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Thunderdome 2: Kill Darius

one year ago
As we enter our second episode of THE THUNDERDOME, one has to wonder what this unassuming Dutchman did, besides being endlessly, relentlessly gay? (Potentially also some kind of furry.) Whatever the case, it certainly seems that folks have it out for him. This challenge thread from Fresh speaks volumes, and in other places they're popping popcorn and sharpening their knives. Will our intrepid lil dike boy survive? This week, Darius "I'm not gay, I just read and write lots of gay things ironically and because I think it's funny" Conwright faces his challenger, and we will find out.

Thunderdome 2: Kill Darius

one year ago
Story A "Land ho! Land ho!" The cry from the foretop shook me from my reverie. It would mean the first landmass in a three-thousand-mile radius. The HMS Valiant would have reached the destination of her two-year voyage: a tiny island beyond even Tahiti, shrouded in mysticism, never truly found— a treasure hidden in the deep solitude of the Pacific. My ship was a 5th rate frigate of the Royal Navy. She was sent from Portsmouth to procure an extraordinary species of breadtree for the West Indies. Her three masts stood proudly reefed, and her sleek hull made her the fastest ship on this side of the Earth. Her complement counted a hundred and three. Most were simple deckhands. Ugly thieves and dishonest drunks pressed into service. I did not like most of them. "Make way. Make way!" An alternating rhythm of silent and thudding steps accompanied the captain of the vessel as he made his way to the front of the ship. Captain Baxtere reached the railing, planted his one good foot on the ledge, and brought up his spyglass. Others looked on just as keenly as I did, craning their heads from the Captain to the thick mist and back again, failing to glean any hint of conclusion from either. A long pause followed. The ship began to whisper among each other in excitement. Even I could barely contain the flutter in my chest that spread eagerness throughout my body. "Scrooge," I mouthed as silently as I could. "Get Gangly and Mister Left. We're here! We've finally done it! Spread the word, man. They'll definitely want to see this!" Scrooge was a fat sailor in his thirties that had become one of my friends over the voyage. He'd earned the name over his many gambling sessions belowdecks. Some considered him the most patient player of the seven seas; I knew he simply felt any loss much harder than he'd enjoy the winnings he'd accrued. He barely got down two steps when the Captain became a burst of energy. "Starboard watch, shorten 'n cable, lads! We be here! Don't slack on yer last watch, yer full-pocketed curs, afore I get ye the cat o' nine tails." The crew sprang into motion even before the sharp whistle jostled everybody awake. Pulleys were tightened thick knots were undone in one fluid movement. "Stand by t' go aloft!" the Captain continued, his wooden leg leading a tempo much like the Arab drums on a slave galley. "Both watches hoist! Hoist away, yer landlubbers! Way aloft! Winds ashore! Keep hold o' her! Scallywag, I needs the depth afore we all sink t' death!" Mr. Left and Gangly climbed up the stairs as the ship started to gain speed. Both had ashen white faces and eyes as big as a child's. "Ahoy on the deck, surgeon," a midshipman laughed. "Who knew it took a mystical island to finally pull ye from yer cabin." Mr. Left simply shook his hook at him. No one knew how he'd lost his hand, and the man never recounted the same story twice. All we knew was that with just one hand and drunk to high heavens, he could cut like no other in the Navy. Some whispered he'd even be the one that performed the amputation of the Captain's leg, earning his everlasting respect. So we coasted through the thick banks of mist. Nobody knew where we were sailing, but everybody believed in the Captain. And as the sun momentarily disappeared and the depth called out to just 8 feet, the destination came into view. I heard more than one involuntary gasp. The island was beautiful. Tall cliffs reached into the mist as far as the eye could see. Some were embellished with spindly lianas that crossed over each other in an eye-dazzling network that housed over a thousand birds of every shape and colour known to man. Others were caved and cut by waterfalls that fell from such a grand height that the water didn't even make a splash. "Where are we making landfall?" Gangly asked sceptically. "All I see is rock." "They're as high as our masts laid on top of each other," Mr. Left mused. "Perhaps even higher." "Definitely much higher." "There! Under that waterfall and a bit to the left. Do you see where the cliffs retract and the stream of water splits into two? There's a cove." I yelled loudly now. "Captain, there's a cove over there!" "Good eyes, whelp. Ye'll be joinin' us on the first boat ashore." -------------- "Line up, down oars, pull!" Three boats left the Valiant; one led by the Captain himself, the other two by his lieutenants. "Pull!" Captain Baxtere's foot thudded in emphasis. From up close, I could barely see the cliff's tops, even fully craning back my neck at the end of each row. The island inspired a sense of awe, that it was simply not of this world. It seemed a lot bigger than Tahiti as well. "Pull!" The water was as blue as the morning sky. I could see the cliffs and colourful corrals that made up the bottom. Some fish danced around, others fought and spattered, and others still flashed away. I didn't recognize any of the species. "Pull!" Scrooge pulled in front of me, and I knew Gangly was on the other boat. Mr. Left had opted to stay behind. "To guard the rum," he'd winked conspiratorily. We'd promised to bring Mr. Left back a bag of beetles. "Pull!" One of the deckhands behind me started singing. A most terrible voice. "Row the boat, row-" "Shut yer mouth, yer scrappy clod!" the Captain immediately replied. "Thar may be natives around." We approached the waterfall in silence, ushered in and hugged tightly by a damp mist. And, through the water where there should be rock, we all saw brilliant rays of sunlight. "It seems yer eyes haven't deceived us, lad. Pull!" We now entered a tunnel with a roof comprising a million leaves. The sounds of the jungle: the song of birds, the wall of crickets, and the call of monkeys, all could clearly be heard. Tiny squirrels flew through the air to meet us. "Pull!" On the far side stood a golden sandy beach. Perfect for a beachhead. "It's goin' too smoothly. I don't trust a bit o' it," Scrooge muttered. "Don't fret, Scrooge," I replied under my breath. "We've got marines and the Captain to worry about that." "There!" he yelled. "Wha's the matter?" "I saw eyes over there, Captain!" "I see enough o' yer bloody eyes in the boat as well. Doesn't mean I be yellin' the entire island awake. Now pull!" -------------- We'd made landfall. Pulled the boats high and ascended into the jungle. Whereas on the other islands, there'd be natives to either greet us with song and joy or with spears and hatchets, this land seemed utterly deserted, aside from an ever-creeping feeling of being watched. Scrooge wasn't the only one to spot something, and over the course of the trek, I noticed an increasing amount of shouts and hushes among our company. We were all getting restless. The only thing that kept us from retreating to the safety of the ship was the Captain's sheer force of will. "We be nigh-on thar, reach the top o' these thrice black spotted cliffs 'n make camp," he said to no one in particular. Yet the words instilled in me another wave of energy. I jogged up the line to meet with Gangly, a whore's son, beggared until Mr. Left took him in as his second assistant. Even I had to admit he showed great aptitude for the work, though his nonplussed attitude kept him from becoming more any time soon. "Gangly, Gangly, wait up a minute!" I shouted. "What do you need, Thomas?" "We're making camp in an hour. Want to move ahead?" "Maybe in an hour." In spite of his stature, he could be the biggest lard in the Navy sometimes. "Hey, shouldn't you be picking up beetles anyway?" "You got the bottle. You do it. Come on, we'll be taking the best spots." "And what do you know about good camping spots?" "That's why I'm taking you!" I replied, pulling him along and allowing no further comment. While I thought we were following a game's trail, I quickly found out the hands at the front were forced to use sabres to cut a way across the thick underbrush. The plants were at once hardy and thorny, as if determined to disallow any further passage to our goal. Of Cook's famous breadtrees, there was no sight. -------------- I awoke to the cold of Mr. Left's sharp hook on my cheek. My head hurt, and it felt as if I could see only light reflecting off blurred shapes. The air was musty, with an unmistakable trace of iron and rot in it. "Wha... happen'd?" I heard myself slur. "Easy there, lad," my mentor replied. "You've got your head nearly split in two back there. It was Gangly here who refused to leave you behind. Carried you back all the way from that hellish crag." "Couldn't leave you there," he simply whispered. I blinked twice to clear my vision. Gangly looked bad. Bloodshot eyes and a single pulsating pustule rose from his throat. If he noticed it, he didn't show it. "They came in the night," he rasped. "Just as we put out our last fire, the first of us noticed a sharp sting on their throats. Blowpipes. Must've been poison too. Then it was like they came from everywhere, the trees, the bushes, the very ground itself. They were painted red all over and completely crushed our first watch. It was Lieutenant Dravesmouth and the Captain who bought enough time for concentrated fire. And, as soon as the first muskets discharged, they disappeared, almost like ghosts." "We lost a dozen men, lad. Another thirty have been clapped in irons for mutiny. You're the first of five to awake, nevermind that none came back unscathed." When I tried to sit up, I realised I couldn't feel anything below my neck. If either of them noticed it, they didn't show it. "We had to retreat to the boats. We just had too many wounded. They came after us, they did. Harried us all the way back. Sorry if I dropped you a bunch of times; I needed both my arms," Gangly continued, making a gesture that showcased his arms. They were badly bruised and cut, both radial and ulnar bones piercing skin at multiple places. The bones were blackened, surrounding flesh blistered and pulsing subdermally. "We eventually realised they came from and disappeared into shadows. Captain Baxtere lit the entire jungle on fire, he did. The fire burnt for five days. The following storm chased us for another week. It cracked the ship, but we made it through, Thomas. We're on our way home again! We can finally leave this unnatural place." "Unnatural," Mr. Left affirmed. "You've been unconscious for two weeks, lad. There were many times I thought we lost you." I tried to regain feeling, raise my arms. Even swallowing did not work. If they noticed it, they didn't show it. "Listen, lad, I don't know how to tell you this properly, but the blowpipes, the poison. It's not like anything we've seen. It numbs the pain, rots your body until nothing remains. One moment you're there; the other, you're gone. Disappeared into the shadows. I can't help you, lad. We're all affected." Mr. Left came into view. From the gentle yet round face, only a husk is left. Two depthless skeletal orbs stare at me. He's a deep red from the neck down, as if made from a miasma of blood only partly obscured by his blouse. Only a tiny rotting part of the arm remained to fix his trusty hook that he now sunk under the base of my skull. "Don't worry, you won't feel a thing, lad."

