Past at Peace


10-10-2006 17:13:05

Note: This is a submission for a past competition. Comments welcome

The Naboo Bomber landed with a soft thud, sand kicking up and flying away in the strong winds. A door opened silently and a young woman stepped out easily, only her eyes showing through slits in the light, linen robe she wore. She hesitated as if she wasn’t sure if she wanted to continue. Glancing around she turned to re-enter the fighter but stopped forcing herself to turn around and walk forward, step by step. Climbing a small rise she came upon scattered ruins, bones skewed about the small devastated complex before her. Gasping, she sank to her knees as the memories flooded over her….

Giggling a small girl dashes through the compound, hiding in a large clay pot quickly and trying to stay quiet. Soon after a small boy chases after searching. Biting his lip he peeks around the compound. Pulling the lid off the clay pot he laughs, “Found you!”

Popping up the girl smiles widely sticking out her tongue, “Took you long enough!”

Jumping out the two make to run off again but a voice sounds from a nearby doorway, “Devani! Akols!” A small woman beckoned the two towards them, holding out a pan covered in small pastries. “Now eat these and get to your chores.” Eating the pastries as if they were famished, they soon scrambled off.

Squatting down, she spread some seeds across the ground, feeding their dinner for that night.


The ground trembled, throwing the small girl to the ground as flames sought to consume a building nearby. Rather than scared, the girl seemed confused jumping up to rush towards the flames. Suddenly she was caught up in a man’s arms as he turned and rushed away from the burning building, explosions rocking the ground as they hit the multiple buildings surrounding them. A woman rushed up, fear etched in her face as she whispered, “I can’t find Akols!” Biting his lip he replied achingly, “We must leave him then, Devani must survive! We must pass on the Vtk-la!”

They dashed into a low-lying building that had not been hit. Screams and the sound of more dropping bombs made their mission more urgent. “Now I told you about the Vtk-la Devani, we need to perform the ceremony now.” the woman whispered into the girls ear. “But where is Akols? And what about my dress?” Devani whined.

“You will understand all soon, lay down here.” The woman glanced at the older man, “Ready?” she questioned. Nodding he started to chant seemingly oblivious of the chaos outside. Pulling out a small needle, the woman dipped it in her own blood, chanting in sync with the man’s low voice. The girl fell in a trance and seemed not to feel any pain as the woman tattoed a unique, smooth design around her eyes. They worked quickly, urgently in the dim light. Devani convulsed underneath the woman’s sharp needle but did not wake from her trance.

The ceremony ended abruptly, the girl lying still. Glancing at each other the man spoke quickly, “Take her to the mountains, I will meet you as soon as…” the door was blown open and several men and women entered, blasters pointed at the pair. “Where is the girl?” a woman in dark robes spat. Devani was nowhere to be seen.

Shaking, she stood quickly, rushing forward into the demolished compound. Trembling, tears come pouring from unwilling eyes. A scream erupted from her mouth breaking the stifling silence. Bowing her head to the earth, her nails dug into its dry depths. The dirt mingled with her tears forming a thick mud streaking down the scarf covering her face. In her eyes the depths were filled with pain, wretched, heart-tearing pain. The sun set softly over the horizon, the woman still writhing in her pain.

As the sun rose above the nearby mountains, its rays woke the young woman crumpled upon the ground. She stood shakily, pulling a water container from beneath her robes and gulping the precious liquid down her sticky throat. She then poured some over her face, the dried tears of the night before washed away. Putting it away she started sifting through the old wreckage finding long forgotten trinkets and broken pottery. Collecting it all, she gathered the scattered bones together with loving reference, burying them in the compound’s center. Chanting softly, the tattoos around her eyes lit up and danced around her face. She felt knocked to the ground as the pain of a thousand voices shouted in her head.

“STOP!” she screamed, the tattooed lines slowed and finally stopped moving, waiting for her to speak once more. “I invited you here but I can’t do a single thing with all of you mourning in my head! Now, will you help me perform the ceremony?” she muttered. Nodding, she seemed to be listening intently and moved about quickly as if by instructions. Soon she began a soft chanting that seemed to be accompanied by a thousand voices flowing over the compound in a bitter-sweet melody that spoke of pain, longing and strangely enough peace.

Later that night the young woman returned to her fighter, taking one last glance at the ruins. The stars stretched out in a vast array, glittering in an almost mockery of what had happened so long ago. But as she looked upon the moon she felt the peace she had been searching for. Kneeling down, she bowed her head and said her final good bye. As she stepped into the fighter, she heard an incoming transmission. “Devani, you are urgently needed back on Boral for the conquering of the rebel planet Eldar. Proceed immediately.”

A Small Matter of Cargo...

Ylith Pandemonium

15-10-2006 14:02:15

This counts as 1,5 pages, you'll need 8,5 pages more and review 2 other stories to
qualify for a Dark Side Scroll.


**Note: when posting more, add a link to here to add in pagecount, when reviewing,
post links to your reviews**

Kel Tavik

21-10-2006 23:40:49

My completely unofficial review, analysis and critique:

Overall, not a bad piece. There were some tense change errors and a few runons—which, I assume, stemmed from missing commas—but from a grammatical and spelling standpoint the story was otherwise fine. I’d caution that you might want to watch repetition of the same sentence structure too often, but this is a nit-picky thing that I personally fail at rather routinely.

I would like to voice some moderate confusion, however, regarding exactly what is going on. I suspect that part of the issue is that I don’t possess the same knowledge of your character as you do, so my understanding of her motives and memories is obviously not going to be as clear as yours. However, I would like to point out that, for a good portion of the story, you refer to your subject simply as ‘she.’ This makes things rather unclear as to what ‘she’ you’re referring to, and provides for some confusion in interpreting exactly what is happening in the dreamlike memory the character is experiencing.

