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mr_pikachu
7th September 2008, 05:06 PM
Good morning, afternoon, evening, or whatever time it is where you live! More importantly, welcome to the latest Fanfic Writing Contest!

For those of you who are new here, the Fanfic Writing Contest is a themed short story writing competition across the forum, held once every few months. The writing contest is a fantastic way to test your writing skills as well as a great source of constructive criticism, as all entries are given full reviews by two judges. Anyone may enter the contest -- the more the merrier!

We're continuing our trial from the previous contest - please note that the word limit for the September contest is 4,000 words. Without further ado, here are the judges and theme for Fanfiction's September 2008 Writing Contest....



JUDGES
DragoKnight
eevee-shayna

THEME
Out Of Place


Please post your entry in this topic by September 31st, 2008 at 11:59:59 p.m. Central Standard Time.

Have fun!

eevee-shayna
7th September 2008, 09:53 PM
I look forward to reading your entries!

Drago
11th September 2008, 10:55 AM
I'm quite excited... I know y'all will wow us with some superb creativity!

Lady Vulpix
11th September 2008, 02:14 PM
What? I'm not a judge?

Wait, does that mean I can participate?

mr_pikachu
11th September 2008, 04:07 PM
What? I'm not a judge?

Wait, does that mean I can participate?

But of course. We wanted to relieve you of your too-frequent judging burden, after all.

Lady Vulpix
11th September 2008, 05:09 PM
Aww, thank you! *Hugs Brian.*

I hope my other burdens give me the chance to get something done. *Goes to post at the Smiley Town.*

mario72486
12th September 2008, 10:11 PM
*Laughs like a certain cartoon dog from Wacky Races*

This is gonna be freaking sweet.

The last contest I participated in was pretty fun. Expect an even better piece when I'm finished with writing it...

Houndoom_Lover
13th September 2008, 03:10 PM
Oh, woah! Another contest! Jolly good, I was missing them! Out of place is a good theme for a fanfiction contest

Lady Vulpix
14th September 2008, 12:36 PM
I've made it! Exactly 4,000 words. Not counting the title, but if that's a problem then don't read the title. http://img49.imageshack.us/img49/1369/wink1wc.gif

I've kept the unpruned version and I'll probably post it on a separate topic in order to turn it into an ongoing series. Unless people don't like it, in which case this will be the last of it. Thanks for giving me this chance!


Out of place

My name is Jacob Rogers. I've been in Lanara for a day and it's already been the most eventful experience in my life, so I thought I'd keep a written record, even if it's just for myself or for some imaginary reader. I've found this booklet in my room, probably left behind by the previous guest. Some could say it's a sign. I wouldn't go that far, but I'll make use of it.

So far nothing's turned out the way I expected. Then again, it might be for the best: my future looked quite gloomy when I left home. I come from Eland, in Alunia. People here seem to believe Alunia's some kind of utopia, where humans live in peace and harmony. I wonder where they got that idea. There are no monsters - sorry, no magical creatures - because the magical field's so thin that any of them would be killed off easily if they dared come to our continent. But humans can be just as bad. We have war, corruption, poverty, injustice... we're far from the paradise Lanarans think we are. And it's worse now that my country's focusing so much in building a strong army, not just to defend ourselves but to aid in the fight against the monsters here in Lenthe. As if they needed our help. Lenthe's always been one of the most powerful countries in Lanara. Eland, my country, was a Lenthish colony for over two centuries, and even now that we're independent we still seem to be serving them in many ways. Now they've come up with the idea of having us help in their war and gave us all those colorful speeches about humanity, heroism and all that jazz and half the people bought them. What's worse, my family bought them.

I grew up in a farm. My parents worked hard all their lives to ensure their sons' futures. In my case that meant majoring in farm planning, and improving our farm with new technologies and better working techniques. I was thinking of helping our neighbours too. But my brother Hector was taken in by the charms of military service. He served in Eland's army for about two years until, from his letters and our talks whenever he was home, I started to get the impression that military life was losing its allure for him. I was hoping he'd go for a career change - one in which he wasn't likely to get killed, nor to have to kill others - when the Lenthish came by with their damned campaigns and he swallowed the hook again. Hector had started to realize the enemy soldiers were people just like him, which made it all feel wrong, but fighting to protect humanity from evil monsters was not only right: it was heroic. If my parents had hesitated when he'd first joined the army, now they were proud of his new choice. I stood no chance at dissuading any of them.

Nothing unexpected happened for the first three months. Hector wrote home every week or two, and every letter was about three weeks old when we got it. I grew more worried when a month passed without a letter from him. My dad said the letter had probably got lost, but I could see he was worried too. We waited two more weeks, and when nothing happened we wrote to the address from where he'd sent his last letter, and to the central headquarters in Lenthe. Four weeks later we got a reply saying Hector's whole squad was MIA, and everything humanly possible was being done to find them. I was as furious as I was worried. Why hadn't they told us?! My parents were enraged as well. They told us we'd be notified whenever they had any information, and requested our patience and understanding: they were battling on many fronts and could only dedicate so many resources to the search for their missing men. That's when my mom became desperate and turned to me for help. And that's when all my plans for the future went to the trashcan. It was a lost battle: I knew I'd never have a moment of peace unless I managed to bring Hector home safely.

There was more paperwork to do and more time to wait until I got a signed permission by some important figure with an illegible signature to join a search squad. After that, three weeks by boat that seemed eternal, marked by physical exercises and basic combat training for all new recruits. And the lectures... all those long and incredible lectures about the monsters we'd be fighting. The descriptions made them sound like concentrations of pure evil with acute senses, powerful bodies and magical abilities to boot. I wondered why anyone would want to live in a place where those creatures could be found, and a part of me also wondered how much of what they said was true.

...And that leads us to today. We reached the dock in the afternoon and were given vague directions. I was separated from the group as I had a special assignment, and was told to go west until I reached the first town, look for a military outpost and ask for Sergeant Kennings - that turned out to be the name of the guy who had signed my permission. I was a bit confused, as the path I saw was a thin muddy trail that headed into the forest, but I still followed it.

At some points I wasn't sure whether the trail divided into two or more paths, or whether fake paths had formed by accident due to people walking away from the trail. I did my best to stay on the widest one, hoping it was the original. The part of my mind that's always detached from myself and looking at the big picture joked about whether it was the state of the roads that caused the Lenthish army to keep losing soldiers - on the ship I'd learnt others had been lost in the past, not just Hector's squad. That thought, as absurd as it was, made me angrier. The whole situation made no sense, it shouldn't be happening, and I was caught in it for reasons that escaped my will and my comprehension. I'd once been to an art museum and got hooked by a picture where almost everything was blurry and distorted, except for a single figure on the bottom-left corner: a man, standing straight with a blank expression on his face, his gaze lost in the distance. I'd wondered why I'd found it so disturbing, and then stopped thinking about it, but now I knew why: the man didn't fit in the picture; he was out of place, and so was I.

That was how I learned my first hard lesson about life in Lanara: never get lost in thought while you walk along an unknown path. A hooded figure jumped off a tree and pointed at me with a knife. I had a knife too, but I didn't know if I'd stand the chance against my strange attacker. His long hooked nose protruded out of the hood, and a rat-like tail was waving slowly behind him. He was short, but his grip on the knife was firm. What I found even more shocking was the fact that he dressed like a common bandit, and that when he spoke - with a high-pitched but not quite unnatural voice - he asked not for money, but for food.

"Gimme all yo' food and I'll let ya go," he said.

I didn't know what to make out of the situation, but I reckoned I didn't really need the sandwich I'd packed for the road. The town couldn't be too far away. The bandit moved the knife closer to me as I took off my backpack and opened it, but I made no false moves. I took out the sandwich and he quickly grabbed it with the hand that wasn't holding the knife. I saw my meal disappear into the hood to the sound of impossibly quick nibbling. Then the creature showed me his palm and asked for more.

"I don't have any more," I told him.
"You lie," he said. "I can smell."
"Smell what?" I asked.
"Paper."

I wasn't sure I'd heard right. Why would anyone want to eat paper? Then again, this creature wasn't human. I thought of attacking him while he searched me, but decided it was too risky. He ate every last bit of paper I had, including the letter from Sergeant Kennings.

"Kay, ya can go now," he finally said, and left as quickly as he had come.

I still didn't know what to make of the whole thing, but I couldn't shake the feeling that something was definitely wrong.

The sun was setting by the time I reached the nearest town. I was tired, hungry, and still confused, so I decided to look for a place to eat and sleep, and look for Sgt. Kennings in the morning. I asked about, explaining many times where I came from to the people who were curious about my accent until I got tired of hearing their questions and remarks about the fabled land with no monsters. I finally made it to a bar where the food was said to be decent and the prices moderate. I was glad the strange bandit hadn't been interested in metal, I had enough to go by until I got my first payment from the army.

Once I had filled my stomach, I asked the barman for directions, both for a place to sleep and for the military outpost. I found out I'd taken a wrong turn: there was no military outpost in that town. He gave me directions to reach the nearest one, but I was already beginning to lose hope. At one point the man looked away from me. I turned to see what he was looking at, and saw a tall blond man standing against a wall with his eyes fixed on me. He didn't look away when I stared back. I turned to the barman and asked him who that guy was.

"That's Bob," he answered. "He works here. He's been in town for a few weeks. He was doing odd jobs until one night two foreigners drank too much and started fighting. He somehow stopped them before I got off my seat. After that I offered him a job keeping the peace. He does a fine job, he does."
"Why is he staring at me?" I asked him.
The barman shrugged, and suggested that I asked him myself.

It didn't sound like a good idea: where I came from, asking someone why he was staring at you was asking for trouble. That, and the description of this 'Bob' guy didn't inspire my trust at all. I was taking out the money to pay for the meal when Bob walked up to the bar and took a seat next to me.

"I would have answered if you had asked," he said.
I'd had enough. I didn't know how things worked in Lenthe, but I was going to play by my own rules this time.
"Is prying into other people's conversations part of your job description?" I asked the peacekeeper.
"Only when they're likely to cause trouble," he replied.
"I'm not here to cause trouble," I told him.
"On the contrary, you're about to cause yourself a lot of trouble. What do you want with the army? You don't strike me as the soldier type."
"Really? Why not?"
"Well, there's your body language to begin with. You don't move like a soldier, nor do you speak like one. You have the same accent as the new recruits who came last week, but you sound educated. Maybe even smart in your own way. And last, you don't have the right body type. You're so thin you could almost pass for a stick figure."
"Are you always that stuck-up?" I asked him, no longer intimidated.
"Only when I find someone worth talking to," he said. "You wouldn't believe how stupid people can be. Which brings us back to my first question. Why do you want to find the army?"

