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Messages - Baron

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Entirely hypothetical scenario, of course, but couldn't one entry win all three trophies? :=

Oh, I wouldn't be too sure that it would sound better. (roll)  I had this weird idea that a spaceman would meet a wizard and have mutually incomprehensible conversations, but my story has gone drastically off-course! :shocked:  However it turns out, it *should* be in by the deadline.


A Complexity of Errors

   “Captain's log, stardate 38204.8.  Navcon reports that the Millenium Manatee remains on course.  Revised ETA on Procyon 6 is 14.24 standard rotation periods due to an unexpectedly favourable ion wind.  Sensors report no debris obstructions within range on the current course.

   Lifecon reports all systems stable with no alerts or flags.  O2 levels measure 87.4 rotations per capita, food rations at 43.1 rotations per capita, and water at 62.0 rotations per capita at standard rations.  The ship therefore continues to comply with exo-plantary human transport regulation 243-B for the safe and humane transport of carbon-based life.  Lifecon verifies that the crew continues to consist of 1 sentient with ancillary microbiome. 

   Securicon reports all systems green.  Cargo is intact and inviolate. 

   Syscon reports continued feedback in the lateral oscillation stabilizer, resulting in a net drag effect of 0.0042 VPU.  Syscon continues to classify this error as a Cat 1 alert necessitating maintenance  within the next 300 parsecs or 100 rotations, whichever comes first.  Syscon reports all other electro-mechanical systems pass muster.  Remaining fuel is listed at 29.3 rotation equivalents based on current average usage or 2.06 times the logged itinerary, well within safety parameters for a journey of this length in the near-field systems.

   Funcon reports that this mission is a 36 day snooze-fest and prescribes the immediate raiding of the emergency tequila stores.  End log.”

*   *   *   *   *   *   *

   “Captain's log, stardate 38206.0.  I think I've just missed the mandatory log-window by a couple minutes.  No doubt that nerg-sucking glutto-toad Perkins from Compliance will be crawling up my ass about that.  He'll probably spot the anomaly and listen through the actual logs, which means I'll get dinged also for breach of professional protocol.  The bad news is I will almost certainly lose my bonus, which sucks astromoose balls.  The good news is that I can now slack off on the logs without consequence!  So fuuuuuuuuuck you, Perk-twat!

   Navcon reports that the Millenium Manatee is still slower than a camel shit comet at aphelion.  Revised ETA is 15.2 days due to interstellar granule clouds blowing in on that shifting ion wind.  Adjusting course by 0.035 should keep us ahead of it as long as the wind holds, but sensors indicate a denser debris field coming into range behind it.  Its uncharted, so we're logging its coordinates for upload to system nav-charts when we're back in data range.  Nanny Navcon is already suggesting we cut and run in the opposite direction, but we'll show her how the big boys ride their rockets.

   Lifecon reports all systems stable as a fossilized wax museum.  Our little detour shouldn't affect our 243-B status.  Lifecon verifies that I'm still alive and ticking all by myself.  Thanks for that, Lifecon.

   Securicon reports that the cargo has been tampered with by a dirty old man in a back alley.  No, wait – that's a misread.  Securicon reports all systems green.

   Syscon reports continued feedback in the lateral oscillation whatsamijigger, which is therefore still slowing us down by an infinitesimal amount.  Apparently we should get that fixed at some point, if it's not too expensive or inconvenient.  All other systems are good.  Fuel's good.  Everything's good out here.

   Except for Funcon.  Funcon says there's a red alert in the anti-gravity lock that requires immediate dousing with a fire-extinguisher in zero G.  I'm going to grab some more emergency liquor rations and go investigate.  End log.”

*   *   *   *   *   *   *

    “Captain's log, stardate 38206.9.  Situational code is now yellow.  Navcon has miscalculated the speed of uncharted debris field due to accelerating ion winds.  Outer granule cloud is now within 500 000 km and closing quickly, necessitating evasive manoeuvres that will void our registered itinerary.  Code yellow has been beamed on all emergency channels to alert surrounding vessels.  Navcon now calculates that the only safe course is to run in front of the storm until it diminishes.

