by Max Barry

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Anteria RMB

WA Delegate: The Grand Republic of Albithica (elected )

Founder: The People's Republic of Zhengan

Last WA Update:

Board Activity History Admin Rank

Most Nations: 72nd Most World Assembly Endorsements: 256th
World Factbook Entry

Welcome to Anteria

We are a casual, modern tech, closed-world region, open to all ideologies and nations alike.

Current roleplay date: October 2017

Featured Region: 2/1/2017

Please refrain from targeting this region for recruitment.


LinkWiki (Guide)| LinkDiscord | LinkIRC | LinkMap (Guide)

Please endorse our World Assembly delegate Albithica to ensure regional stability.

This Week's Theme: Describe the legal system of your nation. (Theme Weeks)

News:
Regional News Thread:Today in Anteria

We have introduced a new awards system in Anteria! LinkCheck it out here

The Albith Convention can be found here. (Contact Albithica to become a signatory)

Later this week: Invade Gaul.
Best Ally: Poland.



  1. 7

    The Concord of Anteria

    BulletinPolicy by Prybourne . 472 reads.

  2. 2

    Anteria Wiki and Map Reference Guide

    MetaReference by Kilowatt . 604 reads.

  3. 11

    Anteria Starting Guide [READ UPON JOINING]

    BulletinPolicy by Prybourne . 796 reads.

  4. 3

    Theme Weeks

    MetaGameplay by Albithica . 63 reads.

  5. 5

    How to Request a Territory in Anteria: [OOC]

    MetaGameplay by Tsokeiku . 502 reads.

  6. 5

    Role-Play Ideas

    MetaGameplay by Prybourne . 136 reads.

  7. 1

    Anteria Poll Results -Updated 5/1/17

    BulletinPolicy by Prybourne . 130 reads.

▼ 4 More

Embassies: Miller Incorporated HQ, The Legions of Heaven And Hell, Conservative League, Tsumonrin, Turkic Union, The United Nations of Usualis Amor, The Dirt Alliance, The Illuminati Council, Northlandia, Queens Coming Into Our Own, The Bar on the corner of every region, Arconian Empire, Peoples Federation of Qandaristan, Esquarium, International Republican Union, Nationalist Commonwealth of Free Regions, and 46 others.League of Nation States, Free Market Federation, Confederacy of Egalitarian Democracies, The League of Conservative Nations, Nova Historiae, Norrland, Avadam Inn, Laotis, CISB, The Empire of Nova Roma et agros captos, The Truly Holy Roman Union, Solidarity With The Raided, East of West, The World of Remnant, Right to Life, Cape of Good Hope, Panessos, Yorktown Aristocracy, Ridgefield, Lands End, Homelands, Keplar 22b, Ultranus, The South Arctic, The Great Universe, Hollow Point, Bus Stop, Polls Center with drinks, The Embassy, Republican Army, Krillin, Emirates of Futurnia, International Debating Area, THE TRUMP WARRIORS, Better than Anteria, Regionless, The Honorary Allied Nation States, The Syndicate of Cunning Minds, The Savage Garden, Future Earth, Groland, Caelestis Universum, The Delegation of Gallifrey, The Conservative Republic, Dauiland, and Union of Nationalists.

Tags: National Sovereigntist, Modern Tech, Theocratic, Serious, Totalitarian, Isolationist, Democratic, Socialist, Anarchist, Social, Libertarian, Regional Government, and 28 others.Game Player, Liberal, Human-Only, Role Player, Fascist, World Assembly, Religious, Independent, Map, Anti-Communist, Capitalist, Conservative, General Assembly, Casual, Anti-Capitalist, Free Trade, Issues Player, Neutral, Anti-Fascist, Featured, LGBT, Enormous, Imperialist, Eco-Friendly, International Federalist, Monarchist, Industrial, and Communist.

Regional Power: Moderate

Anteria contains 177 nations, the 72nd most in the world.

Today's World Census Report

The Most Advanced Public Transport in Anteria

World Census experts captured, tagged, and released trains in order to identify which nations have the most extensive, well-funded public transportation systems.

As a region, Anteria is ranked 5,210th in the world for Most Advanced Public Transport.

NationWA CategoryMotto
1.The Republic of Matchmakingdove1028Democratic Socialists“Equality for all”
2.The Supreme Soviet Regime of Soyedinennyye Russatrova RespublikiIron Fist Consumerists“Леаве ме алоне ор И сшеар то Год И Шилл килл Еверыоне”
3.The Eternal Imperious Regency of The Step ForwardIron Fist Consumerists“ Through Fire, Justice is served.”
4.The Grand Republic of AlbithicaScandinavian Liberal Paradise“Liberty, Endurance, Unity”
5.The Sjanate of TerkustiaPsychotic Dictatorship“Takri, Žaq, Tru”
6.The Holy and Beautiful Republic of GhijukoLeft-wing Utopia“This is Paradise, Make it Yours”
7.The Democratic Republic of MeerusDemocratic Socialists“No somes violent”
8.The Republic of Free3doniaInoffensive Centrist Democracy“The wise one hits first, the better one hits last.”
9.The Empire of ZoopocalypsInoffensive Centrist Democracy“For Zoopocalyps”
10.The Insane Ramblings of Troll-la-laLiberal Democratic Socialists“Same As It Ever Was”
1234. . .1718»

Regional Happenings

More...

Anteria Regional Message Board

Inner Mations Aststan is proud to announce the latest in its series of large infrastructure projects intended to boost the economy and provide for trade benefits with other nations. The Eisen Valley Hydroelectric Dam has a peak capacity of 1,200 MW and can provide power for over 780,000 Inner Mations Aststani homes. A transmission grid has also been set up to sell excess power to our neighbours. Countries expressing an interest in purchasing clean electricity can contact the Inner Mations Aststan Department of Energy for further details.

Terkustia, Columbine and Mosley, The Cyclone, and Aziallis

The Daily Cycle

Todays update:

The Cyclone cleans up its slums. After the numbers of residents of the slums has risen exponentially in the last few months, the government has finally taken steps to clean the slums. The action started on wednesday in the biggest slum in The Cyclone which was the home of over 210,000 inhabitants. The whole slum has been teared down and all residents have gotten new homes, spread all over The Cyclone. The Cyclonian government tried to spread them out as far as possible to prevent further segregation. But the citizens income does have an influence on the homes they can buy in these regions. The only parts which are off limits are the gated communities in the north. Those are not open to the public and the house prices are very high there. It is estimated that over 1 million citizens will be relocated in this effort to clean up The Cyclone. The high numbers of poor people can only be explained by the very open immigration laws as well as many job opportunities. A new education and training program has also been launched to support the poorest. The Cyclonian government did not build any homes nor does it support the people in any way. It just relocates the people to "get a better mix". The new homes have been built by private funds and companies and are thus not a state project. A spokesperson has said: "Well we are certainly no damn communists and we dont build stuff for the people, where would we end up if the state would choose and do everything for the people. Harmony would definitely get lost."

The daily cycle has also found out that over 12,000 citizens have surprisingly vanished and that they are nowhere to be found. But its not our job to question the holy cycle.

Long live the holy cycle,
Long live the ones who choose.

Terkustia, Columbine and Mosley, Aziallis, and Lenimentum

The Azillian Prime Minister released an official Press Release with the Lexicosian Head of Government and the Office of Foreign Affairs of Lexicosia.

The two governments:

1. Jointly agreed to co-operation in space research with Lexicosia agreeing to become a member of HECTO;

2. Agreed to establish a 10 year fund of 15 million Quasa (out of which Aziallis would be paying 10 million) called the Aziallis- Lexicosia Joint Space Research Fund (ALJSRF) which would be used for funding Space Agencies, supplying modern technology and high-quality equipment to undertake research and provide efficient faculty to teach students Astronomy and Astro-physics at both school and University level;

3. Agreed to establish a 10 million Quasa Fund (paid by both nations equally) to research and tackle epidemics of lethal diseases and treat fatal ilnesses including various kinds of cancers;

4. Conduct Exchange of Medical students to enable them to understand medicine better and from a wider perspective;

5. 5 MoUs on Arms trade and manufacturing between two countries has been established;

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This marks the end of the Azillian Prime Minister's trip in Lexicosia and he shall be flying to Dokodo in Tsokeiku where he would be reaching in the morning.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

At a press conference after the press release:

"I'm very satisfied with our relationship with Lexicosia and hope that our ties strengthen", the PM said upon being asked about the visit and the talks.

When asked about what he expects out of his trip to Tsokeiku, the Prime Minister responded, "Visiting a member of the Dokodo Union has always been and will always be a pleasure. Even as a foreign minister I had always been happy about visiting Tsokeiku and as a Prime Minister I have new hopes. I am visiting to honour our strong ties and to wish for them to continue growing."

The Prime Minister did not give details about the visit. Tsokeiku would be the 3rd country on the Prime Minister's list in East Eucatan."

Albithica, Goldfluss, and Inner Mations Aststan

Post self-deleted by Torranta.

Here it is, the final scores for Yarn-Fest!

It has been a long wait, but the scores for Yarn-Fest are finally in! 8 participants from 6 different regions have put their blood, sweat, and tears into what they hope to be the best story known to NationStates. These scores will act as a testimony to their Yarn Spinnin' skills!

......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

Scoring

The stories were scored out of ten points for three different categories: Entertainment Value, Creativity, and Grammar. The judges attempted to take figurative language, emphasis, and dramatization into account when analyzing grammar.

Ex.

    Nation Name

    Region Name

    Story Name

      Entertainment Value: 1

      Creativity: 1

      Grammar: 1

      Total: 3

    Description:

......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

Results

Scores will be listed worst to best. Click here if you wish to read one or more of their Yarns.

#8

    Metal cybersnake

    Lands End

    Untitled

      Entertainment Value - 3

      Creativity - 4

      Grammar - 0.5

      Total=7.5

    Description: This brief story is filled with insanity and spontaneity. Is it about a cockroach? A volcano? Whatever the case, its wild nature is sure to generate a few chuckles. Good job.

#7

    New Cashistan

    Cape of Good Hope

    Untitled

      Entertainment Value - 6

      Creativity - 8

      Grammar - 9.5

      Total=22.5

    Description: A clever, fun Yarn of three brothers attempting to make something of themselves.

