can be wordy at times, but it seems the issue your alluding to is more about an idea being conveyed in more words then necessary to the minimum required. I do like going into detail with certain descriptions but I had actually felt that because of the length I didn't really do as good of a job with that as I would usually. So it's odd for me to read that you thought i went overboard, lol.

I am very glad to hear that i'm not being compared to Mitch >.>, lol. The difference between us (Mitch and myself that is) is that while I may have an extensive vocabulary, i don't feel the need to flaunt it every other word of every sentence to try and create a distraction. I thought my story was a rather easy read though in terms of vocabulary.

Also in reference to whether our formats will play a part in judgement, it's up to the judges themselves but I included in the first post what would be most important.

[quote name='BKstyles][font=tahoma']They will be judged on how well they represent the genre, their creativity, and overall how well written their story is.[/font][/quote]

With possible contraversial perspectives about my response to your critisism, despite sincerely having no ill will in mind, I figure i'd leave off with something that would be unmistakably positive ;P. I very much appreciate your ability to judge my story from a reader's POV in addition to a technical POV. As in grasping the story itself and finding points that interested you enough to want to keep reading, that is what I look for the most in my stories when I write them. For the reader to be able to immerse themselves in the story itself.[/FONT]
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[COLOR="goldenrod"][quote name='Allamorph;783664][FONT=Arial]Your major flaw is your structure. Your story is absolutely [I]riddled[/I] with fragments, and they're all the same kind. Don't feel like you've just failed at life, though 'cause you haven't; it's a fairly common problem from what I've seen. (Given that I haven't quite hit my second decade yet, that's one [I]heck[/I] of a lot, there. :p )[/FONT][/QUOTE]Heh, no worries, its hardly going to make me feel as if I fail. If anything it brings up the point where I've mentioned before that I struggle with grammar. It's the simple truth. I'll write something up, read it and know that something is off and yet I can't figure it out at times. ^_~ In many ways it really frustrates me a lot. I keep working on it though and compared to some of my first attempts I've improved quite a bit. But still, I've got a long ways to go. lol[quote name='Allamorph'][FONT=Arial']What I really want to know is where you did your writing at: paper or PC? I can't recall if I asked you this before somewhere, but I can't find anything about that right now, so I apologize if I'm asking you to repeat yourself. I'm thinking, though, that your first draft was typed from scratch, just from the way you repeat the same mistake.[/FONT][/quote]Ah, well this story actually has a bit of a history as to how it was written. I often have very vivid dreams that I keep notes on in a dream journal. So it started as notes from a dream I had several years ago. Then I took a regular pad and pencil and using those notes rewrote the dream as I remember it.

Then I took that and typed it up on the computer and worked on it from there. There are things I added, things I left out, but for the most part the core of the story if you will came completely from the dream I had. So even if only in short notes, a huge percentage of what I write starts on paper and then moves completely to PC.

Even the story for Silver One started the same way, from a dream I had years and years ago. Though it's long since evolved way beyond the initial concept I got from the dream. ^_~[quote name='Allamorph'][FONT=Arial]I won't bother you with a complete dissection of every little thing I see. You're probably sore enough at me as it is.

I really liked the concept you brought together. It was a neat thought: the almost purgatorial "holding environment" before the recycling dimension, and a glimpse into the emotions of those caught in-between. The lack of typical resolution really ended the story right. Good job.[/FONT][/QUOTE]I wouldn't say I'm sore, but rather pleased that you took the time to give good constructive criticism. It really is hard for me to spot those type of errors. Especially grammar and punctuation. lol As well as the parts you pointed out that needed to be restructured to be more clear as to what was going on.

I'm glad you liked the concept. Its something that I find extremely fascinating since it was such a strange and bizarre dream. As for the ending, I thought about toying with it but instead stuck with how it happened in the dream. I couldn't think of any other ending that would work. lol

As for your comment about reading something similar before, couldn't tell ya. It is possible since our dreams are shaped by what we read, see, hear, etc. Or at least I think they are. ^_~

Anyway, thank you for taking the time to respond and point things out. I'm also glad to hear that you enjoyed reading the story. :catgirl:

[B]EDIT: [/B]Oh as for suggesting that this phrase should have been a thought: [I]Wait… What happened to the water? [/I] It is, I just missed tagging it when I posted the story. ^_~[/COLOR]
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I guess I'll start with the judging, then. I have to say that I hope you really knew what you were up against when you asked me to judge your duel (I warned Beth about this already). I'll try to be as nice as I can, but I will say things honestly and frankly, as always. So don't hate me for that. ;P

First of all, it was good that you explained your choice of format, BK (a chapter from a longer story instead of a short story), since I would've given you a long minus for that otherwise. ;P The ending still bothers me, but I'll get back to that.

I won't say much about the techical side of the stories (I think Allamorph handled that part perfectly already), but focus more on the style and the plot.

So here goes:

[B]Common issues:[/B]

You both had [I]essentially[/I] the same main character: a caring white straight man from Earth with a wife and a kid. The same dude that adventures in pretty much every sci-fi novel, tv-series and movie ever made (just a slight generalization, heh).

Now, you know me, I like to steer away from conventional characters, just because I find them, well, boring. Both of your characters were frankly said "yawn-inspiring". Their behavior and reactions were unsurprising, and their personality was one-sided. Your stories, as great as they were, could've used that extra [I]oomph[/I] gained from a unique, different main character.

I don't mean that you have to use a one-legged mulatto hermaphrodite from Venus to please me, but Beth, had you told your story from Saria's or Christine's point-of-view, I believe you would've had a whole different aura to your story (a better one in my opinion). Same goes for BK, Jenna would've been more original choice for a main character. I might sound like a hardcore feminist, but honestly, bringing some female p-o-v to the largely male-driven genre would've impressed me.

As another point, did you notice that you both used the same title, or at least titles with the same idea? ;P

[B]The End of Beginning:[/B]

Beth, even though your main character was conventional for Sci-Fi, I don't think your story was. Sure, there was the whole "Earth explodes and few survivors manage to escape into space"-plot device, but in my opinion that was just some rather irrelevant setting in relation to the essence of your story.