Thunderdome 2: Kill Darius

one year ago
Story B: Endure and survive The wheezes of horses and the sound of their hooves trampling over the dying grass echoed through the leafless forest. Under the light of the waning autumn moon, Fergus polished his blade in the far corner of the merchant wagon. He, as a hunter of the beasts of the night, had sworn to never take his eyes off his saber and keep it sharp and fed with blood. However, his line of sight kept straying off to meet his little brother' sweat-drenched brow. Even a road full of potholes and bumpy hills couldn't disturb his slumber. Fergus sighed, rubbed at the scratch on his wrist, put his blade away, and tucked this headache-inducing brat into his arms. He closed his eyes and bathed in the familiar scent. It smelt like the sun. "I told you to hide in the damn corner when I'm hunting, but you had to be a twat 'bout it again and again." They were lucky that they encountered a young merchant who was brave or foolish enough to haul his cargo of steel ingots alone and unprotected to the capital in the midst of the night. If the two of them had walked, they wouldn't have gone very far without having to fight their way out of the forest till dawn. At first, the merchant had raised his brow as his eyes were trained on his baby brother who had clung to Fergus' side while blood dripped from the wound on his arm for all to see. Fergus had sniffed at the time. "Fell and got fucked up by some rocks, small accident." The merchant lightly tapped on the gun holster slung around his waist. "I smell it. The blood of children will make the beasts go wild. Their collapsed pupils will never lose their prey once they catch a whiff of that twat." Fergus' eyes narrowed. Slowly cocking his head, he drew out his saber. The finely carved emblem on its guard shone under the pale moonlight. After freezing for a brief moment, the man nodded at the wagon. "Please excuse me for such rude remarks about that child. Is he your little brother? You two do look alike after all. You're with the old order, huh?" He points to his nose, flashing a toothy smile. "This saved my hide more than a couple of times. I can pick up the scent of beasts from miles away before they'll ever reach me. Let's cut ourselves a fine deal. I'll be the spotter and if you keep your eyes on that blade of yours, then perhaps we all might survive the night." The screech of horses and the sudden stop of the wagon might have roused his attention, but only the light whimper of his brother brought Fergus back to the present. He placed his hand on his brother's forehead. Feverish skin, the temperature had risen. Quickly he shook off his long coat and draped it over him as a way to shield the trembling kid from the cold and the beasts that may lurk in the dark. Steeling himself for what's to come, Fergus took his saber and ventured outside the wagon. There he found himself standing in front of a raging river roaring with life and a collapsed bridge lathered with rot. The passage to the city along with the safety the walls will provide slipped out of his grasp. Fergus's free hand curled into a fist. This was only a slight hindrance. His brother will make it. He had his blood after all. "Oh my, I thought the old woodwork would at least last till winter. It's bad timing indeed, especially since there are beasts nearby." Fergus whipped his head around to meet the owner of the voice. The merchant stood just a few feet away from him with an unrelenting smile carved on his lips. The man drew out his gun with its barrel pointed at Fergus. "To think I was naïve enough to trust a wary traveler's word. I should have never halted the wagon and should have left the two of you to rot away in this wretched forest." The merchant cocked his head. "I can smell it, the scent of the ones tainted with the blood of beasts. The odor grows stronger with every subsequent hour. A beast of the night will be born and has to be slain soon, my dear hunter." Fergus' eyes kept flitting to the wagon as he gnashed his teeth. If that dimwit of a merchant doesn't lower his firearm, his stupidity will be the death to them all. His hand gripped tighter onto his saber. "No one's infected, none will turn. You have my word." "Belief cannot protect a person nor save a life. My nose and eyes have never dared to betray me whenever they brought me the beasts' scent and the sight of a collapsed pupil. Dear hunter, may I ask you, was that 'small accident' you spoke of more than a simple fall on rocky terrain?" As soon as the merchant finished his sentence, Fergus lunged at him. His ears rang as the bullet launched itself out of the barrel to graze his cheek. The smoke of used gunpowder pricked his eyes. Nevertheless, he persevered and knocked the gun out of the Merchant’s hand. Fergus then buried his saber deep into the man's chest till he couldn't even see the glint of his blade anymore. The widened eyes akin to a dying deer and even his silent pleas didn't deter Fergus from plunging his weapon into the man's flesh again and again. Blood, the scent of rusted iron, was all that Fergus craved. The beating of his heart grew louder. Smells, images, and sounds blurred together into a blazing red. "B-Brother, it's enough, please." The blade slipped from his hand and fell on the ground with a soft thump. Fergus stood up, his heart still racing, and turned to meet his baby brother's tear-filled eyes. Stumbling through the dark, he closed the distance. His two hands cradled his brother's cheeks. He was warm, alive. "I told you to stay put. That merchant, he was nuts, tried to kill you." His brother lifted his arm. Fergus shivered as he felt sharp claws burying deep into his shoulder and a bristle of matted fur against his neck. His heart clenched as he saw his brother's wry smile. The black of his pupil spilled out of its border and crept into the warm brown of his iris. "Does that matter? We're both infected, right?" Fergus shook his head, but his brother was left undeterred. "Just admit it, we don't have much time left. You have less than a day, I less than-" "Don't fucking say that. Remember, we'll endure and survive." His trembling voice interlaced with his confident words filled with hope. For the first time since the beasts of the night had taken their parents away from them, Fergus cried. He felt his brother peel away his hands. Then he heard his brother's sweet voice, still unbroken and innocent despite the years of hardship, his guiding light. It remained steady and calm while it painted the haunting request not of a young boy in the prime of his life, but of a weathered hunter destined for death. "I'm sorry, so sorry. I should have listened and now we're in this mess because of me." His brother paused. "Brother, this is the last thing I ask of you. Grab that saber of yours and please don't let me turn into them. F-finish this." Fergus blinked away his tears. If those words came from any other hunter of the beasts of the night, he would have gladly fulfilled their final wish. His brother should be no exception to this rule. He picked up the saber he previously had discarded and tore his eyes away from the clotted blood staining its tip. He lifted his blade to meet his brother's smile. His dear brother’s eyes shone like the sun and blazed through the cover of the starless night sky. Just as darkness couldn't exist without light, Fergus’s existence would be rendered futile without his sun. Instead of plunging his blade through his brother's heart, he pulled his brother into a crushing hug. Fergus heard his brother gasp and subsequently felt the sharp pain of claws digging through his back. He tightened his grip and buried his nose into his hair to smell the sun once more. "It doesn't matter to me what we'll become. The two of us might as well fuck over the entire world and turn it into shit for all I care. As long as we'll get to stay together, it'll be okay, even if there's no heaven left for me anymore." He pushed them both down to the ground. After preparing his heart for what was to come, he sank his blade into his brother's shoulder to hopefully forever pin him to the earth and to him. The haunting wail of his brother ensued. "Brother, how could you?" Fergus's lips brushed against his sun-kissed skin. His chest grew warm with fondness as his brother's frantic struggle died down leaving only the sobs of a pained child. His little brother was always so cute whenever he asked with tearful eyes to be held after a particularly frightening nightmare. Fergus gently carded through his hair. The scratch on his wrist ached as the wound festered, but that didn't matter as long as his brother was safe in his arms. "Hush, I know it hurts. Yes, you can bitch about it but know that it's all just a bad dream. We'll make it to the city and I get some doctors to patch you right up. You're strong, you're my blood. For the sake of our mum, our dad, and ourselves, we'll endure and survive." He tightened his grip and pulled his brother so close to him that their breaths mingled together. While hushing sweet nothings to him for what seemed like all eternity, Fergus’s eyes grew heavy as he fell into a dreamless slumber. Fergus woke up on the cold hard ground with his saber in his arms. Rays of light cascaded down the forest as dawn finally broke. All beasts would have scurried into the shadows by now as the cover of the night sky had fully been broken. He slowly pulled himself up and rubbed his eyes to see the environment unfold in front of him. The full vibrant colors of the wagon and the horses were easily seen in the broad daylight. The harshness of the night had barely made a scratch to them. As for the merchant, the only thing that remained of him was a few splatters of blood on the ground and Fergus’s blade. The body was nowhere to be found. He called out for his baby brother. At first, it was barely a whisper, but it quickly transformed into a thunderous cry. However, no matter how long or how loud he pleaded for his brother to return to his arms, he never came back to him. When he had lost the strength to speak anymore, he sank to his knees. The warm rays of the sun felt cold to his skin as the only sun that truly mattered had slipped from his hands. Fergus trembled as he brought his wrist in the line of his sight. Although a foul stench of beasts wafted off the wound, the fever still hadn't come to take him to the darkest depths. He closed his eyes. He had to wait a little while longer. Soon enough he and his brother will reunite. He will patiently wait for the day when his body finally would succumb to the disease and he would turn into the foulest of beasts. However, that day never came.

