March 27, 2011

Weekend Workshop #3: The Next Genesis

Another weekend, another challenge! For the challenge this week, I was given the following parameters which my Cyrus then did more shockingly amazing art for:

Sci-Fi / Noir / Horror

  • around 9000+AD - after some 'dark age' of sorts around 3000 years previously - the hows and whys are all yours - this is just so the world can be played about with as much as possible so knock around the year and timeline if you want - and so the 21stC is a distant and threadbare memory not even talked of anymore
  • it all takes place in a broken feeling old cityscape somewhere in europe - medieval and superstructure archetecture merge to create a unique skyline - think bladerunner, akira, metropolis, dark city etc etc but with some gothic architectural twist
  • have the tale revolve around the thoughts of a central character caught in some clusterfuck situation and about to go out blazing - or similar - or dont...
  • revolutionary type setting against a fascist state of some sort - equilibrium, logans run, the original rollerball, 1984 etc etc
  • some paranormal / demonic edge to it somehow - even if its purely suggested in the atmosphere - perhaps even some odd new religeons have taken over - leaving our 'old' ones naught but heretical practice of the few - i dont know - thats all for you to dream up 
  • feel free to mix tech levels - but please try to avoid making it too 'steampunk'
  • im gonna try and produce a piece that reflects the city as a backdrop and whatever is happening close up in what you write to complement it best
  • time: 3hours or 1500 word min
Here is the story, as well the art inspired by it. Make sure to check out his blog to see the work in progress below it!

See the art on his page - here!

The Next Genesis

“And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered.” – Genesis 13:16

Earth, 9253 AD. I can’t believe I’m here. This place is like a putrid ball of slime covered in maggots. But this is what I agreed to, so here I am. The entire planet is covered with our cities, our people, our ideas. I remember old holo images showcasing all the blues and greens, white clouds, clean skies, glistening cities… my how it’s changed. I don’t think there’s a living person who remembers what it was before it became the dumping ground of the galaxy. It’s no coincidence that a bunch of disease-ridden parasites claimed this festering boil of a planet we used to love.

Being here now forces me to remember what set these events in motion. 3000 years ago, an age that will never be forgotten, we faced the very real threat of overpopulating the galaxy. Millions were being born every minute and we were forced to constantly annex new planets to support our overgrown population. I think that was when we stopped being human.  Our finest scientists, biologists, philosophers – none of them could come up with a solution to the problem. That’s when the government came up with a solution that would change everything.

Every possible idea was discussed and debated ruthlessly, but in the end, the solution could not be ignored. It was our only salvation. We were a plague that threatened all life in the galaxy, and we had to be exterminated… at least, that was how they justified the mass genocide of hundreds of worlds and the war that started and still rages to this day. The idea was humble; willingly killing ourselves to save the remaining life in the galaxy - but our methodology was flawed. Long after the war began, another solution finally came to light; a solution that would end the war and give us another chance. But that idea will never be heard… not while the overlord is in charge.

I am part of an alliance of worlds that believe that we can prosper symbiotically with other life in the galaxy, like the organisms that once populated earth in ancient times. I carry a unique gene that, once introduced into the planets ecosystem, will allow us to transcend our bodies and transform into a form of pure energy. Though my mission is critical the survival of our species, my opposition will be great. Too long have we allowed self-destruction and bloodshed to be our ultimatum; it must end here.
I stand in the middle of a massive, bustling street filled with human drones; an endless sea of scared, hopeless individuals disgusted at their very existence. Many thousands of years ago, this was one of our most prosperous cities, before it became the planet-spanning supercity it exists as now. London, it was called – part of the European continent of earth’s eastern hemisphere. It was a beautiful green island, surrounded by clear, glistening water and flowing with its own unique culture. Now, it exists merely as an extension of the dark towers that pierce the exhausted, polluted skies above; all traces of individuality and inspiration far removed – save for one thing.

My destination may very well be the last surviving place in the entire galaxy that retains any resemblance of the cultures of old. The Palace of Westminster, an ancient meeting place for the houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, stands alone as the last surviving landmark from that era of history. It was claimed by the overlord 3000 years ago as his personal residence to oversee the operation of the galaxy and the subsequent purge of all life he deemed unfit for the final order. It is here that I must go, and deliver myself. I am the final hope of life in our dying galaxy.