You provided an alternative view to mortality and death in general. The "flat world" was intriguing, although I didn't quite graps the idea of the barriers (I could only see them as some sort of force fields that people could walk through), but the idea of some other people trying to escape death by building that world, [I]and actually being successful with it for a while[/I], is very interesting.

A great short story which began smoothly and wrapped up nicely, although it take an "M. Knight Shyamalan"-like twist in the middle.

[B]Alpha and Omega:[/B]

BK, I have to say that your story wasn't quite what I expected to read in this duel. It was as if you took the given genre to heart and stuck with it like a slave. I've played Star Ocean 3, and your storysetting was almost identical to it, with influences from Star Trek and Neon Genesis Evangelion thrown into the mix (although SO3 was already riddled with those to begin with).

I don't want to put you down, your story had nothing wrong with it [I]per se[/I], it was captivating and I, too, would've wanted to read more of it, but there wasn't anything that I hadn't seen before.

And the ending! DUH! You don't cut story right in the middle of the climax, unless you're doing a tv-series! Just a few paragraphs more, the "Guardian" could have even just blown up the entire fleet, and your story would've been saved. Now the abrupt end felt like a cold shower thrown on me, as I had barely even gotten into the story.

But I sincerely hope you will continue to expand and especially [I]deepen[/I] the world you've created. It has potential, now you just have to be brave with it and break the mold (or just ignore me and do what you want, heh). ;D

[B]In Conclusion:[/B]

There's not a doubt in my mind, I will vote [B]Beth[/B] with "The End of Beggining" as the winner of the Sci-Fi Showdown. Alas, I'm but one of the three judges (the "Simon Cowell" of our panel, I presume), so I'll hand the ball to Jamie and Revelation.

Great job, both of you, I sincerely enjoyed reading your stuff! *thumbs up*
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[FONT="Tahoma"]Heh, I guess everyone has their own differential views on the way i decided to end the story ;P. But I am glad you too were captivated enough to want to read more, and yes I do very fully intend on elaborating and going deeper into many aspects of the story when i write up more of it.

As for the protagonist issue, this is actually the frist time i've wrote with that type of character as a focus (plain male, wife and kid, etc) so it was something new to me to work with, lol. But yeah i do realize that there isn't much originality there, it was just something i wanted to take the opportunity to try out. And believe me, i'm all for deep and strong female characters, I mean The Boss IS one of my all time favorite video game characters ever :p. Heh, but in any case...yes Jenna's role will be portrayed as much more prominent.

Glad you enjoyed it overall.[/FONT]
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[COLOR="goldenrod"][quote name='Sandy']You both had [I]essentially[/I] the same main character: a caring white straight man from Earth with a wife and a kid. The same dude that adventures in pretty much every sci-fi novel, tv-series and movie ever made (just a slight generalization, heh).

Now, you know me, I like to steer away from conventional characters, just because I find them, well, boring. Both of your characters were frankly said "yawn-inspiring". Their behavior and reactions were unsurprising, and their personality was one-sided. Your stories, as great as they were, could've used that extra [I]oomph[/I] gained from a unique, different main character.

I don't mean that you have to use a one-legged mulatto hermaphrodite from Venus to please me, but Beth, had you told your story from Saria's or Christine's point-of-view, I believe you would've had a whole different aura to your story (a better one in my opinion). Same goes for BK, Jenna would've been more original choice for a main character. I might sound like a hardcore feminist, but honestly, bringing some female p-o-w to the largely male-driven genre would've impressed me.
[/QUOTE]This really brings to mind what Allamorph pointed out. [quote name='Allamorph'][FONT=Arial][COLOR=Goldenrod]Also, and I worry about this constantly myself, you are the only one with a clear picture of what's happening. It's inherent in your position as the author; obviously you're writing to show everyone else what's going on in your head, but remember that all we have to work with is a blank slate, and you're painting in front of us. [/COLOR][/FONT][/QUOTE]Knowing what's going on since it's coming from my point of view. And I feel rather silly that I didn't even think about the character being the "yawn-inspiring" type. I wrote about a straight white male with a wife and kid since in the dream...I[I] was[/I] a guy with a wife and kid. lol So from my point of view it was anything but typical or uninspired. Since it's rare for me to dream that I'm a member of the opposite sex no less. lol

But as Allamorph pointed out it is my job to convey things to the readers and I have to agree, changing it to where I was Saria would have probably been better. But in all honesty, it didn't even occur to me. Just as I didn't think about how no one would know where the idea came from or the other aspects to it that are different. I didn't separate it enough to help it stand on it's own two feet. Leaving all the influences of where the idea came from behind would have helped. I'll have to keep that in mind the next time I work on a story.

Since now it's crystal clear that there's no way anyone else reading it would have known that. All this feedback is making me want to re-write it to fix the grammar errors as well as switching Lareth and Saria around. To improve it if you will. So in the end, thank you for being blunt. I really do appreciate it. :catgirl:[/COLOR]
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I've been meaning to get around to this since both stories were entertaining to read. First of all I'm not even going to try and touch the grammar issues since my own writing is no better as far as making mistakes goes. However I will touch on the fragmented sentences issue you had with your story Beth. And that's due to what one of my college professors told me, which was sentence fragments are a good thing, in the right context. In copywriting, as well as in many other forms of writing, sentence fragments are a lifesaver. Those fragments allow you to quickly and easily vary your sentence length. Plus, they can help your writing sound conversational. People talk in sentence fragments. Therefore, reading sentence fragments gives people the impression you're talking to them ? in your own voice and your own style.

Mind you he was not talking about doing so for actual papers or stories to be published, but rather he was pointing out how the tendency to do so is very natural and requires learning and training to overcome. So in the end, they didn't really make the story harder to read, I certainly had no trouble keeping up with what was going on. Though like Allamorph it did take a moment for me to realize what was going on with Lareth at the window. But he addressed that already.

The next point has to do with sentence length and for that I'm talking to you BKstyles. I'll use this sentence as an example: [quote name='BKstyles']Showing great promise and knowledge in the study of the stars and ancient space relics and phenomena in past symposiums and showcasing irrefutable proof of great findings that not even top scientists could interpret, Benjamin Crux and Jenna Meliana were chosen as representatives of the United Nations as part of the team to ensure a way to activate the gate within the Triangle.[/quote]Now to put it into prospective that sentence is a whooping 63 words long. So what's the problem with long sentences? One problem is they're tiring to read. By the time you've reached the end of a long sentence, you've most likely forgotten the subject/verb/point of the sentence. And I'm sure I'm not the only person who's too tired or too lazy or too busy to go back to the beginning of the sentence and sort the whole thing out.

