Archive for the Other Stories Category

Sci Fi Writing Prompt 1 – The Gambling Slug

Posted in Other Stories with tags , , , , , on September 2, 2017 by Dawn Ross

In order to keep growing with my writing skills, I’m trying to do writing prompts again. This sci-fi one was more fun than I thought it would be. It’s not a great story, but I think this short story is entertaining. Let me know what you think.

The Prompt – An intergalactic poker game among five players of different races goes wrong when one is caught cheating. (Inspired by ridethepen.com)

Poker Chips

Barika coughed and waved away a billow of acrid smoke. Xir-bing chuckled derisively and blew another cloud of smoke generated by the cheroot protruding from his grossly wide mouth.

She hated this fat slug with his pallid, glutinous skin and blob-like limbs. Every time he moved, his body made irritating farting noises. The worst part, though, was his condescending attitude—as if slugs had some sort of superiority on the evolutionary scale.

She hated the other three players at the poker table only a little less. Jerut constantly picked at his elephant-like snout and made loud barking noises every time he won. The antennae on Kefer-bobala-or-something-or-other seemed to have a mind of their own as they oscillated this way and that. His temper seemed to oscillate as well. One moment he was chirping happily and the next he was buzzing angrily. Yet his moods seemed to have nothing to do with how his game was going.

And then, of course, there was the long-necked being from the faraway Umbar region. She couldn’t even begin to pronounce his name. It was some sort of odd combination of clicks and whines. People here called him The Braggart because that’s all he did. And it didn’t help that he had valid reasons for it. He was highly intelligent, a great fighter, and one of the best pilots this side of the galaxy.

What she hated more than these oafs, though, was having to play this crater-driven game. It never should have come to this. Never.

She grimaced as she picked up her five cards. One-by-one, she spread them out in a tight fan. Two one-eyed jacks seemed to wink at her. Then a five, a seven, and a ten. Well, at least the jacks gave her hand some promise.

She masked her rising hope as she threw in her bid and discarded two cards, keeping the jacks and the single ten. Keeping a straight face was apparently important in this game. Unintentionally expressing a tell could force a player bankrupt faster than a Mortovodian businessman.

None of the other players had a tell as far as her inexperience could see. At first, she thought Kefer-blah-blah was just trying to throw them off, but betting against his moods did no better than betting on them. Maybe his antennae picked up too many melodrama’s coming in off the entertainment stream.

Jerut scratched his nose this time. Was that a tell? And if so, did it mean he had a good hand or a bad one? His expression gave nothing away.

Craters, she hated this game. Poker was for low-level beings, beings who thought they could actually hit the jackpot through luck and deception.

But she was desperate, and not for the money. There was a whole lot more at stake here than the precious metal that her own people mined in spades. How in the hell did she get herself into this crater-driven mess, anyway?

She scowled over Jerut’s shoulder at her commanding officer who sat at the bar drinking some sort of vaporous liquid. To say Captain Terchini was a pilgarlic was a vast understatement. And it wasn’t just because of his bald head and pungent odor. It was with the way he thought so highly of himself despite being the most pathetic being in the galaxy.

No one took him seriously—that is no one but the league she served. His promotion to captain had to have been an act of pity on their part. After all, if it wasn’t for him, they wouldn’t have lost the Orb of Sharina to begin with.

That’s what she was playing for—the Orb of Sharina. Xir-bing had it and wouldn’t sell it. The crater-driven slug didn’t need it. It was a worthless trinket to everyone else but the League of Remnants. For the League, it meant the difference between life and death. Yet he refused to sell it to her. And it was all because of Terchini and his pitiful way of trying to strong-arm a creature with more brawn and surprisingly more brains.

Kefer-blah-blah passed out the next round of cards. She picked up her two, careful not to let the two creatures sitting on either side of her see them.

She unfolded her hand and her heart leapt. It was about time she got a winnable hand. She glanced quickly at the others. Hopefully, none of them noticed the sudden change in her emotions.