Thunderdome 2: Kill Darius

one year ago
Comments and votes reply to this post.

Thunderdome 2: Kill Darius

one year ago

Thunderdome 2: Kill Darius

one year ago


Thunderdome 2: Kill Darius

one year ago
Commended by mizal on 4/29/2023 6:24:43 PM
Reading time, baby! I'll write these as I finish a story, so I could convey my first impressions best.

Frankly, I found story A charming. With its well painted characters and stunning description, it felt very real and vivid. Not to mention the good ol' pirate talk, arr. Big pluses there. I like the well placed dialogue and thoughtful verb choice that made the whole reading go smoothly.

Plot itself was straightforward enough, and the later descriptions were less than comfortable (a good thing, I suppose). If I had to give one critique, it might be the pacing. The story spends a good amount of words padding the context and preparing the characters, only for it to end almost too abruptly. I know, 2000 word limit, not disputing that.

Overall, though, bravo to story A. I greatly enjoyed that.


Whoo, story B, eh? I think I know who wrote what. ;)

Story B plays a whole different tune with the setting and whatnot. While the use of the merchant wagon as a "vessel" could be debated, Story A's contagion theme wasn't exactly fleshed out too much either. I don't mind.

Nevertheless, this story played out its grimdark undertones very nicely. Starting the reader off in medias res, we get pulled back into a vivid flashback that culminates in a ...very oddly described climax. Through the whole ordeal, the brotherly love between our protagonist and his baby brother was made very clear, which provided a nice emotional basis for the profag's actions.

I enjoyed the lack of information a lot, where all the descriptions about the monsters were fleeting words of specific features and the apprehension the characters have about them. It's quite conducive to the tension pervading the entirety of the story, and keeps the reader guessing as we too worry about baby brother's condition.

I noticed a couple of SPAG errors, though nothing substantial. My main complaint would be toward the end, where the last few paragraphs or so lost me with the whole "new day, no disease" thing. I might just be dumb, maybe I'll reread it a bit later. All in all, though, another phenomenal entry.


Final verdict? I have to give it to story A. Maybe I'm just too much of a sucker for that pirate stuff.

Thunderdome 2: Kill Darius

one year ago
Commended by mizal on 4/29/2023 6:24:55 PM
The second story has some excellent emotionally laden moments, whether it's brotherly affection or plain incest. It shone through its grimdark setting and I liked how without much description the tone filled in a lot of the landscape. Serious good stuff there. It however felt quite weak at the end. The careful buildup of fixing the brother to the protagonist and the ground just disappeared and was counteracted a few paragraphs later.

But I gotta say, I have to hand it to story A. The first story had some beautiful sentence structure that I would be proud of if I'd written it myself. While the ending did feel pretty rushed (I got a feeling the author just found out he was at 1500 words and tried to wrap things up as best as he could), the part on the ship itself came over as genuine, with strong characterisation of both main and side characters. I liked the careful balance of dialogue and description, even intertwining them at times to spice it up. It overal felt like a bit of a black and white movie, where the voyage mattered more than the destination.

Thunderdome 2: Kill Darius

one year ago

This post is hilarious with the new information.

I'd say this secret dueler thing is great.

Thunderdome 2: Kill Darius

one year ago
Commended by mizal on 4/29/2023 6:25:12 PM

Story A:

The descriptions are great. Word choice, phrasing, and vocabulary are solid.

The sentence with "afore I get ye the cat o' nine tails" feels like it should end with an exclamation mark.

Something is missing in the line "Pulleys were tightened thick knots were undone."

There is a colorful cast of characters that grows on you.

The SPAG was good.

The repetition of the "...they didn't show it" lines felt jarring and might be unnecessary.

The 2nd section contained slow pacing and minimal action, so maybe skip it entirely or integrate it into one of the other sections so that there are only 3 sections.

Formatting: I would insert an empty line between each line of dialogue and the next to make them easier to read.

If Gangly and Lefty were just going to kill Thomas at the end to spare him the pain, then why did they bother reviving him at all? The last scene might have flowed better if Gangly and Lefty were a little more grim in their commentary or hesitant when administering the euthanasia.

Not that on-prompt for "A strange contagion breaks out on a merchant vessel," as they were more attacked by poison darts while on the island.

Overall, a very good story written under prompt conditions, and a good story in general, but can be improved upon.

Story B:

Would you have happened to write this story after watching an episode of The Last of Us by any chance? This story feels like it borrows a lot of elements from that episode of the show, with the older brother protecting the younger brother who gets infected and all that.

The biggest problem with this story is the ambiguous pronoun antecedents, with two and sometimes three male characters that the "he"s and "his"s could be referring to throughout the story.

There are more pieces of fat that can be trimmed from this story than Story A. For example, I would cut out the first sentence entirely and start the story with the second sentence, so that the story starts with action instead of referencing horses that really aren't that significant to the rest of the story, and certainly not important enough to occupy one of the most important places in a story at the very beginning.

Good descriptions. Highlights include "warm brown of his iris," "unrelenting smile," "light whimper," "flashing a toothy smile," and, most of all, the violent parts.

I would add the word "now" after the word sight in the line "However, his line of sight..." to emphasize the immediacy of the moment.

I'm not sure if the sun has a smell.

There's a little too much sexual innuendo that didn't serve the narrative in the story: bathing in his brother's scent, twat, cocking heads, lips, etc.

Good grimdark mood.

I would revise the relevant sentence to " the walls would have provided slipped out..."

I thought that the merchant would turn out to be a beast in disguise. Maybe you laid his creepiness on a little too thick.

You would think that these hunters of beasts of the night would either wear armor that couldn't be penetrated or use ranged weapons if merely getting a scratch would turn them.

The story would be better without the last line. I'm not sure if it meant that Fergus had an immunity like Ellie or was himself killed before turning.

Overall, a good story written under prompt conditions, and a decent story in general. The story has the potential to be very good, though, and demonstrates potential on the part of the author as well.


My vote is for Story A.

Thunderdome 2: Kill Darius

one year ago

Story B had an unnecessary amount of werewolves, incest, and gayness. I don't mind the first two, but as I'm very homophobic, my vote goes to Story A.

Thunderdome 2: Kill Darius

one year ago
Commended by mizal on 4/29/2023 6:25:28 PM

Both stories were interesting and hit the topic of the challenge (mostly).  There were some odd phrasings used in both, and some SPAM errors, but all of those can likely be attributed to the time limit.  I enjoyed reading through both, although I liked Story A significantly more

Story A: I'm a sucker for a good pirate story, and this one does a great job of painting a picture of ship life and purpose for the voyage.  The environmental description in this story is really really well done.  The use of nicknames for all the characters was a fun and efficient means of building investment in them by the reader.  The end of the story is an interesting and effective use of telling instead of showing to conserve word count while avoiding a big info dump.  The retelling of the fleeing from the island was punchy enough to feel like a campfire story.  This was further emphasized by the reveal of what has happened to the crew.  

This leads to the downsides of the story.  The ending does feel a little rushed, and trying to fit the blowdart poison into the disease motif feels kind of hamfisted.  It could have been interesting to do an inversion here of the normal story through history and had the island house some disease that only impacts the visitors versus the visitors bringing a plague to the island.  I can also see why many other reviewers have been dissatisfied with the ending, however my interpretation was that the meaning of the last few lines was that Mr. Left was just waiting for the disease to finish running it's course in the protag which will render him as fleshless as the rest of the crew.  The whole hook in the jaw thing was to indicate the last of the flesh had fallen away from the protag's skull (or at least lower face).  This was a perfectly fitting ending in my view.