It was odd: I couldn't tell whether he was insulting me or flattering me. Still, he was the closest thing to a friendly face I'd seen in the last three weeks, so I told him the whole story.

"Joining the army won't do you any good," Bob declared when I was done. "They're not interested in helping anyone, they're all about the kill. Why do you think they have so many deserters? As soon as those with half a brain realize how senseless this whole war is, they run away from it."
"Wait, are you saying that's why people go missing?"
"I don't know about all the missing soldiers, but I know that's what my father did when he was with them. He lived in the mountains for thirteen years before they could find him."
"Thirteen years!... What happened then?"
"This is starting to get too personal," he stopped me.

Something had changed in his face; whatever had happened had left a mark on him. Somehow, that made him seem more real to me... more human. I noticed his eyes were grey like the sky before a storm.

"I'm sorry," I apologized, and changed the subject. "Why do you say the war is senseless? I've never liked war, but would it be better to let the monsters roam free and attack everyone at will?"
Bob snorted. "That's their kind of talk. They must have filled your head with all that rubbish on your way here. Things aren't really that way. I don't know who attacked first, but I don't think it would make a difference by now. Humans and magical creatures keep attacking each other for no good reason and making life harder for those who would like to live in peace."
"You make it sound as if we were equals."
"That's true, in a way. Of course there are a lot of physical differences, and differences in what each of them can do, but they think and feel alike and I think that's the problem. Both sides are in the same frame of mind and it's not a good one. You won't see anyone declaring war on non-sentient creatures, magical or otherwise; people may hunt them or use them as labor beasts, but no one feels hate towards them. They won't try to fight spirits either, not only because they're too powerful but because they can't understand them. They only hate those who are like them."
"Who do you mean by 'they'?"
"Either side. Take your pick."
I sighed. "Things get more confusing every moment. I was hoping they'd clear out eventually. I feel so out of place here. How long will it take until that feeling goes away?"
"You're asking the wrong person," he told me. "I've lived in Lanara my whole life. 27 years and counting, and the feeling's still there."
"You can't be serious!"
"I do joke a lot, but not about this subject."
"Then why don't you look for a place that's right for you?"
"There is no such place. Believe me, I've been just about everywhere. I haven't stayed in one place for more than a few months since I was 12."
"Why?"
"Different reasons. Two months ago I was staying in a town called Nurnia until some idiot bought a bear-horse thinking it was a horse. He tied it to a cart and whipped it, and the beast went berserk. The man would have got killed if I hadn't helped him. I managed to slow the beast down long enough for him to get away and someone else to shoot it, but then the man blamed me for what had happened and many agreed with him. I had to leave the town in a hurry."
"I don't get it. Why did they blame you?"
"I guess I was the easiest target. They said I'd turned an ordinary horse into a chimeran. As if that were even possible; I'd have to be a spirit for that!"
"What's a chimeran?"
"You've come here completely unprepared! I guess it's up to me to give you the basic biology lesson."

By now I was getting used to his stuck-up attitude and managed to ignore it. He told me about the different kinds of magical creatures that inhabited this continent. Basically, there are four groups: spirits, primals, mimetics and chimerans. Spirits are the rarest and the most powerful, and they can do just about anything - or so he believes -, but they have no physical form so their interaction with the physical world is very limited. Primals are also very rare and very powerful, but their power is focused on just one or two domains. They can be of different sizes, shapes and colors; dragons and elementals are the most common, but there are many others that don't look like anything you'd see everyday. Then mimetics look mostly like humans or animals, but have a few distinct features and special abilities, often centered on one domain. He gave me some examples and told me how to recognize them; I remember he mentioned snow people and fire people because I made a joke about them and he didn't like it. Lastly, chimerans are the most common and they're basically mixtures of two different species. The bandit who attacked me was a rat-man, or a wererat: the prefix 'were' is often used for chimerans that have a human component. Most chimerans can shift between two forms, but each of their forms retains a few features of the other, so they're easy to spot if you pay attention, or so he said. He also told me how to distinguish magical creatures from human beings even if they're hiding their unusual features: by their auras.

I thought he was kidding me. I didn't think humans were capable of seeing auras, but he said it was quite easy if you practised, it was just that most people didn't even try to learn. He even offered to teach me. I had nothing to lose, so I accepted. I expected something strange and mystical, but it was all shockingly plain and simple. I had to unfocus my eyes a bit, looking at him and a short distance behind him at the same time. For a while, I saw nothing, but then I noticed something like movement in the air. I focused on it and it became like a thin smoke. When I told him he smiled, and said that was it. He told me to practise on everyone, even myself; and he told me that magical creatures have brighter auras, and if you look really close there's a thin line of light between their auras and their skin where the border becomes blurry. Or something like that, I didn't fully understand that bit.

The bar closed soon after that. I was surprised that it closed so early, but I was told it was always that way in small towns such as this one. As we left, Bob offered to take me to the inn where he was staying. He also offered to help me find my brother if I didn't go to the military outpost. I asked him what was in it for him, and was surprised by his answer.

"There's nothing for me here, nor anywhere else for that matter. It'll be good to have a goal for a change."
"Ok," I said. "But first you'll have to tell me your real name. The name 'Bob' doesn't fit you any more than a military uniform suits me."
"Wow, you are smarter than you look!" he exclaimed. "Ok, I guess you've earned it. My name is Ered Michelson."
"Ered? What kind of name is that?"
"It's my name. Do you have a problem with it?"
"No, sorry. It's just unusual, that's all. Why 'Bob', then?"
"I use a different name in every town. It makes it hard for my enemies to track me."
"Do you have a lot of enemies?"
"I don't know... most of them must have forgotten about me by now. I haven't really done anything to most of them."
"Then why are they after you?"
Ered shrugged. "It's the way things are."

I would have asked more questions, but then a black fog enveloped us. I couldn't see anything, until I heard a soft cracking noise and saw Ered's face behind a stick with a glowing point.

"Lightsticks," he explained, anticipating my question. "They're made of special light-storing crystals. When you break them, they release the light they have stored. They last for an hour or so, and then you can break a different part of them, but once they run out, that's it."
"What's going on?" I asked.
"I'd say it's a night man. Humanoid mimetics. They release this kind of fog to blind their enemies. They can see through it, we're being watched."
"Do creatures always attack like this?"
"No, this is unusual. And we haven't been attacked yet. Hold the stick and stay quiet."

I did as he said. The silence was as deep as the darkness, but then I heard steps, and agitated breathing. Ered must have heard them too, as he ran in the direction the sound came from and caught something. I pointed the lightstick at it, and saw a panicked face. The night man looked like a young black boy, except that his eyes were completely black. I tried the aura trick and had to focus hard to see a denser blackness surrounding him. I also saw a bright white light around the hand holding him, and pointed the stick at Ered. He had changed: his hair was now white and his eyes bright blue. He matched his own description of a snow man almost perfectly. I stepped back, trying to walk away from them.

"Jacob, come back! You'll get lost in the dark," Ered told me.
"You're..." I began, but I couldn't finish the phrase.
"I'm a hybrid," he said. "My father was human, my mother was a snow woman. Is that reason enough for both of you to hate me?"
"I don't hate you," the boy said. "I don't even know you."
"Then why are you attacking us?"
"I'm not attacking, I'm defending myself. Humans attacked my home today. I'm trying to stop them."
"Do you even know who attacked you?" Ered questioned him.
"They were wearing masks. They came in and started breaking things and ran away as soon as I woke up. Can you let me go, please? It's cold."

Ered released his grip and the boy sighed.
"Do yourself a favor and go back home," he told him. "If I find out who broke into your house I'll let you know, but you can't go about attacking random people, that's how wars get started."

The fog faded away, and I saw an embarrassed expression on the boy's face. He couldn't be older than sixteen, by human standards. Ered's hair and eyes changed back, as did his aura. He started walking again. I followed him, leaving the boy behind.

"Thank you," Ered told me.
"For what?" I asked.
"For staying with me. Most people turn against me when they find out what I am."
"You haven't done anything wrong... Other than being a smartass."
"I can't help it if I'm smarter than most people," he chuckled.
"I'll start calling you Snowman now," I teased him.
"Snowman? Fine, then I'll call you Stickman."
I laughed.
"You know..." he said. "That 'out-of-place' feeling you were talking about... it never does go away. Not for someone like me. But sometimes, for brief moments, I meet someone like you, and I can almost believe that some day it might."
It was the greatest compliment I'd ever got.

Lune the Guardian
24th September 2008, 01:32 PM
I'm sure more people will enter as the deadline draws closer, but just in case they don't, I don't think Gabi would like to win by default... so I'll enter a story for her to defeat :) I hope it's not too short - is the 4000 word an upper limit or is it absolute?


Wildflower

Let him fly, swift as air;
Let his spirit catch the light;
Let his mane like a river flow
And you’ll know that he is right.

A wildflower blooms in spite of everyone. One day, a field can be empty save for the soft baby-green grass. The next, it is an explosion of color: heads peek out of nowhere, little stalks weed their way out of the ground, scraggly leaves triumph although they look feeble. They come uncalled for, the wildflowers, but stay all the same, beautiful because they are spontaneous, unpredictable because their spirits sing.

Wildflower was a caged filly. Yes, the meadow was open and free. Yes, she could gallop through the fields as day dawned, and feel the morning’s breath whisper through her hair… But she was born a leader in a place where she could never lead. She was destined to blossom with a sudden urgency, to demonstrate all her beauty and soul to an empty field of grass, and then to quickly wither and decay into oblivion as if she had never lived, never been seen.

Only a stallion could rise to lead the herd. So, of course, Wildflower’s parents were immensely disappointed when she was finally born. Her father had descended from the lineage of stallions that had headed the horses. Upon her birth, Wildflower’s parents were already old; her mother would probably never again bear another child. They thought that they would lose Wildflower, too, because it had been another difficult pregnancy. They took very good care of her while she was in her mother’s belly, feeding and resting and doing everything healthy so that she could live. All the rest had emerged dead from the womb, you see. Wildflower was their last hope; but after she had come out and dared to be a filly, her parents paid no more heed to her, only reprimanded her sometimes for causing them so much trouble, pain, and grief.

During her infant stages Wildflower remembered intense hunger pangs; her mother usually withheld her milk until she was absolutely sure that Wildflower needed it to survive. It was the old mare’s way of punishing the impudent little horse for being a filly. Sometimes she forgot, though, and Wildflower became so weak she had to lie down on her side because she couldn’t move. Hence she learned to eat grass early, to suck on the morning dew and make water taste like honey.