Xir-bing bet big. Jerut and the other two folded. It wasn’t the first time the slug had tricked her by placing such a large bet. She glanced over at him and gave him her dirtiest look yet. Her frown had two purposes. One, she wanted him to know how much she despised him. And two, she hoped to throw him off and make him think she had a terrible hand.

He laughed mockingly and threw in five more chips. “Call.”

Craters. She’d been hoping get him to go higher so she could get him to gamble the Orb.

She slapped down her hand. Two jacks and three tens. Xir-bing chuckled again and set down three aces and two twos.

Craters, craters, and more craters! She ground her teeth and swallowed down the bitterness rising from her throat. She hadn’t won a single hand against this slug and his constant smile and mocking noises were grating her nerves.

Something glistened from behind his bulbous ear, something that didn’t have the sheen of a worm to it. Her frown deepened as she stared intently.

The slug’s smile faded. His beady eyes bored into her as if in a challenge. She would have turned away had her curiosity not been so piqued.

“What is that?” she said in an accusatory tone.

“What? Nothing.” The slug’s wide mouth turned down and he squirmed in his seat.

“It is too something.” She stood. “I can see it.”

“No, it’s not! It’s not anything.”

She snatched at it. The slug was surprisingly fast in his attempt to stop her, but not fast enough. The item, whatever it was, came off easily. She stepped back and examined the small metallic thing in her hand.

The Braggart craned his long neck and looked at it too. He blinked his eyes a few times and then jumped to his feet. “It’s a mind-reader!”

“What!” Jerut barked as he slammed his fist down on the table.

Kefer-blah-blah’s buzz ripped through the room. It was so loud that she felt the vibration of it in her bones.

Xir-bing stood and pointed at her with his stubby extremity. “You had it in your hand all along! You only pretended it came from me, like some charlatan magic trick!”

If not for his panic-stricken expression, his accusation might have been believed.

Jerut stood so quickly that his chair fell. “Guards! Guards! Guards!” His words came out in yelps as he waved his hands, or paws, in the air. “Help! We’ve been hoodwinked.”

Xir-bing slid back with his fat stumpy feet. His little round eyes darted around, as though looking for an escape.

“Oh, no you don’t.” The Braggart grabbed Xir-bing’s round slimy arm.

Xir-bing struggled. The Braggart did some fancy move that she didn’t even know was possible. The slug fell to the floor with a big wet thwack.

Guards swooped in and one jabbed his shock-stick into the slug’s gut. Xir-bing howled in a sickly way that sounded like a cross between a crustacean in boiling water and a mastodon in distress.

She smiled. It’s just what the fat slug deserved. But her smile quickly faded. What about the Orb? How would she get it now? Craters.

*****

“Xir-bing!” she said in a sweet sing-song voice. It made her spirits dance to see the fat slug looking so distraught in his metal cage. “Poor little wittle Xir-bing-ling,” she added in mock pity. “Slugs don’t like small spaces, do they?”

Xir-bing’s wide mouth drooped and his bulbous head fell in shame.

A grin stretched across her face. The small space was bad enough but slugs disliked metal even more. It made them slip and slide everywhere no matter what form their wormy bodies tried to contort into.

“Didn’t your mother ever tell you that gambling never pays?” she said in a still-chipper tone as she stepped closer to the cage door. “And neither does cheating?”

“Xylerians don’t have mothers,” he replied in a defeated tone.

“Awe. That’s too bad. I guess you had to learn the hard way, huh?”

Xir-bing’s pallid skin turned red and his beady eyes suddenly flared. “You lost too. There’s no way you can get the Orb now.”

“Isn’t there?” she said in mock concern.

“It’s in my quarters and you can’t get it. It’s mine.”

“Now, now,” she replied as though talking to a naughty child. “That’s no way to talk to someone who has the means to bail you out of here.”

The neckless slug tilted his head in such a way that indicated she had his full attention.