Story B: This story does a good job of leveraging the mystery of the beasts and the suspicious behavior of the driver to heighten the tension of the scene.  The degree of intimacy between the brothers was a good motivator for the hunter, and gave the younger brother a degree of sympathetic weight without having to burn a bunch of words on character development for a nearly mute invalid.

That same degree of intimacy leads to weird incestous vibes that make the story uncomfortable to read, and is distracting to the overall theme and feel of the story. It also isn't clear why the driver blames the brothers for the bridge being out, although panic and fear on his part would be understandable.  That does call out the fallacies of the driver's plan though.  While his nose may give him warning that beasts are closing in, but what would he do then?  just try to out run them to safety?  Seems like a risky and bad plan.  My biggest complaint with this story, however, is the very last line.  The entire story is pushing the fear of the brothers for the inevitable transformation of the younger brother, and then the older.  There is nothing provided in the story that gives a reason as to why it just didn't.

Vote for Story A.

Thunderdome 2: Kill Darius

one year ago
Commended by mizal on 4/29/2023 6:25:41 PM
Before I start I have to say HOLY FUCKING SHIT I love the title and the intro post. The title makes it seem like some kinda badass action movie and then the intro post makes me chuckle by making fun of Darius. Let's start though:

Story A: Too much time was spent on introducing the characters and just "describing" shit, which I don't particularly care for... and then it just goes wild in the last 500 words, but too little, too late, and too unexplained. I'm no Celicni but... oh wait yes I am. What the hell is up with that disease? Didn't really get too into specifics with it, and the phrasing used leaves a lot left to interpretation... which I hate because I am yes Celicni. Also I, personally, didn't find the pirate talk to add anything to the story. In fact, it detracted from my enjoyment of it. That said, I acknowledge the effort to do something like that.

Story B: Is this "It's a boy" lite? While I appreciate the emotions, the brothers are TOO goddamn close... Or is normal in Dutchlandia? Anyway, there's some awkward phrasing and SPAG errors, but not as much as I expected. I liked the plot, however, I personally dislike the protagonist. Also, just like with story A, stuff is not explained too well. We've got gay werewolves yeah, but I'd have loved a bit more... depth? Guess I'm expecting too much from a 2K story, but then again I suppose mine would spend 1.5K words on autistically detailing the disease.

Both of the stories, I feel, didn't really fit the prompt though. Hell, if I hadn't read what the prompt was in the main Thunderdome thread (A strange contagion breaks out on a merchant vessel) I would never in a million years have guessed what it was supposed to be. Neither of these "contagions" didn't break out on the vessel. Hell, I wouldn't really call the blowdarts a "contagion". The werewolf thing COULD be considered contagious I suppose.

In the end, I vote for Story B despite liking the author of A much more. Because she's not gay or annoying.

Thunderdome 2: Kill Darius

one year ago
Commended by mizal on 4/29/2023 6:25:50 PM

Story A:

This story seemed to be paced fairly well, at least until the ending.  I really enjoyed reading the pirate dialogue, which, although corny, added to the setting and helped set a mood for the story.  It was nice that the author tried to be a little creative with a "contagion" outbreak through poison darts, but that felt a little stretched for me, and the ending felt a little rushed.  However, I did like that the entire story was not about fighting a contagious disease.  Overall though, the journey was fun as well as the dialogue and I enjoyed reading this story. 

Story B:

Very loose interpretation of a "merchant vessel".  This story loses out on this part alone, as anyone should understand that this phrasing means a ship of some kind - even a spaceship would have worked - but NOT a wagon.  The atmosphere and tension were pretty well done, and I liked the dark foreboding tone.  Some of the paragraphs needed rereading to understand who was performing what action, and there might have been some continuity errors such as where Fergus' blade is or is not. (If he woke up with it in his arms, how is the only evidence of the merchant some splatters of blood and his blade? Presumably the last blood on his blade is his brothers as he pinned him to the ground).  Anyway, nice tone and atmosphere, but the rest needs work - and it also needs a ship, or a boat, or some other actual "vessel".



Thunderdome 2: Kill Darius

one year ago
Commended by mizal on 4/29/2023 6:26:01 PM


I just wrote all this in one sitting with less than 3 hours of sleep, so please forgive any errors. At first, I wasn’t planning to comment, but Story B drew me in. Maybe I'm reading into it too much, and maybe the writer just wanted to write about incestuous brothers and my analyzing is all for naught, but it's too late. It's clear from the length where my vote is going (I actually wrote more examples but cut them out for the sake of space), so here we go.


Story A boasted distinctive characters and fun interactions that revealed the ease of their comradery, causing them to leap off the page. It provided steady pacing that matched the carefree, adventurous tone, and its vivid details painted bright, dazzling scenes that caused me to feel I was right there with them. The dancing fish, colorful corals, and spindly lianas all worked together to build a gorgeous world.

However, I felt its greatest strengths also served as weaknesses because it focused too much on fleshing out the world and characters. Although it might’ve worked in a longer piece, the time spent laying out the setting meant less focus on pushing the story forward. This resulted in a slow beginning that presented too much information at once and not enough of a hook.

In addition, the abrupt shift in tone left me confused for several reasons. First, there was not enough foreshadowing or tension to build up to the illness. Second, it lacked a transition between the hopeful venture into the island and the sudden period of unconsciousness. I had to reread several times to make sure I hadn’t missed something. Third, relying upon Mr. Left to summarize the entire story caused me to feel like I missed out. It gave me a similar feeling as to being amped up for a field trip, only to fall ill and require my friends to relay the events to me.

All in all, it felt like the story had barely started before it abruptly ended. However, the gorgeous, crystal-clear world and bright descriptions balanced it out and left me wanting more of it. The feeling of camaraderie made me want to read more about the crew, and exchanges like the one between Thomas and Gangly felt lifelike.  


Story B enthralled me with the conflict of two hunters, one of whom protected the beast he should’ve slayed. Starting off with an interesting hook, it quickly presented the main problem: the animalistic disease. However, the story’s theme also encompassed an underlying message about the dormant, sickly beast within Fergus.

One way this was shown was through his obsession with his brother. At the beginning, hints of his dominating nature emerged in the way he hugged and smelled him, just like an animal would scent their packmates. He almost treated him like a possession, worsened by the fact that the writer never named the brother. The (seemingly purposeful) lack of identity further established his status as an object, something that no one else could lay claim to but Fergus. It wasn’t so much about who he was but what he did for Fergus.

In addition, the deep intimacy was another tool that further drove the theme and narrative. It added an interesting layer to the brothers’ dynamics because the more animalistic Fergus grew, the blurrier his boundaries became. As his brother’s impending death strained his control, the intimacy further showed his weakening sanity and increasingly animalistic nature. His loyalty and deep bond became a danger to the child he was to protect. When his brother took the full brunt of his possessiveness, it made me wonder how much Fergus had been holding back throughout their relationship.

Another interesting aspect was the implications in the merchant’s dialogue. When he spoke of beasts and Fergus’s brother, his lines seemed to have a double meaning and darkly hinted at Fergus’s own inner corruption. For example, the line “the blood of children will make the beasts go wild” seemed to add foreshadowing about the fate of Fergus’s relationship and his animalistic actions. Another chilling line warned that “a beast of the night will be born”, but though it referred to the brother, it also foretold how Fergus himself would become beastlike and consume his brother with his idea of love. In addition, it was interesting how the story presented the merchant as dangerous when Fergus was the real monster the entire time.      

Combined with vivid descriptions like “an unrelenting smile carved on his lips”, "the black of his pupil [spilling] out of its border", and “smells, images, and sounds blurred together into a blazing red”, this story weaved together a darkly beautiful world. It provided a consistent, grim tone that gradually escalated to a bloody ending, leaving my heart aching for the brother, whose guardian wanted no one else to have him, not even death. 


I only felt there were several areas that could’ve been adjusted to further enhance the story.

First, the dialogue could have been condensed. Characters mostly spoke in full, long sentences when shorter phrases or fragments would’ve sounded more natural and improved the pacing. It would've also given more space/word count for action and longer scenes. To me, the merchant’s dialogue would’ve benefited the most from heavy edits. Specifically, he dumped a lot of world-building information in monologues, some of which could’ve been omitted, such as the line about the “old order”. In addition, more variety in his lines would’ve improved the story, as he repeated phrases about his abilities, scents, and collapsed pupils too often.

As a result, when the merchant confronted Fergus, his rambling weakened the mounting tension. He first opened the conflict with a long comment about the bridge, but realistically, Fergus would’ve spun around faster. Adjusting that might look like:

“Thought the woodwork would’ve lasted till winter.”

Fergus whipped around.

The merchant stood a few feet away, his gun at his side. He tsked, shaking his head. “Bad timing, what with all the beasts nearby.”