#6

    Brokemia

    Ridgefield

    Untitled

      Entertainment Value - 10 (Perfect)

      Creativity - 5

      Grammar - 9

      Total=24

    Description: A heart-stopping infiltration/heist that takes after Mission Impossible. Danger, excitement. What more could you want?

#5

    Gattoartico

    Wintreath

    Untitled

      Entertainment Value - 10 (Perfect)

      Creativity - 7

      Grammar - 8

      Total=25

    Description: A new take on the devil's descent into darkness. The passage of time is used extremely efficiently to express the plot. Thought provoking, Mythological, Fresh.

#4

    The Messengers

    Narnia

    Arizona Sun

      Entertainment Value - 8

      Creativity - 8

      Grammar - 9.75

      Total=25.75

    Description: A story of the past, of a woman in grief, and of forgiveness. This story was written in a style not seen very often nowadays, choosing to focus on the feelings of the protagonist more often than on the events around her. A sober tale.

#3

    Silver-Sky Raiders

    The Good Ship Revenge

    Untitled

      Entertainment Value - 6.25

      Creativity - 10 (Perfect)

      Grammar - 10 (Perfect)

      Total=26.25

    Description: Bringing in the bronze, is an enthralling compilation of log journals by a astronautical explorer and her findings. Silver-Sky Raiders does a great job of setting the tone.

#2 (Runner-Up)

    Good Ship Revenge

    The Good Ship Revenge

    War of Affection

      Entertainment Value - 10 (Perfect)

      Creativity - 10 (Perfect)

      Grammar - 9.5

      Total=29.5

    Description: The sad fates of four Russian men caught in the clutches of love.

#1 (Winner)

    Pogglind

    Wintreath

    Untitled

      Entertainment Value - 10 (Perfect)

      Creativity - 10 (Perfect)

      Grammar - 10 (Perfect)

      Total=30 (Perfect)

    Description: Pogglind portrays the world from the protagonist's point of view perfectly and shows expert use of figurative language. The imagery of what is seen and done by said character is on the spot, and the story is enthralling, mysterious, and a work of art. Pogglind deserves this perfect score and the title of the Heavy-Weight Yarn Spinning Champion of the World. Congratulations Pogglind!

......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
The top three stories will be archived and saved for posterity, and Pogglind's name will go down in the annals of history as the Greatest Yarn-Spinner there is, at least until the next Yarn-Fest! Great job to all the participating nations. You are all truly creative. Again, click page=dispatch/id=904061 to see their Yarn.

Torranta,

Chief Trade Officer

Lands End

Read dispatch

Everyone did great, and it was a pleasure to judge everyone's stories. The above dispatch just has the raw scores and brief descriptions of the stories. If you want to read their stories without the scores, check out this dispatch:

These are the masterpieces of all the participants of Yarn-Fest listed from lowest scoring to Highest Scoring. I may have colored some of them to help better separate them from each other.

#8 Metal cybersnake

like that my nation is secretly controlled by a most glorious agent smith who was born outside our universe and began life as a giant immortal mutant cockroach, grew up in a volcano before time began, subsists on planets made of alcohol and food cooked on the sun who only kneels before our almighty god- the breakdancing avatar of michael jackson who bestowed all the knowledge we ever had through his only son- Papa Johns Pizza
........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

#7 New Cashistan

Three friends decided to start a publishing company together, in honor of their shared passion for books.
One of them went to the bank to plead for a loan. After hours of begging, the banker saw the man's passion and gave him the loan. The other two call him "Tears".
One of them purchased an old warehouse. With her own bare fists, she fought off the squatters from her property. The other two call her "Blood".
The third brought in his exercise bike, and connected it to the printing press. With his leg power, the printing could begin. The other two call him "Sweat".
They called themselves "Blood, Sweat and Tears prints", but soon discovered that there was more to publishing than printing. Without any authors, they decided to just print Shakespeare's Hamlet over and over and over again. This wasn't very profitable, and soon Blood left the project, and wished the remaining two luck. Tears put all of his paychecks back into the company in a desperate attempt to get it to work, and died of starvation.
Sweat removed the rest of the names from the sign, and kept pedaling mindlessly as the company fell further and further into debt. A group of medieval re-enactors, the Good Knights, were interested in buying the warehouse, and they gave him a price he couldn't refuse. Sweat decided to formally introduce the new owners to the building.
"Good Knight, Sweat Prints"
........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

#6 Brokemia

Cooper careened around yet another corner and dived into an alcove lined with small figurines. Their beady, marble glared at him. He tried to calm himself and slow his breathing. Carefully, he leaned as close to the main hallway as he dared and cupped his hand around his ear. He listened with bated breath.
CLUMP!
A heavy booted foot slammed down just inches from his hiding spot. He scuttled backwards into the alcove, praying to remain hidden. The boot paused for a moment and Conner heard a long, slow exhale followed by a deep inhale before it passed by.
Cooper waited for 13 seconds exactly, scarcely daring to breathe. Then, he leapt out of the alcove and into the frost-covered hallway. Scrabbling with his sandaled feet for purchase on the slick ground, he latched onto one of the equally slick handholds in the wall and pushed off towards the door up ahead. Pausing for only a minute, he opened it up, pulled himself inside, and slammed it shut with a thud that resounded through the room he found himself in. He was here… At long last, he was here.
After checking to make sure the door had no window, he switched on the lights and walked down the aisles. Almost reverently, he ran his hand over the shelves, touching each marvelous object individually. Moving from shelf to shelf as each new thing caught his eye, he made his way slowly down towards a shimmering pedestal at the farthest end of the room. He stopped in front of it, basking it its glory.
Having seen Indiana Jones, he found an object of about the same size and weight. He quickly grabbed the object off of the pedestal and replaced it before it could be detected that anything was amiss. Retracing his steps down the myriad aisles, he made his way to the door and turned off the lights. After peeking around the door into the hallway, he cautiously took a step outside and made his way, step by careful step, towards the nearest handhold. He grasped it and prepared to launch himself towards the exit door located at the far end of the hallway. Suddenly, he heard the crunch of a studded boot on ice and the soft intake of breath.
Barely hesitating to think, Cooper used all of the force in his arms to propel himself recklessly down the slippery passageway. He had to get away. It didn’t bear thinking about what would happen to him if he was caught. Halfway down the corridor, he realized that he had no way of stopping himself and slammed face first into the exit door.
Whoever had last used the door had failed to close it completely and so Cooper hit the door and kept going. He flew over the trio of concrete steps outside the door and landed in a bush covered with prickly thorns. A hulking figure appeared in the open portal wearing a warm parka and heavy studded boots. It looked around the clearing for any sign of the intruder and, failing to notice Cooper in his thorny hiding spot, closed the door again, this time locking it securely.
Cooper crouched in the bush until he caught his breath. Then, he stood up, pulled out the most irritating thorns, and sped off into the thick woods with all the speed and stealth of a thousand stampeding bison. At the first clearing he found, he sat down and pulled out the object of his quest, the very thing he’d labored for so long to get. It was… the rarest amiibo™ of them all: Villager.
........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

