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Sergeant Gage Yevgenny: The Shadow

2023.12.06 00:59 EternalCanadian Sergeant Gage Yevgenny: The Shadow

EternalCanadian back again with my second of two “CMA” posts. As a tie-in to my [CMA post released earlier in November]() this post will be about our main POV and look into the CMA: Gage Yevgenny. Former CMA Marine turned ODST, and his evolving character throughout the trials and horrors of the Human Covenant War.
Of course, those of you who keep track of these know this was supposed to release in November, unfortunately, “tis the season” as they say. Regardless, better late than never!
There’s not much else to say for this intro, so, let’s begin…
Gage’s story is told via first person flashback, him recounting his life to another ODST as he lays dying beside a crashed Pelican. The story itself is Dirt, from Halo Evolutions. It’s a story that goes hand in hand with the marketing for Halo 3 ODST, and pairs very well with the live action trailer The Life with the two overall sharing a very similar tone and atmosphere.
The story of Gage specifically begins on Harvest. This is, from my perspective, a fun bit of continuity for me, as the last character post I made was about the AI’s who ran the planet. It’salmostlikeitwasplanned…
Back on topic; A native of the colony, Gage grew up - like most of the residents, on a farm - raised by a single father, his mother having passed away some time when he was a child.
Fed up with the boring, unfulfilling life of a farmer, Gage - without his father’s permission or consent - joins the CMA Marines “the hour he turned eighteen”:
I signed up for the Colonial Military the hour I turned eighteen. January 3, 2524. Smartest thing I’d done up to that point. Flipped off my father, who’d stood by a giant JOTUN trundling across a flat, golden plain of wheat, and then I rode a flatbed full of corn all the way into town.
“It’s just dirt,” I’d told a friend about my decision to leave. “And I’m sick and tired of grubbing about in it. I can’t believe my parents left a real world to travel all the way out here to dig dirt.”
The farming life was not my destiny. I’d known that since the day I first looked up at the stars while riding on the back of one of the giant, automated JOTUNs, a long piece of straw dangling out the side of my mouth.
No. I was going to see worlds. Pack a gun.
The next time I came back home to Harvest, I wanted to watch the girls bat their eyes at a man in uniform. Not a farm boy with dirt under his nails. I wanted to be a hard-as-nails tough-ass Marine.
  • Halo Evolutions, Dirt
Unfortunately for Gage, the military he signed onto was not particularly glamorous, well funded, or respected, by this time, the CMA was in full decline, on its last teetering legs, and marine bootcamp isn’t exactly first rate:
I want to say I learned how to kill a man with my pinky, or how to use a sniper rifle to kill a fly on a log of shit from a thousand yards, but all I really learned was that I didn’t like scrabbling around in the mud with live rounds going off over my head.
But I made it through anyway.
Unlike the UNSC, the CMA boot camp lasted just a couple weeks. Enough to teach you how to use your weapon, salute, march, and drive a Warthog before they booted you right on out of there.
  • Halo Evolutions, Dirt
Despite this, Gage feels almost on top of the world, and ships out from Harvest to his first posting, Eridanus II. The planet is probably familiar to most fans, it’s the birthplace of MCPO John-117, most notably, but it’s also where the first proper battles of the Insurrection occurred in the 2490’s.
It’s still a hot bed of Insurrectionist activity by 2524, as Gage notes:
The three of us had been deployed to Eridanus, where the action was. Our angry words for the UNSC were partly attempts to hide our nervousness. Talking big to keep our minds off the big issue.
Operation TREBUCHET had been the UNSC’s answer to Insurrectionists, and we’d just been folded into the far-ranging series of operations aimed to “pacify” the Outer Colonies.
But for the CMA, they would not see much action. Sidelined by the UNSC, most of their time was spent doing grunt work that the UNSC didn’t want to do, like working as riot police:
The next day we were assigned to riot patrol in Elysium City: howling citizens throwing rocks and pavers at the Colonial Administration’s offices, shaking signs about freedom and independence, while we kept our shoulders up against the riot shields and kept them back.
“They’re really pissed off,” Felicia grunted, arms locked in mine as we shoved back against the crowd. A red-haired woman in a cocktail dress shouted obscenities at us and tried to leap over the cordon, but Eric stepped forward and shoved her back, hard enough that she fell under the mob, fortunately rescued by a pair of her friends.
It was something the police should have been doing, so it was quite clear that the UNSC didn’t want to have anything to do with us and had sent us out to do scut work. Certainly they wouldn’t be including us in any raids or counterinsurgency operations in the future.
None of the old hands in our barracks particularly minded.
Meanwhile, the demonstrations grew angrier and more dangerous with each passing day.
On the rare occasion they do go and hunt Insurrectionists, the rebels are tipped off in advance by sympathizers in their own unit, showing Gage the perspectives of many in the CMA at this time: Us versus Them, Colonies versus Earth:
”You wanted action . . .” Felicia slapped my back. We were in an old Pelican dropship, shuddering its way down to Teribus Island on Eridanus II, and I was throwing up because of the turbulence.
Older CMA Marines just stared blankly at us. They looked bored, and Eric, sitting next to me, knew why. “No action, Felicia. You can thank the sympathizers. Someone, probably in this unit, has already called ahead. There won‘t be anything on the ground by the time we arrive.” He said this loud enough for everyone to hear. No big secret, and none of the other soldiers bothered to contradict him.
Harvest was relatively removed from the heat of the battle over the Outer Colonies‘ destinies. Eridanus was at the heart of it. Every day, more and more Insurrectionists set off bombs in major cities, targeting UNSC troops, ships, and Colonial Administration buildings.
The UNSC, in response, was cracking down harder with each passing month, seeking to instill order. And even though the Colonial Military had been increasingly sidelined to smaller and smaller operations since the discovery of elements inside our organization sympathetic to the cause, our brass never stopped pointing out that Robert Watts, the leader of the Insurrectionists in Eridanus and the mastermind behind most of the activity in the Outer Colonies, was actually a former UNSC colonel.
That was always a quick way to a bar fight with UNSC Marines.
It rankled me that the UNSC viewed the Colonial Military as suspect, but they were right to do so.
”So this is all a waste?” I asked.
Eric nodded. “So it goes.”
”Not exactly helping the UNSC break their assumptions about us, are we?”
”Screw the UNSC.” Eric leaned back against his restraints. “They gutted us. They sidelined us. They give us crap; barely functioning equipment. Then they want to whine about our lack of effectiveness? At least give me a uniform that‘s not threadbare and then we‘ll talk.”
A few grunts from nearby indicated that Eric‘s point of view was commonly held.
”Then what are we doing here?” I asked.
  • Halo Evolutions, Dirt
the overall attitude is one of bleak realism, espoused by fellow Marine Felicia Sanderson:
“They won’t be able to hold this together,” Felicia said, throwing chicken bones out into the water.
“Who won’t?” I asked.
“The UNSC. The Inner Colonies.” Felicia pointed up at the stars over the bonfire and the dripping explosions of fat from chicken still hanging from the improvised spits. “If we spread out through all those stars, what could hold us all together? At some point, distance will have its effect, and so will time, and someone will have to break away and do something different. No matter how much force they apply, they can’t stop this. Even people from within their ranks are deserting for the Outer Colonies. It’s like Rome. They kept taking these barbarians and teaching them how to fight, and then they’d end up leaving and fighting the very generals who’d taught them. We’re those barbarians!”
  • Halo Evolutions, Dirt
With life on Eridanus II bleak and miserable for the CMA, many start to use their leaves as a chance to party, taking vehicles off-base and into the cities to enjoy the vibrant nightlife of the city, including Gage and friends:
Aftrr two months of riot patrol and guarding bases, or anything else the UNSC determined was simple enough for us to handle, we were growing bored and looking for diversions. We were far enough out of Elysium City that to hop a ride into where the parties were meant we had to get ahold of passes, or know someone with access to a Warthog.
So the three of us had made fast friends with Allison Stark, one of the last of the Pelican pilots that the UNSC had yet to steal away from us. She not only had access to transportation, but a pet NCO who’d sign off on any leave request.
  • Halo Evolutions, Dirt
As a small break from Gage’s story, I’d like to take a moment to highlight Allison and the earlier mentioned Felicia. Both women are gay, and I’d like to commend the short story for including that type of character but not having it be their sole defining trait. Allison is gay, yes, but her primary characterization is her skill as a pilot and her slyness. Felicia, likewise, is gay, but aside from two blink and you’ll miss it mentions, it never actually matters. It would be incredibly easy to flandeize these two women and make this aspect of them the defining feature, but it’s not done, and the topic is handled with nuance. No one draws attention to it because no one cares. There’s no prejudice, no alienation, no indicating either they (or Gage) are an “other”. They simply “are”.
With a pilot along for the ride, the group goes clubbing, finding themselves at a bar in Elysium City. Unfortunately, the war between the UNSC and the Insurrectionists wasn’t put on pause, and the club (a flip music club, to be specific) was a target for a bombing, with Gage and Felicia splitting off from Allison and Eric (another Marine) when the bomb exploded:
That’s when the Insurrectionist bomb exploded. A concussive wave of heat, light, and pressure threw me back down the hallway.
For a moment, I lay on the carpet, staring blurrily at the ceiling, and then a second explosion brought the entire building down on top of us, trapping me in the debris.
ODST’s dug us out.
Most of the civilians out dancing, however, had died. Allison was found with a piece of rebar through her skull. Eric was in a coma and getting ferried out to Reach for better medical care.
Felicia and I both had been packed with biofoam, and then moved to a field hospital set up on the edge of the debris.
We were too doped up on painkillers to do much more than lie in bed for the first half day while medics kept an eye on us. I had a concussion, broken ribs, burns, a skull fracture, and ached in places I didn’t know I had.
Felicia reported, from two beds over, the same.
“Standing in that hallway saved your lives,” an ODST medic said. “You’re damn lucky.”
I didn’t feel lucky.
  • Halo Evolutions, Dirt
Being saved by the ODST’s made a mark on Gage. As he healed, he made up his mind to join them, rather than be stood down by the UNSC as part of the disbanding CMA. Felicia, not wanting to leave her friend, joined him.
“Raw meat for the ODST grinder, huh?” the grizzled sergeant grunted. “If you thought Colonial boot camp was tough, you’re about to get dismantled. Then we’ll see if you can manage to put yourselves back together.”
I laughed, but the ODST recruiters didn’t laugh back. They were dead serious. They knew what was around the corner for the two of us, and the smiles on their lips were like the smiles of wolves.
The ODST’s themselves have a storied history both in and out of the universe, their first introduction to us came in The Fall of Reach, but much of what we now consider staples of their ethos and background came from the novelization to Halo CE, The Flood, including their catchphrase, charcoal black BDU’s, drop pods, and their elite status.
With Gage and Felicia joining the ODST’s, their lives were soon focused on training in grueling boot camp. The relaxed days of the CMA were over:
“ODST boot camp was where I learned how to kill someone with my pinky. Among other things.
But first they stripped us of our rank.
“Think coming in from the CMA means jack to us?” an officer commented when I presented the fact. “You’ll have to actually earn your rank here.”
Then they started running us. I’d kept track of Felicia up to that point; we’d even had a chance to compare notes at mess, eating together.
But there was quickly little time for that; too exhausted, too busy trying to survive.
For three weeks I ran, did push-ups, and blitzed through obstacle courses as fast as I could. They took us through slush, artificial snow, and live gunfire-simulated battle. Got on our bellies and crawled through miles of barbed wire, rubble, and destroyed buildings as they fired rounds at us just inches over our heads.
That was just to get us into shape.
After weeks of simulated, mock battles, the trainees are briefed on a new development, first contact made with aliens; The Covenant. The aliens had attacked a colony, destroying it.
That colony was Harvest, Gage and Felicia’s home:
“These aliens are for real. They’ve already taken, or possibly destroyed, one Outer Colony. Admiral Preston Cole is being tasked with creating a force to get it back.”
We were stunned.
Private Rodriquez from Madrigal was the one who asked, “What colony fell to them, sir?”
“Harvest,” the gunnery sergeant said, and my knees buckled.
Someone grabbed my shoulder. I staggered around and found Felicia sitting in the mud. She looked up at me, tears in her eyes. “Dirt?” she asked. “Do you still think that now?”
  • I didn’t have anything to say back. I stood in front of her, struck mute.*
Harvest was gone.
I’d tried to find the last nice thing I said to my dad before I’d left; the last time we laughed, smiled even? I couldn’t find one.
I’d always figured he’d keep on farming. That maybe I’d go back, one day, when I’d traveled worlds and seen so much, and maybe talk to him again. Maybe.
But there were no maybes now. He was gone now.
Harvest was gone.
Felicia grabbed a fistful of mud and leaped up at me. “Dirt! I have your dirt, you son of a bitch!”
She hit me, mud from her clenched first spattering my face, but I didn’t feel it. I felt like a part of my soul had been ripped away, and even after she was pulled off me, I just stood there, numb.
Just dirt.
  • Halo Evolutions, Dirt
When they finally finish their training, the ODST’s are shipped off to the frontlines, but for much of the first few years, they see no action. Instead, they find themselves stuck aboard ships, praying that a Plasma Torpedo won’t end them during the uncountable naval battles that occurred during this phase of the war.
When they finally do get to drop into combat, the jubilation is short lived.
Feet First into Hell. That was the ODST motto. Feet first with a two-thousand-degree fireball burning around the pod as it flames its way down through the atmosphere.
It’s a hot ride.
A bumpy ride.
And not everyone survives it.
My first combat SOEIV insertion had me coming in hot with a hundred other ODSTs over the main continent of Hat Yai, three years after I finished training.
“Covenant ships in low orbit picked off ten of us, and when landing ate another pair of SOEIVs that failed and cratered into the lush rain forest of our landing zone. It took half an hour for Rahud to get us grouped up; our pods had dodged enough fire that we’d gotten fairly well separated.
“Where’s the rest of the squad?” Mason asked.
Rahud shrugged. “I can’t raise them. Assume the worst.”
  • Halo Evolutions, Dirt
Their target was a Covenant digsite, and while the ODST’s managed a good showing initially, killing a Lance of grunts and jackals, other factors put pause to the assault:
Now that we had the lip surrounded a command hierarchy had been established. Major Sedavian had landed at the very rear of the group, and had finally caught up to us.
“Figure we’re going down there?” Mason asked, peering over the edge. We could see more Covenant at the bottom, with hundreds of Grunts and a handful of Jackals that seemed to be overseeing them. They were mustering near elevators, getting ready to come up to join the fight. An energy bolt sizzled and blew up a piece of rock near my face, and I ducked back to the safety of cover.
“Negative,” Rahud said, coming up from behind us suddenly. “Covenant Cruisers just arrived. We’re outgunned. We’re getting out of here and dropping a Shiva into this mess.”
That was it. The fight was over, we’d already lost.
I could sense the frustration in the air as word spread. But orders were orders.The Pelicans could barely land on the lip, and the Covenant at the bottom of the pit opened antiaircraft fire, but we all bugged out easily enough.
As we headed for orbit, the Shiva nuclear warheads left on the lip detonated.
Once we were aboard, the Clearidas entered slipspace, leaving the system.
Another retreat.
  • Halo Evolutions, Dirt
And so begins the most prominent part of the story, and, of course, Gage’s life as an ODST, and it’s not a happy one?
”A conscience is something that gets in the way. That’s all a soul is. An obstacle. Something to be overcome.”
The majority of Dirt features Gage’s fighting throughout the Human Covenant War, and it gives us a perspective of the common soldier. There are no heroes here, no Spartans, no victories or successes, no triumphant assaults or daring raids, just death and slaughter:
That was the pattern for the next few years. The Covenant ate us up, system by system, with very few victories on our side.
Most of the worlds I’d come to know well were all destroyed. No one cared about Insurrectionists, Outer Colonies versus the UNSC, or the Colonial Military ten years after Harvest fell.
There was only humanity versus the Covenant.
I saw more than my fair share of dead aliens and dead comrades.
Eventually I stopped making friends.
Mason died in my arms on Asmara after one of the snake-headed Covenant Elites speared him along with ten other ODSTs with his energy sword before I got off a near point-blank shot with a missile launcher.
I found Mason lying among the debris; I could smell his seared flesh.
He looked up at me with glassy eyes and asked for his mother, then coughed up blood and just . . . stopped being.
Kiko was stabbed in the face by the apelike Brutes on another world, the name of which I’ve since forgotten. Large, muscular, hairy aliens, they could snap a neck with their bare hands. Rahud died from energy artillery.
I was promoted to team leader, then a squad leader. I had long since stopped learning names; I didn’t want to form any attachments.
Maybe that’s why I never rose above squad leader.
I had become a shadow of myself. A robot. Hitting my mark and killing the enemy, and waiting for the one day a stray flash of energy would kill me.
I was waiting for the day I could be buried. In the dirt.

After all these years of combat, I slowly began to feel myself peeling apart. But I had no home, nowhere I really wanted to be, no one to see.
So I soldiered on, battle after battle.
  • Halo Evolutions, Dirt
This outlook, though bleak, isn’t an uncommon one, we see it in a few characters throughout the fiction, from Spartans like Fred-104,Owen-B096, Kevin-A282, and Marines, like the protagonist of the Halo Legends short The Prototype, Ghost, which the quote heading this section comes from, and Tarkov, the protagonist of the Halo 3 ODST live action trailer, and the squad commanded by Sergeant Lopez, from The Mona Lisa.
War, this war, the Human-Covenant War, breaks you. Casualties are in the thousands for every battle at a minimum, and even those who survive, who limp, bloody and beaten onto their dropships lose a part of themselves. They disassociate, they compartmentalize, they fracture, breaking off pieces of themselves to try and stay sane.
For people like Gage, the war is particularly distressing. Decades are spent fighting losing battles, watching the same show repeat over and over again. The demoralization of this must be crushing. As the war progresses, UNSC forces become more and more desperate, from the tomb-complexes built on Chi-Rho, to the nuclear bomb-rushes by Army troops on Actium, to the enacting of the Cole Protocol Empire-wide by the UNSC Navy.
Propaganda, likewise, begins to pour out, ONI Section II working overdrive to convince the public that they were winning the war, using modified images to sell the story, and focusing their efforts on the exploits of the Spartans by the 2540’s, and it works, for many… but not those on the frontlines, not the veterans, like Gage. They’re not seeing the victories ONI is claiming, they’re not seeing the mythical Spartans turn the tide. Worlds are still burning, people are still dying, humanity is still losing, and it’s the regular infantry and Navy, that are seeing the worst of it:
I almost saw my end in a hastily dug out trench on Skopje, an Inner Colony world. Unlike most of the wilder Outer Colonies, this world had highly built up urban areas, roads, and railways. It was an entire civilization sprawled across its island continents.
From the trench, if I turned to look behind me, I could see a skyline glinting and blazing in the sun over a red marbled museum. But back in front: mud.
We were sent in to protect the headquarters of a shipbuilding corporation during the evacuation of their shipyards. The machines, tools, and personnel that could be saved would be relocated to Reach, to continue building parts for the war effort.
Our headquarters were the halls of a nearby city museum, the grounds of which served as our landing zone and held all the quickly placed antiaircraft batteries.
“This is the fallback point, there is nowhere else to go,” we were told. “So you hold the perimeter at all costs.”
Covenant air support dared not attack us directly, not for several blocks. So they threw Grunts at us. Thousands of them in brutal house-to-house warfare, their numbers overwhelming our loose perimeter. We fell back and regrouped, drawing them in until we were foxholed on the edges of the vast museum gardens. We let the Grunts charge us across the muddy field.
They’d pushed us back, but we still simply thought of them as cannon fodder, waiting until they got close enough to hit their methane tanks and watch them explode. Now that we had our open ground and dug in positions, we slaughtered them.
But they kept coming. And after waves of screaming Grunts came the races higher up in the Covenant food chain: Jackal snipers, Brutes rushing the line, and then finally Elites, flashing their energy swords as they got in close enough to the melee.
The trenches got cut off, communication lost, and I found myself crouched in between two walls of mud with another ODST, waiting for the Covenant to leap in with us.
  • Halo Evolutions, Dirt
But Gage doesn’t meet his end, instead, he’s saved by a Spartan. We don’t know who this is, it doesn’t really matter. The survivors of Gage’s unit link up with another battalion of ODST’s under the command of none of them than Felicia Sanderson, Gage’s old friend:
“And I turned to see Felicia standing with a BR55 slung under one arm and a canteen in the other.
“Felicia?” There were wrinkles in her tanned, leathery face. But all these years would do that. We’d just been kids the last time we saw each other, really.
She ran over and hugged me, a strong clench, and then she shoved me back. “I can’t frigging believe you’re alive!”
I was just as stunned. “What are you doing here?”
“Holed up, same as you. The castle was my call. Some CEO had it made using actual quarried rock from outside the city. Covenant low-level energy weapons don’t vaporize the rock; they just melt it a bit more, making it even stronger. We’re waiting for some Pelicans to get us the hell out now that they took the museum off your grubby hands.”
She had a jagged scar across her cheek, and a nasty burn on the back of her neck from a near miss. But I caught a glimpse of her bars: She’d risen up to colonel.
We compared notes and found that we’d been in a couple of the same theaters together, separated only by thirty or so miles.

Off in the distance a sharklike Covenant Cruiser began to descend from the clouds. From its belly, fierce energy descended upon the land, glassing it into oblivion.
So we hightailed it out of there.
I’d stopped expecting to live, right before I saw her again. After that, I suddenly felt real again. A human being again, with a past, and a life.
  • Halo Evolutions, Dirt
Reunited with Felicia, and a now awake Eric (who joined the Navy as a Pilot), Gage rekindles his humanity, the cracks heal, the man returns…
…but that doesn’t change anything. Together again, but people still die, world still burn, the war is still a lost cause:
I felt the weariness in their voices. It was there in mine, too. Deep into my bones. I’d used up almost two-thirds of my life fighting.
And all I’d seen were losses.
Despite ONI propaganda films, and shore leave, and binges, I still felt that emptiness.
  • Halo Evolutions, Dirt
And so, the trio come up with a plan. On their next mission, they’ll rob a bank in secret, stealing the vault’s contents of gold and use it to retire.
With most of the ODST’s deployed to engage the Covenant, our trio, alongside a half dozen or so former CMA Marines and Insurrectionists, rob the bank…
But there’s a complication:
Back under the bank we detonated the door to the last vault. The lights flickered from the pulse as we opened the door, coughing and hacking from the dust that had been kicked up. Shadows filled the room, shifting and moving as the lights struggled to come on.
Then the lights quit flickering and steadied, and we realized that the shadows were still moving. They were human-shaped shadows.
A hand reached out from behind the bars and grabbed at me. “Are you here to save us?” asked a tiny voice, and I looked down into the large, wide blue eyes of a little boy.

“Thank god you came,” said an older man, a schoolteacher who’d been chosen to stay with the children while the adults armed up and marched downriver to fight the Covenant. That had been days ago.
The entire group was camped out in the last gold storage room, spreading out what supplies they had on towels on top of more wealth than any of them could have ever have previously imagined touching.
“We’ve seen what they’ve done to other worlds,” Julian, the schoolteacher, said. “We got as deep underground as we could . . . hoping maybe we could avoid the worst of it. The others had already left the city for the nearest spaceport. There weren’t many children left by the time the Covenant actually landed.”
They were not nearly deep enough. But I didn’t say anything.
  • Halo Evolutions, Dirt
The group of ODST’s are split on what to do. Sita,le and Orrin, the old CMA loyalists, want to leave the children behind and focus on the gold. Gage disagrees:
…“Think about what?” Sita asked, joining us. “You’re not seriously thinking about taking them out?”
I was horrified. “How can we not? These are children!”
“They’re dead,” Sita said. “They were dead the moment they chose to hole up down here. It is only a matter of when, and how. The fact that we stumbled across them doesn’t change the fact that we can’t evacuate everyone off an entire planet. It doesn’t work like that.”
Dale and Orrin were looking up from the dolly as they guided it toward us, paying attention to our body language.
“What the hell is the point of being a soldier if we can’t save anybody,” I snapped. The worlds I’d retreated from suddenly flashed through the back of my mind.
And then I thought about what Felicia had said. When was the last time I’d talked to a civilian? Julian was the first since the bombing that put Eric in a coma.
Maybe I’d spent too long being removed from civilization.
Maybe we all had.
But I still had a heart. I still knew what was right and what was wrong. “We can’t abandon these children to die. I refuse.”
“If you refuse, that’s a problem,” Sita growled. She had her BR55 raised slightly. Orrin and Dale, still observing, looked ready to jump forward and back her up.
  • Halo Evolutions, Dirt
In the end, a shootout occurs, Sita, Orrin and Dale against Gage… and Felicia.
Gage is the only survivor.
Wounded, but resolute, he returns to the Pelican, knocks out Eric and heads to the battle raging outside the city. There, ODST’s have secured a number of Covenant (read: Forerunner) artifacts, and are fighting to retreat to the city. Gage takes the artifacts aboard the Pelican as a decoy, and requests additional ODST’s and dropships be deployed to assist the beleaguered marines, and of course, rescue the civilians.
But those of the “vault team” Gage had left behind so not appreciate his newfound humanity, they shoot down his Pelican, and chase after him with one of their own.
This is where we return to the beginning of the story, where a dying Gage has retold his life story to an ODST sent to reinforce him.
The trooper, one Lance Corporal Johnathon Doeherty, is asked by Gage to make a promise:
“Years ago, I told my father it was ‘just dirt.’ But it’s not dirt. It’s where we live. It’s our dirt, dammit. And more importantly, it’s about who’s standing on that dirt. Those children. Your family. Your friends. And those freaks are going to pay for every piece of dirt they’ve taken from us.”
“We can still get you out of here . . .”
“No. I’m a dead man, you know it. I’m not going to waste more Marines.”
“And your friends coming this way?”
“They’re going to die helping protect the dirt, rookie. They’re going to die doing something good.” He smiled. “If they’d stayed back in the city to form up with you guys instead of running out here for the gold, they wouldn’t have a problem, would they? They chose this path. Promise me something, rook?”
“You’ll fight the Covenant all the way. Even if they land on Earth. You’ll fight them even if you have to throw rocks at them.”
”“I will, sir.”
  • Halo Evolutions, Dirt
Forced to hoof it away from Gage lest he be caught in the blast, the Trooper watches Gage detonate a FURY-Tac Nuke, killing himself, his CMA conspirators, and an army of Covenant following them for the artifacts.
The Trooper links up with another Pelican, where he’s given some good, and bad, news:
The Pelican shook and bounced. “The civilians have all been evacuated,” the copilot told the rookie, who stood behind them looking out the window. “We’re taking them back to Earth with us.”
“Earth?” He was surprised.
“The Covenant just attacked Reach,” the pilot reported. “We’re falling back to Mother Earth.”
The rookie looked out at the land under the clouds as they climbed for orbit, stunned. Soon all the ground would be glass, once the Covenant ships started in on it.
All dirt, he thought.
Like Earth.
From there, they would throw everything they had at the Covenant if they were found. Even if he had to throw the last rock himself. He’d made a promise.
They would make the Covenant pay for every inch of dirt, the rookie thought to himself.
Upon returning to Earth, the Trooper would be reassigned to the UNSC Cruiser, Say My Name, and participates in the battle of New Mombasa, serving as a replacement for a dead Trooper in a squad commanded by Gunnery Sergeant Edward Buck…
…but that’s a story for another time
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2023.12.06 00:03 babykinns Recombinant Bridgehead Chapter 31 Spider Part 1