He swallowed, eyes trained on the rifle. “What’re you doing?”

Next, the info dump about their meeting and additional rambling about scents felt unnatural, especially since readers had already been given this information early in the story. In addition, Fergus’s lack of response caused the merchant to come across as one of those classical villains who give a grand speech before carrying out their dastardly evil plans. Even if Fergus didn’t have anything to say, splitting the merchant’s dialogue with Fergus’s thoughts and actions would’ve improved pacing, given a greater sense of back and forth, and provided readers with a glimpse through his eyes.

In the example below, I shortened the merchant's phrases to only reveal new information about tainted blood’s smell. I also changed Fergus’s focus to his brother rather than the merchant's “stupidity being the death to them all” because it didn’t make sense.

“Naive of me, to trust a stranger’s word. That accident you spoke of – it was more than a fall, wasn’t it?”

The hunter clenched his jaw. “I told you, my brother's –”

“Sick.” The man tapped his nose. “The beast's scent never lies. Only grows stronger.” Lifting his head, he closed his eyes and deeply inhaled the breeze. “Hmm. Even now, his odor wafts over.”

Fergus’s eyes darted to the wagon, to the coat that the child huddled underneath. He tried to move forward, but the man swung his gun up, and the barrel’s eye bored through him.

He slowly raised his hands.

“That child's blood is too tainted to hide.”

Here, the merchant reused lines about the collapsed pupil and the beast’s scent again. In the example below, I shortened the phrases. I also had Fergus give him a warning to build tension and hint at his growing anger.

Fergus’s nostrils flared. “No one’s infected,” he gritted out. “You have my word.”

A low laugh. Shaking his head, the merchant slowly stepped forward. “Your word cannot stop what’s coming.”

The hunter moved back. His eyes kept flitting to the wagon. “Don’t.”

Another step back, and something creaked under his foot. He turned. A dizzying drop yawned underneath the broken bridge, and the floods rushed below him.

Originally, Fergus snapped when the merchant pointed out his lie about the accident. However, since the merchant was threatening Fergus, I felt it was already implied he figured out the accident was a lie, so this revelation wouldn’t have been shocking. Instead, I moved one of your strongest lines (the beast being born) here, so Fergus would have a greater reason to attack the merchant since he threatened his brother.

The merchant’s gun came closer. Too close.

“Soon,” he called, almost in a singsong voice. “A beast of the night will be born.” A slow smile spread like cracks across his face. His eyes gleamed.

“And it will be slain.”

Fergus lunged.


An additional area that could have been enhanced was the showing versus telling. I felt that readers were often being told what characters were doing rather than being shown, which caused it to read out like a grocery list or a summary of a script.

To combat that, you could try reducing telling lines, such as “he saw/felt/heard”. For example, “Fergus heard his brother gasp and subsequently felt the sharp pain of claws digging through his back” could become “His brother gasped. The sharp prick of claws dug into Fergus’s back.”

You could also try to remove redundant telling lines. One example is “As soon as the merchant finished his sentence, Fergus lunged at him.” After the merchant’s line, a simple “Fergus lunged” would suffice and show that. Another example is “Fergus shook his head, but his brother was left undeterred.” It’s already clear from the brother’s next line that he was undeterred, so that can be removed.

Another example is the fight between Fergus and the merchant, which is mixed with vivid descriptions and some telling sentences that detracted from the immersion. “His ears rang” Is a great line, but the long details about the bullet felt clunky. The detail about his stinging eyes was beautiful, but I would have liked to see how he persevered rather than being told he did. I also felt that the action scene ended a bit too quickly and could have benefited from a little more response from the merchant, as he didn’t even seem to try to defend himself after the first shot.

Fergus lunged.


A crack rang through his ears. Something sharp and hot grazed his cheek. Smoky gunpowder stung his eyes, but he charged through the haze and grabbed at the gun. They both wrestled for it, scrabbling, tugging hard.

A heavy boot slammed onto his foot. Fergus bellowed. With a sudden surge of strength, he wrenched the weapon free and threw it aside. Meaty hands clamped around his shoulders, but he was ripping his saber out, thrusting it forward, burying it deep into the man’s chest until the glint disappeared. 

Green eyes blew open wide. Helpless, trembling like a dying deer’s. 

Fergus shuddered. Slowly, he drew his blade out.

And plunged it in again.

And again.


Another area that could benefit from improvements was Fergus’s dialogue, as compared to the others’ medieval-fantasy-like speech, his lines sounded too modern and casual. For example, phrases like “he was nuts”, “I get some doctors to patch you right up”, and “you can bitch about it” felt jarring when compared to the nobler, more formal lines of “Brother!” and “Belief cannot protect a person nor save a life.”

This impacted the tone of the emotional scene in which Fergus’s desperation clashed with his brother’s desire to die.

In addition, considering the fervency and high stakes of the moment, I felt that more response from the brother would have heightened the emotion, as well as dramatized the moment when Fergus’s inner beast clawed free and he gave into his desires. Breaking up the dialogue with actions that betray Fergus’s emotions and thoughts could also add more flavor to the text.

“It matters not what we become.” His murmurs were fervent, blazing against his brother’s hair. “The world can burn, descend into hell.”

“F-Fergus, you’re scaring me.”

“Shhh.” He smeared a kiss onto his scalp. “Shhh.” Another one above his ear. “The two of us – as long as it’s just us, I’ll die happy.” His arms tightened around him, and he squeezed his eyes shut until nothing but his brother consumed his senses, his world. The shift of his lashes on his neck, the heat of his breath, the thrumming of his heart against his chest. “I'll be happy, even –”

His voice caught and dropped into a dark whisper.

“Even if there’s no heaven left for me.”

He shoved his brother down and fell upon him.

The climax was when Fergus stabbed his brother so that he could "bind" him. However, the writing seemed to gloss over that and didn’t show much of the child’s response, considering he was just stabbed. I recently had an EMG done. When they shoved the first needle deep into my thigh and wiggled it, words cannot describe the agony, like a lightning bolt streaking through my nerves. If a needle could cause so much pain, I’m not sure a stabbed child would have the coherency to immediately ask, “Brother, how could you?” Showing the contrast between the brother’s agony (writhing, screaming, clawing at the blade) and Fergus’s satisfaction could further highlight the dissonance in their relationship, building up to a stronger ending.

The final area that could use improvement was the ending. I felt that it would have ended stronger with him falling into that dreamless slumber ("while hushing sweet nothings to him for what seemed like all eternity, Fergus’s eyes grew heavy as he fell into a dreamless slumber."). It would have served as a great contrast between the beast awakening in him, and now that he’s gotten what he wanted, it closes with darkness and dormancy. The ambiguous ending would have left a sense of mystery, leaving readers wondering if they died or Fergus’s brother succumbed to a worse fate.


Overall, despite the dark, uncomfortable nature of the story, Story B drew me in with its layered messages and grim details. The further I read, the more I wanted to see what would become of Fergus, and his mad possessiveness encouraged me to reread to see what I had missed. What further convinced me to vote was that the writer revealed little detail about the brother's appearance and focused more on the feelings he evoked. To me, the story reflected the writer's attention to detail and themes. It efficiently portrayed the irony of hunting a tangible beast when the real beast dwelled within Fergus all along.

TLDR: My vote is with STORY B for the way the writer creatively used the theme to focus on Fergus's inner corruption and not so much the physical disease.


Thunderdome 2: Kill Darius

one year ago

Voting for Story B (and not just because I know where the inspiration comes from).

