[Poll] Vote: August '13 Flash Fiction Contest


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Post August 18, 2013, 10:41:28 PM

[Poll] Vote: August '13 Flash Fiction Contest

To vote, rate these stories on the form in the post following this one and send it to me via PM:


The challenge was to write a science fiction story involving pirates.



The following entries were received:



Wreckers

The problem with dealing in illegal tech was that the clientele were both undesirable and untrustworthy. William Pearce reflected on this sourly as he waited near the berth of Captain Goodwin's ship, the aptly named Reaper.

Get through this, he thought, and you can go home to Lara, to Earth, and never have to see this hell hole again.

Clovelly was a frontier system, right out on the edge. The edge of known space, the edge of civilisation, the edge of humanity itself. It was out on this edge that Will reckoned a man could make his fortune, if he had the nerve for it.

"Change of plan, Mr Pearce", said Captain Goodwin by way of greeting as his men manhandled the goods from Will's truck into the Reaper's cargo bay. "I'll be needing your technical services for this voyage. You'll be rightly recompensed for your trouble."

"Why can’t Gao handle it?" Will asked, remembering the Reaper’s chief engineer, the man who had methodically examined the device when this deal had first been struck.

"He had an ethical disagreement with Sawad", said the Captain, nodding at his first mate. Sawad smiled like a shark, white teeth and hideous intent. Gao was dead, that was a certainty.

"My payment?" Will asked.

"In full when we return to port, plus a bonus. I give you my word", replied the Captain with a carnivorous grin.

Under Sawad's menacing glare Will had no choice but to followed the Captain's men into the Cargo bay.

-oOo-

Will stared out at the scattered rocks of the Stroma asteroid belt through the flight deck windows and shivered. Never ask why they want it and never get involved. Too late for that now. It was not hard to guess what Goodwin and his men wanted with a superluminal navigation beacon.

The Captain glanced his way and winked. "Not long now, Mr Pearce. Once our man at Launceston sends word, we'll be seeing action. The waiting is always the worst part."

The atmosphere was certainly tense. Goodwin's men were anxious and ill humoured, suited up and ready for egress down below. Will ran a system check on the beacon from the console, for the umpteenth time, and fidgeted.

The Captain stiffened, the blue light of his ear bud indicating an incoming communication. "Mr Pearce", he said, "power up the beacon if you please. Sawad, prepare the men."

In contrast to the frenetic bustle around him, Will activated the beacon with the merest touch of his fingers on the console in front of him. It began blasting out its navigation signal into the superluminal ether, drowning out the real beacon at the Launceston space port and sending false information to any ship bearing down on the Clovelly system.

It was over so fast, the eye could barely comprehend it. The wormhole opened five kilometres to port, inside the edge of the asteroid field. The ship transitioned into real space in a blink and collided with the icy rocks spinning out eternity there. The impact was massive. Will watched in horror as the fiery blooms burst across the ship's hull.

Captain Godwin grinned as he broadcast the doomed craft's SOS over the ship’s intercom.

"Mayday! Mayday! This is the Napoli. We have lost propulsion and life support. Require immediate assistance."

"Napoli, this is the Reaper, we are on our way to assist. How many crew and passengers. Over."

The relief in the man's voice was palpable. "Twenty-two crew and fourteen passengers. Over."

"Get everyone to your aft airlock", replied the Captain, "I'm sending crew over to assist. Prepare for docking and transfer. Over and out."

The clang of the Reaper's own airlock rang throughout ship as the Captain's men exited the Reaper. Will sat impotently and watched as they jetted towards the torn hull of the Napoli. The Captain put the view from Sawad's helmet camera up on a screen, and they watched in silence as the Napoli's airlock drew closer.

"Napoli, open the outer door", Sawad said over the radio.

The door cracked and brief burst of atmosphere vented into space before it slid smoothly into the hull. Rather than enter, as Will had expected, Sawad threw a satchel into the airlock and then quickly manoeuvred to one side. Will saw the camera shake and then gasped in disbelief as atmosphere, debris and human bodies burst out or the Napoli's airlock. Sawad had blown the inner door.

"Law of salvage, Mr Pearce," the Captain said as Will watched the crew and passengers of the Napoli writhe, then slowly becoming still as they floated away into the void. "No claim while an officer or passenger aboard lives."

-oOo-

The sound of a gunshot catapulted Captain Goodwin from his sleep. By the time he got to the cabin it had come from, Sawad was already there, his white teeth flashed their shark like smile but there was a hint of disappointment in his cold eyes. William Pearce lay dead upon his bunk, his brains sprayed across the bulkhead, the gun still clutched in his hand.

"Damn fool could have pierced the hull", the Captain grunted, checking the bulkhead for damage.

Something on the cabin’s comm terminal caught Sawad’s eye. He poked at it, bringing up the last message. A pretty girl’s face filled the screen.

"William, I can't wait any longer", she said into the camera lens, "I miss you so much and I couldn't keep this surprise until you got back." The camera shifted clumsily in her hand as she swivelled it to show the swelling bump of her belly then back to her face. "I've booked passage on the cargo ship Napoli. I hope you get this message before I arrive. Love you. See you soon!"

"Dump the body out the airlock", the Captain said, nodding at the corpse and yawning. “And keep this between ourselves, unless you want to split his share with the others.”

THE END



Family Business

Captain Paul de la Mere drummed his fingers on the worn-out upholstery of the arm of his command chair, watching the system drop-in point for ships inbound to a fuel depot located another two light-minutes in-system.

Paul's ship, the Irrational Object, was a stripped-down old freighter with no registration, no home-port, and no lawful business, hidden well away from the main route behind an asteroid, her engines and weapons at standby.

The scan officer turned and looked at him. "Captain, they're running pretty late -- "

A rainbow torus appeared at the drop-in point. Paul's fingers quit drumming and clenched. "There! Scan, confirm target; engineering, shields at full, engines to ready. Navigation, you have a course – ?"

"Aye, sir; ET to intercept, forty-six minutes."

Scan reported, "Target confirmed; Orion Foods flight 9062."

