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Welcome, one and all, to the second day of Winter Fanon Con! I'm your host, CaT, bringing you the results for the Creative Writing Contest! This season's theme was "Nature". Let's see how our contestants did!

Second Place

Brandon's Entry
Survival

A web-cast series by William Lawerance


Prologue

Is it on?
Uh- I dunno.
What do you mean, you don't know? How the heck am I supposed to be shooting a series without a functional camera.
Just give me a second, will ya?

Several clanking noises can be heard beyond the muffled darkness.

Well?
Alright, I- I think I got it.

As the secondary voice says this, a static appears until it soon fades, now showing the faces of two Humans dressed in safari outfits. One of which has a brown, fuzzy-looking mustache and an aged look while the other is younger, wearing black-framed glasses, showcasing his squinty blue eyes.

Younger Person: There, got it.

Older Man: About time, Jimbo.

"Jimbo": It's Garry, actually, Mr. Lawrence.

William: Remind me why they sent some intern with me again.

Garry: No offense, sir. But ratings have not been well up there. Planetary Studios is about to pull the budget of this project of yours and unfortunately I was the only one that they could afford to send here to accompany you.

William: Unfortunately?

Garry: For you- I mean! Unfortunately for you. As in you're stuck with me.

William: Mhm. You know- Larry-

Garry: G-Garry, sir.

William, ignoring him: I had many adventures on this series, and it's gained plenty of viewers as well. Especially in the Wilderness Years. Back then, they wouldn't mind the budget so long as I got them their ratings and I did- we did. Me and Hannah. Always Hannah, I tell you. Hannah was the best assistant a survivalist can ask for. Not some scrawny-looking kid who just got out of High School.

Garry: I'm in my second-year of college, sir. And, as much I hate to admit it, I'm certain the viewers were mainly only there for Hannah. When she got offered a deal by that rival studio, the ratings went down for us and up for them. And then the budget went down and that's where we are now.

William: Bah! I'll show you- and I'll show them too. We don't need Hannah for this adventure. And believe me when I tell you, this place- heh, this place will get us the ratings the studios want. And then the budget will be pouring down and I'll be the one on their billboards and pamphlets instead of Captain Wallaby.

Garry: That's not his- never mind.

William: Come on, let's get a move on before it starts getting late.

Garry grabs the camera and William approaches a truck parked close a ledge. Just past the ledge, a large forest can be seen extending into the horizon.

Garry: Where are we, anyways?

William: Don't worry about it. It's just a forest.

William turns his head, seeing the camera.

William: That thing off?

Garry: No. You were just telling me to get it working.

William: Alright, well- make sure this part stays out of editing. You got it?

Garry: Yes- (break) Yeah, I got it.

William: Good. So this place we're going to, I've heard some rumors for this source I know. Good stuff around here.

Garry: Mr. Lawrence, this is- legal, right?

William: Of course, it's legal. It's just a forest, calm down. I'm just saying- there's something in that forest that'll make this whole survival thing more of an experience of us. That's what them studios like. Some big experience that'll sink the viewers in.

Garry: Is it safe?

William: Of course, it's safe. Look- we got a crew, right?

Garry: Yeah, of like seven guys or something.

William: Yeah, it's their job to keep us safe. It'll be fine, alright?

Garry: Uh, yeah. Okay. Yeah, it'll be fine.

Day One: The Arrival

The inside of the truck is now the setting. William can be seen driving the truck through the forest. The camera turns, showing the outside of the passenger window.

William: Are you rolling?

Garry: Hang on, let me check. Uh- yeah, yeah- we're rolling.

William: Gosh, turn it to me- to me!

Garry turns the camera so it now shows William.

William: How do you do, fellow survivalists. This is William Lawrence, the man with the plan, here. Now you might have been expecting me, the great hunter and survivalist, to travel the world in search of the most dangerous places. But little did you know, the most dangerous place of all could be the most simplest of places. That's right, we're going to survive a forest but not just any ol' forest. According the legends, this forest is haunted.

Garry: Wait- haunted?

