Week 53: A New Beginning

With my year of filling the role of judge out, I now gladly hand the responsibilities of the project over to slowfuture, who has guest judged before and volunteered to take it on. May we all wish him luck, and ourselves in our responses to the prompts he designs.

I would first off like to congratulate Ahalosniper on his superlative running of the Weekly for the past year, I hope I can continue his good work.

Prompt: So, one thing I remember about the site when I first joined middle of 2008, there was a huge exploration in what happened following the post-Human-Covenant War; most of which was more warfare if my memory serves me correctly. But for my first prompt, I'm hoping to allow you to write something happy and positive, perhaps in contrast to Sniper's final post - but if I know Halo Fanon that's unlikely! In about 600 words or less, write how your characters felt as the HCW came to an end and how they hoped the future would be. Are they excited for the future? Are they distraught as they are forced to rebuild their worldview? Good luck.

  • Promotion by DarthNicky
    • This vignette captures two things about this prompt that I had hoped to see -- one example is, albeit, only mentioned in passing -- and that is of people leaving the military after a war that raged for three decades, and of promotions in the wake of what I have always imagined to be resignations en masse. So I commend you for this. As for the content, my biggest complaint is how rushed the entire scene feels. There's very little time to allow the scene to settle - I would have liked a little more back and forth between the two before moving onto the crux of the piece. Secondly, I would have liked a little more description. Small touches like mentioned that Lucas had the patches promptly on display for O'Neil or that the datapad was next to him, highlighting that Lucas was prepared. It's a minor gripe I know, but it is important in storytelling. For example instead of 'Lucas then ushered him out of his office,' you could say. "Lucas raised his hand and swiftly waved it towards the door." It just allows for a more visual experience. A small issue, but you say 'resignation of resignation'. That aside, I'm looking forward to reading more of your entries as the weeks progress!
  • Reflection by Sierra-A143
    • Another interesting piece. It's true that for Spartans the war never really finished and likely would never really finish. The UNSC will always have those who wish to fight against it. Like above, and this is something I am going to try and impress while I'm the judge, is the importance of showing rather than telling. For the third and fourth paragraphs I would have liked to have some description of Nathaniel's body language, as opposed to the telling of the emotions that he was cycling through. Again it's small things like this that allow for your characters to come alive in your work - and you do have examples of this later in your piece. My rule of thumb is that when I go through discussing emotions my character feels I try and include one or two reference to their facial expression or stance, or something as simple as balling their hands into fists, turning their knuckles white. Regardless, I found the ending to be very touching, it's good to see that despite the despair Nathaniel feels there is some reason to feel some joy.
  • Scarred by Timothy Emeigh
    • There seems to be some contradiction between the mini blurb at the top of the piece and the actual contents of the piece, or I might simply be misunderstanding the intentions of such. Regardless this is a well-written piece but it doesn't really discuss the prompt I had in mind, instead that is relegated to the last couple of paragraphs. I feel like it might have been better to instead have the piece focus on her in the cockpit, that way it allows for a dialogue between herself and someone else. It would let you dive deeper into the recon aspect of her career and why she is so excited to return to piloting. While it might not match up perfectly with the prompt I do want to stress that this is a very well-written piece and am excited to read more of your work.
  • Something Felt Wrong. . . by Slower Than Most
    • Perhaps the darkest and most hopeless piece put forward in this weeks challenge - and a good one at that. However, my one enduring complaint with it is the telling rather than showing. This piece feels like someone is just telling me what's wrong instead of using Aylla herself to highlight the pain and loss she feels, as well as how ill at ease she feels with her replacement organs. I would have loved a description of how she looked on the bed, a mention of her face as she tries to come to terms with the anguish of losing her squad. It feels very cerebral and detached considering the depth of emotion you are dealing with in this piece, and it's especially disappointing because of how well this piece is written. I would like to see an expanded version of this piece because it has the potential to be the turning point of your character's development.
  • Someone Else's Victory by Actene
    • Ah, Stray and the Rat Pack. A criminally underused asset of yours if I may say so. I'm going to use this piece as a teaching exercise of the importance of showing rather telling. This piece is chock full of description and it is easy to visualise the entire scene and its lacklustre surroundings. The best example is that of Estebar "curled a fist around the barrel of her rifle" - this in particular informs the reader that she is angry without explicitly showing us. It allows us to imagine the tightening grip, the scowl upon her face as she hears news that she knows isn't good for her and her planet. Stray 'slunking' behind his comrades is a good word choice to end the piece on. Stray was made for one thing - war, and he contributed almost nothing to it. If I had one thing to complain about, I perhaps would have liked Stray to feature more prominently in this piece but that aside, this is my pick of the week.
  • Breath by Brodie-001
    • You know, when I came up with prompt I was imagining the Arbiter in his ship as he left Earth, and I expected to be met with a plethora of Voi pieces. Luckily enough I got a diverse list and my imagined prompt to dissect! Perhaps one of the greatest weaknesses of the Voi scene in H3 is how bereft of people the ceremony is, perhaps due to the limitations of technology in 2007 and we as a community have come together to fill in the gaps. This piece adds new vibrancy to that particular scene. The camaraderie between these Spartans is immediate and apparent, you've done an excellent job of highlighting that these men really have been fighting together for decades and for that I commend you. I have one issue and that is the small part where Marco comments on the formal dress being monkey suits and Jax's reaction to that - I would have just liked to see a small description of how stiff or awkward Marco looked in the suit. That aside, I thoroughly enjoyed this piece.

Week 54: Betrayal

Prompt: Quick thanks to Brodie for giving me the idea for this prompt. So in Halo, each of the two warring factions has their own internal conflict - the URF and the larger Insurrection, while the Covenant has its religious heretics. While the larger halo novels has given us a series of colourful UNSC rebels they've never given us much detail why they would defect other than some throwaway corruption comment. For this prompt I would like you all to write about why someone, doesn't have to be one of your characters can be one created exclusively for this prompt, would betray their allegiance to their particular faction - whether UNSC to the URF, or a Religious Heretic coming back to the fraternity of their Covenant. 600 words or so should be enough. Have fun!

Week 54: A Moment of Doubt

Prompt: So for this prompt, I'd like you all to write about a particular part during the war, be in HCW or a post-war conflict, that one of your characters began to doubt the legitimacy of their mission - was all this really worth fighting for? By the end I'd like to see whether or not this doubt has been resolved or strengthened by the events around them. I'll give you about 1000 words - Have fun!

*Division by Brodie-001 - Winner

    • One of the most conflicting things about Humanity after the end of the HCW is how quickly that old tensions and issues resurface. Indeed these soldiers deployed here knew they were fighting for their very species existence and now that they have a reprieve they have to deal with this? It's exactly what I wanted when I asked for this prompt. However, I would have loved it if you had focused in on one of his troopers in particular, would have just heightened the human element of the piece. All in all, a good piece.
  • Faithless by Lordofmonsterisland
    • I must admit I did not expect any piece to focus on the Jiralhanae, they are not a species I often associate with empathetic emotions. This is a good emotional piece that really personalises the experience felt by our protagonist. If I had one particular criticism is that I'm not sure I understand the ending - is he going on a rampage? But it insinuates at first that he's sick of violence by going looking for more violence? Perhaps I'm misinterpreting but that's how I understood it. That aside, I enjoyed it.
  • Was it all worth it? by S-D379
    • First off I think it's important to point out that you describe the planet in a similar fashion three times within the first four paragraphs. It would be better if instead you started off with particular aspects of the planet's glassing, gradually increasing detail for very specific parts of the occurrence. I also would caution against using etc. when giving examples in fictional prose. That aside this exactly the kind of piece I was looking for and I am glad you submitted it!