Spider was hurled through a door that slid back in place to become one with the cell. He rammed against the walls of his enclosure, shouting, in Na'vi, at the animals who caged him. His fists struck, his feet kicked, but nothing would give. Spider backed away to the centre of the room that was tyrannical in its white, sterile harshness. There were no distinct smells to take in, the floors did not react when touched, and the colourless light overhead did nothing to enrich. It was a void of brightness more terrifying and more sinister than being trapped in the dark, for it taunted its captives by magnifying their aloneness.
Spider's indignation boiled over, and he charged at the wall once more. He fell back in the recoil. His whole side ached, but the obstinate youth would try again, and again, and again till his muscles failed him, and even then, he would still keep trying. He had to show the dogs he wasn't going down without a fight.
Ardmore watched him through computer screens in a dark room. Present, was Ismael Serrano. "That's Sully's son?"
"No, sir," Ardmore clarified. "Our sources say he's nothing more than a sidekick he kept around."
"Then he would know everything about the insurgents?"
"But he won't talk?"
"Not yet. Give him time. He will."
Spider lay supine on the white floor, with his tan dreadlocks fanned out like his arms. Hours passed, but time stalled in that cell. His mind was in upheaval, still refusing to accept how utterly cut off he was. This situation wouldn't last, he told himself. He just needed to hold out. He was a Pandoran, and Pandorans were strong. His eyes ran down the lines of panelling above until he could not distinguish one from the next. Shapes lost their sides, and everything became a fog. Sleep captured the prisoner before he knew it.
He heard voices—a baby crying. A feeling of helplessness seized him as if he no longer had an able body. Goblins with no faces hovered over his bleary eyes. Their bipedal shape was the only thing human about them. He begged them for warmth, for one brush of compassion, but their hands were guarded behind their surgical gloves.
A pair of blue hands grabbed him.
Spider was rudely awakened by a swarm of soldiers, robbing him of the sleep he was in desperate need of. The young man fought ferociously and managed to secure the arm of a burly man who failed to secure him. With one twist, Spider broke the goon's humerus, and in the scuffle of agonized cries and beastly snarling, they retaliated by stunning the pugilist with an electric rod, subduing him instantly. The injured soldier was carried out, but his comrades remained to avenge their brother. They grabbed Spider by his dreadlocks and dragged him down a series of dimly lit halls. The Pandoran was brought to a grim industrial room where he thought he detected the faint, inexplicable scent of Na'vi, only for it to be overpowered by the stench of polished leather. The soldiers dunked him in a basin of frigid water; its icy bite stretched his eyes, and he could hardly breathe as he sputtered. They whipped his head back and held him in place, forcing him to look up at the only thing colder than the treatment, someone he instantly despised with every fibre of his being.
"Cooled off yet?" she asked impassively.
"What do you want from me?" his frosty tone bit.
"Tell us about Sully."
"Sorry, lady, but he's spoken for."
Spider was dunked in the water once more until the commander waved her hand; her indifferent face leaned in on the one gasping for air. "I spent three years in Brazil dealing with macaquitos like you, and there ain't a Geneva Convention holding me back. So watch what you say, boy."
"Zize'ìl sngivap ngat!"
"String him up."
The POW was hoisted by his arms and hung from a pipe that ran across the ceiling. His toes brushed the metal floor as he dangled from his restraints.
"When you do change your mind about talking," she said as she unclipped the rawhide from her belt, "do it in the proper language."
The fury of the leather tongue was unleashed across his back. He had been stung by hellfire wasps, struck by cillaphants, and once suffered the bite of a viperwolf, but none of those compared to the pain of her whip. His screams reverberated throughout the bowels of Bridgehead until they became aphonic. In the reprieve between lashes, Spider stared up at the ceiling, his spinning mind stopping on the one thing that gave him hope.
The unmerciful whip lashed again, the strained mouth brimmed with spit, but throughout it all, the warrior managed to work out a single whisper.
"I love you."
Quaritch was alone in his cabin back at Homestead. His body was still healing from the several burns he sustained, but they were injuries that paled in comparison to another's. The colonel's mood, like everyone else, was dour; no one had died, but the whole team was in mourning. Zhâng's absence was strongly felt, and the toll it took on the once bubbly CJ was painfully noticeable.
With a heavy sigh, the colonel continued folding the clothing on his bed, trying to occupy himself from the thoughts that weighed down his mind. As he was preparing his dirty laundry, he cleaned out his pants pocket and rediscovered the bone. He held it up, having completely forgotten about it, along with his reasons for keeping it. Seeing it again only reminded him of that boy.
In the aftermath of the incident, as Quaritch recovered at Fort Styx, the feral human was whisked away to Bridgehead along with CJ and Zhâng, and that was the last he heard of him. If he had the time, he would've extracted answers for the questions burning in his mind, such as why he pilfered his grave or what compelled him to warn him about the trap.
Quaritch scratched his head with said bone, briefly held it up to his arm to appreciate the size difference, then slipped it into his back pocket. He hoisted his laundry bag over his shoulder and exited the cabin.
Outside, the scene was still sombre. Recombinants carried out their daily chores but without the usual humour. Quaritch strolled past CJ, sitting on her cabin steps, preoccupied with aggressively cleaning her boots.
"Keep going at it like that, and you'll put a hole in it."
She stared up at her colonel, then returned to polishing. "I'm almost done."
"I can see my reflection already. You're done."
When she noticed he was right, she set them down with a shrug. "Yeah, I guess I am."
Quaritch dropped his laundry bag as well. "Looks like I owe you my thanks a second time."
"We're soldiers. We're supposed to protect our team," she droned.
"Yeah, that's very true," he grunted as he sat down next to her, having forgotten, once again, what was in his pants. CJ blinked at his sudden yelp and then again at the sudden presence of human remains.
"Uh, sir?"
"Little souvenir I picked up."
"Please tell me that's yours."
"What are you going to do with it?"
He balanced it between his hands. "I have no idea. You want it?" He arced it over, but she pulled away.
"No, thanks."
Quaritch was pleased he managed to get a smile. "We found this on that boy we captured. I wonder what possessed him to rip off my arm. I mean, with my reputation, I'd chalk it up to fanaticism."
CJ jostled a shoulder. "Why don't you ask him?"
"Can't—don't know his whereabouts. I'd have to ask Parker, but I'm too busy right now." He made to get up but stopped halfway. "Unless you wanna ask for me?"
"Yeah, that is, if you don't mind?"
CJ was neither here nor there but agreed. Quaritch stood fully and called over to Bridgette. "Walker, get the RTV ready. You're to drive Casey into the city." Miles helped CJ to her feet. "Just ask him for updates. For some reason, he has more luck asking Ardmore for things than I do."
"Will do, sir."
The two entered the garage to the sound of Walker jangling her keys. "Get in," she instructed.
Miles opened the front door for his emissary. "He's probably at the ward right now, so you're to check there first, alright? You good?"
CJ nodded as she buckled up. When Quaritch shut the door, he discovered Walker leaning against the RTV, giving him a look.
He waved away her smirk. "You don't say anything."
"I'll keep it secret, just like our yoga sessions."
"Don't you say that out loud!" he hushed, looking around him. "Git in!"
"Yes, sir," she purred.
Clad in his loincloth, Spider lay on the cold, desolate floor of his tiny cell. His latrine was a grate in the corner. Water was a luxury only doled to him when his captors deemed fit. His back was constantly trying to recover from the torture, and the healing process stole every ounce of his energy. He shivered in the fetal position, rubbing warmth into his legs; the animals had purposely lowered the temperature to his cell and denied him food for days, sending his internal body temperature to dangerous lows. He stared at the white tips of his shaking hands. His fingers stroked the hard ground that would not give way like the soil he used to scoop up to watch the dirt fall between. The sterile floor was similar to the avatar clinic, but there was no Kiri to keep him warm—no one to comfort him—and the only faces he was allowed to see were ones devoid of compassion.
He was moments away from falling asleep, something he hadn't been able to do successfully since his capture, when a sound hissed, and a section of wall retracted. In walked the demoness. She stood before him and shivered.
"Whoa, chilly in here."
Spider scowled at the stoney face.
She smacked her gums. "You're impressive, kid. No food, no sleep, no nothing, and you're still not talking. Sully hasn't made a single attempt to get you back, and you're setting the table as if he's coming home for dinner." She shook her head. "Must have quite the hold on you."
His silence continued, and Ardmore's eyes ran over his pale frame. She caught the string of beads wrapped around his loincloth. She knew enough about the Na'vi to recognize it as a songcord. With one tug, she ripped it off, and several baubles scattered over the floor. Incensed, Spider flew at her, but in his anemic state, it only took a gentle shove to knock him back.
"Awfully touchy about your trinket."
"Go to hell," he murmured with all his strength.
She squatted over him, and Spider's tired eyes narrowed at her ugliness. She put away his songcord and replaced it with her equivalent; only, the songs it recorded were screams. She held it before his face. "You want this again?"
He stared back at the whip, his eyes following its vicious curl. He knew the whip's sting was fleeting while the pain of betraying his family would torture him forever. He summoned as much saliva as he could to spit in her face.
The general came to a stand at the sound of Serrano's voice. She discreetly put away her whip, and Spider swallowed his attack.
"Governor Serrano," she greeted.
The curious man walked in to afford a peak at the feral prisoner. "Has he talked yet?"
"No, sir," she replied dully. "I would say so if he did."
"Right." With odd fascination, Serrano continued to stare. "He looks so weak."
"Don't be fooled by appearances. That kid sent a full grown man to the ward—split the bone in two."
The pressed shirt backed away a step, then nudged the general's arm to bring her outside. "General, uh, we've had this boy for almost a week now, and he still hasn't talked. Now, I'm wondering if maybe...we should try a different approach?"
She chuffed incredulously. "You have a better idea?"
"Well, you said you found tags on him."
"Yes. For some reason, the magpie was in possession of Quaritch's old DMT."
"I think that suggests a possible fondness, don't you?"
"Have you asked him about it?"
"Asked who? The boy?"
"No, no, I mean..." He rolled his hand, still reluctant to repeat the colonel's name.
Serrano nodded.
Ardmore rocked her body in contemplation. "He did mention that the boy tried warning him about the explosives."
Serrano beamed. "You see? Fondness."
"What the hell are you getting at, Governor?"
"You might have more luck if you let"—Serrano swallowed—"him do the talking."
Inside the washing house, some recombinants sat around the machines as their laundry took a spin. One of them was making more noise than the rest due to the bone rattling on top. Alexander gave his colonel an uneasy look, and Quaritch, who was biding his time perusing through his field guide, stared back. "You got a problem, soldier?"
Alexander replied by shifting his eyes over to the oddity.
"Oh, c'mon. Don't tell me you're unsettled by that. It's just a bone, for Pete's sake."
"But why is it on top the washing machine?"
"Simple, I haven't started my whites yet."
The load finished, the bone stopped its dancing, and Quaritch put away his book. Once his chore was completed, he headed back to his cabin and tossed the bag onto the porch. I gotta get rid of this thing, he thought as he stared at the humerus, and so, left to seek out the dumpster.
After sauntering on over, he stood before the smelly bin, bobbed the bone, ready to pitch it, when something stayed his hand: the mental picture of his old body discarded alongside that morning's waste. He once boasted that he didn't care for any ceremonious send-off but found himself now unable to back up that claim.
I could fashion it into some sort of memorial? He toyed with the idea but then dismissed the thought. Ain't no way I'm becoming a knick-knack. He scratched his face. Bury it? Nah. I'm not that feral. Quaritch stood in place. Am I? His cogitations were interrupted when he detected smoke and remembered the incinerator. Well, if what was left of me went up in a blaze of glory, the rest might as well too.
He hiked over to the industrial furnace where workers were feeding dead beasts and other refuse onto a conveyor belt. Quaritch casually strolled near the belt, looking ahead at the gnashing steel teeth and the hellish white fires beyond.
"Is that human?"
Quaritch blinked at a man in coveralls, pointing aggressively at the humerus; the recombinant stammered, realizing he had no easy explanation. "Uh, no. Well, yes, but—"
"Human remains have to be reported. You can't just toss it in the incinerator."
The Marine smiled nervously. "Well, you see, uh... He would've wanted it this way."
"You get that bone out of here," the man fumed.
"Right, right. Of course." He tittered and took his opportunity to exit gracefully.
As he trekked back to Homestead, he was passed by an MPV that immediately stopped. The colonel watched as a soldier hopped out. "You Officer Quaritch?"
"The general wants you. Get on."
Since the recombinant would not fit inside, he climbed the six-wheeled armoured vehicle and squatted on the roof as it made a U-turn for the city. Enjoying the unconventional ride, it wasn't long before buildings began growing up like weeds from the horizon and even shorter before they were tunnelling down alleys of high-rises. From the vista, framed by passing buildings, he saw the marina that grew in width to an unobstructed view. The recom's sights panned over the waters where he noted the awesome might of Bridgehead's navy, with their fleet of Sea Dragons being the most impressive. There was also no want of space to maneuver the large ships, for the circumference of the city was so vast that Quaritch could not see the sea wall beyond. As he looked out upon the bay, he espied a great body, half obscured by blinding sunlight, suddenly breach the surface and crash down again. The man rubbed his eyes, thinking this moon was playing tricks on him again.
They parked at a section of tarmac not far from the docks, and when the HAF troopers exited the vehicle, the recombinant hopped off, not expecting their destination to actually be the marina. "Why are we here?"
"This way."
Quaritch followed his escort party down a row of drab structures built on the quay and almost hurled from the stench of decaying fish wafting through the air. He was left to guess what unholy operations Bridgehead conducted near the ocean to create such a noisome odour.
He was led to a stout building with no markings to indicate what it was for. One soldier tossed him a breather before entering the vestibule, and the recombinant followed. Inside, there was piping, generators and nondescript computer equipment. The two men instructed Quaritch to stand on a section of tread plating. He was still looking about the suspicious room when the square lowered, and the lift descended into the dark underworld. The scenario reminded him of the morning he was summoned to Hell's Gate's lower levels; he was just as confused then, too. Once the lift stopped, he walked with the stoic men down Bridgehead's intestines.
They stopped before a room with no intention of entering themselves, and so Quaritch, having been invited by their directed palms, ducked under the doorway to face what awaited him. The space was dark save for the light of several monitors mounted on the wall, and before the grim setup was the room's sole occupant, glimpsing into the cells of the city's unwanted.
"General Ardmore."
Her eyes shifted over to him, and she nudged her head to the bottom row of screens. "That's the boy you found."
Quaritch immediately gravitated towards the figure huddled in a corner, wasting away in a fetal position with face hidden behind dreadlocks.
"I can let you in if you want to see him that bad."
"Excuse me?"
"You're touching the monitor."
Quaritch jerked his hand back, and Ardmore made a grunt as she leaned forward to wipe the screen.
"Is he the reason you brought me down here?"
Ardmore took a long sip from her mug before reaching into her pocket and tossing him something. "Found this on him."
He nabbed the object, and when he beheld his old face, Quaritch was dumbfounded.
"Seems to have an odd fascination with you."
"So you want me to talk to him, is that it?"
"You catch on fast." Before he could give any response, Ardmore pressed a button and requested that the captive be cleaned up and brought to a holding room. When her finger lifted, she addressed him again. "Don't interrogate. Just talk and see what happens. Got that, Quarrie?"
He fought the urge to recoil. "Understood."

Dedicated to Stephen Lang, this is the sequel to James Cameron's Avatar. This story does not follow the events of ‘The Way of Water' or any other continuation, only the 2009 movie, which serves as the foundation. Same characters but an alternate reality plot.
You can read for free on Google Docs, Wattpad, A03,
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2023.12.05 20:58 Silenthands7 [M4F] The Deaththorne came from nowhere. In days, the kingdom had been decimated. Everyone who died now corrupted, former knight Adrian Cross wandered the region searching for answers. After being alone for so long, he comes across an unexpected ally [Reddit Chat][Discord][Longterm][Semi-Literate]

Obviously looking for a story with smut, not the other way around. Bring a reference, or maybe I have one for you if you don't. If interested, let's talk!
*He’d been roaming the lands doing his best to find answers on his aimless travels. Between his odd jobs to earn money and food fighting wraiths and other beasts on behalf of villages and townsfolk alike, he bore the looks of disdain from the public, quickly leaving as soon as he arrived. His armor a dead giveaway of his origins, the realm blamed Tervall for not silencing the scourge that befell the realm, and he was the one that bore the brunt of that tarnished reputation.The Kingdom of Tervall was once the primary hub for commerce, education, and security for the region. Keeping stability between different states and clans, the balance of power was secure in Tervallan dealings.
Joining the guard as a promising recruit, Adrian Cross was selected to be assigned to the Kingdom’s Tama Squad: the premier detail of the security forces. Joining with his brothers and sisters in arms, they all had unique abilities and talent that set them a part from the rest. Cross had the talent of physical energy manipulation, increasing his power and speed as needed. Their camaraderie was unmatched, yet also short-lived.
It came from nowhere. The Day of Nightfall came, blotting out the sky with clouds rolling in, their presence sucking all light into their thunderous void. Colossal demons, humanoid demons, and abnormal demons of all creeds and abilities swarmed the Kingdom. Doing all they could to stave the attack, their defenses would soon crumble as more died and were brought back to do the attacker’s bidding. Saving what little population he could while fighting off what corrupted allies stood in his way, it was all Cross could do to stay alive and escape.The Fall being six years ago, it lived on every day in Cross as if it was mere hours prior. Physically exhausted from his battles and wanderings and emotionally drained from the sharp tongues and gazes of the populous, Cross’s demeanor had learned to be stoic and stern in the ways of this world. It didn’t matter if he was the object of their hatred, all he wanted was answers, and how to make things right for the land he had let down…*
Message for my Discord!
-I am 18+ and all characters and participants must also be 18+.-
General Info: Name: Adrian Cross Age: 29
Physical: Height: 5’11” Weight: 171 pounds Eye color: Amber Hair color: Black Body type: Athletic, toned Skin tone: tan
-Blue Aura: At the cost of his stamina, he can drastically increase his strength and speed output several fold
-Energy Manipulation: Can alter his and others’ external energy. Situation depending. Very limited.
-The Mark of The Damned: (Story spoiler)
-Energy Synergy: Can merge with some energies to create stronger attacks. Situation depending.
Weaknesses: Potent magic will wear down his energy reserves faster than physical attacks.
Job: Former elite knight of the fallen Kingdom of Tervall.
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2023.12.05 19:15 MjolnirPants Jerry and the Lost Kingdom: Part 7

Part 6
I could feel the time magic sweeping us along a long path as we crossed a threshold that was only a few inches wide. The view through had been a mirror image, but as we stepped through, the mirror reversed itself, so that we stepped right back into the same room. Only cleaner. The avatar monitoring the compass reported a steady vector again, and the shutting off of the green light. Astoram was here, we just had to find him, and take him down.
I clutched my staff, ready to unleash the magic within at a moment's notice as I moved quickly to the door that led out to the streets. There was a square hole at head height in the door, filled with metal bars. Through it, I peered outside.
There were people. Lots of them. I counted eighteen, all passing by, paying the doorway no mind. The early morning sun left most of the street in shadows, but the sky was glowing gold and purple.
We had found another market square, just a block from this place, though that one had come without a ghoul ambush. Lots of people, all of them dressed more or less like early modern French commoners, were coming and going. I noted that all of them had black or brown hair and a complexion that matched the northern European locale.
That was going to be more difficult in a populated place. I ducked my head and moved around, getting a view of the street outside the door. It was, of course, the same layout as the street we'd come in from, but bustling with activity. I wondered how they'd react to strange people in strange clothes appearing in their midst.
I had grown quite fond of Inanna's tan skin. It was a coloring I associated with her. However, she was aware of my prior preference for redheads, and had adopted pale, freckled skin and orange hair before. I turned around.
"Inanna," I said. "Lighten your skin to about the same shade as when you go redhead. And we're going to need to dig into your wardrobe if we want to blend in."
"Is blending in really that important?" Nick asked. I shrugged. "I don't know, but I'd rather not find out that it was in a way that causes trouble for us."
"How are they dressed?" Inanna asked, her skin already growing paler.
"Early modern period French," I said. "Breeches and shirts for the men, long dresses and aprons for the women. Quite a few of the women have scarves over their hair, too."
"You guys sort out the clothes, I'm gonna step back through and make sure the others know where this portal is and what we found," Nick volunteered. I winced. I hadn't given a single thought to the party following in our wake. By now, they must have reached the city.
"Shit," Inanna said, letting me know that she'd been as focused on Astoram as I. "The ghouls."
I thought furiously. I didn't want them walking into an ambush, even though I trusted them to be able to handle the ghouls as well as we had. Honestly, the only reason we had any trouble was because there were only three of us, and dual-wielding assault rifles is something that only works in video games and cheesy 80's action movies.
But still, every combat encounter was a risk. Every single one.
"Shit," I muttered. "We need to go back through and meet them."
"I'll do it," Inanna said. She materialized a pile of clothing almost as tall as she was. "You two stay here and get dressed. There should be enough for everyone there. It won't be perfect, but it should be close enough. I'll do a mass teleport to bring them here."
"I'm not sure-" I started to object, but she rounded on me with hands on her hips.
"You think I won't be all right in a ruined city full of ghouls?" she asked, quirking an eyebrow at me.
"No, it's just..." I sighed. "I don't like splitting up. The last time we split up..."
Her expression softened and she walked forward to wrap me in a hug. "It's just a few minutes, babe. I'll be right back, I promise." She kissed me, a gentle, soft press of her lips to mine.
"Okay," I said. As soon as I said it, she let go and walked back to the portal. "Five minutes," she said, and then she stepped through. I watched her hair, thrown over one shoulder, flip shoulders as she stepped through. She turned back around, saw me and waved. Then she snapped her finger, making her battle rattle vanish into hammerspace and gestured at her crotch.
I couldn't help it. I laughed. She turned, took a second to bend over and spread her butt cheeks, then her gear reappeared and she walked out of the door.
"One of these days, we're gonna be friends, and when that day comes, I'm gonna tease you relentlessly about your wife," Nick said. I turned around to eye him. I opened my mouth to object, but then shut it.
"Come on, let's figure out some outfits," I said.
True to her word, Inanna returned five minutes later, leading the others. They stepped through, their apparent left-handed carries becoming right-handed as they did. We filled the room. Seven veteran warfighters, two demigods and an oracle with a shocking facility with earth-side magic.
"All right," I said. "Everybody needs to get dressed. Simple boots, breeches, shirts and jackets for the men. We've got a couple of backpacks here, some cloaks, so we don't need to leave anything behind. Amanda and Michelle, you guys are getting dresses and shawls."
I eyed Franklin for a minute. He noted my look and quirked an eyebrow.
"We're in honkeystan, ain't we?"
"Deep in the heart of caucasity," I agreed.
"Shit," he muttered. "Maybe I should stay here, guard our exfil route."
"Not a bad idea, but remember; somebody built this portal. They may come back for it." He nodded.
"Have everybody leave their assault packs with me, then. I'll keep an eye on them. I'm guessing we want to use the half-tech radios?"
"Yes," I agreed. I summoned the half-tech radios from hammerspace, thankful that I'd thought to store an even dozen of them there. Each one was a small, plastic box, about the size of a credit card and a half-inch thick. Inside was an actual radio, military grade, along with some magical components. They could be pressed into skin, where they would cling tightly. Once attached, they duplicated the mental comms that magic users relied on for out-of-sight communication, but they did so by transmitting powerful, encrypted radio signals.
Hence the name, 'half-tech'. They had been built in response to a number of incidents in which comms, both magical and technological, had been lost, and to the best of my ability to test, there was absolutely nothing that could block them. Not modern jamming techniques, as the radio signals themselves were enchanted. Not magical suppression, as each box was a magical faraday cage. One would have to use military-grade jamming, combined with a potent anti-magic field to stop them, and even under those circumstances, the comms just got really spotty.
I was particularly proud of these. I was hoping to get Emily trained up enough to produce them, so we could make more and get on them as our default comms.
Michelle had already dug out a simple dress that was belted around the waist by ribbons. She held it up and nodded, satisfied at the fit, then quickly undid the velcro holding her armor on. I watched as she pulled it over her head, then grabbed her shirt front and yanked forward.
It came apart in a hiss of separating velcro, revealing bare skin underneath. Michelle had never been the most endowed of women in a certain respect, but she had always been a fitness freak, and the sight was nice enough that everyone but Jim, the team's tech spec, stopped and stared. Jim just didn't swing that way, so I didn't blame him.
She repeated the trick with her pants, proving (again) that Michelle goes commando, like most hulks. Underwear can be painfully constricting when you're eight-foot-eleven. She noticed me staring, of course, and winked.
"Got six pairs off Sergeant Dan, down at the Jigglestick, the strip club," she said. "He makes them from real ACUs."
"Huh," I replied. I shook my head, my question about how she got naked so quickly in a fight finally answered, and picked out my own outfit. I went with green breeches and a coat, because they looked like they'd fit me. An off-white shirt and brown boots completed the outfit. I stripped down, and yes, due to Inanna's influence, I too, went commando. I noticed Jim staring and waffled for a second between covering myself and showing off.
I've long since realized that I look good naked. I'm five ten, and about a hundred and fifty pounds, but at almost zero percent body fat. Nothing I eat seems to change that latter fact, either. I am, as Inanna frequently noted, 'built like a fuckboi', and I've come to accept this, and even appreciate it a little. My indecision lasted too long, so I finally contented myself with flashing Jim a wink and then pulling my breeches on.
We all finished getting dressed. Franklin had them line their rifles up against the far wall, and we all made sure our sidearms were easy to get at. I know that sounds like a bit of a downgrade, but the gen-9 mark-23s that we used were formidable weapons. The red dot sights could zoom up to 12x, they were as accurate as a sniper rifle (assuming you found a good shooting position) and they were capable of full auto fire. And that was in addition to the usual improvements. Variable muzzle velocity, integrated magical suppression, selectable ammo types and infinite ammo.
I kept my staff out in the open, as I'd already spied two men carrying staffs through the window in the door. I hadn't seen anyone with weapons, so Inanna sent her sword back to hammerspace and Nick banished his axe back to whatever hammerspace analog he'd worked up. Interestingly, it was a mid-sized bearded axe, not the fantasy-looking things he'd shown us to prove that his magic was working fine, last night.
"All right," I said when everyone was ready. "Just in case it's not obvious; none of us speak the local language. So we're going to need to keep to ourselves. The compass is working, and Astoram has moved off to the north. He's a good two miles north of here, with urban streets the whole way. And he's moving. I don't know towards what, but whatever it is, we don't want him to find it. We're going to be moving at a brisk walk, to avoid attracting too much attention. We want to avoid interacting with the locals, both because we can't speak the language, but also because we don't want to end up falling afoul of any local customs that could end up with us having to fight. So keep your heads down and your mouths shut and use the half-techs for all comms. Let's go."
As it turned out, the locals spoke a dialect of proto-Germanic that had heavy elements of Latin mixed in. We passed by many people chatting with each other, and I let my ears take in as much as possible. It seemed to be mostly, but not entirely, Latin words used for informal nouns, whereas all the verbs, adverbs and prepositions were either proto-Germanic or close enough to write off as a regional accent.
I translated a number of sentences in my head, using those rules as a guide, preparing myself if I needed to speak to anyone.
This was yet another bizarre anachronism encountered on a non-Earth mortal world. The number of such parallels we'd encountered on the Sixteenth World had made it clear that there was something going on, but it was a mystery for another day. For today, I was simply grateful that I would be able to communicate if I needed to, though not very well.
We moved through the streets, which, remarkably, did not grow less crowded as we moved away from the market square. The structures around us tended to be at least two stories. About half were three stories, and there were taller towers scattered about, as well. The residents mostly ignored us, though a few nodded as they passed near. I always nodded back, hoping each time that this was not a precursor to a conversation.
Astoram had slowed down, and we were making ground on him. We closed the distance down to one mile, and then less. Then we broke into another market square and I understood.
The crowds were dense as hell. By the time we broke through and reached the other side, Astoram had gained on us. The streets here were even more crowded than before. We were in one of the densest parts of the city. The shortest buildings were three stories here, and at least half were four or more. There were no towers, only tall townhome-looking structures, many with shops of one sort or another on the ground floors.
I couldn't make out the writing on the signs. It was some sort of runic alphabet, but the runes didn't make sense. Many were similar to Elder Futhark runes, but try as I might, I couldn't make heads or tails of them, even when I could see what the shop sold.
I looked at one that had a window in which were displayed a line of mortars containing powders of different colors with small, paper signs in front of them. The sign read ᛏᛒᛉᚹᚨᚷᛗ, which made no sense, phonetically. T-B-R-W-A-G-M. Tiber-wag-em? It wasn't anywhere near the words for powder, spice, or anything else of the sort. I sighed, realizing that they used the runes to indicate different sounds entirely than Elder Futhark. The sign probably read 'pulveres', but the runes made little sense.
We pressed on, moving as quickly as we could through the throngs of people all around us. The middle of the street had the least density, so that was where we went. Even still, we had to dodge locals and move around big knots of them, standing around talking, or moving from one side of the street to the other.
We began gaining ground again, and in under an hour, the avatar was letting me know that he was less than fifty yards ahead of us. I used the half-techs to spread the word, and Nick approached me.
Let me run ahead, he sent. I know how to pickpocket. I can snatch the sword away before he knows what's happened.
No, I answered immediately. Touching that sword is extremely dangerous, and we don't have time for me to train you how to do it safely.
All right, he replied, You think you can pull it off?
I don't know, I sent. I really don't want to do it in these crowds. If anything goes wrong, he's gonna fight, and people will get hurt. I think it's probably better to come at him all together, so we can overwhelm him quickly.
Nick shrugged. You're the boss. Whatever you want to do, I'm ready.
We kept pushing forward, until I finally spotted him.
He had gotten a local outfit from somewhere. He wore brown breeches and a long, gray jacket, under which I could see the shape of Godslayer, hanging from his hip. At one point, he turned and I caught a glimpse of his face. He looked completely like Astoram, now. There was no trace of Curtis left. His long, straight black hair hung down to his back, and his shoulders were wide, but no longer the thick, rounded shoulders of the bodybuilder Curtis had been.
He finally turned down a narrow side street between two townhouses. We hurried to catch up, rounding the corner to find it was an alley. A few doors opened onto it, but there were no signs, it was dirty and there were barrels stacked next to some of the doors. I could see that it ended in a T-intersection about a dozen yards down.
Michelle, send two up to the next street, and two back to the previous street to check the mouths of this intersection.
I moved into the alley as Michelle dispatched her team. It was just Nick, Inanna, Michelle, Amanda and I now. I clutched my staff as the others reached under their jackets for their sidearms.
Reaching the intersection, I saw that another alley, parallel to this one, met one of the arms at an offset. I moved to it, spotting Mark and Lawrence at the mouth. I gestured for them to follow, and moved through the dogleg.
Astoram was there, messing with a door that opened onto the alley. I ducked back, as he was a good twenty yards away. I didn't have time to get up on top of him before he spotted me, but if he stepped inside, we'd get our chance.
I peeked around the corner until he finally opened the door and stepped in, and then I moved around it and fast-stepped forward to the door. When I looked back, I could see that George and Jim had met up with us, as well.
The door was a simple wooden one with a large keyhole. Fresh scratches around the keyhole suggested that Astoram had picked the lock. We stacked up, and I dismissed my staff for close quarters work. I drew my own sidearm, and prepared a bunch of spells.
I held up three fingers.
Then two.
Then one.
I kicked the door open and rushed inside.
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2023.12.05 14:36 United_Patriots The Nature of Orion [6] - The Gaians

