January 9, 2014 at 5:59 pm #916
For all of you who’ve been dissatisfied by seeing your favorite book-to-film adaptations fall short or think that the core players could have been envisioned differently, this contest is right up your alley. Here at MCIC, we give you the opportunity to bring a story’s characters to life. Still not interested? How about this…
Have you ever had trouble putting one of your beloved imaginations onto ink and paper? Say you’ve got all the physical characteristics and details worked out, but for some reason all your designs just can’t grasp how you want it to look. Well, if you win one of our weekly contests, you’ll have the opportunity to share an excerpt from one of your own original tales for fellow Heromachine(TM) artists to take a crack at! Is that nifty or what?
The rules are simple: The weekly winner will share a relatively brief passage from an original story and footnote the character they wish to have interpreted.
If the winner so chooses or can’t think of an original excerpt, he or she can hand off his winnings to someone else with a story to share, and that person becomes the new judge for that week.
Contestants will read and analyze the passage and go to work on a Heromachine character that perfectly brings the desired character to life for that contestant. Realize that interpretations are entirely limited to the material itself, and efforts to further describe a character after the contest has begun is discouraged.
EACH CONTESTANT IS GIVEN ONE WEEKLY ENTRY.
The lone exception would be if there are different costumes or equipment a character could be using in the same story — in this case, either the story writer can specify which iteration(s) he wants contestants to focus on or if no variation in specified, contestants can pick and choose at their own discretion. If this is the case, ALL COSTUMES MUST EXIST IN THE SAME POST.
At the end of the week, the story writer will decide on a winner from the selection of contestants’ entries, on the criteria of which creation best follows the description in the excerpt and looks best in the eyes of the adjudicator. Once a winner has been chosen, he or she has one full day to select a passage from an already written story or create one on the spot if they wish.
Remember that when you are finished writing your passage to specify the character you want interpreted by name. If they have no name, do your best to explain who or what in the context of the story the contestants have to work with.
Well, I hope I made it easy enough to understand, but if anyone’s still confused, I’ll try and clear things up. The example and inaugural weekly contest post will be up shortly, and once it is, you have free reign to begin designing and sending in your entries.
Thank you, and I hope everyone has fun!
EDIT: Its taking longer than I thought it would to finish up the story for the inaugural post, but I should have it done by the end of the day (Jan 10). Thanks, anybody who’s interested, for your patience.January 11, 2014 at 3:09 am #36020
CONTEST #1 – Week of January 11
A winner will be decided after 1 PM on January 17 — the new contest will begin January 18
Streams of fire rain down on the surface of Earth as several black-plated warships hover just above the planet’s atmosphere. Their laser cannons relentlessly bombard every inch of the almost completely defenseless world — the invading force’s only resistance being a scattered group of soldiers seeking cover under natural rock formations. The military men hope their cover will hold until reinforcements can arrive, but they all know what destruction the Cessalians are capable of; they won’t survive through the night. Just when they thought things couldn’t get any worse, that ever familiar whine of a short-range teleporter rings in the soldiers’ ears. Before their very eyes, a column of faded blue light appears mere yards from their position under the wide stone arch, and out from the glow steps their worst nightmare: a mechanical exoskeleton armed to the teeth with hidden melee weapons and clearly visible firearms of varying size and intricacy, piloted by a member of the most dangerous species in the galaxy. Without a word or any warning, the robotic war machine takes a step toward the contingency of terrified survivors and levels its right arm-mounted explosive cannon directly into the middle of the group. The last sound the soldiers hear is an ominous *click* signaling the relatively quiet expulsion of a ballistic shell which spreads fire and shrapnel across the terrified group of hardened marines.
