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WRITING CHALLENGE #11, 18 SEPTEMBER - 8 OCTOBER
Posted: Sep 18 2016, 06:21 PM
Writing Challenge #11
Can you believe it's almost October, or is it just me struggling to conceptualize the standard passage of time? Whoops. If you missed it, Unbound just passed our four year anniversary! Our writing challenges are now up to 11, and all of your entries in past challenges have been greatly appreciated. I can't wait to read more going forward.
If you have any questions about the changes or the challenge generally, feel free to PM me on this staff account.
Prompt: AU time! What would your character be in a Mass Effect AU? Would they be an alien struggling to gain a seat on the council? A citizen of the migrant fleet? An elite soldier protecting colonies from pirate attacks with the Alliance Navy? Or perhaps they would be a biotic, dealing with all of the benefits and pitfalls their powers afford.
Give us a synopsis or a more action-oriented glimpse into their alternate lives, whichever route best captures it. .
Submissions should be at least 400 words, but more is always welcome if inspiration strikes. Write from any format or POV of your choosing! This challenge will end October 2nd at 11:59pm and will have an award of 200 sovereigns.
Reply below with your challenge submission to earn credit for this challenge!
Posted: Sep 24 2016, 05:22 AM
One more week to post your challenge entries!
Posted: Oct 1 2016, 04:06 PM
This challenge is being extended to October 8
Posted: Oct 3 2016, 08:47 AM
Omega was an old favourite. It wasn’t safe – it was never safe – but it was more familiar than the other ports and had an odd, greasy kind of hominess to it. It was small enough and a frequent enough docking station that Willow all but knew it back to front. There were a few cracks and crawl spaces she was too big for now, sadly, but she knew they were there even if it had been nearly two decades since her scrawny urchin arse had been wriggling its way through them.
She always made a point of having a couple of drinks in Afterlife while the ship was docked and her X.O. was negotiating prices with whichever black market dealers were on Omega that day. It was a good bar, and a great information hub. If anything worth hearing about happened, you’d hear about it in Afterlife first.
Which made it all the more surprising when the war started, and Omega fell. There wasn’t much warning. All anyone knew was that Aria was off the station, and Cerberus was swarming it. Willow had gotten her crew back on the ship and off the station within an hour, taking pot-shots at Cerberus ships on the way out. Sure, a couple of them had given chase, but she didn’t get to be a pirate captain at her age without being able to shake a few idiots.
It had taken a few weeks to piece together what had happened, but by the time Willow had smuggled herself onto the Citadel and located Aria in Purgatory, she had a general idea of what had gone down. Within a few minutes of being allowed into Aria’s presence, she knew without a doubt what would happen. Aria would take back Omega, and she would need help to do it.
Cerberus taking control of Omega, of all stations, was not only ridiculous, it was insulting. Omega was a pirate port; a place of real freedom. Cerberbus were about as blinkered as you could be. Willow felt morally obliged – not a common occurrence – to help liberate their station from those human-only arseholes. Her crew were wild and diverse and hers, she wouldn’t see an insult against them like this.
Besides, a favour from the Pirate Queen was worth more than a metric tonne of eezo. If they got to stick it to Cerberus in the process of gaining her approval, all the better for her. There wasn’t much her little ship could do against the Reapers. Some things were just too big to manage, too impossible. But station-wide guerrilla warfare? This, she could do. She’d been breathing this since she’d first landed on Omega as a child, an urchin stowaway with too many nightmares.
So when Aria sent out the call for her fleet, Willow and her crew were the first to sign up. Standing at her ships command centre, watching ship after ship appear from the nearby relay and sound off over the comms, Willow couldn’t help a swell of pride and anticipation expanding in her chest.
Cerberus was fucked.
Posted: Oct 6 2016, 05:06 AM
cassian gets a puppy
The mutt was an offense to Cassian's eyes. It stood there, in the middle of the floor of the pristine study of their Nos Astra based home, panting as it stared at him, shifting with anticipation every time Cassian deigned to glance in the despicable creature's direction, as though it expected him to want to engage with such an abomination.
Truly, Lucius had only acquired a varren as an insult to Cassian, and to make matters worse... He'd left the beast alone with him.
No matter how Cassian shifted in the form-changing chair, which sculpted itself after his body for the optimal sitting experience, the pest would move to remain within his line of sight. Every time, Cassian's reaction was the same; he'd scoff with irritation, sink deeper into the chair, and lift up his reading pad to hide the view of the fiendish hound. And every time, the varren's reaction was immediate and always equally frustrating: it would move so it could peer around the edge of the reading pad and once again make eye contact with his reluctant favourite.