William: Eh- yeah, haunted. Many scientific sources have come to us with news about this forest, with rumors and legends and tales and what-not about strange occurances but we've handled stranger things haven't we, Terry?

Garry: (sigh) Yeah, yeah we have.

William: Good show! That's exactly what they want to hear.

Static.

William: Almost there.

William is seen walking down a mud track, deeper into the forest. They start to pass by some government signs and barriers. The camera turns to view them as they continue moving past them.

Garry, from behind the camera: Are you sure about this? Those looked official.

William: Come on, Larry- we're certified to be out here. Nothing's going to happen except the adventure of a lifetime.

The camera turns back, to show William continuing to walk forward. It turns slightly more to show the production crew scouting ahead of them. A mist appears to make them less noticible.

William, muttering to himself: Where the heck is this place anyways?

Garry, turning to William: What was that?

William: Nothing- Nothing, just- look around, why don't ya? That's a good tip for any fresh survivalist. Get a good view of your surroundings, make sure you're properly aided before exploring then conquer the wilderness like nature intended it.

Garry: Don't you think nature wants to be left alone, Mr. Lawrence?

William: Nonsense. We were made to explore. So what if a few twigs and branches get in our-

A snapping noise is heard from behind. The camera turns quickly around to show a dense shrub.

Garry: W-What was that?

William: Nothing. Must have been the wild life around here.

Garry: What type of wild life is that exactly?

William: Kenny, you worry too much.

The camera turns back to William, who continues walking ahead still.

Garry: It's- It's Garry, sir.

William: That's what I said.

They continue walking for a moment before the camera turns slightly to where the production crew have been. The mist is thicker than before, making the crew practically unseen.

Garry: Hey, where's the crew?

William: Nevermind them, they're probably scouting ahead. Looking for a good place to set up. That's all the technical stuff, you see. The real adventure is out here in the wilderness.

The mist then closer as the two approach it. They then walk into the mist, their surroundings are now covered by this smokey, light-green, fog.

Garry: I can't see a thing out here. Are you sure this is a forest and not a swamp?

Willilam: What does it matter? Adventure isn't bound by any place.

Garry: Must you always talk about adventure. I could use some practical common sense right now.

William: ...You know, silence is sometimes required in order to grasp one's bearings.

A sigh can be heard from behind the camera followed by silence with only the sound of their steps against the mud being heard. As they continue walking forward, a camera shakes slightly followed by a grunt.

William: What is it now?

Garry: I nearly tripped out here.

William: Just watch your step next time. There seems to be a lot of rocks around here.

They continue moving forwards until the sound of a step is changed from one against the mud to one against something else, something soft-like. The camera leans down, showing a faint shadow on the ground.

William: Are you coming or what?

Garry: There's something down here.

William: Another rock. You already told m-

Garry: No, it's not a rock. It's sorta soft, feels like a- I don't know- like there's something here.

William: Maybe one of the crew dropped something, we mustn't really discuss the technical things. It's not really up our alley.

A moment passes with an arm reaching out from behind the camera, it now wobbiling slightly without its full support. The arm reaches for the faint shadow.

William: Look, I think the fog is starting to clear up. Come on, I thought I saw a light shine this way. Must be the others.

The arm reaches onto the faint shadow, feeling it.

Garry: Sir, I think there's a guy here.

William: What?

Garry: He must have fallen or something. Help me get him up.

The camera leans up slightly, showing William move through the fading mist to approach them. A faint groan is then heard from below. The camera leans back down, showing the faint shadow move slightly through the mist. The mist continues clearing, making the shadow appear more humanoid and solid.

Garry: Don't worry, we're going to help you up from there.

Person: Sr-Ru-nrgh...

William: What's he saying?

Garry: I don't know. Maybe he's got a concussion or-

The arm from behind the camera reaches for the person but feels something else instead.

Garry: Hang on, there's something.

The mist completely clears as the person on the ground can now be seen as a member of the production crew with a spike impaled in his chest. Upon seeing this, Garry flinches back. Heavy breaths can be heard from behind the camera.