   Lifecon reports all systems stable.  Final course is now unknown, which will breach 243-B unless a new course to Procyon can be determined within 36 hours.  The stores should hold out just fine, though, unless this turns into a month long detour.

   Securicon reports all system green.

   Syscon reports slightly augmented drag from the lat oscillation stabilizer.  Syscon now classifies this error as a Cat 2 alert necessitating maintenance within the next 100 parsecs.  Syscon reports all other electro-mechanical systems pass muster.  Remaining fuel is listed at 26.9 rotation equivalents based on new increased speed.  Syscon calculates that we can run at this speed for 18 days before it will have to implement emergency fuel conservation protocols.  If it comes to that someone from the depot will have to meet me half-way or I'll slug-out somewhere beyond the outer belts.

   I'm taking Funcon off-line for a bit while we deal with this ion storm.  End log.”

*   *   *   *   *   *   *

    “Captain's log, stardate 38207.4.  Situational code is now red.  Navcon reports no let-up to the ion winds driving the debris field toward us, and Syscon reports increased drag from the malfunctioning lat-os stabilizer up to 0.032 VPU.  That's a Cat 4 error now with enough drag to bring us below the speed of the debris field, which is closing now to 480 000 km.  Code red has been beamed on all emergency channels to alert surrounding vessels.

   Automanual suggests ditching the cargo to increase velocity, but it doesn't make any mention of Dalian losing his shit on me in that scenario.  Plus it doesn't solve anything if we slow down even further due to the deteriorating lat-os stabilizer.  I'm thinking all that dead mass back there might be a good buffer between the command module and the particle storm if it comes to riding this sucker out, so the cargo stays for now.

   Lifecon tells me we have just shy of 24 hours to get a plausible new course logged before we violate 243-B and get anal-probed by the ASA.  Since Navcon calculates I'm going to get anal-probed by this debris storm in about 10 days at current rates anyway, I'm not sure how much sympathy I have for the Compliance division getting the glowing rod while bent over their nice safe desks back home.  Still, altruism dictates that I try to think up a way to get us all out of this predicament.

   When prompted, Automanual says there's about a 70% chance the lat-os stabilizer has blown a phase capacitor.  It's a bit of an old hack, but I've heard that you can temporarily fix that by jacking in a plasma-based potentiator to carry the load.  We've got several redundant potentiators supporting the weapons array, so I'm seriously contemplating a bit of a spacewalk to practise my mechanical talents.  That's a huge breach of protocol leaving the command module unmanned, so I'm going to have to take Securicon temporarily off-line.  It wouldn't like losing the weapons capacity anyway.  End log.”

*   *   *   *   *   *   *

Error logged at 38207.53.
Emergency battery supply to security control systems initiated. 
Battery listed at 98%.
Approximate time to emergency system hibernation is 42.8 hours. 
Proximate cause inferred to be failure of connecting cable 64231A. 
Power logs and maintenance logs indicate no equipment abnormalities. 
Panel logs and personnel logs indicate crew member ID 00001 in recent proximity to 64231A.
Probability of sabotage computed at 75%.
Protocol NS302 initiated.
End log.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *

   “Captian's log, stardate 38207.6.  I seem to have triggered some kind of autopilot protocol which has shut down my remote access to the con panels and locked me in the engineering store cabin.  My guess is the Securicon has a built-in backup battery that wasn't listed in the Automanual.  Fucking paranoid security spooks and their jumpy little programs.  Now I'm completely blind and I've got something like 19 hours left to patch the lat-os stabilizer without systems help.  As I just grabbed my tools for the spacewalk at least all is not lost.  I'm going to try cutting the main systems cable to disable Securicon in this section, then blow out from an emergency hatch manually.  As long as I stay in contact with the ship using a grounding tether I should be safe from the polyshield that Securicon uses as its primary close-range defence.  Once I fix the lat-os stabilizer I will reinsert manually via the same hatch and attempt an emergency reboot of the system.  If everything goes right that should save our asses from the fire.  If not, Health & Safety rep Vlorg is going to have one hell of a bad day next Monday morning.  End log.”

