I hope people will want to participate in the challenge on its own merits, but as an added incentive, I'll award 5 points to anyone who completes all five prompts in a given week. (Must duel me to receive points). You can go back and do prompts that you missed until I tally them shortly after midnight on Sunday night.
To keep the clutter to a minimum I'll be posting new threads weekly, with each day's post made to the current thread. Week four starts now!
I'm scared of the dark.
No, not in the childish way. I'm not afraid of monsters hiding in the shadows or claws that reach out from where you can't see.
I'm scared of the places where there is no light.
My people, the clan of Lux, need light to survive. Without light, our skin turns pale and flaky, and we become walking corpses. Lisha Bela is what we call those unfortunate beings: destroyed by darkness.
They have no souls. They wander around without intent, and leave wakes of death and darkness everywhere they step.
I've never met one, but I've heard stories.
Now I'm faced with the very real danger of becoming one. I can feel the light seeping away, draining my life force. Cursing, I desperately try to loosen my foot from the ensnarement keeping me from using it to run away, back into the light.
I was led into this cursed alleyway by people who claimed to be in dire need of help. They lured me here and cast chains around my ankles. I managed to free one ankle, but the other simply will not come loose. Horrified, I lay helpless as the darkness consumes me.
I wait for my soul to fade, for my life to be ripped from me. It does not come.
Instead, I find myself feeling rejuvenated, filled with new strength and vitality. I jerk my foot and the chain that seemed impossibly stiff only moments ago cracks as though it's made of mere glass.
They didn't tell me that becoming undead would feel this amazing.
Our world is broken, and no one is left to pick up the pieces.
The war to end all wars turned rivers to dust and forests to ash. The grand cities we built are now filled only with the echoes of our forgotten dreams. Each planet we had tread, now left as a memorial of bone and glass.
Steel skeletons loom ever silent as eternal monuments to our sins. The avarice, the apathy, and the ignorance all but guaranteed our oblivion. We gnawed and tore away at our only mother with reckless abandon; she gave us all she had, and we took all we could.
The fate of humanity was condemned to toil, bleed, and weep, all while burning as brightly into the night as we could. However, in the end, destiny would have us snuff ourselves out as if we were a candle at the end of our wick. We yearned to reach into the galaxy, to colonize, discover, and multiply. Alas, we were but only a child that had grown tired of our favorite toy.
No different than a malignant cancer, we spread and consumed all in our path, leaving only barren husks in our wake. For all the so-called good we achieved, it was only ever for our gain. So blinded by our immense arrogance, by our own majesty, did we forsake the mantle of responsibility as intelligent creatures to keep in harmony with the cosmos.
Our gravest failure was the legions upon legions of those under our care, forced straight into damnation with us. For every step we took, countless souls were crushed beneath our heels, and we were deaf to their cries. The weight of innumerable evils sat upon our shoulders, yet we were numb to the burden.
We, humanity, remain bare before any and all who deign to gaze upon us. We seek no forgiveness, for we can no longer receive retribution. Our story is one of good intentions and one of timeless scars.
So, here on this cracked tomb that was once called our home, we built this enduring monolith in our final days; so that any who come to visit our grave can see what we wrought. Know that this was our fate, that we attained heights beyond comprehension, unraveling the secrets of the stars. Until finally, we fell from the heavens and into the abyss.
The universe called to us, and we answered. It promised us power and freedom tied to a greater hunger than we could ever hope to satisfy; indeed, it delivered. If only we had realized that what we needed was actually salvation.
This is our testament.
This is not an invitation.
This is a warning.
"Death," Words-Like-Flowers tried to keep its tone as neutral as possible. It wouldn't do to appear spooked -- even if it was spooked. Maybe especially if it was spooked.
"A curse upon any who dare enter," said Synchronicity-of-Many-Feet. "That sounds promising. There's something here they wanted to protect."
"They seem to have expected that interpretation, and specifically emphasize that anyone who enters will take nothing away, only... death."
Synchronicity scoffed. "Exactly what I'd expect. Any species sophisticated enough to build structures like this is sophisticated enough to lie about their contents."
Synchronicity waved its upper cilia in an expression of arch skepticism. "Just what?"
"They seem... very earnest," it said finally. Thinking of the skulls. The decomposition sequence that established what the skull actually was. Like an internal carapace, it supposed. A pity it would never get the chance to see one alive... but Sychronicity's expression was evolving into displeasure "I think, at minimum, that they believed that entering this site was certain death."
"And you agree? Even with our superior technology?"
"Superior in some respects, certainly. But we don't know what we don't know. And there's lower-hanging fruit. We could be sequencing DNA. Drilling for petrochemicals -- well, the ones they didn't already use up. This planet has more to offer than a few mysterious sites with ominous glyphs that are trying to warn us off."
"So you admit that's what they're doing. Trying to scare us off."
"Warn us off. I think they're trying to warn everyone off, because there's actually something deadly here!"
"Fireballs-Blooming, plant your explosives."
Words-Like-Flowers bite back further protests. Synchronicity was their leader. Right or wrong, this was its call.
Instead, it subvocalized a prayer it had learned on a distant planet:
May the gods protect those too foolish to protect themselves.
I dunno if it was intentional, but I think this works kinda well with mine.
It also makes me think of an event I'd get playing Stellaris about some gelatinous/molluscoid aliens; pretty neat.
"BZZ. WARNING. FIRE. WARNING. EVACUATE IMMEDIATELY."
"Shit." Captain Allen slammed his palm against the machine in front of him. "Work, dammit. The fire's spreading."
His fingers frantically tried to finish the code. If he could get it done in time, the new anti-fire measures would start up, and the ship would be saved. They'd been faulty as of late, but it'd never been considered a high priority before. Captain Allen regretted that now.
If only an engineer or technician was up here; they might have better chances of figuring this damn thing out. Not a captain. He wasn't trained for this.
"BZZ. FIRE. WARNING. EVACUATE IMMEDIATELY."
"To where? Fucking space?" There was no escape. They would either all die here in this burning ship, or he'd manage to save it. The escape pods were already too damaged to consider using. If only he could have some help... but everyone was cowered in the Deck Two living quarters, trapped. He was all alone.
All alone. That's how I'll die if I don't get out of this. Focus.
"BZZ. WARNING. EVACUATE IMMEDIATELY."
Captain Allen sighed. Focus.