William: Oh my-

Garry: We- We need to get out of here. We need to call for help and-

William: Look at me, look at me.

The camera turns, showing William grabbing Garry by his shoulders and looking right at him.

William: You need to keep it together. We're fine that's what matters.

Garry: There's a guy right there!

William: We'll deal with it. Right now we need to keep our heads straight. We're too far from the truck and even if we reach it, there's no cell service out here for some reason. Now, some of the production crew carry with first-aid kits, if we track them down we should be able to help this man.

Garry: Okay... Okay. Yeah. That makes sense.

William: Of course it does. Come on, I think saw a light shine over there.

Garry: Alright, I'm right behind you.

The camera straightens as if it has gained a better grasp onto itself. William is seen moving ahead before the camera as he enters a large opening within a tree. A bright, green light can now be seen at the end of the tunnel.

William: You see it?

Garry: Yeah- Yeah, I do.

William: They should just be up ahead.

The two of them continue approaching the light until the sound of the tree around them creaking and shifting is heard. The camera reacts with constant turning until it turns to look behind, the exit is now gone, replaced with tree.

Garry: The way out- it- it's gone!

William: Must be an old tree. Don't worry, I have a knife on me. It should be able to cut through the bark that dropped down.

Garry, hesitantly: Okay...

The camera turns back with a static taking over momentarily. Once it has faded away, the two of them are now closer to the light.

Garry: I don't think that light belongs to a member of the production crew.

William: No... I don't think so either.

The two of them then enter, what looks like a wooden chamber, shaped from the inside of the tree. At its center, there is a bright, green light shaped in a circular and tall position. The camera turns, showing several doorways to other tunnels leading to this chamber.

Garry: Where are we?

William: This must be it. This is what my source was telling me about.

Garry: Are you kidding me? You knew about this?

William: I didn't know what exactly it was but- I mean, look at it. This is the kinda of stuff that should be on TV. This is the kind of stuff that people want us survivalist to explore.

Garry: You didn't do this for exploration. You did it for exploitation. You want nothing but the fame and wealth that comes from discovering this place but you didn't even care about the risks we're taking.

William: Do you have any idea who you're talking to?

Garry: Sir- no... William, you are probably the dumbest and most selfish person I've ever met. This might feel like a piece of nature but this-

A arm points out from behind the camera, pointing at the green light.

Garry: This isn't natural.

William: (sighs) Okay, you're right. Doing this for the ratings was stupid. I- I see that now but we can still make this work. If we just-

A faint growl is then heard followed by another form of static.

Garry: Wha- (static) -ppening!

The static continues, showing only shot cuts of what's occuring- with green figures moving out of the tunnels, approaching the two of them.

William: Garry!

As the static clears, a dark green one-eyed plant creature with flaps on its shoulders can be seen launching out towards the camera, creating more static upon impact. After a long moment of nothing but static and several distorted noises, the image comes back- now showing the camera tilted and leaning against some vegetation. In the foreground, there is a pair of black-framed glasses in some form of green sap on the edge. The background shows a lush green world of plants with towers made up of vines and a waterfall close to the horizon. One of the creatures crawls out of the woodwork, stretching its arms out, only to get pierced by a primitive-looking spear. A figure then jumps down from the trees, landing on the vine floor and turns to the camera. It approaches the camera, showing more of the figure- he is dressed in some kind of outfit made from several types of vegetation with remnants of a safari outfits patched together. He kneels down, grabbing the camera and lifting it up. The camera can now view the man's face- revealing him to be William, who appears to have grown a beard now and looks either older or incredibly worn out. He sighs as he looks past the camera.

William: I'm sorry, Garry. I should have known better. I just- (sigh) I should have just known...

A moment passes before unusual sounds that to occur from the side of the camera, similar to the distorted ones from an earlier time. William steps up, with the camera, which camera follows occurring to his movements. He holds the camera upwards in his hand as he backs up, it can only show his face as he's looking in front of him. The sound of steps approaching and gear clanking together can be heard from a close distance.

Voice: Hold! (break) Secure the area outside of the portal.