After registering all hostile life forms as either terminated or with zero percent threat capability, the armored Cessalian trudges toward the mayhem with weighed down metal greaves to inspect the soldiers closer. The unfortunate few who survived the blast wriggled and squirmed on the ground, clenching whatever parts of their bodies they could to try and stop the bleeding or put out the fires. The Cessalian scanned through the survivors and pinpointed one with the least injuries. His smaller projectile based firearm spun around his wrist and extended into firing position, awaiting the operator’s command. However, the wounded soldier’s odd behavior forced the Cessalian to hesitate; the condemned man pulled off his helmet and shakily held it out a few inches from his bloodied face, staring intently and with much sorrow into the concave portion of his protective headgear. Shaking off his curiosity, the robotic exterminator firmed up his arm and let out a short burst of ammunition, effectively ending the soldier’s life. The man’s helmet fell and rolled off his leg upon his expiration, revealing the inside of which was taped a photograph of a gorgeous woman cradling her newborn baby.
Now a war widow and her bastard child. These are the classifications running through Metallo’s mind as the world around him slowly evaporates to become an empty and expansive room with virtual lasers forming a complex grid system. The real-time combat simulation had ended, and the small squad of Cessalian operatives deactivated their weapons to perform a salute in the direction of a glass pane at the end of the humongous chamber.
Everyone except Metallo, who could still see the sadness and desperation in the eyes of the final man he killed.
“It’s all fake,”, he reminded himself. “nobody even got hurt…”
A horn sounded and a green light came on near the observation window, signaling the address of the trainees’ assessors.
“Well done, gentlemen. Please proceed into storage vault 74E to return your battle suits and await further debriefing.” With that, the green light switched off and a pair of large doors beneath the window slid open. Metallo wasn’t actually a trainee, rather he was merely accompanying potential members of his own personal task force with whom he would carry out sensitive missions for the Cessalian Empire. Only the best of the best were allowed to share the battlefield with the son of the Grand Judge, let alone one of the highest ranking Generals in all of Cessal. Metallo shared both prominent honors with his two elder brothers, Graat and Ryund, who along with their ruling father formed the most powerful family across fifteen star systems.
In combat hanger 74E, Metallo and his men took their places beneath large disassembling machines and patiently let the clumsy magnetized clamps and suction appendages remove their extremely high-tech armor piece by piece, stripping away the indestructible black krytanium plates before carefully unscrewing all the bolts and breaking the welding bonds from the titanium graycoil which formed the second layer of insulating armor. Once the thick, rubbery first layer had been removed, the hollow frames of each of the Cessalian could be seen — a sight which would have made humans go insane. The Cessalians were, in their earliest days, beings made of rough minerals, given sentient life by a mysterious spark which surged through the planet and spawned the stony ancient ancestors of modern Cessalians. Through natural evolution alongside technological advancements, the Cessalian race shed their rough outer shells and adapted to become hardened crystals of pure energy, hovering delicately in the air and projecting their electromagnetic pulses in a wide radius in all directions. In order to properly utilize their armored exoskeletons, the Cessalians needed a humanoid frame, easily constructed by focusing their powerful electron fields into the shape of a man and strengthening the molecular bonds just enough to support the heavy layers of equipment. This technique was originally implemented as a way for Cessalians to peacefully interact with other species of their own galaxy, the majority of which were human or descendants of human-like creatures. Although their methods of temperate cooperation with other races has been all but forgotten, strong traditions and a sense of nostalgia keep Cessalian weapon designers from altering the blueprints for their battle suits too drastically, although many different designs have been implemented in the Empire’s military in the past.
The mechanical arms suspended each portion of their armor in mid air while other automated limbs reassembled each layer inside a transparent holding cell. Each Cessalian carefully loosened their hold over their own energy field, collapsing their humanoid projections and returning each particle to its natural orbit around the large crystalline nucleus. All of them were nearly the same shade of indigo, save for Metallo who was a slightly darker hue, signifying just how young the squad was. At birth, Cessalians are bright green mineral slivers, and as they age, they pass through the visible spectrum and grow in size until they are dark purple amalgams of many protruding gem spikes. Cessalians have a formidable life expectancy, and it is said that after a few thousand years, their crystal turns red as blood, although such cases are rare. Metallo and the trainees were met with a pair of even darker blue administrators, both levitating a semicircular panel of screens jam packed with data on each recruit and the results of their virtual reality exercise.
“Before we complete your assessment, is there anything Commander Metallo would like to address concerning any member of his team of their overall performance?”