*   *   *   *   *   *   *

Error logged at 38207.62.
Primary control pathway breached in sector 4.
Systems control loss critical.
Emergency wireless contact with remote communications relay pending.....
504 error: gateway timeout.
504 error: gateway timeout.
504 error: gateway timeout.
Proximate cause inferred to be failure of connecting cable 92468F.
Power logs and maintenance logs indicate no equipment abnormalities.
Panel logs and personnel logs indicate crew member ID 00001 in recent proximity to 92468F 
Probability of sabotage computed at 99%.
Protocol NS308 initiated.
End log.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *

   Captain's log, stardate 38207.8.  Situation is double red.  I had to scrub the spacewalk when Securicon started sniping at me with the rear flux laser gatling gun.  I was only able to survive by hiding in the starboard auxiliary ventral port and cutting my way through the safety latch on one of the maintenance hatches to the unpressurized mechanical compartments, and from there gaining access to the main ship manually through the gravity lock.  I'm pretty sure Securicon is smart enough to figure out what I did, so I'm wearing my spacesuit now in case it tries to depressurize me at short notice.  I figure as long as I stay in section 4 I should be safe, since I've cut Securicon's main systems cable here and disabled the communications wireless relay box. 

   I can tell from the gauges here in engineering that speed continues to be compromised.  Without all the figures it's impossible to calculate with accuracy, but I'd say if the drag continues to increase exponentially we could be swallowed up by the debris field within two days, all other factors being equal.  So if the rogue security system doesn't get me by then, I guess I'll have to deal with that.

   I'm kinda lacking ideas on what to do next....  Securicon obviously has no qualms with violating 243-B.  That being said, it doesn't have access to any weapons inside.  It can lock doors and hatches, and manipulate Lifecon systems, though.  With the spacesuit and my cutting tools I should be able to handle that.  What I'm worried about is it weaponizing something I haven't thought of, like the emergency vacuum toilet or the mobile scrubbing bots. 

   More worrying is its ability to lock me out of the other systems as long as I'm not in the command module.  Without access to Navcon I'll never avoid the debris field, even if I do manage to get Securicon off-line and fix the lat-os stabilizer.  And disabling Securicon is going to be next to impossible without access to the Automanual.  Pfffffff.  I'm going to stew on this one a bit.  End log.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *

Status logged at 38207.84.
Lifecon confirms life form matching mass of crew member ID 00001 successfully reinserted into section 4.
All ports and hatches between sections are now double sealed.
Depressurizing all sections except section 4.....
All sections except section 4 are now depressurized.
Increasing pressure in section 4 to 3 atmospheres....
Battery listed at 81%.
Approximate time to emergency system hibernation is 35.4 hours.
Navcon calculates impact with uncharted debris field in 52 hours.
Calculating............................ ...................
Lifecon reprogrammed to alert Securicon of any pressure changes in section 3 or 5.
System wake-up alarm programmed for stardate 38210.00.
Voluntary system hibernation initiated at 38207.84.
End log.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *

   Captain's log, stardate 38207.9.  Status is now officially fucked.  My ears popping alerted me to a pressure change, and I can see from the gauge on my space suit that the current pressure in section 4 is 2 atmospheres and rising.  My bet is that god damned Securicon has depressurized the other sections so that the pressure gradient will create an explosive barrier between me and the command module.  If I tried cutting one of the hatches I could be sucked through a gap as small as one inch if the gradient gets high enough.    I'm going to use my suit to stop from getting the bends.  End log.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *

   Captain's log, stardate 38208.0.  I re-entered the depressurized mechanical departments via the gravity lock in section 4 and wormed my way through the service tubes to an escape pod.  Using its manual air-lock I've been able to reinsert to a stable 1 atmosphere pressure.  My plan now is to use the escape pod's communications system to send a 243-B alert to Lifecon, which I'm hoping will cause it to override Securicon's protocols.  According to the ordinance numbers I'm now just outside section 2.  If all goes as planned, I should then be able to just open the main airlock and waltz through to the command module.  Here goes nothing.  End log.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *

Alert logged at 38208.02.
Irregular life-cabin pressurization override logged at 38207.84.
Override authorized by Securicon under protocol NS308.
Probability of programs executed under protocol NS308 contravening section 243-B directive is 35%.
Threat to ship under protocol NS308 computed by Securicon to be 99%
Statistically remote possibility of collateral damage under section 243-B calculated.
Conferring with Securicon......
Stop action initiated: program securicon_assist.pxy initiated.
35       if PressureChange ((section_3) || (section_5)) == true {
36              LifeScan (all_sections);
37              SecuriconWakeUpCall (1);
38              }
39              else return;

Securicon voluntary hibernation remains in effect.
Attempting to resolve 409 conflict without further input.
Restoring normal atmospheric pressure to all sections except sections 3 and sections 5........
Life support systems now stable in sections 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, and 8.
409 conflict status: resolved.
End log.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *

   Captain's log, stardate 38208.1.  Fuckin' yeah, baby!  I'm back in the driver's seat!  It looks like Securicon has put itself into voluntary hibernation until the debris field hits.  I'm heading back out to try the potentiator transplant on the lat-os stabilizer.  I've never done anything like that with space mitts on, but it should be a fairly simple procedure.  It shouldn't take me two hours to make the patch, leaving just enough time to make a revised course plot and avoid the ASA's glowing rod intrusions.  Wouldn't that just be the icing on the cake?  Wish me luck.  End log.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *

   Captain's log, stardate 38208.3.  Well fuuuuuuuuuck.  Turns out it wasn't a phase capacitor at all.  As best I can tell it was some kind of globular organic matter clogging up the anterior intake valve.  Probably some kind of syphoid interstellar blob feeding off the microwave pulses from the veripheric converter.  Anyway, I cleared all that shit out in about three seconds and, miracle of miracles, we've lost the drag!  Navcon calculates we can now outrun the debris storm and swing back around to Procyon 6 in about 19 standard rotation periods.  We are now 243-B compliant and debris field free once more! 

   That was one hairy fucking near miss.  You guys are going to find me in 19 days with a Jupiter-sized hangover, cause I'm heading down to the refrag pod with every lick of booze we've got left, and I ain't coming out again till we make port.  Fuckin' end fuckin' log.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *

Error logged at 38210.01.
Rebooting all Securicon systems........
Navcon reports unanticipated vectors.
Syscon reports resolved lateral oscillation stabilizer issues.
Lifecon reports 2168 non-crew life forms breeding in sections 1, 2, 6, 7, and 8.
Lifecon reports crew member ID 00001 contained in recreational omnibliss pod.
Probability of human error computed at 96%.
Protocol NS312 initiated.
End log.

Woot!  4th place! ;-D  My most inspiring moves were blindly carpet-bombing the prediction forms with statistically probable scores and actually showing up to make predictions before deadlines. ;)  Congratulations to Haggis and thanks to Stupot and all the participants for a fun activity.

The dopamine-sensitive neurons in my cerebral cortex are firing with judicious hyper-effervescitude at the very prospect of entering! ;-D

Got online, hopefully in time!

Add spoiler tag for Hidden:
France 2 - 1 Belgium
Croatia 2 - 2 England

Well, the tie strategy worked pretty well for me last round, so I'm keeping it up:

Uruguay 2 - 2 France
Brazil 2 - 2 Belgium
Sweden 1 - 1 England
Russia 2 - 2 Croatia

Originally I had all 2-2 ties, but Sweden is just so defensive I couldn't bring myself to do it.

Ah, sorry guys.  I've been on the road travelling and missed the voting window.  Congratulations Sinitrena!