So that was my biggest issue with your story, the longer sentences since they are annoying to deal with since they effectively throw you off track as far as following the story goes.

Now as for content. Both had their issues, which Sandy already addressed and since my thought mirrors what he just wrote I won't bother to repeat it. But the thing I liked best about yours Beth was that it had a good flow from start to finish.

I enjoyed yours BKstyles, but it was disappointing to get so far and not have any form of resolution, which is fine if one really is tuning into the next chapter, but not for a short story. My first thought at the end was to wonder if you forgot to post part of it.

Anyway, all in all, fun stuff and an enjoyable read from both of you. ;)
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[quote name='SunfallE][COLOR="goldenrod"']But as Allamorph pointed out it is my job to convey things to the readers and I have to agree, changing it to where I was Saria would have probably been better.[/COLOR][/quote]
[FONT=Arial]Not necessarily. What [I]I[/I] was talking about was more along the lines of a camera's perspective. You can see everything, and we have no idea what you're seeing, so if you want to tell us then tell us everything. The main character is who the main character is, and I am not one to force the issue in my fiction.

That said, the identity of the main character is not to be confused with POV. That is to say, you are not restricted to telling your story from your main character's perspective...which is why we have Third Person narration (limited [I]and[/I] omniscient). I tend to bounce around from character to character in my stuff, even though the main character is quite obviously only one of them.

Altering the story to make it "better" is kind of hazardous in my experience, especially if that's not the way you saw the story being played out. In this case, changing the main character from Lareth to Saria would have made it a different story altogether. So although I agree with [COLOR="DarkRed"]Sandy[/COLOR] that both characters were generic, I do not agree that telling it from another's perspective would have been more interesting. "The End of the Beginning" was Lareth's story, and not Saria's. Saria has her own to tell.

With that in mind, perhaps you might have given us hers?
[quote name='Sandy']Same goes for BK, Jenna would've been more original choice for a main character.[/quote]
Considering what he gave us, I can't say that she [I]wasn't[/I] the main – only that Benjamin got more "head time", so to speak. Perhaps the Captain was the main, or maybe that random Tannith person....

(Who [I]was[/I] she, anyway?)

Basically, I agree that the characters may not have been the most unique in creation. Still, I feel that holding gender against them, though understandable, is questionable since it may eventually lead to [I]female[/I] chauvinism, which is just as deplorable as the male version. Neither one is any better, so why raise the issue?

Besides, if the audience was able to demand their characters, pretty soon [COLOR="DarkRed"]DB[/COLOR]'d infect everything with wanton orgy-instigators in the most random spots imaginable! (I think I might be picking on him a little much lately...but you get my point.)



[quote name='BKstyles][FONT="Tahoma"']It's not that i'm not willing to admit that I can be wordy at times, but it seems the issue your alluding to is more about an idea being conveyed in more words then necessary to the minimum required.[/FONT][/quote]
I know I didn't give you anything to work off of. I know. I – it – it's just – I'm [I]really[/I] uncomfortable doing what I would need to do. My desire to assist is in full-out war with my sense of tact right now, and so I am impassed. I can't give you any more than I did. I can't.

Also, remember that "selection type" can fall under the "How Well It's Written" category, and usually does. Professional orchestra auditions have been won and lost by rhythm values, stylistic interpretations notwithstanding, and the same applies in this field. I mean, if I hadn't commented and caused you to point out the excerpt angle, [COLOR="DarkRed"]Sandy[/COLOR] might have docked you hard. He took your interpretation into account afterwards, but I'm not certain I would have.

I'm just saying that in scenarios like these, friendly or no, guidelines aren't meant to be taken like the Pirate's Code, ya dig? (^_^) It's better for you that way.
[quote name='SunfallE][COLOR=Goldenrod']So even if only in short notes, a huge percentage of what I write starts on paper and then moves completely to PC. [/COLOR][/quote]
I suppose that just means that you're not used to spotting those types of errors. That's cool. That's fixable over time. I was just worried that you straight-typed the whole thing, as I know some people do and as I have done on occasion. Going from paper first takes longer and lets you (or me, rather) edit as you go, and then you get to edit again when you make the hard copy. I still have material that I saw for the P. and never used because I straight-typed each post, did a cursory spelling check, threw it onto the boards, and went to bed. Barely any editing at all, and I think it shows.

But, yeah, just go back and look for those sentences that seem to want something in front of them, and usually they need to go with the preceding sentence. (The [I]technical[/I] term is "subordinate clause", but I always found that too unnecessary a mouthful of a phrase to worry about.)

[QUOTE][I][COLOR=Goldenrod]It is, I just missed tagging it when I posted the story. ^_~[/COLOR][/I][/QUOTE]
I thought as much. ;)[/FONT]

[FONT=Arial][B]Edit:[/B]
[quote name='Rachmaninoff']However I will touch on the fragmented sentences issue you had with your story Beth. And that's due to what one of my college professors told me, which was sentence fragments are a good thing, in the right context.[/quote]
First off, [U]fragment[/U]. :p

Second, [COLOR=DarkRed]Rach[/COLOR]'s completely right. Unfortunately, fragments are most effective in dialogue, and to make them fit in narration mandates that one knows when to recognize and avoid them. In other words, once you know how to get [I]rid[/I] of them, [I]then[/I] you can put them back in where they'll work.

(There's a fragment in my main post....)

Third, and a separate issue altogether, "due to" is a very stale phrase, and is heavily overused.

Just sayin'.[/FONT]
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[COLOR="Indigo"]Lets see, where to begin...I'll try to avoid rehashing what others have already said, but I'm sure I'll do so just the same so bear with me on this. I'll start with you Beth. Overall you have a good concept that starts off well, has an unexpected middle and finishes off nicely. It was interesting to read from start to finish.