#5 Gattoartico

A young man knelt in the soft and primitive grass to tend to his beloved plants. Carefully, he balanced the soil they grew in; channeling his primal strength to help them grow and evolve. He stood making his way through the twisting paths and sunlit meadows of his gardens. Thousands of miles of trees, flowers, and plants of all shapes grew about him, filled to bursting with the sounds of life. His burning green eyes roamed the landscape seeking out any spot that was suffering. Nothing caught his eyes causing him to smile gently before wandering through the landscape just enjoying nature.
As he walked he felt a vast and powerful presence emerge from behind him. Turning, his smile widened as he greeted the being standing behind him. “Hello Father, I see you brought someone with you.” He knelt, ruffling the golden curls of a young boy before asking him his name.
The little boy shied away by hiding behind the leg of the older, dark haired man. He nudged the child off of his leg as he answered the green-eyed god. “This is Lucifer; my grandfather asked me to watch over the young one, which I unfortunately am unable to do. As I have too much work to do as it is.” He prodded the little boy over to the other god and lovingly patted the boys’ head. “I was hoping you could watch him Nathuri, you have plenty of free time I hope.”
Nathuri cocked an eyebrow at his father. “Are you sure you want me to watch the little one? I do not think I should father. I might just poison him with my ideas and inventions.”
The older god shook his head and fixed his black, star filled eyes on his son. “You will be the best influence on him of all my children. Now I must go, work to be done.” He stepped back vanishing in a swirl of gentle and comforting starlight.
Nathuri looked down to find the golden eyes of Lucifer watching him with a curious yet wary light. He smiled and held out a hand for the little boy to take. “Come Lucifer, my father has entrusted you into my care. I feel that if I am to watch you I might as well teach you something useful.” He waited patiently for Lucifer to take his hand before leading the boy towards a massive tree in the distance. “I feel like we will get along mightily.”
~~~
“Uncle N! Uncle N!” A small voice cried through the gentle breeze. The light padding of small feet was soon head as Lucifer raced out of the garden to the ground at the base of Nathuri’s home. “You have to come see what I found!”
Nathuri rose from where he had been healing a large lizard-like creature. “What is it you feel I must see Luci? This better not be another shiny rock. There are a lot of those here.”
Lucifer shook his head, gesturing for Nathuri to follow him as he broke off to run deeper into the wilderness, only to find himself treading on air as Nathuri levitated him above the ground. He stopped moving and slouched dejectedly as the older god strode closer to him. “C’mon Uncle N, let me show you her. I promise it isn’t a rock this time!”
Nathuri laughed, bemused as he put Lucifer down. “Lead the way,” He said and trotted after the fast moving angel. The boy led him through a few copses of trees before coming to a stop just underneath a tall fern. He waved up at something in the tree and waited a few moments. Soon, a diminutive shape could be seen making its way to the lowest branches where Nathuri could see it. A small but sturdily built creature clung to the tree branch with powerful hands and feet that were covered in thick, leathery skin and thick black fur. It watched Nathuri warily until he touched it with just a small shred of his power, calming it which led to the creature coming out of the tree. The small creature was wrapped in a hug by the golden haired and winged child who had dragged Nathuri over to look at it. The tall, green-eyed god chuckled as he knelt to Lucifer’s level.
“So this is what you wished to show me, an Australopithecus Primus?” Nathuri narrowed his eyes as he looked closer at the small creature. “No, this is Australopithecus Alium, a slightly different species and a little further along the evolutionary path.”
Lucifer rolled his eyes at Nathuri. “As if your official name mattered to me, I’m gonna name it Xifanthala!” He said with bubbling enthusiasm. The older god laughed, patting Lucifer’s head. The young angel squirmed out of Nathuri’s reach as he kept hugging his discovery.
The brown haired god shook his head and rose. “I do not really think that it can understand that name.” Lucifer opened his mouth to speak but Nathuri interrupted him, “No. You cannot keep it. It belongs in nature and must be left alone.”
~~~
Lucifer was lying next to Nathuri, gazing at the stars from the uppermost branches of the massive tree Nathuri called home. They simply watched the sky and enjoyed the gentle touch of the breeze. Nathuri turned his eyes to Lucifer to watch the young angel deep in thought before asking him a question. “What is on your mind Lucifer?”
It took a while before the golden winged boy answered him. “This thought has been nagging at me for a long while now, ever since I found that Australopithecus Alium so many years ago. Why are we the only species that looks like us?” He rolled over slightly to face Nathuri and gave him a confused look. “I mean every other species has something that looks similar to it. Everything except us. Sure we have variations but all of you can have wings if you chose too. I could hide my wings if I chose too. But what separates us so much from the other species that leaves us alone in appearance?”
Nathuri thought for a bit himself before he responded. “Everything else is and has been evolving since it was first created by Great Grandfather, Grand Father, Father, and I. We designed all other things that way. What truly separates us is what we are made of. Everything else is made of matter; we are made of energy, birthed from the very stuff that forged the universe. That is why we are alone in our makeup. Though we will not always be; that Australopithecus Alium for instance, from it will descend the Homo erectus which will bear some physical similarities to us. From them will descend Homo neanderthalensis, which will exist alongside, and will be eventually wiped out by Homo sapien. Of all creatures that will exist from now and forever more Homo Sapien will be the closest to us in physical appearance.”
Lucifer blinked at Nathuri who smiled as he continued, “At least that is what Brother Chronus says, though I can see in the genetic makeup of Australopithecus Alium that such a path is possible for it. I hope we will both be still around to see that. Long enough to see Homo homini Dei take shape. Though a few hundred million years is a short enough time don’t you think? I feel I can wait that long for my Talcung.”
~~~~
Lucifer walked with a silently fuming Nathuri through a marble hall. The great pillars added an air of majesty to great frescoes painted on the ceiling. Lucifer looked powerful in a suit of resplendent golden armour, adding both grace and a regal air to his every step. His long hair was braided in a fashion similar to Nathuri’s without copying the elder god.
Nathuri wore his usual simple robes. His green eyes ablaze with an angry light. His pace caused Lucifer to trot in order to keep up. He seemed almost unaware of his surroundings until he spoke. “That fancy show piece will not help you out on the battlefield.” he said with barely concealed rage, “They are nothing but a group of fools holed up in shining palaces of marble and granite. Do they not realize the pain and devastation this petty feud will do? Trillions lost, countless more sacrificed all so that they can bicker over who get to do what.”
“Perhaps uncle we should think of it from a different light? Krishna suggested trying to settle this matter with diplomacy. Now every attempt that is tried along that route is blocked. Gaia and Jaxten did not look eager to go to war.” Lucifer said, thinking of ways to pacify his uncle. “You mentioned my armour, perhaps you could make a more functional set?”
Nathuri snorted, “Perhaps? I can. I am one of the Nine. I helped fashion every symbol of power and every fortress from here to the walls of Erebus. I am the Weaponsmith.” He said momentarily distracted. He quickly returned to his original course of thought before Lucifer could push farther. “They want to go to war Luci, I do not think you quite understand what that would mean. I do not think they do either.”
He shook his head, malcontent, “Such devastation on a fledgling universe. They would destroy so many of my gardenworlds if I joined in. That armour will not occur. I will stay lout and so will you. There is no arguing the matter. The rest of the Protogenoi can bite me.”
~~~
Fire lanced across the sky as blazing ships plummeted like meteors to the planet below. The surface of the planet was awash with light as vast swaths of forest burned. The once tall and proud mountains lay broken on the ground. The great tree that Nathuri called home was bent under the weight of a fallen battleship. Nathuri himself stumbled wide eyed through the wreckage of the world he had tried so hard to cultivate. He could not fathom that the quickly expanding God War had set foot upon his dominions.
Far above Nathuri, Lucifer raced through the sky on golden wings. He sliced down aircraft and other bewinged warriors. The young angel was quick and powerful but even he knew it was a losing battle. His strength meant nothing if the enemy gods could fight unobstructed. For nothing restrained them, not even a ghost of Nathuri’s power.
Then everything came to a standstill. Nothing moved as if time itself was deciding how this was going to play out. In a rush everything unfroze. A wall of power struck and incinerated warships and gods with frightening ease. Lucifer knew in that instant that Nathuri had gotten over his shock. He was enraged. Unlike these minor gods and titans that warred in the sky, Nathuri was a Protogenoi. He was a child of Chaos. He was birthed of the same stuff as the fabric of reality, as such he was immensely powerful. Very quickly the few survivors of the warring sides fled. Soon Lucifer no longer shared the sky while the world below pulsed with anger.
Within mere days had Nathuri formally declared war on the Place-Of-No-Stars. His rage drove him to genetically engineer an army within two hundred years, a time span that meant nothing to gods. He built an army that would not be easy to best. He himself fashioned armor and weapons that had never been seen before and he intended to use them on his foes. The enemy had awoken a sleeping dragon. One that was not going to be easy to put back to sleep.
~~~
Nathuri waded through a blood choked swamp. His dark grey armour seemed to repel the liquid. He held in one hand a heavy rifle and a comm unit in his other. Scanning the dense trees he answered the quietly beeping comm. “How fares orbit Lucifer?” he said with a small grin on his face.
“Better. Thunari went into full retreat just now. In a few minutes I’ll be able to relieve you and the First Legion.” Lucifer responded. In the background Nathuri could hear the noise of the bridge crew aboard the Forgiving Maiden.
“Well hurry up. The Dark Elves are everywhere.” he said. A sound snapped his attention towards a group of elves. He swung his rifle into position in a fluid motion. Loosing off a few bolts of white hot energy he rushed forwards. The elves returned fire and screamed as Nathuri crashed into them. His armour lit up with bright green energy that spat out arcing bolts of lightning.
The god made short work of the dark elves as the trees started to shake. He looked up to see a gunship hovering over his head. It lowered itself until the boarding ramp was level with Nathuri. He hauled himself aboard and was greeted by an armoured soldier with the livery of the Second Legion. The soldier of the Glorious Wolves helped the god inside before strapping down. The ramp closed as the craft sped upwards, away from the ruined surface of Ilfusan. Nathuri closed his eyes. He sighed quietly as the world burned behind him. He could feel around him the constant pressure of hatred and death.
The soldier notified him the moment the drew close the hangers aboard the Forgiving Maiden. The moment he stepped off he noticed the amount of injured soldiers as well as felt the breeches in its hull. He quickly made his way to the bridge where he found a gaping hole in the side of the armor plating. The hole was held shut by a shimmering wall of golden light. Standing nearby was Lucifer. His golden hair was disheveled with bits of metal sparkling in it. He turned his tired eyes to Nathuri and smiled.
“Hey Uncle, how was the surface?”
“Hell.”
Lucifer raised an eyebrow and gave a small chuckle. “I don’t think Malthuri would appreciate that comment.”
Nathuri shrugged as he bent the matter of reality to fix the breach. “My brother knows just how bad his Hellforges are. Ilfusan is nothing in true comparison. It is a figure of speech.” The old god said.
The golden haired angel turned his face back to the expanse of space where arrayed around them was a fleet vaster than anything ever seen. Among the fleet were forty shared insignias with hundreds of thousands of minor insignias denoting chapters. For this was the first and only time the full might of the Forty Legions of the Dawn Wolves were in one place at the same time.
~~~~~~~~~~
The ringing sounds of motorized forge hammers fought with the deep bellowing of furnaces. Fire and steam clouded the air in the massive forge complex. Here was one of the few places Nathuri truly felt at home. Standing at his forge and fashioning something unimaginably powerful. Here he had devised the vast constructs known as Heaven Eaters during the first war. In the second war he had unleashed the wrath of his God-blade Kramdos dyn Seyrfn, the Eternal End. A weapon so powerful reality twisted and coiled when it was unsheathed. Here he had split it into the Earth Cleaver and the Devil’s Hammer during the third war. In the twisted bouts of the fourth war he had created the oblivion pattern rifles, bringing about an even higher number of casualties than than ever before. Breaking the long standing sieges of Galaxy’s End and the Dawn Keep.
And now here in the fifth war he was building a suit of armour and a massive halberd for Lucifer. A formidable arsenal he hoped would give his beloved nephew a bit more of an edge on the battlefields against other Protogenoi. Soon Nathuri thought, the wars would be over and at long last there would be a lasting peace in the Heavens. For nearly a billion years the gods had warred in five long wars for dominion. Both sides were running out of troops and commanders. Nathuri intended to make Lucifer able to contend with even a Second Divine. Beings of the same magnitude as Chaos and Death.
~~~
“The God Wars are long over Lucifer, why do you march out again? Im certain this War-of-The-Heavenly-Peals does not need a seasoned general with an army like yours.” Nathuri said as he watched the titanic cargo ships lift off and carry supplies up to the thick silvery band that formed the lower Orbital Shipyards. Beyond it lay two more concentric circles that formed the three Shipyards of the Dawn Forge. Vast construction yards with an output able to drown out entire star systems worth of forges.
Lucifer stood slightly behind him wearing the deep red armor his uncle had forged him nearly three million years prior. He took a step forward and rested a hand on Nathuri’s shoulder. “I know, but there is a surviving Dark Titan out there. I’m the only one outside of the Protogenoi who can take them. I intend to finish them off and end the dark legacy of the Wars.”
“Then make sure you do it quick Luci, I don’t have the time to wait around for you to get back. I need to test several of my new inventions soon. I think even Father Chaos will like these ones.”
~~~
Thirty thousand years after the War-Of-The-Heavenly-Peals did the War for Heaven occur.
A thunderous roar shook the ground as an army assailed the walls of Heaven. What few soldiers that were left of the worn out and embattled Ninth and Thirty-fourth Legions held the walls. The Infinite Wolves and the Wolves Sanguine had been worn down to the dregs of their force. The thunder of artillery shook the walls as they pounded away at the gates of Heaven.
With an earsplitting crack the gatehouse gave out and crumble to the ground. What troops were left rushed to fill the breach with their own bodies as the combined might of seven of their sister legions marched against them. For Lucifer had declared war upon Yahweh and intended to kill him.
The two sides clashed in bitter conflict as brothers fought each other. The tide stemmed as the soldiers of the Fourteenth Legion turned and joined the defense. The Wolves Adamant rallied to the banner of their Dominus Praetorianum as he crossed blades with Lucifer himself. Locked in vicious battle neither saw the ancient god standing far off watching them.
Nathuri watched as one of his beloved sons tried to hold off his beloved nephew. He knew that Adamandriel was no match for Lucifer in a contest of divine power but could hold his own physically. The Dominus Praetorianum managed to hold Lucifer in check until Michael arrived with the full might of the Heavenly Hosts at his back. The golden angel tried to pull his forces out but found their retreat halted by the arrival of ten of the other legions.
Lucifer surrendered and was given his punishment swiftly. He was cast from the realms of the divine and confined to dwell on Earth so long as Nathuri would act as his Guardian. The six legions that remained with Lucifer to the end were given into the rule of Malthuri, the Lord of the Hellforges and undisputed Chair of the Council of Devils. Adamandriel and his angelic soldiers were assigned to some of the most dangerous war zones as peacekeepers. Their punishment was deemed to be one of atonement and not of extreme suffering as given to the other Legions.
Nathuri however chose to give some freedom to Lucifer. He allowed him to enter Purgatory and judge the dead. In time the golden angel rescinded his declaration of war. Eventually he retired to a quiet vacation home in the Bahamas where Nathuri and Talcung occasionally visit him.
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#4 The Messengers