Thunderdome 2: Kill Darius

one year ago
Commended by mizal on 4/29/2023 6:26:13 PM
Story A The dialogue is pretty good despite a couple of personal issues, and the ending sent a chill down my spine. My main issue with the story is the plot and the pacing. A significant portion of your word count is used on description of the ship, introducing the characters, and actually getting on the island. Once the characters are on the island, not much happens to build up tension. Then you skip the part where you could've built tension for the next part instead of throwing the reader into it without warning. My suggestion on the plot would be to move the beginning to the action, show the crew escaping the natives, then slow the pace down to give the reader insight into what happened and introduce the characters. Over the course of the story, show what happens to the crew that got hit with the blow darts and how the contagion spreads throughout the ship. Then end it with the protagonist's death. While the dialogue is good and interesting, there are a few things with the captain's dialogue that threw me off. "Don't slack on yer last watch, yer full-pocketed curs, afore I get ye the cat o' nine tails." Here's how I'm reading this sentence. "Don't slack on your last watch, you full-pocketed mongrels, before I get you the cat o' nine tails." I understand the captain is telling the last watch to not slack off unless they want to get flogged while insulting them, but I don't understand why you've used before/afore where unless would've made more sense. Another part I don't understand is: "Scallywag, I needs the depth afore we all sink t' death!" Is Scallywag a character that hasn't been mentioned until now? If there isn't a character named Scallywag, it might be best just to leave it out because it comes off as something added just because it's something a pirate would say. Since I'm already talking about the captain, I want to mention something that looks like an inconcistensy in his character. The captain tells the crew to be quiet because of the natives, but when one of the crew expresses worry about seeing eyes, he blows it off. Later, more of the crew express this worry and the protagonist says they feel like they're being watched and again, the captain ignores it. Is the captain so blinded by greed that he forgets/ignores his own caution? If so, more needs to be done to show it. The rest of the issues are rather minor:
  • Some SPAG issues such as: corrals should be corals, and "Pulleys were tightened thick knots were undone in one fluid moment" is missing a word and/or punctuation mark.
  • Periods where exclamation marks would've been better.
  • In "Hoist away, yer landlubbers!" I think you should've used ye since you've already set up an expectation that you would ye. Otherwise it reads as "Hoist away, your/you're landlubbers!" There's another instance of this when the captain calls the singer a scrappy clod.
  • I think I yelled would have sounded better than I yelled loudly now. Loudly is a pointless adverb since exclamation marks imply loudness (among other things like excitement, for example), and when else will he yell other than now?
  • The captain became a burst of energy sounds awkward. More description like turning on his heel or using wild gesticulation to modify the dialogue would fix this.
  • You can drop the so at the beginning of the 14th paragraph. The only reason you might need it is if the previous or next couple of paragraphs also started with we.
  • This is just a personal preference, but I would've dropped the size comparison of Tahiti, at the end of the paragraph after the first pull, and moved the paragraph after the second pull to the previous pull.
It took me a while to get into the story, but I loved the description of the island (a lot more than the ship description). Like I said at the beginning, the ending sent a chill down my spine. Before Mr. Left 'kills' the protagonist, he says he can't help the protagonist. Ideally, mercy killing would be the only way to help him. I might be interpreting this the wrong way, but if Mr. Left can't help him and mercy killing is considered helping, then Mr. Left's final line of dialogue becomes so much more sinister. Story B The description in the story is beautiful from beginning to the end, and I like the clever take on the 'vessel'. When I started reading this story, I expected the vessel to be a ship not a "hollow container" meant to transport goods. This was clever, but I'm not sure how I feel about getting half way through it and there still isn't a ship. Maybe I wouldn't feel on-the-fence about it if the prompt was worded differently or if I hadn't expected a ship to appear at some point? It's hard to say if you could have made it clear earlier that there would be no ships. The characterization of the protagonist is pretty good. It's, um, very clear the protagonist loves his little brother dearly. As the story goes on, he seems to get even more deranged with how much he loves his little brother. I'm not going to judge as long as they're both consenting adults. At the beginning I believed twat was being used in a wholesome demeaning way, but later it seemed like the protagonist was implying he's the woman in the relationship. I didn't expect the antagonist to be the merchant guy, and I can't say I like the idea too much. In stories about diseases, I typically expect the disease to be the antagonist. Again, when the merchant was introduced and called the little brother a twat, I thought it was a wholesome insult. In hindsight, the merchant comes off as a creepy pedo. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad he's dead, but I expected the disease to play more of a role. My expectations were subverted once again with the disease. I expected the disease to spread in the vessel. Instead, two of the three characters were already infected and the means of transmission doesn't make it easily communicable from human to human. Personally, I would have preferred the little brother to attack and spread the disease to the merchant and the protagonist. Other minor issues:
  • SPAG issue in the first paragraph where little brother' should be little brother's
  • "His ears rang as the bullet launched itself out of the barrel to graze his cheek." The bullet 'launching itself' sounds really awkward to me. Maybe it's because I know how guns work? I don't know.
  • I feel like the little brother is objectified by a lack of a proper name. Every time he's referenced it's either little brother or baby brother, and it doesn't help with the incestuous feeling this gives off.
Other than that, I didn't have as many issues with this story as I did Story A. The dialogue was well done throughout, and how deranged the protagonist and merchant came off in the end was amusing. My vote: This was a hard decision to make; where one story failed the other would succeed. So, I let Lar decide for me. Story A. Thanks, Lar.

Thunderdome 2: Kill Darius

one year ago
Commended by mizal on 4/29/2023 6:26:27 PM
Story A: Well, this is pretty much the standard of what I would expect to see when reading the prompt. That’s not to say that it isn’t well written. It’s just not necessarily that creative.

The whole first part of the story gives me the impression that the author was very much enjoying pirate language. Personally, I don’t, and think the stakes and conflict were revealed way too late in the story. The narrator’s role on the ship was also frustratingly kept vague, which irritated me because he was able to identify arm bones and use their scientific names, but didn’t seem to be part of the medical field. This is extremely strange. The use of the word “pustule” from someone who isn’t educated is odd. He also clearly sees himself as above the deckhands, and doesn’t know how to set camp, yet none of these clues add up to anything.

I also hated that the entire altercation with the natives was skipped. It’s straight from “time to find some bugs” to “oh, guess I’m rotting to death” with no transition.

Really, the only thing that holds up the story that I can see is the quality of the writing and description. The thing is paced like a car wreck though.

Story B: I’m sure others have pointed it out, but a wagon doesn’t exactly qualify as a “vessel” by the spirit of the prompt. I do like the freedom with the disease that you took in turning it into Lycanthropy or whatever the word is.

I will say that there’s some really weird stuff going on. I’m not sure if the merchant is supposed to be anything special, but I’m almost certain that the level of sensitivity to smell he’s exhibiting is superhuman. I know it plays a part in the story. I just wonder if there wasn’t a better way to do it. I’m not actually going to try to think of one though. I feel much better just criticizing it.

Speaking of smell, you talk about smelling the sun twice. WHAT DOES IT MEAN? I demand to know what the sun smells like. Based on the second usage, it seems like it might be some sort of metaphor or poetic thing, but I refuse to let it go.

Also, the weird little thing where the protag won’t just kill his little brother like a man and tries to pin him with a sword? I guess to make sure he didn’t run off. You kinda lost me after the whole wagon incident.

Anyway, due simply to better sentence structure and a more coherent story, my vote goes to A.

Thunderdome 2: Kill Darius

one year ago
Commended by mizal on 4/29/2023 6:26:46 PM

My powers of detail and nuance are waning this morning, and I am a simple man besides. So I will be rating these stories based on three simple criteria and voting for the story with the strongest of those.


1. Nauticality. The story needs to take place on a sailing vessel of some kind, so the ceiling is high but the floor is very, very low. I'm gonna want to feel immersed in the atmosphere of discipline, manliness, and adventure that comes with daily life on a ship. Since this can be any setting, I'm gonna say right up front that any story taking place on a modern battleship automatically loses, and any story taking place on some kind of steampunk treasure planet flying ship automatically wins. That's just how it's gonna be, I make no claims of impartiality.


2. The disease. If there's one entire genre of things I hate, it's the disease thriller. I just fundamentally do not find it to be an interesting kind of conflict. It's just as impersonal, nonviolent and shitty as a disaster survival movie- the antagonist is literally beneath thought and motivation, the challenge they present is entirely a riddle of dull empyrical procedure and dry repetitive experimentation. At least in a movie about a tornado or an earthquake or something, something will blow up! But there's no flavor to a story about contagion. Or at least, to a mainstream story about contagion, like the movie Contagion. Like, yeah, I get it, but how do you confront a pathogen? You don't, you destroy it with treatments and institutions. You "fight" a disease by taking medicine and waiting around miserably for it to be over. Lame! So I am going to hate these stories as a matter of principle to begin with unless the disease is either very interesting, or not actually the central conflict of the story- But because of the nature of the prompt, the latter can't be the case. So the former had better be, or I'll be salty!


3. The cut of its jib. If I like the vibes of the story in general I'm probably going to be biased toward it anyway, but I can't just go listing all the individual reasons why because my grammar and syntax skills are less than great. This will also cover me liking the story more even if one or all the other categories are weak.


Story A:


Nauticality: I really like that the story seems to be taking place during an analogue of the ill-fated voyage of The Bounty, so definitely points for that. The crew being such an evocatively named bunch of seaworthy ruffians is also great. The sawbones has a hook hand, you just can't get more motley than that! And I immediately like any motherfuckers that can just casually be named Gangly and Scrooge. It initially felt a little weird to hear a reference to Dickens during a voyage referencing something that happened in like the 1780s, but that made me look up the etymology of scrooge, and it turns out that this is actually HISTORICALLY ACCURATE because "scrooge" being a mutation of scrudge/scrounge was actually a term for a moneygrubber long before it was the last name of an asshole in a christmas book. So if anybody else makes this snap judgement like I did (I will not read the other comments or even look at other votes, my judgement is final) without doing the proper research, they're actually the retard and we should laugh at them.