Another part of the problem is that I had difficulty, at first, in discerning exactly where the memory ended. Upon a second read through, it becomes clear that this is probably due to misplaced italics that begin after the abrupt “Devani was nowhere to be seen” line (which, I should point out, is a detail that really requires some explanation; it can really give a story some punch if the reader knows what’s going on, rather than just reading that a character inexplicably vanishes).

All in all, as I said, not a bad piece at all. Given that it was for a competition, I can understand the somewhat abrupt nature, but in my opinion the story is given much too little time to really gain momentum. Girl lands, girl has flashback, girl completes a ceremony with her long dead… somethings. But that illustrates my exact point; I wasn’t quite clear on the nature of her relationship with those who lived at the compound, or why the compound was attacked, or what a “Vtk-la” was (aside from an instant case of blood transmitted diseases, if the woman isn’t careful). So, in other words, for this story to be truly readable as a stand alone piece and allow the casual reader to actually know what’s going on, you need to flesh out the background some more.

All the above criticism is not intended to be unduly harsh or blunt, and I believe that it can actually help. I look forward to reading more of your work in the future. :)


11-11-2006 18:33:25

I like the description in this. Things like biting one's lip and sticky throats are very good ways to draw the reader in and force them to assume the reality you're creating. I think some of the issues you're having with this piece are similar to what we all experience from time to time in our writing. Namely, the snippet of your character you present is very vague. The story reads very much like a clipping from a larger tale either written someplace else or from the mental story we all have written in our mind's about our characters.

Since it's definitely not a complete story, but a fragment of a larger image, I'll focus on some other things. One in particular is the transition from present to past and back. I see how you've visually denoted it going from plain text to italic. The first transition is set up well as you describe her seeing the wreckage of a place she has known or lived in and is overcome by emotion and memory, but the flashback itself is confusing and I'd like to see it fleshed out a bit. I know sometimes we as writer's don't want to do this as we view it as just excess information we don't want to clutter the moments we're writing, but it's necessary in order for the reader to follow it.

The transition back is slightly confusing and all that really confirms it are the italics returning to plain text. Where we pick up doesn't seem to be where she left off after stepping off the ship. She's in mid-sentence it seems and as a reader, I feel a bit lost. I'd like to see this final part clarified or expanded to give me the piece of the puzzle that seems to be missing.

All in all I like your prose. The descriptions flow well and you have some interesting things going on. I'd humbly suggest you let the reader in on a little more of the story so they can follow the changes and get something out of the end.

Werdna Elbee

12-11-2006 10:50:37

As nice as it is to stick flashbacks into the middle so it is nicely framed... it doesn't suit the short story.

Had it been several pages long it would have worked well. You could have taken a bit more time to explain who your character is to begin with, have mini-flashbacks about having the get the time away from your Clan, etc. I'd have like to seen more of you frollocking in the flashback, perhaps developing a character who will inevitably get killed, before the sith hits the fan. Then do a comparison and really make an attempt to explain why you have changed into the person you are now for comparison.

If you wanted to keep it short I would have just went straight into the flashback. Ignore the hows and whys...just quickly make us fall in love with the young lass and sorry for her at the end. Then wham, back into the now of you killing some scavanger pirate or something (who would give you someone to chat to about what the place means to you).

But yeah, I agree with the opinions above for the most part. I found the tenses somewhat odd too but couldn't pick out a particular error. I think it's just using the past tense on the past and present part that I must have found jarring (but other people do it and it tends to read fine?). It also feels like "The continuing advertures of Devani" and as well developed as the character is in your head you should keep in mind that the reader knows little.

For the most part it's technically well wrote and an entertaining read. Better than what I can do, I'd imagine.

Droveth Kathera Vectivi

12-11-2006 18:09:07

A rare glimpse into the past of a goddess. :)

OKay, on to the review. Overall, it was entertaining, and it kept me reading. But I did find some parts confusing. For example, in the flashback it's in present tense, and the present is in past tense. I understand what you meant to accomplish by doing this, but it might have been better had the flashback been shorter.

Also, there were some parts where puncuation was missing. A comma gone here, a period gone there. Nothing a quick run-through couldn't fix. And, as stated above, the flashback in the middle of the story didn't really work, considering how shrot the overall story is. Maybe, if you lengthened it out more, and broke the flash back into smaller peices, it would be a lot better.



18-11-2006 19:23:27

This piece of writing has excellent potential to become a comprehensive character history. The flashback transitions are a little rough and could use some tweaking, but other than that, the story's flow was very natural and smooth. The detail and descriptions used were excellent, and the few grammar mistakes did not divert and interrupt the reader's attention too much. The overuse of the pronoun "she" could use some work as it confuses the reader at points (specifically in the last two paragraphs of the flashback).

If this is to be made into a larger story, more details would be very well received, especially about the ruins. For example, you could ask yourself questions like: What made Devani to sink in her memories? Was there something specific that triggered this? That's what the readers (or at least I) would like to know, because it makes the story more interesting (in a good way) and not at all sketchy or seemingly like a rough draft/outline of a story.

So, overall, story = good, more detail = good, more descriptions = excellent and story flow = good. It would be great to see this expanded upon.


21-11-2006 02:24:50

Thank you all for the criticisms and suggestions, I'm currently rewriting it, so look for an update :) I will also be releasing a second, unrelated story I hope you all will enjoy. As always both the second draft of this story and the new one will be wide open for suggestons and criticisms.