“Remember the amount of Retonian metal I offered you for the Orb earlier?”

“Yes,” he said warily.

She tittered ironically. “Well, it just so happens that the amount you still owe for bail after all your accounts have been depleted is just half of that amount.”

His wide frown deepened. Apparently, he didn’t like where this was going. She was loving every moment of it.

“Anyway, I figured that if you tell me how to get the Orb, I will pay that amount and get you out of here. That is, of course, once I actually have the Orb in my hand and after you sign a document declaring me the rightful owner.”

Xir-bing’s body pulsed. There was no other word she could think of to describe it. One moment, he seemed to swell like a balloon, and the next he was back to his normal size. She supposed he was probably breathing heavily, but the slug had no nose—at least not a discernable one.

Her heart thumped in her chest as she tried to discern his emotion. Minutes passed, or it seemed like minutes, anyway.

Suddenly, he stood. “You Retonian pirate! You’ll never get that Orb. Never!”

She clenched her teeth. A boiling heat flushed through her body. “Fine.” She turned abruptly as though to leave.

“Wait!” he said with a hint of desperation in his voice.

A smile crept over her lips and she suppressed it before turning slowly back to him. “What?”

The slug pulsated again, but only a few times. “If I tell you how to get the Orb, how do I know you’ll actually bail me out?”

She cocked one of her eyebrows. “You don’t. But what choice do you have? The amount you need is more than you can obtain while sitting in this cell. Your winning personality leaves you with no friends to help you. Either you trust me and hope I keep my promise or you stay here and rot for the fifty days they say it will take for you to make up the rest of your bail money.”

Redness crept into his sickly pale skin again. And he held his breath, or whatever it was he did when he pulsated, so that his glutinous skin stretched to the point where it might pop.

She couldn’t help but to rub in some salt. “By that time, you will be nothing but a shriveled sack of skin.”

He deflated. “Fine. I’ll tell you.”

“Good. I’m glad we can work things out.” She pulled back her shoulders and gave him her best smile. “You realize, though, that if you had just sold me the Orb to begin with, you wouldn’t be in this mess? You’d have more money instead of none.”

His beady eyes turned to the floor.

“Gambling simply doesn’t pay,” she added. “And Retonians always get what they want.”

© September, 2017 by Dawn Ross

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Writing Exercise – Work

Posted in Other Stories with tags , , , , on March 11, 2017 by Dawn Ross

One of my writing group forums sets up a monthly writing challenge. It’s generally just a simple writing exercise turned into a contest. This month, it’s limited to only 75 words, not including the title, and the theme is work, either science fiction or fantasy-based. It only calls for one entry per person, but I couldn’t help but to practice with a couple more.

1.

Waste Management Engineer Personal Log

No one thinks about how much crap I gotta put up with. Literally. They think my job’s easy, like all I gotta do is make sure the crap dumped at one end goes out the other. C’mon folks! We’re in zero gravity space. It ain’t that simple. Then there’s also the scrubbing, scraping, plunging, flushing, and, oh-yeah, don’t forget about all the verbal crap spewing from the crew. Bunch o’ stools, I tell ya.

*****

2.

A Warrior’s Duty

Muscles quivered. Sweat dripped. Breath heaved.

His body was heavy, heavier than normal, like rocks were tied to his back and all his limbs. Even his eyelids felt heavy. He leaned onto the hilt of his sword, pressing its bloody blade into the hard earth, and tried to catch his breath.

It was over. They were dead. All of them. Even the children. He’d done what he had to. It was his job. His duty.

*****

Medieval Tapestry

3.

Plight of the Princess

The bottle warmed in her delicate hand. Her fingers caressed the smooth glass while her thumb stroked the grain of the cork stopper. Its clear liquid glistened like raindrops.

One swallow and she would be free of him. No more dutiful smiles or imposed silence. No more longing from the window as he ignored her by day then occasionally used her at night. Her misery would end.

All he had to do was drink it.