As Wildflower grew older her parents’ attitudes towards her did not change. Her father still told her how she would never amount to anything, how another stillborn would have been better than she was. “At least it wouldn’t have destroyed my life,” he’d yell. “You’ve ruined my dream to keep our lineage alive forever.” At first Wildflower believed that her father’s scoldings were justified. She made a sincere effort to make up for his loss, trying to be the stallion that he had so desperately wanted her to be. After a while, though, it became evident that he had ceased to care. A mare in his eyes, whether she acted like a stallion or not, would always be inferior. His mate had also failed him; it was her fault that none but Wildflower had lived, her fault that no future stallion had been born.

Despite her father’s discouragement, Wildflower refused to let the matter rest. She truly believed that she could make things right. When she asked her father what qualities a horse needed to be a leader, however, he would tell her flatly to run off and play with the other fillies. But Wildflower did not want to play with them; all they did was giggle all day and look at the colts to pick out who would win the battle to become the new leader, and dream about being his mate. It was only through pure coincidence one day that she overheard an old horse reciting the poem. I will fly swift as air, she thought. I will run so fast that I will overtake the sun’s rays. My mane will flow in the wind like water. Then they’ll see that I can be a leader too.

So Wildflower ran every day. She didn’t trot; that was too stiff. She didn’t canter; it wasn’t free enough. No, Wildflower galloped across the terrain in full flight, letting her spirit loose to run wild. She whisked across the meadow, over hills, through trees in the forests and back again. There was only one place she didn’t go. At the very edge of the territory, grass ended, fading into red earth. This sloped into a wide, easy river that ambled unhurriedly throughout the land. Across the river lay a world, shrouded in mist, that had never been explored. This was the end of all things, said the wise old horses; if you crossed the curtain of fog, you would vanish forever.

Day by day Wildflower would gallop until her muscles screamed for her to stop, but she’d keep on going. It took her far away: away from her parents, away from the fillies and the colts, just away. At times her knees would collapse under her weight. She’d wait until she could stand up again, and then she would continue running. She didn’t want to rest; she couldn’t. Not until she proved what she wanted to prove. Not until she could fade into the wind like air.

The other fillies watched Wildflower with detached interest. They felt sorry for her; she was a lost case. They’d shake their little heads and then talk merrily along, chattering about what they would do if they became the mate of the new leader. Really, they didn’t care much for Wildflower. In spite of their (insincere) sympathy they had no intentions to try to help or even talk to her. For them, Wildflower was only another topic to discuss between themselves. “She’s so pathetic,” they’d say. “Who put it into that poor silly little thing’s head to run like that? Why would she want to?” Sometimes they would talk in hushed tones. “She’ll never find a mate,” they’d pronounce somberly, for to them it was the most important thing in their lives. “No one would want her. Who could?” They’d often wonder how such a failure could have been born to the head of the herd. Then they’d shift to how the old stallion still looked handsome as ever, and they’d swoon and gossip and titter away.

Wildflower never tried talking to the colts; she saw no point. She was just another potential mate in their eyes, not a living creature with a heart and a mind. Of course, she couldn’t blame them for assuming, because all the other fillies were like that. Just not her. She personally did not like the idea of acting like a piece of meat that belonged to some male horse.

If she really wanted to, Wildflower could entrance the future leader of the herd, capture him in a spell to secure her place as his mate. She possessed a kind of natural beauty that was unlike any other because it had been left free to flourish. Her mane, cream, spilled richly over her shoulders. When she ran it would flare out like a white flame, streaming through the air; and her tail would trail along, flowing ribbons all scattered wildly by the breeze. She was pearl-white from the tips of her ears to her hoofs. Her coat gleamed with a mysterious opalescence, so that in the milky hairs were intertwined dozens of other colors that combined to make her shine. Like a perfect tapestry, nature had woven Wildflower lovingly, matching her spirit with her fiery image.

Because she ran every day through the fields, Wildflower’s hoofs were blackened by dirt. She wore a coat of mud, and although she always bathed in the river, she’d go running again and gain a new blanket of fresh earth. The other horses rarely saw the whiteness that lay buried underneath.

In the event that the head stallion could not produce an heir, there would have to be a fight. A tournament would be held, and the emerging champion would race all the previous competitors as well as the current leader, in a symbolic ceremony that would seal his acceptance as the new head of the herd. The leading stallion had to be the fastest, so that in any situation, especially when the horses faced danger, he could run in the vanguard and show them the way. Most of the time the victor of the battles also won the race, but there had been a few exceptions. In this case, the first two stallions who reached the end of the track would battle for authority until one fell, to the death if necessary.

Now that Wildflower felt synchronized with the wind, the sun, and the streams, she knew that it was time to prepare for the fight. She could not get her father to show her how. “Don’t be foolish,” he told her. “Dueling is for the stallions. It is an art that a mare can never understand.” So she tried in the forest to fight with a birch. It was a slender one with bark that bent easily, so Wildflower thought that she wouldn’t have trouble breaking it with one kick. She was wrong. She believed that surely a second one from her hind legs, thrust with all the force she could muster, would snap the bark apart. When she got to the seventh kick, however, and the rebounding tree showed no signs of damage besides some chipped bark, Wildflower was ready to despair. She needed help.

Of course, no stallion would give it to her willingly, but Wildflower found a way. Every morning she would melt into the trees and wait patiently. Sure enough, a sparring pair would show up sometime, and she’d watch every movement the two made, the way they reared up and brought their momentum-powered legs down upon their targets swiftly to cause great hurt. Wildflower studied the effects of impact timing and contact area. If she wanted to break skin to expose raw flesh, Wildflower would kick quickly with the tips of her hoofs; if she wanted to make a horse fall, she would concentrate both front feet on a vulnerable part of the body and drive her legs forward as quickly as she could. Later, Wildflower tried to apply her knowledge to the tree that had frustrated her before. It cracked under the first assault.

When the day for the fight came, Wildflower was ready. She closed her eyes, focusing in the final remaining moments, to prepare herself for the battle. Her father’s harsh voice interrupted her meditation.

“Why are you here?”

“To win the tournament and prove that I can be your heir.”

“This contest is for stallions. Stay away from our rituals. You don’t belong here.”

Then where did she belong…? She’d often asked herself that question. Sometimes she wondered if she belonged at all. Wildflower did not protest; her father’s word was final. She watched silently as the stallions fought, the obviously stronger ones standing out very quickly. The first few rounds contained nothing much of interest; it was as the tournament drew to an end that the competition began to excite.

Blood flew, broken flesh, as the horses battled fiercely for supremacy. In the final round, a charcoal stallion faced a spirited umber one. Both had their share of injuries, the black one with a deep gash in his left flank and the brown with one across his face. Each had been bruised in previous battles, and here and there bits of flesh dribbled out of their bodies where skin had been punctured. The two dueled for a long time, one delivering a kick, the other dodging and returning it. After a while they even resorted to biting, when their feet just weren’t quick enough. Time seemed to slow to a stop. As the two adversaries dragged out the fight, both taking vicious blows but neither willing to fall, the battle looked as if it would not end. Then the sable stallion made a mistake. Being the taller of the two, he reared too high, exposing his underside, and the mahogany horse with a head butt sent his opponent sprawling to the floor. He snorted triumphantly, pawing the ground, taunting. He would never allow his rival to forget that very moment where he had left himself vulnerable to attack.

Three months they were given, to recover from their injuries and to train. Wildflower secretly still sprinted across the fields and hills, but it was not as easy as it used to be. Now all the stallions were out, training, and it was a challenge not to be discovered. Usually she had to settle for a run through the forest.

The day of the race, Wildflower had made up her mind. She would not back down this time; they could not stop her. She would race and prove them all wrong.

Nine stallions, including her father, had shown up to run. They were to race to the river and stop before they crossed into the end of the world. In the beginning, none noticed Wildflower running beside them. Then, as she passed the ones in the rear, a cry of anguish went up into the air… but their frustration did nothing to slow her down. One horse fell. Another had to drop out of the race, for his back legs had cramped. Eight horses were left now, five in front of Wildflower.

The sun beat down on the racers and some horses could not take it. Wildflower just galloped on, her coat shining in the light as she charged. Two more stallions trailed behind her. Ahead dashed her father, the tournament champion, and his rival.

Close now, so close… Wildflower pushed herself forward. Pearls of sweat rolled along her strained muscles, trickling through the branched veins that had risen from her skin. Her heartbeat matched the thud of her hoofs as they struck the ground beneath. Breathe, beat, thump. Gasp, beat, thump. Wheeze, beat, thump.

Terrain flew by in a blur of color. Trees, hills, and clouds all fused into one rushing stream of drowned greens and golds and blues. Wildflower didn’t even know how she passed her father. All she remembered was the look on his face when she crossed him, the surprise and indignation and fury and betrayal. Wildflower cherished that expression because with it he had acknowledged her success.

She had not much time left. The river drew closer, and so did the two competing stallions, but they all seemed out of her reach. Wildflower had to do something; no matter how much she tried to overtake them from the side, they were always a few steps in front of her. Her heart felt on the point of bursting for lack of rest; she had made it work so hard. She glanced at the race leaders. They were absorbed in their rivalry, pushing their bodies against the other, each trying to break his opponent’s concentration. Wildflower pounced on her chance. Following them from behind, allowing them to take the wind resistance for her, she waited until the brown stallion hit his rival particularly hard to slow both of them down, slightly but enough. Then, she made a mad dash, a dash she had been working on all her life, just for this very moment. At first they did not see her, but when she passed, kicking dirt into their faces, they stared at her in disbelief, forgetting for a moment their quarrel with each other. Wildflower could see in their eyes that they could not accept the fact that she had defeated them. Their glares insinuated foul play, accusing her of cheating.

Wildflower had not thought about what she would do before if she won, or what would happen. The charges that she faced from the two stallions had wrenched her back from her world of fantasy. Silently she scolded herself for being so naïve. What had she expected, that when she beat them they would hail her as a heroine and she’d live happily ever after?

When Wildflower reached the river, she jumped in.

As she kicked furiously, pushing herself across the water, she stared into the blurred beyond wishing that she could disappear into it forever. She fled to the edge of the earth to stare into the abyss, but when she gazed past the misty veil, she found that she had reached not the end of the world, but the beginning. Some horses were calling for her to come back, her father one of them. He’d said it himself: she didn’t belong here. Wildflower did not turn her head. She tasted freedom… and she ran.

mr_pikachu
24th September 2008, 06:30 PM
Lune: It's an upper limit. Feel free to write a haiku if you like. ^^

mario72486
24th September 2008, 08:24 PM
Almost finished. All it needs now is a few edits here and there...and a title. While it's not unusual for me to add a title after writing something, this time around I can't seem to come up with one that would fit. If anyone could lend a hand, that would be nice.

Also, at first I thought the up in word limit was a blessing, but it eventually became a curse as the count got higher and higher. There was so much I want to add, and it seems like there still isn't enough space for it all. Ah well, I might end up going back and fixing it up like I did with the entry I gave last year.

Anywho, expect mine up sometime this weekend, if not sooner...

Lady Vulpix
25th September 2008, 02:14 PM
Karin, don't underestimate yourself, I like your story! Even if its presence here may render a part of the interview obsolete. I don't know who will win, but in any case I think it'll turn out to be a great contest.

And Mario, even if the title itself isn't judged (so you may post an entry without a title if you want) it'll be hard for anyone to help you choose a title if we don't even know what it is that you're writing. Then again, it was probably a joke and I've just made a fool of myself. I'm sure it'll be good either way, if it's anything like your previous entries.

mario72486
27th September 2008, 10:08 PM
Alright, here’s what I’ve been able to come up with. 4000 words exactly, minus the title. It has been weeks in the making, and I hope people enjoy.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Clash of Generations


Northwest Berlin was unusually calm for this late February day in 1945. Only a few clouds were dancing across the sky, leaving a nearly perfect birds-eye view of the countryside from above. If it wasn’t for the war, this place would seem like paradise for anyone looking for peace and quiet.

The serenity was short-lived, as the droning sound of piston engines filled the air. Twenty-thousand feet above, a sight that had become grossly familiar to any German soldier or citizen appeared.

It was a formation of Allied aircraft. With it being daytime, it had to be an American group; the British had their duties at night. If someone was able to stop time and count every bomber in the formation, they would have been able to identify 100 separate aircraft, all of them B-24 Liberators. This was a relatively small group, considering that most formations consisted of 200 or more bombers.

While many groups were sent to bomb key German industrial targets, such as factories or oil refineries, this group was different. One might have considered it a decoy group, meant to divert the Germans’ attention and focus their air power away from a later, much larger formation. This was partly true; this group’s mission was to bomb a German airfield a few miles away from a tank assembly plant, destroying as many fighter aircraft as possible. If the mission was successful, it would pave the way for a second, much larger wave, preparing for a bombing run on the factory.

5000 feet above the bombers was a group of 32 P-51D Mustangs, another familiar sight for anyone who was able to see them from the ground. Ever since their introduction to the Allied bombing campaign, they had become invaluable. Thanks to their incredible range of close to 1400 miles, they were able to escort bombers from bases in England, to targets as far as Eastern Germany, and back again. With a top speed of over 400 miles per hour, and equipped with six .50 caliber Browning machine guns, they could both outrun and outgun most adversaries. At this stage of the campaign, the whole ‘escort mission’ idea had become far more than routine, to the point where pilots and bomber crews alike began to call them ‘milk runs.’

Such was what Lieutenant Kyle Evans, the #3 Mustang pilot in a flight of four, was thinking. Sure, he always wanted to fly aircraft and do his part in the war effort, but lately it had become quite a bore.

“Damn, I’m getting sick of this,” Evans blurted out to no one in particular. “When is this war ever going to end?”

“Quit your whining, Hawk Three,” the flight leader, code-named Hawk One, replied. “You knew what you were signing up for when you chose to fly that thing, so deal with it.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Hawk Four chimed in. “We’ll be done with this assignment soon. Then we can go off and do our own thing.” By that, he meant attacking separate targets - such as railroad lines or fuel and ammunition dumps - before returning to base.

Evans shook his head and groaned. As much as he didn’t want to admit it, his commander was right. He loved the way the Mustang looked; from its unique airframe to the way its bubble-like canopy gave him a near 360-degree view of everything around him. He also liked the way the cockpit felt; it was as if everything he needed was easily accessible, right at his fingertips. There were two other things that made him love this aircraft. First, he had been able to shoot down four enemy planes so far. Second, he had recently gotten permission from the commander to paint the sides and wings of his P-51. His plane was now sporting black racing stripes to go along with the standard checkered flag design on its tail. It’d be the closest thing he had to a racecar until after the war ended.

But as much as he loved his Mustang, there were things about it he didn’t like. The droning of the engine sounded like a chainsaw ready to conk out and die. Without a heating system of its own, the cockpit was freezing at the high altitudes required for these kinds of missions. In addition, thanks to overextended periods of radio silence, he couldn’t even hum to himself to keep his mind distracted. The missions themselves were taking a serious toll on his body as well as his mind. It was all more than enough to make things maddening.

The other members of his flight weren’t exactly help in this situation, either. Hawk Two, real name Lieutenant Duncan Dupree, was the logic center of the flight. When he wasn’t shooting away at Me-109s or Fw-190s, he was skimming through the various books provided by the Air Force. He was preparing to go to Yale for the spring ’42 semester before the U.S. entered the war. Dupree ended up getting drafted, and while he didn’t like it at first, he zipped through the ranks faster than most, earning his wings with flying colors. Evans could always count on him to come up with some kind of ingenious plan to come out on top.

Hawk Four was a different matter. Ensign Keith Logan, the resident comedian, recently joined the squadron. No one really knew who he was or where he came from, just that he had transferred from the Pacific Theater. What they did know about him was that he was a born F4F Wildcat pilot, and had plenty of experience in the air. While he never shot down any Japanese planes while on the other side of the world, he was telling everyone that his time would soon come. The adjustment to the P-51 wasn’t easy, but everyone knew he would manage. This was his first ‘milk run’ with the bomber train.

Hawk One, or Colonel Henry Smith as he was otherwise known, was the natural-born leader. From what Evans heard before joining the squadron, Smith had started out in the P-47 Thunderbolt. With it, he became an Ace, having shot down 5 German aircraft in less than two months of combat. Soon after he switched over to the P-51, he became a Double-Ace. It was perhaps the one thing Evans liked about him; Smith was everything he wasn’t, what he wished he could be. On the negative side, Hawk One reminded Evans of the ‘mean old boss’ archetype, to the point where he did almost nothing but order everyone around. However, deep down he was just looking out for his fellow pilots; their lives were in his hands.

Evans sighed, trying his best to tune out the background noise and focus on the skies ahead of him. It was by this time that something came to him. “Hey, something’s not right here…”

“What’s wrong this time?” Dupree called.

“I don’t know,” Evans said. “It’s just that something feels...out of place. Usually we’d hear confirmation of German fighters by now.”

Smith saw what he meant, and immediately got a hold of the lead bomber on his radio. “Messenger One, do you see anything on your end of things?” He asked.

“Negative,” the bomber pilot replied. “There’s nothing but clear-blue skies ahead, and a trail of bombers following behind.” Other bombers in the formation gave the same report.

“Okay, this is really weird,” Dupree said. “Where the heck are they?”

“Maybe we have the element of surprise, for once,” Logan suggested.

“I doubt it,” Smith said bluntly. “They ought to know by now that they should expect bombings at this time of day.”

“Maybe their aircraft are spread thinner than usual,” Evans said. “With the beatings we’ve been handing the Luftwaffe lately, they may not have the planes to actually counter us.”

“Sounds reasonable,” Dupree thought out loud. “Maybe we should scout ahead and…”

“Objects approaching from 11 o’clock!” The lead bomber called. The Mustang pilots had to squint because of the sunlight, but they were able to spot several objects a few miles away. They looked like aircraft, but not German Me-109s or Fw-190s; whatever they were, white smoke trailed behind them.

“What the hell are those?” Logan exclaimed.

“Whatever they are,” Smith said, “they’re heading straight for us. Move in to intercept!” Evans and the other pilots moved their throttles forward, and the Mustangs took off for whatever was ahead. A second flight of Mustangs followed behind them, ready to give support.

It took less than a minute to reach the merge, and the American pilots got their first look at their adversaries. There were sixteen aircraft in all, and they were roughly the same size as the P-51s, but that was where the similarities ended. These planes were painted camouflage green, with black leopard spot patterns on the sides. Their nearly streamlined fuselages made them look almost like sharks. Their wings were swept back, and pod-like structures protruded out from underneath them. It turned out that the trails of smoke were coming out of these ‘pods.’ But that wasn’t the only unusual thing about them…

“What the?!” Logan exclaimed. “No propellers?”

There was no time to react to that question, as cannon rounds belched out of the mystery crafts. Logan had his left wing sheared off and his cockpit blown apart. The Mustang went into a flaming death spiral, disappearing from view. Even as the other Mustangs tried to take evasive action, the propeller-less planes zipped past them like they weren’t important at all.

“Goddamn, these things are fast!” The lead Mustang from the other flight exclaimed.

“After them!” Smith barked. “They’re heading for the bombers!”

At this stage of the war, no one among the Allies had expected the Germans to pull a possible winning weapon out of their hats, especially considering what a disadvantage the Axis nation was at.

But these propeller-less planes weren’t magic - they were a quantum leap in technology.

They were Messerschmitt 262s, the world’s first operational jet fighters. The Germans had these aircraft in development for years; however, thanks to Hitler believing that the war was already won, plans to actually use them in combat were shelved until late 1944, when the tide had already turned against them. Equipped with four 30 millimeter MK 108 cannons, a well-placed burst could blow any plane out of the sky.

It seemed that the Allies’ worst fears had finally been realized.

While the Mustangs were turning around, the Liberators at the head of the bomber train opened fire on the 262s with their forward-facing guns, but to no avail. Four jets on either side of the group split off, heading to the outskirts of the sky, while the others attacked the bombers head-on. The pilots and crew of the leading Liberator cried out in horror as the bomber was shot to hell by the strike. It fell out of formation, spinning downwards several hundred feet before exploding in a ball of fire.

“Evasive maneuvers!” The second-leading B-24 pilot yelled. “I repeat! Evasive maneuvers!”

Outside the swarm of Allied aircraft, the 262s that had separated from the main group began their attack. Going full-throttle, they rushed in like a pack of ravenous wolves, strafing the bombers with cannon fire. Another Liberator fell victim to the attack, while the others fired back frantically. However, the 262s were too fast for the gunners to accurately track, and they whizzed away as quickly as they appeared.

“Where did they go?” A Liberator pilot asked. “Damn, they’re going so fast, I lost them!”

“Okay, since when have we lost our edge?” Evans asked, as the Mustangs finally reached the bombers.

“We haven’t!” Smith snapped. “They just took us by surprise, that’s all! Messenger Two, can you identify what these things are?”

“Negative,” the second Liberator replied, “I’ve never seen anything like them before! They’re moving too fast for us to shoot down!”

“Heads up!” Another bomber pilot called out. “They’re coming around again!”