I'm trying a new tactic this round, since whatever I was trying last time isn't working very well. :P

Add spoiler tag for Hidden:
France 1 - 1 Argentina
Uruguay 1 - 1 Portugal
Spain 1 - 1 Russia
Croatia 1 - 1 Denmark
Brazil 1 - 1 Mexico
Belgium 1 - 1 Japan
Sweden 1 - 1 Switzerland
Colombia 1 - 1 England

The Hubris of A

   He'd seen his fair share of diplomatic spats, that's for sure.  Iran-Contra was a big one, between the theocracy that used to be Persia and one of them banana republics in Central America.  Sure, some of them flamingo-pink journalists tried to hype-up the role of the USA in the whole affair, but he knew better.  Back then he had an insider perspective from the CIA.  Or was he with the NSA back in '85?  To keep a low profile he'd switched agencies more often than a Spaniard switched dance partners.  But the alphabet soup of the agency merry-go-round didn't matter.  What mattered was that he was a covert diplomatic enforcer for the greatest nation on god's green Earth.  He was Jed Colic; spy, lover, geriatric, and all-American.

   He scratched the three-day-old stubble on his chin thoughtfully, wondering where he'd put his dentures.  Some of the young cowboys down in ops called him a dinosaur, but you couldn't put a price on his decades of experience.  Especially not with the wacky inflation numbers those hippies down at the Treasury Department kept putting out.  But whenever there was an international crisis the big brass knew who to call.  Suddenly a wrinkled face with the air of authority appeared before him.

   “Dagnabit, Fred!  How'd you get into my clipboard?!”  Jed spun the eighth-inch thick panel in his hands, marvelling at what they could do down in Q Division these days.

   “Jesus, Jed.  It's a fucking tablet.  And Fred retired twelve years ago.  I'm Charles Greenwood, acting Assistant Deputy Junior Director of the CSO, and your boss.”

   Crumb Muffins!  Was he working for the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations again?  Cud sucking State Department wankers....

   “Colic!  Are you following me?” his boss barked, bringing him back out of the rabbit hole.  “We've got a serious crisis down in Bolivia.  I'm pairing you with an Agent Zuazo, the local field commander with UNODC.”

   “What?!?” Colic spat, discovering that his dentures had been in his mouth the whole time.  “You're putting me in the hands of some spic hombre down in jolly Narco Land?!  I thought Uncle Sam didn't do kamikaze runs?”

   “Don't lose your cool, Jed,” Assistant Deputy Junior Director Greenwood growled.  “Agent Zuazo is reputedly very competent for a foreigner.  Only he's not an hombre, at least not as you or I would understand it.”

   Jed just stared, gob-smacked.  “You mean he's a... she?”

   “Used to be, I think.  And he's not a spic.  Nationality is listed as 'citizen of the world'.”

   “The world?!?”

   “Yeah.  I never heard of it either.  I think it's somewhere between Rage-istan and Outer Elbonia.  You can read the brief on the plane.  You leave at 1600.  Greenwood out.”

   Jed shook his head in disbelief.  He was getting too old for this kind of wacky advent-

   “Agent Colic!  Are you all right?”

   “What?!  Who are you?”

   A brown-complexioned latina with a big Adam's apple stared at him quizzically from heavily mascaraed lashes.  “Did you just blank out?” she asked, waving her hand across his line of vision.

   “What?!”  He looked around, blinking.  He was in an SUV bouncing over a rough jungle road.  Damn beaners must have slipped him some funky grass at the airport, causing him to trip out.  He shook the cobwebs from his mind and reasserted his American dominance.  “Listen, lady.  I need to speek-ah to agent Zuazo.  Do you know where I can findy him?”

   The lady in front of him squinted, revealing vast amounts of blue glitter eye-shadow.  “Let's get a few things straight, agent Colic,” she said in a wispy voice with a vaguely foreign accent.  “I'm not a lady.  I am in fact agent Zuazo, and you may refer to me as that.  My preferred pronouns are ze and zir.  And if you pull any of your arrogant bull-headed yankee mind-farts on me again I'm going to have to kick you out of this moving vehicle.”