*****

Which one do you think I should enter? Would you like to write one as well? Feel free to write you own and post it here. I can’t enter it in the contest for you. But if you’re a member of SFFChronicles.com, you can enter it there.

Take Ten for Writers – Writing Exercise 01

Posted in Other Stories with tags , , , , on March 4, 2017 by Dawn Ross

Take Ten for Writers

This writing exercise is set in the year 3010. I have just completed my mission and need to send an update to my commanding officer. But the system only lets me send up to ten words. This will be my title. The story itself will be my personal log. The personal log has to begin with, “After a long…” and it has to contain the words, “blindingly bright” somewhere in it. Here it goes:

*****

55 Cancri e

Planet Celean Is Dead Thanks to the Bregonite Zealots

After a long month of interviews and interrogations, I have finally determined what I believe to have been the cause of the destruction of the planet Celean. The Bregonites started a nuclear war. Somehow, they infiltrated the Dominion of Sargon, accessed the secret nuclear control room, and set launched the warhead.

At first, I didn’t believe it was possible. Both the Dominion and the United Peoples have a myriad of checks, controls, and firewalls. But the Bregonites’ infiltration ran deep. And their zealotry and willingness to die was well beyond reason.

Of course, when the United Peoples’ capital city was struck, their leaders sought immediate retaliation. The Dominion barely had any time to figure out how it had all started. They tried to contact the United Peoples but they were either met with bureaucratic red tape or hostility. Their attempts to work together to find out what happened blew up in their faces… literally.

I arrived in time to see the final blow. It was blindingly bright and seemed to have encompassed the entire quarter of the northern hemisphere.

I admit, I was so angry at the breadth of this needless devastation that my interrogations were harsh; illegal even. Every Bregonite I’ve come across in this mission is now dead.

Some of the things I’ve done will give me nightmares. But the memory of the dead planet will haunt me for eternity. It will haunt all of you as well. No one will ever forget Celean. And hopefully, we’ve learned a valuable lesson and will never allow such an atrocity to happen again.

*****

It’s not the greatest short story ever. But keep in mind that this is just a rough draft and it was done in about ten minutes. The purpose of these writing exercises isn’t to write some great fantastic story. It is to trigger the imagination.

Try your own writing exercise based on this set up. Don’t worry about your writing skill. Don’t worry about plot or direction. Just write and explore and see where your mind will take you. And most importantly… Have fun!

 

(c) 2017 Dawn Ross

Building the Storyline to my Fantasy Novel

Posted in Other Stories, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 31, 2014 by Dawn Ross
Guardian of Destiny

The Guardian of Destiny by Dawn Ross (work in progress)

Last week I talked about how I came up with the character for my new fantasy novel, “The Guardian of Destiny”. Now let me tell you how I came up with the other characters and with the story itself.

Although I daydreamed Galavan’s childhood, this was not the story I wanted to write. I wanted an adult hero. So despite having his childhood in my head, not much of that childhood will be written in “The Guardian of Destiny”. I needed story ideas. This is where I could have perused through my journal or did some creative writing exercises. But I don’t think that is what I did to come up with this storyline. In fact, I don’t really remember where I got the idea from. I do know this:

I’ve noticed a trend with the characters in my daydreams. I’ve always developed my characters from childhood. It helps me define who they are as adults. It gives me their backstory and their motivations. So I knew I wanted a child in this book. What if instead of a boy, like Tomis in my Dukarian Legacy series, it was a girl? And what if she was half god? I think I got the idea of half-god from watching “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys“. Such a child would have extraordinary skills. But as a child, she would be vulnerable and she would need guidance. She would need a guardian.

Hercules The Legendary Journeys

Hercules and Iolaus from “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys” TV series, starring Kevin Sorbo and Michael Hurst.

There it was! Galavan would be the hero and the guardian of this girl-child half-god. And “The Guardian of Destiny” would be the title of the book. The title alone inspired the rest of the tale.