Metallo thought back to the beginning of the dream-like excursion and quickly ran through the entire scenario again in his mind, taking note of each action taken by his team.
“I have no objections.”, he coldly stated. The number crunchers proceeded through the ranks of the some two dozen operatives, typing in their final observations and clearing each Cessalian for duty as part of the General’s personal task force. With their jobs finished, the trainees were dismissed, but one of the administrators stayed behind.
“Pray I would speak to you for a moment, Metallo.” The analyst adjusted his frequency to a pitch that only Metallo would be able to register, preventing anyone but him from hearing what he had to say. “I noticed a slight change in your behavior immediately following the exercise. Is everything alright, sir?”
Metallo shook back and forth and relaxed his electron field.
“No– I mean, yes, I just…” He took a second to regulate his interior energy flow. “I saw a glitch in the program, probably left in from when Magellan was the head coordinator. It wouldn’t hurt to give the system another inspection; patch up any lingering issues.”
The administrator lifted his data panel over toward a shelf and placed it down gingerly.
“Metallo… what did you see?”
Metallo sent out a weak shockwave to intimidate his unwarranted conversation partner and hovered past him toward the exit.
“I saw pity.”
In the morning, Metallo visited his father at the Tribunal of Justice, the closest structure Cessal had to a church, for its existence represented the preservation and unity of their entire civilization. New laws were hardly ever made or even suggested here, although the old standards remained enforced with the greatest of discretion. Truly, the Cessalians held firmly to their roots, and had no overwhelming love for change and integration of new ideas. Metallo’s routine voyage to the tribunal was typically executed alongside his two brothers when all three were not away on military endeavors off-planet, but he chose to be alone this time.
“Congratulations on selecting a worthy corps, my son.” From atop a throne of twisted gold and translucent gemstones, the Grand Judge Haar addressed his youngest child. The large, reddening monarch held a magnificent golden crown which just overlapped the tip of his formidably tall crystal. The father and son briefly exchanged particles in a greeting fashion, mingling a select few electron clusters to evoke a pleasing sensation for both of them.
“Thank you, father. I am glad to have finally been given the opportunity to serve my Empire. Would that I could have offered my services earlier, but the illusion of fame beneath yours and my brothers’ excellence had blinded me for a good many decades. I hope our efforts to carry out the will of the Empire will pride you and bring further glory to our family.”
Haar slowly circled around Metallo, scanning his crystal and the energy field surrounding the boy.
“Your voice speaks as one without concern, yet your aura tells a different story. Tell me, Metallo, what troubles you this day?”
The blue gem let himself sink low enough to disturb the coating of dust on the floor of the tribunal’s hearing room.
“I… experienced something I have never yet experienced before, and it frightened me, father.”
Grand Judge Haar whizzed to one side of Metallo and stopped abruptly.
“Fear!? It is not possible for a child of Cessalia to be afraid! I implore you to change your words as to be easier understood, my son!”
Metallo’s particle field involuntarily shifted in formation again.
“The forbidden emotion… empathy… I felt it yesterday, during the simulation. I want to know what it means.”
“My son… no emotion is taboo, although fear and pity have been strongly scrutinized in recent times. A good Cessalian feels everything but fear, for where kindness and compassion fall short, anger and spite are sure to follow — and surely, when hatred and suspicion wane, we become vulnerable to those who would seek to abuse our temperance of spirit. If only the whole of our armed forces could feel what you felt…”
“I believe I understand now… thank you, Haar.”
Metallo exited the citadel and returned to his small house in preparation for his duties later that day. The live news feed on his wall turned on automatically after he floated out of his electron-replenishing chamber.
“We’re here at the steps of the Tribunal of Justice just moments after a national tragedy has befallen the people of Cessal–“
Metallo’s particles stalled and began to vibrate with such intensity that he thought the whole neighborhood might be caught in a destructive chain reaction.
“–the Grand Judge has been discovered in his quarters with his aura extinguished. I repeat: Grand Judge Haar is dead.“
Just then there came a loud bang at Metallo’s door, with an Enforcer’s siren blaring in the background. He needed only continue watching the report to discover why the police were at his house.