Evans, while a pure fighter by nature, was shaking in his boots. Sweat was running down his face at the thought of facing the same fate as his wingman. Based on what had just happened, it looked like he wouldn’t last very long. But this was not the time to think about odds. The bombers needed all the help they could get.

“Coordinate fire!” Smith ordered. “We’ve got to split them up and bring them down!”

The P-51s charged the jets head-on, letting loose with their .50 caliber machine guns. The 262s scattered, easily avoiding damage.

“Watch it! You’ve got one on your tail!” Dupree yelled out to a fellow Mustang in Flight 5. The P-51 pilot was doing everything he could to dislodge the enemy fighter from his tail, but to no avail. The 262 opened fire, cannon rounds slicing into the Mustang. Everyone could hear the pilot’s screams before his radio cut out.

In another part of the sky, two warring adversaries were circling each other violently. In this turning fight, the Mustang was actually winning, as the pilot was edging his plane closer and closer to a good firing angle. Just as he thought he reached it, the 262 broke out of the turning fight and began to climb higher into the sky. The Mustang chased after him. Things went into the vertical as the Mustang let loose. Because of poor deflection, the machine gun rounds passed harmlessly underneath the jet.

The 262 wasn’t just a faster aircraft - it also had an excellent rate of climb, although this fact wouldn’t be found out until later on.

The same could not be said for the Mustang, as it stalled out at the top of its climb, spiraling out of control. In the meantime, a nearby Me-262 was able to make easy pickings out of the helpless P-51, shooting it to pieces.

Smith grit his teeth as he dived, focusing on a 262 making another pass on the bombers. The jet unleashed a long volley, but was unable to connect with any of its targets. For some reason, the pilot became careless; as he pulled out of his attack, he turned too tightly, something any pilot would have difficulty getting out of. As he tried to right himself, he fell under the guns of Hawk One.

“Hammer down!” The Mustang’s six machine guns fired simultaneously, striking the 262. One of its engines belched out black smoke as it caught on fire. The jet rose into the air as its pilot opened the canopy and bailed out.

One down, fifteen to go…

“I officially do not like this!” Evans moaned, as he fired burst after burst against any enemy jet that got into his sights. “These are not like the 109s I’m used to!”

“Step up and get used to it!” Smith snapped as he was barely able to get out of another 262’s sights. “If you don’t do your job, you’re going to get shot down by these things!” Evans growled, refocusing his attention on a 262 that zipped past him.

The dogfight raged on, with no side getting a clear advantage over the other. A Mustang was coughing up smoke from its engine from a jet’s strafing run, but the enemy didn’t come around and finish the job. Many bombers had taken serious damage, but they managed to stay in the air.

Why were the jet fighters beginning to get sloppy? Perhaps it was a case of believing that nothing could stop them. Then again, if one had a superior aircraft, they may feel a little overconfident. However, this was no excuse for losing focus, as many of the 262s were doing.

For example, one jet went for another strafing pass, not realizing that a P-51 was right underneath him. As the 262 riddled a Liberator’s rear sections with cannon fire, the Mustang fired at near point-blank range, igniting the jet’s fuel tank. The resulting explosion was enough to shake up both the Mustang pilot and the bomber that had been fired upon. Both Allied aircraft took damage, but they’d survive, for now.

Evans was taking all of this in, dozens of thoughts running through his mind. In the three years he had been flying in planes like the P-51, he had never been involved in a dogfight like this before. He was so used to taking on prop-driven planes like the Me-109 - not to mention having the superior aircraft - that the mere thought of being at a disadvantage was near impossible. He felt out of place, like a fish out of water. Something had to give; otherwise things were going to get much worse…

“I can’t shake him! Someone give me a hand here!”

Evans snapped out of it, hearing the voice of Hawk One. Looking down and to his right, he saw Smith’s Mustang dodging and weaving, a Me-262 right behind him. The P-51 was taking hits, but it was refusing to get shot down at a time like this. For some reason Dupree was nowhere in sight. He wasn’t responding to calls on the radio, so one could only fear the worse.

“Hang on, I’ll be right there!” Evans called.

“Hurry!” Smith yelled. “I can’t keep this up!”

But just before Evans could act on his proclamation, he gasped as white projectiles the size of golf balls flew over his canopy. Looking back, he saw another 262 on his tail, lobbing cannon shells at him.

His mind seemed to freeze at this point. This situation was one of the many things he dreaded. He was so sure of his abilities that he didn’t think an enemy fighter would actually get behind him and try to shoot him down. He had been living in a dream world, where everything would go his way sooner or later. As a result, he had never shown any real responsibility for anyone or anything. With this attack from behind, Evans realized that the dream was over. It was high-time for him to take action and step back into the real world before his life was taken.

Evans may have been a fighter, but he was also a gambler. Well, I guess it’s time to go for broke, he thought to himself.

He forced the control stick to the right, causing the Mustang to flip upside-down and go into a steep and sudden dive. The trailing 262 chased after him. As Evans’ speed increased dramatically, he kept track of the 262 chasing Hawk One, trying to time his next move just right. As he went to right himself, the other jet opened fire.

Evans felt a few rounds impact his plane as he pulled out of the dive, but he didn’t let that stop him. The quick maneuver caused the pursuing 262 to overshoot and forced it to continue its downward flight, leaving Evans the perfect opportunity to latch on to his target. Because of the dive, the P-51 was going much faster than normal, but he wasn’t paying attention. He lined up the 262 and fired all six of his machine guns. .50 caliber rounds slammed into the jet, wounding its pilot. The smoking remains of the 262 disappeared into the clouds; there was no sign of a bailout.

It was a long time coming, but this was kill number five for Evans. He was now officially an Ace.

Smith gave a sigh of relief. “Thanks for the assist, Hawk Three,” he commented. “I owe you one.”

Evans gave a chuckle. “Any time, sir. Any time.” He was so busy celebrating the moment, he failed to notice that the 262 that had been chasing him was quickly and viciously approaching from underneath.

By the time he realized it, it was too late…

…or so he thought, as the jet was suddenly engulfed in flames as a result of a stream of bullets. As the 262 nosed over into its final dive, a familiar P-51 emerged out of the trail of smoke, falling into formation next to Evans.

“Dupree!” Evans exclaimed.

“Thank god you’re alright!” Smith shouted happily.

“Sorry about that, sir,” Dupree called. “One of those stupid things shook me up pretty bad, and my radio has been on the fritz. It seems to be working okay now, though. Would have come back sooner, but I had some business of my own to take care of.”

Evans smirked. “You mean bringing down the bastard that shot you up, eh?”

Dupree laughed. “Damn right.”

“We have the airfield in sight!” Messenger Two announced. “Steady…steady…bombs away!” Like a group of synchronized swimmers, the Liberators opened their bomb bay doors and delivered their payloads. Hundreds of 1600-pound bombs fell to earth, impacting on the airfield’s runways and hangars. Whatever aircraft were on that base wouldn’t be taking off, and any plane in the air wouldn’t be landing there again.

“We’ve got confirmation from the rest of the bomber train,” Messenger Two called. “The remaining enemy aircraft are retreating. We should be safe, now.”

“Either they ran out of ammo,” Evans commented, “or they ran out of confidence.”

“Either way,” Smith replied, “we need to be wary. If whatever those are becomes the new standard in bomber interception, we may not have many more ‘milk runs.’”

Evans wiped his brow in the silence of the moment. He then spoke up. “Sir…sorry about what I said earlier. I was in no position to complain like that.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Smith replied. “I feel the same way. The sooner this war ends, the better.”

“But if there are more of those things out there,” Dupree said, “that may not be any time soon.”

Evans was left with several thoughts as the formation headed back to England. The first was facing down an enemy so far out of his element. It was a miracle he was able to make it out alive. His thoughts shifted to Logan. Even if he knew he had shot down the very 262 that killed his fellow pilot, it wouldn’t bring him back. Becoming an Ace didn’t make things better, either. In fact, he felt terrible; Logan had said his time would come, but he meant getting his first victory, not having his own life claimed. It was one fact of warfare that Evans needed to keep in mind; at any place or time, in any situation, the heavens above can cut you down. If he didn’t remember that, it would be a guarantee that he’d meet a similar fate as Logan.

Deep down, he kept telling himself that things could have been much, much worse.

In all, five B-24s and six P-51s were lost in the conflict. It was a minor setback for the unit, but a loss for those with comrades in the planes shot down. Eight Me-262s were confirmed shot down, with two more damaged. In the end, the mission was still a success, and the next wave of American bombers would be cleared to go in; however, they would have to do so with great care. These new jets, if they were deployed in large numbers, could easily take control of the skies. In order to counter this new threat, aerial combat strategies would have to be rewritten. Fighter pilots and bomber crews alike would have to train harder and better prepare themselves. If they didn’t, the tide could easily turn in favor of the Germans…



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~


No one knew it at the time, but the Me-262 would never be a war winner. By war’s end, of the 1,400 or so jets produced, it was estimated that less than 300 ever saw combat. Also, they arrived on the battlefield too little, too late to make a difference in the war’s outcome. What they did do, however, was create a new benchmark for future aircraft to follow. The era of propeller-driven fighters was coming to an end, and the Jet Age would soon begin.

What felt out of place then would eventually - and inevitably - become commonplace.

mr_pikachu
4th October 2008, 10:15 PM
The September Writing Contest is now closed! Please be patient as the judges prepare their decision....

eevee-shayna
5th October 2008, 12:22 PM
Ear infections suck. Ok, I just finished the first one. I'll post my scores as a finish them.


Out of Place by Lady Vulpix
Word count: 4000

-Plot (13/20 points):
The plot was captivating for the most part. I found myself wanting to continue reading to figure out motives, more details o the setting, and what the characters would do next. One part I particularly likes was when the main character meets the paper eating monster in the forest. The story had some “twists and turns”, which had me ask myself, ‘why is he in a room writing down his story? How did he get there?’ And of course the plot twist of Ered’s back story. I can’t say the story had a sustained plot because it stopped abruptly. It was clear that you had hit the word limit. The ending of a story is very important, and this ending left me hanging. That is the reason why I am deducting so many points from plot.