Week 55: Fly Me to the Moon

Quick update! LOMI and I have agreed to rotate judging duties on a tri-weekly basis. I'm currently too busy with work to really devote time to this exclusively -- as you can see by my late judging. In order to ensure this competition continues we've decided to work together. Anyway, I'll see you all in a few weeks - now LOMI, over to you!

Prompt: For this week, I'll give you a short and sweet prompt with a lot of creative freedom: give me something involve anti-gravity, real or simulated. Doesn't matter how, just be creative with the idea. Evokes those same feelings of "wow" and "this is pretty cool" we felt doing outer space firefights in Halo 2 and Halo 4, or the cinematic rush down a Guardian from Halo 5. Around 600 words should be sufficient, so good luck!

  • Derelict by Brodie-001
    • I like how you use this to hint at the possibility of the Banished without stating it outright - the subtle hints work well. I also like how there's emphasis placed on the fireteam working together to clear the ship. Perhaps it's just me, but it always seems like we, as fanfiction writers, forget to show the Spartan-III's team efforts or have them running solo. There was nice focus on the differences in combat that anti-gravity presents, though nothing particularly eye-popping. As for technical notes, I would say there are just a handful of things that could've been worded different: leaving out the last sentence of the highly descriptive fifth paragraph, or changing the phrase "and began the slow journey" to "trudged" or "slogged". Just small things here and there. Overall, a very solid piece.

Week 56: Know Your Enemy

Hey there, LOMI still here! I'll let it slide if you need a little more time to finish a submission for last week's prompt, but now it's time for me to get the next prompt started promptly. Ha! Yeah, I'll show myself out after this...

Prompt: Halo Wars 2 is coming up on us fast, so let's celebrate shall we? In about 500 words or so, give me a piece about a commanding officer trying to take control of the battlefield. Are they fretting over the situation from a UNSC outpost, watching monitors and unit statistics to determine their next move? Could they be a Covenant warrior, charging the frontlines alongside their finest warriors? Or is it something more shadowy, like ONI or the Created manipulating things from afar? Show me what you've got, ladies and gents

  • Unexpected Resistance by Minuteman 2492
    • Definitely a very brief scene, which brings to mind my first note: I'm not really getting a big picture here. By the end of the piece, I've come to realize that this is some form of rebel attack against the academy. However, I wish this had been made more clear at the start. At first I thought it was a live-fire test for the cadets, then a battle with the Covenant, before it all cleared up at the end. I believe the concept makes for something unique to this piece, but the execution is a little bit of a "text wall clump." The very first paragraph suffers a bit in formatting: periods, colons and semi-colons would've been useful to you, breaking up the orders more efficiently. Similarly, the last two paragraphs mix dialogue and prose in ways that don't work well. In the future, consider breaking the paragraph into smaller pieces, usually starting with the various dialogue lines. However, in the grand scope of things, it does give us a good view of a commander working to keep his troops together despite difficulties, and that's why I named it this week's winner.
  • Painful Silence by Sierra-A143
    • A lot of dialogue in this piece, which keeps telling us what's going on. Normally, I'd say the dialogue adds flavor to a piece, but here it's almost too much. I would've liked to have seen more descriptors in the story: the words are being said, but how? And when a description was given, it was detached from the dialogue, making it feel like an unrelated detail. For the first few paragraphs, there's no context given for who's speaking since everything is in pronouns. I'm not sure if you were trying to create mystery, but I only saw confusion. Giving names up front to associate dialogue to helps keep things flowing without needless overthinking. Finally, while some of the details are nice, they seem to be said then glossed over: someone fired a nuked at Spartans? There is a fireteam of Spartans working for ONI? Why is CHANCELLOR confused by the number of friendlies at first? A nice piece, but further clarification would've been helpful.

Week 57: LvUrFR3NZ

Prompt: This week is pretty simple, ladies and gents: it's Valentines Day this week, so give me your best shorts on love, loss and the feels. All in good taste though, please. Keep it around 600 words or less, and good luck!

  • Stargazing by Timothy Emeigh
    • Emotionally speaking, this was a very nice piece. It conveys a very tender, simple love without using words, much like the lovers by the end of the story. It also captures upon the idea of how fragile and fleeting love can be, especially in the midst of a war. That said, from a technical standpoint, it could use a little work. The entire story is four very blocky paragraphs: while that's not bad, given the lack of dialogue, paragraphs are meant to break apart separate thoughts. As an example, the second paragraph could've been split in half at "but tonight was different," as that sentence begins a description of why it's different. Similarly, when you start listing things - such as the second sentence of the third paragraph - you tends to use a lot of commas, when instead you could reword slightly and divide the ideas into separate sentences. So instead of "Millions of tiny specks of fire blazed and twinkled in the dark, Sirona’s moon casting... [etc]", it would read something like "Millions of fiery specks twinkled in the dark as Sirona's moon cast a blue glow across the scene. The orange light... [etc]". As a final note, you overuse "flowery" descriptors too often. In the previous example, I changed "millions of tiny specks of fire blazed and twinkled" to "Millions of fiery specks twinkled;" "tiny" is implied by "specks," while blazing and twinkling denote two different things.
  • Talitsa February by Actene
    • There's not really much for me to note when it comes technical points, so I'll focus on the emotional and story-telling content. I'll say first that the small, quick details really help draw the scene in my mind: Zoey's quick, nervous movements around Simon, probably coupled with a nervous hair swipe or tap of her finger on her knee, foiling well to Cassandra's calm, subtly aggressive demeanor and Simon's thinly veiled anger. You can almost feel Simon gritting his teeth while mockingly mimicking "who would've thought?" back at Cassandra. I also enjoy that this really plays on all the themes I presented as possible aspects for this prompt: Simon has lost, Cassandra has love and maybe a little loss, and Zoey has a good old case of the feels. I will note that while I feel everything flows really well, the final paragraph is a bit of a dud, mostly in the last two sentences: I would have found it better had Zoey given commentary within her mind, as it would feel more personal than merely stating things as the detached narrator. That said, I still feel it is deserving to be the winner of this contest.
  • 600 Trillion Miles To Home by Ajax 013
    • Usually I get on to people for not having enough paragraph breaks: this story feels like it suffers from a large block of text followed by too many paragraph breaks. Personally, I would have cut the opening paragraph down to a quarter or third of the original size, such as "Ajax took a calming breath. He steadied his hand, and looked at the blank monitor, catching a glimpse of his reflection as he pressed the call button. Sitting back, the computer began ringing as it crackled to life, before the monitor sparked and a woman's face appeared. Lying in bed, bedraggled auburn hair obscured her face as she stared into the camera." Afterwards, the dialogue back-and-forth works really well, though I feel it's too many paragraph breaks. How to remedy this exactly, I honestly don't know - I don't have all the answers to writing technicalities, only suggestions. I'll say that this is a very different emotional perspective for Ajax, as love isn't something usually associated with him: the small lovebird touches, with awkward hand motions, distracted mutterings and the inability to spit it out. Hopefully we can get some more depth to Ajax in the future as well.

