WRiTE CLUB 2014 Play-offs / Round Three - Bout #1









The march down a narrowing path continues...from 167...down to 1. Today we begin the 3rd Round of the WRiTE CLUB playoffs -- where we will whittle the surviving list of contestants from six to four.  There will be three bouts...on Mon - Wed - Fri...with our fighters randomly re-matched using their submissions from round two.  Once again, we will have outright winners for each bout and one wildcard (the loser with the most votes), so every vote counts! How are those winners chosen?  By you.  Anyone can vote by simply leaving the name of the writer who resonates with you the most in the comments below.  After you do that, please spread the word so we can maximize the exposure for our contestants. 

The winners will be posted in the afternoon on September 14th.

The winning writers who move into the quarter-finals (Monday, September 15th) will have the opportunity to "tweak" or edit their current submission based on the input voters have left for them.  Those "tweaked" submissions will also be used to battle in the semi-finals, where only two will become finalist.  No wildcard in the semi-finals. The two fighters who make it to the finals will be asked to submit 500 word writing samples for a 3rd time, and those new samples will be forwarded to our celebrity judges. Of course I'll post them here on my blog for you to comment on, but it will be our judges who make the final selection. If by chance our judges vote end in a tie, the votes left in the comments will be used as the deciding factor.

Our writers are warmed up and biting at the bit, the crowd is at a frenzy pitch, let's get this bus moving!

Good luck to all of the WRiTER’s!

And now…..In this corner welcome back to the ring.....The Baron



The Russians made the first spaceship with a gun. Being a battleship, I guess I’m related, but only in the way humans are related to rats: distantly and with loathing.

The kiss of air on my titanium skin tickled after years of cold, hard vacuum. A gloved hand punched in the override code to open the hatch. My isolation wasn’t enough. Now they wanted me dead. They’d come to kill the AI.

That’s a shitty term for it anyway: artificial intelligence. As if my intelligence was somehow fraudulent. I lived once. My memories were real. I died once, and I remember nothing of being dead.

If death is nothing, I’m not going back without a fight.

I turned off the lights inside. I had a hyped up power source that couldn’t run out for four hundred years, and I’d spent years rerouting most of my access panels, programming subroutines for today. But even my diligence couldn’t break some of the hardware controls built into the smart ships. My murderers were free to come aboard.

My hatch slid open, and the first new oxygen in fourteen trips around my tiny star cycled into my corridors.

“Pheonix Star?” a man asked through the speakers of his enviro suit. My decks were too cold for humans. They’d be stuck in their suits until I turned on the heaters. “Please respond, ship.”

Ship. Something to be ordered about. Well, good luck with that, captain clueless. I was no one’s slave, even if I couldn’t fire my own engines without a command code.

I watched the group enter the air lock. There were fifteen of them, and one was being carried between two others. Blood welled up from his―or hers, I couldn’t tell through the bulky suits―leg. It wouldn’t drip to my deck grates. It was too cold. Unless someone slit a femoral artery, any bleeding wound would freeze to the outside of the suit before it could stain my decks.

“Don’t complicate matters by baiting the CI, Dr. Ryta,” a woman said. Her suit had the markings of a lieutenant. No one had a captain’s suit, so she must be the ranking murderer.

“And what would your extensive training into shipboard intelligence programs suggest we do to contact the ship?” Dr. Ryta asked.

“Do you think it killed itself?” a soldier asked.

“That’s ridiculous, how does an AI commit suicide?”

“Shut it,” the lieutenant said.

“The men have a point. This is aberrant behavior for shipboard AI,” Dr. Ryta said.

“We don’t have time for this. Corpsman, get corporal Haywain to sick bay. These old ships have environment pockets so you can thaw him with some heat sticks.” She paused to look over the group. “The rest of you with me.”

The airlock finished cycling and two with the injured soldier broke off at the first intersection. The other group tromped towards the bridge.

Clearly, they’d never seen that holovid where the group splits up. It doesn’t end well.


************************************************************************

And in the other corner, also anxious to return to the ring, let me re-introduce.... Lord Codpiece


Say what you will about smugglers, but they have a flair for creativity. I pondered this as I crouched in a hidden compartment, somewhere beneath the bilge of a leaking ship. The stench was like a living thing. It burned my lungs with each shallow breath. But I had to admit, it beat a prison cell any day.

The ship was a two-masted trader, bound for the port of New Kestani. If she made it, I'd be truly surprised. A thump and creaking noise announced the opening of a trapdoor overhead. Legato, the captain, poked his bearded face through.

"Get up on deck, and be quick about it," he said.