Thank you u/SpacePaladin15 for the amazing universe!
l Prologue l Previous l Next l
Memory transcription subject: Piri, Prime Minister of the Gojid Union
Date [standardized human time]: July 15th, 2136
Goddess, what has she gotten herself into?
That was the thought that ran laps through my head as the shuttle descended through the atmosphere of Skalga. Tarva had contacted on the confidential channels a day ago, requesting an urgent conference call. She had established contact with a new species of predator. Not just any species, no. She had been visited by humans.
Needless to say, my spines nearly shot off my back when I read that message. They were supposed to have killed themselves off years ago! And now, not only were they alive, they were becoming buddy buddy with one of our closest allies. And I knew of the humans reputation, and what it meant if their survival became known.
The understanding was clear. Humanity was coming to the galaxy, whether we liked it or not. And how that introduction happened was now up to us.
A conference call, she had requested. I said screw that, I want to meet these humans in person. We were faced with the biggest geopolitical challenge of a generation, and Goddess forbid it if I had to talk to those humans through a screen. It took a bit on wrangling, but I was eventually able to get Tarva to agree to an in person meeting.
The firing of retro jets and the soft baying of suspension told me that we had landed. My private guard stood at my side as the ramp lowered, flooding the cabin with the red light and fresh air of Skalga.
“Piri.” Tarva, dressed in her best looking formal wear, waved her tail in greeting as we stepped out onto the landing pad.
“Tarva, its good to see you, you look…”
Like shit, frankly. I could tell that it had been days, or ‘paws’, since she had gotten a proper rest. Despite herself, she still managed to stand tall.
Tarva smiled. “No need to lie to me, Piri. I haven't had a good rest in stars knows how long.”
How she managed to smile when she looked like she had been awake for months was beyond my understanding. I looked upon her with sympathy.
“I can only guess its because of our situation?” I didn’t want to mention their name to my guards. I trusted them, but this was a situation that went beyond trust. Any leak of information, no matter how small, could quickly spiral out of control.
“Yes, you could say that. But how have you been? You look in significantly better shape than me.”
I sighed. I wanted to say that everything was going well, but...
“Same shit, different day, Tarva."
We began walking from the landing pad towards the governors mansion, with my entourage following close behind. All around us, Skalgan government employees made their way about, weaving in and around us as we made our way through. From the snippets of conversation I picked up, everything sounded like it was normal. The existence of our new friends seemed secure, for now.
“Did the costs for the ecological recovery program come through yet?”
Tarva interrupted my thoughts with the question. I guess it would have been awkward if we walked the entire distance in silence. Plus, it gave me an opportunity to vent about the bullshit I had been dealing with for the entirety of my term.
“Oh yes, it did. One hundred Billion credits.”
Tarva nearly went bug eyed. “100 billion, by the stars! Dreno knew how to leave a lasting impression, I’ll give him that.”
That was about the only thing I could give that old bastard. My administrative predecessor's little ‘anti-predator’ program resulted in pest populations exploding, resulting in billions in lost crops and a near Cradle wide ecological collapse. How he ever got elected in the first place remained as one of the galaxies greatest mysteries.
“Lasting impression indeed. The people I have running the calculations say that it will take years for the ecosystem to return to normal. And that's assuming proper staffing and funding for the recovery program.”
“Have funds been tight?”
“Very. The regional governments are strapped, crop failures took out most of their income. And needless to say, they aren’t willing to fork over what little they have. And staff, that’s a whole other issue entirely.”
Tarva gave a confused flick of the ear. “Were you not able to get back all the people Dreno fired?”
I scoffed. “I tried, believe me. But few took me up on my offers. And honestly, I don’t blame them. If I were one of those ecologists, I would have every right to slam the door in the governments face.”
When Dreno began his 'anti-predator' program, every ecologist who hadn't been recently lobotomized immediately objected to his plans. In response, the wise and caring Dreno had them all sacked, or otherwise reassigned to dead end positions. Most of them ended up leaving the Cradle, taking their skills and expertise with them. By the time I came around begging for them to come back, they had already established themselves on different worlds. Needless to say, none were to thrilled to return to the world that had so easily rejected their expertise. And in the end, I couldn't really blame them.
“So, what do you have?"
“More like what don’t we have, because we don’t have much. 5,000 workers spread out across the entire planet, barely enough money to pay them all, and a number of ecologists that I can count on one claw. One of them was supposed to retire five years ago, two of them just came out of school, and the last two live out in the sticks, with baggage in tow.”
“Something to do with an Arxur, but honestly…” I almost laughed at how all stupid it was.
"Tarva, we're desperate for people who can tell one leaf apart from another, let alone qualified experts. I been shopping around for others across the galaxy, but its going to be years before they become acquainted with the Cradle ecosystem. In other words, I'm going to be dealing with this for the rest of my term."
I let out a long sigh. All this because that cure obsessed bastard was afraid of a few lizards.
“If it would be any help, we would be more than happy to provide some experts and staff of our own, when the time is right, of course.”
It wouldn't help in the near term, but I appreciated the offer as a gesture of sympathy.
“Any help would be more than greatly appreciated.”
We passed by the high justice building, lawyers and clerks milling about the marble steps leading to the entrances. A slight breeze had picked up, playing at my robes and exposed fur.
I took a deep breath. It felt good to get that off my chest.
The mansion wasn't too far away now.
“But enough of me venting about my own problems, how have you been holding up?”
Tarva let out her own sigh.
“Besides the situation, The Dominion has been stepping up raids on the outer colonies. From what our spies tell us, we believe they may launch a broader incursion sometime in the near future.”
The Dominion had been more aggressive on our borders recently as well. Nothing we couldn’t handle, but it was a worrying trend. Last thing we needed right now was the grays thinking they could take a bigger bite out of us.
“Have you already taken steps to prepare?”
“Kam has already ordered more forces to the region, but he’s afraid that we're spreading ourselves too thin. We move pieces one place, the grays move pieces to the other. And we can't commit to one area, less we leave another exposed. Its been quite frustrating, especially for Kam."
She started off into the distance, as if to peer at the Dominion forces gathering light years away. The governor's mansion appeared from around the corner.
“How has Kam been doing, in light of everything?”
From the way her eyes lidded, I could tell that she was worried.
“The first few paws were the worst for him. He almost blew the situation up, for a start. It looks like he’s gotten better, but I worry he’s pushing down a lot of stress.”
Blessed be the Protector, Kam almost blew up the humans. And the worst part was that actually didn’t surprise me. From the anecdotes given by Sovlin, Kam was a brilliant commander, but also twitchy at times, anxious even. Sometimes quick to jump to conclusions. It was never enough to impact his abilities, Sovlin told me, but it was an ever present undercurrent. The arrival of the humans no doubt brought those undercurrents to the surface.
“Where is Kam right now?”
Tarva gestured off back the way he came.
“I forced him to take a break for a couple of paws, for his own good. He’s probably at home right now, spending time with Kirim.”
“We’ll, tell him and Kirim that I send my best wishes. Now, more than ever, we need to be…”
She ran a paw through the tuft of her head. From the way her lids hung, I could tell that she was physically fighting back exhaustion.
Tarva was never usually like this. Only the worst Arxur incursions would bring about fatigue of this degree. And she had only been with the humans for the last couple of days.
I paused for a moment, as I regarded my good friend.
“Tarva, have you been taking care of yourself?”
The words left my mouth me even really thinking.
She turned towards me, sympathy reflected red from the sunlight in her eyes.
“Piri, I appreciate the concern. But now more than ever, I have duties to attend to. And I will attend, no matter what.”
That wasn’t an excuse I was willing to hear.
"The last thing we need right now is for you to break down. You shouldn't let your duties get in the way of your own well being."
We suddenly stopped, as Tarva placed a paw on my shoulder. She took a moment to find the right words, as her body appeared to bow.
“Piri, I honestly don't know if I have a choice."
She turned and began walking again. I couldn't stand to see a good friend like that, but she had clearly made up her mind. But I had to set aside my feelings for know. More important business needed to be attended to.
I caught up to her, and soon enough, we had arrived at the mansions entrance.
Tarva pushed open the doors, revealing the familiar looking entrance way. With the flick of my ear, I told my guards to stand and wait, as me and Tarva ascended the staircase. As they receded out of earshot, we felt comfortable finally discussing the main topic of the day.
“How many know about the humans?"
Tarva was quick on the response.
"Me, Kam, and everyone that I messaged, as far as I know."
So they were still a high level secret, good to hear.
"How long do you think we can keep them on the down-low?"
"Hopefully until were ready to reveal them."
How to reveal them would be the topic of today's meeting, regardless of my concerns over the humans character. We proceeded down the hallway towards the office door.
"Tarva, how have the humans been?"
Tarva's voice took on a reassuring tone.
"I wouldn't worry about their character. Noah and Sara have actually been quite kind."
“That's good to hear, but that's only two humans, out of possible billions. We have no clue of their species average character or intentions."
Tarva flicked an ear in agreement.
“Yes, which is why I want to arrange a meeting with their leaders at some point. Besides character determination, Noah and Sara are only scientists. Anything we agree on today won't be concrete until we run it by their actual officials."
"So what happens today will be entirely preliminary."
"Unfortunately, yes. The hope is to hash out some early plans that we can improve on later."
Given the current situation, that sounded like the best thing we could do. If anything, it made me more anxious to meet their actual leaders.
We reached the doorway of the office. Tarva laid her paws on the handle, and pushed her way through.
Among the light and decor, I saw them immediately. They seemed to have been in some sort of conversation, one cut short by our entrance. Smiles came across their faces as they turned to face me.
The taller one, with the dark skin, immediately struck me as the ‘diplomat of the duo. From the confident way he carried himself, to the way every movement seemed relaxed but deliberate, to the soft features that were both friendly and inviting. The other one, with the paler skin, seemed to be more of a scientist, with eyes that practically scanned the surroundings for knowledge. She seemed to carry a more nervous excitement compared to her partner.
The tall one approached me first, and gave a slight bow in greeting.
“You must be Piri, correct?”
His voice was smooth like a fine liquor, one which warmed you up on the inside. Definitely the diplomat of the duo.
“Piri, Prime Minister of the Gojid Union. And you must be…”
“Noah, scientist with the Odyssey Program and impromptu diplomat.”
I smiled, and turned to face who must have been Sara.
“And I’m Sara, also a scientist, and colleague of Noah.”
Her voiced carried with it the same nervous excitement as her movements, as if she still couldn’t believe any of this was happening. In some manner, I felt the same way.
Looking at them, I couldn’t help but think. These were the people that the Federation considered so dangerous as to exterminate? Give me some time to prepare, and I could fling these people around like they were made of paper mache. Sure, they had committed horrible acts against themselves in the past. But everyone had skeletons buried in their closet, whether they liked to admit it or not.
“Well, it's a pleasure to meet with both of you. But we have important business to attend to, so shall we get to that?”
Noah and Sara nodded their heads, what I learned to be a human expression of agreement.
“Yes, why don't we."
We sat in an arc in front of the holoprojector, with me and Tarva sitting on either side of the humans. Tarva had poured some drinks for me and herself, while the humans were stuck with water. Tarva still wasn't sure if Venlil food was safe for humans to eat, so she wasn't taking any chances. Then again, I doubt they would enjoy what she had poured for us. Silfruit Cider, 85 percent. I could barely stand Skalgan liquor myself, so I could only imagine how the humans would react to what was basically antiseptic.
With a flick of the ear, Tarva told me it was time to begin. I had thrown together a quick presentation, along with memorizing a script. Having sent it over to Tarva, I hoped it would be enough to give the humans the proper rundown on everything.
“Noah and Sara, I must thank you for your kindness and understanding. I came here today to help discuss how best to introduce humanity to the galaxy. As you may already know, humanity has had a turbulent history with the Federation, and your reemergence will no doubt cause waves. The hope is that those waves rise to nothing more than ripples."
The duo nodded in agreement. Sara appeared to have what looked like a primitive holopad in her hands, one that she began typing on. Noah clasped his slender digits together in rapt attention.
Tarva clicked a remote, bringing the projector to life. A map of the galactic arm displayed itself in front of us.
“First, I think its important to give a brief rundown on the galactic situation. Starting with the Federation.”
Tarva clicked the button again. A large portion of the map was highlighted in a ocean blue. The logo of the Federation appeared in the center, a three pointed cross overlain by a triangle. At each point of the triangle was text, written in the language of one of the three founding species. Truth, in Kolshian, Knowledge, in Farsul, and Honor, in Krakotl.
“The Federation is undoubtedly the most powerful faction in the galactic arm right now. With three hundred member species, they account for ninety nine percent of the known galaxy's population. But the Federation is not a homogeneous union, and is in fact divided amongst several power blocs. Each one will have a different reaction to humanity, reactions which will determine our approach going forward."
Another click. A section occupying the center of the Federation turned a baby blue.
“The ‘Cured’, comprising forty four of the Federation's oldest members, are going to be the staunchest opponents to your integration into the galaxy. They are extremely dogmatic, and unlikely to be swayed from their ‘anti-predator’ positions.”
Noah raised his hand. “Tarva mentioned them before, so I am just wondering, why do they call themselves the ‘Cured’?"
Tarva spoke up.
“The reasons why are too long to delve into right now. The short answer is old Federation doctrine, one which the Venlil here helped to end.”
'Doctrine' was definitely one way to describe what happened. If I was in less polite company, I would have called it 'fuckery'.
The duo stole a glance at the painting hung behind them, a flash of understanding crossing their faces.
“Understood, continue on.”
I picked up where I left off. “It would be a blessing from the Protector herself if even one of the ‘Cured’ was convinced of humanity's good intentions. In other words, don’t expect much from them.”
“So their the stubborn ones…” Sara spoke as she typed away.
“Definitely one way to describe them.” I would call them insane, but that was just another one of my opinions.
“Next,” I continued, “we have the neutrals.”
The vast majority of Federation spaced became colored a dark blue.
“The neutrals comprise the majority of the Federations members. Neutral, in the sense that they aren’t fully immersed in the propaganda espoused by the 'Cured', but are not fully convinced of our point of view either.”
“In other words, they can be swayed to our position.” Noah noted.
“Exactly. We should primarily target the neutrals when presenting your case to the Federation. The Cured have their voice, but the neutrals have their numbers. And when it comes down to the vote, numbers matter.”
I gave an ear flick Tarva, telling her to advance the presentation.
“Next, we have the Duerten Shield.”
A much smaller portion of the map glowed a garish red. Their symbol, Two grasped wings laid upon a wreath wrapped shield, beamed brightly from their territory.
“The Shield is a small bloc led by the Duerten, the other avian species of the Federation. They follow an ideology of mutual collectivism, and generally prefer to remain isolated from the wider affairs of the galaxy. They were among the few that voted against the extermination of humanity originally, so you may find some support there.”
Sara looked up from her pad. “At this point, we'll be happy to take support anywhere we can find it."
Another click, resulting in a tiny portion of the map turning green. This territory had no symbol.
“Then there’s us, the Sapient Coalition. Because we are aligned against the more radical politics of the Cured, I expect the Coalition to quickly rally behind you."
Even as I said that, I still wasn’t sure whether allying with humanity was the proper route yet. If Noah and Sara were any indication, humanity came to the galaxy with nothing but peaceful intentions. But they were only two humans, out of possible billions. That meeting with their leaders could not come fast enough.
“And finally, there's the Dominion.”
An area lying just outside the Federation turned a deep shade of Crimson. The logo of the Dominion, six angular claw marks arranged in a pyramid shape, manifested in the center.
“The Dominion has been at war with the Federation for generations now. Their ideology is one that sees so called ‘prey’ species as inherently inferior to ‘predators’, whom the Arxur proudly call themselves. How they react to you depends entirely on how they see you as a ‘predator race’.”
Given their general appearance, and their willingness to collaborate with ‘prey species’ like us, I could imagine the Dominion not welcoming humanity with open arms.
Noah and Sara seemed to take a moment to collect their thoughts. They engaged in a hushed conversation, as Sara showed Noah her notes. After, Noah was the one to speak.
“In all honesty, this doesn’t seem to bad. It appears that the majority of the Federation will be at least open to hearing our position. And given our reputation, that's the best we can hope for right now.”
It was good to see they were optimistic. And regardless of their character, integrating humanity into the galactic fold was now our primary concern. Optimism could only help our chances going forward.
“Its good to see that your optimistic, but that still leaves us the question of how to go about your peoples integration. Tarva, I believe you had already discussed some ideas with them?”
Tarva turned the projector off as she turned to face us directly.
“Yes we did. When it comes time to present humanities case to the Federation, I believe our best strategy is honesty. Humanities reputation has been tainted by the label of 'predator'. And 'predators', more than anything, are known to be deceivers. So when humanity goes up to that podium, the Federation will expect them to lie, to deny and sanitize their past."
I immediately saw the angle she was going with here.
“So then plan is to not lie. Be upfront about your people's past, and show the galaxy how you’ve grown.”
Noah agreed. “Exactly. It helps that we gain nothing from lying either.”
Not that telling the truth would convince the Cured. They would accuse humanity of lying no matter what they said. This plan was more for the neutrals, and in their case, I could imagine it working. Their primary concerns were not those of dogma, so being honest would hopefully do nothing but earn their favor.
Tarva continued.
“But there's another plan we been formulating, and its why I'm glad your here now Piri to discuss. We were thinking of conducting a limited exchange program.”
An exchange program? I could see the merit to the idea.
Tarva was more than glad to.
“We take and vet a small number of people from across the Coalition, and pair them up with similarly chosen humans. We record their interactions, and present them to the Federation. If all goes well, we can use the positive experiences of the program to demonstrate humanities good will to the galaxy."
It was certainly a good idea on paper, yet one that I was not fully on board with yet. I had a few questions.
“Interesting. What would the logistics of this operation be like?”
“We looked into conducting it on a station out near the edge of our space, a pleasure resort. The cover would be a raffle for an all expenses paid resort stay, with our exchange participants being the lucky winners. Using pleasure liners, we ship the participants out to the resort, where they will meet up with their human partners. Internet access would be cut off, meaning no info coming in or out."
So they had put thought into the plan, but I could still see a few issues, especially surrounding the humans.
“How would the humans be brought into the resort?”
“Slowly. We can’t risk using large ships to transport them back and forth. So we would probably have to use small shuttles, and scatter the trips over a long period of time. We also thought of flinging a survey satellite in the direction of earth, for some cover as to why shuttles keep going out in that direction. We could say they are maintenance crews."
Tarva paused for a moment.
"I will admit, that part needs work, but it can be ironed out in time."
That portion definitely needed work. It would still be suspicious looking if multiple shuttles kept going to the same satellite over a short time period. Hopefully, they could figure out a better solution. But I still had one more question.
“Assuming this goes through, how do you plan on keeping the human presence at the resort a secret?”
Noah spoke up this time.
“I'm glad you asked. We discussed putting in place a rule for the program, stating that humans cannot be refereed to as humans. Instead, they can only be called 'Gaians'."
“Yes. Its derived from the name of an ancient human god, the personification of our home-world. Unless someone does some really deep digging, the terms true meaning should be completely lost on any outside observer. And even if they did find out, they had no reason to suspect the ‘Gaians’ to be humans. As far as the galaxy knows, humans are still dead and buried."
Gaians. While it didn't roll of the tongue as well as 'human' did, it didn't need to.
“So Piri, what do you think?”
All eyes in the room turned on me, as I began to consider the plan.
I was still skeptical of the idea, but then again, it was all preliminary. Fine details had yet to be defined by our allies, and the humans themselves. And the positive outcomes of an exchange program could be very beneficial to humanities case. And if we wanted things to go down smoothly, we needed every advantage we could get. I had made my decision.
“I’m open to the idea, but we need to hack out the details with everyone else first. Most importantly, we need to ensure that this program will be airtight. If word gets out that the Coalition is flirting with humanity in secret, the consequence would no doubt be rather dire.”
Tarva and the humans nodded in agreement. It seemed that she had begun to pick up on their body language.
“Of course, this is all just preliminary. But I’m glad to see you onboard with the idea.”
Tarva stood up, and moved behind over to her desk. From there, she pulled out two massive binders, with a pair of holopads to boot.
“When you two eventually return to Earth, make sure to bring these with you. Or send the information in back. As long as this information gets to your leaders in some manner."
The two humans stood up and walked over to the desk. Noah picked up the binder, judging the weight in his hands, while Sara began to fiddle with the pad.
“Contained in these are descriptions of the history and characteristics of every known species in the galaxy. It is paramount that this information reaches your leaders, along with what you learned today. The last thing we need is for your government to go into this whole mess blind.”
“Of course.” Noah stated, as he began to flip through the pages. I saw Sara eyes widen to the size of dinner plates as she seemed to fully comprehend the vast wealth of information now in her hands.
As the two humans regarded their gifts, Tarva beckoned me over to the side of the room.
"Piri, good job today. I was a bit worried about you coming here in person, but it worked out pretty well."
"Thank you, I much rather prefer talking to our new arrivals in person rather than through a screen."
But thanking me was not the reason why she took me off to the side.
“About the exchange program..” she began in a hushed tone, “...there was another idea I had surrounding that.”
“What idea?” I didn’t like the fact that she seemed to want to hide it from the humans.
“It might sound crazy, and it probably is crazy, but here me out. Assuming we go through with it, I want to get a small number of guild exterminators on the list.”
I was taken aback for a second. Guild exterminators!? That seemed insane, no, it was insane. Maybe the exhaustion had finally gotten to Tarva's head.
“Tarva, the whole program would rely on interactions between the partners going well, and you want to put guild exterminators on the roll cal? You know what they're like. Imagine if one of them goes crazy, and kills their partner. Or what if one of them manages to escape, and leak humanities existence to the rest of the galaxy?"
Guild exterminators were essentially the Federations intergalactic police force. Every member species was required to have a guild, and in many ways they represented the vanguard of the Core worlds ideological war against 'predators'. To have one of them be partnered up with a human would be about as reasonable as asking a Gojid to take a afternoon walk through a Roht den.
Tarva took a deep breath as she recollected herself.
“I know it sounds insane, but I couldn't help but imagine the possibilities. Think of the victory lap we could run if we could convince an exterminator, of all people, of humanities good nature?”
I could imagine that lap, and it would be very big. Guild exterminators could be some crazy bastards, so convincing one to our position would be no small victory in it of itself. But there were too many risks involved, ones that I was not willing to take. But the glint in Tarva's eyes told me there was no changing her mind.
“If you do do this, make sure you vet the exterminator first. Last thing we need is for one of them to rip their partners throat out on first contact. And I'm letting you know now, I won't be sending any exterminators into the program."
She flicked her ears in understanding. "I never asked you to send any exterminators. If anything, I'll only be pulling ones off of Skalga. Probably will generate less suspicion, anyways."
It was still an insane idea, but there was nothing I could do to stop her. And there was an understanding that if something went wrong, Tarva couldn't say nobody warned her. She began to turn away, back towards the humans.
"Lets get back-"
Tarva stiffened in surprise as I placed my paw on her shoulder. I slowly spun her around to face me.
Looking at her closely, her exhaustion was more evident than every. Her eyelids barely remained suspended, and rivers of orange snaked across her eyes. More than anything, she was tired. And it only had been a couple of days. She had dedicated herself to these people she barely knew, and it already reduced her to this.
I squeezed her should tighter, as my face screwed slightly in sympathy. I stared directly into her eyes.
"Tarva, you need to take care of yourself."
"Piri, I already told you-"
"I don't care. I don't care if you feel you have duties to these humans. Because unless you take a moment for yourself, you'll soon find yourself unable to preform those duties. So if not for your sake, do it for theirs, and for mine."
Tarva broke my gaze as she considered my words. She took a deep breath.
“Your a good friend, Piri.” She stepped away, letting my paw slip off her shoulder.
As she went over to talk to the humans, I found myself looking at the Protector pendant that hung from my neck. I wasn't a woman of the faith, it was a formality that came with the role I had chosen. Yet in times of strife, I often found myself calling to her name for guidance. Goddess, the All Mother, Kay-ut, the Protector.
As I looked upon Tarva, seeing what this newfound dedication to these people she barely knew was doing to my good friend, I couldn't help but call on her guidance.
Goddess, what has she gotten herself into?
And looking upon Noah and Sara, I could on marvel at well they seemed to have taken things. Maybe it was for the better that first contact was done by scientists, rather than politicians. If my woes were any indication, politicians were fucking idiots. I hoped that I, Tarva and whichever leaders laid waiting back on Earth weren't among those idiots.
But thinking back to Earth, to the humans leaders, the 'Gaians', left me with one other question on my mind:
How would they react?
l Prologue l Previous l Next l
submitted by United_Patriots to NatureofPredators [link] [comments]

2023.12.05 12:51 CreditMission Ash and Sweat 5

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Razur, Arxur, Hospital patient
My one lifeline was the humans, and I attacked them. I couldn’t even die an arxur. Instead, I lay here chained to my bed, an armed guard forever on watch. Humans came in, many had things to say, but it was of little meaning. Rehabilitation was mentioned, but why? To be a better slave? Please, just leave me to rot.
They never resorted to physical violence, but I could tell they were unhappy with me. Annoyed at my lack of response they resorted to mental stimulation. I was wheeled to a room under increased guard, forced to watch the exploits of real arxur in the throes of the hunt. I tried not to think, but the feeling of shame and disgust could not be suppressed. A stark reminder of how far I had fallen, now just a wasting pile of meat and bones, doomed to perish at the whims of these prey lovers. Every time I attempted to avert my eyes, a human was quick to tap my shoulder, commanding me to continue to observe. Thankfully it didn’t last long, and I was wheeled back to my room to once again attempt to embrace nothingness as they decided my fate. At some point a sharp knock on my door forced me to acknowledge reality once more.
“You’ve got a visitor,” my guard informed through a cracked door. Who's coming to badger me now? Am I not broken enough?
My eyes returned back to my bed, studying the flattened sheet emphasising my loss.
“It's a venlil, do you want me to let them in?”
“Do I have a choice?” I spat. Was I being offered to the human’s real ally?
“This is not an official visit, they allegedly want to see you, but the choice is yours.”
Okay, that did pique my interest. Why would a venlil go out of their way?
“Send them in,” I grumbled. The guard spoke quietly to the mystery guest and opened the door, stepping to the side to let them through.
The venlil walked in with a steady pace, though their body was tense. Their fur was a uniform grey, contrasting against the shades of their extremities and face. He was shaved close on the left side of his head, a healing wound visible. They were a completely different colour from when I last saw them and their scent was hiding amongst that of soap, but I knew who they were. They spoke in the familiar whistle of a venlil, the speaker next to me translating.
“G-good waking. How goes your healing.” I grunted in response, flicking my gaze to my loss.
Their right ear dropped to their head, their left unmoving.
“I’m sorry for your loss.”
“What brings you here venlil? Don’t you hate my kind?” The venlil paused, eyeing me with their side eye.
“Are you going to attack me?”
“Don’t be stupid.”
They appeared to come to a decision, moving to the side of my bed and hopping onto the painfully vacant space on the left foot.
“Why are you here venlil?” I repeated with a bit more force.
“I wanted to ask you some questions.” Oh, an interrogation. I let my head flop back into my pillow. “A lot of my herd say I shouldn’t have helped you. I want to prove them wrong.”
“Well, sorry to disappoint.”
“Aren’t you an ally now? You helped humans.” I raised up my restrained arm as high as I could, about a claw from the bed rail.
“Not anymore,” I grumbled. Their right ear depressed again.
“A-are you going to hunt us again?” I averted my gaze in disinterest.
“No. I’m a prisoner of humans. My fate is theirs to decide.”
“But when they release you.” I let out a snort.
“They’re not going to release me. I attacked a nurse, they’re at war with my people, and what good could I offer them anyway. They either send me back or kill me themselves. My fate is sealed.” The venlil bristled at the revelation of my attack but remained. Their eye and ear focused on me.
“Do you regret it?” What?
“Do you regret attacking them?” I closed my eyes.
“Yes. They’ve been nothing but accommodating. It was foolish. But it is done.”
“Have you tried to apologise?”
“Worthless,” I snorted.
“But have you tried?”
“What good would that do venlil? They love you prey, not us. I’m done!”
The venlil flinched slightly as my voice raised in volume. The human guard’s eyes interrogated me, but they didn’t react further. What am I even doing? I tried to relax from the tension that had crept into my chest and limbs. I tire of this.
“So, you are just waiting to die?” This venlil. I should have eaten them when I had the chance. I refuse to validate that with a response. Their tail began slowly thumping the bed.
“I don’t believe you are evil; you know.” They couldn't go a minute without talking could they.
“I think there’s good in you.”
“Pah, good in me? I was a noble soldier of the dominion, servant of my clan and my home. I don’t need some leaf licker telling me I’m good,” I spat. “I served well. Is that not good? Not enough apparently.” The venlil shrunk back.
“Sorry, I misspoke,” they whispered before becoming quiet. Damn right they did. Satisfied I had made my point, I relaxed and closed my eyes. They should leave if I ignore them, then I can have my peace.
They weren't leaving. Cracking my eyes open I spied them as they fiddled with an item in their paws, though I couldn't see what it was. The human guard likewise fiddled with their phone, having brought a chair into the room.
The venlil's ear locked onto me, followed by their eye as they returned their item to their satchel before sitting up straighter.
“D-do you want to go outside?” Oh? I pulled my arm up, yanking my restraint against the bed rail to remind him of my position.
“He can be moved right?” his ear directed to the guard.
“I can accompany him outside, but you’ll need to push him. Have to keep my hands free.” The human waved his pale paws at shoulder height in demonstration. The venlil flicked his working ear before hopping from the bed and out the room, returning shortly with a wheeled chair. The guard approached, unlocking the restraint from the bedrail and lowering it before stepping back, allowing the venlil to manoeuvre the chair next to the bed. I relished the privilege of additional movement for my arms, but I didn’t really want to leave my bed. Even if the mattress had started to feel uncomfortable over the past days. And the increasing agitation in my limbs. And the prickling under my scales… Fine!
I tried to sit myself up, but that was apparently too high a hurdle. The venlil quickly fumbled with a remote, causing the bed to raise my torso. With trembling paws, they assisted me as I turned to the side of the bed. First getting one leg hanging over, then another half. I hadn’t looked at it directly in days. The naked dressing on the limb that was unmistakably mine caused my stomach to drop once again. I squeezed my wet eyes shut with the effort of moving, taking a moment before planting my remaining foot on the floor. With one arm on the bed, the other on the chair for support, I managed to lift myself just enough to pivot and fall into the chair. It was not made for me.
Trying to place my tail around me in a fashion that was remotely comfortable, I sat hunched forward, steadying myself with a small foot platform to prevent tumbling out. The venlil held part of my wrist restraint in his paw, ear on the human who nonchalantly waved a hand.
“Don’t worry about it. You’re not going to attack anyone right, croc?”
“No,” I mumbled. The venlil deftly manoeuvre me out of the room, my bulk posing little problem despite their short stature. As I was wheeled down the hall, I couldn’t help but look in the other rooms as I passed. Each one filled with multiple human patients in various states of injury. Some humans in gowns ambled through the halls, others in uniform colours walked with more purpose. They all tended to give me as wide a berth as space permitted. Despite my searching, on the entire journey to the exit I didn’t spot a single arxur. I was alone here.
Moving through some double glass doors and into the outside air resulted in an assault of the senses. The sun was high and strong, causing my eyes to snap shut as my pupils tried to contract, almost groaning under the sudden effort required of them. But upon shutting my eyes, the greatest of gifts came carried by the warm, gentle breeze. Oh, the smell, the scents. I couldn’t help but breathe in and in, only halting when my lungs reached capacity. My head swivelled trying to catch them all. Unlike the dust of the battered city, the dirt surrounding us seemed alive. From the trees blew floral scents of their flowers with their bark and leaves contributing sharp, earthy notes. There were accents of small animals in the branches and scrub, an undercurrent of moisture from a nearby creek. They all washed over me, warming me like the sun on my scales which had moved from antagonist to welcoming.
The warmth subsided as we moved into shade, allowing me to open my eyes and take in the view of the scraggly trees and shrubs which populated the bushland surrounding the hospital. A surprising amount of it was untamed, quite the contrast to any fed planet I had the experience of visiting. The venlil had perched themselves upon a bench to my left, the human standing to my right. They both seemed content to observe the scenery before us, a sentiment I fully understood. It was an alien place.
The warbling of a black and white bird caught my ear, my neck craning to bring it into view as it sat high above in the trees, only for my attention to be dragged to some brown-grey movement in the bush. Is that some disfigured yotul? An odd bipedal creature was foraging, its small head sniffing around as it mobilised using its stubby forearms for support. Nah, too small, proportions wrong. It continued to dig and prod, seemingly uncaring for the predators that had built their structures around it. And the one eyeing it now.
The desire to hunt surprised me. Like a lost warmth I thought long abandoned. Nevertheless, I shook my head to rid myself of it. My life was without a doubt comfortable. Regardless of the fate the humans decided for me, it would not be aided by the spectacle of a bloodied creature hanging from my maw. I’m not stupid. Instead, a sigh escaped me as I pondered my strange predicament once more. What was I even meant to think or feel at the moment? This planet has just been one big question mark after the other and I had completely lost reference. The biggest one was just sitting beside me, simply sharing the view. I could only shake my head as his presence was like a stone under scale.
"What is it that you want venlil?" I finally asked. His ear flicked slightly.
"I told you, I wanted to make sure I had done the right thing."
I snorted.
"Which has become clear, and yet you remain."
The venlil remained silent, retrieving the previous item from his satchel and continuing to fiddle with it. This time I caught a glimpse of what appeared to be some ornament consisting of wood and fur matching theirs. Though it also contained a streak of dark black.
" you.” Their voice was soft as they focused on the item before their eye and ear flicked pointedly to me.
“I want to help you,” they repeated, stronger.
“You’re alone.”
“Such is my burden.”
“No!” Their eye and ear locked on me as they seemed to startle themself with their outburst.
“No.” He repeated, returning his attention back to his fiddling. “Everyone says you’re a monster, you deserved to die. That I was a fool for not running from you.” Well, that seemed pretty typical of prey.
“Why did you help me then?”
“I… I was just doing my job. It’s what medics are meant to do. Save people.” Well I won't argue his actions weren't noble. Though that didn’t explain his current company. Maybe, like humans, prey expect a higher standard of care. Granted, I never saw how they acted post stampede.
“Do you know what arxur are to us?” They continued after a moment. “You’re everything we fear. Monsters, child eaters, viscous, incapable of mercy. That’s what we were told. That’s what you are.” I listened in silence, staring out at the view before me, absently trying to spy the mini yotul again. His accusations made sense; fear was a very effective weapon after all.
“You don’t show restraint, you don’t have allies, and you would never leave some prey alive…Yet here I am.”
“You thought I’d eat you?”
“I thought you’d glass us, turn us into cattle! Not help.”
“We wanted allies. We could put the humans in our debt.” It was hardly an act of charity.
“But you did help. Even when I was defenceless and alone…you helped.” I sighed.
“Like you, I was following orders. We need to befriend the humans, and that extends to their allies. It was nothing personal.” The venlil’s head dropped slightly, their ear returning to a neutral position.
“You tried to comfort me,” he almost whispered. I don’t remember doing that. “I was terrified, surrounded by my nightmares and you…you tried to comfort me. And for a terrifying moment it almost worked.” His ear flicked back to me.
“I-it just proves that you’re not just monsters. At least you don’t have to be. I don’t want you to be.” He returned to fiddling with the item in his paws before suddenly standing and moving in front of me, taking up my vision.
“Are you a monster? Are you for some star forsaken reason just toying with me?” His stance was resolute, his arms spread slightly to expand his profile though he was still shaking. My tongue shot out, licking my lips and causing the poor creature to flinch, but like always, he remained. I snorted a chuckle as I looked away. One strange venlil.
“I have no desire to harm you. You’ve shown your honour.”
“And the rest of us?”
“I share no love for your kind, venlil. But I don’t eat sapients. You’ve proven your people’s merit.”
He twitched. Something there must have caught him off guard. Better not mention how I’ll miss the taste though…
“Then, let me help you,” his eye locked onto mine.
“Why are you doing this to yourself? I can smell your fear.” He thrust the item he was holding into my face. It was the ring of dark, polished wood bisected with a small beam on which grey and black fur was intertwined. I could catch his scent off it, but the other’s was long gone.
“I can’t abandon you! I won’t,” his voice rose in volume. “I’m proud I saved you. If you’re not a monster, let me help prove that. If you’re all alone? Let me try to accept you. Please. Please let me help you.” His chest moved notably as he breathed heavily, awaiting my response.
I closed my eyes to shut him out. The thought of being coddled by a venlil was just too absurd for me to process. This whole situation was stupid to the point I just wanted to run. But what was I to do? I wasn’t an arxur anymore. Just some cripple. What use was this damn pride anyway. Ugh.
Never in my life had I felt this oppressing sense of hopelessness. To have such little control over my own fate. I have well and truly been defeated.
And yet, here I sat in the warm sun, with some prey offering me their paw. The prophet has well and truly forsaken me.
Opening my eyes, the venlil was still in front of me, not backing down. I just sighed.
“What’s your name venlil?”
“I am Razur, arxur fallen. Do as you will.” His ear just flicked before he returned to beside me. His gaze fell to the floor as he started to shiver, somewhat violently.
“Regrets?” I scoffed. His ear flicked back as his breathing started to accelerate.
“I’ll be okay…” he choked, panting. “…I’m okay…” He was panicking. He’d run in a second, I’ve seen it before. Venlil could be quite hard to catch in this state, so you had to grab ‘em before their brain decided to act. I quickly reached out, grasping his shoulder firmly, a glassy eye locking on me.
“I’m not going to hurt you. Don’t let yourself run.”
“I’m not going to run, I promised,” he spat out between gasps. He brought his knees up to his chest, his tail wrapping around them. The human came around and crouched in front of him.
“You’re all right mate. You’re safe.”
I kept a firm grip as he continued to shake, taking care not to let my claws anywhere near his skin. His eye locked on mine, as he continued to breathe heavily. True to his word, he did not run, his tremors gradually reducing in strength. Satisfied he was in control I released him, relaxing back in my chair.
“Sorry,” he eventually squeaked. “Thank you.”
“Freaking only gets you killed,” I grumbled.
“I've made the right decision.” He still shook gently.
“You're terrified.”
“You're an Arxur. But you still attempt to comfort me. I was right.”
And then he turned away from me, seeming to just focus on the scenery.
“I was right,” he whispered again. His tail began to sway gently as his ear sat neutral. Under the scrutiny of a former arxur, this venlil started to relax.
Yep, I truly have fallen.
We just sat for a while, the venlil no longer feeling the need to speak though I kept them in my periphery. After some time, we returned to my room, the venlil…Kirek helped me into my bed before giving me a final ear flick as he wheeled the chair away. The guard moved to sit outside, leaving me finally to some calming solitude, and my thoughts.
They grated in my head as if lacking lubrication. I had given myself up as lost, but now agonising hope was forcing its way in, battering my defence. My last bit of pride attempted to refute it, to stay loyal to the dominion, to my values, to my life. Unfortunately, it was eroded by one very unpleasant realisation.
Have I just submitted to a venlil?
Truly a sin no true arxur could overlook or forgive.
I was lost.
And yet…
Fumbling, I found the button to summon a human, pressing it without delay as I grasped at the momentum this day brought. A soft ding was heard indicating the summon and it wasn’t long before a nurse entered, the one who still had a bandaged arm from my outburst. Her commitment to me despite my failures only strengthened my resolve.
“Hope you enjoyed your visitor Razur, anything I can do for you?”
“I would like rehabilitation.” A small snarl arose on her face.
“Feeling a little better then? That’s great news. I’ll log the request and you should be put in touch with a therapist hopefully in the next day or two. We’ll meet ‘em together so don’t stress about that. Anything else?”
I pondered, there was an odd idea in my head, but I wasn’t sure if it would be appreciated. Still, no harm in trying. I should probably start showing some gratitude.
“Do you still have my leg?”
“We have kept it for study, but you may request it back if you have any customs you wish to pursue.”
“I would like to see it.”
‘Very well. I’ll track it down. I’m glad you're doing better. Had us worried for a moment there. You’ll get through this.” She held her fist out, extending her lone thumb.
I nodded my head.
“I will.”