Week 58: Recommissioned

Prompt: So, at the suggestion of Actene, we're going to try something a little unconventional this week. Instead of submitting a short story, I want you to give me your best pitch for a fan-made faction for Halo Wars 2 DLC. Tell me about the faction, their strategies, unit types and even a campaign storyline if you have one in mind. Show me what you've got, fanonites. Somewhere less than 800 words please: something more akin to an RTS manual breakdown versus a Halopedia article

  • Halo Wars 2: Swords of Sanghelios DLC by Ahalosniper
    • A rare entry from Sniper, and first post at that. On top of that, it manages to give most of the things that I asked for. The campaign is a very brief synopsis, but it gets across the ideas for a nice DLC run that works well with canon. While there's little to add in regards to base building and combat style, the leaders and unit types provide a good grasp of the variety of Swords units and how they can be upgraded. Given the concise, manual-esque nature of the entry and all the myriad things it offers, this is my pick for winner of this challenge
  • Halo Wars 2: The Raiding Legion DLC by Actene
    • While I would've liked to see more about units, given how the Kru'desh are a rather unique faction. Covert Siphon is a rather unique leader power, but otherwise they all seem rather standard. The campaign does stand out, especially compared to many RTS campaigns, and manages to tie into and explain much of Simon's story in a very unique way.
  • Halo Wars 2: Republic DLC by Ajax 013
    • I really appreciate how much effort you poured into this, apparent in the amount of content you had to cut to fit the word limit. I also have to say that I like how you drew on both fanon ideas and canon, since one of the staples of RTS is to draw on new ideas as well old, established ones. That said, there's not a lot of uniqueness to this - even disregarding other candidates - and there's no campaign to speak of, both of which being things I was hoping to see from this entry.
  • Halo Wars 2: Insurrection DLC by Another Poetic Spartan
    • There's a nice bit of lore digging here, with the inclusion of things like the Rumbledrugs, and I think this would work really well if it was paired with Lieutenant Davis' Freedom from Tyranny idea. That said, like many of these, I see you did not get to fully finish it, which leaves to wonder what else you might have added.
  • Halo Wars 2: Freedom from Tyranny DLC by Lieutenant Davis
    • While offering me two interesting teases for rebel-themed campaign ideas, teasing me was all you really did. The use of Daniel Black was unexpected, but he and Robert Watts as focal characters would make for a nice contrast. Perhaps you can expand on these ideas in your own articles later.
  • Halo Wars 2: Yanme'e Swarms DLC by Sev40
    • First of all, props for being the most out there faction idea: while everyone else work on ideas for Sangheili and Humans, you went out of a limb and did the Yanme'e. Obviously you didn't get to finish, but I like the way you started forming the Yanme'e Queen as a leader with an on-field unit. Not sure if you had in mind that she would be the base-builder or would summon extra bases, but interesting ideas nontheless.

Week 59: War of Wits

Prompt: So stretching the Halo Wars theme to the max, did anyone catch the nice little commercials of Cutter and Atriox warring over used cars? Something about that, as weird as it is, amuses me. So we'll keep this prompt nice and simple: humor. Come up with something humorous, no matter what the form, when it's set or who's involved. Around 600 words or so, please. Good luck to you all.

Week 60: Goodbyes

Prompt: So I'm back! For this prompt I want you to write a final goodbye between some of your characters, it doesn't necessarily have to be sad! Play with varying emotions and come up with something unique! 600 words or so should be enough! Good luck, have fun!

  • War is Sacrifice by Actene
    • A goodbye was requested, and a goodbye was delivered. I like this glance into a portion of the Chancer V mythos that we never really get to see. It may not be a teary-eyed or death-filled goodbye, but it effectively generates and keeps an aura of sad finality for two characters I've never seen meet before. It also shows the dichotomy between the two rebel leaders: one accepts his fate thanks to his hardened background and one only knows to run when the world he knew collapses. Honestly, I don't have much to weigh in on this piece besides these notes: the structure seems well formed and I don't have any real notes on pacing.

Week 61: Put Off Till Tomorrow What Could Be Done Today

Prompt: Procrastination. Laziness. These are just some of the reasons why I'm not posting a prompt until Thursday for a project called "the weekly." That said, let's explore that same theme with your pieces. Putting things off always has consequences: write me a short piece about a character or group that ignored a problem or kept putting it off, but now it's finally come back to haunt them. Around 600 words, preferably.

  • It's A Survival Blanket by Actene
    • This is a definite change of pace compared to many of your other works, focusing on a quiet moment and intimate feelings more than action, betrayal and moral questions. It also draws on the sympathetic side of Simon buried deep in the character, which is drawn out by the caring Cassandra. You do manage to create a nice back and forth between the Gammas, with the patchwork fabric serving as the vehicle for that conversation. As far as grammatical issues are concerned, there's only minor things. A few places with unnecessary words, such as "what seemed like" in the third sentence, or some alternative punctuation use like adding an ellipsis to the middle of "Wait. Bedsheet?" in the eighth paragraph.

Week 62: Et tu, Brute?

Prompt: The Ides of March was a week or so ago, and we haven't had a good battle prompt in a while, so combine the two for this week's challenge: give me a fun battle scene, but try to have it related to some form of betrayal, whether literal or metaphorical.

  • Ambition's Debt by Actene
    • Perhaps it's just me, but as much as I liked that fight scene, I wish you'd cut down on the word choice. It has a nice pace, but it needs words removed to give it a faster, rapid-fire approach. Simon isn't just in a fight here, he's losing the fight, being beaten by Amber, and the word pacing should reflect that. The betrayal, on the other hand, was well played: while Amber's fight and seizing of Simon's "throne" takes your attention, Diana's subtle, secret betrayal is the one that Simon - in all his tangled, twisted glory - was worried about. A worthy winner, all in all.

Week 63: Pimps at Sea

April Fool's everyone! No prompt this week. Since we've had some prompt time delays over the past few weeks, I decided to give it a rest for one week and let everything reset.

Week 64: One to Remember

Prompt: I've played a lot of Halo over the years, and there's nothing quite like getting together with your friends and completely owning the battlefield. But when the tables turn and its a free for all between your friends, things get a bit more sticky, and that "one story" about you and another guy 1v1'ing tends to get murky down the road. So in that same vein, capture some of the awe of a one-on-one fight between your character and an opponent - preferably another character of yours, but it can be a new character or just a random enemy.

But don't settle for just a fight scene. I want you to give me the juiciest fight scene you can, but give it to me from both fighters perspectives. Maybe their recollections are the same, or maybe the details they notice are very different. In any case, in 800 words or less, give me a battle scene worth remembering - no matter what the details are.