For the life of him, Cassian couldn't fathom why the pest had chosen him as its favourite. As it stood, Lucius could barely get the abhorrent pup to follow him around, and it seemed it was rather too dumb to act as the formidable guard dog it had been acquired to become, balking at shadows as though each contained nefarious monsters (the fact that something so ugly could find anything else frightening was... baffling, to say the least), and whimpering every time a sound was loud enough to stir the peace of their six story home.
Yes, five stories, spread over three towers and connected by walkways that shone like diamonds on the horizon when the light caught its glass-like surface, each story large enough to house the population of a medium-sized colony, and Cassian still couldn't escape his unwanted fan. Such was his life now -- a life that seemed to lose quality with each passing moment he had to spend in the mutt's presence.
But the camel's back didn't break until the creature dared to come closer and lay its leathery paw atop Cassian's brand new Hyperion Star trousers, shipped all the way from New Bekenstein.
"Mother!" His voice rang through their home with operatic force as he stomped through hallway upon hallway of sleek, white walls with metallic shine to finally slam open the doors to his Mother's office with a biotic blast -- terribly convenient, living in the same towers that housed the headquarters of their family's company -- where white gave way to a darker palette of reds and blacks and greyish browns, which somehow evaded the risk of appearing warm. Following no more than three steps behind him at all times, the pup jogged on still unsteady feet to keep up with him.
Claudia Allectius lifted her gaze from the pad in her hand to peer over her black-rimmed glasses at her youngest son, once more interrupting her day, as he had such a habit of doing ever since he'd quit the latest of his studies - yet again citing "boredom" as the reason - and returned home to his disaffected party lifestyle. She was not alone, but surrounded by her inferiors, one of which also happened to be a client -- the list of which included pretty much anyone who was anyone both on and off Illium. She had all but a monopoly on providing indentured service to companies in need, after all, and with her investments in numerous industries and ties to various governmental institutions... Well, she was a hard woman to avoid dealing with, in one way or another. But as it happened, her son was even harder to avoid.
Her eyes met Cassian's with a cold front that indicated unparalleled rage -- the kind of look that could make world leaders quiver in their boots, if they knew what was good for them. Of course, all it drew from Cassian was an impatient huff, as he gestured to the people in the room and fixed his mother with an adamant stare.
Truly, he was lucky she loved him so dearly. Anyone else would have had a one way ticket to getting thrown out of an airlock in open space, should they try something similar. Even Lucius couldn't get away with barging in on their mother.
"Leave us," she said, coolly, calmly, and Cassian crossed his arms over his chest with another huff as he waited for those gathered in her office to scramble out of their way. Even her client didn't dare object to having their meeting interrupted in such an unceremonious way, though he did pass Cassian a particularly scathing glare, which Cassian promptly ignored.
No matter. He'd seduce the man's wife, or husband, or heir, or housekeeper, or whatever it was he held dear. So long as it wasn't a varren, he was sure he could deliver.
He didn't waste a moment after the door closed behind the departing group.
"I was under the impression that Lucius had gone back to kindergarten to study... monastic agriculture, or whatever the hell it is he's wasting his time on."
His mother sighed, plucking off her glasses and setting them down on her desk before she stood and walked around to where he was standing. Her heels clicked sharply against the matt marble foundation below her in a way that resonated through the room. It had been designed like that, Cassian knew. There was nothing in Mother's life that was not crafted just so in order to at all times remind onlookers that she was their superior, and would always remain so.
"Galactic economy and law, darling. He is attending the Shepard Memorial University to study galactic economy and law, a fascinating subject I urge you to take a greater interest in."
Despite the tender touch she administered, placing her hands on his arms and letting them slide gently down until she could grasp his hands, Cassian knew she was employing that no-nonsense tone that meant even he might have trouble worming his way out of her demands. There would surely be consequences for his interference today, but... Well, they might be worth it.
"Then why is his infestation still here?"
For a moment, Claudia looked confused, unsure of what he meant. Then the mutt on the floor whimpered, and she looked down at where it sat, obediently waiting by Cassian's legs, wagging its tiny tail in excitement. The creature was of rare stock, ivory white with teal stripes, in high demand among the wealthy of the sector -- it didn't quite hold its old standing as favoured by mighty warriors, these days. The war had changed a great deal of things.
"Oh, darling," she started, dismissively, and left him to return to her position behind the desk. Cassian already sensed that this would not end as he had hoped - with the detestable mutt being put down and preferably pulverized. "There are such strict regulations for transporting foreign animals into Citadel space, it was simply easier this way." She returned to her chair, leaning calmly back into a relaxed position.
"Lies!" he spluttered, stomping up to her desk and setting his hands firmly down on the surface of it. The varren was quick to copy him, practically bouncing as it followed him, as though this was just a game they were playing. "You know as well as I do that Lucius is only doing this to aggravate me. He knows I detest animals, and so he's sicced this one on me. It is childish and unnecessary, and I demand the right to chop it into bits and send each piece to him in separate packages."