Paul grinned. "Excellent. Helm, engage course." He pushed the button for all-ship on his comm-pad. "Attention, crew – our meal ticket has arrived. Those of you on duty have about forty minutes to prep for action, and if all goes as anticipated, tonight we can have a Thanksgiving dinner!"

He could hear the cheers right through two pressure-doors.

###

"Engineering – ?"

"Weapons are charged, and the shields are still at full."

"Good. Signals, hail the freighter for me, please."

"Responding – " The screen showed a worried-looking woman in an Orion Foods captain's uniform.

Paul had the information from the auxiliary screen. "Good day, Captain Frazier. I am Captain Paul de la Mere of the Irrational Object, and we are here to relieve you of some of your payload. We just want some of your cargo, not all of it, and we'll leave you with the cash you're carrying to pay for the fuel you need. If you would be so kind as to come to a stop, we can proceed with the transfer and no one will be harmed. Please respond."

Frazier clenched her jaw, then sighed. "Very well." She turned to someone offscreen and said, "Helm, full stop."

Within moments, both ships were at a standstill, side by side. Paul said, "Thank you. Now, if you would, please open the second and third payload bay doors opposite us and push out two freight containers of foodstuffs from each. Let them drift clear and you can be on your way."

Frazier said, "All right . . . " She turned again and said, "Do it."

The external camera showed the payload bays opening on the near side of the Orion ship. Paul said, "No, Captain, the other side of the ship – "

The Orion Foods ship's payload bays did not hold freight containers. In the other screen, Captain Frazier stepped out of view, replaced by a stern-faced man in a Concordiat major's uniform. "Captain de la Mere, I am placing you and your crew under arrest for piracy. You will lower your shields and power down your weapons and engines at once, or be fired upon. Prepare to be boarded."

Paul sank back in his command chair in shock. "Aw, crap! "

The scan officer looked at him and said, "Our informant sold us out – "

Paul nodded, slack-faced, feeling much older than he had moments ago.

The Concordiat officer was saying, "Captain – how do you respond – ?"

Paul looked around the bridge at his crew. He waved a hand indistinctly. "Do as he says."

###

They didn't even handcuff him. He sat across the desk from the major, who was looking through the Irrational Object's history file. The major sat back and looked at Paul. "Your father ran a legitimate operation with this ship . . . what happened?"

"Got run out of business by the big conglomerates . . . after the Concordiat gave them a monopoly, of course . . . "

"I see . . . and, most of your crew are related – uncles, aunts, cousins – "

Paul shrugged. "It was a family business. Dad couldn't pay much. Nobody complained. It was doing all right. We were happy . . . then – "

"Yes. And your father refused the offer of a buyout, from – Consolidated Freight – ?"

"Yes. And three months later, he died."

"I'm sorry. And you're known for avoiding violence . . . "

Paul shrugged. "I don't think anybody should have to die just because we're hungry."

There was a knock, and the major looked up. "Yes, Chief – ?"

The CO stepped in with a data-pad. "The report you wanted on the pirate vessel, sir – "

"Thank you Chief. Is there anything else?"

"They're a pretty sorry lot, sir . . . water recycler's about shot, and . . . there's a lot of chronic malnutrition. Clean ship, though, sir, and – they've done an amazing job of keeping her maintained."

The major nodded. "Thank you, Chief; that will be all."

Paul spoke out of turn, his lower lip trembling. "That ship's our home . . . was . . . "

The major glanced at Paul and then studied the data-pad for a while. "Hunh . . . who's your engineer?"

"My uncle . . . he trades off with my daughter; they're both about equally good – he trained her."

"I see here she's married . . . "

"Yes sir . . . I wanted her to get out of this business and find a legitimate job, but . . . "

"She's not credentialed . . . tell me, Captain – could she pass a test?"

"Hell – she keeps that boat running – "

"Well. It seems to me you're a little behind on economic policy, Captain . . . "

"Sir – ?"

"Consolidated's monopoly's been broken up – there are trade routes open, looking for haulers. You could get your wish for your daughter . . . "

"Oh, gods . . . but – sir – ?"

"Yes – ?"

"Could we all just get a decent meal first?"

THE END



Tandoristé Sunset

S’bana heard a Spanish guitar playing in the background, felt the warm desert wind drift across her arms, tousling her hair.

“I’m home,” she said out loud, but there was no one there to hear her, no one there to answer. Gently, she opened her eye and squinted to bring the image she received into focus. Two of her fingers lay just inches from her. They were burned and bloody stumps and suddenly their former homes, the raw knuckles where they’d been attached before the blast, throbbed with pain.

“I’m not home,” she corrected her former assessment, noting the sweet sound of guitar playing was gone, a snippet of a dream left behind in her unconscious rambling.

She brought her left hand up and stared at it, noting the missing ring and pinkie fingers, thinking to herself, at least it was the left hand.

With a heavy grunt and a string of curses, she sat up and stared at the debris strewn all around her: sheets of metal, smoking machine parts, something that looked like a carburetor, something else that looked like a detached piston, wires, bolts and nuts, a whole field of metal pieces, reduced to scrap. Smoking, bent and misshapen scrap.

“Cap’n,” her ear piece crackled to life. “Captain S’bana!”

S’bana touched the earpiece and responded with a clipped, yeah.

“We’re picking up your signal over on…” the voice tapered off while its owner, her first mate, Jory Culhun consulted the computer screen, “Over on the desert moon, Tandoristé. What’s your status?”

“My ship’s blown to Gehenna!” S’bana answered. “What do you think my status is?”

“I meant your physical status,” Culhun said.

S’bana looked down and noted a deep gash in her chest, just above her left breast. She felt the wound with her intact hand, felt the breast and observed that other than the cut, everything seemed in order. From there, she checked her arms. They were sunburned, dried and ashy from exposure, but they seemed to be working fine. Her left hand hurt – and was missing two fingers – but other than that, her upper torso was good.

She pushed herself into a seated position and began examining her legs. The left one was scratched and scraped in several places, but also in working order. The right, her artificial was leaking oil from the hydraulic supports around the knee joint, but it supported her weight when she stood up on it.

“Capt. S’bana?” the voice pried again.