  • Run Silent, Run Deep by Admiral Benjamin Church
    • The first thing that hits me is the unnecessary capitalization in the first sentence. It's a trait that carries on throughout the rest of the story, along with several other grammatical issues, most notably lots and lots of comma splices. All of this would be easily avoided with a simple run through Microsoft Word or some other editor. Secondly, while the prompt did call for two different viewpoints, the slashes to separate them feel very abrupt and unprofessional: tildes (~) or a line (----) would give a cleaner transition, though one through pure prose would have been preferred. After that, I don't really see the point in the story... probably because there isn't one. Admiral Church showcases an impossibly superpowered battleship that blows up another ship with its improbable armament. I'll not diverge into the current NCF issues with those pages here, but perhaps you should consider the why of this scene. Even if Church's warship is super powered and the enemy is outclassed, there should still be more to the scene than "they're blown up." For example, when the UNSC Infinity shows up, it usually outclasses all other ships: despite this, there's a tension to the scenes, because there's always a fear that a critical mistake could be made and the enemy would gain the upper hand.
  • Sins of the Past by Actene
    • I'll note I like that this follows up on a previous Weekly entry - pretty sure this is only the second time we've had one post that relates to another. I'll say that this manages to balance thought and the pace of combat better than your last post: though it's actually a bit slower, it works out as Simon and Tatiana feel like they're slowing down as the fight wears them down. I also like that there's a bit of irony between Tatiana's internal monologue and Simon's current state: while she tries to say dead people like Venter and Kahn hold no sway on her, Simon, who is nearly dead, is still toying with her 'perfect' life to the very end. For me, it is this shift in perspective that pushes it to the forefront as a winner.
  • Rebel's End by Timothy Emeigh
    • I like the subject you chose, since it plays right into the alternating opinions idea. The banter is flowery in places, but it also gets to the point and allows you to focus on the fights. That said, some of the grammar gets in the way of enjoying the rest of the story. For example, in the first paragraph, you have the sentence "Following hallways illuminated only by flashing red lights, Dmitri and his two bodyguards, one a young female, Kate Guillou, pushed through the grunts going in the opposite direct, on their way to man the defenses." Perhaps a better format would have been "Following hallways barely lit by flashing red lights, Dmitri and his two bodyguards pushed down the hall. One bodyguard, a young female named Kate Guillou, pushed through the grunts ahead of Dmitri, reaching the room first." I could be misunderstanding the context, but I feel this would have worked better. That said, the fight scene carries a bit of weight, though I feel it goes on a bit too long for normal, unaugmented humans in my opinion.

Week 65: To Infinity and Beyond

Prompt: Space is a major playing field in the Halo universe, especially the novels, but it's something that characters usually look at in one of two ways: either they are amazed by it or terrified of it. For a sailor, it hosts a vast unknown for them to explore, but for a soldier it's a strange place where their skills are useless. So give me a piece that reflects how your characters react the great blue yonder in roughly 500 words.

  • Orbit by Brodie-001
    • Here we have a story that gives us an angle we usually don't get in Halo fiction: a training mission for something that's not ground soldiers. I like the constant interplay you created with the details of the story: family warned Erika about death and despair awaiting in space, but she ignored the warnings and now its here; she sees Reach, a peaceful place, and then is informed of the ensuing battle; she wonders at the stars, and then has their horrifying contents crash down on her world. All very nicely wrapped up in such a brief scene, making for a very nice winner this week.
  • Cosmos by S-D379
    • My first note is that Anon seems like an odd choice for an AI name, but I digress. This piece is rather short, so I don't manage to get much of a grasp on characters or the situation besides the required musings on space. That said, you manage to bring out Tyler's obsession, his memories and all things associated with those traits in this fleeting span, which I enjoyed. However, I did notice quite a few grammatical issues that you should work on in the future. The last sentence of the fifth paragraph, for example, would've benefited more if "did not know" was after the first comma, and all the descriptors were listed as a series of questions instead. Also, just a personal comment, but I feel the pacing would've worked better had the asteroids occurred immediately after the slipspace exit, then allowing Tyler and Anon to gaze upon the stars once the danger passed.
  • Weightless by Spartan-D042
    • While space and the wonders it affords were definitely part of this piece, I feel like it didn't quite hit the prompt: this story is all about Lancaster finding a peaceful spot, and space happens to be that place. However, he seems more concerned with relaxing for a moment and escaping reality than the stars in front of him. On a more technical note, while most of the story is pretty solid, I feel like the attempts to pseudo-bookend the story work against it instead. Lancaster has relished his feelings enough, and once he starts pulling himself in the reverie is over, so thinking back on it again is just retreading old steps. As for the title drop, I think would've been best left off, since there was an earlier place the word weightless was used that is far more fitting and subtle, thus making the final phrase redundant.
  • The Stars' Memories by Timothy Emeigh
    • My initial thought upon reading this is that these are four very blocky paragraphs. Fewer words and more concise thoughts would likely help, such as shortening the fourth sentence to "It was why she alone had chosen the view of the stars, rather than join the crowd and gaze upon the Covenant fleet behind them". One notion that has been drilled into me by teachers is that flowery words and needless repetition are rarely as effective as driving the point home quickly and purposefully. I'll also note that there are minor grammar qualms here and there, but the one that sticks out is the second paragraph's odd sentence splice. You appear to have taken two different wordings for the same idea and accidentally left them in a single splice. All that said, I like the direction you chose to go with this piece; not enough for a win perhaps, but a nice tonal choice, befitting the prompt I think.

Week 66: Dust and Echoes

Prompt: Benjamin Franklin once said, "Without continual growth and progress, such words as 'improvement,' 'achievement,' and 'success' have no meaning." So, what happens when one of your characters runs out of progress? What happens when they've finally achieved what they've always dreamed of or wanted to do? I'm not concerned particularly with how they got there, so much as what they're feeling: are they satisfied? Or does the victory feel hollow? Or is it something else entirely? In roughly 600 words or so, give me your response to this situation.

  • The Flame by Spartan-D042
    • I've delayed this review a bit too long, but here it goes. Overall, I don't feel there's a lot for me to critique. Looking over the grammar, there area few places where your sentences run on when breaking them up when be a better option. "He thought he'd feel something, but no, he felt nothing, except the tinge of remorse when he found the trophies. " could've been "He thought he'd feel something, but no. Nothing except the tinge of remorse when he found the trophies. ". From a story telling perspective however, I feel like I'm missing some context. You give me the basic layout of what happened, but the final paragraph changes the emotional content for me. Why is Cody saying he was the one that killed his student? I thought this was about Doram murdering everyone? Perhaps it's a personal issue, but I feel the story missed something that would've helped bring it to a proper close.

Week 67: Stop and Smell the Roses

Prompt: The five senses how we experience the world around us - unless you count vague "sixth senses", but that's a whole different boat. Out of these five senses, we most often focus on sight and sound, with a secondary role going out to tactile feelings. But what about that most oft overlooked sense of smell? After all, just the slightest hint of a smell is known to trigger all kinds of memories and feelings. So in about 600 words, write a short piece about your character(s) and their experience with smells.