-Plot Originality (10/10 points):
This was a very original concept. The magical creatures are very intriguing, as was following Jacob’s journey. The story didn’t have much time to have plot twists. However, the foundation that has been laid down has much potential. Ered being a hybrid was a shock. But why is he so trusting and willing to give away his identity? I want to read more to find out. ^_^

-Writing Style (17/20 points):
I didn’t find any word choice that I disagreed with. Word like called Ered “arrogant” were on the mark. I loved the description of Sergeant Kenning’s signed paper: “wait until I got a signed permission by some important figure with an illegible signature.” Isn’t that the truth. I also loved you description of the “night man”. You made him very humane and relatable, as well as a cool magical creature. As for dialogue I would have liked more dialogue in the beginning of the story, instead of you telling me what happened. But near the end of the story you got much better at dialogue usage. I liked the metaphor, “it was the state of the roads that caused the Lenthish army to keep losing soldiers.” Or maybe I just read deeply into it. Either way, I’m glad you put it into the story. The Journal style layout (1st person) has been done many times before, but I don’t thik that took away from your story. It wasn’t overplayed, it is just simply the way you are telling the tale. Plus it made the story easy to read, since it is written from Jacob’s comprehension level. I suppose that means if you ever make a grammatical or spelling mistake you can blame it on Jacob having written it incorrectly in his journal.

-Spelling and Grammar (10/10 points):
The only spelling error I saw was “practiced” but I’m not going to take off points for one incident.


-Characters (13/15 points):
Jacob Rogers: He seemed realistic because his motives are to go after brothers are believable. He doesn’t have a distinct personality, but seems open to attaining one. As for emotion, you made it clear that he hates the war, misses brothers, and is upset over his lost dream of farm management. I guess he is relatable to the current war and anyone who has loved ones fighting overseas.

Sergeant Kennings: Hasn’t had time to develop yet, but seems to be a stereotypical higher-up military officer.

Bob (Ered Michelson): His story outline is very good, but I feel that his dialogue could be more realistic. He seems way too upfront considering his situation. He is a unique character and interesting to read about. He feels strongly about the war between magical creatures and humans. As for relatable. Um.. ..to Inuyasha? Except not as moody. And has just intentions. Yeah, lets just says Ered is original.

-Settings (15/15 points):
You’re new world (Lanara, in Lenthe. Eland, in Alunia.) was very creative. They were explained well, but not too much that everything is given away. I liked the description, “[Alunia has no magical creatures] because the magical field's so thin that any of them would be killed off easily if they dared come to our continent.” The magical creatures (spirits, primals, mimetics and chimerans) are a great idea and make this world original. I would like to read more about them and how they interact with humans. Also, their situation with the humans is very believable.

-Overall Appreciation (7/10 points):
The plot is very original and makes me want to read more. Once you got to the bar with Bob/Ered, the story got very interesting. I think this is because there was more dialogue, which is interesting and captivating. The concept of “show, don’t tell” is very true for your story. When you show dialogue and action, it is more interesting than when you tell us mechanically what happened.

I like how you laid out the setting in the beginning by tell us the lands, that there is magic in this story, and the back plot. It made it very easy to follow and an easy reference if I need to look back and recall which land is which.

BONUS POINTS
-Stuck with Theme, Kept to Word Count (3/3 points)
Bob/Ered is ‘Out of Place’ because he is a hybrid

Final Result: 88/100 = 88%

Closing advice: This story has great potential. The characters (Jacob and Bob/Ered), Plot (war between humans and magical creatures), and setting (magical lands of Lenthe and Alunia) are original and you can do a lot with them.

However, the story ended very abruptly and left the reader without closure. I understand that there was a word limit, but it seems to me you were creating a long term project when this contest is meant for short stories. Perhaps you could have written an ending statement that showed this was the end of a journal entry. That way, the reader would be reminded of the beginning of the story when you said that Jacob had found this booklet in a room and was writing in it.

Overall I think this is a great start and you should keep writing it. Thank you for your entry!

Lady Vulpix
5th October 2008, 08:36 PM
Aww... thanks to you! I'll continue writing it, then. As soon as I have the chance. (I hate being busier than I can handle).

Yes, I had trouble with the word limit, I'm sorry about that. I hope I can make things clearer as the story progresses.

And InuYasha? XD Not quite. Although I can see the connection, of course.

Lune the Guardian
6th October 2008, 01:23 PM
Yay, Gabi, I was really hoping you'd continue that story. I was afraid you wouldn't because you were too busy. Take your time, I'll be ready to read whenever you write stuff :)

Drago
13th October 2008, 10:18 PM
Alrighty y'all, I'm a third of the way there - got the first review up... The others will follow shortarily, I assure you. Gotta have something to read on those long train trips, after all. ;)

Out of Place by Lady Vulpix
Plot ~ 13/20
The plot itself is marvellous, no doubt. It was incredibly captivating, wonderfully creative and charmingly delivered. If you do decide to expand this into a full fic, you have my utter sport - as it has a great plot.
Its application in the format of a short story however, felt immensely flawed. Cutting back on some of the description would make it less thorough no doubt, but we were at times laden with information that would later prove useless to us. The in-depth explanation of the magical entities was by and large excess, and it overall felt that these concepts were such a strong emphasis that it was hard for us to let them go and settle with what we had.
The final twist was a good one no doubt, but without closure it felt less like a story, more like a preview of the bigger picture. I felt cheated in a way, but to your credit this laid largely in the charm the story held; it was too good in its own right to not stand up as a stand-alone piece. As such, I deducted heavily from the plot as a result of how it just seemed to have dropped suddenly.

Plot Originality ~ 8/10
Entering a world of magic from a more conventional existence isn't too new, though the knowledge of each other world's existence was novel. This other world didn't break a lot of creative boundaries, but it was applied in a more original way than usual.
A very strong component in what could otherwise be a straight-forward piece lies in the hidden motives behind the war and disappearing soldiers. This concept was left open in a good way; though there remains a place to progress from, we are able to come to our own interpretations.

Writing Style ~ 18/20
The whole fic held an undeniable charm in its writing style. The wording was excellent, and the sentence structure made it an absolute joy to read. At no point did I have to stop over a sentence and re-read it for a lack of understanding.
The only aspect I wasn't fond of was when you literally used the phrase 'out of place'. To me, the references were strong enough that we didn't have to hear the phrase used outright. That felt spoon-fed, in a way.

Spelling and Grammar ~ 9/10
Though I stayed on high alert throughout for even something that could have been a mis-type, I found little to nothing. To my understanding though, people would say they live on a farm, as opposed to in one.

Characters ~ 12/15
Solid. Jacob fits perfectly into his role; we live vicariously through him as our narrator and he has some aspects to his persona but he isn't overly established, so with future development he has great potential to flourish. In other words, he was perfect for a short story, but would still be excellent in a fuller fic.
Ered is a very well applied interpretation of the 'calm yet arrogant' type; he carried an air of superiority without being narcissistic. His whole dynamic of looking down on others at first while still being calm and reflective was very nice.

Settings ~ 13/15
The world in which the story is set is a very interesting one, and I particularly like the allure that the magic-free Alunia holds for people of Lanara. You were wise not to bog us down with a great deal of physical description; the way you described the locations like forest path gave us enough to go by without jeopardising the word limit. The workings of this world made for such captivating material, it probably caught my attention more than its inhabitants - I find myself wanting to know what other secrets this world will hold more so than what other developments happen to the characters.

Overall Appreciation ~ 8/10
I don't read nearly as many TPM fics as I should, as I generally don't go out of my way to read them. If there's a certain theme or it deals with a topic I like, I'll feel inclined to look, but something like this I probably wouldn't have even looked at (through no fault of your own of course; it simply comes down to the genre), and I would have missed out on something grand. I went into this story with a critical mind and came away with the mindset of a fan; who was brought in and felt hungry for more. You've certainly gained a future reader in me, with a very readable and captivating tale.

Final Result: 81/100 = 81%

eevee-shayna
14th October 2008, 12:03 AM
Here is my second. One more to go.

Wildflower by Lune the Guardian
Word Count: 2804

-Plot (15/20 points):
The wonderful thing about fantasy is you can make a story from any perspective in any world. You used this ability to craft a story about personified horses and their sexist society. I give you points for entertaining us readers with this charming setting and world. Starting with a poem was a wonderful tool because it is enticing way to easy into the story and it makes the reader wonder how it pertains to the story. However, my lingering concern plot-wise was why does this herd need a leader? It seems to me that they are in no danger in this peaceful land and therefore he has no purpose.

-Plot Originality (6/10 points):
The entire time I was expecting it to be a very predictable ending where Wildflower entered the competition and won and at last gained everyone’s respect and she broke the barriers of feminism, yadda yadda. But the ending where she jumped over the river and kept running was unexpected. You did a great job at making a surprise ending. However, up until that twist, the story was about your average Disney-esque misunderstood main character. You could fix this by giving Wildflower a little more character. Make her unique. Make her not just someone that the reader pities because of her unloving upbringing, but rather someone who is vibrant with a personality the reader can’t help but gravitate toward.

-Writing Style (14/20 points):
This story opens with lots of captivating imagery, such as, “The next, it is an explosion of color: heads peek out of nowhere, little stalks weed their way out of the ground, scraggly leaves triumph although they look feeble.” And the description of Wildflower’s upbringing was well described, “Hence she learned to eat grass early, to suck on the morning dew and make water taste like honey.” You did a good job at vividly describing Wildflower’s circumstance which laid the groundwork for the rest of the story. I liked that you described the beginning with narrative, but further on I think more dialogue would have been beneficial. Such as the part where you talk about how the other fillies didn’t care about Wildflower. This scene would be better if you wrote it out as dialogue. Writing it as a Storyteller narrating a story doesn’t work well. Show, don’t tell. The story flowed in a comprehensive time-line, however, there were a few bumps. There was no transition between talking about Wildflower’s appearance to talking about fighting for leadership. Also, when you described the day of the race: “Nine stallions, including her father, had shown up to run. They were to race to the river and stop before they crossed into the end of the world. In the beginning, none noticed Wildflower running beside them.” You forgot to put in a sentence that said the race had started. Lastly, I found the line, ”She personally did not like the idea of acting like a piece of meat that belonged to some male horse” was awkwardly worded. Apart from those points, I commend you on having written story that was easy to follow and read.

-Spelling and Grammar (7/10 points):
I found no spelling mistakes, but there were a few grammar issues:
“Her mane, cream, spilled richly over her shoulders.” Cream what?
“It was only through pure coincidence one day that she overheard an old horse reciting the poem. I will fly swift as air, she thought. I will run so fast that I will overtake the sun’s rays. My mane will flow in the wind like water. Then they’ll see that I can be a leader too.” The period after “thought” should be a comma. Also, on a side note, I think it would be easier to follow if you quoted the poem.
“shrouded in mist, that had never been explored” Spellcheck tells me “that” should be changed to “which”. I’m not sure about that rule, but you could look into it if you want to edit this short story.
“Ahead dashed her father, the tournament champion, and his rival.” Unless you are Yoda, the sentence should say “Her father dashed ahead”. Also, you are talking about Wildflower so it should say “her rival”.