“The last person seen leaving the tribunal was none other than the Grand Judge’s own son, Metallo, and with no other leads on the circumstances of Haar’s death, Enforcers are currently on their way to apprehend him. Here is his hue and Frequency of Rest for anyone who may have seen Metallo today and wishes to help turn him in to our Enforcers.” A highlighted color palette popped up on the screen next the graph of a specific wavelength representing Metallo’s electromagnetic heartbeat. Panicked, Metallo locked onto a small key card on his desk and hovered quickly out his back door, heading in the direction of the city’s science district. Within minutes, he arrived at a secluded warehouse on the border of the military district and used his key to let himself inside. It wouldn’t be long before the Enforcers honed in on his energy signature and surrounded him, so he had to work quickly inside the cluttered laboratory. With the flick of a switch, the lights came on inside the large building, revealing a technological marvel known only to the most privileged members of the Empire’s armed forces.
The prototype Super Suit, S.S.V.1.01, a concept in the works for several years, but only recently put into development. The first and only one of its kind, the piece of equipment was originally intended to be a battlefield weapon worn only by high-ranking officers, although its designer had hoped his invention would replace the severely outdated battle suits which had been in circulation since the Fool War over a millennium ago. There were a number of striking differences between the Super Suit and its mass-produced predecessors — the first of which being its formidable size: while the typical battle suit stood at roughly six and a half inches tall and resembled a somewhat stocky humanoid, the Super Suit towered in its display case at an intimidating eight feet and had the characteristics of a career bodybuilder, complete with state-of-the-art synthetic muscles woven inbetween layers of armor, adding quite a bit of bulk to the already imposing design. Another costlier derivation included the largely seamless distribution of black Krytanium alloys (some mixed with Graycole for the more flexible areas of the suit) across the entire surface of the top layer of armor, as well as the occasional golden accent or border.
The helmet was comprised of a grated lower faceplate which covered the bottom portion of a pointed green visor, topped off with a pair of rigid wings and soundwave detectors on either side. Centered on the chestplate was a revolutionary hexagonal entry point which expanded to allow quick access to the suit’s functions, although a short boot-up cycle was still necessary for this particular prototype. Large pointed pauldrons adorned the suit’s shoulders, from which thick carapaced biceps hung down and connected to relatively thin forearms that housed an arsenal of hidden offensive weaponry, from weighted batons and katars to stun pistols, flamethrowers, and explosive cannons. The components of each weapon were interchangeable and reassembled inside the suit to save room and prevent the suit from becoming too cumbersome — still, functions such as this were prone to malfunction in the early stages of development. From the waist was draped a number of golden decorative plates, giving the suit a contemporary regal Cessalian look. Pistons and levitation jets cluttered the suit’s legs as well as its back, allowing for temporary propulsion and longitudinal stability in mid-air. Finally, a pair of bulky pointed greaves held the whole suit up, with a number of different configurations to adapt to any terrain, as well as a couple of optional combat features in the form of tempered spikes under the soles and heel-jets to improve running speed and melee execution.
Metallo had no time to stop and marvel at all the breathtaking features behind the security glass. He could hear the horns and sirens getting closer, and with rigid determination, he shattered the transparent case with a blast of unstable electrons, spilling the energized preservative fluid onto the floor of the laboratory. Using the frequency code given to him by the very scientist who oversaw the suit’s construction, Metallo unlocked the device’s breastplate and fitted himself inside to begin projecting his human wireframe. He couldn’t help but notice how snug and natural the suit felt against his mobilizing energy field, and a pleasing sensation came over him as he waited for the suit to power up and draw from his own electrical current. Already, a team of Enforcers had broken through the warehouse door, drawing Metallo’s attention toward them. Even his best efforts could not speed up the boot-up cycle, but it took his pursuers long enough to figure out what was going on for him to take control of the super suit and start his escape.