  • Copper Scent by Actene
    • I give you guys a nice, cozy "smell" related prompt and you deliver sex. Although not exactly the smell I was expecting either. Sex scenes are notoriously difficult and awkward to try and write, but I have to say you managed to do a pretty good job (in my personal opinion). You did manage to make smell a key to this scene, since it's what kills the mood rapidly for Cassandra and highlights the differences between her and Simon. Despite that, this is definitely about the two characters and how their relationship is developing, but it manages to show that quickly and efficiently.

Week 68: Devil in the Details

Prompt: So based on the past two weeks entries, I've noticed that certain details can make or break a story. Two weeks ago, a fact at the end gave me a sense of confusion about the piece, while last week the smell was a detail that changed the story's course. But so often we tell stories that have a point, but they meander through everything to get there. So my challenge this week is to create a story where one, single detail is critically important to the story. 800 words is the upper limit, so good luck.

Week 69: Another Year Older

Prompt: Well that prompt may have been too specific, so here's a little more broad of one. It's my birthday this month, which makes me think we shed a bit of light on our characters birthdays. Is it time for sadness as a Spartan realizes they don't know about theirs? Or is it time for a party in the midst of dark times to lighten spirits? You decide. 600 words or so should do.

  • Another Fruitless Year by Actene
    • Unlike a lot of your pieces, this one lacks a sense of context really. We have an internal monologue where Kopa gets to reminisce about his life and ponder his choices, but we aren't really sure why. Still, I enjoy all the small mentions of Sangheili culture you bring into this to make his feelings truly unique, and overall it is a nice piece, though not a particular stand out for you.
  • Living Off War by Distant Tide
    • I see you introduced it with the note that you're not usually a short fiction writer, and that's fine, but I'll still offer my unbiased opinion. The core concepts are there, but the grammar and structure of the narrative need work. There is a lot of tense disagreement throughout the story - usually stories are written entirely in past tense, while this one swaps between past and present quite a bit. There is also a plethora of run-on sentences and word redundancies. As a small example, "single-purpose task" or "No atmosphere. No air." both restate the previous idea, while sentences like the last one of the first paragraph are run-off with an order that makes it difficult to understand what's going on. The story itself is a decent idea, but unfortunately it's trapped behind some difficult reading; nothing that can't be fixed with time and practice, but enough that I'll pass for this round.

Week 70: AI's a Crapshoot

Prompt: We know that Halo 6 isn't getting announced and released this year, so it looks like we'll have to wait a little longer to see what the Created are up to in the universe. Which means it's the perfect time for us fanoners to figure out how those AI are ruining our characters lives! In 600 words or so, explain what some of your characters are up to in the present day of the Halo universe.

  • End of an Age by Actene, Shift by Spartan-D042, and Wait And See by Distant Tide
    • Normally, I would review these entries separately. However, given the similarities between them and the very few criticisms I have to make, I have deigned to write a single entry addressing things I felt each entry did well. End of an Age is very straightforward in its approach, detailing the current situation of each of the characters involved and where they seek to go from here. It also manages to cover the most characters and plotlines, stretched all across the galaxy. Shift, meanwhile, is focused around one group, dealing with each one's personal motivations and how they are trying to cope with the galactic power shift. Each character's current arc is given a lengthy description because of this approach. The final entry Wait and See suffers from a bit of formatting problems - several line breaks disrupt the italic formatting, whether by design or accident I'm not sure - but otherwise it gives something of a middle crowd between the other two issues, focusing on characters and grander arcs alike. Some of the references confused me at first (I had to do a little research before I realized what 'Boson Spartan' meant) but overall it does a good job. In the end, while all the entries are good contenders and serve their purpose very well, I felt like the focused format of Shift put it just a little bit ahead of the other two.

Week 71: Nowhere to Run

Prompt: Your character is up against the wall, literally or figuratively. They've got nowhere to go, stuck in a dead end situation, or the only survivor of some terrible plot. Show me how they deal with that sort of situation, in 500 words or less.

  • Despair by Brodie-001
    • So I've noticed your stories tend to be a bit on the long side, but this one stood out to me since it was roughly double the limit. Gonna have to keep a closer eye on you guys in the future, aren't I? Anyways, I'd say this definitely gives off a very good picture of utter despair that I was hoping for: Aila has nothing left to lose, leaving her with a choice to detonate herself but she's still questioning it. Something we don't get a lot of in fiction I'd say; usually we have people either happy to make the sacrifice or too scared to do it. Rarely do we get the mid-ground: "I do this because I've got no other choice, and I'm not happy about that." You definitely nail the gloomy atmosphere and Aila's mindset, which makes it a very nice piece in my opinion.

Week 72: Burn the Witch!

Prompt: Heretics? Hypocrisy! How dare you!? Humanity can be awful people, and long story short, people hate change and hate when their world views are challenged. In 600 words or less, give me a short on your characters getting wrapped up in some nice hypocritical situations - whether they're the hypocrites or not is up to you.

  • Full Debriefing by Actene
    • There's something rather interesting about watching an incredibly capable field operative hit the brick wall of military bureaucracy and suddenly become utterly helpless. I think you've really captured Venter's dismay at having everything he has worked for be for nothing, and instantly seeing past the facade of care that the woman debriefing him is putting up really nailed home just how bitter he seems about the whole situation.

Week 73: Glory Lies Beyond the Horizon

Since LOMI's away this week, I'll be taking care of the prompt and last week's review!

Prompt: Charge! When your goal is dead ahead, sometimes the only way forward involves a lot of speed or a lot of violence. Or both. With an upper limit of 1000 words, give me something about your characters rushing ahead to achieve victory - or not.

  • The Push by Timothy Emeigh
    • This is a good, solid piece that really captures Aleksandra's desperate rush to escape from the Covenant. However, I feel that while it's largely just descriptive in terms of actions undertaken we really don't get a sense of how she feels, caught up in a life-or-death situation like this. Just a few lines detailing Aleksandra's thoughts on the situation or how she intends to get past her foes to reach safety would really improve this. Watch out for repetition, too; you've got words like 'evacuation' used more than once in the same sentence and variations on "the morning sun peaked/peaking over the horizon" twice in the story. Otherwise, nice work!
  • High Speed by Distant Tide
    • There's some great back-and-forth here between the characters that doesn't take away from the chase, though I think that this story could benefit from a few paragraphs better describing the scene beyond just a few one-line sentences between the dialogue. I'll chalk that up partly to the restrictive word limit, which in hindsight I should have removed considering my own irreverence for it with a few of my own Weekly posts. Also, there are a few spelling mistakes in this piece, so you might want to give it a quick sweep to correct that. Though brief, it's just what I was looking for with this prompt.
  • Lost in Transit by KingOfYou115
    • This is an interesting take on what I had in mind for the prompt, and while I initially felt like a story about these characters charging a UNSC roadblock in their stolen vehicles might've fit the prompt better than an ambush, this high-speed attack works really well and has certainly gotten me interested in this 'Angels' group and its members in a relatively short amount of time. Despite my earlier gripe, this story is my pick of the week due to its quality.
  • Renegade's Conviction by Actene
    • A very nice submission, even if the 'charge' part did seem secondary to the main battle between Dyne and Venter. Opening up in the midst of their fight was an interesting decision but you were able to set the scene well enough that I or any reader could understand the situation very quickly (Your aversion to timestamp templates will always bug me though). It's not often you see a Spartan on the back foot like this, so watching him forced into a potentially suicidal attack made for a good change of pace compared to other supersoldier-centric stories.
  • Wakeup by Minuteman 2492
    • First off, you should really break up your paragraphs and lines of dialogue to make stories easier to read instead of including them with big chunks of descriptive text. I do appreciate how Ulan urging his men to charge into close-quarters combat is handled, and that his reckless tactics are at least called out afterwards. It's a good piece overall, and certainly does a great job of handling the surprising intensity of a mock battle.

Week 74: She Said that to Me, Once

Prompt: We all have characters with varying moral compasses: we have heroes, the villains they face, a few in that moral grey zone, and some who are just bastards. But regardless of what kind of moral compass they may follow, their personalities endear them to us. This is true both in and out of canon: we all know of Master Chief, the loyal soldier with curt humor and lucky streaks, or Gavin Dunn, the jovial starship captain with a dark past that always end up in one wacky misadventure or another. Our interpretations might differ, but we are drawn into these characters nevertheless. So in 1000 words or less, give me a piece showing off your character(s) personality in a situation that you feel showcases their defining characteristics - or maybe shows them questioning why those are their defining characteristics.

  • Unflinching, Unremorseful by Minuteman 2492
    • I don't get to see a lot with Ulan personally, so this was a nice look into who he is as a character. My immediate thought is that your prose gets a bit purply and flowery, where conciseness might serve you better. The 9th and 10th paragraphs, for example, use a lot of descriptive phrases and overly long sentences to convey the (relatively) short thought of Ulan traveling, restraining himself and then seeing the captive. That said, the second half with Ulan executing Montana was very well written for the most part, though perhaps "so much bad" would've been better as "so much ill." I also question why there's so calm a response to Ulan's actions: I'm not sure if the captain is a higher or lower rank than Ulan, but even if I assume lower he's still very calm with his response to Ulan murdering their high priority captive.
  • Inferno by Spartan-D042
    • There's a lot going on in this story, but it serves to show us exactly who Cody is. I really enjoyed the interplay between Cody's flashing memories of his team and the combat situation he's blindly whirling through in the present. While there are some grammatical issues here and there, overall I have few complaints. The first sentence could've read "just muscles and memories" at the end, and there were several places where your commas made comma-spliced sentences (such as the entire final paragraph) instead of frenzied thoughts of a mad warrior (like the final sentence of paragraph 11). Overall though, I would say that this manages to give us a really good view of what Cody is and what defines him, and for that I give it the win of the week.

Week 75: One Man's Trash, Another Man's Treasure

Prompt: This week includes Bungie Day, so in the spirit of happiness and appreciation there's no set theme this week. Write me the very best short story you can...

But there's always a catch! Any story topic is fair game, but this week you need to use another user's character. That's right. You have to go ask someone else to use a character and then write a story about them however you feel. And in light of that, for this week only, I'll forego the word limit completely. So best of luck and let's see what you guys can come up with.

  • Disconnection by Distant Tide
    • I'll say this is an interesting piece, since we don't get many Covenant pieces that aren't focused on Sangheili (or Jiralhanae). I'll note that while everything is spelled correctly, there are grammatical errors here and there, such as using "an" instead of "a" or strange word choices. I'll note my main concern with this piece is that the Kig-yar seem to talk exactly like humans. Maybe it's just me but I feel like they would refer to things a bit differently - and probably not bother with human-made names for places. The two also seem to use their proper names quite a bit; might think about using pronouns or just remove them altogether. My only other critique is that the pacing is rather slow: there's a lot of talking and chewing of the scenery for most of the piece - which takes advantage of no word limit - but the moment the plot builds out of does not take place till the very end of the piece.

Week 76: There Are Many Like It

Prompt: This week we'll keep the prompt simple. The weapon sometimes defines the warrior, so show us your character interacting with their personal weapon. 500 words or so, and good luck.

  • Remade by Ahalosniper
    • Energy Swords are easily the most iconic warrior weapon associated with Halo, so it makes sense that you'd write about Thel's iconic REQ card weapon. I really like the interplay you create between Thel and the swordsmith, as well as all the beautiful imagery you've weaved through it. You can really feel a bit of emotional weight to this scene, which is a quality I am impressed with given how little connection we truly have to this moment in time. All in all I can't really find any criticisms or complaints to note; a very solid piece.

Week 77: We're in for some Chop

This week, Brodie-001 will be stepping in as a guest judge once again.

Prompt: Ah, the dropship. A mainstay of any good sci-fi franchise. These beautiful machines are a great way of dropping characters off, saving their asses at the last moment, or inevitably being blown out of the sky at an inopportune moment. In spite of their tendency to go down like flies (seriously, Halo 3 has one crashed or crashing in almost every level), I think we can all agree that they're really, really cool. So, in the ballpark of around 1000 words, write a story with a dropship - any kind of dropship - as a key part of the narrative. How you do so is up to you. Have fun!

  • Start Date: August 1st, 2017
  • Deadline: August 8th, 2017

  • Shootdown by Minuteman 2492
    • As with my last review of one of your stories, I'd still recommend breaking up the dialogue lines and descriptive paragraphs to make it an easier read and. I feel as though the plot's swift resolution after a fairly lengthy buildup feels a little anti-climactic, though this does read like the precursor to a much larger event, so that's fine.
  • Shadowcast by Distant Tide
    • It's just a coding thing, but I'd suggest highlighting ship names in italics instead of in bold so it looks nicer on the page. That said, I think you've done really well to capture the tension prior to a military deployment, and while the dropship doesn't play as big a role as I'd have liked from the prompt, it remains a very interesting story nonetheless and is my pick of the week.