Now I had the hero and some of the supporting characters. Who is my antagonist? What is the setting? And most importantly, what is the plot?

Supporting Animal Characters
I was watching an old favorite movie, “The Beastmaster”, and thought it would be great if my character could communicate to animals somehow. I love animals and it sometimes surprises me on how much characters in fantasy novels take animals for granted. Horses are overworked. They perform amazing feats by doing whatever their rider says and carrying their riders wherever they want to go no matter how far or how fast. This is wholly unrealistic. Horses have personalities. They won’t always do what you want them to. And they can’t carry a rider forever. That is where I came up with the idea for Brute, a big flea-bitten gray warhorse with attitude and yet devotion to his master.

Flea Bitten Horse with Armor

Please forgive my photoshop skills. I copied and pasted horse armor onto a flea bitten gray horse.

After some deliberation, I decided there was another animal that could be of use to a soldier. A falcon would be great at scouting surrounding territory. A falcon could see an enemy before they arrive and could alert to dangers ahead. Such a creature would be very beneficial to a soldier who was able communicate with animals.

White Falcon

Wouldnt this falcon make a great assistant to a soldier who needs to scout ahead for the enemy?

The Setting
It’s not enough to know my character is a soldier. I needed to know what he was a soldier for and why. Was he a simple castle guard? Did he work for a particular lord? Was he a soldier for a religious sect? Did he defend against a particular enemy? Did he defend a border or territory? I eventually settled on a soldier guarding a border. The need to defend a border meant there were enemies to protect it from, and therefore, antagonists.

Developing the Antagonist
If one of my heroes is a half-god, then it would stand to reason that her enemy is either another half-god, or even a god. Biblical stories came to mind where fallen angels came to live on earth amongst men. The angels were envious of the lives of mankind. We appeared to be free to do whatever we wanted whereas they were directly subservient to God. And this is where I developed Dorovan. He is the son of a god that had chosen to live among men because he disagreed with his father and craved worship and domination.

Enchanting Dark Fantasy Digitalart by Ramses Melendeze

Enchanting Dark Fantasy Digitalart by Ramses Melendeze – Copied from http://hangaroundtheweb.com/2012/07/enchanting-dark-fantasy-digitalart-by-ramses-melendeze/ Bing free to share and use.

Developing the Plot
It seems now, that I have everything I need to write a story… that is, everything but a plot. If I have a hero who protects a half-god child from a full god/fallen angel, I need to consider how this child is a threat to a god. I needed to consider the god himself, too, the extent of his powers and his motivations.

How can a half-god be a threat to a full god? What could possibly limit a full god from being able to completely annihilate a mere mortal and half-breed with just the force of his will? Obviously, Dorovan had to have limitations. By choosing to live among mortals, he lost some, but not all, of his godly power. His motivation is that he wants his power back while at the same time keeping his status on earth as a corporeal being. Somehow this half-god child, I named her Adella, is the key to his ambitions.

Child Woman Silhouette

This girl-child half-god needs a guardian in order to help her survive while she learns to control her enormous powers.

Continuing to daydream on the plot, I finally developed the story in full. My journal and writing exercises played a key part in coming up with more ideas for this story, as did external stimuli of movies, books, and music. More characters came into the story and the setting came alive. The plot developed and stabilized. I’m not going to tell you that now. You will just have to wait to read the book. Perhaps I will share parts of the story with you later.

The Idea for The Guardian of Destiny – Part I

Posted in Other Stories, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 24, 2014 by Dawn Ross
Guardian of Destiny

The Guardian of Destiny by Dawn Ross (work in progress)

In my previous two posts, I gave you tips on ways you can come up with your own story ideas and tips on how you can create your own fantasy world. Now, I’m going to tell you how I implemented my own advice to come up with the story for my novel-in -progress, “The Guardian of Destiny”.