There's also the funny pirate talk and sailor slang, which is fun if a bit hamhandedly applied in some places- But, frankly, it takes extreme skill to write dialects like this and not be a little cringe in places. 8/10


The Disease: Not much that can be said about it but there's not much we know. It's relatively standard for body horror diseases in the sense that it just makes you rot and potentially affects the mind depending on how you interpret Hook's wording. We don't get a lot of time to think about and interact with it, and that may be for the best. I feel like some parts should have been cut to make room for a better exploration of what the disease does and the culture of this creepy tribe that weaponises it. A mystery is fine, and good, and actually the prompt- I'm no celicni, I don't need everything explained, but there's not enough to latch onto to really get the mind scrounging for answers, all I really know is what's been told to the protagonist right before the end, and there's not really very specific questions we can draw from what was presented. There are questions, but there is very little evidence. How are the natives protected from it? Where do they get the disease to put in their blowguns? Are they really painted red or are they just skinless from only being partially immune to the rot? We'll never know, everybody's DEAD. They fucked it all up. 4/10


Jib Quotient: The story was fine for what it was. It was almost refreshing how this story progressed almost like a normal story where you're supposed to care about the characters and things before just killing everyone, it's almost impressive in its nihilism, but because this didn't really feel foreshadowed or like a real theme of tension in the story, the ending seems really abrupt and incomplete, like the author ran out of room. It feels less like a real story story and more like I got the wrong ending in a game. Because of this, I'm gonna have to only give it 6/10 despite the fact that I liked it otherwise.


Story A: 18/30


Story B:


Nauticality: The atmosphere and story tension was killer in this- So imagine my dismay and rage when the entire half of the prompt I was actually interested in never fucking appeared. The only ship in this story was hardship. ZERO OUTTA TEN! WHOEVER WROTE THIS BELONGS IN JAIL!


The Disease: the disease was werewolves or something, I dunno. Granted, a lot more interesting than flu, but also really gay. Actually this whole story felt weirdly gay, maybe incest was the disease. Either way it was done with a weird amount of taste and a lot was left up to interpretation, which is good, the disease was supposed to be mysterious. Even though werewolves are pretty gay the theme surrounding this mysterious disease was actually explored more than the rot and it was technically more interesting in the story. As interesting as the rot is, I feel like most of what I find interesting about it right now is probably just my information-deprived brain grasping at straws, whereas here the disease and its consequences are actually, like, in the story, aside from just the way it kills you. So regretfully this earns a whole 6/10.


Jib Quotient: the prose was pretty, poetic, and immersive. It's just really too bad that it immersed me in a story I didn't like and also one that didn't have a fucking boat in it. Your pretty words can only get you so far you squamous weevil-eating dutch gingoid 2/10.


STORY B: 8/30


In truth as someone who generally dislikes disease stories to this degree I was actually surprised that both of these stories didn't entirely suck in that aspect. I was pretty sure I just wasn't going to read this duel and I'm not sure what compelled me to read this- I can only assume it was the intercession of God's almighty will that called me here to make sure Story B wouldn't win, because it is a boatless, landlubberous waste of words.


I vote for Story A

Thunderdome 2: Kill Darius

one year ago
Commended by mizal on 4/29/2023 6:27:08 PM

Story A

This is a very strong story, I'd say. I may just enjoy the overall effort into making sure that the world is described in detail, to the point I actually think you did limited research in order to formulate this idea (which is an obvious bonus). It did seem, however, that this was part of a larger idea that was condensed down to fit this format. This definitely can be fleshed out into a full fledged story and I think it's something this author should consider! 

Positives: Strong environment/setting. I could see everything described very clearly and I believe the only sense really lacking was smell. Even still, it drew me into the story with flowery language. Characterization was also a huge plus. Every character, including ones mostly mentioned in passing, were super fleshed out. From Captain Baxtere to Gangly to Scrouge, they all were unique and brought something to the story. Speaking of, there was very little wasted space. Each detail was progressing the story in some way, even if it was just setting tone. While Thomas' name was only mentioned twice, he is also more than just a way to view the story as his opinions on the other crew members shape him as much as it shapes them.

Negatives: I only have two complaints. One is how this seems more like a curse rather than a contagion, which doesn't fit in with the prompt at all. While yes, it is spread from one person to another it isn't quite the same. Other than that, it's the abrupt ending. While this story had to fit into the under 2k restraints, it was quite jarring and didn't really fit into the carefully crafted pace of the rest of this entry. 

Overall 4/5. Very well done.

Story B

An emotional tale of two brothers and a merchant. Definitely not what I expected from the prompt. Looking at it as just a short story, it is solid and a decent read. The world is fleshed out in a way that allows it to remain mysterious but not undeveloped. I will say there are some moments that could've used more details but this remains cohesive.

Positives: Being character centric allowed for this entry to hone in on the raw emotion that is the heart of this story. Even the merchant, who was mainly used for exposition, had a strong characterization that justified his presence. Fergus and his unnamed brother, being werewolves I assume, put an interesting twist on the disease required by the prompt and allowed for some play with the premise. Plus, even with me being unsure when it comes to fitting in with the prompt, I do appreciate the different take on vessel as a wagon. 

Negatives: The ending felt very cluttered and confusing. While I understand that Fergus ended up alone, the language that led up to that made it quite confusing. I thought the brother had abandoned him but with being pinned by the sabre I assume he died? With Fergus being alone, it did have a satisfying conclusion but the lead up left me lost. My other complaint is that the little brother didn't get too much characterization. While yes, I did count the character centric viewpoint as a positive, the brother not getting the same treatment as the merchant and Fergus really hurt this story. It takes away a lot of the emotional impact meant to be felt.

Overall, not bad. 3.5/4 (rounded up to 4).

I vote for Story A.

Thunderdome 2: Kill Darius

one year ago
The votes are in and Story A is the winner!

Despite the landslide of votes for A, it seemed like a close one, with only the lack of clarity in the end and the lack of yo ho ho pirate spirit holding B back. However I have good news for Darius's dignity, and that's that the REAL name of this episode should have been Double Dutch!

That's right, the author of Story A was none other than Enterpride, a man so desperate to distinguish himself from the other Dutch medical student diluting his brand that he violently hip checked a 12 year old girl aside and took her place while dressed in drag! And absolutely no one saw through the clever disguise.

Big thanks to Fresh once again for being so agreeable. She is of course welcome to challenge Darius again at some future date.

Thunderdome 2: Kill Darius

one year ago
“The first story had some beautiful sentence structure that I would be proud of if I'd written it myself.”


Thunderdome 2: Kill Darius

one year ago

Wtf Enter, hahah. I was about to write an obituary how I was beaten to pulp by a teenage girl. Well, good duel anyways and glad to be double killed by a fellow dutchman.

And thank you all for the feedback, many of them were very helpful!

Thunderdome 2: Kill Darius

one year ago

Darius, well done on your story. Very pretty details and haunting darkness.

I'm curious - did you truly intend for the theme to have a double meaning about Fergus's inner beast/corruption, or was I basically this guy?

Please tell me I didn't sound like one of those conspiracists wearing a tinfoil hat.

Thunderdome 2: Kill Darius

one year ago

Ohw, lots of it was intentional. Was actually surprised that you easily picked up that the creepy vibe between the brothers was intentional.

The line with the merchant "blood of children makes beast's go wild" was indeed intended to be subtextually refer to Fergus. And the fact that he himself is much more monstrous than his infected brother ever will be. The detail that Fergus is the only named character was also a deliberate choice, mainly because I thought that knowing their names wouldn't matter much in the grand scheme of things and to emphasize their roles in the story. 

And I really appreciate you feedback! Really clear examples and damn didn't know that the lines and dialogue could be written so much better and more poignant. I'll keep it in mind next time I write. It's a really great review!

Thunderdome 2: Kill Darius

one year ago

After I got some proper sleep and saw what I'd posted, I feared I was raving about nonexistent connections. So thank you for confirming I still possess my sanity. 

Seriously, what a creative, well-thought-out response to the prompt. And it seemed you used humans as the "vessel" since they could serve as the host of the disease/monster? Upon my first glance over your story, those intentional details stuck out, and when I noticed the brother was nameless, you have no idea how eager I became to break down your writing.

The merchant, I could understand being nameless, but the brother? Whom Fergus had known his whole life? Clearly something was wrong, and I didn’t think you would’ve forgotten such a big detail considering how much love you poured into everything else. I must've combed it over at least twenty times, looking for anything else I'd missed. I hope you're proud of your work because wow, that was fantastically planned out.

Glad you found it helpful. Your story actually broke my writer's block, and I was brimming over with ideas. 

Thunderdome 2: Kill Darius

one year ago

I was about to say. The more I read fresh_out_the_oven's writing, the more incredulous I was of her having written either of these stories.

Thunderdome 2: Kill Darius

one year ago

Yeowch. But yeah, I was so surprised that any of you actually thought I'd written that lol, and no one commented on how seriously improved my writing had gotten

Thunderdome 2: Kill Darius

one year ago
Commended by mizal on 4/29/2023 6:12:48 PM

I just thought that there was enough time between your last story for you to have visibly improved. My mind was kinda panicking when I read that story.