Another Voice: Yes, sir.

William: Wh- Who are you people?

Voice: I'm with a specialized division of the government. It looks like you've been ignoring some of our warnings. This is classified and extremely dangerous location that you- (pause) My apologies... you two have found here. Is there anyone else with you?

William: The crew- they're uh- they're not... alive anymore.

Voice: I see. You're the only survivor.

William: Yes... I just- I can't believe you're actually here to save me from this place.

Voice: This place is under our jurisdiction now. Everything in this area will be contained.

A weapon can be heard cocking. William looks down slightly, looking rather anxious.

William: What are you doing?

Voice: I said everything in this area will be contained.

A shot then goes off and William is stunned by a blast from the weapon. He drops down, with the camera going down along with him. It clatters against the ground, turning towards the green light ahead. Before the green light are several soldiers, the boots of a man and the arm from earlier, just out of reach from the glasses. The boots approach the camera and lift it upwards until the man's face comes into view, showing him to be a stern-looking man with blonde, short-cut hair with a scar over his left eye.

Lt. Steel: Take the subjects to Area 51 for containment. Squadron Beta, make sure we don't get any more of those walking weeds on our tail and Squadron Cobra, follow my lead. The only way we're stopping those spores from spreading across the Earth is somewhere on this planet and we're going to find it, no matter what gets in our way. Ready yourselves, men. We're about to take down Mother Nature herself.

Lt. Steel tosses the camera back and it falls into the hands on a SACT soldier. He looks down at the lens then turns it forwards, showing some other soldiers ahead and Lt. Steel reloading his blaster. Ahead of them in a sanctum made up of vegetation, rooted into surrounding vine towers. A distant roar is then heard emitting from the plant sanctum.

Lt. Steel, turning back to face his men: Welcome to Flors Verdance, gentlemen.

Static then overcomes the view completely until a government label appears showing the name of the footage, the date it was recovered and where it is being stored. Afterwards, the label fades and the footage comes to an end.

I get what you're trying to do here, and it's not bad at all, really, but there's not much substance to it, and some of the writing seems very confused.

First Place

Aaron's Entry
130px-TV-14_icon.svg.png
TV-14

LV
This content contains material that may be unsuitable for children age 14 and below.



[Your grandparents have been gone for a while now, visiting the solar markets a few systems over while they’re open, and they promise to be a few hours more. You decide to go rummaging through their stuff. Dusty clothes, trinkets from that one time they visited Khoros, irreplaceable photo albums of you when you were a baby, and other such trash that you toss aside without much care. Near the bottom of the pile is a holodeck VR recording labelled simply ‘CRANVIUS’ in rather scruffy permanent marker. To you, Cranvius is a strange little planet you once read about in history class. It was a place where, during the Heaven Wars of old, the dead would be dumped as to save time burying them wherever people might actually object to stumbling upon half-buried bodies. Always a sucker for that old shit, you head over to your Grandfather’s rickety old holodeck and insert the disk before stepping inside.]

[The walls are a bright white as the playback begins. The logo of the Betelgeuse Broadcasting Corporation fades onto screen, the letters each being cut outs that show different clips from their previous productions. A pack of Polar Manzardills building themselves a bridge across an artic river using their breath, a Crabdozer emerging from its crater, and some Earth cows walking across a field of blue grass are among the clips you manage to make out. A deep but soothing voice booms throughout the small room as the walls turn a deep black. A dark, ugly looking planet appears below you, giving the impression that you are now standing high above this alien world.]

“The graveyard world of Cranvius. Outwardly dead in appearance, the planet harbours many secrets invisible to outsiders. Although many would simply prefer to believe that Cranvius is a dumping ground for the deceased, here the dead have become the basis of a vast ecosystem that covers the majority of this dwarf planet. Thanks to the very latest in observation technology, we’ve sent a drone down to the surface in order to capture the previously little-known creatures of Cranvius on tape for the very first time.”

[The view of the holodeck falls rapidly down to the surface of Cranvius. The sky is grey in every direction, and every scrap of ground is covered in bone -stripped bare of any meat they may have once supported.]