“I’m okay,” she sneered. “Lost a couple of fingers. That’s all.”

“And the shuttle?”

“Scattered all over the horizon,” she added. “Who shot me down?”

There was no answer for several seconds; so she repeated the question.

“Culhun!” she tried again.

Still no answer.

“Over the next hill, you will find a container filled with enough food for one moon cycle,” the first mate said. “And enough rum and whiskey to drink yourself into a stupor for nearly all of those days…”

S’bana gritted her teeth as she realized what the message meant.

“You can’t leave me here!”

“Assuming your weapons are intact, then you –“

“Culhun!” S’bana screamed.

“Can end your stay on Tandoristé sooner.”

“I will kill you for this,” the captain spit into the tiny plastic microphone wrapped around her right cheek. “I will find you and I will kill you!”

“Maybe,” Culhun responded. “But you’ve got to find a way off of Tandoristé first.”

S’bana looked around and saw the endless sea of golden sand stretching for miles in every direction. Dunes and hills drifted into more rolling dunes and hills with no land markers to plot a direction towards any point on the horizon.

“The Alliance moved its shipping routes to run parallel with the Ke’elan system,” Culhun continued. “Seventy light years away…”

His voice trailed off leaving a disturbing silence, interrupted only by the dry gusts of wind whipping through S’bana’s hair.

“And with the shipping,” Culhun finished, “The intergalactic pirates; with the pirates, anything resembling a patrol vessel. Your earpiece radio is a short-range and you said it yourself, the shuttle is ruined.”

S’bana furrowed her brow and clinched her fists. She was furious and she sensed that Culhun knew it, even from his vantage point back on board The Cutlass, the light cruiser that until just hours before, had been her ship.

“You are marooned, my dear,” Culhun stated the obvious. “I am captain of The Cutlass now.”

“Not for long,” S’bana said.

“Like you can do anything about it,” Culhun laughed.

“Not even pirates tolerate mutiny,” S’bana answered him. “And make no mistake, this is mutiny. You will die for this. Somewhere there is some person left who is still loyal to me, and when he or she hears what you’ve done, they will exact my vengeance.”

“Maybe,” Culhun agreed, “But that day will come long after your skeleton is rotted dry and covered with sand.”

The earpiece chirped and she knew the signal had been broken. S’bana cussed and flung the thing from her ear.

She surveyed the damage, noted the location of a few of the larger pieces of sheet metal, good-sized scraps that would make a lean-to shelter. She separated them from the rest of the debris, and in time slowly wandered over the hill, thinking about rum and hoping desperately that there was something, anything in the container to read. It would be a long thirty days if there wasn’t.

As she walked, she remembered the images from her dream, the barely lucid thoughts she had before she regained consciousness. She imagined the dusty outskirts of the little town near Monterrey, the place on Earth, where she first learned to fight, first learned the treacherous ways of men and boys. In her reverie, she heard again the guitarist picking the lines. Sweet lines filled with soft notes. “O Marisa” was the name of the song. She hummed it to herself as she trudged over the dunes in the direction of the life-preserving container.

THE END



THE XEBEC,
Lettre de Course,
A PRIVATEER’S VOYAGE


“The laws of heaven are the laws of nature, thus the laws of physics.”
TeknoRex


“Where the hell are those three contracts? They’re due for collection. I can’t do shit without them,” screamed The Big Boss. His eyes were fiery red.

“Boss, they were here a few days ago. I have all the others you wanted to review. The three you want are missing. The systems administrator says they were never inputted,” answered the leggy accountant in her thigh high boots and not much else, which is the way he liked her.

A dog, sleeping under the desk, opened one eye to see what all the noise was about.

“I inputted them myself. One was special, the best kind. It would make an angel cry. Damn,” cursed The Boss kicking the dog.

Wooooo,” it wailed. “Why me?”

“Cause you’re here and you’re my whipping boy. That was the deal.”
++++
Captain Kassyopia shot her navigator-gunner Venus a look and said, “Let’s get The Xebec out of here ASAP. We know where this soul is. His kid is safe and healthy. The tumor is gone. I don’t understand why we have to do this.” She pointed in an upward direction.

Venus stated the obvious, “We’re understaffed. There are so few of us that make the cut for soul-pirate-cum-privateer duty. Have you seen the shit that passes for moral behavior?”
++++
The Letters of Marque specified only certain types of contracts were to be pirated from The Big Boss; these were special. His ship, The Soul Scupper, was on the weapons screen of The Xebec. There was one soul in particular that they had to rescue from the Scupper.

The two soul-pirates, working under Letters of Marque and Reprisal, issued by TeknoRex, fired up The Xebec, passed instantly FTL, and then to hyper-tachyon speed. They had stolen the contracts with assistance from The Bosses’ dog, a bribe of dispensation. It was their duty to present the contracts and allow the intended victim to burn it. Most contracts were signed under extreme duress.

“Keep us cloaked and the Scupper’s com systems jammed until we come alongside,” commanded Kassyopia. “We have to make it quick and get out.”

“Eye sir,” Venus her mate acknowledged. They both loved the chase, and under Letters of Marque they had a legal basis for their “piracy”. They would still be fried by The Big Boss, if he ever caught them. This was better than sitting around working the gate with that bore Petra. Besides, they would be traded for one that The Big Boss wanted……..maybe.

TeknoRex loved them, this they knew, for their Letter told them so.

“We’ve got to grab this guy before the Boss’s accountant or systems admin figures it out. Even without a contract he could convince a rock to bleed.” Venus said staring at the cross hairs of her weapons pod.

“We have three of these special contracts. I took care of it,” stated Venus with her coy smile that made Kassyopia just weak in her knees.

“The guy with the kid with the brain tumor is our priority. We’ll free the others later. They’re on another ship.”

Looking at the crosshairs, and closing fast on the Scupper, which had not taken any evasive action, Kassyopia relaxed, just a bit, and continued, “We stole these documents. We erased the hard drive. If we’re caught it will worse than hell, Letters of Marque or not. I’m sure the data was backed up.”

Venus laughed, “I deleted that, and put a bug into the system that will freeze all hell up.”