Now as for the idea of changing things, I agree with Allamporph, it is Lareth's story regardless of any suggestion that the character lacked originality. If you were to improve it I would stick with fixing the prospective issue with introducing Lareth and the overall grammar issues. Though I wouldn't ask me for any help, I have the same issue with fragments that you do and rely on assistance with my school work whenever a paper is required.

Now aside from those issues, if you really wanted to improve it as far as making it easier for others to understand, include footnotes with how you came up with the concept. Where the idea came from, in this case a dream you had, and then proceed to explain what you left out, what got added, etc. But definately don't change the characters around. ;) But Author notes at the end? That would be fun to read.

BKstyles, I have the same issue with your story that everyone else did, it wasn't a short story. Regardless of the disclaimer you brought up to Allamorph: [quote name='BKstyles]They will be judged on how well they represent the genre, their creativity, and overall how well written their story is.[/quote]There's no getting around the premise or rather statement here:[quote=BKstyles]SunfallE and BKstyles will offer their versions of a [B]short story [/B']following the mutually agreed guidelines[/quote]That both of you would be presenting a [I]short story[/I] that would be [I]judged[/I] upon those [I]merits[/I] you listed. That guideline is every bit as important as the other that you brought up in your response to Allamorph. And I can't help but feel like you are justifying your choice to essentially ignore the stance that it would be a short story as if the other should make that redundant. In my mind, it's simple, you gave a guideline and then you failed to follow it. However, keep in mind I'm not saying that you are trying to justify it, only that it comes across as if you are. Just to be clear on that since I realized you might think I'm accusing you of doing so when that's not the case. Anyway...

In that respect your story falls short in my opinion. Regardless of how well written it is. I was expecting a short story instead of a cliff hanger that had no real resolution. I was not interested in tuning in next week. The more I read the more I came to realize that your story would not be short. It was, to be frank, a bit annoying since I already had expectations before I started reading.

I also see the same problem Rach mentioned in regards to sentence length. Long sentences make it harder to read. A guideline I've often followed is any sentence that is longer than 30 words needs to be broken up into two or three sentences. It's easier to read and if done well you can get the same point across just as effectively, if not better than the original lengthy sentence did.

In the end I enjoyed both stories. And though Rach and Allamorph did not mention it, I will. If I were to choose a winner, my choice would mirror Sandy's. [/COLOR]
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Hmmm... I was really hoping to see that the other judges had commented by now since I've been very curious to see how this finally turned out. That and I wanted to comment after the final decision so I could congratulate the winner. Anyway...

I'll start with your story Beth. I'm going to leave the grammar out since it's been long enough for me that I wouldn't even know enough to catch the mistakes. I certainly didn't notice all the fragments Allamorph pointed out. Probably because a slight change in punctuation would have made them whole sentences instead of fragments. I did have a little trouble figuring out what was going on at the beginning with Lareth, but once I sorted that out the story flowed pretty well.

Overall I found the whole concept extremely fascinating and I couldn't help but wonder how something like that would look if it were a short film or movie. If only to see that flat world with the strange forcefields separating the sections to the bizarre structures that someone before them built to avoid the rains or rather the cleansing process which was suppose to remove those who were not suppose to be there. And most definitely the final city Lareth found himself in at the very end, that I would love to see.

But what fascinated me the most was the concept of the '[I]old grounds[/I]' as the creature put it. And the idea '[I]where all life started before being set lose[/I]' it had me thinking of an alternate view to the garden of Eden if you will. The whole thing, even how the '[I]creature[/I]' gave Lareth no real answers was not only compelling but almost a bit terrifying to imagine. It was an ending that fits because as your story is called: "The End of the Beginning" There really is no end.

In the end it reminded me of some of the Alfred Hitchcock movies I've watched, a bit bizarre, but on some level, surprising you with the ending. After all that had happened, that was not what I was expecting. Which made it all the more enjoyable.

[CENTER]---------------------------------[/CENTER]
BKstyles, or Matt, if that's alright with you. ;) Your story like others have mentioned did drag me down with those long sentences. Punctuation is the equivalent to taking a breath or a pause when speaking. So mentally, it is confusing since your mind is expecting that pause. So when it doesn't happen, it's very distracting. I did, on several occasions, have to go back and reread a section to make sure I was getting what you were saying.

Now I can understand that you may have no trouble with it, but it's your story, you know what's going to happen so those unnatural lengthy sentences probably did not cause you to mentally go, huh? But as Crystia put it, anytime something is more than 30 words long, it needs to be reorganized. That's a lesson I too learned from my teacher so many years ago as well as the lesson to organize your words to accommodate your readers and not yourself. This does not require dumbing down your work but rather changing the format to fit into what most people are use to reading.

Now as for the story, it does fit the theme really well. It's very sci-fi in nature and in many ways it reminds me of all the shows I grew up on. The story was interesting and fun to read. However, I did not like that it was not a short story. It felt like we never got to know what was going on with this race that was intent on destroying humankind. What confused me the most was this:
[INDENT]Eventually, after several futile attempts to match the Vespas in strength, portions of Earth were used as further examples of their power. Parts of the Middle East, Africa, the states of the central United States and eastern Russia were all attacked from space and left in ruin.[/INDENT]
I did not understand why a race so intent on our destruction simply fired warning shots so to speak since the story is painting them as a force that is more interested in our utter annihilation. There was so much left unsaid in the first chapter, and it ended with no resolution but rather a [I]see you next chapter[/I] framework.

So though I think you too have a great story, it really isn't suited to be a short story at all. I think that really hurt in the sense that you were trying to get enough details in there to tell the story when it's obvious that it requires far more than 7-8 pages in word. It felt as if it was unnaturally stuffed with details.

In the end, though I did enjoy it. I'd certainly like to see it re-written without the restraints since that first chapter needs to be fleshed out to represent what you truly were trying to tell.

Anyway, overall I enjoyed both stories. :catgirl: And congratulations in advance to whoever the judges finally choose.
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[FONT=Arial]Hi. Jumping in again.
[quote name='Aaryanna_Mom']Hmmm... I was really hoping to see that the other judges had commented by now....[/quote]
Indeed.