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submitted by CreditMission to NatureofPredators [link] [comments]

2023.12.05 12:09 Mister91Crow The Wake

Timmy hugged Kayla from behind, wrapping his arms around her waist. "Come on, everyone's probably waiting for us inside," he said as he released her and began walking towards the entrance of the funeral home. Timmy was in his twenties, with brown hair, blue eyes, and a slim, average height build. Kayla was the same age as him, but much shorter with long brown hair and hazel eyes. They had met in their sophomore year of high school and had been dating ever since. Timmy proposed to her, and they got married a year after graduation. Their life had been perfect so far, thanks to Kayla's determination to wait to have children.
Three days ago their friend Pamela had been in a car accident. She'd been driving home from work after a late night of having to stay over to do paperwork. At an intersection a drunk driver had ran the red light and hit her directly in the driver side door at sixty-five miles per hour. Pamela was rushed to the hospital, but died shortly afterwards.
It was a chilly evening in November. Kayla caught up to Timmy and looped her arm around his. They walked up the stairs together, and he held the door open for her. Upon entering, they noticed their friends Kenny and Silas standing in the reception area. Silas was tall with an average build, black hair, and brown eyes. Kenny was of average height and a bit heavier with brown hair and green eyes. "Hey, guys." Timmy said. Both Silas and Kenny raised their heads and smiled. "Hey. You two doing alright?" Silas asked. Kayla grabbed Timmy's hand and squeezed tightly. "Yeah..." she replied. "I just can't believe she's gone. I can only imagine how upset Ron is." Silas walked up beside Kenny and put his hand on his shoulder. "I haven't seen him yet. Kenny called him earlier to see if he needed a ride." Silas said, as Kenny suddenly had a grim look on his face. "He said he was alright," Kenny spoke up, "but didn't sound like he was taking it very well. He said he would be here, though."
Timmy looked around at the rest of the people in the room. He didn't recognize anyone. His eyes stopped at the corner near the entrance to the bathrooms. A small child was standing there staring at him, a little girl. She looked to be about five or six years old, and was wearing an old ragged dress that was torn in areas. Suddenly the main door opened, and a tall man walked inside. He had blonde hair and blue eyes, and looked like he never missed a day at the gym. "Hey, Ron. How you holding up?" Kayla asked the man. Ron walked up beside them and put his hands in his pockets. "I'm alright." He said. Kayla reached out and hugged him. "Come on, let's go say our goodbyes."
Everyone knew that Ron had the biggest crush on Pamela. He was normally rough around the edges and played mister tough guy, but as soon as Pam entered the room he'd turn as soft as a pillow.
Pamela appeared peaceful in her casket. The dimly lit room matched the scene perfectly, and the coffin spray was a beautiful mix of red, yellow, and orange.
Kenny approached Ron, who looked on the verge of tears, and placed a comforting hand on his shoulder. Ron just stood there with his hands in his pockets, staring at Pamela's lifeless body. Silas leaned in closely to whisper in Timmy's ear. "Have you noticed that most of her family has left already? It's only been about thirty minutes." Timmy shifted his weight and nodded in agreement. "You're right, that is pretty strange." Timmy's gaze darted around the room until it landed on a little boy standing in the corner, just past the door. The boy was dressed in a torn dark shirt and pants so filthy that it was difficult to determine their color, let alone if they were blue jeans. "Hey," Timmy said, pointing towards the corner. "Do you see that kid over there?" Silas turned to look, but he didn't see anything. The boy was gone. "Where? I don't see anything." Timmy had looked away to try and get Kayla's attention. When he turned his gaze back to the corner, he noticed the boy was missing. "He...where did he go? He was just there a second ago." He looked around the room, but there was no sign of the boy anywhere. Silas frowned. "Are you okay, man?" he asked. Timmy let out a sigh. "I guess. I'm gonna go downstairs and get a water." He walked over to Kayla. "Hey, I'm gonna go get something to drink. Do you want anything?" he asked. "I'm fine for now, thanks, babe." She gave him a quick kiss.
Timmy walked down the ramp to the downstairs lounge area and was surprised to find that the room was empty. He walked over to the vending machine and inserted a dollar bill to purchase a can of coke. As he bent down to pick up the can, he noticed a movement in his peripheral vision. Turning his head, he saw a little girl by the door that led to the back entrance. She was different from the girl he had seen earlier, a year or so younger, and was holding her arms tightly around her body. Timmy greeted the girl, but she didn't respond and just stared at him. He then noticed a strange black mark on her arm as he asked if she was okay and if she knew where her parents were. The girl turned and limped away from him through the doorway, and Timmy followed her. As he passed through the doorway and turned right, a door down the hall slammed shut, revealing the label "Morgue" above it. Feeling confused and uneasy, Timmy approached the door and slowly opened it. It creaked as he stepped inside and descended the stairs.
Silas turned to face Kayla. "Something doesn't seem right. Where is everyone?" Kayla shrugged. "I dunno. I was thinking the same thing. Maybe they are all in the reception area?" "Yeah, maybe." Silas nodded. He turned and started walking towards the door, but stopped. In front of the door were four children, three boys and one girl. Each of them had their heads facing the ground. "Umm... Kayla, are you seeing this?" Silas stammered. Kayla approached him with slow steps. "Hey," she said, "are you kids..." As Kayla stood next to Silas, they saw the children suddenly raise their hands and start pointing at them. The children's movements seemed mechanical, almost like puppets. Ron turned his head to see what was happening. "Whats with all the kids?" He said, wiping his eyes. The group was startled as the children began to approach them in a strange, jerky way, still pointing their fingers towards them. "Oh hell no," Silas exclaimed, turning and rushing towards the other door in the room which was fortunately closer. Ron and Kayla quickly followed him, urging Kenny to hurry up. However, Kenny tripped over a chair and fell to the ground, grunting as he tried to crawl towards the doorway. Kayla turned around and saw that the children were now in the middle of the room. Their mouths were open impossibly wide, stretching down so far that the skin between their lips was splitting. Their eyes were solid black and they had black veins running through their faces. She saw one of the children grab Kenny's foot as he was crawling towards the doorway. "Kenny!" She shouted. Kenny rolled over onto his back and found himself staring into the most terrifying eyes he had ever seen. The child's eyes were completely black and empty, and Kenny felt paralyzed with fear. He desperately tried to move and kick at the child, but he couldn't even budge. He stared into the endless voids that were the child's eyes, and suddenly, a mixture of dread and comfort overwhelmed him. It was the most terrible and yet comforting feeling he had ever experienced. He felt his consciousness slipping away, as if his soul was being sucked into the child's eyes. The children were surrounding Kenny. They were all reaching their arms out for him, inches from his face. Kayla watched as Ron and Silas ran back into the room, yelling at Kenny and the children. Just as they reached Kenny, however, three of the children snapped their heads towards them, extending their hands. Silas and Ron were both blasted out of the room by an unseen force and tumbled into the reception area. Kayla let out a loud scream as she jumped out of the way, barely missing Ron who was flying towards her. She quickly rushed to the door, but it slammed shut right before her. "I can't open it!" she yelled while shaking the door handle frantically. Ron and Silas groaned as they struggled to get up from the floor. Ron then rushed to Kayla's side and began forcefully pushing against the door with his shoulder. "I'll try the other door!" Silas yelled as he ran to the other side of the room. But to his surprise, that door was also locked. "What the hell?" he exclaimed in frustration. Ron stopped trying to break the door and put his ear against it. He could hear what he assumed to be Kenny making gurgling sounds for a few seconds, and then everything went silent. After a few moments of silence, Ron straightened up and stepped away from the door. "What the hell just happened?" he asked. Silas started walking towards Kayla and Ron. As soon as he approached the door, there was a clicking sound and the door cracked open. Kayla moved closer to Silas as Ron picked up a vase from a nearby table. "Ron, please be careful," she warned him as he peeked through the door. "What the..." Ron started, before opening the door fully. "Where did they go?" Silas approached the doorway and looked inside. "Kenny? Kenny, are you in there?" He walked into the room to where Kenny had been just moments ago. There was now a large black stain on the red carpet where Kenny had been. "Where did he go?" Silas asked, moving closer to examine the stain. Kayla and Ron entered the room and stood next to Silas. "What is that?" Kayla asked. Ron knelt down and examined the stain. "This doesn't make any sense..." he said. Silas walked back to the doorway. "Let's find Timmy and get out of here," he said, stepping out of the room. Kayla and Ron exited the doorway and walked down the hall to the reception desk. "Hello?" Kayla called out. "Is anyone here?" Ron tried the door handle to the reception office, but the knob wouldn't turn. "It's locked," he scoffed. Kayla took out her phone and dialed Timmy's number. Meanwhile, Silas walked to the top of the ramp and looked down. "I don't see or hear him." He said. Kayla suddenly shot her head forwards. "Timmy, where are you? Something happened to Kenny!" Ron, who was nearby, walked over to her and leaned against the reception counter. Kayla looked at her phone screen, then held it back to her ear. "Timmy? Timmy? Hello?" Ron raised an eyebrow. "Well, where is he?" Kayla, confused, looked down at her phone as she replied. "He followed a kid into the morgue because she looked hurt. But then the call got disconnected. I tried calling him back, but my phone suddenly has no service." Silas and Ron both took out their phones from their pockets and checked them. "I don't have service either," Ron said. "Neither do I," Silas confirmed. Suddenly, a popping sound caught Kayla's attention, and she turned around to see the main entrance doors. There stood a group of puppet-like children, all with their heads facing down towards the floor. Kayla let out a loud scream, and she bumped into Silas, who started backing away towards the ramp leading to the downstairs area. "I think we should find Timmy and get out of here," Silas said softly. The three of them started moving quickly down the ramp, then hurried to the downstairs lounge area and shut the door behind them.
"I think the door to the morgue is down the hallway." Silas said, looking into the hall. "Yeah, there it is." He stepped into the hallway and started walking towards the door, Kayla and Ron following close behind.
"Why do I have a bad feeling about this?" Ron spoke up. Silas looked at the door to the morgue and opened it, peeking inside. "Yeah, me too. Come on." They walked through the doorway and down the stairs. The stench of formaldehyde filling their noses made Kayla gag a little. "Oh my god... that smells terrible," she said. As they reached the bottom of the stairs, there was a door that was slightly ajar in front of them. The sound of metal clinking and the noise of something that resembles cutting open an envelope caught their attention. Silas was the first to reach the door, and he slowly opened it.
As they entered the room, they saw that it was the preparation area for the mortician. A man was standing beside a gurney, dressed in black pants, a black vest, and a white shirt. His hair, as well as his skin, was ghostly white. When he turned to face them, they couldn't help but notice how old and withered he looked. His face was wrinkled and shriveled, and his eyes had no iris, but were sunken deep into the sockets. He looked more like a corpse than a human being. Despite his eerie appearance, the man smiled at them, revealing a mouth full of crooked teeth. As he stepped aside, the group noticed what he had been doing. Kayla put her hands to her mouth and shrieked. On the gurney was Timmy. His arms and legs were restrained, and his mouth had been gagged. He had a large tube stuck in the side of his neck, which was trickling blood as he looked at the group with wide, begging eyes.
"Timmy!" Kayla shouted. The old man walked to a machine and flipped a switch. The whole room erupted in an ear splitting noise as the embalming machine roared to life. Timmy struggled and gurgled as the blood was pumped from his body and replaced with embalming solution. He flailed for a bit, then remained still, dead in a matter of seconds. His blood poured down the gurney and through the drain in the floor.
Kayla screamed again, then turned to the side and vomited on the floor. Silas started running for Timmy as Ron began angrily walking towards the old man, but before anything else could happen, the lights in the room went out. The embalming machine whirred to a halt, leaving behind an eerie silence.
Suddenly the lights came on again, and the only sound was the echoing drips of fluids and blood. "Omg, Timmy!" Kayla cried as she walked quickly to the gurney. "He's dead!" Both Silas and Ron walked up beside her. "What a sick bastard!" Silas exclaimed. Ron started pacing around the room."Just wait until I get my hands on that guy." He said.
Kayla tried to control her crying, but she couldn't. She had just witnessed the love of her life suffer a horrible death in front of her. "How could he..." she choked. "Timmy's gone..." Silas placed his hands on Kayla's shoulders and spoke with urgency. "Kayla, we cannot stay here. We need to contact the police and find a way to escape." He took out his phone, but there was still no signal. Silas looked around the room and noticed a phone on the desk in the corner. He walked over to it, picked it up, and tried to make a call. But the line was dead, and there was no response from the other end. "Dammit!" Silas shouted, and angrily knocked everything from the desk, causing objects to clatter to the floor. As he surveyed the mess, his eyes settled on a piece of paper that stood out from the rest. He knelt down and picked it up, scanning it. It appeared to be a copy of an old newspaper clipping from 1903. "Look at this..." He said. "It says here that this funeral home was built in the late 1800's. The owner of the funeral home was a man named Walter Higgins, who was accused of kidnapping adults and children and keeping them in the basement. He was investigated, but ultimately found innocent in court due to law enforcement not being able to find any evidence against him. Apparently the townsfolk didn't like that outcome, so they hunted him down in his home and killed him." Ron marched over to Silas with a stern expression on his face. "This is not the time to be reading bullshit, dumbass," he said, his voice laced with anger. Meanwhile, Kayla wiped away her tears and gazed at Silas with a perplexed look on her face. "What does that have to do with anything?" she asked. Silas pointed at a small picture on the paper. "Look at this picture, it's the same guy we just saw," he said. Ron narrowed his eyes and studied the picture closely. "That doesn't make any sense," he said. Kayla wiped her eyes and nose on her shirt. "You said that the article is from 1903, right? The man would have to be a hundred and thirty years old at least. And you said that the townsfolk killed him." Silas shook his head. "I know, and in this picture he already looks like he's at least seventy. It doesn't make any sense, but come on. Does anything we've seen tonight make sense?" He placed the paper on the desk and turned towards Ron, who was rubbing the back of his neck. "Honestly, I don't care," Ron said as he walked towards the door that led to the stairs and tried to open it, but it wouldn't budge. He started banging his shoulder against the door loudly. Kayla stood up and confronted him. "Please stop! It won't do any good, and you're making a lot of noise," she said sternly. Ron scoffed and turned around, heading towards the double metal doors with windows on the other side of the room. Silas scanned the room and approached a shelf stocked with various chemicals and supplies. He opened the cabinet and retrieved a long white sheet, then proceeded to drape it over the motionless body of Timmy. Silas noticed Kayla whimpering and immediately went to comfort her with a hug. After releasing her, he turned to Ron, who was peering through the double doors' windows. Ron noted that it was a hallway that seemed to lead to the morgue, but quite dark. Silas began searching through the drawers, hoping to find a key or anything that could open the doors. Kayla, still shaken, sat down in a chair at the corner, her face buried in her hands. While Silas continued his search, Ron pushed on the double doors, which opened without any difficulty. "I'll go check out what's inside," Ron said. "Let me know if you find anything." Silas nodded, still rummaging through the drawers. He found a flashlight and put it in his pocket, reminding Ron to be careful.
Ron entered the long hallway, a nervous feeling in his gut. The lights flickered as he made his way towards the double doors that led to the morgue. He stopped and peeked through the windows, noticing that the morgue was dimly lit with a flickering light that looked like it could go out at any moment.
He pushed the doors open and stepped into the morgue, the doors shutting behind him. The only sound was the hum of the cooling system. As he scanned the room, he approached one of the cold cabinets and opened it. Suddenly, a small arm emerged from the cabinet and gripped his arm, trying to pull him inside. "Get off me!" He grunted, grabbing the arm and trying to pull its grip loose. He hammer fisted the arm and hand to no avail, and it only seemed to make the arm stronger. He realized that he was losing the struggle and it filled him with dread. He used his other hand to grab the side of the cold cabinet but two additional arms emerged from the darkness and covered his face. He tried to scream, but it was muffled as he was pulled into the freezer. The door shut behind him, engulfing him in darkness.
Meanwhile in the other room, Silas was in the supply cabinet, tossing medical supplies and chemical bottles aside. After moving a few bottles, he found a small red switch. "Hey, I think I found something," he called out to Kayla. She walked over to him and they flipped the switch together. Suddenly, the wall on their left started sliding, revealing a hidden door. "Well, that's interesting," Silas said as he tested the knob and opened the door. Inside, a long dark tunnel stretched out before them. There were no lights in the tunnel, and they couldn't see the end of it. "Let's go get Ron," Silas suggested, but something caught his attention. He glanced towards the door that led to the stairs, where he saw the old man with a crooked grin on his face. Standing around him were at least ten children, all of them pointing their fingers at Silas and Kayla.
As the children slowly walked towards them in their jerky movements, Kayla let out a loud shriek. Silas quickly grabbed her and pulled her into the tunnel, shutting the door and locking it behind them. "I doubt that will keep them out." Kayla whispered, her voice trembling with fear. Silas looked at her solemnly. "You're probably right." Kayla's eyes widened with concern. "What about Ron?" Silas shrugged helplessly as a sudden hammering at the door made them both jump. Silas yanked the flashlight from his pocket and flipped it on, shining it down the tunnel. "Come on!" He told Kayla, grabbing her arm and starting to run. Both of them ran down the tunnel, trying not to trip over loose rocks and gravel. The light from the flashlight revealed an end to the tunnel ahead, and they hurried until they reached the end of it. The hammering on the door had stopped. Silas shone his flashlight around. To the left, the tunnel continued until what he assumed was another turn. To the right, a metal door stood. Kayla approached the door and opened it. Inside was a small room. As they entered the room, Kayla and Silas were greeted with a ghastly sight. The floor was covered in bloodstains and bones, some of which had chains wrapped around them. A large spider was crawling across the floor. Kayla turned to Silas and whispered, "I think this might be where he kept the children." Silas nodded in agreement, as Kayla shut the door and they started walking down the tunnel again.
The pair made their way through the dark tunnel, and soon reached a turn that only led to the right. A wooden door was visible in the distance, about a hundred feet away. As they walked towards it, Kayla walked straight into a giant cobweb, causing her to let out a loud screech. She frantically started slapping her hair and face, trying to remove the sticky web. "Get it off!" Kayla yelled as Silas quickly rushed over to help, slapping the spider out of her hair, which hit the floor with a thud and ran into the shadows. "Oh my God, I want out of here!" she said, her voice full of panic. Silas walked over to the door and opened it. The door led to a flight of stairs that went upwards. At the top of the stairs, there was a cellar door. Silas approached the doorway, but was interrupted by a shrill scream. He quickly turned around to see an old man with his hand over Kayla's mouth.
Before Silas could react, the old man pulled out a scalpel and dug it into Kaylas neck as she squealed. The man's grin turned into a frown as he drug the scalpel from one end of Kaylas neck to the other. Kayla gurgled and flailed as blood sprayed everywhere. She reached out an arm towards Silas, a desperate plea for help, then fell limp in the man's arms.
Silas threw the flashlight at the man, which missed wildly as Kayla's body slumped to the floor. Silas went to turn and run through the doorway, but an unseen force was suddenly holding him still. He looked to the left of the man, and there was a little girl standing over Kayla's body, holding her hand out towards him. Silas was overcome by a dizzying sensation as he looked into the child's dark, void-like eyes. Suddenly, he heard a gasp and snapped out of his trance. Kayla, who had been lying unconscious, was now on her side holding a large rock. She threw the rock at the little girl, and the stone struck the child in the side of the head. Silas realized he was no longer under the girl's spell and ran out of the room, slamming the door behind him as he heard a splattering sound. He sprinted up the stairs and burst through the cellar door to escape.
Silas found himself in the midst of a dense forest. His heart was racing as he slammed the door shut behind him, the full moon illuminating the surroundings with an eerie glow, and he didn't recognize where he was. He turned around to start walking, but a sudden wave of dizziness hit him, causing him to lose his balance and tumble onto the ground. As he struggled to catch his breath, he noticed a small black mark on his left forearm, which reminded him of the sinister black veins on the faces of the children. Shaken but determined, he picked himself up and headed in the direction of what he hoped would be the safety of town.
Silas finally reached the city and went straight to the police station. He provided his statement, and the police searched the funeral home. However, after a long morning of searching, they couldn't find anything at all. Eventually, the police offered him a ride back home, as they didn't believe his story. They questioned him about being on drugs or drinking the night before, assuming he had passed out from drinking his depression away.
Silas stumbled into the house and collapsed onto his bed, his head throbbing with a fierce ache. The black mark on his forearm had grown, pulsing with an ominous beat. Exhaustion enveloped him, and he couldn't resist the temptation of slumber any longer. He closed his eyes and surrendered to the darkness.
The smell of mildew and stale air jolted Silas awake. He rubbed his bleary eyes and sat up, his heart racing with a mix of fear and anticipation as he realized where he was, immediately recognizing the room with bones and chains. He looked down at his leg and noticed that there was a chain around it, attached to the wall. However, something seemed off. Why was his leg so small? He held out his hands and realized they were much smaller than they should have been, almost as small as they were when he was about six years old. Silas turned to see a little girl in the opposite corner of the room, also with a chain attached to her leg. But why did she look so familiar? The brown hair and hazel eyes...
Suddenly the door opened and Silas had to shield his eyes from the light. As his vision adjusted, he recognized the person who had walked into the room. The old man's smile stretched from ear to ear, and Silas felt his world go black.
submitted by Mister91Crow to ChillingApp [link] [comments]

2023.12.05 12:08 jacksontwos Hated on DG but finished MOI and loved it!

So I posted before about DG. Liked the beginning didn't like the ending or those dogs that marched forever with Duiker. Someone said I walked the chain of dogs but I was a noble LOL. Questioned whether the series was for me and you guys told me to read MOI, well, I did. And it was great!
Main difference was I liked all the storylines. With DG I only liked the side stories and had no interest in following the worst historian and felt no emotional connection to the army leaders or the army at all for that matter, so them dying at the end did nothing for me. Wasn't a fan of the marching either, felisin and heboric marching was somewhat interesting because felisin was being mean and heboric had uncontrollable super powers but the chain of dogs was just marching. In MOI there's less marching. More character development and more characters that have already been precooked, Dujeck, whiskjack the bridge burners etc. And as a plus you get more of what seems to be the main story, the crippled God vs everyone else.
Really enjoyed everyones perspectives and felt that the sympathy the characters garnered wasnt through cheap tricks (no characters that need to beat up rich nobles multiple times to make them likeable) but through character development. And I liked it all. It was thoroughly enjoyable!
Things I appreciated: the Tlan Imass characters. Especially tool although he wasn't very talkative like he was in garden's. I enjoyed his long-windedness in garden's and his bromance with Toc in MOI.
Kruppe. As a comic relief character I didn't really appreciate him at the beginning of Gardens but I'm fully on board now. Really like how he describes the attributes of his character (wisdom his blood brother, perseverance his cousin, truth his wife etc) as relationships lol
Lady Envy. Big fan of supernaturally horny dominatrices. Shame Toc decided to run away mid battle??? Could have saved himself a lot of hassle if he just stayed her sub. Her whole pack of warriors and animals are interesting because are the Segulah cool with her sex trafficking their 3rd most powerful warrior??? And one of the dog/wolf pair is now a god? And Toc's partner?? Yeah I haven't understood a lot of what's going on there but I enjoyed it!
Paran getting his powers. Knew he'd be important as the series starts with him but I didn't for see him being the master of the deck. Doesn't seem fair that he got the role since he's clearly not unbiased but I guess the God's really hate the differently-abled God. Enjoyed the jaghut Tyrant for GOTM getting a job too! I thought at the end of Gardens his disappearance was a bit lackluster so it's good to see hes back and doing something useful too! Hope he stays committed and keeps working.
The soultaken Necromancers!! Really enjoyed how their story introduced the caravan guard story (well maybe it was the other way around) and how both evolved. Happy they didn't die even though they definitely deserved it.
The dinosaurs!!? I really enjoyed those guys. Really didn't even need an explanation of why they were so aggressive either. Undead dinosaurs with swords for hands was all the explanation I needed. But there was some anyways which was nice.
Whiskeyjack dying??? Did not see that coming. Mr Brood should have seen Kallors sudden generosity for cheap ploy he doesn't seem like the most forgiving of people and seeing as his primary interest was letting the malazans die he shouldn't have let him ride on ahead to help them. UNLESS he is complicit. He doesn't seem complicit but... Would explain a lot if he was because I saw that betrayal coming a mile away.
The House of chains! Liked the set up for this and all the players involved. Big fan of everyone. The jaghut who got fired for ??? misbehaving on the job? Insobrodinance? Couldn't be because he got disfigured surely? Hood isn't running his house like a Sephora surely. Idk I feel like Hood overreacted on that one. Hardly his fault he was assaulted. Didn't even give him the chance to react! And clearly he was a good employee because he was hired immediately! Didn't even have time to get unemployment.
I feel like this series is set for a time jump. I need more backstory for some of these characters and whiskeyjack can't just disappear at book 3??? Surely not. All because of a dodgey knee too. Great death. Never before has a great hero died from complications of a dodgey knee. That was a service to fantasy as a genre.
The ending was very satisfying. The emotional scene when they bury iktovian was great. I didn't really understand a lot of his story until that point. I guess Hood and Fener are the gods of death and suffering?? And iktovian can hug pain away? Cool. Was a bit confused when right before the final battle he decided now was the time to do that for the Tlan Imass and Silverfox just... Let him??? Didn't even put up a fight. That confused me. Especially since soon after she's upset about losing them. And maybe Im misremembering but did the Tlan Imass even fight the final battle? The Ay did and Tool and his sister (great character) did but did the rest just pop up at the final battle, get their pain taken away by itkovian, then attend his funeral and leave? That's what I think happened. Could have saved a few bridgeburners if that's the case.
And Tool becomes a human??? That's because of Itkovian right? He quit his job and then found his body because itkovians gift gave life back to the warren that was once the Tlan warren but is now Toc's hitchhiker god and lady envys pet Beast warren??? I feel like I'm somewhat close with that. Either way he quits his job and is the only Tlan to get his body back and the others just watch him leave?? Idk I expected Silverfox to be a better leader than that. Can't let your first sword resign like that in front of everyone. First it was the Ay who set you up to die and then Tool just quits... Not looking good for her at all.
And last but not least, my arch nemesis, Duiker. Right at the end. Brought back from the DEAD!?! Hood really needs to explain this one. Some random healers are STEALING people from Hood??? And he's just letting them get away with reverse murder?!?! Hopefully death has made him more interesting. No more following armies and class warfare please. Hopefully death has retired him for good or at least changed his focus away from being a historian.
Really looking forward to House of Chains. From the title it would appear an adequate amount of precooking has been done in the last 2 books. I expect more of the crippled God and 2x King Kallor and Gothol. I expect more employment contracts to be signed also so that will be fun to see who he recruits. Happy to see formerly known as Felisin and Heboric too. And all the side characters I enjoyed from DG.
submitted by jacksontwos to Malazan [link] [comments]

2023.12.05 10:48 amelmenia Speed and Reflex Training: Techniques for Quick Thinking in Fast-Paced Games

Speed and Reflex Training: Techniques for Quick Thinking in Fast-Paced Games
Greetings, fellow gamers and quick-thinkers! I'm Stanislav Kondrashov, and today, let's dive into the electrifying world of fast-paced games and explore techniques to enhance your speed and reflexes. In the dynamic realm of gaming, split-second decisions can be the difference between victory and defeat. In this post, I'll share insights, strategies, and tips to help you sharpen your quick thinking skills and stay ahead in the fast-paced gaming arena.

Precision Aim Training:

Aim is paramount in fast-paced games. Stanislav Kondrashov recommends incorporating precision aim training into your routine. Utilize aim training maps or scenarios that focus on quick and accurate target acquisition. Regular practice hones your reflexes, making you more adept at hitting your mark in the heat of battle.

Reaction Time Exercises:

Reaction time is a key factor in fast-paced games. Engage in reaction time exercises, such as using online tools or dedicated games that test and improve your response speed. Stanislav Kondrashov suggests dedicating a few minutes each day to these exercises to progressively reduce your reaction time.

Peripheral Vision Awareness:

Being aware of your surroundings is crucial in fast-paced games. Train your peripheral vision by actively scanning the screen for movement and important information. Stanislav Kondrashov advises practicing widening your focus to capture more visual information, allowing you to react swiftly to unexpected events.

Quick Decision-Making Drills:

Developing quick decision-making skills requires targeted drills. Stanislav Kondrashov suggests creating scenarios or using in-game situations that demand rapid decision-making. Practice making split-second choices to condition your brain to process information swiftly and accurately.

Hand-Eye Coordination Exercises:

Enhancing hand-eye coordination is fundamental for fast-paced gaming. Stanislav Kondrashov recommends engaging in exercises or using tools that specifically target hand-eye coordination. This improves your ability to translate visual input into precise and rapid movements.

Focus and Concentration Techniques:

Maintaining focus is crucial during intense gaming sessions. Incorporate focus and concentration techniques into your routine, such as mindfulness exercises or meditation. Stanislav Kondrashov suggests developing the ability to concentrate on the task at hand while filtering out distractions.

Customizing Keybindings:

Optimize your gaming setup for quick responses by customizing keybindings. Stanislav Kondrashov recommends arranging keys or controller buttons in a way that feels intuitive and allows for rapid execution of commands. Familiarity with your setup contributes to faster reflexes.

Interval Training for Reflexes:

Interval training isn't just for physical fitness; it applies to reflex training too. Stanislav Kondrashov suggests incorporating intervals of intense gameplay followed by short breaks. This mimics the bursts of action in fast-paced games and helps improve your endurance and reflexes over time.

Visual Tracking Exercises:

Enhance your ability to track fast-moving targets by practicing visual tracking exercises. Stanislav Kondrashov recommends following moving objects on-screen with your eyes, improving your ability to predict and react to dynamic gameplay situations.

Simulating High-Pressure Situations:

Create an environment that simulates high-pressure gaming situations. Stanislav Kondrashov suggests engaging in competitive matches, tournaments, or scenarios that replicate the intensity of real gaming moments. This acclimates you to the stress of fast-paced gameplay, allowing you to perform under pressure.
In conclusion, mastering quick thinking in fast-paced games is a continuous process of training and adaptation. By incorporating these techniques from Stanislav Kondrashov into your gaming routine, you can elevate your speed, reflexes, and overall performance in the thrilling world of fast-paced gaming. May your reactions be swift, your decisions be precise, and your victories be well-earned!
submitted by amelmenia to u/amelmenia [link] [comments]

2023.12.05 08:15 liven96 (SPOILERS) The Coffin of Andy and Leyley: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Compartmentalise

C/W: Death, Gore, Cannibalism, Incest
Spoilers for the whole game! If you don't care/haven't played it, I've included a plot summary as it's necessary to follow most of what I'm saying. I'll put it in the comments, as it would otherwise clog up an already very long post.
So if you haven't played the game and need to know the story, check the comments.