Kassyopia said, “We have the contracts signed in blood. They override all. Once they’re burned the souls will be free. We have to get to this one now.”

“Closing on them,” reported Venus

Kassyopia gave her first mate a pat on her tush and kept her eye on the screens.
++++
“BOSS, a fast privateer has been detected leaving our control area. It seems to be flying a Letter of Marque from The One Above.”

“They stole our property. They’re pirates! What type of craft? I’ll fry their damned souls!” The Big Boss wasn’t going to let them get away with this. He didn’t care where in hell that LOM came from.

“It’s The Xebec, the fastest craft in all eternity. Boss, maybe we can NonLocalCom the Scupper and set a trap?”

The Big Boss grinned, “Yes let’s do that. We’ll surprise them and capture them too. There is no need to chase. But for the fun of it, send a pursuit anyway. Make it look like we are after them. They’ll never suspect. Go to the document back-up system. If we get there first the blood oath won’t matter. I’ll make sure of that.”

“Throw a few more million souls into the fires. I feel a bit chilly and it just warms my heart to think we’ll get these pirates.” With a grin that took over his whole face, he pointed to his accountant, “Sweetie, come here.”

The accountant smiled. She punched all the new orders into the computer, but the whole system froze. She decided not to say anything to The Boss. She’d reboot it after she did him. He’d be mellow for a while. What the hell was one soul or three? There was time. She worked her talents.
++++
Kassyopia ordered. “Uncloak.”

Then ship-to-ship nonlocalcom Kassyopia radioed, “This is the Captain of The Xebec to The Soul Scupper. Heave to and prepare to be boarded. We fly with a Letter of Marque and Reprisal from TeknoRex. Heave to or have your black hole propulsion imploded.”
++++
The locked up computer and jammed com systems prevented The Big Boss’s minions from setting a trap. The Soul Scupper was boarded and the lost soul retrieved. The Scupper was set adrift. The pursuit vessels arrived too late for the capture.

The Xebec, recloaked, transmigrated the soul to TeknoRex for eternal rest or rebooting.

“Captain?”

Kassyopia turned and saw her gunner in boots and a tie.

THE END



Gatcom Creek

Vellingham WA June 6th, 1999

It was no surprise when Sergio fell in love with Angelina Fellini with one glance, as she was the most beautiful woman in the world, and had been since her birth in 1721. A multitude of men had fallen hard for her over the past 278 years. What was surprising was that Angelina immediately fell in love with Sergio as well – much to the chagrin of her centuries-year-old father, Pepe’.

Of course she tried to keep her feelings under wraps as she and her father bought their coffee and sat down at a small wooden table with an inlaid chess board, but the truth was evident as soon as the father and daughter began to talk.

“This seems like such a nice little town,” she told her father. “Are you certain it will happen here?”

“Of course I’m certain. Mathematically, statistically, this town is out of luck.” He reached into his satchel and brought out a scrapbook filled with newspaper clippings. “In the past two years, three people have become multi-millionaires by winning the State lottery. That’s out of a town of 60,000.” He began pointing to the individual columns. “You know how it works – wherever there’s a glut of good luck, it sponges up the luck from everyone else around.

“I know! I know!” whispered Angelina. “That’s when we usually swoop in and take advantage of the ensuing disaster, stealing the survivors blind like pirates of the freaking Gulf Coast or something. Does it need to be this town – does it need to be now? It’s so quiet and peaceful here.”

“Too quiet, too peaceful for too long! We’ll be here to plunder whatever is left – so suck it up, Angie!”

Suddenly a man was standing beside the table, his arms at his side with open palms. “I don’t know how they treat women where you come from,” said Sergio, “but where I come from we talk to women quietly and with respect.”

The daughter’s face seemed to glow slightly.

“I wasn’t aware that I was talking so loudly,” said Pepe’, slowly looking up until he recognized the face of the interloper and sneered. “Ah Sergio! I should have known!”

The slightly overweight man with a full head of thick, curly hair pulled up a chair. “Pepe’ – how can you greet me in that tone of voice? There are only a few hundred like us in the entire world.”

“Angelina, this is my nemesis – Sergio Amdranica.”

“Pepe’. Nemesis?” sighed Sergio. “ Perhaps business rival would be a better term. We have sailed the energy of the lei lines for centuries, plundering what we could. But nemesis, Pepe’? Why pollute my image before your lovely companion…?”

“This is my daughter!”

“She is absolutely delightful, Pepe’. Perhaps the three of us could go hiking sometime. There are amazing parks nearby.”

The father was rabid. “You know I can’t – because of my bum leg!”

“How true, my old friend.” Sergio was quick to turn to the girl. “But this lovely creature might accompany me sometime. Preferably before the disaster.”

“How do you know about that, Sergio?”

“There’s a vacuum pulling in the most evil of souls. Honestly, I merely followed the wolves. There have been two serial killers arrested in this county in two years…amazing for a town of 60,000. It’s similar to the Albion Colliery explosion of 1894 – where your father and I first met. All I did was follow the wolf – they called him the Ripper – and wallah! – disaster.”

“Both of you are heartless pirates!” fumed the woman.

“I’m not appalled by the term, pirate, my dear. I take it as a badge of honor to be more cunning than the hapless souls around me.”

“And you may stick your nose in the air,” said the father, “but you’ve lived a comfortable life so far off the bounty I’ve provided, Angie”.

***
June 10, 1999 4:45 PM Gatcom Creek

Love had blossomed as love is ever apt to do, and Angelina and Sergio had spent every moment together in the past four days. Today was to be no different as the two escaped the watchful eye of her father by hiking at Gatcom Creek Park. On the way back from their hike, Sergio smelled something odd.

“Something’s wrong, Angelina. We’d better hurry,” shouted Sergio.

They hurried across the creek and were ascending the opposite side of the canyon when Angelina’s shoe got caught in a muddy branch.

“Leave it behind, my love,” begged Sergio. “Just pull your foot out and I’ll carry you up!”

Angelina did as directed, but she had twisted her ankle. The creek was turning a rainbow of colors as Sergio grabbed his love in his arms, carrying her upwards, although nearly passing out from the fumes.