In light of recent comments, I feel like [COLOR="DarkRed"]BK[/COLOR] needs some defending. So here we go.
[QUOTE][I]But as Crystia put it, anytime something is more than 30 words long, it needs to be reorganized.[/I][/QUOTE]
Eh? What's this about a word limit? I find it extremely difficult to believe that any one sentence, simply because it is somewhat lengthy, can end up tiring the reader to the point that they can no longer recall what the sentence was originally supposed to be about. (Again with my facetiousness.) I agree that perhaps one should consider reconstructing [I]long[/I] sentences, but I sincerely doubt that one can place a definite number to the appropriate word count of a given sentence. Also, points are not always best expressed in two or three breaths. Some require that only one be used, so as to achieve the desired effect.

As to the sentence in question,...
[QUOTE][I][FONT="Tahoma"]Showing great promise and knowledge in the study of the stars and ancient space relics and phenomena in past symposiums and showcasing irrefutable proof of great findings that not even top scientists could interpret, Benjamin Crux and Jenna Meliana were chosen as representatives of the United Nations as part of the team to ensure a way to activate the gate within the Triangle.[/FONT][/I][/QUOTE]
...it's basically fine. I could tweak it a bit, to perhaps get it to flow better, but that's about it. And [COLOR="DarkRed"]Rach[/COLOR], the point/subject/verb/main-thingummy was at the [I]end[/I] of this one.... :animeswea

Right. [I]*waits [U]impatiently[/U] for [COLOR="DarkRed"]Revelation[/COLOR] and [COLOR="DarkRed"]Ezekiel[/COLOR]*[/I][/FONT]
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[quote name='Allamorph'][FONT=Arial]First off, [U]fragment[/U]. :p

Third, and a separate issue altogether, "due to" is a very stale phrase, and is heavily overused.

Just sayin'.[/FONT][/QUOTE]So shoot me. I never said I actually knew how to use them effectively. :p Also... [I]due to[/I]... it gets the job done doesn't it?[quote name='Allamorph;784902][FONT=Arial]Eh? What's this about a word limit? I find it extremely difficult to believe that any one sentence, simply because it is somewhat lengthy, can end up tiring the reader to the point that they can no longer recall what the sentence was originally supposed to be about. (Again with my facetiousness.) I agree that perhaps one should consider reconstructing [I]long[/I] sentences, but I sincerely doubt that one can place a definite number to the appropriate word count of a given sentence. Also, points are not always best expressed in two or three breaths. Some require that only one be used, so as to achieve the desired effect.[/FONT][/QUOTE]Perhaps you find it difficult to believe since you've moved past the point where something like that throws you off. *poke* And mind you that word limit is just a standard that's thrown out there. Not an indication that BKstyles actually has to follow it. I promise that my intent, as I'm sure the others is as well, is not to gang up on BKstyles at all. The point of constructive criticism, is to point out what you see as awkward. ;) [[SIZE="1"]it doesn't mean you're right[/SIZE]][QUOTE=Allamorph'][FONT=Arial]And [COLOR="DarkRed"]Rach[/COLOR], the point/subject/verb/main-thingummy was at the [I]end[/I] of this one.... :animeswea

Right. [I]*waits [U]impatiently[/U] for [COLOR="DarkRed"]Revelation[/COLOR] and [COLOR="DarkRed"]Ezekiel[/COLOR]*[/I][/FONT][/QUOTE]You've lost me again. I wasn't just talking about where it was in the sentence per se, but rather that by the time you got to the end you were wondering if you missed something on the way to get there. :p I didn't explain that clearly enough, sorry.

And yes... *pokes Ezekiel and Revelation* I too would like to hear your thoughts on the matter.

*pokes BKstyles* You are going to finish the story, right? [SIZE="1"][is too lazy to reread the thread to see if he's already said he will[/SIZE]]
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[FONT="Tahoma"]Well thanks for everyone's comments whether they were misunderstanding me, critisizing me, defending me, or enjoying the story. I think it's safe for now to leave it at that. I'm more than fine with everything as long as everyone has enjoyed the story overall and only see a problem with the story not fitting the established format. I care very little about having it judged on a technical point of view and have pretty much achieved my ultimate goal here.

Again, i will be continuing it as well as elaborating on it. Hopefully i'll have the time to do so relatively soon since i'm still in that motivational stage so to speak.

As for the judges, considering everything that has been said in this thread already i'm sure the decisions are predictable enough, but still I too share the impatience of everyone else. Afterall, it wouldn't look good to continue on with the trend if these duels never reach an official conclusion.[/FONT]
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[COLOR="Indigo"][quote name='Allamorph;784902][FONT=Arial]In light of recent comments, I feel like [COLOR="DarkRed"]BK[/COLOR] needs some defending. So here we go.[/FONT][/QUOTE]Don't be silly, BK's writing skills stand well enough that they require no defense. lol The comments were tainted by the format presented for the challenge and nothing more. I think you're reading too much into it Allamorph. ;)[QUOTE=BKstyles'][FONT="Tahoma"]Well thanks for everyone's comments whether they were misunderstanding me, critisizing me, defending me, or enjoying the story. I think it's safe for now to leave it at that. I'm more than fine with everything as long as everyone has enjoyed the story overall and only see a problem with the story not fitting the established format. I care very little about having it judged on a technical point of view and have pretty much achieved my ultimate goal here.

Again, i will be continuing it as well as elaborating on it. Hopefully i'll have the time to do so relatively soon since i'm still in that motivational stage so to speak. [/FONT][/QUOTE]I sincerely hope you aren't taking the criticism that resulted over the format too seriously. In no way does it reflect on the actual story. When I said I enjoyed it, I meant it. Now if I'm misunderstanding you, since you seem annoyed, then by all means dismiss this post. But if you are annoyed... I wanted to clear that up since putting that aside, it was fun to read. Also, I am just a tad confused here, surely both of you expected to be critiqued? Just saying. ;)

That and I sincerely hope you do post the rest, after all, I do want to know what happens. lol[/COLOR]
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[quote name='indifference'][COLOR="Indigo"]I sincerely hope you aren't taking the criticism that resulted over the format too seriously. In no way does it reflect on the actual story. When I said I enjoyed it, I meant it. Now if I'm misunderstanding you, since you seem annoyed, then by all means dismiss this post. But if you are annoyed... I wanted to clear that up since putting that aside, it was fun to read. Also, I am just a tad confused here, surely both of you expected to be critiqued? Just saying. ;)

That and I sincerely hope you do post the rest, after all, I do want to know what happens. lol[/COLOR][/QUOTE]

[FONT="Tahoma"]Of course I expected to be critiqued, requesting a panel of judges would be silly if the case was reversed. I was sincere in my last post as it pertains to being content with the way things have turned out since the only negative critisism i've received has been about the format rather then the contents of the story itself. There's no need to read much more into it than that.