The streets are lined with soldiers who constantly scan the thoughts of passerby, ready to suppress any opposition at the first stray thought of harm directed at the overlord. My thoughts linger on our bible, an ancient writing called “1984”. My commanders treat this writing as an ancient premonition, and the author, their prophet. Though I have never considered myself a religious man (since most of that died out thousands of years ago when we realized that there was no god) I can understand why they would adopt it. Their prophet – Orwell - saw what we were destined to become and had tried to warn us. But, as is true for the countless problems we have faced as our species has developed, it is only in our darkest hour that we find the motivation to act. This is our final hour.

The soldiers eye me suspiciously, no doubt wondering why they cannot probe my mind as easily as the others. My unique genome has altered my brain frequency to function at a much higher range than the garden variety human. The effect will be like radio static to their minds. No doubt they will just think I am just a particularly suppressed individual and pay me no heed.

Up above me, masked behind the noxious grey clouds, an atmosphere of flying transports herd millions of people off of this rock, bound for destinations unknown. Most will no doubt live a few years only to be exterminated in accordance with Law 2128-B. Some will be fortunate enough to find themselves on one of the few remaining planets where life still thrives. And the rest will be like me; fighters recruited into the last war that we will ever fight.

My body tingles with anticipation as I round a corner and find myself confronted with my objective. It stands before me; its dull, brown exterior threatens to overcome me with emotion as it presents itself gracefully against a backdrop of dead, emotionless grey. This is it – there’s no turning back now. I approach it with my head hung low, doing my best to blend into the surrounding drones. I mustn’t be so careless; another emotional outburst like that and I’ll be detected and all hope will die with me.
I am at the doors. The guards eye me suspiciously as I probe their minds and convince them that the overlord has sent me. They understand and open the doors. The doors open slowly, the ancient squeal of their obsolete design welcomes me inside like a ghost of the past begging me to return life to its barren halls as I step inside.

I sense the overlord in his chambers, watching meticulously over the galaxy and all life within it as the self-appointed god he proclaimed himself to be. I am close now, anticipation threatens to overwhelm me as the fate of our past, present and future reaches the moment that will define our eternity.
Suddenly, an alarm in my mind begins to sound. I have been detected. I can feel their minds enter mine, their thoughts stab at my mind in an attempt to shut it down.  I must remember my training if I am to survive the assault. Pain… such pain… hurts to think… resist.

The overlord’s chambers are before me. The guards at the door are alerted by my presence and return my gaze with wide-eyed stares. I can feel their thoughts join the others. They are the strongest I have ever encountered. They are compromising my objectivity, preying off the desperate nature of my mission and using it as a weapon against me. NO! I must not lose! Too much is at stake. Quickly… regain your objectivity – do not let your feelings cloud your judgment! Why can’t they understand what I am trying to do? All hope is NOT lost!

That’s it! I must make them understand.

“Give up. The overlord cannot be defeated.”

They threatened me audibly in an attempt to intimidate me.

“Two plus two equals five.” I countered.

“Incorrect.” They riposted.

“Two plus two equals five!” I insisted.

“Incorrect!” they shouted back.

This isn’t working. They told me this would work! The prophet must have been wrong. I must unleash the weapon. I was warned that it was it would surely compromise my thought process as well as theirs, but that it would render them defenseless. I am recalling the memory they implanted and am projecting it into their minds.

“Somewhere over the rainbow
Way up high,
There’s a land that I heard of
Once in a lullaby.
 Somewhere over the rainbow
Skies are blue,
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true.”

My legs have stopped functioning and I have collapsed to the floor. Tears fall from my eyes as I crawl past the guards and into the chamber of the overlord. The chamber, which at one time was a regal and inspiring place, is choked with fat and veins poisoned by the technological monster now lingering within. The stasis pod that contains the overlord, taps into the very heart of the planet, drawing on the heat of the core for geothermal energy – but more than that, it draws from the life energy of all living things. This is what gives him the power that so effortlessly controls our fate; by holding hostage our own mother, the one who has protected us through millions of years. Time has given us all the tools we needed to hone our aggression to its finality.

I place my hand against the glass of the stasis pod in which he resides and project the thought as clear and concisely as my enhanced genome will allow me.

“Somewhere over the rainbow
Bluebirds fly.
Birds fly over the rainbow.
Why then oh why can’t I?
If happy little bluebirds fly
Beyond the rainbow
Why, oh why can’t I?”

I can feel the effect of the words, written by our poets of old and buried under layers of neglect and repression manifesting in the consciousness of the overlord. Has it really been so long since another human being shared such emotion with another that it would have such a profound effect? He analyzes every word, every note, the mathematics of the symphony – the whole is no mere sum of the parts, the effect was not a predictable one, there was no defense against it. The aggression of our race, which he had preyed upon in an effort to become the undisputed ruler of our destiny, had failed to realize its antonym: compassion. There truly was hope for us all, but it lay over the rainbow. We simply needed to shrug off the burdens of our senseless violence and learn to fly.