~Arizona Sun~

Maggie Baker leaned on her cane by the side of the dusty road, staring at the spot where it happened. The old car was still there, of course, the paint chipped and faded from years of the Arizona sun. Why would she have expected differently? Every year on this day she came here, yet still she was surprised that those battered, grimy remains stood there, like an eternal memorial. Perhaps it was because no one drove down such a desolate dirt road. Perhaps potential scavengers saw that if the car was moved at all, it would crumble into nothing. Whatever the reason, the car was still there.
A harsh, dry wind swept over the road, baking Maggie’s face with its breath and attempting to toss her dull silver hair out of her tight bun. Not that it bothered her; after living here for so long, her skin was like worn leather.
Had it really happened twenty years ago? That night Charlie was driving, one moment joking and laughing with her. The next moment, he was gone after a drunk driver swerved into the driver’s side. She supposed she should’ve felt grateful to escape with only cuts and bruises. The only things she felt were harrowing grief and bitter resentment. Maggie couldn’t tell you who she hated more, the murderer who ran, or God for letting it happen.
She scolded herself for getting so emotional, but those thoughts and feelings always bubbled up here.
A gleam appeared in the distance. It was a truck, driving down the road. That truly surprised Maggie—she never saw another car on this God-forsaken road whenever she visited here. Clouds of dust rose behind it, billowing like ghosts. Closer and closer the truck came, finally slowing down in front of Maggie. The man who got out of the truck was scruffy-looking with red, sunburnt skin and whiskers that grew every which way.
Maggie could never forget that face. “You? You, of all people? How dare you come here, especially today?”
The man looked almost as surprised as Maggie, but shame soon engulfed his face. “I—I’m sorry, ma’am, but—“
“Leave!” Maggie yelled, “You killed my husband! He’s dead! Dead, just because you had too much to drink!” Maggie’s accusing finger dug into the man’s chest.
Taken off guard, the man didn’t reply for a moment. Only the sound of buzzing flies could be heard.
The man hung his head. “You’re right. I’m not even sure myself why I came here. To ask forgiveness?”
Maggie’s eyes bore into him, as if she could pierce his heart with a look. “There’s nothing you could ever do. Charlie’s gone. I only wish you died for your stupidity instead of him.”
“I’ve thought the same myself, ma’am… I’d do anything to change what I did then.”
Maggie stepped away, taken aback. This was not the killer she’d imagined, nor did this confrontation she’d long wished for bring any satisfaction. She glanced over at the car. She could almost see Charlie still sitting in the front seat, urging for her to sit and take the scenic route with him. Her eyes wandered over all the tall cacti growing by the road, and remembered how Charlie said they looked like hairy, spindly fingers pointing up to heaven. Maggie wondered if Charlie watched her from up there.
The man sighed, then turned to get back into his car. Suddenly, Maggie grabbed his arm. “What’s your name?” She wasn’t sure why she asked that, exactly—but she recalled how Charlie always found out a person’s name, and remembered it, too.
“I’m Robert.”
“Robert… did you ever drink, after that night?”
Robert’s eyes flamed. “No. I’ve never touched any alcohol since then. Not after I did that.”
Tears stung Maggie’s eyes. “Thank you.”
Robert nodded, and as he drove away, Maggie felt a little less worn by the taxing sun.
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#3 Silver-Sky Raiders

“So, uh, I don't really know the proper procedure for this, but this is my report on my current mission. Right now, day one I guess, we've just landed on Perditus. Cool name, I guess, but it sounds a bit ominous, like they're expecting something bad to happen. Oh well, we've got guns and bodyguards, so even if something does go wrong, we can handle it. Mostly I'm just so excited to be on an alien planet and studying ancient ruins! It's so amazing, just think of all the lost technology and all of the other fascinating discoveries we're going to make! It's so cool! Anyways, uh, this is Doctor Susan Davison, signing off.”
“Day two, this is Doctor Susan Davison. We've finished unloading everything and we're all set up around one of the old temples. Looks like an old T’ap’akk’um’p’t’katum complex, mostly underground. God, that hurts the throat. We're calling them Malignus, plural Maligni, on account of them being so violent and hateful to those who oppose their faith. Sounds a bit judgemental, but it's something I can actually pronounce, so I'll take it. Anyway, they had a big underground base here. I don't know why they abandoned it, but it's super cool and exciting and I love it! I'm really looking forward to studying this thing. Not only will it help us improve our own construction techniques, but it will teach us so much about their culture and history! Doctor Susan Davison, signing out!”
“Day three, we're having some trouble getting in. The gates were closed and locked, so we figured we'd power it up and try and mess around with the electronics. Not Sergei’s best idea, it just tightened the security, locked down everything. Now we can't even get to most of the electronics to undo that. Cheng’s having a look at some of the inscriptions, so maybe there's an instruction manual on this thing. Oh, some of the Federation forces found us today. Wasn't too big a deal, we scared them off pretty quickly without any casualties on either side. Unfortunately, they're probably going to come back later with force. If we can't talk them down, it'd be a tough fight, and we could take heavy losses. I guess this ended on a pretty sour note, let's hope we get something good tomorrow. Doctor Susan Davison, signing out.”
“Day four, this is Doctor Susan Davison, and I've got something interesting today. So, the text mentions a key and the “Words of Truth”. Unfortunately, we have neither of those things. What we do have is Sergei and an advanced computer system. He was able to hook up his laptop to the temple, and so far it looks promising. We haven't opened the doors yet, but we got them to respond, and so Cheng and I should be able to unlock them soon, once we can figure out the Words of Truth. We also got the temple to start lighting up a bit. One thing that's kind of interesting, most of the exterior is hard, rough stone, but the important parts such as the gate are an unnaturally smooth metal that's in perfect shape, despite the obvious wear of the outer layer. As if the outer layer is just a facade. I'll get back to you on that once we can get some good data on it. Doctor Susan Davison, signing out.”
“Day five, Susan here, I've made a discovery! Well, mostly Cheng has, but I helped. Cheng discovered a question on the door. ‘These are the Words of Truth. What is beauty of the world?” Initially, we were thinking that there was a single answer, and it was like a password. But no, it's an actual question, and different answers yield different results. Fortunately, I entered ‘Discovery’ and it opened, so that was one of the good ones. We should be able to learn a lot more now! Can you believe, a real life abandoned alien temple? It's not just in the movies now, folks! This is amazing, and I can't wait to see everything inside and figure out what it's all for! I'll report back tomorrow once we've went in and had a look at the ground floor! Doctor Susan, signing out!”
“Day six, this is Doctor Susan, this is all very fascinating! It looks like the ground floor is mostly introductory stuff, like it was designed to teach those unfamiliar with their culture and beliefs. We already knew most of this stuff, but it's still useful to have a database right here. This place is big, but we’re literally just touching the surface. I can only imagine what the rest of this place holds. There are even some basic tools and weapons, though it appears most of their stuff is voidship-based. Oh, and the entire interior is made of the same metal as the gates. I wonder if we’ll get a chance to see any of their bigger stuff. Anyway, that’s all well and good. Now to actually study the stuff! This is Doctor Susan Davison, signing out!”
“Day seven, Doctor Susan here, we were able to disassemble one of the mining lasers. It appears to be pretty similar to one of our laser cannons, but with a fusion reactor, and it's made of the same metal as the interior and the gates. Of course, the design is a bit clumsy, but it’s meant to be stable in one position for several hours, rather than the tracking and precision needed by an actual weapon. Anyway, we have most of the information from here recorded and translated, so we’re probably going to be moving on to the rest of the building soon. Let’s hope the other doors work like the first. Doctor Susan Davison, signing out!”
“Day seven, Doctor Susan here. The Federation came at us. Two squads, tried to arrest us. Unfortunately, we had to kill thirteen of their soldiers and capture four others. In addition to the obvious problem that we just killed a bunch of people, the Federation is gonna be pretty mad at us. We're planning on moving all our stuff inside and closing the gates. Not ideal, but it should keep them out and we still have another month or two of food. That's plenty of time to get us out of here, considering what we have access to in the temple. Also, we've gotten one level down. A bunch of historical and philosophical documents here. We're definitely recording these! Doctor Susan, signing out!”
“Day eight, it's been over a week now, and we're locked inside. The Federation is camped outside, and they probably don't want us to continue our mission for the Empire. It seems like they're trying to break in, though. It should take them a while. The gate has over a meter of that metal, and it seems to repair itself when it's damaged. It can't regrow lost material, but I don't think they'll get far enough for that to be an issue. We've told the temple to keep them out, and it seems to be more than willing to do so. I know it sounds weird to talk about it like its a person, but it almost is, in a way. I think it has a powerful semi-sentient A.I. built in. Doctor Susan, signing out.”
“Day nine, Doctor Susan, the metal is made of nanobots! How they work or how they were made, no idea, but this is perhaps the single greatest discovery this team has ever made! This also means that if exposed to more raw materials, it might be able to use those to replace lost bots, and that separated bots might be able to rejoin if they have a clear path. Also, the A.I. hypothesis is confirmed now. I was able to talk to it, after some work by Cheng. It seems confused and sad, but also angry at the Federation forces banging on its door. We're trying to help it turn weapons back on to drive them off. I'm not too keen on it, but I don't think we really have a choice anymore. This is Doctor Sudan Davison, signing out.”
“Day ten, we're down to level three, weapon controls. Sorry, this is Doctor Susan Davison, almost forgot procedure! Hah! We've got the weapons online, which is good for us, I suppose. I still don't feel right killing hundreds of people, but this data could be the key to a better future for uncountable trillions. I just wish we could've talked to them. On a much brighter note, we've not only turned the weapons on, but we've gotten a bunch of useful information on them. Sergei and I are taking notes, we don't tend to use lasers ourselves of course, but better batteries, capacitors, and wiring could be a boon for all the Empire! Also, we've decided to name the A.I. ‘Ira', from the old Hebrew. I like it, so props to Cheng on that. This is Doctor Susan, signing out.”
“Day eleven, this is Doctor Susan here. The outside is a warzone now, as they're bringing in vehicles that are actually damaging the outside. The stone is breaking apart, the metal is rippling and even splashing, they might be able to crack the place open soon. Ira says there's a spaceship somewhere down here, but she's not allowed to turn it on. We need to get down to floor five and pass some kind of test. We've moved all of our stuff down to floor four, system controls, and sealed off floors one and two. I'm not sure how it'll launch the ship, though, seeing as it's nearly fifty meters underground. For now, this is Doctor Susan, signing out!”
“Day twelve, Susan again, we're down to level five. This is supposedly where the ship is, beyond a door labelled ‘Advanced System Controls, Emergency Operations’. I guess this counts as an emergency, and that's what the ship is for. Ira has been pretty vague about both the ship and the test, but the test seems to mostly be a matter of knowing the right stuff, and she says the ship will be more than powerful enough to help us. What's weird, though, as there's no ambiguity in the Malignus language about that. It doesn't mean that it is powerful enough and will help, it means that it isn't powerful enough now, but it will be when we pass the test. This is very strange. Maybe it's in disrepair but easy to fix? Maybe it's yet to be assembled but they have all the parts? Whatever the case, this is Susan Davison, signing out!”
“Day thirteen, Doctor Susan here. The test is very difficult. Harder than any of the exams in University, and they didn't just give me this doctorate on a whim. Luckily, the three of us get to work together, and Ira has incentive to consider us favourably in the form of the Federation storming around the outside, and sensors indicate they're starting up their own spaceship, more than capable of breaking this thing apart. Ultimately, I'd rather there weren't such incentive, because losing all this research and going to a Federation PoW camp doesn't sound very fun. This is Susan Davison, signing out, and hoping desperately I'll be able to make another log tomorrow.”
“Day fourteen, this is Doctor Susan Davison in orbit around Perditus, final report on mission T-691-442, Patience-class station ‘Ira'. I must amend my earlier statement: The temple did not contain a spaceship. It is one. We are considering the planet for Annexation, and I am preparing to report back to Augustus himself with these findings. We've learned a lot, and will be able to learn much more. It's a shame we had to kill so many Federals, but the rest peacefully surrendered once we took out their ship with a single shot from our main weapon. As much as we've done here, and all the progress we've made for all the galaxy, I can't wait to do more! I hope I'll get to revisit Ira one day, and I'll miss Cheng and Sergei, but this is a great day, and the future is bright! This is Doctor Susan Davison, signing out!”
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#2 (Runner-up) Good Ship Revenge