If i am to be annoyed, it's only at the concern that the fact that my story failed to fit the traditional means of the format is causing too much of a distraction from the ability to enjoy the story for what it is. But since nobody has said anything of that nature, it's an unfounded concern thus far.

As for your first comment, critisism is meant to be taken seriously no matter what kind it is. A writer writes for his readers, so if he does not listen to them then what audience has he then. If i simply discard the fact that something either rubbed the wrong way or hit the spot just right, I miss out on crucial points of required improvement and opportunites to enhance or keep steady my own pieces of work.

[/FONT]
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[COLOR="Indigo"][quote name='BKstyles'][FONT="Tahoma"]If i am to be annoyed, it's only at the concern that the fact that my story failed to fit the traditional means of the format is causing too much of a distraction from the ability to enjoy the story for what it is. But since nobody has said anything of that nature, it's an unfounded concern thus far.[/FONT][/QUOTE]Ah, I see. Rest assured, even if that was what I was vocal about, it did not distract from the story itself. Only in that I was wanting the story to be resolved to learn more about this mysterious race the Vespas that was so intent on conflict with mankind.

So in a sense that really is the complaint... that one wants to read the rest of what happens. Instead of being left wondering how they managed to deal with the guardian that blocked their path. That and what I said about sentence length still holds true. [[SIZE="1"]whether or not I'm correct is, as Rach put it, irrelevant[/SIZE]]

Seriously though. Do post the rest. ;)[/COLOR]
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[SIZE="1"]I've decided to my judging as thus: I haven't read Sandy's post, so as not to be swayed by him, and I'm reading each story with a gap in between, like I would read a book. I read Beth's first, so I'll give my opinions on that immediately after finishing it. Once I've let my brain have a rest, I'll read BK's, and edit in my final judgement. I think this will be better for myself, and more fair. I have a short attention span when it comes to reading, so this way I'll be bale to devote myself equally to both pieces, and won't be influenced by one or the other.

[B]The End of Beginning:[/B]

My first thought was that I was being introduced to a fantasy story, what with the names and the rain that seemed quite...earthly, or very LotR. I know this might sound silly to judge on immediately, but given that these are Sci-Fi stories, I would have liked something a little more fitting to tell me this was not of our world. Perhaps talking about the rain hitting the stark metal columns, or something as such.

I enjoyed your story, it was original, and it had a nice, clear ending. However, there were many sentences that I felt awkward reading, not just with grammar issues but the wording of them. There were repetitions of words (I believe 'bizarre' was one of them, and while I love that word it is a very harsh, unique word, so having it in the same paragraph more than once makes it stand out more than others.)

I also felt the bit about 'all forty seven ships' failing at the same time was a little silly and unnecessary. You put it in there and I expected to see why, that maybe the creatures beyond the puddles had been responsible for it. If they were, that didn't jump out at me, and I think it would have been better that, seeing as you were bringing this to a conclusion, to have simply stated that there were two ships that failed, or one large ship that crashed. It would seem more believable.

The creatures seemed very Dr Who to me. Fantasy again, but the steel collars and little metals wires were a nice touch to bring it back to being more technological.

With regards to general critique--I felt your description was a little weak in areas, not so much of the scenes but of the actions. The imagery I was bombarded with was fantastic: I had a clear image in my mind of Lareth's head bowed in the rain, his daughter falling, and his pain. That was beautiful. However, the words used to take me through his lurching away from the robed creatures, for example, seemed forced. I think it's my own preference, but I prefer not to be given everything in a story, as a reader, I like to be able to fill in some gaps myself.

Overall, I enjoyed the story and thought it had a nice conclusion with a reasonable explanation as to [I]why[/I] they had disappearances. My problem though, is that I should have felt sad for Lareth, but finished reading without much of a thought on what had happened to him. I'm guessing, however, that your restriction on length didn't help with this.

I'll read BK's before I go to bed and have my final critique up then. I know I sound very harsh, and I'm sorry for that, but it's how I critique even my own writing. ^_^;

[B]Alpha and Omega:[/B]

I realise you went with a different approach to Beth, and I don?t mind the fact that you left it open for more development. However, I think it went against you, Matt, with regards to how the characters were put across.

First of all, your writing style was a little messy. Your first paragraph alone appeared to switch between tenses, which I noticed happening throughout the writing. While the words themselves were fine, they seemed a little jumbled and I was focussing less on what information I was being given and figuring out what tense you were writing in.

I have to compliment you on sticking quite loyally to what we know as typically sci-fi. A good reason for being in space, names that seemed to fit the military purposes, and the ships names as well as your subject specific language was all used very well. However, part of me is afraid you stepped too far past this and into the realm of stereotypical genre. Lots of it was predictable, and this is where I see, again, you may have shot yourself in the foot by choosing to do more of a chapter of one larger story rather than something self-contained.

I liked Ben; I thought he was a nice guy. It adds more emotion to have a family left behind and the letter to start everything off with was a nice touch. However, Jenna frustrates me. Not because of her personality, but because of how she seemed too two-dimensional. It was as though she were there to simply have a female lead.

I enjoyed the story, it had a quick pace and flowed well enough, leading the audience through each series of events. However, you suffered the same as Beth did when it came to describing actions. Telling me that Jenna looked down at the table, looked up again, and other such things I find unnecessary. The reader should have the freedom to picture those little things in their mind; otherwise it feels as though we?re reading stage directions.

Overall, however, I liked it. I think it has good potential and if I were judging for the long term I?d say I?d have less to pick at. Most of these criticisms come more from the outline of this competition.