   “Ze and zir?!?” he laughed.  “What the hell is ze and z-”

   Suddenly he was outside the vehicle, the familiar slow-mo haze of shell-shock allowing him to recall his tuck-and-roll training from Viet Nam.  In the blink of an eye he was back up on his feet and careening face first into tree.  Fortunately his absurdly thick glasses absorbed most of the shock.  He reached for his handy .44 Magnum, only to find his dentures slung snugly in the holster at his hip.  No matter.  He'd brought down that tiger back in Guam with an improvised bow and arrow made from his suspender straps.  Taking the piss out of this frisky little drag queen would be a walk in the park compared to that.  He rummaged around on the roadside until he found a good length stick, and then tied his shoe to the end.

   Meanwhile the convoy had stopped.  Agent Zuazo stuck her head out the window.  “What the hell are you doing?!?” she shouted.

   He ducked back into the roadside brush, stripping quickly to the waist and painting himself with fragrant mud pellets that he found on the forest floor.  He swallowed a neon-blue caterpillar that he found on a tree to help numb his pain receptors, then washed it down with some stagnant water from a puddle that he filtered through his right sock to strain out the ringworm eggs.  He found a machete in the hand of a baffled local, which he used to carve a rifle out of a shovel handle (also from the baffled local).  Finally he tied his belt around his head, to keep the shell-shock from wussing him up.

   “Agent Colic!” she shouted from the roadside.  “We don't have time for your bewildering American paranoia!  Put your clothes back on and come back to reality.  We have some real bad guys to catch!”

   He/she wasn't going to take him alive!  He'd spent six years in a Viet Cong latrine tank because he refused to surrender his liberty.  What was a couple minutes in the bush?  These kids these days had no patience.  Her would get antsy about keeping some internet schedule and would come bungling in after him, and then he'd ambush she like a polka band in Wisconsin.

   He could see through the trees the SUV reverse and come to a stop where he had entered the forest.  Through the dense foliage he could make out the slender form of agent Zuazo as him emerged from the vehicle.  “I'm going to count to five,” they announced.  “Then I'm going to come in there and pants you.  The Narcos will find it fucking hilarious when they find your pasty mosquito-swollen carcass.”  The local villager nodded at him smugly, so he knocked him out with a karate chop to the shin.  The local spat at him and retreated further into the forest.

   “One,” called agent Zuazo in a bored tone.  “Two....three......”

   Bring it on! he thought.  Soon this second-rate third-world hussy would learn not to mess with the awesome power of America.  There would be no kowtowing appeasement this time.  Only righteous fire and wrath.  Shock and awe, Baby!  Shock and awe!

   “Five!”  That last number caught him entirely off guard, as agent Zuazo had suddenly appeared behind him.  Reflexively he swung his stick-shoe at her, but the range was too short and it ended up swinging back and hitting him in the face.  Before he knew it his pants were off and the SUV was peeling off again down the road.  A cool breeze of freedom stirred the flag, and for the first time Jed Colic regretted his habit of going commando.  The local was back with a few of his buddies, all nodding smugly again.

I've had a busy weekend and haven't been able to devote any time to writing. :tongue:  Any chance of a couple day extension?

I'm actually going to put some serious thought into this, starting right now. :)

This is what I'm seeing:

Add spoiler tag for Hidden:

I'm not understanding the spreadsheet.  While I agree with CaptainD's scores, the points on the spreadsheet don't make any sense.  For Morocco vs. Iran Cassiebsg, cat, xBranex, and I all predicted 0-0.  Cassiebsg and cat got 0 right and 0 score, while xBranex got 1 right and 1 score, and I got 1 right but no score.  Er... what? :undecided:

General Discussion / Re: Incredibly sad news
« on: 12 Jun 2018, 23:52 »
I am very saddened by this news.