The bell tolled three and three good friends sat around the card table, smoking their cigars. The first, a tall, lanky man of about nineteen and a young lieutenant, spoke.
“Nikolai, have you really found a woman to woo? Is she truly of noble blood and striking beauty?”
“Of course, friend,” replied Nikolai, “No woman is fairer. Her father, as well as a counselor to the Tsar, is a baron. His estate is a large one and the lady herself has many thousands a year.”
“Indeed?” inquired the first. He then turned his gaze to his other friend. “And what do you think, friend Jasha?”
Jasha removed the cigar from his mouth. “I don’t know what to think, Trofim. I would say once upon a time that all this courtship nonsense was a waste of energy, money, and time.”
“Once upon a time? Don’t tell me you too have fallen into the clutches of a woman’s enticing gaze?”
“It’s strange. Once I would have resisted such temptations, but now…” He lapsed off into another silence that lasted another ten minutes.
Now, of course, is the time to fully introduce the players in this great game. Nikolai Razuvayev, son of a wealthy banker, was the eldest of the three friends. He, at this young age of twenty, had already gained much favor at court, especially with the ladies. Trofim Naumov, the lieutenant in the army, was the eldest child of the late Count Naumov. However, he had ceded the title to his younger brother and, instead, joined the army. There he had gained command of a troop of cavalry; he was on a two month leave in Moscow. Jasha Zavrazin, third son of a rich ship-owner, was residing in Moscow and attempting to get work as a clerk. He was just eighteen, but he was a strong man of little emotion in public and a great favorite among his friends.
The three young men were also out to find themselves wives. This topic of conversation had before come up in their late-night card games and cigar-smokings. Each had spoken about a beautiful woman he had met. Strangely enough, the women in question sounded very alike. Their looks, their heritages, their incomes, all was generally the same. A thought flashed through Jasha’s mind.
“Hold up fellows. I have been thinking about these women we speak of.”
“Is that so?” laughed Trofim, “Pray, do tell us your thoughts.”
“We each have described a seemingly different, yet strikingly similar, woman. Has it occurred to you that they may be the same?”
“A well-made point.” announced Nikolai. “Well, there is one way to discover this. I have her name. If it be the same as the one given to you, friends, it shall be the truth.”
“Well, get on with it,” commanded Jasha breathlessly. “Let us hear it.”
“Anastasiya Dimitriev is her name.”
The room was blanketed in silence. Jasha’s cigar had gone cold and sat limply in his hand. Torfim stared with gaping mouth. His cigar had fallen to the card table, where it, too, had gone cold. Nikolai, from his friends’ expressions, realized the same truth they did. He sat back and stared at his hands folded in his lap.
Eventually, Jasha stood up, relit his cigar, and began pacing about the room. Nikolai glanced up at him once and then stared into the fireplace. Torfim continued to sit with wide eyes and a shocked expression. Finally, Nikolai spoke, his voice grave and very serious. “Friends, we are caught in a devil’s trap.” Again, there was silence.
Trofim rose from his seat, tossed away his cigar, and shook the hands of his comrades.
“May the best man win, I suppose.” he remarked.
“Aye,” agreed Jasha, “We must go about this as gentlemen.”
“Agreed.” Nikolai said, his voice still deathly serious.
The friends parted ways, Nikolai and Trofim returning to their respective residences. The very next day, the three friends again met for dinner, cards, and cigars. However, this evening was much more solemn and quiet than the previous one. Little was said, and no one dared voice his thoughts about the discovery of last night.
This pattern repeated for the rest of the week until the three invited a mutual friend of theirs, the young Baron Stepan Yakimov. The young man, only about eighteen, was invited to the dinner only because the three wanted a little company besides themselves. They thought that, perhaps, Stepan would remove some of the gloomy atmosphere that had dominated the meetings of late. Soon, however, they were to find out otherwise.
After dinner was finished, the four young men moved to the card table to play, of course, cards. They, with lit cigars and full glasses, played for two hours with the greatest possible silence possible. Finally, Stepan, sensing the tension, spoke.
“Well, friends. I have recently met a fine woman of high position and great beauty.”
“Is that so?” asked Trofim, not looking from his cards
“Pray, do tell.” commented Nikolai, halfheartedly. Jasha did not speak.
“I shall!” said Stepen, without the slightest hesitation. “She is of a good family, daughter of a baron!” At this, Jasha raised his head and his cigar burned faster. “He is a councilor to the Tsar himself.” Nikolai gave a quick glance to Jasha before focusing again upon his cards. “And she is of the fairest beauty. Such flaxen hair, such deep, blue eyes, such fair skin! No woman is her equal.” Trofim, in his surprise, accidentally bet high with a three and a seven. “I have begun courting this rare woman. I have become a regular at her house. It was only by great persuasion that I was able to decline her father’s dinner invitation in favor of tonight.”
“She sounds simply divine,” remarked Nikolai in a shaken voice, “What is her name?”
“Anastasiya Dimitriev. Have you fellows heard of her?”
The three could only nod assent and continue their card game in silence. Soon, the clock struck midnight and Stepen announced that he must depart. After he had left, the three comrades looked at each other for several minutes.
“The devil.” muttered Trofim. “The devil works against us.”
“What are we to do?” inquired Jasha of the ceiling.
“The fates!” exclaimed Nikoali. “They play against us.”
The three friends again played a round of cards, but their hearts were not in it. Soon after, before the bells tolled one, the room was empty but for the clouds of cigar smoke slowly dissipating and the dying fire.
The next day, Jasha found himself walking down a road towards the house of Anastasiya Dimitiriev. He wondered why he was doing this and multiple times tried to find reason behind his desire to call upon the center of his affections. However, its was all to no avail. Climbing the front steps of the house, he knocked upon the door. A servant answered and led him to a foyer to wait. Soon, he was led through a series of ornately furnished rooms and passageways to a study full of books, a desk, and several window couches. Here he was announced to the lady he so passionately adored.
“Ahh!” she exclaimed, “Mister Zavrazin, who I danced with at the ball nearly a month ago! How do you do?”
“Your beauty still continues to daze the sun, my lady.”
“Oh, you flatter me, good sir. And please, call me Anastasiya.”
“Very well, Anastaisiya, but you must call me Jasha then.”
And so then went on. For nearly an hour, the two young people talked and laughed and debated various subjects. To be utterly truthful, Anastasiya Dimitiriev was a very smart young lady, who enjoyed learning and reading, and thus the two young individuals were able to converse very intelligently together.
However, Jasha forced himself to create an imaginary duty that had to be performed. As he departed, he saw Stepen Yakimov pull up in his carriage. Quickly leaving via a back door, Jasha watched as Stepen was admitted to the house. He then quickly made his way under the window of Anastasiya’s study. He heard the servant announce “Baron Stepen Yakimov, milady!” and listened to the formal greetings. Disheartened, yet strangely pleased, Jasha departed homewards.
The next week Jasha spent looking for work. He saw his friends in passing, but mainly avoided contact. Nonetheless, he was ultimately unable to avoid them. A week and a half after his visit with Anastasiya, he had dinner with his friends.
This dinner was much like their other dinners, with cards and cigars. However, one thing was different. The silence that usually accompanied their meetings was gone. Conversation was constantly present. Even during the card game, the talking did not abate. Finally, during a lull between games, Nikolai spoke up.
“Pray friends, have you seen Miss Dimitriev recently?”
Glancing up, surprised, Trofim said “Why, yes.”
Jasha, with some trepidation, revealed that he had visited the lady in question.
“I thought so.” Nikolai ejaculated. “I, too, have been to see her. I ask now, have you seen much of Stepen?” Both said that they had not. “Indeed, I think it is because he has been with fair Miss Dimitiriev.”
“What?” exclaimed Torfim. “All this time?”
“Daily.” replied Nikolai.
“Another strike of fate.” muttered Jasha.
“That’s not the last of it either.” Nikolai continued, “I have heard that he plans to engage her for marriage!”
Another pressing silence covered the room. The fire crackled merrily in the hearth. Jasha starred, blank eyed, out the window while Trofim dropped his glass onto the floor. It shattered into a thousand pieces, but he didn’t notice. Nikolai quietly folded his hands and waited with a pained expression on his face.
Finally, Jasha looked back at Nikolai. He nodded, and his friend returned the gesture. Together, they got up and walked towards the door.
“Where are you going?” questioned Trfim, snapping out of this repose. His voice was cracked with emotion. Jasha turned to face him in the doorway.
“To kill Baron Stepen Yakimov.”
Jasha stood on the grassy lawn of the young baron’s estate. Twenty paces away from him stood the man in question, hastily dressed. In his hand rested a pistol. An identical one sat in Jasha’s right hand. Looking into his opponent’s eyes, Jasha could see the fear behind them. Stepen knew he was going to die. He had even written a short note to his next of kin. Between the two and off to the right, Nikolai and another man acted as seconds. The doctor was just inside the doorway of the nearby house.
The darkness was just deep enough to mostly hide the faces of the duelers. The full moon, just rising from the trees, lit up the scene in a ghostly manner. Jasha could feel his heart beating. Stepen swallowed as a bead of sweat rolled down his face. Slowly, calmly, the two men lowered their guns and pointed them at each other. Jasha saw the gun tremble in Stepen’s hand. Taking careful aim, he pulled back the hammer of the gun. He counted to ten. The tension was becoming tangible. He gently squeezed the trigger.
The gun went off with a bang. Stepen fired less than a split second later. His ball whistled by and grazed Jasha’s scalp. Stepen was not so lucky. A red stain was rapidly spreading across his white shirt as the wound poured forth the life of the body. He fell to his knees and gurgled like he was choking. He coughed and blood stained his lips and teeth. He then fell forward onto his face. Jasha and the doctor reached him at the same time. Rolling him over gently, the doctor ripped open the white shirt now stained red. Bringing his lantern closer, he inspected the wound. Stepen was gasping for air and blood welled up in his mouth.
“Jasha…” he gasped Jasha kneeled next to him. “Jasha… go,… to…” He gurgled and choked on the last word as he breathed his last breath. The doctor sighed and rose.
“May God have mercy on this soul.”
“God did have mercy.” said Jasha. “He allowed me to kill him.”
The next day, Stepen’s obituary was printed in the newspaper. It simply stated that he was killed, apparently in a duel, and that he had left his entire estate to his younger brother, the new Baron of Yakimov. For about two days, the police opened an inquiry to no avail before giving up. The three young friends continued to court the beautiful Anastasiya. Before long, however, they began to quarrel and fight amongst themselves. Worried that that a duel might force each man to kill the other, they all decided to propose to the young lady. Whomever she chose would be the true and fair winner.
The day came, and all three men went to call on Miss Dimitriev. They entered one by one, first Nikolai, then Trofim, and finally Jasha. Nikolai left the young lady’s study with his head high and his manner proud, but his face showed utter despair. Trofim exited the room with a military air, marching out of the room as a soldier who knows his fate is sealed. With both fear and hope beating in his chest, Jasha entered. The beautiful Anastasiya was sitting on the window seat, poised as a great lady should be, looking out the window. She addressed Jasha coldly.
“Mr. Zavrazin, how do you do?”
“Very well, Ana… Miss Dimitriev. And you?”
“Fairly well, thank you. I assume you have come to ask for my hand?”
“Yes, I…”
“Is that why you have been visiting me so often?”
“Why, yes, I…”
“And here I thought that you were trying to be a friend to me.”
“Anastasiya, I…”
“Miss Dimitriev, if you please, good sir!” Anastasiya commanded.
Jasha, startled by this, drew back. Anastasiya finally looked at him. Her deep, blue, beautiful, eyes, framed by her wonderful flaxen hair, were a mixture of sadness, pain, and cold anger.
“Madam,” Jasha said firmly, meeting her gaze resolutely, “fo you or do you not accept my proposal.” A flash of bitter sadness crossed Anastasiya’s face. She hesitated and then she seemed to steel herself.
“Mr. Zavrazin,” she began and then paused. “If you had come yesterday or tomorrow, I might have said yes. But this is too much for me. Three proposals in one day…” she shook her head. “Man is fickle. I am afraid I cannot accept your proposal. Please understand.” As she spoke the last words, a tone of grief and regret made itself clear. Jasha could tell that this hurt her just as much as him.
Jasha straightened his back, put back his shoulders, and assumed a stone cold look. He could not control the tears that streamed down his face.
“Thank you, madam.” he replied in a cold, hard voice that matched his look. “I bid you a good day, milady.”
“Goodbye, Mr. Zavrazin. I am sorry that we must part this way. May we still be friends?”
“Indeed.” He nodded. “Should you ever need anything, madam, do not hesitate to call for me.” With that, he left the room and followed his friends out the door.