[B]In Conclusion:[/B]

It?s very hard for me to decide a winner. Both of your had faults when it came to the way in which the story was written. Beth, I found your story more unique and far more imaginative, however, if I didn?t know this was supposed to be a sci-fi themed contest, I would never have put yours in that category. Matt, you clearly stuck faithfully to the genre but weren?t quite as original, sticking to your generic basic plotline of humans vs aliens.

When it comes down to it, my vote goes to [B][COLOR="SeaGreen"]BK[/COLOR][/B], simply because I feel he managed to represent the genre better in an enjoyable way. This really was very hard, though.

(Sorry for writing so much, both of you. This is what comes from studying English Language Analysis in college)


(Also, if I've repeated what anyone else has said, my apologies, but I didn't read other replies because I didn't want my opinions changed because of them)[/SIZE]
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[COLOR="goldenrod"]Well I was planning on waiting to give my opinion until after the final vote was given, but I changed my mind since I want my thoughts to be known before the winner is chosen. Now I can't claim that I haven't read any of the other posts since I'm working on an article for this for the OB newspaper, so I've been following this from the very beginning. Reading each post as it went up. And I can tell both of you, my opinion is never swayed by what other think or how things are set up. Just go and read how I choose between the two remaining characters in the Maze if you don't believe me. I don't like being forced into choosing in a similar manner. However, in the end, I will be supporting the main thoughts that seem to be leaning towards Beth's story. And to explain why, I'll tell what I think about both stories, starting with your's Beth.

Now for starters, I'm going to ignore the grammar issue, since even though I love to write and read, I struggle with it just like you do. I find math and science far more interesting than understanding English. So I didn't even notice the fragmented sentences other than a few of them. I did struggle briefly to figure out just what was going on with Lareth at the very beginning, but once that was clear I had no trouble following along.

One of the things I found most fascinating was the very universe or dimension that Lareth and the others found themselves in. Now I have to poke you for this Ezekiel as well as anyone else who seems to have missed it, but it's crystal clear as to why all of the ships failed at the same time, why such a strange flat world existed, why Lareth could fall through space and yet live and most importantly, why there was such an unusual city in the center of that location. Something that is clear from this segment here:[quote name='SunfallE'][FONT="Comic Sans MS"][COLOR="goldenrod"]?[B]They are the souls of all sentient life forms. They are the life force that [U]powers the universe, as you understand it[/U]. When they lose the connection to the physical world they come here.[/B]?

?[B]Like the[U] rift that your ships fell through,[/U] all energy returns to the universe in the same manner when the time is right. If not for landing in one of the old grounds you would have come here immediately.[/B]? [/COLOR][/FONT][/QUOTE]I didn't quote all of it, but merely the part that shows how they ended up in a reality where the laws of the universe are not the same. A case of E=mc² now being switched to E=mc² only that 2 becomes a 4 or m stands for something else. I'm sure you get the point. ^_~ But then I love science so the idea of being in a dimension where things operate differently is something I find extremely fascinating. But my point is, yes upon that context, the idea of all the ships failing at the same time is believable. :p [[SIZE="1"]basic science really[/SIZE]]

Anyway, now that I'm done being annoying over the technical bit there, I'll move on to the content as far as Lareth goes. In short, I loved it. I enjoyed the descriptions since they focused so well on what Lareth was feeling/experiencing as well as what he was seeing. Going back and forth between hope and despair as well as fear and fascination. I kept hoping for him to find more than the center of that reality and the realization that he would never be with his family again in his current cycle of life.

And aside from being creeped out by the moment when Lareth was pulled under and the shock of seeing his daughter at the end before his memories were taken away, I kept hoping for a happy ending even though the ending was more fitting to what was going on. I find myself feeling bad for Saria who has been left behind, not knowing what happened to either one of them. And in the end, by far my favorite aspect of the story is how it didn't stick with the traditional or more expected Sci-Fi format. I was expecting a space ship type deal and instead got the alternate reality/existence in the universe deal. Great fun! I love it when a story surprises me. :catgirl:

[CENTER]****************************************[/CENTER]
Okay and now for your story BKstyles. Like the grammar issue with Beth, I intend to ignore the format as well as the issue over whether or not the sentences were too long. [[SIZE="1"]yes I think a few of them were, but not enough to distract me all that much[/SIZE]] Anyway....

Putting that aside, the very first thing that threw me off about your story was the similarity to the name of the ship: [U][I]The ship known as the [B]Velpecula[/B][/I] [/U]and the name of the aggressor in this story: [U][B][I]Vespas[/I][/B] [/U]That's a beef I have with any story since it's too easy, for me that is, to get the names mixed up. I honestly had to re-read that to keep things clear as to what was going on. As well as who was who.

I also struggled with this thought as well:

[INDENT]Eventually, after several[B] futile attempts to match the Vespas in strength[/B], portions of Earth were used as further examples of their power. Parts of the Middle East, Africa, the states of the central United States and eastern Russia were all attacked from space and left in ruin.[/INDENT]
Primarily since you started right off from the get go indicating that their attempts to match them were futile, so why did they even leave anyone alive? And secondly, it's just a bit to pat in my opinion that they had the possible knowledge to save themselves at just the right moment. [U][I]The Summer Triangle. [/I][/U] Perhaps you could have introduced the idea that they were studying it already? And then were later confronted by the knowledge that the warning about saving themselves was a harsh reality? Perhaps if you introduced that first and then the fact that humankind was under attack it wouldn't seem so pat per se.

The second thing I did not like was this: [I][U]The halls of the Velpecula resembled something out of a sci-fi movie.[/U][/I] I would have liked to see your own description of the ship instead of alluding to others who have done so before.

I also feel like the story was rushed, and that might have to do with the limitation put on it, since it really is a story with a lot more to be told. And perhaps you will when you post it separately, I certainly hope there will be more to clearly paint just what is going on since it felt like their confrontation was too soon. But again that's just fine for an opening chapter. ^_~ It even makes the cliff hanger ended acceptable. :p Provided you actually post that second chapter.