How My Character Came to Be

I was daydreaming as usual. I realized I kept daydreaming the same characters from The Dukarian Legacy and was getting bored with them. I needed a new inspiration and a new story. It was about the time the movies for the Lord of The Rings had come out. I’ve always loved J.R.R. Tolkien and his stories on Middle Earth. So it is not surprising to know I watched the movies with great fascination. No, I didn’t dress up and wait in line in the middle of the night just to see the first showings. But I would have if I had the money for a costume and a friend with the same passion.

One of my favorite characters was Eomer of Rohan. “I would cut of your head, Dwarf, if it stood but a bit higher from the ground.” “I do not doubt his heart, only the reach of his arm.” *swoon* Seeing him, I knew he was going to me the person I pictured as the hero in my next book. Incidentally, I also remembered Karl Urban from the television series, “Xena” where he played Cupid and Julius Caesar.

Karl Urban - Eomer de Lord Of The Rings trilogy

Karl Urban as Eomer in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy.

Karl Urban Caesar

Karl Urban as Caesar in Xena the Worrior Princess series.

karl-urban-in-xena-warrior-princess

Karl Urban as Cupid in Xena the Warrior Princess series.

Developing My Character and His Story

Now that I had an image of a person in my head, I needed to develop his character. I did not use Eomer’s character. I wanted one all my own. Without having an actual story in mind, I daydreamed this character from his childhood. I knew I wanted him to be an elite soldier with humble beginnings, so how does such a lowly child come to be such a soldier? What if he was born into the military somehow? His mom was a camp follower. His father is unknown but can be guessed.

Only two things could give a soldier a high rank… being born into nobility (easy to move up) or having exceptional skill (difficult to move up). Since my character had humble beginnings, only his skill could exalt him. I love it when heroes rise above adversity to become something better. So what were his skills and how did they end up being noticed? I daydreamed my character’s childhood, from his upbringing in a soldier camp, to his love for his mother, to his desire to be recognized by his supposed father, and to his adversaries who did not think it was right for a bastard to be anything more than a camp servant.

Naming My Character

In the process of developing my character, I had to give him a name. I don’t remember how, but I thought of the name Galavan. Perhaps because it reminded me of the phrase ‘gallivanting around’. Although I do not intend for my character to be the kind to ‘gallivant’, the name stuck. And once a name sticks to a certain character, it is difficult for me to change it.

“A Dog’s Christmas Story” by Dawn Ross

Posted in Other Stories with tags , on December 24, 2011 by Dawn Ross

"A Dog's Christmas Story" by Dawn Ross

Some time ago I write a story for Christmas. It is not a literary masterpiece. It is just a touching story about a dog finding a family for Christmas. Click HERE to visit my American Dog Blog to read “A Dog’s Christmas Story“.

Two Excerpts from “The Dukarian Legacy” Trilogy

Posted in Other Stories with tags on September 3, 2011 by Dawn Ross

I am still working on getting my book published.  It is not that it is difficult.  I am procrastinating because I am afraid that my book is not good enough.  As I read other fantasy novels and read reviews about that online, I realize that my writing and my story are highly inadequate.  But that is another blog post.

For now, I have linked to two new excerpts from my books.  The excerpts are right here on this very blog.  You can click one of the links under “Pages” on the right or click below:


The Red Moon Eclipse” is an excerpt from “The Third Dragon – Book One of the Dukarian Legacy”.  As the red moon crawls across the sky and covers the son, many of the primary characters of “The Third Dragon” watch as prophecy comes to life.  Some see it as an evil omen while others believe it heralds good things to come.  Whether it portends good or evil depends on where you stand.

Colors of Destiny” is an excerpt from “The Dragon and the Lion – Book Three of the Dukarian Legacy” by Dawn Ross.  Mirella has a magical gift for seeing people for who they really are.  Her eyes can see the colors of their soul.  She knows if they are honest or deceivers, if they are kind or cruel, and if they are destined to do great things.  In this excerpt, Mirella is walking through the city and comparing the auras of the people she sees to the people she knows.  And what she sees is the truth that no one else knows.