-Characters (11/15 points):
Wildflower was well personified, which made her relatable to the reader. She was hated by parents and had a tough life growing up. As I said before, I would have liked to see a little more personality in her. I was reminded of Black Beauty, were the poor horse is neglected and mistreated throughout the whole book so that the reader pities him and wishes good fortune would shine on him.
And I guess the father was a supporting actor. You described him distinctly as being unsympathetic and despicable. The story was very biased against them, like a children’s picture book. I think the story would have had more depth if you gave us his side of the story. Perhaps his father had drilled this idea into his head. Or perhaps he only acted mean toward his daughter because as the leader he felt like all of society had its eyes on him and the peer pressure made him act against his own will. Something like that would make this story more interesting and layered.

-Settings (14/15 points):
You ever give the land a name, but it is clear that this story takes place in some secluded field where wild horses run. Your element of the mysterious fog that veiled the end of the world was a nice touch. Overall the setting was very simple, but that is what the story called for so it worked.

-Overall Appreciation (7/10 points):
This story was a fun look into a new world. I was never into pony stories so I’m not use to reading them, but I guess it’s nice for a visit once and awhile.

On a random note (because I don’t know which category to fit this) I want to add that one of your lines had me worried, “His mate had also failed him; it was her fault that none but Wildflower had lived, her fault that no future stallion had been born.” Was there spousal abuse going on? Is this some sort of non-child-friendly version of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, where the Donner beats his wife for having given birth to a defected child who will not be able to lead Santa’s sleigh? If we’re going with that analogy, then when Rodolph runs off to the island of Misfit Toys he never returns. Hmm…

BONUS POINTS
-Stuck with Theme, Kept to Word Count (3/3 points)
Wildflower was “Out of place” because she dared to be different

Final Result: 77/100 = 77 %

Closing advice: My advice is weaved throughout this rating. If you want to use this story again or just want to polish it, I suggest you work on those points. Thank you for entering a submission. I may be hard when I critique but view them as ways you can improve your writing so you can get better. That’s the wonderful beauty of peer editing. Or you can blow it off and say I don’t know what I’m talking about. That aside, I am glad you entered a short story into this competition. Many people, myself included, do not take that initiative. Good work.

eevee-shayna
14th October 2008, 02:38 AM
What a stark difference from reading about ponies to Berlin 1945. Amazing how people can come up with such diverse stories from the same theme. Here's my last judging. When DragoKnight finishes his last two then we can combine our scores and proclaim a winner. It has been a pleasure for me to have judged for this competition. ^_^

Clash of Generations by Mario72486
Word Count: 3899

Plot (19/20 points):
The plot was certainly entertaining and captivating, like a radio drama of the time. You kept the reader guessing by throwing in conflicts. You could have made these conflicts a little more built up to make the reader worry, but it interest of keeping to the word limit it worked fine. I also enjoyed how you added in some history to give the reader some perspective. Nice touch.

-Plot Originality (9/10 points):
War stories have been written many times, but I still feel like you created something original. You cleverly explained how the Me-262 was out of place, when it was first introduced, by telling an entertaining story. I also like how you put in several shocking moments, such as, “Evans sighed, trying his best to tune out the background noise and focus on the skies ahead of him. It was by this time that something came to him. “Hey, something’s not right here…””. Other nice shock moments were when they realize the planes have no propellers, and when Dupree isn’t dead. It’s a short story, but you still managed to make it jumpy.

-Writing Style (18/20 points):
In the sentence, “Hawk One reminded Evans of the ‘mean old boss’ archetype,” I like that you used “archetype” instead of “stereotype”. I also liked the wording of the line, “But these propeller-less planes weren’t magic - they were a quantum leap in technology.” And, “Everyone could hear the pilot’s screams before his radio cut out.” Was a great use of show don’t tell. Although, the line, ““Okay, since when have we lost our edge?” Evans asked, as the Mustangs finally reached the bombers.” seemed a little too calm to me. If the characters are more worried than the reader will be too, which adds to the suspense. Overall, I was highly impressed by the usage of technical information. It made the short story look professional and credible. One thing you could work on though is the dialogue, which seemed too sophisticated. They should speak a little rougher, with colorful swears and army slang.

-Spelling and Grammar (10/10 points):
Found no problems

-Characters (14/15 points):
Evans/Hawk 3 was our main character, but the others were just as well described. You took care to describe each Hawk’s background which made the reader care more about what happened to these people. The bit about Evans getting permission to paint his plane was a nice touch, as was the show of him being bored of routine. These characters seemed to fit this story and time area well, though I do think their manner of speaking was unrealistic and proper.

-Settings (15/15 points):
Your use of historical fiction set in Berlin in 1945 was very well told. It may not be a magical, creative land, but you stuck true to your story and made it very real.

-Overall Appreciation (9/10 points):
I was very impressed by this piece. It seemed like a story that could fit into O’Brian’s The Things They Carried (apart from being different wars). I don’t know anything about planes and guns, but it seemed to me that you have an in-depth knowledge of them that made this story look professional. It also looks like you’ve done a fair share of research to get this story to be realistic. I also commend you on writing a story that is short but still full of plot twists.

On a random note, I want to share that hearing the words “hawk” and “mustang” multiple times made me think of Hawk Eye and Cl. Mustang from FMA. It amused me.

BONUS POINTS
-Stuck with Theme, Kept to Word Count (3/3 points)
The 262s were Out of place because they were ahead of their time.
If I don’t count the history blurb you added on the end, then you are in the word limit. ..so lets say that is extra ^_^

Final Result: 97/100 = 97%

Lady Vulpix
15th October 2008, 09:06 AM
Wow, DragoKnight, I'm flattered!

And thanks for the grammar tip, those details are hard to learn when you don't hear them spoken regularly. If you find out more mistakes like that one in any of my writings, please let me know.

Lune the Guardian
17th October 2008, 10:38 AM
Thank you eevee-shayna, I agree with most of your criticisms and find them very helpful. I wrote this story a few years ago beginning from the last sentence: "She tasted freedom, and she ran." The sentence just randomly came to me while I was half asleep and I decided to write a story about it :P So sorry about the childish Disney-esque themes ^^; I revised the story before posting it, but I'm not so good at plot-based revisions until someone makes a comment about it.

You make an absolutely logical point about the herd not having a leader - I hadn't thought about that. At all. If I do revise this story in the future, I will definitely add in something, perhaps a description of attacks to the meadow in the past... or something.

I did a poor job of building Wildflower's character too, telling instead of showing. I should definitely have worked on that more. I did a poor job of fleshing out all the characters really... They seemed to only have one unchanging personality each. They had no depth.

As for the abuse, no, nothing nasty going on ^^ I'd meant for this story to be kinda innocent and child-safe so there are no dark goings-on of the sort.

The only criticism I disagree about is the part relating to the grammar. I know the grammar rules and break them on purpose, for various reasons. Heck, look at my posts, I comma splice everything just because that's the way I type informally. In my writing, I vary the sentence structure where I deem it fit, to either break the monotony of the same sentence structure, or to just suit the flow of the particular sentence. Although, if you were confused by the meaning of some of my sentences due to the structure, I should definitely look into fixing that.

Some explanations:

“Her mane, cream, spilled richly over her shoulders.”

I mean here that her mane (which is cream-colored) spills over her shoulders. Some possible variations of the sentence, such as "Her cream-colored mane spilled richly over her shoulders" just didn't seem to fit for me, flow-wise.

“It was only through pure coincidence one day that she overheard an old horse reciting the poem. I will fly swift as air, she thought. I will run so fast that I will overtake the sun’s rays. My mane will flow in the wind like water. Then they’ll see that I can be a leader too.”

I don't think the period should be a comma, because she is paraphrasing the poem rather than quoting it. The sentences are therefore separate and not linked.

“shrouded in mist, that had never been explored”

You're probably technically right on this one, I believe "which" follows a comma and "that" does not. I hadn't spotted that. Thanks. I still think "that" sounds better than "which" in this situation, wrong though it may be.

“Ahead dashed her father, the tournament champion, and his rival.”

Hmm. I was actually talking about the tournament champion's rival, but grammatically I can see how that sentence can cause confusion. I thought it was clear enough, though, my mistake :) As for the sentence structure, I think it's a perfectly legit one. :P "Her father, the tournament champion, and the tournament champion's rival dashed ahead" sounds so dull.

Thanks a lot for all the advice, really appreciate it. ^^

mario72486
17th October 2008, 07:33 PM
You could have made these conflicts a little more built up to make the reader worry, but it interest of keeping to the word limit it worked fine.

If it wasn't for the word limit, I most certainly would have built it up more. That's one of the issues of having to be confined within a short time period and an even shorter length of space.


...Although, the line, ““Okay, since when have we lost our edge?” Evans asked, as the Mustangs finally reached the bombers.” seemed a little too calm to me. If the characters are more worried than the reader will be too, which adds to the suspense...One thing you could work on though is the dialogue, which seemed too sophisticated. They should speak a little rougher, with colorful swears and army slang.......These characters seemed to fit this story and time area well, though I do think their manner of speaking was unrealistic and proper.

At first I thought adding more swearing would make the speech a bit more realistic for the time, I felt that no one would want to read dialogue in which every other sentence included one or more curse words. I'll see what I can do about making the characters sound a little 'rougher,' though.


On a random note, I want to share that hearing the words “hawk” and “mustang” multiple times made me think of Hawk Eye and Cl. Mustang from FMA. It amused me.

Haven't seen much of FMA, but at least I got the reference.


If I don’t count the history blurb you added on the end, then you are in the word limit. ..so lets say that is extra ^_^

In the beginning I was going to leave the blurb out, but then I figured it'd be a nice way of putting readers at ease. It's entirely possible that Germany could have fought its way back had it put the Me-262 into production much sooner. Imagine what would have happened if Allied pilots came across it two years earlier...

But that's besides the point. All in all, I'm flattered to know how much you enjoyed my piece. I fully intend to go back and make the necessary additions and adjustments to make it even better. But for now, we wait and see what the end results of this little contest are...

eevee-shayna
18th October 2008, 10:40 AM
Thanks all of you for critiquing my peer reviews. Editing someone else's work is a skill that I enjoy getting more practice with and your speedy responses helped me get better at it. ^_^

Drago
21st October 2008, 05:19 AM
Review #2 is out! Shouldn't be too long before I have the last one out, I find that I need to disassociate myself with the prior fics in order to give each one fair judgement.