Before anything, I want to clear up some misconceptions you may have about this game. It’s commonly memed about due to the relationship between the two sibling protagonists. I’m not going to argue that there aren’t incestuous undertones (and at a few points, overtones), but I want it to be said that there is a lot more to this game than just cheap shock value. I’ll admit I picked up this game specifically because it seemed so weird. I’ve always been partial to RPGMaker games (LISA and OMORI are two of my favourite games, ever) and seeing a widely memed about, dialogue heavy indie rpg? Sign me up! Basically, I wanted to see for myself whether the game was actually good, or if its controversial elements carried it to stardom. My conclusion; yup. I don't really have a specific focus here; I mainly just want to cover the various angles of Andrew and Ashley's relationship.
I also want to apologise a little; I know this post is really long. I'd prefer to colour code code the quotes, and add images, but unfortunately that isn't possible on this sub. I also apologise for the length of the plot summary; the game is mostly dialogue, so I the summary ended up pretty long. I reference a lot of specific moments, so if the summary was shorter, I'd need to elaborate later anyway which is pretty clunky and I'd prefer to avoid it.


There's gonna be a lot of quotes, and because there are lots of back and forths, it's gonna be pretty ugly. All quotes will be bolded with quotation marks: "Like this.". I'll also state which character is saying what: A for Andrew, L for Ashley, M for Mum.
I mention the Burial and Decay routes on occasion. I’ll elaborate on them here; when you’re preparing the ritual to sacrifice your parents, you can choose to either let Andrew stay with them and set it up, or set it up yourself (as Ashley). Choosing the former results in a conversation between Andrew and Mum, wherein she’ll offer an olive branch. Accepting this results in the Decay route, a route which is characterised by Andrew’s indifference to their future and his coldness towards Ashley. Declining results in the Burial route, wherein Andrew maintains his general composure and his care for Ashley. Also, choosing to set up the ritual as Ashley also results in the Decay route with only some minor dialogue changes and a unique conversation.
I mention Room 302 a few times as well. This is the room where Andrew holds the woman hostage, who he later kills. I bring this up quite a few times, so keep it in mind.


Andrew and Ashley are hopelessly codependent. This is both alluded to (i.e when Andrew’s girlfriend breaks up with him) and made very clear through their dialogue. After they butcher and eat the cultist, Andrew wakes Ashley up because he can’t sleep and sleeps next to her that night, which is implied to be a regular occurrence. Throughout the game, Andrew struggles to cope with his actions and their tumultuous future, often talking out his problems with a relatively unbothered Ashley. After their first argument he tells her A: “It’s……….. I’m stressed out, Leyley.” and when she gives him the silent treatment in the car, he attempts to apologise but is rebuked. Andrew’s reliance on Ashley to cope with his guilt is something both of them are very aware of: L: “I’m the only one you can talk to. I’m the only one who can make it go away!” A: “Fancy that. When you’re the reason I can’t sleep in the first place.”. Andrew has always struggled to say no to his sister; in the past, he was reluctant to trap Nina, and tried to convince Ashley to let her out of the chest. Ashley gets his compliance through emotional manipulation L: “It’s not fair! Why does everyone like her better? I’m loud and weird and annoying and no one likes me at all!” A: "...I like you better LeyLey.” L: “Prove it. Liar”. This codependency is only furthered when they bury the body; L: “You’re a bad person Andy. But I won’t tell anyone… So let’s always be friends. Okay?”. Andrew is “stuck” with her (a motif repeated throughout the game). In the present, he is quick to dismiss Ashley’s idealistic plans, pointing out how they can’t stay at their parents house after the murder or use their IDs. However, he still goes along with the majority of her schemes, even if they’re dangerous (i.e killing the hitman). This indicates the level of influence she still has over him; during their argument in Room 302, she insists that L: “you chose me! YOU CHOSE ME! ME!!”, referring to the Nina incident, which incites Andrew enough to threaten to kill her. His eventual refusal to do so shows us two things; that he still feels intense guilt over Nina’s death, and that he needs Ashley to deal with it.
While Ashley is the more assertive of the two, this doesn’t mean she’s any less dependent than Andrew. She’s shown to be incredibly possessive of Andrew (who she prefers to call “Andy”), getting intense jealousy whenever he receives or gives attention to another woman. This is what incites her to trap Nina; L: “What do I do about these hussies around you…”, as well as sparking the argument in Room 302; L: “Andrew shoots his load, while I risk getting shot by the warden!”. She even mentions this in the Decay route after they sacrifice their parents; L: “I don’t know. What do you keep me around for?? I’m certainly no pretty lady. You can’t even fuck me.”. Her contract with Andrew demonstrates this perfectly: A: “And thus, she forever keeps her mouth shut.” L: “Only as long as you keep your eyes closed!”. Ashley holds all the power on the surface; she’s the one who can reveal this truth, showing indifference to the truth of Nina’s death being revealed; L: “So what? “No one likes me anyway.”. But when it comes down to it, she needs Andrew just as much as he needs her. While the emotional manipulation she uses on Andrew is obviously bad, it’s clear that Ashley herself believes what she’s saying; A: “God! You stupid, stupid girl. I’ve been here this whole time….. None of this needed to happen, you could’ve just–” L: “I KNOW YOU DON’T LIKE ME!! Andy, I know. But that doesn’t matter anymore. Because from now on, no one will like you either!”. She blackmails Andrew because she genuinely believes this is the only way to get him to like her, ignoring his complaints. The current Ashley is certainly more deliberately manipulative than her past self, but as we see with her stipulation, Andrew’s undivided attention is still the most important thing to her. There is no Leyley without Andy.


“Andy” and “Leyley” are more than just nicknames; they are used by the siblings to refer to distinct versions of themselves. This difference is most pronounced in Andrew; whenever we see the two in flashbacks, they are “Andy” and “Leyley” but Andrew is quick to show his disdain for the nickname whenever Ashley tries to call him it. After killing the warden, he decides to play along, but when they leave the apartment, his one stipulation is that she never calls him “Andy” again (which she deliberately breaks again and again). In his own words, A: “Okay, but I’m not gonna be Andy anymore. He’s so… spineless. And I hate Leyley like you wouldn’t believe… She better stay and die here with Andy. So you and I can leave.”. Andrew associates “Andy” with a prior version of himself; calling him “spineless” implies that he intends to stand up to Ashley more than he did in the past, and he makes it clear that to him, there is a clear distinction between the two and their nicknames. When she calls him Andy in the motel, he responds with A: “Go for it! Though you’re going to find me a lot less accommodating than Andy.”. This is what sparks their big argument in the car;L: “Oh c’mon! It’s just a joke.” A: “Like I don’t know you Ashley! You’ve pulled this shit before… You’ll keep going “Andy “Andy” until I get tired of correcting you. And suddenly it’s “Andy and Leyley and Stupid Bullshit” all over again.”. He confronts her again while they’re washing the dishes at their parent’s house; L: “I agreed to behave, and you agreed it’s just us now.” A: “Funny. Because I remember agreeing to bury Andy and Leyley.”. Andrew wants to use their new life on the run as a fresh start of sorts; to be a different, better version of himself. But Ashley doesn’t.
Ashley is naturally opposed to Andrew’s stance. She adores “Andy”, not just the nickname, but the ideal of Andy. Of the brother who loves her more than anyone else, who helps her out whenever she needs it, who agrees with her no matter what. While Andrew tries to push himself away from this mould, Ashley wants him to stay firmly within it. This dynamic has existed for some time prior to the events of the game; A: “I told you to stop calling me that. We’re not kids anymore.”. Despite agreeing to his stipulation, she continually pushes his boundaries, trying to slip it into conversation like in the motel (which he instantly rebukes) and later into the conversation during dinner with their parents. She wants Andrew to be just like they were when they were kids, when they were doing their “Andy and Leyley” adventures. It’s no coincidence that after they eat the cultist (the inciting incident), Ashley reminds Andrew of their past;L: “Hey Andy? Remember when we used to go on adventures. Andy and Leyley’s quest for something-or-another. Remember?” A: “W-why bring this up…?” L: “Isn’t this just another one of those?”. She’s still treating everything like just another adventure, which gets on Andrew’s nerves after he kills the warden; A: “Ashley. I am not in the mood for your shit right now.”. While washing dishes, Andrew asserts that A: “Well guess what? Andy is dead.” with Ashley responding that L: “..... You’re right. I really don’t like Andrew.”. Andrew wants to bury Andy, while Ashley wants him to be Andy forever. But what she can’t (or won’t) understand is that there is no Andy. Not like she wants.


Throughout the game, Andrew slowly gets more and more desensitised to both his and Ashley’s actions. He’s careful by nature, and quick to panic when things get out of control. He retches when eating the cultist, and struggles to sleep that night. But as time goes on, as more people die, he starts to lose his sense of humanity. In fact, he begins to become more and more like Ashley, something that she notices; L: "I don’t know… something is shifting. I don’t really like it…...". What’s interesting is that Ashley doesn’t want Andrew to be like her. No matter what route you take, Ashley picks up on Andrew’s nonchalance when cleaning up their parents' bodies; L: Andrew continues casually butchering your parents. Incidentally, there’s a knot in your stomach OR L: “Having regrets?” A: “Would I be allowed to say so, if I did?” L: “I love you Andy. I love you. I love you. I love you. I’m sorry for lashing out earlier. I forgot how hard this is for you.” A: “I’m fine.” L: “No you’re not, talk to me.” A: “………. I’ve got nothing to say to you”. Andrew continues casually butchering your parents. And for the first time in forever, you have no idea what he’s thinking. During his vision in the Burial route, we see his ex-girlfriend Julia. Andrew says that; A: “You’ll never see her again. And the fact that it doesn’t really bother you, bothers you”. Andrew isn’t just becoming desensitised to murder and cannibalism, he’s becoming desensitised to everything, as demonstrated by his nonchalance at the bridge. Ashley later shows relief when Andrew can’t sleep; L: “Oh, you still can’t sleep? For a moment there I thought you’d changed.”, followed up by his eulogy at the bridge where she wonders Maybe you have changed after all…. Meanwhile, in the Decay route, after she has the vision of Andrew murdering her, she calls him Andy and hopes that he doesn’t react. He initially doesn’t but when she asks why he doesn’t say “I love you” back, he says: A: “You keep calling me by some other guy’s name. What do you expect?”. This is the natural consequence of Ashley’s desire for her Andy; as Andrew goes along with her plans, he becomes less like the Andy she wants. These incredibly stressful situations either result in him snapping (Room 302) or no longer caring (their parents). And these exact situations cause the only thing keeping him together to fracture and tear.


No matter what seems to happen, Andrew tries to maintain some form of a moral compass. He tries to justify his cannibalism to Ashley: A: “I was too hungry to think straight, okay??”. But as Ashley points out, whether he feels bad about it or not, he did it. L: “What do you want me to do about it? Woosh woosh! there goes my magic wand! There. I’ve absolved you of your sins! You never took a bite now.”. This is Andrew’s most potent coping mechanism, the one thing that seems to keep him sane despite everything; no matter what, he is not fully responsible for what he’s done. When they argue in Room 302, he denies Ashley’s innocence; L: “I’m all innocent. I’ve not harmed a single soul!” A: “Of course not! YOU MAKE ME DO IT FOR YOU!!”. While this allows him to maintain some composure, the obvious guilt he carries reveals his true feelings; he is aware of what he’s done and what it means. But he maintains that fragile defence, the last thing that he needs to hold on to not to lose himself; part of their twisted, complex relationship is that Andrew needs Ashley to share the blame. But it’s a ticking time bomb. The big turning point for when he seems to fully accept his responsibility, is after they sacrifice their parents. They are revealed to still be breathing, causing Andrew to panic, but Ashley kills them. And she catches something; L: “Surely, he’ll bitch and moan as per usual. But you did not miss that sigh of relief”. Relief at the death of his parents. Until now, Andrew always had a defence for his murders, as we see in his dream; A: You killed this one to protect Ashley. No regrets.; Ashley would’ve wanted to kill this one anyway. You couldn’t leave any witnesses after all.; This one you had to get before he got you.. But he’s run out of excuses. He nonchalantly hacks away at their bodies and disposes of their remains, something which even Ashley is uncomfortable with. The way he drags his bloody finger down her face is very reminiscent of her doing the same thing when Andrew can’t sleep after they eat the cultist. The roles are deliberately reversed here. Ashley is turning Andrew into a monster. Or maybe he’s letting her.


While Andrew is slowly changing, Ashley, on the other hand, was never bothered by the murders, or the cannibalism, or just about anything. We see this in the past too; after Nina dies, she reacts with cold indifference; L: “If you’re so weak that you die just like that, then clearly nature doesn’t want you to live.”. This brings us into a nature versus nurture argument; was Ashley’s upbringing the cause of her personality, or was it intrinsic to her? To do that, we have to understand why Ashley is so fiercely possessive of Andrew. We don’t see a great deal of their childhood, but we can piece a lot together from short scenes and implications. The game establishes early on that Ashley has a bad relationship with her mum; M: “Please don’t call me anymore. I won’t answer…………… G-goodbye, Ashley…”. This is expanded upon in the car, when it’s revealed that Andrew knows their parents’ new address; L: “.... She actually told you the address?? Huh.. the only thing she told me was to stop calling her.”. The conversations Andrew has with their mum makes things very clear; he gets along well enough with her to piss Ashley off; L: “Hell, since you think everything is all good, why not stay here and play happy family some more??”, and of course, Andrew has to convince her otherwise; A: “Listen, I chose you, didn’t I? I chose you.”. And in her vision during the Burial route, we see a representation of the events up until this point with plushies. Her parents and Andrew are at the dinner table, while she’s alone in the corner. Even if you try and put her plushie on a chair, it just falls off.
We are given more context in a hidden scene you can find in the Decay route. Ashley finds a present in her vision, which reminds her of one of her birthdays; L: “Hey Andy? Isn’t it interesting that when it’s your birthday, you have your classmates come over and stuff… But when it’s my birthday, we can never afford anything?”. When Andrew suggests buying a cake, Ashley responds with L: “Nah… it’s not like my friends would show up anyway…. They’re always busy when I ask for anything. Even when I haven’t said the date yet…”. After Andrew uses his pocket money to buy some lemon muffins, he tells her to wish for something. She wishes that L: “my brother loses all his friends and never finds love!”. This scene is really, really interesting because of how normal Ashley is in it. She isn’t concocting some scheme, or manipulating Andrew. She’s just a kid who’s sad on her birthday, and looks to her brother to comfort her. It’s for this reason that I think you can view this scene as a turning point of sorts; when Ashley gives up on depending on anyone except Andrew. That’s certainly what her wish suggests. This is further supported by a conversation Andrew has with his mum if Ashley leaves him to set up the ritual; M: “I wanted to apologise to you. For always making you look after her. That was wrong of me. I’m sorry I made you raise her. I thought you were getting along, so I didn’t want to see what was happening. And for that, I apologise.”. Ashley’s neglect was not incidental, but purposeful; her mum let Andrew deal with her and ignored their growing dependency.
Now we have a much better idea of who Ashley is, and why. Ashley had these almost sociopathic tendencies as a child (as seen with Nina), but blaming her isn’t really fair. Ashley was completely and utterly failed by her parents. Her mum delegated the burden of raising a child to Andrew, while ignoring the worrying signs she developed. If Ashley stays in the basement to set up the ritual, her mum admits she was aware of Nina’s murder; M: “I never told anyone what you two little psychos did to that girl.”. Their mum is characterised by inaction; she admits she’s a fuck up to Andrew, but it doesn’t change a thing. Ashley’s lack of parental affection and her inability to get along with her peers led to a loneliness that only Andrew could fix. It’s no surprise that her relationship with Andrew developed the way it did. Ashley is a victim of a much subtler form of child abuse, the type that isn’t dramatised or talked about as often, but can be just as devastating. Ashley didn’t have to be a monster.

That’s It?

We’re left at a precipice; these two fundamentally broken people who can only find comfort in each other. Unfortunately, the game isn’t currently finished. We don’t get to see how the branching Burial or Decay routes go, or even how Andy and Leyley’s final adventure ends. But I still think there’s a lot to say about this little RPGMaker game made by one dude. How it examines these complex themes; the toxic nature of codependency, the unhealthy escapism of idealisation. How desensitisation can be inevitable, and how people use mental gymnastics to escape the weight of their actions. And how monsters aren’t born, they’re made, sometimes in more subtle and insidious ways. I think that’s all really worth talking about.


I haven’t written a structured essay in a long time, so I hope my rustiness didn’t show too badly. I’m not exactly sure why I felt so inclined to write all this about this specific game. It’s definitely a game I really enjoyed, and that strongly affected me emotionally. But I’ve played a decent amount of games like that in the past year or so. Maybe I just played it at a time that I needed some kind of creative outlet. Who knows.
Thanks for bearing with my indulgence.
submitted by liven96 to CharacterRant [link] [comments]

2023.12.05 01:16 Logic_Sandwich JoJo's Bizarre OC Tournament #7: R1M19 - Stacatto vs Vasant Bulsara

The results are in for Match 17. The winner is…
The third time Minali looked up, and all desiring not to agitate her, nothing moved within her vision.
Gioia Arancini stood in front of SPW-11465, and though her body was small, and marked with heat and frost, her spirit was a shining tower. The Creature could only look up at ⎡Love Kills⎦, its feet paperized to the floor.
“What’s the matter, friend? Go on, then, look away, run away. You won’t be welcomed here if you do, but if you can’t stand firm, you can’t grow.”
Every second felt like eternity.
“Go on, last chance. I can see you trembling. As soon as I can act, if you’re still in my face… You will not be the same as what came in here. That isn’t a threat, you know. It’s as certain as the light in the sky that warms us.”
The creature’s eyes darted to the jungle gym, and then to the class. It could see now that as the teacher had looked away, they had shifted their bodies to block the fight. The one who waved crouched behind the wall of people, staring at them both.
The creature understood they were all children, playing. Even this Gioia. Even itself.
It would not run.
“ that’s your choice, hm? Good. I’d have hated any other way.”
…ten seconds passed.
“Time has begun to move again.”

This time, the full fury of that gaze turned towards them. Minali strode forward, breath rattling from her mask, and echoing from those massive arms. The students leapt out to try and stop her, crying out that everything was fine, but she would not listen.
“Wh… Are you serious?! After all you were just talking, you tell my class to watch you beat something to death? I told you already, dammit, there’s no place in my fucking studio for Stands!-” “Quit being rash. Live up to what I came to meet you for, yeah? You’re more capable of it than me.”
Minali scowled, arm reeling back for a punch… before the dust cleared.
There SPW stood, its lanky, uncanny posture and uneven foliage having been reshaped entirely by a mixture of paperization, re-fusion, and simply miming the confident posture that had been staring them down.
“We got off on the wrong foot, but yours was an insult both to me and this being here… It lumbered like something not meant to move in the humanlike way it seeks to, so I fixed up its body to do it better.” She extended a hand to SPW again. “Hey, no hard feelings, yeah? Let’s do what we came here to and destress, alright? It’s not often I can make the most of a day off like this!”
As their fingers wove together, flesh and foliage, they both looked at Minali in turn.
There was no chill. Theirs was a gaze that shone like the sun.

Gioia Arancini, with a score of 80 to SPW-11465’s 74!

Category Winner Point Totals Comments
Popularity Gioia Arancini 18 (6.5+1+2) - 12 (3.5+1+2)
Quality Tie 24 (8 8 8) - 24 (8 8 8) Reasoning](
JoJolity Tie 28 (9 9 10) - 28 (9 9 10) Reasoning
Conduct Tie 10-10 Nothing to report!

Minali stood there, every muscle tensed. That icy gaze was cracking with the pressure, sharp and jagged. Fists clenched by her side, she took one more step forward.
Gioia heaved a sigh, standing between the woman and the creature. Even burnt and bruised, she would not back down.
“Fine, yes, I get it. No need to throw us out, we were *just leaving. Come on, friend. Let’s find a more accepting studio-”
Suddenly, the tension building in Minali snapped. Yet, there came no hostility, and no attack. Instead, she bowed.
“...I screwed up again,” the woman muttered. ”Same as before, too, dammit…” she looked up suddenly, face flushed with embarrassment.
“I know I’ve got issues. That’s what the yoga’s for, it helps me with that pain and anger and,” she sighed, “I owe it for saving my life. This city too, it’s accepted me for who I am, and I just wanted to use what I learned and help it too.”
Those wireframe arms laced their fingers, air gently flowing in and out from its palms.
“⎡Somewhere I Belong⎦ is incomplete, I knew that as soon as it woke up. Yoga’s a lot deeper than I realized, and if I ever want to perfect my Stand, I need to learn a lot more. I was wondering why it was taking so long to find the next limb. You showed me how I’d screwed up–I had turned away.”
She gave them both a sheepish smile.
“Well, I’m looking now. Your Stands are wonderful. The light, the craft…you have beautiful souls.”
Silence settled. Then, there was the sound of laughter.
“Pfft. Are you done?” Gioia chuckled.
Minali’s cheeks flushed again, this time with anger.
“Why the fuck is that funny!?”
“Relax, it was a good speech. But I don’t see why you’re moping. We all had fun–I saw just how much I was holding onto, and got to let go,”
At this, the creature nodded, holding itself with confidence.
“Seems like a good Yoga lesson for all of us.”
Minali blinked, and then grinned. “Right! No sense getting down, I just have to do better next time. I’m really sorry, both of you. If you’ll accept another lesson…I would be glad to have you as part of my class.”
As the students cheered, Minali extended the arms of Somewhere I Belong for her new students–new teachers–to shake. An offering of her own soul, to connect with their own.
”Friend…warms us,” the creature nodded.
Gioia laughed once more, standing in the light of the sun.
“Couldn’t have said it better myself.”
If you’re not a fan of the sun, we have a boss fight up on the harsh, cold peaks of Mount Parapollah!
...We were only children.
We found ourselves not in the warmth of the city's dusk.
But in the cold of daylight, endlessly.
This city, and its people...
...Not once...
Have we left that white room.