They were nearing the top when they saw Pepe’ standing on the caverns edge. “Hurry! The disaster is upon us!”

Within 10 feet of the summit, Sergio began to pass out. He checked Angelina’s face, but she was already unconscious.

“Give her to me, Sergio! It’s time! If you love her – hand her to me!”

There was a desperate exchange of the precious cargo, and Pepe’ turned, running away from the site with his daughter in his arms.

5:02 PM

Sergio grabbed for a branch to pull himself over the edge of the cavern, up to safety. He felt air rushing upstream as if the cavern were inhaling, and then the fireball caught up with him as it raced 1.5 miles along the path of an underground gas line.

5:30 PM

Angelina awoke in the arms of Pepe’. The look on her father’s face told her Sergio was gone.

“Such is the life of pirates, lovers, and other fools,” he told her, stroking her hair. “We’ll leave this place soon, my lawyers are flying in as we speak. Soon, my dear, soon.”

Angelina could do nothing but fall into tears.

THE END



Challenge Across the Sea of Monsters

‘The existence of the sea means the existence of pirates’ , so an old proverb went. And space, too, held many opportunities for piracy.

Take Glox and Tlkox, for example. They were both pirates, space pirates, and they had been challenging each other for a very long time. The two took every opportunity to assault merchant starships that were in distress and never lost the chance to boast about their plunder - especially when the other fellow had been left empty-handed. Each of them also bragged when the other was forced to flee the imperial armed vessels that followed their energy traces across the asteroid belts - the authorities continuing to vow to bring their crews to justice, once and for all.

From ramming at FTL speed to maneuvering across the highly magnetic moons of Klotn, the two continued to try to best each other, in order to be seen as the most proficient space pirate captain. Now, after trying to prove for so many years that one or the other was more skilled by flaunting which prey was richer and more valuable, they seemed to have finally found a way to demonstrate their courage, and clearly reveal before their crewmembers’ eyes that only one of the two was the more capable pirate.

It’s uncertain if the original proposition came from Glox or from Tlkox, but the two captains eventually agreed on the terms. Actually, what had contributed to this final resolution was the fact that Glox had contracted a deadly illness because of a wondrous Klotn prostitute - so his days were numbered and there would not be much time left to resolve their ancient competition.

The choice of battlegrounds had not been easy, but one day they decided on their homeplanet, a distant world whose surface was made up of 90% water. This was because both of captains were Hatlox: very tall, greenish, three-fingered hairless reptilians with wide teeth, both hailing from Hatloxtev. Maybe there was no more satisfactory way to discover who the greatest pirate was, than to return to an old challenge the ancient sailors used when there was some dispute about their abilities and they wanted to know who the more courageous captain was.

So, they had landed their deft FTL pirate starships not far from an island that the earliest pirates used when on the run from the authorities. They had readied two archaic traditional wooden scows like those that had put to sea whenever such challenges took place during ancient times on planet Hatloxtev, before space travel was possible. Tiny sailing scows like these had been used mainly by the ancient pirates, and had significant advantages over the traditional deep keel sailing vessels that were common at that time, as keelboats were incapable of moving into shallow bays and rivers. On the orther hand, these smaller boats could be loaded and unloaded under different circumstances, as piracy needed versatility, certainly.

And the best location to have their race was in the middle of the Blue Ocean, where the so called ‘Sea of Monsters’ stretched. This was an area on Hatloxtev that was exactly what the name expressed: a small portion of that watery expanse that was full of many incredibly enormous water monsters living beneath the surface of the wave-filled area. These were really huge and very deadly to all the vessels that dared to cross that part of the Blue Ocean, because of the expansive caves that were hidden below the surface. These caverns were the best and only hiding place for their yearly egg-laying. So, what better place could there be to host a challenge like the present one?

A week after they chose the place, they were ready to begin and the selected five-member crews were onboard each scow and they were heading for the starting point, by means of the wide sail.

“See ya there!” Glox cried out in the distance, standing on his boat’s main deck.

“Only after I get there first!” the pirate captain named Tlkox replied in an unfaltering tone.

While the two boats sailed across the dangerous waves, a lot of monsters began surfacing, raising their heads out of the water and looking at the two small vessels. Now things were going to really become difficult. And interesting, too.

As his opponent’s scow was going further ahead and outdistancing Tlkox’s scow, there was a gurgling among the many waves, and then a Fldev, one of the most massive of those seemingly unending sea creatures, moved over the surface and got to the first small boat, quickly eating its hull in one bite!

And then the scow disappeared before the unbelieving eyes of the remaining crewmembers of dead captain Glox, who were watching the race on holoscreens. On the other side of the room, Tlkox’s men were enjoying the win, clearly.

On the main deck of the only boat left, an old gray-greenish seaman thought about a substance he had seen inside a container in the captain’s room, and thought that he knew what had happened: it was Jtnl! That was a substance that was produced by cleaning the tails of the most appealing and tastiest fish of all the creatures living in the water of the oceans throughout the whole planet.

So, that was it! This was why his captain had won the challenge, he was sure Tlkox had put some of that substance under the hull of his opponent’s scow so that it became an irresistible prey for those monsters. As his eyes turned to his captain, he raised a colorful finger showing some pieces of that liquid he had taken out of the container and he asked his superior, “Cheating?

The winning captain stared at his old trustworthy crewmember and simply sneered at him in return. “This challenge between pirates had gone on for too long, you know… There’s always a bigger fish, ” Tlkox replied “and there always will be one somewhere, you know…”

THE END

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Post August 18, 2013, 10:42:31 PM

Re: [Poll] Vote: August '13 Flash Fiction Contest

To vote, rate these stories using the form below with scores of 0-10 (in whole numbers) and send it to me via PM: (Copy it into memory, click the 'PM' button below my avatar (or depending on your board style, mouse over the green username by my avatar and a menu will pop up with an option to send a private message), paste the form in, & then fill in your scores.)

Categories:
1) What overall score would you give the story?
2) How good was the characterization?
3) How effective (or original) was the plot?
4) How clear was the setting to you?
5) How good was the use of dialog?
6) How well did the story meet or address the challenge as it was given?