With his arms raised high over his head, Metallo brought his large fists down into the floor, creating a shockwave which jettisoned the armored police back against the walls of the building. Already, error messages flooded into his display, reporting on the suit’s incomplete functions and the obvious danger of piloting such a volatile prototype. Nevertheless, Metallo regained control of his arms and raced toward the wall, charging through the reinforced steel barrier and refusing to stop until he reached the gates of his family’s private shuttle dock, where a single sleek spaceship awaited his command. Once inside the pod, he set the coordinates for deep space, hoping to distance himself as much as possible from his own people who were mistakenly trying to pin the Grand Judge’s death on him. Even in his rocket, Metallo’s energy signature could be tracked, and several anti-air lasers were fired from the city below. One lucky beam struck his ship and knocked it off course, tilting it just enough so that once the accelerator was engaged, the pod sped off toward a completely foreign sector of the galaxy. Metallo had evaded capture for now, but the vengeance of Cessal is swift and unrelenting; no matter where he ran, the Enforcers would catch up to him eventually.
“Give me a report on the damage to my ship.” Metallo’s order evoked a buggy reply from the automated interface, assuring him that short-range travel was still possible, although repairs would be needed in order for his acceleration drive to function properly again.
“Damn… and what sector have I ended up in?”
A short pause ensued for the computer to compile data from the surrounding planets and constellations, resulting in its matter-of-fact answer.
“QUADRANT CC36 — THE SOLAR SYSTEM. INHABITED PLANETS INCLUDE: EARTH; ALTERNATE DESIGNATION: TERRA PRIME. LEVEL OF TECHNOLOGY IS LOW / PROFICIENT. DOMINANT SPECIES POSES NO THREAT TO CESSALIAN DEFENSES.”
“Earth…”, Metallo pondered to himself. The images from the virtual scenario ran through his mind again, and he impulsively typed the planet’s coordinates into the flight planner. A glimmer of red-orange light from the sector’s nearest star reflected off Metallo’s insidious armor, provoking his next monumental decision.
“My people have forasken me… Metallo is no more. From this day forward, I am Mettallicc…”
As his ship entered the Earth’s atmosphere, he gazed upon the green and blue glory of the small class four planet. With the general intention of escaping punishment and defending his new home from any threats presented to it, Mettallicc made his rocky descent onto the surface, skidding several miles through a dense forest and coming to a halt on the outskirts of a small Chilean village, whose speculation toward the U.F.O.’s arrival caused a big enough stir to catch the attention of a certain international organization — one which responds to potential threats with utmost urgency. Soon they, too, would be knocking at the alien’s door, and it would be up to him to decide if cooperation was in his best interests.
Sorry for the delay, I really wanted to get through as much of this guy’s backstory as possible before picking out the parts I wanted to use for the contest. I know it’s more than a blurb, but I’ve left the more expository paragraphs in spoilers in case you just want to read the essentials to better design your interpretation. I’ve also emboldened certain parts that you might want to take special notice of. Who knows? It might help your chances…
If you haven’t figured it out yet, the character I want you to portray is Metallo (changed to Mettallicc at the end of the story). As I’ve said, feel free to create more than one iteration, but for this particular character I’m only going to judge creations that showcase the actual super suit detailed in the story. You get bonus points if you also share your version of the actual Cessalian crystal, but keep in mind that only submitting Metallo outside of his battle garb will not qualify you for this week’s contest.
I hope I’ve been clear enough… please ask me anything you want and I’ll try to clarify whatever is confusing to you about the assignment or the overall contest.January 11, 2014 at 9:36 am #36026
“relatively brief”?January 12, 2014 at 1:14 am #36048
Sorry if I didn’t add the fact that you don’t necessarily have to read the whole story. I admit this post is a little long, but I wanted to set the precedent that you should use as much space as you need to when introducing the latest challenge. If you are going to ramble on as I have, I would suggest you condense your story using spoilers and accentuate the essential parts so the other contestants can easily draw from the available information when they begin their Heromachine projects.
I know, again, my post is still pretty long. This will be the exaggerated model for the length of story contest winners should strive for — if a blurb is longer than the inaugural story, I’ll make sure to dish out penalties.
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