Stop hetzing me.  I'm in! ;-D

Add spoiler tag for Hidden:
Russia 3 - 1 Saudi Arabia
Egypt 1 - 4 Uruguay
Morocco 0 - 0 Iran
Portugal 1 - 2 Spain
France 2 - 0 Australia
Argentina 2 - 0 Iceland
Peru 1 - 1 Denmark
Croatia 1 - 2 Nigeria
Costa Rica 3 - 2 Serbia
Germany 2 - 1 Mexico
Brazil 1 - 1 Switzerland
Sweden 1 - 0 South Korea
Belgium 3 - 1 Panama
Tunisia 0 - 1 England
Colombia 1 - 0 Japan
Poland 1 - 1 Senegal

Russia 2 - 1 Egypt
Portugal 5 - 0 Morocco
Uruguay 2 - 0 Saudi Arabia
Iran 0 - 3 Spain
Denmark 1 - 0 Australia
France 1 - 0 Peru
Argentina 1 - 1 Croatia
Brazil 2 - 1 Costa Rica
Nigeria 1 - 0 Iceland
Serbia 2 - 1 Switzerland
Belgium 3 - 1 Tunisia
South Korea 2 - 2 Mexico
Germany 1 - 1 Sweden
England 2 - 1 Panama
Japan 1 - 1 Senegal
Poland 1 - 1 Colombia

Uruguay 2 - 1 Russia
Saudi Arabia 1 - 2 Egypt
Spain 3 - 0 Morocco
Iran 0 - 2 Portugal
Denmark 1 - 3 France
Australia 1 - 1 Peru
Nigeria 1 - 2 Argentina
Iceland 1 - 1 Croatia
South Korea 0 - 3 Germany
Mexico 1 - 1 Sweden
Serbia 1 - 2 Brazil
Switzerland 0 - 2 Costa Rica
Japan 1 - 3 Poland
Senegal 1 - 2 Colombia
England 1 - 1 Belgium
Panama 1 - 0 Tunisia

I should live in a city I s'pose, you only need to worry about being shot, mugged, or raped. Nice.

But... in the country you only need to worry about being shot, mugged, or raped a 3 meter crocodile! :(  And heaven help you if you are suspected of throwing something into traffic and that crocodile has a sense of vigilante justice and access to a rusty rake. :=

Congratulations WHAM and to all the other entrants.  The next competition might be a bit of a squeeze for me as I have some vacation time coming up.  I suppose I might just have to *gulp* make an early submission. (roll)

I had an idea once for a game where you would play as this British intellectual zombie and the living were the crazy ones who just made weird screaming noises and attack you for no reason.  If only I had a dollar for every game idea I never pursued.... (roll)

Best story: Sinitrena  Yes, it was heart-wrenching and depressing.  It might just be that the story hit a personal nerve, as there are several such micro-monuments to the victims of car crashes along my route into work, two of whom I knew personally (I live in quite a small town where most people know most other people).  I liked how the banality of commuting cars was examined from the perspective of a pedestrian and a victim, even though I found it hard to like the main character's attitude of hopelessness.  I think it was the moral of the senselessness of traffic fatalities that clinched it for me, as all the other stories lacked a substantive lesson.

Best scene setting: WHAM for the post-apocalyptic patchwork of zombie and living zones.  It has a post WWII feel of gritty chaos and uncertainty.  The attitude of the dead seemed to indicate that they harboured no relationship bonds with the living once they pass over, which somewhat complicates the dramatic motivation of reuniting with loved ones on the other side, but the issue was never settled overtly one way or another.  Very interesting concept, though.

Best or worst protagonist: Babar for Agnurat the Fiery.  All the other characters just seemed too self-absorbed in their despair.  Britney has committed herself to an almost certainly futile quest that will lead to her death, while Rose (?) was willing to throw away her future and the life of her child because she can not let go of the injustice of the past.  While Agnurat was also suicidal, at least his sacrifice was for some cause greater than himself.

Through the Dander of Despair

   He crested the rise and his primitive heart-tube sank as hope evaporated.  As far as he could see there was nothing but mangy devastation.  He pierced the terrain beneath him in search of the red gold that kept him going, but found nothing but dust and disappointment.  He was an oriental rat flea by the name of Battuta.  And this was the land of false promise.