Conflicting data overloaded the overlord’s thought patterns. The stasis chamber exploded and the 3000-year old overlord who had decided our fates for far too long came tumbling out. His frail body, overcome with age and the stress of the inhospitable environment disintegrated immediately and his presence vanished from our galaxy forever, allowing us to finally ascend unhindered by our infantile impulses. I ceased to exist in any form your limited mind might understand, but the story of our vindicated race would live on into the stories of the next genesis.

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. “ - Genesis 1:1

March 20, 2011

Weekend Workshop #2: Terran Twilight

Crashtest has given me another challenge... only this time the tables are turned. Instead of him giving me the theme and details to work with, I was given free reign to come up with whatever I wanted that he could then translate into art which we would create in under 90 minutes. Afterwards, I was to write another 300-word entry about the piece and give it a story. I was thoroughly impressed with the results of his work as, once again, it was an incredibly accurate impression of my idea.

Click here to see his blog with the art for this piece and more!

Terran Twilight

The blackening sky began to blot out the remaining sunlight of the dying sun as it plunged the planet into another restless night, full of fear and despair. The bones of humanity's civilization pocked the surface of the broken planet, a mere shadow of the life that had once flourished on her face. Humans, once the defining species of the planet earth with their vast cities, advanced technology, and knowledge of themselves and the universe in which they lived, would leave the stage as a mere echo of all that they had accomplished in their short time on the planet... and there would be no audience to mourn them.

The medal of their deeds loomed in the sky overhead, due soon to be reunited with its mother that had protected it through the millennia. It returned the favor by shining as a beacon of hope in the darkness; a reminder that, even in the darkest of nights, the sun would come out tomorrow. But no longer. It moved sluggishly through the heavens, it's surface scarred and ablaze with the nuclear fires of humanity's self-destructive tenancies. Ablaze, its course would lead it to a destructive finale, sealing humanity's final chapter in its grave.

The last
stragglers of the doomed ball of scorched rock and ash followed the light of the sickly orange star that had once shone down brightly on them, spreading life over the surface of their birthplace. It is faith that, in their final moments, the hope of another dawn granted them some small release from the burden that their selfishness had chained upon them, and that their souls would escape the torment of the fires that would soon extinguish the remaining traces of those who had forsaken the paradise that had become their hell.

March 12, 2011

Weekend Workshop #1: The Shifting Sea

At Cyrus Crashtest request, I have taken part in a 300-word descriptive writing of a medieval scene, which he then proposed to create in under 90 minutes. The results are amazingly similar to the exact visual I had in my head when I wrote the scene and, as always, I am extremely satisfied with the amazing work he's done. What I didn't tell him about the piece, was that the image was actually part of a dream I had, and will also make an appearnece in The Rift once I actually make it that far.

So, without further ado, below are the scene that I wrote as well as the link to his blog so that you may scene the scene he created. I hope to be able to collaborate with more projects like this, since I can never get enough of writing or his art work. This is something that's needed to happen for a long time:

(c) Cyrus Crashtest
The Shifting Sea

"The main character, a Persian-looking man in white cloth and a turban stands at the edge of a cliff over-looking a shining city surrounded by a sea of sand as the sun sets before him. A scimitar hangs at his hip and his pockets and garb are lined with trinkets from his adventures. A few rogue strands of black hair escape beneath the bottom of his turban, the exposed area on his neck glisten with sweat from the long journey he has just endured.

The city sits in a valley with mountains behind it and endless dunes around it. In the distance, and closer to the foreground, rocky hills hint at ancient ruins carved out of sandstone, waiting to be explored by any who would dare risk their undoubtedly treacherous halls. Conical yellow towers reflect the light of the setting sun, the most prominent belonging to the large palace at the center of the city – which is encircled by a sandstone wall which protects the exposed thee sides of the city and connects to the mountain behind.

The atmosphere is warm and calm, though the shadow cast by the setting sun warns of the onset of a cold, restless night ahead, filled with the cries of hungry beasts who call the desert home. Subtle traces of pink and other exotic colors line the sky like a maiden waving her knight’s colors as he nears his goal. Though there is still much treacherous land to cross before the sun sets, the shining city stands as a beacon of hope for our hero as his adventure for the day comes to a fruitful end."

Crashtest's BlogClick for Epicness

March 1, 2011

The Rift: March Update

Progress is being made on The Rift. Here is the link to the official project page on Bioware's new social networking site: