Halo Fanon

The Weekly is a community project in the form of a series of micro-fiction contests, inspired by the discontinued Community Writing Competitions on Halo Waypoint. Each week, users can challenge themselves to write a short prose response to a prompt chosen at the start of the week by the competition's judge. At the week's end, the judge selects a winner to receive a shiny new Weekly Winner eraicon on their entry's page, and the entry will then be displayed on Recent Changes for the next week for all to easily see and read.

The project was conceived in response to a long-standing downturn in prose writing on the site, in hopes of encouraging more prose by presenting a painless, easily-attainable length as a target instead of a hopelessly-long novel length. The ideas the writers incorporate to hone their craft under such constraints might then become the seeds for events their own characters go through, or even be worked into whole other long stories.

How To Participate

At the beginning of each week, a new prompt will be posted on this page, for users to write in response to. Working with in the length and topic restraints (which could have to do with the theme, or subject, or writing style like "only dialogue"), users then write their response and create a new page on which to post it. Remember to include a Writer Template ("{{Writer|your username}}") at the top and categorize it "The Weekly" ("[[Category:The Weekly]]") at the bottom. A paragraph at the top can be added to introduce the piece and context for it without going towards the word count, so long as there's a horizontal line ("----") between to make set them apart distinctly. The word length for each entry is variable and set by the prompt's judge, but typically ranges between 500 to 1000 words. While you may submit multiple entries for each week, they must be individual entries (while having multiple entries be sequels/prequels to one another is a grey area, they must still work as stories on their own, rather than multiple-part stories).

Once an entry is complete, simply add a link to your entry's page in the scrollbox for the appropriate week for it to be counted. The judge in charge of that week's prompt will then read the entries and pick a winner for the }}week. The judge will also provide feedback for each entry. Bear in mind, the judge's decision may be based on subjective judgements, but good spelling, grammar, and punctuation go a long way towards impressing by presenting a professional and easy-to-read appearance. Winners will then be given a unique Weekly Winner eraicon and displayed on the Recent Changes page.

Judges and Prompts

In order to facilitate community involvement in the Weekly project, any active site editor may put themselves forward to write a prompt for a given week. That individual will then be responsible for selecting a winner from among the entries provided as well as providing timely feedback for each entry. Administrators and site patrollers will hold primary responsibility for selecting prompts and ensuring project stability. If a prompt receives no entries, a new prompt will still be submitted for the subsequent week. Prompt suggestions may be submitted on the talk page.

Weekly Challenges

Week 228: Resolutions

Judge: Actene

It's that time of year again, the time when we all start making plans for how we'll do it all better next year. Some resolutions will be more successful than others. A simple prompt this time around: in 1000 words or less write a scene in which a character (or characters) resolves to enact change moving forward, either in themselves or the environment around them. You'll earn bonus points if you also use the text to allude to the success or failure of this resolution moving forward.

The end date for this prompt is a bit longer so as to reset the Weekly as having a start and end point in the middle of the week rather than the weekend. This also marks the final weekly prompt of 2021. I would like to thank the entire community for their involvement in this project, either through submissions or judging efforts. Writing is a skill that needs to be exercised just like any muscle. I hope these prompts help exercise that skill as well as offer an opportunity to engage with other users' work. Here's to the end of 2021 and the beginning of 2022!

Start Date: 26th December, 2021

End Date: 5th January, 2022

  • Who You Are With The Lights Out by Spartan-D042: I love the callback to the Missing Wall in this piece, though a few lines contextualizing exactly where Callum is and how he got there would have been welcome. There was some great introspection here as Callum reflected on where he’s been and where he’s going—I especially liked the juxtaposition of Callum’s background with Patel’s. It was a good way to highlight the differences between the earlier generations of Spartans and the SPARTAN-IVs and I found it interesting that Callum’s experiences allowed him to recognize the gravity of his actions in ways that Patel couldn’t. I did notice a few formatting errors, notably uncapitalized words like “grunts” and “jackals” that might merit some further proofreading.
  • DT 2021: Academy Days of Change by Distant Tide: It speaks volumes of all that’s happened with Halo in the past few months that I’m excited to start seeing pieces written in proximity to Infinite. This was a fun entry that combined the usual Merlin-Andra back and forth with lots of little details regarding what the future holds for them. I especially liked the idea of Althea being forced to conceal her true identity through the guise of one of the new generation of “dumb” companion AI. The uncertainty most of us feel about the future of the canon lore certainly showed in Merlin and Andra’s dialogue, which seems fitting considering the feelings that always accompany the dawn of a new year. Although this piece almost certainly ran over the word count (confession: I didn’t check for any of the entries) it moved past a single character’s introspection to include two other characters as well, which makes it my pick for this entry’s winner.
  • A Bit Cliché by Lieutenant Davis: Interestingly, both entries involving a “legacy” Spartan’s moment of introspection included a thoughtful engagement with the difference between the Spartan-IIs and IIIs and the IVs. I appreciated the acknowledgement of Spartan-IVs’ inherent grit as well as Colin’s rumination that perhaps the childhood bonds he shared with his fellow IIs weren’t quite as strong as he imagined. Regardless of whether this is true or just a product of Colin’s post-mission anxiety, it’s an interesting take that I rarely see considered in a fandom that typically views IIs and IIIs as inherently better formed than IVs. While this piece was primarily reflective exposition I felt drawn into the events Colin reflected on as well as to his uncertainty moving forward.
  • Betrayal by CBrando89: I was somewhat hesitant going into this piece since I didn’t have much context at all regarding what was going on. However, Cain’s situation became clear very quickly and I liked how her reaction to Klayton’s betrayal was conveyed in a relatively short amount of space. Out of all the pieces submitted for the prompt, Cain’s resolution to guard against betrayal by walling herself off feels like the most negative response—which makes it a great hook for future story beats and character development. One formatting aside, I would recommend removing the double space between line breaks as it made this piece a little harder to read through.

Week 229: Hope Delivered

Judge: Distant Tide

We're firmly in the next year. 2022 has arrived and with it, we are a few short days away from breaking open our own spoiler rule on Discord of a month regarding Halo Infinite spoilers. Therefore, let's write about a new year and some new ideas. For this Weekly, I'd like to see some positive new ideas actualized for 2022 and stories you want to tell. I know some might have a new threat on the way, or new challenges you want to write and address. But the events and ramifications of Infinite have returned us to a point in the Halo franchise where anything is possible due to a soft reboot nature. Let's return to old friends or embrace loved ones thought lost. Let's see the sun rise above a ringworld anew with purpose. What is in the future is anyone's guess. So let's play with that, shall we?

Write about any new ideas you like with a positive spin.

Start Date: 5th January, 2022

End Date: 12th January, 2022

Caught a double comma pair midway through the story. A very small number of the sentence structures were a little unconventional that I paused while reading them but hardly a speed bump if at all. You know, its very difficult to care for characters that are spawned very quickly and in the moment but its difficult not to like Kosterski/y and his squad. You did change his spelling halfway through that that gives me the impression you created these characters specifically for the weekly. For that I'm very impressed because I am made to care about these Marines in a very short span of time that I'm with them in their moment of dreaded respite. "Hopeless is the default" works fine as a section but I instinctually wanted to correct it to "hopelessness" though this doesn't really matter much at all. "Cole, and Reach, and found Earth" - don't need the first and there.

Given the time frame, the Banished didn't take prisoners initially but started to do so once their digging operations for the Endless began. Well that wasn't very uplifting but the moment counts very well because we get to see the terror and dread the average Marines face on Zeta Halo from Day 1 to six months later. It sucks but they make do because they have to. It reminds me very much of the Halo Infinite campaign audio logs that don't talk about the presences of Spartans or the Master Chief. Marines just trying to survive, and the memory they leave behind in the game's open world. Empty hammocks and bed rolls. Used food rations and abandoned vehicles. Forgotten weapons and vacant observation posts.

This is a war in its simplest of senses. Lives are lost, lives are taken. But as long as one of these warriors is still kicking against insurmountable odds, there's still hope that they can take the day or that someone can walk away from all this and live for the memories of those that didn't or won't make it. Great jumping off point, I'd like to see more from Sergeant Kay, maybe a collaboration in the near future? Make one shot characters into flagships for the journey forward? Who knows.

For this week, I felt Hope In One Hand resonated with me the most despite some very solid performances by D042 and Colin. Looking at what Sniper has put together, I feel like this story gives a unique feeling of crystalizing the Halo Infinite environmental storytelling experience. With Marines commenting and the story giving lip service to how beautiful Zeta Halo actually is. And the dire fight and cost of war that permeated the ringworld despite Halo Infinite's mostly single-tone, fight-and-fight-on campaign where a 6 month defeat is transformed into a victory overnight. We get the plight of the average marine in Sniper's story and the empty bed roll I found at the edge of the world hanging over empty space felt purposeful but also a little more empty. This is the least positive story of the three entries, but it also left me with the most feeling and concepts to think on. If feels very much like a piece of Halo Infinite and that's why I've decided to make it my choice for Weekly winner this week. Every story here is painting a picture for stories for the future and I look forward to reading more from all you in due time, recognizing the freedom that Infinite has opened us up to is important and I think I'm seeing that emerge in these stories.

Devoted to a message that may never make it to its intended receiver, but in the final moments we need to say what we need to say. Morris saw the writing on the wall and was prepared to go out with a melancholy love letter and a shotgun blast. His words were very sad, his expectations of how long left he had for live for. It's a great piece about someone in a desperate headspace as the looming and fatal threat of Brutes coming ever closer through a titanium door that will just not hold. Everyone else is dead. Morris should've died but he lived thanks to the just-in-time efforts of a surprise Fireteam Anchor appearance I want to say. I admit I didn't recognize them at first because the description didn't match what I thought they looked like. My bad on that side.

As the most action packed story of this lot, even though Hope In One Hand did have a degree of action through flashbacks, 'Til Death does a lot well with physicality of a normal person against alien odds. The Jackal hand to hand fighting could've been an extended spectacle of its own in a different premise. I especially like the gore with how it is handled around the Spartan's chewing through of alien forces. It's interesting choice of Morris to leave his voice recording there, almost like a callback to the audio recording in Halo Infinite which is a strong motif in my mind. Glad for once it was a recording that its storyteller was able to walk away from.

Kind of wish he took it with him or mulled over taking it with him more, either as a remark to "tell you how I feel myself when you hear it" or maybe recognizing taking what marked him as a dead man would be a self-fulfilling omen upon his life. I don't know, lot of stuff that could be done with this story idea and what's already here is very intriguing and thought provoking. I already might have another short story idea about the Banished propaganda efforts with regard to the audio logs spread across Zeta Halo. Not canonical in that nature itself but I this story gave me the most of the feeling of wanting to jump off and run with it towards the next tale of sorts. That's a sign of a great story in my opinion.

Still, I caught a few stylistic issues. Occasionally lower case names for nicknames of alien species like "brutes". I felt you not appending your weapon names with what type of gun they were was a mistake because its hard to tell for someone not intimate with Halo firearms and reading outside our lot would have a hard time understanding the importance of such weaponry. At least add "shotgun after "CQBS-48 Bulldog" or just "Bulldog shotgun" or something along those lines. The only outright spelling error I can recall is at the end where you say "wars" instead of "war's". Overall a great piece, glad to have read and really great to see Mortal Reveries getting some attention and new entries!

The Vegas is clearly caught in a difficult condition because despite the struggles of a less-tangible enemy evil like the Created to returning to fighting more conventional threats so abruptly. It speaks to bad writing on part of the franchise overhead but skill on the writers adapting to it in telling their stories, reacting, and articulating the feeling of whiplash and doing so in a reasonable and storied manner. This I think is something I can always expect of Colin's stories and the tail coats of Detachment SIGMA's original narrative plans moving on towards the Banished from the fragmented Created is a interesting one. I'm glad its not such an abrupt change either, remarks on the Created in this short do address how quick the change over was. There was no room for celebration. There was no room for renewed freedom, like the staple of the Halo formula - there's always a bigger fish and another war.

This isn't the place to lament a possible change in scenery or pacing though. Instead its to discuss the status update of Corin Davis and his whereabout struggles. Another happy surprise, the Vegas and Orphellion coming together feels like the set up to a Battlestar Galactica episode if I might say so. Pegasus and Galactica if I may. Old ships bring old friends, old loves. I don't get to see enough Corin stories but its always a good time when he gets written attention.

There's not much action or adrenaline to speak of here but there's characters getting respite from the big fight and taking a break, and receiving some good news at the front. Overt relationship in Halo are far and few between so I applaud seeing Spartans get a chance to be lovey-dovey even if in short spells. I wish I got more practice myself in this space. Colin executes fairly straightforward but in a way that's also very enjoyable. The galaxy seems a little lighter now. Glad to have read this entry, very solid work.

Week 230: Lucky Strikes

Judge: Quirel

They say that adversity is what proves a man's character. They also say that conflict is what drives a story. And let's be honest, it's fun to put our characters through the wringer. But that gets old after a while.

For this weekly, give your character a lucky break. Take the perpetually unlucky and chronically maladroit, and make things go their way for once. See how they handle the good fortune. Maybe an orbital insertion goes right, or maybe an analyst's hunch pays off, or maybe a clumsy gesture of affection is appreciated, or maybe a character draws a winning hand. The sky is the limit.

No word limit, because I get the feeling that this prompt might require a bit of setup.

Start date: 14th January 2022
End date: 21st January 2022

Week 231: Space Magic

Judge: Actene

Genesong, geas, Domain... love it or hate it, the expanded Forerunner lore provides the Halo universe with plenty of outlandish concepts so sufficiently advanced that they are indeed nigh indistinguishable from magic. Depending on your preferred outlook, this poses either an opportunity or a bit of a headache to any aspiring fan fiction writer. It provides plenty of flexibility for wild flights of fancy, but those flights can just as easily come back to bite you if you overindulge. For this prompt, write something involving one or more wild Forerunner concepts. The situation and circumstances are completely up to you, just write about characters engaging with the stranger side of Halo lore.

As always with my prompts, try to aim for around 1000 words but don't sweat too much about going over the word limit if that's how the spirit moves you.

Start date: 26th January 2022
End date: 2nd February 2022

Week 232: In The Cold

Judge: Distant Tide

It might rain, it might freeze where I'm at this weekend. So we're keeping things as simple as possible. The cold is a biting, long foe to life itself. A fight to stay warm, an invisible force that tests our limits at their least and worst. Tell a story involving your characters and their experience in the cold. It can be a wide range of interpretations, just involving the concept of the cold. Cryogenic cold. Blizzard cold. Hard vacuum cold. Death cold.

Do what you want and will. I'll play loose with the word count this week too.

Start date: 2nd February 2022
End date: 9th February 2022

  • Rasq Writes:Cold As Ice by Quirel: Winner - There's a lot of subtle and imaginative details worked into this short entry. A great use of disoriented verbalization that requires the audience and protagonist to decipher to survive with personal stakes. Unapparent, researched backdrop details like the background noise from Jupiter's radiation, the boiling of blood at contact with the hot-freeze of Europa's semi-hard vacuum, and the scientific solution that wraps the straightforward 'stranded and hunted' war story together with unfrozen water becoming the key to salvation in a frozen desert. What is not cold, is simply warm enough. Cold/Hot are relative and Alan Wallace's survival relies on it. I would've preferred you update your rank nomenclature in the story, "seamen" would be better suited as "crewman" at this point in our future space history but I'm very happy with the project overall. I struggled in picking a winner but ended up with Rasq's Cold As Ice because of the worthy prose mixed with its execution of underexplored concepts and the depth of research Rasq has at his disposal. The main idea might be familiar, but the details that support the premise push it into taking victory. Congratulations.
  • Slow Edge (TPF) by ThePeteFiles: Nice way to say "Spartan Time" without Spartan Time at the beginning. It's hard to imagine a supersoldier finding anything in the familiar universe to be afraid of, but I think anyone can share in the fear of not being able to find firm footing. Ice skating is a nice balancing act in humanizing Sam if he wasn't already so, connecting his superhuman nature with the irrational fears of normal people, especially the uninitiated. But he also recovers quickly, enough that he and his girlfriend can make it into a bonding moment and intermingling humor. I don't see Sam experience his non-service life much but the growing list of short stories dedicated to this point in his life is very enjoyable. I would also add that Slow Edge shows Pete's growth as a writer. The smoothness and polish of personality, action, and prose on display is excellent. I'd describe it as lively, and I see it as a learning period paid off compared to drier entries and larger projects I read from you in your early years of joining Halo Fanon. Slow Edge is another excellent entry in PeteFiles's list of short stories. As I think Pete predicted however, I don't think this entry can stand on execution alone because its prose quality is easily as good as its competitor.

Week 233: Return of Microfiction v2

Judge: ThePeteFiles

Microfictions, all you got is a 100 words. Maximum cap is 105. You have free reign to write about whatever you want in Halo. The only thing you need to keep in mind is word count. Combat, a command sequence, a short dialogue, poem, and even song can be created. If you want to base it around the upcoming Valentine Day and have an element of love, that can be a starting point. Also, I'm allowing multiple submissions from one author, but with one rule. Each submission must not be related to each other. Good luck!

Start date: 9 February 2022
End date: 16 February 2022

  • The Deck by Spartan-D042: What the short does is pave a great glimpse of how people deal with their realities. It's not a grand realization or a moment of epiphany. It's a slow build with a blunt comment about the situation.
  • Prelude to a Blinding Flash by Ahalosniper: It's a great trick and has the perfect cut to give the reader the idea of what exactly happens. The dialogue is quick, to the point, and provides just enough details. It brings in an iconic character with one single word and that's impressive.
  • DT 2022: Operating Room by Distant Tide: It's just the dentist, right? It's a great snapshot for children to realize the weight of their decision for joining the S-III program. It's not some sort of soft tale, but gives a very realistic glimpse of an orphan's decision to join a supersoldier program.
  • DT 2022: Sundered Protector by Distant Tide: This is one of the more unique submissions. I had to read and re-read it again to gather an understanding and the scope of the short. Overall, it does a very good job of keeping mystery while also proving a point.
  • Shore Leave by StribogE17: The first iteration of Vilmos provides a humorous and tragic reality. A supersoldier trying to find a piece of humanity, only to find out he doesn't fit the world. The reality is often hard for people to hit, and the last line displays it perfectly.
  • DT 2022: Reassured by Distant Tide: I like the focus on the relationship and the hopes each other have for one another. It's not something too extreme or stressful. Coming back to each other seems to be the goal for them, and they make sure to do it every time.
  • Outreach by LegendOfElTopo: I like Hari looking to talk with someone. She has the idea of wanting to talk with Owain, but when it comes, she doesn't take it. It's a honest moment where the opportunity arises and don't take it. I like the collaboration with Owain and Hari.
  • A Brief Dispute by Slower Than Most: Both my dads work at Section Three. It's a very good power move by the individual advocating for their subordinate. The back and forth provides the insight of how leverage can be used to get what you need.
  • Blellow by Arminius Fiddywinks: The magic of mixing colors brings forth the idea of people who think they are genius. The simple realization of mixing things together provides a unique insight of how to live a life.
  • Ehe (2022 Weekly 233) by Bag of Rations: See, bullying gets results. ploine doing things. While a lot of other individuals focused on characters, the focus on a vehicle gave life to the efforts of surviving. The description of the environment while it still focuses on the sky is impressive.
  • Final Words by Slower Than Most: The short message and the gravity of it needs no further explanation. The individual in the message is blunt and paints a hard reality of what happened. It gives the reader a great understanding and why it is important in the later time.
  • A Didactic Sacrifice by S-D379: The iconic scene from Halo 4 is portrayed here perfectly through the eyes of our protagonist. It showcases his pain and determination to execute the mission for Earth. A planet he had little interaction with, but knew its symbol to Humanity.
  • DT 2022: Small Town Mystery by Distant Tide: While the Halo universe is such a vast and intergalactic story, the micro focus on Oregon is a large change of pace to what an everyday citizen can experience. They may not worry about the Covenant as much as the eerie backyard terror.
  • Doubt by LegendOfElTopo: Even in the darkest hour, there's always a chance to get help. I like the quick paint of the story with the death and the dialogue encompassing the frantic feeling of the two. The simple question gives them all the hope they need to make it out alive.
  • With Dignity by Spartan-D042: It's a simple order that can rally the troops to fight like hell despite their odds. They're facing a defeat and they want to believe they died fighting for their cause. The last line paints a hard truth many military commanders made in their past when nothing was left for them.

Week 234: Dare to Love

Judge: Actene

We missed the mark on the Valentine's holiday by a couple days but that's no reason to miss the chance to write some fluff. For this prompt, write an affectionate scene between two characters--lovers, spouses, a child and a parent, very good friends, wherever your imagination takes you. There aren't many stipulations on this one; feel free to run the gamut between sweet and bittersweet. Just do your best to convey the bonds of affection between your chosen characters within roughly 1000 words.

Start date: 16 February 2022
End date: 23 February 2022

  • DT 2022: After Rain by Distant Tide - Easily the better of your two entries—this was a very well crafted piece that hit the prompt while also telling a compelling, self-contained story in its own right. Having this piece and Noodle Night side by side was a great way of showcasing your strengths and avoidance of earlier weaknesses (Noodle Night fell into a few instances of overwrought prose and redundant descriptors, which this piece largely avoided). I recommend using the skills showcased in this piece as a template for future entries.
  • Eternity by Falkeno - Winner - My enjoyment of this piece may be entirely subjective, but I confess that out of all the scenarios presented I found that this one best captured the feeling of tenderness I was looking for in the prompt. The spontaneity and happy resolution of Joseph and Carris’s encounter made for a fun, quick read. One item of criticism I will level merely because it pops up in site work quite frequently: acronyms and military designations (In this case “NAVSPECWAR/Group 3”) stick out like a sore thumb in this kind of work and can easily be avoided with simpler terminology that doesn’t break the narrative flow.
  • DT 2022: Noodle Night by Distant Tide - : I joked and then Tide followed through. I’m impressed with Tide’s ability to crank out two entries on short notice, especially without needing to ask for any detailed guidance. That being said, it was clear that there was some situational uncertainty—not a whole lot of context was offered for this story—and that made it a little hard to follow at times. Still, I enjoyed the sweet little moment between Simon and Cassandra. It certainly isn’t one I would have thought up, but that’s the point of seeing other people work with your characters and it gives me material to work with in the future.
  • Brothers, Cousins, House Plants by Arminius Fiddywinks - Props to this piece for being the only one to explore fraternal affection, another concept that often goes unnoticed or unwritten of in fan fiction. Conveying most of the piece through dialogue was an interesting choice, though a bit more prose description would have helped flesh out the scene and keep the reader engaged given the apocalyptic setting.
  • Narcissus (2022 Weekly 234) by Bag of Rations - This was an unexpected take on the prompt that reminded me of some of the marketing for Halo: Infinite emphasizing the unsung heroes whose sacrifices enable the heroics of the universe’s flashier denizens. Although a few components of this piece slipped out of prose and into exposition, the exchange between Horner and Nas was an interesting delve into the peculiarities of AI characters that are often hard for a writer to nail down. My one criticism would be that there are a few too many proper nouns being thrown around in prose and dialogue—I had to read through the piece a few times in order to make sure I knew exactly what was going on.
  • To be young by Ajax 013 - If there were runner ups in Weekly judging this would be my pick. This piece offered an interesting change of pace by imagining Sangheili marriage practices (which remain somewhat nebulous, changing between one canon source to another). I particularly appreciated the lavish depictions of the grand keep and the ornate costumes, which gave the scene a vivid, grandiose appeal.

Week 235: Bulwark

Judge: Bag of Rations

There are moments in your life that you can’t help but admire the behemoths humanity has created for a simple purpose - the sword for the vulnerable and the bulwark against aggressors. To the denizens of the UEG, Marathon Heavy Cruisers had served such a role for half a century. To the Covenant, quite possibly a massive headache they want gone. To the Insurrection, a symbol of oppression and militarism. Write a short story, around 1200 words, that encapsulates such ideas. Any POVs are fine so long as it involves this flying brick.

Start date: 23rd February 2022
End date: 3rd March 2022

The Real Thing by Arminius Fiddywinks

Of the three this is the only one that decided to have a Covenant POV, which means this submission is the most unique of the three at least when it involves species POV. Yay!

The descriptions don’t hit hard like an energy projector gutting the bowels of a Marathon. A lot of the scenery involved is too muted in my opinion, rather barebones in the fire fights. I expected to be thrust into the eyes of this elite who probably has a mix of curiosity and adrenaline pouring into him from the ‘alien’ and ‘cramped’ corridors.

Instead of being told plainly it was a Marathon, we could have enjoyed an alien’s POV (not necessarily the MC but his peers could be a bit more curious on the matter) on what he could describe the ship as: blocky with little to know curves, brutal and reminiscent of the lesser brutes minus the spikes, etc. You have this opportunity of giving off an alien reaction but for the most part in your writings I believe you need to work on that.

That said I enjoyed the dialogue between the crew, and in a way they came of almost ‘human-like’ which depending on your goals is a good thing or bad thing. The squad moved in with rhythm frighteningly similar to human fireteams. Take that as you will.


While I haven’t read much of Covenant focused stories, it irks at some moments on why these aliens speak much more like a group of folks headed for Sunday church than proud religious and boisterous ETs. I feel like there needs to be more effort in making the ‘alien and pious’ consistent in their mannerisms throughout the piece. Now I’m not gonna judge base on that as that’s far from the focused of the prompt but I thought you might wanna hear some of the observations I’ve had.

Thank you for participating.

DT 2022: Clearessa's Battle by Distant Tide

Whatever it takes. That’s what I’d imagine Clearessa’s motto to be. And did she sure show it. An AI on its last leg impossibly trying to stall the inevitable steam roller that was the Covenant armada. We got to see good interactions with both Admiral Harper and several AI characters. Much of the battle took place in dialogue rather than paragraphs of description. In the right moments it can certainly make the battle feel much more fast paced than usual… as is the case with Halo Space Battles so that’s a point in favor of this writing choice.

We have very strong descriptions in this story as well. I’d say of the three this one takes the cake. Enough descriptions to give me an image of the characters and a glimmer of the battle in the dark seas.

That said it still reads a bit clunky at times. Sentences are more or less within the same lengths and tempo that you can turn a fierce battle into a monotonous slug fest. It hurt my second reread of this submission so that’s something this writer has to take note of if he wants to keep the momentum good and energetic.

Thank you for participating.

Darkness Waits by Timothy Emeigh - Winner

Well… when I made the prompt I expected something closer to a propaganda reel than what you just wrote. Well that’s what it felt like initially, then the rug pull…

It’s pretty haunting, what you’ve written. The prose and descriptions made sure of that. Could practically feel the captain’s willpower drain the moment things went wrong. And boy did things go wrong.

The Marathon could survive a dozen battles… the Narrows a dozen reentries. No ship can truly survive a slipspace rupture in the gut.

Well done. I hate you <3

Thank you for your participation.

Week 236: Break Time

Judge: Distant Tide

For many of us, recent days have been anywhere from a little stressful to a great deal so. For this reason, I figure we could all use some warmer, more relaxed subjects to work on. Let's write around the theme of "break time," what are your characters doing for relaxation away from their usual activities, or are they going on vacation, or are they making a pitstop somewhere and slowing down to visit something different from their usual adventures? Talk about breaktime or a more relaxed moment in your characters' lives.

Word target is a blank check this week once again. Write as little or as much as you wish. I'll judge it all regardless.

Start date: 4th March 2022
End date: 9th March 2022

  • Maintenance and Manicures (2022 Weekly 236) by Bag of Rations: Maintenance and Manicures offers a interesting focus on lore history and wonderful physical description. The focus on character physical features is used to great effect in building or reinforcing personality expressed in the characters' dialogue and behaviors. Bagration also again exemplifies great setting and physical description for his locations. However despite these positives I felt the entry lacked polish. I caught a few stylistic and grammatic errors that I feel should've received a once or twice read over before delivery. I also felt that despite some very unique and lively characters, the outer colony military general didn't grow beyond his former rebel background personality, the Marathon captain didn't go anywhere deeper beyond her teasing remarks and pursuit of treating herself. While history and lore was richly developed, I had a hard time seeing if there was more there. The theme I came away with from this short story may be "don't judge a book by its cover" or "enjoy the time that you have."
  • Golden Fields by Arminius Fiddywinks: I think Golden Fields is one of Arminius's strongest entries to my memory so far. I don't see any apparent issues with grammar, spelling or punctuation. That said, I lacked investment in the story because very little seem to happen. While its a very realistic moment to explore a character in their most bored moments, the middle section of the short story in particular drove my decision to not choose it as this week's winner. Despite the name of golden fields, there isn't much time spent on describing/including the setting in the overall narrative. The best moments were rather when the characters began to reminisce or discuss observations in the world but for the most part, very little happened. It's not quite a detraction not to have a story about nothing happening but about five short dialogue sentences dedicated to just saying "I'm bored" seems excessive. I would've liked to see more out of your characters. A recurring issue I do have as well was not actually knowing the name of the protagonist because they're never referenced by name in descriptors or dialogue.
  • Mortal Reveries: Rest And Little Reprieve by Spartan-D042 - Winner: I ultimately chose Rest and Little Reprieve for the Weekly winner because I felt it balanced out issues and strengths I saw with the other two entries giving both a good setting and a sense of purpose in this story. It's a bonding moment between battles, not exactly the happiest place I wanted to end up in but it in a sense made do like its characters having to adapt to their hunted reality. There's a particularly noticeable incomplete sentence at the middle point in the story that requires fixing I'd say. I think that this story was the most polished of the lot due to how it drills in on character relations and building up both the setting and stakes while in a relative relaxed environment compared to the described off-screen norm. Some might called me biased given that one of my characters is featured in this short but despite that, I didn't have any role in determining her depiction her and I'm pleased with how Bless and Gil interact, bonding in less-than-convenient times. D042's entry is my pick for this weekly.

Week 237: To Whom It May Concern

Judge: Actene

The lost art of written correspondence is a time-honored literary tradition. An intentional letter often offers character insights that can't be conveyed in prose or dialogue and offers the reader a deeper look into one character's relationship with another. For this prompt, write a letter from one character to another. The subject matter is up to you; the only criteria is that you communicate solely through the correspondence rather than through any prose setup. If you are so inclined you may also want to include a response to the first letter.

I'll set a soft limit of 1000 words on this prompt with all the usual flexibility, particularly if an entry chooses to incorporate multiple instances of correspondence.

Start date: 9th March 2022
End date: 16th March 2022

  • The Letter by slowfuture: I have to say, it’s great to see slowfuture putting out site content after all this time. The enigmatic bond between Joshua and Fireteam Boson feels like a bridge connecting two very different bits of site history, so it was good to see that explored a little here. The letter’s contents, particularly the bits dealing with Joshua’s misgivings about Delta Company and Spartans in general, went a long way toward establishing where Joshua is at this point in his life. The letter felt a bit detached, almost as if Joshua were writing more for his own benefit than Andra’s, but I found the situation laid out in the letter very interesting. I did quibble a bit with Joshua’s repeatedly referring to Andra as “little one”—it felt a bit too affectionate as a term of endearment between Spartans—and noticed that the Infinity was not capitalized, but those are small criticisms at best.
  • The Former Disciple by Navisiul97 (Winner): The provocative exchange between Jegi and Lezo was a neat take on the prompt. The letters gave these two enemies the chance for a dialogue they could never have in a face-to-face encounter. Your references to various canon figures (Ripa, Xytan, Jul, etc.) offered some background reflection on the events of history playing out as conflict consumed Sangheili society after the schism. This offered a new dimension on Jegi and Lezo’s conflict, which plays out the larger events on a smaller scale. Jegi’s final grim communique ends the exchange with a sense of tension given his plans and our own knowledge of what transpires on Kamchatka. I’m not sure if the large space breaks were necessary (or if they were even intentional) but a few technical issues aside I appreciated the story playing out between the characters behind the letters.
  • Ophelia by Arminius Fiddywinks: Well done with the hidden meaning. Although the decoding aspect of the piece made it a bit harder to read through than the others I don’t think I’ve seen someone toss that kind of stylistic curveball into a Weekly entry before. I will say that the hidden meaning was a bit simplistic after the notebook-scrounging I needed to do in order to decode, but given the code format you chose I appreciate that you didn’t have a lot of letters to work with here. The otherwise banal corporate back and forth becomes far greater than the sum of its parts thanks to the references to Ophelia. By the end of the piece I was considering the backstories and points of view of two characters who are barely present in the text. I especially like the reminder of just how covert and below the radar a lot of Insurrectionist organizations and operations tend to be. The spycraft angle often gets ignored in favor of less subtle kinetic action.
  • DT 2022: Sister's Remorse by Distant Tide: I appreciated that this endearing little piece addressed the animosity between Andra and Shizuko that was pretty apparent during the Imperium RP. With the Delta lore and backstories constantly shifting it’s sometimes hard to get a real read on just what’s gone on between the various members of Delta Company. Given that I don’t know where Andra and Shizuko’s paths will intersect in future stories, I like the thought of them being on good terms at the eve of the Created Crisis. Andra’s references to various other Delta characters were nice, though some of the information bordered on unnecessary exposition. It might have helped to make some of the references more oblique given that Shizuko would know many of the details Andra’s expressing.
  • DT 2022: Parting Messages by Distant Tide: As I mentioned in my feedback for your other entry, my understanding of much of Fireteam Boson’s early backstory is fuzzy so this piece didn’t mean quite as much to me as it might otherwise have. Andra’s message to Duceppe and his reply seemed more about reminding the reader about Roxanne and co.’s defection than revealing character, though Andra’s gift of the turtles was rather sweet. Some more lines from Duceppe about his personal circumstances might have expanded on the relationship between him and Andra a bit more.

Week 238: On the Blood of Our Fathers...

Judge: Timothy Emeigh

Oaths. Bonds. Obligations. Everyone has something they must do, though the severity of not doing so may change. You swear to lose weight for new years? Well, who actually completes their resolution. But you're an Elite swearing to uphold the Covenant? You don't even get a choice whether to make the oath or not.

In 1,000 words or less, explore this idea. What obligations do your characters have? What oaths have they taken? Were they taken freely? What do they stand to lose carrying it out? What is the punishment for breaking it? As long as it relates to Oaths and their implications, I want to hear about it!

Start date: 16th March 2022
End date: 23rd March 2022

  • True Honor by Underlord1271: Too far over the word count to judge, but you already knew that, so on to the feedback! First, a perspective on it as a story. I really felt that Atu had a good unique voice to him and that it hit on a proper 'Sangheili' feel that is often hard to grasp rather than just making such alien characters come across as too human. I know I certainly struggle with this. There were a few moments in the middle where this was less felt from Atu, but even in this situation, I felt it made sense as Atu was still young and just picking up the Sangheili way of things. It makes sense he feels less "Sangheili." On the other hand, something felt a little bit off about the Spartans, though that could also just be playing into the imperfect nature of the translations? Or maybe just a lack of background on what happened before. For example, what led the Spartan in the first paragraph to think Atu would be different? It feels almost like the Spartan claims this and then learns afterward why Atu would be different. Either way, I like the focus of the work being in the middle portion, on how he picked up this atypical sense of Sangheili honor, and why it held so much meaning to him. Accounting for the prompt and word count, I might even say that the framing device of sharing this story with the Spartans may not have been needed. Very little was developed about what they were actually doing together, and the flashback could easily be reworked to a self-contained story. On a technical side, it was a very tight work that I see minimal areas to improve in. This late in the war, there may have been fewer "[UNKKNOWN]"s showing up in the translations, but that's more an issue of personal taste. There were some areas that I felt may have been heavy on description with minimal contribution to the theme of the story, most notably the composition of the team. Some other aspects could have either been cut or developed more to serve this theme as well, such as his courtship with Sav. It comes up and then is relatively quickly dropped. The dialogue is a bit drawn-out and doesn't feel quite so natural in places, going back to what I said about the Spartans. All in all, it's a good piece, with a solid middle section that really hits on the prompt, that could simply use some more tightening up on what really needs to be said and what can be cut, and perhaps a few more drafts at the dialogue to make sure all the characters have a consistent, natural-feeling voice. I hope to see you submit more in the future and get work you are happier and happier with!
  • Heaven and Earth Interlude: Fulfilling Selfish Honor by Distant Tide: For being an interlude to a story I have yet to read, this piece did wonderfully standing on its own. What areas were confusing at first were mostly resolved by later on in the story, and a quick re-read allowed me to put almost everything back into context. I'm sure it would stand even more fully accessible if I were to be familiar with the happenings of Heaven and Earth, and I don't fault the piece for not reiterating everything that needs to be known about the characters and situation. Would probably be saying it was repetitive right now if it had done that. When it comes to the prompt, this is one of those aspects that only became clear later on in the text. While the earlier sections gave the impression of there being some sort of obligation to Simon and the cause Argo chose to serve—what with the focus on their opponents being on the wrong side—the final ending seems to flip this a bit by pushing a dedication to getting Andra home safe. Yet even here, the aspects of earlier in the story of Argo feeling a bit guilty and focused on his deeds and how they would forever mark him rang through, ending with the line that Argo could be free. The story raises some good themes in the limit set upon it (or, well, 200 words or so over that limit), and I'd love to see them expanded in other works. On the technical side, it's a very good piece in terms of varying sentence structures and voiding too much description or flowery text. The grammar and spelling were all suitable, and I only noticed a few points that jumped out at me as feeling a bit out of place. First, "It wasn’t that long ago he killed his teammates once converted into the parasitic Flood’s zombie abominations or as a “race traitor” fighting on behalf of his specie’s enemies to advance the agenda of human benefactors." is a bit hard to parse. Was he a race traitor and supporting the UNSC? Or did he kill others who were? Later on, you used a few instances of re-naming Argo to avoid repetition. For example, the "Saurian warrior" in "the saurian warrior had to wrap the winter garments he stole from the ransacked Baran keep over his exposed scales" could probably have just been "he." There were also a few areas where I'd recommend watching out for tense consistency and reviewing whether included commas were necessary. All in all, though, an excellent piece, if a bit minimal in its focus on the prompt.
  • Heaven and Earth Interlude: The Farewell and Into the Inevitable by slowfuture: Much like in the past work, I'm coming at this with very minimal understanding of the characters involved or the story this is an interlude for. This one feels more intricately connected with other works, but as before, I won't hold that against it either. No need to pull a strike at the work for something that I'd otherwise perhaps be calling repetitive, and what it does do to stand on its own is more than enough to get the sorts of feelings across that I think it was going for. One of the things it has going for it in this regard is the unique voice each character had, both in the dialogue and—most notably in Hera—with their internal thoughts and relations to the other characters. I really did believe that this was Hera finally reaching into doing things she wanted to do and letting go of past commitments that no longer defined her. I could easily tell her apart from the other active participant even in aspects of the dialogue that weren't marked. The only potential downside I can give it from a story perspective isn't even one that would stand in a vacuum: I don't quite get a solid sense of what oaths or commitments are playing into this. I know there's something there—or rather, something she's moving beyond—but this is one area I feel it could have leaned more heavily on reiterating insights from external works, even if just for the sake of prompt relevance. There is little to say about the piece technically, except maybe that the first paragraph had a few repetitive sentence openings that could do with some more time. Another good piece, and excellent presentation for the only ~1000 words it used, with few words if any wasted.
  • Oath's End by Brodie-001: A tight story, hitting on the prompt fully and strongly in just a few dozen words over the prompt. I felt nothing wasted or missed, the past brought up just enough to provide context to Rora's future. I like that it touched on a "trope-y" approach to honor without falling fully to it, with Rora able to move past and recognize the self-inflicted nature of his honor and what it meant to hold. I like that it explores a healthy self-reflection for the character that allows him to grow with minimal need to compare himself to others, or the definitions others impose on honor and oaths. All in all, it hit the prompt, kept a smooth character throughout, and allowed a very Sangheili-feeling while still unique and individual insight to the character. Combined with an excellent technical execution and efficient use of language, and I mark this entry the winner.
  • An Oath by StribogE17: The shortest of our story, sitting at a few words below the limit, it nevertheless managed to tell an interesting snippet of Vilmos's life in the time it (and he) had. The are several things to like: the implied connection he had with the Marines, the care it showed him having for others—and not just Spartans or killing the enemy—with his brief focus on the dead and his longer focus on keeping those alive who remained that way, and the fact that these all mix together to form an implied oath even when the story doesn't come out and immediately state one, though I feel the latter approach could have been done as well to provide a more solid foundation in the prompt. I also liked the competence the other characters show. Vilmos is the best fighter—as a Spartan—dropping several enemies even when outnumbered and providing a suitable distraction to cover Lila and Chad escaping, but Lila herself was competent enough to make her escape the way she did, and even the Skirmisher put Vilmos on the back foot and managed to survive a point-blank attempt to shoot it. It allowed the situation to feel reasonable to the levels of what is expected from a Spartan without overriding the motivations or making caricatures of the other actors present. Technically, some areas could be tightened up. For example, the M46 is inherently a triple-barreled weapon, so it was a bit redundant to point that out. None of it was deal-breaking or made it difficult to read or parse the meaning, just a few small tweaks to make everything fit together that much more perfectly. In the end, a solid piece in need of minimal polishing, that hit on the prompt enough to fit while still leaving room for me to desire a bit more focus on that side of things.
  • Heaven and Earth Interlude: War's Children by Spartan-D042: Another Heaven and Earth Interlude, yet one that I feel stands very well on its own without pushing into what may be repetitive. What needs context gets it, what doesn't, doesn't. It clears up who is fighting for who, and who is properly aligned with who beyond that. Callum certainly comes across as consistent through the whole thing and the few situations I know of him and interactions he's had in external works, while also doing so in his own unique voice and personality, something that I find is very hard to achieve both of at once. He is consistent without becoming flat. Though the actual oath or commitment the story focuses on doesn't fully come out until the end of the work, the development to that point is all focused on approaching that conclusion and preps us to receive such a response, letting it fit with the prompt as a whole. Some very minor polishing could go into the technical side of things. There was a few instances of the 'renaming' approach that could probably have been simplified, such as "green spheres settling on the younger Spartan making her approach," but nothing story-breaking or utterly unacceptable. It also pushed over the word count to around the 1200 word mark, though I can see that it would take effort to reduce this side of things without disrupting important presentation and content elements. I see very little that needs improvement here, and it was certainly a close push for the victory.
  • Forever! by Arminius Fiddywinks: Another Arminius Fiddywinks piece, and much of what I had to say last time about the style remains. First-person is an interesting choice but not a bad one, and I'm still not sure about Sangheili cursing, but this is definitely one of the best stories of yours I've read for sticking to a "Sangheili vibe" otherwise. Some lines stood out to me as breaking from this, such as "Can't see that promise being kept anymore," though I also don't know how I would particularly approach fixes other than recommending reading into the sorts of tones from the books and games for Sangheili. On the other hand, at this point, it may as well just be a stylistic choice, and if this is how you want to continue writing them, go for it. I can't recommend you 'fix' something you're doing on purpose, even if it's not how I would (if you are, in fact, doing this on purpose). The story fits well with the prompt, with an oath coming up, and a unique twist focusing on how it is both broken and maintained at the same time, focusing on the personal view and definitions of what oaths are, and how they aren't some immutable force. Yet it also portrays the start of the consequences or follow-up results of such mutation. I see you used the prompt title in there, though the title was also taken from a known in-universe oath, so it doesn't feel so "corny" as it may have otherwise. Technically, it's an easily approachable read, lacking flaws to take me out of the story or break my understanding. The quote blocks without any markers of who are speaking is a bit harder to follow with a crowd of the size presented, especially with only about 1000 words and the challenges this forces on giving each an established voice, so this could perhaps be an area for improvement. In the end, a fine piece, and perhaps the closest we get to seeing a view of the actual oath that inspired this prompt.
  • Light, Inextinguishable by LegendOfElTopo: A unique story composed almost, in a way, of a smattering of "micro-stories" all within the same event. I really enjoyed how the format was able to approach the story uniquely and separate it out as it did to fit in the interjections of the oath fragments while still holding onto its own cohesive nature: an interesting stylistic choice that really works in the realm of a single short story. The story itself is also excellent, knowing when to change perspectives to provide just what information was needed from other views without minimizing the focus on Kaur as the primary element. Sure, Owain and the Pelican may have been the in-universe "most important" character, with all of this being done to protect them, but Kaur and Lighthouse truly steal the show when it comes to delivering the themes and hitting the prompt. It highlights both the importance of Spartans and the ability of other members of the UNSC to be more than minimized supporting cast (ironically doing so in a story where they're literally a supporting cast). There are very few technical qualms I had with the submission, too. In the end, another excellent submission that made deciding the ultimate winner quite difficult.

Week 239: ...On the Blood of Our Sons

Judge: Timothy Emeigh

Your moment? Your time in the sun? It's over. Here, at the end of your days, when all has been said and done... What do you leave behind?

Let's focus on legacy, this week. What do your characters leave behind when they're gone? What have they picked up from those that came before? What consequences do their actions set in motion? Actions in the present cascade into the future, and I want to hear all about that.

Looking at the lengths from last week, the most typical one they seemed to come in at was 1200 words, so let's aim for that as a maximum, this time. Can go shorter, of course, but try not to go over.

Start date: 23rd March 2022
End date: 3rd April 2022

  • Laconian Crossroads: To Conquer Dreaded Sleep by Spartan-D042: This week's winner (though I am loathe to reward such tremendous over-extension of the word count...), this piece was perhaps the more subdued of the two entries. It didn't hit me quite as hard emotionally—though perhaps that's just due to less familiarity with the characters involved—yet I was still able to feel a distinct characterization from the two focus characters and empathize with their rough experiences, even from what little is said about them directly in the work. While I joke about the story being longer than the word count, I also felt that it used each bit of that length well, and probably would have sufferred if it was pushed more into a smaller count. Perhaps that makes it not the best plotline for the prompt, then, but the other piece went over the word count as well, and it was an excellent story, so I'm happy to say it was for the best that this is what you went with. Technically, there is little to say, and that's a good thing. A dialogue-driven piece, it was able to keep up a clear voice for each of the two characters that made it easy to follow even when the quote blocks lacked tags for who was speaking, and the intermittent descriptions were 'snappy' and provided just enough context as was needed without interrupting the flow. There was a brief spot where there seemed to be line-break issues? Or maybe this was an intentional gap in the text for narrative purposes, though it didn't quite seem to fit as a 'natural' break in the conversation, so I'm not so sure on that front. On a final note, I like how the connection to the prompt carried throughout the whole piece yet did so subtly, and from multiple angles. It was able to bring up the legacies of Callum, Hector, Hector's teammates, the spartan programs in general, and so much more, all while set in a setting that is, itself, a legacy of the old days of the UNSC. Yet these all felt natural. A solid piece, with very few tweaks that I noticed needing to be made. As I said at the start, happy to dub this one this week's winner!
  • DT 2022: Nightfall by Distant Tide: A solid piece, both technically and from the perspective of story beats and emotional impact. I can certainly say it was one of the more 'punchy' pieces I've ever judged, with it knowing what it wanted the reader to feel and how to instill that feeling in them. It fits the prompt well enough as well, with Viktoria's last thoughts reflecting back on her husband and daughter, more specifically the latter in the final few lines. Yet it doesn't save this focus for just those last few lines as a 'gotcha' for prompt inclusion, rather spreading her foreseen death over the length of the piece and giving plenty of time to come to terms with it, or at least reflect on what it means. That being said, there are a few areas I feel it could see improvement in for an even stronger version of the piece. From a technical standpoint, there are a few descriptive phrases that felt a bit 'clunky' or perhaps even contradictory in metaphor. For example, "The lights could bring no depth to the dark. A blackness deeper than night where even night vision became almost useless" could both be condensed in the second paragraph to a simple note of the darkness and rephrased to avoid using depth in two precisely opposite meanings within two consecutive sentences. A few other phrases hit me as standing in a similar vein and I feel a quick review and revision of the work could make it tighter if done with these ideas in mind. The second area I feel it could tighten up is with regards to the prompt inclusion. While it was spread throughout the work, it did feel particularly 'noticeable' in some spots despite that. I don't have as much of a concrete example here—and perhaps just condensing the story as a whole to make it a tighter piece, in general, could help this—but it had a mild feeling of being a bit drawn out and less subtle in the portions surrounding her final moments before death and her thoughts of her husband and daughter. Still, an excellent piece that hit me with those feelings I believe it was meaning to, and one that I feel could be even better with a slight revision!

Week 240: Odd Ones Out-Of-Context

Judge: LegendOfElTopo

Prompt: April Fool's! Or at least, well, soon, at the time of writing. So of course this week I'm going to ask you to write something daft. In particular, I want you to transpose your favourite elements - characters, organisations, even stories themselves - and then transpose the out of Halo, across settings and genres into the most cliché fanfic scenarios you can think of. As far as ideas go, I'd be after things like:

  • Beach/Hot Springs Special™ (courtesy of Navisul97)
  • Highschool/College (bonus points for a superpowered/Battle Academia setting)
  • Idols, band, or other musical scenarios
  • Isekai (being taken out of the Halo setting, into it, or something else entirely!)
  • Mobsters and gangs
  • Roommat or Coffee Shop AUs
  • Sportsball!
  • Stereotypical high fantasy

Over-the-top, flanderised interpretations of fanon (or even canon) characters are very welcome and genderswaps if you're brave enough. Still, as always - and especially for something like this - if you're using someone else's characters please make sure to get the go-ahead from the writer first!

Given that this is a prompt primarily focused on daft fun, there are no limits on word-count or number of entries per author. I will, however, mercilessly mock you if you bite off more than you can chew and overshoot the end date as a result. Otherwise, go wild!

Start Date: 30th March 2022

End Date: 5th April 2022

Week 241: What Do They Mean, Mason?

Judge: LastnameSilver

Prompt: Numbers define our reality, from the gilded glint of money, to the ticking seconds of a clock. We measure, we define, and we partition everything into numbers. Numbers help us make sense of and digest the world around us. For the prompt this week, I want to explore an oft-overlooked side of Halo; its numbers. Your entry can be anything, so long as it's to do with numbers; from an AI crunching code to a dishevelled Colonel balking at the staggering casualties of his latest engagement. Something as simple as a Fleet composition document, or an overly complex interstellar goods shipment, with all the trimmings attached. Perhaps even the inclusion of Halo's favourite number of all time. Numbers must be a central point around which the story revolves.

In 1,500 words, write me a story that deals with numbers.

Start Date: 6th April 2022

End Date: 13th April 2022

  • DT 2022: Bodies Don't Add Up by Distant Tide: This piece of prose stuck with me for a while, because it describes quite well the volume of human suffering brought to bear by the Created's artificial army. High quality descriptions, enough twists from present to past to keep a reader engaged, and it felt like the characters were adequately explored without needing a thesis course on their backgrounds. But... I could only see the most tenuous of connections to the prompt to do with numbers, and I felt personally that by the time the first numbers were mentioned, enough had passed in the story for the piece to now be about something else. So while the sense of community and character remained throughout, the thread of numbers arrived too late to meaningfully affect the story in any way. A solid entry, with an idea that has potential, but sadly one that I cannot call a winner.
  • We Need to Talk About Oh-Five-Five by LegendOfElTopo: Right off the bat I will admit an inherent bias towards ONI Shenanigans, especially presented in a manner that suggests deeper connotations within connotations right from the start. The decision to have the piece in PRESENT tense was one I immediately latched onto as interesting. It gave a sense of unfamiliar discomfort the scene, as though the reader is themselves in the room. This fly-on-the-wall nature of the piece lends itself well to an Office Shakedown, the layers upon layers of redaction and secrecy, of unsaid meanings and unspoken jabs. My one and only complaint here, ironically, is the exact opposite of the previous piece. While the previous piece didn't seem to have enough truly coherent narrative connections to numbers, here there seems to be too many. I feel like this piece would've done better had Harriet been referred to by her Gamma number all throughout, especially considering the title of the piece. The nature of the piece is, after all, her 'duplications' in Zone 67. Nevertheless, it had significance assigned to numbers, which is what I asked, and is well deserving of the win.

Week 242: Renewed, Both In Body And Mind

Judge: Actene

Prompt: We find ourselves in Holy Week, the week leading up to Easter Sunday (at least in the western tradition). This observance is more meaningful to some than others, but I find it seasonally appropriate to ask for a reflection on renewal or new life. There's nothing fancy here, just come up with a short piece that deals with some form of rejuvenation--of hope, of health, of a relationship or plans for the future. Have some fun with it and cut your characters a break with a new lease on life.

Ballpark of one thousand words while bearing in mind my usual lenience regarding the word limit.

Start Date: 13th April 2022

End Date: 20th April 2022

  • DT 2022: Second Visit by Distant Tide: It’s always nice to see Andra and Merlin moving forward into the uncertain future. This piece offered a good blend of action and location establishment as the team inserted onto Furthest Point. I particularly appreciated the exchanges between the Spartans showing how Andra’s role has shifted over the last couple years. There was a real sense that her relationships with the teammates around her has changed, though perhaps more could be done with the fact that Andra has not previously been portrayed in a Spartan leadership role before. You slipped some great little details into the prose—I particularly liked the imagery of drones helping to herd cattle—but some sections felt a little over-wrought considering the subject material. I’d particularly suggest that you review your syntax as several sentences felt awkward and difficult to read.
  • The Farm by slowfuture (Winner): Oozing with a sense of melancholic hopefulness, this piece felt less like rejuvenation and more like the end of an era. Amy/Hera carries over a decade’s worth of site history with her and this short epilogue (if that’s an appropriate word) feels monumental. Despite the lack of action and the heavy emphasis on personal introspection, you made a good use of the present tense to convey Hera’s feelings on her history. It seems very fitting that Joshua continues to mark a conflicted space within her mental furniture, but I’m glad to see that he became part of Hera’s foundation rather than a cast-off bit of dead history. Even if this is the close of Hera’s journey I like the hopeful note you landed on with this space and am happy to declare it the overall winner.
  • Someone Greater by Arminius Fiddywinks: The Farm edged this out for the win, but only by a hair and admittedly because of its broader ramifications for site lore. Someone Greater really rounds the corner on your Weekly submissions, combining your knack for well-crafted scenarios with a sense of elevated grandeur that really fits the Covenant we’ve come to know from the games and books. Kai’s promotion helps the reader connect to the character through his charming humility. The interior monologue was very compelling, though I couldn’t shake the feeling that it could have been framed in a clearer fashion—perhaps as a prayer to some unseen god or a figure from Kai’s past. The way you bolded the response text to set it apart called for some extra detail to really engage the soliloquy. All in all this was a fun piece to read and I look forward to seeing how future submissions build on this foundation.

Week 243: Another Year Older

Judge: Distant Tide

Prompt: Everyone's got a special day of renewal. Afterall, they came from somewhere. And yeah, age makes it seem less important but it's a day recognizing the uniqueness of life and its experiences. Write a story about a birthday no matter the means of procreation nor the time in which its of note in your tale. It can be celebrated, or lamented. It can be happy, sad, or any other mix of melancholy and bliss. Try for a word count around 1000 words and I'm not really setting hard word limits.

Start Date: 20th April 2022

End Date: 27th April 2022

  • Waiting... by LowBudgetKnight: LBK returns to writing Fanon while also returning to familiar details of his Spartan-IV's Earth and German origins. Cortana's powers transforms the Earth, returning to a seeming more desperate and perilous time but some things don't change in the face of innocence and nostalgia. A son waits for a father to come home but such wishes are far flung in the face of interstellar war and sometimes the simplest wishes become as difficult and fleeting as legends of great, mythical heroes long past. Waiting... is a little on the shorter side of Weekly entries than I'm familiar with it but LBK does a lot with the short tale he offers. There's a slow but consistent pace describing the setting, and a great emotional depth invested in describing the needs of his relevant characters between two separate generations. The descriptions, intuitions, and feelings aren't told through dialogue which can be considered a minus as it's more tell than show without a central character to focus. However, the strength of this story is in its relationships and is emphasized effectively through allegory and metaphor. Overall what we have is an evocative short story telling an empathetic tale I think any audience can sympathize with. I enjoyed it, I look forward to more pieces from LBK and any constructive criticism to offer may simply be to encourage him to experiment more with his descriptions to read aloud when proofreading as he missed the occasional grammatical/stylistic/narrative mistake but these are far and few between.

Week 244: Does it have to go this way?

Judge: LowBudgetKnight

Prompt: Choices, while most might seem small and not much of a life changer, there are those moments in life that the choice will change everything in and around a person. These aren't easy to choose and aren't easier to weigh out, but sometimes you don't have time, it's now or never.  This 600 - 1200 word prompt is all about making a heavy decision. Will you risk your life to save your friend or leave him behind to ensure the mission gets completed? Is killing this person the best choice? Or is mercy the better option. Choices aren't easy, and their outcomes aren't always the best choices made.

Start Date: April 28th, 2022

End Date May 4th, 2022

Week 245: Have you found me, O my enemy?

Judge: Actene

Prompt: Simple prompt this time, write a scene that details an encounter between enemies. "Enemies" here can mean anything from a mortal foe to people at odds with each other over a dispute or disagreement. The circumstances surrounding this encounter are entirely up to you; this can be a violent exchange or simply a tense conversation. I do encourage you to write something more substantive than a straightforward action scene and I will give greater consideration to entries that manage to surprise me with the direction they take. Be creative!

Rough word cap of 1000 words, but my usual flexibility applies.

Start Date: May 5th, 2022

End Date May 12th, 2022

  • Understanding by Brodie-001 : The tense confrontation between Nikita and Alex-A121 outside the downed shuttle plays out with an appropriate ruthlessness. You give the reader a very good sense of the grim contrast between the triumphant Alex and the beaten Nikita. Alex in particular holds the peculiar position of holding all the power in the exchange and yet being made somewhat vulnerable by his own lack of experience. The exchange doesn’t slip into sentimentality and Alex carries out the execution with a ruthless vigor that makes the scene all the more vivid. I did think the story got bogged down a bit in expository details (Weekly entries make it very hard to set an appropriate scene while staying close to the word count). I would have suggested ripping off the band-aid and dumping all the exposition at the beginning of the piece rather than dropping it near the end. But this is a small criticism of a good piece that captures your knack for visceral confrontations.
  • DT 2022: No Victor by Distant Tide (Winner) : This entry’s subject matter was a pleasant surprise. At first I assumed this would be a flashback to the Human-Forerunner war, but the realization that this was in fact a recounting of the events of Halo 4 seems appropriate given the Didact’s belief that he was simply waging a continuation of that conflict by attacking Earth. Your narrative did a great job of conveying the Didact’s arrogance and wounded pride while softening the portrayal with his sense of righteousness and nostalgia. This kind of contrast makes for a great villain and I enjoyed the flow of the action between physical and digital spaces. The inclusion of the Den Mother character near the end felt a little out of place, particularly since “Den Mother” doesn’t seem quite so appropriate for a Forerunner name. I appreciate the desire to draw a parallel between the Master Chief and the Didact but the execution felt a little forced in my reading. This aside, the blend of past and future makes for a very compelling portrait of the Didact, which makes it my pick for this topic’s winner.

Week 246: One Man Wolf Pack

Judge: Ajax 013

Prompt: With the release Season 2 of Halo: Infinite, and the focus on the Lone Wolf Delta-6 operators, I decided to give them some attention with the Weekly. With 1000 worlds, detail a micro-story showing one of the Delta-6 operators fighting far from home, all alone. You should look at themes of isolation, mental fortitude, resilience, dogged determination, and violence of action against their foes.

Start Date: May 11th, 2022

End Date May 18th, 2022

  • DT 2022: Janitor's Bloody Works by Distant Tide : While this is somewhat personal preference, the heavy amounts of purple prose somewhat dilute the story itself. Its good for setting the stage, but somewhat overstays its welcome. In a longer story, this might work, but for the compacted nature of the Weekly, it feels like its a long while before getting to the action scene. This is well offset by the visceral nature of the all too brief action scene, where the violence of action is shown well.
  • Expendable Wolves by Actene : The story is tense, and sets the tone nicely, and paints a vivid picture of the world, and those on it for the reader. It really gets under the skin of the isolation and hopelessness of a Delta-6 operator, far flung from home and alone against seemingly impossible odds. Its also good at showing the kind of foxhole humour soldiers in this situation would fallback on, and their relationship with those that ordered them here. My only main feedback of it, and this may just be me being bloodthirsty, but I would have liked some violence to cap it off.
  • Dragon From Afar by Lieutenant Davis : In the balance of action to inner space, this definitely leans heavily into the action area. The action is very well written, and easy to follow, with concise but well chosen descriptions, giving a good sense of whats happening around the protagonist. What edges it out of the lead is the lack of inner thought from the protagonist, dwelling on their thoughts, personality, not giving words to their inner space. It could of done with time spent focusing on Jin's thoughts, and the loneliness and isolation of his profession.

Week 247: A Little Chat

Judge: Actene

Prompt: Thanks to a few discussions on the site Discord, this entry is a simple one: write a conversation between two or more characters, conveying something of substance within the usual constraints of 1000 words or so. The subject matter and theme is entirely up to you, just try to create a compelling exchange through whatever approach you choose.

Start Date: May 18th, 2022

End Date May 25th, 2022

  • DT 2022: Empty Rooms by Distant Tide: It feels a bit weird dropping feedback on an incomplete piece, so for now I'll say that I enjoy just about anything taking place at AJJAMS ("A-jams," because I will make that a thing) and that you do a pretty good job setting the scene. A bit too long of a job given the weekly format, but this still has potential to be an interesting piece. I'd be happy to drop some more substantive feedback either here or via messaging once the short is complete, so keep up the good work!
  • Job Interview by Lieutenant Davis : Although your piece is largely a vehicle for establishing facts about the state of Colonial Militia forces in 2560, you avoided the frequent trap of expository dialogue by framing the conversation as an interview—exactly the type of environment where these awkward explanatory questions get asked. The piece served as a great means of establishing Anwar’s character as he steps into a larger world. The details provided about the nature of the militia were well thought out, as were references to security measures the UNSC is falling back on in a post-Created galaxy. If I had to be nitpicky I’d say that Anwar could have used a bit more characterization, either through some social cues or internal narrative. I can’t say I’m coming away from this piece knowing much about him other than his understandable affection for the Colonial Militia, but the limitations of a weekly prompt being what they are I can’t criticize very strongly there. All in all a very solid piece that continues the themes you played with in last week’s entry.

Week 248: In Memoriam

Judge: Distant Tide

Prompt: I did it last year too, leave me alone. It's Memorial Day weekend this week for Americans. While I'm not asking anyone to fly any patriotic colors, I thought I'd bring back a somber prompt about remembering history, fallen, past, and loved ones. Remembering the things we cherish, loved, and cared about. What's something your character remembers or remembered and how are they dealing with somber emotions in a sometimes harsh reality and a lesser world without something they held or remembered dearly. It can be a positive, even cheerful prompt too but try to keep the topic within "in memory of." Aim for around 1000 words maximum but I won't worry too much about word counts as per usual.

Start Date: May 26th, 2022

End Date June 2nd, 2022

  • Arthur.txt by Underlord1271: I like this format, reminds me of some of those pre-Halo sci fi computer games with their storytelling hidden away in text-based narratives split from the main plot and gameplay and yet I also felt a slight chuckle that we're still using .mp3 and .txt file formats in the 26th century. Next time I recommend try coming up with a more unique way to identify a file format so it doesn't feel as dated or take the reader out of the narrative though its more nitpicking than anything else. I really liked this letter, while its a bit on the 'you know this is a story' rather than someone writing a letter of frustration at the universe, it does a very good job of connecting the dots and offering material that a reader can say "Yep, that a parent of a Spartan-II" and the horrifying consequences that come with it. The hint of an "imposter syndrome" of sorts to what the audience knows to be a matter of fact where the protagonist only has a crazy suspicion and how other worldly it must feel to not trust anyone around your or your own reality because you realize your child is somewhere out there in the universe, that must be utterly terrifying and this letter communicates it very well. Add that with some of Kilo-5's best beats, this short story joins a lot of in-universe implications that make it a very enjoyable read.
  • Etched in Stardust by LastnameSilver - Winner: Another fancy page format and from Silver no less, both a surprise and an awesome one at that. Glad to see a post from you again! I wouldn't have capitalized "glassfield" personally since its more of a new noun that isn't a name for a specific object but a generic term for a location/geographical feature. MST calendar - North America/Mountain Standard Time/Earth? 10 light years is almost Earth anyway... I really like this short's physical description and scene setting because the presentation is very strong and emphasize a feeling of "being there" though the "why" eluded me for some time until I made it close to the end and the story clicked. Excellent use of science fiction, and "light as a time machine" of sorts. I'm a little dubious that any telescope on a planet with an atmosphere could get such clean visuals of Reach from 10 light years but that can be easily written off for the benefit of the story because it is very inventive. I really dug your "remember Reach" story, it handles remembrance in a very unique way. All the stories in this line up were excellent, easily some of the best collections of entries I've read in some time and they all handle the theme perfectly. I ended up choosing Silver's story as the winner in the end because I think it was the most inventive with its premise which is no slight at the quality in the other works, I just find the concept of using the speed of light as a matter of memorialization to be a very impressive display of storytelling. Congrats Silver, glad to read another excellent tale from you!
  • Rasq Writes: For Us The Living by Quirel: There's an interesting nature to this short with the date of its setting, May - 2 months after the ceasefire. There's an underlying implication that it took 2 months for many of these UNSC veterans and GIs to even start to relax a little that their long war might be coming to an end or a close. The Chaplin's speech implies there's still some doubt to that too. South Ossetia, as in the Georgian microstate? Interesting choice of mention - not important but my brain latched onto that for some reason or another. Oh, this is a very inspired ceremony - the drink for the fallen will break new ground for the next generation of human defenders, I like that. One more for the dead. One more for you, Dad. I like the implication of this story as it handles a familiar scene but one with details that aren't easily or rarely are apparent in other examples of the gathered soldiers remembering the fallen. The details and objects in the scene have a purpose and they come together to tell a wider story. I can't think of a better way to show a writer's skill than their ability to take many pieces of an idea like lego bricks, stitch them together, and turn it into a narrative that resonates in the audience. That's some excellent handling and very appropriate for following Memorial Day in particular.

Week 249: To Be Continued

Judge: Actene

Prompt: Weeklies prompts intentionally do not seek to produce short stories - the intent of these prompts is to invite large swathes of the community to exercise their writing muscles and some users have more time and experience with longform stories than others. However, small chunks of writing - 500 words here, 500 words there - gradually add up to a far greater whole over time, enabling anyone with enough focus to produce longer stories and narratives. This prompt invites you to experiment with this by writing a short piece (roughly 1000 words, as always) that you intend to continue next week with another 1000 word entry.

There's no theme here, just have fun and write whatever you please. Entries will be judged subjectively and there's no guarantee that the sequel to this week's winner will win the next prompt as well. I do suggest that you try to catch your reader's interest with your ending this week to build anticipation for whatever you plan to bring to the table next week.

Start Date: June 1st, 2022

End Date June 8th, 2022

  • Carnaphract by LastnameSilver: The Banished continue to be a criminally under-utilized faction within site lore, so I really appreciate entries like this that flesh them out and take advantage of their raw, brutal power. I loved the creative terms you drew up (“Gunketch”, “Carnaphrakt”, “Ketchmaster”) that fit neatly into the distinctive Banished style and did a lot of work to help the reader associate the raiding sequence with the broader Banished arsenal. Your vivid descriptions of space combat gave the sequence momentum and made it a lot of fun to read. I did notice a few run-on sentences that didn’t seem to serve much purpose as well as punctuation issues (typically non-proper capitalized nouns, “Fleet,” “Cruiser”, etc.) that distracted from the reading. Fortunately these can easily be addressed with a quick proofread. The omniscient narrative helped paint a broad picture of the action, but the lack of a named point of view character made it somewhat difficult to follow the action in places. These points aside, great job; I’m excited to see how you follow this entry up.
  • DT 2022: In The Mud by Distant Tide (Winner): Poor Merlin can’t catch a break. This piece is a fun turn to the beginning of Merlin and Andra’s relationship, if you can call brawling and Andra’s headspace trauma fun. Although it is somewhat predictable that Merlin and Andra’s relationship would get off to a rocky start, I liked the little details you slipped in to highlight both characters’ immaturity. Andra’s internal coping mechanisms and Merlin’s inability to take the hint reminds the reader that these characters are children, which isn’t something you often encounter with Spartan training stories. With regards to overall writing, I noticed a lot less filler prose here than I’ve seen in your older pieces, which helped keep me focused on the more important details within the story. This week’s winner is a tough call, but as I’m subjectively predisposed to character work I land on “In The Mud” as this prompt’s winner.

Week 250: As You May Recall...

Judge: Actene

Prompt: As per last week's prompt, this entry invites you to write a continuation of your previous submission. There's no further stipulations, just write something fun that moves your story forward. As a caveat, if you didn't submit anything for the last prompt you are free to participate in this one; just write a follow-up to any Weekly entry you've previously submitted. You may choose to either write the new content into the existing entry's page or create a new page. In the latter case, please include an introductory blurb linking back to whatever piece you're continuing. As with last week, try to aim for around 1000 words.

Start Date: June 8th, 2022

End Date June 15th, 2022

  • A Letter to the Metal Men by EvenManatee887 (Continuation of Humanity): It’s interesting to see a follow-up for a Weekly entry written back in 2019, and while the brevity of your entry makes the scene a bit jarring I was impressed by the jump in quality you show through more complex paragraphs and thematic pacing. The core of Lyzander’s conflict—his perceived failure to live up to the Spartans who came before him—is a great way to note the generational divide separating the Spartan-IIs and IIIs and feels fitting given Lyzander’s liminal experience on psychological leave (the correlation between Lyzander’s recollection of being hoisted up by an evacuation craft as a child and his feelings of emotional suspension was particularly striking.) One small form criticism I offer is that numbers ought to be written out in prose form—“one” rather than “1”, “two” rather than “2” etc.
  • DT 2022: Their Small Start by Distant Tide: This is a hefty entry, clocking in at nearly 2000 words. I know I frequently advise potential writers that the word limit on entries is more a suggestion than a rule, but lengthier pieces are a bit more difficult to power through, particularly when matched up against a bountiful field like this one. With that bit of whining out of the way, this is a nice follow-up to your last piece. I find myself increasingly interested in the various side characters like Dellend or Romero who pop up in Delta Company’s training cycle. This piece was a bit heavy on exposition and might have benefited from condensing the time between Merlin and Andra’s punishment and subsequent reconciliation to a single paragraph. The scene in Dr. Romero’s office was a neat way of highlighting the differences between the two characters and the encounter is one I hope to see referenced and utilized in future shorts.
  • Carnaphract by LastnameSilver (Winner): I’m very glad that you chose to simply expand on your existing page rather than create a new one. Your combined entries come the closest to what I envisioned for these twin prompts: two separate efforts coming together to compose a larger story (though that is by no means a criticism of the other entries). As I noted in last week’s feedback, the action flowed better once named characters emerged in the text. The earlier battle reads even better as part of the combined piece and once again you do a great job in evoking the techno-savage brutality of the Banished. If I had to criticize anything I’d suggest that you should have left the last segment with Belmont out entirely (at least in its unfinished state) as it detracts from the origin of Lucarius Casketborn. The effort you put in to formatting the page itself is just icing on the cake and I’m happy to list this second iteration as this prompt’s winner.
  • Delayed Blowback by LegendOfElTopo (Follow-up to Outreach): This continuation of an older piece doesn’t reach quite so far back in time as Even’s, but it marks a welcome return to form and makes me think we should encourage linked Weekly entries more often. You did a great job in capturing Owain’s frustration and the tension between him and Hari. As characters defined as much by their physical capabilities as their personalities, Spartans are even more vulnerable to bodily deterioration than other people. Your piece did some good work in capturing the effect Owain’s injuries had on his psyche as well as his relationship with Hari. I’d be interested in a future piece that looked at the effect Hari’s junior status as a member of Gamma Company had on her relationship with the more senior Owain—its omission here felt a bit surprising.

Week 251: Little Blue Lady

Judge: Distant Tide

Prompt: In awe or horror, depending on how you feel about the topic, let's have some writing around the theme of artificial intelligence because another image generator is running around giving the Internet some laughs and discussions of self-aware machines is in the news again. With a 1000 word prompt soft target as always, write a story that explores AI or features something in relation to AI. Since its become common for feedback not to arrive until the weekend, new deadline for weeklies going forward will be Friday nights, per Actene's suggestion.

Start Date: June 17th, 2022

End Date June 24th, 2022

  • Halo: Memento Mori by LastnameSilver: Silver, 6000+ words. You’re killing me, man. I’ll let the word count go this time, but I won’t do it next time. While I’m not against long stories with an interesting story and a writer’s polish, there are limits and this story is throwing me a challenge to read it. In terms of overall presentation, it’s a great display of wordsmithing and prose to establish a nontangible space as a tangible one. However, you use more words than you need and overdo it – explaining cyberspace with words that sometimes feel more like they were slapped in to establish the setting as ‘Tron-like’ but the number of times I saw things like “parsing protocol” feel more like set dressing than something useful to the story. The method of non-conversation using vague-HTML-like strings and dialogue between the AI is alien and there is a current of a horror story underneath the technobabble and jargon. In short order, this story is body horror for a non-human entity with very human-like characteristics and that’s cool. However, I think the Tron-like setting, neck collars, and silent demises remind me of I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream, it struggles to balance its human and unhuman characteristics and the number of things happening weigh the story down when it its way beyond the word count. The concept of a Banished AI eating human AI, and technically Covenant equivalent ones is intriguing and I like the macro-horror of it. I also got a bit of an Alien w/ Ripley kind of feel midway through the story fighting between the human AI and the later-established non-sapient-till-later Banished AI. And then the redemption, I could call it Beauty and the Beast by the roles but I’m probably stretching my own analogies in my own right here. I really liked the experimentation but this story really overstayed its welcome and I did struggle to get through it. You did great work but I can’t mince words when I say I struggled reading this story. Still, this short story makes me want to take Baleful for a spin, seems like a very interesting character with the establishment of Banished AI being out there now thanks to Halo Infinite.
  • Incident Report by Navisul97 and LegendOfElTopo - Winner: I’m surprised to see a collaboration for the weekly. I’m not even sure we have rules for or against these things. Anyway, getting into the meat of it, this is a fun story between AIs acting very human in a universe that otherwise tries often to balance between subdued and overexaggerated human expressions for what only amount to human simulacra. I really love human-like portrayals in AI and Incident Report scratches that itch. I don’t know what that says about me but a lot of people also don’t like that. If it’s another judge, maybe I would’ve taken points off for both entries due to the very human portrayals. Last time I wrote a short story about Yuki, one of my non-Halo fanfic friends was horrified to learn she was a catgirl (not that the guy is ever above reproach – one of his current fanfics is about a girl stuck in a cat avatar in an FPS VR game). While we’re not told much of Owain’s circumstances, the impression by the three separate AI dancing around jurisdiction, policy, and general human emotion give the reader hints and ideas of the incident, doing more with less. This was a fun scene that exemplifies the idea of a minimalist play: a few actors on a stage with no props and just telling their story. In the end I decided to give Zoup and Navi the win for this week. While I think Silver’s fiction was more inventive, my engagement mileage was more with Incident Report than Memento Mori.

Week 252: Spirit of Competition

Judge: Ajax 013

Prompt: With the canonisation of multiplayer through things like War Games, and Anvil Station we now have an entire world of Spartan (and occasionally Sangheili) competition, fighting in training with a competitive aim. For this weekly, your task is to use 1000 words to show competition between individuals or teams in these simulated combat exercises.

Start Date: June 26th, 2022

End Date July 1st, 2022

Weekly 253: Look To Thine Enemy

Judge: LastnameSilver

Prompt: Plenty of stories in Halo deal with shady ONI Projects. Secret organisations, clandestine programmes, black ops—plenty that explore ONIs magic bullets and Wunderwaffen. What I wanna see is something from the Covenant side of things; like the weapons smuggling on The Rubble, or the Silent Shadow ambushing Headhunter teams.

Your prompt, in 1,500 - 2,000 words-ish, tell me a story about a Covenant magic bullet, wonder weapon, special secret project, or Black Op aimed at winning any of their myriad historic wars, or just dishing out a little havoc.

Bonus points if Forerunner shenaniganising is kept to a minimum.

Start Date: July 2nd, 2022

End Date: July 9th, 2022