“Our search for life on this planet, outside of simply recording a Bone Wraith, has taken months of detailed observation, peer-reviewed study, and incredible luck. The first creature we observed is, alone, perhaps not the most impressive.”

[You look around, desperately searching for something to ease your boredom. Suddenly a small instectoid creature about the size of your hand crawls out from a rock near your feet. The holodeck’s view changes abruptly, throwing you off balance for a second. Looking back up you see the drone whose view you had previously shared. Now, you were seeing things from the perspective of a camera at the end of one of its probing arms. Turning back, the insect is now almost as tall as you are. It has a very deep red exoskeleton covering its two equally sized body segments. It has a single huge compound eye covering most of the front half of its body, under which sit two impressive crushing mandibles. It has ten spindly legs.]

“The Cartilage Crawlers. Scavenging pests first discovered as stowaways feeding on food scraps in a ship of passing mourners. This one, a male, is relatively weak. He spends most of his time asleep and only comes out of his hole on one of two occasions: He smells fresh food, or it’s mating season.”

[You hear a loud screech overhead. The camera’s view switches back to that of the drone itself. High above you, gracefully sweeping across the sky, is a strange, black, almost snake-like creature.]

“A Bone Wraith. A single Cartilage Crawler is not enough food to warrant hunting down, so this Wraith must have seen something far more appetising. The Crawler follows. A meal or a mate, it’s worth finding.”

[The tiny creature begins to crawl over a tall hill of bones, the drone following closely behind as you float over the ghastly environment. The disadvantage of holodecks is how disorientating a jump-cut would be. So, despite doing just that earlier to switch your view down to worm level, the editors decided it was in the best interest of the viewer to sit through the insect’s entire 500 metre journey. It wasn't.]

“The Bone Wraith circles overhead, having found its next meal. A horde of Cartilage Crawlers preparing to start, and end, mating season.”

[Over the last hill is a huge ocean of Cartilage Crawlers, all scurrying over each other in search of something to procreate with. If there's one thing to be glad for, it’s that this holodeck is too old to incorporate smell. The Crawler the drone had been following disappears into the crowd, yet somehow the drone still manages to keep track of it. The Crawlers stops for a second in front of a titanic counterpart to itself.]

“The females of this species tower over the males, measuring at an average size of three feet long and one foot tall.”

[The narrator’s description begins to align with what you are seeing as the camera switches back to the view on the end of the drone’s appendage.]

“Being so small, dominating a mate is not an option. In such a massive gathering, impressing them isn't much use either. Instead, securing a mate means beating the competition.”

[The following was information, and images, you would rather not have gained today.]

“The Crawler approaches his chosen female. The male must attach himself to the female’s vulnerable underside in order to fertilise her eggs, but being late to the party means he must crash someone else’s. Several other males have already attached themselves to this female and there is no more room for anyone else.”

[The small male begins pulling off other males, the details of which are best left undescribed. Eventually he succeeds.]

“Success! A chance to pass on his genes means that this small insectoid’s life has achieved its purpose. As a result, his organs will begin to shut down over the next few days and, once the female has found shelter, his body will be used as a nursery for the next generation of Cartilage Crawlers. But the future of his genes is not secure yet.”

[The holodeck’s view is returned to the main body of the camera drone, just as the Bone Wraith swoops down from above and grabs a distant female from the gathering with its mouth, hauling it into the air. A lone, fortunate male falls from the female’s underside to the ground.]

“A single male survives the attack, but having already dispensed his seed he shall not survive for long. He will become a meal for whatever finds him next.”

[Okay, not so lucky then after all. The Wraith comes in for another meal. It hovers effortlessly over the crowd briefly, spitting out the now empty carcass of its last meal and picks up another female using two of its four long spindly tendrils protruding from its neck. The holodeck’s view narrows into a small field, and you turn to face it. Inside the narrow field of view is the Bone Wraith, now rising high into the sky once more. The view zooms in, giving a closer, but 2-dimensional, view of the Wraith as it pulls apart the female Crawler with its two free tendrils and feeds the meat directly into its mouth before discarding the rest.]