NOTE: you must have posted at least one message before you can send a PM. Join in a discussion or just say hi in a thread before voting via PM. If I suspect a voter of being a false identity (i.e. a troll), I won't count their vote.

A challenge entrant who does not vote for the other stories will receive a 10% deduction in their own score at the time of contest close, and the other stories will be given marks equalling whatever their story's average is at the time of contest close.

Author scores for their own entry will not be counted.




Wreckers
1) Overall:
2) Characterization:
3) Plot:
4) Setting:
5) Dialog:
6) Challenge:

Family Business
1) Overall:
2) Characterization:
3) Plot:
4) Setting:
5) Dialog:
6) Challenge:

Tandoristé Sunset
1) Overall:
2) Characterization:
3) Plot:
4) Setting:
5) Dialog:
6) Challenge:

THE XEBEC, Lettre de Course, A PRIVATEER’S VOYAGE
1) Overall:
2) Characterization:
3) Plot:
4) Setting:
5) Dialog:
6) Challenge:

Gatcom Creek
1) Overall:
2) Characterization:
3) Plot:
4) Setting:
5) Dialog:
6) Challenge:

Challenge Across the Sea of Monsters
1) Overall:
2) Characterization:
3) Plot:
4) Setting:
5) Dialog:
6) Challenge:

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Post August 20, 2013, 09:33:00 PM

Re: [Poll] Vote: August '13 Flash Fiction Contest

Well shiver me timbers! One clipper's moved ahead. I do believe it's I.Verse, that old sea dog! Ha ha ha!
What are the rest of ye doing? Dancing a hornpipe? Smartly there me hearties, or he'll get all the booty. :lol:
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Post August 21, 2013, 02:14:19 AM

Re: [Poll] Vote: August '13 Flash Fiction Contest

"Hoist the Colors, Hearties or Matey! " , so the pirates said... :mrgreen:
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Post August 21, 2013, 02:48:52 AM

Re: [Poll] Vote: August '13 Flash Fiction Contest

davidsonhero wrote:Well shiver me timbers! One clipper's moved ahead. I do believe it's I.Verse, that old sea dog! Ha ha ha!
What are the rest of ye doing? Dancing a hornpipe? Smartly there me hearties, or he'll get all the booty. :lol:


Hmmm.... Booty....

>:D
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Post August 21, 2013, 08:57:22 AM

Re: [Poll] Vote: August '13 Flash Fiction Contest

Hmmm.... Booty....
(Verse) Did they have DoGS aboard pirate ships? There's a whole lot of ocean left before this ship sails into port.
Since the house is on fire - at least let us warm ourselves.
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Post August 21, 2013, 12:02:40 PM

Re: [Poll] Vote: August '13 Flash Fiction Contest

Verse wrote:
davidsonhero wrote:Well shiver me timbers! One clipper's moved ahead. I do believe it's I.Verse, that old sea dog! Ha ha ha!
What are the rest of ye doing? Dancing a hornpipe? Smartly there me hearties, or he'll get all the booty. :lol:


Hmmm.... Booty....

>:D

That tongue hanging out just took on new meaning . . . :wink:
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Post August 21, 2013, 06:33:48 PM

Re: [Poll] Vote: August '13 Flash Fiction Contest

bottomdweller wrote:
Hmmm.... Booty....
(Verse) Did they have DoGS aboard pirate ships? There's a whole lot of ocean left before this ship sails into port.


I seem to recall that it was wimmen that ye salty dogs (the two legged kind) believed to be bad luck. On most ships, the cabin boy was the only booty to be had...

(The few cases of female pirate captains only prove the rule -- they were certainly bad luck for the men they replaced!)

::)
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Post August 23, 2013, 09:53:48 PM

Re: [Poll] Vote: August '13 Flash Fiction Contest

Thunder! Belay that bilge, ya scallywags. What landlubber started all this talk about the cabin boy's dungbie anyway? When I say booty, I'm talking about doubloons! And a certain treasure made of ice! And all the glory ya can gather! :lol:

That sea dog, I.Verse, is still out front, but Sergio is abaft to port. Now, ya have two days left to vote, and I don't want to see no black spots! Arr!!!

(walks off singing)
Fifteen men on the dead man's chest--
Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!
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Post August 24, 2013, 03:55:17 AM

Re: [Poll] Vote: August '13 Flash Fiction Contest

davidsonhero wrote:(walks off singing)
Fifteen men on the dead man's chest--
Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!


'twaaaaaass on the good ship Venus,
By God you should have seen us,
The figurehead
was a ..... in bed,
Sucking a dead man's .....

As only the world's greatest ever Punk Band, the Sex Pistols, can deliver (Parental Advisory: Explicit Content).
Doggerel is a derogatory term for verse considered of little literary value.

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Post August 24, 2013, 02:14:27 PM

Re: [Poll] Vote: August '13 Flash Fiction Contest

Verse wrote:'twaaaaaass on the good ship Venus,
By God you should have seen us,
The figurehead
was a ..... in bed,
Sucking a dead man's .....

As only the world's greatest ever Punk Band, the Sex Pistols, can deliver (Parental Advisory: Explicit Content).


Verse, ye flee ridden scurvy dog. Ye'r incorrigible! I shudder to think which is yer favorite verse. >:D

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Post August 25, 2013, 07:19:21 PM

Re: [Poll] Vote: August '13 Flash Fiction Contest

I. Verse holds the lead in the clipper; that little sea dog is fast! But the others haven't given up the chase yet. Blimey, someone just fired grapeshot! Sergio the Corsair, was in second, but now Captain Tornello, the scourge of Tortuga, has come alongside and opened fire with his cannons. Now one of the crews has thrown grappling hooks onto the other ship. I hear the clashing of cutlasses. Someone screamed, "NO QUARTER!" But, blow me down! That rapscallion Captain Hill, seeing an opportunity, has overhauled them both to plundered second place for himself.