Three years later, Anastasiya Dimitiriev was married to the younger brother of a rich duke. The year after, Trofim Naumov, then a captain, was killed in the battle at Dargo, said to be fighting off ten men.
Two years after that, Nikolai Razuvayev was shot by a deranged lover, a lady of the court. His last words were addressed to his dead friend Trofim. “It seems the devil has got us all, Trofim. He has got us all.”
Five years after Trofim was killed, Jasha Zavrazim died of yellow fever. His final words, spoken to a friend, were: “Tell Anastasiya that I killed Stepen. Tell her… I’m sorry. Don’t…”
Anastasiya lived happily for many years and died in her bed at the age of seventy-two. She regretted her decision to deny Jasha. She often told her children that “I was a fool. A fool to deny him. I killed him.” Before she died, she told her son “I forgive him. I have held onto the pain long enough. I forgive him. I hope he and God forgive me.”
........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

#1 (Winner) Pogglind

Shot … see the bandage? … look … who did it?
We don't know … we will.
Your luck … my luck … your luck lost.
Wake up … the woods are lovely, dark, and deep … don't want to … who shot me? … we don't know … we don't know … right, we've said that before, mate.
Laughing hurts the stitches … the stitches aren't … no, don't pull at … stop … when did you get here?
What happened? Shot. Shot, shot, shot, stop losing that … why does that sound familiar? … told you, told you … heard you, heard you … don't let it fade again.
Please why is this happening stop it … spirits … it hurts it hurts it hurts stop--!
It's dragging you away … don't let it … but I have promises to keep … can I show you something sure what is it oh wow … it's good to make you smile smile at what?
Why is there a bandage? … shot … we're trying, we're trying, please … you're allowed to cry now, just make sure you find your smile again … why is there a bandage? … arrrgh, Jay! How many times … how many times have you told me?
We will find who did this to you, I promise … remember this … we will find him, we will … we will bring him to justice … no matter what happens, no matter what, we will find who did this to you … miles to go before I sleep ... we're looking for him right now.
I'll look after her … you need to remember this … she’ll be ok … I'll look after her … we both will … remember this.
I love you … don't forget that … I love you too.
Don't forget them … don't forget them … don't forget … don't.
…A miracle is….
….
_________________________________________________________
….
He was cold.
There was a pressure all along his side, pressing, it felt like he was sinking into it, like it was sinking into him. Unrelentingly it pressed and bit by bit he could feel the rises and falls under his arm, his side, his leg. He was half curled, he realised, bit by bit. The pressure was along his cheek too. The pressure was along his side too. He felt like he was sinking, into it. Sinking. There was a pressure all along his side, mirroring the other side, both sides, all sides.
He clawed at the pressure. His head tilted back and a groan pried free of his teeth and startled his ears. Startled into life they leapt and screamed at him. He heard water fall in echoes, water fall in echoes, his breathing sharp and ragged, rumbles in the distance, a sudden squeak of metal brakes and horns, he heard them all in echoes.
Like sound was an electric shock his body jump started into shivers and quakes. Cold, cold, cold ice poured down his limbs into his bones across every cell and never stopped. He gasped. The cold seeped into his lungs in that rush of air, but he felt alive. It pulled-- pushed-- pulled him away from the empty pressure at his sides. Not empty.
Again, again, he forced air into his lungs, the sound grated against his ears, but he did it anyway and he forced his eyes open. They fought back. Nails hammered them shut but he had to pull them free. Blurry grey flickered in a line then faded, then flickered, then faded. Spiraling orbs -- strange hexagons, octagons, and more besides -- caught and twitched among the grey. Light. Colour. Colour in yellows, blues, greens, and whites. The sight felt wet. It was a watery sight that he had to see, he had to, see, it was right there.
In the dark of his eyelids splotches of expanding purple and green pulsed, but it was black at the same time, only being banished whenever he managed to pull his eyelids partially apart. Electricity danced at his fingertips, or was that at the rising ache of the pressure at his side? His head rolled and his chin tucked into the ground. He felt the rough surface scrape against skin. Blurry grey widened and he could make out vague eddies and dips in the grey surface below him. He latched to one hill and held it. He couldn't let go. He saw it, it was there, it was real, and he could open his eyes.
Stop drowning. Teeth ground together, a hiss like a oxygen tank broke free. Focus, focus, and he swung his weight backwards. A thump reached his ears, echoed through the pressure rolling from side to back, and he couldn't stop the exhausted huff that left him. Far above, far ahead, a white glow was fixed to a grey backdrop. Clouds, sunlight. Gravity was stronger than the nails, or maybe he had just broken through the stitches tying his eyelids together. He was awake.
He felt….
Shivering, he tried to sit up. The world swung and blurred around him and he found himself right back on his back, now with a sting of impact against his shoulder blades.
A pained wheeze stung him, more startled than true. The sting faded quickly. The fall had been braced by short distances and fabric working in tandem. Slowly, slowly, he rolled himself into a sitting position, kept barely propped up with his hands. Bit by bit he steadied, though the shivering kept casting aside his balance. He eventually tried removing one hand, then the other. He held upright. Thank goodness. He scrubbed at his eyes to clear the water, blinking hard enough for spots to curl across his vision.
Car park, he thought. He blinked rapidly, then took in the cars in their two dimensional pens all in their neat rows. Sharp reflections caught and stung at his eyes and left splotches where he looked. Streetlights, off now. A street further away, a road with cars roaring back, forth, back. Buildings loomed down at him, shrinking him, from nearly every side. He had to crane his neck to find their tops. Car park. This is a car park. The thought sluggishly rolled from one side of his skull to the other, half heartedly cross referencing into dust.
No one was around as he dragged himself into a crouch, then onto his feet. The shivering had dissolved into solitary shudders. They only appeared randomly, with gaps in between that didn't give him the pleasure of a timetable. He adjusted, braced from them, prepared for them, and then had to scramble to grasp at the side of a car before shivers could throw him to the concrete.
He felt cold. His bones were chilled ice, the weak sun barely melting him.
Cautiously he stumbled his way from the carpark to the footpath surrounding it. Objects in the distance seemed fuzzy. The cars nearby felt like his eyes were imagining them rightwards of where they were. It was disorientating. His footsteps felt loud, though they were muffled by the cars shrieking in the road.
When he hit the footpath he was thankful that his balance was back. He could walk. He was walking, one step, two, and he was going to walk without falling over.
The sound of cars jumped closer.
He blinked rapidly and pressed himself against a building’s wall. It felt wet at his back. He felt dizzy again. Where was he? A car shot past the footpath and he blinked again.
Wasn't he in a car park? He shook his head slowly, feeling the weight of a headache roll from side to side. A gaggle of teenagers strode past, giggling and laughing to one another, but before he could look up at them they had crossed the road and were a million miles away.
Something felt… something was wrong. What was wrong? Work it out, he had to work it out, he had promises to keep… didn't he?
When he shook his head again, the roll of the headache was too swift. It hurt. He pushed off the wall and kept walking, kept searching.
Searching?
He paused again and the crowd parted around him. Some turned up their noses, others were too busy to care. What was he searching for? He thumbed his chin and got out of the crowds’ way. There was an archway into a park and he slipped inside.
He stalled again. Why had he stopped walking? Was there something in the park? There were rivers and trees and grass and someone walking their dog, but nothing like what he was looking for. Looking for? What was he….
Something was wrong, here. What was wrong?
Ugh, his head hurt. What was going on, what was wrong with him? There was something wrong, he was sure of it. His legs felt like they were seizing up on him, so he found a bench and sat. His legs swung in the freezing air. That was wrong.
Huh? Why was that wrong?
He scanned the park around him. The dog and the man were gone. He couldn't recall what way they were walking, but they must have vanished into the trees or slipped out of the park. With a sinking rock in his stomach, he realised he couldn't recall which way he'd come from either.
He should go back to the carpark. How long had it been since he woke up? Which way had he come from?
How did he get to that carpark in the first place?
His head hurt.
He absently ran his hand through his hair. It didn't feel like a head injury, and he couldn't feel blood stiffening his hair. But if he had been bleeding, someone would have stopped him as he walked. He should go back to the carpark, somehow. Someone had to be looking for him--
The park was empty. Wind curled the grass around him, and for a moment he couldn't breathe.
He needed help.
Something was wrong with him.
He passed out of the park without a second thought. Think, think, think, find something, anything, and get back to that car park. Retrace steps. Something might be there, something might be there to help him work out what was wrong, other than everything.
Which way was the car park? There had to be a landmark he could find. Once oriented, he could find it. He could find a clue. He couldn't rest until he found the answer. Maybe a car hit him, and all the dizzy feelings were from that impact?
Maybe.
Which way to go?
He stopped walking.
Which way was the park?
‘Not again,’ he groaned. Nobody heard him, or nobody cared. They were too buried in their hurry, their race from point A to B and need to draw ruler-sharp lines between.
What he needed was a landmark. He needed something big enough to keep himself oriented from a distance, no matter how far he went. He seized the thought and held it. He had a plan. He just had to remember it this time. What would work as a landmark? Instinctively he looked up.
The sun wasn't going to work. It was behind too many clouds. Many of the buildings looked identical from memory, so even if he picked one of those he wouldn't be able to remember which it was.
He just had to pick a direction, then keep walking until he found a unique building.
That wouldn't be too difficult, if he stopped forgetting which way he had been walking each time he stopped. His head swiveled. Streetlights hung far above, extinguished. All around were the rhythmic thudding of footsteps, which never paused but parted around him.
He should have stayed in the park and checked through each exit.
Again, he walked. And he walked. Walking.
Walked, until he stopped.
Towering from around the corner were several buildings, shorter but spread and sprawling. Between buildings were several car parks. It wasn't the large network he had woken in, but small cubbies meant for two or three at once. The tone of the crowd was... different. There were less worries about moving from point to point, and he could see backpacks casually slung on backs. Above the doors of one building were words: Oak Ridge University.
This place would work! It worked better than wandering the city again. He could find a library and find a map, or a computer with a map. Then once he had his hands on a map, he could find the car park by retracing… oh, right. The problem was he couldn't remember where his steps were, so he couldn't retrace them.
No, he should look for a map anyway. It was a step in the right direction.
The crowds seemed to be thinning as he waited. He lingered by the doors until a large group sauntered their way inside, then slipped in after them. His attempt at sneaking failed as a few sniggered down at him, then quickened their pace and left him behind.
Somewhere, a door slammed shut.
The thinning crowds thinned into nothingness. On one wall, he spotted a clock. A few minutes past eleven. If this was a university, the students must be going to their classes. What was he doing…? Map! He paused by a wall, trying not to grab for it. Map. He was going to the library to find a map so he could… so he could… car park? Something about a car park. Where was the library? It could be anywhere.