Week 78: Unforgotten Memories

Prompt: So keeping somewhat with last week's vehicle theme and inspired by recent IRC discussions about forgotten Halo weaponry, this week's prompt involves weapons and vehicles that the series forgot. Remember the Shadow from Halo 2? Halo Wars 2 did, and references them with the new Yayap leader. What about those Booster Frames in Legends? Halo: Escalation picked that back up. There's been all sorts of vehicles and weapons that became one-offs - the Focus Rifle, Spectre, Sticky Detonator, etc - so how would you bring them back? Give me a short somewhere under 1000 words that focuses on one of the forgotten vehicles or weapons of Halo in some way. Good luck

  • Start Date: August 10th, 2017
  • Deadline: August 17th, 2017

  • Familiarization Course by Distant Tide
    • Not a bad piece, since it shows us a very rare glimpse at the UNSC forces becoming familiarized with Covenant weaponry outside of in-combat desperation. I'll say that the extremely laid back drill instructor seems very odd to me, though that could just be my personal misconceptions. Perhaps it's just me, but I'm not sure if this is before or after augments for the Deltas, so the comment about the gun's weight seems odd. Also, there isn't much variety in your word usage: "heavy" and "huge" are used probably twenty to thirty times where other phrases could've been substituted. Additionally, some of the phrasing in the later half becomes awkward, almost as if it was rushed without proper grammar checking.
  • Heavy Weapons by Lieutenant Davis
    • While grammatically I don't have much to critique, from a standpoint of storytelling I have a few points. The first is the opening doesn't set itself up very well: I at first believed the techs were removing Colin's armor, and then thought they were working on the prefab structure. Moving past this, there's a bit too much tell and not enough show in this short: I would've liked some interaction between Colin and Doug, not just a name drop; something to make me believe in the intimidating nature of Colin beyond just him blowing up the tanks. Lastly, I'm not sure how I feel about Colin's dealing with the gun's weight: first he comments they're heavy, which seems right since they are normally used on a mech, but then he manages to lift them up while saying it's heavy, which also seems somewhat valid considering Spartans lift tanks. Despite all this, the piece was well focused on its tech piece, and the guns were the most unexpected entries in my opinion, and for that I've awarded it the win.
  • The Revenant by Echowaffle8
    • A very nice piece about Dabap, though I'd say the Revenant is more of a set-piece than an actual focus of the story. Despite being good for describing Dabap's scenario and fate though, the various pieces feel a little bit disconnected. Maybe plays into Dabap's disconnect from the crazy conflict around him, but it feels like a series of incidents more than a progression through a battlefield. Still, a nice story, with a nice ending.
  • A Kiwi, an Aussie, and a Wyvern by DarthNicky
    • Again, I'd like to have seen more interaction or internal thoughts from these two while they went into the scenes. Nothing to break the flow of the combat, which worked out well though it felt a little barebones. The Wyvern is, much like the Revenant above, more of a set piece than an active focus for the story. There's some nice fight scenes and cool moves, but all in all it feels a bit like a popcorn action flick sequence.
  • Lethal Frequency by S-D379
    • There are several points of grammar I'd like to bring up. While mostly okay, I'd suggest you use more pronouns in your writing: in the third large paragraph, you use "Furst" as the first word in three out of four sentences following his introduction. There's also a few places where phrasing is awkward, but it's not too bad. I'd note that your introduction of the sound rifle is basically a large infodump, since you've said every relevant fact about the gun in a single paragraph instead of spreading it out evenly. There are several nice fight scenes, which I have to give you credit for, but I will note the finale with Jake asking for an immediate evac and taking a nap on the dropship both strike me as odd for a structured Spartan.
  • Improvisation by Brodie-001
    • Aside from it running a bit long, there's not much that I could note when it comes to grammar and structure. I will say that seeing the Gremlin and its arsenal was nice, especially since it was used in a way it wasn't really meant for. Perhaps it's just me, but I thought for sure it would simply fry the jamming tower, not blow it up, kamikaze-style. Overall, a nice, clean piece with good characters and pleasant scenes that used the prompt fairly well.

Week 79: Breaking the Covenant

Prompt: When I first played Halo 2, some of my best memories were the pieces of the game where you took on huge Covenant onslaughts to rocky background music. Whether it be blowing my way across the Mombasa bridge, trying to tear through the Scarab as fast as possible, or murdering both sides in the three-way melee at the end of Gravemind, those were the moments that stuck out to me. So give me your very best, bombastic brawl with the Covenant: no one on one duels or close call escapes, just a good, old fashioned firefight where your guys beat down the aliens with either brute strength or sheer ingenuity. And for added bonus points, feel free to put up a piece of music you feel fits the short. 700 words or less, but the rest of the details are up to you.

  • Start Date: August 20th, 2017
  • Deadline: August 27th, 2017

  • At The Breach by Actene
    • Overall, this is a very chilling piece. You do a good job of showing the brutality of the war, between the terror of the troopers, their wounds, Cassandra's rabid attempts to focus and cope with the situation she has been thrust into. But while all this makes for a very good character piece about Cassandra and her mixed duties on the battlefield, it doesn't really bring to mind the prompt for me, which was having a large firefight. The firefight is the background of the setting, called to mind at the very end of the piece but cut off before we can explore it.
  • Light in the Tunnel by DarthNicky
    • First off, as an aside, please remember the writer template. There's a lot going on in this piece, to the point where it felt a little hard to follow, at least to me. I understood that there was a Warthog group attacking a turret emplacement, which were then attacked and they must proceed on foot, but the finale felt a bit like it was missing details to explain exactly how it went down. That said, as it actually delivered on the prompt, I give it this week's win.
  • Urban Engagment by Spartan-D042
    • Again, there's a lot going on here, but much like Actene's piece it feels less about the conflict itself and more about people moving through a conflict. We see the story open with two Covenant dying, the sounds and sights of battle all around, but instead of actual combat we get people moving between different points where things are mentioned about combat rather than us seeing combat. A Stanchion fires, an explosive is thrown, but all of these are fragmentary moments connected only by the characters experiencing them. Again, had there been a little more of actual fighting, or at least character thoughts to trail them together, I believe I would have enjoyed the piece better.

Week 80: Jolly Cooperation

Prompt: Everyone needs a helping hand from time to time. While many of our characters work alone or have an entire team to back them up, sometimes there's only one person they can really rely on. In around 1000 words or so, produce a story about a pair of characters working together - or not. Who's to say all partnerships last, after all?

  • Start Date: September 2nd, 2017
  • Deadline: September 9th, 2017

  • Good Game by Distant Tide
    • I always enjoy a good Spartan training battle, and Merlin and Andra's attempts at winning a clearly hopeless fight were very well-done. I'd recommend trying to focus on the character's thoughts as this is a largely physical piece - Merlin's ideally, since he's the focal character. Maybe some stuff on how he felt to see Andra being beaten up by Franklin and Sergei and how that forced him into action? I know the word limit for these things can make adding it a pain, so perhaps you could add more to this story later. Also, try to look out for repeating words more than once in paragraphs (children, breaths etc.) in the future since there's a few that turn up here. Still, this 2v2 faceoff is definitely my pick of the week.
  • Shoot First, Worry Later by Timothy Emeigh
    • Firstly, might I recommend the lovely Timestamp template or its alternate (and my preferred) versions for nicer-looking dates and such? Moving on, it's been quite a while since I've seen a father-daughter story on the site, so this one definitely piqued my interest. I wish there had been a little more interaction between the characters - difficult, considering the circumstances of their mission, but I did appreciate how while Viktoriya's thoughts seemed to linger on her father counting on her, Dmitri seems more concerned with the mission itself rather than her daughter's safety. Maybe he values the cause more, or maybe that's just me reading too much into him from this brief story. Good piece in any case!
  • Illicit Cargo by Lieutenant Davis
    • A good story overall that definitely fits what I had in mind while making this prompt. I enjoyed the rapport between Colin and Christina, I would've liked to have seen some cooperative action beyond just talking, perhaps through combat? Nonetheless, I'm interested as to where this story leads!