   Battuta squinted his eyespot at the sun to try to get his bearings.  He had come to Fluffball with the intent of seeing the great Cuzco of the East, the famous Lost Navel where the blood shot like a geyser every hour.  Legend had it that in between blasts the blood would pool so deep that you could swim in it, gorging yourself to satiation.  Battuta licked his stylet with regret, for clearly he was a long way from that land of bounty.

   Wandering through the desolation he saw nothing but scraggly hair tufting away in the wind.  This exposed the cracked and flaking skin that seemed to contain no hint of moisture no matter how far down he drilled.  Battuta hunkered down, letting his armoured plates bear the brunt of a particularly harsh gust.  He had best find shelter soon, lest he get caught in another dander storm and be buried up to his pygidium.

   Battuta made his way to a decrepit copse of fur that seemed to barely cling to the terrain by its exposed follicles.  Along the way he passed some hollow exoskeletons that were bleached almost white from exposure.  They grinned knowingly at him, as if in anticipation of his company.  Shuddering from the chill in the wind Battuta pressed on.

   At the copse Battuta was surprised to discover a grizzled old-timer sitting against a wispy hair and nursing a canteen of something red that smelled quite fermented.  Battuta hailed the old flea and asked if there was any shelter to be had nearby.

   “T'aint no such comfort on this sack of bones, Sonny!” the old-timer barked, chuckling madly to the wind.  “Not since the wells ran dry, and the fur began to fly!  T'aint fit for a louse, or even this old souse, not since the beginning of the end of days.”  The old-timer pointed his foreclaw vaguely in Battuta's direction while taking another sip from his canteen.  “Waddaya doing on a barren desert like this, Sonny?  Yer still young and strong of leg.  Why don't you blast off this corpse and chance what may in the yonder wilds?  Bad as it could possibly be, it can't be worse than here.”

   Battuta contemplated the old-timer's words.  It was vaguely irrational, but he had an unquenchable thirst that only the faithful geyser of paradise could sate.  He told the old-timer as much.

   “Red fever,” the old-timer spat grimly, letting out a long, mournful whistle.  “Mark my words, Sonny.  You'll wander these dunes of dust and dander for all eternity before you find the Lost Navel.  Heed the advice of my experience: let it go and move on.”

   Battuta suppressed the doubt gnawing at his insides.  He would not forsake his one true purpose for the uncertain purgatory of the yonder wilds.  He laughed at the old-timer, telling him he was too close now to give up hope.

   The old-timer studied Battuta for a long time before shaking his head in despair.  “T'aint we all, Sonny.  T'aint we all.”

   Battuta smirked at the melodrama of the old-timer's manner, but suddenly the chilly wind pierced him to his soul.  He turned his laterally compressed body into gale wind to stop it from acting like a sail and dislodging him from the copse.  He squatted low to keep the frigid blast from sapping him of the last of his heat, his eyespots stinging from the driven dander flakes.

   When the worst of the wintery wind had subsided, Battuta turned back to his companion, but the old-timer was gone.  Battuta looked downwind to see if he had been driven from his resting place, but all he saw was the scattered remnants of bleached exoskeletal bits snared in the wispy hairs of the copse.  The only evidence that the old-timer had ever been there was the flask that now lay empty at the base of the hair against which he had been sitting.

   Battuta stooped to retrieve the flask so that he might lick out the last few drops of sweet red with his labial palpus.   Again he bent, and again, his parched throat aching for just a single drop.  He couldn't quite believe it when his ghostly foreleg kept passing through the flask and out the other side.


This story was supposed to be quite a bit sillier than it turned out.  Here's my original inspiration:
Add spoiler tag for Hidden:

Good!  I'll stall for as long as I can justifiably do so, and we'll meet up somewhere in the middle. :=

The Bald Prophet

Awesome.  Prophesy isn't quite the same as pilgrimage, but still awesome.  (nod)

I'm mostly done, but it's too late to finish it tonight.  I'll try to make it by the deadline tomorrow.

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