Alright everybody, here are the results of the Fanon Con Creative Writing Competition! Even though most of the competitors either dropped out or failed to deliver, we still got a couple pretty good entries. Choosing between them was actually pretty difficult. Anyways, let's get on with the rankings!
Farming is not a difficult life. In the Golden Reefs of the Qortzan System, one harvest will set me up for months. As an Orishan, I can stay underwater and catch fish for as long as I please. The hard part is selling it. Plenty of pirates around these parts. But if there’s one thing sturdier than Orishan biology, it’s Prypiatosian engineering. So for the most part selling it isn’t that hard either.
The Golden Reefs are well named. An abundance of gold here means that the coral is all lined with actual real gold. Too bad gold itself doesn’t hold much value around these parts. I could make a lot of money if I took it to the Sagittarius Galaxy, but I have some bad memories there so that’s not an option for me. Doesn’t matter. The fish here are rare and valuable, dead or alive. All I have to do is catch them.
A net launcher and a propulsion pack are all I need. Getting to the cave systems beneath the mountain island I call home takes just five minutes. Harvesting Argentum Pearls is a great way to pass the time waiting for some bigger game to show up, they don’t sell for much raw but artists like to buy them in bulk so they’re worth it in large quantities. My net launcher doesn’t just fire regular nets either, it fires specialised capture mechanisms that float to the surface once they’ve snared something. I can stay down here and capture wildlife for as long as I need.
When I’m done I just swim to the surface. I’ll get a boat later that I can use to track any of the packages that don’t drift ashore. But for now, it’s just a climb up a small cliff and…
...And who the hell are you?
Golem: “I’m looking for some people to fight in a war.”
Bivalvan: “So you’re recruiting?”
Golem: “Sort of.”
Bivalvan: “Who are you?”
Golem: “I’m the Timekiller.”
Bivalvan: “...What are you?”
Timekiller: “Unimportant. Will you join me?”
Bivalvan: “For an army? I’m no one’s soldier.”
Timekiller: “I can appreciate that, Bivalvan.”
Bivalvan: “How do you know my name?”
Timekiller: “I travel. A lot. And I noticed that you’ve been near someone that I have a great deal of interest in. On an unrelated note, tell me; what do you know of the Heaven Wars?”
Bivalvan: “The entire Sagittarius Galaxy at war with itself, a thousand worlds on fire. The war to end all wars.”
Timekiller: “Anything else?”
Bivalvan: “What would a farmer in the Messier Galaxy need to know anything more about the Heaven Wars for?”
Timekiller: “Okay, first of all: We call it the Andromeda Galaxy. Secondly, you really should brush up on your history. Otherwise you might not know what these are...”
The key upon Timekiller’s head begins to turn. With a blue flash, two purple clad humanoid aliens appear. One is a pink crystalloid with cracked skin, the other a tall green figure with tentacles protruding from his face and strange ribbed arms. A Petrosapien and Chimeran respectively. Bivalvan looks at them blankly, his crustacean face unable to portray his confusion.
Timekiller: “Time Breakers, before you ask. Here to help convince you to reconsider.”
Bivalvan places his left foot behind his right and feels for the edge of the cliff.
Timekiller: “I really think you should weigh your options here.”
Bivalvan: “Why me? What makes me more important to you than any other Orishan?”
Timekiller: “Like I said, you've been near someone that I have an interest in.”
Bivalvan: “Aggregor? He'd never fight for you.”
Timekiller: “Oh I have no interest in the Rooter experiment. Who I'm looking for is human.”
Bivalvan: “You're in the wrong Galaxy. And besides, I doubt he'd want to help a being that goes around bullying farmers.”
Timekiller: “Ah-ha hahaha! I don't want his help! I want him dead!”
Bivalvan’s stance changes as he prepares to pounce, crossing his arms defensively in front of himself.
Bivalvan: “I'd never help you kill Ben Tennyson! I'd sooner die!”
Timekiller: “If it's any consolation, you're right.”
Bivalvan jumps backwards, pointing his arms straight down and propelling himself over the edge of the cliff with two jets of water before stopping dead. His torrents of water are frozen as he hovers in the air, unmoving. The key in Timekiller’s head is spinning gently again. He turns to his left to address the green figure.
Timekiller: “Chronal Point, bring him back.”
Chronal Point: “I obey.”
The Chimeran’s voice is grizzled, coarse and rough. He walks over to the frozen diorama that Bivalvan has become a part of. He stands in between the two frozen jets of water before his arms split instantly into more than a dozen long writhing tentacles. He flexes his new tentacles upwards, shattering the unmoving streams of water into thousands of razor-sharp droplets. The tendrils then stretch out over the edge of the cliff and wrap themselves around Bivalvan, pulling him back towards the trio. Timekiller steps aside, before allowing time to resume. Bivalvan struggles in the grasp of the Time Breaker, jets of water spraying out of his hands inertly. His arms held down, he is unable to move and his streams of water cease.
Timekiller: “You can stop struggling.”
Bivalvan: “Let me GO!”
Timekiller: “Now why would I do that?”
Bivalvan: “I will NEVER help you!”