Wildflower by Lune the Guardian
Plot ~ 17/20
The plot certainly progressed at a comfortable pace for me; it developed at a steady rate so that I could assume at times where it was going, while still remaining fresh. No point dragged on for too long, or felt out of place (no pun intended). Of particular strength was the cold, shallow society in which Wildflower lived, and how despite this, until the very last moment, she felt as though she could find her place. We hoped alongside her, but knew in our hearts that it was never to be. The final moments of her rejecting a society that had always rejected her felt particularly poignant. I had almost hoped that she would plunge to her death at one stage, but I guess I’m just a sucker for sad endings. For that matter, perhaps expanding on the isolation Wildflower felt would help us feel stronger about her plight. She certainly wasn’t a happy horse, but she could have possessed more of a tragic element to her.

Plot Originality ~ 5/10
Outsider figures rejected from their kind feels like a very familiar concept. I don’t feel like this detracted a great deal from the piece itself, and it feels wrong to detract points for that matter, but so the criteria demands. Personally, I feel as though originality is overrated. The way in which the ending was handled was appropriate, as aforementioned.

Writing Style ~ 17/20
This story certainly possesses a whimsical feel; it is excellently descriptive, painting a vivid portrait of the world of Wildflower. We are given a little insight into the mindsets of her parents and others, but we feel no association with them; call it a weakness if you wish, but I personally felt as though this helped us build an association with Wildflower, the only amiable character – we too felt ‘out of place’. The choice of words in the narration felt mostly appropriate, but I wasn’t fond of the first paragraph’s use of the term ‘you see’; using such a personal phrase created a sort of identity to the narrator that I didn’t feel necessary.

Spelling and Grammar ~ 8/10
Again, a clean piece, with nothing glaringly obvious. The main thing I noted was the sentence in which you state ‘Wildflower would gallop until her muscles screamed for her to stop, but she’d keep on going’ – the statement that she would run until this time, yet continue on, is contradictory.
I was especially fond of some of the descriptive words you chose to use, such as opalescence and vanguard. It made it feel richer.

Characters ~ 12/15
Wildflower possessed a good character basis; steadfast and determined, and her joyless demeanour was appropriate to a character in her situation, not fitting into the society of stallion nor filly, a practically asexual outcast. I’m unsure of the way she feels towards her father; her satisfaction at his defeat suggests a level of resentment that isn’t really felt prior to that moment.
My favourite characters were likely the young rival horses. There was a definite intensity to them, amplified by the fact that they never spoke a word. And to this end, I wasn’t particularly fond of the occasional segments of dialogue. It was sparse, and to this degree made interaction between the horses feel underdeveloped. I think it would be interesting to actually remove all spoken dialogue, reducing all communication to the level of expression and gesture. The triumphant snort of the battle’s victor, her father’s reaction to being overtaken, etc. These muted moments felt quite appropriate, not only on the level of them being horses, but also in a society where everyone is so at ends with one another; nobody liked anyone to a great deal, so why should they relate through dialogue?

Settings ~ 10/15
Though it was a multifaceted life Wildflower lived, the physical world she roamed in went largely unexplored; the paths, the forest… they felt more like scenes than locations to me. The highlight was obviously the ‘end of the world’ over the river; it possessed a power to it, that made one think of it as a genuine location rather than a setting.

Overall Appreciation ~ 6/10
It was a light, dreamy piece, and the style and content certainly felt in sync. There is definitely some work to be done, but as a tale about discovering one’s self worth, it certainly does its job. I think that it could be a little more confronting on an emotional level (no, don’t kill her as I had pondered, but perhaps emphasise her dismay). There isn’t a whole lot to outright change, but I feel as though it can be expanded a great deal.
Final Result: 75/100 = 75%

Lune the Guardian
21st October 2008, 01:49 PM
Thank you DragoKnight! ^^ You make an interesting point about the dialogue, eevee-shayna mentioned that it seemed like there wasn't enough. I'm thinking that you are both right. The fact that I put in so little dialogue makes those points stick out, calling for more dialogue - or the other solution, to remove dialogue altogether. If I ever go back to revise this story, I'll take a look at doing that. Removing the dialogue would remove awkward points in the story where the dialogue is sparsely distributed.

I'll also work on accentuating the characters and the reader's relations to them, thanks. The setting also needs fleshing out, most of the places feel more like pictures in the background rather than real places.

Thank you again!

Drago
29th October 2008, 06:57 AM
Clash of Generations by mario72486
Plot ~ 15/20
When it comes down to it, the plot is essentially about a fleet of Allied aircraft under assault from German jetplanes. And though it was certainly written in an exciting way that captures one's attention, there really isn't a whole lot to it. In the end, our protagonists have gained a grim reminder of their mortality along with an assurance to be better prepared in future. There isn't really a point of impact at fic's end, something that I feel is very important in a short story.
Additionally, there were some points of interest that never really led anywhere; the German pilots becoming cocky and careless, for one. It felt there should have been a better reason for it than them simply possessing superior aircraft. I realise a grander reason would come at the sacrifice of historical accuracy, but it ought to be considered. Or, at very least, the point needs to be hammered home that Evans and his wingmen succeeded because of heart and grit; that they would win because they gave their damndest is a nicer concept than the Germans getting cocky.
By and large things tied together well; you didn't burden us with technical information yet we didn't find ourselves lost for a lack of understanding.
At first, I wasn't fond of Logan's sudden unceremonious death, feeling greater impact would be made if this occured towards the end, but I find myself disagreeing with this notion now. Logan dying so early let us know that no punches would be pulled in this fic; any character could die at any time (other than Evans, unless it was to be at the end), so when Smith was pursued under heavy fire, I gained a growing feeling that he was going down. If Logan's purpose was simply to bring us back to reality, just like it did for Evans, then this was executed perfectly.

The only other thing I find myself asking though, is the historical accuracy of the German jets approaching to directly intercept the Allied forces. Wouldn't Dicta Boelcke suggest they'd attack from the rear, or veiled from above? I'm no WWII historian, so I could be completely wrong, and the superior technology may very well have rendered this concept obsolete, in which case I withdraw this statement.

Plot Originality ~ 7/10
It wasn't your usual kind of short story, centralising around a single event as opposed to several, and with a basis of a non-fictional situation. Though a WWII story with an aerial ambush isn't so much an original idea in itself, using it as the plot to a short story certainly is a change from the norm.

Writing Style ~ 17/20
I think the matter-of-fact writing style is very appropriate. You gave us the information we need for the scenario to play out in our head, and we're kept on-track with the specific info for accuracy, without being laden with too much jargon. Extra little bits of information help make the story feel more like some sort of official document, such as whether the German pilots bailed out. Does it make a difference whether they did or not? Probably not, but it was a neat aside that made the story feel comprehensive. Put short, the style was, as many aspects of this story were, appropriate.

Spelling and Grammar ~ 10/10
The first time you use the term 'milk runs', I believe the closing quotation mark should occur before the period as opposed to after it. Not worth marking down.
When Dupree shouts that one of the Mustangs has a bogey following him, you use the phrase 'tail' twice in quick succession. Though not grammatically incorrect, it doesn't read well. Perhaps an alternative word, like 'six', would be better in its second use.

Characters ~ 12/15
Simple yet effective. Though they could be considered archetypical, they all clicked well in this fic's context. We had our heroes, and we weren't burdened with heavy observation of the lesser pilots. Because of course, as this is predominantly following Evans, we should feel just like him, and care far more for Dupree and Smith than the others, while the German pilots remained just as they should; practically faceless bogies.

The only thing I probably would have wanted from the characters is possibly more of a glance into Dupree, an interesting character who I feel draws parallels to Combeferre of Les Miserables. I feel as though he disappered just a bit too early.

Settings ~ 11/15
Hard to judge. Our setting is the sky. What of the world below? On the one hand, we are already aware of it as it exists in the non-fictional realm. On the other hand, little is given. Northwest Berlin is merely a place; there is a countryside that we're told about, but that's about it. In the case of this fic, I feel leniency is best in this regard; you don't paint a very vivid physical description of the world, but these are fighter pilots, not sightseers. Additionally, if you think of the hundred aircraft dotting the sky as part of the setting, as it is a very visual concept, then it paints a very vivid picture.

Overall Appreciation ~ 6/10
It was most definitely a good read, but as aforementioned, it left no lasting impact resonating within me.
One particular weakness I felt it possessed was a weak connection to the contest's theme. I wasn't really buying into it. Whetehr Evans was out of place because he was at a disadvantage, or the 262s were out of place for being so technologically advanced, if your direct references to them being out of place were removed, the theme could have been missed entirely.
As I've often felt, this is the kind of story that would benefit from full fic expansion; develop the heroes, develop the lives they live in this war, and in this way we're truly brought to a shocking revelation when the 262s are unveiled.
Final Result: 78/100 = 78%

mr_pikachu
29th October 2008, 06:04 PM
RESULTS TIME!

Here are your judges' scores....


Out of place, Lady Vulpix: (88% + 81%)/2 = 84.5%
Wildflower, Lune the Guardian: (77% + 75%)/2 = 76%
Clash of Generations, mario72486: (97% + 78%)/2 = 87.5%


Therefore, the winner of the September 2008 Writing Contest is mario72486 with his historical drama, Clash of Generations!

Congratulations, mario. You've earned it!

I'd like to thank everyone who participated in the contest this time around, as well as Shayna and Tony for their fine judging efforts. Stay tuned for the next Fanfic Writing Contest!

Lady Vulpix
30th October 2008, 09:20 AM
Congratulations, Mario!

And Karin, I enjoyed reading your story. And it was a lot more self-contained than mine was.

Now, to fulfill my promise (even if it's only the unabridged version of my entry for now).

mario72486
30th October 2008, 10:57 AM
Well, certainly wasn't expecting this. While knowing that I won is nice, I still feel I could have done much better in writing my entry. I started on the revamp last night, and already it's starting to look lovely.

DragoKnight, I highly appreciate the constructive criticism you gave in your review. I'm taking the advice you gave to heart, and believe me, there will be more development of the characters than before.

I can't recall whether the tactics used by the Me-262 were the norm right away, or evolved as a result of trial and error. I'll be sure to do some extra research to see if I can find out. What I do know is that the Swallow, as it was dubbed, was perceived by Hitler as a high-speed bomber, not a fighter/interceptor. It was some time later that he allowed the 262 to serve as a fighter.

As for the short story not appearing to fit the theme, eevee-shayna pretty much hit the nail on the head when she gave her evaluation. The 262 truly was ahead of its time, making it out of place of the norm: prop-driven aircraft. Though I did make it so the main character felt out of place, also, having to face a new aircraft he had never even seen or heard of before.

Not sure when the revamped version will be done, but I can guarantee that it'll be bigger and better than originally intended...