Scenario: Bedtown — 3:14PM
At a certain point, the lush greens and bright reds of Rakinnagarh faded, turning into shades of tan and beige, and a bright blue sky cast in smoky gray. It was as if the entire city was suddenly covered in a light shadow, like a permanent eclipse, all that escaped was the bright light of the moon that always seemed to shine through the smog. Vibrant grass turned to dull countryside, jungles to weedy hills, and bustling cityscapes to desolate slums.
When a shadow fell over you, you knew you were in Bedtown, Vasant had heard.
Granted, he hadn’t expected those words to wind up being so literal.
The factories outside of Bedtown surrounded it like a mighty wall, and once he had driven through the gap between the massive metal complexes, the biker was greeted to a complete and utter change in scenery. It didn’t surprise him as much as it used to - he’d made this trip many times before. Bedtown was a frequent destination for any courier worth their salt. It was No Man’s Land, a lawless zone of sorts. That wasn’t to say it was completely devoid of law enforcement. He still ran into trouble with the law every now and then. But, chances were that if something suspicious needed delivery, he’d be riding into Bedtown one way or another.
He wasn’t taking this trip for a job though, and that allowed him to relax a little. Smell the roses. The smell wasn’t that great, granted, but even these dull colors had their own charm. There was beauty in the desolation, something to admire in the lonely countryside this route had to offer. Vasant inhaled, and exhaled, and a small smile crossed his normally stern face.
He couldn’t help himself. After everything that had recently happened in the city, it felt good to relieve stress with a casual ride. Still, he couldn’t put off stressing for long, given the reason for his visit - but it was nice to unwind.
The slums of Bedtown slowly rolled over the horizon, and Vasant sighed, leaning forward on his bike. The peace of a long ride would soon come to an end. It was time to get his head into gear.
The TT Tea House was steeped with the stench of the titular beverage. It gave the air a heavy, heady feeling, rustic and warm. It fit the place’s time-earned well-worn atmosphere. A bell rung as Vasant invited himself in. He saw two of his comrades sitting at a nearby table- Gioia was the first, clad in heavy clothes–a simple disguise to hide her fame. The second was the ever-distant Honeydew Blue. Vasant found her to be an odd duck. Her large eyes, dim even in the light of the tea house, scanned over him as if to size him up. She did it every time. It reminded him of a chameleon, the very obvious movements of her peepers.
“Evening, Vasant.” Gioia said in a simple tone.
“Mm.” He replied back, preferring to save his words for when they were most needed. The floor creaked confidently strode in and sat down, his hands clasped and his expression stoic and serene. With a sigh, Vasant glanced down at the table for a moment before looking up at Gioia.
“I’ll open with the obvious question.” He said, his tone blunted. It wasn’t precisely impolite–moreso it was direct, hoping to keep the conversation grounded. He found some of his compatriots a bit eccentric (not counting Honeydew, who was a few steps beyond “quirky”), and he wanted to make sure this was done as efficiently as possible.
“What’s the angle?” he continued. “I’m all for stopping whatever threat The Middleman’s employers represent, but the only lead we have to go off of are some useless photographs and a mangled corpse. We can’t just throw punches at empty air and hope the right people just happen to walk in front of them.”
Gioia took a sip from a mug of coffee, well-prepared and steaming. It clunked against the wooden table as she set it down.
“Why not? Stand users have a “gravitational attraction” to each other.” She retorted. “Not to mention titanic egos. Experience has told me that anyone willing to use Stand power to throttle a vast swathe of innocent lives thinks they’re much smarter than they really are. Walk where “gravity” takes us, and we’ll naturally find a lead. I’m personally suspecting involvement from VULTURE- or at least, active complacency. Bedtown is their territory- one of them has probably seen something, or more likely…They knew and allowed it to happen on their turf.”
Vasant pondered his response for a moment, then gave his own reply. “I appreciate your confidence, and I don’t mean to blow off your experience…” he paused for a moment, tapping his fingers against the worn wood.
“...But I think the “Metropolis Suite”, whoever they are, represents a ‘different breed’ of Stand users. These aren’t wannabe tyrants–in the sense that they are not “wannabes”. From that point of view, they’ve already won- and they’ve been winning for a very long time. I highly doubt we’re the first group of tough young bucks- well, you lot are young- tough young bucks who’ve wanted to make a change. People care about other people, and they always have. That Suite has managed to suppress almost all of those movements in a city choked with Stand power for what has likely been decades.”
Gioia took another sip. She was about to speak further on their strategy- before a figure burst from the shadows of the tea house, tumbling through the air and landing on the back of Honeydew’s chair. They didn’t react, merely slowly looking up at the intruder. They were tall and gangly, with long hair in a sickly green shade. They had homemade makeup on, in the design of a circus clown’s- and a coat covered in frills, covered in colors, covered in shapes. It was almost an assault on the eyes, if not for the fact that you had to respect how well made the materials were.
“Good evening, gentlemen,” they rumbled, giving the party an amused look as the air went through their coat and the fabric slowly settled. The three stand users were rather unimpressed at the display, all for their own different reasons. Gioia didn’t find anything new in the sudden intrusion (except for irritation), Honeydew was generally enigmatic, and Vasant wasn’t impressed at most things as a rule.
“Only one of us here is a man,” he replied coolly, putting his clasped hands upwards in position so as to rest his chin upon them. Honeydew gave him a puzzled look, not making the connection in his remark. “But regardless… To whom do we owe the pleasure?”
“Ah~?” The figure plopped down onto the top of the chair, legs crossed. “You don’t know who I am? My, my, you lot mustn’t be from around here, then. Uhuhu.” They giggled under their breath, brushing pale hair away from perpetually closed eyes. “Hellwalker. Carolong Hellwalker. It’s a pleasure to meet you all, truly.”
“Cool name,” Gioia responded. “Mind telling us why you thought it appropriate to barge your way into the private sanctum of three Stand users?”
“I don’t recall requesting any sass,” they rumbled, never losing that confident edge. “Private sanctum? You take yourselves awfully seriously. I’m not here for much. Rather, I was hoping for a cup of tea. This is a teahouse, is it not?”
Vasant glanced between his allies, and back to Carolong.
“Aha. You all look so suspicious of me.” In the time between glances, they’d already gotten a cup of tea, which they were gently sipping. “If anything, I think I’ve got more right to be suspicious, with how you were bringing up my dearest organization.”
The three perked up at once. Gioia was the first to speak, eyebrow raised.
“You’re with VULTURE, then?”
“Indeed!” they giggled, as if this was nothing more than a pleasant introduction. “I suppose, if it were a traditional criminal organization, you could consider me a higher up. There’s no hierarchy of the sort, of course...But I pride myself on being quite the accomplished member.” The members of Evergreen were silent, no one sure quite what to ask. This was a perfect opportunity to do some interrogating, but a Stand user (with that getup, there was no way they weren’t one) who was willing to show up like this was either stupid powerful or just stupid. Figuring out which one they were was of the utmost importance.
“I’ve been wondering...” Vasant raised his voice, clasping his hands together. “I’ve met a few of you folks. Usually on unpleasant terms, I’ll admit. And you’ve always had that makeup.” He gestured to Carolong’s face.
“Juggalo,” Honeydew murmured. Gioia nodded in agreement.
“Ah, you’re wondering about that?” Carolong tittered. “Well, nowadays most organizations don’t really stick much to a theme, so I get the confusion. Truthfully... The original ‘meaning’ of this look isn’t something that can be shared willy nilly. But most members find their own meaning in the makeup. For me, for instance, I think a ‘vulture’ and a ‘clown’ are practically the same thing.”
“Hm?” Vasant normally wasn’t the type to get confused, but that was a pretty confusing thing to say.
“What is a ‘vulture’, in the first place? A scavenger. And what is a scavenger, but something that preys upon a pre-existing misfortune to feed its own desires? A clown operates under the same simple basis. They prey upon sadness, unhappiness, a lack of ‘entertainment’, and feed on that. Of course, a clown’s relationship to its surroundings is far more symbiotic in nature, but you get the idea, don’t you?”
Vasant hesitated, and nodded. Slowly.
“See? Most people look at me like I’m saying something insane, but it’s a perfectly logical and sound stateme-”
They paused as a harsh noise interrupted the speech. A musical tone, screeching and electronic, intoned from their pocket. They were getting a phone call. The clown gave a light-hearted sigh, tittering quietly as they held up a single finger, before grabbing the phone and turning away from the members of Evergreen. They were, of course, still on Honeydew’s chair throughout all of this.
They talked indistinctly into their mobile device, a cheap flip phone that would have looked more appropriate a few decades ago. There wasn’t much any of them could make out besides “penguin on our turf”, “circus tent”, and “sure thing!”
They flipped the phone shut, looking over their shoulder. “It’s been a pleasure, folks, but I must be elsewhere. Always busy, nowadays. Aha-ha.”
With that, they jumped from Honeydew’s chair and back into the shadows- back out of sight, but not out of mind.
The room was silent for a solid ten seconds, as everyone took in the encounter and processed it.
“Rude,” Gioia complained. “I’ve fought serial killers with more class… But on the plus side, I think we’ve found our lead.” She turned to Honeydew, who has remained silent up until now.
“Honeydew… Think you could do me a favor and track that one down for me?”
She stayed silent, but those wide eyes of hers said everything they needed to.
For something with no real actual hierarchy beyond taking orders from the boss, VULTURE is a remarkably well organized group, to the point of essentially being a criminal organization. One could attribute its standing to the management prowess of its boss, but rather, it was the individual respect its members carried for each other that held the system in place. The members of VULTURE, no matter how cocky or inexperienced, all knew who was weak, and who was strong. The weak listened to the strong, but the strong cared for the weak. That was the unspoken rule that held VULTURE together, and made it so difficult to effectively strike at it.
Of course, it wasn’t like they were difficult to find. In the lawless land of Bedtown, there was no need for the many gangs to stay discrete. VULTURE hideouts never really felt like hideouts, all brightly decorated with painted scrap metal in an industrial twist on circus tents. They were always bustling, with loud music blaring from worn speakers, and the constant chatter of underlings that kept up late into the night.
If you wanted to find VULTURE, you usually didn’t have to look far.
At least, that was what poor Reese MacGuffin had been told. Following the death of Paris Aco, IMPACT had started having its own concerns. Sure, they weren’t the sort of organization that normally investigated crimes. But put that many Stand users in the same building, and they were bound to get involved when something truly heinous had gone down.
Reese wasn’t planning on a full raid, or anything. This was a surveillance run, and an opportunity to take the penguin for a walk–show lil’ Staccato the sights! Apparently, the penguin hadn’t spent much time in Bedtown, and Konan had insisted there was beauty to be found within.
The graffiti–which seemed to cover every other building–had occupied the penguin for a while. Staccato had even left a few of his own tags here and there. It was charming, and it was a good cover for what Reese was really there for.
Of course, he didn’t expect to turn around and find Staccato simply Not There anymore.
This is how his last thirty minutes had turned from a search for VULTURE hideouts to a search for a penguin who clearly had more important things to do than ‘be found’. At the end of it all, Reese fell to his knees, hands curled in his hair.
“Where’d you go, Staccato?”
A loud crash rang out in the distance. Reese perked up. Surely... Surely he hadn’t...
“Oh no.”
He absolutely had.
Staccato watched triumphantly as another VULTURE goon sailed into a nearby wall. The closest thing to a confident smirk that a penguin could have was plastered on his face. He had to respect the look of the place, and the look of the people in it (clown makeup was cool, he noted to himself), but that was where the gentoo’s respect ended.
They tried to pick him up and toss him out when he came in! What, was he supposed to be pleased about that?!
“Listen, man, we’re sorry!” another goon attempted to reason, backing away. “We didn’t mean ya any disrespect! C’mon!”
Staccato considered a cool response, but shook his head. This guy wasn’t worth tapping something out. His stand reeled back for another sweeping punch, to knock a few more goons away like bowling pins, but a pair of footsteps at the front door stopped him.
The penguin had been somewhat unfamiliar with the concept of a ‘Stand user’, and still hadn’t learned much more since. But, despite his sentience, Staccato was an animal. He retained an animal’s instincts. Animals could tell who was ‘strong’. This was how they stayed alive; that instinctual knowledge of who they stood a chance against and who they didn’t.
Right now, Staccato’s instincts made it very clear. The looming figure clad in a kaleidoscope of colors, pale green hair fluttering in the breeze, was strong.
“Greetings!” The figure waved, donning a signature cheshire grin. “I wasn’t sure if they were being serious when they said it was a penguin. I suppose that’s the benefit of a city like this, hmm? You meet all types.”
They bowed, in an overly theatrical manner.
“My name is Carolong Hellwalker. Could I have yours?”
Staccato hesitated, and began tapping.
“Ah! Staccato! A lovely name.” Carolong tittered, clasping their hands behind their back and stepping forwards. “It’s very rare that I’m able to understand someone who speaks a different language so fluently. Commendable! Though it truly is a shame that I’ll be escorting you out...”
Staccato moved into a fighting stance, and Carolong laughed in response. This guy was too cocky! He wasn’t one to get annoyed easily, but the way this clown carried themselves, the way they laughed everything off, and the way they backed it up with an aura of sheer strength... it was immensely frustrating.
A breeze drafted through, and Staccato bristled. Carolong had stopped talking, still in the same pose, waiting. Smiling. As if goading the penguin on, teasing him to come forth- before ducking out of the way just in time to avoid a flying motorcycle to the back of the head.
Vasant landed with a thump, skidding to a stop next to the gentoo.
“Wow! I wasn’t expecting that!” Carolong sprung back up, rubbing the back of their head. “I thought you’d follow me, but I didn’t think it’d be that fast. You’re good!”
“And you’re awfully good at not being followed.” Vasant cracked his knuckles, but the sound of frantic tapping dragged his attention away. There was...a penguin, standing next to him. He’d never seen one of those before. He nodded in acknowledgement.
“Well then. I don’t suppose you’ve come here to have... A Stand battle?” The two could hear the excitement in Carolong’s voice. This guy really wanted to do a Stand battle.
“Not particularly.” Vasant didn’t care for that much enthusiasm. “I have some questions I’d like to ask you, regarding your organization.”
“Not telling.”
“In that case, I suppose we’re having a Stand battle.” Vasant leaned forward on his bike. Staccato’s stand manifested, combat ready. Carolong... Didn’t do a thing, still standing in that same pose. It was off-putting.
“Mr... Penguin,” he whispered, still not taking his eyes off Carolong.
Staccato tapped out a response as subtly as it could.
“Staccato, yes. As you can see, this...person, is clearly expecting us to attack. Judging from their willingness to go in the line of fire, it’s clear that their Stand ability...will only activate if we attack them. We can’t rush in.”
Staccato nodded. That was probably true.
“What’re ya whispering about?” Carolong grinned. “What, you guys need a plan for lil’ old me? I’m just a little guy! Don’t tell me you’re scared of a little guy.”
Staccato’s eyebrow twitched.
It didn’t matter if it would activate their stand. He never let that stop him before! He’d go with the flow!
Staccato was off like a bullet, leaving Vasant to frantically motor after him. “What’d I just tell you! Don’t be rash!”
But Staccato wasn’t listening, too focused on making the approach- shooting through a buoy and rocketing towards Carolong, he crossed the gap between them in mere seconds, as Vasant barely followed on his motorcycle. Beneath the revving engine, the man cursed under his breath. This wasn’t the thoughtful approach he was hoping for - if he didn’t get that penguin away from Carolong, something bad would happen. He was certain of it.
What he realized a bit too late, though, was that something bad had already started happening. It took a bit too long to notice the harsh wind on his back, the way the ground beneath his wheels seemed to distort, the way the fabric of Carolong’s outfit seemed to stretch and shift-
He only fully noticed when the multicolor fabric shot forward, creating a massive maw of technicolor - and before he could brake, it slammed shut.
When Staccato awoke, things were...different, to say the least. The first thing he noticed was the music. Jaunty, festive music that wouldn't seem out of place at a carnival. Neither would his surroundings, the penguin thought, now that he was pushing himself up to see them. This place he was in, wherever it was, resembled a massive circus tent. At some point, the floor fell off into a massive pit, and beyond that was a crowded seating section. He couldn't make out the features of anyone sitting there.
"Ghh." He turned to Vasant, who was staring at him with some fairly unhidden disdain. Staccato considered tapping out an apology, but a familiar giggling cut off his thoughts.
"Welcome!" Carolong Hellwalker approached, a particular spring in their steps. "Make yourselves at home!"
"This was your plan all along, was it?" Vasant cut to the chase, dusting confetti off of his knees.
"Something along those lines, yes." They tittered, clicking their heels together. "I am an 'anglerfish', so to speak. Irresistibly beautiful and alluring, sure, but quite dangerous. To toot my own horn, at least."
"And I suppose, now that we're here, we're not getting out easily?"
"Ba-Bingo." Carolong made a wide, sweeping gesture. "This is my ⌈Wonderland Falling Tomorrow⌋. It's got a risky condition for use, sure, but there's no escape once you're inside. Quite the predicament! Huhuhu!"
Staccato watched, stress clear on his face. A cold dread grew within him. This place was danger. This place was confinement, and there was no way he could stand it. He needed to get out, he needed to beat this clown up, he needed to sing, to dance, to-
His eyes widened. Something about his thoughts was...shifting. These impulses, these instincts, they were not his own. He was a painter- a painter, not a singer.
Vasant noticed his foot beginning to tap, and stopped himself, grinding the heel into the floor beneath.
"It kicks in fast, doesn't it?" Carolong took notice immediately. "When in Rome, yes? That's the 'Stand Effect'. When you're in a circus, you perform. When you’re within my Stand, you really want to perform. Stay here too long, and you'll never want to leave."
"And what happens then?"
Carolong gestured to the figures in the audience, silently.
"A murder like that happening on VULTURE territory inevitably means attention comes to us. Truthfully, I've no idea if it was us or not. While it certainly matches her handiwork... Ah, I digress. Point is, I'm here to keep the attention off our backs. My apologies to you two, for being the message I have to send. Truly tragic."
The two were silent. This was bad. If Carolong wasn't lying about how their Stand worked, too much time here spelled doom, and there wasn't any obvious way to leave.
"I'm quite kind, though. So I'm willing to offer up a chance. I hope you won't waste it. You see, I'm quite the people watcher. I always enjoy seeing them react to being here... it brings out a fascinating desperation. But I want to push that further. Experiment. So here's the deal." They pointed at the two of them, grin wider than ever. "Entertain me! Fight amongst yourselves. Whoever wins gets to exit my magical realm! Ain't that something!"
Vasant hesitated. He'd never been one to harm animals. But this penguin was the reason he was here in the first place. And this was still a chance for information, no matter how bad things might seem.
Staccato, meanwhile, was immediately willing. Staying here was bad. He felt it deep in his bones. If he had to beat up some motorcyclist to get out... So be it.
Carolong vanished, reappearing in the audience stands, a bucket of popcorn in their hands. Not much prodding was needed. These two knew what was up.
"Hmm hmm~..." They giggled. "Well, that's that!"
"Open the Game!"
Location: The inside of Carolong Hellwalker’s stand, ⌈Wonderland Falling Tomorrow⌋. The arena manifests as a giant circus tent. The arena itself is a large circle (30 meters wide with 1x1m squares), surrounded by a massive pit on all sides. Falling into the pit is an instant RETIRE. The floor is covered by confetti, the occasional balloon floats slightly off the ground, and jaunty circus music is always playing.
The orange shapes on the east are a ramp ascending to a height of 5 meters through a ring of fire, and a similar bridge ramp to the west that dangles precariously off stage. The gray line is a 7m high tightrope connecting platforms with ladders reaching to that height. The green squares are a balloon and popcorn machine respectively. At the center of the map is a 2m tall ball pit with 7m high diveboards to the sides of it; in the middle of the ball pit is a long wooden pole that seems to stretch up forever. The blue shapes are cannons which players came aim, enter, and fire themselves out of. Affixed to the edges of the arena are spotlights shining upwards (but visibility will remain constant).
Goal: RETIRE your opponent!
Additional Information: For some reason, both players have access to unicycles near their starting locations.
Team Combatant JoJolity
I.M.P.A.C.T. Stacatto ”It can’t incur damage, it can’t control people, it can’t hurt them, it can’t make people fall asleep...It can’t do any of that. It just makes people angry.” This arena you’ve found yourself in is having a strange effect on your mind... You don’t mind it that much, though. After all, you were gonna put on a show anyway! Be as entertaining as possible throughout the match!
Evergreen Vasant Bulsara “..?! What? ...Kill? Did I just think that? What is this feeling that’s flaring up inside of me...?” This place is dangerous to not just the body, but also the mind. You have to get out of here fast, sure... But while you’re here, you might as well give in to that newfound compulsion, right? Be as entertaining as possible throughout the match!
Link to Official Player Spreadsheet
Link to Match Schedule
As always, if you would like to interact with the tournament community and be among the first to get updates for the tournament, please feel free to PM a member of our Judge staff for an invite to our Official Discord Server!
submitted by Logic_Sandwich to StardustCrusaders [link] [comments]

2023.12.04 20:34 Awkward-Technology58 Now do you believe it?

Aidan Chiles will be gone. Martinez just might stay, but he's not going to be the same player with a new offensive line. The entire roster will soon be decimated. This is what I've been saying, although there are a lot of delusional Beav fanatics that can't admit reality. One poster laughed at the possibility of the Beavs going 2-9 next year with the weaker schedule. They actually might over-achieve if they go 2-9 with a complete shell of a roster. I was being serious when I said that Linfield might be able to beat them. Talking to a fairly major donor, he said that Barnes and the entire athletic department is a complete clown show at this time. They were flat-footed in reacting to the Pac-12 demise, and it's costing the Beavs and their future. The team has lost 4 of 15 recruits already, and I was told it's not likely to keep more than a couple of them. The decommitments will be coming fast. No decent player will transfer to OSU. The team will have plenty of walk-ons, but it's going to be a very sad affair for the foreseeable future. Men's basketball, women's basketball and baseball will start their downfall soon. I welcome your honesty if you can admit that I'm right, but I know most fans will refuse to believe the obvious.
submitted by Awkward-Technology58 to oregonstate [link] [comments]

2023.12.04 16:35 ToggleFinance Daily Brief - 🌩️ S&P 500 - why so calm?

Daily Brief - 🌩️ S&P 500 - why so calm?
TLDR: After a battering since the summer, bulls have had a lot of reason to give thanks at Thanksgiving. The November rally has seen the market make up the lost ground, and no end in sight for further increase. It was the second best November since 1980. What’s going on?
Actually, just as remarkable as the recovery in stock prices has been the calm manner in which it’s happened. Beneath the adrenaline rush of November’s stock-market surge is an eerie calm that could herald more gains for stocks.
As the Bloomberg article points out, the average daily move in the S&P 500 was around 0.3% last week, up or down, either direction last week, its tamest swings in half a year. The CBOE Volatility Index, aka the “Fear Gauge”, fell toward the year’s lowest levels by Friday afternoon.
Well, Chair Powell last week more or less confirmed what the bond market already knew - the hiking cycle is finished. That’s a huge victory for the bulls and lets them focus on, well, interest rate cuts … when and how much.
And December isn’t exactly the month when stocks crash. Going back all the way to 1950, it’s been the third-best month of the year for the S&P 500, with an average 1.4% gain.
The narrow nature of the rally might be a fly in the ointment. We have never had so few stocks lead a market that rallied 15%. And the RSI, a favored measure of oversold/overbought momentum, is also flashing a warning sign: the benchmark’s 14-day relative strength index jumped from dramatically oversold to equally dramatically overbought … in a month.
If these are at all a concern, investors aren’t showing it. The VIX futures curve shows zero evidence of crash-protection demand. In fact, it’s lower now than it was at the start of the monster November rally.

What's happening in the markets?

This section is powered by Open AI connected to TOGGLE AI
The S&P 500 is hovering just 5% below its all-time peak.
Notably, the S&P's 14-day RSI?view=chart) has surpassed the 90 mark, indicating an "overbought" condition historically associated with potential downside risk over a one-week timeframe.
The trajectory of the market in the coming days is likely to hinge on the release of the week's upcoming labor data. Anticipations are running high for a further cooling of economic data, evident in traders increasingly factoring in rate cuts by March 2024.
Such elevated expectations pose a potential vulnerability for the market. Notably, three mega-cap stocks – Procter & Gamble, UnitedHealth Group, and Berkshire Hathaway B – are currently trading at the upper bounds of their respective ranges.

Aggregated Leading Indicators!

Monday TLI update
Subscribe to Pro here to receive our pre-market Leading Indicator newsletter and access all Leading Indicators online!
Learn more about the Leading Indicators in the Learn Center!

Earnings Update: NIO reports tomorrow
Another earnings miss would be detrimental for the stock that is already trading near its 52-week low, unless the company can report a turnaround in volumes amid a competitive Chinese EV market.
Discover how other companies could react post earnings with the help of TOGGLE's WhatIF Earnings tool.

Asset Spotlight: Overbought Coca Cola?
Toggle's analyzed 6 similar occasions in the past where Coca Cola priced jumped over a month and historically this led to a median decrease in the stock's price over the following 3 months.

General Interest: Like a reel, buy a ticket
Back in Aug 2022, TikTok initiated a partnership with Ticketmaster, allowing US users to directly buy tickets for events without having to leave the app.
TikTok and Ticketmaster are now expanding their partnership into 20 new countries such as the UK and all over the EU.
Pretty cool, but TikTok is actually not the first major platform to enable such a feature.
Read more on Techcrunch.
submitted by ToggleFinance to toggleAI [link] [comments]

2023.12.04 14:35 GypsumF18 The man in the rain

It was 6:15 on a dark winter morning, I had just finished the night shift at the old-people’s home and waited for my bus. At first I wasn’t sure if he was a man or a ghost. Through the bus stop window he was just a grey blur in the middle of the road. I had to lean out into the heavy rain to see him more clearly. He must have been in his eighties, wearing a woollen cardigan over striped blue pyjamas and slippers. The rain left him completely sodden, and slicked down the grey hair around his bald crown. His face was grey and sullen, he stared downward, distracted and oblivious to his situation.
I called out to him, “Are you ok?”
After a delay he looked up at me. His eyes squinted in confusion as if I had just woken him from a deep sleep. He paused to think, then looked down at the ground again, returning to his stupor. I have seen that look before in years of working with the elderly. I popped my umbrella up and jogged out towards him.
He was taller than I expected, I'm only a short woman so I find it hard to estimate, but he may have been 6 foot 4 even with his back stooped over as it was. He must have been imposing in his prime, but those days seemed long gone. He didn’t even react when I held the umbrella over him to stop the rain.
“Are you ok?” I asked again.
Eventually he replied, “I’m a bit wet.”
“Yes. Do you need some help?” I asked rhetorically. “Where do you need to go?”
He glanced up and down the street, paused thoughtfully looking at the end of the street, then lapsed back into silence. He had been looking towards a large red brick Victorian house set behind an overgrown garden at the very end of the road. Its front door had been left wide open.
“That big house?” I asked, “Did you want me to take you there?”. He nodded.
I took his arm and slowly guided him onto the footpath and up towards the house. His slippers squelched as we walked, but he made a faster pace than I was expecting. People with dementia can have episodes where they forget their pain and become physically capable of more than they should be able to. A lady who was barely able to walk once went missing from our home and was found by police having walked a mile into town. So I kept him at a steady pace to stop him from overdoing it.
“Do you live alone?” I asked.
“Yes.” he replied quickly, “I am not looking for a wife.”
I laughed but he seemed serious. “Any children?”
He looked up and ahead to the house, then back to the ground deep in thought, “No.”
I walked him through the open garden gate, carefully picking a route down the overgrown path, and past the thick wooden front door. The house was dark and cold. Streetlights filtered through the doorway and the stained glass window above it. I closed the door behind me and it slammed with an unexpectedly heavy clunk. The back of the door didn’t just have a normal latch, but a spring-loaded vertical iron bar that dropped down into a recess in the floor. This old, homemade mechanism was supported by three thick, square bolts on the top, bottom and side. At that time it didn’t seem too unusual for an elderly man living alone to have such security measures.
To the right of the hallway was a dusty table, on top sat a stack of unopened letters. The old man had wandered off. I called out to ask if there was anyone he wanted me to call, any relatives or carers, but again there was no reply. Soon I could hear him shuffling around upstairs. The name on the letters was Mr Arthur Trevelion.
I checked my phone and tried to call the police on the non-emergency 101 line. But inside the old house there was no signal. I called out that I would just step out to make a call. When I tried to lift the lever on the heavy iron door mechanism I couldn’t, it was so heavy it barely shifted. Suddenly, without a sound Arthur had appeared behind me and leaned close. He reached over my shoulder and thick fingers grasped the bar, wrenching it upwards with ease and pulling the door ajar to let me out.
I thanked him and leaned out of the door, a couple of bars of reception came up on my phone and I dialled 101 again. I told them the situation and explained I just wanted to see if they knew anyone that could come and check on him. I was transferred through to someone to take the details.
While on hold waiting for the next operator, I could hear Arthur moving things inside the house. It sounded like heavy furniture dragging along floorboards in various rooms, amidst occasional thuds. It sounded like he was searching for something. I heard more furniture being moved downstairs, followed by a disconcerting silence.
“Hello, how can I help?” said the voice from the phone.
I was torn between losing reception and going to check on Arthur, so I blurted out the address, Arthur’s full name, and what had happened. I told the operator I was going to check on him because he’s gone quiet, but may lose reception. They said they would stay on the line while checking their system for more details.
I left the front door ajar and moved down the hallway searching for Arthur. It was dark, lined with faded olive green wallpaper which was peeling off the walls. Stacks of newspapers neatly bundled and tightly bound with twine were piled against the walls, at some points as high as the ceiling. It felt like squeezing into a cave. The hallway opened out to a filthy kitchen where smaller stacks of loose newspapers leaned against the wall. The windows had been pasted over with layers of old newspaper, yellowed with age, that only allowed a faint light through. A layer of grime covered everything, the cooker hob and worktop were black with thick grease. Parts of the chessboard tiled floor had a dusty grey hue, except for trails swept clear by scuffed footprints, and an arcing scrape which swept from the wall to an old heavy wooden shelving unit that sat jutting into the room. Behind where the shelves once stood was a black void in the wall, which emitted a faint, rotten smell.
“Are you still there?” the operator said on the phone, startling me into silence, “The line keeps cutting-” they said, after a moment they came back, “Can you hear me?”
“Yes. Talk quickly, I have no reception.”
“It may be nothing to worry about, but stay on the line with me and head outside.” The operator said.
“Oh.” I said, processing what this could mean. “I’ll say goodbye to Arthur.”
“No.” The operator said with urgency, “Arthur has some history which may be a cause for concern. Just go. Stay on the line.”
I heard the metallic clunk of the front door closing behind me, but saw no sign of Arthur. My nose searched for the smell, struggling to identify it. As my eyes adjusted to the light the black void in the wall had formed into a doorway. Within it, a roughly made staircase led down into the pitch black. I turned and suddenly Arthur was behind me, a towering silhouette.
“I have to go outside.” I said as calmly as I could. I waved the phone in front of him with a disarming smile, “No signal.”
“No. Hannah.” he said quietly. “Don’t go.”
Who was Hannah? “That’s not my name. I just-”
“NO.” Arthur said, in a burst of agitation, “You can not go.” His face was just a shadow but I could sense his anger. I could feel his rasping breath, hot against my face. His eyes began to glisten, gently reflecting the dim light from the covered windows and making them the only part of his face that was visible. For a moment he looked like a wolf approaching its prey from the treeline.
“I won’t go. I just need to step outside the door.”
Then he grabbed me. Two huge hands gripped my shoulders and twisted me around like I was nothing more than a doll. My phone dropped to the floor. “No. I need you…” he trailed off into a thoughtful pause. He became agitated again, frustrated with himself, like he was struggling to find the right words. “Go!” he shouted, and shoved me towards the dark staircase.
I stumbled forwards and down the first couple of steps, only preventing a fall by grabbing the roughly cut plank that acted as a bannister. I felt my way into the darkness, finding the uneven steps creaking and swaying beneath me. When Arthur followed, the staircase shuddered. Torchlight flicked on behind me and guided me into a cellar obscured by swaying shadows. The odour of decay grew as we descended.
Once we had both reached the bottom I saw the cellar was small and narrow, like Arthur had dug it out himself. He walked around me and shone the torch upon a central table. At first I thought it was draped in a sheet with some waxy sheen that shimmered as the torchlight swayed. Then I noticed something poking out from the surface, a white cage perched on a black mass with a pale grey dome behind it. A child’s skeleton embedded in decomposed flesh.
I turned to Arthur. I wanted to scream ‘What the fuck!’ but when I looked at him he was fixated by the corpse. In an instant, I decided to just run. I sprinted up the dark stairs. My legs pumped manically, regardless of any missed step, scraping my shins repeatedly. When I got to the top I dashed through the doorway and lunged sideways through the narrow tunnel of newspapers. I clipped the right hand side with my back. It spun me forwards and a column of paper bundles collapsed onto my back, trapping my legs. I looked back at the cellar door, but there was no sign of Arthur.
I lifted one bundle of newspapers which trapped my foot and kicked the rest free. Where the dust had been shaken loose I saw all the papers were identical old copies of the local ‘Herald’ newspaper. Before me more of the same newspapers had collapsed into my path, bundled as they would have been delivered to the shops. Dominating the front page was the story of a missing eight year old girl, Hannah Marshall. The papers looked old, maybe from the eighties, but I had neither the light nor the time to check. I clambered over them and ran to the front door, my thighs burning with fatigue, to be confronted by the antiquated series of heavy iron bolts and the bar that I had been unable to move earlier.
As I wrestled with the bolts, slowly edging them open in agonising increments, I noticed small scratches in the wood around the ironwork. Tiny marks made in an animalistic desperation to escape. I eventually managed to get the three bolts open, and then worked on the great iron vertical bar. I wrapped both hands around it, wrenching upwards with all my strength. I kept checking over my shoulder, but there was still no sign Arthur had emerged from the cellar. I pulled up until my hands were raw. The bar became slippery, I looked down to see the palms of both hands streaked with blood. I had no grip on the bar, and no strength left to move it.
Then flashing blue lights filtered through the stained glass window overhead. I banged on the door and shouted out for help, but every noise was swallowed by its thick wood. My cries petered out to a sigh. Then a large hand appeared over my shoulder, grasping the iron bar with thick fingers. I turned to face Arthur, ready to fight him off however much I could, then I saw his face, his eyes were red, his cheeks streaked with tear tracks. Arthur lifted the bar with relative ease, and pulled the door open. He moved aside, and let me out.
I looked up at his face in the morning light. He was expressionless. Tear tracks lined his cheeks. But it looked as if he had forgotten why he was crying. He looked with bemusement out at the flashing blue lights of the police car outside. I squeezed past him and ran down the garden path towards the approaching police officer. I tried to explain what had happened, but it must have just sounded like a garbled outburst.
The officer, a large man in his fifties, walked past me and called out towards the house, “Harold, what are you doing back here?”
“I think his name is Arthur.” I tried to interject.
The officer shook off my comment, and kept his attention towards the elderly man, “Mr Marshall! What are you doing here?”
I started to realise, to finally understand this bizarre sequence of events. Maybe, if I wasn’t straight off a night shift at work, I may have recognised it sooner. Maybe not.
Harold Marshall looked blankly at the officer, “I… I don’t recall. Sorry.”
But he did when he took me into that house, when he searched the house and found the hidden door already open from his previous visit, when he had to show me the cellar with desperate urgency before his fleeting lucidity passed once again to blissful forgetfulness. He had to show me that child on the table, he had to show me his daughter, Hannah Marshall, before the memory faded again. He had to get someone to see, someone who could remember, to show everyone what Arthur Trevelion, the real Arthur, had done all those years ago. My heart ached for Harold, but in that moment he had forgotten his pain again. I explained what happened to the officer out of Harold’s earshot. I didn’t want to remind him. To make him relive the nightmare of his daughter who went missing over forty years ago. He must have already lived that moment a thousand times.
Arthur died months ago of natural causes, his house left abandoned during an inheritance dispute. He never faced justice, in fact he was celebrated as a pillar of the community. An officer later told me Arthur was Harold’s boss, he owned the old ironworks. His wealth and social status, and no small element of corruption, likely helped him avoid suspicion during the initial search for Hannah, especially as he had a police record for violence against women, and a reputation amongst his employees as a callous and spiteful man. Arthur further hindered the search by buying up, or stealing, the local newspapers that circulated her photo. Back then there weren’t many other ways to spread the news.
Maybe Harold always suspected him, and that suspicion remained buried deep in his mind even after dementia had taken hold. When he heard Arthur had died it made that memory surface. It may have taken countless attempts, but in defiance of his ageing body and failing mind Harold never gave up. He got into Arthur’s house, eventually he had found the hidden cellar. He had finally found his daughter.
I still wonder how many times that cycle happened only to be forgotten again. Repeating and reliving a nightmare only for his memory to reset his progress and betray the relentless desire to find his little girl. At least now he will never have to face that moment again. When fragments of the past appear, like driftwood in a tumultuous sea, I hope it is only joyful memories that wash ashore. Now he deserved to be able to put that memory to rest.
submitted by GypsumF18 to nosleep [link] [comments]

2023.12.04 12:59 Sea_Temperature_8423 This is what it was like. An abortion in GA, 2002 style.

I don’t remember the moment I found out I was pregnant. I don’t remember the test in my hand or any feeling about it.
I remember calling clinics. First I called a practice that said I was too far along for the ru-486 pill. It was not widely available yet and access was very limited in my area. You couldn’t take it after the six week mark. I said I’m six weeks pregnant; the woman on the phone said you’re six and a half. So then I called the closest surgical abortion clinic I could find. It was in Atlanta and I lived more than an hour away and shared a car.
I said to the lady on the phone, well, I need an abortion please and she said ok, how far along are you and I told her. She punched around some numbers on a keyboard and bluntly said we can get you in a little over a month from now.
Me, stunned: a month? I’ll be- so much more pregnant in a month- and the lady says take it or leave it and hangs up.
I call a couple other clinics, no one can get me in sooner, everyone finds it important to remind me my insurance won’t pay. So I call the first one back. Now the earliest available appointment will put my abortion at 12 weeks gestation.
I do have feelings about this. There is a difference between having a six week embryo to flush and having an actual fetus growing toward the second trimester- and jesus fucking christ what if they call back to tell me they have to move the appointment- but those feelings do not approach the sharp intensity of the get the fuck out of my body sheer terror.
It’s my option. Almost like a choice except that word implies competing paths, when really there is only one.
So, I will cut out all the awful shit happening with the father of this baby, but there is a ton of it. The day of the abortion he didn’t want to drive me, we had huge fights leading up to it. He said it was my problem and he didn’t want anything to do with it, but I had to have his help. The clinic won’t perform the abortion if you don’t have someone to drive you home. He did not want me to remain pregnant. He finally agreed to sleep in the car to fulfill the legal requirement if I drove and went in by myself. So he got in the passenger seat angrily and went to sleep, and I drove to Atlanta.
The outside of the clinic was grimy, institutional looking, near downtown I think- it’s odd, having now lived in Atlanta most of the time since, everything looks different. But on this day in 2002 I was in a foreign land. I walked through a glass door and I was in a large waiting room. It felt more like a hospital inside than a doctor’s office.
There was a horrifyingly inappropriate episode of a soap opera playing on the waiting room television, in which a woman “debated” the choice of whether to keep her beloved unplanned fetus that of course she kept, and I wanted to laugh at the absurdity of it all. Too many women seemed truly uncomfortable so I stayed quiet.
Maybe they couldn’t get appointments scheduled either. It does feel different now, and the gestational progress of my pregnancy is always in the forefront of my mind. I realize the date of conception is determined by last menstruation and can be off two weeks in either direction. Could I be 14 weeks pregnant? Could I see the sex of this baby on an ultrasound? Will I feel it kick me the first time while I sit here in the waiting room?
I thought to myself, these motherfuckers better hurry the fuck up or I’m going to be delivering a full term baby in their waiting room and running out the back door like… a man, lol.
I’m not keeping this baby. I’m not letting it be born and I’m not taking care of it. That’s the real choice, the only real choice: the baby or me. I choose me.
This clinic was run like an assembly line. A nurse opened the door, called my patient number and many others, fourteen-twenty of us moved from the waiting room to the sedation room. We all got cups of pills. No one said much, one girl was young (to my eyes- and I was only 20) and crying quietly, everyone else looked tired. Resigned. I mostly felt panic. I was afraid it wouldn’t work.
A short time later more nurses came and took us through a door leading to the surgery room. We each lay down in a bed, rows of beds. A doctor comes by and does the ultrasound. My pregnancy is measuring 10.5 weeks. Relief- 10 weeks isn’t 6 but it isn’t 14, either- and this will work.
I asked to see the ultrasound. The doctor asked why. I said I like to know the truth of what I’m doing. He said we don’t show ultrasounds to patients. This still bothers me, so many years later. I understand. I was sedated in surgical prep and had already given informed consent and I wasn’t alone in there so even if I saw mine and was like huh, ok, good to know, about my ultrasound — the next woman could react differently — I get it, I get it.
I really just wanted to say farewell. Better luck in the next world little baby. So I feel like that doctor denied me the chance to look in a casket and acknowledge there was life and now it’s gone.
After the ultrasounds were done, two doctors went down the rows of beds and in my twilight it seemed like they gave us a scoop, scoop, scoop for each uterus. Really I think I saw something like vacuum tubes, like at the dentist, almost — the memories of anesthesia are not clear. Then all of us were up again, guided to the recovery room and given juice and crackers like children. After a while in the dark we could leave.
Those anonymous women in there who shared this very strange experience with me- I wonder about them still. I have one wish I want to grant them. It is my hope that at the end of their bizarre and traumatizing mornings when they walked back outside sore and bleeding under the blue, blue sky, that each of them felt what I felt: free.
And if they couldn’t feel it then, I hope they feel it now. Free, not from a future child but because for many of us, we were freed from the fathers.
submitted by Sea_Temperature_8423 to offmychest [link] [comments]

2023.12.04 12:09 coin_insider Immediate Bitwave Review 2023: Is It Legit Or A Scam?

Our verdict is that Immediate Bitwave has proven to be a legitimate and helpful trading platform and we can highly recommend both new and experienced traders to use it to help optimise their trading experience.

What Is Immediate Bitwave?