Week 81: Phantom Pain

Prompt: Everybody gets hurt once in a while. For most, it's physical. For others, it's psychological. Either way, someone has undergone some serious trauma, and while they're on the mend, perhaps it's difficult to deal with? Write something about a character (or characters) coping in the aftermath of some form of injury. No word limit on this one either, so write as much as you need to.

  • Start Date: September 10th, 2017
  • Deadline: September 17th, 2017

  • Whole Again by Timothy Emeigh
    • I really enjoyed this piece. Initially I was a little surprised at Sasha's rather understated reaction to waking up minus an arm and an eye and would've liked to see a bit more of an emotional reaction, though it does seem to mention that she's recovering from shock at the time. Still, I think the focus on her immediate needs like getting water and confusion was something I could appreciate.

Week 82: Too Little, Too Late

Prompt: If there's one thing I'm consistent at, it's inconsistency. Late prompts are basically a specialty of mine thanks to real life, but it does make one think about the consequences of taking just a little too long. So in 500 words or less, show me a moment where your character arrives to finish their mission or goal... but they're just a little too late.

  • Start Date: September 24th, 2017
  • Deadline: October 1st, 2017

  • Comrade by Actene
    • Although it leaves it a bit ambiguous, the piece manages to give that feeling that Simon has decided too late to do anything useful, and that's definitely what I was going for. I think it also manages to capture that unique spirit between Tuka and Simon in just a few sentences, which juxtaposes nicely to how Simon himself takes so long to realize and say things in the piece. Overall, a very nice short; I'd love to see it in a larger setting.

Week 83: Politics, How Tiresome

Prompt: A lot of things in the Halo universe, much like in the real world, have political motivations behind them: the Far Isle bombing, the Changing of the Guard, the plot of Hunt the Truth, and many others. So give me a scenario where politics are heavily in play: perhaps it's a parley meeting between factions gone wrong, or a reassignment based on internal power plays. The choices are up to you, but capture the essence of the moment in 500 words or less.

  • Start Date: October 9th, 2017
  • Deadline: October 16th, 2017

  • False Descent by Distant Tide
    • The Bombing is one of those nice, iconic ideas here on the site that we haven't gotten to see a lot written about, and I really like this piece you put together. You give me the right amount of information about Kaz to let me know what he's doing and what kind of situation he's in, and drag me along just long enough to let the horror of the moment crash down on me like the rubble and shots on Philadelphia. Not exactly what I'd initially expected out of a political-driven piece, but a good showing by the end.

Week 84: What Could Have Been

Prompt: There are many things that could've been in Halo. For some, like the Sharquoi or the blind wolves, canonization is out there waiting just around the corner. For others, like the Special purpose sniper, the light of day may never shine on them. Inspired by the recent reveal of some interesting new Halo Wars 2 concept art (or possibly a Halo Wars 3 pitch - the Powers That Be are trying to scramble the news and remain coy), give me your best short story featuring one of the many, many pieces of cut content that the series has to offer. But be succinct: 600 words or less, please.

  • Start Date: October 18th, 2017
  • Deadline: October 24th, 2017

  • Arms Bazaar by Actene
    • 600 words exactly, and yet it flows well enough to feel almost too short. That said, it's a nice scene between Simon and Zoey, seemingly not long after Necessary Evil. I like the rapport being the two of them, the weird, almost-awkward joking as Zoey tries to figure Simon out. The Kodiak comes across as something of a set piece, but since I wasn't specific in how to use the scrapped content I can't fault that - plus it allows for that so-bad-it's-good pun.
  • Uneasy by Echowaffle8
    • You do a good job of giving us a growing sense of dread for poor Yadap's situation, even without ever seeing what his personal fate is or what terrible things are going wrong on the ship. An interesting choice to use the Prophet of Pity, but I like the implications you've given him. I think also the Kig-yar noticing something's off with Yadap was unexpected, since I don't picture them as empathetic beings. One minor quibble, that last line spoken by the Prophet took me a second read to understand - initially I thought the chef was speaking there. Overall though, I enjoyed the way this piece used its cut content, and for that it is this week's winner.
  • Sentinel by Distant Tide
    • I'm not entirely sure how to feel about this scene. It explains the situation well enough, and give us our group of characters, all of whom are currently mad at each other. The Sentinels get noted and have a nice, brief moment. But overall, not a lot happens in this scene: it feels like the scene should've started later somehow, given a bit more action at the expense of some agitated interactions.

Week 85: Haloween 3: Electric Boogaloo

Prompt: It's that time of year again guys! This week, in 600 words or less, give me your best piece showing off the terror of the Halo universe. Is it the deadly Flood plague? The horrors of a battlefield filled with corpses? The existential terror of an AI thinking itself to death? That's all up to you to decide. Good luck!

  • Start Date: October 30th, 2017
  • Deadline: November 6th, 2017

  • Experiment by Minuteman 2492
    • First off, you've got a huuuge run-on sentence in your first paragraph. Try and keep it to two commas maximum per sentence at most if you're not only listing something since it makes reading the story easier. That aside, this one's short and sweet. I get that you've got a word limit to work with, but the eventual gassing of the prisoners takes place way too quickly at the end of the story for it to truly be as effectively horrifying as it could be.
  • Torrent by Distant Tide
    • I like what you've done in this one with the sense of tension felt by Adrian at the start, cut off from his team and alone, wary for hostiles. There's definitely something rather unnerving for me as a Halo fan to read about Spartans being completely and utterly outmatched, even if this was just a simulation. The team did go down pretty quickly towards the end - not that I was expecting a prolonged fight scene with the limitations of course - but you've certainly captured the essence of the Flood as this sort of all-consuming, monstrous mass in this piece.
  • Alive by Actene
    • What do you mean Simon doesn't save a red-headed child from the city ruins, therefore saving himself? An interesting take on the prompt, especially since this takes place in the aftermath of something horrible rather than during the event. To have Simon face the full extent of what he had caused, feel that he should be feeling horrified and realise that he feels more relieved than anything else really captures Simon's - or rather, Stray's - utter detachment from humanity at this point. This one's my pick.

Week 86: Real Human Being

Prompt: Brodie-001 here for another guest Weekly prompt. So this week I want to try something a little unorthodox, so bear with me. Flash cloning seems to be a common part of medical science in the 26th century as a way of quickly growing organs and other body parts for emergency transplants, and as all of us are likely aware, the creation of short-lived, highly-illegal clone children was one of the more horrific elements of the SPARTAN-II Program. As such, let's take a brief look into the life of a human flash clone with our stories this week, in a scenario that I will provide for you.

The date is October 8th, 2556. There has been a break-in at a corporate laboratory in the city of Castiglione on Escala III, leading to the escape of a number of illegally-made flash clones into the surrounding area. On the run from unscrupulous mercenaries looking to cover things up and armed only a single name, some residual memories of their template and the knowledge that they will live for around a year or two at most, what do these escaped clones do? No word limit on this one, so have fun and feel free to even work together as you give us a short story from a clone's perspective at some point in the first 72 hours after the breakout.

  • Start Date: November 15th, 2017
  • Deadline: November 22nd, 2017

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