These entries from September's challenge were selected as Honorable Mentions. Those who completed this challenge are now encouraged to share their stories in the comments section of the "September Writing Challenge."
Cruelty, Ferocity, Victory
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, there was war between the citizens of Mars and the savages of Earth. Select citizens of Mars had been chosen to win the waging battle between the two planets, one of whom was known as Alyce Xena. She was recognized and prized for the birth scar running adjacent to her left eye. For years, Earth had polluted their own planet, reducing boastful oceans to weak ponds. It was Alyce, a soldier, pilot, and the only female worthy of such a captain’s title, who would return Earth’s remaining resources to Mars, with or without millions of Earth’s citizens dead at her feet.
“Are we prepared for takeoff, Soldier Jago?” Alyce demanded when she strode into the cockpit.
“We depart at your command, Captain Xena,” he said.
“Good,” she nodded. “Then let the Earthens fall to their knees.”
* * *
Millions of light years away, the Earthen Prince Darius was nervously pacing in his study.
“All my people are about to die in Martian hands, and for what? For measly resources?” Darius yelled.
“You have the power to stop them, Darius,” Pierre, his advisor insisted. “A whole army is outside awaiting your command.”
Darius shook his head. “Those are only more lives I put at risk, more loss, more bloodshed contaminating this planet. There is nothing left that can prevent the long-awaited war that is to ensue.”
“There is one thing, if you are willing to make such a sacrifice.”
Darius turned to Pierre. “Name it.”
Pierre took a deep, hoarse breath. “A marriage union with a Martian.”
* * *
Alyce’s stomach recoiled at the sight of Earth, which, formerly rich of endless blue waters and towering mountains, had been reduced to dry, cracked ground and unforgiving heat. She swept her long, dark hair into a ponytail, and tightened the laces on her polished black boots as Jago landed in front of the Royal Palace.
“Soldier, command the rest to collect samples of anything useful,” Alyce commanded.
“Captain, what are you to do?”
“The Queen commanded that I speak to the prince to distract him, make him believe he and his people have a chance to come out of this alive.”
“Will you distract him with your stunning looks, Captain?” Jago asked, a rare smile playing at his lips.
Ignoring this jab, she said, “If you meet resistance, kill them all.”
“As you were, Soldier,” Alyce nodded approvingly, making certain to keep her distance as she walked out of the ship, and up the marbled steps of the palace. No doubt the prince would be shocked to see her.
* * *
“A marriage union?” Darius yelled, his anxiety increasing at the thought of marrying one of them. “Is this the only way?”
“If you wish to save your people, my Prince, yes,” Pierre said earnestly.
“Someone is coming,” he said, whipping his head at the sound of boots stepping on the marbled floors of the palace.
“Declare yourself!” Pierre called at the sound of her knock.
“I am Captain Alyce Xena, commander of the Royal Army.”
“A Martian,” Darius muttered.
“She could be the one, sire!” Pierre whispered.
“I wish to arrange a deal,” the girl said.
“Then I suppose we have something in common,” Pierre said, as he welcomed her in.
* * *
“I marry you, Captain, and you and your army depart so that our planets can finally be in harmony,” Darius said, trying not to stare in her dark eyes for too long, and wishing Pierre were there to witness the proceedings. Unfortunately, he had been dismissed at the captain’s request.
“You believe it will be that simple, Prince,” Alyce said, laughing darkly to herself as she leaned back in her chair. “Your kind are so incredibly naive. What will your people think of you when they hear of this news?”
“I would hope they would be happy I am saving their lives,” Darius gritted his teeth.
Alyce leaned close to his face, and Darius was too petrified to move. “People will resent you, Prince, for submitting to the will of a planet millions of light years away, for being a coward. I propose a different solution: You give up the resources my army came here for, and we leave you alone for all eternity. We will spare your lives.”
Darius wanted to spit with rage. “You take away what we have left, and we will already be dead!”
Alyce stood up, her black Martian eyes meeting Darius’s blue Earthen eyes. “Then it will be no trouble to you, will it, Prince?” She stared a beat longer, then turned to walk away.
“When can Earth expect a war, Captain?” Darius asked.
She turned back to him, her dark eyes glinting with resolve.
Alyssa Jett Chaney
The Sun and the Moon
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…there existed the mind of a Little Girl.
In her mind, stars roamed freely across space that contained her thoughts. The planets contained her knowledge, ideas, and dreams. The planets could orbit anywhere, but they never went near the Moon.
While others would dream of flying to the Moon, she dreamed of flying to the Sun. She figured if she could burn just as bright as the Sun, how could it burn her? She would live on this Sun for years while the planets revolved around it, and the stars would trail about anywhere they could.
But as feared, over time the Sun would start to lose some of its light. Too many stars were getting in the way, and they would steal some of the Sun’s light. These stars were ablaze with so much doubt, anger, and sadness that the little girl could only see the intense glow of its gloominess.
Eventually, there would be a Milky Way filled with most of the stars that used to roam free. If there were any other stars in the galaxy still looming in what was left of the dark space, they would eventually succumb to the Milky Way that obscured all free thoughts.
The Little Girl, who was no longer a little girl, saw the many rockets heading to the Moon, and with a heavy heart, she stepped off the Sun and waited for the next flight to the Moon.
She could walk lightly here on the Moon and never make an imprint of her mark. The fire could no longer push her to the eternal flames inside her because there was no pressure here on the Moon. From where she could sit for days with no intention of action, she could look at the many planets she had forgotten she built and wonder what could possibly exist inside them. She was thoughtless out of fear, and no other stars would ever exist to make planets again.