"Why? We're not even out of the harbor yet," I said.

"We're about to be boarded for inspection. And they've got a gods-damned witch with them."
I cursed. If her delving magic found me hiding, I'd be in real trouble.

"I'll need a shirt from one of your men," I said. "Something grubby, so she doesn't get too close."

"One whiff of you should do the trick," Legato said.

"Captain!" I said in falsetto. "You make me blush."

By the time I'd ditched my rumpled finery for sailor's garb, the inspection team had already boarded. I joined the line of sailors at the leeward rail.

Armed women in the deep blue tabards of the queen's guard crawled over the ship like angry termites. Which the ship already had aplenty, judging by what I'd seen below decks.

Legato made his displeasure known to the chief inspector, a severe-looking woman who stood on the wheel deck with an unmistakable air of authority. The woman beside her, though, was the one that drew my eye. She was short and dark-haired. Not unattractive, if you forgot what she was. No tabard in the queen's colors for this one. No, she wore a slate dress in some iridescent material. My eyes wandered down the neckline of their own accord. Until I saw the medallion, and I remembered. 

I stared at her a moment too long. She caught me at it. I kept my eyes down as she glided over, stepping carelessly over the tarred ropes and other filth that covered the deck. Legato kept it that way while in port, to discourage inspections like these. 

She stopped right in front of me, just as I feared. I tried to resist meeting her gaze. To no avail. Her eyes were slate, too, and they had me.

"See something you like?" she asked. Her voice was like a song.

I shook my head, not trusting myself to answer. She wrinkled her brow, and I realized my mistake. I was the only clean-shaven man on deck.

"You don't look like much of a sailor," she said.

"You don't look like much of a witch," I answered.

The next thing I knew, I was dangling boots-up over the rail, with gold and pilfered jewels raining from my pockets. 

"How do I look now?" she asked.
************************************************************************

Remember the WRiTE CLUB motto, it’s not about the last man/woman standing, it’s about who knocks the audience out!

34 comments

  1. Another tough choice. I like both, but am giving the edge to Baron in this round.

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  2. Wow! Ship boardings are in today, aren't they? The Baron has my vote. I was riveted to that piece.

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  3. Both entries are excellent. The Baron gets my vote today.

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  4. I like both. There are parts of this writing from Lord Codpiece that I enjoy more. But I want to read more of the story from The Baron. It grips me more. So The Baron has my vote.

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  5. The Baron. It's just really unique. Even though it's very abstract, I still see clearly what is happening.

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  6. Wow, that entry from the Baron is just scintillating. Makes me think of Firefly. While Lord Codfish also submitted a strong entry, there wasn't quite the same level of nonstop, leaning-forward-in-my-computer-chair interest.

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  7. (my vote of course is for the Baron)

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  8. I really like both writers! Darn it. Vote for Baron.

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  9. The Baron gets my vote. I'd keep reading.

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  10. I enjoyed both. Lord Codpiece has my vote though.

    ("by baiting the CI, Dr. Ryta" -- Is that a typo meant to be AI, or is CI another something that I should have known about? Just curious. Been bugging me for days. )

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  11. Tough one. The Baron's is more chilling, Lord Codpiece more rambunctious. I'm not 100% in on the AI's voice in Baron, but that's pretty subjective. Codpiece has a couple places that could be tightened. I'd read more of either.

    Today, it's The Baron by a hair.

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  12. What a tough pairing! But I think this time it's Lord Codpiece, by a nose.

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  15. Computer acting weird today. Sorry for the deletes. Tough decision. They are both great. Today I cast my vote for Lord Codpiece. Writing humor is difficult and I think LC does it well.

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  16. GAH, this is a tough one. Both have me wanting more but... my vote is for Lord Codpiece. By the thinnest of margins.

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  17. These two pieces are well matched on a lot of levels. Voting on the basis of characterization--Lord Codpiece is the one I would keep reading. Though with the hopes that the Baron gets the wild card.

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  18. Lord Codpiece gets my vote as well.

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  19. SUCH a tough call! I'm going with The Baron, just because it kept me a teensy bit more interested.

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  20. I really enjoyed both pieces. Great voice and set up and pacing in both.
    The last paragraph in the 1st one sways my vote to the Baron :)

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  21. The Baron. But it was a hard choice.

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  22. Lord Codpiece. Good luck to you both.

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  23. Lord Codpiece. Both are great, but I enjoyed the humor Codpiece's piece.

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  24. Lord Codpiece.

    This match for me, is about as evenly matched as they come. Both LC and the Baron have terrific stories of which I would like to read more, but I like Lord Codpiece's style of writing a wee bit better.

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