Introducing Immediate Bitwave™, an advanced cryptocurrency trading robot driven by cutting-edge technology, AI, and mathematical algorithms, ensuring continuous 24/7 analysis of the cryptocurrency market. This legitimate trading bot is suitable for traders of all skill levels, simplifying the trading process by eliminating manual tasks. With its user-friendly interface and impressive track record, it’s a top choice for cryptocurrency enthusiasts.
Dive into Immediate Bitwave™ for profitable trading, taking advantage of features like a complimentary demo account, fast deposit and withdrawal options, and round-the-clock customer support. Emphasizing security and compliance through partnerships with licensed brokers and SSL certification, Immediate Bitwave distinguishes itself with its advanced AI capabilities, providing a dependable and efficient solution for cryptocurrency trading.

Type: AI Trading Software
Profit Close Rate: 85%+
Registration: Free (With Verification)
Verification: Under 10 Minutes
Initial Deposit: EUR 250
Regulatory Body: CySEC (Liquidity)
Withdrawal Time: 24 Hours
Automated Trading: Yes
Order Execution Time: Less than 1ms
User Data Encryption: Yes (AES 256-bit)

How We Reviewed Immediate Bitwave:

At Coin Insider, we implement a rigorous process to provide our readers with the most comprehensive and well-informed review of Immediate Bitwave. Our standards have evolved over the years, shaped by extensive testing of various crypto trading bots, which we rigorously apply when assessing Immediate Bitwave. Our evaluation commences with in-depth research on Immediate Bitwave before proceeding to thorough testing, with meticulous documentation of our findings. These discoveries serve as the foundation for our detailed Immediate Bitwave review. To ensure our readers access the latest information, both the report and review undergo regular updates and reviews.We strive to provide you with the latest insights into this trading system, enabling you to make well-informed decisions. We conduct a series of tests against a set of standards that we’ve developed over the years of testing crypto trading bots.

How Does Immediate Bitwave Work?

Using advanced technology and sophisticated AI algorithms, Immediate Bitwave functions as an automated trading tool designed to navigate the ever-changing cryptocurrency markets on behalf of its users. By continuously analysing the crypto market round the clock, this platform employs intricate mathematical algorithms to detect lucrative trading opportunities. Trades are executed with precision and accuracy, effectively eliminating the risks associated with human error and emotional decision-making.
The bot strictly adheres to a predetermined strategy, eliminating the need for customisation. Users can periodically evaluate the bot’s performance and make necessary adjustments as needed. Immediate Bitwave is easily accessible through web browsers and supports a wide range of cryptocurrencies, including popular options like Bitcoin. To ensure transparency and avoid legal complications, the platform has established partnerships with brokers licensed by CySEC.
For beginners, Immediate Bitwave offers a demo account to facilitate familiarisation with automated trading. With its user-friendly interface and efficient trading capabilities, Immediate Bitwave streamlines and optimises the trading experience for both novice and experienced traders.

What We Rated Immediate Bitwave:

Sign-up process: 4.8/5

We experienced how beginner-friendly and easy it is for anyone to complete the official Immediate Bitwave registration process to begin crypto trading.

Deposits and withdrawals: 4.7/5

It was easy for us to make fast deposits and withdrawals with Immediate Bitwave. Immediate Bitwave also welcomes a range of different payment methods.

Available assets and ways to trade: 4.6/5

Trading with Immediate Bitwave is not limited to popular cryptocurrencies. Immediate Bitwave has a large variety of coins to trade with in addition to main coins such as Bitcoin and Ethereum.

Customer service: 4.9/5

If you are a beginner and you want to start trading but need assistance, Immediate Bitwave is a great option. Immediate Bitwave caters for both new and experienced traders and will never leave you in the dark thanks to its 24/7 customer care department.

Security and regulation: 4.6/5

Immediate Bitwave has proven to us to be a trustworthy trading tool because your personal information is kept safe with an SSL certificate. In addition to this, Immediate Bitwave works with CySEC-licensed brokers to ensure all your trading is done legally.

Is Immediate Bitwave A Scam Or Legit?

As technology is evolving at such a rapid pace, you will be faced with so many options when trying to find a suitable crypto trading platform that meets your needs. All these different trading apps and platforms can be overwhelming and it can be even more daunting to actually choose which one to put your faith to trade for you. You might be wondering – is Immediate Bitwave Immediate Bitwave legit? We can confirm that Immediate Bitwave is a safe and legitimate trading platform and not a scam.
It’s understandable that with the number of scams out there, it can be tricky to know who you can trust and who is a scam. When it comes to Immediate Bitwave you can be assured that you are in dealing with legitimate trading software. Immediate Bitwave has partnered with CySEC licensed brokers to help manage your account and help you navigate your way through trading in the volatile cryptocurrency market. Your safety is a big priority, and for this reason, your personal information is protected by an SSL certificate on this trading system.
Even when the trading is being done on your behalf, dealing with cryptocurrencies may be somewhat scary for a new trader. It’s only natural for you to have numerous questions or concerns, which is why Immediate Bitwave has a customer service centre that operates 24/7 to make sure your requirements are met at all times and you are never left in the dark.
In addition to positive reviews of Immediate Bitwave, there are lots of online testimonials of users who have been satisfied with Immediate Bitwave trading and the profits it has made for them. The rest of this Immediate Bitwave 2023 review will touch on other aspects that add to the legitimacy of this product.

Immediate Bitwave Key Features And Differentiators

What we saw was that when choosing a trading bot, there are many products to choose from to help you trade. The Immediate Bitwave system offers a range of impressive features for its users. We have highlighted a few key features that make trading with Immediate Bitwave a great option to consider when starting your trading journey. Below you can find what we experienced makes using Immediate Bitwave stand out from other trading software on the market.

User-friendly Interface

The main purpose of Immediate Bitwave is to make your life easier. It has been designed to be very easy to use, even for beginners. At the same time, it provides advanced features that experienced traders need. So, whether you are new to trading or have experience, Immediate Bitwave offers a user-friendly interface that meets your needs.

Place Trades Simultaneously

Because Immediate Bitwave trades on your behalf, multiple trades can take place simultaneously thanks to the sophisticated algorithm and use of artificial intelligence. This is a helpful feature of the trading robot because it saves you time. Having personally tested Immediate Bitwave, I can attest to its efficiency and effectiveness in executing trades. The automated trading system flawlessly executed multiple trades on my behalf, optimising my trading strategies and saving me valuable time and effort.

Emotion-free Trading

As mentioned earlier, Immediate Bitwave is a fully computerised trading robot which means the risk of human error when placing trades has been eliminated. This makes it safe to trade and ensures trading on the cryptocurrency market without emotion or impulse.

Zero Licensing Cost

Immediate Bitwave does not charge you licensing fees, the only required fee is your 250 Euro minimum deposit which simultaneously acts as your capital for your first trades. Having personally experienced Immediate Bitwave, I found the absence of additional licensing fees to be a refreshing aspect of the platform. The minimum deposit requirement served as an accessible starting point, allowing me to immediately begin trading with my own capital. This straightforward fee structure adds to the overall affordability and convenience of using Immediate Bitwave for cryptocurrency trading.

High Profitability

Because your Immediate Bitwave trading account scans the cryptocurrency market and makes your decisions for you, your profits can be high without you having to know how to trade successfully.

Trade Multiple Cryptocurrencies

Immediate Bitwave offers a diverse range of cryptocurrencies for trading, including popular ones like Bitcoin and lesser-known exotic cryptocurrencies. During my exploration of Immediate Bitwave, I was amazed by the platform’s versatility in supporting a wide variety of digital assets. It provided me with access to an extensive selection of cryptocurrencies, enabling me to diversify my trading portfolio and explore opportunities beyond mainstream coins. Whether I aimed to trade well-established coins or delve into emerging projects, Immediate Bitwave proved to be a valuable platform for cryptocurrency enthusiasts and traders looking for exposure to different digital assets.

SSL Certified

In the interest of transparency, we have partnered with CySEC-licensed brokers to serve almost like an account manager to ensure all your trading is done by the book to avoid legal issues. The involvement of CySEC-licensed brokers provided an additional layer of confidence and security in my trading activities. Knowing that my trades were being executed in compliance with regulatory standards and best practices helped me feel assured that my investments were being handled professionally and responsibly. This commitment to transparency and adherence to legal requirements further solidified my trust in Immediate Bitwave as a reliable and trustworthy trading platform.

Quick Withdrawals

When trading with Immediate Bitwave, once you complete your withdrawal form, withdrawals can be made within the space of 24 hours for your convenience using your preferred payment method. During my own experience using the Immediate Bitwave app, I found the withdrawal process to be swift and hassle-free. After submitting my withdrawal request, I received my funds in a timely manner, usually within 24 hours. The flexibility to choose my preferred payment method further enhanced the convenience of the platform. Whether I preferred bank transfers, credit/debit cards, or e-wallets, Immediate Bitwave accommodated my preferences, making the withdrawal process seamless and efficient. This swift withdrawal feature provided an added level of convenience, allowing me to access my funds quickly and efficiently when needed.

Customer Support Department

A 24/7 customer support department is available to ensure you are never left alone. The Immediate Bitwave team will make sure your automated trading bot serves you well. This is one of the many great features of Immediate Bitwave because it means beginners can feel at ease with auto trading. I found Immediate Bitwave‘s customer support team to be highly responsive and dedicated. Whether I had inquiries about the platform’s features, needed assistance with setting up my automated trading bot, or encountered any issues, the customer support team was available around the clock to provide guidance and support. This level of support was particularly valuable for beginners like me, as it offered reassurance and peace of mind, knowing that help was readily available whenever needed.

Demo Trading Account

Another great feature of this automated trading platform is that it offers its users a demo trading account to get the hang of trading with this trading account. The fact that Immediate Bitwave offers a demo account means that beginners can familiarise themselves with auto trading before investing lots of funds. We recommend using the demo account before jumping into live trading. During my own exploration of Immediate Bitwave, I found the availability of a demo account to be an invaluable tool for gaining confidence and understanding the platform’s functionalities. The demo account allowed me to practice and test various trading strategies without risking real funds. This feature is highly recommended for beginners as it provides a risk-free environment to learn and hone their trading skills before transitioning to live trading.

Get Started With Immediate Bitwave

The account setup process for Immediate Bitwave was seamless and fast. Below is a step-by-step guide to creating your personal Immediate Bitwave account. We’ve managed to team up with Immediate Bitwave so you can register your interest directly from Coin Insider to get access to your demo account. I was impressed by how effortless and user-friendly the account setup process was. The platform provided clear instructions and guided me through each step, ensuring a smooth registration process. It only took about 20 minutes of my time.

1. Registration Form

First, you’ll need to fill in the registration form below with your basic information. It is important to make sure you fill in the correct info as there is a verification process in place for your safety.

2. Initial Deposit

Next, you will need to make a deposit. You will need to make a minimum deposit of 250 Euros to get your account started and running. Remember, this minimum deposit will also act as your capital and will be used to make your first trades with Immediate Bitwave.

3. Demo and Live Trading

Once you have made your minimum deposit, You will be provided with a demo account to get the hang of trading and how the product works. Once you are familiar with the demo account and you feel ready, you can move on to auto-trading with the trading bot and start gaining some profits.

Tips For Making The Most Of Immediate Bitwave

If used properly, Immediate Bitwave‘s technology can make your life much easier when it comes to cryptocurrency trading. There are a lot of Immediate Bitwave pros to consider when choosing your trading tool of choice. Here is some advice to help you optimise your experience when using Immediate Bitwave.

Utilise Your Account Broker

Immediate Bitwave has partnered up with CySEC-licensed brokers to ensure you get the best support for your account. Your broker’s knowledge is a great resource to help you set up and maintain your account with Immediate Bitwave to ensure the best possible experience when you trade.

Invest The Minimum At First

A 250 EUR minimum deposit is required to start trading with Immediate Bitwave. This initial deposit will also act as your capital and will be used to make your first trades with Immediate Bitwave.

Withdraw Your Profits Regularly

It would be beneficial to keep in mind that your profits generated by Immediate Bitwave should be withdrawn on a regular basis. Profits can be withdrawn into your bank account or transferred to another digital wallet of your choice.

Spend 20 Minutes On Your Account Daily

Immediate Bitwave is pretty low maintenance, but it works best when you spend 2o minutes or so a day on your account to monitor activity and to stay on top of what is happening with your account.

Invest Responsibly

When trading with Immediate Bitwave, it is your responsibility to trade responsibly and only invest additional money that you have at your disposal, you should never invest money that you are reliant on due to the unpredictable nature of the crypto market.

Keep Track Of Your Transactions

Your account statements can be downloaded directly from your Immediate Bitwave account. As you start making profits, you could be liable to pay taxes on these profits and for that, you will require these documents so it is important to download your transactions regularly.

Immediate Bitwave Pros & Cons

Below is a quick overview of the advantages and disadvantages of the Immediate Bitwave platform. This highlights the basic pros and cons of Immediate Bitwave in summary.

Pros Cons
Demo Mode (With Deposit) Requires Quick Phone Call To Verify Account
High Quality Market Signals Feed Requires Minor Daily Admin
No Software License Fee
No Withdrawal Fees
100% Platform Uptime SLA
Trade From 150+ Countries

The Brief History Of Crypto And Immediate Bitwave

The buzz around cryptocurrency started in 2008 when a group of people under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto published the Bitcoin white paper, describing the functionality of the Bitcoin blockchain network, in 2009 the first block of the Bitcoin blockchain network was mined. Since then, Bitcoin trading and the crypto industry as a whole have evolved at a rapid rate, with an estimated 320 million crypto users globally in 2022.
With both technology and the crypto industry evolving at an accelerated rate, we ensure that we recommend the latest innovations regarding crypto trading. With the Immediate Bitwave trading platform, the newest technology has been used to ensure the most efficient, up-to-date cryptocurrency trading will be done on your behalf. The Immediate Bitwave website is kept updated to ensure it aligns with the evolution of the crypto industry.

Version Release Date Notes
1.0 Launch 18/06/2018 Pilot Launch of Immediate Bitwave
1.4 23/04/2019 CFD, Leverage and Margin trading introduction
1.7.5 03/09/2019 Open Registration. CySEC Licensing acquired
2.1 19/01/2020 Inclusion of AI and API access for traders
2.5 12/07/2020 First Crypto/Crypto trading pairs introduced
3.0 Beta 24/09/2020 Beta Programme
4.1 30/01/2021 Demo account feature introduced. Fiat onboarding added – Visa, MasterCard
4.8.2 19/02/2021 Forex and Stocks added
5.2.5 03/05/2021 24/7 Customer Care Department Opened
5.7.3 17/11/2021 Further addition of trading pairs including USDT pairs
Having actively tested Immediate Bitwave, I’ve been witness to its remarkable evolution through key versions. The initial launch, version 1.0 on 18/06/2018, marked the exciting Pilot Launch, setting the stage for its growth. Version 1.4 on 23/04/2019 introduced a pivotal feature – CFD, Leverage, and Margin trading – diversifying trading strategies. Subsequently, version 1.7.5 on 03/09/2019 ushered in a broader audience through Open Registration and a significant milestone of CySEC Licensing acquisition. Version 2.1 on 19/01/2020 elevated the platform by enabling AI and API access for traders, enhancing trading sophistication. The introduction of the first Crypto/Crypto trading pairs was a standout in version 2.5 on 12/07/2020, bolstering trading opportunities. Version 3.0 Beta on 24/09/2020, known as the Beta Programme, showcased a refined user experience. Version 4.1 on 30/01/2021 marked the introduction of Demo accounts and convenient fiat onboarding, empowering users through Visa and MasterCard. Version 4.8.2 on 19/02/2021 presented a major enhancement – the inclusion of Forex and Stocks, broadening the asset spectrum. The establishment of a 24/7 Customer Care Department in version 5.2.5 on 03/05/2021 emphasised user support. Lastly, version 5.7.3 on 17/11/2021 expanded trading opportunities with the addition of further trading pairs, notably featuring USDT pairs.

Immediate Bitwave And Celebrities

The mind behind Amazon, Jeff Bezos, has dropped a little hint about the notion of bringing cryptocurrency payments into the Amazon realm, but he’s not giving his blessing to Immediate Bitwave. Even though Elon Musk is quite the celebrity in the crypto news scene, he’s also not connected with Immediate Bitwave

Our Conclusion On Immediate Bitwave

Based on our comprehensive review of the Immediate Bitwave platform, it’s clear that this trading platform offers an array of unique features, guaranteeing an outstanding user experience. For those aiming to profit from cryptocurrency trading, Immediate Bitwave presents numerous opportunities. This review delves into all the crucial aspects, equipping you to enhance your trading journey by selecting Immediate Bitwave.
Therefore, we confidently endorse Immediate Bitwave for any trader venturing into the crypto market. To begin, create an account and follow the aforementioned steps to secure your license promptly. Leveraging the full potential of the market and harnessing Immediate Bitwave, you can maximize your crypto earnings. We believe that the Immediate Bitwave review for 2023 has provided valuable insights on effectively trading with this advanced trading robot.

Alternatives To Immediate Bitwave:

Having substantial expertise in reviewing and testing various platforms, Coin Insider has rigorously examined Immediate Bitwave, and we are pleased to declare that it has exceeded our expectations on numerous fronts.
A distinctive highlight of Immediate Bitwave is its 24/7 customer support department, which renders it an outstanding choice for novice traders who might require assistance at any point during their cryptocurrency trading journey. Furthermore, Immediate Bitwave offers traders the flexibility to engage in transactions involving a wide array of cryptocurrencies, encompassing both popular and lesser-known coins.
As previously explained, Immediate Bitwave boasts an impressive array of features tailored to enhance your trading experience by maximising efficiency and convenience. If you still find yourself uncertain about opting for Immediate Bitwave as your preferred tool, we can suggest several other trading platforms such as Tesler Trading, Limmercoin, and Bitsoft 360.

Frequently Asked Questions About Immediate Bitwave

What is Immediate Bitwave & How Does It Work?

Immediate Bitwave is a new artificial intelligence tool that can predict market movements and capitalise on them. It makes a bot-style robot trader, which will analyse the cryptocurrency market and react to trends to make you money. By allowing it access to your broker's liquidity account, the Immediate Bitwave bot enters trades as soon as possible after its analysis algorithm deems them profitable based on current buying/selling prices - resulting in up to 24% daily returns.

How Much Profit Can I Make With Immediate Bitwave?

Immediate Bitwave's goal is to make sure that users have the necessary tools for managing their portfolio. They want you to be able intelligently choose how much risk and capital should go into a trade, while also taking care of other aspects like leverage or account size in order not get overwhelmed by all these variables which humans can't perfectly judge alone naturally without help from software algorithms. Never trade what you can't afford to lose.

Is Immediate Bitwave Free To Use?

Opening an account with Immediate Bitwave is always free, which can often be a great advantage to traders who don't have a hefty budget right off the bat.

Immediate Bitwave App - Is One Available?

No, there is no Immediate Bitwave app available. However, Immediate Bitwave is accesible via the web on any browser-compatible device.

Where Is Immediate Bitwave Available?

Immediate Bitwave is almost everywhere! This includes the United Kingdom (UK), Australia (AUS), and Canada (CA) as well as Europe (Austria (AT) / Germany (DE) / Switzerland (CH) / Holland (NL) / Poland (PL) / Belgium (BE) / Spain (ES), South & Central America (BR, PE, MX) and Africa (ZA). If your home is not listed above, you may still register via this page for Immediate Bitwave.

Does Elon Musk Or Any Corporations (Like Telsa) Use Immediate Bitwave?

Elon Musk is a vocal supporter of cryptocurrency and has been known to show his support on Twitter. However, there's no evidence that he or any other global corporations use Immediate Bitwave at this time. Many companies trade/store digital currency as an alternative means for wealth preservation in case fiat currencies fail them, including Microsoft founder Bill Gates who recently invested $25 million into Bitcoin through his venture fund called "Endeavor".

Do Any Celebrities Endorse Immediate Bitwave?

Bill Gates, Richard Branson and Dragon's Den panellists (such as Deborah Meadon) have been linked to cryptocurrencies. It is unclear if they are invested in them for wealth accumulation or simply use it because of its anonymity features which allow these high profile individuals to maintain their privacy from prying eyes curious about what they own. However they are not directl;y connected to Immediate Bitwave.

What Is Immediate Bitwave?

Immediate Bitwave represents an entirely automated trading bot employing mathematical algorithms to track the cryptocurrency market, aiding newcomers and seasoned traders in maximising their crypto trading endeavours.

Who Owns Immediate Bitwave?

Conceived by adept traders and mathematical virtuosos, Immediate Bitwave demonstrates their competence. Though the precise ownership of this trading bot is ambiguous, its comprehensive online reviews confirm its reliability.

Is Immediate Bitwave A Scam?

Dispel any doubts – Immediate Bitwave is entirely authentic and not a scam. Our comprehensive testing, backed by our established and dependable process, reinforces this truth. Our process encompasses scrutinising deposit and withdrawal mechanisms, registration protocols, KYC procedures, and customer support effectiveness.

Is Immediate Bitwave Fake?

Put your concerns to rest – Immediate Bitwave is genuine, not a fake trading tool. We've subjected the bot to meticulous testing with our reliable methodology. Our testing process includes experiencing deposit and withdrawal procedures, undergoing registration and KYC examinations, and evaluating the effectiveness of customer support.

Is Immediate Bitwave Legit?

Absolutely, Immediate Bitwave qualifies as an authentic crypto trading solution. Our meticulous testing process has covered every facet of Immediate Bitwave, ranging from the registration process and payment methods to its features, safety measures, and security protocols. This comprehensive evaluation establishes it as a credible trading tool.
submitted by coin_insider to CoinInsiderMag [link] [comments]

2023.12.04 04:05 democraticcrazy I'm doing an unmodded hardcore runthrough for steam achievements after years and years of modded play. It's fun!

Disclaimer: actually, some mods - the bugfix mod, a radio station, some more convenient FT markers, the underground hideout. Thankfully, none of that interferes with steam achievements!
The only downside is that I've taken to playing windowed mode - the frequent loading screen crashes forcing a full shutdown became too much. Now I'm almost fine with crashes...
I'm currently level 10 and aiming for a melee/explosives char. Don't remember my special but I just broke all casinos and got all implants, so high str, max end, 9 int and 8 or 9 agi, luck 6 after implant (I had so much trouble with blackjack I actually got this implant first, then all others). Survival is 75 and staying there, melee 42, guns 32 and unarmed ~30. Explosives maybe 20?
Anyway, I'm doing great with a modded GRA baseball bat, a modded cowboy repeater and a modded grenade rifle (skill appropriate weapons, I've packed away stuff like the pack based guns, as well as That Gun and Vance's 9mm SMG, or other high level guns I am not skilled for). I'm preparing to do Honest Hearts soon but will probably try and hit another perk and therefore lvl 12 first.
I've got to say, my strongest FNV memories are about mods like Project Nevada and World of Pain, but the base game is still a fun experience! I'm specifically going to do HH for the war club and the .45 pistol (which only needs 25 guns), afterwards I'll dip into the first bunker of LR and back out again. Then I have no plans, just running around doing good :)
Here's to enjoying FNV in 2023!
update a day later: today I killed Benny, finished the King storyline, reached lockpick 75 and got super slam and hit at least lvl 14 if not 15. I survived three Legion hitsquads (the trouble was keeping companions alive) but they are on hold now thanks to the mark of caesar. Oh, recruited rex, lily and carmen - only two companions missing I think.
submitted by democraticcrazy to fnv [link] [comments]

2023.12.04 03:48 ajinata84 Can't code anymore, like I'm just a shadow of my past

Ok, so this all started last year when i got my first freelance job.
TLDR at the >>>>>> mark below
Last year, i was looking for a job to pay my tuition, so i found out about freelancing. I quickly got my first job, and this was the brief description:
- Needed 2 people to work 40 hours/week for a month, 20 hours/week for next months (IMPORTANT DETAIL BELOW)
- NextJS, GraphQL, and so on...
so that was the brief description it was mentioned in the posting. it suits me because i was free for that month so i can do 40 hours/week (important, only 1 month).
BUT, what i did is NONE OF THAT STUFF. i tought i was going to be put in a team, not alone. and I DONT EVEN GET TO WORK LESS THAN 40HOURS/WEEK ON THE FOLLOWING MONTH.
What i did in the end was, i was asked to make a complex code to make a complex program. first thing on my mind when he proposed it to me, i was "alright, i can do it, but you(my employer) gotta support me (because he said so that he can)".
i thought i was going to be alright, but oh boy...
First month was okay, because we were just doing the basic stuff, the foundation and all.
the second month, was starting to get wild, because of LATE RESPONSES and NO FEEDBACK.
when i was starting to do the complex stuff, he didn't understand anything, i was like, alright, i'll make a drawing of the concept and report it DAILY.
first reports was alright, but the following was frustrating. sometimes he ONLY READS IT, or just react with 👍. i was frustrated so much that i got all the blame, details below
this is one of my comment last year on a similar post that i made, but have deleted, replying to a person who asked about miscommunication, this happened at 3rd or 2nd month or so.
i tried to communicate as much as i can. one day that i reported about something, he only asks some questions, and then i explained it... and then he's gone, the next day i put another report he's like "hey what is this? shouldn't we discuss this first" and like whaaat.. i already explained it to him yesterday, but he's gone. if i waited for him to answer my latest explanation like waiting for normal discussion stuff i would be just waiting and waiting... no progress at all and the same outcome, he'd get mad at me for doing no progress... i don't even know what should i do anymore, this is my first job, i don't have any experience whatsoever...
and then this last call, i tried to explain something, i tried to talk about something, but he just cuts me off that i forced to code the most basic stuff that is nonsense, i know it won't work but he just cuts me off... because i was really pressured that time, the code turned out to be stupid and he's mad at me again and he calls me stupid for that...
with that, and having to work 40hours/week is very tiring for a univ student for me. sometimes i dont sleep at all, sometimes i can only sleep for a few hours.
then, two weeks i didn't clock for 40 hours, after the first month, he mentions it and he threatens me, i don't know what to say.
the next days, i began to get fucked, from time to time, i get blamed all the stuff that i UNDERPERFORMED.
like, BRO, WHEN I NEED HIM, HE ONLY RESPONSED AFTER LIKE 6 HOURS OR SO, HE ONLY RESPONDED ONCE OR TWICE, THEN GONE AGAIN FOR NEXT HOURS. that alone, makes me underperform, having to do research ALONE, and progressing little by little. guess what, he said that i was underperforming.

December last year, i decided to cut our ties, after he was mad at me again. i knew this was toxic from when he can't really help me when i needed him, and so i got the blame instead.
TL;DR, Last year got a freelance job as my FIRST job, and asked to code complex project alone, then senior(employer) didn't want to cooperate with me and then taking all the blame to me because i underperformed. and finally, i decided to cut off.
alright, my background is finished, so i'll talk about the following months.
for the first month, i can't code at all. like what was i thinking that i'm pathetic, i just so bad at coding, fucking useless. and i didn't code at all that time. if im allowed to, i can boast that i was regarded as one of the best students to do code and stuff, my friends always asked me about complex stuff and all. but that was in the past,
next month, i started to code little, by little, only for my assignment and nothing more.
it stayed that way, i only code little by little until July, when i decided to take an internship, because of summer break, and i want to relieve my will to code again.
i took an internship at a company. and FINALLY, THIS IS PROPER WORKING. i got put and a team, got positive feedbacks, and good vibes all around. it was complete day and night between my first and my internship.
even when i do my internship, i can't code properly.
well. not like "bad" code, but whenever i code, i keep reminded that i sucked last year, i know i didn't but i'm so fucked that time, i'm so bad and all of that. and it makes me not focused to my work.
i got fucked so bad that my GPA for the even semester that time was below 2.5, for comparison my normal GPA is 3.5. my GPA tanked so hard that it barely reaches 3.0 after the even semester.

even today, i still can't code properly. i took breaks and breaks, because i can't focus at all, and between those breaks i keep reminded of last year.
any advice on this? because it keeps bugging me whenever i try to code stuff that i like, and if this keeps going, my GPA is going to dip below 3.
submitted by ajinata84 to mentalhealth [link] [comments]

2023.12.04 03:44 Ordinary_Nerve6893 WIBTA for cutting contact with my dad and his wife.???

I (25F) want to cut off contact with my father (48?M) and his wife (60?F) but I don't know if I’m over reacting. The question marks are there cause I don't even know how old they are.
A small back story, My father and my mother (50F) got divorced when I was 1 years old, they both got remarried when I was 4 years old. My step dad is the best real dad I could ever ask for and as for my step mom well lets just say it was a real life cinderella story.
When I started school I would go to an after school daycare until I aged out because my step mom didn't trust me at home, but once I aged out in the 8th grade she had no choice, thats where this story really starts. When I got home from school if I didn't haven homework I was to clean the house, that included the finish basement, living room, dinning room, kitchen, my bathroom, and even their bathroom. Have you ever cleaned a bathroom your dad uses.?? OMG so gross. I didn't have much homework cause I always did it during my free period at school, so id have the house cleaned by Tuesday or Wednesday. Well then I was told to clean it again. Every morning I had to get up and make sure their lunches and mine were made. Some mornings I had to make sure my step mom actually got out of bed to get ready for work. How stupid is that.?? A 15 year old making sure a 50 something woman got out of bed on time.
I was never allowed to stay up past 8pm even when I was 17 and in high school, and even on the weekends. I always got lectured for wanting to watch tv with my dad, or spending time down stairs or sleeping past 9am on the weekends. I never had any friends, never got to play outside, I only got one hour of tv a week, I was always kept busy with chores so I could spend time with my "family".
Even though I have been moved out for 7 years my dad hasn't every really talked to me and my step mom always but her 2 cents on my business and honestly I'm just over it. So WIBTA if I just cut them out of my life forever.???
submitted by Ordinary_Nerve6893 to AITAH [link] [comments]

2023.12.03 23:27 Jenthecatgirl Anger

[Trigger warning: reference to a gruesome death, little detail given but it seems important to mention]

I killed someone today, I haven't done that in a long time. Maybe if I keep telling myself that he deserved it, it'll make it easier.
Even if he really didn't.
She was an Oak, that one he cut down. Mortals, they need the wood. The tree spirits understand that. I understand that.
So why did I get so angry, why couldn't I stop myself? Why did I break his head open with the axe he used on her?
We had been together for nearly three centuries, surely that was long enough. Surely I should feel like we had enough time together. Surely I shouldn't feel like every bone in my cursed body is aching for her embrace again.
I feel broken without her, maybe I always was & she just let me ignore it. She'd hate me being like this. Unable to focus on anything.
That anger, I haven't felt it since I was mortal, those eons ago. Everything in my body screamed for revenge, & when I satisfied the urge, I felt nothing. Nothing but the pit of loneliness, heartbreak & something else, some emptiness I can’t quite explain
Maybe that's the burden put on us by this curse?
Maybe I should find the others, they'd understand. I can't remember their faces, but the mark should make it a little easier. I think the emptiness might be the cost. I never felt this way when I was mortal, sad? Absolutely. Angry? Like the heat of a thousand suns. But this emptiness? It's... different. I've felt emptiness when I was mortal, but it didn't feel like this. I can't explain it, but I'm sure it will drive me mad if I don't fill it soon.
I think she filled it before. That's why I never felt it before. I was enamored with her before he did this to us. Maybe her love filled the empty.
But it's gone now, I can only hope that the others found something to fill that emptiness. If they haven't... I hope there's a way to kill us. I do not like the idea of a loose, crazed, immortal. I will also need something to fill my own emptiness, I think my search will fill it for a short time, but there is only so much that curiosity can do.
I must not let my anger get the better of me again. The only thing that stopped me today was the thought of how she would react. That won't work forever. For now I shall sleep under oak trees. They will sadden me, but they will keep me calm. I will just have to deal with the grief.
The thought just crossed me. That emptiness I feel, I fear what it will lead to. Maybe I should also fear what the others will fill it with. If love could fill it for me, might some of the others have filled it with the devotion of others? Could they have sought out worshippers? Is this how gods are made? I hope not, I have dealt with the gods, they are more fickle then mortals, if one were to be created out of the curse? I shudder to think of what kind of god devotion & emptiness would create.
Perhaps I should find a way to kill the other cursed ones. But if I find one of the others seeking worship, I must be ready to keep a careful watch of the others. If one could not resist that temptation for a few centuries, how might the rest of us resist for eternity?
I do not like the idea of watching the others for eternity, but someone must. Our immortality could easily be taken advantage of, enough training & you could become a master at anything, the idea of a master of everything unnerves me. If one of us spent long enough lying to mortals, they might become so good that they trick themselves.
I must also be careful to keep from becoming known among the mortals as well. It would not be helpful if when I make sure the others don't seek out worshippers, I accidentally gain them myself. There already was a watcher goddess before, she may have died but people are annoyingly good at justifying anything they want. They may think I am her reincarnation or something of the sort.
I'm rambling too much, but this is a journal, I guess that's what it's for. That reminds me, I once met the deity of... librarians I think? They were one of the few reasonable ones. Anyways, they told me of the time one of their journals got lost & into the hands of a small cult, they took it as a religious text. That better not happen to my journal. Or journals? I don't write in this journal that often but even then, it's nearly filled. I guess I'll need more soon. Perhaps I should create a library as well, there are many books I had wanted to read, hopefully not too many of them have been lost to time.
That idea... It feels good. Perhaps I could create the greatest library in the world. I could dedicate it to her. She would like that I think. She always loved the books I bought her from my travels. I could build it out of stone, have scribes make copies of all the books & scrolls I find. Put some of the copies in vaults across the continent.
Perhaps watching the other cursed ones could be something I do on the side. This library idea sounds filling, it might even fill the empty. After all, there's not much point in making sure the others don't go insane from the empty if I don't make sure I also stay sane.
Yes, I have decided, that is what I shall do, I shall create a great library & name it after her. I will work to save as many works as I can, & I shall do it in her name. Dianthea shall become the best library in the world, I will work for eternity to ensure it. Dianthea was a beautiful Oak spirit, & I will make sure her name lives on forever.
[Something I wrote while I was offline for a while, I quite like how it turned out.]
submitted by Jenthecatgirl to Scribbles_of_Jenna [link] [comments]

2023.12.03 23:27 iwfan53 (Fanfiction) Slay the Princess, I mean Spire: Chapter Three.