It wasn’t until she laid down one day and looked up into the dark space that she would see something peculiar. It was a star. A small, little star that was dimly lit. In this star, she could see what it contained: Drive.
She hadn’t even noticed it, but she had just created a star. She felt too strongly for this star, and with all the force she had, she fought gravity — the gravity that pulled her down too many times to count, that forced her to forget about her planets and threw off her stars to the side.
As she lifted more and more, the Milky Way began to break apart star by star. They came flooding in and began spinning her planets. When she looked down, she could see she was able to fly once again. Like the little girl she once was.
She then flew back to her beloved Sun and saw how the beauty it used to have gave into the darkness. Then suddenly, the stars of doubt, anger, and sadness gave back their light to the Sun. At last, the Sun was shining brightly with unimaginable force.
Before the Girl could step onto the Sun once again, she looked back at the Moon and saw the many eyes looking enviously at how close she was to it. This was her home. Now, she would stand on this Sun for many years to come until it was her time to burn out with her beautiful Sun.
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. . . there was a girl. It was no ordinary girl, you see. She was different from everyone around her. Everyone else’s countenances were dejected and exasperated. However, this girl was not like them. She wore the brightest smile and the most colorful clothes she could find. Bright pinks, blinding blues, dashing yellows, and bold oranges were a staple in her closet. The other members of her society wore bland browns and mood-crushing tans. No one wanted to be different.
While all the other students grumbled and moaned about returning to school for the next year, the girl flung herself out of bed. She reached for her freshly-cut, grass-green dinosaur onesie. The onesie was paired with dark brown hiking boots and a bright red bow. Her pre-packed lunch was filled with colorful cereal you could only get on Earth and a strawberry flavored tea she purchased on Earth while she visited her grandmother and grandfather.
She walked into her new school with her bodacious hips swaying and her chestnut brown hair swinging. Her first class, Earth Studies, was down the hall from the clear window doors. The stars were especially beautiful on the morning of her first day of school. As she sashayed down the hall, she waved to each and every student. Her jovial character echoed throughout the halls. No one returned the affable gesture to the poor girl.
She found the desk with her name taped to the chair and plopped down. Doodles were quickly drawn on her neon pink name. More students sat in the congregation of students. They all had the same sulky expression. The girl exclaimed hello to each one, but no one cared. Am I doing something wrong? the charismatic girl thought. Why are all my attempts to be amiable being thwarted by their stale characters?
The Earth Studies teacher greeting the class with a monotone voice, and the girl’s mind wandered. Okay, she thought, next class I am going to be extra outgoing, and maybe someone will return it to me.
She tested her hypothesis by walking around the hall yelling good morning to the poor souls who met her eyes. The only result that came out of this was the girl accidentally being pushed into a wall. She shrugged it off and continued her quest to make all the dull faces appear joyful. Defeated by her results, the girl walked to her next class with her dinosaur tail between her legs.
“HELLO, EVERYONE!” She cheered as she leaped into the room. The students in her Mathematics class pivoted around, stared at her for a few prolonged moments, and then turned back to the front. Her assigned desk was towards the front of the classroom. She hummed as she unloaded her bag of a notebook and a pencil.
After Math was over, she dawdled in the room for a few moments. As she left, she felt two hands reach for her shoulders. She optimistically turned around only to see a vexed older boy. His breath smelled of stale coffee and peanut butter.
“You have been in all of my classes, and I am tired of it. You aren’t special. Being nice doesn’t make you any better than us. Stop being so fake.” He slammed the young girl into a wall and swaggered away. The girl was frozen in her position. Two tears fell from her left eye. She swiped them away and walked down the never ending hallway to lunch.
She sat alone with just her and her thoughts. The girl noticed how colorful her lunch was and despised it for being so colorful. She cursed her dinosaur onesie for being so different. Lastly, she cursed herself for being different. Maybe being different is bad, the girl thought as she wordlessly disposed of her bright lunch.
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, she pretended she was happy. Why wouldn’t she have been? She sat poised on a throne on top of the social ladder. She had the best, most popular friends. Her hair was perfect. Her nails were perfect. Everything was perfect. Except one thing: her thoughts.
Her thoughts were nowhere near the perfection she desperately tried to portray. They failed to mimic the bubbly mask she hid behind when around her subjects. She seemed normal to all those who saw. But behind the closed doors of her mind, there was a dam waiting to burst, with minor leaks collecting. And with every leak, the dam slowly eroded.
When the dam finally exploded, it was not pretty; it was not perfect. But she didn’t show it. She couldn’t afford to. As far as her friends knew, she was still the perfect and popular girl. But her insides were broken, and she knew the outside would catch up fast. At home she would shatter, leaving her mom to pick up the pieces. Home became the arms that quieted the sobs and soothed the shaking. But even that wasn’t enough, and when her mom couldn’t relieve the pain anymore, the black cloud further engulfed her. Nothing seemed to take away her pain, until she did the one thing she said she’d never do.
Long sleeves became a common occurrence, even on the hottest days. She started getting better at lying. Why wouldn’t she? People asked questions. She couldn’t tell them the truth. They wouldn’t love the real her; they were in love with the fake mask she painted on every day. So she told them any excuse she could think of, and they always believed her because they wouldn’t be able to accept the truth. With every lie she told, the easier it became to hide.
But soon enough, he found them. She panicked. She knew he would tell everyone. He could and would ruin her. So she blocked him out, but he kept pushing, and she finally let the flood out. But, surprisingly, he didn’t tell everyone. He kept it to himself. He held her; his arms now the ones that soothed the shaking and quieted the sobs. He made her happy. He became her home.
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, she pretended she was happy. But now, in a galaxy not so far away, she finally was working towards happiness.