He needed a map to find the library to find a map to find somewhere. So long as he didn't forget even more of that plan, he would be fine.
The problem he found was that he couldn’t find the first map. The university halls were completely deserted. Any footsteps he heard were muffled and distant, with the bare warnings of doors blocking their way. He kept checking the walls. No map appeared, but he did see several hundred advertisements in loud colours declaring this thing and that.
300 or History? Debate Every Week @ 201 010G! 5PM Every Thursday! | FOR SALE: One (1) Toyota Mini | Pool 1 closed for maintenance; direct inquiries to Paul Noodle. | We Send Employers To You! Sign up for the Employee's Initiative TODAY. | 300 or History? | We Send Employers To You! | Wanted: Participants for a Psychology Study. Win: $100 gift voucher. Contact for details. | We Send Employers To You! | FOR SALE: One (1) Toyota Mini | Save for the things you love -- get student discounts for transport. | 300 or History? | We Send Employers To You!
The repetition was unsettling. If he saw one more gaudy rainbow poster telling him about employers, he was going to find a shredder.
What do you know, he laid eyes on one faster than being plowed by a car. He crossed to the wall and tried to tear it down. No luck, he needed to be another hand taller to reach the ugly wannabe light show--
‘Are you alright?’
Startled, he jumped back from the wall and shoved his hands in his pockets. No, sir, he was not doing anything to the posters. Behind him, there was a man. Tall, just like everyone, pushing some sort of cart in front of him. The cart was covered in a white sheet, so he couldn't work out what it was.
The man wore glasses, and he adjusted them as he peered downwards. ‘I'm sorry, didn't mean to scare you,’ he said. The man wasn't quite looking at him. He was looking beyond, down the hall stretched by endless repetition. ‘Ah, are your parents anywhere around?’
He… parents?
Never mind how his legs not touching the ground had felt weird -- that was wrong. He just had to work out why.
‘I'm, I'm Walter,’ the man said. He was smiling, but it felt like a performance. ‘...This is the part where you introduce yourself?’
He didn't say a word.
‘Never mind then. Stranger danger? Right, um….’ Walter looked to the cart, then pushed it against the wall. ‘Stay,’ he told it, then abandoned it and made his way to him.
Walter wore a tweed jacket, a bright blue tie nestled among it, and he only noticed that because he had a hand-sized button pinned to it. It was also bright blue, with a lopsided pink heart in the middle. It didn't fit at all with the rest of Walter. He didn't seem to notice his stare.
‘Could you come with me, please? I mean, ah--’ He glanced down the hall ‘--If your parents are right around the corner I'd like to just, ah, lead you back to them. But if you’re actually lost and they're nowhere then I really don't want to leave you here?’ As if they were weights, the more words Walter spoke the more Walter’s shoulders hunched. ‘Are your parents here?’
‘No?’ he said.
Walter muttered, ‘Definitely shouldn't leave. Could you come with me, just a little way? There's an office with a chair, and there are some windows facing the student parking so you can give a shout if you see your parents?’
It was a tempting offer. The thoughts raced and bobbed around his head like a dolphin at a zoo. On one hand, he could refuse and keep looking for the library or a map to the library. But Walter wouldn't likely leave. On the other hand, he could go to this office. If on the way he saw a map, he could try remember where it is… but with his memory, he might take a wrong turn. He might find something to help in the office itself. Plus there was a car park. Maybe that could jog his memory.
Wait, wasn't he trying to find the car park so he could find help? This was help. Wasn't it? No, wasn't it to try find out what happened…? He was confusing himself.
Walter led the way down the hall. No maps lept into view. It wasn't long before Walter opened a door and stepped in, holding it open so it wouldn't snap shut on him.
‘Hey, Helen,’ Walter said.
It was cluttered. There were two desks, with a narrow window on one wall, and papers stacked on both desks and the windowsill. Between two stacks, a narrow and rat-like face peered back at them.
‘Falls, what the hell are you wearing?’ she said.
Walter beamed. ‘Clothes?’
‘You know that wasn't what I was talking about. Is that-- even the paint’s still wet!’
He made his way to the window. There were boxes as high as his waist, each filled with even more paper. Some looked half shredded from the force of their printing, be it ink or pen. Out the window, there was a car park. Cars like giant beetles lay in their rows, and it wasn't the car park he had woken in. At least, he thought it wasn't.
‘I see, you mean this?’ Walter was saying. ‘Dawn painted it this morning. She's going to be an artist when she grows up, I just know it.’
Helen snorted.
‘Ok, be an ah-- bad person. Could you do something for me?’
Their voices lowered as he leaned his arms on the stack of paper, watching the cars below. Most were statues. As he watched, one car pulled in. It was bright red against the sea of cool greys, with sunflowers in the windows.
He could catch a few words from the conversation behind him. Police, wait, find, search. He couldn't tell if he wasn't hearing them, or wasn't remembering them.
This car park wasn't helping. He should've kept looking for the lib--
Where did Walter go?
The office’s other occupants had been smoothly sliced in half. Helen he could hear, a pen scratching away behind the towers of paper and occasional wispy breath. The rest of the office was deserted, and there wasn't a single computer in sight. No luck getting a map off of one. He glanced at the car park. Nothing. Nothing, nothing, nothing.
He unclasped his hands. He wrinkled his nose -- nervous sweat was making fingers stick and slide against one another.
The towers worked in his favour, as they neatly hid any movements from the corners of Helen’s eyes. He took it slow. He waited, making sure that he was below Helen’s line of sight, and then just like that slipped out the door.
That was easy enough. He pulled the door to behind him and set off down the corridor. Right. Which way was… was….
Wait, why did he do that? He trawled backwards like a bear, rummaging through his memories and tossing them in every direction. What made his decision? He recalled the time before, the time doing, the time after, but the “why” was melted away in the fog of memory.
Officially, his memory was a sieve.
And he had kept walking and the office was out of his line of sight. Well done, him, for doing the exact thing that made him lose the car park and the grass park in the first place. Truly, he was the epitome of the human race.
The endlessly repeating advertisements were not helping matters. He paused. A door was open a crack, just like he had left the office door. He sighed. Thank goodness, he had accidentally given himself a landmark.
Bad feeling the first came when he had to dig in his heels to push the door open. The office door hadn't been weighted. The thought crossed his mind a second too late, then his foot struck something and he yelped.
The world spun around him and threw him to the floor. His chin hit something solid. The door clicked shut. That was bad feeling the second.
It wasn't the office.
The room was all shadows and a vague, waverly light. Benches rose into the tall roof, spreading backwards, and he recognised them as bleachers. Indoor bleachers? They were facing a large window, and from the floor it looked like a perfectly clear sky pressed to the glass.
Behind him, abandoned on the floor, was a wedge. He had tripped on that.
Rubbing his chin, he used the nearest bench to help him stand. It stung under his fingers, but he couldn't feel any torn skin or wet ooze. Even the sting was fading with time. He could see long lights on the ceiling, but none were on. The only light came from out the window.
The window faced into a pool.
A good few metres above the top of the window, the surface of the water waved. The light danced through the waters and caused odd patterns to flex and curl in the walls of the room. The floor of the pool was level with the floor of the room. He could even press his head to the glass and see the pool length extend into the distance. The dark blue “T” line of the lanes stretched into the water’s fog. If there were swimmers, he would have had a perfect view. As it was, both pool and room were empty.
All in all, an interesting diversion. He reached up to the door handle and pulled it open.
...And pulled it open.
Open.
Oh dear.
The wedge looked innocently up at him. At least he knew why the door was open a crack.
No matter! On the other side of the bleachers there was another door, so all he had to do was--
--feel crushing disappointment.
Beside the door, at about double his height, there was a keypad. There was also a card reader beside it. He wasn't getting out through either door. And, the dark wasn't hiding any trap doors or hidden panels, there was just darkness and the pool. He was stuck.
Looking on the silver lining, he wasn't going to get himself lost again. There were loose chairs as well as the benches, and he pulled one next to the door to wait. People had to be using the room. Why else would they keep the door open? He just had to wait for them to open it, and then ask them where the library was.
Oh! He had left the office to find a bathroom and wash his face. He let his head hit the wall. He needed a pen. If he wrote things down, maybe he would stop forgetting what he was doing.
11:58
Directly above him, there was a clock. Nearly twelve. He had to lean forward to see it, but see it he did. That meant he had been here for what, an hour now? It hadn't felt like an hour. But his memory had more holes than a broken teapot. It clearly wasn't fit for purpose. Was there a money back guarantee for me--
Movement.
11:59
A shape had plunged into the water.
Shadows thrashed through a curtain of bubbles. Like a curtain they rose. A hand, an arm, a face screwed up and struggling, emerged. They dropped quickly. They dropped downwards. They dropped inevitably. He didn't hear a sound, but saw when the shape hit the pool floor. The remaining bubbles splayed and played outwards. Rising, they revealed the shape.
Chains were wrapped around their arms. Chains were lashed around their waist. Chains were choking them, and the second the sight registered he screamed.
He grabbed the chair. It hurt. The window! That was the quickest, that was easiest, all he had to do was get through it--!
BANG!
The world tumbled. He tumbled. The chair, himself, everything was felled in moments and he reeled. The room was too warm. He stood too fast but he could feel the earth spinning, throwing him instead of the chair off balance. The force of his throw, surely, surely something--!
12:00
No, not even a dent. Get it again, get it again. This time he kept hold of it and slammed the seat into the glass. Sharp. His arms screamed. His hands howled. Get it again! Use the corner, hit it, do something!
The person was grasping, yanking at the chains, eyes screwed shut. Their legs planted like trees, yet they failed to lever themselves upward. Little flecks of pink drifted in the water. Brown looked like black from the wet.
12:01
It wasn't working. No matter how hard he hit the window, no spiderweb cracks appeared.
He dropped the chair. It was loud when it crashed but he ignored it. It was loud when he crashed into the door.
‘Help! Someone, someone’s drowning!’ he screamed. His throat tore. He slammed his fist into the door. Twice. Thrice. Again, again. He kept screaming, someone, anyone, go into the pool, save him.
12:02
Nothing, nothing. The other door was like running into a wall, and surely the sound was loud enough for someone to notice.
‘Please!’
12:03
Again, the chair, the chair, he bashed it into the door. He wasn't even sure what he was saying. It didn't matter. What mattered was the sound. What mattered was someone hearing and helping.
12:04
Maybe running the other way--?!
12:05
Battered and bruised, black and blue, but he had to! Someone had to help! Someone had to--
The chair was in the way.
The floor was in his face.
12:06
He gasped. The impact had knocked the air out of him. The air… dammit, dammit. He grabbed it again, ready to throw.
Oh.
Fresh screams faded before one could form.
They had worked an arm free of the chains and it now hung loose. It was raised as if grasping for an invisible ladder. As he watched it sunk and all too soon it was resting on the pool floor.
The man’s face had gone slack. Water swayed his jacket, but the chains kept it pinned to him. They were a coil of rope. The man had fallen backwards. His head had rolled to the side, blankly gazing with slack eyelids. The paint had flaked off the blue button. His glasses were gone and his eyes were too small.
Walter was dead.