Slay the Princess Spire
Chapter Three: She’s too much for me, but I keep coming back for more, she’s just the girl I’m looking for.

“You know, I’m starting to get real tired of climbing up stairs.”
“You think you hate it? At least you’ve had the chance to go down them.” The Princess countered.
The Knight paused, a look of consternation on his face.
He reviewed a reasonably sized portions of his relevant memories; they lead him to one inevitable conclusion...
“Huh, you’re right.” In each and every past event that involved the Princess navigating a set of stairs, they always involved her ascending them.
“Guess that’s something else we’re going to have to put on the list next to the bird and the tree?” The Knight added with a chuckle.
“I swear once we’re out of here, I’m going to find a set of stairs, and then I’m going to spend all day walking down them without ever walking back up!”
Having resolved his greater philosophical quandary on The Princess' relationship with multitiered architecture, the Knight resumed climbing.
“So, how do you plan to only walk down a set of stairs for an entire day? It’d have to be an impossibly long set of stairs.” He inquired conversationally.
“Or I could just climb on your shoulders and have you carry me back up it after I walk down.”
/What a splendid opportunity for us to show our devotion!\ Smitten cooed.
/This is boring, the stairs back in the cabin were never this long.\ Stubborn grumbled.
Luckily before the pair had to endure any more of the Knight’s internal monologue given external projection, they finally managed to reach the end of the staircase.
Sure enough what awaited them was another large room, though unlike the others this one didn’t have one occupant, it had three.
A trio of strange machines floated in the center of the room, each of them made of three distinct yet utterly separate parts. At the core of each of the machines was a sapphire sphere, while both above and below it floated a large beige pyramid about three feet tall. The pieces were each individually as wholly separate from one another as the machines were from each other, yet somehow it was hard not to think of each collection of shapes as one individual machine.
Alas the mechanical trio swiftly proved no more amenable to the Knight and Princess’ continued existence than the biological occupants of the Spire had. The one in the middle of the formation aligned itself toward the Knight, its central crystal pulsed with gathering energy and then released it in a beam of azure light that sailed forth fast an arrow, and blew a fist sized hole in the masonry where the Knight’s head had been a few moments ago.
If that wasn’t bad enough, the other two remaining machines began to release a wave of sound that was so powerful as to be almost visible. It wasn’t loud, instead it was a drone at seemly the perfect pitch to make one’s fingers twitch and teeth grind against one another in exasperation.
Hearing it made it hard to think straight...
“?gniod yeht era tahW” The Knight “asked”, discovering that the sound seemed to make it hard to “speak straight” as well.
“!dias uoy tahw dnatsrednu t'nac I” The Princess “replied”.
“Those machines they’re ...neddus a fo lla daeh ym htiw gnissem.” The Knight tried to get a word in edgewise but no sooner did the two outer machines stop generating sound than the middle one took over.
The reason why the other two machines had gone quiet (or at least quieter) was because they were starting to gather up energy in much the same manner as their companion had a few moments ago.
Even with the distracting background noise the Knight was able to guess what that meant and he started running, soon pursued by a pair of bright beams of energy.
“!teiuq eb meht ekam ot tog ev'eW” The Knight babbled in exasperation.
The longer the sound went on for, bouncing back and forth between the different machines, the worse it got. Not only did it become hard to think or speak, it was even hard to arrange his thoughts in sufficient order to act; to tell this particular limb that it needed to move in this particular manner. It was like he had to actually think about each and every twitch of his own fingers or toes, how could anyone possibly fight under such a burden?
As his conscious thoughts continued to fail him the Knight just barely managed to dodge the latest attack from the machines on pure instinct; to say better he managed to almost dodge the latest attack from the machines on pure instinct. There was a flash of pain in the Knight’s side as feathers and a few millimeters of genuine flesh were seared away.
That was when a new thought occurred to the Knight.
He didn’t want to die.
A simple thought, and yet shockingly he couldn’t remember the last time that he’d felt it, not like this. Death had never been an… enjoyable notion to ponder and yet in so many of his memories any sort of true terror at the concept had been eroded by the inevitable contempt that came with familiarity.
The worst part about dying had been the pain, because once the pain was over he’d just inevitably find himself on a path in the woods and at the end of that path would be a cabin. If he died right now though... somehow he doubted that it would lead to him simply waking up and having another conversation with the blue whale again, he wasn’t that lucky.
This was not what the Knight needed. Already having trouble thinking clearly, he didn’t want to devote whatever brainpower he had left to grappling with the sort of intense thanatophobia that could drive someone to split one god into two in an attempt to kill the concept of death.
You won’t perish, not while I’m here.” A commanding voice boomed out.
The voice blew the buzzing noises clear out of his head with the same degree of completeness that a hurricane would removes spiderwebs.
The Tower (Princess):
Card Type: Power.
Energy Cost: 1.
Effect, Active Princess: You cannot gain stacks of vulnerability, frail, or weakened. At the start of your turn before you draw exhaust all status cards in your discard pile. Gain two block for every card exhausted this way.Effect, Empty Shell Princess: Whenever you would gain stacks of vulnerability, frail, or weakened, you gain one less. At the start of your turn before you draw exhaust one status card in your discard pile.
Upgraded Version:
Effect, Active Princess: You cannot gain stacks of vulnerability, frail, or weakened. At the start of your turn before you draw exhaust all status cards in your deck and discard pile, gain three block for every card exhausted this way.Effect, Empty Shell Princess: Whenever you would gain stacks of vulnerability, frail, or weakened, you gain one less. At the start of your turn before you draw exhaust one status card in your discard pile or deck .
The voice emerged from a Princess who now stood something like twice as tall as she previously had been. The task of judging her height was made somewhat more difficult by the fact that she lacked the decency to plant her feet upon the floor; instead, much like the trio of machines she effortlessly floated in midair.
Even more strangely despite the room’s lighting being perfectly uniform in nature, it seemed to suddenly bend and break around her, leaving her face cast in a mildly obscuring shadow.
“You wouldn’t dare disobey an order from me… would you?”
“Do, not, die, yes mam.” The Knight eagerly agreed.
Then he suddenly realized that the two of them were able to have a conversation again. The thundering voice of the Princess seemed to have utterly drowned out the droning sound that the machines used to attack his senses.
/Tricks, metal things with tricks, that’s all these things are, no real strength to them.\ Stubborn scoffed.
The Knight’s eyes narrowed, and he could feel the first tender stems of optimism starting to wiggle their way free from the soil of fear.
He saw the way that the machine’s rotated, how long it took them to gather their energy before they launched it across the room at him.
/They like to fight from a distance, let's show them why we like to fight up close and personal.\
/We shall charge into the fray with determination only matched by the depths our love!\
Destroy them!”
The Knight rushed forward a single lance of energy striking the floor, kicking up a small blast of rocks in the process.
Then he was in among the floating machines, just in time to see the other two who hadn’t fired on him starting to warm up their weapons.
They began to floated away from him, but did so at a rather sedate pace, allowing the Knight to ensure they positioned themselves exactly where he wanted them.
The blue gems at the core of their beings flashed and discharged energy in perfect synchronization, but whatever mechanical or magical force animated them was far too slow.
With his mind free from distractions the Knight had already begun reacting to the attack even before it had fully started forming, and so he was able to tuck and roll beneath the pair of beams and avoid harm.
Having failed to strike their intended target, this pair of beams did not end up striking the floor, the walls, or even the ceiling.
What they struck was a pair of bright azure orbs.
The Knight had planted himself directly between the two machines, and the result blue on blue violence was truly a thing to behold.
The strange gems sizzled for a brief moment before a spreading spiderweb of cracks started to work their way across them… before with a sharp “KSSS” they went to pieces.
The twin large beige pyramids that floated above and below each the orbs promptly dropped to the floor, now seemingly nothing but harmless pieces of masonry.
/Making them attack each other, pathetic shortcut, we should have found a way to take them apart ourselves.\ Stubborn harrumphed.
/There’s nothing detestable in the slightest about harnessing a foe’s weapon and turning it to a righteous cause!\
It was a very interesting moral debate that the Knight very much did not have time to take part in at the moment.
His attention was solely focused on the final machine that still functioned; with none of its partners left to distract his attention the Knight was on it before it could even start charging its weapon.
As the blue gem did eventually begin to glow, a pristine blade was promptly shoved through one side and out the other.
There was another sharp retort, and then there were six pyramid shaped objects laying listlessly on the floor.
/The metal beasts don’t think. That makes them predictable, what’s predictable is vulnerable.\ Declared the third voice to return to the Knight’s internal chorus.
Voice of The Hunted:
Card Type: Skill.
Energy Cost: 1.
Effect: For the next two turns all characters lose five strength.
Upgraded version: For the next two turns all enemies lose eight strength while you lose three.
Rules Clarification: This effect functions in such a way that if you have an artifact buff when you play it to keep from losing strength, you will not gain additional strength later on. Nice try.
“You’re going to hate it here Hunted...” Predicted the Knight.
/I already do hate it here. Perfectly cube shaped rooms without even a single shadowy nook. No places to hide. Not only that, but the sheer uniformity… it’s brain deadening. Your mind stoops seeing the room, because it already knows what’s there. Except it doesn’t know, it only thinks it knows. Then there’s one tiny thing that’s different, and you can’t realize it until it’s too late. It’s murder by mundanity.\
/So you think it’d be better if things were even more complicated? Uneven floors, hidden blades popping out of the walls, poison gas being sprayed in our face? Honest combat is better.\
/There’s nothing honest about this place. It just wants to fool us into thinking it is so we stop looking. A gambler showing how empty his sleeves are so you don’t notice the cards are marked.\ Hunted retorted.
“By the way Hunted, I promise you don’t have to worry about me hurting you anymore.” Reassured the Princess who had returned to her normal shape and size, not to mention once more had returned to gravity’s inevitable embrace.
/Behold how passionately our beloved wishes to make amends for her past misdeeds! Truly the heart is a muscle which only grows stronger after being broken.\
/You don’t break muscles, you break bones.\ Stubborn demurred.
/This place is already getting to me... I didn’t even realize she was there. Wait… I didn’t even realize she was there?\
The Knight didn’t think it was possible for a disembodied voice that completely lacked any form of lungs or lips to preform a spit take, and yet that was distinctly the sensation that Hunted was giving him.
“We’ve talked things out and decided that we both have enough problems already. So we’re not trying to kill each other anymore.” The Princess reassured him.
“That’s right, we’re all on the same team now.” The Knight added just to make it clear that they genuinely were presenting a united front against the Spire.
/I’m not objecting. I could… I could always feel it in the past. Feel the raw killing intent that came before her physical attacks. Now, it’s not there anymore. The only other time I can remember her coming close to feeling like this was when…\
We remember.” The Knight and Princess declared in perfect and perfectly unintentional unison.
End Chapter.
AN: Sorry for the delay, I got caught up in doing family stuff over Thanksgiving weekend so didn’t have any time to write more of this. That and I spent a lot of time… playing Slay the Spire ironically.
Eventually however I managed to gird my loins and got down to writing the chapter you just read. With that apology out of the way, lets do more card talk!
On its own the Tower is a relatively niche card that might seem like it only exists to dunk on the Sentries (and possibly the Act 2 and 3 elite monsters who slip status cards into your deck, but because your deck is probably bigger by that point it is a lot easier to end the encounter before you need to reshuffle) but this is going to be another aspect of me not fully fleshing out the entire 75 cards pool for our Knight. I think a fair number of those cards would probably be along the lines of Reckless Charge which have effects who are undercosted energy wise but have the side effect of throwing status cards into your deck or discard pile. Tower thus allows you to use those cards without suffering negative side effects, because the Knight’s card pool is designed around the fact that the Long Quiet will always feel incomplete without his Shifting Mound and vice versa.
As for Hunted… I’ll be honest, Smitten I knew pretty much from the word “go” what I wanted, and Stubborn needed only a few tweaks because I wanted his damage output to be reasonable (the first few versions of him I created gave out laughably small amounts of damage if you didn’t have buffs running already) but Hunted actually gave me some trouble to figure out.
I originally created a version of him that was similar to Piercing Wail except the amount of strength enemies temporarily lost would be based on how much damage you inflicted on them the turn you played it, but that version was overpowered even for this card pool. Then I had another idea, but that idea was too similar to what I wanted to do with Broken (who we’ll get to see eventually). So instead, this final version goes back to Piercing Wail, but has the benefit of lasting for two turns instead of one, for the disadvantage of decreasing your own damage output on one of those turns (since you’ll probably play it last on the first turn).
I think it is a nice representation of how the Hunted talks about “the back foot keeps us nimble, keeps us alive” while Hero wanted something that would try take back the momentum, but Hunted was mainly focused on just surviving the next five seconds over and over again.
submitted by iwfan53 to slaytheprincess [link] [comments]

2023.12.03 23:13 Bubbles_345 The terms and factions of main story part 2 since it had too many words

First, I want to say that I am not sure if I understood the explanations right. So if I made a mistake then it would be nice for someone to correct them in the comments. So that I and others who read this post does not get confused. And if I missed something could someone also point that out in the comments? My explanations is mixed with a lot of speculations so be aware of that. And even I believe that my speculations will change in the future the more information we get about the lore of this game. I am sorry but this post will probably be very messy. Some of the writing is directly copied from the story text since I might not understand them well either. I have only written about things said in the main story, so this won't include lore from side stories. I feel like a lot of the things i wrote down were unnecessary, but wrote it down anyway. i also tried to write down which story clips each of the things I wrote down came from. I will sometimes write sources outside this game, because I lack knowledge of the incidents mentioned in the game. I would also be happy if others came with their own terms explanations in the comments since I can understand that reading everything would be tiresome.


The Storm: Information about the storm is not made public, so most people does not know about it. It is a phenomenon that plagues the world by forcing time to go backwards while erasing every time period it comes into contact with. The most common sign of the storm is that it begins as a normal huge rain pour with thunder and lightning like a normal storm. After some time the rain drops that fell rises up again from the ground and into the sky with everything else it touched getting taken away with it from people to buildings. In chapter 0 the raindrops that rose up came in different colors like pink, blue and yellow. I am not sure if it is like that for all the storms or if it is exclusive to that storm since we know the storms have differences in what causes they make. It would also have other effects before taking everything depending on the time periods it erased. In the 90s it turned peoples veins into cables, and in the 60s it turned everything into comic book drawings. Most people do not notice the storms effects, and will continue as if nothing is happening while they get swept away by it. Vertin saying it is just the end of an era implies that is how much amount of time erased from the storm. But I am not sure if that is true because an era usually is a long time period which means most of the 20th century would be gone by know, and this game promotes that they will focus on that century. But then again Vertin seem to be right in 1929 after the storm in 1966 so maybe an era is exactly how long of a time period the storm takes away. But it is not clarified if the storm erased the timeperiod between 1966 and 1929. Or if the suitcase had the power to teleport between time and space, and therefore actively went to 1929 on its own. The first storm happened in 1999, and the phenomenon has currently been looming the world for eight years. And It might have been triggered by the Y2K incident since the game mentions the Y2K in one of the game's loading pages. I am also not sure if everything gets erased by the storm or not. I mean that the ones who are not erased are still in the past, and just younger while not knowing that they got reversed back in time. But even Vertin is not certain even tho she has not met any of the friends she made in the future again in the past. However if everyone got erased, then the past eras that still existed could impossibly be able to function. And the foundation did not loose everyone in their staff outside of the headquarters just a huge amount of them. So even tho every prominent character that we met and were not arcanists gets taken away, I still believe that the storm does not erase everything from the era. Arcana accuses the Foundation of creating the storm. Constantine spoke of symptoms someone can get by getting soaked by the rain, probably before it goes upwards, from the storm. Symptoms gained by those who got soaked by the rain, but managed to return to the immune buildings before everything gets taken away are inflammation, decaying, deformation, or other diseases not mentioned. I wonder what would happen to any people that streched a body part outside the building while the rest of the body was inside like Vertin. Would they only loose that body part if the storm takes it away, or would they be fine. There is a theory i have that the Vertins encounter with the storm from chapter 3 happened in 1987. That is because we know important events trigger the storm, and therefore that storm must have happened in a important event that takes place after the 60's, when Vertin meets Regulus. And one event comes to mind that happens closely before the 27th of a month since that is when the storm in chapter 3 took place. I believe it to be the Supernova incident mentioned in the "chapter 0, stage 6" since that took place in 24th February 1987, which is just 3 days after 27th. (Chapter 0 story clip nr. 5 and nr 6) (Chapter 1, stage 13) (Chapter 2 stage 2) (Chapter 3, stage 12, stage 14) (Chapter 4, stage 1) (loading text pages titled "Modern Era" and "The Storm" )
The storm syndrome: It is basically the symptoms/mutations the world goes through before the storm arrives. Most people will not notice that they are affected by them like with the storm itself. In chapter 0 Vertin says that there were two moons in the sky during the storm syndrome in 1966, most did not notice this mutation like the storm itself. I mean it is not referred as the storm syndrome, but I am pretty sure it is because of the storm syndrom's definition being the mutation before the storm. In 1929 the storm syndrom made a lot of people perceive gold and cash as food, while real food was perceived as bricks and stone. A lot of people got diseases or death from eating gold and cash as food. Not only would they see real food as stone, but it would also taste and feel like they were eating stone. basically distorting all their senses. Which made it hard for the ones affected to digest real food even when it was explained by people who were not affected that they were eating real food. The storm syndrom's influence spreads further the closer the storm is coming. (Chapter 0 story clip 6) (Chapter 2 ,stage 5, stage 6 and stage 9 and stage 14)
Arcanist: Arcanum, incantations: Arcanists are considered to be much more emotionally vulnerable than humans. ("Opened Sandwich"). Arcanists are seen as unreasonable. They seem to have innate arbitrariness which I think means they are all born as naturally unpredictable and impulsive. X says that "the essence of arcane power lies in the intuitive insight into everything". He also says that arcanists generally do not like to use logical deduction based on awareness when making decisions. (Chapter 3, stage 1, stage 5) (Chapter 2, stage 13)
Critters: Mysterious creatures that exist in this world. In religious beliefs they are said to be creatures that did not take Noah's arc in this games lore. And it seems like arcanists are the ones who can encounter these strange creatures the most. (Chapter 2, stage 3). Certain types of critters like Carbuncles and Rubberados are edible, and used as ingredients in diners. (Trace"An advertisement from the ads page of Wall Street Journal"). Dryads are floating and ghost-looking critters who live by a tree's roots (Enemy description from chapter 1, stage 7). Carbuncles are parasitic on the dust, and all acts in groups. (chapter 1, stage 11). I searched on the definition of critter and found that it actually refers to any living animal, but that is obviously not the case in the lore of this game. They also mentions Wapaloosies in the story, which I searched on, and they are described as fearsome critters who can be found in Lumbers. (Chapter 0, stage 6). Imps are a type of critter in this game, and does not look like imps we see in mythology (Chapter 1, stage 4). The Shamir worm that are less than two inches are also a type of advanced critters, and considered to be incredible engravers. Shamir worms exists in real mythology (Chapter 3, stage 6). Olitiaus, sizes are 4 to 6 feet, and mostly covered in black, looks like manta rays, and generally great at flying. However Olitiau 4 is a type that cannot stay in air for long, because they are too dependent on water. Olitiaus are mostly found in the southern part of Cameroon. This is referred to as a critter and arcane specie confirming that critters are not excluded from being considered as arcane species, which I personally did not believe before. (Chapter 3, stage 8,) (Enemy description: Mutant Olitiau). Soumak is another critter species shown, their body seems to be transparent with pointy ears. And Matilda called them divination sprites(Chapter 4, stage 10).
Arcane/arcanum -creatures and -plants: It refers to any magical plants and animals aside including critters. Like unicorns and a mini Schnellgeiste. Cactus cat is either an arcane creature or a critter. Basilisk is also mentioned in the story, and while real lizard like that exist there also a mythological creature called by this name. Jersey Devil is also another arcanum creature mentioned in the story. Tatzelwurm are giant worms living in cages, and have toxic skin and breath. (Chapter 2, stage 4, stage 5,) (Chapter 1, stage 1) (Trace "Hatched Eggs") (Chapter 4, stage 11)
Sharpodonties: A type of currency only used by arcanists (Chapter 1 stage 5)
Psychubes: In lore it is described as a reflection of an arcanist's heart. It is also explained to be an arcanist's anamnesis, an element of arcanist's thoughts. (found in the text you can see in the background screen of Psychube collection in Atlas)
UTTU: "It is a renowned arcane magazine which have been popular across various eras, elusive, yet highly coveted" It is an magazine which posts news of the arcanum world.(Found in a post from Twitter over version 1.1 content overview )
Chaotic Energy: This term is one of the most confusing for me, so I am not sure if I understood it right. I believe it is energy that gets created from any time, place or event that occurs. It has become unstable through the years of accumulation and evolution. Which means it becomes more unstable depending on how frequent time, event or places that causes huge changes in the world occurs. X believes someone took advantage of its instability to create the storm. Turbulent history, new technology and community conflicts are examples of something that makes Chaotic energy unstable which may lead to the storm. It seems to have existed since the beginning of time. (Chapter 1, stage 14)
Original Butterfly: There is not much known about it existed in ancient time, but Lorentz believe in it after lookin at the latest research material. It is based on the butterfly effect which is a chain reaction based on small changes in the end becoming huge consequences. Lorentz believe that it caused the storm by the first "butterfly" flapping its wings which created the prototype of Chaotic Energy. (Chapter 1, stage 14)
Manus Vindictae's black slimes: It is a thick and slippery liquid substance consisting of unknown elements. At first I thought it came from Arcana's powers, but now I think that is impossible. Its seems to be something she at least can control, even if her powers is not the source of it. The slimes seems to be able to harden themselves, and shape into any form. Some of Manus Vindictae's creatures seems to be made of this substance like the final boss fight in chapter 2. I also believe that the Manus masks are made of it. APPLe was attacked by the black slimes and comments on it consisting of high concentration of toxins which made him mouldy.(Chapter 2 stage 2, stage 4 and stage 8 and stage 14)
Asymmetric Immune Protein G: This is an arcane antibody which is believed to have the ability to make anyone immune to the storm. Only arcanist's immune system have the potential to make the antibody, but currently only Vertin successfully got it through experiments done by the Foundation on arcanists orphans. (Chapter 2 stage 2)
The Guiding One: I put it in terms since I am not sure if it is a person or something else. So far I only know they are connected to Manus Vindictae. The guiding one seems to be the one who makes plans and send out instructions for Manus Vindictae. The guiding one is also the one who made the final boss creature which Arcana summons. (Chapter 2, stage 6) (Enemy description to Chapter 2, stage 14)
Wandmaker: Job title for those who make magic wands. (Chapter 2, stage 3)
Timekeeper: It is the title Vertin was given by the Foundation. It comes from her job which is to explore different time-periods and record them before the storm erases them. Vertin works also as an one fo many investigators for the foundation which is about rescuing wandering arcanists and humans. (Chapter 0, stage 6) (Chapter 4, stage 2)
Gnosis: It is the pathway to knowledge which arcanists believes in the most. It means that the model they use to process information they are going to use is called Gnosis. Its characteristics are that the knowledge cannot be verified by a independent third party, and it cannot be understood through reasoning. That is why gnosis is not taken seriously by the academic world. Arcane researchers probably use gnosis to study arcanum. Many arcane researchers uses methodological agnosticism because of the unpredictability of arcanum. I am not really sure what methodological agnosticism is, but the explanation I found was that it is about taking a neutral position from both religious and non-religious claims. The definition of gnosis given in game is also similar to the real one from what I read in other sites. (Chapter 3, stage 1) (48605 pdf. The Open University)
The artificial somnambulism therapy: This treatment is given to all patients who have stress disorder, and is done in the Laplace Rehabilitation Center. the treatment is done by using a machine that can make patients enter dream simulations to treat the patient. There is strange looking helmets used to connect the patient to the machine. A part of the treatment is about using increase the power of the machine to stabilize the pasient's psychube when their traumatic segment returns. I do not know 100% what traumatic segment means and can only guess it means traumatic memories. It seems that if the patient is not initiating any dreams themself then the healthcare professional will intiate dreams for them, and control when to shift over the dream the patient have to a new one. The machine used for treatment can also register the patients "psychube amplitude", (duplicate of a psychube in gameplay). The name artificial somnambulism might also be the name of the machine/device that is used for entering the dreams during treatment. It also seems like the machine is used for more than just therapy, but also used for training and examinations.(Chapter 3, stage 2, stage 13) (Trace " "timetable" of Laplace Rehabilitation Center Staff"). (Trace "Artificial Somnambulism Guidance (V.2.0.16))
The proposal of additional manpowethe draft of Storm Reformation: Manpower and Discipline: This was submitted by the delegate of House of Integratus, in page 28 section 3 of this draft it is written a plan that will allow Vertin to form a independent autonomous team or a department of arcanists she recruits, which is indirectly controlled by the Foundation. Vertin has the main responsibility over the arcanists in her team from how they generally behaves, to how they can operate in missions. The arcanists from timekeepers department are not required to take direct orders from the Foundation. But can gain indirect control over them through giving orders to Vertin who still works under them. However Mark and Z later on decides to revise the draft to be more agreeable for the other side who dislikes the draft. The change was that the responsibility of education and discipline of the unregistered arcanists Vertin recruits continues to stay with the School of Discipline. However Vertin's team is still going to be independent, and the unregistered arcanists Vertin hires does not need to directly follow orders from the higher-ups of the Foundation outside of Vertin. Constantine ends up revising the draft after being ordered to allow it to go through. Most of the changes she brought was the same ones Madam Z already put out.(Chapter 3, stage 5) (Chapter 4, stage 8, stage 16, stage 19)
Manus Vindictae poem: I write about this since it seemed very important to the overall plot of Chapter 3. I am not good with poems so i really do not know what it meant, but i can try to explain it. I think it talks about all the things that makes humans bad, and how they are not fit to rule an empire. Which would make sense with what there ideology. But I think the Vertin and the other students misunderstands it, and believes it is praising arcanists, and did not catch the part where they were insulting humans. But that only makes sense if my interpretation was right. (Chapter 3, stage 7, stage, 9, 10)
Animal Magnetism: I do not know what that is, only know it was invented by Mesmer Jr. 9x great-grandfather. I searched around and it seems to be based on a healing system based on the belief of the existence of a magnetic field that resides in all of us, and controlling it can give out some physical effects like healing weird, since the guy who found it is named Frank Anton Mesmer.(Chapter 3, stage 10)
Potion alchemist: This must be one of the most irrelevant things I took with me. Sotheby calls herself that. So does this mean that potion-making is a part of specifically alchemy ? I am sorry I do not know much about magic facts. (Chapter 4, stage 3)
Tchangues 1-07 Stable Release: It is an experimentation invention about artificial limbs created by using a mix of arcanum and human technology theories. I think i said that right, maybe not? (Trace "206th LSCC Seminar-Note")
Regulus'es theory on the storm: I am not so sure if this one was relevant, because it is made by Regulus on the spot after hearing APPLe's comment on the storm after X asks her about it. The theory is based on the string theory and the few information about the storm Regulus gained from the records X gave her. Regulus thinks that since Chaotic energy that is being made becomes more unstable there has to be someone who is made to intervene or improve the system by creating the storm. The storm is there to reduce the growth of the instability of the universe. (Chapter 4, stage 6)
Peace Policy: This one refers to one Foundation has, for the arcanists. And not the one which was about making reservations for native americans.(Chapter 4, stage 9)


Manus Vindictae: Considered to be an extremist terrorist organization that fights for a new world order where pure-blooded arcanist are the rulers/leaders of it. Humans for them are unfit to rule the world because they are easily affected by their greed and hatred. They have a racist ideology towards humans, and the mixed arcanists (only one of the parent is an arcanist). They also believe that they deserve a higher status while being treated as gods. Their plan is to make historic events happen sooner so that the storm arrives earlier.They want the world to reverse to an era with the right order were arcanists still had a high position in the world. Manus Vindictae have gained a lot of popularity, especially from arcanists who are tired of the discrimination they are subjected to by society and individual humans. Their behavior is also assumed to come from how pure arcanists brains is shaped in a different way. They also allow half-blood aracanists they consider special to join them. Their current leader is a woman named Arcana. Forget Me Not is also another prominent member. They seem to also have a base called the Sanctuary which is immune to the storm. Sonetto also mentions that Manus Vindictae was inactive for a long time when she was rescuing Regulus from some Manus rioters. Not all the followers of Manus Vindictae actually believes in their ideology, or detests humans that much, but only wants to be kept safe from the storm and therefore is willing to join them. I mean the guests from the storm gathering is an example of that, and so are the minions from stage 2-8. (Chapter 1 stage 8, stage 14...) (Chapter 2 stage 8,). (Chapter 0 story clip 3) (Trace "Manus Vindictae")
Saint. Pavlov Foundation: It is the most prestige official institution that works with anything related to arcanists. It works for peace between arcanists and humans by providing arcanists more opportunities to integrate into society and gain a better life through the charity they offers them. And has branches all around the world. The buildings in the foundations headquarters are not affected by the storm. I think it is better to make another post about all the departments that the foundation consists of. (Chapter 1 stage 2) (Chapter 3, stage 5)
Laplace Scientific Computing Center (LSCC): It is an organization who works together with the Foundation. They are filled with researchers who focuses on improving arcanum and human technology. The office is their only branch who is affiliated with the Foundation. Basically the only branch who can be immune to the storm by being located in the Foundations headquarters, is what I believe. But I might be wrong, and they instead also have there own base which is immune to the storm. The rehabilitation center Vertin is treated at seems to be directly a part of Laplace Scientific Computing Center. "The rehabilitation center is established to provide effective medical services and trainings to the patients, for their bodily functions to be restored". There are yellow buttons next to the fire cabinet in the rehabilitation center's hallway which will call on the security if it is pressed. A person who is found to be unresponsive or unconscious will be given a free wake-up procedure. They hold seminars where researchers introduces their current research which they will have a chance to get fundings for from the LSCC Funding Channel.(Chapter 1, stage 10) (Chapter 3, stage 3) (Trace "206th LSCC Seminar-Note")
Institutum Lorentz: A secret institution located inside the Scientific Computing Center office. They are however not a part of the Foundation or the Scientific Computing Center. Of course the members of this institution also works under either the Foundation or LSCC, but none of them have reveals it to anyone who is not a member, or is being recruited by them. I think their goal is to gain a better understanding of the storm, without being restrained in their research by the Foundation or LSCC. They mostly research on chaos energy of Arcanum, and secretly searching for the "Original Butterfly". They also try to foresee what the next trigger will be for the storm. They are only interested in recruiting arcanists who are curious and inquisitive.(Chapter 1, stage 10 and 14) (Trace "A Letter with Black Mucus")
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