There's just about 2 hours and 40 minutes left to get your votes in. :)

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Post August 25, 2013, 10:37:42 PM

Re: [Poll] Vote: August '13 Flash Fiction Contest

I. Verse wins the "Science Fiction Pirate" challenge with his story "Wreckers."
I. Verse also wins the cash prize from our anonymous patron and is the winner of this month's virtual ice gnome trophy.

ice_gnome_trophy.png
ice_gnome_trophy.png (130.68 KiB) Viewed 4160 times

Aye, twas a good race me buckos. Now let's have a shanty and pass the grog.

For the record, these were the authors of the entries for this month:

Wreckers by I. Verse
Family Business by Lester Curtis
Tandoristé Sunset by Jay Hill
THE XEBEC, Lettre de Course, A PRIVATEER’S VOYAGE by Richard Tornello
Gatcom Creek by Michele Dutcher
Challenge Across the Sea of Monsters by Sergio Palumbo


SCORES: (Overall next to the story title, then the average score next to each question #.)


Wreckers : 365
1) Overall: 9
2) Characterization: 8
3) Plot: 9
4) Setting: 8
5) Dialog: 8
6) Challenge: 9
# Zeroes: 0
# Perfect 10s: 13

Family Business : 265
1) Overall: 6
2) Characterization: 6
3) Plot: 6
4) Setting: 7
5) Dialog: 6
6) Challenge: 7
# Zeroes: 0
# Perfect 10s: 2

Tandoristé Sunset : 299
1) Overall: 7
2) Characterization: 7
3) Plot: 7
4) Setting: 7
5) Dialog: 7
6) Challenge: 8
# Zeroes: 1
# Perfect 10s: 6

THE XEBEC, Lettre de Course, A PRIVATEER’S VOYAGE : 299
1) Overall: 7
2) Characterization: 7
3) Plot: 7
4) Setting: 7
5) Dialog: 7
6) Challenge: 8
# Zeroes: 0
# Perfect 10s: 2

Gatcom Creek : 262
1) Overall: 6
2) Characterization: 7
3) Plot: 6
4) Setting: 6
5) Dialog: 7
6) Challenge: 6
# Zeroes: 0
# Perfect 10s: 0

Challenge Across the Sea of Monsters : 292
1) Overall: 7
2) Characterization: 6
3) Plot: 7
4) Setting: 7
5) Dialog: 6
6) Challenge: 9
# Zeroes: 0
# Perfect 10s: 3

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Post August 25, 2013, 10:43:18 PM

Re: [Poll] Vote: August '13 Flash Fiction Contest

Thank you to the writers and voters who participated this month. I really liked the variety of stories we got with this challenge.
Arr! Now how about that shanty and where's me rum? Ye can talk amongst yerselves if ye like now.

Look for the next challenge on September 8th. And I'll give you a little hint; it probably doesn't involve pirates. :wink:
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Post August 25, 2013, 11:44:00 PM

Re: [Poll] Vote: August '13 Flash Fiction Contest

Congrats, Verse! I thought that one was yours.

I also thought I had a better chance. Well, as I've said before, that's what I get for thinking.

Anyway, here are my comments.
***********************

Wreckers
Grim and relentless. Outstanding in every aspect.
Score: 60

Family Business
I was able to get this into fairly decent order. I'd been percolating the notion of it for a while before I started actual writing on it, just a few days ago. I managed to get it fairly close to the word limit on the first try, which is good, because I didn't have time for a second try.

Tandoristé Sunset
Another excellent job, except for the question of what the captain was doing just before she got shot down. Kind of a plot hole; it could have been fixed, but likely at the expense of some of the expository dialog. Not a deal-breaker by any means, though.
Score: 58

THE XEBEC, Lettre de Course, A PRIVATEER’S VOYAGE
This one has a rather disjointed feel to it. I liked the idea of the Letters of Marque and all, but the context of soul-trade, or theft, or whatever, didn't appeal to me much, and didn't seem very well developed. Gratuitous hot-babe and lesbian titillation, both kind of cheesy. Dialog as infodump.
If the writer had developed a conventional SF context around the marque-and-reprise angle, this might have worked, seeing that no one else approached that theme. Various technical errors.
Score: 34

Gatcom Creek
These people didn't seem to be pirates to me, just scavengers. Very large plot hole at the cafe when Sergio arrives; if he'd known Pepe for so long, he should have known the daughter as well, or at least known about her. Pepe lied about having a bum leg, and Sergio should have known that, too.
This story seems to be much more about lovers' tragedy than piracy.
Score: 28

Challenge Across the Sea of Monsters
"Ramming at FTL speed . . . " if Bill Wolfe were here to comment, he'd explain that someone had just destroyed the entire universe, but that's a long story.
The cheat was clever, and the story was entertaining.
Score: 40
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Post August 26, 2013, 02:16:49 AM

Re: [Poll] Vote: August '13 Flash Fiction Contest

Congratulations, Verse, and undoubtedly it was a very good story with some unexcpected parts that would really deserve a publication on some magazine like Isac Asimov's, in my opinion... :D :D

And it was my first choice, of course...I gave the second highest score to Gatcom Creek that was very entertaining anyway... :D

For DavidsonHero:

Look for the next challenge on September 8th. And I'll give you a little hint; it probably doesn't involve pirates.


So at least we do know what not to expect...eh,eh :lol: :lol:
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Post August 26, 2013, 04:11:24 AM

Re: [Poll] Vote: August '13 Flash Fiction Contest

Thank you, thank you!

Wreckers
I wrote this a couple of years ago, when I was just a pup. It was for a flash competition on another website, sadly now no longer running. This was more of a general writing and writers site and, in my opinion, had a heavy bias to romantic fiction. From the entries already submitted and put up I could see which way the wind was blowing and so never submitted my story on the theme of "Pirates". I never dreamed that "Space Pirates" would come around. I would have sent my story in quicker but I had to find where it was buried on my hard drive first.

Everything you could want to know about the inspiration for this story can be found here - Wikipedia - Wrecking in Britain.

Family Business
53 including a 10 for Dialogue, my personal favourite. Space pirates doing pirate things but the poor sods were just hungry. Very good story and it ended in a hopeful place. At least no one had to walk the plank!