Torranta,

Chief Trade Officer

Lands End

Read dispatch

Make sure to keep being creative!

Albithica, Prybourne, Terkustia, and Aziallis

An Aststanian dog, a Prybournean dog, and a Russan dog meet. The Prybournean dog says, "In my nation when we bark, we get meat!" The Aststanian dog asked, "What's meat?" And the Russan dog asked, "What's bark?"

{rip Ronald Reagan}
{Also, if you don't get it, I'm calling Astanians vegans.}

Prybourne, Hatstheput, Columbine and Mosley, Neuewland, and 2 othersThe Cyclone, and Inner Mations Aststan

New weekly theme! Check the World Factbook Entry!

Sibantis wrote:An Aststanian dog, a Prybournean dog, and a Russan dog meet. The Prybournean dog says, "In my nation when we bark, we get meat!" The Aststanian dog asked, "What's meat?" And the Russan dog asked, "What's bark?"

{rip Ronald Reagan}
{Also, if you don't get it, I'm calling Astanians vegans.}

The Russan dog proceeds to tell the others, "In my country, we attack pigs" and then proceeds to attack the Prybournean dog.

Prybourne and Hatstheput

Sibantis wrote:An Aststanian dog, a Prybournean dog, and a Russan dog meet. The Prybournean dog says, "In my nation when we bark, we get meat!" The Aststanian dog asked, "What's meat?" And the Russan dog asked, "What's bark?"

{rip Ronald Reagan}
{Also, if you don't get it, I'm calling Astanians vegans.}


Inner Mations Aststan is proud of its meat-producing industries. The population is largely non-vegan, as we overwhelmingly feel that the flesh of animals is delicious and nutritious. We have also recently expanded our insect-based protein markets, as they are high in protein and are cheap and environmentally friendly to produce. We would be glad to send the government of Sibantis a generous shipment of Aststani Mealworm Flour!

Albithica and Aziallis

Due to further snowfall in the Western Pass, the Terkust government has abandoned attempts to clear the blockage until the following spring. At the moment, air and ocean travel are the only ways into Terkustia. We apologize for the inconvenience.

The government would like to add that this in no way affects Šjan Lloveš' acceptance of Columbine and Mosley 's invitation to tea.

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