Timekiller: “Your consent really isn’t a factor. You think these two wanted to fight for me? Do you even know who’s holding you right now? Vilgax the Conqueror. Single-handedly responsible for expanding the Chimeran empire over 10 star systems. And now he is totally subservient to me. The Chronal Point Time Breaker - Time Breaker Vilgax!”
Bivalvan: “And you’re going to turn me into one of them?”
Timekiller: “Yes. And if you’d complied sooner, I would’ve let you keep your free will too. Oh well.”
Timekiller turns to the motionless Petrosapien Time Breaker.
Timekiller: “Endless Pursuit. Put him to sleep.”
Bivalvan panics and struggles, trying to break free from the Chimeran’s grasp as the Petrosapien begins to move towards him. When the Petrosapien gets within a few feet, the Orishan stops struggling. He looks towards the Time Breaker in anticipation. The crystalloid pulls back before throwing his right fist towards Bivalvan’s face. Bivalvan attempts to close his grey shell mask over his face, but he is too slow and the Time Breaker strikes him anyway. Bivalvan collapses, falling limp but being held up by Vilgax’s tentacles.
Timekiller walks over to Bivalvan and kneels down in front of him.
Timekiller: “Any last remarks?”
Timekiller: “I thought not. Let’s go.”
Timekiller’s key spins up once more, generating a blue portal in front of the group. Timekiller steps through first, followed by Vilgax carrying Bivalvan, then the Petrosapien. The portal closes. It begins to rain harder. The waves continue to crash into the island, some bringing the trapped creatures from today’s hunt with them. Thunder can be heard distantly. The population of Qortzan is now zero.
This is a fairly well-written entry, and for the most part I'd say it's probably on the same level as the first-place winner; however, someone's gotta win and someone's gotta lose, and as far as problems go, neither story had very many, but there were more parts in this entry that felt just plain awkward. Good effort nonetheless.
The world is not a nice place. MY world is not a nice place. My family and I have been settlers and farmers here for so many solar cycles that I've lost count. Keeping track wasn't doing me any good anyway. My mate was right when she said keeping track of numbers every hour of every cycle would drive me mad.
Some people call this place Hell. I feel like that's a little extreme. The Plumbers know of us, but they still call this place the Null Void.
My family calls it home. It's the only name that sounds right.
My children Gham and Rodin were out processing our Ground and Crystal Root, and my mate Lup walked alongside me, Drek, as we carried along the Blood Root in a basket back to our village. Yes, there were lots of roots. But in our Home, we must take advantage of what we can. I never meant for my family to end up here, farming roots and tending to fields. But life, for quite possibly every being in the universe, is tricky like that. And sometimes-
“Drek, my love. Snap out of those deep thoughts of yours and talk to me!”
Lup always brings me back down to Earth after such a deep contemplation. I'm quite fortunate to have her. We talked for the rest of the trek back from our fields, across the boulders that float, static in the air. Deeper red skies here in our Home signify that the evening has arrived, and this evening proved to be special. A special guest that has come to visit our village more and more lately has told our chief of a holiday called “Giving Thanks?” Or was it “Thanks Giving?” Ah, no matter. Our chiefs decided we had enough resources for a celebratory feast, and this holiday was excitedly brought to their attention to the foreigner. So a decree was made that every family would harvest a small portion of their crop and join in the center for a rousing supper. Smiles wouldn’t leave our faces as hurried through the entrance of our village towards our chief’s tent. But Gham and Rodin came running our way, smiles replaced with grimaces of fear. Something was wrong.
“Father! Mother! Criminals have escaped from the prison!” Gham yelled from down the road.
Lup and I dropped our harvest and all 4 of us ran for the village. “Rodin, when did this start?!” I yelled over to my other sun. His breath was quickened and he panted through each word. “Not...too...long...ago! They must’ve...saw us bringing in all of this food...and decided to try and take it for themselves!” We finally made it to our village, only to find it utterly ransacked. The huts our eyes met were of Alpha Section and were devastated all around us, crumbled to pieces by flames, physical attacks, viscous slimes, and other means. I saw no fellow villagers, but this could’ve been good or bad. I signaled my family to head east, towards the Beta Section huts. From the looks of it, those huts, along with ours, hadn’t been touched. We quickly reached our abode, frantically unearthing our weapons from hidden holes all around. It was not much. A simple farming scythe from our living room, two blades from a decorative vase, and two dense irrigation pipes, one for both of my sons. It broke my heart seeing my family arm themselves, each taking off their work hats one by one. Truthfully, we are a peaceful race. We fight when we must, but it is a risk every time. We are farmers, not warriors. But our village is unified. Men, women and children alike would take up arms to protect the village, its resources and its elders and infants. Though we are all not related, the bond sewn throughout this village is strong, and we will never leave one another behind.
My family and I hurried outside, and I pressed my forehead to each of theirs. I stepped back, looking into each of their eyes and made a fist to my chest. “I love you all. Be safe. Stay alive.” They made the same fist back and responded back to me. “We love you. Be safe. Stay alive.”