But Fresh, if you want to properly murder me with your own hands, then I'm all ears.

Thunderdome 2: Kill Darius

one year ago

I'm always up for a good slaughtering

Thunderdome 2: Kill Darius

one year ago

No offense meant. You seem pretty young, so your writing will surely improve over time, especially if you keep hanging around writing sites like this one. My own writing was at around the same level as yours at about your age.

Thunderdome 2: Kill Darius

one year ago

Congratulations, Enterpride! Beautiful worldbuilding. After reading Fresh's storygame out of curiosity, I started to grow suspicious, and it intensified after seeing Darius's analysis of writing styles and looking through Enter’s game. Still, I wouldn't have thought a grown man had actually smuggled himself in here. I trusted mizal too much in the intro post. Well played.

Thunderdome 2: Kill Darius

one year ago

Nice job, Enterpride! And kudos to Darius for a good rival story! I didn't comment and read these ones, but I can tell at first glance that they are both well-written and well-thoughout. 

Thunderdome 2: Kill Darius

one year ago

Congrats to Enterpride!  and Good Job to Darius.

Thunderdome 2: Kill Darius

one year ago
Commended by mizal on 4/29/2023 6:13:10 PM
Had a lot of fun on this one, with Darius' copy thread being the icing on the cake.

Anyway. I won. Darius lost. And that's the most important part.
I want to give a huge thanks to everyone who voted correctly. For those precious few that didn't, know that your poor taste will forever be etched into my memory.

Thunderdome 2: Kill Darius

one year ago
Commended by mizal on 4/29/2023 6:26:56 PM

The prompt for this duel sparked some ideas in me, so I wrote a short story for it of my own that I wanted to share, even though I'm not participating in the duels myself. Mizal gave me her permission to post it in this thread. I hope that you enjoy the story, and any feedback is always welcome.


                                                                                                         The Promise


You glance at your little daughter’s holographic recording hovering above your dashboard. Why did I have to let her go play by herself in the cargo bay? Setting your wingship’s hyperdrive propulsion to maximum, you try to push the thoughts of your sick daughter away as you make your way across the galaxy.




You watch as your child curls up in the hospital bed, nursing a hacking cough that only seems to be growing more persistent.


“I have bad news, helmsman,” your merchant ship’s medical officer drones matter-of-factly. “Your daughter has contracted a rare xenoplanetary disease stemming from an alien virus that only affects the young- your daughter and a few other children onboard have been infected. The virus must have stowed aboard via some cargo at our last trading stop. Handbooks suggest that this disease is highly virulent, with patients quickly deteriorating and passing away without intervention. The only cure for this contagion is a medicine found on its planet of origin, a charted but as of yet uncontacted planet bordering our star system.” The medical officer shifts his attention to your daughter. “Considering your child’s reliance on our vessel’s medical facilities to stabilize her condition and our ship’s lack of mobility, your daughter’s only hope is for someone to take our fastest wingship to the planet, acquire the cure, and bring it back to us, while your daughter stays here in the medical bay.”


“I’ll do it,” you volunteer without a second thought. “What do we know about this planet?” you ask.


“It is a medium-sized world located nine light-years away from our current position. The primitive lifeforms on the planet seem to have begun to evolve into some semblance of civilization and made some minor advances in technology. Of course, theirs is still nowhere near our own, though enough to contain the outbreak some time ago.”


“Will I have to make contact with their leaders? Will we even be able to communicate with them?”


“We don’t have time. By the time we conclude formal intergalactic diplomacy protocols, your daughter won’t-”


Your daughter interrupts the discussion with the tiniest tug on your sleeve. “Will you be coming home?” she asks you.


You look her in the eye. “Yes, my dear. I promise,” you answer.




As your wingship falls out of hyperdrive, you take in the view of a mostly watery world with patches of dry land. Your scanners show, as you pass through the atmosphere, that the nearest sample of the cure is situated within a cluster of crude huts on an arid northwestern continent. You plot a course for the coordinates and prepare to land.


A crowd of tailless bipedal creatures forms and chatters nervously as your ship descends. The closer you get to setting down on the nearest open area to the compound, the more clearly that you can see the denizens gesturing to each other with their spindly limbs and stunted snouts. The creatures all scatter upon your touchdown. That’s fine by me. You have no time for sightseeing or pleasantries with the locals, your daughter’s condition remaining at the forefront of your mind.


After strapping yourself into your worn-out landing suit, you leap out of your wingship onto a hard, cracked gray surface. You cut across various shoddy paths that the natives have cobbled together. A few creatures with blue coloration appear and look your imposing figure up and down, perhaps believing you a threat. They make several gurgling noises that mean nothing to you as you press on past them to where the medicine is stored. Several other of the creatures scurry away on their hind legs as soon as they see you. The walls in your way are each demolished in just a few mighty swipes of your giant front claws.


A number of the creatures rush toward you upon your entering the medicine’s chamber. You reflexively bisect every one of their squishy bodies with a wicked swing of your spiked tail. Another inhabitant enters the room, and you instinctively eviscerate the straggler, your hind claws pulling its pinkish guts and entrails wholly out of its abdominal cavity. One creature in white, its brown eyes wide, cowers in a corner and points at a canister with a digit from one of its four appendages. Your scanner’s sensors show that the drug is within the container, inside several clear tubes. You pick up the canister, carefully place it into your pocket, and turn back.


Just as you are about to leave the ruined dwelling with the medicine, a band of mottled green creatures emerges and propels small metal bits at you that harmlessly plink off of your titanium exoskeleton. You promptly terminate them to the last with your acid spit spray. One by one, they crumple to the ground, screaming in agony, until all lay slumped over. You walk past their motionless remains as dark red fluid gushes out of their new orifices. Filthy.


You step outside the now leveled structure and take a look around. There is no movement in sight except for metal poles alternating between red, yellow, and green lights rising above the paths. Not a single creature appears as you march back to your wingship. At long last, you have found the cure that you came here for, and can keep the promise that you made to your daughter.


I’m coming home.

Thunderdome 2: Kill Darius

one year ago

I kept expecting some kind of a betrayal plottwist where they intentionally poisoned the daughter and lied to our MC about the cure.

That didn't come but a certain other, slightly more cliche, plot twist did. I have to say I'm embarrassed it took me until the metal poles to figure it out, cause I glanced past descriptions, as I tend to do.

Overall, I liked it, but I guess I expected a different sort of thing when I read the beginning. That medical officer was sus as fuck.

Also I lol'd at how you specified your ship was a merchant one, to fit the prompt.

Thunderdome 2: Kill Darius

one year ago

Also I lol'd at how you specified your ship was a merchant one, to fit the prompt.

Complete coincidence, I swear lol

I thought that the characterization of the medical officer as "droning matter of factly" would clear him from suspicion as someone without additional layers to him. What about him did you find to be sus?

Thunderdome 2: Kill Darius

one year ago

Perhaps not the officer himself, but somebody above him. It all just seemed too... convenient and obvious? Not sure if I'm picking the right words here...

Thunderdome 2: Kill Darius

one year ago

Interesting. Duly noted. I'll take a look at making the lead-up to heading to the planet go less smoothly.

Thunderdome 2: Kill Darius

one year ago

Great story and it actually uses the prompt straighforwardly. 

One thing that would make the story even better is perhaps showing more of the symptoms of the daughters illness instead of the officer telling its severity to you via dialogue.

Make her bleed out of her eyes. Perhaps have all bodily fluids leak out of her orifice, have rotting ulcers, sweat all over her body, thin hair, gaunt face, lumps on her clavicle. The sky is the limit to make up some horrifying disease.

It could be conceivable to have the father look at her wither away via a glass window or something and interact with.

And what was acrually the plot twist that cel described? Couldnt recall this story having one.

Thunderdome 2: Kill Darius

one year ago

I believe the plot twist he was referring too was that the planet was earth and all the critters it was mowing through were various humans trying to respond to a sudden targeting alien invasion.  The lights are stop lights.

I liked the overall flow of the story and it was a good interpretation of the prompt.  The only error that jumped out at me was the mention that the planet was "bordering our solar system", yet was nine light years away.  Planets, unless they are rogue, don't border a solar system, they are part of the next solar system over.  And I also objected to the distance, although for a species so advanced as the protag's, maybe nine light years is considered "bordering" in which case, that is a good subtle world-building detail.

Thunderdome 2: Kill Darius

one year ago

This is why feedback is so valuable. I would never have considered these details if you hadn't mentioned them. I'll surely take this information into account for the next draft. Thanks.

Thunderdome 2: Kill Darius

one year ago

Good idea- I’ll take that suggestion into account for the next draft.


The story reads quite a bit differently after the plot twist.