Tandoristé Sunset
51 including 10 for challenge, for being the most space piratey and mean. They're a scurvy bunch, space pirates, and a captain has to watch their back with those mutinous dogs!

THE XEBEC, Lettre de Course, A PRIVATEER’S VOYAGE
44 including a 10 for characterization because, who doesn't like cheesy lesbian pirates? However, this could have been a tighter ship, and it was more metaphysical / fantasy than sci-fi so I dinged it on the challenge side.

Gatcom Creek
40.
Characterisation and dialogue in this one were good but overall I didn't feel it met the challenge.

Challenge Across the Sea of Monsters
50 including 10 for the unique plot. This was also very close to a 10 for challenge as these were alien pirates being despicable cheating rogues.

So there you are. Being a dog, I don't have much use for yer filthy lucre, so I'll have a bit of a think about what 'save the humans' charity could benefit from the prize money while I take my humans for a walk this morning.

I'm keeping the trophy though. I've got a spot picked out in the back garden for burying that piece of treasure.

;D
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Post August 26, 2013, 05:04:58 AM

Re: [Poll] Vote: August '13 Flash Fiction Contest

Hey dog, congrats, a very good story overall. Both me and June were stopped by the last paragraph. Excellent. When she was reading it she gasped. I had to read it twice.

BTW, in some quarters metaphysical is just as much fiction as anything else.

Again a very good story.

RT
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Post August 26, 2013, 11:48:40 AM

Re: [Poll] Vote: August '13 Flash Fiction Contest

Verse wrote:Thank you, thank you!

Family Business
53 including a 10 for Dialogue, my personal favourite. Space pirates doing pirate things but the poor sods were just hungry. Very good story and it ended in a hopeful place. At least no one had to walk the plank!

Thanks for the endorsement, Verse. It makes up for coming in second-last. :lol:
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Post August 26, 2013, 11:57:11 AM

Re: [Poll] Vote: August '13 Flash Fiction Contest

bottomdweller came in last? The comments indicate that some voters weren't sure her story really fit the challenge (not pirate-y enough?), but I find myself wondering if she forgot to vote and got hit with the 10% penalty. She was one of the better writers during my tenure as Short Story Editor (of course, it may be that my tastes account for my so-so showing in the few Challenges I have entered...)
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Post August 26, 2013, 03:44:13 PM

Re: [Poll] Vote: August '13 Flash Fiction Contest

Robert_Moriyama wrote:bottomdweller came in last? The comments indicate that some voters weren't sure her story really fit the challenge (not pirate-y enough?), but I find myself wondering if she forgot to vote and got hit with the 10% penalty. She was one of the better writers during my tenure as Short Story Editor (of course, it may be that my tastes account for my so-so showing in the few Challenges I have entered...)

Yeah, she usually does better than this -- except when she doesn't.
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Post August 26, 2013, 04:17:07 PM

Re: [Poll] Vote: August '13 Flash Fiction Contest

Dead last ARGGGG! Well shiver me timbers! Hey matey - pass the rum (and coke). Someone's gotta be last - it may as well be me! We'll meet up again soon, matey - and then we'll see who lives to tell the tale. ARGGG! Pass the cabin boy - errr - the Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum.
Since the house is on fire - at least let us warm ourselves.

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Post August 26, 2013, 05:35:36 PM

Re: [Poll] Vote: August '13 Flash Fiction Contest

As per Verse's request, our contest patron has donated his prize money to Wikipedia.

Thank you for your support. Read about why other donors around the world support Wikipedia and its sister projects, or find out if your company has a corporate matching gift program. Tell the world that you support Wikimedia: tweet it with hashtag #keepitfree!


I think it's very generous of both of you.

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Post August 27, 2013, 03:27:55 AM

Re: [Poll] Vote: August '13 Flash Fiction Contest

well done, Verse, indeed :) :D ...and then, it's better donating to Wikipedia than to Wikileaks in this period...eh,eh :lol:
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Post August 27, 2013, 05:34:11 AM

Re: [Poll] Vote: August '13 Flash Fiction Contest

ente per ente wrote:well done, Verse, indeed :) :D ...and then, it's better donating to Wikipedia than to Wikileaks in this period...eh,eh :lol:


That rather depends on if you are donating money or national secrets.
>:D
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Post August 27, 2013, 10:40:51 AM

Re: [Poll] Vote: August '13 Flash Fiction Contest

Verse wrote:
That rather depends on if you are donating money or national secrets.


Hey dog you forgot to ask:

unless you want the British STASI breaking your door down, holding you incommunicado, or here, locked up in Cuba or a target of a drone.

CYA

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Post August 27, 2013, 09:27:52 PM

Re: [Poll] Vote: August '13 Flash Fiction Contest

rick tornello wrote: unless you want the British STASI breaking your door down, holding you incommunicado,

There are no British STASI. Just ask them.
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Post August 28, 2013, 12:03:11 AM

Re: [Poll] Vote: August '13 Flash Fiction Contest

hey tongue
STASI was for emphasis, the secret police by any name are the secret police.

Do I have to write another poem , yes maybe that's it

call it
Perverts without Borders
maintaining the social order
as defined by the ruling class,
the likes of which against
we really have no chance,
cleansing media and the streets
and disrespectful folk who dare to speak
of wrongs committed in our name.
And cross borders they will go
to no ends their power shown
and truth be buried in their wake
perverts without borders and the rules they make.


1st draft
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Post August 28, 2013, 12:59:15 AM

Re: [Poll] Vote: August '13 Flash Fiction Contest

There are No Secret Police

There are no secret police.
Governments do not fear their people.
Dissidents do not vanish *here!*
That sort of thing doesn't happen in the Free World!

Who said the World was Free?
Oh, and the cheque's in the mail.
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Post August 28, 2013, 08:39:33 AM

Re: [Poll] Vote: August '13 Flash Fiction Contest

Congrats to Verse on a nice win! Especially, given the entries this time. Really tough competition; so congrats again.

And congrats to everyone else, as well. This was one of the best groups of stories I've seen in this competition.

And special thanks to John for inspiring us all to new levels of greatness!
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