He raged, he fumed! And all Mother did was arch an eyebrow, with only the shadow of a smile touching her lips. It was an indignity, to come here with his problems - which were not at all minor! - and be met with amusement.
Huffing again, he straightened (ignoring the little bark of excitement from the varren at his side), balling his hands into fists that hung helplessly at his sides.
"Very well. I see you're taking his side, again," he hurried on before she had the time to object, or even worse, laugh, "So I will handle this matter myself."
He turned on his heel, his mind already hard at work of deciding what method he would choose in order to rid himself of the vermin, and was almost at the door when he heard it, following behind him like a second shadow.
"Remember to feed the pup, darling. We must take excellent care of him, now that he's been entrusted to us."
Cassian positively shivered with rage, nails digging into the palms of his hands now as his fists tightened. It was clear to him what this meant. We meant Cassian, and the underlying meaning was that she forbade him to hurt the blasted thing.
What could he say to such an indignity? How could he react? To Cassian, it seemed he had no recourse but to attack the only aspect of her statement that was left open to criticism.
"It's a she."
So that was it, his only victory in this war on domesticated vermin, to correct such a meaningless mistake, as surely, this creature that followed shortly behind him as he marched out of his mother's office and down the hall was neither a "he" nor a "she," but an "it"?
No matter the classification, it seemed one matter was definite. This was Cassian's "it" now, and he'd be stuck with it until the day it died. As he looked down at its big, loving eyes, staring up at him as though it gazed upon the sun, he was certain of only one thing.
That day could not come soon enough.
Posted: Oct 7 2016, 10:34 PM
[M for graphic violence, language and adult situations]
Delphine inhaled deeply as the biotic energy she channeled began to wane with a subtle visible shimmer that distorted the air around her hands. Never before had she been so tested and it showed in her still heaving chest and elevated pulse. Flecks of purple blood freckled her cheeks and forehead looking entirely at home on her lavender-blue complexion. Globs of even darker purple glistened across the thighs of her Spectre armor where her victim's cranial spray had formed erratic patterns. She stepped lightly over the twisted corpse of an asari dancer as gracefully as a ballerina taking her mark on stage. She reached for a nearby towel with a nefarious grin twisting her features.
"I so enjoyed watching the life leave your eyes, my dear." Her tone ran sour with contempt and she pressed the toe of her boot to the asari's jaw, tilting the lifeless head to one side to view its profile. "I always knew you were an untrustworthy whore." She crouched low to wipe the remnants of a tear still clinging to the hollow of the dead asari's cheek with her thumb. "Tch, don't cry, baby, you made it to the Matron stage, just barely. Happy Birthday to you." She finished wiping her hands on the already filthy towel and tossed it across the asari's bare chest.
Had this been Omega, Delphine might have been worried that Aria would come down on her for offing a perfectly good dancer, especially one as talented as Milla. Fewer dancers meant less credits and that was not likely to go unnoticed by one so detail oriented as Aria T'Loak for long. She saw and heard everything on that shithole of a rock. The 'Pirate Queen' had been known to use the 'Big Three' to remedy problems she was otherwise too important to oversee herself. And Eclipse wouldn't dare cross their Queen. But no one would miss skinny little Milla on Illium. The only person willing to mourn her was lying in a pool of her own blood not five feet away.
Delphine turned a resentful gaze on the second body, admiring her handiwork -- the gaping hole residing where the other asari's temple used to be -- and moved to stand over the body.
"And you, my sweet sister." Delphine clenched her fists until the biotic shimmer returned. "Four centuries you have been taking from me, ever the favorite child, always holding tight to Mother's pinky. Goddess, I can't understand why she loved you so dearly. What a waste you were, pureblood." Delphine spat the last word with such venom and the all encompassing understanding of what it meant to be such an abomination. She lifted the heel of her boot, placing it over her sister's throat until the pressure exhibited an involuntary response and the lifeless mouth parted its lips to reveal bloodstained teeth. "My father was krogan! A fucking proud warlord who circumvented the curse of the genophage with my mother. Your father was a sand peddlar from Omega!" Delphine half expected to hear her sister's voice in response when she removed her boot from the asari's throat. The resounding silence was deafening. "After all the things you've stolen from me you had to have Milla too. How thoughtful of you, Khaia." She glanced back at Milla, her eyes still bathed in darkness from Eternity's bittersweet and murderous embrace. "How did you expect her to ever love you? You're an abomination only fit to live out her days far from here."
Delphine looked as though she were about to crack when her omni-tool flickered to life with a subtle whir of microfabrication only synonymous with mass effect technology.
"Have you collected the specimen yet, Dr. Ishtar? I should not have to remind you of the value our organization can gain from learning about the Ardat-Yakshi."
