Here's the complete run of fiction for the Heroes of Armageddon Charity Project, originally posted more or less daily throughout May.
If you haven't been following it, HoA is a plan to raise money for the charity Doctors Without Borders by painting and raffling miniatures. You can donate, enter and get inspired at the site.
It makes sense to have all of the instalments in one place and in order, as with the 26 A-Z Challenge entries. This should make it easier to read of course, but also easier to refer to with the statting of protagonists I plan to do. The first set of stats is already up, for the civilians depicted on Days 3, 11-15 and 27.
There are 31 stories in all, each with 31 words. Together they form a larger narrative, which could be linked to the Armageddon setting if that's how you choose to read it.
Day 1: Mission
A world of wastes fills the window.
The servitor's mind whirrs. Where? Commander is displeased. Brush extends. Tension. Camera scans, veins swell.
A fuse blows. Embers sprinkle the deck.
Day 2: Command
Vast from orbit, a great world.
Introductions needed, persuasion...
Warriors enter: "Dropships readied, sire."
A new voice, from shadow: "With whom do you drop?"
Day 3: Persuasion
He peers into the corner of the audience chamber; there they arrived.
Killed guards - good men - usurped the Lord, claimed a higher authority.
Took over the defence.
Day 4: Landing
They glint. Great winged machines...
Defence guns silent, they come in heavy, maneouvre to land.
He watches, heart pumping. Birds fall in the pecking order.
And glide still.
Day 5: Purpose
Supplies arrive from orbit, fill bays.
More than we can guard.
Citizens pilfer. Why? We come to protect.
Whence need on this productive world?
When they produce munitions, equip warriors well?
Day 6: Freedom
The crate opens. More shells.
Do these men not eat? But then... With weapons like this, they can take what food they need.
People are starving here. The City encircled. Choose.
Day 7: Hunger
Candidate recruits. Not up to much. Malnourished. Seems for years.
Well, that's why he joined. He thinks of family, decades past, another world... The galaxy. The void.
Day 8: Shaping up
This is it! New uniform. Itchy. Nothing sits right. Cables linking comms, mind, gun. Twisted.
Leader, driven. Demands more than we can give. Watching. Sat in the cab tense. Twisted.
Day 9: Beauty
The armoured crawler roars, struggles up the duneface.
Iridescent dust, the spectrum streaked in ash.
Beauty, byproduct of ages. What did they burn?
Will I look like this? Will my enemy?
Day 10: Identity
They remain motionless, distant, in haze and dust.
Wasteland settlers. Our guides hesitate; they admire survival, liberty.
Muscles ache. We look at them. They look at us.
Who are we?
Day 11: Decision
"Insurrection, sire. Gubernatorial auxiliaries. Our means confuse them. They question our nature. Name us... daemons, enemy."
Disaster. Too forceful we... I was. The men watch. Act!
"Dare they? Burn them out."
Day 12: Resistance
Barricades span corridors.
Orators recruit across levels, from guilds, drones, gangs, even cults. Few smiles, little respect. But they join.
A lowleveller offers water. I thank him.
Barricades span. The City.
Day 13: Nature
Cyonics whine as warriors advance.
They pass in near darkness through venting gases, heat, the glow of panels, past presses, drives, cables, use hydraulic portals, platforms.
Processors oversee inhospitability.
Day 14: Nurture
Blood drips. Ears ring.
The lowleveller looks back. They nod to each other; the man crawls away.
He alone carries the memory out.
Shadows crunch closer. She wishes they had spoken.
Day 15: Allies
The woman seems sad.
He turns the body, delicately. Old wounds. She fought through pain.
He feels sadness, weakness; crippling uncertainty.
Why would such a woman not submit to his authority?
Day 16: Calm
A shadow running over the ash. The foe far off. Too far to see that barbarism he hears their faces wear.
He wonders at his luck. Powerful weapons. High altitude.
Day 17: Storm
The figures move, approach through the haze. Now? Why? The men murmur, unsure.
True intelligence... "Call off the strike!"
The drone rises, but the craft is deep in the sky, unheeding.
Day 18: Survival
Migration more than invasion, they follow the contrails of the metal birds, back through the rising ash storm to the City.
Life today traverses life yesterday, or waits behind walls.
Day 19: Limits
The foe is at the outer lines.
The bombers return low over the scanning defences. Payloads gone. Death delivered, perhaps; now only emptiness.
The foe is at the outer lines.
Day 20: Loss
Ragged remnants, charred uniforms and scarred skin...
Push on. Simply push.
What else to do?
Where else go?
They envy their foe confidence, and seek only to char them, scar them.
Day 21: Gain
The foe. They bellow.
Is it mourning? Speech? Offering?
He feels other than his masters, would willingly parley.
Why deny the truth?
When all feel pain, there is a common language.
Day 22: Chain
The men wait, weary, bloody; many missing.
Parley? Their casualty rate is not yet high enough!
Besides, they are missing the point. How to prevent past indiscretions emerging? Such indiscretions...
Day 23: Rebellion
Emissaries leave. Semiautomatons could be sent, but the vulnerabilities of nerve endings, blood and flesh are strengths, convey the urgency.
As semiautomatons themselves, they sense this.
... and so differ.
Day 24: Bridgehead
Adrenaline pumps, sweat trickles. Elsewhere blood flows.
They negotiate with a dangerous foe against the will of their own kind; stand alone, span worlds. Fragile.
Alien grows familiar.
The flood slows.
Day 25: Fog
Diminished by friendly fire they stumble into sight of the foe.
Sense at last! They aim and find...
Friend. A truce concluded.
Sense shatters, bonds break; pain dies.
And goes on.
Day 26: Division
The assault on the City is fierce, the defence fearsome.
Outsider wants in, sees betrayal; insider seeks to preserve.
They contest common ground, for neither is fearless.
Nor one of two.
Day 27: Access
He remembers her eyes. Closed now.
Gateways stand locked before him.
More hope against the foe than those protectors - daemonic machines.
He pushes the fader. Light.
Eyes open around the City.
Day 28: Dawn
Eyes open within the City, blinking at sudden illumination.
Long in the darkness, knowledge is grown stunted. While facts appear clear - treachery! - reasoning is flawed.
Rumour of daemons is judged true.
Day 29: Action
He studies maps, deployments, desperate. The foe enters the City. The City rises against the defenders. And now...
They march in. He senses their discomfort.
He reaches for his sidearm.
Day 30: Reaction
Invading foe entering the City. Rising citizenry dividing defenders. Mutiny now, by otherworldly warriors, in this room.
"Brothers! The foe turns. Forces strike their flanks!"
"Outcasts. Of the wastes..."
Day 31: Balance
The world opens up below their departing craft, haven in the void.
Species, peoples, people remake it; as one of many homes.
Wandering, brothers discuss, consider, seek to learn.
What now indeed? You can visit the Heroes of Armageddon website and consider contributing. And there are other causes too, even online linked with gaming like the LiveStrong Wargaming Project. The work never stops and it all makes a difference.