“Bone Wraiths are this planet’s most well-known inhabitant, and with good reason. They are incredibly intelligent hunters with no care for how well-armoured their prey are. Notorious for attacking tourists and natives alike, we advise staying far away from Cranvius purely due to the presence of the Wraiths.”

[The view of the drone returns to normal. A lone figure is standing on a nearby hill of skulls.]

“However they are not the most intelligent species on this planet. That title belongs to this species, captured here for the first time on holotape. The Cranvius Sapience. Here to pick off the leftovers from the Cartilage Crawler mating season.”

[The figure bends over and picks up a few bones. It begins stacking them up next to itself as the drone approaches it slowly.]

“They have a remarkable natural talent seldom seen in other sentient races. They are born artists with an unmatched sense of balance and creative vision. This Sapient is busy making his latest piece; a perfect replica of himself made entirely of bone. Perhaps not perfect enough to fool you or I, but more than enough to fool the local troublemaker.”

[The Wraith overhead screeches again as the Sapient disappears into the skeletons beneath itself. The Wraith swoops in for the kill, obliterating the statue and flying off with a chunk of disowned bone in its mouth. Disappointed it's the outcome, it spits the bone back out.]

“A resounding success. The Bone Wraith took the bait. It takes a lot of energy to fly and there is very little food to go around. This Wraith will not be attempting to feed on this Sapient again for fear of getting another mouth full of nothing valuable.”

[The Sapient, clearly pleased with itself, emerges from its hiding spot. It picks up what appears to be an alien wishbone from the ground and inspects it closely.]

“The Cranvius Sapience are a truly bizarre species, fitting of their totally unique environment. Their sweat is a mild adhesive, perfect for sticking to bone. They can use it to aide in their constructive efforts or, in this case…”

[The Sapient attaches the wishbone to the exposed flesh beneath its neck.]

“They can attach the bone to themselves as an added layer of protection. A wishbone won't do much other than look nice, so the best he can hope for is that it will get stuck in the throat of any predator that catches him.”

[The Cranvius Sapience looks upwards and sees the drone. It pauses for a moment, before walking slowly forwards.]

“This is a unique opportunity. This is perhaps the first time a Sapient has ever interacted with an alien intelligence. A mark in history for their race, should they have societies within which to record such information. This brilliant event, however, will be short-lived.”

[The Sapient double-takes to the side, and panickedly retreats back underground. You turn around, to see the Bone Wraith from before only a few feet in front of your face. It’s massive teeth clamp onto the drone around you, lifting it high above the surface. Its teeth crunch down and error messages pop up across the holodeck before the view switches back to the end of its tentacles, giving a disproportionate impression of the size of the creature. With each crunch, the visuals become more and more distorted as the drone’s ability to transmit footage is slowly inhibited.]

“It appears we were mistaken, and this Wraith has indeed tried for the Sapient again.”

[The door to the holodeck swings open, and you step out. Getting jumpscared by an alien apex predator was perhaps not what you had planned for today. After stopping for a second to catch your breath, you close the door to the holodeck to drown out the continuing narration. Sitting down on the sofa you decide to turn on the extranet television for some good-old 2D entertainment. This lasts for all of 30 seconds before the following message appears:]

“This is a breaking newscast to all extranet receivers in the sector. Hostile Atasian ships have entered the Morra System. Repeat: Hostile Atasian ships have entered the Morra System. This is a warning for all civilians to find shelter. All combat-trained personnel report to your nearest military installation for service.”

[You stare blankly at the television for a brief moment, before a single thought crosses your mind.]

“Oh shit.”

This was a pretty damn good mimic of a nature documentary, especially for an ecosystem you invented entirely on your own. Nice work.

Closing

Congratulations to Aaron for winning, and thanks to everyone for participating! That's it for the second day of Fanon Con, folks! Make sure to tune in tomorrow for when we announce the results of the Overall Writing Contest and the Art Contest! Have a great day, and I hope you enjoy the rest of Fanon Con!

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