"My sister...is dead. I can still get you what you need for the right price." she rasped over comms, her omni-tool transcribing every word.
"Cerberus will spare no expense, Doctor, as long as the deadline is still intact."
"I'll meet you on Benning when I have the information you need, don't contact me again."
As she stared at the gruesome scene at her feet -- the lifeless bodies of her lifemate and her sister -- she realized how easy the choice had been. She had nothing left to lose now. No family to mourn her betrayals, no home to return a hero to, no lover to share a quiet moment with. She was a hypocrite. And she was about to betray her government and her species to the most dangerous organization in the galaxy. As she left her apartment for the last time she understood why Mother had called her a monster with her dying breath.
Posted: Oct 8 2016, 07:56 PM
A Mother's Love [M for excessive gore and some language.] “What the fuck do they call you?” The black-haired one asked, loudly, to be heard over the music.Casilda lowered her beer, and swallowed with a smirk pressing her lips. She was playing, but she wasn’t sure how long her anger would let her. The black-haired one (Blackbird, she’d called him in her head, though his true name was Fergus) was leaned forward quizzically, unsure if he had heard her right the first time. He didn’t know he was but a mouse – puny and prey.“Princess,” she said, with a low-status drawl. Tapping a cold finger on her arm, she drew attention to the rainbow of pigments shaped into elaborately inked butterflies. A golden crown stood out among the butterflies, positioned high on her upper arm. She preferred to wear only a single pauldron, to let her ink be seen. “What the fuck…” the blondie murmured disbelievingly, and Blackbird giggled. Casilda smiled cheekily and palmed a handle of lavender hair back and away. They were both somewhat cute. She supposed. If she weren’t nursing the fires of hell in her gut right now, she might have thought so a bit more strongly. The neon lights of this Citadel bar lit up Blondie’s hair in interesting color flares. Blackbird even had a handsome scar over his lip, stretched when he smiled. “How’d you get settled with that nickname?” “Because I’m small.” Casilda rested heavily on her elbow, pressing her arms close to push out her chest. Tossing her head a little, signaling to shift forward, as if she had a secret to tell. Blackbird leaned over the small circular table. She resisted the urge to spit in his face. “An’ then I always get what I want.” The way Blackbird grinned then, the way his eye cast down briefly, made her want to shudder. “And there’s something you want?” This was stupidly easy. Men were such predictive sons of bitches. Casilda extended a hand and felt Blackbird’s collar with a forefinger and thumb. No. This was far enough. “Yeah.” she said, without gentility. “I want my son,” Casilda fisted his collar. “NOT lyin’ in a hospital bed!” Her biotics surged around her arm and she smashed her hand and beer bottle into his face. Blondie loosed a startled cry. Biotics thrummed and she floated Blondie. Oblivious to her surroundings, Casilda yanked Blackbird from the table. Shouts sounded nearby. Bodies surged around her, as two mercenary teams, hers and Blackbird’s, locked into a fight. “You’re a dick peddlin’-” She socked him again, across the jaw. His bones shifted beneath her knuckles. “Turian hatin’-“ Her boot connected with his knee. With a solid pop and crunch, heard between the pulses of bass, his knee joint became quite inverted. “Child beatin’-“ She stomped on his hand, ground it with her heel. ”Son of a-“ The bodies were swarming and lurching closer. “Fuckin’-“ Reaching under her arm, she grasped and pulled her shotgun. She hardly held it pointed down before firing the first shot. Most of it shredded his thigh into a meaty mess. “Krogan.” Blast. The cavity of his chest opened in a spray. ”Humpin’.” She pulled the trigger again. Bone and bits of meat tore away, spattering her shin and boots. “Whore!” The fourth shot went off and the gun screamed an overheat warning. Blackbird had certainly died. Casilda snarled and breathed raggedly, rage’s red haze hovering over her in a deadly cloud. Gazing around, her men grappled with opponents. She was isolated, feeling centralized, and a few of Blackbird’s had lost the will to fight when they saw their tenderized leader. Fighters disengaged. As Blackbird’s men still standing took flight, their cowardice making them glow yellow in her eyes. Hawking, Casilda spat on Blackbird’s body and kicked his limp flesh. It squished. Hoisting her shotgun to her shoulder, Casilda hopped up onto a chair. “Reavers!” she called, “Let’s go!” Casilda spat once more on Blackbird’s body in passing, and she hurried after her men, leaving the unconscious and broken bodies to be taken care of by someone else.
Posted: Oct 11 2016, 12:35 AM
This challenge is (slightly belatedly) closed!
Thank you to Hez, Birthe, Sheep, and Squee for venturing across franchises to dip your toes in the space soap opera side of things for a moment. Don't forget to visit the moderation thread and claim your participation points for these snazzy posts.
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