Suddenly a curious sound made itself apparent, and we all turned back to back, weapons at the ready. Amongst the sound of wreckage and fire farther in the center were...the sounds of beating wings. And maniacal, terrifying laughter. Looking to the skies, we all laid eyes on a squadron of 6-8 Lepidopterrans, buzzing about in a triangle formation. One in the front released a piercing screech, and each began to fire bullet after bullet of acidic spit. “BACK IN THE HOUSE!”, I yelled to my family, and all 4 of us pushed into the door. Falling to the floor, I covered all three of them as the attack pelted our roof. Dust and bits of stone crumbled down until the attack had stopped. A putrid smell had begun to overtake our senses, and a glance upwards saw the house’s structural integrity being melted by the lethal substance. We all stood and ran for the back entrance, pushing out into the alley and coughing violently. Our hut was in ruins, disintegrating into nothingness before us, but we had to keep moving. I pulled them up one by one, and pushed them to get going in the alley. “We stay together!!!”, I yelled to them.
We all began to head for the center, going the long way and weaving in between houses as to avoid the Lepidopterrans. The buzzing was heard again, along with that loud screech. No time to think. I pushed Lup and Rodin to the side, and grabbed Gham as we fell to either side of the alley, underneath the thin shade of two hut roofs. Just barely shielded enough to avoid the attack, another wave of acid ripped up the gravel of the road we traveled on. I nodded to Lup and Rodin, who gave a nod back. I pulled Gham up and we all continued on as the Lepidopterrans began to pull up for another circle back. “Can we keep holding them off like this?”, Rodin yelled to me. I couldn’t answer back; I wasn’t certain myself. We kept traveling under the rooftops until we made it to the edge of Alpha Section, where just a quick scaling up a wall would lead us into the main section, where our village was containing most of the fighting. But with a squadron of Lepidopterrans trying to kill us, staying in plain sight wasn’t the best idea.
All 4 of us scrambled for the rock wall, with Lup and I stopping to make footholds for our children. Gham and Rodin leaped up off of our hands, and scrambled up as the criminals up above reached the top of our swoop. I ran over to Lup and helped her up just as fast, making sure she made it up before I made my attempt. I latched onto the wall quickly and began to hastily scale up, but the horrid sounds of beating wings and strained screeching shot panic through my heart, with me only halfway up. “Run! Go, now!” I yelled up to my mate and sons. “Father, no! We won’t leave you!” Gham yelled down, reaching for my hands. He was just out of reach. I waved back up at them. “THAT’S NOT UP FOR DISCUSSION! YOU ALL LEAVE, NOW!” Lup pulled my sons by their shoulders with tears in her eyes, and I watched them disappear behind the cliff face. I turned back to the sound of acid hitting stone, and watched in terror as the squadron sped towards me. I clenched the stone in my hands and shut my eyes tight, waiting for the inevitable. I wished for my family’s safety, keeping their faces in my thoughts as the criminals flew closer and closer.
Null Guardians had arrived.
From past the cliff face, 4 of the grey, many toothed angels, all side by side, began to fire blazing hot beams of energy that completely wiped out every Lepidopterran in their path. My attackers were completely incinerated, leaving me stunned. I took a breath, and continued up the wall to see my mate and sons, hidden in the wreckage of another hut. We all embraced in a tearful group hug, holding each other in the tightest grips we could provide. The Guardians circled around, and as they approached, we could see...riders. Other beings in brown cloth robes had tamed these amazing beasts, and one of them extended his hand as they pulled around next to us.
“Is everyone okay? I’m sorry for the trouble, this Thanksgiving isn’t turning out as good as I wanted it too. We won’t leave you here to fend for yourselves. Hop on, we have a mess to clean up.”
“All that matters is that there were no deaths today, thanks to you all. You’ve already been such an incredible help keeping watch over our village for the past few cycles. I must ask. What are your names?”
All of the riders finally took off their hoods.
“This is Manny Armstrong, Helen and Pierce Wheels, and usually these three call me The Wrench. But if you and your village can keep tight lips, you can call me Max.”
The two shook hands as we all looked on.
“Now what do you say about us seeing what we can salvage from the crop we’ve all gathered? I’ll be the first to tell you that you’re gonna LOVE my new recipe I’ve brought along: pink pygmy squishers, raw and still squishing! Enough for everybody!” The chief began to walk with Max towards more people in the center while his team followed behind them, all wearing disgusted, yet accepting faces, prompting chuckles out of my family. I hugged Lup, Rodin and Gham tight and smiled.
It might not have been my first choice, but this is our Home; this is MY Home.
Aside from just being well-written, I also love how this entry gave a unique point of view in the Ben 10 universe that most people wouldn't even think of using, much less going into this much detail about it. This is a quality short story, and even though it was a tough decision, I'm thoroughly convinced that this entry deserves to be on the top of the (admittedly short) list.
Alright everybody, that wraps up the first contest for Fall Fanon Con! We've got a lot more cool stuff headed your way over the week, so make sure to tune in every day for exciting new content! Thank you to everyone who participated in this contest, and I hope everyone has a great time at the rest of Fanon Con!