I have other things I did not care for but since they fall under what my Mom already said in terms of too much being stuffed into the first chapter... I'm not going to detail them out here. I'll save that for when you post it again. And in the end I did enjoy it so I'll be looking for the rest when you post it. :catgirl:

And that sums up what I thought. Considering what's been said so far, I certainly hope no one takes it personal. Also... regardless of who Revelation finally chooses, both stories were fun to read and that makes both of them winners in my opinion. ^_~[/COLOR]
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  • 1 month later...
[size=1][color=#8B008B]To the other judges and to the writers, I apologize for my overly late judgment. External factors have disabled me from giving the two stories a proper read and a proper judgment. However, I’m here now and ready to judge. Now then, let’s get on with the judging.

[B]The End of the Beginning:[/B]
This story didn’t pull me in as I hoped it would in the beginning. I found that the first paragraph was a bit of a mouthful to read and it didn’t flow well. It sounded choppy and felt like bits and pieces were just stuck together to create that paragraph. There were also some parts in the story that did that as well. Now, I’m not sure if it was a writing technique to add to the effect of the story, but that’s just how I saw it.

Going towards the end, I couldn’t help but notice that there were vague points in the story. There wasn’t much detail about the place Lareth was taken to or about the things that were there. It felt bland and didn’t give me much imagery to work with.

Now, as far as character analysis goes, Lareth was a static character. He didn’t show any signs of change in his personality or mentality, which made it difficult for me to connect with him. I understand that this was an abridged version of your story, but Lareth could have grown positively or negatively within that period. Not only that, you could have also added to his character by going in-depth about his suspicions of the rain and how people choose to ignore the disappearing people as if it were an everyday thing.

Overall, the imagery of your story was fabulous- a bit wordy but still good. You did well with the interactions of emotion and to show how Lareth acted during certain events. The ending was good as well, what with the explanation of the in-between realm and the zombie-like people who live there. I was pleased to find that there weren’t any voids within the story and if there were, you filled it in a way that brings the story back together.

[B]Alpha And Omega:[/B]
This story, in contrast to Beth’s, was more Sci-Fi. It gave me a sense of setting and plot. However, I felt that the story may have been a bit too stereotypical Sci-Fi. It didn’t detract anything but it may have overpowered the story a bit and in a way made it seem like a TV show; which isn’t bad, mind you. Just that, for me, it started to fall away from the human imagination and more into

On a more conventional note, your grammar wasn’t half-bad. There were a few mistakes, but none that made your story seem unreadable or drastically appalling to look at. I did notice, though, that your paragraphs were very wordy. In a few of them, it seemed like you were detailing about almost everything and I had to re-read a few times. It’s good to have detail and florid writing, but too much of it can detract from what you really want to say.

I really enjoyed the plot of your story. It had a lot of character interaction, which was different from Beth’s story. It really put a perspective on what kind of person your main character was and how he would react in certain situations. It goes well for him becoming a dynamic character, making the readers grow and shrink as he grows and shrinks throughout the story.

Overall, [B]Alpha and Omega[/B] was a wonderful piece to read, granted I had to re-read a few paragraphs to understand what was going on. But it was interesting and it gave me back that want to watch Sci-Fi shows all over again. I also enjoyed the scientific names you’ve put into the story. It really made it seem more realistic.


[B]Conclusion:[/B] After thoroughly reading and picking apart your stories, I enjoyed both of your stories. Both did have their mistakes but they were surely overlooked when other factors were put in. However, I can’t choose both as a winner so I’m going to have to go with [b]BK[/B]. I found that he brought more of the sci-fi genre to life and although [B]The End of the Beginning[/B] had sci-fi material, it was more Fantasy in my POV. So, BK’s [B]Alpha and Omega[/B] gets my vote.


Again, I really apologize for this long-awaited and extremely late post. Shun me, stone me, whatever. I really do apologize.[/size][/color]
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[quote name='Revelation'][size=1][color=#8B008B]Again, I really apologize for this long-awaited and extremely late post. Shun me, stone me, whatever. I really do apologize.[/size][/color][/QUOTE]No offense, but I'm sure I'm not the only one who has lost interest in this due to the delay. XP I'm not one of the authors and I found it annoying as hell. [spoiler]feel free to be annoyed, I'm just being honest here[/spoiler]

Anyway, congratulations Matt, also... Are you still planning on putting up more? Though considering how this pretty much died I have my doubts about that.

If I wasn't so terrible at writing myself, I'd attempt to challenge someone to a duel, but honestly. I'd just get clobbered. lol That and I've no interest in waiting forever for a judgment. *shrug*
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[FONT="Tahoma"]Are people still posting in this thread? lol

Anyway, I appreciate your comments more than you may understand Revelation. Out of all the judges you have probably seen my entry for what it is the most appropriately. Though I did not expect this challenge to actually come to an official end after a while :p.

A great big thank you to Beth for being my opponent, it didn't look too good for me after all those unofficial judgements and commentaries so I am a bit surprised that i ended up getting majority vote.

[b]To Rach:[/b] Suppose one of these days I may put a little something together, but I have far too many other ideas I'd prefer to work on at the moment.[/FONT]
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[COLOR="DarkRed"][FONT="Lucida Sans Unicode"][quote name='Rachmaninoff']No offense, but I'm sure I'm not the only one who has lost interest in this due to the delay. XP I'm not one of the authors and I found it annoying as hell.[/QUOTE]Well I [B]am[/B] one of the authors and I felt the same way. It's a pain, but life does that to you. Gets in the way of what you plan on doing.
[quote name='BKstyles'][FONT="Tahoma"]Are people still posting in this thread? lol

Anyway, I appreciate your comments more than you may understand Revelation. Out of all the judges you have probably seen my entry for what it is the most appropriately. Though I did not expect this challenge to actually come to an official end after a while :p.[/FONT][/QUOTE]That was my first thought, honestly, I figured this would never end. And to be frank, the delay took the fun out of it. I enjoyed all the comments that happened back when this was still fresh in people's minds a whole lot more.[quote name='BKstyles'][FONT="Tahoma"]A great big thank you to Beth for being my opponent, it didn't look too good for me after all those unofficial judgements and commentaries so I am a bit surprised that i ended up getting majority vote.[/FONT][/QUOTE]And the same goes for you as well. I think all the comments just showed how divided people's opinion was on the two stories and that makes me very happy, since both of them were well received. So congratulations! :catgirl:

Though I have no plans on doing this again anytime soon, and for the very same reason Rach mentioned at the end of his post. [/FONT][/COLOR]
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